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Archive of May 17, 2010

Legionaries of Christ expect papal delegate to be named before summer's end

Rome, Italy, May 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The rector of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, Father Pedro Barrajon, said this week that he expects the Holy See to name a pontifical delegate for the Legionaries of Christ before the end of the summer.

Speaking to reporters, the Legionary priest said, “We are in a waiting period in which we have not been told anything yet, but I think the delegate will come before the end of the summer.”

After the statement by the Holy See on May 1 which announced Pope Benedict’s intention to name a commissioner to assume control of the Legion of Christ, Vatican analyst Sandro Magister said the only name that has been floated as a possible candidate for the post is the current Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez.

While the cardinal said he would accept whatever decision the Holy Father made, he said he did not consider himself the ideal candidate for the job and that a bishop with more knowledge of the religious life would be better suited.

A statement from the Archdiocese of Guadalajara on May 3 said Cardinal Sandoval “is at the disposal of what he (the Pope) decides at the appropriate time. The decision on naming a commissioner for the reconstruction of the Legion falls exclusively to the Supreme Pontiff.”

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Church’s position on gay 'marriage' remains unchanged, maintains Argentinean archdiocese

Mendoza, Argentina, May 17, 2010 (CNA) - Amidst a national debate over making same-sex unions equal to marriage, the Archbishop of Mendoza in Argentina lamented the confusion and distress caused by the personal opinions of Father Vicente Reale, who previously voiced support for same-sex “marriage.”

The archdiocesan spokesman, Father Marcelo De Benedectis, clarified the Catholic Church's position saying, “These kinds of unions contradict the natural law.” He added that the Argentinean bishops’ position on this issue has been clear. “Every person is free to have his or her own opinion, but what is important is that the precepts of the Church be defended, because we are profoundly convinced and sure that this is the truth revealed by Jesus,” he said.

An unchanging good

In April the bishops of Argentina reiterated that the good of marriage and the family is “unchangeable,” and warned that “there is no analogous reality that can be put on the same level,” because marriage “is not just any union between persons; it has unique and inalienable characteristics that make it the foundation of the family and of society.”

Stressing that the government has the duty to protect marriage between a man and a woman and to recognize its irreplaceable contribution to the common good of society, the bishops warned that by making same-sex unions equal to marriage, the country would be acting erroneously and would be contradicting its own duties, altering the natural law and the public order of Argentinean society.

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Pope seemed like one of the family, says Fatima shrine priest

Fatima, Portugal, May 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Yesterday the rector of the Shrine of Fatima shared his personal impressions and those of the people of Portugal with Vatican Radio following the Pope’s Apostolic Visit. Contrary to the thought that the Pope might not be able to touch the hearts of the faithful, said the priest, he was “so human that he seemed like someone from our family.”

Fr. Virgílio do Nascimento Antunes spoke with Vatican Radio in an interview released on Sunday. The priest is the rector of Our Lady of Fatima Shrine, the destination of Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage last week during his visit to Portugal.

Reflecting on the warm reception of the Portuguese people to the Holy Father’s presence, Fr. Antunes said, “I can say that it surpassed many of my expectations because there was also a very big crowd in Fatima.”

Estimates put the number of pilgrims at the Shrine for Thursday's Mass at half a million.

Before his visit, “The Pope was seen in Portugal as the theologian, the philosopher that wasn’t able to touch hearts… It was completely the contrary!” exclaimed the Fatima shrine rector.

“The Pope touched the heart of the people,” explained Fr. Antunes, commenting specifically on his manner with children, young people, the elderly and the sick.

“He is a man so human that he seemed like someone from our family and that we had already known him for a long time and for this reason the way of receiving and recognizing his personality has changed a lot,” the priest remarked about the effects of Pope Benedict's brief stay in the nation.

An equally large turnout and show of appreciation welcomed the Pope on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer at midday. Final attendance estimates came in at around 200,000 people for the event which often draws just a quarter of that number.

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops, was also present in the crowd that had been called together to show the solidarity of the Italian people with Pope Benedict.

During the homily of the Mass he celebrated afterwards in St. Paul Outside-the-walls, Cardinal Bagnasco called Christians to stand up and join the Holy Father as witnesses to the faith.

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Cuban government harasses mother of deceased political prisoner

Havana, Cuba, May 17, 2010 (CNA) - Cuban dissidents said this week that Reina Luisa Tamayo, the mother of deceased political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, is being harassed by state security agents outside her home.

