Archive of October 20, 2010

Pope announces names of 24 new cardinals for a November consistory

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI named two dozen new cardinals, including two from the United States: Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, a top Vatican official, and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. The new cardinals will be installed in a special consistory to be held at the Vatican, Nov. 20.

The Pope made his announcement Oct. 20 at the conclusion of his weekly Wednesday general audience. “The universality of the church is reflected in the list of new cardinals,” he said. More than a dozen countries are represented by the new cardinals, including four from African countries, two from Latin America, two from North America, and one representing Asia.

Among the new cardinals, 20 are under the age of 80 and are hence eligible to vote in the case of a papal election; four of the new cardinals are over that age and will not be eligible to vote.

With the new additions, the College of Cardinals now has 203 members, 121 of which are eligible to vote for a new Pope should the opportunity arise.

Among those receiving the cardinal’s “red hat,” are the 10 current Vatican Vatican officials:

Archbishop Angelo Amato (Italian), prefect of the congregation for the Causes of Saints;

Archbishop Robert Sarah (Guinean), president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, which oversees the Vatican's charity activities;

Archbishop Velasio De Paolis (Italian), president of prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See;

Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli (Italian), of the Vatican’s Major Penitentiary;

Archbishop Paolo Sardi (Italian), of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta;

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi (Italian), president of the Pontifical Council for Culture;

Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke (American), prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, a top Vatican tribunal;

Archbishop Kurt Koch (Swiss), president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity;

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza (Italian) prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

The remaining new cardinals of voting age are:

Patriarch Antonios Naguib, (Egyptian), of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt;

Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, (Italian), archpriest at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls;

Archbishop Medardo Joseph Mazombwe (Zambian) of Lusaka;

Archbishop Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga (Ecuadorian) of Quito;

Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (Democratic Republic of Congo) of Kinshasa;

Archbishop Paolo Romeo (Italian) of Palermo, Italy;

Archbishop Donald William Wuerl (American) of Washington;

Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis (Brazilian) of Aparecida;

Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz (Polish) of Warsaw;

Archbishop Albert Malcom Ranjith Patabendige Don (Sri Lankan) of Colombo;

Archbishop Reinhard Marx (German) of Munich and Freising.

Cardinals over 80 years old include:

Msgr. Jose' Manuel Estepa Llaurens (Spanish), military ordinary of Spain;

Msgr. Elio Sgreccia (Italian), president-emeritus of the Pontifical Academy of Life;

Msgr. Walter Brandmuller (German), president-emeritus of the Pontifical Commission of Historical Sciences;

Msgr. Domenico Bartolucci (Italian), former director of the Sistine Chapel Choir.

Cardinals are considered within the Church to be the Pope's closest advisors. All belong to the College of Cardinals, the body whose main function is to elect a new Pontiff. Cardinals under 80 years of age are allowed to vote in such an election, while those over 80 can serve only in the capacity of counselors. Traditionally, the number of voting-age cardinals is kept at 120, while the total number of cardinals -- including the non-voting cardinals -- has no specific limit.
This is to be the third time the Pope has called a consistory to create new cardinals. With the cardinals he has previously named in March 2006 and Nov. 2007, he has now named 62, or more than half, of the current College of Cardinals. The consistory will be held in the Sistine Chapel on the Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 20. Pope Benedict will concelebrate Mass with the new cardinals the following day at St. Peter's Basilica.

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American cardinal-designates men of different styles

Rome, Italy, Oct 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The two new American cardinal-designates are men of the Church with impressive pastoral pedigrees but decidedly different pastoral styles.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Oct. 20 selection of Archbishops Raymond L. Burke and Donald D. Wuerl had been widely predicted by Vatican analysts. Archbishop Wuerl is the head of the Church in the nation’s capital, a position that traditionally has earned a cardinal’s rank. Archbishop Burke is the head of the most important tribunal in the Vatican, the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s supreme court. 

