Archive of April 25, 2013

Franciscan University to host Dietrich von Hildebrand project

Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 25, 2013 (CNA) - Franciscan University of Steubenville has partnered with the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project to help secure the devout Catholic philosopher's place in efforts to advance cultural renewal.

“Our partnership with Franciscan University will provide us the opportunity to build upon our current programming and to develop many new and exciting programs, which only the resources of a university could allow,” said John Henry Crosby, the founder and director of the legacy project.

Dietrich von Hildebrand, a Catholic convert and anti-Nazi activist, fled Nazi expansion in Europe and eventually settled in the U.S. in 1940. He taught at Fordham University in New York City.

He was a student of the influential philosopher Edmund Husserl and a close friend to the German philosopher Max Scheler. He wrote many works about ethics, philosophy and the Catholic faith before his death in 1977, and his admirers include Benedict XVI.

Crosby founded the legacy project in 2004 to promote von Hildebrand’s thought and work through spreading his writings, especially in the English-speaking world.

Dr. Jonathan Sanford, a Franciscan University philosophy professor, said the university is “excited” the project’s work with its own.

“The legacy project has already made an outstanding cultural contribution by drawing our attention to and nurturing conversation about timeless questions of truth, goodness, and beauty while at the same time promoting interest in the tremendously rich body of work left to us by von Hildebrand,” he said.

Dr. Daniel Kempton, vice president for academic affairs at Franciscan University, said giving the project a greater presence on campus will enrich the university’s intellectual environment and provide greater opportunities for students and faculty.

The legacy project will start its new partnership with special attention to programs “uniquely suited” to a university. The project will hold its annual summer seminar on the university campus for the first time this July, in an expanded week-long format.

In fall 2013, the legacy project will offer a graduate student fellowship at Franciscan University allowing graduate students to study von Hildebrand’s work and help prepare manuscripts for publication. The project will also explore collaboration with the university in areas like academic conferences and co-sponsored lecture series.

Crosby said April 24 the university is “a natural partner” for the project because it is a leading institution in the study of personalist philosophy and early phenomenology. Crosby praised the university’s commitment to exploring reality “both as given in reason and in faith.” He said the faculty is “deeply versed” in Christian philosophy.

The university library houses one of the three complete copies of von Hildebrand’s papers.

Crosby’s father, Franciscan University professor John F. Crosby, was a close personal friend of von Hildebrand. Von Hildebrand’s widow, Alice von Hildebrand, served on the university’s board of trustees from 1987-1999.

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Nuns celebrate one year of blocking Illinois strip club

Chicago, Ill., Apr 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Residents and religious of a small Chicago suburb rallied to celebrate their so far successful campaign against the opening of a multi-million dollar strip club across from a convent.

“We came together as a community, as people of faith and stood together fighting for family values against what some thought was an unbreakable giant,” Sr. Noemia Silva of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, Scalabrinian said at an April 22 press conference.

“It’s not only for the sisters, but for the community itself,” she told CNA in a later interview.

Outrage has erupted locally over the building of the strip club, particularly because of its location next to the missionary sisters' convent and retirement home. Proprietors of the club have been accused of breaking state law, which requires a 1,000-foot “buffer zone” between places of worship and such businesses.

“They haven’t respected state law and so we’re going to tell them, ‘You need to respect that,” Sr. Silva said. “This should not have even happened so close to a worship area.”

Although the $3 million “adult entertainment” club, “Get It,” was slated to open during Holy Week of 2012, it has yet to open its doors to the public largely due to community protest and a legal battle between the landowner and building owner.

Sr. Silva said the sisters, who are spread throughout 18 countries, have been praying for the intercession of St. Michael. “All of our communities are praying for this; it’s just constant, constant prayer.”

She likened their fight against the club’s opening to that of David and Goliath. “David won the battle because he trusted in the Good Lord,” she explained. “He’ll fight this battle for us.”

Many locals are worried about what kind of community such an establishment would foster, especially in an area where many young families as well as long-time residents live.

“I raised my children in this community,” Pat Zito, who has lived in the area for 45 years, said. “My children were concerned for my safety if this place opened, for what it would bring.”

Opposition to the club has been steadily growing since last year as other community leaders have joined the sisters in their fight against the club.

