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Archive of April 29, 2010

Spanish cardinal calls Catholic teachers to be 'witnesses of evangelization'

Madrid, Spain, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA) - The prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, remarked this week that amidst the moral crisis of society, Catholic schools must be revolutionary.  He also encouraged teachers to not only educate their students, “but also be consistent witnesses of evangelization.”

According to the AVAN news agency, the cardinal warned that “the world needs a decisive change, without which it has no future,” since there is widespread moral breakdown and man has forgotten  God and lost “the meaning of life.”

“It is not possible to educate a society that allows abortion,” passes laws against the family or spreads on television “a vision of man that is totally contrary to the human person,” the cardinal continued.  “Nor is it possible to educate a social system that is unjust, with the rich ever more rich and the poor ever more poor.”

Cardinal Canizares also said the exaggerated number of educational systems in the country make a united vision of Spain impossible.

After noting the failure of the educational system to respond to the demands of education, the cardinal addressed Catholic teachers and reminded them they should not only teach but also be consistent witnesses of evangelization.

Catholic schools must contribute to “the synthesis between faith and reason,” without forgetting that “at the center of the Christian concept of the Catholic school is Jesus Christ and his message of salvation.”

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Catholic group starts fund to honor slain religious sister

Gallup, N.M., Apr 29, 2010 (CNA) - A Catholic organization recently announced a fund honoring the slain Sister Marguerite Bartz, who was murdered in New Mexico last year.

The Catholic Church Extension society said on Wednesday that they have initiated a fund in the late sister's name in order to promote women religious communities throughout the U.S. Adding to a preexisting fund, the group will pledge over $1.5 million to support the work of sisters in 33 dioceses across the country.

On Halloween night in 2009, Sister Bartz was murdered during a robbery in her home on the Navajo Reservation in Gallup, New Mexico. Nineteen year-old Reehahlio Carroll was charged shortly after with beating the sister to death after breaking into her home and searching for valuables.

“Sr. Marguerite’s life is an invitation to all of us to support the work of selfless women religious dedicated to doing God’s work in the world,” said Father Wall, president of Catholic Extension. “So many of us have wonderful memories of a sister who was a favorite teacher, a devoted nurse or community leader. This fund is for the women who are following in their footsteps.”

Contributions to the fund will be used in the U.S. mission dioceses, said the society, which are geographic regions where the needs are most pressing.

“Women religious have been and continue to be instrumental in developing innovative ways to serve the poor while nurturing faith – by their deep commitment to spreading God’s word and Christ’s presence,” added Joseph Boland, grants director for Catholic Extension. “While we have always financially supported their work and celebrated their remarkable selflessness, we now invite the public to contribute to a fund that will honor a beloved sister by continuing her legacy.”

For more information on the Sister Marguerite Bartz Fund, please visit: http://www.catholicextension.org/sisterbartzfund/

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Okla. ultrasound law is constitutional and ‘commonsense’ abortion regulation, backer says

Oklahoma City, Okla., Apr 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Women aren’t done any favors when the truth about abortion is hidden from them, says a backer of a new “commonsense” Oklahoma law that requires a doctor to give an ultrasound to a woman seeking an abortion. His comments come in response to a legal challenge from the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

The law passed on Tuesday after a bipartisan vote in the Oklahoma legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Brad Henry’s veto.

The law requires the doctor to show a woman the ultrasound image of her unborn baby and to describe the image in detail before performing an abortion.

In a Tuesday statement, the CRR argued that the requirement for an ultrasound “profoundly intrudes” on a patient’s privacy, calling it “the most extreme ultrasound law in the country.”

“The law forces a woman to hear information that she may not want to hear and that may not be relevant to her medical care,” the CRR continued, saying this alleged compulsion discounts “her abilities to make healthy decisions about her own life.”

The organization also claimed that the law interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.

Stephanie Toti, staff attorney in the U.S. Legal Program of the CRR, claimed that the law was “clearly unconstitutional” and detrimental to women. She also said a court fight would waste Oklahoma taxpayers’ money.

CNA spoke about the new law in a Wednesday interview with Tony Lauinger, state chairman of Oklahomans for Life.

