Archive of September 23, 2010

Archbishop Wuerl named US contact for Anglican groups seeking to become Catholic

Washington D.C., Sep 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl will guide the incorporation of interested Anglican groups into the Catholic Church in the United States under the apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” a Vatican congregation has announced.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has named the archbishop as its delegate in this position, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports. Archbishop Wuerl also heads the U.S. bishops’ ad hoc committee that is assisting the CDF in implementing the apostolic constitution, which Pope Benedict XVI issued in November 2009.

“Anglicanorum Coetibus” is intended to provide for the establishment of personal ordinariates for Anglican groups who seek to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church as a group.

An ordinariate is a special type of jurisdiction under church law. It is a canonical structure similar to a diocese that covers the area of a bishops’ conference. The Anglican ordinariate allows Anglicans to be part of the Catholic Church while maintaining aspects of their Anglican heritage and liturgy.

Other members of the ad hoc committee are Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth, Texas and Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts.

The committee is assisted by Fr. Scott Hurd. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1993, joined the Catholic Church in 1996, and was ordained a Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Washington in 2000.

Fr. Hurd will assist Archbishop Wuerl and will be a liaison to the USCCB.

The two tasks of the ad hoc committee are to facilitate the implementation of “Anglicanorum Coetibus” in the U.S. and to assess the level of interest in an Anglican Ordinariate in the United States.

The USCCB says that interested Anglicans are asked to contact Archbishop Wuerl through the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Pro-life leader warns of activists claiming legalized abortion will save lives

Brasilia, Brazil, Sep 23, 2010 (CNA) - Father Berardo Graz, the coordinator of the Brazilian bishops’ Defense of Life Committee, recorded a video message this week criticizing the country's government for claiming that legalizing abortion will prevent thousands of maternal deaths.

Father Graz denied claims by the current government officials that the leading cause of maternal deaths in Brazil is illegal abortion.  The priest explained that roughly 400,000 women die in Brazil each year, with 1,500 due to pregnancy complications. 

Of these 1,500, he continued, “only 200 die from abortions.”

“And that’s without specifying the circumstances of the abortion, because among these 200, some women die from miscarriage” or complications such as ectopic pregnancies. “The truth is that the victims of illegal abortion are 100 or less,” the priest said.

“To say women have the right to kill their own children without considering it as an individual or another person is to go against nature,” he warned.

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Nebraska Catholic high school community mobilizes to win $500,000 prize

Lincoln, Neb., Sep 23, 2010 (CNA) - In an effort to finance a much needed kitchen for their facility, Nebraska's Pius X high school in Lincoln joined forces with the local community to win a nationwide contest for a cash prize of $500,000.

The Catholic high school finished in fourth place in Kohl's Cares online voting contest on Facebook, which donated $500,000 to the 20 schools nationwide receiving the most votes.

Michelle Birkel, development director for the Pius X Foundation and Pius X High School, told CNA in an e-mail on Sept. 23 that the efforts of the community in garnering votes for the school were far reaching and innovative.

“We sent out postcards to all parishioners in the Lincoln Diocese and all pastors helped spread the word and mobilized their parishioners to help out too,” she said. “We were amazed at the enthusiasm and effort from Pius Supports and even complete strangers.”

“Local businesses such as St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Lincoln let us come to their workplace to set up computers for employees to vote,” Birkel added. “Many local businesses offered rewards such as a jeans day for those employees who voted and they also helped spread the word via email to their customers.”

“Last year we received 4 mobile computer labs from some donors. These mobile computer carts can house about 15 laptops per cart. Thanks to our donors and these carts, we were able to take these laptops to colleges in Lincoln and Omaha.”

Traveling to six different colleges, “We had many volunteers who went with us to sign up students to vote for Pius.”

“Also when students came to Pius in August to sign up for lockers and to get their schedule, we set up these mobile computer labs in the cafeteria and had all students who had facebook, sign up,” Birkel said, adding that they also “had elderly people just stop by our school asking for help to vote.”

“I could go on and on with the stories,” she said.

“After the exciting finish, Pius faculty and students waited anxiously for two weeks for Kohl's Cares to review the results and declare them valid,” Birkel recalled. “Principal Tom Korta checked his messages hourly, eagerly anticipating the call.”

“Finally, on September 17th at about 10am, FedEx delivered the letter declaring Pius a winner. We announced this at a Student Assembly/Pep Rally on Friday and to all parents at the Homecoming football game that night.”
Birkel said that the prize money will be used for a much needed kitchen since for years now, the school's food services have been housed across the parking lot in building that is slated to be torn down.