Cardinal-designate Burke, 62, is widely known for emphasizing the importance of a distinctive Catholic identity and for advocating a bold Catholic witness in American public life. First as bishop of La Crosse, Wisc., where he served from 1995-2003, and later as Archbishop of St. Louis, where he served from 2003-2008, he spoke out frequently about Catholic obligations on crucial moral issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

In both the 2004 and 2008 U.S. election campaigns, he stated that Catholic politicians who advocate legalized abortion should not present themselves for communion.

He made headlines again recently in Rome for a stirring speech in which he called for the public “repentance” of Catholic politicians who support political positions that are immoral and at odds with the Church.

"It is not possible to be a practicing Catholic and conduct oneself publicly in this manner," he said in an Oct. 14 address to Human Life International, he decried “cafeteria Catholicism,” or the bad habit of some to pick and choose which of the Church’s teachings to obey.

Cardinal-designate Wuerl, 69, spent a decade in Rome as secretary secretary to Cardinal John Wright, then-head of the Congregation for Clergy, Rome, 1969-79. He is noted for his emphasis on catechesis and Catholic education and is the author of numerous books. On the day before his appointment as cardinal, Archbishop Wuerl, a former seminary rector, announced plans to open a new seminary in Washington.

Since being installed in Washington in 2006, Cardinal-designate Wuerl has been a strong voice for the Church’s teachings on abortion and gay marriage. Last year, he challenged a new District of Columbia marriage law that mandated local organizations to provide spousal benefits for same-sex couples. He fought unsuccessfully for an exemption for Catholic institutions and was forced to shut down some operations of Catholic Charities and to end health benefits to Charities’ employees rather than comply with the law.

On the question of excommunicating Catholic politicians, he has taken a different approach from Archbishop Burke.

Archbishop Wuerl made headlines in Jan. 2007 when he opted not to intervene regarding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's participation in a Mass at her alma mater of Trinity Washington University despite her open support of abortion, embryonic research, and same-sex marriage.

Asked to do so as he participated in the same Mass, he refused, explaining later that he found it to be "a matter between the university and Nancy" and that the approach differed from his style of pastoral ministry.

“It is extremely difficult to make a public judgment about the state of the soul of someone else,” Archbishop Wuerl said. “Our task," he said, "is to convince people and win people over to what is the correct view.”

One prominent American archbishop who did not receive the Pope's nod for the coming consistory is Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.

He  was likely ruled out as a candidate because his predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan, has not yet reached the age of 80 and is still eligible to vote in the case of a papal election. Traditionally, the Pope does not select two voting-eligible cardinals from the same jurisdiction. Cardinal Egan will turn 80 on April 2, 2012.

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New cardinal, 82, says his research in bioethics to continue

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the 82-year old former head of the Pontifical Academy of Life, expressed surprise at being named a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI.

"I understand it as an encouragement for the work that I humbly seek to do," Bishop Sgreccia said in an interview with Vatican Radio Oct. 20, shortly after the Pope announced his appointment of 24 new cardinals at the conclusion of his weekly general audience.

Cardinal-designate Sgreccia is a bioethicist. He has worked extensively on the spiritual side of medicine "full time" for the better part of the last four decades. He has been an organizer and member of numerous international and Italian national commissions for bioethics while also serving as director of the bioethics programs at two Catholic universities in Rome in the 1980s and 1990s.

From 1992-1996 he served as secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He spent the remainder of his Vatican career at the Pontifical Academy for Life, holding the position of vice president from 1994-2005 and president from 2005-2008.

Among his many publications is his two-volume "Manual of Bioethics," an authoritative guide to Church positions in the field.

Cardinal-designate Sgreccia continues to study scientific issues related birth control, stem-cell research, cloning and genetic technology.

His selection as a cardinal, he said, is “a further motivation to continue on this path. As long as I can, I will mobilize people so that they promote human life and its dignity in all its aspects.”

"This is an infinite field," he explained, "beautiful and worthy of being followed by many people."

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Congress for Hispanics on devotion to Mary to be held in Orlando

Miami, Fla., Oct 20, 2010 (CNA) - The office of Hispanic Ministry of the Diocese of Orlando, together with the Secretariat for Evangelization, announced that the first Diocesan Marian Congress 2010 will take place Oct. 22-23. The event will focus on the value of traditions maintained by Hispanics in south Florida, such as devotion to the Virgin Mary.

