Archive of April 13, 2011

Victims of violence must not be forgotten, stress Colombian bishops

Bogotá, Colombia, Apr 13, 2011 (CNA) - The Colombian bishops are calling on society to remember the country's victims of violence.

Violence “has been a constant in the political and social history of our nation,” Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba said during an address to Colombia's Congress on April 6. “The victims of this unfortunate phenomenon have been many, but most of them go unnoticed and are forgotten.”

The bishop, who is the secretary general of the country's bishops' conference, announced that a Day of Prayer for the Victims of Violence will be observed in Colombia on Good Friday, April 22.

Bishop Cordoba said the Church considers it her task “to shed light on the victims' sufferings and to demand that legal measures be taken to fully restore the rights that were violently taken from them.”

The day of prayer is intended to be an expression of solidarity with the victims “on their journey of reconciliation and forgiveness,” the bishop stated. He urged those responsible for the conflict to realize the gravity of their crimes, seek conversion and “carry out acts of reparation in support of the victims.”

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Middle East expert warns against illusion of 'moderate' Islamists

Washington D.C., Apr 13, 2011 (CNA) - Updated April 13, 2011 at 11:13 a.m. MST. Corrects previous description of Malik as a Maronite Catholic.

Habib Malik, a Lebanese Roman Catholic scholar and human rights advocate, recently warned Western countries to be on their guard against radical Islamic forces that present themselves as political “moderates” in countries such as Libya and Egypt.

“Another fallacy is rearing its head again, and we saw this prior to 9/11,” said Malik in a March 31 address at Washington, D.C.'s Westminster Institute. “It's now coming back into the discourse, unfortunately, in Washington: this very wrong and dangerous idea that 'there are moderate fundamentalists and there are radical fundamentalists, and maybe we can talk to the moderate fundamentalists and wean them away from it.'” 

“This is garbage, and nonsense,” said Malik, author of the 2010 book “Islamism and the Future of the Christians of the Middle East,” as he described the notion of “moderate” Islamic radicalism as a fantasy entertained by the West. “It doesn't exist. There is no such thing. What appears to be moderate can, in an instant, flip and change.”

“When you're thousands of miles away, in a place like Washington, you give this armchair analysis that generates policy, about 'moderate' and 'radical' fundamentalists. This eventually translates itself very adversely, on the scene over there. It affects whole communities of Christians on the ground.”

In both Libya and Egypt, the U.S. State Department has acted and spoken in favor of movements calling for democracy and human rights while avoiding religious rhetoric. However, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood played a significant part in overturning a government they had long opposed in favor of a religious state.

Meanwhile, Libyan rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi has acknowledged the presence of fighters linked to al-Qaida among his troops. President Barack Obama told CBS Evening News in March that the Libyan rebels were “saying the right things” and appeared “credible,” although he admitted they might contain “elements that are unfriendly to the United States and our interests.”

In his remarks at the Westminster Institute, Malik used his own homeland of Lebanon to illustrate how repressive ideologies can hide behind the appearance of moderation and modernity.

“I come from Lebanon. Let me tell you, there is very little faith in people who are clean-shaven, and wear Pierre Cardin suits – like Mr. (Saad) Hariri, the now-former Prime Minister – and who appear to be modern, talk the talk and walk the walk.”

“We all know that he is tethered to a monarchy, the Saudi monarchy, that is Wahabi, that is pre-dark-ages in every definition of the term, and that is responsible – through its worldwide propaganda, and the way it has used its money – for producing the kind of virulent Islamism that produced 9/11.”

“Mr. Hariri could be a very well-meaning man,” Malik said. “But if he's in power, there is no guarantee that the 'bearded ones' won't just put him aside, any minute. These are fears that Christians have in the region. There's very little faith in this kind of 'moderation.'”

While Western power entertain hope for democracy and the flourishing of civil society in Egypt and elsewhere, Malik said local Christian communities are concerned with the prospect of other outcomes.

“What will replace these regimes? This is the question that the various Christians in the region are asking,” he noted. “Will it be similarly repressive regimes, reinventing themselves?”

“You can topple a dictator in a reasonably short period of time. But to build democracy, that's a generational project – especially in a region where the rule of law has been absent, and the importance of the individual as a citizen is missing.”

“I'm not pouring cold water on the aspirations of the youth,” Malik stated. “I'm simply giving myself, and us, a reality check. Don't expect democracy in Egypt and Tunisia next week, or six months from now.”

