Pristina, Kosovo, Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - On Nov. 11 the National Council of Kosovo met for the first time to organize the celebrations for the 100th anniversary of Blessed Mother Teresa’s birth.
The Italian bishops new service (SIR) reports that the meeting took place in the Culture Ministry’s palace and was attended by Culture Minister Valton Beqiri, the president’s delegate Xhavit Beqiri, Ali Podrimjia of the Academy of Science and Art of Kosovo and Jusuf Bajraktari of the History Institute of Kosovo.
Fr. Lush Gjergji, a biographer of Mother Teresa, represented the Church in Kosovo at the meeting.
“This special year will open on December 10th 2009 on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of her Peace Nobel Prize,” Fr. Gjergji told SIR News.
Mother Teresa, whose birth name was Gonxha Bjoaxhiu, was born on August 26, 1910 in Skopjie in what was then the Ottoman Empire. Today, the city is capital of the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.
Her parents, of Albanian descent, were born in Kosovo and she often visited the land in her youth.
According to SIR News, she had a special bond with the Marian Sanctuary of Letnica on the Kosovo-Macedonia border.
Mother Teresa was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 20, 2003. Approval of her canonization is still pending. Her Feast Day is September 5.
London, England, Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - Invoking the example of St. Monica, a British bishop and a woman leading a mother’s prayer group program have invited all Catholics and especially Catholic mothers to pray for those who are removed from parish life.
Bishop Kieran Conry, who is responsible for evangelization in England and Wales, made his remarks to coincide with the launch of the annual “Come Home for Christmas” campaign.
He described St. Monica as the patron saint of inactive Catholics.
“She was a faithful wife and mother who prayed for years for her son to embrace the Christian faith. God answered her pleas and St Augustine became a great role model for generations of Christians throughout the ages.”
The saint’s example reminds us of the importance of Christian prayer but also of the need to be patient, he explained.
“She teaches us that no matter how long it takes we are to be positively engaged - through prayer, love and invitation - in supporting those who are 'resting' Catholics to reconnect with their local Christian community,” he continued.
Bishop Conry encouraged everyone, particularly mothers, to join in nine days of prayer from Dec. 12 to 20.
“By the grace of God let's pray that thousands experience a deep encounter with the living God and that the invitations we issue to 'come home' are warmly received," he said.
Veronica Williams, a founder of the international prayer group Mothers’ Prayers, added:
“We know that prayer works and are therefore very happy to support this initiative by promoting this novena. In our network we have hundreds and thousands of mothers praying in small groups united in prayer, and we have seen many mothers who because of their concern for their children come to our prayer groups and rediscover their faith.”
Other partners in the prayer effort include the National Board of Catholic Women and The Union of Catholic Mothers.
The effort’s website is at www.caseresources.org.uk
Canberra, Australia, Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - Calling on Australian Prime Minster Kevin Rudd to overturn the Australian Capital Territory Government’s new laws recognizing same-sex civil unions, Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Mark Coleridge has charged that the unions “mimic” marriage and will undermine its importance.
The ACT’s Legislative Assembly has passed laws for legally binding civil union ceremonies between same-sex couples. It is the third attempt to recognize the ceremonies, with the assembly’s previous legislation having been rejected by both the Rudd government and the Howard government, the Australian Associated Press reports.
Responding to the legislation, Archbishop Coleridge said in a Monday statement “It is vital for the life of the nation that marriage be supported and promoted in every way possible at a time when it is under severe pressure.”
He argued that civil unions would reduce marriage between a man and a woman to being merely one of a number of options. He explained that marriage is a recognition that the relationship between a man and a woman is “uniquely important” to society, in large part because it can beget children.
Saying it is wrong to deny justice to homosexuals, he added that justice concerns rights and duties.
“In this case we are not talking of the right of some to which there corresponds a duty for all. We are talking of a desire – something which some may want but to which they are not necessarily entitled.
“In this case, the kind of civil union desired by some undermines the common good, which is served only where marriage between a man and woman is identified and supported as unique and uniquely important for society.”
