La Paz, Bolivia, May 10, 2012 (CNA) - In response to recent violent protests in the country, the Bishops of Bolivia called on public authorities to avoid confrontations in order to bring about authentic and responsible dialogue.
Conflict broke out after public transportation workers went on strike for 48 hours. The situation was made worse by a simultaneous strike by doctors and paramedics in the public health care system.
In a statement posted on their website, the bishops underscored the need to reach agreements “out of respect for the common good of all Bolivians.”
They stressed that negative attitudes such as intolerance, confrontation or the imposition of ideas or laws do not contribute to the building of the democratic society that Bolivia needs.
“The country’s problems are profound and need to be resolved by taking into account the views and contributions of all those who live here,” the bishops said.
They also defended the right of the indigenous community to hold an upcoming march to demand respect for their legitimate aspirations.
“We hope that initiatives that divide people, provoke confrontations and fundamentally falsify the truth will be avoided. Once again we strongly reaffirm that the only path is honest, sincere and transparent dialogue, oriented towards the common good,” they added.
Raleigh, N.C., May 10, 2012 (CNA) -
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh thanked North Carolina voters for passing a marriage amendment that gives constitutional protections to the definition of marriage.
“I express my sincere gratitude to the people of North Carolina who voted for marriage in the referendum completed today,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh said May 9.
He said that the amendment ensures that the definition of marriage as “the faithful and exclusive union of one man and one woman” is “in accord with God’s design and in keeping with the very nature of this sacred vocation.”
Unofficial returns show that North Carolina voters approved Amendment 1 by a margin of 61 to 39.
“We are thankful that the state legislature put the decision in the hands of the people, the overwhelming majority of whom made it clear that they want to maintain and protect the traditional definition of marriage,” Diocese of Raleigh spokesman Frank Morock told CNA May 9.
North Carolina law already recognized marriage as the union of a man and a woman, but supporters of Amendment 1 said constitutional protections were necessary to prevent legislative action or a judicial decision from changing marriage.
“The vote to make the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman part of the North Carolina Constitution guarantees that it will remain an essential and enduring institution of society that will not change from generation to generation,” Morlock said.
The amendment recognized marriage as “the only domestic legal union” valid in North Carolina, precluding the legislature from passing civil unions legislation. Courts have used the precedent of civil unions to overturn marriage amendments in states like California.
The pro-Amendment 1 campaign was led by the organization Vote for Marriage, which drew support from many churches. Supporters of the amendment included the 93-year-old Evangelical Christian leader Rev. Billy Graham.
Voters have passed marriage amendments in 31 other U.S. states. Nineteen states have amendments baring same-sex civil unions.
Morlock said there is a need for Catholics and other traditional marriage supporters to “remain diligent” on the issue.
“Continued prayer and education on the question will be essential. A fair number of those who were opposed to the amendment were young adults, who undoubtedly have been influenced by where our culture is today,” he said.
“That will make it a major challenge to overcome, but one worth undertaking for the good of society.”
President Barack Obama opposed the North Carolina amendment. He publicly opposed “gay marriage” in his 2008 race for the White House, but his administration has been working to advance homosexual political causes and he previously described his position on marriage as “evolving.”
On May 9, he declared that he now supports “gay marriage.”
In North Carolina, Amendment 1 supporters received less funding than opponents.
Vote for Marriage raised more than $1 million, including $425,000 from the National Organization for Marriage.
The Coalition to Protect All N.C. Families, an amendment opponent, raised more than $2 million, including nearly $500,000 from the Human Rights Campaign, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Morock said that the Catholic support for Amendment 1 made it clear that Church teaching upholds “the immeasurable dignity and equal worth of all persons.”
Bishop Burbidge called for prayers.
“I ask that you join me in praying that whatever divisions may have occurred during this referendum process may be healed by the grace of God and a mutual renewed commitment by all people of good will, so that we may together build a society reflective of the unity that is ours as members of God's family,” he said.
Denver, Colo., May 10, 2012 (CNA) - A proposal to create civil unions died in the Colorado House on May 8 in the contentious final days of the legislative session, but the issue could revive because Gov. John Hickenlooper has called for a special session to address the bill.
The bill had died in the House Judiciary Committee in 2011. Opponents thought it would stall again in 2012, but one Republican legislator on the committee voted to advance the bill for a full House vote.
