Washington D.C., Aug 22, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops have entrusted their recently closed Belgian seminary to the local Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven in order to preserve the Catholic identity of the 19th century building.
The American College of the Immaculate Conception in Belgium closed in June of this year because of the small number of seminarians and a lack of available priests for faculty.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan, head of the U.S. bishops' conference and archbishop of New York, praised the new agreement on Aug. 22 as a step forward in the relationship between Belgian and American Catholics.
“The American College has provided a major contribution to the life of the Catholic Church. With this agreement, we are able to respond to the changing needs of our faithful and those who serve them.”
The U.S. bishops said on Monday that the agreement will hand the seminary building over to K.U. Leuven, which will renovate the building for use by future students.
The bishops founded the college in 1857 to train young European men to serve as missionary priests in North America and to offer American seminarians the philosophical and theological riches of Europe’s oldest Catholic university, located in Leuven.
Besides serving as a residence for new university students, the building will now house a project headed by the U.S. bishops, K.U. Leuven, the bishops’ conference of Belgium and the French-speaking sister university of K.U. Leuven, Louvain-la-Neuve.
The project will recruit students and researchers from the worldwide Catholic community – including priests, deacons, members of religious institutes and lay people – to promote educational initiatives in theology, canon law and philosophy.
The effort will be aimed at U.S. residents in particular, and will offer students assistance from the “Peter Kindekens Fund,” named after the first rector of the American College and created in honor of the U.S. bishops’ conference.
Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Mechelen-Brussel, president of the Belgian Bishops Conference, welcomed the agreement.
“We are pleased to see that the historical link between the Church in Belgium and the Church in the United States can continue, albeit in a new form,” he said. “Worldwide collaboration within the Church is our strength and enriches our own experiences.”
Madrid, Spain, Aug 22, 2011 (CNA) -
World Youth Day 2011 organizers have said they are “proud” of the young people who participated in last week’s events in Madrid.
The director of communications for World Youth Day, Marieta Jaureguizar, told Europa Press on Aug. 22 that organizers are“thrilled” that the event took place without incident and that so many young people from all over the world displayed such exemplary behavior.
“We hope that they enjoyed it very much and that it was an important experience for each one of them,” Jauraguizar said. She added that the event was also “a harsh yet wonderful professional and personal experience” for organizers.
The World Youth Day organizating committee said the event “surpassed all expectations” and it expressed thanks to civil officials and the young people who attended.
Madrid, Spain, Aug 22, 2011 (CNA) - Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, Spain recalled that Pope Benedict was “emotionally moved many times, almost to tears,” during World Youth Day 2011.
The cardinal said Benedict XVI was especially touched by the theatrical presentation of the Stations of the Cross, which he had initially not planned to attend.
Speaking to the COPE radio network on Aug. 22, Cardinal Rouco said the Pope changed his mind upon learning that the stations would be presented following the traditions of the Holy Week celebrations in Spain, using a combination of chant and prayer.
The cardinal also encouraged Catholics to re-read the Pope’s numerous speeches, which he called a treasure trove of “preaching, proclamation of the word and explanations to young people” based on the gospels and on the World Youth Day theme. This year’s theme was, “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith,” taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
“That was the common thread in all of his homilies, speeches and remarks,” the cardinal added.
Madrid, Spain, Aug 22, 2011 (CNA) -
RealCatholicTV's Senior Executive Producer Michael Voris says he'll seek to restore his nonprofit corporation's good standing with the state of Michigan, while restricting the activities of a staff member who has apologized for “inappropriate” online writings.
In an online video response to an August 17 CNA article, the RealCatholicTV host – who is also the founder of the nonprofit St. Michael's Media – said that he “did a poor job and allowed things to get sloppy” at his nonprofit company after an administrative assistant left in 2006.
“That is entirely my fault,” Voris stated.
He went on to say that St. Michael's Media was “in the process of getting our records up to date” in order to “file the appropriate back records” to regain good standing with the State of Michigan as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.
CNA reported on August 17 that Voris' nonprofit company was, in the words of an official at the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, “no longer registered and in good standing with the State of Michigan” since 2009, after failing to file necessary reports for two years.
Voris also said in his response that RealCatholicTV's Simon Rafe would no longer be serving as an apologist, program host, or public speaker.
CNA also reported that Rafe was the author of writings that Voris later called “very inappropriate,” including the “adult” role-playing game “Castle Dracula.”
Rafe, also the author of stories that introduced lesbian elements into a book set in the Star Wars universe, posted an August 18 apology on his personal blog “for having scandalized the faithful in any regard.”
“In speaking with Simon, I have no doubt whatsoever about the sincerity of his apology nor his realization that what he did was wrong both personally and professionally,” Voris said in his video response.
He said that “for the foreseeable future,” Rafe would handle only “technical and administrative duties” for both St. Michael's Media and RealCatholicTV.
Voris said it was “unfair” for CNA to have published its story during a “hectic time of production” for RealCatholicTV. He also advised those “who consider themselves our enemies” to “confront us like a man, not some sniveling school girls who resort to tattle tales and smear campaigns.”
The host of “The Vortex” noted that he did not count CNA among his purported “enemies.” He did, however, call attention to “various blogs which make the claim that Catholic News Agency or its affiliate is 4 years behind on its own filings,” one of which he cited in the video's official transcript.
That claim, however, rests upon a misreading of state documents showing that CNA's nonprofit group, in some cases, received notification that its annual reports were overdue. The same documents show that each year's reports were later filed with the state in a matter of weeks or months.
In his Aug. 22 response, Voris also continued to take issue with the organizers of World Youth Day sending out a press release in which they responded to “confusion regarding his affiliation with World Youth Day” by stating that he was “not in any way recognized or approved by World Youth Day 2011.”
“In the mayhem and chaos of World Youth Day, official approval means absolutely next to nothing on the ground,” he observed.
Voris said the official World Youth Day press release, which drew attention to RealCatholicTV's lack of approval from its local bishop, was “beyond ridiculous.”