Archive of October 27, 2011

Maryknoll missionaries to celebrate 100 years of service

New York City, N.Y., Oct 27, 2011 (CNA) - The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, a U.S. foreign missions group, are set to celebrate their 100th anniversary at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City.

“His Holiness willingly joins the whole Maryknoll family in recalling the profound zeal for the spread of the Gospel and the growth of the Church,” the Vatican’s secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said on behalf of Pope Benedict.

A Mass of thanksgiving will be held on Oct. 30 with more than 2,000 society members, clergy, friends and donors who will to pay tribute to the group, which was founded in 1911 and serves 28 countries.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of the Washington archdiocese, will serve as the main celebrant of the Mass and will be joined by several Maryknoll priests.

The celebration will begin with a procession of flags, led by the U.S. and Vatican flags, from all the countries served by the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers during the society’s first 100 years.

The procession of flags will be followed by the processional cross, which contains relics of the Maryknoll Society Founders—Bishop James A. Walsh and Father Thomas F. Price—and of Mother Mary Joseph, the Foundress of the Maryknoll Sisters' Congregation.

“The vision of the founders bore fruit not only in an impressive missionary expansion in Asia, Latin America and Africa, but also in a remarkable awakening of concern for the Church's mission ad gentes among generations of Catholics in the United States,” Cardinal Bertone said of the society.

Among the special guests participating in the Mass will be representatives of the numerous countries ministered to by the missionary order. Prayers of the Faithful during the Mass will be offered  by the guests in their native languages of Hakka, English, Quechua, Spanish, Swahili and Taiwanese.

The Maryknoll Society also serves parishes and schools in the U.S. and engages Catholics in mission through vocations, prayers, donations and volunteer work.

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For Santorum, faith and reason are benchmarks for politics

Washington D.C., Oct 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says that reason does not conflict with his Catholic faith, but rather works with it to guide his political decisions.

“When the reason is right and the faith is true, they end up at the same place,” Santorum told CNA in an early October interview.

“Faith and reason. The conclusion must satisfy both.”

Santorum, who served as a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2007, has expressed his support for the Church’s teaching on key social issues.

His Catholic beliefs have drawn attention in the media since he announced his bid for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

“People say that they make their decisions based on their conscience. What forms their conscience?” asked Santorum.

“Clearly for me, as the Church teaches, your conscience is formed by faith and reason,” he said. “And so I apply both.”

Santorum used the example of abortion to illustrate how faith and reason play complementary roles in guiding his political positions.

“The reasoned argument is simply this,” he explained. “At the moment of conception, scientifically, biologically, that is a unique human being, with its own DNA. It is unique in the world, and it’s alive, so it’s a human life.”

“And I don’t believe that the Constitution, as written, discriminates between some human life being people and other human life not being people.”

He sees this principle of human dignity in the Fourteenth Amendment, a provision “that was supposed to be cast as broadly as possible, to include people who were not seen as fully human.”

Santorum explained that reason brought him to the conclusion that abortion is wrong, a conclusion that faith also showed him.

“The faith teaches very clearly that life is life at the moment of conception,” he said.

Santorum acknowledged that his Catholicism “gets mentioned a lot” by the media. But the attention does not bother him.

“Bring it on,” he said. “I’m happy to talk about it. It is a part of my life.”

“I’m proud of being a Catholic,” Santorum added. “I’m proud of the teachings of the Church.”

Santorum also said that those who do not share his beliefs should not feel threatened by him.

“James Madison called the First Amendment the ‘perfect remedy,’” he said. “All views are allowed in the public square – people with faith, people without faith.”

“People can make their claims, and we can have a substantive and vibrant debate,” he added.

“No one should feel threatened, any more than I would feel threatened by someone bringing their ideas in.”

Instead, the presidential hopeful welcomes a reasoned dialogue between different viewpoints.

“I may feel challenged by them because they require me to rigorously defend what I believe in and to argue for what I believe in, but that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”

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Pope prays for victims of Turkey earthquake

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2011 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has asked for prayers and appealed for aid for the victims of Sunday’s earthquake in Turkey.

“At this time, our thoughts turn to the people of Turkey hard hit by the earthquake, which has caused heavy loss of life, many missing and extensive damage,” the Pope said at his Oct. 26 general audience in Vatican City’s Paul VI Hall.

