Archive of June 16, 2010

Pope Benedict to ordain 14 priests this weekend

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2010 (CNA) - The Vatican Information Service has announced that Pope Benedict will preside over the priestly ordinations of 14 deacons for the Diocese of Rome next Sunday, June 20.

The ordination Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 a.m.

The Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, as well as the auxiliary bishops of the diocese, the superiors of the seminaries, and pastors of the deacons will concelebrate the Mass with the Pope.

back to top

Argentinean archbishop criticizes ideological bias in state-run media

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 16, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata in Argentina criticized the ideological slant in Argentina’s official state-run media, which, he explained, saturates “viewers and listeners with their ideology.”

The archbishop noted that some channels have “very good programs.  But the strong ideological line and one-sidedness is noteworthy.  No pluralism exists, as corresponding to the country, especially in the state-run media,” he added.  

During the program, “Keys to a Better World,” Archbishop Aguer noted that many of the programs “are technically very good … but nevertheless the ideological virus is present.  It is just another one of the defects of the media,” he said. 

He then encouraged Argentineans to voice their objections to government and media officials.

Archbishop Aguer also referred to the quality of Argentinean radio and television programs. Television today is far from being an authentic means of personal and familial development.” On the contrary, he said, the media has become a powerful agent of the “dumbing down” of culture.

The media offers “wonderful possibilities” but “needs to be explored adequately,” the bishop continued. “The message is what matters, not the media itself.  And this message can only be conveyed by people … who adhere to the truth, to goodness, to beauty, and who wish to led authentic service to society,” the archbishop concluded.

back to top

Writer tells story of love and compassion after murder of pastor

Washington D.C., Jun 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Last October, the parishioners at St. Patrick's Church in Chatham, N.J., were horrified when their pastor, Father Edward Hinds, was found murdered in the rectory.  Tuesday, in an article appearing in The Wall Street Journal, former presidential speech writer William McGurn described his experiences “as a guest” in the St. Patrick's community, where he has seen firsthand over the past months the love and compassion of a community struck by tragedy.

The community of Chatham, where St. Patrick's is located, houses about 10,000 residents and is  generally a peaceful area. Parishioners were shocked when Father Edward, pastor at St. Partick's since 2003, was found dead on Oct. 23.  He had been stabbed 32 times with a kitchen knife.

The murder made national headlines as the church janitor, Jose Feliciano, was arrested.  Feliciano, known in the parish as “Mr. Jose,” had worked at the church for 17 years, where he and his family were also parishioners.

Feliciano had recently been dismissed due to parish finances.

According to authorities, Father Edward had called 911 from his cell phone on the evening of Oct. 22 and reported that he was being attacked.  When the call cut off, the dispatch operator called back, and Feliciano allegedly answered and said “everything’s fine.”

Unable to trace the location of the cell phone, the operator could not send police.

Authorities said that investigators later found the priest’s cell phone, bloody clothing and bloody towels at Feliciano’s home.

Most newspapers had ended their coverage of the story with parishioners grieving and hissing at the mention of forgiveness, McGurn said. “But if that's all you know about St. Pat's, you would have a most incomplete picture.”

McGurn described how his eldest daughter attended St. Patrick's when other plans fell through at the last minute.  His daughter was in the same eighth-grade class as Feliciano's youngest daughter, and the two girls played on the same basketball team.

He told how he had watched Mr. Jose's daughter graduate from St. Patrick's School the previous Friday night. “When this young lady walked across the gym floor to collect her diploma, she did so secure in the knowledge that at St. Pat's she is more than a student,” he said. “At St. Pat's she is loved.”

McGurn spoke of how Fr. Edward “would have wanted his blood to bring forth the best in his flock, to bear witness to the redemptive love symbolized by his collar.”

“This doesn't mean Mr. Jose should not answer for his crimes, if indeed he is found guilty,” he explained. “It does mean St. Pat's could never allow this to be the end of the story.”

“This is a community, you see, defined by the belief that whatever he may have done, Mr. Jose still has a soul, and that love, if it is to be worthy of the name, imposes special claims on behalf of the innocent and the inconvenient.”

“And so the people of St. Pat's rallied,” McGurn continued, speaking of the staff, teachers, coaches and parents who tried to keep things normal for Mr. Jose's daughter as she worked her way towards graduation.

