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Archive of July 18, 2011

Protestors in Mexico call for new bishop

Saltillo, Mexico, Jul 18, 2011 (CNA) - An unidentified group of people hung blankets on the railing that surrounds the Cathedral of Saltillo, Mexico with a message for Bishop Raul Vera Lopez: “We want a Catholic bishop.”

Employees at the Cathedral of Saltillo said they do not know who hung up the blankets or who took them down. “We don’t have them, and nobody here took them down,” said one employee.

According to the Mexican daily Vanguardia, the bishop chose not to respond to the July 12 protests against his leadership in the Diocese of Saltillo, where he has promoted and supported the San Elredo homosexual community, despite its positions that are at odds with Church teaching on homosexuality.

The diocese’s office of communications said Bishop Vega may issue a statement once he has been fully informed of the incident. 

In June of this year, Noe Ruiz, the coordinator of San Elredo, said the group planned to ask newly elected local officials in the State of Coahuila to establish policies that respect homosexuals.

Ruiz added that his group planned to propose that same-sex couples be allowed to adopt and receive social security benefits, and that civil unions between them be called “marriage.”

The Diocese of Saltillo

In March of this year, Bishop Vera published a statement on the diocesan website expressing support for the “sexual, family and religious diversity forum.” The event was aimed at “eradicating what some sectors of the Church believe about homosexuality” — especially the belief “that homosexual actions are contrary to God.”

Ruiz told CNA the purpose of the forum was to show that “two men or two women can raise a child and live normally like everyone else.” 

Pro-family groups in Saltillo, such as the Familias Mundi Association, disagreed with that argument. “We do not agree with forming same-sex families because families come from marriage, and marriage is a vocation that occurs between two people of the opposite sex who complement one another.”

CNA also interviewed Fr. Leopoldo Sanchez, who until a few months ago was the spiritual director for Courage Latino in Mexico, a ministry for homosexuals who wish to live according to the Church’s teachings.

“The Church reminds us that the right path is the path of love, a love that is lived in chastity, and absolutely all Christians are called to this, regardless of whether they have same-sex attraction or not,” he said.

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Pope will appoint Archbishop Chaput to lead Philadelphia archdiocese

Vatican City, Jul 18, 2011 (CNA) -

A Vatican source has confirmed that on July 19 Pope Benedict XVI will appoint Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver as the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Several news outlets reported on July 18 that Archbishop Chaput will lead the Philadelphia archdiocese, beginning this coming September.

Archbishop Chaput’s appointment was confirmed to CNA late on Monday by a Vatican source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

On June 30, the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops picked the name of a potential Philadelphia archbishop from a list of three candidates – known as a “terna” – to recommend to Pope Benedict.

After praying over the issue during the Fourth of July weekend, according to the source, Pope Benedict decided to choose Archbishop Chaput for the post.

The Denver archbishop is no stranger to Pope Benedict, since he spent  time working with Archbishop Chaput during the apostolic visitation of the Legion of Christ between 2009 and 2010. Archbishop Chaput also led the visitation of Bishop Bill Morris in the Diocese of Toowomba, Australia in 2007.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, who has lead the Philadelphia archdiocese since 2003, submitted his resignation on April 19, 2010 when he reached the retirement age of 75. That resignation is expected to be accepted by Pope Benedict tomorrow.

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Laity invited to participate in Mexican exorcism congress

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 18, 2011 (CNA) - The fifth National Congress of Exorcists will be held during September and October in Mexico City.

The purpose of the congress is “to learn about the experiences that psychiatrists and mental health care specialists have had in accompanying exorcists in the exercising of this ministry,”explained Father Pedro Mendoza Pantoja, the general coordinator of exorcists for the Archdiocese of Mexico City.

The theme of the congress will be the healing and liberation of the sick.

The event is intended for exorcist and non-exorcist priests and lay people interested in helping their priests in the ministry of healing, Fr. Mendoza explained.

Among those speaking at the congress will be Italian exorcists, Fr. Gabrielle Nanni and Fr. Sante Babolin. 

Fr. Nanni spoke earlier this year at a course in Rome on exorcism and Satanism sponsored by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Congregation for the Clergy. Fr. Babolin spoke at the sixth Meeting on Formation for Exorcists in Sicily.