Recently with the help of West Suburban Action Project the community gathered in its largest-ever public demonstration as some 500 people assembled for a prayer vigil. Additionally, over 3,000 people have signed petitions against the club.

The community has called on Mayor Beniamino Mazzulla of neighboring Stone Park – which boarders Melrose Park and is home to the massive strip club – to enforce the “buffer-zone” law or to support the case when they take it to court.

If it opens, this would be the sixth strip club in the community.

The Thomas More Society has offered free legal support to the sisters should they choose to take legal action, which they most likely will.

“If the Village of Stone Park does not heed the call of the Sisters to enforce the buffer law,” executive director, Peter Breen, said, “we are ready with a diverse coalition of individuals and organizations to seek relief from the courts.”

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Sanctity is central to Church outreach, Pope stresses

Denver, Colo., Apr 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Church leadership and outreach must be rooted in the pursuit of holiness and always attentive to the dignity of each human being, teaches Pope Francis in his newly translated book.

“It's impossible to understand anything this Pope is doing without understanding personal conversion, and specifically in the very profound Jesuit tradition of the change of heart,” the book’s translator, Alejandro Bermudez, told CNA April 23.

“Only the changing of the heart will create a change in the Church, and a change in the Church is what will create a change in society and culture. For Pope Francis there is no way around that reality – that arises only from a converted heart.”

The new book, “On Heaven and Earth,” is a conversation between Pope Francis and Abraham Skorka, a rabbi and scholar from Buenos Aires. It was originally published in Spanish in 2010, when Francis was still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Among the wide variety of topics covered in the book is the centrality of holiness to the Church's mission to evangelize.

Pope Francis explained in “On Heaven and Earth” that holiness is essential to leadership in religious organizations, saying it is “a springboard to the transcendent.”

“With regards to religion, holiness is unavoidable for a leader,” he said.

Discussing various periods of difficulty and corruption in the Church’s history, the future Pontiff observed that “religion bounced back” when figures such as Mother Theresa of Calcutta appeared to “rejuvenate religious fervor.”

“In the history of the Catholic Church the true reformers are the saints,” he said.

Bermudez, who is also the executive director of Catholic News Agency, said that holiness will be “absolutely central” to Pope Francis' reform of the Roman curia.

He also commented on the Roman Pontiff's view that while women hold a key place in the Church, their role is complimentary but not identical to that of men.

“Pope Francis has constantly, in several documents and also in the book, explained the importance of the particular role that women have in society, in culture, and in the Church,” Bermudez said.

“He strongly believes that this crucial role has nothing to do with trying to accomplish what men are doing, or imitate what they are doing in the Church, because that will be defeating the key concept of women providing something that men cannot.”

In the book, Pope Francis explained that women have a special “function in Christianity, reflected in the figure of Mary … the woman has the gift of maternity, of tenderness; if all these riches are not integrated, a religious community not only transforms into a chauvinist society, but also into one that is austere, hard and hardly sacred.”

This recognition of each person as bearing dignity in God’s image is also important in engaging non-believers, Pope Francis said, explaining that his approach in dialogue with atheists is not primarily one of direct preaching, but rather one of love and respect.

The future Pontiff characterized his attitude toward such conversations by saying that “I do not approach the relationship in order to proselytize, or convert the atheist; I respect him and I show myself as I am.”

“On Heaven and Earth” is now available in English from Image Books, an imprint of Random House, in print, digital and audio formats.

Until recently, the works of Pope Francis have been available only in his native tongue. Two works on Jesuit spirituality, entitled “Humility, the road towards God” and “Corruption and sin,” are being published this month in Italian.

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Church must evangelize humbly, Pope Francis reflects

Vatican City, Apr 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Christians are called to do the great work of evangelizing to the ends of the world in a spirit of humility rather than an attitude of conquering, Pope Francis said.

“Today we ask the Lord to become missionaries in the Church, apostles in the Church but in this spirit: a great magnanimity and also a great humility,” he said in his April 25 homily at Mass for members of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops at Casa Santa Marta.

Also present at the Mass were Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, and police from the Vatican Gendarmerie, Vatican Radio reported.

