Archive of March 3, 2010

D.C. same-sex ‘marriage’ law forces Catholic Charities to end new spousal benefits

Washington D.C., Mar 3, 2010 (CNA) - Rather than cancel its partnerships with the District of Columbia, Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. has announced that it will end health coverage for new employees’ spouses in order to comply with the requirements of a new same-sex “marriage” law.

The D.C. City Council’s law recognizing same-sex “marriage” purported to protect religious freedom. However, it required religious entities which serve the general public to provide services to homosexual couples, even if doing so violated their religious beliefs.

Catholic Charities receives $22 million from the city for social service programs, the Washington Post reports. The organization was already forced to end its eight-decade-old adoption and foster care programs because they would have been required to act according to the District’s redefinition of marriage.

Edward J. Orzechowski, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C., stressed in a March 1 letter to staff members that current employees’ coverage will remain the same unless they request certain revisions in benefit coverage.

“The new plan will provide the same level of coverage for employees and their dependents that you now have, with one exception: spouses not in the plan as of March 1 will not be eligible for coverage in the future,” Orzechowski wrote.

“We sincerely regret that we have to make this change, but it is necessary to allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide essential services to the clients we serve in partnership with the District of Columbia while remaining consistent with the tenets of our religious faith.”

He said that Catholic Charities has worked hard to make a decision that allows it to continue to serve others “in a manner that is consistent with our religious beliefs.”

The Washington Post reports that staff members were not given advance notice of the new policy and will not be able to add a spouse because the most recent enrollment period ended in November.

D.C. Superior Court officials have prepared to implement the redefinition of marriage by rewriting its traditional applications and brochures. Its materials no longer ask for the name of the bride and groom, but rather ask for the name of the “spouse.”

The final pronouncement of “husband and wife” has also been removed as the default language. According to the Washington Post, at the end of civil marriage ceremonies judges will say "I now pronounce you legally married," unless the marrying couple suggests something different.

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Chicago archdiocese opens canonization cause for first African-American priest

Chicago, Ill., Mar 3, 2010 (CNA) - Fr. Augustus Tolton, a man born into slavery who became the first American diocesan priest of African descent, is now being considered for canonization.

Cardinal Francis George announced on Monday that the nineteenth century priest’s cause for sainthood has been introduced in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“Many Catholics might not ever have heard of Fr. Augustus Tolton; but black Catholics most probably have,” the Archbishop of Chicago wrote.

Born in Missouri on April 1, 1854, John Augustine Tolton fled slavery with his mother and two siblings in 1862 by crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois.

"John, boy, you're free. Never forget the goodness of the Lord," Tolton’s mother told him after the crossing, according to the website of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Chicago.

The young Tolton entered St. Peter’s Catholic School with the help of the school’s pastor, Fr. Peter McGirr. Fr. McGirr would later baptize him and instruct him for his first Holy Communion. Tolton was serving as an altar boy by the next summer.

The priest asked Tolton if he would like to become a priest, saying it would take twelve years of hard study.

The excited boy then said they should go to church and pray for his success.

After graduating from high school and Quincy College, he began his ecclesiastical studies in Rome because no American seminary would accept him on account of his race.

On April 24, 1886 he was ordained in Rome by Cardinal Lucido Maria Parocchi, who was then the vicar general of Rome. Newspapers throughout the U.S. carried the story.

Fr. Tolton was ordained for the southern Illinois Diocese of Quincy. Upon his return in July 1886, he was greeted at the train station “like a conquering hero,” the web site of St. Elizabeth’s Parish says.

“Thousands were there to greet him, led by Father McGirr. A brass band played church songs and Negro Spirituals. Thousands of blacks and whites lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the new priest wearing a black Prince Albert and a silk hat.  People marched and cheered his flower-draped four-horse carriage.  Children, priests and sisters left the school joining the procession heading towards the church.”

