Ronald Ayers

Archive for the ‘Catholic News’ Category

Retiring Pope Benedict XVI in uncharted territory

In Catholic News, Religious News, World News on February 12, 2013 at 6:03 pm
English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By NICOLE WINFIELD, AP

 
For months, construction crews have been renovating a four-story building attached to a monastery on the northern edge of the Vatican gardens where nuns would live for a few years at a time in cloister.

 

Only a handful of Vatican officials knew it would one day be Pope Benedict XVI’s retirement home.

 

On Tuesday, construction materials littered the front lawn of the house and plastic tubing snaked down from the top floor to a cargo container. The restoration has become even more critical following Benedict’s announcement that he will resign Feb. 28 and live his remaining days here in prayer.

 

From a new name to this new home to the awkward reality of having a reigning pope and a retired one, Benedict is facing uncharted territory as he becomes the first pontiff in six centuries to retire.

 

The Vatican on Tuesday tried to quash any notion that Benedict aimed to pull strings behind the scenes. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a top spokesman, said Benedict will have no influence on the election of his successor.

 

“The pope will surely say absolutely nothing about the process of election,” he told reporters.

 

The 85-year-old Benedict said Monday he was stepping down simply because he simply no longer had the strength in mind or body to carry on. Lombardi on Tuesday also revealed for the first time that Benedict has had a pacemaker for years and had its battery replaced just a few months ago.

 

Although no date for a conclave to choose the next pope has been announced, it must begin within 20 days of his Feb. 28 retirement. That means a new pope will likely be elected by the College of Cardinals by Easter — March 31 this year.

 

The decision immediately raised questions about what Benedict would be called, where he would live — and how that might affect his successor.

 

The Vatican’s senior communications adviser, Greg Burke, said Tuesday the fact that Benedict had chosen to live in a monastery is significant.

 

“It is something that he has wanted to do for a while,” Burke said. “But I think it also suggests that his role is going to be a very quiet one, and that is important so you don’t have a situation of … two different popes at the same time, and one influencing the other.

 

“I think the obvious thing is when he says retirement, it really means retiring,” he said.

 

As for his name, Burke said Benedict would most likely be referred to “Bishop of Rome, emeritus” as opposed to “Pope Emeritus.” Lombardi also said Benedict would take some kind of “emeritus” title.

 

Other Vatican officials said it would probably be up to the next pope to decide Benedict’s new title, and wouldn’t exclude that he might still be called “Your Holiness” as a courtesy, much as retired presidents are often referred to as “President.” It was not clear whether the retired pope will retain the name Benedict – or revert to being called Joseph Ratzinger again.

 

Benedict had important unfinished business before his retirement: He has been widely expected to issue his fourth encyclical, concerning faith, before Easter. But Lombardi ruled out that the encyclical would be ready before his retirement.

 

Already, Benedict was changing his schedule to take into account his new circumstances. He had been scheduled to go to a church on Rome’s Aventine hill for the annual Ash Wednesday service this week starting the church’s Lenten season; the service will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome instead. Lombardi said a larger space was needed to accommodate the throngs expected to greet the outgoing pope – but observers suspect the Vatican may have also wanted to spare Benedict from the crowds along the hill.

 

Immediately after his resignation, Benedict will spend some time at the papal summer retreat in Castel Gandolfo, overlooking Lake Albano in the hills south of Rome where he has spent his summer vacations reading and writing. By March, the weather may start to warm up and he should be able to enjoy the gardens and feed the goldfish in a pond near a statue of the Madonna where he often liked to visit.

 

If he’s interested, he can do some star gazing; The Vatican Observatory is located inside the palazzo, complete with a telescope and a world-class collection of meteorites.

 

Lombardi said Benedict would eventually return to the Vatican and live at a monastery inside the Vatican gardens. Asked if he might like to go somewhere else, Lombardi said the pope would feel “much safer” inside the Vatican walls.

 

The Mater Ecclesiae monastery was built in 1992, on the site of a former residence for the Vatican’s gardeners. Pope John Paul II had wanted a residence inside the Vatican walls to host contemplative religious orders, and over the years several different orders would come for spells of a few years, said Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

 

The last such order of nuns left the residence in October, and renovation work began immediately afterward, Vian told AP. He said Benedict had decided to retire last April after his taxing but exhilarating trip to Mexico and Cuba in March.

