San Antonio, Texas, Aug 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Catholic Hispanic Leadership Alliance has applied Catholic social teaching to issues that will shape the upcoming presidential election in a new voter's guide.
“We invite U.S. Catholics to reflect on this document and use it as an aid to decision-making before entering the voting booth in November,” president Robert Aguirre said Aug. 21.
The San Antonio-based group has gathered candidate opinions with related media reports and compiled them into a 21-page document to summarize where the presumptive nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties stand on particular issues.
“Opinions from candidates and the media related to these issues may be debated, but Catholic social teaching is clear,” Aguirre said.
Available on the Catholic Hispanic Leadership Alliance's website, the document evaluates President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on 23 key issues such as “gay marriage”, the contraception mandate and immigration reform and assigns them a score signifying how closely their policies and opinions line up with that of Catholic social teaching.
According to the group's analysis, President Obama achieved a score of 17.4 percent while Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney had a rating of 52.2 percent.
Aguirre said that the report's data indicates that “the difference between the two major party candidates is very clear.”
With a population of 50.5 million people in the United States, 42.7 percent of Latinos are currently eligible to vote.
In the 2008 presidential election, 49.9 percent of those eligible voted, with 67 percent of them voting for Obama and 31 percent for McCain, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Aguirre said that his organization's report draws from the U.S. bishop's statement “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility,” which describes “responsible citizenship” as a “virtue” and political participation “a moral obligation.”
“Let there be no mistake about it, this is a national call for Catholics to exercise their faith in the voting booth,” Aguirre said.
Catholics have a responsibility to vote with “an informed conscience, formed by the Gospel,” rather than from “habit or tradition,” the report said.
To that end, the document is “an effort to assist thoughtful voters” in making their decisions for the upcoming presidential election.
It is expected that Latino voters will turn out in even greater numbers in November, given their largest showing yet for a non-presidential race at the 2010 midterm elections where three Hispanic candidates, Marco Rubio, Susan Martinez and Brian Sandoval, took top statewide offices in Florida, Nevada and New Mexico.
In that election, 60 percent of Hispanics voted for Democrats while 38 percent voted for Republicans. Those numbers reflect a change from the 2006 midterm elections where 69 percent voted for Democrats and 30 percent for Republicans.
Although the voter report comes from the Catholic Hispanic Leadership Alliance, it is intended for all Catholic voters in America.
"This isn't just an evaluation for Hispanic Catholics," Aguirre explained, "it is a guided reflection of the position of our Catholic Church and of all people of faith who believe in applying the principles of the Gospel in the public square."
The full text of the Catholic Hispanic Leadership Alliance's voter guide can be found at www.catholichispanic.org.
Washington D.C., Aug 22, 2012 (CNA) - The American Bible Challenge, a new show on GSN, is testing competitors on their knowledge of the Bible and raising money for charity, with the help of celebrity host Jeff Foxworthy.
Consulting producer Maura Dunbar said that she is “just thrilled” about the project.
For years, she told CNA on Aug. 21, there had been an idea to “create a quiz show based on the Bible.”
After experimenting with different formats, that idea became a reality with the cooperation of GSN.
The result is both “fun” and “celebratory,” she explained.
Premiering on Aug. 23, the American Bible Challenge will be hosted by comedian and author Jeff Foxworthy.
Each episode will feature three teams competing, one of which advances to the next round. The ultimate prize is $100,000 for a charity chosen by the winning team.
Dunbar explained that the show will highlight the “compelling back stories” of the competitors, who are on the show “to play for a reason” and are motivated by a charity that has special meaning to them.
The charities chosen by the teams include food pantries, cancer centers and Locks of Love.
One team from Los Angeles, Calif., is composed of three firefighters who are bound together by their occupation and their faith. The men “frequently gather after a long day of work to reflect and pray together” and hope to raise money for the Saint Baldrick’s Foundation, which funds research to find cures for childhood cancers.
Another team, called the “Horns of Jericho,” consists of three brothers from a large Italian-American Catholic family in Sleepy Hollow, Ill.
Each of the brothers “found his faith tested when their grandfather died of cancer, a disease that has also struck several of their aunts and uncles.” The brothers are playing for the American Cancer Society.
Dunbar said that Foxworthy is “very excited” to be hosting the show.
In addition to bringing name recognition to the program, Foxworthy “is a committed Christian,” she explained. “He lives out his faith.”
In addition to regularly attending church, he has conducted a Bible study for homeless people in his area for 15 years, she said.
In a production video on the GSN website, Foxworthy explained that when he was first approached about the idea of the show, he was skeptical about whether a Bible game show would work.
But at the same time, he said that he was intrigued by the idea of winning a game show for charity.
