Archive of July 1, 2010

Re-center marriages from contraception to Christ, author says

New York City, N.Y., Jul 1, 2010 (CNA) - Patrick McCrystal, an Irish pharmacist and pro-life leader, has authored a book on the effect contraception has on marriages and on society as a whole. He calls contraception “a most potent destroyer of marital harmony,” urging couples to re-center their marriages upon Jesus Christ.

This week he is in New York City for the launch of his second book, “Who’s at the Centre of Your Marriage: The Pill or Jesus Christ?”

The contraceptive pill marked its 50th anniversary this year, provoking a variety of reactions. Time Magazine celebrated the creation of “the first medicine ever designed to be taken regularly by people who were not sick.”

However, movie star Raquel Welch published a commentary in the Daily Mail blaming the Pill for the decline of marriage, which she called “the cornerstone of civilization” that stabilizes society and provides a “sanctuary” for children.

“Most would be surprised to see me and Raquel Welch lining up on the same side of a debate, but she makes some very smart and accurate points in her column," McCrystal commented. "While her diagnosis is correct, my book goes a step further to offer the prescription that can help heal ailing couples: re-centering their marriage on Christ."

McCrystal stopped dispensing the contraceptive pill in 1993 because of its abortion-causing effects. Because of this, he lost his job and was unemployed for three years.

He has since spent thousands of hours in research, writing and speaking internationally on contraception and related issues.

Presently the chairman of Human Life International’s Ireland office, he resides in Northern Ireland with his wife Therese. He is a father of five children.

On Friday the writer will be joined in New York by Tony and Ann Crowe, a young Irish couple who will explain how contraception almost destroyed their marriage.

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Vatican lawyer stresses Supreme Court ruling was not on merit of case

Berkeley, Calif., Jul 1, 2010 (CNA) - Commenting on the Supreme Court ruling earlier this week that allowed a lawsuit against the Holy See to continue, U.S. Vatican attorney Jeffrey Lena spoke to CNA, clarifying that the move had nothing to do with and “is not a comment” on the individual merits of the case.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined an immunity appeal by the Holy See in a case that attempts to sue the Vatican for transferring a priest accused of sexually abusing a minors several decades ago. The ruling by the Supreme Court allows the case to move forward.

An anonymous plaintiff from Oregon filed suit against the Vatican in 2002 after Fr. Andrew Ronan, an Irish priest with a history of sexually abusing minors, was transferred from Ireland to the U.S. and eventually moved to the Portland, Oregon. According to Reuters news agency, Fr. Ronan died in 1992.

The plaintiff says he was abused by Fr. Ronan several times in the mid 1960s and has filed suit against the Vatican, charging that the Catholic Church is responsible for transferring the priest and conspiring to cover up the allegations. The plaintiff has also charged that the priest in question was an employee of the Holy See, thus indicating that the responsibility for the alleged sex abuse belongs to the Vatican.

Jeffrey Lena, U.S. lawyer for the Vatican, clarified in remarks to CNA on June 28 that the “effect of the Supreme Court's decision is to cause the case to return to the district court in Oregon, where the additional remaining defenses will be heard.”

Lena stressed that the ruling “is not a comment” on the merits of the case.   

The plaintiff, he explained, “currently has one jurisdictional theory left. That theory is that the priest who committed the abuse was an 'employee' of the Holy See.”

“We will, of course, point out to the district court that the priest in question is not an employee of the Holy See, and that, therefore, the district court does not have jurisdiction over the case.”

“In our view the indicia of employment simply are not present,” he added. “The Holy See does not pay the salary of the priest, or benefits of the priest, or exercise day-to-day control over the priest, and any of the other factors indicating the presence of an employment relationship.” 

Noting that Fr. Ronan was a priest of the Order Friar Servants of Mary, Lena stated that his “very existence was unknown to the Holy See until after all the events in question.”

“The Holy See has yet to factually challenge whether Ronan was an employee and this is what will be addressed back in the district court,” he noted. “The key jurisdictional issue in the case is whether the priest is an employee of the Holy See.”

