San José, Costa Rica, May 21, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Francisco Ulloa of Cartago in Costa Rica expressed regret this week over the recent ruling by the Electoral Supreme Court, which censured him for reminding Catholics they could not support political policies that go against Christian principles, and said it would not silence the bishops in their mission to preach the faith.
The May 3 ruling by the court was against Bishop Ulloa and in favor of the lawsuit filed by the Movement for a Secular State. The Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica expressed solidarity with Bishop Ulloa and “the actions he carries out in defense of his fundamental rights before the competent offices and agencies.”
In an interview published by the newspaper La Republica, Bishop Ulloa said, “According to the ruling, we bishops would not be able to express an opinion about aspects that support the common good. This is the great danger, as many could cite our opinions and then file a lawsuit claiming we are violating the ruling. This is the critical and dangerous part of this ruling.”
“I will continue speaking out when necessary, defending God’s interests, guiding our people, because that is my mission,” he said. “This norm needs to be reviewed because it is discriminatory and in reality disregards human rights.”
After noting that he learned of the ruling while out of the country, Bishop Ulloa said it caught his attention because “it is based on a 19th century constitutional norm. And it has its origin in that struggle between the Liberal Party and the Church, when a party called the Catholic Union existed. Today this norm is outdated, and canon law itself specifies that clerics have no business participating in any particular party or supporting or rejecting a specific candidate.”
Bishop Ulloa thanked the bishops' conference for its support and said, “This ruling not only affects me but all bishops, priests and even lay Catholics, as it forbids spreading material that invokes the religious sentiments of the people. This is very serious, as it limits the freedom of expression of everyone, and in addition any statements that could be misinterpreted.”
Likewise, he said, “The accusation that I have engaged in political propaganda is not true. I did not refer to any political party or to any candidate. Moreover, the elections hadn’t taken place yet, all the candidates had not announced their campaigns, and the purpose was never to refer to politics itself.”
“The context was about a proposal to eliminate the name of God from the Constitution and other similar proposals. I felt in conscience the need to bring this to the attention of the people, as this is a majority Catholic country,” the bishop said.
Washington D.C., May 21, 2010 (CNA) -
Family Research Council released a new study on Thursday, detailing how women who grow up without their biological parents are more likely to engage in homosexual conduct as adults versus women who were raised with both a father and a mother.
“This research further undermines the claim that homosexuality is largely genetic or biological in origin,” said Dr. Patrick F. Fagan, director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at Family Research Council, and co-author of the study.
“It is clear that social factors have a significant impact on whether a woman chooses to engage in homosexual relationships,” he noted.
The data for the study was drawn from 2002 statistics on 7,643 women between the ages of 14 and 44, provided by the National Survey of Family Growth, which was conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Analysis of the statistics was overseen by Dr. Fagan as well as Fr. Paul Sullins from the Department of Sociology at Catholic University.
“Classical theory and earlier research focused on the important role which attachment to the same sex parent plays in the sexual development of children,” explained Dr. Fagan.“These data seem to indicate that the father also plays a crucial role in the sexual development of his daughter.”
“With a continued breakdown in the family it is reasonable to expect a rise in homosexual behavior among women,” he added. “Difficulties in the development of sexual identification with the same sex parent will increase where there is a breakdown of attachment between both parents.”
Researchers for the study also mentioned the role of religion in the findings, saying that women who never attended religious worship where more than three times likely to participate in homosexual relationships than women who attended weekly services.
The analysis additionally concluded that when both family structure and religious observance were present, only 2.1 percent of women reported having a homosexual partner in the last year, as opposed to women with neither factor, who were 4.5 times more likely (9.5 percent) to have had a homosexual partner.
The full study results can be found at: http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF10E29.pdf.
Washington D.C., May 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic higher education in the U.S. needs more guidance because of “confusion” about Catholic identity, the outgoing president of Catholic University of America has commented. An official with the U.S. bishops’ conference says that a review of Catholic higher ed is upcoming and that many schools are trying to put their Catholicity into practice.
