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Archive of August 24, 2010

Bishops of Chile 'thank God' for keeping miners safe

Santiago, Chile, Aug 24, 2010 (CNA) - Last Sunday, the Chilean bishops' conference rejoiced upon hearing that the 33 miners trapped in a collapsed copper mine since August 5 are alive and in good spirits.

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic, released a statement shortly after hearing the news. He noted that “the lives of the 33 miners in Atacama ... should fill us with hope. We share in the joy of so many brothers and sisters in Chile and throughout the world who rejoice at this triumph of life.”

Bishop Goic added that “we thank God because his love is made present through creation in marvelous ways.”

The bishop thanked the Chilean faithful for their prayers for the successful rescue of the miners. He noted that the incident should be used constructively to improve safety regulations for those who work under dangerous conditions.

Addressing the miners, who will be receiving food and water through plastic pipes that have been inserted into the chamber, Bishop Goic said Chileans offer them their “closeness and assurance of our prayers that the Divine Spirit strengthen them at this time.”

“And we ask all those who believe in Christ to continue praying to the Father of kindness in the coming days so that the rescue operations will end in success,” the bishop said.

According to the Associated Press, it will likely take four months for the miners to be rescued.

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Church’s position on gay adoption remains firm, asserts archdiocese

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 24, 2010 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Father Hugo Valdemar, clarified this week that recent statements by the archdiocese's assistant director for radio and television did not reveal conflict within the Church regarding homosexual adoption.

In an interview with CNA , Fr. Valdemar explained that the remarks by Fr. Jose de Jesus Aguilar Valdes, assistant director for radio and television, “in no way imply the withdrawal of support for Cardinal Sandoval. The Archdiocese of Mexico City continues firm in its position of his defense as has the entire Mexican episcopate.”

Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara made headlines recently for accusing the mayor of Mexico City of bribing the country's Supreme Court justices to rule in favor of same-sex marriage and gay adoption. The mayor has since filed a defamation suit against the cardinal.

Fr. Valdemar added that Fr. Aguilar's comments were distorted by the media.

The Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news service published an interview this week, clarifying that in Fr. Aguilar's previous comments, he discussed “the Church’s position on marriage between a man and a woman …  and the importance that the family be based on a father and a mother.” The priest added that the Catholic Church “does not reject homosexuals, but  invites them to seek salvation.”

In the latest interview, Fr. Aguilar criticized the media for deliberately “taking my ideas out of context or changing some of my words in order to cause a scandal from something I did not say.” Only a few in the media have “acted with objectivity and have made an effort to give context to the Church’s rejection of adoption by same-sex couples.”

He rejected claims that he suggested the Archdiocese of Mexico City supports gay adoption. Fr. Aguilar explained that he had previously mentioned to the media a case in which he “met a homosexual person who raised a child.  He never expressed his sexual preferences to the child and was never in relationship while he raised him.

“I mentioned that he adopted him under the old laws and as a single person,” however “this anecdote was taken out of context.”

“I was quoted as saying I knew numerous gay couples who raised children who came out fine.  This is false,” the priest said.

Fr. Aguilar emphasized that there is no disagreement between the Archdiocese of Mexico City and Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez. “Both Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera as well as the bishops of the Mexican episcopate have expressed solidarity with the Archbishop of Guadalajara in his vital defense of life and family values,” Father Aguilar said.

“For my part I am faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and her shepherds,” he continued.  “The Church loves homosexuals and offers all the means for them to achieve salvation.  I regret that the Church’s charity is being misinterpreted with the passage of laws that contravene the ideal of the family,” the priest said.

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Mother of Cuban dissident thanks Church for stepping in to end government harassment

Havana, Cuba, Aug 24, 2010 (CNA) - Last Sunday, Reina Luisa Tamayo, the mother of deceased political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, thanked the Church in Cuba for its efforts in ending the harassment she had been suffering at the hands of the country's government.

Tamayo's son died in February after an 85 day-long hunger strike.

Speaking with the AFP,  Tamayo said, “I thank the world and the Cuban Church who raised their voices to reject the harassment of this mother.”

She said she was able to march through the town of Banes on Sunday and place flowers on her son’s grave without any problems. “Lord willing this will be the end of the harassment,” she added.

