Vol. 12 No. 8
April 14 - 27, 2008
CBCP MonitorCBCP Monitor
Pope promises to “doeverything possible” toheal scandal of sex abuse
Catholics should confront Socialist “culturalrevolution”, says Spanish archbishopPresident Bush pulling out all stops to welcome the Pope
Polish bishops seek return of John Paul II’sheart to PolandMuslim cleric proclaimsRome will soon beconquered by IslamBishops’ Conference calls for an end to violencearound the Madhu Shrine
Tamil Nadu: A thousand DalitChristians reconvert to Hinduism
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, April 15,2008—While in transit to the United Statestoday, Pope Benedict XVI took the opportu-nity to respond to the clergy sexual abusescandal in the Catholic Church, saying thathe will do “everything possible to heal thiswound” and that he will work to ensurepedophiles don’t become priests.The Pope’s words were part of answers hegave to questions submitted in advance byreporters aboard Shepherd One, a specialAlitalia airliner that is ferrying him to theUnited States.“It is a great suffering for the Church in theUnited States and for the Church in generaland for me personally that this could hap-pen,” Benedict said. “It is difficult for me tounderstand how it was possible that priestsbetray in this way their mission ... to thesechildren.”“I am deeply ashamed and we will do whatis possible so this cannot happen again in thefuture,” the pope said.Benedict XVI also said he was determinedto prevent pedophiles from becoming priestsin the Roman Catholic Church.“We will absolutely exclude pedophilesfrom the sacred ministry,” Benedict said inEnglish. “It is more important to have goodpriests than many priests. We will do every-thing possible to heal this wound.”Pedophilia is “absolutely incompatible”with the priesthood,” Benedict said.The Catholic Church in the United Stateshas been hit particularly hard on the EastCoast by the sex abuse scandals, and thePope’s visit could serve as a key step in thehealing process for the Church.The Holy Father also spoke about how hesees this, his first visit as Pope to the U.S.He described his visit as a voyage to meeta “great people and a great Church.”When the Pope lands at Andrews Air ForceBase at 4 p.m. EST, President Bush will givehim the honor of picking him up at the base.On board the plane, the Pope also said thatwhen he meets with President Bush tomor-row, he will discuss immigration and the dif-ficulties of families who are separated byimmigration.
ROME, April 11, 2008—Polishbishops are trying to have Pope John Paul II’s heart extracted andmoved to the Polish cathedralwhere the Pope served as cardi-nal, AKI News reports.Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek,speaking to the Polish Catholicnews agency KAI, said that manyPoles wanted the exhumed heartto be sent as a relic to the WawelCathedral in Krakow.Since his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II’s burial site in thecrypt of St. Peter’s Basilica hasbeen venerated by thousandsdaily.Pope Benedict XVI, the presentPontiff, has waived the ordinaryfive-year waiting period requiredbefore investigations begin intoPope John Paul’s cause for beati-fication.At a Mass last week commemo-rating the death of his predeces-sor, Pope Benedict praised JohnPaul II’s “many human and su-pernatural qualities,” including“an exceptional spiritual andmystical sensibility.”
“When jihad becomes an indi-vidual duty, it applies to womentoo, because women do not dif-fer from men when it comes toindividual duties,” he said in a June 23, 2007 interview. Al-Astalalso called Jews “the brothers ofapes and pigs” who should “tastethe bitterness of death” in the in-terview.The parliamentarian returnedto this slur on Friday, saying thatRome “has planted the brothersof apes and pigs in Palestine inorder to prevent thereawakening of Islam.”“I believe that our children, orour grandchildren, will inheritour jihad and our sacrifices, and,Allah willing, the commandersof the conquest will come fromamong them,” Al-Astal said.“Today, we instill these goodtidings in their souls—and bymeans of the mosques and theKoran books, and the history ofour Prophets, his companions,and the great leaders, we preparethem for the mission of savinghumanity from the hellfire atwhose brink they stand.”
