Archive of June 16, 2011

US bishops approve Spanish translation of Mass texts

Bellevue, Wash., Jun 16, 2011 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the Spanish translation of the U.S. Propers and Adaptations to the Roman Missal, Third Edition at its Spring meeting in Seattle on June 16. 

Brooklyn Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros, chair of the USCCB Subcommittee on Hispanics and the Liturgy, said that the addition of the prayers seems “very timely” and reflects “a pastoral need.”

The USCCB also approved an appendix to the Spanish translation that is composed of a collection of Mass prayers tailored to major patronal feasts in Latin America and Spain.

One Latin American bishop commended the committee for their work, saying the translation reflects an appreciation of the flow of the Spanish language.

It took over a year for the subcommittee to compile the collection of prayers for saints’ feasts.
The approval of the appendix required 167 positive votes from the Latin Rite members of the USCCB. It received 185.

The English version of the newly translated Mass texts received approval from Pope Benedict last June. The Spanish translation and appendix for U.S. use will now await the same papal confirmation.

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Business ethics summit begins at the Vatican

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican launched a major conference today on business ethics, aimed at discussing whether or not unethical practices were at the root of the economic crisis and if ethics can prevent a future collapse.

“As we know from others sectors of society - and also in our lives - we often ask ourselves questions and make resolutions to do thing differently during and after a crisis,” Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, commented to CNA.

The three-day gathering is the co-creation of the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum and the Fidelis International Institute for Business Ethics, and is aimed at promoting ethical business practices that accord with Catholic social principles.

In all, around 100 key figures from business, academia and the Church are present for the “Executive Summit on Ethics for the Business World,” which began with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica this morning. Several of the participants spoke with CNA about the conference and their impressions so far.

“Ethics is, or has to be, put into practice in many areas of business - especially finance, entrepreneurship and social engagement,” said Marcelo Benitez, the Managing Director of Fidelis International.

“So the purpose of this conference is to discuss these matters in the light of the teachings of the Holy Father in order to get to the bottom of these issues and apply the lessons to the real issues of financial world,” he explained.

Foremost among those papal teachings being discussed is Pope Benedict’s 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” or “Charity in Truth.” In the midst of global financial collapse, it advocated financial ethics rooted in the dignity of the person and the pursuit of the common good.

“I come from a much more secular perspective, so for me this is all a bit new,” Professor Andy Zelleke of Harvard University’s Kennedy School remarked.

“But I have to say that in reading carefully through the encyclical letter I found that its discussion of the economy and the problems surrounding the financial crisis - including some of its prescriptive thinking for business - to be extraordinarily insightful,” Zelleke said.

Of course, different ethical questions arise in different parts of the global economy. Denis Chang, a senior counsel lawyer from Hong Kong, said the realization that economic growth has to be matched by ethical development is becoming increasingly accepted in China.

“I think people are beginning to realize that you cannot simply conduct business without regard to business ethics, without regards to social responsibility, and it’s not just a case of ‘business is business is business,’ but you’ve got to look at the social consequences of every single economic decision,” Chang said.

As for corruption in Africa, Patrick Bitature of Uganda’s Investment Authority believes the social teachings of the Church can help alleviate the problem.

“Corruption is like a cancer – it’s easier to stop if if you catch it early. So I think the family unit and the Church can play a big role. And that’s why a conference like this is so useful.”

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US bishops revise abuse charter to reflect new Vatican norms

Bellevue, Wash., Jun 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - At their spring meeting in Seattle on June 16, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a revision of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” incorporating new Vatican guidelines on abuse cases.

Bishop Blase J. Cupich, chairman of the bishops' Committee on the Protection for Children and Young People, said that the charter is already “working” to protect children. But he explained that the document would now align more closely with Vatican directives on the “most grave crimes” that were released last summer.

According to the revisions, child pornography will be considered a crime against Church law, and the abuse of someone who “habitually lacks reason” will be considered child abuse.

The U.S. bishops' child protection charter was first established in 2002 in response to cases of abuse by Catholic clergy stretching back several decades. It will undergo another revision in two years, taking into account a study on the causes and context of clergy sexual abuse that was released in May.

That study, conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, concluded there was “no single cause or predictor” of sexual abuse – including homosexuality, celibacy or experience in the priesthood.

