Archive of August 20, 2010

Mother superior predicted man would be Pope's physician

Vatican City, Aug 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an interview with L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI's doctor reflected on his more than 30 years as a doctor to the Popes. In various capacities, he served John Paul II and continues to serve Benedict XVI, a responsibility which at least one person foresaw he would hold.

Mario Ponzi of L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) interviewed Dr. Patrizio Polisca, director of the Vatican's health services department and the Pope's personal physician, for an article to be released on Saturday. Dr. Polisca has been the head papal physician since June 2009 and was just named the director of the Vatican's internal health department last month.

The Italian from modest beginnings recalled when he began working as a doctor in Rome in the 1970s, particularly his time with a community of Spanish religious sisters. The mother superior of the order, Mother Caridad, told him repeatedly at the time that he would one day become the Pope's personal doctor.

In 1987, that is exactly what happened as he was chosen by the papal physician at the time, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, to work in the summer rotation at Castel Gandolfo. Before long, he found himself introduced to John Paul II, an encounter which gave him goosebumps as he recalled Mother Caridad's words.

Then, in 1994, Dr. Polisca was invited to become a health officer in the Vatican's medical corps, a placement that made him "very happy," considering he never thought that he would be in that position. "I never had specific career goals," he observed, "and all that happened to me appeared to follow a precise design. Certainly not mine, although it was beautiful and it filled me with joy and new enthusiasm."

He started joining in on the longer papal trips at the invitation of Dr. Buzzonetti. He said that he still remembers every moment of the first trip he took with Pope John Paul II, the 1997 trip to Cuba. The most impressive aspect of the experience, he told LOR, was "the magnetism (the Pope) exercised over the crowds."

Of all the memories from trips, though, he said that Mass at the Cenacle during the papal visit to the Holy Land in 2000 was "unforgettable."

He went on to recount other important moments to LOR, particularly how he cared for Pope John Paul II in his final days and was on guard during the conclave that would elect Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope.

When he was named the Pope's physician in 2009, he once again was reminded of Mother Caridad's words.

These days, the physician explained that he keeps up-to-date with his profession practicing as a heart surgeon at the University Hospital of Tor Vergata in Rome and by studying when he can, especially on weekends.

Reflecting on the weight of his position, he said that he couldn't imagine his life "without the responsibility to the Pope and the Church. But, I live it as a joy, which I share with my family."

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Iraqi bishop urges peace after withdrawal of US troops

Rome, Italy, Aug 20, 2010 (CNA) - In an interview given to Vatican Radio as the last American combat brigade leaves Iraq, Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad, Shlemon Warduni explained that what the country urgently needs is peace and security which are still far from being achieved.

The prelate said, "it's very difficult to live in a place where there is no law, where there's no government. Iraq is without government, it's lawless. How can you live in a place like that?”

He continued, “First you need a stable government, a law that governs the country because now the terrorists come and go as they please. There is no work, (but) there are car bombs, kamikaze attacks and other manifestations of violence."

"If foreign troops leave, they have a duty to leave peace and security behind them. Today we are seeing the negative results of the war. … As the deceased Pope John Paul II said and Benedict XVI says, war destroys everything and doesn't do any good.

“We ask all men of good faith to cooperate with conscience, this conscience that puts God at the center and not personal matters or personal interests. We desire, we ask, we scream for peace and security!"

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Rejection of gay adoption is not a matter of tolerance, asserts Mexican archbishop

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 20, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia, Mexico explained this week that the adoption of children by gay couples is not an issue of tolerance but rather a concern over legitimizing something that “goes against nature itself.”

Amidst widespread rejection of the Mexican Supreme Court’s ruling to allow gay adoptions, the archbishop explained, “It's one thing to tolerate conduct contrary to what is commonly accepted; it's another to want to legitimize that which goes against nature itself.”

“I know many cases of children and young people who are deprived of a father or a mother ... because of this, they have a great emptiness and are sometimes traumatized for life,” Archbishop Suarez added, underscoring that the country’s traditions and cultures need to be respected.

“It is unjust to arbitrarily step all over the foundation of our society,” he continued. “The nucleus or cell of our social fabric has been the family made up of man, woman and their biological or adopted children.”

