Archive of February 15, 2011

Archbishop of Lublin, Poland dies suddenly in Rome

Rome, Italy, Feb 15, 2011 (CNA) - Archbishop Jozef Zycinski of Lublin died of a sudden heart attack in Rome on Feb. 10 at the age of 62. The philosopher, theologian and teacher was remembered as a leading voice in the Polish Church.

“Zycinski's sparkling intellect was always in high demand,” Polskie Radio reported.

He was a regular speaker across Poland who also lectured abroad at universities like Oxford and Berkeley. He also wrote for the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

Fr. Adam Boniecki, editor-in-chief of the Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszcechny, said the archbishop was “a face of the Polish Church.”

“Listening to him, many people breathed a sigh of relief that one can think in this way,” he said.

Zycinski had served as Archbishop of Lublin since 1997. Lublin remains an important see in the Catholic Church in Poland, as the Catholic University of Lublin enjoys considerable prestige.

The archbishop will be buried in the cathedral in Lublin. The likely date of his funeral is Feb. 19

Auxiliary Bishop of Lublin Mieczyslaw Cislo told Tygodnik Powszcechny that the archbishop died of a heart attack, and not a brain hemorrhage or stroke as earlier reported.

Bishop Cislo will head the archdiocese until a new archbishop is appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.

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Hopes for pro-life pregnancy initiative brighter under new Kansas governor

Topeka, Kan., Feb 15, 2011 (CNA) - A crisis pregnancy program in Kansas is facing a brighter future under Gov. Sam Brownback, who's made it a priority to fund the effort in his proposed budget.

Kansas Catholic Conference executive director Michael Schuttloffel told CNA that previous state governors had been “hostile” to the local Stan Clark Pregnancy Maintenance Initiative and had instead supported funding for Planned Parenthood.

“So the message Kansas sent was: We wholeheartedly support taxpayer funding for the prevention of pregnancy. But we don’t have a dime for you once you are pregnant and in need,” Schuttloffel said.

“Fortunately, there has been a significant course correction in Kansas with respect to the life issues,” he said.

In a Feb. 14 e-mail, the Kansas Catholic Conference director explained that Gov. Brownback – who was sworn in on Jan. 10 – included $350,000 for the Stan Clark program in his budget proposal last month.

Schuttloffel called the move “a major turning point” for the crisis pregnancy effort, saying that instead “of having a governor who is fundamentally hostile to the program, we have one who is actually asking for it to be funded.”

The initiative is important, he said, “because the Pro-Life movement is about more than just placing restrictions on abortion.”

“It is fundamentally about helping the vulnerable, born and unborn. Helping pregnant women to choose life is critical to the Pro-Life project, which this program does,” he said. “This program is in essence a statement by the state that we want to support pregnant women, we want them to know that they do not have to face a challenging pregnancy alone, and that we want to help them choose life.”

The initiative was first proposed in the 1999 Kansas legislative session. It awards competitive-based grants to not-for-profit organizations to provide an array of social services to pregnant women and, if necessary, for up to one year after their child's birth. Among the services provided are counseling on alternatives to abortion and facilitation of adoption.

Schuttloffel added that the program is administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Bureau of Family Health, Children & Families and that funding is dependent on annual appropriation by the Kansas Legislature. 

He noted that although there have been “legislators who have not been helpful to varying degrees,” major opposition to the program has come from specifically from past governors. “There really aren’t any legislators who have had the nerve to stand up and say they oppose funding for pregnant women in need.”  

The pattern, historically, “has been for the Legislature to support the program only to have the governor work against it,” he said.  

Although confirmation of the budget proposal won't likely take place until May, “we won’t have to wait and wonder whether the governor will veto the funding,” Schuttloffel said. “We know he supports it.”

Several crisis pregnancy centers across the U.S. have encountered difficulties from pro-abortion lawmakers who've sought to undermine state funding for the centers or increase legislative red tape.

In recent months, the New York Council proposed legislation that would sharply regulate crisis pregnancy centers that do not provide abortion and contraception. A critic called the move “part of a national strategy by Planned Parenthood and NARAL to attack pro-life pregnancy centers.”

Christopher Bell, co-founder with Father Benedict Groeschel of Good Counsel Inc., told CNA last October 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.


