Philadelphia, Pa., Feb 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia had found two local priests to be unsuitable for ministry following separate, substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor more than 40 years ago, the archdiocese has announced.
As a result of the archbishop’s determination, made public Feb. 23, neither priest will have any public ministry in the archdiocese.
The priests may appeal the decisions to the Holy See. However, if they choose not to, or if they appeal unsuccessfully, they may be laicized – or removed from the clerical state. They may also be instructed to live a life of prayer and penance.
Announcements of the archbishop’s decision have been made at the parishes where the priests last served before being placed on administrative leave when the allegations were introduced.
Fr. James J. Collins, age 75, was ordained a priest in 1964. Archbishop Chaput placed him on administrative leave in May 2013 after receiving allegations that he had sexually abused a minor more than four decades ago.
Fr. John P. Paul, age 67, was ordained a priest in 1972. He was placed on administrative leave in December 2013 following allegations that he had sexually abused a minor more than 40 years ago.
The two cases are not related to one another, the archdiocese clarified. Nor are they connected to the cases of priests placed on administrative leave after a February 2011 Grand Jury Report.
In both the case of Fr. Collons and that of Fr. Paul, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia followed its Policy for the Protection of Children and Young People, which was enacted in October 2012. Allegations against the priests were reported to the district attorney’s office for law enforcement to investigate for possible criminal charges.
Upon the district attorney’s declination of criminal charges, the Archdiocesan Office of Investigations conducted an investigation, turning over results to the Archdiocesan Professional Responsibility Review Board, an advisory committee of 12 men and women, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who have broad professional backgrounds in investigating and dealing with sexual abuse of minors.
The board examines allegations of both sexual abuse and boundary violations and offers recommendations about suitability for ministry to the archbishop, who is responsible for making the final decision involving those accused.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia reiterated its commitment to protecting minors, cooperating with law enforcement authorities, and offering support and assistance to victims of sexual abuse.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
When he was appointed archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Orani Tempesta – newly made a cardinal -- promised to visit each parish of the populous local Church, and he has been making good on this promise.
The cardinal archbishop has been making progress in visiting the 252 parishes of his archdiocese since he was appointed to Rio de Janeiro in 2009.
The Brazilian newspaper “Folha” writes that Cardinal Tempesta’s profile is similar to that of Pope Francis, and that their visions for the Church mirror each other.
Cardinal Tempesta was born in 1950, and entered the Cistercian monastery of Sao Bernardo in 1967. He was solemnly professed as a member of the Cistercian order in 1969, studied philosophy at Sao Bernardo, and theology at the Pius IX theological institute in Sao Paulo.
He was ordained a priest in 1974, and in 1984 became prior of his monastery. He also served as a parish priest and communications director for the St. John of Boa Vista diocese, and taught at the diocese’s Immaculate Heart of Mary seminary.
When Sao Bernardo priory was elevated to an abbey in 1996, Cardinal Tempesta was elected as its first abbot.
Cardinal Tempesta was consecrated bishop of the Rio Preto diocese in 1997; he also served as apostolic administrator of the Cistercian’s Territorial Abbey of Claraval from 1999 until it was merged into the Guaxupe diocese in 2002.
He was then transferred in 2004 to the Archdiocese of Belem do Para, a port city at the mouth of the Para River, part of the Amazon river system. While archbishop of Belem, he advocated on the Church’s behalf in the region’s environmental conflicts and attended the 2007 meeting of Latin American bishops at Aparecida.
In 2009, Cardinal Tempesta was appointed Archbishop of St. Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro, a see which has come with a cardinal’s hat since Archbishop Arcoverde de Albuquerque Cavalcanti was given the red biretta in 1905.
He is known for building consensus: “he seeks to demonstrate … that everyone has to recognize the complementarity of opinions,” Dom Paulo Demartini, abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Sao Jose of Rio Pardo told Rio de Janeiro’s Globo.
Cardinal Tempesta, 63, is known in Brazil as the “worker bishop,” since he has spent much of his time in the episcopate advocating for the poor, showing his proximity to this flock, and addressing issues of poverty.
