New York City, N.Y., Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) - The Catholic League’s efforts to have Blessed Mother Teresa honored on her 100th birthday in the lighting scheme for the Empire State Building continue. The proposal now has the backing of a leading New York City councilwoman, which a Catholic League spokesman was a sign of the famous religious sister’s widespread admiration.
The Catholic organization wanted the building to display blue and white lights, the color of Mother Teresa’s order, on the religious sister’s 100th birthday, but its request was declined by the building’s management.
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has voiced support for the effort to honor the beatified woman who served the poor of Calcutta, India.
"The question of why the building will not be lit is a question that deserves answering," she told The New York Daily News, adding that she thought the lighting scheme should have been approved.
She said she reached out to the ownership of the Empire State Building last week after learning the lighting application had been denied.
"We urged them to try to find a way to light the building," Quinn continued. "We are all very disappointed."
She reported that the owners gave no particular reason for refusing the request, calling on them to revisit their decision and “honor this wonderful woman who has given so much to the world.”
Quinn, who is openly homosexual, has stood opposite the Catholic League on issues such as same-sex “marriage” and whether homosexual groups should march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
Mother Teresa, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, opened the first hospice for AIDS patients in Greenwich Village.
In a Tuesday phone interview, CNA spoke about the controversy with Jeff Field, director of communications at the Catholic League.
Asked about the success of the organization’s Empire State Building campaign, he reported that the Catholic League’s on-line petition has attracted over 30,000 signatures while another 10,000 Catholic League members have pledged support via direct mail.
The organization has also received letters of support from Indian and U.S. bishops.
People are “fired up” by the controversy, Field added, reporting that some have organized a trip to help protest the Empire State Building.
Asked about the Catholic League’s reaction to the support from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, he replied “We’re glad that she’s on board.”
“We have allies from all over the place,” he continued, noting that Mother Teresa is loved not only by Catholics but Protestants, Jews and even atheists.
In his view, honoring Mother Teresa in its lighting scheme should have been “a no-brainer” for the Empire State Building. He noted that the building has honored various other individuals and events in the past
One honoree that stood out, in Field’s view, was the 60th anniversary of the Communist Revolution in China. “Under the leadership of Mao Tse-Tung, that killed 77 million innocent people,” Field commented.
“We thought honoring Mother Teresa was a slam-dunk,” he told CNA. “Why not honor a saintly nun who has won the Nobel Peace Prize?”
“But apparently they felt otherwise,” he added.
Field described the Empire State Building as an “iconic structure” known worldwide. With the U.S. Postal Service issuing a stamp to honor Mother Teresa, the Catholic League thought it would be “a great idea” to have the building honor her for her 100th birthday on August 26.
“It was the least that we could do to honor such an admired woman,” he continued, saying the refusal of the request “boggles the mind.”
Geneva, Switzerland, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) - The patenting of genetically modified life forms can be ethically “problematic” and could hurt poorer countries if poorly implemented, a Vatican representative has told the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi addressed the WTO Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council in Geneva on Tuesday about a proposed TRIPS agreement which allows WTO members to exclude plants and animals from patentability but not micro-organisms.
The patenting of life forms, the archbishop warned, could sometimes support “biotechnologies that are problematic both from an ethical point of view and from the point of view of a ‘development-friendly’ intellectual property system.”
Noting other international agreements which hold that the human genome shall not give rise to “financial gains,” he said the TRIPS agreement, other WTO rules, and all other trade and intellectual property rights agreements should not reduce the ability of states to regulate the aspects of property rights related to human life and dignity.
These agreements acknowledge the ethical concerns that certain applications of “rapidly developing life sciences” pose to human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, the prelate stated. They also urge states to adopt all necessary measures to protect human life in the applied life sciences.
Turning to the availability of food, Archbishop Tomasi said, “Private monopolistic rights should not be imposed over those biological resources from which the basic food and medicine requirements of human life are derived.”
He added that control of patents on the production and distribution of new kinds of seeds and animals could affect both food security and the development prospects of poor countries.
The prelate also noted “significant concern” about patenting the varieties of seeds that are genetically engineered. He mentioned the risks to traditional and modern research and production, the risks of concentrated seed ownership, and the risks of forcing farmers to buy seeds every season instead of saving them from year to year.
“The main goal of the international community should be to promote the common good. Moreover, international trade rules and negotiations should aim toward the good of all, especially of those people who are poor and vulnerable,” the archbishop told the WTO meeting.
Archbishop Tomasi is the Holy See’s permanent representative to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva.
