Archive of January 30, 2010

Same-sex adoption displays contempt for children, warns council

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 30, 2010 (CNA) - Members of the Council of Catholic Analysts of Mexico have criticized Mexico City’s law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, saying it reveals the contempt lawmakers of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) have for children and human life.

“The legalization of these homosexual unions and their adoption of children, together with the perverse legalization of abortion in Mexico City in 2007, show us the degree of scorn for children and human life that local lawmakers display,” the Council said. It warned that such laws conflict with the fundamental human rights recognized in various international agreements.

The Mexico City law, it said, constitutes “a serious threat for the country,” because it not only destroys the essence of heterosexual marriage, but also disrupts “the social order by attacking the basic cell of society, which is the family.” The council stated that any law granting “special privileges to a harmful ideology,” is “biologically, anthropologically, religiously, legally and socially unacceptable.”

Allowing children to be adopted by same-sex couples is to subject them to “violence of all sorts (such as psychological), as their fragile condition as children is taken advantage of in order to introduce them into environments that do not foster their full development.”

The council also came to the defense of the Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, and the bishops by speaking against the hatred and social violence being promoted by “some partisans and activists.”

“We support their statements on the issue (of same-sex marriage and adoption), and as part of the body of Christ. We consider the accusations of ‘intolerance’ to which our shepherds have been recently subjected as absurd.”

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Family, friends contribute to discernment, explains vocations director

Anchorage, Alaska, Jan 30, 2010 (CNA) - The call to the priesthood does not occur in a vacuum. Family, friends, clergy and religious play crucial roles — their input is part of the calling process. This was one theme that emerged from the Anchorage Archdiocese’s recent vocations dinner, in which 11 men came to explore the priesthood.

From the community

“I think everyone should answer the question of whether God is calling them to the priesthood or religious life,” Father Tom Lilly, vocations director for the archdiocese, told the Anchor. But in order to hear the call, most will need parents, teachers, pastors and friends to encourage them, he added.

Last month's gathering at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Anchorage included college students, soldiers and business professionals who came to consider whether they might be called to be priests.

Despite varying backgrounds and ages, the men shared one thing in common — someone had actively encouraged them to at least consider the priesthood.

If the Catholic Church is going to reverse the disturbing trend of dwindling numbers of priests, the whole community must participate, Father Lilly explained.

That includes official vocations dinners but also many informal moments that might consist of a passing comment or observation.

“There are vocation events in families, schools and parishes,” he said.

Catholic schools play an important role in this, Father Lilly noted.

“Any good teacher encourages students to rise to their full potential, whether it be as writers, scientists or other things,” he said. “Along with that, teachers may see the potential for a student to be a priest or woman religious or a deacon or a brother. A good teacher encourages students to think about that possibility.”

Dominican Brother Dominic David, who is in formation to become a priest and currently serving at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, agreed that community is key in discerning one’s call.

“Your call comes from the community,” he told attendees. “It is something you hear from those who care about you — it should come from within but also from without.”

Seminarians share

The archdiocese’s two seminarians also attended the vocations dinner last month, where they dispelled a few myths and shared how they discerned their vocation.

For 42-year-old seminarian Arthur Roraff, his exploration of the priesthood picked up speed after a friend urged him to sell his business and begin searching in earnest.

This fall, he entered St. Paul Seminary in Minnesota.

When first considering seminary, Roraff said it was difficult to imagine a life without the potential for a marital relationship and children.

“Those are good things that you give up,” he told those gathered at the vocations dinner. But he added, that within celibacy God does not call men to be priests by giving up their manhood.

“Realize that God will not stop you from being men if he calls you to be a priest,” he said. “In fact, in this culture, we need real men to be priests.”

And for seminarians who ultimately discover that the priesthood is not their calling, the seminary is still helpful, Roraff said.

“If you are called to be a husband and a father, this is still good ground for you,” he said. “If you have this question and you don’t get it answered, there is potential that this will linger in your mind. If you don’t at least discern and check it off, then you may regret it later.”

