Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sat Nov 24th

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday that by elevating the patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldeans to the rank of cardinal he wished to express his spiritual closeness and affection for Iraqis.

By inducting Emmanuel III Delly into the College of Cardinals, "I intend to express in a concrete way my spiritual closeness and my affection for these people," the pope said at a Vatican ceremony creating 23 new cardinals.

"I think now with affection of communities entrusted to your care and, especially, to those most tried by suffering, challenges and difficulties of various kinds," he said.

"Among them, how can one not turn one's gaze with apprehension and affection, in this moment of joy, to the dear Christian communities in Iraq?" he asked, drawing loud applause from the prelates assembled in Saint Peter's Basilica.

"These brothers and sisters of the faith are experiencing in the flesh the dramatic consequences of a lasting conflict and live in a fragile and delicate political situation," he said.

Emmanuel III, the 80-year-old spiritual leader of Iraqi Christians, said Friday that the honour was for "all Iraqis."

"The title of cardinal that the pope has accorded me is not for my poor self alone but for all Iraqis, both those who still live in our tortured country and those who have emigrated," he told reporters.

"I will continue to serve Iraq and all the ethnic and religious groups of the country who should be united. I will serve my country, Iraq, to the last drop of my blood," he said.

Emmanuel III said Benedict had referred to his nomination as a "sign of reconciliation ... between Christians and all the Muslims, whether Sunni or Shiite."

The pope has repeatedly called for dialogue between Christians and Muslims to combat intolerance and violence.
Pope to release encyclical on hope

Published: Nov. 23, 2007 at 1:59 PM

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI's second encyclical, with the tentative title "Spe Salvi" or "Saved by Hope," reportedly focuses on Christian hope and modern philosophy.

Vatican Secretary of State Tarciscio Bertone announced that the pope will sign the document next week, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. Bertone did not say when the encyclical will be published.

The pope wrote the encyclical during the summer. He is reportedly working on a third, which will explore social themes.

Benedict's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est" or "God Is Love," was signed on Dec. 25, 2005, and published within a month. In it, he explored the relationship between eros or romantic and sexual love and agape or spiritual love.

Pope John Paul II published 14 encyclicals in 27 years.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I am seriously happy.

Pope revives Gregorian chant
Posted on : 2007-11-20

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 20 (UPI) Pope Benedict XVI is returning the Vatican to Gregorian chant, the medieval music that served the Catholic church for centuries.

The pope has named a new director of pontifical liturgical celebrations. He has also dropped Pope John Paul II's practice of using singers from Catholic churches around the world for the St. Peter's choir, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Benedict's leanings on forms of worship are conservative. Earlier this year, he gave churches more freedom to use the Tridentine mass, the Latin rite replaced by vernacular translations after Vatican II. In an address to the bishops and priests of St. Peter's, the pope called for "continuity with tradition" and talked about "the time of St. Gregory the Great," referring to the pope after whom Gregorian chant is named.

Monsignor Valentin Miserachs Grau, the director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, believes the entire church should return to Gregorian chance."

Due to general ignorance, especially in sectors of the clergy, there exists music which is devoid of sanctity, true art and universality," he said.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pope gets radical and woos the Anglicans
By Damian Thompson

Two and a half years after the name "Josephum" came booming down from the balcony of St Peter's, making liberal Catholics weep with rage, Pope Benedict XVI is revealing his programme of reform. And it is breathtakingly ambitious.

The 80-year-old Pontiff is planning a purification of the Roman liturgy in which decades of trendy innovations will be swept away. This recovery of the sacred is intended to draw Catholics closer to the Orthodox and ultimately to heal the 1,000 year Great Schism. But it is also designed to attract vast numbers of conservative Anglicans, who will be offered the protection of the Holy Father if they covert en masse.

The liberal cardinals don't like the sound of it at all.

Ever since the shock of Benedict's election, they have been waiting for him to show his hand. Now that he has, the resistance has begun in earnest - and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, is in the thick of it.

"Pope Benedict is isolated," I was told when I visited Rome last week. "So many people, even in the Vatican, oppose him, and he feels the strain immensely." Yet he is ploughing ahead. He reminds me of another conservative revolutionary, Margaret Thatcher, who waited a couple of years before taking on the Cabinet "wets" sabotaging her reforms.

Benedict's pontificate moved into a new phase on July 7, with the publication of his apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum.

With a stroke of his pen, the Pope restored the traditional Latin Mass - in effect banned for 40 years - to parity with the modern liturgy. Shortly afterwards, he replaced Archbishop Piero Marini, the papal Master of Ceremonies who turned many of John Paul II's Masses into politically correct carnivals.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was most displeased. Last week, he hit back with a "commentary" on Summorum Pontificum.

According to Murphy-O'Connor, the ruling leaves the power of local bishops untouched. In fact, it removes the bishops' power to block the ancient liturgy. In other words, the cardinal - who tried to stop Benedict issuing the ruling - is misrepresenting its contents.

Alas, he is not alone: dozens of bishops in Britain, Europe and America have tried the same trick.
Murphy-O'Connor's "commentary" was modelled on equally dire "guidelines" written by Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds with the apparent purpose of discouraging the faithful from exercising their new rights.

A few years ago the ploy might have worked. But news travels fast in the traditionalist blogosphere, and these tactics have been brought to the attention of papal advisers.

This month, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, a senior Vatican official close to Benedict, declared that "bishops and even cardinals" who misrepresented Summorum Pontificum were "in rebellion against the Pope".

Ranjith is tipped to become the next Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, in charge of regulating worldwide liturgy. That makes sense: if Benedict is moving into a higher gear, then he needs street fighters in high office.

He may also have to reform an entire department, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which spends most of its time promoting the sort of ecumenical waffle that Benedict abhors.

This is a sensitive moment. Last month, the bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a network of 400,000 breakaway Anglo-Catholics based mainly in America and the Commonwealth, wrote to Rome asking for "full, corporate, sacramental union".

