Vatican City, Nov 6, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II and Russian President Vladimir Putin both expressed hope for a "positive development" in relations between the Vatican and the Orthodox church in their meeting yesterday.
In a gesture of reconciliation, the pontiff brought an icon of the Mother of God of Kazan, an important icon for Russian believers, into the meeting, which lasted a little more than 30 minutes. The icon usually hangs in the Pope’s private chapel.
The Pope said he wants to return the icon as a gift to the Russian people, but he didn't give it to Putin to take home. The Vatican made no mention of any papal visit to Russia.
The Pope blessed the icon, and then Putin kissed it, Vatican interpreters said.
According to Russian reporters, who were present at the meeting, the Pope thanked Putin for all he has done to improve relations between the two churches.
Vatican City, Nov 6, 2003 (CNA) - During a private audience held on Thursday, Pope John Paul II told Irish president Mary McAleese that Ireland must be ready to play a key role in building the new Europe.
McAleese is visiting Rome and the Vatican in order to participate in the celebrations for the 375th anniversary of the Pontifical Irish College.
During the audience, the Pope expressed his “deep affection for the Irish people” and asked the president to convey his “warm greetings and the assurance of his prayers” to the citizens of her country.
“Ireland,” he said, “with its rich Christian history and its outstanding patrimony of spiritual and cultural values, has an essential role to play in the building of the new Europe and the affirmation of its deepest identity.”
“It is my hope that the Gospel message will provide continued inspiration and encouragement to all who are committed to the advancement of Ireland in the path of justice and solidarity, and above all in the great work of national reconciliation,” the Pope concluded.
Bogotá, Colombia, Nov 6, 2003 (CNA) - A parish priest and his secretary were gunned down in the northeastern Columbian town of Saravena this Tuesday, according to reports from the local police.
Officials said Father Saulo Carreño, pastor of Christ the King parish, and his secretary Maritza Linares, were traveling by car when they were overtaken by several unknown people and murdered. Authorities do not have any suspects but they pointed out, “All these crimes are the work of illegal groups who are attacking any and everyone who works with local communities and the State.
Father Carreño was well-known for his community service and enjoyed a good relationship with local authorities.
Bishop Carlos Germán Mesa of Arauca condemned the assassination of Father Carreño y pleaded for an end to violence, asking illegal militant groups to cease targeting the civilian population and allow people to live in peace and without fear. Bishop Mesa, who was meeting with other Bishops in northern Columbian, immediately returned to his diocese to attend the wake for the two victims.
The Catholic Church in Columbia has long been the target of violent attacks by drug traffickers, guerrilla members, militants and common criminals, with more than 50 assassinations of religious and clergy (bishops, priests, missionaries), and more than 20 kidnappings since 1984.
Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2003 (CNA) - The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is “a vital step in the right direction for our nation,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver.
The Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued his statement yesterday after President George W. Bush signed the act into law earlier in the day.
The archbishop said the new law is also a step in the right direction “for the women who have suffered and the children who have died because of this uniquely intimate form of violence.”
The archbishop expressed his deep gratitude to the U.S. president for signing the ban on partial-birth abortions into law and to those Catholics who have worked tirelessly for many years toward this goal.
"For 30 years, abortion has been legal at any time during pregnancy, for any reason or none at all, and by any method one wanted to employ to kill an unborn child,” said Archbishop Chaput. “President Bush's signing of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act marks the first time in three decades that our nation has placed any restriction on an abortion procedure.
"We commend the president for his action, and we pledge our prayers and support to see that this brutal procedure remains prohibited by law and intolerable to the American people,” he said.
Bush signs law banning partial-birth abortions with Cardinal Egan in attendance
WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (CNA) – The United States is called “to build a culture of life” and become “a more just and welcoming society,” said President George W. Bush at the signing of a new law yesterday that bans partial-birth abortions. Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, was among the dignitaries and members of the House and Senate for the signing in Washington.
“This right to life cannot be granted or denied by government, because it does not come from government, it comes from the Creator of life,” said Bush in his comments before the signing.
The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which Bush said he was honored to sign less than two weeks after it was passed by Congress, “reflects the compassion and humanity of America,” said the president.
“The most basic duty of government is to defend the life of the innocent. Every person, however frail or vulnerable, has a place and a purpose in this world. Every person has a special dignity,” he said.