He said the law is in fact constitutional, noting the “very clear” rulings of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The state has a right to ensure that a woman receives sufficient information to give fully informed consent,” Lauinger commented, adding that the law provides important information to a woman in advance of an “irrevocable, lethal act.”

“Many women suffer severe psychological and emotional trauma as a result of having had abortions,” he explained, contending that the law will “help empower women.”

Countering the claims of the CRR, Lauinger said the law does not intrude on a woman’s privacy or violate the doctor-patient relationship.

“We believe the description of the images on the ultrasound screen is a very logical and proper part of the informed consent process. A woman is entitled to the benefit of this information. A doctor is obliged to provide that information. The law doesn’t tell the doctor how to describe the images, but he is to describe what is depicted on the screen.”

To CRR’s claim that a court fight will waste taxpayer money, he replied:

“It is they who are filing the lawsuit. That charge makes no sense.”

Asked how the law will affect abortion doctors, Lauinger answered that abortion is “an assembly-line, mass-production type of process” that is “extremely impersonal” and has “virtually no interchange between the abortionist and the woman.”

“So this will provide much more beneficial information to a woman before she gets the abortion,” he explained.

If the doctor is the one explaining the images of the ultrasound screen, he noted, the law will actually increase the amount of contact between the doctors and the patient.

The law may also increase the amount of time a doctor spends explaining the consequences of abortion on her unborn child.

“The abortion industry tries to hide the truth from women about the baby in the womb. This law will help provide to the women a window on her womb.”

In Lauinger’s view, it is much better for a woman to have that knowledge before she takes the “irrevocable and lethal step of having her own child killed by abortion.” Otherwise, she could suffer “devastating results” when she sees an ultrasound on television or on a friend’s refrigerator and feels “powerless to undo the past.”

Asked to explain why legislators were so supportive of the law, he said Oklahoma has a “wonderful legislature” and “great elected officials” in the state House and Senate.

“The people of Oklahoma are pro-life, this issue is one with which our legislators are familiar.”

“They recognize the commonsense benefits of providing a woman all possible info prior to an abortion,” Lauinger explained. “Hopefully many unborn children will have their very lives spared.”

Legislators who did not support the bill are “overlooking some important factors,” he thought.

Abortion facilities routinely perform ultrasounds already, including the facility that has filed suit against such laws, he reported. “They acknowledged that they do an ultrasound before every abortion that they perform.

“What this bill does is require the abortion facility to turn the screen at an angle where the mother may view it. She can see it if she wants to look.

“Such a commonsense measure could save a lot of lives and spare a lot of women a lifetime of emotional and psychological anguish. We are disappointed that some might not vote for it, and very disappointed that the governor chose to veto it.

“We don’t do pregnant women any favors when we hide the truth from them,” Lauinger told CNA.

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Knights of Columbus wheelchair program to help Haitian quake victims

Port au Prince, Haiti, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus have begun distributing wheelchairs to more than 1,000 victims of the earthquake in Haiti, saying they will give “the gift of mobility” to those most in need.

The first distribution took place at the University of Miami / Medishare Hospital in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, a press release from the Knights reported. The Catholic fraternal order is working in partnership with the Global Wheelchair Mission and the HHS Foundation.

“Though time has dimmed the memory of the tragic earthquake in Haiti for many who live elsewhere, the physical suffering of those injured in the earthquake and here in Port-au-Prince continues in a very real way,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “We are grateful for the opportunity to give the gift of mobility to those who need it most, and who otherwise would be condemned to lives of isolation and hopelessness.”

“Today, I can think of no group more in need than those who lost everything – including their mobility – in this terrible tragedy,” he continued.

Anderson added that the Knights were founded in 1882 to help those most in need.

Wheelchair donations are among the Knights’ most well known charitable programs. In the past decade they have distributed thousands of wheelchairs in countries including Afghanistan, Mexico, Panama, Cuba and Jordan.

Veterans’ Administration medical centers around the U.S. have also been sites of distributions.

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Knights raised more than $500,000 for relief efforts.

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Scottish Church hopes to book Susan Boyle for Pope's visit

Glasgow, United Kingdom, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA) - Susan Boyle, the star singer discovered on the popular TV show Britain's Got Talent, may realize her dream of meeting Pope Benedict in September. The director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office (SCMO) told CNA that the local church is open to discussion on the possibility of her singing when the Pope visits later this year.

