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Archive of October 20, 2011

Illinois bishop runs Kansas City Marathon

Springfield, Ill., Oct 20, 2011 (CNA) - Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois ran the Kansas City Marathon on Saturday to help raise money and awareness for pro-life work.

He finished the 26.2-mile marathon with a time of 4:08:39, placing 531st out of 1,330 finishers.

The race went “very well,” he told CNA Oct. 19. “It’s a little bit hilly out in Kansas City. It was a nice sunny day, and the weather was good.”

The bishop took part in the event with the LIFE Runners team, a national effort which brought together 170 runners from 20 states to run either the half-marathon or the full marathon.

“This is the first time that I’ve run with the LIFE Runners, that was definitely significant,” Bishop Paprocki said. “It was really very inspiring.”

He and other runners wore T-shirts with slogans to promote respect for life, such as “Remember the Unborn.”

Others at the race responded positively to the slogans, Bishop Paprocki said. There were no negative reactions.

The bishop has run 17 other marathons. He began running in high school because of concern over his family’s history of heart disease.

His Saturday run helped raise $12,500 for a Chicago legal clinic and $3,700 for respect life ministries. His donations will support youth scholarships to the January March for Life in Washington, D.C., multimedia educational resources for diocesan youth in schools and parishes, and internet publicity about post-abortion assistance and healing.

Soliciting donations for a marathon inspires people to be more generous compared to when someone simply asks for money, he noted.

“People see you make an effort.”

The LIFE Runners as a whole raised $35,000 for the Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based Alpha Center pregnancy help bus, which travels across South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota to offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, and information about abortion and alternatives. Their contributions also helped the Kansas City Wyandotte Pregnancy Clinic help bus.

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Former publisher clarifies Zenit's history, finances

Denver, Colo., Oct 20, 2011 (CNA) - Former Zenit publisher Fr. Thomas Williams has provided financial and historical details about the news agency in the wake of the recent resignation of Zenit's founder and six editors.

In an Oct. 17 interview with CNA, Fr. Williams, a Legionaries of Christ priest who served as Zenit's publisher for 10 years, responded to concerns raised by the agency’s founder Jesús Colina.

Colina stepped down in late September after a decision was made by the Legionaries of Christ to enhance the Legion identity of the agency.

Zenit, established 14 years ago as an independent agency, publishes in seven languages and sends its daily service to some 450,000 subscribers.

Colina explained in a Sept. 29 interview that he resigned due to a growing mistrust in the Legion, what he felt was a lack of financial transparency within Zenit, and an unfulfilled desire for the news agency to be economically and editorially separate from the Legion.

In response, CNA contacted Fr. Williams, who gave insight into Zenit's history and finances and discussed the details surrounding Zenit's founding, the Legion’s role in the agency, and plans for the agency's future.  

The full interview with Fr. Williams follows.

CNA: Mr. Colina has said, and it has been confirmed to us by sources from Aid to the Church in Need, that it was this Germany-based organization, not the Legion, who provided the seed money for Zenit.

We have confirmed this with an ACN person who also said that the money was provided on the condition that Zenit would not be an organization owned by any particular movement or congregation. Would this new stage for Zenit mean a departure from its origin? 

Fr. Williams: Aid to the Church in Need did indeed help Zenit early on and this was tremendously important in getting Zenit off the ground financially. In our files we still have the letter they sent, which accompanied their first of two gifts of $50,000 each. There are two noteworthy aspects of this letter. The first is that it was addressed to Father Evaristo Sada, LC, which indicates that ACN was clearly aware of the Legion’s involvement in Zenit. The second is that the letter is dated September 2, 1998, more than a year after Zenit’s founding. The second check for $50,000 arrived in February 1999, accompanied by a letter dated February 4. I am sure that ACN has kept records on this as well, so the historical record should be clear for all to see. This means that during the entire year prior to receiving this gift, Zenit depended completely on the Legion for its financing, and the Legion paid all Zenit’s expenses and salaries, including that of Jesús Colina. Jesús’ first contract, in fact, was with the Legion of Christ (through the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum) rather than Zenit, since Zenit did not as yet exist as a separate legal entity or have its own bank account.