Hundreds waited at the local church where people of all races knelt at the communion rail.

Fr. Tolton served in Quincy before going to Chicago to start a parish for black Catholics. The new church was named for St. Monica and opened in 1893.

On July 9, 1897 Fr. Tolton collapsed during a hot day and died from sunstroke at the age of 43. Cardinal George explained that most priests in the nineteenth century died before their fiftieth birthday.

“Visiting the sick on a daily basis was risky in an age before antibiotics,” he explained.

The priest was buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery just outside of Quincy, Illinois.

An investigation for canonization will collect evidence of Fr. Tolton’s heroic virtues and will investigate claims of his miraculous intercession.

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Maryland proposal to fund adult stem cell research corrects focus on wrong research

Baltimore, Md., Mar 3, 2010 (CNA) - A proposed Maryland bill that would fund adult stem cell research for sickle cell disease has won the backing of the Maryland Catholic Conference. One official with the conference says success in unfunded adult stem cell efforts suggests that a focus on embryonic stem cells has led to “funding the wrong research.”

The legislation in the state’s House of Delegates is sponsored by Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a Baltimore County Democrat. It would devote five percent of the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund to adult stem cell research for sickle cell disease, the Catholic Review reports.

Del. Nathan-Pulliam’s proposal comes two months after the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published the results of a clinical trial that used the research to reverse sickle cell disease in 90 percent of adult patients.

Nancy Paltell, associate director for respect for life at the Maryland Catholic Conference, said that the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund had twice rejected applications for funding adult stem cell research in sickle cell disease.

“Adult stem cells don’t have the safety issues of embryonic stem cell and induced pluripotent stem cell research – both of which form tumors,” commented Paltell, according to the Catholic Review.

She expressed concern that the state research fund is favoring projects involving embryonic stem cell research that depends upon the destruction of human life.

Paltell noted that the recent clinical trial used adult stem cells from matched bone marrow, but work must now be done using stem cells from either non-matching bone marrow or umbilical cord blood.

CNA spoke with Paltell in a Tuesday phone interview. She said the Maryland stem cell fund was first proposed only for embryonic stem cell research but the MCC and others successfully expanded its mission to include adult stem cell research.

However, Paltell saw a figurative “brick wall” blocking actual funding approval for adult stem cell research. Indeed, the sickle cell disease researchers published in the NEJM were based in Maryland but did not receive state funding.

“No matter how many patients we bring in, no matter how many studies we show… we’ve just not been able to convince the legislature that it’s more important from a patient’s perspective” to fund adult stem cell research and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell research, she said.

In terms of persuading people, Paltell said, science, medicine and ethics can help strengthen the case for using adult stem cells instead of embryonic ones. Though she granted the importance of moral objections to the research, Paltell reported that people are more willing to listen to an emphasis on the likely cures which justify more adult stem cell research.

The NEJM study’s report of reversed sickle cell disease in 9 of 10 patients was “huge” in her view.

According to Paltell, all of the success stories have come from adult stem cell research, which she said is underfunded in Maryland.

“It’s very easy to make the case that we’re funding the wrong research,” Paltell told CNA.

The $3 million in state funding for human embryonic stem cell research had “nothing to show for it,” while the Maryland research group unfunded by the state made great progress in treating sickle cell disease.

Paltell reported that some state delegates are not committed to the adult stem cell funding proposal but advocates have been getting “good results.”

Some have objected that if funds are reserved for one disease then every disease lobby will seek funding for their cause.

To this, she argued that sickle cell research appeared to be “so close” to success and therefore deserves special focus.

If another advocacy group brings up a successful clinical trial, she suggested, “you should fund that group too.”

CNA asked Paltell to explain why embryonic stem cell research is immoral.

“Because it kills a living human being,” she replied. To harvest embryonic stem cells researchers “have to kill and dissect a young human being, a human embryo between one and two weeks from conception.”

