Archive of May 12, 2010

Hundreds join KC bishops in witness for life

Kansas City, Kan., May 12, 2010 (CNA) - For the third year in a row, Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann and Kansas City – St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn joined hundreds in praying the Rosary outside the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Overland Park, Kansas. About 400 people prayed all 20 Mysteries of the Rosary led by the two bishops on May 8.

The Mother’s Day weekend Rosary began in 2008 and is sponsored by Lifefront. One goals of the organization is to recruit enough people to make a prayerful witness during each hour the Planned Parenthood facility is open for abortions. The annual Rosary is an important tool in that recruiting effort. This year saw more than 100 additional participants over last.

New to this year’s event, a specific prayer for the closing of the clinic was recited after the Rosary. Lifefront organizers distributed the prayer on cards and encourage its recitation at home:


Father, all life is in Your care.
You have entrusted us to one another,
that we may show our brothers and sisters
The same love You have for us.

We pray, then, for the least among us,
The children in the womb.
Protect them from the violence of abortion.
We pray for those that are scheduled to die
at Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, Kansas.
Save them from death.

Give new hope to their parents,
That they may turn away
From the desperate act of abortion.
Grant conversion to the abortionist
And to the staff.

Show us how we are to respond
To the bloodshed in our midst,
And lead us to the day when this place of death
Will be transformed into a haven of life.

Guard us with your joy and your peace.
For in you, life is victorious.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Printed with permission from the Catholic Key, newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph.

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Cardinal O'Brien shares hopes for upcoming UK papal visit

Edinburgh, United Kingdom, May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an exclusive interview with CNA, Cardinal Keith O'Brien discussed hopes and plans for the Pope's upcoming trip to the United Kingdom, highlighting a recent visit he had with Susan Boyle and saying  “it is hoped” that she will perform for the Holy Father during his stay.

The Scottish prelate also spoke about the Church's preparations for the papal visit, specifically plans involving the country's youth.

Addressing reports that Susan Boyle will sing for the Pope in Scotland, Cardinal O'Brien recalled a recent visit he had with the pop culture sensation. “Susan was with me in my home on Monday when, on behalf of a Padre Pio Prayer Group in Las Vegas, USA, she was presented with a very beautiful rosary with fifty beads, each from a different person and giving a different story.”

“It is hoped that Susan will, indeed, be singing at Bellahouston Park when the Pope is there – incidentally, she sang 'Ave Maria' after we prayed the Rosary here in the Chapel in my own home,” he added.

When asked what initiatives have taken place within parishes to prepare for the visit, Cardinal O'Brien referenced a recently developed fundraising effort throughout dioceses in the U.K to finance the papal trip.

“The Programme for our preparation of our faithful for the Pope’s visit is now beginning,” he explained “Initially, this will be by a reminder collection, with a covering letter indicating that things are now getting under way and much has to be done.”

“A booklet has been prepared, in collaboration with the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, which will be issued throughout our countries – almost half a million of them. The booklet gives both the basics of major questions of our faith along with the reasons for the Papal Visit and its Programme.”

“In particular with regard to certain issues,” he noted, “mention will be made of problems facing us at this present time, especially with regard to our help for the survivors of sexual abuse.”

CNA asked the cardinal if the youth within Scotland are preparing specifically for the apostolic visit, to which he replied, “there is a group representing every Diocese," through the initiative, “Catholic Youth Service Scotland.'”

“They are being involved not only in the Liturgies but in various other ways on the different days of the Pope’s visit,” he added.“It is hoped that a Scottish Youth Cross in eight parts, with eight different woods from our eight different Dioceses, will be part of the Liturgy and blessed by the Pope at the major Mass in Scotland at Bellahouston Park.”

CNA also inquired as to whether or not the cardinal will be present for the Pope's beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, one the of many events slated for the upcoming papal visit.

“As the only 'active' cardinal in charge of a Diocese in England, Wales and Scotland at this present time, I shall not only be attending the Beatification Ceremony of Cardinal Newman but I shall be part of the Papal entourage at all of the events during the Pope’s stay,” said the prelate.

“Incidentally, also, after the Official Reception by Her Majesty the Queen and the Government in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, the Pope will travel here to my own home for lunch and rest with his immediate entourage, before we travel on to Glasgow for the Mass in Bellahouston Park and then the Pope’s flight to London.”