He recalled how parents at a meeting asked what to tell their children to prevent them from saying something harmful to the girl.  The principal replied, "Tell them, 'when you speak, let Christ fill your hearts'."

And that's what they did, he said, describing how his daughter and the other eighth-graders would “wrap their classmate in their love,” refusing to let any hatred touch her.

McGurn was not surprised by the charity shown by the members of the community.  “The people of St. Pat's hold, as an article of faith, that Father Ed's love remains operative in this world, and ours in his,” he explained. 

“With that in mind, they took a crime that bound two of their men in tragedy—one murdered, the other the alleged murderer—and handled it with the grace and good sense that America's little platoons so often rise to when we most need them.”

Reflecting on the experience, McGurn expressed his gratitude to be able to witness the community's response to such a difficult situation.

“As for this guest and father, let's just say how grateful he is that his own eighth-grader could come of age in a place where the commandment to love was deemed most precious when it was most difficult,” he concluded.

back to top

Catholic experts weigh in on heated immigration debate, urge faithful to not act on 'emotions'

Kansas City, Kan., Jun 16, 2010 (CNA) - A recent article in the Kansas City Leaven explores commentary from Catholic experts who have added to the heated debate on immigration reform in the U.S. In an effort to advise Catholics on how to respond to current issues, one expert urged the faithful to not act “on emotions” but “with what our faith tells our hearts what we need to be about.”

Joe Bollig, writer for the Kansas City Leaven, outlined remarks from the leaders of the local archdiocesan Hispanic Ministry and Social Justice departments, in light of the recent passing of the controversial immigration bill in Arizona, which has been publicly condemned by several bishops.

According to ABC news, the new Arizona law – passed on April 23 –  makes it a crime to be in the state illegally and allows police to arrest and question suspected individuals about their status without a warrant. It also criminalizes transporting illegal immigrants anywhere in Arizona, even if by family members.

Father Pat Murphy, who leads the Archdiocese of Kansas City Hispanic Ministry, weighed in on the debate, saying that despite the numerous perspectives being argued at present, the “bottom line is that immigrants are people.”

“They’re human beings. They have the same goals that everyone else does, so try to keep the human face on (the issue),” he advised.

Fr. Murphy went on to say that he believes the immigration system in our nation to be broken, which explains the drafting of legislation like the one passed in Arizona.

“Basically, the problem is that the federal government hasn’t done anything about immigration, and now states are going to try to do stuff,” said Fr. Murphy.

“And I think (the Arizona legislation is) a law that will be really difficult to implement,” he continued, “and can bring up all sorts of nasty reactions, nasty circumstances, and nasty situations.”

The priest added that many faithful Catholics are earnestly trying to decipher what the correct stance is on the immigrations issue.

“One of the things we need to encourage people to do is to inform their consciences before making decisions,” said Fr. Murphy. “Let’s not decide on emotions. Let’s decide with what our faith tells our hearts what we need to be about.”

Adding to the discussion, Bill Scholl, head of the archdiocesan Social Justice ministry, said that although the Church does offer guidance, no easy answers exist on the questions of undocumented immigration.

Instead, he noted, the church offers principles to guide faithful Catholics who must then prayerfully consider the issues.

“Catholic social teaching states that nations have the right and the obligation to secure their borders in order to maintain the common good,” Scholl explained. “However, that right is not absolute. Particularly for wealthy nations, there is an obligation to respect the rights of the poor and vulnerable who seek to emigrate into our country, because they have rights as well.”

“The church teaches that (persons) have a right to pursue and obtain what you need for a life in accordance with human dignity,” he added. “That doesn’t need to be provided for you, but you have a right to pursue that — food, clothing, education for your children, health care.”

“You have a right to pursue those things in your own country,” Scholl underscored, “but when your country has a situation where you can’t reasonably obtain those things, (a person) has a right to emigrate to another country.”

“There is room to disagree on this issue,” he continued. “You can be Catholic and want to see the enforcement of the laws. That doesn’t make you a racist. But the bishops are asking us how we can welcome the stranger and maintain the common good.”

Scholl said that Catholics should study the Church’s teachings, pray, listen to their bishops, and challenge their friends and family to work towards finding a winning solution for everyone involved.

