Archive of July 1, 2011

Pope criticizes profits made by food price speculators

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict issued strong words on Friday against financial speculators spiking food prices and pointed to family-run farms as a way to help stave off world hunger.

“Nourishment is a factor which touches on the fundamental right to life,” the Pope said.

“How can we remain silent before the fact that food has become the object of speculation and is tied to the movements of financial markets which, lacking clear rules and moral principles, seem fixated on the single objective of profit?”

On the morning of July 1, Pope Benedict met at the Vatican with participants from the 37th conference for the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

He greeted the newly elected head of the organization, Jose Graziano da Silva, and thanked the outgoing president, Jacques Diouf, for his “competence and dedication.”

Pope Benedict said that global poverty, underdevelopment and hunger are often the result of “selfish attitudes” that come from the heart of man. This selfishness, he noted, finds “expression in his social activities, in economic relations and in the conditions of the market” and is eventually “translated into the denial of the primary right of all individuals” to be fed.

The Pope said that the instability of the global market and price increases in food “demand concrete responses, which must necessarily be united in order to achieve results which individual States cannot achieve alone.”

“This means that solidarity must become an essential criterion for all political and strategic action,” he said.

Pope Benedict also stressed the importance of the Food and Agriculture Organization continually re-examining its own structure so it can guarantee “nutritional development, the availability of food products and the development of rural areas, so as to ensure that humankind is free from hunger.”

He said “the first victims of this tragedy” of global hunger are those millions of children who are “condemned to early death or to a delay in their physical and mental development.”

Although global relief groups work around the clock to provide food for impoverished children and their families, the Pope lamented that aid is often limited to emergency situations. He said that in addition to temporary relief, there needs to be a system for long term development and objectives such as family-based farming.

Support “must be given to initiatives ... aimed at rediscovering the importance of family-run farms, supporting the vital role they play in ensuring stable food security,” he said.

“Food security is an authentically human requirement,” the Pope underscored. “Guaranteeing it for present and future generations also means safeguarding ourselves against the uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources.”

“At this time in which agriculture is beset by so many problems, but is also facing new opportunities for alleviating the problem of hunger,” he noted, “you can ensure that, by guaranteeing a nourishment responsive to people's needs, individuals can grow in their true identity as creatures made in the image of God.”

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'Vigils for life' to be held in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Jul 1, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - More than 100 “vigils for life” will be held in Spain to call for a reversal of the country’s abortion law.

The vigils will take place July 1-5. “Many thousands of people” in 36 provinces in Spain are expected to join together in calling for the overturning of the law and for new laws that respect life from conception to natural death, said the spokesman for the organization Right to Life in Spain, Gador Joya Verde.

The law was passed nearly one year ago on July 5, 2010.

Joya added that the organization is calling for a national strategy to help women who want to give their children up for adoption rather than have an abortion.

He noted that Right to Life not only expresses its indignation over the problem of abortion but also proposes solutions to help women in crisis pregnancies, including a new guide for pregnant women titled, “Congratulations, Mom.”

The spokesman for Gynecologists for the Right to Life, Sonsoles Alonso, said the guide includes instructions for young pregnant women on how to request for financial assistance from the government, which, she said, is often “scarce.”

Alonso said the guide will be distributed to doctors and health care workers so they can provide it to their patients.

Joya noted that pro-life leaders have also called on the leader of Spain’s Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, to sign a pledge promising to overturn the Law on Abortion if he is elected president.

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Nearly 10,000 Brazilians register for World Youth Day

Brasilia, Brazil, Jul 1, 2011 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Sao Paulo announced June 26 that 10,000 Brazilians are registered to attend World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain.

In a reflection, Cardinal Odilo Scherer explained that the theme of World Youth Day refers to a passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians in which he speaks of his trials and struggles as a missionary of the Gospel. St. Paul then encourages the community to remain firm in what they learned from Christ.

Cardinal Scherer said St. Paul’s warning to the Colossians came after “that Christian community had been infiltrated by false ‘preachers’ and ‘teachers’ who presented obscure theories and ideas from Greek mythology and cosmology about different divinities and cosmic forces that governed peoples’ lives.”

These false “teachers” are also present “in our times and they draw in people who are not firm in the faith,” he said.

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God cannot become an object of 'human experimentation,' Pope teaches

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict said on June 30 that although science has led to incredible advances in the modern age, it falls short in completely revealing the personhood of God. 

Although empirical reason “has led to great achievements, and no one would seriously wish to deny that it is just and necessary as a way to understand nature and the laws of nature,” the Pope said,“there is a limit to such a use of reason.”

“God is not an object of human experimentation. He is Subject and shows Himself only in the relationship between one person and another.”

Pope Benedict made his remarks at a June 30 Vatican award ceremony for the three winners of the first ever Ratzinger Prize.

The prize was established last year to promote theological study on the writings of Pope Benedict XVI and has been referred to as “the Nobel Prize for Theology.”

