Madrid, Spain, Jun 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Antonio Canizares has called on business and political leaders in Spain to engage in a “joint effort” to overcome “the high unemployment and job insecurity in our country.”
“Just as during other times and in other situations, the Church now feels moved to encourage and stimulate formational initiatives inspired in the social teachings of the Church, so that those who feel called to politics or leadership do not fall prey to the temptation to enjoy their positions out of personal interest or thirst for power.”
During a conference at the 21st Century Club, Cardinal Canizares, the prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, called for “overcoming every spirit of stubbornness and individualism, indifference and distraction in addressing the problems that face us all.”
He encouraged all Spaniards to directly participate in public life. Spain needs to look ahead and build a new future with hope, the cardinal stressed.
Spain religiously weakened
Cardinal Canizares also said Spain has become “very religiously weakened” and is immersed “in a profound and extensive crisis that entails a grave moral and human breakdown that makes it even harder and more difficult to overcome this crisis in the short-term.”
“It is not possible to overcome the crisis … without a new and deeper moral conscience that is universal and valid for all, in which the truth about man, his dignity and the vocation he has because of the fact he is man, is put first,” the cardinal said.
Amid this situation, he underscored the importance of defending “the human person and his dignity” and of making “moral decisions” about essential matters.
“The issue of man is inseparable from the family,” he continued. “The family is the great issue of our day and shows us where we may be heading both in the building of society as well as in the unity between faith and life, between society and religion,” Cardinal Canizares said.
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The first phase of the apostolic visitation investigating clergy abuse in Ireland has concluded with the announcement that an overall synthesis of its results and recommendations will be published by early 2012.
The report will focus on the nationwide mission of renewal announced by Pope Benedict XVI in his March 2010 pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the Vatican said June 6.
The investigators, known as “visitators,” had set out to examine the effectiveness of the present response to cases of abuse and the current forms of assistance provided to abuse victims.
They also considered the prospects of the “profound spiritual renewal” presently being pursued by the Church in Ireland.
Because of the initial evaluation, the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Catholic Education do not envisage further apostolic visitations. The visitors meetings with various organizations and individuals, including the local bishops, provided “a sufficiently complete picture of the situation of the Irish Church” concerning the areas under investigation.
The relevant Vatican dicasteries, or departments, will give indications to the bishops for the “spiritual renewal” of the dioceses and seminaries. The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will provide similar recommendations for the religious institutes.
The congregation has analyzed responses to the visitation’s questionnaires sent to all institutes with religious houses in Ireland. Visits to some religious communities will follow.
The Vatican said that the visitation to the four metropolitan archdioceses of Ireland, the seminaries and the religious institutes was “very useful” because of the cooperation of everyone who took part.
“The Holy Father's sincere thanks goes to them, especially to the four Metropolitan Archbishops,” the Vatican said.
In April media reports speculated that the visitors would recommend the closure of the national seminary at Maynooth in county Kildare. The seminary authorities dismissed the reports as “without foundation.”
The four-man team heading the investigation into four of the key dioceses of Ireland consisted of Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, Archbishop Terence Prendergast, S.J., of Ottawa and Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the former Archbishop of Westminster, England.
A parallel investigation has examined religious institutes.
The apostolic visitors have conducted penitential services in Ireland seeking forgiveness for the abuse of hundreds of children by priests and religious over several decades.
In February, Cardinal O’Malley spoke of a “window of opportunity” to build a “holier church” in response to the abuse crisis.
And a spokesman for Archbishop Dolan told CNA that after his interviews with 113 Irish seminarians he sees “much hope for the renewal of the faith in Ireland.”
Pope Benedict’s 2010 pastoral letter to Ireland asked victims’ forgiveness and expressed “shame and remorse” over the abuse.
Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - “Are you coming down to the altar?” the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s executive director Gary Marx, asked after one especially evangelical speech at its annual conference Saturday morning.
