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Archive of May 16, 2011

Family groups condemn 'kiss-in' set to take place in Paraguay

Lima, Peru, May 16, 2011 (CNA) - Family organizations in Paraguay are condemning a “kiss-in” organized by the group Somos Gay (We are gay).

Maria Celia de Meyer, secretary general of the Federation of Associations for Life and the Family in Paraguay told CNA that many politicians in Paraguay “show no interest in the family and morality, preferring instead to promote these kinds of things,” which same-sex groups hope will “get the people used to this and see it as something normal.”

“We are very concerned about the break-down of the family here in Paraguay, especially the absence of the father,” said Meyer. “It is possible that because of these kinds of influences young people and children could be pulled into this homosexual tendency,” she added.

The “kiss-in” is intended to promote the celebration of the country’s bicentennial by encouraging Paraguayans to “build a common future without homophobia, sexism or discrimination.” 

“Come with your partner (whether lesbian, gay, bi, trans or heterosexual) and let’s celebrate Paraguay’s Bicentennial with a kiss,” the promotional posters state. They depict same-sex couples dressed in 19th century clothing and kissing each other.

The federation called the posters an offense against the country’s national heroes and the bicentennial, noting that children have been scandalized and confused by them. It also said the posters violate Paraguayan law, which prohibits acts of exhibitionism that impact children.

The federation called for the posted to immediately be removed from public places and for the kiss-in to be suspended.

The Spanish daily ABC reported that the president of the Asuncion City Council, Hugo Ramirez said he was opposed to the “kiss-in” and thought the entire council should move to prohibit such activities.  He criticized homosexual groups for dressing up as Paraguay’s founding fathers to promote the event, calling it a slap in the face to the country’s bicentennial and the family.

“We teach our children what a national hero is, a true hero,” which the “kiss-in” posters distort, he said.

Ramirez noted he has “nothing against homosexuality, but this society is very conservative and pro-family. He then slammed Somos Gay for failing to take into consideration the celebration of Mother’s Day in the country on May 15.

“It is very disconcerting to see that because of these posters against family values and the country, mothers cannot celebrate their day with joy, knowing that the role they play in marriage is being denigrated throughout the city,” he said.

Same-sex unions are not legal in Paraguay.

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Catholics in Glasgow remember WWII victims with memorial

Glasgow, Scotland, May 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new cathedral cloister garden dedicated to the more than 100 Scots-Italians who died in a wartime tragedy has been officially opened by Glasgow’s archbishop. The memorial remembers those who were were killed on board the cruise ship ‘Arandora Star’ in 1940.

Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow, himself a Scots-Italian, says the new monument-- an interactive installation-- is designed to encourage people to “reflect on the great mysteries of life, death and resurrection.”

“What people will see and experience on a visit to the garden is a result of the generosity of today's Scots-Italian community who raised the funds to create the installation,” said the archbishop as the only remaining survivor of the tragedy, 91-year-old Rando Bertoia, listened to his words.

Most Italians living in the U.K. were detained after the outbreak of the Second World War. The ‘Arandora Star’ had been taking such internees to Canada. Off the coast of Ireland, though, it was struck by a German torpedo. About 100 Scots-Italians were among the 800 victims of the attack.

The silver-mirrored central monument, which organizers say is the largest in the world dedicated to the tragedy, stands next to a 200-year-old olive tree that was donated by the people of Tuscany, Italy. It sits next to the newly refurbished St. Andrew’s Cathedral, which was re-opened only last month after three years of restoration work.

Archbishop Conti was joined for today’s inaugurated by Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland, who helped launch the project three years ago.

“This oasis of peace and contemplation at St. Andrew’s Cathedral is a magnificent tribute to those who tragically lost their lives aboard the Arandora Star during the Second World War and to the part the Scots-Italian community plays in the rich tartan fabric of our nation.”

Also present today was Giulia Chiarini, the Roman architect who designed the garden and monument, as well as the mayors of the Italian towns from which most Scot-Italians hail - Barga and Pistoia in Tuscany and Picinisco and Filignano in the Lazio region.

