Lima, Peru, Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Constitutional Court of Peru, Juan Vergara, has asked the Minister of Health, Oscar Ugarte, to prohibit the sale of the morning-after pill in pharmacies due to its abortifacient effects.
During a press conference, Vergara stated that the ruling by the Constitutional Court last week to halt distribution of the drug in public facilities was made because its abortifacient effect has not been disproven and the Peruvian constitution provides protection for the unborn.
Vergara noted that the Ministry of Health could issue an order prohibiting the sale of the drug, and lamented that Ugarte used an argument “employed by the manufactures of the pill” in order to defend its distribution.
Vergara said he supports prohibiting the pill because it “promotes death.” He added that Ugarte couldn’t be blamed for not understanding the court’s ruling because he is not a lawyer.
The president of the Council of Ministers, Javier Velasquez, said the government would follow the court’s ruling and suggested that organizations that disagree appeal to international courts.
New York City, N.Y., Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York told EWTN host Raymond Arroyo in an interview last Friday on “The World Over Live” that he hopes to reach out to and communicate with the world using media like his predecessors, Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Cardinal John O'Connor.
He noted that he will still be visiting parishes like his predecessor, Cardinal Egan, but Archbishop Dolan will also be celebrating televised masses at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
“I’m not doing this to make this a bully pulpit or to attract attention…but I do think it’s probably a valued part of being the Archbishop of New York – that you would recognize, realistically, that you do have a good pulpit and people are going to listen to what you say,” Archbishop Dolan said. He continued by saying, “We’re not ashamed of the Gospel, we’re never ashamed of the teachings of the Church, and any way you can get that out, bring it on!”
Archbishop Dolan also reflected on the famous Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who is buried in the crypt at St. Patrick's Cathedral. “I would never pretend to be like him. …I would never pretend to have his culture and bearing, but I would have to say that he’s an inspiration to me… to bring the immutable truths of the Catholic Faith to a very changing culture and society.”
Archbishop Sheen, who was called “a prophet of the times” by Pope Pius XII and “the Great Communicator” by Billy Graham, was one of the first and most effective men to use radio and television to convey the Good News of Christ to a national audience.
Speaking about his pastoral approach, Archbishop Dolan said that he will “go back to the Cardinal O’Connor way” of treating every homily at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as a state of the nation address, commenting on the practical things with which people are wrestling.
Taking the legacy of these men, Archbishop Dolan hopes to reach out to the City of New York, a city that he describes as “a very Catholic city,” despite the fact that, to most people, the city “represents paganism secular society, and materialism.”
Archbishop Dolan has a weekly radio program, broadcast on the diocesan radio channels and on the Catholic Channel of Sirius XM radio. His daily masses as well as the 10:15 mass on Sunday will also be broadcast on television and radio.
When asked what mark he wanted to leave on the archdiocese, Archbishop Dolan replied, “I would hope they would say 'he brought us a little closer to Jesus Christ ... That he reminded us of Jesus, and he brought us closer to Christ and his Church.'”
Washington D.C., Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - With the approach of the U.S. bishops’ fall assembly, the nominations for five committee chairmanships of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have been announced.
The U.S. bishops will vote on the nominees at the USCCB General Assembly, which will take place Nov. 16-19 in Baltimore.
The nominees for the chairmanship of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations are Archbishop of St. Louis Robert J. Carlson and Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina Michael F. Burbidge.
Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory M. Aymond and Archbishop of Detroit Allen H. Vigneron are the nominees to lead the Committee on Divine Worship.
Possible chairmen for the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development are Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif. and Bishop of Miami Frank J. Dewane.
Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph F. Naumann and Bishop of Harrisburg, Penn. Kevin Rhoades are nominees for the chairmanship of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
For the Committee on Migration, the nominees are Archbishop of San Antonio José H. Gomez and Bishop of Laredo, Texas James A. Tamayo.
