Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 11, 2010 (CNA) - The Supreme Court of Mexico has ruled that gay “marriages” that take place in Mexico City, must be recognized throughout the entire country. However, the decision does not require all 31 states modify their laws to allow the “marriages” to take place.
On December 21, the Federal District of Mexico City legalized same-sex “marriages.” Until now, those “marriages” were only legally recognized in the capital city.
During the past week, Judges Margarita Luna Ramos and José de Jesús Gudiño Pelayo helped Judge Sergio A. Valls Hernández gather the nine necessary votes in favor of the national recognition of homosexual “marriages” performed in the capital city.
The two judges who opposed the measure in defense of traditional marriage were Guillermo Ortiz Mayagoitia and Sergio Salvador Aguirre Anguiano.
“The fact that 31 states define marriage in a distinct manner cannot in any way limit the legislative powers of the capital city,” said Valls, who spearheaded the measure.
In their dissenting opinion, Guillermo Ortiz Mayagoitia and Sergio Salvador Aguirre Anguiano declared that giving validity to homosexual “marriage” nationwide breaks the harmony of the federal system.
The court will now address the adoption of children by same-sex couples who are married in Mexico City.
Manila, Philippines, Aug 11, 2010 (CNA) - A push to legalize abortion in the Philippines is “unacceptable” because the country “should be saving lives, not taking them,” a pro-life group is charging. Instead of abortion, the group is advocating better education and government services to help stop “unwanted pregnancies.”
The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has advocated for legal abortions in the Philippines to stop the thousands of women who reportedly undergo “unsafe” abortions which are potentially fatal to the mothers.
According to CBCP News, the Pro-Life Philippines Foundation, Inc. (PPFI) has countered that induced abortion is “the deliberate termination of the life of an innocent human being and therefore, it is a crime.”
The organization also said that legal abortion is not necessary to help poor women in crisis pregnancies. It argued that if the government is serious about helping these women, it should provide counseling services for abortion-minded women and post-abortion mothers and fathers.
PPFI also advocated more education programs, maternal and child care services and economic and social development programs that would help stop “rape, incest, sex outside of marriage and other causes of unwanted pregnancies.”
Like the country’s Catholic hierarchy, the pro-life organization also lobbied Philippines lawmakers to drop legislation to legalize contraception.
“All men and women need to be educated on fetal development, the consequences of sex outside of marriage, on human sexuality, fertility and love, respect and relationships,” the group continued. “Pregnant women need support and help, not abortion. We should be saving lives, not taking them.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 11, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, thanked the members of the consecrated life living in his archdiocese for their work and described them as “bridges to God” for all they meet.
In a letter for the Day of Consecrated Life, which will be held on September 8, Cardinal Bergoglio said that without consecrated men and women, “Life would be much poorer because they are a great sign of gratitude and love in a culture that runs the risk of drowning in the whirlpool of that which is fleeting, functional, self-referential.”
“The consecrated life bears witness to and strongly proclaims that God and man mutually seek one another, that love attracts them. The consecrated person, by merely living and bearing witness to his consecration, is a bridge to God for all those who come into contact with him. He reminds them of God and points to Him.”
“The consecrated life bears witness to unconditional love that leads one to lose his own life in response to the overabundance of love that the Lord showed us first, by giving His life for us. Consequently, because of this deep awareness of being people who have been saved, you all are called especially to be witnesses of the mercy of the Lord. The consecrated life is a school of the humble recognition of poverty and of trust in the mercy of God,” the cardinal said.
Dublin, Ireland, Aug 11, 2010 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has reportedly rejected the resignations of two bishops in Ireland who submitted their letters of resignation last December following criticism in a government report of mishandling child abuse allegations.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin provided an explanation in letter to priests and other local Church officials, saying, "Following the presentation of their resignations to Pope Benedict, it has been decided that Bishop Eamonn Walsh and Bishop Raymond Field will remain as auxiliary bishops."
