Archive of November 5, 2003

Commenting Psalm 140, Pope says evil is attractive even to the faithful

Vatican City, Nov 5, 2003 (CNA) - As part of his comments of the Psalms and Canticles for Vespers in the Liturgy of the Hours, Pope John Paul explained Psalm 140, “Prayer in times of danger” during the general audience celebrated in St. Peter’s Square.

Speaking to some 18,000 pilgrims, the Pontiff said that Psalm 140 “reflects the spirit of prophetic theology that intimately unites worship and life, prayer and existence. The same prayer made with a pure and sincere heart becomes a sacrifice offered to God.”

He then explained that the psalm takes on a tone of petition to the Lord “so that He does not allow our lips and sentiments to be infected by evil and so that ‘evil actions’ are not carried out”.

“Words and actions,” he continued, “are in fact the expression of a person’s moral choices. Evil often is attractive enough to push even the faithful to taste the ‘delicious foods’ that sinners can offer, joining them at their table, that is participating in their perverse actions.”

“The psalm almost acquires the tone of an examination of conscience which is followed by the commitment to always choose the ways of the Lord,” he

The Pope explained also that “in order to express with great vehemence his radical disassociation from the evil one, the psalmist proclaims his indignant condemnation against him, which is expressed with colorful recourse to images of fiery judgment.”

John Paul II  concluded by noting that the psalm ends with “a final faithful invocation: it is a hymn of faith, gratitude and joy, in the certainty that the faithful will not be contaminated by the hate that the perverse reserve for themselves and that they will not fall into the trap set for them, after having noted their decisive choice for doing good.”

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Don’t treat asylum-seekers with prejudice asks the Vatican at UN

, Nov 5, 2003 (CNA) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer at the United Nations, requested yesterday not to portray asylum-seekers as a threat.

Archbishop Migliore addressed the UN’s agenda issue of “Questions Relating to Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons and Humanitarian Issues” on
November 4. During his intervention, the Vatican delegate stated that “the Holy See is daily and acutely aware of the scourges that afflict refugees, displaced persons, returnees, migrants and stateless persons.” 

Recalling the Catholic Church’s “vast experience in working with refugees,” “the list of refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced and stateless persons still number in the millions.”

“In this regard, it is worrying to note,” he added, “that some elements of the media and even some political figures have continued to portray asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons, with unfair suspicion and prejudice.”

“This unfortunate portrayal sometimes contributes to make them victims of humiliation, persecution and even violence,” he added.

Migliore announced that the Holy See, “through the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Caritas International and other charitable agencies, is doing its share, in cooperation with other agencies,” and expressed the Vatican’s support to “efforts to protect refugees' human dignity and to ensure their basic rights and family reunification.”

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Putin’s visit with Pope to boost Orthodox-Catholic ties

Rome, Italy, Nov 5, 2003 (CNA) - Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes to boost relations between the Orthodox and Catholic churches in Russia with his second visit to the Vatican today. His visit coincides with a trip to Rome for a Russia-European Union summit.

Ties between the two churches in Russia have suffered for the last decade due to post-Communist suspicions that Catholics are proselytizing and taking over Orthodox congregations. Catholic leaders in Russia strongly deny these allegations, saying the recent creation of new dioceses and the appointment of new bishops in Russia are strictly to serve the faithful.

Putin said the objective of his visit with the Pope is not to assist in getting the pontiff to visit Russia but to promote Christian unity.

“For Russia, it is even more important because it represents a further step toward integration with Europe. But we want to integrate with the West without losing our culture, our faith or our identity,” he said. “The pope is a wise and intelligent person. We have met before and I am certain we will have plenty to talk about,” he added.

Catholics expect Putin to renew the standing invitation for the Pope to visit Russia. Putin’s two predecessors, Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev, had both extended the invitation but a visit is only possible with the consent from the Orthodox patriarch and the Orthodox hierarchy. The current Orthodox patriarch, Alexiy II, has said the Orthodox church’s concerns must first be resolved before such a visit.

