Washington D.C., Sep 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Surveys indicate that the Catholic vote is “too close to call,” a Catholic research center at Georgetown University says.
“The vote of Catholics remains quite evenly split: 47 percent for President Obama and 45 percent for Gov. Romney,” the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate said Sept. 17.
The statistically tied candidates have rarely topped 50 percent of the Catholic vote. The small percentage of Catholic registered voters will likely decide the winner of the Catholic vote in a country where one in four voters is Catholic.
The research center aggregated data from polls that surveyed a Catholic sub-group, including Pew, Gallup and TIPP.
Among Protestants, Gov. Romney leads the president by 51 to 40 percent. Those without a religious affiliation largely favor the president, with 63 percent saying they will vote for him and only 27 percent stating they will vote for Romney.
Democrat President Obama has led Gov. Romney by nine percentage points once in March and once in July, while the Republican nominee had his biggest lead of five percentage points in April.
Catholic voters have long been considered an important voting bloc because the presidential candidate who wins over the majority of Catholic voters generally wins the election. However, some commentators question whether the “Catholic vote” exists given the divisions among Catholics.
The Nov. 6, 2012 presidential election is expected to be very close, with the two candidates vying to win every percentage point of the electorate they can to their corner.
Denver, Colo., Sep 18, 2012 (CNA) - On Sept. 13, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver opened a new chapter in the history of the Augustine Institute by blessing and dedicating a new campus for the Catholic graduate school which focuses on the New Evangelization.
Augustine Institute president and Sacred Scripture professor Dr. Timothy Gray said members of the institute think of the new building as “Augustine Institute 2.0.”
“It’s a new beginning for the Augustine Institute,” he said.
Gray said the fiber-optic connection in the new building will allow for internet streaming of classes, question and answer sessions, and training for youth ministry.
“This gives us an incredible platform for video, radio and education so we can reach the world,” he said. “This gives us a platform to reach the world for Christ.”
The Augustine Institute was founded in 2005 to provide graduate studies in theology. It has 60 students on campus. Over 200 students from 35 U.S. states, Canada and Australia are enrolled in its distance education program.
The institute’s new campus, located in the Denver Tech Center, houses a larger chapel, a video production studio and the Tolle Lege Coffee Bar.
The coffee bar takes its name from a passage in St. Augustine’s Confessions in which the great thinker and theologian recounted a distraught time in his youth when he heard children sing in Latin the phrase “take up and read.” Their words inspired him to read the Bible and turn from his pagan life.
Archbishop Aquila told CNA that the archdiocese is “truly blessed” to have the Augustine Institute, which he described as “part of the New Evangelization.”
He said the institute is “a way to join the intellect and the heart and to help not only the minds of these young people grow to understand the teaching of the Church, but more importantly to let their hearts grow to truly fall in love with the Lord and to come to know him as the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
Gray said the school drew inspiration from Pope John Paul II’s 1993 visit to Denver.
“He wanted to show that the gospel belongs in the modern, high-tech, secular world,” Gray asserted. “Now here’s the Augustine Institute, answering his summons for an evangelization. And where are we? God provides for us to be right in the heart of the Tech Center.”
The institute aims to form students in a Catholic worldview that is “deeply biblical” but also engages with “postmodernism and secular culture.”
Archbishop Aquila praised the institute’s work in catechetics and scripture, as well as its new evangelization programs.
The archbishop said he was impressed with a young man from his former Diocese of Fargo who studied at the institute. The young man’s heart is “truly on fire for the Lord” and he has used his studies to deepen his faith and the faith of others.
“He’s only one example of the many that I know who have gone on to become directors of religious education, principals, or teachers in different schools.”
Gray credited God with the success of the Augustine Institute.
“Every step of the way, in our young seven-year history, God has intervened and blessed us,” he said. “God wants this new evangelization to happen.”
The institute was previously at the campus of Denver’s Teikyo Loretto Heights University.
The Augustine Institute’s website is www.augustineinstitute.org.
Providence, R.I., Sep 18, 2012 (CNA) -
A Rhode Island judge ruled that although there is merit to her case, the niece of an elderly woman who left $60 million to the Legion of Christ ultimately lacks standing to contest her aunt's will.
“Without doubt in this case, the totality of the circumstances is at least suspicious and calls for some explanation,” wrote Judge Michael Silverstein in his Sept. 7 decision.
