Archive of July 24, 2010

Courage apostolate offers annual conference for Catholics who experience same-sex attractions

New York City, N.Y., Jul 24, 2010 (CNA) - Courage, the Church-approved ministry devoted to helping Catholics who experience same-sex attractions live in accordance with Catholic moral teaching, will hold its 22nd annual conference in Mundelein, Illinois next week.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is hosting the group's July 29 – Aug. 1 conference at the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary. The conference, which has taken the Sacred Heart as this year's theme, was expected to draw over 300 attendees at the close of its registration deadline on Tuesday.

The weekend's programs are aimed at strengthening chastity, religious devotion, healthy friendships, and a spirit of fellowship and support among Catholics who experience same-sex attractions. Courage incorporates a modified version of the “Twelve Steps,” traditionally used in the treatment of substance-abuse, in its work helping Catholics who struggle with homosexuality to lead chaste lives.

A group of psychologists, scholars, and pastoral workers will lead next week's conference attendees in a series of workshops, along with times set aside for prayer and reception of the sacraments. Friday, the first full day of the gathering, will also feature a special set of programs designed particularly for priests, deacons, seminarians, and other pastoral ministers.

Featured speakers this year include noted professor Dr. Janet E. Smith, Byzantine Catholic theologian Fr. Thomas Loya, and professional counselor and therapist Suzanne Baars, along with the priests who serve as national and local directors of Courage.

Speaking to CNA Friday, Pat Size at Courage's New York office said that the weekend would provide “fellowship, prayer, and mutual support in a joyous retreat atmosphere,” both for those Catholics seeking help with homosexual attractions, and those interested in supporting their friends and family.

The conference, she said, displays “many facets of the face of the faithful Church.” Size told CNA that although registration has ended for overnight accommodations, those able to provide their own lodging and commute to the daily events could still register by contacting Courage directly.

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Archbishop Fulton Sheen returns to silver screen in new documentary

Denver, Colo., Jul 24, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A documentary on the life of Archbishop Fulton Sheen is being shown in pre-release screenings across the country, as part of an effort to raise awareness of the late archbishop, whose cause for sainthood is currently underway.

The hour-long documentary, entitled, “Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All,” offers both entertainment and a powerful message of evangelization as it follows the life of the famous archbishop (1895-1979). The video includes the testimonies of dozens of individuals who were touched by the life of the archbishop. It also shows footage from his popular television program, “Life is Worth Living.”

Gaining a reputation as both a scholar and a man of God from a young age, Archbishop Sheen committed to praying a daily Holy Hour before the Eucharist after he was ordained a priest in 1919. It was a practice that he maintained for the remaining 60 years of his life, and it was to this daily Holy Hour that he attributed his success in spreading the Gospel.

By age 30, Archbishop Sheen was a well-recognized Catholic scholar, with degrees from multiple universities in America and Europe. He taught at Catholic University of America, where students would flood his classroom, even sitting on radiators to hear his lectures.

Gaining recognition as a speaker, the archbishop traveled the globe, drawing crowds of up to 10,000 with his charismatic personality and powerful message. “You felt that one of the Apostles was right there in front of you speaking,” said one listener.

In 1930, Archbishop Sheen was asked to take part in a weekly radio broadcast called “The Catholic Hour.” His popularity soared, and shortly after being appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York in 1951, he began his “Life is Worth Living” television program.

Soon, 30 million Americans were tuning in weekly to see Archbishop Sheen, who presented his message with a charming combination of humor and wit. He was awarded an Emmy after his first season on the air, becoming the only religious broadcaster ever to do so.

Despite his great success in radio and television, the archbishop remained humble and generous. He donated the money from his show, as well as the many contributions he received, to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, of which he had been named director.

Archbishop Sheen spoke at the Second Vatican Council on the role of the Church in caring for the poor and needy of the world. At the council, he also attracted the attention of the future Pope John Paul II, who learned English by listening to his shows.

In the following years, Archbishop Sheen began to lose popularity as he publicly supported civil rights and criticized the Vietnam War. In addition, some people saw him as too traditional after Vatican II.

In 1966, he was appointed Bishop of Rochester, a position which he filled for three years before retiring at the age of 74. For the remainder of his life, he worked vigorously to strengthen and promote the priesthood. His health gradually declined, and he underwent open heart surgery.

Archbishop Sheen passed away on  December 9, 1979. His body was found before the Eucharist in his private chapel.

The cause for Archbishop Sheen's beatification and canonization was opened in 2002. The archbishop currently holds the title of Servant of God, while the Church continues to examine his life and works, including the 66 books he wrote during his life.

“Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Servant of All” will be released on DVD to the general public during the 2010 holiday season.

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Catholics United raising $500,000 to monitor ‘religious right,’ defend against pro-life groups

Washington D.C., Jul 24, 2010 (CNA) - The pro-Obama group Catholics United has announced it is trying to raise $500,000 to support Democratic Congressional candidates who backed the health care legislation passed earlier this year. It aims to fund the monitoring of the activities of “the religious right” and to defend the candidates from campaigns by “Republican-affiliated” pro-life groups.

The group will support Democratic Reps. John Boccieri of Ohio, Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, Steve Driehaus of Ohio and Tom Perriello of Virginia. Perriello was a co-founder of the group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, which has shared connections and personnel with Catholics United.

Catholics United executive director Chris Korzen announced the group’s “Set the Record Straight” campaign in a Wednesday statement. He accused “many political operatives” of “dishonesty” in attacks on candidates.

"These groups are engaging in scare tactics and misusing the language of faith to score cheap political points and lead voters astray," he charged.

