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Archive of April 18, 2010

Archdiocese of Hartford employees urged to reject statute of limitations bill

Hartford, Conn., Apr 18, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Henry J. Mansell made an impassioned plea to employees of the Archdiocese of Hartford to petition legislators to reject a bill that he said would harm the Catholic Church in Connecticut.

The Archbishop spoke at the Chancery in Hartford and at the Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield against H.B. 5473, a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a minor. The bill unfairly targets the Catholic Church, he said.

Another reason for his presentations, he said, was "to be sure key staff people understand it" because what they hear and read can be confusing.

The current statute of limitations is 30 years after an alleged victim reaches the age of 18. Archbishop Mansell said, "Connecticut has the longest statute of limitations in the country. No one is close. No other state has one as strong or as long."

Two years ago, he reminded employees, an attempt was made to increase the statute of limitations by 10 years. "This one now [would create] no statute of limitations at all," he said. "Many so-called perpetrators are deceased."

The longer the statute of limitations, he said, the harder it is for an individual or entity to defend itself against allegations of abuse.

In a letter to parishioners and friends distributed in churches April 10 and 11, Connecticut’s bishops said H.B. 5473, which "also targets the Catholic Church across the state and has potentially disastrous fallout for all of us," could be voted on in the General Assembly by the end of April.

Accompanying the Archbishop at the employee meetings were Msgr. John J. McCarthy, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, and Michael C. Culhane, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference. Msgr. McCarthy pointed out that the bill excludes public institutions from lawsuits because they are protected under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. A recent amendment purporting to fix this inequity does no such thing, he said. It is still necessary to ask the state’s permission to sue it, and the state can still say no.

Msgr. McCarthy also said that although it has been reported that an amendment requires older petitioners to join an existing lawsuit, it does not, nor does it require a probable cause hearing. It is possible to join a suit that may have been resolved years earlier, he said.

Mr. Culhane outlined four reasons to oppose the bill: 1) It discriminates against Catholic and other nonpublic institutions; 2) it is retroactive; 3) it would not protect children, as its stated purpose says it would; and 4) it would "harm the helper," the Catholic Church, which he said has a remarkable record of protecting children and of bringing aid to disadvantaged people.

H.B. 5473 was introduced by Rep. Beth Bye (D-19), in response to pleas from constituents in the West Hartford area who claimed to be victims of sexual abuse at the hands of the late Dr. George Reardon, a former employee of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. Many alleged victims of Dr. Reardon are older than 48 and therefore not eligible to sue under the current law. Many other lawsuits are pending against the Catholic hospital and against the Catholic Church.

Printed with permission from The Catholic Transcript, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

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Catholic author writes to convey fascination with Turin Shroud, dimensions of human life

CNA STAFF, Apr 18, 2010 (CNA) - Author Jerome Corsi released his newest book Tuesday to what he hopes will be an audience of believers and unbelievers alike. His book, “The Shroud Codex” combines religion and science in a very realistic novel surrounding the mysterious Shroud of Turin.

“I have been fascinated with the Shroud since I first learned about it,” Corsi told CNA. “The Shroud has always made a profound impact on me and over the past few decades, I have collected books and read many scientific papers on the Shroud.  I have always been impressed with how anatomically accurate the wounds of the crucified man in the Shroud are — even by today’s most advanced medical analyses.  Also, the wounds are very faithful to the New Testament descriptions of Christ’s passion and death.”

“What made writing 'The Shroud Codex' fascinating for me was the opportunity to explore these issues of science and faith,” Corsi added. “I wanted both to entertain and to invite people to think.  The Shroud is one of the enduring mysteries of faith,” he explained. Noting that most people simply accept the media emphasis that radiocarbon dating proving the Shroud to be a medieval forgery, Corsi’s book attempts to move beyond that, looking at both the science and the faith involved in the mysterious shroud.

Corsi also said that he was influenced by Dan Brown, author of “The DaVinci Code.” However, he was clear that he did not agree with Brown’s perspective. Brown proved that the religious mystery was something that the public was interested in, which paved the way for books such as “The Shroud Codex.” However, Brown’s position that the Catholic Church is opposed to science is not the case, Corsi argues. “Without the Catholic Church, the Dark Ages would have destroyed all prior science.  If the Church were opposed to science, the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project would never have been organized.”

