Archive of May 18, 2010

Campaign launched in UK to support missionary priests

Walsingham, England, May 18, 2010 (CNA) - In an effort to raise funds in support of missionary priests, a Catholic charity is urging the faithful in the United Kingdom to offer Masses in honor of the Pope and his upcoming visit to the area.

As an incentive to donate to their charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is compiling a list of names of those who participate and will present a commemorative book to the Holy Father or his U.K. representative when he visits this September.

ACN reported on Monday that stipends from the Masses, for which there are suggested donation amounts, will benefit priests within the organization who do missionary work in countries were Christianity has been suppressed.

“At this moment, more than ever, our Holy Father and all priests need our prayers and support,” said Neville Kyrke-Smith, ACN national director on Monday.

“We must invoke the Holy Spirit and ask the prayers of our Blessed Mother to strengthen their faith and renew the priesthood,” he added.

The charity is placing a particular emphasis on the Middle East in response to Benedict XVI comments about how the Church is threatened in that region. ACN has been active in providing financial assistance to beleaguered Catholics in the area.

In addition to providing monetary assistance, ACN suggested that spiritual gifts, such as Eucharistic adoration or rosaries, can be offered in support of the Pope and the work of the organization.

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Politics Daily expresses regret, removes article incriminating US apostolic nuncio

Washington D.C., May 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After publishing an article last week that incriminated the U.S. apostolic nuncio by suggesting he regularly insults an alleged victim of clerical abuse in Washington D.C., Politics Daily removed the “disquieting” article and expressed regret they had published it.

On May 7, Annie Groer of Politics Daily wrote that a 67-year-old alleged sex-abuse victim named John Wojnowski accused Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., of verbally assaulting him at least 15 times in the last 20 months.

According to Wojnowski, Archbishop Sambi has called him an “idiot,” a “loser” and a “fetid pervert” among other things during his walks on the street of the nunciature in Washington D.C. where Wojnowski protests.

Wojnowski, who claims he was molested in 1958 yet repressed the memory until 1997, has picketed the Vatican embassy for the past dozen years. The protestor often carries signs, the most recent of which reads, “Sociopaths Hide Pedophiles. Vatican Hides Pedophiles.” According to Groer, Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., said that Wojnowski has been offered counseling and other assistance numerous times, although he claims he doesn't “have time for it.”

The protestor provided Politics Daily with what looks like a detailed account of the days and times that Archbishop Sambi has allegedly insulted him. Wojnowski claims that the archbishop has made his remarks in his native Italian, which Wojnowski claims to speak as well.

Groer wrote that despite her numerous “requests” for comment on these charges, Archbishop Sambi “has chosen to remain silent” and has not responded to her. Groer then concluded her article saying that Wojnowski “would like Pietro Sambi, the Pope's man in Washington, to stop calling him names.”

A week after the article ran, Politics Daily writer Carl M. Cannon, a senior Washington correspondent who initially approved the incriminating piece, explained that the story has since been removed and expressed regret that it had ever been published.

Cannon wrote on May 15 that that in “hindsight,” the “disquieting story” did not “rise to our own threshold of fairness.” He added that the article did not initally note that it was the archbishop “who helped arrange for the first-ever meeting between a pope and victims of clerical sex abuse when Pope Benedict visited Washington in 2008.”

“In political journalism,” Cannon continued, “Sambi's silence almost automatically generates a presumption that Wojnowski's account is true: The archbishop didn't even deny it! Upon reflection, however, it occurred to us that other explanations are as likely.”

“For one,” he continued, “the hierarchy of the church is not steeped in the customs of post-Watergate U.S. journalism, and does not necessarily subscribe to the dictum in American politics to immediately respond to every attack.”

“Archbishop Pietro Sambi's reticence might just as well stem from a general reluctance to engage the mass media,” the senior correspondent observed. “Or perhaps his silence is motivated by feelings of Christian charity, instead of contempt, toward a troubled protester.”

“We don't know the answer,” Cannon conceded. “We don't know, in fact, that the story is wrong. But we're not sure it's right, and we wish now that we had not published it.”

Cannon added that although the editor in chief for Politics Daily has since decided to remove the story, it “probably won't be the last word on this subject.”

However, he noted, “this mea culpa should be a part of the record too.”

