Vol. 16 No. 19
September 10 - 23, 2012
Caritas increases aid as refugees ood out of Syria
ROME, Italy, Sept. 9, 2012—Cari-tas Internationalis is ramping upits efforts to help the growingnumber of Syrian families whohave fled the conflict in theirhomeland.“Within Syria, Caritas isdistributing food,” said LauraSheahan of Caritas told CNA.“It’s been a little hard in termsof cooked food because it’s dif-cult to even get fuel in Syria,but we’re providing things likesandwiches. Meanwhile, BoyScouts are distributing some ofthe food in places like Aleppoand Homs.”Caritas Internationalis is theCatholic Church’s confederationof charitable and developmentagencies. Overall, it is helpingmore than 13,000 Syrians af-fected by the present crisis. Thearmed revolt against PresidentBashar al-Assad of Syria, whichbegan in March 2011, shows nosign of abating.“In Jordan, we are provid-ing a number of services: food,medical care, things like dia-pers and blankets. So, Cari-tas Jordan is providing theseemergency items to familieswho have just shown up inthe country with nothing,”explained Sheahan.“In Lebanon, we’re also pro-viding things like food and blan-kets, but also we have a sort ofroving medical van. The doctorgoes around in this big white vanand takes care of Syrian refugeechildren.”The United Nations refugeeagency estimates that nearly250,000 Syrians have now edto the neighboring countries of Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon andIraq. Meanwhile it is thoughtthere are more than 1.2 millioninternally displaced people inSyria, with 2.5million in need ofhumanitarian assistance.Sheahan recently visited bothLebanon and Jordan to witnessthe Syrian refugee crisis firsthand. There she found “familieswho had basically ed for theirlives.”“They were fleeing bombs,shootings in the streets, sniperattacks. These were people whofor months had been hiding intheir houses afraid even to goout for groceries, even doing thatwas hard. They were keepingtheir kids home from school.”“Finally,” she said, “they justgave up and realized that theywere in danger” and so “by bus,by car or even on foot they wentto neighboring countries likeLebanon and Jordan.”Behind the statistics and lo-gistics, Sheahan said she alsofound many individual storiesthat brought home the personaltragedy of the present situationfor thousands of Syrians.At the Caritas Center in Jordanshe met a Syrian woman with abadly wounded leg.“Her neighbor had gone outto get milk for her family. Shehad wanted to go out and getmilk. Her neighbor said, ‘No,it’s too dangerous.’ He got shotby a sniper and when she wentout to help him, she was shot.She survived, he didn’t.”
UK Abortion Law criticized as Paralympics come to an end
LONDON, Sept. 4, 2012—James Parker,Catholic coordinator of the 14th SummerParalympic Games, called on Christians andall who value human life to challenge leadersand politicians to change Great Britain's “dis-criminatory and outdated abortion laws.”Parker serves as the rst ever lay Catholicchaplain to serve at the games. He madethis call in a pre-recorded interview withVatican Radio.As the Paralympic Games draw to anend, Parker spoke of his time working withthe Games and directly with some of theathletes. “My own experience of the Para-lympic Village, the heavily guarded hometo all the athletes and ofcials alongside theOlympic Park, is that it is a sacred place,”he said.Saying that while the village is strewn withwheelchairs, crutches, bodies of every shapeand size, there is “a vibrant tangible passionfor life, that not even the greatest town orcity could boast.”“The joy in the Village is palpable,” hesaid. “It is a place where everyone is cel-ebrated and honored whether a medallistor not, and each person is in service oftheir neighbor. I am constantly remindedof the words of St. Lawrence when, inthe year 258, he was commanded by theEmperor Valerian to bring to him theChurch’s treasury. Days later he broughtbefore the Emperor the poor, crippled, andmaimed and stated: ‘Behold the jewels ofthe Church!’ He was then martyred forsuch a simple action.”Speaking about the lead up the Games,Parker mentioned that “we see the word‘Superhumans’ on our billboards and yetParalympians are no different to any otherhuman being.”“What is astounding is that Britainis enabling the eyes of the world to beopened to the giftedness and potential ofthose with disabilities through its host-ing of the Paralympic Games. However,its own laws vehemently and shockinglydiscriminate against any new life in thewomb that might possibly be affected bya physical handicap, genetic problems ora mental defect.”Parker also noted that in conversationswith a number of Paralympians during thegames, he was astonished to discover thatmany didn't realize that had they or theirteammates been conceived today in Brit-ain, they would most likely be aborted. “IfBritain wishes to retain its place towardsthe head of the medals table at future Para-lympic Games in decades to come then itneeds to seriously consider changing itslaws to stop discriminating against whatis presently termed as an ‘unacceptablequality of life.' Games aside, any societythat wishes to be healthy needs to increas-ingly value disability and non-disabilityequally,” he said.“The Christian community needs as awhole, along with others who share ourbeliefs on the dignity of human life, tocontinue to take the lead and, like St. Law-rence, to stridently work towards changingBritain’s discriminatory and outdated abor-tion laws,” Parker concluded. “If this issueis not addressed as we wave goodbye to theParalympic Games from our shores, then itis hard to imagine when another opportunityof this sort will pass our way when Britishsociety and the world as a whole is celebrat-ing the incredulous achievements of thosewith disabilities.”
