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Archive of August 31, 2010

Peruvian cardinal thanks canonists for hard work and commitment to faith

Lima, Peru, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, encouraged members of the Peruvian Association of Canonists in their work despite pressure from secular groups.

“Don’t let the pressure from the secular environment and the large number of causes before you wear you out and make you lose sleep. The most important things are order, adequate time and respect for the norms,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Cipriani thanked the association for the assistance it gives bishops, and praised members for their hard work over the years and commitment to study.

The cardinal concluded by mentioning his concern for the family and marriage and that they receive both legal and pastoral attention.

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Family group accuses Spain of promoting promiscuity through student health booklet

Madrid, Spain, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - The president of the Spanish Forum on the Family, Benigno Blanco, has accused the government of “encouraging promiscuity” among students through a booklet titled “Staying Healthy in School.” The booklet was recently published by the Ministry of Education and Health and includes a chapter on sexual education.

Speaking to Europa Press, Blanco said the government “is deceiving young people with propaganda about condoms” and is encouraging "sexual promiscuity, which leads to an increase in pregnancies and abortions. It is a mistake from a health care perspective,” he added.

He added that the government is “violating the rights of parents to educate their children according to their own convictions” and is ignoring the fact that in society, “there are distinct moral and ideological understandings about sexuality, and (the government) has no right to impose or suggest any of them at schools.”

Sexual education is a right of parents, he concluded, and therefore must be free of interference by the government.

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Bishops propose reconciliation as key to celebrating Mexico’s bicentennial

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Mexico has released a pastoral letter for the country’s bicentennial celebrations in which they call on the nation to maintain its Catholic roots and seek reconciliation as the key to confronting social problems.

The 72-page letter is divided into three parts, focusing first on Mexico’s past and the role the faith has played in forging the nation’s identity and history, then stressing the country’s need for policies that prioritize the “legitimate yearning for freedom and justice.”

The third section underscores the duty Mexicans have to be “the protagonists of events and not mere spectators.”  The bishops proposed three fundamental priorities for the continued development of the country: an all-out attack on poverty, quality and comprehensive education for all, and a sustained effort to bring about reconciliation, unity and integration to all components of society.

The bishops stressed that the well being of the country demands that all “doors be closed to the temptation to resort to violence, which only causes death, backsliding and destruction.”  “To those who seek to sow a state of fear and death through illicit and criminal activities, putting everything that we have achieved throughout our history at risk, …  we must say that the real Mexican society repudiates them and the Church calls them to a conversion back to the paths of justice and good.”

“Mexico is a great nation with a providential history and vocation,” the bishops said in conclusion.  “It is a country that has been blessed by God” and should continue along that path.

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Holy Father closes 'summer school' urging gratitude for God's forgiveness

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - At the closing of a summer seminar for his former students, the Holy Father urged gratitude for the Eucharist, remarking that the Sacrament shows how “God's style” is different than man's, given the human tendency to give “only to those who will give us something back.”

The Pope's former students gathered in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo between Aug. 27-30 for their annual seminar, which is often referred to as the "Ratzinger Schulerkreis."

According to Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano (LOR), the theme of this year's encounter focused on the Second Vatican Council. This year's gathering drew the participation of 40 priests, professors, religious and lay people.

LOR reported that the topic of the four-day seminar was chosen by the Pope himself from among several options proposed by the association of his former theology students. Also selected by the Pope was the main speaker, Archbishop Kurt Koch, the recently appointed replacement for Cardinal Walter Kasper as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Archbishop Koch's addresses to the group examined "The Second Vatican Council between tradition and innovation" and "Sacrosanctum concilium and the post-Conciliar reform of the liturgy."

Pope Benedict was present at the meeting hall, located near the Castel Gandolfo town center, for several events on the schedule. After Archbishop Koch's Friday and Saturday sessions, the Pope participated in discussions. On Sunday morning, he presided over Mass for his former students and joined them for breakfast.

“At the end of today’s Gospel,” the Pope said during his homily on Sunday, “the Lord makes us see how, in reality, we continue to live like the pagans do. We extend invitations only to those who can invite us. We give only to those who can give back.”

“But God’s style is different,” he said, adding that “we experience it in the Eucharist.”

“He invites us to His table, us, who have nothing to give Him,” the Holy Father continued. “During this event of the Eucharist, let’s let ourselves be touched above all by gratitude for the fact that God exists, that, despite our having nothing to give Him and being full of sins, He invites us to His table and wants to sit with us.”

“But,” the Pontiff noted, “we also want to be touched by guilt for being so slightly detached from the pagan style, for living so slightly the newness, God’s style.”

“And because of this,” the Holy Father concluded, “let’s start Mass by asking for forgiveness: a forgiveness that will change us, that will really make us similar to God, in His resemblance.”