Cardinal O'Brien also spoke on the new dicastery announced recently by the Vatican which aims to bring the Gospel back to Western societies that have lost their Christian identity. The cardinal said he  is “delighted” at the prospect of the new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

“I think, however, that it should not just promote the Christian roots of Europe but should promote the Christian roots wherever the faith has already been sown, either for a shorter time or a longer time,” he added. “Consequently, the roots of the two hundred year old approximately faith in the United States of America could also be helped to re-evangelize.”

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Five Denver men overjoyed as priestly ordinations approach

Denver, Colo., May 12, 2010 (CNA) - Although the image of the Catholic priest has been tarnished lately by the sex abuse scandal, the Archdiocese of Denver has announced that it will ordain five men to the priesthood, all of whom say they are joyful at having the chance to live a life “in intimacy with Christ at the service of the Church.”

At the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, five men will be ordained to the priesthood on Saturday, May 15. Each shared a brief explanation as to why, amid Church scandal and scathing media attacks, they have chosen to commit themselves to a life of celibacy and obedience.

David Nix, 31, remembers working as a paramedic at the age of 19. While attending Mass in uniform one day before his shift, he recalled the parish priest yelling after him, “Have fun saving bodies while I save souls!” From that moment on, said Nix, his heart was stirred. His hope is to model his priesthood after historical Church fathers like St. Paul.

“They not only became loving men, but were transformed into Love itself – into the face of Jesus – by clinging to Christ with an undivided heart in prayer,” Nix said.

Michael Rapp, now 27, heard the call to the priesthood when he was 17.  “I was interested in the life and writings of Pope John Paul II, and very concerned about the tragic events at Columbine High School,” he recalled. Rapp explained that God used these “events and desires to move me towards the priesthood.” Later one-on-one talks with Archbishop Charles Chaput further confirmed his decision.

“People are hungry for God,” Rapp asserted. “If I wear a collar out on the street, people will regularly meet me with curious glances, questions about the Church or about God, challenges and resentments, requests for prayers, and other countless surprises. It’s part of the great adventure of priesthood!”

Matthew Book, 36, was enjoying a budding career as a mechanical engineer when he experienced several meaningful encounters with priests. After spending a year in Bolivia teaching the poor, where he felt the “joy of service and giving (his) life back to Christ,” Book entered the seminary. When asked what he is most thrilled about in becoming a priest, Book said being a “shepherd – someone entrusted with guiding people to Christ through teaching, witness and the sacraments.”

John Green, 33, said he first felt drawn to becoming a priest when he was 10 years old. Though his family stopped attending church, Green said the call was renewed when he was 20, after “seeing the parish priest and the joy he experienced when celebrating the Mass.”

“I am just looking forward to helping people,” he added. “I hope to be available to people as much as possible.”

A native of Barcelona, Spain, 49-year-old Jose Maria Quera was an architect before entering studies for the priesthood. After a “reopening to the word of God,” Quera became convinced that he was called to “a life of intimacy with Christ as the service of the Church.”

Speaking on the call to celibacy, Quera said, “I am choosing this life because I believe that the one who has chosen me to live this way is God, and since it is God who calls me to live this life, He will also make this life possible in me.”

“He knows the best way for me to be fulfilled.”

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Ahead of World Cup, Catholic archbishop condemns human trafficking

Pretoria, South Africa, May 12, 2010 (CNA) - On the eve of the World Cup on Saturday about 1,000 people gathered in Pretoria to pray for an end to human trafficking. The Catholic Archbishop of Johannesburg said trafficking was a “degrading form of modern slavery” which Christians should oppose.

Among the invited guests were Advocate Malebo Kotu-Rammopo from the National Prosecution Authority and Colin Wrafter, who is the Ambassador of Ireland to South Africa.

Archbishop of Johannesburg Buti Tlhagale called on the South African government to root out “this form of corruption and slavery” in his homily at a Mass to pray for an end to trafficking. He said politicians’ neglect of such violence “strongly suggests complicity.”

An estimated 40,000 sex workers and prostitutes will be imported to South Africa during the World Cup, the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) reports.

While the World Cup was “highly admirable in itself,” Archbishop Tlhagale said in his homily, the event can bring out “the worst” in some human beings.

“Men and women without integrity, see an opportunity to make a fortune by selling children and women for sexual pleasures of men who probably care less about the games themselves.”

“Human Trafficking is intrinsically evil,” the archbishop declared. “What kind of civilization permits the destruction of life in the womb, imports millions of condoms from Civilized Britain for the world Cup event? …What kind of a civilization can tolerate forcing children and women into selling sex? If this is a civilization at all, then it is a decadent civilization.”