Speaking on the telephone, Reina Tamayo said that despite the pressure from the Communist regime, she would not lose her resolve. “We will not give up the peaceful struggle against the regime,” she stated.

She also said that on May 11 when she went to visit her son’s grave at the cemetery, she noticed that someone had tried to erase his name from the tombstone by using white paint. She said this and the harassment at her home are intended to psychologically upset her.

Cuban dissidents reacted by reminding the government it has the duty to protect the physical and psychological security of Luisa Tamayo and her family. However, in response to the problem, they called on international leaders and the media to demand that the Communist government cease the harassment.

Orlando Zapata Tamayo was a prisoner of conscience who died last February after a prolonged hunger strike amidst the indifference of Cuban officials.

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Pontifical council to discuss lay presence in politics

Vatican City, May 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Pontifical Council for Laity will soon celebrate its annual plenary meeting in Rome. The council cited repeated calls by Pope Benedict XVI for a renewed commitment from the lay faithful to be active in the political sphere as the inspiration for this year's meeting.

The plenary or full assembly will take place from May 20-22 near the Vatican, and discussions will be based around the theme “Witnesses of Christ in the Political Community.”

The Pope has touched on the theme often.

In his message to the fifth general conference of Latin American bishops meeting in Aparecida, Brazil, the Pope said that “forming consciences, being an advocate of justice and truth and educating on individual and political virtues is the fundamental vocation of the Church in this sector.” He called particularly for Catholics to take on responsibility in public life, to provide support when necessary and to vocally oppose injustices.

Benedict XVI has spoken in various forums about the necessity for a new generation of Catholics in politics, calling specifically for coherence in the faith, “moral rigor, a capacity of cultural judgment, professional competence and passion of service for the common good.”

Most recently, during his visit to Portugal, he spoke to bishops of the need for “genuine witnesses to Jesus Christ, especially in those human environments where the silence of the faith is broadest and deepest." He referred specifically to the political arena as one such area.

The Pontifical Council will address the theme over the course of the three-day congress with a schedule of events that includes round table discussions and debates.

Among the major addresses during the meetings, Cardinal Camillo Ruini is scheduled to speak on the “Church and political community,” while Archbishop Rino Fisichella will cover “The responsibility of the lay faithful in politics.” Other talks will examine guidelines for formation of the lay faithful in politics and the role of politics in history and democracy.

The “fundamental and greatly anticipated moment” of the conference, according to the meeting's organizers, is the audience between participants and the Pope at noon on May 21.

The final day of the conference will see the dicastery’s secretary, Bishop Josef Clemens will speak about the past programs of the council and what its future plans are.

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Vatican expert floats names for Legion delegate

Rome, Italy, May 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Monday, Italian journalist and Vatican expert Sandro Magister commented on the Vatican's future plans to respond to the outcome of the Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries of Christ. He wrote that the new delegate to oversee the restructuring of the Legion might come from within the group of bishops who conducted the visitation.

Magister addressed one of the three decisions laid out in the May 1 statement from the Holy See, which was the result of two days of meetings between the apostolic visitors and Vatican officials.

In his most recent column, Magister further examined the question of who the Vatican delegate that will have "full powers over the Legion" might be.

Having previously stated that the only candidate seriously given consideration in the visitors' meetings was Cardinal Archbishop of Guadalajara Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, Magister noted that in the end the Mexican cardinal's nomination "didn't have a following." He noted a message from the Mexican Bishops' Conference from May 7 that presented the cardinal's willingness to take on the position despite the fact that he didn't consider himself to be the right candidate.

The "vaticanista" then examined the possibility presented by the cardinal in his statement that the delegate could come from among the bishops who completed the Apostolic Visitation.

Of these five, wrote Magister, the two with the greatest likelihood are Bishop of Concepcion Ricardo Ezzati Andrello and Bishop of Alexandria Giuseppe Versaldi. They are both close to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, he observed, however, both may soon be named archbishops, a nomination that would have to wait if one of them was chosen, considering the time and energy that will be required for the Legion restructuring.

Bishop Ezzati Andrello is an Italian-born Salesian of Don Bosco, while Bishop Versaldi is a Canon Law expert, he added.

Magister did not venture any guesses as to the other two decisions that will be made by the Holy Father in the months ahead, including who might be nominated to carry out the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion's lay movement, Regnum Christi, and who will form the commission to study the congregation's constitutions.

