Archive of March 20, 2012

Cardinals launch drive to restore St. Patrick’s Cathedral

New York City, N.Y., Mar 20, 2012 (CNA) - Restoring St. Patrick’s Cathedral will help the church’s mission continue centuries into the future, Cardinals Timothy M. Dolan and Edwin F. O’Brien said in remarks as they launched a capital campaign.

“If these majestic spires are to remain strong and lofty, if this cathedral’s once-sure foundation is to continue to bear the burdened prayers of millions who kneel here annually in humble petition, sacrifice no less than that of the poverty-stricken Catholics of the 1850s and 60s will be called for – and with some urgency,” Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Archbishop emeritus of Baltimore, said in an early morning homily at the cathedral on March 17.

Outside the cathedral, before the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan announced the $45 million first phase in the massive restoration project.

NY1 News reported that Cardinal Dolan said, “Since I arrived three years ago, we together have heard the chant, ‘Archbishop Dolan, tear down this scaffolding. Rebuild this church.’”

The lower façade of the cathedral has been covered with scaffolding for what the cathedral website called “essential structural and safety repairs.”

Another $125 million is needed for the second and third phases of the restoration, which will involve completely repairing the church interior and the church grounds.

Missing and loose mortar must be replaced to avoid further damage, while the stained glass windows need restoration and repair. A new garden and a public green space for reflection and meditation are also in the plans.

Cardinal O’Brien, a native New Yorker who is now grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, reflected on the cathedral’s more than 130 years of history.

The cathedral’s cornerstone was laid in 1858. The cathedral itself was dedicated in 1879.

“In the ensuing years since, decade after decade until now, how many have sacrificed, and far beyond their means, to help shore up these sacred walls!” he remarked.

“Within these walls the tears of the nation have been shed, through all the three wars and the innumerable crises and tragedies of the last century and a quarter; surely, and most poignantly, in the laying to rest of many dozens of 9/11 heroes whose loved ones chose this cathedral to give them final honor.”

Cardinal O’Brien’s homily urged sacrifices “in thanksgiving for the freedom of religion” which is “in startling peril at recent first signs of not so subtle government strangulation.”

He invoked the patronage of St. Patrick, whose feast was celebrated Saturday.

“Make us worthy of this cathedral, Patrick, help us restore this cathedral!” he said.

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Wis. sex ed measure supports local control, parent involvement

Madison, Wis., Mar 20, 2012 (CNA) -

Children, parents, and communities will benefit from Wisconsin's newly-passed bill allowing different types of sex education in public schools, according to the state's Catholic conference.

“Science is confirming what natural law and Catholic faith express: that human beings flourish best when they live balanced, authentic, and integrated lives of love and responsibility,” said Barbara Sella, associate director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, explaining her support for the bill.

“Everyone deserves to hear this message, but especially children and adults who may be struggling with poverty, broken marriages, or infidelity: 'There is another way.'”

Sella spoke to CNA on March 19, about the bill that is expected to be signed into law after its March 13 passage in the state assembly. It repeals a 2010 law that forced school districts either to offer one mandated and controversial curriculum, or give students no sex education at all.

Wisconsin's Catholic conference, which represents the local church in matters of public policy, was one of several groups supporting a change from what Sella called an “all or nothing” approach.

Under the new bill, schools remain free to offer “comprehensive sex education” that includes information on contraception and other advice on “safe sex.” But they may also offer an abstinence-based curriculum, or a “dual track” program teaching abstinence alongside other approaches.

Districts can also choose not to provide sex education, as was allowed under the 2010 “Healthy Kids Act.”

With the expected signature of Governor Scott Walker, that law will be replaced with the similarly-named – but critically different – “Strong Communities/Healthy Kids Act.”

In addition to the provision for abstinence-focused and dual-track programs, the bill makes other curriculum changes that Sella says will encourage responsibility and respect for life. Students will learn about prenatal development and birth, parental responsibility, and the benefits of marriage.

They will also learn that abstinence is the only fully reliable way to prevent pregnancy as well as sexually-transmitted diseases – a fact emphasized by the Center for Disease Control in its own literature, according to Sella.

While these changes are likely to find approval among Catholics and other people of faith, Sella stressed that they were not an attempt to impose religious principles on the public.

“As Catholics we know that human sexuality is an astonishing gift that can lead to authentic love, new life, and the nurturing of children in safe, loving homes,” she noted.