Msgr. David O’Connell in March had a 70-minute audience with Cardinal Zenon Grocholweski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. The monsignor told the Washington Times he wanted to converse with the cardinal about Catholic identity, "Ex Corde Ecclesiae" and the Land O’Lakes statement.
"Ex Corde Ecclesiae", a 1990 Vatican document, outlines the requirements for the governance and structuring of Catholic universities. The Land O’Lakes statement, which claimed autonomy from the Church in the name of academic freedom, was signed in Wisconsin in 1967 by 26 Catholic university presidents and other officials, according to the Washington Times.
Msgr. O’Connell stated that the 1967 statement had introduced “confusion” into the Church.
Another source of confusion, in his view, was President Obama’s invitation to deliver the commencement speech and to receive an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame, despite the U.S. bishops’ statement that universities are not to honor pro-abortion rights public speakers.
"Obama goes to Notre Dame and everyone gets their pants in a twist; 80 bishops pile on saying Notre Dame shouldn't have done that; the president comes and gives a speech,” he told the Washington Times. However, the university “still turns away 1,000 students; they still get a million dollars in contributions; they honor the [papal] nuncio. ... They're back in the good graces of the church - what happened as a result of this?”
"I'd like the Holy See to say 'Ex Corde' is normative," he continued, "not Land O'Lakes. To appeal to Land O'Lakes as a source of vibrancy in Catholic education is mistaken."
Msgr. O’Connell, who also confirmed that he is strongly rumored to be a candidate for bishop, reported that at the Vatican meeting officials were “attentive.”
However, they told him Catholic education is a local matter that should be taken up by the U.S. bishops and does not require Vatican intervention.
In a Thursday interview, CNA spoke about "Ex Corde Ecclesiae" and Catholic higher education with Marie A. Powell, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ conference’s Office of Catholic Education.
She said the relation of Catholic higher education to the Catholic faith and the bishops is “pretty well spelled out” in "Ex Corde Ecclesiae" and the U.S. bishops’ document outlining its application. Powell said "Ex Corde Ecclesiae" is an effort to “set out guidelines and a vision for how Catholic higher education should relate to the Church.”
The documents call for a “close association” between a Catholic college or university and the diocese it is in. There should be a “supportive” and “collaborative” relationship between the educational institutions and the bishops.
Professors who are teaching in the theological disciplines are supposed to have a “mandatum” and permission from the local diocese to teach Catholic subjects, she explained.
Powell told CNA she did not know whether the bishops had taken a position on the Land O’Lakes statement, noting that "Ex Corde Ecclesiae" came out “long after” that document.
Asked whether there is a problem with Catholic schools not following “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” she said it depends on what is meant by “a problem.”
“If you look at what Catholic colleges and universities have done in the last few years about trying to set up positions or offices within the university setting, many of them have set up something to do with the mission of the university being a Catholic institution.”
Referring to a recent Boston College study, Powell said that over the past decade more than half of the over 220 Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S. have set up a “mission unit” on Catholic identity.
“That probably means that they are taking their Catholicity quite seriously and are figuring out ways of putting it into practice.”
Asked whether more guidance is necessary, she reported that the application of “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” in the U.S. is supposed to be reviewed in upcoming years. “There will be some dialogue among bishops and Catholic university presidents to see if there needs to be more detail in the application.”
Vatican City, May 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
"The conversion of the world to Christ is not something we produce, but something given to us," the Holy Father told representatives of the Pontifical Mission Societies on Friday morning. Evangelization, he underscored, is reliant on the work of the Holy Spirit and needs missionaries "with their hands raised towards God."
On Friday morning, the Holy Father met with members of the Superior Council of the Pontifical Mission Societies on the final day of their Ordinary Assembly in Rome, which has been in session since Monday.
The Pope remarked to them that the mission of evangelization is "immense," especially today when "humanity suffers a certain lack of reflection and wisdom" and a God-excluding humanism has become so widespread.
"For this reason, it is urgently necessary to illuminate emerging problems with the unchanging light of the Gospel," Benedict XVI said.
