“Before the installation Mass began, young Guarani Indians put on a sort of play reenacting the arrival of the first Jesuit missionaries in Paraguay.” Courtesy photo/Cardinal’s Office
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Virginia Tech tragedy
Certainly everyone is praying for those affected by the massacre at Virginia Tech on April 16. We pray for the victims, their families and all of the students who are affected directly by this horrific experience. We also pray for the family of the perpetrator of the crime. The entire situation is a great tragedy from beginning to end.
This tragic massacre of students at Virginia Tech underscores the need we have, as a country, to be better able to deal with mental illness -- both identifying and treating it. Many of the laws and regulations we have concerning privacy and individual rights go beyond the dictates of common sense. One result of these laws is that many of the homeless people living on our streets find themselves in that situation because they are suffering from mental illness but are not receiving treatment. Schools also are unable to deal effectively with students who have mental health problems. It is my hope that in the wake of this great tragedy solutions will be proposed to deal with these problems.
Partial birth abortion
On April 18, pro-life supporters received some excellent news. That day, I attended the semi-annual meeting of directors of the pro-life offices of the New England dioceses and was greeted with the good news that the United States Supreme Court has upheld the ban on partial birth abortion. Although we still have not had time to analyze the decision, it certainly is a step in the right direction. The ruling upholds the Legislature’s right to pass laws that limit abortion.
It has been disappointing to read politicians’ reaction against this decision of the Supreme Court, given the fact that most Americans are in agreement that this is a barbaric procedure that needs to be banned.
The horrific nature of partial birth abortion, which is practically infanticide, needed to be stopped. I think this has given a sense of hope to people in the pro-life movement. The ruling also underscores the importance of the judiciary in the life of the country. It points out the need for this to be carefully considered in the next presidential elections because the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court has great implications for the future of the country and the protection of human life.
Certainly, it was interesting that the Catholics voted in a block, and I am sure that that’s not lost on most people.
My trip to Paraguay
I [recently] went to Paraguay to be present at the installation of Bishop Adalberto Martinez Flores as bishop of the diocese of San Pedro.
Bishop Adalberto was one of my priests in the Virgin Islands. In fact, he had been one of my parishioners in Washington D.C. He went to the seminary in Rome and studied with the Focolare movement. He finished his studies right around the time that I was named bishop of the Virgin Islands, and in the Focolare movement they need to find a bishop who will ordain them because they do not ordain for their own movement. So, recognizing the great need that we had in the islands for Spanish-speaking priests, I invited him to be a priest of the Diocese of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. He served for many years there, and then he was later named auxiliary bishop in his native diocese, the Archdiocese of Asuncion in Paraguay. After being auxiliary bishop there for a couple of years, he was named bishop for a new diocese, the Diocese of San Lorenzo, which is also in Paraguay.
Recently, there have been some rather dramatic developments in the life of the Church in Paraguay. Namely, that the bishop of San Pedro, Bishop Emeritus Fernando Armindo Lugo Mendez, resigned his post two years ago, has become involved in politics and is now running for president of the country. As a result, the Holy Father has asked Bishop Adalberto to take over that diocese, which is a very rural, very poor diocese. It is a great challenge.
Bishop Adalberto’s previous diocese, San Lorenzo, was carved out of the Archdiocese of Asuncion and actually extends from the capital into a rural area. Territorially, the new diocese is probably the largest in Paraguay although it has perhaps half the population of the Diocese of San Lorenzo: around 350,000 Catholics. He only has 20 priests to minister to them.