The prelate charged that the government has not lived up to its slogan “People First,” because not the vulnerable but politicians and dignitaries come first in the country.

“It is sheer hypocrisy to claim to protect all people and yet only a few enjoy exceptional protection,” he added. “The nobility of a society will be judged by how it protects its vulnerable children and women, instead of displaying its security machinery for the world to see by protecting the elite.”

“We each have a responsibility to resist and to campaign tirelessly against such evil practices," he continued, calling on Christians to combat “this dangerous and degrading form of modern slavery.”

A bill to prosecute perpetrators of trafficking and to assist its victims has been discussed in South Africa for many years.

At the end of the Mass, Advocate Malebo spoke on behalf of the government, reporting that the bill was being discussed. He expressed hope that the passage of the bill would be the last phase.

Sr. Melanie O’Connor, coordinator of the Counter Trafficking in Persons Office of the SACBC also warned parents against leaving children unprotected in shopping malls, on playgrounds and in other venues.

She informed the congregation that South Africa is recognized as a “hot spot” for human trafficking, adding that women recruiters are becoming more prominent.

While for two years the SACBC has advanced awareness efforts to try to protect potential victims of trafficking, this year its message is being spread widely.

"But there is still a lot to do," Sr. O'Connor commented, noting that Pope Benedict XVI has declared May a month of prayer against human trafficking.

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Mojave Desert Cross torn down by vandals after surviving court challenge

Los Angeles, Calif., May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The 76-year-old Mojave Desert Cross, a veterans’ memorial which survived a federal court order to remove it from the Mojave National Preserve, was torn down by vandals on Sunday night. Veterans’ groups decried the “disgraceful” vandalism and offered a $25,000 reward for the perpetrators’ capture.

According to the Mojave National Preserve, National Park Service staff reported the cross missing on Monday morning after they went to the site.

Before a Supreme Court ruling in April, the cross had been covered with a plywood box in obedience to a lower court’s order. The U.S. high court ruled that lower courts did not take sufficient notice of the government’s decision to transfer the land to private ownership, adding that federal judges went too far in ordering the removal of a congressionally endorsed war memorial.

A former National Park Service employee, Frank Buono, sued to have the cross removed or covered after the proposed erection of a Buddhist memorial nearby was not approved.

Thomas J. Tradewell, Sr., National Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), commenting in a statement, pledged that the memorial will be rebuilt and that the vandals will be caught and prosecuted in federal court.

"This was a legal fight that a vandal just made personal to 50 million veterans, military personnel and their families," he added. "To think anyone can rationalize the desecration of a war memorial is sickening, and for them to believe they won't be apprehended is very naive.”

Tradewell expressed hope that the vandalism will highlight the importance of resolving the case quickly so that the memorial land can be transferred to the VFW.

American Legion National Commander Clarence E. Hill said in a statement that the dispute about the Mojave Desert Cross was never about one cross but was about “the right to honor our nation's veterans in a manner in which the overwhelming majority supports.”

Reports of the cross’ removal were “very disturbing,” he continued.

"The American Legion expects whoever is responsible for this vile act to be brought to justice. While the memorial has been attacked, the fight will continue to ensure that veterans’ memorials will remain sacrosanct."

The Liberty Institute, which represents the VFW, the American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the American Ex-Prisoners of War, has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandal or vandals.

Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of Liberty Institute, said the vandalism was an “outrage” akin to desecrating graves.

"It's a disgraceful act on the selfless act of our veterans. We will not rest until this memorial is re-installed," Shackelford insisted.

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Lafayette Catholics receive new bishop from Pope Benedict

Washington D.C., May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Timothy Doherty as bishop of the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana on Wednesday, while simultaneously accepting the resignation of the current bishop of the diocese.

Bishop-elect Doherty, 59, will succeed Bishop William Higi, who is retiring at the age of 76. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced the appointment in Washington D.C. on May 12.

Msgr. Doherty was born in 1950 in Rockford, Illinois. After attending St. Mary's Minor Seminary in Illinois and then St. Ambrose College in Iowa, he went to Rome, studying at Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Lateran University, where he eventually earned a licentiate in Sacred Theology.

He was ordained a priest in 1976 and earned a Ph.D. in Christian ethics in 1995. Msgr. Doherty primarily served in Catholic schools and parishes in the Illinois area, before becoming pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Dundee, Indiana, where he currently serves.

Bishop-elect Doherty will shepherd close to 100,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Lafayette.