Archbishop Coleridge said that confusing desires and rights is bound to lead to bad law, as is the case when a government “focuses upon the individual at the expense of the community as a whole.”
The archbishop noted that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had made a “clear commitment” to prevent marriage from “being undermined in this way.”
“Until now he has shown admirable resolve in holding to that commitment,” the prelate’s letter concluded, calling for the Prime Minister and the government to act in the interests of the Australian community by overturning the ACT legislation.
Warsaw, Ind., Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - In a recent talk to the priests of his diocese, Bishop John D'Arcy spoke on the importance of priests remaining faithful to the Church's teachings on sexual morality and urged them to be courageous in their efforts.
Bishop D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne – South Bend diocese, centered his talk around the sub-theme of the Year for Priests given by Pope Benedict XVI, which is, “Fidelity of Christ, Fidelity of the Priest.” Drawing out the theme, the bishop spoke about areas that priests are called to fidelity, giving particular attention to what he called “fidelity to the truth.”
To illustrate the importance of priests remaining faithful to the truth, Bishop D'Arcy recounted two stories that he had recently heard in his diocese.
The bishop first told the story of Dr. Patrick Holly, a doctor in Fort Wayne who had always prescribed contraceptives to Catholic women and to women of all faiths. This eventually began to trouble the doctor and one day when he took his family to a Japanese restaurant, the owner greeted him by saying, “Oh, big family, good Catholic family, good Catholic man.” At that moment, “a grace came,” Bishop D'Arcy said. Dr. Holly thought to himself that he was not a good Catholic, nor a good Catholic doctor.
Despite the severe financial drawbacks, Dr. Holly went to his office Monday morning and told his staff that he would never again prescribe contraceptives. “He had heard the call of God to be faithful to the truth,” remarked Bishop D'Arcy, who explained to the priests of his diocese that, “Christ gives similar graces of courage to his pastors if we are open to them, and the courage to be faithful to the church – to truth.”
The bishop then told of a South Bend woman, a covert to the faith, who was unable to conceive a child.
She told the bishop of how encouraged she had been by her local parish for her fidelity to the Church's teachings, but also how hurt and scandalized she had been by a recent confessor at the University of Notre Dame's Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The woman said that after she shared her sorrows about not being able to have children in the confessional, the priest told her to try in vitro fertilization.
Bishop D'Arcy concluded these stories with the statement, “two people who were faithful to the truth, and one priest who was not.”
“The Church calls us, the Church ordains us, the Church gives the mission, the Church gives us the truth,” he told the priests in attendance. “We can never, in the confessional or the pulpit, give anything but the teaching of the church of Christ or ever imply that we support going against it.”
“Delicacy is called for,” Bishop D'Arcy continued, “and also restraint and understanding and compassion. But today, more than this, courage is called for on the part of priests. Courage to proclaim the truth, in season and out season.”
Harking back to his days as a student in Rome during the Second Vatican Council, Bishop D'Arcy recalled an encounter with Dorothy Day. She was asked what she thought the role of the priest was and what it meant to her, and she replied simply, “my priest is the one who gives me the hard saying.”
“Fidelity to the truth for the priest means that he is willing to give the hard saying,” emphasized the bishop. “Hard for himself, perhaps because he does not believe it strongly enough; because he thinks it it is too hard for the people and they might reject it. Or, a greater temptation, he may worry that they might reject him.”
Keeping the saying of Dorothy Day in mind, the almost retired Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend challenged his priests, saying,“I ask this question to you and to myself: have we been faithful to the truth and willing to give people the hard saying? My dear priests, I ask this question to myself in prayer and repentance and in truth, seeking only to know His will and to do it.”
Vatican City, Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) -
Following today's general audience, Benedict XVI appealed to the international community to respect the rights of children around the globe.
The Holy Father recalled that November 20 marks the United Nations Day of Prayer and Action for Children, saying, “My thoughts go to all the children of the world, especially those who live in difficult conditions, and suffer because of violence, abuse, sickness, war or hunger.”
