US college loses its Catholic label
Marymount Manhattan College, with ties to the Archdiocese of New York, was formally dropped as a Catholic institution on 28 April, because it intended to give Senator Hillary Clinton an honorary doctoral degree.
The college will no longer be listed in The Official Catholic Directory, which identifies Catholic institutions.
"The decision to honour one of Congress's most outspoken and strident advocates of abortion rights was just the latest episode in a long history of secularisation at Marymount Manhattan College," said Patrick Reilly, President of the Cardinal Newman Society.
Reilly wrote to Cardinal Edward Egan of New York about the college, suggesting "immediate action to prevent scandal in the archdiocese." Reilly said the college's actions defied the Catholics in Political Life statement approved by the US bishops in 2004.
Fania Tavarez, assistant to the vice-president for institutional advancement at the college, confirmed the ruling from the archdiocese. In a prepared statement, Tavarez defended the school as "an independent, non- sectarian, private liberal arts college." She said students and staff are "very excited" to hear Clinton at the commencement exercises.
This is the fourth time since Pope John Paul II issued Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, that a bishop has declared a historically Catholic college or university to be no longer Catholic. The 1990 document gives local bishops the responsibility of judging if colleges can be called "Catholic."
Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, was declared "no longer Catholic" by Cardinal Egan in 2003, following a similar protest by the Cardinal Newman Society regarding New York's Attorney General Elliott Spitzer.
Catholic News Agency
Hong Kong bishop applauds papal election
In a message to the faithful published on his diocese's Web page on 28 April, Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong expressed his joy over the papal election: "We prayed with great confidence that the Holy Spirit would inspire the cardinals to choose a Pope according to the will of God. Our hearts were ready to welcome any new Pope, irrespective of his nationality, age or background, because in our faith he is the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth."
But "with the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, I think we have a special reason to be happy. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger was, for many years, Pope John Paul II's right- hand man in the staunch defence of the integrity of faith and truth".
In electing Cardinal Ratzinger, the Chinese bishop said, the cardinals "wanted to solemnly reaffirm their gratitude for the leadership of John Paul II" and also "wanted to solemnly reaffirm their desire for the Church to march in the same direction as he has already been guiding us."
He added: "The biggest problem in the world today is relativism. People treat faith and truth according to the principles of the market economy and democracy. We hope Benedict XVI will continue to dispel the shrouding clouds of error and let the splendour of truth shine on us."
Zenit News Service
Homosexual campaign in Mexico: Church response
The Bishops Conference in Mexico and the National Union of Parents (UNPF), energically expressed their opposition to the campaign promoted by the Secretary of Health, who under the guise of fighting "homophobia" has been promoting homosexuality.
The President of the Bishops Conference's Commission for the Family, Bishop Rodrigo Aguilar Mart’nez of Matehuala, warned in April that the campaign of the Secretary of Health struck directly against natural law because it affirmed that homosexuality was a valid option of life. The Church rejected this initiative because it did not promote sexuality between a man and a woman.
Bishop Mart’nez said that the equivalence to marriage that Spain had conferred to gay unions was a consequence of the ruling "relativism" which affirmed that absolute and universal values do not exist, meaning that each one is free to do his or her will, without ever considering the involvement of a third party, as with children adopted by same-sex couples.
On the other hand, UNFP announced that an international and nation-wide campaign will be launched if Frenk Mora, as Health Minister, insists on promoting homosexuality, which UNFP calls "anti-natural and abhorrent".
UNFP President, Guillermo Bustamante Manilla, warned that the appointment of Frenk Mora to the General Secretariat of the World Health Organisation (WHO) would have negative consequences.
Catholic News Agency
Only priests may anoint the sick says Vatican
The Vatican has indicated that only priests - not deacons or lay people - may administer the sacrament of Extreme Unction.
In a doctrinal note made public on 25 March, which has been sent to all the world's bishops' conferences, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith pointed to the Code of Canon Law (1003), and the Council of Trent, which state that the rite of anointing the sick is to be performed by priests. This is a "definitive" teaching of the Church, the Congregation said.
The brief doctrinal note was accompanied by a commentary observing that the Church's teaching on this issue had been questioned in recent years, particularly in "regions in which the shortage of priests makes it difficult" to administer the last rites.
The Biblical foundation for the sacrament of anointing is found in the Epistle of St James (5:13), the Congregation noted. The Church has traditionally seen the reference to the "elders" of the Church as meaning priests. Only priests are allowed to hear confessions or anoint the sick - although deacons are authorised to perform baptisms, witness marriages, and preside at funerals.
