Archive of January 15, 2004

Pope urges to fight violence promoting family

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II condemned this morning terrorism and said that if the society wants to defeat violence, it must promote family “as a natural society based on marriage.”

The Holy Father spoke at a meeting with the administrators of the Italian region of Lazio, and the city and province of Rome who arrived at the Vatican for the traditional exchange of New Year's greetings.

In his talk to the elected officials the Pope noted that “conflicts and tensions must be overcome together: It is necessary to fight together against terrorism which, sadly, also concerns this beloved city of ours."

Overcoming violence, stated John Paul II, can be done by building "a civilization of love. And how can we not think of the family as the most important place to realize this civilization of love?”

“The family –he added- represents the human space in which the person, from the very start of his existence, can feel the warmth of affection and grow in a harmonious way. Precisely for this reason we must salute political and administrative choices aimed at supporting the family nucleus, seen as a 'natural society based on marriage'”.

The Pope said that “the difficulties that mark the current world situation are also felt in this land of ours. Difficult moments are, however, those in which the positive energies of a population and its representatives can and  must more clearly emerge."

He added that "the contribution of each person is indispensable in building a more just and fraternal society.”

The Holy Father directed their attention to the "concrete interventions" needed in many sectors of society, especially for those people "in situations of acute need, the elderly who live alone, young people who have been abandoned, the weaker parts of society such as immigrants, and young people." He assured them that "parishes, religious communities, Catholic institutions and volunteers will continue to offer their capillary contribution."

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Boston archdiocese to offer special training on how to reach out to victims of clergy sexual abuse

Boston, Mass., Jan 15, 2004 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Boston will begin to offer special training to help parish priests effectively reach out to victims of clergy sex abuse. Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley made the announcement to a crowd of 150 mental health professionals at a conference at Boston College yesterday.

The archbishop said victims of abuse would still need counseling after they've received their financial settlement from the Church.

Archbishop O'Malley, who has made it his priority to meet with many sex-abuse victims since he was appointed archbishop of Boston last summer, said many victims have expressed feelings of shame to him. He said many came from religious families. He added that many also sought help in their parishes, but priests were not equipped to help them.

The all-day conference was co-sponsored by the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work and the Boston Archdiocese's Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach.

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Gibson 'Passion' to open on 2,000 screens

Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 15, 2004 (CNA) - Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of Christ," will be released on almost 2,000 screens in the United States next month.

Due to the controversy surrounding the film and the accusations that the film is anti-Semitic, Gibson’s Icon Productions first had difficulty finding a distributor.

But a deal was finally reached in October with Newmarket Films, a company that specializes in independent movies. Icon and Newmarket agreed to co-distribute the film and release it on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 25). The 2,000-screen release is similar to what a major studio release would receive.

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Debaters gives up chance to win tournament based on faith and morals

Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 15, 2004 (CNA) - A Christian college debate team gave up their chance to win a tournament based on their religious beliefs and principles. 

In a recent tournament, the California Baptist University debate team was asked to argue for the reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ban of partial-birth abortions, a bill, which President George W. Bush recently signed. But the debate team concluded that they could not argue the topic, based on their moral principles.

"It's not like theater where you role-play and distance yourself from your morals," Mary Pryfogle, 20, captain of the CBU team, told Baptist Press. “We've debated other moral issues that were not as heavy, but Scripture is very clear on this."

Several members of other debate teams and one of the tournament judges congratulated the students for their stance, the news service reported. However, team members said they were surprised Christians from other teams at the tournament decided to go ahead with the partial-birth abortion topic.

"It was very admirable," John Pate, chairman of the CBU communication department, told the news service. "They had other students coming up to them all day long telling them they did a good job. There was a win within a loss. More people noticed their stand for losing rather than winning.”

Matt Taylor, host of the December debate tournament at Cal State Long Beach, said he had never seen anyone forfeit a debate before.

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Archbishop of Montreal defends new HIV screening for seminary applicants

Montreal, Canada, Jan 15, 2004 () - Candidates for the priesthood would not be rejected based on their sexual orientation or the result of a positive HIV test, said Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte at a packed pressed conference Jan. 12 at the archdiocesan center.

The archbishop of Montreal called the press conference to clarify a report, published two days earlier in the local press, that the Grand Seminary of Montreal will screen seminary applicants for HIV, beginning this fall.

