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Archive of November 4, 2011

Researcher thinks Pius XII went undercover to save Jews

Rome, Italy, Nov 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Jewish New Yorker who has made it his life’s work to clear the name of Pope Pius XII of being anti-Semitic believes the wartime pontiff actually went undercover to save the lives of Jews in Rome.

Gary Krupp came across the evidence in a letter from a Jewish woman whose family was rescued thanks to direct Vatican intervention.

“It is an unusual letter, written by a woman who is alive today in northern Italy, who said she was with her mother, her uncle, and a few other relatives in an audience with Pius XII in 1947.” Next to Pope Pius during the meeting was his Assistant Secretary of State, Monsignor Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.

“Her uncle immediately looks at the Pope and he says, ‘You were dressed as a Franciscan,’ and looked at Montini who was standing next to him, ‘and you as a regular priest. You took me out of the ghetto into the Vatican.’ Montini immediately said, ‘Silence, do not ever repeat that story.’”

Krupp believes the claim to be true because the personality of the wartime Pope was such that he “needed to see things with his own eyes.”
 
“He used to take the car out into bombed areas in Rome, and he certainly wasn't afraid of that. I can see him going into the ghetto and seeing what was happening,” says Krupp.
 
Krupp and his wife Meredith founded the Pave the Way Foundation in 2002 to “identify and eliminate the non-theological obstacles between religions.” In 2006 he was asked by both Jewish and Catholic leaders to investigate the “stumbling block” of Pope Pius XII’s wartime reputation. Krupp, a very optimistic 64-year-old from Long Island, N.Y., thought he had finally hit a wall.
 
“We are Jewish. We grew up hating the name Pius XII,” he says. “We believed that he was anti-Semitic, we believed that he was a Nazi collaborator—all of the statements that have been made about him, we believed.”

But when he started looking at the documents from the time, he was shocked. And “then it went from shock to anger. I was lied to,” says Krupp.

“In Judaism, one of the most important character traits one must have is gratitude, this is very important, it is part of Jewish law. Ingratitude is one of the most terrible traits, and this was ingratitude as far as I was concerned.”

Krupp now firmly agrees with the conclusions of Pinchas Lapide, the late Jewish historian and Israeli diplomat who said the direct actions of Pope Pius XII and the Vatican saved approximately 897,000 Jewish lives during the war. Pave the Way has over 46,000 pages of historical documentation supporting that proposition, which it has posted on its website along with numerous interviews with eye-witnesses and historians.

“I believe that it is a moral responsibility, this has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church,” says Krupp, “it has only to do with the Jewish responsibility to come to recognize a man who actually acted to save a huge number of Jewish lives throughout the entire world while being surrounded by hostile forces, infiltrated by spies and under the threat of death.”

Krupp explained that Pope Pius used the Holy See’s global network of embassies to help smuggle Jews out of occupied Europe. In one such instance, the Vatican secretly asked for visas to the Dominican Republic– 800 at a time – to aid Jewish rescue efforts. This one initiative alone is estimated to have saved over 11,000 Jewish lives between 1939 and 1945.

Closer to home, the convents and monasteries of Rome—neutral territory during the war—were used as hiding places for Jews.
 
Krupp speculates that the wartime actions of Pope Pius XII, whose birth name was Eugenio Pacelli, can be further understood in the light of his own personal history. His great boyhood friend was Guido Mendes who hailed from a well-known Jewish family in Rome. Together they learned the Hebrew language and shared Shabbat dinners on the Jewish Sabbath.

Later, upon his election to the papacy in 1939, A.W. Klieforth, the American consul general in Cologne, sent a secret telegram to the U.S. Department of State explaining Pope Pius’s attitude towards Nazism in Germany.

The new Pope “opposed unalterably every compromise with National Socialism,” Klieforth wrote, after a private chat with the pontiff in the Vatican. The two men had got to know each other during Archbishop Pacelli’s 12 years as nuncio in Germany.

Pope Pius, explained Klieforth, “regarded Hitler not only as an untrustworthy scoundrel but as a fundamentally wicked person,” and “did not believe Hitler capable of moderation.” Hence he “fully supported the German bishops in their anti-Nazi stand.”

Krupp describes the reputation of the wartime Pope as both glowing and intact until 1963, when German writer Rolf Hochhuth penned his play “The Deputy.” It portrayed Pope Pius as a hypocrite who remained silent about Jewish persecution.

The Pave the Way website carries evidence from a former high-ranking KGB officer, Ion Mihai Pacepa, who claims that the tarnishing of the Pope’s reputation was a Soviet plot.