The Holy Father will be visiting the United Kingdom from Sept. 16-19. The itinerary for the first day of his visit includes events in Scotland, particularly a meeting in Edinburgh with Queen Elizabeth at her residence there.

Also on the agenda for the day is an outdoor Mass in Glasgow at which the Pope will preside and at which Susan Boyle could possibly sing.

SCMO referred to a statement from its director, Peter Kearney, in which he states, "We would be delighted if Susan were able to perform on the day and we hope to discuss this possibility with her soon."

Britain's Daily Mail reported on April 25 that the singer's performance had already been confirmed. But on Thursday, CNA spoke with Marie Devine of the SCMO who said that there is "no firm itinerary just now," and that the possibility of Susan Boyle singing will be discussed.

Scottish media had reported in March of this year that it was a dream for the singer to meet the Pope.

Her debut album "I Dreamed a Dream" quickly sold over a million copies after its release last Nov. 23 and sales have reportedly topped 10 million just five months later.

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Armenian Catholic patriarch hopes for internal renewal from Middle East Synod

Turin, Italy, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Speaking with CNA after the celebration of Mass in the presence of the Shroud in the Cathedral of Turin on Monday, the Patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church reflected on the value of the linen to the faith and expressed his hope for internal renewal from the upcoming Synod of Middle Eastern bishops.

After having taken part in meetings in Rome to prepare for October's Special Synod for the Middle East, Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX went on pilgrimage to Turin with 12 others. While at the Cathedral in Turin, the patriarch took a moment to speak with CNA.

Although he did not deliver a homily during the Mass, he told CNA afterward that the Shroud represents a "very eloquent testimony on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."

"If one has faith, just a little faith," said the head of Armenian Catholics, "he already believes it all, even though the Church still hasn't pronounced on it yet."

It is his hope, the patriarch said, "that the image of the Holy Shroud might always fortify and help us in the difficult moments of our lives to never lose the orientation that Jesus Christ has given us, which is to love our enemies, an impossible thing humanly but possible with the grace of the Holy Spirit."

Speaking about the preparations for the Synod of Middle Eastern Bishops, set to take place next October in Rome, the patriarch revealed that the third round of preparatory meetings was held from April 23-24 at the Holy See.

Explaining the scope of the synod in his own words, he said that it has "three windows": an “internal renewal" of the communion between the Catholic Churches, improving communion with non-Catholic Churches such as the Orthodox and Protestant Churches and providing "another opening" to the non-Christian world, particularly to the Islamic and Jewish faiths.

The Armenian Catholic patriarch said that he is eagerly anticipating the release of the synod's working document by Pope Benedict on June 5 in Cyprus. This document, he told CNA, was prepared last Friday and Saturday during meetings between patriarchs in the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

Reflecting on the individual expectations that the Armenian Church has for the synod, he explained that it seeks that same objectives as the other Churches involved. "We hope for an internal renewal, this is the most important (aspect). If there is no internal renewal, they are only beautiful words that don't give objective fruit for our life, for our Church."

He also said he hopes that through the work of the Holy Spirit, other Christian Churches would be guided to full communion with the Holy See.

The Armenian Catholic Church, centered in Beirut, Lebanon, has a presence all over the world. In the U.S. it has eight parishes that serve approximately 25,000 faithful.

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Legion director says he was unaware of founder's double life

Rome, Italy, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA) - The General Director of the Legion of Christ, Father Alvaro Corcuera, maintained this week that he had “no idea” and “no knowledge” of the double life led by the congregation’s founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel.  Fr. Corcuera added that though the revelations of late priest have been “painful,” the Legion must move forward and grow in virtue.

In an interview with the newspaper, “El Sol de Mexico,” Fr. Corcuera stated that the decisions made during the upcoming meeting between the apostolic visitors to the congregation and Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone would be “embraced with total obedience” by the Legion.

Asked about the skepticism of some over whether or not he was aware of Fr. Maciel’s double life, Fr.  Corcuera said it was “very understandable that this suspicion exists, but I can assure you I had no idea and had no knowledge of these facts. I understand this doubt, this question, exists, and that ours is a position of much responsibility.”