Their letter was drafted with the help of the Vatican. Benedict is overseeing the negotiations. Unlike John Paul II, he admires the Anglo-Catholic tradition. He is thinking of making special pastoral arrangements for Anglican converts walking away from the car wreck of the Anglican Communion.

This would mean that they could worship together, free from bullying by local bishops who dislike the newcomers' conservatism and would rather "dialogue" with Anglicans than receive them into the Church.

The liberation of the Latin liturgy, the rapprochement with Eastern Orthodoxy, the absorption of former Anglicans - all these ambitions reflect Benedict's conviction that the Catholic Church must rediscover the liturgical treasure of Christian history to perform its most important task: worshipping God.

This conviction is shared by growing numbers of young Catholics, but not by the church politicians who have dominated the hierarchies of Europe for too long.

By failing to welcome the latest papal initiatives - or even to display any interest in them, beyond the narrow question of how their power is affected - the bishops of England and Wales have confirmed Benedict's low opinion of them.

Now he should replace them. If the Catholic reformation is to start anywhere, it might as well be here
Pope Warns Against Temptation of Euthanasia
Says Life Must Be Defended Against Culture of Death
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 18, 2007, (

Benedict XVI asked that the value of life be respected in the face of the temptation to euthanize the elderly sick, which he called a symptom of the culture of death.

The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving in audience participants in the 22nd international conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. The theme of the meeting, which was held last week in the Vatican, was on "The Pastoral Care of Elderly Sick People."

The Pontiff said to the audience of scientists, researchers, medical personnel and pastoral workers that "today's mentality of efficiency" views elderly sick people as "a 'burden' and a 'problem' for society."He added that euthanasia "appears as one of the more alarming symptoms of the culture of death that is advancing above all in the society of well-being."

"Those who have an understanding of human dignity, however, know that the elderly must be respected and supported while they face serious difficulties linked to their state," said the Holy Father.

Benedict XVI then recalled John Paul II, who in his "exemplary witness of faith and courage" in his illness exhorted scientists and physicians to never cede "to the temptation to have recourse to the practices of shortening the life of the elderly or the sick, practices that would in fact result in forms of euthanasia."

A gift of God"Man's life is a gift of God, which all of us are always called to protect," he said. "This must also involve health workers, whose specific mission is to be 'servants of life' in all its phases, especially in that phase marked by the fragility connected with infirmity."

For this reason, the Pope added, "a general commitment is necessary so that human life be respected not only in Catholic hospitals but in every place of care."Moreover, the elderly who are affected by incurable illnesses need palliative care that is able to mitigate the pain, the Holy Father said, in order to face "in a conscious and human way the last stage of earthly existence, to serenely prepare for death."

Pontiff continued: "In general it is opportune to do what is possible for the families themselves to welcome and with grateful affection take care of them so that the elderly who are sick can pass the last period of their life at home and prepare themselves for death in a climate of family warmth."

Benedict XVI said that this is important because "the sick need understanding, comfort and constant encouragement and accompaniment," as well as competent medical care."

May the sick person in the most difficult moments, supported by pastoral care, be encouraged to find strength to face his difficult trial in prayer and the comfort of the sacraments," said the Pope. "May he be surrounded by brothers in faith, disposed to listen to him and share his sentiments."

The Holy Father invited believers facing illness and death to "not to lose their serenity, because nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of Christ."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

800,000 Saved by Pius XII’s ‘Silence’

In response, to the controversy stimulated by The Deputy, Jewish historian Pincus Lapide researched the matter and concluded that as many as 800,000 Jewish survivors owe their lives to the pontiff's leadership.

Rolf Hochhuth's play The Deputy, had its world premier in Berlin in the year 1963. The Deputy is Pius XII, the “deputy” or vicar of Christ. The play was soon translated into English and imported to Broadway in New York City. The playwright contends that Pope Pius XII, when he was the sovereign pontiff of the Catholic Church, might have prevented deportations and the mass murder of so many Jewish people had he spoken out against the Nazi extermination camps. His “silence,” according to Hochhuth, was criminal, inhuman and cowardly.

The storm of controversy The Deputy generated and continues to generate is almost certainly the largest ever raised by a play in the history of drama. Hochhuth himself, an instant celebrity at age 31, added to the storm's intensity when he came to the United States in 1964 accompanied by an unusual amount of press and radio-TV coverage, together with a great outpouring of emotion.

In reviewing the play in 1964, The New York Times stated that its “facts may be in dispute; the history imperfect; the indictment too severe.” America condemned the play as “an atrocious calumny against the memory of a good and courageous world leader occupying the Chair of Peter during one of the great crises of humanity.” Cardinal Francis Spellman called the play “an outrageous desecration of the honour of a great and good man, and an affront to those who know his record as a humanitarian who love him and revere his memory:”

In response to the play's contention that the pontiff was criminally responsible for the death of countless Jews, Jewish historian Pincus Lapide set to work researching the matter. The result was his book, Three Popes and the Jews, in which he defended Pius XII. According to Lapide, as many as 800,000 Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust owe their lives to the pontiff's leadership.

The pope may have been silent, but he was not inactive. In order to be effective in assisting the Jews, he had to act surreptitiously. Had he been too outspoken, he most likely would have invited swift and severe retaliation from both the Fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany. When Hochhuth was asked in an interview whether the pope should have protested publicly, granted that his opposition would have retaliated, his answer was categorical: “Absolutely.”

In The Pope and the Holocaust, researchers John Bader and Kateryna Fedoryka provide evidence that both Pope Pius XI and XII were targeted by Hitler because of their pro-humanity efforts which included stern repudiations of anti-Semitism. It was only too clear that the pope could be most helpful if he remained alive and acted covertly. It is now well known how nearly all Catholic convents in Europe were hiding Jews and that the Vatican was instrumental in forging thousands of documents, especially in southern France, to facilitate their emigration.
The pope was involved in the systematic work done by nuncios throughout Nazi-occupied Europe of enlightening the heads of governments in Catholic countries about the true and murderous meaning of the word “resettlement.”

