Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor withdraws from Blair’s foundation28 May 2009
Plans for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor to join the Tony Blair Faith Foundation have been called off. The move came after the former British prime minister gave an interview in which he criticised the Pope’s attitude towards homosexuals. Since the foundation was launched in 2008 it had been intended that the cardinal would join the advisory council once he had stepped down as Archbishop of Westminster. However, this week the cardinal’s office said he “does not envisage joining the board of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation at this stage. He does hope though to keep in touch with the work that the foundation is planning to do.”
Pope’s encyclical ‘almost ready’28 May 2009
Pope Benedict XVI has completed his long-awaited encyclical on social issues and the text is now being translated into several languages, according to a Vatican official. The new document – Caritas in Veritate (“Love in truth”) – is about 100 pages long, the official said. Originally planned for 2007 to mark the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s landmark social encyclical Populorum Progressio, the new papal document suffered a succession of delays as the current global economic crisis unfolded. “The new social encyclical … can be an instrument to help politics recover its function: that of designing the architectural structures of our social life in the way of justice, freedom, truth and solidarity,” Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Justice and Peace council, told Vatican Radio.
Italian bishops speak up for boat people28 May 2009
The head of the Italian Catholic bishops’ conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, has criticised what he called the Italian Government’s “ambiguous” stand on immigration, including “the controversial practice of pushing back” boat people. Speaking to some 250 bishops and cardinals at the beginning of the CEI’s week-long general assembly at the Vatican, Cardinal Bagnasco called for international cooperation aimed at improving the economic and social conditions in would-be immigrants’ countries of origin and greater efforts by the Italian Government to facilitate the integration of immigrants who stay in Italy. Italy’s coastline attracts more than 20,000 mainly North African illegal immigrants each year, of whom an estimated 500 to 600 die each year trying to make the journey.
Lugo calls celibacy ‘imperfect’ 28 May 2009
President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, who has admitted to fathering a child while still bishop of San Pedro, has described celibacy as “imperfect”. President Lugo said that celibacy “is a personal option of faith required by the Catholic Church”. “I believe that only God is perfect and all human actions are imperfect. Therefore, celibacy is also an imperfect issue for a man or woman,” he told the Argentine newspaper Clarín last Sunday. He also said he thought his admission of paternity had not damaged his popularity with voters but had strengthened it, being “seen by many as an act of bravery and courage”.
US gay marriage bill hits the buffers28 May 2009
A bill legalising gay marriage foundered unexpectedly in the New Hampshire House last week after the state’s governor tried to add wording that would more explicitly protect religious institutions that opposed the practice. Governor John Lynch, a Catholic and a Democrat, threatened to veto the legislation – which had already passed the state’s House and Senate once – unless it specifically protected religious institutions and their employees from fines or lawsuits if they declined to provide same-sex couples with services such as marriage counselling. The House rejected the law by a vote of 188-186. Legislators will now work on a compromise.
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