On arriving in Rio de Janeiro, he promised to visit each of his parishes, and began immediately. No head of the archdiocese has yet been able to visit all his flock. Currently, there are some 3.7 million Catholics in the 252 parishes of Rio de Janeiro.
While remaining a Cistercian who often quotes St. Bernard of Clairvaux in his homilies, Cardinal Tempesta is also devoted to new and social media as means of spreading the Gospel.
He is known for his championing of pro-life issues, having debated with the Brazilian health minister in 2007 about abortion, and he has called on all Christians to live out their vocation as “missionary disciples.”
Cardinal Tempesta hosted the 2013 World Youth Day, where he urged pilgrims to spread the joy and peace of Christ to all peoples.
Cardinal Tempesta is one of 19 men who were added to the college of cardinals in the Feb. 22 consistory. Of the new cardinals, he is the only Brazilian, and one of four from Latin America.
Rome, Italy, Feb 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says he has witnessed a strong desire for the Catholic Church among people in the United States.
“There are so many opportunities where people are thirsting: young people who are preparing for Confirmation, young adults who are searching, people of every age,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “There’s a great thirst, I think, of people to come to understand and to belong to the Church of Christ.”
He said the New Evangelization is an opportunity for Catholics to minister to those thirsting for truth with the same zeal as Jesus’ first apostles.
The archbishop spoke with CNA Feb. 20 in Rome. It was his first visit to the Vatican since his election as president of the U.S. bishops’ conference last November.
During the interview, Archbishop Kurtz outlined three steps to the New Evangelization in the United States. First, he said, Christians must experience a personal conversion.
“Our Holy Father says every one of us is in need of conversion, beginning with ourselves,” the archbishop stressed. “We are all in need of the grace of Jesus Christ to receive the Gospel.”
The next step is developing greater confidence in the power of the Gospel, he said. Christians must believe “that the power of the grace of Jesus Christ far exceeds any weakness on our part.”
Finally, after renewing personal conviction in the power of Christ, Christians must develop creative ways of sharing the Gospel.
“That's an exciting thing,” Archbishop Kurtz explained. “There's an adventure to that, in being able to find new ways to touch the hearts of people.”
The Pope has succeeded in doing this, he said, pointing to the “Pope Francis effect” in the media and culture across the globe.
“People have been touched in their hearts because our Holy Father says, ‘Before I see a rule, I always first see the person’,” the archbishop reflected. “Within the context of listening and understanding and walking with people together, we discover anew what were the teachings of Jesus, what he presented to us.”
“It begins with mercy, as our Holy Father says, and with love…the law of Christ is meant to give us a path to happiness in eternity and, we also hope, to the building of the body of Christ here on earth.”
The archbishop reiterated that the New Evangelization does not mean changing Church teaching. Instead, it is “providing a fresh understanding” of Church teaching that is “pastorally solid.”
“Our Holy Father…is very clear that, of course, the teachings of the Church must be preserved and passed on,” he said. “However, we need to do this in a way that the Holy Father says is creative. We need to do it in a way that we look for new strategies that address the hearts of people.”
Archbishop Kurtz is slated to return to Rome in October for the Synod of Bishops, which will focus on a pastoral approach to family issues.
“It will be the work of this synod to be able to, on the one hand, maintain a strict clarity on the teachings of our Church, but also to find new ways to proclaim the Gospel,” he said.
Fort Worth, Texas, Feb 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis sent a video message to a gathering of U.S. Pentecostal leaders, voicing his “yearning” that separation between Catholics and other Christians may end.
“We have a lot of cultural riches and religious riches. And we have diverse traditions,” he said. “But we have to encounter one another as brothers.”
“Let’s give each other a spiritual embrace and let God complete the work that He has begun,” he said, adding that “the miracle of unity has begun.”
The Pope quoted a character from Alessandro Manzoni’s novel “The Betrothed,” who says “I’ve never seen God begin a miracle without Him finishing it well.”
“He will complete this miracle of unity,” the Pope emphasized.
Pope Francis’ message was delivered to a meeting of the Fort Worth, Texas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries by Pentecostal Bishop Tony Palmer, who had recorded it on an iPhone in a Jan. 14 meeting. Palmer knew the Pope from his time in Argentina when the pontiff was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The video was later uploaded to YouTube.