The Jewish community has not been silent about what Pius XII did for his persecuted brethren. In October 1945, the World Jewish Congress made a financial gift to the Vatican in recognition of the work the Holy See performed in rescuing Jews from Fascist and Nazi persecutions. Dr. Israel Goldstein of the same World Jewish Congress said, on the occasion of Pius XII's death, “The Jewish community told me of their deep appreciation of the policy which had by the pontiff for the Vatican during the period of the Nazi-Fascist regime to give shelter and protection to the Jews, whenever possible.

Hochhuth and his supporters alleged that Pope John XXIII would have acted differently had he been the pope instead of Pius XII. They cited with admiration Roncalli's (John XIII's surname) rescue record as apostolic delegate in Istanbul. But Roncalli never failed to point out that the reportedly heroic things he did then were done with the approval and even on orders from the Vatican.

The glib way in which thoughtless or uninformed writers condemn Pius XII for his “silence” is a good example of the very propaganda and prejudice that the Nazis themselves exemplified in spreading their doctrine of anti-Semitism.

The “data smog” of endless sound-bites and factoids that our information superhighway supplies often clouds reality. Education is not the mere accumulation of information, but an integrated and often complex understanding of how things really are or truly have been. One cannot begin to take steps to eradicate prejudice by exchanging an old prejudice for a new one. Factoids travel faster than truth. This itself is a truth that cannot be ignored in the continuing fight against prejudice.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

From Times Online

Pope seeks dialogue with non-Catholic Christians
Richard Owen in Rome November 1, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI is to hold an extraordinary consistory of cardinals later this month to promote ecumenical dialogue with non-Catholic Christians.

The gathering of 202 cardinals from 67 countries will take place on the eve of the consistory on November 24, convened by the Pope to create 23 new cardinals. The debate on ecumenism will be led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. It follows the Vatican's dialogue with Orthodox leaders at Ravenna last month and an inter-faith conference at Naples attended by the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury and organised by the Community of Sant' Egidio.

The Pope's choice of new cardinals has reinforced the European and American presence among voting-age members of the College of Cardinals. Ten are from Europe, so that Europeans now make up half of the 121 conclave voters.

New American cardinals are Archbishop John Foley, Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and former head of Social Communications at the Vatican, and Archbishop Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the first cardinal from a Texas diocese. This gives the United States 13 under-80 cardinals.

By contrast there are only two archbishops from Latin America on the list, one from Brazil and one from Mexico, even though Latin America has the world's largest Catholic population and many had expected a Latin American to be elected Pope after the death of John Paul II. Both Mexico and Brazil will now have four under-80 cardinals.

After the consistory, the global breakdown of voting-age cardinals will be 60 from Europe, 21 from Latin America, 16 from the United States and Canada, 13 from Asia, nine from Africa and two from Oceania. The Pope's emphasis on the West is seen as a reflection of his concern over shoring up the faith in Europe and the US in an age of secularism.

Most media attention at the time of the announcement however went to the appointment of the Iraqi Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel-Karim Delly, 80, a sign of the Pope's his concern for the sufferings of the Christian population of Iraq. The Pope said the new cardinals "reflect the universality of the church with its multiple ministries."

The naming of Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, as a cardinal led to some speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might pay a visit to Ireland, including the North. The late John Paul II stopped in Ireland in 1979 on his way to the United Nations, visiting both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

A year ago Archbishop Brady invited Pope Benedict to make a similar visit, and some Vatican diplomats see a possible visit by the pontiff to the UN next April as offering an opportunity. "The British and Irish governments are known to support a papal visit to Ireland, and Archbishop Brady is in very good standing with the Irish Protestant community" said Gerard O'Connell, an expert in Rome on Vatican affairs. "His receipt of a red hat gives him extra leverage in persuading the Pope to add Ireland to his travel schedule".

Pope Benedict has repeatedly praised the peace process in Northern Ireland, observing that it offers "a witness to the world". Archbishop Brady's elevation means Ireland will now have three cardinals for the first time in its history, with Dr Brady joining Cardinal Cathal Daly and Cardinal Desmond Connell.

Some Vatican watchers had expected the Pope to give the red hat to Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin. But others said Monsignor Martin - who previously served in Vatican posts for thirty years - had only held the Dublin post for three years. He succeeded Monsignor Desmond Connell amid allegations of paedophile scandals among clergy in the Dublin diocese, which are still under investigation.

At his weekly audience on Wednesday, held in heavy rain, Pope Benedict urged Christians to live as good citizens, paying their taxes, sharing with the poor and working for political policies that promote justice and peace. He referred to St. Maximus, the fourth century bishop of Turin, noting that the Barbarian invasions at the end of the Roman Empire forced early Christian leaders to become civic leaders when social structures collapsed.

These "obligations of the believer toward his city and nation" remained valid, the pontiff said. St. Maximus had not only worked to increase Christians' sense of patriotism, but also preached their "precise responsibility to pay their financial dues, however heavy and unpleasant they may seem. His homilies reflect a growing awareness of the responsibility of Christians to promote a just social order grounded in solidarity with the poor".
Pope plans Yonkers visit

Pope Benedict XVI will meet with youth at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, celebrate Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral and Yankee Stadium, pay his respects at Ground Zero and address the United Nations during his first papal trip to the U.S. in April.

Extensive planning for the trip to Washington, D.C., and New York has been under way for months, with advance teams visiting several locations in New York. Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, revealed the details yesterday in Baltimore at the start of the annual fall meeting of U.S. bishops.

Sambi said the pope would visit Ground Zero to show "solidarity with those who have died, with their families, and with all those who wish an end of violence and in the search of peace."
Benedict's April 15-20 trip will be right on time to help celebrate the 200th birthday of the archdioceses of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville, Ky., all of which were created in 1808.

