Church and World
French Catholics Protest in Favor of the Family
In Paris, on January 13, 2013, the evening of the day of protests against proposed legislation to redefine marriage, Alain Escada, president of the Civitas Institute, published a news release with an account of the event. “Never has Civitas gathered such a multitude. Nearly 50,000 people joined us on Place Pinel to pray for France and to denounce the appalling legislation concocted by a government of sorcerer’s apprentices. We thank the many friendly associations that came to support us. Nearly a million protestors were here in the capital this Sunday, from every region and every walk of life.” Mr. Escada encouraged his readers to continue the struggle. “The conclusion is self-evident. If the President of the Republic hopes to avoid a disastrous end to his term of presidency, he must start listening to the people of France, who clearly did not elect him for Bill 31.”
The protest organized by the Civitas Institute was supported by several other movements, including but not limited to such groups as the local family councillors’ group, the Catholic doctors and nurses’ association, the Tourtereaux, the association of Catholics of Val d’Oise, the Marnaise association for Christianity and society, the ‘Laissez-les-Vivre’ group, the Movement of Catholic Families, Catholic Renaissance, SOS Tout Petits, the association of Our Lady of Light, SOS Mamans, the Anjou students’ group against same-sex marriage, the Catholic students’ group of Toulouse, Vendée’s Clean Earth group, the Catholic Honour group, Riaumont, Scouts of Doran, Scouts of Godfrey de Bouillon, Perigord Friendships for France, the association for descendants of the papal Swiss Guard, the national veterans’ group, the React group, the Versailles Family Solidarity group, the Center for studies on the recognition of the human person, the ‘Oui à la Famille, non à l’homofolie’ group, and the association Papa, Maman et Nous. Among the protestors were Fr. Régis de Cacqueray and many other priests of the SSPX, as well as Fr. Jean-Nöel, superior of the Society of the Transfiguration, and priests from the Institute of the Holy Cross at Riaumont, the Institute of Christ the King, and the Good Shepherd Institute.
Anti-Clericals Seek to Remove Crucifix from Polish Parliament
On January 14, 2013, the District Court of Warsaw rejected the renewed request, led by the anticlerical movement Palikot, to remove the crucifix present in the hall of the National Parliament. According to the Polish Catholic news agency KAI, the “anti-crucifix” deputies argued that “crosses placed in public places violate the Constitution and the freedom of conscience and of religion.” According to them, the cross influences the decisions made in Parliament.
The court esteemed that the religious symbol was “not an attack on private property” and could not be a “source of prejudice.” The anticlerical members of Parliament are able to appeal this decision at a higher juridical level. The Palikot movement is the third faction in the lower house of the Polish Parliament; it received ten percent of the votes in 2011. (DICI.org)
U.S. Bishops Stand Against Anti-Catholic Legislation
While certainly not a unanimous front, it is important to note that many of the United States’ bishops have publicly taken a stand against the anti-Catholic legislation proposed by the Obama administration’s HHS Mandate.
LifeSite News spoke with some of the bishops at this year’s March for Life, and some of the more hopeful responses to questions about the bishops’ reactions are as follows:
Bishop Alexander Sample, Marquette: “We will not simply roll over and accept the mandate.”
Bishop David Zubik, Pittsburgh: “We can’t compromise on the principles; all we have to do is look at our history. Take a look at the saints who defended our faith and that’s what it’s about.”
Bishop Samuel Aquila, Denver: “Many of us have already stated that we will not and cannot cooperate with the mandate. There will be implications on it, whether it means narrowing some of what we do, or continue what we do and not cooperate with the mandate.”
In the end, every prelate who spoke with LifeSite News admitted that he would be willing to go to jail rather than comply with the anti-Catholic HHS Mandate. But perhaps the most encouraging and direct statement comes from the newly appointed bishop to Lincoln, Nebraska, Bishop James Conley. In a recent statement on the Mandate, he stated, “The Catholic Church is not going to back down. We are never going to compromise our principles. We will defy it and face the consequences.” Let us hope and pray that these statements represent a strengthening of the entire U.S. Episcopacy in the face of an increasingly anti-Catholic government.
(Source: LifeSiteNews, LifeNews)
The Black Madonna of Czestochowa Vandalized
On December 9, 2012, a 58-year-old man threw light bulbs filled with black paint at the icon of the Black Madonna in Czestochowa, in southern Poland. A police spokeswoman, Joanna Lazar, told the Polish news website Wirtualna Polska that security at the monastery had restrained the man and handed him over to police.
The vandal was a resident of Swidnica in Lower Silesia (south-west Poland), and he is expected to undergo psychiatric evaluation.