Another inspiration for Corsi was Michael Crichton, the prolific science fiction author. Crichton’s books, Corsi said, “proved you could engage a non-scientific public in questions of science, provided you told an entertaining enough story.” That is Corsi’s precise aim in his newest book, which mixes religious mystery, scientific fact, and a fictional storyline.

“The Shroud Codex” itself offers clear, layman-like explanations of scientific principles, from the radiocarbon dating used on the shroud to string theory and the possibility of alternate universes. Though Corsi says he believes the Shroud to be the actual burial cloth of Jesus, there are no easy answers or simple endings. One of the central characters is an avowed atheist, and the book ends with his continued doubts. Ultimately, the book, while not so much an adventure in literature as in faith, poses a question about humanity’s innate tendency towards religion, Catholic or not.

“I want the reader to explore the idea the Shroud itself is a “codex” in that the way the image was created is like a book we need modern science — and faith — to read the hidden message,” Corsi said. “The hidden message is about life — that our everyday dimension of experience is not all there is — and about the after-life — that everything does not end with death, much as atheists seem to believe.”

A review of the book can be found here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=1200

 

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Church celebrates feast of recently beatified Canadian, pioneer of co-ed schools

CNA STAFF, Apr 18, 2010 (CNA) - April 18 commemorates the feast of Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin, a Canadian woman whose life was a story of obedience in the face of personal setbacks.

Esther Blondin was born in 1809 to a pious, French-Canadian farm family in southern Quebec. When she was old enough, she began to work as a domestic servant for a merchant and later for the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame. While she worked for the sisters, she learned to read and write.

During that time, Esther decided to enter the congregation as a novice. However, her health forced her to abandon the pursuit. Nevertheless, the literacy she had obtained opened doors for her and she became a teacher, and eventually a director at a parochial school.

She was aware of the high levels of illiteracy in the area, and when she was 39 years old, she sought to found an order that taught both boys and girls in the same school. The year was 1848 and her idea was radical, as schools taught boys and girls separately.

Eventually, the pioneering woman received the requisite permission, and the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Anne was founded. Esther was the superior and took the name Marie-Anne. Though she was the founder and superior, Sister Marie-Anne faced much oppression from the congregation’s chaplain. He eventually had her removed from her position, and she was prohibited from holding any administrative roles for the rest of her life.

She spent her last 32 years without complaining, working in the order’s laundry and ironing room. Despite her demotion, her order continued to grow and spread across Canada and the United States.

Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin died in 1890. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001.

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German court fines SSPX Bishop Williamson for Holocaust denial

Berlin, Germany, Apr 18, 2010 (CNA) - A German court has fined Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) 10,000 Euros, almost $14,000, for denying the Holocaust.

The 70-year-old bishop had denied the magnitude of the Holocaust, saying only 300,000 Jews perished, and that there were no gas chambers. It is a hate crime in Germany to deny the Holocaust, in which about six million Jews and millions of others perished, Reuters reports.

Bishop Williamson had appealed the initial 12,000 Euro fine, which was reduced. At a hearing in Regensburg in southern Germany, Judge Karin Frahm rejected Williamson’s lawyer Matthias Lossmann’s request that the fine be nullified.

A court spokesman said the judge reduced the penalty slightly because the bishop’s lawyer argued he had been unaware that his comments would spread outside of Sweden on the internet, leaving him open to prosecution in Germany.

The interview with Swedish television was conducted near Regensburg.

Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication of four SSPX bishops, including Williamson, hoping to reconcile the breakaway group with the Catholic Church. Williamson’s comments about the Holocaust were not known to him at the time, but they caused controversy especially among Jewish groups.

Williamson later offered an apology for his remarks, which the Vatican rejected as insufficient.

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Court ruling undermines historic American dependence on God, critics say

Washington D.C., Apr 18, 2010 (CNA) - A federal judge’s ruling that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional had no legal basis and was not in keeping with American traditions of expressing “dependence on the Almighty,” critics said.

On Thursday U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb in Madison, Wisconsin declared unconstitutional a 1988 federal law giving the president the authority to designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.

Her decision came in response to the case filed by the Madison-based atheist group Freedom from Religion Foundation, which argued it was unconstitutional because it endorses school prayer.

Judge Crabb agreed with the group, saying that atheists feel marginalized by the law, CNSNews.com reports.

Granting that many people are not harmed by the proclamation, she ruled that individuals who do not pray and feel marginalized by the government’s message of prayer suffer “a distinct harm.”

