Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2010 (CNA) - Noted Catholic scholar and commentator George Weigel has reacted to strongly to Time Magazine's recent 10-page spread criticizing the Catholic Church as “nonsense,” and has offered counter points to several accusations the magazine raised.
In a National Review Online article last week, Weigel addressed Time's June 7 cover story titled, “Why Being Pope Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry,” and responded to what he believes to be multiple erroneous claims that the feature story presented.
According to the scholar, Time printed “significant misunderstandings” about the Catholic Church, including the false assertions that the Pope is an absolute monarch, that the Church is a nation-state, and that the late John Paul II was an inept administrator.
Weigel also wrote that the magazine incorrectly charged that the sex abuse crises has emptied Churches in Western Europe and that Pope Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, was complicit in covering up clerical sex abuse.
“The lengthy essay inside breaks no news,” Weigel asserted, “it recycles several lame charges against Benedict XVI that have been flatly denied or effectively rebutted,” and “it indulges an adolescent literary style.”
However, he noted, the Time story “may serve a useful purpose,” in that “it encapsulates, within ten pages, many of the things the world media continue to get wrong about the Catholic Church, the Vatican, and the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.”
On the misunderstanding that the Pope is considered an absolute monarch within a nation-state Church, Weigel countered that “while it is true that the Pope enjoys the fullness of executive, legislative, and judicial authority in the Church, his exercise of that authority is not only bound by the truths of Catholic faith; it is also circumscribed by the authority and prerogatives of local bishops.”
“For, according to the teaching of Vatican II, bishops are not simply branch managers of Catholic Church, Inc. Rather, they are the heads of local churches with both the authority and the responsibility to govern them,” he noted. “Far more damage has been done to the Catholic Church in recent decades by irresponsible local bishops than by allegedly autocratic popes.”
Speaking on the false belief that because of the Holy See's claim to sovereignty, the Church is a nation-state, Wegiel argued that this stems from a deep rooted misunderstanding of papal authority.
“The moral authority of the papacy in world affairs,” he explained, “hardly derives from the Pope’s position as sovereign of the 108 acres of Vatican City State. Rather, that moral authority is a function of the truths popes articulate, truths that are based on the natural moral law that everyone can know by reason.”
Weigel then addressed the accusation that the late Pope John Paul II left behind what the Times called an “abysmal record as administrator of the Church,” as compared to his predecessor, Paul VI.
Is “any serious commentator or scholar prepared to make the argument that the pontificate of Paul VI witnessed greater accomplishments, for the Church or the world, than the pontificate of John Paul II?” the biographer of John Paul II asked in rebuttal.
“John Paul II ought to be judged a successful administrator, if by successful administrator one means a man who sets large goals and achieves them. The drift and malaise in which the Catholic Church found itself in the latter years of Paul VI were not replicated in the 26 years of John Paul II.”
On the claim that the recently surfaced clerical abuse scandals have been responsible for emptying Churches in Western Europe, Weigel remarked that “Irish, German, and Austrian churches were empty long before Scandal Time II exploded several months ago; indeed, those churches had been emptying for decades.”
To “blame the dramatic decline of Catholic practice in Ireland and the German-speaking parts of Europe on clerical sexual abuse is to confess that one simply hasn’t been paying attention for the past 40 years,” he charged.
Lastly, Wegiel discussed Time Magazine's assertion that Pope Benedict as Cardinal Ratzinger was complicit in covering up clerical sex abuse as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
“By every available piece of evidence, Ratzinger, in his last half-decade as prefect of CDF and as Pope, has been determined to root out corruption within the priesthood,” he noted, “while at the same time acknowledging that the overwhelming majority of Catholic priests are not sexual predators — a point it would be refreshing to see recognized, in print, by Time and others.”
London, England, Jun 8, 2010 (CNA) - A homosexual activist and Vatican protestor in the U.K. is slated to make what he calls a “factual” documentary on the Holy Father, which is set to air just before the upcoming papal trip. One critic of the proposed film called it further evidence of England being “a profoundly anti-Catholic country.”
Peter Tatchell, a noted gay activist and leader of the group Protest the Pope, is being sponsored by the U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 to make an hour long film on the Holy Father that will air before the papal visit this September.
“My aim is to make a robustly factual program that explores the Pope’s personal, religious and political journey since the 1930s, as well as the motives and effects of his controversial policies,” said Tatchell in a statement on his website.
