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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Apr-25-2013

By Catholic News Service


Archbishop at Red Mass: Traditional marriage is 'best for children'

MIAMI (CNS) -- Traditional marriage is "best for children" and efforts to legalize same-sex marriage will "open a Pandora's Box of unforeseen and, to be sure, unintended consequences," Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski said during the annual Red Mass. Delivering the homily at the April 23 liturgy, Archbishop Wenski said the growing movement in support of same-sex marriage would "redefine marriage for all as existing solely for the gratification of two consenting adults" rather than for the creation of life. He suggested that consequences of same-sex marriage would affect society much as no-fault divorce legislation did four decades ago. The archbishop argued to members of the Catholic Lawyers Guild that traditional marriage recognizes the sexual difference between man and woman and that social policy has long supported such marriages because they "provide the optimal conditions for the raising of future generations of its citizens." He stressed the difference between natural law and man-made law. He said that in recent decades, American jurisprudence has moved away from its Judeo-Christian roots -- which hold that truth is "not constructed but received" -- to "a radical autonomy" in which truth is determined "by one's own will."

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Education key to globalization, says Christian Brothers' superior

MORAGA, Calif. (CNS) -- Brother Alvaro Rodriguez Echeverria, superior general of the Christian Brothers, stressed the need for all people to have access to education during an April 24 gathering at St. Mary's College of California. Brother Echeverria was presented with an honorary doctorate in educational leadership from the college during its De La Salle Week honoring St. John the Baptist de la Salle, founder of the Christian Brothers order which runs the college. The week's events included Masses, guest speakers and a poverty and hunger awareness run. Brother Echeverria, born in Costa Rica, has lived in Rome since his 2000 appointment as his order's superior general. He described the honor from the college as a tribute to all of the order's leaders who have dedicated their lives "in service of education." He also thanked the school's president, Brother Ronald Gallagher, and James Donahue, who will become the college's first lay president in July, for sharing in the "worldwide Lasallian mission." In an address to faculty members and students, Brother Echeverria urged them to recognize that globalization of human rights and knowledge is just as important as globalization of finances, culture and politics.

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Laity key to Irish church's renewal, Dublin archbishop says at Fordham

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Renewal of the Catholic Church in a "post-Catholic" Ireland depends on a homegrown effort by the laity to overcome clericalism and witness the Christian message in a secular society, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin told a New York audience. Once considered "one of the world's most deeply and stably Catholic countries," Ireland, like other parts of Europe, can now be classified as post-Catholic because of sociological changes and lingering fallout from the child sexual abuse scandals that swept the country in recent years, Archbishop Martin said April 24 in a speech at Fordham University. "You can only define post-Catholic in terms of the Catholicism that has been displaced," he said. The prelate described the Catholic Church in Ireland as being trapped in an illusory self-image when he became the archbishop of Dublin in 2004, but that the demographic majority the church enjoyed hid "many structural weaknesses" and that the church had become insensitive to them. "The church leadership was out of touch with the religious sentiment of the people," he said. "The Catholic Church in Ireland had for far too long felt that it was safely ensconced on a 'Catholic country.' The church had become conformist and controlling, not just of its faithful, but of society in general. ... Anyone who might have thought that 'Catholic Ireland' was anything like a perfect society must now be very disillusioned," Archbishop Martin said.

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Archdiocese drops subpoena for White House records in HHS case

NEW YORK (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of New York has dropped its legal demand that the Obama administration provide documents from the White House staff related to the church's lawsuit against the government's insurance mandate for birth control coverage. Reuters reported that the archdiocese filed a notice with the U.S. District Court April 22 dropping its request for documents from the administration. In February, the archdiocese subpoenaed the records of White House staff, including those of the president, to use in the archdiocese's lawsuit over the contraceptive mandate in the health insurance law. On April 4, the White House asked the federal court to toss out the request, saying it was inappropriate and a burden on the administration. Reuters reported that the archdiocese's notice did not say why the subpoena was being withdrawn. The archdiocese is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit in New York federal court challenging provisions in the Affordable Care Act that would require employers to include coverage of birth control in employees' health insurance plans.

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Vatican official says July trip to Brazil being tailored to new pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Visiting Rio de Janeiro, the chief organizer of papal trips confirmed Pope Francis will participate in the key events of World Youth Day July 23-28 and he said other parts of the papal trip are being tailor-made for the new pope. Alberto Gasbarri, the Vatican official who has worked on organizing papal trips since the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, said, "We had a program fixed between October and November of last year, but a little detail changed -- we have a new pope. We had a tunic made to measure for one pope, and now we need to make another. The program will be updated" to fit the ideas and style of Pope Francis, Gasbarri said in a statement released by the Brazilian bishops' conference April 24. After discussing the plans with Pope Francis, Gasbarri arrived in Rio April 23 to meet with Brazilian church officials and the local World Youth Day organizing committee as well as local, state and national government officials to review the plans and discuss ideas.