However, the report did find that the “increased deviance of society” during the 1960s and 1970s was closely correlated with the rise in abuse incidents. Next year, a national review board will make recommendations to the bishops based on its survey of the study.

Bishop Cupich said in 2009 that the John Jay College study aimed to discover “what was the situation that led to this great crisis in the life of the Church.”

However, at a press conference that followed Thursday's voting on the charter and other topics, he pointed out that sexual abuse was a society-wide problem, and not something unique to the Catholic Church.

“Child abuse is a pandemic in this country and in the world,” Bishop Cupich said. “Yes, we've had our problems, but that doesn't absolve us from dealing with it outside of the Church.”

In the debate on revising the charter, retired Anchorage Archbishop Francis Hurley expressed concern about the zero-tolerance policy's effect on priests judged to be guilty of abuse. He said it could prevent them from experiencing what he called “the reconciliation-forgiveness package” in their communities.

But Bishop Cupich responded to his concern at Thursday's press conference, saying the Church was not going to change its charter to accommodate those found guilty of abuse.

He said the bishops had “learned the hard way” not to trust the guidance of psychologists who said sexually deviant priests could be treated and placed back into a parish. This theory, he said, was “bad advice, and put children in harm's way.”

The child protection chairman said the Church “is not going to put priest offenders first.” Its priority, he said, is to protect children, promote healing for past victims and to restore trust.

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Costa Rica rejects in vitro fertilization

San José, Costa Rica, Jun 16, 2011 (CNA) - The Costa Rican government has shelved a measure that would have legalized in vitro fertilization in the country.

“Lawmakers for and against it criticized the official measure and called it ‘confusing’,” even though the vote was decided by a razor-thin margin, the Costa Rican daily La Nacion pointed out.

By a margin of 26-25, House of Representatives lawmakers decided on June 14 that the bill was too vague to be considered.

According to La Nacion, the decision by the Costa Rican government is a push-back against pressure from the Inter-American Human Rights Court to approve in vitro fertilization. The court had given Costa Rica until July 31 to pass the measure.

While the decision to shelve it is not definitive, any lawmaker who wants to re-open debate would have to present a new bill and begin the process from scratch. The latest effort to pass the measure began last August.

The bishops of Costa Rica expressed their opposition to the bill on numerous occasions. In October of 2010, the president of the Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Hugo Barrantes Urena of San Jose, called on the government to reject in vitro fertilization as a technique that involves the destruction of human life.

He said that while parents who cannot have children experience great suffering, “a child must always be seen as a gift.”

Consequently, he continued the child “must not be turned into a means to satisfy a need or a desire, but rather, their dignity as a person demands they be treated as an end.”

Archbishop Barrantes also made an urgent appeal to respect human life from the moment of conception and to safeguard the country’s constitution, which states that “human life is inviolable.”

Catholic teaching opposes in vitro fertilization for two main reasons: First, because it involves a procedure contrary to the natural order of sexuality and that attacks the dignity of spouses and of marriage. Second, the procedure involves the destruction of human embryos both inside and outside the mother’s womb, thus resulting in abortions in each process.

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Vatican launches stem cell venture with US company

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican has signed its first ever commercial agreement with an outside company. The contract with U.S.-based bio-pharmaceutical firm NeoStem will advance ethical research into stem cells.

“We would like to create a hotspot for scientists, benefactors, academics (and) Church leaders that will now join this group and would work together for the benefit of humanity,”Fr. Tomaz Trafny of the Vatican’s Council for Culture told CNA June 16.

The deal was announced before the global media in Rome this morning.

“We are a public company pioneering new medical research with adult stem cells,” explained Doctor Robin Smith, the CEO of NeoStem.

“This research has the potential to alleviate human suffering by unlocking the healing power of the human body. Most importantly, we are able to do all this without destroying another human life,” she said.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells. From them all of the body’s 200-plus types of tissue ultimately grow. Their incredible versatility means they have the potential to provide replacement tissue to treat all manner of disorders.

“Thanks to some amazing technological advances, we are learning that part of the solution to these diseases and many others, may already be present in our bodies,” said Dr. Smith.

“Each human being has his or her own cellular fingerprint. Each one of us has cells with regenerative powers. These are our stem cells.”