Krupp explains how the communists wanted to “discredit the Pope after his death, to destroy the reputation of the Catholic Church and, more significantly to us, to isolate the Jews from the Catholics. It succeeded very well in all three areas.”

But he also firmly believes that a fundamental revision of Pope Pius’s wartime record is now well underway. “The dam is cracking now, without question,” he says.

Ironically, perhaps, Krupp says he meets more resistance when he speaks at Catholic parishes than in Jewish synagogues. “Many Jews,” he explains, “have been extremely grateful, saying, ‘I’m very happy to hear that. I never wanted to believe this about him,’ especially those of us who knew him, who were old enough to know him.”

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Pius X Society leader doubtful of reconciliation with Vatican

Rome, Italy, Nov 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - A British superior in the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X called Vatican attempts to reconcile with the group through a doctrinal agreement “clearly unacceptable.”

Father Paul Morgan, a district head in Britain, said in a November newsletter that despite recent talks between society leaders and Vatican officials, the group is far from agreeing to Rome's proposal. 

On Sept. 14 at the Vatican, Society Superior General Bishop Bernard Fellay was presented with a statement of principles, or “doctrinal preamble,” by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada.

The document outlined points of doctrine that the Vatican needs clarified before finally healing the decades-long rift between the two sides.

If the society consented, they could be offered the status of a personal prelature within the Church—a jurisdiction without geographical boundaries designed to carry out particular pastoral initiatives.

Although the talks in September seemed to leave open the possibility of the society repairing its relationship with the Church, Fr. Morgan's recent comments showed their dissatisfaction with the Vatican's preamble.

After an Oct. 7 meeting among society leaders in Albano near Rome, the group agreed that the  doctrinal statement “contained all those elements which the society has consistently rejected, including acceptance of the new Mass and of Vatican II as expressed in the new catechism.”

“Indeed, the document itself conveys the impression that there is no crisis in the church,” Fr. Morgan said in his online newsletter.

“Hence the stated consensus of those in attendance was that the doctrinal preamble was clearly unacceptable and that the time has certainly not come to pursue any practical agreement as long as the doctrinal issues remain outstanding.”

Fr. Morgan said the group agreed at the meeting that the society should continue pressing its doctrinal stance in talks with the Vatican due to “Rome's persistence in the modern errors.”

The priest also took issue with Pope Benedict's recent interfaith prayer gathering in Assisi. He called the event a “scandal” which “replaces faith with religious liberty as the means to obtain world peace.”

Society leaders, however, were quick to distance themselves from Fr. Morgan's remarks.

The newsletter was removed from the group's website, and in a Nov. 2 statement, leaders downplayed comments that “have been published in the press about the answer that Bishop Bernard Fellay should give to the Roman propositions of September 14th.”

They also emphasized that only the general house “has the competency to publish an official communique or authorized comment on the subject.”

The Society of St. Pius X was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve in 1970 as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council.

It has had a strained relationship with the Vatican since Archbishop Lefebrve consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II in 1988. In 2009, Pope Benedict began efforts to reconcile with the group.

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Contraceptive mandate designed to impact Catholics, CEO tells Congress

Washington D.C., Nov 4, 2011 (CNA) -

The federal government’s new contraceptive and sterilization insurance coverage mandate includes a religious exemption whose language was designed specifically to counter Catholic institutions’ conscience protections, one Catholic health care leader told a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee Nov. 2.

The exemption’s “highly flawed” definition originated in a California debate about a state-level contraception mandate, William J. Cox, president and CEO of the California-based Alliance of Catholic Health Care, told a Nov. 2 hearing of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.
 
The definition was “painstakingly crafted by the American Civil Liberties Union to specifically exclude religious institutional missions like health care providers, universities and social service agencies,” Cox stated.

During the debate, the then-head of Planned Parenthood in California said the wording was designed to close the “Catholic gap” in contraceptive coverage.

The proposed guidelines, announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Aug. 1, mandate that all new healthcare plans cover all FDA-approved birth control, surgical sterilization, and counseling for such services.

An exemption is available only for those religious employers that have teaching religious values as their purpose and primarily employ and serve people who share its religious tenets.

By issuing its rule, Cox charged, the Department of Health and Human Services “turned its back” on the contributions of Catholic health care and “undid centuries of religious tolerance.”

The mandate will have a “disproportionate impact” on Catholic institutions, he added, criticizing the exemption’s “exceedingly narrow” definition of religious employer.

The federal rule is the “most radical” of the 28 states with such coverage mandates. It would include all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and sterilization procedures. It mandates coverage for at least one drug that can cause an abortion when taken to avoid pregnancy.