“These issues must be analyzed and discussed in high-level academic and inter-disciplinary forums.  Authorities must not take certain positions due to pressure or without sufficient reasoning and wide consultation with the people,” the archbishop said.

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Cardinal George announces Vatican approval of new Roman Missal

Washington D.C., Aug 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The new English-language translation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition has received Vatican approval and will be implemented on the first Sunday of Advent 2011, Cardinal Francis George has announced. One bishop said the new text will enable the “ongoing renewal” of the liturgy in parishes.

Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), announced the Vatican’s approval in an August 20 letter to the U.S. bishops. According to a Friday press release from the USCCB, he issued a proclamation that the use of the third edition of the Roman Missal will begin in U.S. dioceses on Nov. 27, 2011.

“From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America,” the proclamation reads.

“We can now move forward and continue with our important catechetical efforts as we prepare the text for publication,” the cardinal commented.

The date of implementation was chosen to allow publishers time to prepare texts and to allow parishes and dioceses time to educate parishioners.

The approval of the Missal was accompanied by a June 23 letter from Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The Congregation also provided guidelines for publication.

“I am happy that after years of preparation, we now have a text that, when introduced late next year, will enable the ongoing renewal of the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in our parishes,” remarked Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship.

Staff of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship will prepare the text of the missal for publication and will collaborate with the staff of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

ICEL has been preparing the chant settings of the Missal texts for use in the celebration of the Mass, the USCCB reported.

Before the new text is first used, pastors are urged to prepare parishioners with previously released resources and with newly released ones. Resources listed by the USCCB include “Parish Guide for the Implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition” and “Become One Body, One Spirit in Christ,”  a multimedia DVD resource produced by ICEL in collaboration with Anglophone bishops’ conferences.

“A great effort to produce the new Roman Missal for the United States, along with the other necessary resources, has begun,” commented Msgr. Anthony Sherman, director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Divine Worship. “Even as that work is underway a full-scale catechesis about the Liturgy and the new Roman Missal should be taking place in parishes, so that when the time comes, everyone will be ready.”

On July 24 the Vatican also approved several adaptations to the Missal, including additional prayers for the Penitential Act at Mass and at the Renewal of Baptismal Promises on Easter Sunday. It also approved the texts of prayers for days specific to the U.S. such as Thanksgiving, Independence Day and the feasts of saints such as Damien of Molokai, Katharine Drexel and Elizabeth Ann Seton.

In addition, the Mass for Giving Thanks to God for the Gift of Human Life was approved by the Vatican. This Mass can be celebrated on January 22, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which mandated legal abortion nationwide.

Resources to prepare for the Roman Missal’s implementation are available at the U.S. bishops’ website at

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Brazilian presidential candidate: Abortion should be available to women 'in despair'

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug 20, 2010 (CNA) - During a debate on Wednesday, Dilma Roussef, the presidential candidate of the Workers’ Party, said she is “personally” against abortion but that it should be available to women in desperate situations.

When the debate turned to the topic of abortion, Roussef was asked whether or not she would support it if elected.

She explained that in Brazil, abortion is permitted in cases of rape or in order to save the life of the mother. Explaining her belief that the procedure is a question of “public health,” she said it should be available to women, especially the poorest who resort to it “in desperation.” 

“I don't think there is a single woman in favor of abortion. These are situations in which women resort to it in despair,” she added.

“Personally I do not support abortion, but I believe that Brazil has to have a public health policy that allows women and their children to be protected.” In certain circumstances, she must “resort to abortion in order to protect her children from the loss of their mother,” Roussef added.

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Ruling forces last Catholic adoption agency in England and Wales to cease adoptions

London, England, Aug 20, 2010 (CNA) - The suppression of Catholic institutions in the U.K. continues as the only remaining Catholic adoption agency in England and Wales has lost a battle to continue its services. A commission ruled the agency’s religious views did not justify its refusal to place children with homosexual couples.

Catholic Care, the social care organization of the Diocese of Leeds, had applied to amend its legal charitable objects to allow it to continue adoption work in accordance with Catholic teaching. The Charity Commission for England and Wales refused the application, claiming that Catholic Care’s reasons did not meet the necessary threshold for an exemption from sexual orientation discrimination laws.