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Chart-topping Confession app draws Catholic and non-Catholic interest

South Bend, Ind., Feb 15, 2011 (CNA) - Sales of Little iApps' new iPhone “Confession” application have exceeded the developers' expectations, with the program rising to the top of Apple's “Lifestyle” application charts, and even drawing the interest of those outside of the Catholic Church.

“Several Protestant ministers have recommended our app,” Little iApps' co-founder and developer Ryan Kreager told CNA on Feb. 14.

Those recommendations may have played a part in raising “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” to the number 1 spot in the “Lifestyle” section of the Apple's app store, a position it has held since Feb. 9. The program, which also runs on an iPad or an internet-enabled iPod, is currently among Apple's top 100 total applications.

“The response that we've gotten from non-Catholics – from our Protestant brothers in Christ, as well as those outside the Christian faith – has been largely positive,” said Kreager.

Some of that outside interest comes from a desire to understand what Catholics believe and practice. But Kreager noted that non-Catholics may find its moral evaluation personally useful. “The Examination of Conscience' portion gives anyone an opportunity to consider: 'How am I doing in my walk with God?'”

Catholics believe that seriously immoral acts must be confessed to a priest, in accordance with Jesus' granting his Apostles the power to forgive or retain sins on his behalf. However, the Church also acknowledges the genuine value of sincere repentance, even among those who do not accept this important teaching.

Initially, some media reports on Little iApps' product created confusion about this teaching by giving the impression that the app was a substitute for confessing to a priest. On Feb. 9, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi clarified what the developers had always made clear – that the program was intended for use in the context of a proper sacramental confession, with priestly absolution.

That misunderstanding, Kreager said, had actually provided a further opportunity to explain the sacrament of Confession to non-Catholics. The clarification has also served to help lapsed or confused members of the Church understand the value of going to Confession.

“We think that the statement by the Vatican – which we stand 100 percent behind – is great,” Kreager stated. “It gives people an opportunity to talk about Confession in a public forum. That's always a great thing, and a teaching moment.”

Plenty of Catholics are hearing the message, and realizing they are long overdue for a visit.

“People have emailed us saying they hadn't been to Confession in 20 or 30 years, and were afraid to go back. But then, they went – because our app made it a less 'scary' experience.” Kreager said he and his fellow developers, Patrick and Chip Leinen, were “extremely humbled” by these reports.

“Confession: A Roman Catholic App” is the first iPhone app to receive an “imprimatur,” signifying the official approval from a Catholic bishop – in this case, Bishop Kevin C. Rhodes of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind. Although this step seems unusual, Kreager considers it in keeping with Catholic tradition.

“If you think back to the first book ever printed on a printing press, by Gutenberg, it was a Bible,” he noted. “The Church has had a long and rich history of embracing technologies for deepening of spiritual life and evangelization.”

He hopes that Little iApps' future products will help to “bring all of the beauty and richness of the Catholic faith into this new and very interactive world of technology.”

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Peruvian archbishop urges political candidates to outline positions on moral issues

Lima, Peru, Feb 15, 2011 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren of Piura, Peru is calling on the country's presidential and congressional candidates to clearly outline their positions on abortion, marriage and the legalization of drugs.

At Mass on Feb. 13, the archbishop said Peruvians “do not want to go the polls ‘guessing,’ but rather we want to know who you are and what you really intend to do as leaders.”

Archbishop Eguren then referred to a poll released on Feb. 8 which showed that 92.2 percent of Peruvians disapprove of the legalization and consumption of drugs, 69.5 percent oppose homosexual unions and 76.3 percent are against abortion.

The results of this poll show that the Peruvian people “do not want ideologies foreign to our common sense, our Christian faith and the values that define us as Peruvians to govern us over the next five years.”

“We Peruvians reject all outside pressure and the pressure from small internal groups aligned with the anti-life and anti-family agendas that aim to impose on us the abominable crime of abortion,” he said.

Marriage, he added, will always be the loving union between one man and one woman, open to life. 

The archbishop urged Peruvians to draw close to Christ and to not be content with mediocrity.

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Monstrance with Blessed Sacrament stolen from parish in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Feb 15, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Two individuals stole a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament from a parish located in Majadahonda, a suburb of Madrid, Spain.

Fr. Juan Francisco Perez, the parish pastor of St. Catherine's, said the incident occurred at 6 p.m. on Feb. 11. He told Europa Press that two individuals grabbed the monstrance and left.

