Archive of November 23, 2009

Vatican official explains that Anglican conversions are fruit of authentic ecumenism

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, explained last week that the entrance of  Anglicans into the Catholic Church is the fruit of authentic ecumenism inspired by the Second Vatican Council.

On the eve of a scheduled meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the leader of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Rowan Williams, Cardinal Kasper commented on the openness of the Catholic Church to Anglicans who asked to be admitted into full communion.

Ecumenism is not an “option” that the Church can accept or reject but is rather “a sacred duty,” he said.

“Ecumenism is not an appendix of our pastoral obligations or a luxury. The principles of the Vatican II decree ‘Unitatis redintegratio,’ that is, ecumenism in truth and love, are also valid for the future. This decree is the magna carta of our ecumenical journey towards the future,” the cardinal said.

The decree "Unitatis redintegratio” states that “promoting the restoration of unity between all Christians is one of the main ends proposed by the sacrosanct Vatican Council II,” he added.

Cardinal Kasper added that the effort to reach out to Anglicans is in complete conformity with the decree, “which distinguishes between conversions and ecumenism as dialogue with the other churches for the purpose of full communion.”

He reiterated that the decree does not represent “a new ecumenism,” but rather the fruit of the ecumenical dialogue of recent decades, “a strong drive to move ahead in our ecumenical commitment.”

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Holy Father to kick off Advent with celebration of Vespers

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - On Saturday at 5 p.m., Pope Benedict will preside over the celebration of first Vespers at the Vatican Basilica for the beginning of Advent.

Also this month, the Holy Father's itinerary follows:

- Tuesday 8. Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.  At 4 p.m. in Piazza di Spagna, veneration of the Virgin.

- Thursday 24. Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity. At 10 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica the Pope will celebrate Midnight Mass.

- Friday 25. Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity. At 12 p.m. the Pope will impart the Urbi et Orbi blessing from the central balcony of the Vatican Basilica.

- Thursday 31. At 8 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica the Holy Father will preside over first Vespers in thanksgiving for the closing year.

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Cardinal Cordes invited to Australia

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - The Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference has invited Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of "Cor Unum," to meet with them with the purpose of strengthening “ the Catholic Church's witness in the field of charity.”

“Cor Unum” is the Vatican dicastery in charge of the Church's charitable agencies and works. Earlier this month, Cardinal Cordes said that Pope Benedict's encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” has set the agenda for “Cor Unum's” future works. The dicastery itself promotes “the constructive witness of Christian individuals and communities in the varied world of charity and volunteering,” the Cardinal added.

Cardinal Cordes will meet with the bishops during their plenary assembly in Sydney. He will also discuss the different facets of charity with priests, seminarians, charity workers, and various lay groups.
His talks will reflect on the teachings of “Deus Caritas Est” combined with the experience of the local churches.

“The aim of the visit is to strengthen the Catholic Church's witness in the field of charity. Benedict XVI has made the mission of 'diakonia' a focal point of his teaching, which together with the proclamation of the Word of God and the celebration of the Sacraments, expresses the Church's deepest nature,” said an English-language communiqué regarding the Cardinal's visit.

The cardinal will also give a lecture on “Caritas in Veritate” at the Australian Catholic University.

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Benedict XVI and Prime Minister of Kuwait discuss the promotion of peace

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI received in audience Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait. The two heads of state discussed the promotion of peace in the Middle East and highlighted the contributions Christians have made to the country.

During their meeting, the Holy Father and prime minister discussed the excellent bilateral relationship between the Holy See and Kuwait for more than 40 years.

Conversation then then touched on the issue of promoting of peace and inter-religious dialogue in the Middle East. The two heads of state also discussed the significant positive contributions that the Christian minority makes to Kuwaiti society, emphasizing the need for pastoral assistance to its community.

Following his audience with the Holy Father, the Kuwaiti Prime Minister was greeted by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

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Vatican expert releases book supporting beatification of Pope John Paul II

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - In his recently released book “Santo Subito” (Immediate Saint), Vatican journalist and author Andrea Tornielli makes a compelling case for the beatification of Pope John Paul II.  Using anecdotes and witness' accounts of moments in the Pope's life, he relates the profound imprint left by Karol Wojtyla on humanity, in his living and through his death.

