Madrid, Spain, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA) - Organizers for World Youth Day Madrid 2011 announced a series of concerts featuring classical masterpieces which will be held to raise funds impoverished youths wanting to attend the global youth event next year.
Spotlighting works from composers such as Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Rachmaninov, a series of four concerts will take place between October of 2010 and June of 2011, courtesy of the non-profit Excellence Foundation. Proceeds from the shows will benefit the Solidarity Fund, which will work to cover expenses for youth from disadvantaged nations who want to attend World Youth Day.
Event organizers reported on July 14 that the concerts are one of many cultural initiatives that will take place within the next year in Madrid to prepare for and finance the worldwide event next August.
Masterpieces such as Beethovan's 5th Symphony, Bach's “Jesus bleibet meine Freude” and Handel's “Messiah” will be led by a variety of international conductors such as Janos Kovacs, Stephen Layton, Darrell Ang and Cristóbal Soler.
The four concerts will take place at the National Auditorium in Madrid and will feature several orchestras, including the Orquesta Clásica Santa Cecilia, the European Royal Ensemble and the Orquesta Filarmónica Excelentia.
London, England, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA) - A priest in England’s Catholic Diocese of Clifton says the upcoming papal visit has caused “great excitement” among those in the diocese, especially as more than 4,000 of its people will be able to see and hear Pope Benedict XVI. He also noted a “growing awareness” about how unique the beatification of Cardinal Newman will be.
Fr. Michael McAndrew, papal visit coordinator for the diocese, described the growing enthusiasm in an interview published on the website of the papal visit and summarized in a press release from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW).
Fr. McAndrew said that one third of the Diocese of Clifton’s priests have said they would like to be considered to concelebrate at John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Beatification Mass. Thirty-five pilgrim leaders have volunteered to lead each pilgrim group, which the priest called “a really positive response.”
The Pope will not visit the west coast diocese, but it has been allocated 2,300 pilgrim passes for the Sept. 18 prayer vigil at Hyde Park in London and another 1,700 pilgrim passes for the Beatification Mass at Cofton Park in Birmingham on Sept. 19.
The priest said the vigil promises to be “a moment of profound Christian witness.” It will begin with a procession of 3,000 people, led by the young. Participants will carry banners through central London to offer “a visible witness of the Catholic communities in our country.”
The Holy Father will preach and pray at the vigil in the early evening.
“Pope Benedict has a great gift for breaking open the Word of God and teaching the Gospel in a very simple and profound way. That's something people are looking forward to very much,” Fr. McAndrew noted.
He also described a “growing awareness” that Cardinal Newman’s beatification is “a unique event.”
“It's the first beatification that's ever happened in England,” Fr. McAndrew explained. “It's also the case that Pope Benedict doesn't usually preside at beatifications - but he's making an exception for us.”
According to the priest, he made the exception “because of his great, personal love and interest in John Henry Newman and also his appreciation of his writings and the huge influence that this great Englishman has had on the whole worldwide Church.”
“I think what is really capturing the imagination is that the Pope comes among us as a pilgrim. We are invited to take part in this event in the same spirit - we travel as pilgrims,” he continued, calling this a reminder that Catholics’ “journey of faith” is “lived in the communion of the Church.”
In Fr. McAndrew’s view, the Mass of Beatification will remind Catholics of two things: its celebration by the Pope will remind them of his leadership of the Catholic Church, and that the Church is not only earthly but stretches “into eternal life, into Heaven.”
“Pope Benedict is not coming to the Diocese of Clifton but it seems to me Clifton will go to see him and hear him and we are preparing very enthusiastically to welcome Pope Benedict to our land,” he concluded.
The website for the papal visit to the U.K. is http://www.thepapalvisit.org.uk
Providence, R.I., Jul 21, 2010 (CNA) - Homosexual activists’ behavior at rallies by a touring pro-marriage event has ranged from “silly” to “crazy” and “disgraceful,” one event leader reports. Some activists disrupted a Rhode Island rally and mocked religion and children, while others intimidated a nursing mother at a New York rally.
