Archive of April 3, 2013

Colorado miracle spurs German nun's beatification

Colorado Springs, Colo., Apr 3, 2013 (CNA) - The Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration are thrilled at the approved beatification of their German founder, Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel, after a Vatican-recognized miracle in Colorado.

“We are enthusiastically surprised,” Sister Clarice Gentrup, the congregation's vicar general, told CNA April 2.

“After all these years, we’re coming closer and closer to beatification and canonization, possibly.”

Pope Francis approved the 19th century nun's beatification on March 27. The ceremony will be celebrated at the Catholic cathedral in Paderborn, Germany on Nov. 10 and her hometown of Olpe will host an event on Nov. 11.

The miracle attributed to Mother Maria Theresia involves the healing of a Colorado Springs boy named Luke Burgie. In September 1998, at the age of four, he began suffering from a severe viral infection that caused chronic diarrhea. Many doctors and specialists could not cure him.

“Nobody could really diagnose what the cause of it was,” Sr. Gentrup said. “They tried to heal him, but nothing helped. He was losing weight, and a little four-year-old doesn’t have a lot of weight to lose.”

Luke's older sister Jill met some Sisters of St. Francis when they visited her parish elementary school, where she was a student. Her family invited two sisters to supper at their home, where they learned about Luke’s illness. The sisters began a novena to Mother Maria Theresia for Luke in late January 1999.

Luke was suddenly cured on Feb. 22, 1999, without scientific explanation.

His mother said that he “just got up from the couch and began playing like a normal happy kid,” the Sisters of St. Francis reported on their website. At the time, Luke simply said “Jesus healed me.”
Sr. Gentrup, who lives in Colorado Springs, said the boy is doing well fourteen years later.

“He was a healthy strong, wrestler in high school. He rides his bicycle and runs marathons,” Sr. Gentrup said. “He’s a normal, healthy teenager.”

She and her other Sisters of St. Francis are glad to see recognition of their foundress.

“Right now we’re very grateful she will be beatified. She was such a wonderful woman and such an inspiration to so many, many, many sisters.”

Mother Maria Theresia was born in Olpe in the German region of Westphalia on Sept. 17, 1830. She founded the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Olpe in 1863.

Her sisters cared for orphans, worked in teaching, and provided health care among many other acts of charity. They suffered under the “Kulturkampf,” the nineteenth-century German government’s program against the Catholic Church.

“She lived in some very difficult times in Germany,” Sr. Gentrup said.

Many laws and regulations tried to suppress religious work. Government officials said Mother Maria Theresia could not take care of orphans and they had to be placed in homes. One day a government officer came to her door and objected that she was still caring for orphans.

“She called all the orphans together and said 'officer, here they are, they’re yours,'” Sr. Gentrup recounted. “And he said, 'okay, we’ll give you a few more months to place them in homes.'”

“That’s the kind of determination Mother Maria Theresia had.”

She died on Feb. 6, 1905, at which time about 1,500 sisters were members of her congregation. Her sisters now minister in Germany, the U.S., the Philippines and Brazil.

Sr. Gentrup said Mother Maria Theresia had “a deep, deep faith in God and in Jesus, the Risen Christ.” Her devotion especially focused on the Blessed Sacrament.

“She always wanted a sister in the church or in the chapel, always praying for her work and for the work of everybody in the world, to move the whole world closer to the reign of God here on earth.”

The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration foundress wanted her congregation to “balance works of mercy with prayer.

Mother Maria Theresia’s advance towards beatification also drew comment from Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs

“I share the joy of our Franciscan sisters that their foundress Mother Bonzel will be beatified. It’s wonderful to know that she has been so close to us in her intercessory prayer,” Bishop Sheridan said April 2.

After she is beatified, Mother Maria Theresia will need one more recognized miracle to advance towards official sainthood.

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Seattle archbishop decries Washington abortion bill

Seattle, Wash., Apr 3, 2013 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Seattle warned state legislators that a proposed bill requiring abortion coverage in health care plans will result in a fight to protect the Catholic Church from being forced to pay for the procedure.

“The Catholic Church in Washington State and its affiliated organizations do not now, nor will we in the future, offer coverage for abortion in our health care plans,” Archbishop Peter Sartain told the Washington Senate Committee on Health Care April 1.

