Archive of November 9, 2009

Provision for Anglicans published, celibacy question answered

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2009 (CNA) - Anglicans who wish to enter into communion with the Catholic Church received the path for doing so today as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) published the papal declaration “Anglicaoranum coetibus.” The document clears up questions about married priests and the power of the ordinariates' bishops among other issues.

The president of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, welcomed the publication of the Apostolic Constitution and accompanying norms saying, “This now makes clear the provision made by the Holy See and enables those who have made requests to the Holy See to study it in detail.”

“It is important to remember that this is a response to requests made to the Holy See by Anglicans and former Anglicans from across the world. It is not a provision specifically for England & Wales and clearly there is much reflection to be done by all concerned,” Archbishop Nichols underscored.

Both the Apostolic Constitution and the norms for implementing it are dated November 4, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, and are signed by Cardinal William Joseph Levada and Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria S.J., respectively prefect and secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The newly published declaration “introduces a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing personal ordinariates, which will allow the above mentioned groups to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony,” the Vatican press office announced. The Anglican provision is accompanied by a set of complementary norms which will guide its implementation.

The provision is being presented by the CDF as a move to strengthen Christian unity and the diversity of expression of the Faith.

The congregation also pointed out that the Anglican provision is “not an initiative on the part of the Holy See, but a generous response from the Holy Father to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups. The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church.”

The sticky issue of married priests within the new Anglican ordinariates was also addressed by the CDF, which said, "The possibility envisioned by the Apostolic Constitution for some married clergy within the personal ordinariates does not signify any change in the Church's discipline of clerical celibacy.”

Moreover, married Anglican clergy who wish to continue serving as clerics in the new ordinariates will be required to apply for admission to the Catholic priesthood on a case-by-case basis. Seminarians studying to become priests in the ordinariate will be required to remain celibate.

The CDF reminded the faithful in its statement today that, “According to the Vatican Council II, priestly celibacy is a sign and a stimulus for pastoral charity and radiantly proclaims the reign of God."

The Apostolic Constitution contains 13 sections which concern, among other things: the formation of the new ordinariates; the power of the bishop, "to be exercised jointly with that of the local diocesan bishop in those cases provided for in the Complementary Norms;" candidates for Holy Orders; the creation of new Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life; the "ad limina" visit of the ordinary, etc.

Finally, the Constitution says that all Anglican lay faithful as well as members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life must make known their desire to enter into communion with the Catholic Church in writing.

The text of “Anglicaoranum coetibus” can be read here:

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Living our baptism means staying united to the Church, Pope counsels

Rome, Italy, Nov 9, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI touched on the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism on Sunday, saying that “living our Baptism means remaining firmly united to the Church, even when we see her face darkened by certain shadows and stains.”

Speaking at the parish of St. Anthony in Concesio, Italy, where Pope Paul VI was baptized, the Holy Father recalled the words of his predecessor on the human tendency to dismiss the faith as useless or antiquated. There is “a temptation to believe that the faith is a tie, a chain to be thrown off, something old and outdated which serves no purpose,” Benedict quoted, adding that man can falsely begin to believe that “economic and social life is enough to respond to all the aspirations of the human heart.”

The Pope continued by referencing St. Augustine's words that “our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord” and that “only if we find the light that illuminates and gives fullness of meaning can human beings be truly happy.”

“That light is faith in Christ,” the Holy Father stated, reminding the faithful that faith is “a gift received at Baptism that must be constantly rediscovered in order to pass it on to others.”

Pointing out that at the moment of each person's Baptism “Christ bound us to Himself forever,” the Pope asked, “Yet do we, for our part, remain united to Him through choices coherent with the Gospel?”

“It is not easy being Christian. It takes courage and tenacity not to conform oneself to the mentality of the world, not to allow oneself to be seduced by the temptations ... of hedonism and consumerism; to face, if necessary, misunderstandings and sometimes even persecution,” he said.

Pope Benedict concluded by speaking on the importance of the Church and how it has “regenerated us for divine life and accompanies us throughout our journey.”

“Let us love and serve her with a faithful love which translates into tangible acts within our communities,” the Pope urged,“not surrendering to the temptation to individualism and prejudice, and overcoming all rivalries and divisions. Thus will we be true disciples of Christ.”

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Crucifix is symbol of freedom, says Spanish bishop

Madrid, Spain, Nov 9, 2009 (CNA) - The secretary general of the Spanish bishops' conference, Auxiliary Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino of Madrid, lamented the recent ruling by the EU Court in Strasbourg, France that ordered Italy to remove crucifixes from school classrooms.  The crucifix is “a symbol of freedom,” he explained.