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) had represented 31 members of Congress in an amicus brief defending the National Day of Prayer.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the ACLJ, said the decision was badly thought out.

“It is unfortunate that this court failed to understand that a day set aside for prayer for the country represents a time-honored tradition that embraces the First Amendment, not violates it," he commented, according to CNSNews.com.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), a former judge and one of the 31 Congressmen backed by the ACLJ, said in his view it was “obvious” that Judge Crabb “had not received a very good education” in American history.

He cited Benjamin Franklin’s exhortation to prayer at the Constitutional Convention and his motion that prayers be held in Congress every day.

Sekulow thought the case would “very likely” go to the U.S. Supreme Court, especially because the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has been “difficult at times on religion cases.”

“I think we will carry the day, but it is going to be a close case,” he continued, warning that the issue could be decided by the next appointee to the Supreme Court.

“An issue like this underscores the importance of why it's so critical for the nominee to answer direct questions about their judicial philosophy, how they view the role of judges, and their view of the rule of law,” Sekulow continued.

President Barack Obama, his press secretary Robert Gibbs, and National Day of Prayer Task Force Chairman Shirley Dobson were named as defendants in the suit. According to CNSNews.com, Judge Crabb dismissed the case against Dobson.

Dobson, the wife of Focus on the Family Founder Dr. James Dobson, also cited American history as justification for the practice.

“Since the days of our Founding Fathers, the government has protected and encouraged public prayer and other expressions of dependence on the Almighty,” she said in a Thursday statement. “This is a concerted effort by a small but determined number of people who have tried to prohibit all references to the Creator in the public square, whether it be the Ten Commandments, the Pledge of Allegiance, or the simple act of corporate prayer -- this is unconscionable for a free society.”

Joel Oster, senior counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), said the Day of Prayer was “America’s heritage.”

“ADF urges the Obama administration to appeal this terrible ruling that not only undermines the National Day of Prayer, but the underlying heritage and tradition of the American people which dates back to the nation's founding,” he continued.

In 1952 President Harry Truman signed into law a joint resolution of Congress to set aside a National Day of Prayer. Congress amended the law in 1988 to establish a more particular date.

According to the ADF, all 50 governors and U.S. presidents have issued proclamations in honor of the National Day of Prayer.

CNSNews.com said that President Obama last year issued a proclamation for the National Day of Prayer but refused to host ceremonies at the White House as previous administrations had done. He said that the statute is simply an “acknowledgement of the role of religion in American life” that is similar to other ceremonial practices that courts have upheld in the past.

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Cardinal Cooke’s sainthood cause advances as Archbishop Dolan presents case to Pope

Vatican City, Apr 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Servant of God Cardinal Terence Cooke's cause for sainthood has advanced with the delivery of the relevant documents to the Holy See. Investigations into the life of the much loved former Archbishop of New York have begun the "Roman phase" of his path to canonization.

Following Pope Benedict XVI's general audience in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York visited to greet the pontiff and to deliver documents that could help his predecessor be declared a saint.

Cardinal Cooke, born, raised and ordained in New York City, was consecrated bishop in 1965.  From his position of vicar general of the Archdiocese of New York, at the age of 47, he was chosen to succeed Francis Cardinal Spellman as archbishop upon his death in 1967. He also became Military Vicar for the United States.

According to The Cardinal Cooke Guild, during the 14 years Cardinal Cooke spent at the helm of the archdiocese many of the needy were assisted by his initiatives personally. Among the programs founded on his watch were Birthright, Courage and Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Under his direction, the Church cared for 60 percent of the city's abandoned or neglected children.
The Guild describes his extraordinary efforts for the homeless, elderly, marginalized and sick, adding that Cardinal Cooke “never failed to listen to others and to address their needs."

Although it wasn't known publicly, he suffered from leukemia. He was diagnosed during his first year as archbishop. Even up to his death in 1983, he was heard joyfully saying, “Life is no less beautiful when it is accompanied by illness, weakness, hunger or poverty, physical or mental diseases, loneliness or old age.”

According to the Guild, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, was named Postulator for Cardinal Cooke's cause by John Cardinal O'Connor and in 1992 the cardinal received Servant of God status from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS).

Since then, the cardinal's cause has gone through the "local phase."

The Ambrosi Legal Firm, which is representing the cause in Rome, has described the process.

