Brasilia, Brazil, Oct 1, 2012 (CNA) -
The bishops of Brazil have rapped a Brazilian sports magazine for printing photos of famous soccer star Neymar, in which he appears crucified.
In its October edition, the magazine Placar printed a photo spread featuring Brazilian soccer star Neymar's face photo-shopped over the famous painting of Christ crucified by Velasquez.
The caption under the photo refers to Neymar as a “sacrificial lamb” in a sport in which “everyone plays dirty.”
In response, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Brazil issued a statement expressing “profound indignation” over the photo. The secretary general of the bishops' conference, Bishop Leonardo Steiner, read the statement to reporters.
“We recognize freedom of expression as a fundamental principal of the state and democratic society, as long as there are objective limits in its exercise,” the bishops said.
“The ridicule of the faith and the disdain for the religious sentiments of the people through the disrespectful use of the image of Jesus Christ suggests the manipulation and exploitation of an editorial resource for mere commercial gain,” they added.
Those responsible for the publication of the photo “have at the very least shown themselves to be insensitive to the recent worldwide scene of deplorable violence caused by the inappropriate use of religious images, thus attacking the consolidation of respectful coexistence between groups of different beliefs,” the bishops noted.
They called the picture “a clear lack of respect that is offensive to what Christians consider to be most sacred, and it is another dangerous display of the famous device of using provocation to gain attention.”
Tyler, Texas, Oct 1, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a rare move, Pope Benedict XVI has named Monsignor Joseph E. Strickland, the vicar general of the Diocese of Tyler, as the next bishop of the same east Texas diocese he has served as a priest for over 25 years.
“I know it’s a tremendous task that I’m given. But I’m here with family,” Bishop-designate Strickland told a Sept. 29 press conference in Tyler.
He thanked God for his “wondrous blessings” and thanked the Pope “for his expression of confidence.” He also expressed his gratitude to his parents and his siblings, who were not present.
“I thank God for my Catholic faith that I was baptized into as an infant,” he added.
Priests are not usually appointed bishops of the diocese in which they are presently ministering, the bishop-designate noted.
“I do feel greatly blessed. It’s a very real call from God to serve here.”
The press conference displayed the bishop-designate’s sense of humor.
He joked that he parked in the previous bishop’s parking space and said that the volume of congratulatory e-mails and text messages was so great that he needed a cooling system for his phone.
Bishop-designate Strickland, 53, was ordained a priest in 1985 for the Diocese of Dallas just before Pope John Paul II created the Diocese of Tyler from its territory in 1986. He has served as parochial vicar, diocesan vocations director, diocesan Scout chaplain, member of the diocesan tribunal and rector of Tyler’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
He was named a monsignor in 1995 and became vicar general of the diocese in 2010, the U.S. bishops’ conference reports.
The bishop-to-be was born Oct. 31, 1958 in Fredericksburg, Texas. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Dallas in 1981 and a master’s degree in divinity from Holy Trinity Seminary in Dallas. He has a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America.
Bishop-designate Strickland succeeds Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio, S.J., who is now Bishop of Mayaguez in Puerto Rico.
The Diocese of Tyler has 54,746 Catholics out of a population of almost 1.4 million. Its territory covers 23,443 square miles.
Washington D.C., Oct 1, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio encouraged six Supreme Court justices to allow God to inspire their pursuit of justice and to be a part of the New Evangelization.
“We speak so often of the new evangelization, because we recognize that we must be its instruments in all that we do,” Archbishop Broglio said at the 60th annual Red Mass in Washington, D.C.
The Sept. 30 Mass, which came one day before the start of the Supreme Court's fall session, brought Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Elena Kagan to the Cathedral of St. Matthew.
Archbishop Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese for the United States Military Services, explained in his homily that “justice looks only to truth” and for that reason, everyone in the cathedral was gathered “primarily to pray for you … as you execute the daunting task assigned to you at various levels.”
Rather than seeing justice as merely an earthly endeavor like the Apostles did before the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the archbishop encouraged those in attendance to allow God – “the only Just One” – to “inspire all that you do.”
The tradition of the Red Mass dates back to Europe over 700 years ago and is an occasion to pray for lawyers, judges and legislators, that God may help them in their work.
The Mass takes its name from the color of the priests' vestments, which is symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
As the Church approaches the Oct. 11 start to the Year of Faith, the archbishop explained that Catholics have always expressed their beliefs not only in worship “but also in witness.” His remarks may also have been an allusion to the ongoing fight between the Obama administration and churches over what the freedom of religion means and its extent.
“From the beginning the Church has been active in society to make a contribution, especially to the care of the poor, but also to education,” he said. “We cannot separate who we are from how we live.”
Archbishop Broglio encouraged prayer for “all of those gathered here that they might welcome the strength of the Holy Spirit and the interior dynamism with which he fills our hearts.”
He noted that although such a “mission is always audacious,” it is possible “with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
Referencing the reading from the Book of Numbers, Archbishop Broglio said that even though God lead his people out of Egypt, he still left them with “a structure and system to govern them.”
The D.C. Red Mass, which has been sponsored by the John Carroll society since 1953, is considered the most prominent because of its attendance by Supreme Court justices.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, served as the main celebrant of the Mass.
The only justices absent from the Mass were Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito, both of whom are Catholic, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is Jewish.
Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 1, 2012 (CNA) - A Philadelphia judge stayed the execution of Terrance Williams last Friday, and his case will now go to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The Pennsylvania bishops wrote to the Board of Pardons regarding Williams in September, saying that “the modern penal system provides alternatives to taking the lives of guilty persons, alternatives that break the cycle of violence in our society.”
On Sept. 28, Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina issued the stay after hearing testimony that the trial prosecutor misled the jury in Williams' case, withholding evidence that could have resulted in a sentence of life imprisonment, rather than the death penalty.
Williams was to have been executed Oct. 3. Now that the Philadelphia district attorney has appealed Judge Sarmina's decision, the case will go to the state's supreme court. If they reaffirm the execution, the governor will have to set a new execution date.
Pennsylvania has not executed anyone since 1999, and only three people since the death penalty was reinstated there in 1978. All three persons executed eventually gave up the appeals process before their execution.
Williams was convicted for the 1984 murder of Amos Norwood, which Williams committed when he was 18.
Two other men are on Pennsylvania's death row, and the next scheduled to be executed is Hubert Michael, on Nov. 8.
The bishops of Pennsylvania, writing to the board of pardons, said that they did not want Williams to go unpunished for the crimes for which he was convicted. At the same time, however, “punishment should reflect our belief in the inherent human dignity of each person,” the bishops stated.
The Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty may be used in the punishment of criminals, but only as a last resort. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that it can be used “if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”
“If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person,” the catechism says.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia commented on this in his Sept. 10 column, noting that even convicted murderers “retain their God-given dignity as human beings” and that “We don't need to kill people to protect society or punish the guilty.”
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference wrote in 2001 that “modern societies can imprison and isolate offenders for long periods of time to promote the safety of their citizens,” thus rendering capital punishment unjustifiable in the state of Pennsylvania.
“When we take a murderer's life we only add to the violence in an already violent culture, and we demean our own dignity in the process,” Archbishop Chaput concluded in his Sept. 10 column.