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Archive of September 16, 2010

Architect understood urgency of bringing God to the people through art, recalls prelate

Barcelona, Spain, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, reflected this week on the life of “genius architect and exemplary Christian” Antonio Gaudi, who designed the Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona. The church will be dedicated by Pope Benedict XVI in November.

Regarding the consecration of the church, set for November 7, the cardinal noted that it would be “an act of remembrance of the Christian artist who conceived it. On that day we will see the church’s interior finished, but above all we will see it full of Christians celebrating the Eucharist at which the Pope will preside.”

The Holy Father will also designate the church as a basilica.

Referring to Gaudi, Cardinal Martinez Sistach said, “He was an architect of God and understood his profession to be his mission. He felt the urgency to bring the Gospel and the presence of God through his work to the people.  For this reason it was his custom to crown his projects with the Sign of the Cross.”

Gaudi also “wanted all of his architectural works to bring those who contemplated them closer to God,” continued the prelate.

For this reason, the cardinal said, “The dedication of the Church of the Holy Family will be an endearing remembrance of the architect, who was an example of simplicity and humility, a true example of the Franciscan spirit of love for poverty, of appreciation for the expiatory sacrifice for one’s own sins and of the admiration of nature.”

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Archbishop urges change for Venezuela

Madrid, Spain, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro, Venezuela published a pastoral letter this week calling on the faithful and politicians in the country to do their part to change the direction Venezuela during the September 26 congressional elections.

The archbishop explained that it is his duty “to call for change in the country’s direction and for the struggle against the lasting ills of Venezuelan democracy: corruption, privilege, the lack of administrative continuity, political favoritism, excessive spending, and the moral deterioration of public structures and institutions.”

Archbishop Luckert said the country is heading towards a serious confrontation that will pit Venezuelans against Venezuelans.” He added that the Church “cannot remain indifferent in the face of the historic dilemmas of the nation, when certain values and principles of the human being and society are seriously under threat.”

The archbishop then warned of the growing violence in the country and expressed great sorrow over the large numbers of young people who leave the country in search of the kind of opportunities they cannot find in Venezuela.

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Seattle Catholics receive new archbishop from Pope Benedict

Seattle, Wash., Sep 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican announced on Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop James Sartain of Joliet, Illinois to serve as Archbishop of Seattle. Bishop Sartain will succeed current Seattle archbishop Alexander Brunett, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father upon reaching the age of retirement.

Fifty-eight year-old Bishop Sartain was born in Memphis, Tennessee. After attending St. Meinrad College in Indiana, the prelate studied at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, and earned a licentiate of sacred theology from the Pontifical Athenaeum.

In 1978, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Memphis, and in 2000 he was appointed as Bishop of the Diocese of Little Rock. He has also been a member of the Advisory Council for the Institute for Priestly Formation and currently serves on the Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Bishop Sartain will shepherd an archdiocese of 5,202,500 people, with 579,500 – 11 percent – of them being Catholic.

Retiring prelate Archbishop Brunett grew up in Detroit and studied in the city's Sacred Heart Seminary,  He was ordained a priest for the Detroit Archdiocese in 1958 and was appointed bishop of Helena, Montana in 1994, and archbishop of Seattle in 1997.

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Bishop recalls role of Mary of Guadalupe in Mexican independence

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Enrique Sanchez Martinez of Durango invited the faithful of Mexico this week to pray for their country as they celebrate its bicentennial. He also urged them to remember the important role that Our Lady of Guadalupe played in Mexico’s independence.

“The Catholic Church actively participated in a leading role in all of these events, as the most prominent initiators and protagonists were members of the clergy and the majority of the people were Catholic,” the bishop noted in a recent article.

He added that while September 16 is not the anniversary of Mexico’s independence, but rather the beginning of the rebellion, in celebrating it, we cannot ignore the role of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the origin of the national identity of Mexicans.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe was the inspiration behind the fathers of Mexican independence and, 100 years later, during the Mexican Revolution, the bishop said. She “presided over the birth of our nationality … She is also the emblem and bond of our national unity,” he continued.

Bishop Sanchez said the bicentennial celebrations are an occasion for uniting together “in reflection about our history, under the light of the faith.”

“Let us hold a week of prayer for the country, to especially give thanks for the gifts we have received through these societal events, and to pray intensely for the urgent needs of Mexico at this time in her history,” the prelate concluded.

