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Archive of September 15, 2010

New project to help preserve Cardinal Newman’s manuscripts and spread his ideas

Manassas, Va., Sep 15, 2010 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has launched a project to help preserve the handwritten manuscripts of the nineteenth-century convert and theologian John Henry Cardinal Newman, whom Pope Benedict XVI will beatify later this month. One organizer praised Newman’s “courageous faith” and his “thorough” critique of secularism.

During his visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict will visit the Birmingham Oratory where Cardinal Newman lived and died. He will also view the archive of his works which contains letters, sermons, essays poetry and other works. Some of the works have never been published, the Virginia-based CNS reports.

In his general audience in Rome last week, Pope Benedict called Newman a “truly great Englishman” who lived “an exemplary priestly life.” He said Newman’s writings made “a lasting contribution to Church and society, both in his native land and in many other parts of the world.”

CNS has launched the Newman Legacy Project to make the cardinal’s writings more accessible to scholars and to help introduce his ideas to the American public. The group hopes to raise more than $1 million for the project, which will primarily help build a climate-controlled, fireproof facility for the Newman archive at the Birmingham Oratory.

“Newman has much to offer the Catholic Church in America: a strong dose of courageous faith, a commitment to reason and a thorough critique of secularism,” commented CNS president Patrick J. Reilly. “It is fitting that Americans would help preserve Newman’s legacy, just as Americans generously supported Newman during his lifetime more than a century ago.”

Other activities will include lectures, media outreach, and fellowships for Newman scholars. The project will also distribute short films about Cardinal Newman in cooperation with the Texas-based cultural non-profit Corpus Christi Watershed.

Progress on fundraising has already advanced, with Scott and Lannette Turicchi of California pledging 10 percent of the goal.

“Blessed Newman’s contributions to the Faith and especially higher education need to be preserved, accessible and made available for research and the sake of future generations,” the Turicchis said.

The project has the endorsement of Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, Archbishop emeritus of Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler, former Vatican ambassador James Nicholson and Archbishop Raymond Burke of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome.

CNS is leading the official U.S. pilgrimage to the Sept. 19 beatification of Cardinal Newman. The pilgrimage departs for Birmingham on Wednesday. Its participants include bishops, priests and laity who will have exclusive opportunities to see the Newman archive and to attend the first Mass in the new Newman Shrine at the Birmingham Oratory.

More information on the Newman Legacy Project is available at the CNS website www.CardinalNewmanSociety.org.

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UK prime minister offers Pope Benedict 'very warm welcome'

London, England, Sep 15, 2010 (CNA) - Two days before the official state visit of Pope Benedict XVI to England and Scotland, British Prime Minister David Cameron offered the Holy Father a “very warm welcome” in a September 14 video message. The Pope's visit, he said, was an event of historic significance not only for Catholics, but for all citizens seeking to work for the common good.

“I would like to offer Pope Benedict a very warm welcome to Britain for this incredibly important and historic visit,” the prime minister stated in the video, which was posted on his own government website and made available at www.thepapalvisit.co.uk.

The “first ever Official Papal Visit to these shores” will be “a great honor for our country,” Cameron acknowledged. “These will be a very special four days not just for our six million Catholics, but for many people of faith right across Britain, and millions more watching around the world.”

The prime minister, who is a member of the Anglican Communion, described the trip as “a unique opportunity to celebrate the enormous contribution that all our faith communities make to our society.” A society shaped by faith, he said, “should be about more than materialism. It should be about shared values and working for the common good.”

“The fellowship and solidarity that unite us,” he said, “are not just Christian values, but British values.”

While acknowledging divisions in British society about the role of religion, Cameron said that the Pope's message had universal importance, to people of all faiths and even the non-religious. He affirmed that “the Pope's broader message can help challenge us to ask searching questions about our society and how we treat ourselves and each other.”

Prime Minister Cameron also emphasized the importance of maintaining a productive relationship between the United Kingdom and the Vatican. “The Holy See can also be a partner for us,” he noted,  “with great influence across the world.” He expressed his desire to work with the Vatican on social causes such as poverty, disease, environmental protection and world peace.

“So as we welcome the Papal Delegation,” he concluded, “let us redouble our resolve to work for the common good, both here in Britain, and with our partners abroad.”

