Archive of November 12, 2003

Pope mourns death of Italian soldiers in suicide attack in Iraq

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II sent a telegram Wednesday to Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, president of the Italian Republic, after a suicide bomb attack in Nassiriya (Iraq) on an Italian military base.

Two vehicles crashed the gate of the Italian military headquarters and one exploded, killing at least 22 people.

The blast killed 14 Italians, 11 "Carabinieri" (Italian police) and three army soldiers, while seven more Italians were wounded. At least 8 Iraqi civilians also died.

 “I received with deep sorrow the news of the vicious attack in Nassiriya, Iraq, in which Italian soldiers lost their lives while generously fulfilling their mission of peace,” the Pope wrote.

“I express my firmest condemnation of this latest act of violence which, in addition to other savage acts which have taken place in that tormented country, does not aid the process of reconstruction and pacification,” he added. 

“In lifting up my fervent prayer for the victims, I ask the Lord to grant Christian comfort to their family members to whom I feel particularly close in this hour of great sadness.  I ask you, Mr. President, to convey the expression of my prayerful solidarity to the military and civilians who are at present committed to the arduous task of serving the Iraqi people,” the telegram concludes.

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God is not indifferent to our sufferings, Pope says during General Audience

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2003 (CNA) - Commenting on Psalm 141, “You are my refuge,” Pope John Paul II reminded Christians during this Wednesday’s general audience celebrated in St. Peter’s Square that God is not indifferent to human suffering.

Addressing the crowd of 12,000 people, John Paul said this psalm was the last prayer recited by St. Francis of Assisi on the night of his death in 1226. “It is an intense supplication, marked by a series of invocations to the Lord: ‘I cry to you O Lord, give heed to my cry’.” 

The Pontiff explained that the psalm “is dominated by faith in God who is not indifferent to the suffering of the faithful.”

The psalmist, he continued, invokes God with insistence “in the face of anguish” and begs Him to intervene by “breaking the chains of his prison of solitude and hostility and saving him from the abyss of trial and tribulation.”

“As in other psalms of petition, the final perspective is one of thanksgiving that will be offered to God after He has heard the supplicant’s prayer,” the Pope also said. “When he is saved, the faithful will approach the Lord to give thanks in the liturgical assembly,” he added.

The Holy Father concluded by indicating that “the Christian tradition sees this psalm as a reference to the persecuted and suffering Christ.  In this way, the hopeful goal of the psalm’s petition becomes a paschal sign on the foundation of the glory of the life of Christ and of our destiny of resurrection with Him.”

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Vatican official calls depression “one of the main killers of our time”

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2003 (CNA) - Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, announced on Wednesday the program and goals of an international conference on depression to be held at the Vatican November 13-15.

Cardinal Lozano said his dicastery has the duty to become familiar with present-day illnesses and “one of the most important is depression.”  “It has been classified as one of the main killers of our time,” he added.

Referring to modern day culture which is “devoid of values, based on well-being and pleasure, and in which economic gains count as the supreme goal,” human beings, he said, “have not been able to escape the ghost of death” despite technological advances and scientific discovery. 

According to the Mexican-born Cardinal, sadness and fear of destruction take the upper hand.  Death, he affirmed, is “a danger that provokes fear which can turn into depression in all its forms.  This is the reason why we thought it was important to reflect on a deeper level on this illness.”

Cardinal Lozano said that during the conference, depression in the modern world will be examined in presentations on the following themes: depression between malaise and illness; depression and religious crisis; the suicide crisis; the media and accentuation of stress. 

In the second session, he continued, the following topics will be studied: the history of depression; depression, subjective moral references and objective moral references; the rejection of suffering; the search for personal well-being; the meaning of depression and the malaise seen from the Jewish, Islamic, Hindi and Buddhist perspective.

During the third session, the following themes will be considered: the welcoming of depressed people in the medical and hospital context; the role of the family and depression; the pastoral and spiritual care of the depressed and the need for a pastoral care of Christian faith and trust in life.

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Spiritual life and pastoral work of priests go hand in hand, says Argentinean Bishop

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 12, 2003 (CNA) - During a Mass of ordination to the priesthood for seminarians in his diocese, Bishop Agustín Radrizzani of Lomas de Zamora, told the newly ordained a priest should “convey the peace and joy that comes from faith” and he emphasized the importance of union of the spiritual life with pastoral work.

In his homily the Bishop said, “The priest, as messenger of the Good News, should be a man who has found true hope in Christ and is committed to sharing it with others in order to build a world based on solidarity and service to those most in need.”  “The apostolic ministry to which God has called us in the priesthood is a labor of love in service to Christ and our brothers and sisters…better yet, to Christ in our brothers and sisters.  This service begins with prayer,” he said.   

According to the Bishop, “our people do not want simple formulas about God; they want us to give them God Himself.  They want to see us as someone who points to the eternal and who is capable of showing them the One who is behind all of the words and rites that we carry out,” the Bishop added.

Bishop Radrizzani also clarified that “there is no place for duality between action and contemplation, the spiritual life and pastoral work.  One should neglect neither prayer, which is necessary, nor the value of the apostolate, which as an act of love has just as much value as prayer.  Moreover, prayer should manifest itself in concrete works of service.”

“On the other hand,” he added, “pastoral work should enrich our spiritual life, giving it concrete expression in time and space, as an act of love to our neighbor.  Rather than hindering contemplation, it facilitates it, because a heart open to one’s neighbor has greater room for God.”

Finally the Bishop exhorted the new priests to live “according to the example of the saints who were in total communion with the holiness of Christ” and “to immerse themselves in prayer, translating it into works of mercy for the littlest ones, just as our beloved Mother Teresa of Calcutta did.”

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Movie based on play by Pope John Paul to debut in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Nov 12, 2003 (CNA) - As part of the 5th Catholics and Public Life Congress, which Hill take place November 14-16, the movie “Brother of our God,” will be debuted.  The film is based on the theatrical work of the same title written in 1949 by Karol Wojtyla.

The film was directed by Krzysztof Zanussi of Poland, who won the Robert Bresson Award at the Venice Film Festival for “seeking the spiritual meaning of life.”

The film is about a polish Franciscan painter, Albert Chmielowski (1845-1916), who was canonized four years ago by John Paul II.

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