Archive of December 16, 2003

In document also addressed to terrorists, Pope calls for reform of the UN

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2003 (CNA) - In his Message for World Day of Peace, celebrated each year on January 1st, Pope John Paul II called for a reform of the United Nations in order to prevent the rule of the most powerful.

The message, entitled “An Ever Timely Commitment: Teaching Peace,” was made public on Tuesday by Cardinal Renato R. Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and has been published in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese.

For the first time the Pontiff addressed the message not only to the “Leaders of the nations”, jurists and teachers of the youth, but also  “to you too, men and women tempted to turn to the unacceptable means of terrorism and thus compromise at its root the very cause for which you are fighting!”

According to Cardinal Martino, the Pope considers “the institution of the United Nations one of the most relevant fruits of international law, after the tragedy of World War II, whose objective is ‘the prohibition of resorting to force’ even with two exceptions: ‘the natural law of legitimate defense’ and ‘the system of collective security’.”

 “Due recognition to the U.N.,” continued Cardinal Martino, “is accompanied by an invitation to a ‘reform’ of the organization so that it functions more efficiently in pursuit of its own statuary ends which remain valid.”

In fact, in the document, Pope John Paul repeats the words he said in 1995: “The United Nations Organization needs to rise more and more above the cold status of an administrative institution and to become a moral center where all the nations of the world feel at home and develop a shared awareness of being, as it were, a family of nations.”

Dealing with terrorism The document acknowledges that  “the scourge of terrorism has become more virulent in recent years and has produced brutal massacres.”

“Even so,” he continues, “if it is to be won, the fight against terrorism cannot be limited solely to repressive and punitive operations.”

The Pontiff says that “in the necessary fight against terrorism, international law is now called to develop legal instruments provided with effective means for the prevention, monitoring and suppression of crime. In any event, democratic governments know well that the use of force against terrorists cannot justify a renunciation of the principles of the rule of law.” 

 “International law,” the Pope adds, “must ensure that the law of the more powerful does not prevail. Its essential purpose is to replace ‘the material force of arms with the moral force of law’, providing appropriate sanctions for transgressors and adequate reparation for victims.”

In the document, the Holy Father also stressed the key role of Christian forgiveness and love: “By itself, justice is not enough. Indeed, it can even betray itself, unless it is open to that deeper power which is love.”

“For this reason I have often reminded Christians and all persons of good will that forgiveness is needed for solving the problems of individuals and peoples.”

In the message, the Pope also says: “there is no peace without forgiveness! I say it again here, as my thoughts turn in particular to the continuing crisis in Palestine and the Middle East.”

“Christians know that love is the reason for God's entering into relationship with man.” “Love,” the Pope continues, “is also the loftiest and most noble form of relationship possible between human beings. Love must thus enliven every sector of human life and extend to the international order.”

“Only a humanity in which there reigns the ‘civilization of love’ will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace, the document concludes.”

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Pope appoints well known pro-lifer to key Archdiocese in Italy

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II designated Archbishop Carlo Caffara, a well-known pro-life theologian, to replace Cardinal Giacomo Biffi as Archbishop of the northern Italian diocese of Bologna.

The Archbishop-designate was born in Busseto on June 1st 1938; and was ordained priest on July 2nd, 1961. He obtained a doctorate in Cannon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in Moral Theology at the Pontifical Academy Alphonsianum, also in Rome.

He became a professor of Moral theology at the seminaries of Fidenza, Parma, Bologna, and later, at the Catholic University of Milan.

In his many articles, essays and books, he focuses in the moral theology of marriage, bioethics and human procreation. Thus, he became professor of Medical ethics at the Medical School of Catholic University of “Sacro Cuore” in Rome.

In 1974 Pope Paul VI appointed him a member of the International Theological Commission and later he became a consultant for the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

During the 70’s the Italian government appointed him member of a Commission to study the moral aspects of genetic engineering.

In 1980, Pope John Paul II appointed him the first President of the Pontifical Institute “John Paul II for the Study of Marriage and Family.”

During his tenure, the Archbishop-designate developed the “Theology of the Body” of Pope John Paul, and founded branches of the institute in the US, Spain and Mexico.

On September 8, 1995, the Holy Father appointed him Archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio.

He remains a member of the Presidency of both the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Academy for Life.

As Archbishop of Bologna, Carlo Caffara will probably become a Cardinal, as did all his recent predecessors.

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Millions of Canadians unable to recognize same-sex marriage, says interfaith coalition

Ottawa, Canada, Dec 16, 2003 (CNA) - An interfaith coalition, which includes the Catholic Civil Rights League, has requested intervenor status in the upcoming deliberations of the Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage draft legislation. The coalition says that changing the definition of marriage will have “a profound impact on clergy and religious institutions,” reported Canadian Catholic News.

The Interfaith Coalition for Marriage and Family said clergy in many denominations and religions are unable and unwilling to solemnize same-sex unions. As well, “millions of Canadians, represented by the Interfaith Coalition, by their religious principles, are unable to recognize same-sex unions as marriages,” it added.

The legislation will have “profound legal and social ramifications,” it said. “Just as the liberalization of divorce law had a profound and unanticipated effect on these communities, the proposed change to marriage can be expected to have as yet uncertain and unanticipated effects upon the wider culture and upon these religious communities,” said the coalition.

The Interfaith Coalition for Marriage and Family also includes the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Islamic Society of North America.