“The nice thing about adult stem cell research and IPS is that you don’t have to harm anybody. The cells just come from a person’s body.”

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Pope Benedict XVI to visit Spain in November 2010

Vatican City, Mar 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Holy Father will make a trip to Spain this year, according to announcements from both sides of the Mediterranean on Wednesday. On Nov. 6 he will be in Santiago de Compostela for the Year of St. James celebrations.  Then, on Nov. 7 he will visit Barcelona to bless Antoni Gaudi's famous and unique "Sagrada Familia" Cathedral.

The visit to Santiago de Compostela, the site of St. James' tomb and the destination of thousands who walk the "camino," or path of St. James every year, comes on the 900th anniversary of the construction of the city's cathedral.

Archbishop Julian Barrio Barrio confirmed the announcement in a press conference from the northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela.  According to the local newspaper "El Correo Gallego," Archbishop Barrio expressed "profound gratitude" for the Pope's decision to visit, because "it will fill us with satisfaction and ... happiness."

The archbishop said that the diocese will make every effort to receive the Pope warmly on his arrival  "as a pilgrim of the faith and witness of the risen Christ."

As for the stop in Barcelona, the Holy Father accepted a February invitation from the Archdiocese of Barcelona  to preside over the consecration of the one-of-a-kind Church of the Sacred Family, or "Sagrada Familia."

The church has been under construction intermittently since the death of its designing architect, Antoni Gaudi, in 1926. Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, Archbishop of Barcelona said on Feb. 17 that although it's still unfinished, both sides of the central nave will be covered by November so the church can be blessed.

The Archdiocese of Barcelona confirmed the news of the Pontiff's visit in a press conference this morning in which Cardinal Martinez Sistach expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father.

"The visit of the Holy Father Benedict XVI will confirm our faith, strengthen our hope and propel our charity," said the cardinal. "For us, it will be a true gift from God.  His presence and his teachings will enrich our Christian life of fidelity and love of God and the Church."

Architect Antoni Gaudi's cause for beatification was opened in 1999.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed plans for the visits from the Holy See's Press Office, although he said no other specific details of the trip are available.

Benedict XVI will also visit Spain in 2011 for World Youth Day in the capital city of Madrid.

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St. Bonaventure is model of contemplation and action, says Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Mar 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI taught today on the holy life of St. Bonaventure during the General Audience at Paul VI Hall. Of this saint it has been said that "all who saw him were pervaded by a love that the heart could not conceal," the Pope said.

The Holy Father began his teaching by admitting a "certain nostalgia" while preparing the catechesis, as he thought back to his youth when he researched the life St. Bonaventure.

"His knowledge engraved not a little of my formation," said Pope Benedict.

Among the "great Christian figures" that contributed to the "harmony between faith and culture" of the 13th century was Bonaventure, whom the Pope described as a "man of action and of contemplation, of profound piety and of prudence in government."

An event that marked his life happened when he was when he was just a boy. Struck by a serious illness from which not even his father, a doctor, thought he would recover, his mother prayed for the intercession of St. Francis and he was healed.

Years later, while studying in Paris he joined the Franciscans, explaining his choice by saying that this order "recognized the action of Christ."

Benedict XVI quoted Bonaventure's words from a letter to a brother in the order, "I confess before God that the reason that made me love the life of Blessed Francis most is that it is alike to the beginnings and the growth of the Church ... the religion of Blessed Francis was not established by the prudence of men, but by Christ."

While completing a difficult course of study in the Theology College of the University of Paris, the Holy Father recalled, "he matured his own personal reflection and a spiritual sensibility of great value that, in the course of the following years, he knew how to transfuse into his works and sermons, in this way becoming one of the most important theologians in the history of the Church."