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Archbishop Gomez gives emotional farewell to San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas, May 18, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Gomez, who was recently named coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles, presided over a farewell Mass on Sunday in Texas, giving an emotional goodbye to the Archdiocese of San Antonio, which he has led since 2005.

More than 1,500 faithful gathered to bid farewell and offer their best wishes to their shepherd at St. Mark the Evangelist Cathedral, often bursting into standing ovations in honor of the archbishop, reported The Houston Chronicle.

Presenting him with numerous gifts, including relics, bouquets and artwork, parishioners lauded the prelate for his five years of service to the San Antonio community.

“You have been an amazing, an amazing, simply amazing father to us all,” said John Nolan, one of the current 100-plus men enrolled at Assumption Seminary, who presented the archbishop with a relic of St. Anthony of Padua.

Among the archbishop's many initiatives in San Antonio throughout the last several years was addressing the low numbers of seminarians in the archdiocese. The Mexico-born prelate not only visited seminarians, learned their names, and played basketball with them but also spearheaded a multimillion dollar campaign to build a new space for the future priests. A record 18 seminarians graduated from Assumption Seminary this year.

The archbishop is also credited with having a strong relational presence in the Catholic community during his time there, utilizing TV and radio appearances, pastoral letters, weekly columns and homilies to connect with the faithful.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Archbishop Gomez was emotional throughout his homily on Sunday, in which he exhorted the faithful by quoting St. Paul: “Our lives are not our own, my brothers and sisters. We have been bought with a great price.”

“What must we do to repay such love?” he asked. “Nothing less than giving our lives.”

Archbishop Gomez asked the community for prayers during the farewell Mass as he transitions from an archdiocese of 700,000 in San Antonio to one of 4.3 million in Los Angeles on May 26.

In the congregation were Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann and San Antonio Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú, retired Bishop Thomas Flanagan and Archbishop Emeritus Patrick Flores. They, in union with the entire community, stretched out their hands toward their beloved archbishop at one point to impart a blessing on him.

“I pray that each of you live lives always in joy and enthusiasm that comes from knowing you are a child of God,” Archbishop Gomez said afterward. “I will never forget you.”

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Bishop Olmsted ‘gravely concerned’ by abortion at Arizona Catholic hospital

Phoenix, Ariz., May 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted is “gravely concerned” after learning a direct abortion took place at a Catholic hospital, urging that an unborn child should not be seen as a disease and should never be directly killed. A Catholic ethicist also commented on the case, saying both the mother and the child deserved the best medical efforts.

The abortion took place late last year at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. The mother was 11 weeks pregnant and was seriously ill with pulmonary hypertension, the Washington Post reports. The condition limits heart and lung function and is reportedly made worse and even fatal by pregnancy.

An ethics committee which included doctors and hospital administrator Sr. Margaret McBride ruled that the abortion was necessary.

Bishop Olmsted issued a Friday statement in response to what the Diocese of Phoenix called hospital officials’ acknowledgement “that an unborn child was killed” through a direct abortion.

Saying he was “gravely concerned” by the fact that the abortion was performed, the bishop said he was further concerned by the hospital’s claim that the termination of a human life was necessary to treat the mother’s underlying medical condition.

“An unborn child is not a disease,” he insisted. While medical professionals should try to save a pregnant mother’s life, “the means by which they do it can never be by directly killing her unborn child.”

“The end does not justify the means,” he insisted.

Bishop Olmsted explained that every Catholic institution is obliged to defend human life “at all its stages,” and that Catholic individuals also have this obligation.

“If a Catholic formally cooperates in the procurement of an abortion, they are automatically excommunicated by that action,” the bishop continued. “The Catholic Church will continue to defend life and proclaim the evil of abortion without compromise, and must act to correct even her own members if they fail in this duty.”

“We always must remember that when a difficult medical situation involves a pregnant woman, there are two patients in need of treatment and care; not merely one. The unborn child’s life is just as sacred as the mother’s life, and neither life can be preferred over the other.”

“The direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot be permitted in any institution that claims to be authentically Catholic.”

The bishop cited Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which recognizes direct abortion as “a grave moral disorder.”

Bishop Olmsted said the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Institutions (ERDs) are “very clear” on this point.

According to the Washington Post, hospital officials defended Sr. McBride’s actions. At the same time, she has been reassigned from her job as vice president of mission integration at the hospital.

