Archive of October 11, 2013

New auxiliary bishop appointed to Saint Paul-Minneapolis

St. Paul, Minn., Oct 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis today appointed Fr. Andrew Cozzens, a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, to be an auxiliary bishop for the same archdiocese.

“I am honored by our Holy Father’s appointment and look forward to serving this local Church as auxiliary bishop,” Fr. Cozzens said Oct. 11. “We are blessed with many active, faithful and vibrant parishes, Catholic schools and ministry organizations throughout the Archdiocese.”

“I am grateful for being called to assist them in their efforts to make the name of Jesus Christ known and loved.”

As auxiliary bishop, Fr. Cozzens will assist Archbishop John Nienstedt in the governance of the archdiocese. He will serve alongside Bishop Lee Piché, who was himself consecrated an auxiliary bishop in 2009.

“It will be a privilege for me to work with Archbishop Nienstedt. I also look forward to working with Bishop Piché, who provides such a good model of the special service of an auxiliary bishop,” Fr. Cozzens added.

According to the Saint Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, Fr. Cozzens was born in 1968 in Denver, Colo., the youngest of three children, and studied at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kans. He came to Saint Paul through NET Ministries, where he served as a travelling missionary throughout the country.

He then entered seminary for the Saint Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese, and studied at St. Paul Seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1997, and served as a parish priest before entering a program of doctoral studies in Rome.

Fr. Cozzens earned a doctorate in dogmatic theology from the Angelicum, and has subsequently served as a formator, assistant professor, and worship director at St. Paul Seminary.

He is also a member of the mission advisory council of the Institute for Priestly Formation.

Fr. Cozzens is a founding member of the Companions of Christ, an association of diocesan priests committed to priestly fraternity and a common life, as well as the evangelical counsels.

Fr. Cozzens will be consecrated a bishop Dec. 9, on which day the feast of the Immaculate Conception will be celebrated. “I have a great devotion to Our Lady, so I’m very grateful for her intercession and prayers, and the opportunity to be ordained on her feast day is really a great thing,” Fr. Cozzens told The Catholic Spirit.

He also explained that he is “a firm believer that Jesus wants to heal … I just hope my ministry as a bishop will be part of the healing that flows from the heart of Jesus for people.”

Fr. Cozzens is active in Hispanic ministry in the archdiocese, being fluent in Spanish, and has also said it is important that clerics “have an evangelistic heart.”

Following a Mass said Oct. 11 celebrating the appointment, Fr. Cozzen's mother, Judy, told The Catholic Spirit that “I'm just praying for him. He's a holy, humble priest, and I just pray that he will be a holy, humble bishop.”

Archbishop Nienstedt stated, “I am thankful for the Holy Father’s gift of another bishop to serve the pastoral needs of this great Archdiocese, especially among our Latino community. I am fortunate to have bishop-elect Cozzens and Bishop Piché by my side to better serve the faithful of this local Church.”

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis covers more than 6,000 miles, and is served by 360 diocesan priests, and 84 religious. Of the 3.2 million persons in the archdiocese, 839,000, or 26 percent, are Catholic.

Also today, Pope Francis appointed Fr. Tsegaye Derera, vicar general of the Vicariate Apostolic of Nekemte and a priest of the Ethiopian Catholic Archeparchy of Addis Abeba, as coadjutor vicar apostolic of the Vicariate Apostolic of Soddo.

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Debate over reforming synod of bishops stretches back decades

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The vision of reforming the synod of bishops, an effort undertaken by Pope Francis, goes back to at least Pope Paul VI, who had even broader ideas for the synod, according to a leading Vatican analyst.

The synod of bishops, which acts as an advisory body to the Pope, was established by Paul VI in 1965 by the motu proprio Apostolica sollicitudo to “strengthen (the Pope's) union” with other bishops and to “establish even closer ties” with them.

The synod consists of a group of bishops from around the world who meet at fixed times “to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel … and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world,” according to canon law.

Members of the synod are for the most part elected by their brother bishops for a three-year term.

Benny Lai, who has covered the Vatican since 1951 and is styled in Italian “the dean of Vaticanisti,” told CNA Oct. 7 that “Paul VI even considered enrolling in the (papal) conclave…the 15 bishops of the ‘board’ of the synod of bishops.”