 

“Many people thought they were doing the renovations for new sisters, but it was for the pope,” Vian said. He said only a few people knew of the pope’s plans, yet the secret didn’t get out.

 

“That shows the seriousness and loyalty of the few senior Holy See officials who were aware,” he said — a reference to the 2012 scandal over leaked papal documents by the pope’s own butler.

 

Benedict has visited the monastery, with its own chapel on the grounds, a handful of times over the years.

 

There’s a garden right outside the front door, where the nuns living there would tend to the lemon and orange trees as well as the roses, which are used in liturgical ceremonies or sent as gifts to the pope. No chemical fertilizers are used, just organic fertilizer sent straight from the gardens at Castel Gandolfo.

 

Source: Associated Press.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Vatican celebrates Knights of Malta’s 900 years

In Catholic News, General News, World News on February 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm

 

English: Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Squa...

English: Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s Square, Rome (2007). Polski: Papież Benedykt XVI podczas Audiencji Generalnej na Placu św. Piotra w Rzymie (2007). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By NICOLE WINFIELD, AP
 

The Knights of Malta, one of the most peculiar organizations in the world, marked its 900th birthday Saturday with a colorful procession through St. Peter’s Square, a Mass in the basilica and an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, himself a member of the onetime chivalrous order drawn from Europe’s nobility.

The Knights are at once a Roman Catholic religious order, an aid group that runs soup kitchens, hospitals and ambulance services around the globe, and a sovereign entity that prints its own passports and enjoys diplomatic relations with 104 countries — yet has no country to call its own.

Some 4,000 people — volunteers in neon orange civil protection suits, children in red berets and members each draped in a black cloak with a white, eight-pointed Maltese Cross on the front — processed through St. Peter’s Square and into the basilica for the Mass marking the 900th anniversary of the order’s recognition by the Holy See.

After the Mass, which was celebrated by the Vatican No. 2, Benedict came to the basilica for an audience during which he thanked the order for its service and urged it to continue providing health care for the world’s neediest while staying true to its Christian ideals.

The order’s work, he said, “is not mere philanthropy but an effective expression and a living testimony of evangelical love.”

The order traces its history to an 11th century infirmary in Jerusalem set up by a monk to care for pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. During the Crusades, as the order’s humanitarian efforts spread, it took on a military role to protect pilgrims and Christendom as a whole from Muslim attacks. In February 1113 Pope Paschal II recognized the order with a papal bull establishing its sovereign status by saying it was independent of both lay and other religious authorities.

During its heyday, would-be members had to prove nobility through all eight great-grandparents. Such requirements are now largely relaxed except in some European countries. Still, the order’s members are drawn from some of the world’s wealthiest Catholics, who fund its health clinics, homeless shelters and old folks’ homes in 120 countries and rally for special appeals when disasters strike.

Sixty of the 13,500 members are so-called “professed knights,” who make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and live like monks, albeit without being ordained priests.

The order’s international legal status is entirely unique, a sovereign entity that prints its own stamps, coins, license plates and passports, yet has no territory over which it rules. Its forces once occupied Cyprus, Rhodes and Malta, but Napoleon expelled the order from Malta in 1798, depriving it of the final patch of land ove it ruled.

Nevertheless, the order still enjoys many of the trappings of a small country: U.N. observer status and diplomatic relations with 104 countries, most of them in the developing world where such ties can smooth the delivery of humanitarian aid. But the United States, for one, has no relations, precisely because it’s a stateless state.

In his speech Saturday, Benedict affirmed the sovereign status that the order enjoys. He acknowledged its peculiar nature, saying the order’s guiding spirit “aims not to exercise power and influence of a worldly character, but in complete freedom to accomplish its own mission for the integral good of man, spirit and body … with special regard for those whose need of hope and love is greater.”