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Spanish course violates international rights, warns UN consultant

Madrid, Spain, Sep 23, 2010 (CNA) - The director of the European Center for Law and Justice, Gregor Puppinck, told the U.N. Human Rights Commission this week that the school course Education for the Citizenry in Spain violates internationally recognized rights and must be corrected by the Spanish government.

Puppinck noted that the conflict created by Education for the Citizenry has led more than 50,000 parents to file for conscientious objection to exempt their children from the course.

He also noted that many lawsuits filed against the course have been upheld in Spanish courts.

Puppinck said the course poses a problem for freedom of conscience and that it is therefore necessary that the Human Rights Commission insist that the Spanish government take steps to correct the problem.

Leonor Tamayo, the spokesman for Professionals for Ethics, noted that the petition made by Puppinck marks “the first time that the Education for the Citizenry conflict in Spain has been put before a U.N. institution, which means it has unprecedented international repercussions.”

The European Center for Law and Justice, based in Strasbourg, France, is one of the entities representing more than 300 Spanish families in their lawsuit against the Spanish government filed before the European Human Rights Court.

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Minnesota archbishop explains importance of defending marriage

St. Paul, Minn., Sep 23, 2010 (CNA) - Minnesota's bishops have taken a new step to reach Catholics in their dioceses with the Church's teaching on marriage - by sending out copies of an educational DVD that reaffirms the unchangeable nature of marriage and opposes attempts at redefinition. Archbishop John Nienstedt spoke to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) on Wednesday about the issue's urgency and the bishops' reasons for speaking out.

“The bishops of the state have an obligation, by ordination, to be teachers,” the Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis told MPR's Tom Crann. “And we all know the state of marriage in our society today,” he continued, citing divorce rates of up to 50 percent, and recounting the exponential growth of fluid arrangements like cohabitation and unwed parenthood. “The state of marriage is not very healthy in our society.”

Archbishop Nienstedt indicated that attempts to redefine marriage contribute significantly to this already rapid breakdown of family structure throughout society. In such a perilous climate, he told MPR, it is especially urgent to affirm what marriage is –in his words, “a commitment for life, a life-giving commitment that is open to the procreation and the raising of children”-- and what it cannot be.

The archbishop's remarks to MPR this week expanded upon a previous statement he made in August,  when he explained that the redefinition of marriage by the state represented an overreaching effort by the government, to redefine an institution over which it had no such power.

Archbishop Nienstedt returned to that theme on Wednesday, reminding MPR that marriage “isn't something that we create as human beings.” Rather, marriage is “already a given,” ingrained in the “work of creation by almighty God.” The institutions that define human beings, he implied, are not themselves subject to redefinition by a vote.

He therefore described same-sex “marriage” as “a dangerous risk to society,” not only according to the dictates of Christian faith, but according to “what we call the natural law,” which “precedes any government.”

Rather than giving the name of “marriage” to virtually any kind of sexual arrangement, Archbishop Nienstedt argued, “government is meant to support marriage between a husband and a wife,” to provide social support for “the raising … and the protection of children.”

The prelate likewise reaffirmed the Church's opposition not only to same-sex “marriages,” but also to divorce, which he described as a “risk to our society today.” Divorce is also regarded by the Catholic Church as a serious violation of the natural law.

Asked whether the bishops' suggestion of a constitutional amendment defining marriage was strictly a “political statement,” Nienstedt said that in the context of the video it was simply an exercise of the bishops' authority to teach on matters of reason and faith.

“We need to remind our people,” he said, describing the bishops' mission in mailing the video, “what it is we believe, why it is we believe what we believe, and thirdly, why it's so important.”

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Ivory Coast forum to seek out Pope Benedict's 'New Pentecost for Africa'

Vatican City, Sep 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vatican dicasteries are promoting a new forum in western Africa to examine African identity and culture in light of recent development and globalization. Through the initiative, organizers hope to continue to recreate the Church and the world through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Addressing these aims, the Pontifical Council for Culture, collaborating with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, plans to host organize a forum in Abidjan, Ivory Coast in March 2011. The official focus of the encounter will be "Cultures, identities of peoples and development in Africa and the Black Diaspora."

The forum seeks principally to gauge the progress of African countries since many became independent 50 years ago and examine just how development and globalization have impacted the continent's peoples and cultures. According to the Council for Culture, in brief, it is "time for an analysis and course correction if necessary in the promotion and direction of 'development' in Africa."