First, information for in Cardinal Cooke's cause was compiled by the Postulator and given to the local bishop. The information included a biography as well as any of the cardinal’s writings, which must be certified as congruent with Church teaching by two censor theologians.

The information also includes a list of witnesses to the life of the Servant of God. A formal request to introduce the cause was also made.

After receiving the request and documents, the bishop conferred with any other bishops in the region about introducing the cause and invited the cardinal's devotees to present other possible writings which were the also the object of theological review.

With these steps completed, the process began the "Roman phase" with Archbishop Dolan's delivery of the complete documentation in the form of a "positio," a position paper, to the Holy See.

L'Osservatore Romano briefly spoke with the archbishop after he delivered the positio at Wednesday's audience. He said that the figure of the late cardinal remains “very current as a model for bishops and priests."

"Cooke maintained serenity amidst the tempest; he was always close to his people, despite a serious illness. His testimony of strength and truth especially encourages us bishops of today."

The next step in the process, whose duration is impossible to predict, is the revision of documents by the CCS. Upon the conclusion of the review, if Cardinal Cooke is declared to have displayed "heroic virtue" in his life, by Papal decree he will be designated as venerable.

If a miracle is officially attributed to his intervention after much more documentation and investigation, he could then be beatified. At that point, a second recognized miracle would lead to his canonization.

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Shipwrecks lead to new beginnings, says Pope aboard plane to Malta

Aboard the papal plane, Apr 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Speaking to journalists aboard the flight to Malta on Saturday afternoon, Pope Benedict offered insight into his reasons for choosing to travel to the Mediterranean island. He also sent a message of hope to the Church, saying that "shipwrecks" can provide a new start in life and that the wounds of the Church can be healed through the Gospel.

The Holy Father offered an instructional catechesis while listing the essential reasons for his visit to Malta.

The 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck, he said, provided an occasion to throw "light on the important figure of the Apostle to the Gentiles and his message." This message, the Pope added, can be seen in its essence in St. Paul's words to the Galatians:"Faith expressed in charity."

"Faith," he highlighted, is "the relationship with God which then transforms itself into charity" and continues to have importance for us today. Recalling the gift of faith in Malta which resulted from St. Paul's shipwreck, Pope Benedict said that we can also see that "the shipwrecks of life can be part of God's project for us, and can be useful for a new beginning to our lives."

The next reason the Pope offered for his decision was that he was "glad to be in the midst of a lively Church such as that in Malta, which even today is rich in vocations, which is full of faith and responds to the challenges of our time."

He added, "I am aware that Malta loves Christ and loves His Church which is His Body, and that it knows that, even if this body is wounded by our sins, the Lord still loves His Church ...and His Gospel is the true force that purifies and heals."

The final underlying reason for having chosen Malta as the destination of his first pastoral visit of the year was its position as an entry point for "waves of refugees" from Africa. This being a "great problem of our time" which cannot be confronted by Malta alone, he expressed the need for a unified response to the challenge of giving people a dignified life, both "in their own land" or "here."

Malta, said the Pope, reminds us of these problems and also reminds us that "faith is the force which leads to charity, which allows us to respond well to these challenges."

The Holy Father arrived in Malta on Saturday evening and will be returning to Rome at around 7 PM local Maltese time.

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Pope meets with abuse victims in Malta, emphasizes Church's commitment to justice

Valletta, Malta, Apr 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - During a meeting with sexual abuse victims while on his apostolic visit to Malta this weekend, the Holy Father expressed his “shame and sorrow.” He underscored the Church's commitment to justice for victims and prayed for healing.

The victims expressed their feelings of "peace" after the encounter.

Pope Benedict met with eight victims of sexual abuse in Malta's Apostolic Nunciature in Rabat after Mass in the Granaries Square Sunday morning.

A statement from the Vatican reported that the Holy Father was "deeply moved" upon hearing the victims' stories. Expressing his "shame and sorrow" for the suffering caused to them and their families, he prayed with them, asking that they would be experience healing and reconciliation and be able to look to the future with renewed hope.

The Holy Father also provided his assurance of the Church's commitment, now and into the future,  to do everything possible to investigate allegations of sexual abuse, bring justice to perpetrators and implement effective measures for the protection of young people.

Following the meeting, the Times of Malta reported that the victims were pleased with the meeting.

"We now have peace in our hearts, even because the Pope found time to meet us. We now look forward to the end of the court case, and closure of this chapter," one of the group told media.