“But what is also becoming evident is that this teaching accords with what the biological and the social sciences are telling us about human reproduction, marriage, child-rearing, and family.”

She described the “Strong Communities/Healthy Kids Act” as a “measured, tolerant, and inclusive piece of legislation,” and noted that it “does not seek to prohibit comprehensive education. School districts that want to continue offering comprehensive sex education will be able to do so.”

But Sella expects that time will show the benefits of an approach that promotes maturity and responsibility, over a curriculum focused on minimizing the harms of risky behavior.

“A number of school districts may not adopt it,” she said of the abstinence-focused option. “But little by little, as long as there's an opening, we'll see over time who does the best.”

“Over time, I think people will say: 'Look at that – that seems to work,'” she predicted.

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Southern Catholic boom advances plans for seminary, monastery

Charlotte, N.C., Mar 20, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

A community of cloistered nuns and a future regional seminary plan to occupy newly purchased property in Cleveland County, N.C., to serve a flourishing Catholic population.

The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration and the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Te Deum Foundation will acquire 484 acres valued at $2.9 million in Mooresboro, which is about 60 miles west of Charlotte.

“Most seminaries only teach how to close parishes, cluster parishes, and how to administer to several parishes in light of dwindling numbers of Catholics,” the foundation said on their website. “Praise be to God that this is not a problem in the South!”

The planned seminary, for which 151 acres have been set aside, will be the only one in Georgia, Florida and North and South Carolina, the Catholic News Herald reported. Seminarians from the Diocese of Charlotte currently attend seminaries in Maryland, Ohio and Rome. 

The Te Deum Foundation website said that seminarians in Southern dioceses would be “blessed” to be able to stay in their own region. In addition to the necessary academics and formation, they could learn how to approach “the everyday challenges of living in the 'Bible Belt'” as well as how to open parishes and build churches.

The Catholic population in the region is said to be rapidly increasing, as the Diocese of Charlotte expects to reach 120,000 by 2030 – twice its current population.

For their part, the Poor Clares plan to build a permanent monastery for their community, which has lived in a temporary monastery in Charlotte since moving from Ohio in 2010. They noted that the first thing that will be built in the 333 acres allotted to them is a chapel.

“We figured if we put the Lord first, do His building first, He will provide for ours,” Mother Dolores Marie, abbess of St. Joseph Monastery, told the Catholic News Herald.

The order plan for a cloister of 40,000 square feet, including interior courtyard space, areas for recreation and prayer, an infirmary and a cemetery.

The Te Deum Foundation is a non-profit organization that operates separately from the Diocese of Charlotte to support seminarians in their education.
Corrected at 10:34 a.m. MST: Article incorrectly stated that the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration and the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Te Deum Foundation purchased the 484 acres at $2.9 million. Instead, the two acquired the land valued at $2.9 million.

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Bishops' religious freedom chair named new Archbishop of Baltimore

Baltimore, Md., Mar 20, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops' committee on religious freedom, as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore on March 20.

“The very thought of serving and leading the nation's 'Premier See' fills me with joy and also with profound gratitude, first and foremost to the Lord who shepherds his people in love,” said Bishop Lori, referring to the long-standing national primacy of the first Catholic diocese established in the U.S.

Archbishop-designate Lori's installation will take place May 16 at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. In an announcement from the Baltimore archdiocese, the new archbishop-designate thanked the Pope for entrusting him with leadership of the “great and historic” local Church.

As the Vatican announced Archbishop-designate Lori's appointment, it also revealed the Pope's choice of new bishops for Rockford, Ill. and Pensacola-Tallahassee in Florida, as well as a new Archbishop of Montreal, Canada.

In Montreal, Cardinal Archbishop Jean-Claude Turcotte will be succeeded by his auxiliary Bishop Christian Lepine. Rockford's bishop-designate is Milwaukee-based pastor Monsignor David Malloy, while the Pensacola-Tallahassee diocese will be headed by Father Gregory Parkes from the Orlando diocese.

Meanwhile, Bishop Lori's new appointment to Baltimore comes almost exactly 11 years after he was installed – on March 19, 2001 – in his most recent post as the Bishop of Bridgeport, Conn.

In the announcement of his new appointment, Bishop Lori thanked Baltimore's two past archbishops, Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien and Cardinal William H. Keeler, “and their predecessors stretching back to Archbishop John Carroll.”

He declared that he was looking forward to meeting and working with “all whose witness to Christ and whose spirit of loving service enable this historic archdiocese to proclaim the Gospel afresh in our times and bring its truths and values into the public square.”

