Rome, Italy, Jul 14, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican has responded with dismay to the news that China has ordained another Catholic bishop without papal approval.
“This is not good news. The position of the Holy See on this matter has been made clear in recent months. These ordinations are very negative for the unity of the Church,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi S.J. to CNA July 14.
His comments come only hours after the illicit ordination of Fr. Joseph Huang Bingzhang as bishop of Shantou in China’s southern Guangdong province.
According to UCA News, the ceremony took place in Shantou City’s St. Joseph’s Cathedral before an estimated congregation of 1,000. Bishop Johan Fang Xingyao of Linyin, the president of the government-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, was the main celebrant.
Meanwhile Reuters news agency reports that eight bishops loyal to Rome participated in the ceremony.
“All eight bishops were requested by civil authorities to go and ordain the new illicit bishop,” said “a source close to the Vatican” to Reuters July 14.
“All of them were accompanied by the police to the place of the event. The majority of the bishops refused and resisted to go.”
Today’s ceremony is the third illicit ordination in nine months following one in Chendge diocese in November last year and another in Leshan last month. Ten days ago the Vatican excommunicated Fr. Paul Lei Shiyin, who was illicitly ordained as bishop of Leshan. They also warned other Catholic clerics who participated in the ordination that they also could be facing excommunication.
The backdrop to all these events is the continuing attempt by China’s communist regime to control all aspects of Chinese life, including the Catholic Church. The Chinese government created and continues to run the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which does not acknowledge the authority of the Pope.
Canon 1382 of the Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law states both a 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.”
To make matters worse for the Vatican, Shantou diocese already has a Vatican-appointed leader in the person of Bishop Peter Zhuang Jianjian. UCA reported that he was watched July 14 by dozens of plainclothes officers at his rural church.
“Before Father Huang repents wholeheartedly, we will not have any contact in sacraments as he chose not to be in communion with the pope,” said a UCA source quoting the 81-year-old Bishop Zhuang.
He says he will not recognize Fr. Huang as a bishop and has called on the faithful to recite the rosaries for God’s help to overcome the difficulties.
Fr. Joseph Huang was born in 1967 and was ordained to the priesthood 1991. UCA reported that he has been a deputy of the National People’s Congress - China’s parliament - since 1998 and is presently a vice-chair of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 14, 2011 (CNA) - A recent study in Spain showed that nine out of every ten young people who participate in a World Youth Day believe the event “is an experience that changes lives.”
The results of the poll were published July 11 by WYD 2011 organizers and features responses from 1,800 young people under the age of 30 from all five continents who are following the event.
Analysis showed that 92 percent of respondents said the main reason for attending a WYD is to spread the message of Jesus Christ. Ninety-three percent of young people said they're attending to have a new experience with 90 percent saying their attendance will express their commitment to the Church. Eighty-eight percent said it was to be with other people who think like them.
The poll also showed that one out of every four young people interviewed has already attended a WYD. Of these, 61 percent attended WYD in Cologne, Germany, in 2005. Forty-four percent attended WYD in Sydney in 2008. Eighty percent of those who attended both events said the experience was very positive.
Results of the study also showed that young people believe faith in Christ is very positive for forgiving others (85 percent), for showing solidarity (80 percent), for maturing and becoming a better person (79 percent), for accepting suffering and being happy (75 percent) and for having clarity in one’s beliefs (67 percent).
New York City, N.Y., Jul 14, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A federal judge on July 13 temporarily barred New York City from enforcing a new law that would cripple crisis pregnancy centers with heavy fines and possible closures for failing to cite medical limitations.
“Pro-life pregnancy centers, which freely offer real help and hope to women and their preborn children, shouldn’t be punished by political allies of those who make their money aborting babies,” said attorney Matt Bowman of the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group.
On Wednesday, Judge William H. Pauley III called the new law “offensive to free speech principles” and halted its enactment while a lawsuit filed on behalf of two pregnancy care centers and a maternity home by the Alliance Defense Fund continues.
The law, titled Bill 371-A, was passed in March and backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn.
The measure obligated pregnancy centers to notify women whether the center offered abortions or had licensed medical providers on staff. It also required the centers to encourage women to consult with alternate medical providers. Failure to comply with the law could result in thousands of dollars in fines, shut-down of the centers, or imprisonment.
In contrast, the law did not require abortion or family planning clinics to make any disclosures about abortion alternatives.
“We think this is a resounding defeat of the Gestapo-like tactics of Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg,” Chris Slattery, founder of Expectant Mother Care/EMC FrontLine Pregnancy Centers, told the New York Times.
