Pro Pontiff, Pro-Magisterial, Pro-life, Pro-family. These articles reflect these values and I believe should be Interesting to Catholics. If there are any article I have missed, or you feel should not be here, or you agree/disagree with, then please feel free to post a comment.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Vatican City, Feb. 28, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican announced today that Pope Benedict XVI, along with members of the Roman Curia will begin their annual Lenten spiritual exercises this Sunday, led by Cardinal Marco Ce, patriarch emeritus of Venice, Italy.
This year, the Pope and Roman Curia will reflect on the theme, "Walking with Jesus towards Easter." The exercises will be held in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel, which is housed in the Apostolic Palace.
The Vatican likewise announced that the retreat will begin with Eucharistic exposition, evening Vespers and an introductory meditation, followed by adoration and a Eucharistic blessing.
During the days following, the Pope and Curia will participate in a daily schedule of Lauds and meditation at 9 a.m., Terce and meditation at 10.15 a.m., another set of meditations at 5 p.m., concluding with Vespers, adoration and a Eucharistic blessing at 5.45 p.m.
The spiritual exercises will end on the morning of Saturday, March 11, with the celebration of Lauds and a closing meditation.
The Vatican also noted that during the course of the retreat, all audiences will be cancelled, including the Pope’s weekly general audience on Wednesday, March 8th.
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It began in Michigan, and it swept across the nation like a mask of death — a plague that would soon engulf America — that far too many Americans began to legitimize and even to become unyielding advocates for this culture of death. It was Dr. Jack Korvorkian and his infamous Dr. Death moniker that has come to symbolize the devaluation of human life. Unfortunately, innocent people who could not speak for themselves, like Terri Schiavo, were swept up in its wake.
Bob Schindler, father of Terri Schiavo, joined me February 16th on The Kevin Fobbs Show on News Talk 1400 WDTK to announce the national launch of an initiative to annually honor the memory of Terri Schiavo, as well as celebrate the "Culture of Life," by gathering pledges from every state in the nation to respect the Culture of Life. We joined arms to support March 31 as Terri's Day in every station in the nation.
Why do we need a celebration of the Culture of Life or a national day of remembrance? Our nation needs it because we have wandered too far from our historic Judeo Christian roots. Therefore, we are seeking at least 1 million pledge signers from all 50 states — as well as from international supporters — who would certainly agree.
In many ways this effort was born ten years earlier out of the comments delivered by Pope John Paul II on April 22, 1996. The topic of the speech was "Reaffirm The Culture Of Life." He addressed the international audience attending his speech in Rome by stating, "The rejection of life, confirmed and ratified by legal abortion as a culture of death, is gaining ground in today's society with the intention of legalizing euthanasia also."
Some may feel the pope's comments were too political. Others may feel that the nation should not have to be bound by comments delivered by a religious leader half a world away. After all, what real-life relevance could his words have on today's complicated societal mores?
America did move on. Countless Americans ignored those telling words, and our nation was left with indecision, complacency, traditional values rejected and a growing clash between two cultures — one for life and the other for death — and one innocent victim, Terri Schiavo, a devout Catholic who would soon become victim to Pope John Paul II's predictions.
But America should not just move on. The Culture of Life must be welcomed and desired "as being the fundamental and primary value for every individual, must be reaffirmed, assimilated and recovered today from a culture which otherwise risks closing in on itself, or reducing life to a consumer product for an affluent society," added Pope John Paul II.
On May 12, 2006, we will hold an official ceremony that is so crucial for our nation. We want to recover our values for the essence of the Culture of Life. May 12th — just two days before Mother's Day — will be a day for reaffirming our values and those who believe in the sanctity of life. It is about building awareness, engaging in reflection, and identifying and supporting those families who have disabled, severely handicapped, or brain injured family members, which may number in the tens of thousands across America. A good number of these families need the support that the Terri Schiavo Schindler Foundation seeks to provide.
The Foundation's president, Bob Schindler, is a warm, reflective man. On my show, he shared his fond memories of Terri as a proud father would. Bob described the young pre-teen Terri who was his daughter and the favorite things she loved to do. She was a kind, gentle young girl who loved animals and whose innocence and faith touched the hearts and spirits of millions of Americans. The moments of her life, which may have seemed countless at her birth, ended abruptly.
As Americans, we have an opportunity to demonstrate our caring and compassion and perhaps devote some of our moments of time to pledge to honor Terri's memory, as well as honor what former Pope John Paul II called the "Culture of Life," by supporting six simple things. All of the necessary documents can be downloaded from The Kevin Fobbs Show site at (www.kevinfobbs.com) and soon at (www.terrisfight.org)
The first is quite simple: take a few minutes for yourself. Your loved ones deserve clarity about what your true intentions might be. So pledge to help yourself and fill out a 'Living Will,' or as the Schindlers would like to say, "A Will To Live." (http://www.terrisfight.org).
But don't stop there. If you believe in creating an official "Terri's Day," then pass on the Resolution of Support to your state legislature and governor. It's simple. While you're at it, ask your own organization — civic, faith or even your place of worship — to take a stand for the Culture of Life.
Families can spend time during the week of March 31st, as well as during the week of May 12th, in creating wonderful life-fulfilling as well as memorable events that embrace some aspect of the "Culture of Life."
There will be no better time than this seminal moment in our nation's history to reverse the dangerous course that would value the life of a guilty sentenced murderer over the life of an innocent.
This is a celebratory moment that should leave an indelible mark upon our nation's conscience. Just as we remember where we were on such fateful days as the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941; the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963; and the terrorist attack on America on September 11, 2001 — the nation needs a date that we can commemorate as well, and that is March 31st, the anniversary of Terri's passing.
Why now? We need it now, because too often the fight for preservation of life is typically played out in the nation's headlines only in order to preserve the life of murderers and perpetrators of the most heinous crimes against humanity. These are the ones whom receive the hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions of signatures gathered by Hollywood Celebs.
Americans get involved in those causes because some entertainers — these Hollywood liberal icons — hold concerts or host mammoth fundraisers all to preserve a death row inmate his 14th Amendment Due Process protection, because after all it's hip, it's chic, and it's hot to support death.
It has become too easy to be an advocate for the guilty. It is far more difficult mentally to deal with the haunting images of the innocent victims. The cry for justice that Terri Schiavo's family has asked for all these years has been ignored, because it has not fit into a neat, dramatic, Hollywood-like ideological package.
You see, in order for a Hollywood-type like Susan Sarandon or Sean Penn to get involved in a cause, there has to be some real drama. You remember the film they were in several years ago, "Dead Man Walking." Hollywood called it a good film that was full of passion and drama. There sat this human killing machine on Death Row, and yet somehow it evoked the passion-filled emotions of the left to call upon the sainted liberal angels of America to save others like him from the hangman's noose, from "ole Sparky's" electric chair accommodation or even death by firing squad.
Why? Because preserving the life of the guilty has become more chic than preserving the life of an innocent. Our nation has believed the lie — it has embraced the Culture of Death. We have to be, instead, the heroes for those who are innocent and who are defenseless.
I'm sure Pope John Paul II would agree. "What is called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life. All together, we must build a new Culture of Life," advocated Paul John Paul II.
Terri would be honored, and I'm sure proud that the words former Pope John Paul II spoke ten years ago will have shown we are indeed on the road to becoming a life-renewed and affirming, blessed nation.
