Front Royal, Va., Feb 3, 2011 (CNA) - After news broke that the former president of Human Life International, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, stepped down abruptly from his position last year because of “inappropriate conduct,” the pro-life organization released a statement on Feb. 2 in response to the situation.
Fr. Euteneuer admitted on Jan. 31 that he left HLI in August 2010 after “violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care.”
“I state without reserve that I am deeply sorry for my actions. I have personally apologized, where possible, to anyone I have harmed,” he added.
In their Feb. 2 statement, HLI explained that last August they received allegations “of inappropriate conduct by Rev. Euteneuer involving a young adult woman, which occurred within the context of his exorcism ministry.”
“The Board immediately commenced an inquiry into the allegations, and Rev. Euteneuer admitted inappropriate conduct. At that time, Bishop Gerald Barbarito recalled Rev. Euteneuer to the Diocese of Palm Beach, and HLI sought and received Rev. Euteneuer’s resignation.”
The HLI statement added that since the time of Fr. Euteneuer's resignation, the board “subsequently learned of additional allegations in connection with his exorcism ministry.”
The statement qualified, however, that because the priest no longer serves as president of HLI, “we are not especially endowed with the competence or authority to investigate, evaluate, or act on these additional allegations, but they have been submitted to the proper ecclesiastical authorities.”
“HLI received certain assurances that Rev. Euteneuer was no longer engaged in public ministry and therefore, until this time, in our efforts to observe Catholic teaching, we have avoided comment.”
Fr. Euteneuer said on Jan. 31 that his offenses had been limited to one woman and “did not involve the sexual act.” He added that the “difficult situation … has already been handled appropriately by Church authorities for nearly six months.” He said that no “financial settlement” had been paid out in connection with the matter.
Fr. Euteneuer left his post as head of one of the world’s largest pro-life organization without warning last year, citing a need for “rest and renewal.” In a Aug. 27 letter, he said that after touring 58 countries, authoring two books and making “thousands” of public appearances, he was “ready for a break.”
Fr. Euteneuer also said at the time that Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito had called him back to his home diocese of Palm Beach, Fla.
He had been president of HLI since 2000 and was one of the pro-life movement’s most visible spokesmen.
HLI noted in their Feb. 2 response that the Diocese of Palm Beach and the “proper ecclesiastical authorities” will address Fr. Euteneuer's admission and subsequent allegations and asked that “the HLI family continue to pray for all those involved.”
“HLI has not been, and will not be, deterred in its fundamental mission as pro-life missionaries to the world, and we likewise ask for the prayers of all that support HLI’s work that this critical mission will never be undermined.”
Washington D.C., Feb 3, 2011 (CNA) - A new analysis shows that although Biblical and saint names are still popular among parents, the use of “Mark” and “Mary” as baby names has sharply declined over the decades.
Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) tracked the popularity of baby names in America from 1910 to 2009 with data from the Social Security Administration website.
A Jan. 20 post on the center's research blog showed that from 1910 to 1965, Mary was either the top or second most popular name for girls in the U.S.
In 2009, however, the name Mary dropped out of the top 100 for the first time and is currently listed as number 102. The name Joseph has remained consistently popular, however, coming in at number 16, it's lowest rating since since 1910.
Similar to Mary, the name Mark has decreased in use over the years. A top 10 name from 1955 to 1970, Mark fell below the top 100 in 2003 and is now listed as number 154.
CARA researchers have previously documented how Mass attendance increases the likelihood of parents choosing Catholic names for their children.
In their 2004 study “Don't Call Me Ishmael,” featured in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, researchers Paul Perl and Jon Wiggins stated that “worship attendance does increase Catholics' likelihood of choosing specific names that are disproportionately common within their tradition.”
“This suggests that committed Catholics perceive certain names as 'Catholic' and represents one instance in which names do retain religious connotations for believers,” they added.
The importance of parents choosing Christian names for their children was recently addressed by Pope Benedict at a Mass at the Sistine Chapel on Jan. 9, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
During remarks later in the day at the noontime Angelus prayer, he underscored that every baptized child “acquires the character of the son of God, beginning with their Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be born anew in the womb of the Church.”
A name, he explained, is an “indelible seal” that set children off on a lifelong “journey of religious faith.”
Baltimore, Md., Feb 3, 2011 (CNA) - A federal judge in Maryland has struck down a law which required pro-life pregnancy centers to post announcements that they do not refer clients for abortions or birth control. The Archbishop of Baltimore declared the ruling “a clear victory.”
Under the regulation, if inspectors found no visible announcement in English and Spanish at a center then it would have 10 days to post a notice or face a $150 fine. The pregnancy centers of Baltimore receive significant support from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which also backed the suit to overturn the law.
U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled on Jan. 28 that the law is “unenforceable.” He said it is for the provider, and not the government, to “decide when and how to discuss abortion and birth-control method.”
"The Government cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, require a 'pro-life' pregnancy-related service center to post a sign."
He explained that the Constitution bars “compelled speech,” including mandates for introducing the subjects of abortion and birth-control.
