Denver, Colo., Jun 15, 2012 (CNA) - Countering critics who include former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Bishop James D. Conley of Denver has defended the end of Catholic grants to the Compañeros immigrant resource center, saying that the Church cannot oppose “same-sex marriage” while funding those who advocate it.
“This is not the consequence of conservative pressure being put on the church or some kind of an internecine culture war,” said Bishop Conley, the Archdiocese of Denver’s apostolic administrator, in the Denver Post June 14. “This is the consequence of the basic integrity of Catholic doctrine: We can't claim to work for our beliefs and at the same time work against them.”
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development ended a $30,000 annual grant to the Pueblo, Colo.-based Compañeros immigrant center. The grant made up half of its annual budget.
The organization is a founding member of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and has representation on the board of directors.
Bishop Conley said the organization has done “very good work” to help immigrants, but has also been involved in organizations which “actively flaunt” Catholic beliefs about human sexuality, the family and justice.
The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition is an active supporter of homosexual advocacy and is a backer of a contentious civil unions bill that would grant same-sex couples the same rights as married couples in Colorado. The coalition has sponsored a community organizing retreat with the Gay and Lesbian Fund and has said that One Colorado, an LGBT advocacy group, is a “sister coalition.”
Catholic Campaign for Human Development rules bar grants to organizations in coalitions with organizations whose positions are contrary to Catholic teaching.
Bishop Conley said it is “natural” for the Catholic Church to support work it believes in, like helping immigrants.
“But Compañeros chose to partner with organizations that pursue a decidedly non-Catholic agenda and, logically, the Catholic Church chose to stop footing the bill,” he explained.
The bishop said Compañeros administrators help direct the immigrant coalition and “have aided its promotion of a political agenda that runs counter to foundational principles of Catholic doctrine.”
Former Gov. Bill Ritter, a pro-life Catholic Democrat, in a May 1 opinion piece for the Denver Post contended that the bishops’ anti-poverty efforts are “being compromised in pursuit of a divisive, conservative political agenda.”
He suggested that children would go to bed hungry or an immigrant mother would be denied prenatal care because an organization “does not meet a conservative litmus test.” He said the end of the grant seemed to him to be “a drastic departure” from how American Catholics try to practice their faith. He said it is hard for him to believe how the Catholic hierarchy thinks the move is “a winning proposition.”
Bishop Conley said in his June 14 response that while he has “great respect” for Ritter, the former governor “seems to expect the Catholic Church to abandon its beliefs in the face of public opinion.”
The bishop said marriage is “an institution written into our very being” and its redefinition is an “impossibility.” He also emphasized that all people have the dignity of being made in God’s image “regardless of sexual inclination.”
Opponents of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s decision not to renew the grant said they have raised over $60,000 for Compañeros.
The Democrat-leaning Catholics United Education Fund collected $7,000 in partnership with the organization WithCharityForAll.org.
WithCharityForAll.org’s Maine-based founder, attorney George Burns, was an opponent of the successful Maine ballot initiative Question 1, which in 2009 restored the definition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman after the state legislature voted to recognize same-sex “marriage.”
The Gill Foundation donated $30,000 to Compañeros as a matching grant. The Gill Foundation was founded by the Colorado homosexual activist and multi-millionaire Tim Gill, who has used his wealth to target political leaders who do not support homosexual political causes.
Vatican City, Jun 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The ethics of sports will be the focus of a new initiative launched June 14 by two Vatican departments.
“Where is the world of sport moving? Where does the phenomenon of violence between soccer fans come from? What about match fixing? Doping?” asked Monsignor Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, the Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
In a June 14 interview with CNA, Msgr. Sanchez de Toca y Alameda described the world as being “choked by the market, which is suffocating the values promoted through sport.”
He believes that the ethics of sports are “interesting to all of society,” and it’s for that reason that the pontifical council wants to start a debate about it.
The initiative will be a joint venture between the Pontifical Council for Culture’s new department dedicated to Culture and Sport and the Pontifical Council for the Laity’s Church and Sport Section, which has been in operation since 2004.
Both will work closely with the John Paul II Foundation for Sport, which was launched by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to England in 2010.