The event will be held at the Basilica of Mary Queen of the Universe on Oct. 22, and at Holy Family parish in Orlando on October 23.

Thomas Evans, director of the Hispanic Ministry office, said, “We are very proud and happy about two aspects of this first Diocesan Marian Congress 2010.  The first is the sense of community that the opening ceremony will have, and second, the value of the Hispanic traditions that we ought to share with the entire Catholic community of Florida.”

The congress will begin with the recitation of the Rosary in various languages and then a Mass in which a group of students from Bishop Moore Catholic High School will crown the Virgin Mary.

The event will be attended by Bishop Eduardo Chavez, rector of the Institute for Guadalupe Studies of the Archdiocese of Mexico, who will reflect on “the role of Mary in Christian prayer” and on “Our Lady of Guadalupe in daily prayer.”  Bishop Chavez was one of the postulators of the cause of canonization of St. Juan Diego.

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Pope says Elizabeth of Hungary a model for those in authority

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his weekly general audience Oct. 20, the Pope said that St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a daughter of royalty, should be a model for all who hold authority in society.

Elizabeth was born in 1207, the daughter of Hungary’s King Andrew II. Yet her privileged upbringing never led her to compromise her faith or lord her position above her subjects, Pope Benedict XVI said.
She "behaved before God as she behaved towards her subjects," he said, calling her "a true example for everyone who holds positions of leadership.”

"The exercise of authority at all levels, must be practiced as a service to justice and charity, in the constant search for the common good," the Pope said.

Elizabeth managed to develop a "sincere love" for her husband Ludwig despite the fact the their union was arranged for political reasons when she was very young. It was at his death that she dedicated herself fully to the care of the poor, bringing herself closer to them in her relationship with the religious order, the Franciscan Friars Minor.

She helped to found a Franciscan hospital in the town of Marburg, Germany and from there served the poor until her own death at the young age of 24. St. Elizabeth was canonized just four years after her death.

In Elizabeth, the Pope said, "we see how faith and friendship with Christ, create a sense of justice, of universal equality, of the rights of others, and foment love and charity. From this charity comes hope, the certainty that we are loved by Christ, that the love of Christ awaits us, thus making us capable of imitating Christ and of seeing Him in others."

The Holy Father prayed that Elizabeth's "dedication to the poor and needy inspire in us the same love for Christ in our neighbor."

The Pope’s teaching on Elizabeth is the seventh in a series of weekly reflections that he has been offering on the holy women of Church history. The series began with the Pope’s general audience Sept. 1.

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Cardinal-designates blessed, humbled by recent appointments

Washington D.C., Oct 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, a top Vatican official, and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington issued statements of gratitude today after Pope Benedict XVI designated them –  along with two dozen new cardinals – to be installed in a special consistory to be held at the Vatican, Nov. 20.

The Pope made his announcement Oct. 20 at the conclusion of his weekly Wednesday general audience. “The universality of the church is reflected in the list of new cardinals,” he said. More than a dozen countries are represented by the new cardinals, including four from African countries, two from Latin America, two from North America, and one representing Asia.

In a statement on the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. on Oct. 20, Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl made the following comments: 

“The gracious act of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in elevating me to the College of Cardinals is a recognition of the importance the Holy See places on the Archdiocese of Washington, the Church in the nation’s capital. I am humbled and grateful to our Holy Father for his trust in me as shepherd of this flock and I renew my pledge of fidelity, affection and loyalty to him.”

“Yesterday I learned of this announcement, the day the Church celebrates North American martyrs. In the Church’s liturgy in memory of these missionaries, only two are recognized by name. The rest are simply listed as companions. That struck me as applicable to this honor today. In this wonderful Church, clergy, religious and lay faithful all work so hard on behalf of the Gospel, but since you cannot name everyone, the Church names the bishop.”

“My thoughts immediately turned to the Holy Father’s visit to Washington just over two years ago and the great privilege I had in welcoming him, the Chief Shepherd and Vicar of Christ, who came among us to strengthen us in our faith.”

