Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, meets Argentina’s political leaders

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov.19,2007 (CINS/totalcatholic) - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, met with Argentina’s political leaders at the end of his recent trip which saw him beatify the Argentine Mapuche Indian, Ceferino Namuncura.

Argentine President-elect Cristina Fernandez received the Vatican secretary of state alongside her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, in Buenos Aires.

After the meeting, Cardinal Bertone said he hoped Fernandez, who was elected at the end of October with 45 per cent of the votes, would be able to “take the country out of purgatory and elevate it to paradise”.

“The president always says he took his people out of hell and into purgatory. I hope that the future president will be able to take the country even higher, with everyone’s collaboration,” said the cardinal, referring to Kirchner’s well-known claim of having rescued Argentina after the catastrophic economic crisis in 2001.

Fernandez, who will be sworn in December 10 for a four-year term, has suggested she will attempt to mend government-Church relations, which deteriorated dramatically during her husband’s administration.

A few days before being elected, Fernandez spoke out against abortion.

At the meeting with Cardinal Bertone, she also invited Pope Benedict XVI to visit in 2008 to mark the 30th anniversary of the resolution of a territorial dispute between Chile and Argentina over the Beagle Channel on the most southern tip of the continent. The Vatican is credited with averting armed conflict between the neighboring nations by mediating a resolution.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, president of the Argentine bishops' conference, is expected to request a meeting with Fernandez to congratulate her on her election victory, a strong sign of a potential rapprochement.

Cardinal Sfeir appeals Lebanon people to take on their responsibility for the good of the country

Beirut, Lebanon, Nov.19,2007 (CINS/AsiaNews) – The crucial week, the last chance to “rule” on the election of the new President of the Republic, given that the current post of Emile Lahoud empire on November 24th, opened with an affirmation by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who says he has “little hope” that the issue will be resolved. Parliament has been convened for the day before.

Kouchner’s pessimism, cancelling his earlier optimism, finds its source in what the daily An Nahar called “crossed vetoes” which greeted Maronite Patrriach, Nasrallah Sfeir’s list of “consensus” candidates. The political parties had explicitly asked for the Cardinal ’s intervention, with an aim to ”unblock a dramatic situation”, as described by the Patriarch himself.  Yesterday during mass, card. Sfeir launched a fresh appeal to all those responsible, to “take on their responsibility for the good of the country above all in this most crucial moment”.

The presidential deadline is involving International diplomacy: at the end of the UN secretary Genral Ban Ki-moon’s visit, yesterday Kouchner returned to Lebanon, today Arab League Amr Moussa is due to arrive while Italy and Spain’s’ foreign ministers Massimo D’Alema and Miguel Angel Moratinos are also on their way.

But what is filling the press and conversation in Beirut, are the vetoes.  In substance the opposition led by Hezbollah is said to have excluded the names of Butros Harb, Nassib Lahoud, Robert Ghanem and Michel Khoury, while they would accept Michel Edde and central bank governor, Riad Salameh. For its part the ruling majority would ban Michel Edde. No “no” has surrounded the name of the opposition’s main candidate Michel Aoun, who in a recent interview with Hezbollah TV Al Manar said he refused the “idea of having his name included in a list which contains those of candidates without a popular following and who have had no parliamentary mandate”.  Against this imposition the name of the Army Chief of Staff is being circulated, Michel Suleiman, however he is not on the list.

Those who officially received the list - Saad Hariri, Chief of the Parliamentary majority “March 14” and  Nabih Berr, Parliamentary Speaker, and chief of op position Amal,– are meanwhile discussing the list with their respective factions, in search of a difficult solution.

Cardinal Saravia to beatifie Priest Antonio Rosmini, founder of Rosminians

Novara, Italy, Nov.17,2007 (CINS/Romereports) - On Sunday November the 18th, Cardinal Saravia will beatifie in Novara, Italy, priest Antonio Rosmini, founder of Institute of Charity, know as the Rosminians.

The religious order was founded in the 19th century and currently has 300 priests worldwide with most of its vocations come from developing countries.

Seminarians pray, then study and carry out small duties within their house. Twenty-four year old Ravi Yerraji from India is in charge of the library. Seven years ago he decided to be a priest. “One thing that impressed me most about the Rosminians was the varied acts of charity they perform”, he says. “They are not limited to one work of charity; charity extends to all, and that’s what I liked of them.”

Jared Okong’o, a seminarian from Kenya, is in charge of taking care of the Order’s rooms. He says that since he was a child, even before joining the Catholic Church, he wanted to become a priest. “When I asked somebody how to become a priest, a friend of mine who is very close to my parish, told me: ‘For you to become a priest you have to be baptized first’. I was not baptized, so I had to go to catechism classes, and I still continued to have that desire”.