Source: Associated Press

 

 
 
 
 

‘Civil Disobedience’ Would Expose HHS Mandate ‘Tyranny”

In Catholic News, General News on February 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm
Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

 

Virginia’s Attorney General Advises Citizens to Risk Jail to Protest It 

 

By Brian Farga

 

RICHMOD, Va. – Citizens should defy the federal government’s contraceptive mandate, even to the point of going to jail, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said in a recent radio interview.

 

Cuccinelli, a Catholic who is running this year for governor of Virginia, told conservative Iowa radio host Steve Deace that civil disobedience would expose the “tyranny” behind the federal law that would compel religiously affiliated organizations and private businesses to cover contraception, abortifacients and sterilization in their employee health-insurance plans.

 

“My local bishop said he told a group, ‘Well, you know, I told a group I’m ready to go to jail.’ And I told him, ‘Bishop, don’t take this personally – you need to go to jail,” said Cuccinelli, one of the first state attorneys general to file a federal lawsuit against the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Carre Act.

 

Cuccinelli’s spokesman Brian Gottestein said the attorney general was not available for comment because of the busy state legislative session.

 

Cuccinelli spoke about the issue in a subsequent interview with the Washington Times.

 

“I’m certainly not advocating that people go to jail, but religious liberty is why a lot of people came to this country,” Cuccineli said. “If our government is driving so many people to be contemplating this kind of civil disobedience, I think there’s a good reason to double check and ask, ‘Have we gone too far here?”

 

A Spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declined to comment on his remarks, However the attorney general’s statements are in line with the March 2010 USCCB document that warned catholics to be prepared to engage in civil disobedience if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ contraceptive mandate was not rescinded.

 

“Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that obeying the laws may be justified,” the bishops wrote in the message, which was formatted for use as a parish bulletin insert. “Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience are, are at stake, we may need to witness the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.”

 

The bishops also cited a passage from Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” in which the civil rights leader noted St. Augustine’s proverb “An unjust law is no law at all.”

 

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York said in November that the Catholic Church would “not obey” the “immoral” mandate and that the Church was prepared for a lont-term fight.

 

Source: National Catholic Register

 

 

DC appeals court rules new contraception rule must be issued

In Catholic News, Health News, Political News on December 20, 2012 at 12:18 am
U.S Postage Stamp, 1957

U.S Postage Stamp, 1957 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Michelle Bauman

Religious freedom advocates applauded a federal appeals court’s decision to hold the government accountable for revising its controversial contraception mandate.

Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, called the decision “a win not just for Belmont Abbey and Wheaton, but for all religious non-profits challenging the mandate.”

“The D.C. Circuit has now made it clear that government promises and press conferences are not enough to protect religious freedom,” he said in a Tuesday statement responding to the ruling.

On Dec. 18, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals said that it will hold the government responsible for following through on its promises to issue a proposed revision of the federal contraception mandate for objecting religious organizations by March 2013.

The mandate requires employers to offer health insurance plans that cover sterilization and contraception, including some drugs that may cause early abortions. Exemptions to the mandate were only granted to a small number of religious employers that meet the government’s requirements of existing to teach religious values and primarily hiring and serving members of their own faith.

After a wave of protest from non-exempt individuals and organizations, the government announced a one-year “safe harbor” to delay the enforcement of the mandate against objecting non-profit religious groups. It said that it would create an “accommodation” for their religious freedom during this time.

However, critics have said that the early suggestions put forth by the Obama administration are inadequate. And while the plan for an accommodation was announced in February, the government has not yet issued its formal proposal with the details of the new rule, and its promise to create one was not legally binding.

More than 40 lawsuits have been filed against the mandate, drawing split rulings from district courts. Among for-profit businesses that are not protected by the safe harbor period, four out of six have been granted a preliminary injunction blocking the mandate from being enforced against them.

Several lawsuits filed by religious non-profit groups – including Belmont Abbey and Wheaton Colleges – were dismissed by district courts as premature because of the government’s promise to amend the mandate.

However, a federal judge in New York determined on Dec. 6 that a case by the local archdiocese was mature despite the government’s promise, noting, “There is no ‘Trust us changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”

In making its Dec. 18 decision, the appeals court observed that the government had said during oral arguments that it would “never” enforce the mandate in its current form against morally objecting religious institutions.