For the Legionaries of Christ, he continued, this entire situation “has been a particularly painful trial.” However, he continued, “I don’t think about what we have suffered, but rather about what others have suffered.  Now we must look forward and not turn our eyes from the facts.”

“I also think a lot about our brother Legionaries, about so many people who have profoundly suffered from this confusion … personally, sometimes I think I don’t have the right to think about how I am doing, but rather I must think about how others are and how to alleviate the sorrows of those who have and are continuing to suffer.”

He added, “It is also a time to strengthen our trust, which is not a virtue by which you wait and see what happens, but rather a virtue that makes you realistically accept the facts with sorrow, with sadness, but moving forward, improving and bringing life back to each one of us.”

Fr. Corcuera said he has followed the example of the Pope by meeting with various victims abused by Fr. Maciel, adding that the current crisis constitutes “an opportunity through which we have to purify ourselves and adopt a humble attitude.”

“What all the victims, what all the people have suffered pains us greatly,” he continued.  “We sincerely feel profound sadness. We wish to show them our closeness and support.”

He added that everyone in the congregation has been humbled and that the Legion must “carry out self-analysis, so that we might truly do what God wants us to do, what society expects of the congregation, in order to move forward and not be centered upon ourselves, but rather to simply follow the example of Christ in doing good, which is the mission we have.”

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Pope Benedict to preside over Legion meeting's first session

Vatican City, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the final meeting of the Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries of Christ tomorrow, before making his decision in the case that will determine the future of the congregation.

On Friday, the Pope will meet with the five bishops who have been in charge of investigating the Legion since July 15, 2009. The bishops, who hail from Europe and the Americas, will each have the chance to address the Pope directly and present a bottom line proposal before the meeting enters a session of open dialogue. Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will also be present at the meeting.

The five apostolic visitors are: 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.

Tomorrow’s visitation meeting will be comprised of two morning sessions and two afternoon sessions. In case an additional session is required, the visitors have all been asked to remain in Rome until Saturday afternoon, even though the day is a state holiday.

Pope Benedict is scheduled to preside over the first session, but he may choose to stay longer.

While Vatican Press Secretary Fr. Federico Lombardi has said that a statement will follow the meeting, no specific decisions will be made immediately. The Pope will issue his decision after reviewing and reflecting on the conclusions made in the reports.

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Holy Father urges end to war, education of youth in Congo

Vatican City, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Addressing the the new ambassador to the Holy See from the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday, Pope Benedict called for an end to war in the country. He also took the opportunity to invite national reconciliation, especially through the education of children.

As the Congo celebrates its 50th year of independence, Jean-Pierre Hamuli Mupenda presented the Pope with his credentials as the country's new ambassador to the Holy See on Thursday.

Referring to the "particularly difficult and tragic moments" in the country's recent history, the Holy Father stated that in the Congo the Catholic Church, "herself wounded in many of her members and structures," has the desire to contribute to the process of interior healing and fraternity.

Foundations for the implementation of initiatives regarding security, stability and development must be laid, he urged.

"Little by little, the badly-frayed fabric of society must be mended, helping the first natural form of society, which is the family, and consolidating interpersonal relations among Congolese people on the foundation of integral education, which is a source of peace and justice."

The Holy Father went on to invite public authorities to make every effort to end the war that continues to plague certain parts of the country. He them to instead for work towards social reconstruction with due respect for human rights.

"Peace is not just the absence of conflict, it is also a gift and a task that involves obligations for both citizens and the State," he added.

Pope Benedict's invitation was not limited to officials in the country, he also implored the international community, which he noted has been "involved in various degrees in the successive conflicts that have afflicted the Congo, to mobilize and make an effective contribution to reinstating peace and legality."

He repeated the bishops' recent declaration that this 50th year of independence be one of “grace, renewal and joy, a year of reconciliation to rebuild a Congo of solidarity, prosperity and unity."

Proposing education of the nation's youth as a solution to that effect, the Holy Father observed that the process must include inculcation "not only with knowledge that will be useful in adult life, but also with solid moral and spiritual bases that will help them to reject the temptation to violence and resentment, and to chose justice and truth instead."