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Knights of Columbus support Mexican bishops' freedom of expression

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus in Mexico have expressed their solidarity with the country’s bishops for their courageous, firm and respectful opposition to the Mexican Supreme Court’s recent rulings on abortion, same-sex “marriage” and adoption by gay couples.

“Mexico is a free, plural and democratic country where persons and institutions have the right and duty to express their opinions on issues that have to do with national public life,” the Knights said in a statement.

They noted that the Catholic laity make up the vast majority of the Mexican people and that they enjoy civil rights such as freedom of expression.

They also reaffirmed their defense of religious freedom, the unborn, the family based on traditional marriage and the right of adopted children to have a father and a mother.
 
“The legal culture should be centered on the person and support those least protected such as widows, orphans, migrants and refugees, the indigenous, the marginalized in cities and in the countryside, pregnant women, the handicapped and especially children and the unborn,” they said.

The Knights encouraged Mexicans to foster a culture life that prevails “over the culture of death so that everyone might have life in abundance, from conception to natural death.”

“The Knights of Columbus pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Father Michael J. McGivney to be better Catholics and citizens every day and thus work together with all the members of the Church and society for peace, justice, freedom and the rights of persons in order make the civilization of love a reality,” the organization concluded.

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‘We will bury Katrina,’ New Orleans archbishop declares on fifth anniversary

New Orleans, La., Aug 31, 2010 (CNA) - Five years after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond remembered the dead and thanked those who have helped recovery work. He noted that the symbolic funeral residents held for Katrina shows that it is time “to let her go.”

“Five years ago Katrina, the unwelcomed guest, did ravage on our city and left incredible destruction,” the archbishop said in a video posted on August 29 at the archdiocese’s website.

“We stand here five years later in a spirit of hope and gratitude, with hope for those who have died. We cannot forget the hundreds who died. We commend them to God’s kingdom and ask God’s blessings on their families as they grieve.”

“On Saturday morning we will bury Katrina,” said the archbishop. “We will have a jazz funeral. We’re hoping she doesn’t resurrect. It is a very symbolic gesture … that it is time to let her go. But we must move on to hope and to the future.”

The archbishop expanded on his remarks in a Sunday reflection.

“It would be easy to allow those feelings of confusion, anxiety, and despair from five years ago to creep back into our heads and spirits, but today, we must ask God to help us to rise above those feelings and allow our loving God to replace them with renewed feelings of faith and hope,” he commented.

Acknowledging that he cannot fully understand the emotions of Katrina’s victims because he was not living in New Orleans at the time of the disaster, he said that the strength of people is “amazing.”

“I am constantly inspired by the stories of those who have rebuilt and those who found solace in their faith and in love of God, family and neighbor. This is what makes New Orleans special. Your faith in God inspires me!”

“There is tremendous hope here,” he added in his video.

He pledged help from the Catholic Church to those who are still rebuilding.

“I promise to do all within our means to help you though your pain and your struggles and to be the heart of Jesus Christ to you in your time of need,” he told the disaster’s victims. “We must not forget Katrina, but must use those experiences to grow and strengthen our families and communities so that we may be an example of God’s hope to our neighbors and the rest of the country.”

In the video, the archbishop also praised the “incredible work” of Catholic charities and reported that the organization had helped provide over $55 million in aid to the hurricane’s victims. He thanked other Catholic bishops and Catholics of other dioceses who contributed to the recovery work.

He noted that Catholic Charities’ relief work recently faced a severe shortfall until a gift of $100,000 came from David Blossman of the Abita Brewing Company to help the relief work continue.

Archbishop Aymond also reported that Tom and Gayle Benson, owners of the New Orleans Saints football team, have recently decided to contribute to Catholic Charities’ relief work for Gulf oil spill victims.

“When we seem not to have enough, with the little bit we have and with God’s blessings, we have plenty,” the Archbishop of New Orleans said.

The archbishop has asked all parishes in the archdiocese to say a special Mass in honor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor to thank her for her prayers and to ask her intercession with Jesus for ongoing protection for the region. He also asked Catholics to join in prayer for New Orleans, asking that Our Lady’s prayers will join them more closely to Jesus.

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Cardinal Danneels denies cover-up charges, says he was unprepared for meeting

Brussels, Belgium, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA) - Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium has denied he intended to cover up a bishop’s sexual abuse and said he was “unprepared” for his meeting with a victim who secretly taped their conversation. His spokesman acknowledged the transcripts of the meeting but claimed they do not show enough nuance.

A 42-year-old nephew of the former Bishop of Bruges Roger Vangheluwe accused his uncle of sexually abusing him. The nephew made a recording of his April 8 meeting with the cardinal, transcripts of which were published in two Belgian newspapers on Saturday.