Cardinal O'Brien, who led the Baltimore archdiocese from 2007 until his 2011 appointment to an international position, welcomed Archbishop-designate Lori and thanked Pope Benedict for the appointment. 

“I have known Bishop Lori for many years and have been impressed by his deep love of the Church and her people, and by his extraordinary work both as Bishop of Bridgeport and as a valued leader on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,” said Cardinal O'Brien.

He noted that the outgoing Bishop of Bridgeport had “solidified the foundation of that local Church in many key areas, most especially Catholic education, evangelization, and priestly vocations,” while also serving the U.S. Church more broadly in areas such as marriage and the protection of children.

“This Archdiocese has been blessed with many outstanding leaders through the years and our Holy Father has continued this tradition with the naming of Bishop Lori as the 16th Archbishop of the Premier See,” Cardinal O'Brien stated, promising his “prayers and encouragement.”

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Women in White insist on attending Cuban papal Masses

Havana, Cuba, Mar 20, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The leader of Cuba's Women in White protest group says recent harassment by state police will not deter them from their peaceful defense of human rights and from attending the Masses Pope Benedict will celebrate during his visit to the country March 26-28.

“The Cuban government has intensified the repression and violence against human rights activists. In the face of repression, we become more united and stronger. We shall continue united and attempt to participate in the Masses in Santiago and Havana,” group leader Berta Soler told CNA.

On March 17, government agents arrested group members as they commemorated the ninth anniversary of what's known as the Black Spring of 2003, when 75 political dissidents were arrested. 

Although several other members were also detained on Sunday on their way to Mass at the Church of St. Rita in Havana, most who were arrested over the weekend were released that evening.

Soler said the government is attempting to dissuade them from attending the papal Masses during Pope Benedict's upcoming trip to Cuba. 

“We will not be frightened by repression,” Soler said. “We have a right to participate in the Mass the Holy Father will celebrate because he is God’s representative on Earth.

She said the Raul Castro government does not want the Women in White to continue their peaceful struggle for the release of all political prisoners in Cuba and claims that local authorities have no qualms about threatening to “put them in jail for fifteen years.”

“In Cuba there is no real freedom of movement, freedom of expression or freedom of association,” she added.

Soler said the Communist regime regularly deports opposition leaders from one city to another within Cuba. “The women who were not from Havana were detained and deported to Matanzas, Holguin and Santiago,” she said of those who were not released on Sunday.

Soler said her husband, Angel Moya – who was one of the original dissidents arrested in 2003 and later released – is among those who have been detained since March 18.

She underscored that the group will “continue our peaceful struggle for the release of all political prisoners, because we are also defenders of human rights.”

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Pope gives three new bishops to US dioceses

Washington D.C., Mar 20, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI appointed new bishops on March 20 for the dioceses of Baltimore, Md., Rockford, Ill., and Tallahassee-Pensacola, Fla.

The Pope filled the position for the oldest U.S. archdiocese of Baltimore on Tuesday with Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who serves as chairman of the U.S. bishops' committee on religious freedom.

Monsignor David Malloy, former general secretary of the U.S. bishops' conference, will take over the apostolic duties of the Diocese of Rockford, Ill. while Father Gregory Parkes will become bishop of Tallahassee-Pensacola.

“I look forward to the opportunity,” Bishop-designate Malloy said during a March 20 press conference.

He said that as bishop, he will especially focus on promoting vocations and continue to work for better catechisis of the faithful, although he is already very impressed with the diocese's devotion to the sacraments and service of the poor.

Bishop-designate Malloy said that fostering vocations to the priesthood is especially important because  priests are very often “the most immediate impact” of the Church.

Improvements to education programs will be of great importance to his role as bishop because people, especially the youth, are “hungry” to know the truth of their faith.

Although there is a “heavily secular presence” in society, Bishop-designate Malloy said that there is already a “real kind if renewal” happening in the Diocese of Rockford and he hopes to continue it.

Before appointing Bishop-designate Malloy to the diocese of Rockford, Ill., Pope Benedict accepted the resignation of his predecessor, 76-year-old Bishop Thomas G. Doran, who had served the diocese as bishop since 1994.

As former Vicar General and Chancellor for Canonical Affairs in Orlando and pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Celebration, Fla., Bishop-designate Parkes said that his appointment as bishop is “a moment you never prepare for.”