The case of Mary Lou Dauray, niece of the deceased Gabrielle Mee, was dismissed since Dauray is not a beneficiary of her aunt's will or trust and is not trying to recover any of Mee's money for herself.
According to court documents, Dauray's intention in the case was to see her aunt's wishes honored, as she believes the Legion fraudulently pushed Mee into giving massive sums of money to the beleaguered organization.
Mee, who passed away in 2008, and her late husband – who died in 1985 – were deeply pious Catholics and believed that one should “give back to God some of what God has given you,” reported court records.
Mee was at first a benefactor of a fledgling religious order, but in 1989 was introduced to the Legion of Christ. She was told that the Legion was “with the Catholic church without deviation,” and on this basis she chose financially support it.
That year, she began supporting the Legion, with a gift of $1 million. She visited the Legion's center in Cheshire, Conn. and there met Father Marcial Maciel, the order's founder.
After her husband's death, she became a consecrated woman with the Legion in 1991 and lived at the house belonging to the Rhode Island chapter of Regnum Christi – the group's associated lay movement.
That year Mee modified her will such that 90 percent of her assets would go to the Legion. She continued to modify her will until 2000, at which time she left all her assets to the Legion and made Father Anthony Bannon, a Legionary priest, executor of her estate.
In 1994, Mee modified her charitable trust to benefit the Legion rather than the now-dissolved fledgling order which it had originally supported. This relationship was on the condition that “should the said Legion ever...cease to be faithful to the Holy Father,” then another recipient should be chosen, ultimately The Papal Foundation.
The trust was put under the care of a three-person committee, the members of which were appointed by the Legion. These changes were allegedly written by Fr. Bannon at Mee's request, and were adopted by the trustee bank, Bank of America.
Despite ruling that Dauray is unable to sue over her aunt's will, the judge chose to consider for the sake of argument the suits brought before him. Dauray claimed that the Legion unduly influenced, fraudulently induced, and persuaded Mee to modifying her will and trust in their favor. She also claimed that Bank of America breached its fiduciary duties as the trustee bank.
The Legion and the Bank of America sought summary judgment in each of the matters because Dauray allegedly could not present evidence proving her claims.
Had Dauray the basis on which to bring the claims, the judge indicated that he would have denied summary judgment on the claims of undue influence, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty – demonstrating Dauray did present considerable evidence of these activities.
Summary judgment would have been granted in the mistake claim, but only because the allegations are so similar to those of fraud as to be substantially the same claim. A denial of summary judgment would mean that the claims would go to trial.
Dauray's attorney says she is considering an appeal.
In 2006 the press office of the Holy See released a communique regarding Fr. Maciel saying that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith began receiving allegations of impropriety against him in 1998. In 2001 Cardinal Ratzinger, then prefect of the congregation, ordered an investigation into the allegations.
The 2006 communique announced that as a result of the investigation and without a hearing, Fr. Maciel was removed from public ministry and “invited” to a life of penitence and prayer. At that time the Legion and Regnum Christi were still acknowledged as worthy organizations.
After the release of this communique Mee continued to make gifts from her personal bank account to the Legion amounting to $2.2 million, including a $400,000 gift directed immediately by Fr. Bannon four days prior to Mee's death.
The Legion has been overseen by Cardinal Velasio de Paolis since 2010, after an apostolic visitation determined that the order needed “profound re-evaluation.”
In February of this year, 30 consecrated women of Regnum Christi, including the head, left the movement.
Rome, Italy, Sep 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A relic of 16th century Jesuit missionary, St. Francis Xavier, has arrived in Australia ahead of a 3-month tour of the country that is expected to draw tens of thousands of pilgrims.
“St. Francis has always held a special place in the hearts of Catholic Australians,” said Auxiliary Bishop Peter Comensoli as the relic arrived in Sydney Sept. 16.
“I want to personally invite you and your family and friends to take up this unique and unrepeatable opportunity to experience the person of Christ – his grace, mercy and peace – through the presence of this great saint’s relic.”
The relic is the baptizing right arm of the Spanish saint who christened tens of thousands of people during his missionary work in the Africa, India and the Far East. For 400 years it has been kept in the mother-Church of the Jesuit order in Rome, the Gesu.
On Friday Sept. 14, though, Bishop Comensoli took possession of it during a special ceremony in the Gesu, before making for Rome’s main airport and a 23-hour flight to Sydney.