The Pope described Palmer as “my brother,” saying the two have been “friends for years.”
His message began in English but then switched to Italian, telling his audience he would speak “heartfully” about “the language of the heart.”
This language has “a simple grammar” with two rules: “Love God above all, and love the other, because he is your brother and sister.”
“I am speaking to you as a brother... with joy and yearning,” the Pope continued.
“It gives me joy that you have come together to worship Jesus Christ the only Lord and to pray to the Father and to receive the Spirit,” he said. “This brings me joy because we can see that God is working all over the world.”
“We are kind of… permit me to say, separated,” the Pope lamented.
“It’s sin that has separated us, all our sins, the misunderstandings throughout history. It has been a long road of sins that we all shared in. Who is to blame?”
“We all share the blame,” he said. “We have all sinned. There is only one blameless, the Lord.”
He voiced his yearning that this separation ends and that communion be restored.
“Let us allow our yearning to grow. Because this will propel us to find each other, to embrace one another. And together to worship Jesus Christ as the only Lord of History.”
At one point, the Pope referenced the Old Testament story of Joseph, saying Christians must “cry together” as Joseph did with his brothers.
“These tears will unite us. The tears of Love.”
He asked the Pentecostals for their prayers and promised to pray for them.
“I ask you to bless me, and I bless you. From brother to brother, I embrace you. Thank you”
At the end of Pope Francis’ message, Pentecostal minister Kenneth Copeland encouraged the audience to respond to the Pope’s words.
“Come on, the man asked us to pray for him,” he said with enthusiasm.
“Oh Father…we answer his request,” Copeland prayed. “And since we know not how to pray for him as we ought other than to agree with him in his quest and his heart for the unity of the body of Christ… we come together in the unity of our faith, Halleluiah!”
He said the congregation prayed for the Pope “in the Spirit” and received “words that are not our own.”
Copeland and the congregation then began to speak in tongues.
Before the video, Bishop Palmer spoke of his relationship with the Catholic Church and with Pope Francis. He said he considered Pope Francis one of his three “spiritual fathers.” The two studied together and met often.
He recounted that Pope Francis called him just after Christmas 2013 and invited him to Rome.
“I said to him, ‘Pope Francis, I can’t believe that you’re phoning me. I don’t know how to react to you,” Palmer told the congregation. “I said, ‘You’re the Pope of the Universal Church… 1.2 billion people. And I’m just an everyday clergyman doing his bit for the kingdom.”
However, the Pope assured him, “We are brothers. Nothing will change our friendship.”
The two met Jan. 14 and “made a covenant to work for unity for the Church.”
Though Palmer was eager to have Pope Francis make a video, he did not voice the suggestion. Rather, the Pope suggested it.
“This is history that we’ve got a Pope that recognizes us as brothers and sisters, speaks to us as brothers and sisters, and has sent us a message,” Palmer said.
The Pentecostal bishop also discussed the need for Christian unity.
“I’ve come to understand that diversity is divine. It is division that is diabolic,” he said, saying Christian unity is “the basis of our credibility.”
Bishop Palmer cited the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church, saying it “brought an end to the protest” of the Protestant Reformation.
He called on Protestant Evangelical leaders to sign the agreement, also reciting Jesus’ prayer that his disciples “may be one.”
Vatican City, Feb 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In his preface to a new book authored by Cardinal Mueller, Pope Francis stresses that money is itself a good tool when it broadens our opportunities, but it can also turn against the human person.
“Money is an instrument that in some ways … prolongs and increases the capacity of human freedom, allowing it to work in the world, to act, to bear fruit,” Pope Francis wrote in the preface to “Poor for the Poor: The Mission of the Church,” published in Italian by the Vatican Publishing House, and authored by Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In the book, Cardinal Mueller explains that “true liberation theology is opposed to Marxism as well as to the current economic liberalism,” and he reflects on the “conversion of life” that can lead human beings to recognize each other as brothers.
