Archive of June 30, 2010

Shrine of Ugandan martyrs visited by 500,000 for feast day

Moroto, Uganda, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA) - Earlier this month over 500,000 people gathered in northeastern Uganda to celebrate the feast day of Saint Charles Lwanga and companions, who are known as the Uganda Martyrs.

Catholic faithful from around Uganda as well as Sudan, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo gathered at the shrine of the Uganda martyrs in the Diocese of Moroto on June 3 as part of a pilgrimage for the annual feast day, according to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church Need.

“We are standing on soil that is soaked with the blood of the martyrs,” said Bishop Henry Ssentongo of Moroto told the crowd during the event. Between 1885 and 1887 in Namugongo, 22 young men who served as pages at the Court of King Mwanga were speared to death for holding to the tenets of their Catholic faith instead of assenting to the demands of their ruler.

According to the aid organization, the martyrs were among the first Christian converts in their country. Today, 12.6 million of the country's 28 million inhabitants are Catholics, and every year some 400,000 are baptized.

“This pilgrimage should mark a turning point in our lives,” Bishop Ssentongo emphasized in his homily, “it is not enough to celebrate the fact that Uganda is a country of martyrs; instead we must follow in their footsteps and imitate Christ right up to the end!”

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US bishops launch initiative to teach about unique place of marriage

Washington D.C., Jun 30, 2010 (CNA) - Seeking to help catechize and educate Catholics on the meaning of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage has launched an initiative titled “Marriage: Unique for a Reason.”

The initiative’s launch coincided with the release of the first of five videos. The first in the series is titled “Made for Each Other” and includes a viewer’s guide and a resource booklet, a USCCB press release reports. The video examines sexual difference and the complementarity between man and woman as husband and wife in marriage.

Other videos in the series discuss the good of children, the good of society and the nature of discrimination, religious liberty and issues particular to a Latino audience.

Archbishop of Louisville, Kentucky Joseph Kurtz, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, said the effort was grounded in the recognition that marriage is “at the heart of a flourishing society and culture.”

“The truth of marriage lies at the very core of a true concern for justice and the common good. Promoting marriage is crucial to the New Evangelization,” he commented. He said the materials provide a “starting point” to assist Catholics and all people of good will in understanding why marriage can only be the union of one man and one woman.

The DVD, guide and booklet are intended for use by priests, deacons, catechists, teachers and other leaders. The USCCB said that potential uses include instruction for young adult groups, adult faith formation, and seminary and diaconate education.

The materials are available for purchase through USCCB Publishing and are online at

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Police raid on Belgian archdiocese triggered by former abuse commissioner

Brussels, Belgium, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA) - Following unannounced police raids in the Archdiocese of Belgium last week, a former head of an internal Church commission on sexual abuse cases has revealed that she contacted local police after an anonymous caller advised her to “watch out” and to secure all the documents she held during her time in office.

On June 24, Belgian authorities in search of information associated with cases of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels entered the archbishop's offices unannounced. Elements of the search, which included drilling holes into tombs in the crypt of the cathedral, were denounced by the Vatican and Pope Benedict the next day.

Godelieve Halsberghe, president of an internal Church commission on sex abuse cases from 2000 to 2008, told the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwesblad on Monday that “I recently received an unpleasant phone call about these files (dossiers on sexual abuse cases).”

Halsberghe, a former magistrate who headed a panel set up by the Church to oversee sex abuse cases, reportedly resigned in 2008 due to her belief that the bishops involved were being uncooperative.

She told the Het Nieuwesblad that the caller was a man who spoke to her in French and did not identify himself.

“He asked if I have dealt with these files. I answered affirmatively. He then told me that I had better watch out; not only in the interest of the files, but also for myself,”  Halsberghe added.

The paper also asked if Halsberghe influenced the police's decision to drill into the tombs of the deceased cardinals in the crypt at the Mechelen Cathedral. “Did they (the police) ever hear about secret places in the crypt where sensitive files were hidden?” it asked. 

“I have heard about something in the past, but don't ask where exactly. I do not know if the crypt was specifically mentioned,” she answered.

Searching for dossiers on cases of pedophilia last week, the Belgian police went so far as to drill holes into the tombs of Cardinals Jozef-Ernest Van Roey and Leon-Josephy Suenens with pneumatic hammers.

The Belgian police also prevented bishops and others in a meeting at the archdiocesan offices from leaving the meeting room for nine hours.

Several Vatican officials have decried the police actions, with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone saying on June 26 that the raids had “no precedents even in communist regimes.”

The police raid also caused Dr. Peter Adriaenssens, the current sexual abuse commissioner, to resign from his post, accusing the police of “using us as bait” and undermining the commission's credibility by confiscating testimony that was given confidentially.

