Mexico City, Mexico, May 4, 2011 (CNA) - The head of the bishops’ committee on the family in Mexico recently stated that children are the country’s greatest treasure.
Bishop Francisco Javier Chavolla Ramos of Toluca, Mexico emphasized that the little ones are loved by Christ and the Church.
The bishop’s words came in a message for Children’s day, celebrated on May 2 in Mexico. He recalled the words of Jesus who said it is necessary to become like children in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
Children are the most precious treasure of the country, he continued, and they must be embraced with the same attitude of welcome and love that Jesus had for them.
“With the help of their parents and of all those who love them,” children should grow in age, wisdom and grace before God, “as Jesus did.” The bishop urged children to raise their voices in prayer for all the families of Mexico and the world, “so that our heavenly Father will fill us with blessings and give us the gift of his peace.
Toowoomba, Australia, May 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Brisbane's Auxiliary Bishop Brian V. Finnegan as administrator of the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia.
The diocese's previous bishop resigned after the Pope removed him from leadership for his remarks about women's ordination and the Eucharist.
Bishop Finnegan wrote in a May 2 letter that the new appointment was a responsibility he “hadn't personally envisaged.” He said he accepted the task “to ensure that the Pope's concern for the ongoing pastoral care of the diocese could be fulfilled.”
He acknowledged there could be “mixed feelings” surrounding the change, but said “hopefully there can be growth” for the local church as well.
Bishop William M. Morris resigned as Bishop of Toowoomba on May 2, after Pope Benedict removed him from pastoral care of the diocese. The retired bishop, who served for 18 years as the head of the southeastern Australian diocese, believes the Pope removed him for suggesting in a 2006 letter that he might ordain women, or invite protestant ministers to celebrate the Eucharist, due to a priest shortage.
Brisbane Archbishop John A. Bathersby told the Australian Associated Press that “there must be a lot of reason” behind the Pope's decision to remove the 67-year-old Bishop Morris eight years before the traditional retirement age. The archbishop appreciated the “enormous amount of work” Bishop Morris accomplished Toowoomba, but accepted the Vatican's decision as informed and authoritative.
"The Roman Catholic Church is hierarchical, and the Pope is at the top of it – and when the Pope makes a decision we accept it," said Archbishop Bathersby.
“We are made bishops by the Pope and on odd occasions the Pope himself will suggest the bishop he has appointed should no longer be in control of a diocese. That's the way it happens in the Catholic Church.”
New York City, N.Y., May 4, 2011 (CNA) - The NBC talk show “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has repeatedly smeared priests and Catholics should object, said the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
The April 29 episode of the show had a skit about the royal wedding in the United Kingdom. The stage personality Dame Edna pretended to be a British correspondent at the event and was shown taking secret footage while host Jay Leno pretended to be speaking with her live.
Dame Edna approached a vendor selling a cheese called “Stinking Bishop.”
To this, the actor responded “Stinking Bishop? My son toyed with the priesthood. Or perhaps it was the other way around.”
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, criticized the show.
“Jay Leno would not be allowed to smear over 40,000 Catholic priests—over and over again—if NBC executives objected,” Donohue charged. “His relentless assaults suggest a tolerance for bigotry that is disturbing. Leno and his scriptwriters are a sick bunch.”
He said the skit was especially “invidious” because of its “wholly gratuitous nature.”
“There is no relationship between the royal wedding and Catholic priests. No matter, the writers just decided to jam their way in with another shot at priests.”
Because numerous complaints to the show’s executive producer have been dismissed, Donohue asked Catholics to take their protest “to the top.”
He asked Catholics to contact Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, through executive vice president for publicity Rebecca Marks. Her e-mail is [email protected].
San Francisco, Calif., May 4, 2011 (CNA) - The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal challenging a San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ resolution which condemned Catholic teaching on adoption.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League called the decision “regrettable” but said that the case has helped blunt negative comments towards Catholicism in the city.
“I’m delighted that ever since this lawsuit came down, we’ve seen a pivot. Catholics are not treated with the same sort of invective and vitriol that were thrown at us in San Francisco before this lawsuit began,” Donohue told CNA on May 3.
“So I think the message was delivered. I’d like it to be delivered in a legal way as well, but there has been a taming there. I think they realized that perhaps they overstepped.”
Several individual Catholics from San Francisco and the Catholic League accused the city supervisors of expressing hostility to Catholicism and violating the constitutional requirement of government neutrality toward religion.
The Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution in March 2006 that attacked the Catholic Church’s opposition to the adoption of children by homosexuals. It reacted to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith head Cardinal William Levada’s instruction that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco stop placing children with same-sex couples.
The board’s resolution referred to the Vatican as a “foreign country” interfering in the affairs of the city. It deemed the Church’s teaching on homosexuality to be “insulting to all San Franciscans,” “hateful,” “insulting and callous,” “defamatory” and “insensitive and ignorant.”
Following several court decisions, in October 2010 11 justices of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco split several ways. Only three sided with the plaintiffs outright while five justices held that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue.
On May 2 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.
Donohue said he was “very disappointed” by the move in a case which raised questions about the separation of church and state.
“To what extent can the state create a hostile environment for religion?” he asked.
He said there would have been no issue had the board simply expressed disagreement with the Church.
“But when you have agents of the state sitting there making very hostile accusations, it runs the risk of creating a chilling effect on the freedom of speech of Catholics to voice their teachings,” he commented.
“They used the most incredible invective to try and silence the voice of the Catholic Church in San Francisco. They said that you either get on board with our positions or you’re a pariah.
“I think that’s very dangerous when the state does that.”
“They weren’t satisfied with merely disagreeing, they had to condemn and accuse (the Church) of meddling. That’s a trumped-up charge designed to intimidate Catholics in the local area,” he continued.
Then-Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who is now a Democratic state assemblyman, had sponsored the resolution and defended it in comments to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Ammiano, a self-described practicing Catholic, said his resolution didn’t target the Church but “statements that are ignorant, particularly when it comes to the lesbian (and) gay community and children.”
The Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center supported the plaintiffs.
Law center attorney Robert Muise told EWTN News in October 2010 that he questioned a legal reasoning that bars Nativity scenes but allows official condemnations of religious teachings and directives of “a pure intra-church matter” like the ethics of adoption.
Rome, Italy, May 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
“This is the photo of my life.” The words of photographer Grzegorz Galazka as he gazes onto the giant image of Blessed John Paul II now draped over the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.
“I don't know how my photo was chosen but as you can see they liked it.”
The image was unveiled to the cheers of over a million pilgrims during Sunday’s beatification ceremony. Galazka had been the official photographer to Pope John Paul on almost all of his travels from 1985 until his death in 2005.
“The photo was taken on a visit to a Roman parish on Feb. 19, 1989, one of the many trips the Pope took to Roman parishes.”
Little could Grzegorz have guessed that this photograph would be one day be adopted as the official image of a potential saint. But when he heard that those behind Pope John Paul’s cause of beatification were looking for a portrait to use in their publications, such as the magazine ‘Totus Tuus,’ he quickly realized that he had just the photo.
“I proposed it three or four times. As I work with Totus Tuus Magazine, they appreciated my work. In the end, when the moment arrived they chose my photo to be there at the beatification.”
The photograph depicts an engaging, smiling Blessed John Paul attired in white papal soutane and red cloak. So what was the man in the photograph really like?
“Well, I'm a photographer,” says Grzegorz, “so I saw him closely but always down the lens. I saw him in his happiness and in his concern. I actually got to know the Pope very well through the lens of my camera.”
A native of Poland who now lives and works in Rome, Grzegorz has found the events of the past week very moving.
“I'm very happy. In the beginning, I didn't fully understand the importance of it being chosen. This is the photo of my life. I'm just happy that others can appreciate the Pope through this photo.
Ottawa, Canada, May 4, 2011 (CNA) - Canadian Bishop Raymond J. Lahey was jailed on May 4 immediately after pleading guilty to importing child pornography into the country.
Bishop Lahey, 70, formerly led the Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia and was arrested in 2009 after Ottowa airport workers found him in possession of child pornography as he reentered the country from a trip abroad.
“My client feels, deeply and profoundly, remorse and guilt about what he has done and the offense to which he has pleaded,” the bishop's lawyer Michael Edelson told Canadian paper Metro News.
Edelson informed the court that Bishop Lahey wanted to give up his right to bail. “To signal to the court the sincerity and genuineness of his remorse, he wants to be in jail as of today's date.”
Officers conducting a search in 2009 at the Ottawa Airport found images “of concern” on Bishop Lahey’s laptop and seized it along with other media devices when the he arrived in Canada from England on Sept. 15. When a forensic examination revealed child pornography, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Further investigation of the bishop's personal computer files and electronic devices found 588 pornographic images involving pubescent boys.
Within weeks, Bishop Lahey had submitted his resignation and by November of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Brian Joseph Dunn as bishop of the Diocese of Antigonish.
Bishop Dunn, 56, formerly served as auxiliary bishop of Sault Sainte Marie, Canada.
North Easton, Mass., May 4, 2011 (CNA) - Holy Cross Family Ministries is promoting a three-month rosary campaign leading up to World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain.
The prayer initiative, called Firm in the Faith with Mary, aims to make World Youth Day, “ a truly spiritual event for all the young people,” Father John Phalen, president of the ministry, told CNA.
“We know that many young people have found their calling to a religious vocation at World Youth Day, so we're especially asking people to dedicate their rosaries to that,” he added.
The rosary campaign is being promoted by Family Rosary International, one of Holy Cross' several ministries. They are asking families and individuals to pray the rosary every Saturday from now until World Youth Day in August, for young people around the world to be awakened and deepened in their faith.
The ministry aims in particular to spread the word through social media.
Officials of Firm in the Faith with Mary said full, dynamic and up-to-date use of the internet is an opportunity not available until recently. They have a Facebook page with logos, e-flyers, banners, wallpapers, and more available for download and dissemination to motivate people to participate.
