Pope appoints 18 new cardinals, including Mumbai Archbishop Gracias

Vatican City, Oct.18,2007 (CINS/AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church will have 18 new cardinal “electors” on November 24. Benedict XVI announced yesterday that an ordinary public consistory will take place on that day. The new cardinals include seven from the curia and 11 from the great cities of the world. An Asian is among them: Indian Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay (Mumbay). In addition to the “electors,” cardinals who are not yet 80-years-old and eligible to vote in conclaves, the Pope will also elevate to the cardinal’s dignity a few other eminent figures in the Catholic Church like Emmanuel III Delly, patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, head of the Chaldean Church in Iraq.

The new cardinals from the curia are from Italy: Angelo Comastri, archpriest in Saint Peter’s Basilica and vicar for Vatican City; Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Governorate of Vatican City; Raffaele Farina, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church; from Argentina: Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; from Germany: Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum; and from Poland: Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. From the United States, there is a former member of the curia, John P. Foley, currently grand master of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher and a former president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

In addition to Mgr Gracias, residential bishops, i.e. head of large dioceses, include Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa (Italy) and president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference; Agustín García-Gasco Vicente, of Valencia (Spain); Seán Baptist Brady, of Armagh (Ireland), Lluís Martínez Sistach, of Barcelona (Spain), André Vingt-Trois, of Paris (France), Théodore-Adrien Sarr, of Dakar (Senegal), Francisco Robles Ortega, of Monterrey (Mexico), Daniel N. DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston (United States), Odilio Pedro Scherer, of Săo Paulo (Brazil), and John Njue, of Nairobi (Kenya).

The Pope said that with the new appointments he intends to exceed by one the limit of 120 “electors” set by Paul VI and confirmed by John Paul II. He further said that he wants “to raise to the Cardinal 's dignity three venerated prelates and two meritorious ecclesiastics for their commitment to serve the Church.” Besides Patriarch Delly, they are Giovanni Coppa, former apostolic nuncio; Estanislao Esteban Karlic, archbishop emeritus of Paraná (Argentina), Urbano Navarrete, a former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University; and Umberto Betti, also a former rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.

“It was also my desire to have among them Ignacy Jeó, the old meritorious bishop of Koszalin- Ko?obrzeg in Poland, but he suddenly passed away yesterday,” Benedict XVI said. “To him go our prayers of suffrage.”

Before announcing the consistory, the Pope talked about Saint Eusebius, the 4th century bishop of Vercelli, to the 30,000 people present at the general audience. To them he launched an appeal “to multiply the efforts to eliminate the causes of poverty and the tragic consequences that follow.”

Too many populations, he said, “still live in conditions of extreme poverty. The gap between rich and poor has become more blatant and disquieting, even in economically advanced nations.”

Benedict XVI slammed “this worrisome situation” which “touches humanity’s conscience since the conditions in which such a large number of people live offend the dignity of human beings and consequently compromise the world community’s authentic and harmonious progress.”