He warned that the legislation would result in court appeals that would be “protracted and costly to all parties.”

“It will not come as a surprise that we oppose the very intent of this legislation,” the archbishop said. “Deeply rooted in our Catholic faith is the belief that life is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death. We cannot equivocate about that belief.”

The legislation would mandate insurance coverage for elective abortion in all private health insurance plans which provide coverage of maternity care. It passed in the Democrat-controlled State House of Representatives in February by a 53-43 vote.

One backer of the bill claims to have 25 of 49 senators willing to vote for the bill if it reaches the Senate floor, the New York Times reports. The Senate is controlled by a coalition of two Democrats and the Republican caucus.

Archbishop Sartain warned that the bill E.H.B 1044 “discriminates unjustly against churches, religious organizations and people who for religious reasons oppose abortion.”

The bill has some conscience protections, but the archbishop said they “in reality offer no protection at all.”

One provision guarantees conscientious objection, while another provision says the conscience protection will not result in a health plan enrollee’s denial of coverage or timely access to any services as a result of the conscience clause.

“The Catholic Church and any other organization and individual employers are granted the right to exercise their consciences and  not provide abortion coverage, but at the same time their employees cannot be denied coverage and access to abortion services,” the archbishop said. “As a result, the
right to exercise conscience and the requirements of this law are irreconcilable.”

He was skeptical of the bill’s requirement that the insurance commissioner create a mechanism for these situations. He said a similar requirement for previous laws has not been acted upon.

The Washington Catholic Conference has warned that the bill would endanger federal funding to Washington state, since federal law bars funds to agency or programs that require payment or provision of abortion.

The conference is asking opponents of the bill to contact their state senators and ask them to vote against it.

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Boston College draws support on condom distribution ban

Boston, Mass., Apr 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Despite attacks against Boston College for its prohibition of condom distribution on campus, the school says its rules are similar to those of many prominent Catholic universities across the U.S.

“All Catholic colleges and universities have policies that ask students to be respectful of Catholic values,” Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn told CNA April 2. “We refer to them as ‘Catholic Commitments.’”

“We ask students to understand that we have a unique faith perspective, and when they enroll in our institutions, they should be respectful of our Catholic values,” he added.

Dunn said the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities has been “very supportive” of the college. The association believes that the college’s policies are “very consistent” with those at Catholic universities throughout the U.S., he explained.

The Boston Globe found similar policies banning on-campus condom distribution at Catholic colleges and universities including the University of Notre Dame, Georgetown University and Catholic University of America.

Last month, Boston College told on-campus groups they could face disciplinary action for a condom giveaway project, on the grounds that it violated Catholic values. The student group BC Students for Sexual Health is advertising dorm rooms which provide condoms and “safer sex info,” as well as other paraphernalia.

Lizzie Jekanowski, who chairs the group, told the Boston Globe that the administration knew about the distribution project for two years without taking action.

The student group has attracted support from “reproductive rights” groups like the Massachusetts branch of Planned Parenthood.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts has threatened to sue the college on the grounds that the student group is engaged in First Amendment-protected free speech. It further argues that the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act of 1979 prohibits both private and public entities from interfering with civil rights.

However, the college’s spokesman was dismissive of legal action.

“We’re not concerned with the threat of legal action from entities like the ACLU,” Dunn said, adding that students living in dorm rooms need to follow the code of conduct that applies to all students.

“We’re a private religiously affiliated institution. We reserve the right to set our policies and uphold those policies through our student guide.”

He said the controversy concerns “a handful of students who feel very strongly, very passionately about condom distribution.”

The college is now trying to engage the group.

“We’re hoping that by meeting with them, we can get them to understand our perspective. We’re more than willing to listen to their perspective. We understand that students have rights. We understand that students have passions,” Dunn said.

“We asked them to understand that as a Catholic college, they need to be respectful of our values,” he emphasized.

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Pope Francis prays at John Paul II's tomb on anniversary

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis spent a “long time” kneeling in silent prayer before the tomb of Blessed John Paul II on April 2, the eighth anniversary of his death.

The visit “this evening in the Vatican basilica expresses the deep, spiritual continuity of the Petrine ministry shared by the Popes. 

