Cardinal Ratzinger declared this speaking about the encounter of members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and presidents of the doctrinal commissions of the episcopates of the United States, Canada and Oceania, held some days ago in San Francisco. The Vatican Cardinal said the document was the point of reference to understand how "academic freedom, and the freedom in general with which reason investigates, harmonizes with the duty to move within faith."
Pope John Paul II´s Motu Proprio Ad tuendam fidem was issued in the middle of 1998. The pontifical document completes formulas from the Canon Law of the Occidental and Oriental Church, in order to defend the Church's faith from errors that some faithful present, specially theologians and teachers, in order to maintain the identity and the contents of the Church's faith clearly established.
Father James Callan, 51, was removed from Corpus Christi Parish and suspended from active ministry in December for violating Church teachings by allowing concelebration of Mass by a female pastoral associate and allowing same-sex union ceremonies at his church. He then went on to hold worship services for sympathetic parishioners at various Protestant churches in the area.
"By starting this new church, a schism has occurred," the diocese said. "Father Callan has effectively excommunicated himself. Catholics who have joined the new church are not in full communion with the Church and have incurred the same penalty." The diocese also warned that it might ask the Vatican to officially revoke Father Callan's clerical standing as a priest "to remove any confusion" about his ability to function in the priestly ministry.
In a related story in Fort Collins, Colorado police on Thursday arrested a 50-year-old man accused of posing as a Catholic priest to bilk philanthropists out of money.
The police said Michael Bergman was arrested in Loveland, Colorado where he was marrying couples at a wedding chapel. Bergman was wanted in Texas where he conned a man out of $10,000 earmarked for the needy, but police said he may be charged with dozens of phony deals over the past decade.
He will first be tried this spring on theft and securities fraud charges for conning two Denver women out of $10,000 each in a scheme involving pre-World War II German bonds.
HHS Secretary Donna Shalala said she believes federal permits the study of human stem cells even though they were obtained from aborted unborn children. "The law allows stem cell research," Shalala told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees HHS spending. "We intend to move forward in a careful, deliberative process."
The letter by 70 pro-life congressmen said that current federal law bans government-funded research in which human embryos are created or killed. Stem cells -- basic cellular building blocks which can develop into any human organ -- are harvested from human embryos which are then destroyed. In January, the head of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Harold Varmus, declared that the ban did not apply to stem cells culture from laboratory specimens.
Shalala said her interpretation of the bans means that it only applies to research in which embryos are destroyed, "not to research preceding or following such research projects." The letter from Congress had contended that the ban applied to any research "which follows on or depends upon the destruction of or injury to a human embryo."
Meanwhile in Caracas, Venezuela Bishop Hernan Sanchez, Secretary General of the Venezuelan bishops' conference, announced that the Catholic Church will fight against the plan of massive sterilizations announced by the government.
Earlier this week, President Hugo Chavez announced the "Bolivar 2000" plan -- in honor of Venezuelan liberator Simon Bolivar -- a national mobilization campaign to fight poverty. "Bolivar 2000" will mobilize all military forces and state officials to improve food production and distribution, health attention, and the renewal of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and electric lines.
The Catholic Church initially supported the project, until the director of maternity services in Caracas, Dr. Carlos Cabrera, announced that the new "improved" health services to low-income mothers will include sterilization as a policy. Cabrera said, "President Chavez has decided to offer sterilization as part of the basic services that will be provided starting February 27."
Bishop Sanchez said, "Any mutilation, when not prescribed for a vital therapeutic reason, is immoral, and even more when it is officially promoted by the government." The bishop recalled that Chavez proclaimed himself "a Catholic and pro-life" during his installation ceremony and said that "each official birth control campaign aimed at the poor always creates more injustice and violates the human rights of the defenseless."
Bishop George Biguzzi of Makeni said, "They are men of God who should be released unconditionally as they are not connected with politics." Two of the priests were identified as Father Dominic Kargbo and Father Machelli. The bishop also reported that the rebels looted Catholic parishes in Makeni including the cathedral and the bishop's office.
More than 5,000 people have been killed in renewed fighting in Sierra Leone this year as rebels battled government troops, mostly near the capital Freetown.