Archive of March 16, 2010

Canadian Anglican Church move toward Rome part of 'worldwide movement,' says bishop

Vancouver, Canada, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On March 12, leaders of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) in Canada sent a letter to the Holy Father formally requesting to become unified with the Catholic Church. This initiative, says a leading bishop, is what he believes to be part of a “worldwide movement.”

Bishop Peter Wilkinson of the TAC Diocese of British Columbia, who authored the March 12 letter, discussed Pope Benedict XVI's publication of the Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus” with CNA in a phone interview on Monday.  The document was released last year and addressed measures planned by the Vatican to allow Anglican communities to enter into communion with the Catholic Church.

When the Pope's document first came out, said Bishop Wilkinson, “I had Lutherans calling me saying, 'how do we get in on this?' And Orthodox (Christians) saying, 'how do we get in on this?'”

“It is a worldwide movement largely brought about by the vision of John Paul II” and “the wonderful, gentle firm, intellectual vision of Pope Benedict, who is such an inspiration to us,” noted the Anglican bishop.

Referencing a previous letter written to the Holy See which spoke of unifying with Rome, Bishop Wilkinson wrote to the Vatican on March 12. “Please allow the College of Bishops of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (Traditional Anglican Communion) to express our gratitude to you for your positive response of December 16th 2009 to our Letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of October 5th 2007 in which we expressed our desire to 'seek a communal and ecclesial way of being Anglican Catholics in communion with the Holy See, at once treasuring the full expression of catholic faith and treasuring our tradition within which we have come to this moment,'” the letter said.

“We have all read and studied with care the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus with the Complementary Norms and the accompanying Commentary,” the bishop added. “And now, in response to your invitation to contact your Dicastery to begin the process you lay out, we respectfully ask that the Apostolic Constitution be implemented in Canada; that we may establish an interim Governing Council of three priests (or bishops); and that this Council be given the task and authority to propose to His Holiness a terna for appointment of the initial Ordinary.”

“It is our hope and prayer that these proposals may be useful in setting in train the process set out in the most welcome, gracious, and generous response of the Holy Father to our Petition,” the letter concluded.

Other signatories of the letter were The Rt. Rev. Craig Botterill Suffragan Bishop for Atlantic Canada and The Rt. Rev. Carl Reid, Suffragan Bishop for Central Canada.

With approximately 60 bishops, the Traditional Anglican Communion has parishes in 13 ecclesial provinces across Canada.

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Center to advance Catholic higher ed expands Cardinal Newman Society’s mission

Manassas, Va., Mar 16, 2010 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society, a group dedicated to strengthening Catholic identity in Catholic higher education, is furthering its efforts with the expansion and re-launch of its Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education.
The Center, previously named Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education, has a new head in Dr. David House, a press release form the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) says. He is a former 12-year president of St. Joseph’s College in Maine and also a former official at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southern California and Bellarmine University.

“For 17 years, The Cardinal Newman Society has primarily served Catholic families seeking faithful Catholic education, but college leaders and bishops also need support,” Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society, commented in a press release. “With Dr. House and the expanded Center, we have an exciting opportunity to usher in an era of genuine renewal by providing much-needed policy analysis, research and opportunities for collaboration.”

The renamed center, the former research division of the Cardinal Newman Society, is now “a full-scale effort to share and study best practices at Catholic colleges and universities.” It aims to help like-minded college leaders collaborate in strengthening their institutions. Its work helps college leaders and Catholic bishops with higher education issues like institutional mission, academic quality and student life.

Its 2010 work includes measures for assessing Catholic identity; the implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae; defenses against government threats to religious liberty; core curricula at Catholic colleges; and student spirituality and sexual morals on Catholic campuses.

The Center has announced four 2010 fellows to advance its mission. They are Fr. Richard Duffield, Actor for the Cause of the Canonization of John Henry Cardinal Newman and Provost of the Birmingham Oratory; Dr. Anne Hendershott, former chairwoman of the University of San Diego sociology department and author of “Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education”; Dr. Kimberly Shankman, Dean of the College at Benedictine College; and Rev. D. Paul Sullins, a sociology professor at Catholic University of America.

Advisors to the Center include Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, and John Hittinger, philosophy professor and director of the Pope John Paul II Forum for the Church in the Modern World at the University of St. Thomas, Houston.