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Church has mission of truth in increasingly secular society, Pope tells Portuguese

Lisbon, Portugal, May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - This morning in Lisbon, Pope Benedict emphasized the importance of truth and tradition to culture while speaking to a large gathering of cultural leaders. He presented the Church as a “champion” of tradition and her “mission of truth” as a need for modern societies.

After having celebrated Mass privately at the nunciature earlier on Wednesday morning, Pope Benedict XVI met with representatives of Portuguese culture, led by 101-year old movie maker Manoel de Oliveira, in the auditorium of the Cultural Center of Belem in Lisbon.

Oliveira began the encounter by offering remarks that highlighted the anxieties of the Portuguese people in the midst of the “turbulence” of the contemporary world. After the Portuguese film maker's observations, the Holy Father related that “today’s culture is permeated by a ‘tension,’ which at times takes the form of ‘conflict’ between the present and tradition.

“The dynamic movement of society gives absolute value to the present, isolating it from the cultural legacy of the past and without attempting to trace a path for the future,” he said.

Pope Benedict stressed that today's emphasis on the “present” as the source of meaning in life clashes with Portugal’s strong cultural tradition, which, he noted, has been deeply marked for 1,000 years by Christianity and a sense of global responsibility.

In this context, he went on, “The Church appears as the champion of a healthy and lofty tradition, whose rich contribution she sets at the service of society.” But, he continued, while society respects and appreciates her service to the common good, it “distances itself from that ‘wisdom’ which is part of her legacy.”

The conflict between tradition and the present, observed the Pope, “finds expression in the crisis of truth, yet only truth can provide direction and trace the path of a fulfilled existence both for individuals and for a a people.”

The nation that ceases to know its own truth, he underlined, “ends up lost in the maze of time and history, deprived of clearly defined values and lacking great and clearly formulated goals.”

The Pope also said that there is still much to learn about the Church's place in society, because it helps people to understand that its proclamation of truth is a service that opens up "new horizons for the future, horizons of grandeur and dignity.”

In effect, he said, the Church has "a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation." This mission, based on fidelity to man and truth, is "something that the Church can never renounce," he underscored.

Reflecting on contemporary Portuguese society, the Pope said, “For a society made up mainly of Catholics, and whose culture has been profoundly marked by Christianity, the search for truth apart from Christ proves dramatic.”

Noting that Christians believe that Christ himself is the truth, the Holy Father explained that the work to spread the Gospel is ongoing, and the Church, "in her adherence to the eternal character of truth, is in the process of learning how to live with respect for other ‘truths’ and for the truth of others. Through this respect, open to dialogue, new doors can be opened to the transmission of truth."

Speaking to journalists on the papal plane on the way to Lisbon on Tuesday, the Holy Father commented on the need for a dialogue leading to an integration of faith and modern rationality in Europe. He said that "the great challenge of the current time" is for secularism and the culture of faith "to meet and thus discover their true identity."

This, he said, "is a mission for Europe and the (great) human need of our own history."

To the cultural leaders in Lisbon he underscored that “Ours is a time that requires the best of our efforts, prophetic courage, and renewed capacity to ‘point out new worlds to the world,’” quoting Portuguese national poet, Luigi di Camoes.

Concluding his remarks to the Portuguese cultural leaders, he said that the Church knows that “her most important mission in today’s culture is to keep alive the search for truth, and consequently for God; to bring people to look beyond penultimate realities and to seek those that are ultimate.”

He invited the cultural leaders of Portugal to deepen their knowledge of God “as he has revealed himself Jesus Christ for our complete fulfilment.

“Produce beautiful things,” he encouraged them, “but above all make your lives become places of beauty.”

The Pope's words, met with a standing ovation, came on the second morning of his four-day Apostolic Journey to Portugal. The high point of the trip will be his visit to the Marian shrine of Fatima, where he will arrive by helicopter on Wednesday afternoon. His meeting with Portuguese cultural leaders was followed by an audience with the nation's prime minister Jose Socrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa.

To read the full speech Pope Benedict gave to cultural leaders, click here.

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Portuguese soccer champions present Benedict XVI with team jersey

Lisbon, Portugal, May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Prior to Mass in Lisbon on Tuesday, the current champions of the Portugal's soccer league gave Pope Benedict the team's jersey with the name “Bento” and the number 16 printed on the back.

