Vatican City, Jan 30, 2004 (CNA) - In a message made public today, Pope John Paul told the participants at a meeting in Rome on the theme “Natural Fertility Regulation and the Culture of Life,” that they are studying “very current matters, very interesting for the development of the relationship between science and faith.”
The Pontiff noted that the Church has always promoted “the culture of responsible procreation and has promoted the awareness and diffusion of the so-called ‘natural’ methods of fertility regulation.”
There is a mentality today, said the Pope, that “on the one hand appears intimidated in the face of responsible procreation and, on the other hand, would like to dominate and manipulate life,” the latter as the result of “a certain propaganda.”
What must be developed, he said, is “a capillary educational and formative work with regards to married couples, engaged couples, young people in general, and social and pastoral workers to adequately illustrate all the aspects of natural fertility regulation.”
“It is clear,” he stated, “that when one speaks of ‘natural’ regulation, we are not referring only to respecting biological rhythms. It is a question of responding to the truth about the human person in their intimate unity of spirit, psyche and body, a unity that can never be merely reduced to an overall question of biological mechanisms.”
“Only in the context of the spouses’ reciprocal love, total and without reserve, can the moment of generating life, to which the future of mankind is tied, be lived in all its dignity.”
Denver, Colo., Jan 30, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop José H. Gomez is making an appeal to U.S. Catholics to take an active role in the months ahead in the debate on U.S. immigration policy reform, which includes a new initiative that will favor Mexican immigrants.
“U.S. Catholics, who share a common faith with most of Latin America, need to take an active leadership role in the debate,” the Auxiliary Bishop of Denver says in his opinion editorial that will appear in the Feb. 1 issue of Our Sunday Visitor.
President George W. Bush’s announcement of the new U.S. immigration initiative during his state of the union address was received at first with skepticism and then with satisfaction and hope by the Mexican people, says Bishop Gomez.
In his comment, Bishop Gomez points out the important economic relationship between Mexico and the U.S., as well as the hardships undocumented workers from Mexico face when working here.
The Mexican-born bishop credits Bush for acknowledging that the U.S. economy depends on the labor of these undocumented workers from Mexico, and for recognizing that “undocumented workers have a right to be treated with basic humanity and justice.”
“Undocumented workers do the jobs Americans don’t want,” says the bishop. “There’s a special kind of hypocrisy involved when U.S. employers take advantage of undocumented workers by relying on their labor, paying them substandard wages, denying them routine legal protections – and then blaming them for coming to the United States ‘illegally’,” and accusing them of stealing American jobs, he says.
“We can’t simultaneously call for free trade in our hemisphere and economic development in Latin America, and then bolt our doors shut or mistreat those immigrant workers who do come,” he points out.
Bishop Gomez is hopeful about the initiative, but says it is “short on specifics” at this point.
“It may not go far enough and surely faces a tough fight in Congress,” he said. “But its symbolic value is huge.”
Vatican City, Jan 30, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking to a group of French bishops from the provinces of Dijon and Tours, Pope John Paul II focused on the vocation and mission of the laity, noting that their numbers, as those of priests, have diminished in recent years in France.
The laity in France, he observed, in seeking to better serve the Church, “are looking for a greater coherence between faith and its expression in daily life,” and have a new enthusiasm “for studying Scripture and mediating on the Word, and have a growing sense of responsibility for and commitment to justice and works of solidarity in the face of new situations of precariousness.”
The Pope praised the laity dedicated to help in parish life “under the pastor and in respect for the ordained ministry,” but highlighted the need for communion among priests and bishops and the faithful.
Turning to the question of Sunday Mass, he underscored that “it does not have the place that it should.” “Pastors thus must take care to remind the faithful in a forceful and clear way of the meaning of the Sunday obligation and of participation in the Sunday Eucharist, which can never be just a simple option in the midst of many activities,” he added.
The Pontiff said later that “family must be at the center of your concerns”. “The family is not just a model of relationships among many others; it is a type of relationship that is indispensable for the future of society.”
He also said that great must be given to preparing young people as they look to marriage, “proposing to them a positive vision of affective relations and of sexuality.” He went on to say that “we cannot be a powerless witness to the phenomenon of the disintegration of the family.”
The Church hopes to help “change behavior so that the positive values connected to conjugal and family life will triumph, in the face of the often destructive messages of today's society which allow people to think that all affective behaviors are good, thus denying any moral qualification of human acts,” the Pope concluded.
Vatican City, Jan 30, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking to the new ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan,) Chou-seng Tou, Pope John Paul remarked in English that “the religious and cultural traditions of the Republic of China bear witness to the fact that human development should not be limited to economic or material success”.
“Many of the ascetical and mystical elements of Asian religions teach that it is not the acquirement of material wealth which defines the progress of individuals and societies, but rather a civilization's ability to foster the interior dimension and transcendent vocation of men and women,” the Pope also said.
John Paul II affirmed that “the good of society entails that the right to religious freedom be enshrined in law and be given effective protection. The Republic of China (Taiwan) has shown its respect for the various religious traditions found therein and recognizes the right of all to practice their religion”.