The charity places children only with married heterosexual couples.

“In certain circumstances, it is not against the law for charities to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation,” commented Andrew Hind, chief executive of the Charity Commission. “However, because the prohibition on such discrimination is a fundamental principle of human rights law, such discrimination can only be permitted in the most compelling circumstances.”

A Catholic Care spokesperson said the charity is “very disappointed” with the outcome.

“Catholic Care will now consider whether there is any other way in which the Charity can continue to support families seeking to adopt children in need,” the spokesperson commented in a Wednesday statement.

The agency said it will seek to register as an adoption support agency to support adoptive parents already approved by Catholic Care and to serve those who were adopted in the past and are now seeking information about their background.

Catholic Care has been providing adoption services for over 100 years and has served hundreds of families in that area. It still provides school counseling, residential care for children, and support for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems.

While eleven Catholic adoption agencies were in operation in 2007, Catholic Care is the only one remaining which has not closed or renounced its religious identity. Sexual orientation regulations passed by the Labour government prompted the action.

The Christian Institute said the charity commission’s ruling comes amid “increasing concern” among many Christians that their rights and liberties are “often trampled on by homosexual ‘rights’.”

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Atlanta church named basilica, Archbishop Gregory to celebrate elevation Mass

Atlanta, Ga., Aug 20, 2010 (CNA) - The Vatican has designated downtown Atlanta’s Sacred Heart Church the first Catholic basilica in Georgia. The Archbishop of Atlanta will celebrate a special Mass of elevation to mark the event at the church, which ministered to mission territory only a century ago.

The church, designed in a French Romanesque style by architect W.T. Downing, was dedicated in 1898. At the time, the Marist Fathers cared for the parish, which included all of North Atlanta and 9,500 square miles of mission territory.

“When our church was built in 1898, no sacrifice was too great and no effort was spared to make sure that this remarkably beautiful sanctuary would continue to honor God and inspire generations of worshippers,” commented parish pastor Fr. T.J. Meehan in a press release from the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

The parish has grown from 700 to 1,300 households in the last five years.

Archbishop of Atlanta Wilton D. Gregory will celebrate a Mass of elevation on August 21 at 10 a.m. The date coincides with the 130th anniversary of the parish’s founding in 1880.

The designation of a basilica specially honors important churches. The word “basilica” comes from the Greek word for “royal hall.” While the title of major basilica is reserved for the great Roman churches, the title of minor basilica recognizes important churches in Rome and abroad.

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Archdiocesan spokesman accuses Mexico City mayor of causing more harm than drug cartels

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 20, 2010 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Father Hugo Valdemar, has refused to retract his statement that the city's mayor, Marcelo Ebrard, has done more harm to the Mexican capital than the drug cartels. The priest also claimed that the lawsuit Ebrard filed against him is evidence of the mayor’s “fascist” actions.

In an interview with the Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news service, Fr. Valdemar said the law on abortion in the Mexican capital, supported by Ebrard and passed by the Legislative Assembly in 2007, is a sign of the harm he has caused the city.

“Ever since the criminal law on abortion was passed,” more than 42,000 innocent human beings have been killed in Mexico City, he said. “This is double the number that have died in the war against the drug cartels, and yet these crimes are even worse, because the children killed are unable to defend themselves.”

Fr. Valdemar said the lawsuit filed against him by Ebrard has revealed the mayor's true nature as an “intolerant governor with great hatred for the Catholic Church, her pastors” and that he is “consumed by vengeance.”

On Wednesday, the mayor filed a defamation lawsuit against Fr. Valdemar as well as Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez for accusing Ebrard of bribing the country's Supreme Court justices to allow the adoption of children by same-sex couples.

Fr. Valdemar added that Catholics in Mexico City are enduring a sophisticated religious persecution that is aimed at repressing freedom of expression. “Ebrard has made public his fascist style of governing and his undeniable desire to persecute the Catholic Church,” the priest said, underscoring that the governor is acting like another “Francisco Franco or Augusto Pinochet.”

