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Archive of November 27, 2003

Vatican confirms “brief courtesy visit” by the Dalai Lama to the Pope

Vatican City, Nov 27, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II met on Thursday with the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, despite the meeting was not listed in the official papal audiences of the day.

Explaining why the meeting was not in the official list - which included, among others, Georgi Parvanov, president of the Republic of Bulgaria, - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office said: “It was a brief courtesy visit in which exclusively religious topics were discussed.”

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Pope encourages Bulgarian people to keep faith, culture of life

Vatican City, Nov 27, 2003 (CNA) - During an audience on Thursday with Georgi Parvanov, president of the Republic of Bulgaria, Pope John Paul II encouraged Bulgarians to keep building a new society based on spiritual values. 

Recalling his apostolic trip in May of 2002, the Pontiff said that “I noted the firm goal of building up the country with new-found serenity and faith in the future, from within the great European house.”

 “The cordial meeting with civil authorities of every order and rank convinced me of everyone’s determination to continue courageously to peacefully build up the whole society, without being afraid of confronting the day to day challenges.”

John Paul II then spoke about the “venerated patriarch Maxim, head of the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria,” who, he recalled, “during my visit welcomed me into his home with fraternal affection.  It was a further step of progressive growth in ecclesial communion.” 

“In this way, I was able to verify that Europe expects the common commitment of Catholics and Orthodox in defense of human rights and the culture of life,” he added.

 “I saw the same sentiments of openness to dialogue and collaboration in the small but fervent Catholic community that is actively committed to bearing witness to Christ in Bulgaria in constant cooperation with other religious communities in the country.  It is my fervent hope that this climate of understanding may grow for the sake of  reciprocal understanding and the good of society,” he concluded.

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Archdiocese of Mexico: “Catholics for a Free Choice” are not Catholic

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 27, 2003 (CNA) - In the latest edition of its weekly newspaper, the Archdiocese of Mexico rejected any connection with the organization “Catholics for a Free Choice” and clarified that the association is not part of the Catholic Church because of its support for the legalization of abortion, among other things.

The weekly paper, edited by Father Hugo Valdomero, questioned the origins of the group, as well as its purpose and its dissemination.  “It should surprise us to see a new “Catholic” group promoting the right to use or consume some type of drug and that, based on polling data, decides to legalize the use of narcotics,” the text said.

“It would be interesting to know what ‘Catholics for a Free Choice’ intends to do:  Reject Church authority? Do away with it?  There are many questions to be answered.  Who supports them?  Why ‘Catholics’ and not some other religion or sect?” questions the paper. 

The Archdiocesan paper added, “The Church respects mankind, and makes known her norms.  Man decides if he will follow them or not, it’s his choice: the path he chooses is his decision.”

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Catholic organization promotes justice “in every cup of coffee” 

, Nov 27, 2003 (CNA) - Catholic Relief Services has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of unfair coffee-trade practices and promote the consumption of fair-trade coffee bought at living-wage prices by directly marketing it to the 65 million Catholics in the United States.

CRS Coffee Project, which aims at supporting struggling coffee farmers around the world, was launched Nov. 25. The CRS project also plans to help farmers diversify their crops and begin growing high-quality coffee.

The campaign also gives U.S. Catholics the opportunity to live out their faith, which calls them to learn about the injustices that exist in the world, actively work for justice and support the poor. One way U.S. Catholics can do this, says CRS, is to purchase fair-trade coffee.

“Starting your day with a cup of fair trade coffee is a simple way to have a direct, substantial impact on the lives of small-scale coffee farmers," said Joan Neal, CRS deputy executive director for U.S. Operations.

In recent years, overproduction of low-grade coffee caused a plummet in prices on the world market. Coffee fell from a high of $1.40 per pound in 1999 to a low of just 45 cents in 2001. Many farmers have reported receiving as little as 15 to 20 cents per pound of coffee.

The crisis – the worst in 30 years – has had devastating results. Entire crops were left to rot on coffee bushes in Kenya and Guatemala; 30,000 farm jobs were slashed just before El Salvador's harvest season; farms held for generations in Nicaragua were abandoned or sold and families moved to urban shantytowns in search of work.

Nicaragua, for example, historically produced 200 million pounds of coffee annually. But over the past two years the levels of production dove to an estimated 70 million pounds this year.

