The National Catholic Review
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Baltimore Basilica Marks 100,000 Visitors

As Rosalie Dohm of Woodbridge, Va., climbed the stairs to the nations first Catholic cathedral Aug. 2, she thought it was unusual that Cardinal William H. Keeler was personally greeting each of the visitors from her parish tour group. The 66-year-old parishioner of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Lake Ridge, Va., then found herself in the spotlight when Cardinal Keeler handed her a package and balloons and congratulated her for being the 100,000th visitor to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary since it reopened last November. Im dumbfounded, said Dohm, who came on the tour with her parishs Silver Foxes senior citizen group. I was excited about seeing this place, but wow. What a shock to be told you are the 100,000th visitor since it opened back up to the public.

Cardinal Keeler said he was overwhelmed by the number of people who have flocked to the cathedral since it was restored to the vision of its architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the father of American architecture, who also designed the U.S. Capitol.

Kenyan Court Decides Missionarys Death Was Murder

A Kenyan bishop applauded an inquest court ruling that a U.S. priest who died in Kenya in 2000 did not commit suicide, as the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation had claimed, but was murdered. Bishop Peter Kairo of Nakuru, head of the Kenyan bishops conferences justice and peace commission, described the ruling as superb. The fact that the inquest court has managed to rule out the F.B.I. suicide theory on the murder of the late Catholic priest is good enough. After a nearly four-year-long inquest into the death of John Kaiser, who belonged to the Mill Hill Missionaries, the presiding magistrate, Maureen Odero, said in the ruling that there exists sufficient evidence to show third-party involvement in the death of the deceased and recommended that the Kenyan police immediately start fresh investigations to determine who killed Father Kaiser.

Lithuanian Bishops Object to Some Medical Training

Lithuanias bishops said they are gravely concerned over a Ministry of Health draft document that would oblige would-be obstetricians and gynecologists to learn how to carry out sterilization and in vitro fertilization procedures and how to perform abortions during the first 22 weeks of pregnancy. Noting that these doctors are to welcome a new life into the world, the Lithuanian bishops said they fear that making such practices obligatory will make the practice of an obstetrician-gynecologist inaccessible to many young [people] who would otherwise choose to serve the human life in its most sensitive prenatal period. Such a compulsion debases the practice of an obstetrician-gynecologist on the whole, said the bishops in an Aug. 1 letter to the Ministry of Health. The bishops expressed concern that such a medical norm would contradict the principle of a doctors freedom of conscience, which currently is protected by law.

Pope to Visit Marian Site in Austria

During his visit to Austria, Pope Benedict XVI plans to stop at a Holocaust memorial in Vienna and to celebrate the 850th anniversary of Austrias most important Marian shrine, at Mariazell, according to the official schedule of the popes Sept. 7-9 visit. It will be the seventh foreign trip of his pontificate.

After his arrival in Vienna, the pope will pray at a 17th-century monument marking a victory of the Catholic Habsburgs during the Thirty Years War and stop at a Holocaust memorial at Judenplatz. He will meet the countrys president and diplomats in the Hofburg Palace. On Sept. 8, Pope Benedict will celebrate Mass outside the basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mariazell, 80 miles southwest of Vienna, and lunch with Austrias bishops. He will also hold an evening prayer service with priests, deacons and members of religious orders.

The pope will lead a procession in Vienna Sept. 9 and celebrate Mass in the citys St. Stephens Cathedral, after which he will recite the Angelus prayer in the square outside the cathedral. He will then visit the 12th-century Cistercian Abbey of the Holy Cross outside Vienna and meet with volunteers before returning to Rome.

New Translation of Letter to Chinese Catholics

The Diocese of Hong Kong has revised the Vaticans Chinese translation of Pope Benedict XVIs letter to Catholics in China. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong told the Asian church news agency UCA News that the original Chinese text contains many mistakes and that the revision was to help those [Chinese] who do not know foreign languages understand the letters original intentions. The cardinal, who presided over sessions at three parishes in mid-July to explain the papal letters content and context, spent a week revising the Chinese translation with experts. The revised text, which contains 20,086 characters including footnotes, was published in the July 15 issue of Kung Kao Po, the diocesan Chinese-language weekly. In addition, 30,000 booklets of the revised text in traditional Chinese characters and another 30,000 in simplified characters were printed for free distribution. The Vatican issued the papal letter June 30 in the original Italian and in English, French and traditional and simplified Chinese translations.

French Cardinal Lustiger Dies in Paris at 80

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the Jewish-born former archbishop of Paris who defended the right of believers to have a say in public debates, died on Aug. 5 in Paris at the age of 80 after a long illness. He had been the voice of French Catholics for nearly a quarter-century. He spoke out against anti-Semitism and promoted Catholic dialogue with Jews and with the nations growing Muslim community. The funeral was held Aug. 10 at Notre Dame Cathedral in the French capital.

Pope Benedict XVI called the cardinal a perceptive intellectual and passionate pastor who put his gifts at the service of the faith in order to bring the Gospel to all aspects of life and society. In a telegram sent to Archbishop André Vingt-Trois of Paris, the pope said Cardinal Lustiger was a great figure of the church in France. The late cardinal was a man of faith and dialogue, the pope said, praising his generous commitment to fostering ever more fraternal relations between Christians and Jews.