The National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) Summer for Marriage Tour stopped in Albany, New York last Saturday and in Providence, Rhode Island on Sunday.
NOM president Brian S. Brown reported in a letter to supporters that during a speaker’s presentation at the Albany Capitol event, several activists with colored umbrellas started walking up on stage. When gay “marriage” supporters were told the event had a permit for the space, they refused to leave. Though rebuked by Capitol police, “they hung around, holding their rainbow-colored umbrellas and balloons,” he said.
Though Brown described the action on Twitter as “Silliest. Protest. Ever,” he charged in his letter that the activists showed themselves to be an “intolerant bunch” in their behavior towards a Hispanic mother who attended the rally with her three young children.
“During the rally she moved to the back to nurse her baby. A bunch of male protestors followed her with their rainbow umbrellas and stood directly in front of her, blocking her view of the stage. She asked them to move, or at least turn around while she fed her baby, and they refused. Classy.”
NOM interviewed the mother and published the video on YouTube.
“They were here to make sure I wasn’t going to enjoy (the rally),” she commented in the video. “I was scared, in the beginning, and after a while, I figure the goal was intimidating my family … which I think they did the job, but I felt that was more than (them) just standing there.
“This is what they are doing to our traditional families: intimidating so we can back off, and I wasn’t going to back off ... We need to stand for our families and we are not going to back off.”
At the Sunday rally at the Providence Capitol, homosexual activists told police that they planned to assemble peacefully behind the NOM event on the Capitol lawn to demonstrate their support for same-sex “marriage.”
However, according to Brown, the activists “came around behind our rally and tried to shout over us. Then they came right into our crowd, getting in people’s faces and shouting at our marriage supporters.
“At one point while I was delivering my remarks, three protestors physically surrounded me and got right up in my face, trying to shout me down as Capitol police did nothing,” he reported, saying police were “totally unprepared” and had to call in state troopers to restore order.
According to an event video produced by NOM, one speaker at the rally said during the disruptions, “Activists have come to our rallies and silence us. The moment we allow them to silence us is the moment our civil rights have been taken away.”
“Throughout the event, the protestors were disgraceful. Mocking religion. Mocking children. I mean, what kind of adult goes up to a 7-year-old child and sneers, ‘Mommy raising you to be a good little bigot’?” asked Brown.
“These are the people who want to control our culture's understanding of marriage, family, and tolerance,” he asserted.
Brown called his own supporters at the Providence event “outstanding,” saying they were peaceful and left “more determined than ever to stand firm for marriage in Rhode Island.” A sign-up table was “absolutely flooded” with supporters after the event.
Organizers of a homosexual advocacy counter-rally in Trenton, New Jersey told their members not to “taunt” or “harass” attendees of the NOM rally scheduled for Monday, which Brown thought was a sign they realized the “unseemly behavior” on Sunday was a “disaster” for their cause.
The website of the NOM’s Summer for Marriage Tour is http://www.marriagetour2010.com
Rome, Italy, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new children's book has been published under Pope Benedict XVI's name. It presents a collection of the Holy Father's descriptions of Jesus' relationship with his "first companions," taken from his catecheses at general audiences over the past five years.
The illustrated book titled "Gli Amici di Gesu" (The Friends of Jesus) was released in spring of 2010 by the Milanese publishing house Piccola Casa Editrice in Italian. Painted depictions from the hand of Franco Vignazia accompany the stories of Jesus and 14 of his "friends."
The characters in the book include each of the original 12 apostles, including Judas Iscariot; Matthias, who replaced Judas after the betrayal, and St. Paul.
The 48-page volume produced for the youngest of readers is a "route that takes the reader to the origins of the Church, through the events of the first people who found Jesus and became his friends," according to the publishing house.
