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Archive of September 4, 2012

Pope pays tribute to Cardinal Martini as a tireless servant

Milan, Italy, Sep 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who was buried Sept. 3 in Milan, the northern Italian city where he served as archbishop for over two decades.

“May the Lord, who guided Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini his whole life, receive this tireless servant of the Gospel and of the Church in the Heavenly Jerusalem,” said Pope Benedict in a personal message that was read to mourners by his representative, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Cardinal Martini died at the age of 85 on Friday, Aug. 31 after suffering for several years from Parkinson’s disease.

A native of Turin, Carlo Maria Martini entered the Society of Jesus in 1944 and was ordained a priest eight years later. In 1979, Pope John Paul II appointed him the Archbishop of Milan, Europe’s largest diocese, elevating him to the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1983. He retired as archbishop in 2002.

A respected scholar, Cardinal Martini held a doctorate in Theology and Sacred Scripture and served as rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Gregorian Pontifical University.

“He was a man of God, who not only studied the Bible, but loved it intensely, he made it the light of his life, so that everything was ‘ad maiorem Dei gloriam,’ for the greater glory of God,” Pope Benedict said in his message.

Listening on were some 20,000 mourners both inside and outside the cathedral. Among them was the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti. The funeral rite itself was presided over by the present Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Angelo Scola.

Pope Benedict said that Cardinal Martini’s intellect and ability to dialogue with others meant that he was able to teach believers and “those who were seeking the truth” that “the only word worthy of being listened to, accepted and followed is that of God, because it shows all the path of truth and love.” 

He did so with “a great openness of heart, never refusing to encounter and dialogue with anyone, responding concretely to the Apostle’s invitation to ‘always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,’” Pope Benedict said.

All of this, the Pope reflected, led to Cardinal Martini to have a “spirit of profound pastoral charity.”

The pontiff said this was especially true for those Cardinal Martini met who were in the most difficult circumstances. Cardinal Martini was “lovingly close to those who were lost, the poor, the suffering.”

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Father Groeschel steps down from EWTN show

Irondale, Ala., Sep 4, 2012 (CNA) - Franciscan friar Father Benedict Groeschel has stepped down as host of EWTN’s Sunday Night Prime television show following his apology for making comments about the sexual abuse of minors.

“Father Benedict has led a life of tremendous compassion and service to others and his spiritual insights have been a great gift to the EWTN family for many years. We are profoundly grateful to him and assure him of our prayers,” Michael P. Warsaw, president and CEO of EWTN Global Catholic Network, said Sept. 3.

“At the same time, we ask our EWTN family to pray for all those who have been affected by this painful situation and in particular those who have been victims of sexual abuse.”

Fr. Groeschel decided to step down from the program after consulting with EWTN and with his religious community, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Warsaw said.

In a National Catholic Register interview published Aug. 27, Fr. Groeschel suggested that a minor is “the seducer” in “a lot” of sexual abuse cases. He said he was inclined to think that abusers on their first offense should not go to jail “because their intention was not committing a crime.”

Fr. Groeschel apologized for the remarks last week, saying he did not intend to “blame the victim.” He affirmed that a priest or anyone else who abuses a minor is “always always wrong” and “always responsible.”

“I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone,” the priest said, adding that his mind and his way of expressing himself are “not as clear as they used to be.”

Warsaw said the comments at the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register “should never have been published” and “in no way” reflect the views of the Register or EWTN.

“It should have been obvious to the editor that Father Benedict's physical condition and mental clarity have deteriorated and that the comments were completely inconsistent with his life's work and witness,” the EWTN president said. “We apologize that these remarks were published and ask for forgiveness for this error.”

EWTN’s Sunday Night Prime program will continue with other Franciscan Friars of the Renewal serving as hosts.

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Upholding ethical truths is not intolerance, Pope states

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI told a group of his former students that Christians should not be scared to uphold ethical truths despite the fear of being branded “intolerant.” 

