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Archive of August 29, 2011

Spanish street to be named after Benedict XVI

Madrid, Spain, Aug 29, 2011 (CNA) - The Spanish town of Pilar de la Horadada will name a street after Pope Benedict XVI in gratitude to residents who opened their homes to young people during World Youth Day.

The idea to name the street “Pope Benedict XVI” came from a local pastor, Father Francisco Rafael Morato Boronat, reported the EFE news agency.

“The parish sees the naming of this street as a permanent sign of homage and gratitude to the families and entities in the town that helped to make the participation of Pilar de la Horadada during World Youth Day not only exemplary, but also a time of joy and generosity for all the people,” Fr. Morato said.

The mayor of Pilar de la Horadada, Jose Fidel Ros, recalled that “over a hundred families from Pilar wanted to collaborate with World youth Day by hosting French and Polish pilgrims for three days, providing them not only with a place to stay but also with their meals each day. 

“For this reason, we see this as a way to thank them for volunteering,” he said.

“Pope Benedict XVI Street” will be the newest of three other streets in the town also named after well-known pontiffs.

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Peruvian writer admits the West needs Catholicism

Madrid, Spain, Aug 29, 2011 (CNA) - Mario Vargas Llosa, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, recently wrote that the success of World Youth Day in Madrid has shown that the West needs Catholicism in order to survive.

Vargas Llosa, an agnostic known for criticizing the Church's teachings, praised the recent event in an Aug. 28 article in the Spanish daily El Pais.

According to Vargas Llosa, who was born in Peru but is now a Spanish citizen, World Youth Day was “a gigantic festival of teens, students and young professionals who came from every corner of the world to sing, dance, pray and proclaim their adherence to the Catholic Church and their ‘addiction’ to the Pope.”

“The small protests by secularists, anarchists, atheists and Catholics who dissent from the Pope caused some minor incidents, albeit some grotesque, such as the group of lunatics who were seen throwing condoms at a group of girls who … prayed the rosary with their eyes closed,” he recalled.

Vargas Llosa said there were “two possible readings of this event:” one which sees World Youth Day “as more a superficial than a religious festival” and the other which interprets it as “proof that the Church of Christ maintains its strength and vitality.”

After noting that statistics show only 51 percent of Spanish young people say they are Catholic, but only 12 percent practice their religion, Vargas Llosa said the gradual decline in the number of Catholics is not so much a symptom of the Church’s “inevitable ruin and extinction” as it is a sign of the vitality and energy that remains present the Church, especially under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

“In any case, setting aside the theological context and looking at things solely from a social and political point of view, the truth is that although it may be losing numbers and shrinking, Catholicism today is more united, active and assertive now than in the years in which it seemed to be on the verge of becoming unhinged and splitting apart over internal ideological struggles,” he continued.

Vargas Llosa went on to say the question is whether this is good or bad for the West. “As long as the State remains secular and independent of all Churches,” he said, “it is good, because a democratic society cannot effectively combat its enemies—beginning with corruption—if its institutions are not firmly supported by ethical values, if a rich spiritual life does not flourish in its bosom as a permanent antidote to destructive forces.”

“In our times,” Vargas Llosa said, the culture “has not been able to replace religion nor will it be able to do so, except for small minorities on the fringes of the public at large.”  This is because “despite how many amazingly brilliant intellectuals try to convince us that atheism is the only logical and rational consequence of the knowledge and experience accumulated throughout the history of civilization, the idea of definitive extinction will continue to be intolerable to the average human being, who will continue to find in the faith the hope for a life beyond death, which he has never been able to renounce.”

“Believers and non-believers should rejoice at what has taken place in Madrid in these days in which God seemed to exist, Catholicism seemed to be the only true religion, and all of us like good young people walked towards the kingdom of heaven led by the hand of the Holy Father,” he concluded.

Vargas Llosa's article was also reprinted Aug. 29 by L'Osservatore Romano.

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Baltimore’s Archbishop Edwin O’Brien appointed to Vatican post

Baltimore, Md., Aug 29, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore as the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Archbishop O’Brien will move to the headquarters of the Order in Rome, where he will be elevated to the rank of cardinal.

“It has been a singular privilege to serve as Archbishop of Baltimore,” said Archbishop O’Brien at a media conference in Baltimore August 29. “It is with a heavy heart that I will be departing …I pray that I will carry out the will of God and that of (the Pope) in preserving the faith in the Holy Land.”

Archbishop O’Brien’s new post means that he will leave for Rome immediately, after a four-year tenure as head of the Baltimore archdiocese.

In accepting the new position, Archbishop O’Brien assumes responsibility for the ancient lay Catholic Order whose goal is to promote and defend Christianity in the Holy Land.

The organization currently provides 75 percent of the annual income for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, which cares for the church in Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Cyprus. The Order also funds 40 schools, hospitals and institutes of higher education in the region, such as the University of Bethlehem. At present, there are 18,000 members of the order worldwide.

“We very much welcome the appointment of Archbishop O’Brien,” said Patrick Powers, the Vice-Governor General of the Order who is based in California, to CNA. 

“At 72-years-old he’s relatively young and will have the opportunity to serve the order for a long time and will definitely have a chance to make his mark.”

Archbishop O’Brien has already served as Grand Prior of the Order’s Mid-Atlantic Lieutenancy of the United States, based in Washington, D.C., since 2010. He is taking over leadership of the Order from his fellow American, Cardinal John Patrick Foley. Cardinal Foley resigned in February because of health problems.

“I would like to thank Cardinal Foley for his excellent service as Grand Master,” said Archbishop O’Brien at the Aug 29 press conference.

“He brought great joy and enthusiasm to the position and accomplished much in his effective leadership of the Order. I would also like to gratefully acknowledge the cardinal's personal words of congratulations and support. Since learning of my appointment I have spent some time with Cardinal Foley and I am sure I will be turning to him from time to time for his continued good counsel.”

In response, Cardinal Foley issued a statement today citing Archbishop O’Brien’s “experience and splendid dedication as priest and archbishop.” He said the archbishop will be “an outstanding leader” of the Order, and that he “could not be happier that he is my successor.”

Archbishop O’Brien said he was unsure how long it will be before his successor in Baltimore is named, but assured those present at today’s media conference that the Vatican is well aware of the importance of naming a new archbishop as soon as possible, given the many critical programs underway in the archdiocese. Until his successor is named, Archbishop O’Brien said he will serve as apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.

As Grand Master of the Knights of Jerusalem, Archbishop O’Brien will reside in Vatican City and make visits to the Holy Land and to the Order’s lieutenancies, which are located throughout the world. He is also likely to be appointed to one or more senior posts within the Roman curia, the governing departments of the Vatican.   

During his tenure as the 15th archbishop of the nation’s oldest Catholic diocese, Archbishop O’Brien has focused the Church’s ministry in several key areas, including the promotion of priestly vocations and care for the most vulnerable.

Since his appointment to Baltimore in 2007, Archbishop O’Brien has ordained seven new priests for the archdiocese while over 120 men have entered the seminary. He has also received over 3,000 new Catholics into the Church.

Meanwhile, his Archbishop’s Annual Appeal has generated more than $23 million for parishes, schools and charitable programs, with another $7.5 million being spent on tuition assistance for children in inner city Catholic schools.

“While the thought of leaving Baltimore - which I have come to think of as a permanent and welcoming home - saddens me, the news underscores the fact that the Church is built and ordered on Christ, alone,” said Archbishop O’Brien.

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Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò expected to be next US nuncio

Vatican City, Aug 29, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is set to become the new papal nuncio to the United States, according to Vatican sources who asked to remain anonymous.
 
Archbishop Viganò will succeed Archbishop Pietro Sambi who died in July from complications that developed after he had a delicate lung surgery.
 
Archbishop Viganò, 70, is currently the second in command within the Governatorate of the Vatican City, the office in charge of many of the City State’s departments such as its police, observatory, museums, post office and tourist information service.

The Italian newspaper La Stampa this week claimed to have copies of the private correspondence confirming the appointment of Archbishop Viganò as nuncio to the U.S.

The paper reported that Archbishop Viganò made it clear to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State that he had no desire to be posted overseas, and that he preferred to remain in Rome.

The response came in a letter from the Vatican Secretary of State, dated Aug. 13, which informed Archbishop Viganò of Pope Benedict’s personal desire that he go to the U.S. It stated that the Pope wanted an experienced diplomat in charge of the Washington, D.C. nunciature during an election year in the U.S.