Referring to the preaching of the Word of God as an "inestimable service the Church can offer to all of humanity," he described evangelization as "the call to liberty of the children of God” as well as a plea “for the construction of more just and united society to prepare us for eternal life."
Pope Benedict noted that the person who participates in Christ's mission "must inevitably face trials, contrasts and suffering because they clash with the powers of this world." Following St. Paul's example, "persecution is also proof of the authenticity of our apostolic mission," he explained.
Facing the daunting task of such a mission is possible, he added, through the work of the Holy Spirit, which "unites and preserves the Church, giving her the force to expand, filling the disciples of Christ with an overflowing wealth of charisms.
"It is from the Holy Spirit that the Church's announcement and apostolic ministry receive authority."
And, for this reason, continued Pope Benedict, "evangelization needs Christians with their arms raised to God in prayer, Christians aware that conversion of the world to Christ is not something we produce, but something given to us."
Present at the audience were consecrated and lay members of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples including its prefect Cardinal Ivan Dias. The cardinal gave an address outlining the results of the congregation's meetings, underscoring that "we are further convinced that the effectiveness of our evangelizing activity depends solely on the potency of the Holy Spirit, and on the testimony of life that must accompany the announcement of the Kingdom of God."
Vatican City, May 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI addressed the role of the faithful in politics during an audience with members of the Pontifical Council for Laity on Friday. Not only are true Christian politicians needed for true societal and political change, he said, but a greater need exists for the laity to exercise their influence in the social and political realms.
The audience with the Pope took place with members of the council, led by its president Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko. They council is currently holding its 24th Plenary Assembly, which is focused on "Witnesses of Christ in the Political Community."
Developing on the theme of the three-day assembly, the Holy Father said that it's in the hands of the faithful to provide a concrete witness to the faith in the social, cultural and political spheres. They must witness to the fact "that the faith enables them to read reality in a new and profound way, and to transform it," he said.
The lay faithful participating in political life must act "in a manner coherent with the teaching of the Church," said the Holy Father, as they bring solid reasoning and "great ideals" into the democratic debate.
Their presence should be made known by their efforts to build a consensus among those who defend life and freedom, protect truth and good in families, assist those in need and seek the common good, the Pontiff explained.
It's a "demanding challenge," he noted, referring to the situation of present day democracy, which is weakened by "the spread of a confused cultural relativism, and of a utilitarian and hedonistic individualism" that "favors the dominance of strong powers."
In light of this, "There is a need for authentically Christian politicians but, even more so, for lay faithful who bear witness to Christ and the Gospel in the civil and political community."
The Pope further explained that, although the "technical formation of politicians" is not part of the Church's mission, she reserves the right to "pass moral judgment in those matters which regard public order when the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls require it."
He invited the action of all Christians to "recover and reinvigorate authentic political wisdom, to be demanding in what concerns our own sphere of competency, to make discriminating use of scientific research, and to face reality in all its aspects, going beyond any kind of ideological reductionism or utopian dream."
We must "show we are open to true dialogue and collaboration ... never forgetting that the contribution of Christians can be decisive only if knowledge of faith becomes knowledge of reality, the key to judgment and transformation.
"What is needed is a true 'revolution of love,'" he remarked.
Pope Benedict concluded by inviting the new generations to take part in political life with "a commitment founded not on their ideologies or the interests of a few, but on their choice to service man and the common good, in the light of the Gospel."
Vatican City, May 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Christian roots of Europe can “inspire a new humanism,” said the Holy Father on Thursday evening at the concert given as a gift to him by the Orthodox Church of Russia. Europe, he said, needs to "return its soul not only to believers, but to all peoples of the continent."
The concert for Pope Benedict took place in the Vatican, and included works from 19th and 20th century Russian composers as well as a piece called "Song of the Ascension" written by Metropolitan Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox representative present at the concert.
The event was a gift from Patriarch Kirill I to Benedict XVI for his 83rd birthday and fifth anniversary as Pope, which were both observed in April.
The Holy Father welcomed the concert graciously, expressing his "profound gratitude" for the patriarch's gift and saying that music "anticipates and in some way creates encounter, dialogue and synergy between East and West, between tradition and modernity.”
