Denver, Colo., Nov 1, 2012 (CNA) -
The Obama campaign attempted to schedule a rally-like event on a Catholic university campus in the key swing state of Colorado before settling on a dialogue with a co-chair of Catholics for Obama.
“Their original intent was to have more of a rally element to it,” said Paul Alexander, director of Regis University's Institute for the Common Good, which hosted the event.
“We just felt we couldn’t do a rally, but we felt a healthy dialogue among Catholics was important.”
About 45 people attended the Oct. 25 dialogue and small group discussion with Catholics for Obama national co-chair Nicholas P. Cafardi, a law professor and dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law.
The event was titled “Catholic Social Teaching: The Intersection of Faith and Politics.” Although it was hosted by the Jesuit university’s institute, it took place because of outreach from the Obama campaign.
Alexander told CNA Oct 26 that another Catholics for Obama national co-chair by the name of Victoria Kovari, the “main point of contact,” had sought out the university and asked if it would be willing to host an event.
Kovari is a former national field director and former interim president of the Democrat-leaning group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
She attended the Denver event along with Broderick Johnson, a senior advisor to the Obama campaign.
At the Thursday evening gathering, Alexander said that the campaign had reached out to schedule the event, but had set no conditions on the talk.
“There was a strict adherence to bring a message that is totally non-political,” he said.
Cafardi’s remarks examined moral judgment in public life, saying that the Church must leave solutions to political problems to “the informed consciences and prudential judgment of the laity.”
He had pointed criticisms of Catholic bishops’ actions on political matters.
“Our sacred pastors will tell us the ethical and moral principles that should govern human behavior. They can tell us the values that should be defended,” he said. “No bishop, no priest, can tell you how to vote, ever. They don’t have that right. That right belongs to you, and your informed conscience.
“They don’t even have the right to hint how you’re supposed to vote, as a number of them have been doing lately in their non-endorsement endorsements,” he said, adding that no one can question the decision of an informed conscience.
Cafardi, who rejects the criminalization of abortion, said the Catholic Church’s advocacy for the legal prohibition of abortion as the only way to address life issues ignores the need to use prudential judgment to decide the best way to protect human life.
He defended the Obama administration’s controversial mandate which requires most employers of 50 or more employees to provide no co-pay insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs.
Cafardi argued that the Obama administration’s proposed conscience accommodation, whose details are unclear, is adequate. He also said that the mandate was justified under the same logic as the cost segregation practice which allows the government to fund the non-religious activities of religious employers.
He ridiculed broad exemptions for objecting private employers as the “Taco Bell exemption.”
At least one other Catholic college has hosted Catholics for Obama speakers. Last month in Ohio, another politically key state for the presidential elections, the Xavier University College Democrats hosted Johnson, Kovari and other speakers who presented a Catholic case for voting for President Obama.
CNA contacted the Romney campaign to determine whether it has engaged in similar outreach to Catholic colleges and universities but did not receive a response by deadline.
Michael Hernon, a former president of the Republican-leaning group The Catholic Association, told CNA he has not heard of any Catholics for Romney outreach to Catholic colleges and universities.
Hernon, who is also a vice president of advancement at Franciscan University, said that Franciscan University of Steubenville has many faculty and students who support the Romney campaign in a personal capacity, but the university has not had any partisan events on campus.
Among the attendees at Regis University event were Catholics United Colorado State Chairman Anthony DeMattee. The organization expanded into Colorado with its first Denver event on Oct. 22, holding a debate watching party with Catholics United Executive Director James Salt.
Until recently, Catholics United avoided directly contradicting Catholic teaching. On Oct. 18, it denounced Catholic efforts to defend traditional marriage as a “far right-wing” social issue. The group also attacked the Knights of Columbus for giving financial support to the Catholic bishops’ marriage defense efforts and to marriage amendment ballot initiatives.
In April, the national organization protested the withdrawal of a Catholic grant to the Pueblo, Colorado-based immigrant aid group Companeros over its membership in a coalition that supports the legal recognition of homosexual relationships.
Alexander acknowledged that political opponents of President Obama would have a “healthy skepticism” towards the Regis University event. The institute had tried to reach out to the Romney campaign, but the “last-minute” nature of the event made that difficult.
“It’s the intent of the institute, and really the university, to have a dialogue,” he told CNA.
