Archive of December 22, 2003

Vatican announces new saints and blessed, including an Emperor and  “martyr of life”

Vatican City, Dec 22, 2003 (CNA) - Last Saturday, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, President of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, announced in the presence of Pope John Paul, the decrees recognizing the miracles of four future saints and seven blessed, among them the “martyr of life,” Gianna Bereta Molla, and Austrian Emperor Charles I, after whom Pope John Paul was christened “Karol” (Charles.)

The decrees confirm the miracles that will bring to sainthood four blessed:

- Blessed Jose Manyanet y Vives, Spanish, priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sons and Daughters of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (1833-1901). Fr. Manyanet inspired famous architect Antonio Gaudí to build the colossal, still unconcluded, temple of the Holy Family, one of the wonders of modern architecture.

- Blessed Nimatullah Al-Hardini, Lebanese, ne Yusuf Kassab, priest of the Lebanese Maronite Order (1808-1858.) Fr. Al-Hardini was the professor of the most famous Maronite saint, St. Charbel Maklouf.

- Blessed Paola Elisabetta, Italian, born Costanza Cerioli, widow and foundress of the Holy Family Institute and the Congregation of the Holy Family (1816-1865).

- Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian mother (1922-1962). Gianna accepted death at age 39 rather than submit to treatment that would result in the abortion of her unborn child.  The miracle attributed to Gianna Beretta's intercession was experienced by a Brazilian woman in early 2000, whose unborn child was saved despite losing all her amniotic fluid. The baby girl was born healthy and christened Gianna Maria.

The seven servants of God to be beatified upon the confirmation of miracles are:

- Venerable Servant of God August Czartoryski, French, priest of the Society of St. John Bosco (1858-1893).

- Venerable Servant of God Maria Guadalupe, Mexican, born Anastasia Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, cofoundress of the Congregation of the Servants of St. Margaret Mary of the Poor (1878-1963).

- Venerable Servant of God Nemesia Valle, Italian, born Giulia, religious of the Institute of Charity (1847-1916).

- Venerable Servant of God Eusebia Palomino Yenes, Spanish, religious of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary, Helper (1899-1935).

- Venerable Servant of God Ludovica de Angelis, Italian, born Antonina, religious of the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mercy (1880-1962).

- Venerable Servant of God Alesandrina Maria da Costa, Portuguese, lay member of the Union of Salesian Cooperators (1904-1955).

- Venerable Servant of God Carl of Austria, Austrian, emperor and king (1887-1922). Charles Hapsburg, ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was proclaimed Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary in 1916.  Five years earlier he married Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma with whom he had eight children.  When the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell on Nov. 11, 1918, Charles abdicated.  He left Austria in March, 1919, and spent his exile on the Portuguese island of Madeira, where he died in 1922 at age 34.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins also announced the heroic virtues of seven other candidates for beatification, including German Cardinal Clemente Augusto von Galen, bishop of Munster (1878-1946,) a harsh critic of Nazism and Racism.

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Following Mary’s humility an excellent way to prepare for Christmas, Pope says

Vatican City, Dec 22, 2003 (CNA) - Pope John Paul said on Sunday, during the Angelus prayer, that the proximity of Christmas highlights the figure of Mary as a model to prepare human hearts for the coming of the Lord.

The Pontiff noted that “Christmas is now very close. As we put the final touches on the nativity scene and Christmas tree here in St. Peter's Square, we must also prepare our soul to live intensely this great mystery of faith."

“In these final days of Advent,” the Pope said, “the liturgy places special emphasis on the figure of Mary.  The Incarnation of the Redeemer began in her heart with her ‘here I am’ full of faith, in answer to the divine call. If we wish to understand the true meaning of Christmas, it is thus to her that we must look, her that we must invoke.”

He explained in conclusion that “Mary, mother par excellence, helps us to understand the key words of the mystery of the birth of her divine Son: humility, silence, stupor, joy. She exhorts us above all to humility, so that God can find room in our hearts, not darkened by pride or arrogance.”

“She points us to the value of silence, of knowing how to listen to the song of the angels and the crying of the Child, not suffocating them in noise and confusion,” said the Pope. “Together with her, we pause in front of the nativity scene with stupor, tasting the joy, simple and pure, that that Child brought to all of mankind.”

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May Christ be always at the center of our lives, Pope tells Roman curia

Vatican City, Dec 22, 2003 (CNA) - During the traditional Christmas gathering with cardinals, archbishops, bishops and members of the Roman Curia, Pope John Paul recalled this Monday that Christ should be at the center of their lives as a way to give a faithful witness to the world.

At the beginning of his speech, the Pope recalled that the first gathering with members of the Curia took place exactly twenty-five years ago on December 22, 1978, and he thanked them for the service they render to the Successor of Peter.

