Archive of March 6, 2010

Denver chancery to offer sacred art exhibit

Denver, Colo., Mar 6, 2010 (CNA) - An exhibit of sacred works by a Denver artist depicting Lenten and Easter themes ranging from the passion of Christ through Pentecost, will be on display at the John Paul II Center starting next week.

The show, which is sponsored by the Denver Archdiocese’s Office of Liturgy, will begin with a reception from 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. March 11 where patrons and guests will be able to view the paintings and watch the artist, Devin Montagne, create a work during the event. Denver Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley will open the reception with a prayer followed by a brief presentation on artisans in the life of the Church.

Themes the paintings depict include the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and Pentecost. Also included will be a painting of Pope John Paul II.

Deacon Charles Parker, director of the Liturgy Office, said his office is pleased to offer the exhibit.

“The Office of Liturgy has always supported the promotion of sacred art and sacred music in the archdiocese,” he said. “We’ve held shows similar to this in the past and thought it was time to continue that tradition. Montagne is an artist of national standing and has had his work displayed at many parishes throughout the archdiocese. We’re delighted to display some of his work here.”

A Littleton native, Montagne has made his living as an artist by both the traditional method of paint and brush and by performance art. A performance artist paints with his hands but not using a brush. During World Youth Day 1993, he created an image of the icon of Our Lady of the New Advent through performance art.

A visit to his Web site,, allows people to view examples of his art in acrylic, oil and chalk drawings on pavement. His work has been displayed at many churches across the archdiocese, including St. Jude, St. Frances Cabrini, Light of the World, St. Thomas More, Joan of Arc and Sts. Peter and Paul. This is the first time his work will be displayed at the JPII Center. Like many artists, he’s had a life-long passion for drawing and painting in the realm of sacred art.

“I would always draw,” he said, “anything that would inspire me.”

The work of art Montagne will create during the reception will be auctioned off at the end of the evening. Other paintings may also be purchased at the end of the show.

Montagne said the time it takes to create a work varies depending on the complexity of the subject.

“The canvas I’ll be working on that evening will measure 3-feet by 4-feet,” he said. “It could take an hour to produce, maybe a bit longer.”

For more information, email: [email protected]

Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register.

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American bishops visit Port-au-Prince, see hope in Haiti

Port au Prince, Haiti, Mar 6, 2010 (CNA) - Early this week, a delegation of Catholic bishops from the U.S. toured Port-au-Prince, the recently-devastated capital of Haiti. During their stay, the prelates visited the Louverture Cleary School, a tuition-free, Catholic, co-ed, secondary boarding school for under-privileged Haitian children.

Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, San Antonio’s Archbishop Jose Gomez, and other members of the U.S. delegation, were accompanied by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic nuncio to Haiti.  Together, the bishops toured and surveyed the damage to the city, in an effort to determine how to best spend the money that U.S. Catholics donated following the country's earthquake.

The bishops stopped at the Louverture Cleary School (LCS), which is run by The Haitian Project (THP), a charity founded in the early 1980’s by St. Joseph's Parish in Providence, R.I., to assist the people of Haiti.

“I believe it added an opportunity to see the hope in Haiti,” Deacon Patrick Moynihan, THP’s president told CNA.

Deacon Moynihan also writes a weekly column, "Both Oars In," for CNA.

According to the Boston Globe, Deacon Moynihan met the delegation after they celebrated an early morning Mass with the Daughters of Mary, a religious order who lost 15 sisters when the quake leveled their house. He then showed the bishops around the school, which suffered minimal damage during the massive earthquake. Two buildings need extensive repairs, and the other buildings will have modifications to help cope with the increased seismic activity following the earthquake, explained Deacon Moynihan. Four fallen wall sections also need to be replaced, but the school is in a position where it can help the surrounding community.

“We are aware that being left standing means that we are to commit more deeply to our mission of producing gifted, civic minded leaders for Haiti.  Our school model has always been: We are ready to rebuild Haiti. We know what we were being prepared to do,” said the deacon.

The delegation also toured the surrounding neighborhood. “We wanted the Cardinal and Archbishop to see that we are a village--like a community around a monastery,” said Deacon Moynihan. He noted that he showed the delegation the site where THP is “ replacing a mud house with a concrete house--the original house was damaged in the quake.