According to Lai, who was a friend and biographer of the late Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, Archbishop of Genoa, the cardinal “convinced Paul VI not to do this (only) after an hour-and-a-half conversation.”

Cardinal Siri argued that “enrolling in the conclave both the cardinals, chosen by the Pope, and the bishops, elected by the episcopal conferences, could lead to a 'split', since cardinals do not have to meet anyone's expectations, while the members of the synod must account for their decisions to their electors, and so could be influenced.”

It was this fear of a possible “external” influence on the conclave that led Paul VI to state definitively that “only the Sacred College (of cardinals) will elect the Pope.”

While Pope Francis plans a reform of the synod of bishops, it is not expected he will go so far as to include them among the Papal electors.

However, the prominence of synods could become a key theme of this pontificate. His reformation may lead to a permanent assembly of the synod of bishops, to be held in Rome, which dialogues with local Churches.

The synod of bishops first took shape during the Second Vatican Council, under the auspices of Pope Paul VI. Worried by the possibility of a lack of coordination between the Roman Church and other local Churches, he attached a preliminary note to the conciliar document on the Church, Lumen gentium.

In a July 1 blog post at America Magazine, Fr. Drew Christiansen observed that this preliminary note taught that synods would not “prejudice the rights and privileges of the Pope and the Holy See, which is why the synod has been a consultative but not deliberative body.”

Synods currently depend on Papal endorsement, Fr. Christiansen said; their conclusions typically take the form of an apostolic exhortation issued by the Pope himself.

But from the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has shown a wish for greater representation in the governance of the Church, and has indeed appointed a council of eight cardinals to advise him on curial reform.

Fr. Christiansen said he has also “indicated (this) council may be replaced in the years ahead by a council elected by the Synod.”

The synod's last meeting was held in 2012 and concerned the new evangelization. Its next meeting, to discuss the family, was announced recently, and will take place in the autumn of 2014.

“This is the way in which the Pope intends to promote reflection and to guide the path of the community of the Church, with the responsible participation of the episcopate from different parts of the world,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said Oct. 8.

Fr. Lombardi also stressed the importance of the Church moving “as a community in reflection and prayer.”

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Teach society to respect life, Archbishop Gomez tells teens

Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez encouraged a gathering of thousands of teens to deepen their respect for all human life and to show society how to reach out in love and compassion to all those in need.

“Our job as Christians is to show our society a new way. A way of love. A way of welcoming and hospitality,” he said Oct. 9.

He stressed the need to defend “the sanctity and the dignity of all human life – from conception, through life until natural death.”

“We need to reach out to everyone with the helping hand of Jesus Christ – from the woman expecting a child to the handicapped and the aged. We need to be people of mercy and understanding – welcoming to everyone.”

The archbishop spoke to an audience of more than 5,000 Catholic junior high and high school students at the “Christian Service 4 Life” event at the StubHub Center at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Carson, Calif.

The event, which took place during the Church’s Respect Life Month, was co-sponsored by Life SoCal, a pro-life group in southern California. Other speakers included actor Eduardo Verastegui and 2011 Miss Delaware, Maria Cahill. Leaders of community organizations talked to the students about how to help the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and pregnant women and their unborn children.

Archbishop Gomez lamented the loss of respect for life in the culture, evident in the problems of abortion, euthanasia, street violence, domestic violence, the neglect of the old and the sick, and other forms of indifference to suffering.

He encouraged the students to ask what Jesus wants from them and to be “a voice for the people God loves.”

“Our God loves and cares for every one he has created – especially the innocent and defenseless, those who can’t take care of themselves,” he said. “Especially those lives that are weak and fragile, ‘inconvenient’ or a burden to others – the child in the womb, the sick and the handicapped, the elderly.”

Action to protect the vulnerable is part of the Christian mission in the world, the archbishop explained.

“My young friends, Jesus needs you! The Church needs you and our society needs you! We need your energy, your enthusiasm and your hope. You are the future!” he said, citing Pope Francis’ words of encouragement at World Youth Day in Brazil.

Archbishop Gomez said that Jesus Christ is calling each person to be “disciples” and “missionaries” who will “go and serve others” and tell others about him.