Last week Catholic Healthcare West sent to Bishop Olmsted a letter signed by board chairwoman Sr. Judith Carle and President and CEO Lloyd Dean. Seeking clarification on the directives, the letter agreed that pregnancy is “not a pathology” in a healthy mother but it claimed the case of the abortion was different because of the nearly certain risk of death for the mother.

"If there had been a way to save the pregnancy and still prevent the death of the mother, we would have done it," the letter said, according to the Arizona Republic. "We are convinced there was not."

Seeking comment, CNA contacted John Brehany, executive director and ethicist of the Catholic Medical Association.

In a Monday e-mail, he expressed “sadness” that the life of the unborn child was taken and said he regrets that the hospital did not work with the bishop and the diocese “more proactively” to avoid the situation.

Brehany said Bishop Olmsted drew attention to the “consistent and solemn teaching of the Church that one can never intentionally do evil to achieve a good end or result.” This includes never choosing an action “whose intent and direct effect is to end the life of an unborn child.

Noting “some very complicated diseases and health care conditions” which affect pregnant women, he said the Church has recognized some cases like uterine cancer in which effective treatment results in the death of the unborn child.

“To deal with these hard cases, a four-step process of moral analysis, called the principle of double effect, has been developed. Working through this process helps us to ensure that neither the intent nor the direct effect of the action proposed is morally evil,” Brehany explained.

In the case of uterine cancer treatment, the intent is to treat a dangerous disease. The means of the action, removing the mother’s diseased organ, does not directly target or kill the unborn child, “nor is the death of the unborn child the means by which the mother's life is saved.”

Judging from descriptions he had read in the press, Brehany added “it appears that teachings of the Church and this process were not appropriately followed.”

“While the mother suffered from a serious disease, it seems it was the intent of the health care providers to end the life of the child. And, the means chosen to promote the health of the woman was to abort a viable pregnancy.”

Brehany also thought Catholic moral principles were “clear” in the case and the abortion was not consistent with Catholic morals.

Acknowledging “hard cases” which moral theologians struggle to understand, he said he was not sure the Phoenix case rises to such a level of difficulty.

CNA asked Brehany what people should understand about Catholic ethics in this case.

“The Church is motivated by sincere love for all human persons in need. In this case, there were two patients -- mother and child. Both are human beings and both are worthy of our best efforts in medicine.

“Many times in life it is easier to focus on some people and to avoid or overlook the needs of others,” he warned. “The respect for life that still undergirds our Western culture has been the source of many positive developments in technology and medical practice that have saved countless lives.”

“The most important things people can do are to choose morally good actions and avoid morally evil actions. There are many tragedies in life. We cannot always prevent bad things from happening to people.

“Many times we are faced with hard choices. But what we can never ethically do -- because our ultimate goal is to follow the will of God and build his kingdom on earth -- is to choose to do evil, even when it appears that it will result in highly desirable and understandable results.”

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Thai archbishop asks religious leaders to help avert civil war

Bangkok, Thailand, May 18, 2010 (CNA) - An intervention of religious leaders could help provide a peaceful solution in Thailand before the possible “catastrophe” of a civil war, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Thailand has said.

Archbishop Louis Chamniern of Thare and Nonseng told Fides news agency that the leaders of different religious communities in the country, Buddhists, Christians and Muslims, have “the confidence, credibility, and esteem of the population that today could be very useful in resolving the deadlock and avoiding more violence."

These religious leaders previously met a month ago, publicly voicing support for the common initiatives for dialogue and reconciliation.

According to the Associated Press, five days of clashes over the political direction of the country have killed at least 37 people. The anti-government activists known as the “red shirts” contend that the ruling coalition is illegitimate.

On Monday thousands of “red shirts” were defying government orders to clear out from their encampment in Bangkok, according to CBC News. They remained behind their makeshift barricades.

"We cannot stress enough the point that the only way is dialogue: we need to lay down arms and abandon the violent solution to the crisis,” Archbishop Chamniern explained to Fides. “I fear that the country is at the beginning of a civil war that, if it is not stopped, will become a catastrophe."

He warned of “a clear misunderstanding” between the disputing parties.

