Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 20, 2010 (CNA) - A justice of the peace in the Argentinean city of General Pico said this week she will not marry homosexual couples despite the country’s new law legalizing such unions.
Marta Covella told reporters she would not marry gay couples “even if it costs me my job, even if it costs me my life.”
“They can accuse me of what they want. God has spoken, and I am going to obey Him to the letter, even if it costs me my job, even if it costs me my life, because what God says comes first,” she said.
Covella said her stance was based on her Christian beliefs. “God loves all people but He does not approve of the evil things that people do. And a homosexual relationship is something evil in the eyes of God,” she said.
Washington D.C., Jul 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After a group from a Christian school in Arizona was told by a U.S. Supreme Court police officer that they must stop praying outside of the court building because it is against the law, a legal defense fund has sent a letter to Supreme Court officials to protest the action. In response, Court officials reiterated the law but said they would investigate.
On May 5, Maureen Rigo, a teacher at Wickenburg Christian Academy in Arizona, was on an educational tour of the Supreme Court complex with her students and a few adults. At the oval plaza in front of the building, they stood off to the side of the bottom of the court steps, bowed their heads and prayed quietly.
The ADF says that they were praying in a conversational tone in order to not attract attention and were not obstructing traffic or demonstrating.
A court police officer approached the group and told them to stop praying in the area immediately. The action was taken on the basis of a statute which bars parades and processions on Supreme Court grounds.
“Christians shouldn’t be silenced for exercising their beliefs through quiet prayer on public property,” commented Nate Kellum, Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) senior counsel. “The last place you’d expect this kind of obvious disregard for the First Amendment would be on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court itself, but that’s what happened.”
“There is no reason to silence Mrs. Rigo’s activities since these activities do not attract attention, create a crowd, or give off the appearance of impartiality,” the ADF said in a letter to court officials. The ban on public prayers cannot hope to survive First Amendment scrutiny.”
“Evidently, people may engage in all sorts of conversational expression on Supreme Court grounds unless that expression happens to involve prayer.”
The organization charged that the action was an example of viewpoint discrimination and that it “singled out and censored religious prayer as the only form of conversation to be silenced.”
Patricia Estrada, deputy public information officer for the Supreme Court, in a Monday e-mail told CNA / EWTN News that the Court received the ADF letter.
“The Marshal of the Court will look into the events as described in the letter,” she said.
“The Court does not have a policy prohibiting prayer,” her e-mail continued.
“The Court's policy regarding the use of most public areas at the Court has been to permit activity related to the business of the Court, including traditional tourist activity and ingress and egress for visitors, but not to permit demonstrations and other types of activity that may tend to draw a crowd or onlookers.”
Citing the law, she noted that it is unlawful “to parade, stand or move in processions or assemblages in the building and grounds, including the plaza and steps, but not including the perimeter sidewalks.”
St. Louis, Mo., Jul 20, 2010 (CNA) - Last Friday an evening prayer service marked the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ official closure of its investigation into an alleged miraculous cure attributed to Bl. William Chaminade, founder of the Marianist order.
The archdiocesan tribunal, established by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson to investigate the claim, will now send its findings to the Vatican.
The claim concerns area resident Rachel Lozano, who since her sophomore year of high school has been diagnosed with cancer three times. As treatment, she underwent three different therapies including chemotherapy, radiation, a stem cell transplant and surgery. Doctors told her that no one ever survived her type of cancer after a stem cell transplant.
After joining a group of St. Louisians who attended the year 2000 beatification for the Society of Mary founder Fr. William Joseph Chaminade, Lozano began to pray for his intercession. The first miracle needed for the Marianist founder's beatification was an Argentinean woman's healing from lung cancer, according to the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
But in the months after Lozano returned from her pilgrimage, her cancer aggressively came back.
After doctors told her that her situation was terminal, she had surgery to remove the third tumor but doctors found it was dead. They told Lozano there was no medical explanation for the reversal.
If the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints declares the cure to be a miracle, Blessed William Chaminade can be recognized as a canonized saint, pending Pope Benedict XVI's approval.
St. Louis’ only miraculous cure to be declared authentic by the Vatican took place in the nineteenth century. It was one of the two miracles required for the canonization of St. Peter Claver.
Washington D.C., Jul 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development is urging the faithful to support a new unemployment extension bill which is set to be voted on this week in the Senate.
The legislation has been a source of contention between Democrats and Republicans as the latter party has blocked unemployment bill HR4213, citing concerns over a lack of funding for the initiative.