 “I had the joy of telling our Holy Father that not all that far from here in 1634 the first Catholics arrived in the colonies that later formed the United States. From those modest beginnings has come forth a Church truly representative of the Gospel’s message of hope. Today in his kindness to the Church of Washington, the Holy Father has renewed his support and love, and we in turn express again our bonds of faith and affection for him, the Vicar of Christ.”

“In accepting this honor, I renew my pledge, in the words of Pope Benedict, to ‘repropose the perennial truth of Christ’s Gospel’as this local Church carries out the New Evangelization in announcing the good news of Jesus Christ. Today as the Holy Spirit is urging the Church to rekindle in people’s daily lives a new awareness of and familiarity with Jesus, the Spirit is also charging me to deepen my commitment in my service as shepherd of this archdiocese.”

Cardinal-designate Archbishop Raymond Burke also responded to his appointment on Wednesday, saying:

“I am deeply humbled and honored by the announcement that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI intends to name me to the College of Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church at the Consistory which he has convoked for this coming November 20th. Having received the news of the Holy Father’s intention, I express my deepest gratitude to His Holiness for the great confidence which he has placed in me, and I renew my commitment to serve Him, as Shepherd of the universal Church, in total fidelity and with all my being.”

“Considering the weighty responsibilities of the members of the College of Cardinals in assisting the Holy Father as his closest co-workers, even “to the shedding of blood,” I am more than ever conscious of my own weakness and of my total dependence upon the help of divine grace, in order that I may fulfill worthily and generously the responsibilities which will be mine, God willing, as a Cardinal of the Church.”

“I count upon the continued intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Communion of Saints, and the prayers of the many faithful whom I have been blessed to serve as priest and Bishop, especially in my home diocese, the Diocese of La Crosse, and in the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, and of those with whom I have been, in the past, and am now privileged to serve in the Roman Curia, especially my co-workers at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Only the knowledge of God’s immeasurable and unceasing outpouring of mercy and love from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus gives me the confidence to accept the great honor and burden which His Holiness intends to confer upon me.”

“Today’s announcement turns my thoughts with deepest affection and gratitude to my late parents and all my family, living and deceased; and to the priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful who have assisted me to know my vocation to the Holy Priesthood and to respond to it with an undivided heart over the more than thirty-five years of my priestly life and ministry. Today, with all my heart, I humbly thank God for the gifts of life, of the Catholic faith, and of my vocation.”

“At the same time, my thoughts naturally turn to the many challenges which the Church faces in our day in carrying out her divine mission for the salvation of the world. In particular, I am deeply conscious of the critical importance of the loving witness of the Church to the truth, revealed to us by God through both faith and reason, which alone is our salvation. It is a witness which Our Holy Father tirelessly gives with remarkable wisdom and courage. I pledge myself anew to assist Pope Benedict XVI in this critical witness and in the many works of his pastoral charity on behalf of all our brothers and sisters in the Church and in the world.”

“I ask for prayers that I may be able to assist our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI to the best of my ability and with every ounce of my strength. I, once again, place my whole heart, together with the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, into the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. In the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus, I am confident that I will find the purification, courage and strength which I will need to carry out the new responsibilities to be confided into my hands. I thank, in advance, all who will pray for me, and ask God to bless them abundantly.”

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Archbishop criticizes United Nations for failing to respect life

La Plata, Argentina, Oct 20, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata, Argentina has criticized the United Nations for spreading ideologies that fail to respect fundamental human rights and the family.

In his weekly television program, “Keys to a Better World,” Archbishop Aguer pointed to the cultural changes that are taking place in Argentina through laws put forth by the self-proclaimed “progressive” minority.

He added that the changes are totally foreign to the nation's cultural tradition.

One such change took place in July, when the country legalized same-sex “marriage.”

The archbishop said these ideas are part of a global plan that is based at “the United Nations and a series of its satellite organizations.”

He said huge amounts of money are behind the attempts to change Argentina and to alter fundamental human rights. “Thus, we can see that there is a conspiracy here in the worst sense of the word,” the archbishop added.

