Vatican City, Jan 19, 2004 (CNA) - At the end of a concert dedicated to reconciliation among Jews, Christians and Muslims held at the Paul VI Hall last Saturday evening, Pope John Paul II called on leaders of the monotheistic religions to have to courage to promote peace.
The concert, organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, was attended by representatives from various international Jewish organizations, Churches and ecclesial communities, and Islamic groups.
After referring to the two musical themes of the concert, “the Veneration of the Patriarch Abraham and the Resurrection of the Dead,” the Holy Father said: “The history of relations among Jews, Christians and Muslims is marked by lights and shadows, and, unfortunately, has known painful moments.”
“Today,” he continued, “the pressing need is felt for a sincere reconciliation among all believers in one God. This evening, we are gathered here to give a concrete expression to this commitment to reconciliation, entrusting ourselves to the universal message of music.”
“Our common desire is that all human beings be purified from the hatred and evil that continually threaten peace, and that they may know how to extend hands that have never known violence but which are ready to offer help and comfort to those in need.”
The Pope emphasized that the followers of the three world religions “must find within ourselves the courage for peace. We must implore the Almighty for the gift of peace. And this peace will spread like oil that soothes, if we unceasingly pursue the path of reconciliation.”
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2004 (CNA) - During the recitation of the Angelus last Sunday, Pope John Paul II reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and said that the division among Christians is still a “painful trial.”
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begun on Sunday and ends January 25.
The Pontiff noted that the words of Jesus, “‘I leave you my peace’ are the theme of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” “It is significant that this theme was proposed by the Churches of the Middle East where unity and peace are the most heartfelt priorities,” he added.
“In promising His peace,” he continued, “Christ assured the disciples of His support in trials. And is not the lasting division between Christians a very painful trial? This is why they feel the great need to turn to their One and Only Lord, asking that He help them overcome the temptation of discouragement along the difficult path which leads to full communion.”
“In a world thirsting for peace,” the Pope also said, “it is in fact urgent for Christian communities to announce the Gospel in a unified way. It is indispensable that they witness to the divine Love that unites them, that they be bearers of joy, hope and peace, becoming leaven for all of mankind.”
The Holy Father finally said that he hoped that this week of prayer “will bear copious fruits for the cause of Christian unity.”
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II expressed his optimism on the dialogue with Lutherans this Monday during the encounter with an ecumenical delegation from Finland.
“Once again this year I am pleased to welcome your ecumenical delegation on its visit to Rome for the feast of Saint Henrik, Patron of Finland,” said the Pope. “In this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,” he added, “I wish to express my gratitude for the ecumenical progress made between Catholics and Lutherans in the five years since the signing of the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.”
“A promising sign of this progress on our path to full and visible unity,” the Pope continued, “has been the establishment of a new dialogue group between Lutherans and Catholics in Finland and Sweden.”
“It is my hope that Lutherans and Catholics will increasingly practice a spirituality of communion, which draws on those elements of ecclesial life which they already share and which will strengthen their fellowship in prayer and in witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he concluded.
Boston, Mass., Jan 19, 2004 (CNA) - In anticipation of a vote in the state Legislature on a constitutional amendment regarding same-sex marriage Feb. 11, the state's Roman Catholic Church began a direct-mail campaign last week, encouraging Catholics to take action.
The direct-mail campaign was sponsored by the state’s four Roman Catholic bishops and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, the Church’s political advocacy arm. The flier suggests three actions: visiting legislators, calling them, and writing them a letter or e-mail.
The four-page fliers, mailed out Jan. 16 to almost one million Catholic Massachusetts families, also explain the bishops’ position in the same-sex marriage debate. The bishops said they have been misrepresented in the media as bigots and wished to clarify their position.
At a news conference that same day, Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley said the Supreme Judicial Court’s November decision, which ruled that barring same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, "ratifies a trend that will only harm children," reported the Associated Press.
The archbishop said the bishops believe their position defends “what is good for society.” Same-sex marriage, he argued, will have the same harmful effects on the traditional family in the long run as the increase in divorce and co-habitating couples.
The state’s other bishops – Bishops Daniel Reilly of Worcester, Thomas Dupre of Springfield and George Coleman of Fall River – also attended the news conference.
The AP said Bishop Dupre called the court’s ruling "a radical court decision" that has been used by same-sex marriage advocates as a "means of coercing the public."
"What we are doing is upholding the tradition of marriage, which has pretty much existed everywhere in the world since the beginning of civilization," said Bishop Dupre, reported the AP.
The Massachusetts Catholic Conference is also urging people to attend three pro-marriage rallies planned for Jan. 25 in Fall River, Springfield and Worcester.