He finished his remarks by expressing the Church's dedication to contributing to the government's commitment to education, lamenting the abuse of resources for the profit of some in spite of the poverty of others and hoping that a State-sponsored system of justice will help establish peace in the region.

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Assailants detonate bomb in Chilean Catholic church

Santiago, Chile, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Assailants detonated a bomb in the Chapel of Lourdes at the convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in the city of Temuco, Chile. The bomb exploded early on Tuesday morning causing damage to the chapel as well as a neighboring house.

Bishop Manuel Camilo Vial of Temuco went to the site to assess the damage and express his solidarity with the sisters. They reported that the bomb destroyed windows, doors and pews in the chapel and caused a fire that had to be extinguished by firefighters.

Bishop Vial lamented the incident and expressed his support to the sisters who operate a home for poor children and work with Mapuche women.

An economic assessment of the damage has not yet been completed, and local police are investigating the incident.

Fox News reports that a group, “Native Orchestral Chaos Three,” left pamphlets claiming responsibility for the bomb.

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Head of Italian Senate: Pope not afraid to 'face the wolves' in the Church

Rome, Italy, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father has "never been inert in the face of suffering and injustice," the President of the Italian Senate said as he reflected on the impact of the five years of Benedict XVI's time as Pope. The politician noted that the Pope has opted to "face the wolves" rather than avoid addressing difficulties such as cases of priests who sexually abuse minors.

The address from the leader of the Italian Senate, Renato Schifani, took place during a Wednesday evening presentation organized by the Congregation of the Children of the Immaculate Conception, which was themed "The world suffers for a lack of thought."

Likening the Holy Father to the "messenger" of the Gospel, the image of the pastor and the fisherman, Schifani said that "Benedict XVI really knows that loving means being ready to suffer, and as pastor he gives witness to (Him) who has truly made history with men."

The day after his election, noted Schifani, the Pope asked for prayers for strength to confront "the wolves."

Reflecting on the Pope's attitude since then, Schifani observed that, "Facing the hidden dangers, the betrayals, the scandals, the open and painful wounds of the Church, Benedict XVI doesn't flee out of fear before the wolves."

In the current climate, which sees "the dismay and the sense of betrayal that 'sinful and criminal acts' have produced in the whole world and all of the Church, Benedict XVI has expressed openly ... the shame and remorse that we all feel," the senator said.

The Pope has "condemned the silence of the 'mute dogs' of our time," has not limited himself merely to indignation at the suffering of victims of sexual abuse but has shared in their pain and has addressed the issue "without reserve and with strong words."

"Joseph Ratzinger has never been inert in the face of suffering and injustice, but is a pastor that doesn't leave 'survivors without an audience,'" never opting to remain indifferent or to take the easy way out, the senator said.

Amidst attempts to create a climate of "moral panic" in recent months, Schifani continued, the Pope has responded with "evangelical meekness," not responding to insults or taking vengeance, but only "entrusting himself to He who judges with justice."

Schifani added later that there will be a day in the future when "the free women and men of our time will be able to say of him, ' in the middle of that violent storm, he maintained trust and hope and transmitted them also to his travel companions. From that shipwreck ... was born a fervent and solid Christian community."

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Adoption by lesbian couple violated Brazilian law, say prosecutors

Brasilia, Brazil, Apr 29, 2010 (CNA) - In response to a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court allowing a lesbian couple to maintain custody of two adopted girls, the regional public prosecutor stated his opposition to the decision saying the couple constitutes “a de facto society,” thus the decision violates Brazilian law.

The public ministry announced its position after a unanimous ruling by the court that the emotional bond between the girls and the lesbian women is “undisputed.”

The court ruling struck down a request by the attorney general of Rio Grande do Sul to remove the girls from the custody of the women, who have had them in their care since 1998.

One of the two women adopted the girls when they were infants, and her companion, who has been living with her since then, asked the court to declare her the girls’ adoptive mother as well.  The regional public prosecutor appealed the decision as it said homosexual unions are a “de facto society,” and thus the adoption of children by such unions would violate Brazilian law.

The current law requires that a couple be legally married or be able to prove to the court they have a stable union.

Last December, the Brazilian government approved a plan for Congress to study the possibility of regulating same-sex unions.  The plan has been firmly opposed by Brazil’s bishops and by various pro-family institutions.

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