“For years, a terrible form of violence has been directed against children who are inches from birth, while the law looked the other way. Today, at last, the American people and our government have confronted the violence and come to the defense of the innocent child,” said the president to a resounding applause.
“The best case against partial-birth abortion is a simple description of what happens and to whom it happens. It involves the partial delivery of a live boy or girl, and a sudden, violent end of that life,” explained Bush. “Our nation owes its children a different and better welcome,” he said referring to the thousands of partial-birth abortions committed each year in the U.S.
The president also thanked the members of the Senate and the House for their work in creating the bill. He explained that the legislation was the result of a “a studied decision based upon compelling evidence.”
Bush referred to the testimony of former Surgeon General and pediatrician Dr. C. Everett Koop, who has said that the majority of partial-birth abortions in the U.S. “are not required by medical emergency.”
He also said that, through its research, Congress found the practice or partial-birth abortions to be widely regarded within the medical profession as “unnecessary, … cruel to the child, … harmful to the mother, and a violation of medical ethics.”
The president also quoted the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, who once said: “When we look to the unborn child, the real issue is not when life begins, but when love begins.” The governor’s presidential candidacy for the Democratic Party had been blocked because of his pro-life stand.
“[Casey’s] is the generous and merciful spirit of our country at its best,” and it is reflected in the new law, said Bush.
Outside the signing ceremony in Washington, the National Organization for Women held protest. About 50 activists chanted and held signs that read "Keep Abortion Legal".
Less than an hour after Bush signed the bill, a federal judge in Nebraska, District Judge Richard Kopf, issued a limited temporary restraining order against it. Hearings were also held in San Francisco and New York City yesterday on similar challenges. The three court acts have been requested by pro-abortion organizations.
Aware of the impending legal obstacles, Bush pledged at the signing that "the executive branch will vigorously defend this law against any who would try to overturn it in the courts." His comment was received with a standing ovation and the longest round of applause during his remarks.
Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2003 (CNA) - The ordination of V. Gene Robinson as a bishop of New Hampshire by the Episcopal Church U.S.A. must be undone immediately, said the National Clergy Council in a statement released yesterday.
In the statement released, the council said that, through the ordination of the first openly gay bishop in the U.S., some bishops within the Episcopal Church have broken with universal Christian moral teaching and have closed their doors to Christians who remain faithful to church and biblical tradition.
"We find that it is now impossible for traditional Christians to feel welcome in fellowship on any level with the radical bishops, priests and members of the Episcopal Church who condoned and participated in this supremely immoral act,” read the statement.
The council, which represents more than 5,000 church leaders, “expressed deep sadness” over the ordination.
"We humbly and prayerfully call on those responsible for Mr. Robinson's elevation to acknowledge their wrongful actions, immediately undo them, repent of their sins, and reunite with the historic Christian church," it said.
The statement’s signatories include representatives from the following churches: Evangelical Church Alliance, Methodist Episcopal, Reformed Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Full Gospel Baptist, United Methodist, African Methodist Episcopal and Assemblies of God.
Vatican City, Nov 6, 2003 (CNA) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Kevin John Patrick McDonald of Northampton, England, as the archbishop of Southwark, England.
The archbishop-elect was born in Stoke-on-Trent, England in 1947. After studying at the University of Birmingham, he obtained his B.A. Classic Literature. He then studied moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood on July 20, 1974, for the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
He has been a professor of moral theology at St. Mary’s College in Oscott; then he became an official of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity at the Vatican. During that period he graduated with a degree in theology from the Pontifical University Angelicum.
Back in England he was appointed pastor of Sparkhill and, in1998, appointed rector of St. Mary’s College in Oscott. He was named Bishop of Northampton on March 29, 2001.
The archbishop-elect is a member of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
Vatican City, Nov 6, 2003 (CNA) - The Holy Father welcomed on the morning of Thursday the trustees of the “John Paul II Cultural Center” based in Washington, D.C.
The Pope told the US delegation that “it is with gratitude and encouragement that I note your efforts to promote contact, interaction and understanding between peoples and cultures.”
“In fact,” he added, “it is just such mutual exchange that is so necessary today for building the culture of peace, the civilization of love that must ever be the guiding light for our world in this new millennium.”