“The plaintiffs have yet to come up with any evidence that Ronan worked for the Vatican. They have all the documents from the order and the diocese. None of these bear the fingerprints of the Holy See.”

Lena also criticized other media coverage of the ruling that used the terms “Catholic Church” and “Holy See” interchangeably. On Monday, the Agence France Presse (AFP) wrote that the lawsuit is a “landmark case that opens the way for the Catholic Church in the United States to be sued for a litany of child sex abuse cases.”

“It is the Holy See that is the defendant,” Lena underscored. “The 'Church' does not enjoy sovereign immunity and has never asked for it. It is only the Holy See.”

One “should not be treating those as having the same meaning at all,” he said.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who is representing John Doe in the case, did not return phone calls before publication time.

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Fiftieth parish closes in Diocese of Cleveland’s consolidation program

Cleveland, Ohio, Jul 1, 2010 (CNA) - St. Emeric’s Church in Cleveland has become the 50th parish to close in a massive downsizing program announced last year.

As reasons for the program the Diocese of Cleveland has cited falling attendance, a priest shortage and financial problems. Many of the parishes were operating in the red. Some were closed and others were merged, with 174 parishes remaining in the diocese.

The closed parishes tended to be older and ethnic in character.

St. Emeric’s has served Hungarian Catholics in the city. Its parishioners have picketed outside the bishop’s office and have held Mass on the sidewalk in the rain in protest.

The parish was planned to have its final Mass on Wednesday but parish administrator Fr. Sandor Siklodi, parish leaders and parishioners told Bishop of Cleveland Richard Lennon that they would not be participating in the closing Mass.

The Diocese of Cleveland said in a news release that because of this “it does not seem appropriate that a closing Mass be celebrated in such a manner, thus there will be no closing Mass celebrated by Bishop Richard Lennon.”

The diocese said that those who wish to worship and receive the sacraments in the Hungarian language are encouraged to do so at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish.

“The Church is about people and their faith, not about buildings, and we will always be here to serve the people,” said Bishop Lennon in a March 2009 statement announcing the closures. “The task for the Church is to be faithful to what God asks of us, which is to bring the message of Jesus Christ to all people, to reach out and serve the poor and marginalized among us, and to become holy and bring people closer to God.”

The diocese has said population shifts in the region and movement away from urban areas have meant that about two-thirds of the diocese’s Catholics are served by one-third of the diocese’s parishes.

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Holy Father praying for fair elections, spread of peace

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Today the Vatican announced the Holy Father's intentions for the month of July, which include prayers that elections around the world will be carried out with fairness and respect of citizens' freedom and that Christians, particularly in urban areas, will strive to contribute to solidarity and peace.

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for July is: “That in every nation of the world the election of officials may be carried out with justice, transparency and honesty, respecting the free decisions of citizens.”

The Pontiff's mission intention is: “That Christians may strive to offer everywhere, but especially in great urban centers, an effective contribution to the promotion of education, justice, solidarity and peace.”

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Pope approves canonization for Italian priest, 35 beatifications

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI authorized the Pontifical Council for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decrees on a variety of miracles, martyrs and declarations of heroic virtue on Thursday. Included among the European majority is an Italian priest destined for canonization.

Just a day after the Church's celebration of the Feast of the First Martyrs of the Church, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the congregation, met to review saints' causes that were up for approval.

Topping the list of candidates is the man who will become the Church's newest saint, Blessed Luigi Guanella, Italian priest-founder of the Servants of Charity congregation of religious brothers and of the Institute of the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. Living from 1842 to 1915, he first started the sisters' orphanage to assist a children's home he had founded.

The community now has 100 homes and 1,200 religious sisters.

In addition to establishing the Servants of Charity, which now has 500 members dedicated to assisting those in need, two years before his own death he founded the Pious Union of Saint Joseph whose members pray for the dying. The first of what has now become millions of members of the prayer group was Pope Pius X.

The cause for Blessed Guanella's canonization was begun in Rome on March 15, 1939 and Pope Paul VI beatified him on Oct. 25, 1964.

Of the 35 beatifications that were authorized on Thursday, four result from miracles attributed to Italians.