“There will, the government said, be a different rule for entities like the appellants,” the court noted, “and we take that as a binding commitment.”

The judges also pointed to the government’s statement that it would issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the new rule by the end of March 2013 and would publish the Final Rule before August 2013.

“We take the government at its word and will hold it to it,” they said, ordering the Obama administration to report back every 60 days on the progress of the accommodation. The colleges’ lawsuit will be postponed during this time. The ruling was hailed by supporters of religious freedom around the country.

Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for The Catholic Association, applauded the court for fighting the “disinformation” surrounding the mandate and showing the serious threat to religious freedom facing religious employers.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life and a graduate of Wheaton College, called the decision “a first step toward halting the anti-life coercion in the healthcare law.”

Duncan, who argued the case before the appeals court, explained that the decision offers hope to all of the religious plaintiffs throughout the country.

“The court is not going to let the government slide by on non-binding promises to fix the problem down the road,” he said.
Source: Catholic News Agency

Catholic Charities of Chicago lawsuit shows reach of HHS mandate

In Catholic News on July 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago has joined two Catholic dioceses and their charitable affiliates in a lawsuit over the federal contraception mandate, a move that one observer says demonstrates the potential societal impact of the rule. 

The charitable ministry “will lose its identity as Catholic unless the HHS mandate now in force as the recent law of the land is changed,” Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago said in a July 9 statement supporting the charity’s entry into a lawsuit against the federal government. 

Chicago’s Catholic Charities joins the Dioceses of Joliet and Springfield, and their respective Catholic Charities organizations, in challenging the Obama administration’s mandate.

promulated under the federal health care reform law, the rule requires religious employers to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing drugs in employee health plans.  

Catholic Charities cannot obtain an exemption from the rule because it serves Catholics and non-Catholics equally. The mandate exempts only those organizations that primarily employ and serve members of the same faith for the purpose of instilling “religious values.” 

Chicago’s Catholic Charities employs 2,700 staff. During 2011, their efforts provided approximately 2.5 million meals to the needy, over 450,000 nights of shelter to the homeless and displaced, and nearly 900,000 hours of service to the elderly. 

According to Wall Street Journal columnist Bill McGurn, these figures show the real-life impact of the mandate. “In terms of religious liberty, the new lawsuit breaks no new legal ground. What it does is offer a window into how much the decency of daily American life depends on churches using their free-exercise rights,” McGurn wrote in a July 9 column. 

At stake in the lawsuits, Cardinal George said, is the freedom of the Catholic Church and other religious groups to serve the public without violating their principles. 

English: Chicago 2011 Mayor Inauguration Openi...

English: Chicago 2011 Mayor Inauguration Opening Prayer by Cardinal George, Chicago, IL, May 16, 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“This is the issue now before a court. It is also the issue before a nation that portrays itself as the ‘land of the free,’” Chicago’s cardinal archbishop observed. 

“I am sorry that the intransigence of the Department of Health and Human Services has made it necessary to defend in court what every American could take for granted until this year,” he said.  

In a July 9 announcement about the lawsuit, Chicago Catholic Charities President and CEO Monsignor Michael Boland said the loss of religious freedom is “the sole matter at hand” in the challenge to the contraception mandate. 

Click to deleteThe priest took issue with the narrow exemption and its criteria, saying the Department of Health and Human Services “fails to understand that there is no distinction between our Catholic faith and our commitment to serve the needs of all people regardless of their religion.” 

“We support health care reform and efforts to expand access to health care to all Americans. But we oppose any policy that compels us to compromise our Catholic faith,” Msgr. Boland said. 

He noted that the mandate’s intrusion on religious groups “affects all religions and anyone of faith.” 

“We must take a stand, not only on behalf of Catholic Charities, but for all faith-based organizations,” the monsignor declared. “We must protect our right to serve all the poor, not just those HHS defines for us.” 

More than 50 plaintiffs, including several Catholic dioceses and their Catholic Charities affiliates, are now involved in 23 lawsuits against the contraception mandate. 

Source: Catholic News Agency

%d bloggers like this: