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Archive of April 4, 2011

Cardinal urges end to 'priestly ministry' crisis

Valencia, Spain, Apr 4, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, Spain called priests to make frequent confessions in order to end “the crisis in priestly ministry.”

The cardinal made his remarks in Valencia during an April 1 conference.

He noted that both Pope Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II made enormous efforts to end “the crisis in priestly ministry.”

To accomplish this, he explained, priests must “truly” believe in God and “understand the priesthood.” They should “love Christ and God in a dynamic way,” because “in order to love one’s neighbor, he must first love God.”

Cardinal Rouco urged priests “to live in a state of grace,” emphasizing that frequent confession is “essential.” The “exercise of obedience,” which he described as “living the cross,” is also necessary even if it leads to “suffering.” 

The cardinal said the crisis “is beginning to subside” after it reached a crescendo between 1965 and 1985. 

He noted that during this period, many abandoned the priesthood and religious life. Priestly celibacy was often questioned and “alternative forms of living the priestly ministry” emerged in opposition to the traditional priestly role, the cardinal said.

Some “tried to reconcile the work of the Church with other civil activities” at the public and private levels. “Thus secularization advanced” while “the sense of the priesthood” began to slip away, he stated.

However, “a proposal of spiritual renewal in the lives of priests” emerged from the Second Vatican Council,” the cardinal said. This renewal has been carried forward by John Paul II and his successor, Benedict XVI, he added.

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Pope approves new ‘blesseds’ from Spanish Civil War, French Revolution

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Twenty-two martyrs of the Spanish Civil War and a priest beheaded during the French Revolution will be declared “blessed” by the Church in coming months.

On April 2, the Pope met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, to review canonization causes up for advancement.

The Vatican announced April 2 that Pope Benedict XVI had approved 29 beatification decrees and recognized the "heroic virtue" of six candidates for sainthood.

The causes of Father Francisco Esteban Lacal of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and 21 of his companions – among them Oblate students, religious and priests – were approved for martyrdom. They were killed in 1936 along with a layman, Candido Castan San Jose, after a series of persecutions against them for their work in religious communities and parishes.

It is estimated that nearly 7,000 clergy and religious, including 12 bishops, were killed for their faith during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War.

The Vatican also determined that Father Peter Adrian Toulorge of the Premonstratensian Regular Canons died as a martyr during the French Revolution. He was guillotined in Coutances, France in 1793 for being a Catholic priest.

His cause was opened in 1922, along with those of 56 other priests from France's Normandy region.

In addition to the newly declared martyrs, the Vatican approved miracles attributed to the intercession of two priests and three religious sisters from Italy and Spain, thus paving the way for their beatifications.

Among them is Father Clemente Vismara, an Italian priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions who died in 1988 at 91 years old. The miracle involved a 10-year old boy in Myanmar, where Fr. Vismara worked.

The boy hit his head on a rock after he fell from a tree branch 15-feet above the ground. He went into a coma, but after three days of prayer for Fr. Vismara's intercession, the boy woke up and suffered no permanent damage.

Although no canonization causes were approved to fully recognize sainthood, six Catholic faithful were recognized for having shown "heroic virtue" in their lives. Bishop Thomas Kurialacherry, the first bishop of Changanacherry, India, Canadian religious Br. Theophanius-Leo Chatillon of the Brothers of Christian Schools and 14-year old Bernhard Lehner, a courageously faithful German teenager who died from an illness in 1944 were among them.

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New pro-life news source aims for cultural impact

Denver, Colo., Apr 4, 2011 (CNA) - Heroic Media, a faith-based company that promotes alternatives to abortion through mass media, has launched an online news portal at Heroicnews.org. The initiative is aimed at making a broad cultural impact, complementing its current outreach to women in crisis pregnancies.

“Heroic Media has always had two goals: to provide women facing unexpected pregnancies with hopeful alternatives through mass media advertising, and to create a culture of life,” explained Heroic Media founder Brian Follett.

While the company's billboards and other advertisements address the first concern on an immediate level, Heroicnews.org exists to change attitudes and strengthen the pro-life cause.