He started to teach Franciscan theology in Paris and it was at this time that he wrote on "evangelical perfection," showing how the mendicant orders followed the Gospel through their practices of vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

This teaching, said Pope Benedict, is "always current: the Church is enlightened and beautified by the faithfulness to their vocation of these sons and daughters of hers, who not only put the evangelical precepts into practice but, by God's grace, are called to observe the evangelical counsels and thus bear witness - with their poor, chaste and obedient lifestyle - to the fact that the Gospel is a source of joy and perfection."

St. Bonaventure was elected Minister General of the Friars Minor (Franciscans) in 1257, at that time there were 30,000 brothers spread from China to North Africa.

With the great expansion came various interpretations of the Franciscan message and to address the possibility of internal fracture, he saw that a consolidation and sharing of ideals and motivations was needed to unify the Franciscan action and spirit.

Collecting documents and listening to first-hand testimonies of the life of St. Francis, Bonaventure produced a book on the life of the saint, which became the official biography.

In this biography, noted Pope Benedict, St. Francis emerges as "a man who passionately sought Christ. With the love that leads to imitation, he entirely conformed himself to Him. Bonaventure indicated this as a living ideal for all the followers of St. Francis."

This is the "living ideal" that St. Bonaventure offered to the order, and "this ideal," pointed out Benedict XVI, is "valid for every Christian, yesterday, today, always, was indicated as a program also for the Church of the Third Millenium by my Venerable predecessor John Paul II."

Bonaventure died in 1273, having only just been made a bishop and cardinal by Pope Gregory X.

In closing, Pope Benedict turned to the words of an anonymous pontifical notary who "offers us a conclusive portrait of this great saint and excellent theologian: 'Good man, affable, pious and merciful, height of virtue, loved by God and men ... God indeed had given him such a grace, that all who saw him were pervaded by a love that the heart could not conceal.'"

This "holy Doctor of the Church," concluded Benedict XVI, "reminds us of the meaning of our lives with the following words: 'On earth we can contemplate the immensity of divine things by reason and admiration; in the heavenly homeland, on the other hand, we can view them, when we will have been made similar to God and by ecstasy will enter into the joy of God.'"

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Cuban regime ridding itself of freedom activists, alleges Nobel Peace Prize winner

Havana, Cuba, Mar 3, 2010 (CNA) - The former president of Poland and winner of the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize, Lech Walesa, sent a letter to the friends and family members of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the Cuban prisoner of conscience who died in captivity last week. Walesa denounced the Cuban government for “silently doing away with those who call for freedom and democracy.”

In his letter, Walesa said, “With great sadness I have received the news of the death of the Cuban prisoner of conscience, Orlando Zapata Tamayo.” His death, Walesa continued, “is another sign that the regime of the Castro brothers pays no attention to the urging of the international community to end its human rights violations.”

“The tragic death of Orlando takes on symbolic importance and is a desperate cry for help.” Walesa noted that the death calls for “real action, fundamentally by politicians and those who make decisions but choose to turn a deaf ear to the voices of the representatives of civil society in Cuba."

The former Polish president concluded his letter expressing his “deepest sympathy and prayers to the family and friends of Orlando Zapata Tamayo.”

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Unique pro-life video demonstrates potential of the unborn

Madrid, Spain, Mar 3, 2010 (CNA) - What is the potential of an unborn child who is given a chance at life? One Spanish pro-life organization has answered this question in a television commercial featuring both Mother Teresa and Jamaican Olympian Usain Bolt.

The commercial also promotes the upcoming pro-life rallies in Spain which will be held March 7 to give citizens the opportunity to voice their opposition to the government's new abortion law.

“At 3,312 weeks she will help those most in need,” the spot says, showing an image of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. “At 1,056 he will be the fastest,” it continues, with a photo of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

Titled, “Give Life Potential,” the video was produced by Francisco Javier Jimenez Rivero, media director for the pro-life website

Spain's recently passed law allows abortion on demand up to the 14th week of pregnancy, and permits the procedure up to 22 weeks if the pregnancy endangers the mother's health.

