San José, Costa Rica, Aug 10, 2010 (CNA) - At the conclusion of their 100th Plenary Assembly, the Bishops’ Conference of Costa Rica urged the faithful to defend marriage and the family. The prelates also rejected proposals to grant equal status to other kinds of unions.
After calling for sincere conversion, the bishops said, “The family is at the heart of the Church’s mission. For this reason, this August, under the theme, ‘The Family, Gift of God for Society,’ the Church wishes to help reaffirm the identity of the family and raise awareness of its primary role in ... Costa Rican society.”
“As John Paul II reminded us: ‘The family is a community of persons, the most basic social cell, and as such it is a fundamental institution for the life of every society. What does the family as an institution expect of society? To be recognized in its identity and accepted in its nature as a social subject’.”
For this reason, the bishops explained, “If marriage and the family are to be what they are, they must not be made equal to other relationships that do have the same identity.”
The bishops also called for the creation of “an authentic family policy” that safeguards the family consisting of marriage between a man and a woman. The family has inalienable rights that must be protected, they stressed.
Santiago, Chile, Aug 10, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Gaspar Quintana of Copiapo, Chile presided over a Mass in which he prayed for the timely rescue of the 33 workers trapped in a copper mine. The bishop also offered his spiritual support to the families clinging to the hope of finding their loved ones alive.
The miners have been trapped since August 5, when the San Esteban mine collapsed.
In his homily, Bishop Quintana expressed his wish that the miners be rescued soon and in good health. He also praised the strength exhibited by the families who are waiting outside the collapsed mine for news.
The bishop lamented the accident and appealed to the authorities, businessmen and workers, asking them to be mindful of the safety conditions in which they carry out their tasks, so that events like these may be avoided.
According to information from the Diocese of Copiapo's communications office, Bishop Quintana spent Friday morning at the site of the mine, accompanying the miners' families and learning about the rescue efforts. Then, at night, the vicar general, Father Alejandro Castillo, celebrated a Liturgy of the Word on-site. He was joined by Father Juan Carlos Sanchez and Father Daniel Pauvif, who had been keeping vigil with the people outside the mine.
In a statement to Chile’s Radio Cooperativa, Bishop Quintana addressed the mine's owners and exhorted them to "take seriously" the company’s social responsibility. "I'd ask them to have common sense," he said, "and if they are Christian or Catholic, I'd ask them to consider what a business' social responsibility means seriously."
This implies "a code in which work isn't a good to be sold or bought, but rather its part of the human dignity," declared the prelate.
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 10, 2010 (CNA) - The communications office of the Archdiocese of Xalapa, Mexico recently released a statement pointing out that legalizing drugs will not solve the country’s problems. Instead, the archdiocese called for a “revolution of consciences” to combat Mexico’s violence and organized crime.
In a press release, the archdiocese referred to the call by President Felipe Calderon to seek out national unity and create appropriate strategies “for confronting the problems of the lack of security, violence and organized crime.”
The archdiocese also noted that “all of society has been invited to participate in the national debate on the legalization of drugs” and lamented that for issues such as abortion and gay “marriage,” not everyone has been allowed to share their opinion.
For this reason, the archdiocese said, the debate on the legalization of drugs should be broadened and focused on the urgent need for personal and social reform “in order to attack at the roots the grave problems related to the lack of security, violence and organized crime.”
It said the legalization of drugs would mean the continuing tolerance of corruption and of mechanisms of destruction that are inherent in the production, sale and consumption of drugs. “We need a revolution, not with guns,” the archdiocese said, “but with a revolution of consciences, a true moral revolution.”
St. Louis, Mo., Aug 10, 2010 (CNA) - Voting 257 to 158, a breakaway Polish Catholic church in Missouri rejected a reconciliation deal offered by Archbishop Robert Carlson as a way for the group to return into communion with the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
St. Stanislaus Kostka – a church in the north of the city which has advocated women priests, married priests and non-Catholics being able to receive the Eucharist – has long been in contention with the archdiocese. In 2005, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith confirmed then Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke’s decree excommunicating the board of directors of the parish.
Under his new leadership, Archbishop Robert Carlson offered a compromise that would have allowed the church board to own the parish property and assets as it currently does, but with a second board being set up to lease the church and the rectory.
On Sunday, however, 415 members of St. Stanislaus cast a ballot with the majority voting against the reconciliation effort, reported local St. Louis Fox2Now news.
