Archive of September 14, 2010

Peruvian cardinal laments society’s attacks on the family

Lima, Peru, Sep 14, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, asserted this week that the family must be protected. “If we attack the family, we destroy the future of society,” the cardinal said during his radio program. 

He then reminded parents of their duty to teach their children values such as solidarity and love. When this duty is abdicated, the cardinal continued, the result is more gang-related activity. For this reason, parents must “assume their responsibilities.”

He also called on all Peruvians to commit themselves to the defense of the family and protect it from individualism and materialism.

“The idea that money, success and appearances are what matter most—that culture is greatly harming the family. The family is being eclipsed and obscured,” he warned.

“We celebrated the Day of the Family in order to remind fathers and mothers of the greatness of their vocation: we have been called by God so that together we can raise and teach (children) to love, to forgive and to develop their personalities, and that requires time and good example,” the cardinal said.

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Peace and brotherhood are found in Christ, Archbishop Gomez teaches on 9/11 anniversary

Los Angeles, Calif., Sep 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Celebrating the Holy Mass of Cultures last Saturday at Los Angeles' Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Archbishop Jose Gomez also marked the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In his homily, the archbishop taught that the authentic source of universal brotherhood and world peace is found in Christ, who assembles his Church as “the family of God.”

A true harmony of peoples, he explained, is established by God's universal call to the communion of the Church, which incorporates men and women “of every country, race, and language.”

The archdiocese's annual Holy Mass of Cultures featured songs and dances performed by different ethnic communities, including a Polish folk dance group, African dancers and drummers, and Indonesian musicians. Two police officers also placed a flag and candle next to the altar in memory of the 9/11 victims.

In his homily, the archbishop taught that only the universal fatherhood of God, revealed by the Son of God and established in the Church by the Holy Spirit, can form humanity into a family and overcome the world's divisions.

The events of September 11, 2001, he recalled, were a tragic demonstration of these human conflicts. It was “a sad day in our nation's history … in which the truth of our common humanity was violated in a terrible way.” But God, the archbishop pointed out, brings good out of acts that people intend for evil.

“We know,” he said, citing St. Paul's letter to the Romans, “in everything God works for good with those who love him.” In that light, Archbishop Gomez explained, the attacks of 9/11 can be understood as an opportunity to rediscover the message of the Gospel in the wake of tragedy.

“It is we who must ensure that the purposes of God are brought from this evil,” he announced. “The blood of the innocent shed by the aggressors on that day must become the seed of new commitments to peace and understanding among peoples and religions, a renewed and authentic love of country, and a new dedication to God.”

The memory of those who died on 9/11, he emphasized, should inspire citizens “to build a new America, an America that is strong, confident, compassionate, and virtuous … an America that is always grateful and humble before God.”

“Without God,” he continued, “we have no foundation for our common humanity. If God is not our Father, then how can we be brothers and sisters?”

The Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles highlighted the diversity of his city's Catholic community, as an example of many cultures finding harmony in the one Church. “In the communion of cultures here,” he illustrated, “we see what God wants for the whole world.” Archbishop Gomez observed, “men and women from nearly every nation under heaven, joined in worshiping and serving God.”

He also called attention to the life of Blessed Mother Teresa, whose 100th birthday was commemorated in August, as an example of how Christ works to unify peoples and cultures.

Born in Albania, “she went to India, to the poorest of the poor … she chose a place on earth where there were virtually no Catholics. And she made friends with Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and atheists,” Archbishop Gomez recounted.

“She said something that I think has a special meaning for us this morning. She said: 'By blood I am an Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the heart of Jesus.'”

“My brothers and sisters,” he announced, “this is a beautiful description of what it means to be a child of God and a Catholic.”

Within the family of God, he stressed, each individual has a significant vocation, and a duty to bring Christ's love to the world. “Our good God expects great and beautiful fruits from each of us,” Archbishop Gomez concluded. “So let us offer to him in everything we do, the good fruits of holiness and love, as we seek the harvest of justice.”

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Impact of WYD 2011 depends on spiritual preparation, say organizers

Madrid, Spain, Sep 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The organizing committee for World Youth Day Madrid 2011 recently published a pastoral plan to assist young people in preparing for the event by deepening their spirituality through prayer and the sacraments.

“The quality of WYD depends on our spiritual preparation,” said Angel Matesanz, director of ministry for WYD. “We need to allow ourselves to be captivated by Jesus Christ and to become his collaborators.”

Gregorio Roldan, the secretary general of WYD and director of youth ministry for Madrid explained, “This year the objectives of the pastoral plan are much broader because young people will be coming to WYD from all over the world: the main actors will be the youth.”

The objectives will focus on three main areas: growth in the knowledge of Jesus Christ; the fostering of prayer and participation in the sacraments; and bearing witness to the faith through word and action.

