Archdiocese of Mexico City condemns “brutal profanation”of Cathedral, closes church

Mexico City, U.S.A, Nov. 21, 2007 (CINS/CNA).- The Archdiocese of Mexico City has condemned the “brutal profanation” during Mass at the Cathedral last Sunday carried out by over two hundred sympathizers of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) and its leader, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The protesters forced their way into the Cathedral and began shouting insults against Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City.

In a statement signed by spokesman Father Hugo Valdemar, the archdiocese condemned the “brutal profanation” of the Mass and the Cathedral, “as well as the physical aggression that the faithful suffered”. He also berated “city and federal officials [who] have failed in their duty to safeguard freedom of religion and the respect for the most cherished sacrament we Catholics have: the Eucharist.”  Father Valdemar called the protests “an unequivocal expression of religious intolerance and hatred for the Catholic Church.”  

This past Sunday, some two hundred PRD sympathizers violently entered the cathedral to “protest” the ringing of the bells before Mass because, they said, they interrupted the Third National Democratic Convention taking place in the plaza.  As is commonly known, the ringing of bells is the traditional call to Mass that has been in use for centuries at Catholic churches.

Those responsible for this “condemnable and cowardly act of terror” entered the cathedral by “kicking open the doors, breaking the security barriers, destroying things, scratching the pews and physically attacking the faithful, which caused a panic among those present, which included old people, women and children,” the statement indicated.

The archdiocese announced that it has decided to close the Cathedral until authorities seriously guarantee “freedom of religion and the integrity of the faithful” who attend Mass and that the “sacrilegious criminals who committed this act of terror be punished as an example.”

Armando Martinez, president of the College of Catholic Lawyers, said his organization would file a lawsuit in response to the protests, and he blamed Senator Rosario Ibarra, who was speaking at the political Convention, for inciting the acts by asking during her discourse if the bells were being rung to greet them or to silence them.


“These are acts of terror that we must not permit, above all because they put the security of the faithful, the cardinal, the bishops and those in attendance at risk,” Martinez said.

Today in Church History

 1168 Giovanni di Struma elected anti-Pope

1342 Pope Clemens VI names John IV of Arkel as bishop of Utrecht

1890 Pope Leo XIII encyclical On slavery in missions

 1947 Pope Pius XII publishes encyclical Mediator Dei 

For the Church school is a privileged field for mission, to “teach” life projects

Vatican City, Nov.20,2007 (CINS/AsiaNews) – The truly vast area of education, which involves more than a billion school-age children as well as 58 million teachers plus support staff, includes more than 250,000 Catholic schools and 42 million students. It is a reality that in the Asian continent alone affects some ten million students and constitutes a privileged area of action for the Catholic Church. Educating Together in Catholic Schools. A Shared Mission between Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful, a paper published by the Congregation for Catholic Education (for Seminaries and Institutes of Study), confirms it.

“The lack of interest in the fundamental truths of human life as well as individualism, moral relativism and utilitarianism” but also the growing “gap between rich and poor countries” and growing population movements and the problems related to the stability of the family” are typical phenomena of our society.

In this context, the aforementioned paper says that it “becomes particularly urgent to offer young people an educational path” that “is not reduced to an individualistic and instrumental use of a service for the purpose of getting a degree.” Instead it should provide an opportunity “to meet a true educational community, built upon the basis of shared values and goals.”

Catholic schools represent a “privileged place” to shape minds and show a model of life to be followed in order “to build a world founded on dialogue.” And at the same time it is “an educational community in which ecclesial and missionary communion can deeply mature and grow.”

In illustrating the paper Card Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, stressed that globalisation is today’s “most significant phenomenon,” not “only in economic terms but also cultural, political and educational. It favours meeting and exchange between peoples, but can also produce a dangerous cultural homogenisation, a sort of cultural colonialism.”

In addition to this kind of problems, modern schooling has experienced “a loss in terms of meaning as to what it is supposed to be because of a loss of values, especially those that support life, namely the family, work, and moral choices. Thus education suffers from the ills that afflict our society: widespread subjectivism, moral relativism and nihilism.”

Faced with all this, argues the document, “the educational experience of Catholic schooling constitutes a formidable barrier against the influence of a widespread mentality that leads many, especially among the young, to consider life as a set of thrills to enjoy rather than something to accomplish. Furthermore, it contributes to forming strong personalities that can resist a debilitating relativism whilst living coherently” with one’s faith.

Lebanon, India, Thailand, Nepal and the Holy Land are but a few of the places on the Asian continent that Mgr Angelo Vincenzo Zani, under-secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, cites as examples.