John Paul II had an analogous vision of harmony and unity, Pope Benedict said, recalling his image of the “two lungs” of Europe. Pope John Paul II “hoped for a renewed awareness of the continent's profound and shared cultural and religious roots, without which today's Europe would be deprived of a soul or, at least, be the victim of a reduced and partial vision,” the Holy Father said.
Looking at the situation today, the Pope observed that contemporary culture, particularly in Europe, now “runs the risk of amnesia," of abandoning its "extraordinary heritage" which was "aroused and inspired" by the Christian faith which is its framework.
He remembered the role of cultural and artistic heritage in the Christian traditions in Europe, noting also that the faith has animated and inspired cultures and arts.
Even now "such roots are alive and fruitful in East and West," he pointed out.
These Christian roots, he said, "can in fact inspire a new humanism, a new season of authentic human progress in order to respond effectively to the numerous and sometimes crucial challenges that our Christian communities and societies have to face: first among them that of secularism, which not only impels us to ignore God and His designs, but ends up by denying the very dignity of human beings, in view of a society regulated only by selfish interests.”
“Let us again let Europe breathe with both lungs, restore a soul not only to believers, but to all peoples of the continent, promote trust and hope, rooting them in the millennial experience of the Christian faith!” exclaimed Benedict XVI.
In a message to the Pope on the occasion, Patriarch Kirill I called it “an event of great importance in the history of cultural exchanges between our Churches,” adding that music “gives us the possibility to communicate with our hearts.”
During a press conference on Wednesday, Kirill I's representative to the Holy See for the "Days of Russian Culture and Spirituality in the Vatican," Metropolitan Hilarion, told reporters that a much anticipated meeting between the leaders of the Russian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches is "possible."
Brasilia, Brazil, May 21, 2010 (CNA) - Brazilian Congresswoman Fatima Pelaes shared her personal testimony on the floor of the Brazilian House of Representatives during a vote on a measure that would protect the unborn from abortion. She told lawmakers that her mother was a victim of rape and decided to let her live rather than kill her through abortion. “I was born after a rape, I cannot support abortion!” she exclaimed.
On Wednesday, Brazil’s House of Representatives passed the measure that grants legal protection to the unborn. It now will go before the Senate.
The Defense of Life Movement (DLM) in Porto Alegre said that during the vote on the measure, Pelaes took the podium and told her story. Her mother was the victim of rape while she was in a co-ed prison. At first she wanted to get an abortion, but she ended up deciding to keep her baby.
When she finished her remarks, DLM reported that “Everyone was moved and in tears. Representative Arnaldo Faria took the podium and asked for a response that would match the testimony by Fatima Pelaes. ‘My colleagues, after this testimony, how can we not support the life of the unborn?’”
The DLM urged Brazilians to continue to pressure their lawmakers as the measure prepares to go before the entire Senate.
Cordoba, Argentina, May 21, 2010 (CNA) - The bishops of the province of Cordoba in Argentina have reiterated the Catholic Church’s rejection of changes to the law that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, saying such unions “lack the biological and anthropological elements proper to marriage and the family. The conjugal dimension and openness to the transmission of life is absent from them.”
Echoing the statements made by the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina from April 20, the Cordoba bishops said, “Public officials have the duty to protect marriage between a man and a woman through law, in order to safeguard and support its irreplaceable role and contribution to the common good of society.”
“Marriage and the family founded upon it provide a home for new human generations. From their conception, children have the inalienable right to develop in the womb of their mothers, to be born and to grow in the natural environment of marriage. In family life and in the relationship with their fathers and mothers, children discover their own identity and achieve personal autonomy.”
The bishops urged lawmakers to take into account these fundamental truths for the good of the country and its future generations as they vote on such a gravely important issue. They also called on Catholics to offer special prayers on Sunday’s Feast of the Holy Trinity, “that these truths be recognized and protected in our country, and thus that the Lord will bless the future we long for in the context of this Bicentennial with the fullness of his love.”
Barcelona, Spain, May 21, 2010 (CNA) - The organization Professionals for Ethics in Spain has sent 23 new requests to the Catalonia regional government from students who want to be exempted from the school course Education for the Citizenry (EPC). According to the organization, some 1,200 requests have been filed in Catalonia.
Ramon Novella, president of Professionals for Ethics in Catalonia, said, “With this act we wish to reiterate the defense of the right of parents to educate their children according to their convictions, a fundamental right attacked by Education for the Citizenry, which does not respect the convictions of parents.”
He added that there are a number of lawsuits against the course still waiting to be decided in court.
Novella also revealed that the Socialist government is planning to launch what will be called Education for the Citizenry II: obligatory sex-education in all schools, based on the “educational” guidelines of the new law on abortion.
"This is a new battle that parents are not going to stop fighting in defense of their freedoms and rights," Novella said as he called on parents to continue opposing EPC and any future sexual indoctrination by the government.
Washington D.C., May 21, 2010 (CNA) - When the U.S. bishops' conference announced on May 19 that it was withdrawing its membership in a civil rights coalition, it cited the group's backing of Elena Kagan's nomination to the Supreme Court and positions that do not reflect the values of the conference as reasons for leaving. According to the Catholic Advocate, those positions involve advocacy for abortion and same-sex "marriage."
Although the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) cited the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights' (LCCR) support of Supreme Court nominations as a significant factor in why it severed ties with the group, Catholic Advocate, which first broke the story, said that LCCR was also a known supporter of abortion and same-sex “marriage.”
“We applaud the USCCB for their commitment to human rights and for taking this opportunity to underscore the most basic human right – life itself,” said Deal Hudson, director of Catholic Advocate in a statement on Thursday.
The U.S. bishops announced the split with LCCR on Wednesday, with Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre writing that the “interests of the leadership conference and those of the USCCB have diverged as the LCCR has moved beyond advocacy of traditional civil rights to advocacy of positions which do not reflect the principles and policies of the bishops' Conference.”
Bishop Murphy chairs the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Peace.
“Catholic Advocate applauds the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for withdrawing their membership from groups with positions that contradict the Catholic Church,” Hudson added in his statement. “We hope that more Catholic organizations follow the USCCB's example and dispel any possible confusion about their protection of life and the defense of marriage.”
Vatican City, May 21, 2010 (CNA) -
Lourdes, France is this weekend's destination for thousands of military personnel and their families who will participate in the 2010 International Military Pilgrimage. Since 1958, the Shrine has seen soldiers from all over the world come in peace to venerate Mary.
The tradition of the International Military Pilgrimage (IMP) to the French Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes began in 1958, after what was initially a regional pilgrimage and later national pilgrimage was made international to officially recognize the many NATO soldiers that had been arriving.
This year's 52nd pilgrimage takes place from May 21-23 and, according to organizers, will see nearly 12,000 pilgrims. An American outfit is represented in addition to 36 other delegations from as far away as Australia and Kenya and one formed of UN-mandated troops based in Kosovo.
Pilgrimage organizer and French military ordinary, Bishop Luc Ravel, spoke of the event saying that “the encounter brings with it the will of every military man of the world to work together for peace, the final good that we all seek. Also for a soldier, the use of weapons isn't the only way to promote peace between nations or within a people.”
“It's the conjugation of the force of weapons and the support of prayer that give the militaryman the dynamism and the openness to aim one day to achieve the good of peace,” he added, “without which the other 'goods' are reduced and eventually disappear.”
Major events planned for the three-day stay in the foothills of the French Alps, which will involve all military personnel, include a parade on Friday, adoration in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary on Saturday and Mass in the Basilica of St. Pius X on Sunday before the group formation and farewell on the esplanade. Many other activities are set to take place within the individual national representations and languages.
Vatican Radio reported on Friday that Italy had sent 4,000 soldiers to Lourdes for the occasion, while on Thursday L'Osservatore Romano made note of a 15-member Swiss Guard contingent. Many soldiers will be staying in tent camps in the mountains during the pilgrimage.