“We will be doing at least 10 housing projects, some repairs and some full rebuilds. This is part of dedication to the community and service.”

The prelates, accompanied by the deacon, then visited the graves of Archbishop Joseph Miot and Fr. Charles Benoit, the vicar general of Port-au-Prince, who were killed during the earthquake. Deacon Moynihan pointed out that the lettering on Archbishop Miot’s tomb was done by a THP volunteer, Kristin Zeiler.

After the visit, Cardinal O'Malley promised to tell Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, of the Diocese of Providence, that THP is “doing a great job.”

For more information about The Haitian Project, visit:

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Elements of Western society reject grace in favor of independence, says papal preacher

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa gave his first of three Friday Lenten meditations this morning in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace. He emphasized the importance and meaning of grace within the Church and warned of a tendency in the Western world to reject it.

L'Osservatore Romano summarized the meditation of the preacher of the Pontifical Household in the simple sentence, "God is accepted as a gift, one does not conquer him."

"Every human religion or religious philosophy begins by telling man what he should do to save himself," said Fr. Cantalamessa. On the other hand, he explained, Christianity doesn't tell man what to do, but tells him what God has done for him.

Jesus didn't tell people to repent and believe so that Kingdom would come to us, rather he said, "The Kingdom of God is among you," which makes it a question not of "conversion first, then salvation, but first salvation and then conversion," Fr. Cantalamessa pointed out.

Within Christianity, the papal preacher explained, there are duties and commandments, but the level of the commandments take second place, "before them is the level of the gift, of grace." "It is from the gift that duty springs, not vice versa," he said.

Moreover, Fr. Cantalamessa underscored that the act of being saved "by grace" carries with it the ability to recognize one's dependence, and this, "is the most difficult thing."

This truth is illustrated in St. Bernard's explanation of the sin of Satan, asserted Fr. Cantalamessa, who explained that Satan "prefered to be the most unhappy of the creatures on his own merit, rather than the happiest by the grace of another; he prefered to be 'unhappy but sovereign, rather than happy but dependent."

The Capuchin priest emphasized that Satan's attitude can be seen in certain elements of Western society today. "The rejection of Christianity," in addition to denying the Church and Christians, "is the rejection of grace."

So, he summarized, the duty of the priest as a teacher of the faith is to help the Church to live "the news of grace" through the announcement of Christ crucified.

Two Friday meditations at the Vatican's Redemptoris Mater chapel remain on Fr. Cantalamessa's schedule for this Lent.

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Archdiocese defends enrollment guidelines for Catholic schools

Denver, Colo., Mar 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Friday, the Archdiocese of Denver defended its decision to not readmit a local same-sex couple's child into a Catholic school, saying, “Parents living in open discord with Catholic teaching in areas of faith and morals unfortunately choose by their actions to disqualify their children from enrollment.”

Local channel 9NEWS reported that the Sacred Heart Church in Boulder, Colorado recently held a meeting to discuss the situation of a preschool student whose parents are two women. School staff members were told Tuesday that the child would not be allowed to re-enroll. According to the station, certain anonymous staff members reacted negatively and were “disgusted” by the archdiocese's decision. 

The Denver Archdiocese responded to the situation in a statement Friday, explaining that a “principal reason parents place their children in Archdiocese of Denver Schools is to reinforce the Catholic beliefs and values that the family seeks to live at home.”

“To preserve the mission of our schools, and to respect the faith of wider Catholic community, we expect all families who enroll students to live in accord with Catholic teaching,” the statement asserted. 

“Our admission policy states clearly, 'No person shall be admitted as a student in any Catholic school unless that person and his/her parent(s) subscribe to the school’s philosophy and agree to abide by the educational policies and regulations of the school and Archdiocese.'”

“To allow children in these circumstances to continue in our school would be a cause of confusion for the student in that what they are being taught in school conflicts with what they experience in the home.”

The archdiocesan statement concluded by saying, “We communicated the policy to the couple at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School as soon as we realized the situation. We discussed the reasons with them and have sought to respond in a way that does not abruptly displace the student but at the same time respects the integrity of the Catholic school’s philosophy.”

