Archive of January 24, 2014

Opus Dei bishop's beatification set for Madrid

Vatican City, Jan 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, the second leader of Opus Dei, will be beatified in his birthplace of Madrid on Sept. 27, the Vatican has announced.

The current Prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarría, said the Vatican’s Jan. 21 announcement of the beatification ceremony was a “moment of profound joy.” He said Bishop del Portillo “loved and served the Church so much.”

Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will preside over the beatification ceremony, which could draw thousands of faithful from around the world. Related events will also be held in Rome.

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, known as “Don Alvaro,” was born in Madrid on March 11, 1914, the third of eight children. As a student, he was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. He taught catechism to children in poor neighborhoods and distributed donations and food to families in need, Opus Dei said on its website.

He studied to be an engineer and received doctorates in philosophy, liberal arts and canon law.

He joined Opus Dei in 1935 and soon became a close collaborator of St. Josemaria Escriva, who founded the organization dedicated to spiritual growth and discipleship among the Catholic laity. The organization teaches its members to use their work and their ordinary activities as a way to encounter God.

Bishop del Portillo was ordained to the priesthood in 1944. He helped Opus Dei expand in 20 countries, including Italy. He was an active participant at the Second Vatican Council and was a consultor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was elected to succeed St. Josemaria Escriva as the head of Opus Dei in 1975, after the founder’s death.

When Pope John Paul II made Opus Dei a personal prelature in 1982, he named Bishop del Portillo as head of the unique church structure.

Consecrated a bishop in December 1990, the future blessed died in Rome in 1994. His remains are presently in the crypt of the Opus Dei church Saint Mary of Peace in Rome. Civil authorities are considering whether to transfer his remains to Rome’s Basilica of Sant'Eugenio.

In July 2013, Pope Francis recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Bishop del Portillo. It involved the August 2003 healing of a Chilean newborn boy who suffered a 30-minute period of cardiac arrest and a major hemorrhage.

Although the newborn’s medical team thought he had already died, his parents prayed for healing through the bishop’s intercession. The baby’s heart began to beat again and he went on to live a normal life.

Monsignor Flavio Capucci, the postulator in charge of Bishop del Portillo’s cause for canonization, told Opus Dei in June 2012 that he had received almost 12,000 signed reports from Catholics who believe they have received favors through the bishop’s intercession.

The recognition of a second miracle is typically necessary for a blessed to become a saint.

Beatification events will include visits to Madrid’s Almuenda Cathedral and other places related to the bishop’s life and the beginnings of  Opus Dei.

Opus Dei said the development charity Harambee Africa International will hold activities during the beatification in both Rome and Madrid to help finance its medical and educational projects in sub-Saharan Africa. Bishop del Portillo encouraged these activities during his time as head of Opus Dei.

Bishop Echevarria will celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving the day after the beatification.

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Church in New Mexico criticizes assisted suicide ruling

Albuquerque, N.M., Jan 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A New Mexico judge was wrong to rule that there is a “right” to doctor-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, a spokesman for the New Mexico Catholic bishops has said.

“What people have a right to is a right to good medicine and to a good doctor who helps them. We would never concede that there’s a right to take somebody’s life,” Allen Sanchez, executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CNA Jan. 22.

He said a doctor is empowered by the state “to prescribe medicine” and not “to take life.”

Following a two-day trial, New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Nan Nash ruled on Jan. 13 that mentally competent patients who are terminally ill have the right to a doctor who will end their lives, CNN reports.

Nash lamented that the court “cannot envision a right more fundamental, more private or more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican” than the right of a mentally competent person to choose “aid in dying.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and Compassion & Choices, the organization once known as the Hemlock Society, had filed a lawsuit on behalf of two doctors and a 50-year-old cancer patient named Aja Riggs. She was seeking to legalize requests for lethal treatment.

The woman's cancer is now in remission, but she said it is likely to return.

Sanchez was critical of the judge’s decision.

“We are concerned about helping people dealing with pain and being merciful, but we are also concerned about protecting life,” he said.

He noted that the state legislature in 2009 abolished the death penalty on the grounds that errors in judgment could mean that an innocent person was wrongly condemned to die.

