Archive of June 3, 2010

Holy Father's visit to Cyprus will promote peace, asserts nuncio

Rome, Italy, Jun 3, 2010 (CNA) - The Apostolic Nuncio to Cyprus, Archbishop Antonio Franco, said Pope Benedict XVI is visiting the country as “a missionary following the steps of St. Paul and Barnabas” and will promote "a new effort to bring to a positive conclusion the peace process and reunification of the island.”

In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the nuncio said the situation in the Middle East is of great concern to the Holy Father. “Cyprus represents, in miniature, the problems of the region: the co-existence of different religions, the relationship with Islam and territorial issues.”

From the ecumenical point of view, the nuncio said there is much hope that Pope Benedict’s visit will advance relations with the Orthodox, who are the religious majority on the island. “Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostom II has already expressed his satisfaction more than once,” and “he has repeatedly sought to understand the profound meaning of this trip which, while motivated not only by ecumenical reasons, will certainly bear fruit for the future development of dialogue.”

Archbishop Franco also referred to the enthusiastic expectations of Catholics ready to welcome the Pope: “Let’s be clear, this is a small community” of only 25,000 people from 12 parishes. “I think that thanks to the positive attitude of his Beatitude Chrysostom II, many Orthodox will also be present at the events with the Pope.”  The nuncio also underscored that Catholics and Orthodox have been working together to give the Pope “a decent reception.”

“The wait is very lively ... All are hoping that his visit brings an air of peace and a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation,” the nuncio concluded.

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Senate committee backs amendment to allow abortions at military hospitals

Washington D.C., Jun 3, 2010 (CNA) - Following the U.S. House of Representatives' vote in favor of an amendment to a bill that would lift a ban on abortions at military hospitals, the issue passed to a Senate committee on Tuesday who also backed the move.

Senator Roland Burris (D-Ill.) introduced an amendment to the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act that would repeal a ban on abortions being performed at military hospitals. Currently, the Department of Defense is forbidden from performing the procedure except in the cases of rape, incest, or for the health of the mother. Though the Senate Armed Services Committee approved the amendment in a 15 to 12 vote on Thursday, a full Senate vote on the issue has not been announced.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards praised the move on May 28, saying that the “vote repealing this discriminatory and dangerous ban is the first step to ensuring that servicewomen can use their own private money for abortion care when they are serving overseas.”

“Every woman honorably serving our country in the U.S. military and the spouses of military personnel stationed around the world deserve access to the full range of reproductive health care available to women in the United States,” she added.

However, in a statement on Tuesday, Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, denounced the amendment, saying that if “the Burris language survives” a full Senate vote, “some of military's biggest civilian casualties will be the unborn.”

“Medical facilities would turn into abortion clinics funded entirely by U.S. taxpayers.” Referring to  period of time in the 1990's when the ban was temporarily lifted, Perkins explained that when “President Clinton allowed military abortions back in 1993, doctors refused to perform them.

Ultimately, the administration had to hire civilians to do the job.”

“With Americans more pro-life than ever, it will be difficult to find men and women willing to destroy the next generation of U.S. soldiers,” he asserted. “The military was meant to combat terrorism – not perpetrate it against the unborn.”

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Atlanta Eucharistic Congress expecting capacity crowd of 30,000

Atlanta, Ga., Jun 3, 2010 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Atlanta’s 15th annual Eucharistic Congress will take place this weekend, dedicated to the theme “To Sanctify the Christian People.” It will emphasize the “indelible link” between the Eucharist and the priesthood with the help of speakers and musicians.

The free event will take place on June 4 and 5 at the Georgia International Convention Center.

The theme comes directly from the prayer of ordination for priests, the Archdiocese of Atlanta explained in a press release.

“Since this is the Year for Priests, Archbishop Gregory wanted to stress the sanctifying work that the priests do,” said Deacon Dennis Dorner, chairman of the Eucharistic Congress steering committee, referring to Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton Gregory.

“What’s amazing about the congress is that it never feels routine. Every year there is so much energy and freshness,” Deacon Dorner continued.

Speakers at the Congress include Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley; Archbishop of Vancouver Michael Miller, a specialist on the papacy; and Allen Hunt, the creator of a nationally syndicated talk show and a former Methodist pastor who converted to Catholicism in 2008.

