Archive of June 21, 2011

John Paul II sculptor defends his work

Rome, Italy, Jun 21, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The sculptor of a much criticized statue of Blessed John Paul II has defended his work and suggested it could, one day, be regarded as “a classic.”

“Naturally, I understand that is it not conventional, and the proposal might create a different look to what was expected,” Italian artist Oliviero Rainaldi told CNA in his first media interview since the row surrounding the statue’s unveiling in May.

“But there are so many beautiful photographs. Why do we need a photographic resemblance?”

At the time of its unveiling, the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano described the 12-foot bronze statue situated outside Rome’s Termini train station as having “little resemblance’’ to Pope John Paul.

“The result is not what was intended and his face on the top of the statue bears little resemblance and already there has been much criticism … it makes him look like a tent … it looks like a bomb has hit,” the paper said.

The President of Rome’s Cultural Commission, Federico Mollicone, went further, calling it “a permanent and sacrilegious mud stain on his memory.”

Meanwhile, a poll in the Italian La Repubblica newspaper found that 87 percent of the general public also disliked the statue. But Rainaldi is unfazed by such negative reactions.

“When Michaelangelo's David was first taken into the Piazza della Signoria in the middle of the night, everything, including the dimensions, were different from what they (people) expected.”

“I'm just making an example, not to draw strange comparisons. But we need to make comparisons like this. Then, over time, they became classics,” said the 55-year-old artist whose modernist work has gained him success in both Italy and the U.S.

Certainly the Vatican is in no rush to cut artistic links with Oliviero Rainaldi. In fact, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi—the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture—has asked the Italian sculptor to be one of 60 artists that will create a work to honor the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s ordination to the priesthood this month.

Richard Rouse, also of the Pontifical Council for Culture, observed that Rinaldi is “somebody who’s been criticized but is continuing to work and that’s a wonderful thing.”

Although his sculpture has received a lot of criticism, Rinaldi said he put real thought into the Pope John Paul II statue.

“The man within was more interesting to me than the man outside” describing a man who was “lacerated” inside “not only by his infirmity but also by his mission.”

“These are often things that even the people who are close to you, and love you, don't want to see. Often we want to (see) that they are strong, beautiful - but it is not always the case. This man showed he was beautiful for others reasons beyond his appearance.”

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Officials credit Obama administration for UN's first gay rights resolution

New York City, N.Y., Jun 21, 2011 (CNA) - State Department officials say the U.N.'s first-ever resolution on “sexual orientation and gender identity” represents an international victory for the Obama administration's policy agenda.

“This is really a paradigmatic example of using the U.N. system to advance one of President Obama's top policy priorities,” said Suzanne Nossel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, after the resolution's passage on June 17. “We’ve been able to deliver on broad international support behind an agenda that we have set as a key goal for this Administration.”

During Friday's media briefing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Dan Baer also emphasized the role of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Geneva-based Human Rights Council's decision.

“Both the President and Secretary Clinton have made LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) human rights a priority,” Baer said. He recalled that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton “gave a speech last year in which she said gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

“She has sent out a cable to all ambassadors instructing them that LGBT human rights are part of our comprehensive human rights policy,” he stated.

Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council, said the resolution was “a game changer … at least at the Human Rights Council, on the topic of protections for LGBT people.”

The text of the resolution is, despite all the publicity, relatively modest. It requests the commissioning of a study documenting “discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

That study will seek to determine “how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” Next spring the council will convene a panel discussion to discuss the study's findings.

Nossel says the resolution won't create a “sea change overnight.” Rather, she explained, “it’s a beginning of an international norm that will take hold gradually.”

“If you look at the human rights provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they didn’t all take hold overnight.” But, she said, “by putting them down definitively in an internationally-backed document, you set an irreversible process in motion.”

Proposals to place “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” on the same level as race, religion, or biological gender have encountered opposition at the U.N., from Muslim countries as well as the Vatican.

Opposition from several African and Middle Eastern countries ensured that Friday's vote was close one. In the end, 23 countries supported the resolution, first introduced by South Africa, with 19 countries voting against it.

Two historically Eastern Orthodox countries, Russia and Moldova, joined the Arab and African countries in their opposition. Poland, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Hungary and Ukraine were all among the resolution's supporters.

The Holy See's permanent mission in Geneva has not yet issued a public statement on the resolution. But the Vatican has repeatedly called for an approach that respects the legitimate human rights of all persons, without falsely equating heterosexual and homosexual behavior.