"The people have spoken, in ancient Rome the Christians used to say 'Vox populi, vox dei,' which in Latin means the voice of the people is the voice of God," said church pastor Marek Bozek, who was excommunicated in 2005 along with several other board members. "And I do believe members of this church have expressed their strong opinion that most don't wish to go back to the diocese."
However, one former board member who has since reconciled with the archdiocese, called Archbishop Carlson's proposal fair, saying the deal was “exactly what we wanted.”
Bob Zabielski, who was excommunicated but has since reconciled with the archdiocese, was critical of the vote results.
"It's not about the power and the money anymore, it's about the priest," Zabielski told Fox2Now, "and I don't think he's taking his church in the direction of a Roman Catholic church anymore."
London, England, Aug 10, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Mgr. Andrew Summersgill, coordinator of Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to the United Kingdom, clarified on Sunday that pilgrims who will be attending any of the major open air events with the Holy Father will not be paying "a charge to go to Mass," but a contribution of solidarity to cover the cost for the transportation of pilgrims.
Pope Benedict's visit to the U.K., planned from September 16-19, will include three open-air public celebrations: the Mass in Bellahouston, the Vigil in Hyde Park and the Mass in Cofton Park.
Some interested in attending the events as well as the local media reacted negatively when the organizers of the Pope's visit announced that a contribution of roughly $40 and $32 per pilgrim would be requested towards covering Cofton Park and Bellahouston Park travel, respectively.
"It is a contribution, not, as I’ve been reading in some places, a charge for people to go to Mass," Mgr. Andrew Summersgill explained on Sunday.
"Its main purpose is to cover the cost of transportation, particularly to Cofton and to Bellahouston,” Msgr. Summersgill explained. He added that the money will also cover traffic management, and the “secured accreditation that is needed for people to get in."
The coordinator of the Pope's visit explained the difference by describing the established practice for World Youth Days.
"What happens at the World Youth Days is that everybody is invited to register online and part of that registration includes a contribution which is usually made by credit card or through groups. So it’s not totally dissimilar to the way these things work in other parts of the world," he said.
"The contribution," he explained "is being kept the same across the board and therefore it’s an act, if you like, of solidarity, so that anybody who is attending either the Beatification Mass or the Mass in Glasgow is making the same contribution no matter where they are coming from."
In fact, according to the organizers, in England and Wales, the contributions are collected through the dioceses and “it is up to each one to decide how they wish to collect the contributions from within their own dioceses.”
“The diocese itself may make the contribution,” Msgr. Summersgill added, “it may be passed to parishes, there may be fundraising groups within parishes and parishes may wish to support other people attending Papal events. It isn’t a direct contribution in that sense.”
Each pilgrim attending the open air events will receive a Pilgrim Pack (a drawstring bag) containing a “pilgrim passport, a commemorative CD and a 'How to keep in touch' postcard.”
Washington D.C., Aug 10, 2010 (CNA) - The anti-Proposition 8 decision’s claim that religious opinions about the sinfulness of homosexuality harm homosexuals is “outrageous” and could endanger both the place of religion in public life and religious liberty itself, legal experts and Catholic leaders have warned.
Last Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker overturned Prop. 8, the 2008 California ballot measure which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. He declared as a “finding of fact” that “Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.”
Under this finding, Walker’s decision cited statements of several religions on homosexual acts and legal recognition of same-sex relationships, including the 2003 Vatican document “Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons.”
That document written by Pope Benedict XVI when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) spokeswoman Mary Ann Walsh criticized the Prop. 8 decision in a Friday column at the Washington Post website’s “On Faith” section.
She said the decision was “irrational” in dismissing marriage between a man and a woman “as if it were some kooky idea.” Judge Walker’s claim about religious beliefs’ harmfulness to homosexuals was “even more irrational.”
“The judge's placing religion and government at odds amounts to Constitutional irrationality,” Walsh charged. “It is no small irony that his anti-religious position is enshrined in a ruling deemed to oppose bigotry.”
The USCCB spokeswoman claimed that the U.S. Constitution precludes government from weighing in on the acceptability of religious beliefs. She also said that the judge’s ruling wrongly said that the Church views homosexuality as sinful, when in fact the Church sees it as an inclination that is not intrinsically sinful.
