Fort Worth, Texas, Jun 19, 2012 (CNA) -
An archbishop and four teachers from Iraq's Kurdistan region are receiving help from a Dallas-based Catholic apostolate, in their effort to expand an English-language school for Chaldean Catholics.
“We’re helping them improve their English to better tell the school’s story,” explained Dr. James Patrick, a senior fellow of the Walsingham Society, in a June 18 bulletin. The group is hosting the teachers along with Archbishop Bashar M. Warda, head of the Archdiocese of Erbil in Iraq's north.
Patrick said his society wants to assist the “small but growing school in Kurdistan,” in order to help members of Iraq's historic Catholic community remain in their homeland. The Chaldean Church predates the growth of Islam, but has suffered massive losses during the Iraq War and its aftermath.
The four visiting teachers are women in their early twenties who, like Archbishop Warda, follow the unique liturgical and spiritual traditions of Chaldean Catholicism. Their city of Erbil is Iraq's fourth largest, and is regarded as a regional capital.
Members of the Chaldean-rite church have established a school – currently granted candidacy status in its pursuit of International Baccalaureate authorization – which teaches students in four grades and will soon expand to eight. Eventually, administrators hope to establish twelve grades and a college.
Founded by graduates and associates of Fort Worth's College of St. Thomas More, the Walsingham Society seeks to promote Christian culture and classical education. Its members are training the archbishop and teachers, who have a basic command of English, in composition and presentation.
Patrick and other Walsingham fellows have been teaching the group for three weeks. “Those who brought them here would be proud” of their progress, the senior fellow said in Monday's update.
“Their visit has helped North Texas, too, to know something about Iraq that has some hope in it,” he remarked.
In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, published June 12, Archbishop Warda recounted the persecution of Iraqi Catholics, while affirming that the country's Christian minority has “the capability to stay and build a good future for Iraq.”
The archbishop told the Register that he hoped to “raise the awareness of the issues in Iraq to build schools and hospitals,” in order to “stay and build the community,” preserving the Chaldean Church's culture and traditions.
The group will leave Dallas on Wednesday, continuing its travels in the U.S. to raise awareness of needs and opportunities within the Iraqi Church.
Correction on June 21 at 11:24 a.m. MST: article incorrectly described school as an International Baccalaureate institution. The school has been granted candidacy status as of this time.
New York City, N.Y., Jun 19, 2012 (CNA) -
Society faces a choice between true human dignity, and a false concept of freedom culminating in the “culture of death,” New York's Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan explains in his new eBook.
This inhumane culture springs from “deeply rooted social, philosophical, and ethical tendencies that, unfortunately, often find their expression in our laws and in our attitudes toward others,” the cardinal writes in “True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty,” released June 19.
“To this culture of death,” he writes, “the Church boldly and joyfully promotes the culture of life.”
In a work of just over 5,000 words, Cardinal Dolan develops Blessed John Paul II's understanding of the natural law, whose God-given principles are known through reason and confirmed by faith. They are the source of the Church's teaching on subjects such as human life and religious freedom.
Cardinal Dolan's eBook aims to propose these principles anew, to a culture suffering what the late Pope called an “eclipse of the sense of God and of man.”
“In only the past few years,” the New York archbishop states, the U.S. has experienced “rampant disregard” for religious faith and human dignity – as shown in the approval of embryonic research, the torture of prisoners, disregard for the definition of marriage, and the federal contraception mandate.
“We can see that there is a loss here of a sense of truth and objective moral norms – rules of conduct that apply always, to everyone, everywhere,” the cardinal observes.
In place of the natural law, society has begun to substitute “pragmatism, utilitarianism, and consumerism,” all of which have no higher goal than the satisfaction of individuals' personal preferences.
These ideologies, Cardinal Dolan explains, have tragic consequences, especially when applied to issues of human life and moral conscience.
In his own archdiocese of New York, 40 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion. “And any effort to curtail this unfettered access to abortion,” the cardinal notes, “is turned back by a culture that places a greater value on 'what I want,' 'when I want,' 'because I want,' than it does on life itself.”
Moral conscience, meanwhile, is also threatened by a governing philosophy that makes no distinction between deeply-held principles, and passing desires.
Cardinal Dolan cites Pope Benedict XVI's famous 2005 warning against a “dictatorship of relativism … whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” He also highlights an address delivered by the Pope to German lawmakers in 2011.