The pope is scheduled for a visit St. Joseph's - known throughout the Catholic world by its Yonkers address, Dunwoodie - on the afternoon of April 19. He will meet with youth and seminarians and celebrate that day his third anniversary as pope.

Pope John Paul II visited the seminary on the late afternoon of Oct. 6, 1995, during his most high-profile American trip, and urged several hundred seminarians from across the region to deliver the full Christian message to their future parishes.

"It's humbling that a pope is coming back to Dunwoodie," said the Rev. Gerard F. Rafferty, chairman of the Scripture Department at St. Joseph's. "It is a great blessing for the church of New York, the church of the United States, that the chief shepherd is coming after some of the crises we've gone through. We at the seminary are thrilled he is coming back for any part of the visit."

Benedict has been to Yonkers before. On Jan. 27, 1988, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he visited Dunwoodie with Cardinal John O'Connor to address an academic conference.

Monsignor William Smith, who has taught moral theology at St. Joseph's for more than three decades, thought the 1995 papal visit to Dunwoodie would be one-of-a-kind.

"I said it was the last time that something like this would happen," Smith said.
It appears that he was wrong.

Benedict XVI will celebrate his 81st birthday while in Washington on April 16, and he is not nearly as enamored with travel as his predecessor. So it's possible that this will be his only visit to New York - or perhaps the United States.

He is expected to arrive in Washington on April 15 and to be formally greeted at the White House the next day. While in Washington, he will address the nation's Catholic bishops, Catholic educational leaders and an unspecified interreligious gathering.

On April 18, he will address the United Nations General Assembly, the centerpiece of the entire trip, and host an ecumenical meeting at a Manhattan church. The following day he will celebrate Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral for priests, deacons and religious orders, and then visit Dunwoodie in the afternoon.

On the April 19, he will celebrate Mass at Yankee Stadium. Tickets probably will be distributed through parishes.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, archbishop of Boston, openly campaigned for the pope to visit his city and help it heal from its disastrous sex-abuse scandal. But Boston did not make the final itinerary because of Vatican concerns about the pope's stamina.

New York will experience its fourth papal visit. Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit the U.S. when he came to New York in October 1965. John Paul II came twice, in October 1979, when he was still an unknown to many, and in 1995, when he was at the height of his traveling evangelist powers.

Time will tell how Benedict, an erudite theologian who has the ability to speak and write plainly, will connect with New Yorkers.

For the Archdiocese of New York, which has been struggling to draw seminarians to replace its aging priests, Benedict's visit to Dunwoodie promises to be the best possible marketing campaign.

The Rev. Luke Sweeney, director of vocations for the archdiocese, said that when he first heard months ago of a planned papal visit to New York, he asked Cardinal Edward Egan to put in a plug for a stop at Dunwoodie.

"For him to visit the seminary will highlight some young men who are preparing to give their lives completely to God and his service," Sweeney said. "For him to come to Dunwoodie will highlight the priesthood in the Archdiocese of New York and give people an opportunity to see inside a place they would not otherwise know much about."

Security, of course, will be tremendous for Benedict. Those without tickets or credentials should not expect to get close to any papal event. Faculty members at St. Joseph's Seminary still joke about the extent of Secret Service precautions for John Paul II's visit, and that was before Sept. 11.

Monsignor Francis McAree, pastor of St. Gregory the Great Church in Harrison, who was rector of St. Joseph's for the 1995 visit, said it was a lot of work but well worth it.

"Logistically, it was everything involving the Secret Service, a lockdown, the securing of the property, everything," he said. "There was a lot to do. But everyone will be extremely happy to hear the words of the pope. Certainly, it is a tremendous honor for the seminary."

When Ratzinger visited Dunwoodie in 1988 as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he gave a talk about the study of Scripture.

"He gave an outstanding address on the nature of Scripture scholarship," McAree recalled. "Many of the things he said there can be found in his present book 'Jesus of Nazareth.' "

Also during his stop in Yonkers, a maple tree was planted in his honor on the seminary grounds. On April 19, the pope is likely to stop and see how tall it's grown.

The papal itinerary for 2008 visit

An outline of Pope Benedict XVI's first American trip, as released yesterday by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States:-

April 15: Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Washington, D.C.-

April 16: The pope, on his birthday, is welcomed at the White House and addresses the U.S. bishops in the afternoon.-

April 17: The pope celebrates Mass at the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium, meets with Catholic educational leaders at Catholic University, and attends an interreligious meeting at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington.-

April 18: Now in New York, the pope addresses the United Nations in the morning and attends an ecumenical meeting in the afternoon.-

April 19: On the third anniversary of his pontificate, Benedict celebrates Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in the morning and visits St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers during the afternoon to meet with youth and seminarians.-

April 20: The pope visits Ground Zero in the morning and celebrates Mass at Yankee Stadium in the afternoon. He returns to Rome in the evening.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Catholic bishops instruct voters
Religion Writer
Wed Nov 14th

Roman Catholics voting in the 2008 elections must heed church teaching when deciding which candidates and policies to support, U.S. bishops said Wednesday.

And while the church recognizes the importance of a wide range of issues — from war to immigration to poverty — fighting abortion should be a priority, the bishops said.
"The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," the bishops said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops overwhelmingly adopted the statement, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," as they ended the public sessions of their fall meeting.
The document does not recommend specific laws or candidates, and it emphasizes that "principled debate" is needed to decide which policies best promote the common good.
But "that does not make (moral issues) optional concerns or permit Catholics to dismiss or ignore church teaching," the bishops said.

American bishops have been releasing similar recommendations for Catholics before every presidential election since 1976. However, in recent years, some independent Catholics groups have been distributing their own voter booklets.

Among them are Priests for Life and California-based Catholic Answers, which distributed material on five "nonnegotiable" issues: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and same-sex marriage. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, which formed last year, issued a guide emphasizing church teachings on war, poverty and social justice.
But the bishops urged Catholics to only use voter resources approved by the church.