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Spiritual directors help find God's will for us, Pope Benedict teaches

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI highlighted today a saint from Turin as a model for priests in light of the recently concluded Year for Priests. The Holy Father said during his catechesis at Wednesday's general audience that St. Joseph Cafasso offers a reminder of the importance of having a "spiritual guide" in life.

The audience took place the day after Rome's feast day, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, when the Holy Father celebrated Mass at St. Peter's Basilica and bestowed the pallium upon the 38 metropolitan archbishops he named in the past year.

In his catechesis, he recalled the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Joseph Cafasso, a 19th century priest from the northern Italian city of Turin, who was a moral theology professor and a respected spiritual director.

Pope Benedict said of the saint, "His secret was simple: being a man of God, doing, in the small daily activities, 'that which could give the greatest glory to God and in favor of souls."

Among those who looked to him for direction was the young St. John Bosco, also a resident of Turin, of whom the Holy Father noted that the Fr. Cafasso never sought to create in him "a disciple in his image and likeness."

Don Bosco, the Pope recalled, imitated his teacher "in the human and priestly virtues ... but maintained his own attitudes and his own specific vocation, a sign of the wisdom of the spiritual director and of the intelligence of the disciple ..."

"Dear friends," said Pope Benedict, "this is a precious teaching for all those who are committed to the formation and education of the young generations and also a strong call back to how much it is important to have a spiritual guide in our lives, who can help us to understand what it is that God wants from us."

St. Cafasso also made a lasting mark in his ministry to those in jail, said the Pope, explaining that he was known to spend numerous hours hearing inmates' confessions, thus developing a "fruitful" apostolate with prisoners who, through him, re-encountered God's infinite mercy.

For the saint's dedication to prison ministry, he was named the patron of Italian prisons and, years after his death, Pope Pius XII pointed to him as a model for all priests who hear confessions and give spiritual direction.

Pope Benedict urged clergy today to look to him for direction, saying, "May his example encourage all priests in faithful witness to the Gospel."

Fr. Cafasso is just the most recent clergyman from Turin to be mentioned in the Holy Father's catecheses. Earlier this spring, he recognized the Turinese priest saints Fr. Leonard Murialdo, the founder of the Congregation of Saint Joseph and Fr. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, founder of the Little House of Divine Providence, which was visited by Pope Benedict during his trip to Turin in May.

Benedict XVI went on to recognize the metropolitan archbishops present in the square during the individual language greetings. He greeted each English-speaking prelate by name, including the three Americans that received the pallium on Tuesday.

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Cardinal Ouellet appointed as head of Congregation for Bishops

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Wednesday, the Vatican announced the nomination of Cardinal Marc Ouellet to take the place of the retiring Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re in his two major positions in the Roman Curia. With the appointment, Cardinal Ouellet, no stranger to Rome, will enter into the Vatican ranks as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada since 2002, the Canadian prelate was created cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003.

According a biography released by the Catholic Church of Quebec, Cardinal Ouellet received teaching instruction from an early stage in his life and went on to get his B.A. in education from Laval University before taking on theological studies at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal from 1964-68. Upon graduating with his licentiate in theology, he was ordained a priest for his home diocese of Amos.

He earned a second licentiate from St. Thomas Aquinas Pontifical University in Rome in philosophy from 1974 and obtained a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1983.

He has taught philosophy and theology extensively in a number of seminaries in Canada and Columbia as well as at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.

He served as secretary to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity from March 2001 until his installment as Archbishop of Quebec in Jan. 2003. He has also held a number of consultancy positions to various Vatican congregations. He currently is a consultor to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, a member of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, and advisor to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Upon hearing of the cardinal's appointment, Bishop Pierre Morissette sent him a letter of congratulations, saying, “It is a joy and pleasure for me as President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to congratulate His Eminence Marc Cardinal Ouellet on his appointment … Cardinal Ouellet is accompanied by the prayers and good wishes of all the Bishops of Canada … ”

Outgoing Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re has held the position of prefect of the Congregation of Bishops for the last 10 years. His extensive resume most notably includes his responsibilities as a member of the Secretariat of State, the Vatican congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Evangelization of Peoples, the Oriental Churches and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

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Pope appoints Archbishop Fisichella to lead Council for New Evangelization

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Among a flurry of announcements from the Holy See on Wednesday, the Holy Father officially nominated the current head of the Pontifical Academy for Life to lead the recently announced Pontifical Council for New Evangelization. Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella will lead the Church in the formidable challenge of re-evangelizing the "secularized" countries of the world.

With his nomination to the presidency of the new council, Archbishop Fisichella has been relieved of the reigns of the Pontifical Academy for Life (Pro Vita), where he had been the since June 2008, as well as his position as rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, which he had held since Jan. 2002.