On the evening of May 8, House Republicans filibustered in committee and on the House floor. Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty called a recess and then announced an impasse, leading to the death of the civil unions bill and more than 30 other proposals.
Gov. Hickenlooper said his staff would decide what bills will be addressed in the special session, according to the Denver Post.
Civil unions will “certainly” be on the agenda, the governor said.
The special session could begin as early as Friday.
Supporters of the civil unions bill believe they have enough votes to pass the Republican-controlled House, including Republican Speaker pro-tem Kevin Priola.
In January Bishop James D. Conley, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Denver, said the proposal is “dangerous and unjust” and described it as a “stepping stone” to the redefinition of marriage.
“We do not know the long-term consequences of creating a parallel for marriage, distinct from its ancient and natural meaning. But we do know they will be severe,” he said in his Jan. 11 column for the Denver Catholic Register.
Washington D.C., May 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum has formally endorsed Mitt Romney for president, voicing confidence in Romney’s stance on key issues such as marriage and family.
Santorum said it's clear Romney “understands that having pro-family initiatives are not only the morally and economically right thing to do, but that the family is the basic building block of our society and must be preserved.”
The endorsement was announced on May 8, shortly after the two men, who were previously rivals vying for the Republican nomination, met to discuss the future of the GOP campaign.
Santorum had surprised political analysts with several key successes during the primary season, despite having limited funding and needing to cancel several events when his youngest daughter, Bella, was hospitalized twice during the campaign.
When he suspended his bid for president on April 10, Romney became the presumptive GOP nominee.
Santorum explained that he decided to wait on the possibility of issuing an endorsement until after having met with Romney to discuss the critical issues in the election.
This opportunity came on May 4, when he spent more than an hour in a one-on-one meeting with Romney in Pittsburgh. He described the conversation as “candid, collegial and focused on the issues,” adding that it was a “very productive” discussion.
Santorum said that a commitment to American values led to his victories in 11 states during the primary. He believes that Romney shares a commitment to those values, including life and marriage.
“The family and its foundational role in America's economic success, a central point of our campaign, was discussed at length” during the May 4 meeting, he said.
“I was impressed with the Governor's deep understanding of this connection and his commitment to economic policies that preserve and strengthen families.”
While he acknowledged that the primary campaign “made it clear that Governor Romney and I have some differences,” Santorum also emphasized their numerous areas of agreement, including a dedication to reducing taxes, spending and the size of government.
“We certainly agree that abortion is wrong and marriage should be between one man and one woman,” he added.
He also made the observation that “personnel is policy,” encouraging Romney to build a strong team of staff members and advisors who will support him as he moves forward in the campaign.
The former Pennsylvania senator explained that he intends “to keep lines of communication open” with Romney and his campaign, in order to help “ensure that the values that made America that shining city on the hill are illuminated brightly by our party and our candidates.”
He said that he and his wife, Karen, have been praying for Romney and “will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.”
Reflecting on the future of America, Santorum said that the nation is going through fundamental changes under the current administration.
“Freedom and personal responsibility are being replaced with big government dependency,” he explained.
The worth of each human life is under attack, he added, along with “our religious beliefs and freedom.”
These threats make it clear that “President Obama must be defeated,” Santorum said.
Voicing his support for Romney as the Republican nominee, he called for “all hands on deck” to help win “the most critical election of our lifetime.”
Rome, Italy, May 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Three of the four senior staff members at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome are stepping down from their posts after a Vatican investigation concluded Ireland’s seminaries are not doing enough to promote Catholic orthodoxy.
“In colleges there is a constant changeover, maybe after the Apostolic Visitation it is not a bad idea to bring in new people, new ideas and move forward,” Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin told CNA on May 10 in Rome.
Today’s announcement comes in the wake of the March 2012 publication of a two-year investigation – officially called an apostolic visitation -- into the health of the Irish Church. The visitation of Irish seminaries was led by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.
While the report praised Irish seminary staff for being “dedicated formators” who were “committed to the work of priestly training,” it also called for a “greater concern for the intellectual formation of seminarians” to ensure that their education was “in full conformity with the Church’s Magisterium.”
The report also recommended 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.”
Overall, the visitation found that the renewal of the Catholic Church in Ireland was being hampered by “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.”
The change of guard at the Irish College in Rome will involve the vice rector, Father Albert McDonnell; the director of formation,Father Billy Swan; and the college’s spiritual director, Father Chris Hayden. They will all return to their respective dioceses at the conclusion of this academic year and received new assignments.