The Catholic Church approves of stem cell research but disapproves of those cells being drawn from human embryos—a process that involves their destruction. The Church does approve of stem cells taken from adults or from the placenta or umbilical cord at birth.

“No embryos are destroyed to collect adult stem cells,” explained Dr. Smith.

“In other words, we do not have to destroy human life to improve and extend human life for those who are struggling with debilitating diseases.”

NeoStem has pioneered adult stem cell research throughout their five years of existence. The company says that its advances are proving both ethical and very successful.

“There are no current therapies using embryonic stem cells today but there are over 70 treatments available using adult stem cells including anemia, leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma,” Dr. Smith told CNA in a later interview.

The relationship between the Vatican and NeoStem will involve three areas of cooperation.

The first venue for the venture will entail work on research, including issues of funding. The second avenue of cooperation will involve the study of the cultural consequences of regenerative medicine, beginning with a major conference in Rome later this year. And the final area of collaboration will involve educating people – particularly those within the Church – about the practicalities and ethics of this new field of medical research.

“It is clear that our collaboration is open to other institutions sharing the same values,” said Fr. Trafny.

“We are open to all the possible paths of collaboration with several institutions, single researchers and philanthropists who want to share these initiatives that we hope would have a global impact.”

The planned conference, entitled “Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture” will take place in November 2011 at the Vatican.

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Rome’s rollerblading monk headed to France

Rome, Italy, Jun 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Brother Anthony Ariniello is one of the most recognizable and intriguing figures to hit the streets of Rome in recent years. But the monk with a high-speed habit is about to leave the Eternal City.

“When I pass by, people often exclaim, ‘Wow, now that’s a modern monk!’” laughs the 32-year-old, originally from Boulder, Colorado.

Br. Ariniello uses his rollerblades as a practical way of getting to school and to pray at St. Peter’s Basilica. “They're practical, economical and ecological,” he said of the skates that have earned him his Roman persona—“the rollerblading monk.”

His modern appearance aside, Br. Ariniello thinks there’s more to the surprised looks he gets when he tears through Rome’s streets.

“Perhaps they've never been face to face with a disciple of Christ before, let alone a religious. I myself once stereotyped the Church as outdated. Then I had my first personal encounter with a bishop and that was one-on-one for a game of racquetball! Then I began to really listen to the Church, and I found it full of life.”

That game of racquetball began a journey for Br. Ariniello that finds him on the verge of becoming a priest with one of the Church’s newest communities, The Community of the Beatitudes.

“It was in 1997 at World Youth Day in Paris that I first heard the Lord’s voice calling me to priesthood. That’s something I’d never considered before because of my desire to be married. But I then realized that the priesthood is another kind of marriage,” Br. Ariniello told CNA.

So a year later, Br. Ariniello left his philosophy studies at the University of Notre Dame to enter the new archdiocesan seminary in Denver, Colo. After four years of discernment, though, he said he felt God calling him in a slightly different direction.

“As a diocesan seminarian I was growing with the new intuitions of the Church. For example - the role of the family, the call of the poor, the rediscovery of the Jewish roots of our faith, as well as our relationship with eastern Orthodox churches.”

“So, for example, I learned that we can rediscover not only the Old Testament but the living Jewish people in their personal prayer. We can discover an icon not just as something beautiful but also how Orthodox people relate to an icon. These were the things I was discovering.”

And it was those insights which led him to join the Community of the Beatitudes in 2002.

Founded 29 years earlier in France, the community grew out of the Charismatic movement. It gathers together priests, nuns, married couples and single people into local groups that share a common prayer and community life.

“Even if members of the community have a job outside, the first thing in their life is the time of liturgical prayer, of personal silent prayer and a time of brotherly sharing or welcoming guests, or of going out on mission to proclaim the Gospel,” explained Br. Ariniello.

The community’s spirituality is Eucharistic and Marian, while also drawing inspiration from the Carmelite tradition.

Indeed, Br. Ariniello has a particular fondness for the 19th century French Carmelite nun, St. Therese of Lisieux, and is studying theological anthropology at the Carmelite’s institute in Rome, the Teresianum.

While in Rome he’s also witnessed the community’s attempt to find an appropriate place within the existing structure of the Church.

“New communities have borne much fruit for the Church, but they can also bear problems,” he observed.