“We need to learn how to encounter the other,” he added, citing the teaching of the Second Vatican Council document “Gaudium et Spes.”
“That doesn’t mean giving up the tenets of the Church or compromising the beliefs of the Church. But it does mean meeting each other as human beings, and the best tool for that is dialogue.”
He said people who are skeptical of the Cafardi speech should “come join us and help us design some dialogues.”
“We’d love to engage with people to do that,” he added.
Denver, Colo., Nov 1, 2012 (CNA) -
The Catholic bishops of Denver have called on Catholics across the U.S. to pray for the country ahead of the Nov. 6 elections, encouraging parishes in their archdiocese to organize rosaries and holy hours.
“As Americans we have a civic responsibility to vote and to participate in the political process,” Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver said Oct. 30.
“As Catholics, we have a moral duty to vote with an informed conscience, and to pray for wisdom and guidance as we head to the voting booth.”
Denver's Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception will expose the Blessed Sacrament for Eucharistic Adoration on Nov. 6 from 7:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Archbishop Aquila asked Catholics to join him “in praying for our great nation” beginning this weekend.
“Let us ask God to bless us with the courage to live in the truth, and for leaders who are dedicated to protecting the rights of the unborn and religious liberty,” he said.
Bishop James Conley, the outgoing auxiliary bishop of Denver who will soon become head of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., also asked for prayers.
The Archdiocese of Denver is encouraging everyone to pray Cardinal Francis Spellman's mid-20th century “Prayer for America.”
It asks God to bless the country “with a valiant, Godly spirit, with a vision to see, with the courage to try, with he power to achieve, that, marching behind Thee, Thy people shall not perish.”
“God, bless our America! Hear our prayer for our united peoples, grant guidance to our leaders, protection to our sons, and teach each of us Thy way of life in good will and peace,” the prayer concludes.
Abuja, Nigeria, Nov 1, 2012 (CNA) - Following the deadly suicide bombing on a Catholic Church in north Nigeria, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria has said local Catholics are showing “apprehension and consternation” at the apparent government failure to provide security and capture the perpetrators.
“We as pastors have reached a state of near desperation – seeing children, women and men bombed out of existence,” Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria told Aid to the Church in Need on Oct. 31.
“Attacks continue to be visited on our people with very little sign that the concerned political and security officials are able to arrest the situation.”
On Oct. 28 a suicide bomber attacked St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kaduna, killing himself and four others. The attack wounded 134, including the parish priest. Of the wounded parishioners, 75 suffered critical injuries.
The attacker was denied entrance at the church gate, but he then reversed his explosives-filled car and rammed it into the church’s perimeter wall.
“This Sunday attack was totally unexpected. The degree of barbarism that comes with each attack is baffling,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
“The suicide bomber came as a respectable person, well dressed and in a big car ready to kill and he did kill and injure many.”
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has promised to redouble efforts to combat terrorism, while the President of the Nigerian Assembly, a Muslim, has condemned the attack.
Archbishop Kaigama said there is a “spontaneous outburst of anger” among Christians and young people are tempted to commit reprisal attacks.
There have been some reports of Christian reprisals.
However, the clergy are trying to prevent further violence. Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso-Ndagoso of Kaduna held a press conference immediately after the attack asking that youth not retaliate.
“Our message to our people has been consistent: no aggression and no retaliation. This is a test of our Christian faith; a time to be Christ-like,” Archbishop Kaigama said.
He warned that Christians may not be able to endure further violence without retaliating.
The archbishop asked for prayers for an end to violence.
“We pray a lot, hoping the evil doers will have a change of heart,” he said.
Many believe that Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group opposed to Western education, is responsible for the attack. The group seeks to overthrow the government and impose Shariah law throughout the country. It has claimed responsibility for many attacks on Christians.
Northern Nigeria is primarily Muslim, while the south is predominantly Christian and traditional animist. The Archdiocese of Kaduna’s 2011 population was only 9.2 percent Catholic.
Washington D.C., Nov 1, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - To encourage believers during the Year of Faith, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a reflection on the Catechism as a faith resource that is universal in nature, as well as a call to prayer.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the first book of its kind in 450 years,” said
Alissa Thorell, catechism specialist for the conference’s Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis.
She described the Catechism as “an effort by the world's bishops to convey the content of the Catholic faith to the whole Church and the whole world.”
After the Second Vatican Council, which was held from 1962-65, “it was important for the Church to present its teachings for Catholics living in the modern world,” she said.
On Oct. 31, the U.S. bishops’ conference released reflections by Thorell on "Five Things Catholics Should Know About the Catechism" in order to better understand their faith.
Pope Benedict XVI has called on Catholics to study the Catechism during the ongoing Year of Faith, which runs from Oct. 11, 2012 – Nov. 24, 2013.
The year – which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism – is an opportunity for Catholics to grow in their own faith so that they may witness to others.
The Catechism is universal in both scope and content, Thorell explained. It “compiles the living tradition of the Catholic Church,” which is divided into four sections on beliefs, worship and sacraments, morality and prayer.
“The contents of these four parts are interwoven, providing an organic presentation of the faith,” she said.
Thorell also noted that the Catechism is both “a resource for education” and “an invitation (to) prayer.”
“The main goal of the Catechism is to help bishops, pastors, catechists, parents and all who teach the faith,” she said. “It provides a foundation that encourages dioceses to draw their own teaching materials from it.”
At the same time, it “draws from the richness of Catholic tradition, including the lives of the saints, the teaching documents of the Church and Scripture.”
“This makes it not only useful for learning about the Catholic faith, but for growing in one's faith through meditation and prayer,” Thorell explained.
And despite its length – 700 pages – the Catechism is “for Catholics of all ages,” she said.
Besides the helpful summaries at the end of each section, Thorell recommended the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church – a much shorter document – which makes the Catechism “even more accessible to readers.”
“Learning and living the faith is an ongoing process throughout a person's entire life, and the Catechism can help Catholics come to know and love Christ,” Thorell stressed.
Montevideo, Uruguay, Nov 1, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Society of Jesus in Uruguay has expressed “deep regret” over statements made to reporters by local priest Father Jose Ignacio Gonzalez Faus, who voiced support for the legalization of abortion.
In remarks published Oct. 22 by La Daria, Fr. Gonzalez Faus said he supported the legalization of procedure after the government of Uruguay passed a bill allowing the practice up to the twelfth week of pregnancy.
Jesuit superiors in Uruguay, however, were quick to distance themselves from Fr. Gonzalez’s views in a statement issued on Oct. 25.
“The position of the Society of Jesus regarding the issues mentioned by Father Gonzalez Faus in the aforementioned interview is none other than that of the Catholic Church, and his statements in no way reflect our thoughts and viewpoints,” the Jesuit leaders said.
Fr. Gonzalez’s statements “have done nothing more than create confusion in people, especially the way in which he approaches the issue of the legalization of abortion.”
The priest's stance “is not only contrary to the position of the Church in general, but also totally ignores the actions of the Church in Uruguay in recent months regarding this issue.”
“Many priests, religious and laity have strived to clearly present the position of the Catholic Church and have publicly stood up to defend it,” the group added. “This includes us as well.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 1, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to participants in an Argentinean conference on evangelization, encouraging them to promote the growth of the faith in their country.
In his statement, the Pope encouraged local Catholics “to continue to pursue with renewed apostolic zeal everything that can contribute more effectively to the development and strengthening of the supernatural life of grace in all Christians and people of good will.”
This task should especially fall to “children and young people, who are the hope of the Church in the beloved nation of Argentina,” the Pope said, adding that “faith is deciding to be with the Lord to live with Him.”
The conference titled, “The New Evangelization Fifty Years After the Second Vatican Council,” will be held Nov. 2 - 3 at St. Paul School in Buenos Aires.
Speakers at the event will include Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata, Bishop Antonio Marino of Mar del Plata and Auxiliary Bishop Ariel Torrado Mosconi of Santiago del Estero.
Vatican City, Nov 1, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict said that the solemnity of All Saints should help people reflect on the link between the Church on earth and the heavenly Church “that celebrates the never-ending feast.”
“In the saints we see the victory of love over selfishness and death: we see that following Christ leads to life, eternal life, and gives meaning to the present, every moment that passes, because it is filled with love and hope,” the Pope said Nov. 1 from the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square.
“Only faith in eternal life makes us truly love the history and the present, but without attachment, with the freedom of the pilgrim, who loves the earth because his heart is in Heaven,” he said.
Pope Benedict recalled that the feast of All Saints reminds us of the communion of saints, “a reality that begins here on earth and that reaches its fulfillment in heaven.”