- Kevin Fobbs is President of National Urban Policy Action Council (NuPac), a non-partisan civic and citizen-action organization that focuses on taking the politics out of policy to secure urban America's future one neighborhood, one city, and one person at a time. View NuPac on the web at www.nupac.info. Kevin Fobbs is a regular contributing columnist for the Detroit News. He is also the daily host of The Kevin Fobbs Show on News Talk WDTK - 1400 AM in Detroit. Listen to The Kevin Fobbs Show online at www.wdtkam.com daily 2-3 p.m., and call in toll-free nationwide to make your opinion count at 800-923-WDTK(9385)
© Copyright 2006 by Kevin Fobbs
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Nashville, Feb. 28, 2006 (CNA) - The Diocese of Nashville welcomed their new pastoral leader Feb. 27 with the Episcopal ordination of Bishop David Choby.
The ordination, held at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, was attended by hundreds of faithful and well-wishers who gathered to see one of their native sons elevated to the episcopate. He is only the second priest of the Diocese of Nashville to be named bishop; the others have all come from outside the diocese.
The much-loved pastor had served for 17 years at St. John Vianney Parish in Gallatin, Tenn.
Archbishop Thomas Kelly of Louisville was the main celebrant. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the recently named apostolic nuncio in the United States, also attended as the Pope’s representative. About 30 bishops participated.
Pope Benedict appointed the 58-year-old Nashville native Dec. 20 to succeed Bishop Edward Kmiec, who was assigned the new pastoral charge of Buffalo, N.Y.
Prior to his ordination, hundreds of his parishioners at St. John Vianney held a farewell party for him at the local Catholic elementary school, which was built during his time at the parish.
The people applauded when he entered in his Episcopal garb and waited patiently for their turn to greet him and shake his hand. Parishioners, both young and old, left notes for their pastor, expressing their love for him and wishing him well. One young girl said she thought he would make “a great pope some day.”
Bishop Choby was ordained a priest in 1974 and holds a canon law degree. He served in several parishes and the diocesan tribunal. He was on the faculty of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, (1984-89) and currently serves on the seminary’s board.
The Diocese of Nashville has 75,000 Catholics in 51 parishes and three missions
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ROME - Hong Kong's newly appointed cardinal said Tuesday that China's communist government needs to overcome "old prejudices" toward the Roman Catholic Church for the Vatican to make a breakthrough in forging relations with Beijing.
Bishop Joseph Zen said he was hopeful about the prospect, insisting that there was "no harsh reaction" from China to his appointment, even though the country warned in an official statement that he should avoid addressing politics. Zen, seen as an outspoken supporter of religious freedom, said he will continue speaking out on social issues.
"If the pope can do it for the whole world, I can do it for Hong Kong," he said in an interview with The Associated Press during a brief visit to Rome.
China cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the Chinese Communist Party took power. Worship is allowed only in government-controlled churches, although millions of Chinese Catholics belong to the so-called "underground church" loyal to Rome.
Problems of religious freedom "arise from old prejudices," the bishop said, calling it "possible" that China and the Vatican could resolve their differences in time for the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008.
"We know they have no reason to be afraid of religion," Zen said.
The main stumbling blocks have been the Vatican's recognition of Taiwan and China's demand to have a say in the appointment of bishops.
Vatican officials have suggested both hurdles can be overcome, and Zen said the Taiwanese are "psychologically preparing" for a change in their status with the Vatican. He did not give more specifics.
Since assuming the papacy in April, Pope Benedict XVI has attached particular importance to improving the Vatican's relationship with China.
Until relations are established, Zen indicated that a papal visit — long the hope of Benedict's predecessor John Paul II — was out of the question.
He confirmed that China blocked John Paul II from stopping in Hong Kong in 1999 for a meeting of Asian bishops. The meeting was held in New Delhi instead, and the pope visited.
Pope Paul VI made a three-hour stopover in Hong Kong in 1970, when it was a British colony.
Zen, a firm advocate of democracy and religious freedom, criticized the Beijing-backed Hong Kong government for chipping away at church control of Catholic schools, which he said have made the church in Hong Kong influential beyond its small numbers.
He denied being barred from visiting China, although he acknowledged being advised to visit only on invitation.
Zen, along with 14 other prelates named by Benedict, will receive their red hats as cardinals in a March 24 ceremony at the Vatican. The Hong Kong bishop also may learn his future career path.
He will turn 75 in January, the normal retirement age for bishops. Benedict could keep him on the job in Hong Kong, offer him a post in Rome or accept his retirement.
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New document on care for much-persecuted Gypsies: Church must defend cultural identity, fight for greater justice
Vatican City, Feb. 28, 2006 (CNA) - A new document addressing the unique issue of pastoral care for the world’s heavily-persecuted population of Gypsies, saw light today during a presentation at the Vatican’s Press Office.
The document, entitled simply, "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies," stresses the defense of the ethnic group’s cultural identity and argues that no Christian should be indifferent to the marginalization of an entire people.
The wide-ranging text was presented by Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, who are president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, respectively.
Groups of pastoral workers, cultural experts and gypsies themselves contributed to the document. It is split into two major sections; one on an overall view of the Church and gypsies, and a second, which looks at specific pastoral questions.
Cardinal Hamao began by explaining that the Holy See first recognized the need for a special form of pastoral care for gypsies in 1965, “after the first historic international pilgrimage of gypsies to Rome, by creating the International Secretariat for the Apostolate of Nomads." This office was later integrated into the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism which was created by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
He said that while the document specifically addresses care for gypsies--who number some 15 million in Europe alone--"it is equally valid for other nomads, who share similar conditions of life in the various continents.”
The Cardinal pointed out that the Church must take into account the ethnicity, culture and age-old traditions of these peoples, and because of this, “local Churches, in countries where they live, should find pastoral inspiration in these Guidelines, ... adapting them to the circumstances, needs and requirements of each group."
He also noted many positive signs of growth among the ethnicity, citing "a growing desire to attain literacy and professional formation, social and political awareness…increasing participation in local and national management in some countries, and the presence of women in social and civic life."
He also recalled the enthusiastic participation of gypsies at "the beatification of the Spanish martyr Ceferino Jimenez Malla, the first gypsy to be raised to the honor of the altar."
Although, he said, the nomadic quality of gypsy life in some way reflects the condition of all mankind - "homo viator" - gypsies' right to identity often comes up against the "indifference or opposition" of many people, who "share habitual prejudices towards them. Signs of rejection persist, often without eliciting any reaction or protest from those who witness them."
This, he said, “has caused untold suffering in the course of history, as we know,” pointing out that “their persecution reached its height especially during the past century.”
“Obviously”, he stressed, “the Church too should recognize their right to have their own identity, and stir consciences in order to achieve greater justice for them."
The new Vatican guidelines," he concluded, "are a sign that the Church has a particular concern for gypsies, meaning that they are the receiver of a special pastoral action in appreciation of their culture. ... In fact, everyone should be welcomed in the Church, where there is no place for marginalization and exclusion."
Pastoral, Governmental care
During his own presentation, Archbishop Marchetto discussed pastoral activity itself, first noting that "the peculiar nature of gypsy culture makes evangelization merely 'from the outside' ineffective."
At the same time, he said however, "a genuine incarnation of the Gospel - called inculturation - cannot indiscriminately legitimize every aspect of their culture…Indeed, the universal history of evangelization affirms that the spread of the Christian message has always been accompanied by a process of purification of cultures.”
Bearing this in mind however, the Archbishop said that “purification does not mean emptying, but some amount of integration with the surrounding culture will be necessary: it is an intercultural process.”
“Reconciliation and communion between gypsies and non-gypsies, therefore, include legitimate interaction between cultures."
The Pontifical Council secretary went on to praise the "strong sense of family…seen among gypsies," but warned that this "should not degenerate, for instance, into perennial resentment between families and clans."
He also stressed the need among gypsies for equal rights between men and women and said that "honesty at work is a civic and Christian virtue, which cannot be disregarded."
