London, England, Jul 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A British plan to apply family-friendly filters to internet connections by default has drawn praise as a thoughtful way to balance the free flow of information with the protection of people from harm.
U.K. prime minister David Cameron announced in a July 22 speech that the government had reach an agreement with the nation's biggest internet service providers, covering 95 percent of British homes, to block access to pornography unless the consumer consciously chooses to remove the filter.
“It's a very good thing, because it establishes that the cultural norm, the feed that's just going to come into (your home), is not going to include” pornography, Dr. Susan Selner-Wright, a philosophy professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colo., told CNA July 23.
In a fallen world, she explained, “it's fine to agree that this is not going to be part of your normal feed, but if you want this, here's the process you go through and then it will come to you. I think that's exactly the right solution.”
From there, Christians are called “to do the real work, which is to get at why are people attracted to pornography, and start to work on the buyers' end to try to effect conversion so that people don't want this anymore.”
Selner-Wright explained that in light of the “value of the free flow of information,” and that “in order to outlaw every bad thing,” governments would have to restrict access to many goods, the opt-in system is a reasonable solution to the plague of online pornography.
Philosophers since the fifth century's Saint Augustine, she said, have recognized that “you don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.”
Selner-Wright added that St. Thomas Aquinas in the 1200s affirmed civil law should not outlaw all evils, as “human law can't get rid of all evil things without getting rid of a lot of things that are necessary for human thriving.”
Because of this, then, “open societies err on the side” of allowing access to that which is harmful, “but we don't have to let it be there in a way that it's just constantly confronting us.”
“We have a right to say no,” Selner-Wright explained, which is reflected in the new U.K. policy.
Prime minister Cameron announced that the porn blocking policy is being adopted to “protect our children and their innocence.”
“Many children are viewing online pornography and other damaging material at a very early age, and that the nature of that pornography is so extreme, it is distorting their view of sex and relationships,” he added.
The government's aim, he said, is to “stand on the side” of parents trying to protect their children, and “to make that job a bit easier, not a bit harder.”
Selner-Wright said that it was easy to see why the British government is adopting the policy for the sake of children, rather than all persons, because children “just happen to be the only human beings that its really fashionable to want to protect at this point.”
“Everybody else is out there in a free-for-all … and part of where we've gone in the West is that the rest of us, once you're 18, all these images can come at you all the time.”
Yet the concern to protect children from “distorted ideas about sex,” as Cameron said, shows that “the reason we want to protect children from it, is because its harmful to human beings,” according to Selner-Wright.
Between the internet, advertisements and a constantly-connected culture, “we just have a very visually assaultive situation,” Selner-Wright reflected, “and this is just the beginning of saying 'stop.' Stopping the visual assault on children is the first thing.”
She finds the implicit acknowledgment of pornography's harm in the new policy hopeful. “If people can wrap their brains around why that makes sense, I think you're getting closer to seeing why it makes sense for other people too.”
In another Western nation, Iceland, the legislative and executive branches are similarly considering bans on internet pornography out of concerns about the effects on children of having been exposed to violent sexual content.
The country has already banned strip clubs and forbids the printing and distribution of pornography, but not yet dealt with pornography on the internet.
Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Over 500 local pilgrims flocked to the Franciscan Monastery in Washington D.C. on Saturday to join in prayer and show solidarity with the millions of World Youth Day pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro.
“The beauty of the Universal Church is that you can feel close to the Bishop of Rome, not because he is the Church, but because he represents a Church that is universal but also local. You can’t separate those two realities,” said Jonathan Lewis, Young Adult Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Washington, who put on the July 27 event.
“What happens when you enter into the local Church is that you encounter the Universal. That’s what happened at Rio in D.C.,” he told CNA.
“Rio in D.C.” coincided with World Youth Day’s closing vigil in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Participants prayed the Divine Office alongside pilgrims in Brazil. They watched Pope Francis’ accompanying reflections via a live stream set up to display at the Franciscan Monastery.
The event also included opportunities for confession, Eucharistic adoration, and a candlelight vigil Mass in the monastery’s grotto.
The Brazilian Catholic community in Washington, D.C. also helped to bring the atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro to the capital of the United States. Lewis explained that Brazilian-American volunteers “spent days cooking” a traditional Brazilian meal of rice, beans, empanadas, tropical deserts and other foods for the patrons. Dancers offered Samba dance lessons after the Mass for young adults.