A Hungarian bishop is included among the ranks of the 31 martyrs approved for beatification. Servant of God Janos Scheffler, Bishop of Satu Mare, was killed in Bucharest, Romania in 1952.

In addition to Bishop Scheffler, 16 members of the Congregation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary and 10 members of the Carmelite Order, killed during the Spanish Civil War, have also been approved as martyrs for the faith.

The remaining martyrs consist of three diocesan priests killed in Hamburg, Germany during World War II and a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul martyred in the 18th century in Dax, France.

"Heroic virtue" was declared to have been present in the lives of six Catholics, including Servant of God Maria, who was born Casimira Kaupas in Lithuania in 1880 and died in Chicago in 1940, having founded the Sisters of St. Casimir.

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Former Augsburg bishop admits mistakes, Pope hopes for open hearts

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Emeritus of Augsburg, Walter Mixa spoke privately with Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday about the situation surrounding his removal from the episcopate nearly two months ago. A note released about the meeting illustrates a "truly beautiful example" from the Pope on how to address problems within the Church.

Pope Benedict XVI accepted Bishop Mixa's resignation just a matter of weeks after he submitted his papers on April 22. He resigned after reports surfaced that he had slapped orphans in the 1980s and misused Church funds destined for the orphanage.

According to a statement from the Holy See's Press Office recognizing Thursday's meeting with the Pope, Bishop Mixa stressed during the audience that he had always attempted to carry out his ministry "well and conscientiously."

"But in all sincerity and humility," continues the Vatican communique, "he also confirmed the recognition of having committed mistakes and errors, that caused a loss of faith and made his resignation inevitable."

Bishop Mixa went on to ask forgiveness for "all of his mistakes," while also asking that his good deeds be remembered.

According to the statement, Pope Benedict "hoped that the request would find open ears and hearts."

The Holy Father also looked for reconciliation to follow the open controversy which surrounded the bishop's final months in the episcopate and continued after his resignation was accepted. The most recent wrinkle in the bishop's case came out in an interview with the German publication Die Welt in which the bishop said that he was forced to resign by his brother bishops.

According to the Vatican communique, the decision to accept Bishop Mixa's resignation was "definitively confirmed" during the audience and the bishop emeritus will retreat from the public sphere for time of prayer, concentration and silence. The statement also added, that after a period of treatment and reconciliation, Bishop Mixa would be able to take up pastoral work again as his not yet named successor sees fit.

The note highlighted the Holy Father's hope for a renewed spirit of mercy and a confident abandonment to the Lord's guidance, his wishes for fellow bishops' closeness, comprehension and assistance and his wishes for the faithful of the German diocese to welcome a successor "with open hearts."

For the Pope, continued the statement, "In a time of contrasts and uncertainties, the world expects from Christians the harmonious witness that they, based on their encounter with the risen Lord, are able to offer and in which they help each other as also in all of society to find the right way towards the future."

Commenting on the statement, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said, "I must say, it's a communique of great beauty and spiritual depth.

"It demonstrates how the Pope carries out his ministry with great spiritual density ... he truly helps the Church to find the correct path to go forward in a way always in communion and on a path of continuous reconciliation."

A statement like this, he said, illustrates "a good path for the Church in today's situation and a truly beautiful example that the Pope gives us of how to confront problems of situations of tension and also of difficulty."

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Pope makes appointment of Swiss bishop to Christian Unity council official

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Setting in concrete an appointment that was already well known, Bishop of Basel Kurt Koch has been named as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He takes the place of Cardinal Walter Kasper at the helm of the Vatican's department for ecumenical outreach.

The announcement came at noon on Thursday in a statement from the Holy See's Press Office, by which time it was little more than a formality. Bishop Koch had already given a farewell speech to his diocese on Wednesday.

Bishop Koch, who holds a doctorate in theology, was ordained to the priesthood in 1982 and then to the episcopate 14 years ago by Pope John Paul II. He was made Bishop of Basel, Switzerland at that time, a charge he has held until now. He has been a member of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity since 2002.

The former president of the Swiss bishops will take over for Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has been the council's president since 1999.

Recounting the progresses that have been made in ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue in the last decade, the German prelate said at a June 25 press conference that the "torch" would be passed to a new generation that will treat relations with "new eyes."