The pastoral plan underscores personal preparation through a greater prayer life and knowledge of Jesus Christ, as well as the regular use of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation. It also encourages family prayer, participation in parish life and spreading the word about WYD to friends and acquaintances.

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Benedict XVI urges families to place Christ at center of their homes

Torreciudad, Spain, Sep 14, 2010 (CNA) - In a message sent to families participating in the 21st Marian Day of the Family in the Spanish city of Torreciudad, Pope Benedict XVI call on the faithful to “put the love of Christ at the center of the home.”

The Holy Father encouraged spouses to “offer the joyful testimony of a family life characterized by faith, prayer to God and the seeking of each family member’s well being.”

During Mass, Archbishop Jesus Sanz Montes of Oviedo said, “God wished to begin his human adventure as we begin ours: in the heart of a family.” For this reason, he said, “The Holy Family is the most beautiful icon in which God himself draws close to us, becomes visible and one of us.”

The archbishop also referred to the importance of human life. “The Church wishes to lend her humble voice to say yes to life, to all life, because that life both whispers and shouts out God to us.”

“This is the Gospel of Life, and this is the precious contribution to our beloved world, to which we also belong, that our families can make in hope and joy with their human and Christian values,” the archbishop said.  “Be not afraid, proclaim to all the beauty and joy of trusting in God, and as a family in Him, cease not from building up his Kingdom,” he told the more than 15,000 in attendance.

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George Weigel releases new book on John Paul II's later years

Washington D.C., Sep 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - More than a decade after writing “Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II,” noted Catholic author George Weigel is releasing a second book on the late Pope, continuing the story where he left off. “The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II – The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy” goes on sale today. In an interview with CNA, Weigel recently reflected on the legacy of the beloved Pope that is chronicled in his latest book.

“At my last meal with John Paul II, which was on December 15, 2004, I promised the pope that, if he didn't bury me first, I'd finish what I started in the matter of his biography,” Weigel explained. “'The End and the Beginning' is the fulfillment of that promise: it's both the completion of the story, and an amplification of 'Witness to Hope.'”

“The End and the Beginning” starts with a prologue summarizing the story told in “Witness to Hope,” which ends in 1999. Then, said Weigel, it revisits John Paul's 40-year struggle against communism, taking into account documents that had previously been considered classified and top secret.

“It's now widely recognized that John Paul II was the pivotal figure in the collapse of European communism—a proposal I was sometimes ridiculed for making when I first broached it in 1992,” Weigel pointed out. Now that opinions have changed, he continued, he felt that it was important to revisit that part of John Paul II's life with reference to the newly-available evidence.

The second part of “The End and the Beginning” recounts the last years of John Paul II, which Weigel described as “full of drama.” In this section, he covers the Great Jubilee and the Pope's pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the 2002 scandals of clerical abuse and  episcopal misgovernance faced by the Church in the U.S.

In addition, Weigel covers the Pope's health struggles, which included at least one "dark night" of the soul, as well as his final months, a period Weigel refers to as “his last, and perhaps most impressive 'encyclical.'”

The final section of the book is “a lengthy analysis, appreciation and evaluation of Karol Wojtyla the man and John Paul II the pope,” Weigel told CNA.

“I think the people of the Church know that Karol Wojtyla was a man of heroic virtue, and they've already beatified and canonized him in their hearts,” Weigel remarked. “I have never believed that there was any rush about the formal canonical process of beatification and canonization, which ought to proceed according to the Church's established patterns of investigation and reflection.”

Considering the extraordinary life of the pontiff, Weigel observed that five years after his death, his legacy continues to flourish. “He was, obviously, the great Christian witness of the second half of the twentieth century. His determination to make the world look closely at the stuff of its redemption in the Great Jubilee of 2000 now seems to have been one of the great papal initiatives in history.”

“Then there is his teaching, with which the Church will be grappling for centuries to come,” Weigel asserted. “Above all, John Paul II made the Christian proposal plausible and compelling at a moment when the Church seemed out of evangelical energy. The ripple effects of his witness are still being felt throughout the world.”

Commenting on sexual abuse within the Church, Weigel called for the media to reevaluate the efforts made by John Paul throughout his pontificate. He emphasized that the late Pope spent 26 years “reforming the priesthood by inspiring men who would never abuse their priestly trust to take up the glory and the burden of ordained ministry in the Catholic Church today.”

“Then, in 2002, when it became clear to the Pope that steps had to be taken to deal with sins and crimes from the past, those steps were taken,” he continued.

Observing the incomplete picture seen by those who “believe that the abuse scandals are the all-purpose filter or lens for seeing the entirety of the Catholic Church,” Weigel added that he hopes  his latest book will help “remind the media and the world that there is far more to the Catholic story than abusive clergy and the failures of bishops to deal with these betrayers.”