The center has also launched a blog titled “Renovo” about issues of Catholic identity. It publishes daily posts by more than a dozen leading experts from Catholic academia.

Its website is

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Archbishop Dolan: Abortion funding in health care bill still a ‘grave concern’

New York City, N.Y., Mar 16, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan says the use of federal money for abortion remains a “grave concern.” He has argued that abortion funding is a threat to universal health care because it excludes unborn children from its scope.

Writing in a Monday post at his blog “The Gospel in the Digital Age,” Archbishop Dolan noted the “tough spot” of those who are enthusiastic about universal health care.

“The bishops have been advocating universal health care for nearly a century. So, we sure want to see it work, and appreciate the efforts of the president and both parties in Congress to bring it home.”

“On the other hand, we’re worried. Health care, we insist, has to be truly universal. That means everybody – the baby in the womb, his or her mother, the poor, the immigrant, and our elders until natural death.”

While there is “much to cheer” about in the proposed health care bill, such as a provision for expectant mothers, the “grave concern” is that the public’s money will be used for abortions.

The archbishop said the Hyde Amendment, which restricts abortion funding, must be present in any health care bill or health care will not be universal “at all.”

President Obama’s guarantee that no abortion funding would be present in the bill was a relief to the bishops, Archbishop Dolan reported, while the Stupak Amendment assured that the status quo on abortion would not be tampered with.

“But – and here’s the alarm – the Senate bill has been gutted of such a guarantee. We’re worried, because a cause we very much welcome has become ominous, and could be unacceptable.”

According to Archbishop Dolan, the U.S. bishops’ analysis, made in consultation with partners from other faiths and with an array of health providers, says that the Senate version of the health care bill does not reflect the provisions of the Hyde Amendment.

Those who claim the Hyde protections apply to the Senate bill should not mind making “explicit mention of it,” the archbishop continued.

“All we ask is that the bill be consistent with the president’s assurances, that the abortion license will not be extended, and that the decades-long protection of the Hyde Amendment continue.”

“We’re not the obstructionists here,” commented the archbishop, who said the bishops are only insisting upon a ban on taxpayer funding for abortions in place since 1975.

He charged that some have opened a “loophole” to eliminate the Hyde Amendment, thus risking the passage of health care reform.

“Just say straight-out that the Hyde amendment is still in place,” Archbishop Dolan’s blog post concluded. “That keeps health care universal.”

On Monday afternoon, the president of the U.S. Bishops' Conference announced that the Catholic bishops are opposing the Senate health care bill.

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Priests must prioritize spiritual role over social, remarks archbishop

Vatican City, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht in Holland noted last week that because of their contact with the world, priests run the risk of allowing “their social roles to prevail over their spiritual ones.” In order to avoid this, he continued, each priest must continue to grow in his “relationship with Christ the priest, teacher and pastor.”

The archbishop made his comments during a theological congress on “The Fidelity of Christ, the Fidelity of the Priest,” organized by the Congregation for the Clergy at the Pontifical Lateran University on March 11-12.

“I don’t want to underestimate the importance of the social role of priests, who although ‘in a certain sense are segregated in the heart of the People of God,’ yet they do not remain ‘separated from this same people or from any man’ with whom they live and for whom they work in a particular age and culture,” Archbishop Eijk said.

Nevertheless, he pointed out, “we seek to train future priests and focus on their spiritual identity. Priests are exposed daily to pressure, tension and the disillusionment related to the proclamation of the Gospel in a society that is not very open to the Christian faith.”

For this reason, he added, “After ordination there is always the risk of the social role prevailing over the spiritual. In order to prevent this conflict, priests must do everything possible to grow in their relationship with Christ the priest, teacher and pastor.”

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Pope to visit Queen, beatify Cardinal Newman during England visit

London, England, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a joint press conference on Tuesday, the U.K. Government and the Catholic Bishops’ Conferences of Scotland, England and Wales welcomed Pope Benedict's upcoming visit, calling it an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen ties between the country and  the Holy See. The Sept. 16-19 papal visit, which is the first to take place in the U.K. since John Paul II's 1982 trip, was formally announced by Queen Elizabeth II on March 16.