The Catholic Civil Rights League and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada have also teamed up to appeal the Quebec Superior Court’s ruling to redefine marriage. The case will be heard Jan. 26.

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Legislation on same-sex marriage threatens freedom of religion: Ontario bishops

Toronto, Canada, Dec 16, 2003 (CNA) - The Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops (OCCB) is moving full-steam ahead with its campaign in defense of heterosexual marriage. The campaign includes grassroots lobbying of members of Parliament and a request to the Supreme Court of Canada for intervener status in the review process of the government’s same-sex marriage law.

The Ontario bishops’ request for intervener status is separate from that submitted by the national bishops’ conference. Whereas the national conference wants to challenge the constitutionality of the new definition of marriage proposed in the draft legislation, the Ontario bishops want to clarify the rights of the Church if and when same-sex marriage becomes law.

Though many scholars believe Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures that a Catholic priest cannot be taken to court and forced to officiate at a same-sex marriage, there is no case law to support that theory, OCCB lawyer Peter Lauwers told the Catholic Register.

Catholic priests and bishops have refused to marry divorced couples, non-Catholics and others who do not meet the criteria for a Catholic marriage, but a new, more litigious environment in Canada, particularly around same-sex marriage, has the bishops anxious, reported the Catholic Register.

In Canada, marriage is regulated by the federal government but recognized or solemnized by the provincial government. Priests, who officiate at weddings, can do so because of the rights they receive from a bishop and the civil license they receive from the provincial government.

The Toronto Catholic paper explained that legally, “the priest’s civil license makes him a civil servant,” and “under ordinary administrative law, civil servants can be compelled to provide the service they have been licensed or employed to provide.”

But Lauwers said that he does not know of any cases in Canada in which “a court has said that an individual civil servant having a public responsibility, can refuse to perform that function based on personal conscience.”

That said, the lawyer for the Ontario bishops also pointed out that the Ontario Human Rights Code may make it difficult for churches to ban weddings and receptions of same-sex couples from churches or church halls. It is also illegal on Ontario to deny people the use of property or services, normally offered to the public, based on religious belief, he explained.

Lauwers explained that part of the problem is that it is more difficult for the courts to recognize group rights than individual rights.

“[The law] does not understand freedom of religion in a hierarchical church, which goes well beyond an individual conscience, and goes into the rights of the religious organization,” Lauwers told the Toronto archdiocesan newspaper. It’s not a matter of individual conscience, he saud. “It’s the magisterium that decides who can or cannot be married in a Catholic Church.”

The Ontario bishops are also preparing for a national ecumenical campaign on marriage in Canada, from Feb. 6 to 15, called Marriage on the Rock. The week is meant to raise awareness and support for traditional marriage in Canada. 

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University students in Chile take part in Christmas outreach to the poor

Santiago, Chile, Dec 16, 2003 (CNA) - The campus ministry office of the Archdiocese of Santiago launched a Christmas campaign this week in order to encourage young people to recognize Christ in the city’s poor and to give them “gifts of love.”

In a press release, the office explained that with the project “we wish to turn our city into a table open to all and willing to welcome all of the stories and experiences which are intertwined during Christmas.”

The initiative of solidarity will begin on December 24, at 7:00pm in the evening, with a commissioning ceremony, celebrated by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, Archbishop of Santiago.

Later young people from the different campus ministries of Santiago, together with their families, will go through the streets, subway stations, plazas, bridges and avenues attending to those most in need.

At 11pm the young people will come together for Midnight Mass.

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Cause for Beatification opened for 124 Korean martyrs

Rome, Italy, Dec 16, 2003 (CNA) - This week the Holy See approved the opening of the cause for beatification of Paul Yun Ji-Chung and 123 companions, who were tortured and killed for their faith in 1791, when Christianity was being introduced in Korea.

According the Fides news agency, the announcement was made by the Korean Bishops Committee for Beatification and Canonization, which made public the null osta of the Holy See for the opening of the process.

The Committee has named a panel of experts in history that will serve in a consulting capacity.  The panel will be lead by Andrea Kim Jin-so, director of the Historical Research Center of Honam, Korea.

In 1791, Paul Yun Ji-Chung, a convert to Christianity and member of a Korean noble family, refused to bury his deceased mother according to the traditional rite of Confucianism, which resulted in an investigation by authorities and a persecution of many Christians, which came to be known as the Sin-hae persecution.

Paul Ji-Chung became the first Korean martyr from an upper class family, and many other nobles who joined him also were exiled or put to death.  The government declared Christianity to be “an evil cult” that destroyed human relationships and the traditional moral order.

The Catholic community in Korea survived underground until 1895, when freedom of religion was granted.  However this was only after the Church suffered through four great persecutions: Shinyu in 1801 (of which 103 martyrs were canonized in 1984 by the Holy Father); Gyhae in 1839 and Byung-In in 1866.  During this period Church documents estimated around 16,000 Christians were put to death.

Professor Domenico Youn Minku of the Catholic University of Suwon and Postulator of the cause for beatification of the first Korean martyrs, told Fides that “this is the only case in history, in Korea the Catholic Church was introduced spontaneously by Koreans themselves.  The faith was sought after by Korean writers who were familiar with the books on the faith written in Chinese by European missionaries.  The Catholic community in Korea, which resulted from the baptism of a Korean man in 1784, was quickly subject to cruel persecutions.  The faith has flourished nonetheless, and today Korea is one of the most dynamic faith communities in the world.

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