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Pope calls for vocal Catholic presence in Scottish public life

Glasgow, United Kingdom, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - During Mass at Glasgow's Bellahouston Park on Thursday afternoon the Holy Father called on Scottish Catholics not to be afraid to bring their faith into the public square. “Society today,” he explained, “needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens.”

Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Scottish Catholic professionals, politicians and teachers never to lose sight of their calling to use their talents and experience in the service of the faith, engaging contemporary Scottish culture at every level.

Raising a theme that he first introduced just before his election as Pope, the Holy Father said that because the “dictatorship of relativism … threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man's nature, his destiny and his ultimate good,” the “evangelization of culture is all the more important in our times.”

He noted that in contemporary society some people attempt to relegate religion to the private sphere, even painting “it as a threat to equality and liberty.”

“Yet,” he said, “religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister.”

The Pope's words take on a particular significance in British society today, as Catholic adoption agencies have been forced to shut down because they wouldn't comply with a piece of legislation called the Equality Act. The Catholic Church was responsible for around half of all adoptions in the U.K.

He then made an appeal to lay faithful, calling on them to be “in accordance with (their) baptismal calling and mission, not only to be examples of faith public, but also to put the case for the promotion of faith's wisdom and vision in the public forum.

“Society today,” he explained, “needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them guidance and protection in the face of their weakness and fragility.

“Do not be afraid to take up this service to your brothers and sisters, and to the future of your beloved nation.”

Referring to St. Ninian, evangelizer of Scotland, as “unafraid to be a lone voice,” the Pope went on to address individual sections of the Scottish Church.

He encouraged Scottish bishops to seek the sanctification of the priests under their care by living “to the full the charity that flows from Christ.” The Pope also urged them to pray with their priests for an increase in vocations.

Turning to priests, the Holy Father urged them to preach the Word of God “with a pure heart and a clear conscience.” Scottish religious, he said, should be “a light on a hilltop” as they live out their Christian vocations.

Speaking to young people, he urged them to “lead lives worthy of our Lord and of yourselves.” The Pope said that in the face of “destructive and divisive” temptations such as drugs, money, sex, pornography and alcohol, they should turn to “the only one thing which lasts: the love of Jesus Christ personally for each one of you.”

“Search for him, know him and love him,” the Pope exhorted, telling the youth that “he will set you free from slavery to the glittering but superficial existence frequently proposed by today’s society. Put aside what is worthless and learn of your own dignity as children of God.”

Challenging the young people to love Christ and “dedicate yourselves completely to God, especially those of you who are called to the priesthood and religious life,” Benedict XVI said, “This is the challenge the Lord gives to you today: the Church now belongs to you!”

To read Pope Benedict's full homily, visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/unitedkingdom10/resource.php?res_id=1441

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Vatican spokesman pleased with crowd of 100,000 in Edinburgh

Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - “We couldn't desire a better start” for the Pope's visit to the U.K., said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, referring to the great crowds in Edinburgh. The Pope spent the morning at the queen's residence, but the thousands were able to see him traveling to and from the palace.

Pope Benedict XVI was met by what locals estimated to be 100,000 people on Princes St. in central Edinburgh as he made his way to the queen's residence on Thursday morning. Among the throng were 1,000 bagpipers who accompanied the Holy Father in a parade.

Upon arriving at the palace, the Pope gave his state welcome, encouraging British leaders to be a force for good. In her speech, Queen Elizabeth II highlighted points of cooperation between the Holy See and the U.K., hoping for mutually better understanding through dialogue so that “old suspicions can be transcended and a greater mutual trust established.”

At a press conference following the occasion, the Vatican spokesman described the encounter between the two heads of state as a meeting between families due to the warm atmosphere in the Palace of Holyrood House. Their time together consisted of a private meeting along with the queen's husband Prince Philip, introductions to other members of the royal family, a gift exchange and a reception with around 400 guests representing different areas of British life.

Of the mix of members of parliament, education, healthcare and other British officials who were invited, around 120 were able to personally meet the Holy Father as he greeted them one by one.

Following the final reception in the back garden of the expansive estate, which is a former Augustinian monastery, the Holy Father made his way to Cardinal Keith O'Brien's house for lunch as the first scarce raindrops of a cool, but otherwise dry morning began to fall.

Speaking to journalists in the frenetically busy makeshift press office on site, Fr. Lombardi reflecting on the numbers of cheering people in the streets, saying, “We couldn't desire a better beginning for this trip ...”