“That same argument applies here,” he said, noting that there can be errors in assessing whether a disease is terminal or whether a patient is mentally competent.

He added that the law permits relatives to serve as witnesses to a patient’s request for assisted suicide. This can create conflicts of interest in cases where relatives have an interest in seeing the terminally ill patient die.

Sanchez also said that there are religious reasons for opposing legalizing this form of suicide.

“One day that we take from a person’s life might be the day that they reconcile themselves with God, and none of us want to take that from anyone,” he said.

The states of Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont allow doctor-assisted suicide. In addition, the practice is legal is the Netherlands, Belgium, and Switzerland. Each of these countries has seen a steady increase in assisted suicide cases in the years following its legalization.

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Pope Francis: swallow 'toads' of pride in order to dialogue

Vatican City, Jan 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his daily homily, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of being humble in order to dialogue with others, and emphasized that we should not build “walls” that can foster resentment with others.

“Humility, meekness, becoming all things to everyone and also – but this is not written in the Bible – all of us know that to do these things you have to swallow so many toads. But, we must do it,” the Pope explained in his Jan. 24 daily Mass.

Pope Francis centered his homily, addressed to those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, on the day’s first reading, which was a continuation of yesterday’s conflict between David and King Saul taken from the Frist Letter to Samuel.

The Pope began by referring to a certain kind of wisdom that encourages one to break but not bend, explaining that the Christian wisdom is one that bends rather than breaks.

In this context, the pontiff explained that there are two different ways of looking at life, the first being to look with hardness, in which it is easy to build walls due to a lack of communication between peoples, and which can lead to hatred.

A second attitude, noted the Pope, is to build “bridges” of understanding, even after a fight, however the pontiff also emphasized that to do this requires the practice of “humility.”

Drawing attention to the fact that the day’s liturgy focuses on the clash between David and Saul, the Pope recalled how when David had the opportunity to kill the king, he chose “another way: the way of approaching, of clarifying the situation, of explaining himself. The path of dialogue to make peace.”

“In order to dialogue, meekness is needed, without yelling,” the pontiff observed, adding that “it’s necessary also to think that the other person has something more than me.”

“David,” he recalled, also thought like this, saying “He is the Lord's anointed, and more important than me,” adding that this attitude displays “humility” and “meekness.”

“To dialogue, it is necessary to do what we asked for in prayer today, at the beginning of the Mass: become all things to all people,” the Pope reflected, encouraging those present “to swallow so many toads” of pride which can be obstacles.

“But, we must do it, because peace is made like this: with humility, humiliation, searching always to see in the other the image of God.”

Admitting to the fact that “dialogue is difficult,” Pope Francis expressed that as Christians, we can look to David as a model, because he “overcame hatred with humility.”

“To humble ourselves, and make bridges, always. Always. And this is what it means to be Christian,” continued the pontiff, adding that “It is not easy. It is not easy,” but “Jesus did it: he humbled himself until the end, he has shown us the way.”

Also, it is necessary that “not too much time passes,” he noted, explaining that “when there is a problem, as soon as possible, in the moment that you can do it, after the storm passes, make an approach to dialogue, because time increases the wall, like how the weeds grow that prevent the growth of the wheat.”

“And when the walls grow it is so difficult to reconcile: it is so difficult!”

It is not a problem if “a few times plates fly…in families, in communities, in neighborhoods,” the Pope went on to say, explaining that what is important is to “look for peace as soon as possible,” with either a word or a gesture.

The pontiff re-emphasized the need to build bridges rather than walls, like the one that divided Berlin for many years, because “even in our heart there is the chance to become the Berlin Wall with others.”

“I am afraid of these walls, of these walls that grow every day and foster resentment. And hate,” expressed the Pope.

“We think in this young David: he could have taken revenge perfectly, could have sent the king away and he chose the way of dialogue, with humility, meekness, sweetness.”

Today on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the “Doctor of sweetness,” he said, we can ask the Saint “to give us all the grace to make bridges with the others, never walls.”

