Hartford, Conn., Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - A new study of the 34 million American adults who do not identify with any particular religious group finds that they now largely mirror the wider population in other aspects. However, the group tends to be young, male, politically independent and of Irish ancestry.
The number of “Nones” grew greatly in the 1990s. In 1990 they made up 8.2 percent of the population and grew to 14.2 percent by 2001. In 2008 they made up 15 percent.
The Nones were the only group to have increased in every state and region of the country during the past 18 years, according to a study released by Trinity College Hartford today.
The researchers’ category of Nones include those who are irreligious, unreligious, the anti-religious, and anti-clerical. About 59 percent is agnostic or deist, while a small minority is atheist. About 27 percent profess belief in a personal God. Some participate occasionally in religious rituals, while others say they never would.
Nones increasingly mirror the wider population’s divisions of ethnicity, income, and education levels. About 19 percent of American men are Nones, though only 12 percent of women are. Women are less likely to be atheists and to take hard skeptical positions. About 33 percent claim Irish ancestry, while 28 percent now live in southern states.
About half came from a family where both parents identified with the same religion, while 17 percent came from a family where neither parent did so. Only 32 percent of current Nones said they had no religion at age 12, meaning that about two-thirds were raised with a religion.
Around 24 percent of Nones identified as Catholic at age 12, compared to 26 percent of the general population, the report says. However, former Catholics make up 35 percent of new Nones, the largest single group.
About 22 percent of adults under the age of 30 self-identify as Nones. Professor Ryan Cragun said that if current trends continue, in two decades the Nones could account for about 25 percent of the U.S. population.
The study, titled “American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population,” was conducted by Trinity College Professors Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar. They were assisted by Professor Ryan Cragun of the University of Tampa and Juhem Navarro-Rivera of the University of Connecticut.
Researchers studied the results of the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) which questioned 54,461 adults in English or Spanish between February and November 2008. The survey claimed a margin of error of plus or minus 0.3 percent for the entire population.
“The secularity of the American public is undoubtedly increasing but the pace varies considerably between how individuals belong, believe and behave,” said Kosmin. “The overall trend is being pushed by men and the young but slowed down by women’s greater religiosity.”
Navarro-Rivera discussed their political leanings, saying “Politically, older Nones were often libertarian Republicans but the younger generation of Nones, born after 1973, has associated the Republican Party with the Religious Right and, as a result, split between the Democrats and the Independents.”
Dallas, Texas, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - A new Benedictine monastery was inaugurated in rural Texas on Saturday to be a “special presence” for the Vietnamese community and to proclaim hope to all.
The monastery is called Thien Tam, Vietnamese for “Heavenly Heart.” It is located on a former ostrich ranch of 300 acres, whose land was purchased at a cost of $1 million.
The new monastic community is an offshoot of New Mexico’s Christ in the Desert Monastery.
At the opening ceremony Bishop of Dallas Kevin Farrell spoke to the several hundred Catholics gathered under a big white tent. Most were Vietnamese-Americans from the Dallas area, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Bishop Farrell said the monks’ long days of praying and honoring God help those who do not have as much time. He said the monks can serve as role models.
"The rule of St. Benedict is also often spoken of as the virtue of moderation in our world, a world that enjoys excesses in every shape and form," Bishop Farrell said.
The monastery's new abbot, Fr. Mayeul Tran Van Thu, also read a thank you letter at the inauguration ceremony.
“We experience God’s grace and blessings as we attempt to start a new monastic house,” he said. “We are grateful to you, Your Excellency, for allowing us to open a new Benedictine house in your Diocese of Dallas. Your warm initial welcome made us feel right at home.”
“We hope to be a special presence for the Vietnamese community and also a place of prayer and hospitality for the priests and religious and for the people who come here,” he added.
The abbot explained that the goal of the monastic life is “searching for God,” quoting St. Benedict’s comment “Let us prefer nothing to the love of Christ.”
He also announced that the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been chosen as Thien Tam’s patronal feast.
The abbot expressed “deep gratitude” to Abbot Philip from Christ in the Desert Monastery, who was present at the inauguration. He also thanked all those who helped found the monastery.
The monks will wake before sunrise each morning and have six or seven prayer sessions each day. They hope to grow to 20 to 40 monks eventually and become self-sufficient. Initially, they plan to create a retreat which area Catholics could pay to attend.
"Right now, we do manual labor, mostly cleaning, and we are preparing a place on which to go garden," one of the monks, Fr. Dominic Hanh, told the Dallas Morning News. The 40-year-old was a monk when he emigrated from Vietnam to New Mexico with his parents in 1991.