The book also recalls the personal friendship between the prefect and Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, the ‘father’ of the liberation theology, and includes writings by both Fr. Gutierrez and Joseph Sayer, who 25 years ago introduced Fr. Gutierrez and Cardinal Mueller.
In the preface, Pope Francis discussed the different forms of poverty, noting that “money and economic power” can “alienate man from man, confining him in an egocentric and egoistic horizon.”
“When economic power is an instrument that produces treasures kept for oneself, hidden from the other, it produces iniquity, and loses its original positive value,” he stressed.
He underscored his point by pointing to the Aramaic word “mammon,” used by Christ for a hidden treasure, and then referring to St. Paul’s use of “arpagmos.” It is a robbery when “goods are used by men who apply solidarity only for their inner circle or to receive solidarity,” but who never offer solidarity to others.
This is what happens when “man, having lost hope in a transcendent horizon, has lost a taste for gratuitousness, a taste for the good for its own sake.”
When man is reminded of his “fundamental solidary” with all mankind, the Pope wrote, “then he knows he cannot keep for himself the goods at his disposal.”
“When man lives habitually in solidarity, he is well aware that whatever he refuses to deliver, and keeps for himself, sooner or later will backfire on him.”
Noting a “unique bond between profit and solidarity,” the Pope said it is the task of Christians to “re-discover, live and announce to everyone the original and precious unity between profit and solidarity.”
He then went on to discuss other forms of poverty: first of all, our limited nature which is always in need of help from someone else – “we did not make ourselves and we cannot give ourselves everything we need.”
“The recognition of this truth invites us to remain humble and to practice with courage solidarity, with a strength indispensable to life itself.”
This experience of our poverty of limitation, he wrote, leads to a conversion toward the other and a “social practice in which the common good does not remain an empty and abstract word.”
“When man is understood this way and taught to live this way, his original, creaturely poverty is not felt anymore as handicap, but rather as a resource through which what enriches each person, and is freely given, is a good and a gift from which everyone can benefit.”
This, the Pope wrote, is “the positive light by which the Gospel invites us to see poverty,” being the basis of the beatitude of “the poor in spirit.”
South Bend, Ind., Feb 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A Chicago appellate court has upheld a previous ruling denying Notre Dame University legal protections while it moves forward in challenging the federal contraception mandate.
“We imagine that what the university wants is an order forbidding [insurer and plan administrator] Aetna and Meritain to provide any contraceptive coverage to Notre Dame staff or students pending final judgment in the district court,” wrote Judge Richard A. Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
However, he said in the Feb. 21 decision, “we can’t issue such an order” without the insurance companies also voicing objections to the mandate.
Judge Posner was joined by Judge David Hamilton in supporting a lower court's Jan. 1 decision to deny Notre Dame University temporary relief from having to comply with the Obama administration's federal contraception mandate.
The mandate requires employers to offer health insurance policies that cover contraceptives, sterilization, and some early abortion-causing products.
A wave of protest and scores of lawsuits followed the mandate’s announcement, and religious nonprofit organizations were subsequently granted an accommodation, under which they can sign a form indicating their objection to providing the products and prompting a third-party administrator to facilitate the coverage instead.
Notre Dame has argued that authorizing an outside administrator to provide the objectionable coverage still amounts to immoral cooperation on its part.
The university filed a lawsuit and asked for a temporary injunction to shield it from penalties and fines for violating the mandate while its case worked its way through the courts. After a lower court initially denied the injunction request, the school appealed, but agreed to sign the authorization form to avoid heavy penalties in the interim.
However, Judge Posner argued in the majority decision for the appeals court that Notre Dame is not directly responsible for providing the objectionable coverage and has not shown that its free exercise of religion is substantially burdened by signing the authorization form.
He said that he and Judge Hamilton “have trouble understanding how signing the form that declares Notre Dame’s authorized refusal to pay for contraceptives for its students or staff, and mailing the authorization document to those companies, which under federal law are obligated to pick up the tab, could be thought to 'trigger' the provision of female contraceptives.”
He suggested that the insurance companies “must provide the services no matter what; signing the form simply shifts the financial burden.”
For the coverage to be halted by a court order, he said, the school's insurance companies would also have to be “joined as defendants” in the case.