“Today, the concepts of truth and intolerance have almost fused together, so that to say that one has the truth becomes synonymous with intolerance. And we Christians do not dare to believe or to speak about the truth,” the Pope said in his homily during Sunday morning Mass at Castel Gandolfo.

The Sept. 2 liturgy at the papal summer residence marked the conclusion of this year’s Ratzinger Schülerkreis or Ratzinger Student Circle. Since 1977 the annual event has drawn together those who defended their doctoral theses with the present Pope during his years teaching theology at various universities in Germany.

According the Vatican Radio, Pope Benedict’s homily was based on an analysis of a passage in the Book of Deuteronomy that recalled how Israel received God’s law, which brought it authentic wisdom. The Pope said this wisdom was a gift to take joy in, rather than the result of some individual genius.

Similarly, he said, the Church is a “universal Israel” that must also take joy in God’s gift of Christ, the Law made flesh, without any sense of triumphalism but with gratitude for a gift we did not create. We must learn “to allow ourselves to be led by the truth,” he said, “then the truth will be able to shine through us anew, for the salvation of the world.”

Last year, for the first time ever, the Schülerkreis also included those who have written their doctrinal theses on texts by Joseph Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI. With the addition of those students, the number of those participating in the three days of closed-door seminars increased to approximately 40.

This year the topic for group study and discussion was the Church’s ecumenical dialogue with Anglicanism and Lutheranism. 

Schülerkreis member Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna recalled how Pope Benedict explained that “the most important thing is that we listen to each other” since as fellow Christians we cannot create unity, which “is a gift from God.” What can be done in ecumenism, added the Pope, is to “learn from each other how to follow Christ today.” 

“That is beautiful,” said Cardinal Schönborn, “because it gave us such an input of hope for what were are doing with these dialogues that are often apparently without results – but if we meet each other in faith, then it is really a mutual enrichment in the faith in Christ.”

Pope Benedict’s 26-year academic career involved him teaching at universities in Bonn, Munster, Tubingen and Regensburg. He was appointed as Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977.

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World Youth Day organizers report widespread interest

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sep 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - According to World Youth Day Rio organizers, less than 24 hours after registration for the event opened, some 220 groups from all parts of the globe have begun the process.

The very first pilgrim to sign up for the gathering was Pope Benedict XVI, who is planning to be in Rio to meet with the youth.

Sister Maria Shaiane, director of registration for World Youth Day 2013, told CNA that the event is “open to all people.

“Everyone can participate, and to do so they should register.” While there is no age limit for World Youth Day volunteers, participants must be between the ages of 16 and 35.

Those who want to come to Rio should be “young people who come with joy, who want to have a personal encounter with Christ. After this encounter with the Lord, young people will be able to make other disciples and help to build a new civilization,” Sister Shaiane said.

“It is also important that young people know that World Youth Day is a challenge that demands courage, faith and bravery,” she added.

The event is “a unique experience of living the faith and encounter thousands of young people who also embrace the same challenge: being a young Christian in today’s world. Welcome to WYD Rio 2013!” she said.

So far, young people from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and Venezuela have confirmed their attendance.

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Mexican bishops call for end to presidential election feud

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 4, 2012 (CNA) - The Bishops of Mexico have urged the country’s political parties to accept a court decision upholding the results of the July 1 presidential election, won by the candidate Enrique Pena Nieto.

In a statement issued on August 30 and signed by the secretary general of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Auxiliary Bishop Victor Rene Rodriguez Gomez of Texcoco, the prelates called on all parties to accept the unanimous ruling by the seven justices of the Electoral Court.

In their ruling, the justices rejected the arguments made by a coalition of political parties that included the Democratic Revolutionary Party, the Worker’s Party and the Citizens’ Movement, which supported presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. 

They had called for the election to be nullified, alleging voting irregularities and fraud.  The court found no basis for their allegations.

Alejandro Encinas of the Democratic Revolutionary Party -- the same party responsible for the legalization of abortion and homosexual unions in Mexico City -- said the coalition would appeal to international organizations to contest the ruling.