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New auxiliary bishop named for Sacramento

Vatican City, Jan 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican has announced that Msgr. Myron Joseph Cotta of Fresno has been assigned as the new auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Sacramento, Calif.

“I am humbled by the faith the Holy Father and the papal nuncio have placed in me,” said Bishop-designate Cotta in a Jan. 24 press release announcing his appointment.

“As I prepare to leave the Diocese of Fresno, I thank God for the call to the episcopacy and for the many blessings I have experienced over 26 years of ordained priesthood among God’s people.”

The Bishop-designate currently serves as Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Fresno, a position he has held for the past 15 years. In addition, he served as diocesan administrator of Fresno following the death of Bishop John Steinbock in December 2010, and prior to the appointment of Bishop Armando Ochoa.

Born on March 21, 1953, Bishop-designate Cotta grew up on a dairy farm in the Merced County community of Dos Palos. His grandparents were Portuguese immigrants from the Azores Island of Terceira.

He attended both public and Catholic elementary schools, and received an associate degree from West Hills Community College in Coalinga.

The bishop-designate attended the seminary of St. John’s in Camarillo, Calif., was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 12, 1987, holding a bachelor’s degree and a Master’s of Divinity degree.

His previous pastoral assignments include serving as parochial vicar of St. Anthony Parish in Atwater (1987-1989); administrator of Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Laton (1989-1992); and pastor of Our Lady of Miracles Parish in Gustine (1992-1999).

Bishop-designate Cotta speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish. In addition to his duties as Auxiliary Bishop, he will also serve as Vicar General for the Diocese of Sacramento.

In the press release announcing the appointment, Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto stated that “I am grateful to His Holiness for giving me a faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus as an able co-worker in this favored part of his vineyard.”

“Bishop-designate Cotta is a son of the Central Valley. He knows our people, he knows our land and mountains, but, most of all, he knows the Lord Jesus and is eager to share the Lord’s wisdom and charity with others.”

The episcopal ordination for Bishop-designate Cotta will take place Tuesday, March 25, in the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in downtown Sacramento, on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord.

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New Harrisburg, Pa. bishop 'stunned' by appointment

Vatican City, Jan 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican announced that Bishop Ronald Gainer will be leaving his post in Lexington, Ky. to take the helm in the diocese of Harrisburg, Pa. – a transfer which is both a surprise and a joy.

“While I was completely surprised and, quite frankly, stunned by the news of my transfer, I willingly and happily accept our Supreme Pastor’s decision as God’s will for us and for me,” Bishop Gainer stated in a Jan. 24 press release announcing the transfer.

Bishop Ronald William Gainer, 66, will succeed Bishop Joseph P. McFadden as the eleventh Bishop of the Harrisburg, Pa. diocese, who died last year on May 2, 2013.

“In the coming weeks there will be opportunities for me to express my sincere gratitude to all the faithful of the diocese and to say our good-byes,” he said, but “for now I humbly ask for a remembrance in your daily prayers and at Mass, as together we face the challenges of this transition.”

Asking for special prayers on behalf of all of the faithful in the Harrisburg diocese, the bishop assured them that I will continue to pray for the faithful of the Lexington Diocese.”

Bishop Gainer was born on Aug. 24, 1947 in Pottsville, Pa., and was ordained to the priesthood on May 19, 1973 for the diocese of Allentown. He was consecrated and installed as the Bishop of Lexington, Ky. on Feb. 22, 2003.

The bishop completed his studies at the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1973, having earned a Master of Divinity degree summa cum laude, as well as a licentiate in Canon Law and a diploma in Latin Letter from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1986.

For the majority of his priesthood, Bishop Gainer has served in parish, campus ministry, marriages and family, and tribunal positions, and was Secretary of Catholic Life and Evangelization for the Diocese of Allentown.

On a national level, the bishop is a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Administrative Committee, as well as a member of the Committee on Priorities and Planning.

He has served as Chair of the Region V of the USCCB, and has also worked on the Committee on Catholic Education, the Committee for Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, as well as a regional representative to the USCCB Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The bishop was also a liaison with the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, and is a part of the Sacred Heart School of Theology Board of Directors.