Fr. Julian Carron, president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, says in the preface of book that, through the stories, "The Pope takes us by the hand and accompanies us to discover who were the first companions of Christ, how they found him and how they were conquered by him until they decided that they would never abandon him again."
Lorenzo Murnigotti, editorial coordinator of the Piccola Casa Editrice publishing house, told CNA that it reproduces Pope Benedict's perspective of the most significant moments between them and the Teacher, dedicating each of them three to four pages.
The publisher, he explained, came up with the idea to compile the Pope's descriptions for a young audience after they noticed that references to the apostles during his traditional Wednesday catecheses were also directed to children.
Through an agreement with the Vatican's publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, they were able to produce the book with the name of the author, "Benedetto XVI," on the cover.
Mr. Murnigotti hoped that English and Spanish versions would be published within the next year and added that, if given the opportunity, they will continue to print works by the Pope "very willingly."
Denver, Colo., Jul 21, 2010 (CNA) - Adding to the current debate on how to best present the teachings of John Paul II's Theology of the Body, Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand provided CNA with her latest essay contrasting the approach of her late husband, noted philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand, with the methods of the popular speaker Christopher West.
With the start of the first U.S. Theology of the Body Congress being just over a week away, Alice Von Hildebrand explained to CNA her intent in writing the essay, titled “Dietrich Von Hildebrand, Catholic Philosopher, and Christopher West, Modern Enthusiast: Two Very Different Approaches to Love, Marriage and Sex.”
“I started working on this article last September, at the request of several friends who were seriously concerned about some of the formulations of Christopher West and questioning whether he could truly be called a disciple of John Paul II, whose writings never evoked negative responses from Catholics,” Von Hildebrand told CNA.
Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand, a noted philosopher herself, wrote “Man and Woman: A Divine Invention,” which was recently released by Sapientia Press and is a continuing dialogue on her previous work, “The Privilege of Being a Woman.” She also has contributed to the efforts of the Von Hildebrand Legacy Project, a non-profit group dedicated to promoting and republishing the writings of her late husband.
Speaking on the effects her husband's works have had in shaping her latest essay, Von Hildebrand said, “My late husband's book: In Defense of Purity (which I read when I was nineteen, and had a profound influence on my life), is so deeply rooted in the sacred tradition of our beloved Holy Church, that it occurred to me that a parallel study of his thoughts and the presentation of Christopher West, might be enlightening.”
Despite “the incontestable merits of West's presentation” of the Theology of the Body, “for which we owe him gratitude,” she said that West “at times, lose sight of the 'golden chain of tradition.'”
In her 36-page essay, which she provided exclusively to CNA, Dr. Von Hildebrand explains that there are two main concerns she has with West's approach to presenting the teachings of Venerable John Paul II on human sexuality.
The first is that West “erroneously” assumes “that John Paul II has initiated a 'revolution' in Catholic teaching” in the concept of the Theology of the Body. The second concern is that West uses “loose” and what could be viewed as crude and graphic language in describing what she calls the “intimate sphere” of human sexuality.
On her first contention, Von Hildebrand wrote that “my husband would not refer to the Theology of the Body as 'a revolution'” in the way that West does, adding that West often criticizes the Catholic Church for having had what he describes as a "puritanical approach" to its teachings on human sexuality.
The philosopher noted, however, that each “age in the Church sheds particular light on some facets of the divine message,” and the Theology of the Body, properly understood, “can be seen as an example of that.”
When the Theology of the Body is presented as a radical revolution, it is twisted into something John Paul II never intended, she explained.
Contrasting the difference between West's “loose” language in discussing human sexuality and the approach of her late husband, the philosopher said that “Dietrich Von Hildebrand carefully chose the words he used when referring to the mysteries of our faith or to things that are intimate and sacred.”
“With his many talents, Christopher West has much to offer the Church,” Von Hildebrand affirmed in her concluding remarks. Yet, “I believe he will only fulfill his potential if he presents the Theology of the Body according to the traditions of the Church – reverently and with humility – and liberate himself from the wayward 'enthusiasms' of our time,” she said.