“At the same time,” he continued, “I make an appeal to the international community to increase its efforts to offer an adequate response to the dramatic problems of infancy. May a generous commitment on everyone's part not be lacking so that the rights of children may be recognized and their dignity given ever greater respect."
Vatican City, Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) -
In his catechesis to the 8,000 present during Wednesday's general audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of "the glory of the Christian Middle Ages," the Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals. He described how the early Christians' medieval structures reveal their faith and glorify the Lord.
The Holy Father noted that the Christian faith, “rooted in the men and women of the Middle Ages” inspired “some of the most exalted artistic creations of all civilization.” He explained that in medieval times, the historical conditions were more favorable to artistic creation due to the increase in population, trade and wealth.
These developments enabled the construction of churches where the liturgy could be celebrated with dignity, he added.
One of the novelties of Romanesque churches, Pope Benedict continued, was the introduction of sculptures which, more than seeking technical perfection, "had an educational aim... Their recurring theme was the representation of Christ as Judge, surrounded by the figures of the Apocalypse. In general it is the portals of Romanesque churches that present this image, underlining the fact that Christ is the Door that leads to heaven."
Benedict XVI then turned his attention to the Gothic cathedrals of the 12th and 13th centuries, characterized, he said, by "their vertical thrust and luminosity."
They, he continued, "reveal a synthesis of faith and art, harmoniously expressed through the universal and captivating language of beauty.” The Gothic cathedral translates the aspirations of the soul into architectural lines. The walls were pierced and decorated with stained glass windows, from which, "a cascade of light poured upon the faithful to explain the liturgical year, telling the story of salvation."
"In those centuries the perception of humanity of the Lord spread, the sufferings of the Passion were depicted in a realistic way, images that grew to be loved by all, inspiring pity and repentance for sins," the Pope expounded. "Gothic sculpture made cathedrals 'Bibles of stone,' depicting the episodes of the Gospel and illustrating the passages of the liturgical year, from the Nativity to the Glorification of the Lord.”
Benedict XVI underlined two elements of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Firstly, "the artistic masterpieces created in Europe over previous centuries are incomprehensible if we do not take account of the religious spirit that inspired them," he said. "When faith, especially as celebrated in the liturgy, encounters art, a profound harmony is created because both wish to speak of God, to make the Invisible visible."
Secondly, "the force of the Romanesque and the splendor of Gothic cathedrals remind us that the 'via pulchritudinis,' the way of beauty, is a privileged and fascinating way to approach the Mystery of God," the Pontiff indicated.
"May the Lord help us,” he concluded, “to rediscover the way of beauty as one of the paths, perhaps the most attractive and captivating, to encounter and to love God."
Vatican City, Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - Following his general audience Wednesday afternoon, Pope Benedict XVI met with Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh and on Tuesday evening met with Pierre Nkurunziza, president of the Republic of Burundi.
The Holy Father and Prime Minister Hasina cordially discussed opinions on the current state of Bangladesh as well as the primary challenges facing the country today. The conversation touched on the current efforts in Bangladesh to promote a society open to and respectful of human rights and also referenced the relationship between church and state authorities. Attention was given to the valued contributions that the Catholic Church has made to Bangladeshi society through education, healthcare, social life and general assistance.
After her meeting with the Pope, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was greeted by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
Tuesday evening in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, Pope Benedict received in audience Pierre Nkurunziza, president of the Republic of Burundi.
Pope Benedict and the Burundi President addressed topics of mutual interest during the amicable discussion, such as the fundamental importance of dialogue and the respect for human rights in creating a stable society. The Holy Father and President Nkurunziza also discussed the Catholic Church's commitment to contributing to the development of the country by means of spiritual assistance, education, health care, and social-humanitarian work.
Also discussed was the potential for a framework agreement to guarantee the juridical status of the Catholic Church and her activities in Burundi.
