November 19, 2010

VATICAN CITY,  (VIS) - During his greetings to faithful at the end of his general audience today, the Pope addressed a group of Italian pilgrims from the region of Basilicata, who have come to Rome in the company of their local bishops priests and civil authorities to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the earthquake that devastated southern Italy in 1980.

“During that dramatic event”, said the Holy Father, “the wounds of which are still deep and open in the minds and hearts of those dear peoples, much generous aid came from many parts of Italy. At the local level, everyone undertook to implement the necessary measures. In particular, I would like to highlight the efforts made by the Church, which was able to offer, as well as material aid, the light of hope of the risen Christ, at a time of distress and darkness. My hope is that today’s meeting, as well as the memory of the paternal visit made at that time by Servant of God John Paul II, may revive in Christian people the gift of faith, and the joy of sharing it in the great family of the Church”.

Without priests, Catholic military personnel seeking out Protestant pastors

November 16, 2010

Baltimore, Md. (CNA).- Military Archbishop Timothy Broglio told bishops at their annual gathering in Baltimore that the U.S. military is facing an alarming shortage of priests that is increasingly leading Catholic servicemen to seek help from Protestant pastors.

Calling it a “pastoral problem” that “affects all of us,” Archbishop Broglio appealed to bishops across the U.S. during the annual Nov. 15-18 meeting in Baltimore to consider sending more priests to help serve in the military.

“As you know, the Archdiocese for the Military Services assures the pastoral care for people from your respective particular churches,” he told the bishops. When these people “hang up their uniforms and return home,” he added, “I would like to be able to return them to you as Catholics.”

Approximately one fourth of active duty personnel – 400,000 people – and their immediate families are Catholic, he said.

At present, these Catholics “are served by only 275 priests in a territory that covers the globe,” the archbishop noted. “Those numbers will shrink in the coming years.”

Because many in the armed services often face grave situations, he said, questions about the meaning of life and the existence of God often surface.

“They are at great risk because there are not nearly enough priests to meet their needs,” he said. Speaking of the growing trend for Catholics to seek help from Protestant ministers, Archbishop Broglio said “our separated brothers and sisters are more than eager to fill the gap created by the absence of a priest.”

“If we are not there,” he said, “someone else will be.”

Archbishop Broglio also lamented the increasing amount of suicides that occur in the military. He said that one suicide occurred per day this last June in the U.S. armed forces and asserted that the presence of a priest is essential in helping prevent future “tragedies.”

“We cannot abandon” service men and women “at the moment of their greatest need,” he added.

Archbishop Broglio concluded his remarks by urging the bishops in attendance at the annual meeting to “to consider sending one more priest to the military.” He also appealed for the bishops to designate a day of prayer for peace, an end to suicides, and to express gratitude to U.S. military personnel

Report: ‘Real Reform’ at Chicago CCHD Being Dismantled

November 15, 2010

By Patrick B. Craine

CHICAGO, Illinois, November 11, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Facing pressure from the old guard at the local and national level, the Chicago branch of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has begun dismantling the “real reform” that earned it so much praise from pro-life groups in the summer.

“Despite the attempts made by some well-intentioned individuals in the Archdiocese of Chicago’s CCHD, the powers-that-be at the USCCB and some local bishops and priests have plans to return to the national CCHD’s guidelines with this program,” said former Chicago CCHD director Rey Flores. Flores, among others, had initiated the reforms with the initial blessing of Cardinal Francis George.

But a cadre of liberal priests, led by Fr. Larry Dowling, has been calling on the cardinal to reverse the reforms, which included approving grants for the life-saving work of crisis pregnancy centers. Dowling claimed in a recent letter to Cardinal George, for example, that “It has been an insult to many (grantees) to be asked, “Does your organization support abortion or same-sex ‘marriage’?”

The same group of priests, who sought the removal of Flores last March, were recently also targeting Flores’ former boss, Office of Peace and Justice Director Nicholas Lund-Molfese.

