Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - This week Archbishop Victor Sanchez Espinoza of Puebla in Mexico City denounced those who “profit from poverty,” emphasizing the suffering that poverty causes. He also called on society to “watch over the poor,” as “charity is the greatest act humanity can make.”
“Poverty is a situation that harms everyone, and all sectors should work and strive to combat it, including the State, the private sector and the Church. This phenomenon must be combated jointly,” the archbishop said.
Asked about the failure of social policies, Archbishop Sanchez Espinoza said he did not have all the facts about the extent of such failures but that “if these social programs have not been efficient, they need to be restructured.”
Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will mark its 50th anniversary on Nov. 20, closing a year of pilgrimages and plenary indulgences.
The Jubilee has been celebrated for an entire year before the actual anniversary, in keeping with Church tradition. According to the Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI granted a plenary indulgence for the period of the Jubilee.
The Basilica had hosted Pilgrimage Saturdays on the third Saturday afternoon of each month beginning in February 2009 and ending this November. Participants are guided on “pilgrimage” to select chapels and oratories of the Basilica, joining in litanies, devotions, and songs in honor of the Virgin Mary.
An Anniversary Exhibit opened in September at the Basilica’s Memorial Hall to present photographs, artifacts and memorabilia of the Basilica’s history, including its construction. The exhibit will be on display until November.
Just as the Basilica opened its 1959 dedication with a Triduum, it will celebrate the close of its Jubilee Year with a Triduum. The three-day celebration will begin on Thursday, Nov. 19 with the Plenary Mass of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at 5 p.m. It will continue through Saturday, Nov. 21 with the final pilgrimage event and will close with the celebration of Solemn Mass on noon Sunday, Nov. 22.
Blackwood, Australia, Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - The Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion has responded to the Vatican’s announcement of a new provision for Anglicans who wish to convert to Catholicism, saying his church is “profoundly moved” by Pope Benedict’s generosity. He added that the provision will now be taken to the national synods of his Communion.
In an Oct. 20 statement published on the website of the communion’s The Messenger Journal, Traditional Anglican Communion Primate Archbishop John Hepworth said he had been speaking with bishops, priests and lay people of the Communion in England, Africa, Australia, India, Canada, the U.S. and South America about the recent news.
“We are profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI,” Archbishop Hepworth wrote. He said the creation of the canonical structure for Anglicans was an act of “great goodness” on the part of Pope Benedict and his “cause of unity.”
“It more than matches the dreams we dared to include in our petition of two years ago. It more than matches our prayers. In those two years, we have become very conscious of the prayers of our friends in the Catholic Church. Perhaps their prayers dared to ask even more than ours,” the Traditional Anglican archbishop added.
He praised the “pastoral nature” of the notes released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and also noted that his fellow bishops have signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In that 2007 event, Traditional Anglican bishops signed the Catechism and placed it on the altar of the historic National Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk, England in order to attest to “the faith we aspire to teach and hold.”
The signed Catechism was later presented to then-Fr. Augustine Di Noia, OP, the senior ecumenical theologian at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Di Noia has since been consecrated an archbishop and named Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship.
Archbishop Hepworth also discussed the statement issued by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the most senior prelate in the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.
The statement shows that Archbishop Williams does not stand in traditional Anglicans’ way, he said.
“Both his reaction and our petition are fruits of a century of prayer for Christian unity, a cause that many times must have seemed forlorn,” Archbishop Hepworth commented, expressing gratitude to Archbishop Williams.
Archbishop Hepworth reported that the response of the Holy See will be taken to each of the Traditional Anglican Communion’s National Synods. While these synods have already endorsed “our pathway,” the archbishop explained, they will now consider the specific structures proposed.
He closed his message by referring to the Te Deum, a traditional Christian prayer of thanksgiving.
“It is with heartfelt thanks to Almighty God, the Lord and Source of all peace and unity, that the hymn is on our lips today,” the archbishop said. “This is a moment of grace, perhaps even a moment of history, not because the past is undone, but because the past is transformed.”
Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - Catholic commentator George Weigel says that the Vatican’s announcement of a new provision for Anglican groups who desire to convert to Catholicism is an “end of an era” in Anglican-Catholic relations, showing a widening “theological gulf” between Anglican leadership and the Christian tradition.
Writing in The Washington Post's "On Faith" blog, Weigel recounts how Anglican-Catholic relations reached a peak around the time of the Second Vatican Council.
