Archive of October 22, 2012

Uruguay bishops say lawmakers who support abortion are excommunicated

Montevideo, Uruguay, Oct 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Uruguay's bishops say that local lawmakers who recently voted to legalize abortion in the country are automatically excommunicated for separating themselves from the Church's teaching.

“Automatic excommunication is for those who collaborate in the execution of an abortion in a direct way,” said Bishop Heriberto Bodeant, secretary for the Uruguayan bishops' conference.

“If a Catholic votes...with the manifest intention that he thinks the Church is wrong about this, he separates himself from the communion of the Church,” Bishop Bodeant recently told reporters.

“Excommunication means you are not in communion with the ecclesial community to which you openly claim to belong by doing something that puts you outside communion, and therefore you cannot participate in the Eucharist,” he explained.

The Catholic Church teaches – and canon law upholds –  that life must be respected from the moment of conception, he said.

If the new law is signed by President Jose Mujica – who vowed support for the measure – the Church will strengthen its work in support of human life to “reinvigorate the law written in the heart of every person that says that a fundamental value exists, which is life.”

This “is above all other” rights, the bishop said.

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Archbishop Chaput links new saints with New Evangelization

Rome, Italy, Oct 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia believes that the seven saints who were canonized by Pope Benedict Oct. 21 should serve as models for bringing the Gospel to the modern world, and that Saint Kateri Tekakwitha in particular should be an example for young people.

She “led her Christian life rather intensely,” he recalled, “so I think she could be a patron for young adults. She committed herself to a life of chastity, which is such a great struggle for so many people in our culture today. She’s also an example to the Indian people because she was both fully Indian and fully Christian at the same time.”

Archbishop Chaput spoke to CNA in Rome on Oct. 22, the day after the canonization Mass. He came to Rome for the bishops’ synod on evangelization as well as yesterday’s canonizations, which included St. Kateri, the United States’ first Native American to be raised to the altars.

A Kansas native, Archbishop Chaput’s mother was a Native American of the Potawatomi tribe.

“Back in the days when I was a kid, the Feast of the North American Martyrs was in September on my birthday (Sept. 26),” said Archbishop Chaput, 68. “And growing up, I thought that because the native people of the New World had martyred those Jesuits, that I should become a priest to take their place. So it was an interesting relationship that I had with both the Indian community and with the Church. I’m very proud of my Indian ancestry, but also identifying with the missionaries to the Indian people.”

He said that St. Kateri and the other saints canonized yesterday represent “the embodiment of what Pope John Paul II called inculturation, the penetration of the Gospel into a culture … . The Gospel penetrated her life and transformed her into a saint. And this is an ongoing process for all of us.”

This comes at an encouraging time for the Church, he said, especially since the canonization took place within the context of the Synod on the New Evangelization and the opening of the Year of Faith.

“The word of God is always new in the sense that it causes life and gives birth. So in some ways the New Evangelization isn’t so much about evangelization, it’s about us—encouraging the people of the Church to reach out to those who are nominally Christian but not practicing – or to look at our hearts and see if we’ve really been simply catechized and not evangelized.”

Archbishop Chaput has “great hopes” that after the synod “the New Evangelization really will become a focus of the Church.

“Synods are useful only insofar as people back home take it seriously. That’s always the trick – to get pastors and parishes to read the documents that come out of a synod, to believe them, and to put them into practice.”

For the Church in Philadelphia, “we’ve had a difficult time recently, so this synod comes about at a very important time for us,” the archbishop said.

He also sees the Year of Faith as “a moment of renewal … as it is for everybody in the Church.”

“I hope we take it seriously and use it as a moment of stepping out of darkness into light.”

The two events also have a take on a special meaning for the Philadelphia archdiocese because of an international gathering it will tentatively host in 2015.

“We see the Year of Faith and this synod on the new evangelization as an antechamber to that celebration of the World Meeting of Families, to get people enthusiastic about being host to it,” Archbishop Chaput said.