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Last Catholic adoption agency in England and Wales threatened by gay equality laws

London, England, Mar 6, 2010 (CNA) - Church leaders are defending the last remaining Catholic adoption agency in England and Wales against homosexual equality laws that will force it to close. They say children in the agency’s care will suffer, charging that the government is trying to force the agency to disregard Church teaching.

Last Sunday, three bishops said that they were taking the case of the Catholic Care adoption agency to the High Court, the Catholic Herald reports. The agency finds homes for about 20 hard-to-place children each year.

Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, Bishop John Rawsthorne of Hallam and Bishop Terry Drainey of Middlesbrough, said in a letter read at Masses that the government is trying to force the agency to operate “with disregard to the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life.”

They said the agency consistently placed “some of the most vulnerable children” in a service that has operated for over 100 years. But despite this work, the bishops charged, “we are being invited either to stop our adoption work or stop being a Catholic charity altogether.”

The bishops stated that vulnerable children have the right to a loving family and that the closure of the Catholic agency would eliminate an “effective and well-respected resource.”

Catholic Care serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough and Hallam. It is the only one of 11 Catholic adoption agencies in England and Wales that is continuing to fight the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs). The 2007 law barred discrimination against homosexual couples in the provisions of goods and services. Leaders of all the mainstream religious faiths protested the legislation.

The law obliged Catholic adoption agencies to assess homosexual couples as potential adopters or foster parents, the Catholic Herald says. Because of Catholic teaching on homosexuality, adoption agencies have either been closed or disaffiliated from the Church.

The prelates said it is in the interests of children that the agency’s work continue, adding that they are not judging other agencies which accept homosexual couples for adoption.

“We should not be forced to do so, nor is there a necessity for this to happen. We believe that this is a legally justifiable position," they wrote. “Children have a right to a family life. There are too many children awaiting adoption and Catholic Care has a vital and a special role in helping very vulnerable children by finding loving families for them.”

Catholic Care had applied to the Charity Commission to change its charitable mission so it could appeal for an exemption under a regulation allowing limited discrimination.

However, the Charity Tribunal said it could not continue as an adoption agency unless it accepted homosexual couples. The regulation could not be a defense because the proposed alteration “arose substantially out of a desire to maintain a principled stance” rather than advance the charitable purpose of care for children without families.

The appeal to the High Court began last Wednesday.

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Be living models of the Good Samaritan, Benedict XVI encourages volunteers

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Holy Father met with thousands of members of the Italian Civil Protection Service on Saturday in the Paul VI Hall. He commended their voluntary service in protection of the common good and the dignity of man, comparing their work to that of the Good Samaritan.

Drawing attention to the strength of the volunteer organization in its approximately 1.3 million members, Pope Benedict XVI called it "one of the most recent and mature expressions of the long tradition of solidarity," which has its foundation "in the altruism and generosity of the Italian people."

Italian Civil Protection Service’s (ICPS) mission and "vocation" of protecting people and their dignity, he said, is well-represented in the name of the organization.

The ICPS provides assistance and security for national and international emergencies as well as major events, such as World Youth Day 2000 in Rome. They offered a massive response following the earthquake that rocked L'Aquila, Italy April 6, 2009.

"This mission," he continued, "does not only consist in emergency management, but in a precise and worthy contribution to the realization of the common good" which is always the goal of human coexistence "especially in the moments of great trials."

These occasions, said the Pope, provide a chance for "discernment and not desperation" and they offer the opportunity to design new plans for society oriented towards virtue and the good of all.

In the figure of the Good Samaritan, said the Holy Father, we see a model for the protection of the person and commitment to the common good. "This person indeed demonstrated charity and humility tending to an unfortunate person in the moment of utmost need."

While others turned a blind eye, the Good Samaritan taught us to "walk towards the emergency and to prepare ... the return to normalcy," he pointed out.

As these pages in Luke's gospel show us, said Benedict XVI, "love of our neighbor cannot be delegated: the State and politics, though with the necessary attention for welfare, cannot replace it."

Pope Benedict XVI repeated the words from his encyclical, “Deus caritas est” saying, "Love will always be necessary, even in the most just society" and this "requires and will always require personal and volunteer commitment."

For this reason, the Holy Father told the group of an estimated 7,000 people from the ICPS, volunteers are not just "hole-fillers" in society, but they are people who "truly contribute to delineate the human and Christian face of society."

