Charleston, S.C., Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - Three new bells intended for the bell tower of the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina will be blessed by Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone on Thursday.
A press release from the Diocese of Charleston said that the blessing is a “meaningful event in the life of a church,” especially so for a cathedral.
“Church bells add the physical dimension of sound to the life of a Christian,” the diocese explained. They mark happy and sad occasions with the reminder to the Faithful that Christ is with them.”
The bells are named in honor of saints who have a special significance for the Diocese of Charleston: Mary, Star of the Sea, St. Finbar and St. Therese.
The bells will be blessed and crowned with flowers on the lawn of the cathedral immediately after the 12:05 Mass.
Construction will soon begin on the bell tower of the cathedral.
The Diocese of Charleston was founded in 1820 and encompasses the state of South Carolina.
Washington D.C., Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - Noting the “critical juncture” of the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Bishop of Albany Howard J. Hubbard has written to the United States government’s National Security Advisor about the necessity of just restraint in warfare, the need to address the “root causes” of terrorism, and Catholic Relief Services’ experience in the region.
Bishop Hubbard’s October 6 letter to the National Security Council’s General James L. Jones, USMC (Ret.) was written on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace.
“While we are pastors and teachers and not military experts, we can share Catholic teaching and experience which may help inform various policy choices,” Bishop Hubbard wrote, noting that the Obama administration is reviewing U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
The bishop’s letter referenced their pastoral message “Living with Faith and Hope after September 11.” He repeated its principles concerning restrained use of military force and the protection of civilians, focused attention to the “root causes” of terrorism instead of giving a solely military response, and encouragement of international collaboration to provide humanitarian assistance and to rebuild Afghanistan.
“We observe that some military leaders now share the view that the success of U.S. operations in Afghanistan cannot come from military measures alone,” the letter continued.
The bishop urged the administration to review the use of military force and to ensure that its use is proportionate and discriminate. He also asked that criteria be developed to determine when it is appropriate to end military action in Afghanistan.
The letter advised more focus on diplomacy, humanitarian assistance, and long-term development such as agricultural programs. It further counseled the strengthening of local governance and the increase of local groups’ participation in development.
While acknowledging the importance of security, Bishop Hubbard’s letter said that “too much development assistance” appears to be directed to short-term security objectives or channeled through the military. The bishop claimed that these funds are less effective in building stable communities and meeting the needs of Afghans.
Bishop Hubbard also noted that Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been working in Afghanistan since 1998 on projects in agriculture, water, income generation and health.
He praised CRS’ ability to develop local partnerships and said the agency’s approach exemplifies how long-term efforts can both create sustainable development and contribute to improved security.
Honolulu, Hawaii, Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) -
Relics of the newly canonized St. Damien de Veuster, the Leper Priest of Molokai, will be presented for veneration by the faithful in Detroit, San Francisco and near Oakland, California as the Bishop of Honolulu carries them back to Hawaii.
The nineteenth century Belgian priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary ministered to those isolated to the Molokai leper colony in Hawaii. After sixteen years in service to them, he died of leprosy at the age of 49.
His canonization took place on Sunday.
"Not without fear and loathing," Pope Benedict XVI remarked at the canonization, "Father Damien made the choice to go on the island of Molokai in the service of lepers who were there, abandoned by all. So he exposed himself to the disease of which they suffered.
“With them he felt at home. The servant of the Word became a suffering servant, leper with the lepers, during the last four years of his life."
"To follow Christ, Father Damien not only left his homeland, but has also staked his health so he, as the word of Jesus announced in today's Gospel tells us, received eternal life."
The figure of Father Damien, Pope Benedict added, "teaches us to choose the good fight –not those that lead to division, but those that gather us together in unity."
The priest’s remains were returned to Belgium in 1936.
According to the Diocese of Honolulu's website, Bishop Larry Silva is taking the relic of the Hawaiian saint to three locations on his way back from the canonization in Rome. St. Damien's relic will stop at Detroit's Blessed Sacrament Cathedral from Tuesday to Wednesday, St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco on Thursday evening and St. Joseph's Basilica in the Oakland diocese on Friday. Bishop Silva will arrive with the relic in Honolulu on Saturday.
In addition to hosting the relic, St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco will host a daytime performance of the one-man play “Damien,” written by Aldyth Morris and performed by Casey Groves.