The Diocese of Harrisburg is complies of 15 counties in Central Pa., including: Adams, Columbia, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York, and has an estimated 249,238 registered Catholics.

The Mass for Bishop Gainer’s installation will take place in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in Harrisburg on Tuesday, March 19, the Feast of Saint Joseph.

As of the public announcement of the transfer earlier this morning, Bishop Gainer has officially become the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Lexington.

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Mexican bishops call for solution amid Michoacan violence

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Mexican bishops called on government leaders to find a comprehensive solution to the violence that is afflicting the country, especially in the drug-laden state of Michoacan.

In a statement issued Jan. 21 by the executive committee of the Mexican Bishops' Conference, the prelates urged authorities to bring to an end “the violence that is afflicting so many persons and families, so that citizens can live in peace, which is their right.”

They also recognized “the great and courageous efforts” of bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful to contribute to bringing about peace.

Quoting a recent pastoral letter by Bishop Miguel Patino Velazquez of Apatzingan in the state of Michoacan, the bishops said that the people “expect more effective action from the State against those who are provoking this chaos.”

They called on “politicians, the government and the Secretary of the Interior” to “give to the people of our region clear signs that they truly want to stop the killing machine.”

“For our part,” the bishops continued, “we reiterate the Catholic Church's commitment and willingness to continue collaborating with pastoral care for the victims of violence and in the rebuilding of the social fabric by supporting a culture of respect for the rule of law and for peace.”

Confrontations between citizen militia groups and the Knights Templar drug cartel have continued in Michoacan despite the deployment of 4,800 federal police and 4,500 soldiers in the region.

Located on the Pacific coast of Mexico, Michoacan is used by drug traffickers to produce synthetic drugs and to grow marijuana and opium. From there, the drugs are exported to other countries.

According to the newspaper Cambio, officials from the Mexican Justice Department stated that “the Templars have dominated the production of methamphetamines in the country since 2009 because they own that territory. They forged alliances with other groups in order to distribute their produce at the international level as well.”

Citizen militia groups have been fighting back against the cartels since 2013 to drive them out of the areas where they have become entrenched.

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New Supreme Court injunction benefits Little Sisters

Washington D.C., Jan 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court will protect the Little Sisters of the Poor from the demands of the contraception mandate while the group’s case works its way through the court system.

Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is helping represent the Little Sisters in court, said Jan. 24 that he was “delighted” by the order.

“The government has lots of ways to deliver contraceptives to people,” he said. “It doesn’t need to force nuns to participate.”

The Jan. 24 order was issued by the entire Supreme Court. It said that if the Little Sisters of the Poor tell Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in writing that they are among “non-profit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services,” then the department is prohibited from enforcing the mandate while it is being challenged in court.

The Little Sisters of the Poor have provided physical and spiritual care for the poor elderly and dying in communities throughout the U.S. for 175 years.

They recently filed a lawsuit challenging the federal contraception mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that may cause early abortions.

Amid religious freedom concerns, the Obama administration revised the initial mandate, allowing religious employers such as the Little Sisters to sign a form that would trigger a separate health benefit provider to offer the coverage.

The Little Sisters have objected that they cannot in good conscience sign the form because it authorizes an outside party to provide the very products and procedures they believe to be gravely immoral.

The Jan. 24 injunction will protect the Little Sisters from the mandate – or the fines they could incur from failing to comply with it – until a final judgment on the case is given by a court.

In addition, the injunction protects more than 400 other Catholic organizations working with the sisters' religious health benefit providers, Christian Brothers Services, which is also a plaintiff in the case.

Injunctions have been awarded in 18 of 19 similar cases, the Becket Fund said.

“Virtually every other party who asked for protection from the mandate has been given it,” Rienzi said. “It made no sense for the Little Sisters to be singled out for fines and punishment before they could even finish their suit.”

The Supreme Court’s order said that the order should not be construed as “an expression of the court’s views on the merits.” The case will be heard and receive a final ruling in the federal court system.

The full court's order follows Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Dec. 31 action granting an emergency stay to temporarily block the enforcement of the mandate against the Little Sisters so that the Supreme Court could consider the group's emergency injunction appeal.

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