Archive of April 23, 2012

Pope condemns human trafficking, sex tourism

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has told a global gathering of those involved in tourism that they must be alert to ethical dangers associated with the travel industry.

“The trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation or organ harvesting as well as the exploitation of minors, abandoned into the hands of individuals without scruples and undergoing abuse and torture, sadly happen often in the context of tourism,” said the Pope April 23.

“This should bring all who are engaged for pastoral reasons or who work in the field of tourism, and the whole international community, to increase their vigilance and to foresee and oppose such aberrations.”

Pope Benedict made his comments in a letter to mark the opening of the VII World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, which is taking place in the Mexican resort of Cancún from April 23 to 27.

The week-long event is organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and brings together representatives from the Church, governments and the tourism industry to discuss the pastoral care of travelers.

The Pope extolled the benefits of free time and travel as occasions for “physical and spiritual renewal” suggesting that it facilitates “the coming together of people from different cultural backgrounds.” He said travel also paves the way for “listening and contemplation, tolerance and peace, dialogue and harmony in the midst of diversity.”

While the Catholic Church was enthusiastic about these positive aspects to tourism it was also its job to point out “and striving to correct, its risks and deviations.”

Just like “every human reality” tourism “is not exempt from dangers or negative dimensions,” he said. Abuses arising from tourism, therefore, were “evils that must be dealt with urgently” as they “trample upon the rights of millions of men and women, especially among the poor, minors and handicapped.”

He labeled sexual tourism as “one of the most abject of these deviations that devastate morally, psychologically and physically the life of so many persons and families, and sometimes whole communities.”

His hope was that the World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism would help create a “different type of tourism.” This could be achieved, he suggested, by rooting their discussions in the social teaching of the Catholic Church.

“Promote a culture of ethical and responsible tourism, in such a way that it will respect the dignity of persons and of peoples, be open to all, be just, sustainable and ecological.”

He concluded by imparting his apostolic blessing to all those participating in the Cancún conference and entrusted their deliberations to “the powerful intercession of the Mary Most Holy under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

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'Moving' film on Cristero war debuts in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 23, 2012 (CNA) - The much anticipated movie “Cristiada,” which recounts the story of the Cristero war in Mexico during the religious persecution of the 1920s, was released in Mexico on April 20.

“This movie is not only going to be entertaining, it also has great potential,” said actor Eduardo Verastegui said. “It is a film that is very balanced, commercial and moving.”

The Mexican actor praised the film’s cinematography and artistic quality, under director Dean Wright and lauded “great acting by a big cast including great actors.”

The movie also stars Andy Garcia, Eva Longoria, Peter O’Toole and the Panamanian singer Ruben Blades in the role of anti-Catholic Mexican president Plutarco Elias Calles.

Verastegui, who stars as Blessed Anacleto Gonzalez Flores in the movie, told reporters his character “was a consistent and coherent layman who always acted in accord with his beliefs and was polite and educated. He used all these resources to defend freedom and the faith, which was the center of his life.”

“This touched my heart, it inspired and challenged me,” he said.

“Morally speaking, the film underscores what is good, beautiful and true in history,” Verastegui added. “This will set a precedent.”

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Widower and father of four ordained a priest in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 23, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Antonio Salvador De Iacovo, an Argentinean widower and father of four, was recently ordained to the priesthood following thirty years of marriage.  

“God will softly lead you, inviting you to follow him from among many options,” Father De Iacovo observed. “God wants us all to be saints, in the place where we are at.”

After the priest's wife passed away in 2007, he decided two years later in 2009 to return to the vocation he was drawn to as a young man.

Archbishop Andres Stanovnik of Corrientes, who presided over his ordination, recalled that Fr. De Iacovo was a fellow seminarian with him in 1968 and 1972.

“In the call of Jesus, (Father De Iacovo) found the answer to this deep desire to follow the Lord and be faithful to him,” the archbishop said. “This makes us think that there were two desires that met: that of Jesus who calls and man who responds to him.”

“Not only are we restless, but the heart of God is also restless for man. He waits for us, he seeks after us, he comes out even when it is late, lest there still be men and women whom no one has invited,” Archbishop Stanovnik added.

The archbishop said the hands and life of the new priest are now “at the disposal of the hands of Jesus” to forgive, console and strengthen the faithful. 

“May his hands and his life be always at the disposal of Christ and his Church, so that many can experience with confidence the forgiveness and mercy of God,” he said.

According to Church teaching, a widower whose children are no longer dependents is eligible to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders.

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Chuck Colson remembered for public Christian witness

New York City, N.Y., Apr 23, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The death of Charles W. “Chuck” Colson drew remembrances from many national and Christian leaders who praised the former political operative’s work in prison ministry, Evangelical-Catholic dialogue and religious freedom advocacy.

“There can be little doubt that Chuck Colson was one of the most important public Christian figures in recent decades. He gave gravitas to the new emergent Christian Right,” R.R. Reno, editor of the interreligious journal “First Things,” told CNA April 23.

“Like Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Chuck recognized that our increasingly secular liberal elites posed a threat to the uniquely religious character of American culture,” Reno said.

“This did not mean he thought the differences between Protestants and Catholics are irrelevant, but he saw that the common challenge joins us together.”