“We should open our hearts and minds to the bishops’ charism of the Holy Spirit and ask ourselves one simple and elegant question: What if what they say is true?” he said.

back to top

New CUA president believes Pledge of Allegiance may violate Vatican II’s teaching on religious freedom

Washington D.C., Jun 16, 2010 (CNA) -

Incoming Catholic University of America (CUA) president John H. Garvey has defended the freedom of Catholic adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. However, he also holds that the Pledge of Allegiance could be viewed as unconstitutional and may violate Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom.

Garvey, presently the Dean of Boston College Law School, made his comments on the Pledge in the Spring / Summer 2007 issue of BC Law Magazine. The issue featured a symposium on the late Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J., a Georgetown University law professor and Democratic U.S. Congressman.

In his essay on Drinan, Dean Garvey praised the priest’s dedication to religious freedom. Drinan suggested that asking schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, with its reference to “one nation under God,” might be inconsistent with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The priest also thought requiring recitation of the Pledge could violate the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, which according to Drinan “forbade any discrimination against those who are not persons of faith.”

Garvey said that his own work in law “has led me to share Fr. Drinan’s view in that regard.”

The phrase “under God” was officially added to the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s after a campaign initiated by the Knights of Columbus, the country’s largest Catholic fraternal charitable organization. The Knights have supported CUA for more than a century and have donated millions of dollars to the school.

Defender of Catholic religious freedom

While Garvey’s opinion of the Pledge breaks from a view popular among U.S. Catholics, he has reportedly faced hurdles because of his faith. The Eagleionline, a student-run paper at Boston College Law School, says that Garvey’s nomination for the deanship of Notre Dame Law School was vetoed by “a vocal minority of faculty” because he was “too Catholic, too conservative, and too elitist.”

Soon after becoming dean at Boston College, he criticized the faculty for opposing the hiring of two faculty candidates he favored, saying they “will not hire a conservative or a Catholic.”

The incoming CUA president has also defended Catholic religious freedom against the growing burden of pro-homosexual laws.

When Catholic Charities of Massachusetts was forced to stop adoption services because state law required children to be placed with homosexual couples, Garvey published a March 14, 2006 essay in the Boston Globe objecting to the law.

“It seems surprising that the state would want to put the Catholic Church out of the adoption business,” Garvey wrote. “Corporal works of mercy are no less important to the life of the Church than its sacramental ministry.”

“Forbidding the Church to perform them is a serious blow to its religious liberty. Why would the government do that?” he continued, adding “Is our commitment to equality so strong that we are willing to put Catholic Charities out of business because it won't promote an agenda that it views as morally wrong? …extremism in the defense of equality can be a vice.”

As dean, Garvey also defended Boston College law professor Scott Fitzgibbon when he spoke out in favor of Maine’s Question 1, which restored the state’s definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

In a 2009 campaign ad, Fitzgibbon predicted a “flood of lawsuits” if state recognition of same-sex “marriage” were not repealed. This drew criticism from homosexual activists as well as their allies among college faculty and staff.

Believer in the power of academic freedom

In response, Garvey issued a statement noting that some had been angered by the professor’s position and reiterating that Boston College does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. He explained that the professor is “free to express his views,” noting that other professors have supported a view contrary to Fitzgibbons and are free to express that view publicly.

He did not refer to Catholic teaching or the Catholic identity of the school, but rather invoked “intellectual freedom,” an oft-mentioned ideal of his.

In a 2002 letter, Garvey tried to allay concern that Boston College’s Catholic identity will require “a certain orthodoxy,” claiming that “no school that regulates ideas can justly call itself a university.”

Garvey also expressed faith that free argument would resolve the questions surrounding the Terri Schiavo case in a 2005 dean’s column in BC Law Magazine. He said he was unsure what to think of the case, writing “as in abortion cases, the courts seem more eager to end life than the elected branches.” However, he also noted the argument that medical decision-making should be private.

He “heartily” endorsed John Stuart Mill’s argument about liberty of thought and discussion as a way forward.

In that same piece, he also described himself as someone “dead set against abortion.”