While the garden was being blessed, Scots-Italian opera singer Luigi Corvi sang Schubert’s Ave Maria, accompanied by musicians from Milan.

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Mexican bishop reiterates Church teaching on homosexuality

Lima, Peru, May 16, 2011 (CNA) - The director of the Mexican bishops' Family Ministry Office issued a statement reiterating the Church’s teachings on homosexuality.

Bishop Francisco Javier Chavolla told CNA that he hopes his statement will clarify what the Church teaches about those who have homosexual tendencies and the pastoral care they should receive.

He noted that the teaching that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered is based on natural law because “(same-sex couples) do not produce genital complementarity and are not ordered towards the procreation of the human species.”

At the same time, he said, the Church distinguishes between homosexual acts and homosexual tendencies, the latter which “does not of itself constitute a moral disorder. The homosexual act, however, is considered a moral disorder and objectively grave sin.”

In accord with the teaching of Jesus, he continued, the Church extends mercy and understanding to practicing and non-practicing homosexuals alike, “recognizing their personal dignity and status as children of God, above all.”  The Church exhorts them to live in chastity with the aid of penance and the sacraments, as “all Christians are called to holiness” and “to follow the will of God.”

The Church’s stance against homosexual unions does not amount to discrimination, the bishop said, but rather is part of her duty to guard the institution of marriage and the family, “based on the marriage between one man and one woman,” which is essential for stability in society.

Bishop Chavolla said the Church’s pastoral ministry extends to all the baptized regardless of their gender, age, civil status or condition.

“The moral status of a baptized person is private, and priests are obligated to respect the seal of the sacrament or exercise prudence in the case of a consultation, and such is the case with homosexuals who approach the Church. 

“In any case, the Church … will seek to accompany them in their spiritual journey,” he said.

“A ministry aimed directly at homosexual persons could expose someone who would otherwise prefer to keep their struggle private, but the Church reaches out to those who publicly manifest themselves as such,” the bishop said.

The Church’s magisterium, summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, contains countless anthropological, biblical and theological principals that can inspire and enlighten those engaged in pastoral ministry, Bishop Chavolla said, but “it essential they be studied and adapted to the concrete circumstances of individuals, communities and their cultures.”

Bishop Chavolla’s statements contrast with the positions taken by Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of the Diocese of Santillo. Bishop Vera has repeatedly expressed his support of same-sex unions and of the San Elredo Community, an organization that holds positions on homosexuality contrary to the Church’s teachings.

In March of this year, Bishop Vera expressed support for a forum on sexual diversity organized by the San Elredo Community, which promoted the homosexual lifestyle and the adoption of children by same-sex couples.

Fr. Robert Coogan, the American priest who founded San Elredo, told CNA that the group’s work is not contrary to the teachings of the Church. “The only answer the Catechism gives is to tell them to be celibate, and that is not enough.”

The priest expressed his own stance in favor of homosexual unions and adoptions saying, “We have the firm support of the bishop.”

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Vatican sets May 2012 deadline for global abuse guidelines

Vatican City, May 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Catholic Church is giving bishops worldwide until May next year to draw up new guidelines for dealing with cases of child sex abuse.

The deadline is included in a new letter that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has sent to the world’s bishops.

“The aim is to give bishops a strong common denominator for drafting guidelines appropriate to their own national situation, with its unique culture and legislation,” said Vatican spokesman, Father Frederico Lombardi, SJ, at a press conference releasing the document May 16.

The letter is dated May 3 and is signed by the doctrine congregation’s head, Cardinal William Levada. It gives nine recommendations for bishops and episcopal conferences to consider:

--The sexual abuse of minors is a grave crime. Because of that all credible allegations should be referred to the Vatican.

--The person who reports the abuse should be treated with respect.

--The local Church should offer spiritual and psychological assistance to victims.

--The initial inquiry into any allegations should respect privacy and the good name of those involved.

--The accused priest should be informed of the accusation and given opportunity to respond unless there is serious reason not to do so.

--The ultimate responsibility for handling the case lies with the local bishop, although advisory groups or experts can assist.

--The law in each country regarding the reporting of such allegations to civil authorities should be followed.

--During the investigatory stage the local Church still has a duty of care towards the accused person.

--While always innocent till proven guilty, a priest can be removed from public ministry if their continued presence would endanger minors or cause scandal.

Fr. Lombardi says these nine points should help to provide a common approach throughout the world.

“Countries like the U.S., U.K., Germany and Ireland already have similar guidelines but the idea is to push other conferences where problems have not been so pronounced.”

The guidelines employed by the U.S. bishops arguably go further than today’s Vatican suggestions. American priests can be being suspended automatically during any investigation if the bishop deems the evidence significant enough.

Presently those countries which choose not to have guidelines – such as Italy – are guided by canon law and by a papal directive issued by Pope John Paul II in 2001. At that time, he raised the age at which a person is deemed to be a minor from 16 to 18.

That directive’s provisions were significantly strenghtened by Pope Benedict XVI last year. He increased the time-limit under which cases can be brought against alleged perpetrators from 10 to 20 years after a victim’s 18th birthday and created a fast-track by which guilty clerics can be dismissed from the priesthood. The downloading or distribution of child pornography was also added to the list of grave offenses.

Today’s guidelines are another reflection of Pope Benedict XVI’s attitude towards what he’s previously called the “filth” of clerical sex abuse.

The Vatican’s guidelines also say the Pope provides the model for how a bishop should deal with the issue. The new letter highlights “his availability to meet with and listen to the victims of sexual abuse” over the six years of his pontificate. It also quotes his 2010 pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

“You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.”

The Vatican is also suggesting preventative measures, including better screening of applicants for the priesthood.

“Particular attention, moreover, is to be given to the necessary exchange of information in regard to those candidates to the priesthood or religious life who transfer from one seminary to another, between different dioceses, or between religious Institutes and dioceses.”

The Vatican also said that formation should continue after ordination.

“Priests should be well informed of the damage done to victims of clerical abuse. They should also be aware of their own responsibilities in this regard in both canon and civil law. They should as well be helped to recognize the potential signs of abuse perpetrated by anyone in relation to minors.”

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Knights leader says Christian families should shine with authentic love

Rome, Italy, May 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - As the world looks at Christian families today, it needs to see authentic love and that living the faith is possible. That’s how Carl Anderson sums up what he’s been saying in Rome over the past few days.

The head of the Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus is attending a three-day conference at the Pontifical Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. CNA caught up with him on May 14, before he headed back to the U.S.

“Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul have spoken so often about the necessity of witness and the witness of Christians individually, in their marriages and in their families. And we have a lot of different disputes about philosophies, politics or economic systems, but what we can all agree on is that every single one of us is looking for authentic love,” he said.

This is the theme of much, if not most, of Carl Anderson’s work – love. In fact, he is the author of five books, including ‘Called to Love: Approaching John Paul II’s Theology of the Body,’ and ‘A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Tranform the World’.

“Every single one of us realizes at some level that unless we find authentic love our life is meaningless. It doesn’t have a full purpose. And, who has a better message as to what authentic love is than Christians? This is the primary task of Christianity today and Christians today. It’s through their actions and through their lives to witness to those around them that there is an authentic love and Christians understand what that is.”

The particular focus of the conference is Blessed Pope John Paul II’s 1981 document on the family, “Familiaris Consortio – On the role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.”

“It (Familiaris Consortio) is so very important because we have a habit of looking at the family in a negative way – ‘you shouldn’t do this,’ ‘you shouldn’t do that’ and looking at it as a location in which it is very easy to break the rules. When, instead, God has intended marriage to be something very positive in which husband and wife find their way to salvation with each other and because of each other. And this is the message of ‘Familiaris Consortio’ and this is why it is so relevant today,” Anderson said.

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