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Archive of November 17, 2003

Catholics must fight against discrimination, Pope tells Indians Bishops

Vatican City, Nov 17, 2003 (CNA) - Speaking to the las group of Bishops from India who have comew for their Ad Limina  visit,  Pope John Paul II  for an end to all kind of discriminations prevailing in the Asian subcontinent.

Adressing the bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of Madras-Maylapore, Madurai and  Pondicherry-Cuddalore, the Pontiff  underscored the  importance of a “true spirit of solidarity in the Church and in society.”

“Like so many places in the world,” said the Pope, “India is beset by  numerous social problems. In some ways, these challenges are exacerbated  because of the unjust system of cast division which denies the human dignity  of entire groups of people.”

“In this regard –he continued,- I repeat what I said during my  first pastoral visit to your country: ‘Ignorance and prejudice must be  replaced by tolerance and understanding. Indifference and class struggle  must be turned into brotherhood and committed service. Discrimination based  on race, color, creed, sex or ethnic origin must be rejected as totally  incompatible with human dignity’.”

John Paul II praised the many initiatives implemented by the  Bishops’ Conference and individual Churches “to fight this injustice” and  said that “any semblance of a  cast-based prejudice in relations between Christians is a countersign to  authentic human solidarity … and a serious hindrance to the Church’s mission  of evangelization. Therefore, customs or traditions that perpetuate or  reinforce cast division should be sensitively reformed so that they may  become an expression of the solidarity reformed.”

New Evangelization in India

Speaking about the new evangelization, the Pope said that it is of “special importance in modern societies, in which  large portions of the population find themselves in desperate situations  often leading them to seek quick and easy solutions to complicated problems.”

“This sense of hopelessness may explain, in part, why so many people … are  attracted by fundamentalist sects offering short-lived emotional fervor andan assurance of wealth and worldly achievement.”

“Our response to this must be one of ‘re-evangelization’,” he continued,  “to show people the emptiness of such promises, while convincing them  that Christ and his Body share their sufferings.”

At the end, John Paul II recalled that “a firm commitment to mutual  support ensures our unity in mission which is founded on Christ himself and  enables us to approach all cultures, all ideological concepts, all people of  good will. … The Church also urges the faithful to enter with prudence and  charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions.”

“I encourage you to continue  these frank and helpful discussions with those of other religions. Such  discussions will help us to cultivate this mutual search for truth, harmony  and peace,” he concluded.

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Gibson's leading critic resigns from Anti-Defamation League

, Nov 17, 2003 (CNA) - A leading critic of Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of Christ", resigned from his post at the Anti-Defamation League last week, reported the Forward.

Eugene Korn, the ADL's director of interfaith affairs, told the Forward that his resignation was a "mutual decision" resulting from his need for "a more reflective and contemplative environment." But the resignation follows increasing criticism among some Jewish community leaders, who say that a more diplomatic approach is needed in dealing with Gibson's film, which is scheduled for release on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25.

The ADL stirred controversy earlier this year when it issued a review of Gibson's original screenplay of the film, calling the film anti-Semitic.

Though some Jewish-organization leaders hailed the ADL's strong criticism, an increasing number are now saying that the approach was counterproductive.Some critics argue that the ADL's aggressive strategy might be backfiring and providing Gibson's movie with millions of dollars in free publicity. Others say it might be weakening relations with Jewish-community supporters and Christian groups.

Hebrew Union College professor Rabbi Michael Cook served on the committee that issued the initial controversial critique of the screenplay. He urged the Jewish community to abandon its loud criticism of the movie or risk embarrassment when it hits theatres, reported the Forward. According to Cook, Gibson is in the process of altering the film, and it will be less offensive than many have been predicting, reported the Forward.

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Preparations underway for World Congress on Consecrated Life in Rome

Rome, Italy, Nov 17, 2003 (CNA) - This week initial preparations began for the World Congress on Consecrated Life, which will take place November 23-27 in Rome, with the theme, “Passion for Christ, Compassion for Humanity.”