“How cool to actually go on and play a game where you’re not reaping the benefit, but you’re turning around and blessing somebody else,” he said. “That’s why I think it’ll work.”
He added that despite being centuries old, the Bible is “still relevant” and is the best-selling book of all time.
While the idea of a faith-based game show on a secular cable network is largely unprecedented, Dunbar believes that it will be well-received.
“I think there’s a wide audience for this,” she said, pointing to the large number of Christians in the United States.
She explained that the show manages to combine trivia and Scripture in a way that is “both respectful and fun.”
Dunbar hopes that the American Bible Challenge will draw a strong viewership from different Christian denominations and will ultimately pave the way for a second season.
“There’s something for everyone,” she said. “It’s good family entertainment.”
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI recommended that Christians look to the queenship of Mary, who is “queen in the service of God to humanity,” as a sure guide towards her son.
“Dear friends, devotion to Our Lady is an important part of spiritual life. In our prayer we should not fail to turn to her, confident that Mary will intercede for us with her Son,” the Pope said to pilgrims during his Aug. 22 general audience at Castel Gandolfo.
“Looking upon her, let us imitate her faith, her complete openness to the loving plan of God, her generous welcoming of Jesus. We learn to live from Mary.”
The Pope recalled how the establishment of a particular day to celebrate the queenship of Mary is actually a “recent establishment,” even though it has “an ancient origin and devotion.” When Pope Pius XII created the feast in 1954, he originally placed it on May 31, at the end of the month dedicated to Mary.
“On that occasion he said that Mary is Queen more than any other creature for the elevation of her soul and for the excellence of gifts received. She never ceases to bestow all the treasures of her love and of her care on humanity,” Pope Benedict said.
Following the Second Vatican Council the feast day was moved by Pope Paul VI to Aug. 22, so that it would be “eight days after the Solemnity of the Assumption to emphasize the close relationship between the royalty of Mary and her glorification in soul and body next to her Son.”
The fact that Mary is “uniquely bound to her Son” both on earth and in Heaven lies at the root of today’s feast, said the Pope, since she now participates in “God’s responsibility for the world and the love of God for the world.”
Just as the kingship of Jesus “has nothing to do with that of the powerful of this world,” as evidenced by his washing of the disciplines feet or death on the cross, so the queenship of Mary “is not (one of) wealth and power” but is “a service of love,” Pope Benedict taught.
She is “queen in the service of God to humanity, is queen of the love that lives the gift of self to God (so as) to enter into the plan of salvation of man. To the angel she replies: I am the handmaid of the Lord.”
This love is expressed, suggested the Pope, in the fact that Mary is continually “watching over us, her children, the children who come to her in prayer, to thank her or to ask for her maternal protection and heavenly help, perhaps after having lost their way, burdened with grief or anguish amid the sad and troubled vicissitudes of life.”
It is the queenship of Mary that we should turn to throughout life, he said, “so that from her Son we may receive every grace and mercy necessary for our journey along the roads of the world.”
“To him who rules the world and holds the destinies of the universe we turn with confidence, through the Virgin Mary.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 22, 2012 (CNA) -
The Archdiocese of Mexico City has strongly denied claims by a former candidate for mayor of the capital that it interfered in the July 1 elections to prevent her from winning.
In an interview on Aug. 20 with the archdiocese's News Service, spokesman Fr. Hugo Valdemar responded to statements made by Miranda de Wallaces, a pro-abortion candidate from the PAN party.
Wallaces told a local newspaper on Aug. 17, “There were people who were working against my candidacy,” referring to the spokesman and Cardinal Norberto Rivera.
“They told people not to vote for me,” she said, “and somebody from the PAN went to see Cardinal Rivera to get Fr. Valedmar to say they should not vote for me.”
In his response, Fr. Valdemar argued that only “an irresponsible person acting in bad faith could make such a serious accusation without saying who that 'somebody' is that went to see the cardinal for the reasons she claims.”
“Ms. Wallace has the obligation to reveal the name of that person,” he said, adding that Wallace will clearly “not do so because this is offensive gossip that she takes to be true.”
Fr. Valdemar said that he did make several statements regarding the “scandalous” support of the former candidate for abortion and homosexual unions, but that it was “totally false” that he advised people not to vote for her.
“What I said was that if she continued to hold this pro-abortion stance, as the Church we would be obliged to take a strong and clear position.”
“In reality I was never concerned about the candidacy of Ms. Wallace. It was very clear that her campaign would be a failure and she would be relegated to an embarrassing third place, which is what happened,” the priest said.
“Why launch a campaign against her then? That assumption is ridiculous, and if I had said not to vote for her, then I don’t understand why Ms. Wallace and the PAN did not file a lawsuit against me with elections officials,” Fr. Valdemar added.