“My young friends, Jesus is calling us to be saints! And you are never too young to answer that calling!”

The archbishop recounted the story of St. David Roldán Lara, a Mexican 19-year-old who was martyred in the anti-Catholic persecutions in Mexico in the early 20th century.

The young man worked peacefully to resist the persecution, but was arrested with his friends and his parish priest. He was “smiling and joyful” even in the days before his execution by firing squad.

Archbishop Gomez described the teenage saint as a model for youth.

“So let’s go be Christian servants for life! Go to Jesus and serve him by your love and compassion for others. Serve him by your witness to the Gospel of life!” he urged, asking the Virgin Mary to help Catholics “build the culture of life in our time.”

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Bill introduced to show abortion charges in insurance exchanges

Washington D.C., Oct 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A bill newly introduced in the House of Representatives would enable individuals to determine if they are paying a surcharge for abortion under the health care exchanges available under the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act “requires premium payers to be assessed an abortion surcharge every month to pay for abortions,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said at an Oct. 9 press conference.

“But many pro-life Americans may unwittingly purchase pro-abortion plans because of a marketing secrecy clause,” he added.

Smith continued, saying, “Americans have a right to know upfront and with full transparency when they are purchasing a plan that subsidizes the killing of unborn children. Even the most ardent advocate of abortion should embrace full disclosure.”

The new health care exchanges opened Oct. 1, allowing individuals to compare and purchase different health care plans.

Despite assurances from the Obama administration that the Affordable Care Act would not fund abortions, Smith said, some of the federally-funded exchange plans include a monthly mandatory abortion surcharge, and there is little information enabling consumers to know exactly which plans include this abortion-funding charge.

The bill to correct this problem, introduced by Smith and co-sponsored by 70 other members of the House, addresses the funding of abortion plans in health care exchanges and requires the government to fully disclose whether or not each plan on the exchanges covers abortion.

Americans entering the exchanges “shouldn't have to spend hours trying to figure out if the money they pay for premiums will be spent to provide abortions,” said Rep. Dan Lipinski (D- Ill.).

“This bill will give the American people the transparency they need to make informed decisions that are in line with their religious and moral beliefs."

Rep. Diane Black (R- Tenn.) called the lack of disclosure “troubling,” adding that for many consumers it is “unclear as to what exactly will be covered by the plans they purchase online.”

Black called it an issue of concern for pro-life Americans as well as American citizens at large.

“Clearly Americans who are pro-life would object to paying for a health care plan that included abortion coverage and then be forced to pay an abortion surcharge into a fund that is meant to be used solely for the purposes of destroying human life.”

The issue, however is “not a partisan issue—this is commonsense,” as other citizens should know whether or not they are subsidizing abortions and whether they will receive coverage for such products and procedures, she said.

Lipinski explained that such a situation would be avoidable if the government did not fund abortions, and recognized earlier laws that prevented such use of taxpayer funds.

“There is a longstanding principle in our country that the federal government does not subsidize abortions. Yet under Obamacare, taxpayer money under the guise of federal subsidies will be paying for insurance that covers elective abortion.”

“This needs to stop.”

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Mary 'can only bring us to God,' expert says as entrustment nears

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Anticipating Pope Francis' entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 13, a specialist in Marian apparitions reflected on how the Blessed Mother serves to bring people to Jesus.

“It is necessary to have recourse to the Virgin because she can only bring you to God. That's her whole mission. She has nothing of self in it at all. She lives only for God and to bring you to God,” said Marian expert Tim Tindal-Robertson during an Oct. 10 interview with CNA.

Tindal-Robertson is currently the national president in England of the World Apostolate of Fatima, an international association of the faithful which was erected by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 2010.

Speaking of the significance of Pope Francis’ decision to entrust the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Tindal-Robertson said that “the Pope has judged that in the year of faith this is a very appropriate moment” to focus on Mary’s presence in the Church.

This presence, he noted, is “especially relevant to the situation of the Church in the world in our times. The Pope knows this very well.”

The importance of Mary's role in the modern Church is shown most clearly in the annunciation, he said, where the angel Gabriel appeared to the Blessed Mother and told her she would give birth to the Son of God.

