Vatican City, Nov 10, 2003 (CNA) - On Sunday, Pope John Paul reached the record number of 1,320 blessed during the ceremony of beatification of Juan Nepomuceno Zegri y Moreno of Spain (1831-1905), Valentin Paquay of Belgium (1828-1905), Luigi Maria Monti of Italy (1825-1900), Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro of Spain (1837-1905), and Rosalie Rendu of France (1756-1856).
In his homily, while speaking about the new blessed, the Pope said, “Juan Nepomuceno Zegri y Moreno, a priest of deep Eucharistic piety, understood well how the proclamation of the Gospel must be converted into a dynamic reality, capable of transforming the apostle’s life.”
“With this goal, he developed his redeeming spirituality, born in intimacy with Christ and oriented toward charity with those most in need. Invoking Our Lady of Mercy, Mother of the Redeemer, he was inspired to found the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, with the goal of always making the love of God present,” the Pontiff also said.
Speaking of the Belgian Franciscan Friar, Fr. Valentin Paquay, John Paul said he was “a disciple of Christ and a priest according to the heart of God. Apostle of mercy, he spent many hours in the confessional with a particular gift for setting sinners on the right track, reminding human beings of the grandeur of divine forgiveness.”
“Putting the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery at the center of his priestly life, he invites the faithful to join frequently in the communion of the Bread of Life.”
The Pope said later that Blessed Luigi Maria Monti, the Italian founder of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception, “dedicated his life entirely to clean the wounds of the body and soul of the sick and orphaned. He liked to call them ‘Christ’s poor ones’ and he served them, inspired by a lively faith and sustained by intense and constant prayer.”
Speaking later of the Spanish nun, founder of a congregation dedicated to helping working women in Spain and Latin America, the Holy Father said, “Since the person is the image and likeness of God, purification is necessary in order to defend him or her, regardless of social condition or occupation. This is what Blessed Bonifacia Rodriguez de Castro consecrated herself completely to, as she was a hard worker and understood the risks of this social condition of her time.”
The Pope concluded by speaking about Blessed Rosalie Rendu, of the Society of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul: “In a time troubled by social conflicts, she became a happy servant to the poor, in order to give back to each person his or her dignity, through material help, education and the teaching of Christian mystery.”
The secret to doing so many things, he concluded, “is in an intense life of prayer and incessant recitation of the Rosary which she never left out.”
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2003 (CNA) - A Vatican representative participating at the 113th session of the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe, recently held in Moldavia, has insisted on the request that the European Union’s Constitution must explicitly recognize the role of Christianity in shaping the Continent.
Archbishop Jean Claude Perisset, Apostolic Nuncio in Moldavia, said that the future constitutional treaty for the European Union “promises further opportunities for institutional cooperation between the Churches, Ecclesial Communities and other religious organizations and the European Institutions.”
“Such recognition of the public role to be played by religious institutions is welcomed, as is that of the importance which must surely be given to the religious dimension in guaranteeing the secure and peaceful development of society,” said Perisset.
Nevertheless, he said that, in the midst of the growing religious diversity, “it will be to the enduring advantage of all Europeans if due recognition is given to the unique and indisputable contribution of Christianity to European civilization.”
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2003 (CNA) - On Monday Pope John Paul II received a delegation of Christian Palestinians from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), calling on them to reject terrorism and to act in the true interest of the Palestinian people.
The Pontiff expressed his desire that the delegation’s trip to Italy facilitate “a better understanding of the situation of Christians in the Palestinian territories and of the significant role that they can play in promoting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.”
“Despite recent setbacks on the road to peace and fresh outbreaks of violence and injustice, we must continue to affirm that peace is possible and that the resolution of differences can only come about through the patient dialogue and persevering commitment of people of good will on both sides,” he said
“Terrorism,” the Pope added, “must be condemned in all its forms, for it is not only a betrayal of our common humanity, but is absolutely incapable of laying the necessary political, moral and spiritual foundations for a people’s freedom and authentic self-determination.”
The Pope made a renewed appeal to all parties “to respect fully the resolutions of the United Nations and the commitments made in the acceptance of the peace process, with engagement in a common quest for reconciliation, justice and the building of a secure and harmonious coexistence in the Holy Land.”
“I hope,” he concluded, “that the national Constitution presently being drafted will give expression to the highest aspirations and the most cherished values of all the Palestinian people, with due recognition of all religious communities and adequate legal protection of their freedom of worship and expression.”
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2003 (CNA) - During an audience with the members of the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences –which is celebrating its 400th anniversary—Pope John Paul II recalled science must acknowledge that the human person transcends the mere physical dimension.
Addressing scientists from different countries and beliefs who belong to this Pontifical Academy, the Pontiff said, “We are united in our common desire to correct misunderstandings and even more to allow ourselves to be enlightened by the one Truth which governs the world and guides the lives of all men and women.”
John Paul II observed that the first theme of the meeting, “Mind, Brain and Education,” draws our attention to “the complexity of human life and its pre-eminence over other forms of life.”
“Scientists today often recognize the need to maintain a distinction between the mind and the brain, or between the person acting with free will and the biological factors which sustain his intellect and capacity to learn. In this distinction, which need not be a separation, we can see the foundation of that spiritual dimension proper to the human person which biblical Revelation explains as a special relationship with God the Creator,” he said.