“People really need to keep the CCHD program in their prayers, especially the Chicago CCHD staff, priests and bishops,” said Flores, who lost his position in the fall.

Under Flores’ leadership, Chicago’s CCHD had committed to defunding any group opposing Catholic teaching, particularly on life and family issues, as well as funding groups such as crisis pregnancy centres and the Pro-Life Action League, contrary to previous CCHD practice.

The former director told LSN that the rationale for funding such groups, and for ensuring that grantees are in line with Church teaching on life and family issues, is that “the lack of respect for the sanctity of life and the destruction of the necessary societal institutions of traditional marriage and family are the major reason for the moral, physical and spiritual poverty we suffer in the western world.”

Cardinal George – under the recommendations of Auxiliary Bishop Francis Kane, who serves on the U.S. Bishops’ CCHD subcommittee – has agreed to recommit the diocese to CCHD’s long-time policy of not funding groups that offer direct service to the poor, and will also require again that grantees’ boards be mostly composed of low-income people.

The Chicago reforms, which were held up by pro-life groups as a model for the nationwide organization, were especially significant because Chicago is where CCHD began and their collection still brings in the most funds of any diocese every year.

“For a brief moment in Chicago, we had everyone on the same page,” said Flores. “It was awesome to teach people on the social justice side of things about the value of respect life causes as being social justice issues and teaching the respect life warriors about the God-given human dignity of immigrants and workers. I pray that these efforts were not in vain.”

“It’s sad that the unborn and the innocent poor must suffer because of our misunderstanding of what true social Catholic justice is as Jesus Christ taught us,” he added, saying, “We must never sacrifice our Catholic faith and values for secular humanitarian causes.”

LifeSiteNews was refused an interview with Lund-Molfese to ask about the status of future funding to pro-life groups.  According to Susan Burritt, the diocese’s media relations director, “There has been no change in the policy of the Archdiocese of Chicago regarding groups eligible for CCHD funding.  Reports to the contrary are mistaken.”

“While we certainly pray that the new leaders of Chicago’s CCHD have the courage to continue Rey Flores’ excellent reform effort, it sounds like they’re returning to business as usual,” said Michael Hichborn, American Life League’s lead researcher on the CCHD. “Given the push to remove Flores from his post by a member of the CCHD’s subcommittee, one has to wonder just how committed to reform the National CCHD office really is.”

“We really commend Rey for his courage and fidelity to the Church for working so hard to make these reforms as the CCHD director,” said Hichborn.  “But the strength and courage it took to go public with what really happened is a sign of his deep faith in Christ.”
Contact Information:

Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago
PO Box 1979
Chicago, IL. 60690-1979
Phone: 312-534-8230
Fax: 312-534-6379
E-Mail: [email protected]

US bishops hold exorcism training prior to fall meeting

November 15, 2010

Washington D.C., (CNA).- The U.S. bishops are sponsoring a two-day exorcism training in order to teach more priests how to perform the rite.

The Conference on the Liturgical and Pastoral Practice of Exorcism is taking place Nov. 12 -13, days before the national bishops’ meeting in Baltimore.

Over 50 bishops and 60 priests have been registered for the event.

Speakers include Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Fr. Dennis McManus – an assistant priest to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan – and Chicago priest Fr. Jeffrey Grob.

Pro-life leader and author Fr. Thomas Euteneuer spoke with CNA last June and explained that due to an increased exposure of young people to the occult, priests within the next decade are going to be “inundated” with exorcism requests

Pope closes Middle East Synod with impassioned call for peace

October 25, 2010

Vatican City,  (CNA/EWTN News).- Peace is possible and urgent in the Middle East, where wars, violence and terrorism have gone on for “too long,” said the Pope at the concluding Mass of the Vatican’s synod on the Middle East. He invited prayers for the region and assured its Christian inhabitants that they are “never alone.”