He added that monastic life was good because he could “dedicate myself to God for life.”
Dom Bruno Corrado Marin, O.S.B., the Abbot President of the Subiaco Congregation, sent a message to the monastery for its opening. Noting its location in the “noble land of Texas” and the good will animating the Vietnamese community, he expressed “best wishes of fraternal closeness strengthened by prayer.”
He asked the Virgin Mary, “Queen of the monks” and Sts. Benedict and Scholastica to pray for the preparations of the monks so that they “prefer nothing to the love of Christ.”
The Abbot President prayed that the monks become “a presence of trust and a proclamation of hope to all people of our time.”
Vatican City, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, has encouraged an ever more “intimate union between movements and parish communities” so that Christian families can go from being “objects” to being “protagonists of evangelization.”
At the conclusion of an international seminar held recently in Rome, the cardinal explained that “the first step is in the experience of the personal encounter with Christ. We are called to embrace in faith the love of God in Christ and to live it in our relationships that we have and in the things that we do.”
Thus it is necessary, he continued, “to be bearers of His love to others,” which occurs when we “live the Word, the sacraments and prayer.” If the family lives in communion with the One and Triune God, then it has a special energy, joy, hope and love, Cardinal Antonelli explained.
“We need to bring the love of God and of Christ to all the dimensions of life. Like Jesus, who by revealing the love of the Father has revealed man to himself, the Christian family also, in revealing the love of God, becomes self-revealing,” the cardinal said.
“All Christian families are called to evangelize” through the activities of the Church and the local parish,” he underscored.
Springfield, Mo., Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - Health care reform must be based in the recognition of the basic dignity of every person, Bishop James V. Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri told his flock. It must also safeguard human life while creating “very clear” conscience protections for individuals and institutions.
Writing in a September 4 column, Bishop Johnston said Catholics should understand the principles at the heart of the “delicate work” of health care reform.
“The provision of health care is rooted in our recognition of the basic dignity of every human person, made in God’s image,” the bishop wrote, noting the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teaching that society must help provide health care.
Bishop Johnston also noted Catholics’ centuries-long work in health care, adding that one in six hospital beds in the U.S. today are in a Catholic hospital.
“Each person should have access to basic, affordable, adequate health care. This is a goal that should be supported by our nation. However, the goal becomes more complex because there is a variety of opinion as to what ‘basic, affordable, and adequate’ means,” he continued.
He emphasized that health care reform must not include policies that “deliberately attack human life,” such as provisions for taxpayer-funded abortion or euthanasia. Such procedures would be inconsistent with “truly legitimate” reform proposals, the bishop commented.
He quoted the U.S. bishops’ statement “Living the Gospel of Life,” which said the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders “suspect” positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful people.
Bishop Johnston then said that some procedures such as in-vitro fertilization, voluntary sterilization, sex-change operations and the provision of contraceptives should not be considered basic health care, because they are in violation of “the moral law and human dignity.”
The violation of conscience is a real threat, the bishop added, citing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s action against North Carolina’s Belmont Abbey College for removing coverage for abortion, contraception and sterilization from their employee insurance plan.
“This action sets a dangerous precedent and highlights the dangers that await if very clear conscience protections are not included in health care reform proposals,” the bishop wrote.
Discussing other concerns, Bishop Johnston said there are “thorny questions” about the role of the federal government and its duties to complement, not replace, subsidiary communities.
The government’s role does not necessarily mean that it should be the sole provider of health care, he added. Government can remove abuses and regulate the health care industry, and also ensure care for the working poor and “the most destitute and forgotten.”
“The essential element of the principle of subsidiarity is the protection of individual freedoms from unjust micromanagement and manipulation by the state,” he explained.
He concluded his column by saying he cannot support the current Congressional proposals because they do not adequately incorporate the “essential principles” he has described.
The Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau also encouraged Catholics to exercise their roles as citizens and to communicate with elected officials.
“May all those engaged in this issue craft a plan that provides universal health care that is affordable to all, distributes costs equitably, and above all, safeguards human life from conception to natural death and the freedom of conscience,” Bishop Johnston wrote.
Vatican City, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - This Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI will visit the Czech Republic, home of the martyr St. Wenceslas. In preparation, and to better acquaint the rest of the world with the Church in the Czech Republic, the Vatican has released statistics about the Church in the country.
The Czech Republic, whose capital city is Prague, has a population of 10,380,000, 31.7 percent of which are Catholic (3,290,000 people). Within the country are nine ecclesiastical circumscriptions, 2,576 parishes and 70 pastoral centers of other kinds.
