Archive of October 29, 2003

Pope "grateful to God" for Year of the Rosary, recalls drama of Sept. 11

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2003 (CNA) - During his usual Wednesday general audience, Pope John Paul II gave thanks to God for the fruits of the "Year of the Rosary," that will officially come to an end on October 31. Due to bad weather, the general audience was moved from St. Peter's Square to St. Peter's Basilica and the Paul VI Hall.

The Pope first greeted pilgrims in the basilica and then proceeded to the Paul VI Hall. John Paul II affirmed that "with the month of October, the Year of the Rosary" -which he proclaimed from October 2002 to October of 2003--"comes to a close."

"I am so grateful to God for this time of grace in which the entire Church community has been able to explore the value and importance of the rosary, which is a Christological and contemplative prayer," he added.

After recalling the motto of the Year of the Rosary, "Contemplating the face of Christ with Mary," John Paul II said that these words, taken from his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, "concisely express the authentic meaning of this prayer, both simple and profound. At the same time, they highlight the continuity between the proposal of the rosary and the path indicated to the People of God in my previous apostolic letter 'Novo millennio ineunte'."

"If at the beginning of the third millennium, Christians are called to grow as 'contemplators of Christ's face', and the ecclesiastical communities are called to become 'schools of prayer', the rosary is the privileged 'Marian way,' in order to reach this dual objective."

The Pope recalled that during this year he wanted "to entrust two great prayer intentions to the People of God: peace and the family. The 21st century, born under the sign of the great jubilee year reconciliation, has unfortunately inherited from the past numerous and enduring acts of war and violence."

Recalling 9/11

"The disconcerting attacks of September 11, 2001" -the Pope added-- "and the events that followed in the world have peaked tensions on a global level. Despite these alarming situations, praying the rosary is not a retreat inside oneself, but a decision of responsible faith, a conscious choice of faith: contemplating the face of Christ, our peace and our reconciliation, we want to implore God for the gift of peace through the intercession of Mary, Most Holy. We ask her for the necessary strength to be builders of peace, beginning in our daily family life."

Key role of family

Referring to the family, the Holy Father emphasized that it should be "the first environment in which Christ's peace is embraced, cultivated and fostered. In our time, however, without prayer it becomes more and more difficult for the family to realize this vocation. This is why it would be very useful to take up again the beautiful custom of praying the rosary at home, as it was done in past generations. 'The family that prays together, stays together'."

"I entrust these intentions," he concluded, "to the Virgin, so that she may protect the family and obtain peace for each person and the world. I hope that all believers, accompanied by Our Lady, set out decisively on the path of sanctity, their gaze fixed on Jesus while they meditate, with the rosary, the mysteries of salvation. This will be the most precious fruit of this year dedicated to the rosary."

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Pope convokes Synod to elect new leader of Church in Iraq

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II has convoked a Synod of the Chaldean Catholic Church -to which belong the majority of Iraqi Catholics- that will elect its new Patriarch.

The Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced today that the Holy Father, "in consideration of Canon 72 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, has convoked for December 2-3, 2003, in the Vatican, the Synod of Bishops of that Church for the election of the Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans."

The former patriarch, His Beatitude Raphael I Bidawid, died July 7, 2003 at the age of 81. The election of the Bidawid's successor will give a badly needed new leader to the Catholic minority in Iraq and Iran, as well as Catholics of the Chaldean rite around the world.

There are some one million Chaldean Catholics around the world, including the United States, but more than half of them live in Iraq. The nominal, mostly traditional see of the Chaldean Patriarch is Babylon, but the real see is Baghdad, where some 350,000 Chaldean Catholics live.

According to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, the Patriarch is elected and proposed to the Pope by the Chaldean bishops gathered at the Synod; but if no agreement is reached within 15 days from the opening of the Synod, the Pontiff makes the appointment of the new Patriarch.

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Prolifers urge the public to correct the media on the Schiavo case

Washington D.C., Oct 29, 2003 (CNA) - The media is getting it wrong when covering Terri Schiavo’s case and pro-lifers want the public to do something about it.

After Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, appeared on “Larry King Live” on Monday and called his wife “a comatose in persistent vegetative state,” many pro-lifers have been calling in to radio and television stations across North America insisting that they correct the misinformation. 

Last week, Toronto News radio station 680 reported that Shiavo was in a persistent vegetative state. LifeSite News, a Canadian pro-life news provider, called in to say that the description of her medical state was incorrect. The newsroom immediately made the correction.

North American news outlets continue to misreport the medical facts in Terri’s story, say her family, her doctors and the pro-family organization Focus on the Family. This misinformation exacerbates the case. In an effort to remedy this, Terri’s family, several doctors and her caregivers spent an hour trying to school reporters on the facts las week  at a press conference.

Terri's family and several doctors stressed that it is debatable whether she is in a persistent vegetative state, despite court rulings labeling her as such. Terri does not meet the standard definition of comatose, which is someone who is in a deep or prolonged state of unconciousness: she clearly reacts to affection, she controls several of her body functions, her eyes show she is capable of recongnizing people and she has been capable of responding to some basic medical commands, like pulling a doctor’s finger.

For the Schindlers, the first task at hand in setting the public record straight regarding the erroneous use of the word "comatose" by media.

In the meantime, pro-lifers say the public can help by calling media outlets to correct them if they hear incorrect information about Terri’s state of health.

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Catholic groups protest pro-abortion politician on catholic university campus

Chicago, Ill., Oct 29, 2003 (CNA) - Several Catholic groups are protesting a lecture that a former Illinois governor, who holds pro-abortion views, is scheduled to give at a Catholic university today.

