London, England, Aug 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Fifteen Anglican bishops have acknowledged that many Anglicans will convert to Roman Catholicism because of current proposals to ordain women as bishops. Granting that the Anglo-Catholic tradition will not have room to grow under the proposals, they nonetheless urged “traditionalist” priests and deacons to continue their opposition.
The prelates responded to an open letter from over 1,000 Church of England priests and deacons who oppose new changes that would allow the ordination of women as bishops without concessions for those who reject the practice as inconsistent with the Christian tradition.
“These are grave times in the Church of England especially for those of us unable in good conscience to accept that any particular church has the authority to admit women to the episcopate,” the fifteen Anglican bishops’ July 27 letter began.
The bishops acknowledged that some Anglo-Catholics, including some bishops, are considering joining the Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict XVI for former Anglicans. Others will individually convert to Roman Catholicism.
“Were the present proposals not to be substantially amended or defeated, many more of us will need to consider seriously these options,” the bishops wrote.
A number of Anglo-Catholics will remain in the Church of England because of personal circumstances, family loyalty or financial necessity, but they will do so with a well-founded “deep sense of unease,” the bishops said.
“Our concerns are not only about sacramental assurance though that is of profound importance. If the legislation now proposed passes, it will not provide room for our tradition to grow and flourish,” they warned.
The 15 bishops said a majority of the Church of England supports the ordination of women as bishops, and many in authority will not encourage the church’s “traditional integrity.” Noting that a recent compromise measure proposed by Archbishops Rowan Williams and John Sentamu only narrowly failed, the bishops argued that the “closeness of the vote” suggests “at least a measure of disquiet” in the majority about proceeding.
“Those who are not actively seeking a home elsewhere must work to defeat the currently proposed legislation,” the bishops urged.
“We are all bishops united in our belief that the Church of England is mistaken in its actions. However, we must be honest and say we are not united as to how we should respond to these developments,” they continued, pledging respect for other Anglo-Catholics’ decisions and advising against “unguarded or uncharitable criticism” of those who take different action.
The bishops’ letter noted that provincial meetings of the clergy in late September will have opportunities to discuss the future.
Faisalabad, Pakistan, Aug 3, 2010 (CNA) - Over 2,000 people took part in a march in Pakistan to mark the first anniversary of some of the country’s worst anti-Christian violence. A leading police official admitted to marchers that security forces had failed to protect Christians, while some prominent Muslim leaders said they deplored the violence.
In August 2009 a mob of several thousand Muslims looted and burned a Christian neighborhood in Gojra city in Punjab province. Eight people died in the violence.
Some of the most prominent local Muslims addressed the marchers, describing the perpetrators as unworthy of being called Muslims. They denounced the crimes as being against the precepts of the Koran.
Bishop of Faisalabad Joseph Coutts presided at the memorial Mass on Sunday at Gojra’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church, ACN News reports. The bishop lit candles for each of those who died in the violence.
Victims included seven-year-old Musa Almas, his ten-year-old sister Umia, and five other members of their family.
The 2009 mob attacks reportedly took place in reaction to a rumor that the Koran was desecrated in a nearby village. The desecration was alleged to have taken place when children cut up pages from an old school book to use as wedding confetti. The school book supposedly contained verses from the Koran.
Bishop Coutts told ACN of his “huge relief” that the memorial events had gone peacefully despite recent violence. Two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy were shot and killed outside a Faisalabad courthouse after being cleared of the charges.
The prelate said that after the memorial Mass the police district’s coordinating officer Amaan Ullah said the police response to the crisis had been “a failure.”
“The police had received sufficient reports to indicate that there was something happening in Gojra that could lead to serious violence,” the bishop commented.
While a judicial inquiry has already found fault with the police handling of the Gojra violence, Sunday was the first time a police official made such a public admission. Some have argued that the police should have imposed a legal order in Gojra to forbid gatherings of people within a defined area in order to eliminate the risk of mob violence.
