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Archive of August 14, 2012

Catholic vicariate moves from Kuwait to Bahrain

Awali, Bahrain, Aug 14, 2012 (CNA) - The Catholic Church’s Vicariate of Northern Arabia will move its headquarters from Kuwait to Bahrain, saying the country’s location is more accessible for meetings.

Apostolic vicar Bishop Camillo Ballin expressed his “heartfelt gratitude” to King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain and the ruling family for their “magnanimous gesture of goodwill to the Catholic community of Bahrain,” the bishop’s office said in an Aug. 9 statement.

The king and royal family have granted 9,000 square meters of land, which will be used to build a larger church in Awali and to host the vicariate’s apostolic headquarters.

There are over two million Roman Catholics in the vicariate, which encompasses Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom of Bahrain said Aug. 7 that it will host the vicariate “as a testament to the Kingdom’s religious and cultural openness.”

The move comes after several threats to Christians’ religious freedom in the region.

Kuwaiti Member of Parliament Osama Al-Munawer announced his plans to submit a bill calling for the removal of all churches in Kuwait, according to the Kuwait Times. After facing criticism, he later said that existing churches should remain, but he advocated a ban on the construction of any new non-Islamic places of worship.

In March, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah reportedly said it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region” in accord with an ancient rule that only Islam may be practiced there.

 

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Pro-life walk across America finishes with rally in DC

Washington D.C., Aug 14, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Over 40 young people who walked across the U.S. for pro-life service, advocacy and witness held a rally at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday to mark the end of the 18th annual cross-country trek run by the group Crossroads.

“Even though the walks are over, we still need to continue on and let the Lord work, to continue that mission of transforming the culture of death into a culture of life,” Crossroads national director Jim Nolan told CNA Aug. 13.

Walk participants began on the West Coast on May 19. They passed through 40 states, visiting hundreds of churches and standing outside of dozens of abortion clinics where they prayed and offered pro-life counseling.

Nolan found cause for hope in the reaction to the walkers.

“We’ve been saying for years that America is a pro-life country,” he said. “I can tell you, through all the experiences on all of the walks, it was all very positive.”

Crossroads groups received “very little pushback” and an “almost exclusively positive reaction” to their activities.

The closing rally featured Bryan Kemper, a speaker with Priests for Life, and Live Action President Lila Rose.

Ryan recalled that Crossroads aspires to follow Pope John Paul II’s call at World Youth Day 1993 for people to imitate the original apostles and “to help build the culture of life.”

Since then, Ryan said, there has been “a big shift” towards the pro-life position among youth.

“America is a pro-life,” he said. “The culture of death, even though it seems like it is getting worse, I think is taking its last gasps.”

Supporters of abortion, he told CNA, see the shift towards a pro-life position among the youth.

Tragedy struck the Crossroads walk earlier this year when Andrew Kentigern Moore, a 20-year-old college student from Thomas Aquinas College, was struck and killed by a car July 20 on a highway near Indianapolis.

Moore’s uncle, Paul Brilliant, joined his nephew’s group and finished the walk in his place.

When it was first founded in 1995, Crossroads only sponsored one walk across the United States. This year, in addition to the four U.S. walks, there are counterparts in Canada, Ireland, and Spain.

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Newman biographer highlights cardinal's insights amid Anglican turmoil

San Diego, Calif., Aug 14, 2012 (CNA) - A biographer of Blessed John Henry Newman says the noted 19th-century Catholic convert can offer guidance to Anglicans in the midst of their denomination's current moral and doctrinal crisis.

Cardinal Newman “saw the importance of knowing one's faith, and the truths revealed by God through the Church – and the importance of living according to those truths, not according to opinions,” said Father Juan Velez, author of “Passion For Truth: The Life of Blessed John Henry Newman” (St. Benedict Press, $18.75).

While stressing the call to holiness for both laity and clergy, Newman also came to recognize the gift of  the teaching authority held by the bishops in union with the Pope.