For more information on the opportunities to venerate the relic of St. Damien, visit, http://www.fatherdamien.com/Oct 2009 itinerary.pdf
Vatican City, Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI focused his Wednesday general audience address on the twelfth-century Abbot of Cluny Peter the Venerable. Peter the Venerable, he explained to the 20,000 pilgrims, “constituted the ideal of a monk, but also of every Christian who wants to become a true disciple of Christ” in today's fast-paced world.
Born in 1094 in Auvergne, France, Peter the Venerable was elected as Abbot of Cluny in 1122. Peter, the Pope said, "found himself having to guide Cluny in years that were far from peaceful for internal and external reasons."
Despite his pressing responsibilities and frequent travels in the service of the Church, Peter maintained a contemplative spirit, deep inner tranquility, rigorous asceticism and a capacity for warm friendships.
"Those who knew him exalted his righteousness, loyalty, elegance and special ability to mediate," the Holy Father recalled. The abbot was "ascetic and strict with himself and understanding with others."
Pope Benedict also recounted some of the monk's sayings, such as, "more can be obtained from man through tolerance than complaint" and “With those who hate we should always be peaceful."
"We might say that this holy abbot is an example for the monks and the Christians of our time, marked by a frenetic pace of life, where incidents of intolerance and lack of communication, division and conflicts are far from rare,” the Pope offered. “His witness invites us to unite our love for God with love for neighbor, and never to cease creating bonds of fraternity and reconciliation."
Abbot Peter also had a talent for writing literature, Benedict XVI recalled, saying that, "Although Peter was not a theologian, he was nonetheless a great investigator of the mystery of God. His theology had its roots in prayer, especially liturgical prayer.”
Peter, he added, left "enlightened writings on Mary and her collaboration in the Redemption" and among the mysteries of Christ, this monk preferred that of the Transfiguration, which prefigures the Resurrection.
For Peter the Venerable the ideal for monks to follow "consists in 'tenacious adherence to Christ' through…silent contemplation and constant praise of God."
This abbot’s example, the Pope concluded, ultimately was "a lifestyle that, combined with daily work, constituted the ideal a monk’s life, but also of every Christian who wants to become a true disciple of Christ, characterized by their own tenacious adherence to Him through humility, hard work and a capacity for forgiveness and peace.''
In his Italian-language greeting, the Holy Father addressed these words to young people, the sick and to newlyweds: “Dear ones, we celebrate tomorrow the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church. May this great saint bear witness for you, dear young people, that authentic love cannot be separated from truth. May she help you, dear sick, to understand that the cross of Christ is the mystery of love that redeems human suffering. For you, dear newlyweds, may she be a model of fidelity to God, who entrusts to each of us a special mission.”
Washington D.C., Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - Chris Korzen, Executive Director of Catholics United, a non-profit organization that has consistently supported President Obama's policies, released a statement yesterday thanking Senator Olympia Snowe for being the only Republican to vote in favor of the Finance Committee health care bill. However, the U.S. Catholic bishops remain far from comfortable with the legislation.
Early on Tuesday afternoon, the self-proclaimed pro-choice Snowe (R-Maine) announced she would vote "yes" to send Senator Baucus' health care reform bill to the floor for a vote by the full Senate. The bill was approved in committee by a 14-9 margin.
Nevertheless, the Maine senator maintained that she may not support the bill in its final version and that her vote was unnecessary for the Finance Committee’s measure to progress. Unlike other bills, the Baucus bill has no government-sponsored insurance plan and no requirement that employers must offer health coverage.
The Finance Committee bill has come under fire, like the other reform proposals, for its lack of clarity on issues that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) considers deal breakers. The bishops' conference insists that no one should be forced to pay for or participate in an abortion, that health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable and that the needs of legal immigrants are met.
However, Catholics United said in its statement, "We wish to offer our sincere gratitude to Senator Snowe for her courageous vote. By her actions today, Senator Snowe has shown once again that she believes making sure all Americans have access to quality affordable health care is more important than engaging in the politics of obstruction and division."
"People of faith in general, and Catholics in particular, believe that universal health care ranks among the [sic] our nation's most urgent moral priorities. Throughout this debate, Senator Snowe has proven a crucial ally in the fight for health care reform – especially in the area of health insurance affordability," Korzen wrote.