The judge said it was “revealing” that the defendants claimed the ordinance mitigated the “harm” caused by the “propaganda” of pregnancy centers concerning abortion and contraception.
“Such descriptions can only support the conclusion that defendants enacted the ordinance out of disagreement with plaintiffs' viewpoint on abortion and birth-control.”
St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church and the Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns, which occupies space rent-free from St. Brigid’s, were parties to the lawsuit with Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore. However, both the archbishop and the church were dismissed as parties to the suit because they lacked standing.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sponsored the legislation when she was City Council president.
Opponents of the law were concerned that the local regulation was part of a budding national strategy to burden pro-life centers and to discourage pregnant women in need from keeping their babies.
On Jan. 28 Archbishop O’Brien praised the ruling as a “clear victory” both for pregnant women in need of help and for First Amendment principles.
He cited his homily at his October 2007 Mass of Installation in which he told the Church and the citizens of Maryland that abortion “need not be an ‘answer’ in this archdiocese.”
He asked women in crisis pregnancies to let Catholics “help them affirm life.” Crisis pregnancy centers provide an “integral part” of the response to pregnant women in need, he added.
“In Baltimore, these centers assist thousands of women every year who are trying to embrace the gift of life in their unborn children,” he commented. “And this ruling allows the important and compassionate work of these pro-life pregnancy centers to continue without interference from Baltimore City which sought to target these.”
Havana, Cuba, Feb 3, 2011 (CNA) - Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the apostolic nuncio to Cuba, recently stressed that the Catholic Church “plays a very important role” in the country.
Archbishop Becciu underscored the commitment of the bishops and priests to help Cubans amid the difficulties they face. His comments came in an interview published Jan. 29 by the Cuban bishops’ conference.
He also referred to the pilgrimage site, the statue of Our Lady of Charity. “Mary can help Cubans feel that they are one family,” he said, adding that after many years in which pilgrimages were prohibited, it is “amazing to see such a huge response from the people.”
“This has been a unique experience for me,” he said.
In the 1960s the Cuban government began outlawing processions and other religious acts outside of churches. Such prohibitions began to be rolled back after Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998 and the government reinstated Christmas as a holiday.
The devotion to Our Lady of Charity in Cuba dates back to 1612, when three young men found the statue in Nipe Bay. The statue bore the inscription, “I am the Virgin of Charity.”
Devotion to Our Lady of Charity quickly spread throughout the country, and years later the statue was taken to an area called Cobre, where there were numerous copper mines.
John Paul II crowned the statue as Queen and Patroness of Cuba on Jan. 24, 1998, during a Mass in Santiago.
Vatican City, Feb 3, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope has great expectations for the "Youcat," a text designed to teach young people the ABC's of Catholicism using a language tailored to their generation.
The 300-page volume is the new and official Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. A team has produced the volume and enlisted its translations under the guidance of Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, Austria, who also served as the editor of the universal 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church.
According to its American publisher Ignatius Press, the new text was produced with adolescents and young adults in mind as "an accessible, contemporary expression of the Catholic faith."
It covers questions of doctrine, the sacraments, moral life and prayer and spirituality in a format friendly to young readers. According to the publisher, it uses a straightforward question-answer format, commentary, a variety of images and a glossary of terms along with Bible passages and the words of great Catholic saints and teachers.
In a presentation during meetings last month, organizers for World Youth Day 2011 said that Youcat "is expected to become the 'go-to' catechetical resource for young people with questions about the faith."
Organizers of the international youth gathering have ordered 700,000 copies for the backpack kits to be given out to registered young pilgrims next August along with a sleeping bag, map and other accessories.
In the book's preface, published in the Jan. 3 edition of the Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI himself calls it "extraordinary."
In addition to its content, its basis in the 1992 Catechism makes it special, he writes.
As a cardinal, the Pope was heavily involved in the process of creating the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In the 1980's, Pope John Paul II asked him to organize the bishops of the world to produce a text that could explain the faith to any person. It was no simple task producing a book for readers from all cultures, backgrounds and levels of education, he recalls in the preface.
It "seemed like a miracle" when the Cathechism was finally produced, with all of the difficulty, discussion and collaboration that was needed to compile it, he writes.
The new Youth Catechism derives from that book as the response to a need for a Catechism translated into "the language of young people and to make its words penetrate their world," Pope Benedict explains.
He hopes that young people across the world will "allow themselves to be fascinated" by the adaptation designed for them.
The read is a "gripping" one, he writes, because "it speaks to us of our very destiny and because it looks at each one of us closely."
He invites youth to approach the book with passion and perseverance, to "remain in dialogue" with the faith by speaking with friends, forming study networks and exchanging ideas on the Internet.
Youth must know their beliefs and faith with the same precision as "a computer specialist knows an operating system" or "a musician knows a piece of music," he says.
"Yes, you must be more deeply rooted in the faith than your parents' generation, to be able to endure the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and decision."
He tells them not to let the evil and sin of the world, even that within the Church, keep them from learning their faith. "You carry intact the fire of your love in this Church every time that men have darkened her face," he tells them.