“I invite you to join me in prayer for those who have lost their lives and to be spiritually close to the many people who have been sorely tried. May the Almighty support all those engaged in rescue work,” he prayed.

The 7.2-magnitude quake killed at least 461 people and injured 1,350 in the Van region, the Associated Press reports. The disaster flattened many buildings and left thousands of people homeless or afraid to return to damaged houses.

At least 20,000 tents have been sent to the quake zone, where the temperature drops below zero at night.

Caritas Turkey reported that the earthquake was “very severe” and the region is not easily accessible. The Catholic organization has already sent 1,200 sleeping bags. It plans to send blankets, coats, plastic sheeting and other items.

The Turkish government originally said Turkey could handle the disaster alone, but it has now asked 30 countries, including Israel, for emergency supplies like prefabricated housing, tents and containers.

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Pontifical university announces it will not accept directives from apostolic visitor

Lima, Peru, Oct 27, 2011 (CNA) - A legal representative for the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Martin Mejorada has stated that the institution will not accept any instruction from the Vatican-appointed apostolic visitor.

The Vatican sent Cardinal Peter Erdo to the university in order to bring it in line with the Church's norms governing Catholic universities.

According to the newspaper La Republica, Mejorada said on Oct. 24, “(i)n no way will we accept any imposition made by Cardinal Erdo.  We are governed solely by Peruvian law.”
He added that Cardinal Erdo is seen by university administrators as mediator in order to facilitate a resolution to the conflict with the Archdiocese of Lima, which seeks to have a voice on the university’s board of directors.
Earlier this month, Father Luis Gaspar, head of the archdiocesan tribunal said Pope Benedict XVI only names an apostolic visitor “when the Church considers the institution in question to be one of her own assets.  Rome sees the (school) as a university of the Church.”
“When a cardinal apostolic visitor is named, the Holy Father has decided to directly intervene in the (Pontifical Catholic University of Peru)...  It is a last resort to keep PCUP from separating from the Church,” he said.
Fr. Gaspar told the newspaper El Comercio that if the university does not follow the Church’s directives for Catholic universities in the apostolic constitution, “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” it could lose its status as a pontifical and Catholic institution, with “all of the consequences” that this entails.
He noted that Jose Riva-Aguero, who donated the land on which the university is built, stipulated in his will that if the university were to be dissolved, its assets would belong to the Archdiocese of Lima, “so they could be used for education.”

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Reflecting on violent world, Pope says true faith brings peace

Assisi, Italy, Oct 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI used his address at the World Day of Peace gathering in Assisi to reflect on how faith brings peace to the world and how its abuse can lead to violence.
“It is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force,” the Pope said to world religious leaders in the Umbrian hill town.

The summit, entitled “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace,” was convened to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first World Day for Peace, first held by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

Pope Benedict charted how the nature of the threat of global violence has changed in those 25 years with the decline of the Cold War. And yet, he noted, “violence as such is potentially ever present and it is a characteristic feature of our world.”

He said that today’s post-Cold War “world of freedom” “has proved to be largely directionless, and not a few have misinterpreted freedom as somehow including freedom for violence.”

This violence has manifested itself in two seemingly contradictory fashions—religious violence and anti-religious violence.
The most obvious manifestation of the former, he suggested, is terrorism where “in the eyes of the perpetrators, the overriding goal of damage to the enemy justifies any form of cruelty.” Thus, “everything that had been commonly recognized and sanctioned in international law as the limit of violence is overruled.” In this case, “religion does not serve peace, but is used as justification for violence.”

This plays into the hands of the “post-Enlightenment critique of religion” which maintains that “religion is a cause of violence and in this way it has fueled hostility towards religions.” At the same time, the Pope added, this analysis is not entirely without historical foundation.

“As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith,” he said.

“We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature.”

It is therefore the task of all Christian leaders “to purify the religion of Christians again and again from its very heart, so that it truly serves as an instrument of God’s peace in the world, despite the fallibility of humans.”

Yet the removal of God from human society, the Pope observed, has never resulted in harmony and peace but, instead, the “denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds,” because mankind no longer recognizes “any criterion or any judge above himself.”

“The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence,” he stated.

Such God-less violence is not only true of state-sponsored atheism but also of modern secularized societies where “the worship of mammon, possessions and power is proving to be a counter-religion, in which it is no longer man who counts but only personal advantage.” One obvious but specific example of this, he said, is the illegal drugs trade into which many are “seduced and destroyed” both “physically and spiritually.”

