Archive of August 13, 2010

Catholic Education prefect: Only universities with strong Catholic identity will last

Vatican City, Aug 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - "Only the Catholic university that conserves its identity will have a future," said the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education just days before the 20th anniversary of John Paul II's document “Ex Corde Ecclesiae.” Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, in speaking about the continued relevance of the document on Catholic higher education, explained that if a Catholic university loses its identity, it becomes just like any other.

The Apostolic Constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” which established guidelines for the functioning of Catholic universities, was presented by Pope John Paul II 20 years ago this Sunday. Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, spoke with CNA about the importance of the document on Friday.

According to Cardinal Grocholewski, two motivations led John Paul II to write the document. The first was the "importance" that he attributed to the Catholic university, which, he said, the Pope himself explains best at the end of the document in an exhortation for Catholic witness. The second reason, the prefect pointed out, was that John Paul II believed it was necessary to create legislation outlining the nature and mission of Catholic universities, while giving them juridical norms for their creation and the composition of their faculty.

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“Ex Corde Ecclesiae” has produced "great results," he said, most of all we can see this in the foundation of so many Catholic universities "with a clear disposition" since its publication in 1990.

Citing the creation of more than 250 Catholic universities during Pope John Paul II's pontificate, he said, "many of these have had a guideline from the very beginning, a clear vision of what a Catholic university should be."

This has been especially significant in African and ex-Communist countries, he explained.

"I think that many universities, also based on this document, have strengthened their identities, which is very important," he added.

Fidelity to the Magisterium

CNA asked the cardinal about certain challenges that have come up in the course of applying norms for John Paul II's ideal for the Catholic university, such as the need for a "mandatum," a statement from the local bishop that assures theologians are in communion with the Church's teachings.

The cardinal prefect said that this is a question of methodology as with any other field of study. He explained that "to be a theologian, one must believe in the Sacred Scriptures and Tradition and must be united to the Magisterium (teaching) of the Church."

"It is a rather risky assumption if a single person wishes to be more important than the Magisterium of the Church," he remarked.

Catholic Identity

When asked about the requirement for Catholic institutions of higher learning to promote their Catholic identity, even with non-Catholic faculty members, the cardinal replied that all professors have a "responsibility" in this sense to the Church, and before science and the world.

"In the Catholic university people who are not Catholic can also teach, but they are obligated to respect the Catholic identity."

Reflecting on the application of the Apostolic Constitution today, Cardinal Grocholewski said that it remains "current everywhere." He considers it to be an "stupendous" document that "gives spirit to the Catholic university."

To the cardinal, "the Catholic university that conserves its own identity, as was delineated in Ex Corde, truly has a future and will contribute to the good of society," while seeking to be an interlocutor between cultures and a force for progress.

Stressing the importance of Catholic schools retaining their roots, the cardinal said that "if the Catholic university loses its identity, it's similar to all the other universities, practically it becomes less significant and this is a big challenge, or a big problem."

He noted that his congregation has received protests from people who attended Catholic universities, who have said that the education being offered was not in line with Church teaching. They have said that if the institution does not offer a Catholic education while claiming to be Catholic, it is "hypocritical and lying."

"I think they are right," said the cardinal prefect," and the same goes for Catholic grade schools, he said.

"I think that only the Catholic university that conserves its identity will have a future."

“Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” he said, "does not demand a 'grand reform,' the document is current, it is a very realistic approach, and in itself it has a great dynamism to make the Catholic university important in today's world ... where, as we know there is a cultural and moral relativism that creates so much damage."

What is needed in the modern context of permissibility and relativity, he said, is "the Catholic university that defends the truth, the objective truth."

The Model Catholic University

There is no specific model Catholic university in the world, noted Cardinal Grocholewski. Universities should not compare themselves to each other, he also advised, "rather they should turn to the document which is fundamental for the Catholic university, which is 'Ex Corde Ecclesiae'.”

"There," he said, "the ideal of the Catholic university is outlined, and I think that studying this document is much more productive" than looking to the "diverse realities" of other universities for direction.

Asked about Pope Benedict XVI's perspective on Catholic education today, the cardinal prefect said he is "a great enthusiast of the Catholic university. He practically rejoices when he sees that the Catholic university, (as) it progresses, preserves its identity ..."

The current Pope, he said, has encouraged him to continue "to fight for the Catholic university."

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Church in India remembers Christian martyrs

Rome, Italy, Aug 13, 2010 (CNA) - On August 29, Christians in India will celebrate the “Day of the Indian Martyrs” to remember those who died for the faith and the Gospel. Speaking about the event, the president of the Indian bishops’ Committee on Ecumenism, Bishop Anil Couto, recalled that they are “making an effort to remember those who died in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Couto told Vatican Radio, “Martyrdom is the highest expression of love. Celebrating this day does not mean canonizing a saint but rather recalling the sacrifice of bearing testimony to Christ.”

“The courageous life of the martyrs is the heritage of the Church and we want to preserve it for future generations. This has value not only for the Catholic Church but also for all of the churches and ecclesial communities,” said Bishop Cuoto.