To travel the world preaching the gospel is “the mission of the Church,” Pope Francis said.

“But she does not go forth alone: she goes forth with Jesus...the Lord works with all those who preach the Gospel. This is the magnanimity that Christians should have.”

A timid, or “pusillanimous” Christian, he added, “is incomprehensible: this magnanimity is part of the Christian vocation: always more and more, more and more, more and more, always onwards.”

Preaching the gospel, said the pontiff, requires “humility, service, charity, brotherly love.” To approach evangelization with an imperialism, or attitude of conquering “doesn't work.” Rather, Christians evangelize by their witness.

“The Christian must not be like soldiers who when they win the battle make a clean sweep of everything.”

Pope Francis addressed the tension between magnanimity, or greatness of spirit, and humility in which Christians are called to live.

“When we go forth with this magnanimity and humility, when we are not scared by the great things, by the horizon, but also take on board the little things – humility, daily charity – the Lord confirms the Word.”

“This is divine – it is like a tension between the great and the small,” he said, noting that “Christian missionary activity” proceeds “along this path.”

During his remarks, the Pope also discussed the tension between suffering and Christian triumph.“The triumph of the Church is the Resurrection of Jesus, But there is first the Cross.”

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Colombian Senate rejects 'gay marriage'

Bogotá, Colombia, Apr 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - By a vote of 51-17, the Colombian Senate has rejected a bill that would legalize same-sex “marriage” in the country.

The bill was proposed by Senator Armando Benedetti in August 2011. It received only a fraction of the 50 ‘yes’ votes that would have been needed from the nation’s 98 senators in order to pass. 

Both supporters and opponents of the bill demonstrated outside the Senate building as lawmakers voted down the measure after several hours of debate on April 23.

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Cardinal Ruben Salazar, had issued a plea to lawmakers to consider the Church’s arguments on the question and to protect marriage as being a union of one man and one woman.

“As the Church we have clearly outlined the meaning of marriage and how equating it to homosexual unions affects the very foundation of society,” he told CNA.

Cardinal Salazar said the Church supports “the family as the permanent union sanctified by the sacrament of Marriage between one man and one woman, which offers the chance for children to grow up in an emotionally secure environment and to acquire all those elements that allow them to slowly mature and integrate themselves fully into life as adults.”

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Court protects Scottish midwives from abortion involvement

Glasgow, United Kingdom, Apr 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Two Scottish midwives won an appeal on April 24 against a court's decision forcing them to indirectly take part in abortions against their will.

“Connie and I are absolutely delighted with today's judgment,” said midwife Mary Doogan in a statement Wednesday.

Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital placed Doogan, 58, and Concepta Wood, 52, in charge of delegating and supporting staff who performed abortions.

Although they objected, the hospital’s management argued that a conscientious objection clause in the 1967 Abortion Act applied only to those directly performing abortions.

The Catholic women then filed a case – with the financial help of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, against NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board – but lost it on Feb. 29, 2012.

Local judge Lady Anne Smith had argued that the 1967 Act allowed only qualified conscientious objection and noted that they were “being protected from having any direct involvement with the procedure to which they object.”

“Nothing they have to do as part of their duties terminates a woman’s pregnancy,” Lady Smith had said last year.

The midwives then appealed the court’s decision and won. Both called the ruling “a welcome affirmation of the rights of all midwives to withdraw from the practice that would violate the conscience and which over time, would indeed debar many from entering what has always been a very rewarding and noble profession.”

The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Children's general secretary, Paul Tully, underscored that “the result is a tremendous victory for these devoted and caring professional women.”

“This outcome will be a great relief to all midwives, nurses and doctors who may be under pressure to supervise abortion procedures and who are wondering whether the law protects their right to opt out,” said Tully in a statement released today by Britain’s largest pro-life organization.

The midwives maintained that their right to opt-out of providing abortions for reasons of conscience was upheld by Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Section 4(1) of the U.K.’s 1967 Abortion Act.

Both Doogan and Wood had worked for over 20 years at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital and had always openly stated their conscientious objection to abortion.

Hospital management told midwives employed as “labor ward co-ordinators” that they had to oversee abortion procedures when the hospital transferred late abortion patients to the labor ward instead of the gynecology ward.

But three appeal court judges, Lord Donald Mackay, Lady Leonna Dorrian and Lord Robin McEwan, ruled in their favor.

They said the women can exercise their right to conscientious exemption by “refusing to delegate, supervise or support staff in charge of women undergoing abortions.”

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Mexican bishops urge Supreme Court to defend life

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The bishops of Mexico have called on the Supreme Court to resist pressure from abortion supporters seeking to overturn 18 state laws protecting the right to life from the moment of conception.

A statement from the Mexican bishops’ conference referred to three lawsuits aimed at fighting the state laws. The full court is expected to rule on the lawsuits in the coming days.

The bishops reminded the Mexican justices that their principal mission is to defend the “most basic of all rights, the right to life,” upon which “the present and future of our nation depends.”

“The fundamental right to life does not depend on the moral character of the person who defends it, nor is it based exclusively on religious motives, which in any case also have a place in an authentic secular state that does not discriminate against any citizen because of their religious beliefs,” the bishops said.

They also observed that after a reform of country’s laws in 2002, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Mexico’s constitution “protects human life and similarly protects the product of conception, in so much as it is a manifestation of human life, regardless of its biological stage of development.”

For this reason, the bishops continued, “If progress means moving forward positively, then we Mexicans must continue ahead in the recognition, promotion and defense of the rights of all persons, aware that a society can only be democratic, live in peace and have a future if it respects the fundamental right to life from the moment of conception.”

“For all these reasons, the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico hopes that, for the good of all Mexican citizens, the Supreme Court, in accord with what it has already ruled in this area, will confirm the power of states to freely legislate within the bounds of their sovereignty, as befits a Federal Republic,” the bishops said.

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Archbishop denounces sexual violence in war

New York City, N.Y., Apr 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy See’s apostolic nuncio to the United Nations has called for more action to prevent “heinous acts” of sexual violence in war and other forms of conflict.

“This violent domination of a human being constitutes an egregious form of degradation of their dignity, but also of the aggressor, who, in so doing, disfigures himself as a human person,” Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt said in New York City April 17.

“Such heinous crimes are yet another consequence of the destructive power of war and thus all states and the international community must do their utmost to stop these barbarous acts that have been properly labeled as an outrage to the conscience of mankind.”

The archbishop spoke during the U.N. Security Council’s open debate on women, peace and security.

He said it is “frustrating and saddening” to read the U.N. Secretary-General’s report on sexual violence in conflict. The archbishop denounced rape, forced sterilization, sex-related abduction and sexual slavery as “egregious acts of violence against women,” acknowledging that men and boys are also sometimes victims.

While acknowledging there are many underlying reasons for sexual violence, Archbishop Chullikatt called it “disappointing” that the report did not highlight attacks on victims based on their religious beliefs, saying such attacks are persistent in “nearly every region of the world.”

Resolving crises through peaceful means would help prevent sexual violence in times of conflict, he suggested, adding that greater discipline among armed forces and awareness campaigns respectful of women would also help in prevention efforts.

The archbishop urged the adoption and implementation of plans and legislation to protect sexual violence victims and to hold perpetrators accountable.

Stressing that it is “essential” for victims to “be afforded every assistance,” he lamented that victims of sexual assault are sometimes ostracized or forced to live with their aggressors as wives, a practice he called “particularly disturbing.”

Archbishop Chullikatt also criticized the U.N.’s endorsement of abortion for pregnant rape victims, promoted in a recent report as “access to safe pregnancy termination services.”

“Here, concealed by a veil of words, lies the stark reality of the suppression of human life, the death of the innocent unborn child – which only visits further violence on a woman already in difficulty,” he said.

Instead, he explained, women who are pregnant as a result of rape should be offered “care, support, education and assistance” to meet their material, social and spiritual needs before and after the pregnancy, including adoption assistance.

The archbishop affirmed that women have an important role to play in preventing violence.

He commended the international community’s efforts to increase women’s roles in making decisions about conflict prevention and resolution.

The Holy See’s delegation to the U.N. believes there is “ample room” for greater involvement of women in preventing war and in post-war reconciliation and reconstruction, Archbishop Chullikatt said.

“Women can and should play greater roles as allies of peace,” he emphasized.

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