The first two winners were Professor Manlio Simonetti, an 85-year-old expert on the Church Fathers who used to teach at Rome’s La Sapienza University, and Professor Olegario González de Cardedal, a 77-year-old specialist in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical University of Salamanca, Spain.

The youngest of the three recipients was Professor Maximilian Heim, a 50 year old Cistercian who teaches dogmatic and fundamental theology at the University of Heiligenkreuz in Austria.

In his remarks at the ceremony, Pope Benedict referred to 11th century theologian and Doctor of the Church St. Bonaventure, who wrote about the dangers of reason becoming “despotism” when “it becomes supreme judge of all things.”

“This use of reason is certainly impossible in the context of the faith,” because it seeks to submit God “to a process of experimental trial,” the Pope said.

He added that in “this context, St. Bonaventure refers to another use of reason: in the 'personal' sphere, in the great questions raised by the fact of being human.”

In this arena, Pope Benedict said that love becomes the driving force because it wants “a better knowledge of the beloved. Love, true love, does not make us blind but causes us to see and part of this is thirst for knowledge, thirst for a true knowledge of the other.”

“For this reason the Fathers of the Church found the precursors of Christianity (apart from the world of the revelation to Israel) not in the area of customary religion ... but in the 'philosophers,' in people who thirsted for truth and who were thus on the path towards God,” he said.

However, the Pope said that when this use of reason “is lacking, then the great questions of humanity fall outside the field of reason and are abandoned to irrationality.”

“This is why authentic theology is so important. Correct faith conducts reason to open itself to the divine so that, guided by love for truth, it can gain a closer knowledge of God.”

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UK Christian advocate sees 'beginnings of tyranny' in Equality Commissioner's remarks

London, England, Jul 1, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The head of the U.K.'s Christian Legal Centre sees persecution of Christians in public life, looming behind controversial recent remarks by Equality and Human Rights Commissioner Trevor Phillips.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, who directs the legal center, told CNA that Phillips also sounded “naive,” saying he “doesn't seem to be living in the same Britain that I'm living in.”

Williams is not the only one who wondered where Phillips got some of the ideas he expressed in a June 19 interview with the Telegraph newspaper. The equality commissioner indicated that Muslim immigrants were integrating better into British society than many Christian populations, and said that Catholic adoption agencies were more clearly discriminatory than Shariah courts.

Phillips also said British Christians tended to imagine discrimination against them where none existed. And he indicated that believers should not expect exemptions from the 2010 “Equality Act,” with its controversial language on sexual orientation, once they stepped outside “the door of the church or mosque.”

Williams, whose legal center advocates for the rights of British Christians in the public square, said her country's Christian roots once made it “a land of great freedom,” where “freedom of conscience” was respected.

“Those things we have seen eradicated under the Equalities agenda, which is Trevor Phillips' approach,” she said in a June 30 interview. “Secularism, under the Equalities agenda, is not neutral. It punishes dissenters.”

Williams said the system of equality laws, which began under Prime Minister Tony Blair and continued with his successor Gordon Brown, “sounds like utopia – but in fact, it leads to the beginnings of tyranny.”

“If you enter into the public sphere, or a public sector job, you have to speak and act the prevailing Equalities agenda. If you do not do that, if you disagree, then you are punished. You lose your job. You become under investigation. You perhaps get accused of hate speech. These are our realities in the United Kingdom.”

Phillips' most blatant criticism of traditional Christianity in the Telegraph interview came during a discussion of immigrant populations from Africa and the Carribean. 

The commissioner acknowledged that there was “an awful lot of noise about the Church being persecuted,” but said the “more real issue” for “conventional churches” was the influx of “people who … believe in an old time religion which in my view is incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society.”

Williams explained that this perception of “incompatibility” came from a caricature of Christianity, not from the Gospel of Christ himself. “Everything that flows from him,” she said, “leads to the recognition of the innate dignity of every human being.”

“Because Christianity is not coercive – unlike secularism, and unlike Islam – it leads to true tolerance.”

In his extensive interview with the Telegraph, Phillips said individual believers could expect the commission to stand up for their right to worship and believe as they pleased. He said it was “part of the settlement of a liberal democracy” for individuals not to be “penalized or treated in a discriminatory way” on account of “being an Anglican, being a Muslim or being a Methodist or being a Jew.”

But Williams charged that the commission is not upholding even this limited interpretation of religious freedom.

“What Mr. Phillips needs to do,” she said, “is to come spend a day at the Christian Legal Centre, run through the cases, and see the discrimination that there is out there.”

“In the Shirley Chaplin case, for instance – the nurse who was told to take off her cross after 38 years of wearing it in frontline nursing – exceptions were made for the Muslims, with the long flowing hijab and a big brooch.”

“Down in a South London council, Muslims are allowed to pray five times a day, but Christians are not permitted to display Christian calendars on their desks. These are our realities.”

She also pointed to the case of Eunice and Owen Johns, the elderly Pentecostal couple who were rejected as foster parents – despite their extensive experience – because they disapproved of homosexuality. “The Equality Commission intervened in that case. They intervened against the Christians,” Williams noted.