“There is a conspiracy that tends to homogenize thought and conduct in the entire world, and this comes from the centers of world power, especially from the centers of political power, which are sustained by the centers of financial power,” said Archbishop Aguer.

“If this is not a new form of colonialism, a new imperialism, I don’t know what to call it,” he warned.

The archbishop denounced the U.N. for its anti-human and anti-Christian positions and for undermining natural law.

“For several years - at least 15 - we could say, ideologies that are contrary to the nature of the human person, and therefore, man’s dignity, authentic rights and corresponding duties, have been imposed on these world centers of power,” he stated.

Archbishop Aguer noted that at diverse international forums, U.N. officials promote “contraception, abortion and other supposed women’s rights founded upon gender ideology.”


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Cardinal Newman Society praises Archbishop Burke’s appointment

Manassas, Va., Oct 20, 2010 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society lauded Archbishop Raymond Burke, who was appointed by the Holy Father as a cardinal Oct. 20 and will be installed in a special consistory taking place at the Vatican next month.

Archbishop Burke is prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and is the ecclesiastical advisor of The Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, a division of the society.

Pope Benedict XVI named two dozen new cardinals on Oct. 20, including two from the United States: Archbishop Burke and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C.. The new cardinals will be installed in a special consistory to be held at the Vatican, Nov. 20.

Archbishop Burke said, upon learning of his appointment, that he is “deeply humbled and honored by the announcement” and expressed “deepest gratitude to His Holiness for the great confidence which he has placed in me.”

In remarks to CNA in an e-mail Oct. 20, president of the Cardinal Newman Society Patrick J. Reilly explained that “Cardinal-designate Burke has been a tireless advocate for the renewal of Catholic higher education and a proponent of strong Catholic identity.”

“Catholic colleges are expected to conform to Ex corde Ecclesiae, an application of Canon Law, so we greatly value the perspective of the Prefect of the Catholic Church’s highest court,” he added. “And as cardinal and counselor to the Holy Father, his keen insight into American education, culture and politics becomes even more valuable to the Church.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Reilly offered his congratulations to the prelate, saying that Archbishop Burke’s “seat among the princes of the Church is surely a sign of encouragement for Catholics around the world praying for a deeper commitment of our institutions to their Catholic identity.”

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NY City targets pregnancy centers as part of 'nationwide strategy'

New York City, N.Y., Oct 20, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The New York City Council has proposed legislation that would sharply regulate crisis pregnancy centers that do not provide abortion and contraception.

Opponents said the proposed regulations would violate their rights to free speech and “cripple” the mission of pro-life centers. Pro-life advocates say the New York proposal follows a pattern similar to proposals elsewhere in the country and may reflect a “nationwide strategy” on the part of abortion advocates.

Councilmember Jessica Lappin, primary sponsor of the bill introduced Oct. 12, said crisis pregnancy centers are “anti-choice centers masquerading as health clinics.”

The Manhattan Democrat charges that the centers are not licensed medical facilities and generally do not have a licensed medical staff on site.

“They have staff or volunteers who have an agenda that they are trying to push,” she said.

Lappin’s bill would require centers to disclose whether they provide abortions, contraception or referrals for these procedures and services.

Centers that do not offer such services or have licensed medical personnel on site would be required to post that information at their facilities’ entrances as well as in waiting rooms and in advertisements. The new ordinance would impose fines ranging from $250 to $2,500 for violations.

Lappin charged that many crisis pregnancy centers are “set up purposely across the street from Planned Parenthood or in the same building as those clinics to try and confuse women and draw them in.”

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the United States. According to Lappin’s official website, before running for office she was a “trained clinic escort for Planned Parenthood.”

And critics say the proposal is part of an effort to target and harass pro-life groups that have opposed Planned Parenthood’s agenda.

It is “part of a national strategy by Planned Parenthood and NARAL to attack pro-life pregnancy centers,” said Christopher Bell, co-founder with Father Benedict Groeschel, CFR, of Good Counsel Inc., which operates with “maternity homes” for mothers and babies before and after birth.