The service will address a range of related cultural issues in addition to abortion, including euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, traditional marriage, and human cloning.

Jenny Uebbing, Heroic News' English-language editor, described the service as “the long-awaited answer to mainstream media's one-dimensional coverage of the most pressing issues of our time.”

By compiling news from a range of trusted sources, she hopes to promote a universal vision of human dignity rooted in Christian values.

“Heroic speaks into the intellectual and moral void of online news bringing fresh, relevant and hopeful content to a world in need of good news,” Uebbing said.

Alejandro Bermudez, a board member at Heroic, believes the initiative could have a global impact.

“If mass media didn’t impact the way people think and act,” Bermudez observed, “why would so many corporations and governments use it?”

A Spanish-language version of the service, Noticias Heroicas, has also begun operating at noticiasheroicas.org. Its editor Alejandro Lostaunau expects to engage a large audience, especially in countries whose traditions of faith and family have come under threat in recent times.

“From Spain, where these issues play a key cultural role, to Costa Rica, which has one of the strongest pro-life and pro-family traditions, these issues are paramount to faithful Christians,” he said. “Noticias Heroicas keeps them informed and engaged.”

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Oct. 27 set as date of Assisi gathering for world peace

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI will call people of goodwill to join him in working for peace during a "day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world" to be held in Assisi on Oct. 27.

At the start of the year, the Pope announced his plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul's World Day of Prayer from Peace.

The Vatican announced April 2 that it will take place on the exact anniversary of the original event in 1986.

"Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace" is the theme of the encounter to which the Vatican will invite people of good will of all major creeds and none at all to take part.

"Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness. Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism," said the Vatican.

John Paul II's event came under fire for seemingly promoting a united prayer from participants, which critics have said gave mixed signals to the world, blurring the lines between one religion and another. According to the Vatican’s April 2 communique, Pope Benedict’s gathering will not feature communal prayer as part of the agenda.

The Vatican said in the same statement that the event can be thought of as a pilgrimage for truth that will open a dialogue without excluding certain groups, committing all to fraternity and peace.

For this reason, explained the Vatican, "seekers of truth" who are conscious of a shared responsibility for justice and peace but do not belong to any religion will also be invited.

Participants will travel by train from Rome to Assisi on the morning of the event.

Following a shared lunch and a period of silence for individual reflection and prayer, the group will make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Francis.

Every moment will focus around the contemplation of peace.

The final moment of the day will be a shared and solemn renewal of the delegates' joint commitment to peace.

To prepare for the event, the Pope will lead a prayer vigil at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on the evening of Oct. 26. Church communities are invited to organize simultaneous events to pray for its success.

According to the statement, "the Pope asks the Catholic faithful to join him in praying for the celebration of this important event and he is grateful to all those who will be able to be present in Saint Francis’ home town to share this spiritual pilgrimage."

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Archbishop Chaput praises defeat of Colorado civil unions bill

Denver, Colo., Apr 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Colorado legislators who killed a civil unions bill “did the right thing” and deserve voters’ thanks, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver said. He warned that the proposal would increase pressure for “gay marriage” and will likely return “whether Coloradans like it or not.”
 
Opponents of the bill acted in the face of “unfriendly media coverage and heavy political pressure,” the archbishop wrote in his weekly column for the Denver Catholic Register. Tabling the bill “took courage, especially in an environment of bitter criticism.”

The proposal, S.B. 172, would have created civil unions for homosexual and unmarried heterosexual couples. It failed in the Republican-controlled Colorado House Judiciary Committee by a party line vote of 6-5.

Archbishop Chaput criticized civil unions, saying the basic rights of homosexual persons are already guaranteed. The civil unions debate, he said, is not about love or personal equality, which civil unions ensure no better than marriage.

“The civil unions debate is finally about securing legitimacy for social arrangements and personal behaviors that most societies and religious traditions have found problematic from long experience,” he wrote.

People see the unions as morally troubling not because they are hateful, fearful, bigoted or uneducated, but because “they’ve carefully thought through the implications for society at large,” the Denver archbishop said.