Commencement controversies

As dean, Garvey was criticized by the Cardinal Newman Society in 2007 when Boston College’s law school gave an honorary degree to Rep. Edward J. Markey, a pro-abortion Democrat from Massachusetts. The U.S. Catholic bishops have said Catholic institutions should not honor “those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”

In 2008 others criticized the college for inviting as commencement speaker then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey. Critics felt he was a symbol for torture practices like waterboarding.

Garvey debated whether to avoid such controversies in his column in the Spring / Summer 2008 edition of BC Law Magazine. Noting the disputes both over Mukasey and over pro-abortion speakers at Catholic schools, he said it was “a high price to pay” to stop inviting prominent people “because their actions are bound to upset one faction or another.”

Rather, he announced, Boston College had decided no longer to give medals or degrees at graduation “to make it easier to invite people of the stature of the Attorney General without having an annual disagreement to mar the day.”

Garvey succeeds Fr. David M. O’Connell as CUA president.

back to top

Mexican cardinal laments diminished sense of sin

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 16, 2010 (CNA) - This week Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, warned that it would be an error to remove the word “sin” from the human “dictionary” and believe that nothing is evil.

During his homily at Mass on Sunday, the cardinal lamented the “profound transformation” of the moral and religious understanding in many Christians. “For many  today, nothing is evil, nothing is immoral and it seems like we’ve even erased the word sin from our dictionaries.”

“Without a guilty conscience, how will we feel the need for God’s forgiveness?  How can we appreciate the salvation of Christ if we don’t think we need it?” he asked.

“Injustices, kidnappings, violence, infidelity, stealing, human rights violations and the scorn for life” are sins, he said.  “We are in trouble, and so is society, when we block out that red light, losing the sense of guilt ... and sometimes even using defense mechanisms to portray us as progressive or open-minded,” the cardinal said.

God’s forgiveness is a great gift which Christians must hold fast to in order to achieve reconciliation, repentance and conversion, “which are necessary to keep us from making mistakes again.”

back to top

Saint's teaching on faith and reason helps 'overcome' modern atheism, teaches Holy Father

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

During his Wednesday audience, the Holy Father explored the teachings of the renowned scholar, St. Thomas Aquinas, asserting that saint's work emphasizing faith and reason “helps us overcome certain objections raised by modern atheism” which “denies that religious language possesses objective meaning and holds that it only has a subjective or merely emotional value.”

The Pope opened his catechesis on June 16 by discussing an intellectual conflict during the time of St. Thomas, where many were convinced that secular philosophy and the theological works of the Church Fathers were at odds with one another.

The “burning question was whether ... a philosophy elaborated without reference to Christ and the world of faith, and that elaborated bearing Christ and the world of faith in mind, were compatible or mutually exclusive,” said the Pontiff.

“Thomas,”  he explained, “was firmly convinced that they were compatible, and that the philosophy elaborated without Christ was awaiting only the light of Jesus in order to be made complete.”

“The novelty of Thomas, what determined his path as a thinker, was this: to demonstrate the independence of philosophy and theology, and at the same time their inter- relation.”

According to St. Thomas, the Pope added, “faith consolidates, integrates and illuminates the heritage of truth acquired by human reason. The trust St. Thomas places in these two instruments of knowledge (faith and reason) can be explained by his conviction that both come from a single wellspring of truth, the divine Logos which works in the area of both creation and redemption.”

After establishing the principle of reason and faith, the Holy Father recalled how St. Thomas makes it clear that both follow different mental processes.

“Reason accepts a truth by virtue of its intrinsic evidence, either mediated or direct; faith, on the other hand, accepts a truth on the basis of the authority of the revealed Word of God.”

“This distinction ensures the autonomy of the human sciences, ... and the theological sciences. However this does not mean a separation; rather, it implies mutual and advantageous collaboration. Faith, in fact, protects reason from any temptation to mistrust in its own capacities and stimulates it to open itself to ever broader horizons,” he noted.

“The entire history of Christian theology is, in the final analysis, the exercise of this duty of the intellect, which shows the intelligibility of the faith, its inner structure and harmony, its reasonableness and its capacity to promote the good of man,” the Pope asserted.

“The correctness of theological reasoning and its true cognitive significance is based on the value of theological language which, according to St. Thomas, is principally a language of analogy,” the Pope added. “Analogy recognizes shared perfections in the created world and in God."