“There were many moments that were surprising replicas of the World Youth Day experience,” Lewis said, noting that Rio in D.C. experienced a doubling of its turnout and rainstorms as other recent World Youth Day events have. He said the event was blessed by the “incredible diversity” of its participants.
Lewis said the event aimed to “bring Rio to DC” and allow young adults to “enter into World Youth Day and make a pilgrimage of the heart.” They did this through catechesis, the sacraments, reflection, rich symbolism, the presence of the Eucharist. They also experienced closeness with Pope Francis “in a small way” through watching him lead Night Prayer.
A first-class relic of Blessed Pope John Paul II was present at the event. The piece of the soon-to-be-canonized Pope’s cassock had been soaked with blood from the May 13, 1981 assassination attempt on his life. Fr. Gregory Gresko, chaplain of the Pope John Paul II Shrine in Washington, D.C., brought the relic.
Bl. Pope John Paul II initiated World Youth Day in 1986. He was named a patron for World Youth Day 2013.
Young adults from around the area came to the local World Youth Day event. Some said that the event enabled them to be united with the Universal Church around the world.
Stephen Castellano, 22, told CNA that participating in an event simultaneous with World Youth Day in Rio enabled him “really to participate in the New Evangelization” and “encounter Christ more deeply for myself and be part of the broader movement around the world.”
“It really felt like I was there,” he remarked.
Juliette Rakotomala and Nicolasa Chavez, both 21, said logistical and financial barriers prevented them from flying to Brazil for World Youth Day this year. However, being able to participate in the “inspirational” D.C. event and being able to see the Pope made the both the concept of World Youth Day and their faith “more real”
“I feel that we’re living the message,” Chavez said, speaking of the young adults gathered at “Rio in D.C.”
Rakotomala added that the World Youth Day event “really motivated me to do whatever I’m doing to live out my faith and make the world a better place.”
Vatican City, Jul 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Vatican and Italy have reached an agreement on sharing financial information that will help the two countries prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
“The Holy See and the Vatican City State take international responsibilities concerning Anti- Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism very seriously, and Italy is an especially important partner for us,” said René Brülhart, the director of the Vatican Financial Information Authority.
The memorandum of understanding between the Vatican and Italy is based on a model prepared by the Egmont Group, the global organization of national Financial Intelligence Units that the Holy See joined earlier this month.
The agreement establishes guidelines for “reciprocity, permitted uses of information and confidentiality,” according to a July 29 Vatican statement.
The memorandum was signed on July 26 by Cardinal Attilio Nicora, president of the Vatican Information Authority, and his Italian counterpart Dr. Claudio Clemente, director of the Unità di Informazione Finanziaria (Financial Information Unit) of the Bank of Italy.
A source at one of the Vatican’s financial institutions with knowledge of the new agreement told CNA July 26 that it is not related to the recent arrest of Monsignor Nunzio Scarano on charges of money laundering.
The Vatican has already signed agreements with Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Slovenia and the United States.
The Vatican’s Financial Information Authority is currently pursuing agreements with more than 20 other countries and expects to finalize several of those in 2013.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Young people participating in the World Youth Day prayer vigil in Rio de Janeiro before the final Mass with Pope Francis said the experience left a mark on them.
“The vigil was something spectacular,” said Yoel Aparicio from Lima, Peru.
“Visiting Brazil isn’t just visiting Brazil,” he told CNA, “because the Pope asks you to go back to your parish to share everything you have learned.”
Aparicio and his friend, Guerson Cruz, belong to the Neocatechumenal Way and arrived in Brazil a week ago, alongside hundreds of others from their movement.
“The experience that I have inside of me is going to motivate me more to be able to fight against everything the world offers me,” Aparicio said on July 28.
“The spirit of the Pope is to move the youth and the churches to establish something more solid,” he explained.
During the previous night’s prayer vigil – one of the major events of World Youth Day – Pope Francis prayed with the crowds on Copacabana Beach and led them in Eucharistic Adoration.
The Pope told some three million pilgrims from around the world that Christ “still needs the young people” to be missionaries for his Church.
“I am sure that the seed is falling on good soil, that you want to be good soil, not part-time Christians,” he said, “not starchy and superficial, but real.”
With sentences like “Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup,” the Holy Father also brought tears to a few people’s eyes.
“It filled me with joy, and I think being here is simply something extraordinary and incredible,” remarked Cruz.