Catholics United reported that paid organizers and volunteers will work in each targeted congressional district to “monitor the religious right's activities, educate faith leaders, and provide the media with local voices to speak on behalf of social justice issues.” The campaign is reportedly a direct response to advertising campaigns by “Republican-affiliated” groups such as the Susan B. Anthony List, the Family Research Council, the National Right to Life Committee, and the Republican National Campaign Committee.

In announcing its “Set the Record Straight” campaign, Catholics United criticized an “abortion funding myth” and claimed that expert analysis shows that abortion funding is prohibited by both the health care legislation and a subsequent executive order signed by President Barack Obama.

However, following recent media reports that some states were planning on using federal funds to pay for abortion, the U.S. bishops' pro-life chairman Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said, “ the U.S. bishops were “gravely concerned” because a correction “was not issued until after some states had announced that pro-abortion health plans were approved and had begun to enroll patients.”

The health care legislation was opposed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and many pro-life groups who objected that its statutory limits on abortion funding were insufficient. The USCCB backed the Stupak Amendment to supply these restrictions and has also argued that the executive order is similarly insufficient.

For Catholic United’s part, Korzen said his organization opposed both the Stupak Amendment and the Senate’s Nelson-Hatch Amendment. In a March 2010 interview with Catholic News Agency, he claimed these provisions changed existing policies in federal health care legislation.

He granted that the proposed amendments might be “the only acceptable solution” from a Catholic moral perspective, but said the political agreement on abortion was supposed to be formed “in a way that upholds existing precedent.”

Most of the candidates backed by Catholics United’s “Set the Record Straight” campaign have an inconsistent record on abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, formerly known as the National Abortion Rights Action League, gave Perriello a 50 percent rating for his year 2009 votes, which included a vote against banning the use of local taxpayer funds for abortion in Washington, D.C.

Reps. Boccieri and Driehaus received a 25 percent rating from NARAL, while only Dahlkemper consistently did not vote according to the pro-abortion group’s 2009 recommendations. However, all four voted in favor of the Stupak Amendment to the health care legislation.

Catholics United says it will expand its activities to other Congressional districts throughout the summer and fall.

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Faithful in England prepare for Cardinal Newman beatification

Rome, Italy, Jul 24, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Birmingham's Cofton Park is set to be filled with Catholics for Cardinal John Henry Newman's beatification ceremony on Sept. 19. The momentum of the occasion is bringing attention to several projects to remember the late cardinal.

Organizers have announced that 70,000 people, including 1,000 priests, are expected to be in attendance during Cardinal Newman's beatification, according to Sky News. The ceremony will be celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI himself during his trip to England this fall.

As parish priests across the U.K. are deciding how to distribute their allotted tickets to their parishioners, other initiatives are taking shape around the country.

Stamps commemorating the occasion will be issued on the 120th anniversary of the cardinal's death on Aug. 11. According to Scotsman news, Archdiocese of Birmingham spokesman Peter Jennings has promoted the printing of the postage stamps featuring Cardinal Newman which will be sold together with a "stamp label" bearing the image of the Holy Father.

The stamp could be of special interest to collectors as the beatification's location was erroneously listed as Coventry Airport rather than Cofton Park. At the time of their printing, the airfield was thought to be the likely venue.

The plans for another major Cardinal Newman initiative were announced by the Oxford Oratory this week as they released further details for the construction of a new chapel dedicated to him. According to the Oxford Mail, the chapel will be the "centerpiece" of a five million British Pound plan for improvements and new construction.

To date, just 20 percent of the funds have been raised for the project, with fundraising activities being carried out by Oratory staff both in the U.S. and the U.K.

Oxford Mail captured the enthusiasm at the Oratory, quoting its provost, Fr. Robert Byrne, saying, “This is an exciting development not only for the parish but the whole of Oxford. It will be a fitting memorial for Cardinal Newman.”

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Catholic Church will never ‘celebrate same-sex unions,’ asserts Scottish bishop

Rome, Italy, Jul 24, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - "Not now, not in the future, not ever," wrote a Scottish bishop on the possibility of same-sex marriages in the Catholic Church. The prelate's comments came after U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron gave sweeping support for gay unions celebrated in places of worship.

Cameron commented during the Gay Pride function he hosted at his official government residence last week that he was pleased to announce a "good" and "right" step toward the further acceptance of same-sex unions. According to the Christian Institute (CI), he said he wanted to "make sure" that all religious sites have the right to register civil partnerships for same-sex couples.

CI reproduced his words, "I say this as someone who believes in marriage, who believes in civil partnership, who believes in commitment – and that is to say that if religious organizations, if churches, if mosques, if temples want to have civil partnerships celebrated at religious places of worship, that should be able to happen and we should make that happen.

“Of course," he added, "those organizations that don’t want that to happen have their rights too, but we shouldn’t let some legalistic nonsense get in the way of people who want to celebrate civil partnerships in churches, and when there are churches that want that to happen, we should allow that to happen.”

Bishop of Paisley, Philip Tartaglia, responded to the remarks in a letter to the prime minister, printed in part by Glasgow's The Herald newspaper, in which he pointed out skeptically that the statement is "vague enough to have more than one outcome in practice."

Rejecting the idea roundly for the Church of Rome, he added, "But you and your Government need to be aware from the outset that the Catholic Church will not register civil partnerships nor celebrate same-sex unions: not now, not in the future, not ever, no matter what legislation or regulations your Government enacts or endorses.”

Same-sex unions are allowed in Great Britain as "civil partnerships" but not "marriages," according to the Herald. Although under current law, registry of these "partnerships" in religious places of worship is not permitted, legislation in the U.K. parliament is currently being discussed to make it legal for churches and other religious organizations to do so.

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