Bishop Walsh and Bishop Field submitted their resignations in Dec. of 2009 after the report of the Commission of Investigation into allegations of child abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin criticized them for how they addressed the issue. Over a dozen current and former bishops in Ireland have reportedly been complicit in failing to inform police about more than 170 suspected pedophiles in the priesthood from the mid-1970s to mid-1990s.
The Associated Press (AP) reported on Aug. 11 that the archbishop's letter said the two Dublin auxiliaries will be "assigned revised responsibilities within the diocese." However, the statement offered no specific information on these new duties.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi did not comment on why the two auxiliary bishops would stay in their positions nor did he confirm the rejection of the resignations. Rather, he told the AP that the Vatican only makes public announcements when resignations are accepted, not when they are rejected.
Multiple speculations on the significance of the rejections have circulated in the news, with one Irish editor commenting that the Vatican was not pleased with Archbishop Martin's public clash with predecessors and other Church authorities. The archbishop, who was appointed in 2004 amid Ireland's child abuse scandals, has been outspoken against implicated Church officials who suppressed reports of abuse and transferred abusive priests to other parishes in the U.K. and the U.S.
Gary O'Sullivan, editor of the weekly Irish Catholic newspaper in Dublin told the AP that the “Vatican were not impressed with the way Diarmuid Martin went on PrimeTime (an Irish television news program) and called on other bishops to be accountable.”
"It's not the way business is done in Rome.”
Vatican City, Aug 11, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow said the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom, will be “a moment of grace” that will “bolster” the faith of Catholics in the region.
In a pastoral letter sent last Sunday, the archbishop encouraged the faithful to enthusiastically welcome the Holy Father's visit, which is an “immense privilege” for the Archdiocese of Glasgow.
“Such visits are a rare occurrence," he continued, noting that this is "only the second of a reigning pope in the long history of our country."
“We need the presence of Simon Peter to bolster our faith and give us new courage to face the difficulties and ease the pain which the Church and each one of us must necessarily encounter in an imperfect and ever changing world,” he added.
After thanking Scottish officials for the “remarkable enthusiasm in the making of the necessary arrangements for his reception,” Archbishop Conti underscored the need to spiritual prepare for the visit. For this purpose, he said, the archdiocese will begin a special month of preparation on August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Vatican City, Aug 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict has joined himself in prayer with the Taize community as the anniversary of the death of their founder, Brother Roger, and the milestone of the community's 70th year, approach. The Pope called the founder "a pioneer" in building the unity of Christians.
Brother Roger founded the now famous community in Taize, France on Aug. 20, 1940 to assist refugees of World War II, counting on the aid of friends and his sister. They devoted themselves to tending to all people in need, a charism that members continue to carry out to this day, nearly 70 years later.
The coming anniversary will be bittersweet for the community as this month also marks the fifth anniversary of the murder of their founder, which took place on Aug. 16, 2005 during evening prayer.
The anniversary has led many Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict, to send letters to the community, communicating their greetings, congratulations and condolences.
In a letter signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy Father transmitted his sentiments to the community's current prior Brother Alois.
The Pope said that he wished to show his "spiritual closeness" and "union in prayer with the community and with everyone" who is remembering Brother Roger over these days.
"A tireless witness to the gospel of peace and reconciliation, Brother Roger was a pioneer in the difficult paths toward unity among the disciples of Christ," he recalled.
Brother Roger's community continues to welcome thousands of young people from across the globe who seek meaning in their lives, noted Cardinal Bertone, recalling how they are welcomed in prayer and allowed to experience a personal relationship with God.
And, the letter continued, "although he has entered eternal joy, he still speaks to us,"
"May his witness to an ecumenism of holiness inspire us in our march towards unity, and may your Community continue to live and to radiate his charism, especially towards the younger generations!"
The community is unique in that it welcomes any Christian, from Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox backgrounds among its ranks. On its Taize.fr website the community describes itself as "a 'parable of community' that wants its life to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples."