According to the COPE Radio Network, Bishop Martinez Camino said it is “unjust and discriminatory to want to confine the crucifix to the private sphere.”

“The crucifix is a symbol of freedom and of the distinction  between civil and religious power,” he said.  “If it disappears from public life, we will lose all  the achievements of Western culture linked with our values.”

Bishop Martinez Camino also discussed the recent statistics on abortion in Spain, which number now almost 120,000 per year.  The high rate of abortion is a “reflection of the dramatic situation our society is experiencing when thousands of children are being eliminated,” he said.

The bishop urged that new laws be passed that “support women.”

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Portuguese bishops to discuss upcoming papal visit during assembly

Fatima, Portugal, Nov 9, 2009 (CNA) - The secretary general of Portugal's bishops' conference has released the schedule of the 173rd Plenary Assembly of the bishops, which will include a discussion on Pope Benedict's upcoming visit to Fatima in May 2010.

The bishops will meet at the House of Our Lady of Sorrows at the Shrine of Fatima November 9-12 and plan to discuss a pastoral letter on euthanasia, another letter on the mission of the laity in the Church, as well as other issues, including the Holy Father's 2010 visit.

Archbishop Jorge Ferreira de Costa Ortiga of Braga and president of the conference will deliver the opening address.

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Spanish pro-life leader says abortion still a concern in Spain

Zaragoza, Spain, Nov 9, 2009 (CNA) -

Speaking at the fourth International Pro-Life Congress which began on November 6, president of the Spanish Federation of Pro-Life Associations Alicia Latorre noted that abortion is the “gravest problem that Spain is facing”  and charged, “We will nto rest until there are no abortions.”
During the Congress’s first press conference, Latorre said, “The debate on abortion is not over; it is an issue of critical importance today.”  “There is no room for reproaching or criticizing anybody because lives that have been lost cannot be regained.  Rather, positive ideas for the future that involve society in supporting pregnant women ought to be put forth.”
Attributing the slight decrease in the number of abortions in Spain in 2008 to the work of pro-life organizations, Torres added, “We will not rest until there are no abortions.”
Also at the Congress, Esperanza Puente, another prominent pro-life leader in Spain, said, “because they do not provide truthful information about abortion techniques or about alternatives to abortion, current laws and social services leave pregnant women alone and unprotected.”
Puente also explained, “Post-abortion syndrome is ignored by the majority of mothers who are suffering from it because they are not informed about its consequences in a clear manner.”

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Pope Benedict recalls Paul VI's devotion to the youth

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2009 (CNA) - As part of his pastoral visit to Brescia, Italy, Pope Benedict stopped by the town of Concesio, where his predecessor Paul VI was born. He then continued on to the new headquarters of the Paul VI Institute where he gave a talk emphasizing his predecessor’s commitment to the youth and his challenge to them to follow Christ.

Benedict recalled that Pope Paul VI, “student and priest, bishop and Pope, was always aware of the need for a qualified Christian presence in the world of culture, art and civil society, a presence rooted in the truth of Christ and, at the same time, attentive to man and his vital needs.”

Noting that “Paul VI defined himself as an 'elderly friend of the young,'” Pope Benedict said of his predecessor, “He was able to recognize and share their torment as they were torn between the desire to live, the need for certainty, the longing for love, the sense of being lost, the temptation to skepticism and the experience of disillusionment.”

Pope Paul VI “learned to understand their hearts, and recalled that the agnostic indifference of modern thought, critical pessimism and the materialist ideology of social progress are not enough for the spirit, which is open to completely different horizons of truth and life.”

Though Pope Paul VI was often misunderstood, and was consequently attacked by the strong cultural movements of the time, “he never lost faith in the young, renewing in them, and not only in them, the invitation to trust in Christ and to follow Him along the path of the Gospel,” said Benedict.

The Holy Father concluded his address by expressing the hope that the love Pope Paul VI had for the young, a love expressed by Pope John Paul II, and renewed by Benedict himself at the beginning of his pontificate, “may be perceived by the new generations.”

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Florida lawmaker confident abortion restrictions will be stripped from health care bill

Washington D.C., Nov 9, 2009 (CNA) - In a statement Monday, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) asserted that the Stupak Amendment currently preventing federally funded abortions in the House health care bill will be removed.

“I am confident that when it comes back from the conference committee that that language won't be there,” Wasserman Schultz told MSNBC, adding, “I think we're all going to be working very hard, particularly the pro-choice members, to make sure that's the case.”

The language in the Stupak Amendment not only prevents abortion coverage in the public insurance option but also prohibits private plans from offering coverage for abortions if they accept individuals who are receiving government subsidies.

Without the Stupak amendment the House would not have been able to amass enough votes to pass the current health care bill, which passed by a margin of 220 votes in favor to 215 against.

