Rome, Italy, Jul 13, 2010 (CNA) - Following the success of the first World Cup in Africa, an internationally-active Catholic missions organization is imagining the possibility of the continent breaking new ground by hosting some major Catholic events.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup wrapped up on Sunday in Johannesburg, South Africa with Spain prevailing over Holland by a score of 1-0 in the final.
The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) asked on its website, "So, now that Africa ... has shown it can organize a great international event, handling public order, why doesn't the Church also entrust the continent with the promotion of a great world appointment, something that until now has never happened?"
Through their www.missionline.org website, writer Gerolamo Fazzini proposed on behalf of the organization that Africa should be considered to host the next World Youth Day or the 2012 World Family Encounter.
Reasoning that the greatest percentage of youth in the Church and the greatest increase in the number of Christians can be found on the continent, he proposed that the "vitality" of African Catholics should be awarded. Fazzini called Africa "the natural candidate" for a continental conference with the "Church-family" as its focus.
"Besides being a sign of esteem, (which would be) politically important, the assignment of a great ecclesial event to Africa would also offer a concrete sign of a truly universal Church that bets on the poor and their resources. A sign of counter-trend, of which we have enormous need."
Belfast, UK, Jul 13, 2010 (CNA) -
A rally in northern Ireland sponsored by several pro-life organizations drew a crowd of close to 4,000 on July 4.
The forth annual All Ireland pro-life event was held in Belfast and led by pro-life groups in the area, including Precious Life, Youth Defence and the Life Institute.
Youth Defence reported that the colorful, festive parade attracted attention from the city's inhabitants as they marched through Belfast's high density shopping district to Custom House Square, where the attendees heard speeches from pro-life leaders. The day's events also included face-painting, balloons and music for the family-filled crowd.
“We’re so delighted to see that the number of people coming out to protect life is growing every year. The Rally was a great day out for everyone – a real occasion to celebrate life,” Ide Nic Mhathúna of the organizing committee told Youth Defence. “And most importantly it brought people together to stand against abortion, and to become part of the important work done north and south to protect human life.”
The event organizer also highlighted in her remarks that the rally is “an important reminder to our politicians that the majority of Irish people are pro-life.”
One of the speakers, Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute, addressed the need during her speech for Irish citizens to work to ensure that proposed legislation banning embryonic stem cell research is passed. Uí Bhriain also spoke on the upcoming efforts this summer to reach 600,000 people in the country with the pro-life message.
Bernadette Smyth of the group Precious Life closed the rally with a speech urging the enthused crowd of pro-lifers to be “a voice for the voiceless, for mothers and babies, for the Culture of Life.”
Philadelphia, Pa., Jul 13, 2010 (CNA) - Cardinal Justin Rigali will deliver the opening address of a Conference on Addictions which will consider the pastoral concerns regarding addiction. The cardinal warns that people of all backgrounds and ages can be affected by addiction, noting that the inviolable dignity of the person is especially relevant in this area.
The conference will focus on the relation between the sacred and the therapeutic dimensions of clinical pastoral care in addictions ministry, a press release from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia says. Issues of prevention, treatment and recovery will be addressed as well as the pastoral care of individuals and families.
The event is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 5 at the Sheraton City Center Hotel in Philadelphia and will close with an afternoon Mass celebrated by the cardinal at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Cardinal Rigali’s opening address will be based on his book “Let the Oppressed Go Free: Breaking the Bonds of Addiction,” published as part of Basilica Press’ Shepherd’s Voice Series.
In his book, the cardinal writes that the Catholic Church has addressed addiction and dependency in various ways: calling for care for the drug addicted or dependent, offering spiritual guidance for those in recovery, and advocating for greater integration of pastoral and clinical strategies for both treatment and prevention of addiction.
“ … the contemporary culture so often casts persons to the sidelines, and in their pain they sometimes seek out ways of coping that do further harm to their human dignity,” Cardinal Rigali writes in the book’s introduction. “Pastoral experience tells us that persons of all backgrounds and ages can be affected by addiction. The Church always calls us to appreciate and renew our dedication to the inviolable dignity of the human person. This is especially true in the area of addiction.”
Brooklyn, N.Y., Jul 13, 2010 (CNA) -
The Diocese of Brooklyn has officially opened the Cause of Canonization for Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn, a 20th century priest known for fighting bigotry and reaching out to the community's African American population.
Born in Newark in 1888, Msgr. Quinn later realized as a young priest that African American Catholics were being neglected in his diocese and sought the permission of the local bishop to begin an “apostolate to Blacks.”
After serving as an army chaplain in France during WWI, Msgr. Quinn returned and with diocesan support bought a former Protestant church in Brooklyn. The church was blessed and dedicated to St. Peter Claver on February 26, 1922.