According to Reuters, the tapes feature the former head of the Belgian Catholic Church urging the alleged victim to accept a private apology or to wait a year until Bishop Vangheluwe’s retirement before making his accusations public.

"The bishop will resign next year, so actually it would be better for you to wait," the cardinal said, according to the meeting transcript. "I don't think you'd do yourself or him a favor by shouting this from the rooftops."

In the transcript the cardinal said he cannot discipline the bishop or inform higher authorities, including Pope Benedict. He said the bishop should turn himself in, but also warned the victim about trying to blackmail the Church.

The victim denied he wanted to blackmail anyone and said in the meeting that his uncle “dragged my whole life through the mud, from 5 until 18 years old.”

"Why do you feel so sorry for him and not for me?" the victim asked.

A second tape records the cardinal and Bishop Vangheluwe meeting with the victim and a relative of his. In that tape the bishop apologized and said he has searched for a way to make up for his misdeeds.

According to Reuters, the victim decided to publish the tapes to counter allegations he had tried to blackmail the bishop.

Bishop Vangheluwe resigned on April 23, admitting he had sexually abused a boy about 20 years earlier.

In a Sunday statement Cardinal Danneels’ interim spokesman Toon Osaer said that it was never the cardinal’s intention in his conversation with the victim to “hush up” the abuses committed.

“The cardinal granted the request of the family to be a mediator within the family circle after these abuses. In the confidential context of a family meeting, different approaches were examined in search of a reconciliation,” the statement continued.

“In no moment was pressure exerted, neither on the family nor on the victim, to keep the facts secret ...  Cardinal Danneels repeats that he condemns the abuses committed by the bishop emeritus and he deeply regrets them.”

According to the spokesman, the prelate is also disappointed that a confidential conversation was recorded and released without the knowledge of both parties.

While the Belgian media is focusing on the cardinal’s failure to tell journalists about his attempt to persuade the victim to remain silent, Danneels’ spokesman claimed this showed his willingness not to break the confidentiality of the meeting and expose a victim who had not yet gone public.

Osaer told the Associated Press on Monday that the cardinal realizes “that the whole approach, as it was, was not the right one.” The cardinal was unprepared for the meeting and improvised his comments.

The spokesman added said that the transcript of the meeting was not in doubt, but he said it was not complete enough to give a more nuanced understanding of the meeting. "It is not correct to say that Danneels implied — let's give forgiveness and that's it," Osaer said.

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UK bishops describe heartfelt experiences of God

London, England, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA) - In anticipation of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to England and Scotland from September 16 to 19, several of the United Kingdom's Catholic bishops have produced videos to recount their most profound experiences of the presence of God. 

The probing and introspective interviews draw their inspiration from the motto of Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, "Heart speaks unto heart" (in Latin, "Cor ad cor loquitur"), which has been chosen as the theme of the Pope's visit to the U.K.

Cardinal Newman will be beatified by the Holy Father on September 19.

Each of the bishops was asked to reflect on an instance in which God "spoke to their hearts." Several described difficult circumstances in which they found consolation through prayer, turning to God in the face of a personal challenge, lingering resentment, or significant loss.

An Auxilary Bishop of Westminster, John Arnold, said in his video that God had given him a sense of acceptance and peace on the day of his mother's death. "Of course, I knew I was going to miss her," he said, but he described clearly knowing that "God was present when he invited her to himself." The experience of God's love during the difficult parting helped him understand how "we are all held in his hands."

Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham recalled having his youthful doubts about God's existence met with a sudden realization of the world's order and beauty. As he looked up at the sky during his early morning paper route, "it was just full of stars. They were sparkling and gleaming, scintillating." The incident made him realize that "someone must have made it all," and it suggested a transcendent beauty "at the heart of everything." 

Other bishops' interviews focused on events that had challenged and deepened their faith, or given them a greater insight into the realities of Christian history. Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool recounted a visit to the Holy Land, during which he found himself completely alone at the site of Jesus' crucifixion on Mount Calvary.

He said that the concrete reality of the sacred place made him confront the challenges of Christian faith once again: "Here, not in some other city, on a Friday . . . God, in Christ, reconciled the world to himself."

Archbishop Kelly said that the Holy Father's visit to the United Kingdom would provide a similar occasion for reflection on the meaning of Christian discipleship, which originates in "an encounter with an event, with a person . . . Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God."

Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton spoke of his experience celebrating Mass in the Roman catacombs where many of the earliest Christians were buried. At the moment in the Mass which commemorates the dead "who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith," he said that "a number of people were moved to tears," realizing there were "thousands of those people here now."

That experience, Bishop Conry said, made him aware of his responsibility to transmit the faith for generations to come. "We've received the message," Bishop Conry said, "we've taken it into our hearts, and we've passed it on."