Cardinal Dolan prays for life, religious liberty at DNC
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 7,2012—Cardinal Timothy Dolan’snal benediction at the Demo-cratic National Convention onThursday night called for bless-ings on the delegates, asked Godfor the “courage” to defend lifeand prayed for the renewal of “aprofound respect for religiousliberty.”“Bless all here present, andall across this great land, whowork hard for the day when agreater portion of your justice,and a more ample measure ofyour care for the poor and suffer-ing, may prevail in these UnitedStates,” the Archbishop of NewYork said Sept. 6. “Help us tosee that a society’s greatness isfound above all in the respectit shows for the weakest andneediest among us.”At the close of a conventionwhere many speakers had stressedsupport for legalized abortion, thecardinal prayed that God bless“those waiting to be born,” as wellas the sick and the elderly.Cardinal Dolan also touchedon the controversy caused bythe Obama administration issu-ing a rule that will require manyCatholic institutions and secularbusinesses to pay for healthplans that cover contraception,sterilization and abortion-causingdrug, regardless of their beliefs.In his prayer, the cardinalcalled respect for religious lib-erty “the rst, most cherishedfreedom bequeathed upon us atour Founding.”He also prayed for guidance forPresident Obama, Vice President Jo-seph Biden, Congress, the SupremeCourt and President Obama’sRepublican political rivals.“Make them all worthy to serveyou by serving our country,” hesaid. “Help them remember thatthe only just government is thegovernment that serves its citi-zens rather than itself.”He thanked God for life andliberty, saying happiness isfound “only in respecting thelaws of nature and of nature’sGod.” He asked God for help inresisting the temptations to “re-place the moral law with idols”or to “remake those institutionsyou have given us for the nurtur-ing of life and community,” anapparent reference to attemptsaimed at redening marriage.Cardinal Dolan asked God toremember those who are not free,those who are poor, unemployed,needy, sick or alone, and thosewho are persecuted for their re-ligion or are suffering war.“And most of all, God Al-mighty, we thank you for thegreat gift of our beloved coun-try,” the cardinal said.The benediction was largelysimilar to the cardinal’s prayerat the close of the RepublicanNational Convention in Tampa
Cardinal Timoty Dolan givs t closing prayr att 2012 DNC Dmocratic National Convntion.
