Archive of November 19, 2012

Campaign seeks to repeal Uruguay abortion law

Montevideo, Uruguay, Nov 19, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pro-life organizations in Uruguay have launched a signature drive for the country's political parties to repeal the newly enacted abortion law in their campaigns for the 2014 elections.

In a statement sent to CNA on Nov. 16, the fifteen Uruguayan pro-life organizations said that “the right to life, like all human rights in general, is not dependent on majorities or minorities.”

By a vote of 50-49, the Uruguayan congress passed a law during a late-night session on Sept. 25 legalizing abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy.  

“Anything can be put to an 'all or nothing' vote, but never human rights, and much less the right to life,” the groups said.

“The legalization of abortion was the result of international pressure exerted on our governors and legislators by local activists.”

In their statement, they also argued that Uruguay's abortion law, which was signed by President Jose Mujica, “ignores scientific data, which unequivocally points to the beginning of the life of a new human being at conception.”

“The Constitution, the laws and norms that govern parliamentarian action have been trampled upon in the desire to enact at all costs a bill that, in recognizing the mother’s right to dispose of the life of her child, is contrary to the San Jose of Costa Rica Pact, signed and ratified by our country,” they said.

The legalization of abortion, they underscored, has led in many countries “to a sustained increase in legal abortions throughout the years.”

“The law has an educational role that cannot be ignored, and with abortion no longer seen as wrong, an ‘abortion culture’ is slowly established in a country where courage and respect for human life are per se already deteriorated.”

Moreover, “clandestine abortion will continue to exist, since the law demands that a legal abortion be recorded in the woman’s clinical record and that she undergo counseling.”

“The clandestine circle of abortion will not disappear, and consequently we are dealing with a law that is not only contrary to rights, but also ineffective in the ends it supposedly is pursuing,” they said.

For this reason, they urged Uruguayan officials to focus on helping women who become pregnant in difficult circumstances, instead of promoting abortion.

“It concerns us that our lawmakers don’t seem to have the least interest in offering real and supportive help to these mothers who are alone,” they said.

“We invite all citizens to sign this campaign that begins today in defense of that which has always been a source of pride for our society, the respect for the rights of others and the defense of equality for all before the law.”

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Archbishop Chaput says Year of Faith holds solution to relativism

Baltimore, Md., Nov 19, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The current Year of Faith is an opportunity to counter the cultural relativism that plagues modern society and that has led many in the Church to deny Catholic teaching on important topics, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.

“The appropriate response to relativism is faith, where you no longer are the center of the universe, you are no longer the one who decides what’s true, but you commit yourself in faith to God’s truth,” he told CNA on Nov. 12.

Among the biggest current challenges for the Church in the U.S. is addressing those “who say they’re Catholic but don’t believe what the Catholic Church teaches,” the archbishop stated. “The hardest thing is to convince them that they need to change.”

“So many people just think they’re Catholic already and think that they have a right to decide for themselves what’s Catholic and what’s not,” he observed, adding that “we’re just not getting through to them because they don’t think they need to be gotten through to.”

“It’s true about all of us,” he said. “Those who most need conversion are the ones who don’t think they need conversion.”

That means “it’s easier for the Church to convince people who are not Catholics of the truth of Catholicism than to convince Catholics who aren’t true believers that they ought to change,” he said.

Archbishop Chaput thinks that the root of the problem “is the cultural relativism that Pope Benedict speaks about all the time.” And it has “deeply infected” the life of the country and many of the people in the Church.

“I think that’s the result of poor catechesis for a couple of generations,” he said, explaining that people genuinely think that they can “decide for themselves what it means to be Catholic.” 

However, the archbishop said that he also sees opportunities amidst the challenges.

“I think the Holy Father has given us an extraordinary framework in which to evangelize – the Year of Faith,” he said. “It’s an act of God’s providence that he declared this period of time for that purpose.”

Announced by Pope Benedict XVI, the Year of Faith began on Oct. 11, 2012 and runs through Nov. 24, 2013. During this year, the Pope is asking Catholics to study and reflect on the catechism and documents of the Second Vatican Council to grow deeper in their faith, so that they can be witnesses to others.

Archbishop Chaput described the Year of Faith as a tremendous blessing for the Church in the U.S. as it faces the challenges of the culture.

He is also hopeful because the American bishops are increasingly becoming more aware of the problem of cultural relativism and the need to address it.

“For a long time, we weren’t even talking about this as an issue,” he said. “And you could see it creeping into the Church everywhere.”

This new awareness on the part of the bishops, coupled with the call to conversion and witness that is part of the Year of Faith, offers an opportunity for the Church in America to be renewed and grow stronger, he said.

Lay Catholics who are sincere about participating in the Year of Faith should encourage their pastors “to develop programs in the parish to promote the New Evangelization,” the archbishop advised.

“Because sometimes, priests might not think that anybody’s interested in that.”

“Lay people generally think that if the bishop pushes priests, it will get done,” he said. “My experience is that it also takes the people in the pews to push from the other direction to get the priests’ attention.”

This involves not only asking the priest to do things, but the laity volunteering to do things themselves, Archbishop Chaput said. 

“If they do that, I think there are going to be great changes.”

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Pope urges French Catholics to make voices heard on marriage

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - As France’s Socialist government pushes to legalize “gay marriage,” Catholics must continue to strongly and consistently bear witness to the teachings of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said.

“In society's key debates, the voice of the Church must make itself heard ceaselessly and with determination,” he said, praising the “rich Christian history” of France, which “cannot be ignored or diminished.”

Pope Benedict made his remarks in a Nov. 17 address to a group of French bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome. 

His address came as the French president Francois Hollande’s Cabinet continues to push ahead with legislation that would legalize “gay marriage” and allow same-sex couples to adopt in early 2013.

On Nov. 18, the day after the Pope addressed the bishops, around 100,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Paris to show their support for traditional marriage.

In his remarks to the French bishops, Pope Benedict said that Catholics must adhere to the faith and maintain “full respect for the French tradition regarding the distinction between the respective spheres of competence of Church and State.”

Such a balance gives “special reassurance” that the Church is “not merely a religious identity that demands to be respected,” but an entity that “carries the wisdom that permits us to provide concrete answers to the pressing and sometimes troubling questions of our times.”

Those in public service, the Pope said, “bear special responsibility” to uphold their faith in a way that is “devoid of arrogance” and done “with respect.”

He also urged politicians and the bishops to be wary of any legislation that “threatens marriage between a man and a woman, the protection of life from conception to death, and the correct guidance of bioethics in harmony with magisterial documents.”

The Pope praised the Catholic and non-Catholic intellectuals of France who “are aware of the enormous challenges of our age, where the Christian message is an irreplaceable point of reference.”

The debates society is having need “the indispensable word of truth” which ultimately “frees our hearts and opens them to hope,” the Pope stated.

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Vatican dismisses Maryknoll priest from order

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican canonically dismissed Roy Bourgeois from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers on Oct. 4, for disobedience and preaching against Church teaching on women's ordination.

The decision, made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dispenses him from both the bonds of priesthood and religious life.

On Aug. 8, 2008, Bourgeois preached a homily at the simulated ordination of a woman to the Catholic priesthood. His participation in the simulated Mass led him to be automatically excommunicated.

“With patience, the Holy See and the Maryknoll Society have encouraged his reconciliation with the Catholic Church,” said a statement from the Maryknoll Society Nov. 19.

“Instead, Mr. Bourgeois chose to campaign against the teachings of the Catholic Church in secular and non-Catholic venues. This was done without the permission of the local U.S. Catholic Bishops and while ignoring the sensitivities of the faithful across the country.”

“Disobedience and preaching against the teaching of the Catholic Church about women's ordination led to his excommunication, dismissal and laicization.”

Bourgeois was told in July 2011 that he would be dismissed from the Maryknoll order unless he renounced his “defiant stance” against Catholic teaching on the possibility of women's ordination.

Maryknoll superior general Fr. Edward M. Dougherty in a July 27, 2011 letter warned Bourgeois of his imminent dismissal on the grounds that he had shown “obstinate disobedience” to his superiors in violation of his oath about a “grave matter.”

The letter also cited his “diffusion of teachings” opposed to the “definitive teaching of John Paul II and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church as well as the “grave scandal” he has caused to the people of God, to the Church, and to many Maryknoll priests and brothers.

Bourgeois replied soon after that the Catholic teaching on male priesthood “defies both faith and reason” and is “rooted in sexism.”

“I will not recant,” he said in his Aug. 8, 2011 reply.

Following that exchange, his case proceeded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which more than a year later dismissed and laicized Bourgeois.

“Mr. Bourgeois freely chose his views and actions, and all the members of the Maryknoll Society are saddened at the failure of reconciliation,” the order stated.

“With this parting, the Maryknoll Society warmly thanks Roy Bourgeois for his service to mission and all members wish him well in his personal life.”

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Vatican memo aims to boost priestly identity

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an effort to promote priestly identity, the Vatican Secretary of State has issued a letter asking clerics and religious at the Vatican to dress as befits their identity as priests conformed to Christ.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said in an Oct. 15 letter that it is a “time in which everyone is specially called to renew his awareness of and consistency with his own identity.”

This call includes priests and religious who work at the Vatican, he wrote, reminding them that they have “the duty of wearing regularly and with dignity the proper habit, in every season.” 

The text of the letter, sent to all the offices of the Roman Curia, was made available Nov. 19 by the Vatican observer and journalist Sandro Magister.

Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa suggested Nov. 16 that it was also a message for the wider Church.

Tornielli said the letter was aimed at refreshing the minds of those who work at the Vatican but also to say that this extends beyond the walls of the Holy See. He added, “it is very rare for priests in the Apostolic Palace not to dress like priests.”

“The call for priests to be more law-abiding and look impeccable is meant to be a subtle example for those who come to the Vatican from outside and are just passing through Rome,” Tornielli said.

Cardinal Bertone's letter, written at Pope Benedict's bidding, recalls a 1982 letter of Pope John Paul II to his vicar general encouraging him to “study opportune initiatives destined to foster the use of ecclesiastical and religious dress.”

Cardinal Bertone said that bishops should faithfully wear the cassock every day during office hours at the Vatican as an example to the clerics who visit the Holy See.

He reminded clerics that at official and papal events, they are to wear the more formal “abito piano.” For bishops and cardinals, this is a cassock with an embroidered cape; for monsignors, a black cassock with piping of Roman purple; and for priests, a cassock with cape.

This new memo from the Secretary of State goes hand in hand with a 1994 document on the ministry and life of priests from the Congregation for Clergy. The congregation’s document said that in a “secularised and materialistic society ... it is particularly important that the community be able to recognise the priest, man of God and dispenser of his mysteries, by his attire as well, which is an unequivocal sign of his dedication and his identity as a public minister.”

“The priest should be identifiable primarily through his conduct, but also by his manner of dressing, which makes visible to all the faithful, indeed and to all men, his identity and his belonging to God and the Church,” it said.

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