Front Royal, Va., Jun 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an exclusive interview with CNA, author and pro-life leader Fr. Thomas Euteneuer discussed his recent book on the often misunderstood topic of exorcism, asserting that due to an increased exposure of young people to the occult, priests within the next decade are going to be “inundated” with exorcism requests.
Speaking on his new book, “Exorcism and the Church Militant,” which was released on June 14, Fr. Euteneuer, who also serves as director of Human Life International (HLI), elaborated on the need for exorcism to be clarified in modern society.
When asked why the ancient rite is often shrouded in misconception, Fr. Euteneuer explained that, “first of all, it's misunderstood because most people's perception of exorcism come from the movie the Exorcist or the Exorcism of Emily Rose,” or “some of the horror flicks that disguise themselves as exorcism movies.”
“One of the purposes of the book,” he noted, “was to take back the proper understanding of exorcism by placing it squarely in the context of the Church's pastoral ministry.”
In regard to the need for this pastoral ministry, Fr. Euteneuer asserted that “priests are going to be inundated in the next decade or so at least with requests for exorcism because I can already see it happening now where the younger generations especially have been affected by a lot of hard and soft occultism.”
“Soft forms of occultism are like Wicca and New Age,” he explained, adding that “Harry Potter contributes to that with over 400 million books being sold.” The popular book series, he claimed, has helped educate “younger generations in the language and the symbolism of the occult.”
Although many young people have treated the books merely as “entertainment,” he observed, “it actually leads them more deeply into occult practices.”
“All of this is inevitably, with the lack of faith, going to lead to serious spiritual problems for younger people and those problems are going to be laid at the foot of the Church.”
Though “Exorcism and the Church Militant” is intended for a “general audience,” said Fr. Euteneuer, it is meant specifically to make an appeal “to priests to read it, learn it and get more involved in it.”
“Because,” he clarified, “exorcism is a pastoral ministry and the explicit form of exorcism is a liturgical rite which can only be done by priests.”
Addressing what could be seen by many to be a daunting and frightening topic, Fr. Euteneuer said, “I encourage people to take the view of the Church towards this and that is, we have nothing to fear with regard to evil.”
“We just simply must apply the authority of the church to the power of evil in this world and I don't believe we're doing that adequately.”
“Fear is what keeps us from doing it adequately,” he said. “Fear is what keeps the Church from actually taking the spiritual resources that have been given to the Church and applying them to the very serious forms of evil.”
“Remember that in Jesus' ministry,” Fr. Euteneuer underscored, “He healed the sick, He preached the Gospel and He cast out demons. He continues to do those works in and through the Church and that it what he handed on to the Church to do.”
Front Royal, Va., Jun 18, 2010 (CNA) - In response to the FDA's safety approval of a new drug being described as a “morning-after” pill, a pro-life leader denounced the drug as an abortifacient, and argued that it needs to be labeled accurately.
The FDA is slated to meet on Thursday to discuss whether or not “Ella” – which is currently being marketed abroad as a “morning-after” pill – should be approved for U.S. distribution. The drug has received criticism from numerous sources who have claimed the pill's chemical make-up closely resembles the abortion drug RU-486.
One such critic, Steve Mosher, director of Population Research Institute, told CNA on Thursday that “greed” on the part of the pharmaceutical company is one of the major factors in the situation, given that distribution of the drug would be limited were it labeled an abortifacient. Mosher also claims that word “pregnancy” is being redefined by the company in order to suit their corporate interests.
“There is little doubt that the 'Ella' pill acts as an abortifacient in nearly all cases,” wrote Mosher in an email to CNA on Thursday. “The only reason that the company claims otherwise – aside from greed, that is – is that they redefine the meaning of the word 'pregnant.'”
“In their view, pregnancy does not begin at conception, but rather only at the implantation of the developing embryo into the uterine wall five to seven days later,” he noted. “This is a misleading and inaccurate definition of pregnancy.”
“Planned Parenthood – an organization that would profit off the new drug – claims that there is no evidence that the drug interrupts pregnancy after implantation.”
“But it almost surely does,” he explained, “since it blocks the progesterone receptors necessary for the early development of the embryo to continue.”
“Indeed, the test which women are given to determine whether they are suffering a miscarriage is one which measures the amount of progesterone,” the pro-life leader clarified. “A progesterone-killing drug will also necessarily be an embryo-killing drug.”