Vatican City, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During today's general audience in St. Peter's Square in Rome, the Holy Father warmly recalled several aspects of his “historic” trip to Cyprus last week, saying that the “culmination” of his visit was signing the working document for the Middle Eastern Synod of Bishops. He also noted that he pleaded with Christians not to leave the Holy Land and prayed for the soul of the recently slain bishop in Turkey.
The Pope first remembered his meeting with Cypriot civil authorities and diplomatic corps on June 5, where he “reiterated the importance of founding positive law on the ethical principles of natural law in order to promote moral truth in public life.”
“This,” he explained, “was an appeal to reason based on ethical principles, full of important implications for today's society which often no longer recognizes the cultural tradition upon which it is founded.”
Visiting St. Maron primary school that same day, Pope Benedict said he was “able to witness personally the apostolic fervor of Cypriot Catholics. This is expressed through activities of education and assistance, with dozens of structures at the service of the community which are much appreciated by both the governmental authorities and by the population.”
“During that same celebration,” he added, “I was able to admire the apostolic commitment of the Latin community, guided by the solicitude of the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and the pastoral zeal of the Friars Minor who serve the people with constant generosity.”
The Holy Father then recalled the Mass he celebrated in the church of the Holy Cross, saying that he “made a heartfelt appeal to all the Catholics of the Middle East, despite their great trials and the difficulties they notoriously face, not to give in to discouragement and the temptation to emigrate, because their presence in the region represents an irreplaceable sign of hope.”
“I gave them guarantees, especially to priests and religious, of the entire Church's affectionate and intense solidarity, and her incessant prayers that the Lord may help to ensure their presence always brings life and peace.”
Pope Benedict then remarked that the “culminating moment” of his apostolic trip, was “the consignment of the 'Instrumentum laboris' of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops” on June 6.
During that time, he noted, “we prayed together for the soul of the late Bishop Luigi Padovese, president of the Turkish Episcopal Conference, whose sudden and tragic death left us pained and distressed.”
Bishop Padovese was stabbed to death in Iskendurun, Turkey by his driver last week. According to Italy's ANSA news agency, Turkish police have detained the alleged killer and have not yet established a motive. However, some reports indicate that the driver yelled “Allahu Akbar” after he killed the bishop.
Commenting on the upcoming Synod for Middle Eastern bishops in October, the Holy Father said the event will “be accompanied by the prayerful affection of the entire Church.” The Middle East, he added, “occupies a special place” in the Church's heart, “being the place where God made Himself known to our fathers in the faith.”
“There will also,” he continued, “be no lack of attention from the other components of global society, especially important figures in public life who are called to work constantly so the region can overcome the situations of suffering and conflict that still afflict it, and finally rediscover peace in justice.”
Benedict XVI also remembered being “happy” to visit the “the Maronite cathedral of Cyprus, where Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, was also present.” The Maronites, he explained, came to Cyprus at various times, “and often suffered difficult trials in order to remain faithful to their specific Christian tradition, the history and art of which represent a cultural heritage for all humankind.”
In his concluding remarks, the Pope said that “the Cypriot Catholic community in its various ramifications - Maronite, Armenian and Latin - incessantly seeks to be of a single heart and a single soul, both in itself and in its cordial and constrictive relations with our Orthodox brothers and with other Christian groups.”
“May the Cypriot people and the other nations of the Middle East, with their political leaders and the representatives of the various religions, together build a future of peace, friendship and fraternal collaboration.”
Vatican City, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
After this morning’s general audience, the Pope invited the faithful to participate in the end of the Year for Priests with their prayers as thousands of priests converge on Rome for the closing celebrations.
The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is the day after tomorrow, marks the end of the Year for Priests. On that day, around 9,000 priests from around the world will come to Rome. Together, they will renew their vows and to praise the Lord, Pope Benedict said after the Wednesday audience.
He invited the faithful to participate in this event with their prayers.
The Year for Priests, which followed on the heels of the Year of St. Paul, reminded the faithful to pray for their priests, that they be holy men and be true to their vocation.
The Pope also spoke to the Polish pilgrims present at the audience in St. Peter’s square, reminding them of their country’s newly beatified priest and martyr, Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko. Fr. Jerzy, who was killed by the Communist secret police in 1984, was beatified Sunday in front of 140,000 people in Warsaw’s Pilsudski square.
Pope Benedict reminded the Polish that Fr. Jerzy “taught love and solidarity with those in need of spiritual or material support.”
He also entrusted the victims of the recent floods in Poland, as well as the aid workers, to the protection of Bl. Father Jerzy.
