Cardinal-designate Dolan’s address to Pope Benedict and the College of Cardinals

Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York is in Rome for a Feb. 18 consistory at which he will be made a cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. (CNS photo/Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan has a great sense of humor so it came as no surprise to see his talk to Pope Benedict and the College of Cardinals this morning peppered with witticism and funny anecdotes.

His charm was so contagious he even made Pope Benedict laugh.

One cardinal told us the bit that tickled the pope the most was at the end when the archbishop of New York apologized for having to give his talk in Italian:

“Thank you, Holy Father and brethren, for your patience with my primitive Italian. When Cardinal Bertone asked me to give this address in Italian, I worried, because I speak Italian like a child.

But, then I recalled, that, as a newly-ordained parish priest, my first pastor said to me as I went over to school to teach the six-year old children their catechism, “Now we’ll see if all your theology sunk in, and if you can speak of the faith like a child.” And maybe that’s a fitting place to conclude: we need to speak again as a child the eternal truth, beauty, and simplicity of Jesus and His Church.”

Enjoy the full text of the soon-to-be Cardinal Dolan’s introduction during the cardinals’ “Day of Reflection and Prayer.”

The Announcement of the Gospel Today, Between missio ad gentes and the New Evangelization

Holy Father, Cardinal Sodano, my brothers in Christ:
Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!

It is as old as the final mandate of Jesus, “Go, teach all nations!,” yet as fresh as God’s Holy Word proclaimed at our own Mass this morning.

I speak of the sacred duty of evangelization. It is “ever ancient, ever new.” The how of it, the when of it, the where of it, may change, but the charge remains constant, as does the message and inspiration, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

We gather in the caput mundi, evangelized by Peter and Paul themselves, in the city from where the successors of St. Peter “sent out” evangelizers to present the saving Person, message, and invitation that is at the heart of evangelization: throughout Europe, to the “new world” in the “era of discovery,” to Africa and Asia in recent centuries. Continue reading

New cardinals not all from U.S. (thank God!)

Confession time: We Americans often are accused — and rightly so — of looking primarily at the U.S. angle to a worldwide story and forgetting to see the broader picture. And so it is with this weekend’s creation of 22 new cardinals for the worldwide church. We’re all focused here on the two Americans — Cardinals-designate Timothy M. Dolan and Edwin F. O’Brien — getting red hats from Pope Benedict XVI this Saturday. How many of us can name one of the remaining 20?

Cardinal-designate Collins (CNS/Paul Haring)

Canada, though, is certainly proud of its new entry into the College of Cardinals, Cardinal-designate Thomas C. Collins of Toronto, who will become the 16th Canadian to wear red.

Our colleagues in the Canadian Catholic press are celebrating his elevation with special sections and interviews. Here, for instance, is the launchpad for coverage of the cardinal-designate by The Catholic Register in Toronto. Included is the ability to browse the paper’s 44-page special section on the cardinal.

Our friends at Salt + Light, Canada’s premier Catholic media ministry,  also are celebrating the event with a special series of telecasts from Rome called “The Making of a Cardinal.” The first and second parts are embedded below,  and you can go to Salt + Light’s YouTube channel for the rest as they’re produced.

(Our Rome bureau also interviewed Cardinal-designate Collins on the significance of the red that a cardinal wears; you can watch that here.)

Valentine’s Day in China

Happy Valentine’s Day! Many Chinese are adopting Western  cultural practices, and that includes Valentine’s Day. On the blog at UCA News, an Asian church news agency, writer Teresa Wang looks at how young people especially are celebrating Valentine’s Day, and she offers to alternative dates to celebrate love.

Video excerpts: Interview with USCCB president on contraceptive mandate

Tonight in Rome we interviewed Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, about the bishops’ renewed opposition to the revised contraception mandate for health insurance announced last Friday by President Obama. You can read our story here or watch excerpts of our interview below. The New York archbishop arrived in Rome yesterday for activities leading up to Saturday’s consistory where he will be made a cardinal.

Vatican lawyer on plaintiffs’ decision to abandon 2010 Murphy sex abuse lawsuit

UPDATESex abuse lawsuit against Vatican withdrawn

ROME — Jeffrey S. Lena, an American attorney for the Holy See, announced today that the plaintiffs in a 2010 federal lawsuit against the Vatican regarding Father Lawrence Murphy, who sexually abused students at a Milwaukee Catholic school for the deaf, have notified the court that they have decided to abandon the suit. Below is Lena’s statement:

Statement of Jeffrey S. Lena Regarding John Doe 16 v. Holy See, et al.

(Case No. 2:10-cv-00346 RTR, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin)

On February 10, 2012, Jeffrey R. Anderson, Esq. of the law office of Jeff Anderson and Associates, working together with columnist Marci Hamilton, Esq., filed a voluntary notice of dismissal in the case of John Doe 16 v. Holy See.