Police confirmed that the monstrance was indeed stolen and that an investigation is under way. 

Fr. Perez said police dusted for fingerprints at the parish and were given descriptions by witnesses who were present at the Church.

This was not the first time the parish has been the target of such incidents. “On Christmas Eve somebody set fire to the main door,” Fr. Perez added. 

Mayor Narciso de Foxa of Majadahonda expressed solidarity with Fr. Perez and his parishioners, saying he is “profoundly indignant” over the “attack,” which demonstrates “the intolerance of these people.”

“We will continue to work until we discover who is behind such grave acts that are disrespectful to all Catholics,” he promised.

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Mexican bishop emphasizes irreplaceable value of the family in society

Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 15, 2011 (CNA) - Bishop Francisco Chavolla Ramos of Toluca, Mexico is reminding Catholics that Pope Benedict XVI has called for prayers for families during the month of February.

Bishop Chavolla reflected on the Pope's prayer intention in a message published Feb. 14 of the Mexican bishops' conference website.

The family, the bishop stressed, originates in the marriage between one man and one woman and is called to be open to life.

The future of humanity passes through the family, Bishop Chavolla said. He urged Catholics to pray that the role of the family be respected in society and that its “irreplaceable contribution” be recognized.

“This is the reason for which I am inviting you to be united in this intention of the Successor of Peter through prayer in the month of February. Let us pray that the Church will untiringly promote the family ministry that will influence society,” the bishop said.

He encouraged Catholics to join in Pope Benedict's prayer intention by offering Masses, Holy Hours and Rosaries.

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Budget cuts must protect poor and vulnerable, say US bishops

Washington D.C., Feb 15, 2011 (CNA) - A group of more than 300 Catholic leaders met with members of Congress on Feb. 15, to share a message from the U.S. bishops –  urging legislators to remember the needs of the poor and vulnerable, as they make cuts to the federal budget.

Participants in the 2011 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (Feb. 13-16) took the bishops' message to Capitol Hill, delivering letters from two committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops during a day of visits with U.S. representatives and senators. The letters express concern over what Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, chairman for International Justice and Peace, described as “disproportionate cuts in programs that serve the most vulnerable” to the Fiscal Year 2011 Continuing Appropriations Resolution.

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman for Domestic Justice and Human Development, warned lawmakers against the temptation to “secure the nation while at the same time furthering the insecurity of the poor and vulnerable in our midst.”

“Decisions should be made that not only reflect a commitment to national and long term fiscal security but demonstrate justice, compassion and fairness,” wrote Bishop Blaire.

“Our plea, then, is simple: Put the poor and vulnerable first as you consider how to spend limited federal resources.”

Bishop Blaire's call reflected the Church's authoritative social teaching, which states that both individuals and societies must prioritize the needs of the most vulnerable in their public and private decisions. Accordingly, he criticized proposals to cut funding for community health centers, affordable housing programs, job training and refugee relief.

But the Bishop of Stockton praised the proposed budget for regarding the rights of other vulnerable human persons, by retaining language against abortion funding, and seeking to restore a ban on funding of abortion in the District of Columbia.

The letter from Bishop Hubbard, co-written with Catholic Relief Services' president Ken Hackett, called attention to the importance of foreign aid, a small portion of the U.S. budget which could nevertheless come in for significant reduction. An analysis by Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops showed foreign aid being cut at 10 times the rate of the budget as a whole under the proposed resolution.

Hackett and Bishop Hubbard said they strongly approved of the bill's proposal to restore the Mexico City Policy – which denies funding to international groups that perform or promote abortion – and to cut funding to the U.N. Population Fund, which supports forced abortion and sterilization in China.

“Unfortunately,” they noted, “the Continuing Resolution also makes dramatic cuts that are life-threatening.”

“Cuts at the level being considered will result in the loss of innocent lives: persons with HIV no longer able to access life-saving anti-retroviral medications; refugees and victims of natural disaster succumbing to starvation and hunger-related illnesses; and poor families unable to grow what they need to survive.”

They urged Congress to “find resources elsewhere, in programs that do not serve the poorest persons and communities.”

“In times of fiscal restraint,” they pointed out, “shared sacrifice demands that the entire budget be examined, including defense.”

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