“For example, where do some new communities fit into the canons of the new code of Canon Law?”

After requesting some adjustments to their structures, such as creating distinct branches for women and men, the Vatican now classifies the Community of the Beatitudes under the category of “new forms of consecrated life.”

As for Br. Ariniello, he has completed his Roman studies and will be ordained a deacon in France later this year. He’ll then return to Denver to the community’s parish and school, before his priestly ordination back in France next June.

Rest assured, he’ll be taking his rollerblades with him wherever he goes.

“The Spirit makes all things new! Witnessing to that new life can begin with simple signs. Church bells and facades are nice, but the post-modern plaza needs personal faces … a nun with a smile, a family with four kids or a monk on skates!”

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Organization of American States rejects controversial convention

Lima, Peru, Jun 16, 2011 (CNA) - The Organization of American States rejected a treaty which would have pressured member countries to legalize abortion and same-sex unions.

“In other words, a legal pathway for approving what they have not been able to get passed in national congresses,” the Population Research Institute’s Office for Latin America explained in its latest bulletin.

The “Convention on Sexual and Reproductive Rights,” is a decade-long attempt to achieve an international treaty that includes the legalization of abortion, the legal protection of any type of sexual behavior or orientation and the recognition of reproductive and sexual rights as human rights.

The institute said delegates at the 41st Ordinary Session OAS meeting, held June 5-7, never even considered discussion of the convention. It included representatives from all member states and from 147 civil organizations.

“It was never on the list of resolutions to be discussed or published on the OAS website,” the Population Research Institute noted.

Georgina de Rivas, executive director of the Foundation Yes to Life in El Salvador, told CNA  that the convention includes “the ‘right’ to chose when to be pregnant and the ‘right’ to end a pregnancy as well.”

“(I)t clearly refers to abortion.”

Rivas added that the document also contemplates “homosexual unions with the ability to adopt.” It “proposes sexual and reproductive rights for people of all ages,” she said.

Rivas went on to note that the convention promotes “the right to eroticism, the right to pleasure,” and even includes children among those who hold these alleged rights. She said it also seeks “a ‘re-educating of the signing countries, that is, to commit governments to carrying out campaigns to re-educate professionals as well as teachers, doctors, psychologists, etc, in order get the culture used to the things that it is being exposed to,” Rivas said.

She noted that another dangerous aspect of the convention is the “radical limitation of conscientious objection at the professional level.”

She told CNA her main concern was that the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, told the gay and feminist lobbies “he agreed with the convention…and he probably didn’t even read the document’s contents.”

Rivas also said delegates at the OAS meeting were “taken by surprise” when a group of abortion supporters interrupted the discussions and “demanded that the convention be introduced.” 

The delegates “did not expect to suddenly see so many people demanding this during a closed-door session,” she stated.

Delegates had expected the meeting to focus on drug trafficking, the lack of security resulting from gang activity, and the high level of violence occurring throughout Latin America, and not on the issue of “sexual and reproductive rights,” Rivas said.

She urged vigilance regarding the actions of pro-abortion groups, which she said “have not conceded defeat, they are going to continuing pushing” for the controversial convention. “I suspect they will push for it again at the 42nd Session of the OAS” in 2012, she added.

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Supreme Court rejects atheist's latest challenge to Pledge of Allegiance

Washington D.C., Jun 16, 2011 (CNA) - On June 13, the Supreme Court ruled against atheist activist Michael Newdow's latest attempt to remove the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Not surprisingly, the Supreme Court has again rejected the argument that saying the Pledge of your own free will creates an official state religion,” said attorney Eric Rassbach, litigation director at the religious liberty defense group the Becket Fund.

“The words 'one nation under God' make clear the bedrock American principle that our rights come not from the State, but are endowed by our Creator.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected Newdow's appeal from the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Newdow had attempted to halt the ability of schoolchildren in Hanover, New Hampshire from reciting the Pledge voluntarily.

In March, the Supreme Court also rejected Newdow's appeal from a loss in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

In both cases, the non-profit Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and global Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus intervened in the lawsuits to help school children who want to recite the pledge.

The Knights of Columbus led the effort to add the phrase “under God” to the Pledge 55 years ago.