Amid the crowd in St. Peter's Square, new cardinal hears his name

Vatican City, Oct.17,2007 (CINS /CNS) -- U.S. Cardinal -designate John P. Foley, a Philadelphia native, was standing in the middle of St. Peter's Square among a sea of 30,000 pilgrims when Pope Benedict XVI named him a cardinal. Though he knew the previous day he was going to be one of 23 people to receive a red hat, the Oct. 17 announcement was going to fall on the same morning he had a follow-up visit with his eye doctor. "I didn't get back in time to be there at the beginning of the audience and I didn't have my glad rags on," meaning his formal clerical dress, so he said he just snuck inconspicuously into the middle of the crowd. He told Catholic News Service he never expected to be the second new cardinal listed after the senior Vatican prefect, Cardinal -designate Leonardo Sandri. When the pope "started the list there I was No. 2 on the list and that was a surprise," Cardinal -designate Foley said. He said a pilgrim standing next to him asked him if he knew any of the men the pope had just named to be cardinal. "I said 'Yes, I know quite a few of them.' And I said 'I am one of them,' Well, I don't think he believed me," he said laughing. "What would I be doing standing out in the middle of St. Peter's Square, you know. But I thought it would be nice to hear the announcement anyway," he said happily. The Columbia University journalism school graduate and former editor of The Catholic Standard and Times, Philadelphia archdiocesan newspaper, headed the Pontifical Council for Social Communications for 23 years. In June, Pope Benedict XVI named him pro-grand master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, a chivalric organization dedicated to supporting the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and to responding to the needs of Catholics in the Holy Land. He turned many years of journalistic experience into a great asset for the universal church. His media-friendly style and quick sense of humor shine in person and throughout the numerous speeches and homilies he has delivered around the world. This self-described "chocoholic" often speaks of the joys of working for the church, but tells his audiences that while the pay is not that great, "the benefits are out of this world." Cardinal-designate Foley, one of 23 cardinals named Oct. 17 by Pope Benedict XVI, will receive his red hat in a Nov. 24 consistory at the Vatican. His new post as pro-grand master has taken him out of the public spotlight -- he was known worldwide for his English-language commentary for major papal ceremonies. But he was still traveling the world promoting the church's mandate for using the media ethically when he delivered an Oct. 11 address to advertisers in Oslo, Norway. Cardinal-designate Foley urged his audience to plug their products for the common good and appealed for major reform of campaign financing legislation, including in the United States. He asked that candidates be able to advertise and "present their message without financial contributions corrupting or co-opting them." In June, when he left his communications job, Cardinal -designate Foley told Catholic News Service he hoped he had accomplished two primary goals: "First, that the church recognize the importance of the media for communicating the good news of Jesus Christ"; and second, that church leaders understand "the communications media are not threats, but opportunities." He has said he loved being able to merge his love for God and the media. "In my work as a priest and as an archbishop, I am able to do two things I love very much: to be active in communications and to tell people about Jesus," he said in May 6 commencement address to students at the University of Portland, Ore. Under his leadership, the social communications council issued separate documents promoting ethical standards in advertising, communications and on the Internet. Another council document denounced pornography. When the Vatican started to investigate the possibility of going online, Cardinal -designate Foley lobbied tirelessly for the Holy See to be given its own top-level domain. "We were first told that we should be part of .it for Italy; I told them we were surrounded by It; that in another sense, we were It, but we were not in It." After refusing to settle for .it and .org, he succeeded in getting the Vatican the top-level domain of .va. "For us that is very important because you can be sure that anything coming from .va is authentic ... material from the Vatican and the Holy See," he said in a May 10 speech to former classmates from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. Born in Darby, Pa., Nov. 11, 1935, he was ordained a priest in Philadelphia when he was 26 years old. He served as assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Havertown, Pa., and later at St. John the Evangelist Church in Philadelphia, starting in 1966. Cardinal-designate Foley said his experience in journalism dated back to the seventh grade when he started writing radio plays on the lives of saints. As a teen, he was also asked to be an announcer for Sunday morning programming on then-station WJMJ, now WNWR, in Philadelphia. His re-launched his radio career in 1966 as co-producer and co-host of the Philadelphia Catholic Hour on WFIL radio. Cardinal-designate Foley also appeared on television during his college years in a weekly college debate program and later co-produced a 20-program televised series on "The Making of a Priest." Between stints as assistant editor of The Catholic Standard and Times in the 1960s, he conducted his graduate studies in philosophy in Rome, where he also served as a journalist covering the news from Rome and the Second Vatican Council, 1963-1965. In 1970, he was appointed editor of The Catholic Standard and Times until 1984, when Pope John Paul II appointed him head of the Vatican body for social communications. He was ordained an archbishop the same year. Cardinal-designate Foley has received numerous honorary degrees and awards, including the Catholic Press Association's highest prize, the St. Francis de Sales Award.

Cardinal furious over EU role in Polish abortion row

Warsaw, Poland, Oct.13,2007 (CINS/totalcatholic) - The head of the Polish Church has accused European judges of interfering in his country’s internal affairs after they awarded compensation to a woman who was refused an abortion.

“This episode is an element in some wider game,” said Cardinal Jozef Glemp, Poland’s Catholic primate.

“It’s a case in which something evil, a sentence against an unborn, inconvenient life, has been imposed on Poland by an institution somewhere in Strasbourg, as something which has to be respected as the will of a body outside Poland.”

The Church leader was reacting to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, rejecting a Polish government appeal against an order to pay 39,000 Euros in damages and costs to Alicja Tysiac, who suffered eyesight damage after giving birth in November 2000.

Preaching in Poznan, Cardinal Glemp said doctors had acted correctly in rejecting an abortion demand by Tysiac, who later gave birth to a healthy daughter, now aged seven.

“This mother brought charges against the doctors for not upholding her sentence on her own child – and Poland and the doctors were penalised for saving her life,” Cardinal Glemp said.

“This is an example of interference by foreign institutions in our homeland – an interference with our principles, which seeks to reshape the supreme values of good and evil so what is evil can be good, and what is good can become evil.”

Tysiac, who now lives with three children on a monthly disability pension of 600 zloties (Ł115), was awarded compensation last March when the court ruled that Poland had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by denying her an abortion.

However, the decision was protested by the Catholic Polish Women’s Forum, and appealed by the government, which said it violated a 1993 Polish law allowing abortions only in cases of rape, incest and severe foetal damage or if a woman’s life and health are endangered.

The Church-owned Catholic information agency (KAI) said signatures were being collected against the latest court decree by the Church’s Social Committee for Promoting Marriage, Family and Life.

“According to several doctors, this pregnancy was not a threat to Alicja Tysiac,” a bishops’ conference official, Fr Andrzej Rebacz, told the agency.

“If neither truth nor natural law count in this discussion, perhaps public opinion will.”

Poland’s 1993 law has cut officially registered abortions to around 200 per year nationwide, although pro-choice campaigners claim others are perpetrated illegally.

Church-backed legislation to have the protection of life written into Poland’s constitution failed to gain the required two-thirds parliamentary majority last April, prompting the resignation of the chairman of the Sejm lower house.