St. Thomas, he remarked, based his doctrine of analogy, “not only on purely philosophical arguments, but also on the fact that, with the revelation, God Himself spoke to us and, thus, authorized us to speak about Him.”

The Holy Father emphasized the importance of this doctrine which, he said, “helps us overcome certain objections raised by modern atheism which denies that religious language possesses objective meaning and holds that it only has a subjective or merely emotional value.”

St. Thomas' moral theology is deeply relevant to modern society in that “the theological and moral virtues of man are rooted in human nature,” said Pope Benedict.

“Divine Grace accompanies, supports and encourages ethical commitment but, according to St. Thomas, all men and women, believers and non- believers, are of themselves called to recognize the requirements of human nature as expressed in natural law, and to draw inspiration therefrom when formulating positive law; that is, the laws produced by civil and political authorities to regulate human society.”

“When natural law and the responsibility it implies are denied,”  he warned, “the way is thrown dramatically open to ethical relativism at an individual level, and to totalitarianism at a political level.”

“Defending the universal rights of man and affirming the absolute value of the dignity of the person presupposes a foundation: and is not this foundation natural law, with the non-negotiable values it contains?”

“Thomas,” the Holy Father said in his concluding remarks, “presents us with a broad and trusting view of human reason.”

“Broad, because it is not limited to the area of empirical-scientific reason but open to all of existence and therefore also to the fundamental and inescapable questions of human life; trusting, because human reason, especially if it welcomes the inspiration of Christian faith, promotes a civilization which recognizes the dignity of the person, the inviolability of his rights and the cogency of his duties.”

back to top

Benedict XVI calls for 'more profound knowledge' of the Eucharist

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Yesterday evening, Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated the diocesan congress of Rome in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The congress, which is being held June 15-17, has as its theme this year, “'Their eyes were opened, they recognized Him and announced Him:' The Sunday Eucharist and the witness of charity.”

“The faith,” said the Pope, "can never be taken for granted, because each generation needs to receive this gift through announcement of the Gospel and knowledge of the truth that Christ revealed to us. Thus the Church constantly strives to present the heritage of the faith to everyone. This also includes the doctrine on the Eucharist."

Unfortunately, he continued, this doctrine "is insufficiently understood in its profound significance and in the relevance it has for believers' lives. It is important, therefore, for people to have a more profound knowledge of the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord."

Speaking about the Mass, the Pontiff explained that "when it is celebrated with respect for liturgical norms, and with adequate attention for the importance of signs and gestures, it favors and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith." He encouraged the faithful "to rediscover the fruitfulness of Eucharistic adoration, ... and to ensure that our apostolic activity is not reduced to sterile activism; rather, that it be a testament to the love of God."

"Drawing nourishment from Him, we free ourselves from the bonds of individualism. And through our communion with Him, we ourselves become, all together, a single unit, His mystical Body,” said the Pope. “Thus we overcome the differences due to profession, social class or nationality because we discover that we are all members of one large family, that of the children of God in which each individual is blessed with a specific grace for the common good."

"When we receive Christ," the Holy Father explained, "the love of God expands inside us, radically modifying our hearts and making us capable of gestures which, by the contagious power of goodness, can transform the lives of people around us."

"For the disciples of Jesus," he continued, "witness of charity is not some passing sentiment; quite the contrary, it shapes their lives in all circumstances." The Pope invited those in attendance to show "commitment in the delicate and vital area of education in charity, as a permanent dimension of individual and community life.”

"Our city of Rome," he added, "calls Christ's disciples to a renewed announcement of the Gospel and to a clearer witness of charity." He also expressed his gratitude "to the people who work in various charitable structures, for the dedication and generosity with which they serve the poor and marginalized."

The Eucharist "requires us to become, and at the same time makes us capable of becoming, the bread broken for our brothers and sisters, meeting their needs and giving of ourselves. For this reason, a Eucharist celebration that does not lead us towards men and women where they live, work and suffer, to bring them the love of God, fails to express the truth it contains."

"In the present economic and social crisis, let us show solidarity with those who live in poverty, offering everyone the hope of a better tomorrow worthy of mankind," the Pope concluded.