“The purpose that moves us is the same: to announce the Gospel of Christ for the salvation of the world.  It is a mission that we want to carry out with a spirit of faith and with our soul ready for sacrifice, if necessary, even to the 'passio sanguinis' (shedding of blood.) May we never fail to be faithful to the One Who has linked us intimately to His priesthood!  May He and only He always be at the center of our life: Christ!  With the passage of the years, I am more and more convinced that Jesus asks us to be His witnesses, concerned solely about His glory and the well-being of souls.”

John Paul II emphasized that the “awareness of Christ's desire for unity among believers - 'ut unum sint' (‘may they be one’)- has moved me to intensify ecumenical contacts with representatives of the venerated Orthodox Churches, with the primate of the Anglican Communion and leaders of the other ecclesial Churches and communities.”

Referring then to Europe, the Holy Father emphasized that it continues to live through “a crucial phase in its history, while it expands its borders to other peoples and nations.  It is important that Europe, enriched throughout the centuries with the treasure of the Christian faith, confirm these origins and revive these roots. The most important contribution that Christians are called to give to the building of the new Europe is above all that of its faithfulness to Christ and to the Gospel.”

“Europe,” he continued, “needs, in the first place, saints and witnesses.”

In this sense, he recalled Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “icon of the good Samaritan who has become for everyone, believers and non-believers alike, a messenger of love and peace.”

The Pope told them “to be witnesses; teach peace! This is another commitment, so urgent in our time, which sees risks and threats on the horizon, for the peaceful co-existence of humanity.  Peace is still possible today and it is a duty.  I wanted to repeat this in my Message for the upcoming World Day of Peace.”

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Most Americans support ban on gay “marriage,” NYT reveals

, Dec 22, 2003 (CNA) - The latest New York Times/CBS News poll has found widespread support for an amendment to the United States Constitution to ban gay marriage, revealed the New York Times on December 20.

In the article, the NYT reveals that support for a constitutional amendment “extends across a wide swath of the public and includes a majority of people traditionally viewed as supportive of gay rights, including Democrats, women and people who live on the East Coast.”

It also found “unease about homosexual relations in general, making the issue a potentially divisive one for the Democrats and an opportunity for the Republicans in the 2004 election.”

According to the poll, for 53 percent of Americans, marriage is largely a religious matter, and 71 percent of those people oppose gay marriage.  Only 33 percent of Americans say marriage is largely “a legal matter” and a slight majority of those people — 55 percent — say they support gay “marriage.”

The NYT nationwide poll found that 55 percent of Americans favored an amendment to the constitution that would allow marriage only between a man and a woman, while 40 percent opposed the idea.

The poll found that by a 61-34 margin, Americans oppose gay marriage. They are slightly more accepting of civil unions to give gays some of the same legal rights as married couples, with 54 percent opposed to civil unions and 39 percent supportive.

The Times/CBS News poll was conducted from Dec. 10 through Dec. 13 in telephone interviews with 1,057 people.

“This poll and other surveys show that as the courts have extended legal rights to gays this year, Americans have become increasingly uncomfortable with same-sex relations,” says the article.

“Even in an age when gay couples are routinely portrayed on television and constitute a prosperous demographic that advertisers have been overtly appealing to, the Times/CBS News poll found the country still sharply divided over homosexuality,” the NYT concedes.

“Half of the respondents said they viewed homosexual relations between adults as morally wrong. Moreover, an overwhelming majority, 87 percent, said they thought most people would not accept having same-sex couples married within their church, synagogue or place of worship. Sixty percent said they themselves would not accept such unions in their own places of worship,” the article also says.

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New bishop to unify Diocese of Phoenix

Phoenix, Ariz., Dec 22, 2003 (CNA) - God’s love "forces us to face the scandal of child abuse squarely and to combat it with honesty and determination," said Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in his homily during his installation as the fourth Catholic bishop of Phoenix Dec. 20.

"No disgrace that we suffer, no sorrow or humiliation that we endure, nothing can separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus,” he told a crowd of more than 1,200 people at SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral, according to a report by the Arizona Republic.

"All we need to do is to open the door of our heart to Christ. He does the rest. He comes with his mercy. He reconciles us with the father and with one another. He restores our dignity and gives us fresh hope," he was quoted as saying.

Bishop Olmsted served the Diocese of Wichita before being appointed to the Diocese of Pheonix Nov. 25. He succeeds Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien, who resigned in June after he was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal auto accident.

Among those attending the installation were Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles.

"Bishop Olmsted will be a unifying grace for this diocese," Cardinal Mahony told the Arizona Republic.

In his homily, Bishop Olmsted also said God “gives us the grace to reach out in solidarity and service of others, to serve the most vulnerable and forgotten, to strengthen the weak in faith and the weak in mind or body, and to bring glad tidings to the poor."

The newspaper reported that outside the cathedral, people gathered with signs reading, "We love orthodox bishops", "Welcome Bishop Olmsted, now clean house" and "The chancery leadership is full of dissidents."

The Arizona Republic also reported that several members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests were among the invited guests. Paul Pfaffenberger, who leads the local chapter, said afterward that he found Olmsted's words "very encouraging."