In 2008, the Holy See explained that it opposes “unjust discrimination toward homosexual persons,” while objecting to the categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

The Vatican is concerned that these categories “create serious uncertainty in the law” regarding matters such as marriage, adoption, and the rights of religious organizations.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer and representative at the Human Rights Council, spoke out in March 2011 against the misuse of the “orientation” concept as a means of attacking those who reject an ideology of sexual liberation.

The archbishop pointed out that the term “sexual orientation” refers properly to “feelings and thoughts, not to behavior.”

“For the purposes of human rights law, there is a critical difference between feelings and thoughts, on the one hand, and behavior, on the other,” Archbishop Tomasi explained.

“A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings.”

“But states can, and must, regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law. Pedophilia and incest are two examples.”

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Mexican cardinal calls for increase in work opportunities for youth

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 21, 2011 (CNA) - Lowering the age at which a person can be charged with a crime would not help to combat delinquency among young people, expressed the Archbishop of Monterrey in Mexico.
“Parents and people who know where these young people congregate have told me that they are coerced, beaten, given orders and drugged in order to carry out a mission,” Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega said.
Cardinal Robles stated during Mass on June 19 that many young people get involved in crime because they “are truly forced to do so.”  The way to lead them away from this path, he said, is to give them opportunities to work and to study.
Reducing the age at which one can go to jail “is to penalize young people for being young people …  Our institutions need to support and facilitate the reincorporation of these people into a life of harmony and peace in society,” he added.
Cardinal Robles also took the occasion of Father’s Day to remind fathers to be reflection of the love of God.

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European council to receive report on conscientious objection violations

Madrid, Spain, Jun 21, 2011 (CNA) - The Council of Europe will receive a report denouncing the attacks on the right to conscientious objection of health care professionals who do not wish to perform abortions.
“The report lays out in detail the causes of the violation of this fundamental right, and it gives precise examples by name of health care professionals who have been forced to participate in abortions. It also provides information on ‘genetic screening’ used for eugenic purposes,” the Association for the Defense of the Right to Conscientious Objection announced.

The report will be presented on June 22.
The report was drafted in conjunction with the European Center for Law and Justice and focuses on the discrimination suffered by health care professionals who seek to exercise this fundamental right which is recognized under European and international law but has been violated “in an organized way” since Spain’s new law on abortion went into effect on July 5, 2010. 

It also criticized the requirement of health care workers who refuse to perform abortions to register as conscientious objectors with the government. “This results in the creation of a registry of names of conscientious objectors and is a tool for pressuring health care personnel.”

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NY senators delay gay 'marriage' vote, possibility still looms

Albany, N.Y., Jun 21, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - New York state senators did not reach a conclusion about homosexual "marriage" as the Senate met before its summer recess on June 20.

“Every day that goes by and the bill does not pass is a good day, (but) we are realistic enough to know that this is a very serious danger,” said Denis Poust, New York Catholic Conference director of Communications, in a June 20 interview with CNA.

The issue was delayed along with other topics including rent control and property tax in New York, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, the Conference is doing its best to convince senators that the homosexual “marriage” bill is not a good idea for New York.

“It will likely be extended a couple of days. We will probably know what happens no later than Wednesday or Thursday,” Poust predicted.

He believes that the bill is being “rammed through the legislature for political reasons,” a move that he described as the “ultimate in bad governing.”

“There has been no public hearing, no public input of any kind. It’s being rammed through, this radical, social change.”

The bill could be harmful for the Republicans as well, even “politically suicidal.”

The Catholic conference director said that his office is “desperately trying” to tell Republican senators that people from their party define marriage “as it has always been known.”

While senators discussed the issue, dozens of citizens gathered in the New York State Senate building to protest and pray against the legalization of same-sex “marriage.” Many of the protestors carried signs and recited chants, led by Baptist ministers and Jewish clergy.

Poust said that New Yorkers can call their state senators and “plead with them not to undertake this radical social experiment.”

“It’s too late for writing; it’s too late for anything much other than calling and prayer.”

A large number of people from the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish communities are taking part in this call to prayer, he added.

At the same time, gay “marriage” supporters were also present at the Senate, led by the Empire State Pride Agenda.

On June 14, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo presented the “Marriage Equality Act” to the state legislature after a key Republican senator voiced support for it. Four Democrats who previously voted against same-sex “marriage” said on June 13 that they would support the bill.

But Poust remained hopeful that marriage would not be redefined by New York.

“We know nothing is impossible with God.”

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Republican candidates must 'ignite' Catholics on life and marriage, Hudson says

New Orleans, La., Jun 21, 2011 (CNA) - While Gov. Haley Barbour has told the Southern Republican Leadership Conference that primary voters should not expect a “perfect candidate” or demand “purity,” commentator Deal Hudson says Republicans must have a “pro-life and pro-marriage” nominee to attract Catholic voters.

“It's not a matter of demanding 'purity' from a candidate but rather a matter of expecting principle and prudence. It's a matter of principle because the Catholic Church teaches, and most Americans agree, that unborn life should be protected and that marriage is between a man and a woman,” Hudson said.

Selecting such a nominee is also a matter of “political prudence” because a nominee who is not pro-life and pro-marriage will not be able to “ignite the Catholics, evangelicals and other social conservatives at the grassroots whose commitment and passion will determine the outcome of the 2012 election,” he said.

Hudson’s comments came June 18 at a social issues panel held at the conference under the sponsorship of the Susan B. Anthony List. At a prior conference event, Gov. Barbour spoke to attendees about the need to rally around a Republican nominee.

“In politics, purity is a loser,” while party unity “wins elections,” said Barbour, a Mississippi Republican.

“You are going to disagree with something about the candidate,” he added.

Barbour discussed his vision for a campaign that was focused on the economy and light on social issues.

He argued that the Tea Party movement cannot effectively serve as a third party, which would split the conservative vote.

Hudson, who led Catholic outreach for George W. Bush’s candidacy in 2000 and 2004, said the campaigns’ focus on reaching Mass-attending Catholics resulted in a swing of 15 percent more Catholics voting for the GOP nominee between 1996 and 2004.

“That’s the kind of swing that changes the outcome of an election,” Hudson said.

Barbour also said that prospective candidate and former Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr.’s support for civil unions for homosexual couples was troubling and could be an “obstacle” for his candidacy.

“Any time you don’t have the platform position, you have to explain why not,” he said, according to the New York Times.

The Southern Republican Leadership Conference had over 2,000 attendees. Speakers included presidential hopefuls former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Herman Cain (R-Georgia).

Both Catholic candidates, Santorum and Gingrich, were received “warmly and enthusiastically,” Hudson reported.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Catholic, also spoke at the conference.

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Deacons should preach less at Mass, Michigan bishop says

Marquette, Mich., Jun 21, 2011 (CNA) - Permanent deacons should not preach at Mass often. Rather, they should preach at other services and serve the Church in the course of their daily witness to Christ, Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette, Mich. has said in a new pastoral letter on the deacon’s role in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Sample’s 19-page letter, titled “The Deacon: Icon of Jesus Christ the Servant,” cited the principle that the one who presides at a liturgical service or who is the principal celebrant at Mass should also give the homily.

“This should be the ordinary practice,” he said.

Deacons should preach the homily at Mass “for some identifiable advantage for the faithful in the congregation, but not on a regular basis,” the bishop wrote.

He said deacons have the opportunity to preach in other contexts, such as at wake services, funeral and wedding liturgies outside of Mass, baptisms, liturgies of the Word, during the Liturgy of the Hours and during Sunday celebrations in the absence of a priest.

Bishop Sample noted that a deacon also “preaches” through “the witness of his life, especially in his marriage and family life,” as well as in his secular work and his role as a teacher.

The deacon’s ministry in the liturgy is not the “heart” of his service. Rather, he is called especially to serve the bishop by caring for the many works of charity “especially suited” to him, most often under the direction of his local pastor.

Although the deacon is ordained to teach and preach the Word of God, “the most effective preaching he does is through the witness of his life in loving service to the most needy among us,” Bishop Sample wrote in a column summarizing the pastoral letter.

The Bishop of Marquette had stopped accepting new deacon candidates until a study of their role had been completed.

In his letter, he announced that a man will not be ordained simply to “be the deacon” at a particular parish or mission. Instead, there must be “a specifically identified need in the community” recognized by the bishop in consultation with the local pastor. This follows the scriptural example of the early Church, where the Apostles chose deacons to minister to the needs of widows so that the Apostles would be free to pray and preach the Word of God.

In the Diocese of Marquette the prospective deacon will now need to have “a particular service ministry” for which he will be ordained, such as service as a catechist or in care for the poor, the sick, the elderly or the imprisoned.

This change will reflect the fact that a deacon’s primary ministry is “not in the sanctuary but in the service of charity.”

“I express my deep gratitude to my deacon brothers for their selfless service to God’s people in the image of Christ the Servant,” Bishop Sample said. “Let us pray for them and support them as they care for the special children of God among us.”

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