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JULY 7: A CALL TO FORGIVENESS
An interview with the Catholic mother who lost her son in the London attacks Page 8
WOMEN BISHOPS: THE END OF ECUMENISM? Phillip Blond Page 10
No. 6258 www.catholicherald.co.uk
July 7, 2006 £1 (Republic of Ireland ‰1.50)
Vatican cardinal: Church could be taken to international court
Catholic teaching on life and the family may be ‘criminalised’, says Cardinal Trujillo
T HE C ATHOLIC Church is on a collision course with international law over its opposition to stem cell research and gay marriage, a leading Vatican official has said. The warning came just days before Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Spain this weekend, where the Pontiff is expected to challenge the country’s socialist government over its secularist policies. Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, attacked liberal governments, which he claimed were on the verge of criminalising pro-life and pro-family positions. He said: “We worry especially that, with current laws, speaking in defence of life and the rights of families is becoming in some societies sort of a crime against the state. “The Church is at risk of being brought before some international court if the debate becomes any tenser, if the more radical requests get heard.” The Cardinal’s remarks were made ahead of this week’s World Meeting of Families (WMF) in Valencia, in which Pope Benedict will reaffirm the Church’s commitment to preserving life at all stages and the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. Vatican experts say that the decision to hold the meeting in Spain is significant because Pope Benedict considers the country – a former Catholic stronghold – a key battleground in his ongoing war against “the dictatorship of
relativism”. Spain’s socialist government, led by José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has introduced a raft of anti-Catholic legislation, relaxing restrictions on abortion, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia as well as legalising same-sex unions and gay adoption. Shortly after his socialist party was elected, Mr Zapatero outlined his commitment to hindering Catholic influence in Spain by blocking proposals to introduce mandatory religious education classes in schools. The government has also issued a ruling that Spanish birth certificates will no longer say “father” and “mother”, but “progenitor A” and “progenitor B”. Mr Zapatero’s Left-wing party has made clear its opposition to Catholic values. “We can’t allow Catholic doctrine to be superior to the government and the government’s legitimacy,” said government spokesman Fernando Moraleda. Pope Benedict has already signalled his intention to confront the Zapatero regime over these issues. When greeting Spain’s new ambassador to the Holy See in May, the Pontiff said that the WMF in Valencia would be an occasion to re-energise the faithful’s support for “the beauty and fertility of the family, founded on marriage”. The Pope has also underlined “the Spanish people’s constant attachment to the Catholic faith” and expressed his alarm at Mr Zapatero’s laws, which he said
threaten “the right to practise one’s religious faith without either public or private hindrance”. He is expected to reiterate these concerns in Valencia this weekend. Spanish Catholics have already demonstrated their willingness to fight against Mr Zapatero’s reforms. Last June, hundreds of thousands of the faithful and others came together on the streets of Madrid to protest against the gay marriage law and to show support for traditional matrimonio. The government’s antiCatholic education law, known as the LOE (Organic Education Law), also prompted mass protests, with more than two million people marching against the legislation. In such a divisive political climate, this week’s meeting in Valencia is certain to be a highly charged occasion. The event has been organised by Cardinal Trujillo, who last week said that Catholics who participate in embryonic stem cell research should be excommunicated. In an interview with the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana , the Colombian cardinal said: “Destroying human embryos is equivalent to an abortion… it is the same thing.” The cardinal is understood to have been referring to canons 1364-1399 of the Code of Canon Law, which list the offences – including “procuring an abortion” – that cause latae sententiae (automatic) excommunication. Cardinal Trujillo also condemned the “absolute empti
ness” of homosexual unions and attacked European governments that have legally recognised gay couples. Last month the Pontifical Council for the Family released a 60-page document, signed by Cardinal Trujillo, listing the sins against life and the family in modern life. “Never before has the natural institution of matrimony and family been victim of such violent attacks,” said the text. In addition to re-emphasising the Church’s unwavering opposition to same-sex unions and abortion, the document also accused married couples who use natural family planning to limit their family’s size of “making marriage sterile”. Journalists in Rome suggested that the Vatican press office had played down the significance of the Council’s document. The text was handed out to reporters without an announcement or a press conference. Cardinal Trujillo was sharply criticised for the document. The Italian newspaper Libero said the text “fell like a load of cement” upon Pope Benedict’s positive messages about love and sexuality. But the cardinal remained unfazed. “The uproar provoked by the text is a positive thing,” he said. In 2003 the head of the Pontifical Council for the Family was fiercely criticised for saying that condoms were not an effective weapon in the fight against Aids because the HIVvirus could pass through holes in latex.
Cardinal Trujillo: ‘Defending life and the family is becoming a sort of crime against the state’
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General Synod considers dropping St George as patron of England
T HETIMING couldn’t be less appropriate. As football fans reluctantly took down the flags of St George after England’s quarterfinal exit from the World Cup, the Church of England prepared to debate the notion that maybe an alternative patron saint might be in order. The General Synod is to discuss the idea of making St Alban, the proto-martyr, patron saint of England because St George is seen as “too militaristic and is offensive to Muslims”. Supporters of the move claim that St Alban was real whereas St George’s existence is disputed, largely because of a lack of knowledge about his history. Pope Gelasius, for example, suggested “his
‘I’m all forthat!’
actions were known only to God”. Philip Chester, vicar of St Matthew’s, Westminster, who is backing the change, said the decision to pick St George as England’s premier saint had always been a bit “dotty”.
St George, a fourth-century Roman cavalryman from Cappadocia, was adopted by Crusaders in the Holy Land. He was said to have protested against the persecution of Christians, famously tearing down Diocletian’s edict against the faithful, and was beheaded at Lydda in Palestine. The Anglican motion follows a national search conducted by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme for a replacement for St George. More than 1,000 listeners voted in the radio poll and made St Alban number one. Dr Christopher Lewis, Dean of St Alban’s Cathedral, told Today that Alban occupied a unique position in England’s Christian heritage. “He sheltered a Christian priest who was fleeing from persecution from the Romans...
was eventually converted to Christianity and then enabled the Christian priest to escape but was himself arrested,” he explained. St Alban, who also lived in the fourth century, declined to pay homage to the pagan gods and was executed in the town that now bears his name. But supporters of St George insist the move to demote him is a flight of fancy. Fr Tom Jordan, parish priest of St Edward the Confessor, Romford, Essex, said: “Edward was co-patron of England with St Edmund before St George. I think a change is unlikely. I always tell people that St George was a good Arab with a strong international following. He seems to fit the bill.”
Editorial Comment:Page 11
Anger over Cheshire snub
There were protests this week over plans to change the name of the charity founded by the Second World War hero and VC winner Leonard Cheshire, the Catholic RAF bomber commander who went on to dedicate his life to the care of the disabled. P3
The Church in England and Wales has disclosed that there were 60 allegations of child abuse against clergy and lay workers last year. P2
BMA vote applauded
Pro-life groups have welcomed the decision by the British Medical Association to condemn physician-assisted suicide. P2
Plater College sold
Plater College in Oxford has been sold for £5.6million. The college closed last year following damning inspection reports. P3
Cardinal calls for ‘moral revolution’
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor has appealed for a moral awakening in the spirit of St Francis. P3
The Vatican has decided to open its archives covering the years up to the Second World War.The move is expected to help to disprove theories that the Vatican was complicit in the Holocaust. P4
Benedict XVI has given his approval to the ordination of a married man in the Pope’s former German diocese. P4
Italy baptism row
An Italian woman is threatening to sue a priest after he expelled her from her son’s baptism. P4
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