The meeting will bring ecclesiastical, international and non-governmental organizations together to examine development strategies that remain centered on the human person. Organizers hope that the forum will also become a "permanent place of reflection, for concrete proposals for a cultural and educational engagement which will promote a subject concerned with 'development' in Africa."

"Decisive importance" is being put on beginning these reflections together with pastors and theologians of Africa, according to the organizing Vatican dicasteries, because the "Church is convinced that all development begins and centers around the Gospel message."

In this sense, the forum also seeks to promote "serious debate on 'Development and Culture'" in the vein of last October's Synod for Africa, during which Pope Benedict XVI spoke of a "New Pentecost for Africa."

In his reflection for the first general congregation of the 2009 Synod, the Holy Father asked for prayers for a new Pentecost, "that the Lord may bring about the outpouring of his Spirit now and recreate his Church and the world."

The first preparatory meeting for the international encounter will be held in the Ivory Coast next week.

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Two days of celebrations planned for soon-to-be blessed teenager

Rome, Italy, Sep 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Chiara "Luce" Badano, who showed great faith during her short life, will be beatified this weekend. Her parents and thousands of young people from Italy and across the globe are expected in Rome to celebrate her life and holiness.

Chiara was born in the town of Sassello, Italy in 1971. Brought up Catholic, she later became a member of the Focolare movement and, although stricken by bone cancer which paralyzed her legs and later took her life, lived the Gospel message, exuding a love for God and life throughout.

She is remembered for her repeated prayer amidst the trials: "If you will it, Jesus, so do I."

The beatification rite will be celebrated by Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, at Rome's Sanctuary of Divine Love. Thousands of pilgrims are expected to join in the celebration, many being members of the Focolare movement who are now arriving from as far away as Hong Kong.

The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli will concelebrate along with bishops from several countries and over 100 priests. Her parents and her bishop, who first provided the impetus for her cause for canonization, will also be present for the ceremony.

Later on that evening, a celebration will be held in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, where the Pope often hosts his Wednesday general audiences, during which three elements of Chiara's time on earth will be highlighted: Life, Love and Light.

EWTN will provide broadcasting from this location.

On the next morning, Sept. 26, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone will preside over Mass at St. Paul's Outside-the-walls in thanksgiving for the beatification. At the conclusion of the Mass, the participants will await a live telecast from Castel Gandolfo of the Angelus, during which they expect the Pope to recognize the newly declared blessed.

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Defense of life, family and human rights fundamental in elections, say Peruvian bishops

Lima, Peru, Sep 23, 2010 (CNA) - The Peruvian Bishops’ Conference released a statement yesterday reminding voters that in order to cast an informed and responsible vote they must take into account the ethical dimension of the candidates.

In their statement, the bishops underscored that “the social doctrine of the Church teaches that in order to discern what is most just and appropriate for achieving the common good, the primacy of the human person must be taken into account, the fundamental rights of the family must be guaranteed and promoted, the weakest in society must be included … and the exercise of authority must be considered a service and not domination.”

After underscoring the importance of voter participation and the analysis of the agenda of those running for public office, the bishops said, “The ethical and moral vision of the candidates regarding fundamental values such as the defense of human life, the family, marriage, the dignity of women and human rights must be taken into account as  the future of the country demands” ethics to bring about “the support and changes our society needs.”

The bishops also exhorted the media to seek the truth in their reporting out of justice and concern for the common good, respecting the privacy of individuals. They also urged candidates for office to carry out their campaigns with respect and decency.

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Pope 'could not say no' to Anglican inquiries, recalls Archbishop Koch

Vatican City, Sep 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The head of the Vatican's department for Christian unity said that with the new Anglican ordinariate, Pope Benedict is merely opening the door, to those "who knock." Reflecting on the recent trip to the U.K., he added that the possible mass conversions are not an impediment to the continued dialogue between the Anglican and Catholic Churches.

In an interview published in Wednesday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano (LOR), Archbishop Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity spoke of the "great success" of the Pope's trip to the U.K. and answered some questions raised by the existence of the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus."

Archbishop Koch's presence in the papal party, as just one of just a dozen of the closest Vatican advisors to accompany the Holy Father for the entirety of the trip, is a testament to the importance that was put on unity within the visit's scope.

The archbishop pointed out in the interview that there was great emphasis on ecumenism during the visit. It was evident, he said, in the fact that in each of Benedict XVI's 18 discourses he called European faithful "continuously back to the Christian roots of the continent."

Recalling the “touching” moments of communion between the Catholic and Anglican Churches during the trip, he also conceded that there are still problems. "They exist," he said, "certainly, but with the strong awareness that it is absolutely necessary to work into the future and continue dialogue, which has already brought fruits.”