If conscience rights issues are not addressed, the mandates will force providers and others to choose between “violating their consciences or no longer providing or paying for health care and other services,” he said.

This would end in reduced access to care, especially for “some of the weakest among us,” said Cox, whose organization represents 54 hospitals and more than 40 nursing homes, hospices, assisted living and other facilities and services throughout the California.

Jane G. Belford, chancellor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, told the hearing that if the mandate is not rescinded then its religious exemption would fail to protect “the vast majority of religious stakeholders in the process of providing health insurance.”

“Until now, federal law has never prevented religious employers, like the Archdiocese of Washington, from providing for the needs of their employees with a health plan that is consistent with the Church’s moral teachings.”

Under the new rules, she said, Catholic schools that teach abortion is morally wrong could be forced to pay for abortifacient drugs for their employees. Catholic health clinics that refuse to provide contraception or sterilization for patients could have to subsidize contraception and sterilization for their employees.

“Currently, the archdiocese is free under federal law to offer health benefits coverage that excludes contraception and sterilization,” Belford continued. “We would lose this freedom of conscience under the HHS mandate’s current definition of an exempted religious organization.”

The mandate goes beyond forcing religious institutions to contradict the belief that sterilization and contraception are immoral. Its grant of religious freedom to groups which employ and serve only co-religionists also significantly burdens Catholics’ “deeply held belief that God calls us to serve our neighbors,” she said.

David L. Stevens, M.D., the CEO of the Christian Medical Association, said the religious exemption is “meaningless.” The mandate could trigger a decrease in health care access for patients in underserved regions and populations. It also contributes to “an increasingly hostile environment” for medical students, residents and graduate physicians who face “discrimination, job loss and ostracism” for having pro-life views on abortion, contraceptives and other issues.

He warned that the mandate creates “a climate of coercion” that could prompt pro-life health care professionals to limit the scope of their practice and discourage medical students and residents from choosing careers in specialties likely to involve conflicts of conscience.

“The contraceptive mandate rule sweepingly tramples conscience rights, which have not only provided a foundation for American civil liberties but also a foundation for the ethical and professional practice of medicine,” Stevens said. “The administration should rescind this mandate entirely.”

Stevens’ organization and the Archdiocese of Washington encouraged Congress to pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act.

Cox suggested that Health and Human Services use the definition of religious employer used under the Internal Revenue Code. It should also amend the rule to ensure that individuals and non-religious employers are similarly protected.

“Nearly 160 years ago, the Sisters of Mercy responded with compassion and care when government was unable to tend to the victims of the San Francisco cholera epidemic. Today, it is time for government to honor this noble legacy by strengthening once and for all federal conscience protections so all health care providers today, tomorrow and well into the future can carry out their vocations absent the threat of government discrimination,” said Cox.

Jon O’Brien, president of the dissenting group Catholics for Choice, said his organization represents those who respect others’ right to follow his or her own conscience. However, he endorsed the mandate.

He contended that exemptions threaten the conscience rights of every patient seeking care for services he characterized as “essential health care.”

“It is incredible to suggest that a hospital or an insurance plan has a conscience. Granting institutions, or entities like these, legal protection for the rights of conscience that properly belongs to individuals is an affront to our ideals of conscience and religious freedom,” O’Brien argued.

O’Brien charged that the U.S. bishops and some Catholic organizations are asking to be allowed to deny condoms as part of HIV outreach, to “ban” employees and their dependents from getting “the benefit of no-cost contraceptive coverage,” to opt out of providing emergency contraception to victims of sexual violence, and to “deny abortion care to everybody,” even to women in life-threatening situations.

In 2000, the U.S. bishops said that O’Brien’s organization, then called Catholics for a Free Choice, is not a Catholic organization. It does not speak for the Catholic Church and promotes positions contrary to the teaching of the Church.

Many large foundations back Catholics for Choice. The Ford Foundation, whose trustees now include Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards, gave a $300,000 grant to the pro-abortion rights group in 2011.

In his prepared remarks, House subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) charged that the Department of Health and Human Services mandate is “forcing every single person in this country to pay for services that they may morally oppose.”

“Groups who have for centuries cared for the sick and poor will now be forced to violate their religious beliefs if they want to continue to serve their communities,” he continued. “Whether one supports or opposes the health care law, we should universally support the notion that the federal government should be prohibited from taking coercive actions to force people to abandon their religious principles.”

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Irish government's decision to close Vatican embassy causes disappointment

Dublin, Ireland, Nov 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Irish government’s decision to close its embassy to the Holy See is being criticized by the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
 
“I wish to express my profound disappointment at this decision which means that Ireland will be without a resident ambassador to the Holy See for the first time since diplomatic relations were established and envoys were exchanged between the two States in 1929,” said Cardinal Sean Brady, Primate of All Ireland, in a Nov. 3 statement.