"Without volunteer work, the common good and society cannot last long, as their progress and their dignity depend in great measure exactly on those people who do more than their strict duty."

The Holy Father called the members of the ICPS to be "living icons of the Good Samaritan," giving attention to their neighbors, remembering the dignity of man and inciting hope.

"When a person doesn't limit himself to just completing his duty in his profession and in the family, but he works for others, his heart delights. He who loves and serves another freely as a neighbor lives and acts according to the Gospel and takes part in the mission of the Church, which always protects the entire human and wants to make him feel the love of God," Pope Benedict concluded.

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Vatican commission reportedly formed to investigate Medjugorje apparitions

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2010 (CNA) - The Italian media is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI authorized an official inquiry into the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje. The commission to examine the case is said to be led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

According to the Italian weekly magazine "Panorama," the Pope has made the decision to go ahead with the investigations, nearly 30 years after the first reported apparition of Mary to the visionaries of Medjugorje took place. Long time collaborator and former cardinal vicar of Rome as well as ex-president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Camillo Ruini is said to be leading the investigation.

There has been no confirmation from the Vatican on the formation of the commission.

Despite never having received an official blessing from the Vatican, the site has become a major pilgrimage destination, hosting more than a million visitors a year and witnessing thousands of conversions.

Reflecting on the time that has passed since the first apparitions between June 24 - 26 of 1981, Panorama cited the words of Italian journalist and writer Saverio Gaeta, who said, "It's time to make it clear: it is either the most colossal blunder in the history of humanity or the most important event in the history of Christianity after the Resurrection of Christ."

Gaeta wrote the book, "Medjugorje. It's all true" in 2006.

Medjugorje has been in the news recently after Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna visited the visionaries and celebrated Mass over New Years, which was met with the indignation of Bishop Ratko Peric of the Diocese of Mostar, within the bounds of which the Bosnia-Herzegovinian town is found.

Bishop Peric released a statement following the cardinal’s visit explaining that though the apparitions have not been recognized by the Vatican, his diocese unwillingly hosts a number of “new communities and associations of the faithful who, in disobedience, live at Medjugorje.” These communities, he said, “may become encouraged in their ecclesial disobedience because of the cardinal’s visit.”

Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina denied press reports in November claiming that the Vatican was creating a similar commission to investigate the apparitions.

However, he remarked, “at any given moment, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could establish an International Commission in order to study the case of Medjugorje.”

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Pope's brother directed Regensburg choir after abuses took place, clarifies bishop

Vatican City, Mar 6, 2010 (CNA) - In response to a sexual abuse claim that surfaced this week involving a member of the famed boys’ choir of Regensburg, where the Pope’s brother served as director for 30 years, the local bishop came to Fr. Georg Ratzinger’s defense noting that the instances of abuse took place before he was in charge.

Officials are revisiting the case that came to light this week involving a former student and member of the "Domspatzen," or Cathedral Sparrows choir in Regensburg.  According to the Associated Press, the victim said he was sexually abused in the 1960s during his time with the choir.

According to a letter sent to the parents of current members of the boys' choir written by Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg, two now-deceased religious had already been condemned for abuses at the choir’s accompanying school. One of them was removed from his position as teacher and vice director of the institution in 1958 and the other was taken out of the school before his condemnation in 1971. They both died in 1984.

According to the bishop's letter, the results of these cases were made public at that time and "they are considered closed in the legal sense."

Bishop Müller added that the cases did not coincide with Fr. Georg Ratzinger's time there.

Fr. Ratzinger, brother of Pope Benedict and director of the choir from 1964 to 1993, told Bavarian public radio Bayerischen Rundfunk this week that he was not aware of the abuses.

L'Osservatore Romano released the bishop's words along with a message expressing the support of the Holy See for the diocese, offering its "availability to analyze the painful question decisively and in an open way."

"The main objective of the clarification by the Church is to render justice to the victims," he continued.

To date, the reported cases of abuse in Germany involve 18 of Germany's 27 dioceses, according to the Italian agency ASCA, and involve the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Jesuits, Benedictines and Capuchins.  Bishops' conference investigations are being led by Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier.

Holy See vice-spokesman, Fr. Ciro Benedettini, told reporters on Friday that the Vatican is taking the situation in Germany "very seriously."

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