Democrats attempted to garner 60 votes to invoke cloture and bring the bill up for a vote, but the recent death of Sen. Robert Byrd – a West Virginian Democrat who supported the bill – added uncertainty to the situation.
The USCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development issued an email alert on July 19, writing that as early as July 20, “the Senate will vote on extending unemployment insurance benefits through November.”
“Sixty votes are needed for cloture, which will stop a threatened filibuster, and allow the bill to be signed into law,” read the statement. “In the last 48 days, nearly 2 million families have lost the financial support afforded them by unemployment insurance as a minority in Congress have refused to extend benefits.”
Stressing the need for Catholics to support their senators in voting for the legislation, the bishops went on the explain that “the recession that began in 2007” is “one of the worst economic periods for American families since the Great Depression of the 1930s.”
“The national unemployment rate continues to hover near ten percent; 15 million Americans are officially unemployed; and 44 percent (six million people) have been out of work for more than six months.”
“This is the highest number of long-term unemployed since the United States began keeping that data in 1948,” the bishops underscored. “For every job opening, there are five applicants.”
“Since the recession began, the U.S. economy has lost 8.5 million jobs, which means with new entrants to the workforce, eleven million new jobs must be created to return to the pre-recession unemployment rate of five percent,” the statement added. “Although the economy has begun creating jobs, it will take a long time for jobs to be available for all workers who want them.”
Despite the challenges the unemployment legislation has faced, political analysts expect that given the fact that Carte Goodwin – Sen. Byrd's replacement who will be sworn in on July 20 – is a Democrat, the 60 votes needed for cloture will be obtained.
Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 20, 2010 (CNA) -
After declining an invitation made by Cilia Flores, the leader of Venezuela’s National Assembly, to explain some of his recent statements that were met with insults and attacks from President Hugo Chavez, the Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, has proposed that calm and respectful talks be held between representatives of the bishops’ conference and lawmakers during the coming days.
The Archdiocese of Caracas issued a statement saying the cardinal declined the invitation to meet at the congressional building because the current circumstances and the chances of social unrest outside the Capitol building mean that the necessary calm and respect for holding such a meeting cannot be guaranteed.
The archdiocese said that in response to the invitation made by Flores, Cardinal Urosa proposes holding a meeting between lawmakers and bishops at another time and place agreed to by all the parties “in order to discuss the mission of the Church in Venezuela and the content of the statements questioned during the debate at the Assembly.”
Cardinal Urosa “reaffirms his recognition and respect for the Institutions of the State, as well as his encouragement to continue working with dedication as a Bishop of the Catholic Church for the common good and the peace of the Venezuelan people, who are mostly Christian and Catholic. Likewise, he thanks all the institutions and people who have shown him their support and solidarity,” he said.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 20, 2010 (CNA) - Bishops from the eastern region of Brazil in the state of Rio de Janeiro urged the faithful this week to vote in the October elections for those candidates who defend life from conception to natural death, the family and freedom of education.
In a recent statement encouraging the faithful to carefully discern the candidates for the general elections, the bishops said, “The first criteria for voting for a candidate is the defense of the dignity of the human person and of life in all of its manifestations, from conception to natural death. We vehemently reject all forms of violence, as well as any kind of abortion, the exploitation of minors in the marketplace, euthanasia and any form of genetic manipulation.”
“The second criterion is the defense of the family, where the person grows up and reaches fulfillment. For this reason you must elect those candidates who provide concrete incentives for the development of the family according to God’s plan. That is, (candidates) who oppose same-sex marriage, adoption by homosexuals and the legalization of prostitution, drugs and the trafficking of women.
A third criterion is “the freedom of education through which parents have the right to educate their children according to the vision of life they deem most appropriate.” This includes working for quality in public schools and defending the right of private schools to exist in accord with the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion, “which was recently recognized in the accords between Brazil and the Holy See.”
After noting that the fourth and fifth criteria refer respectively to solidarity and the principle of subsidiarity, the bishops emphasized that voters should elect candidates who promote a culture of peace and are willing to confront the widespread violence in the country.
Political life, the bishops stressed, is one way of bringing the Gospel into daily life in order to build “a just, fraternal and equitable society.” Politicians who act in this way will restore hope and faith to those who have become cynical and skeptical of government and government leaders, they said.
“This is a great opportunity that Catholics and all people of good will must not lose,” the bishops advised.
Lima, Peru, Jul 20, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne, told Peruvians this week they must not imitate the bad examples of countries like Argentina, whose Senate recently approved so-called homosexual “marriage.” The Peruvian cardinal also called on candidates in the upcoming elections not to use this issue to win votes.