Finally, he encouraged young people not to be afraid "to chose love as the supreme rule of life, .. to love Christ in the priesthood, ... to create Christian families that live a faithful and indissoluble love, open to life."

back to top

Cardinal George: Sr. Keehan chose Obama over Catholic bishops

St. Petersburg, Fla., Jun 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Sister Carol Keehan, CEO and President of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) openly acted in favor of President Obama’s health care reform and in opposition to persistent requests from the bishops, said Cardinal Francis George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), during their spring meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida.

During the bishops' executive session held Tuesday morning to address the fallout of CHA’s support for the health care legislation despite the bishop's opposition, Cardinal George recounted the events that took place prior to President Obama's signing of the health care reform. The prelate then concluded his remarks by criticizing CHA and Sr. Keehan, saying they have created the dangerous precedent of a parallel magisterium to the bishops.

In the events leading up to the final health care vote, the USCCB president presented arguments on how the bishops' conference “remained consistent to the two guiding principles throughout the whole process: number one, everyone should have access to health care; number two, no one should be killed.”

The consistent moral position of the bishops, Cardinal George explained, centered around protecting life, conscience protections and the inclusion of immigrants.

“The Conference never backed down on these issues,” he forcefully stated.

According to the Archbishop of Chicago, when the Stupak Amendment was defeated in the Senate in December 2009, “everything went south.”

That is when “the Catholic Health Association and other so-called Catholic groups provided cover for those on the fence to support Obama and the administration.”

Cardinal George clearly remarked that “Sr. Carol and her colleagues are to blame” for the passage of the health care bill. He continued by revealing that the bishops repeatedly tried to reach out to Sr.  Keehan both before and after the vote. “I personally met with her in March to no avail,” the cardinal reported.

In April, three bishops of the USCCB ad hoc Health Care Concerns Committee, Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, also met with Sr. Keehan to try to make her understand the bishop's concerns and thus bring CHA back in line with Church teachings, however the meeting concluded with “the same frustrating results.”

The president of the USCCB reiterated the bishop's fundamental opposition to the health care reform. “The bill which was passed is fundamentally flawed. The Executive Order is meaningless. Sr. Carol is mistaken in thinking that this is pro-life legislation,” Cardinal George emphatically said.

The cardinal also expressed disappointment with CHA “and other so-called Catholic groups” because, “in the end, they have weakened the moral voice of the bishops in the U.S.”

In that regard, Cardinal George highlighted that the USCCB and CHA’s positions on Obama’s health care are not just “two equally valid conclusions inspired in the same Catholic teaching,” and reiterated that what the bishops said on May 21 in their statement “Setting the record Straight” is and will remain the official position of  the USCCB on the contentious issue.

The document, presented  by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice, Peace and Human Development, and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Immigration, says: "As Bishops, we disagree that the divergence between the Catholic Conference and Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association, represents merely a difference of analysis or strategy (Catholic Health World, April 15, 2010, “Now That Reform Has Passed”).  Rather, for whatever good will was intended, it represented a fundamental disagreement, not just with our staff as some maintain, but with the Bishops themselves.

“As such it has resulted in confusion and a wound to Catholic unity."

Editor's note: CNA stands by our reporting of this story. However, the article as published did not mention the comments of Cardinal George were compiled by several bishops at the meeting and passed on to CNA. Our episcopal sources, who requested anonymity, stand by their recounting. 

back to top

Vatican official may meet with Raul Castro

Havana, Cuba, Jun 16, 2010 (CNA) - The AFP news agency reported this week that Church officials in Cuba have not ruled out a possible meeting between Cuban president Raul Castro and the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, who is currently visiting Cuba.

Archbishop Mamberti arrived in Cuba to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Cuban and the Holy See and to participate in the Catholic Social Week.  He is also expected to discuss the current situation facing the Church as well as the pastoral needs of the country's bishops.

Regarding the actions of the Church in Cuba, Bishop Jorge Serpa of Pinar del Rio said everything “is on the table for discussion.  (Archbishop Mamberti will meet with government officials and express his point of view. Even though it may not seem so, whenever there is dialogue, progress is made and things can get aired out).”