According to Rivero, the commercial focuses on “what would happen if the human being” beyond “the arbitrary limit of 22 weeks … was given the potential to live.”

The video can be viewed at:

The International March for Life will also take place on March 7 in 70 cities across Spain, Europe, Latin America, the United States and Australia.

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Vatican TV station to broadcast in HD

Vatican City, Mar 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican Television Center will begin broadcasting from the Holy See in high definition starting in October 2010. The new mobile recording and transmission equipment is being purchased from Sony.

Vatican Radio reported that Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Holy See Press Office and Vatican Television Center (CTV) director, said the step to high definition "represents, for us, a necessary development in our service of diffusion of the image of the Pope and Vatican events" and this will "keep CTV on the forefront and a point of reference in the sector of international broadcasting."

Fr. Lombardi said that Sony was chosen not only for their technical expertise, but because of company's demonstration of "a level of competence and capacity of project management of great affability."

The report noted that the equipment was purchased with resources internal to CTV and with contributions from foundations, including the Knights of Columbus, which had donated the existing mobile unit.

CTV was founded in 1983 provide television coverage of the pastoral ministry of the Pope and other activities of the Holy See. It currently televises 200 events a year, plus trips made by the Holy Father.

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Friday Lenten meditations to begin this week at Vatican

Vatican City, Mar 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The preacher of the Papal Household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, will start a series of Lenten meditations at the Vatican this Friday. He will deliver a total of three talks before Easter on the theme "Dispensers of the Mystery of God. The priest, minister of the Word and the sacraments."

The refelctions by the Capuchin priest will take place in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace, with the first session starting at 9 a.m.

According to L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) newspaper, Fr. Cantalamessa will use the passage from 1 Corinthians in which St. Paul reflects on how priests are "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God," to meditate on two important elements of the priesthood proposed in the New Testament. Those elements are: "the announcement of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments corresponding to the two meanings of the word 'mysteries,' as revealed truth and effective sign of grace."

Fr. Cantalamessa aims to encourage thought on the person of Christ being at the heart of the the Christian announcement, how to announce the Gospel and live it, how to live and help live the Eucharistic mystery, and on promoting a renewal of the Catholic priesthood in the Holy Spirit, LOR reported.

The pontifical preacher will lead further meditations on March 12 and 16 for the Holy Father and members of the Papal Household, Prelates of the Roman Curia and the Vicariate of Rome, as well as Superior Generals and Procurators of religious orders.

Within these Lenten reflections, Fr. Cantalamessa, the official Apostolic Preacher at the Vatican since 1980, builds on the series of meditations he offered during Advent this year on "Ministers of Christ and dispensers of the Mystery of God."

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Another Cuban prisoner of conscience faces health crisis

Miami, Fla., Mar 3, 2010 (CNA) - Family members of Cuban political prisoner Ariel Sigler Amaya, who has been hospitalized for the past five months in the country's capital of Havana, are urgently calling for support to “prevent others from dying in Cuba because of the dictatorship.”

Miguel Sigler Amaya, the prisoner's brother revealed that each day, Ariel's health is increasingly deteriorating. Doctors have told family members that he is experiencing severe bleeding, throat and stomach infections, as well as intense headaches and discoloration.

Doctors cannot operate due to his severe state of weakness. The family advised him not to engage in a hunger strike, as he would not be able to endure even one week,” Miguel said.

Miguel Sigler remarked that Cuban security agents were livid with the family over the international coverage of Ariel's condition. “They threatened us saying that if the United States - with all its rockets and missiles - was unable to pressure them, our family could not either.”

Sigler urged “support and solidarity” in order to “prevent others from dying in Cuba because of the dictatorship,” which, he added, “is capable of sacrificing all Cubans in order to stay in power for just one more day.”

“The time has come to urgently call for the arrest of Fidel and Raul Castro,” he said.