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Being called by Christ ‘entails great risk’: Bishop Olmstead

Phoenix, Ariz., Dec 22, 2003 (CNA) - The lives of priests and bishops entail great risk for they are placed in the middle of the most important struggles of human life, said Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, the new bishop of the Diocese of Pheonix, in his first meeting with the priests of the diocese Dec. 19.

“It is not safe in worldly terms to be called by Christ to close communion with him and to be sent out in His name,” he said. “It is a great privilege; it is an undeserved honor; it is a blessing beyond all blessings; but it also entails great risk.

“It is not safe to make Christ the center of our life. He places us who are priests and bishops in the middle of the most important struggles of human life. … He arms us for battle against the evil one, giving us not the power of guns or smart bombs but the power of his mercy and the example of his humility,” he continued.

He recognized the challenges priests and bishops face in the shadow of scandals, “harsh criticism, ridicule and close scrutiny.”

In order to be effective ministers of the word, he continued, priests and bishops must receive ongoing formation and be disciplined about taking time for study and reflection. Enough time must be set aside for careful preparation of talks and homilies, as well. “Few things are as important as solid preaching and faithful teaching, and few require more work,” he said.

“Above all, we need to trust the truth and conform our lives to the truth,” he said.

Priests and bishops are the “principal guardians and dispensers of the sacraments of the Church,” he said. “It is a great privilege to offer the sacraments to our people, especially the Sacrament of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.”

The bishop told his priests that he has been deeply influenced by Pope John Paul II and that they should keep in mind three of the Pope’s favorite words: Be not afraid. “Let us trust Him and serve Him with generous joyful hearts,” he said.

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EWTN expands to satellite radio

, Dec 22, 2003 (CNA) - EWTN Global Catholic Network has signed agreements with SIRIUS Satellite Radio for the carriage of its 24-hour English and Spanish radio programming beginning in January.

Michael Warsaw, the network's president, said an agreement has been reached to make EWTN available to SIRIUS subscribers anywhere in the United States. This move enables EWTN to greatly expand its audience base. SIRIUS is the only satellite radio service to offer 60 streams of commercial-free music and more than 40 selections of sports, news, and entertainment.

"We are delighted to be the first Catholic programmer to be included in a U.S. satellite radio service," said Warsaw. "This new digital technology will enable people across the country … to have access to EWTN's radio programming."

EWTN began its English and Spanish short wave radio services in 1992.  Four years later, using the satellite reach of its television network, EWTN's radio service was made available to AM & FM radio stations around the world.

EWTN Global Catholic Radio offers listeners live call-in talk shows, teaching series, daily devotions, Church events and music in English and Spanish.

EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 22nd year, is available in English and Spanish in more than 85 million television households in 110 countries. EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world. It includes short wave radio network, satellite-delivered radio station, Internet site ( and publishing arm.

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'Gospel is not for sale': Ugandan Anglicans on gay ordination

, Dec 22, 2003 (CNA) - The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not for sale. That was the firm and unmoveable response of the Anglican Church of Uganda after the U.S. Episcopalian Church said it planned to send a delegation and financial aid to the installation of an Anglican bishop in Uganda.

The Anglican Church of Uganda cut off all ties with the Episcopalian Church in the U.S. after if officially recognized same-sex unions and consecrated openly homosexual Gene Robinson as the Bishop of New Hampshire Diocese two months ago.

"Recent comments by your staff suggesting that your proposed visit demonstrates that normal relations with the Church of Uganda continue, have made your message clear: If we fall silent about what you have done promoting unbiblical sexual immorality and we overturn or ignore the decision to declare a severing of relationship with ECUSA, poor displaced persons will receive aid," said the letter. "Here is our response: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not for sale, even among the poorest of us who have no money. Eternal life, obedience to Jesus Christ, and conforming to His Word are more important."

The letter was addressed to Bishop Frank Griswold and dated Dec.16. It was signed by Canon Stanley Ntagali, the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda, and Anglican Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi.Nkoyoyo of Uganda.

The Ugandan bishops said they were "shocked to receive a letter" of the U.S. Episcopalian Church decision to send a delegation and "to bring aid and assistance for the people who live in desperate conditions in the camps in Gulu that you have ignored for years.

"The Word of God is clear that you have chosen a course of separation that leads to spiritual destruction. Because we love you, we cannot let that go unanswered. If your hearts remain hardened to what the Bible clearly teaches, and your ears remain deaf to the cries of other Christians, genuine love demands that we do not pretend that everything is normal," said the letter.

"As a result any delegation you send cannot be welcomed, received, or seated. Neither can we share fellowship or even receive desperately needed resources. If, however, you repent and return to the Lord, it would be an occasion of great joy."

The Ugandan bishops indicated their joy in welcoming delegations from churches with which their relationship remains steadfast. They also restated their commitment to break ties with other churches in the Anglican Communion that decide to recognize same-sex unions or the ordination of openly homosexual bishops.

For the full letter, go to:

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