The content of Tornielli's stories is at times rather unexpected, as in the account of a religious sister who often heard the Pope practicing corporal mortification from her nearby room in Castel Gandolfo.  She tells of having heard the sounds of the Pope whipping himself during the night.  “He did this while he was still able to move on his own,” she says in the interview.

Pope Paul VI was also known by his secretaries to have participated in the same actions, to “remind himself better of the cross Christ bore for the redemption of the world.”

The book also recounts the emotional moment when Pope John Paul II struggled to make a final appearance at his apartment window at St. Peter's Square, coming twice to the window without being able to say a word.  Multitudes traveled to visit in the days before and after his death.

Two days after he died, many called aloud for his  immediate sainthood - that he become a “santo subito.”

The book, currently only available in Italian, was released on the heels of a recent post on Tornielli's blog at Il Giornale, an Italian newspaper, that reported last week that the “way has been cleared” by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for the next step in the beatification of Pope John Paul II.  According to the report, his case needs only Pope Benedict's signature to give JPII “venerable” status

Once made venerable, a miracle will then need to be attributed to the intercession of John Paul II.

The new book from Tornielli is the latest installment in an impressive catalog of Vatican-themed books from the Italian author.  His collection also includes biographies of Popes Pius XII and Paul VI.  


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Pope appoints bishop for diocese in Nova Scotia

Vatican City, Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Brian Joseph Dunn as bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, Canada. Bishop Dunn currently serves as auxiliary bishop of Sault Sainte Marie, Canada.

“We are grateful to the Holy Father for recognizing the particular needs of our church by naming a new Bishop in such a timely manner,” said Fr. Paul Abbass, spokesman for the Diocese of Antigonish.

“While our diocese is facing times of challenge and struggle we are also a diocese with a history of deep faith and working together. It is in this spirit that we continue to seek pathways to healing and rebuilding,” continued Fr. Abbass in a statement released by the Diocese of Antigonish. “We are pleased to welcome Bishop Dunn as he joins us on this journey forward and we offer him our cooperation and support.”

According to the Diocese of Antigonish, Bishop Dunn was born in St. John's, Newfoundland and attended school locally until he began his priestly formation St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario. Bishop Dunn was ordained to the priesthood in 1980 and went on to complete post-graduate studies in Theology and Canon Law. Aside from his pastoral ministries throughout the years, the bishop also served as a lecturer and faculty member St. Peter's Seminary, teaching a variety of courses and eventually becoming Dean of Studies.

Bishop Dunn was ordained a bishop in 2008 and since has served as one of the auxiliary bishops of the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, Canada.

“The People, Priests and Religious of the Diocese of Antigonish welcome the news of the appointment of our new Bishop Brian Joseph Dunn,” stated Fr. Abbass on Saturday. “In keeping with our rich culture and tradition may our first words be ones of Welcome, Hospitality and Prayer.”

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Traveling play 'Vianney' visits USCCB conference

Baltimore, Md., Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - Saint Luke Productions' traveling play “Vianney” was a featured event at the fall assembly of the USCCB this year. But the play wasn't just entertainment, it was a message to the bishops that despite all the negative publicity concerning the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, Catholics across the country love their bishops, their priests and the example of sacrifice that John Vianney embodied.

Francis Cardinal George, president of the USCCB, invited St. Luke Productions to the fall meeting. He has also hosted the play for 400 priests in his own Archdiocese of Chicago, and for 800 people at Chicago's Mundelein Seminary.

“The play Vianney was marvelously well done, of course, and it is as powerful as it is because John Vianney's story is one that continues always with the principalities and powers in conflict with the grace of Christ, which is the key to that battle,” Cardinal George said in a press release. “I think the play brings it home to priests... We have many administrative problems and we have this and that to deal with in the Church, but in the end it is about the story of sin and grace as seen in this drama. We are grateful as priests for the role that our vocation provides to bring us into this battle,” he continued.

The play itself is produced by Leonardo Defilippis, director and star of the film “Thérèse.” It tells the story of St. John Vianney, Curé of Ars,who lived from 1786 to 1859. Though St. John Vianney was no intellectual giant, he revived the faith of the community of Ars and pilgrims came to hear him preach and confess their sins from across Europe.

St. John Vianney is known as the patron of parish priests.

