PREPARE FOR LENT WITH POPE BENEDICT XVI THE PONTIFF CALLS FOR CONVERSION IN HIS LENTEN MESSAGE FULL TEXT, PAGE 5
Pope urges bishops to fight tide of secularism
BY ED WEST
POPE BENEDICT XVI has criticised the “tide of secularism” sweeping Britain and spoken of growing public backing for euthanasia in his ad limina address to Scottish bishops.
Speaking last Friday in Rome, the Pontiff condemned support for euthanasia as the Scottish Parliament debated legalising assisted suicide. Euthanasia, he said, goes directly against the Christian idea of the dignity of human life.
But he also said that too many people see the Church in terms of “prohibitions and retrograde positions” when in reality it is “creative and life-giving, and it is directed towards the fullest possible realisation of the great potential for good and for happiness that God has implanted within every one of us”.
The Pope made his speech just a few days after he had condemned the British Government’s “unjust” equality laws, which he said restricted religious freedom, in an address to the English and Welsh bishops.
He also told the Scottish bishops they must “evangelise society” as he highlighted his concerns about the country.
“That task requires a readiness to grapple firmly with the challenges presented by the increasing tide of secularism in your country,” he said. “If the Church’s teaching is compromised, even slightly, in one such area, then it becomes hard to defend the fullness of Catholic doctrine in an integral manner.”
Last month Margo MacDonald, a member of the Scottish Parliament, introduced a bill to legalise assisted suicide in the country. It would go even further than the guidelines for England and Wales being drawn up by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, which are likely to state that anyone who helps a loved one die will not be prosecuted unless they did it for profit or if the victim was not seriously ill.
The Pope criticised this development, as well as the legalisation of animal-human hybrid embryos in 2008.
“Recent developments in medical ethics and some of the practices advocated in the field of embryology give cause for great concern,” he said.
The Pope illustrated the theme of his address by reminding the bishops of the life of St John Ogilvie, who in 1614 was hanged and disembowelled after torture for his refusal to give up the Catholic faith and revert to Protestantism.
Addressing Scotland’s sectarian problem, he praised Catholic schools for “overcoming sectarianism and building good relations between communities”. He called such institutions “a powerful force for social cohesion” and said that “when the occasion arises, you do well to underline this point”.
Benedict XVI confirmed that he would travel to Scotland as part of the historic first papal state visit to Britain, where he said he would “have the joy of being present with you and the Catholics of Scotland on your native soil”. Pope Benedict is expected to begin his three-day visit to the UK in Edinburgh.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the president of the Scottish bishops’ conference, told the Pope: “We remember with joy the visit of your venerable predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in 1982.
“We are certain that the Scottish people will give Your Holiness a heartfelt welcome. We hope that your visit to Scotland later this year will bring us renewed encouragement, vigour and joy as we seek to serve Christ in the circumstances of the present day.”
A spokesman for the Church in Scotland said: “The Pope’s remarks gave been welcomed in their entirety by the members of the bishops’ conference and the wider Catholic community in Scotland.”
Full texts: Page 2
February 12 2010 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Bishops: Romero should be canonised
A parishioner touches an image of Archbishop Romero at the cathedral where he is buried
BY DAVID V BARRETT
THE BISHOPS of El Salvador are preparing to write to the Vatican calling for Archbishop Oscar Romero to be canonised.
Their intervention comes ahead of a series of events marking the 30th anniversary of the archbishop’s death. Archbishop Romero was shot through the heart on March 24 1980 while celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel.
They have received support from Bishop Michael Evans of East Anglia, who said this week that he was a “prophet of justice” and a martyr,
Bishop Evans said: “Archbishop Romero has inspired Christian communions throughout the world. The Anglican Church has recognised him as a great heroic man of faith, a great prophet of justice and peace, a martyr who gave his life for God.”
Archbishop Romero’s Cause was opened in 1997 and Pope John Paul II gave him the title Servant of God.
San Salvador Archbishop José Escobar Alas said: “It is our great desire that Archbishop Romero be canonised as soon as possible.” He said the Congregation for Saints’ Causes was considering the matter.
Two major ecumenical services will be held in Britain to mark his martyrdom. The first, on Saturday March 20, at York Minster, will be led by Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and the Anglican Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.
A week later, on Palm Sunday, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, will lead a service at Westminster Abbey.
Cardinal O’Brien will preside at a Mass in Edinburgh Cathedral on the anniversary of Archbishop Romero’s death.
The Diocese of East Anglia will hold a Romero Week, with a choral evensong at the Anglican cathedral and an anniversary Mass at St John’s Cathedral, Norwich.
In El Salvador the new president, Mauricio Funes, will take part in a commemoration. He has dedicated his presidency to the memory of Oscar Romero.
Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham and Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds will be among the British clergy there.
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Harman drops equality clause – but not because of Pope’s speech
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Cath Herald Feb 2010
BY SIMON CALDWELL
HARRIET HARMAN has announced that the Government will not challenge a Lords amendment deleting a section of the Equality Bill which threatened the churches.
It was reported that the decision of Equality Minister came as a result of criticism of the Government’s equality agenda by Pope Benedict XVI in an address to the bishops of England and Wales last week.
But Miss Harman had made her announcement in the House of Commons four days before the Pope said that the effect of some of Britain’s equality legislation was to “impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.
She said she did not anticipate a narrowed exemption for priests and senior church employees to be “brought forward again in this House”.
A week earlier the Lords had rejected sections of the
Equality Bill that would have forced the Church to accept women, sexually active gays and transsexuals as candidates for the priesthood.
The Government decided not to challenge the Lords because it was running out of time to push the Bill through.
Miss Harman’s statement, however, triggered accusations that she had buckled under criticism from the Pope.
Richard Kornicki, the bishops’ parliamentary coordinator, said Miss Harman’s announcement had led to “extraordinary hysteria” about alleged papal interference.
He said that the Pope had reflected on trends since the bishops made their last ad limina visit five years ago.
In that time Parliament forced the bishops to either relinquish control of adoption agencies unable to assess same-sex couples as potential foster parents or to close them down.
Feature: Page 8
Britons able to pray for bishops online
Mika recalls praying for kidnapped father
BY DAVID V BARRETT
A WEBSITE set up to encourage Americans to pray for their bishops has been extended to include British bishops.
The site, www.RosaryForTheBishop.com, was launched in January. The idea originated in 2005 in Madison, Wisconsin, when the cathedral was destroyed by arson, and a local Catholic, Syte Reitz, collected prayer pledges. Her son Tom, a computer student, set up the website. Mr Reitz said: “We need to support our bishops’ hands so that they do not weary in the battle for the faith. Many Catholics pray the rosary every day. Why not pray one for our bishops? They are our shepherds, and their job is not easy.”
Once people sign up they can pledge to pray for specific bishops on specific days, and ask to be sent a reminder. Statistics show how many people are praying for each bishop.
Editorial Comment: Page 13
BY BRIGITTE ISTIM
THE SINGER Mika has revealed how his Catholic family prayed for his father’s release and safekeeping when he was kidnapped during the 1991 Gulf War.
Born in Beirut, Mika is one of five children of a Lebanese mother and American father. He told Scotland on Sunday that his father was held hostage in Kuwait for eight months as part of Saddam Hussein’s human shield. His mother insisted the family “sit around every evening and do the rosary a few times”.
Mika said that although he disagrees with many of the
Church’s teachings he always likes to visit churches and sees them as “a refuge from the outside world”.
Mika became famous in 2007 with his album, Life in Cartoon Motion.
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