Archive of July 6, 2011

Chinese bishops face excommunication for unapproved ordination

Vatican City, Jul 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The head of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and other bishops previously in communion with the Pope are facing excommunication for ordaining a bishop without Vatican approval.

“Fr. Lei Shiyin, ordained without the papal mandate and hence illegitimately, has no authority to govern the diocesan Catholic community,” the Vatican said in a July 4 communique, adding, “and the Holy See does not recognize him as the bishop of the Diocese of Leshan.”

The Vatican press office stated that the Leshan ordination had “deeply saddened the Holy Father, who wishes to send to the beloved faithful in China a word of encouragement and hope, inviting them to prayer and unity.”

“The consecrating bishops have exposed themselves to the grave canonical sanctions laid down by the law of the Church,” the Vatican said. The normal penalty for all participants in an illegitimate ordination is excommunication, unless they were coerced into attending.

Canon 1382 of the Roman Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law states both the bishop who “without a pontifical mandate, consecrates a person as Bishop, and the one who receives the consecration from him, incur a latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See.”

Bishop Fang Xinyao, the president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, was the main celebrant for the ordination. The Patriotic Association is controlled by the Chinese communist government.

Bishop Xinyao had previously been received into communion with the Pope and was considered a legitimate Catholic bishop. But his participation in the ordination, if undertaken freely, jeopardizes his standing in the Church.

Monday's communique explained that the act was “directly opposed” to the spiritual direction and primacy of the Pope, which the Church requires to survive and develop.

The Vatican also indicated their objections to the individual ordained last week, saying Fr. Lei Shiyin was not fit to be a bishop.

“Fr. Lei Shiyin had been informed, for some time, that he was unacceptable to the Holy See as an episcopal candidate for proven and very grave reasons,” the Vatican statement said. According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, the bishop is known to have had an affair with a woman and fathered a child.

The Leshan ordination may be a sign of things to come in China. Officials at the Patriotic Association announced June 23 that they are looking to ordain as many as 40 new bishops without Vatican approval.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has also taken steps against a candidate for ordination who received approval from the Pope. Government officials removed Bishop-elect Joseph Sun Jigen from the diocese of Handan, where he was scheduled to be ordained on June 29.

Monday's warning to Leshan's illegitimate bishop and his consecrators comes amid a period of increased difficulty between the Vatican and the Chinese government – which began last November with an unauthorized bishop ordination, and intensified soon after as bishops and priests were forced to attend meetings not approved by the Vatican.

This week's statement reiterated Pope Benedict XVI's insistence that the Chinese Catholics must abide by the same norms that govern the universal Church elsewhere.

“If it is desired that the Church in China be Catholic, the Church's doctrine and discipline must be respected,” the Vatican said.

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Vatican reflects on spiritual benefits of vacation

Vatican City, Jul 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Vatican is using the start of Pope Benedict XVI’s summer vacation to reflect upon the spiritual benefits of holidays for both tourists and the tourism industry.

“Tourism presents itself as ‘breaking down barriers across cultures and fostering tolerance, respect and mutual understanding,” said Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, head of the Vatican council tasked with the spiritual care of migrants and itinerant people.
“In our often divided world, these values represent the stepping stones towards a more peaceful future,” he explained July 6.
Archbishop Veglio said that tourism enriches the lives of travelers by bringing them into contact with different cultures. This requires respect, though, on the part of the tourist and the tour operator.

“Tourism should be organized with respect for the peculiar nature, laws, and customs of the receiving countries,” he said in a letter issued July 6, in preparation for World Tourism Day.
The archbishop also used his letter to address those who visit sites rich in Christian heritage, such as Rome, which receives an estimated 10 million tourists every year.

These sites, he said, present an opportunity to evangelize that should not be missed.
“The works of art and historical memory have an enormous potential to evangelize, in as much as they are placed in the context of the ‘via pulchritudinis’ or the ‘way of beauty,’ which is ‘a privileged and fascinating path on which to approach the Mystery of God’,” he observed, quoting Pope Benedict XVI.