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Holy Father 'not worried' about UK's history of anti-Catholicism

Aboard the papal plane, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father remarked that it was with "great courage and joy" that he traveled to Great Britain on Thursday. Despite the U.K.'s history of anti-Catholicism, the Pope noted that he was sure he would be met with "tolerance."

On the way to Scotland for the first day of his four-day apostolic journey to the U.K., the Holy Father answered several questions posed to him by reporters through Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi.

The issues covered in his traditional "press conference" on papal flights often closely mirror the main points of his overall message on apostolic journeys. Matters ranged from his reception in the U.K. to a loss of trust among Church members for cases of sexual abuse and Cardinal John Henry Newman's relevance today.

Asked first if he was concerned about how the U.K. visit might pan out, considering contrasting voices in the media leading up to the visit, the Holy Father responded immediately, "I must say that I'm not worried."

He recalled his visit to France where he was met by "strong anti-clerical currents with a minimum of faithful" and to the Czech Republic where, he said, atheism is at the highest levels in Europe.

"All western countries," he explained, "each in its own way and according to its own history, has strong anti-clerical or anti-Catholic currents, they also always have a strong sense of faith."

He recalled his warm reception from the Catholic community in those two countries on the previous trips and also said he could feel the "attentiveness" of agnostics to his presence. Agnostics, he explained, are "still in search, they want to know and find the values that take humanity forward ..."

He also recalled the "tolerance with respect" of those who are anti-Catholic. The Pope noted that the "history of anti-Catholicism" in Great Britain is "obvious," but, he added, "its also a country with a great history of tolerance.

"So," he concluded, "I'm sure that a great part will be a positive reception by Catholics and believers in general, attention from those who seek to move forward in this most recent time and mutual respect and tolerance where there is an anti-Catholicism.

"I go forward with great courage and joy."

In a further question, the Holy Father also spoke about the common goal of the Anglican and Catholic Churches. He said they both have the same priority: to spread the message of God.

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Downsizing of Catholics in Alliance creates debate over Catholic political funding

Washington D.C., Sep 16, 2010 (CNA) - The closure of the offices of the Democrat-leaning group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) has prompted debate over the role of partisan political funding for groups targeting Catholic voters. While one analyst says that Republican-leaning Catholic groups are better funded, a Catholic Republican disputes his claim.

Catholics in Alliance closed its Washington, D.C. office at the end of July and no longer has paid staff.

Dr. Liza Cahill of Boston University, a member of CACG's advisory board, explained to CNA in an e-mail earlier this month that the group "is in a holding pattern and staff have gone into positions at similar organizations." Subsequent communication with the group revealed that it had moved to a midtown D.C. office and is planning a series of blog posts on social justice issues.

Fred Rotondaro, chairman of the CACG board of directors and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told the National Catholic Reporter he is working on new fundraising and is planning to communicate through the internet and e-mail. He said subscribers to the group’s mailing list numbers about 40,000.

According to Rotondaro, the group was formed in 2005 after the presidential election “when I think a number of progressive Catholics came to the belief that social justice ideas were not being very seriously considered by a lot of Catholics when they came to voting.”

In his opinion, CACG is a pro-life organization but many of its members strongly favor Cardinal Bernardin’s “seamless garment” approach to political issues.

He claimed there is “a lot less enthusiasm” because self-described progressive Catholics do not feel they have to worry now that Barack Obama is president.

Fr. William J. Byron, S.J., of St. Joseph University in Philadelphia, a member of the CACG’s board of directors, told the National Catholic Reporter “the money just wasn’t there” to continue major operations.

Also noting the lack of funds, Fr. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center, claimed that Republican-supporting Catholics are willing to finance their organizations but there is no comparable support for self-described progressive Catholic groups who want to address public policy issues.

He said that the Republican-oriented Susan B. Anthony List plans to spend $6 million on midterm elections this fall, while Democrat-leaning Catholic groups “don’t have the money or the manpower to have much effect.”

“We don’t have a Democratic Karl Rove who sees the importance of the Catholic vote for the Democratic Party and is willing to use his political muscle and his financial muscle to support a strategy that reaches out to Catholics,” the priest continued, referring to the Republican political strategist.

Because of non-profit rules, CACG could not engage in partisan political campaigning or lobbying. However, the groups Catholic Democrats and Catholics United can engage in such lobbying for their favored candidates.