Bishop Coutts also discussed how several very senior Muslims had appeared before the crowds of marchers in Gojra to describe the attack as “un-Islamic.”
One leader was “quite clear” that Islam does not teach that people should be attacked. According to the bishop, the Muslim cleric said, “People who carry out attacks of this kind are not to be considered Muslims … and the same applies to those who attack places of worship.”
The people in the march reacted to these remarks “very quietly.”
“Normally after speeches it is the custom here to give some applause but it was different this time,” commented Bishop Coutts, saying he praised the people for their calm response.
“Indeed everything went wonderfully well, beyond my expectations – a huge relief,” he added.
Local MP Aamir Joel, who is Catholic, has promised to press for more government funds to compensate victims and to rebuild vital infrastructure that was damaged by the violence.
The charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has launched a campaign to help the Church in Pakistan. It has also spoken out against the country’s blasphemy laws.
El Paso, Texas, Aug 3, 2010 (CNA) - Warning of the possibility of a corrupt democracy, Texas priest Fr. Michael Rodriguez has written that Catholics have the “absolute duty” to oppose abortion and all government attempts to legalize same-sex unions.
The parish priest of El Paso’s San Juan Bautista Catholic Church, Fr. Rodriguez published a short essay in the Sunday El Paso Times urging all Catholics to take the teachings of the Catholic Church to heart.
Every Catholic, out of “fidelity to charity and truth,” must oppose “the murder of unborn babies” and the legalization of homosexual unions, he said.
“Any Catholic who supports homosexual acts is, by definition, committing a mortal sin, and placing himself/herself outside of communion with the Roman Catholic Church,” the priest wrote. Those Catholics who neglect actively to oppose the “homosexual agenda” on the grounds of equal rights and tolerance would be guilty of “a most grievous sin of omission.”
Fr. Rodriguez quoted the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) November 2009 pastoral letter on marriage, noting it was endorsed by the Bishop of El Paso Armando X. Ochoa. That document said the idea that people of the same-sex can “marry” is “one of the most troubling developments in contemporary culture” and is an attempt to “redefine” marriage and the family.
This harms both the intrinsic dignity of every person and the common good of society, the bishops said, adding that justice requires denying legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not “marital.”
Fr. Rodriguez urged Catholics to treat homosexuals with “love, understanding and respect” without forgetting that genuine love requires seeking the salvation of souls.
“Homosexual acts lead to the damnation of souls,” the priest warned.
Criticizing several El Paso Times letter writers who claimed that in a democracy the majority decide between what is right and wrong, he said this logic is “not only false” but “ludicrous.” Majority decisions have no bearing on an actions’ intrinsic morality, he explained.
This morality, established by God, can be known through reason, he said. As an example of intrinsic morality, the priest noted that if a majority voted to allow rape this could never make rape morally right.
“There is such a thing as a corrupt democracy, you know!” commented Fr. Rodriguez. “Frighteningly, if the majority chooses to deny the objective moral order, then we will all suffer the pestiferous consequences.”
Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington D.C., encouraged the Knights of Columbus to promote the New Evangelization “in the midst of this much secularized world” as he delivered the homily today for the opening Mass of the 128th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The Mass, presided over by Archbishop Wuerl, was attended by eight cardinals, including Francis George, president of the USCCB; Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, Cuba; and Gaudencio Rosales of Manila, Philippines. Seventy-eight bishops and more than 200 priests also concelebrated at the Mass.
During his homily, Archbishop Wuerl recalled that Pope John Paul II “called the Church to a new evangelization. At the beginning of his pontificate more than 30 years ago, he encouraged Catholics with the words “do not be afraid.” “Pope Benedict XVI used the same words as he assumed his responsibilities five years ago in April 2005 at the beginning of his Petrine ministry, 'Do not be afraid!'”