One recent attempt by the Vatican to put this into practice can be found at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, where pilgrims are now being offered an iPod that acts as an interactive guide to the church. The project –which is currently being piloted at the church - is also aimed at quieting visitors, allowing those who wish to pray the chance to do so.

“As we are conscious that the Church ‘exists in order to evangelize,’ we must always ask ourselves: How can we welcome people in holy places so that they come to better know and love the Lord? How can we facilitate an encounter between God and each one of the people that are there welcomed?” concluded Archbishop Veglio.

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict began the first day of his holiday by visiting the Vatican exhibition dedicated to Blessed John Paul II. It was created to mark his beatification in May and is open until July 24.

The Pope then traveled from the Vatican to his holiday retreat at Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles to the south of Rome. He will remain there for the month of July.

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More than one million expected to attend World Youth Day closing Mass

Madrid, Spain, Jul 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The director of activities for World Youth Day Madrid is expecting more than one million people to attend the event's closing Mass on Aug. 21.

Activities director Javier Cremades stated on July 5 that the Cuatro Vientos Airfield will be the site of “a great festival” beginning with a vigil on August 20 and culminating with the closing Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict the following morning.

He also revealed that the famous Arfe Monstrance kept at the Cathedral of Toledo will be used during Eucharist adoration led by the Pope at the Saturday night vigil.
In addition, some 17 adoration chapels will be set up throughout the airfield for Eucharistic adoration by the young people during the weekend.
Twenty giant TV screens will be placed at different locations and eight first aid stations will provide any emergency care needed for those expected to attend. “The main priority is to ensure the safety of the attendees,” said Eva Hernandez, director of Infrastructure for World Youth Day.
Officials also announced that the World Youth Day Choir and Symphony Orchestra will participate in the final Mass. 

At the conclusion of the Mass, Pope Benedict XVI will announce the site of the next World Youth Day.
As preparations for the event go into the home stretch, some 420,000 young people have registered to attend so far, and a new radio and TV appeal have been launched to encourage last-minute registrations.
Food and housing is included for young people from countries outside Spain who register by July 8, but Spanish youth can get up to a 50 percent discount if they register before July 15.
More information can be found at

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Texas’ Bishop Corrada to head Puerto Rico diocese

Tyler, Texas, Jul 6, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio of Tyler, Texas as bishop of the Diocese of Mayaguez on Puerto Rico’s west coast.

Bishop Corrada, a Jesuit, was born in the Santurce district of the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan on May 13, 1942. He is the seventh of 14 siblings.

He was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Washington in 1985, becoming the first Puerto Rican native to be named a bishop for the U.S. mainland, according to the U.S. bishops’ conference. He served as apostolic administrator of Caguas, Puerto Rico in 1997 and was named Bishop of Tyler in 2000.

Bishop Corrada succeeds Bishop Ulises Aurelio Casiano Vargas, whose retirement-age resignation Pope Benedict has accepted.

The Diocese of Mayaguez has 502,515 people, about 80 percent of whom are Catholic. It has 66 priests, 26 permanent deacons and 132 vowed religious.

Bishop Corrada studied at Jesuit seminaries in Poughkeepsie, New York; Shrub Oak, New York; and New York City. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Fordham University and was ordained a priest in 1974.

After ordination he completed course work for a doctoral degree in theology at the Institut Catholic in Paris. He has taught at Colegio San Ignacio in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico and at Xavier High School in New York City.

In the late 1970s he served as a retreat master and director of the marriage renewal movement at Casa Manresa Retreat House in Aibonito, Puerto Rico. He was assistant pastor at Nativity Parish in New York City from 1979 to 1982 and then served as pastoral coordinator of the New York-based Northeast Catholic Hispanic Center from 1982 to 1985.