Zenit also paid the salaries of subsequent employees of Zenit, such as Antonio Gaspari and Stefano Magnaldi. Zenit only opened its first bank account on February 3, 1999.The Italian bishops’ conference also came to Zenit’s rescue, with two installments of 15 million liras each (about $7,500 at the time). Jesús Colina solicited this help in a letter dated March 24, 1998; the first installment arrived on April 15, 1999 and the second on June 9, 2000.  This is why since 2006, Zenit’s website has included a section of frequently asked questions. In the answer to question number 7, one reads “In ZENIT's first three years, important donations from the group Aid to the Church in Need, the Italian bishops' conference and the Legionaries of Christ enabled the agency to grow” (http://www.zenit.org/page-010801?l=english#item0).

So while Aid to the Church in Need did offer an invaluable help to Zenit’s financial beginnings, for which we are most grateful, this in no way detracts from the fact that the Legion assumed all of Zenit’s financial burden at the beginning. As of July, 2000, however, Zenit became financially viable on its own, thanks to the donation campaign orchestrated principally by Stefano Magnaldi, Zenit’s business manager. The campaign that year brought in $103,000.

CNA: Why did you—specifically in an Oct. 11 interview with Our Sunday Visitor—refer to Mr. Colina as “co-founder” of Zenit? Who are the other co-founders?

Fr. Williams: In referring to Jesús as cofounder of Zenit, I would never want to call into question Jesús’ unique and central role in Zenit’s founding and development, both internally and as the public face of Zenit. Nevertheless, from the get-go Zenit was a collaborative effort. In early 1997 a group of Legionary priests had begun an apostolate called Sensus Ecclesiae, which gathered news from the Church and sent it around electronically. They were unprepared, however, to take the next step as a true news agency. Jesús had similar aspirations and time to dedicate to the project, and in discussions between him and the Legion the initiative of Zenit was born. In the summer of 1997, the Legion provided Jesús with an office on the second floor of the Legion’s General Directorate building in Rome, a computer, an internet connection, subscriptions to major news sources, and a salary. Legionary priests helped with some research, though Jesús did the vast bulk of the production work himself. At the beginning, Legionaries managed the email distribution lists, and once the website was designed and launched, Zenit’s first webmaster was also a Legionary named Mark Bylander.

In fact, Father Bylander oversaw all of Zenit’s technical operations, since he had been a sort of computer geek prior to entering seminary, and was the logical choice to manage this sector of Zenit’s operations early on. Originally, the official liaison between the Legion and Zenit was Father Evaristo Sada, but on September 8, 1998, Father Sada met with Jesús Colina informing him that the Legion had named me as publisher of Zenit, news which Jesús happily embraced. From that point on and for some ten years, I occupied that oversight role. Prior to that date I had eagerly followed Zenit’s startup and contributed however I could, but September marked my first official role in the agency. Jesús and I always worked very well together, since we shared a common vision and I was very appreciative of Jesús’ journalistic skills. I don’t want to exaggerate my role, since on a day-to-day basis Jesús was working full time while I only intervened occasionally, participating in strategic planning sessions and presiding over weekly editorial meetings.

CNA: What was the Legion’s role in the English edition of Zenit?