Colson died at a Falls Church, Va. hospital on April 21 at the age of 80. The Naples, Fla. resident became ill March 30 while speaking at a Colson Center of Christian Worldview conference in Lansdowne, Va. He was treated for a brain hemorrhage earlier this month.

A former Marine, Colson served as a Republican political strategist and a self-described “hatchet man” who attacked the enemies of President Richard Nixon. He helped organize illegal actions to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official suspected of leaking a classified history of the Vietnam War to the media, The Washington Post reports.

In August 1973, during intense legal scrutiny amid the Watergate scandals, Colson converted to Christianity. In 1974, he pled guilty to charges of obstruction of justice related to the Ellsberg case and served seven months of a one to three-year sentence in a federal prison in Alabama.

He left prison convinced of the need to crusade for U.S. prison reform including an end to inhumane conditions and prison rape. In 1976 he founded Prison Fellowship, which at its peak attracted 50,000 prison ministry volunteers. It currently has a presence in 100 countries around the world.

Colson then became involved in inter-Christian dialogue and was a signatory to the 1994 document Evangelicals and Catholics Together. He was a key author of the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, which called on Christians to defend human life, traditional marriage and religious freedom. The declaration attracted half a million signatories.

Reno praised Colson for keeping religious faith “at the center of the public witness of Christians who felt called to engage in politics.”

According to the editor, Colson saw that when Protestants and Catholics are joined to “make common cause for the moral truths of the Gospel” they can “rediscover what we share as a common Christian faith.”

Catholic political commentator George Weigel remembered Colson’s “absolute commitment” to reconciling Christian divisions.

“Chuck Colson did not invent the evangelical-Catholic alliance that is one of the most potent cultural forces in 21st century American politics; but he legitimated it for vast numbers of evangelicals who were not altogether sure, twenty-some years, that Catholics were their brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said in a statement provided to CNA.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Colson “inspired tens of thousands of volunteers to heed the words of Jesus to visit Him in prison.”

“By his example, he taught Christians how to fully integrate one's Christian faith with a role in the public realm,” Perkins added. “Chuck Colson challenged us to follow God's instruction to be salt and light in every place that we set our feet.”

Colson’s eulogists included House Speaker John Boehner.

“He was a man who experienced tremendous lows yet went on to spark a movement of ideas and people focused on spiritual transformation,” Boehner said April 21.

“Through the full picture of the life Chuck Colson led, Americans saw that a broken man can accept the gift of redemption and embrace a new life devoted to the service and redemption of others. This will be his legacy.”

Colson is survived by Patty, his wife of 48 years, three children, and five grandchildren.

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Archbishop Sartain praises 'wonderful contribution' of women religious

Rome, Italy, Apr 23, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Peter J. Sartain of Seattle praised American religious women as a “great gift” days after being asked by Pope Benedict to help reform the U.S.'s Leadership Conference of Women Religious. 

“What I hope and pray for every day is that I, first of all, do as the Lord asks and do as the Holy Father asks,” said the archbishop, describing the task of renewal ahead to CNA on April 23.

He said he hopes “to work in a positive way,” recognizing “the wonderful contribution of religious women in the United States, and to work in a way that shows our continued love and support for their extraordinary contribution.”

Archbishop Sartain made his remarks in Rome only days after Pope Benedict XVI also publicly praised the contribution religious women make to the U.S. Church and society.
“In coming months I will have the honor of canonizing two new saints from North America,” the Pope said in a Saturday April 21 address to the Papal Foundation, a U.S.-based charitable institute.

The pontiff described Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and Blessed Mother Marianne Cope – both who are set to be canonized on Oct 21. –  as “striking examples of sanctity and heroic charity” who also “remind us of the historic role played by women in the building up of the Church in America.”

“Those are exactly my views,” Archbishop Sartain echoed, “which makes me very happy because obviously in the United States the role of women has been important from the very beginning.”

The archbishop explained that it was the women religious of Archdiocese of Seattle who were the “pioneers” in the “evangelization of the Gospel, care for the poor and the sick and education,” as happened elsewhere across America.

Controversy ignited, however, when the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ended a four-year audit of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on April 18, concluding that the organization was in the midst of a “crisis” of belief.   

Among its key findings, the assessment documented serious theological and doctrinal errors in presentations at the conference’s annual assemblies in recent years.

Several depicted a vision of religious life that is incompatible with the Catholic faith, the assessment said, with some attempting to justify dissent from Church teaching and showing “scant regard for the role of the Magisterium.”

The document also cited one address which spoke of “moving beyond the Church” and even “beyond Jesus.”

Archbishop Sartain stressed that he firmly believed the vocation of women religious continues to be a “great, great gift” to the Church and the world.

He praised what he called the “total consecration of one’s life, of the life of these religious women to Christ, who in every way are giving themselves in sacrifice and love to be the embodiment of the Gospel itself and to be in relationship with Christ their entire lives.”

“I think it is such a wonderful witness to the world and something I have had the benefit of seeing throughout my whole life and the four dioceses that I have served,” he said. 

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has more than 1500 members, whose congregations represent over 46,000 religious sisters. The average age of membership is 74.

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