The document makes clear the broad concerns in Catholic teaching that make it difficult for parishioners to feel fully comfortable with either the Democrats or Republicans.

The bishops say helping the poor should be a top priority in government, providing health care, taking in refugees and protecting the rights of workers, and the bishops highlight the need for environmental protection.
However, they also oppose same-sex marriage, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research, in addition to their staunch anti-abortion position.

The prelates say torture is "always wrong" and they express "serious moral concerns" about "preventive use of military force." But at the last minute Wednesday, they added a sentence acknowledging "the continuing threat of fanatical extremism and global terror."

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press.

A minority of the U.S. public ( 38%) expresses the view that Pope Benedict XVI is doing an excellent or good job at promoting good relations with other major religions; nearly half (46%) of US adults who have heard at least a little about the pope say he is doing only a fair or poor job at this in a recent Pew poll. Catholics themselves are divided ideologically over the pope’s performance in fostering ties with other religions: 63% of self-identified conservative Catholics say the pope has done well in promoting good interfaith relations, but just 50% of moderate Catholics and 45% of liberal Catholics agree. People who have heard at least a little about Pope Benedict are in general agreement about the pope’s own ideological leanings: 56% say he is either very conservative (20%) or conservative (36%); 17% say the pope is a moderate, while just 5% view him as a liberal. And among Catholics, fully 68% say Pope Benedict is a conservative.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI will make his first visit to the United States as pontiff next year, and plans to visit the White House, ground zero and speak at the United Nations, the Vatican's ambassador said Monday.

Pope Benedict XVI will visit the United States from April 15 to 20.

Benedict will travel to Washington and New York from April 15 to 20, speak at the United Nations on April 18 and visit ground zero on the final day of his trip, Archbishop Pietro Sambi said.

The pope will visit the site of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York to show "solidarity with those who have died, with their families and with all those who wish an end of violence and in the search of peace," Sambi said.

The visit will take place on the third anniversary of Benedict's election to succeed Pope John Paul II, who died in April 2005.

An official welcome reception for Benedict will be held at the White House on April 16, Sambi said. The pontiff will celebrate two public Masses, first at the new National Stadium in Washington on April 17, and again at Yankee Stadium on April 20.

He will also hold meetings with priests, Catholic university presidents, diocesan educators and young people.

"The pope will not travel much, but he will address himself to the people of the United States and the whole Catholic Church," Sambi said.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In first meeting, pope, Saudi king speak of cooperation
Boston Globe - Elisabeth Rosenthal

ROME - Pope Benedict XVI and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia clasped hands at the Vatican yesterday in a cordial meeting, the first meeting ever between a pope and the Saudi monarch, who is entrusted to protect Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed and center of the Islamic world.

ROME - Pope Benedict XVI and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia clasped hands at the Vatican yesterday in a cordial meeting, the first meeting ever between a pope and the Saudi monarch, who is entrusted to protect Mecca, the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed and center of the Islamic world.

The pair met for half an hour, speaking through interpreters, in a conversation that a Vatican press release later said had covered such themes as the "value of collaboration between Christians, Muslims, and Jews for promoting peace" and "the necessity of finding a just solution" of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Marco Politi, the Vatican correspondent for La Repubblica and a biographer of Pope John Paul II, said, "I think it is extraordinarily important that an official communique from the Vatican and an important Islamic state like Saudi Arabia mentions 'cooperation' between Christians, Muslims, and Jews - not dialogue but cooperation."

The meeting, presaged by an upbeat front-page story in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's official newspaper, was also a clear attempt by the Vatican to repair damage done by the pope's earlier statement on Islam, which had been seen as insensitive if not incendiary in the Arab world.

In a speech in Regensburg, Germany, a little over a year ago, Benedict quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who called Islam "evil and inhuman." The comment led to protests in Islamic nations and prompted some Islamic states to recall their ambassadors to the Vatican. Firebombers attacked churches in the West Bank and Gaza, gunmen killed an Italian nun in Somalia, and the pope himself was threatened. The Vatican expressed "deepest regrets" but said the remark had been misinterpreted in a way that "absolutely did not correspond" to the pope's intentions.

The article in the Vatican newspaper seemed to open the door for a new diplomatic initiative toward Islam and the Middle East. It said that the meeting with Abdullah was "of great importance," noting: "In a world where the boundaries have become day by day more open, dialogue is not a choice but a necessity."

The article also acknowledged that some weeks ago Benedict had received a letter from 138 Islamic religious leaders from 43 nations, appealing for more dialogue between Christians and Muslims. As the weeks went by with no response, some scholars here had complained that the pope seemed slow to address an important appeal.

The Vatican allayed those fears yesterday.

Official statements issued yesterday made no mention of establishing diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Saudi Arabia, and it was not clear that that topic had even been discussed.

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Saudi king's historic Vatican visit comes amid tension
Sunday November 4, 07:33 AM

Rome, Nov 4 (DPA) When Saudi King Abdullah arrives in Rome Tuesday he may wish to take a break from his schedule, including a historic meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, for a quiet moment of prayer at the city's central mosque, Europe's largest Muslim house of worship.

In the highly unlikely event of Benedict visiting Saudi Arabia, there the pontiff would not find a single church to pray in. The kingdom prohibits all public religious displays that are not Islamic and routinely refuses clerics from other faiths entry into the country.

Rome's central mosque, reportedly built for more than $50 million largely donated by Saudi Arabia's former king Fahd, stands on a hilltop overlooking a city, which is the centre of the Roman Catholic world. The mosque was inaugurated in 1995 in a ceremony attended by representatives of the Catholic, Jewish and Buddhist faiths.

'Reciprocity is what we hope for, precisely because we permit the Saudi Arabians to have a place of worship here,' Cardinal Francesco Colasuonno, the then Papal Nuncio or envoy to Italy who attended the inauguration, was quoted as saying at the time.