Rome, Italy, Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) -
Supreme Knight of Columbus Carl A. Anderson on Wednesday will receive the city of Rome’s Lupa Capitolina (The Wolf of the Capital) award in honor of the nearly 90 years of service of the Knights in Rome.
Anderson will receive the award from Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno on Wednesday evening on the Campidoglio, one of the Seven Hills of Rome.
"I am honored to receive this award from the City of Rome for the great work the Knights of Columbus have done there for nearly a century,” Anderson said in a Knights of Columbus press release.
“As both the 'eternal city' and the center of the Catholic Church, Rome has a special place in the hearts of the Knights of Columbus, and we look forward to another 90 years of service in this great city.”
In 1920 a delegation of Knights led by then-Supreme Knight James Flaherty met with Pope Benedict XV. The Pope asked the Knights to expand their work in Rome.
During the 1920s the Knights opened several sports facilities for the free use of the youth of Rome. Another facility opened in the 1950s. The Knights continue to operate four of these facilities, which are regularly used by Roman youth.
The Knights also donated a new shortwave radio transmitter to the Vatican in 1966 and presently pay for the costs of a satellite uplink for major worldwide telecasts from the Vatican.
In the 1980s the Knights funded construction on several chapels and sponsored the restoration of the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica. In the 1990s the Knights provided financial support for the repair of the roof and restoration of the mosaics in St. Peter’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel, as well as the restoration of the Maderno Atrium and its massive bronze doors in preparation for the Jubilee 2000 celebration.
In the last decade the Knights have sponsored several academic conferences and other efforts in restoration work. The order also sponsored the Concert for Reconciliation between Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, held in the Vatican in 2004 in the presence of Pope John Paul II.
The Lupa Capitolina award is named for the wolf that suckled the legendary founding brothers of Rome, Romulus and Remus. The award is a miniature version of a famous statue of the wolf nursing the two infant brothers.
Last year the honor was given to Italian-American actor Al Pacino.
New York City, N.Y., Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - Christians suffer the greatest number of violations of religious freedom, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio who leads the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, told the U.N. General Assembly last Wednesday. He called for the revision or repeal of anti-blasphemy laws, saying their abuse aids such discrimination.
“There is unfortunately no religion on the planet which is free from discrimination. Acts of intolerance, and violations of religious freedom, continue to be perpetrated in many forms,” he commented.
“Christians are the religious group most discriminated against as there may well be more than 200 million of them, of different confessions, who are in situations of difficulty because of legal and cultural structures that lead to their discrimination.”
Archbishop Migliore reported that in recent months Christian communities in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries have been attacked, leaving many injured and others killed. Their churches and homes were also burned down.
“Such actions were committed by extremists in response to accusations against individuals, perceived –according to anti-blasphemy laws– as being in some way disrespectful of the beliefs of others,” he continued. “In this context, my delegation welcomes and supports the promise of the government of Pakistan to review and amend such laws.”
The archbishop said that blasphemy laws have provided opportunities for extremists to persecute those of different faiths.
“Such laws have been used to foster injustice, sectarian violence and violence between religions,” he added, calling for the repeal of laws that serve as “instruments of abuse.”
“Legislation which restricts freedom of expression cannot change attitudes. Instead, what is needed is the will to change,” he advised.
He claimed that change would come by raising individuals’ consciousness and bringing them to a greater understanding of the need to respect others regardless of their faith or cultural background.
“Cooperation among religions is a prerequisite for the transformation of society and must lead to a change of minds and hearts so that a culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among peoples can truly be built,” Archbishop Migliore’s address concluded, noting that the foundational instruments of the U.N. are key to advancing human rights.
Vatican City, Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - At today's General Audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict provided a lesson on the theological renaissance of the 12th century, advising Christians to learn from the monks and set aside time every day to meditate on the Bible, “so that the Word of God will be the lamp that illuminates our daily path on earth."