The Pope's itinerary includes not only a formal reception by Her Majesty The Queen but also a trip to the West Midlands, where he will beatify the 19th century theologian and scholar Cardinal John Henry Newman.

Father Edoardo Cerrato, Procurator General of the Oratorian Confederation, welcomed the news of the Sept. 2010 beatification and wrote a letter to all Congregations of the Oratory.

“Newman belongs to those who seek the truth through the gift of human reason but illumined by the light of faith; and the Oratory of S. Philip, that counts Newman among its brothers, is profoundly aware of the great richness that, in Newman, has been given to her,” Fr. Cerrato said on Tuesday.

“It is my sincere wish for the whole Oratorian family that the approaching Beatification of this great Son of S. Philip Neri and master of all those who are ’seeking an informed orientation and sure guidance amid the uncertainties of the modern world’ (Pope Paul VI), will be the occasion of a deeper – and fruitful – knowledge of his thought, and of the example left by his life.”

Also included in the papal visit are a public mass in Glasgow, a prayer vigil in London, an event focusing on education and a visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace. The Holy Father will also pray with other Church leaders at Westminster Abbey.

Additional details of the Pope’s itinerary will be announced at a later date.

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Apostolic visitors of Legion to meet with Vatican Secretary of State April 30

CNA STAFF, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The five bishops appointed to the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion of Christ will meet with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on April 30 to present their final report after eight months of work.

The Apostolic Visitation began on July 15, 2009 under the direction of the five visitors: Bishop Ricardo Watti Urquidi of Tepic, Mexico; Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver; Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alessandria, Italy; Archbishop Ricardo Ezzato Andrello of Concepción, Chile; and Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Biblao, Spain.

In his most recent column, Vatican analyst Sandro Magister explained that after the final report is presented, “it will be the Vatican authorities who decide what to do. The three prelates charged with the case are Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State; Cardinal William J. Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.”

Magister noted that there is much speculation regarding when the Holy See will make a decision about the future of the order. However, he added, in his own opinion, the Vatican will name a pontifical commissioner to take charge of the Legion.

Other Vatican watchers have speculated that the Holy See may call for an extraordinary general chapter of the Legion of Christ.

One source at the Vatican told CNA that these are all just possibilities, as the apostolic visitors have only presented their proposals. The final decision will be made by Pope Benedict XVI.

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Group accuses Spanish government of seeking to deny conscientious objection rights

Madrid, Spain, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA) - The National Association for the Defense of the Right to Conscientious Objection is accusing the government in the Spanish region of Andalusia of attempting to deny conscientious objection rights in the application of a law on euthanasia.

“Considering the position of the Andalusian government throughout the proceedings for this bill, we fear it is not as much about legal scruples as about the desire to obstruct the exercising of conscientious objection by healthcare professionals.” The association warned that this could “cause a harmful conflict within the healthcare system.”

“The right to conscientious objection,” the association continued, “as the Spanish courts have repeatedly ruled, is a constitutional right that does not need to be regulated by law in order to be recognized, as the constitution is directly applicable in matters of human rights.”

“Conscientious objection by doctors, pharmacists and nurses is established in all of the healthcare ethics codes for national and international professional schools,” the association added.


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New film celebrating Year for Priests released in Rome

Rome, Italy, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA) - “Alter Christus,” a video on the many aspects of the priesthood, was recently released in Rome.  The film focuses on the life of St. John Vianney as well as priestly identity and celibacy.

The film was released by the organization, “Home of the Mother,” its foundation, “EUK Mamie,” and in collaboration with the Congregation for the Clergy.  According to Sister Maria Luisa Belmonte of Home of the Mother, the film is “centered on the life of St. John Vianney,” and “the topics covered range from the priestly identity to the Sacraments, from celibacy to the mission.”

The film is presented in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian and German.

“Alter Christus” includes interviews with Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; Cardinal Antonio Canizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Cardinal Julian Herranz, President of the Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia; Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy; Abbot Michael John Zielinski, Vice-President of the Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church; Msgr. Guido Marini, Pontifical Master of Ceremonies, and several others.

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Catholic clergy look for faith renewal in Pope's UK visit

London, England, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following Queen Elizabeth II's formal announcement on Tuesday of the Pope's Sept. 16-19 visit to the U.K., numerous Church and political leaders responded with a warm and sincere welcome of the Holy Father. One Scottish archbishop expected Pope Benedict to remind Europe of its Christian roots, while another hoped to see a boost in ecumenical relations.