“It is precisely this Petrine ministry that Pope Francis so deeply feels and shares, and which he has also shown in his meeting with and repeated telephone calls to his predecessor Benedict XVI,” said an April 2 statement from the Vatican press office.

Over the last two days, the Pope seems to have been steeping himself in the spiritual riches and strength of his predecessors who are buried in St. Peter's Basilica.

Late on Monday afternoon he visited the tomb of St. Peter, as well as the final resting places of Popes Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, Paul VI and John Paul I.

Then, at around 7:00 p.m. on April 2, Pope Francis went to the tomb of Bl. John Paul II, just after St. Peter’s closed for the evening.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri and the Pope’s personal secretary, Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, accompanied him to the Altar of St. Sebastian, where the late Pope is entombed. 

He also stopped and prayed at the tombs of Blessed John XXIII and St. Pius X. 

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Women communicate God's look of love, Pope says

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his second Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis said that women’s main role in the Church is to communicate God’s love.

“Women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love,” he said April 3 in Saint Peter’s Square.

“This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen,” said the Pope.

According to the Italian authorities, 50,000 people attended the audience, including a delegation of 43 people from the U.S. Senate.

About 10,000 of the pilgrims came from Milan with their archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola.

Pope Francis reminded the crowd that the first witnesses of Christ’s Resurrection were women.

“This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria: the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women,” he said.

“What matters to God is our heart, if we are open to Him, if we are like trusting children,” he stated.

According to the pontiff, the disciples found it harder to believe in the risen Christ. As examples he pointed to Peter, who stopped before the empty tomb, and Thomas who had to touch the wounds of Jesus’ body.

“In our journey of faith it is important to know and feel that God loves us, do not be afraid to love: faith is professed with the mouth and heart, with the word and love,” said Pope Francis.

“Unfortunately, there have often been attempts to obscure faith in the Resurrection of Jesus, and doubts have crept in even among believers themselves,” he warned.

But this kind of faith is “watered down,” due to “superficiality, sometimes because of indifference, occupied by a thousand things considered more important than the faith, or because of a purely horizontal vision of life.”

It is “the Resurrection that gives us the greatest hope,” the Pope emphasized, “because it opens our lives and the life of the world to the eternal future of God, to full happiness, to the certainty that evil, sin, death can be defeated.”

The Pope then told young people, “you, witnesses of Christ, bring forth hope to this world that is aged by wars and sin, go forward young people!”

“Bring forth this certainty to the world: the Lord is alive and walks beside us on our life’s journey,” Pope Francis encouraged the large number of young people at the audience.

“Bring forth this hope, be anchored in this hope, the hope that comes from heaven!” he exclaimed.

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Pope Francis to visit Rome's basilicas before Pentecost

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis will be praying or celebrating Mass at all four of Rome’s major basilicas between now and Pentecost, as well as holding four public Masses in St. Peter’s Square.

The Holy See’s press office released on April 3 the places and times the pontiff will be presiding over the seven public Masses that will be held between now and May 19.

After he was elected Pope in 2005, Benedict XVI ordained priests for the Rome diocese and celebrated Mass for Pentecost.

In 2005, Pope Benedict beatified two women, Sisters Marianne Cope and Ascension Nicol Goñi.

But Pope Francis will be going a step further and canonizing three saints, two of whom are Hispanics, even though canonizations typically take place during the month of October.

The future saints include Colombian Sister Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya y Upegui and Mexican Sister Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala.

Blessed Antonio Primaldo and Companions, from Italy, will also be canonized in the same Mass on May 12. He is known for leading 800 men in refusing to convert to Islam during an invasion of Italy, resulting in their martyrdom.

The new Pope will also preside over Masses or prayers in the four major basilicas of Rome.

On April 7 he will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran at 5:30 p.m. and officially take possession of the Roman cathedral as the Bishop of Rome.

The following Sunday, April 14, he will preside over Mass at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls at the same time of day.

On April 21 he will ordain priests at a 9:30 a.m. Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the next Sunday he will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at a 10:00 a.m. Mass in Saint Peter’s Square.

The weekend of May 4–5 will be a busy one, with Pope Francis leading the Rosary in Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and then celebrating a Mass for Confraternities in St. Peter’s Square at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday.