The earthly dimension of the communion of saints is founded on Christ and the Church, he explained, adding that Christians should be open to that holy community and strive to sprout “upwards towards heaven.”
Pope Benedict then reflected on how all the saints, those canonized but especially also those known only to God, have “lived intensely” this dynamic connection between heaven and earth.
“In each of them, in a very personal way, Christ was present, thanks to his Spirit which acts through the Word and the Sacraments. In fact, being united to Christ, in the Church, does not negate ones’ personality, but opens it, transforms it with the power of love, and confers on it, already here on earth, an eternal dimension,” he said.
“This insertion in Christ also opens us, as we have said, to communion with all the other members of his Mystical Body which is the Church, a communion that is perfect in 'Heaven,' where there is no isolation, no competition or separation.”
The feast of All Saints is also related to the end of time, the Pope emphasized.
“In today's feast, we look forward to the beauty of this life fully open to the gaze of love of God and neighbor, in which we are sure to reach God and one another in God.”
Following his address the pontiff greeted the English-speaking pilgrims and told them that today’s feast “reminds us of our eternal destiny, where we will dwell, as Saint Thomas Aquinas says, in true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy and gladness without end.”
Pope Benedict concluded his address by asking Mary to pray that we receive the grace “to strongly believe in eternal life and feel ourselves in true communion with our deceased loved ones.”
Ann Arbor, Mich., Nov 1, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A federal judge in Michigan has granted the second temporary injunction against the federal contraception mandate to plaintiffs who argue that it violates their right to freely practice their religion in business decisions.
“This is not only a victory for our clients, but for religious freedom," said Erin Mersino, lead counsel on the case for the Thomas More Law Center, which is representing Weingartz Supply Company and its president Daniel Weingartz.
“The federal court has found that our clients have a likelihood of success and would be irreparably harmed by the unconstitutional overreaching of the HHS mandate,” she explained in a statement.
On Oct. 31, U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland granted a preliminary injunction to block the enforcement of the mandate against the family owned and operated outdoor power equipment company while the case continues to move through the court system.
Weingartz, a practicing Catholic, has filed a lawsuit to challenge the Health and Human Services mandate, which requires employers to provide health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences.
In filing the lawsuit, he was joined by Legatus, a non-profit organization of Catholic business owners and CEOs seeking to live out their faith in their professional and personal lives.
Both Weingartz Supply Company and Legatus currently offer employee health care plans that specifically exclude contraception, in accord with Church teaching. Neither qualifies for the strictly defined religious exemption to the mandate, which applies only to non-profit groups that exist to inculcate religious values and primarily employ and serve only members of their own faiths.
In today’s decision, Judge Cleland granted the temporary injunction for Weingarts Supply Company, citing the fact that it would be required to provide the objectionable coverage starting on Jan.1, 2013.
In his opinion, he acknowledged that the mandate poses a risk "of substantially infringing the sincere exercise of religious beliefs” and said that the “loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury."
While the Obama administration has argued that for-profit companies cannot exercise religion, Cleland pointed to a previous court ruling that a corporation can “assert the free exercise rights of its owners” when it is closely held and is “‘merely the instrument through and by which (the plaintiffs) exercise their religious beliefs.’”
At the same time, Judge Cleland “denied without prejudice” the motion for a preliminary injunction for Legatus, saying that the organization does not yet need such an injunction because it qualifies for a temporary safe harbor from the mandate until Aug. 1, 2013.
The federal government has promised that during the safe harbor period, it will issue an accommodation to respect the religious freedom of non-exempt religious groups that object to the mandate.
However, this process – which was started in March 2012 – is still in its early stages, and numerous religious groups have said that the suggestions put forth by the government still fail to adequately protect religious liberty.
Judge Cleland directed the federal government to file a statement on the status of the amendment process each month and made it clear that Legatus can bring its claim before the court again at a later time.
In total, nearly 40 lawsuits have been filed by more than 110 plaintiffs to challenge the contraception mandate. Most of these cases are still waiting to receive a court ruling, while a few have been dismissed as being premature, similar to the decision given for Legatus.
In July, Colorado-based Hercules Industries secured the first temporary injunction against the mandate. So far, Missouri-based O’Brien Industrial Holdings is the only case that has lost in federal court, although it has said it is appealing the decision.