Archive of November 22, 2011

CNA reminds Catholics of new translation resource site

Denver, Colo., Nov 22, 2011 (CNA) -

As parishes throughout the English speaking world begin using a new translation of the prayers of the Mass on Nov. 27, Catholic News Agency issued a reminder of its comprehensive resource page on the missal changes.

“The Pope and many bishops are calling this new translation a perfect time for a new 'eucharistic catechesis.' It's a chance for all of us to reflect and pray about what the Mass means and what happens in our celebration of the Eucharist,” said David Scott, editor-in-chief of CNA.

“We have designed our page with just that in mind. It is perfect for parishes seeking resources for catechesis and it is ideal also for individuals looking to study the new translation and to deepen and enrich their Eucharistic spirituality.”

CNA's Welcoming the New Roman Missal page offers spiritual reflections on the new translation and the Eucharistic liturgy from Church leaders, including Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Archbishop George L. Lucas of Omaha, Neb., and Bishop Thomas J.Olmsted of Phoenix, Ariz.

In addition, the page contains exclusive articles written by Scripture scholar, Ted Sri on the biblical roots of the Mass. Msgr. Richard Antall, a pastor and missionary priest, provides a series of reflections on each section of the Mass and the new translation. Louie Verrecchio, offers a lay person's perspective on the changes in his own 10-part series.

The site provides links to the official resources provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as the Canadian bishops’ conference.

The new page also contains links to news, information and instruction regarding the changes.

On May 31 of this year, CNA also launched its Editors Service which supplies a full range of news, features, commentary and photojournalism. All content is provided free-of-charge for publication in print or online, and editors are only required to pay small fees for photos provided by Getty Images, one of the world’s top names in news photography.

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Republican candidates say nation must return to God

Washington D.C., Nov 22, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - America must regain its reliance on God and elect a leader who embodies this value in order to succeed as a nation, said Republican presidential candidates at a recent forum.

“Our rights come to us from our Creator,” said former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, who called this belief a founding American principle in danger of being forgotten.

Six of the top presidential contenders gathered at the First Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa for the Thanksgiving Family Forum on Nov. 19.

The GOP hopefuls included Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), businessman Herman Cain, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

Candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman declined the invitation to attend the event.

Unlike many of the previous debates, the forum did not focus on questions of policy involving health care, social security and the economy. Rather, the candidates were asked to speak about the importance of religion and values in their own lives and in American society. 

Each contender gave his or her thoughts on the phrase, “so help me God,” which is spoken at the end of the oath of office when the president is sworn in at the inauguration.

Congressman Ron Paul said that the words show how the president is promising to “uphold the Constitution and the rule of law” and is making this promise not only before the nation but “before our God, which means the significance is that much greater.”

Herman Cain said that the phrase “means that I am ultimately responsible to God Almighty,” adding that he would literally be “asking for God to help me” in the important job of president.

Texas governor Rick Perry also weighed in, noting that the statement “so help me God” is not a part of the oath of office, but rather a plea to God. He said that being president of the United States is the “hardest job in the world,” and one with a need for the “eternal wisdom” of God.

Candidate Newt Gingrich said that the thought of having an atheist as president “terrifies” him, because such a person would “completely misunderstand how weak and how limited any human being is.”

In her remarks, Rep. Michele Bachmann said that without help from God, America has no hope of what she called getting back on track.

At the forum, the candidates shared personal stories of their own faith journeys and told about the struggles in their lives that had brought them closer to God.

Bachmann spoke of her years as a foster parent, and Rick Santorum was brought to tears as he described the difficulties of having a daughter with special needs.

Cain also expressed emotion as he explained how his battle with cancer led him more deeply into his faith.

The GOP candidates also discussed the task of regaining fundamental values that they believe have been lost in American society.

“Our civil laws have to comport with the higher law,” Santorum said, underscoring that society has a duty to live according to God's principles. As long as issues such as abortion remain legal, “we will never have rest,” he said.

Gingrich also spoke of the importance of acknowledging that rights come from a Creator. “It changes everything else,” he said, adding that losing this fundamental concept has led to an attempt to drive God out of public life, creating a “nightmare” in society.

Cain also noted that asserting “freedom without responsibility is immoral,” and added that people of faith have been “too passive” and allowed themselves to be intimidated by those seeking to eradicate religion from society.

“We have maybe pushed back, but as people of faith we have not fought back,” he said.

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Police blame Maoists, villagers for Indian sister's murder

Jharkhand, India, Nov 22, 2011 (CNA) - Police claim that villagers and Maoist activists killed Sister Valsha John, an Indian religious sister whose death has been linked to her work with native tribes in opposition to coal mining interests.

“We have arrested seven people in the murder of Valsha John,” said Arun Oraon, inspector general of police in Jharkhand's Santhal Pargana division, who told reporters that “villagers in connivance with the Maoists killed her.”