Father Kevin Lixey of the Pontifical Council for the Laity explained to CNA that the new initiative “is collaboration between the two Vatican departments.” He was keen to stress that the new project will be a “school of thought” that will have an intellectual and practical focus.
“Obviously the contribution of the Pontifical Council for Culture is more about culture and ours is more about pastoral ministry but, nevertheless, it is a synergy,” Fr. Lixey said.
The launch of the new Vatican initiative comes in the middle of a summer of sport. Soccer’s European Championships are currently being hosted by the Ukraine and Poland, while next month will feature the opening of the 2012 Olympics in London.
In terms of a display of sporting virtues, however, Fr. Lixey is most looking forward to the summer’s “other” Olympics that gets underway in London in August.
“I am more and more interested all the time by the Paralympics” because one can see athletes “compete at a high level, having overcome even more obstacles,” he said.
“They show in a very palpable way a great strength of will power, great human strength, which touches me deeply.”
Philadelphia, Pa., Jun 15, 2012 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles told a gathering of seminary teachers and staff that they must study the American culture in order to form priests who can better serve the Church.
“We need to understand our culture — in order to convert it,” the archbishop said June 10 at a conference for seminary formators that was jointly sponsored by Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and Saint John Vianney Center.
Archbishop Gomez said in his address that seminary staff, faculty, and formation personnel should ensure that the formation they provide is not only multicultural, but counter-cultural, so that the future priests will be able to “counteract our American culture.”
He pointed the seminary leaders toward the examples given by some of the first missionaries in America, who were “serious students of the indigenous cultures.”
Archbishop Gomez noted that those early missionaries “studied these cultures in order to transform them,” and he urged the seminary teachers to form men who can “sanctify our culture with the values and vision of the Gospel.”
The Church's mission, he recalled, has always been “to make disciples of all nations.”
“That means transforming every culture so that those cultures serve the human person in his search for the living God and for salvation,” he said.
The Los Angeles archbishop also dedicated part of his talk to commenting on priestly formation in a multicultural context, questions of cultural integration and the use of psychology in seminaries.
He said that while it is essential to challenge the culture, especially one that is “highly sexualized and materialistic,” those who form American seminarians must teach them to “be sensitive to cultural differences.”
Many traditional “assumptions about spirituality and prayer” have been formed from a European context, but, Archbishop Gomez noted, the “seeds of the Gospel have been sown in every culture.”
“The challenge for us is to learn together from all of our Catholics traditions” in order to form more well-rounded priests who can, in turn, serve a more diverse population, he said.
In order to reach a broader group, those who prepare future priests should be open to taking “advantage of this rich variety” among Catholics in the United States.
The best way for a priest to transform the culture, the archbishop said, is to live in a way that attests “to the reality of Jesus Christ and to the power of his Gospel to change lives and save souls.”
“The world will be converted — not by words and programs — but by witnesses.”
Atlanta, Ga., Jun 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City encouraged his fellow bishops to make use of new communications methods in proclaiming the unchanging truths of the Catholic faith.
“The challenges of this moment in communications technology are a boundless opportunity for evangelization,” he said, if the bishops are willing to both “speak and listen.”
Bishop Wester observed that in an age of significant, rapid and ongoing change, “the world of newspapers has been turned upside down” and new devices are transforming “how we communicate.”
“The truth of our faith has not changed,” the chairman of the communications committee for the U.S. bishops’ conference said. “But the people of our dioceses are living in a new world.”
Bishop Wester delivered a report at the spring general assembly of the bishop’s conference, which was held June 13-15 in Atlanta, Ga. He explained that the bishops’ communications committee has been examining how the New Evangelization should look in the modern world.
This involves identifying the best overall communications practices, developing digital content to meet the needs of different audiences and striving to build a “culture of innovation,” he said.
Resources aimed at “Catholics living their vocations in secular environments” must make use of everyday language, symbols and practical applications, Bishop Wester explained.
This means that the bishops need to adopt a “new business model” for their communications work, he said.
“We all acknowledge that communication in the digital world goes both ways,” he said. In the “age of transparency,” online news and resources are expected to allow for readers to reply digitally.
While the bishops’ conference will continue to produce print products, it will also make increasing use of video, e-books and the Internet, he noted.
