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Archive of September 20, 2010

Iowa Catholic Conference backs state effort to overturn same-sex 'marriage'

Des Moines, Iowa, Sep 20, 2010 (CNA) - The Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) announced on Monday its support for a move that would amend the Midwestern state's constitution to reverse the 2009 ruling that recognized same-sex “marriage” as legal.

A Sept. 20 press release from the ICC explained how every 10 years, Iowa voters have a chance to remake the state’s government through a constitutional convention. Although only 32 percent of voters called for the convention in 2000, numerous citizens are moving toward convening the constitution in 2010, given the Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex “marriage” last year.

“A ‘yes’ vote on this measure will allow Catholics and others to work for a marriage amendment to the Iowa constitution,” read the ICC statement. “This amendment would affirm the traditional understanding that marriage is a union of one man and one woman.”

“A basic test of policy is whether it supports or threatens human life and human dignity. From this, citizens and public officials alike must seriously consider matters related to the common good,” ICC added. “A Catholic ethic of life does not treat all issues as morally equivalent or reduce Catholic teaching to one or two issues.”

“As Catholics, we believe engaging in civic life is part of the mission Jesus Christ gives us,” the ICC underscored. “It is essential that we learn and take to heart the moral and social teachings of the Church and then apply these teachings to life in society.”

“The Church’s role, under our bishops’ leadership, is to help us form our consciences to make sound moral judgments.”

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Child protection chair: Benedict XVI made objective clear

Birmingham, England, Sep 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

In the first ever meeting of its kind, the Holy Father told U.K. child safeguarding workers that they are an important part of the Church's response to the problem of child sex abuse. The national chair of the protection commission said the Pope made it "very clear" that the Church needs to work to better protect children and support victims.

On Saturday, after a morning meeting with five victims of clerical sex abuse at the nunciature, the Holy Father later met for the first time ever with a delegation of child safeguarding professionals. At St. Peter's home for the elderly in London, he held an audience with Bill Killgallon, Chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission in England and Wales and seven colleagues representing parish, diocesan and national levels of the organization.

According to a statement released by the Holy See, Pope Benedict told them: "It is deplorable that, in such marked contrast to the Church’s long tradition of care for them, children have suffered abuse and mistreatment at the hands of some priests and religious. We have all become much more aware of the need to safeguard children, and you are an important part of the Church’s broad-ranging response to the problem."

During a Sunday briefing with media, Mr. Killgallon recounted that the Pope was "interested" in the fact that all dioceses and religious orders in England and Wales subscribe to a single set of policies. The chair described his further interest to know that there is a representative in every parish, professional staff and a commission in every diocese and a national commission formed of a majority of lay people along with Church representatives.

The commission, founded two years ago from a framework put in place in 2001, sets the policies that are enforced in the dioceses and religious orders and monitors their implementation.

In this model, said Killgallon, the Pope was "particularly positive" about the fact that the commission immediately involves statutory authorities, that is, police and social services, anytime there is an allegation in the Church. He was also "impressed" at the independence of the system which lends to prevention and immediate investigation if cases arise.

Reflecting on the Pope's strong words concerning sex abuse of minors on several occasions during the first three days of the visit, Killgallon said he "made it very clear that the Church should respond better and the particular challenge that he gave to the Church in this visit was to respond better to the victims of abuse and to give better support."

While no organization in the world can exclude the possibility that abuse might happen, he added, "(e)very organization, the Church included, should be determined to have the strongest possible checks in place and the strongest possible procedures against abuse when it occurs."

Killgallon said the Pope made it "very clear" that he supported them in their work.

Later on Sunday, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told reporters that a specific meeting for safeguarders is "a step forward" for approaching the problem. "It's a message," he said, "a positive message that can be done to encourage the engagement to avoid these crimes, to renew the engagement of the church in a very positive way."

The Pope, he concluded, "encouraged and appreciated" the direction the Church is taking in the United Kingdom.

Later, in speaking to all of the U.K.'s bishops, Pope Benedict said that the "shameful abuse" of young people "seriously undermines the credibility of the Church," applauded them on the "serious steps" they have taken to confront the problem and invited them to share their knowledge with the rest of society.

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Holy Father recalls spiritual gifts of recently beatified mother superior

London, England, Sep 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Before Sunday's Angelus, the Pope spoke of two Marys, recalling the beatification of a Spanish religious sister and noting the "filial devotion" of Blessed John Henry Newman to the Mother of God.