Catholic World News
Pro-life US Democrats seek to reduce abortions
In April, in Washington DC, Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) announced legislation they plan to introduce which they say could reduce the number of abortions in America by 95 percent over the next 10 years.
The proposal, which the group calls the "95-10 initiative", is "a comprehensive proposal of 15 different policy programs that, when fully funded and implemented in coordination with each other" will tackle many of the issues facing pregnant mothers.
Kristen Day, Executive Director of DFLA said that, "The 95-10 Initiative is our number one priority. While many talk about protecting life, we're proposing a legitimate policy initiative that will actually reduce the number of abortions in America."
She added: "The 95-10 Initiative has been met favorably by both pro- life and pro-choice advocates and elected officials."
Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson commented: "The plan outlined is a good first step to successfully reduce the rate of abortion by offering alternatives that promote family, promote adoption, and provide education and support for new mothers. I commend Democrats for Life of America for their efforts to bring this issue to the forefront of the agenda and for putting the care and support for newborns and new mothers above all else."
Kurt Entsminger, President of CareNet said that the new proposal "embraces the women facing an unplanned pregnancy and offers them support and critical information about positive alternatives to abortion. Pregnancy resource centres are at the forefront of these efforts, and are the key players to help reach the goal of making abortion rare."
"Our party", said former congressman and 9-11 commissioner Tim Roemer, "has made more progress on this issue in the last three months than we have in the last 10 years. Ours can be the party that reduces the number of abortions in this country."
Catholic News Agency
China's current stances on the Catholic Church
Seven priests of the underground Catholic Church were arrested in China's Heibei province on 27 April, the Cardinal Kung Foundation reports, but were subsequently released.
The priests had been attending a spiritual retreat led by Bishop Jian Zhiguo of the Zhending diocese - who had been under 24-hour surveillance by police for most of the past month. Bishop Jia had reportedly been warned by Chinese officials that he should not schedule any religious activities.
The tight surveillance of Bishop Jia had begun when the death of Pope John Paul II appeared imminent, and continued through the election of Pope Benedict XVI. The Chinese Government has established a history of crackdowns on the underground Church at times when religious sentiments are high - such as Easter and Christmas.
When the Chinese Government sent a message of condolence to the Vatican on the death of Pope John Paul II, and official greetings to the newly elected Pope Benedict, it prompted some observers to speculate that the Beijing regime might adopt a more conciliatory line toward the Vatican.
At the same time, however, government officials announced that diplomatic recognition of the Holy See could come only if the Vatican broke off ties with Taiwan and agreed to eschew "interference" in internal Chinese affairs.
The Chinese regime allows religious activity only under government control, and Catholics are expected to accept the leadership of the Catholic Patriotic Association. The Vatican's insistence on naming bishops is viewed by Beijing as "interference" with this state-sponsored body.
Catholic World News
Most US Catholic doctors ignore Church teachings
A very large number of Catholic physicians morally support several medical and ethical issues, which are contrary to Church teaching and which have been the source of debate in the United States, according to a survey released in April.
The survey found that 87 percent of Catholic doctors said they would "prescribe birth control pills to any adult patients that request them and for whom they are medically appropriate." Of the doctors who were surveyed, 93 percent said they agreed.
As well, 90 percent of the Catholic doctors surveyed support the promotion and use of condoms to protect against HIV-AIDS in developing countries. More than any other Christian denomination, 49 percent of Catholic physicians supported the statement, "Do you feel homosexuality is morally acceptable as a lifestyle choice?"
The only position on which Catholics differed from most doctors was on the issue of embyronic stem- cell research. While 49 percent of all of the doctors surveyed said they approved of it, only 27 percent of Catholic doctors approved.
The survey of 1,536 American doctors was conducted by HCD Research and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion.
Catholic News Agency
Cardinal Trujillo: family being destroyed in Spain
Responding to news on 22 April that Spain's Congress had approved a law making homosexual unions equivalent to marriage and allowing the adoption of children by homosexual couples, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, warned that the family in Spain was being destroyed "brick by brick".
"Have they consulted with families in Spain? Have they done any in- depth studies? The family is a reciprocal gift between a man and a woman which demands faithfulness, exclusivity, openness to new life and to children," he asked.
The Cardinal recalled that "a law is not right just because it is a law, but rather because it is good and does good." If not, "a form of judicial positivism that makes no sense is created. You cannot impose evil things on people."
He also called for conscientious objection to the application of the law: "Because it is an evil law, the Church urgently calls for the exercising of freedom of conscience and the duty to oppose." All professional people, required to apply the law must, he added, exercise "the same conscientious objection required of doctors and nurses against the crime of abortion."
Catholic News Agency