This visible apostolic authority contrasts sharply with the modern Anglican practice of “putting the beliefs of the Church up for a vote,” the biographer observed.  

“Passion For Truth” is the first major biography of Bl. Newman to be published since his beatification in 2010. Its author discussed the late cardinal's life and thought in an Aug. 10 interview, two days after the biography became available as an e-book.

“A big part of the biography is the first part of Newman's life, his process of conversion,” explained Fr. Velez. During this time, “he had the question before him: 'What is the true Church? What is the fold of Christ?'”

Fr. Velez hopes that “Passion for Truth” will help Anglicans and other non-Catholics understand Newman's journey, while also deepening Catholic readers' faith.

Newman's life and writings, he noted, are “a source of continued help to those who are thinking about their Catholic faith – or thinking about becoming Catholics.”

The Victorian-era cardinal is a favorite of Pope Benedict XVI, who beatified him and has praised his contributions on topics like conscience and doctrinal development. Fr. Velez thinks it is “very likely” Bl. Newman eventually “will be canonized, and then made a Doctor of the Church.”

Born in 1801 and ordained an Anglican clergyman in 1825, Newman caused an uproar in his own day by becoming a Catholic in 1845. In that year's “Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine,” he famously declared: “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.”  

During his Calvinist-leaning youth, and his later involvement in the high-Church Anglican “Oxford Movement,” Newman had always understood Christianity as a faith founded on revealed dogmatic truths.

In time, he came to acknowledge that this original “deposit of faith” required the safeguard of a living apostolic authority, to distinguish legitimate doctrinal developments from corruptions and errors.

Ordained a Catholic priest in 1846, Newman was named a cardinal in 1879 and died 11 years later. Today, he is the patron of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the Catholic jurisdiction set up in 2011 to preserve the Anglican heritage in communion with Rome.

As the ordinariate begins to draw Anglican clergy and laypersons into the Catholic Church, the future of their former communion – and particularly its U.S. branch the Episcopal Church – has been called into question over plunging demographics and doctrinal confusion.

A July 2012 Beliefnet article described the Episcopal Church as “near collapse” following its 2012 general convention, which formally approved same-sex “blessing” ceremonies and a policy on transgender clergy.

During the same convention, the U.S. branch of the Anglican communion voted to sell its administrative headquarters in New York City. The Episcopal Church lost over 200,000 members and 300 parishes from 2006 to 2010, bringing its membership to the lowest level since the 1930s.

The Church of England, the world's flagship Anglican body, also faces issues related to biblical authority and sexual morality, along with a controversy over women bishops. At a July 2011 meeting, leaders heard that aging congregations could render the denomination “no longer functionally extant” by 2030.

This situation, Fr. Velez said, is a far cry from the Victorian-era Anglicanism of Newman's day – which held strongly to many basic Christian teachings on faith and morals, and saw its bishops as possessing authority to teach and govern.

Nevertheless, Newman's critiques of Anglicanism are key to understanding the institution's present crisis, Fr. Velez indicated.

“There are underlying issues that are the root problem, and I think Newman had his finger on two of them,” he observed.

One connection between historic Anglicanism, and its current struggles, is its inability to find grounding for what Newman called the “dogmatic principle.”

Foundational to Newman's understanding of faith, this principle held that the Christian religion was founded on definite eternal truths revealed by God. While these truths could be grasped more deeply over time, through a process of development, they were not subject to any essential dispute or revision.

In both his Anglican and Catholic periods, Newman dedicated himself “to fighting what he called 'liberalism in religion,'” Fr. Velez noted. This is the “emptying of religion” that occurs “when people believe in what they want,” looking on faith and morals merely as matters of taste and opinion.

Within contemporary Anglicanism, where “revealed truths are put to a vote” and revised, there has been “a very serious undoing of the basic religious beliefs and truths,” Fr. Velez said.