Anglican bishops approached Archbishop Koch at various points in the trip to tell him that they are "content" with how this dialogue is progressing, adding that they are "truly seeking unity," he recalled.

Asked if the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus," has been an obstacle on the road to unity, the archbishop immediately clarified that the Anglican ordinariate was offered as "a response of the Pope to explicit requests in this sense."

The "Anglicanorum coetibus" was published a year ago in November by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to provide special guidelines for the possible conversion of groups of Anglicans to full unity with the Catholic Church.

"I repeat," he insisted to LOR, "there were requests by Anglicans to recover the Catholic Church and the Pontiff could not say no."

What differentiates these requests from others in the past, he explained, is that they involve a number of people rather than single individuals. While Cardinal John Henry Newman came alone, "now it's about groups that want to enter the Catholic Church with their pastors and maybe with bishops," he said.

"It's a great gesture by Benedict XVI, which opens the door to (he) who knocks. But," Archbishop Koch added, "this does not change anything in the dialogue, which must continue."

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Vatican newspaper: Bank trouble could be resolved quickly

Rome, Italy, Sep 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The "misunderstanding" that led to the investigation of the Vatican's bank "could be clarified simply and quickly" by consulting its internal controls. According to the Vatican's semi-official L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) newspaper, no transfer was made without "strict" compliance with the rules in force in Italy.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the Holy See's Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), its president and director general were under investigation by Italian authorities for possible money laundering. Transfer orders were apparently made through an Italian bank without proper observation of the country's current diclosure laws.

In an editorial published on Thursday, the Vatican newspaper defended the transparency of IOR operations.

LOR reported that since the beginning of the year, the "Vatican Bank" and the Bank of Italy have been working closely to adapt their procedures to stricter new laws, which came into effect in 2007 in Italy. As part of compliance efforts, a new financial information office was formed within the IOR under the leadership of Cardinal Attilio Nicora.

Through these measures, the bank, continued the editorial, is in "constant collaboration" with the European Union and other important international economic and financial entities such as the OECD and FATF-GAFI which work to ensure certain standards in the field.

The LOR also explained that the Vatican has submitted documentation for the Holy See's inclusion among anti-money laundering collaboration States and, to achieve full adaptation to accepted norms, a commission also headed by Cardinal Nicora was formed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone.

According to the Vatican newspaper, the Bank of Italy is "well informed" that "(t)he administration of the IOR has long been committed ... to adapting its informational structures to the rules in force (for) the fight against money laundering." The IOR, it was explained, wishes to be "on the same line" as the Italian banks on this theme.

Considering this information, the operations currently under investigation "could be clarified simply and quickly," according to the LOR. The transfers in question, they reported, were only "treasury operations" between IOR accounts at various banks.

IOR president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi explained to the Italian daily, "Il Giornale," on Wednesday that a transfer was made from an IOR account at the Italian bank "Credito Artigiano" to another IOR account at JP Morgan in Germany for the purchase of German bonds.

"The trouble," observes the LOR newsaper, "was caused by a misunderstanding, (which is) in the process of being clarified, between the IOR and the bank that had received the transfer order." The paper expressed "certainty" that nothing was done without "strict observation" of the rules dictated by the Bank of Italy.

A statement from Fr. Federico Lombardi released by the Holy See's Press Office on Thursday, reiterated the LOR's argument, seeking to "clarify matters in order to avoid the spread of inaccurate information and to ensure that no damage is caused to the activities of the Institute or the good name of its managers."


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Scottish bishops express gratitude to participants and organizers of papal visit

Glasgow, United Kingdom, Sep 23, 2010 (CNA) - Speaking for the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien and Archbishop of Glasgow Mario Conti expressed their “heartfelt gratitude to all who made the visit of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to our country such a happy and memorable day.” The letter expressed appreciation for “months of hard work” on the part of “countless agencies and thousands of individuals.”

“To all of the people of our beloved Scotland, who made the successor of Peter an honorary Scot for the day, we say: 'Thank you from the bottom of our heart'.”

Both the cardinal and the archbishop expressed special gratitude to Queen Elizabeth II, whose visit with Pope Benedict at her Scottish residence of Holyrood Palace was considered a historic highlight of the trip. They also praised the support of the U.K. government, the Scottish government, and city administrations of Edinburgh and Glasgow, for their cooperation in the official state visit.