According to the Times, the bishops of Malta and Gozo were also present at the meeting, which Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi called "very intense but serene."

Each of the victims met with the Pope individually and then they prayed as a group in the encounter which lasted a total of 20 minutes.

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At outdoor Mass, Pope exhorts Maltese to share their faith with the world

Valletta, Malta, Apr 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Our relationship with God provides “the key to our happiness and our human fulfillment," Pope Benedict XVI said at Mass on Sunday. Noting that nothing can take God's place, he urged the people of Malta not to be tempted by the influences of the world but to pass on their inheritance of faith to their children and all visitors.

The Granaries Square in Floriana was the scene for the Sunday morning Mass. The capacity of the square is 10,000 people, but some media reports estimated the crowd at 40,000.

Praising the Maltese for their ability throughout history to discern and accept the best things foreigners had to offer, he urged them to continue to exercise their great discernment as "not everything that today's world proposes is worthy of acceptance by the people of Malta."

"Many voices try to persuade us to put aside our faith in God and His Church, and to choose for ourselves the values and beliefs by which to live. They tell us we have no need of God or the Church," the Pope noted.

"If we are tempted to believe them, we should recall the incident in today's Gospel," he said, "...left to themselves, their efforts were fruitless; when Jesus stood alongside them, they netted a huge quantity of fish.

"My dear brothers and sisters, if we place our trust in the Lord and follow his teachings, we will always reap immense rewards."

Recalling the reading from Acts in which St. Paul urges trust in the Lord amidst the storm that would leave the crew shipwrecked on Malta 1,950 years ago, Pope Benedict said: "We too must place our trust in Him alone."

Although we might be tempted to think that technology can appease our needs and protect us from danger, "it is not so," he stated.

"At every moment of our lives we depend entirely on God, in Whom we live and move and have our being.

"Only He can protect us from harm, only He can guide us through the storms of life, only He can bring us to a safe haven, as He did for Paul and his companions adrift off the coast of Malta," taught the Holy Father.

"It is our relationship with the Lord that provides the key to our happiness and our human fulfillment", he continued, adding that the relationships of love to which the Lord calls us "must inform every aspect of our preaching and teaching, our celebration of the Sacraments, and our care for the people of God.”

He emphasized that we are moved by the Lord's love to love others and "to accept gladly the task of communicating His love to those we serve."

"In every area of our lives we need the help of God's grace," said the Holy Father. "With Him, we can do all things: without Him we can do nothing."

He encouraged the population to continue to transmit their inheritance from St. Paul of faith and values to their children and all visitors to the island. This gift, he explained, "needs to be shared with others, it needs to be articulated."

In conclusion, Pope Benedict urged the population to remember the example of their first canonized saint, Fr. Dun Gorg Preca, in being aware that the "exchange of goods" between Malta and the rest of the world is "a two-way process."

"What you receive, evaluate with care, and what you have that is of value, be sure to share with others," he said.

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Pray to Virgin Mary as ‘Queen of the Family,’ Pope Benedict tells Malta

Valletta, Malta, Apr 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Together with the faithful in Floriana's Granaries Square, the Holy Father prayed the Regina Coeli in Malta on Sunday. Before the recitation of the Marian prayer with thousands of Maltese on Sunday, he acknowledged Malta’s particular devotion to Mary and presented a special gift to Our Lady of Ta' Pinu.

The prayer took place just after Sunday morning Mass celebrated in the same square, the largest on the island. For the celebration, a painting of the Virgin was brought to the square from the island of Gozo for the occasion from the Shrine of Our Lady of Ta' Pinu.

Recalling the Maltese tradition of trust in the Blessed Virgin Mary for protection and prayer intentions, the Holy Father recognized the "great fervor" with which the people of Malta express their devotion to the virgin.

Pope Benedict XVI said he was "pleased" to be able to pray before her image and presented her with a Golden Rose "as a sign of our shared filial affection for the Mother of God."

He asked that she be prayed to as "Queen of the Family," a title introduced by Pope John Paul II to the Litany of Loreto.

Benedict XVI used the occasion to express his gratitude to the people for everything, especially their strong devotion and prayers.

Following the Regina Coeli prayer, the Holy Father made a special Italian-language greeting to pilgrims from that country, asking that St. Paul be for them an example of “solid and courageous faith ...in all adversities."

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