However, he believes that “when the Lord calls us to do something, He also gives us what we need to accomplish it for his Glory.”

His noted that his first duty as bishop will be meeting the faithful of Tallahassee-Pensacola along with the religious and clergy.

“I look forward to getting to know you and this beautiful and diverse diocese,” Bishop-designate Parkes said in a March 20 statement.

Bishop-designate Parkes will succeed Bishop John H. Richard, who submitted his resignation in March 2011 due to health reasons.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who has served as the diocese's apostolic administrator since last March, said that the Pope made “an excellent choice” in his appointment.

“Bishop-designate Parkes has served me very well,” Archbishop Wenski said in a March 20 press release, “he is a good priest and a holy man.”

Along with three new U.S. bishops, the Pope appointed Bishop Christian Lepine on March 20, formerly the Auxiliary Bishop of the archdiocese of Montreal, Canada, as the archbishop of that archdiocese.

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Mexicans encouraged to not compare Pope Benedict to John Paul II

Leon, Mexico, Mar 20, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A local archbishop encouraged Catholics in Mexico as they prepare to welcome Pope Benedict for his March 23-25 visit to the country to not compare him to Blessed John Paul II.

In an interview with CNN Mexico, Archbishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon said “All of the Popes are equal and deserve our respect and adherence, regardless of whatever their personal charism might be.”

“I think we need to say this to everyone, so that they don’t expect to see Pope Benedict as a repeat, or crudely put, as a clone of Pope John Paul II,” he said.

The archbishop expressed his hope, however, that just as with the apostolic visits of Blessed John Paul II, Pope Benedict's trip would also inspire many vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

Archbishop Rabago said the papal trip is an honor for the state of Guanajuato, which “together with Aguascalientes and Jalisco, has the highest percentage of Catholics in Mexico, with nearly 94 percent.”

He called the pontiff's visit “a reward” as well as “an acknowledgment of the fidelity of this people to the Catholic Church.”

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Apostolic visitation calls for overhaul of Church in Ireland

Vatican City, Mar 20, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

A two-year investigation into the Church in Ireland has concluded that “widespread” dissent from Catholic teaching is hampering its renewal.

The investigation, which was ordered by Pope Benedict XVI, “encountered a certain tendency, not dominant but nevertheless fairly widespread among priests, religious and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the Magisterium,” concluded the report, published in Rome March 20.

“It must be stressed that dissent from the fundamental teachings of the Church is not the authentic path towards renewal,” the report stated.

The findings are based on an “apostolic visitation” of Ireland’s four archdioceses, religious congregations and seminaries. The Vatican called upon the services of several senior clerics, many of Irish descent, to lead the visitation including Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

Solutions to Dissent

It described the level of dissent as a “serious situation” which requires “particular attention” directed towards “improved theological formation.”

This includes “the need for deeper formation in the content of the faith of young people and adults,” as well as a “broad and well planned ongoing theological and spiritual formation for clergy, Religious and lay faithful.”

The report also calls for “a new focus on the role of the laity” so that they can “give witness” in society “in accordance with the social teachings of the Church.” The “contribution of the new Ecclesial Movements, ” must be harnessed more effectively to “reach the younger generation and to give renewed enthusiasm to Christian life,” it added.

Finally, a “careful review” is needed of the “training given to teachers of religion” in schools and parishes to “ensure a sound and well-balanced education.”

Today’s report was welcomed by the hierarchy of Ireland, with Cardinal Seán Brady, Primate of All Ireland and President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, describing it as “a helpful snapshot of a key moment in the ongoing journey of renewal,” as well as “a signpost to future priorities and directions.”

The apostolic visitation was announced by Pope Benedict XVI in March 2010 as part of his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics in Ireland. He expressed his sorrow and regret towards those who had suffered abuse by Church figures, stating that “you have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry.” The visitation was one of his “concrete initiatives” to “assist the local Church in her path of renewal.”

Impact of Abuse

The visitation’s report expressed “a great sense of pain and shame” over clerical abuse and found that the scandal had “opened many wounds within the Irish Catholic community.”

Lay people have “experienced a loss of trust in their Pastors,” many priests and religious have “felt unjustly tainted by association with the accused in the court of public opinion,” and others “have not felt sufficiently defended by their Bishops and Superiors.” In turn, many bishops and superiors “have often felt isolated as they sought to confront the waves of indignation” and at times “have found it difficult to agree on a common line of action.”