Among the conference’s efforts in this area is the launch of an e-book version of the Catechism and the building of a TV studio with the ability to receive a satellite feed from the Vatican. In addition, a new social network has been created exclusively for the bishops to share information among themselves.
The vital importance of communicating with major media outlets was also discussed during the meeting.
Bishop Wester said that the conference is “sharpening” its media relations efforts. As a part of that plan, the bishops are considering the possibility of choosing a spokesperson for the conference who is available for immediate comment on important issues.
This could be an important communications development, they emphasized, because every second counts in responding to important national events, and the current process required to issue a statement – which sometimes takes a day or two – is often too long.
In a world where the “new platforms of communications are continually shifting,” the bishops cannot meet present and future challenges “without embracing a culture of innovation and experimentation in communications,” stressed Bishop Wester.
He explained that while the paradigm shift may initially be uncomfortable, the Church can adjust to the new tools of the day, just as it did when film was introduced as a tool for evangelization.
“We have to be in the digital conversations, and we have to listen as well,” he said.
Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops' conference offered its praise for a June 15 presidential order halting the deportation of younger immigrants who would have been eligible for benefits of the proposed DREAM Act.
“This important action will provide legal protection, and work authorization, to a vulnerable group of immigrants who are deserving of remaining in our country and contributing their talents to our communities,” said migration chairman Archbishop Jose H. Gomez in a response to the announcement.
The young people affected by the executive order “are bright, energetic, and eager to pursue their education and reach their full potential,” he said. Up to 800,000 unauthorized immigrants, brought to the U.S. as children, may apply for a work permit and a deferral of possible deportation.
President Obama announced the plan at a press conference on June 15, saying the measure was “not amnesty,” nor “immunity” or “a path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants. He described the limit on some deportations as “the right thing to do” for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
His plan allows some unauthorized residents, who are under age 30 and arrived before age 16, to avoid deportation if they have been in the U.S. for five consecutive years. They must have a U.S. high school diploma, a GED, or a record of military service. Immigrants with a criminal background are excluded.
Qualifying residents can apply for a two-year work permit that can be renewed indefinitely. The president, however, noted that the move was “not a permanent fix” to the immigration question.
The move is seen as a partial fulfillment of the DREAM Act, a failed legislative bid to give citizenship to qualifying immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally during their youth. The U.S. bishops' conference supported the plan in 2010.
In its response to the executive order, the bishops' migration committee reaffirmed its support for the DREAM Act, saying Friday's action was “no substitute” for its enactment.
Archbishop Gomez urged “elected officials of both parties to take this opportunity to work together to enact this important law, which would give these youth a path to citizenship and a chance to become Americans.”
The U.S. bishops' conference also stressed the need for “bipartisan efforts to enact comprehensive and humane reform” to fix the country's “broken immigration system.”
Melbourne, Australia, Jun 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
On June 15 Pope Benedict officially erected the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross for Anglican groups and individuals who want to enter full communion with the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Dennis J. Hart of Melbourne, the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, assured former Anglicans of “a warm welcome in the Catholic Church throughout Australia,” and offered his “respect and admiration” for the “gifts” that Anglicans bring.
“For them and for us, this is a very special moment on which we pray the blessings of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of Our Lady of the Southern Cross,” he said.
In an interesting twist, Pope Benedict named former Anglican bishop Harry Entwistle as the first ordinary of the group, making his appointment effective as soon as he was ordained a Catholic priest, which happened on June 15.
Archbishop Hart welcomed Fr. Entwistle, saying he and his people have “made a long journey.”
The ordinariate is a special church jurisdiction similar to a diocese. Pope Benedict XVI announced the ordinariates for former Anglicans in his November 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus.”
They allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while retaining aspects of their liturgy and customs.
The decree establishing the new ordinariate came from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls,” the decree said. “As such, throughout history, the Church has always found the pastoral and juridical means to care for the good of the faithful.”
Fr. Entwistle said that membership is open to former Anglicans who accept what the Catholic Church believes and teachers, as well as to former Anglicans who have previously joined the Catholic Church. Those who have close family members in the ordinariate may also join.