The Archbishop admitted that “gypsies are a special minority because they have no country of origin to give them the support they might need and this means the lack of political guarantees and some degree of civil protection.”
He said that “while the arrival of other people seeking refuge and of 'boat people' enables mobilization of a given number of people and governments, that of gypsies usually brings about rejection, even if they come from very poor countries, and are sometimes forced to flee due to religious, racial or political persecution."
This situation, he opined, can only be overcome with a common and comprehensive global policy, pointing out that "it is vitally important that international organizations take an interest in gypsies."
Evangelization of gypsies, Archbishop Marchetto said, "is a mission of the whole Church, because no Christian should remain indifferent to a situation of marginalization with respect to ecclesial communion.”
He added that within catechesis, “it is important to include dialogue that allows gypsies to express how they perceive and experience their relationship with God. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the convenience of translating the Bible, the various liturgical texts and prayer books, into the languages used by the different ethnic groups."
The Vatican noted that the new document will soon be translated and available for viewing at the Holy See’s website: www.vatican.va
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- Benedict XVI Says Microcredits Can Be a Good Tool
- Pope Sees Value As Area for Orthodox Collaboration
- Cardinal Ce to Preach at Pope's Spiritual Exercises
- Papal Prayer Intention: Growth in Mission Awareness
- Gypsies: Pastoral Action in Appreciation of Their Culture
- Spiritual Exercises of Pope and Roman Curia
- Other Pontifical Acts
- Vatican to commemorate first anniversary of passing of John Paul II
- Calgary Herald: It's Time for Canada to Place Gestational Limits on Abortions
- Abortion Legislation advances in Georgia
- Pro-Life Leader Hails Supreme Court Ruling
- President Bush Supports Abortion in Cases of Rape and Incest Says Official Spokesman
- Joe Scheidler Wins Unanimous Supreme Court Ruling against N.O.W.
- Abortion Laws Do Not Always Require Health Exceptions Says Sixth Circuit Appeals Ruling
- HBO Promotes Polygamy With "Big Love" Series
- Abortionists Admit Humanity of Unborn; Now Claiming Right to Feel Good About Killing
- Christian Leaders Sees Roe V. Wade Collapsing, But Pro-Lifer Urges Patience
- Fidelis urges South Dakota governor to sign abortion ban
- Pro-life groups launch effort to protect dignity of human embryo
- Daffur Refugees Hear of Pope’s Concern ~ Cardinal Sepe Visiting Sudan
- Ghanaian is Living proof CRS' Operation Rice Bowl is effective
- Polish Church investigares spies
- U.S Opposes Establishment of U.N. "Human Rights Council"
- No papal visit unless North Korea admits priests, says new cardinal
- Hard to fight morphing terrorism in South-East Asia
- Most Palestinians want peace with Israel, survey says
- Communist Party in crisis: 20 million members go to church or temple
- Cardinal Cheong: "Pope's visit unthinkable while repression in north last"
- Two Ordained in Vietnam After 40-Year Wait Communist Takeover Led to Long Delay
- Despite difficult year, Catholic Charities chief sees signs of hope
- Is IRS Investigation Intended to Protect - Or Prohibit - Churches from Politics?
- Archdiocese Facing Parent Complaints over " Talking about Touching" Sex-Ed Program
- Thousands of People are rediscovering Christianity... and all thanks to the baby Jesus
- Vatican artifacts on display at Milwaukee museum
Views, Interviews, and Commentaries
- On the Pope's Upcoming Trip to Poland ~ Interview with Bishop Ncyz
- Pope Appoints Zen To Restore Vatican Rule
- From Anglican to married Catholic priest
- Vatican Perfect Says Difficult for Gay Priests to Represent Christ
- Catholic Church can have greater impact in political discourse, analysts say
- Evangelization is main challenge for Church in Venezuela, says cardinal-designate
- Cardinal Cipriani: Interior pilgrimage should lead us to Christ
Of Possible Saints
Butt-head Award nominees
Monday, February 27, 2006
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI condemned the recent violence that left mosques and churches destroyed and hundreds dead in Iraq and Nigeria.
God will be severe in judging those who kill in his name, the pope said at a noon blessing Feb. 26.
"The fruits of faith in God are not devastating antagonisms, but a spirit of fraternity and cooperation for the common good. God, the creator and father of all, will call to account even more severely those who spill the blood of their brother in his name," he told tens of thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.
The pope's comments came after the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine known as the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, an act that prompted a wave of violence between Muslim groups that left more than 200 people dead.
The Vatican was closely following the developments, which plunged Iraq deeper into chaos.
"The news of tragic violence in Iraq arrives continuously in these days, with attacks even on mosques. These are actions that disseminate hatred and seriously hinder the already difficult task of reconstruction of the country," the pope said.
In Nigeria, the pope noted, conflict between Christians and Muslims had continued for several days. The violence was set off by a Muslim demonstration against the publication of cartoons satirical of Islam; when the demonstration got out of hand, a mob set fire to churches and the property of Christians, leaving several people dead, including a Catholic priest.
In the days that followed, Christians in some southern Nigerian cities rioted, burning mosques and killing some Muslims.
Authorities said that after three days of violence in the country, at least 120 people had been killed.
The pope said he was saddened to hear of the killings and destruction of many churches and mosques in Nigeria and expressed his condolences for all those killed.
"While I express firm condemnation for the violation of places of worship, I entrust to the Lord all the dead and those who mourn them," he said.
Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, president of the Nigerian bishops' conference, said the violence was not a "conflict of religions" as such, but the result of a number of simmering social problems, including economic uncertainty and ethnic resentment.
He said criminal elements had, as always, taken advantage of the situation to loot shops and homes.
Archbishop Onaiyekan, who has helped maintain fairly good relations with local Muslim leaders, said the violence was also fueled by the inflated rhetoric of local Islamic preachers.
"Official Islam has difficulty in controlling these self-proclaimed preachers," he said.
The archbishop made a point he has frequently underlined when such violence flares up in Nigeria -- that the country's civil authorities have a major responsibility for maintaining order and preventing bloodshed.
At a Rome symposium in 2004, Archbishop Onaiyekan expressed concern that the Iraq War, seen by many Nigerian Muslims as a religious war, was increasing the appeal of Islamic extremists in the country.
- Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
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Abortion destroys everyone it touches, killing a child and devastating that child's family. Often overlooked, however, is the one who performed the procedure. The abortionist is wounded, too.
Every year, on the 10th of March, pro-abortion groups observe the "National Day of Appreciation for Abortion Providers." They seek to affirm those who kill babies for pay, and honor them as hero-servants of society.
I am happy to announce that this year, Priests for Life has declared March 9 a National Day of Invitation to Abortion Providers — an invitation to repentance and to the healing grace of the Lord. We invite people to read the testimonies of abortionists who have converted and to write letters and make calls to media outlets in order to share these stories. It is precisely because we appreciate these people that we want to free them from the misery of being an abortionist.
I'd like to explore in the next several columns the topic of abortionists, why they do what they do, what life is like for them, and how we can call them to conversion.
Let me address some preliminary questions. First of all, the abortion movement chose March 10 for this "Day of Appreciation" because that was the date in 1993 when abortionist David Gunn was shot and killed outside his abortion mill in Pensacola, Florida. Killing abortionists is a course of action we reject.
Secondly, some object to using the word "abortionist," saying such a term is harsh and cruel. That's odd. Someone who practices psychology is called a "psychologist." Someone who practices therapy is called a "therapist." And one trained in gynecology is a "gynecologist." I fail to see the problem with calling someone who performs abortions an "abortionist." If people are uncomfortable with the word, maybe their conscience is telling them there's something wrong with the practice — and with that, we heartily agree.