Cardinal Schonborn told the Vatican newspaper that the Pope was interested in every stage of the process from the very beginning. The idea for the youth-based catechism, he said, was proposed by young Catholics in Austria.
The first draft was created by a theologians and teachers in German-speaking areas. The text was then put to the test during a pair of summer camps to see if it retained its relevance across language and cultural barriers.
"In this way the entire book is an expression of the youth culture profoundly implanted with the fruitful seed of the Gospel," said Cardinal Schonborn.
The world, he added, has become so "small" that it was necessary to give young people a new perpective on the Gospel, "and 'Youcat' will be able to carry out this mission."
The resource will be available in 13 languages by April 4, 2011.
Ignatius Press has announced the English edition will be released in March 2011. Other volumes in world languages, including Chinese and Arabic, are being prepared.
Vatican City, Feb 3, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI called the sick and healthy to reflect on the wounds of Christ in a new message issued to mark the Feb. 11 celebration of the World Day of the Sick.
Top members of the Vatican's "health ministry" were at the Vatican press office Feb. 3 to release the Pope’s message.
In it, the Pope recalled the suffering of Christ he saw in the image of the Shroud of Turin during his 2010 visit to the city. The image, he said, "invites us to reflect on he who took upon himself the passion of man, of every time and place, even our sufferings, our difficulties, our sins."
The wounds present from his passion and death, "become the sign of our redemption, of forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father" gained by his resurrection, the Pope explained. The wounds were a test for the first disciple's faith and for Christians today, he pointed out.
Just as it was for the disciples, suffering is still full of mystery and difficult to bear, he wrote.
But, said the Pope, "it is precisely through the wounds of Christ that we are able to see with eyes of hope, all the evils that afflict humanity. In rising again, the Lord did not remove suffering and evil from the world, but he defeated them at their root."
He called all sick and suffering people to follow Christ as "messengers of a joy that does not fear pain, the joy of the Resurrection."
The message included a special call for young people to unite themselves to Christ in the Eucharist and to recognize and serve him in helping the poor, suffering and those in difficulty.
The Pope said all believers should join together to eliminate loneliness and be part of the great human family. He asked that the sick in particular draw from the source of Jesus' pierced heart with faith and joy.
He prayed for "peace and healing of heart" for all people and said he joins in the suffering and hopes of "each and everyone," united to them through the crucified and risen Christ.
Pope Benedict also used his message to call on health care systems to invest more in providing help and support to the suffering, particularly the poorest.
The message concluded with an invitation to all Catholics working in the health care sector to recognize Christ's face, which he called "the Face of faces," in the sick.
During the press conference, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Workers, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, emphasized that such attention to suffering in the world builds the culture of life.
He said that there are 110,000 Catholic health structures worldwide working to do so.
Boston, Mass., Feb 3, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. Bishops and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference have joined a list of 17 religious groups moving to appeal the state's rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act last year.
The groups filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the First Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 27 in support of the pro-traditional marriage act that was struck down by the court as being unconstitutional in 2010.
Attorney Daniel Avila, associate director for policy and research at the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, told CNA on Feb. 2 that the brief “shows the deep unity among a broad array of religions in support of the proposition that the marital union between one man and one woman is uniquely important as a public policy matter.”
He stressed that the “redefinition of marriage creates substantial public harm to the marriage institution.”
Among the 17 groups who've signed the brief are the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Avila explained that the Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996 by Congress and signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton. The act requires federal agencies to define “marriage” and “spouse” when these words are used in federal laws and regulations “as applying only to the marital union between one man and one woman,” he said.
However, after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in 2003 that state marriage licenses should be issued to same-sex applicants, “same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit to force the federal government to recognize their state-approved marital status under its federal programs,” Avila said.
Though same-sex “marriage” has been allowed in the state for several years, a federal judge ruling the Act as unconstitutional in July of 2010 allowed federal benefits for same-sex couples.
Avila said that the Massachusetts Catholic Conference – which represents the four Roman Catholic Ordinaries of the Archdiocese of Boston, and the Dioceses of Fall River, Springfield and Worcester – has been united with U.S. bishops in the “public debate over the definition of marriage” within the state throughout the years.
In helping file the brief in January, Avila said the bishops “decided that it was important to join with a broad array of other religious groups to demonstrate to the courts that the act is a rational exercise of federal authority that is not rooted in animus or bigotry.”
“The brief argues that rational, secular grounds complement the religious understanding of marriage as divinely ordained,” he said.
Support for the Defense of Marriage Act was clearly demonstrated by new president of the U.S. bishops' conference Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York when he outlined the legislative priorities under his leadership on Jan. 18.
Archbishop Dolan said the conference “strongly” opposes legislative or executive measures that “seek to redefine or erode the meaning of marriage.”
Avila said that now that the brief has been filed with the First Circuit Court of Appeals, a “final decision could be handed down late this year or sometime before the middle of next year.”
Oral arguments are likely to take place in the spring after the opposition files its briefs within the month, he said.