“It's going to take time. And the more time it takes, the more possibility there is of other forms of repression – whether Islamist, or regime-style – hijacking the whole show.”

“Christians are concerned,” he said. “And they have every reason to be.”

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Special working group created to revise 'YouCat'

Vatican City, Apr 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican is to create a special working group to review the content of the youth catechism “YouCat.” The book, launched April 13 in Rome, made headlines earlier this week when CNA revealed its Italian language edition appeared to endorse the use of contraception.

A faulty translation from the original German youth catechism was found to be at the root of the error.

At today’s launch Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, who oversaw the creation of “YouCat,” told journalists that after a meeting with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith it had been decided “that a little working group will collect all the observations, all the corrections that will arrive from the various translations, also from the German original. They will do it immediately, and then they will make a list of corrections.”

The role of doctrine congregation in that process was later clarified by the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, who told CNA “It would be wrong to say there is a special group being set up. There isn’t. There will now be a revision process, of course, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will help in that process but they won’t be doing it by themselves.”

The Italian version had already sold 14,000 copies before it was removed from sale, while a further 30,000 had been printed.

Using a question-and-answer format to explain Church teaching, it ran into trouble on Question 420: “Can a Christian couple turn to contraceptive methods?” to which the answer reads, “Yes, a Christian couple can and must be responsible about their capacity of being able to give life.” The Italian edition will now be put back on sale but with a corrective note inserted into every faulty copy.

Over 700,000 copies of “YouCat” in 13 different languages are to be distributed to pilgrims at the Aug. 15-21 World Youth Day in Madrid. A special copy was presented to Pope Benedict, following today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square. The English version, published by Ignatius Press, is not known to contain any doctrinal errors and has already sold over 13,000 copies in its first few days on sale.

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Vatican confirms ordination of bishop in China

Vatican City, Apr 13, 2011 (CNA) - The Vatican has confirmed that Paul Liang Jiansen has been ordained as bishop of the Chinese city of Jiangmen. That’s the first such ordination in China since relations between the communist state and the Holy See broke-down last year.

There had been a degree of confusion as it had not been listed in the official bulletin of the Holy See’s Press Office, the usual means of notification.

A spokesman for the Holy See, Father Ciro Benedettini, explained to CNA how the Church deals with China.

“There’s a special section in the Secretariat of State overseeing the Church there rather than going through the Congregation of Bishops or Propaganda Fide," he said. "It’s a form of protection. China has special treatment. Sometimes the news isn’t given of a new bishop’s ordination and sometimes it is. But if it is, it’s always done through L’Osservatore Romano.”

The ordination of Bishop Jiansen took place on March 30. He replaces Bishop Peter Paul Li Panshi, who died in 2007.

Neither the state-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association nor the self-described Chinese bishops’ conference acknowledge the authority of the Pope.

An agreement by which bishops in the patriotic association would receive tacit approval from the Vatican appeared to have broken down last year with China's appointment a new bishop in the northern city of Chengde. This was done without Rome's approval.

It’s estimated there are some 6 million Catholics in China, although millions more are worshiping outside the official state-sanctioned Church. The Holy See is currently concluding a three day meeting, entitled the Vatican Commission for the Church in China, which is being held to discuss the state of Catholicism in that country.

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Pope praises non-canonized saints of the Church

Vatican City, Apr 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI offered those gathered in St. Peter's Square a reflection on the “simple,” less well-known saints, as he brought his two-year stretch of teachings on the Church's saints to a close.

“In my life of faith, there are many saints, but not all of the guides on my path are great saints,” the Pope told the thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the April 13 general audience.

It’s estimated there are over 10,000 “canonized” Catholic saints – men and women who the Church declares to be in Heaven. But what of all those who are also in Heaven and have never been formally canonized? Well, it’s to such individuals that Pope Benedict turned his thoughts today.

“I look also to ‘simple’ saints, those good people I see in my life who will never be canonized, who are normal people, so to speak, without visible heroism, but in whose everyday goodness I see the truth of faith.”

Today’s address was the final installment in a series of meditations on the lives of the saints that the Pope delivered nearly every Wednesday for the past two years. Beneath the warmth of the noontide Roman sun, he urged all those present to seek holiness, describing it as “the fullness of Christian life, a life in Christ.”

Pope Benedict reminded his audience that, “(w)e are all called to saintliness: it is the very measure of Christian life." Achieving holiness, he concluded, requires opening ourselves "to the action of the Holy Spirit" so that we can become part of "the great mosaic of sainthood that God creates throughout history."