Telling the former candidate she needs to be more “mature,” Fr. Valdemar said that each person “should assume responsibility and not go about blaming others.”
Miguel Angel Mancera of the PRD party – which legalized abortion and homosexual unions in Mexico City – was the winner of the July 1 elections for mayor of the Mexican capital.
Rimini, Italy, Aug 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A top Nigerian bishop has called on the international community to protect the religious freedom of Christians in Nigeria, warning that extremists of the Boko Haram sect threaten the country's existence.
“Pressure your governments, do not abandon us because otherwise Nigeria will be destroyed,” said Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, head of the Nigerian bishops' conference.
The archbishop made his remarks during the Aug. 19 -25 gathering of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide in Rimini, Italy by the lay ecclesial movement Communion and Liberation.
In his address to the conference, entitled “The Martyrdom of Nigeria, We need a miracle from God,” Archbishop Kaigama denounced the violence of the Islamic extremist Boko Haram sect, including its attacks on Catholics who are attending Mass.
In his own Archdiocese of Jog, he said, violence by such extremists have left more than 800 people dead.
“There needs to be a response from the international community and efforts need to be focused on ensuring the religious freedom of Nigerians,” he underscored.
Archbishop Kaigama noted that desperate young Christians come to the Church looking for financial assistance “to by weapons in order to avenge and combat the Muslims. But I tell them I am not a warrior. My role is to promote peace.”
However, he added, peace is also threatened by the lack of resources, such as water, health care and public services.
“I travel through the villages and I sort of feel like a social worker while government officials sit in their air-conditioned offices,” he said.
Rimini, Italy, Aug 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Rock ‘n’ roll is innately religious and expresses a desire for the infinite, according to one of Ireland’s leading music journalists.
“This music is generated in the heart of man and is therefore fundamentally of the religious need, which is the fundamental original need of man; to know who made him, who he is, where he is bound,” said John Waters in an Aug. 21 interview with CNA.
Waters is the creator of a new exhibition entitled “Three chords and a longing for the truth; rock ‘n’ roll as a seeking for the infinite.” The display is proving to be hugely popular at the 33rd Rimini Meeting, an international gathering organized by the lay Catholic movement Communion and Liberation.
“The media always present rock ‘n’ roll simply as some kind of extravaganza of sensation and noise and stardom and narcissism and ego mania. But we are saying that within this shell of superficiality there is a hard core of fundamental content which is really the cry of man expressed in a modern idiom.”
Beyond the 800,000 visitors to this year’s Rimini Meeting, Waters wanted to offer his hi-tech, interactive exhibition to one person in particular – Pope Benedict XVI.
“When he was elected in 2005, all the hostile journalists dug back through all of his articles and speeches and tried to find things that would discredit him,” Waters said, recalling how the media finally unearthed a 1996 article in which Cardinal Ratzinger had opined, in the words of Waters, that “rock ‘n’ roll only appeals to the lower emotions of man and was therefore dangerous.”
Waters believes that Pope Benedict “is right in a certain sense,” that our modern culture only wants rock ‘n’ roll to be about “exaggerated sexuality, self-indulgence and narcissism.”
But he also wanted to show the pontiff a deeper reality.
“I wanted in a way to take the Pope by the elbow and lead him into this music and say, ‘come, there’s more, look at these artists, look at Bob Dylan, listen to what he is saying, listen to Leonard Cohen, listen to U2, see the sincerity of these people with the great questions that face man. And don’t be taken in by the exterior, by the noise, by the sensation, by the headlines.’”
At 57 years-old, Waters has been writing about rock ‘n’ roll for over 30 years, having started out in journalism in Dublin with the Irish political-music magazine Hot Press in 1981. At the same time and in the same city, the band U2 was beginning its ascent to rock stardom. Waters believes that the Irish group, fronted by lead singer Bono, is a classic example of, what he calls, a cultural “Trojan horse.”
“When U2 began they were a very overtly Christian band but they got hammered by the critics, particularly in the U.K., and after several albums they began to realize that they couldn’t survive in this medium if they didn’t change.”
What changed, however, was only their exterior. “They became more ironic, they dressed differently, they moved differently, but their music remained the same.”
Thus U2 managed to win over the same critics, he said, which then “allowed them to bring their music even further into the center of the public square.”
Waters contests that there is an “Atlantic divide” when it comes to the “credent pillars of modern pop and rock ‘n’ roll,” with a “British model” that is more ideological and destructive, standing in contrast to its American counterpart.