The latter group has sought donations for a $500,000 campaign to back Catholic Democratic congressmen who backed the health care legislation passed earlier this year. Some of these candidates have been targeted by the Susan B. Anthony List, which sees their vote as a betrayal of pro-life principle.

Writing at InsideCatholic.com, Catholic commentator Deal Hudson responded critically to the claims that Republican Catholics were better funded. He said that for several decades Republican-leaning Catholics have tried to raise money for an “independent political effort” but none have made much progress and most “failed completely.”

“One decisive factor was lack of consistent funding.”

According to Hudson, the only successful recent Republican Catholic effort was the one he headed as chair of Catholic outreach for George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns. He claimed this effort was able to raise money only because it was attached to the Republican National Committee (RNC) in 2000 and to the administration of a sitting president in 2004.

“Karl Rove had asked me originally to create an independent Catholic group in 2000, but I couldn't find the willing donors,” he reported, saying that Rove has “moved on” and likely expects Catholics who are Republicans to continue their work on their own.

Responding to Fr. Reese’s comments about the financial backing for Catholic Republicans would have been “exactly right” if he were talking about evangelical Republicans. He also noted that the Susan B. Anthony List is not a Catholic organization but “pro-life and pro-family.”

In Hudson’s view, Fr. Reese’s claims about Karl Rove’s involvement would have been relevant ten or six years ago but not today.

Republican-leaning Catholics are “struggling to find funding just as much as our ‘progressive’ counterparts, and, what’s more, we don’t get a penny from George Soros or organized labor,” Hudson commented at InsideCatholic.com.

Tax records show that the Open Society Institute, founded by the atheist billionaire financier George Soros, gave at least $150,000 to CACG four years ago. The AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the group. So too has the Heinz Family Foundation, which is headed by 2004 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s wife Teresa Heinz-Kerry.

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British ad regulator bans ice cream ad with pregnant nun

London, England, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA) - With the papal visit to the U.K. about to begin, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of Great Britain has banned an ice cream ad showing a heavily pregnant nun in church.

The magazine ad for Antonio Frederici ice cream shows the pregnant nun holding a tub of ice cream in one hand and a spoon in the other. Its text reads “Immaculately Conceived ... Ice cream is our religion.”

According to a report on the ASA website, 10 readers challenged that the ad was “offensive to Christians, particularly those who practiced Catholicism.”

The ice cream maker claimed the ad’s idea of “conception” represented the development of their ice cream. Defending the ad, the company said its decision to use religious imagery “stemmed from their strong feelings towards their product.” They also said they wished to comment upon and question “the relevance and hypocrisy of religion and the attitudes of the church to social issues” by using “satire and gentle humor.”

“They believed that, as a form of art and self-expression, advertising should be challenging and often iconoclastic,” the ASA said.

According to the report, the publishers of The Lady magazine received eight direct complaints. The publishers said in hindsight it had been a misjudgment to publish the ad. Expressing regret about the offense caused to readers, they said they would not publish the ad or anything similar in the future.

The editor of The Lady is Rachel Johnson, the sister of the London Mayor, The Daily Mail reports.

The fashion magazine Grazia said they considered the ad’s intentions to be “lighthearted” and not “mocking.” They commented that their editorial content encouraged “debate and questioning” and so they did not believe the ad was likely to cause serious offense to readers.

The ASA concluded that the image of a nun “pregnant through immaculate conception” was likely to be seen as a distortion or mockery of Catholic beliefs and likely to cause “serious offence” to readers, particularly Catholics.

The Immaculate Conception is the Catholic dogma that the Virgin Mary was freed from sin at her conception. The dogma is often wrongly confused with the Virgin Birth of Christ.

Recently the advertising regulator approved the television advertising of condoms before 9 p.m., The Daily Mail reports. Last month it rejected complaints from those who thought that a television ad for Marie Stopes clinics was promoting abortion services.

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Pope calls UK back to Christian roots in light of 'aggressive' secularism

Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Benedict XVI has called the United Kingdom to draw from its "Christian foundation" as it addresses the challenges of the modern day. He expressed hope that society would continue to respect the traditional values and cultural expressions which are no longer valued or tolerated by "more aggressive forms of secularism."

The Pope arrived to the Queen's Edinburgh residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, to festive traditional bagpipe music on the first morning of his U.K. visit. In his first official address of the four-day tour, the Holy Father spoke to members of the monarchy and the Scottish parliament, and even briefly to British media, about working for the good of society.