The Becket Fund said in its briefs filed in the First Circuit and the Ninth Circuit that there is a  connection between the pledge and other statements like the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address. The briefs argue that each of those documents express the basic American philosophy that civil rights are inalienable because government does not create them.

Rassbach warned, however, that Newdow's latest attempt to remove the words “under God” may not be the last challenge to the pledge.

“Dr. Newdow has said that he will continue to challenge the pledge around the country, and we will be there to defend it,” he said.

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Prop 8 judge not obliged to recuse himself, ruling says

San Francisco, Calif., Jun 16, 2011 (CNA) - A homosexual judge who overturned California’s 2008 ballot measure defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman had no obligation to remove himself from the case because of a possible conflict of interest, a federal judge said on June 14.

“The legal team obviously disagrees with today’s ruling,” said Charles J. Cooper of Cooper & Kirk, lead counsel for Proposition 8 backer “Our legal team will appeal this decision and continue our tireless efforts to defend the will of the people of California to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman.”

Judge Vaughn R. Walker, a George H.W. Bush appointee, invalidated Prop. 8 in August 2010. He has never said publicly whether he wished to “marry” his partner.

Chief Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco said it is not reasonable to “presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings.”

The judge said it was unreasonable to assume from Walker’s relationship that he had such a great interest in marrying that he was incapable of performing his judicial duties.

Walker’s failure to disclose his same-sex relationship prior to his ruling could mean that he had considered the situation and decided no reasonable observer would conclude that his impartiality was questionable, Ware reasoned.

In a June 13 press conference, Alliance Defense Fund senior legal counsel Austin R. Nimocks said that Walker failed to disclose he had been in a committed same-sex relationship for over 10 years. Nimocks claimed that Walker and his partner had a “direct interest” in the case.

“Judge Walker's course of conduct in this case heightens the appearance of partiality. Indeed, on two separate occasions, for example, his orders in this case have already been reversed, including a dramatic intervention by the United States Supreme Court to stop his effort to televise the trial,” Nimocks said.

Walker’s original decision held that Prop. 8 “unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.”

He also declared as a finding of fact that certain religious teachings, including those of Pope Benedict XVI, “harm” homosexuals.

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Vatican diplomat: Farah Hatim case deserves UN intervention

Geneva, Switzerland, Jun 16, 2011 (CNA) - A leading Vatican diplomat said that the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights should intervene in the case of Farah Hatim, a Christian girl in Pakistan whose family said she was kidnapped and forced to marry and convert to Islam.

Freedom of religion is “a test for the respect of all human rights,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the head of the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

At least 700 Christian girls are kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam every year, Fides reports.

Archbishop Tomasi called the alleged crime against Farah “a violation of human rights, freedom of conscience and religion, and abuse of personal freedom, freedom to choose how to live one’s life.”

No one can communicate with Farah at present, the archbishop said on June 15.

He suggested a mechanism be created for these situations to allow the family and state officials to investigate and determine the truth.

Archbishop Tomasi recommended that the U.N. Council for Human Rights create such a venue. Some U.N.-accredited Catholic NGOs are receiving direct information from Pakistan and are collecting data to present a report to the council.

“Solidarity with Christians who suffer for their faith … must be remembered,” Archbishop Tomasi said.

International mechanisms to protect persecuted people should be used and the “indifference” of Western media should be “shaken” because “they often do not report the discrimination that millions of believers suffer.”

Pakistan faces problems in the education system, problems of corruption and “widespread extremism,” he added.

The blasphemy law is also a problem. It is considered unjust by many people, including Muslims, and changing it is “a top priority” for the country’s Christian communities, who are often victims of false claims under the law.

The remedy for the situation is to make judicial structures available for all minorities, the archbishop recommended.

Archbishop Tomasi told Fides that the Holy See tries to “broaden the perspective” of the council and show that religion “is not a source of conflict but the basis of universal principles” that can help societies live in pluralism and build “brotherhood and peace.”

“With the reality of globalization today, all societies must confront each other. Social cohesion cannot be imposed by forcing people to stay inside oppressive patterns,” he said, endorsing freedom of religion and the right to change religion.

The archbishop expressed hope that the changes underway in North Africa and the Middle East will lead to greater openness and ensure “a more dignified and free life for everyone,” including the Christians of Pakistan.

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