In the report, seminary rector Fr. Marcel Demers suggested that the test helped to assess whether an applicant would be able to live a chaste, celibate life, as required of seminarians and priests.

However, at the press conference Cardinal Turcotte underlined that the medical exam is conducted to assure an applicant’s state of health.

A medical exam has always been required from seminary applicants, explained the cardinal. When the criteria for admission were reassessed last spring, it was decided to “adjust the criteria tot he reality of society” and request that prospective candidates undergo a HIV test as part of the medical examination.

Candidates to the priesthood are generally older now, explained the cardinal. The average age of seminarians in 38. Many have had sexual relationships; some have even been married.

If a candidate has HIV, added the cardinal, he must discern, along with diocesan officials, the impact the virus may have on his life as a priest. But it would not necessarily mean that the candidate would be refused entrance tot he seminary, Turcotte emphasized. The same procedure applies regarding the presence of other serious illnesses, life cancer or degenerative diseases, said the cardinal.

“If an illness is present, it will have an important influence on the candidate’s choice in life. We have to examine that carefully,” he said. “The priesthood is not a job, it’s a state of life. It’s an entire life project.”

The cardinal insisted that the HIV test was not being done to determine the sexual orientation of the candidate. “For me, the criteria is not about the man’s sexual orientation,” he said. “It’s how they live their celibacy that’s important,” he insisted.

The Archdiocese of Montreal is not the first to implement such a policy. In Canada, the dioceses of Edmonton and Vancouver also require a test for HIV. As well, many diocese in the United States and Africa require it, said the cardinal.

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Catholic Charities in Chile to take up national collection for Iranians

Santiago, Chile, Jan 15, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic Charities in Chile will launch this Sunday a national collection in all the parishes of the country in benefit of the victims of last December’s earthquake, which took place in near the city of Bam.  The quake caused 50,000 deaths and destroyed 70% of the city’s structures.

According to Catholic Charities in Chile, more than 100,000 people need food, clothing and medicine, and more than 2,000 children lost both parents.  Those who lost their homes are also suffering from the winter cold, with temperatures dropping below 42°F.

Those wishing to make donations can send deposits to the Banco de Chile, account number 000-00117-01.  The collection will be sent to the Iranian Bishops Conference on January 30.

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Pope tells visitors: “I love you, too.”

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2004 (CNA) - During this week’s general audience, Pope John Paul II departed from his prepared speech in response to a group of Italian visitors who shouted, “We love you,” saying, “I love you, too.”

The spontaneous remarks were taken by many to be an indication of improving health for the 83 year-old Pontiff.

“We love you…I love you, too,” said a smiling Pope during the audience.

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Archbishop warns of “crusade against the faith” by atheists in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jan 15, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Domingo Castagna of Corrientes, Argentina, is warning that militant atheism “has theoretically and practically infected a growing number of Argentineans.”

In the midst of the controversy caused by the nomination to the Supreme Court of an atheist and pro-abortion judge, Archbishop Castagna said the lack of belief “is for some a crusade against the faith, Catholic or otherwise.  For others, the great majority, it is manifested in apparent indifference, even with some religious formality, but without any significant existential aspect.”

In today’s society, “profoundly affected by irresponsibility and hypocrisy,” there is a contradiction: “the innocent become the penitents and the guilty declare themselves free of faults and, with presumptuous moral authority, pass judgment on others,” the Archbishop added.

Likewise, he continued, significant numbers of the baptized do not practice their faith or are in complete opposition to its demands.  “It is absurd that the baptized support abortion, divorce, same-sex unions, torture, the death penalty, and racial, religious or ideological discrimination.  It is incomprehensible that the baptized engage in pedophilia, drug trafficking and prostitution,” denounced the Archbishop.

“We could come up with a macabre list of true crimes committed in a large measure by the baptized,” Archbishop Castagna said.  “They are the way they are despite baptism.”  He said the recovery of a “baptismal conscience is the necessary step toward recovering the values that baptism encompasses.  In order to achieve this, the Church must renew her evangelical action to awaken a baptismal conscience that has been lost or never obtained.”

Finally the Archbishop said that “the transparency demanded by a society that is fed up with hypocrisy, corruption, and deceit, involves every one of the baptized.  People do not ask infallibility of our leaders, but rather honesty and the capacity to serve.  They are forgiving of involuntary mistakes when leaders are humbly open to dialogue and are willing to respond to their complaints.”

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