Archive of June 18, 2011

Bishop says Libyans are 'fed up' with war, and so are some Western officials

Tripoli, Libya, Jun 18, 2011 (CNA) -

The head of the Catholic Church in Libya says his people are sick and tired of NATO's bombing campaign. Meanwhile, there are signs of growing discontent in several of the countries whose governments have committed themselves to the operation.

“I hope that everyone’s good will prevails in order to stop this war,” said Bishop Giovanni I. Martinelli, Apostolic Administrator of Tripoli, “because we are tired of the bombing.”

“Even last night there were several,” he told Fides news agency on June 16. “Frankly we are all fed up.” As in past weeks, Bishop Martinelli's comments echoed Pope Benedict XVI's desire for a cease fire and a negotiated solution to the country's crisis.

Earlier in the week, the bishop told Fides that the war seemed to have “become uninteresting” to Western observers, and been “put in the background” in favor of other events.

But growing criticism of the war, from the U.S. Congress and other Western countries, may be bringing the conflict back to the forefront.

A bipartisan group of 10 lawmakers is suing President Barack Obama over his decision to join the war without consulting Congress. House Speaker John Boehner warned the president on June 14 that he would be in violation of the War Powers Act if he continued to involve the U.S. in Libyan “hostilities” past June 19 without consulting Congress.

The president insists he does not need Congress' approval due to the non-traditional nature of the Libyan war. A White House report released to lawmakers on June 15 noted that “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.”

One of the 10 plaintiffs challenging Obama's legal authority, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D – Ohio) says he will push to defund U.S. operations in Libya.

“This administration brought our nation to war without congressional approval or the support of the American people,” Kucinich said in a June 17 statement.

In England and Italy, two other countries that have joined forces against Colonel Gaddafi, there are similar concerns about the practicality of a prolonged Libyan war.

Admiral Mark Stanhope, Britain's top naval officer, said on June 14 that the British government would have to “request the government to make some challenging decisions about priorities” if the war stretched past September, according to the Associated Press.

Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said on June 15 that his country's parliament should block funding for the Libyan war. Agence France-Presse quoted Maroni as saying that “Italy and other European governments should put the money into developing democracy, not bombs.”

Maroni went on to point out that the bombings were causing a refugee crisis for his own country. “As long as there are bombs, refugees will arrive and they will need assistance,” he noted. “We've had more than 20,000 refugees arrive from Libya.”

Bishop Martinelli, who has criticized the coalition's “humanitarian intervention” since its beginning, says it's time for Western governments to stop fighting a war based on unrealistic assumptions.

“I remember,” he told Fides last week, “that an important Western politician, a month ago, said that Gaddafi's fall is a matter of hours. I do not know how long those hours are.”

“Whoever thinks that things can be solved with bombs is wrong,” the bishop stated.

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Fr. Corapi announces he's leaving the priesthood

Corpus Christi, Texas, Jun 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - In the wake of being suspended over what he claims are unproven allegations, popular speaker Fr. John Corapi announced that after 20 years in ministry, he is leaving the Catholic priesthood.

“I am not going to be involved in public ministry as a priest any longer,” he said in an online post. “There are certain persons in authority in the Church that want me gone, and I shall be gone.”

In a June 17 post on a website with the title of his new ministry “Black Sheep Dog,” and a related YouTube video clip, Fr. Corapi outlined his reasons for leaving.

He said that he feels unjustly accused, that the process of clearing his name has been too sluggish and that there are authorities in the Church who are intentionally trying to oust him.

Fr. Corapi's decision comes while he is on administrative leave, which his religious superiors placed him on this past March, following allegations of misconduct.

He claimed in a March 19 statement that a 3-page letter submitted by a former, unidentified female employee was entirely “false.” The letter claimed that the priest took part in sexual encounters with several adult women and engaged in habitual drug use.

A member of the Texas-based Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, Fr. Corapi is an internationally-known speaker and author who has appeared regularly on Catholic television and radio programs.

He gained a widespread audience with his conversion story. After a prominent career as a wealthy businessman, his life spiraled out of control due to a cocaine addiction, eventually leading to him living on the streets. He later came back to the Catholic Church and was ordained a priest.

On March 18, Fr. Gerry Sheehan, Regional Priest Servant for the society, issued a statement defending the suspension, saying that he and other authorities were “duty-bound to conduct an investigation in this accusation.”

Fr. Corapi said in his online post Friday that he has “been guilty of many things in the course of my life, and could easily and justifiably be considered unfit to engage in public ministry as a priest.”