A related question faced by Newman before his conversion, and by Anglicans in the present day, concerns the “apostolicity” of the Church – its continued governance by successors of the apostles, possessing the authority to teach and act in the name of Christ.

“Without that ecclesial authority, the Church's teaching is undermined,” Fr. Velez said – describing the process that has continued since Newman's day. “There is an unraveling of the faith.”

“Newman was worried about that in his time. He was worried about the bishops losing authority and not exercising it.”

As he reflected on Church history, and the process of sorting out true doctrinal developments from errors, Newman came to understand the authority of the Popes was “something constitutive of the Church, something foundational that God had wanted.”

“He realized that the Anglican Church is not what the early Christian Church was, and is missing that papal authority.”

Compelled by his realizations to enter into full communion with the Church of Rome, Newman never looked back – despite facing personal hardships, public attacks, and misunderstandings between himself and others within the Catholic Church.

Such difficulties “are inevitable in human relations,” and can be expected within the human reality of God's Church, Fr. Velez noted. Through them, Newman learned to exercise charity, and correct his own personal faults.

“None of these difficulties that Newman experienced, made him doubt that he had made the right decision to become a Roman Catholic,” Fr. Velez recalled.

Upon becoming Catholic, Newman felt “like a ship coming to port, from a boisterous ocean, and he felt safe. He never had any doubts of what the Catholic Church taught.”

Above all, the biographer said, he “realized that the most fundamental thing in life is to follow Jesus Christ in his Church – regardless of people's mistakes, and sins, and one's own sins.”

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Brazilian women's volleyball team celebrates gold with prayer

London, England, Aug 14, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Brazilian women's volleyball team, together with the entire coaching staff, knelt down together to pray an emotional “Our Father” after their gold medal victory at the London Olympic games.

On Aug. 11, the team won its second consecutive gold medal in the event, beating the United States three sets to one.  

Head Coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes told reporters that he had promised that with another win, he would walk the Way of St. James in Spain.

“My wife made a lot of promises for me, promises that now I will have to keep,” Guimaraes told IG news. “Today she was praying for three hours in church.  I now I have to walk the Way of St. James again with her.”

“I prayed a lot, I never prayed so much in my life. I have to keep my promise now.”

Adding that he shaved his head to fulfill one of the promises he had made, the Brazilian coach told the press, “I would like to be a great writer to be able to tell such a beautiful story like this, but I don’t have that talent. I think only a great writer could write this story: and that was God.”

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Colombian diocese laments death of priest who was attacked

Cucuta, Colombia, Aug 14, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Diocese of Cucuta in Colombia condemned the death of Father Pablo Emilio Sanchez Alabarracin, who died from the injuries he sustained during a break-in at his parish rectory.

In a statement, the diocese said that the community, “together with its bishop, priests, deacons, seminarians, men and women religious...laments the loss of Father Pablo.”

Fr. Sanchez died on Aug. 11, three days after being robbed and stabbed by an intruder at the parish rectory of Holy Mary Mother of God, located in the town of Patios in northern Colombia.

His funeral Mass was held at the Cathedral of St. Joseph and celebrated by Bishop Julio Cesar Vidal Ortiz of Cucuta. Hundreds of local faithful attended and dozens of priests from the diocese concelebrated.

Diana Paola Alvarez, director of communications for the Diocese of Cucuta, told CNA on Aug. 9 that local officials are investigating the incident.

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Pro-life community grieves death of Nellie Gray

Washington D.C., Aug 14, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pro-life leaders across the country are mourning the death of Nellie Gray, the woman who founded the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. to commemorate each January the legalization of abortion.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, described Gray as “a visionary woman” with “a fierce heart that valued all people – born and unborn.”

Yoest explained that Gray “understood the importance of a national memorial event to commemorate the significance of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.”

The annual march has become a “visual reminder of the broken hearts of millions of Americans who continue to struggle with the callous attitude of the abortion industry toward unborn children and their vulnerable mothers,” she said.