He has counseled Hispanic inmates at Riker’s Island Prison Center in New York and has served as a lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Spain: Nearly 80 percent of pregnant teens choose not to abort

Madrid, Spain, Jul 6, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Nearly 80 percent of pregnant teenage girls in Spain choose to continue their pregnancies when they receive the necessary support and counseling, reported the Red Madre Foundation.
The director of the foundation, Carmina Garcia-Valdes, told reporters that since Spain’s new abortion law took effect one year ago, there has been a 45 percent increase in the number of teenage girls who have sought her organization’s assistance.

The foundation has helped more than 6,000 women choose life since it was founded in 2007.
In 2010, 53 percent of the 4,331 women helped by the foundation were between the ages of 14 and 20, up from 18 percent in 2009.  Many of the women who seek out assistance are immigrants “who do not want to abortion but suffer from all kinds of pressure.”
Garcia-Valdes underscored that eight out of every 10 pregnant teens decided to continue on with their pregnancies, which shows that “teens do not want to abort,” and that those who do so are reacting to “pressure, in most cases, from their family members.”
She also noted that teens “are not protected by the law,” since abortion on demand up to the 14th week ensures they suffer “even more pressure” to “abort as soon as possible and to not think about it too much.” 
“They have no time for reflection and now they are asking us for psychological and psychiatric help,” she added.
“When a pregnant woman receives the help she needs, she continues on. Perhaps her situation remains unresolved but once she has her child, she has the necessary tools to carry on,” Garcia-Valdes said.

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Fr. Emil Kapaun beatification cause heads to Rome

Wichita, Kan., Jul 6, 2011 (CNA) - U.S. Army chaplain Fr. Emil Kapaun’s cause for beatification is headed to Rome, an event the Diocese of Wichita celebrated with a July 1 Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Fr. John Hotze, episcopal delegate for the office of Fr. Kapaun’s beatification and canonization, said the event marks the culmination of years of work and also celebrates the “gift” of Fr. Kapaun.

“The fact that we, unlike any other diocese in the United States, in the world, have been blessed by the example of this saintly man, Father Emil Kapaun, boggles my mind,” he said in a June 30 statement. “How can we do anything less than give praise to God for this gift and strive to follow the example of Father Kapaun’s selfless giving.”

Fr. Kapaun, a native of Pilsen, Kansas, served in the Korean War. He courageously rescued wounded soldiers from the battlefield, risking his own life to prevent their execution at the hands of the Chinese.

He was captured by North Korean and Communist Chinese forces after he volunteered to stay behind on a battlefield with the injured.

The priest’s service to his fellow prisoners has become legendary among those who knew of him. Scores of men attributed their survival to his work tending the starving and the sick.

Fr. Kapaun died in a prison camp hospital on May 23, 1951. The Diocese of Wichita has investigated his life since 2001 and officially opened the cause for his beatification on June 29, 2008. 

Andrea Ambrosi, a lawyer investigating the case for the Vatican, told the Wichita Eagle he thinks Fr. Kapaun has a good chance to be raised to the altars.

“He showed that there was not just a devil working on the battlefields of the war, but something else.”

The investigator said Kapaun’s candidacy is unique compared with the hundreds of other cases he has investigated because it is so full of action and detailed. While most cases involve “very holy” priests and nuns who have miracles attributed to them, Fr. Kapaun’s story involves far more deeds of heroism, sacrifice and action.

Ambrosi has investigated two alleged miracles involving prayers for Fr. Kapaun’s intercession.

In 2006 Avery Gerleman, then 12 years-old, was near death for 87 days. She recovered after her parents prayed to Kapaun.

In October 2008 Chase Kear, a college track athlete, inexplicably survived a severe pole vaulting accident. His skull was fractured from ear to ear and caused some bleeding on his brain. Doctors said he would likely either die in surgery or from a post-surgery infection.

However, family and friends joined in petitions to Fr. Kapaun. Kear survived the surgery and left the hospital only a few days after the incident.

Doctors said both recoveries were medically inexplicable.

Ambrosi said the intensity of the priest’s devotees is “incredible.”

Several Catholic parishes and many parishioners pray for Fr. Kapaun’s intercession every week at Masses and many call upon him when loved ones become ill.