Because of her position on the matter, Catholics United said, "We applaud Senator Snowe for her ongoing efforts, and are proud to stand behind her as we move toward passage of this historic legislation."
Last week, and again yesterday afternoon, the USCCB reaffirmed its commitment to "working with Congress and the Administration toward genuine health care reform," but stated that if final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill."
According to several USCCB spokespersons who analyzed the bill yesterday, the Finance Committee bill praised by Korzen still fails to allay their concerns. In fact, the bishops have noted, "amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes."
Vatican City, Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - During his remarks at the Synod of Bishops of Africa taking place at the Vatican, the Director of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), Jacques Diouf, rejected the myth that the increase in hunger is directly related to the increase in world population.
In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s Permanent Observer at the FAO, Archbishop Renato Volante, said Diouf made his remarks in response to a question posed to him by the synod fathers.
Archbishop Volante said this myth is “certainly a false problem.”
Already in 1996, he reminded, John Paul II clearly pointed out: “It would an illusion to think that an arbitrary stabilization of world population could directly resolve the problem of hunger.”
Thus, Archbishop Volante said, “Mr. Diouf clearly and synthetically repeated the same concept: it is not the amount of people that creates hunger in the world.”
What creates hunger, he said, “is the lack of water, the differences between an opulent world that throws food away, and a poor world that has no food; it is the scandal of the destruction of food in rich countries that cannot be donated to countries suffering from hunger because of legal reasons.”
These “are the elements that create hunger in the world, and not the population,” Archbishop Volante said. “And these elements must often be attributed to the lack of solidarity and to the selfishness of many of us.”
Hagatna, Guam, Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Anthony Sablan Apuron, OFM Cap., issued a pastoral letter on Oct. 14 stating that the Guam Legislature “will forfeit its moral authority to continue to govern this island” if it passes a bill providing homosexual unions with the same benefits as married couples.
“As a bishop of the Catholic Church, I cannot remain silent about the efforts being made in the Guam Legislature which are a complete contradiction of the teaching regarding marriage that the Church has received from the Lord,” said the archbishop, in reference to Bill 185, which would provide health and tax benefits to same-sex couples who enter into a domestic partnership.
In the letter, dated Oct. 7 but released on Wednesday, Archbishop Apuron said Bill 185 “redefines the meaning of marriage” and promotes a homosexual lifestyle. He described the legislation as “doubly destructive because it encourages a lifestyle that is intrinsically unhealthy.”
“Laws in favor of homosexual unions are contrary to right reason because they confer legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, to unions between persons of the same sex,” Apuron wrote.
He also explained that “every humanly-created law is legitimate only insofar as it is consistent with the natural moral law, recognized by right reason, and insofar as it respects the inalienable rights of every person.”
If the state passes the bill into law, Archbishop Apuron warned that it will fail in its “duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the common good.”
The Archbishop of Agaña –whose jurisdiction encompasses Guam and other U.S. Pacific islands—also addressed the issue of the separation of Church and State in his letter, saying that “the Catholic Church has the right and duty to address moral issues in the public square.” The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, he noted, “does no more than simply forbid the establishment of the state religion.”
Archbishop Apuron closed his letter by calling on “Catholics and all others of good will to join with me in making our voices heard in the deliberations of our legislature.” He also asked Catholics to sign a petition sponsored by the archdiocese “so that those senators who desire to do the right thing for Guam will know that they are not alone.”
Archbishop Apuron’s full letter is available at: http://www.pacificnewscenter.com/images/pdf/archletter.pdf
Madrid, Spain, Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - Corporal Cristo Ancor Cabello Santana, the latest Spanish soldier to die in Afghanistan, fulfilled his wish to be baptized before dying. Cabello had asked the chaplain at the Herat Base to baptize him and was planning on receiving the sacrament last weekend before being wounded in a Taliban attack.
The chaplain wanted to use a baptismal shell being sent from Madrid to administer the sacrament, but Cabello told him he already had one from when he made a pilgrimage to Santiago in Spain. The chaplain used his shell and administered the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation before Cabello died on October 7. Two days later his remains arrived in Spain.
The 25 year-old corporal was a new father, and fell victim to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, where he was serving as part of security patrol force.
According to the Spanish paper La Razon, Archbishop Juan del Rio Martin of the Military Archdiocese praised Cabello at his funeral for his service to the military and for his tour with the Spanish military in Lebanon, which earned him the Medal of the United Nations.