The Holy Father prayed the Angelus on Sunday from Cofton Park, near Birmingham, England, after the celebration of Cardinal John Henry Newman's beatification Mass.

He first acknowledged that he was "pleased" with Saturday's beatification in Spain of the former mother superior of the Seville, Spain-based Sisters of the Company of the Cross, Madre María de la Purísima de la Cruz. Benedict XVI expressed hope that the new blessed might inspire "young women to follow her example of single-minded love of God and neighbor."

According to Spain's El Mundo newspaper, the beatification was attended by 45,000 people, with 30 bishops and 600 priests concelebrating. The head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, presided over the Mass and remembered Blessed Mary in his homily as an "athlete of holiness," that represents "a glorious page" in the order's history, "a page that should be read, admired and imitated."

Before the Angelus, the Pope went on to remember Blessed Newman's love of another Mary, Jesus' mother, saying that "in so many ways, he lived his priestly ministry in a spirit of filial devotion to the Mother of God."

Citing the blessed's words about Mary's role in bringing about God's salvific plan, he asked: "Who can estimate the holiness and perfection of her, who was chosen to be the Mother of Christ? What must have been her gifts, who was chosen to be the only near earthly relative of the Son of God, the only one whom He was bound by nature to revere and look up to; the one appointed to train and educate Him, to instruct Him day by day, as He grew in wisdom and in stature?"

Benedict XVI said, "It is on account of those abundant gifts of grace that we honor her, and it is on account of that intimacy with her divine Son that we naturally seek her intercession for our own needs and the needs of the whole world."

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West ends sabbatical with new show, says critics are on 'religious right'

Colorado Springs, Colo., Sep 20, 2010 (CNA) - Christopher West, the popular author and speaker whose presentation of Pope John Paul II's “Theology of the Body” has provoked controversy, returned from a six-month sabbatical with a new multimedia show this past weekend. Maintaining that his goal is to correct common misconceptions of Christianity, West added that he is most often criticized by members of “the religious right.”

His Sept. 18 show, titled “Fill These Hearts: God, Sex and the Universal Longing,” was a collaboration with the young folk-rock group Mike Mangione & The Union. West's teaching was also illustrated visually through film and sand paintings. The show was initially developed for Sydney's World Youth Day in 2008, and performed earlier this year in New York City.

The performance at Colorado Springs' Pikes Peak Center this past Saturday was West's first public appearance since his announcement of a six-month break in April. His “personal and professional” sabbatical followed a spate of critical comments from Catholic theologians and authors, such as Dr. Alice von Hildebrand and David Schindler, who claimed that West was ignoring the weakness of human nature and presenting an overly sexualized vision of Christianity.

West was also criticized for comparing Pope John Paul II to “Playboy” founder Hugh Hefner in a 60 Minutes interview, a comparison he said was misconstrued in the television profile.

Speaking to the Colorado Springs Independent last week, West said that his motivation is not to offer a new Gospel, but “to blow the lid off the common idea of what Christianity teaches,” which he has described as puritanical and negative. “Christianity isn't an invitation to starve,” he explained, but rather “the invitation to a banquet that really feeds the hunger.”

The show, he told the Independent, is “for everyone,” including non-Catholics and the non-religious, “because it's an appeal to the longing for love that every human being has.”

However, West acknowledged that “there will inevitably be some who are offended” by his non-traditional presentation of Catholic teaching on sexuality. He specifically singled out religious conservatives --a group with which he himself has been identified, by groups such as People For The American Way--as being the most offended by his talks.

“You'd probably be surprised as to who (the critics) are,” he told the Independent, saying that those offended by his presentations are “usually from the religious right.”

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Exorcist says Satan exists but without 'horns, wings or a tail'

Bogotá, Colombia, Sep 20, 2010 (CNA) - Spanish exorcist Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull stated in an interview last week that though Satan does indeed exist, he does not have “horns, wings or a tail.” The priest recommended that the faithful seek the counsel of a priest if they suspect someone is possessed.

Fr. Fortea is a priest and theologian who specializes in demonology and is now studying for his doctorate of theology in Rome

In an interview with the newspaper El Tiempo during his recent visit to Colombia, Fr. Fortea said, “The devil does not have a body, a color, or a visual form, nor does he have horns, wings or a tail.  He is an invisible, bodiless entity.” 

