New York City, N.Y., Jun 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The New York legislature’s passage of a gay “marriage” bill will undermine families and will enable efforts to sanction those who preach the true nature of marriage, the state’s Catholic bishops said June 24.
The bishops of New York said they were “deeply disappointed and troubled” by the legislature’s passage of the bill on June 24 by a 33-29 vote.
“We worry that both marriage and the family will be undermined by this tragic presumption of government in passing this legislation that attempts to redefine these cornerstones of civilization,” they said.
The definition of marriage “cannot change,” they explained, “though we realize that our beliefs about the nature of marriage will continue to be ridiculed, and that some will even now attempt to enact government sanctions against churches and religious organizations that preach these timeless truths.”
The bishops said society must regain “a true understanding of the meaning and place of marriage, as revealed by God, grounded in nature, and respected by America’s foundational principles.”
One Democratic senator opposed the bill and four Republicans voted for it. Similar legislation had failed in a 2009 vote by a vote of 38-24.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic and a Democrat, signed the bill into law on Friday. He said the state has “finally torn down the barrier that has prevented same-sex couples from exercising the freedom to marry and from receiving the fundamental protections that so many couples and families take for granted.”
The Republican-controlled Senate could have prevented the vote but chose not to. Several wealthy Republican donors had also funded a campaign to pass the legislation.
In a separate statement, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn said Gov. Cuomo and the state legislature have “deconstructed the most important institution in human history.”
He said Gov. Cuomo “has opened a new front in the culture wars that are tearing at the fabric of our nation.”
“Republicans and Democrats equally share responsibility for this ruinous legislation and we as Catholics should hold all accountable for their actions,” he added.
In protest of the decision and the “corrupt political process in New York State,” Bishop DiMarzio said he has asked all Catholic schools to refuse any distinction or honors granted by the governor or any member of the legislature who voted to support the legislation. He has also asked all pastors and school principals not to invite any state legislator to speak or be present at any parish or school celebration.
The bishop said that the governor and the legislature have “demonized people of faith” and “identified them as bigots and prejudiced.”
“It is mystifying that this bill would be passed on the last day of an extended session under the cover of darkness,” he said.
“That there was virtually no public debate on the issue and that the entire matter was concluded in just over thirty-minutes late on a Friday evening is disgraceful,” the bishop added in an editorial in the New York Daily News.
An amendment to the gay “marriage” bill granted some religious freedom protections to religious groups, but not to those working in wedding-related industries.
New York Catholic Conference director Dennis Poust told EWTN News June 15 that if the bill passed “there is very little that can be done” since New York does not have a system of voter initiatives and referenda like California and some other states.
Vatican City, Jun 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - On June 28, Pope Benedict XVI will launch the Vatican's first multimedia news portal, which is also designed for mobile devices.
“We are trying to give everybody an opportunity to have Vatican news immediately in a modern and accessible way, using new technology,” said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in an interview with CNA on June 27.
He explained that the Pope will have the privilege of giving the “first click” to take the site online, a reflection of the way Pope Pius XI inaugurated the transmission of Vatican Radio 80 years ago.
Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s Press Office, explained to CNA that the Pope's first click will be “a simple but powerful and symbolic action,” to demonstrate that the new initiative is a response to “a desire of the Pope for the new communication of the Church.”
One of the most notable new features of www.news.va will be its integration with social networks, and a design geared toward mobile devices such as the iPad. “This is a new approach for us,” Archbishop Celli noted.
The new information source will highlight the Pope's travels, acts and teachings. It will also contain statements released by various departments of the Vatican, news developments from local churches worldwide and information about other important global developments.
“It is synergy, bringing together the contribution of different media,” commented Fr. Lombardi.
At a June 27 press conference, Archbishop Celli said the website was intended as “an expression of our faithfulness and dedication to the Holy Father, for the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.”
He explained that users of the news portal will have access to the main articles printed or transmitted by other Vatican media outlets, including the daily newspaper L'Osservatore Romano and Vatican Radio.
For its first few months, the portal will offer stories and information in Italian and English. Spanish translation will most likely become available in the fall, with French and Portuguese following later.
The main Vatican website will continue to focus on its mission of making papal teachings and statements available online.
“Since it was founded, the Vatican website has served as a source of documentation and so it will remain, working in harmony with the new portal,” Archbishop Celli said.
Lima, Peru, Jun 27, 2011 (CNA) - An ordinance drafted by the mayor of Lima, Peru is intended to legalize gay ideology in the city, according to a city council member.
Manuel Cardenas Munoz, who leads the effort to pass the ordinance, said that it would force establishments to post notices that say, “This city and this establishment promotes equality on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.”