Fr. Williams: In January 1998, when Zenit ventured into English, the first editor was a Legionary priest named James Mulford, and the subsequent two editors of the English edition were also Legionaries: Fathers Mark Bylander and Edward McIlmail. Because of Zenit’s limited funds, having a Legionary as editor made good business sense, since he drew no salary. Nonetheless, we were constantly on the lookout for a layperson who could assume the role. This finally happened in 2006 when Zenit hired Karna Swanson as English editor. I had known Karna as an accomplished writer from when she had been consecrated in Regnum Christi, and she began collaborating with the English edition as a journalist in 2004, moving into the editorial position two years later. Back in 1998, we were able to hire an extraordinary woman named Virginia Forrester, who at the time was working for Sacerdos, a Legionary apostolate reaching out to diocesan priests. Initially the English edition depended almost exclusively on content provided by the Spanish language edition, and Virginia translated a huge amount of material into English on a daily basis. Without her, Zenit would not have been able to start an English-language edition as early as it did. None of this takes away from the incredible work Jesús did, and I would never want to take credit away from him. The Legion’s direct presence in day-to-day operations of Zenit was necessarily more intense in the early days, since we lacked funds to afford a full staff of lay persons. Little by little that changed, however, and as Zenit grew, the Legion’s direct involvement diminished

CNA: Mr. Colina contends that as publisher, you were always very coherent and consistent in your desire for plurality within the fidelity to the Church. But that perspective ended two years ago when Fr. Luis Garza, then Vicar General of the Legion, explained that some top positions should be under the exclusive control of Regnum Christi members. Do you agree with this description?

Fr. Williams: Jesús participated in most of the meetings of Zenit’s board during the period when Father Luis Garza was president of the board. During those meetings—which officially determine Zenit’s actions—no one ever proposed firing someone who was not a member of Regnum Christi or hiring someone just because they were. In fact, the question never came up. In hiring decisions we of course consider a person’s religious affiliations, but have consistently looked for the most competent person for the job, as long as they were faithful to the Church. In fact, during Father Garza’s tenure, when the time came to hire Zenit’s new CEO, the decision was made to hire Alberto Ramírez, a supernumerary of Opus Dei, rather than someone from Regnum Christi. 

It is true that historically it has been helpful to have several members of Regnum Christi among those on Zenit’s staff, since they were assumed to share in the Legion’s commitment to serve the universal Church, but they have always been a minority in Zenit and most probably always will be. The universality of the Church is beautifully represented in the Zenit team, whose members hail from a broad diversity of charisms and spiritualities. This has always been a true richness for Zenit in its mission. I believe that anyone who regularly reads Zenit knows that its articles cover events and activities of the entire Church and have never favored events sponsored by the Legion or Regnum Christi. A simple internet search will bear this out

CNA: Mr. Colina claims the independence Zenit was looking for was to make sure that the agency would be able to be transparent and accountable to donors, something crucial for Zenit's fundraising model.

He also said that, although Zenit’s account was always independent, the minimal financial information was never accessible to him as Director. Mr. Colina didn't imply ill will, but rather a lack of effective management. Is this the current financial situation?

Fr. Williams: As Jesús has stated, as soon as Zenit’s accounts separated from the Legion’s in 1999, he was always morally certain that Zenit’s accounts were truly independent. That is, in fact, the case. In every board meeting a certain amount of time is allocated to reviewing the finances of Zenit, and they are available for all to see or question. This can be somewhat confusing because as an international agency with employees all over the world Zenit operates under the name of a number of separate entities in different countries, and has numerous accounts operating in different currencies. It is true that we need to come up with a way of simplifying our financial statements, consolidating everything in a way that is clear and easy to follow. Nevertheless, all the information is there, regarding both revenues and disbursals, and there was never a hint of the Legion tampering with Zenit’s finances. Having been a business major myself, I have always been interested in the financial side of Zenit as well as the editorial.

It is true also that Jesús never had control over Zenit’s finances, but that makes perfect sense. As editorial director, it was never part of his jurisdiction. That was always the work of Stefano Magnaldi, hired as Zenit’s administrative director back in October, 1998. Years later, Jesús suggested that the two branches be consolidated under one single executive director to unify Zenit’s efforts, which initiated our search to find a suitable candidate. The person who recently seemed best qualified for the post was, as I have mentioned, Alberto Ramirez, from Madrid. All of the directors, including Jesús, interviewed Alberto, and a consensus followed that he was the person to hire. I am unaware of a problem among Zenit’s donors concerning Zenit’s finances—except for the fact that we have always depended on them for Zenit’s survival!