“This decision seems to show little regard for the important role played by the Holy See in international relations and of the historic ties between the Irish people and the Holy See over many centuries.”

Announcing the decision last night, the Tánaiste – or deputy Prime Minister of Ireland -- Eamon Gilmore claimed it had been made solely for economic reasons. He said it followed a review of overseas missions which gave “particular attention to the economic return from bilateral missions.” Given the perilous state of the Irish economy, he said the government had “to cut our cloth.”

Gilmore also announced the closure of embassies in East Timor and Iran.

But his comments have been met with skepticism from some leading Irish Catholics.
 
“What we’re getting with this Labour government is an attack on Catholic schools, an attack on Catholic culture,” Garry O’Sullivan, the editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland radio program.

O’Sullivan argued that the decision was directly connected to the recent fall-out between the Dublin and Rome after the publication of an official report on the handling of clerical abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne, County Cork. The report concluded that the diocese had failed to report nine cases of abuse to the authorities between 1996 and 2005.

“It’s not even two months since this major spat between the Holy See and the Republic of Ireland and suddenly we’re closing our embassy to the Vatican. It’s ill judged,” said O’Sullivan.

Following the publication of the Cloyne Report in July, the Irish prime minister Enda Kenny accused the Vatican of fostering a culture where “the rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’” to maintain “the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation.’”

In response, the Vatican withdrew its ambassador to Dublin for consultations and then issued a detailed 11,000-word response in September, countering each of Kenny’s claims.

Kathy Sinnott, a former Irish member of the European Parliament, told CNA that she finds it “hard to accept the argument that the closure of the embassy to the Holy See is a cost cutting” measure.
 
“Given the blistering criticism of the Holy See by the Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, earlier this year, given that the minister responsible for this decision, Eamon Gilmore, is an outspoken critic of Catholic moral teaching in the area of life and family, and given the government proposal to limit the Catholic Church’s role in education, the ending of one of the Irish Republic’s longest-standing diplomatic missions is very worrying.”

Gilmore stressed that Ireland will continue to have full diplomatic relations with the Holy See, although not necessarily by maintaining an residence in Rome. “Diplomatic relations with the Vatican will continue and they are valued,” he said.
 
At present, the Holy See has diplomatic relations with 179 states, although only about half have ambassadors living permanently in Rome.

The Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., said that “any state which has diplomatic relations with the Holy See is free to decide, according to its possibilities and its interests, whether to have an ambassador to the Holy See resident in Rome, or resident in another country.”

“What is important are diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the States, and these are not at issue with regard to Ireland.”

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Bishop remembers martyrs of Spanish Civil War

Cordoba, Spain, Nov 4, 2011 (CNA) - Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba, Spain has announced that the Church in Spain will remember the martyrs of the Spanish Civil War on Nov. 6.

Bishop Cordoba recalled that this year marks the “75th anniversary of the cruel martyrdom of thousands and thousands of Spaniards who gave their lives for Jesus Christ, openly confessing their faith and sealing it with their blood,” reports Europa Press.
 
“There is no greater love. Around a thousand have already been beatified and thousands more are in the process of being declared martyrs of Christ. In each case the Church carries out a thorough examination of their deaths, the motives for their deaths and how they confronted this supreme moment,” he said.
 
“The martyrs are not those who fall on the battle front in the line of fire, but rather those who were taken from their homes, arrested, taken to prison and executed simply for being Christians,” the bishop explained. “They were executed out of hatred for the faith.”

He noted that the hatred of God and Catholicism “becomes the occasion to express a greater love, a love that dies forgiving one’s executioners, a love that dies singing what is most beautiful in the human heart. Once again, hatred does not have the last word.  The last word belongs to love, because God is love,” he stated.
 
Bishop Fernandez explained that the Church “does not celebrate the cruelty of torture” but rather the “greater love that each one of her children was able to express.”

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Argentinean committee rejects pro-abortion measure

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 4, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Contrary to various media reports, the Committee on Penal Legislation of Argentina’s House of Representatives did not vote to approve a measure that would legalize abortion. 

The clarifications were published on Nov. 3 by Argentinean newspaper La Nacion and the Notivida news agency.

When the House committee met on Nov. 1, only 6 of 31 members voted for the pro-abortion measure.
 
Notivida said the erroneous reports in the media were based on misleading statements by Representatives Victoria Donda and Vilma Ibarra, both supporters of abortion, who claimed the measure passed.
 