Benedict XVI began his address to the 15,000 faithful by recalling how the 12th century was a time of a spiritual, cultural and political rebirth in the West. In that time, theology “flourished, refining methods, advancing towards new problems, in contemplation of the mystery of God,” he said.
As fruits of this development, figures such as St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure would appear in the thirteenth century. The two different environments in which this theological activity flourished were monasteries and schools, which would soon gave birth to universities, an invention of medieval Christianity.
Monastic theology, the Pope added, was due to abbots gifted with evangelical fervor and dedicated to inspire and nurture the desire for God. The method was primarily linked to the prayerful contemplation of Holy Scripture and the texts of the Church Fathers. The monks, he expounded, "were devoted to the Sacred Scriptures and one of their main activities consisted in lectio divina, that is, a meditative reading of the Bible." The Holy Father noted the Synod on the Word of God last year recalled the importance of reading Scripture and said it must be built on monastic theology.
"As monastic theology is listening to the Word of God," the Pontiff said, "it is necessary to purify one's heart to welcome it and, above all, one must be full of fervor to encounter the Lord. Theology therefore becomes meditation, prayer, a song of praise, and the impetus for sincere conversion."
The Holy Father emphasized "it is important to reserve a certain time each day for meditation on the Bible so that the Word of God will be the lamp that illuminates our daily path on earth."
Scholastic theology, the Pontiff explained, was formed "around a master and his disciples, to train professionals of culture in an era in which knowledge was increasingly appreciated." The method involves the placement of a "quaestio," a question around which "the discussion between teacher and students revolved."
"The organization of the ‘quaestiones’ led to the compilation of evermore extensive syntheses, the so-called ‘summae’ that were vast dogmatic-theological treatises,” Pope Benedict said. “Scholastic theology sought to present the unity and harmony of Christian Revelation with a method, called precisely 'scholastic,' that grants faith in human reason."
"Echoing the invitation of the First Epistle of Peter scholastic theology invites us to be always ready to answer whoever asks the reason for the hope that is in us," he noted. It "reminds us that between faith and reason there is a natural friendship, founded in creation itself." Faith liberates reason, enabling the human spirit to rise to the loving contemplation of that fullness of truth which is God himself.
Let us pray, Benedict XVI concluded, "so that the path of knowledge and exploration of the mystery of God is always enlightened by divine love."
In his Italian-language greeting to young people, the sick and newlyweds, Pope Benedict XVI said, “Today the liturgy remembers the Holy Apostles Simon and Jude Thaddeus. Let their evangelical testimony sustain you, dear young people, in the commitment of daily faithfulness to Christ. Let it encourage you, dear sick, to always follow Jesus along the road of trial and suffering. Let it help you, dear newlyweds, to make your family a place of constant encounter with the Love of God.”
Vatican City, Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - Today it was announced that Pope Benedict will make a pastoral visit on Sunday, November 8, to the northern Italian towns of Brescia and Concesio, the birthplace of Pope Paul VI.
On the morning of November 8, the Holy Father will depart from the Ciampino Airport in Rome and will arrive at 9:30 a.m. in Brescia.
Once there, he will visit the Church of Botticino Sera where he will venerate the remains of St. Arcangelo Tadini before concelebrating Mass at the Cathedral of Brescia and praying the Sunday Angelus.
St. Arcangelo Tadini was an Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Worker Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth. He died in 1912 and was canonized on February 23, 2009.
The Holy Father will then meet with organizers of his pastoral visit at the Paul VI Institute before paying a visit to the house in Concesio where Pope Paul VI was born in 1897.
The Pontiff will then give a speech for the inauguration of the institute's new site as well as for the presentation of the Pope Paul VI International Prize.
Before returning to Rome that evening, the Holy Father is scheduled to visit St. Anthony's Parish, where Pope Paul VI was baptized.
Joliet, Ill., Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican announced on Wednesday that Pope Benedict has appointed Father Joseph Siegel as an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois. Bishop-elect Siegel is currently a pastor of Visitation Parish in Elmhurst, Ill. and has served the Diocese of Joliet since his ordination in 1988.