“The Catholic Church makes clear that it is homosexual activities it deems sinful, because it holds that all sexual activity belongs within marriage between a man and a woman,” Sr. Walsh explained, adding that the Church “abhors” violence against homosexuals and opposes “all unjust discrimination.”
Kevin “Seamus” Hasson, President of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, spoke about the Prop. 8 ruling in a Monday phone conversation with CNA.
Asked whether the finding of fact about religion’s harmfulness could set a precedent, he explained that findings of fact are “limited to the case” of Prop. 8. He also suggested that it was “not helpful” to criticize as unconstitutional the judge’s statements on the harmfulness of specific religious beliefs.
For Hasson, the ruling was “disappointing but not surprising.” He charged that the judge conducted the case as a “show trial” and further claimed the judge took the “outrageously extreme” view that those who believe in moral traditions are “irrelevant, irrational even.”
Hasson added that he doesn’t believe any other federal cases have ruled religious teachings to be harmful.
“To say categorically that religion is bad is an amazingly arrogant statement,” the Becket Fund head commented, charging that Judge Walker was “an activist judge.”
Hasson particularly criticized the ruling’s “sweeping statements,” such as its contention that male-female marriage is a “leftover” and that gender roles are “an artifact of time gone by.” He predicted that the ruling’s “breathtaking grandiosity” will lead it to its being overruled.
He repeated that the decision was a “breathtaking development” because it advocated that all religious believers and their moral convictions “should be out of the public square.”
“On homosexuality, when life begins, when life ends, whether euthanasia is permissible, questions of sexual propriety, right across the board. Anything that believers hold is categorically excluded,” he continued.
“This is very dangerous precedent,” Hasson commented, pledging that the Becket Fund is prepared to oppose “anybody who attempts to expand Judge Walker’s erroneous opinion into other areas.”
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, told CNA in a Monday e-mail that the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality are shared by many world religions and have been the view of most people throughout history.
“But in the mind of Judge Walker, all of this is now suspect. Such arrogance would be hard to top,” Donohue continued.
“In the eyes of the Catholic Church, all sexual unions outside marriage, traditionally understood, are harmful to the best interests of society. And for good reason: they compete, if not undermine, the institutional basis that allows for the establishment of a family.”
CNA asked the Catholic League about the judge’s citation of the CDF document signed by Pope Benedict.
“Listing the Pope's remarks in a judicial ruling designed to prove the harmfulness of Church teachings on homosexuality is invidious,” Donohue responded.
He charged that the action seeks to “stigmatize the defense of marriage” and tries to make homosexual relations more acceptable.
“In doing so, it opens the door to the demonization of Christianity in the schools,” Donohue continued.
The Catholic League president claimed that the Prop. 8 ruling would “invite greater pressure” on the Catholic Church and other religions to accept “the radical homosexual agenda.”
If this effort is successful, Donohue warned, “not only will the family suffer, the prospects for religious liberty will be endangered as well.”
Phoenix, Ariz., Aug 10, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Weighing in on what he called the “misguided” ruling by a federal judge who struck down California's Proposition 8 last week, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona declared on Tuesday evening, what “is at stake here is cultural sanity and viability.”
On Aug. 4, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8, an initiative which passed in November 2008 with the support of seven million Californians, both “unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The constitutionality of Prop. 8 was challenged immediately after it was approved in 2008. Last week's ruling was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by traditional marriage supporters and may even reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a statement released on the Diocese of Phoenix's website on Tuesday, Bishop Olmsted wrote that the “misguided decision of Judge Vaughn Walker, striking down as unconstitutional the California Marriage Law called Proposition 8, cannot be passed over in silence.”
“Labeling homosexual 'marriage' as 'a right' is not an enlightened idea of the 21st century,” the bishop asserted. “It is a novel form of a resurrected falsehood from more than 2000 years ago. It will not stand the test of time, just as it cannot withstand popular opinion now.”
“In every state in our nation where this issue has been put to a vote of the people (31 of the 50), traditional marriage has won,” Olmsted noted. “It is only some activist judges, exercising raw judicial power over and against the will of the people, who have pushed their agenda of so-called 'homosexual marriage.'”
The bishop also warned that what “is at stake here is cultural sanity and viability. Defending the clear nature and purpose of marriage is not discrimination against homosexual persons.”
“Why did God create both men and women, not just one sex?” the bishop asked. “Is it really all that difficult to fathom that God had a plan for marriage, which He wove into the very fabric of human nature? This plan is so deeply embedded in our human nature that every culture in history has recognized it and enshrined and protected it in law and custom.”