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Archbishop Nichols hopes Pope's visit will renew appreciation of faith

Westminster, England, Aug 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

"We hope that the illuminating presence of Benedict XVI might help many in our lands to understand that faith in God is not a problem to resolve, but a gift to rediscover," wrote the head of the bishops of England and Wales on Friday. Several key moments during the Pope's visit will offer a platform for him to emphasize the importance of bringing God into public life, the archbishop explained.

With less than a month to go before Pope Benedict XVI's Sept. 16-19 state visit to the U.K., the Primate of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, reflected on some important moments of the trip and their significance.

His comments on the "historic event" were published in Friday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano newspaper and come shortly after the Vatican released the official schedule for the papal visit.

The first event on the schedule, the Pope's visit to the Queen of England at her summer residence, "marks a new phase" in relations between the two sides, Archbishop Nichols said. They will have much to speak about, he observed, pointing to their shared concern "for the well-being of the peoples of the world, for the role and value of Christian teaching and the importance of having stable institutions for the benefit of society."

These interests will be seen as themes of different encounters throughout the trip. During the Pope's meeting with representatives of Catholic schools on the second day of the visit, for example, he will have the chance to emphasize the importance of religious education to society.

Turning to the meeting with business leaders afterwards, Archbishop Nichols said that the Pope will speak about "the importance of God as a formative and inspirational guide for the common good."

And that afternoon, noted the archbishop, the Pope's encounter with leaders of civil society in Westminster Hall will have "great resonance, not only for its historic value" as the place where St. Thomas More was condemned to death for his refusal to compromise his beliefs, "but also for its actuality."

Commenting on the subject of the final major event on the schedule, the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, Archbishop Nichols said that Cardinal Newman was a "man that understood how mind and heart should go hand in hand in the great enterprises of life, the greatest of which is the search for God and the salvific relationship with Him."

The archbishop summarized the expectations for the U.K. visit, saying, "We hope that the illuminating presence of Benedict XVI might help many in our lands to understand that the faith in God is not a problem to resolve, be a gift to rediscover."

Noting that the faith has become something to be hidden for many people in the U.K. today, he observed, "the reality is very different: faith in God brings great riches and joy to men. He is the liberation and the guide that we seek, motive for inspiration and perseverance, source of forgiveness and compassion."

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Construction of cathedral named for Mother Teresa to be featured in documentary

Konigstein, Germany, Aug 20, 2010 (CNA) - As the 100th anniversary of Bl. Mother Teresa’s birth approaches, the Catholic Radio and Television Network (CRTN) has produced a documentary about the construction of a new cathedral being built in Kosovo to be named for the famous Missionary of Charity.

The Cathedral of Mother Teresa is being built in Prishtina, Kosovo with the support of the pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The documentary about the project, titled “On New Foundations,” will include interviews with the local bishop, politicians and Muslims. It explores the plans for the new cathedral and the place of Catholics in the culture of Kosovo, as well as Mother Teresa’s own roots in the region. CRTN is producing the documentary in cooperation with its Bosnian partner, MC Media.

An excerpt of the documentary, posted on YouTube, shows the father of a Catholic family in Kosovo reminding his family to contribute money to the cathedral fund.

As a special service to television producers and others involved in Catholic media, CRTN has also created a directory for resources about Mother Teresa.

Those who have produced media resources about the saintly woman may upload information on their production to a special section of the CRTN website.

Registration on the CRTN website is required.

At present, resources listed in the CRTN directory include Mother Teresa’s speech at World Youth Day in 1984, a miniseries about her life and ministry, a documentary about her death and state funeral, and Petrie Productions’ Emmy award-winning film “Mother Teresa.”

Mother Teresa was born to Albanian parents in Skopje, Macedonia on August 26, 1910. She worked in the slums of Calcutta in India until her death in 1997. She received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the sick and the poor and was beatified by the Vatican in 2003.

In a letter to media producers, CRTN noted that media attention to the anniversary of her birth is growing.

According to its website, CRTN has had the backing of Aid to the Church in Need. The network aims to present to Christians and non-Christians the different expressions of Christianity through documentaries, dramas and catechetical programming.

Its website is

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