“I was both humbled and honored when I received the unexpected news that Pope Benedict had named me to serve as auxiliary bishop of Joliet,” Bishop-elect Siegel said on Wednesday.
“I am deeply grateful to our Holy Father and Bishop Sartain and I pray that I will be worthy of the trust they have placed in me as I strive to be a faithful shepherd after the heart of Jesus,” Bishop-elect Siegel added. He also asked for prayers so that he “may serve the people of this Diocese with love, wisdom and courage.”
In addition to being a diocesan priest and pastor, Father Siegel has held many leadership roles in the Diocese of Joliet. He has been a member and also chairman of the Presbyteral Council, director of Continuing Formation for Priests and a member of the Diocesan Vocation board. His currently a member of the Bishop's Respect Life Advisory Board and chair of the Steering Committee for the Joliet Diocesan Year of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Congress.
As an auxiliary bishop, Fr. Siegel will assist Bishop J. Peter Sartain in shepherding the Diocese of Joliet.
Speaking about Fr. Siegel's appointment, Bishop Sartain said, “I personally look forward to working in collaboration with him in the pastoral care of our people... He is deeply respected by his parishioners and brother priests, and he will bring many gifts to this new ministry. ”
Bishop-elect Siegel will be ordained on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet.
Houston, Texas, Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - All of the Catholic bishops in Texas released a statement on health care reform on Tuesday, warning that the legislation currently under consideration does not adequately ensure the protection of all human life.
The statement issued by the Texas Catholic Conference, which represents all 15 dioceses in Texas, said that the bishops “hope that our national leaders will work together to bring about genuine life-affirming reform to our nation’s health care system.”
“Our Catholic moral tradition teaches that every human being, from the moment of conception to natural death, has an innate dignity that entitles him or her to certain rights and protections, including the fundamental right to life and the right to affordable healthcare, which flows from the right to life,” they stated.
However, the bishops of Texas also said that they are concerned that the current proposed reforms do not respect these human rights. They singled out the Capps Amendment for criticism, saying that it “does not adequately ensure the protection of all human life.”
Addressing another controversial, if not problematic, facet of the current reforms, the bishops asserted that “the cost structures of any health care reform plan must not impose excessive financial burdens on low and moderate income individuals and families.”
The bishops also called for an expansion of the social safety net, writing, “Measures must also be in place to safeguard the health of all of society, including the poor, the elderly, and immigrants. Legal immigrants and their families must be allowed timely access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage and an adequate safety net must be maintained for those who remain uncovered.”
The statement closed with a reminder of the importance of reform and a warning.
“The Catholic Bishops of Texas will continue to support reform of our nation's health care system in ways that respect the lives of all human persons while providing affordable access to health care for all. We will be a committed partner in advancing reform on this life-and-death issue; but if the final form of the legislation does not include acceptable language in these areas then we will have to oppose it vigorously.”
Among the signing bishops was Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. DiNardo sits on the USCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities and is a member of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.
To read the full statement by the Catholic bishops of Texas, go to: http://www.txcatholic.org/documents/2009-Texas-Catholic-Conference-Health-Care-Statement.pdf
CNA STAFF, Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishops of New York and Philadelphia have made a “friendly wager” on the outcome of the 2009 World Series, promising to send the other a batch of their own city’s specialty food if their home team loses.
A joint press release from the Archdioceses of New York and Philadelphia reports that Archbishop Timothy Dolan will send Archbishop of Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali a dozen bagels if the Philadelphia Phillies win. If the New York Yankees win, Cardinal Rigali will send a box of Tastykake pastries to New York.
“Cardinal Rigali is one of my closest and dearest friends; for several years he even served as my Archbishop so I feel a particular loyalty to him,” Archbishop Dolan said. “I know he has exquisite taste in most matters. I just wish he had better taste in baseball teams.”
