Washington D.C., Jul 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The legalization of “gay marriage” in America, even on a civil level, is unjust to children and poses a threat to religious liberty, warned Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland, Calif.
“Marriage is the only institution we have that connects children to their mothers and fathers,” he said. “So really, the question is, do you support that institution?”
In a June interview with CNA, Bishop Cordileone, who leads the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, explained that Church teaching against the redefinition of marriage on a civil level as well as a sacramental level is a matter of justice.
“Marriage is about fundamental justice for children,” he said. “Children do best with a mother and a father.”
He acknowledged that advocates of “same-sex marriage” point to studies that appear to indicate that children can do just as well with two parents of the same sex as with two parents of the opposite sex.
However, he called much of this research “flawed” and pointed to a recent article published in the leading peer-reviewed journal, “Social Science Research.” The article analyzed the 59 studies on the topic used by American Psychological Association and found that they were problematic because they utilized self-selecting or “small, non-representative samples” of the population.
In contrast, he said, a recent social science study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin – entitled “The New Family Structures Study” – examined a very large, nationally-representative and random sample of American young adults who were raised in different family environments, including with same-sex couples and with their married, biological parents.
The study measured various areas of wellbeing, including social and economic condition, psychological and physical health and sexual identity and behavior. It found significant differences between the individuals raised by their married biological parents and those raised in other situations, and “in no area were children better off in an alternative arrangement.”
Based on sound social science, this study complements common sense and “demonstrates what we’ve always known,” Bishop Cordileone said. “Children do best with a mother and a father.”
The bishop explained that this issue is of crucial importance because “we cannot have two different definitions of marriage simultaneously in the country.”
“Only one definition of marriage can stand,” he said. “This is not expanding the right of marriage. It’s changing the definition, or taking away something is essential to marriage – that it’s the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of the binding of the two and the procreation and education of the next generation of offspring.”
Bishop Cordileone also warned that the redefinition of marriage poses a serious threat to religious freedom. This is not merely a potential threat, he said, but one that is already being manifest in numerous ways.
For example, he observed, Catholic Charities agencies in numerous archdioceses have already been forced out of the adoption business because they believed it was best to place children only with a mother and a father.
The “rights of conscience and parental rights” are also at risk, particularly when it comes to education of children.
He pointed to an instance in Massachusetts in which a couple objected to their kindergarten-age child being taught about same-sex families at school. The parents tried to pull their child out of class but were prohibited from doing so. When the father went to the school to object, he was arrested and taken to jail.
If the definition of marriage is redefined and “to object to that is being a bigot,” Bishop Cordileone said, “well then the state is justified in not allowing a parent to pull his child out when the child is being taught what they believe are fundamental principles of justice.”
“But we know it’s contrary to fundamental principles of justice,” he continued, “because out of justice for children, we need to do the best that we can to help them grow up with their mother and their father, married to each other in a stable relationship.”
Bishop Cordileone then emphasized that “gay marriage” is not an isolated problem but is rather connected to the broader issue of misunderstanding sexuality.
“This isn’t a new threat to marriage,” he explained. “It’s a huge problem, and it’s gone on for decades.”
He noted that the advent of the birth control pill led to an “explosion of contraception” that “divorced procreation from the conjugal act.” Other erosions to marriage quickly followed, including no-fault divorce, which was “a huge blow to marriage,” and experimenting with “open marriages.”
Suddenly, the traditional marks of marriage – fidelity, permanence and openness to children – were all gone, he said. Eventually, this led to a culture of “widespread promiscuity” as sex lost its meaning, a phenomenon that was serious “facilitated” by the common use of contraception.
Now, the bishop pointed out, marriage is seen merely as being about the legal benefits offered to the individuals entering into it, rather than as “a child-centered institution.”
But if marriage is simply about intimate relationships between adults, he asked, “why should the law even get involved at all?”
He observed that there is no real governmental reason to recognize sexual relationships between adults.
What governments throughout history have had a societal interest in, he said, is the well-being of dependent children who are born into the society. These children are necessarily born from the union of a man and woman, and this is why the government has an interest in encouraging stable marriages as a type of union with the potential to bring new life into the world.
The Church likewise acknowledges the importance of marriage for the sake of children and society, Bishop Cordileone said. Its members are therefore called to work to defend marriage in civil law, recognizing that “intact, healthy families make for a healthy society.”