“They've intervened in a number of other high-profile cases. They have not, ever, intervened against Muslims. They've only ever intervened in the Christian cases to stand against the Christians. This is not equality. This is inequality.”

“There's a complete making-way for Islam, and yet Christianity is suppressed,” Williams observed.

“This notion of accommodating Shariah, of accepting it – and then, of saying that Catholic adoption agencies, which believe a child needs a married mother and father, should be closed – is devastating for society.”

Williams says Britain's aggressive pursuit of secularism was creating a “vacuum” that radical Muslims could seek to exploit. “Radical Islam has an agenda in this nation, and works hard,” she noted.

But many English Christians fail to stand up for biblical truth in this context. “In many ways, the Church has herself to blame for the state we're in. What we've got to do is find our voice. Otherwise, there will be increased oppression and suppression.”

Williams observed that Christianity has historically “survived much worse than attacks by Trevor Phillips.” But she acknowledges that things look “very bleak” at the moment.

“We've currently got a government that's consulting on extending civil unions to religious premises,” she noted. “They said they would never do that.”

Williams and other English Christians want authentic religious freedom for themselves and others. But they understand the conflict with secularism is part of the cost of discipleship.

“Jesus suffered a false trial, was hated by the world, put on the cross,” she recalled. “But there was his resurrection, and the great hope that flows from that.”

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Christian leaders reach agreement on guidelines for evangelizing

CNA STAFF, Jul 1, 2011 (CNA) - Leaders representing 90 percent of all Christians worldwide issued guidelines on acceptable missionary conduct based on the witness of Christ and the early Church.

“The example and teaching of Jesus Christ and of the early church must be the guides for Christian mission,” church leaders wrote.

“Christian witness is always a sharing in his witness, which takes the form of proclamation of the kingdom, service to neighbor and the total gift of self even if that act of giving leads to the cross.”

The document “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World” was issued jointly on June 28 by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance.

The three bodies include Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal and independent churches. Their combined membership accounts for around two billion people or nearly 90 percent of the world’s Christians.

Organizers said the guidelines are the result of a five year process involving the consultation of over 40 experts and are intended to “serve as a set of recommendations for conduct on Christian witness” around the world.

The list includes suggestions on how to best evangelize in multifaith societies, defends the right to share the Gospel and the rights of others to change faiths, and urges missionaries to reject aggressive or coercive methods.

Leaders clarified up front that the document does “not intend to be a theological statement on mission” but rather aims to address practical issues associated with Christian witness in a multi-religious world.

They added that the guidelines came about due to their awareness “of the tensions between people and communities of different religious convictions and the varied interpretations of Christian witness.”

The document calls on Christian missionaries to share the Gospel by giving “an accounting for the hope that is within them” and to do so “with gentleness and respect.”

Christians should “reject all forms of violence ... including the violation or destruction of places of worship, sacred symbols or texts,” the document states.

Instead, they should “acknowledge and appreciate what is true and good” in other religions, and make any criticisms “in a spirit of mutual respect.”

The guidelines also encourage respect for the “full personal freedom” of individuals being ministered to by allowing them “sufficient time for adequate reflection and preparation” before converting.

“If Christians engage in inappropriate methods of exercising mission by resorting to deception and coercive means, they betray the gospel and may cause suffering to others,” the leaders wrote.

“Such departures call for repentance and remind us of our need for God’s continuing grace.”

The document also acknowledges the dangers of proselytizing in modern society and touched on “increasing interreligious tensions in the world today, including violence and the loss of human life.”

“In some contexts, living and proclaiming the gospel is difficult, hindered or even prohibited.”

However, “Christians are commissioned by Christ to continue faithfully in solidarity with one another in their witness to him,” they said.

The guidelines noted that often politics, economics and other factors play a role in these tensions and that  “Christians too are sometimes involved in these conflicts, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, either as those who are persecuted or as those participating in violence.”

They said that the issue of growing hostility will be addressed separately by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance through what they called a “joint process towards producing shared recommendations for conduct on Christian witness.”

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Charleston bishop to ordain three priests

Charleston, S.C., Jul 1, 2011 (CNA) - Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone of Charleston will ordain three priests on July 1 for a diocese where Catholics are a small minority.

“The Diocese of Charleston rejoices at the ordination of these three men as priests of Jesus Christ,” the bishop said in a June 29 statement.

The three men to be ordained are Deacons S. Matthew Gray of St. Peter’s Parish in Columbia, William S. Hearne of River Forest, Ill., and David D. Nerbun of St. Joseph’s Parish in Columbia.

Bishop Guglielmone said the ordinands are “examples to each of us of following the Lord’s call and of openness to service among God’s people.”

The ordination Mass will take place at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston at 6 p.m. Friday.  
The new priests will be assigned to serve as assistant pastors in parishes around the state.

The Diocese of Charleston, which encompasses all of South Carolina, has 13 seminarians in formation.

A 2009 fact sheet from the diocese said there are about 185,000 Catholics in the state, about four percent of the population.

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