Archive of October 17, 2011

Pope's letter explains urgent need for 'Year of Faith'

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope XVI Benedict says the Church's “Year of Faith,” starting October 2012, comes in response to a “profound crisis of faith that has affected many people” and left them searching for answers.

“Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ,” the Pope wrote in his letter, "Porta Fidei" (Door of Faith), announcing the yearlong initiative.

“The 'door of faith' is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into His Church,” he reflected. “It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace.”

The Year of Faith will begin Oct. 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. That same date is the 20th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II's publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a text Pope Benedict said was meant to show “the power and beauty of the faith.”

It will conclude on Nov. 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

October 2012 will also be the occasion of the Church's next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on the theme of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” This event, the Pope noted, “will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith.”

Next year's celebration is not the Church's first “Year of Faith.” In 1967, Pope Paul VI presided over an observance on the same theme, which that Pope described as a response to the “disturbance” and “perplexity” surrounding the faith after the Second Vatican Council.

Pope Benedict explained that the new Year of Faith gives an opportunity to show how that council's documents support the historic traditions of the Church, when properly understood. He encouraged believers to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church during the upcoming year, saying the text was “one of the most important fruits of the Second Vatican Council.”

By studying their faith, believers can learn to explain it in light of new circumstances driving others to doubt or disbelieve.

“To a greater extent than in the past, faith is now being subjected to a series of questions arising from a changed mentality which, especially today, limits the field of rational certainties to that of scientific and
technological discoveries,” Pope Benedict observed.

“Nevertheless, the Church has never been afraid of demonstrating that there cannot be any conflict between faith and genuine science, because both, albeit via different routes, tend towards the truth.”

The Pope said it would be a matter “of decisive importance” for Catholics to look back on the history of their faith during the 2012-2013 year, to gain an understanding of how the Church continues Christ's mission of redemption.

“In him who died and rose again for our salvation,” he said, “the examples of faith that have marked these two thousand years of our salvation history are brought into the fullness of light.”

Pope Benedict has asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to draw up more specific guidelines on how to “live this Year of Faith in the most effective and appropriate ways, at the service of belief and evangelization.”

He cited the words of the Virgin Mary's cousin Elizabeth, on the occasion of their visitation before Christ's birth, as he asked Catholics to “entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed 'blessed because she believed.'”

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On rescue anniversary, bishop urges Chilean miners to trust God

Santiago, Chile, Oct 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - At a Mass marking one year since the rescue of 33 trapped men from the San Jose Mine, Chilean Bishop Gaspar Quintana of Copiapo said Christians should always entrust difficulties to God.

Survivor Omar Reygadas attended and spoke on behalf of the other miners, thanking God “for protecting us and that we came out safe and sound.”

“We are going to need time to thank everyone around the world for their prayers and the tears they shed for us,” Reygadas said.

As he celebrated Mass outside the mine, Bishop Quintana thanked the government, the rescue team, and the volunteers who offered help last year, as well as those in Chile and around the world who prayed for the success of the rescue operation.

After noting Christ's care for the handicapped and sick, Bishop Quintana called for better safety conditions for miners and all workers.

The end of the Mass featured the laying of the cornerstone for a memorial that will commemorate the mine accident and the rescue. Bishop Quintana led the effort to mark the events with a memorial, which will include a large cross as well as a grotto dedicated to Our Lady of the Candelaria.

Chilean First Lady Cecilia Morel attended the Mass and called last year's rescue was “an epiphany,” because the miners “ were born again after 70 days beneath this gigantic mountain, which our faith helped us move.”

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Church in Guadalajara urges non-violence for Pan American Games

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 17, 2011 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Guadalajara wants a permanent truce from violence, as the city hosts the Pan American Games between Oct. 14 and 30.

“In thinking about the Pan American Games we long for a truce, although we ask that it be permanently prolonged in our society,” the archdiocese said in an article published in its newspaper Semanario La Fe. “We deserve a time of peace now, don’t we?”

The Pan American Games brings together over 6,000 athletes from 42 countries, including the United States. Athletes will participate in 36 different games, including the 28 events that make up the Olympics.

The Justice Department in the Mexican state of Jalisco, where the city of Guadalajara is located, reported 1,100 crimes during 2010. This number includes an average of 70 murders per month, a sevenfold increase from three years ago.

Raul Benitez, an expert on security issues in Mexico, has stated that there is no sign of an immanent security threat to the Pan American games from drug cartels.

