Archive of April 5, 2010

Prayer best weapon against attacks on Pope and Church, says Peruvian cardinal

Lima, Peru, Apr 5, 2010 (CNA) - During the Chrism Mass last week in the Lima Cathedral, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani said the best response to the attacks on Pope Benedict XVI and the Church by the media is prayer. “Prayer is the main weapon the Holy Spirit provides” to the faithful, especially to priests, he noted.

During the Mass, in which over 200 priests renewed their priestly promises, the cardinal lamented the media attacks on the Holy Father. He added that the Pope has been “mistreated by enemies of the Church, with unusual disrespect for the truth and an incredible display of cynicism. It is evident that harming the Church is what is behind this attack.”

“We children of the Church cannot remain silent.  Prayer is the main weapon the Holy Spirit provides us.  Let us pray for the Pope, for the Church, for the bishops, for priests and for those in consecrated life. Let us seek strive greater personal sanctity,” he said.

“Our mother the Church asks all of her children to live in unity with greater determination,” the cardinal continued.

He also warned against being contaminated by “an age that trivializes everything and seeks to silence the Church and her priests. It is a time to especially show our faith, hope and charity.”

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We must seek to be messengers of God's love, declares Pope on Easter Monday

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Apr 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict prayed the Regina Caeli on Easter Monday from the Pontifical residence at Castel Gandolfo, where he traveled following Sunday's Easter celebrations at the Vatican. During his address before the prayer, he called the faithful to become announcers of God's love.

The Holy Father explained the significance of “Angel's Monday,” as the day following Easter Sunday is traditionally called in Italy, before the recitation of the Marian prayer at noon.

Contemplating the term "angel" during this time of Easter, observed the Pope, our thought goes immediately to Christ's tomb and the announcement by one or two angels that “He is risen,” as recounted in the Gospels.

"But," he added, "the Angel of the resurrection also recalls another meaning."

Besides being applicable to the "spiritual creatures endowed with intelligence and will, servants and messengers of God, it is also one of the oldest titles attributed to Jesus himself," the Pope taught, citing Tertullian's words that Christ is the announcer of the "great design of the Father for the restoration of man."

As the Angel of the Father, Jesus Christ "is the Messenger par excellence of his love," he pointed out.

Pope Benedict went on to explain that the risen Christ's words to the Apostles, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you," mean that we must emulate Jesus' role as the "announcer of the love of God the Father" and "also be this of the love of Christ" as "we are messengers of his resurrection, of his victory over evil and death, carriers of his divine love."

We receive this "mission" through Baptism and Confirmation, he continued, saying that it is referred in a special way to priests as "ministers of Christ."

The Holy Father concluded by invoking the assistance of the Queen of Heaven, so we are able to fully welcome "the grace of the paschal mystery and become courageous and joyous messengers of the resurrection of Christ."

The message and prayer were broadcast from Castel Gandolfo simultaneously through the large screens and speakers of St. Peter's Square.

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Archbishop Vlazny cancels newspaper subscription after anti-catholic rant

Portland, Ore., Apr 5, 2010 (CNA) - Responding to an anti-Catholic column penned by Eugene Joseph Dionne and an editorial cartoon portraying the Holy Father as deaf to abuse claims, Portland Archbishop John Vlazny has canceled his subscription to The Oregonian newspaper and asked Catholic pastoral ministers to do the same.

Archbishop Vlazny decried a March 31 editorial in the newspaper, a piece by syndicated Washington Post columnist Eugene Joseph  (E.J.) Dionne and a cartoon by The Oregonian's Jack Ohman depicting Pope Benedict XVI responding, “say what?” to demands that he “do something about pedophile priests.”

“The editors arrogantly scolded the church for its past failures in handling this matter of child abuse and, in an insulting and unfair attack, chose this most holy time of the year – during our church's 'Year of the Priest' - to connect the practice of celibacy among our clergy with the problem of sexual abuse, when everyone knows that most abusers by far are married persons!” wrote Archbishop Vlazny in a message e-mailed to diocesan priests.

The 73-year-old archbishop then described Ohman's editorial cartoon as “a portrayal dripping with hostility, an attack against our high priest, our universal pastor, our faithful teacher, the one person who, in the eyes of the world, symbolizes all that we are and do as Catholics.”