Iraqi archbishop: make Christian survival focus of papal meeting
KIRKUK, Iraq, Sept. 7, 2012—Iraqi Archbishop Louis Sako ofKirkuk has asked the Catholicpatriarchs and bishops of theMiddle East to speak with PopeBenedict XVI about their fearsthat the survival of Christianityin the region is at risk.“The patriarchs and the bish-ops should go beyond the for-malities to speak directly andopenly with him about theirfears and concerns. We shouldmake clear our worries and thechallenges ahead,” the arch-bishop told Aid to the Churchin Need on Sept. 4.Christian leaders will meetwith the Pope in Lebanon duringhis Sept. 14-16 visit.“The rise of political Islamis a matter of worry,” he said.“We Christians are a minorityand there is no prospect of usgaining equal citizenship in theconcrete reality of day-to-day lifeand there is no vision of a betterfuture.”“Everyone is speaking of de-mocracy and freedom but thereality on the ground is differ-ent,” he explained.The archbishop said “sectari-anism” is rising and the major-ity population is not caring forminority groups.There are “real fears” that moreChristians will leave, he reported.The Christian exodus shows nosigns of stopping in Iraq, wheremore than half of the Christianpopulation has left. The trend ofChristians leaving their homeshas spread to other countries inthe Middle East like Syria.The archbishop recounted theviolence against Christians inIraq, which peaked after the U.S.overthrow of President SaddamHussein’s government in 2003.Dozens of churches have beenbombed in the country, whileChristians have been targeted forkidnapping and murder.He said it is difcult for himto encourage the faithful in hisdiocese to stay. There are “few”families left.“I am doing my best to keepthem, defend them and encour-age them. That has limited theproblem but it is sad to see themleaving for good,” he wrote. “Asa pastor, I feel bad.”He said the policy of the Iraqistate is “based on Islam,” whichmeans Christians “feel they aresecond-class citizens.”As for the Catholic hierarchyin the country, it has “becometired” and is “sometimes di-vided.” There are “no reforms ordynamism” inside the churches.“The good news of JesusChrist should have a dynamicdimension. So where are thereasons for hope, the reasons for joy as given in our teaching?”he asked.The archbishop called fora development of a “Chris-tian Arab theology” that canproclaim God’s word to ArabChristians and to those who arenot Christians. This would helpArabs discover “God’s love andpaternal presence” in a way thatenhances dialogue.
Arcbisop Louis Sako
Cardinal Zen and Jimmy Lai at demonstration against Beijing’s ‘patriotic’education for Hong Kong
HONG KONG, Sept. 8, 2012—Cardinal Jo-seph Zen and the entrepreneur Jimmy Laiwere among the most prominent gures tohave participated in huge demonstrationyesterday evening calling for the cancellationof a program for “national education” (or“patriotic”) in Hong Kong's schools.An avalanche of protesters poured into thearea of Admiralty, near the seat of governmentand Tamar barracks occupied by the garrisonof soldiers of the liberation army from main-land China. According to the organizers, therewere at least 120 thousand people, police sayat 21:30 (local time), there were about 36 thou-sand demonstrators. But the ow of peoplewas such that it invaded other neighborhoodsclose to Admiralty. Participants wore black T-shirts or black armbands, a sign of mourningfor the freedom of education.The “national education” project consistsof a number of hours that every class mustdedicate to lessons in the history of China'sgreat achievements, all thanks to the Com-munist Party in Beijing. Ample space mustbe given to the economic development ofthe motherland, but these lessons will nottouch on topics such as human rights, theTiananmen massacre, religious freedom orthe controversial and violent history of theChinese Communist Party.Cardinal Zen has always been an oppo-nent to this “education”, describing it as aform of “brainwashing.” In addition to theCardinal and Jimmy Lai, one of Hong Kong'sleading gures in the democratic movementMartin Lee Chu-ming, was also present.Tens of thousands of demonstratorsgathered around the 12 young students ona one day hunger strike in front of the seatof government. Students, parents, teachers,trade unionists, politicians and even businessowners are opposed to the inclusion of thesehours of false “patriotism.”The government does not seem to want toback down from its decision, but has inviteda delegation of students and parents to par-ticipate in discussions with ofcials on theimplementation of the program. Howeverstudents and teachers are willing to boycottthese lessons in forced “patriotism.” Oneschool in Sha Tin, that had decided to startthe courses of “national education” after lastnight's event, decided to cancel them.The campaign is also growing in otherparts of the world, thanks to immigrantsfrom Hong Kong. A group in London has de-cided to a rally today outside the Territory'srepresentative ofces in the British capital.Previously, Cardinal Zen had told AsiaN-ews that Beijing fears the free education thatis widespread in Hong Kong and has madecontrol over schools one of the priorities ofits project for the former British colony. Thisproject is also part of the launch of an orga-nizing committee in every school, that willbe controlled by the government and removereplace the educational institutions thatmanage the schools, including the CatholicChurch.