Pope Francis will finish off his string of public liturgies by celebrating the Vigil of Pentecost on May 18, and Mass the next day for the solemnity itself. Both of the liturgies will take place in St. Peter’s Square and will include the participation of the numerous Church movements.

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Pope Francis asks for 'gift of tears' to see Risen Christ

Vatican City, Apr 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his brief homily at an April 2 Mass at the chapel of St. Marta’s Residence, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to pray to God for the gift of tears, to imitate Mary Magdalene during this Easter season. 

Addressing various members of the Vatican gendarmerie and other Vatican workers present for the Mass, the Holy Father mediated on the passage about the “sinful” woman who wept upon seeing the empty tomb.

Mary Magdalene, he said, is the woman “whom Jesus said had loved much and therefore her sins were forgiven.” However, she had to “confront the loss of all her hopes” in not finding Jesus, and for this reason she wept.

“All of us have felt joy, sadness and sorrow in our lives,” but “have we wept during the darkest moment? Have we had that gift of tears that prepare the eyes to look, to see the Lord?” the Pope asked.

“We too can ask the Lord for the gift of tears,” he said. “It is a beautiful grace…to weep praying for everything: for what is good, for our sins, for graces, for joy itself.”

Weeping, the Holy Father explained, “prepares us to see Jesus.”

It is the Lord, he said, “who gives us the grace, to all, to be able to say with our lives, ‘I have seen the Lord,’ not because he has appeared, but because ‘I have seen him in my heart.’ And this should be the testimony of our lives: ‘I live this way because I have seen the Lord.’”

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Chile faces criticism for giving morning-after pill to minors

Santiago, Chile, Apr 3, 2013 (CNA) - A new norm approved by Chile’s Ministry of Health has met with disapproval for allowing the morning-after pill to be made available to 14 year-old girls without parental consent.

“By 14 year-old minors, it is clear we are talking about children. And by definition children do not have capacity or responsibility in any civil or civic environment,” said Congressman Juan Luis Castro, the former president of the Medical College of Chile.

“It is not appropriate to administer this drug at the request of a child,” he said. “It doesn’t correspond to reality in Chile.”

In statements to reporters, Congressman Castro, who is also a member of the Congressional Committee on Health Care, warned that use of this drug by minors “could become an object of abuse.”

For his part, committee president Javier Macaya said allowing minors to have access to the morning-after pill “is not the right signal.”

“The general rule should be that when a person lives under his parents’ roof, he or she depends on them,” he said. “They are the ones who represent them legally for many legal procedures in civil legislation, and this should not be the exception.” 

“When we are talking about 14 year-old minors, we are talking about people who do not yet have discretion,” Macaya added.

Felipe Guevara, the president of the non-governmental organization Always for Life, rejected the commercialization of the morning-after pill, as there are still doubts about the drug’s effects, one of which is the prevention of the implantation of a new embryo, causing an early abortion.

“Measures like this only show the profound contradictions of our society,” he said, noting that the people who want to regulate the amount of junk food children can eat at school “are the same ones who believe that (a 14 year-old) can ask for the pill without parental consent.”

Before proposing such measures, education and discussion should be emphasized “without ideologies that prevent debate,” he stressed.

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Archbishop Sample exhorts Portland to focus on Jesus

Portland, Ore., Apr 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Alexander Sample was installed as head of the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore. on Tuesday, using his homily to encourage local Catholics to proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“Jesus is alive and has become for us the source of eternal life. By his death he has destroyed death, freed us from the corruption of sin and opened up for us the way to the Kingdom of Heaven,” he said April 2.

“We must always keep our eyes fixed on Jesus...It is always about him, and we must never lose sight of that.”

The 52-year-old archbishop encouraged Catholics to imitate St. Peter’s “bold and fearless proclamation of the Good News.”

His installation Mass was held at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., read the papal letter from then-Pope Benedict XVI which appointed the former Bishop of Marquette, Mich. to head the archdiocese.

Mass con-celebrants included Archbishop Vigano, Archbishop emeritus of Portland John Vlazny, and auxiliary Bishop emeritus of Portland Kenneth Steiner.

Onetime Portland archbishop Cardinal William Levada attended the Mass with about 40 archbishops, bishops and abbots and 200 priests.

