Vatican City, Nov 11, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II received on Tuesday representatives from the Polish trade union “Solidarnosc” (Solidarity), founded on Christian ethics and the social teaching of the Catholic Church, and recalled its successful peaceful fight against Communism.
Addressing the delegation, which included former President Lech Walesa, and Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski, head of pastoral care in the work force of the Polish Episcopal Conference, the Pope recalled that this meeting takes place on November 11, the anniversary of the institution of the Polish Republic in 1918.
“National freedom was regained that day,” said the Holy Father, “after years of fighting that cost our nation so much deprivation and sacrifice.” “This exterior freedom did not last but we have always been able to call upon it in the fight to preserve interior freedom, freedom of spirit,” he added.
The Pontiff reviewed the history of “Solidarnosc,” recalling it was born among those who fought against “the programmed suppression of man’s freedom, the humiliation of his dignity and the negation of his fundamental rights” and he affirmed that these principles went on to become “the foundation for peaceful changes” in Poland.
The Pope especially recalled 1979 when “the sense of unity in the good and the common desire for prosperity in the oppressed nation prevailed over hatred and the desire for vengeance and became the seed for building a democratic state.” He then referred to 1989 when he entrusted the union, which was by then legal, to Our Lady of Jasna Gora.
Nevertheless, he observed, these events “seem to be forgotten with time. Younger generations are not familiar with them. We could then ask ourselves if they are able to appreciate the freedom they possess, if they do not realize the price that was paid for it.” John Paul II affirmed that these events are a “heritage which must be constantly remembered so that freedom does not turn into anarchy but rather takes on the form of common responsibility.”
The Pope, quoting from his speech to members of the union in 1981, emphasized that they had “duties of enormous importance…which are connected to the need for the full assurance of the dignity and efficacy of human work, through respect for the personal, familial and social rights of each person who is the subject of labor… Your activity has, and should always have, a clear reference to social morality.”
“Today,” he continued, “this urgency to guarantee the dignity and efficacy of human work has not lost its importance.” He cited current problems in the labor force in Poland: unemployment, temporary work, laying off “without any concern for the plight of employees and their families,” as well as the difference between public and private employment.
“It is necessary that your union openly defends workers who are denied the right to speak out, or to express opposition to the phenomena that violate the fundamental rights of the worker.” John Paul also recalled the issue of non-payment in Poland, defining it as “a grave sin that cries out for vengeance from heaven,” and “denying workers the right to rest, medical care and even maternity leave.”
At the end, the Pope warned them that in recent years the fact that the union has become politicized, “probably due to historical necessity, has contributed to its debilitation.” “Today if Solidarnosc really wants to serve the nation, it must return to its roots,” All workers, regardless of who is in power in the country, depend on your help in defending their lawful rights.”
The gathering concluded with the Holy Father greeting the National Polish soccer team as well as players from the National Italian soccer team who will play each other tomorrow in Warsaw.
Vatican City, Nov 11, 2003 (CNA) - The terrorist attacks of September 11 changed dramatically the attitude toward immigrants, said Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, during the presentation of the Congress this Vatican dicastery will hold from November 17 to 22 in Rome.
Archbishop Marchetto revealed that the United States, with 35 million immigrants, followed by the Russian Federation -with 13 million, - is the country with the highest number of immigrants.
He emphasized that the terrorist attacks of September 11 “have had a dramatic impact on migration” and their effects “have highlighted the importance of the efficient management of immigrant waves and provoked increased awareness about the insufficiency of solely local measures.”
“It is necessary,” he continued, “to find a solution to the difficult problem of consolidating the unity of all of humanity with the diversity of peoples, ethnicities, cultures and religions that compose it. This implies welcoming our neighbor, with a culture of dialogue and reciprocity, solidarity and peace.”
Fr. Michael Blume, undersecretary of the same dicastery, added later that there are 16 million refugees under the administration of international organizations, and said that “if the pastoral care of refugees can assume different forms, according to the circumstances, its starting point should always be the comprehension of a situation in all its dimensions – personal, social, economic, political – in the light of the Word of God and the social doctrine of the Church.”