Beirut, Lebanon, Jul 3, 2012 (CNA) -
Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III emphasized Egyptian Christians' national loyalty, as well as their need for guaranteed human rights, in a letter to Egypt's new president Mohammed Morsi.
“I am proud to be an Egyptian citizen and proud that the Melkite Greek Catholic Church is Egyptian too,” wrote the Damascus-based Eastern Catholic patriarch, who has Egyptian citizenship because of his leadership of the Melkite Church in Alexandria.
The patriarch pledged Egytian Melkites' “abiding loyalty to Egypt, our country.” He congratulated the new president, and implored God to help him govern the nation wisely “at a turning point in Egypt’s contemporary history and in the wake of events which our Arab world is going through.”
Egyptians represent only a fraction of the world's 1.6 million Melkite Catholics. But their presence – alongside Coptic Orthodox, Copic Catholics, and other historic Christian groups – is important, Patriarch Gregorios said.
“Our Melkite Greek Catholic children have done a very great deal for Egypt’s progress and prosperity,” he reminded President Morsi, who won 51.7 of the vote in the country's June 16-17 election.
“Today, despite the fact that we are few, we serve Egypt’s sons and daughters through our work of mind and faith, such as through our cultural, educational, school, health, social, artistic and dialogue services, in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities of beloved Egypt.”
The election of Morsi, who symbolically resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood's political party on June 24, has met with mixed responses from observers. The brotherhood, which originally promised not to run a presidential candidate, is seen by some as unreliable and rooted in radical ideology.
But Patriarch Gregorios told President Morsi he was confident in the leader's ability to maintain the nation's role “as pole, pioneer and pilot in the Arab world both inside and outside Egypt.”
He stressed the country's importance for the causes of Arab unity and human rights, calling particular attention to the “Al-Azhar statement” issued by a group of scholars and intellectuals in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
Patriarch Gregorios said this document should serve as the basis for a “modern Arab human rights charter” that could unify the region and safeguard human dignity.
“Egalitarian citizenship,” he reminded President Morsi, is the “mother of all other freedoms.”
Washington D.C., Jul 3, 2012 (CNA) -
Challengers of the Obama administration's contraception mandate may have been handed a surprising advantage by the Supreme Court's liberal wing, in its partial dissent on the health care reform law.
“A mandate to purchase a particular product would be unconstitutional if, for example, the edict impermissibly abridged the freedom of speech, (or) interfered with the free exercise of religion,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a June 28 opinion supporting the law's “individual mandate.”
The rule requiring citizens to buy insurance was upheld by the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts, who interpreted it as a use of federal taxing power. But four other justices, supporting the individual mandate without calling it a tax, signed on to Ginsburg’s opinion supporting religious liberty.
In a new column for CNA, religious freedom attorney Kim Daniels says the four justices may have given “unlikely support” to opponents of another controversial provision in the health care law, which requires employers to cover abortion-causing drugs as well as contraception and sterilization.
“Justice Ginsburg describes the HHS (contraceptive) mandate to the letter: it’s a mandate to pay for particular goods and services, and it interferes with the free exercise of religion,” writes Daniels, a former counsel to the Thomas More Law Center and current coordinator of Catholic Voices USA.
While the justice's affirmation of free religious exercise is “basic constitutional law,” Daniels says it was “notable that Justice Ginsburg chose to draw attention to this truism” using “language that opponents of the HHS mandate will no doubt highlight” as they challenge the contraception rule.
Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor all joined Justice Ginsburg in her affirmation of religious freedom against government attempts to force the purchase of morally objectionable products.
The court's decision on the health care law, Daniel writes, “not only leaves the many legal challenges to the HHS mandate in force, it underscores their validity.” Over 50 plaintiffs are currently involved in 23 lawsuits against the contraception mandate.
Daniels' essay explains how the contraception mandate violates the U.S. Constitution, by exempting some religious employers – according to a narrow set of criteria – but requiring others to provide insurance coverage for products and services they oppose.
“Now that the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is no longer in question, it's time for the administration to revisit its divisive efforts to coerce religious employers into facilitating insurance coverage for goods and services that violate their faith,” the Catholic Voices USA coordinator writes.
Her column can be viewed in full at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=2212.
