Archive of November 14, 2003

Pope asks for love and support to help depressed people

Vatican City, Nov 14, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II explained today how to take care of depressed people and encouraged families "to integrate them into a community of faith and a life in which they feel loved, understood, supported, dignified, that is to love and to be loved." 

"The spread of depression has become worrying.  Human, psychological and spiritual fragility is manifested through the disease, which at least in part is induced by society," the Holy Father added at the Paul VI Hall, where he received participants of the 18th International Conference on Depression, organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

The Pope warned that "it is important to be aware of the repercussions that the messages sent by the media - which exalt consumerism, the immediate gratification of one's every desire, the constant search for greater material well-being - have on people". 

He stressed that "it is necessary to propose new ways so that every person may be able to improve their own personality, cultivating their spiritual life which is the foundation of a mature existence."

People who take care of the depressed, he added, "must help them to rediscover their self-esteem, confidence in their own capability, interest in the future, desire to live". 

On the spiritual path, the Pope said, reading and meditating on the psalms is of great help, as well as praying the rosary and participating in the Eucharist, a "source of interior peace."

John Paul II emphasized that in the face of the phenomenon of depression the Church and society must "propose to people, especially young people, models and experiences that help them to grow on the human, psychological, moral and spiritual level". 

"The absence of points of reference will only weaken their personalities, causing them to think all behavior is of the same value.  In this sense, the role of the family, the school, youth movements, and parish association is very relevant," he said.

Finally, he highlighted "the role of public institutions in order to assure dignified conditions of life, especially for people who have been abandoned, the sick and the elderly.  Equally necessary are policies for young people, policies which offer a reason for hope to the new generations, rescuing them from the feeling of emptiness or other dangers."

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Catholic bishops predict "hard times ahead" with upcoming study on sexual misconduct

Washington D.C., Nov 14, 2003 (CNA) - The release of three news studies in priestly sexual abuse in early 2004 means the U.S. bishops will face “hard and sad times ahead,” said Bishop Wilton Gregory of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishop made this comment on the closing day of the USCCB semi-annual general meeting yesterday.

The first study by the National Review Board, due Jan. 6, is an audit of how each diocese has fared in its compliance with the charter to protect children and youth, which the bishops adopted in June 2002.

The second study, to be released Feb. 27, is causing the most anxiety among the bishops. It was conducted by criminologists at John Jay College, based on interviews with bishops, victims and offenders and it includes all of the known allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the past 50 years.

Bishops have expressed concern that false accusations would be lumped in with real ones, that no distinction would be made between sex crimes and conduct that was inappropriate but not illegal, and that the responses of 50 years ago would be judged by the standards of today.

Anne Burke, an Illinois appellate court judge who is interim chair of the review board, praised the bishops' co-operation, saying that 82 per cent of 195 dioceses had completed their surveys by mid-September.

Archbishop Harry Flynn, chair of the bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, said grants are being sought for a much deeper $4-million scientific study of the causes and context of the abuse and a national databank of priests who were known offenders. The ad hoc committee also released "a guide for bishops on best practices in pastoral care of victim-survivors" yesterday.

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Catholic organization regrets removal of judge in favor of “10 Commandments

, Nov 14, 2003 (CNA) - The Thomas More Law Center called yesterday’s decision that voted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore out of office “outrageous” and “an illustration of how far established authority has come in tearing down the religious foundations of our nation.”

The nine-member Court of the Judiciary voted to remove Moore from office after he refused to obey a federal ruling to remove the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building.

“It is shameful that the panel based its decision on the argument that man ‘is a creature of the law.’ That may very well be why the panel was so upset with Justice Moore’s acknowledgement of God,” said Richard Thompson, chief counsel of the national public-interest law firm, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Justice Roy Moore is a profile in courage, and should be commended for his refusal to compromise his conscience,” he said.

The law center had filed briefs on behalf of Moore in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and recently in the U.S. Supreme Court, in support of his public display of the Ten Commandments.

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Catholic Orders seek recruits in Cyberspace

Philadelphia, Pa., Nov 14, 2003 (CNA) - Catholic communities are increasingly tapping into modern technology and going where the youth are to attract new vocations – in cyberspace. 

A Reuters report recently featured the Congregation of the Mission, founded by St. Vincent de Paul, in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as one group that has joined the technological age at full throttle. The Vincentians have recently launched their own Web site and have been distributing CD-ROMs to potential candidates. They are also planning an advertising campaign in January.

Like many communities, they have gotten older and have shrunk dramatically from 400 in 1976 to less than 200 this year.

The Vincentians decided to use the Internet after meeting consultants who specialize in religious marketing and advertising at a conference last year. The consultants told the community to “get with it” and that if they wanted to be “known, real and relevant” they needed “a Web site that’s known, real and relevant.” The Vincentian Web site address is

The Vincentians aren’t the only ones hoping to profit from the digital age. Many orders have set up their own Web site or have joined the umbrella Web site

While the U.S. Catholic population has grown to more than 63 million people compared with 45 million in 1965, new vocations continue to drop. The number of graduate level seminarians in the U.S. is about 3,400 compared with 8,300 a generation ago. The average age of priests has soared from 47 in 1970 to 60 in 2002. There are now more priests over the age of 90, than under 30.

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Holy See publishes handbook for Catholic Cultural Centers

Vatican City, Nov 14, 2003 (CNA) - Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, presented today at the Vatican the "vademecum" or handbook for Catholic Cultural Centers, edited by his dicastery.