After his conversation with the Pope, President Pierre Nkurunziza went on to meet Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., along with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
Fatima, Portugal, Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - At the conclusion of their Plenary Assembly at the Shrine of Fatima, the bishops of Portugal stated that any form of euthanasia, or any “action or omission that, by its nature or intentions, provokes death,” is unacceptable.
In response to efforts to promote euthanasia in Portugal, the bishops issued a pastoral letter entitled, “Caring For Life Until Death.” “Nobody is the absolute owner of his or her own life and much less of the lives of others. Therefore,” they said, “assisted suicide of any kind is ethically equivalent to euthanasia.”
The prelates stressed that palliative care and attention are the best answers to alleviating suffering, but noted that it is ethically permissible to avoid extraordinary measures of care.
The legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide would inevitably lead to pressure on those whose health is not up to society’s standards, “making them feel like an unwanted burden or inconvenience,” the bishops stated.
Baltimore, Md., Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - On the final day of their annual meeting, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published a pastoral letter on marriage titled “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” which restates and clarifies the Church's teachings to empower those seeking to defend marriage against the cultural currents of cohabitation, contraception, divorce and same sex unions.
“Thank goodness this is out there, clearly stated, with ample documentation and very reasonably put forward,” Baltimore's Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien told the Baltimore Sun. “I think it's going to be a very positive document.”
The pastoral letter does not represent any new teaching on the part of the Catholic Church or the USCCB. Instead, it strives to be a definitive source used as a reference for those defending traditional marriage.
Noting that “couples too often reflect a lack of understanding of the purposes of marriage,” the document states that “marriage is a lifelong partnership of the whole of life, of mutual and exclusive fidelity, by mutual consent between a man and a woman, and ordered towards the good of the and the procreation of offspring.”
“Marriage is not merely a private institution,” the bishops wrote. “It is the foundation for the family, where children learn the values and virtues that will make good Christians as well as good citizens,” which demonstrates the integral nature of marriage in society.
The letter emphasizes that “male-female complementarity is essential to marriage.” This is because “man and woman are two different ways of being a human person.” “They are different as male and female, but the same as human persons who are uniquely suited to be partners or helpmates for each other.”
Also important to the complementarity aspect of marriage is the fact that “marriage does not exist solely for the reproduction of another member of the species, but for the creation of a communion of persons.” Thus, the document asserts, marriage has two ends or purposes. It is both unitive and procreative. This means it is oriented towards the good of the spouses as well as the raising of children. These two goods of marriage cannot be separated.
The pastoral letter also addresses the sanctity of marriage as a vocation and gives encouragement in dealing with the threats of contraception, cohabitation, divorce, and the call for legal recognition of same sex unions.
"People are entering into marriage probably without an adequate appreciation of the beauty of marriage and the gift that it is," Archbishop O'Brien said. "The document is meant to strengthen Christian marriage, to prepare people who are going to be married before they enter that bond to appreciate what the commitment is, and also to open a discussion in our culture as to what the differences are today and to try to reach some common ground."
Baltimore, Md., Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - The U.S. bishops have approved a document regarding the moral use of reproductive technologies for couples struggling with infertility yet desire to have children. The document, titled “Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology,” examines the procreative and unitive aspects of marriage which lead to the creation of children, and analyzes how technology can be used to assist infertile couples.
The document begins by declaring that “in marriage, man and woman are united to each other, body and soul, through a loving physical union.” This union, they explain, is essential to the creation and raising of children.
However, the document continues, simply because the desired end is good, that of having a biological child together, it does not justify “every possible means.” Thus, means of treating infertility which involve third parties, those who donate eggs, sperm, or embryos, or those which make use of another woman's womb to carry the couple's child, are immoral because they violate the unitive aspect of the marital union, “just as its unitive aspect would be violated by sexual relations with a person outside the marriage,” says the document.
