Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Holy Father’s diplomatic representative to the U.S., died in the evening on Wednesday, July 27. The nuncio was at a Baltimore hospital, where he was on a ventilator because of complications from a lung surgery performed two weeks ago.
On Monday, the nunciature, along with Archbishop Sambi's family, who traveled to Baltimore from Italy after Archbishop Sambi’s condition worsened, asked “Bishops, priests, religious, and lay faithful” to offer “sacrifices and prayers” for his recovery.
Archbishop Sambi 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 was fluent in English, Spanish, and French, and held 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, andIndia.
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.
Recently, Vatican experts pointed to Archbishop Sambi as a strong candidate for a senior position at the Vatican.
Archbishop Pietro Sambi’s funeral will be at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, August 6th – the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, at 2:00 p.m.
The funeral will be televised live by EWTN.
Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The U.S. Catholic bishops have offered their prayers and “deepest condolences” to the people of Norway in the aftermath of the bombing and mass murder spree which killed dozens.
“The assault on government buildings in Oslo and a neighboring youth camp reminds us again of the fragility of life and the challenge to overcome evil in its many forms,” Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York said in a July 26 letter to Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, who heads the Scandinavian Episcopal Conference, and Bishop Bernt Ivar Eidsvig of Oslo.
“The almost unfathomable tragedy and the deaths of so many innocent people touch the hearts of people all around the world and call us to special prayer for the victims, their families and the people of Norway especially,” said Archbishop Dolan, who heads the U.S. bishops’ conference.
The July 22 attacks began when Anders Behring Breivik, by his own admission, detonated a car bomb at the government headquarters in downtown Oslo.
Hours later Breivik appeared at a youth camp for the children of the Labour Party on Utoya Island and, dressed as a policeman, began a shooting spree. The police said that 68 people were killed in the twin attacks.
The attacker claimed he was trying to save the Western world from Muslim colonization. Before the attacks, he released a 1,500-page manifesto in which he criticized the governing Labour Party for allowing Muslims to immigrate to Norway.
Archbishop Dolan called the attacks a “moment of terrible sadness” and voiced “particular solidarity” with the Scandinavian bishops.
“We pray that you may experience God’s grace as you console your people at this moment of intense pain and outrage,” he continued.
“We join with the church in Scandinavia in working towards peace in our society … we ask God’s guidance and inspiration and gift of peace at this troubled time.”
Pope Benedict XVI on July 24 said the attacks caused him deep sorrow and left him grief-stricken. He called on everyone to “abandon forever the path of hatred and escape from the logic of evil.” He also offered his prayers for the victims and their families.
Rome, Italy, Jul 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
An extensive online book written by Anders Behring Breivik criticizes Pope Benedict XVI for defending the rights of immigrants, especially Muslims.
In his manifesto, “2083—European Declaration of Independence,” Breivik calls Benedict XVI “God’s Rottweiler,” and accuses him of “embodying elements of the sensible and the silly Christian ways of treating the Islamic threat.
“Although Benedict has stressed the need for 'reciprocity' in Christian-Muslim relations and urged Islamic countries to ensure religious rights for Christian migrants, he has also said that Christians should continue welcoming Muslim immigrants with open arms,” Brievik wrote.
Breivik was arrested for detonating a car bomb at the government headquarters in downtown Oslo on July 22. That attack took the lives of eight people and injured many more.
Hours later he appeared at a youth camp for the children of the political Labour Party on Utoya Island. Dressed as a police officer, he began a shooting spree that killed 68.
Massimo Introvigne, a sociologist and representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, recently spoke with Vatican Radio and responded to reports labeling Breivik as a fundamentalist Christian.
Introvigne said it was ironic that Breivik’s book was posted online by a minister of the “Church of Satan,” which is legally recognized in Norway. He added that Breivik, who was baptized in the Lutheran Church of Norway, is not a fundamentalist Christian, but rather a ‘cultural Christian’ who uses the Christian heritage of Europe as a pretext for attacking Islam.”
The sociologist also pointed out that Breivik belongs to the Grand Masonic Lodge of Norway.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 27, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - The executive director of World Youth Day Madrid 2011, Yago de la Cierva, has explained that the event will not cost tax payers in Spain $75 million. He said that government assistance will only come in the form of permission to use public facilities.
De la Cierva said World Youth Day is covering the expenses associated with the event. In the case of public schools being used for various activities, he confirmed that World Youth Day workers and volunteers will be responsible for cleaning up both before and after the event.
He pointed out that government agencies will be drawing from their existing budgets to handle expenses associated with World Youth Day. In fact, the associate director for Tourism in Madrid, David Martin Vallesa, said World Youth Day would have “zero cost” for the city of Madrid, which has not allocated a special budget for the event.
The director of World Youth Day's press office, Marieta Jaureguizar, noted that the event is paying for itself through donations—which make up 30 percent of the budget—and sign-up fees—which constitute the remaining 70 percent.
The person responsible for handicapped services for the event underscored that a climate-controlled tent will be set up at Madrid’s central park at no cost thanks to a donation from the Adecco Foundation.
The Order of St. John of God, the International Federation for the Blind, and other organizations will provide services to those with disabilities at the tent to demonstrate how the Church cares for the handicapped and the infirm.
Springfield, Ill., Jul 27, 2011 (CNA) - The Diocese of Belleville announced July 26 that it will join three other Illinois dioceses in a lawsuit against the state, after its adoption and foster care programs face being shutdown over a recent civil unions law.
Gary Huelsmann, director of Catholic Social Services affiliated with the Belleville diocese, said on Tuesday that halting these programs goes against “the best interest of the many children we serve and will deny vital choices for foster parents and children.”
The Belleville diocese joins Catholic Charities groups from the dioceses of Springfield, Peoria, and Joliet in fighting the attempts of the Illinois Attorney General's Office and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to stop the charities' foster care and adoption programs.
Catholic Charities' dispute with the state centers on the recently-enacted Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act, which gave legal status to same-sex partnerships or unmarried opposite-sex couples.
The four dioceses maintain that their Catholic Charities offices remain free, under that law, to place foster children only with married couples and single individuals without live-in partners. In June 2011, Catholic Charities sued the state of Illinois, seeking to confirm its status as a foster care agency under the new legislation.
Illinois' Department of Children and Family Services had stated in a July 8 letter that it was ending its relationship with Catholic Charities in the dioceses over the Church ministries' alleged refusal to comply with the civil union law.
On July 12, Judge John Schmidt issued a preliminary injunction extending the foster care contract between Illinois and Catholic Charities, which the state refused to renew after it expired in June. The injunction ordered that business between the state and Catholic Charities should proceed as it did prior to the contract's expiration.
However, both the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press soon after reported that the state would be stopping referrals, despite the Judge Schmidt's contract extension.
Shortly before a July 18 hearing that would have tested the legality of the state's move, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan reversed course and agreed not to go forward with the plan to discontinue referrals to Catholic Charities, while continuing to pay the organization under its existing contract.
Catholic Charities will continue to provide foster care and adoption services until a hearing scheduled for August 17, which will decide the merits of the diocesan charities' complaint against the state.
In recent years, the Catholic Charities of Illinois have been ranked at or near the top when measured against the performance other comparable state agencies.
The four dioceses' adoption and foster care programs have over 2,000 children in placement with foster families as well as 1,933 families under their supervision.
Hue, Vietnam, Jul 27, 2011 (CNA) - Authorities re-arrested Father Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, one of Vietnam's most outspoken dissidents, at a home for retired priests on July 25.
“We heard that at 2:30 p.m. police cars and an ambulance arrived at Nha Chung to arrest Priest Ly,” said Fr. Phan Van Loi in an interview with Radio Free Asia.
In March 2010, authorities granted the 63-year-old priest one year of medical leave from an eight-year sentence to seek treatment for a brain tumor, according to the Bangkok Post.
BBC News has reported that Fr. Ly's medical condition at the time of this week's arrest was unclear.
The priest is known for his peaceful protest of the communist state and its violations of human rights. He is a founding member of Bloc 8406 – the first well-organized pro-democracy group in his country, where many Catholics suffer because of communism.
In 2007 he stood trial for spreading anti-communist propaganda, and received a sentence of eight years in prison and five years of house arrest. The 2007 trial made headlines when Fr. Ly was forcibly muzzled after beginning to recite an anti-communist poem in court.
The government suspended Fr. Ly's prison sentence in 2009, following pressure from a group of 37 U.S. senators to release the priest after he suffered multiple strokes in jail.
The senators called Fr. Ly's trial “seriously flawed” in their 2009 letter, explaining that he was “denied access to counsel and precluded from presenting a defense” during the four-hour proceeding.
Fr. Ly has spent a combined total of more than 15 years in prison since 1977.
Although Vietnam's constitution provides for freedom of belief and religion, that constitutional right continues “to be subject to uneven interpretation and protection,” according to the U.S. State Department's 2010 International Religious Freedom Report.
Catholics account for seven percent of Vietnam's population. Along with other religious minorities, they have faced beatings, church raids, arrests and death for activities thought to challenge the authority of the government.
The question of property rights has been particularly contentious since 1975. In that year, the government began seizing Church properties, including schools and hospitals, and incorporating them into the state system. Although the government has returned some of the property, most ownership disputes remain unresolved.
In July 2009, Vietnam's government seized and demolished a Redemptorist monastery after ignoring years of petitions by the order. In May 2010, thousands of Catholics gathered to celebrate Mass on the site of a church that the government converted to a war memorial in 1996. Six Catholics were arrested in 2010 for protesting the government's development of a cemetery into an ecotourism resort.
Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2011 (CNA) - A new survey suggests that “large majorities” of Americans favor several types of abortion restrictions, including waiting periods, parental notification and informed consent laws. However, they are less likely to support a ban on federal funds for abortion providers or opt-out laws for pro-life pharmacists and health providers.
“We have known for some time that the American public is supportive of restrictions and understand that those restrictions are necessary to protect women and the unborn,” said Mailee Smith, staff counsel for Americans United for Life.
It was “affirming and encouraging” that Americans support some of the restrictions, she added.
A July Gallup survey of 1,020 U.S. adults asked their opinions of several abortion laws.
Eighty-seven percent favored requiring doctors to inform patients about possible risks of abortion before performing the procedure, while 71 percent favored requiring parental consent for women under 18 for any abortion. Sixty-nine percent favored a 24-hour waiting period before a woman has an abortion, while 64 percent favored a ban on “partial birth abortion,” except to save the life of the mother.
However, only 50 percent favored requiring that a woman be shown an ultrasound image of her unborn child at least 24 hours before an abortion. Fifty-one percent opposed a law allowing pharmacists and health providers to decline providing medicine or surgical procedures that result in abortion, while 57 percent opposed a prohibition on federal funds for health clinics that provide abortion services.
Smith said it was “a little discouraging” that a majority of respondents do not support conscience protections and bans on federal funding for abortion providers. She suggested more education efforts are needed in those areas.
“There is a lot of mistaken understanding and misinformation about the so-called abortion rights in political and judicial circles. There is a misunderstanding of how harmful abortion is to the woman,” she continued.
“There tends to be a general belief that women need abortion in order to advance a career or have the type of life that they want to have, and that pregnancy takes away from that.”
“Study after study after study has demonstrated that not only the physical risks of having an abortion, but the psychological risks, and the consequences involved,” she said, citing the “substantial risk” of pre-term birth in a subsequent pregnancy of a woman who has had an abortion.
There are now more abortion restrictions than there were in 1973 when the Supreme Court imposed permissive abortion laws nationwide, Smith noted.
“Contrary to the time when Roe v. Wade was decided, now 31 states now have informed consent laws in place. Thirty-seven states have parental involvement laws in place, such as parental consent or parental notification,” she said. “Thirty-eight states have fetal homicide laws, which punish as a crime the homicide of an unborn child, separate from the abortion issue.”
“As states enact these laws, the rate of abortion goes down in these states,” Smith added, noting that the abortion rate declines between 13 to 25 percent in a state with parental involvement restrictions.
“We see that these restrictions are having a very positive effect on the number of women who are getting the proper facts before abortion and choosing to carry their children to term.”
Gallup found a significant partisan difference in respondents. Republicans were much more likely to favor restrictions on abortion, while independents were somewhat less likely to favor such laws. Democrats were most opposed to abortion restrictions.
“The partisan breakdown would not be unexpected,” Smith said.
However, she noted that some restrictions, even the partial-birth abortion ban, were supported by a majority of Democrats.
“If the general public, if the politicians, if Republicans and Democrats and independents, understood how harmful abortion is for women, there would be more support for abortion restrictions.”
Only 35 percent of respondents to a June Gallup survey said abortion should be illegal in the first three months of pregnancy, a figure which rose to 71 percent in the second three months of pregnancy and to 86 percent in the last three months, a June Gallup survey said.