Archive of January 29, 2004

Pope says Christian marriage is valid unless “the contrary is demonstrated”

Vatican City, Jan 29, 2004 (CNA) - Addressing officials and attorneys of the Roman Rota at the inauguration of the Vatican’s judicial year, Pope John Paul II said the bond of marriage must be defended as valid unless the contrary is clearly demonstrated.

The Roman Rota is the judicial department that revises legal matters in the Catholic Church, namely, marriage annulments.

In his speech this year, the Holy Father addressed the topic of ‘favor iuris’ enjoyed by marriage and the subsequent presumption of validity in the case of doubts, declared by Canon 1060 of the Code of Canon Law and Canon 779 of the Code of the Canons of the Eastern Churches.

John Paul II said that the “‘favor iuris’ of marriage implies the presumption of validity until the contrary is demonstrated.” Such a presumption, he added, “cannot be interpreted as a mere protection of appearances or of the status quo, since there is the possibility of refuting the act within reasonable limits.”

“What can we say then of the theory that the failure itself of married life presumes the invalidity of the marriage?” he asked. “The declaration of true nullity should lead rather to ascertaining with greater seriousness, at the moment of marriage, the necessary requisites for marrying, especially those concerning the consent and the authentic dispositions of the couple.”

“Pastors and those who collaborate with them in this realm have the serious duty not to give in to a merely bureaucratic vision of premarital investigation,” he added.

The Pope emphasized that “often the real problem is not so much the presumption in words as much as the overall vision of marriage itself and, therefore, the process of ascertaining the validity of its celebration. Such a process is essentially inconceivable outside of the horizon of ascertaining the truth.”

“The tendency to increase the number of annulments through manipulation, forgetting the perspective of objective truth, implies a structural distortion of the entire process,” the Pontiff also said. “The fundamental dimension of the justice of marriage which bases its existence on a intrinsically juridical reality, is substituted by empirical theories which are sociological, psychological in nature, etc, as well as by different ways of juridical positivism.”

“We cannot forget –the Pope continued- that an authentic juridical consideration of marriage requires a metaphysical vision of the human person and of the relationship between husbands and wives.  Without this ontological foundation, the institution of marriage becomes a mere external superstructure, fruit of the law and social conditioning which limits a person in his free realization.”

The Holy Father concluded by underscoring that “it is necessary to rediscover the truth, the goodness and beauty of the institution of marriage which, as a work of God Himself through human nature and the free consent of couples, continues to be a indissoluble personal reality, like the bond of justice and peace, united from the beginning to the design of salvation and elevated in the fullness of the times to the dignity of the Christian sacrament.”

“This is the reality that the Church and the world must promote! This is the true ‘favor matrimonii’!” he finally said.

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Pope call to reflect on condition of Children, “spiritual childhood” during Lent

Vatican City, Jan 29, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II released today his Lenten Message for 2004 entitled “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,” inviting Catholics to reflect on how children are treated “in our families, in civil society, and in the Church.”

In his message, presented at the Vatican by Archbishop Paul Joseph Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, the Holy Father recalls that Jesus “had a particular love for children because of  ‘their simplicity, their joy of life, their spontaneity, and their faith filled with wonder’”.

“For this reason He wishes the community to open its arms and its heart to them, even as He did,” he adds. 

“Alongside children –the Pope continues- Jesus sets the ‘very least of the brethren’: the suffering, the needy, the hungry and thirsty, strangers, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned.  In welcoming them and loving them, or in treating them with indifference and contempt, we show our attitude towards him, for it is in them that He is particularly present.”

“In the years of his public life Jesus often insisted that only those who become like children will enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” the message says. “‘To become’ one of the least and ‘to receive’ the little ones: these are two aspects of a single teaching which the Lord repeats to His disciples in our time. Only the one who makes himself one of the ‘least’ is able to receive with love the ‘least’ of our brothers and sisters,” the Pope stresses.

Large Families The Pontiff praised the “many believers” who strive to follow these teachings, among them, “those parents who willingly take on the responsibility of a large family, mothers and fathers who, rather than considering success in their profession and career as the highest value, make every effort to pass on to their children those human and religious values that give true meaning to life.”

After praising those “committed to caring for underprivileged children,” the Holy Father said a word  “about the selfishness of those who do not ‘receive’ children.”