Calling to mind the Pope's prominent teaching on topics such as the evangelical core of the Church, the dignity of the human person, Divine Mercy and the “feminine genius,” Weigel told CNA that John Paul II's writings are especially relevant because they touch on “just about every imaginable area of human life and endeavor.”

“It will take the world Church decades to digest the rich magisterium of John Paul II,” he said.

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Expert calls on Mexican state government to support pregnant women

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 14, 2010 (CNA) - Claudia Maria Simental from the Institute for Formation in Values in the Mexican state of Durango is calling on residents and officials to support pregnant women and protect life from the moment of conception.

“No pregnant woman in Durango should be left out in the cold by society and the government during her pregnancy,” Simental told reporters.

She said the state government and lawmakers should strengthen public policies in support of pregnant women to assist them in health care, education, employment and social security, especially given their vulnerable situation.

When a pregnant woman has more opportunities for a better future, the temptation to resort to abortion, with all of its tragic consequences, can be avoided, she added.

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Holy Father appoints bishop for St. Catharines in Canada

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following the resignation of a Canadian bishop who left due to health reasons, the Holy Father on Tuesday appointed a new leader for the Diocese of St. Catharines, which is in the province of Ontario.

Bishop Gerard Paul Bergie – former auxiliary bishop of the Hamilton diocese – will succeed Bishop James Wingle as fifth bishop of the St. Catharines diocese.

Bishop Wingle left the diocese in April of this year, citing a lack of “stamina” in a letter to parishioners. The resigning prelate spoke of taking “a sabbatical centered on prayer and personal renewal.”

The Diocese of St. Catharine's released a statement on Tuesday, saying “it is with great joy” that they receive the news of Bishop Bergie's appointment.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1959, Bishop Bergie was raised and educated in Hamilton, studying at St. Jerome's College, the University of Waterloo and St. Peter's Seminary, London, Ontario. The prelate then received a Master's degree of Divinity from the University of Western Ontario and a Licentiate in Canon Law from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome in 1991.

After being ordained a priest in 1984, he served in parishes in Hamilton and Stoney Creek as well as holding the position of chancellor for the Diocese of Hamilton. Bishop Bergie was the first Canadian bishop appointed by Pope Benedict in 2005. 

The diocese reported that Bishop Bergie is expected to be installed in the Diocese of St. Catharines within the next two months.

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Muslim hacker destroys website of Florida group defending Christian convert

Orlando, Fla., Sep 14, 2010 (CNA) - A hacker has attacked the website of the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), a group assisting the Christian convert Rifqa Bary. The hacker said he made the attack because of the group’s thinking about “Great Islam.” The loss of the website could have consequences for the 2010 election in Florida, the group claimed.

In an e-mail to supporters the FFPC said the hacker gained access to its website last Friday and “disabled the entire back-end controls on the site, erased most of the data, disabled the blog and left an obscene message on the events page explaining in broken English who he was and why he was hacking the site.”

A screenshot of the site shows a picture of Arabic characters on a brightly colored fractal background.

“You got hacked due to you s**t thinking abt Great Islam,” the hacker said. “(T)his is due to JHON TAIRY … do good and have good … **** all florida,” the attacker added.

The FFPC reports that its web experts have judged the five-year-old site to be completely unusable and in need of replacement.

The group has been involved in the case of Rifqa Bary, a young girl from Columbus, Ohio. According to the FFPC, she converted from Islam to Christianity and then fled to Florida on a bus after her parents “threatened to kill her for not renouncing her faith.”

FFPC head John Stemberger, who represented Bary in a personal capacity, claimed that her parents’ mosque had ties to terrorist organizations. He has said that Bary could be killed as an apostate if she is sent back to her native Sri Lanka.

He has said she represents a “symbol of help” for young Muslims who want to leave Islam but fear the consequences for doing so.

Stemberger has said the cost for a new website is estimated at about $20,000. Funds still need to be raised, though a donor has offered $10,000 as a matching gift. He said that the website is the group’s “most strategic tool” for defending life, marriage and religious liberty as the November election approaches.

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Catholic relics given to Orthodox begin river cruise to Moscow

Volgograd, Russia, Sep 14, 2010 (CNA) - A “chapel boat” containing relics of eight saints has begun a cruise along the Volga River. The relics are a gift from the Catholic Church to the Russian Orthodox Church and could have a deeply symbolic impact, one expert says.

The relics are from Sts. John the Baptist, Anne, Bartholomew the Apostle, martyrs Stephen and Lawrence, George, John Chrysostom and Cyril. All the saints lived before the Great Schism split the eastern and western Churches.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports that the ship carrying the relics is called “Fr. Werenfried” after the ACN founder who created the mission to convert boats into chapels. Fr. Werenfried van Straaten called them the “flotilla for God.” The boats allow services to be celebrated in places without churches.