In an effort to help children orphaned by the Great Depression, Msgr. Quinn also began Little Flower Children Services. He publicly opposed the Klu Klux Klan when they allegedly burned the orphanage to the ground on two separate occasions.
According to the Diocese of Brooklyn, when the priest died at the age of 52 in 1940, over 8,000 people attended his funeral.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, the current Bishop of Brooklyn, recognized the saintly witness of Msgr. Quinn, and on June 24, 2010, he officially opened the diocesan phase of the cause for the canonization of the much-loved priest, during a Vespers service at St. Peter Claver parish.
“Almighty God blessed the Diocese of Brooklyn by sending Father Quinn to minister among us,” Bishop DiMarzio said. “That ministry did not end upon his death but has continued to grow and take root in the hearts and souls of the faithful and clergy of this church in New York, which has continually ministered to the poor and oppressed.”
“I am delighted to be given the privilege to preside at the opening of the cause of canonization for this priest who was a courageous and tireless proponent of the equality of all people,” he added.
After an examination of the priest's records, two miracles need to be attributed to him before verification is conducted by the Vatican. The final decision on whether or not to canonize Msgr. Quinn will be made by the Holy Father.
Vatican City, Jul 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Tuesday, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict decided the theme for the 2011 World Day of Peace celebration will be “Religious freedom, the path to peace.”
A communique released on July 13 stated that the event, “will therefore be dedicated to the theme of religious freedom. It is well known that in many parts of the world there are various forms of restriction or denial of religious freedom, from discrimination and marginalization based on religion, to acts of violence against religious minorities.”
According to the Vatican, the World Day of Peace has been celebrated every year on January 1, since 1968.
Emphasizing that religious freedom is about man coming to understand himself, the Holy See said in its communique, “Religious freedom is authentically realized when it is experienced as the coherent search for truth and for the truth about man. This approach to religious freedom offers us a fundamental criterion for discerning the phenomenon of religion and its expressions.”
The statement also underlined that the approach “necessarily rejects the 'religiosity' of fundamentalism, and the manipulation of truth and of the truth about man. Since such distortions are opposed to the dignity of man and to the search for truth, they cannot be considered as religious freedom.”
Quoting the words of the Holy Father when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 2008, the statement said, “Human rights, of course, must include the right to religious freedom, understood as the expression of a dimension that is at once individual and communitarian - a vision that brings out the unity of the person while clearly distinguishing between the dimension of the citizen and that of the believer.”
“Today,” the communique added, “there are many areas of the world in which forms of restrictions and limitations to religious freedom persist, both where communities of believers are a minority, and where communities of believers are not a minority, and where more sophisticated forms of discrimination and marginalization exist, on the cultural level and in the spheres of public, civil and political activity.”
“It is inconceivable,” Benedict XVI remarked during his address to the U.N., “that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves - their faith - in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one's rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature.”
“Refusal to recognize the contribution to society that is rooted in the religious dimension and in the quest for the Absolute - by its nature, expressing communion between persons - would effectively privilege an individualistic approach, and would fragment the unity of the person,” the Holy Father told the U.N.
Tuesday's communique concluded by emphasizing that, in light of the Pontiff's words, “man cannot be fragmented, and separated from what he believes, because that in which he believes has an impact on his life and on his person.”
Madrid, Spain, Jul 13, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Francisco Gil Hellin of Burgos warned this week there is no right to kill an innocent human being and therefore no obligation to obey to the new law on abortion. Rather, “direct opposition without distinction” must be mounted, he said.
“Let’s be clear: this law is not a law, although it is presented as such by some politicians and lawmakers. It is no law because nobody has the right to take the life of an innocent human being. For this reason it is not obligatory. Moreover, it demands direct opposition without distinction,” the archbishop said in a letter.
He underscored that reason cannot recognize abortion as a right because it constitutes the killing “of a person who is not guilty.” “The right of a person to exist who has already been conceived, although not yet born, is not a belief stemming from any religion. One does not need to be a believer to hold that an innocent person has the right to be defended and respected in his or her integrity. Common sense dictates that one cannot take a human life in order to solve another problem or to “get money or votes,” he said.
The archbishop went on to say it is a “fallacy to assert that this law was passed by a majority in Parliament and that it represents the will of the majority of citizens, or if the Constitutional Court upholds it, that opposing it would be disobedient and would warrant sanction.”
“The fallacy consists in giving politicians, judges or citizens a right they do not have. And nobody has the right to legislate the killing of an innocent person,” Archbishop Gil Hellin said. He urged Spaniards to help all mothers who are in difficult situations and to support motherhood “with all the means at our disposal” in order to “halt this plague of abortion that, in Spain alone has already destroyed more people than all those who live in the cities of Zaragoza, Cordoba and Burgos.”