To read the full document, click here.
Rome, Italy, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI officially erected a new diocese in the African nation of Malawi on Wednesday. According to the bishop who has overseen the area until now, the announcement represents a "moment of grace."
The Diocese of Karonga, in northern Malawi, was created from a third of the land previously contained within borders of the Diocese of Mzuzu. It separates 61,000 people in five parishes from what was the Diocese of Mzuzu's Catholic population of 400,000.
Along with the announcement of the new diocese came the appointment of its bishop. Fr. Martin Anwel Mtumbuka, who will soon be ordained to lead the faithful of the diocese.
Bishop Joseph Mukasa Zuza, who currently heads the Diocese of Mzuzu, told CNA on Wednesday that creation of the new diocese and the appointment of the bishop-elect "means quite a lot" to the area.
He explained that the addition was "necessary, because it is quite taxing to travel to some places from headquarters." The bishop described difficult travel on poor roads in all-terrain vehicles to parishes as far as 250 miles (400 kilometers) away.
This announcement, he said, "is a moment of grace," adding that "the care of the parishioners will be easier because the bishops will not have to move as far.
"We will be more available," he said in the phone interview.
Details of the new diocese will take some time to come into place, Bishop Zuza explained, but things should be ironed out within the next two to four months, depending on when Church leaders, such as the Apostolic Nuncio to Malawi and the new bishop, can meet to discuss the details. At that point, he added, they will also decide which priests will serve in the new diocese and set a date for the ordination of the bishop-elect.
Bishop-elect Mtumbuka has been the serving as the Vice Chancellor for academics at the Catholic University of Malawi.
CNA STAFF, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA) - A Mexican man is claiming responsibility for the cyber attack that made Google direct any search using the word “vaticano” to the website pedofilo.com. In what some might call a publicity stunt, Efrain Ibarra Ibarra of the technology company Guion Bajo in Monterrey, Mexico admitted he was the one behind the “Google bombing.”
Ibarra admitted in a blog posting that he was responsible for the attacks and said his “purpose was to denounce the church, and that was one way using many websites that I have. Greetings from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico.”
CNA’s IT director, Jose Zapata, said the Holy See was "not technically hacked,” but rather was the target of what is known as “Google bombing,” which consists of manipulating the search results of a particular word.
“This technique has been used in the past to pull pranks such as the one a few years ago that listed the website of President George Bush when searching with the words ‘complete failure.’ That Google can be manipulated in such a primitive fashion is troublesome,” Zapata said.
The domain pedofilo.com re-directs users to a false website that used to belong to the Archdiocese of Mexico but is now owned by Ibarra, who owns dozens of domains, including some that are pornographic.
On his pedofilo.com site, Ibarra promotes a book by Sanjuana Martinez, an anti-Catholic activist who for years has accused Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City of covering up cases of pedophilia, despite his exoneration by the courts. Martinez is linked to feminist and pro-abortion organizations such as Catholics for a Free Choice.
Rome, Italy, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Joachim Meisner spoke to a large group of priests last month about the important role of the sacrament of Confession for their ministry. Sin, he said, is the greatest obstacle in our relationship with God.
In its most recent edition, the Italian Catholic monthly 30 Giorni (30 Days) printed the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne's address on the importance of Confession. He originally gave the talk to thousands of priests during the international convention held in Rome for the close of the Year for Priests this past June.
Cardinal Meisner pointed out in the talk that the neglect for the sacrament of Reconciliation is "one of the most tragic 'failures' that the Church has experienced in the second half of the 20th century," which, he said, translates into a "tremendous" spiritual loss.
He explained that when lay Catholics ask him what they can do to help their priests, he tells them "Go to them and confess!" because a priest that doesn't hear confessions "becomes a social worker of religious character."
By neglecting his duties as a confessor, the priest misses out on "the experience with the greatest pastoral result: collaborating," he explained. Through Confession and thanks also to the help of the priest, the sinner, he said, "leaves the confessional newly sanctified.