“This is one of the most important First Amendment decisions in American history, and will very strongly boost pro-life free speech initiatives and protect pregnancy centers not only here in New York, but across America.”
Attorney Matt Bowman said Judge Pauley's decision “keeps the city from enforcing a law that is specifically designed to deter pregnant women from receiving the help they need to make fully informed choices about their pregnancy while this lawsuit goes forward.”
Optimistic about the future of pregnancy centers in city, Bowman noted that Wednesday's order “means that the court is likely to find the ordinance unconstitutional.”
Judge Pauly's suspension of the new law comes as recent statistics show that 41 percent of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion.
CNA STAFF, Jul 14, 2011 (CNA) - On July 14, the Church celebrates the feast day of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American to be beatified. Known as the "Lily of the Mohawks," Kateri lived a life of holiness and virtue, despite obstacles and opposition within her tribe.
Kateri was born in Auriesville, New York, in 1656 to a Christian Algonquin woman and a pagan Mohawk chief. When she was a child, a smallpox epidemic attacked her tribe and both her parents died. She was left with permanent scars on her face and impaired eyesight. Her uncle, who had now become chief of the tribe, adopted her and her aunts began planning her marriage while she was still very young.
When three Jesuit fathers were visiting the tribe in 1667 and staying in the tent of her uncle, they spoke to her of Christ, and though she did not ask to be baptized, she believed in Jesus with an incredible intensity. She also realized that she was called into an intimate union with God as a consecrated virgin.
Kateri had to struggle to maintain her faith amidst the opposition of her tribe who ridiculed her for it and ostracized her for refusing the marriage that had been planned for her. When she was 18, Fr. Jacques de Lamberville returned to the Mohawk village, and she asked to be baptized.
The life of the Mohawk village had become violent and debauchery was commonplace. Realizing that this was proving too dangerous to her life and her call to perpetual virginity, Kateri escaped to the town of Caughnawaga in Quebec, near Montreal, where she grew in holiness and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Kateri lived out the last years of her short life here, practicing austere penance and constant prayer. She was said to have reached the highest levels of mystical union with God, and many miracles were attributed to her while she was still alive.
She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of 24. Witnesses reported that within minutes of her death, the scars from smallpox completely vanished and her face shone with radiant beauty.
Devotion to Kateri began immediately after her death and her body, enshrined in Caughnawaga, is visited by many pilgrims each year. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, and the case for her canonization is currently underway.
Alexandria, Va., Jul 14, 2011 (CNA) - The Hildebrand Project will introduce students and scholars to the insights and contributions of philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand in its first-ever summer seminar in Alexandria, Va. later this July.
The seminar will consist of four daily roundtable discussions led by project co-founder John F. Crosby, a leading expert and former student of the philosopher.
Sessions will take place daily from July 25 to 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. Eastern Time.
John Henry Crosby, director of the Hildebrand Project, said in a July 12 e-mail that the seminar is a “significant expansion” into “new territory.”
The project has sponsored high-level academic gatherings, including a 300-attendee conference in Rome in May 2010.
The seminar is free, but only a “very limited” number of seats are available to the public.
Those interested are asked to write to [email protected] with their full name, complete contact information, and academic or professional affiliation if applicable.
The Hildebrand Project will contact those who are accepted by the evening of July 22.
The project intends to record the seminar for eventual release as a podcast. Its website is http://www.hildebrandlegacy.org.
Denver, Colo., Jul 14, 2011 (CNA) - An expert on Pope Pius XII says new discoveries show that the Jewish community strongly supported the pontiff for his stand against anti-Semitism and support for Jewish rights during World War II.
Researcher William Doino outlined evidence that he says makes it clear the late Pope “wanted to break down walls of anti-Jewish prejudice, not erect them.”
Doino shared his his findings exclusively with CNA, pointing to magazine articles from the 1930s that feature Jewish American veterans lauding Pius XII for his deep respect for the Jewish community and their customs.
In April of 1939, just one month after Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pope, the U.S. Jewish Veteran magazine called the new Pope's leadership “a source of great satisfaction to Jews.”
“Pope Pius XII is known as a staunch friend of Jews,” the veterans wrote, noting the success of his election despite the attempts by anti-Semitic Fascists to prevent it.
The March 1939 issue of the magazine also expressed the community's “fervent hope” that Pius XII would “have a long and successful reign; that he will fill the spiritual vacuum left by the decease of his predecessor, and that he too will be sanctified by the love of his fellow men.”