CNA: How do you envision the future of Zenit looking? What changes and improvements are to be expected?

Fr. Williams: The first thing is to assure continuity in our service during the next few months!The world has already changed considerably since Zenit’s founding in 1997. At the time, Zenit was the first Catholic news agency to use the internet for mass distribution. Now there are many—including yours! Zenit’s uniqueness will continue to be its base in Rome and the vision it gives from the heart of the Church. We sought early on to offer translations of the Pope’s writings and discourses in as many languages as possible, so that people would have immediate, unfiltered access to the words of Peter’s successor. We have developed around this core, offering more and more coverage of news that affects Catholics throughout the world.

In choosing to focus on the written word, Zenit has perhaps been slow to integrate other media into its repertoire, and we are now looking at ways to offer photos and take advantage of services such as twitter to offer people the news in ways that make things easier for them. The new evangelization has need of communicators unafraid to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the rooftops. Zenit aspires to continue to form part of this great movement.

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Freed Colombian girl may visit Benedict XVI

Bogotá, Colombia, Oct 20, 2011 (CNA) - Nhora Valentina Munoz, the Colombian girl liberated on Oct.17 after kidnappers held her for 19 days, may visit Pope Benedict XVI to thank him for his prayers.

Munoz revealed the idea while meeting with schoolmates and teachers, reported the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

“At times I was afraid, but I always had faith in God and I knew I was going to get out of there safely,” Munoz told the Colombian media.

For his part, Colombia’s ambassador to the Vatican, Cesar Mauricio Velasquez, told the Notimex news agency, “The Pope thanks God for her liberation. He calls on all Colombians to continue to pray for the release of all those kidnapped and for the conversion of those who commit these crimes.”

Colombian’s Minister of Defense, Juan Carlos Pinzon, said the Marxist rebel group FARC “participated in the kidnapping of the girl.

“Communications from the rebels” and additional information “makes us certain of this," he said.

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Pope officially opens Australian pilgrim center in Rome

Rome, Italy, Oct 20, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI officially opened Australia’s first ever pilgrim center in Rome on Oct. 19.

“The Domus Australia will play an important part in creating a home for Australian pilgrims in the city of the Apostles,” the Pope said at a special dedication service.
 
The Domus Australia – or Australia House - is former Marist Brother’s study center built in the 19th-century. Three years ago it was acquired by the Catholic Church in Australia. It has since been heavily renovated and restored. Only five minutes from the city’s main train station, it now boasts 32 guest rooms, a conference center and chapel.

After making his way across Rome, Pope Benedict was welcomed on Wednesday evening by the center’s rector, Fr. Anthony Denton, and Cardinal George Pell of Sydney.

In his welcome address, Cardinal Pell told the Pope that the twin ambitions of the center were to “encourage more of the 60,000 Australian tourists who come to Rome each year to become pilgrims,” and also to “strengthen the links between the distant Church in Australia and the papacy.”

The Pope responded by praying “that the pilgrims who pass through this house will indeed return to their homes with firmer faith, more joyful hope and more ardent love for the Lord.” He also hoped that their “visit to the See of Peter will deepen their love for the universal Church and unite them more closely with Peter’s Successor.”

The Oct. 19 evening service was held in the newly restored chapel of St. Peter Chanel. It is adorned with 32 paintings by the award-winning Sydney artist, Paul Newton. Many of the artworks portray significant figures from Australia’s Christian history, including the country’s first saint, St. Mary MacKillop. She was canonized almost one year ago to the day.
 
The guests included many VIPs from Australia, such as the country’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Tim Fischer, and the majority of the country’s bishops who are in Rome for their five-yearly “ad limina” visit to the Vatican.

The music was provided by the choir of St. Mary’s Cathedral, which was flown in from Sydney for special the occasion.

“It went really well. I’m still shaking from all the nerves, though,” said 13-year-old choirboy Jeremy Lowrencev after the ceremony.
 