CNA STAFF, April14, 2008—A highprofile Muslim clericand Hamas memberof the Palestinianparliament gave asermon last Friday inwhich he declaredthat soon Rome, “thecapital of the Catho-lics” will be soonovertaken by Islam.Yunis al-Astal, thecleric in question,told his listeners that “Very soon,Allah willing, Rome will be con-quered, just like Constantinoplewas, as was prophesized by ourProphet Muhammad. Today,Rome is the capital of the Catho-lics, or the Crusader capital,which has declared its hostilityto Islam…”The diatribe was aired onHamas’ Al-Aqsa TV and pre-dicted that Rome would become“an advanced post for the Islamicconquests, which will spreadthough Europe in its entirety, andthen will turn to the two Ameri-cas, even Eastern Europe.”“Allah has chosen you for Him-self and for His religion,” al-Astaldeclared, “so that you will serveas the engine pulling this nationto the phase of succession, secu-rity and consolidation of power,and even to conquests throughda’wa and military conquests ofthe capitals of the entire world.According to FOX News, Al-Astal preached last June that itwas the duty of Palestinianwomen to martyr themselves bybecoming homicide bombers.MADRID, Spain, April 15, 2008—ArchbishopEmeritus Fernando Sebastian of Pamplona saidCatholics in Spain should confront the “culturalrevolution” that is being carried out by the So-cialist Party in the country by proclaiming God.In an interview on COPE radio, the arch-bishop said, “Today in Spain Catholics needto be aware that we are capable of sustaininga face-to-face discussion with the message ofthe culture of the Socialist party which is seek-ing to promote a cultural revolution. “We arenot the opposition party,” he said, “but ratherthe Church of Jesus.”“Fortunately our faith does not depend onpolitics,” he continued. Politicians must be “putin their place” and not be allowed to legislatewhatever they want.“The world is governed by the principle ofpleasure,” and in order to confront it and livein the truth we must realize that “we do notexist alone, but rather we exist in the world.”This problem, he said, has its origin in the“non-recognition of God.”Archbishop Sebastian said, “We need to pro-claim God, to recover the notion of creation. Idon’t understand how one can be happy with-out having global vision.”
honoring the Pontiff.Until this visit, the Associated Press reports,no president has given a visiting leader thehonor of picking him up at the airport.The White House arrival ceremony for thePope will feature the anthems of the UnitedStates and the Holy See, a 21-gun salute, andthe U.S. Army Drum and Fife Corps. Bothmen will deliver remarks before they meetin the Oval Office.The expected welcoming ceremony crowdof 12,000 will be the largest ever at the WhiteHouse, exceeding in number the 7,000 peoplewho came to greet Queen Elizabeth II lastspring.Though the White House dinner will fea-ture Bavarian-style food for the German-bornpontiff, the Pope will miss the dinner andinstead attend a prayer meeting with theUnited States Catholic bishops.President George W. Bush, speaking in aninterview with EWTN, explained the reasonsfor his novel airport tarmac greeting of thePope.“One, he speaks for millions,” the presi-dent said. “Two, he doesn’t come as a politi-cian; he comes as a man of faith; and Three, Iso subscribe to his notion that there’s rightand wrong in life, that moral relativism un-dermines the capacity to have hopeful andfree societies. I want to honor his convic-tions, as well.”The president also described himself as a“believer in the value of human life.”Since President Dwight Eisenhower’s meet-ing in Rome with Pope John XXIII, every U.S.president has met with the Pope at least once.Pope Benedict’s visit will mark PresidentBush’s fifth meeting with a pontiff, a newrecord.While Pope Benedict and President Bushshare some common ground regarding abor-tion, homosexual marriage, and embryonicresearch, they have disagreed on the war inIraq and the death penalty. Pope Benedicthas also spoken against punitive immigra-tion laws and the U.S. embargo against Cuba,while favoring social welfare programs inways that differ from the positions of theAmerican president.