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Pope Francis' first encyclical might be out this year, says spokesman

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis may publish his first encyclical this year, the Vatican spokesman said. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said he "would not exclude" the possibility of the publication of the pope's first encyclical "within this year," Vatican Radio reported. The spokesman told reporters April 25 that retired Pope Benedict XVI had already "fleshed out material on the theme of faith" for an encyclical. Vatican officials had said Pope Benedict completed work in late 2012 on what would have been his fourth encyclical -- a letter on the theological virtue of faith. Its release was expected in the first half of 2013, but the pope resigned Feb. 28 before its publication. It is not unusual for a pope to pick up work begun by his predecessor, make changes and publish it in his own name. The second part of Pope Benedict's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est" ("God is Love"), was a discussion of Catholic charitable activity prepared under Blessed John Paul II. Nine months after Pope Benedict was elected, the document was released after the new pope reworked that section. Father Lombardi also said that Pope Benedict, who has been living at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo since his retirement, would soon be moving -- as expected -- to a renovated building in the Vatican Gardens.

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Brazil's security officials coordinate safety for World Youth Day

SAO PAULO (CNS) -- Security officials at all levels are coordinating to make sure World Youth Day is secure for pilgrims, including foreign visitors. World Youth Day's Local Organizing Committee has released details of a contingency plan to be used July 23-28, when the international event takes place in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's federal police and the federal highway police will be in charge of Pope Francis' personal security, escorting the pontiff to the different event sites. Military police will be in charge of opening and closing roads, as well as the security of tourist sites. The National Security Force will serve as a contingency force and will be activated only if needed. Civil police will be in charge of crowd control. Municipal Guards will patrol subways and train stations, guarding pilgrim sites. The Ministry of Defense said it would not place troops on display on the streets with armored cars and rifles. Army personnel will be seen only when necessary, so that their presence will not be overt. "The safety of a big event like World Youth Day involves all three levels of government" -- federal, state and municipal -- said Rio de Janeiro's undersecretary for major events, Roberto Alzir Dias Chaves. He said Brazilians had exchanged information with Italian police and with Spanish officials -- the last World Youth Day was in Madrid in August 2011.

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Human evolution: Science, faith explore the mysterious emergence of man

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Evolutionary science is still grappling with understanding how the human species, with its unique capacities for language, culture, abstract reasoning and spirituality, may have emerged from a pre-ape ancestor. While the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that God, "in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life," the church still considers the scientific investigation of the origins of humanity to be a valuable contribution to human knowledge. In its continuing dialogue with world-renowned scientific experts, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences brought together evolutionary biologists, paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, neuroscientists, theologians and philosophers to discuss the major physical and cultural changes that occurred during mankind's evolution. The working group on "The Emergence of the Human Being" met April 19-21 to discuss topics such as the mastery and use of fire, the beginning of burial and funeral rites and the emergence of language, culture and conscience. Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the science academy's chancellor, told the group that scientific truths are part of divine truth and "can help philosophy and theology understand ever more fully the status and future of the human person."

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Preach the Gospel with courage, humility, pope says at Mass

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians should pray for great courage and great humility as they respond to the call of Jesus to share his Gospel with the world, Pope Francis said. Preaching the Good News must be done with "humility, service, charity, fraternal love," the pope said April 25 during his homily at a morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Martae where he lives. Some might respond, "'Lord, we must conquer the world.' That word 'conquer' just won't do," the pope said. "The Christian shouldn't be like soldiers who, when they win a battle, take away everything in sight." While aggression is not part of the missionary call of Jesus, courage is, the pope told staff members of the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and Vatican police officers attending the Mass. "A cowardly Christian doesn't make sense," he said. A generous heart and outgoing spirit are part of the Christian vocation, offering "always more" and moving "always forward." At the same time, he said, recognizing that one "preaches the Gospel with witness more than with words," a Christian also must have humility and treasure the little things.

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As Scots weigh independence, church won't tell Catholics how to vote

GLENELG, Scotland (CNS) -- At the center of this isolated seaside community, overlooked by shadowy mountains on the nearby Isle of Skye, local fishing folk tap their feet as traditional music echoes from the village inn. The BBC broadcasts in Gaelic here, and most youngsters have never been to Edinburgh, the Scottish capital 125 miles southeast, let alone to England. In the fall of 2014, Glenelg's residents will have a chance to express their identity when Scotland votes in a referendum on independence. If Scots opt for full independence, it will end a union going back four centuries. "Although the church won't be telling people how to vote, some bishops have indicated unofficially they'd have no problem with independence," Father Scott Deeley, assistant chancellor of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, told Catholic News Service. "Even after the 1707 Act of Union, which united Scotland and England, the Scots kept their own legal system as well as their own separate churches," he said. "So independence wouldn't make much practical difference to the lives of most Catholics." Since 1999, thanks to the devolution of powers, a national government and parliament have held sway in Edinburgh under a first minister appointed by Queen Elizabeth II. That arrangement set the stage for the referendum.

