Archive of November 21, 2003

Vatican condemns attack against British Consulate in Turkey

Vatican City, Nov 21, 2003 (CNA) - On Thursday, Cardinal Angelo Sodano sent a telegram of condolence in the Holy Father’s name to Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey, upon the news of yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Istanbul that targeted several buildings, including the British consulate.

In the telegram, John Paul II expresses his deepest condolences as well as his spiritual closeness to the Turkish nation and to the families of the victims. 

He asks the Lord to welcome the deceased into His kingdom and to grant strength and courage to the injured, their families and those who are involved in the clean-up efforts. “The Pope makes yet another appeal,” the text says, “in which he condemns terrorist activity which gravely affects innocent populations. Homicidal violence constitutes contempt for people and offends humanity.” 

“Dialogue,” “the message continues, “is the only dignified way for human beings to deal with tensions that pit people and human groups against each other.” 

“The Holy Father asks God, All-powerful, to enlighten the consciences of those who are involved in terrorism so that they themselves set out courageously on the path of peace,” the text concludes.

Seventeen people were killed Thursday after a bomb struck the British consulate, and another 10 died in the bombing of the HSBC building. Twenty of the victims were Turkish citizens.

Among the dead at the consulate was the British Consul-General Roger Short.  British Minister Robert Straw, who arrived in Istanbul late Thursday, said the attacks bore the hallmarks of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. “It appears to be have been perpetrated by al Qaeda and its associates, and I stand by that statement,” he said.

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Catholic charitable activity cannot forget the main goal of bringing people to God, Pope says

Vatican City, Nov 21, 2003 (CNA) - Addressing the participants in the twenty-fifth plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” the Vatican organization dedicated to charitable activity, Pope John Paul recalled that Catholic concern for the poor cannot be disassociated with the announcement of the Gospel. 

Speaking to the members of the dicastery, who are presently reflecting on the theme, “The dimension of religion in our charitable activity,” the Pontiff said that this topic “highlights the fact that when we are helping the hungry, sick, lonely, or those who are suffering, we must not neglect that intimate aspiration that every human being has to find and get to know God.” 

“We are all looking for answers to the big questions about life.  We Christians know that only in Jesus will we find the true and complete response to the many anxieties of the human soul.”

The Holy Father said that this is why the “Church does not limit itself to satisfying only the material needs of those in difficulty”; the Church “makes an effort to answer the most obscure existential questions, even those that are not clearly expressed.”

 “The reflections of these days push you to emphasize the meaning and evangelical value of charity which the Church exercises through its charitable institutions and which bears witness to the dedication of so many people,” he added.

The example of Mother Teresa The Pope also said that “there is no shortage of luminous examples of this service of love towards God and towards one’s neighbor.  I propose to all other Teresa of Calcutta, whom I was personally able to accompany for many ears and whom I recently had the joy of inscribing in the book of  blessed.” 

“May she intercede for you from heaven and make your work fruitful,” he concluded.

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Pope appoints Cuban-American Bishop in Miami

Alberta, Canada, Nov 21, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II appointed the Very Reverend Felipe de Jesus Estevez, director of spiritual formation of the St. Paul Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida, as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Miami. 

The Bishop-elect completed his studies in philosophy and theology at the Seminary of Montreal (Canada) and was ordained priest in the U.S. on May 30 1970, for the diocese of Matanzas (Cuba).

Prevented from going back to his country by the Cuban regime, he developed his pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Tegucigalpa (Honduras), at the Seminary  "Nuestra Señora de Suyapa," until 1975, when he was asked to return to the Archdiocese of Miami (Florida). He later graduated in Spiritual Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome.

From 1975 to 1977 he has been member of the Regional Seminary "Saint Vincent de Paul" at Boynton Beach (Florida) and vice-rector of the Archdiocese's department of vocations; from 1980 to 1986 he was Rector of the Seminary "Saint Vincent de Paul" at Boynton Beach and in 1987 he was administrator of  Saint Agatha Parish in Miami. From 1985 to 1988 he was a member of the Archdiocesan Synod. 

He has also been Director of Campus Ministry at Florida International University.  Since 2001 he has been the Director of Spiritual Formation of the Regional Seminary "Saint Vincent de Paul" at Boynton Beach. He speaks English and Spanish fluently.

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Vatican Theologian says homosexual “weddings” have no justification

Rome, Italy, Nov 21, 2003 (CNA) - Father Gino Concetti, theologian of the official Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano, is denouncing the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court on homosexual marriages, saying the possibility of establishing a “marriage” between persons of the same sex “gravely wounds the human dignity and should never be justified.”

This week the Supreme Court of Massachusetts handed down in decision ordering the state legislature to legalize unions between two persons of the same sex.

In his comments Father Concetti made reference to the dictionary of ethics published last April by the Pontifical Council for the Family and to the Vatican’s exhortations last August that politicians refuse support for efforts to legalize homosexual unions.

Homosexual activity “is a moral disorder because it contradicts the natural order, which establishes that unions be based on heterosexual relationships,” he said, adding that homosexual unions “go against the will of God, who made men and women equal and complementary, destined not only to love each other but to procreate as well.”

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Vatican clears up rumors of Fatima becoming an interfaith shrine

Vatican City, Nov 21, 2003 (CNA) - The world-famous Fatima shrine will not be turned into a multi-faith pilgrim center, confirmed a Vatican official yesterday.

The rumors began after a Portuguese newspaper printed a false report, following an interfaith congress held at the Paul VI Pastoral Center in Fatima.

Devotees were initially shocked and upset at these reports, saying that it would be a “total abandonment” of what the shrine stands for, reported the Universe.

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, reassured devotees that there were no such plans to turn the shrine into an interfaith center and that Fatima would definitely remain a place of prayer centered on Our Lady.

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U.S. Congress approves Medal of Freedom to Pope John Paul

Washington D.C., Nov 21, 2003 (CNA) - A resolution in the Senate to award Pope John Paul II the Presidential Medal of Freedom passed without a single objection on Wednesday evening.

Resolution 13, urging the Congress to present Pope John Paul with the Presidential Medal was presented Oct. 28, based on the Pope’s experience of “the brutishness of a godless totalitarian regime”, his meeting with  President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

It also cited his “public and private diplomacy and the power of moral suasion to encourage world leaders to respect the inalienable rights of the human person” and his lifelong  devotion “to the amelioration of the human cost of terror and oppression through … the development of a vibrant public moral culture.”

The resolution also resolves to urge the president to present the medal to the Pope “in recognition of the pontiff’s “significant, enduring, and historic contributions to the causes of freedom, human dignity, and peace and to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of His Holiness' inauguration of his ministry as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pastor of the Catholic Church.”

The resolution passed unanimously.

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Archbishop of El Salvador calls to vote for life in coming elections

San Salvador, El Salvador, Nov 21, 2003 (CNA) - The Archbishop Fernando Sáenz Lacalle of San Salvador, El Salvador, is calling on Salvadorans to cast their votes in the coming March 2004 elections, giving special attention to the issue of respect for life. 

Archbishop Sáenz said Salvadorans should elect a successor to Francisco Flores “who has firm dedication to the respect for human life, with no exceptions.” 

Likewise he suggested the platforms of the different political parties be evaluated for “the treatment they give to the family, upon which the well-being of society depends,” and to human rights, “beginning with the right to work, upon which everything else depends.” 

The Archbishop indicated the presidential candidates should inform the public of their proposals in the areas of health and education, which “are fundamental and should be guaranteed throughout the country.” 

“Obviously these are the most important measures with which to judge the platforms of the political parties.  Each of us can have his or her preferences, but with our vote we can all defend a more just society if we take into account these most fundamental issues,” he said.

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Archbishop of San Antonio warns Catholics of Costa Rican cult

, Nov 21, 2003 (CNA) - Archbishop Patrick Flores of San Antonio is urging Catholics to stay away from Costa Rican cult in which a former San Antonio priest has taken refuge, reported the Houston Chronicle.

Three Costa Rican bishops have also denounced the Reina y Señora de Todo lo Creado (The Queen and Lady of All Creation). The bishops are suspicions concerning the validity of the apparitions, the irregularities involving the Blessed Sacrament and the unauthorized celebration of the sacraments by those who do not have the authority of the local bishop.

The group, which has ties to San Antonio, is centered around Juan Pablo Delgado, 24, who claims to receive messages from the Virgin Mary. It has a reputation for violence in Costa Rica, and its members are reportedly preparing for the end of the world in late December, said the newspaper.

Fr. Alfredo Prado, former Oblate and pastor joined the group in Costa Rica earlier this year and became the group's chief celebrant. The 73-year-old, who served in San Antonio, was stripped of his clerical authority in 1991 after disagreements over theology and allegations of sexual abuse – a charge he denies. Recently, the Oblate Fathers served final notice on Prado that he is being removed from the priesthood altogether, reported the Houston Chronicle.

The archbishop’s statement did not refer to Prado by name but it mentioned the preist's presence and his celebration of mass and other sacraments at the cult's sanctuary in San Isidro de Grecia, near San José.

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Lay dissident group remains banned from Boston Archdiocese

Boston, Mass., Nov 21, 2003 (CNA) - Despite a "positive" first meeting with Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, new Voice of the Faithful chapters are still banned from archdiocesan parishes, a spokesperson from the Archdiocese of Denver said.

Jim Post, leader of the Catholic lay reform group, met O'Malley and other Church officials Nov. 19 to discuss the ban.

Newly formed Voice of the Faithful chapters have been barred from church property since October 2002 after a decision by O'Malley's predecessor, Bernard Cardinal Law.

O'Malley did not comment on the meeting. However, archdiocesan spokesman Fr. Christopher Coyne, described the discussions as “issues within the family that need to be resolved.”

“Everybody kept talking about moving forward, moving toward healing,” he said.

Post confirmed that O'Malley will release an audit of the archdiocese's compliance with child safety guidelines, most likely in January.

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