“When we were a missionary country, St. Francis was – along with St. Therese of the Child Jesus – our co-patron,” explained Bishop Comensoli.
“Many cathedrals, churches and schools are named after him and he continues to inspire us as a tremendous example of a missionary and evangelizer and he intercedes for our nation every day.”
Upon arrival in Australia, the relic was taken to St. Mary’s Church in North Sydney where a special Mass was offered by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney along with Fr. Steve Curtin, the Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Australia. Following the Mass, hundreds of people waited patiently to venerate the relic.
St. Francis Xavier was a student of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the 16th century founder of the Society of Jesus or “Jesuits”. One of the first seven Jesuits, St. Francis travelled traveled extensively, mainly in the Portuguese Empire, making many converts in India, Japan and the islands of South East Asia such as Borneo.
It had always been the ambition of St. Francis to reach China. He died, however, on an island less than 10 miles from the Chinese mainland in 1552. He was 46-years-old. His body is now buried in the Indian state of Goa but his right arm was taken to Rome in the early 17th century.
The relic of St. Francis has arrived in Australia to assist the Church down under in marking a “Year of Grace” ahead of Pope Benedict's universal “Year of Faith” which begins across the globe next month.
The relic will now tour across the country in a specially made reliquary over the next three months.
For more information on where to visit the relic of St. Francis Xavier, visit: http://www.sydneycatholic.org/events/pilgrimageofgrace/.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sep 18, 2012 (CNA) -
Thousands of young people gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the release of the official song for World Youth Day Rio 2013, titled “Esperanca do Amanhecer” or “Hope of the Morning.”
The song was composed by Father Jose Candido, who has written numerous liturgical hymns that are popular in Brazil. It was released during an event for young people on Sept. 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
Brazilian singers Adriana, Eliana Ribeiro, Walmir Alencar, Olivia Ferreira and Leandro Souza lent their voices to the recording and performed the song live during the debut. Fr. Candido, along with Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Rio, and the Apostolic Nuncio to Brazil, Archbishop Giovanni d’Aniello, also attended the event.
“I think today is a beautiful day for all of us,” Archbishop Tempesta said.
“We are releasing the official World Youth Day Rio 2013 song, keeping in mind that out of 180 submissions, it was a difficult choice to make in order to create a song...that would convey the theme of WYD, 'Go and make disciples among all nations.'”
Organizers told CNA translations of the song into various other languages are not yet finished.
The lyrics to the WYD 2013 song can be found at: http://www.rio2013.com/pt/a-jornada/hino. To see a video of the song, visit: http://www.rio2013.com/pt/multimidia/videos/127/Clipe-do-Hino-Oficial-da-JMJ-Rio2013.
Lyon, France, Sep 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon said government approval of gay “marriage” in France could pave the way for the legalization of incest and polygamy.
The cardinal made his statements on Sept.14 after a meeting with France’s Interior Minister, Manuel Valls.
In an interview on French radio, Cardinal Barbarin said that same-sex unions constitute “a breakdown in society.”
“This will lead to unspeakable consequences. Next they will want unions between three or four people. One day, perhaps, the prohibition against incest will fall,” the cardinal warned.
French President Francois Hollande promised during his campaign that if elected he would push for the legalization of homosexual marriage and adoption by same-sex couples.
A bill that would allow such practices is currently under debate in France and is expected to come before the Council of Ministers on Oct. 24.
“Marriage is a word that represents a wall, in order to ensure that in the most fragile place of society, that is, in a woman who gives life to a child, all of the stable conditions are present to ensure that this takes place under the best of possibilities,” the cardinal said.
Vatican City, Sep 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and 34 other clergymen were announced Sept. 18 by the Vatican as synod fathers for the upcoming assembly of bishops on the New Evangelization.
The synod fathers include Cardinal Sodano, dean of the college of cardinals; Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna; Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, England; Bishop Dominique Rey of Frejus-Toulon, France; and Father Julian Carron of the Communion and Liberation movement.
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles is the only American among the 35 synod fathers, who are tasked with guiding the discussions of the assembly’s meetings.
The synod is due to take place Oct. 7-28, and its presidents delegate are Cardinals John Tong Hon of Hong Kong, Francisco Ortega of Guadalajara, and Laurent Pasinya of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. It will bring bishops to Rome from the whole world to discuss the New Evangelization, which is aimed at reintroducing the Catholic faith in lands where it was previously present.