But a report by the global intelligence company Stratfor says the concern is “understandable, considering that Guadalajara is historically a hot spot for drug cartels and recent acts of violence.”

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Bishop Finn, diocese plead not guilty to charge of not reporting abuse

Kansas City, Mo., Oct 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Bishop Robert W. Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph have entered a plea of not guilty to misdemeanor charges of failure to report a priest’s suspected child abuse. The bishop asked for prayers and pointed to new reforms intended to ensure transparency.

Bishop Finn said he and his diocese will meet the announced indictments with “a steady resolve and a vigorous defense.”

“With deep faith, we will weather this storm and never cease to fulfill our mission, even in moments of adversity,” he added.

Missouri law requires members of the clergy such as Bishop Finn and the operators of schools such as the diocese to report reasonable suspicions of child abuse. The charge against the bishop carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The diocese faces a fine of up to $5,000.

The case follows the May 19 arrest of former St. Patrick’s Church pastor Fr. Shawn Ratigan on child pornography charges. A technician found numerous suspicious images of children, mostly prepubescent girls, on the priest’s laptop. He informed a deacon who reported the find to diocesan officials on December 16, 2010.

However, diocesan officials did not contact law enforcement until May 11, 2011.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced the charges on Friday.

“This is a significant charge,” Baker said, according to the Kansas City Star. “To my knowledge, a charge like this has not been leveled before.”

She said she had done her best to ensure a fair process.

“This has nothing — nothing — to do with the Catholic faith. This is about the facts of the case, nothing more. This is about protecting children,” Baker said.

Fr. Ratigan attempted suicide on Dec. 17, after diocesan officials informed him that they had discovered some of the images. Doctors initially did not expect him to live or to recover full mental capacity. When he recovered, he was placed in psychiatric care. He was removed from ministry and placed under restrictions.

After the priest’s arrest, Bishop Finn apologized for failing to ask police to conduct a full investigation sooner. He launched an independent investigation of the events and of diocesan procedures under the leadership of Todd Graves, a former co-chair of the U.S. Department of Justice Child Exploitation Working Group.

The Graves Commission’s Aug. 31 report found that there was a failure to follow diocesan policy in a timely manner and diocesan officials relied on limited professional judgments rather than the diocese’s independent review board. They also found that Bishop Finn misplaced trust in the priest to comply with his restrictions.

Msgr. Robert Murphy, the diocese’s vicar general, in December conducted what the report called “a limited and improperly conceived investigation” into whether a single image of a girl’s genitals constituted child pornography.

Without seeing the image, the vicar general solicited an opinion from a review board member. He also shared the images with the diocese’s legal counsel and received an opinion that “a single disturbing image” did not constitute child pornography.

Instead of referring the matter to the review board for a more thorough investigation, Msgr. Murphy initially allowed these answers to satisfy the diocese’s duty for diligent inquiry. The monsignor himself contacted police in May.

Bishop Finn later said he never viewed the photos, but they had been described to him, the report states.

On Oct. 14 the bishop said he had pledged the “complete cooperation of the diocese and accountability to law enforcement” after Fr. Ratigan’s arrest.

“We have carried this out faithfully. Diocesan staff and I have given hours of testimony before grand juries, delivered documents, and answered questions fully,” Bishop Finn said.

Evidence against Fr. Ratigan includes other materials not involved in the diocese’s investigation. Police have confiscated a desktop computer, camera equipment, and a compact disc and flash drive containing pornographic images, KMBC reports.

The priest had previously fallen under suspicion.

In May 2010, St. Patrick School principal Julie Hess presented Msgr. Murphy with a letter detailing parent’s concerns about the priest’s “perceived inappropriate behavior with children” and about some of the priest’s actions which they believed fit the profile of a child predator.

The grand jury indictment cites Bishop Finn’s and the diocese’s previous knowledge of concerns about Fr. Ratigan, the discovery of hundreds of photographs of children on the priest’s laptop, and the priest’s violations of his restrictions.

They “knowingly failed to immediately report such suspected abuse” to the Missouri Children’s Division, the indictment charges.

Gerald Handley, the bishop’s lawyer, said that his client “denies any criminal wrongdoing and has cooperated at all stages with law enforcement, the grand jury, the prosecutor’s office, and the Graves Commission. We will continue our efforts to resolve this matter.”

The case also has bearing on the diocese’s 2008 $10 million settlement with 47 plaintiffs in sex abuse cases. The settlement included an agreement that the diocese would report any suspected abuse to law enforcement agencies.