In an interview with Agencia Ecclesia, the Portuguese bishops' news agency, the team's captain, Nuno Gomes remarked that he was filled "with great emotion and pride" during the celebration in Lisbon. "The Catholic soccer players are very pleased with the visit of Benedict XVI to Portugal.”

In addition to the soccer team, volunteers for World Youth Day 2011 lined the streets of Lisbon for the Pope’s visit.

Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who attended the Mass, called the Holy Father’s trip to the country “extraordinarily important.”

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Bolivian president to meet with Benedict XVI on May 17

La Paz, Bolivia, May 12, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - President of Bolivia, Evo Morales will meet with Pope Benedict at the Vatican on May 17, confirmed Bolivia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, David Choquehuanca.

The meeting will be part of the Bolivian president's visit to several European countries including Spain, Norway and Finland.  He plans to attend the Summit of Latin American, Caribbean and EU presidents in Madrid on May 18, before visiting Norway on May 20 and Finland on May 21.

Choquehuanca said that during Morales' visit with the Pope, as well as with the presidents, he would address climate change, which he considers to be “the most important issue of the day,” reports ABI news agency.

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Mary crowned with 'bullet' of our sufferings, Benedict XVI says in Fatima

Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - "It is a profound consolation to know that you are crowned not only with the silver and gold of our joys and hopes, but also with the 'bullet' of our anxieties and sufferings," said the Holy Father in Fatima on Wednesday evening. In prayer before Mary in the Chapel of Apparitions at the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, the Pope entrusted all people to Our Lady and gave thanks for all prayers for him.

Having bid farewell to those at the Apostolic Nunciature in Lisbon on Wednesday afternoon, Pope Benedict boarded a helicopter for Fatima, almost 90 miles to the north. He was welcomed on arrival by Bishop of Leiria-Fatima Antonio Augusto dos Santos Marto, the city's mayor and other government authorities.

From the landing pad he traveled by motorcade to the Chapel of Apparitions at the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, where he was met by Fr. Virgílio do Nascimento Antunes, rector of the shrine. After praying before the image of Our Lady privately, the Holy Father prayed aloud, accompanied at intervals by cantors and the assembly.

He addressed Our Lady directly, saying that he came before her "as a son visiting his Mother" and "in company with a multitude of brothers and sisters."

As the Successor of Peter and representative of the Church, he presented to her Immaculate Heart "the joys and hopes as well as the problems and sufferings of each one of these sons and daughters of yours."

Recalling her relationship and "maternal benevolence" for all people, he entrusted and consecrated all to "Mary Most Holy, Mother of God and our Mother."

Pope Benedict XVI then remembered how when John Paul II visited the shrine he offered Mary one of the bullets that struck him in the 1981 assassination attempt.

Venerable John Paul II was hit by four bullets fired at him by Mehmet Ali Agca of Turkey on May 13, 1981 in St. Peter's Square. Agca, who was later forgiven in jail by the Pontiff, reportedly requested permission from the Portuguese government to be in Fatima for Pope Benedict XVI's celebrations this week. The request was evidently not granted.

Recalling that the bullet brought by John Paul II was placed in Our Lady's crown, Benedict XVI said, "it is a profound consolation to know that you are crowned not only with the silver and gold of our joys and hopes, but also with the 'bullet' of our anxieties and sufferings."

He went on to thank her for the Marian-inspired sentiments that led the shepherd-children to pray for the Pope. In addition, he expressed his gratitude to all who remember the Pope and his intentions in their prayers, asking "that the Pope may be strong in faith, bold in hope and zealous in love."

Pope Benedict concluded his prayer in the Chapel of Apparitions by presenting Mary with a golden rose, "as a homage of gratitude from the Pope for the marvels that the Almighty has worked through you in the hearts of so many who come as pilgrims to this your maternal home."

He closed by saying that he was sure that Blessed Francisco and Jacinta, the shepherd-children of Fatima, joined them in "this hour of prayer and jubilation."

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Vatican II laid foundation for authentic renewal, declares Pope Benedict

Lisbon, Portugal, May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In Portugal on Wednesday, the Holy Father highlighted the importance of the Second Vatican Council in bringing the Church into contact with the world. The foundation for Catholic renewal and a "civilization of love" were laid through it, he said.

Speaking with the cultural leaders of Portugal at the Cultural Center of Belem, in Lisbon, Pope Benedict emphasized the importance of the Church's role in keeping the search for truth alive in the world. He highlighted the need for Church and society to engage in respectful and unambiguous dialogue for the good of humankind.