The use of donors is also harmful to the third parties, as “fertility clinics show disrespect for young men and women when they treat them as commodities, by offering large sums of money for sperm or egg donors with specific intellectual, physical, or personality traits.” Such cash incentives encourage the donors to abuse the gift of their own fertility and often jeopardize the lives of the women through egg-extraction procedures.
The document also addresses treatments which do not involve third parties, yet are still immoral in their separation of the sexual act from the procreative act. This is why, the bishops explain, substituting the technical procedure of using a syringe to deliver the husband's sperm to the wife's uterus cannot be morally justified.
“Children have a right to be conceived by the act that expresses embodies their parents’ self-giving love; morally responsible medicine can assist this act but never substitute for it,” the bishops state. Therefore, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is also not morally justified, as the procreative act is not performed within the loving context of marital relations.
Additionally, IVF procedures often create extra embryos, which are often frozen indefinitely, disposed as laboratory waste, or used in further medical experiments, despite the fact that each embryo represents a complete human person. Alternatively, IVF procedures feature high mortality rates as well as the moral and psychological pain of “selective reduction” which chooses to abort one or more babies if more than the desired number of embryos take hold inside the womb.
The document highlights the fact that “male and female bodies are made to be able to procreate together.” It states that the use of treatments which help the body function as it should are morally acceptable. Thus, “hormonal treatment and other medications, conventional or laser surgery to repair damaged or blocked fallopian tubes, means for alleviating male infertility factors, and other
restorative treatments,” as well as natural family planning (NFP) techniques are encouraged for infertile couples.
Ultimately, no one, not even IVF clinics, can guarantee the gift of children to a hopeful couple. Their suffering “should call forth the sympathy and support of others and of the whole Church,” the U.S. prelates write.
The bishops also cite Pope John Paul II, who said, “To couples who cannot have children of their own I say: you are no less loved by God; your love for each other is complete and fruitful when it is open to others, to the needs of the apostolate, to the needs of the poor, to the needs of orphans, to the needs of the world.” (Homily at Mass for families, Onitsha, Nigeria, February 13, 1982).
Vatican City, Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano (LOR) published several articles in its November 17 edition which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the movie “Ben Hur.” The film, which was released on November 18, 1959 and starred Charlton Heston, became the first movie to receive 11 Oscar awards.
In an article entitled, “Hollywood in Rome For A Christian Story,” LOR explained that the movie was filmed in the studios of Cinecitta by director William Wyler, who created a screenplay free of much of the heaviness of the original novel written in 1880 by Lew Wallace.
Ben Hur demonstrates Wyler’s ability to balance the storyline with the personal struggles of the characters. Many of the film’s scenes, including Ben Hur’s conversion to Christianity, were contextually unusual in a movie of this magnitude. LOR said the film would also be remembered for its use of the most advanced special effects of the day.
The Vatican daily also noted that the book by Lew Wallace “was a world-wide best-seller for many years and earned the author a level of fame enjoyed by very few writers.”
“The reader enjoys a particular treasure from the very first pages of the novel which are dedicated to the encounter between the Magi,” LOR underscored, adding that the reader is effortlessly transported to a time and place of long ago. Thus Wallace not only lays the groundwork for the modern historical novel, but surprisingly also delves into cultural anthropology,” the article said.
LOR also praised the film’s star Charlton Heston, who was married for 64 years, “a record for Hollywood,” to Lydia Marie Clarke, with whom he had two children, Fraser and Holly.
Their marital love led actors like Kirk Douglas to say, “Neither Ava Gardner or Sophia Loren distracted him. He only had eyes for Lydia.”
Baltimore, Md., Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - During this week's Fall General Assembly, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved revision guidelines for medically assisted nutrition and hydration, particularly for patients in a vegetative state.
The USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services revision passed with 219 bishops in favor, 4 opposed and 1 abstaining.
The revised directive takes into account teachings from the late Pope John Paul II and the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith and states in stronger terms the need to provide food and water to patients in a persistent vegetative state.