Fr. Hotze said that the diocese has finished collecting information that will “hopefully, with the grace of God, prove Father Kapaun worthy of beatification and then canonization as a saint of the Catholic Church.”

Ambrosi and other investigators must now closely study 8,268 documents about the chaplain’s deeds and sacrifices in the Korean War. Those documents are being sent to Rome.

If canonized, the priest would become the third American-born saint.

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Otto von Habsburg remembered as great defender of Christian values

Vienna, Austria, Jul 6, 2011 (CNA) - Otto von Habsburg, a Catholic leader for a unified Europe and heir to the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire, died July 4 at the age of 98. Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino remembered him as one of the twentieth century’s “greatest defenders” of the Catholic faith and human dignity.

“Even well into his nineties, Otto von Habsburg campaigned tirelessly to uphold Europe's Christian values and the sanctity of all human life,” the cardinal said in a statement from the Rome-based Dignitatis Humanae Institute.

“Otto von Habsburg's father, (Emperor) Blessed Karl of Austria, instilled in him from an early age that the office of a ruler is one of holy service and selfless sacrifice for the good of the peoples entrusted to him. It was a philosophy that would influence him all his life. He will be greatly missed.”

Cardinal Martino, who is the president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, noted that the dynastic leader’s “uncompromising position” on human dignity was evident in his agreement to become a patron of the Dignitas Humanae Institute despite his increasing frailty.

The organization advocates a universal declaration which bases this dignity on man’s creation in the image and likeness of God.

In 2007 Habsburg argued that lobbyists should examine the effective tactics of the “anti-family lobby” and use them to promote the protection of the most vulnerable, the cardinal recalled.

“Our thoughts and prayers at this time are turned towards the repose of Otto's soul, the consolation of his family, and loss of the people of Austria; and we trust in the mercy of God that today this holy, humble man beholds the face of Jesus Christ, now into eternity,” the cardinal said.

Habsburg died at his villa in Poecking in southern Germany, where he had lived since the 1950s, with his seven children nearby, the Associated Press reports.

Although he was a witness to the dismantling of his family’s empire, he used his influence in an unsuccessful struggle to keep the Nazis from annexing Austria before World War II. He also opposed Soviet communism and worked for the opening of the Iron Curtain in the decades after the war.

Cardinal Martino said Habsburg was “particularly disturbed” by the rise of the major totalitarian ideologies and fought against both National Socialism and International Socialism “at significant risk to his own life.”

He was a member of the European Parliament for the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union in southern Germany. He also served as president of the Pan-European League from 1979 to 1999, using his position to briefly open the border between Austria and Hungary to allow 600 East Germans to flee communism in 1989, months before the epochal fall of the Berlin Wall.

He is also credited with helping about 15,000 Austrians, including many Jews, escape the Nazis during World War II.

“My father was a towering personality," Habsburg's oldest son Karl Habsburg-Lothringen told the Austria Press Agency. "With him we lose a great European who has influenced everything we do today beyond measure.”

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso praised Habsburg as “a great European … who gave an important impetus to the European project throughout his rich life.”

“I will particularly remember his strong stance against all forms of totalitarianism and on Europe’s fundamental values,” Barroso said in a statement.

Habsburg's wife, Regina, died last year. Their eldest son Karl has officially headed the House of Habsburg since 2007.

His father, who tried to bring an end to World War I, was beatified in 2004.

Habsburg renounced all claims to the Austrian throne in 1961, five years before the Austrian government repealed the laws banning all members of the former imperial family from entering the country.

His body will be held in the St. Ulrich church in Poecking for three days for people to pay their respects. His funeral will take place in Vienna on July 16. Requiems are also planned for Poecking, Munich, Mariazell, Vienna and Budapest.

He will be buried in the imperial crypt in Vienna beneath the capital city’s Capuchin church. An aide to Habsburg’s son Georg told the AP that his heart will be buried in the Benedictine Abbey in Pannonhalma in central Hungary.

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