Vatican City, Jan 16, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II says “the official dialogue established between the Catholic Church and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is a sign of great hope.”
The Holy Father welcomed Jona Metzgher and Slomo Amar, Chief Rabbis of Israel, and Oded Wiener, Director General of the Chief Rabbinate, who are in Rome to attend the Concert of Reconciliation that will be performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra tomorrow evening in the Paul VI Hall.
The Pope noted that "in the twenty-five years of my Pontificate I have striven to promote Jewish-Catholic dialogue and to foster ever greater understanding, respect and cooperation between us. Indeed, one of the highlights of my Pontificate will always remain my Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which included intense moments of remembrance, reflection and prayer at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and at the Wailing Wall."
He added that "the official dialogue established between the Catholic Church and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is a sign of great hope. We must spare no effort in working together to build a world of justice, peace and reconciliation for all peoples. May Divine Providence bless our work and crown it with success!"
The concert tomorrow evening is dedicated to reconciliation between Jews, Christians and Muslims and was organized by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, with support from the Knights of Columbus.
Maestro Gilbert Levine will direct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in presenting John Harbison's "Abraham" and Gustav Mahler's Symphony N. 2, "Resurrection," movements I, IV and V. Also performing will be the Ankara State Polyphonic Choir, the Krakow Philharmonic Choir, the London Philharmonic Choir and members of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh.
Vatican City, Jan 16, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II called women to be aware of their true vocation and follow the mission given by God: to care for mankind.
This Holy Father received the participants in the national congress of the Italian Women's Center as they reflected on the theme, "Women as They Face the Expectations of the World."
He said that “mankind today feels with increasing intensity the need to offer a sense and a scope to the world in which new problems which generate insecurity and confusion present themselves every day."
"The current era," he continued, "marked by the rapid succession of events, has seen the growing participation of women in every sector of civil, economic and religious life, starting with the family, the first and most vital cell of human society. This calls for, on your part, a constant attention to emerging problems and a generous farsightedness in facing them."
"It is important," the Pope told them, "for women to keep alive the awareness of this fundamental vocation: they fulfill themselves only in giving love. Their moral and spiritual strength comes from the awareness that 'God entrusts to women in a special way man, human beings'."
John Paul II underscored that "it is this which above all is the mission of every women, even in the Third Millennium. Live it fully and do not allow yourselves to be discouraged by difficulties and obstacles that you might meet along the way. On the contrary, always trusting in divine help, bring it to fulfillment with joy, expressing the female 'genius' that marks you."
Madrid, Spain, Jan 16, 2004 (CNA) - Representatives of the Spanish Bishops Conference have announced that the cause to have St. John of Avila declared “Doctor of the Church” will soon receive official approval.
The announcement took place during a meeting in Madrid between bishops from Spain and Portugal. The Bishops Conference of Portugal, where St. John of Avila is also highly revered, has also asked Pope John Paul II to make a “Doctor of the Church” the saint who is patron of the Spanish diocesan clergy.
Portuguese bishops announced they would soon be sponsoring initiatives making known the life, work, and message of this great Spanish saint.
During the two-day meeting, the newly-published complete works of John of Avila, consisting of four volumes, were presented to the Spanish Bishops Conference by a distinguished Catholic publisher.
Work on the saint’s writings and thought began shortly after his canonization in 1970, with the commission appointed by the Spanish bishops concluding their studies and reports to the Holy See in 1999.
Sources say the cause is supported by Cardinal Darío Castrillón, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
St. John of Avila was a close friend of St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Francis of Borgia. He was born in 1500 in Almodóvar del Campo, Spain, and died in 1569 in Montilla, where his remains are buried.
Doctors of the Church receive this title on account of the great advantage the whole Church has derived from their doctrine, which is useful for all times as a firm and secure source of the truth.
Liverpool, United Kingdom, Jan 16, 2004 (CNA) - A recent report by Christian Research indicates that church attendance has dramatically declined in England, but Anglican ministers and Roman Catholic priests disagree, saying that the statistics are an indicator of change rather than decline.
The report found that worshippers at weekly services have decreased by 3,000 in Liverpool and by 5,600 in Chester between 2000 and 2002, and that overall the Church of England has lost 100,000 members from its congregations in the same period, a decline of nearly eight per cent.