During his radio program, the cardinal encouraged listeners to support what is good for Peru and not be dependent upon the agendas of foreign entities. “I say this because we are on the eve of the elections and the agendas of some are beginning to include issues from other countries,” he said.
The cardinal also advised Peruvians to evaluate whether those who aspire to represent them in the upcoming elections have a spirit of service. “A politician is one whom we assign to address the problems of the city … He is not the owner of anyone, but rather the representative of those who elect him, and I would define him with these words: spirit of service. Do you want to serve others or do you want to take advantage of them?” Therein lies the difference “between a good or bad candidate,” he said.
Cardinal Cipriani went on to note that this vocation to service seems to have been lost.
“That vocation has been lost and many times what we get are just a lot words and promises. I would say one thing. Do you see in that person someone who wants to serve you, someone willing to work overtime to help and resolve problems?”
Days earlier in the southern city of Arequipa, the cardinal recalled that marriage is the union between a man and a woman, and he urged it be defended as the foundation for the future of society.
Arequipa, Peru, Jul 20, 2010 (CNA) - During the closing Mass of the Jubilee Year for the 400th anniversary of the creation of the Diocese of Arequipa in Peru, Pope Benedict XVI’s special envoy, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, exhorted the more than 40,000 Peruvians in attendance to remain faithful to their “Catholic identity and human and spiritual values that characterize your glorious history.”
The cardinal celebrated Mass on July 18 at the National University of St. Augustine Stadium, joined by the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, and Archbishop Javier del Rio Alba of Arequipa, among others.
“Arequipa gave the Church a great blessed in St. Ana de los Angeles Monteagudo, as well as many good priests, bishops and two cardinals,” he said. Cardinal Re encouraged the faithful not to limit their celebration to “a mere historical evocation” but rather to “proclaim the Gospel knowing you are responsible for the task that Christ commended to His disciples.”
“We will never find a true solution in Peru to the problems today’s society faces if we do not put God at the center,” the cardinal insisted. “We must look to God again as the true guidepost for our lives and for our efforts to build a better future.”
Cardinal Re also referred to Our Lady of Chapi, a Marian devotion popular in the region, which “reminds us that Mary is the Star of Evangelization.” “She guides our steps in the fulfillment of the command of Christ,” he said.
During the Mass, Cardinal Re was given an altar piece with the image of Our Lady of Chapi and another for the Holy Father. He said his visit to Arequipa was one of joy in which he witnessed “the participation of the laity in the life of the Church,” and that he would convey his impressions to Benedict XVI.
Lima, Peru, Jul 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The director of “The Last Summit,” the documentary about the life of the Spanish priest and mountaineer, Fr. Pablo Dominguez, gave an interview to CNA’s sister news agency, ACI Prensa, in which he reflected on the reasons for the success of his movie. He confirmed that negotiations are under way for the film to be screened in Latin America, the Caribbean and the United States.
For Cotelo, the overwhelming response of the film's numerous viewers –many of whom are reporting how the movie caused them to have a conversion- “owes itself to the magnetism God has on any person.”
“If Fr. Pablo’s story is attractive,” the filmmaker said, “it's because the love of his life also is. The protagonist in Fr. Pablo’s story, and of the movie, is God. Among all the famous actors and actresses in the world, there isn’t a protagonist more attractive and attracting than God.”
The complete text of the interview can be found below:
ACI: How did the idea of filming “The Last Summit” come about?
Cotelo: Initially, it (the idea) came up against my will. At first, I resisted getting to know Fr. Pablo, but I met him at the insistence of a friend. I found him to be a joker, but also a profound, kind and caring man who immediately put himself in my service. Two weeks later, I found out that he had died. Then I began to find various coincidences between his life and mine. He was born in the same neighborhood as I was, but three days before me. We shared a love for the mountains. I think we were also united in the desire to present the love of God to ever kind of person or group in a friendly, attractive, simple, kind and optimistic manner. Because there is no other way of presenting the Gospel. And, bit by bit, as I found out more about him, I realized that the story of his life should be shared because it would be stimulating to anyone.
ACI: What is it about the life of Fr. Pablo Dominguez that attracts the attention of the public?
Cotelo: The marvelous efficiency that a coherent Christian can have. Above all, it emphasized his contagious joy and his contagious love for God and for mankind. Fr. Pablo is a tangible model, flesh and blood, who can be imitated. He is a model that shows you don’t have to do great things for your life to be fulfilling, and for the lives of those around you to be as well. The viewer sees all of this and is moved when they leave the theater, not just by what they have learned about Fr. Pablo’s life, but also by what they have discovered their life could be. The conversions of so many people who have seen this movie can only be explained in this way.