The newspaper reported that Archbishop Viganò would have preferred to take over from his immediate superior at the Governatorate of the Vatican City, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, who submitted his resignation to the Pope last year after turning 75. The cardinal's resignation has not yet been accepted and no successor has been appointed.

Archbishop Carlo Mario Viganò is a native of the town of Varese in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. He was ordained a priest in 1968 and entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1973. Since then he has served in the diplomatic missions to Iraq, the United Kingdom and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. He was nuncio to Nigeria between 1992 and 1998. He also worked in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State from 1978 to 1989. No date has yet been set for his arrival in Washington, D.C.
 
“We haven’t heard anything official yet so we can’t confirm an official time scale,” a spokesman for the nunciature told CNA on August 29.
 

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Obama-friendly Catholics want contraceptive mandate revised

Washington D.C., Aug 29, 2011 (CNA) - Several Catholics known for supporting Obama administration policies are opposing the lack of religious conscience protections in rules requiring most new health plans to cover contraception and sterilization.

In an open letter issued August 26, the self-described “ad hoc group of Catholic leaders and professors” called on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius “to extend conscience protection to religious charities, religious hospitals, and religious schools in regards to mandated health insurance coverage” under the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The signatories - many of whom also signed an earlier letter criticizing House Speaker John Boehner in May - cited the First Amendment’s protection of religious activity, and the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on religious discrimination, to argue for broader religious exceptions.

On August 1, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that only certain religious institutions could opt out of providing contraception, under the heading of “women’s preventive services,” in their new health plans.

To be exempt, an organization must have “the inculcation of religious values as its purpose,” must primarily employ “persons who share its religious tenets,” and must serve primarily “persons who share its religious tenets.”

The U.S. Catholic bishops, who oppose the mandate altogether, have criticized the proposed rules, while also noting the basic inappropriateness of regarding fertility as a condition in need of “prevention.” The St. Gianna Physician’s Guild, a Catholic medical organization, has pointed out that the mandate will increase the already substantial demand for abortion due to failed contraception.

In their letter to Sebelius, the group of Catholic academics and activists - including Professors Fr. Thomas Reese of Georgetown, Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College, Margaret Steinfels of Fordham, and Nicholas Cafardi of Duquesne- stopped short of criticizing the mandate itself. They focused instead on its need for revision, due to religious guidelines they called “too restrictive.”

“Catholic charities and Catholic hospitals do not fit the rule’s definition of religious organization,” they noted. “Catholic schools, colleges, and universities also might not fit the current definition.”

The letter’s leading author, who also organized the Boehner letter, is Catholic University of America Professor Stephen Scheck. In 2009, Schneck lent his support to a “Catholics for Sebelius” initiative, supporting the Obama nominee whose bishop told her not to receive Communion over her abortion record.

Professors Schneck, Reese, Cahill, Steinfels, and Cafardi all signed a 2009 letter calling Sebelius “a woman of deep faith” whose “record of building the common good” made her “an excellent candidate for HHS Secretary.”

Unlike the recent letter to Boehner - in which Scheck, Reese, Cahill, and many others accused the Catholic speaker of proposing “anti-life” budget cuts that contradicted “the Church’s most ancient moral teachings” - the letter to Sibelius took a restrained tone.

It contains one brief reference to “the Catholic Church’s ancient mission to the poor and the sick,” and no reference to Catholic teaching on contraception and sterilization.

Instead, the authors cited Title 26 of the United States Code, noting that it offered “appropriate guidance for defining religious organizations” that should qualify for an exemption from the birth control mandate.

By this definition, a “non-profit religious, educational, or charitable organization” that has “bona fide religious purposes or reasons” and “holds itself out to the public as a religious organization” should qualify.

The language of Title 26, they said “more fully reflects the intentions of the First Amendment and the Civil Rights Act as they pertain to matters of religious conscience.”

Sebelius’ narrow religious exemptions have also received criticism from Sister Carol Keehan, head of the Catholic Health Association, who publicly supported the Affordable Care Act that led to their drafting. On August 4, Sr. Keehan said she was “very concerned” with exemptions that were “not broad enough to protect our Catholic health providers.”

In terms stronger than those used in the academics’ August 26 letter, Sr. Keehan said it was “critical” that Catholic hospitals “be allowed to serve our nation without compromising our conscience.”

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