New Orleans, La., Jan 19, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic politicians who support abortion, assisted suicide or any other issues out-of-step with Church teachings on life issues should refrain from receiving Communion, says Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans.
The archbishop made this statement in his weekly column in the archdiocesan newspaper, the Clarion Herald.
"When Catholic officials openly support the taking of human life in abortion, euthanasia or the destruction of human embryos, they are no longer faithful members in the Church and should not partake of Holy Communion," the archbishop wrote.
The statement is in line with the message relayed at the last meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in November in Washington, D.C. The bishops rebuked Catholic politicians, who do not act in line with Church doctrine on the dignity of life.
In an interview with the Associated Press Jan. 16, Fr. William Maestri of the Archdiocese of New Orleans clarified that the archbishop is calling for politicians, who oppose Church teaching, to voluntarily refrain from receiving Communion and not for priests to refuse them.
"To publicly support abortion is to be clearly outside the Catholic Church on a fundamental moral issue," Fr. Maestri told the AP. "It is simply unacceptable to cloister these things, if you will, to have these public-private walls of separation on fundamental commands such as those respecting life."
Cincinnati, Ohio, Jan 19, 2004 (CNA) - The Catholics of the archdiocese of Cincinnati will be well represented at the national March for Life Jan. 22 in Washington, D.C.
The Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati has organized six buses to head down for the 31st annual event, which commemorates the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion on demand in the United States.
Before the march, some participants will attend a youth rally and mass, sponsored by the Washington archdiocese, while others will attend a congressional breakfast, sponsored by Ohio Right to Life.
For those who cannot attend the march, other tributes are scheduled to take place, such as candlelight vigils and prayer services.
Dayton Right to Life will sponsor a talk by Jill Stanek Jan. 27 at Parkview Church of the Nazarene in Kettering. Stanek was a labor and delivery nurse at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in suburban Chicago, who asked medical officials to stop an induced-labor abortion method that deprives delivered babies of medical care. In August 2002, she was on hand for the signing of the Born Alive Infants Protection Act by President George W. Bush, protecting live aborted children from infanticide.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 19, 2004 (CNA) - The bishops of Mexico have expressed to President Vicente Fox their satisfaction with the decision by the Attorney General to exonerate Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez of Guadalajara and some of associates of false charges of money laundering and fraud.
Bishop José Guadalupe Rábago and Bishop Alberto Suárez, President and Vice-President of the Mexican Bishops Conference, conveyed their comments in a meeting with Fox and other government officials.
Last December 26, the country’s Attorney General decided not to charge Cardinal Sandoval, his lawyer José Antonio Ortega, and José María Guardia López, with money laundering, federal fraud and the use of resources illicitly acquired.
Rome, Italy, Jan 19, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican news agency Fides has published the recent comments of Desmond Johns, head of the UN’s Department for AIDS (UNAIDS), in which he stressed the important role of the Catholic Church in helping to eliminate the virus and help those who suffer.
Fides pulled the comments from an interview Johns gave to the Pontifical Mission Societies in Germany “missio Aachen,” in which he said the Catholic Church is an “excellent partner” in the struggle against AIDS.
Johns recalled the Church’s commitment to providing health care to people in the world’s poorest countries, particularly those suffering from HIV/AIDS and the Church’s attention to those widowed and orphaned by the disease.
Johns also emphasized the educational role of mission schools, saying ““Catholic organizations are of fundamental importance in the fight against HIV/AIDS also with regard to increasing awareness and responsibility”.
Madrid, Spain, Jan 19, 2004 (CNA) - Since last year the Catholic Church in Spain has been sponsoring a series of activities in support of the cause for beatification of Queen Isabel, who died 500 years ago next November 26.
A commission of the Archdiocese of Valladolid responsible for the cause has sent the Pope 33 volumes, which include over 105,000 letters sent from Spain and Latin America requesting the beatification of Queen Isabel.
In November of 2003, the Archbishop of Valladolid gave Latin American ambassadors a replica of the Queen’s will, in which she exhorts her descendants to maintain the unity of faith in Spain and to defend the rights of American Indians. Meanwhile at the Spanish embassy in the Vatican a series of conferences on Queen Isabel which began last October will be concluding next week.
In addition to these initiatives, the French writer Jean Dumont has just published an Italian version of his book, “The Incomparable Queen Isabel the Catholic,” which outlines the Christian virtues exhibited by the Spanish monarch.
The documentation being collected for the cause, which the Archdiocese of Valladolid began in 1958, includes testimony of two miracles attributed to the Queen: the complete cure of pancreatic cancer in an American, and the healing of a brain hemorrhage of a Spanish priest.