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News Digest

Issue of March 15 March 28, 2009The following items are condensed. For the complete articles, please read the print edition of The Catholic New World. To subscribe, call (312) 534-7777.

News Update

West Side school expansion OK'd

Children of Peace School received permission to go ahead with a planned expansion in a 5-1 vote Feb. 24 from the Illinois Medical District Commission. The school, which sits within the medical district at 1900 W. Taylor St., serves 242 students, including 32 who are deaf or hearing impaired. The planned expansion would allow the school to build a third building as a link between its two existing buildings, unifying the campus and creating space for a cafeteria, library and other facilities. The expansion plan caps enrollment at 350.

Medical district commissioners had expressed concern that if the school went ahead with the plan, and the district wants to acquire the property in the future for a medical use, it would be more expensive.

Father Patrick Pollard, pastor of Notre Dame de Chicago Parish, which operates the school, said the school will begin raising the $4 million it will take to make the plan a reality.

Cardinal's network

Cardinal George will begin offering short e-mail reflections, prayers and other messages to Catholics who sign up to receive them.

The "Cardinal's Network" is set to debut during Holy Week, although the archdiocese is currently collecting e-mail addresses at The network will offer one-way communication, at least at first. The cardinal will offer his e-mail dispatches occasionally, especially around the liturgical high points of the year.

Statement on the Society of St. Pius X, Our Lady Immaculate Church in Oak Park

March 9, 2009 Recently there has been a lot of commentary about the lifting of the excommunication of four bishops affiliated with the Society of St. Pius X. These bishops incurred excommunication on June 30, 1988, which was then formally declared by the Holy See the next day on July 1. This was a consequence of their episcopal consecration by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without the required mandate from the pope.

Last month, on Feb. 4, the Vatican Secretariat of State issued a note explaining that the lifting of the excommunication has freed the four bishops from a most grave canonical penalty, but in no way has it changed the juridical situation of the Society of St. Pius X, which, in this moment, does not enjoy any canonical recognition in the Catholic Church. Also the four bishops, despite removal of the excommunication, do not have any canonical function in the church and do not licitly exercise any ministry in it.

The Vatican also noted that an "indispensable condition" for any future recognition of the Society of St. Pius X would be their full recognition of the Second Vatican Council and the teaching authority of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago should be aware that there is an illicit chapel of the Society of St. Pius X located at Washington Boulevard and Ridgeland Avenue in Oak Park. The sign in front of the church says, "Our Lady Immaculate Roman Catholic Church," however, this "church" is not recognized by the proper authorities in Rome and has no approval from the Archdiocese of Chicago. Catholics are advised that it is not licit for them to attend Mass there.

Adding to the controversy about the Society of St. Pius X are the statements of one of the bishops, Bishop Richard Williamson, denying that Jews were killed in gas chambers by the Nazis during the Holocaust (Shoah). The Vatican statement emphasized that the "positions of Bishop Williamson on the Shoah are absolutely unacceptable and firmly rejected by the Holy Father, as he himself remarked this past Jan. 28, when, referring to that brutal genocide, he reconfirmed his full and indisputable solidarity with our brothers who received the First Covenant." In order to be admitted to function as a bishop in the church, Bishop Williamson "must distance himself in absolutely unequivocal and public fashion from his positions regarding the Shoah, which were not known by the Holy Father when the excommunication was lifted."

It is Christ's will that "all may be one" in the faith and in the unity of the Church. Christian unity was a deep desire of Pope John Paul II and continues to be one of the most important goals of Pope Benedict XVI. We need not only to continue our prayers but also our efforts to overcome these divisions so that "all may be one" (Jn 17:21).

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, M.Sp.S.

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki

Bishop Francis J. Kane

Bishop Joseph N. Perry

Bishop John R. Manz

Bishop George R. Rassas

News Digest

Cardinal says new Obama stem-cell policy is 'sad victory of politics over science'

President Barack Obama's executive order reversing the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research represents "a sad victory of politics over science and ethics," Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia said shortly after the March 9 signing of the order at the White House.

The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro- Life Activities was among Catholic, pro-life and other leaders who criticized the reversal, which Obama had promised during his campaign.