"This kind of event is just what Pope Benedict intended when he instituted a Year for Priests," remarked Karissa Burt, the Live Drama Coordinator for Saint Luke Productions. "The people are so grateful to Leonardo Defilippis for answering his call."

The production of “Vianney” is the first time a live drama production has ever been presented at a meeting of the USCCB. The reactions of the bishops were positive, and attendance for the optional event at the busy conference was high. “It was very inspirational, very moving. Humanity was touched by divinity in this man, and we hope it will bear fruit in this Year for Priests," said Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

For more information about “Vianney,” visit:

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Cardinal Rouco urges restraint of government intrusion

Madrid, Spain, Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - During the Eleventh Congress on Catholics and Public Life, which was held last week in Madrid, the city's Archbishop and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, warned that politicians must not “intrude” in all aspects of society.

In his remarks opening the event, Cardinal Rouco said the major issues facing politicians today are related to fundamental rights, as well as the principle of sovereignty and its relationship to the common good.  Regarding the first point, the cardinal pointed to how the right to life is treated by practically all of the European governments.  In his opinion, this “calls into question” the way in which the right is understood.

Regarding sovereignty, the cardinal wondered whether sovereignty could be set aside from the ethical values of society and still exist.  Finally, he addressed the significance of the common good.  “Much is already gained if it is stated that the common good is the good of almost everyone, and that it has to do with the fundamental goods of the person,” he added.

Cardinal Rouco closed his remarks by reading a telegram from Pope Benedict XVI, who offered his prayers for the event and said he hoped the congress would promote Christian values in society and in politics.

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Vatican says 'no' to use of Catholic church for Anglican ordination

Bendigo, Australia, Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - The Vatican has said “no” to the use of a Catholic church in Australia for the ordination of four women and three men as Anglican Deacons.

St. Killian's Catholic Church in the Australian Diocese of Sandhurst was proposed as the ordination site after the local Anglican cathedral was closed due to safety concerns.

According to The Advertiser, the ordination was set to take place at the Catholic church before the Catholic Bishop Joseph Grech of the Diocese of Sandherst addressed the issue with Archbishop Guissppe Lazzarato, who was appointed the apostolic nuncio to Australia last year.

“After much discussion with Archbishop Guissppe Lazzarato and the Vatican, the ramifications were investigated,” said Bishop Grech.

“The Catholic Church's doctrine on the ordination of deacons and priests is well known,” continued the bishop. “There were certain issues within the doctrine that created problems. It's the best thing for both churches.”

Bishop Grech indicated that he still has a great rapport with Anglican Diocese of Bendigo's Bishop Andrew Curnow, and according to the local newspaper, the Anglican ordination is now taking place at St. Andrew's Uniting Church this Sunday.

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EWTN's Fr. Mitch Pacwa to appear on CNN tonight

Irondale, Ala., Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - EWTN host Fr. Mitch Pacwa is scheduled to appear on CNN's “No Bias, No Bull” tonight at 8:30 p.m. EST to discuss the controversy surrounding Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin and Rep. Patrick Kennedy.

In an interview published on Sunday by the Providence Journal, Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island), son of the late Edward Kennedy, said that “the bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion.”

Kennedy also said that Bishop Tobin allegedly explained the penalty by telling him “that I am not a good practicing Catholic because of the positions that I’ve taken as a public official.”

Later in the day, Bishop Tobin issued a statement clarifying the terms of his decision.

“I am disappointed and really surprised that Congressman Patrick Kennedy has chosen to reopen the public discussion about his practice of the faith and his reception of Holy Communion. This comes almost two weeks after the Congressman indicated to local media that he would no longer comment publicly on his faith or his relationship with the Catholic Church,” Bishop Tobin wrote.

Regarding tonight's show, EWTN Executive Vice President Doug Keck remarked, “We feel good about the fact that Father Mitch Pacwa of EWTN was seen as someone who could bring a solid Catholic perspective to this issue.”

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Bishops of England and Wales establish commission to help Anglicans join Catholic church

London, England, Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have set up a commission to help as many as 200 Anglican congregations join the Catholic Church under the new Apostolic Constitution.

John Broadhurst, the Anglican Bishop of Fulham and chairman of the Anglo-Catholic group Forward in Faith, said mass conversion was a real prospect, the Daily Mail reports.

“We have a thousand priest members in my organization and there are many others who agree with us,” Bishop Broadhurst said. “The main issue for many Anglican priests is now the ownership of parish churches.”