“As a general rule, there is an obligation to provide patients with food and water, including medically assisted nutrition and hydration for those who cannot take food orally. This obligation extends to patients in chronic conditions (e.g. the 'persistent vegetative state') who can reasonably be expected to live indefinitely if given such care,” states the revised directive.
Given cases like that of Terry Schiavo, who died in 2005 when her feeding tube was removed, the need for stronger terminology and a more definitive stance on the issue from U.S. bishops had become apparent.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was Karol Wojtyla’s personal secretary for 40 years, is visiting Argentina this week to speak about the life of the late Pontiff and his cause of beatification.
According to the AICA news agency, Cardinal Dziwisz was invited by the Catholic University of Argentina to visit the country, where the government of Buenos Aires bestowed on him the title of “Illustrious Citizen.” The cardinal spoke to seminarians and students at the university’s theology school about John Paul II as a “prophet of peace.”
Cardinal Dziwisz will remain in Argentina until November 22. He will visit several Polish communities, the Basilica of Our Lady of Lujan, and he will meet with college students.
The cardinal's visit will center on the unveiling of a bust of John Paul II that will be displayed at the St. Joseph Convention Center, outside the auditorium that is named in his honor.
Cardinal Dziwisz will also receive an honorary doctorate from the Catholic University of Argentina for “his faithful and unconditional service to the Catholic Church.”
Baltimore, Md., Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - On Tuesday, a motion from Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Penn. to reject the new liturgical translations failed to garner sufficient votes from the U.S. bishops. The prelates went on to approve the new liturgical texts which will be implemented in the U.S. beginning in 2010.
Bishop Trautman, who has headed the bishops' liturgy committee in the past and is a strong supporter of gender-neutral translations, tried to stop the vote on the new liturgical texts by arguing that handing the translation of antiphons for the Psalms to the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Vatican was in violation of Church laws.
In front of his colleagues, gathered in Baltimore for the Fall USCCB general assembly, the Bishop of Erie argued that "no matter how well intended," a Vatican dicastery "cannot trump the magisterial authority of the constitution of an ecumenical council."
Bishop Trautman was referring to the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy, "Sacrosanctum Concilium," which establishes that, in general, translations must be approved by the bishops of the territories where they will be used.
He then suggested that Cardinal George was breaking Church laws by giving authorization to the Vatican to handle the antiphons which only a small portion of the liturgical translations being reviewed. He then proposed that the bishops insist on being given a final draft from the international translation committee in order that they be able to review it, suggest improvements, and vote on it.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the USCCB, explained that permission was given to Vatican officials after other English-speaking nations had complained that the U.S. bishops were taking too long to approve the translation.
As Bishop Trautman continued to insist, Cardinal George responded, "I feel as if we're doing guerilla warfare here."
"Maybe the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops could sue the Congregation [for Divine Worship] in the Apostolic Signatura," said Cardinal George, drawing laughter from the audience.
It is highly unlikely for an episcopate to sue a dicastery over such an issue, though it is technically possible.
Bishop Trautman's proposal was submitted to vote, with the majority of bishops supporting Cardinal George's decision to accept the Vatican translation 194-20.
The final five groups of prayers passed each with support from at least 88 percent of the bishops.
Bishop Arthur Serratelli, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, thanked the bishops after approving the last group of texts, calling it "a historic moment."
"I know the text isn't perfect, but perfection will come when the liturgy on earth gives way to that of heaven, as all the saints praise God with one voice,” Serratelli said.
The new liturgical translations which have been approved by the bishops will include minor changes, mostly aimed at making the English liturgy more faithful to the original in Latin.
Some of the changes are minor. For example, after the changes are implemented, the faithful will respond to the priestly invocation of "The Lord be with you" by saying "And with your spirit" which is a more faithful translation of the original in Latin "Et cum spiritu tuo," than the phrase currently in use "and also with you."
Other changes are more significant and theologically sound, such as those made to the Gloria and Apostles' Creed.
Nevertheless, most of the changes apply to the parts of the Mass that are recited by the priest.