“Believing in God means believing in what he has said.  And he has spoken of the existence of the devil,” the priest remarked, recalling that “at the end of the 'Our Father' he warned, ‘Deliver us from evil’.”

Fr. Fortea then explained that though he has never seen a demon, he knows they exist, saying he has felt the presence of evil. “I have approached this like a scientist: even though I wear a habit, I am not void of reason.”

“On a certain number of occasions, alone at my house or other places, I have felt an evil presence.” He continued. “I would be lying if I did not acknowledge that I felt that evil presence in an intense and powerful way.”

The priest said that during one of these instances, his cat quickly scurried behind the curtains, staring at a particular spot in the room.

“It is not normal for a cat to hide, tremble and stare at a particular point,” he added.

“Although we tend to speak of the demon, in reality there are many demons, each one is different, but there is one who is head over all the demons, the most powerful one: Satan,” the priest continued.

Fr. Fortea went on to say, “Anyone who resorts to spiritism, witchcraft, or worse yet, Satanism, is in danger of being possessed.  That is the general norm, but there are cases that have no explanation, even if someone has not engaged in these practices.”

“When someone possessed receives an exorcism, it takes a reasonable amount of time for him or her to be liberated. A number of sessions are required. The devil resists because he knows he is condemned to leave,” he added.

Fr. Fortea said he does not feel “especially harassed, but reason does tell me that since he exists, the devil does have outstanding issues with me.”

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Church’s social teaching antidote to ideological brainwash, says Argentinean bishop

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 20, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata in Argentina remarked last week that the Church’s social teaching is the best antidote against the ideological brainwashing of young people, which has caused so much harm and suffering in the country.

The prelate also called for committed lay people to get involved in public life.

During the opening of the 1st Congress on the Social Doctrine of the Church, organized by the archdiocese’s social ministry office, the archbishop recalled that the task of the Church “is to serve in the formation of consciences, so that each generation may resume the fundamental task of building a just social order.”

He noted that the laity have the duty to participate in the building of a more just country in various professional fields, especially economics and politics. The archbishop emphasized that politics is an area “where we are missing the presence of upright Catholics well formed in their faith and in the Christian worldview.”

“It is precisely there, in a turbulent world sometimes suspect of politics where they need to make their contribution of piety to our country submerged in a process of decadence that at times seems irreparable.”

Thus the archbishop underscored the importance of the Church’s social doctrine. “The purpose of this teaching is to contribute to the purification of reason and to provide help so that what is just, here and now, can be recognized and later put into practice,” he said.

Benedict XVI, he noted, puts Catholic social teaching at the crossroads of faith and politics, “which has as its principal task the just order of society and of the state.

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Unknown assailants set fire to church in Colombia

Bogotá, Colombia, Sep 20, 2010 (CNA) - A group of unknown assailants set fire to the Church of the Transfiguration in Bogota, Colombia last Thursday, after the church’s pastor reported he received threats from Satanic groups.

Father Octavio Mora told reporters that in addition to the death threats, recently, the walls and doors of the church were spray painted with graffiti.

The attackers threw the wooden pews into a pile, tore down the PA system as well as the baptismal font, then set fire to the church before leaving.

According to Minuto30.com, parishioners “arrived for Mass at 7 a.m. to find the parish incinerated.”

Over 100 local residents marched in protest against the attack and demanded authorities arrest those responsible.

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Lay council reminds Venezuelans that Church has always rejected Communism

Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 20, 2010 (CNA) - The National Council of the Laity in Venezuela has called on Venezuelans to carefully consider each candidate and their positions as they prepare to vote for members of Congress on September 26.  The council stressed that the Church has always rejected totalitarian ideologies such as Communism.

“We must remember: The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheist ideologies associated with ‘Communism’ in the modern times,” the council said, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The elections for Venezuela’s National Assembly and for the representatives for the Latin American Parliament are an opportunity to exercise the right and duty to vote, which the Church’s social doctrine promotes, it continued.

The council then recalled John Paul II's words in “Centesimus Annus,” which said, “…it is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds. This is the principle of the 'rule of law,' in which the law is sovereign, and not the arbitrary will of individuals.”

The council stressed that authentic democracy “is more than the formal acceptance of a series of rules, it is also the convinced and active acceptance of values such as the dignity of the person, respect for human rights, the common good as the guiding objective and criteria of public life.”

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