On the evening of Aug. 13, news broke that Gray had passed away over the weekend in her Washington, D.C. home. She was 86 years old.

Born in Big Spring, Texas, Gray served in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II and worked for nearly 30 years for the U.S. Department of State and Department of Labor.

In 1974, Gray helped found the March for Life as a way to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout the United States.

The march has become an annual event, drawing hundreds of thousands of people, including youth from all over the nation, to stand up for the dignity of human life in the nation’s capital.

News of Gray’s death was met with sorrow from leaders of the pro-life community, as well as praise for the work that she accomplished.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said that Gray “began and maintained a purity of intention rare to any human rights movement.”

She explained that Gray relied upon “the power of the Holy Spirit” to guide her, and showed that this was “more effective than all the political strategy this world could formulate.”

U.S. Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, applauded Gray’s commitment to the march, even “in the worst of weather and poor health.”
 
Without a doubt, he said, “countless preborn children have been saved” by Gray’s leadership, and “millions of lives have been touched.”

Observing how the annual march “refuels the passion of pro-life Americans,” Smith vowed that the pro-life community will continue Gray’s legacy “of unceasing commitment to defending the unborn.”

Catholic professor and researcher Michael J. New reflected in a National Review Online article that while pro-lifers may be tempted to take the March for Life for granted, it is “actually a remarkable achievement,” uniting scores of pro-life groups across the country, despite their differences in strategy and religious belief.

In addition, New said, many people do not realize that Gray – who had a law degree from Georgetown University – was also influential in crafting ideas for a Human Life Amendment that could be added to the U.S. Constitution.

The annual March for Life has made a powerful impression on many of those who have had the opportunity to witness it, including Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

A 2010 article in Newsweek magazine quoted Keenan recalling the experience of seeing the pro-life crowds gathered in Washington, D.C. for the march one year.

"I just thought, my gosh, they are so young," she said. "There are so many of them, and they are so young."

Commemorating 40 years since the Roe v. Wade decision, the next March for Life will be held in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 25, 2013.

Yoest said that Gray will be missed at the upcoming march, but added that the pro-life community will continue in her footsteps “with deep gratitude for the example she set of sacrifice and commitment to the human rights struggle of our day.”

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LCWR meets archbishop, says way of life must not be compromised

St. Louis, Mo., Aug 14, 2012 (CNA) - The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has begun talks with the archbishop tasked with its reform, but says it will not make fundamental changes to its expression of consecrated religious life.

During its recent national assembly, the group instructed its board members “to articulate its belief that religious life, as it is lived by the women religious who comprise LCWR, is an authentic expression of this life that must not be compromised,” the conference of sisters said in an Aug. 13 statement.

On Aug. 11, one day after the assembly's close, the national board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious met for the first time with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who was assigned by the Vatican to address doctrinal concerns within the conference.

The leadership conference's national assembly had instructed its board to approach the discussion with Archbishop Sartain “from a stance of mutual respect, careful listening and open dialogue.”

In Monday's communique, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said the archbishop “listened carefully” as its board members expressed “both their concerns and their feelings” about the findings from the four-year doctrinal assessment carried out by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The leadership conference said the “expectation” of its members was an “open and honest dialogue” leading to better “understanding between the church leadership and women religious,” and more chances “for the laity and, particularly for women, to have a voice in the church.”

The assessment by the Church's top doctrinal office was released in April 2012 and highlighted concerns over “corporate dissent” from Church teaching in the conference of religious sisters, “radical feminism” in its approach to the faith, and a pattern of theological and doctrinal errors in presentations given at its annual assemblies.

Archbishop Sartain was subsequently appointed by the Holy See to lead “a process of review and conformity to the teachings and discipline of the Church.”

According to the conference, the archbishop wants to “learn more about the conference and about the members’ experience and understandings of religious life.”

The religious sisters said they would “provide Archbishop Sartain with resources they believe will be helpful.” Its officers will meet with him again during fall 2012.

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