The commission may consider the possibility of church sharing or making 100-year leases of some Anglican buildings.

Apparently in response to news of Pope Benedict XVI’s provision for Anglicans who want to become Catholic, one Anglo-Catholic parish has been vandalized and its vicar has received a threatening phone call.

Fr. David Waller of St. Saviour’s Church in Walthamstow in North East London discovered the church sign defaced with the words “C of E No Pope” painted in white.

According to the Telegraph blogger Damien Thompson, the priest found a message on his answering machine threatening him with physical violence.

However, the message was distorted and “sounded drunken,” the Anglican priest reported, saying he didn’t want to “make too much of it.”

The parish is part of Forward in Faith.

Fr. Waller said that the parish has not made a decision about its future, but he is encouraged by the Pope’s offer of a Personal Ordinariate for Anglicans.

“The key players in the parish, including the churchwardens, are completely disillusioned with the Church of England and see the Ordinariate as the solution,” the priest told Thompson. “I can’t speak for all the silent folk in the pews, but a significant number of them are Eastern European Roman Catholics, so I don’t think it would be a problem for them.”

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Critics of Senate health care bill fault abortion funding and taxes on married couples

Washington D.C., Nov 23, 2009 (CNA) - Pro-life and conservative leaders reacted critically to the Senate’s Saturday decision to proceed on a Senate bill they say would provide government funding for elective abortion, create a new tax penalty on married couples and fail to protect the consciences of health care providers.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins charged that the vote disregards the consciences of the majority of Americans and would create "the largest expansion of abortions since the 1970s."

"Forcing Americans to buy government approved health care insurance is arguably unconstitutional. Forcing Americans to fund abortion within the government plan is without question unconscionable," Perkins said in a statement.

He expressed disappointment that pro-life Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Neb.) and Bob Casey (D-Penn.) voted to advance the bill.

Perkins said the Senate should have included the "bipartisan" Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed in the U.S. House. Instead, he charged, it includes a "watered down version" of the Capps Amendment which would fund the abortion industry.

Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women of America, said that several Senators have "tried to have it both ways."

"They say they oppose the bill yet at the most crucial time when only one Democrat senator could have changed or killed the bill, they supported it," Wright said.

She contrasted the vote on the Senate bill with a vote last year on an amendment to ensure that federal funds did not pay for abortions through the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. Eight Democratic Senators, including Nelson and Casey, voted for that provision.

"Harry Reid's bill will impose a new tax penalty on married couples who jointly make $250,000 annually. People who 'shack up' can earn up to $200,000 each before being taxed," Wright charged.

She claimed that the Senate bill could fine those with "unacceptable" health insurance, cause five million to lose employer-covered health insurance, cut Medicare by over $460 million and leave 24 million without insurance.

Also critical was Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, who said the failure of pro-life Democrats in the Senate was "gravely disappointing."

"Senators should consider themselves on notice: America is still waiting for you to strike government funded abortion from this legislation," she added.

Dannenfelser said Sens. Casey, Nelson, Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) will be held "especially accountable."

"Their first opportunity to defend Life was on the motion to proceed. Their last chance will be on the final cloture vote to end debate. A vote to close debate without the addition of strong pro-life language will be a vote for government-funded abortion," she said, calling the last the "ultimate betrayal" of pro-life constituents and others who oppose government-funded abortion.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life Action described the Senate bill as providing for an "unprecedented" expansion of federally funded abortion. She charged that the legislation moves towards redefining abortion as health care, fails to protect the consciences of medical providers and fails to prohibit federal funding of assisted suicide.

She praised the House health care bill’s restrictions on abortion funding as a demonstration of a "bipartisan pro-life majority."

Douglas Johnson, Legislative Director of the Right to Life Committee, said the Senate bill would authorize the federal government to pay for "any and all abortions" through the proposed "public option" plan and also to subsidize the purchase of private plans that cover abortion on demand.

He charged that President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid know abortion-promoting policies are "deeply unpopular" and try to conceal them with "contorted definitions and money-laundering schemes."

Johnson recalled that the Stupak-Pitts Amendment passed in the U.S. House by 240-194. He said that a "courageous group of pro-life Democrats" in the House will oppose final approval of health care legislation if that Amendment is "gutted or removed."

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