The synod, two weeks of discussions on the state of Christians and the Church in the Middle East, concluded on Sunday with a Eucharistic celebration that showed the “unity in diversity” of the Catholic Church. Joining Pope Benedict XVI in the celebration of the Mass were 177 bishops from all over the Middle East and neighboring nations who had taken part in the summit.

The meetings brought many challenges, hopes and concerns to light while maintaining a focus on the synod’s theme: “Communion and Witness: now those who believed were of one heart and soul.”

Among the matters receiving the most attention during the sessions were communion among the variety of Eastern Catholic traditions; problematic emigration from the Middle East; and inter-religious relations and dialogue. The topics of violence, peace, and religious freedom were also prominent.

During the homily at the synod’s closing Mass, Pope Benedict called the encounter a “truly extraordinary experience,” not just for participants, “but for the good of the Church.” He told the many Synod Fathers that they now return home from this “powerful moment of ecclesial communion” to their missions, knowing that they are united and remain in God’s love.

He hoped that the positive experience of being “united, heart and soul, in faith, in hope and in charity,” would be repeated in Middle Eastern communities. Guided by prayer and by living true unity, he said, Catholics in the region will also be able to pursue dialogue with other Christians more readily.

While Christians in the region are few, the Pope observed, “they are the bearers of the Good News of the love of God for man … and it is the only Word which is able to break that vicious circle of vengeance, hate and violence.” He prayed that initiatives for peace might arise from all levels of society.

“Conflicts, wars, violence and terrorism have gone on for too long in the Middle East,” he emphasized. “Peace, which is a gift of God, is also the result of the efforts of men of goodwill, of the national and international institutions, in particular of the states most involved in the search for a solution to conflicts.

“We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace. Peace is possible. Peace is urgent,” he said.
It is also the “indispensable condition for a life of dignity for human beings and society” and “the best remedy to avoid emigration from the Middle East,” he added.

Referring to Psalm 122’s call to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, he said “we pray for peace in the Holy Land. We pray for peace in the Middle East, undertaking to try to ensure that this gift of God to men of goodwill should spread through the whole world.”

Christians can also contribute to the promotion of “authentic freedom of religion and conscience” in the region, he said, proposing this as a topic of Christian-Muslim dialogue.

Turning to Christians in the Middle East, headed: “may the experience of these days assure you that you are never alone, that you are always accompanied by the Holy See and the whole Church, which, having been born in Jerusalem, spread through the Middle East and then the rest of the world.”

He also announced during the homily that the next assembly of bishops would take place in 2012 to examine “new evangelization.”


October 13, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 12 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the newly-founded Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, explained the contents of “Ubicumque et semper”, the Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio data” by which Benedict XVI establishes the new dicastery.

“The theme of new evangelisation has been the subject of deep reflection by Church Magisterium over recent decades”, said Archbishop Fisichella. “It is immediately clear that this goal represents a challenge to the entire Church, which must … find adequate ways to renew her announcement to many baptised people who no longer understand what it means to belong to the Christian community, and are victims of the subjectivism of our times with its closure in an individualism that often lacks public and social responsibility. The ‘Motu Proprio’ directly identifies those Churches of ancient tradition which … require a renewed missionary spirit, one capable of helping them make a forward leap to meet the new requirements which the current historical situation imposes”.

“As ‘Ubicumque et semper’ makes clear, new evangelisation is not a mere formula, identical in all circumstances”, the archbishop explained. “Rather, it obliges us to develop well-founded ideas capable of acting as support to a corresponding pastoral activity. Moreover it must be capable of carefully verifying the various traditions and goals that the Churches possess by virtue of the treasure of their centuries-long history: a plurality of forms that does not undermine unity”.

Nor must new evangelisation sound like “an abstract formula”, the president of the new dicastery continued his remarks. “We must”, he said, “fill it with theological and pastoral content, and we will do so with the strong support of the Magisterium of recent decades”, also bearing in mind “the many initiatives which, over the course of recent years, have been enacted by individual bishops in their particular Churches, epsicopal conferences and groups of believers”.