“This is an historic visit at an important time. The Pope will receive a very warm welcome from Catholics and people of all faiths,” said Rt. Hon. Jim Murphy, the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is the Government Minister leading preparations for the visit.

“As well as providing spiritual leadership to over a billion Catholics around the world, including six million in the UK, the Pope and the Holy See have great influence on global policy in areas such as international development, sustainability and the relationships between religions,” Murphy noted.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and President of the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of Scotland echoed Mr. Murphy, saying, “I am thrilled that the Pope has accepted the UK Government's gracious invitation and I am sure he will receive a heartfelt welcome from Catholics as well as members of other faiths and people of goodwill.”

“A defining feature of Pope Benedict's teaching has been to remind Europe of its Christian roots and culture and to give us guidance on the great moral issues of our day and it is my hope that we all open our hearts to his words,” he said.

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow also welcomed the Holy Father and spoke on what he believes to be the significance of the Papal Visit. “I am delighted that Pope Benedict has confirmed his visit to the UK and especially glad that it will begin in Scotland. I am pleased and honoured to know that the first Mass to be offered on British soil will take place here in Glasgow.”

“It is perhaps coincidental but maybe providential that this visit comes in a year of anniversaries, many of them relating to the reformation,” the prelate noted. “The last papal visit brought about a qualitative leap forward in inter-church relations. The Pope noted this in his address to the Scottish Bishops just last month: 'The Church in your country, like many in Northern Europe, has suffered the tragedy of division. It is sobering to recall the great rupture with Scotland’s Catholic past that occurred four hundred and fifty years ago. I give thanks to God for the progress that has been made in healing the wounds that were the legacy of that period.'”

“My hopes for the visit are that it might promote a rediscovery of the religious history of Scotland and that it might boost ecumenical relations,” Archbishop Conti said. “The Pope’s message will be very positive, that is certain. As he said to us when we met him last month: 'All too often Church doctrine is perceived as a series of prohibitions and retrograde positions, whereas the reality is that it is creative and life-giving, and it is directed towards the fullest possible realization of the great potential for good and for happiness that God has implanted within every one of us.'”

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and President of the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales also weighed-in, saying, “As Catholics we are delighted to welcome Pope Benedict. We thank Her Majesty The Queen and her government for extending this historic invitation to His Holiness.”

“We are confident that the presence and message of Pope Benedict will encourage everyone to aspire again to a vision of life in our society marked by mutual trust, compassion and truth,” the Westminster archbishop said.

“The great Christian tradition of faith and life, which has so shaped our culture, has so much more to offer,” Archbishop Nichols concluded. “This gentle yet profound teacher of his faith will encourage and strengthen all who receive his words.”

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Abortion is never a right, affirms Spanish bishop

Guadalajara, Spain, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - Bishop Jose Sanchez of Siguenza-Guadalajara, Spain remarked Monday that abortion is “an attack against life,” and is therefore “an injustice” that “can never be called a right.”

In a letter to the faithful, Bishop Sanchez announced that the diocese would celebrate “Pro-Life Day” on March 25 in order to demand the right to life for all human beings “from the moment of conception,” and to remind parents of their obligation to “respect and defend” that right.

“Because we are disciples of the Master, who loves human life, who gave up His own for us, who values the lives of the least among us … we defend human life in all of its stages,” the bishop wrote.  He emphasized that the lives of the most “innocent and defenseless” must be protected, including: “the unborn, the sick, the elderly, those suffering hunger and thirst, those orphaned or abandoned and those exiled or subjected to violence of any kind.”

After pointing out that the Church has no intention of “invading the terrain of legislators, judges and leaders,” Bishop Sanchez noted that the Church “does have the right and the duty to defend the rights of the weakest.”  “We cry out against laws or behaviors that trample fundamental rights, in this case the right of life and the right to life.”

“The campaign promoted by our Church in Spain, on the occasion of Pro-Life Day, is intended to lend her voice to the voiceless, in this case, the unborn and struggling mothers, offering the service of numerous persons, organizations and institutions willing to welcome life and all persons,” Bishop Sanchez said.