Judge Joel M. Flaum dissented from the majority opinion, pointing to 19 other cases in which religious nonprofits were given court-ordered protection from mandate compliance.
Flaum also addressed the court's ability to judge whether the university would be “complicit in a grave moral wrong” if it authorized the objectionable coverage.
The court, he observed, is composed of “judges, not moral philosophers or theologians; this is not a question of legal causation but of religious faith.”
“Notre Dame tells us that Catholic doctrine prohibits the action that the government requires it to take. So long as that belief is sincerely held, I believe we should defer to Notre Dame’s understanding.”
Notre Dame spokesman Paul Browne told the South Bend Tribune in a Feb. 21 interview that the government's action is troubling.
“Our concern remains that if government is allowed to entangle a religious institution of higher education like Notre Dame in one area contrary to conscience, it's given license to do so in others,” Browne said.
New York City, N.Y., Feb 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In an attempt to both anticipate and deflect “potentially negative publicity,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has written a defense of his time as an auxiliary bishop of the St. Louis archdiocese.
“You know how I always try to alert you to any potentially negative publicity about the Church, or about me. Well, there could be some,” the cardinal wrote in a Feb. 18 blog post.
He noted that the Archdiocese of St. Louis, where he was ordained a priest and served as auxiliary bishop from 2001 to 2002, has “just complied with a court order to release the documents regarding cases there of sexual abuse of minors.”
“I would anticipate that my name will again be highlighted in the press,” he wrote. “I sure have nothing to hide, and am very much at peace with law enforcements officials reviewing the files. In fact, we already released all the documentation to them a dozen years ago!”
Last July, Cardinal Dolan criticized the repetition of “old and discredited attacks,” including the claim that he paid abusive priests to apply for laicization while he was Archbishop of Milwaukee. These payments, the cardinal said, were part of his duty to provide basic support for priests until they leave the priesthood.
He has also repeatedly rejected claims that the transfer of $57 million in archdiocesan funds to a perpetual care fund for cemeteries was an effort to “hide” the funds and deny them to victims, saying the funds had been legally designated for the cemeteries.
In his blog post, Cardinal Dolan said he anticipates “a repeat of last year’s attempt by the same tort lawyers to muddy my name.”
“Nothing of course ever came of it [last year], although the ever-compliant press here gave me headlines about being deposed. (The headlines were much smaller when the Judge eventually ruled that I had acted properly.) However, knowing how their attorneys operate, and some reporters here cooperate with them, I would anticipate some attempt at bad publicity again.”
Vatican City, Feb 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In homily at Tuesday’s Mass, Pope Francis mourned the victims of the many small wars taking place in the world, stating that in the face of these tragedies, we should grow closer to God and strive for peace.
“'Where do the wars and conflicts among you come from? Maybe from your passions?' In the heart!” the Pope emphasized in his Feb. 25 Mass, echoing the words of St. James from the day's first reading.
Taking the apostle's message as a launching point, in which he condemns war as an act of man's passions and urges his audience to purify and humble themselves before God, the Pope also recalled the disciples in the Gospel, who were debating among themselves who is the greatest.
“War is born when hearts turn away,” the Roman Pontiff expressed to those present in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, drawing attention to the daily stories in the newspaper that report on various divisions, deaths, and victims of violence.
“The dead seem to be part of a daily tally. We are used to reading these things,” he noted, highlighting that “if we had the patience to list all of the wars in the world at this moment, surely we could write several papers.”
Noting how “the spirit of war” seems to have “taken hold of us,” the Pope expressed that although many are making “acts to commemorate” the 100th anniversary of the First World War, “today it is the same.”
“Rather than a great war,” there are “small wars everywhere, people divided … and to conserve their own interests they kill, they kill each other.”
Calling to mind the “shock” of many who learned the story of Cain and Abel as children in Sunday school, the Bishop of Rome stated that although at first it is difficult to accept that someone would kill his own brother, today “many millions are killed between brothers … but we're used to” it.
“Wars, hatred,” and “enmity cannot be bought at the market: they are here in the heart,” he repeated, recalling how many in World War I died for “a piece of land, for an ambition, for a hate,” or “for a racial jealousy.”