Vatican City, Jul 3, 2012 (CNA) -
On July 3, Pope Benedict left the Vatican for his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, located outside of Rome.
According to the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, private and special audiences will be suspended over the summer months. The Pope's Wednesday general audience – also deferred during the month of July – will resume at Castel Gandolfo on Aug. 1.
“On Sundays and Solemnities during this period, the Pope will pray the Angelus from the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo,” the prefecture said in a statement Monday.
The small hilltop town of Castel Gandolfo sits about 15 miles to the south-east of Rome where it overlooks Lake Albano. It has been a papal residence since the reign of Pope Urban VIII in the mid-17th century. Being only 45 minutes by train from Rome, it is also a popular destination for pilgrims.
Pope Benedict’s Castel Gandolfo schedule for the next month has been keep deliberately light. On Wednesday July 11, the Feast of St. Benedict, he will play host to the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim.
The orchestra, which brings together both Palestinians and Israeli musicians, will perform a works by German composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Meanwhile on Sunday July 15, the Pope will travel to the nearby Frascati to celebrate an outdoor Mass in the town’s Piazza San Pietro.
One of Rome’s seven “suburbicarian” dioceses, Frascati’s titular bishops is usually among the highest-ranking cardinals in the Roman Curia. The present incumbent, for example, is the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Pope Benedict will return from Castel Gandolfo to Rome in September.
Steubenville, Ohio, Jul 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
On July 3, Pope Benedict appointed Msgr. Jeffrey M. Monforton, a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, as the new Bishop of Steubenville, Ohio.
The former rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit will fill over a year long vacancy left by Bishop Daniel R. Conlon, who was assigned as Bishop of Joliet, Ill. in May 2011.
The Diocese of Steubenville is home to nearly 40,000 Catholics in Southeastern Ohio as well as Franciscan University, the school that recently dropped its student health coverage rather than comply with the federal contaception mandate.
Bishop-elect Monforton was ordained in 1994 and studied at the North American College in Rome, where he received his Bachelors in Sacred Theology. After ordination, he earned his doctorate in from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
More recently, he served as rector of Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary from 2006 until May 2012. For a short time leading up to his appointment as bishop, Msgr. Monforton was pastor of St. Andrew's Parish in Roshester, Mich. And serve the seminary as a part-time faculty member.
Before then, Msgr. Monforton served as personal priest secretary to Cardinal Adam Maida from 1998 to 2005. During that time, he traveled to the Vatican and was on site for Pope John Paul II's funeral Mass as well as the election of Pope Bendict XVI.
In addition to his work with the Sacred Heart Seminary, Msgr. Monforton has served in pastoral care for several parishes throughout Michigan and was named an Apostolic Visitor for the 2005 to 2006 Apostolic Visitation of U.S. seminaries.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Bishops’ Conference of Mexico congratulated the nation for holding peaceful elections on July 1 and urged the new government of Enrique Pena Nieto to address the needs of the Mexican people.
In their message – signed by conference president Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes and secretary general Bishop Victor Rene Rodriguez Gomez – the bishops congratulated the winners of the election and praised the losing candidates and parties for “recognizing that in a democracy, the will of the people is what must prevail.”
Pena Nieto emerged as the victor in Sunday’s elections amid the country's economic woes and crippling drug cartel violence. Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party ruled Mexico for 71 years and returns to power after being voted out of office 12 years ago.
In their remarks, the bishops offered prayers “to the Eternal Father for the new federal government that will take office in Mexico, as well as for the senators, federal representatives, governors, local legislators and other authorities who will assume office in the coming months.”
They also prayed that Our Lady of Guadalupe, “the patroness of our freedom, will enlighten them so that they can address” the needs of the Mexican people with care.
The civility with which the elections were carried out showed that Mexico recognizes “democracy as a privileged path for achieving the peace, justice and development that so many Mexicans desire,” the bishops said.
“As pastors of the Catholic Church we are happy to see that our call to go to the polls in a conscientious and free way was heeded by the Catholic faithful and by many men and women of good will in our country,” they said.
Vatican City, Jul 3, 2012 (CNA) -
Pope Benedict XVI removed Archbishop Robert Bezak of Trnava, Slovakia from the pastoral care of his archdiocese without explanation on July 2.
According to Italian media, the 52-year-old archbishop – who took over the archdiocese in 2009 – was removed for administrative reasons.
