Archive of January 11, 2011

Spanish archbishop defends baptism amid culture of death

Toledo, Spain, Jan 11, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez of Toledo, Spain is defending baptism's “yes to life” in the face of the culture of death.

In a Jan. 9 homily, Archbishop Rodriguez spoke of the culture of death, explaining that it manifests itself in: Drug use, lies, fraud, injustice, contempt for others, and contempt for showing solidarity “with the poor and those who suffer.”

The culture of death is also seen in sexuality when it is understood as sheer fun without responsibility, he said.  He added that this leads people to see each other as objects rather than as persons.

Archbishop Rodriguez then remarked that man is being turned into “merchandise and pure objects.”

“To this apparent happiness we must say ‘no,’ in order to cultivate the culture of life,” he added.  The “yes” of Christians at baptism, from apostolic times until today, is a great “yes to life,” the archbishop continued.

“This is our ‘yes’ to Christ, our ‘yes’ to the victor over death and our ‘yes’ to life in time and in eternity.”

For this reason, he explained, the “yes” in the rite of baptism expresses three beliefs—in God the creator, in Christ, and in the communion of the Church.  The “no” is also three-fold—no to temptation, to sin and to the devil, the archbishop said.

Archbishop Rodriguez made his comments after three children received baptism at the Cathedral of Toledo. 

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Archbishop Chaput remembers deep Catholic faith of judge killed in Ariz. shooting

Denver, Colo., Jan 11, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver expressed anguish over the recent Arizona shooting that left 6 dead and over a dozen wounded, noting particularly the life and deep Catholic faith of victim Judge John Roll.

U.S. Federal Judge John Roll was killed on Jan. 8 along with 5 others, including 9 year-old Christina Taylor Green.

The incident began on Saturday when 22-year-old Jared Loughner opened fire at a local supermarket where recently elected Democrat Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was giving a community address. Loughner, a socially isolated, anti-government youth with a history of mental instability, was reportedly intent on killing the congresswoman with whom he took personal issue. Rep. Giffords is alive but in critical condition after being shot in the head at point-blank range.

In his Jan. 12 column for the Denver Catholic Register, Archbishop Chaput remembers Judge Roll as a political figure who lived a life of “powerful, authentic Catholic witness.”

The archbishop recalls a trip to Phoenix in 2008 where he gave the homily for an annual Red Mass for the state's lawyers and politicians. Sitting in the congregation that day, was Judge Roll's wife, Maureen, “an active and very committed Catholic.”

Archbishop Chaput says that Maureen must have mentioned his homily to Judge Roll, since 10 months later “I got the first of several extraordinary letters from her husband.”

“It’s impossible to fully know a man from correspondence alone,” he writes. “But each of John Roll’s letters had the same four clear marks: generosity; intelligence, largeness of spirit and a sincere love for his Catholic faith.”

The archbishop says that two days after Judge Roll’s murder, he spoke to his law clerk, attorney Aaron Martin, who described the late political leader.

Judge Roll was devoted to St. Thomas More and kept a biography of the saint on a table near his desk.  He was also known as a father figure among his subordinates and expressed a sincere interest in the lives and families of those he worked with.

“He liked mentoring young Christian attorneys because he believed their faith gave them a better moral foundation for the vocation of law,” Archbishop Chaput says.

Judge Roll read a range of Catholic publications every Sunday morning before Mass to learn more about his faith. He also swam almost every morning at the local YMCA and made it to daily Mass as often as he could. He would have turned 64 on February 8, and is survived by three sons and five grandchildren.

Maureen and John Roll had known each other, according to Aaron Martin, since they were 14 or 15. 

“They were, throughout their life together, each other’s best friends,” Archbishop Chaput says. “They would have celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary later this month.”

“John Roll was, finally, a man of unusual personal graciousness,” he remarks. “Despite their political differences, Judge Roll and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, had a cordial relationship of mutual respect.” 

Precisely because of their differences, the archbishop says, Judge Roll tried to greet Giffords at her local appearances whenever he could.

“On the morning of his death, Judge Roll went to Mass, and at 9:55 a.m., according to Martin, left his house to just  'drop in' on Giffords’ public gathering as a courtesy, to say hello.” 

“He never came home.”

“This life passes,” Archbishop Chaput says in his concluding remarks. “Eternity is forever. We need to act in this world accordingly, with lives of Christian service.” 

“Maureen and John Roll shared a life of quiet, powerful, authentic Catholic witness. Please keep them both, and the entire Roll family, in your prayers.”