Madrid, Spain, Jul 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pilgrims attending World Youth Day in Madrid next year will see a monstrance from the 15th century that is known as “the finest example of Spanish silverwork of all time.” The Monstrance of Arfe will used during a time of Eucharist adoration led by Pope Benedict XVI at the international youth gathering.
According to a press release, the monstrance “is popularly known for being used during the Corpus Christi procession each year in Toledo. It measures almost 9 feet tall and is made of gold and silver.”
Francisco Portela, professor of Art History at the Compultense University of Madrid, said the monstrance “is the finest example of Spanish silverwork of all time” and underscored that WYD would be a worthy occasion to bring the masterpiece to Madrid.
Juan Sanchez, the dean of the Cathedral of Toledo, where the monstrance is kept, said, “We were pleased to allow the monstrance to be used for WYD, knowing that it will be used for such a great purpose.”
The origin of Eucharistic monstrances dates back to the 13th century with the establishment of the feast of Corpus Christi. They were developed primarily in Flanders and Germany, where the Arfe family had its origins.
The famous Monstrance of Arfe is the masterpiece of German silversmith Henry of Arfe, who finished it in 1524 after nine years of work.
The Eucharistic adoration led by the Holy Father will take place on August 20 at the Cuatro Vientos Airfield, where the vigil will be held on Saturday night. Young people will be able to “contemplate and admire a work of art that is unique in the world and is being used as its creators imagined, and they will rediscover the value of art in the liturgy,” organizers said.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 13, 2010 (CNA) - Various organizations in the Yucatan Peninsula devoted to pro-life work are celebrating the first anniversary of their state’s reforms that ensured legal protection for the unborn and that made it one of 17 Mexican states to enact such legislation.
The Pro-Yucatan Network, which brings together 47 different organizations, will celebrate the first anniversary of the state’s constitutional reform on July 15. The reforms were passed by overwhelming majorities and were backed by the vast majority of Mexicans.
Speaking to reporters, Ivette Lavida, the president of the Pro-Yucatan Network, said the pro-life legislation “expressly upholds that from the moment of conception (the unborn) are granted protection under the law and are considered born as far as the corresponding legal effects are concerned until natural death, with all of the exceptions already envisaged in ordinary law.”
“The defense of life is not a whim, it is a commitment shared by the majority of Mexicans,” she said.
The constitutional changes are intended to protect women, especially those who are pregnant, she added. They do not criminalize women but rather grant her the full guarantee of the defense of life from the moment of conception, Lavida said.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 13, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Jorge Luis Lona of San Luis, Argentina said a proposed law to allow same-sex “marriage” in Argentina “defies both faith and reason.” He also stated that the bill constitutes “a rejection of God and is absurd.”
“Today,” the bishop said, “Argentineans are submitted to the continuous bombardment of the absurd. The media is trying to convince us over and over again that the marital union between a man and a woman is exactly the same as the marital union between two people of the same sex. Very few countries in the world have been able to legalize this absurdity. Will Argentinean legislators have the gall to join that short list?” he asked.
Bishop Lona said supporters are using illegal methods to try to get the bill passed and that the measure does not grant freedom of conscience, despite promises by lawmakers to the contrary. He slammed those who claim that refusing to support the measure would demonstrate “party disloyalty.”
The bishop pointed out that it has been well documented that those lawmakers who oppose the measure have been subjected to pressure—“including threats and extortion, in order to change their votes or not show up.”
“If this slight-of-hand works, the supposed law would be a complete mockery of the will of the Argentinean people,” he said.
Washington D.C., Jul 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After a federal judge in Massachusetts rejected a congressional act that recognized marriage as being between one man and one woman, the U.S. bishops' chairman for the Defense of Marriage responded by emphasizing that the state does not have the authority to redefine the vital institution, since marriage existed before the state.
“On behalf of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of Marriage,” Archbishop Joseph Kurtz began, “I express grave concern over these dangerous and disappointing rulings which ignore even the most apparent purposes of marriage and thus offend true justice.”
The archbishop, who is chairman of the committee, responded on July 12 to two July 8 rulings which held that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Section 3 states that for purposes of federal laws, regulations and rulings, “the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman.”
“Marriage – the union of one man and one woman – is a unique, irreplaceable institution. The very fabric of our society depends upon it,” said Archbishop Kurtz. “Nothing compares to the exclusive and permanent union of husband and wife. The state has a duty to employ the civil law to reinforce – and, indeed, to privilege uniquely – this vital institution of civil society.”