The British model, as exemplified by the 1970s punk movement, “always seemed to believe that rock ‘n’ roll should be a political form of rebellion which implicitly became socially left-wing,” Waters said. But the American model has “always had a far more existential dimension, a far broader dimension,” a characteristic that he traces to its “relationship with the primal music of the Blues and Gospel.”
So while the British model has tended to inform the analysis of music critics, it is “not necessarily the impulse that is to be found in the music,” he said, holding up legendary American artists such as Sam Cooke, Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen as examples.
“They play the game of the modern culture, speaking to the communications media in a certain language, and yet in their songs they speak an entirely different language.”
As for that visit by Pope Benedict XVI to his exhibition in Rimini? “The Pope hasn’t yet arrived but maybe he will get to hear something of what we’ve done here,” Waters quipped with a smile.
Washington D.C., Aug 22, 2012 (CNA) -
Platform drafters for the Republican Party have approved language asserting a firm commitment to the defense of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
“The institution of marriage is the foundation of civil society,” the draft document states. “Its success as an institution will determine our success as a nation.”
The document says that both experience and studies indicate that marriage has physical, emotional, academic and economic benefits for children.
It reaffirms the party's support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, while also highlighting that all Americans should be treated with “respect and dignity” regardless of their sexual orientation.
An Aug. 21 statement from the D.C.-based Family Research Council said that president Tony Perkins, a delegate in the subcommittee dealing with family issues, played a role in helping “to reinforce the language on marriage.”
The language will receive a vote at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., and is expected to pass.
The draft document acknowledges marriage as “the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.”
It warns of activist judges attempting to exercise power that rightly belong to other branches of government.
Judges in a handful of states have ordered that marriage be redefined to include same-sex couples, but in every state where the question has been put to a vote of the people, marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been upheld.
The approved GOP draft language reiterates the party’s commitment to the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for federal purposes and affirms the right of states and the federal government not to recognize same-sex relationships from other jurisdictions.
The law, which received bipartisan support in Congress and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, has come under attack in recent months.
In February 2011, the Obama administration announced that it believed the law was discriminatory and unconstitutional and would therefore stop defending it in court.
Last month, reports indicated that a Democratic drafting committee voted to add a plank endorsing “gay marriage” to the party's national platform.
The GOP draft document also applauds the efforts of states that have adopted constitutional amendments to define marriage as “the union of one man and one woman” and voices support for a similar amendment at the federal level.
While acknowledging the reality of one-parent households in the U.S., it insists that marriage as the union of one man and one woman “must be upheld as the national standard, a goal to stand for, encourage, and promote through laws governing marriage.”
The Republican Party’s platform committee has also drafted a resolution reiterating its opposition to abortion and support for a human life amendment to defend unborn children, while a Democratic committee rejected a request to recognize the pro-life stance of some of its members in its platform.
Washington D.C., Aug 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, head of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference, has been invited to offer the closing prayer at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
The news was announced by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in an exclusive interview with Raymond Arroyo, host of EWTN's news program The World Over.
Cardinal Dolan will give the concluding benediction prayer on August 30, the final night of the GOP convention, where Mitt Romney is slated to accept the presidential nomination for his party.
The cardinal has not endorsed either candidate in the 2012 presidential race.
However, he has been an outspoken critic of a mandate issued by the Obama administration to require employers to offer health insurance plans that covers contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
Numerous dioceses, non-profit organization and Catholic-owned businesses have sued the administration, arguing that the mandate violates the First Amendment by forcing them to compromise their deeply held religious convictions.
Obama has also voiced support for abortion and is the first U.S. president to openly advocate a redefinition of marriage to include homosexual couples.
In an Aug. 23 statement, New York archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said that “usual church protocol” requires a request for prayer from the local bishop.
But after contacting Bishop Robert Lynch of Diocese of Saint Petersburg, Fla., “who gave the Cardinal his approval,” Cardinal Dolan accepted the GOP's invitation.
“It was made clear to the convention organizers, however, that the Cardinal was coming only to pray not to endorse, and that he would be willing to accept a similar offer from the Democratic Party as well,” Zwilling added.
“That same sentiment was conveyed to the Democratic National Committee.”
During his interview with Romney, Arroyo said that the presidential candidate “breaks news about what we can expect at the Republican National Convention and reacts to charges by President Obama that he chose Paul Ryan as his running mate to lower his personal tax burden.”
“He also talks about the hot issue of religious liberty, the role of prayer in his life, and how being a bishop in the Mormon Church prepared him for the presidency,” he said.
The interview with Romney will air on EWTN at 8 p.m. EDT on Aug. 23.
Updated on Aug. 23, 2012 at 10:55 a.m. MST. Adds statement from Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling on details surrounding the GOP invite to Cardinal Dolan.