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Guam archbishop urges faithful to vote with Catholic conscience

Hagatna, Guam, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA) - Writing to Catholics before Guam's upcoming primary elections, Archbishop Anthony Apuron stressed to the country's faithful that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law that contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.”

Archbishop Apuron of the Archdiocese of of Agana issued his statement on Aug. 27 in time for Guam's primary elections, which will be held on Sept. 4.

“We are called to participate in the upcoming elections of our local leaders for the positions of Governor and Lt. Governor, Senator, Attorney General, and Delegate to the U.S. House of Representative,” the prelate explained. “As we exercise our civic duties, we are faced with issues that affect the common good of the People of Guam.”

Regarding the faithful's civic duty to vote, the archbishop then highlighted “non-negotiable” positions that the Catholic Church holds in five areas of concern: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human closing and same-sex unions.

Speaking on abortion, Archbishop Apuron called the procedure the “intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being, and therefore it is a form of homicide.”

“The unborn child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of this life,” he underscored. “Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child’s who should not suffer death for others' sins.”

On the issue of same-sex unions, Archbishop Apuron stressed that marriage “is the union of one man and one woman.” 

“Legal recognition of any other union as ‘marriage’ undermines true marriage,” he noted. “Any legal recognition of same-sex union actually does individuals with tendencies for same sex a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement.”

The archbishop also addressed Catholic lawmakers, telling them they have “a moral duty to express their opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against same-sex union. To vote in for, or advocate such action, is harmful to the common good and is gravely immoral.”

Addressing euthanasia, the archbishop called the act “homicide.” “No person has the right to take his own life, and no one has the right to take the life of any innocent person,” he wrote. “In euthanasia, the sick or elderly are killed by action or omission, out of a misplaced sense of compassion or misguided mercy.” “True compassion,” he stated, “cannot include intentionally doing something intrinsically evil to another person.”

The prelate then urged Catholics to “not vote for the candidates who are right on lesser issues but who will vote contrary to the Church teachings on key moral issues.”

In his concluding remarks, Archbishop Apuron told the faithful to “participate and exercise your civic duties as Catholic voters and make known your position by selecting the candidates who are willing to be accountable towards the common good of the People of Guam.”

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Holy Father expected to address recent Church controversies in upcoming book

Vatican City, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi announced on Tuesday that a German journalist has been given permission to publish a series of his conversations with the Holy Father. In the book, to be released by the end of the year, it is expected that the Pope will share his side of the story on the subjects of sex abuse, AIDS in Africa and the lifting of the excommunication of the Society of St. Pius X bishops.

Journalist Dr. Peter Seewald previously published two collections of interviews with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Permission to publish was granted the week of July 26 at the Pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo while the interviews – conducted in German – took place.

Seewald's two books, which resulted from interviews with then-Cardinal Ratzinger, are titled ‘Salt of the Earth’ from 1996 and ‘God and the World’ published in 2002.

Fr. Lombardi announced that the new series of conversations is slated for publication before the end of the year in both German and Italian.

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Commemorative stamps celebrate Pope's UK visit and Newman beatification

London, England, Aug 31, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The post office of the Isle of Man, a small independently-governed island near the U.K., issued a set of  commemorative stamps this month honoring Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, along with Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope will officially beatify the English cardinal at the end of his visit to England and Scotland from September 16 to 19.

The stamps were part of a miniature sheet issued on August 11, the 120th anniversary of Cardinal Newman's death. Since then, the Isle of Man's department for stamps and coins has been working with the Vatican Post Office to produce additional commemorative materials for the September 19 beatification.

Since Newman's beatification was originally scheduled to take place at Coventry Airport, the stamps give the original location for the announced ceremony rather than the new site at Cofton Park in Birmingham. Stamp collectors, however, often increase the level of an artifacts' value to apparent discrepancies of this kind.

Newman is depicted in two photographs, one taken in his residence at the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in 1883, when the cardinal was 82. The other was taken around 1866, just over two decades after his conversion from Anglicanism and reception into the Catholic Church. The photograph of Pope Benedict XVI was taken during a General Audience in St. Peter's Square on June 10, 2009.

Among the materials to be produced jointly by the Isle of Man Post Office and the Vatican, will be a special welcome message to the Pope from Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland and Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

Announcing the stamps in a press conference earlier this summer, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham said that they “highlight the importance” of the “first time a Pope has been welcomed to the United Kingdom on a State Visit.” A prior visit by Pope John Paul II in 1982, which was the first ever visit by a Pope to the U.K., was a pastoral visit and not undertaken in his capacity as the head of the Vatican City State. 

Describing Cardinal Newman as an “example of holiness “ as well as a “figure of international significance,” Archbishop Longley hoped the stamps would “introduce Cardinal Newman and his witness to goodness and truth, to many people throughout the world who may not yet know him."

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