Vatican City, Jan 23, 2004 (CNA) - On Friday morning Pope John Paul received in audience Jose Maria Aznar, President of the Spanish government, accompanied by his wife and an entourage.
During his brief remarks to Aznar, the Pope expressed his joy at having received him along with his family, as this is his last visit to the pontiff as the president of government after eight years in office.
“During this period,” he said, “we have had the opportunity to meet on diverse occasions, the last of which was during my apostolic trip to Spain last May.”
“On that memorable occasion –the Pope continued, - I was able to recognize the deep Christian roots of the Spanish people and the dynamism of the Church in your noble country.”
“These two qualities have marked the most brilliant moments of your history, and with them the new generations will be able to embark upon an ever-more promising future,” he continued.
After the audience with John Paul II, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, received President Aznar.
The Pope and Aznar spent 17 minutes in private. According to an official press release, “in a very cordial conversation, the Pope and President Aznar spoke about Europe. The Holy Father expressed appreciation for the position of the president of the Spanish government particularly on the question of the recognition of the historical Christian roots of Europe.”
“The conversation extended to the topics of the current situations in the world, especially in the Middle East.”
Vatican title for Aznar’s wife
During the encounter with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano bestowed the title of Dame of the Order of Pius IX (“Ordine Piano”) upon President Aznar’s wife, Ana Botella, in recognition of her social and charitable initiatives.
Bogotá, Colombia, Jan 23, 2004 (CNA) - In comments made to Columbian media outlets, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, reiterated that condoms do not help to prevent AIDS, and he announced that his dicastery has published a new 44-page document addressed to health officials with information concerning the myth of “safe sex.”
The Columbian Cardinal said the document calls on ministers of health from around the world to require warning labels on condom packaging which states that “condoms do not totally protect against AIDS.”
He added that the document would be sent to the World Health Organization so that the necessary means will be adopted “to protect humanity.”
The Cardinal revealed that certain countries are considering taking the measure as a reaction to the fact that “the world is under a shrewd and determined anti-conception campaign”
The document entitled, “The Values of the Family versus Safe Sex,” was drafted at the request of Pope John Paul II, and “ responds to various doubts and to biased and superficial information that indicates the problem continues to exist.”
“So-called ‘safe sex’ does not exists, and current campaigns get children and young people in schools involved in a rash and dishonest fashion,” said the Cardinal, adding that such campaigns encourage “promiscuity, especially in young people,” who are falsely told that “there is a such a thing as ‘safe sex,’ that nothing will happen to them.”
Cardinal Trujillo rejected programs that provide for wide distribution of condoms among young people, and he pointed to the decision by the mayor’s office of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) to reject a proposal to send condoms by mail to women who request them.
“That is a deceitful and superficial way of addressing the problem, and more so when it comes to the myth of overpopulation--acknowledged today even by the United Nations-- a myth full of lies to get people to believe it, but in the end never came to be because people had different standards and expectations.”
The Cardinal concluded by saying that someday he hoped to “tell what goes on at the UN regarding the myth of overpopulation, which has very much to do with the issue of condoms, because they believe it will also reduce the population and not only address the problem of AIDS.”
Washington D.C., Jan 23, 2004 (CNA) - Thirty-one years of Roe v. Wade has changed social norms and made abortion routine, said an official with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops yesterday on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that created a legal right to abortion at any time in pregnancy for any reason.
The anniversary was marked with the annual March for Life in the nation’s capitol. Tens of thousands of people marched in protest from the Ellipse by the White House to the Supreme Court building.
"Roe v. Wade gave the United States the most extreme law on abortion in the world, short of China which coerces women to abort their children," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, director of planning and information for the USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
"The decision taught this country that abortion is the compassionate response to a woman with an untimely pregnancy," Ruse said. "But the sad reality is that women turn to abortion because they feel they have no other choice. And this is the dirty secret of the pro-choice movement: Abortion is a reflection that we have failed to meet the needs of women."
Ruse noted, however, that U.S. culture is increasingly rejecting abortion and adopting a pro-life stance "More and more people believe that all children deserve a chance to be born, and that women deserve better than abortion."
Washington D.C., Jan 23, 2004 (CNA) - Tens of thousands of pro-life advocates gathered in Washington for the March for Life yesterday and demanded that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that paved the way for 45 million abortions, be overturned with pro-life legislation.
Pro-life advocates were upbeat at the prospects since social trends indicate that the pro-life movement is gaining ground.
Advocates point to polls that show a majority of Americans, including women and young people, are increasingly pro-life. Pro-life advocates control both the White House and Congress. Pro-life legislation passed by Congress and signed by a president has become law for the first time. And, most importantly, abortions are on the decline nationwide.