“Especially the Pope’s message, which is something that seems so simple, and actually it is something magnificent, something big,” he said.
The 19-year-old pilgrim underscored that his favorite part of what Pope Francis said is that “we should love each other and…accept God in our life so we can take action.”
He also liked that the pontiff emphasized the importance of “not just living this greatness here but also taking it elsewhere and to other countries.”
“It’s something really important because there are many people who are poor,” he explained, and it is necessary to realize that the ability to come to World Youth Day is “a blessing, it’s a joy and it’s something really exciting.”
“I wish to change my life, and I know it’s going to be hard for me because putting aside the ‘I’ is something really hard, but I know that I can do it with God,” said the Peruvian.
Leaving the vigil, he stressed the joy that he felt and said that he knows God exists “and that he can change my life.”
Rome, Italy, Jul 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis finished off his trip to Brazil with one last unscripted moment by holding a 1 hour and 20 minute press conference during the flight back to Rome.
The July 28 meeting with journalists covered everything from the canonization of Blessed John Paul II to an investigation of a Vatican monsignor who allegedly lived in a homosexual relationship.
Monsignor Battista Ricca was recently made secretary of the commission of cardinals that oversees the Vatican bank. He was the target of an internal investigation after Italy’s L’Espresso magazine accused him of improprieties while working at the papal nunciature in Uruguay from 1999 to 2001.
Further inquiry “found nothing,” said the Pope.
“I’d like to add,” the pontiff said according to news reports, “that many times we seem to seek out the sins of somebody’s youth and publish them. We’re not talking about crimes, which are something else. The abuse of minors, for instance, is a crime.
“But one can sin and then convert, and the Lord both forgives and forgets. We don’t have the right to refuse to forget … it’s dangerous,” he said.
Pope Francis also revealed that the date for the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II will probably not be this coming Dec. 8., due to the winter weather that would make travel from Poland difficult at that time of year.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland suggested that the late November feast of Christ the King or next spring’s Feast of Divine Mercy are two possibilities, the Pope explained.
Among other important issues the Holy Father addressed were: the reform of the Vatican’s Institute for Religious Works, commonly called the Vatican bank, the need to develop a deeper “theology of women” in the Church, and whether or not he would accept someone with a homosexual tendency as a priest in his diocese.
Pope Francis reiterated the Church’s belief that having a homosexual orientation is not sinful but engaging in homosexual acts is.
“Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?” he said in response to a question about whether he would accept a celibate, homosexual priest in his diocese.
“It (the Catechism) says they should not be marginalized because of this but that they must be integrated into society,” he added, according to the BBC.
The Pope made his remarks as he addressed the possibility of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican, which has been the subject of discussion in the Italian press.
“There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card!” he joked, according to John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.
“You have to distinguish between the fact of a person being gay, and the fact of a lobby,” the Pope told journalists.
“The problem is not having this orientation,” the pontiff stated. “We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.”
As for the Institute for Religious Works, known by its Italian acronym IOR, Pope Francis said his decision about how to reform it is still up in the air.
Among the options he listed are turning it into an aid fund, making it an “ethical bank” or closing it down.
“I don’t know how this story will end.
“But the characteristics of the IOR - whether it’s a bank, an aid fund or whatever it is - are transparency and honesty,” the Pope said, according to the Associated Press.
Pope Francis also mentioned the need to delve more deeply into the role of women in the Church.
“The role of women doesn’t end just with being a mother and with house work … we don’t yet have a truly deep theology of women in the Church,” he said, while underscoring that the ordination of women is not possible.
Finally, the Holy Father offered the media a preview of his schedule. Two Italian trips, one to Cagliari and one to Assisi, are on his agenda for Sept. 22 and Oct. 4, respectively.
But looking even further ahead, the Pope said he would like to visit Jerusalem and Patriarch Bartholomew I who has invited him, along with the Israeli and Palestinian governments.
A trip to Asia is also a possibility, especially since Benedict XVI did not make it there, but the pontiff said it is only an idea at this point. He did offer the Philippines and Sri Lanka as the two likely candidates.
The papal plane arrived at Rome’s Ciampino Airport on Monday morning, and after landing Pope Francis paid a quick visit to Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome to give thanks for World Youth Day.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Young global participants in Rio de Janeiro's World Youth Day say that traveling to Krakow, Poland in 2016 for the next event “will be a great challenge,” but that “we’ll be there.”