Recalling the U.K.'s history of "deep Christian roots," including work done by the monarchy and figures such as Florence Nightingale and Cardinal John Henry Newman, the Pope noted that the Christian message has been "an integral part of the language, thought and culture" of the people for a millennium.

"Your forefathers' respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike."

He then recalled the role of the British in standing against Nazi tyranny, spreading peace in post-World War II Europe and resolving the conflict in Northern Ireland. Specifically referring to the British opposition to Nazism and its goal to "eradicate God from society," the Holy Father urged the faithful not to forget how "exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and society and thus to a 'reductive vision of the person and his destiny'."

Noting the U.K.'s political and economic influence on the international stage as "shapers of ideas," he told them that it is their "particular duty" to act for the common good of the world, with wisdom.

He called out British media specifically on this point, saying that they have "a graver responsibility than most and a great opportunity to promote the peace of nations, the integral development of peoples and the spread of authentic human rights."

Some voices in the British media have been particularly harsh towards the Pope leading up to the trip, particularly citing the cost of his visit to the U.K. public and his teachings as points of contention.

Wishing for the people's continued perpetuation of the values that have earned the U.K. international esteem, the Pope concluded his speech with words of hope for Great Britain as it takes on the "challenging enterprise" of becoming a "modern and multicultural society."

He asked that "it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate.

"Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms," he said, "and may that patrimony, which has always served the nation well, constantly inform the example your government and people set before the two billion members of the Commonwealth and the great family of English-speaking nations throughout the world."

To read the Pope's full address, visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/unitedkingdom10/resource.php?res_id=1438

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Priests have been 'worse' than silent on contraception, says canon law expert

New York City, N.Y., Sep 16, 2010 (CNA) - Adding to Vatican analyst Sandro Magister's recent commentary on the issue of widespread contraception use among Catholics today, a noted canon law expert told CNA that the silence and even contradiction of some clergy regarding Church teaching on the issue is “incontestable.”
 
On Sept. 8 in the Chiesa section of the Italian newspaper L'Espresso, analyst Sandro Magister highlighted a recent book that shows a link between the usage of contraception among Catholics in the early 20th century and the silence of clergy in presenting Church teachings on the subject. Reasons cited for Catholic use of birth control were the permissiveness of priests in the confessional as well as clergy refraining from speaking openly on the subject.
 
In a follow up piece on Wednesday, Magister delved more deeply into the role of priests in addressing the issue during confession, also touching on the responsibility Catholics have to form their consciences.
 
CNA contacted canon law expert Fr. Gerald Murray, a priest in the Archdiocese of New York, who gave his insight into the controversial topic in an e-mail on Sept. 15.
 
When asked if he believes that silence on the part of clergy today on contraception has in fact contributed to Catholics’ use of it, Fr. Murray said “yes.”
 
“Even worse,” he continued, “it is incontestable that some clergy have contradicted Humanae Vitae and have stated that contraceptive use is not sinful.”
 
“So there is confusion among the faithful,” the priest asserted. “It would be good for the bishops of the United States to speak more often about the grave sinfulness of contraceptive use and encourage both generosity in receiving more children into our families, and the use of Natural Family Planning, not artificial contraceptives, to postpone pregnancy for serious reasons.”
 
Fr. Murray then offered clarity on the subject of how the issue of contraception should be broached in the confessional.
 
“If someone confesses that he or she has used some form of contraception, that ordinarily means that he or she knows such actions were sinful and that they wish to be forgiven this sin,” he noted. “The priest should first tell the penitent to thank God for the grace to make this good confession. He should then help the penitent to arrive at a firm resolution to avoid such sins in the future.”
 
“He should encourage the penitent to pray more, to receive Holy Communion frequently, to confess regularly even when the penitent only has venial sins to confess. He should also recommend that the person learn about Natural Family Planning in the case of a penitent who is married or is preparing for marriage.”
 
When asked he thinks there are mitigating factors for Catholics who contracept and whether or not a delicate approach is necessary on the part of priests, Fr. Murray responded, “a delicate approach is always necessary when hearing confessions.”
 
“But a delicate approach does not mean moral relativism which would subvert God's law by calling contraceptive use not a sin,” Fr. Murray underscored. “Church teaching on the gravity of artificial contraception is clear and binding on all. If the penitent confesses this sin, the priest must never contradict the moral law under the guise of pastoral charity. The repentant sinner needs to be encouraged to leave sin behind.”
 
