Statement on Cardinal George and Notre Dame

The Catholic New World, newspaper of the Chicago Archdiocese, has published a statement in an attempt to clarify again what Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago actually said — or didn’t say — about next month’s commencement appearance by President Barack Obama at the University of Notre Dame.

The four-point statement says:

1. Cardinal George did not say the university should “disinvite” the president. He said that both the president and his office should be respected and that the university could not and should not rescind an invitation to the president of the United States. The president’s views are well known as are his reasons for them; he is not himself the issue here.

You can read the rest here.

Environmental stewardship takes a front seat

It’s a week before Earth Day, April 22, and a week before the formal kickoff of a new Catholic campaign on climate change.

Under the auspices of the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, the campaign will seek to raise awareness of the environment and the responsibility everyone has to care for God’s good earth.

Dioceses around the country are already signing on to the Catholic Climate Covenant, known as the St. Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor. The covenant will encourage Catholics individually and communally to reflect, pray and act on environmental stewardship and climate change.

At least one diocese has taken steps to assess how to better care for creation.

Organizations, parishes and individuals in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wis., are being asked to consider what the stewardship of creation means to them. The Compass, the diocesan newspaper in Green Bay, has a full report.

CNS will have more on the campaign and the covenant within the next few days.

Another Vatican denial on ambassadors

VATICAN CITY — Never let an on-the-record denial get in the way of a good story.

That seems to be the philosophy behind the continued publication of rumors that the Vatican has rejected the names of three potential U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See, including Caroline Kennedy, because of the candidates’ position on legal abortion.

Last week, we ran a story quoting the Vatican’s spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, who dismissed those reports by saying: “No proposals about the new ambassador of the United States to the Holy See have reached the Vatican, and therefore it is not true that they have been rejected. The rumors circulating about this topic are not reliable.”

But that rather categorical statement didn’t stop media in Europe and bloggers in the United States from repeating the story over the Easter weekend. “Pope says nope to Ambassador Kennedy” was a typical headline in a British tabloid.

Today Father Lombardi issued another denial, this one to Agence France Presse, saying specifically about the Kennedy report:  “There has not been any proposal regarding the new United States ambassador to the Holy See, and it is therefore untrue that she was rejected.”

Other Vatican sources — people who know — have told me the reports are unfounded. And based on conversations I’ve had, their initial bewilderment seems to be turning to irritation as the stories continue to circulate.

THURSDAY UPDATE: The BBC now quotes a “senior White House official” as saying the Obama administration had “not floated any names with the Vatican.”

LCWR reportedly under “doctrinal assessment” by Vatican

The National Catholic Reporter posted a story last night saying that the Vatican has launched a “doctrinal assessment” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which is the main association for major superiors of sisters’ orders in the United States.

This is separate from the Vatican-initiated apostolic visitation of institutes for women religious in the United States, announced in January, to find out why the numbers of their members have decreased during the past 40 years and to look at the quality of life in the communities.

You can read the Reporter’s story here.

Israel, Jordan launch Web sites for pope’s visit


(CNS graphic/Emily Thompson)

VATICAN CITY — The Jordan Tourism Board and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism have opened special Web sites to help pilgrims wanting to follow Pope Benedict XVI’s May 8-15 pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

The Jordanian site, which already has several video clips up, will provide live feeds of the papal events.

The Israeli site provides information in seven languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish and Portuguese. In addition to news about the pope’s visit, it includes information on the most popular Christian sites in Israel and in Palestine.

Both sites include information and photos from Pope John Paul II’s visit in 2000. The Israeli site says of Pope John Paul’s visit:  “His Holiness’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land for the Great Jubilee was the highlight of all of his papal pilgrimages. His visit to the cradle of Christianity bore historical, emotional and spiritual meaning not only for Christianity but also for the Jewish people.”

Of course, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land also has beefed up its Web site in advance of the trip and filled it with news stories from the Custody’s CTS news service.