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Vatican highlights priorities shared with Buddhists

Vatican City, May 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - As Buddhists celebrate the Feast of Vesakh, the Vatican sent a message to members of the religion on Monday in which it noted the common ground between the two religions on certain issues. The note from the head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue underlined shared views on the value of life and the need to promote ecological responsibility.

The Feast of Vesakh commemorates the main events in the life of Buddha and, while it was already celebrated in Japan in March, it will be observed in Korea and Taiwan on May 21. In eight other Asian countries it will be celebrated on May 28.

The President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Touran, along with the dicastery’s secretary, wrote the note to all Buddhists complementing the mutual efforts of both faiths in raising awareness about the importance of spiritual and social concerns in the environmental sphere.

The message underscored the common values of the two religions, particularly “respect for the nature of all things, contemplation, humility, simplicity, compassion, and generosity” and the contribution of these values to “a life of non-violence, equilibrium, and contentment with sufficiency.”

Noting the Catholic Church’s consideration of the close link between environmental protection and integral human development, the Vatican representative to other religions emphasized its commitment to protecting natural resources and mankind itself from self destruction. He observed that “our responsibility to protect nature springs, in fact, from our respect for one another; it comes from the law inscribed in the hearts of all men and women.

“Consequently, when human ecology is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits.”

Cardinal Touran deemed as “crucial” the need to continue to encourage the creation of “a sense of ecological responsibility,” in addition to reaffirming “convictions about the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where,” he observed, “one learns to love one’s neighbor and to respect nature.”

In closing, Cardinal Touran hoped for continued promotion of "the healthy relationship between human beings and the environment" through Buddhists and Catholics being committed to the well-being of the world.

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Holy Father 'content' as 200,000 pack St. Peter's Square

Vatican City, May 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Sunday, the Holy Father was greeted by a massive amount of supporters at the Vatican for the Regina Coeli. Church prelates chalked the enormous response up to a great love of the Pope and his commitment to ridding the Catholic Church of sin.

After leading the Marian prayer from the window of his apartment above the supportive crowd, the Holy Father told the faithful that we must "be strongly rooted in God, solid in the good, in love and in service" to combat the sin within the Church and in the rest of the world.

Paola Dal Toso is the president of the national association of lay groups that organized the initiative of support for the Pope and mobilized the army that descended on the Vatican for the Sunday noon prayer. She said before the occasion that the idea of the event was to bring themselves "visibly around Benedict XVI as sons with their father, desiring to sustain him in his challenging ministry, expressing affection and gratitude to him for his passion for Christ and for all of humankind."

Speaking with Vatican Radio after a meeting with the Holy Father in audience on Monday morning, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, head of the Italian bishops said that Pope Benedict was "very content, very serene, for having seen this manifestation of such joy, closeness" in an "extremely packed" St. Peter's Square.

The prelate explained that many of the 200,000 who showed up to stand by the Holy Father were families, small and large, who had come from across the map "just to be under the Pope's window for a moment."

Cardinal Bagnasco went on to say that the great display of solidarity reinforces the awareness that the Church is of the people and particularly that there is "great affection and a great bond of gratitude" for the Pope.

The cardinal noted that for Italians, the See of Peter "represents in the heart of our people a great grace and therefore an additional reason for faith and joy." He thanked great variety of Italian Christian movements and Church groups that took part for their "vivacity" in making the occasion such a success.

He also restated the importance of prayers for the holiness of priest and the healing of abuse victims.

The head of the Italian bishops told La Repubblica newspaper in a separate interview on Sunday that this initiative was a "very simple and humble, but certainly convincing and eloquent sign" of the love of the Church and nation for the Holy Father.

L'Osservatore Romano reported that he also referred to the Pope as the "confident, sure, meek and sweet leader of the Church."

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's second-in-command, told Vatican Radio on Monday that Sunday's event demonstrated "all of the affection that surrounds the Pope."

In addition, he said, it showed the will and good intentions of Christians "to profoundly renew the heart of the Church, to do penance for the sins that are in the Church and the world and to reawaken the commitment to the clean, clear and coherent testimony with the Gospel of Christ."

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Retired Denver priest removed from ministry over sex abuse allegation

Denver, Colo., May 17, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver removed a retired priest from ministry within the archdiocese over a “credible allegation” that he sexually abused a minor in the 1970s.

Fr. Dorino De Lazzer, 75, who retired from his duties as pastor of Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Boulder in 2005, was currently serving the archdiocese when the accusation surfaced. 