Though “she couldn't quite understand” the magnitude of what the angel was asking of her, Mary “in her humility… consented out of her free will,” Tindal-Robertson said.

“Although she was Immaculate, that didn’t alter the fact that she had free will. Technically she could have said no, and that’s the meaning of free will, you have a choice,” he explained, “She said yes.”

Referring to the 1917 apparitions of Mary to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, Tindal-Robertson expressed that “and it’s a very special apparition, more than any other because its intimately related to the history of the twentieth century.”

The original statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which currently resides in the Portuguese shrine’s Little Chapel of Apparitions, has been offered to be sent to Rome for the celebration, and will leave for Rome on the morning of Oct. 12 and return on the afternoon of Oct. 13.

Tindal-Robertson noted the special significance of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an image of which has been molded into the center of the statue, saying that “this is where everything comes from.”

“Her heart was immaculate, that means it was incapable of resisting the plan of God. Sin could not enter into that Immaculate Heart, nor could ever sin and error, as we know all too well, are present in the world today.”

Emphasizing how there are some in the Church who say that sin in today’s society has reached “an unprecedented degree,” which has not been present before, he stressed that “that to me is why it is necessary to have recourse to the Virgin.”

“She lives only for God and to bring you to God and that is the essence of the meaning of Fatima, that’s why the Church has accepted as John Paul II said, because the Fatima message repeats the first word of the Gospel, 'repent and believe in the good news the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”

Mary, he reflected, “came back to our world. She’s not neglecting us; she's very concerned about the salvation of all of her children.”

Tindal-Robertson spoke of his anticipation of the event this weekend, at which he will present, and expressed his hope that during his homily on Sunday “the Holy Father will enlighten us further as to what is in his mind and his intention in making this act.”

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Pope Francis: Christians must guard against slyness of the devil

Rome, Italy, Oct 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his Oct. 11 daily Mass homily, the Holy Father warned of the discreet presence of the devil, exhorting those gathered to be astute in their spiritual lives.

“We must always be on guard,” exhorted the Pope to those who attended Mass in the Vatican’s Santa Marta guesthouse, “on guard against deceit, against the seduction of evil.”

Referencing the day’s gospel reading, in which Jesus has just healed a possessed man and is accused of casting out demons by the power of the devil, the Pope noted that often in history there have been those who wish to “diminish the power of the Lord” by offering different explanations for his works, urging that his is a temptation which has “reached our present day.”

“There are some priests who, when they read this Gospel passage, this and others, say: ‘But, Jesus healed a person with a mental illness.’”

“It is true,” he affirmed, “that at that time, they could confuse epilepsy with demonic possession; but it is also true that there was the devil! And we do not have the right to simplify the matter. No!”

“The presence of the devil is on the first page of the Bible, and the Bible ends as well with the presence of the devil, with the victory of God over the devil.”

Observing that the Lord has given many criteria in order to “discern” the presence of evil in our lives, the Pope stressed that “we should not be naïve,” and that one of the criteria which has been given is “not to follow the victory of Jesus” just “halfway.”

“Either you are with me, says the Lord, or you are against me” he said, noting that Jesus came to conquer the devil and “to give us the freedom” from “the enslavement the devil has over us,” which he cautioned, is not “exaggerating.”

“On this point, there are no nuances. There is a battle and a battle where salvation is at play, eternal salvation; eternal salvation.”

He exhorted those in attendance to question themselves, asking “Do I guard myself, my heart, my feelings, my thoughts? Do I guard the treasure of grace? Do I guard the presence of the Holy Spirit in me? Or do I let go, feeling secure, believing that all is going well?”

“If you do not guard yourself, he who is stronger than you will come,” warned Pope Francis, “But if someone stronger comes and overcomes, he takes away the weapons in which one trusted, and he shall divide the spoil.”

“Vigilance…Do not confuse the truth!” stressed the pontiff, giving three criteria of his own to use in the spiritual combat.

“Jesus fights the devil: first criterion. Second criterion: he who is not with Jesus is against Jesus. There are no attitudes in the middle. Third criterion: vigilance over our hearts because the devil is astute. He is never cast out forever. It will only be so on the last day.”