Arturo Fernandez, from the Diocese of Morón in Argentine, told CNA that young people “will do as much as possible to attend the next World Youth Day. We get together and pray hard to be able to go.”
Being a part of the global youth event in Rio “has been an experience that money cannot buy,” he said. “There are many people who want to be near the Pope and that has touched us greatly. We've been able to hear it, see it, and we have been around him – he always has something to say.”
Pope Francis announced the Polish city as the site of the next World Youth Day at the close of Sunday Mass in Rio on July 28. The event is sure to attract millions.
Blessed Pope John Paul II was Archbishop of Krakow before his election to the papacy. The archdiocese has about 1.5 million Catholics and over 1,100 diocesan priests across 439 parishes, according to the website Catholic Hierarchy.
For Brazilian Manuela Freire, 24, the announcement that the next World Youth Day “was something providential because it is the land of John Paul II. I think all Brazilians who are here will go to Poland to join in that World Youth Day too.”
Despite financial and transportation obstacles for some young people in traveling to Krakow, last week's World Youth Day in Rio has sparked deep enthusiasm among many to participate in 2016's event.
Matias Gonzalez, a 30-year-old Argentine, said that Rio's World Youth Day “has been really impressive. Has been incredible to feel like brothers with people who you have seen for the first time. All this has been a Godsend.”
According to Uruguayan youth Ana Orleits, “Rio de Janeiro has been very good and very interesting. We have been able to see the Pope, and now we will go to Poland where we have new experiences and meet more people.”
Diego Guzman, from Arizona, said that “everything has been good and I've enjoyed everything. This is my first World Youth Day and I will not forget being here.”
For Eduardo Fernandez, a 29-year-old from the town of Caaguazú in Paraguay, “having been in this World Youth Day has been a beautiful experience. I think we have all been changed.”
“When we heard that the next venue will be Poland we began to make our calculations what we need to be able to go and I think we are going to be in Krakow in 2016,” he added.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Jul 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Catholics in the town of Mussafah in the United Arab Emirates have begun construction on a new church dedicated to St. Paul.
Bishop Paul Hinder, O.F.M., the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, blessed the church’s foundation stone on June 29 in the presence of the local Catholic community, including priests and religious missionaries .
“God dwells in each person ... and with faith and love (is) gathering us together in this new church,” Bishop Hinder said.
He said he hoped the love of Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit will enable the “speedy” completion of the church, expected to be finished in two years.
Mussafah is an industrial town southwest of the capital city Abu Dhabi.
There are about 3,500 Catholic families and about 15,000 Catholic laborers around Abu Dhabi. Many are guest workers from Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines, but some are local Arabs, George Puthussery, press officer for the Abu Dhabi-based Vicariate of Southern Arabia, told CNA.
In 2011, the local government of Abu Dhabi granted a land area of 1.1 acres for the construction of the parish church.
St. Paul’s Church would be the second parish of the Abu Dhabi area. For almost fifty years, St. Joseph’s Cathedral has been the only church for Catholics near Abu Dhabi.
People travel 23 miles from Mussafah to attend to religious services at
St Joseph’s Cathedral.
Puthussery said the new church will make it “easy” for working residents of the area to attend church.
The Vicariate of Southern Arabia covers the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Yemen, where the population s primarily Muslim. Eighteen Masses are celebrated in the vicariate each Sunday in various languages. There are 46 priests serving about seven million Catholics in the vicariate.
A new church recently opened in the United Arab Emirates.
In June, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, consecrated St. Anthony of Padua Church in the northeastern town of Jazirat Al Hamra on the Persian Gulf.
The Holy See and the United Arab Emirates established full diplomatic relations in 2007.
Salina, Kan., Jul 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Diocese of Salina, Kansas, is mourning the death of its former leader, Bishop Emeritus George K. Fitzsimons, who died Sunday July 28, a bout a month short of his 85th birthday.
“Bishop Fitzsimons was loved by all. In his 20 years of devoted ministry to the people of the Salina Diocese he established many lasting friendships,” Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Salina said July 28.
“I believe, however, that he would be the first to teach us that the most lasting relationship is the one we establish with Jesus. His greatest concern, and greatest joy, was leading others in the ways of Gospel hope, mercy, and love.”
Bishop Fitzsimons was born in Kansas City, Mo. In 1928. Before entering the seminary, he worked at a bank and as a real estate salesman, and served as a lieutenant junior grade in the U.S. Navy from 1950 to 1954.