Along with Bishop Giuseppe Betori, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Poupard told reporters that the vademecum is the outcome of international meetings of Catholic Cultural Centers "in culturally and geographically homogenous areas." 

Cardinal Poupard said that behind the title, "Catholic Cultural Center," there are "extremely diversified realities, characterized by many activities and interests" where the essential goal is "to put the Christian faith in touch with culture and the cultures of our time, and with all related phenomena.  Therefore, the relationship between faith and culture is the essential area in which all the Catholic Cultural Centers operate."

"In order to bridge the gap between faith and culture, between the Gospel and daily experience, between the proclamation of Christ and the indifference and atheism of so many men and women of our time, the Church has made great steps," he said.

In addition to interventions by the Magisterium and pastors, he added, "local action from the ground level is necessary, action which takes places locally, which values cultural traditions of every reality, which responds to the needs of a specific population."

Bishop Betori spoke about the "cultural project based on the Christian tradition," which he said, "is an initiative that the Italian Church has promoted for almost eight years and whose objective is to make a connection between the Gospel and culture."

The Pontifical Council for Culture has published an international directory of all the Catholic Cultural Centers, which can be found on their official web site.  The directory of Italian Cultural Centers has been published as a separate booklet.

Currently, there are 341 registered cultural centers, which operate in Italy and collaborate in different ways with the national service for the cultural project.  The handbook presented today contains the addresses of these centers, as well as information on the "general mission, the initiatives and cultural services they offer."  For more information, consult the web site:

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Pro-family groups campaign against legalization of pedophilia in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Nov 14, 2003 (CNA) - Various pro-family groups in Chile this week, including “Family Action,” have launched a campaign aimed at stopping a proposed law by a group of legislators concerning “reproductive and sexual rights” that would open the door to legalized pedophilia in the country.

Family Action explained that while the Senate is preparing to pass a law punishing pedophiles and child pornographers with severe sanctions, a multi-partisan group of legislators has presented another bill that would nullify those measures.  “If this other bill is passed, it would eliminate the age of content which the current law against pedophile has established, allowing all types of sexual activity to be legal ‘from an early age’,” Family Action said.

This bill on sexual rights, the group added, “defines these rights as the ability to ‘decide for oneself when and with whom to have sexual relations, with no limit as long as the other person’s sexual freedom is not violated. 

The bill would also “prohibit all discrimination which would lessen, restrict or limit the exercise of this right because of age…especially discrimination against young people of school age.”  Family Action has sent a letter to legislators urging them to shelve indefinitely the proposed bill on sexual rights, citing Senate rules that specify that bills older than two years that have not come up for a vote should be dismissed.

The anti-pedophlia law was approved Wednesday in committee and established 14 years as the age of consent for sexual activity, despite opposition from anti-life congressmen.  It will now come up for vote in both houses of Congress next week. 

 The new law would create a national registry of accused sex offenders, punish those who solicit their services and substantially law enforcement powers.

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Cuban government denies man job because of his faith

Havana, Cuba, Nov 14, 2003 (CNA) - The Minister of Employment and Social Security has denied employment to a Boris Baxada Romay because of his faith and because he has not completed mandatory military service, saying he has violated agreements between Cuban employment agencies and the International Work Organization.

“On various occasions I have applied for jobs at employment centers and they always ask me for my ‘Annex 1’ document, which is issued by the Military offices of each municipality,” the 23 year-old Cuban explained.   “When I tell them that I don’t have one because of my faith and because I am against war and guns, they say I won’t be able to work anywhere,” he added.

 In order to hold a job the Cuban government requires citizens to maintain a number of official documents and certificates, including statements verifying union membership and payment of dues, medical examinations and background checks.

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Archbishop of Valencia calls for recuperation traditional European values

Madrid, Spain, Nov 14, 2003 (CNA) - Bishop Agustín García-Gasco of Valencia, Spain, has published a pastoral letter in which he calls on Christians to work for the recuperation of traditional European values in contrast with people are interested only in politics and the economy.

“Politics and the economy are not everything,” he wrote, encouraging the faithful to “be conscientious that the building of Europe is not something that is far away from us, but rather something that affects us and will be even more incumbent upon us soon.”

Currently Europe “is in a construction phase, or better yet, reconstruction,” the Archbishop said, adding “the European Union is meant to be a project of hope, a mixture of creativity and responsibility in the eyes of history, perhaps unprecedented in times of peace.”

Archbishop García-Gasco also said that Europe “is a cultural and historical concept that goes beyond geographical borders and is a reality born of unifying force of Christianity, which is capable of transmitting common values to distinct and plural peoples.”

Christianity “is part of the foundation of European culture in a uniquely decisive way,” writes the Spanish prelate.  However, this reality “clashes with the present moment, in which economic and political growth appear to be accompanied by a profound crisis of values” brought about from not “building a common project that goes beyond a materialistic society of consumers, which leaves an existential void in people and in society.”

In his letter, the Archbishop declares that “Europe will be Europe only if it proclaims in word and in deed: Yes to the dignity of the human person; Yes to value of reason, of freedom, of democracy; Yes to the building of a state based on rights; Yes to the adequate distinction between politics and religion.”

Archbishop García-Gasco finished his letter saying, “The Church in Europe is obliged to contribute to the construction of the European identity based on truly human values.”  Therefore, “To reduce the European Union to the Europe of markets and to Euro-politics, forgetting its culture, religion, and human rights, would mean a falsification of its very identity.

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