"In the confessional the priest can penetrate into the hearts of many people and from this they get impulse, encouragement and inspiration for the very succession of Christ.
Cardinal Meisner told the group of priests at the convention that sin is "the greatest obstacle" to perceiving God through them and impedes His presence in their existence "and for this there is nothing more necessary than conversion ... "
"It's about, to say it briefly, the sacrament of Penance."
The German cardinal added, "A priest that does not put himself frequently on one side or the other of the confessional screen experiences permanent damage to his soul and to his mission."
In closing, Cardinal Meisner stated that Confession contributes to the priestly identity and grants the priest "access to a life where he can think of nothing else other than God."
Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA) - This week, Archbishop Reinaldo Del Prette of Valencia, Venezuela lamented the insufficient right to freedom of expression in the country.
“Unfortunately now with this presidency of Hugo Chavez, there is practically no way out, there is no longer sufficient freedom of expression. Respecting expression is the foundation of dialogue, and the first foundation of dialogue is listening and respecting one another,” the archbishop stated.
According to Venezuelan media, the archbishop added that the country does not want “confrontations, rudeness or discrediting, because this is not in the soul of our nation.”
“This kind of confrontation is useless and leads us nowhere,” he concluded.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - A political prisoner in Cuba is on the third day of his hunger strike in order to protest his return to prison. The dissident had been temporarily transferred in order to receive medical treatment.
According to the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, Efren Fernandez’s motive for the strike is to call for “better treatment for the poor state of his health.”
Paya said Fernandez, 47, “was hospitalized on June 13 for bacterial lesions on his skin and intestinal problems. While he was still sick, he was moved back to a prison cell with high humidity where he cannot continue receiving medical treatment.”
Fernandez is one of 75 intellectuals, journalists and dissidents detained during the wave of repression called “Black Spring,” which took place in March 2003. He is among the 52 prisoners - 41 who remain in jail - that Raul Castro has promised to release in the upcoming weeks as a result of the dialogue underway with the Archdiocese of Havana
London, England, Jul 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A May response from the U.K. government to an electronic petition asking it to "disassociate" itself from the views of Pope Benedict XVI has resurfaced in the news. The petition's author argued it was prematurely closed to help the Pope save face, but evidence shows his petition was halted like all the others.
Under the Gordon Brown government, the official website of the British prime minister, www.number10.gov.uk, allowed "e-petitions" to be submitted to give citizens a voice on an official platform. Petitions with over 500 signatures were promised responses.
Among the petitions lodged before the Brown administration lost the elections this past May was one one imploring the prime minister "to disassociate the British government from the Pope's intolerant views ahead of the Papal visit to Britain in September 2010."
The petition had garnered more than 12,000 signatures before it was blocked on April 6, like all other petitions from the previous government, with the entry of David Cameron's newly-elected government.
A May 11th statement from Cameron's cabinet in response to the petition confirmed the Pope's trip as a state visit, by invitation of the Queen, for Sept. 16-19.
"The program will include a number of pastoral events, which are the responsibility of the Catholic Church, as well as some significant official events, which will provide opportunities for issues of common interest to the UK Government and the Holy See to be discussed at the highest level," read the statement.
It went on to call the Holy See a "valuable international partner for the government with its global reach" and to promote the relationship between the two sides as one that enables them to address foreign policy and development issues together.
The government conceded that "As with any bilateral diplomatic relationship there are issues on which we disagree. The Holy See is clear on our positions on these issues," the statement said. "However, we believe that Pope Benedict’s visit will provide an opportunity to strengthen and build on our relationship with the Holy See in areas where we share interests and goals, and to discuss those issues on which our positions differ."