Proposing a concrete example of the Church's attempts to enter into dialogue with the world, Pope Benedict referred to the Second Vatican Council, which he said, citing the words of Pope John XXIII, was convened "precisely so as 'to place the modern world in contact with the life-giving and perennial energies of the Gospel.'”

"There," he continued, "the Church, on the basis of a renewed awareness of the Catholic tradition, took seriously and discerned, transformed and overcame the fundamental critiques that gave rise to the modern world, the Reformation and the Enlightenment."

He explained that it was through the Council that "the Church herself accepted and refashioned the best of the requirements of modernity by transcending them on the one hand, and on the other by avoiding their errors and dead ends."

The Second Vatican Council, which took place in four autumn sessions from 1962-1965 in Rome, was called by Pope John XXIII to examine the Church in the modern era and establish changes to meet the challenges presented by society.

The Holy Father closed his remarks on the council, saying, it "laid the foundation for an authentic Catholic renewal and for a new civilization - 'the civilization of love' - as an evangelical service to man and society."

To read the full speech Pope Benedict gave to cultural leaders, click here.

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Colombian doctor suspended for not performing abortion on minor

Bogotá, Colombia, May 12, 2010 (CNA) - Colombia’s Attorney General, Alejandro Ordonez Maldonado, recently called on the country’s Constitutional Court to protect the fundamental rights of Dr. German Arango Rojas, who was suspended for refusing to perform an abortion on a minor with a disability despite the demands of her parents.

Maldonado warned that the doctor’s fundamental rights to fair justice, equality and due process were violated.  After Rojas refused to perform the abortion, the National Medical Ethics Tribunal suspended him and ordered him to pay damages to the girl's family.

Colombia’s Public Ministry announced it has taken measures to protect the fundamental rights of the girl and her child who has since been adopted.

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Dissidents challenge Cuban government to publish Varela Project

Havana, Cuba, May 12, 2010 (CNA) - The director of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, challenged the Castro regime to publish the Varela Project and “to publicly commit itself to respecting the right spelled out in article 88 of the Constitution that allows citizens to exercise this legal initiative.”

According to the Cuban Constitution which is supposedly recognized by the Castro government, if citizens present a petition with 10,000 signatures calling for a referendum, it must be put to a vote.  However, since 2002 the Varela Project has collected more than 25,000 signatures, but there has been no response from the government.

The Varela Project is calling for democratic changes in country’s laws through a referendum.

“Because the Varela Project flourished, the Cuban government imprisoned 75 Cubans in March of 2003.  Dozens of them remain in prison.  That is the truth even though many wish to hide it.  It’s like denying the reason for being of these prisoners of conscience,” Paya said.

Paya demanded the release of all prisoners of conscience and asserted that the Varela Project remains relevant because “it continues to make history, and it will open the door to peaceful changes, to a different life that all Cubans long for.”

He denounced efforts to stop the initiative through imprisonment and repression and said that despite tactics by those in power to discourage participation, the Varela Project will move forward.  Such efforts reveal “a fatal alliance against the freedom and hope of Cuba,” he added.

Paya warned that to say that Cubans are able exercise their rights is a great lie and is humiliating for the people, who know they are not free.  This lack of freedom means that the majority live “in poverty and with no opportunities.”

“Cuba needs changes, the people want changes, but these changes are wrongly defined. Changes mean freedom and rights.  Thus the first step that is just in and of itself, the step that can no longer be delayed, is the release of all those imprisoned for political reasons,” Paya said.

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Rep. who supported health care bill loses primary following pro-life initiative

Washington D.C., May 12, 2010 (CNA) -

After a campaign run by a pro-life activist group that targeted pro-life members of congress who supported the health care reform bill, a West Virginia representative lost his recent primary election.

In the state's primary election in West Virginia on May 11, Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.V.) lost to his competitor, state Sen. Mike Oliverio. Congressman Mollohan's district was targeted by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List campaign after he voted in support of President Barack Obama's health care reform initiative in March.

“Just as Bart Stupak did, Congressman Mollohan now fully realizes that votes do have consequences,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, SBA List president on Tuesday. “Mollohan's loss comes as a direct result of his vote for healthcare reform that included federal funding of abortion.”

“We promised Rep. Mollohan and the other 'pro-life' Democrats that we would make their re-election incredibly painful if they voted 'yes' on the healthcare bill,” she added. “Tonight, the Susan B. Anthony List followed through on that promise, and Rep. Mollohan is the second member of that coalition to see those consequences.”