“Force comes to be taken for granted,” in many parts of the world, and so “peace is destroyed and man destroys himself in this peace vacuum.”

Finally, Pope Benedict turned his comments to rise of agnosticism in the modern world. For the first time, the Assisi gathering involved atheist and agnostic representatives.

Agnostics, he said, are people “to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God.” While they do not simply assert “there is no God,” they still suffer from his absence and yet, said the Pope, they are “inwardly making their way towards him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness.”

Their presence in society can blunt the “false certainty” of militant atheists but “they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property,” such that they would “feel vindicated in using force against others,” he said.

Pope Benedict also acknowledged that the agnostic’s search for God can sometimes be hindered by the behavior of religious believers, “so all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible.”

The Pope concluded by assuring all gathered that “the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world.”

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Groups boycott anti-Christian play in Paris

Paris, France, Oct 27, 2011 (CNA) - A group of Parisians boycotted the opening of a theatrical play titled, “On the Concept of the Face in the Son of God,” by Italian playwright Romeo Castellucci.

During the show, the lead actor defecates numerous times in front of a painting of Christ.
The controversial 55 minute play features the story of an incontinent elderly man who suffers from diarrhea.  He defecates continuously on the white stage that has as a backdrop of the 16th century painting by Antonello de Messina titled, “Salvator mundi.”
The story ends with a group of children running on stage in front of the painting of Christ under the caption, “You are not my pastor.” 
On Oct. 20, the opening day of the play, 10 young people from the group “Renouvau Francais,” which according to the newspaper La Croix, is linked to the Society of St. Pius X, stormed the stage carrying a large banner that read, “Enough Christophobia!” Staff members became aggressive with them and when the police arrived the group was forced out of the hall.
Castellucci complained about the boycott in a letter to the group in which he defended his work, calling it “spiritual and Christ-like.” The theater hosting the play has sued the young people for disturbing the peace and violating freedom of artistic expression.
The French Catholic newspaper La Croix, which describes itself as “progressive,” published a story praising the work and condemning the protestors.
The director of the theater, Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, rejected the boycott and argued that the play has been presented in more than a dozen European countries without provoking “any such kind of reaction.”
Alain Escada, the general secretary of the Civitas Institute – which is linked to the Lefebrvrists –  was unsuccessful in his attempt to keep the play from opening.  He said he was pleased with the boycott.
He expressed satisfaction that “at the debuting of these obscene and blasphemous shows in Paris, the indignation of Christians has been expressed with dignity and resolve, without overkill, despite everything the media puts out to misinform people.”
The spokesman for the French bishops’ conference, Bishop Bernard Podvin, told  AFP news agency, “(t)he Catholic Church in France condemns the violence that has taken place during recent shows” and at the same time “promotes dialogue between the culture and the faith.”
After noting that the Church “reacts when it is necessary, with determination and always through peaceful means,” he said the bishops’ conference “supports freedom of expression that is respectful of the sacred.”
As citizens of France, he said, Catholics want their faith to be respected.

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Assisi delegates commit to peace, pray separately

Assisi, Italy, Oct 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Over 300 delegates from 50 countries gathered today in Assisi to commit themselves to global peace, but, as expected, they did not pray together.
The papal-led party set off early this morning on a chartered train from the Vatican’s seldom used train station. Along the 125 mile route, the engines three times slowed down to 10 miles per hour to allow the local people in the towns of Terni, Spoleto and Foligno to cheer the Pope as he passed by. Upon arrival in Assisi, the Pope was met by cheering crowds who waved a welcome banner written in German.

Today’s summit, entitled “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace,” was convened to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first World Day for Peace, begun by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

The delegates first gathered in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, where they were welcomed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

“The experience of these 25 years invites us even more intensely and with a great sense of urgency,” said the Cardinal Turkson, “to re-commit ourselves today, with the gift of reason and the gifts of faith, to become more and more pilgrims of truth and make our world a place of greater and greater peace.”
His address was followed by a short film recalling the events of the inaugural Assisi gathering in 1986. Most of the pilgrims watched the movie on large television screens outside the basilica.

Back inside the church, the summit then heard from a long succession of religious leaders—some Christian and others not—including an atheist philosopher.