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Morning-after pill distorts abortion figures in Spain, experts assert

Madrid, Spain, Sep 15, 2010 (CNA) - The president of the Institute for Family Policy in Spain, Eduardo Hertfelder, charged this week that the widespread distribution of the morning-after pill has not resulted in fewer abortions - as government officials have reported.

Spain’s Health Minister, Trinidad Jimenez, attributed the decline in the unofficial number of first-time abortions to the legalization of the morning-after pill. According to the newspaper La Razon, Jimenez said abortions have dropped by more than 3,000 since 2008.   Hertfelder called that claim a “lie.” “Perhaps there are fewer surgical abortions,” he said, “but chemical abortions, like those caused by the pill, are on the rise.”

In fact, the morning-after pill began to be made available with prescription to Spanish women and teens last year, and in the first few months more than 388,000 doses were distributed.

To claim that abortions have declined because of the drug “is a way of camouflaging chemical abortions,” Hertfelder asserted. 

Benigno Blanco from the Forum on the Family added, “The promotion of contraceptives creates a false sense of security that unleashes an increase in promiscuity and sexual relations and, consequently, increases the risk of contracting sexually-transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.”

The “unofficial decline” in the number of abortions “is without basis,” Blanco added, noting with regret that the country’s Minister of Equality has celebrated these figures as “a triumph of the law on abortion, which is so tragic and harmful for women.”

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Columnist denounces ‘media charade’ over infanticide cases in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 15, 2010 (CNA) - A columnist from the Mexican newspaper El Universal has denounced the recent “media charade” carried out by abortion supporters that ended with the release of seven women who had been convicted of killing their newborn children.

The women were portrayed by the media as being imprisoned for abortion, not infanticide.

Ricardo Aleman wrote in his column this week about the case of “seven women serving more than 20-year prison sentences for the supposed crime of abortion. 

“The scandal—and the manipulation—was such  that it caused panic in the mediocre government of Guanajuato, whose governor—who naively believes he will be a presidential candidate—preferred to pass the buck as far away as possible and proposed that the State Congress enact ‘fast-track’ reforms to allow the women to go free,” he wrote.

“There is an abundance of evidence that once again, media pressure was used as a battering ram to try to break the law. Why? Because the story behind the women in prison supposedly for abortion is not like they are portraying it,” he warned.

“None of the seven women released was convicted and imprisoned for having an abortion,” Aleman said. “All of them, for different reasons and circumstances, were involved in the death of one of their children—hours, days or weeks after birth—and therefore they were punished in accord with the new laws of the government of Guanajuato.  Moreover, if they had been tried for the crime of abortion, according to the law they would not have received more than three years in prison,” he said.

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Tony Blair highlights intellectual courage of Cardinal Newman and Benedict XVI

Rome, Italy, Sep 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom this week, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote an article for L’Osservatore Romano praising the “intellectual courage” of both the Holy Father and Cardinal John Henry Newman as well as their fearless defense of the truth in the face of unpopularity.

The Pope will beatify the cardinal during the papal trip.

In his front page column titled, “The Pope and Newman,” Blair underscored that Benedict XVI is “in deeply in tune with the spirit and ideas of Newman,” whose “historical studies led him to leave Anglicanism for Rome.” Blair added that the cardinal’s writings and ideas always put “spiritual truth above all other values.”

Blair recalled that when Cardinal Newman was about to formally enter the Catholic Church, he wrote, “Nobody can have a more unfavorable view of the current state of Catholics today than I.”  This statement, Blair said, “isn’t very diplomatic, but he didn’t care because he did what he thought was right even if in the end it was uncomfortable or unpopular.”

“This intellectual courage is admirable,” Blair continued. “It is something many Catholics admire about Pope Benedict XVI. The ideas of Newman cannot be easily expressed in a short article.  ‘A man of conscience is one who never purchases well-being, success, public prestige or approval by prevalent opinion if the price is the renunciation of truth,’ he wrote.  It is a harsh view in a world in which in large measure it is the media which forms opinion.”

While “the differences between our world and Newman’s are great, the questions of which he wrote do not cease to challenge every Catholic and politician,” Blair said, underscoring the great importance Cardinal Newman gave to the papacy.

The former prime minister then referred to the importance of Cardinal Newman in the introduction of the concept of development. “It is likely that we would not be using the terms such as ‘millennium development goals’ or ‘international development’ if Newman had not used these words first in theology,” Blair explained.

“I think Newman would have been a strong ally in the promotion of dialogue between religions because of his theory of development, although the opposite might seem to be case,” Blair said.  Like Pope Benedict, Blair continued, Newman also “fiercely opposed relativism.”