“This is another kind of abortion pill and should be clearly labeled as such if it is approved at all,” Mosher asserted.
Washington D.C., Jun 18, 2010 (CNA) - The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has announced that it will award Princeton University law professor Robert P. George its Canterbury Medal to honor his work on religious freedom.
Over 350 civil rights and religious leaders representing dozens of religions will gather at the Washington, D.C. Four Seasons hotel on Friday for the Canterbury Medal Dinner to honor George’s work.
The Becket Fund described George as a “leading scholar” of legal and political philosophy and as a “preeminent public intellectual.” Its announcement noted his service on the President’s Council on Bioethics and on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He was also a Judicial Fellow at the U.S. Supreme Court.
At present he is a member of the UNESCO World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology.
The Becket Fund did not mention that George was also a key organizer of the Manhattan Declaration, a public commitment to religious liberty, the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.
The Princeton professor, a Catholic, is the co-author of “Embryo: A Defense of Human Life,” which argues that human personhood begins at conception.
“We are proud to be conferring the Canterbury Medal on Professor George,” commented Kevin “Seamus” Hasson, President of the Becket Fund. “In his scholarly and popular writings as well as his public service he has been a brilliant and effective defender of the liberty and the rights of conscience of persons of every tradition of faith.”
Previous recipients of the Canterbury Medal include Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon, Rabbi Ronald Sobel of Temple Emmanu-El in New York, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Dr. John Templeton of the Templeton Foundation.
Dublin, Ireland, Jun 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster and recently named Apostolic Visitor for the Archdiocese of Armagh, Ireland, said this week that the Irish Church should seek the renewal and purification called for by, and detailed in, Pope Benedict’s letter to Irish Catholics.
Speaking at St. Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Ireland for the Closing of the Year for Priests, Cardinal Murphy O’Connor said a sort of “dark night” has fallen over the Church due to the clergy sex abuse scandal. He stated that this is a “time of learning, a time of purifying and of trusting.”
“In the dark night, all we have is our faith that God has not abandoned us, is working with us. Of course, we feel the rawness not only of our sin but also our poverty,” the cardinal said. This poverty “is also a gift because it strips away all the other things we have come to rely upon. It brings us back to source of our life, our identity and our call.”
After commenting on some of the measures put in place in England and Wales to prevent sexual abuse by members of the clergy, the cardinal said, “Today I wanted to reflect on how these terrible crimes have affected the Church. It does not matter that the great majority of priests and bishops are good servants and pastors of their people. When the scandal of abuse runs so deep, it casts its shadow over everything.”
The cardinal said there is “no magic formula” for confronting the issue. However, he did note that, in his letter to Irish Catholics, Pope Benedict encouraged “a path of repentance and renewal that opens the door to God’s forgiveness and true change.”
The Pope’s letter also “set another process in motion,” he said. “It goes deep into the great spiritual patrimony of the Irish Church.”
“It is about a genuine and deep repentance which requires not only a commitment to truth and understanding, especially understanding the roots and consequences of what has happened, but a commitment also to love.”
Havana, Cuba, Jun 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an address during his visit to Cuba, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti spoke on the relationship between secularism and Christianity, saying that the former “would not exist at all” without the Church.
During his remarks, the prelate also stressed the need for religious freedom to be “reaffirmed” within the country.
Archbishop Mumberti, who is secretary for Relations with States, gave his comments at the opening of the 10th Cuban Catholic Social Week during his apostolic visit which runs through June 20.
The prelate began his talk by discussing the interrelation between secularism and Christianity, saying that contrary to popular belief, the two are not at odds with one another.
“Although the term 'secularism,' both in the past and in the present, refers first and foremost to the reality of the State and not infrequently assumes forms that run counter to the Church and Christianity,” the archbishop noted, “it would not exist at all were it not for Christianity.”
“In fact, without the Gospel of Christ the history of humankind would not have known the fundamental distinction between what man owes to God and what he owes to Caesar; in other words, to civil society.”
Speaking on the historical underpinnings of the break between the Church and secularism, the archbishop explained that in the Middle Ages, “sovereigns who sought to avoid being subject to the Pope did not for this reason consider themselves as being outside the Church. At most they wanted to play a role in controlling and organizing the Church, but they had no desire to separate themselves from her or exclude her from society.”