“It was a great experience to see the Pope, not on TV but seeing him live. That was a great experience and it will live in my heart forever,” said 12-year-old Kendal Kim.
 
After the speeches were given, Pope Benedict was guided around the center by Cardinal Pell, stopping only to bless various locations with holy water. The Pope then departed while the evening’s celebrations continued with a champagne reception in the courtyard of the Domus.

“It was just a wonderful experience,” project manager Danny Casey said.
 
“The cardinal’s vision was certainly very demanding, but we all worked very hard for it. And to see it all come together tonight with the Holy Father giving us a blessing, well, that was a life changing moment for all of us,” Casey said.

Along with the Archdiocese of Sydney, the principle supporting dioceses of the project were Melbourne, Perth and Lismore.

“I just count myself so lucky to be here at such a historic moment for the Church in Australia,” said 26-year-old seminarian Daniel McCaughan from the Archdiocese of Sydney.

“To actually have a pilgrim house here in Rome that we can call our own, a slice of the Down Under in the Eternal City, is something very special.”

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Cardinal Erdo named apostolic visitor to pontifical university in Peru

Lima, Peru, Oct 20, 2011 (CNA) - Peru’s apostolic nunciature has announced that Cardinal Peter Erdo of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary has been named apostolic visitor for the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

The announcement was made public by the university board. No date for the cardinal’s arrival was mentioned. 

In a statement, university officials reiterated their “willingness to dialogue” as expressed by the university assembly during its meeting on Sept. 23. During the meeting, the assembly rejected adopting the statutes put forth in the apostolic exhortation, “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” thus endangering its status as a pontifical and Catholic institution.

Cardinal Peter Erdo is currently serving his second term as president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences. He was re-elected last September at the council’s meeting in Albania.

Biography

Cardinal Peter Erdo was born on June 25, 1952 in Budapest, Hungary. He was ordained a priest in 1975 and holds doctorates in theology and canon law.

In 1999 he was appointed titular Bishop of Puppi and Auxiliary of Székesfehérvár. He was also president of the Commission of Ecclesiastical Law for the Bishops’ Conference of Hungary.

On December 7, 2002 Cardinal Erdo was nominated Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and Primate of Hungary. Then, in 2005 he was elected president of the country’s bishops’ conference.

In October 2006 he was elected president of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and in 2003 he was made a cardinal by John Paul II.

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Pope urges Australian Church to embrace New Evangelization

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI is urging the Church in Australia to evangelize all Australians, not simply those who are Catholic.

“It is urgent to ensure that all those entrusted to your care understand, embrace and propose their Catholic faith intelligently and willingly to others,” the Pope told the Australian bishops in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Oct. 20.

In this way, said the Pope, Australian Catholics will “give such an account of your faith by word and example that it will be convincing and attractive,” particularly to people of good will who, “seeing your witness, will respond naturally to the truth, the goodness and the hope that you embody.”

The bishops of Australia are currently in Rome for their “ad limina” meeting with the Pope, which is taking place Oct. 10-22. During those days the issue of “new evangelization” has figured in several discussions with curial officials and Pope Benedict himself.

“That’s the great challenge – for us to become a more missionary church,” Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra told CNA on Oct. 19.

“Our parish communities have to become not just pastoral centers but evangelizing centers,” he said, suggesting that now is not the time to “circle the wagons” but “roll the wagons out into new territory.”

Next year, the Archdiocese of Sydney will run a television campaign based upon the U.S. Church’s “Catholics Come Home” initiative - with a particular focus on promoting catechesis in Catholic schools and reaching non-Catholics.

Cardinal George Pell explained to CNA, “(w)e are hoping to do more by way of the new evangelization, taking out the message of Jesus Christ to the wider public rather than just concentrating on our own.”

The Pope said that in their efforts to reach out to the three-quarters of Australians who are not Catholic, the Church down under is building upon “two special moments of grace in recent years.”

The first was the 2008 World Youth Day gathering in Sydney. The Pope noted that “one of the outstanding consequences of the event” is the increase in the number of young people who are discerning vocations to the priesthood and the religious life.