Doino, who has contributed extensively to an anthology titled “The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII” (Lexington Books), said it has long been documented that Pius XII strongly opposed Fascism and Nazism and “abhorred anti-Semitism.”
However, he said, “research in the last decade has revealed more.”
“Pacelli not only opposed racism and totalitarianism, but showed an express sympathy for the Jewish faith and practice.”
One example of this is how the late Pope made it a point to have kosher food prepared for Jewish guests at the Vatican “way back in the 1930s, when Catholic-Jewish relations were not nearly as developed as they are today.”
Doino said that the Jewish Veteran articles are not unique and that many other Jewish publications offered comparable praise for Pius XII “before and during his papacy, and especially after his death.”
In July of 1944, shortly after the liberation of Rome, the American Jewish Congress publicly praised the Vatican for providing kosher food for Jews who were being sheltered in Catholic institutions during the German occupation of Rome.
Doino said that these findings should not surprise people since then-Cardinal Pacelli had intervened to block an anti-kosher law in Poland in 1938.
Had the legislation passed, it would have forbidden Jewish ritual practices, and constituted a “true persecution for Jews,” Pope Pius wrote at the time.
“If you examine Pacelli’s life, you’ll find early friendships with Jewish schoolmates; an appreciation for Jewish theology; support for the Jewish community in America, when he visited in 1936; sympathy for the Jewish people in the Holy Land, and an openness toward their yearning for a Jewish state – long before Israel was established; and an affirmation of both Jews and Judaism,” Doino said.
Later in 1941, “just as the anti-Semitic persecutions were entering their worst phase,” Doino said, a Jewish refugee visited the Vatican and begged the Pope to intervene for his persecuted brethren who had been shipwrecked and imprisoned on a Fascist-controlled island.
Not only did Pius XII promise the young man his support, but said before a large audience that he was just as worthy as every other human being, and encouraged him to “always be proud to be a Jew.”
“The refugee was so moved by this encounter that he later wrote an unforgettable first-person narrative about it for the Palestine Post,” Doino recounted.
Later that same year, Pius XII published his first encyclical, “Summi Pontificatus,” which “condemned the evils of racism and totalitarianism, and similarly stressed the unity of mankind, expressing solidarity with non-Catholics as well,” the expert recalled.
Doino's research surfaces just after the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, Mordechai Lewy, aroused controversy in Israel and abroad by praising Pius XII for helping save Jews during the Holocaust.
In the wake of criticism from Jewish groups, the ambassador said on June 27 – days after his positive comments about the pontiff – that his words were historically “premature.”
However, Doino expressed support for Ambassador Lewy and welcomed his remarks as an occasion for renewed dialogue on the issue.
He also said that he is looking forward to the public release of the Vatican’s remaining wartime archives.
Doino referenced “significant leads and discoveries” from “at least half a dozen top-flight Pius XII specialists who are engaged in historical research revealing Pius XII’s active support for the Jewish community, both before and after he became Pope.”
“The idea that he was a self-enclosed Catholic leader, insensitive to Jewish concerns, is pure myth – an image that is thankfully being reversed by modern scholarship,” he said.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 14, 2011 (CNA) - An advocacy group in Spain strongly criticized the country's Collegial Medical Organization for approving a new ethics code that could restrict doctors from objecting to performing abortions.
In a statement sent to CNA on July 12, the National Association for the Defense of the Right to Conscientious Objection condemned the organization for approving the code behind closed doors and without input from its members.
Association members say the proposal for the new code of ethics wasn't slated for discussion until September.
They also criticized the “secretive” manner in which the code was enacted and said it violated the rights of the members of the Collegial Medical Organization to object and to file further complaints if their concerns were not acknowledged.
The statement also pointed to what members called numerous contradictions in the new code, which they say purports to uphold the protection of human life, yet forces doctors to “become promoters of abortion against their scientific knowledge.”
The association said it would provide legal counsel to those doctors “who feel the imposition of this code would restrict their professional autonomy.”
Vatican City, Jul 14, 2011 (CNA) - The Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples says that a group of Chinese bishops are “presumed” to be excommunicated for participating in last month's illicit ordination, until they can provide any justification for a lesser penalty.
“There is a sufficient reason to ascertain that these bishops actually committed a grave act of indiscipline through the illegitimate episcopal ordination, and, thus, are presumed to have incurred the excommunication, unless the contrary is proved,” the congregation stated in a decree made public by Fides news service on July 12.
In the same document, the congregation made it clear that Father Paul Lei Shiyin, consecrated as a bishop in the illicit June 29 ceremony, “has already incurred the latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication, which is further 'declared' publicly by the Holy See.”