Concluding the letter to the community, Cardinal Bertone conferred the blessings of Benedict XVI on the Taize community and all who work with them in seeking the unity of Christ's disciples.
The community will be celebrating the double anniversary on Aug. 14.
Denver, Colo., Aug 11, 2010 (CNA) - The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), a college campus outreach program, recently added eight more universities to the number of campuses it serves. The organization now has affiliates at 50 campuses in 27 states and the District of Columbia.
Teams of four or more men and women are sent to be FOCUS missionaries at university campuses at the invitation of the local bishop and with the support of the local Newman Center or Catholic campus ministry. According to a press release from FOCUS, more than 250 missionaries will work on the 50 campuses this year.
Missionaries are typically recent college graduates and devote two or more years to reach out to their peers on a full-time basis. FOCUS says it seeks to communicate the Gospel to young adults in “a dynamic and culturally relevant way,” inviting them to a relationship with Jesus Christ and to the fullness of the Catholic Church.
The eight new campuses that will receive FOCUS teams are: Colorado School of Mines, George Washington University, Georgia Southern University, Northern Arizona University, Texas State University, the University of Kansas, Florida Gulf Coast University, and the College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Nebraska.
FOCUS founder Curtis Martin said the organization is excited to see “the increasing demand and desire for FOCUS missionaries throughout the country.”
“College students have a deep hunger for love and for the truth. Our missionaries continue to answer the call of Jesus Christ and the Church by generously offering college students the gospel and their very lives,” he continued. “God continues to open new doors of opportunity for us and provide the kind of staff we need to walk through them.”
A full list of FOCUS campuses is available at the organization’s website, located at http://www.focusonline.org
Washington D.C., Aug 11, 2010 (CNA) - A recent poll found that, while the majority of Hispanics in the United States identify as Catholics and take morally conservative stances on controversial issues, a significant gap exists between the older and younger generations on the issues of religion and morality.
The poll of 1,500 Hispanics conducted by Univision and the Associated Press (AP) analyzes the cultural attitudes in America’s Hispanic and Latino populations. The results of the poll were made public in articles in both English and Spanish.
The article in Spanish, published by Univision, focused on the fact that among Hispanics in the United States, 62 percent identify as Catholic, while 11 percent claimed no religious affiliation. Among that same demographic, 55 percent thought abortion should be illegal, while 39 percent thought that it should be legal. In regards to gay “marriage,” 35 percent thought that it should not be allowed while 31 percent were in favor of legalizing it. Univision also reported that, though a majority of Hispanics are Catholic, they are less likely to practice the faith, with only 35 percent of those surveyed attending religious services weekly.
The AP looked at a more specific breakdown, and found that the aforementioned figures were augmented by the older Hispanics. They reported that the younger generation and those who speak more English than Spanish are less likely to identify as Catholic and are less likely to oppose legalized abortion or gay “marriage.”
The English-language article summarizing the findings of the story also reported that 55 percent of young adults 18 to 29 identify as Catholics. Of the older generation, those 65 and older, 80 percent of those polled identified as Catholic. Of the younger demographic, 46 percent said that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. The study also found that 49 percent of Latinos who speak more English than Spanish are in favor of legalized abortion, a number which is comparable to the opinion of the general public.
The Pew Hispanic Center, a division of the Pew Research Center, confirmed to CNA that the Univision/AP study results are relatively similar to their December 2009 study of Hispanic youth.
Asked for further commentary on the newly released study, a spokesman explained that their policy prevents them from commenting on other research groups’ methods and findings.
In a Pew study entitled “Between Two Worlds: How Young Latinos Come of Age in America,” statistics demonstrated that the older generation was more likely to identify as Catholic and to attend church services. The survey also found that the likelihood of attending services decreased in younger generations, especially in the second and third generations born in the United States.
The Pew study also reported that “Latinos tend to be more conservative than other Americans on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage,” which correlates to the Univision/AP study’s findings. Also, “among young Latinos, there are notable differences by generation, with the foreign born and second generation more conservative than the third and higher generations.”