However, in the following decades some Anglican leaders appeared to be distancing themselves from the apostolic tradition on the priesthood and the sacraments.
Weigel discusses an exchange of letters in the 1980s between Pope John Paul II, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie and Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, then the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Asked by the Catholic prelates to explain why parts of the Anglican Communion had decided to ordain women as priests, Weigel recalls that Archbishop Runcie replied in “largely sociological, rather than theological terms.” The then-senior prelate in the Church of England cited women’s changing roles in business, culture and politics as a justification for the novel practice.
When the exchange of letters ended in 1986, a “parting of the ways” had been reached. Catholic authorities believed that apostolic tradition precluded the ordination of women to the priesthood, while Archbishop Runcie and similarly-minded Anglicans, in Weigel’s view, believed that “contemporary human insights into gender roles trumped apostolic tradition and necessitated a development of both doctrine and practice.”
“Rome could not accept that as a legitimate development of Christian self-understanding,” Weigel explains, reporting that Catholic leaders feared the new Anglican approach would cause the revision of their teachings on many other issues, such as sexual morality.
With Pope Benedict’s announcement of a new Anglican provision, Weigel writes at On Faith, Anglicans have been offered a “path into full communion” with the Catholic Church that “honors the distinctiveness of their spiritual and liturgical traditions.”
Tulsa, Okla., Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - Proponents of Oklahoma legislation that would ban sex-selective abortions and would require the collection and internet publication of statistics on abortions in the state are denying critics’ claims that the bill would violate the privacy of women seeking abortions.
Statistical Reporting of Abortions Act is slated to take effect on Nov. 1, but it may be held up in court.
The Act requires the Oklahoma Department of Health to publish data online on all abortion patients, including the woman’s race, marital status, financial circumstances, years of education, number of previous pregnancies and her reason for seeking the abortion.
The law does not allow women’s names to be posted, but it requires women to answer 37 questions, including a question about the county in which the abortion is performed. Sen. Todd Lamb (R-Okla.) told CNN on Wednesday that the questions were derived from questionnaires used by the Guttmacher Institutehe, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood.
Abortionists who do not provide such information will face criminal penalties and the loss of their medical licenses.
Oklahoma resident Lora Joyce Davis and former state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton have filed a lawsuit over the legislation.
Davis, who charges that the law is unconstitutional, is reportedly bringing the lawsuit in cooperation with the New York-based pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).
She has argued that the demographic information required to be published is detailed enough to identify patients, especially those who live in small towns.
"These are women who are already in a tragic situation, and the law will expose them about a very, very personal matter," Davis told Foxnews.com, calling the publication of abortion information a violation of patient privacy rights.
"If you can think about being in a small town, you might know that teenager in the high school who is pregnant,” added Jennifer Mondino, a CRR staff attorney. "It's not that difficult to link that person to the data that's going to be available on the Web site," she said.
Mondino also charged that the legislation “violates the spirit of HIPAA,” the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which regulates patient privacy.
Oklahoma State Rep. Dan Sullivan, the Republican who authored the bill, told Fox News that the data will assist education that targets demographics with high rates of unwanted pregnancies.
"If there's something that we can do to positively impact that segment of that population -- and have a lowering effect on those rates -- then we want to be able to look at what policy decisions we can make,” Sullivan explained.
He countered the accusation that women from small communities will be easily identified, reporting that only three of the 77 Oklahoma counties have abortion providers.
"If a woman from rural Oklahoma (county) goes to Tulsa (county) and has an abortion, her abortion stats are lumped together with all the other women who went to Tulsa to seek an abortion," Sullivan added.
"There's no way a person can be singled out or identified the way it would be listed."
Santiago, Chile, Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - In an interview with the Chilean daily, “El Mercurio,” the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, Bernard Fellay, acknowledged that the Vatican is considering the possibility of converting the Lefebvrist group into a personal prelature as part of the discussions aimed at bringing about reconciliation.
Fellay, who visited members of the SSPX movement in Chile, is one of four bishops whose excommunication was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI last January. Asked about the speculation that the Society of Pius X could be made into a personal prelature similar to Opus Dei, Fellay responded, “There is a lot of truth to that. I think the Vatican is moving towards that kind of canonical solution.”
He also noted that the controversy unleashed by Bishop Richard Williamson’s statements on the Nazi holocaust “was a well-planned attack, not against the Society, but directly against the person of Pope Benedict XVI, in order to tarnish his gesture.”