Rome, Italy, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) - In exclusive commentary provided to CNA, auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley of Denver spoke on the closing of the Year for Priests in Rome, saying the bustling atmosphere is filled with “great excitement and anticipation” with a “real electricity in the air.”
Bishop Conley also remarked on the rise of seminarians, asserting that despite recent media coverage of scandals in the Church, more young men are “responding to the call to serve the Church as priests in greater numbers each year.”
The events for the closing of the Year for Priests in Rome began on the morning of June 9, and will continue through June 11. Bishop Conley told CNA that the number of participants has surpassed all predictions.
“I know that the expectations for the number of priests have over doubled than what was anticipated - from 5,000 to over 10,000 registered up to this point,” the bishop said. “All three places of registration were overflowing all day long yesterday.”
“The organizers have had to open a second venue,” he added, “in order to accommodate the overflow.”
Commenting on the current atmosphere among the priests in Rome, Bishop Conley said that there “is a real electricity in the air” and that individuals have come “from all over the world” to celebrate. “Mostly young priests, from what I observed,” he noted.
Speaking on the significance of this week's events, and the entire previous year dedicated to priests, Bishop Conley said that it “was clear from the start that the purpose of this whole Year for Priests called by Pope Benedict, was to be a year of prayer for the sanctification for priests.”
“All of the events this week center around prayer,” he explained. “Each day there will be extended adoration of the Holy Eucharist and Benediction. The Holy Father told us last year that hoped this would to be 'a time to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal fro the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world.'”
“This 'spiritual renewal' which he has highlighted will also be a new beginning for priests in many ways and not simply a 'conclusion' of this Year for Priests,” the Denver bishop said.
“The meditations, Masses and congress will focus on the figure of the priest in light of the example of our patron, St. John Marie Vianney, the saintly Cure d'Ars,” he noted. “The Holy Father will meet twice with all participants, first during a prayer vigil on Thursday evening and then at Mass on Friday morning, both in Saint Peter's Square.”
Touching on recent media reports that have focused on protest groups attending the closing of the Year for Priests, such as SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and self-titled “women priests,” Bishop Conley told CNA that “I have been in and around Saint Peter's Square over the past three days and have not seen one counter-demonstrator.”
“I heard that there were some here but I have yet to see any,” he added. “They must be very small in number.”
When asked what he thinks the benefits are of this year dedicated to the priesthood, Bishop Conley said that one “of the fruits that I foresee after the close of the Year for Priests (which I have already discovered with our own seminarians in Denver) is a purified and refined intention/motivation to become a priest.”
“I think that with all the news of scandal in the priesthood that young men are entering the seminary today because of truly supernatural motives and not worldly reasons,” said the bishop. “They know that the world will ridicule their decision to become a priest and even mock them as strange or even perverted. In spite of this, they are responding to the call to serve the Church as priests in greater numbers each year.”
“I know the North American College boasts of the highest numbers in over 25 years. We just built a new 24 room dormitory in Denver at Saint John Vianney seminary. The numbers are up everywhere, in spite of all the bad news in the media about the priesthood.”
“The only explanation for me is the fact that the Church needs good, holy, normal, faithful priests now more than ever and young men are courageously responding,” Bishop Conley said.
“I think this will only continue after the Year for Priests ends. Although it is a challenging time to be a priest, it is also a very exciting time to be a priest.”
Vatican City, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) - The undersecretary for the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop Celso Morga, told Vatican Radio this week that a fundamental challenge priests face and what is expected of them as a result of the Year for Priests is that they bring Christ to world, “with all of his love, with all of his demands.”
The archbishop made his comments at the conclusion of the Priestly Congress organized by the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome in preparation for the “International Meeting of Priests” that will close the Year for Priests.
Archbishop Morga explained that “the priest carries out ministry, a proclamation that is Christ. And Christ has his demands, he has his commandments. This is the great challenge for today’s priest. To bring Christ with all of his love, with all of his demands.”
Priests must always remain “in union with Christ,” the archbishop said. “They must be pious men. And consequently they must be docile. The priest is a servant. His life is not in his own hands but rather in the hands of another who is Christ, and in the hands of the Church, his spouse,” he noted.
Archbishop Morga predicted that the International Meeting of Priests that will take place June 9-11 in Rome would be “the largest gathering of priests in history,” as some 14,000 are expected to attend, three times the number that attended the Jubilee of Priests in 2000.
“There are 10,000 priests registered with the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi. Another 3,000 have registered with the Prefecture of the Secretary of State. Therefore we expect 13-14,000 priests. In 2000, we brought together 5,000 priests in Rome. This time we are going to double or triple that number,” he added.