Former Governor Jim Edgar vetoed a ban on taxpayer funding of abortion during his two terms from 1991 to 1998. He is scheduled to give a lecture today at St. Xavier University in Chicago on "Centering Yourself in Public Life" – an issue unrelated to pro-abortion issues.

However, the Catholic Citizens of Illinois released a statement yesterday denouncing Edgar's appearance at the university and encouraging Catholics to protest Edgar's appearance.

A member of the university's Board of Trustees, former State Senator Patrick O'Malley also voiced his concern about the former governor's appearance and sent the newly-appointed university president Dr. Judith Dwyer a letter, asking that the invitation to Edgar be withdrawn.

Other St. Xavier financial supporters who agree to a formal policy restricting pro-abortion politicians from access to the university facilities have joined O’Malley.

In a show of protest, George Ferrell and Bill Callaghan and their wives declined to be the forum hosts when they were informed of Edgar’s views on abortion.

Jim Finnegan of Vote Life America, an organizer in the lecture protest, said Edgar's position on life and family issues while he was in office should keep him from addressing the university.

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Chinese Bishop to preside at National Shrine

Washington D.C., Oct 29, 2003 (CNA) - Bishop Ignatius C. Wang, auxiliary bishop of San Francisco, will celebrate mass and give the homily at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Nov. 8 at 5:15 p.m. Following the mass, Bishop Wang will lead prayer in front of the mosaic of Our Lady of China, a gift of Chinese-American Catholics, dedicated Aug. 3, 2002.

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Italians demand crucifixes remain in schools

Rome, Italy, Oct 29, 2003 (CNA) - Leaders from across the political spectrum, religious leaders and even some Muslims have joined together in a rare consensus to demand the crucifixes not be removed from Italy's public schools, despite a controversial court ruling on the issue.

The debate on the presence of crucifixes in public school classrooms erupted last week when Adel Smith, president of the political party Muslim Coalition of Italy, brought a lawsuit against the Antonio Silveri public elementary school in Ofena, alleging the continued presence of a crucifix in the school violated the religious  freedom of his two children.

After last Thursday's ruling by Judge Mario Montanaro ordering the crucifix to be removed, the public outcry was so intense the country's leaders were forced to comment on the ruling. 

The Minister of Justice, Roberto Castelli, has ordered an investigation into the ruling in order to determine "if regulations were not respected or if current laws were ignored," since there are current laws on the books and past rulings by the Constitutional Court permitting the presence of crucifies in public classrooms.

Italy's president, Azeglio Ciampi, said that "the crucifix in schools has always been considered not only a distinctive sign of a particular religious creed, but above all a symbol of the values that are at the foundation of our identity." 

Vice President Gianfranco Fini said the judge's decision not only violates the law and Italian tradition, "it offers arguments to those who deny the possibility of peaceful coexistence and of respectful integration (of Muslims) into our society."

Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu, declared, "I am offended as a Christian, and as a citizen.  The crucifix is not only a symbol of my religion; it also is the highest expression of 2000 years of civilization that belongs to the Italian people.  This ruling threatens to alter the sincere willingness to dialogue that exists between the  great majority of Churches, communities and religious groups in Italy."

The Education Minister has said he will continue following the legislation of 1923, which still is in force, and which permits the presence of crucifixes in schools and court houses.

Surprisingly almost all political parties in the country have signed a resolution in the Italian Parliament declaring the crucifix to be "the oldest and most powerful symbol of freedom for all, as well as the symbol 'laicity of the State'," and demanding that the government ensure "effective respect" of the law that permits the presence of crucifixes in schools.

The resolution also requests that the government prepare an educational campaign for schools "to explain to all why the crucifix represents our national, European, and Western identity." 

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the Italian Bishops Conference, said the crucifix "expresses the deepest soul of the country and should continue to be a sign of national identity."  At the same time the Secretary General of the Bishops Conference, Bishop Giuseppe Betori, recalled that the ruling " contradicts a state law that no Parliament has ever modified.  The crucifix is not only a religious symbol; it is also an image in which the Italian people recognize the roots of their civilization."

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The Pope's spirit is not in a wheelchair, says argentine Bishop

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 29, 2003 (CNA) - In a message about the 25 years of John Paul II's Pontificate entitled, "I come from a far away country," Bishop Néstor Hugo Navarro of the Diocese of Alto Valle del Río Negro praised the testimony of the Holy Father's life and declared that the Pope's spirit "is not in a wheelchair."

The Bishop explained that "recently, with the marks of illness on his body, he has taught us about the value and meaning of suffering for the Christian faith."

"This Pope who appears on television tired, sick and in obvious physical discomfort, has the words and gestures of a prophet announcing the real possibility of a better, more humane world, shared as brothers and sisters, with greater peace and justice," said the Bishop.   

He also recalled "how much the Pope has given to the Church and to humanity in these 25 years of his pontificate!  And he did it without reserve, spending his life in fulfillment of the mission Jesus entrusted to him."  

"His body slouched over, his almost slurring speech, and being carried about in a wheelchair, this tireless and peaceful fighter for the wellbeing of humanity shouts out that he is a man possessed by the Holy Spirit and acts through Him, and he continues forward until God himself says, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come now and enter into you joy of your Lord,'" said Bishop Navarro.

Bishop Navarro doesn't see the celebration of the Pope's 25th Anniversary as just another celebration. "We are celebrating a mystery of faith. We celebrate the power of God which turns man's fragility into the living rock upon which He builds his Church."

John Paul II helped us "overcome the image of the Pope as distant and unapproachable. His numerous travels around the world have allowed us to be close to him and are a service to the local Churches and to all mankind," he continued, emphasizing the "freedom and incomparable boldness" with which the Holy Father has addressed diverse issues such as world peace, the reconciliation of mankind, the defense of life, and the globalization of society.

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