The Friday evening opening session will begin with a Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta Luis Zarama, followed by a healing service with Fr. Jack Durkin. The service will coincide with a live music event for young adults with an “unplugged” performance by rock musician Matt Maher.

A procession of the Blessed Sacrament will begin Saturday morning, followed by adoration and exposition.

Attendees can select from several tracks: general, deaf, Hispanic, Vietnamese, kid and teen.

Speakers for the general track include Deacon Dorner, Archbishop Miller, and Allen Hunt as well as Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Johnette Benkovic.

Juan Diaz, host of the Archdiocese of Atlanta “Nuestra Fe” radio program, will emcee the Hispanic track. Its speakers include Dr. Carmen Cervantes, Executive Director of Instituto Fe y Vida (Faith and Life Institute) and Ricardo Castanon-Gomez, President of the “Grupo Internacion para la Paz.”

Vietnamese speakers include Bishop Peter Tran Dinh Tu of Phu Cuong and Fr. Joseph Nguyen Van Thinh, a theology professor who is pastor of Vinh Sơn Parish in Vietnam.

Fr. Michael Medas, a long time advocate and minister for the deaf community, will be featured speaker for the deaf track, the Archdiocese of Atlanta reports.

Deacon Dorner said he imagines that the numbers of attendees will be equal to the last several years where up to 30,000 attendees “maxed out capacity.”

“The popularity has to do with Catholics’ love and devotion to Jesus Christ, real and present in the Eucharist,” he commented.

The official website of the Congress is at

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Fate of Catholics United petition to Cardinal O'Malley uncertain

Boston, Mass., Jun 3, 2010 (CNA) - The pro-Obama group Catholics United decided last week to take another step to deliver a petition signed by some 5,000 people to the Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, but its fate remains uncertain. The petition requests that the archdiocese allow the enrollment of children from gay couples in Catholic schools without any limitations or vetting process.

Catholics United announced a petition drive two weeks ago that demanded Cardinal O'Malley "not to allow discrimination in his Catholic schools on the basis of the lifestyles of students' parents." 

The group announced that the petition was delivered almost immediately after St. Paul Elementary School in Hingham, Mass. denied admission to an 8-year-old boy being raised by a lesbian couple.

But despite the public announcement of the delivery, the official archdiocesan newspaper The Pilot reported that the Catholics United petition never reached the archdiocese.

After the non-delivery was made public, Catholics United, which is based in Washington D.C., requested three of its members living in Boston (Joe Betz, Phil George and Larry Kessler) to personally deliver the signatures to the archdiocesan offices and take pictures of themselves at the entrance of Boston’s pastoral center.

In a press release sent to CNA, James Salt said that Catholics United members expressed their concerns “to an archdiocesan canon lawyer, who agreed to present the petition to Cardinal O'Malley on their behalf.”

Salt sent the press release to CNA from a Blackberry “powered by CREDO Mobile,” a company  that trumpets its support for progressive causes and has donated over 65 million dollars to organizations such as Planned Parenthood and Greenpeace.

The statement added that Catholics United "will continue to circulate its petition until the archdiocese adopts a clear non-discrimination policy for its Catholic schools."

Nevertheless, the effectiveness of Catholics United's pressure campaign remains in doubt.

Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications of the Archdiocese of Boston, informed CNA on May 28 that he is in possession of the petition to Cardinal O'Malley.

In response to a question about what influence the petition might have on the forthcoming policy, Donilon said that “the recent statements by the Cardinal and Dr. Grassa O’Neill addressing the matter noted that we expect a policy to be established in the near term in order to provide guidance for pastors and schools going forward.” 

“We hope to be able to report on the progress of this effort in the weeks ahead.”

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Catholic bishop murdered by his assistant in Turkey

Ankara, Turkey, Jun 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, was reportedly stabbed to death in Iskendurun, Turkey on Thursday by his driver, who also served as his aide.

According to Italy's ANSA news agency, Turkish police have detained the alleged killer and have not yet established a motive.

Apostolic Nuncio to Turkey, Archbishop Antonio Lucibello told the news agency that "from what I've learned, Bishop Padovese's driver, Murat, admitted his responsibility. It's strange because I've always seen this man as a very devoted person to Padovese and always obliging."

Fr. Federico Lombardi said through Vatican Radio that the "terrible" news of the loss of the president of Turkish bishops "leaves us deeply shocked" and "desperately sorry."

He remembered the bishop for his "great merits" in providing a witness to the Church's life in spite of difficulty in Turkey.

Bishop Padovese, a member of the Capuchin order, had been the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia since 2004 after working in Rome for over a decade.

He "was a courageous person dedicated to the Gospel," said Fr. Lombardi, and his death, "which spontaneously brings to mind that of Santoro, shows us how the Church's witness in certain situations, may even be paid in blood ."

Fr. Santoro was killed four years ago in a church in Trabzon, Turkey while praying.

The Vatican spokesman said that while the circumstances and motives surrounding the killing must be investigated to better understand what happened, regardless, his remains "a life donated for the Gospel.

"This fact, on the eve of a papal trip towards the Middle East, to encourage the Christian communities living in this region, lends an extraordinary intensity, helping us to profoundly understand the urgent need for the solidarity of the universal Church to support these Christian communities.”

Bishop Padovese was planning on going to Cyprus tomorrow to meet with the Holy Father and receive the working document for the coming Special Assembly of Middle Eastern Bishops in October.

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Guatemalan bishop calls for solidarity with victims of tropical storm

Guatemala City, Guatemala, Jun 3, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Victor Hugo Palma of Escuintla in Guatemala urged Catholics to offer assistance to those impacted by Tropical Storm Agatha and the country's volcanic eruption in San Vicente. “We are all called to offer as little or as much as we can” to help those who have lost everything.

“I call on the leaders of our parish social ministries to take action and I thank the diocesan Caritas office as well as the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, for his moving message of closeness over the catastrophe in Guatemala.”  The prelate also expressed gratitude to “the archdiocesan Caritas office for its help especially for those affected by the eruption of the San Vicente Pacaya volcano.”

Bishop Palma urged Guatemalans to turn the Lord in these difficult times in which natural disasters have struck a country already suffering from social ills.

Societal and family problems, he recalled, are “caused by human evil which is the fruit of sin.”  “They also bring tears to our eyes and afflict us to the point that we recognize" not only the "urgent need to rebuild” following the natural disasters, but also the necessity of creating “an environment respecting life and the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death,” he said.

The bishop called on Guatemalans to look to the Word of God, “which acts as lamp unto our feet amidst the suffering of our brothers and sisters.  It ignites our faith, which in difficult times turns into hope and strength.”

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Archbishop Dolan reflects on abuse scandal in Irish Catholic Church

Maynooth, Ireland, Jun 3, 2010 (CNA) - Marking the closing of the Year for Priests, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York gave a keynote address at an Irish bishops' seminar, where he reflected on the recently surfaced clerical abuse cases within the Irish Church and exhorted priests to be “grounded” in humility.

Archbishop Dolan was named a member of the Apostolic Visitation to the Church in Ireland on May 31 and has been tapped to work along with the Congregation for Catholic Education in examining centers of priestly formation, including the Irish College in Rome.

The archbishop made his remarks on the crisis within the Irish Church last Thursday at a seminar co-hosted by the Irish Bishops' Conference and Saint Patrick's College in Maynooth in honor of the upcoming closing of the Year for Priests.

In his address titled “God is the only treasure people desire to find in a priest,” Archbishop Dolan underscored the importance of priests being grounded in humility, rooted in holiness and more concerned with their identity as “being” fathers rather than “doing” numerous administrative tasks effectively.

Opening his remarks by referencing the clerical abuse cases that occurred within the country in years past, the New York prelate said, “I stand before you no guru or expert, no acclaimed theologian or renowned mystic.”

“I am hardly some 'know-it-all-Yankee' here to lecture you on how-you-got-into-or-how-to-get-out-of-the current crisis you are in, ‘cause I don’t know.”

Rather, he added, “I stand before you simply as a man who loves being a priest, and who loves to talk
about this love of his life with others kind enough to ask him about it.”

During his remarks, the archbishop spoke on how the clerical sex abuse crisis has called the Church to fall “on her knees in prayer” and to be “grounded” in humility. “What both are exhorting is that we priests recapture holiness,” he explained.

“God is the only treasure people desire to find in a priest,” he reiterated, saying that “as the philosophers remind us, Nemo dat quod non habet – no one gives what one does not have.”

“If priests are expected to give God, we better have Him – and that’s sanctity, holiness.”

This holiness, explained the prelate, is friendship and intimacy with Jesus. Quoting theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, Archbishop Dolan likened the priesthood to the Eucharist, saying that “Jesus takes us, blesses us, breaks us, and gives us.”

“Taking and blessing we can live with! Breaking and giving? Well, that’s another matter! What we’re talking about here is humility. What we’re talking about is the oblative dimension of the priesthood.”

In addition to priests needing to be “holy” and “humble,” they need to be “aware of their identity,” Archbishop Dolan said.

“Priesthood is not, first and foremost, something we do,” he underlined, “but someone we are.”

“The late, great John Paul II went hoarse teaching us that the priesthood is a dramatic, radical reordering of a man’s very life, his soul, his heart, his identity,” he noted, “and that we’re much better off looking at fathers and husbands for metaphors of priesthood than we are at professions.”

“When you think about it, Jesus much preferred the 'being' words to the 'do' words, didn’t He? Did He summon us to plan with Him? To organize with Him? To write strategic plans with Him? To draw up mission statements with Him? To work out with Him? To write job descriptions with Him?

“Jesus preferred being to having and doing,” the prelate stressed. “Not, to be sure, because doing, actions, ministry, service were not important, but because, unless what we do flows from who we are, we’re shallow, empty functionaries.”

“To those who wonder if holiness, humility and identity are a 'pollyannaish' ignoring of deep psychological turmoil in the priesthood,” he added, “as a matter of fact, holiness means wholeness, and wholeness means integrity, and a man of integrity hardly abuses our youth or overlooks the crimes of those who do.”

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Mass becomes 'perverted' when 'community celebrates itself,' laments Spanish cardinal

Lima, Peru, Jun 3, 2010 (CNA) -

During a conference in Peru this week, a Spanish cardinal expressed sadness over the fact that often, the Mass is “reduced to a mere banquet, a celebration of the community,” instead of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. He noted that “Worship becomes perverted when we have a celebration in which the community celebrates itself.”

The prelate added that the primary focus of the Mass should be God.

Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, made his remarks at the Eucharistic and Marian Congress taking place in Lima, Peru, earlier this week.

Speaking to some 2,000 participants at the event organized by the Archdiocese of Lima, Cardinal Canizares first emphasized that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the life of every Christian and that “the Church is the living and efficacious sacrament of union with God and unity among the entire human race.” This union, he said, “is only possible through participation in the Body of Christ. This is what happens in the Eucharist.”

“The Eucharist is only possible through the priesthood,” he added. “Consequently, the Church can exist only with priests.” 

“We priests are necessary not only so that the Church can function or be well organized or can teach doctrine,” the cardinal continued. “We are priests in order for there to be Eucharist. If we do not recover this, there will be no vocations. Consequently, what is at stake is the future.”

Cardinal Canizares also underscored the centrality of the sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist, saying that oftentimes, the Mass is “reduced to a mere banquet, a celebration of the community, a commemoration, but not the very sacrifice of Christ who gives himself up for us on the Cross.”

“Without this we can understand nothing about the Eucharist and we celebrate nothing more than ourselves,” he said.

“We have become secularized and convinced that everything has been the result of our own creativity,” the prelate remarked. However, what truly matters is that “we recognize the mystery, that the mystery be celebrated. We must remember God’s right. God tells us how the mystery, how the celebration should be carried out.”

After underscoring the spirit of renewal proposed by Vatican II, Cardinal Canizares noted that the council fathers placed a priority on liturgical renewal because “we cannot understand (the Vatican II document) Gaudium et Spes if our understanding is not based on the foundation for everything: the Eucharist.”
“There will not be a Gaudium et Spes Church if it is not a Sacrosantum Concilium Church,” he added. For this reason, the Pope has a great interest in the liturgy. For this reason, when renewal is understood merely in terms of changes to the rite, we do not understand anything that the Holy Father is telling us,” he added.

“Renewal does not mean a different puppet show every day,” the cardinal underscored. “It means making it possible to celebrate the mystery of faith that occurs. This renewal must express the entire reality of the mystery. Worship becomes perverted when we have a celebration in which the community celebrates itself.  The principle should be that God occupies the central place.”

The Spanish prelate noted that in Communion, it is not we who assimilate Christ, “but rather He who assimilates us unto himself,” and consequently we are pulled out of our individuality. “Thus the Eucharist takes on a social nature.”

“To celebrate the Eucharist is to bring about the renewal of society,” he said. “For this reason, renewing the sense of the Eucharist is what guarantees a future for the Church. This is the true danger for a humanity that does not acknowledge God.”

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Vatican expert says intolerance greeting Pope's efforts at unity with SSPX

Rome, Italy, Jun 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Commenting on the Pope's ongoing efforts to bring the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, Vatican writer Sandro Magister noted on Wednesday that some traditionalist groups have already "made their peace with Rome." However, because of his efforts, Pope Benedict has become “the target of intolerance,” Magister said.

After commenting on the criticism made about the Pope for his continued efforts to approach the SSPX, Magister referred to an article published in L'Osservatore Romano on May 11 by Fr. Giancarlo Rocca in which he recounted the work of the Ecclesia Dei Commission to bring various splinter groups back into the fold.

The article explains that the foundation of Ecclesia Dei by John Paul II in 1988 came about in response to episcopal ordinations carried out that same year by the founder of the SSPX, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.  The objective of the pontifical commission, wrote Fr. Rocca, was to bring those groups that split from SSPX at that point back into full communion.

Since then, more than 10 institutions have returned to Rome, including the formidable priestly fraternity of Saint Peter during the commission's first year. Listing the other examples, Rocca observed, "The progress made by 'Ecclesia Dei' in these nearly twenty-two years has been significant."

A "modest number" of institutes have been given the possibility of entering, with pontifical approval, while still following the traditional rite in the Church, related Fr. Rocca.

He also explained also that there are still many priests, religious, seminarians and faithful "under supervision" by the commission in the hope that they will also eventually reunite completely with the Church.

In his article, Sandro Magister provided a look at Pope Benedict XVI's efforts to bring the SSPX back into the Roman Catholic fold despite continued criticism for approaching dialogue at all.

Turning to a March 2009 letter sent to the world's bishops that explained the intention of lifting the excommunications of the four bishops illicitly ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre, Magister recalled how the Pope said he did it to call "those thus punished to repent and to return to unity." Pope Benedict also lamented the intolerance in the Church for both SSPX members and those who "dare to approach them."

Magister wrote Wednesday, "Benedict XVI himself is a target of this intolerance."

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American seminary soccer team falls short of Clericus Cup but savors growth

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

With their rabid fans looking on, the North American Martyrs came up short in their bid to upset the reigning champions of the Clericus Cup, a soccer tournament held every year between Rome's pontifical seminaries. Despite the 1-0 loss, the Martyrs took consolation in the strong team unity that marked the year and their work ethic.

As they prepared to face their rival Redemptoris Mater, the American seminarians meditated on the words of St. Paul:

"Every athlete exercises self-discipline in all things. They do it to get a crown of leaves that withers, but we for one that never withers. I, then, run in such a way so I'm not aimless. I fight in such a way so I'm not beating the air. Rather I knock out my body and enslave it, lest somehow, after preaching to others, I myself am proved unfit."

The "world cup of priests and seminarians," pitted defending champions Redemptoris Mater against the North American Martyrs from the Pontifical North American College (PNAC) for the second straight year.

This annual soccer tournament brings together 16 teams made up of seminarians, deacons and priests from the Pontifical Colleges around Rome to test their mettle in the battle for the cherished Clericus Cup.

Mentally and physically prepared, sharp from five months of twice-a-week practices and games on Saturdays and a greater focus on the prayer life of the team, the 25-strong American squad entered the game confident that this was their time to take home the trophy in front of the rabid PNAC fans, who were voted the best of the tournament.

Deacon Daniel O'Mullane, an assistant coach and player, was at the meeting four years ago where the team was proposed and remembers saying to the guys, "This is what our plan is, this is how we're going to play, this is who we are and this is what it's going to take to bring the cup home.

"At that point, everybody laughed at me and none of us, myself included, ever could have seen that we would be playing in two finals, back to back, in this tournament."

Leading up to the game, O'Mullane told CNA on Wednesday, they were riding a great year of progress on and off the field marked by a sense of fraternity and strengthened values of teamwork, discipline and fortitude.

"That's really what showed this year, we came together as a team."

So, Saturday's game (May 29), which marked the sixth time in four years the teams had met, was a heart-breaker when at the final whistle the score read 1-0 in favor of the Redemptoris Mater. Even more difficult to bear was that the Martyrs were beat for the fifth time by the same score, and it was in some part due to the performance of the same player that kept them from the goal last year.

The deacon said although no one is "happy" to have come up short, "in retrospect looking at where we've been able to come - from a group of guys that really had no idea what they were doing on a soccer field to really a viable soccer team, for us, it's an important accomplishment, it's something we can really look at with some sense of Christian pride."

Citing the importance of athletics to intellectual and spiritual formation, he hoped also that their work ethic on the pitch would be taken out into the world.

"Being able to take that off the field, I think, is to say that no matter what we are, no matter where we find ourselves, what work we're doing, what our apostolate might be, we have to work really hard no matter what we think our gifts are, to really give ourselves fully and really invest in what we're doing."

Deacon O'Mullane will be back next year, then as a priest, to take one more shot at the title and, perhaps, one more shot at redemption against the two-time defending champs.

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'Word game' being used to defend morning-after pill, warns Mexican doctor

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 3, 2010 (CNA) - Former president of the Medical Association for Life and member of the pro-Yucatan network, Gumersindo Vasquez Castillo, stated that promoters of the morning-after pill are using "resourceful linguistics" to promote the drug as non-abortive. He also noted that human life begins at conception.

Speaking to a local radio station, the doctor explained that the World Health Organization’s definition of "pregnancy" is "derived from the International Federation of Gynecology, whose understanding comes from an agreement by the American College of Gynecologists in 1934.” This group defined that a woman is pregnant when the embryo becomes implanted in the uterus.
“This happens seven days after a baby has been fertilized, which is to say that after these seven days, pregnancy begins, but not life. Life begins with the egg from the mother and the sperm from the father unite,” he explained. The doctor also mentioned that this “gimmick” is used by the promoters of the morning-after pill who say that the drug is not abortive as “pregnancy” has not yet begun.
"This is really just a word game. From conception, life has already begun and if we do something that ends this life, it is murder. The word is ugly, and for that reason, those who promote the drug utilize terms such as “terminate the pregnancy,” he said.
Vasquez Castillo, who has more than 20 years of medical experience, recalled that when a sperm joins with an egg, a new human being who is completely different from his father and mother is formed. "He is new, unique person, with his or her own identity which has never been and never will be repeated," he said.

The doctor warned that the morning-after pill works by cutting "the supply of food and nourishment that the baby needs, it strips the glycogen that lines the endometrial cavity which is where the baby would continue to grow.” He explained that “the baby is killed by starvation. He has nowhere to go inside the body of the mother and is thus expelled." 
"Doctors should not promote this product. A doctor is a person who promises to watch over and care for the health of all human beings. This is a product which not only kills a human being, but also causes damage to the women who receive it, though they may not know it," Vazquez Castillo affirmed. 

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Vatican paper publishes article on Pope's view of Vatican II

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2010 (CNA) - The Vatican daily L'Osservatore Roman (LOR) published an article this week on a meeting of the international theological and cultural review "Communio," which was founded 38 years ago by Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac and Joseph Ratzinger. The text highlights the Holy Father's perspective on the Second Vatican Council, its importance in the history of the Church in continuity with tradition and the concept of the ecclesiology of "communion" as it relates to "mission."

Today, notes the article's author theology professor Erio Castellucci, we have two hermeneutics—keys to its interpretation and application—which resulted from Vatican II. “They were defined by the Holy Father in his 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia as those 'of discontinuity and rupture' and of 'reform, renewal and continuity.'"

Castelluci recalls that on the occasion, Pope Benedict "took a position flatly in favor of the second."

The first hermeneutic, explained the Holy Father at the time, "risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless.”

"In a word," he said, "it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit."

The second hermeneutic, that of reform and continuity, Pope Benedict told the Curia, doesn't deny that discontinuity could emerge from within the great themes examined by the Council. But, he observed, "(i)t is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists."

Continuing, the Castellucci article carries out an analysis of some aspects of the ecclesiology of communion that is derived from the Second Vatican Council.

The theology professor observes "that the societal dimension makes up an essential, and not an accessory part of the Second Vatican Council, as the Council wished to outline, a communion founded not only on the horizontal harmony between the components of the Church, but on the trinitarian, christological and sacramental action in the life of the very Church."

