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Archive of August 10, 2011

Don’t write off the US economy, says top Vatican banker

Rome, Italy, Aug 10, 2011 (CNA) -

The United States is not necessarily “a nation in decline or struck to the core” according to the head of the Vatican Bank.

“The United States remains the most technologically advanced country in the world, with the highest GDP, surpassing one and a half times that of Europe, four times that of China, and ten times that of Italy,” wrote Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, President of the Vatican Bank, in the Vatican’s newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

His Aug. 9 comments came in the middle of a week of global financial uncertainty due in large part to concerns over the U.S. economy. Last week the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s marked down the United States’ credit rating for the first time in its history amid fears over the U.S.’s ability to pay its debts.

“The fact that it has been declassified does not flatten it to the ground, but probably will cause it to be more humble and open to collaborating with Europe,” said Gotti Tedeschi.

In a long and distinguished career, 66-year-old Italian Gotti Tedeschi has held several high-profile posts in business, banking and academia. He has been the head of the Vatican Bank – or Institute for Works of Religion – since 2009.

He also suggested that economically talking-down the U.S. is just as misguided as over-hyping China’s growing economic power.

“The great Asian nation has a GDP not much higher than that of Germany alone and must confront a series of not-easy problems: absorbing severely reduced exportation, internal growth in consumption and the consequent rise of production costs, reduced competitiveness, risk of inflation.” 

In an attempt to find a solution to the present crisis Gotti Tedeschi proposed a global summit recognizing that all economies are currently in the same fiscal boat. 

“There are no longer countries that are exempt from the crisis or immune from the temptation of increasing public debt in order to resolve their problems. But attempts at individual solutions can aggravate the communal situation and favor speculation.”

This way, he said, can lead to a common approach to the unpalatable but unavoidable conclusion that “only a period of austerity, managed in a integral way, can be the real key for returning to growth.”

He concluded by outlining his particular strategy for new growth which is based upon encouraging family to save - and then invest part of those savings in small-to-medium size businesses.

“This strategy would guarantee new resources for investments which today banks and funds are not able to obtain; it would produce more aggressive programs of growth, reinforce employment and even offer greater guarantees to the banks for their financing.”

Finally, he suggested that governments that presently do not have permanent economic advisory boards, consisting of academics and industrialists, should now think of creating such a body.

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Human Life International announces new leadership

Front Royal, Va., Aug 10, 2011 (CNA) - Human Life International has named a new president and vice president of the organization after former leader Fr. Thomas Euteneuer resigned in 2010.  

The pro-life advocacy group announced on Aug. 8 that Louisiana priest Father Shenan Boquet will serve as president, with Fr. Peter West – a former Priests for Life associate director – serving as vice president for missions.

“After an extensive search in the U.S. and abroad, and much prayerful discernment, the board of directors is very pleased to announce that they have selected the team of Fr. Shenan Boquet and Fr. Peter West,” the organization said. 

The news comes after former president Fr. Thomas Euteneuer stepped down abruptly from his position last August over what would later surface as allegations of inappropriate conduct with an adult woman within the context of his exorcism ministry.

The group's Rome office head Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula temporarily led the organization after Fr. Euteneuer's resignation last year until Fr. Boquet was named president this week.

“Fr. Boquet brings a great breadth of leadership and pastoral experience and passion for the defense of life and family to the position as president,” board members said.

The group also praised Fr. West for his “long and distinguished record of advocacy for life and family both in parish life.”

“Both Fr. Boquet and Fr. West come to Human Life International with the full support of their respective bishops, and we are grateful to both bishops for allowing them to serve,” the organization wrote.

“We are confident that under the leadership of Fr. Boquet and the strategic guidance of Fr. West, Human Life International will continue to be the leading international pro-life organization.”

Both Fr. Boquet and Fr. West are slated to assume office on Sept. 1 of this year.

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Cardinal thanks World Youth Day volunteers, prays for good weather

Madrid, Spain, Aug 10, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, Spain expressed thanks to World Youth Day volunteers for their hard work and asked them to pray that it would not be “too hot” next week for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the city.
 
The cardinal made his remarks during a Aug. 9 Mass at the World Youth Day central office to welcome the thousands of international volunteers beginning to arrive in Madrid this week.
 