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Looting and thefts display absence of faith in God, remarks Chilean bishop

CNA STAFF, Mar 3, 2010 (CNA) - In comments to Catholic News Agency, Bishop Philip Bacarreza Rodriguez of Santa Maria de Los Angeles in Chile explained that the looting and thefts that have occurred following the earthquake on February 27, are "a further demonstration of the people's lack of Christian values,” and absence of faith.

In a telephone conversation with CNA from the Chilean city of Los Angeles, which was also hit by the earthquake, the bishop said, “People are looting the supermarkets in reality because they need to eat ... I can understand that to a certain point. But there have also been acts of vandalism that are truly unacceptable. These people do not steal food, but televisions” and other items having nothing to do with survival.

Bishop Rodriguez went on to denounce "gangs who come to rob the victims. Unfortunately it is a sign of human evil. It is a further demonstration of lack of Christian values, the absence of faith in God."

Emergency situation

Speaking later about his own experience of seeing his house “destroyed and rendered uninhabitable," Bishop Bacarreza noted that the Chilean people are in immediate need of "food, supplies, clothing, blankets - these kinds of things." While many people and organizations are sending aid, he added, what is also needed now is detailed organization in order to distribute the supplies.

The Chilean bishop rejected the idea that the earthquake was divine punishment, calling it instead “an opportunity: God corrects his children because he loves them. Sometimes we are so caught up in frivolous things, such as celebrities,” and when “these kinds of events occur, they bring us back to reality.”

The prelate also noted that many churches have suffered damages and cracks to their foundations. We need to “determine whether these cracks are deep or just on the surface. The minor seminary suffered roof damage. That needs to be fixed as soon as possible,” as the rainy season is approaching.

“The cathedral is okay,” he added, although two other churches were damaged, “and many rural chapels were affected, but we don’t have all of the information yet,” the bishop added.

“We must trust in God and help each other,” he stressed, “because Christian charity at this time of trial must be put into action. Everyone who has resources and greater means should help those who have been affected the most.”

“Let us trust in God and that the Virgin Mary, our patroness, will protect us and be with us.”

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Spanish exorcist addresses claims of Satanic influence in Vatican

Rome, Italy, Mar 3, 2010 (CNA) - A renowned exorcist in Rome recently released a book of memoirs in which he declares to know of the existence of Satanic sects in the Vatican where participation reaches all the way to the College of Cardinals. A second demonologist, also residing in Rome, entered the debate this week, clarifying the origins of the information and defending the Vatican's clergy as an "edifying and virtuous" collection of prelates.

In a book of memoirs released in February, the noted Italian exorcist Fr. Gabriele Amorth affirmed that "Yes, also in the Vatican there are members of Satanic sects." When asked if members of the clergy are involved or if this is within the lay community, he responded, "There are priests, monsignors and also cardinals!"

The book, "Father Amorth. Memoirs of an Exorcist. My life fighting against Satan." was written by Marco Tosatti, who compiled it from interviews with the priest.

Fr. Amorth was asked by Tosatti how he knows Vatican clergy are involved. He answered, "I know from those who have been able to relate it to me because they had a way of knowing directly. And it's something 'confessed' most times by the very demon under obedience during the exorcisms."

The famous Italian exorcist was also asked if the Pope was aware of Satanic sects in the Vatican, to which Fr. Amorth replied, "Of course, he was informed. But he does what he can. It's a horrifying thing."

Benedict XVI, being German, comes from a place "decidedly averse to these things," argued Fr. Amorth, saying that in Germany "there practically aren't any exorcists." However, he clarified, "the Pope believes (in them)."

The Italian priest also warned of the existence of bishops and priests who do not believe in Satan in the interview.  "And yet, in the Gospel, Jesus speaks extensively about it, so it should be said, either they've never read the Gospel or they just don't believe it!"

Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a Spanish priest and theologian who specializes in demonology and is now studying for his doctorate of theology in Rome, responded to Fr. Amorth's assertions on March 1.