In that speech, the Pope spoke of a “dramatic shift” away from laws rooted in moral principles. In their place stands a “positivist conception of nature” that treats moral beliefs as nothing more than subjective, private preferences.
Citing the Pope's words to the German parliament, the New York archbishop notes that the separation of law from morality “fails to recognize the full breadth of human nature, and in fact both 'diminishes man' and 'threatens his humanity.'”
The real issue in all of these controversies, Cardinal Dolan suggests, is the competition between two visions of freedom: one rooted in human dignity and the natural law, the other arising from efforts to treat morality as subjective and religion as irrelevant.
Quoting Pope Leo XIII, the cardinal teaches that authentic freedom is “that freedom which most truly safeguards the dignity of the human person. It is stronger than any violence or injustice. Such is the freedom which has always been desired by the Church, and which she holds most dear.”
The “True Freedom” eBook contains a set of questions addressed to the country at large, as a cultural and political “examination of conscience”
“Is genuine freedom,” Cardinal Dolan asks, “the license to do what we ought or the ability to do whatever we want? … Is law tethered to objective truth, or is it ruled by a 'dictatorship of relativism'?”
“Should laws be tailored to suit changing wants, demands, or recently discovered 'rights'?” the cardinal asks. “Or should wants, demands, and novel rights be tempered by law to uphold the sacredness of life, the common good, and the objective moral law?”
As the country face these questions, the issue of religious liberty becomes especially urgent.
“Churches and people of faith – not exclusively Catholics and their bishops, although I would hope that we play a leading role – understand the inherent dignity of the human person and serve as a safeguard against attacks on that dignity,” the Cardinal points out.
“If we allow the human person to become a thing, and a human life to become a commodity that can be valued more or less depending on circumstance, political ideology, or current whims,” he warns, “then we have embarked on a perilous path.”
Published by Random House Digital, “True Freedom” is available June 19 for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/True-Freedom-Protecting-Religious-ebook/dp/B0086N7AHY/.
Vancouver, Canada, Jun 19, 2012 (CNA) -
Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver has “strongly” urged the government of British Columbia to appeal a provincial Supreme Court decision to strike down a law banning physician-assisted suicide.
He said the ruling is “extremely flawed and dangerous,” and “sadly reflects a distorted view of equality rights that emphasizes autonomy over human dignity and the value of life.”
“We have been down this road many times around the world, and all the safeguards initially put in place wind up either disregarded or eventually dispensed with,” the archbishop said June 16.
“The result is euthanasia harms not only those whose lives are taken, but those responsible for taking them.”
British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith on June 16 ruled that the law violates the constitutional rights of the three plaintiffs: Gloria Taylor, Lee Carter and Hollis Johnson.
Plaintiffs Carter and Johnson helped Carter’s mother Kay obtain a physician-assisted suicide in Switzerland. Taylor, 64, suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease and has sought a declaration of a right to doctor-assisted suicide.
Justice Smith said the anti-euthanasia law is invalid. However, she suspended the decision for a year to allow Parliament to modify the law to make it constitutional, the British Columbia newspaper The Times Colonist reports.
The ruling grants a constitutional exemption to plaintiff Gloria Taylor, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease. She can apply to a court for access to physician-assisted suicide if she provides written consent, if her attending physician attests that she is near death with no hope of recovery and if the physician and a psychiatrist testify that she is mentally competent.
Lawyer Jason Gratl represented the Farewell Foundation for the Right to Die, which was an intervener in the case. He said the foundation is prepared to help others apply for a constitutional exemption.
He said he believes the government will appeal the ruling, the Toronto Globe and Mail reports.
However, a government spokeswoman said a decision to appeal has not been made.
Julie Di Mambro, spokeswoman for federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, said assisted suicide is “an emotional and divisive issue for many Canadians.”
“Parliament voted as recently as April 2010 not to change these laws,” she said.
Archbishop Miller stressed the need for a true understanding of liberty, which he said includes “the freedom to live one’s life secure in the knowledge that those who care for us are dedicated to the service of life, not the taking of life.”
Lima, Peru, Jun 19, 2012 (CNA) -
Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren of Piura, Peru announced that Vatican officials plan to attend the country's International Theological Congress, held in honor of Pope Benedict's Year of Faith.
In a statement sent to CNA, the Archdiocese of Piura said the event, titled “Rooted in the Faith, Be Strong,” will take place Sept. 27-30 and will be attended by the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio Canizares.