The marchers’ spirits were buoyed by a telephone call from President George W. Bush, who was in Roswell, New Mexico. He thanked the demonstrators for “devotion to such a noble cause” and urged them to continue their work.
“You believe, as I do, that every person, however frail or vulnerable, is a blessing,” he told the crowd. “And in the Declaration of Independence, our founders stated this self-evident truth: The right to life does not come from government, it comes from the Creator of life.”
The president outlined the pro-life legislation created during his term, highlighting the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, the ban on partial-birth abortions, and policies that cut all funding programs that promote abortion overseas.
He also voiced his support for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, a complete ban on human cloning, and more federal funding for abstinence education programs.
, Jan 23, 2004 (CNA) - Two members of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) renewed their concerns about Mel Gibson’s film on the last hours of the life of Christ after slipping into a screening uninvited at a religious conference in Orlando, Fl., yesterday.
The ADL issued a statement yesterday that the film risks promoting anti-Semitism through its "painful portrayal of Jews" as being responsible for the death of Jesus. Their statement follows the recent controversies surrounding the Pope’s remark – “It is as it was” – that the film is an accurate portrayal of the events in the last hours of Christ’s life.
ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman attended the Florida screening with Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, the ADL interfaith consultant.
“At every single opportunity, Gibson's film reinforces the notion that the Jewish authorities and the Jewish mob are the ones ultimately responsible for the Crucifixion,” said the statement.
The ADL said it was saddened, pained and shocked that Gibson did not fulfill his promise “to remove the most troublesome aspects of this film.”
Gibson “has ignored the warnings of Jewish and Catholic interfaith scholars about the explosive nature of the traditional Passion Play narrative,” they said, referring to criticisms of the film ADL issued last spring.
Their concern is that the film “could fuel latent anti-Semitism that exists in the hearts of those people who hold Jews responsible for the death of Jesus, which has always been the source of Western anti-Semitism.”
The ADL are also concerned about Gibson’s claim that the film is historically accurate, as it “runs contrary to Biblical scholarship and the teachings of Vatican II, which absolved the Jewish people of guilt in the death of Jesus.
“We are especially concerned that this telling of the Crucifixion narrative is being hawked as a commercial crusade to the church community,” they added.
Madrid, Spain, Jan 23, 2004 (CNA) - Belgian Cardinal Gustav Joos said this week that homosexuals that take pride in their condition and are public about it at all costs are “sexual perverts.” "I am willing to write in my own blood that of all those who call themselves lesbian or gay, a maximum of five to 10 percent are effectively lesbian or gay," Cardinal Gustaaf Joos, 80, told the Belgian weekly P-Magazine.
The Cardinal told his interviewer, “"I demand you write that down. I don't care if they all come protesting at my door. I won't open the door."
"Real homosexuals don't wander in the streets in colorful suits. They are people who have a serious problem and have to learn to live with it…We have to help these people and not judge them," Joos added.
Cardinal Joos said being a homosexual and a Catholic “is not impossible,” but homosexuals should live chastely. “I must do the same as a priest, right? Sex should only occur in the context of an indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman. Not any other way. Period, amen. It’s not hard to comprehend,” he concluded.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jan 23, 2004 (CNA) - During a Mass celebrated Wednesday at St. Agnes Parish in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of the Argentinean capital, said that while abortion is a crime that destroys children, false values are also destructive.
Children “are destroyed, first by the grievous murder of abortion, preventing their arrival into this world, a horrendous crime. But children are also destroyed when values are stolen from them and they are instead taught false values.”
Making his comments on the feast of St. Agnes, the patroness of purity, the Cardinal said, “You must by young people of broad horizons. Notice how the world, this civilization, seeks to destroy the pillars of hope in a people. The world in which we live seeks to destroy young people, it seeks to destroy the elderly; that is the spirit of the world.”
Today’s society “numbs” young people, which means it “steals from them their ideals, it limits their horizons, it steals their greatness. It steals from them that path to maturity that leads to victory. All young people, called to be good, should grown in maturity in order to succeed,” the Cardinal said.
“To be young,” he explained, “is to be encouraged to have broad vision, and not be closed in on oneself. To be young is to mature towards victory, that is, to learn to struggle, to work, to see the world with broader vision. To be young is to achieve greatness. And this is not easy, because everywhere in our society, young people are offered a narrow vision without horizons.”
Young people,” he emphasized, “you are called to great things, to service to your neighbor, to lead our people forward, to form a family and pass on values. Do not let yourselves by fooled, do not let yourselves by numbed. Not everything that glitters is gold.”
Finally, the Cardinal exhorted young people to seek after “the precious pearl, that of greatness and of vision.”