“Both the factions are determined to win and seek to defend their interests, without considering the rest of the Thai population and the common good,” the archbishop continued. “The government accuses the leaders of the 'red' protest to be 'enemies of the crown' and 'traitors,' but this does not seem true to me and it seems a way to discredit the protest in the eyes of the nation.”

He advised the Executive Branch of the Thailand government to show more patience and to explore new avenues of dialogue.

“The population, at this time, places greater confidence in religious leaders than in political leaders. And we would be ready to take the field and start working for the good of the country to stop further bloodshed.”

At this stage of Thailand’s “tragic” history, the archbishop reported, the people are “discouraged and passive.”

“There is much fear. The 'Land of Smiles' seems to have become a 'country of pain.' Today we all suffer together and, at this moment, it is like being in a tunnel where you do not yet see a way out.”

The Thai archbishop reported that Catholics continue to pray daily and in Sunday Masses for peace in Thailand.

“Today we ask the help and the prayer of the Universal Church to bring back peace and reconciliation to our beloved nation,” he told Fides.

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Vatican cardinal advises priests, missionaries to use three-dimensional approach

Rome, Italy, May 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples addressed the priests and missionaries of the world yesterday calling on them to use a three dimensional approach to their service: doctrine, discipline, devotion.

The Vatican cardinal spoke on Monday afternoon at the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Rome, emphasizing the qualities that all priests and missionaries around the world must develop to help others encounter Christ.

"Every priest, on his path of growth and in his ministry, should safeguard these three dimensions: Doctrine, Discipline, Devotion,” Cardinal Dias counseled.

He then focused on each dimension, beginning with “doctrine.”  He said that “safeguarding doctrine” is defined by remaining faithful to the “Word of God, the Magisterium of the Church,” as well as the teachings of Benedict XVI. 

The second dimension of discipline, the prelate emphasized, is extremely essential today, and must “be taken more deeply into account.”

“This implies the discipline of mind and body, a sign and fruit of a human and spiritual maturity. This includes formation in chastity and proper relations with the opposite sex; management of discord and conflict in relationships and in the community; management of free time and use of new technologies.”

Moving on to the final dimension of devotion, the cardinal underlined that each priest today “should bear in mind that he is a man of God. He should give primacy to the spirit, keeping in mind that he is in the world, but not of the world."

Addressing the priests and missionaries in attendance, Cardinal Dias said that in general, they must always assist in “helping others to encounter the living and active person of Jesus Christ,” in their daily work and in the celebration of the sacraments.

The cardinal concluded by saying every priest, like every Christian, "has the missionary spirit in his DNA," otherwise he would be "a deformed Christian or at least not yet well-formed ..."

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Padre Pio devotees read Bible while following life of saint

Rome, Italy, May 18, 2010 (CNA) - On Sunday, a group of those inspired by Padre Pio began reading the entire Bible at key places in the life of the saint of Pietrelcina. They will continue to do so until the Vigil of Pentecost on May 22.

The group is making stops at San Giovanni Rotondo, the Church of St. Mary of Graces, the cell where he lived his last years, the church and crypt of St. Pio and at the Home for the Relief for the Suffering.

According to SIR news agency, the initiative is being promoted by the Capuchin Friars Minors of San Giovanni Rotondo in collaboration with RAI Vaticano, Tele Radio Padre Pio and UNITALSI.

Tele Radio Padre Pio will broadcast the event, making it available via satellite to three continents.

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Peruvian cardinal calls on Catholics to make Christ present through word and example

Lima, Peru, May 18, 2010 (CNA) - In his radio program, Dialogue of Faith, the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, invited the faithful of Peru to make Christ present with their lives, in order to live out “the great message of the Ascension: here and now Jesus is with you.”

“Through us Christ wishes to offer himself to others,” the cardinal said. “If by my word and example I bring you into contact with Christ, he becomes present again in your soul,” he added in this week's program.

In referring to the charges of sexual abuse filed against a missionary Belgian priest living in Peru, “who will have to answer to his bishop and to the law,” Cardinal Cipriani underscored that there are “thousands of priests, nuns and laypeople who dedicate their entire lives to caring for children and working wonders for them, for the infirm and for the poor.”

“However, we must speak clearly about these things, with total transparency, total truth, and at the same time, with respect for our mother who is the Church,” he concluded.

