Rome, Italy, Feb 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A Syrian bishop is happy with the election of Archbishop Louis R. Sako as Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church as he believes his experience at building dialogue in Iraq could save the lives of many Christians.
Archbishop Sako of Kirkuk was selected Feb. 1 by his fellow Chaldean Catholic bishops as the new Patriarch of Babylon, replacing Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, 85.
"He is young and involved in conversations with Muslims so we hope we can achieve this in Syria, too," said Bishop Antoine Audo, the head of the Diocese of Aleppo in northern Syria.
"We've lost security everywhere, especially in Aleppo. The situation in the whole country is very bad," he added in a Feb. 1 phone interview with CNA.
"He knows the situation very well because he was the Archbishop of the Iraqi town Kirkuk for 10 years," Bishop Audo explained.
"But here we will be in communion not just with Muslims, but with all other Christian denominations and everyone around us," said the 67-year-old.
Patriarch Sako told Vatican Radio that Kirkuk does not have any problems with Muslims, and in several mosques imams speak well of Christians for their role in bridging the divide.
But the new patriarch said he was reluctant to accept his new role, even though he is ready to offer his life for the Church.
"I hesitated and was afraid because the future is not clear (…) but I am ready to serve and to give myself up for the benefit of our Church and of Iraq," he told Vatican Radio.
"Support our religious freedom. There is no one religion of the state and others of a second category but all should be at the same level," said Patriarch Sako.
His appointment brings hope to Christians in Syria, who have been targeted by radical Islamists since conflict broke out in March 2011.
"I think his appointment is great because he has worked very hard in the town of Kirkuk for there to be mutual respect between Muslims and Christians, so he knows how to do it," Bishop Audo remarked.
"We have a lot of poverty everywhere, we have very elementary food, and I am the president of Caritas in Syria so I have to face this," he said Bishop Audo.
Around 60,000 people have been killed and two million internally displaced since the war began.
Many now refuse to cross to neighboring Jordan after hearing horror stories of other refugees.
"We fear that we will be like Christian Iraqis, but what can I do?" said Bishop Audo.
"We do all we can to stay and to help our people, but it is beyond our control," he added.
La Paz, Bolivia, Feb 4, 2013 (CNA) - The largest statue of the Virgin Mary in the world, dedicated to Our Lady of Socavon, was inaugurated at a Feb. 1 ceremony in the city of Oruro, Bolivia.
Rolando Rocha, the lead sculptor for the project, told reporters that more than simply “a work of engineering and art,” the monument “is an act of faith that strengthens our traditions.”
Towering at 149 feet, the statue is located on a 12,000-foot mountain south of La Paz, the country’s second largest city. It stands 22 feet taller than the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The statue’s unveiling ceremony was attended by both Bolivian president Evo Morales and Oruro mayor Rossio Pimentel.
Our Lady of Socavon is the patroness of miners. The original statue is kept at the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Socavon in the city of Oruro.
The presentation of the $1.2 million statue also marked the beginning of Carnaval in Orugo. The city’s festival is the only Carnaval celebration that includes a dance in honor of the Virgin Mary.
As residents of Oruro prepared for the annual candlelight procession to the Shrine of Socavon, Bishop Cristobal Bialasik issued a letter inviting those along the procession route to decorate their homes with sacred images and to listen to the diocesan broadcast of the event.
The closing procession, which took place on the evening of Feb. 3, featured nearly 50 dancers making their way to the shrine, where they asked the Virgin Mary for her intercession.
Denver, Colo., Feb 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Catholic Health Initiatives has joined Colorado's bishops in calling for protection of unborn children after the group's lawyers argued in a wrongful-death lawsuit that human fetuses are not persons.
“The bishops are disappointed by what happened, without a doubt...but Catholic Health Initatives has recognized an error and has committed to moving forward and to changing their course, and that really does deserve to be commended,” J.D. Flynn, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver, told CNA Feb. 4.
“Institutions and people make errors, but the Christian life is to take responsibility for what we've done and move forward, and so we're thankful for that.”
In 2006, Lori Stodghill and her two unborn children died at a hospital operated by Catholic Health Initiatives. Lawyers for the health system argued that Colorado's wrongful death legislation does not apply to fetuses.
On Feb. 4, the Catholic bishops of Colorado “expressed their support for Catholic Health Initiatives after the national health care organization acknowledged that it was 'morally wrong' for attorneys to cite the state’s Wrongful Death Act in defense of a lawsuit involving one of its affiliated hospitals.”
Last week, Colorado's three bishops met with four executives of Catholic Health Initiatives to discuss the Stodghill case. The bishops had pledged on Jan. 24 to review the matter to ensure faithful witness to Church teaching.
“CHI representatives acknowledged that it was morally wrong for attorneys representing St. Thomas More Hospital to cite the state's Wrongful Death Act in defense of this lawsuit,” Catholic Health Initiatives stated Feb. 4.
Catholic Health Initiatives called Colorado's Wrongful Death Act “unjust” and said that they will not use it in potential future litigation of the Stodghill case.
In addition, Catholic Health Initiatives “unequivocally affirmed CHI's strict adherence to one of the Church's most basic moral commitments – that every person is created in the image and likeness of God and that life begins at the moment of conception.”
“It is an unfortunate and regrettable point of fact that Colorado law, as it now stands, fails to adequately protect the rights of the unborn,” Catholic Health Initiatives said.
Colorado's bishops affirmed that the Stodghill's received “exceptional care” at St. Thomas More Hospital. Two courts have found that nothing done by the hospital's staff could have saved the lives of Lori and her sons.
On Jan. 1, 2006, Jeremy Stodghill took his wife Lori, 28 weeks pregnant, to St. Thomas More Hospital's emergency room in Cañon City. She was complaining of nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath. There, she suffered a heart attack due to a blood clot which traveled to her lungs.
Her obstetrician, Pelham Staples, was on-call that day, but failed to arrive at the hospital. Both Lori and her unborn sons, Samuel and Zachary, died.
A nurse listened for the boys' heartbeats, and not hearing any, doctors decided against performing an emergency C-section.
Stodghill chose to sue the hospital, its owner Catholic Health Initiatives, Staples, and the emergency room doctor for the wrongful death of his family members.
The Fremont County Circuit Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals both decided in favor of Catholic Health Initiatives.
Stodghill has appealed to the state's supreme court. He asked that the Colorado Supreme Court decide “the issue that the Court of Appeals refused to decide,” whether physicians are immune to malpractice suits when their negligence leads to the death of a viable fetus before its birth.
Vatican City, Feb 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The head of the Vatican council for the family believes that the 2015 gathering in Philadelphia will be an important moment for the U.S. and the world as it considers the role and meaning of the family in society.
"I believe that the world encounter in Philadelphia will be a very important moment, not only for the United States, but for the whole world," predicted Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
The archbishop spoke to CNA Feb. 4 after a Vatican press conference on the 7th World Meeting of Families that took place in Milan last year.
"We need to stress the importance of the family and marriage because they are society's foundation and (they) allow society to grow by founding an interconnection between generations.
"In this sense we want to show the world not only the importance of the family, but also that it's possible and that it's really, really good," Archbishop Paglia stated.
He explained that the institution of marriage is in crisis because of a new ideology of individualism.
"The ‘I’ is now more important than ‘us,’ and the individual is more important than the family," he asserted.
"In this sense,” Archbishop Paglia remarked, “we're putting a sort of poison in society which is destroying the love and the link between all people.”
He also stood firmly against the redefinition of marriage, saying it “is between man and a woman from the very beginning of time, so I think it's a very bad idea to create something which is not reality.”
Archbishop Paglia said the solution to the current situation is to build a “new culture" that heals the "divorce … between culture and family."
"Family, in reality, supports society, but the culture has forgotten the family," he pointed out.
"We are in a not-so-intelligent battle because we are focused on a little part of society and we've forgotten the bigger part," he added.
The archbishop thinks that the most important thing is to strengthen society.
"We are cross-eyed. And so we need to conquer with the truth and the great strength of family and marriage for our society, because God said it's not good to be alone," the Italian archbishop stated.
"I love all people and I would be pushing them the wrong way if I help them create something which isn't true," he said, referring to same-sex "marriage."
During the press conference he spoke about how the pontifical council is organizing meetings from now until the gathering takes place in Philadelphia in 2015.
His Vatican department will present the Charter of Rights of the Family to the United Nations in New York and Geneva, as well as to the European Parliament.
The Dossis, a married couple responsible for helping families in Milan's archdiocese, was also at the press conference to speak of the results of the last World Meeting of Families.
Francesca Dossi said that one of the conclusions from the conference was that pregnant women are not less effective in the workplace since they are more creative before they give birth.
The meeting also left many with a deeper understanding of how “Sunday is not just a day of resting, but a form of energizing our relationships, especially with family members," she said.
South Bend, Ind., Feb 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is mourning the recent death of its bishop emeritus, Bishop John M. D'Arcy, who led the diocese from 1985 until 2009.