WASHINGTON DC, April, 2008—PopeBenedict’s visit to the White House onWednesday will be only the second time aPope has visited the home of the President ofthe United States, the Associated Press re-ports.In an unprecedented move, President Bushwill drive out to meet Pope Benedict’s planeafter it lands at Andrews Air Force Base. Thepapal visit will bring an audience of 12,000to the South Lawn of the White House, wherethe president will host an East Room dinnerWhat is more, the HMK is alsoplanning to re-convert another20,000 Christians in Villupuramdistrict, starting next August.Caste discrimination prevailsamong Christians in TamilNadu. Last 9 March in the parishof Eraiyur, Pondicherry-Cuddalore archdiocese, clashesbetween upper caste Christiansand lower Dalit Christians ledto police intervention, resultingin the death of two people. Thesituation is such that the twogroups have separate cemeter-ies and, in church, separate pews.Pope John Paul II urged TamilNadu bishops during their ‘adlimina’ visit of 17 November2003 to overcome this division.On that occasion the HolyFather said: “Any semblance ofa caste-based prejudice in rela-tions between Christians is acountersign to authentic humansolidarity, a threat to genuinespirituality and a serious hin-drance to the Church’s missionof evangelization. Therefore,customs or traditions that per-petuate or reinforce caste divi-sion should be sensitively re-formed so that they may be-come an expression of the soli-darity of the whole Christiancommunity. As the Apostle Paulteaches us, ‘if one member suf-fers, all suffer together’ (1
12:26). It is the Church’s obliga-tion to work unceasingly tochange hearts, helping allpeople to see every human be-ing as a child of God, a brotheror sister of Christ, and thereforea member of our own family.”
NEW DELHI, India, April 14,2008—A thousand Dalit Chris-tians were reconverted to Hindu-ism today, the 117th anniversaryof the birth of BhimraoAmbedkar, the messiah of theDalits, in the town of Tirunelveli(Tamil Nadu).Arjun Sampath, president of theHindu Makkal Katchia (MMK), alocal political party, announcedthat “185 Christian Dalit familiesfrom villages in Tirunelveli dis-trict will formally return to Hin-duism.”The function involved anatonement ritual (prayaschithayagam) followed by a purifica-tion rite (sudhi chadangu).“We’ll purify all those who re-turn to Hinduism by sprinklingGanga theertha (Ganga water)and Sethu theertha (sethuwater),”Arjun said, adding thatall of them would also get sacredHindu names as well.Those who want to follow theShiva (Saiva) cult will be givensacred ash (bhasmam) and a stringof dark berries of elaeocarpusganitrus (rudraksha).Followers of Vishnu will get amark on their forehead (tilak) anda string of holy basil (tulsi).All Christian Dalits who returnto the Hindu fold will get a for-mal initiation (mantra deeksha)in both Sanskrit and Tamil.Indeed a statement of faith isnot enough for the HMK. “Themembers who return to Hindufold will take an oath [. . .] andsign affidavits. Later, we’ll get theconversion certificates from AryaSamaj to get their names changedin the Gazette,” Arjun said.COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, April 14,2008—Security is getting worsearound the Marian Shrine ofMadhu as clashes between Tamilseparatists and the army con-tinue. At the same time requestsfrom the Catholic Church for anend to violence and for respectfor this “haven of peace” con-tinue.In the wake of the recent ap-peal by Msgr. Rayappu Joseph,bishop of Mannar, the CatholicBishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka(CBCSL), which met on 9-11 Aprilto discuss the situation, made itsown appeal to both governmentand Tamil rebels.In a statement signed by theCBCSL Secretary general, Msgr.Vianney Fernando, the bishopsreiterated the importance theshrine has for the entire popula-tion, whatever their ethnicity orreligion, and called on thebelligerents to prevent furtherdamages to the sacred building.Last 4 April for security reasonsMonsignor Rayappu ordered thetransfer of the venerated statueof Our Lady of Madhu to thechurch of Thevanpitti, which isin area under the control of theLiberation Tigers of Tamil Elam(LTTE)The decision has fed the rumormill which claimed that the prel-ate had the statue moved as a re-sult of rebel pressures.The CBCSL has denied the alle-gations, stating that the prelateacted for the best. Thevanpitti, itsaid, was the parish closest to theshrine, adding that “the sacred fig-ure will return to the shrine assoon as security made it possible.”On 7 April Monsignor Rayappurenewed the request he made toPresident Rajapakse and LTTEleaders to recognize Madhu as a“zone of peace” and respect it assuch by avoiding any militaryaction.In his last letter to the presi-dent, the prelate has said that thepeople of Mannar were draftingan agreement to that effect signedby thousands of residents to bepresented to Rajapakse in a weektime.