Currently there are 20 bishops, 1,956 priests, 1,725 religious, 160 lay members of secular institutes and 1,109 catechists. Minor seminarians number seven and major seminarians total 184.
A total of 15,977 children and young people attend 79 Catholic education centers, ranging from the kindergarten to the university level. Other institutions belonging to the Church, or run by priests or religious in the Czech Republic include 50 hospitals, 98 clinics, 134 homes for the elderly or disabled, 59 orphanages and nurseries, 58 family counseling and other pro-life centers, 170 centers for education and social rehabilitation, and 28 other institutions.
Pope Benedict told the crowds gathered for the Angelus last Sunday that he hopes to bring a message regarding the importance of faith and hope to the Czech Republic, a country in the heart of Europe that has experienced firsthand the great tumult of the past century. The Holy Father also plans on honoring the memory of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who visited the country three times, by paying "homage to the heroic witnesses to the Gospel, old and new, and encourage everyone to live in charity and truth."
Vatican City, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - Soon Ireland will host the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, just as the Church prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Drawing upon that great contribution to the teaching of the Church, the theme for the upcoming congress will be, "The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another."
The International Eucharistic Congress was announced today by the Pontifical Committee tasked with organizing the gatherings. It will be held in Dublin, Ireland from June 10-17, 2012.
The first International Eucharistic Congress was held by Pope Leo XIII in Lille, France in 1881. Dublin has previously hosted a congress in 1932 under the theme, "The Eucharist and Ireland."
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin explained that the theme was chosen because the celebration of the congress coincides with the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of Vatican Council II. Archbishop Martin added that, the council was a “moment of renewal for the Church's teaching and for her understanding of herself as Body of Christ and Body of God," according to the announcement from the pontifical committee.
"The theme has its direct inspiration in paragraph 7 of the Constitution 'Lumen gentium' which reads: 'Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another. 'Because the bread is one, we though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread'. In this way all of us are made members of His Body, 'but severally members one of another,'" the statement continued.
Archbishop Martin suggested that the theme could be developed along the lines of such topics as: “communion with Christ as a foundation for Christian life; the Eucharist as a way of life for clergy, Christian families and religious communities; the gesture of 'breaking bread' as a principle of Christian solidarity; the Eucharist, seed of life for the world of suffering and fragility; and ecumenism and the sharing of the one bread."
The 49th International Eucharistic Congress was held in Quebec City in June, 2008, corresponding with that city's 400th anniversary of its founding.
CNA STAFF, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - Focusing on the positive ideas, people and happenings in the world today, Catholic News Agency is pleased to announce a new column titled, “In Good Company.” The column will be written by Catholic wife, mother and contributing editor to Faith & Family magazine, Rebecca Ryskind Teti.
Teti explained her motivation for writing the column, saying, “No matter what trials or setbacks we face, no matter what crosses we bear, we are never alone on the path of Christian discipleship.”
She noted that her column will be a “bi-weekly exploration of exciting pastoral initiatives, interesting developments in culture, moving Christian witness and occasional forays into literature to show that we are ‘In Good Company.’"
Teti’s column will be updated bi-weekly on Tuesdays beginning today. It can be read at http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=946.
Lima, Peru, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - In a homily Sunday at the Cathedral of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani said, “The most respectful manner of receiving the Eucharist is kneeling and on the tongue. We must recover the respect and reverence that the Eucharist deserves, because the love of Jesus is the center of our Christian life. The soul is at stake.”
During his homily the cardinal explained that this is the most solemn form of receiving Communion and those participating in the Mass followed his recommendation as they approached to receive the Eucharist.
He also encouraged the faithful to participate in Eucharist adoration in the more than 70 adoration chapels that have been built throughout the Archdiocese of Lima since the Year of the Eucharist, thus making the Peruvian capital a “Eucharistic city.”
“Lima is a Eucharistic city with more than 70 chapels of Eucharistic adoration, where the Lord is exposed and where you can speak to Him, because He listens to you and helps you. We need to adore Him and allow our hearts to be filled with the joy and the beauty of His wisdom,” the cardinal said.
Santiago, Chile, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - Father Jose Cardenas, the director of the Legionaries of Christ in Chile, has lamented the recent revelations about the order’s founder, Father Marcial Maciel, as well as the “pain and confusion caused in the Church and in society.”
In a written questionnaire published by the Chilean daily “El Mercurio,” Father Cardenas said, “The recently revealed facts about the private life of our founder seem incomprehensible and deeply sadden us. We cannot help but decisively reject them as contrary to Catholic morality and to the duties of the priestly and religious state,” he wrote.