Pope Francis recounted the biblical analogy of the impure spirit who leaves a man, noting that once the spirit is gone “it wanders in deserted places, and seeking rest and finding none, says: ‘I will return to my house, from which I left.’”

When the spirit returns and finds it “swept clean and adorned,” he explained, it then “takes another seven spirits worse than he, who come and make their homes,” and in that way “the last state of man becomes worse than the first.”

“Vigilance,” he stressed, “because his strategy is this: ‘You became Christian. Advance in your faith. I will leave you. I will leave you tranquil. But then when you are used to not being so watchful and you feel secure, I will come back.’”

“The Gospel today begins with the devil being cast out and ends with the devil coming back! These are not lies,” he urged, “it is the Word of the Lord!”

“Let us ask the Lord for the grace to take these things seriously. He came to fight for our salvation. He won against the devil! Please, let us not do business with the devil! He seeks to return home, to take possession of us… Do not relativize; be vigilant! And always with Jesus!”

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Suit challenges HHS mandate on social justice grounds

Washington D.C., Oct 11, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The owner of a U.S. manufacturing business is filing an appeal to the Supreme Court over the HHS mandate, both because it violates his religious beliefs and because it interferes with his ability to treat his workers justly.

“I've never checked my faith at the door when I walked into the for-profit business arena” John Kennedy, owner of Autocam, told CNA Oct. 8, explaining that the company's generous health care benefits are “part of our mission as employers … to treat our employees justly.”

Autocam is an automotive and medical tool manufacturer based in Michigan and owned by a Catholic family. The company currently employs around 600 people in the United States, and will face fines of about $16 million a year if it fails to comply with the HHS mandate.

The mandate was issued under the Affordable Care Act and requires employers to provide and pay for contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs and procedures in employee health insurance plans, even if doing so violates the employer's conscience or religious beliefs.

The family had filed suit against the federal government, and the case was dismissed by the sixth circuit appeals court on Sept. 17. The Kennedys have announced they will appeal the dismissal to the Supreme Court.

Kennedy explained that while he and his family object as Catholics to the provision of contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, his ability to provide the best possible care for his employees is also of grave concern.

“When you start talking about compelling interest” for the governmental intrusion into his company's health care policy, “what we provide is so outside the norm,” he said.

Employees at Autocam earn an average of $53,000 a year, the “higher end” of skilled work, Kennedy explained, in addition to receiving a generous health benefits package. All employees are enrolled in Autocam's self-insured Health Savings Account, and Autocam contributes $1,500 towards employees’ $4,000 deductible.

In addition, “we pay 100 percent of all of the preventative medicine” for employees, as well as any medical expenses over $4,000, Kennedy explained. The health plan is less expensive for both the employer and the employees than the national average, and employees pay no premiums.

Furthermore, the plan does not block access to the products and procedures mandated under the HHS mandate – it simply does not pay for them explicitly and directly.

The Health Savings Account that Autocam provides can be used on a variety of health services, which are chosen at the employee’s discretion, and can include contraceptives, but those products are not paid for directly by Kennedy himself, nor by his self-insured plan. 

“I don't know who's using their debit card for what,” Kennedy said.

The program's generous benefits “were designed with the idea that we're blessed with the service of our employees, so we need to make sure that they're properly taken care of.”

“We did that because it is the right thing to do – treating the employees justly.”

However, the federal government has told Kennedy that “I, as a director of a company, do not have the right to have any religious or value system while inside a business.”

In arguments before the appellate court, Kennedy said he has “been given three options by the government.”

The first was to “cooperate,” violating his conscience and directly providing and paying for contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and sterilizations.

The second option that the government offered was to “terminate my plan,” simply dropping coverage, he continued.

“From a social justice standpoint, that would not be the right thing” to do, Kennedy said, because the employees would be paying more and receiving poorer health care.

The last option is to maintain an insurance plan while refusing to comply in providing the objectionable products and services, risking up to $16 million in fines per year.

Telling business owners to “separate” their religious beliefs and view of justice from their businesses is troubling, Kennedy said.

“Think about the impact the Catholic social justice call has had on society,” he continued, noting that if religious beliefs about social justice were isolated from the public square, many public hospitals, universities and other services would not exist.

“I don't think we want that,” he said.

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