The Pope has also created ordinariates in England and Wales and the U.S. Their leaders welcomed the Australian ordinariate.
Msgr. Keith Newton, the ordinary of the England and Wales Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, said he is “very pleased” to hear of Fr. Entwistle’s “encouraging” appointment.
“Fr. Entwistle has a wealth of experience from his Anglican ministry in England and in Australia, and I look forward to working with him closely as we seek to articulate the vision of ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus,’” he said June 15.
Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, the head of the U.S. Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, also welcomed the news.
He offered support for Fr. Entwistle’s “important work” in making a home for Anglicans in Australia who have been “called by God to full communion with the Catholic Church and the rock from which we were hewn.”
“May God bless Fr. Entwistle as he launches this new endeavor in the vast lands of ‘down under,’” Fr. Steenson said.
Fr. Entwistle was born in Lancashire in England on May 31, 1940.
He studied at the University of Durham and was ordained for the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn in 1964. He emigrated to Australia in 1988. He has served as a parish priest and a prison chaplain.
In 2006 he joined the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, which is part of the Traditional Anglican Communion. He was ordained a bishop for that church body in November 2006.
He married Jean Barrett Bolts in 1967 and has a married son and a single daughter.
Fr. Entwistle said Pope Benedict has made it “very clear” that Christian unity is not achieved by agreeing on “the lowest common denominator.” Those who join an ordinariate “accept the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith,” he said.
Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In a call for broader religious exemptions, the Catholic Health Association has backtracked from its initial support for the Obama administration’s compromise on a rule that mandates employer coverage of contraception and sterilization.
The association said it is “imperative” that the administration abandon its “narrow” definition of religious employer and exempt not only churches but also Catholic hospitals, health care organizations and other Church ministries.
It said it is “deeply concerned” by the administration’s approach to “contraceptive services, especially abortifacient drugs and sterilization.”
The Catholic Health Association represents over 600 hospitals and 1,400 other health facilities in all 50 U.S. states. It is the largest group of nonprofit health care providers in the U.S.
The June 15 letter from CHA president and CEO Sister Carol Keehan and other association board members addressed the Department of Health and Human Services about the proposed rulemaking to implement the Obama administration’s intended accommodation announced on Feb. 10.
However, when the accommodation was initially presented, Sr. Keehan said in a Feb. 10 statement that the Catholic Health Association was “very pleased” with the White House’s proposal and that it “protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions.”
“The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed,” she said.
“We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished,” Sr. Keehan stated.
The CHA statement was circulated by a White House official before the Obama administration announced the proposed accommodation, a fact that prompted speculation the CHA had input into the proposal.
But in its June 15 letter, the CHA changed its tone. It said the announcement had seemed to be “a good first step” but further study “has not relieved our initial concerns.”
The HHS mandate requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs, as “preventive care” for women. Its religious exemption applies only to employers whose primary purpose is the inculcation of religious values and who primarily employ and serve co-religionists.
Catholics and other believers have objected that the exemption does not include many religious employers such as health care systems, colleges, and charities.
Initial outcry after the Jan. 20 announcement of the mandate caused the Obama administration to propose that insurance companies, not employers, be required to provide the coverage.
The proposed accommodation was deemed unacceptable by the U.S. bishops and many legal experts, college professors and religious freedom advocates from a variety of political and religious backgrounds.
The CHA’s June 15 letter reiterated the association’s support for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which gave the Department of Health and Human Services the power to mandate the controversial coverage.
The association said it had objected “strenuously” to the narrow definition of religious employer in September 2011 when the mandate was being formulated.
Its letter does not mention the conscience rights of objecting Catholic employers who run secular businesses, though the general counsel of the U.S. bishops conference has noted this problem.
The association said that if the government intends to provide access to contraceptive services to all employees, it should “find a way to provide and pay for these services directly without requiring any direct or indirect involvement of ‘religious employers,’ as broadly defined.”
The Catholic Health Association was a major backer of the 2010 health care legislation. Sr. Keehan received one of the pens that President Obama used to sign the bill into law as a token of thanks. The bishops opposed the bill on several grounds, including what they said was a lack of sufficient safeguards against abortion funding.