“These words, taken from today’s Gospel, have become the staple of the new evangelization,” Archbishop Wuerl noted, adding that “Our Holy Father challenges us to experience Jesus personally and then to become heralds to others of that personal encounter with Jesus.”
The Archbishop of Washington then said that in Our Lady of Guadalupe, “Patroness and Queen of America, we see the model of our own mission of evangelization,” since “(o)ur task begins with the understanding that all of us are called to be instruments of the manifestation of Mary’s son, Jesus.”
“At this time it is you, it is I, who are asked to invite people to come to know Jesus … we are the ones who have to be witnesses by our words and deeds … and we need not to fear the mission of stepping out into this world, as secular as it may be.”
Later in his homily, explaining the theme of this year’s Supreme Convention, “I am my Brother’s Keeper,” Archbishop Wuerl said that it references the fact that “God’s love manifested in Christ is supposed to be reflected in our care for one another and all human beings.”
Speaking about the charism imprinted in the Knights of Columbus by their founder, Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, the Archbishop Wuerl underscored that “the very origins of our order are connected to the witness of charity.”
He then praised the Knights for their “longstanding commitment for the good of the Church and the nation,” including their nationwide charitable activities and volunteer work, service to the community, to the Gospel of life, the family, the true definition of marriage and the promotion of vocations in the Church.
“Father McGivney did not hesitate to step out onto the water ... Look around this basilica and see the fruit of his commitment. I have long held that the real miracle of Father McGivney is the growth of his order, now embracing a growing number of nations,” said Archbishop Wuerl as he surveyed the basilica, packed with more than 2,000 Knights from the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Poland, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and other countries.
He also praised the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, “for continuing and consolidating the Knights’ tradition.” “I continuously marvel at the Supreme Knight’s final report showing how the Knights are living witnesses to the call to be our brother’s keeper,” Archbishop Wuerl remarked.
“What we lift up at this Supreme Convention — the works of charity and service of the Knights of Columbus throughout the world — is truly a celebration of our Catholic identity and a fruit of Our Lady’s visit to America,” the archbishop said.
Turning back to the contemporary culture, Archbishop Wuerl said, “Our mission as Jesus’ witnesses takes place in a world profoundly in need of a New Evangelization. The threads of an encounter with the living Lord and the love that he brings into this world need to be woven once again into the fabric of our culture, of our society, our nation and our world. This, Christ and his Church entrust to us today.”
“We are our brother's keeper! in wild contradiction to all the other lifestyles, options and opinions, we are to be champions of the New Evangelization … to be a living, effective sign of the Risen Christ in this highly secular world, in which we are still called to ‘walk on the water’,” knowing that Jesus “is there saying ‘don’t be afraid, don’t doubt’.”
Archbishop Wuerl finished the homily by praying to Our Lady of Guadalupe, asking her to “allow us to be ministers of the New Evangelization, our brother's keeper.”
The 128th Supreme Convention is being held in Washington, D.C., August 3-5. The nation’s capital previously hosted Supreme Conventions in 1932, 1985, 1993 and 2003.
Bogotá, Colombia, Aug 3, 2010 (CNA) - Newly appointed Coadjutor Archbishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve of Cali, Colombia responded to a proposal by the leader of FARC, Alonso Cano, to begin talks with the government. The prelate said that if the rebel group desires to make a proposal for peace, the door will always be open.
According to RCN Radio, the archbishop said that Colombia will be truly independent on the day it is free of violence and when national reconciliation can be fulfilled.
During the ceremony welcoming the archbishop to the archdiocese, he expressed his commitment to collaborate in reducing violence in Cali, which shares Colombia's highest crime rate with the city of Medellin.
He also said he is looking forward to celebrating the Archdiocese of Cali’s 100th anniversary on September 11.
Santiago, Chile, Aug 3, 2010 (CNA) - After celebrating Mass on the campus of San Joaquin Catholic University last week, the Archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, addressed the recent legalization of same-sex “marriage” in Argentina.