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2003 (CNA) - During the audience with the members of the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences gathered in Rome these days, Pope John Paul II told scientists members of this Vatican institution that he supports stem cell research but not from human embryos.
Referring to the meeting’s second topic, “Stem Cell Technology and Other Innovative Therapies,” the Pope recalled that “research in this field has understandably grown in importance in recent years because of the hope it offers for the cure of ills affecting many people.”
He added: “I have on other occasions stated that stem cells for purposes of experimentation or treatment cannot come from human embryo tissue. I have instead encouraged research on adult human tissue or tissue superfluous to normal fetal development.”
“Any treatment which claims to save human lives, yet is based upon the destruction of human life in its embryonic state, is logically and morally contradictory, as is any production of human embryos for the direct or indirect purpose of experimentation or eventual destruction,” he concluded.
Milwaukee, Wis., Nov 10, 2003 (CNA) - The interim chairman of the USCCB-created National Review Board, created to monitor Church response to clerical sexual abuse, addressed the national conference of “Call to Action” last Saturday, reassuring the board will keep its “independence” from the bishops.
Anne Burke, an Illinois appellate judge who replaced former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating as head of the board, participated last Saturday at the national meeting of “Call to Action,” an organization that advocates for “reforms” at odds with current Church teachings, among them the ordination of women and optional celibacy for priests.
Burke said 76 percent of US Catholic dioceses have reported information about sexual abuse victims, perpetrators and events for a survey sponsored by the National Review Board. The survey is scheduled to be released in February.
“Even though there was some foot-dragging in the beginning, they are complying,” Burke told “Call To Action” members.
“There is an old moral axiom that declares, ‘Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done.’ When it is followed, virtue abounds, but failure to head such truths in our Catholic past has resulted in unprecedented sorrow,” Burke said.
During the meeting, “Call to Action” members accused the board of acting as a mouthpiece for the bishops, and called for an “independent” board.
But Burke denied that the bishops controlled the board.
“The lay board is in no way a rubber stamp to the hierarchy. They may not like everything we're doing, because we're independent people,” she said.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Nov 10, 2003 (CNA) - Fr. Christopher Hartley Sartorius, pastor of St. Joseph of the Plains Parish, located 65 kilometers from Santo Domingo, denounced the poor working conditions of the Dominican Republic sugarcane fields, which he characterized as the "waiting rooms of hell," where thousands of haitians will be working during the coming months.
Fr. Sartorius explained that "25,000 Haitians, with their machetes, will be brought here in military trucks under the cover of night, so that they will not know where they are," adding that "nobody knows these people exist, they are undocumented."
"We should realize just how much the sugar that sweetens our coffee is costing," he said.
Fr. Sartorius said the sugarcane workers, who do without electricity and potable water, are spread out all over the sugarcane plantations and form a world practically unknown and isolated from the outside world.
"Haitians come for the harvest, and some stay of their own free will, such as Banika, who came with her husband when she was 14, and now, at 20 and with three daughters, she says she does not wish to return to Haiti," said Fr. Sartorius, adding the workers are promised good pay, but only get vouchers worth $1.30 per ton of sugarcane. The vouchers are barely enough to buy rice, beans and cooking oil.
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2003 (CNA) - This Tuesday at the Vatican Pope John Paul II will receive in audience a group of Italian and Polish soccer players, who will be playing a game the next day in Varsovia.
The audience with the Holy Father was requested by the Italian Soccer Federation, which wanted to "convey the best wishes of the world of soccer to the Pope for the 25th anniversary of his Pontificate."
Bishops in Paraguay demand Christian consistency to bring morals to country ASUNCION - Meeting at their general assembly, the Bishops Conference of Paraguay analyzed the pastoral work of the Church in the country and called on Catholics to live their faith consistently to bring about a transformation in society.
"Much work has been done in evangelization and yet our society does not move forward. 95 percent of our people are Catholic and yet we are unable to rid out corruption. We prepare leaders to bring about change in politics, and yet politics corrupts them," said the spokesman for the conference, Bishop Zacarías Ortiz.
Bishop Ortiz said the crisis, which is taking place in all aspects of society, is a challenge to the bishops. "We see that Christians are being swallowed up by this atmosphere," he said.
According to the spokesman, the index of corruption in our country reveals "we are more corrupt than many non-Christian countries." The problem lies in the lack of Christian witness, Bishop Ortiz said. "It's not that we are unorganized because we have movements that work for change, but they are not strong. This means evangelization is weak," the Bishop concluded.
Asunción, Paraguay, Nov 10, 2003 (CNA) - Meeting at their general assembly, the Bishops Conference of Paraguay analyzed the pastoral work of the Church in the country and called on Catholics to live their faith consistently to bring about a transformation in society.
“Much work has been done in evangelization and yet our society does not move forward. 95 percent of our people are Catholic and yet we are unable to rid out corruption. We prepare leaders to bring about change in politics, and yet politics corrupts them,” said the spokesman for the conference, Bishop Zacarías Ortiz.
Bishop Ortiz said the crisis, which is taking place in all aspects of society, is a challenge to the bishops. “We see that Christians are being swallowed up by this atmosphere,” he said.
According to the spokesman, the index of corruption in our country reveals “we are more corrupt than many non-Christian countries.” The problem lies in the lack of Christian witness, Bishop Ortiz said. “It’s not that we are unorganized because we have movements that work for change, but they are not strong. This means evangelization is weak,” the Bishop concluded.