The petition's author, Peter Tatchell, went to the media last week to protest the fact he had only just found out that it was closed to new signatures, despite being told by the former government that it would remain open until the Pope's arrival. Tatchell is a well-known gay activist and the leader of the group Protest the Pope. He is also being sponsored by Channel 4 to make a controversial hour-long film on the Holy Father that will air before the papal visit.
Tatchell said in a statement on July 16, "This looks like an attempt to prevent the petition from embarrassing the government by gaining a large number of signatures in the run-up to Pope Benedict's visit to the U.K. in September."
However, the Cameron administration explained in its statement, this petition and a couple dozen others, including one to "Keep the National Football Museum in Preston" and another to "Fix our Roads," were closed and answered in the spring.
The same statement reported that a new e-petition submission system would be opened by the government later in 2010.
Washington D.C., Jul 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. government has wrongly taken sides by spending taxpayer money to promote Kenya’s proposed constitution, Rep. Chris Smith is charging. He reports an investigation has found that one well-funded group in 2000 urged the U.S. to support efforts to “eventually legalize abortion in Kenya” by supporting civic organizations.
The exposure of some grantees “may only be a tip of the iceberg,” the congressman claimed, reiterating the possibility that U.S. funding for an effort which would expand legal abortion could violate U.S. law.
Speaking at a Wednesday press conference, Rep. Smith (R-N.J.), ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, said that U.S. involvement in the Aug. 4 constitutional referendum should be limited to ensuring the vote on the proposal is “free, fair and without violence.”
“Under no circumstances should the U.S. government take sides by supporting, facilitating and funding projects designed to identify and motivate votes for either side,” he continued. “Yet that is precisely what the Obama Administration has done.”
According to Rep. Smith, evidence gathered by Donald Gambatesa, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Inspector General (IG), shows that the group Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) is receiving almost $3 million in U.S. grants.
In 2000, the group advised USAID that its Kenya branch would benefit by supporting organizations advocating for “efforts to eventually legalize abortion in Kenya.” Noting that such activity would be “politically sensitive,” DAI suggested that USAID support local advocacy groups as part of the agency’s democracy objectives.
Rep. Smith said he and his colleagues noted with “alarm, shock and dismay” that the USAID Inspector General’s evidence “clearly shows the Obama Administration has funded grantees with the express purpose of identifying and mobilizing tens of thousands of ‘yes’ votes.”
The congressman said that some grantees have “specific quotas” of “yes” votes built in their contract, adding “more than $23 million U.S. taxpayer funds have either been spent or obligated—far exceeding earlier estimates.”
He explained that U.S. law bars taxpayer funds from being used to lobby either for or against abortion, but the proposed constitution would allow abortion for “undefined ‘health’ reasons.” He said this often means “just about any reason.”
The inclusion of an exception for the life of the mother, in Rep. Smith’s view, makes it clear that the drafters intended “health” to mean something different. He also criticized ambiguity in a provision that a trained “health care professional” will determine the “need” for abortion.
According to the Congressman, the Kenyan Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA-Kenya), which in 2008 began a campaign for more permissive abortion laws, received $85,363 from USAID for advocacy activities related to the draft constitution. The organization is a member of the Kenyan Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance (RHRA), which is supported by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).
RHRA helped draft “reproductive health provisions for the revised constitution,” according to Rep. Smith.
Rep. Smith reported that though the U.S. Embassy in Kenya at first denied concerns about illegal activity, a spokeswoman has since reported that nine grantees had been suspended or their work concluded. The congressman presumed it was because of issues he and his colleagues had raised.
“We are also deeply concerned that the nine grantees may be only a tip of the iceberg,” he continued, calling on the USAID IG to investigate further.
Kenya’s Catholic bishops have said the proposed constitution is “fundamentally flawed” because of its treatment of abortion.
Over 170 pro-life leaders from 21 countries have signed a petition organized by the World Congress of Families supporting opposition to the proposed constitution. Signatories include former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Boston mayor and Vatican ambassador Ray Flynn as well as pro-life groups and current or former political leaders from Britain, Australia, Poland, the Philippines and the European Union.