Among the tasks entrusted to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation is that of promoting the use of the Catechism of the Universal Church. “The Catechism is indeed”, the prelate noted, “one of the most mature fruits to emerge from the directives of Vatican Council II. It is an organic compilation of the entire heritage of the development of dogma and is the most complete instrument to transmit the unchanging faith in the face of the constant changes and questions the world poses to believers”.

Thus the new dicastery will use “all the inventions that progress in communications technology has created, making them positive instruments at the service of new evangelisation”, Archbishop Fisichella concluded.

Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Commission Meets, Plans Statement on Approaches to Moral Issues

September 20, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic)—The Anglican-Roman Catholic Theological Consultation in the United States held its sixty-eighth meeting in Alexandria, Louisiana, on September 9 and 10. Bishop Ronald P. Herzog of Alexandria, the Catholic co-chairman of the Consultation, hosted the session, which took place at the St. Joseph Catholic Center in Alexandria. Episcopal Bishop John Bauerschmidt of the Diocese of Tennessee (Nashville) also co-chaired the meeting, replacing Bishop Thomas Breidental of Southern Ohio, who announced his resignation at the last meeting due to other responsibilities.
This session was largely devoted to the examination of a draft outline of a potential agreed statement on the topic of the current round of dialogue, “Ecclesiology and Moral Discernment: Common Ground and Divergences.” This topic explores the fact that while the two churches share the same convictions on a wide range of ethical questions, there are serious differences regarding certain issues in personal morality, especially those pertaining to human sexuality. In earlier meetings of the Commission, members discussed Catholic and Anglican positions on contraception, debt relief, immigration, same-sex unions and health care.
Decisions were made regarding the production of a draft of the first section of the document and further studies that remain to be undertaken.
During the course of the meeting the members were able to visit St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Alexandria, and were presented with materials commemorating the centenary of the founding of the Diocese of Alexandria (1910-2010). The sixty-ninth meeting was set for February 28 and March 1, 2011, at a place to be determined.
In addition to the co-chair, Catholic members of the dialogue are Msgr. David A. Bohr, Rector of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, Pennsylvania; Father Charles Caccavale, Professor of Moral Theology at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception; Dr. Therese Lysaught, Associate Professor in the Department of Theology at Marquette University; Theresa Notare, Ph.D., of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; Jesuit Father Thomas P. Rausch, Ph.D., Department of Theological Studies of Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles; and Paulist Father Ronald G. Roberson, Ph.D., Associate Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and staff to the dialogue.
Representatives of The Episcopal Church, in addition to Bishop Bauerschmidt, include the Rev. Matthew S. C. Olver, Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas; Mary Reath, governor of the Anglican Center in Rome and author of “Rome and Canterbury: The Elusive Search for Unity” (2007); Dr. Timothy Sedgwick, Professor of Christian Ethics at Virginia Theological Seminary; the Rev. Canon. J. Robert Wright, Ph.D, Professor of Church History at the General Theological Seminary in New York, New York; and the Rev. Thomas Ferguson, Ph.D., Ecumenical Officer of The Episcopal Church and staff to the dialogue.  
A complete list of the agreed statements released by the consultation as well as links to earlier press releases can be found on the USCCB website at: http://www.usccb.org/seia/anglican.shtml