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French Catholics vow to try to block same-sex marriage law

PARIS (CNS) -- French Catholics have vowed to continue attempts to block a law allowing same-sex marriage, despite its passage by the National Assembly April 23. "We'll tell our president we don't care about the views of parliament and government -- we're against this foolish law," said Antoine Renard, president of France's National Federation of Catholic Family Associations. "MPs are well aware public opinion has been shifting against this law. So we must hope the head of state may still hold back because of the situation in the country," he said April 24. France's National Assembly voted 331-225 to enact the "Marriage for All" bill, which allows gay and lesbian couples to marry and adopt children. The legislation must be signed by President Francois Hollande to become law. However, the law has been appealed to the Constitutional Court, which must hear such appeals within a month. Renard said his federation had helped draft the Constitutional Court appeals and hoped they could still prevent Hollande from signing the legislation into law. He added that Socialist Party legislators had been denied a free vote on the bill, in violation of parliamentary rules, and said opponents were ready to take the issue to the European Court of Justice. "France often shows a lead to other countries, so we're worried many Europeans will now see homosexual marriage as an inevitability," Renard said. "We must now transfer the fight to the European institutions, making it clear to them that we don't want these gender theories imposed on us."

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U.N. talks on migration note similar as well as different visions

NEW YORK (CNS) - Addresses on migration by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, struck similar chords about the reasons for and problems of migration, while disagreeing about some solutions. In April 22 remarks to the U.N. Commission on Population and Development, Ban observed that migration is a fact of life in the globalized world. "It is not a question of whether to halt the movement of people across borders," Ban said. "That is impossible. The question is how we plan for such movements and make the most of them." In comments two days later in the five-day meeting, Archbishop Chullikatt lauded Ban for highlighting "the need to promote family reunification, integration of migrants, recognition of the qualifications of skilled migrant workers, new approaches to assist elderly migrants, cost reductions of sending remittances, as well as protection of female domestic workers and migrants in irregular situations, especially women and children vulnerable to sexual and labor exploitation, abuse and human trafficking." The session in New York came as the U.S. Senate held hearings on comprehensive immigration reform legislation, which addresses many of the issues raised in the secretary general's and the archbishop's remarks.

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Belgian bishops criticize women's water attack on archbishop

BRUSSELS (CNS) -- The Belgian bishops' conference criticized an attack on its president, Archbishop Andre Leonard of Mechelen-Brussels, during which he was soaked with water by half-naked women. Four bare-breasted protesters from the international FEMEN movement disrupted the April 23 evening debate at the Free University of Brussels, waving placards with the slogan, "Stop homophobia." The bishops said in an April 24 statement: "A democratic debate on society's questions is only possible if everyone is allowed to express their ideas in mutual respect and free expression. The attitude shown by these people totally lacks credibility and civic sense. It also completely contradicts the debate theme and the way the Catholic Church undertakes dialogue in a pluralist context." Press photos showed the 72-year-old archbishop sitting and praying as he was soaked by the women, who were later ejected by university guards from the debate, which was titled "Blasphemy: Offense or Freedom of Self-Expression?" In a Facebook message, FEMEN members said their action had been "directed against the homophobia of Archbishop Leonard," adding they would demand his dismissal for "spreading hatred and intolerance in our media and universities."

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Irish church's anti-abuse enforcer to take similar post in Australia

DUBLIN (CNS) -- The man responsible for ensuring robust procedures on handling abuse allegations in Ireland's Catholic Church will take up a similar post in Australia. Ian Elliott, chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, will leave his job this summer. He has been responsible for drawing up guidelines on the handling of abuse and monitoring their implementation in dioceses and religious congregations. "I have been invited to go work in Australia with the Catholic Church," he said. "They are interested in a review process and are learning from the Irish experience." An Australian royal commission is investigating the Catholic Church for decades of allegations of abuse, similar to inquiries that uncovered abuse and mishandling of allegations by church leaders in Ireland. Elliott's relationship with the hierarchy in Ireland has been marked by tension at times. In 2008, he described the handling of abuse allegations in the Cloyne Diocese as "inadequate and in some respects dangerous." That report eventually led to the resignation of Bishop John Magee, who was later severely criticized in a judicial report for his mishandling of claims of abuse. In 2011, Elliott revealed he had considered resigning over his irritation at a lack of church cooperation.


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