The executive director of Christian Research, Peter Brierley, told the Daily Post that the overall drop needed urgent attention and predicted that the decline could get worse after about 2020 when ageing churchgoers died.
But David Johnstone, spokesman for the Anglican Diocese of Liverpool, said the statistics don't represent the reality in Liverpool. “There are many vibrant, dynamic churches that are moving forward and growing in strength,” he said, adding that the numbers of young people attending church are increasing.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool also disagrees with the poor forecast offered by the report. "Following a distinct decline in the mid-1990s, the annual figures have proved to be remarkably stable over the past five years," a spokesperson for the archdiocese told the Daily Post.
The average number of under-16s in English congregations is on the rise. "There is a healthy ministry to young people, with large groups attending regular monthly celebrations at churches all over the area," said the archdiocese
Rev. Roger Driver in Bootle told the Daily Post that congregation numbers are not falling; worshipping habits are changing.
"It is not that the numbers are declining, but that patterns in lifestyle are changing,” he said. "Many ministries in the area have moved events from Sunday and found that more people have turned up."
Some churches holding more lunchtime services during the week to accommodate the needs of office workers, while others are moving Sunday evening services to week nights in order to fit in with shift workers.
, Jan 16, 2004 (CNA) - In exclusive interview on EWTN Global Network, Mel Gibson said he thinks his latest movie, “The Passion of the Christ”, may end his Hollywood career, but he doesn’t care.
In a sneak preview of the interview, Gibson said: "I don't know if I will ever work again. I've said that this is a career-killer and it could well be, but that doesn't matter because I don't care." He was responding a question by the host of “The World Over Live” program, Raymond Arroyo, about the controversy the film has caused.
The actor/director also told Arroyo that the film is unique in that "it reflects my beliefs – I've never done that before."
The complete interview will air on EWTN Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. EDT, Jan. 24 at 1 a.m. EDT, Jan. 25 at 5 p.m. EDT, and Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. EDT and 11 p.m. EDT. "The Passion of the Christ" has its North American release date set for Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 16, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Jorge Urosa Savino of Valencia, Venezuela, is warning that the proposed reform of the country’s penal code which will be brought before the national assembly would open the door to the legalization of abortion, adding that to allow it “would be like giving a green light to murder.”
The Archbishop explained that the lawyer’s guild, the academy of medicine, non-governmental associations and all those who defend life should speak out to prevent the approval such an initiative.
“Apart from the fact that the Constitution does not allow it, there is something fundamental here—life should never be attacked. We cannot allow abortion to be permitted as if it were just another licit activity,” he said.
Archbishop Urosa also denounced the depenalization of food theft. “We are facing a situation here which has been aggravated by misery and poverty, and therefore the problem must be solved at its root, which is economic. The government needs to implement social programs aimed at helping the poor.”
San Salvador, El Salvador, Jan 16, 2004 (CNA) - In statements to members of the local media, Archbishop Fernando Sáenz Lacalle of San Salvador, El Salvador, called for respect among the different political parties in the current presidential campaign.
Archbishop Sáenz Lacalle said that “respect for the opinions of others is also a characteristic of democracy” and he called for “an atmosphere of understanding, working together, and peace, so that Election Day (March 21) may truly be a patriotic celebration.”
He asked political parties “to make respect for life, the family, work, morality and honesty, the reference points” for their campaigns.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Jan 16, 2004 (CNA) - An unidentified gang attacked yet another Roman Catholic church yesterday in Katuwana, 30 km south-east of the capital, destroyed statues and set fire to part of the building. In the last two months, at least 25 Catholic churches and other Christian centres have been attacked.
The attack Thursday came one day after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe cautioned the country about escalating inter-religious tension.
Buddhist groups are claiming that a large number of Buddhists are being unethically converted to various Christian denominations.
Buddhists account for 70 per cent of Sri Lanka's 20 million people. Catholics and other Christian denominations account for only about 1.2 million people.
Sri Lanka is currently trying to resolve its 20-year-old conflict with the Tamil ethnic minority. The conflict has claimed more than 69,000 lives.
Police said there were no injuries during the most recent attack Jan. 15. The damage to the church has been estimated at $5,000USD.