Cardinal Rigali returned the compliment and then let loose a zinger of his own:
“I have great esteem for Archbishop Dolan. He is a gifted spiritual leader who has been a true friend for many years. That is why I am so sorry he will be disappointed when the Phillies successfully defend their World Championship. We have the cream cheese ready for the bagels that I know will be arriving shortly after the Repeat in the City of Brotherly and Sisterly love.”
Archbishop Dolan expanded on his history as a baseball fan in a Tuesday post on his blog “Living the Gospel in the Digital Age.”
“Rooting for the Yankees has been a very natural thing for me, as I have been a Yankee fan since 1961 when, as an 11 year old in Saint Louis, I closely followed the Maris/Mantle home run race,” he wrote, adding that being a Cardinals fan is part of his DNA.
He also addressed fans of New York City’s other Major League Baseball team, the struggling Mets. “Please remember that October 28, the first day of the World Series, is also the Feast of Saint Jude, the Patron Saint of Impossible Cases.”
The World Series is scheduled to begin at Yankees Stadium in New York City on Wednesday night.
Washington D.C., Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) - President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law this afternoon in the East Room of the White House. The law, which secured passage by being attached to a military spending bill, is being flagged by Christians as a possible vehicle for preventing them from teaching against homosexuality.
Named after two victims of purported hate crimes, the bill allows federal authorities to prosecute violence based on gender, perceived or actual sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Defenders of the bill say that it doesn’t target Christian beliefs because it deals with actions only and not words, but many Christians, such as Dr. Gary L. Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission say that “where hate crime laws have been enacted, it is Christians, specifically conservative Christians who hold to the historic Christian faith and it's values, that become the object of institutionalized, governmental hate."
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, claimed that the hate crimes provision “is part of a radical social agenda that could ultimately silence Christians and use the force of government to marginalize anyone whose faith is at odds with homosexuality.”
As he signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 to which the Hate Crimes Prevention Act was attached, President Obama said, “So today I'm pleased to say that we have proved that change is possible. It may not come quickly, or all at once, but if you push hard enough, it does come eventually.”
President Obama invoked the memory of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who was a supporter of the act in its early stages.
The president also recounted how he promised Judy Shepard, Mathew Shepard’s mother, that this day would come. “After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray, or who they are,” he proudly concluded.
The motive behind Matthew Shepard's brutal murder remains unknown, with some claiming that he was murdered for being a homosexual and others that it was a drug deal gone bad.
New York City, N.Y., Oct 28, 2009 (CNA) -
Catholic critics have reacted to an HBO show that had a scene showing a painting of Jesus being urinated on and which also mocked Catholic devotion to Jesus. They have questioned an apparent double standard in the treatment of religions and have called for an apology from the show’s producers.
Larry David, creator of the successful sitcom “Seinfeld,” now stars in the Sunday night show “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” a fictional comedy about his life.
In the most recent episode, the elderly David goes to the bathroom in a Catholic home and splatters urine on a painting of Jesus without cleaning it up. A Catholic woman goes to the bathroom, sees the liquid on the picture and believes that Jesus is crying. She calls to her mother, who joins her. They both kneel in prayer.
Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, criticized the episode in a statement.
“Was Larry David always this crude? Would he think it's comedic if someone urinated on a picture of his mother?” Donohue said, accusing HBO of only liking to “dump on Catholics.”
“Last night’s episode demonstrates that David’s best years are behind him. He ought to quit while he’s ahead,” he added.
Deal Hudson, editor of InsideCatholic.com, wondered why people are allowed to show such public disrespect for Christian symbols.
“If the same thing was done to a symbol of any other religions -- Jewish or Muslim -- there'd be a huge outcry. It's simply not a level playing field," Hudson told Fox News.
"When is it going to stop? When is common sense going to dictate that people realize this willingness of artists to do to Christianity what they would never do to Judaism or Islam?”
Hudson said that the show’s producers and writers should issue an apology.