He told the 2,000 people in attendance he hoped it would not be “too hot” during the Pope’s visit so that everyone “can fully enjoy the event.”  He also thanked the young volunteers for their willingness to experience World Youth Day as an act of service toward others. 
 
During the Mass volunteers from numerous countries read excerpts of the Gospel in their own language and joined in the singing of hymns.
 
After the Mass, Cardinal Rouco visited with the more than 250 members of the event's staff.
 
Over the next several days, volunteers will be divided into small groups and stationed at specific areas throughout the city. Some 3,000 have been given first aid, evacuation and safety training. Young people in charge of helping those with disabilities have also received specialized training.
 
More than 28,500 volunteers will assist in World Youth Day from countries such as Poland, Italy, Mexico, France, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Slovakia, Croatia, Brazil, Portugal, the United States, Hungary, Argentina and Lithuania.

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Maryknoll order to dismiss priest who advocates women’s ordination

Columbus, Ga., Aug 10, 2011 (CNA) - The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers have notified Father Roy Bourgeois he will be dismissed from their order unless he renounces his “defiant stance” against Catholic teaching on the ordination of women.

Denver-based canon lawyer J.D. Flynn said the continuing disciplinary action against the excommunicated priest is about restoring justice and repairing scandal.

“The issue is that Fr. Bourgeois is in a position of public ministry in the Church. He is perceived to be speaking for the Church. When he says things which aren’t consistent with what we know to be true, it can lead people into sinfulness,” Flynn told CNA on Aug. 9.

“When the sacraments are simulated, we are all wounded by that,” he added. “All of us in the Church suffer when we lose clarity about the sacraments and run into error. No priest should be permitted to lead us into error.”

Flynn said the disciplinary action is “really about the Church trying to make clear that a person who is leading us into sinfulness is not acting as minister of the Church.”

Fr. Bourgeois is a human rights activist who founded the group SOA Watch which monitors the U.S. government’s training of military personnel in Latin America. He was excommunicated in 2008 for participating in an attempted ordination of a woman to the priesthood at a Unitarian church in Lexington, Ky.

Maryknoll superior general Fr. Edward M. Dougherty in a July 27 letter warned Fr. Bourgeois of his imminent dismissal on the grounds that he had shown “obstinate disobedience” to his superiors in violation of his oath about a “grave matter.” The letter also cited his “diffusion of teachings” opposed to the “definitive teaching of John Paul II and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church as well as the “grave scandal” he has caused to the people of God, to the Church, and to many Maryknoll priests and brothers.

The order gave the priest 15 days after receiving the letter to renounce publicly his stand on women’s ordination, or face dismissal.

Fr. Bourgeois’ Aug. 8 reply said that Catholic Church teaching “excludes women from the priesthood” and “defies both faith and reason and cannot stand up to scrutiny.” He said the teaching is “rooted in sexism,” which “like racism, is a sin.”

He said the instruction to recant is “telling me to lie and say I do not believe that God calls both men and women to the priesthood.”

“This I cannot do, therefore I will not recant,” he said.

Flynn defended Catholic teaching, explaining that the Catholic Church “holds definitively that ordination is reserved to men only.”

“This doesn’t mean that Catholic Church thinks that women are less, or that that they have less of a role in church. What that doctrine really means is that we believe that people are called to different roles in the Church, different kinds of vocations, but they are all equal in dignity. It’s St. Paul’s idea that there are many parts to the body.”

“Women are called to many different kinds of ministry and service in the church and in the world, and so are men, but just as a man couldn’t become a mother, which is perhaps the noblest vocation, a woman is unable to become a priest, deacon or bishop,” Flynn added.

The Catholic Church ordains only men “because Jesus ordained men,” he said. “We take seriously the idea that genders are different and have different roles to play in the Church.”

He said that Jesus had “great love for women,” but didn’t ordain even his revered mother Mary.

“In following that example, we believe it was the intention of Our Lord to recognize the distinction between fatherhood and motherhood, between masculinity and femininity, to create men as deacons, priests and bishops in the Church.”

Flynn suggested that American society in general rejects Catholic teaching on ordination because it confuses “equality in function with equality in dignity.”

“We believe that for people to be equal they have to be able to do all of the same things … We’ve done away with the idea that people can have different functions and yet be equal in dignity and be equal in love of the Lord.”
This results in the loss of the idea that some roles are reserved for women and some roles are for men.

Fr. Bourgeois’ case will proceed to the Vatican where he faces formal removal from the priesthood, a process known as laicization.

As an excommunicated priest, he cannot be a minister of the sacraments and his participation in the life of the Church is limited, Flynn explained.

However, he is still a member of the Maryknoll order until he is dismissed and he is still recognized as a priest under church law.

“The process of laicization removes him from the clerical state, to clarify that he has no ability to exercise ministry in the Church,” Flynn said.

Bourgeois’ excommunication was a “medicinal penalty” intended to evoke repentance.

“When that didn’t work, and only when that didn’t seem to work, and Father perdured, did the Church begin the formal process she’s using now, which is separating Father from the formal ministry of the Church,” Flynn told CNA.

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Mexican prelate files lawsuit in response to calls for a real 'Catholic bishop'

Saltillo, Mexico, Aug 10, 2011 (CNA) - Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, Mexico has filed a lawsuit against those responsible for hanging blankets on the railings surrounding the  city's cathedral painted with the message, “We want a Catholic bishop.”
 
According to the newspaper Zocalo, Bishop Vera filed a lawsuit in the Mexican state of Coahuila on Aug. 4 claiming he has been the target of “acts of intimidation.”
 
On July 5, the Diocese of Saltillo responded to the blanket protest with a statement titled, “The bishop’s activity is not outside the bounds of the Gospel,” and signed by the vicar general of the diocese, Father Gerardo Escareno.  The statement did not address Bishop Vera’s support for the San Elredo Community, which encourages the active homosexual lifestyle.
 
Several days ago Bishop Vera further stirred the controversy with statements he made in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com indicating his support for the decriminalization of abortion.
 
Bishop Vera is also the president of the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Center for Human Rights and the founder of the Fray Juan de Larios Diocesan Center for Human Rights. Both organizations support the repealing of pro-life legislation enacted throughout Mexico.

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Silence allows people to hear God, Pope says

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 10, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - We need to make time for silence in our lives if we are to pray and listen to God, said Pope Benedict XVI in his weekly general audience, August 10.

“Silence is the environment that best promotes recollection, listening to God, meditation,” he told pilgrims gathered at his summer residence in the hilltop town of Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles south of Rome.

“The very fact that a taste of silence leaves us, so to speak, to ‘fill’ the silence predisposes us to prayer.”

It is for this reason, noted the Pope, that monks and nuns have traditionally established their communities “in particularly beautiful places, in the countryside, in hills, in mountainous valleys, along lakes or seas, or even on small islands.”

“These sites combine two very important elements for the contemplative life: the beauty of creation, which refers to that of the Creator, and the silence guaranteed by their remoteness from the cities and highways of communication.”

The Pope charted the history of man’s quest for God – and God’s quest for man – conducted through silence and prayer.

From the Old Testament, he noted that God spoke to the prophet Elijah on Mount Sinai in “the gentle breeze” rather than through wind, earthquake or fire.

He then highlighted the thirteenth-century life of St. Clare of Assisi - whose feast day is tomorrow – observing how she created a community at San Damiano on the outskirts of Assisi, “living on prayer and small jobs.”
 
“God speaks in silence, but you need to know how to listen,” said the Pope. “For that, monasteries are oases in which God speaks to humanity; in them one finds the cloister, a symbolic place, because it is an enclosed space but open to the sky.”

Hence, when we are “looking at things from a spiritual perspective,” the spirit of monastic places actually provides the “backbone of the world!” he said.
 
Pope Benedict suggested it was “no coincidence” that so many people, especially during times of rest, choose to stay for a few days in convents or monasteries, since “the soul, thank God, has its own needs!”

The Pope then concluded his address by pointing to the Virgin Mary as the person who can best “teach us to love silence and prayer.” He finished the audience by leading pilgrims in the recitation of the Our Father and imparting his apostolic blessing.

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Beckhams' baby defended as benefit to humanity

London, England, Aug 10, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The recent birth of David and Victoria Beckham’s baby daughter, Harper Seven, is good news for the future of humanity, according to a population expert who teaches at the London School of Economics.

“Congratulations to David and Victoria! The arrival of a fourth Beckham baby is certainly great news for them – but it’s also good news for the economy and the future of the planet,” said Dr. Dermot Grenham in an Aug. 10 interview with CNA.

Dr. Grenham was responding to several leading figures in the population control movement who condemned the Beckhams for having another child.

“No sooner does a celebrity have three or four children than the doomsayers start complaining that they are giving a very bad example to the rest of us who might all start having more children.

“If only this were true,” lamented Dr. Grenham, whose latest book “On Population” will be released in January.

“Birth rates in richer countries are already below replacement level, in some countries well below, which means that sooner or later there will be a dwindling number of workers to support the elderly. What sort of society will that leave to our children?”

His comments contrast sharply with those from the likes of Simon Ross, chief executive of the U.K.-based Optimum Population Trust, who last month criticized the Beckhams as “very bad role models.” Ross added, “there’s no point in people trying to reduce their carbon emissions and then increasing them by 100% by having another child.”

Dr. Grenham, though, says the Beckhams are actually “very good role models,” as many countries around the world – and not just wealthy western states – are now facing a worrying population crisis.

“Many poorer countries are already having to deal with an aging population before they have generated enough wealth to be able to provide the level of social protection such as old age pensions that we are used to.”
 
The birth of baby Harper Seven Beckham last month gave a sister to David and Victoria’s three sons – 12-year-old Brooklyn Joseph, 8-year-old Romeo James and 6-year-old Cruz David. The family presently lives in California, where David plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy in Major League Soccer. The Beckhams joint wealth is estimated at over $200 million.
 
“So good on the Beckhams for having four children and future taxpayers who - if they are half as successful as their parents - will be contributing mightily towards my pension,” quipped Dr. Grenham. 

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Pope Benedict praised for appreciation of classical music

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 10, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Catholic Church is blessed to have a Pope who shows such a deep appreciation of classical music, says composer James MacMillan.

“We are lucky that we have a pontiff who values the true pinnacles of human civilization and creative achievement,” MacMillan remarked to CNA, Aug. 10.

His comments followed a gala concert in honor of Pope Benedict’s 60th anniversary of being ordained a priest. It was held on the evening of Aug. 9 at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
 
Performing before the pope and his brother Georg - who is also marking his 60th year as a priest – were the German oboist, Albrecht Mayer, and Arabella Steinbacher, a young German-Japanese violinist. They were joined by an ensemble composed of six musicians from different international orchestras.

The evening’s repertoire was drawn exclusively from the 18th century, with works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Antonio Vivaldi being performed. In his words of thanks, the Pope highlighted the Christian faith permeating both composers’ work.
 
He said the works of Vivaldi, an Italian priest, were “an example of brightness and beauty that conveys serenity and joy,” revealing “his deeply religious spirit.”

The Pope also recalled how the Bach would always sign his compositions “SDG,” meaning “Soli Deo Gloria” in Latin, or “the Glory to God Alone” in English. This, said the Pope, reflected the composer’s “religious conception of art” and “strong faith” which “sustained and illuminated his entire life” and produced sacred music that “almost groped to reproduce the perfect harmony that God has imprinted in creation.”

“It is marvelous that Benedict can delight in the secular outpouring of the western canon of ‘classical’ music as well as the sacred,” said MacMillan, reflecting upon last night’s concert.

“The great composers were like angels who fell to earth to give the rest of us a glimpse of heaven. The fact that many of them were faithful servants of the Church, too, creating the finest music for our sacred liturgies is a double bonus which should excite and exult all Catholics.”

MacMillan’s own work hasn’t escaped the cultured ear of Pope Benedict in recent years. The Scottish composer created much of the music that accompanied the Pope’s visit to the United Kingdom last year. This included the “The Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman” which was sung at the papal liturgies in Glasgow and Birmingham as well as the grand processional “Tu es Petrus” which heralded the Pope’s entrance into Westminster Cathedral in London.

More recently, MacMillan was one of only 60 artists from around the world asked to create works to mark the Pope’s 60th priestly anniversary. He feels Pope Benedict’s promotion of a classical Western culture has a much deeper significance beyond mere artistic appreciation.
 
“There is much talk within certain quarters of the Church about ‘inculturation.’ Some use this as a pretext for attacking the Western, Hellenistic, European, classical and Gregorian roots of Catholic culture. This subterfuge is wrong-headed,” he warned.
 
“What the Church should fear most is the de-culturization of society. Results of this are playing themselves out on the streets of the U.K. as I write.”

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