Vatican unlikely to appoint additional Cardinals in the Philippines

Manila, Philippines, Nov.14,2007 (CINS/SAR) -The Vatican is not likely to name more cardinals in the country, Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Leonida Vera said on November 11.

In an interview aired over Church-run Radyo Veritas, Vera explained that Philippine Senate (Upper House) Resolution No. 192 filed by Senator Joker Arroyo seeking additional cardinals in the country might be futile, as there is a standing rule in the Vatican's College of Cardinal s that only three cardinals would be assigned to the Philippines.

"We are allotted only three cardinals. For as long as our three cardinals are alive, they cannot nominate a new one. I think it is important to note that the Vatican has so many considerations in appointing a new cardinal. The process, for example, would take some time," the ambassador explained.

Vera was referring to Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and Jose Cardinal Sanchez, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy in the Vatican.

Only Rosales and Vidal are in the country as Sanchez is based in the Vatican. This means that only two cardinals are actually leading the country's Catholic hierarchy.

Vera stressed that only "a very special occasion" would prompt the Vatican to approve such a request from the Philippine government.

A prelate, Basilan Bishop Camilo Gregorio, also expressed opposition to the request of Arroyo that would be sent to the Vatican through new Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams.

"Thanks for the good intention of Sen. Joker Arroyo. But I am sorry because it is really none of his business to raise such an appeal. Creating cardinals is the sole prerogative of the Pope," Gregorio said.

Last week, Arroyo filed a resolution with the Senate seeking an official request to the Vatican for deployment of additional cardinals in the country. He argued that the current three Filipino cardinals are "disproportionate" to the 73 million Catholics in the country.

The senator practically questioned the decision of the Vatican to deploy more cardinals in other countries like the United States, France and Spain where there is a smaller Catholic population.

Arroyo claimed that there are even more cardinals in other Asian countries than in the Philippines.

"In fact, India only has 16 million Catholics but they have five more cardinals than the Philippines. Japan with only 505,000 Catholics has two cardinals. Taiwan with 305,000 Catholics has one Cardinal , so with Thailand with 273,000 Catholics," he said.

The Philippines has the third biggest Catholic population in the world. Latin American countries Brazil and Mexico occupy the top two spots.

The country has so far produced six cardinals from the time of Pope John XXII.

The three other cardinals were the late Rufino Cardinal Santos, Julio Cardinal Rosales and Jaime Cardinal Sin.

The College of Cardinal s plays a crucial role in the Vatican. It helps the Pope in governing the Catholic Church and is also in charge of various congregations of the Roman Curia.

But the most important function of cardinals, according to Church officials, is to elect a successor of the Pope in case he dies. The new Pope comes from the College of Cardinal s.


U.S. Bishops elect Cardinal Francis George as president as expected

Baltimore, U.S.A, Nov 13, 2007 (CINS/CNA).- This morning in Baltimore, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) elected Cardinal Francis George as their new president as was anticipated. Cardinal George gained the presidency handily winning 85% of the vote in the first round of voting.

Commenting immediately after Cardinal George’s selection the outgoing president Bishop William Skylstad said, “I think that our applause speaks louder than any words could, congratulations, profound congratulations.”

Once Cardinal George was elected, the bishops moved on to choose the vice president from the remaining field of candidates. According to the rules for voting, the vice president must be chosen by a maximum of three votes, which it came down to.

On the final vote, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tuscon was tapped to be the vice president by a 55% to 45% margin over Bishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee. Kicanas’ election to the number two slot means that barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will become the president in three years.

Unlike past USCCB elections, the prospect of Cardinal George as president has raised some controversy because of comments he made about legislation being proposed for sex abuse cases.

The legislature of Illinois has proposed the suspension of the statute of limitations for clerical sex abuse cases which the cardinal wrote was “not about the safety of children as the sponsor claims, and is clearly, to me at least, about money.” Cardinal George’s remarks echo those made earlier this year by the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. 

Cardinal Bertone beatifies Indian in Argentina

Chimpay, Argentina, nov.13,2007 (CINS/totalcatholic) - A top Vatican official beatified Ceferino Namuncura, the son of a Mapuche Indian chief who embraced Catholicism in the 19th century.

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, presided over the November 11 beatification Mass in Blessed Namuncura's home town of Chimpay, Argentina.

More than 200,000 people attended the ceremony; they included the country's vice president, Daniel Scioli, and nearly 100 Latin American bishops.

Blessed Namuncura already enjoyed a popular, saintlike status among the Argentine poor. He was a Salesian novice when he died of tuberculosis in Rome in 1905 at the age of 18.

In his homily, Cardinal Bertone, a Salesian, said Blessed Namuncura never forgot he was a Mapuche and that his goal "was to serve his people." His example shows that the richness of the Gospel "never destroys the authentic values of a culture; rather, the evangelical message takes on these values, purifies them, perfects them."


Cardinal George to be chosen as Voice of American prelates

Chicago, U.S.A, Nov.11,2007 (CINS/Agencies) - Cardinal Francis George,  Chicago's Archbishop will be chosen as the voice for the Church in America when the Roman Catholic Bishops gather this week in Baltimore.  The group is led by the Former presidents of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to speak out to the nation on topics such as nuclear war and abortion.

Cardinal Francis George would be the first Cardinal elected to the post and is one of the nation's most senior church men. Gillis, author of "Roman Catholicism in America" said Cardinal George is someone with high visibility and high stature in the church. So, if there were an issue that needed to be brought to Vatican's attention, he has the status to bring it, and they'll listen to him. Also he is the one thoroughly obedient to Rome.

Recently, Cardinal George said one priority for the Bishops should be strengthening Catholic identity. That would include reaffirmation of the church's teaching on hot-button political issues which are being debated in the presidential campaign. "Faithful Citizenship," a political guide issued every four years before the election would  be approved by the Bishops during their meeting in Baltimore this week.  But, for the first time, the bishops will debate and vote on this sensitive document in public. 

German cardinal decries seminarians' religious education

Munich, Germany, Nov. 09, 2007 (CINS/CWN) - Cardinal Friedrich Wetter of Munich has complained about the lack of religious knowledge among candidates for the priesthood in Germany.

Cardinal Wetter told reporters in Bavaria that the Church might be compelled to add another year of seminary training, in order to provide remedial education for young men who begin priestly training without an adequate knowledge of their faith.

Extending the length of seminary training could aggravate a shortage of young priests in Germany. The DPA news agency reports that 264 young men entered the country's seminaries in 2006-- a number that is sharply down from figures that reached over 800 in the early 1980s. 

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