Tradition says the icon of the Black Madonna, enshrined in the monastery of Jasna Gora, was painted by St. Luke on wood from a table belonging to the Holy Family. It is the best-known symbol of Polish Catholicism. Every year the shrine draws millions of pilgrims. St. Ladislaus of Opala left the painting at Jasna Gora in 1382; the image is easily recognized by its distinctive slashes, left on the Madonna’s cheek by Tartar looters on April 14, 1430, Easter Sunday.
After World War II, Jasna Gora became the spiritual capital of Poland. In September 1948, the primate of Poland, Cardinal August Hlond, consecrated Poland to the Immaculate Heart at the shrine.
(Sources: kipa/apic–DICI No. 267)
Press Release of the General House of the Society of Saint Pius X
The Society of Saint Pius X has learned of the sudden announcement about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, which will be effective on the evening of February 28, 2013. Despite the doctrinal differences that were still evident on the occasion of the theological talks held between 2009 and 2011, the Society of Saint Pius X does not forget that the Holy Father had the courage to recall the fact that the Traditional Mass had never been abrogated, and to do away with the canonical sanctions that had been imposed on its bishops following their consecration in 1988. It is not unaware of the opposition that these decisions have stirred up, obliging the pope to justify himself to the bishops of the whole world. The Society expresses its gratitude to him for the strength and the constancy that he has shown toward it in such difficult circumstances, and assures him of its prayers for the time that he wishes to devote from now on to recollection.
Following its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the Society of Saint Pius X reaffirms its attachment to eternal Rome, Mother and Instructress [Mater et Magistra] of Truth, and to the See of Peter. It reiterates its desire to make its contribution, according to its abilities, to resolving the grave crisis that is shaking the Church. It prays that, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the cardinals of the next conclave may elect the pope who, according to the will of God, will work for the restoration of all things in Christ (Eph. 1:10).
Menzingen, February 11, 2013, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
The Society of St. Pius X to Be Consecrated to St. Joseph
The theme of this year’s Pentecost pilgrimage from Chartres to Paris will be: “Go to Joseph.” In Paris on January 6, during the conference he gave for Courrier de Rome’s eleventh congress, Bishop Bernard Fellay officially announced that he would consecrate the Society of St. Pius X to St. Joseph, protector of the Church, on March 19,2013, in Ecône.
In the Pentecost pilgrimage’s preparatory doctrinal and spiritual booklet, this quote taken from The Mystery of St. Joseph’s Paternity by Canon Daniel-Joseph Lallement shows how appropriate this consecration is: “We are living in a time when man wishes to seek satisfaction by feverishly filling himself with earthly things. St. Joseph, a man of God, the man of the Virgin Mary, is the antithesis of materialism. He will be given as a sure remedy for humanism and materialism. But let us understand things from yet another point of view: in the secret designs of Providence, humanism and materialism will be an opportunity to manifest the glory of St. Joseph.…Dare I add that among the forgotten goods that God prepares beyond the disasters of humanism and materialism, is the glorification of St. Joseph: disgusted with themselves and tired of earthly food, men will turn to the poor man of God.”
As the prayer of the Litany of St. Joseph says: “May we deserve to have as our intercessor in heaven him whom we venerate as our protector on earth!”
French Senate Authorizes Human Embryo Research
In the night of December 4-5, 2012, senators passed an amendment to the law of July 7, 2011, on bioethics. Under certain conditions, embryo and embryonic stem cell research is now legal. The Senate’s website quotes the amendment: “Embryonic stem cell research gives hope; researchers have long been interested in stem cells because of their considerable therapeutic potential.” The amendment calls for the current legal ban on embryonic stem cell research to be lifted; it even allowed for multiple exemptions, and for permission for “supervised” research.
On behalf of the French bishops’ conference, Archbishop Pierre d’Ornellas of Rennes strongly criticized the amendment. In a press release dated December 5, the Archbishop asked, “Does the life of the human embryo deserve protection? Yes or no? The Senate has answered in the negative. The Senate is aware that such research constitutes an ‘anthropological transgression,’ but it has nonetheless voted to authorize human embryo research, in principle and no longer only in exceptional cases.” The Archbishop states that “the motive cited, that France might lag behind other nations in scientific research, is dubious. Does the progress of French research really depend on this authorization? The human embryo has a right to protection.”
The bishops of France consider the Senate’s decision “shocking”—all the more so since the amendment was proposed and voted on without any real debate, while Article 46 of the 2011 law on bioethics stated that “any proposed reform related to ethical problems and social issues raised by the progress of knowledge in the fields of biology, medicine and health must be preceded by a public debate involving people from every stratum.”
The amendment, which has not yet been submitted to the National Assembly, was passed thanks in part to votes from right-wing senators.