Bishop Finn asked during Sunday Mass on Oct. 16 for prayers and unity from Catholics, priests, parishes and Catholic institutions. He also pledged an “ever stronger determination” to “form, teach and protect children.”

Bishop Finn and the diocese will have their next court appearance on Dec. 15.

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Pope highlights need to harmonize business and family life

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI called for new ways of doing business, in keeping with the dignity of workers and their families, during an Oct. 15 address to promoters of Catholic social doctrine.

“Family and work are privileged places for the construction of the vocation of man, collaborating in the creative work of God today,” he told the “Fondazione Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice,” a Vatican-based lay organization that spreads the Church's social teaching around the world.

Its members met in Rome for a two-day conference on the relationship between family and business.

In his speech to the foundation, the Pope recalled how the Second Vatican Council “spoke of the family in terms of the domestic church, an ‘untouchable sanctuary’ where the person matures in affection, solidarity and spirituality.”

“The economy with its laws must always consider the interests and the protection of this primary cell of society,” the Pope noted.

His comments coincide with important anniversaries in the history of Catholic social teaching. Pope Leo XIII published the first modern encyclical on the topic, “Rerum Novarum,” 120 years ago in 1891.

Meanwhile, 2011 also marks 30 years since Blessed John Paul II’s family-centered apostolic exhortation “Familiaris Consortio,” and two decades since he addressed economic questions in the encyclical “Centessimus Annus”

Pope Benedict said that although “great changes have taken place in the world” since the days of Leo XIII, the Church “always promotes the human person and the family, in their context in life, even in business.”

He stressed the economy's need for good families, observing that “it is primarily in the family that we learn the right attitude for living in society,” including the “world of work, economics, business.”

In these fields, he said, values from family life help people to be “led by charity, the logic of generosity, solidarity and responsibility for one another.”

Pope Benedict recognized that the present economic crisis has hit families hard. He highlighted his 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” as a guide to building a more humane society and economy, based on “a new harmonious synthesis between family and work.”

“It is not the task of the Church to define the ways to tackle the crisis,” the Pope acknowledged.

But Christians, formed by the Church's teaching, have a duty “to denounce evil, to testify and to keep alive the values that underpin human dignity and to promote those forms of solidarity that promote the common good,” helping humanity become “more and more the family of God.”

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House passes bill to prevent taxpayer-funded abortion in health care law

Washington D.C., Oct 17, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Oct. 13 that would prevent federal taxpayer funding of abortion under President Obama’s health care law. The approved measure would also strengthen conscience protection for health care employees.

“A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion is the will of the American people and ought to be the law of the land,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on the House floor. 

“But the law, particularly as it is currently enforced, does not reflect the will of the people. This has created additional uncertainty given that Americans are concerned not just about how much we’re spending, but how we’re spending it.”

H.R. 358, the Protect Life Act, passed by a vote of 251-172 in the House.

The bill makes certain that “the Hyde amendment applies to all the programs that are both authorized and appropriated in Obamacare,” said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) during the debate over the act.

The Hyde Amendment is a provision added annually to appropriations bills providing federal funds for health care. It prohibits federal funding for abortions, except in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother.

“Nothing less than a comprehensive prohibition on public funding, promotion and facilitation of elective abortion in any federal health program, satisfies the demands of social justice,” said Rep. Smith.

The Protect Life Act also specifies that health insurance carriers cannot be forced to cover abortion, and protects the conscience rights of health care individuals and institutions who refuse to participate in abortions.

The United States bishops applauded the passage of the bill.

“By passing the Protect Life Act, the House has taken an important step toward authentic health care reform that respects the dignity of all, from conception onward,” said Deirdre McQuade, pro-life spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bill is expected to face heavy opposition in the Senate, and the Obama administration has threatened to veto the measure. A statement released by the administration on Oct. 12 said that “the legislation intrudes on women’s reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choices that women and their families have today.”

On Sep. 9, 2009, President Obama told Congress that under his legislation, “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”

The administration claims that the Affordable Care Act, along with an executive order issued by President Obama in March 2010, already prohibit federal funding of abortion, except in limited cases. 

However, critics contend that the language of the act does not prohibit such funding. They argue that the president’s executive order is inadequate because it does not amend the bill and would be overturned if brought to federal court.

The Obama administration criticized the Protect Life Act, saying that it “goes well beyond the safeguards found in current law and reinforced in the President’s Executive Order by restricting women’s private insurance choices.”
If the bill is passed by Congress, the president’s “senior advisors would recommend that he veto” it, the Oct. 12 statement said.

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