On April 1, The Oregonian published the response of Bob Caldwell, the newspaper’s editorial page editor, who claimed  that “our editorial and cartoon about the child sexual abuse scandal were not, in any sense, anti-Catholic.”

“They could be construed as critical of the pope and church's handling of abuse cases over the years, but the editorial was both thoughtful and hopeful. We had no intent to offend anyone, although I am not surprised that some disagreed with the opinions expressed on our pages,” Caldwell added.

Although the archbishop's email did not ask priests to include his statement in their parish bulletins, some decided to do so said Bud Bunce, spokesman for the archdiocese.

The Oregonian said it tried to reach Archbishop Vlazny for further comment, but Bunce responded saying the prelate did not want to further discuss his statement.

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Italian condemns abuse, is proud to be a priest

Rome, Italy, Apr 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - "I'm not ashamed to say that I haven't been ashamed of being a priest," writes Italian Father Pier Giordano Cabra, responding to the "media mocking" of the Catholic Church in recent days related to its handling of clerical sex abuse. While condemning the actions of culpable priests, he underlines the need to support those who are holy and honest.

In an article published over Holy Week in L'Osservatore Romano, Fr. Cabra calls the acts of pedophile priests, “shameful” and repeats Pope Benedict's words that "where there is filth" a cleaning is needed.

"This said," he continues, "I'm not ashamed to belong to a 'category' of people that has devoted their own lives to preparing children and young people for life, that has had the courage to promote with word and with example - yes, precisely with a good example - the ideal of a clean, ... respectful and generous life."

After recalling the the priests who contributed to his own formation and those he has known who "live for others, putting the dignity of the person” he notes that he "can't not see also greed" in the "media storm" of recent days that seeks to take advantage of the situation.”  He accused the media of using the abuse cases as an “occasion to besmirch the Church and belittle its doctrine," which he points out, remains firm in not "confusing good and evil, dirty and clean."

"I think of the holy priests... and those (who are) honest. … By remembering them I feel pushed to look ahead with confidence," continues Fr. Cabra.

He also adds that attention should be paid "most of all to not flinging the first stone too easily."

Father Cabra concludes his article saying, "I'm not ashamed of being a priest. I'm only ashamed of not being a holy priest."

Fr. Pier Giordano Cabra is the author of a number of books based on spirituality including "You Will Love," "The Icons of the Consecrated Life," and "The Book of the Acts of the Apostles."

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Ten thousand young people in Ecuador embrace chastity

Quito, Ecuador, Apr 5, 2010 (CNA) - Ten thousand young people met in the Archdiocese of Quito in Ecuador last month and promised to remain chaste until marriage and defend life from conception to natural death.

According to Amparo Medina of the organization, Prolife Action, which organized the event, the thousands of young people attended a concert and listened to testimonies “about the truth regarding the businesses of death, contraception and abortion.”

“The young people heard testimonies from women who were at the doors of abortion clinics but who, with the help of Prolife volunteers, came to understand what an abortion truly is, received help and said yes to life. The shouts of excitement from the young people upon seeing these babies and their mothers was a yes to life,” Medina said.

After the different events, the young people made a promise to live chastely until marriage and to live in marriage faithfully until death. “We will hold these events again in support of the lives of our children and our families for an Ecuador free of the empire of death, contraception and abortion,” Medina stated.

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Cardinal O'Malley: Pope is seriously committed to eradicating sex abuse

Boston, Mass., Apr 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a statement released on his blog, the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O'Malley gave personal testimony to Pope Benedict XVI's commitment to ending sex abuse within the Church.

The Boston Cardinal recalls that since being named Bishop of Fall River in 1992 and subsequently Bishop of Palm Beach and Archbishop of Boston, “I have had the painful but privileged opportunity to meet with hundreds of survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their loved ones.”

“During the course of Pope Benedict’s visit to the United States in 2008, at a meeting with survivors from the Archdiocese of Boston, I presented the Holy Father a book inscribed with the first names of 1500 children who had been sexually abused by clergy and shared that the names marked with a gold cross were children who had died under tragic circumstances. The Holy Father was visibly moved as he read the names,” he explains.

“What is very clear to me — and I think to all who are fair-minded — is that Cardinal Ratzinger and later Pope Benedict has been dedicated to eradicating sexual abuse in the Church and trying to rectify the mistakes of the past,” the cardinal writes.