Other attendees will include the secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Dr. Guzman Carriquiry Lecour, and Bishop Eduardo Maria Taussig of San Rafael in Argentina and president of the Argentinean bishop’s Committee on Campus Ministry.
The congress will be held at the Don Bosco Salesian School Auditorium in Piura and will focus on strengthening the faith and sharing the spiritual richness of the faithful in Peru.
Archbishop Eguren will inaugurate the event, while the closing Mass will be celebrated on September 30 by Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima. The Mass will commemorate the 480th anniversary of the founding of San Miguel de Piura, the first colony established by Spain in Peru.
A portion of the registration fees for the event will donated to the renovation of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercies in the town of Paita.
The Pope's Year of Faith will begin on Oct. 11, 2012, which is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. It will conclude on Nov. 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Guidelines issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith explain that the Year of Faith is an opportunity for the faithful to grow in their knowledge about the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism.
Atlanta, Ga., Jun 19, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., emphasized that the U.S. bishops' ongoing efforts to defend marriage are critical in the face of continuing cultural and legal threats.
“Unfortunately, we have come to a point in Western society where the meaning of marriage is being largely eclipsed by a counterfeit version,” he said at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring general assembly, which was held in Atlanta, Ga. on June 13-15.
Bishop Cordileone reported on the work of the conference’s Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, which he leads.
He said that the subcommittee is continuing its catechetical work by advancing its “Marriage: Unique for a Reason” initiative.
It is currently working on a 15-minute Spanish video will present a story based on a 50th wedding anniversary and will highlight the themes of sexual difference, the good of children, the common good and religious liberty, he explained.
Efforts have been made to ensure that the video, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, is a “culturally effective presentation” of the Church’s teaching on marriage.
Two additional English videos are also planned, the bishop said. One will focus on the common good, stressing the social context and meaning of marriage, while responding to arguments of equality and non-discrimination. The other will emphasize the critical connection between marriage and religious liberty.
In addition, he noted, the subcommittee’s staff is continuing “to monitor and develop” its website, marraigeuniqueforareason.org, which was launched last November.
Turning to the legal landscape, Bishop Cordileone observed that “the urgency around the protection of marriage has not abated.”
He said that the past year has been a “significant” one at the state level, with an encouraging victory in May, when North Carolina became the most recent state to approve an amendment defending marriage by an overwhelming margin.
Furthermore, both Maryland and Washington state have broken records with the number of signatures they have garnered on petitions to place referenda rejecting “gay marriage” laws on the ballot in November.
At the federal level, the bishop observed, recent court decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 “now open the door” for both laws to go before the Supreme Court.
He also noted that President Barack Obama recently came out in favor of “gay marriage,” posing a new obstacle to the defense of marriage.
A redefinition of marriage in law “is not and never will be inevitable,” he said, but these threats require constant vigilance and effort.
Bishop Cordileone also pointed to a new social science study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin.
Entitled “The New Family Structures Study,” the survey examined “a very large, nationally-representative and random sample of American young adults – ages 18 to 39 – who were raised in different family or home environments,” including with same-sex couples, single parents, step families, adopted families and married biological parents.
The study measured various areas of wellbeing, including social and economic condition, psychological and physical health and sexual identity and behavior.
In 25 of 40 areas measured, there were “significant statistical differences” between young adults raised with their married biological parents and those raised in other situations. And “in no area were children better off in an alternative arrangement.”
“As this new study indicates, social science continues to affirm that children thrive and do best with their mother and father in an intact home,” said Bishop Cordileone.
The new study is being recognized in the scientific community for its “comprehensive and scientifically respectable approach,” he added. The researchers themselves disagreed about family structures, but agreed to work together on an objective study.
The bishop said that the study can be “a benchmark for further studies and findings.” It also calls into question previous studies that were smaller and more restrictive, often based on
self-selecting samples that were not random, he observed.
In working to defend marriage, he noted, the conference should keep in mind young people, particularly those who have seen or experienced the effects of being raised in a broken family and are yearning for a better way.
“The protection of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is a work of justice and is foundational to the good of all,” he said, “especially for those most vulnerable among us, our children.”
Atlanta, Ga., Jun 19, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops have announced a plan to revise the New Testament of the New American Bible so a single version can be used for individual prayer, catechesis and liturgy.
“The goal is to produce a single translation,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C. on June 14.
As he addressed his brother bishops at the spring meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference, Cardinal Wuerl pointed to the central role of Sacred Scripture in the life of the Church.