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Aug. 30. However,his prayer at theDemocratic gath-ering was moreexplicit about theneed to defendlife.His prayer at theRepublican gath-ering referencedimmigration in al-luding to “familiesthat have come re-cently ... to builda better future while weavingtheir lives into the rich tapestryof America.” He prayed for “allthose who seek honest labor”and thanked God for the “spiritof generosity to those in need.”Both prayers asked God tomake those in public ofce wor-thy to serve their country andstressed the need for a govern-ment that “serves its citizensrather than itself.”
Eco-friendly pope mobile delivered to Benedict XVI
On Sept. 5, the Holy Father received two Renault battery-powered vehicles, made expressly for the Pontiff and thestaff at his service. Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, director ofthe Vatican press ofce, recalled some of the salient passagesabout the commitment of the Catholic Church to care for theenvironment and renewable energy. “The Holy See already hasother electric cars. In particular, the Holy Father made use ofone during his pastoral visit to Venice and Arezzo, and on theoccasion of last Ash Wednesday, from Sant’ Anselmo to SantaSabina. Moreover, Paul VI Hall is equipped with photovoltaicpanels,” Father Lombardi commented.
Ecumenical Seminar concludes in Castel Gandolfo
“Today, the concepts of truth and intolerance have almostfused together, so that to say that one has the truth becomessynonymous with intolerance. And we Christians do not dareto believe or to speak about the truth.” These are BenedictXVI’s words from Sunday’s homily at a Mass marking theconclusion of a gathering of his former students, Sept. 2. Thegroup was dedicated to exploring ecumenical dialogue withLutheranism and Anglicanism. The annually-held seminar,this year focused on “Ecumenical outcomes and questions inthe dialogue with Lutheranism and Anglicanism,” is a summersession traditionally held by former students of Benedict XVI(known as the “Ratzinger Schulekreis”).
Pope praying for politicians
Benedict XVI will be praying this month for politicians andtheir sincerity. The Apostleship of Prayer announced the inten-tions chosen by the Pope for September. His general intentionis “that politicians may always act with honesty, integrity,and love for the truth.” And the Pontiff’s mission intentionfocuses on the poorest Churches: “that Christian communitiesmay have a growing willingness to send missionaries, priests,and lay people, along with concrete resources, to the poorestChurches.”
Vatican Museums visitors happy priests are present
A month-long pilot project to make priests available within theVatican Museums to offer spiritual counseling to visitors is beinghailed a success. “There are so many themes that are spoken of.We might speak of art and faith or of economics and faith. Somepeople come to share their experiences or difculties in their per-sonal, professional or family lives,” said Father Isaac Vondoame,one of two priests who were available in the museums throughoutAugust. “The most special experience I’ve had is that a womancame to up to me to confess after many, many years. After herconfession, she began crying. She found Jesus Christ in one wayor another, also here, in this place,” he added.
Religion’s role in Arab Spring is promoting dignity, ofcial says
Religious communities can assist the North African andMiddle Eastern pro-democracy movements by upholdinghuman dignity and not trying to claim power for one religionor one movement within a religion, a senior Vatican ofcialsaid. Comboni Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary ofthe Pontical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, representedthe Vatican at a conference in Istanbul Sept. 7-8 on “The ArabAwakening and Peace in the New Middle East: Muslim andChristian Perspectives.” He told participants at the conference,sponsored by Marmara University in Istanbul, that democracypresumes respect for human rights, including the right tofreedom of religion and worship.
Misreading of Vatican II led to ‘collapse’ in Mariandevotion, studies
Devotion to Mary “collapsed” in some parts of the UnitedStates after the Second Vatican Council even though the coun-cil fathers had upheld her critical place within the Catholicfaith, said a leading American expert in Marian studies. Thecouncil’s decision to integrate a draft text on Mary into a largerdogmatic text—“Lumen Gentium”—rather than publish it asa separate document—sent an unintended message to the restof the church, Holy Cross Father James Phalan, president ofthe Mariological Society of America, said in a presentation atan academic conference in Rome. Even though bishops feltMariology, like the church as a whole, needed to be renewedin light of tradition, liturgy and the Bible, later an “overly ratio-nalist” historical approach reduced the role of the Holy Spiritand marginalized most forms of devotion, Phalan said.