“I intend to ensure that we hear the voices of the Pope’s defenders, as well as his critics,” he went on. “I would be like to interview the Pope himself. It would be ideal for Pope Benedict to be able to explain himself in his own words. But I doubt that I will be granted an audience.”
U.K. broadcaster Channel 4 released a statement in support of Tatchell, and the company Juniper TV that is producing the film.
“Human Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, a long-term critic of the Papacy, will challenge Pope Benedict XVI’s beliefs and positions on a range of issues - including condoms, homosexuality and fertility treatment - and examine the impact his policies have had on both the developing and Western world,” Channel 4 wrote in a general statement. “The program will give voice to a range of views on the Pope – featuring interviews with both critics and supporters.”
Ralph Lee, head of Specialist Factual programming at Channel Four, said on June 4 that the papal visit in September “provides an ideal opportunity to examine the impact of Benedict XVI after five years in office.”
“In keeping with Channel 4’s remit to provide a platform for diverse and alternative perspectives,” he added, “equality campaigner Peter Tatchell will assess the effect of the current Pope’s teachings throughout the world and the conflict between some of his values and those held by modern Britain.”
Several critics of the slated documentary have denounced the film as “hostile” and “polemical.”
On June 7, London's Daily Telegraph reported former conservative Member of Parliament Anne Widdecombe as saying, “I think this will confirm the view that there probably already is in the Vatican that this is a profoundly anti-Catholic country.”
“I wouldn’t call this the right thing for any serious broadcaster to do, but they’re doing it for the publicity, they’re doing it to stir up controversy,” charged Widdecombe, a Catholic convert.
“Mr. Tatchell certainly won’t be sympathetic to his subject, so what’s the point of doing it? It won’t be skeptical, it will be hostile.”
The Telegraph also quoted Catholic writer Christina Odone, who said that Tatchell himself “would be the first to admit that he is no authority on the subject.”
“And perhaps it would be good, rather than have some polemical, knee-jerk reaction to the Pope if Channel 4 would be interested in actually shedding light on a figure who is so important, and so often misinterpreted and misunderstood – and of whom more needs to be known,” Odone added.
Catholic composer James MacMillian, whose music is rumored to be performed at some of the Masses during the Pope's visit, denounced Channel 4 and other media outlets in the country.
“There is nothing surprising in the continued frantic jumping up and down by the Guardian/Channel 4/BBC axis in opposition to the Pope,” he observed.
“Their venom is now so repetitive that it has lost any potency it once had. Frankly, people are getting bored with them.”
Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2010 (CNA) - More than 580 couples renewed their marriage vows at a Sunday Mass celebrated by Archbishop of Washington Donald W. Wuerl at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Couples offered a variety of advice for a long-lived marriage.
Participants were from Washington, D.C. as well as suburban and southern Maryland Catholic parishes. Some couples had been married for as long as 68 years. Of the couples at the Mass, 254 were married for 50 or more years.
The archdiocese recounted in a press release the story of participants Thomas and Rose Spalding, who first met when Thomas was seven years old. They married when he was 23 and she was 18. He has been a deacon at Our Lady’s Church for 20 years.
Mr. Spalding told the archdiocese he recalls a “beautiful life” with his wife in a marriage that has produced nine children, 18 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
“It’s been so wonderful, I just wonder where else you can go from here?” he commented.
Two brothers and their wives also renewed their vows. Dave and Pat Warner met while he was in the U.S. Army. They wrote to each other for two years before marrying 55 years ago. Chris and Judy Warner, who have been married for 40 years, met when she came to Washington to visit friends.
Asked the secret to a happy marriage, Chris replied “I was raised if you make a commitment you stay with it.”
Both couples live in Rockville, Maryland. Three other Warner brothers have also been married for decades.
John and Corazon Landicho of Beltsville, Maryland told the Washington Post that avoiding grudges was key to their 51 years of marriage.
A high-ranking government accountant, John often traveled across the country and the world. This left Corazon alone to care for their five children. He said this was “hard.”
Corazon said that when they fought she had a regular habit. “I cry. I get out of the house. I drive around the block. And that's the end of that."
"You know, fighting doesn't really solve anything. Go ahead, get it out of your system, but don't stay mad for a long time."
John told the Washington Post their marriage’s success was due to their deep faith and real partnership.
"We're winners together," he said. "That's what makes it work."
In his homily, Archbishop Wuerl said he often asks long-married couples their secret and the answer is never the same. Some make a point to say “I love you” every day, while others make it a point to say they are sorry.
The common thread is that each spouse loves the other in a way that reflects God’s love for both of them.
"Because of the power of love, it is possible for a couple to move from 'me' to 'we,' " the archbishop said, according to the Washington Post."Love never fails. We may. But love never fails."
In addition to renewing their vows and receiving a special blessing during Mass, all couples received personalized certificates commemorating their special anniversary.
Philadelphia, Pa., Jun 8, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. John McIntyre as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Tuesday. At the same time, the Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Maginnis, who has retired at the age of 75.
Cardinal Justin Rigali who led a press conference at the archdiocesan headquarters this morning, also commented on his rumored retirement, saying that although he has submitted his resignation, he has been asked by the Holy Father to stay in the Philadelphia Archdiocese for the present.
Bishop-elect McIntyre was born in in Philadelphia in August of 1963.
After attending local parochial schools, he went to Father Judge High School in Philadelphia and eventually studied at St. Alphonsus College Seminary. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, Pennsylvania and was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1992. In addition to serving in local parishes, the bishop-elect has been secretary to Cardinal Rigali since 1999.
An enthusiastic Bishop-elect McIntyre greeted the media during the press conference this morning, saying, “with gratitude to God and reliance on his mercy, I accept and I rejoice in my appointment as an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia.”
“I renew my commitment in our Lord Jesus Christ and give thanks to God the Father before all of you for the gift of eternal life which he has given all of us through his son, Jesus.”
“What a blessing to share in the victory of Jesus over sin and death through faith and through the sacraments of the church,” he added, “and what a blessing to be through this gift a member of his holy Church, in which I have always found grace, strength and guidance.”
“How proud I am to be a Catholic,” the bishop-elect underscored.
“I am grateful to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, for calling me to be a bishop in the Church. I renew my fidelity and my loyalty to him and promise to serve to the best of my ability in the office which the Church now entrusts to me,” Bishop-elect McIntyre stated.
As he thanked his parents and the priests that he has worked alongside, the bishop-elect became emotional. When he finished his remarks, he was given a standing ovation from the press.
Following a statement from Cardinal Rigali, Bishop Maginnis and bishop-elect McIntyre, the cardinal addressed a question from the press regarding his recent 75th birthday and rumored retirement.
“As you know,” the cardinal said, “every bishop at 75 offers his resignation to the Holy Father, and I have done that.”
However, “the response is for me to stay until they tell me to leave,” he said with a laugh.
Bishop-elect McIntyre will be installed and ordained a bishop on August 6, 2010 at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.
Vatican City, Jun 8, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy See has announced the official dates for the upcoming beatifications of nine candidates for sainthood. Three Spaniards, two Italians, a Slovenian, a Romanian, an Austrian and a Lebanese Maronite will be beatified in the next three months. With one exception, each of the ceremonies will take place in the home countries of the future blesseds.
The dates of the beatification ceremonies were released by The Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff through the Holy See's Press Office on June 8.
Spain will see the beatification of Manuel Lozano Garrido in Linares on June 12. Garrido was a lay journalist who was imprisoned and tortured during the Spanish Revolution. Leopoldo Sanchez Marquez de Alpandeire, a lay Franciscan, will be beatified on September 12 in Granada. Finally, Spain will also witness the beatification of Maria Isabella Salvat y Romero in the city of Seville on September 18. When she became a religious sister, she took the name Mary of the Immaculate Conception. At the time of her death in 1998, she was superior general of the Institute of Sisters of the Company of the Cross.
In Italy, Chiara “Luce” Badano, an Italian girl who gave constant witness to Christ through her involvement in the Focolare movement and through her battle with osteosarcoma, will be beatified on September 25 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love in Rome. In addition, the foundress of the Congregation of Handmaidens of Blessed Mary Immaculate and of the Institute of the Good Shepherd of Parma, Anna Maria Adorni, will be beatified in Parma on October 3.
Two men who were declared martyrs by Pope Benedict, Lojze Grozde, a Slovenian layman, and Szilard Bogdanffy, a Romanian bishop, will also be beatified in their own countries, on June 13 and October 30, respectively.
Brazil will see the beatification of Barbara of the Blessed Trinity in Porto Alegre, on November 9. Barbara was an Austrian who, after being exiled to Brazil, founded the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The Maronite monk, Stephen Nehme, who died in Lebanon in 1938, will be beatified on June 27 in Kfifan, Lebanon.
Lisbon, Portugal, Jun 8, 2010 (CNA) - Teresa Pires and Helena Paixao have become the first homosexual couple to “marry” in Portugal since the passage of controversial law that allows same-sex “marriage.”
During the ceremony attended by friends and families, the presider said, “On behalf of the Republic of Portugal and its laws, I now pronounce you married.”
Pires said the act was a dream come true but, in veiled reference to homosexual adoption, warned, “This is not the end of the struggle.” Both women have children from previous natural marriages.
In 2006, the pair attempted to contract marriage, and their case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled against them last July.
Despite massive opposition, Portugal’s Socialist government launched an intense effort to pass a measure legalizing same-sex “marriage,” resulting in it being made legal in May 2010 when President Anibal Cavaco Silva signed the law.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 8, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, warned this week that pagan culture is invading society in order to devalue and replace the traditions of the Argentinean people, who nevertheless continue to look to Christ to meet their needs.
“The prayers of our people for bread, work, good health ... in addition to being real needs, are in a way nice excuses for drawing close to Jesus,” the cardinal said during the Mass for Corpus Christi, which also closed the Year for Priests in the archdiocese.
Cardinal Bergoglio underscored the importance of the Eucharist and noted that Christ “asks us to help distribute him to others as Bread. Through our hands, he wishes to be close to the people who need him.”
Addressing young people, Cardinal Bergoglio invited them to shun the passing fads of the day and to boldly leave their mark on society. “Like Jesus, you also wish to leave a radical impact, with all of our souls, with all of your hearts, with your entire lives,” he said.
Referring to the Year for Priests, the cardinal thanked priests for “making Jesus present in the midst of our daily lives, in each absolution, at each wedding, at each Mass.”
Lima, Peru, Jun 8, 2010 (CNA) - During the closing Mass of the First Eucharistic and Marian Congress in Lima, Peru on Sunday, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne called on the thousands of participants to defend life and say “yes to life-long marriage between one man and one woman.”
According to the Archdiocese of Lima, the Mass was concelebrated by Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez, Bishop Miguel Irizar Campos of Callao, Auxiliary Bishop Adriano Tomasi Travaglia of Lima and others.
In his homily, Cardinal Cipriani encouraged the faithful to be “defenders of life.”
“Let us say no to abortion! Yes to life-long marriage between one man and one woman. We should defend marriage, life and the family,” Cardinal Cipriani urged.
“We love our Peru so much. Lord, bless the Peruvian people, that we may understand each other, that there be no hatred, lies or vengeance, that violence may end. Let us make Peru a country of greatness, solidarity and justice.
“All of this springs from the Eucharist,” he added.
Cardinal Cipriani encouraged participants to pray the Rosary, spend time in Eucharistic adoration and attend Mass every Sunday. “May those who feel the call of the Lord to the priestly life, to religious life, say yes to the Lord, ‘Here I am, for you have called me’.”
“Let us respond with generosity to the call of the Lord. Parents, support your children,” he said.
During a meeting with young people on June 5, Cardinal Cipriani called on the youth to embrace love that is “beautiful and pure: the love of a young man for his girlfriend, a husband for his wife—the wonderful love that makes life so joyful.”
“May you always promote truth, freedom and friendship, and in order to do so make use of the sacrament of Confession. The good Lord has left us this marvelous way of asking for forgiveness. Let us receive the Body of Christ with pure souls,” he said.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 8, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, expressed his best wishes this week for the Mexican soccer team and hoped the 2010 World Cup in South Africa would be an opportunity to rediscover sports as a gift from God to practice the values of life.
“Sports possess a spiritual dynamism that teach us how to fight, how to overcome and be joyful in a good sense,” the cardinal said. “The physical and spiritual potentialities of sports should also educate us in peace, as despite all of the differences that can exist, unity is possible when there is good will and when the search for the common good and the development of peoples exists,” he added.
The Mexican cardinal recalled that in his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul “encourages Christians to be fully committed to their lives of Christian faith by alluding to the athletic competitions of antiquity.”
“By using healthy athletic competition as a metaphor, St. Paul emphasized the value of the spiritual life, comparing it with a race towards a goal that is not only earthly and passing, but eternal,” the cardinal said.
Only with effort can one achieve success, he continued, as “without sacrifice one cannot obtain great results or authentic satisfaction.”
“Even the greatest of champions, when faced with the fundamental questions of existence, is vulnerable and needs God’s light in order to overcome the difficult challenges that human beings are called to face in competition,” the cardinal noted.
While fame and physical fitness pass away with time, he added, “the fullness to which all human beings are called is eternal, and only Christ gives it to those who compete to be better, to achieve the crown of holiness.”
Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2010 (CNA) - Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders in the United States have continued work on a new joint statement on the future of Catholic-Orthodox relations, examining what the two Churches share and the prospects for their reunion.
The draft statement describes the resolution of differences as a matter of urgency, according to a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation met at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts from June 1-3. It was co-chaired by Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh and Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans.
Members of the consultation included Catholic and Orthodox clergy, vowed religious and scholars.
The consultation has titled its draft statement “Steps Towards a United Church: A Sketch of an Orthodox-Catholic Vision for the Future.” According to the USCCB, the document briefly outlines the history of differences between the Churches, especially regarding the church role of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.
It also discusses what the two churches share.
The consultation’s draft reflects on what a reunited Catholic and Orthodox Church might look like and what ecclesiastical structures are needed to help such unity come about. Further, it considers what questions remain if such a reconciliation is to take place.
Work on the draft will continue at the next meeting.
Participants also considered recent events in both Churches, particularly the May 26-27 Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America which took place in New York. The Assembly will replace the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) and is anticipated to become the official Orthodox sponsor of the North American Consultation.
Members of the consultation examined the subjects of primacy and conciliarity in the Church, with emphasis on the theological significance of the Orthodox autocephalous, or self-governing, Churches.
Dr. Robert Haddad, emeritus history professor at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. presented a study titled “Constantinople Over Antioch, 1516-1724: Patriarchal Politics in the Ottoman Era.” Fr. John Erickson, professor of canon law and church history at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York, presented a paper titled “The Autocephalous Church.”
Fr. Joseph Komonchak, professor emeritus of religious studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. presented a Catholic reaction to the papers.
Since its establishment in 1965 the consultation has issued 23 statements on various topics. These texts are available at the SCOBA website and at the USCCB website.
Rome, Italy, Jun 8, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - An Italian Vatican expert is saying that Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia and President of the Turkish Bishops’ Conference, canceled his trip to Cyprus because he feared that his driver –who later confessed to killing the bishop- might attempt an attack on Pope Benedict XVI during his stay on the island.
Analyst Fr. Fillippo di Giacomo, who writes for publications such as L’Unitá and La Stampa, revealed that “hours before Padovese was killed, the Turkish Government called him to say that his driver, who they themselves had put in his service four years before, had gotten out of hand. That is to say, he had embraced the fundamentalist cause.”
Speaking to the Spanish daily El Pais, Fr. di Giacomo added that “knowing this, Padovese canceled the tickets he had reserved to Cyprus for himself and Altun (his driver). He preferred to stay home rather than to make the trip because he feared that his driver would take advantage of his proximity to the Pope and make an attempt on his life.”
According to El Pais, “the death of the Capuchin Franciscan bishop, known as an intellectual open to Islam, and who adored Turkey, occurred at a dramatic moment in the Middle East, right after Israel killed nine people (eight Turks and an American) in their assault on the humanitarian flotilla in international waters that attempted to pass through the Israeli blockade of Gaza.”
Another less-covered topic, which is nevertheless of concern to the Vatican, was the expulsion of 28 Christians from Morocco, El Pais added. The Spanish daily argued that the Moroccan government took advantage of the international chaos to deport the missionaries who worked with the poor because they “perturbed the mentality of the good Muslim.”
In his interview with the Spanish daily, Fr. di Giacomo asserted that the expulsion was a consequence of the “fatwa promulgated by 7,300 Moroccan Muslim doctors who recently declared that Christian charity ought to be considered religious terrorism.”
During the celebration of Bishop Padovese’s funeral Mass, the Turkish TV station NTV announced that the 26 year-old driver, Murat Altun, had confessed to killing the bishop. He died after being stabbed 25 times, eight of them in his heart, and was almost completely decapitated by Altun, who said he murdered Bishop Padovese because he had received a “divine inspiration.”
NTV added that Altun shouted “Allahu Akbar” a number of times after the murder, despite having presented himself as a Catholic.