“It was with the Enlightenment, and in a particularly dramatic way during the French revolution, that the term 'secularism' came to designate quite the opposite: complete alterity, a net opposition between civil life, and religious and ecclesial life,” he clarified.
“Although secularism today is not infrequently invoked and used to hinder the life and activity of the Church,” said the Vatican official, “in its profound and positive sense it would never even have existed without Christianity.”
“The same is true for other values which today are considered as typical of modernity and often invoked to criticism the Church, or religion in general, such as respect for the dignity of the person, the right to freedom, equality, etc.,” he observed. “These are to a large extent the fruit of the profound influence of the Gospel in various cultures, though later they were separated and even set in conflict with their Christian origins.”
Archbishop Mamberti then warned of secularism hindering true religious freedom by becoming a “dominant ideology” – a religion itself.
“If secularism is not made logically and ontologically subordinate to full respect for religious freedom this can represent a real threat to that freedom. ... In such a case the State, paradoxically, becomes a confessional state, no longer truly secular, because it would make secularism a supreme value, a dominant ideology, a kind of religion with its own civil rites and liturgies.”
In light of this, he added, the “full concept of the right to religious freedom must be reaffirmed.”
“Although respect for the individual act of faith is fundamental, the State's stance towards the religious dimension does not end there, because this dimension ... must find expression in the world and be lived, not only individually but also in the community.”
Archbishop Mamberti then referred to the mission of the laity in secular society, explaining that “the role of the Magisterium is different from that of the laity, for while pastors of the Church must illuminate minds with their teaching, 'the direct duty to work for a just ordering of society', as Benedict XVI says in his Encyclical on charity, 'is proper to the lay faithful', who achieve this by 'co-operating with other citizens.'”
Madrid, Spain, Jun 18, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - An estimate of the sum total of charitable work performed by the Catholic Church and her members shows that the Church saves Spain billions of euros every year, reported the vice secretary of Economic Affairs for the Spanish Bishop’s Conference.
During the presentation of a report on charitable and pastoral work carried out in 2008, Fernando Gimenez Barriocanal said Thursday that the Church is “the largest provider of assistance in Spain.” That work, he said, is inspired by “the proclamation and living of the faith.”
Barriocanal remarked that the work done by Catholic charitable organizations such as Caritas and Manos Unidas has helped 2.8 million people in nearly 4,500 centers. The figures for 2010 are expected to be much higher because of the economic crisis.
He also reported that priests and pastoral workers devoted more than 45 million hours to the faithful. In market terms, that would amount to a contribution of more than 1.8 billion euros. Taking into account that the Church spent 680 million euros in 2008, each euro spent brought a return on investment of 2.73.
In the area of pastoral work, Barriocanal pointed out there are more than 20,000 priests and 1,500 members of religious communities in Spain’s parishes. There are also 55,000 members of religious communities in other locations. The country also boasts of more than 70,000 active catechists. All of this activity is carried out in the more than 22,000 parishes across in Spain.
Regarding the Church’s liturgical activity, Barriocanal reported that there were 335,484 Baptisms, 244,469 First Communions, 94,109 Confirmations, 104,010 weddings and more than five million Masses said in 2008.
In the field of education, Catholic schools educate 1.3 million students. Their existence and service saves the state some four billion in educational costs.
Rome, Italy, Jun 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy See’s Permanent Observer at the United Nations, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, said this week that countries must combat maternal deaths with policies that respect the lives of both the mother and the unborn child.
During his June 14 address at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Archbishop Tomasi said, “the policies for combating maternal mortality and infant mortality should strike a balance between the rights of the mother and those of the child, in that both have rights, the first of which is the right to life.”
“The maternity clinics and hospitals promoted by the Catholic Church do precisely this: they save the lives of both mothers and children, those born and those yet to be born,” he declared.
According to Fides news agency, the archbishop said reducing maternal mortality is possible with higher per capita income, greater education for women and improvements in health care systems.
Archbishop Tomasi also declared that “the availability of emergency obstetric care, including the provision of universal pre and post-natal care, and adequate transport to medical facilities (when necessary), skilled birth attendants, a clean blood supply and a clean water supply, appropriate antibiotics, and the introduction of a minimum age of 18 years for marriage, are all measures that could benefit both mothers and their children.”
“If the international community wishes to effectively reduce the tragic rates of maternal mortality, respect for and promotion of the right to health and of access to medications must not only be spoken about, but also be put into action by States as well as by non-governmental organizations and by civil society,” Archbishop Tomasi concluded.
London, England, Jun 18, 2010 (CNA) - In remarks to a journalist on the Holy Father's upcoming visit to the U.K., Archbishop Vincent Nichols of the Diocese of Westminster urged the Catholic faithful to “get behind the Pope and support him.”
The archbishop also discussed the upcoming beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman during the Pope's trip in September and underlined the significance of his Holiness meeting with Queen Elizabeth II.
Archbishop Nichols spoke to Anna Arco, a prominent local journalist who's blog is associated with the U.K.'s Catholic Herald.
During his remarks, the prelate emphasized the “historic” aspect of the Pope's visit, and the significance of the Pontiff being officially greeted by the country's monarch. This, he claimed, should quell the idea by some that England is anti-Catholic.
“I think the historic nature of the Pope visiting this country as a state visit is quite astonishing,” Archbishop Nichols asserted. “It’s obviously the first time in history at the opening of the visit to see the Queen and the Pope together. The Queen is the first person to welcome him to this country.”
“I hope that many of our easy assumptions will be a little bit shaken, that somehow there is an intense antagonism to Catholicism in this country.”
“That is not what the picture will show,” he stressed. “The picture will show a monarch who is held in huge esteem by everybody making sure that this Pope, the Bishop of Rome is warmly welcomed into this society. I think that is so important that nobody should underestimate it.”
“From a Catholic view,” he added, “I think what is most important is that we understand the delicacy of the mission the Pope has taken on in coming to address British society with the gift of Christian faith.”
“Because we are very aware of the delicacy of the moment of strong voices raised in opposition for any role for religious faith in our society and here is the Pope who is such an eloquent exponent of the gift of faith coming right into the midst of this multi-faith, multicultural, complex, at times aggressively secular, society.”
“So Catholics, really, I invite them to get behind the Pope and support him,” the archbishop urged. “There are many ways of doing this, with prayer, through the financial contributions that have already been made and of course if its possible to get to see the Pope personally in some of the big events.”
Discussing the beatification of Cardinal Newman, the prelate was asked by Arco why he is focusing in particular on the late theologian's pastoral work above other things.
“Cardinal Newman is a rich and quite complex character,” he explained. “I think he is well known in some circles as an academic. He is known in some circles as a poet and a man of culture. But there is a strand of pastoral care that runs consistently through his life and it started when he was a young tutor in Oxford and he saw the purpose of education was to care for the whole person and not simply be the acquisition of knowledge.”
“And that underlying gold thread of pastoral care is, I think, not often enough focused upon.”
“And considering that we are just ending the Year for Priests,” the prelate noted, “I think it’s a remarkable grace that it is an English parish priest should be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI and I wouldn’t want that dimension of Newman to be forgotten or overlooked.”
On the visit as a whole, Archbishop Nichols said that what he hopes for “is that the gentleness and the readiness to engage in dialogue that is so characteristic of Pope Benedict will come across.”
“And in this I think television coverage will help a great deal because here is a man who is most impressive when you sit down and talk to him face to face,” he said.
“One of the great advantages of television is that it brings the face close to us and I think with that help, People will see the utter integrity of this man who is at peace in his faith, not afraid of difficult questions, not afraid of difficult challenges and will engage with us in a way that I think will be a significant contribution to our shared life.”
Caracas, Venezuela, Jun 18, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, called on Venezuelans to imitate the evangelical zeal of St. John Bosco and strengthen the unity of the Church amidst the aggressive secularism that is expressed in religious intolerance and attacks on Pope Benedict XVI.
During the Mass which closed the tour of the relics of St. John Bosco around the country, the cardinal said that, amidst the attacks on the Church, religious confusion and the manipulation of the Gospel, Christians must be more and more united. He called on his listeners to “live our holy religion with pride in order to proclaim the authentic faith, to defend our rights and the ability of Christians to be active in political and social life, and to work without fear for freedom and justice within the bounds of the Constitution and the laws.”
The relics of Don Bosco visited Venezuela as part of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesians and in preparation for the bicentennial of the saint’s birth, which will take place in 2015.
Likewise, he called on the faithful to be “ambassadors of Christ,” imitating the evangelical zeal of the saint who founded the Salesian spiritual family. St. John Bosco, he recalled, “is an ambassador of Christ because he bears witness to the immense love of the Heart of Jesus by drawing close to young people and the poor with his words, his kindness and his joy, with his charisma of a father, teacher and friend.”
Cardinal Urosa also exhorted priests to follow Don Bosco’s example because, “like the Cure of Ars, he also taught us how a priest should be and act.” Don Bosco lived “as an authentic man of God, profoundly identified with Jesus Christ and animated by an intense filial love for Mary Most Holy, the Help of Christians,” which is the model priests today should follow.
Don Bosco was “a messenger of the Gospel, a tireless pastor always in search of the sheep and at the service of others,” said the cardinal. “He taught us that nothing is as important as the proclamation of Christ so that souls can go to Him.”
Havana, Cuba, Jun 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Catholic bishops of Cuba have expressed their hope that Pope Benedict will visit the island nation in 2012. Bishop of Holguin Emilio Aranguren commented, “it’s our hope, our interest, that the Pope come to Cuba in the year 2012… It’s up to the Holy See.”
The bishop spoke at a briefing on the activities of Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s secretary for Relations with States, who is in Havana to mark Catholic Social Week. According to the Associated Press, Bishop Aranguren said the visit had nothing to do with a possible papal visit.
In 1998 Pope John Paul II made the first papal visit to Cuba. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, visited in 2008.
The year 2012 marks the 400th anniversary of the discovery of a small wooden statue of the Virgin Mary which has become an object of veneration on the island, the Associated Press reports. In 1612 three men from the eastern copper mining town of El Cobre found the statue floating off the coast. It was labeled “I am the Virgin of Charity.”
Under the title “Our Lady of Charity,” St. Mary was declared patron saint of Cuba in 1916.
Cuban political dissidents have hoped that Archbishop Mamberti’s visit could lead to freedom for more political prisoners or more prison transfers for those held far from their families.
Bishop Aranguren said that the archbishop will likely meet with President Raul Castro before he leaves on Sunday but has no plans to meet with dissidents.
Salt Lake City, Utah, Jun 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Minutes after the clock struck midnight on Friday morning, a five man firing squad ended the life of Ronnie Lee Garner, a Utah man found guilty of murdering two men. The execution was lamented by Salt Lake City’s Bishop John Wester, who prayed for God’s love and mercy to heal all those affected by the situation.
In a Friday afternoon statement, Bishop Wester prayed that society can “move beyond the death penalty and thus affirm the dignity and sanctity of all human life.” Society, he said, “can fulfill its obligation to protect its citizens, punish wrongdoers and provide an opportunity for rehabilitation without resorting to the violence that plagues our world and continuing the cycle of bloodshed that diminishes all of us.”
The execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner caused shockwaves around the nation. Gardner, who was sentenced to death in 1985 after killing a man and then causing another murder in a courtroom escape attempt, was executed by firing squad at his own request. Though the death penalty is legal in Utah, the firing squad was prohibited in 2004. However, Gardner was sentenced before the change in policy, he was still allowed to select that manner of execution.
The bishop continued by offering condolences to the families of the victims. “We also express our sympathy to the family of Ronnie Lee Gardner as they mourn his loss and his tragic life. We pray for God’s love and mercy to heal them all and to help them find peace.”
Catholic teaching holds that a society has the obligation to protect its citizens and punish wrongdoers. “But while states have the right and the responsibility for protecting their residents, for Utah to take a life in our name diminishes all of us, because our society can clearly fulfill those obligations without resorting to the death penalty,” Bishop Wester wrote in his June 18 column in the Intermountain Catholic.
He also noted that, “from a purely economic viewpoint, it’s less expensive to incarcerate a murderer for life than to execute him.” He added that, in the process, the state risks taking the life of an innocent human being, as the statistics regarding the exonerations of death row inmates show.
He also quoted the U.S. Bishops’ 1999 publication, “A Good Friday Appeal to end the Death Penalty, which states “we cannot overcome crime by simply executing criminals, nor can we restore the lives of the innocent by ending the lives of those convicted of their murders. The death penalty offers the tragic illusion that we can defend life by taking life.”
“Once you take a life, you can’t give it back – only God can give life!” he wrote.