But despite the more than occasional revival-like feel, Catholic social teaching was on display at this important stop for potential Republican presidential nominees.
A Coalition-commissioned poll last November found that conservative Christians were a key constituency in the midterm elections that changed the majority in the House of Representatives from Democrat to Republican – creating what pro-life stalwart Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) has called “the most pro-life House of Representatives in American history.”
White evangelicals represented 30 percent of those who voted, 78 percent voting Republican and Mass-going Catholics 12 percent, 58 percent voting Republican.
Not surprisingly, the Coalition, founded by former Christian Coalition president and Georgia Republican chairman Ralph Reed, attracted both elected leaders like House Speaker John Boehner and those seeking, or considering seeking, the Republican nomination for president to its June 3-4 gathering.
Those who spoke to the 1,500 conservative activists, students, and leaders included: Minnesota congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, former Godfather’s pizza chairman Herman Cain, former Utah governor and ambassador to China John Huntsman, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, and even Donald Trump.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a convert to Catholicism, was out of the country and sent a video to address the conference.
Sen. Santorum, the sole Catholic among the presidential primary contenders in attendance, acknowledged that he is considered “the social conservative candidate,” for his Congressional leadership on restricting abortion and protecting traditional marriage.
But in his address, he painted a holistic portrait of moral leadership, manifested in not just social but economic and foreign policy, rooted in the God-given dignity of every human person and protecting his freedom.
Santorum also compared himself to his potential rivals for the Republican nomination. “I used to be like a lot of folks” who “check the boxes” on social issues. But he added he is “very proud of the fact” he became “the point man” on issues of life and marriage and that this shows his “passion to lead.”
He reminded the audience that he, unlike many of the other candidates, spoke at the same conference last year, and that he’s a mainstay on these issues.
“They’ll check the boxes,” he said about unnamed competitors. “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t just take the pledge, I take the bullets.”
In his speech, Santorum tied his leadership on the welfare-reform legislation that Democratic president Bill Clinton would sign to “the social conservative belief in the dignity of every human person.”
That means the unborn and that absolutely also means “the poor in our society. We need to provide an opportunity for everybody in America.”
“What government was doing by subsidizing poverty was destroying the family,” he said.
Focusing on the current economic situation, Santorum told those gathered: “We ended a federal entitlement.” We can, in fact, do that, he assured the conference attendees. We can do it “If we paint a vision that isn’t just about dollars and cents.”
He described a positive vision that reaches across ideological lines. “Social conservatives understand that the bigger the government the smaller the individual. Social conservatives are leading on these issues.”
That vision is integral to his message, which he has been delivering in frequent visits to Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, as well as in written commentary and his almost two-year run as a guest host for former education secretary Bill Bennett’s national radio show.
While conservative Iowans would unsurprisingly be fertile ground for Santorum, he told CNA that he is encouraged by what he hears even in less conservative areas and crowds.
Expectations are low for Santorum’s bid. But the senator believes that could be a “benefit.” He said people he hears from are “not clamoring for a moderate. They are not clamoring for star power or something new or different.”
Recalling how Ted Kennedy came to work with him on welfare reform, he said, “If you can lay out a compelling narrative you can move the dial. I believe I can.” He believes if he can work with Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, he can “bring the middle together.”
He also believes he can appeal to independents and those Democrats that Reagan was able to. His presidential bid, he says, is about “Reclaiming our founding principles, which people still agree with.” And “Implement them in a way that makes sense.”
“I feel called to do this,” Santorum said. “If you feel called to run for president, you feel called to run for president. You feel called to win.” And so he’s not focusing on only Iowa or only one issue or another.
President Barack Obama, he said, “is doing really injurious things to this country.” Santorum believes he has a “fundamental misunderstanding of what America is.”
Santorum cited an economic speech Obama delivered in April as primary evidence. President Obama credited Medicare and Social Security as making the United States a “great country.”