The Trustees of the Irish College, (the four archbishops of Ireland) will announce new appointments after they meet later this month.
Archbishop Martin pointed out to CNA that the spiritual director had already “asked to be relieved due to health reasons,” while the vice rector was serving beyond his term of office.
Last year, Father Ciaran O’Carroll took over as the seminary’s rector from Monsignor Liam Bergin, who had held the post for 10 years. He is now teaching theology at Boston College in the United States.
In a May 10 statement, Fr. O’Carroll thanked his three departing colleagues for their contribution to the college’s life and wished them “every blessing and success in their new appointments and for the future.”
Washington D.C., May 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan is charging President Barack Obama with undermining the “very cornerstone of society” by supporting “gay marriage.”
Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, described the president’s endorsement as “deeply saddening.”
The bishops “cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society,” he said in a May 9 statement. “The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better.”
Cardinal Dolan said that the announcement was “not surprising” based on the Obama administration’s previous actions, which “erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage.”
He called for prayer and efforts to “promote and protect marriage” in order to “serve the true good of all persons.”
In an unprecedented move, Obama announced his support for “same-sex marriage” in a May 9 interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts.
“I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” he said.
The announcement came just days after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told NBC's David Gregory that he is “absolutely comfortable” with the idea of homosexual couples marrying.
Previously, Obama had stopped short of endorsing “gay marriage,” saying instead that he opposes discrimination against gay individuals but that his views on the question of marriage were “evolving.”
However, his actions as president have won the praise of gay advocacy groups.
His administration announced in Feb. 2011 that it would not uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal purposes.
He also signed a law repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military.
Obama’s latest statement places him in firm disagreement with presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has signed a pledge to uphold marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Romney was quick to voice his opposition to Obama’s stance.
"I have the same view on marriage that I had when I was governor and that I’ve expressed many times,” he said at a May 9 campaign event in Oklahoma. “I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.”
He explained that states can “make decisions with regards to domestic partnership benefits, such as hospital visitation rights,” but “marriage itself is a relationship between a man and a woman.”
Acknowledging that the issue is “a very tender and sensitive” one about which “other people have differing views,” Romney reiterated his own conviction, which he has held “since running for office.”
Several political commentators have suggested that Obama’s support for “gay marriage” does not reflect the views of the American people and could have a significant political impact in the November 6, 2012 election.
“Marriage was created long before any government came into existence,” said Catholic Advocate president Matt Smith.
He warned that if Obama’s advocacy for same-sex “marriage” succeeds, “Catholic institutions could be forced once again to violate our beliefs.”
“Many faithful Catholics were fooled by clever political rhetoric in 2008,” added Smith. “This year, the anti-Catholic record of the Obama administration should inform their vote.”
So far, 30 states have passed constitutional amendments banning “gay marriage,” including North Carolina, where voters approved such a measure by an overwhelming margin on May 8.
Tony Perkins, president of the D.C.-based Family Research Council, pointed to the recent North Carolina vote as evidence that “redefining marriage remains outside the mainstream of American politics, especially in the critical battleground states and among minority voters.”
He observed that the North Carolina amendment received over 60 percent of the vote in majority-black counties.
A Pew Research Center survey in April 2012 found that only 39 percent of African Americans are in favor of “gay marriage.”
Perkins noted that 10 of 16 key battleground states have passed amendments to protect marriage. He said that Obama’s announcement “ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election.”
Vatican City, May 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Two figures in U.S. Catholic history, a 19th century bishop and a 20th century religious sister, moved closer to possible sainthood with a May 10 decree from the Pope approving their public veneration.
During a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Benedict XVI authorized decrees of “heroic virtue” for the Servants of God Frederic Baraga, the first Bishop of Marquette, and Miriam Teresa Demjanovich of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth.
Both will now bear the title “Venerable,” in the place of “Servant of God.” Catholics now have formal approval to pray directly to Bishop Baraga and Sister Miriam Teresa as intercessors before God.
Thursday's meeting was also notable for the Pope's action in regard to St. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12-century Benedictine nun and author who has long been venerated as a saint. On Thursday, the Pope formally added her to the Church's roster of saints, extending her liturgical feast throughout the world.