The purpose of the ordinance is “to legalize a series of problems that the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) community has,” confirmed Cardenas in a telephone interview with CNA on June 24.
It would require establishments to allow expressions of homosexual affection. Businesses that do not comply would be subject to fines or even closure.
The ordinance would not apply to churches, military and police facilities, and other places “outside the jurisdiction” of the city council, he said.
However, Cardenas noted that the ordinance would require schools and “cultural organizations” “to not discriminate against children, young people and teenagers, because of their sexual orientation, and would require them to be enrolled.” Schools that refuse to comply or that violate the ordinance would be subject to sanctions, he added.
Gonzalo Flores, an attorney with the Latin American Consortium on Religious Freedom, said the mayor and city council members are using “the supposed promotion of human rights, specifically that of not allowing discrimination against persons, as a façade” to impose “gender and sexual orientation ideology on the entire community.”
He said it is not true that the Peruvian constitution “prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. These terms, which have a very clear ideological bias, are not used by our constitution.”
Lima mayor Susana Villaran is attempting to penalize those persons or institutions that do not think like her, Flores said.
The ordinance would “affect those who practice a Christian creed, as well as the Catholic Church and other entities that view homosexual conduct negatively based on religious reasons or the natural order.” It would constitute a violation of the constitutional protection of freedom of religion, he noted.
The proposal is set to go before the entire city council of Lima sometime in July. It would define sexual orientation and what conduct would be considered discriminatory.
A poll carried out by the CPI agency February 1- 6 this year showed that 75 percent of Peruvians oppose homosexual “marriage.”
Cardenas said the idea for such an ordinance surfaced in late 2010, “when the LGBT community approached us about what kind of willingness existed to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance.”
Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima told reporters he hoped the ordinance would not pass. “The mayor should be worrying about more important issues for the city, such as traffic or security issues,” he said.
Vatican City, Jun 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican’s press office unveiled Pope Benedict XVI's official World Youth Day schedule on June 27. His itinerary for the trip to Madrid this August includes personal and public visits with young people from all walks of life.
During his four-day visit, the Pope will visit with young nuns, university professors, and seminarians, in addition to his encounters with the millions of youth expected to gather in Madrid from around the world.
The Pope's plans include a private lunch with a group of youth on August 19. He will also hear the confessions of some young people on August 20.
His other private engagements include speaking to a group of 2,000 young university professors on August 19. That same day he will meet privately with a group of young nuns. On August 20, the Pope will celebrate a private Mass with seminarians.
The crowds expected to gather by the millions will also see plenty of the Pope. On August 19, Pope Benedict will lead public stations of the cross, and on August 20 he will speak at a prayer vigil. He will also celebrate the closing Mass on August 21.
Other events on the Pope's schedule include a visit with Spain's king, queen and president on August 19, and lunches with the cardinals of Spain and the bishops of the Madrid province on August 20 and 21.
World Youth Day was first established in 1985 by Blessed Pope John Paul II in response to a U.N. declaration of the International Year of Youth. The celebration takes place on the international level every three years and has been held in many different countries. Pope Benedict celebrated his first World Youth Day as Pope in Cologne, Germany in 2005, followed by the 2008 gathering in Sydney, Australia.
Pope Benedict's official schedule for the 2011 gathering is available at: http://www.madrid11.com
Lima, Peru, Jun 27, 2011 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI prayed that the 121 foot-tall monument overlooking the city of Lima, Peru will “inspire everyone to grow in the love of God and neighbor.”
He encouraged Peruvians to “work tirelessly in the building of an ever more just, unified and fraternal society, in a climate of respect and diligent collaboration in the search for the common good,” according to the newspaper El Comercio.
The Pope's words came in a June 24 message for the blessing of the massive “Christ of the Pacific” statue on June 24.
Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima read the message during the ceremony of blessing, which was attended by the country's former President Alan Garcia, the current Minister of Defense, Jaime Thorne, and other officials.
The construction of the Christ of the Pacific was harshly criticized by the liberal media and by some politicians, including the mayor of Lima, Susana Villaran.
“It’s very easy to find reasons to criticize,” he continued. “We could talk about so many investments—without getting into details in order to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes—so many areas where there is useless spending. I think this is a small expense because it is a donation,” the cardinal noted. He said his own personal intention regarding the project is “to reconcile and not divide.”
“This investment which was a donation from a Brazilian company as I understand it—how could it not motivate us to be thankful? Let’s not be troublemakers. The Christ of the Pacific is a great work that has been beautifully made and received with great joy by the people,” the cardinal said.
He pointed out that the suburb of Chorrillos, where the statue is located, will pay for the maintenance expenses for the new monument, but if necessary the people would step in to ensure its preservation.