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John Paul II always accepted pain, never asked for sedatives, reports papal physician

Rome, Italy, May 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Italian physician Renato Buzzonetti, recounted his relationship and experiences with John Paul II as his personal physician from 1978 until his death. Among other things, he recalled details about the May 13, 1981 assassination attempt on the late Pope, his willingness to embrace suffering and the last moments of his life.

Dr. Buzzonetti recalled that after five hours of surgery following the attempt on his life on May 13, 1981, John Paul II said to him: “Like Bachelet,” to which he responded, “No, Your Holiness, because you are alive and you will live.”

“I think he mentioned that name because he was very touched by the assassination” of Catholic judge Vittorio Bachelet, who was killed by the Red Brigades on February 12, 1980,” the doctor said. “The Pope knew him because when he was General President of Italian Catholic Action, and he was member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, to which Cardinal Wojtyla belonged.”

Referring to the Parkinson’s disease that struck the Pope in 1991, Buzzonetti said he told the Holy Father “no one ever died” from a shaky hand but that it was a clear sign he was suffering from the disease. “The Pope’s life was more complicated later because of the painful joint symptoms that were particularly intense in his right knee, which prevented John Paul II from standing up and walking briskly. These were two symptoms that, put together and intertwined, made it necessary for him to use a cane and later a wheelchair.”

Despite all of the pain, the doctor said, the Holy Father “never asked for sedatives, not even in his final stages. It was above all the pain of a man who was enclosed, prostrate on a bed or in a chair, who had lost physical autonomy. He couldn’t do anything by himself, and eventually he was completely physically disabled: he could not walk, he couldn’t speak other than with a weak voice, his breathing was labored and short, he ate with increasing difficulty.”

Buzzonetti said a particularly dramatic moment during the Pope’s final days came when he had to receive a tracheotomy. “Upon getting himself up after the anesthesia, after having given his consent, he realized he could no longer speak. Suddenly he found himself facing an extremely difficult reality. On a little chalkboard he wrote, 'What have you done to me. Totus tuus (totally yours)'.”

“It was the realization of the new state in which he had fallen, suddenly exalted by the act of trust in Mary.”

Buzzonetti said the last few days with John Paul II were especially intense. “I felt extremely tense because of the great responsibility that was on my shoulders … My colleagues and I were aware that the disease was … in its final phase. Our battle had been waged with patience, humility and prudence, which was extremely difficult because we knew it would end in defeat.”

He also revealed that he once tried to resign as the Pope’s physician but the Holy Father would not accept it. “It is the will of the Holy Father” that you continue, he was told by the Pope’s secretary, now-Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.

“For the Christian doctor, the dying man is the image of the Lord,” Dr. Buzzonetti said. “Every man has his wounds, carries his crown of thorns, stutters his last words, and abandons himself into the hands of someone who renews the gestures of Mary, of the holy women, of Joseph of Arimathea. The death of John Paul II engaged me even more,” he said.

The physician said the death of Pope Wojtyla “was the death of man divested of everything, who had lived through times of struggle and of glory and who was interiorly stripped of everything to meet the Lord and return the keys of the Kingdom. At that hour of pain and astonishment, I had the sensation of being on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The story was reset, as Christ was preparing to call the new Peter.”

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Religious affiliation in census causing confusion among Mexican Catholics

Mexico City, Mexico, May 18, 2010 (CNA) - As Mexico begins its 2010 Census, the country's bishops have cautioned Catholics to be careful responding to the question on religious affiliation as its ambiguous language could lead them to state they are part of another denomination.

The bishops criticized the classification of religious affiliations included in the question, which gives Mexicans the option of identifying themselves as belonging to the “Roman Catholic Church, the Traditional Catholics, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, the Tridentine Priestly Society, the Mexican National Catholic Church, The Catholic Church of the Apostles of the Last Days, the Society of St. Pius X, The Latin Rite Tridentine Catholic Church, the Latin Rite Catholic Church, the Tridentine Mexican Catholic Union, the Catholic Church of Christ International and the Reformed Apostolic Roman Catholic Church.”

The bishops said Catholics should be sure to select “Roman Catholic” as their religious identity. “It is of transcendental importance that our faithful respond clearly that they belong to the Roman Catholic Church,” the bishops said.