“Around 45 people raided the house of (Sr.) John,” Oraon announced Nov. 20, according to the Times of India. He claimed that “nearly 30 were Maoists,” while “the rest were villagers.”

As of Sunday, the police had arrested seven of the villagers they accused of invading Sr. John's house and participating in her Nov. 15 beating and murder. But they had not managed to apprehend any of the purported Maoists, even as The Hindu newspaper reported they had been traced to a specific squadron.

Jesuit Father Nirmal Raj, provincial superior of his order in the district of Dumka, said he was “confident in the work of the investigators” and would “wait and see” how the case proceeded.

“We know that the nun had played a decisive role in the agreement between the tribal people and the Panem mining company, in order for the parties to agree, even if some did not like the agreement,” Fr. Raj told Fides news agency after Sunday's announcement from the police.

Oraon told BBC News that the Communist revolutionaries resented Sr. John's influence, which he described as a “major block in their way.”

The investigator said the Maoists went on to provoke villagers who favored the work of the Panem corporation. Sr. John, a 53-year-old member of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, had protested Panem's plans, while negotiating an agreement that apparently displeased some locals.

“Over the past few years, there has been marked improvement in the lives of people engaged in direct business with Panem,” the Times of India quote Oraon as saying.

“On the other hand, those who worked with Valsha and got their share of development work allotted by the company to displaced people were not able to make much money. Since they saw Valsha as a hindrance, some villagers joined hands with Maoists and killed her.”

“They thought that once Valsha was out, they would get her share of the (mining) work,” the investigator stated.

According to Oraon, the mob violence also involved an attempt to to keep Sr. John from taking a rape victim to the police.

The investigator described the police account of events as “complex.”

The elaborate theory differs from some suspicions voiced shortly after Sr. John's death, when one of her brothers attested that she had been threatened by a mining “mafia.” BBC News reported on Nov. 17 that police had found Maoist literature near the crime scene, but suspected it was planted as a diversion.

But local sources had also told Fides, prior to Sunday's arrests, that some native supporters of the mining interests might have resented Sr. John's presence and sought to eliminate her.

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Civil rights groups urge Spain's new president to axe abortion law

Madrid, Spain, Nov 22, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Spanish civil rights groups urged president-elect Mariano Rajoy to end the country's support for abortion and endorse legislation that protects the family.

Benigno Blanco, president of the Forum on Family, urged Rajoy to repeal Spain's abortion law as well as “enact real policies” that offer help to pregnant woman.

Mariano Rajoy, leader of the People's Party, was elected president in a landslide victory on Nov. 20. It was the biggest loss ever for the Socialist party, which has led the country over the last eight years under outgoing President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

According to Europa Press, Blanco said the election results show that the Spanish voters have completely rejected the Zapatero administration's pro-abortion stance.

He also called on Rajoy to reestablish marriage “as an institution between one man and one woman” and to strengthen it by revising laws that favor easy divorce and same-sex unions.

Blanco added that the new administration should also work to “reinforce education” and “return to parents their rightful role.”

Ignacio Arsuaga, president of the civil rights website, said his organization offered  Rajoy its best wishes “in the difficult task that lies ahead.” He also encouraged the new president to not only repeal the law on abortion but “promote policies that favor the family and marriage.”

Arsuaga added that Zapatero's leadership over the past eight years has been destructive to Spanish society.

“The electoral misfortunes of the Socialist Party are a symptom of the feelings of a large part of Spanish society that they have been under permanent attack since 2004,” he said.

The board of directors of the organization thanked supporters for working hard to ensure the campaign was focused on “numerous issues of vital importance that would have otherwise been overshadowed by the economic crisis.”

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Peruvian doctors warn against lowering age of consent

Lima, Peru, Nov 22, 2011 (CNA) - Medical experts in Peru warned that lowering the age of consent for sex to the age 14 would lead to abuse and sexual exploitation of minors.

The government has the duty to “protect the physical, psychiatric, moral and social integrity of children and adolescents,” Maita Garcia, president of the National Association of Catholic Doctors in Peru, told CNA on Nov. 21.

Children at the age of 14 are developing and “generally are not sufficiently capable of calculating the consequences of their actions,” she underscored.

“For this reason the principal of parental authority exists, by which the parents answer for them until they are legally adults.”

Garcia made her comments in reference to a lawsuit filed on Nov. 18 by the Medical College of Peru and the Peruvian Institute for Responsible Parenthood challenging the constitutionality of a law that prohibits sexual relations between adolescents in Peru.

“To make it legally possible for them to have sexual relations without having matured enough to exercise their sexuality in a responsible way, will not protect adolescents and could lead to abuse and sexual exploitation,” Garcia stated.

“Would the law also allow prostitution for minors if they consented?” she asked.

Garcia noted that “consent” could “easily be obtained by unscrupulous persons who would curry the favor of these girls by meeting many of their material and emotional needs, which would obviously be an abuse of power.”

“This same consent,” she said, “is often used as a defense argument in accusations of rape.”