Cardinal Cipriani told reporters, “The people in general are very happy and you will see that this place will become a pilgrimage site. For this reason, let us not focus on our differences but rather let us seek out unity.”
The Christ of the Pacific is a 121 foot-tall statue that sits on a 49 foot-wide base and can be seen from various points in the Peruvian capital. It will be official inaugurated on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Vatican City, Jun 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The vicar general of the Legion of Christ has confirmed that the order’s leaders are likely to step down at their next General Chapter meeting, which could be held as early as 2013.
“In any religious congregation leadership changes with time, so I think that by the time we have the General Chapter it will be a normal moment, I would think, to change the leadership,” Fr. Luis Garza, the Legion’s vicar general, told CNA.
Fr. Garza’s comments come as the Vatican is evaluating the Legion’s constitution and its future mission. That process is being headed up by the Italian Cardinal Velasio De Paolis.
“Cardinal De Paolis is a very sound man, he’s very intelligent, he’s very wise, very prudent,” said Fr. Garza.
“He’s been helping us to understand the way that we should go and chart, in a sense, the way for the future.”
Cardinal De Paolis was appointed as the Pope’s delegate to the Legion last year, after a Vatican investigation condemned the late founder of the Congregation, Fr. Marcial Maciel, as a being guilty of “serious and objectively immoral behavior” as well as “real crimes.”
Fr. Maciel was found to have sexually abused seminarians over many years and fathered several children with different women. He died in 2008, aged 87.
“My hope is that we can continue serving the Church with the same enthusiasm, or even more, and with the same dedication but at the same time purifying all that was wrong and that we definitely need to change,” said Fr. Garza of the Vatican review process.
“The fear, of course, is that due to our lack of prayer and to the idea of not being faithful to a charism that we’ve received, (we) could produce changes that are not according to what God would want and God’s plans.”
Fr. Garza does not want to see the Legion to “take a way by which the idea of religious life would be deprived of any value.”
“Religious life, as you know, has vows and you need to abide by obedience, by poverty, by chastity. So if you move away from those principles, virtues and vows then you destroy religious life,” he explained.
He also stressed that he doesn’t believe such changes will, in the end, be recommended by Cardinal De Paolis.
The issue of vows is a delicate one for the Legion. In 2007 Pope Benedict abolished a private vow taken by Legionary seminarians and priests. The so-called “oath of charity” prevented any kind of criticism of superiors and their decisions by member.
It was reported at the time that a second vow, an “oath of humility,” had also been suppressed. This forbade the religious men from aspiring to positions within the leadership of the Legion.
Last year’s Vatican report described how Fr. Maciel “had created around him a defense mechanism which made him untouchable for a long time, thus rendering knowledge of his real life difficult,” and that “the large majority of Legionaries were unaware of that life.”
Fr. Garza has always maintained that he and the rest of the Legion’s leadership were also unaware of Fr. Maciel’s misconduct.
Now, the Legion’s current leaders seem eager to move forward and beyond the controversy.
“Well, we’ve had the delegate for a year so the time frame, which is not extremely precise, (it) will be another two years for the constitutions and then probably at the end of that period we’ll have a General Chapter,” said Fr. Garza.
The next General Chapter will will choose new leaders for the order. It could be held by 2013, but it might not be held until 2014 or 2015, depending on when the review of the constitutions is completed.
“The decision to leave the leadership of the Legion essentially intact is a serious mistake,” said Father. Richard Gill, who was a priest for 29 years with the Legion. He left last year and is now a priest of the Archdiocese of New York.
“By failing to remove major superiors, or at least some of them, Cardinal De Paolis failed to send to the whole Legion a clear signal that the manner in which the current superiors handled the revelations about Maciel was completely unacceptable,” Fr. Gill said in an e-mail to CNA.
“I seriously doubt the Legion can wait until 2015 to get a new group of superiors.”
Fr. Gill says any possible future for the Legion will rest on good leadership and not solely on a good constitution.
“The future of the Legion depends on somehow awakening good spiritual leadership in its members, in the emergence of a new generation of leadership not tainted by Fr. Maciel and the scandals. Unless the current group steps aside, it is hard to see how that new generation can come forward.”
Fr. Garza says he and the rest of the Legion’s leadership will step down immediately if asked to do so by Cardinal De Paolis. So far they have not been asked to do so. Neither, though, have they tendered their resignations. But the vicar general agrees that the future of the Legion lies in good new leadership.
“It’s not that, in a sense, I believe that I can do anything special or different from anybody else. The Legion has a lot of very good men to really follow this process and bring the Legion to betterment to better serve the Church.”