Madrid, Spain, May 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The official song for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid was recently selected. The song, composed by Father Enrique Castro, with lyrics by Auxiliary Bishop Cesar Franco of Madrid, will debut on November 9 on the feast of Our Lady of Almudena at the Cathedral of Madrid.
It will then be released online.
The seven verses of the hymn refer to Christ’s closeness to young people through his humanity. It was composed based on the WYD 2011 theme, “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith,” taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
The song will be translated into the official languages of WYD and be recorded in three different versions: a liturgical one, an instrumental one for large choirs; and a contemporary version for guitar.
CNA STAFF, May 27, 2010 (CNA) - Two canon lawyers have weighed in on an attempt to sue the Vatican for sexual abuse by a priest, saying it misconstrues the nature of the Catholic Church and the relationship between the Pope and other Catholic bishops. It is based on the misperception of the Church as a “monolithic” structure, one said.
The lawsuit, named Doe v. Holy See, was filed in 2002 on behalf of a man who claimed he was sexually abused by a priest in Oregon in the mid-1960s. The priest had previously been accused of abusing children in Ireland and Chicago.
The Holy See was one of the defendants named in the suit, which argues that the Vatican should be held accountable for moving the priest to Oregon where he conceivably could have continued to abuse.
One of the claims of the lawsuit is that the relationship of a Catholic bishop to the Pope is like that of an agent or employee to an employer. If upheld in court, the claim would help invalidate the Holy See’s claim to sovereign immunity in the case.
CNA discussed the lawsuit via e-mail with Fr. Gerald Murray, a canon lawyer and pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in New York City.
He said the two important issues for the case were whether the U.S. courts will “continue to disregard” the sovereign immunity of the Holy See and whether the Holy See is responsible for “individual priest personnel decisions of dioceses and religious orders.”
He said a judicial failure to uphold the Vatican’s sovereign immunity would be “a monumental intrusion” upon the powers of the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government.
“On the actual contention in this case, it is patently absurd to hold the Holy See responsible for individual decisions regarding the assignment of priests by dioceses and religious orders. No such responsibility is foreseen in canon law and has never been the actual practice,” commented Fr. Murray.
“The responsibility for such decisions rests in canon law with the diocesan bishop or the religious superior. This is based on Catholic doctrine concerning the exercise of hierarchical authority in the Church."
In a Tuesday phone call, CNA also received comment on the case from J.D. Flynn, a canon lawyer who is vice-chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver.
Acknowledging that some bishops and priests are indeed employees or agents of the Holy See, like those working at Vatican Congregations or serving as papal nuncios, Flynn said ordinarily they are “absolutely not” such figures.
“We often think of the church as being one monolithic structure. It starts in the Vatican, and goes all the way down to parochial vicar or deacon in the parish.
“Actually that’s not true. That’s not our ecclesiology.”
He stated that the Catholic Church is a “confederation” of many particular churches, referred to as dioceses or local churches.
“Those local churches have a fraternal relationship with one another, and a filial relationship with the Diocese of Rome. But they exist legally apart from each other.”
Asked to what extent a bishop is responsible for a priest’s actions under canon law, he noted that priests always have a relationship to a larger body, such as a diocese or a religious institute.
The person with ordinary authority over the priest is the one who assigns, removes, or punish him as warranted.
CNA then asked Flynn if he knew of other cases of people trying to sue the Vatican.
Noting that there have been “any number of frivolous lawsuits,” he said two interesting points in this case concern firstly, technical issues about the laws of sovereignty, and secondly, peoples’ perception of the Vatican’s direct responsibility.
The charge that the Holy See has been negligent in not directly overseeing diocesan bishops ignores “the distinct theological, ecclesiological, and juridic identity of a diocese,” he claimed.
“The Catholic Church is often attacked for being this kind of huge, monolithic structure. Ordinarily we try to say that’s not what or who we are. This is a perfect example of cultural misperception of the Catholic Church, coming now into the legal forum,” Flynn explained.
The U.S. solicitor general’s office has submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals misapplied the Sovereign Immunities Act in allowing the suit to proceed. The act governs when U.S. courts can hear cases against other countries.
Washington D.C., May 27, 2010 (CNA) - Following calls for a federal probe into U.S. funding to support Kenya’s proposed constitution, which would permit abortions in the country, investigations suggest that the funds used may have totaled over $10 million instead of the $2 million initially suspected. One congressman called the funding “a clear violation of federal law.”