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Catholic structure for ex-Anglicans in UK expected by Jan. 15

London, England, Jan 11, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic bishops in England and Wales expect that their country's new jurisdiction for former Anglicans will be formally established in a Vatican decree by Jan. 15, the same day that three onetime Anglican bishops will receive their ordination as Catholic priests.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols will ordain John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton to the priesthood in a ceremony at Westminster Cathedral. Together with two other departing Anglican bishops, they had announced on Nov. 8, 2010 that they would be leaving that denomination to join the Catholic Church, which they did formally on Jan. 1.

The three men will serve as priests in the Ordinariate for England and Wales, the first structure of its kind to be established under norms provided by Pope Benedict XVI. Their ordinations are proceeding quickly so that they can minister to their congregations continuously, without the long lapse in time that a separate program of formation would require.

Edwin Barnes and David Silk, two retired former Anglican bishops, are also training to become priests in the English and Welsh Ordinariate, and will most likely be ordained at a later date.

“The establishment of the ordinariate is something new,” commented Fr. Marcus Stock, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, reflecting Jan. 11 on what he called a novel development “not just in the life of the Catholic Church in England and Wales but in the universal Church as well.”

The ordinariate is a jurisdiction within the Roman Catholic Church, in which former Anglicans will preserve many of their distinct liturgical and spiritual traditions while adhering fully to Catholic teaching and authority.

Controversies within the Anglican Communion, including female ordination and widespread acceptance of homosexuality, prompted some groups of Anglicans to petition the Holy See for a means of uniting collectively with the Catholic Church. In November 2009, the Pope's Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus” outlined the provisions of corporate reunion for Anglican groups.

Fr. Stock said it was especially important, during the first phases of the English and Welsh Ordinariate, “that our welcome is warm and our support is strong” for its new clergy and faithful. He encouraged Catholics in the U.K. and around the world to pray for Anglicans who are seeking to discern their future course, as well as those now preparing to enter the Catholic Church.

The ordinariates are similar to dioceses, although they can be led by either a bishop or a priest. However, members of the Ordinariate for England and Wales will remain under the jurisdiction of its leader (known as the “ordinary”), even if they reside in another English or Welsh bishop's canonical territory.

The local ordinary, whether he is a bishop or a priest, will participate as a member of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. He will also have responsibility for implementing any pertinent decisions of the conference within his ordinariate, as a bishop would within his diocese. The ordinaries will also visit Rome every five years to confer with the Pope, as diocesan bishops do.

Although a married Anglican bishop may leave that position to become a Catholic priest, only those Anglicans who are unmarried will be considered for consecration as bishops if they leave the Anglican Communion to join an ordinariate.

One of the most distinct features of the ordinariate communities will be in their liturgical practices. Although the communities are not defined primarily by their liturgical usages, in the way that the Eastern Catholic churches are, the ordinariate parishes will maintain many of the Anglican liturgical rites after some degree of adaptation and approval by the Holy See.

Any eligible Catholic throughout the world will be able to attend and receive the sacraments in these communities, as in any other Roman Catholic or Eastern Catholic church.

On March 9, 2011 –when Lent begins, with Ash Wednesday– several more Anglican groups of clergy and faithful will enroll to join the Ordinariate for England and Wales. They will most likely enter fully into the Catholic Church during Holy Week of 2011, pending an agreement between the head of the ordinariate and local diocesan bishops.

Around the time of Pentecost, a number of additional former Anglican clergy who have joined the English and Welsh Ordinariate will be ordained as priests, pending the approval of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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Venezuelan cardinal: Government land seizure becoming serious issue

Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 11, 2011 (CNA) - Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela warned that some of the government's recent land seizures have not followed procedures outlined in the country's Constitution.

“While it is true that the government has the power to confiscate, it must do so by following the procedures established in the Constitution,” the cardinal said after Mass for the World Day of Peace on Jan. 9. He noted that “this is not happening in some cases.”

Cardinal Urosa acknowledged that there is a great demand for more housing in the country, but that the need – which sharply increased due to the recent flooding – “is not going to be resolved in six months.” 

“The interests and rights of all people must be reconciled, and the government should do so justly,” the cardinal asserted.

New excuse?

In the past week, the Venezuelan government has confiscated numerous buildings and plots claiming they will be used for the construction of homes for those affected by the flooding. However, Rafael Alfonzo, a leading financial analyst, called the move a “new excuse” by Hugo Chavez to take over private lands. Chavez alleged that the measures are necessary to protect the food supply, to “rescue” lands from plantation owners, and to prevent monopolies and market speculation.