He also explained that the desire and purpose of the Legion continues to remain the same: to serve the Church and society through education, evangelization and other apostolic works; and in addition to rejecting the scandal this has caused, they ask for forgiveness for all of the pain this caused the victims and the Catholic Church.
“As our general director has already done, we ask forgiveness of all those who have been affected, and likewise, we lament the pain and confusion caused in the Church and in society,” Father Cardenas continued.
He went on to note that the Legionaries in Chile are undergoing a review from the Apostolic visitor appointed by the Holy See, as are members of the order and of the Regnum Christi movement in other parts of the world.
Father Cardenas expressed thanks for the spiritual support the order has received from the Chilean bishops, clergy and the laity, which has helped them to look towards the future with hope.
“Father Maciel was instrumental in beginning the Legion of Christ and the Regnum Christi movement in the Church, and therefore we must be thankful. But it is also evident that he cannot be an example to us in these unfortunate events,” he said.
“This does not exempt us from discerning and conserving the good we have received from him as our founder. It is a good time to confirm our conviction that Jesus Christ is our center, our guide and our model,” he added.
Regarding the Apostolic Visitation ordered by Pope Benedict XVI and being carried out in Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela by Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Concepcion in Chile, Father Cardenas said Archbishop Ezzati is being received in humility, gratitude and total openness.
“We are thankful for his fatherly presence among us as the Holy Father’s envoy,” he said.
Asunción, Paraguay, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - In a reference to arms deals recently closed by Venezuela and Bolivia, Bishop Claudio Gimenez of Caacupe in Paraguay said this week President Fernando Lugo must completely reject a growing arms race in region.
The bishop called the buildup “an absolute continental scandal” that is causing a “chain reaction; an arms race, and we know from history that these arms races will end in gigantic cemeteries that end up as a reminder for humanity.”
Bishop Gimenez said Paraguay “must completely reject this arms race tendency as inhumane, and anti-gospel, we Christians would add.”
He went on to warn that an arms buildup would inevitably lead to armed conflict between sister nations with devastating consequences for humanity: with children mutilated, left orphaned and in hunger.
“Wars stem from human passions, from greed. They want what they cannot have and so they kill. And we war against one another at the family level, group level and then later between countries,” the bishop said.
Lima, Peru, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - During his Saturday radio program, “Dialogues of Faith,” Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima warned against using the media to fan the flames of the tensions between Peru and Chile.
“The best thing is silence and a greater intensification of internal relationships, so that as rational and prudent people, but with the truth—which cannot be put aside—we can dialogue. But not with this mentality of you buy one sub, I buy two. You buy one tank, I buy three. It’s amazing to think that in the 21st century we’re still speaking like this.”
“I think we need to cool down the arms race, lower the rhetoric in the media and reflect a bit more within ourselves. As we have said here, justice requires solidarity and dignity,” and not fanning the flames of passion, he said.
“Don’t forget that political campaigns have always found an ally in international conflicts. Anyone who wants to take advantage a political situation just creates international problems. This is old, very old. Let’s not foolishly fall into this, when both countries, one first and the other later, are about to hold elections,” Cardinal Cipriani said.
Speaking about the need for solidarity in today’s society, the cardinal pointed out that solidarity must be shown most especially towards the unborn. “All of humanity, all legislators, the media and everyone should manifest that sacred respect for the moment of conception,” he said.
Peru's Constitutional Tribunal is currently considering whether or not to legalize the morning-after pill, which in some cases can act as an abortifacient.
Commenting on the debate, Cardinal Cipriani said, “I find it hard to believe that you can express solidarity with your money while at the same time be handing out pills to kill the unborn, such as with the morning after pill. I find it hard to believe a person can callously manipulate lives and then be generous and show solidarity when it comes to giving someone a raise. I don’t understand. Stop mistreating the lives of the unborn and you’ll see how you begin to think differently,” he said.
Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Estanislao Dowslaszewicz of Santa Cruz, Bolivia is urging candidates of the upcoming presidential elections to carry out their campaigns “in a climate of serenity and tolerance” founded upon respect, peace, kindness and conciliation. “Let us live the Gospel,” he said.
During his homily on Sunday about Jesus’ words that the first shall be last and the last shall be first, the bishop noted that “politicians will be first if in the campaign all have the same chance to freely speak about doable proposals and to visit every corner of the country.”
Bishop Dowslaszewicz said politicians must be “merciful, sincere and do good, and thus the useless arms that surround us, the violence, the corruption, can be exchanged for bread so that everyone has enough, especially, as we have seen this past week, our handicapped brothers and sisters. Let us live the Gospel every day,” he said.
