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Vatican Wants More From Bishop Williamson

Says Apology Is Insufficient VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2009 ( ).-

A Vatican spokesman says an apology from formerly excommunicated Society of St. Pius X Bishop Richard Williamson is not enough. The Lefebvrite prelate released a statement Thursday regarding his declarations aired in January about the Holocaust. The prelate denied the gassing of 6 million Jews in an interview that aired on Swiss television at about the same time as he and three other Lefebvrite bishops had their 20-year excommunication lifted. The lifting of the excommunication is unrelated to the bishop’s interview and occurred in the context of Benedict XVI’s efforts to heal the schism with the Society of St. Pius X. Still, the coincidental concurrence of the interview and the lifting of the canonical penalty was viewed as an affront to Jewish-Catholic relations in some circles. It led to Vatican officials — including Benedict XVI — making repeated clarifications about the Church’s respect for the Jews and its commitment to dialogue with Christians’ “elder brothers.” In his statement Thursday, Bishop Williamson said that observing the consequences of his interview, “I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them. […] To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize.” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said in a verbal statement today that the apology is lacking. He told journalists that the statement “does not seem to respect the conditions established in the Feb. 4 note from the [Vatican] Secretariat of State, which stated that [Bishop Williamson] must distance himself in an absolute, unequivocal and public way from his positions regarding the Shoah.” The spokesman also noted that the prelate’s declaration was not a letter directed to the Holy Father or to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, which oversees the Church’s efforts to heal the schism with the Society of St. Pius X. Keeping things clear Bishop Williamson’s personal views of the Holocaust are unrelated to the larger issue of the Society of St. Pius X and that group’s lack of full communion with the Church. Bishop Williamson is in the same canonical position as the other three prelates of the society, including its superior-general Bishop Bernard Fellay. As ZENIT reported Thursday, citing canon lawyer Peter Vere, the prelates’ ordination 20 years ago was illicit, but nonetheless valid. In other words, it is unlawful because it was against the wishes of the Pope, but effective. This applies equally to Bishop Williamson and to the other three. The lawyer explained, “Bishop Williamson is not a Catholic bishop in that his episcopal consecration was carried out without papal mandate. […] However, the episcopal consecration was valid — that is, effective. So he is in fact a bishop with episcopal powers, meaning he can validly — but unlawfully — ordain, confirm, celebrate Mass, and validly — but unlawfully — perform any other episcopal function.” The lifting of the excommunication, Vere affirmed, does not make the ordination of the four prelates lawful. The Vatican Secretariat of State note from Feb. 4 clarified the position of the society in relation to the lifting of the excommunication: “The remission of the excommunication has freed the four bishops from a very serious canonical penalty, but it has not changed the juridical status of the Society of St. Pius X, which presently does not enjoy any canonical recognition by the Catholic Church. The four bishops, even though they have been released from excommunication, have no canonical function in the Church and do not licitly exercise any ministry within it. […] “A full recognition of the Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself is an indispensable condition for any future recognition of the Society of St. Pius X.” And those conditions do not promise to soon be met. According to the Italian ANSA news agency today, quoting the Swiss daily Le Courier from Thursday, Bishop Fellay says Vatican II has brought “only damages” to the Church. “The aftermath of the Council has been to empty seminaries, nunneries and churches,” he said. Bishop Williamson, with his views on the Holocaust, faces a challenge above those of his order at large. In a separate section, the Secretariat of State note went on to speak of Bishop Williamson’s positions on the Holocaust, saying they are “absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Holy Father.” In addition to the requirements extended to all the prelates of the Society of St. Pius X, the Vatican added that for Bishop Williamson “to be admitted to function as a bishop within the Church, [he] must also distance himself in an absolutely unequivocal and public way from his positions regarding the Shoah, which were unknown to the Holy Father at the time of the remission of the excommunication.” Missing the mark The Vatican spokesman was not the only one who found Bishop Williamson’s apology Thursday lacking. Jewish groups from various countries have also expressed their dissatisfaction. Dieter Graumann, vice-president of the Central Council for Jews in Germany, told the Handelsblatt newspaper that the prelate’s statement “leads one to the conclusion that he still believes in the Holocaust-denial.” — — —

Filed under: Official Statements

Lent: Friday after Ash Wednesday

From USCCB Lenten Resource Page:

In today’s reading from Isaiah, we hear that the fasting God desires involves addressing injustices in our society and world.