But the discernment process is not just about seeking personal happiness, Roraff said.

“If you are searching for your own happiness, you will not find it, because it is a by-product of having Christ in the center of your life,” he said.

The archdiocese’s other seminarian Patrick Brosamer also shared some of his experiences of seminary.

A fourth-year seminary student, the 35-year-old Brosamer has three years of formation left and is attending Mt. Angel Seminary in Oregon.

He reiterated Roraff’s point that it is a mistake to think of seminary as a waste of time if one ultimately discerns no call to the priesthood.

“Even if you drop out, that’s okay,” he said. “Some guys leave seminary but they don’t regret it, because it makes you a better man.”

For Brosamer, seminary confirmed many of the lingering thoughts that he has carried for a long time.

“I’ve known since I was a little boy that God wanted me to be a priest, it just took me a long time to answer his call,” he explained. “It took a quarter century.”

God still calls

Speaking to the vocations dinner attendees, Father Ben Torreto, the archdiocese’s assistant vocations director, said that after 25 years as a priest, he still has great joy in celebrating the sacraments, especially when he sees lives transformed and renewed.

A native Filipino and only child, Father Torreto said, growing up, he was keenly aware of not having any siblings.

“But in becoming a priest, I have gained many brothers,” he said of his enduring friendships with fellow clergy. “The fraternity is very significant for me. Maybe some of you will join us in the priesthood.”

Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz closed the gathering by reminding the men that Christ called imperfect human beings to be his Twelve Apostles and is still calling priests to carry on his work.

“God wants to use us and to show his power in our weakness.”

Printed with permission from

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Catholic author writing to change a generation

CNA STAFF, Jan 30, 2010 (CNA) - CNA recently reviewed “Fatherless,” a book that has been dubbed “the Catholic novel of our generation.” The book, however, isn’t simply just story, author Brian Gail says of his work, “I’m hopeful that the unrest which courses through its pages will spark something that will contribute to a renewal of the Catholic Church in America.”

Gail, a former Madison Avenue ad-man, semi-pro athlete, and father of seven first attempted to write a memoir. But he threw it away after the first chapter. “It was just awful,” he told CNA. “When I sat down to start again, a tale about a priest emerged. Nothing could have surprised me more.”

The result is “Fatherless,” a serious Catholic novel already in its third printing from Dayton, Ohio’s One More Soul.

It is that tale about a priest that is attempting to change the world. Gail says his book, which is at times a fictionalized version of his family’s experiences, was guided by the Holy Spirit in a specific direction: “the re-run of Satan’s strategy in the garden of bypassing the family structure to deceive love and destroy unity.”

The novel takes place in the 1980s, what is referred to as “Morning in America. The plot centers around a parish priest and three families in his parish. Fr. John Sweeney is not the brightest, but he is sincere, devout, and does not lack in charity. The families that come to him for advice and direction are concerned with moral issues that time has proven lead America to the crux of her moral quandary in the current decades.

The central struggle that every character, especially Fr. Sweeney, faces is the balance of being a good father. The phrase “tough love” gathers a new meaning when Fr. Sweeney has to choose between his instinct to telling people what they want to hear, or what will make them temporally happy and the harsh truth which will eventually lead them to heaven. Set in the backdrop of a culture promising pleasure and the direct and precise teachings of Pope John Paul II on truth, “Fatherless” as a novel is both very real and very blunt.

The struggles that that characters face result from the cultural revolution of the 60s.  This moral decline took place “through the two headed worm inside the apple called ‘progress.’ One head, ‘porn,’ promised entitlement; the other, the ‘pill,’ promised anonymity,” explained Gail. “The net effect was to systematically destroy the foundation of society, the family, and drain an entire generation of its moral energy.” “Empires fall when their people can no longer bridge the gap between what their technology permits them to do and what their hearts tell them they ought do,” Gail noted.