The opportunity to remove the Stupak Amendment will come during the conference between the House and Senate bills, and pro-abortion Democrats are reportedly working hard to ensure its removal.

“It was extremely painful for me to feel compelled to vote for a bill that contained that kind of restriction on a woman's ability to make her own reproductive choices,” said Wasserman Shultz on Monday.

The Senate version of health care overhaul legislation must still be voted on. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said that the Senate may not pass a health care bill by the end of his self-imposed Christmas deadline, though President Obama has pressed his concern that the health care reform be finished by the end of the year.

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Vatican daily remembers fall of Berlin Wall

Rome, Italy, Nov 9, 2009 (CNA) - In an article this week, the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, recalls the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which took place November 9 and 10, 1989.  The article also expresses the hope that “the memory of the evils of the past serve to avoid evils in the future.”
The article, written by Lucetta Scaraffia  points out that “Berlin celebrates, on its streets and in its squares, the anniversary of the fall of the wall: everywhere there are signs that recall those days, preparations for concerts and festivals and an immense work of art: a virtual wall, composed of colorful pieces that will fall like dominos on the night of the anniversary.”
“Germans are truly happy to finally be able to celebrate something positive,” the article continues.  “Dozens of errors have now been paid for and there is a great deal to celebrate: a reborn city such as Berlin, that is beautiful and full life of life, is now a center of attraction for young people, artists and intellectuals from all over Europe, who sense the energy of the future here —perhaps unique among all the European capitals.”
After noting that Berlin experienced Nazism and Communism “in a terrible way” in the 20th century, LOR’s article explains that Germans recall the event with great intensity and with the hope that “the memory of the evils of the past will serve to avoid evils in the future.”

The article then mentions that portions of the wall still stand in memorial to the historic events of 1989, and that some museums and historical places still offer pieces of the wall for purchase. In 1990 the sale of wall fragments raised thousands to help East Germany’s fledgling health care system.
LOR also states that the fall of the Berlin Wall was an “extraordinary symbol” of “the obstacle to freedom and the hope of the human being which political utopia represents.”

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Scottish Archbishop says ‘transsexual Jesus’ play part of agenda to mock Christianity

Glasgow, United Kingdom, Nov 9, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Glasgow has denounced a publicly funded play which portrays Jesus as a transsexual, saying it is a “provocative and offensive abuse” of Christian beliefs. He suggested the event is part of an agenda to “mock Christianity.”

The play “Queen of Heaven” is being staged in the Tron Theatre as part of the publicly funded “Glasgay!” arts festival, which describes itself as “Scotland’s Annual celebration of queer culture,” the BBC reports.

Some 300 people held a candlelight protest of the play outside the theatre.

Festival producer Steven Thomson described the play as a “literary work of fiction exploring the artist’s own personal journey of faith as a transgendered person.”

"This work is not intended to incite or offend anyone of any belief system,” claimed festival producer Steven Thomson. “However, we respect your right to disagree with that opinion."

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow was critical of the production, saying in a statement:

"It is difficult to imagine a more provocative and offensive abuse of Christian beliefs than this play. That it should be supported by public funds is nothing short of disgraceful.  Coming hot on the heels of the scandalous exhibition earlier this year which encouraged the defacing of the bible, this latest initiative can only be read as part of an agenda to mock Christianity.”

He said that the event's financial backers, the Glasgow City Council and Culture and Sport Glasgow, have “serious questions” to answer concerning why such projects are funded at a time of budget cuts.

"Far from combating prejudice, productions like this reinforce stereotypes. Organizers should realize that you do not promote tolerance of the minority by offending and insulting the majority."

The 300 protesters gathered outside the theatre waved placards which bore phrases like “Jesus, King of Kings, not Queen of Heaven.”

Jo Clifford, the 59-year-old formerly known as John Clifford who authored and stars in the one-man play, told the London Times most of the protest is happening because of “a complete misunderstanding of what I am and what I am trying to do.

“They thought awful, sacrilegious things were going to happen on stage,” he added, claiming that he has shown the script to priests who say it “corresponds to what the Bible says.”

He charged that protesters disapprove of his “transgendered identity.”

Clifford, the father of two children, began living as a woman five years ago after the death of his partner, feminist writer Sue Innes.

The play’s 300 protesters included Pastor Jack Bell of the Zion Baptist Church in Glasgow.

"We didn't threaten anyone going into the play or any of the cast members,” he told BBC News.

"It was a peaceful protest with hymns and placards.

"You can't blaspheme God and use freedom of speech as an excuse for that."

"True biblical Christianity is becoming marginalized through political correctness,” he charged, wondering how a play that had treated Mohammed the same way would be received.

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