Similarly, in his 2009 Lenten message, Pope Benedict XVI XVI quotes Saint Peter Chrysologus, who writes: “So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself.”

Today, allow the spiritual practice of fasting to move you to engage in actions of mercy for others. Visit the Action Alert page of the Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development to find ways you can show mercy to others by advocating for policies that protect life and promote justice and peace.

Filed under: Personal Reflections

2nd Day of Lent: Solidarity

“Solidarity is the conviction that we are born into a fabric of relationships, that our humanity ties us to others, that the gospel consecrates those ties and that the prophets tell us that those ties are the test by which our very holiness will be judged.” -Rev. J. Bryan Hehir

GIVE some time today to reflect how solidarity relates to your life.

Filed under: Culture, Personal Reflections, Spirituality

Ash Wednesday

Today’s Ash Wednesday reflection suggests that our hearts can extend our reach throughout the world as compassionate ambassadors of Christ.

Lent begins in irony. The Ash Wednesday Gospel entreats us to be subtle about our prayer and fasting. These spiritual practices should be done in solitude, in a locked room. No showy appearances or long faces allowed. But instead we head for church, get in line and receive a black, sooty imprint of the cross upon our foreheads. Then we walk out into the world for all to see. It’s a sign that raises the stakes on the whole season, so the Gospel suggests that we start by checking our motives. If people are staring, they better be seeing Jesus and not us. A cross on my forehead means I’m marked as a Christian, an ambassador of Christ, as Paul puts it in his second letter to the Corinthians.

Looking for Christ’s ambassador this Lent? She’s right over there, with the cross on her head. You can tell by the way she loves the poor. You can tell by the way he speaks out against injustice. You can tell by the way she welcomes and listens. You can tell by his joy. Even after the ashes come off at sundown, the sign should remain.

In your prayer this week, consider, who is watching you this Lent? Who is urgently seeking to meet Christ’s ambassador? How might you extend Jesus’ welcome?

But you may still go to your inner room to fast and pray. Lent is about an interior journey as well as an outward one. As Lent begins, ask Jesus to gently reveal to you what you must give up in order to be the disciple he seeks. What is getting in the way, causing you to stumble? What is taking up too much time and space, leaving less room for the work of the Gospel? These are the things to give up this Lent.

An ambassador lives in a foreign place, offering a piece of home to the compatriot, extending welcome in the name of a distant host. Through Operation Rice Bowl you will have the chance to visit several countries this Lent, with an eye toward how Christ is inviting you to be his ambassador, the representative of his love, his solidarity and his compassion. In Egypt the owner of a small business will invite you to explore the dignity of work and the rights of workers. A Filipino farmer will help you to experience the call to opt for the poor. In Tanzania, a young woman orphaned by AIDS will teach you about the dignity of the human person. A Honduran dairyman amplifies the call to tend God’s creation. A teacher in Ghana will illustrate the give and take of building community through participation. And finally, a family in Colorado Springs will bring home the idea that solidarity can occur both nearby and far away.