Third, if we call an abortionist a "victim," we do not mean to say that he/she is helpless or guiltless. We are all responsible for our actions and have to be held accountable. The point here is that abortionists hurt themselves by their actions, throwing their lives into chaos.
Finally, I write about abortionists from the perspective of having conversed with many of them who are still performing abortions, and having guided many of them through spiritual healing after they have stopped performing abortions. We collaborate and interact with psychiatrists and others who are doing unique research into the lives of abortionists. Moreover, Priests for Life has access to a lot of inside information from the abortion industry, including information gained by infiltration. We rely on original and often unique sources.
The more we can understand why someone, especially if he or she is associated with the medical profession, would perform abortions, and the more we can understand what would cause them to stop performing abortions, the closer we will be to understanding how our whole society can reject this violent practice.
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MATTRAI, Pakistan, February 27, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A young woman was raped by three men in retribution for refusing to perform illegal abortions in a rural community in the western Punjab last Wednesday.
Rubina Kousar, 26, worked as a nurse in the Mattrai health center. She refused to carry out abortions on two women, reported the Telegraph, despite six months of constant pressure from the women’s families.
“In the past our staff have been subjected to this type of victimization for refusing to carry out illegal abortions, but they have not raised their voices for fear of retribution,” said Riaz Hussein, of the Punjab Healthworkers’ Association.
Abortion is illegal in Pakistan after the fourth month of pregnancy, unless the woman’s life is in danger. Under the tribal system operating in isolated districts of the country, village leaders sometimes order gang rapes as a punishment against women for various social “transgressions”.
"The family came and harassed me but I never imagined they would do this," Miss Kousar said, weeping. "They have threatened my family with dire consequences if we do not settle this. But this is not the past when we can get pushed around. God will give me the courage to fight them."
The UN has targeted Pakistan with aggressive population control measures over the past five years. In November 2000, the UNFPA threatened to withdraw US$250 million in health programs if the country refused to accept an additional $35 million in funding for birth control and abortion. Pakistan succumbed to pressure and agreed to make population control a “national priority” in the country.
See LifeSiteNews coverage:
PAKISTAN CAVES IN TO UNFPA POPULATION CONTROL PRESSURE
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Vatican, Feb. 27 (CWNews.com) - Terrorists who kill in the name of religious faith will receive a stern judgment from God, Pope Benedict XVI warned during a public audience on Sunday, February 26.
Responding to a new spate of religious violence in Iraq and in Nigeria, the Pope said: "God, the Creator and Father of all, will be severe in his judgment of those who shed their brothers' blood invoking His name."
With the season of lent approaching, the Pope suggested that Christians should fast and pray for an end to bloodshed, particularly in the nations where religious conflicts are now flaring.
The Pontiff referred first to the attacks on mosques in Iraq, in a conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. These attacks, he said, "spread mourning, nourish hatred, and interfere with the already difficult job of reconstruction in that country."
He also noted the religious conflicts in Nigeria, where several days of confrontation between Christians and Muslims have caused many deaths and the destruction of several churches and mosques. Such violence deserves "firm condemnation" by all responsible religious leaders, he said.
Violence and bloodshed are not authentic products of religious faith, the Holy Father said. True faith, he said, produces "not destructive conflict, but the spirit of brotherhood and cooperation for the common good."
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VATICAN CITY (Catholic News Agency) – Pope Benedict XVI will mark the beginning of Lent with an Ash Wednesday Mass at Rome’s Basilica of Santa Sabina, an act which will serve to renew an ancient Lenten tradition long held by the Diocese of Rome, the Vatican announced Feb. 24.
The late Pope John Paul II was forced to abandon the practice as his health deteriorated late in life.
Prior to Mass, the pontiff will preside at brief prayer in the nearby Church of St. Anselm on Rome’s Aventine Hill.
Following that, he will lead a penitential procession to the basilica, which will be attended by local cardinals, archbishops, bishops, as well the Benedictine monks of St. Anselm, the Dominican Fathers of Santa Sabina and an expected throng of lay faithful.
During the Mass at Santa Sabina, the pope will also preside over the traditional rite of blessing and imposition of ashes.
The Vatican noted that the day’s activity will renew an ancient Lenten tradition, long held by the church in Rome of celebrating Mass in designated "station" or churches, which change each year.
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Of the Pope and the Vatican
- Pope: God does not differentiare between the newly-conceived, the child or the adult
- Pope to the young: the Bible, a compass that indicates the path to follow
- Pope Benedict calls the youth to be "a new generation of apostles anchored firmly in the word of Christ"
- Do not allow Lent to become heavy, burdensom, but apporach with a new spirit, Pope tells faithful
- Facing threats to the faith together: Pope affirms commitment to building unity with Greek Orthodox Church
- Pope Benedict: Lenten practices express faith, not burden
- God loves humans from womb to tomb, pope tells Vatican academy
- Love the Scriptures, Love the Church, Pope urges youth
- Rome plans anniversary commemoration for Pope John Paul II
- Pope thanks Roman police for extra work
- Canadian Governor General meets with Pope
- Lent brings busy schedule of papal liturgies
- Embryos are human beings, Pope insists
- Openly gay Priest at odds as Christ's representatives, says Vatican doctrine head
- Greek Orthodox: Together Let Us Affirm Christian Values
- Message for Twenty-First World Youth Day
- Protecting life against death culture
- 4,000 young people stand up for sexual purity
- Embryo is a child with special relationship to God and parents, says Vatican official
- German bishops, politicians, discuss future policies on the family
- Scotland Bishop Blasts Parliament Decision to Allow Gay Adoption
Related to the Church
- Whites not allowed inside famous Hindu temple
- Landmark judgement leads to convictions in Gujarat massacre case
- Canadian Media Company "gives the finger" to Catholicism in New Zealand
- Call to mutual respect of faith values
- Freedom of expression is not freedom to offend others, says Vatican spokesman
- Joint Jewish-Catholic social programs discussed in Vatican meeting
Views, Interviews, and Commentaries
- Reclaiming roots - Catholics need to rediscover fasting, author says
- 'Megachallenges' facing Catholic Church, Vatican observer suggests
- Benedict emerging as "teaching pope", Vatican journalist-observer says
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- "Protector of Children" missionary moves closer to beatification
- Nigerian Bishops condemn violence sweeping the country
- Two priest arrested in China, group says Olympic Committee should canceling 2008 games in China
- Nunio in Iraq reassigned to Philippines
- Kenya: breakaway priest forms new sect
- Quebec Priest Bash Church on Homosexuality - Real Problem is the Bishops
February 25, 2006
- O,Malley returns to Boston for first time since cardinal announcement
- Peter's Pence: Communion with Pope and attention to Needs
- Thanks to Rome's Municipal Police For Their Service
- Archbishop Tomasi Addresses Question of Maritime Work
- Saint Joseph, Encouragement on the path to the Priesthood
- Other Pontifical Acts
- The Joy of Fasting
February 26, 2006
Friday, February 24, 2006
MANILA, Philippines (UCAN) – Philippine bishops have called for sobriety, prayers and respect for civil rights after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Feb. 24 placed the country under a State of National Emergency.
Arroyo signed Presidential Proclamation 1017 declaring the state of emergency. Addressing the nation in Filipino over television and radio, she explained that she took the step because of "clear and present danger to our republic that we have discovered and thwarted."
"There are some who tried to break from the armed forces chain of command, defy the civil government and establish a regime outside of the constitution," the president elaborated. The government would act to arrest conniving military and civilian leaders, she said, adding that those providing funds and political support to the uprising "would not be spared."