Earlier this month three leading U.S. congressmen made public a letter requesting a federal probe into whether the Obama administration broke federal laws by promoting a proposed Kenyan constitution that “radically” changes abortion policy.
The Siljander Amendment, annually included in the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act, prohibits lobbying for or against abortion using the funds made available in the act.
Initial reports said that the Obama administration had pledged $2 million to help promote the new constitution.
However, in a May 26 press release one of the Congressmen, Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey), said he has learned from investigators that U.S. taxpayer expenditures in support of the Kenyan proposal “may exceed $10 million – five times the level we originally expected.”
“This massive spending will undoubtedly be directed to those entities that are pressing for ratification of the proposed constitution,” he continued.
“Such support will further enable passage of a constitution that is opposed by many pro-life leaders in Kenya, because it enshrines new rights to abortion. As such, the funding is a clear violation of federal law against use of U.S. taxpayer funds to lobby for or against abortion,” Rep. Smith charged.
According to the Congressman, the new information about the size of the funding gives “even more urgency” to the request for investigations into all U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) activities related to the proposal.
“I hope that all investigative agencies will take our request seriously and act swiftly in this matter,” commented Smith.
The Catholic bishops of Kenya have said the proposed constitution is “fundamentally flawed” because it paves the way for abortion on demand and also specially recognizes Muslim civil courts.
At present Kenyan law allows abortion only to save the life of the mother. The proposed new constitution would allow abortion in cases where health care professionals believe a mother’s “health” is endangered, an exception which has been broadly interpreted in many countries.
The bishops have called for the removal of the clause from the draft constitution.
Kingston, Jamaica, May 27, 2010 (CNA) - Reacting to deadly violence between security forces and armed supporters of a local drug lord in Jamaica, the Archbishop of Kingston has said most of the country is calm but well-paid gunmen will continue to skirmish with authorities. He noted in an interview that he has asked all priests and religious in the archdiocese to pray the traditional St. Michael the Archangel prayer.
At least 49 have died in Jamaica’s capital after a Monday police assault on an alleged drug lord’s stronghold in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood resulted in gun battles in the streets. According to Vatican Radio, soldiers and police stormed the slum in search of Christopher “Dudus” Coke.
Coke’s extradition is sought by the United States on charges of cocaine trafficking and gun-running.
“This country is under siege, and the time has come where it is going to be dealt with and this government is ready to deal with it,'' Information Minister Daryl Vaz said in a nationwide address, according to the Miami Herald.
Archbishop Donald James Reece told Vatican Radio that there is much tension in the area under attack but the rest of the country is “relatively calm.” He voiced concern that the violence could spread to other areas.
“I have communicated to all of our priests, religious and deacons to try and maintain calm, to pray the traditional St. Michael the Archangel prayer,” he reported.
According to the archbishop, the Council of Churches has come out with a statement that the prime minister is no longer able to lead because his credibility has been damaged by “untruths” surrounding the United States’ extradition request for the known drug dealer.
The Jamaican government had claimed for months that the wiretaps cited by the U.S. were illegal, but Prime Minister Bruce Golding abruptly changed his mind on the issue last week.
Vatican Radio asked the archbishop how the Church is involved in helping those affected by drug abuse and drug-related crime.
“We are the only Church that has residence in the conflict area. As a result our men are respected there. We have programs for the ordinary people who live there. The priests who live there are the safest because the gunmen will not bother them, because they identify them as people from their area who give service to them at all times,” he answered.
Archbishop Reece said he has heard that the young men involved in the violence are being paid as much as 100,000 Jamaican dollars ($1,100) per day. He called this “a tidy sum” for them to fight “to the end.”
“That means that they will not capitulate to the security forces, so it could drag on to the bitter end for another week or so,” he lamented.
The security forces are concerned about garrisons in other areas that “tend to be a law unto themselves.” Security forces will target these after the present violence is ended, the archbishop believed.
Allegany, N.Y., May 27, 2010 (CNA) - Police are investigating the theft of a marble statue of St. Michael the Archangel from the gravestone of a U.S. Marine in Allegany, New York.
The family of former Marine Corporal David Woods, who died in May 2008, had chosen the marble statue of St. Michael because he is patron saint of the military.