The Notice of Voluntary Dismissal — which was filed by the Plaintiff’s lawyers to avoid their duty to submit to the Court a court-ordered response to the Holy See’s Motion to Dismiss — requested that the “Court take notice of this dismissal and remove this matter from its docket.”

With these ignominious words, the John Doe 16 case died silently on a Friday afternoon in what attorney Jeff Anderson has himself called “the crucible of the courtroom.”

Things were different at the beginning of this case. On April 22, 2010, counsel for Plaintiff orchestrated a press event replete with props and other trappings designed to induce a media feeding frenzy. During the frenzy, Plaintiff’s counsel dramatically announced that they held information demonstrating a “world-wide conspiracy” related to sexual abuse that was directed by the Holy See. That outworn and discredited claim was in fact the centerpiece of a planned sequence of media events that took a very serious matter — the sexual abuse of a child — and turned it into a tool to assert fallacious allegations of Holy See responsibility and liability for John Doe 16’s abuse. Continue reading

Second statement by bishops on HHS mandate calls for its total rescission

In a new statement tonight on President Obama’s noontime announcement of a new plan for mandatory contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the “only complete solution” to the religious liberty implications of the insurance mandate “is for HHS to rescind the mandate of these objectionable services.”

Titled “Bishops Renew Call To Legislative Action On Religious Liberty,” the 700-word statement expanded on an earlier statement the same day saying the Obama announcement might be “a first step in the right direction” but that the conference still had concerns and reserved “judgment on the details until we have them.”

Tonight’s statement is a much more detailed analysis of the new plan. It notes that what it calls “the lack of clear protection” for religious employers and insurers “is unacceptable and must be corrected.” It also pledged to continue “efforts to correct this problem through the other two branches of government.”

Here is the full text of tonight’s statement:

The Catholic bishops have long supported access to life-affirming healthcare for all, and the conscience rights of everyone involved in the complex process of providing that healthcare. That is why we raised two serious objections to the “preventive services” regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in August 2011.

First, we objected to the rule forcing private health plans — nationwide, by the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen—to cover sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion. All the other mandated “preventive services” prevent disease, and pregnancy is not a disease. Moreover, forcing plans to cover abortifacients violates existing federal conscience laws. Therefore, we called for the rescission of the mandate altogether.

Second, we explained that the mandate would impose a burden of unprecedented reach and severity on the consciences of those who consider such “services” immoral: insurers forced to write policies including this coverage; employers and schools forced to sponsor and subsidize the coverage; and individual employees and students forced to pay premiums for the coverage. We therefore urged HHS, if it insisted on keeping the mandate, to provide a conscience exemption for all of these stakeholders—not just the extremely small subset of “religious employers” that HHS proposed to exempt initially.

Today, the President has done two things.

First, he has decided to retain HHS’s nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty. Continue reading

Bishops respond to Obama announcement on contraceptive mandate

UPDATE: Full news release.

SECOND UPDATESecond statement by bishops on HHS mandate calls for its total rescission

The following statement was just issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sees initial opportunities in preserving the principle of religious freedom after President Obama’s announcement today. But the Conference continues to express concerns. “While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

‘The past three weeks have witnessed a remarkable unity of Americans from all religions or none at all worried about the erosion of religious freedom and governmental intrusion into issues of faith and morals,” he said.

‘Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said. “We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans’ consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations.”

Vatican confirms meeting of cardinals to approve new saints

You heard it here first! The Vatican today confirmed that, at the end of the Feb. 18 consistory, Benedict will hold a special session for all the cardinals to approve the canonization of new saints, including Blesseds Marianne Cope of Molokai and Kateri Tekakwitha. Such approval is needed before dates can be set for their canonizations.

Catholic News Service first reported this Feb. 2. Read about this announcement, as well as the upcoming consistory at which Pope Benedict will create new cardinals, here.

Blesseds Kateri Tekakwitha and Marianne Cope of Molokai. (CNS photo)

An informal poll on the new WYD logo

You may have heard that the new World Youth Day logo was released last night in Rio de Janiero, where the next big international youth festival will be held next year. Here’s a look at one version of the new logo:

And that prompted the social media desk at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to ask via Twitter what people think of it:

Some replies:

What about you? Add your thoughts in the comments below.

The pope’s talks on prayer

Pope Benedict XVI today continued a series of talks on prayer at his weekly general audience at the Vatican. Today he delved into our occasional feeling of being abandoned by God, highlighting Christ’s prayer from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

If you missed it, our Rome bureau’s Vatican Report last week was an explanation of what the pope has been saying. You can watch it here:

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