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Portuguese bishops call gay 'marriage' law a step backward

Lisbon, Portugal, May 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Portuguese bishops, joined by the country's Pro-Life Federation, denounced their president's decision to legalize same-sex “marriage” on Monday, calling the move a “step backward” and an “attack on the traditional family.”

A bill aimed at legalizing same-sex “marriages” was passed by the Portuguese parliament in February with the support of the left-wing parties, which are in the majority. President Anibal Cavaco Silva had until May 17 to decide whether to sign the bill into law or exercise his veto power. Politicians opposed to the measure had called for a nationwide referendum on the matter.

"Given that fact,” President Cavaco Silva said on Monday, “I feel I should not contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only serve to deepen the divisions between the Portuguese and divert the attention of politicians away from the grave problems affecting us.”

The president, who is a self-identified Catholic, said on Monday that he was putting aside his “personal convictions” and approving the legislation, making Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex unions.

Fr. Manuel Morujão, spokesman for the Portuguese Bishops' Conference, called the president's decision a “step backward in the building of social cohesion and is against one of the most established principles of the different civilizations of mankind.” The spokesman then referenced Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to Portugal, where the Holy Father stressed the importance of “protecting the essential and primary values of life” which include the “indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman.”

“In Fatima, on May 13th,” Fr. Morujão wrote, “Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that the family is based on a union of love between a man and a woman and that protecting it is one of the key factors in the building of the common good.”

Isilda Pegado, president of the Portuguese Pro-Life Federation, also commented in an interview with SIR news on Tuesday, calling the legislation an “attack on the traditional family, which is bound to have severe repercussions on the entire society.”

Pegado said that “unfortunately, President Cavaco Silva decided to promulgate” the law, which she said was “backed by a small political elite, a minority compared to those mothers and fathers who want to educate their children in truth.”

The Pro-Life Federation leader also spoke about traditional marriage as “a school of values and social solidarity,” and adding that it “gives birth to children, brings them up, educates them, and is concerned with the protection and support of the most vulnerable.”

“In other words,” she explained, traditional marriage “exercises a form of social solidarity that is peculiar only to a family composed of a mother and a father,” and for this reason, “should be supported and not undermined.”

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BP America gives $1 million to Catholic Charities New Orleans to assist those affected by oil spill

New Orleans, La., May 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - BP America, a subsidiary of the petroleum giant whose underwater well is leaking millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, has announced a combined $1 million donation to Catholic Charities in Louisiana to support emergency food assistance and financial aid for families affected by the environmental disaster.

The Archdiocese of New Orleans said that the Catholic Church has been active in relief efforts since April 29 through its Catholic Charities affiliate and Second Harvest Food Bank. Though their efforts have served more than 1,000 individuals and families, need is growing among the people.

Catholic Charities co-president Jim Kelly reported that the agency had committed a minimum of $300,000 in resources before BP’s offer.

“We knew immediately that the impact would be enormous and we would need to respond quickly,” he remarked.

Second Harvest Food Bank member agencies have reported a 15 to 25 percent increase since May 1 in the number of new people seeking emergency food assistance. According to the archdiocese, the food bank itself has distributed over 700 emergency food boxes. Its agencies have distributed more than 31,700 meals in affected areas.

“Our first priority in this disaster is the people who are directly impacted and unable to work right now,” New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond explained. “Their livelihood and their way of life are endangered and it is our responsibility as church and as human beings to provide for them in their time of need. This gift from BP America is a blessing for us as it will allow us to continue our mission of service to those directly affected.”

Catholic Charities New Orleans co-president Gordon Wadge said the organization has always had “early responder” and “forever responder” roles.

“Our expertise is in identifying the needs of the people impacted by a disaster and remaining with them until their needs are served, no matter how long that takes,” he noted.

St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro said he was “so grateful” for all the assistance from the relief agencies to help fishermen. He said the BP donation will “go a long way” to aid in supporting them.

The Louisiana Department of Social Services (DSS) estimates that about 47,000 households across coastal Louisiana may need food assistance because of the oil spill.

The website of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans is

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Jesuit magazine editor: Pope's comment on same-sex marriage is bizarre

Washington D.C., May 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The culture editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine America, Fr. James Martin, S.J., argued yesterday in a post on the publication's blog that Pope Benedict's equation of abortion and same-sex marriage "is bizarre" and "seemed oddly discordant."