The Olean Times Herald reports that the statue was stolen from St. Bonaventure Cemetery sometime between Saturday and Sunday. It depicts the archangel holding a gray metal sword and stepping on Lucifer’s head. It is between three and four feet tall and valued at $2,500.
A replica from Italy, the statue had been blessed by a Catholic priest. The thief or thieves broke the object from its base.
Diane Hendrix, Woods’ sister, told WIVB News that her whole family, including Woods’ 97-year-old grandmother, had pooled their money to buy the statute.
"One of the things he was most proud of was being a Marine and serving his country. So it was just natural that we got a statue of St. Michael the Archangel who was the patron saint of the military."
"It was such a comforting symbol of what he had accomplished in his life, and our faith."
New York State Police are investigating the theft.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 27, 2010 (CNA) - The Diocesan Congress on the Family in Mar del Plata, Argentina, last weekend underscored the need to recover the authentic meaning of love as the key to building stable and lasting marriages.
According to the Press Office of the Diocese of Mar del Plata, the congress brought together 800 representatives from the diocese’s parishes, movements and schools.
During his remarks, Bishop Juan Puiggari of Mar del Plata said that although “the relativistic and secularist culture” of today “very seriously affects the family,” he emphasized the family's importance for society, saying that this is the “time of the family.”
The bishop went on to outline a series of elements that must be taken into account in order to restore the family, such as the “recovery of the religious dimension and value of Sunday; educating in the truth; creating avenues of dialogue; and especially not condemning the world of young people, but rather entering into it; spreading love through a spirit of solidarity, understanding and forgiveness.”
Mexico City, Mexico, May 27, 2010 (CNA) - In a joint statement, both the Mexican bishops and the Archdiocese of Mexico City affirmed that there is not a dispute between the two about how the country’s 2010 census is collecting data on religious affiliation, despite speculation by some “ill-intentioned voices."
The relationship between the two entities “is very favorable,” the statement said pointing to a May 23 article in Desde la fe, to prove their agreement in questioning “the methodology used by the National Institute for Statistics and Geography to gather information about the religions professed by Mexicans.”
Last week, 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.
Local media reported that the archdiocese supported a boycott of the census.
However, due to the controversy, the Secretary General of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference was able to meet with government officials and express concern over the census. The census workers noted that the religious affiliation question would be “open” instead of offering specific options.
In the recent statement, the bishops and archdiocese expressed the Church’s desire that Mexicans collaborate with the census, calling it a “valuable tool for the development of Mexico.”
Madrid, Spain, May 27, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - Bishop Atilano Rodriguez of Ciudad Real in Spain urged Catholics this week not to shy away from their responsibilities in defending life, the family and the common good during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Worldwide Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (WUCWO).
“The human being should be the path of the Church and her priority in the future,” Bishop Rodriguez said, underscoring that the value of the human being “does not change” despite the “rapid social, political and religious changes” of society. “The human being must be the center and apex of all that exists on the earth,” he said.
For this reason, he urged Catholics to work against “all forms of social, cultural, racial, economic and religious discrimination” because, in his opinion, such discrimination leads to “the division and humiliation of the human family.”
Bishop Rodriguez recognized that the Church and society are “deeply indebted to women” for their contribution “to the humanization of the world.” “We must thank them for spreading the Gospel. Today there are many women who are authentic apostles, true evangelists,” he added.
During the celebration, women from the WUCWO said their first priority in recent years has been the struggle against the sexual exploitation of women. They pledged to provide to women, especially to immigrants, the necessary resources to help them to avoid the hands of exploitation networks.
Founded in 1910, the WUCWO represents today some 100 organizations of Catholic women around the world. Its mission is to promote the presence, participation and co-responsibility of Catholic women in society and in the Church so that they can fulfill their mission of evangelization and work for human development.
Rome, Italy, May 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Hildebrand Project commenced its 2010 International Conference exploring Dietrich von Hildebrand's philosophy of love at Rome's Pontifical University of the Holy Cross on Thursday.
"This is the largest Hildebrand conference ever convened," John Henry Crosby, the young director of the Hildebrand Project, told CNA. "I think for a forgotten figure to have this much attention, finally, after so many years of general neglect ... to have this sort of attention right in the heart of Rome, that's exciting to me."
"The Christian Personalism of Dietrich von Hildebrand: Exploring His Philosophy of Love" is the title of the May 27-29 conference that has drawn participants from every continent , including non-Catholics, to Holy Cross. Crosby added that he thinks the diverse nationalities of the participants is one of the most important aspects of the conference.