Fr. Phalen said the Facebook page only has 125 “likes” so far, but only five days into the effort, he's holding out hope. “The sky's the limit,” he said, “we want there to be many thousands of people dedicated to praying the rosary every week.”
“We may start asking people to offer up their suffering for the success of this campaign,” Fr. Phalen stated, “which is something our founder Servant of God Father Patrick Petyton, CSC, always did.”
This is the first year for Firm in the Faith with Mary, but their parent organization, Holy Cross Family Ministries, was present at the previous three World Youth Days in Australia, Germany and Canada.
They will again have a presence in Madrid.
“This year we are joining with bigger organizations such as Knights of Columbus and Sisters of Life to establish a home-away-from-home for English-speaking pilgrims,” Fr. Phalen told CNA. “We will have concerts, talks, and a cafe where young people can meet and establish relationships with each other.”
The English-speaking center called “Love and Life” will also have witness testimonies, Eucharistic adoration, prayer and movie screenings . The World Youth Day website notes that the center will be located at Palacio de Deportes, the city’s top venue for athletics and concerts.
Lahore, Pakistan, May 4, 2011 (CNA) - Responding to the death of Osama bin Laden, advocates of human rights and religious freedom in Pakistan say the real work of rooting out terrorism remains to be done.
“It is a moment of relief for many human rights activists,” said Peter Jacob, executive secretary of Pakistan's National Commission for Justice and Peace.
“There is a sense of satisfaction, too, that someone who believed in the death of others is no longer there.”
But Jacob and other Pakistani Christians worry that Bin Laden's followers “will still try to whip up hate campaigns for political gain.”
He said Bin Laden's discovery and death in the urban area of Abottabad should be a wake-up call to authorities. “Coming out of a state of denial is in everybody's interest,” he told CNA on May 2. “Extremism in Pakistan is not territory-specific, nor is the military response sufficient. The civilian leadership has to chalk out a road map to legal, economic and educational reforms.”
Jacob, whose commission promotes human rights on behalf of Pakistan's Catholic bishops, was initially skeptical about the news reports of Bin Laden's death.
“I was sitting in my office reading the newspaper, sipping tea. The newspaper did not have this news as this operation was carried out early in the morning,” he recalled.
“A colleague of mine, who had been sitting in front of the TV, entered my room and told me Osama was killed. 'Once again?' I questioned back, as I suspected that he was alive, because I had read stories claiming he was dead already.”
But the Al-Qaeda leader's May 1 death at the hands of U.S. special forces was no false alarm. Instead, it was a moment of cautious optimism.
“I think the incident will accelerate the process of rethinking among the Muslims that will marginalize rigid and violent theories in the end,” Jacob reflected. At the same time, “it is also feared that extremists will target high-profile people – as they have made it clear through a message this morning – and wage attacks.”
“The Christians in Pakistan, because they face violence in the name of religion, are cautious about their reaction for existential reasons,” he observed.
He said that the Vatican's carefully-measured message, holding Bin Laden “gravely responsible” for killing innocent people, but refusing to “rejoice” in his death, was “timely and helpful.” Jacob also hopes that the White House's message, explaining that its war on terrorism is not a fight against the religion of Islam itself, will be translated into local languages and be understood among the public.
“These is local or folk wisdom that people of Pakistan can benefit from also,” Jacob pointed out, quoting the words of the 19th century Sufi Muslim poet Mian Mohammad Bakhsh:
“Do not rejoice on the death of an enemy,
Because friends will die too one day.
Every dawn is doomed to submerge in dusk,
And don't let glee or gloom take the best of you away.”
Vatican City, May 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has revealed the theme for his next series of weekly Wednesday audiences.
“I want to start a new series of catechesis on a subject that is very dear to us all: the topic of prayer,” he told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square May 6.
Over the past two years Pope Benedict has been exploring the lives of the saints. That series of talks concluded last month. Hence the announcement of a new topic based on the request of the disciples to Christ, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
“In the following reflections we will approach the Holy Scriptures and the great tradition of the Fathers of the Church as the masters of spirituality as well as the liturgy where we learn to live more intensely our relationship with the Lord as a ‘School of Prayer.’”
“Because we know that prayer cannot be taken for granted, we must learn to pray, as if gaining back this art. Even those who are very advanced in the spiritual life always feel the need to get to school to learn to pray to Jesus with authenticity.”
The Pope took pilgrims through the history of prayer. He noted that the need to pray has manifested itself in every culture in every period of history. He made particular reference to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome.
“Throughout time man has always prayed as he cannot help but wonder what is the meaning of his existence, which remains dark and depressing if not lived in connection with the mystery of God and his plan to the world.”
“Human life is a mix of good and evil, of undeserved suffering and joy and beauty, which spontaneously and irresistibly impels us to ask God for that light and inner-strength which comes to our aid here on Earth and open up a hope that goes beyond the boundaries of death.”
The impact of the papal catecheses delivered at Wednesday audiences can often be far reaching. Between 1979 and 1984 Pope John Paul II gave series of 129 lectures on the issue of human sexuality. These went on to form the basis of the “theology of the body.”