(Sources: kipa/apic.ch/senat.fr–DICI, No. 267)
Irish Church Opposes Pro-Abortion Legislation
On December 18, 2012, the Irish government proposed a bill authorizing abortion in cases where the mother’s life is endangered. The Irish Catholic Church immediately expressed its opposition, claiming that this would go against the “pro-life” intention clearly expressed by the Irish people and inscribed in Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution. According to Cardinal Sean Brady, archbishop of Armagh, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, archbishop of Dublin, Archbishop Dermot Clifford, archbishop of Cahel and Emly, and Archbishop Michael Neary, archbishop of Tuam, lifting the penalties for abortion “would open the path to direct and intentional murders of unborn children. That can never be justified morally, no matter what the circumstances may be.”
On December 18, in a public declaration, the prelates called all to pray that the bill proposed by the Irish government may not be adopted by Parliament, who should vote on it before this summer. The next day, during a press conference, Bishop John Buckley (on the picture), bishop of Cork and Ross, in southern Ireland, added that according to studies, the practice of abortion because of a risk of suicide by the mother opens the door to abortion for all who ask. He quoted England, where one in four pregnancies ends in abortion. And he thus concluded that “abortion is the most serious threat to human rights.” The prelate also pointed out that it is “ironic” to observe that while the latest referendum in Ireland, approved by all parties, referred to children’s rights, “it now seems that the unborn child can be deprived of the most fundamental right of all, the right to life.”
(Sources: apic–DICI, No. 268)
Catholic Church in Dakar Profaned
The Church of Mary Immaculate of Parcelles-Assainies in Dakar was profaned during the night of December 2-3, 2012. A statue of the Virgin Mary as well as the arms of the Infant Jesus were struck with rocks and broken. The two statues were set up at the entrance to the church beneath a hut with a triangular roof that served as a place of prayer and recollection for the faithful of the parish.
According to the Senegalese Press Agency (APS), the Senegalese President Macky Sall said that he was “upset” and urged the public security forces to deal severely with the perpetrators. “Concerned about safeguarding the balance [équilibres] and the peaceful coexistence of the various beliefs in a secular Republic, the Head of State, Mr. Macky Sall, expressed his emotions to all persons of faith who were affected by these acts,” his spokesman Abou Abel Thiam declared the day after the incident.
For his part, the Archbishop of Dakar, Cardinal Théodore Adrien Sarr, called on the Catholic faithful to exercise restraint. He asked that there be no response to the provocations, which he described as Satanic acts. Quoted by the Internet news website senenews.com on December 4, he urged the Christian community not to give in to “panic” and “anger,” but to wait for “the results of the investigations.”
These misdeeds in the church in Parcelles-Assainies occurred after a series of 160 desecrations of graves in two cemeteries in Dakar last October.
Senegal is a secular country with 13 million inhabitants, the majority of them Muslim (around 95%).
(Sources: apic/aps/senenews.com—DICI, No. 267)
France: Facing the Crisis of Vocations
Aging priests and increasingly fewer young Catholics ready to take the path of the religious life, such was the report given February 1, 2013, to the French Bishops’ Conference (CEF). France faces a serious crisis of vocations. Between 2000 and 2012, the number of candidates for the priesthood has fallen by a third, from 976 candidates in 2000 to 691 in 2012. In light of this fact, French bishops have begun a campaign to promote vocations among youth aged 15 to 20, called “Jeunes cathos 2.0” [Young Catholics 2.0].
Moreover, the Conference of French Religious (Corref) has published the results of a survey taken in 2009 that studied all types of community life in France—retirement homes, university campuses, boarding facilities, workers’ homes, prisons, religious communities. “Religious communities, convents and other monasteries (most ancient form of community life along with barracks) include 37,000 people. The population is elderly with an average of 66 years. Women are in the majority (74%). A high proportion of religious hold diplomas (61% hold a degree equivalent or superior to the French baccalaureate, and 42% hold an undergraduate or postgraduate degree).” To be exact, in 2000 48,412 apostolic religious were counted and 28,678 in 2010, while the number of cloistered religious went from 5,237 to 3,864 in 2010.
Two years ago, in an interview with the Vatican Radio on February 16, 2011, Cardinal Franc Rodé, former prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, stated, “It must be recognized that religious life is in crisis today,” adding, “Secularization has taken over many communities and consciences”; this “secularization is expressed by prayer that is not recollected, often formal; secularization attacks the concept of obedience by introducing a ‘democratic’ mentality that excludes the role of the legitimate authority.” See DICI, No. 231, March 5, 2011.
(Sources: Vatican Radio–DICI, 270)