“Catholic schools,” he said, “operate in all geographical areas, including those in which religious liberty does not exist or that are socially and economically disadvantaged.” And they have “an amazing capacity to respond to emergencies and educational needs despite great difficulties at times.” Not to mention the fact they are open to everyone.

In Lebanon, for example, the main goal of Catholic schooling is to bring young people together in the pursuit of dialogue and co-operation between Muslims and Catholics.” Here “out of 210,000 Catholic school students from the country’s 18 religious denominations, Catholics are 63 per cent, 12.6 per cent are from other Christian groups, and 24 per cent are non-Christian, mostly Muslim. In some areas of the country, non Catholics represent 99 per cent of the total student population.”

In the Holy Land (Israel, Palestinian Territories and Jordan), “out of a [combined] population of 11 million Christians are only 280,000; of these 140,000 are Catholic. Christians represent 55 per cent of the Catholic school population compared to 45 per cent who are non Christians, mostly Muslims, but also a few Jews.”

Mgr Zani illustrates the situation by citing two examples. “In El Mutran Nazareth there is St Joseph School, home to about 1,200 Christian and Muslim students. The basis of its educational project is peace, learning to live together and accepting [one another’s] differences.” In Jerusalem we find the Schmidt’s Girls College, founded in 1886 and open to girls and young women, from the ages of 4 to 19, two thirds of which are Muslim.

Similarly, in Nepal, “where the majority of the population is Hindu, Catholics are but a mere 6,000 in a population of 23 million.” Yet in “2004 the king awarded a prize to two missionaries for their work in the area of education, namely the principal at St Mary’s School and the founder of St Xavier College, the only Catholic college in Nepal.”

In India “there are seven million students enrolled in Catholic schools. The proportion of Catholics is only 22.7 per cent and 5.6 per cent are from other Christian denominations; 53 per cent are Hindu, 8.6 per cent Muslim and 10.1 per cent from other groups. About 45.1 per cent of the schools are run by the dioceses and the remainder by religious congregations.”

For his part, Cardinal Grocholewski mentioned that he personally had some experiences of this type; for instance, he was in Thailand where “Catholics numbers 297,000, less than 0.5 per cent of the population, and yet where students attending Catholic schools are almost 400,000.”

Today in Church History

461 St. Hilary begins his reign as Catholic Pope

498 Anastasius II ends his reign as Catholic Pope

615 Pope Deusdedit/Adeodatus I elected to succeed Boniface IV

1302 Pope Boniface VIII delegates degree "Unam sanctam"

1523 Giulio de' Medici chosen as Pope Clemens VII

1544 Pope Paul III opens council of Trente 

Former senior US diplomat Warren Clark named as executive director of Churches for Middle East peace

Washington, U.S.A, Nov.19, 2007 (CINS/Ekklesia) - Former Ambassador and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Warren Clark has been named Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace. Clark will succeed Corinne Whitlatch, who has led CMEP for 21 years, upon her retirement at the end of 2007.

"Warren Clark brings to CMEP a distinguished diplomatic career and a deep commitment to the churches' role in addressing problems and resolving conflicts. His understanding of the complexity of both the region and the development and implementation of US foreign policy will serve CMEP well in the days and years ahead. He will be able to build on the extraordinary work of Corinne Whitlatch, who has built CMEP into a respected voice for US policies that recognize the painful realities of the Middle East while serving the cause of justice for all of its people," said Maureen Shea, Chair of the Churches for Middle East Board.

Ambassador Clark began his career in the Foreign Service in Aleppo, Syria and has served in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Canada, and at the US Mission to the United Nations. Following his retirement from the State Department he worked as a private consultant and received a Master of Theological Studies degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary. Clark speaks French and eastern Arabic.

As Executive Director of Churches for Middle East Peace, Clark will oversee all aspects of CMEP's work. Commenting on his appointment, Clark said: "I feel honoured to be asked to lead this strong organization built by Corinne Whitlatch. There is renewed attention now to the need for peace with security and justice in the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as recognition that in 2009 a new US Administration and Congress will decide how it will understand and address the pressing problems of the region. I believe CMEP can and should play a significant role in helping to shape that understanding and encourage progress towards a lasting peace."

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace is a Washington-based program of the Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Armenian Orthodox Church, Catholic Conference of Major Superiors of Men's Institutes, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Friars OFM (English Speaking Conference, JPIC Council), Friends Committee on National Legislation, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Maryknoll Missioners, Mennonite Central Committee, Moravian Church in America, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Reformed Church in America, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and the United Methodist Church (GBCS & GBGM).

For more information on Churches for Middle East Peace see:

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