“Marriage being exclusively between a man and a woman was not an idea created by these cultures but, rather, a truth received by them as something handed down from a higher authority,” the prelate underscored.
“We need to again recall the key distinction, when considering homosexuality, between the homosexual inclination on the one hand and homosexual acts on the other,” Bishop Olmsted said.
The Phoenix bishop also clarified that although Scripture and Christian tradition hold that homosexual acts are sinful, “persons with homosexual inclinations but who do not engage in homosexual acts are not guilty of sin at all. No more or less than other persons, Christ calls them to holiness of life, inviting them as He invites us all to take up our cross each day and follow after Him.”
“All who follow Christ are given the grace to live the virtue of chastity; and they can joyfully do so with a clean heart.”
Seeking 'true happiness' for those with same-sex attraction
“Love and truth go hand-in-hand,” the bishop continued. “Everyone who experiences true love knows this – we want those we love to know the truth. As Catholics, we want to love people authentically and not in a mediocre way that would ignore dangers in a person’s life out of a shallow concern for political correctness.”
“We need never worry that speaking the truth clearly and charitably is a violation of love,” he stressed.
“Both Church teaching and the study of reality, the natural law, show that homosexuality is an objective disorder – that is, it does not correspond to the God-given reality of the sexually differentiated human being.
“Therefore, to condone the homosexual lifestyle is never a move in favor of a person’s true happiness,” Bishop Olmsted wrote. “Moreover, to change the legal and societal definition of the fundamental institution of marriage in order to suit an adult sexual preference is a selfish and irresponsible corruption of the truth.
“The truth is that the reason why the state cannot redefine marriage is because it never defined it in the first place; it is a truth received, not created. It is God who defined marriage.
“For the state to redefine marriage will certainly have a negative impact on love, especially for children, who suffer most when marriage is weakened,” he warned.
Denver, Colo., Aug 10, 2010 (CNA) - Responding to the recent call of Cardinal Justin Rigali to spread the message of the Theology of the Body – Pope John Paul II's teachings on human sexuality – noted author Dawn Eden has made a free copy of her master's thesis, including a new preface and supporting material, available exclusively on CNA.
At the first annual Theology of the Body Congress in Pennsylvania, Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, exhorted the faithful to promote the work of the late Pontiff, describing his teaching on sexuality as the modern “curriculum of the Culture of Life.”
In support of Cardinal Rigali’s exhortation, Eden responded, “I have decided to make my master’s thesis available free of charge to all.”
Eden’s thesis—which gained public attention in June when she published her official defense on her blog—has sparked controversy among some Catholics, as it critically examines popular speaker Christopher West’s presentation of John Paul II’s teachings.
Among the assertions made by West that she faulted was his claim that the Church’s liturgy “is modeled on the union of spouses,” which he supports by saying the Easter Candle is “truly” intended to be a phallic symbol. Eden countered this by citing documentation from the Consilium—the body of experts charged with revising the liturgy following Vatican II—showing that theologians appointed by the Magisterium had rejected the phallic interpretation of the candle.
Eden’s thesis also asserted that West, in telling engaged couples that they should not marry until they attain a complete victory over lust, forgets that only the sacrament of matrimony can enable a couple to move from the imperfect virtue of continence into the perfect virtue of marital chastity. As a result, Eden claimed, he unwittingly promotes “a semi-Pelagian ideal of human-powered self-control.”
Author of the hit book “The Thrill of the Chaste,” Eden successfully defended her master’s thesis this past May 19 at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.
Speaking to CNA in a phone interview on August 9, Eden said, “My purpose in writing the thesis was to help the church's teachers give a more accurate and faithful presentation of the Theology of the Body.”
Eden noted that “the material created by Christopher West and promoted by the Theology of the Body Institute is very popular, and very heavily marketed to parishes and dioceses.”
“So, if there are errors in the millions of copies of materials” that are currently circulating, “there's no way that anyone could simply recall all of these because of certain errors here or there,” Eden said.
For that reason, the author explained, “I would hope that my thesis would help those who are teaching the Theology of the Body to better discern where there is a need to either correct or augment West's presentation to make it more perfectly faithful to Church teaching.”