As part of this first phase, a document has been published emphasizing the “prophetic voice” which the congress should have, and explaining that among the subjects to be discussed will be faithfulness to Christ and commitment to greater inculturation of religious life in the third millennium.

Likewise, the biblical figures of Samaritan woman and the Good Samaritan have been chosen to be symbols of the congress because “they are images of a burning love for Jesus and compassion for humanity.  In them we see reflected our vocation and mission as consecrated men and women at the dawn of the 21st century.”   The Congress will also propose for reflection the apostolic letter of John Paul II, “Novo Millennio Ineunte” and the instruction “Walking with Christ.”

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Spanish website launches boycott campaign against UNICEF Christmas cards

Madrid, Spain, Nov 17, 2003 (CNA) - The Spanish website “HazteOir.org” (“Make Yourself Heard”) has launched a campaign urging people not to buy Christmas cards made by UNICEF since the organization will be using a percentage of the profits to fund anti-life activities.

The campaign aims to make citizens aware that a percentage of the profits from the sale of Christmas cards will be used for the promotion of abortion, the publishing of explicit sexual education books for children, and the promotion of sterilization campaigns among young women.

The website also hopes to get the attention of various commercial outlets that sell the cards—some of which include pictures by renowned figures of Christian religious art such as Blessed Angelico and Rafael—and to make them aware of the harm that is being done by selling them.

The boycott invites those interested to send letters to UNICEF making known their intention not to purchase the Christmas cards, as well as to banking and credit institutions, the postal service and shopping centers, which all collaborate in the distribution of the cards, asking them to refrain from doing so.

Pro-life groups point to the case of Venezuela as an example of the anti-life activity of UNICEF, where the organization provides distribution of “explicit sex-ed material that promotes experimentation and sexual activity, and instruction on the use of condoms and contraceptives” to children as early as 10 years of age in public and private schools.  In addition, the material “promotes masturbation and the possibility of ‘choosing’ one’s sexual identity.”

Similarly in El Salvador, pro-life groups added, UNICEF works with the United States International Aid Agency in the distribution of material that is annexed to economic aid programs that began after the earthquakes of 2001.  The material “exposes pre-pubesent children to sexual depravation,” in an attempt to make the use of contraceptives appear natural and to promote “promiscuity, sexual experimentation, prostitution, and ‘safe-sex’, including masturbation.”

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Bishops warn of massive influx of Brazilians in Paraguay

Asunción, Paraguay, Nov 17, 2003 (CNA) - The Bishops of Paraguay whose dioceses are on the border with the Brazil expressed their concern this week at a growing incursion of Brazilian settlers who are displacing Paraguayan farmers who live in the area.  The bishops shared their concern during a meeting with the president of Paraguay, Nicanor Duarte Frutos.

Bishop Juan Bautista Gavilán of Coronel Oviedo called the massive incursion “an attack on the life” of the people in his diocese, as the settlers take advantage of the poverty of rural Paraguayans and acquire their lands, where they apply pesticides that are causing health problems for locals. 

Likewise the president of the Bishops Conference of Paraguay, Bishop Claudio Giménez, said President Duarte listened to the bishops’ concern and agreed to finance efforts to ensure the Paraguayan farmers can maintain their own land.

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Young Catholic students receive visit from pen-pal sergeant

, Nov 17, 2003 (CNA) - Students at St. Michael's Catholic School in Cary have been learning a lot about service and community in their special outreach project to U.S. soldiers, exchanging letters with them, making gifts and praying for their safe return.

But the kids got a special treat Nov. 14, when Sergeant Brad Brewczak, an army sergeant in Kuwait, visited several classes, including a class of four-year-olds, to thank them in person. The young children had never met Brewczak; they only knew him by a blurry picture.  

The students' letters created a bright spot in the darkness of war, said the sergeant. The letters really help morale, he continued. Brewczak is heading back overseas in a few weeks. The children will continue to correspond with the sergeant; they're already planning what kind of cookies to send him.

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Lk 13:1-9

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