New York City, N.Y., Oct 5, 2012 (CNA) - A self-described “pro-choice terrorist” on Wednesday was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for his 2010 internet death threats against pro-life leaders like Fr. Frank Pavone and Princeton University law professor Robert P. George.
Theodore Shulman, 51, was sentenced to 41 months in prison in Manhattan federal court. He will also face three years of supervised release, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
“I have already publicly forgiven Mr. Shulman and pray for him every day,” Fr. Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, said Oct. 4.
The priest renewed his previous joint statement with Bill Baird, a proponent of legal abortion, that Fr. Pavone said rejected “hatred and violence in word and deed between those on opposite sides of the abortion issue.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York said the sentencing shows that advocating one’s point of view through threats of violence is illegal and “will be punished.”
“The vibrant exchange of ideas that is a hallmark of our society does not include threats,” he said Oct. 3.
In May, Shulman pled guilty to one count of transmitting a threat to injure another person.
In January 2010 he left a message on the FirstThings.com blog “Second Hand Smoke” which referred to the trial of Scott Roeder, the murderer of Kansas abortionist George Tiller.
Shulman said that if Roeder were acquitted, “someone will respond by killing” Prof. George and Fr. Pavone, the head of the pro-life group Priests for Life.
He allegedly left a threatening voice mail message with the Calif.-based Life Legal Defense Foundation’s legal director Catherine Short. Pro-life blogger Jill Stanek has said Shulman has made threats against her. He also reportedly threatened Troy Newman, president of the Kansas-based Operation Rescue.
At the time of Shulman’s February 2011 arrest, he had cyanide, castor peas and rosary peas in his possession. Both types of peas contain deadly toxins that are capable of killing humans.
He is the son of feminist activist and author Alix Kates Shulman. He started a blog called “Operation Counterstrike” whose mission statement said “Right-to-lifism is murder, and ALL right-to-lifers are bloody-handed accessories. Swear it, believe it, proclaim it, and act on it.”
Indianapolis, Ind., Oct 5, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The family of Indiana priest Father Christiaan Kappes and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis are concerned about his apparent disappearance in Greece.
“We are praying for the well-being of Father Kappes and his family and for Father Kappes’ safe return to the United States,” the archdiocese said Oct. 4. “We are concerned that Father Kappes’ family has not been able to contact him in recent days. The archdiocese also has not been able to locate him.”
The 37-year-old priest, a native of Indiana, had been engaged in doctoral studies in Athens on Orthodox Christian theology at the request of the Vatican.
Greg Otolski, executive director of communications for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, told CNA the circumstances of the priest’s disappearance are still unclear.
“There are a lot of questions and no answers,” he said Oct. 4.
The priest’s family members said the priest’s translator and close friend Ioanna Lekakou was involved in a major dispute over her family’s inheritance. Fr. Kappes told them someone had threatened to kill her and he believed he too had become a target.
“He told my dad on Monday, ‘If you don't hear from me in 12 to 24 hours, I'm dead,’” Father Kappes’ sister Nadia Charcap told Fox 59 News.
The priest reportedly sought help from the U.S. Embassy but did not receive the assistance he needed. A priest in Greece said he dropped off Fr. Kappes and his translator at the Athens airport, from which they planned to fly to Indianapolis on separate flights.
It is not known whether either made it on a plane.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis said it has been in contact with the apostolic nuncio to the United States, who is investigating the matter. U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) is also investigating.
Fr. Kappes was participating in a pilot program set up between the Vatican and the Greek government to study Greek Orthodox theology in hopes of overcoming the historical divisions between the Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, the archdiocese’s newspaper The Criterion reported in 2009.
Rockville Centre, N.Y., Oct 5, 2012 (CNA) - Facing financial challenges, New York’s Diocese of Rockville Centre is converting its weekly newspaper The Long Island Catholic into a subscription-based monthly magazine, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre announced Oct. 2.
Sean Dolan, director of communications, said the diocese hopes that readers will “enjoy the new diocesan magazine and support it enthusiastically.”
He said the magazine will be a resource for faith formation for the diocese’s Catholic families.
“It will be something people will be proud to leave out, pass along and share. In this year of faith, we need to evangelize. And we think this new magazine will help in that regard.”
Dolan said the newspaper has a “rich history” and served Catholics and local businesses for more than 50 years.”
The new form of the publication will save the diocese hundreds of thousands of dollars in its annual subsidy, he added. It will contain local news, faith stories, regular local columnists and new national columns.
The diocese said the magazine will be “more formational than informational.” It will explore individual stories about local Catholics’ faith. Columns on parenting and work will help readers bring their faith to daily life.
The magazine is based on the Diocese of Lansing’s FAITH Catholic Publishing model, which is used by more than 20 dioceses across the country.
Bishop Peter Libasci of Manchester, N.H., a former auxiliary bishop of Rockville Centre, uses the magazine model and has received favorable responses in readership surveys.