“I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop. We mourn the death of a good shepherd after the heart of Christ, a bishop who loved the Lord and his people with all his heart,” said current bishop Kevin C. Rhoades Sunday.
“We are comforted at this time by our faith in the Resurrection. As we share the pain of loss, Our Lord’s promise of eternal life gives us joy and hope.”
Bishop D'Arcy died at his home surrounded by loved ones in the late morning hours. Feb. 3 was the 56th anniversary of the first Mass he ever said. He had been ordained the previous day, Feb. 2, 1957, for the Archdiocese of Boston.
“Bishop D’Arcy faced death as he also lived his life,” reflected Bishop Rhoades, “with deep faith and trust in God. He offered his prayers and sufferings this past month for the people he loved and served with joy and faithfulness these past 28 years in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.”
“I invite all to join me in prayer for our deceased shepherd that God may bring Bishop D’Arcy to everlasting peace and rest,” Bishop Rhoades continued.
Bishop D'Arcy served as a priest of the Boston archdiocese from 1957 until 1975, when he was consecrated a bishop. He was an auxiliary bishop in Boston until he became the ordinary of Fort Wayne-South Bend in 1985.
He was allowed to remain Fort Wayne-South Bend's bishop until after his 77th birthday, serving fully two years past the mandatory retirement age for diocesan bishops.
Bishop D'Arcy called to task the University of Notre Dame, which is located in the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, for the school's honoring of President Obama.
On May 17, 2009, Obama received an honorary law degree at the university's commencement. Bishop D'Arcy's concern was that he president had reaffirmed, and made public policy, “his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred.”
“In its decision to give its highest honor to a president who has repeatedly opposed even the smallest legal protection of the child in the womb, did Notre Dame surrender the responsibility that Pope Benedict believes Catholic universities have to give public witness to the truths revealed by God and taught by the church,” Bishop D'Arcy asked in the months following the incident.
On the day of the commencement, Bishop D'Arcy spoke at a pro-life rally on the Notre Dame campus in lieu of attending the scandalous ceremony.
Bishop Rhoades, in his statement on his predecessor's death, extended condolences to Bishop D'Arcy's sisters: Joan Sheridan and Sister Anne D'Arcy, a Sister of Saint Joseph.
Vatican City, Feb 4, 2013 (CNA) - The director of the Vatican press office has rejected claims by Ali Agca, the man responsible for the assassination attempt on Blessed John Paul II, that the plot was ordered by an Iranian Islamic leader.
“Must we believe Agca this time? I think not,” said Fr. Federico Lombardi in a written statement.
On Feb. 1, Fr. Lombardi told reporters that Agca’s new book details a false conversation with the late Holy Father, in which he told the Pope that he had been working for Ayatollah Khomeini, who died in 1989.
The Turkish gunman’s new book hit Italian bookstores on Jan. 31. Fr. Lombardi argued that the book was an attempt to gain money while distracting investigators who linked Agca to crimes committed in Eastern Europe.
Agca’s new claim is that “the Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran and Nazi-Fascist Islam are the real explanation behind the motive to kill the Pope as a crucial point in the final war against the hatred Christian west,” he said.
According the Vatican spokesman, Agca said he had kept the assignment “completely secret” and revealed it only to Pope John Paul II when the Pontiff visited him in prison in December 1983 to offer him forgiveness.
“After exchanging words regarding the third secret of Fatima, the Pope supposedly asked him a crucial question: Who ordered you to kill me?” Fr. Lombardi said, adding that the Turkish gunman supposedly responded that Khomeini and the Iranian government had ordered the Pope’s assassination.
Fr. Lombardi also denied that the Pope invited Agca to convert to Christianity repeatedly, including once in a hand-written letter.
The spokesman said that he consulted with numerous people mentioned in the new book, including former Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls and Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was present when the Holy Father met with Agca in the prison cell.
In his book, Agca references a supposed “Islamic clue” that would shed light on the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared at the Vatican in 1983.
He claims in the book that Navarro-Valls once said, “It could have been Islamic fundamentalists who were hoping to free Agca.” He also quotes Navarro-Valls as saying, “The Vatican seems to understand. Islamic fundamentalism was behind the kidnapping of Emaneula, and therefore, behind the assassination attempt on John Paul II.”
However, Fr. Lombardi noted, Navarro-Valls did not become the Vatican spokesman until Dec. 4, 1984, and has said that he never took charge of the disappearance of Emanuela.
For his part, Cardinal Dziwisz said the Vatican has never put any credence in a supposed “Islamic clue.”