“Jesus shows us another way, that of the Gospel, which He himself traveled, He being God and the first in creation made himself last and a servant. May Jesus, who we hear in the Word [of God] and receive in the Eucharist, help us to understand that truth: he who wishes to be first, let him be last and the servant of all,” the bishop said.
Geneva, Switzerland, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - The present economic crisis may jeopardize development goals in other countries and could undermine human rights, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi told the Human Rights Council at the United Nations on Tuesday.
Archbishop Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent representative to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva, said the financial crisis shows the degree of global interdependence.
He added that the Human Rights Council’s current debate on the right to development is an opportunity both to strengthen international commitment on the right to development and to transform political will into “concrete action.”
Risks of deteriorating economies and social situations, even in wealthy countries, are resulting in increasing numbers of people suffering new forms of poverty, social exclusion and marginalization, he said.
Archbishop Tomasi said the Holy See’s delegation is interested in the U.N. task force which is creating a list of “right-to-development” criteria around the three components of “human-centered development,” an “enabling environment,” and social justice and equity.
Agreement on these criteria could be a “fundamental step” to place consideration for the human person and his inherent rights and dignity in development policies at all levels.
In development, the archbishop explained, the human person is not only a receiver of aid but also the real actor in his or her development and relationships among peoples.
He cited Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical Caritas In Veritate, which taught that man is “the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life.”
Further, he said the Holy See’s delegation believes the cultural component of the right to development must include the “ethical and spiritual dimensions” of the human person. The archbishop encouraged the endorsement of an “enabling environment” for the right to development and said states should remove obstacles to that development, such as human rights violations.
Archbishop Tomasi also discussed the Catholic social principles of subsidiarity and solidarity, saying they are “complementary.”
Subsidiarity “allows the participation of the beneficiaries of aid in the process of development through the responsible use of their freedom and talents,” he explained.
The archbishop closed with an expression of support for standards of social justice and equity that emphasize the moral dimension of protecting human rights and sharing development benefits such as access to food, housing, health care and employment.
He also endorsed dialogue with poverty reduction, debt transfer, technology transfer and other global partnerships.
“We believe that such work is laying the ground work for States and the international community to concretely reduce economic and social disparities, too often a cause of violations of human dignity and human rights,” he said.
Toronto, Canada, Sep 22, 2009 (CNA) - The CEO of Salt and Light Catholic television network has penned a tribute to the Apostolic Nuncio to Canada Archbishop Luigi Ventura, saying he was “not just another Papal diplomat” but a friendly “bridge builder” who played a “key role” in World Youth Day Toronto.
Archbishop Ventura, who served as nuncio from 2001 to 2009, was appointed nuncio to France by Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday morning.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., the CEO of Salt and Light and former National Director and CEO of World Youth Day in Toronto, said that the archbishop had helped Pope Benedict XVI in a “remarkable and admirable way.”
“He traveled this country from sea to sea to sea, tirelessly bringing the good news of Jesus and the message of the Church from the home office on the Tiber to the most remote places of Canada. He reminded us in season and out of season of the bigger picture: the universality of the Church.”
Fr. Rosica said the nuncio made distant friends and brought strangers together, characterizing him as a “real Pontifex, a builder of bridges in a world and a country that too often erects solitudes, walls and divisions.”
“He has been an extraordinary, gentle shepherd with a universal heart who conquered our vast country with his infectious smile, genuine goodness, pastoral wisdom, and common sense,” the priest continued.
“You first learned and then taught us over the past eight years, that the great power of papal diplomacy is the hand of solidarity it extends as a sign of fraternity and love for and with everyone,” Fr. Rosica wrote.
“You encouraged and strengthened your brother bishops in their difficult but important ministries of shepherding their flocks and remaining united to Christ and the successor of Peter in Rome. To the many hard working priests of this country, you were a brother priest, listening, chiding, challenging, encouraging, and thanking them for their dedication. To the women religious of Canada you were a brother. And to the tens of thousands of young people who had the privilege of meeting you, and enjoying your warm, Italian hospitality in the Ottawa Nunciature that you called Peter’s House, you lived up to your name of Nuncio of World Youth Days.
“We thank God for the gift of Luigi Ventura,” Fr. Rosica added. “Thank you, Don Luigi for being a Good Shepherd in Canada for the past eight years. Thank you for being a servant of Christ, a servant of the faithful, and servant of all. Another great man of Brescia, Pope Paul VI, Papa Montini once said: Diplomacy is the art of making peace. Those words describe you very well.