“The reasons to support marriage by law are countless, not least to protect the unique place of husbands and wives, the indispensable role of fathers and mothers, and the rights of children, who are often the most vulnerable among us,” the archbishop explained. “And yet, a judge has decided that a marriage-reinforcing law like DOMA fails to serve even a single, minimally rational government interest.”
The two court rulings were from separate lawsuits filed in Massachusetts. In Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the court ruled that section 3 of DOMA violates the principles of equal protection guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. In Commonwealth of Mass. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the court ruled that it violates the Tenth Amendment and Spending Clause.
As part of the Gill ruling, U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro stated that “as irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest,” section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.
But Archbishop Kurtz strongly disagreed, saying, “To claim that defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman is somehow irrational, prejudiced, or even bigoted, is a great disservice not only to truth but to the good of our nation.
“Marriage exists prior to the state and is not open to redefinition by the state. The role of the state, instead, is to respect and reinforce marriage,” he explained.
“Thursday’s decision, by contrast, uses the power of the state to attack the perennial definition of marriage, reducing it merely to the union of any two consenting adults,” the bishops' marriage committee chairman said.
“But only a man and a woman are capable of entering into the unique, life-giving bond of marriage, with all of its specific responsibilities. Protecting marriage as only the union of one man and one woman is not merely a legitimate, but a vital government interest,” he insisted.
The USCCB Office of General Counsel commented that the court rulings erred on the meaning of marriage. The rulings were also mistaken, they said, because the Constitution does not prohibit Congress from acknowledging “marriage,” as the term is used in federal statutes, regulations and rulings, as being the union of one man and one woman.
Washington D.C., Jul 13, 2010 (CNA) - Critics condemned the Obama administration's approval of a federally funded $160 million high-risk insurance coverage initiative in Pennsylvania that was created as a part of the recent health care overhaul. The federal fund is being accused of allowing abortions to be paid for if they are deemed necessary by a physician.
National Right to Life issued a statement on Tuesday evening explaining that the $160 million plan is part of a $5 billion federal funding program set up under the Affordable Health Care Act that was signed into law in March.
Pennsylvania's high-risk pool program, submitted for approval by state Gov. Edward Randell, is one of the numerous provisions created under the recent legislation.
According to a press release by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, “the state will receive $160 million to set up the program, which will provide coverage to as many as 5,600 people between now and 2014.”
“The plan's benefit package will include preventive care, physician services, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, mental health services, prescription medications and much more, with subsidized premiums of $283 a month,” read the statement.
Pro-life analysts have condemned the plan, however, stressing that the high-risk insurance fund will cover abortions.
“The Obama Administration will give Pennsylvania $160 million in federal tax funds, which we've discovered will pay for insurance plans that cover any legal abortion,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC).
“This is just the first proof of the phoniness of President Obama's assurances that federal funds would not subsidize abortion – but it will not be the last,” Johnson charged.
NRLC reported that on May 11, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote a letter to congressional leaders addressing the high-risk pool program, saying that “states may choose whether and how they participate in the program, which is funded entirely by the federal government.”
Although the language of the Pennsylvania insurance plan states that the funding does not cover “elective abortions,” NRLC argued that nowhere in the document is the term “elective” defined.
Rather, abortions will be covered if they are prescribed under the necessary “requirements” of several statutes. According to NRLC, abortion is legal in Pennsylvania if a single physician believes that it is “necessary” based on “all factors (physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age) relevant to the well-being of the woman.”
NRLC said the language bars abortion only if it is motivated by gender discrimination.
“Under the Rendell-Sebelius plan, federal funds will subsidize coverage of abortion performed for any reason, except sex selection,” Johnson charged. “The Pennsylvania proposal conspicuously lacks language that would prevent funding of abortions performed as a method of birth control or for any other reason, except sex selection – and the Obama Administration has now approved this.”
Family Research Council senior vice president Tom McClusky also decried the $160 million plan on Tuesday.
“Never have we so regretted being right on an issue, but this $160 million for an abortion insurance program in Pennsylvania validates the arguments FRC Action made throughout the health care debate: Taxpayer dollars will fund abortions.”
“For our efforts to remove the bill's abortion funding, we were called 'deceivers' by President Obama and 'liars' by his allies,” he added. “Now we know who the true deceivers and liars really are.”
Commenting on the executive order that President Obama signed following the passage of the health care law which purports to ban federal funding of abortions, McClusky said this latest move proves the “worthlessness” of that action.
“While the American people deserve an apology from President Obama for his deception, we should only be satisfied when this Pennsylvania abortion funding is rescinded and the health care law repealed.”
CNA contacted the Pennsylvania Insurance Department's spokeswoman Rosanne Placey, who was not immediately able to give a reaction.