Peter Humeniuk, ACN’s Russia expert, helped organized the project.

“Since the earliest days of Christianity, the Church has been seen as a ship, an ‘ark of salvation’,” he told ACN. “And on board the vessel, the relics of those saints from the era of the still undivided Church will be a powerful reminder of precisely those times when this image of the Church was first formed and when Christians were still united.”

On Sunday, Sept. 12, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan German of Volgograd and Kamyshin led a service on the quayside of Kirovkij harbor in Volgograd. Msgr. Visvaldas Kulbokas, the first secretary of the apostolic nunciature to the Russian Federation, also took part in the service and carried the relics onto the boat.

The boat has received the blessing of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and will travel about 1,900 miles from the mouth of the Volga to Moscow. The ship will stop at various towns and cities, including Saratov, Kazan and Novgorod, to allow as many people as possible to venerate the relics.

An Orthodox priest will be onboard at all times to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in the boat’s chapel, which is dedicated to St. Vladimir.

Stops include areas afflicted by drought and wildfires this summer. Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio to the Russian Federation, has sent a letter expressing his hope that those affected by the disasters will find comfort and consolation through the boat’s visit.

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Editor takes international media to task for skewing clergy sex abuse stats

London, England, Sep 14, 2010 (CNA) -

British social commentator Brendan O'Neill wrote a recent piece calling out U.S. and U.K. media for skewing clergy sex abuse stats and wrongly portraying the Catholic Church as hosting “an army of pedophile priests.”

O'Neill serves as editor of the independent social commentary website Spiked, and is a feature writer for the BBC. O'Neill also makes journalistic contributions to U.K. and U.S. publications such as the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Chicago Sun-Times and Christian Science Monitor.

“Apparently the British state is about to roll out the red carpet for a seriously evil rape facilitator,” O'Neil began his editorial on Sept. 13, referencing to the Holy Father's upcoming trip to the U.K. this week.

Quoting recent headlines, the commentator wrote that Pope Benedict XVI has been portrayed as “the boss of a church that acts as a 'patron, protector and financier of child rape'” and that allegedly “'over 10,000 people have come forward to say they were raped as part of this misery-go-round' overseen by His Holiness and His Lackeys.”

“But how true is this ugly truth? Were 10,000 children in America and thousands more in Ireland really raped by Catholic priests?” he asked. “In a word, no.”

“Instead, what has happened is that in the increasingly caliginous, almost Inquisitorial mindset of sections of the New Atheist anti-pope lobby, every allegation of abuse against a Catholic priest,” he noted, “has been lumped together under the heading of 'rape,' and every allegation has been described as an actual proven ‘rape’ regardless of whether it resulted in a legal trial, never mind a conviction.”

O'Neill then cited the 2002 study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was published in 2004 and titled, “The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States.”

“Of the 4,392 priests in America who were accused of sexual abuse in the period of 1950 to 2002, 1,021 were investigated by the police, and of these, 384 were charged, of whom 252 were convicted,” O'Neill clarified. “So around six per cent of all American priests who had allegations made against them were finally convicted.”

He continued, this is nothing like the “10,000 individuals in America” who claim “they were raped by Catholic priests.”

“In truth, 1,203 made this allegation.”

Similarly, when the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was published in May 2009 which detailed abuse accusations by Irish reform school attendants, “the media reported it as if it had uncovered apocalyptic, Caligulan levels of sexual depravity.”

“‘Thousands were raped in Irish reform schools,' said the Independent. ‘Thousands raped in Ireland’s Christian Brothers schools,' said the Belfast Telegraph. ‘Thousands raped and abused in Catholic schools in Ireland,' said the Guardian,” recalled O'Neill. 

“So were thousands of children - in particular boys, the main focus of the media reports - raped in Irish reform schools?” he asked. “No - 68 were, allegedly.”

While O'Neill claimed he is not out to “defend the Catholic Church, which clearly has a sexual abuse problem,” it is nevertheless “worth pointing out the reality of the extent of allegations against the Catholic Church in order to expose the non-rationalist, anti-humanist underpinnings of the current fashion for Catholic-baiting amongst the liberal, opinion-forming classes in the US and the UK.”

“The wildly inaccurate claim about thousands of children being raped by the representatives of an institution which actively ‘protected and financed child rape’ suggests that modern-day atheism, this New Atheism, has zero interest in applying the tools of rational investigation and critical questioning to the problem of certain religions’ infrastructure, and instead is hell bent on using the politics of fear,” he noted, “in contrast to which it can pose as the pure defender of childlike innocence and societal integrity.”

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