The Archbishop of Boston also explains that  during the height of the sexual abuse scandal in the U.S., “the strongest ally we had in this effort was Cardinal Ratzinger. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he allowed us to move forward with the Essential Norms which became local Church law in the U.S. and facilitated the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.”

The Norms, Cardinal O’Malley recalls, “allowed for mandated reporting to civil authorities and embraced a zero-tolerance policy for abusers.

In addition, the Charter called for abuse prevention training that has been attended by literally millions of Catholics. It also requires yearly public audits to ensure that dioceses are in compliance with these requirements.”

“During this Holy Season I urge all of our Catholics to pray for the survivors and all who have been impacted by the tragedy of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. I also hold in my prayers and ask us all to pray for those persons for whom this crisis has been an obstacle to the continued practice of their faith. Let us pray, too, for our Holy Father, that God will grant him the light and wisdom he needs to guide the Church. And during this Year for Priests, let us pray for our priests, who labor quietly everyday doing the good works of the Lord,” Cardinal O'Malley concludes.


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Journalist explains 'Why I am a Catholic' in NY paper

New York City, N.Y., Apr 5, 2010 (CNA) - Carolyn E. Davis, a staff writer for Us Weekly magazine, wrote a moving column published Easter Sunday in the New York Post focusing on why she is a proud Catholic, despite recent media attacks attempting to drag down the Catholic Church.

“Sure, it was explained to me when I converted that the gate would be narrow, but I had no idea,” she wrote. 

Born “nothing,” Davis completed her adult catechism and chose to become a Catholic in 2000, “to the thinly veiled displeasure of people close to me.”

“Archbishop Fulton Sheen put it right when he said, ‘There are not over a hundred people in the US that hate the Catholic Church, there are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church, which is, of course, quite a different thing,’” she said.

Davis acknowledged that “the horrific replay of the 2002 clerical sexual-abuse scandals has again stirred up sadness, anger and the inevitable stream of negative postings on my social-networking feeds.”

“There is zero tolerance for pedophiles in the Church today,” she explained, “And the test of moral credibility the Holy See is charged with really applies to the whole church — not just clergy but the whole mystical body of Christ.”

“If we all made this past Lenten season a truly repentant and earnest one, then we’re surely continuing on the path to clearing out the evil and healing those who still suffer its terrible wounds. The beauty of Easter isn’t just the expiation of our own sins but that Jesus suffered and was put to death in the flesh once for us all (1 Peter 3:18) and that his resurrection holds the great promise of his return (Luke 21:25-28),”  Davis also wrote.

“The Catholic Church,”  she continued “is more than this scandal. I, for one, want to help serve with a church that has done more to help the sick, poor, hungry, suffering and forgotten than any other group in recorded human history.”

“Through everything my relationship with Jesus, especially in the Eucharist, is the source and summit of my spiritual strength and the one thing I will never abandon.”

“Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra! The resurrection of Christ is our hope!” she concluded.

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Catholic actor booted from ABC show for refusing sex scenes

Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 5, 2010 (CNA) - Neal McDonough, a devout Catholic family man known to the American public as one of the characters from “Band of Brothers” and the bad guy on “Desperate Housewives,” has been suddenly replaced three days into the filming of ABC's new series, “Scoundrels” last week, apparently for reasons of faith and principles.

Although McDonough's sudden replacement with David James Elliott was officially explained by ABC as a “casting change,” several Hollywood sources claim that McDonough was sacked because of his refusal to do “heated love scenes” with actress Virginia Madsen.

McDonough’s position is well-known in the industry.  He previously refused to do sex scenes with Nicolette Sheridan on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” when he played her villain husband during the show's fifth season.

He also did not do love scenes in his previous roles in NBC’s “Boomtown” and “Medical Investigation.”

“It has cost him jobs, but the man is sticking to his principles,” wrote Nikki Finke of “Deadline Hollywood,” quoting an unknown source.

“You can't help but admire McDonough for sticking to his beliefs, even if he's poised to lose as much as $1 million in paydays for Scoundrels,” Finke also wrote.

McDonough, the son of devout Catholic Irish immigrants, has made many television and film appearances, including “Band of Brothers,” “Star Trek: First Contact,” “Minority Report,”  “The Hitcher,” “Flags of Our Fathers,” “I Know Who Killed Me,” and “Forever Strong.”

McDonough is married to Ruvé Robertson, with whom he has three young children: Morgan Patrick, Catherine Maggie and London Jane.

