New Los Angeles Cathedral Dedicated
Nearly five years after its ground was blessed, and with thousands of people gathered in celebration in its plaza, the world’s newest cathedral church was opened and dedicated on Sept. 2 in downtown Los Angeles. “My friends, welcome to the city’s, and your, new cathedral,” Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said at the start of the dedication liturgy for the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The sustained applause that greeted the cardinal’s words reflected gratitude, joy and, for some, relief—as much at the conclusion of years of waiting for the new church as from the blazing September sun that baked the large cathedral plaza on the second hottest day of summer. It was the people of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for whom the cathedral was built, Cardinal Mahony said, and they who must serve as “the living temple of the Lord,” a people transformed by their experience of God inside so they may go forth to help build the kingdom of God outside.
African-American Catholics Strive for ‘Solidarity in Action’
Approximately 3,000 African-American Catholics from across the nation celebrated the Labor Day weekend in downtown Chicago at the first National Black Catholic Congress of the 21st century. The theme of National Black Catholic Congress IX was “Black Catholic Leadership in the 21st Century: Solidarity in Action.” Initiated in 1889 in Washington by Ohio newspaperman Daniel Rudd, the congress has been held every five years since 1987. Chicago last hosted the event in 1893, during which discriminatory actions in Catholic schools were condemned. The 2002 congress listed spirituality, parish life, youth and young adults, Catholic education, social justice, racism, Africa and H.I.V.-AIDS as issues of greatest concern to African-American Catholics.
Vatican Says War on Terrorism Must Be War for Global Justice
A Vatican official said the war against terrorism unleashed after Sept. 11, 2001, must become a struggle for the “rule of law” and justice, not simply the imposition of the policies of stronger nations. “A fight against terrorism that does not want to limit itself to the elimination of a few personalities considered dangerous should become by its nature a fight for values and for the equal co-existence between peoples,” said Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. “The less one faces the great social injustices and imbalances, the greater the risk of strengthening that climate of insecurity that helped foment the very terrorism this war seeks to eliminate,” he said. Archbishop Martin, the Vatican representative to Geneva-based U.N. organizations, made his remarks on Sept. 2 in Palermo, Sicily, at a peace forum organized by the Italian Catholic Sant’Egidio Community.
Earlier, in a message sent to the meeting, Pope John Paul II decried the use of weapons to resolve conflicts and said peace could be achieved only by “igniting beacons” of dialogue and mutual comprehension. The pope said this policy was especially needed in the fight against terrorism and in the conflict-torn regions of the Middle East and Africa. “It is necessary to dissipate the clouds of suspicion and incomprehension,” he said, recalling his own words at an interreligious meeting in Assisi, Italy, after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. “But shadows are not dissipated with weapons; they are thrown back by igniting beacons of light,” the pope said.
After Sept. 11 Surge, Donations Drop
After a brief surge in donations following Sept. 11, 2001, many Catholic charitable organizations experienced a decrease in giving, though the drop-off probably had more to do with a shaky economy than the terrorist attack itself. So said Frank Butler, president of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, an umbrella group for 48 Catholic family foundations. “Most charities seemed to report a decrease in giving after Sept. 11,” Butler said. “That seems odd, but grant-making to related causes—Red Cross, Catholic Charities, etc.—pulled in a couple of billion dollars. People were channeling money to relief work surrounding Sept. 11.” That resulted in a decrease in giving to other charitable organizations around the country. “The event itself drew attention to New York and Washington,” Butler said. “And enormous—historically—amounts were raised in the 90 days immediately after Sept. 11.”
Vatican Urges Change in Patterns of Consumption
The challenges of global development require major changes in industrialized countries’ consumption and production patterns and a greater focus on eradicating extreme poverty, a top Vatican diplomat said. Addressing the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development, held on Aug. 26-Sept. 4 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Archbishop Renato Martino also said poor people and weaker countries must be given a greater voice in national development plans and the United Nations. Archbishop Martino, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations and delegation head to the summit, proposed a “gift of self” approach to development, describing it as effective and the only way to personal self-fulfillment.
Catholics Must Speak Against Immorality, Says Vatican Official
U.S. Archbishop John P. Foley, the Vatican’s top communications official, said Catholics must speak out courageously against immorality, such as abortion and homosexual activity, despite the risk of causing offense. “We know well that today many people are prisoners of the ‘politically correct,’” the archbishop, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said on Aug. 29. “They are afraid of speaking against abortion, adultery, homosexual activity, contraception and premarital relations because it could be considered offensive in our increasingly tolerant society,” he said. But, he said, “We, as Catholics and Christian communicators, are obliged to speak the truth, in season and out of season, even when it is ‘politically incorrect.’”
Church Concerned Over Rise in Militias in Eastern Indonesia
Church leaders in Indonesia’s West Papua Province are concerned over the rise of trained militias in the region, a Papuan priest said. Militias organized and supported by the Indonesian military have sprouted throughout the eastern province, whose citizens have been waging a battle for self-determination for nearly 30 years. Church leaders are concerned that the militias’ presence could result in violence similar to that which engulfed East Timor in 1999, when the former Indonesian province voted for its independence, said Father Neles Tebay, a Papuan human rights campaigner. “The greatest need for West Papuans is the security of their life,” Father Tebay said. The priest told Catholic News Service during a visit to Washington that Indonesian forces have used murder, torture, arbitrary detention and rape as tactics to defeat the self-determination movement.
Two pastors in the Diocese of Bridgeport will perform “public penance” by living at a religious retreat for an undetermined time because they failed to reveal the location of a third priest—sought in connection with accusations of child sexual abuse, announced Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport.
Archbishop John P. Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, awarded the annual Bresson Prize for spiritual filmmaking to self-professed agnostic director Theo Angelopoulos on Aug. 31 during the annual Venice Film Festival.
Nine Italians, including a Capuchin friar, were arrested in late August on charges of fraudulently collecting $200,000 in donations by using Padre Pio’s name. Italian investigators said none of the money collected went to charity.
The current clergy sexual abuse crisis requires a “systematic change” in the way bishops exercise power to allow greater voice by the laity, priests and religious, said the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in a statement issued on Aug. 24.
On Aug. 28, Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljic was awarded the International Forgiveness Prize, which includes a $100,000 cash award, for his decade-long attempt to promote reconciliation among his war-torn country’s ethnic and religious groups.