Washington D.C., Nov 11, 2003 (CNA) - The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urged his fellow bishops to promote unity and accept criticism from the laity at the start of the bishops’ semi-annual meeting yesterday.
“In our recent history, nothing has damaged the communio of our local Churches – and indeed of the whole Church in the United States – more than the crisis of the sexual abuse of minors,” said Bishop Wilton Gregory, referring to the sex-abuse scandal that was uncovered more than a year ago in the U.S. Church. “The sense of unity and common purpose between bishop and the diocesan community, between bishop and his priests, and even among us ourselves as Bishops, was deeply affected.
“Among those with whom we bishops have an urgent obligation to re-establish communio are the victims of sexual abuse by clergy,” said the bishop of the Diocese of Belleville. “Our solid steps to prevent future abuse must be accompanied by a healing and reconciliation with those who were abused.
“We Bishops need to reflect on our own need to accept just criticism, to apologize, and to forgive, not only in our relationships with the faithful, but in our commerce with one another,” he continued.
The bishop told the assembly that he looks forward to the audit report of the Office of Child and Youth Protection in January and of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in February on the nature and scope of the crisis the U.S. Church faced.
In his address, Bishop Gregory said the U.S. Church needs to promote “a genuine ‘spirituality of communion’.”
He noted the challenges to communion, including the need to recognize that God dwells within each person. Communion is achieved when one sees others as gifts that deepen one’s understanding of God, of self and of communion, rather than as threats to one’s happiness, he said.
“Belonging to the Church means accepting the communio that God has given us as the divinely instituted hierarchical communion that it is,” Bishop Gregory told the episcopal conference. “The Church is not something that we can re-create or re-invent, either in terms of its Apostolic structure or of the faith that has been handed down to us.”
During their meeting, which will last until Thursday, the bishops will vote on a document, clarifying the Church's position on same-sex unions. They will also decide whether to draft a document urging compliance with the Church's teachings banning artificial contraception and encouraging natural family planning.
The USCCB will revise its investment guidelines for its $175 million portfolio. Under the proposed changes, the conference will avoid businesses involved in pornography, abortion, stem-cell research and cloning. They are also expected to vote on a statement about how popular devotional practices, such as pilgrimages, must remain consistent with Church teaching.
They will clarify how Sunday services should be celebrated in parishes when no priest is available. They will also vote on a pastoral statement about agriculture, international trade and genetically modified foods.
Washington D.C., Nov 11, 2003 (CNA) - The American Life League is calling on the U.S. bishops to weigh in on pro-abortion politicians in Congress this week while they are in Washington for their semi-annual meeting.
In a two-page ad released yesterday called "A Catholic Bishop's Guide to Washington", the league urges the bishops to address members of Congress who publicly claim to be Catholic but who consistently vote pro-abortion. Organizers want the bishops to make politicians understand clearly that they cannot be Catholic and support abortion.
"During their four days in D.C., the bishops have a unique opportunity to follow the example of Christ and the exhortation of the Holy Father by informing the 71 'Catholic' members of Congress that their support of legalized abortion removes them from communion with the Church," the ad says.
League president Judie Brown said that one of the greatest failures of the pro-life movement is “the reluctance of too many bishops to lead by example and take the needed actions to enforce the Church's teachings on the sanctity of all human life.
"Had more of the bishops done their job properly, we would have fewer pro-abortion Catholic senators such as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry," she said.
Montreal, Canada, Nov 11, 2003 (CNA) - A new documentary, which is set to premiere later this month in Toronto, offers an inspiring and honest look at young Canadian Catholics.
Unlikely Pilgrims follows four young people at World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto and provides a glimpse into the joys and struggles of being young and Catholic in an increasingly secular society.
“World Youth Days have always attracted millions of young people and the media focus has always been on the Pope. What we wanted to find out was who are these young people and why is their faith so important to them in such a secular age,” said one of the directors Laura Ieraci, who conceived the documentary idea. In April 2002, the two-time World Youth Day pilgrim hooked up with her college buddy, Agata De Santis, who heads her own production company, for their first documentary. The 42-minute film was written, directed and produced by the Montreal-based team.