The Observatory of Property Rights in Venezuela reported that between 2005 and 2010, some 1,729 violations of private property by the government took place, and that during the last year there were 535 cases of confiscation.  The most controversial one involved 2.2 acres of land belonging to the Antimano child nutrition center.  Chavez said the center would now be known as the “Amatina Socialist Community.” 

On his television program “Alo Presidente” on Jan. 9, Chavez ordered the confiscation of land to “accelerate all over the country, especially south of Maracaibo Lake,” where land belonging to the El Delirio and Dinamarca ranches was recently confiscated.

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Honduran cardinal denounces death threats

Tegucigalpa, Jan 11, 2011 (CNA) - Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras recently stated he has been the target of death threats since 2009. He believes the threats are from supporters of the country's deposed President Manuel Zelaya.

President Zelaya was removed from office in June 2009 and was replaced by an interim leader until elections were held. Current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo Sosa was then voted into office.

Zelaya's opponents assert he was impeached by order of the Supreme Court of Honduras for serious crimes, including treason. His supporters argue he was illegally expelled by the military and the high court.

Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga stated on Jan. 6 that he has been receiving death threats from individuals who have labeled him a “supporter of the coup.” The cardinal then told Honduras' Channel 10 that soon after the Honduran bishops’ conference issued a statement about the intentions of then-President Zelaya to hold a referendum to draft a new constitution, he “had already become the target of death threats.”

He added that the threats “have been continuous” since June 2009.

“We had all of the pertinent information,” Cardinal Maradiaga said, “and we issued a statement which I read as president on Saturday,” the day before Zelaya was removed from office.

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Founder of Catholic homosexual support group passes away

Denver, Colo., Jan 11, 2011 (CNA) - Fr. John Harvey, known for founding Courage, the international support group for Catholics who experience same-sex attraction, passed away recently at the age of 92. 

Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a Catholic psychiatrist who worked with Fr. Harvey for 30 years, remembered the priest as a “brilliant moral theologian” whose life was a “gift to the Church.”

Father Harvey died on Dec. 27, the feast of St. John the Evangelist, at Union Hospital in Elkton, Maryland. Born in Philadelphia, he was priest for 66 years and an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales for 73.

In New York City in 1980, Fr. Harvey helped found Courage, the Church-approved ministry devoted to helping Catholics who experience same-sex attractions live in accordance with Catholic moral teaching. 

The apostolate is aimed at strengthening chastity, religious devotion, healthy friendships, and a spirit of fellowship and support among Catholics who experience same-sex attractions. Courage incorporates a modified version of the “Twelve Steps,” traditionally used in the treatment of substance-abuse, in its work helping Catholics who struggle with homosexuality to lead chaste lives.

With the endorsement of the Vatican, Courage now has more than 110 chapters and contact people world-wide.

“Fr. Harvey responded to the needs of those with same sex attraction in the Church through the development of Courage,” Dr. Fitzgibbons said.

He called Fr. Harvey's prominent book, “The Truth about Homosexuality,” a “great gift to the Catholics” that should be “required reading” for clergy, educators and laity.

Dr. Fitzgibbon's praised Fr. Harvey as a “brilliant” moral theologian, but explained that more importantly, the priest defended the Church's teaching on sexual morality “with great wisdom, love and gentleness.”

“He was a gift to the Church during a troubled historical period when many in the Church abandoned the teaching of Christ and His Church in regard to sexual morality and homosexuality, in particular, resulting in great confusion and significant trauma,” the psychiatrist added.

Dr. Fitzgibbons also noted Fr. Harvey's “great devotion” to St. Francis de Sales,  whom he called “a source of wisdom and comfort for him during times of great trials.”

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Knights of Columbus reaching out to Haiti quake's child amputees

Port au Prince, Haiti, Jan 11, 2011 (CNA) - As Haiti continues to cope with the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated its capital Port-au-Prince in January 2010, the Knights of Columbus are expanding their ongoing campaign to provide prosthetic limbs and physical therapy to children injured in the disaster.

The Catholic fraternal and charitable order discussed the continuation of its work with Project Medishare with reporters on Jan. 10, holding an “open house” at the medical charity's facility in Port-au-Prince.

Project Medishare has been working to improve the quality of health care in Haiti for more than 16 years. Its collaboration with the Knights of Columbus focuses on restoring mobility to children whose injuries required the amputation of one or more limbs after the earthquake.