She issued the proclamation in the morning as Philippine bishops led a Mass at the Manila Cathedral honoring the outgoing nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Antonio Franco. After the Mass, Cardinal-elect Gaudencio Rosales of Manila called for calm, dialogue and prayers. "We are in a delicate situation now. First of all, let us pray for calm emotions, calm movements, humility," he urged.
The Manila archbishop said he understood that the government declared a state of emergency because of the threat of danger and the great temptation for opponents to use violence. Urging the opponents to "talk humbly face to face," he said nonviolence was the "essence of EDSA."
EDSA, or Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, is where prayer vigils were held over four days in Feb. 1986 for a nonviolent resolution of an attempted coup against then-president Ferdinand Marcos, who fled the country on Feb. 25, 1986. The bishops had declared that Marcos had no moral basis to rule after winning a presidential election that month that they declared fraudulent.
For the 20th anniversary of EDSA, government officials and groups calling for Arroyo's resignation had planned separate activities and rallies around Manila Feb. 22-25. However, Metropolitan Police Director Vidal Querol announced Feb. 24 that no protest rallies would be allowed in Manila that day "to prevent any breach of peace." Police broke up a rally of some 2,000 people along EDSA and "took into custody" some of its leaders.
Nonetheless, former president Corazon Aquino proceeded to lead a scheduled rosary and prayer rally in Makati City, just south of Manila. Addressing thousands of people, she reiterated her call for Arroyo, who is accused of trying to manipulate the results of the 2004 presidential election, to make the "supreme sacrifice" and resign.
In a radio interview the same morning, Jesuit Father Joaquin Bernas, a constitutional lawyer, explained that a state of emergency does not give the president new powers. The constitution also prevents the president from suspending individuals' civil rights, including the right of assembly and street marches, he said.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution he helped draft empowers the president to call on the armed forces to prevent or suppress rebellion. In a state of emergency, the government may "temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately owned public utility or business affected with public interest," Article 7 reads.
If rebellion or invasion is endangering the republic, the president also may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or place the Philippines or any part of the country under martial law for not more than 60 days.
However, the chief executive must submit a report to Congress 48 hours after martial law is proclaimed and Congress may vote to revoke or extend the proclamation. Any citizen may ask the Supreme Court to review the sufficiency of the basis for proclamation. The national charter guarantees that martial law does not suspend the constitution or give the military full jurisdiction over civilians.
Before dawn on Feb. 24, General Generoso Senga, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, announced that he had relieved and taken into his custody Brigadier General Danilo Lim, commander of the First Scout Ranger Regiment, for planning to join scheduled anti-Arroyo protest rallies that day.
In a televised national defense press conference, Senga said Lim had engaged him the previous evening in conversation on various issues confronting the nation and hinted on a plan to withdraw support for the president. Senga said he later learned that Lim also had "withdrawn his support for the chain of command."
After the Mass for the departing nuncio at the cathedral in Manila, Bishop Antonio Ledesma of Ipil stressed that the bishops would never favor resorting to any kind of violence. "This will just give rise to more harm to the people later on," said the vice president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines. He recalled economic problems following past coup attempts.
Bishop Ledesma said the permanent council of the bishops' conference would discuss the declared state of emergency. Referring to the conference's latest pastoral statement, on Jan. 29, he said the bishops still wanted "to pursue the truth, to make sure that we restore moral values in our public life and that we abide by the constitutional process."
He described the dispersal of rallies as "unfortunate," considering they were "peaceful." In the bishop's view, these "should be allowed because that is one way for people to show their dissent in a nonviolent way."
Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of Kalookan, chairman of the bishops' public affairs committee, who also attended the Mass, told UCA News he hopes the state of emergency will be short and that civil rights will be respected. He advised the people to examine "what pushed our president to declare this emergency situation" and whether it is real. He also advised the people to get involved in the national situation and be part of the search for a solution.
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Vatican City, Feb. 24, 2006 (CNA) - Meeting today with prelates from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the war-torn former Yugoslavia, Pope Benedict XVI stressed the need for them to “be peacemakers” and to be a bridge between the Church and the greater society.
"Following the sad years of the recent war,” the Pope told the prelates, “you as peacemakers are called to reinforce communion and to disseminate mercy, understanding and forgiveness in the name of Christ, both within the Christian communities and throughout the complex social fabric of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
He commended them, saying "I well know that yours is not an easy mission, but I also know that you maintain your gaze constantly fixed upon Christ, Who ... gave His disciples a fundamental task that sums up all the others, that of loving.”
“Love”, he stressed, “must not simply follow earthly laws ... but translate into that higher measure of justice which is mercy."
It is with this spirit, the Holy Father said, that the bishops "will easily be able to carry out the mission entrusted to you, contributing to healing still-open wounds and to resolving contrasts and divisions left over from past years."
Noting some of the many problems facing Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Pope mentioned "the position of exiles, for whom I hope appropriate agreements will be reached in respect of everyone's rights.” Likewise, he addressed "the indispensable equality between citizens of various religions ... the urgent need for measures to meet the growing lack of work for young people, and attenuating ominous tensions between ethnic groups."
Benedict also sought to reaffirm the Holy See's closeness to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a closeness which he said is confirmed by, among other things, "…the recent appointment of a resident nuncio, who will be able to maintain permanent contact with the country's various requirements."
Building the Kingdom of God in the Dioceses
Turning to the need for the bishops to build up their own respective dioceses, the Pope said that "it is important that every effort be made to increase the unity of the flock of Christ ... overcoming, if necessary, misunderstandings and difficulties associated with events of the past.”
“The Church everywhere”, he said, “pursues a single objective, that of building the Kingdom of God in all lands and in the hearts of all people.”
He likewise stressed that “the mission of preserving intact the heritage of the Lord”, is, at least in part, the responsibility of “the successors of the Apostles and to their collaborators in the pastoral ministry.”
Inasmuch, Benedict said that this heritage must adhere “faithfully to the doctrinal and spiritual patrimony of the Church in her entirety."
"Blessed are the peacemakers," the Pope reaffirmed. "As well as to the Church's mission in the outside world, these words are also applicable to internal relations among her members.”
He said that “The various ecclesiastical elements…are regulated by canonical norms that are an expression of a centuries-old experience. ... It is up to the bishop, father of the community entrusted to him by Christ, to discern what is appropriate to the building of the Church of Christ.”
“In this sense,” he told them, “the bishop is pontiff, a 'builder of bridges,' between the various elements of the ecclesial community."
The Pontiff concluded by saying that all of this "constitutes a particularly important aspect of episcopal ministry at this moment in history, as Bosnia and Herzegovina resume the path of collaboration to build a future of social development and peace."
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The local Patriotic Association is engaged in a ruthless province-wide campaign against underground Catholics. One of those arrested served as episcopal vicar; his whereabouts are still unknown.
Rome (AsiaNews) – The Hebei Patriotic Association is not slowing down its campaign of persecution against China’s underground Catholic Church. Reports today indicate that two underground priests, Lu Genjun, 44, and Guo Yanli, 39, have been arrested. Chinese sources told AsiaNews that Father Lu served as episcopal vicar in a province where three bishops have disappeared: Mgr Han Dingxian, underground bishop of Yongnian: Mgr James Su Zhimin, 72 anni, ordinary bishop of Baoding who vanished in 1996, and Mgr Francis An Shuxin, 54, auxiliary bishop of Baoding who was arrested in 1997 and has not been heard from ever since. Last November 18, six priests from the diocese of Zhengding were also arrested.
In announcing the arrest, the Cardinal Kung Foundation said that the two were detained by Chinese security officials on February 17 while waiting for a friend at the Baoding train station. Father Lu was sent to an undisclosed location while Father Guo was sent to Xushui County detention centre.