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Husband of St. Gianna dies

Toronto, Canada, Apr 5, 2010 (CNA) -

The husband of St. Gianna Beretta Molla passed away at the age of 97 last weekend on Holy Saturday, a day that carries special significance for the Molla family. “Pietro Molla was a pillar and rock – a man of extraordinary faith, simplicity and holiness,” wrote Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Salt and Light TV, on his blog. “He lived a remarkable, saintly life and like his beloved wife, Gianna, made holiness something attainable for all of us.”

Pietro spent much of his life as a widower after his wife died in 1962, having chosen to give birth to her daughter instead of having an abortion, despite the dangers it presented to her own life. Gianna, a physician herself, died a week after their baby was born. Her husband was left with four children to raise and never remarried. Nevertheless, “I am convinced,” wrote Fr. Rosica, “that the story of holiness did not end with St. Gianna Beretta Molla.

“I am certain that the cause for Pietro Molla’s beatification and canonization will be opened soon,” he continued. “What a powerful witness this would be to the dignity and sacredness of marriage and family life!”

Fr. Rosica added that the Molla family “is somehow linked to the mystery of Holy Saturday.” Pietro and St. Gianna's daughter Laura, explained to Fr. Rosica that “It was on Holy Saturday 1962 that Gianna Beretta Molla gave birth to her daughter, Gianna Emanuela. One week later, on Easter Saturday, St. Gianna died from the serious medical condition that resulted from bringing her child to term. St. Gianna gave her life so that the child in her womb would live. And now Pietro returns to the house of the Father on Holy Saturday morning 2010.”

“St. Gianna and her husband are now reunited in heaven and celebrate the mystery of Christ’s dying and rising in the company of the Lord and his saints,” Fr. Rosica wrote. "I can only imagine the scene in heaven on Holy Saturday morning as this wonderful couple was reunited after forty-eight years of being apart. They would embrace their daughter Mariolina, who died as a child, and be welcomed by the Venerable Pope John Paul II who enrolled Gianna in the book of the Saints. May St. Gianna, Pietro and Mariolina intercede for us now from heaven, and watch over all married couples and families on earth."

Pietro Molla’s funeral Mass will be celebrated in Mesero, Italy on Tuesday. He will then be buried in the town cemetery, next to his wife.

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Computer mistranslation of key Vatican memo undercuts media criticism of Pope

Denver, Colo., Apr 5, 2010 (CNA) - A “very rough” computer translation of a memo recounting a key Vatican meeting about a Milwaukee priest who abused deaf children appears to have skewed media attempts to implicate Pope Benedict. Contradicting the New York Times and the Associated Press, the memo shows that the Vatican never ruled out defrocking the cleric.

An expert translation of that document provides evidence that appears to exonerate Vatican officials accused of wrongdoing in the case. Participants at the May 30, 1998 meeting in Rome said that a lack of evidence, such as missing records from the archdiocesan archives, prevented the normal canonical route for laicization of the Milwaukee priest. However, in the memo, they emphasized that unless the accused priest showed genuine penitence, he still risked penalties including removal from the clerical state, a process commonly known as defrocking.

These comments were poorly translated or even excluded from the English-language translation of the meeting minutes published on the New York Times web site, which also reproduced the Italian original. The translation of this document may have affected both the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s treatment of the case and the 2010 media reports about it.

The case concerned Fr. Lawrence Murphy, a Milwaukee priest who abused some 200 deaf children in an archdiocesan school from 1950 to 1974, sometimes even in the confessional. Local authorities did not act on allegations. Although not barred from ministry, the priest was given no more parish assignments.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee revisited the case in 1996 after victims’ advocates sought to have Fr. Murphy defrocked. Fr. Murphy’s appeal protesting the charges extended the case through 1998. The priest was in very poor health when Archbishop of Milwaukee Rembert Weakland ordered the case “abated” on or before August 19, 1998, two days before Fr. Murphy died.

The New York Times claimed that then-Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), ordered Wisconsin bishops to halt a canonical trial that could have defrocked Fr. Murphy.

In a March 24 story, the Times cited Archbishop Weakland’s claim that at a final meeting at the Vatican on May 30, 1998, he failed to persuade Archbishop Bertone and other doctrinal officials to grant a canonical trial to defrock Father Murphy. The lede to that story claimed that “top Vatican officials including the future Pope Benedict XVI” did not defrock the priest, an interpretation already strongly challenged by critics.