“There are young people who have been profoundly hurt by the violence of adults: sexual abuse, forced prostitution, involvement in the sale and use of drugs; children forced to work or enlisted for combat; young children scarred forever by the breakup of the family; little ones caught up in the obscene trafficking of organs and persons,” he listed

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us set out with trust on our Lenten journey, sustained by fervent prayer, penance and concern for those in need. In particular, may this Lent be a time of ever greater concern for the needs of children, in our own families and in society as a whole: for they are the future of humanity,” the Pope concludes.

Read here the Pope’s Lenten Message 2004:

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Vatican launches initiatives to favor Children with AIDS

Vatican City, Jan 29, 2004 (CNA) - During the official presentation of Pope John Paul II’s Lenten message 2004, entitled “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,” Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” announced two Vatican initiatives to favor Children with AIDS.

The two initiatives will be the production by the Vatican Post Office of a series of special stamps on the Lenten message; and a development project for orphan children with AIDS in the diocese of Nairobi, Kenya.

This last initiative is run by U.S.-born  Jesuit Angelo D’Agostino, founder and medical director of “Nyumbani,” The Children of God Relief Institute in Nairobi.

Referring to the tragedy of AIDS, which John Paul II talks about in the Pope’s message, the president of “Cor Unum” said that children affected by the disease “prompt the greatest question that man asks himself about the goodness of the Heavenly Father: What evil have these children done to merit such suffering?” 

“From a human standpoint, there is no response to such a question. The Pope responds in this way in the Message: ‘Only faith can make us begin to understand so profound an abyss of suffering’.”

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European association launches contest called “Family Matters”

Madrid, Spain, Jan 29, 2004 (CNA) - With the sponsorship of the European Parliament, the association World Youth Alliance has launched a contest called “Family Matters,” which will give an award to the person with the best answer to the question, “Why does my family matter?”  Organizers of this unique contest said the top answers will be displayed at the European Parliament and will be published by World Youth Alliance.

First prize will include a trip to Brussels, Belgium, September 9-14, 2004, an invitation to the closing events of Europe4Family—a pro-family march that will bring together young people from all over the continent—and a special gift from contest organizers.

Participants should write their answers in 50 words or less, be between the ages of 10 and 30, and include their full name, date of birth, address and telephone number in the submission.

More information about the contest can be obtained up to April 1, 2004, by writing to [email protected]

The winners will be announced May 15, 2004 and will be published on the Europe4Family website:

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Persecuted bishop asks for international help so that Sudanese can decide their own future

Rome, Italy, Jan 29, 2004 (CNA) - One of the symbols of religious persecution in Sudan, Bishop Macram Max Gassis of Obeid, is calling on the international community to look after the self-determination of various regions of the country as the various factions of country are close to a peace agreement.

“The attention of the international community must continue to stay highly focused on Sudan, especially since a peace agreement appears imminent,” said Bishop Gassis in statements to Fides.

The bishop revealed he had sent a letter to Karl Rove, special council to US President George Bush, “to bring to the attention of the American government, which is pressuring for an agreement to be reached soon, to the unresolved question of the status of three regions, Nuba, Abiey, and southern Nilo Azul.  It has not been decided yet whether these regions will be under the SPLA/M or under the government.

The SPLA/M is the People’s National Army of Liberation Movement of Sudan, which has been fighting the government of Jartum for decades to reestablish the self-determination of peoples of southern Sudan.

According to Fides, “after years of war and at least 2 million deaths, the government and the guerillas have reached a military agreement that calls for the removal of government troops from southern Sudan and the eventual incorporation of SPLA/M soldiers into the national army, in order to form a new united military force.”

Both sides have reached a political agreement that calls for a referendum in seven years on self-determination for the southern regions of the country.

Bishop Gassis explained that “in the letter sent to Washington I state that any peace agreement that excludes the aspirations and hopes of the peoples of these areas will lead to the assimilation of these peoples into the northern Arab population, which will put the very peace agreements in danger.”

For this reason, he denounced the government of Jartum for “playing with words,” saying, “When the fate of the three regions in question is discussed, the government makes no reference to the ‘right of self-determination’ but rather speaks of ‘consultation with the people’. The international conventions on human rights on the other hand make explicit reference to the right of self-determination,” he said.

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