Madrid, Spain, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) - More than 60 pro-life associations will gather outside the Spanish Supreme Court on July 3 in Madrid to express their rejection of the country’s new law on abortion.
The groups will also demand that the legislation be placed under an injunction until a ruling is made on a case challenging its constitutionality filed by the People’s Party.
The theme of the protest will be “25 Years Are Enough! Yes to Life for All,” and will take place two days before the new law is scheduled to take effect on July 5. Though abortion is already legal in the country, the new legislation allows abortion up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy and in some cases, up to the twenty-second week.
Alicia Latorre, president of the Spanish Federation of Pro-Life Associations, said that the protest's “theme conveys that it is time to overcome the cruel and archaic practice of abortion, which has been legal for 25 years, since July 25, 1985.”
“Enough of legitimizing the deaths of the innocent, of making handicaps equal to the loss of the right to life, of making pregnant women feel abandoned and of profiting with impunity off of the sufferings of others,” she underscored.
The pro-life associations also sent a message to the People’s Party saying if it regains power it should not only “overturn the law, but also establish protection for all human life and institute assistance programs through the regional governments.”
“We urge politicians that Human Rights never be at the whim of the party that happens to be in power at the moment,” they said.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) -
Bishop Jorge Casaretto of San Isidro, Argentina reminded journalists this week that as communicators, they have “the noble profession of serving society by informing with the truth and building up communion through communication and respect for all.”
In a message to reporters earlier this week, the bishop stressed that the abundance of information that exists today is an affirmation of the right of citizens to be informed and ought to call us to reflect on the quality of that information.
“It seems that today to speak about the quantity of information is somehow opposed to speaking about its quality,” he observed. “Often times the news we get is not about what has happened, but versions of what they say has happened. Even worse, the prognosis of what they believe could happen is passed of as news.”
“There is no doubt that news understood in this way generates confusion, anxiety and fragmentation in society, rather than informing us,” he warned.
Bishop Casaretto added that journalism is a great challenge that must be taken up by serving with truth and respect, with “dialogue being an active part of the process of communication and the confrontation of ideas” in order to achieve the common good.
The bishop encouraged media professionals to assume “this noble commitment of service to society” in an ethical way, as they are “valuable and important part of the process of development and growth” of the country.
La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santa Cruz, Cardinal Julio Terrazas, called on Bolivians this week to proclaim the value of human life and to reject what he believes to be society's increasing "attacks" on it.
During the Mass for Corpus Christi, Cardinal Terrazas said that the Eucharist must be lived each day in our hearts, “because every day there are more excuses invented to justify the taking of human lives, each day there are more attacks against life and the factors that prevent a life from reaching its fullness are multiplied.”
“Our task, as the people of God nourished and strengthened by the body and blood of the Lord, is to continue proclaiming this life, even though many people don’t like it,” the cardinal stated. “Let us become accustomed to life, let us be capable of experimenting and feeling what the widow surely felt when the Lord gave her back her son and said, 'Look, he is alive, he lives.'”
The cardinal also prayed that “our joys, our works, our sorrows and sufferings, our limitations always bring us to recognize the Lord as the God who journeys with his people.”
Washington D.C., Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) -
Saying that Nevada U.S. Senate hopeful Sharron Angle exemplifies “authentic, pro-life feminism,” the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund has endorsed her candidacy. The organization claims Angle will usher in “the year of the pro-life woman.”
“No one more than Sharron Angle exemplifies frontier feminism,” commented List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. “We are proud to put our political machine – built for the purpose of supporting women like Sharron – behind her race to beat Senator Harry Reid.”
Angle won the Tuesday Republican primary with 40 percent of the vote. She will face Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, in the November election.
The Susan B. Anthony List said it spent $150,000 on television ads and voter calls to pressure Sen. Reid to stop calling himself “pro-life.” The group has committed $1 million in voter education and mobilization efforts to unseat Reid.
"Sharron Angle is poised to unseat the leader of the Senate and the key proponent of Obama's health care plan that included taxpayer funding of abortion,” Dannenfelser claimed. “We applaud Nevada voters for taking steps to support authentic, pro-life feminism with last night's vote… Sharron Angle will help to usher in the year of the pro-life woman and win back critical margins in the Senate."
A former state legislator, Angle unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2006. The issues section of the candidate’s website was not accessible as of Wednesday afternoon. However, a cached Google copy dated June 6 read “All human life is precious, regardless of location, age, infirmity, or degree of dependence. Sharron Angle is the only candidate, in this senatorial race, holding a pro-life position.”