The gathering will be guided by a working document, issued June 19, which is the result of consultation with the worldwide Church for more than a year.
According to that document, the New Evangelization must provide “an adequate response to the signs of the times, to the needs of individuals and people of today and to the new sectors with their cultures through which we express our identity and the meaning of our lives.”
The synod coincides with the Year of Faith, which will begin Oct. 11, 2012, and is meant to be a moment of grace to strengthen Christians' faith and joy in proclaiming Christ to the world.
The synod of bishops was established in 1965 by Pope Paul VI to “foster the unity and cooperation of bishops around the world with the Holy See.”
There are two categories of synod: general and special. The last special gathering was held in 2010 to focus on the Church in the Middle East, while the last general assembly was held in 2008 on the Word of God. The upcoming meeting on evangelization will fall into the general category and will be the 13th of its kind.
Los Angeles, Calif., Sep 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput told the Los Angeles Catholic Prayer Breakfast Sept. 18 that Catholics must take responsibility for the evangelization of the country, and pursue this goal through humility and spiritual discipline.
“The task of preaching, teaching, growing and living the Catholic faith in our time, in this country, belongs to you and me. No one else can do it,” he told the crowd gathered outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
“The future depends on God, but he builds it with the living stones we give him by the example of our lives.”
During his remarks, he said Christians must rediscover God’s joy, “radiate” God’s word, and make their Christian witness “frank and contagious.”
He noted Christianity’s historical rise from a “fringe” religious group to become the official religion of the Roman Empire. However, he warned that Christianity can decline into corruption and has even become extinct in some regions, like some areas conquered by Islamic expansion.
“We need to discipline ourselves to be ready for God’s grace,” he said.
“If our hearts are cold, if our minds are closed, if our spirits are fat and acquisitive, curled up on a pile of our possessions, then the Church in this country will die. It’s happened before in other times and places, and it can happen here.”
Archbishop Chaput cited several negative trends in his own archdiocese: low Sunday Mass attendance and rare use of the confessional; a decline in church marriages, infant baptisms and priestly vocations; a clergy abuse crisis; and years of deficit spending.
Nationwide, he added, about ten percent of Americans say they are ex-Catholics.
“That’s our reality as disciples,” the archbishop said. “That’s the debris of failure we need to deal with if we want to repair God’s house.”
God is faithful, he continued, but God makes no guarantees that church infrastructure will endure.
“Jesus said the gates of hell would never prevail against his Church, and his word is good. But he didn’t promise anything about our local real estate and institutions,” the archbishop said.
Israel’s revivals began with grief over sins, praise for God’s faithfulness, and hopeful repentance, he added. However, there are no “shortcuts” and this path must include “humility and confession.”
He said Christians’ task of evangelization is not “impossible” but only “uncomfortable and inconvenient.”
Drawing on Pope Benedict XVI’s 2011 apostolic letter “Porta Fidei,” Archbishop Chaput said that modern life is often “isolating and even frightening.” A “profound crisis of faith” has resulted in a collapse of cultural unity, which means it is “very easy for people to develop habits that undermine virtue, character and moral judgment.”
“The Pope’s answer to this crisis doesn’t scold the culture,” Archbishop Chaput said. “Instead he turns to us, to the Church.”
“He’s asking us to tear down the cathedral we build to ourselves, the whole interior architecture of our vanities, our resentments and our endless appetites, and to channel all the restless fears and longings of modern life into a hunger for the Holy Spirit.”
Archbishop Chaput recounted the Pope’s suggestions for the upcoming Year of Faith, launching worldwide next month. Parishes and other church groups should study the creed and the Catechism of the Catholic Church because right doctrine unifies Catholics and “reorients our lives away from the idolatries of individualism and greed, and points us toward Jesus Christ.”
Christians should intensify their “witness of charity” because charitable acts help their neighbor and teach themselves the true meaning of their faith. They should also study Church history to find how holiness and sin are “so often woven together.”
Archbishop Chaput said this last point is relevant to responding to the clergy sex abuse scandal, which included “bitter suffering” for the innocent amid “failures in leadership” among U.S. bishops.
He warned against worldly attitudes that have established themselves in the Church and make the Church “worse than the world” through “greater mediocrity and even greater ugliness.”
God asks all Christians to live a life of “honesty, holiness, heroism and sacrifice,” the archbishop concluded.