Archbishop Bezak read a letter about the action during July 1 Sunday Mass at the cathedral in Trnava, noting that the Vatican asked him not to talk to the press.
The archbishop told congregants he does not know the specific accusations against him. However, he believes that one reason for the action may be his criticism of his predecessor Archbishop Ján Sokol, the Slovakian Spectator reported.
Archbishop Sokol was an object of controversy for praising President Jozef Tiso, a priest who lead the country during World War II when it was allied with the Nazis.
The removal of a bishop from office is a rare event. During his pontificate so far, Pope Benedict has removed four, including Archbishop Bezak.
In March 2011 the Pope removed Jean-Claude Makaya Loembe of Pointe-Noire in the Democratic Republic of Congo for misusing diocese funds. That May, he removed Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba, Australia for dissenting from Catholic teaching and for abuses in church governance and liturgy.
In May of this year, Pope Benedict removed Italian Bishop Francesco Miccichè of the Diocese of Trapani in Sicily after allegations of financial corruption.
Vatican City, Jul 3, 2012 (CNA) -
Details have been released on Pope Benedict's Sept.14-16 visit to Lebanon, where the pontiff is slated to sign his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Church in the Middle East.
The document will be the Pope’s response to the deliberations of the Synod of Bishops of the Middle East held at the Vatican in October 2010. The topic for discussion then was “The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness.”
Pope Benedict will arrive in the Lebanese capital of Beirut at 1:45 p.m. on Friday Sept. 14 where he will be welcomed at an official ceremony at the city’s Rafik Hariri Airport.
From there he will travel to the Basilica of St. Paul in coastal town of Harissa, 12 miles to the north of Beirut. Here, in the presence of the episcopate of the Middle East, the Pope will sign his Apostolic Exhortation.
On the morning of Saturday Sept. 15 Pope Benedict will pay a courtesy visit to President Michel Sleiman of Lebanon at his official residence in the city of Baabda.
At the same location, the Pope will then meet with representatives of the country’s majority Muslim population before giving an address to the Lebanese civil society.
He will then have lunch with, among others, the patriarchs and bishops of Lebanon at the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate in Bzommar.
In the early evening Pope Benedict will then travel onto Bkerke where, at 6:00 p.m., he will deliver an address to young people gathered in the square in front of the residence of the country’s Maronite Patriarchate.
On the morning of Sunday September 16 the Pope will celebrate and outdoor Mass the City Center Waterfront in Beirut. It is here that he will officially present his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation to the Church in the Middle East. Proceedings will conclude with the praying of the Angelus.
Pope Benedict’s last public engagement in Lebanon comes in early Sunday evening when, at 5:15 p.m., he will preside at an ecumenical gathering in the Syro-Catholic Patriarchate of Charfet. He will then depart from the airport in Beirut for Rome at 7:00 p.m.
Lebanon has a population of just over 4 million. It is estimated that around 39 percent of Lebanese people are Christian with many belonging to Eastern Catholic churches that are in full communion with Rome.
Rome, Italy, Jul 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore believes that the fight for religious liberty has not been damaged the Supreme Court’s ruling that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act is constitutional.
“My reaction is that the bishops have never joined in seeking to have the whole law overturned,” he told CNA during a visit to Rome June 28.
“We were looking that federal dollars would not be used for abortions, that there was conscience protection and help for immigrants. None of that is in the bill. None of those were touched by the decision in a substantial way.”
Archbishop Lori has been chairman of the U.S. Bishop's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty since September 2011. This Wednesday, July 4, will witness the culmination of the bishops' Fortnight for Freedom campaign.
He believes that the past 14 days of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action has helped focus minds on “a legislative fix” for those points of dispute contained within the White House healthcare plans.
He is also encouraged by the dozens of lawsuits that are now making their way through courts in various jurisdictions challenging those areas of the legislation which the Church views as breaching the First Amendment.
“I would have no idea how quickly they will be heard,” he said when asked about the legal time line, “but my hope and prayer would be that they are heard rather quickly however.”
Overall, he said he has been delighted at how many Americans have now become engaged “in the broader struggle to defend religious liberty which is eroded in our culture.”
“So don’t give up, don’t imagine that all is lost, it’s not,” he said, adding that “the struggle is fresh, important and more vital than ever.”