Martino Laments Forgotten Wars of Africa

Warring thugs must stop forcing children to fight for them, and the international community must make more serious efforts to fund programs to help former child soldiers rejoin civil society, said the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

The blood shed in the so-called forgotten wars of Africa is just as sacred in the eyes of God as that which flows between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers in Iraq, said Cardinal Renato Martino of Italy during an Aug. 6 visit to Gulu in northern Uganda, the scene of more than 20 years of clashes between government troops and rebels of the Lords Resistance Army.

Cardinal Martino also condemned the rebels practice of kidnapping children and forcing them to join the rebels in battle. He said an estimated 30,000 children had been kidnapped. The cardinal called on the international community to make a greater commitment to supporting negotiated settlements of all ongoing wars and to work to prevent other outbreaks of violence by controlling the sales of weapons, promoting social justice and ensuring that foreign investments do not exacerbate economic inequalities.

Bertone to Work on Cause for McGivney Sainthood

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the second-highest ranking official at the Vatican, told members of the Knights of Columbus that he is taking a personal interest in the beatification process for the orders founder, the Rev. Michael McGivney. I hope this recognition [of sanctity] will arrive soon, and I will personally work on this, so that this day will come soon, Cardinal Bertone said during his homily, delivered in Italian, at the Aug. 7 opening Mass of the Knights of Columbuss 125th annual national convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. Cardinal Bertones comments on the sainthood cause of Father McGivney were met with applause from the knights attending the Mass.

I was thrilled, Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., the supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus, said of Cardinal Bertones comments. I think he appreciates what it would mean for parish priests in the United States and around the world to have one of their own canonized a saint, Bishop Lori said in an interview on the Eternal Word Television Network. Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus at St. Marys Church in New Haven, Conn., in 1882.

Religious Retirement Needs Still Great

Despite steady support by American Catholics for the national Retirement Fund for Religious over the past 20 years, the unfunded liability for the care of elderly U.S. men and women religious continues to grow, according to a new report. Annual national collections since 1988 have raised more than $529 million for the needs of retired religious, and more than $507 million have been distributed to more than 500 religious congregations, the June statistical report of the National Religious Retirement Office showed.

But a December 2006 survey of 527 womens institutes and 154 mens institutes showed that only 11 percent of womens congregations and 12 percent of mens congregations reported being adequately funded for the retirement needs of their members, based on designated assets and the reported cost of care. By contrast, 26 percent of the womens institutes and 19 percent of the mens said their funding for retirement needs came to between 0 percent and 20 percent of the amount needed. At their June 2006 meeting in Los Angeles, the U.S. bishops approved extending the yearly collection until 2017. It had been due to expire in 2007.

Cardinal: Iraqi Christians Were Safer Under Saddam

Although Iraq has a democratic government, Iraqi Christians were safer and had more protection under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, said the future head of the Vaticans interreligious dialogue council. During the buildup to the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who will become head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue Sept. 1, had criticized the U.S. governments plan of preventative war and said a unilateral war against Iraq would be a crime against peace. In a recent interview with the Italian magazine 30 Giorni, the cardinal said his early criticisms had been prophetic. The facts speak for themselves. Alienating the international community [with the U.S. push for war] was a mistake, he said in the magazines Aug. 10 issue.

A copy of the interview was released in advance to journalists. He said an unjust approach was used to unseat Saddam from power, resulting in the mounting chaos in Iraq today. Power is in the hands of the strongestthe Shiitesand the country is sinking into a sectarian civil war [between Sunni and Shiite Muslims] in which not even Christians are spared, he said.

Vatican Says No Change in Relations With Jews

Pope Benedict XVIs brief encounter with a Polish priest accused of anti-Semitism does not indicate any change in the Vaticans position concerning Catholic-Jewish relations, the Vatican said in a written statement. Tadeusz Rydzyk, the Redemptorist priest who heads Polands largest Catholic broadcast agency and has been accused of making anti-Semitic remarks, met with the pope Aug. 5 at the papal summer residence at at Castel Gandolfo, after the popes noontime Sunday Angelus prayer, a Vatican source told Catholic News Service Aug. 8. The Vatican statement, released Aug. 9, said the fact that the pope met briefly with Father Rydzyk does not indicate any change in the Holy Sees well-known position regarding relations between Catholics and Jews. The statement was issued after Jewish groups expressed concern over the meeting after photographs of the pope with Father Rydzyk and two other priests appeared in the Polish media Aug. 7. The Vatican statement, written in Italian, described the Aug. 5 encounter as a baciamano, or brief handshake, not a private audience.

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the Jewish-born former archbishop of Paris who defended the right of believers to have a say in public debates, died on Aug. 5 in Paris at the age of 80 after a long illness. He had been the voice of French Catholics for nearly a quarter-century. He spoke out against anti-Semitism and promoted Catholic dialogue with Jews and with the nations growing Muslim community. The funeral was held Aug. 10 at Notre Dame Cathedral in the French capital.

Pope Benedict XVI called the cardinal a perceptive intellectual and passionate pastor who put his gifts at the service of the faith in order to bring the Gospel to all aspects of life and society. In a telegram sent to Archbishop André Vingt-Trois of Paris, the pope said Cardinal Lustiger was a great figure of the church in France. The late cardinal was a man of faith and dialogue, the pope said, praising his generous commitment to fostering ever more fraternal relations between Christians and Jews.