Blair concluded noting that “nobody can seriously doubt the fact that (Cardinal Newman) was and is a doctor of the Church.  The time will come when it is thus proclaimed.”

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Church indebted to courageous women, teaches Holy Father

Vatican City, Sep 15, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Continuing his theme on women's contributions to the Church throughout history, Pope Benedict recalled the life of St. Clare of Assisi during his catechesis on Wednesday. “Her witness,” the Pope noted, “shows us how much the Church is indebted to courageous women rich in faith who, like her, were capable of giving a decisive impulse to ecclesial renewal.”

Born into wealthy nobility, the saint had a marriage arranged for her when she was very young, the Holy Father explained. However, at the age of eighteen, Clare left her family home and joined the Friars Minor at the church of Porziuncola in Italy. The renowned St. Francis of Assisi welcomed her, cut her hair and invested her with the penitential habit.

“Clare found in Francis of Assisi, especially at the beginning of her religious experience, not only a master whose teachings to follow but also a fraternal friend,” he said. “The friendship between these two saints is a beautiful and important element, for when two pure souls inflamed with the same love for God meet, from their mutual friendship they draw a powerful stimulus to follow the path of perfection.”

“Friendship is one of the most noble and exalted human sentiments, which divine Grace purifies and transfigures.”

The Pope continued to say how a Flemish bishop by the name of Jacques de Vitry, who visited Italy during that period, observed St. Clare and her followers' embracing of  “a characteristic trait of Franciscan spirituality: ... radical poverty associated with complete trust in Divine Providence.”

It was because of this, he added, that the saint received “from Pope Gregory IX, or perhaps earlier, from Innocent III,” the so-called “Privilegium Paupertatis” which stated that Clare and her followers “could possess no material property.”

“This,” the Holy Father clarified, “was a truly extraordinary exception to then current canon law, granted by the ecclesiastical authorities of the time in appreciation of the fruits of evangelical sanctity they saw in the lifestyle of Clare and her consoeurs.”

“This shows,” he underscored, “how even during the Middle Ages women played an important not a secondary role.”

“In this context it must be remembered that Clare was the first woman in Church history to produce a written Rule, approved by the Pope, so that the charism of Francis of Assisi could be conserved in all the many female communities which were coming into being at that time, and which sought to draw inspiration from the example of Francis and Clare,” he added.

“In her convent of San Damiano,” Benedict XVI said, “Clare heroically practiced the virtues that should characterize all Christians: humility, a spirit of piety and penance, and charity.”

Pope Alexander IV canonized Clare in 1255, two years after her death. Her followers, the Poor Clares, still “play a vital role in the Church with their prayer and their works,” Pope Benedict said in conclusion.

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Role of Church is to lead us to heaven, teaches Spanish archbishop

Granada, Spain, Sep 15, 2010 (CNA) - During a Mass of Thanksgiving for the beatification of Capuchin Friar Leopold of Alpandeire, Archbishop Javier Martinez of Granada recalled that “the role of the Church and the saints is to bring us to heaven.”

Friar Leopold was beatified last Sunday by Cardinal Angel Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, before some 60,000 faithful and dozens of priests and bishops.

“The joy of yesterday and this morning in giving thanks for the beatification of Friar Leopold is pure joy. It is the joy that the redemption of Christ is fruitful, that the Blood of Christ was not shed in vain.”  The new blessed, he said, is an example of living that joy.

Archbishop Martinez also spoke of the role that saints and blesseds play in the Church, underscoring their place as intercessors before the Lord and models of life worthy of imitation.

During the Mass, the archbishop prayed “especially that the Lord bless the Capuchin Order and grant them many saints and many vocations, for the good of the entire Body of Christ and for the glory of God.”

His Life

Francisco Tomas was born a small town in the Spanish region of Malaga on June 24, 1864.  As a boy he cared for a flock of sheep and tilled the soil.  Years later, on November 16, 1899, he entered the Capuchin monastery in Seville, where he continued working in the monastery garden.

In the Fall of 1903 he was transferred to Granada and served as the gardener there. After moving between a few different monasteries, in 1914 he returned to Granada where he remained until his death As a beggar, he visited many towns in the Andalusia region. When he was asked a favor, he always asked the person to pray three Hail Marys in return.

He died on February 9, 1956. Even today, thousands visit his tomb each year to ask for his intercession.