To guide the first steps of this generation, the 60-year old Bishop Koch will be soon be made an archbishop in keeping with the dignity of his position as head of the council.

The Swiss Bishops' Conference welcomed his appointment on Wednesday, noting particularly how he will be able to carry out his "brilliant expertise and keen knowledge of theology in ecumenical relations, social issues and relations between Church and State” on a global level.

"Ecumenism has always been a central aspect of the theological and episcopal ministry of Bishop Kurt Koch," they wrote in a statement from their president, Bishop of Sion Norbert Brunner.

"As the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, he will work even harder at this goal of the Second Vatican Council and of the Popes, continuing the theological work that he has always had at heart.”

The World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit also welcomed the appointment, saying that they "see in Bishop Koch a reliable partner for all those involved in the ecumenical movement and trust he will continue Cardinal Walter Kasper's emphasis on spiritual ecumenism."

"Bishop Koch has been given a very important responsibility as the call for all Christians to be one comes from Jesus Christ himself," Rev. Tveit added, wishing him "much joy in fulfilling this calling, and that God may give him strength."

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Pope to tour Barcelona during November visit

Barcelona, Spain, Jul 1, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - Officials in Barcelona said this week Pope Benedict XVI will take a tour of the Spanish city in his popemobile when he travels there on November 7 for the consecration of the Church of the Holy Family.

In 1982, Pope John Paul II also toured the city in the popemobile.

According to Barcelona Mayor Jordi Hereu, the ride will be “a magnificent opportunity” to showcase the Catalan city to the world, because it will be “the first time the inside of Church of the Holy Family will be seen as a church.  He said Barcelonans are preparing for the visit “with great expectation.”

The Church of the Holy Family was designed by the famous architect Antonio Gaudi, and its construction first began in1882.

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Portuguese and Spanish bishops urge online evangelization

Madrid, Spain, Jul 1, 2010 (CNA) - The bishops’ committees on communication in Spain and Portugal ended a meeting in Malaga this week agreeing that the internet is part of today’s culture and that the Church must use it for evangelization.

Speaking to Spain's EFE news agency, Bishop Joan Piris, president of the Spanish bishops’ committee, said the new technologies are an opportunity to carry out pastoral work and that the Church “must not remain on the sidelines.”

He also said that for this reason priests must prepare themselves adequately to carry out their mission as “good communicators.”

“They must awaken interest and at the same time be understood,” Bishop Piris explained.

Regarding social networking sites, Bishop Piris said, “They need to be used properly in order to avoid becoming a salve” of the internet.

The presence of bishops in these new settings must not lead them to neglect the personal care of the faithful, he added, warning that virtual settings must not become a substitute for direct personal communication or for the experience of community in a religious sense, although they can compliment them and help some persons “to overcome loneliness.”

The president of the Portuguese bishops’ committee, Bishop Manuel Clemente, agreed that the communications media are not only an instrument but part of today’s culture.

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Bishop denounces violence, urges Mexicans to vote in upcoming election

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 1, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Luis Dibildox of Tampico has called on Mexicans to go to the polls on July 4 during the nation's upcoming election. At the same he denounced the violence that has struck several Mexican states, including the murder of the PRI party candidate for governor of Tamaulipas, Rodolfo Torre.

Bishop Dibildox said he would be carrying out his civic duty to vote on Sunday, because “it is an obligation and I must give an example.”

He urged officials ensure safety for voters, noting that some states “pay greater attention to this issue than others, and I think that we are lacking in security here.” Regarding the murder of Torre, the bishop said it was a “very terrible and unacceptable act of violence.”

“I think that in the wake of this incident, the necessary means will be taken so that there is strict vigilance and people can come out to vote. I think the elections will be peaceful,” he said.

Bishop Dibildox also stressed that behind the high incidence of violence lies a values problem. “This is bad for children and young people, who need to be taught to do good and to avoid these kinds of acts,” he said.

The bishop said those who commit such crimes are people who live outside the law and come mainly from low-income families with hardships. “They did not have the chance to receive love, and they have led a very difficult life,” he said.

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