Bishop Alexander K. Sample of Marquette announced on May 10 that he was “thrilled beyond words” by the “significant step” toward the beatification and canonization of his predecessor, Venerable Frederic Baraga. Canonization will require two documented and verified miracles through his intercession.
Born in Slovenia during 1797, Baraga came to the U.S. as a missionary to Native Americans in Michigan during 1830. Nicknamed the “snowshoe priest” for his preaching journeys in the Upper Great Lakes, he served as the area's first bishop from 1853 until his death in 1868.
Venerable Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, the daughter of Eastern Catholic immigrants from Slovakia, was born in 1901 and lived only 26 years. After graduating with high honors as a literature major, she taught and later joined the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth in New Jersey.
Sister Teresa continued to teach during the last two full years of her life. She also gave a series of spiritual conferences, which were compiled after her death in the book “Greater Perfection.” The conferences stressed the call to holiness for people in every state of life. She died after several months of health struggles in 1927.
Along with the two now-venerable U.S. Catholics, nine other prospective saints were found to have led lives of heroic virtue, advancing them from the title of “Servant of God” to the rank of “Venerable.”
Pope Benedict also gave approval to miracles in the cases of two Italians, the Servants of God Tommaso da Olera and Sister Maria Troncatti. Martyrdom was decreed in the cases of 14 Franciscans killed for their faith in the 16th century, as well as 23 European martyrs of the modern age.
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, May 10, 2012 (CNA) - The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation denounced the Castro regime for jailing prominent Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer for the third time so far in 2012.
Spokesman for the Commission, Elizardo Sanchez, told the EFE news agency that Ferrer was detained on his way to the Czech Republic Embassy in Havana to use the internet, which is strictly controlled by the Cuban government.
Ferrer, who leads the Patriotic Union of Cuba, was intercepted by “three police cars of the State security force.”
Henry Perales, a member of the Patriotic Union, witnessed the detention and said it was videotaped by police. He noted that Ferrer did not offer any resistance.
Sanchez said Ferrer had been in Havana for several days meeting with diplomats from the European Union. “I took him there, and he was brought back to my house by a diplomat,” he explained. Sanchez said the Cuban dissident was “accompanied by someone at all times.”
This is the third time in 2012 that Ferrer has been detained after being released from prison in 2011 thanks to the intervention of the Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega. However, the Communist government only agreed to grant him permission to leave prison instead of suspending his sentence.
Ferrer was detained first in February and later on April 2. The government released him 27 days later but has charged him with “public disorder.”
His brother, Luis Enrique Ferrer, who represents the Patriotic Union of Cuba abroad, warned that the charges could mean he might be sent back to prison. In a video for the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, Luis Enrique said his brother could face another prison sentence on top of the 16 years remaining from his initial sentence.
State police are threatening him with having to spend “the rest of his days in jail,” Luis Enrique said.
Rome, Italy, May 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the American civil rights movement of the 1960s should inspire Catholics in their response to President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, says Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami.
“Martin Luther King Jr. and others did not impose their views on racial justice but they made a proposal and through nonviolent protest they were able to touch the conscience of a nation and change unjust laws,” Archbishop Wenski told CNA in Rome on May 10.
He described the civil right campaign led by King as “in essence a religious movement.”
The Archbishop of Miami is in Rome this week on his “ad limina” visit to the Vatican. He watched from afar yesterday, however, as President Obama told ABC News that it was “important” for him to “go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
Archbishop Wenski said he was not surprised by President Obama’s statement as “his administration seemed to be moving in that direction.” He also believes that as a “shrewd politician,” the President must calculate that his stance “is not going to hurt him politically,” although the archbishop said “that remains to be seen.”
He noted that although in the 2008 U.S. General Election Florida was “carried easily” by Barack Obama, on the same day Floridians voted to uphold a traditional definition of marriage. Earlier this week votes in North Carolina also approved a constitutional amendment effectively banning same-sex marriage or civil unions by a margin of almost two to one.
Archbishop Wenski now hopes that the people of the United States will continue to recognize that marriage “is necessary for the flourishing of human society” and that to move away from that “without understanding fully the consequences” seems “to be very foolish.”
“So we have the President of the United States urging the nation to embark in a foolish direction,” concluded Archbishop Wenski.
“Oftentimes people tend to want to bend with the wind rather than to face down a gale, whether or not this recent decision of the President is gale at this point I’m not sure, but certainly it might be in the near future and so we do need to stand strong.”