Speaking about the New Evangelization itself – presenting the Gospel anew to people in the 21st century –Archbishop Chaput said that cultural versus authentic Catholicism is a big hurdle.

“Philadelphia has a strong Catholic history,” he explained, “but the danger in having a strong Catholic history is that sometimes it takes the faith for granted.

“I think that part of my responsibility in Philadelphia will be moving all of us from being cultural Catholics to being evangelical Catholics. That’s a difficult task. Sometimes it’s easier to bring people along who don’t identify themselves as Catholics, than people who are Catholic historically and don’t practice it but think that they know everything and are Catholic already. In some sense they’re less open to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit.

“It’s a big task ahead, but with the Holy Spirit’s presence, we can always do great things,” he said.

Shortly after his interview with CNA, Archbishop Chaput celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in St. Peter’s Basilica in honor of St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Accompanied to music from a Native American band and choir, thousands of worshipers packed the basilica. The homily was given by Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., where St. Kateri came from.

 “She gives a truly counter-cultural example to live chastity today,” Bishop Hubbard said of the first Native American women recorded as making perpetual vows of virginity. “Her life serves as an antidote to the individualism of our age…of showing the acceptance of the Cross of Christ par excellence.”

He noted that St. Kateri, whose face was scarred with small pox, died “with the last words, ‘Jesus, I love you.’” And just after she died, the priests at her bedside reported that “the scars that had ruined her face from childhood were healed miraculously.”

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American priest celebrates receiving Ratzinger award in Rome

Rome, Italy, Oct 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - An American priest and scholar who was awarded the annual Ratzinger Prize for Theology by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 20 was both thrilled and surprised to receive the honor.

“It was a total surprise for me, but I'm really touched that they would think of me for this and that it would bear the name of our present Holy Father, whom I have always admired a lot,” said Father Brian Daley, a Jesuit professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.

The 72-year-old shared the honor with French Catholic lay philosopher, Remi Brague.

“Fr. Daley and Professor Brague are exemplary for the transmission of knowledge that unites science and wisdom, scientific rigor and passion for man, so that man might discover the true 'art of living,'” the Pope said at the Vatican ceremony.

Established in 2010 by the Joseph Ratzinger Vatican foundation, the award is described as an effort to “promote the publication, distribution, and study of the writings” of the former university professor, known today as Pope Benedict XVI.

In an interview with CNA after Saturday's event, Fr. Daley reflected that the winners of the prestigious award tend to be those “who do the kind of theology and philosophy that the Holy Father himself is interested in.”

Pope Benedict, he noted, has “worked for so many years on the Church fathers and medieval theology – he has a wonderful book on Augustine, he has one on St. Bonaventure – and then also on the interface between faith and philosophy, faith and reason.”

“I studied the early Church,” he added, and co-recipient Remi Brague “works on the relationship of religion and faith within a democracy and modern culture, with both Islam and Christianity.”

“So, I think these are both things that the person of the Holy Father is very interested in.”

Fr. Daley, a scholar specializing in the early Church fathers, said these formative theologians and pastors should serve to inspire Christians of every age and advance the work of the New Evangelization, the topic being addressed at the bishops' synod currently underway in Rome and ending Oct. 28.

“I think there is that liberating effect” in reading about the early Church, he said.

“Many of the people we read, as Church fathers, are really good theologians – highly sophisticated people of many different skills and outlooks. They were not uniform. But they presented different approaches to making sense of the Christian faith in their own time.”

Touching on the role theology plays in the modern world, Fr. Daley said “we're always thinking about how we can make sense, how we can give account for the faith that we share.”

“Theology does that. What I do is one part of doing that. Seeing theology as something alive, that draws on its past but is constantly thinking about itself, enables us to continue that process with more freedom.”?

The award ceremony was not the first time Fr. Daley has met the Pope – the two became acquainted when he was studying theology in Germany and met the future pontiff at a seminar in 1970.