Cardinal Tauran “encouraged” by letter from muslim scholars

Vatican City, Oct.12,2007 (CINS/EWTN: Joan's Rome) - On Friday, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue published a brief comment on a recent letter sent to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders by 138 Muslim scholars. Their letter comes on the first anniversary of the letter sent by 38 Muslims in response to the Pope’s September 2006 lecture in Regensburg that provoked the ire of Muslims worldwide. In that address, the Pope quoted from a 14th-century dialogue between the Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologos, and a Persian scholar where the emperor questioned the Prophet Mohammed, suggesting a link between his religion and violence.

“If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace,” the scholars write in the letter published Thursday. “With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world's inhabitants. Our common future is at stake," the letter said. "The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake."

Cardinal Tauran Friday, in a release from the Vatican Press office, said, "it is a very interesting letter" and a “new document because it comes from both Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims." It is also "a non-polemical document with numerous quotes from both the Old and New Testaments." The French cardinal then considered what religious leaders must do to prevent the linking of violence and religion, underlining the need "to invite the followers [of religions] to share the three convictions contained in the letter: that God is One; that God loves us and we must love Him; that God calls us to love our neighbor. I would say that this represents a very encouraging sign because it shows that good will and dialogue are capable of overcoming prejudices. This is a spiritual approach to inter-religious dialogue which I would call dialogue of spirituality.”

Cardinal Pell blesses Labor education policy

Sydney,Australia, oct.11,2007 (CINS/Cathnews) -  Cardinal George Pell has backed the Opposition's new school policy - a complete reversal of the Catholic Church's dramatic intervention in the 2004 election campaign of Labor's "divisive" policy of stripping funding from rich private schools.

Pell has also endorsed both Mr Rudd and John Howard as "serious Christians" but noted their parties had adopted such similar policies that they were "scarcely distinguishable".

In an interview with The Australian, Cardinal Pell conceded his endorsement was a shift from his position at the last election, during which he attacked the

schools policy put forward by then Labor leader Mark Latham.

"I think the policy at that stage was calculated to divide the non-government sector and to divide the rich against the poor and possibly the Catholics against the non-Catholics," Pell said.

"That would have been most unfortunate. I'm happy to endorse the new policy."

"We had a slab of schools where there would have been problems. I've been public and on the record acknowledging we don't have as many poor Catholics in our schools as I would like."

Cardinal Pell's intervention coincided with confirmation on Wednesday that the Labor Party no longer believed any needs-based funding model in the future must include reference to private schools' fees and income when determining taxpayer-funding.

The Australian also reported that at the National Press Club, Cardinal Pell also touched on the controversy surrounding Labor's death penalty policy, saying he thought Mr Rudd would not lose votes on the issue.

He also reiterated that the Catholic Church was opposed to capital punishment.

"I don't anticipate that Kevin Rudd's change in position will have many consequences one way or the other for Christian or Catholic votes.

"I suspect, and I might be wrong, that there is clear majority approval in Australia for capital punishment in certain circumstances.

"It is one of those issues where public opinion is quite at variance with elite opinion," he said

Cardinal Pell also says he regrets the Federal Government's decision to cut the African refugee intake this year, but he understands there has to be limits.

He says there is no doubt there is suffering in Africa, but Australia can only do so much.

"I regret that the quota's been lowered, but I would also concede that this was a complicated and difficult question where you could judge the balance differently."

Archbishop of Sydney George Pell has stepped up his criticism of Catholics who support contraception, abortion and stem-cell research on the basis of their own moral conscience as proponents of a "Donald Duck heresy".

In a compilation of 10 short essays to be published this week, Cardinal Pell also warns that the pill has created a "contraceptive" mentality with "evil consequences" for the world, including a plummeting fertility rate in which many children will one day know no siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins, TheSydney Morning Heraldreported.

Pell said a new approach is needed to combat unacceptably high levels of abortion, including the possibility of television advertisements to encourage women to proceed with a pregnancy by framing it as a means of regaining control of their lives, rather than it ruining them.

Asked how he rated the Howard Government - at the National Press Club this week- on humanitarian issues such as the involvement in the Iraq invasion and treatment of asylum-seekers, he said both parties had policies that, from a Christian point of view, were imperfect.

"When a government has been in power for as many years as the Howard Government has, in order to survive it usually adopts a number of compromises.” Pell said.

"You would have to say the Howard Government has done that. I did not support the invasion of Iraq."

He also said the Howard Government's policy on refugees was too tough.

"But having said that, there have been many worse governments in Australian history."

Cardinal Pell also disclosed that the church would contribute $15 million to $20 million of the $100 million-plus costs of World Youth Day in Sydney next July.

God and Caesar is the first academic title written by Cardinal Pell, and it returns to his regular theme of rampant liberal secularism and warns that anti-life attitudes are infiltrating the church, a traditional champion of pro-life causes.

Referring to the work of the English historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Cardinal Pell said he was concerned about the consequences of support for a Donald Duck heresy.

"Too many Donald Ducks produce the feel-good society which works to remove personal guilt, anything that would make people feel uncomfortable so that complacent self-satisfaction becomes a virtue; confession is replaced by therapy and self-reproach by self-discovery."

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