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Writer blasts secular Britain’s anti-Catholicism in run-up to papal visit

London, England, Sep 15, 2010 (CNA) - Belfast-born author and journalist Leo McKinstry has said an anti-Catholic mood before the papal visit to the U.K. is comparable to the sectarianism of Northern Ireland. He blamed the antagonism upon the “politically correct spirit of our age” which emphasizes moral relativism and self-gratification.

McKinstry, a conservative who has written several books, announced his own impending conversion to Catholicism in The Daily Mail on Tuesday. He told how he had a sudden insight into religion in a Venetian chapel when he realized that the “poetry and symbolism” of Catholic ritual are metaphorical devices to evoke a spiritual reaction.

His conversion might seem “extraordinary” because he was raised as a Protestant in Ulster. However, his conversion also runs counter to the “aggressively secular, anti-Christian” nature of modern Britain where the Catholic Church is believed to be “outmoded, reactionary, irrelevant and superstitious.”

“This anti-Catholic mood has been at its most palpable in the run-up to Pope Benedict's state visit this week, much of it led by militant atheists who, in the name of tolerance, have become utterly intolerant of manifestations of traditional Christian faith,” McKinstry wrote.

He added that he sees a similarity between Northern Ireland sectarianism and anti-papal feeling in Britain today. The Protestant minister Rev. Ian Paisley’s announcement of a demonstration against Pope Benedict’s visit to Glasgow is an action “no different from the noisy army of frenzied secularists,” McKinstry remarked.

Atheist polemicist Richard Dawkins has described the Pope as “a leering old villain in a frock,” while the author Claire Rayner has declared she has never felt “such animus against any individual as I do against this creature.”

“His views are so disgusting, so repellent and so hugely damaging to the rest of us that the only thing to do is to get rid of him,” Rayner has commented.

In McKinstry’s view, these opinions are “alarming but hardly surprising” in a society where Catholicism is “marginalized and despised.”

While some of this hatred was inspired by the Church’s “shameful role” in failing to respond to sexually abusive priests, he said it was “absurd” to use the child abuse scandal as an argument for destroying the Church.

He also countered claims that the Pope conspired to cover up child sex abuse in Germany, saying these are “unsupported by documentary evidence.” Some of the cases from the U.S. appear not to have involved him at all, he noted, but were “entirely the responsibility of suspect clerics in America.”

“Indeed, I believe the Pope is a man of decency, integrity and great intellectual strength,” McKinstry wrote in The Daily Mail.

Antagonism against Catholicism goes “far deeper” than a reaction to child abuse.

“The fact is that Catholicism is completely out of tune with the progressive, politically correct spirit of our age, with its fashionable emphasis on moral relativism, multi-culturalism and self-gratification,” he continued, charging that civic leaders cannot bear the existence of an alternative to their “state-dominated, anti-family, diversity-fixated vision of the world.”

Rather, they become frenzied over the Church’s opposition to condom distributions in Africa and blame the Pope for the deaths of millions of Africans from HIV/AIDS. McKinstry contended that this ignores the heroic work of Catholic volunteers and the fact that the Catholic “ideal of restraint” has “often done more good than all the trendy sex awareness campaigns.”

The writer also criticized “tremendous hypocrisy” in anti-Catholic feeling, noting how many leaders are happy to appease “militant Islam” because they believe Muslims to be an oppressed minority.

“So they end up in the bizarre position of banning crucifixes and prayers from public institutions, while colluding with the spread of Sharia law,” he charged.

McKinstry said he was drawn to Catholicism because it is a “bulwark” in the defense of Christian civilization against secularism. “It is Christianity that gave us the moral code which built our great societies. Succumbing to the progressive agenda would just mean surrendering to further decline,” he added.

His Daily Mail piece concluded by saying that anti-Catholic commentators refuse to recognize that faith is about transcendence, not temporal politics.

McKinstry said he would take comfort and guidance from Jesus’ words: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's.”

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Fr. Robert Barron to launch national Catholic television show on WGN America

Chicago, Ill., Sep 15, 2010 (CNA) - Fr. Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Chicago will begin broadcasting a weekly national television show on WGN America to reach Catholics and others searching for Christ. He will be the first priest since Archbishop Fulton Sheen to have a regular, national program on a commercial television network.

Fr. Barron, a professor at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, runs the global media ministry called “Word on Fire.”