He told CNA that similar proposals have “failed miserably” in several other state legislatures, but the proposals have won approval in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Montgomery County, Md.

Backers of the New York proposal have charged that women visiting the crisis pregnancy centers were given “factually inaccurate information” and were “forced to watch videos.”

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who backs the proposal, said it simply requires “truth in advertising” from pro-life groups.

However, Bell said that the proposal appears also to target maternity homes trying to offer “free, low-cost services to women in a crisis pregnancy.” He charged that Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League were working “to limit the options of women to just abortion.”

While proponents say the bill regulates crisis pregnancy centers, their materials have also listed Good Counsel maternity homes as such a center despite the nature of their work.

This fact, in Bell’s view, proves that “a lot” of the council’s information is “dubious at best and outright false at worst.”

He also questioned why there was no reaction to the investigations of the pro-life group Live Action, which has filmed Planned Parenthood staff advising underage girls how they may have abortions so that their parents do not learn they were allegedly impregnated by much-older men.

NARAL Pro-Choice New York has also targeted Expectant Mother Care (EMC) Frontline Pregnancy Centers. The organization runs 12 pro-life counseling centers for pregnant women.

Its president, Chris Slattery, called the proposal an “outrageous attack on the First Amendment rights of law-abiding, helpful resource centers.”

He said that EMC has saved over 38,000 women from abortions in the last 25 years. Because of this, Slattery thought, the New York City Council will “particularly focus its slanderous accusations against us.”

“We serve the abortion-bound clients they want to stop us from reaching.”

He charged that the proposal was a “set of unconstitutional laws to cripple our work with a new free speech-strangling bill to strictly regulate our advertising and outreach with the threats of staggering fines, and probable shutdowns of our offices aimed at crippling our work of ministry to abortion minded clients.”

Bell also warned that the legislation compels speech and is so broad that anyone counseling or aiding a pregnant woman could come under its jurisdiction “so that they can begin to write regulations on what you have to say and can’t say.”

“We’re not going to tolerate that,” said Bell.

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Malta bishops: divorce changes nature of marriage

Valetta, Malta, Oct 20, 2010 (CNA) - Divorce contradicts the value of marriage and changes its very nature, the bishops of Malta have said. Noting the failed promises of divorce advocates, they emphasized that Christians must be accountable to Jesus in matters of marriage and divorce.

Responding to those who “promote divorce,” the two bishops of the island nation issued an Oct. 15 letter explaining the Christian view of marriage.

Archbishop Paul Cremona and Bishop Mario Grech cited Jesus’ response in Matthew 19 to the question of whether a man can leave his wife for any reason whatsoever. Jesus referred his questioner to the Book of Genesis, teaching that a man and a woman “become one flesh” and that “what God has put together, no man should put asunder.”

Jesus said Moses permitted divorce “becaush of the hardness of your hearts,” the Maltese bishops commented. “Not only did He enlighten them on the beauty of everlasting marriage, but also highlighted the way this could be achieved.”

It was impossible “to embrace a value and at the same time concede to a reality which goes against that value.” Divorce “alters the intrinsic nature of marriage” and once it exists “one cannot speak of stable and everlasting marriage, as ordained by God from the very beginning.”

“At no point does Jesus specify any form of condition or manner in which divorce could be instituted – he simply insists that once there is divorce, then there is a shift in the nature of marriage,” the bishops wrote.

They suggested Jesus’ response to contemporary support for divorce is the same as it was in gospel times: “It is because of the hardness of your hearts.”

“No Christian would have expected a different reply from Jesus. So, even today, how can we expect him to say ‘Strengthen marriage by introducing divorce!’?” they asked rhetorically.

Stating that attitudes must change, not marriage, they noted that other countries introduced divorce to solve problems with marital breakdown. “Instead, the problems multiplied.”

Christian teachings against divorce are not an imposition but a contribution to society, they wrote, appealing to all Christians to protect these teachings.

“May Jesus’ words be a light for the Christian conscience: a moral responsibility which must be upheld. It is to Jesus himself that the Christian must be accountable, even in this matter of marriage and divorce!”

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