Priests have been ‘worse’ than silent on contraception, says canon law expert

September 16, 2010

New York City, N.Y., Sep 16, 2010 / 12:57 am (CNA).- Adding to Vatican analyst Sandro Magister’s recent commentary on the issue of widespread contraception use among Catholics today, a noted canon law expert told CNA that the silence and even contradiction of some clergy regarding Church teaching on the issue is “incontestable.”
On Sept. 8 in the Chiesa section of the Italian newspaper L’Espresso, analyst Sandro Magister highlighted a recent book that shows a link between the usage of contraception among Catholics in the early 20th century and the silence of clergy in presenting Church teachings on the subject. Reasons cited for Catholic use of birth control were the permissiveness of priests in the confessional as well as clergy refraining from speaking openly on the subject.
In a follow up piece on Wednesday, Magister delved more deeply into the role of priests in addressing the issue during confession, also touching on the responsibility Catholics have to form their consciences.
CNA contacted canon law expert Fr. Gerald Murray, a priest in the Archdiocese of New York, who gave his insight into the controversial topic in an e-mail on Sept. 15.
When asked if he believes that silence on the part of clergy today on contraception has in fact contributed to Catholics’ use of it, Fr. Murray said “yes.”
“Even worse,” he continued, “it is incontestable that some clergy have contradicted Humanae Vitae and have stated that contraceptive use is not sinful.”
“So there is confusion among the faithful,” the priest asserted. “It would be good for the bishops of the United States to speak more often about the grave sinfulness of contraceptive use and encourage both generosity in receiving more children into our families, and the use of Natural Family Planning, not artificial contraceptives, to postpone pregnancy for serious reasons.”
Fr. Murray then offered clarity on the subject of how the issue of contraception should be broached in the confessional.
“If someone confesses that he or she has used some form of contraception, that ordinarily means that he or she knows such actions were sinful and that they wish to be forgiven this sin,” he noted. “The priest should first tell the penitent to thank God for the grace to make this good confession. He should then help the penitent to arrive at a firm resolution to avoid such sins in the future.”
“He should encourage the penitent to pray more, to receive Holy Communion frequently, to confess regularly even when the penitent only has venial sins to confess. He should also recommend that the person learn about Natural Family Planning in the case of a penitent who is married or is preparing for marriage.”
When asked he thinks there are mitigating factors for Catholics who contracept and whether or not a delicate approach is necessary on the part of priests, Fr. Murray responded, “a delicate approach is always necessary when hearing confessions.”
“But a delicate approach does not mean moral relativism which would subvert God’s law by calling contraceptive use not a sin,” Fr. Murray underscored. “Church teaching on the gravity of artificial contraception is clear and binding on all. If the penitent confesses this sin, the priest must never contradict the moral law under the guise of pastoral charity. The repentant sinner needs to be encouraged to leave sin behind.”
“We should also remember the timeless maxim for priests in the confessional: ‘Qui excusat non accusat,’” he added. This translates to “He who forgives does not accuse.”
“It is not for the priest to question the penitent about contraceptive use if that subject has not been brought up,” Fr. Murray said. “An exception to this is the case where an adult penitent asks for help in confessing, as in the case of someone who has been away from the sacrament for a long time.”
“Note that the priest may himself offer to help the penitent with the examination of conscience if such assistance seems to be called for. But the priest cannot require such an examination against the will of the penitent.”


July 26, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 24 JUL 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Holy Father, written in Latin and dated 30 June, in which he appoints Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the fourth centenary of the baptism of Grand Chief Henri Membertou of the Mikmaq People, due to be held on Chapel Island, Nova Scotia, Canada, on 1 August.

Cardinal Ouellet, who when news of the appointment was made public was still archbishop of Quebec, Canada, will be accompanied on his mission by Fr. Robert McNeil, episcopal vicar to the Mikmaq, and by Fr. Douglas J. Murphy of Holy Rosary parish. Msgr. Luca Lorusso, nunciature counsellor, will also form part of the mission.


July 8, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 8 JUL 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter, written in Latin and dated 14 May, in which the Holy Father appoints Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops, as his special envoy to celebrations marking the fourth centenary of the archdiocese of Arequipa, Peru, due to take place from 14 to 18 July.

Also made public were the names of the members of the mission due to accompany the cardinal, they are: Fr. Edward Huillcen Baca, pastor of the parish of the Virgin of the Miraculous Medal and director of the diocesan office for Catholic education, and Fr. Jose Leon Chang, rector of the “Redemptoris Mater” archdiocesan missionary seminary of Arequipa.

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