SBA List spent a reported $78,000 in Rep. Mollohan's West Virginia district informing voters of the congressman's record through television and radio ads as well as robo-calls. This latest effort is part of a $1 million initiative that will move to other districts in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, targeting self-described “pro-life” democrats who endorsed the Senate health care bill.

“This should be just another sign to 'pro-life' Democrats that voted for the healthcare bill that they will face the same consequences as Stupak and Mollohan,” Dannenfelser asserted.

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Making God visible is highest priority today, Pope says at vigil

Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - We must not be afraid to share our faith, said Pope Benedict XVI from the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima on Wednesday evening. The "highest priority" today is to make God present in the world lest his light be "snuffed out forever."

The Pope was joined by thousands of candle-bearing faithful for the traditional prayer vigil before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Fatima, celebrated every May 13. He blessed the candles for the procession and recited the Rosary with the people.

Speaking about the crowd of pilgrims, the Pope said that seeing so many people with candles reminded him of "a sea of light" around the Chapel of Apparitions, "lovingly built to the honor of the Mother of God and our mother, whose path from earth to heaven appeared to the shepherd children like a way of light."

At the same time, the light is neither ours nor of Mary, Benedict observed, saying that "we receive it from Jesus.”

"His presence within us renews the mystery and the call of the burning bush which once drew Moses on Mount Sinai and still fascinates those aware of the light within us which burns without consuming us."

Further developing the image of the burning bush, the Holy Father said, "we are merely a bush, but one upon which the glory of God has now come down. To him therefore be every glory, and to us the humble confession of our nothingness and the unworthy adoration of the divine plan..."

The Pope then went on to recount the story of Moses who guided his people to freedom in the promised land. He said, this was not about the possession of land or a national territory "to which every people has a right," rather, at the center of Moses' struggle for the freedom of Israel is “above all the freedom to worship, the freedom of a religion of one’s own.”

"Throughout the history of the chosen people, the promise of a homeland comes more and more to mean this: the land is granted in order to be a place of obedience, a window open to God."

These days, said the Holy Father, in places where it seems as though the faith is like "a light in danger of being snuffed out forever, the highest priority is to make God visible in the world and to open to humanity a way to God." This doesn't refer to just any god, he said, but to the God whose love was shown in the crucified and risen Christ.

The Pope implored the faithful not to be afraid to show the faith or speak of God.

Reminded of how the shepherd-children entrusted themselves to Mary's influence and the many times we have been urged to pray the Rosary, the Pope then invited Catholics to allow themselves “to be attracted by the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of Mary’s Rosary."

Reciting the Rosary, he explained, turns our eyes and hearts to Jesus. When Catholics meditate on the mysteries the Rosary, he said, "let us reflect upon the interior mystery of Jesus ... let us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope."

Grace, he continued, will thus fill our hearts and lead us to say as St. Paul did, “For me to live is Christ.”

Laying the worries and hopes of our times at the feet of the Virgin Mary, the Pope asked for her intercession that all peoples, Christians and non-Christians, "may live in peace and harmony" and be united as "the one people of God, to the glory of the most holy and indivisible Trinity."

Following the prayer, the Holy Father returned to the House of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, while Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone celebrated the Vigil Mass before the Solemnity of Our Lady of Fatima.

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Benedict XVI exhorts priests to be faithful to Catholic Church

Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Drawing inspiration from the Year for Priests, the Pope emphasized the importance of new vocations and fidelity to one's vocation in his homily at the celebration of Vespers in Fatima. The Church, he said, has a mission to bring men and women to Christ and "we are responsible for proclaiming the faith, the whole faith, with all its demands."

The Holy Father presided over Vespers with priests, religious brothers and sisters, seminarians, deacons and representatives of lay ministries and ecclesial movements at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Fatima on Wednesday evening.

During the homily, Pope Benedict expressed recognition and appreciation for all people who have given their lives to Christ, in particular for their fidelity to the Gospel and the Church, as well as their witness, "often silent and certainly not easy."

The greatest concern of every Christian, he continued, "especially of every consecrated person or minister of the altar, must be fidelity, loyalty to one’s own vocation, as a disciple who wishes to follow the Lord.

"Faithfulness over time is the name of love, of a consistent, true and profound love for Christ the Priest."

Using the words of John Paul II, the Holy Father said that because we truly enter into the holiness of God through baptism and receive his spirit, "it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalistic ethic and a shallow religiosity."