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Natural fertility training session draws record numbers

Omaha, Neb., Apr 13, 2011 (CNA) - A record number of women’s health practitioners from around the world have completed a training regimen in how to apply knowledge about the natural regulation of human fertility.

From April 2-9 the 107 practitioners gathered in Omaha, Neb. for the second phase of training by the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction.

Dr. Lewis D. Lipscomb, an OB/GYN practicing in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said that he decided to stop prescribing contraception and performing sterilization after undergoing the first phase of the training.

“I can finally go to work with a true sense of peace, knowing that I am practicing in accord with my faith, and helping to promote a culture of life, family values, and respect for sexuality,” he said.

The training, which has been offered for 33 consecutive years, concerned the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaProTechnology.

The FertilityCare System provides comprehensive and professional services through individualized follow-up, standardized teaching and ongoing research. The Creighton Model is a medically standardized modification of the Billings Ovulation method.

NaProTechnology, which stands for Natural Procreative Technology, is a system that monitors and maintains a woman's reproductive and gynecological health.

Conference attendee Joanna Najfeld of Warsaw, Poland said she was looking forward to making this “revolutionary” fertility care service accessible to women in her country.

“I strongly believe that all women deserve the empowerment that comes from self-awareness of their bodies, navigating their own fertility in an educated and reliable manner,” she remarked.

She said she would work with couples and women to teach them to navigate fertility problems. If necessary, she would help them secure the proper NaProTechnology diagnosis and treatment for infertility, miscarriages, premenstrual syndrome, postpartum depression, ovarian cysts, or other problems.

Ezenkwele Ezi, an OB/GYN practicing in Enugu, Nigeria, plans to return home and become a medical consultant for the fertility system. Dr. Ezenkwele said she was intrigued that the results of the science might help prevent breast cancer, which would be “an enormous achievement in medicine.”

Attendees at the conference also came from Mexico, Ireland, New Zealand and Canada.

Both the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaProTechnology were developed through a research and education effort coordinated by Thomas W. Hilgers, M.D., director of the Pope Paul VI Institute and clinical professor in Creighton University Medical Center’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The training conference featured the presentation of a “Fides et Ratio” medal awarded to Dr. Hilgers by the Polish Catholic Scholar’s Guild.

The Pope Paul VI Institute describes itself as the leading U.S. education and research center in the area of natural regulation of human fertility and the development of morally and professionally acceptable reproductive health services.

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Youth catechism's Italian version pulled over contraception error

Rome, Italy, Apr 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The publisher of the Italian-language edition of a youth catechism has pulled it from production because of a translation error implying the Catholic Church’s approval of contraception.

The book “YouCat” was presented officially at a Vatican press conference on April 13. Nuova Citta, the catechism’s Italian publisher, has pulled the Italian copies to fix the error, the Associated Press reports.

The catechism, which teaches readers in a question-and-answer format, addresses fertility regulation in Question 420.

The Italian-language edition asked “Can a Christian couple have recourse to contraceptive methods?” It answered “Yes, a Christian couple can and should be responsible in its faculty of being able to give life.”

Father Joseph Fessio, SJ,  the head of Ignatius Press, which is publishing “YouCat” in English, said that the Italian version incorrectly translates the German word “empfängnisregelung.” While the word literally means “birth regulation” and can signify natural family planning, it is also sometimes used to refer to “birth control” through contraceptive means.

The Italian version of the youth catechism wrongly rendered the German word as “metodi anticoncezionali,” meaning “contraceptive methods.”

The Catholic Church has always opposed the use of contraception. In the official Catechism of the Catholic Church, its use is described as “intrinsically evil.”

“The problem did not originate with the German text,” Ignatius Press President Mark Brumley said in a statement on the publisher’s website, “at least not if the Italian translation is based on the same German text as that on which Ignatius Press based its translation.”

The English and German versions of the youth catechism did not contain the error made in the Italian translation.

Fr. Fessio told the AP the translation error was “an embarrassment” but not a change in Church teaching.

He said Nuova Citta had printed 45,000 Italian copies, 15,000-16,000 of which were already sold.

Organizers of World Youth Day have already ordered 700,000 copies of “YouCat” in various languages to give to young pilgrims along with a sleeping bag, a map and other accessories.

The development of the 300-page youth catechism was overseen by Cardinal Archbishop Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, who edited the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church. The German text of “YouCat” received the approval of the Austrian bishops in March 2010.

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