However, referring to the woman in question, he said that the “present complaint that you have heard about is, as far as I know, from the one person that I can honestly say I did more to help and support than any human being in my entire life.”

“I forgive her and hope only good things for her. I am not going to get into a back and forth or argument with the Church or anyone else about this matter.”

He said that even though he loves the Catholic Church, the process used following the allegations “is inherently and fatally flawed, but the bishops have the power, apparently, to operate anyway they see fit.”

“I cannot give a lengthy explanation of what has transpired, but I can tell you that the most likely outcome is that they leave me suspended indefinitely and just let me fade away.”

“My canon lawyer and my civil lawyers have concluded that I cannot receive a fair and just hearing under the Church’s present process,” he said. “The case may be on hold indefinitely, but my life cannot be.”

Fr. Corapi said that he'll move forward by through ministry both within the Church and outside of it.

“I shall continue, black sheep that I am, to speak; and sheep dog that I am, to guard the sheep – this time around not just in the Church, but also in the entire world.”

“Under the name 'The Black Sheep Dog,' I shall be with you through radio broadcasts and writing. My autobiography, 'The Black Sheep Dog,' is almost ready for publication.”

“My topics will be broader than in the past, and my audience likewise is apt to be broader,” he added. “I’ll do what I can under the circumstances.”

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Archbishop Gomez stresses moral implications of California budget

Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 18, 2011 (CNA) - As debates continue over California's budget, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles urged lawmakers to give priority to the poor but also warned about the state's large fiscal deficits.

“In our current fiscal crisis, the poor are threatened by proposed cutbacks,” Archbishop Gomez said. “But Catholic principles of solidarity also urge us to see unsustainable public deficits as having profound moral implications for justice and human dignity.”

The archbishop's remarks come as Gov. Jerry Brown's June 16 veto of a proposed budget left the state in continued fiscal uncertainty. Gov. Brown is grappling with the state's projected deficit of over $10 billion dollars in the upcoming year.

However, Archbishop Gomez observed that much broader issues are at stake for California beyond fiscal concerns.

“A budget is more than a spending plan,” he said in his June 17 column for the Tidings archdiocesan newspaper.  Rather, it raises “profound moral questions about who are we as a society, how we view our future and whether … we can look beyond our own self-interest to the interest of the larger society.”

Archbishop Gomez urged lawmakers and citizens to reflect on a new statement issued by the California bishops, who lamented that the state has been “on the verge of a budgetary abyss” for years.

“Much of the inability of our political leaders to forge workable solutions to the real budget dilemmas arises from the lack of a common moral frame of reference for evaluating the tradeoffs that lie before us,” the bishops wrote.

Archbishop Gomez said in his article this week that in response, the Church has an urgent role in promoting moral principles in the face of California's difficulties.

“As pastors, our work is to stir hearts and minds and to form consciences,” he said. “We want to inspire people to love and serve the poor and to always be close to those in need. We want to motivate them to build a society worthy of the God-given dignity of every person.”

As states across the U.S. spar over government spending, social programs, taxes, public unions and public debt, Archbishop Gomez said that at the “heart of these debates” are broader questions “about the size, scope and purpose of government.”

“Catholic social teaching has much to contribute to this conversation,” he noted.  

Although there are non-negotiables in Catholic social teaching, such as its stance against abortion, euthanasia and same-sex “marriage,” Archbishop Gomez said that Catholics can have legitimate differences on how to apply the Church’s moral principles.

He said that ultimately, the “Catholic vision of society” challenges everyone to stretch beyond political preconceptions and party affiliations.

If the Church recognizes that the market economy “is a powerful engine for generating wealth, freeing people from poverty and meeting social needs,” he said, it also knows that “without ethical guidance from political authorities, the market can be exploited for selfish motives, resulting in imbalances and injustices.”

He added that even though the government is charged with protecting the rights of workers and enacting public policy toward the common good, “the Church reminds us that government programs are not the only ways to serve the poor.”

“Sometimes, in fact, government may not be the best means,” he said in his column.

The archbishop explained that the Church teaches that works of charity are a personal duty for every believer. He also said that the Catholic principle of “subsidiarity” encourages the faithful to “seek solutions at the local and even the personal level.”

Archbishop Gomez then quoted Pope Benedict's 2009 encyclical, “God is Love,” which warned against a model of government that regulates and controls all aspects of society.

The Pope said that what's needed instead, is a system of governance that “in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need.”

Archbishop Gomez closed his article by noting that these “are some of the big questions that we are called to pray about this week and in the months ahead.”

“Let us ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of America, for the grace we need to set aside our self-interests and seek the justice required by Jesus Christ and his Gospel.”

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New Jersey parishes honor dads on Father's Day

Wayne, N.J., Jun 18, 2011 (CNA) - Honoring dads on Father's Day this Sunday, June 19 will be done in a variety of ways at parishes across the Diocese of Paterson, N.J.

Following is a sampling of what a few parishes will do to honor fathers on their day.

At Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, parishioners revel in "re-gifting" new, unused items that they do not want or will never use to men in great need during the parish's "Re-Gifts for Men" collection drive for Father's Day. The faithful have donated new shirts, mugs and slippers - in gift bags ready for giving - for men, who are poor, homeless, addicted or otherwise down on their luck, who have sought help from local social service agencies, including those run by the Paterson diocese, said Dorene Edie, who coordinates the "re-gifting" drive now in its third year.

"These men (who receive the gifts) are not expecting to get anything for Father's Day. Most of these men are estranged from families so we try to remember those men who have been forgotten," Edie said.

Some parishes plan to honor living and deceased dads in traditional ways - such as with spiritual bouquets and special Masses - but IHM represents a one of several faith communities that have been looking beyond celebrating their own fathers to remembering other fathers...and mothers. Two parishes, St. Rose of Lima, East Hanover, and St. Anthony, Hawthorne, raise money for pro-life activities and assistance to unwed mothers - all in the name of their own fathers, as well as the merciful example of God, the Father.

At IHM, the "Re-Gifts for Men" for Father's Day arrives just weeks after the Passaic County parish's re-gifting for women for Mother's Day. An assortment of parishioners; members of community at DePaul Catholic High School, also in Wayne; and other locals donated about 250 items for women in need, more than the 20 or so items collected for the men. Women had received clothing; shoes; accessories, such as bracelets; and "nice gifts" of high quality, such as Coach pocketbooks and Swarovski jewelry, Edie said.

"The items are stuff that's in style," said Edie, who noted that IHM also holds an items drive for Christmas.

In response, IHM often receives heart-felt "thank-you" notes from the social-service agencies that receive the donations. In the past, these organizations have included Straight & Narrow, a diocesan substance-abuse treatment center, Eva's Shelter and the Child Life Program of St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, all in Paterson; Several Sources, which serves unwed mothers in Bergen County; and the federal Women, Infants and Children food assistance, health care and nutrition program, Edie said.

St. Rose is all about the baby bottles for its annual Father's Day fund-raiser, organized by the parish's Respect Life Ministry. On Mother's Day, parishioners picked up the 400 available baby bottles and returned them, filled with monetary donations of coins, bills or checks, to the church on Father's Day. Donations provide free bus transportation in January for the annual March for Life in Washington or Trenton and support crisis pregnancy centers and invited guest speakers, said Anne Marie Gillespie, coordinator of the six-year-old drive.

"We remember the mothers, but we want to remember the fathers too," said Gillespie, who recalled, when a woman donated some money left behind in a house that she purchased, remembering when she struggled as a single mother. "Some families fill up multiple bottles. The kids take their own bottles to fill. It's lovely," she said.

Likewise, St. Anthony's carries on its Baby Bottle Campaign to support Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Center. They also fill the bottles with coins, cash and checks, made payable to Lighthouse PRC of Hawthorne and Hackensack, and place them in one of the collection bins in the church on or before Father's Day. They also keep the left portion of the bottle wrapper as a reminder to pray for Lighthouse, according to St. Anthony's bulletin.

At St. Simon the Apostle Parish, Green Pond, parishioners are honoring their living and deceased fathers in a traditional and spiritual manner - by filling out an envelope, requesting to have them remembered at one of the Masses celebrated Father's Day weekend. These special Masses are "a way to express your gratitude to dad," St. Simon's bulletin states.

Our Lady of the Holy Angels Parish, Little Falls, continues its Father's Day tradition of placing the dads' names in a Spiritual Bouquet Book, placed in an alcove of the church during June and July. Parishioners pick up a bouquet packet - with a request form envelope and a fitting Father's Day card for their own father or the family. Then they return the envelopes in the collection baskets or drop them off at the parish ministry center by June 17, said Beverly Cuccinelli, Holy Angel's finance/office manager.

Then Cuccinelli writes in the Spiritual Bouquet Book the names of the honored fathers, who will be remembered during Masses in June. Typically, the 20-page book lists intensions for about 200 fathers, she said.

"Parishioners who make requests often flip through the Spiritual Bouquet Book before and after Mass, looking for the names of their fathers," Cuccinelli said. "It's really important to them."

Printed with permission from the Diocese of Paterson, N.J.

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Northwest Arkansas Catholics load trucks for Joplin

Rogers, Ark., Jun 18, 2011 (CNA) - In the aftermath of the worst tornado to hit the United States in decades, Catholics in northwest Arkansas rolled up their sleeves the following day to help the victims of the deadly storm.

On Sunday, May 22, an EF5 tornado hit Joplin, Mo., a city of 50,000 located 70 miles north of Rogers. The death toll reached 141 June 5. Among the destroyed buildings were St. Mary Church, School, rectory and parish hall. St. John Regional Medical Center was severely damaged.

One of the people who immediately wanted to help was Tracy DeLeon, a member of St. Stephen Church in Bentonville.

"Early Monday morning after Sunday's storm, I just knew I had to do something to help," she said. "I have friends in Joplin who had no damage, but I still couldn't bear not helping. To me, it only takes one person to make a difference."

In an effort to set up a donation drive, DeLeon contacted the church office about the use of their parish hall.

"The church didn't hesitate to let me use their facility and, as it turned out, I received a great deal of help from Suzanne Sutton and Julie Kremin, staff members at St. Stephen's, and others while I was working during the day," she said.

In an effort to speed up the process and to get the necessary donations to Joplin, DeLeon reached out to both local media and social media to spread the word about the donation drive.

"I contacted 40/29 news and they listed it; the Morning News listed it. I put it on Facebook and e-mailed friends. In the church office, Suzanne sent an e-mail to Life Teen, the youth group at church, to help spread the word," she said.

The response to their efforts was "unbelievably overwhelming in a great way. It far exceeded my expectations," she added.

Being in the same city as the Wal-Mart headquarters and all of its vendors, several companies stepped up with donations. Fruit of the Loom donated underwear, Keeco donated bedding, Jay Franco donated towels and blankets and Evenflo donated baby bottles, car seats and other baby items.

"To deliver the donations, we moved up from a pickup truck to a panel truck to a semi to make our delivery on Saturday (May 28). Barrett Direct Truck Lines provided a truck and driver for this," DeLeon said.

DeLeon, her husband Juan and their son, Nick, accompanied the truck May 28 to Joplin.

"We delivered items to The Bridge (a local youth center), the Wildwood Baptist Church and two different Salvation Army locations," she said. "The situation there was, in a word, shocking. It is nothing like what you see on TV or in the newspaper. My heart goes out to each and every one of those who lost their lives, their homes and their normalcy."

At St. Joseph Church in Tontitown, the Knights of Columbus Council 4538 are also working to provide donations for the victims of the tornado. Eric Pellin, grand knight, said, "We decided to set this up while watching the coverage on the local news. The response has been good. We are using the social media like Facebook to get the word out for donations. On Facebook we have a list of items to donate and a date to deliver the donations. Right now we are waiting on the next Red Cross truck to become available so we can take our donations in."

Mercy Medical Center in Rogers also organized a drive with the assistance of the local media. The hospital is part of the Sisters of Mercy Health System along with St. Joseph Mercy Health Center in Hot Springs, St. Edward Mercy Medical Center in Fort Smith and St. John Regional Medical Center in Joplin.

Clark Ellison, vice president of Mercy Health Foundation, said, "Heavy promotion from the radio stations and two TV stations allowed this to be a huge success."

After working to secure a semi-truck and the manpower to do a three-day drive, Mercy Medical Center set up the donation drive in the hospital parking lot at 7 a.m. Tuesday, May 24. One important factor in the success of the drive was "to find a recipient organization that could take the donated items and assure us that they would benefit families in Joplin," Ellison said.

These relief organizations include Ozark Harvest Group headquartered in Springfield, Mo., and Grace Baptist Church, the lead distribution center for the Red Cross in Joplin.

The hospital donation drive filled two semi-trucks and two smaller trucks.

"It's very heartwarming to see the people drive up here, open their car doors and hearts to people they don't even know. There were people of all ages donating. The best one was a 3-year-old boy that got out of his car, grabbed a package of diapers and carried it to our sorting area. We live in a very blessed community, full of generous individuals and corporations," Ellison said.

"The residents are immensely grateful for any and all help, and we plan on being there again this Saturday and every Saturday that we can for the entire summer/fall and then some," DeLeon said. "They will need our help for a very long time and they should not be forgotten."

Printed with permission from Arkansas Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Little Rock, Ark.

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