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Spain to vote with US in favor of total cloning prohibition

Madrid, Spain, Nov 5, 2003 (CNA) - The Spanish government has announced it will not join a block of European countries that is seeking to keep the United Nations from passing a total ban on human cloning for “therapeutic” reasons.  The World Body will vote this Thursday on a proposal by Costa Rica to prohibit all types of cloning.

According to local press reports, Spain will not join the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other countries that are supporting a Belgian proposal to stop the Costa Rican initiative, which is supported by the United States and more than 40 other countries.

The United States Ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, has sent letters on the issue of cloning and the Belgian proposal to 100 countries telling them it would be “extremely unfortunate” if there were a delay in the decision which, once approved, would allow for an international convention.

“There is an urgent necessity to act now to face the growing threat of human cloning,” said Negroponte.

Last week, pro-life observers warned the representatives of the nations of America about a “non-action” initiative to be proposed by Belgium during the next General Assembly, to ignore the Costa Rican proposal that intends to ban all types of human cloning.

During the meeting, Belgium and other countries will propose this “non-action” initiative so that the Costa Rican proposal is not made known to the general body.  Therefore, explained pro-life groups, it is important that the majority of countries in America are alert and vote first against this non-action initiative, and later vote in favor of the Costa Rican proposal against human cloning.

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Opposition to gay ordination "not about sex but Bible," critics say

, Nov 5, 2003 (CNA) - The opposition to the ordination of the first openly gay bishop in the United States this week isn’t about sex but about Scripture, said Canon Kendall Harmon of South Carolina, a leading voice in the opposition to gay ordination.

"It's about the authority and interpretation of Scripture, about who gets to make decisions and how they make them," he told to New York's Newsday.

The concern, he said, is "about whether Christianity at the beginning of the 21st century is going to be shaped by wealthy, mainly white, shrinking Western churches or by the simple, faithful, growing churches of the Global South."

In fact, many of the growing African, Asian and Latin American churches in the Anglican Communion condemned Gene Robinson’s ordination as bishop of New Hampshire, less than 24 hours after the ordination.

In the statement, the churches said they would not recognize Robinson as bishop and called for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, to create an oversight, which would allow churches to remain in communion but separate from the New Hampshire church. A decision on the oversight has not yet been taken.

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Episcopal congregations seek new diocese

, Nov 5, 2003 (CNA) - Episcopal leaders are scrambling to address the requests of two New Hampshire churches to become part of another diocese, following the ordination of an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire this week.

Robert Newton, a lay leader at St. Mark’s Church in Ashland, said he already spoke to the conservative bishops at the diocese of Albany, N.Y., who have agreed to give his church an “oversight” and supervise his congregation.

Bishop Douglas Theuner, who will continue to serve the diocese of New Hampshire until his retirement in March, said he and incoming Bishop Gene Robinson would be happy to consider alternative pastoral care for congregations within their diocese.

However, pastoral care is not the same as "oversight," which removes a church from the leadership of its original diocese and places it under the leadership and care of another.

Oversight is traditionally not allowed under Episcopal church law. However, Newton hopes the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowam Williams, leader of the Anglican Communion, will intervene to allow churches to affiliate outside of the New Hampshire diocese. However, Episcopal leaders are concerned about the "patched" dioceses that oversight could create and opponents to Robinson's ordination could spark in their desire to seek alternative leadership.

The conservative Church of the Redeemer in Rochester also sent a letter to the diocese of Albany. The community was told plans are being discussed, but that the church would likely fall within the Albany diocese if a new system of oversight is created.

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Church seeks new dialogue with ELN to resolve hostage crisis

Bogotá, Colombia, Nov 5, 2003 (CNA) - The Church’s mediation commission that is working to free 7 tourists who were kidnapped September 12 in the northern mountains of Columbia hopes to establish contact again with representatives of the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) to restart negotiations that will bring the crisis to an end.

Radio Caracol informed that the commission will also contact the spokesman of the rebel group, Francisco Galan, who is being held in Columbian prison, in order to help bring about an agreement between the parties involved.

Officials from several other countries have offered to help in the negotiations to bring about peace in the country, including the Norwegian ambassador, as well as officials from the embassies of Spain, France, Switzerland, Sweden and Cuba.

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