La Nacion reported on Nov. 3 that committee chairman Juan Carlos Vega, admitted that it did not have enough votes.
 
Vega “acknowledged that only six  lawmakers voted for the measure, when in reality eight votes were required, as House rules dictate that it must have the support of at least half of the members present (16).”
 
“What happened?” La Nacion asked. “Was it an oversight, an involuntary error by the chairman of the committee or a deliberate intention to lie in order to show that the measure was passed?"

“The entire debate was a mess,” said pro-life congresswoman Cinthia Hotton. “Vega lied twice: he said he had convened all sides to air their viewpoints in a public hearing and this was not the case. He also lied when he announced it had passed, knowing that it had not received enough votes,” Hotton said.
 
“This wasn’t ignorance, but malicious intent,” she added. “This was very irresponsible, especially when dealing with a matter as serious as this.”
 
Once the true outcome of the vote was made public, Vega was forced to throw out the proposal.

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Judge prevents New Jersey hospital from forcing nurses to assist abortions

Newark, N.J., Nov 4, 2011 (CNA) - Federal judge Jose L. Linares issued a temporary restraining order on Nov. 3 that forbids a New Jersey hospital from forcing 12 nurses to assist with abortions. 

“Pro-life nurses shouldn’t be forced to assist or train in services related to abortions. Federal and state law both prohibit this,” said Alliance Defense Fund attorney Matt Bowman.

The court order, which the hospital agreed to, is in effect until a Nov. 18 hearing.

Despite the upcoming hearing, Bowman called it “disturbing” that the hospital “may fight to continue violating laws that clearly protect conscience rights.”

On Oct. 31, the defense fund filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey on behalf of a dozen nurses, who currently work at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey.

According to Bowman, the hospital violated federal and state law by requiring the nurses to perform abortions against their consciences and threatening to terminate their jobs if they refuse.

“These 12 nurses have encountered threats to their jobs at this hospital ever since a policy change required them to participate in the abortion cases regardless of their religious and moral objections,” he explained.

Two of the nurses—Lorna Mendoza and Julita Ching—were both scheduled to assist with an abortion on Friday, Nov. 4.

According to the court order, hospital officials “are restrained from requiring the named Plaintiffs from undergoing any training, procedures or performances relating to abortions pending the Court’s determination on the merits regarding the Plaintiffs’ Application for a Preliminary Injunction.”

The order also prohibits any “employment discrimination” against the nurses until the situation is resolved.

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First US bishops arrive at Vatican for ad limina visits

Vatican City, Nov 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The coordinator of the first delegation of American bishops visiting the Vatican on their “ad limina” visits is impressed with how closely Vatican officials follow events in the U.S.

Starting with today’s group of bishops, 15 delegations will make their way to Rome over the coming months to speak with Pope Benedict and Vatican officials about the health and future of the Catholic Church in the United States.

“I think it is important for the bishops to know that the various Vatican dicasteries and offices understand what is happening in the Church and public society in the U.S. And from our meetings already this morning it is clear that they keep abreast of both,” Bishop Robert C. Evans, Auxiliary Bishop of Providence, told CNA Nov. 4.

Bishop Evans is the coordinator for the first delegation of bishops drawn from the northeastern states of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Their visit will conclude next Wednesday, Nov. 9.

Today, the bishops said Mass at the tomb of St. Peter before going on to meetings with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Congregation for Bishops.

“They were both well aware of challenges facing us and asked our opinions as to what is happening amongst Catholics, different ethnic groups, the practice of our people as well as the challenges we face on things such as health care and evangelization.”

This is Bishop Evans’s first ad limina visit, but he said he is already pleasantly surprised by the Vatican’s emphasis on listening and discussing.
 
“They were genuinely concerned and interested in what we had to say on all these issues, a real thirst for knowledge and information and (it was) done so very respectfully.”

The six-day visit consists of a busy schedule of prayer and meetings with the bishops residing at the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“This afternoon we have two more dicasteries to visit – the Pontifical Council for Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family,” said Bishop Evans, giving an idea of their daily schedule.

On Saturday, they will say Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls, which is the final resting place of St. Paul. The next day they will visit the Casa Santa Maria, the post-graduate residence of the North American College seminary.

Every bishop will also have an audience with Pope Benedict. This morning the bishops from the Province of Boston, who were led by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley O.F.M., met with the Pope. Tomorrow, the bishops from the Province of Hartford will have their chance to meet with Benedict XVI.

The term “ad limina” refers to the Latin phrase “ad limina apostolorum” – to the threshold of the apostles– referring to the pilgrimage to the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul that is required of every bishop. The visits usually take place every five years.

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