Bartholomew I, the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, explained how their dialogue was not an exercise in seeing all religions as equal but, “on the contrary, the vision that we praise is inter-religious dialogue,” he said. This dialogue “has a very special sense, which comes from the ability of religions to invest in the same field of society to promote peace.”

The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, praised Blessed Pope John Paul II as a man who “believed passionately that the concerns of human beings in our age for justice and stability were matters that demanded a common witness from people of faith, without any compromise of our own particular convictions and traditions.”

The speeches by Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Williams were followed by words from other Christian leaders as well as representatives of Judaism, Yarubaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and, finally, the French philosopher Julia Kristeva representing non-believers.
She noted that “for the first time homosapiens are capable of destroying the earth and themselves in the name of their beliefs, religions or ideologies,” while simultaneously, “for the first time men and women are able to reassess in total transparency the human religious impulse which is innate.” Kristeva asserted that the diversity of today’s meeting in Assisi showed that “the hypothesis of destruction is not the only possibility.”

The delegates were then addressed by Pope Benedict himself who called upon all humanity to honestly seek truth and peace together.
“It is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force,” the Pope said.

Following the meeting in the basilica, Pope Benedict and the delegates made their way to a nearby Franciscan convent for “a frugal lunch,” followed by a period of silence for individual refection and prayer. Unlike the past Assisi gatherings, the day did not include any common prayer.
The Pope’s thinking on such matters – and the Assisi meeting in general - was revealed in a letter published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Oct. 26. The letter was written earlier this year to a long-time friend and Lutheran pastor who allowed the contents to be made public at a conference in Rome earlier this month.

“I understand very well,” wrote the Pope to Pastor Peter Beyerhaus on March 4, “your concern about participating in the encounter of Assisi. But this commemoration would have been celebrated in any case, and, in the end, it seemed to me the best thing to go there personally, in order to try to determine the overall direction.”

“Nonetheless,” said the Pope, “I will do everything I can to make a syncretistic or relativistic interpretation of the event impossible, and to make it clear that I will always believe and confess what I had called the Church's attention to with ‘Dominus Iesus.’”
Later on in the afternoon the Assisi delegates made a joint pilgrimage to the final resting place of St. Francis, where they renewed their common commitment to peace.

At a ceremony outside the church where the saint is buried, the Pope said that today’s event “is an image of how the spiritual dimension is a key element in the building of peace.”

“From my heart, the Pope said, “I thank all of you here present for having accepted my invitation to come to Assisi as pilgrims of truth and peace and I greet each one of you in Saint Francis’ own words: May the Lord grant you peace – ‘il Signore ti dia pace.’”

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US Catholic group urges all faiths to fight for religious freedom

Washington D.C., Oct 27, 2011 (CNA) - Members from the group Catholic Advocate are launching a nationwide campaign inviting people from every faith to mobilize for the protection of religious liberty in the U.S.

“No other president in American history has so blatantly chipped away at our religious liberties,” group vice president Matt Smith said in an Oct. 27 statement.

Smith cited the current administration's refusal to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, allowing taxpayer dollars to go towards abortion providing organizations like Planned Parenthood, and lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research as among several examples.

He also pointed to the governments decision to strip “conscience protections for health care workers, and refusing to meet with or respond to our Catholic Bishops’ concerns.”

“This isn't just a Catholic issue,” Smith added, “it's a religious liberty issue that affects all Americans of faith.”

The campaign includes a web video titled “Common Ground” and a petition calling on President Obama to enact the promises he made during a commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in 2009.

“In this televised address, he spoke of the importance of cooperation and seeking the common good on decisive issues like abortion, saying: ‘When we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do—that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground,'” Catholic Advocate president Deal Hudson said, recalling the president's speech. 

“But without action, words are just words.”

The campaign comes as several U.S. bishops have recently issued strong words on the topic, including the bishop conference's top advocate for religious liberty, who recently urged Congress to protect the right to religious freedom in America.

“Religious liberty is not merely one right among others, but enjoys a certain primacy,” Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., said in his Oct. 26 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution.

“Not coincidentally, religious liberty is first on the list in the Bill of Rights, the charter of our Nation’s most cherished and fundamental freedoms,” he said.

Bishop Lori was named as the first chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty on Sept. 29, 2011.

The new committee was announced by bishops' conference president Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York last month, who said the group was born out of the bishops unanimous concern over the recent attacks on religious freedom.

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