At the same time, the visitation was “able to verify that, beginning in the 1990s, progressive steps have been taken towards a greater awareness of how serious is the problem of abuse.” It applauded progress made in both the Church and society towards dealing with the problem.

The visitation was happy that new national guidelines for child safety were being followed and suggested that the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church “should continue to receive sufficient personnel and funding” from the relevant Church authorities.

It’s also important that those authorities “continue to devote much time listening to and receiving victims,” as well as “providing support for them and their families.”

Seminary Issues

The report says that the Church needs to show “greater concern for the intellectual formation of seminarians” to ensure that their education is “in full conformity with the Church’s Magisterium.”

It suggests that the pastoral training of seminarians be re-evaluated to ensure “it is sacramental, priestly and apostolic” and concerned with “preparing candidates to celebrate the sacraments and to preach.”

It also states that the seminary buildings should be “exclusively for seminarians of the local Church and those preparing them for the priesthood” to “ensure a well-founded priestly identity.” There had been concern in recent years that there was insufficient separation between the seminarians at St. Patrick’s College and the secular students of the National University of Ireland, which are both situated in Maynooth in County Kildare.

The major superiors of religious orders also have to design new programs to focus on “living their vows in a contemporary context,” in accordance with “the Apostolic Tradition of the Church’s teaching” and the “charism of the founder of the Institute.” This should be done with a view to “revitalizing communities of prayer, community life and mission.”

There will also be a review of the number and structure of dioceses in Ireland. It will be aimed at making them “better suited to the present-day mission of the Church in Ireland.”

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Sainthood cause advances for US Jesuit and Soviet prisoner

Allentown, Pa., Mar 20, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The inquiry into the sainthood cause of Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J., a missionary who was imprisoned in the Soviet Union for 23 years, has taken a “major step forward” with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints issuing a declaration that the investigation is valid.

“This breakthrough in the process is very encouraging and a testimony to the commitment and dedication of all those involved,” Bishop John Barres of Allentown said March 19.

The Diocese of Allentown’s investigation into the priest’s life, virtues and reputation for sanctity is valid, the congregation declared. The congregation transferred responsibility for the cause to the Diocese of Allentown from the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, N.J., in 1996.

The diocese’s inquiry into Fr. Ciszek’s reputation for holiness collected materials and documentation, including testimony from 45 witnesses. It also gathered the priest’s published and unpublished works and forwarded them to Rome in 2006. At the congregation’s request, in 2011 it sent additional documentation from the Father Ciszek Center in Shenandoah and from the Jesuit archives in the U.S. and Rome.

“This is a major step forward in the effort to see Fr. Ciszek canonized as the saint of the Church,” Matt Kerr, the Diocese of Allentown communications director, told CNA March 20.

“Fr. Ciszek grew up in Shenandoah, in a small town upstate here. The church where he was baptized is still an active church in the diocese.”

The ruling means that the focus of the cause now shifts from the local diocese to Rome.

Msgr. Anthony Muntone, the diocesan co-postulator for Fr. Ciszek’s canonization cause, said the next phase of the process involves a presentation from the Roman postulator, the writing of a biography, and the compilation of the information proving Fr. Ciszek’s heroic virtue.

Nine theologians will then examine the information to determine whether the priest heroically exhibited the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.

If the theologians agree that Fr. Ciszek’s life showed heroic virtue, they will recommend his cause to the bishops and cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to study. If that congregation approves, Pope Benedict XVI will receive the results of the inquiry and decide whether to declare Fr. Ciszek “venerable.”

Upon papal approval, Fr. Ciszek’s cause will then investigate any claims of miracles before he can be officially recognized as a saint.

Fr. Ciszek was born in 1904 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1928 and was ordained in 1937, after being trained to say Mass in the Russian rite.

After two years in Poland, he used the chaos of World War II as cover to enter the Soviet Union so that he could minister to Christians who lived under Communist persecution.

He was arrested by the Soviet authorities as a supposed spy in 1941. His imprisonment included torturous interrogation, solitary confinement and years of hard labor near the Arctic Circle. Despite the dangers, he said Mass in secret and heard the confessions of other prisoners.

When he was not imprisoned, he also ministered to several parishes.

The priest was returned to the U.S. in a spy exchange in 1963.

He recounted his trials and reflected on their spiritual meaning in his popular memoirs “He Leadeth Me” and “With God in Russia.”

Fr. Ciszek died at Fordham University in New York on Dec. 8, 1984.

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