However, Santorum worries entitlement programs can be “dependency drugs.” The health-care legislation passed last year is the ultimate example for Santorum, who said repealing it would be his first priority as president.
In his official campaign announcement, two days after his Faith and Freedom appearance, he called President Obama’s health-care plan “the lynchpin” of a philosophy that “believes that America’s greatness is in government, not its people.”
Echoing the tea-party movement, Santorum believes what makes America exceptional is it’s commitment to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Santorum wants to “remind people who we are, how we got here, and what we have to do to get it back.”
But can he win? It’s the most frequently asked question and the easiest way to dismiss him: he lost his last race for reelection by 17 points, in 2006, a dismal year for Republicans.
Santorum, who was encouraged by winning a South Carolina straw poll in May – a “thank you” for showing up, unlike other candidates, says: “I’ve run against three Democratic incumbents and I'm three for three.”
Besides the prominence of Catholics during the general session, the Coalition conference included a breakout session devoted to Catholic political activism that was sponsored by Deal Hudson and Matt Smith of Catholic Advocate.
The session included National Organization of Marriage chairman Maggie Gallagher and the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, both responsible for electoral victories on issues that others would consider putting aside.
In a Saturday night benediction, the pastor of St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Annandale, Va., led the gathering in prayer that Catholics in their political activism are faithful to “the social-justice principle” of subsidiarity.
Havana, Cuba, Jun 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cuban dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez denounced the country's government on June 2 for detaining 10 opposition leaders.
Perez said the detentions occurred while the two men were meeting to “coordinate a national march that will extend across the island, from one end to the other,” reported Cubaencuentro.com.
The arrests included Ivan Hernandez Carrillo and Felix Navarro, who were both part of the Group of 75 rounded up by the Cuban government during the “Black Spring of 2003.”
The two men had been released from prison in February and March of this year.
The other dissidents who were detained were Raul Risco Perez, Frank Reyes Lopez, Julio Columbie Batista, Rene Fernandez Quiroga, Guillermo del Sol Perez, Rolando Rodriguez Lobaina, Yoan David Gonzalez and Gliceria Paseiro Espinosa.
The Cuban government began releasing over 100 political prisoners in June 2010, as promised in an agreement with the Catholic Church.
Many of the prisoners released within the following months are living in exile in Spain.
Joliet, Ill., Jun 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - As civil unions begin in Illinois, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet has announced that it has stopped processing applications for new foster or adoptive parents.
The diocese cited its “religious practice” of not placing children with unmarried, cohabiting couples of the same sex or opposite sex, a practice under increasing pressure from state law.
The June 1 letter from Glenn Van Cura, executive director of Catholic Charities in Joliet, notified the state government that the agency is “temporarily suspending the processing of new foster care and adoption applications.”
It did not say how or when the application process could resume, the Naperville Sun-Times reports. The agency presently handles 210 foster care and adoption cases.
The letter did not mention civil unions, which went into effect on June 1. However, the law which created legal unions for same-sex and opposite-sex couples has already caused Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockford to announce an end to its foster care and adoption services.
Catholic Charities in Peoria has also said that it will stop licensing new foster and adoptive parents. All the Catholics agencies said they would continue working with the children they have already placed in homes.
Kendall Marlowe, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said this was “not a workable solution” in the long term as they will eventually run out of homes in which to place children.
“We would have been in this situation even without the civil union legislation,” he said.
Lawyers for the department and the Illinois attorney general were reviewing whether private agencies that take state money for adoption can refuse to license homosexual couples without violating the state constitution and Illinois Human Rights Law, Marlowe reported.
The Illinois legislature hastily passed the civil unions law late last year.
Catholic Charities had sought an amendment to the civil union law that would allow it to refer homosexual couples to other agencies that license foster and adoptive parents, but that amendment failed.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and the Catholic Conference of Illinois also opposed the bill because of its potential impact on the Church’s work in adoption and foster care and because it threatened to diminish the status of marriage in public life.