Observing that it is passion which “leads us to war,” Pope Francis highlighted that “habitually in front of a conflict, we find ourselves in a curious situation: going forward to resolve it, arguing -- in the language of war.”
“The language of peace does not come first!” lamented the Roman Pontiff, explaining that the consequences are most often “the children affected in refugee camps,” and emphasizing that “this is the fruit of war.”
Encouraging those present to “think of the large living rooms, of the parties that are made by those who own the arms industries, that manufacture weapons,” the Pope explained that “the child got sick, hungry, in the refugee camp,” while those who manufacture the weapons enjoy “great parties” and “the good life.”
“What happens in our hearts?” he asked, stating that St. James' advice to “draw near to God and he will draw near to you,” is the only solution because “this spirit of war, which leads us away from God, is not only far from us,” but is “even at home.”
“How many families are destroyed because the father, the mother, are not capable of finding the way of peace and prefer war, suing … war destroys!”
Asking those present to pray for “this peace that only seems to have become a word, nothing more,” the Bishop of Rome highlighted that this word has the capacity to act, following the council of St. James: 'Recognize your misery!'”
Observing that this misery comes from “the wars in families, the wars in the neighborhood, wars everywhere,” Pope Francis emphasized that “this is what we must do today” as a “Christian in front of so many wars, everywhere … cry, mourn, humble oneself.”
Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis asked that “the Lord make us understand this, and save us from getting used to the news of war.”
Kyiv, Ukraine, Feb 25, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In the wake of political changes unfolding after months of violent conflict, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has praised those who have given aid to the country, and warned that the danger of civil war is not yet over.
“I would like to ask Europeans to wake up because what is happening in Ukraine, sooner or later, will touch all of you. Because Ukraine is part of Europe,” Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halyc expressed during a Feb. 25 news conference.
Archbishop Shevchuk is the head of the Catholic Church in the Ukraine, and spoke with journalists at a news conference in Rome following the major political shifts which have taken place over the last week.
Denouncing the fact that the requests of the Maidan protestors went ignored until the violent bloodbath which took place in the capital Kyiv last week, leaving more than 70 people dead and thousands injured, the archbishop also stated that Ukraine is living in a time of hop, because Kyiv “has become a yeast that has caused the whole Ukrainian population to ferment,” Vatican Radio reports.
However, Archbishop Shevchuk also cautioned that Ukraine is currently going through dark times, because it is unclear how the future of the recent events will unfold.
Recounting in detail the series of events which was sparked after Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign a pact with the European Union Nov. 29, the archbishop stated that “if people continue to pretend that nothing is happening, not only will things worsen in Eastern Europe, but this will cause great lack of faith in European values in the Western nations.”
“I would also like to ask for a review of the relations with Ukraine,” he stated, drawing attention to the difficulties that Ukrainian students face regarding visas when they want to study in other European countries.
“We want to build Europe in Ukraine, and only the students can do that” the archbishop observed, noting that “Europe does not have to defend itself from Ukrainian youth.”
Archbishop Shevchuk then appealed for solidarity and aid for those who have been wounded during the Maidan uprising, drawing attention to the many countries who have already offered to welcome the injured, including Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, and Slovakia, and called on Italy to do the same.
Offering his gratitude to Germany, Poland, and France for sending foreign ministers into the conflict in order to help negotiate peace during the most tense moment of the conflict, he also warned that “this kind of solidarity must continue because the danger that one of our neighbors will provoke a civil war has not blown over.”
The archbishop's comments come in wake of a great political unrest in the Ukraine, which began in November when the government announced it would not sign a major economic partnership agreement with the European Union, in favor of a $15 billion bailout agreement with Russia.
Since then, tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets of Kyiv, at times occupying government buildings.
Protests have continued through February, until more than 70 persons were killed – some of them by snipers – during protests at Maidan in Kyiv last week.
On Feb. 21, Yanukovych fled Kyiv, and the next day the Ukrainian parliament voted to remove him from power.
Appointed by parliament Feb. 23, Oleksander Turchyov is currently acting president of the country, and has already announced his desire to strengthen ties with the European Union. He is expected to form a unity government Thursday, and elections have been scheduled for May 25.