He attended Conception Seminary College in Missouri, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-Saint Joseph on March 18, 1961. He served there as associate pastor, and then as chancellor and vicar general of the diocese. He was then consecrated as auxiliary bishop of the diocese in 1975.
Bishop Fitzsimons was then installed as bishop of Salina, a diocese covering nearly 27,000 square miles of north-western Kansas, in 1984. He served as head of the diocese for 20 years, until his retirement at the age of 76.
After retirement, Bishop Fitzsimons settled in Ogden, about 60 miles east of Salina, and continued to minister until his death.
His wake will be celebrated Aug. 1 at 6 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina. Bishop Fitzsimon's funeral Mass will be said by Bishop Weisenburger the following day, also at the cathedral, at 11 a.m.
Bishop Fitzsimons is survived by his sister Margaret Muckenthaler, as well as his brother-in-law and several nieces and nephews.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 29, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Over three million Catholic pilgrims from around the world attended the final Mass at World Youth Day on Sunday, making the 2013 event the largest of its kind since 1995.
Crowds of pilgrims from dozens of countries thronged Copacabana Beach for the final World Youth Day Mass with Pope Francis July 28.
The mayor’s office of Rio di Janeiro estimated that 3.2 million people attended the final World Youth Day Mass at Copacabana Beach.
Another 3 million people attended the prayer vigil with the Pope on Saturday, according to the mayor’s office and police estimates.
The 1995 World Youth Day Mass with Pope John Paul II, held in Manila in the Philippines, remains the most attended. An estimated 4 to 5 million people attended that event.
Over 350,000 pilgrims registered for the event, with more than 200,000 from Brazil. About 20,000 pilgrims registered from Argentina, the Pope’s home country.
At least 9,500 U.S. youth from 650 groups attended the event, the U.S. bishops’ conference reports. Thirty-six U.S. bishops attended, including Cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York and Sean O’Malley of Boston and Archbishops Samuel Aquila of Denver, Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio and Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee.
About two million attended World Youth Day events in Rome in 2000, while 1.6 million attended the global event at Czestochowa, Poland in 1991.
World Youth Day will return to Poland in 2016, when the city of Krakow will host. The first World Youth Day took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1987.
Denver, Colo., Jul 29, 2013 (CNA) - Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila has named CNA's Rome Bureau News Director, David Uebbing, to serve as his assistant as the chancellor to the Archdiocese of Denver.
“I'm really looking forward to working with Archbishop Aquila,” Uebbing told CNA July 29. “I am blessed to be able to help him in his work to encourage people to meet Jesus, support marriages, defend life at all stages, and engage in the New Evangelization in the archdiocese.”
As chancellor to the Denver archdiocese, Uebbing will serve as a special assistant and senior counselor to the Archbishop.
In his over five years working as CNA's managing editor, Uebbing substantially increased readership, recruited new staff and helped launch the EWTN News website.
“Dave has been absolutely foundational to the agency's success over the years,” said CNA's current managing editor Marianne Medlin.
“He will be deeply missed by our team, but we are thrilled for him as he brings his great talents to this new opportunity to serve the Church.”
In January, Uebbing and his wife, Jennifer, moved to Italy where with their two toddlers, Joseph and John Paul, he served as CNA's Rome bureau editor during what has been arguably one of the most historic times in recent Church history.
“The only way that I can explain that my family was here for the first papal resignation in 600 years and then the election of the Church's first Latin American Pope is to say, God did it all,” he said.
“We moved to Rome because we heard God calling us here, and he blessed us with an unforgettable experience of life at the heart of the Church and in the city of Rome.
Uebbing said his time with CNA, especially his work in Rome, has prepared him to take on this new role by familiarizing him with “issues that the Church is facing both at the local and international level.”
“The fact that the agency covers the contributions of bishops around the world to the intellectual, charitable, spiritual and social aspects of society is one way I've gained that familiarity,” he said.
He added that “seeing how the Church functions within the Vatican "is something that can’t be learned in a book,” but rather, “has to be experienced.”
Uebbing will begin serving the archdiocese on Aug. 19, taking the place of former chancellor, J.D. Flynn, who recently accepted a position as communications director for the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb.
The South Bend, Ind. native holds a master’s degree in theology from the Augustine Institute in Denver and a Bachelor’s in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.