After pointing out that the "Church is not only a society nor simply the Body of Christ," the article specifies that it is additionally the "fruit of the trinitarian work of creation ... The Church is, as Lumen gentium asserts citing St. Cyprian, 'a people joined to the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.'"

The article from Castelluci goes on to underscore that "it is the sacraments and, in a special way, the Eucharist that renew, nourish and re-establish communion in the Church." It is not the case that the Church is simply understood as a "being in agreement." This latter perspective, continues the text, "has reduced the theological wealth of the ecclesiology of communion and favored a Christian praxis which is sometimes very 'intimist,' running the risk of darkening the other great dimension of the Conciliar Church: the mission."

Undoubtedly, Castellucci adds, "Vatican II imposed a missionary ecclesiology, definitively surpassing two great reductions inherited along the course of the last centuries.

"The first reduction," he explains, "refers to the absorption of the mission in the 'missions,' for that (concept) only those who were going to a far-off country were called 'missionary;' a second, consisted in the conviction that the missionary quality constituted only an episodic and passing moment that would come to its end once the world was 'Christianized.' Vatican II surpasses both reductions, showing evidence of the missionary nature of the Church, founded in the same trinitarian missions."

The Council, he asserts, "put in evidence how the mission is not simply one of the activities of the Church, but that it belongs to her very nature. If we were to indicate which of the two is effectively the 'novelty' of the Council, we would have to choose mission."

Explaining the importance of the communion and mission, Castellucci concludes by writing that "one without the other would not have any meaning, because communion without mission would remain in the intimism and mission without communion would dissipate in activism. Communion, then, more than the center point of ecclesiology is one of the two foci of the ellipse, because it shares with the mission the quality of sustaining axis of the Church."

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Military archbishop urges Congress not to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Washington D.C., Jun 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy barring open homosexuals from serving in the military should not be changed, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services said on Tuesday. Noting the need for strong rules against immoral activity, he said moral beliefs should not be sacrificed for “merely political considerations.”

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, writing in a June 1 statement, reported that “a number” of chaplains and commanding officers have expressed concerns about the effects of a policy change. He said he also responded to a request from the Chiefs of Chaplains of the Armed Forces, voicing his “considerations and concerns” about proposed changes to legislation regarding servicemen and women with a homosexual orientation.

“Catholic chaplains must show compassion for persons with a homosexual orientation, but can never condone—even silently—homosexual behavior,” he wrote, voicing concern that a change in policy might negatively affect the role of the chaplain in the pulpit, the classroom, the barracks and the office.

He noted that Catholic chaplains cannot accept or bless same-sex unions and no restrictions on the teaching of Catholic morality can be accepted.

The archbishop questioned whether the change would mean that homosexuals are authorized to engage in activities considered immoral by the Catholic Church and many other religious groups. He pointed out that morality has an effect on unit cohesion and overall morale.

“This Archdiocese exists to serve those who serve and it assists them by advocating moral behavior. The military must find ways to promote that behavior and develop strong prohibitions against any immoral activity that would jeopardize morale, good morals, unit cohesion and every other factor that weakens the mission.”

He also advised a “firm effort” to avoid any inadvertent injustices resulting because individuals or groups are “put in living situations that are an affront to good common sense.”

“Those with a homosexual orientation can expect respect and treatment worthy of their human dignity,” Archbishop Broglio wrote. “The prohibitions regarding sexual harassment and intimidation refer just as much to homosexuals as to anyone else.”

The prelate then quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says Sacred Scripture and Catholic tradition recognize homosexual acts to be “of grave depravity,” intrinsically disordered, and under no circumstances to be approved.

His quotation continued, recognizing both the respect, compassion and sensitivity due to those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies and the need to avoid unjust discrimination against them.

Changes to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are potentially “enormous and overwhelming,” he added. “Nothing should be changed until there is certainty that morale will not suffer. Sacrificing the moral beliefs of individuals or their living conditions to respond to merely political considerations is neither just nor prudent especially for the armed forces at a time of war.”

“The Archdiocese for the Military Services… urges the Congress not to repeal the current policy for the Armed Forces,” Archbishop Broglio’s statement concluded.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services ministers to those in the U.S. armed services and their families at hundreds of installations around the globe.

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