ACI: The movie was a box office success. To what do you attribute this?
Cotelo: There are a number of factors. In the first place, the personality of Fr. Pablo is itself very attractive. We all like to be acquainted with, and be around, good people, and Fr. Pablo is one such person. Because of this, the movie about his life attracts so many people, in the same way that his Masses were overflowing with people who wanted to hear him and to see him celebrate Mass. In the second place, the film’s success is a result of the people who leave the theater after seeing the movie and recommend it to others with enthusiasm. There is no better publicity than a living person you know who recommends something. The success doesn’t owe itself to “inert” publicity, nor to a strategic plan but rather to the live promotion that viewers have given it, in person or by means of the internet with their contacts, acquaintances, friends, and family. And thirdly, I would say that above all, it is because of the magnetism that God has to any person. If Fr. Pablo is attractive, it is because the love of his life also is. The protagonist of Fr. Pablo’s life, and also of the movie, is God. Among all the famous actors and actresses in the world, there isn’t a protagonist more attractive than God.
ACI: What is the importance of spreading an authentic priestly life, especially for the situation the Church is living in today?
Cotelo: The situation that the Church is living in today is identical to that which the first Christians lived. There is an insatiable desire for God in all people, and many try to satisfy it with substitutes that, sooner or later, leave them with a new appetite. There are plenty of vendors who act without remorse promising happiness with false products: health, money, professional success, travel, or a bigger bra size. Priests, today and always, can facilitate for people the access to the only thing that can calm the human heart: the unconditional love God has for every person … The authentic priestly life is the most transcendent mission that a person can have entrusted to them in their life: to bring God’s peace and love, the only guarantee of complete happiness, to people’s hearts. This mission will never expire, nor must it be reinvented every time the social circumstances change. That is why I don’t believe we need to lose a lot of time analyzing the “social situation.” Rather, we must put our hands to work loving those who need it, as Fr. Pablo did.
ACI: What are the principle problems you encountered in filming the movie?
Cotelo: I would be lying if I talked about external problems, because there were none. Not one. The only real problem was my own unwillingness to get to work on this film. After that, everything was easy. There wasn’t a day in which we didn’t learn, enjoy ourselves, and get excited about the amount of precious things that happen to us without us looking for them. This film has been the greatest gift for us, and for many people.
ACI: Bishop José Ignacio Munilla of San Sebastian said in an interview that the movie had the audacity to break myths and molds. Do you think this is the case?
Cotelo: We have broken myths and molds created by narrow mindsets, but without any audacity on our part. We have simply done it without being valiant about it. We have broken the myth that a documentary has to be boring or directed to a specific audience. We have broken the mold that pretends to encapsulate all priests as retrograde and unkind people or pedophiles … But in reality, the person who breaks the mold is the one who attempts to reduce reality to topics. We haven’t invented anything new. Rather, we have told the truth: that the world is full of people who are good, marvelous, exemplary, and who aren’t noticed by the media. Among them, many are priests. But it is enough to go out into the street with open eyes, free of prejudices, to encounter so many beautiful stories that no one tells. A simple example: one person kisses another. This ought to be noticed. But the news always tells us that someone has attacked someone else.
ACI: You have been told about young viewers who, thanks to the movie, have decided to pursue a vocation as a priest. Can you give us some details?
Cotelo: That pertains to the personal lives of those people, and for that reason, I shouldn’t make those details public, although they have had the generosity to share it with us. I will simply say that we receive many messages daily, handwritten letters, telephone calls, from people who share with us the intimate way that the movie has encouraged them to live a life that is more generous with God and with those around them. We give thanks to God each day for using our work to wake so many sleeping people.
ACI: Many people are asking if the film will be shown in Latin America. Do you intend to do so?
Cotelo: Of course. Right now we are working on closing the distribution agreements with the countries around the world from which we’ve received requests. It’s going very rapidly. We have to organize it, counting on the help of people who work to bring knowledge of the film to light in each country. We’ve already started working in Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, the Dominican Republic and the United States.
ACI: After this success, do you have plans for another film?
Cotelo: Yes, we have a number of projects which are very close to our hearts that were halted when Fr. Pablo crossed paths with us. Now, we will return to them, one by one. The object isn’t to produce a lot of films, rather that each of them will be able to touch people’s hearts, inviting them to personal reflection, to discover the beauty of God, of those around them and of the world. This means we must work without rushing, giving priority to creativity over quantity.