A total of 200,000 people turned out to see the Pope during his single day in Scotland, September 16. Cardinal O'Brien and Archbishop Conti noted the contributions of police, emergency and health workers to the security and safety of the massive event, as well as the transport providers and event managers of the Pope's open-air Mass in Bellahouston Park.

They described Scottish press coverage of Pope Benedict's visit as “very positive,” grounded in a desire to convey the Pope's message to the Scottish people.

Finally, they gave thanks to people in all quarters of the Church whose efforts had made the visit a success: “all the priests, deacons, religious and lay people who helped plan and support the visit,” particularly pilgrimage leaders, teachers who accompanied pupils to see the Pope, and other volunteers who worked on the day of the visit.

“In a special way,” the cardinal and archbishop noted, “we wish to thank the members of other churches and faith communities who joined us in welcoming the Holy Father to Scotland.” They described the visit as an important reminder to “all those watching, that the Catholic faith in Scotland lives and flourishes even in these often faithless times.”

“The planning, preparation and forethought which went into each step of this Apostolic journey were quite immense,” they stated, “and it is thanks to the contributions of so many that the day was such a resounding success … of which all Scotland can be proud.”


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Obama administration using faith-based groups to rally support, spread health care information

Washington D.C., Sep 23, 2010 (CNA) - President Obama and administration officials are rallying religious leaders to “spread the word” on new health care legislation to reinforce public support and to raise awareness about the effects of new insurance reforms.

In a Tuesday conference call, President Obama told various religious leaders, “Get out there and spread the word.”

“This is something that we’ll be able to look back on, just like we do on Medicare and Social Security, as a cornerstone that improves the security of millions of Americans,” the president commented, saying the changes lower costs at the government level and for families and businesses.

President Obama told faith leaders to treat the new law as settled fact and to use their influence to convey that message to congregants, Politico reports.

“The debate in Washington is over, the Affordable Care Act is now law ... I think all of you can be really important validators and trusted resources for friends and neighbors, to help explain what’s now available to them,” President Obama continued.

Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Partnerships, told call participants to use the resources described in the call, including a website, door hangers and single-page information sheets.

“We’ve got work to do,” commented DuBois, who also explained the “Patients’ Bill of Rights” to be implemented on Thursday.

The organization People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO) is reportedly planning to distribute 50,000 door hangers in lower-income communities within the next two weeks. PICO regularly meets with the administration and last week participated in an HHS-run call for faith-based groups.

Participants in the conference call with President Obama included National Council of Churches president Peg Chemberlin. She told Politico that there has been some discussion about “the best way” to publicize information on the health care law.

An administration official told Politico that the administration believes community- and faith-based groups can help government action on health care.

"They are reaching people every day in churches, synagogues, mosques, and secular organizations. They can spread the word about these things," the official said.

Other Obama administration participants in the Tuesday conference call were Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, White House Office of Health Reform director Nancy-Ann DeParle, and Assistant to the President for Special Products Stephanie Cutter.

The Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based and Community Partnerships organized the conference call. The director of the center is Alexia Kelley, a co-founder of the Democratic-leaning group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG).

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and many other religious pro-life advocates opposed the 2010 health care legislation on the grounds that it provided inadequate restrictions on abortion funding.

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Archbishop reminds Brazilians that elections will determine future of country

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sep 23, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro reminded Brazilians this week that the October 3 elections will determine the future path of the country. He then called on the faithful remember the defense of life as well as the respect for religious freedom and human dignity when going to the polls.

“The country that we desire with our vote will be the one that we get,” the archbishop said in a recent article.  As baptized persons, “We participate in the prophetic mission of Christ, through which the Kingdom of God, of Justice, of the Truth, of Love and of Peace should be established,” he continued.

“This prophetic voice demands vigilance and continual participation in the reality in which we live, which unfortunately is tainted with many anti-values and interests that unleash violence and injustice,” the archbishop stated.

“We must take into account policies that address the needs of all without distinction, especially a free country that respects all citizens and in which we know we are brothers and sisters,” he added.

Archbishop Tempesta reiterated his call to the faithful to analyze which candidates have platforms that defend: “the dignity of the human person and life in all its stages and manifestations, as well as the family according to God’s plan, freedom of education and of religion in schools, solidarity with particular concern for the poor and excluded, respect for subsidiarity and the commitment to building a culture of peace at all levels.”

The elections of October 3, he added, are “a great opportunity that Catholics and all people of good will cannot lose.”

“May Our Lady of Aparecida intercede for all the Catholic faithful that they vote responsibly and in accord with the deepest Christian traditions that make up the conscience and identity of the Brazilian people,” the archbishop concluded.

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