Subscriptions to the new magazine cost $30 per year for 10 issues. Those who contribute to the annual Long Island Catholic Collection on Dec. 3 can receive a subscription at a reduced price of $20.
The diocese’s website, www.drvc.org, will serve as the primary source for daily updated news and for breaking news.
The first issue of the new monthly magazine will be sent to current newspaper subscribers at the end of November.
The Diocese of Rockville Center serves over 1.7 million baptized Catholics with 134 parishes in 115 towns.
Vatican City, Oct 5, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A spirit of prayer will inspire the work of the forthcoming Synod of Bishops as it aims to create a roadmap for a new evangelization of historically Christian countries.
“Prayer accompanies and animates every Synodal activity,’ said Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, at an Oct. 5 media briefing.
He observed that every Christian is “invited to pray constantly, following the example of the Lord Jesus,” which is “all the more reason, (for) a meeting of bishops, representatives of the episcopate of the whole world, around the Bishop of Rome and the President of the Synod of Bishops” to be carried out in a context of prayer.
The 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will bring bishops from all over the world to Rome from Oct. 7-28 to discuss the theme of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” In total, 262 Synod Fathers will participate in the three weeks of discussion, held at the Vatican’s Synod Hall.
Archbishop Eterovic said that the synod will begin its first meeting by invoking the Holy Spirit who is “the main protagonist in any Synod.”
Every morning after the synod has opened, the bishops’ deliberations will begin with mid-morning prayer, while their afternoon sessions will be prefaced by a “brief oration” of a spiritual nature. Each session, morning and afternoon, will then conclude with “a cordial invocation of the protection of the Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and the Star of the New Evangelization.”
A chapel with the Blessed Sacrament is located next to the Synod Hall and will be open throughout the gathering to offer to participants “the chance to rest in mediation before the Master who continues to send his disciples along the road throughout the world to proclaim the Gospel,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Eterovic explained that the work of the synod will be accompanied by four papal liturgies.
The opening Mass for the synod on Oct. 7 will involve Pope Benedict XVI declaring St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as new Doctors of the Church.
The Pope’s next Mass will take place on Oct. 11 and will serve to launch the Church’s Year of Faith.
On Oct. 21, Pope Benedict will canonize seven new saints at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square. This includes two new American saints, Blessed Marianne Cope and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
Finally, the synod will conclude Oct. 28 with Pope Benedict celebrating Mass, joined by all the participating bishops and priests.
As well as a spiritual dimension, Archbishop Eterovic said the two other “mutually interlinking aspects” of the synod will be “theological pastoral reflection” and “technical and organizational preparation.”
The agenda for the gathering is laid out in its working document or “Instrumentum laboris.” It was published on June 19, following consultations with the worldwide Church for over a year.
“Each Synod Father should make reference to it in his speech,” said Archbishop Eterovic, “in this way the Synod should be able to elaborate on themes already outlined, shedding new light on subjects of great current ecclesial and social importance.”
He also revealed that contributions will be made by representatives from Churches and Christian communities “not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church.” This includes an address on Oct. 10 by Dr. Rowan Williams, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.
The 262 Synod Fathers are comprised of 103 participants from Europe, 63 from the Americas, 50 from Africa, 39 from Asia and 7 from Oceania. Among their number are 6 patriarchs, 49 cardinals, 3 metropolitan archbishops – one of whom is a cardinal – 71 archbishops, 120 bishops and 14 priests.
During the synod there will be 23 General Congregations in which all members will participate. There will also be eight smaller sessions that are divided up by the 12 different official languages of the synod.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 5, 2012 (CNA/Europa Press) -
Accompanied by a group of children, a local pro-life leader delivered a petition signed by 100,000 people to the Ministry of Justice calling for the end of abortion in Spain.
Every day in the country, “300 children die in a violent way in the wombs of their mothers,” said Ignacio Arsuaga, head of the Spanish civil rights group HazteOir.org.
As he presented the petition to government officials on Oct. 4, Arsuaga urged them to fulfill their “electoral promise to change the law on abortion to protect the right to life.”
This includes not only ending abortion but also enacting policies to support mothers, “so that women who have an unexpected pregnancy can move forward,” he added.
The organization Right to Life collected the signatures, which were delivered just three days before the local March for Life takes place in Madrid on Oct. 7.
According to Right to Life, the petition states that abortion constitutes “the cruel and violent death of a human being” and that it always leaves “two victims: the child that dies and the mother who suffers it.”
It also denounces “the million-dollar industry that benefits a few individuals who profit from the deaths of other human begins.”
The third annual International March for Life, which also kicks-off on Oct. 7, will take place in more than 100 cities across Spain and in other cities around the world. Some 323 national and international associations are expected to participate in the march.
Washington D.C., Oct 5, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Religious liberty advocacy group the Catholic Association released a voter guide on Oct. 4 that gives a failing grade to President Obama on seven key religious freedom issues.
“The Obama Administration has put forth divisive policies and government regulations that ignore our First Amendment protections and erode the religious freedom of Catholics and people of faith,” said Maureen Ferguson, the group's senior policy advisor.