In his post published on Monday, May 17, under the headline “Hingham, Same-Sex Marriage, and Life Issues," Fr. Martin, a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, praised the Archdiocese's of Boston move to undermine the decision of Rev. James Rafferty, who last week denied enrollment to the child of a lesbian couple at St. Paul's Catholic elementary school in Hingham, Mass.

"The Archdiocese of Boston is handling this matter quite differently—that is, more wisely—than Denver did," wrote Martin, in reference to the decision made by the Archbishop of Denver, Charles Chaput, to stand behind a similar decision made last month by a pastor in Boulder, Colo.

The statement of Dr. Mary Grassa O’Neill, Boston's  superintendent of Catholic schools, explaining that "the Archdiocese does not prohibit children of same sex parents from attending Catholic schools," was issued, according to Martin, "with the approval of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, I am told by a good source."

Cardinal O'Malley was in Portugal accompanying Pope Benedict on his visit to Fatima, when Grassa O’Neill released the statement.

America's culture editor also expresses his disappointment with the fact that Fr. Rafferty was not forced to reverse his decision. "That's odd, to say the least. Why couldn't they have simply asked the pastor to accept the child into the parish school?" 

“(O)verall, though, the archdiocese has taken a wise and pastoral approach," Martin said, saying that it "stands in contrast to the increasingly heated language coming from church leaders on the topic of same-sex marriage."

"Pope Benedict XVI's comments last week in Fatima, Portugal, in which he stated that abortion and same-sex marriage, were 'some of today's most insidious and dangerous threats' to the common good seemed oddly discordant. The equation of abortion, something that clearly is about a threat to life, with same-sex marriage, which no matter how you look at it, does not mean that anyone is going to die, is bizarre," Martin opined.

"A good friend of mine, who is gay, recently resigned from a position at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, where he said, with great dismay, that 'abortionsamesexmarriage' had become one polysyllabic word among some of his bosses."

Questioning the Pope's comment, Fr. Martin asked, "Why aren't 'abortion and war' the most 'insidious and dangerous' threats to the common good?"

"The great danger is that this increasingly popular equation will seem to many as having less to do with moral equivalency and more to do with a simple dislike, or even a hatred, of gays and lesbians.

"And that goes against not simply Catholic teaching, but against the Gospel,” Martin concluded.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that Fr. Martin said the Pope's statement goes against the Gospel.

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Catholic sister told Phoenix bishop abortion was allowed by Church teaching

Phoenix, Ariz., May 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A religious sister who was on a Catholic hospital panel that approved a direct abortion has excommunicated herself, the Diocese of Phoenix said on Tuesday. According to the diocese, Sr. Margaret McBride told Bishop Olmsted that she believed performing an abortion in a specific case from 2009 "was a morally good and allowable act according to Church teaching."

The abortion took place late last year at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. The mother was 11 weeks pregnant and was seriously ill with pulmonary hypertension, a condition worsened and possibly made fatal by pregnancy, according to the Washington Post.

An ethics committee which included doctors and hospital administrator Sr. Margaret McBride ruled that the abortion was necessary. Sr. McBride has been reassigned from her job as vice president of mission integration at the hospital.

In a Tuesday “Questions & Answers” document, the Diocese of Phoenix’s Office of Communications explained that Sr. McBride “held a position of authority at the hospital and was frequently consulted on ethical matters.”

The diocese stated that she was excommunicated because “she gave her consent that the abortion was a morally good and allowable act according to Church teaching. Furthermore, she admitted this directly to Bishop Olmsted. Since she gave her consent and encouraged an abortion she automatically excommunicated herself from the Church.”

The diocese added that canon law requires an excommunicated member of a religious community be dismissed from religious life unless his or her superior decides that dismissal is not completely necessary and that correction, restitution of justice and reparation of scandal can be sufficiently resolved in another way.

In addition, the diocese said that in this situation it was “clear” that St. Joseph’s Hospital was “not faithful to Catholic moral teaching” as outlined in the Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs). Catholic Healthcare West, the hospital system of which St. Joseph’s is a part, has not followed the ERDs in at least one of their institutions, Chandler Regional Hospital.

According to the diocese, Bishop of Phoenix Thomas Olmsted is attempting to work with the hospital to help them fulfill requirements of self-identified Catholic institutions.

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