The feat of gathering 300 people for a conference on von Hildebrand was so great, Crosby said, that “It's almost like the people being here matters more than what's said, they're here united by an interest and they're enthusiastic and hopefully they'll take it home."
For Crosby, the highlights of the first day's events included the fact that two people who knew von Hildebrand, Josef Seifert and Michael Waldstein, gave talks and a third who "never met him but knows him well," Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione, "energized the room" with his words on von Hildebrand's philosophy.
The Hildebrand Project director reflected on the conference's ability to bring together a variety of philosophical ideas, calling it "a milestone of intellectual relations within the Catholic world," which he hopes will result in the spread of von Hildebrand's ideas throughout the world.
To carry on the effects of the conference, Crosby said the Legacy Project has the goal of encouraging partner organizations to invite its speakers to give their talks again in other parts of the world. In that way, he said, the excitement wouldn't just be a "flash in the pan" but would be perpetuated.
The full texts of presenter's talks will all be published on the Hildebrand Project's website, which offers live feeds from Rome for the entire conference.
Speaking with CNA over lunch, John F. Crosby, the director's father and the chair of philosophy at Franciscan University of Steubenville, explained that the event was organized in part on "the idea that the richness of his thought is very little known and has been neglected for various reasons.
"So," he said, "the idea in founding the legacy project was to bring his work out of this state of neglect and not just to revive it among his students but to set it in dialogue with thinkers."
After some discussion at the dinner table, the elder Crosby and the philosophy professor Josef Seifert highlighted the merits of Hildebrand's legacy in his works on the defense of purity, chastity, and his thought on transformation in Christ.
The Hildebrand Project exists, said the elder Crosby, primarily to "retrieve" this philosophical work.
As "one of the greatest philosophers of love of all time," said Seifert, Hildebrand's works contribute to "a very new and much more human and phenomenological analysis of love and of marriage, and of human sexuality, also of its meaning in marriage.”
"I think he opened up to many young people and to many people (in general), a very new positive vision on these topics, thereby also, I think, like (Pope) Wojtyla, taking care to be one of the fathers of this new theology of the body."
Madrid, Spain, May 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Spanish daily, La Razon, published an analysis following the finale of the television series, “Lost,” which told the story of survivors of an airline crash on a mysterious island. The newspaper remarked that the series, which captivated millions of viewers for seven years, ended with a Catholic storyline.
In their article, reporters Mar Velasco and Pablo Gines pointed out that, “There are two kinds of fans of Lost: Those who believe its value lies in its plot, and those who believe it resides in its characters. For the former, the series finale was in a certain sense disappointing. Yes, the script writers could have resolved many questions that remained (and will remain) unanswered. However, for the latter, the series ended on a high note.”
The finale, they said, resolved “what was essential, what has to do with the human heart, with the meaning and value of life and the capacity to be ‘saved’.”
“At the critical moments of life, the ‘man of faith’ overcame the ‘man of science.’ The way was opened to the transcendental and, despite a certain … homage to all creeds (the stained-glass window with the symbols of all the religions), it did so in a Christian manner. It was not in vain that the Risen One awaited the ‘lost’ when they were about to reach the fullness found on the other side of a specifically Catholic chapel,” the reporters asserted.
In the last episode, the mysterious island was revealed as a real physical place “where the characters ‘were rescued’ from their frustrations and their past, although the price some paid would be their very lives (Locke, Jack). In Christianity, this ‘island’ is the physical world in which mankind journeys and Jesus Christ ‘redeems’ in the act of giving himself up on the cross,” the writers explained.
The last season of Lost was characterized “by the creation of what was thought to be a ‘parallel reality’ and that was, in the end, revealed to be a sort of ‘purgatory’ in which each person ‘re-created’ the life he or she would have liked to have lived in the world: Jack became a good son and father; Kate was innocent; Sawyer, a decent police officer; Benjamin became an affectionate professor … When they all ‘recognized’ and discovered that they were in this ‘purgatory,' for some, the door to resurrection and eternity (the ‘light’ at the other end of the chapel) was opened, while for others the purgatory continued because they still had issues to resolve (Ben, Eloise, Ana Lucia…).
Likewise, “Love was not only understood as ‘eros,’ possessive love, but as ‘agape,’ the love that seeks the good of the other: ‘Jack, I hope someone does for you what you’ve done for me'," Locke told him.
Another key element in this finale was forgiveness, which was featured in one of the most powerful scenes of the entire series: Locke, who has been murdered by Ben, encountered him shortly before entering eternity. ‘John, I’m really sorry for what I did to you. I was selfish and jealous, I wanted everything that you had.’ Locke responded, ‘If it’s of any help to you, Ben, I forgive you.’ ‘Thanks, John. That helps me. It means more to me than you can imagine’.”
The series ended with the sacrifice of the main character. “Jack offered his life to save the others. Never believing in the peculiarities of the island, he ends up understanding through another friend, Locke, who had to die in order to show him the way. It’s a sacrifice that, in the end, acquires all of its value and meaning.”
Rome, Italy, May 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - During an Italian bishops gathering that discussed pastoral guidelines for the upcoming decade and emphasized the theme of education, Pope Benedict focused intently on youth and stressed the importance of viewing education as a means of “forming new generations” so “that they may know how to relate to the world.”
The Holy Father also commented on the upcoming end of the Year for Priests. Referencing the recently surfaced sex abuse scandals, he asserted that “the weaknesses and sin” of some members within the Church should not “make us forget the gratuitous and zealous service of many believers, first among them, priests.”
Pope Benedict gave his remarks at the Vatican's Synod Hall, meeting with participants of the general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), which is meeting from May 24 through 28 to discuss its general pastoral guidelines for 2010 – 2020.
“The Holy Spirit guides the Church in the world and in history,” the Pope said, beginning his address. “Thanks to this gift from the Risen One, the Lord remains present in the midst of historical events. It is through the Spirit that we can recognize the meaning of human vicissitudes in Christ.”
Speaking on the bishops' decision to concentrate on education over the coming decade, the Holy Father noted that the area of education calls on them to “take responsibility for the new generations with a united, integral and harmonious witness which helps us to think, propose and live the truth, beauty and goodness of the Christian experience.”
Looking at modern culture, Pope Benedict observed that “the dignity of the person, the value of life, and the very meaning of truth and goodness” are sometimes doubted and that often, “nothing beyond the individual is recognized as definitive.”
Given this situation, “it becomes arduous and difficult to present new generations with the 'bread' of truth' for which it is worth spending one's life and accepting, when necessary, the rigor of discipline and the fatigue of commitment,” he said.
“Though aware of the weight of these difficulties,” the Pontiff noted, “we cannot resign ourselves to lack of confidence and despair. Education has never been easy, but we must not surrender for we would fail in the mandate the Lord Himself entrusted to us when He called us to feed His sheep with love.”
“Education,” he stressed, “means forming new generations that they may know how to relate to the world, strengthened by a significant memory, by a shared inner patrimony of real knowledge which, while recognizing the transcendent goal of life, guides thoughts, emotions and judgments.”
“The inner thirst of the young is a call for meaning, for authentic human relationships which can help them not to feel alone in the face of life's challenges...Our response is to announce God, the friend of man Who in Jesus approached each one of us. The transmission of the faith is an indispensable part of the integral formation of the person...The personal meeting with Jesus is the key to understanding God's relevance in everyday life.”
The Pope went on to emphasize to the bishops that “the quality of our witness remains a decisive factor” in the obligation to educate families, schools and parishes.
Speaking on concept of “witness” and alluding to the recently surfaced clerical sex abuse scandals, the Holy Father asserted that the “weakness and sin” of some members of the Church “must not, however, make us forget the gratuitous and zealous service of many believers, first among them, priests.”
“The special year dedicated to the clergy has sought to be an opportunity to promote their interior renewal as a condition for more incisive evangelical and ministerial commitment,” he explained. “What gives rise to scandal must, for us, translate into a profound reminder of the need to re-learn penance and accept purification; to learn, on the one hand, forgiveness and, on the other, the need for justice.”
In his concluding remarks, Benedict XVI exhorted the bishops to “never to lose faith in the young.”
“Frequent all areas of life,” he urged, “including those of the new communications technologies which now permeate culture in all its expressions. It is not a question of adapting the Gospel to the world, but of drawing from the Gospel that perennial novelty which, in all times, enables us to find the best way to announce the Word that does not fail, fecundating and serving human life. Let us, then, again present the young with the exalted and transcendent measure of life as vocation.”