By now you may have managed to assemble your Rice Bowl and place it in a spot where it will catch your eye throughout Lent. Six weeks stretch before you. How will you fill the little cardboard box? How will you ensure that it isn’t overlooked? Now’s a great time to strategize with family or friends, perhaps setting a goal for how much each would like to contribute by Easter. Visit Operation Rice Bowl’s Interactive Map to learn about CRS programming supported by your contributions. Create a list of incentives and ideas for making contributions. A great start might be giving the house a thorough sorting and cleaning. Put all the loose change you find in your Rice Bowl. Haul off unneeded items and extra shoes and clothing to the local St. Vincent de Paul Society. Meanwhile, we’ll give you more ideas for ways to contribute with each weekly e-mail or refer to your Home Calendar Guide. And remember, by the end of Lent, 25 percent of your Operation Rice Bowl contributions will stay in your own diocese to meet needs close to home, while the rest will travel the world addressing hunger across the globe.

Filed under: Uncategorized


VATICAN CITY, 17 FEB 2009 (VIS) – In the Holy See Press Office this morning, a press conference was held to present a forthcoming academic congress entitled: “New frontiers of genetics and the dangers of eugenics”. The congress, promoted by the Pontifical Academy for Life for the occasion of its twenty-fifth general assembly, is due to take place in the Vatican’s New Synod Hall on 20 and 21 February. Participating in today’s presentation were Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, respectively president and chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and Bruno Dallapiccola, professor of genetic medicine at Rome’s “La Sapienza” University. ”

The congress will be attended”, Archbishop Fisichella explained, “by scientists from a number of universities, who will examine the question from various points of view: from the strictly biomedical to the legal; from the philosophical and theological to the sociological”. “Thanks to the great work undertaken over the last ten years, above all that of Francis Collins on the Human Genome Project, it is possible to map thousands of genes and thus achieve an understanding of various types of disease; this often offers a real possibility of overcoming heredity ailments”.

“The aim of this congress is to verify whether, in the field genetic experimentation, there are aspects that tend towards – or effectively implement – eugenic practices”, said the archbishop. Such practices “find expression in various scientific, biological, medical, social and political projects, all of them more or less interrelated. These projects require an ethical judgement, especially when it is sought to suggest that eugenic practices are being undertaken in the name of a ‘normality’ of life to offer to individuals”. “Such a mentality, which is certainly reductive but does exist, tends to consider that some people are less valuable than others, either because of the conditions in which they live, such as poverty or lack of education, or because of their physical state, for example the disabled, the mentally ill, people in a ‘vegetative state’, or the elderly who suffer serious disease”.

“Not always do the requirements of medical science meet with the approval philosophers or theologians”, said the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. “If, on the one hand, certain people frequently succumb to the temptation to consider the body in purely material terms, on the other, a concern to ensure the fundamental unity of each individual … is something that must not be marginalised or overlooked”. “Of course research aimed at alleviating individual suffering must increase and develop”, he concluded, “yet at the same time we are called to ensure the increase and development of an ethical conscience, without which all achievements would remain limited and incomplete”.

The Human Genome Project “is one of the great undertakings of the beginning of this new millennium”, said Msgr. Carrasco in his remarks. “If for medicine, and not only for medicine, a knowledge of the human genome is absolutely essential, it is equally important to identify its ethical, legal and social consequences”, he added. “Today”, said the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, “eugenics represents the principal discriminatory utilisation to which the discoveries of genetic science can be put. This is what the congress aims to examine. Obviously, the main objective is to call people’s attention to the considerable benefits we may obtain from genetic research if, as seems correct and appropriate, it attracts the efforts of researchers and public and private investments, while overcoming any temptation to follow the deceptive shortcuts presented by eugenics”. In his comments Professor Dallapiccola indicated that “the proliferation of genomic analyses is destined not only to make people’s lives more dependent on medicine, but also to transform the role of doctors. … The post-genome era risks producing a further involution of the figure of the doctor, who is perhaps destined to become a ‘genomicist’, in other words a specialist in interpreting the sophisticated data emerging from some highly-technological instrument”.

“We must”, he concluded, “take a critical stance, both towards ‘reductionists’ who believe the sequence of the human genome is sufficient to clarify the meaning of human life, and towards ‘determinists’ who hold that they can predict people’s biological destiny, simply be examining their DNA”.


Filed under: healthcare, Medical Ethics