Ukraine’s acting president has also warned against the dangers of separatism, a risk from the majority-Russian areas of eastern Ukraine, including Crimea.
Rome, Italy, Feb 25, 2014 (CNA) -
At his recent book presentation, a Vatican cardinal explained that although Marxist ideology had sought to influence Liberation Theology, the two have ultimately been shown incompatible.
Cardinal Gehrard Ludwig Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, authored the book “Poor for poor. The mission of the Church,” a collection of his writings on Liberation Theology.
The book was presented Feb. 25 and contains an introduction by Pope Francis and chapters written by Fr. Joseph Sayer and Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, a controversial Peruvian theologian who is considered one of the fathers of Liberation Theology.
Cardinal Mueller is freinds with Fr. Gutierrez and has visited Peru several times.
He recounted how Fr. Gutierrez brought him to visit the slums in Lima, where he could experience the poverty and the joy of the poor, and could learn that “being poor in spirit means to be true disciples of Jesus Christ.”
After the book presentation, Cardinal Mueller shared with CNA that Liberation Theology began as an application of the Second Vatican Council’s document “Gaudium et Spes” to the situation in Latin America.
But, he added, “when a new theology is developing, there are issues to clarify.”
The need for a clarification led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to issue two instructions. The first, “Libertatis Nuntius,” issued in 1984, condemned the Liberation Theology Marxist orientation, while the second, “Libertatis Conscientia,” issued in 1986, ackowledged the Liberation Theology preferential option for the poor.
“In this part of the story, the ideology of Soviet Communism put great pressure on Liberation Theology,” Cardinal Mueller said.
He then added that “the Church speaks about poor in a very different way than the Communists do. Christians do not dream of an earthly Paradise, and the Communists always blamed us that the Church only deals with Heaven.”
However, the cardinal stressed, the Church cannot deal “only with earthly things. Man lives in this world, in a world created by God, but he also has a divine and eternal universal vocation.”
“The Church’s task today is coexisting in modern society, but at the same time underscoring that man’s ultimate aim is the Triune God, the God made man, the God of love.”
“If we forget the ultimate aim, we cannot argue anything in favor of human dignity, because we can speak of equality among men only if we refer to God,” Cardinal Mueller stressed.
This is exactly the reason, he continued, why Benedict XVI chose as the theme of the 2007 Aparecida conference “Disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ” and also wanted the other phrase of the title – “That all may have life” – to end by specifying: “in Him.”
The Aparecida document and its focus on evangelization guides the narrative of the book by the cardinal, who minimized the split between Liberation Theology and orthodoxy, saying that “more than a purification, there had been a clarification.”
“We have had a dialogue, a serious discussion, because each topic can be approached by a different perspective, but each of us is rooted in the Doctrine of the Faith. Theology is really needed for the actualization of the Doctrine of the Church, but the Doctrine of the Church always remains the same, since the Doctrine of the Church is the Profession of Faith revealed from the Word of God.”
Traces of this kind of discussion between Cardinal Mueller and Fr. Gutierrez over the course of the years can be seen in the book.
Cardinal Mueller recounted to CNA that he and Fr. Gutierrez have had significant discussions on “some, let’s say problematic, issues of the Liberation Theology,” which is always “divided in three stages: watching, judging and carrying out.”
At the first stage, the cardinal explained, “sociology, psychology and philosophy” can be put “in dialogue with the present world,” in order to be able to interpret it.
Cardinal Mueller recounted that he had “perhaps a little influence” in deepening Gutierrez’s dialogue with Medieval, Latin and Greek philosophy, rather than merely with modern philosophy.
Speaking informally with journalists, Fr. Gutierrez also underscored that his discussions with Cardinal Mueller have been very important for him.
Called on the stage for a short speech during the presentation of the book, Fr. Gutierrez, departing from the original ideas from his book “A Theology of Liberation,” stressed that “the idea of service comes directly from the Second Vatican Council.” Christians, he said, are called “to serve and to search for the image of Christ in every man and go toward the ends of the earth and peripheries, as Pope Francis invites us to do.”