'It is necessary to take account of the needs of Christians there' in Saudi Arabia, he added.
Twelve years on and those words still ring true for the Vatican, which continues to lament the lack of religious freedom in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the site of two of its holiest sites, Mecca and Medina.

While no precise figures exist on the religious denomination of the some eight million mostly Asian and African foreign guest workers in the kingdom, according to the Philippines government, some 90 percent of the 1.2 million Filipinos who form part of this contingent are Catholic. Christians, like other non-Muslims, are not only denied places of worship but also face arrest if found in possession of religious books and symbols.

Last month, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who as president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue is the Vatican's top official for dealing with Islam, reiterated what he said was the Holy See's willingness to reach out to Muslims.

Without specifically mentioning Saudi Arabia with which the Vatican does not have formal diplomatic relations, he also suggested something was expected in return.

'In a dialogue among believers, it is fundamental to say what is good for one is good for the other. For example, we must explain to the Muslims that if they can have mosques in Europe, it is normal that churches can be built in their countries,' Tauran was quoted as saying in an interview with the French Catholic newspaper, La Croix.

Tuesday's scheduled meeting in the Vatican, the first between a pope and a Saudi monarch - a position that carries the Islamic title, Custodian of the Holy Sites - is important for its symbolism, according to Mario Scajola who heads the Italian branch of the Saudi-based World Muslim League.

The meeting, which comes at the behest of Abdullah, is an example of his 'illuminated reign', said Scajola, a former Italian ambassador to Saudi Arabia who converted to Islam in 1987. Since the king succeeded to the throne in Aug 2005 following the death of his half-brother Fahd, he has introduced reforms including elevating women to important positions in the business and diplomatic fields, Scajola said.

This is in a country where women are not allowed to drive and are only granted legal status through their husbands or a male relative.

But an accord on non-Muslims practicing their faith in Saudi Arabia, 'where this is banned but tolerated in practice', Scajola insisted, was 'difficult' he said, referring to the possible outcome of the meeting between Benedict and Abdullah.

'It is not for me to tell the Saudi king what he should do, but in accordance with the teachings of the Quran I am personally in favour of religious freedom,' Scajola said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity a Catholic priest who says he has visited Saudi Arabia clandestinely said Tuesday's scheduled meeting was 'pretty remarkable'. However, he believes the talks would not have a major impact on conditions faced by Christians in Saudi Arabia where non-Muslim religious services are also prohibited from being held inside foreign embassies.
'When we tell the Saudis: 'Look, we allow you to build a mosque in Rome, why won't you allow us to build churches in Saudi Arabia?' the standard reply is: 'Yes, but that would be like building a mosque in the Vatican,'' the priest said.

Still, whatever practical objectives Abdullah's visit to the Vatican achieves, it offers Benedict an opportunity to be seen engaging in dialogue with a top representative of Islam, the world's second largest religion after Christianity.

The pope opened a wound in Sep 2006 during a trip in his native Germany when during a speech he appeared to associate Islam with violence, sparking protests, in many cases violent, by Muslims around the world.

The pontiff has since somewhat made amends. First by stating that his words had been misinterpreted and that he meant no disrespect to Muslims, then by a visit last November to Turkey where he stopped to pray in Istanbul's main Blue Mosque becoming the second pope after John Paul II to enter a Muslim house of worship.

On Tuesday he may have another chance to show the world his intention to heal relations with Islam.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Pope's 'morning after pill' speech criticised
Politicians and pharmacists in Italy responded angrily on Tuesday to an appeal by Pope Benedict for pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs such as the "morning after pill" if they object on moral grounds.
Posted: Friday, November 2, 2007, 9:57 (GMT)

VATICAN CITY - Politicians and pharmacists in Italy responded angrily on Tuesday to an appeal by Pope Benedict for pharmacists to refuse to dispense drugs such as the "morning after pill" if they object on moral grounds.

The Pope told an international conference on Monday that pharmacists should be guaranteed the right to conscientious objection in cases where medicines they distribute can block pregnancy, provoke abortion or assist euthanasia.

Health Minister Livia Turco said that while the Pope had the right to urge young people to be sexually responsible, he could not tell professionals such as pharmacists what to do.

"I don't think his warning to pharmacists to be conscientious objectors to the morning after pill should be taken into consideration," she told daily Corriere della Sera.

Benedict did not mention any specific drugs but appeared to refer to the morning after pill, which can stop ovulation if taken within about 72 hours of sexual intercourse. It is available only by doctor's prescription in Italy.

He also referred to RU-486, the so-called abortion pill, which is available on an experimental basis in some Italian hospitals. It blocks the action of hormones needed to keep a fertilised egg implanted in the uterus.

Franco Caprino, head of pharmacists' professional group Federfarma, said that by law pharmacists had to distribute medicine prescribed by a doctor.

"We can't be conscientious objectors unless the law is changed," he said.

While some politicians defended the Pope's right to speak his mind and the right of pharmacists to be conscientious objectors, others criticised him.

"The Pope's appeal to pharmacists to refuse to sell the morning after pill is a very heavy interference in politics and Italian life," said Lidia Menapace, a senator of the Communist Refoundation party.

The Church teaches that artificial birth control, abortion and euthanasia are wrong. It holds that nothing should block the possible transmission of life, which it teaches starts at conception and ends at natural death.

Italian media interviewed pharmacists who are practicing Catholics. Some said they were obliged to put aside their personal beliefs and sell the prescribed medicine, while others said they preferred to ask a colleague to do so.

The morning after pill, sometimes referred to as emergency contraception, has stirred controversy in other countries such as the United States, where some forms are available to those aged 18 and over without a prescription.

U.S. family planning groups support such wider access, but conservative and religious groups have argued that easy availability of the pill promotes promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases among teens and others.