Together, they intend to offer help for all of the estimated 1,000 children who lost an arm or leg in the unprecedented calamity. Approximately 250,000 people died in the earthquake, which also left one million people homeless and reduced much of Port-au-Prince's already frail infrastructure to rubble.

The “Healing Haiti's Children” program provides each child amputee with up to two additional replacement prosthetics, as needed, along with two years of physical therapy. So far, the Knights of Columbus have donated more than $1 million to the program.

Dr. Barth Green, the founder of Project Medishare, said that the Knights' support was critical because of the unique circumstances and needs of the children. “Each one of these growing, precious child amputees requires two or three new legs each year,” he explained, “which makes it essential to continue this life and limb saving project.”

Many governments and international agencies have struggled to provide effective aid to the country in the 12 months that have passed since the earthquake occurred on Jan. 12, 2010. However, Project Medishare was notable for its quick five-month transition from a tent hospital, to a 50-bed unit equipped for rehabilitation as well as emergency and critical care.

Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who leads the Knights of Columbus, announced on Jan. 6 that the men of the order were “honored to be able to give the important gift of hope to the children of Haiti,” by providing prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation to those who had lost limbs. More than 100 children have already benefited from the program, with hundreds more expected to receive help in the near future.

“It is rare to be able to give a gift that changes a life forever,” the Supreme Knight reflected. “Providing mobility does just that, for few things can change a child's life as completely as the ability to regain freedom of movement.”

Dr. Green explained that by restoring mobility to these children, Project Medishare and the Knights of Columbus were not only providing them with immediate relief, but also giving them the opportunity to help their troubled country forge a better future.

He said that the partnership “has allowed us to launch hundreds of Haitian children from wheelchairs to standing up and facing the many challenges of their devastated nation.” Many of those wheelchairs were also provided by the Knights of Columbus, in the period immediately following the earthquake.

In addition to the challenges of rebuilding its capital and housing those made homeless in the earthquake, Haiti is also struggling to contain a cholera epidemic that experts fear could infect 400,000 people. Adding to the confusion is uncertainty over the highly disputed national election that took place Nov. 28.

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Vatican responds to Egypt recalling its ambassador over Pope's remarks

Vatican City, Jan 11, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy See has no desire to escalate conflict or strain diplomatic relations, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said Jan. 11 in response to Egypt recalling its ambassador in protest of Pope Benedict's condemnation of the recent violence against Christians in the country.

Fr. Lombardi made his remarks after Egypt temporarily recalled Mrs. Lamia Aly Mekhemar Hamada, ambassador of Arab Republic of Egypt to the Holy See. The action by the Egyptian government took place after Pope Benedict implored ambassadors in a Jan. 9 address to protect Christian minorities.

The Pope's comments followed a bomb attack by Islamic militants on a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt on New Year's Eve that killed 23 people.

Hossam Zaki, an Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman, condemned the Pope's Jan. 9 remarks, saying the pontiff committed “unacceptable interference” in the country's “internal affairs.”

Zaki also noted that Egypt has asked Ambassador Hamada to return to Cairo for a consultation on the Pope's comments.

In response to the situation, Vatican spokesman Fr. Lombardi said on Jan. 11 that the Holy See has no interest in straining diplomatic relations with Egypt and that the ambassador was able to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, before she left.

Fr. Lombardi said that during her meeting with Archbishop Mamberti, the ambassador was able to receive “relevant information” to report back to her foreign ministry on the recent interventions of Pope Benedict, especially on religious freedom and the protection of Christians in the Middle East. The ambassador was also able to express her government's concerns regarding the current “difficult” situation.

Fr. Lombardi said Archbishop Mamberti stressed to the ambassador that the Vatican experiences the grief the country feels following the recent attack in Alexandria and shares the Egyptian government's concern in avoiding "the escalation of conflict and tension for religious reasons.”Archbishop Mamberti also underscored his appreciation for the efforts that the government “makes in that direction.”

But tensions within Egypt continue to simmer, with Jan. 11 reports saying a Muslim policeman opened fire on passengers aboard a Cairo-bound train, killing one Christian man and wounding 5 others.

Coptic Bishop Marcos told AFP that witnesses relayed to him how the gunman roamed the train looking for Christians and shouted 'Allahu Akbar!' before opening fire.

The attack is the latest in a string of violence committed against Christians in the Middle East by Islamic militants, adding to the Egyptian Church bombing in Alexandria on Jan. 1 and an attack at Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral in Baghdad, Iraq, on Oct. 31 last year that killed over 50 people.

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