Eden has faced criticism from supporters of West, some of whom have argued that her observations are unwarranted and divisive. However, the author clarified that her criticism of West's approach is offered in a spirit of “fraternal correction.”
“Christopher West has many gifts as a speaker and an author,” qualified Eden. “That's undeniable.”
"In his talks, Christopher West exudes true Christian joy – that is, the joy that rejoices in the truth – mixed with a lot of what Dr. Alice von Hildebrand has, I think, rightly called enthusiasm."
And yet, “if one makes a theological criticism of the presentation of the bringer of this joy, it can unfortunately be taken as an attack on the joy itself,” Eden noted. “And that's unfortunate.”
This misunderstanding has led the words of those who are attempting charitable, fraternal correction of West's presentation – such as Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, Dr. Mary Shivanandan and Dr. David Schindler – to be “misconstrued as personal attacks.”
In the preface to her thesis, Eden also noted that her work “is not about 'going after' Christopher West, or anyone.”
Rather, it “is about examining the work of an enormously popular author and speaker, who has been highly successful in reaching people with certain truths about the faith, and asking what boils down to a simple question: Is this presenter’s account of Catholic teachings entirely truthful, or does it contain, to paraphrase St. Thomas, the 'admixture' of errors?”
“This is an important question to ask respectfully with regard to any teacher of the faith who does not possess the charism of infallibility,” she underscored, “especially one who is marketing his presentation with the claim that it faithfully represents a work of the Magisterium.”
To view Eden's full thesis, click here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/DawnEdenThesis.pdf
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 10, 2010 (CNA) - Mexican law experts spoke out this week against the ruling by the country’s Supreme Court which upheld the constitutionality of gay “marriage” in Mexico City. They rejected the court’s arguments saying the new law is unconstitutional because it contradicts the concept of marriage between a man and a woman established in the 1917 Constitution.
Amidst the debate in the Supreme Court over whether or not the ruling applies to the entire country or only to Mexico City, Dr. Jorge Adame, a researcher at the UNAM Institute for Legal Research, said that although the court has yet to issue a formal opinion in writing, the ruling that upholds the constitutionality of same-sex “marriage” in Mexico City does not imply that other Mexican states are required to accept them. He added that it also does not give same-sex couples the right to marry in other areas of the country.
Victor Manuel Montoya of the College of Lawyers and the Mexican Bar of Lawyers, said the court “cannot violate the sovereignty of state legislatures and much less ignore their sovereignty in legislating on civil matters, as is the case with marriage.”
Jose Antonio Sanchez Barroso, professor at the Pan-American University, said he also agrees that the law on same-sex “marriage” violates the Mexican Constitution. He called the ruling “ideological and not based on the law.”
Vatican City, Aug 10, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following the decision of a group of plaintiffs in Kentucky to drop a lawsuit against the Holy See, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi praised the move, saying it was “good news” that the allegations were ultimately proven “unfounded.”
On Tuesday, plaintiffs in the case of O'Bryan vs. the Holy See abandoned their lawsuit against the Vatican. Attorney William McMurry attempted to gain class-action status for the case involving three men who claim they were abused by priests decades ago. He also represented 243 sex abuse victims who settled with the Archdiocese of Louisville in 2003 for $25.3 million.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs attempted to implicate Vatican officials – and potentially even the Pope – in allegedly ignoring or covering up the mishandling of clergy sex-abuse cases by American bishops.
Lauding the abandonment of the lawsuit on Aug. 10, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told reporters “it is good news that a case that has lasted six years on the alleged involvement of the Holy See in concealing abuse and which has also had strong negative effects on public opinion, has ultimately been proven … unfounded.”
Fr. Lombardi also said that the outcome does not in any way diminish the Vatican's condemnation of sexual abuse or compassion for the victims.
“Justice for victims of sexual abuse and the protection of minors remain our primary objective,” he explained.
Vatican Radio reported on Tuesday that lawyers for the plaintiffs said earlier court rulings recognizing the sovereign immunity of the Holy See influenced the outcome, as well as the fact that most victims have already sought compensation from their dioceses.
Jeffrey Lena, the American lawyer for the Holy See, said the dropping of the Kentucky case shows there has never been a Vatican policy requiring concealment of child sexual abuse.
Lena added that although the case against the Holy See always lacked merit, it does not mean that the plaintiffs themselves did not suffer as a result of sexual abuse. The attempted lawsuit, he said, only served to distract from the important goal of protecting children from harm.