On various occasions, Tamayo charged that Cuban officials would not let her attend Mass or go to the cemetery with other dissidents. She also said that government supporters harassed her during the marches she would regularly organize in memory of her son.

The harassment was denounced by various activists, including Oswaldo Paya, the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, and by other international groups. Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana met with family members of political prisoners last Friday and assured them he would do everything possible to end the harassment.

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Mexican archdiocese praises respect for freedom of expression shown by Electoral institute

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 24, 2010 (CNA) - In a statement released Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Mexico City praised the country's Federal Electoral Institute for rejecting an injunction requested by the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). The injunction would have prohibited the Catholic Church and her members from exercising legitimate freedom of expression, the archdiocese said.

The archdiocese commended the institute for “ignoring the dictatorial and repressive measures that the PRD wished to impose on Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez and Father Hugo Valdemar Romero.” The statement added that the injunction “would have been to the detriment of tolerance, plurality and democracy in Mexico.”

Cardinal Sandoval and Fr. Valdemar were recently sued by the Mayor of Mexico City Marcelo Ebrard for defamation. Ebrard is a member of the Democratic Revolution Party.

“The right to information and freedom of expression are the maximum ideal of a free, participative and modern society in which authoritarian attitudes like those expressed by the PRD should never exist and are intended to subjugate citizens and deprive them of their fundamental rights,” the statement concluded.

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Joblessness is a ‘pervasive failure’ of US economy, Catholic bishop says

Washington D.C., Aug 24, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In anticipation of Labor Day, Bishop William Murphy has lamented joblessness as a “pervasive” economic failure which deprives workers of a key source of self-support and fulfillment. He called for a new “social contract” to honor work, to provide more jobs, to strengthen families and to secure just wages for workers.

The Bishop of Rockville Centre, New York, Murphy chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development. The bishop issued the statement in his role as committee chair.

“Many millions are jobless or have a family member or friend who is among the fifteen million unemployed or the additional eleven million workers who only can find part time work,” Bishop Murphy commented. “Far too many have been unemployed for months, some even years. This is a pervasive failure of our economy today.”

The bishop called work “one of the major avenues for self-expression and self-fulfillment,” noting how work allows us “to care for ourselves and those we love and to contribute to the wider society.”

Bishop Murphy then quoted Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Caritas in Veritate,” which highlighted how unemployment and prolonged dependence on public or private assistance “undermines the freedom and creativity of the person and his family and social relationships, causing great psychological and spiritual suffering.”

Previous teachers of Catholic social thought are also relevant to the contemporary situation, Bishop Murphy explained.

For instance, Pope Leo XIII “insisted on the value and dignity of the worker as a human being endowed with rights and responsibilities. He commended free association or unions as legitimate and he insisted on a family wage that corresponded to the needs of the worker and family.”

Bishop Murphy also underscored that the past year has been “difficult” for many workers. He pointed to the “heart-rending” stories of workers who died on the job, such as the 29 men who died in a West Virginia mine collapse or the 11 men who died when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.

Along with the economic effects of the Gulf oil spill, the country is continuing to change. “America is undergoing a rare economic transformation, shedding jobs and testing safety nets as the nation searches for new ways to govern and grow our economy,” said Bishop Murphy.

He added that workers need a new “social contract” and must have “a real voice and effective protections in economic life.” The bishop said that the rewards and security offered to workers do not reflect “the global economy.”

“A new social contract, which begins by honoring work and workers, must be forged that ultimately focuses on the common good of the entire human family,” the bishop continued.

“The market, the state, and civil society, unions and employers all have roles to play and they must be exercised in creative and fruitful interrelationships. Private action and public policies that strengthen families and reduce poverty are needed.”

Bishop Murphy said new jobs with “just wages and benefits” must be created so that all workers can “express their dignity through the dignity of work” and can fulfill their vocation to be “co-creators” with God.

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Obama's change message contradicts his decisions, says Italian analyst

Rome, Italy, Aug 24, 2010 (CNA) - Following controversial remarks that President Obama made about a planned mosque and Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York City,  noted Vatican analyst and author Sandro Magister explored the wider vision of the American president in relation to faith, calling the U.S leader a “contradiction.”

President Obama drew large amounts of criticism from citizens around the country as well as politicians from both parties after he told a gathering of Muslims at the White House on Aug. 13 that “Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.” In the president's words, this “includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”

Amid a media firestorm the following day, however, the president appeared to contradict himself, saying, “I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right that people have that dates back to our founding.”