Over one million copies of the guide will be distributed in both English and Spanish across the country.
The guide is meant to educate Catholics and other persons of faith on how their vote could affect religious liberty concerns over the next four years.
In contrast to the score given to President Obama, the guide gives Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney an “A+” with regards to the seven religious liberty policies.
“The President's unprecedented HHS mandate is the most far reaching encroachment on religious freedom in American history,” Ferguson added.
“People of faith, religious charitable organizations and employers should not be forced to either violate their faith or face crippling fines that would damage their ability to serve the poor, the needy, the sick, the elderly, the orphaned and the overall common good.”
Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with the group, also weighed in, noting that on “critical issues” such human trafficking, international religious freedom and allowing churches to choose their own leaders, “the administration has used regulation, laws and litigation to undermine the religious rights of people of faith.”
Vatican City, Oct 5, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican's doctrine head says hope must be maintained for full communion between the Society of St. Pius X and the Catholic Church, despite his telling a German radio network that talks with the society are off for now.
“I’m always confident in our faith and optimistic. We have to pray for goodwill and for unity in the Church,” Archbishop Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register in September.
This news comes amidst reports he said there would be no further talks with the traditionalist society, after an interview with North German Radio which was reported Oct. 4 and will air Oct. 6.
The Register's two-part interview was posted online Oct. 2 and 4.
Archbishop Muller affirmed that the talks are not “a dialogue between two Church partners” and described them as a “brotherly colloquium to overcome difficulties with an authentic interpretation of Catholic doctrine.”
“I believe that these problems will be resolved in the long term,” he stated.
The society, the archbishop said, must accept the Pope as head of the Church, “doctrinal pronouncements made since the Second Vatican Council,” and the new Mass as “valid and legitimate.”
The biggest obstacle for the society's reconciliation has been the teaching on religious liberty in Vatican II, which it claims contradicts previous Catholic teaching.
The Vatican's head of doctrine said the society has picked up on “a tension arising from the use of terminology,” and that the texts of Vatican II did not contradict previous teachings.
He noted the importance of a “hermeneutic of continuity” in interpreting the council: “we need an authentic interpretation of the magisterium of the Council,” an interpretation “according to the Tradition.”
In his interview with North German Radio, Archbishop Muller said that “in a pastoral sense, the door is always open” for the members of the society to come into full communion with Rome.
He again affirmed that Vatican II “validly formulated” existing Catholic teaching, and that “there will not be any more new talks” on the faith itself.
He made a similar comment to CNA in a July 20 interview. In that interview he stated that there can be no negotiation of dogmas: “we cannot negotiate on revealed faith; that is impossible.”
The Soceity of St. Pius X was founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in response to errors he believed crept into the Church following the Second Vatican Council.
Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops without papal permission in 1988, and the five were excommunicated. The archbishop died in 1991, still in a state of excommunication.
In 2009 Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications on the four living bishops. Since that time, there have been continuing negotiations between the society and Rome to ensure their full communion. The society currently has some 570 priests.
Archbishop Muller told the Register that if the society returns to full communion, “they could underline what Tradition is” and assist in a “renewal in the celebration of the liturgy.”
Vatican City, Oct 5, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy See announced Oct. 5 that Pope Benedict XVI has granted a plenary indulgence for the Year of Faith, which will last from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013.
The decree announcing the indulgence was signed Sept. 14 by Cardinal Manuel de Castro, Major Penitentiary, and Bishop Kryzsztof Nykiel, Regent, of the Apostolic Penitentiary. The penitentiary is the part of the Roman Curia responsible for indulgences and governing the sacrament of confession.
One plenary indulgence per day may be gained by an individual, which they can use for themselves or apply to a soul in purgatory. The indulgence remits the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.
During the Year of Faith, there are four means of gaining an indulgence.
First, by attending at least three sermons “during the Holy Missions” or reading at least three lessons from the documents of the Second Vatican Council or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The second way is by making a pilgrimage to a basilica, catacomb, cathedral, or location designated by the local bishop for the Year of Faith, and either participating there in a sacred celebration, praying or meditating. The act of prayer should finish with an Our Father, a recitation of the Creed and a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The third method of gaining an indulgence is by participating in Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours on a day chosen by the local ordinary, and reciting the Creed.
Finally, people can visit their place of baptism and renew their baptismal promises there.
Those who cannot attend such celebrations for serious reasons may still obtain the indulgence if they pray an Our Father and a Creed and other prayers that agree with the objectives of the Year of Faith.
A plenary indulgence also requires that the individual be in the state of grace, have complete detachment from sin, and pray for the Pope's intentions. The person must also sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion up to about 20 days before or after completing the other acts.
The Year of Faith is meant to “recall the precious gift of faith” and “its correct interpretation.” It marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Its opening also coincides with a general synod of bishops on the New Evangelization, which is taking place Oct. 7-28 at the Vatican.