Born in Codogno in northern Italy on August 25, 1951, Salvatore "Rino" Fisichella was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Rome on March 13,1976 and became an auxiliary of the same diocese and Titular Bishop of Vicohabentia in 1988. He was made archbishop in 2008 after taking charge of the Academy for Life.

The prelate is also a member of the Vatican congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith and for the Causes of Saints.

The plan to create the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization Archbishop Fisichella will be heading was announced by Pope Benedict from the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-walls in Rome on Monday during the celebration of First Vespers for the eve of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. The council will aim to address the "progressive secularization" of historically Christian areas of the world.

The Pope said then that it will have "the important task of promoting a renewed evangelization in countries where the first announcement of the faith has already resounded and Churches of ancient foundation are present, but are living (through) a progressive secularization of society and a sort of 'eclipse of the sense of God'."

A document on the new Council hasn't been published yet, Fr. Federico Lombardi explained to journalists on Wednesday. He added that it should not be expected to be released in the immediate future.

The Vatican spokesman said that the document defining the council needs to be prepared with more breadth, taking account of various suggestions and considerations. He pointed journalists to the Holy Father's words from vespers on the known details of the new dicastery.

Nominations to replace Archbishop Fisichella in his previous charges accompanied the Wednesday's announcement. To fill his shoes as rector at the Lateran University will be Fr. Enrico dal Covolo, a professor of ancient Greek Christian literature at the Pontifical Salesian University and member of the Pontifical Academy of Theology.

The new president of the Pontifical Academy for Life will be Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula who was the academy's chancellor.

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Vatican spokesman confirms Swiss bishop will fill Christian Unity post

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Speaking with journalists at the Holy See's Press Office on Wednesday, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, said that more nominations can be expected to follow Wednesday's bombardment of resignations and appointments to different positions within the Church's Roman Curia.

Wednesday's flood of appointments included Cardinal Marc Ouellet being announced as the new prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the naming of Archbishop Rino Fisichella as head of the just created Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

The Vatican's "voice" said that he expects the appointment of Swiss Bishop of Basel, Kurt Koch to the presidency of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to happen on Thursday as he mentioned had been indicated within the Vatican previously.

"We'll publish it on July 1," said Lombardi, "but he has already made his farewell letter to the diocese, explaining that he's been called to Rome and has also been named Apostolic Administrator of Basel" for the time it takes to name another bishop.

Bishop Koch will take the place of Cardinal Walter Kasper who has occupied the post for the last 11 years.

Asked by journalists for an idea of when the nomination of the Apostolic Delegate to the Legionaries of Christ might come, he said, "Certainly we're all waiting for it, but I don't think it's tomorrow."

He also added that an appointment will need to be made to replace Archbishop Celestino Migliore, who was reassigned to the Apostolic Nunciature in Poland from his place as the Permanent Observer to the United Nations.

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Pope appoints priest-doctor as president of Pontifical Academy for Life

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Holy See announced the nomination of priest, medical doctor and philosopher Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula to the presidency of the Pontifical Academy for Life on Wednesday. He will take over at the helm of the academy following the resignation of Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella.

This morning, in announcing the resignation of Archbishop Fisichella, Pope Benedict appointed Msgr. Carrasco de Paula as president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (Pro Vita) from his current position as chancellor of the same academy. The previous president stepped down due to his appointment as the head of the recently announced Vatican dicastery for renewed evangelization.

Msgr. Carrasco de Paula was born in Barcelona, Spain on October 25, 1937, earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1962 and another in medicine and surgery in 1962. He has held a variety of positions in Rome since his ordination to the priesthood in 1966.

Besides serving as chancellor of the Academy for Life, he is a consultor to both the Pontifical Councils for the Family and for Health Pastoral Care, and is the vice-assistant of the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors. He is also a member of the ethics committee for the experimentation clinic at Rome's Bambino Gesu Hospital.

Among other positions he has held in his medical career are being the ordinary of bioethics in the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery "A. Gemelli" at Sacred Heart University in Rome and a seven-year stint as the Bioethics Institute's director from 2002 - 2009.

Msgr. Carrasco de Paula has also served as the rector of Opus Dei's Holy Cross University from 1984-1994 and the director of its Moral Theology Department from 1994-2002.

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Vatican's permanent UN observer made Apostolic Nuncio to Poland

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - There was really only one surprise in the whirlwind of appointments and resignations at the Vatican on Wednesday. Few people, if anyone, expected the Holy Father's appointment of Archbishop Celestino Migliore, until now the Holy See's permanent observer to the U.N., as the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland.