“You should therefore continue to foster that radical attachment to the person of Jesus Christ,” he told the bishops, “whose attraction inspires them to give their lives completely to him and to the service of the Gospel in the Church.”

The second special moment was the 2010 canonization of St. Mary MacKillop, Australia’s first saint. “She is an example of holiness and dedication to Australians and to the Church throughout the world,” said the Pope.
 
In the late 19th century, St. Mary MacKillop founded a number of schools and charitable institutions throughout Australia and New Zealand, with a particular emphasis on the education of the poor in rural areas. But her life had its share of difficulties, including being excommunicated by her local bishop in Adelaide for several months.

Pope Benedict pointed Australian Catholics to Saint Mary MacKillop’s “courageous response” to the difficulties she faced and said it should inspire them “as they confront the new evangelization and serious challenges to the spread of the Gospel in society as a whole.”

Her legacy, he suggested, should inspire “sound catechesis for children,” as well as “much-needed catechetical programs for adults” and “ongoing formation” for clergy and religious.

The Pope also encouraged the bishops to honestly and openly work to repair the damage caused by the clerical abuse scandal.
 
His final exhortation to the Australian bishops was that they embrace and promote the new translation of the Mass in English.
 
“Make every effort to help catechists and musicians in their respective preparations to render the celebration of the Roman Rite in your Dioceses a moment of greater grace and beauty, worthy of the Lord and spiritually enriching for everyone,” said Pope Benedict.

He concluded by telling the bishops that through such prayer and initiatives “you will lead the Church in Australia towards her heavenly home under the sign of the Southern Cross.”

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Vatican voices hope for Libya after Ghadafi's death

Vatican City, Oct 20, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

After Moammar Ghadafi's death, Libya must chart a new course based on human dignity and the rule of law, the Vatican said in a statement released Oct. 20.

“The news of the death of Colonel Moammar Ghadafi thus closes an overly long and tragic phase of the bloody fight for the overthrow of a hard and oppressive regime,” the Holy See's Press Office said in its reaction on Thursday.

The former Libyan leader's violent death, it said, shows “the immense human suffering that accompanies the affirmation and the collapse of every system that is not based on the respect and dignity of the person, but on the prevailing assertion of power.” 

The Vatican said it now hopes the new governors will work to prevent violence motivated by revenge and “take on the necessary work of sowing peace and reconstruction as soon as possible, with a spirit of inclusion, on the foundation of justice and law.” 

Libya's Transitional National Council, which took the capital Tripoli in August, is now preparing to declare full “liberation” of the country that Colonel Ghadafi, 69, ruled for 42 years.

The ousted dictator died at the hands of rebels in his hometown of Sirte, reportedly from gunshot wounds to his head and abdomen. An official in the transitional council told Reuters that his burial would take place on Friday in the city of Misrata.

The Holy See hopes other nations, many of which joined a NATO intervention in Libya's civil war, “will be committed to generously assisting” in rebuilding the country.

Meanwhile, Libya's small Catholic community “will continue to offer its testimony and its … service, in particular in the charitable and health fields,” as the Vatican works for the country's good by diplomatic means.

In Thursday's statement, the Vatican recognized that the Transitional National Council “is now seated in an effective way as government in Tripoli,” such that the Holy See now “considers it the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, in conformity with international law.”

Vatican representatives have already had contact with Libya's new authorities. Its Secretariat of State has been in touch with Libya's representatives to the Vatican in the time since the transitional council took Tripoli.

More recently, Archbishop Tommaso Caputo, the Pope's representative in Libya, visited Tripoli from Oct. 2 to 4 and met with the council's Prime Minister Mahmoud Gibril as well as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

“For their part,” the Vatican's statement noted, “those responsible for the new Libya communicated their appreciation for the humanitarian appeals of the Holy Father and for the commitment of the Church in Libya,” particularly the hospitals and other aid centers run by 13 religious orders.

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