Speaking about the transfer of 12 prisoners to facilities near their hometowns and the release of Ariel Sigler, Bishop Serpa said, “We look upon this entire process with hope, as a positive step, although we are cautious.  We want to achieve the results that everyone wants and as soon as possible.  We are working for this happen.”

back to top

Bishop thankful 'The Last Summit' breaks false stereotypes about priests

Madrid, Spain, Jun 16, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla of San Sebastian, Spain praised the film, “The Last Summit,” for breaking false stereotypes about the priesthood. He expressed his appreciation for the testimony of priests like Father Pablo Dominguez, the young star of the documentary who died in a mountain climbing accident a year ago.

In his latest weekly letter titled, “Pablo’s Goal,” Bishop Munilla explained that “the film’s virtue lies in using this real and concrete story that is undoubtedly attractive and moving to put us into the debate about the image of priests in today’s society.”

“The words of the director himself at the beginning of the film are quite eloquent: ‘Today, if you crucify a priest, you are admired…but if you speak well of him, they crucify you’.”

The bishop continued, “There are reasons for talking about anti-clericalism in our present-day culture. Obviously I am referring to an unjustifiable anti-clericalism.”

“I was especially surprised by the data from one of the polls recently carried out by the Santa Maria Foundation, which revealed a growing distaste among young people for the Church. However, it showed that the image of the Church among those who have no direct contact with it was much more negative than among theo ones who have personal knowledge of what they are judging,” Bishop Munilla said.

The false stereotypes about priests that are indiscriminately spread help create the negative image, he added.

The Last Summit “dares to break myths and molds, presenting us a ‘politically incorrect’ image of the clergy, and it does so by using the fresh and attractive example of Pablo Dominguez,” the bishop continued.

He noted that the film’s debut “coincided with the closing of the Year of Priests which the Pope celebrated in Rome, accompanied by more than 15,000 Catholic clergy members from all parts of the world. It is a paradox that precisely during this Jubilee Year of Priests the grave sins committed by a few priests, mainly in past decades, have been exposed in different parts of the world.”

“I was lucky to know Pablo Dominguez, and I think it's worth it to see ‘The Last Summit’ in order to learn about his testimony of faith, humility, good humor, generosity and faithful service,” the bishop said. “Thank you, Pablo, for this ‘goal’ that you have made from Heaven! Thanks for showing us that our priests are ‘good people’ and for bringing us into the mystery of the priesthood,” he concluded.

back to top

German bishop claims he was forced to resign

Berlin, Germany, Jun 16, 2010 (CNA) - The former Bishop of Augsburg, Germany, Walter Mixa, has told a German newspaper that he was forced to sign his April 22 letter of resignation, and that it was written by others. He plans on discussing the matter with Pope Benedict in a July audience.

Earlier this year, Bishop Mixa was accused of physically abusing children under his care at an orphanage in the 1980s. The prelate was also accused of embezzling part of the orphanage's endowment.  All of this took place during the heightened media attention spotlighting the Catholic Church regarding clerical sexual abuse and the attempt to pin its mishandling on Pope Benedict.

Augsburg’s Auxiliary Bishop Anton Losinger later disclosed an allegation of sexual abuse against Bishop Mixa to the press. The allegation was later proven to have no grounds.

On April 22, Bishop Mixa submitted his letter of resignation to the Pope. Three days later, he sent a fax to the Holy Father withdrawing his resignation. On May 8, Pope Benedict accepted the resignation in an unprecedentedly rapid process.

Wednesday’s edition of “Die Welt” featured an interview with Bishop Mixa who claimed he was forced to sign a pre-written letter of resignation by his brother bishops in order to protect the church from further shame. Even though his conscience was clean, he said he signed the letter because “the pressure was like purgatory.”

Bishop Mixa said he has a meeting with Pope Benedict in July. “I will explain the situation to him personally,” he said. “He invited me to have the conversation with him. Above all, we will discuss how the situation should continue to develop.”

In the interview, he was also asked if he would submit a case to the Vatican’s court of appeals, citing canon law which states that when a person is forced to act under irresistible coercion, their actions are invalid. “That is a very legitimate question,” he replied. “And quite a good idea, which I will well consider and remember.”

Die Welt also reported that Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi declared, “it is not foreseeable that the acceptance of his resignation will be presented as a topic for discussion” when the bishop meets with the Holy Father.

back to top

Follow us:

Recent activity: