Vatican City, Nov 19, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II said that Christ, ever-glorious, "still bears the signs of the passion, which is His true humanity, but now is revealed in the splendor of divinity. Close to us in suffering and death, Christ attracts us now to Him in glory, blessing us and making us participants in his eternity."
During today's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke about the canticle that forms part of the second chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Christians of Philippi, the Greek city which was the apostle's first stop on his mission to spread the Gospel in Europe.
The Holy Father explained that this prayer, "Christ, servant of God," describes the "'kenosis' of the Son of God, or the 'emptying' of His divine glory" in the Incarnation "until His death on the Cross, the torturous fate of slaves which made Him last among all and a true brother of humanity, sinful and rejected, who suffer."
On the other hand, he added, "the triumph of Christ is fulfilled in Easter when Christ is reestablished by the Father in the splendor of divinity and is celebrated as Lord by the whole of creation and by all men who are by now redeemed. God 'exalts' His Son, conferring upon him a glorious 'name' which in biblical language indicates the person himself and his dignity. This name is 'kyrios' or 'Lord'."
, Nov 19, 2003 (CNA) - In the present international situation, Christians have to be in communion with God, said Dario Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, who inaugurated a series of lectures at the St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver yesterday.
The Colombian-born President of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy gave the first lecture of the Josephine Hanna Lecture Series, named after the late grandmother of Catholic philanthropist Frank Hanna.
"Prayer and action are important for our mission and for the sake of humankind," he said. Holiness is the end of the journey. Sainthood means imitating Christ, who is the final and exemplary cause in the journey of holiness.
His talk, however, reflected mostly on the ministry of priests, who, he said, are also called to holiness in a very specific way and are bound to acquire that perfection.
"The life of the priest is the continuation of the life and action of Christ," he said. Priests are ontologically configured to Christ. He described priestly holiness as a deep friendship and intimacy with God.
However, he conceded that priests live the internal and external struggles of life. As a man, the priest is also a sinner and has to accept reconciliation quickly.
The struggles of a priest are not only internal but are manifested in words and in action. Priests are called to holiness in the midst of these difficulties and prayer is necessary to overcome these struggles.
"Man is a protagonist and not simply a spectator in the fight between good and evil," he said.
"Christ reveals the meaning and gravity of sin. There is no Christian life without a cross," he continued, adding that despite this, priests should not be afraid to preach.
"We, as ministers, are depositories of faith," he said. "Illuminate all Christians with the knowledge of the faith."
The cardinal spoke of the need of priests to be in contact with the world through TV and Internet.
"In the United States, you have freedom, a commitment to international solidarity, concern for the environment, respect for human life," he said. "But in your society are illnesses that affect the Christian faith. Existential materialism and relativism cause the disintegration of the family." In addition, men of God are often attacked by individualism and hedonism, he said.
"Being a man of prayer means finding the reason and criteria for our everyday life," he said. Prayer is the gateway to God, he said. The priest must have faith and listen to God.
"We priests cannot advance disconnected from God," he said. "We have to say .I trust in the Gospel as flesh of God.
The cardinal said the priest has tremendous responsibility in the sacraments, "which are epiphanies of the upcoming world." Each sacrament contains the continuous presence of God. "Let us develop a christological dimension on the administration of sacraments," he said.
"The fundamental task of the priest is to die to the self and to serve in order to live in Christ. Only those who have learned to live with Jesus can evangelize," he said. The priest must encounter Christ not only in prayer but also in His way to the Cross, the Eucharist.
"The Church lives from the Eucharist," he said, making reference to Ecclesia in Eucaristia. "Let us live our priestly lives at the foot of the Cross. Let us adore Him," he said.
Despite this affirmation of the actions of priests, the cardinal added: "We are not saving by activities, but by love for the Lord Jesus Christ." He added that Pope John Paul II's 25th-anniversary celebrations were especially evocative of the love of Christ.
Boston, Mass., Nov 19, 2003 (CNA) - Massachusetts' Catholic bishops are calling for the reversal of a ruling made by the Supreme Judicial Court yesterday, which overturns a ban on same-sex marriage.
The 4-3 decision in the case of Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health "defies reason" and rejects "an understanding of marriage tested over thousands of years and accepted nearly everywhere as the key to a stable society," said the bishops in a statement issued yesterday.
Despite the decision, the debate is still on, said the bishops, who urged the state legislature to send the Marriage Affirmation and Protection Amendment Act to the 2006 ballot. This way, "the people of Massachusetts can reaffirm marriage as the union between one man and one woman, overriding the court's misguided decision in furtherance of sound public policy," they said.
Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of Boston also reacted to the ruling, expressing his hopes that the state's legislators "will have the courage and common sense to
redress this situation for the good of society" in the upcoming months. The court stayed the decision for 180 days.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who disagrees with the court decision, said he would support an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that will maintain
marriage as the union between a man and a woman and try to prevent marriage licenses from going out to same-sex couples.
The court decided that "barring an individual from the protections, benefits and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution."
The majority opinion by Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall said the state "failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples" and that the Massachusetts Constitution "forbids the creation of second-class citizens."
The court also described the Massachusetts Constitution as "more protective of individual liberty and equality than the federal Constitution."
One of the dissenting judges, Justice Francis X. Spina, wrote that the issue at stake is not the unequal treatment of individuals or individual rights, "but the power of the Legislature to effectuate social change without interference from the courts.
"Today, the court has transformed its role as protector of individual rights into the role of creator of rights," he said. The other two dissenting judges were Justices Martha B. Sosman and Robert J. Cordy.
The National Clergy Council, representing church leaders from Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant traditions, also condemned the ruling. Council president Rev. Rob Schenck said the court erred in its decision and warned that there would be a "severe response to this on the part of clergy and churches that hold to strong moral and biblical dictates guarding the sanctity of sexuality and the family."
Montevideo, Uruguay, Nov 19, 2003 (CNA) - The woman used by feminist lawyers who argued in favor of the legalization of abortion on demand in the United States in 1973, is making a visit to Montevideo this week to warn of the harm that abortion will bring to millions of women if legalized in Uruguay.
While the Senate prepares to vote on legislation that would make Uruguay the first country in Latin America to allow abortion, Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Roe v. Wade, arrived in the capital to share her powerful testimony.
Early in 1970, Norma McCorvey claimed she had been raped by a gang and left pregnant. Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, recent law-school graduates of the University of Texas, saw the case as an opportunity to attack the Texas law against abortion. They convinced McCorvey to undergo an abortion rather than give her baby up for adoption, as she had previously decided.
The case was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which legalized abortion in all 50 states in 1973. As the case ran its course, McCorvey's baby was born and given up for adoption.
In 1987 McCorvey admitted that she had not been raped and the baby's father was someone she had known and thought she had loved. She confessed that the story of the gang rape was a lie. Since then she has worked for the cause of life and is now working to have the ruling declared null and void.
McCorvey was invited by four Uruguayan pro-life organizations. Today at noon she is scheduled to visit the Senate Health Committee and in the evening she will give a presentation to civil leaders.
McCorvey's lawyer, Richard Clayton Trotter, told reporters she has requested the U.S. Supreme Court reverse the decision it made 30 years ago.
"Five judges of the Supreme Court are in favor of the maintaining the ruling and four are against. But one of the five in favor has written about the health problems caused by abortion and some lawyers are hopeful this judge could change his position," Clayton said.
"Abortion has become the most common surgical procedure in the U.S.," said Clayton. "Between 40 and 50 million babies have died because of it. In other words, a third of a generation has been lost," he said.
Claytons believes the proposed law being debated in the Uruguayan congress could spark a situation similar to that of the U.S. and for this reason he suggests "the dangerous effects abortion has on women and children be investigated" before any decision is taken.
Last year Uruguay's House of Representatives approved abortion during the first trimester and the Senate Health Committee is currently analyzing the effects of that decision. The three most important political leaders of the country, including President Jorge Batlle, have announced their opposition to the law.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 19, 2003 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Argentina published today a document on the challenges of the Free Trade Area for the Americas, approved during their 86th General Assembly which ended last Saturday, offering their input on the debate to the governments of the continent which are considering the establishment of the trade zone.
The Argentinean bishops asked national legislators to open "a wide debate," to follow negotiations closely and not to limit themselves to "approving or rejecting the treaty once it is signed."
According to the bishops, "The Free Trade Area should be founded upon respect for the integral sovereignty of each nation and on the sacredness of human rights, in particular, the right to life from conception to natural death, and it should be implemented as a means of consolidating the democratic and public structures."
Regarding the lack of information and debate about this issue, the bishops encourage the creation of a forum or roundtable about the Free Trade Area "to hear the opinions of organizations and persons who are capable of offering their points of view with fairness. This is crucial and urgent in light of the experience of international debt, which is contracted and accumulated irresponsibly by leaders with no knowledge of society."
According to the text, the objective of encouraging commerce between the countries of America will be truly positive as long as it respects the sovereignty of the diverse nations and promotes integral development and higher quality of life for the peoples of all the signing countries, and not just for the few."