Gail cited Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” as a model for his book. “’The Jungle’ produced such ‘unrest’ that when President Theodore Roosevelt read it prior to publication he sent a team of men to the Chicago Stockyards to assess whether the inhumane conditions were actually as bad as the novel portrayed. The men reported they were worse. Within 30 days, Roosevelt had legislation before Congress for the establishment of the FDA.”

“I’m not so naïve to believe something similar will happen as a result of the publication of ‘Fatherless.’ But I’m hopeful the ‘unrest’ which courses through its pages will spark something that will contribute to a renewal of the Catholic Church in America,” he said.

However, “as the great Archbishop of Denver said: ‘There will be no renewal of America without a renewal of the Catholic Church; and no renewal of the Catholic Church without renewal of the Catholic family; and no renewal of the Catholic family without a bold proclamation of the truths regarding the sacred transmission of human life',” Gail stressed. Ultimately, to contribute to that renewal is the modest hope of “Fatherless” and its author. 

“Fatherless” is the first installment in a series called “The American Tragedy in Trilogy.” Gail reports that the next book, “Motherless,” is three-fourths finished, and “Childless” will follow within the next two years. He says the intent of the series is to chronicle America’s decline over 40 years and “to address ‘what really happened’.” 

Read CNA's review of “Fatherless” here:

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Young Catholic life is focus of Britain’s upcoming youth ministry congress

London, England, Jan 30, 2010 (CNA) - Britain’s national Catholic Youth Ministry Congress will take place in London on Feb. 27. Organizers say they have scheduled some of the best known Catholic speakers for the event, which will also present new research into the life and faith of young Catholics.

The Congress, organized by the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation for England and Wales (CYMFed), has as its theme “We have set our hope on the living God.” Over 700 youth leaders, chaplains, teachers and priests have registered to attend.

Headline speakers at the Congress are Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, who is former Master of the Dominicans, and Abbot Christopher Jamison, a television host and author.

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols will deliver the closing exhortation at the final liturgy, CYMFed reports.

Other keynote speakers include Bob and Maggie McCarty, an American couple involved with the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry. Their vision helped shape the creation of the CYMFed.

The event’s master of ceremonies will be David Wells, director of education for the Diocese of Plymouth.

Fr. Dominic Howarth, Chair of CYMFed, said the Congress is “delighted with the range and caliber of the speakers, and with the support from the bishops.”

“It is the first time for many years that there has been a national event on this scale for those working with young people in our Church, and we hope it marks the beginning of a fresh revitalisation of national Catholic Youth Ministry, to complement and strengthen the wonderful work happening in many places locally.”

The results of a wide-ranging survey will be presented at the Congress. It explored young Catholics’ understanding of their world and their faith and also examined the perceptions of the Church among Mass goers and those Catholics who do not attend church.

The research was commissioned for CYMFed by the Young Christian Workers (YCW), the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

Danny Curtin, YCW President, will present the research with Abbot Christopher.

Curtin said it was “illuminating’ to discover how young people understand and practice their faith. He predicted the results will “transform” many people’s approach to working with young Catholics.

“Although there are challenges in our research, it is also an opportunity of hope; hope for the Church to learn from our own young people, and hope that young people will be best served by us as youth ministers.”

Over 700 tickets have been sold for the event, whose website is at

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Homosexual activists target 96-year-old civic leader for supporting Prop. 8

Oakland, Calif., Jan 30, 2010 (CNA) - Retaliation against supporters of Proposition 8 continued in California as homosexual activists have worked to remove a 96-year-old man from a theater board appointed by the Oakland City Council. Though he won defenders, the Oakland mayor has withdrawn his appointment pending “further consideration.”

Lorenzo Hoopes has volunteered with the Paramount Theatre of the Arts for decades and had been on its board of directors for 20 years, the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) reports. A former Safeway executive, he also served on the Oakland school board for 17 years.