“Same-sex unions, whatever legal form they take, cannot create new life. They cannot duplicate the love of a man and woman. But they do copy marriage and family, and in the process, they compete with and diminish the uniquely important status of both.”

Civil unions do not lessen the political pressure for “gay marriage” but increase it, he warned.

He added that Colorado voters rejected a ballot proposal for domestic partnerships in 2006.

“One of the lessons we need to learn from California’s continuing Proposition 8 battle is that when it comes to the cultural struggle over marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships, the ‘will of the people’ is rarely sovereign,” Archbishop Chaput said. “The mass media, the courts and aggressive special interests treat an annoying popular vote as not much more than modeling clay that needs to be reworked.”

The state’s Republicans have a bare majority of 33-32 in the House of Representatives. Civil unions advocates have pledged to work to elect a Democratic legislature in 2012.

Archbishop Chaput’s column also included contact information for the House Judiciary Committee members who voted to kill the bill: Reps. Bob Gardner, Mark Barker, Brian DelGrosso, B.J. Nikkel, Jerry Sonnenberg and Mark Waller.

He asked readers to contact the legislators, thank them and “encourage them with your support.” He also asked readers to contact their own state senator and representative to express support for marriage and opposition to civil unions.

“This is the kind of issue that can influence the future for decades. What you think, what you say and what you do today matters,” he said.

Archbishop Chaput’s full column can be found at: http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/5791

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Priests not immune from the devil, cardinal warns

Santiago, Chile, Apr 4, 2011 (CNA) - Vatican Cardinal Jorge Medina recently reminded Catholics that priests are not immune from the devil's works.

“Any informed Christian knows we are prone to weakness because of our human fragility. The devil gets in where he can.

“Priests are not immune from his snares,” the cardinal said in an interview with the magazine Caras. He made his statement in reaction to a sexual abuse case involving a prominent Chilean priest.

Cardinal Medina then defended the Vatican-imposed sanctions on Fr. Fernando Karadima. “Canon Law allows for leniency, especially when the person in question is elderly or recognized for his merits.”

Fr. Karadima was found guilty of sexual abuse by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith last February. After the investigation, he was ordered to retire to life of prayer and penance.

“Forbidding him to publicly celebrate the sacraments, from having contact with his former parish, and confining him to a quiet place is no small matter,” the cardinal said. “The only worse sanction would be to canonically expel him from the priesthood,” he added.

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Report: Pope removes Congo bishop for serious mismanagement

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - A French Catholic media outlet is reporting that the Vatican stripped a bishop in Congo of his diocese because of “grave management problems” and "strong tensions" within his diocese.

France's I.Media reported that the Vatican took action after all available options were exhausted. The Vatican has not commented on the case or the I.Media report.

The rare step was announced by the Vatican March 31 in its daily news bulletin. The Vatican said only that Bishop Jean-Claude Makaya Loemba of Pointe-Noire, Congo had been "removed" from the pastoral care of his diocese.

The bishop had been in the position since 1995, when he was consecrated a bishop at 40 years of age.

The Vatican’s unusual action has raised questions because it did not cite any Church laws as a reason for its action.

There are two routes for resignation backed by the Church’s Code of Canon Law. Either the bishop steps down having reached the 75-year age limit for bishops or resigns early because of poor health or another "grave cause" that renders him less able to fulfill his office.

Grave causes for which the Vatican may request that a bishop step down include mismanagement of diocesan finances, property or clergy. In all these cases, the bishop is asked to resign and the Pope accepts.

Reasons are never specified in the Vatican's press bulletin announcing such resignations, but the appropriate Canon Law section is always cited.

The most recent resignation of this nature was that of Bishop Michael John Malone of Maitland-Newcastle, Australia, whose request was accepted on April 4.

According to "The Australian," Bishop Malone had cited exhaustion following allegations of child abuse by priests that pre-dated his appointment.

For Congolese Bishop Makaya Loemba, no canons were cited when his removal was announced. According to French media, the action was taken because he did not agree with the Vatican's request for his resignation.

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