“He spoke on the subject of Christology; who is Christ for us?” Fr. Daley recalled. “It was a little group, maybe 20 people in all. And we all had dinner together and Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated Mass for us every day.”

“It was a very intimate gathering. I don’t know if he remembers my presence there, but I definitely remember his. I never dreamed he'd be Pope.”

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Phoenix medical center not stripped of Catholic status

Phoenix, Ariz., Oct 22, 2012 (CNA) - The Diocese of Phoenix clarified over the weekend that a hospital working on certifying its Catholic identity has not been stripped of its Catholic status.

“Contrary to reports in the media, Mercy Gilbert Medical Center has not been stripped of its Catholic status,” the diocese said in an Oct. 20 statement.

“The hospital is in the process of renewing its status and ensuring its compliance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. This renewal process was necessary following the corporate reorganization of its parent company in January.”

The renewal is needed because Mercy Gilbert's parent company, Catholic Healthcare West, was reorganized as a secular company under the name Dignity Health on Jan. 23.

As a result, Mercy Gilbert needs to renew their recognition as a Catholic institution with the Phoenix diocese.

Because this is an ongoing process, “Bishop Olmsted has a duty to the Catholic faithful to inform them that he cannot state with moral certitude that Mercy Gilbert Hospital provides Catholic health care which is in full conformity with the teaching of the Church,” the diocese said in an Oct. 18 press release.

Once the process is completed by the hospital, Bishop Olmsted will be able to recognize their Catholic identity.

On Dec. 21, 2010, Bishop Olmsted revoked his consent for St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center to utilize the name “Catholic” in any way. That decision followed a Nov. 2009 abortion performed on a woman who was 11 weeks pregnant and had heart and lung conditions.

When Bishop Olmsted determined that that decision was immoral, the hospital refused to agree, and so its Catholic status was removed.

In the decree removing St. Joseph's Catholic status, Bishop Olmsted wrote that he “cannot verify that this health care organization will provide health care consistent with authentic Catholic moral teaching as interpreted by me in exercising my legitimate Episcopal authority to interpret the moral law.”

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Vatican approves addition of Bl. John Paul II's feast for US

Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Congregation for Divine Worship has approved the celebration of Blessed John Paul II's feast day in the dioceses of the United States, after setting the feast day for Oct. 22.

The congregation was petitioned for the permission by the U.S. bishops' conference following their November 2011 meeting.

Bl. John Paul II's feast day is observed as an optional memorial in the dioceses of the United States. His office includes the opening prayer at Mass and the second reading in the Office of Readings, which is part of the Liturgy of the Hours. Additional texts for the Liturgy of the Hours should be taken from the texts common to all pastors who are celebrated liturgically.

Oct. 22 was chosen because it is the anniversary of his inauguration as Pope in 1978.

The opening prayer at Masses celebrated in his honor asks, “instructed by his teaching, we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ, the sole Redeemer of mankind.”

The reading in the Office of Readings is taken from his inaugural homily as Pope, when he urged Christians to “be not afraid” and to “open wide the doors for Christ.”

Bl. John Paul II was born Karol Wotjtyla in1920 in Poland. He was ordained a priest in 1946 for the Archdiocese of Krakow, and was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop for the same archdiocese in 1958. He was elected Pope on Oct. 16, 1978 and served in that capacity for almost 27 years.

 “His exceptional apostolic zeal, particularly for families, young people and the sick, led him to numerous pastoral visits throughout the world,” reads the new biography for Bl. John Paul II in the Liturgy of the Hours.

“Among the many fruits which he has left as a heritage to the Church are above all his rich Magisterium and the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as well as the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church and for the Eastern Churches,” it adds.

Bl. John Paul II died April 2, 2005. He was beatified only six years later, after the Vatican recognized his intercession in the healing of a French nun who suffered from Parkinson's disease.

Beatification permits the veneration of a person by particular groups or by locale, and so the Vatican had to allow Bl. John Paul II's feast day to be observed permanently in the United States.

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