Fairly traded coffee helps offset some of the devastation by paying a guaranteed minimum price for coffee purchased directly from the farmers – $1.26 per pound of conventionally grown coffee and $1.41 per pound for organic.

The fair-trade coffee marketed by CRS will be sold primarily through parishes that participate in the program. The coffee will be supplied through the Interfaith Coffee Program of Equal Exchange Inc., a Massachusetts-based fair-trade company.

Companies like Equal Exchange purchase directly from farmers, cutting out several layers of middlemen who would otherwise take a cut. As a result, Equal Exchange paid more than $1.5 million to small-scale farmers in above-market premiums last year. That's income farmers would never have received otherwise.

More than 7,000 places of worship across all denominations have participated in Equal Exchange's Interfaith Coffee Program. Last year, those communities purchased more than 118 tons of fair-traded coffee.

A percentage of every package of fair-trade coffee sold will go back to the farmers through the CRS Small Farmer Fund, a resource that supports agriculture and long-term development.

For more information on the project, e-mail: [email protected].

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Conservative Anglicans in Australia are seeking for alternative leadership

Sydney, Australia, Nov 27, 2003 (CNA) - The head of Australia's largest Anglican diocese has suggested that Anglicans, including himself, could seek alternative spiritual leadership, reported Catholic News Service Nov. 24.

Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen’s comment was motivated by his disagreement with the recent consecration of openly gay clergyman Gene Robinson as bishop in the Episcopal Church of the U.S., and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s response to the controversy.

Jensen said the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams disfavors Robinson’s consecration because of the disunity that has been caused in the Anglican church. But Jenson would have hoped the Anglican spiritual leader “would speak against it because it's wrong in itself," he said, reported CNS.

In the past, Jensen has said that two distinct "Anglicanisms" could develop as a result of the disagreement regarding homosexuality in the church. However, this time he proposed that  “it was conceivable that a diocese like Sydney, finding more in common with the global south churches than those in the West, could look for alternative leadership to that provides by Canterbury,” said CNS.

The strongest opposition to Robinson’s consecration comes from developing nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where the Anglican church is experiencing the greatest growth.

Jensen named Nigeria, which is home to almost 20 million Anglicans, as an alternative leadership. The Nigerian church decided last week to sever ties with the U.S. Episcopal Church.

However, Jensen hasn’t committed to alternative leadership yet. According to CNS, he said the move depends on "what Canterbury does" in the time ahead.

Australia’s liberal Anglican primate, Archbishop Peter Carnley of Perth, has played down the possibility of a split, and has not ruled out the possibility of homosexual ordination in Australia.

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Church and Civil organizations in Mexico protest law that mandates condom distribution

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 27, 2003 (CNA) - The Catholic Church and other civil groups are protesting against a new health law aimed at preventing AIDS and which officially promotes the use of condoms and mandates their distribution in hotels.

Bishop Jesús González Marines of the Diocese of Tabasco explained that the new norms encourage promiscuity and are based on misinformation.  “The way to stop AIDS is to provide people a proper education and formation so that they are responsible with their sexuality.  For us, therefore, encouraging the use of condoms promotes promiscuity and abuse in all kinds of relationships,” he said.

Bishop González questioned the new health laws asking, “What’s the reason for this consumerist and money-driven propaganda for something that is not going to solve the problem?”

Likewise, the Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels said the obligation to provide condoms in hotels would lead to immorality.

Gilda Díaz Rodríguez, President of the Association, rejected the inclusion of condoms in the package of personal hygiene items provided in hotel rooms.  “Of course couples, some recently married, some not, come to hotels, but so do children and so I don’t think it is very prudent to have something like that” in the room, said Díaz, adding, “I think its just another step closer to immorality in hotels.”

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Catholic Americans in Rome gather for Thanksgiving

Vatican City, Nov 27, 2003 (CNA) - Hundreds of US Catholics gathered  at St. Susanna Church in Rome to participate at a Mass presided  by Archbishop John P. Foley.

Archbishop Foley, who is President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, delivered the homily in the historical Church,  the North American parish in the Italian capital city.

On Friday, November 28 the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications will speak during a press conference on the presentation of the seventh edition of the Congress of Studies on Spiritual Film, organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture which will take place in the Vatican.

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