Last August, President George W. Bush said he supported restricting access to emergency contraception for minors.

In February, Chile allowed girls aged 14 and over the right to the morning after pill free of charge and without parental consent after a bitter debate that pitted the government against the Catholic Church.

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters.


Pharmacists shouldn’t have choice in selling contraceptives
November 2, 2007By Chris Heide

While addressing an international conference of Catholic pharmacists Monday, Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholic pharmacists to refused dispensing medications that have "immoral purposes such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia," according to the Associated Press.

He argued that pharmacists have a duty to protect the lives of humans from conception until natural death. This includes all drugs that would inhibit normal human life.

Although this speech doesn’t have any legal implications that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill certain prescriptions, such as emergency contraception, it would have problematic implications if the pope’s advice were followed and that type of behavior was deemed socially acceptable within the United States.

Thankfully, many international pharmacists and health professionals reacted angrily in response to the pope’s plea.

However, the issue of pharmacists wielding insurmountable power over their patrons has hit close to home.

Within the past few years, several cases dealing with a pharmacist’s refusal to fill a prescription have arisen in the United States.

In July 2007, several Washington pharmacists “filed a federal lawsuit over a regulation requiring them to sell emergency contraception, saying it violates their civil rights by forcing them into choosing between ‘their livelihoods and their deeply held religious and moral beliefs,’” according to the AP.

A pharmacist’s responsibility to his or her customer must trump his or her personal values. Clearly, this is an issue that should have been put to bed several years ago, but the Pope has managed to reopen old wounds.

Few people would appreciate a dose of morally superior advice from a pharmacist when they go to pick up a prescription. A person’s autonomy over his or her own body is sacrosanct. It must be protected from interference by both church and state.

If a drug is approved by the FDA and prescribed by a doctor, then a person has a legal right to obtain and consume that drug. A pharmacist’s refusal to fill a prescription could put the lives of his or her customers at risk.

Many conservative religious groups link the accessibility of birth control with sexual promiscuity and an increased rate of contraction of sexually transmitted diseases among teens and young adults.

And just as a Catholic pharmacist may find abortion morally repugnant but has no legal right within the United States to impose those beliefs on others, he or she has no right to inhibit the sale of the day after pill.

Livia Turco, the Italian health minister, responded that while the pope has the right to urge young people to be sexually responsible, he cannot tell professionals such as pharmacists what to do, according to Reuters.

Reuters also reported that last August President George W. Bush said he supported restricting access to emergency contraception for minors.
Sexual promiscuity is a problem with teenagers in the United States. However, restricting access to birth control options such as emergency contraception does not prevent teenagers from having sexual intercourse. It simply makes them less prepared and definitely less safe while having sex.

While it is a compromise, we all have to realize that if you are going to have sex, then have safe sex. While not everyone agrees with such safe-sex education, pharmacists should not be able to toy with a person’s ability to decide. A pharmacist voluntarily chooses his or her profession and must perform all aspects of the job.

A person certainly is entitled to his or her moral beliefs and should be applauded for defending them. However, if pharmacists feel that their moral objections would prevent them from performing all aspects of the job, then they should simply quit.

The pope’s suggestions would incite something of an illegal coup in this country. Religious freedom is a fundamental aspect of the first amendment. To refuse to fill a prescription for deep religious values would be to impose those values on other citizens.

This is different than pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for their personal beliefs, because normal citizens have no other alternatives to obtain their meds. This would violate the first amendment and would therefore be unconstitutional.

Let’s hope that the pope’s suggestion never becomes a legal reality in our country.

[Reach columnists Chris Heide at]
Comments on this article:
Lee Smith - 11/02/07
Chris Heide's opinion piece carries pro-abortion newspeak to absurd, new extremes. Agreeing with Italian health minister Livia Turco that the pope has no right to urge pharmacists to follow their consciences, Heide appeals to "choice" to argue against the right of pharmacists to choose life and against the right of the head of the billion-member Catholic Church to encourage such a choice. In stating, "A pharmacist’s responsibility to his or her customer must trump his or her personal values" Heide also stretches to new lengths the insidious claim first made by JFK and now used by virtually every US Catholic politician to excuse the abandonment of the teaching of his or her faith in the public arena. Heide now wants this despicable formula to cover all professionals, not just elected officials. Posing as an apostle of "choice," Heide asserts that pharmacists should have no choice but to obey a "responsibility to their customers" that mandates assisting a mother in killing her unborn child. In Robert Bolt's play, A Man for All Seasons, when Cardinal Wolsey chides Thomas More for "obstruct[ing] those measures [to obtain a divorce for Henry VIII] for the sake of your own personal conscience," More replies: Well ... I believe, when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties ... they lead their country by a short route to chaos." But Heide can rest easy because in this country and in Europe - already in chaos - most Catholics, unlike More, who was ready to face prison and death for his faith, agree with society at large rather than their church in approving of abortion.

Joel Pierce - 11/02/07
This may display my ignorance, but how is a pharmacist deciding to not provide a certain product because they find it immoral, different from a clothing shop deciding not to sell sweatshop produced clothes or a coffee shop only selling fair trade coffee? If we are willing to let merchants make moral decisions about their products in other arenas, why are pharmacists not allowed to?

Joel Pierce - 11/02/07
That being said, I think if a pharmacist works for a hospital or other institution, it seems right that the institution should be able to fire a pharmacist for not providing the drug, just as Walmart should be able to fire an employee for refusing to stock the shelves with sweatshop produced clothes.

Joel Pierce - 11/02/07
As to Heide's claim that pharmacies are somehow different (and again I may be displaying my ignorance), because they are the only place patients can obtain the required drugs, I am guessing that in any given town their probably exists more than one pharmacy and probably not all of them are run by strictly observant Catholics. If this is not the case and people will really not be able to get access to the drug, might I suggest Heide and others like him engage in reasoned debated and campaign to sway the moral reason of pharmacists instead of arguing for the suppression of that reason in the workplace. Such efforts might be difficult, but I believe that Heide must agree that an approach biased toward protecting the free use of a people's moral faculties, even when it is inconvenient for the rest of us, is preferable in a free society.