“Obama's critics have had a field day playing up this wavering in judgment,” wrote Magister on Monday. “Which is only the latest in a long series, and also makes judgment about him uncertain.”

In an Aug. 23 piece titled, “There's a Strange Prophet in the White House,” Magister used the president's recent remarks to analyze what he views as a deeper, more troubling contradiction in his rhetoric.

“Obama is an enigma for the Catholic Church as well,” Magister said on his Chiesa section of the Italian paper L'Espresso, adding that the president has been for Catholic leaders “the subject of enthusiastic judgments and inexorable condemnation.”

The Vatican analyst then addressed what he sees as a “glaring example” of President Obama's contradictions when it comes to faith, saying that the U.S. leader has cited 20th century Protestant theologian Reinhold Neibuhr as his inspiration.

Niebuhr, Magister explained, was “a great admirer and interpreter of Saint Augustine” who maintained “the primacy of national interest and the balance of power, in a humanity profoundly marked by evil.”

The Protestant theologian also “defined democracy as 'a search for temporary solutions to unsolvable problems,'” Magister said, noting that “his famous prayer says, 'God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.'”

“The exact opposite, therefore, of the messianic rhetoric that pervades Obama's speeches, of his continual proclamation of the advent of a 'new era,' of a 'new beginning,' of an 'age of peace,' of a world redeemed because 'Yes, we can.'”

Quoting the papal biographer George Weigel, Magister explained that “Obama's vision is 'a perfect example of the kind of utopianism against which Niebuhr, with his profound sense of the fragility of history and of the self-destructive capacity of human beings, fought for three decades.'”

President Obama has also been reported by the media to have quoted the 13th century heretic, Joachim of Fiore in his speeches, although these citations have since proven to be untrue and a journalistic “hoax,” wrote Magister.

The 13th century monk was a self-defined prophet of  the “'age of the Spirit' after the previous ages of the Father and the Son,” Magister recalled, “a third and definitive age of peace, of justice, of humanity with no more divisions, not even among religions.”

Magister noted that the “intellectual kinship between Obama and Joachim of Fiore appears so strong that in 2008, the news came out in the media all over the world that the future president of the United States had referred to him three times in key speeches of his electoral campaign.”

“The news was so widely credited that on March 27, 2009, Franciscan Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the official preacher of the pontifical household, repeated it in one of his Lenten preachings to the pope and the Roman curia.”

Despite the fact that the president never cited the monk, “the resemblance remains between Obama's rhetoric and the vision of Joachim of Fiore,” Magister said, adding that the “contradiction reappears when one compares Obama's speeches with his concrete decisions.”

“The troops in Afghanistan are still there, Guantanamo isn't closing, federal money is on the verge of funding abortion,” he observed. “Day after day, the president's actual decisions contrast with his statements. They always put off until an unspecified 'tomorrow' the realization of the messianic utopia that his speeches continue to present.”

“The 'new age' of Joachim of Fiore also failed to come about in 1260, the year indicated,” Magister concluded. “But the dream survived. And Obama is promoting it again today in his role as the most powerful man in the world.”

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Don Bosco relics to stop in San Francisco

San Francisco, Calif., Aug 24, 2010 (CNA) - Relics of St. John Bosco will stop in San Francisco on Saturday, Sept. 11 as part of a worldwide tour commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of the patron saint of youth and students.

A portion of Don Bosco’s right arm bone is encased in a 1,800 pound reliquary. It will be driven to San Francisco’s Sts. Peter and Paul Church from Tijuana, Mexico, a press release from the church reports.

Receiving the relics will be an honor guard including members of the Knights of Malta, the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, the San Francisco Fire Department and the San Francisco Police Department. After the relics arrive at 11:30 p.m., the church will be open all Saturday night for veneration by the faithful.

On Sunday, Sept. 12 there will be five Masses at the church to emphasize a particular aspect of Don Bosco’s ministry: as a model of service, as an apostle to the young, as a missionary to the world, as a model of holiness, and as someone faithful for the kingdom.

Don Bosco founded the Salesian religious order to minister and to serve young people orphaned and dispossessed by the industrial revolution. He is recognized as the patron of young people, Mexican youth, boys, schoolchildren, apprentices, laborers, stage magicians and editors.

The saint is particularly revered in Latin America and news of his relics’ visit has reportedly generated great enthusiasm, especially among the Latino population of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sts. Peter and Paul Church was the first place the Salesians established a presence in North America, but the Salesians are not numerous in the United States. However, they serve an important role in other countries. Because of their work, the Salesian founder’s relics were received in some countries by government dignitaries such as the presidents of Nicaragua and Honduras.

The relics have also visited Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Panama, El Salvador, Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico.

The Salesians are now the third largest men’s order in the Catholic Church, with over 20,000 members in 130 countries. The Salesian Sisters, known as the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, are the second largest order of women religious with 14,000 members in 89 countries.

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Sex-abuse lawsuits against Oakland diocese 'have no merit,' maintains spokesman

Oakland, Calif., Aug 24, 2010 (CNA) - Amid new reports of seven plaintiffs suing the Diocese of Oakland over alleged sex abuse decades ago by former priest Stephen Kiesle, diocesan spokesman Mike Brown says he believes the lawsuits have “no merit.”

Two separate lawsuits were filed in Alameda County Superior Court on Wednesday by six women and one man who alleged they were sexually abused by Kiesle several decades ago. The lawsuits charge that the Diocese of Oakland knew of the abuse and neglected to prevent the former priest from accessing children.

According to the Associated Press, Jeff Anderson, an attorney representing the plaintiffs who has sued dioceses across the U.S. for more than $63 million to date, said then-Oakland Bishop John C. Cummins and other church officials knew there were claims against Kiesle.

"They chose to keep secret – to not warn the parents of children, not tell police, not tell parishioners," Anderson said. "They were more concerned with saving face and protecting their reputation than with the well-being of these children."

Mike Brown, spokesman for the Diocese of Oakland, told CNA on Monday that the  “lawsuits were filed late last week, so we have not yet seen them and thus can’t respond with specifics.”

However, he added, “as we understand the public characterizations made by attorney Jeff Anderson, we believe those points have no merit.”

Adding to the controversy this week, a war crimes lawyer claimed in an Iranian newspaper that the Oakland diocese has been involved in a Satanic sex-abuse ring.

The Tehran Times ran a story on Aug. 22 highlighting the comments of Alfred Lambremont Webre, an international lawyer specializing in war crimes, who claims that the Diocese of Oakland was complicit in a Satanic child sex-abuse ring that was known and covered up by then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

“Suppose Cardinal Ratzinger, the current pope, was actually running a sexual abuse ring for 'satanic worshipers' using Satanism and using sexual abuse,” Webre said. “They were actually encouraging sexual abuse by priests on children around the world as part of a 'Satanic Ritual.'”

“That's what this looks like to me as a lawyer, as a war crimes lawyer,” Webre told the Tehran Times.

Regarding the charges that Pope Benedict and the Diocese of Oakland were involved in a satanic sex abuse ritual scheme, Brown told CNA that he would “pass” on commenting.

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US celebrations to mark Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday

New York City, N.Y., Aug 24, 2010 (CNA) - Numerous celebrations across the globe will mark the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth on Aug. 26. Masses and memorial displays have been scheduled to honor the life of the servant to the poor of Calcutta.

Blue and white, the colors of the Missionaries of Charity, will be displayed at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Belfast. Other events will take place in countries like Switzerland, Bulgaria and Albania, the famous sister’s birthplace.

The entire skyline of Miami, including the landmark Miami Tower, will be cast in blue and white. The Peace Bridge between Buffalo, New York and Fort Erie, Ontario will light up in Bl. Teresa of Calcutta’s honor, as will Buffalo’s Electric Tower.

Many Catholic churches in the U.S. will display blue and white ribbons. Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas will officially mark her birth by lighting some of its buildings in blue and by naming its new nursing and health education building for the sister.

In New York City, the Hutchinson Metro Center in the Bronx will shine in blue and white, as will the U.S.S. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. Billboards in Times Square will shine blue while Hoboken will show posters of Mother Teresa in several venues, the Catholic League reports.

Some controversy resulted from the Empire State Building’s refusal of the Catholic League’s request to honor Mother Teresa’s birth in its lighting scheme.

The Catholic League will hold a rally in front of the famous building at 6 p.m. on Aug. 26 and has invited Catholics and non-Catholics to attend. It asks attendees to wear blue and white.

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