Rome, Italy, Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop Emmanuel Treveno Cabajar of Pagadian in the Philippines is urging that direct contact be made with the kidnappers of the elderly Irish missionary priest, Father Michael Sinnott, as “he urgently needs his medication.”
Fr. Sinnott,78, was taken at gunpoint by six men who stormed his home in Pagadian City on the island of Mindanao on Oct. 11. According to Reuters, witnesses said the Colombian priest was bundled into a van and later dragged to a boat.
The priest is known to have a heart condition and needs a daily dosage of medicine.
In an interview with the Fides news agency, Bishop Cabajar called on “the entire Catholic community of the world to join in our prayers.”
“We also know that the Holy Father is close to us and is praying for Father Sinnott. We implore God’s help and we ask for the concrete contribution of all people of good will who can provide useful information,” he added.
“We are currently still in search-and-rescue mode,” the bishop stated. “We hope for a peaceful solution to the problem, which does not require military action or the shedding of blood.”
“The objective should be to save the life of Father Sinnott and also those of his kidnappers. Every human life is sacred. We pray and hope that negotiations begin soon and will lead to a peaceful solution,” the bishop said.
He reminded the kidnappers that Father Sinnott is “a consecrated man, a man of peace, a man who works at the service of the poor.” He also noted that the Pope has declared this year to be the Year for Priests and all are called to “respect the dignity and precious work of priests.”
On October 18 in the town of Pagadian, where Father Sinnott was kidnapped, Catholics and Muslims joined together with people of other faiths to pray for “the release and salvation of Father Sinnott, a beloved pastor respected by all.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Juan Ruben Martinez of Posadas in northern Argentina remarked this week that groups which seek to solve the issue of poverty by the use of contraception reflect a “sort of ‘selfish and unbridled capitalism’” that does not address the crux of the problem.
According to the AICA news agency, Archbishop Martinez warned that such groups “control large media outlets and denigrate the family. He added, that “amazingly, these groups absurdly portray themselves as ‘progressive’ and ‘modern,’ when in reality they reflect the worst of capitalism.”
This “contradiction and hypocrisy of our present-day culture” is in addition to the pressure from many lawmakers and legislatures that support anti-life laws and pro-abortion positions that harm the family.
The archbishop went on to note that supporters of such ideas portray their positions as “progressive” when in reality “they completely go against what is ‘in the heart of our people’.”
He called on Argentineans to “pray for motherhood, knowing that it is a marvelous gift from God, and for the value of the family. For fathers and mothers, that they might assume their role, and for children who are a sign of hope.”
“Even though there are groups that attack the value of the family, the family is a great ‘value’ that is in the hearts of our people,” he added.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) -
Secretary of the Spanish bishops' conference, Msgr. Juan Antonio Martinez Camino noted this week that the massive turnout at the pro-life march in Madrid last Saturday was a “vigorous expression” of “popular outcry in defense of life.”
According to various Spanish media outlets, Msgr. Martinez Camino said that the October 17 march “has shown that Spanish society is alive in its ethical perception of the basic principles of living together in peace.”
He went on to explain that the Spanish government’s proposal to change the country’s abortion laws “is dangerous for the legal system and for a society to live together in peace on the basis of true rights-based principles, not on principles of force.”
“True equality between human beings demands that we all be equal in the fundamental right to life,” Msgr. Martinez Camino noted, as human dignity “includes the intangibility of life as one of its fundamental elements.
“This is true for all human beings.”
The spokesman said he hoped the measure would not be approved by Congress as it would constitute a step backwards in the protection of the unborn and of motherhood.
Lima, Peru, Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - Peru’s Minister of Justice, Aurelio Pastor, said the legalization of abortion for reasons of rape and fetal deformation cannot be approved by the Peruvian Congress because there are not enough votes to support the change.
Pastor explained that although a debate is taking place based on religious, legal and medical arguments, “the truth is that there is no way it will be approved” due to the lack of votes “in Congress to pass it,” he said.
He then stressed that there has not been a change to Peru's laws on abortion despite a vote to move the proposal through a government committee. To become law, the bill would still have to go before the full body.
Atlanta, Ga., Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - Christopher West issued his first reply to critics of his approach to teaching the Theology of the Body today, explaining that it is not a “point by point” answer and that his purpose is to focus on the “pivotal point of the conversation.” At the heart of the heated debate, West argues, is whether or not man can be sexually redeemed by God's grace in this life.