Hoopes is also a former president of Oakland’s Latter Day Saints temple. In the 1950s he served as executive assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson, who would go on to become the LDS Church’s thirteenth president.

While his reappointment to the theatre board would normally be routine, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists are protesting the move because he donated $26,000 to support the Prop. 8 campaign. The 2008 measure successfully restored the state’s definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

LGBT activist Michael Colbruno told the Oakland Tribune that his reappointment was “so insulting” in light of the federal trial challenging the constitutionality of Prop. 8.

“It’s so typical that the gay community in Oakland is being run over by a bus. If this were San Francisco, there would be 300 people in the streets,” Colbruno claimed.

Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner has expressed doubts that the Council would reappoint Hoopes, PJI says.

However, Prop. 8 opponent Councilman Larry Raid said he should be reappointed.

“This is America. No matter how controversial the issue is, someone like him should be appointed based on his ability to serve and based on his past contributions to the city,” he said.

Prop. 8 was approved by 52 percent of California voters. In Oakland’s county of Alameda, 62 percent of voters opposed the measure.

PJI president Brad Dacus defended Hoopes, saying:

“The intolerance and hate of gay activists seems to know no bounds. Persecuting a 96-year-old philanthropist and civic leader, simply because he supports traditional marriage, is outrageous. We’ve heard and seen a lot of abuse and harassment directed at Prop. 8 supporters over the last two years, but this is beyond the pale.”

Byron Williams, a columnist with the Mercury News, reported that Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums had the nominations of Hoopes and others pulled for "further consideration."

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High turnout at Philippines clergy congress with papal preacher

Manila, Philippines, Jan 30, 2010 (CNA) - The Philippines’ five-day Second National Congress of the Clergy (NCC II) ended on Friday after unexpectedly drawing more than 5,500 priests from 87 dioceses and from abroad. Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, preached for the retreat aspect of the gathering.

The surge in participants was so great that organizers said they ran out of kits and other materials, as they had only prepared 5,300 kits, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines reports.

“We added another hundred, for the rest we just gave plastic folders with handles,” said Henrietta de Villa, former Ambassador to the Holy See and chair of the NCC’s Central Coordinating Committee.

The Congress, which also served as a retreat, had Fr. Cantalamessa as its preacher.

He spoke of the need for interior renewal and led priests in meditation on the Eucharist, the sacrament of Reconciliation and the vow of celibacy.

“Only in the Philippines can these things happen, so many priests in one gathering,” Fr. Cantalamessa remarked.

The NCC II’s attendance figures surpassed that of the international gathering of priests in Ars, France last year. That event reportedly drew about 1,500 priests.

On Thursday Fr. Cantalamessa addressed the laity on the topics “The Relationship between the Clergy and the Laity” and “Marriage and Family according to the Bible.”

He also addressed a Franciscan gathering on Friday after the Congress.

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Pope Benedict XVI erects new diocese in East Timor

Dili, East Timor, Jan 30, 2010 (CNA) - The Vatican officially erected a third diocese in East Timor on Saturday. Fr. Norberto Do Amaral will be the new bishop of the newly created Diocese of Maliana.

According to Saturday's communique from the Holy See, after completing his seminary studies in Indonesia, 53-year old Fr. Do Moral was ordained a priest in 1988. Since then, he has worked in parish ministry and has served as the rector of the minor seminary of the Diocese of Dili. After he completed studies in dogmatic theology at Rome's Urbaniana University, he was a professor and prefect of the major seminary of Dili.

In 2008, he was named Chancellor of the Diocese of Dili and Director of the diocesan magazine "A Seara."

The newly delineated Diocese of Maliana is formed of 10 parishes serving just over 200,000 Catholics, who represent more than 98% of the area's population. Six diocesan and 25 non-diocesan priests, along with 108 religious brothers and sisters, are assigned within the new diocese's limits.

The Diocese of Dili was divided to create the new diocese, which now joins the Diocese of Baucau as the nation's third.

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