Speaking to reporters, the cardinal said, “Maybe two people, two men or two women want to live together and share their lives, but to call that 'marriage' is an aberration which some countries are falling into. It is sad that Argentina has fallen into that,” he added.
“History is repeating itself. That is, something new comes along and becomes the fad that everyone applauds. After a while, after a few years, people see that it was a mistake,” the cardinal continued.
Speaking about the possibility of Chile passing a law legalizing gay 'marriage,' Cardinal Errazuriz responded: “With the low birth rate in our own country, there is going to be a drop in the population, and an aging of the population. We won’t be able to pay the pensions of the elderly because we have taken the wrong road,” he concluded.
Vatican City, Aug 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The beleaguered Haitian people received some good news on July 23 when a $250,000 donation to rebuild a school was scheduled and a special message from Pope Benedict XVI was delivered.
Benedict XVI's message to the people of Haiti began,“Six months after the earthquake that devastated your island, I want you to know that the Pope hasn’t forgotten you.”
“He always has present the pain that you have lived and knows of your suffering and the difficulties of reconstructing your homes, your cities and your lives,” the Pontiff said.
The administrative council of the Populorum Progressio Foundation, comprised of Catholic prelates from across Latin America and representatives of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," met in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from July 20-23.
During what was their first annual meeting held in a Caribbean nation, they discussed the allocation of funds destined to finance projects that aid indigenous, mestizo and African-American laborers in the Caribbean and throughout Latin America.
At the meeting, 230 projects from 20 different countries from Mexico to Bolivia, Brazil and the Antilles were presented. Besides paperwork, the group visited Church-run aid camps in Haiti celebrated Mass with the local Church community.
The prelates also met with representatives from humanitarian aid organizations and visited the national headquarters of the Catholic charity Caritas, where the president of “Cor Unum,” Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, scheduled a $250,000 donation on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI. The money was originally slated towards rebuilding St. Francis de Sales school in Port-au-Prince, which was destroyed in the devastating earthquake last January. While the donation is in the possession of the bishops it has yet to be delivered due to bureaucratic issues.
A second donation of $50,000 was also delivered in the Holy Father's name to the local chapter of Caritas on the evening of July 23.
Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an emotional letter sent by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI to the Knights of Columbus, the Pontiff said that the best response to the attacks against the Church is a greater fidelity to Christ.
The Pope also used the fraternal organization as an example of loyalty to the Catholic Church.
In the letter, read during the first session of the 128th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Washington D.C., Cardinal Bertone wrote that “in the face of often unfair and unfounded attacks on the Church and her leaders, His Holiness is convinced that the most effective response is a great fidelity to God’s word, a more resolute pursuit of holiness, and an increased commitment to charity in truth on the part of all the faithful.”
“He asks the Knights to persevere in their witness of faith and charity, in the serene trust that, as the Church embraces this period of purification, her light will come to shine all the more brightly (cf. Mt 5:15-16) before men and women of fair mind and good will,” he added.
“At a time when fundamental moral norms, grounded in truth and inscribed in the human heart, are increasingly called into question and at times overturned by positive legislation,” Cardinal Bertone continued, the Pope “is grateful for the efforts made by the Knights, in cooperation with other men and women of good will, to uphold the reasonableness of the Church’s moral teaching and its importance for a sound, just and enduring social order.”
In the letter addressed to Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, the Cardinal Secretary of State said that the Holy Father “once more thanks your Order for its witness to the sanctity of human life and the authentic nature of marriage, and for its efforts to promote in the Catholic laity a greater consciousness of the need to overcome every separation between the faith we profess and the daily decisions which shape our lives as individuals and the life of society as a whole.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 3, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca issued a statement this week condemning the murder of Father Salvador Carlos and calling for reconciliation in Mexico.