After reading reports of Fr. Amorth's accusations pointing a finger at members of the clergy, including cardinals, Fr. Fortea declared that it is a "duty of justice" to speak out in their defense.

Noting that some prelates "are more spiritual and others more earthly, some more virtuous and others more human," he wrote on his blog, "from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of Satanic sects is an unacceptable distance."

The Spanish priest then explained the sources of information used by Fr. Amorth to say that Satanic sects are operating in the Vatican.

In addition to the people that seek help for demonic possession, said Fr. Fortea, "innumerable persons come to us who claim to have visions, revelations and messages from Our Lord." Among these, "a certain number offer apocalyptic messages and revelations about the infiltration of Satanism and the Masons within the dome of the Church."

Fr. Fortea added that the only acceptable stance is to suspend judgment of the messages while they are subjected to time-intensive discernment, "sometimes months for each one of the cases."

The other source Fr. Amorth refers to, according to Fr. Fortea, is the demons who are being exorcised. Of this, the Spanish priest wrote that knowing whether or not the demon is telling the truth "is in many cases impossible."

"We can know with great confidence when a demon tells the truth in the subject directly related with the exorcism. That is, the number of demons, their name and similar things. But we cannot be confident in what regards concrete news relating to people."

"Father Amorth does not have other sources of knowledge than the two that I just cited," indicated the Spanish exorcist, "I refer to his own words for this affirmation."

Fr. Fortea observed that the existence of similar messages from the same sources is "something known by me just as (it has been) by many other colleagues for many years."

"Among exorcists, some have come to similar conclusions as those of Fr. Amorth. Others have not."

Fr. Fortea also defended those implicated in Fr. Amorth's statements, stating, "Our College of Cardinals, if we compare it with past centuries is the most edifying and virtuous that history has ever known. One would have to go back to the epoch of the Roman Empire to find a body of electors so distanced from all earthly pretension as the current one is.

"Cardinals might be better or worse," he reflected, "but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God."

He concluded by emphasizing, "Statements must be proven, especially when they are about such grave accusations that affect the honorability of those who form part of the Head of the Church as far as they help the Supreme Pastor."

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Irish diocese clarifies request for parish donations to pay sex abuse damages

Summerville, Ireland, Mar 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After the Diocese of Ferns received negative feedback for remarks its bishop made earlier about asking parishioners to help with sex abuse settlements, the diocese released a statement today assuring churchgoers that “Nothing definite as to how to proceed on the issue of the source of funding for future claims has yet been decided.”

The March 3 clarification follows Bishop Denis Brennen's remarks on Tuesday, when he suggested that the faithful within his diocese should help cover some of the 10 million euro legal damages associated with sex abuse cases. Bishop Brennan previously stated at his diocese's annual Finance AGM meeting that “it will be necessary to invite the parishes to become a part of the process financially.”

The southeastern Irish diocese of Ferns was one of the first to be investigated for potential sexual and physical abuse. Bishop Brennan said the diocese has already paid 8 million euros to settle lawsuits from 48 abuse victims, but it still has 13 pending cases. The appeal for financial help has come amid an economic crisis Ireland that finds the unemployment rate at a 15 year high.

On Wednesday, the Diocese of Ferns stated that “Going to the parishes is but 'one' option the diocesan finance committee has put to parish finance committees in response to some requests from individuals within the diocese as to 'how we might help' to complete the work of justice and healing.”

“Nothing definite as to how to proceed on the issue of the source of funding for future claims has yet been decided in the Ferns diocese,” the diocese stressed.

The statement also mentioned that consultations between diocesan officials and the “diocesan family” about what will be done are still ongoing. “This process happens each year at the annual Finance AGM.”

“It may very well be that a decision will be taken to dispose of one of the diocesan assets,” the diocese noted, “but that will only occur after the conclusion of consultation over the coming months, and perhaps years – with churchgoers.”

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