He then recalled the Year for Priests, which will conclude on June 11, asking that abundant grace be given to priests that they "may live joyfully (their) consecration and bear witness to (their) priestly fidelity grounded in the fidelity of Christ."

Benedict XVI added later that fidelity to one's vocation requires courage and trust and should be assisted by fraternal concern and support, through prayer and action.

The Pope also pointed to the exemplary lives and spirituality of consecrated men and women as a much needed witness in the world today, where many people live "as if there were nothing beyond this life, and without concern for their eternal salvation.

"Men and women are called to know and love God, and the Church has the mission to assist them in this calling. We know well that God is the master of his gifts and that conversion is a grace. But we are responsible for proclaiming the faith, the whole faith, with all its demands," he reminded.

Pope Benedict also encouraged new vocations to the priesthood and asked those who have already taken the first step to "be conscious of the great responsibility which you will have to assume," being sure to examine their intentions and motivations carefully and devote themselves completely and generously to their training.

The Eucharist should be their "first love," said the Pope, adding that adoration, piety and care would lead them "one day to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Altar in an edifying and devout manner."

Asking for Mary's guidance, he said, "with her and like her, we are free so as to be saints; free so as to be poor, chaste and obedient ... free from self so that others may grow in Christ, the true Holy One of the Father and the Shepherd to whom priests, as his presence, lend their voice and their gestures; free to bring to today’s world Jesus who died and rose again, Jesus who remains with us until the end of time and who gives himself to all in the Most Holy Eucharist."

He concluded with a prayer for Mary's intercession that pastors may faithfully carry out the Father's will and that the Church be renewed by its holy priests.

The Holy Father went to the Our Lady of Carmel House after the celebration for dinner.

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Pope consecrates priests of the world to Immaculate Heart of Mary

Fatima, Portugal, May 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After praying Vespers this evening in Fatima, Pope Benedict XVIconsecrated the priests of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.In order to consecrate the more than 400,000 men, he prayed thefollowing prayer while adoring the Blessed Sacrament, and accompaniedby priests, religious and consecrated persons gathered at the Church ofHoly Trinity.

Consecration Prayer

ImmaculateMother, in this place of grace, called together by the love of your SonJesus the Eternal High Priest, we, sons in the Son and his priests,consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart, in order to carry outfaithfully the Father’s Will.  We are mindful that, without Jesus, wecan do nothing good (cf. Jn 15:5) and that only through him, with himand in him, will we be instruments of salvation for the world.

Brideof the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the inestimable gift oftransformation in Christ. Through the same power of the Spirit thatovershadowed you, making you the Mother of the Saviour, help us tobring Christ your Son to birth in ourselves too. May the Church be thusrenewed by priests who are holy, priests transfigured by the grace ofhim who makes all things new.

Mother of Mercy, it was your SonJesus who called us to become like him: light of the world and salt ofthe earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14). Help us, through your powerfulintercession, never to fall short of this sublime vocation, nor to giveway to our selfishness, to the allurements of the world and to thewiles of the Evil One. Preserve us with your purity, guard us with yourhumility and enfold us with your maternal love that is reflected in somany souls consecrated to you, who have become for us true spiritualmothers.

Mother of the Church, we priests want to be pastors whodo not feed themselves but rather give themselves to God for theirbrethren, finding their happiness in this. Not only with words, butwith our lives, we want to repeat humbly, day after day, Our "here Iam". Guided by you, we want to be Apostles of Divine Mercy, glad tocelebrate every day the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar and to offer tothose who request it the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Advocateand Mediatrix of grace, you who are fully immersed in the one universalmediation of Christ, invoke upon us, from God, a heart completelyrenewed that loves God with all its strength and serves mankind as youdid. Repeat to the Lord your efficacious word: "They have no wine" (Jn2:3), so that the Father and the Son will send upon us a new outpouringof the Holy Spirit.

Full of wonder and gratitude at yourcontinuing presence in our midst, in the name of all priests I too wantto cry out: "Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord shouldcome to me?" (Lk 1:43).

Our Mother for all time, do not tire of"visiting us", consoling us, sustaining us. Come to our aid and deliverus from every danger that threatens us. With this act of entrustmentand consecration, we wish to welcome you more deeply, more radically,for ever and totally into our human and priestly lives.

Let yourpresence cause new blooms to burst forth in the desert of ourloneliness, let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness, let itrestore calm after the tempest, so that all mankind shall see thesalvation of the Lord, who has the name and the face of Jesus, who isreflected in our hearts, for ever united to yours!

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