During his remarks, Archbishop Sample urged the congregation to come to know Jesus Christ “intimately and profoundly” so that they can share him with others.

“We need saints for our own day to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and a leaven in society,” he said.

Among the challenges of the present age, Archbishop Sample noted “an almost unprecedented and increasing radical secularism that seeks to push God out of the picture.” He echoed Benedict XVI's and Pope Francis' warnings against a “dictatorship of relativism” that does not recognize “unchangeable truths,” especially about human dignity.

He also warned of the “challenges of our own making,” including sex abuse scandals.

The archbishop asked others to pray for him, entrusting his ministry to Mary Immaculate, the patroness of the archdiocese. “May she form in me the likeness of her Son, Jesus, who is the Good Shepherd.

Archbishop Sample previously served as Bishop of Marquette from 2006 to early this year. He was 45 when he was ordained and was the youngest U.S. bishop at the time. Born in Kalispell, Montana in 1960, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Marquette on June 1, 1990 by Bishop Mark F. Schmitt.

There are more than 415,000 Catholics in the western Oregon archdiocese, where they make up 12 percent of the archdiocese’s total population. The area holds 124 parishes, 150 diocesan priests, almost 400 women religious, 78 brothers and 79 permanent archdeacons.

The archdiocese is the second oldest in the U.S. after the Archdiocese of Baltimore, having been created in 1846. Its present territory is almost 30,000 square miles and reaches the state borders of Washington and California.

Archbishop Sample will tour his new archdiocese and celebrate regional Masses across western Oregon, with dates and times to be announced later.

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Pro-life club appeals after being denied campus recognition

Baltimore, Md., Apr 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A pro-life student group at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., is appealing a denial of official recognition, saying that it is being discriminated against for its views against abortion.

Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America, told CNA that this decision is surprising, given that Johns Hopkins administration and students “pride themselves on being a ‘free speech campus’ – allowing dissenting opinions on campus and allowing a free exchange of ideas on campus.”

She added that there is a need for “upholding freedom of speech that isn’t popular.”

Voice for Life, a pro-life organization that is trying to re-start on the Johns Hopkins campus after several years of dormancy, has been rejected multiple times by the university’s student government, despite receiving clearance from the necessary committees as having met all campus requirements.

Meeting minutes on the Johns Hopkins student government website indicate that the student senators were “concerned with making people feel uncomfortable,” and asked whether “a Hopkins group be involved in this much activism.”

Student government officials justified their decision at a later town hall meeting, according to Students for Life, by saying that Voice for Life’s intentions to participate in sidewalk counseling “clearly violates the JHU Harassment and Code of Conduct policies.”

The student government leaders also pointed to one out of more than 100 links on the Voice for Life website, which leads to a separate organization displaying graphic images of aborted babies, alongside images from the Holocaust and other graphic events.

Voice for Life has already pledged that they will not use graphic images of abortion either at on- or off-campus events.

Students for Life said that it obtained a subsequent email from a student government executive linking to a Think Progress article on a white supremacist student organization at a different university, along with the text “and this is why we don’t approve groups like Voice for Life.”

Students for Life characterized this comparison as “particularly offensive to Voice for Life members, especially its African American members.”

Voice for Life will now appeal the decision in a Student Judiciary trial on April 9. 

“Obviously our hope is that the SGA Judiciary will overturn the decision by the SGA and accept our group on campus,” Monica Rex, vice president of Voice for Life, told CNA. “If that’s not the case, then we will appeal to the administration.”

Rex added that she is surprised by the whole situation, “because we thought they would support two viewpoints on campus.”

“Johns Hopkins University advertises itself as a defender of free speech and public statements with the motto ‘The Truth Will Set You Free,’” she explained, “but Voice for Life is being discriminated against because of its pro-life viewpoints.”

Rex said the existence of Voice for Life is particularly crucial on a campus known for its medical school.

“Hopkins is one of the world’s premier science and medical universities, but is unwilling to have a conversation about abortion.”

Andrew Guernsey, president of Voice for Life, echoed Rex’s surprise to see that Voice for Life has been treated “as second-class students” for its beliefs.

“When we see something that’s offensive, we tolerate it as free speech,” said Guernsey. “We encourage the other side to bring their views, and we’ll bring ours to the table, and let the truth win out.”

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