Archive of July 26, 2011

World Youth Day organizers say Michael Voris catechesis not approved

Madrid, Spain, Jul 26, 2011 (CNA) -

World Youth Day organizers said July 25 that the independent catechesis sessions offered by U.S.-based media producer Michael Voris during World Youth Day 2011 are not approved by the event. Voris responded with puzzlement that the announcement was made, stating that his organization has never represented itself as linked to the event.

“Participants in the World Youth Day 2011 Cultural Program must be recognized and endorsed by the bishops and episcopal conferences of their respective countries,” read a July 25 statement from the event’s organizers.

There had been “some confusion” about Voris’ affiliation with World Youth Day, organizers said, further noting that “Real Catholic TV” and Michael Voris’ catechetical session “No Bull in Madrid” have not received endorsements from the group’s local bishop—Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit—or  the U.S. bishops’ conference.

They are “not in any way recognized or approved” by the official event. The Pontifical Council for the Laity selects and invites only bishops from around the world to conduct catechesis sessions at World Youth Day, the statement explained.

Participating organizations in the World Youth Day 2011 Cultural Festival are selected because they “promote the authentic teaching and unity” of the Catholic Church and have received the required endorsements.

Voris questioned why the announcement about his event had been made.

“We never said we were part of the official World Youth Day. I guess I’m puzzled as to why the announcement was issued,” he said in a July 25 interview with CNA.

He described himself as “a Catholic in good standing” with a theology degree from the Angelicum in Rome.

“Nothing that we have ever said has been challenged with regard to Church teaching,” he said.

Voris’ videos are often strident in tone, criticizing leading political, cultural and Church figures. One recent video criticized the Knights of Columbus’ national leadership for alleged inaction towards politicians who are pro-abortion rights and support “gay marriage,” and for an excessive focus on financial concerns.

He has also praised the institution of Catholic monarchy as a “benevolent dictatorship” and criticized democracy, saying the vote should be limited to those who are faithful Catholics.

In April two of his speaking events in the Diocese of Scranton were canceled on the grounds that his statements “certainly can be interpreted as being insensitive to people of other faiths,” the diocese said, without specifying the statements involved.

“I understand that some people don’t like the style,” Voris said, observing that this criticism can apply to any person.

“We’re just faithful Catholics who want to add to the voice of the Church and amplify the voice of the Church.”

Voris wondered if there was “something else at work,” since he has not seen any signs of confusion about his organization’s lack of affiliation with World Youth Day. The media producer added that he is willing to discuss his event with organizers.

The event in Madrid will address “hot-button topics” related to sex, Voris explained.

He said the “No Bull in Madrid” event is being held during World Youth Day because that is where there are large numbers of Catholic youth who are affected by today's over-sexed culture. Two late evening sessions will be held August 17 and 19 at the Melia Castilla Hotel and Convention Center.

He reported that a priest helping Real Catholic TV had contacted World Youth Day organizers several months ago to see how they could sign up to be a participant. The inquiry never advanced to the stage of seeking episcopal approval because there was no space for new groups.

Asked about his organization’s relationship to his local bishop, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Voris said he does not know what the relationship is because he has not been able to meet with him.

Voris said he has personally made six attempts to schedule a meeting with him. So far he has been unable to meet with the archbishop, which he blamed on interference from archdiocesan "bureaucracy."

In February 2011, Archdiocese of Detroit director of communications Ned McGrath said that the Real Catholic TV enterprise had yet to present itself or receive approval of its apostolate and programming from the archdiocese.

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Author laments Chinese response to recent excommunications

Beijing, China, Jul 26, 2011 (CNA) - An expert on Chinese Christianity says the country's religious authorities are threatening the Catholic Church's basic identity by defying a series of excommunications and planning more illicit ordinations.

“All this is the independent, prideful nationalism of China, which many Chinese people can easily fall into – even Catholic bishops, I suppose,” said Dr. Nathan Faries, author of “The 'Inscrutably Chinese' Church” and a professor of English at the University of Dubuque.