“We should also remember the timeless maxim for priests in the confessional: 'Qui excusat non accusat,'” he added. This translates to “He who forgives does not accuse.”
 
“It is not for the priest to question the penitent about contraceptive use if that subject has not been brought up,” Fr. Murray said. “An exception to this is the case where an adult penitent asks for help in confessing, as in the case of someone who has been away from the sacrament for a long time.”
 
“Note that the priest may himself offer to help the penitent with the examination of conscience if such assistance seems to be called for. But the priest cannot require such an examination against the will of the penitent.”

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Benedict XVI admits 'shock' at sexual abuses, says healing for victims is top priority

Aboard the papal plane, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope has expressed his "shock” and "great sadness" due to sexual abuses by members of clergy. Victims of abuse must be given priority as the Church takes on pedophilia, he said, and perpetrators must be "excluded" from access to children.

The Holy Father addressed abuse in the Church during an in-flight press conference as he traveled from Rome to Edinburgh, Scotland on Thursday morning. Speaking to about 70 reporters, writers and photographers, the Pope answered several questions.

Included among them was one reporter's question about how trust in the Church might be reestablished after a recent poll was released showing that U.K. faithful are struggling to view the Church in a positive light.

"First of all," said the Pope, "I must say that these revelations were a shock for me, they are a great sadness. It's difficult to understand how these perversions of the priestly ministry were possible."

He said that it is "hard to understand" how someone can "fall into this perversion" after years of priestly preparation and despite having agreed to be Christ's "voice, His mouth, His hand" at his ordination.

It is, he repeated, a "great sadness."

Pope Benedict also expressed "sadness" at the lack of action by some Church authorities who were "not sufficiently vigilant or sufficiently fast (or) decisive enough to take the necessary measures."

It is for these reasons that the Church is now observing a moment of peace, humility and renewed sincerity, he explained, referring to his words from the Letter to Irish Catholics released earlier this year to guide the faithful after widespread abuses were confirmed in the country.

Now, he insisted, is "a time of penance, a time of humility, to renew and relearn in absolute sincerity."

The victims of the abuses, he added with urgency, must be aided to help overcome this "trauma" and find their lives and their trust in God's message again. "Healing and commitment ... is the first priority, with psychological and spiritual help," he said.

The Pope also explained that measures must be taken to keep perpretators, who he said have "a sickness," away from children and also to "protect them from themselves." To ensure protection of children, he added, better formation and prevention measures must be implemented and upheld.

Concluding his answer to the question, he applauded the bishops of the U.K. for their cooperation with the Holy See and civil entities in their fight against abuse, saying that he is "very grateful" to them for their commitment to protecting young people.

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Theologian calls papal trip to UK a ‘courageous visit’

Madrid, Spain, Sep 16, 2010 (CNA) - Theologian Pablo Blanco of the University of Navarre in Spain commented this week that Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the United Kingdom is a “courageous visit” in which the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman “could be a sign of unity between Anglicans and Catholics.”

Blanco noted that as a German, the Pope is “visiting a country that has fought two wars against Germany in the 20th century  In addition, ambiguity about the papacy is part of the genetic makeup of this nation.”

“Neither can we forget the scandal of pedophile priests or the discomfort caused by some Anglicans who have voiced their desire to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.  All of these factors make this a courageous visit,” he said. 

Blanco recalled that the main purpose of the apostolic journey is the beatification of Cardinal Newman, an Anglican intellectual who converted to Catholicism. This event could be “a sign of unity between Anglicans and Catholics, as Newman is a giant for both churches,” he stated.

Benedict XVI has underscored “the great contribution of Cardinal Newman: the primacy he gives to conscience. For him, there was no contradiction between obedience to doctrine and following one’s conscience. Perhaps that is why he was so controversial in his time,” Blanco explained.

Regarding Christianity in the life of the United Kingdom, the Spanish theologian said a recent poll shows that “67 percent of adults think British society should preserve its Christian culture, and only eight percent oppose this idea.  This means that both Anglicans and Catholics intensely desire that England, Scotland and Wales maintain the Christian identity they have always had.”

Blanco, who will soon publish a new book titled, “Benedict XVI, The German Pope,” added, “The prestige of Catholics has grown in recent times in the United Kingdom, and the visit could strengthen the stability,” as well as the “open and cooperative image that Catholics today present.”

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