His WGN America show will be titled “Word on Fire with Father Barron.” It will premier at 8:30 a.m. Central Time on Sunday, Oct. 3. It will also run on WGN Chicago at 9:30 a.m.

“Now is the time to reach out to Catholics and others who are searching for meaning in their lives or who have left the Church because they are disillusioned,” Fr. Barron said. “In each episode, our mission will be to encourage believers and bring the transformative power of the Gospel to the culture.”

The priest, who was ordained in 1986, has also been producing a ten-part documentary titled “Catholicism,” telling the story of the Church through travels to 16 countries. He will preview highlights of the series in his weekly broadcasts.

“The faith of the Church is our strength,” Fr. Barron continued. “Our program will strive to show viewers the richness of the Catholic faith and how it is a treasure to be shared now and with future generations. The faith imbues our life with meaning and imparts to all a renewed sense of purpose.”

Funds for the WGN America program were raised through private donations. The website for Word On Fire is http://www.wordonfire.org

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Detroit's first Native American priest chosen as cultural consultant for USCCB

Detroit, Mich., Sep 15, 2010 (CNA) - Father Maurice Henry Sands, pastor of St. Alfred parish in Taylor, Michigan, has been appointed as a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Cultural Diversity.

 

A member of the Ojibway, Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes, Fr. Sands is the first Native American to be appointed as a staff member of the Subcommittee on Native Americans, which was created in 2008. He has been involved with the subcommittee in different capacities since its beginning.

 

Fr. Sands was raised on Walpole Island, an Indian reservation located between Michigan and Ontario, Canada. Raised in a “loving and faith-filled home,” he described to the Michigan Catholic journal how he worked in the corporate banking sector in Toronto, but sensed a greater calling at the age of 40. Nine years later, in 2005, he became the Archdiocese of Detroit's first Native American priest.

 

From 2006 to 2009, he served on the board of the Tekawitha Conference, an organization representing 1.5 million Native American and Aboriginal Catholics in the U.S. and Canada. A gifted multilingual speaker, he has also been involved with Hispanic ministry in his archdiocese. Fr. Sands will remain based in Michigan during his consultancy to the secretariat.

 

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, chairman of the Subcommittee on Native Americans and a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, remarked that "the Native American Catholic Community in the United States rejoices in the appointment of our brother.” The archbishop stated that “Father Sands is extraordinarily prepared for this service and will represent well the views and needs of the Native American people of the Church.”

 

Native American Catholics occupy a profoundly significant, yet difficult position within the North American church. Although the Church's original ministry in the “new world” of North America was directed toward their ancestors, many efforts to spread the Catholic faith in the Americas were also intertwined with the activities of European explorers and colonists.

 

Catholicism remains the religion of about 20 percent of Native Americans. Some of the pastoral challenges involved in ministry to their communities include persistent conditions of poverty, increased risks of alcoholism, geographical isolation, and the general difficulties involved in presenting what may still be perceived as a “European,” rather than universal and global, religion.

 

Speaking to the Archdiocese of Detroit's Mosaic magazine in 2005 about his work with Hispanic communities, Fr. Sands said that an intercultural role came naturally to him. “As a Native American,” he remarked, “I have had the privilege and opportunity of being a bridge builder my entire life.”

 

As a consultant to the USCCB's Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, Fr. Sands' new bridge-building work will involve reporting to the bishops on pastoral issues in his community, as well as developing electronic resources and workshops for ministry to Native Americans.

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Washington DC archbishop to speak on faith's role in shaping society

Houston, Texas, Sep 15, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. is slated to lecture on the topic of religious faith in shaping American society at the University of St. Thomas in Houston next month.

The speech, titled  “Religious Faith’s Role in Building a Good and Just Society,” will mark the first lecture for the Center for Faith and Culture's Master of Arts in Faith and Culture program. The talk will be held on Oct. 20, in the Chapel of St. Basil on campus.

“We look to religious faith for guidance as we struggle to build a good and just society,” Archbishop Wuerl said. “Faith conviction has a long-standing role in our American culture. It is precisely out of our religious experience that we have been able to form public policy in the United States in the areas of human dignity and the improvement of working conditions.

“We are reminded today that we also have a part in the efforts to transform our world, our society and our culture so that they are truly reflective of those values rooted in human nature and reflected in our faith experience – the bedrock for a culture in which justice and love flourish and peace is sustained,” he added.

More information can be found at: http://www.stthom.edu/

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