“Unlikely Pilgrims is charged with compelling testimony about what makes Catholic youth tick,” said a review in the Catholic Times Montreal. “The candidness of the pilgrims’ responses is refreshing but not always comforting.”
The four young people tell how their faith helped them get through of years of drug addiction, jail time and prostitution, how they wrestle with some Church teachings and how they reconcile them with the values of their secular society.
De Santis and Ieraci say the making of the film was an exercise of trust in itself. They set out to make the film with no funding, except for a small private donation that barely covered travel expenses to Toronto. The film’s post-production was later covered by a grant provided by the National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmakers’ Assistance Program.
Unlikely Pilgrims will make its national premiere at the Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto Nov. 22. For more information on the documentary, visit www.redheadproductions.com
Madrid, Spain, Nov 11, 2003 (CNA) - A Spanish scholar who is researching the life and works of Pablo Picasso has revealed that the famous artists from Malaga desired to be married in the Church with his lover Jacqueline, and that he also wanted “to die in communion with the Church” and be buried in Malaga’s Cathedral.
In his book on Picasso, Juan Maldonado says Picasso told a Dominican priest in 1963 of his desire to be buried in Malaga, together with his uncle and godfather, Father Pablo Ruiz Blasco, who was a priest at the Cathedral.
Maldonado explained that at 77 years of age, Picasso had wished to be married in the Church with Jacqueline, and he went to consult with a Dominican priest, Father Severino Alvarez, who was a professor at the University of Rome, telling him of his religious upbringing and of his desire “to die in communion with the Church of God.” He also told the priest: “I wish to be buried alongside Pablo, my godfather.”
The 72 year-old Spanish scholar compiled information on the life and work of Picasso for almost half a century in preparation for his first book. The revelations on Picasso’s desire to return to the faith late in life were found in a 1984 interview of the Spanish daily “ABC” with a Dominican priest who referred to the statements made by Picasso.
Maldonado says after his book was published, he informed the mayor of Malaga of his discoveries so “the wishes of the artist might be granted and his remains be transferred to Malaga.”
Madrid, Spain, Nov 11, 2003 (CNA) - The International Pro-life Congress concluded this week in Madrid with the creation of a European-Latin American Pro-life Foundation, which marks a new level of “cooperation and assistance for the financing of projects of common interest between pro-life groups on both sides of the Atlantic.”
According to sources the foundation will be headquartered in Madrid and its first Director will be Alberto Martín.
Leaders also decided to launch the Network of Institutions for Women In Need, which will “defend the fundamental rights and freedoms of all women in international forums.” Cristina Gonzalez de Delgado was elected its first director.
A final statement issued by the Congress calls on “all citizens, and especially those in authority or who have the ability to promote and defend a culture of life, working together with the media,” to promote “respect for human life from conception to natural death, reminding all that this is a basic right without which other rights have no meaning.”
Congress participants made the commitment to “continue reminding society that abortion is a homicide that, even though legal in certain countries and circumstances, directly takes the life an unborn human being, and as such is incompatible with the basic ethical norms.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 11, 2003 (CNA) - The Bishops of Buenos Aires have offered Catholics whose marriages have been celebrated by a group of fake priests the chance to have their unions regularized by the Church.
The bishops released a statement in which they lamented the fact that many Catholics of good will have been deceived by a group of “pseudo-priests” who have pretended to perform marriage ceremonies in private settings, and they encouraged such Catholics to consult with their local parishes.
“As pastors of the dioceses of the Buenos Aires region, we are deeply saddened by what has occurred and by the suffering endured by those who have been deceived by ‘pseudo-priests’ who fake marriage blessings according to rite of the Catholic Church in private areas, neighborhoods or banquet halls, which in no way were they entitled to do,” the bishops said.
The bishops are offering “the possibility of normalizing their situation by consulting with the nearest Roman Catholic parish in their area, in order to regularize their marriage before God and the Church.”
The bishops added: “All those who acted thus in good faith and who were not a fault for this situation should feel at peace in their conscience, and we exhort them take the necessary action” to resolve this situation.