In their statement, the bishops recognized the work of the justices and said, “There is no doubt they addressed each and every one of the complaints made by individuals and institutions.”

Therefore, they urged “all political parties to not only adhere to the decision by the electoral court, issued by the highest authority in electoral matters in the country, but also to ensure that they are focusing on the current situation Mexico is facing.”

“May Holy Mary of Guadalupe accompany us on this new journey of challenges and decisions that our nation is now facing in political and social matters.  Pray for us and for Mexico,” the bishops said.

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Planned Parenthood rally speakers frame pro-life views as anti-woman

Charlotte, N.C., Sep 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Supporters of Planned Parenthood argued at a Sept. 4 rally that pro-life views amount to the belief that women are inferior and should not have certain rights.

Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) asserted that pro-life politicians are trying to remove "women's basic rights" and the ability to control "their destinies."

Republicans believe that women "are not created equal" and do not include women "when they talk that freedom and liberty stuff," she argued.

Moore charged that abortion foes are radically "backward-looking" and warned against those who want women "to be barefoot and pregnant."

Moore was one of several speakers who endorsed President Barack Obama at a Sept. 4 Planned Parenthood rally held outside the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., during the Democratic National Convention.

The rally featured a woman dressed as a giant container of birth control pills who led chants, as well as speakers like Emily Sussman, executive director of Young Democrats of America, who declared that she is a "b-tch for choice."

Although the rally was not an official convention event, Planned Parenthood supporters wearing pink t-shirts were very prominent around the convention center.

Many of the speakers at the event focused on a controversial federal mandate that requires employers to provide health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and early abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.

Religious organizations and individuals across the country have voiced objections to the mandate, arguing that it infringes on their freedom of religion because such products and procedures are contrary to their beliefs.

Republican candidates have vowed to protect religious employers and those who object from the mandate.

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told the crowd that "we're fighting over the right of women in this country to have birth control" and argued that opponents of the mandate "want to let our boss decide whether or not we should be able to get birth control."

But the numerous churches and secular employers who object to the mandate have responded to these claims by pointing out that most companies already cover contraception and would be free to continue doing so. Employees who work for the minority of morally objecting employers can find contraception already widely available for little cost at many pharmacies and for free at some health clinics, they add.

Still, rally participants repeatedly made the claim that their opponents are attempting to prevent insurance policies from covering birth control.

Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker argued that the GOP is "denying women access to healthcare."

"You see, there's some people in the Republican Party that believe that when they say all men are created equal, that they are leaving out women," he said.

Speakers at the event veered away from discussing abortion, despite the fact that Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider.

"It's not just about abortion," said actress Aisha Tyler, a Planned Parenthood national board member.

When discussing the organization and surrounding issues in the months leading up to the election, she advised the crowd, “don't let it be about abortion,” shift the focus to "women's health."

The transition in emphasis may have been in response to polls that indicate Americans who identify as "pro-choice" are at an all-time low.

In addition, Democrats for Life of America recently announced that nearly one in three Democrats self-identifies as pro-life. The organization made an attempt to expand the party's 2012 platform to include pro-life positions in addition to pro-abortion views, but its request was rejected.

While they acknowledged that significantly lower rates of women supported the Democratic Party in the 2010 election, speakers at the Planned Parenthood rally did not address the growing numbers of pro-life Americans, and instead focused on the "extreme" views of those who oppose abortion and the contraception mandate.

Georgetown University law graduate Sandra Fluke also spoke at the rally, highlighting the importance of the 2012 election.

Fluke has become a hero for the push to promote the contraception mandate since she testified before a U.S. House committee in February on why she believed religious institutions such as Georgetown University should be required to provide free contraception to students.

The 31-year-old recounted stories of fellow students who allegedly suffered because they were unable to treat medical conditions with contraceptives, even though the university's student health care plan was later shown to cover birth control if needed for medical purposes rather than contraceptive ones.

Fluke told rally attendees to spread the word that women will die from lack of health care if Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are elected.

"This is personal," she stressed.

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