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Christians are asked to dedicate their lives to the Lord in the same way as the martyrs, taught Pope Benedict on Wednesday. While it may not be their vocation to literally give up their lives, he said, Christians are called to an always greater love of God and neighbor, "to transform our world."
Hosting Wednesday's audience in the interior courtyard at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father greeted the faithful in eight different languages. In his Polish greeting, he asked for "generous and efficient aid" for the victims of recent flooding in Pope John Paul II's homeland, which was already recovering from being swamped by high water levels just last spring.
During a catechesis centered on martyrdom because of the frequency of feasts for martyrs in the month of August, Pope Benedict taught that the foundation of martyrdom is really quite simple. It's based, he said, "on the death of Jesus, on his supreme sacrifice of love, consumated on the Cross so that we might have life."
It follows the same logic as that of the grain of wheat that dies and produces much fruit, said Benedict XVI. "Jesus is the grain of divine wheat, which allowed itself to fall to the earth, that allowed itself to split, to break in death and, in this way, opens itself and thus can produce fruit in the vastness of the world."
Martyrs, he explained, follow Christ completely "freely accepting to die for the salvation of the world, in a supreme proof of love," and their strength to do so comes from an intimate union with the Lord.
"If we read the lives of the martyrs, we are astonished by their serenity and courage in confronting suffering and death: the power of God is manifested fully in the weakness, in the poverty of he who entrusts himself to Him and puts his hope only in Him."
The martyr, he went on, is "a free person that in a single definitive action gives his entire life to God, and, in a supreme act of faith, hope and charity, abandons himself into the hands of his Creator and Redeemer; he sacrifices his life to be associated totally with the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross."
Put briefly, the Pope said, "martyrdom is a great act of love in response to the immense love of God."
Repeating his words from last Sunday's Angelus catechesis, he said again that while Christians are not likely to be called to martyrdom, "none of us is excluded from the divine call to holiness, to live Christian existence in a 'high' way.
"We all, especially in our times in which selfishness and individualism seem to prevail, must take on as our first and fundamental commitment that of growing every day in an ever greater love of God and our brother to transform our world," he concluded.
Vatican City, Aug 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The director of the Vatican’s website, Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz explained this week in an interview that the site is going through an extensive redesign to improve the Church's evangelization efforts.
The website can be viewed at: www.vatican.va.
In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the Argentinean priest said the Vatican’s website aims to make the Church's message known to everyone, especially because of the importance Benedict XVI has given to evangelization through the media.
He also said that soon each Vatican dicastery will have its own website and that the general site is undergoing an upgrade, “which will be a long process because vatican.va has 500,000 internal pages ...”
The restructuring efforts will focus on two goals, Msgr. Ruiz continued. First, to make the Petrine ministry more present in the digital era; and second, to increase the Vatican’s understanding of the internet, its language and its culture, in order to respond more adequately, as called for by Pope Benedict XVI in his message for World Communications Day 2010.
The Argentinean priest added that his staff will also create a new video section on the website that will include not only clips of Pope Benedict XVI, but also video footage of previous Popes. The site will also have a more extensive and complete papal documents section.
The redesign will also include a section on the diplomatic activities of the Holy See.
Msgr. Ruiz said the Vatican site receives three million visits per day, with the greatest number of visits coming from the United States, followed by Italy, Spain, Germany, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Canada, France and China.
He also noted that the site has occasionally been the target of hackers and cyber attacks, but that the staff works closely with Italian online security officials to keep a close eye on their systems.
“Like all large systems, we are an appealing target for professional hackers. We must always be on alert and continue to develop our online security,” he said.
Msgr. Ruiz said his staff includes 21 employees who are split into two groups—one that deals with the technical side, the other with content management. He explained that his staff members “are aware that they are part of one body, and this unity creates a strong synergy of not only mutual help but also of study and comprehension of the enormous mission the Church must fulfill.”