He said Cabello gave his life “for the noble ideals of the military” and helped Spain to stand up with other free and democratic nations to address grave international problems.
The archbishop expressed his condolences to Cabello’s family and friends, underscoring that his death represented “a seed of freedom.”
Cabello entered the military in 2003 and was sent as part of the Spanish contingent in the war against the Taliban.
Zaragoza, Spain, Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - Officials in the Spanish town of Zaragoza confirmed this week that Monday’s celebration of the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar was the largest in history, with some 450,000 faithful passing before the venerated statue that represents the country’s most popular Marian devotion.
The Spanish newspaper La Razon quoted city official Jeronimo Blasco, who said, “The traditional flower offerings to Our Lady of the Pillar were the longest and largest in history: they lasted eleven hours, from seven-thirty in the morning to six-thirty at night, with some 450,000 who came to place flowers before the monument.”
Good weather and the long weekend made the large numbers possible, the newspaper reported, adding that many immigrant groups, from Africans to Japanese, also came to express devotion to the Blessed Mother.
“More than 400 groups took part in the procession, with some 25,000 people moving through the line per hour, leaving more than seven million flowers at the feet of the patroness of Spain. Even the heavens rained down flowers as two planes from the Royal Air Club of Zaragoza dropped petals from the sky,” La Razon said. Two F-18s from the Spanish military performed a fly-over as well.
A special Mass was celebrated at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar by Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, Archbishop of Santo Domingo.
Lima, Peru, Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Filippo Santoro of Petropolis, Brazil said this week Christianity “is not an ideology” but an “event that affects one’s life and fully transforms it.”
Bishop Santoro spoke to CNA on the occasion of the ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation celebrating its 25th anniversary of arriving in Rio de Janeiro.
The Brazilian bishop, who was involved in bringing the movement to Brazil, reflected on the way that the movement strives to follow Christ.
Christianity, he said, is not only “a correct theory, nor a moral code or form of worship,” but rather it is something that transforms the lives of people and makes them “more humane and fills them with delight.”
Bishop Santoro explained that the impetus to bring about the transformation and liberation of the world arises out of Christians seeking to live in friendship with Jesus like the Apostles did.
The anniversary of Communion and Liberation being established in Rio should serve as an invitation to live “in fidelity to the charism,” the bishop said, and to carry out one’s daily tasks in joyful service to the Church.
Washington D.C., Oct 14, 2009 (CNA) - Responding to the Senate Finance Committee’s passage of a proposed health care reform bill, officials with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops say the bishops will have no choice but to oppose the bill. They cite the legislation’s shortfalls in health coverage and its lack of prohibitions on abortion funding.
By a 14-9 vote on Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee approved its version of a health care reform bill. All the committee’s Democrats voted in its favor, as did Sen. Olympia Snow (R-Maine).
A Wednesday press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reiterated the bishops’ position that policies against abortion funding and protective of conscience rights must be in the bill.
The bishops also said health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable, while the needs of legal immigrants and their families should also be met.
Kathy Saile, Director of the USCCB Office of Domestic Social Development, said the USCCB remains hopeful that “problematic provisions” can be worked out.
“But time is running short and if the provisions are not fixed, the bishops have been clear that they will have no choice but to oppose a final bill,” Saile continued. “The stated purpose of pursuing health care reform was to provide those without health care coverage access to quality and affordable health care. There is real doubt that this bill will achieve that goal.”
Richard Doerflinger, Associate Director of the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said that no current health care bill approved by committee is consistent with “longstanding and widely supported” policies on abortion and conscience rights.
Reporting that some have made “misleading comments” about abortion funding in proposed health care legislation, Doerflinger said that the Senate Finance Committee’s bill and other bills appropriate their own funds and are outside the scope of the Hyde Amendment.
The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for almost all abortions, applies to the annual funding appropriations for the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Kevin Appleby, USCCB Director of Migration and Refugee Policy, charged that the bill falls “well short” of the goal of significantly reducing the number of uninsured Americans.
“As passed out of the Finance Committee, millions of legal immigrants and their families would be left outside the system, dependent on emergency rooms for their primary care,” he said.
In an October 8 letter, the USCCB pledged to work “tirelessly” to remedy what it saw as the “central problems” of the bill.
To become law, the bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee must now pass the full U.S. Senate and then be reconciled with any version passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.