The at-times loud exchange over West's presentation of the Theology of the Body was first touched off by an appearance he made on ABC's show “Nightline” last May.
Responding to the interview, scholars who teach Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body accused West of being imprudent in presenting the late Pope's message, while others lent him their support.
For his part, Christopher West remained silent until today, when the public relations firm, The Maximus Group, released his response titled, “The Theology of the Body Debate: The Pivotal Question.”
West began his four-page response by thanking those who came to his defense and offered him support, including Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop Kevin Rhoades. Speaking to his critics, he thanked those who “offered thoughtful critiques of my work and helpful suggestions on how to improve it, ” adding that he has “taken them to heart.”
However, West argued that “much of the criticism that appeared after the Nightline interview significantly misrepresented what I teach.” According to the speaker, “Rumors were repeated so often that subsequent commentators simply treated dubious accusations as fact.”
Instead of answering his opponents' charges “point by point,” West explained that his comments would be focused on the “pivotal” issue raised by the debate.
“The pivotal question as I see it is this: What does the grace of redemption offer us in this life with regard to our disordered sexual tendencies?” West wrote.
Acknowledging that man must always battle with his tendency to sin, West admitted that, “In some of my earliest lectures and tapes, I confess that I did not emphasize this important point clearly enough.” But, he also stated, by focusing on this limitation, his critics are limiting the power of Christ to transform people's disordered desires.
West also tied his efforts to the New Evangelization called for by the late Pontiff, writing, “John Paul II, it seems, was precisely the herald 'anointed by the Lord' to bring the good news of liberation to our sexually enslaved world.”
“'Do not empty the Cross of its power!' 'This,' he said, 'is the cry of the new evangelization,'” he added, quoting from John Paul II.
At the end of his defense, West asserted that the “fundamental message of the TOB is nothing new. In essence, it’s what the saints and mystics have been telling us for centuries about the “great mystery” of Christ’s infinite love for his Bride, the Church. Yet John Paul II has penetrated that same Mystery with new clarity, new insight, new depth – giving us a new language with which to reach the modern world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Urging Catholics to help spread the Theology of the Body, West said, “It is my hope that the Nightline interview and the spirited debate it triggered will spur us all on as Catholics to study the TOB more intently, 'receive' its contents more deeply, and share its liberating message more effectively.”
Christopher West's full response can be read at: http://www.tobinstitute.org/announcement.asp?AnnouncementsID=25
Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2009 (CNA) - The advance of a bill that would create penalties to punish “hate crimes” comes at a time of increasing intolerance towards those who support the traditional definition of marriage and reject homosexual activism, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins noted on Wednesday, causing him to ask, “Where's the protection for them?”
In his e-mail newsletter, Perkins urged his readers to voice opposition to the hate crimes bill currently under consideration in the Senate, saying it was “not an inconsequential vote.”
“Expanding hate crimes puts America in lock-step with the stated agenda of homosexual activists,” he wrote, predicting that its backers will then turn to the Employment Non-discrimination Act, the repeal of the ban on open homosexuality in the military and the Defense of Marriage Act.
He reported that more than 100,000 people have signed a petition opposing the hate crimes measure as a violation of the First Amendment. The measure is attached to a military spending bill.
Perkins noted the threats and harassment supporters of traditional marriage face.
“We get reports almost daily from donors who have given to pro-marriage campaigns in the states and are being awakened in the middle of the night by harassing phone calls and death threats. Where's the protection for them? Where are those blowing the trumpet of tolerance?"
He recounted that Family Research Council Senior Vice President Tom McClusky recently received a threatening voicemail from someone complaining about “homophobic comments” and saying that being an “intolerant bigot” would cause a reaction.
“You reap what you sow and when you start spreadin' hate against other people, that's exactly what you're gonna get back. And, you know, who knows what effect that could have on you, or your family, or your office, you know, on G Street?” the caller continued, naming the Washington, D.C. street on which the Family Research Council’s offices are located.
“Uh, just a bit of advice for ya. You should really learn, really-stop bein' such a redneck piece of s**t,” the caller’s voicemail continued, according to Perkins.
“While Congress is busy giving preferential treatment to homosexuals, maybe it's time to point out the kind of calls we receive from the side of 'tolerance,'” Perkins said.