Ordained in 1998, Father Lu has been arrested three times; the first time on April 5, 1998, Palm Sunday, soon after taking his vows. He was arrested again shortly before Easter in 2001 and detained for three years in the Gao Yang County labour camp in Hebei. Soon after his release from the labour camp, he was arrested again on May 14, 2004, for an unknown period.
Proportionately, Hebei province has the highest number of Catholics who are 1.5 million-strong. Underground Catholics are by far the majority.
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Los Angeles, Feb. 24, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, has warned the faithful that Catholic politicians or voters who are pro-abortion commit heresy against the Fifth Commandment’s prohibition of murder.
“Bishop Vasa is to be praised for his clear, courageous, and firm defense of the integrity of the Fifth Commandment and the most innocent of human life,” said canon lawyer Marc Balestrieri. Balestrieri serves as president of the nonprofit organization De Fide, which was established in 2004 to combat the “right-to-murder” heresy and other grave crimes within the Church.
In an article in the Catholic Sentinel, Bishop Baker wrote: “There is a point at which passive ‘tolerance’ allows misleading teachings to be spread and propagated, thus confusing or even misleading the faithful about the truths of the Church . . . There is a very strong word, which still exists in our Church, which most of us are too ‘gentle’ to use. The word is ‘heresy’.”
“Pro-choice” Catholics “reject the clear and consistent teaching of the Church,” the bishop wrote.
The bishop’s strong stance followed on the heels of a heresy trial adjudicated last month in the Diocese of San Bernardino. According to Balestrieri, the bishop’s words “lend further weight to canonical action now advancing against several prominent U.S. politicians.”
For more on De Fide, go to: www.defide.com
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HONG KONG (UCAN) – Cardinal-elect Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong says that his appointment shows Pope Benedict XVI's great concern for China, and that he will offer his advice to the Holy See on China-Vatican issues.
Cardinal Zen told the press Feb. 23, the day after the pope named him one of 15 new cardinals, that he anticipated Beijing would "appreciate the goodwill of the holy father."
In Beijing Liu Jianchao, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the media Feb. 23 that the Chinese government was aware that Bishop Zen has been appointed a cardinal.
He said the Catholic Church always advocates non-interference in politics and the Chinese government believes the Catholic sector in Hong Kong will cherish and uphold stability, development and harmony in the local society.
On the subject of relations between China and the Vatican, he noted that there is no change in China's stance.
Also in Beijing, Anthony Liu Bainian, vice chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, told UCA News Feb. 23 that he thinks Bishop Zen's appointment as a cardinal shows the pope's concern for China.
However, he said the China Church hopes Cardinal-elect Zen will "render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God," as Jesus says in the gospel of St. Matthew, since this would enhance the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and help advance China-Vatican relations. He added that how much the cardinal-elect would be able to help toward the normalization of diplomatic ties "depends on how he acts in the future."
Liu noted that some Catholics in the mainland see Zen's appointment as a "political consideration" of the Vatican and wonder whether the appointment will prove beneficial for China-Vatican relations.
According to Liu, the patriotic association and Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China have not decided if they will invite the new cardinal to Beijing.
He said that "under one country, two systems, the two brother-churches of China and Hong Kong should observe the principle of non-interference, non-subordination and mutual respect" in their exchanges. The principle is stated in the Basic Law, the mini-constitution that governs Hong Kong since its reversion from British to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.
Liu noted that the more cardinals in China, the better.
Cardinal-elect Zen responded that since China is a vast country, the pope would most likely appoint mainland cardinals after China and the Holy See normalize relations.
The 74-year-old prelate said that although he cannot take part in the diplomatic negotiation between Beijing and the Holy See, which mainly involve diplomatic officials from both sides, "I believe the Vatican officials would treasure our opinions, our experience in and understanding of the China church."
He expressed his hope that normalization would take place before the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but added that he thinks the Holy See's primary concern right now is the appointment of bishops for mainland dioceses with no bishop.
"Pope Benedict named me (cardinal) probably because of my experience in mainland China more than what I have done in Hong Kong," said the prelate, who had taught in mainland seminaries from 1989 until his episcopal ordination in 1996 as coadjutor bishop. He succeeded to head the diocese in 2002.
Many people are wondering about the future involvement in Hong Kong affairs of the cardinal-elect, who has been outspoken and challenged the government on issues related to human rights and education.
According to the prelate, clerics should not participate in politics of power, but they should be concerned about public affairs in the society. He said he would continue to speak for the underprivileged and voiceless as long as he remains a bishop in Hong Kong. But whether he will continue to serve as bishop, retire in 2007 or move to Rome is for the pope to decide, he added.
Auxiliary Bishop John Tong Hon of Hong Kong told UCA News Feb. 23 that along with the appointment of a new cardinal, he hopes the Holy See will consult more and increase the resources it allocates in dealing with matters relating to the church in China, including China-Vatican issues.
The 66-year-old bishop, who is a Church-in-China expert, has confidence the appointment will not cause problems with Beijing. "The government leaders have become more open and pragmatic," he explained, adding that he expects Beijing will pursue China-Holy See relations with a broad and positive vision even if sometimes Cardinal-elect Zen's "good advice jars on the ear."
Church-in-China observer Kwun Ping-hing told UCA News Feb. 23 that the tone of the Chinese government's response was "neutral" in that it carried no congratulatory words. This shows that due to the relations between Hong Kong and the mainland, the Chinese government cannot disregard the reality of the new cardinal's appointment, added Kwun, who is not a Catholic.
"It is an appropriate response, as Beijing needs time to observe," he said.
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Of the Pope and the Vatican
- Pope will preside at Ash Wednesday Mass, procession; act will renew ancient tradition
- Vatican official call on Muslims to stop violence against Christians
- To Bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Be Peacemakers
- Ash Wednesday: Pope to Preside at Mass in Santa Sabina
- Congress of the Academy for Life on the Human Embryo
- Stop the Harm to Women
- Colombian bishop: Church leaders have right to encourage pro-life voting
- Who decides nature of human embryos? Vatican conference to explore scientific, ethical issues
- Gay marriage poses risk to children, warn experts at Catholic university seminar
- The Catholic Engine of Western Progress
- Thousands of young people participate in family catechetical congress
- Sister awarded Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Award
- March calendar calls for prayer, almsgiving
- Christian Singer beaten in Islam conversion attempt
- Pakistani Prime Minister promises to protect religious minorities
- Libyan protesters burn Catholic church, convent
Other News Bites
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The first ten months of Benedict XVI, a “doctor of the Church.” The naming of new cardinals. The inefficiency of the curia. Large crowds and audiences, but few collaborators
ROMA, February 23, 2006 – On the day of the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, at the end of his weekly audience with the pilgrims, Benedict XVI announced that next March 24 he will create 15 new cardinals.
With this reduced number of appointments, pope Joseph Ratzinger intentionally remained below the maximum threshold of 120 cardinal electors as established by the rules.
John Paul II, on the other hand, habitually exceeded this limit, nominating a significant number of extra cardinals each time.
In the order in which Benedict XVI listed them, the new cardinals will be:
1. William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
2. Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Religious;
3. Agostino Vallini, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura ;
4. Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela;
5. Gaudencio B. Rosales, archbishop of Manila, Philippines;
6. Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France;
7. Antonio Cañizares Llovera, archbishop of Toledo, Spain;
8. Nicolas Cheong-Jin-Suk, archbishop of Seoul, South Korea;
9. Sean P. O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, United States;
10. Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, Poland;
11. Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna, Italy;
12. Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop of Hong Kong.