In his message, the archbishop noted that the death of the elderly priest, who was tortured and killed during a robbery, “is just one of so many instances” showing “how much our society has deteriorated.”
“Whether out of ambition, necessity or hunger, people are being robbed, corruption is on the rise … and murders are taking place,” the archbishop stated. "A group of people were willing to beat and hang an elderly 82-year-old priest at his office in the parish of Our Lady of the Snows just to rob him. The society of Oaxaca has felt the impact and is hurt and outraged over this murder,” he added.
Archbishop Chavez underscored that the Church promotes reconciliation, peace and authentic justice, despite many false accusations and attacks on her freedom to exercise her mission. “From this painful experience we want to hear what God is telling us and what God is asking of all Catholics, especially the priests of this diocesan church because only from God and with God will we be able to remake ourselves and raise up our society,” he said.
For this reason, reconciliation is an urgent need that is “no longer an option, but rather a question of survival,” the archbishop said, urging that Mexicans struggle to overcome their resentment, hatred and feelings of vengeance, so “our wounds can be healed from within.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 3, 2010 (CNA) - An editorial published by the Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news service (SIAME) expressed disappointment over the sanctions imposed against the governor-elect of Sinaloa. The recently elected official invoked the name of God in a public ceremony during his campaign.
The editorial reported that election officials from Mexico’s Justice Department imposed a fine on Sinaloa’s governor-elect, Mario Lopez Valdez, and publicly admonished him for mentioning the name of God during his campaign.
Lopez Valdez said during a meeting: “I will win with the support of the will of the people and of God.” As a result he was fined $2,000.
The archdiocesan editorial stated that, “using childish arguments and guided by prejudice and religious intolerance,” election officials decided “that the politician’s expressions ‘contravened article 130 of the federal constitution and article 117 of the electoral laws of Sinaloa’.”
“The Archdiocese of Mexico City is surprised at the hatred that exists in our country for these kinds of religious manifestations, especially because we are a nation with a majority that is Catholic and believes in God,” the editorial continued. “The Mexican National Anthem itself, which is sung every day at public events, respectfully invokes the name of God.”
The archdiocese also noted that the story made international headlines in the Catholic media because so many find it incredible that in Mexico such an action is considered a punishable crime.
Arlington, Va., Aug 3, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop of Arlington Paul Loverde has expressed his “unimaginable sadness” at a car accident which killed one Benedictine sister and severely injured two others.
The three were headed to a retreat at St. Benedict Monastery in Bristow, Virginia when they were struck by an alleged drunk driver. Sister Denise Mosier, 66, was killed in the accident while Srs. Charlotte Lange, 75, and Connie Ruth Lupton, 70, suffered severe injuries.
“I immediately went to the hospital to be with the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia who had gathered there, including their prioress, Sister Cecilia Dwyer,” Bishop Loverde said on Monday. He reported he was able to visit with Sr. Charlotte. He added that he is praying “fervently” for the sisters’ healing, as is the entire diocese.
“Our faith gives us the knowledge that the Lord is with us in all things, even in this profound sorrow,” the bishop continued. “I pray that Sister Denise, a good and faithful servant of the Lord whom I knew from Saint Benedict’s Monastery and her work with our Diocesan Sisters’ Council, has gone to her eternal reward.”
He called the accident a reminder that men and women are “pilgrims on this earthly journey.” He also said the accident would have been avoidable if the other driver had not been driving while intoxicated.
“While we pray for the driver, let us also recommit ourselves to eliminating this absolutely unacceptable behavior,” he commented.
According to the Washington Times, the accused driver is a repeat offender and an undocumented immigrant who was awaiting deportation.
Sister Glenna Smith, spokeswoman for the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, told the Catholic Herald that the critical status of the two injured sisters was “virtually unchanged” as of Tuesday morning.
A wake for Sr. Denise will be held on Thursday evening at the monastery chapel in Bristow, while her funeral Mass will be offered at the chapel on Friday at 11 a.m.