“On May 7, I received a credible allegation against him for past sexual misconduct with a minor that reportedly occurred in the early 1970s before Father De Lazzer served in Colorado,” Archbishop Chaput said in a statement on Sunday.

“Consistent with our policies, we have reported the allegation to the civil authorities in the county and state where the accusation allegedly happened,” he added. “We have begun an internal investigation into the allegation.”

The day after he received the allegation, Archbishop Chaput stated that he “removed the priestly faculties of the retired priest,” withdrew him from “all ministry and placed him on administrative leave.”

Other parishes that Fr. De Lazzer served at in Colorado, include St. Pius X, St. James, Spirit of Christ, All Saints, St. Mary (Greeley), St. Michael, and Sacred Heart of Mary. All of these have been notified, the Denver archbishop said.

“It is important to remember that this is the first allegation of sexual abuse of a minor that the archdiocese has received against Father De Lazzer,” Archbishop Chaput noted. “It concerns events from more than 30 years ago, and every accused person has the right to be presumed innocent.”

“As the investigation proceeds, please respect the presumption of innocence and also the privacy of Father De Lazzer, the parish communities where he served and the individual who reported the allegation to us.”

The archbishop also encouraged anyone with concerns to contact the Archdiocese of Denver's Child and Youth Protection Office.

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Bolivian president makes proposals on priesthood to Pope

Vatican City, May 17, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bolivian president Evo Morales was in the Vatican on Monday morning for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. Besides the formalities of the visit, the president made suggestions as to how the Church might modify the priesthood.

The leader of Bolivia was accompanied on his first visit to the Vatican by seven others, including the head of his cabinet and the country’s ambassador to the Holy See, during his nearly 30-minute visit with the Holy Father in the Papal Library.

Journalists described the president as “very courteous” during the encounter, referring always to the Pope as “Holiness” and thanking him effusively for hosting him and his entourage. He told the Pope that he was “surprised and honored” for the chance to have an audience.

According to a statement from the Vatican following the encounter, discussions included a “fruitful exchange of opinions” on international and regional politics and the need for a greater social and ecological sensibility.

Talks, which also took place between Morales and officials from the Vatican's Secretariat of State, additionally focused on Church-State collaboration in education, health and politics, especially as they apply to the defense of the weakest in society.

Following the audience with the Pope, the two leaders exchanged gifts before saying goodbye. The Holy Father gave Morales the customary gift of the medal of his Pontificate, while the Bolivian president left him with a white Alpaca wool scarf “for the cold” and a pair of statues representing indigenous farmers.

The Paraguayan news agency ABC reported after the visit that the Bolivian president had also delivered a pre-written statement to the Pope in which he proposed, "as a base member of the Catholic Church," that celibacy be abolished and that women be allowed access to the priesthood.

Morales "respectfully proposed" the cancellation of the vow of celibacy so that the Church can overcome the sexual abuse crisis, according to the news report.

But just two weeks ago, the Vatican's Secretary of State told the Spanish publication La Vanguardia that "Celibacy has nothing to do with deviant behavior. There is widespread evidence that celibacy faithfully observed, is of great value to the priests and helps the people of God."

The president's suggestions to the Pope come just days after he "admitted" his Catholicism to the Bolivian people, despite his history of clashes with Church leaders in the country. At the same time, Evo Morales has previously encouraged worshipping "Pachamama" or Mother Earth.

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Spanish president to meet with Holy Father in June

Madrid, Spain, May 17, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - The Vice President of Spain, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, announced last week that President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is preparing a trip to the Vatican to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.

Asked about the possibility that the president would soon be meeting with the Holy Father, Fernandez de la Vega responded, “Yes, preparations are under way.”  Subsequently, government sources confirmed to Europa Press that the meeting would take place in June.

The logistics for the meeting are being handled by Spain’s ambassador to the Holy See, Francisco Vazquez, and Cardinal Antonio Canizares, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Second encounter with the Pope

This would be the second time Zapatero has met with Pope Benedict XVI.  The two first met during the World Meeting of Families in 2006 in Valencia, Spain.  That meeting was characterized as “extraordinarily cordial,” as the two discussed issues related to peace, the family, immigration and the future of Europe.

In February of 2008 Zapatero met with the Apostolic Nuncio to Spain, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro.  At the time, the Spanish president complained that the bishops were interfering in the sovereignty of the government after several prelates spoke publicly against the Socialist administration’s agenda at a pro-family rally in December of 2007.  

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