China's State Administration for Religious Affairs rebuked the Vatican on July 25, calling the “so-called excommunication” of two unapproved bishops “unreasonable and rude.” A bureau spokesperson told the Vatican to withdraw the penalties, saying Chinese Catholics would travel “the path of ‘independent, autonomous and self-governing’ Church principle and ‘self-election and self-ordination’ of bishops.”

“I hear a lot of the Communist Party, a lot of the State Administration for Religious Affairs in those words, and not a lot of faithful Catholicism,” Faries told CNA recently. “When you take this to the logical conclusion, it ceases to be Catholicism.”

The state agency issued its comments three days after China's state-backed Catholic Patriotic Association announced plans to ordain seven more bishops without papal approval – adding to the three ordinations that have taken place without the papal mandate since November 2010.

Faries, a convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, is deeply concerned about the breakdown in relations between Beijing and the Holy See after a period of improvement. His book on Chinese Christianity came about through his experience traveling, teaching, and living in the country, where he found many “very faithful clergy” in both underground and state-approved settings.

“I believe there is a lot of solid, faithful Catholicism in the Chinese Church,” Faries said. “I hope it is the norm, even at the level of these bishops who seem to be acting directly against Vatican orders. I begin to doubt their obedience and loyalty at some point, but I would hope, and have to believe, that the numbers of 'opportunists' in the Chinese hierarchy are relatively small.”

Faries doesn't excuse the actions of the bishops who participated in the forbidden ordinations. “Unambiguously, the Church is right,” he noted. “The Vatican needs to lay down its rules, and needs to control what goes on.”

But Faries also stressed the importance of understanding the difficult position of officially-registered Chinese clergy, whose motivations may be quite complex. He doesn't see the ordinations as a simple case of “Communists saying what to do, and Catholics have to go along with it out of fear of jail.”

“They might go to the ordination of their free will, trying to be the middleman between government wishes and the Vatican. They hope in the long run, all this works out okay.”

Most of the official clergy, he thinks, deserve “the benefit of the doubt.” But he acknowledged that “people trying to do good things can do very wrong things.”

“I think Catholic clergy are usually people of good will, trying to do what's best for the Church and for their people in China – and walking a line of defiance that is dangerous, but that they hope will come through, so they won't be excommunicated and out of the Church.”

In some ways, Faries observed, the situation may be “similar to a lot of Catholic dissent around the world,” in situations where “people want to be Catholic, but they also have a kind of 'independent' spirit.”

Some of the penalized Chinese clergy – like other Catholics who believe that the Church may eventually reverse its position on fundamental moral issues – may be “hoping is that in the future the Church is going to change in their direction, and they're going to be able to outlast the current situation” in which they face excommunication for their actions.

They may also be looking back to the large number of state-recognized bishops who were accepted into communion with the Holy See during the 1970s and 80s – and assuming that a penalty of excommunication in 2011 might be similarly resolved in the future. 

“If the Vatican sometimes does give those kind of mixed messages, that they'll bring these non-approved ordinations around into becoming approved, then that can give a message to the Chinese clergy that in the long run we're going to be approved, it's going to be okay, and this is what's best for the Church.”

“That seems to be the more complex situation that is going on, on the ground, that doesn't always come out in our Western consciousness.”

The situation also brings up some of the most acute tensions between faith and national identity, for individuals and the Chinese Church as a whole.

“Chinese nationalism is as strong as, or stronger than, our U.S. nationalism,” Faries observed. “That can be a danger for any Christian. They might feel that they can be safely independent in some ways, have independent opinions – and can, perhaps unintentionally and temporarily, buck the Vatican, and have confidence that it's going to be okay.”

Some of that confidence might come from recalling that “it's been okay in the past” to be illicitly ordained, and later regularized in accordance with Rome's more merciful previous approach.

Other may be similarly confident simply because they believe “China's 'just too important,' and supposedly the Vatican eventually will come around to helping their Church in the way they think it should.” It's a kind of independence Faries says “can be destructive or dangerous to Catholicism.”

Still, he remains hopeful that Chinese Catholics' strong sense of cultural and national identity can benefit the universal Church in the long run.

“Once it's blended back in with some sort of relationship with the Vatican, as in the late 70s and 80s,” he said, “you perhaps have a healthy mix of national, Catholic and Christian identity, that can do interesting and important things theologically and for the nation.”

“When the Holy Father speaks to China,” he pointed out, “he seems so excited about what that group of group of people can bring to the faith.”

Faries notes that many people are coming to faith quite sincerely in the official churches, while the communist government has shifted away from the Marxist notion that religion will someday die out. But he sees little indication of any drastic change, even if Beijing and the Vatican resolve their current problems.

“There's a lot of hope, for some people – for the Catholics, that they might get their 'Emperor Constantine' there in China, that would change things around,” he recalled.

“I really feel like it's a slower thing than that.”

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US papal nuncio on ventilator after surgery complications

Washington D.C., Jul 26, 2011 (CNA) -

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Pope’s diplomatic representative to the U.S., has been placed on a ventilator following  “delicate lung surgery” two weeks ago, the nunciature in Washington, D.C. announced July 22.

The nunciature cited “post-surgery complications,” in the announcement, adding that the 73 year-old archbishop has been placed on assisted ventilation “to attempt recovery of his lung function.”

Don Clemmer, assistant director of media relations at the U.S. bishops' conference, told CNA on July 25 that the nunciature's statement is the only one being released on the archbishop's condition at this time.

The nunciature, along with Archbishop Sambi's family, asked “Bishops, priests, religious, and lay faithful” to offer “sacrifices and prayers” for the nuncio's recovery.

Archbishop Sambi – widely regarded as one of the Vatican’s top diplomats – was appointed by Pope Benedict in 2005 as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. He began his duties in Washington, D.C. in February of 2006.

The archbishop was born in the northern Italian town of Sogliano sul Rubicone in 1938, and was ordained a priest on March 14, 1964, for the Diocese of Montefeltro. Archbishop Sambi is fluent in English, Spanish, and French, and also holds doctorate degrees in Theology and Canon Law.

He joined the Vatican diplomatic service in 1969 and served in the nunciatures or apostolic delegations to Cameroon, Jerusalem, Cuba, Algeria, Nicaragua, Belgium, and India.

In 1991 he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Indonesia and in 1998 was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine.

During his difficult tenure as Nuncio in Israel, Archbishop Sambi pushed for safeguards on freedom of religion, equality for monotheistic religions, and increased access to and worship in the holy places.

Both Jews and Palestinians acknowledged him as an uncompromising voice for peace, and as scrupulously fair with both sides.

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Spanish archbishop calls for conversion to overcome crisis

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Jul 26, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Archbishop Julian Barrio of Santiago de Compostela, Spain recently explained that an “attitude of conversion” is needed to “find the elements necessary for overcoming the crisis” that society faces.

The archbishop drew attention to “those most affected by the crisis” and to those who have been victims of terrorism. He offered prayers for all political leaders and “for all those who are making their best effort” to “respond to the demands of the common good and to build a better society.”

The archbishop spoke during his homily on July 25, the feast of St. James the Apostle.
He also encouraged families to devote themselves to the “noble task of teaching the youngest generations and encouraging them to build a society in which moral and spiritual principles are practiced and the sacred respect for the person is guaranteed.”
The role of God has “disappeared”
“We must obey God before men,” the archbishop continued. He criticized “today’s culture” in which “human autonomy has become the greatest value, progress has replaced providence and the role of God, in large measure, has disappeared from consciences.”
“God will never deprive man of his freedom,” he said, even though “acting with a purpose that is contrary to the good of his human nature is not true freedom, as freedom orders him toward the good.”

Any law that contradicts the truth about man and not only fails to recognize his fundamental rights, but even tramples upon them, the archbishop concluded.

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Pope remembers Cardinal Noe’s diligent work

Vatican City, Jul 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Virgilio Noe, archpriest emeritus of the Vatican Basilica, former vicar general for Vatican City, and president of the Fabric of St. Peter, died on July 24 at the age of 89.

Pope Benedict XVI sent a telegram of condolence to the cardinal’s sister, Maria Noe, mourning the man.

“In everything he did he provided highly-valued testimony of fervent priestly zeal and faithfulness to the Gospel,” the Pope wrote.

He called the cardinal “a diligent collaborator of the Holy See, particularly in the Office of Liturgical Celebrations.”

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, presided at a funeral Mass for Cardinal Noe at the altar of the Cathedra in the St. Peter’s Basilica on July 26.

A number of cardinals, archbishops and bishops concelebrated the Mass.

Cardinal Noe formerly headed the Fabric of St. Peter, the office which oversees the physical upkeep of St. Peter’s Basilica. The office also cares for the Vatican’s artistic treasures.

He was named master of pontifical ceremonies under Pope Paul VI in 1970. Pope John Paul II made him a cardinal in 1991.

Cardinal Noe was born on March 30, 1922 in Zelata di Bereguardo in the Diocese of Pavia in Lombardy. He was ordained a priest on October 11, 1944 and created a youth movement centered especially on participation in the liturgy, according to his official Vatican biography.

He also taught ecclesiastical history, patristics, liturgy, and the history of the arts in the seminaries of Pavia and Tortona.

He later served as a leading official in the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship.

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Mexican archbishop calls for greater modesty at Mass

Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 26, 2011 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Leon, Mexico is calling on Catholics to dress modestly at Mass.

“If you have any respect for this place (a church), dress appropriately,” Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago told reporters after Mass on July 24.

Criticism of the archbishop’s comments came after local newspapers featured photos of posters at some parishes in Leon that said, “Respect God’s house. Don’t come dressed like this.” The posters said women should not come to church dressed in miniskirts, sleeveless shirts, or low-cut blouses.

According to the newspaper Correo, the archbishop said women ought to know what they should wear and when. 

“They know that for a wedding or a quinceanera they should dress one way, and for a trip to the beach they should dress another.” 

The archbishop also said men need to dress appropriately at Mass as well. “Some men show up at church dressed in way that is undignified, wearing shorts or sandals. The place they are in requires something else,” he said.

Archbishop Martin Rabago said the media should not focus exclusively on what the Catholic Church says about how people should dress, as many evangelical churches require their congregations to come to church in a suit and tie.

He dismissed charges that his comments were misogynistic. 

“This is not a misogynist attitude of any sort. I am simply asking for the dignity and decorum that this place calls for, that is all.”

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Peruvian cardinal: Life and the family must be protected

Lima, Peru, Jul 26, 2011 (CNA) - Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima, Peru has issued a special call to protect human life and the family from the threats of abortion and same-sex marriage.
He denounced the “foreign” agenda of abortion, euthanasia and gender ideology. “I don’t want that agenda to destroy the Peruvian family. I would like our agenda to be one that respects life from conception, one that respects the family consisting of a man and a woman, and the stability of the family. We should not be so concerned about these other side issues,” he said, during his radio program, Dialogue of Faith.
Cardinal Cipriani said families deserve to live in an atmosphere of respect for human dignity and that more attention should be paid to the formation of a moral conscience, as Peru’s President-elect, Ollanta Humala, prepares to take office on July 28.
“I am worried about the family, the education of children and morality,” the cardinal continued. “Salary increases, contract renewals and GDP growth are all fine, but the human being is not a consumption machine. He is a being that loves, and the great motivating factor for working is to provide for his family,” he stated.
“We can’t be turning out kids who get involved in drugs or gangs because of poor education, nor can we lead young people to think that everything is just fun and games, booze, careers and sex,” he said.
Cardinal Cipriani encouraged parents to provide a decent education for their children and to help them avoid falling into drugs and violence. “All these issues are linked,” he said.
The Peruvian cardinal also thanked outgoing President Alan Garcia for his five years of service to the country.
“Above and beyond the polls, I think an important era is coming to an end.  The relationship with the Church has been one of respect. The relationship with the country has been one of improvement and growth.” He added that there is always work to be done, but warned against focusing only on the negative.

Cardinal Cipriani also offered his best wishes to the new administration and his hopes that it would “promote unity, peace, order and moral growth.”
“My best wishes and prayers of thanksgiving to Dr. Alan Garcia and that the Lord enlighten and strengthen Mr. Ollanta Humala.  The Church never sides with any government, but at the same time she hopes that the Peruvian family will maintain its Christian roots and that development will take place in the area of morality as well,” he said.

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