The translation will be sent to the Vatican for approval, which is expected sometime in 2010.
Baltimore, Md., Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - By a simple majority vote at their fall assembly in Baltimore, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has elected the new chairmen-elect of five committees.
By a 118-114 vote, Archbishop of St. Louis Robert J. Carlson was chosen over Bishop of Raleigh, N. Carolina Michael F. Burbidge to become chairman-elect of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory M. Aymond was elected as future leader of the Committee on Divine Worship by a 126-110 vote over Archbishop of Detroit Allen H. Vigneron.
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif. will be chairman-elect of the Committee on Domestic Justice, after a 120-117 vote over the other nominee, Bishop of Venice, Fla. Frank J. Dewane.
The USCCB chose Bishop of Harrisburg, Penn. Kevin Rhoades as the chairman-elect of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. He was favored by a vote of 145-93 over Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph F. Naumann.
On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Rhoades as the next bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind.
Archbishop of San Antonio José H. Gomez was chosen by a 132-105 vote over Bishop of Laredo, Texas James A. Tamayo to become chairman-elect of the Committee on Migration.
Chairmen-elect serve for one year before assuming the responsibilities of chairmen, the USCCB reports.
In other votes, the four bishops elected to the board of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) were Bishop of Savannah, Ga. Kevin Boland; Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore Denis Madden; Bishop of Portland, Maine Richard Malone; and Bishop Joseph Cistone of Saginaw, Mich.
Bishop Richard Garcia of Monterey, Calif. and Auxiliary Bishop of Seattle Eusebio Elizondo were elected to the board of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).
Washington D.C., Nov 18, 2009 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Washington’s announcement that services would have to be cut if the District of Columbia City Council recognizes same-sex “marriage” without religious exemptions was not a “threat” or “ultimatum” but a simple recognition of the policy’s consequences, the Archbishop of Washington said in an opinion essay in the Washington Post.
Without strong religious freedom protections, the proposed legislation would force the Church to choose between expressing Christ’s love in service to others and defending the nature of marriage, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl wrote in his Nov. 17 essay.
“The archdiocese and Catholic Charities are committed to continuing to provide services in the District. Despite the headlines, there has been no threat or ultimatum to end services, just a simple recognition that the new requirements by the city for religious organizations to recognize same-sex marriages in their policies could restrict our ability to provide the same level of services as we do now.”
The archbishop wrote that the city itself would withhold contracts and licenses because Catholic Charities and other religious organizations cannot comply with city mandates to “recognize and promote” same-sex marriages.
Contracts for affordable housing projects, homeless services, mental health services, and foster care are among the projects endangered by the legislation, which requires religious organizations to recognize and promote same-sex marriage everywhere except for religious ceremonies, religion classes and retreats.
“It doesn’t need to be that way,” Archbishop Wuerl said.
“While we do not agree with the council on redefining marriage, we recognize that it is firmly committed to opening marriage to homosexual couples,” he added. “We are asking that new language be developed that more fairly balances different interests — those of the city to redefine marriage and those of faith groups so that they can continue to provide services without compromising their deeply held religious teachings and beliefs.”
The archbishop explained that the archdiocese was joined in its call for stronger religious freedom protections by groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, and nationally recognized legal scholars.
He said the legislation offers “little protection” for religious beliefs and no protections for individuals, which he said is required under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Reporting that each year 68,000 people in the District rely on Catholic Charities for shelter, food, medical and legal care, job training, immigration assistance and other services, the archbishop noted that this assistance is provided to whoever needs it regardless of sexual orientation.
“Catholic Charities has a proven track record of high-quality service, supported through caring, qualified staff, thousands of dedicated volunteers and millions of dollars in financial support from parishioners all over the region. This legislation won’t end Catholic Charities’ services, but it would reduce unnecessarily the resources available for outreach.”
Archbishop Wuerl expressed hope that city council members will work with the diocese so that religious organizations’ decades-long service to the District may continue “without compromising the tenets of their faith.”