Father Pushpa Anbu, director of the Secretariat for Ecumenism of the Bishops of India, added, “We need to recall the importance of those who have sacrificed their own lives for the faith in every Christian denomination. In the past, similar initiatives have brought our people closer to Christ. We hope and pray that such efforts will be made in all the churches and communities of India,” he concluded.

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Assumption of Mary anticipates our glorification, bishop affirms

Madrid, Spain, Aug 13, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Antonio Ceballos Atienza of Cadiz and Ceuta recently published a pastoral letter encouraging the faithful to live with hope, keeping in mind that the Assumption of Mary is a demonstration of God’s infinite goodness as well as an anticipation of our glorification.

Mindful of the upcoming feast of the Assumption, the bishop’s letter affirmed that just as Mary was, “we will be glorified in body and soul because … we are members of the same body of which her Son is the head. He has been glorified and made it so his mother can participate in his glory. Thus, we all live in the faith that we will one day be glorified.”

In this sense, the prelate explained, at that moment, “all of humanity and creation will be definitively redeemed from death despite “condemnation, slavery and imperfections.”

“We will be liberated from all bondage and especially from sin and death so that we can participate with the Lord and his mother in the definitive beatitude in body and soul in glory,” he continued.

Therefore, he said, “Live in hope. And in hope, we are guided to put ourselves on the path which leads us to the goal of following in the footsteps of the Lord and his mother Mary, who is our mother.” 

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Bishop urges continued prayers for trapped miners in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Aug 13, 2010 (CNA) -

Bishop Horacio Valenzuela of Talca is calling for prayers each day at noon for the 33 miners who have been trapped for a week in the San Jose mine in Chile.

The bishop asked the faithful to pray an Our Father and a Hail Mary at noon each day to show spiritual solidarity with the miners, their friends and family members.

“May God allow something good to come from our suffering,” the bishop said. “For this reason, this intense sorrow over the miners is an occasion for us to unite as a country and be strong for them,” he continued, adding that the true riches associated with the cooper mine are the miners who work there.

“Prayer is always an opportunity to unite as a country, and no doubt the results will always be better.  I invite you to prayer wherever you are: at work, at school, on the bus, at home.  Thanks to this the families of the miners will not be alone in their suffering,” he said.

Bishop Valenzuela added that the accident should lead to a review of the safety and security measures that are in place.

Chile’s Minister for Mining, Laurance Golborne, said the chances of finding the trapped miners alive are minimal.

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Castel Gandolfo parish prepares for Pope's Mass on Sunday

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 13, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Early on Sunday morning the Holy Father will walk out of the gates of his summer villa to celebrate Mass at the local pontifical parish in Castel Gandolfo. The Pope has celebrated Mass at the parish of St. Thomas of Villanova every Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, since his election to the papacy in 2005.

Fr. Waldemar Niedziolka, the parish priest and resident director of the Salesians of Don Bosco community, told CNA that the church will be full to its 200-person capacity when the Holy Father arrives at 8 a.m. for the Eucharistic Celebration.

Fr. Niedziolka said that the Mass will take place in an intimate atmosphere to which the parish choir will contribute.

Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, a member of the Salesian order, will be there to concelebrate along with local Bishop Marcello Semeraro and the major rector of Don Bosco's order, Fr. Pascual Chavez, in addition to Fr. Niedziolka himself.

As it is a parish Mass, said Fr. Niedziolka, the majority of the attendees will be members of St. Thomas of Villanova, including those chosen to participate in the liturgy. For example, he said, a family, a couple celebrating 25 years of marriage, two newly-confirmed young people and a pair of first communicants will deliver the gifts to the Holy Father at the offertory.

Also attending will be civil, military and religious authorities from the area, including representatives from the Sisters of St. Martha and a Filipino teaching order.

Only a small fraction of the 4,000 members of the parish will be inside the church for the celebration, but a big screen placed in the square will allow those who remain outside to follow the Mass as it takes place. They will also enjoy the possibility of greeting the Pope as he makes his way back to his summer residence to recite the Angelus at noon.

This year's Mass, Fr. Niedziolka concluded, will not be unlike those of past years, but next year, he noted, with the 50th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's ordination to the priesthood and the completion of restoration efforts in the church, the parish will be putting together "something special."

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Former Buffalo parishioners to visit church's relocation site in Georgia

Atlanta, Ga., Aug 13, 2010 (CNA) - Former parishioners from Buffalo, New York will travel to Georgia to visit the site where their closed church building will begin serving a new congregation. A Catholic parish in the Atlanta area is relocating the historic church building over a distance of 900 miles.

Nineteen former parishioners from the Church of St. Gerard will travel to Mary Our Queen Parish in Norcross, Georgia to visit their 99-year-old church’s planned new home. The church was closed in 2008 due to declining membership.

The church is modeled after the famous Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. While reproducing a similar church from scratch would cost an estimated $40 million, relocating the Buffalo church building is expected to cost only $15 million.