The prelate concluded his letter by praising those who reach out to mothers in difficult circumstances, “so that they never feel the temptation to eliminate the lives of their children as the only solution to a distressing situation.”

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Vatican paper: US bishops speak for Catholic Church on health care reform

Vatican City, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a story written by reporter Marco Bellizzi, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano (LOR) points out that the American Catholic Bishops speak for the Catholic Church when they criticize the current health care bill.

“No support in the dark for health reform,” the LOR subtitles its story, which explains that “the health care bill approved by the US Senate is not acceptable.” “It cannot be supported and the moral objections raised by the project cannot be postponed for a later moment.”

“While the (US) congress, pressed by President Obama, is at a crucial moment for the destiny of the reform, in which the White House has invested lots of energy and lots of political credibility, the bishops of the US clarify again the position of the Catholic Church, repeatedly explained with frequent messages addressed to the senators and the congressmen, as well as to Obama himself.”

According to the Vatican newspaper, Cardinal Francis George’s Monday statement,  “clears the field of some misconceptions springing from the position taken by the Catholic Health Association (CHA,) which, by the words of Sr. Carol Keehan, had called for support of the Senate version, postponing for later the changes related to the most controversial issue … the federal funding of abortion.”

“The CHA’s position,” LOR explains, “does not reflect in any way the convictions of the United States Bishops Conference.”

The Vatican newspaper also details why the USCCB supports the House version of the bill, which includes the Stupak Amendment, whose language prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. 

LOR asserts that “it is not acceptable to wait for the approval of the project, given the multiple moral objections,” and quotes Cardinal George’s Midwest expression: “it would be like buying ‘a pig in a poke.’ The fear, obviously, is to later find out that it is a cat,” the article says in explanation of the saying.

Vatican's paper also mentions the different “forms of pressure to convince US pro-lifers” to support the health care bill, in particular the attack on the USCCB from an expert in health legislation, Professor Timothy Stolfzfus Jost, from the Washington and Lee University School of Law.

“Nevertheless, God, like the devil, is in the details,” writes L’Osservatore, quoting the latest column of Archbishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput. OFM Cap.

The Vatican daily also quotes Archbishop Chaput on how “long, unpleasant and too often dishonest the national health-care debate is now in its last days.  Its most painful feature has been those ‘Catholic’ groups that by their eagerness for some kind of deal undercut the witness of the Catholic community and help advance a bad bill into a bad law.”

“The Senate’s bill, according to Archbishop Chaput, fails because it does not prevent the (federal) funding of abortion, does not provide an adequate protection to conscientious objection and is not sufficiently inclusive regarding the immigrants,” the Vatican newspaper reports.

The article concludes by quoting the Archbishop of Denver, who recently reminded people that “groups, trade associations and publications describing themselves as ‘Catholic’ or ‘prolife’ that endorse the Senate version – whatever their intentions – are doing a serious disservice to the nation and to the Church, undermining the witness of the Catholic community.”

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Talk of ‘new intifada’ in Jerusalem overblown, Holy Land Custodian says

Jerusalem, Israel, Mar 16, 2010 (CNA) - Addressing tensions in Jerusalem, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custodian of the Holy Land, has said the situation is “fairly tense” but deems new violence to be unlikely.

The Israeli government recently decided to build 1,600 new houses in east Jerusalem. Islamic movements responded by proclaiming a “Day of Wrath,” leading Israel to declare a state of maximum alert and to close boundaries with the West Bank.

Masked Palestinians have hurled rocks at Israeli police and burned tires in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim as a future capital, the Associated Press says.

Police fired stun grenades to disperse dozens of protesters at one site, while village elders helped end protests at another site.

No injuries were reported.

The decision to build has caused tensions with the United States as well. Vice President Joe Biden, who was visiting Israel at the time of the announcement, condemned the decision as “the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel.''

Speaking to SIR news, Fr. Pizzaballa said:

"The climate is fairly tense in Jerusalem over these days, but I think no one, here, feels like starting a new intifada, even if this phrase is starting to be heard around now."

The Custodian said there are no problems for the pilgrims in town. The Israelis’ decision to build new houses will not negatively impact those being built by the Custody of the Holy Land.

“Our project is for 68 new houses for Christian families and I do not see how this can be a problem. Ours is just a drop in the ocean.”

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