More reasons to question the New York Times’ claims come in the translation of a memo from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) on what the New York Times called “the final meeting on the case.”

That memo recounted the minutes of the 1998 Rome meeting between Archbishop Bertone, Vatican officials, and the American bishops who had requested the meeting. The U.S. bishops were Archbishop Weakland, his auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba and Bishop of Superior, Wisconsin Raphael Fliss.

In its story on the Fr. Murphy case, the New York Times links to an August 15, 1998 letter to Bishop Fliss from Fr. Thomas Brundage, then-judicial vicar of the archdiocese. In a discussion several weeks before, he wrote, “I indicated that I had put the CDF memo through a computer translator.”

“It is a very rough translation and the computer certainly cannot distinguish some of the peculiarities of canon law,” Fr. Brundage wrote. “Nevertheless, it does give us non-Italian speakers a rough idea of what happened.”

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s translation contains many errors of tense and incomplete sentences. Several significant phrases and sentences are left out entirely. Paragraph four of the Milwaukee version says Archbishop Weakland should try to have Fr. Murphy declared impeded for ministry and says three psychologists “would have to examine” the priest and decide if he is a typical pedophile. This sentence closes with a non sequitur, “which therefore. To the”.

The awkward translation continues:“The Secretary, Gianfranco Girotti, stated that the priest must give clear signs of repentance, otherwise he must be applied to a trial..[sic] It is recommended that Fr. Murphy be entrusted it[sic] to a priest who like his spiritual director then would have periodic meetings with him every one or two months."

According to a translation from Lori Pieper, a professional translator who writes at the blog “On Pilgrimage,” the memo’s paragraph four in fact says that Archbishop Weakland compared Fr. Murphy to a “difficult child.” The archbishop undertook to seek a “declaration of repentance” from him, not to have him declared “impeded from ministry.”

While the Milwaukee translation indicates that the priest had not yet been examined psychologically, the memo says that all three psychologists who examined him believed him to be a “typical” pedophile who “considers himself a victim.”

The Pieper translation says that CDF Under-Secretary Fr. Gianfranco Girotti repeated that the priest “will have to give clear signs of penitence” or officials will “have to have recourse to a trial.”

The Milwaukee translation excluded Archbishop Bertone’s proposal that the priest be ordered to a time of spiritual retreat to understand whether his penitence is genuine. If not genuinely penitent, he would risk “more rigorous measures,” including dismissal from the clerical state.

Archbishop Bertone then summarizes the territorial restrictions for the priest’s celebration of the Eucharist and “the admonition to induce him to show remorse.”

Pieper’s expert translation, which was sent to the National Catholic Register, also calls into question the Associated Press’ version of the Murphy case. While the AP said Archbishop Bertone “decided the alleged molestation occurred too long ago,” it did not note the problems in the case such as a lack of records in the archdiocesan archives. The memo notes that the length of time since the crimes occurred had rendered a civil lawsuit impossible and posed “the true problem” for a canonical trial as well.

The archbishop further mentions “the broad right of [self]-defense that exists in the U.S. and the difficulties that would be put forward by the lawyers in this direction,” the memo reports. He also notes the difficulty that hearing impaired have in providing proof “without aggravating matters.”

The AP also claimed Fr. Murphy was “spared a defrocking” because he was “protected by the Vatican office led by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now the Pope.” The memo reconfirms that Cardinal Ratzinger was not in attendance in the meeting.

While the AP depicted penitence and restrictions on Fr. Murphy’s ministry as lesser alternative to laicization, the memo says Archbishop Bertone stressed “it is unacceptable for him to be able to go and celebrate the Eucharist in the deaf community in Milwaukee.”

Before the unreliability of the documentation was revealed, the Times and Associated Press stories had been criticized for misrepresenting other facts of the case, misunderstanding the Vatican judicial system, and imputing the actions of subordinates to the Pope himself.

Critics of the Catholic Church have seized on the New York Times and Associated Press Milwaukee reports and tried to link them with abuse allegations surfacing in Europe. Recently, Washington Post syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson claimed the Milwaukee allegation was “the most explosive” facing the Pontiff.

Cardinal William J. Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized the news coverage in a statement last week. “I am not proud of America's newspaper of record, the New York Times,” Cardinal Levada wrote. “Both the article and the editorial are deficient by any reasonable standards of fairness that Americans have every right and expectation to find in their major media reporting.”

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