Fr. Francis X. “Butch” Mazur, the last pastor of St. Gerard’s, will lead the pilgrimage, a press release from Mary Our Queen Parish reports. He and his parishioners will present a crucifix of St. Gerard’s to the Georgia parish.

The crucifix joins a 7.5 foot, 1,600 pound statue of St. Gerard and a stone Paschal Candle stand, delivered to Mary Our Queen at Easter.

Fr. David Dye and the Georgia parish will welcome the Buffalo parishioners with dinner and a reception on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 21. Buffalo residents in the Atlanta area are also invited to attend.

A Mass will be held on Sunday, Aug. 22 at 11 a.m., followed by a 12:30 p.m. reception. At the Mass, former St. Gerard’s parishioners will adorn the altar and will bring up the water and wine for the offertory.

A website about the relocation effort is at

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New law requires Catholic diocese to cover contraception under employee insurance

Madison, Wis., Aug 13, 2010 (CNA) - The Catholic Diocese of Madison is one of three dioceses in Wisconsin required under a new state law to provide coverage for contraception in insurance plans for diocesan employees.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the new law which took effect in January requires all commercial insurance policies with drug benefits to cover prescription contraceptives, with self-insured policies  being exempt. When the law was passed, three of the five Wisconsin dioceses - Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay - were affected.

Because the law allows employers to honor their current insurance contracts until they expire, the Diocese of Madison had until Aug. 1 to make a decision. Brent King, spokesman for the Madison Diocese, said that a self-insured plan was not financially possible.

Although the diocese's commercial insurance policy now covers contraception, employees will be expected to act according to their consciences and not use it, King explained. "If someone were to misuse that freedom in this regard, it could be grounds for termination,” he told the Wisconsin State Journal.

However, he added, such action would only be taken after the employee refused to cooperate after the matter was discussed. "It wouldn't be the first thing we do," King said. 

Speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, King noted that "Our employees know what church teaching is. And we trust them to use their conscience and do the right thing.”

"Conscience isn't what I want or think is best in a situation," he said. "It must always align with the will of God."

All Diocese of Madison employees are required to sign a document upon being hired to follow the laws of both Wisconsin and the Church. King said that employees would be given “strong pastoral recommendations against” using birth control coverage, but that the diocese will not monitor employees.

Due to medical privacy laws, the diocese would only know if an employee was using the contraception coverage if he or she made it apparent "in an overt and publicly defiant way."

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DC basilica to host concert featuring new works of sacred music

Washington D.C., Aug 13, 2010 (CNA) - A new variant of the Ave Maria and six award-winning works of sacred music will be performed in a free concert at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception this coming Saturday.

The concert, sponsored by the Foundation for Sacred Arts, will take place in the Basilica’s Crypt Church on August 14 at 7:30 p.m. Three Masses written for the forthcoming English translation of the Roman Missal will be performed, as will three non-liturgical sacred works.

Six of the works won the 2010 International Sacred Music Competition for Composers. Entrants were required to write works in the Catholic traditions of Gregorian chant and polyphony and were judged on both their originality and their historical connections.

The Foundation for Sacred Arts explained to CNA that the winning works “sound both refreshingly new while being comfortingly familiar.”

Performing the pieces will be the Choir Basilica under the direction of Peter Latona. The composers, who are from around the United States, will attend the premieres and will be available for conversation after the concert.

The Foundation for Sacred Arts said it “eagerly” invites attendees to “what will doubtless be a historical evening, and hopes that you will be among the first to hear seven beautiful new contributions to the Catholic musical tradition.”

The Foundation’s website is at

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Church in Colombia rejects terrorist attack outside radio station

Bogotá, Colombia, Aug 13, 2010 (CNA) - The bishops of  Colombia denounced a terrorist attack outside the Caracol Radio building this week in Bogota, which left 18 people wounded and caused extensive damage. They also reiterated their call for an end to violence and for dialogue as the path to peace.

On Thursday morning a car bomb exploded outside Caracol Radio.  The station said it believed FARC was behind the attack.  Local police have so far detained five suspects.

On the same day, the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia announced the 2010 Week for Peace, which will take place in September, but Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba Villota said, those behind the attack do not seem to want peace. The prelate invited members of FARC to embrace conversion.

“We invite them to change their hearts of stone for hearts of flesh; their hearts of hatred for hearts of love, their hearts of violence for hearts of forgiveness, reconciliation and reparation,” the bishop said.

Bishop Hector Fabio Henao Gaviria, the director of the National Secretariat for Social Ministry, called the incident “an act of terror” that was intended to have an impact on the public. However, in reality it reveals the incapacity of many in society to engage in a dialogue for peace, he said.

“We resolve our differences through dialogue and discussion, not through acts of terror,” Bishop Henao stated.

Father Dario Echeverri Gonzalez, the general secretary of the National Reconciliation Commission, called the incident “sad and troubling, but something that must become an incentive for those of us convinced that the endeavor of peace is more productive.”

“Let us decisively oppose those who think that the path of violence and war is the most productive,” he added.

Father Echeverri called on all Colombians to work for peace so that “the country will see that those of us on the team for peace constitute the majority.  I think this is very effective.”

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