The program for the congress includes talks on the predisposition and vulnerability to psychiatric disorders in individuals; the physical and environmental causes that contribute to anxiety in the soul; as well as on how to distinguish schizophrenic disorders from other kinds of disorders.

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Irish priests will refuse to break seal of confession if proposal becomes law

Dublin, Ireland, Jul 18, 2011 (CNA) - Catholic priests in Ireland are prepared to “strongly” resist a proposed law that would require them to disclose information learned in confession.

“More than any other issue, it is probably the one that will unite both the liberal and conservative wings of the Church,” said Father Tony Flannery, a priest with the Association of Catholic Priests, in a July 18 e-mail to CNA.

“If even one exception was made to the seal of Confession, then the whole Sacrament would collapse,” he stated. “The truth of faith that this Sacrament is meant to convey is central to Christian teaching.”

The legislation, proposed by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, would put priests in jail for up to five years if they failed to tell authorities about sexual abuse crimes disclosed during confession.

Fr. Flannery said that the Association of Catholic Priests has not taken the proposed law very seriously, because it is simply not “workable.”

“When a person confesses in the confessional box, the priest would not normally know who they are, or indeed be able to see them,” he explained. “So how is he to report them?”

It is also “unlikely” that a person involved in abuse would go to confession, Fr. Flannery pointed out.

“In my forty years of priesthood, I don't ever remember someone confessing that they were currently abusing someone,” he said.

He noted that the prime minister’s bill also fails to address implications for other professions, and things that are said in other privileged situations of confidentiality.

It also opens the door for other crimes becoming exceptions, requiring further breaches of the confessional seal.

“Why make this one the only crime to be reported?” Fr. Flannery wondered.

The priest contends the proposed law is a “total over-reaction” to the recently released Cloyne Report, a study that found the Diocese of Cloyne failed to report nine cases of sexual abuse between the years 1996 and 2005.

Fr. Flannery predicted lawmakers would be “more calm and reasoned about all this” after a few months have passed.

But he made clear that “if this does come to law - which I do not expect - priests will resist it strongly.”

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Vatican seals diplomatic ties with Malaysia

Vatican City, Jul 18, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Vatican cemented a diplomatic relationship with Malaysia on Monday, as Christians within the majority Muslim country help push for governmental reform and call for recognition.

On July 18, Pope Benedict met with Prime Minister Najib Bin Abdul Razak in the second-ever meeting between a Pope and a Malaysian head of state.

At Pope Benedict's summer residence in Castel Gandalfo, the two discussed the political and social climate in Asia and the importance of promoting inter-religious dialogue. They also reached an agreement on establishing a formal relationship between the Vatican and Malaysia, which was one of fewer than 20 countries that do not have official ties with the Holy See.

While Malaysian Christians have played a role in recent demonstrations calling for electoral reform, they also have concerns about persecution and religious discrimination. Catholics and other Christians account for only 10 percent of the country's population of 28 million. Additionally, Islam is both the state religion and the faith with the largest number of adherents in the country. 

In March of this year, Malaysian officials agreed to release 35,000 Bibles that were seized over a heated dispute on non-Muslims being allowed to use the word “Allah” for God.

The decision on March 15 by the government was considered a significant move to quell frustration among Malaysian Christians, as a court case continues on whether non-Muslims have the constitutional right to use the word.

The Herald – Malaysia's sole Catholic publication – was prosecuted in 2010 by the Malaysian Home Ministry and threatened with the loss of its printing license for its use of “Allah” in describing the Christian God in its Malay-language section.

The Herald argued that use of the term follows a centuries-old tradition within the Arabic language that pre-dates Islam, while the Home Ministry claimed that its usage outside the Muslim context was an affront to Muslims.

Last June the Malaysian High Court suspended a ruling that would have allowed The Herald to use the word “Allah” in a non-Muslim context. The decision came after an appeal was made by prosecutors trying to overturn the ruling.

Although the court had initially approval of the paper's usage of the word in January, hundreds of Muslim youth protested, and The Herald's website was hacked several times.

Extremist groups in Malaysia also attacked and desecrated places of worship of several religions to provoke a reaction at the time. Vandals targeted 11 churches, a Sikh temple, a mosque and two Muslim prayer rooms in January 2010.

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