Then there are those over the age of eighty, who are ineligible to participate in a conclave:
1. Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the basilica of Saint Paul‘s Outside the Walls;
2. Peter Poreku Dery, archbishop emeritus of Tamale, Ghana;
3. Albert Vanhoye, former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Three of the new cardinals belong to religious orders: O’Malley is a Capuchin Franciscan, Zen is a Salesian, and Vanhoye is a Jesuit.
Many of those predicted to be made cardinals were passed by.
In all of Latin America, the only new red hat will go to a cardinal of Venezuela, a country where the Church is being sorely tested by the authoritarian government of Hugo Chávez.
In Asia, it is another bishop on the front lines who will be made a cardinal, the very energetic bishop of Hong Kong, who is most definitely feared by the Chinese authorities.
Only four have been selected within the Roman curia, and one of them is over 80 years old. So those remaining without the purple are Stanislaw Rylko of Poland, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Paul Josef Cordes of Germany, president of “Cor Unum”; and Angelo Comastri of Italy, archpriest of the basilica of Saint Peter and vicar general of Vatican City.
It can be gathered from this that being the head of a Vatican office does not automatically clear the way to becoming a cardinal. It seems likely that with Benedict XVI, the purple will be associated, in the curia, with a few important dicasteries. And that some offices will be scaled down, or even suppressed.
Another of the candidates for the purple predicted by the media, Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, not only was not designated a cardinal, but was removed from his office and sent to Egypt as a nuncio.
The decision was made public on February 15, and came as a surprise even to Fitzgerald himself. In reality, Fitzgerald’s promotion as a cardinal was entirely unlikely, given the strong disagreement between him and Benedict XVI on crucial topics in the dialogue among religions, and in particular between Christianity and Islam. Fitzegerald is a convinced representative of the “spirit of Assisi” of which Ratzinger has always been critical.
Furthermore, the list of the new cardinals does not permit any speculation on who might take Angelo Sodano’s place as the new secretary of state, nor whether this substitution will happen soon or not.
One of the possible successors, Giovanni Lajolo, the current foreign minister for the Holy See, remains at his post without having received the purple.
Another person who was often conjectured for the job, cardinal Attilio Nicora, president of the administration of the patrimony of the apostolic see, was given another responsibility on February 21: he was made the papal legate for the basilicas of Saint Francis and Saint Mary of the Angels in Assisi. With this, he was taken off the roster of the candidates for secretary of state.
In short, not even the announcement of the consistory of March 23-25 – which will include “a meeting of reflection and prayer” of the entire college of cardinals with the pope – has satisfied the hopes that Benedict XVI would generate a “tsunami” of changes within the central government of the Church.
But this does not mean that, in this first phase of his pontificate, Benedict XVI has not left a strong impression of his own.
What follows here is an analysis of the first ten months of pope Ratzinger, delivered and discussed at the Cosmos Club of Washington on February 13, at the invitation of the Athanasius Society and Catholic News Agency.
Among those present for the discussion were Jim Nicholson, minister of Veteran’s Affairs in the Bush administration and the former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See; Deal Hudson, professor of philosophy at Fordham University and director of the Morley Institute for Church and Culture; Brian Saint-Paul, director of the monthly Catholic magazine on politics and culture “Crisis”; Fr. Rodger Hunter-Hall, professor at Christendom College in Alexandria; Pat Cipollone, Eugene Zurlo, Russel Shaw, and Robert Novak.
Program: Restore to the Truth Its Splendor
by Sandro Magister
Ten months have passed since the election of Joseph Ratzinger. Is it possible to identify a clear and coherent direction here? My answer is, yes.
* * *
Look at the first great public act of Benedict XVI. It was his first Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, on Sunday, April 24.
At the Gospel reading, these words of Jesus resounded: "I am the way, the truth, and the life, No one comes to the Father but by me."
They are the words that Christian art has almost always placed at the center of its depictions of Christ, the Risen Christ, the "Pantokrator" who rules the universe: the Gospel book he holds is opened on these words, so that all of us may read them.
"Dominus Jesus" – the controversial declaration of August 6, 2000, "on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and of the Church" – was not therefore an invention of Ratzinger the theologian. It simply sets forth the essence of the Revelation of the New and Eternal Testament.
* * *
Look now at the second great public act of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. It was his first Mass at Saint John Lateran, the cathedral of the bishop of Rome, on Saturday, May 7.
In it, Benedict XVI asserted that the pope "must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God's Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism."
So this is the program Pope Benedict has enunciated since the beginning: that of restoring to the truth – which is Christ in the definitive – its primacy and splendor.
In ten months, he has shown his intention to carry this out in all areas: in his first encyclical, in the liturgy, in catechesis, in law, in pastoral practice, in the magisterium of the bishops, in the application of Vatican Council II, in working for peace…
IN THE ENCYCLICAL
The first encyclical of Benedict XVI, published last January 25, is completely consistent with his program: to speak the truth about love, a word today "so tarnished, so spoiled and so abused." To demonstrate that "Deus est caritas."
The encyclical is a letter to the Christian people, but is also addressed to those far from the faith, to the "secularists," to those without faith. To all of these, Benedict XVI says: This is the true heart of the Christian faith. Understand this. With a God such as this, you may have the strength to live "as if God exists," even if you do not have the strength to believe.
Live as if within creation, and in the "quiet but clear voice" of every person’s conscience, there is his imprint: a "natural" law that defends the life of every human being "from conception to natural death."
The pope has asked for unity of action on the observance of this common law from non-Catholics – the Jews, the Muslims, the non-religious.
IN THE LITURGY
Benedict XVI has wished to restore to the celebration of the Mass the truth expressed by the great liturgical tradition.
The pope has said in many ways that the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is real, supremely real, not symbolic. He said it by adoring the consecrated host silently on his knees, with a million young people in Cologne – in Protestant country! – and with the one hundred thousand children who received first communion in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome.
In particular, the pope called back to faithful observance of the true liturgical tradition the Neocatechumenal Way: one of the most vibrant Catholic movements of the past half century, but which often modifies the Mass and uses it as an "instrument" for missionary expansion, instead of accepting and celebrating it as the work of God, the "source and summit" of Christian life.
In publishing the question-and-answer compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI wanted to offer to the "simple" – more so than to the learned – a guide to the truths of the faith.
The pope personally attended to the production and release of this compendium. He also wanted to add to it – not as an accompaniment, but as an integral part – fourteen images of sacred art which he selected personally. And to the first of these images, an icon of Christ preserved at Mount Athos, he dedicated a part of his homily on June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.
The pope has made a committment to restore the truth of Christian art, just as he has in the case of the great tradition of liturgical music.
IN THE MAGISTERIUM OF THE BISHOPS
Benedict XVI has addressed severe reminders to bishops he believes to be timid, doubtful, reticent in teaching true doctrine.
For example, he said to the Austrian bishops: "There are some topics relating to the truth of the faith, and above all to moral doctrine, which are not present in the catechesis and preaching of your dioceses to a sufficient extent, and which sometimes are either not confronted at all or are not addressed in the clear sense understood by the Church. Perhaps those who are responsible for the proclamation [of the truth] are afraid that people may draw back if they speak too clearly. However, experience in general demonstrates that it is precisely the opposite that happens. Don’t deceive yourselves! Catholic teaching offered in an incomplete manner is a contradiction of itself and cannot be fruitful in the long term".
IN LAW AND IN PASTORAL PRACTICE
Inaugurating the judicial year in the Vatican, last January 28, Benedict XVI warned against reducing "pastoral charity" to "complacent attitudes" that are contrary to the truth of things.
He restated that "the fundamental point of encounter between law and pastoral practice is love for the truth."
And he cautioned not to "obscure" the truth that is "the indissolubility of matrimony" in that this "belongs to the Christian mystery in its totality." Because every time one makes spouses who are in difficulty forget the indissolubility of their union, one does not help them, but rather "one deceives them."
IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COUNCIL
The pope also wanted to restore its proper truth to Vatican Council II, forty years after its conclusion. He has criticized the false interpretation of the Council as "discontinuity and rupture," as "the spirit" contrasted with "the letter." And he explained, instead, its "proper hermeneutic," its "rightful key of interpretation and application": that is, the Council as "reform," as "renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us."
IN WORKING FOR PEACE
Significantly, Benedict XVI entitled his first message for the World Day for Peace "In truth, peace." The pope wanted to express, right from the title, "the conviction that wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace."
In this message, and then in his speech to the diplomatic corps, he brought all of international politics beneath the scrutiny of the truth:
"Those who are committed to truth cannot fail to reject the law of might, which is based on a lie and has so frequently marked human history, nationally and internationally, with tragedy. The lie often parades itself as truth, but in reality it is always selective and tendentious, selfishly designed to manipulate people, and finally subject them. Political systems of the past, but not only the past, offer a bitter illustration of this. Set against this, there is truth and truthfulness, which lead to encounter with the other, to recognition and understanding."
Terrorism was also placed beneath the same scrutiny:
"Nihilism and the fundamentalism of which we are speaking share an erroneous relationship to truth: the nihilist denies the very existence of truth, while the fundamentalist claims to be able to impose it by force."
* * *
In short, the primacy of the truth appears to be truly the common thread since the beginning of this pontificate. Benedict XVI, the first pope-theologian, really is showing himself as a "doctor of the Church."
But the implementation of his program has also faced limitations from the very start.
* * *
It is true: Benedict XVI enjoys the trust and attention of great crowds of the faithful. The number of those who attend his liturgies and preaching is more than double than in the case of John Paul II, and participants listen to him with great attentiveness.
But within the Vatican curia, he is very isolated.
The system of communication around the pope is inefficient and confused. His texts are issued listlessly, translated late and poorly into the various languages. For example, his speech to the Roman curia on December was obscured through blatant disregard: and this was a discourse of capital importance, dedicated in great part to the interpretations of Vatican Council II.
The delay in the publication of the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" is emblematic of this general dysfunction. And Benedict XVI is aware of this. The proof is that it is he himself who announces and explains his major texts, doing himself what his co-workers do not do. The official presentation of the encyclical, made at the Holy See press office by three curia high directors – cardinal Martino and archbishops Levada and Cordes – was astounding for its banality.
It is known that there are those who actively oppose this pope, both within and outside of the Vatican. One indication of this opposition comes from the rumors that have been spread about the unfolding of the conclave. These rumors are intended to show that the election of Ratzinger was not at all equitable, that it was in doubt until the very end, that it was unduly favored by the fact that he was the dean of the college of cardinals, that he is in the pocket of Opus Dei, that the time is ripe for a new pope, preferably a Latin American, and that, in short, Benedict XVI should submit himself to these inherent limitations.
But there is another reason for pope Benedict’s solitude. It is the slight stature of many of the Church’s leaders, inside the curia and outside of it: this is a group which, because of its intrinsic limitations, is incapable of being equal to this pope’s demanding program and his great vision.
And, finally, there are limits – perhaps – connected to the person of pope Ratzinger himself. There seems to be a gap between his vision and the few practical decisions he has executed so far.
But these decisions will come. After all, only ten months has passed since the white smoke of April 19.
Washington, February 13, 2006
On this website,
on Benedict XVI and the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est”:
> “Deus Caritas Est”: The Encyclical As Explained by its Author (25.1.2006)
On Benedict XVI and the liturgy:
> Liturgy: Benedict XVI Brings the Neocatechumenals Back to the Right Way (27.12.2005)
> Gregorian Chant Is Returning from Exile. Maybe (7.12.2005)
> The “Reform of the Reform” Has Already Begun (28.4.2005)
On Benedict XVI and catechesis:
> A Catechism for the Culture of the Image (5.7.2005)
On Benedict XVI and the magisterium of the bishops:
> The Italians Pass, the Austrians Flunk, the Brazilians... The Bishops under Examination (18.11.2005)
On Benedict XVI and the interpretation of the Vatican Council II:
> Pope Ratzinger Certifies the Council – The Real One (23.12.2005)
On Benedict XVI and peace:
> Finally, the Truth. What the Pope Said to the Diplomatic Corps (10.1.2006)
> “In Truth, Peace” – The First Lesson of Benedict XVI on Peace, War, and Terrorism (14.12.2005)
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HONG KONG, China (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday named an outspoken critic of China as cardinal at a time when the Vatican hopes to forge official ties with the communist country, where millions of Roman Catholics worship illegally.
Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen was once banned from mainland China for his vocal support of China's underground Catholics.
Benedict has made clear he wants to re-establish diplomatic relations with Beijing, and some analysts saw Zen's nomination as a way to make a China expert a close papal adviser. Observers also saw the appointment as an expression of Vatican dissatisfaction with China's religious policies.
"China should see this nomination of Monsignor Zen as an opportunity to revise their view on freedom of religion," said the Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, a China expert in Rome and founder of the Vatican-affiliated news agency AsiaNews.
Observers said, however, that making Zen a cardinal was unlikely to derail the push to establish ties between the Vatican and China.
"In private they won't happy," Beatrice Leung, who studies Sino-Vatican relations at Taiwan's Wenzao Ursuline College, said of Chinese authorities.
But the single appointment should not jeopardize the broader relationship between the Vatican and China, she said, unless Zen is promoted to a more influential position in the church.
Benedict named 15 cardinals Wednesday. (Full story)
Zen told reporters his elevation signals the pope's focus on China.
"The pope really cares about China. He didn't name a lot of cardinals this time. A lot of dioceses that typically get appointments didn't. This shows his priority for China," Zen said.
He added that it was not immediately clear whether the pope wants him to remain in Hong Kong or serve in the Holy See.
Leung said the appointment is a practical move by the church ahead of a possible resumption of ties.
"Among all the cardinals, who understands China issues with more depth than he does?" she said. "If China and the Vatican resume ties soon, the Chinese church has many problems to tackle."
One area of contention between Beijing and Vatican is the pope's authority to appoint bishops, which China views as interference in its internal affairs.
China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the officially atheist Chinese Communist Party took power. Worship is allowed only in government-controlled churches, which recognize the pope as a spiritual leader but appoint their own priests and bishops.
Millions of Chinese, however, belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome. Those who meet in the underground churches are frequently harassed, fined and sometimes sent to labor camps.
Analysts said China is unlikely to react strongly -- at least in public -- to Zen's selection for fear of alienating Catholics in Hong Kong, where the Roman Catholic Church is allowed to operate. The former British colony enjoys civil liberties denied on the mainland.
"If Beijing reacts too strongly, it will lose popularity in Hong Kong," said China scholar James Sung, who teaches at the City University of Hong Kong.
Vatican expert John L. Allen Jr. said views on Zen in the Vatican were mixed.
"Some in the Vatican like Zen very much for his willingness to stand up to the Chinese on religious freedom issues, others worry that he will disrupt Vatican diplomatic efforts to establish formal relations with Beijing," said Allen, a writer for the National Catholic Reporter.
The Hong Kong office of China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately return a reporter's call seeking comment.
Born in Shanghai in 1932, Zen was ordained as a priest in 1961. He became Hong Kong's bishop in 2002.
He taught in mainland Chinese seminaries between 1989 and 1996 but later was banned from the mainland. That ban apparently was lifted when Zen visited in 2004 at the invitation of mainland officials.
Zen will be the second living ethnic Chinese cardinal. The other is Paul Shan Kuo-hsi of Taiwan.
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