Garcia stressed that government leaders should “safeguard the comprehensive health of all persons, particularly those who are weakest and still developing, to protect their dignity, self-esteem and chances for a better future.”

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Vatican conference examines Bl. John Paul’s suffering

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The life, death and legacy of Blessed Pope John Paul II will take center stage at an international conference for health care workers that begins Nov. 24 in Rome.

“We really hope this great Pope – great in life, great in suffering, great in death – will, even after his death, live on in our hearts,” said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, in remarks to CNA.

“Because there is a new generation who only know him through books and through pictures,” Archbishop Zimowski explained, “we have to give testimony to his life and suffering so that people can know the good that John Paul II did for sick people.”

The conference has the theme “Health Pastoral Care, Serving Life in the Light of the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II,” and will run from Nov. 24 to 26. The details of the agenda were officially presented this morning at the Vatican press office. The three-day event is being organized by the pontifical council for health care workers.

As well as giving their personal witness, the organizers also pointed out that Bl. John Paul established the World Day of the Sick and the Good Samaritan Foundation, which he created in 2004 to provide financial support for poor people who are sick, particularly those suffering from HIV and AIDS.

Archbishop Zimowski recalled how at the beatification ceremony for Bl. John Paul, Pope Benedict described his predecessor as “‘a rock’ because he was close to Jesus, but he was also ‘a rock’ in his illness and his sickness.”
A Pole himself, Archbishop Zimowski got to know Pope John Paul over many years, beginning with an encounter while he was still at the seminary in 1967. After that, he regularly met the future Pope – then Cardinal Wojtyla – every fortnight at the University of Lublin. He and other students had breakfast with him, or dinner, Archbishop Zimowski said, calling it a “very great privilege and pleasure to meet him.”

Bl. John Paul made such an impact on the archbishop that he now keeps a reliquary containing a fragment of cloth stained with the late Pope’s blood in the chapel of the pontifical council. It was given to the council by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, private secretary to Pope John Paul.

This week’s conference will hear various lectures and testimonies on the life and teaching of Pope John Paul II, with a special emphasis on the Christian value of suffering and his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (Gospel of Life).

Contributions will come from a range of speakers, including Cardinal Dziwisz and Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, president emeritus of the health care council.

The conference will be attended by nearly 700 participants from 70 countries, among whom will be six ambassadors to the Holy See.

On Friday, Nov. 25, attendees will hear a classical concert in the presence of Pope Benedict, entitled “The Cross, Mercy and Glory.”
“These three categories, presenting the cross, the mercy of God, and His glory, is actually the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because suffering is not an end in itself but it is elevated when it is united with the suffering of Christ on the cross,” Monsignor Charles Namugera from the health care council told CNA.

“And the suffering of Christ, what it shows to the world, is the love of God, the mercy of God. And it eventually elevates the suffering people to the glory of the risen Lord,” he said.

The proceeds of the concert will be given to the Good Samaritan Foundation.

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German bishops to quickly sell shares in porn publisher

Berlin, Germany, Nov 22, 2011 (CNA) -

The Catholic Church in Germany says it will act “without delay” to sell its stake in a publishing company that offers pornography among its products.
“We cannot earn money during the week with what we preach against on Sundays,” Cardinal Joachim Meisner told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper Nov. 22.
The Weltbild Publishing Group is one of Germany’s largest publishers, with an annual income of $2.2 billion dollars, nearly 6,500 staff and book stores on the main street of many German towns and cities. However, it also publishes and distributes nearly 2,500 pornographic titles, largely through their Internet sites.

At present, 12 of Germany’s 27 dioceses own just over 24 percent of the shares in the publishing firm. Some dioceses have already divested themselves of their stock in recent years, including the Archdiocese of Cologne which is led by Cardinal Meisner.

Today’s announcement comes only weeks after Pope Benedict XVI criticized the German bishops for their investments.
“The time has come to take an energetic stance against prostitution and the widespread availability of erotic and pornographic material, also on the Internet,” he told the new German ambassador to the Holy See on Nov. 7.
“The Holy See will ensure that the Catholic Church in Germany takes clear and decisive initiatives against this form of abuse,” promised the Pope.
The news of the Church’s involvement in the pornography business broke just days before the Pope’s intervention. Initially, the German bishops issued a statement that said a “filtering system failure” at the publishing house had allowed the pornographic books to stray onto the market.
However, Berhard Müller, the editor of the German Catholic magazine PUR told the media Nov. 6 that a group of concerned Catholics sent 70-page document to the bishops in 2008 that he said contained evidence Weltbild was publishing pornography as well as books on Satanism and magic. They requested that such publications be stopped right away. “Believers have been complaining to their bishops about this for years,” said Müller.

In a Nov. 22 statement, Weltbild said it welcomed the decision of the bishops as it had been impossible to “adequately restrict the internet-supported dissemination and production of media that contradicted the ideals of the shareholders."

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