For the rector of the College, the reasons why priests of tomorrow are coming from Africa, India, and South America are simple. “Like many of the religious orders,” he says, “our structure is changing. Europe is not producing many vocations, but in our missions fields there are far more people coming to us. When those offering their lives are younger, this fervour for the faith remains strong, and Catholic life is still very strong [in these countries]”.

These young people are preparing themselves to go back to their countries to spread the Gospel and to fight against poverty.

“I really would like to work with orphans, for instance in my own country,” says Yerraji. “When I went to Africa I also saw the plight of orphans, and I find it very important that we educate them and give them a good life”. 

Future cardinal asks Iraqi president to guarantee teaching of Christian religion in schools

Rome,Italy, Nov. 16, 2007 (CINS/CNA).- The director of cultural affairs of the Patriarchate of Babylonia of the Chaldeans and the rector of Babel College, Auxiliary Bishop Jacques Ishaq, said this week Iraq’s President Talabani has promised Chaldean Patriarch Mar Emmanuel III Delly he will intervene to ensure that “Christian students will be able to take a test on the Christian religion at the end of the year,” which means that the faith will be allowed to be taught.

In an interview with the Office for Migrant Ministry of the Archdiocese of Turin, Bishop Ishaq said, “The Iraqi educational system is based on an evaluation that is obtained by the sum total of the final grades in each subject.  In many schools, the only religious instruction is in the Islamic faith, and consequently, Christian students find it much more difficult to obtain grades similar to those of their Muslim counterparts.”

For this reason, Chaldean Patriarch Mar Emmanuel III Delly—who will be made a cardinal on November 24 by Pope Benedict XVI—“has asked the Iraqi president to guarantee that the Christian religion can be taught in public schools where the percentage of the Christian students is around 25 percent.”

Bishop Ishaq pointed out, however, the one of the problems is “finding teachers who teach the Christian religion.  The fleeing and forced emigration of Christians has resulted in many educated persons leaving the country.  In addition, there are the problems of the chaos in Baghdad and which have reached the Ministry of Instruction and those responsible for such decisions who at times can obstruct or encourage laws that favor the Christian minority.”

Despite the problems, he said, “Christians are still perceived as bearers of culture.”

According to the SIR news agency, before the nationalization of schools in Iraq in 1972, “Christian schools were considered the best in the country, such that the most influential Muslim families sent their children to these schools.  Some of these students are leaders today in government and mosques.”

Cardinal O’Malley rebukes Democrats on abortion

Boston,U.S.A, Nov.16 , 2007(CINS/CNA).- The U.S. Bishops have issued their strongest condemnation yet of pro-abortion views with their “Faithful Citizenship” document issued yesterday. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston also has added his disapproval of pro-abortion candidates in comments to the Boston Globe saying that the support of Catholics for these politicians “borders on scandal”.

Cardinal O'Malley voiced a sentiment that the bishops’ latest citizenship document includes, namely that, despite his differences with the Republican Party over immigration policy, capital punishment, economic issues, and the war in Iraq, he views abortion as the most important moral issue facing policymakers.

Noting that many Catholics traditionally support Democrats, O’Malley reamed the Democratic Party for being “extremely insensitive to the church's position, on the gospel of life in particular, and on other moral issues.”

When the cardinal was asked about the many voters who support Democrats who are in favor of abortion, O'Malley said, "I think that, at times, it borders on scandal as far as I'm concerned."

This near-scandal has caused Cardinal O’Malley to challenge his flock about their choices, but his admonitions have only resulted in confused reactions from them. "[W]hen I challenge people about this, they say, 'Well, bishop, we're not supporting [abortion],' " he said. "I think there's a need for people to very actively dissociate themselves from those unacceptable positions, and I think if they did that, then the party would have to change."

The vast majority of the U.S. Bishops seem to agree with Cardinal O’Malley since a full 98% of them approved the “Faithful Citizenship” document yesterday.

The statement goes beyond previous ones by explicitly declaring abortion, cloning, and embryonic research to be "intrinsically evil" and warning that support for such immoral acts could endanger a Catholic voter's salvation.

This time the bishops also took the further step of pointing out that abortion or any other act which destroys life is a more serious issue than any other, saying, “[t]he direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many."

In comments to Boston Globe reporter Michael Paulson, Cardinal O’Malley said, "In the past, there was always the fear that we were considering sort of the smorgasbord of issues, but without any prioritizing, or giving the impression that all issues are of equal value, and I think the emphasis on trying to help people form conscience is very, very important," he said. "The church is not trying to impose Catholic doctrine on the world, but we are trying to invite our people to take seriously their obligation to vote in a way that respects the moral law, the natural law, and takes into account the common good, care for the poor, and particularly the gospel of life, which is always the center of Catholic social teaching."

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