Archbishop Migliore was born in Cuneo, Italy on July 1, 1952 and was ordained to the priesthood in June 1977. In 1980 he entered into the Holy See's diplomatic corps, carrying out roles at pontifical missions in Angola, the U.S., Egypt and Poland.

He was sent to the Council of Europe in 1992 as the Holy See's special envoy, was named sub-secretary of the "relations with states" section of the Vatican's Secretariat of State in 1995 and, in 2002, was appointed as the Holy See's permanent observer to the United Nations.

He was made archbishop on Jan. 6, 2003 because of his appointment to serve as the observer at the U.N.

The nunciature position was vacated in May of this year when Jozef Kowalczyk was appointed as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Gniezno, Poland. Archbishop Migliore worked with the Polish prelate while carrying out his service with the diplomatic corps in the country in the late 1980s, according to a Polish Radio report on Wednesday.

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Holy Father gives Spokane diocese new bishop

Spokane, Wash., Jun 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI made headlines in Washington state today by appointing Bishop Blase Cupich to the Diocese of Spokane and accepting the resignation of Bishop William Skylstad who has reached the age of retirement.

In a press conference this morning, Bishop Skylstad reflected on his years as leader of the Washington flock, saying he is “humbled to have had the honor of serving in the Diocese of Spokane as its bishop since April of 1990.”

“Although these years have not been without challenges, it has been a time of great joy in my life,” he added.

Speaking on the appointment of the new bishop, the prelate said that it “is with great joy I introduce to you today my successor, Bishop Blase Cupich, presently the Bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, who will become Bishop of Spokane when he is installed on September 3, 2010.”

“I have known Bishop Cupich for many years,” Bishop Skylstad noted. “He brings a wealth of experience and talents to this ministry. The Catholic Church in Eastern Washington is richly blessed by his appointment as shepherd of this flock.”

Bishop Cupich, who currently serves in the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1949.  After attending the College of St. Thomas in Minnesota and the North American College and Gregorian University in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1975.

The prelate later completed post graduate studies at Catholic University of America and was ordained and installed as Bishop of Rapid City in 1998. He currently chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Protection of Children and Young People.

As shepherd of the Diocese of Spokane, Bishop Cupich will lead 101,700, Catholics, 152 priests, 55 permanent deacons and 303 religious.

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Pope, Belgian archbishop discuss police raid

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI received in a private audience this Wednesday Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels, who is also the president of the Belgian Episcopal Conference. In their conversation, the two discussed the recent Belgian police raid in the archdiocese.

The unscheduled meeting, the only private one held today by the Pontiff, lasted more than the usual and was dedicated to discussing “Operation Chalice,” the Belgian police raid that included holding all of the Belgian bishops for nine hours, the seizing of hundreds of documents and police drilling holes into the tombs of two deceased cardinals.

“There are more than sufficient motives for them to meet, I think,” Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Vatican Press Office, told a group of journalists.

Asked later about details regarding Archbishop Leonard's encounter with Pope Benedict, Fr. Lombardi told reporters that “we have indicated it (in the official press bulletin) because it was important to note, but about the content, I think it's obvious: an interchange of information about the situation in Belgium, (and) to thank (Pope Benedict) for his support.”

Archbishop Leonard was in Rome along with 37 other metropolitan archbishops to receive the pallium during yesterday's Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

After last Thursday’s police raid, Archbishop Leonard condemned the search at Saint Rombout Cathedral, including the drilling into the tombs of the two deceased cardinals, saying that “this is stuff for crime novels and 'The Da Vinci Code'.”

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Bishop’s death in Turkey a call to Christian unity

Rome, Italy, Jun 30, 2010 (CNA) - Speaking about the June 3 murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, a missionary priest working in the country said the bishop’s death “is a call to unity in the Church and among Christians.”

In an interview with Fides news agency, the priest, who preferred to remain anonymous for safety reasons, said the crime against Bishop Padovese “is also a call to strengthen the ecumenical spirit and work untiringly for the unity of all Christian denominations.”

“We are experiencing a strong call to develop a pastoral practice based the model of those who have lived authentic faith in Muslim environment,” the priest said.  “In Turkey today the Islamist and nationalist forces have been stirred up and are hostile towards the Catholic Church and her representatives,” he added.

He noted that “the Christian community is experiencing difficulties due to the lack of official recognition and the obstacles that still exist for religious worship.”  The priest pointed to the case of the Church of St. Paul in the city of Tarsus, which has been transformed by Turkish officials into a museum that “Christians can only visit by purchasing a ticket and where Mass can be celebrated only by reserving dates ahead of time.”

Bishop Padovese was working towards getting the church turned back over to the Christian community, “but this has not yet occurred and we don’t know if it really will.”

“The murder of Bishop Padovese has produced fear, confusion and uncertainty.  But let us not lose hope and trust in Providence,” the priest stated.

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