The congregation stressed that both Fr. Lei Shiyin, and the bishops involved in his consecration, must seek reconciliation with the Vatican
Canon law requires the participating bishops “to immediately approach the Holy See for forgiveness and to explain reasons for which they have participated in the illegitimate episcopal ordination and wait for the reply from the Holy See.”
In the meantime, they are forbidden to celebrate Mass, administer or receive other sacraments, or hold any Church office. The congregation also informed Catholics of their duty not to receive sacraments from these individuals – except in a case of immediate need, such as impending death – or do anything else that would give the appearance of legitimacy to an illicit ministry.
This step is necessary “not because the priests and faithful are in a position to judge the conscience of the bishop in question, but because the 'presumed imputability' is not yet removed.”
Catholics who were previously under such a bishop's authority “are very much encouraged to pray for him and to remind him, when needed, of the teaching of the Church.” They should also “keep him away from celebrating all forms of liturgy or Ecclesial ceremony, and to suspend the liturgy or ceremony, in case he does not observe the prohibition.”
It may be possible for the participating bishops, who were previously in communion with the Pope and accepted as the legitimate leaders of their dioceses, to resume their ministry as bishops if they are reconciled with the Pope. For Fr. Lei Shiyin, however, such an outcome is a virtual impossibility.
The Vatican, while not denying the validity of his ordination, continues to refer to Fr. Lei Shiyin as a priest and not as a bishop. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples stressed that he could be reconciled to Rome, but should not expect to be regarded as a legitimate bishop if a reconciliation takes place.
“The removal of excommunication is one thing; and the episcopal appointment is another. These two things are distinct,” the congregation pointed out. “The Holy See has so far expressed that for some serious reasons Fr. Lei cannot be appointed bishop.”
Excommunication, the congregation noted, is a “'medicinal' penalty” meant to evoke a response of repentance. Although his actions may have cut him off from the Church's sacramental source of life, the excommunicated person “still remains a member of the Church – the mystical body of Christ.”
“That is why he can still approach the Holy See, which is the only place he can go for reconciliation.”
Bishop Fang Xinyao, president of the government-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, was the main celebrant for the June 29 ordination. Bishop Xinyao had previously been received into communion with the Pope and was considered a legitimate Catholic bishop.
Officials at the Patriotic Association announced on June 23 that they are looking to ordain as many as 40 new bishops without Vatican approval.
Another such ordination occurred on July 14, two days after Fides published the evangelization congregation's decree. Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lomardi called the most recent illicit ordination “very negative for the unity of the Church,” and noted that “the position of the Holy See on this matter has been made clear in recent months.”
Denver, Colo., Jul 14, 2011 (CNA) - The pro-life advocacy group Heroic Media has launched an online site featuring breaking news on life issues such as abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.
“In a culture so focused on the destruction of and reorganization of life and of the family, it is critically important to have a focused, uncensored outlet,” Heroic News editor Jennifer Uebbing told CNA.
“There is, quite simply, no other media outlet online doing what we're doing.”
The website, heroicnews.org, was launched in June and provides news from around the world related to what Uebbing called the “non negotiable” issues being debated by society: abortion and contraception, euthanasia, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research and gay “marriage.”
“So much of the mainstream media coverage is deliberately slanted and politically or ideologically driven, it's difficult for readers to tease out the real meaning of it all,” Uebbing observed. That reality makes it “all the more important to reach people with the truth,” she said.
Heroic Media founder Brian Follett said the news initiative makes sense given the mission of the group.
“Heroic Media has always had two goals: to provide women facing unexpected pregnancies with hopeful alternatives through mass media advertising and to create a Culture of Life,” he said. “With Heroic News, we can directly engage in the culture-building work of shaping the news environment.”
A Spanish version of the site called Noticias Heroicas has also been launched, and editor Alejandro Lostaunau said he's “humbled” to provide this service to pro-life and family organizations.
Alejandro Bermudez, Heroic Media board member and the executive director of CNA, noted that if “mass media didn’t impact the way people think and act, why would so many corporations and governments use it? We are shaping culture.”
Although the site is primarily focused on providing news, the group's Facebook page has attracted thousands of new page views since its launch last month, Uebbing said.
“The news has gone viral, so to speak, and the more eyes we can get on HeroicNews.org, the better.”
“Pope Benedict recently spoke about the responsibility to harness the power of social media for good, for the spread of the Gospel,” she added. “That is why Heroic exists – to proclaim the truth to a troubled world in need of a good, healthy dose of reality.”