Brad - 11/02/07
If a pharmacist owns his own establishment, I can understand his right not to dispense medicines that conflict with his moral beliefs, as the above example of not stocking sweatshop-produced clothing or only selling fair trade coffee illustrates. If they work for someone else though, I don't think they should be shielded from the consequences of their decisions - they shouldn't be protected from being fired for their refusal to dispense such products. It's part of the job, if you don't like it, find another. It's just like the multiple incidents at the Minneapolis (I think) airport where individuals of the Muslim persuasion refused to transport passengers carrying alcohol. It's part of the job - if you don't like it, find another.

Peter Einwaller - 11/02/07
The Pope's recommendation is already a legal reality in our country: each person has the freedom and liberty to provide a service to whomever they choose to; this is a fundamental liberty. It sounds like you would like to compromise the real "choice" of a citizen just like a marxist would - you must do whatever insane thing the state might determine you should do. Can you say "secular progressive brainwashing".

Joel Pierce - 11/02/07
On a separate point, Heide's analogy concerning abortion seems to be a bit fallacious. While it's certainly true that a Catholic pharmacists, or more the point Catholic doctors, do not have the right to stop someone from having an abortion, they do have the right (or at least should) to not participate in that action. Finally, just to clarify what I believe the Pope's position is (in accordance with Humanae Vitae): the Pope is opposed to not only the morning after pill, but also all forms of contraception. This is different from the standard Protestant pro-life (or anti-choice, however one wishes to label it) position and one needs to be careful not to conflate the two.

Stefaan C Hublou - 11/03/07
Hello people; I have read with great interest Heide's article and the coments made. I am happy and impressed by the quality of this discussion thread. These viewpoints have enriched my thinking on te Pope issuing moral Calls and on the difficult moral and existential problem of different ways people use to enable themselves to enjoy affection and sexual intercourse without leaving open the (Super)Natural effect of the woman becoming a mother and both people assuming their role to become a father and a mother (again)...As a historian with an autodidactical knowledge on natural history and (evolutionary) biology, I would like to add the perspective that Mother Nature/The Creator seems to make a big difference between a fertilized egg and a creature that has reached maturity; the former are usually much less protected and thus inbued with value (out ot the one million fertilized Salmon eggs, only a couple of adult fish stay alive after one year) then individuals that are of a higher degree of refinement and complexity like (sub)adult Bonobo's. These fellow creatures are protected by groupmembers as well by their own skills against the dangers that always seem to lure around the corner in this World..

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pope says pharmacists have right to conscientiously object to fill emergency contraception
Women's Health News - Wednesday, 31-Oct-2007

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday at the 25th International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists in Rome told attendees that they have a right to conscientiously object to dispensing drugs such as emergency contraception, which can prevent pregnancy if take up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse, the AP/ reports (Winfield, AP/, 10/29).

Conscientious objection is a "right that must be recognized for your profession so you can avoid collaborating, directly or indirectly, in the supply of products which clearly have immoral aims" -- such as abortion and euthanasia -- Benedict said (Reuters, 10/29).

He also encouraged pharmacists to inform patients on the ethical implications of taking such medications. "Pharmacists must seek to raise people's awareness so that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death and so that medicines truly play a therapeutic role," he said (AP/, 10/29). He added, "It is not possible to anesthetize the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short a person's life" (Reuters, 10/29).

Benedict's remarks "resonated strongly" among Italian pharmacists, who are required to fill prescriptions regardless of their moral or ethical beliefs, according to Federfarma, the national federation that represents 15,500 private pharmacists, the AP/ reports. The federation in a statement said that the country's law would need to be amended to allow for conscientious objection but noted that such a change would be hard to apply because pharmacists could object to dispensing basic contraception or other hormonal medications.

The International Pharmaceutical Federation, which represents pharmaceutical associations worldwide, has a code calling for the continuity of service "in the event of conflict with personal moral beliefs." However, Henri Manasse -- Federfarma's professional secretary -- said the group is updating its standards because new medications constantly introduce new moral issues (AP/, 10/29).
Pope says pharmacists have right to conscientiously object to fill emergency contraception
Women's Health News - Wednesday, 31-Oct-2007

Pope Benedict XVI on Monday at the 25th International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists in Rome told attendees that they have a right to conscientiously object to dispensing drugs such as emergency contraception, which can prevent pregnancy if take up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse, the AP/ reports (Winfield, AP/, 10/29).

Conscientious objection is a "right that must be recognized for your profession so you can avoid collaborating, directly or indirectly, in the supply of products which clearly have immoral aims" -- such as abortion and euthanasia -- Benedict said (Reuters, 10/29).

He also encouraged pharmacists to inform patients on the ethical implications of taking such medications. "Pharmacists must seek to raise people's awareness so that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death and so that medicines truly play a therapeutic role," he said (AP/, 10/29). He added, "It is not possible to anesthetize the conscience, for example, when it comes to molecules whose aim is to stop an embryo implanting or to cut short a person's life" (Reuters, 10/29).

Benedict's remarks "resonated strongly" among Italian pharmacists, who are required to fill prescriptions regardless of their moral or ethical beliefs, according to Federfarma, the national federation that represents 15,500 private pharmacists, the AP/ reports. The federation in a statement said that the country's law would need to be amended to allow for conscientious objection but noted that such a change would be hard to apply because pharmacists could object to dispensing basic contraception or other hormonal medications.

The International Pharmaceutical Federation, which represents pharmaceutical associations worldwide, has a code calling for the continuity of service "in the event of conflict with personal moral beliefs." However, Henri Manasse -- Federfarma's professional secretary -- said the group is updating its standards because new medications constantly introduce new moral issues (AP/, 10/29).