He explained that the bishops’ committees on Divine Worship and Doctrine have both expressed a desire for a single translation, suitable for all pastoral applications, including individual prayer, study and devotional use, along with liturgical proclamation.
The new translation would “provide us one source of language when we speak the Word of God,” he said.
The process of creating the new translation will take “a long time” and will consist of numerous lengthy steps, Cardinal Wuerl acknowledged.
The New Testament translation was last revised in 1986. By way of comparison, the translation portion of revising the New American Bible’s Old Testament began in 1994 and was finished in 2001.
The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine will work with the Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Texts, to undertake the revision, he said. The group will “look at those texts to see that they are going to be able to be used for proclamation as well as for ordinary use.”
This work will utilize the same principles that guided the recent revision of the Old Testament in the New American Bible, as well as translation norms for Sacred Scripture, he added.
“The Biblical scholars responsible for the revision will be sensitive then to the pastoral, the doctrinal, the liturgical considerations” as they work to produce a draft, which will then be presented “for review and preliminary approval” by the the Scripture translation subcommittee, the cardinal said.
The committees on worship and doctrine will then have an opportunity to review the texts.
Ultimately, the body of bishops “will be asked to approve the completed Biblical text for liturgical use,” so that it can then be submitted to Rome for the Vatican’s “recognitio,” after which the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference can grant it the “imprimatur.”
At that point, Cardinal Wuerl said, the revised translation of the New American Bible “will be able to be used in the lectionary at Mass.”
“So the end product will be one translation that we will all be using,” he explained, and all of the faithful will be “hearing the same words when we refer to specific texts.”
“That translation will be used in the liturgy, it will be used in study, it will be used in personal devotion, it will be used when we’re simply reading the text,” the cardinal said.
He emphasized that although the process will take a long time, it is currently an ideal time to begin, now that “we have all the pieces in place.”
Vatican City, Jun 19, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The working document that will guide the deliberations of the 2012 synod of bishops on the New Evangelization has been unveiled.
“The purpose of the new evangelization is the transmission of the Christian faith, the urgent task of transmitting to new generations the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, at a June 19 press conference.
The 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will bring bishops from all over the world to Rome from October 7-28 to discuss the theme of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” The gathering coincides with the launch of Pope Benedict’s Year of Faith, which will begin on October 11.
Archbishop Eterovic explained that the working document or “Instrumentum laboris” consists of a preface, introduction, four chapters and a conclusion, which are the fruit of consultations with the worldwide Church for over a year.
Archbishop Eterovic said he hopes the synod would be “an opportunity to discuss and compare points of view and practical experiences” of evangelization.
He then walked through the document and provided a brief explanation of each section to the press.
The introduction begins the text by summarizing the consensus of bishops from across the globe on the need “for new tools and new forms of expression to make the Word of God more understandable in the life of modern man.”
The first chapter is entitled “Jesus Christ the Good News of God to Humanity,” and aims to explain “the central nucleus of Christian faith, of which many people are unaware, and presents the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the Good News for modern man.”
It aims to outline why the new evangelization is not “a weary response to the crisis of faith and the challenges facing the Church in the modern world” but an appeal to “men and women of good will” to embrace the “depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of the mystery of God revealed in Jesus Christ.”
The second chapter carries the title “Time for a New Evangelization” and, Archbishop Eterovic said, works to facilitate discussion on what the New Evangelization actually is and the challenges it faces today.
“The new challenges to evangelization in the contemporary world are described in various different scenarios,” he explained.
“A measure of evangelical creativity and boldness” will be required, he said, if the new evangelization is to renew “the ordinary pastoral activity of particular Churches” while also reaching out to lapsed and non-Catholics.
Chapter three deals with “Transmitting the Faith” and outlines the need for personal holiness on the part of Catholics.
Archbishop Eterovic noted how a “faith lived passively or privately, a refusal to be educated in one’s faith, a separation between life and faith” can repel others from Catholicism, while pressures from outside the Church such as “secularization, nihilism consumerism, hedonism” can also have the same effect.
He hopes that the Year of Faith will be “a pressing appeal to conversion so that, transformed by grace, each individual Christian and each community may produce abundant fruits.”
The fourth and final chapter is entitled “Revivifying Pastoral Activity” and focuses on “the first proclamation (of the Gospel), Christian initiation and education – while seeking to adapt them to current cultural and social circumstances.”
These discussions will also include a “better understand the sequence of the Sacraments of Christian initiation, which culminates in the Eucharist,” he said.