“Religions are a component in the life and culture of a nation and bring a great sense of well-being to a community by offering a certain level of social order, tranquility, harmony and assistance to the weak and the outcast.”
He underlined the “significant contribution” of the Catholic Church “to your Nation's social and cultural development, especially by its dedication to education, health care and assistance to the less fortunate.”
Finally, the Pope expressed his appreciation for Taiwan’s “many works of charity in the international arena and most especially in the developing world. It is my hope that the people of Taiwan will continue to promote charitable activities and thus contribute to the building of an enduring peace in the world.”
Diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Taiwan are traditionally good, but Communist China has demanded the Vatican to severe those ties as one of the preconditions to “normalize” relationships.
Milwaukee, Wis., Jan 30, 2004 (CNA) - Bishops, Catholic leaders and people committed to a pro-life cause are glad that La Crosse Bishop Raymond L. Burke disciplined Catholic politicians who support abortion in December, said Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.
Archbishop Dolan, a firm pro-life supporter, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week that he was happy that his fellow bishop put the issue back on the front burner.
“This [pro-life] is a principle that we can't waffle on,” Archbishop Dolan told the Journal Sentinel, after celebrating a mass for life with several hundred people in Gesu Church on the 31st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. “This is … the premier cause of social justice in America today.”
The letters that Bishop Burke sent to three Catholic Wisconsin politicians made national headlines in December and sparked debate about how politicians are called to live their faith while in office. In his letters, Burke warned politicians, who supported abortion, that they were endangering their spiritual lives and scandalizing others if they persisted in supporting abortion rights.
One month later, Jan.8, Bishop Burke published a letter, telling Catholic politicians in his diocese who support abortion and euthanasia not to receive Communion, and ordered his priests not to give it to them.
Two weeks later, the American Life League launched a campaign to urge other bishops to follow Bishop Burke's lead. The ad campaign that ran Jan. 22 was titled "The Way of La Crosse."
“We've got to be much more vigorous in promoting the pro-life cause with everybody,” Archbishop Dolan told the Journal Sentinel. “It bothers me if any politician, Catholic or not, is for abortion. Because in my mind, we're talking about a civil right, we're not talking about a matter of Catholic Church discipline. We can't allow the noble pro-life cause to be reduced to a denominational issue.
Archbishop Dolan said that, looking back at history, the U.S. bishops’ stance on slavery “wasn't a good one.” He said the bishops missed an opportunity to be prophetic.
“And I guess that's something we bishops have to ask ourselves now,” he said. “Are we missing an opportunity to be prophetic?”
A task force of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is expected to propose guidelines for bishops on the issue this fall.
, Jan 30, 2004 (CNA) - Only 16 percent of all of the women polled for a new national survey believe abortion makes women's lives better, reported WorldNetDaily.com.
Among the women who described themselves as pro-choice, less than 30 percent believe abortion generally improves women's lives, and 67 percent would more likely vote for a candidate who calls for government support for grief counseling to assist women who experience emotional problems after an abortion.
"At least one of every four women voters has had an abortion, and most of these women consider it to be an ugly, painful memory," explained David C. Reardon director of the Elliot Institute, which conducted the survey. Most post-abortive women have many regrets about their abortions and therefore don't support pro-abortion special interest groups, he added.
Reardon says the institute’s studies and polling data indicate that most women do not support easier access to abortion, federal funding for abortion, or the nomination of federal judges who will strike down abortion regulations. But they do want politicians to show they understand the pressures women face.
"Generally, what post-abortive women are looking for in others is understanding and compassion," Reardon told WorldNetDaily.com. "But while on one hand they can no longer swallow the pro-abortionists' argument that abortion is a good thing, they also fear that anyone who readily condemns abortion is also ready to condemn them."
The Elliot Institute will publish their findings in a new pocket guide called "Reversing the Gender Gap: Touch the Hearts, Earn the Trust, and Win the Votes of 30 Million Post-Abortive Women."
Madrid, Spain, Jan 30, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Julián Barrio of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, says European unity should be established upon the values that have historically been championed by Christianity despite Europe’s growing crisis of faith.
Archbishop Julián Barrio made the statements in Santiago during the first conference of the Jacobean Holy Year, before a gathering of representatives of all of the dioceses of Spain during the first conference of the Jacobean Holy Year.
The unity of Europe, according to the Archbishop, should be built on “a system of personal and shared values in which each one offers his life in service of others.”
Europe should be established on these values protected by Christianity, which is currently in crisis “due to secular ideologies, materialism, powerful and virulent nationalism and terrorism,” he said.
The Archbishop also defended the Way of St. James as “the most important phenomenon in the configuration of medieval Europe,” and he criticized the idea that it was only for economic purposes.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 30, 2004 (CNA) - The Mexican Bishops Conference will continue to inform the faithful about the abortifacient effects of the morning after pill despite the efforts of ant-life forces to “silence its voice.”
Bishop Guillermo Ortiz Mondragón, President of the Bishops’ Social Communications Committee, commented during a press conference that the Catholic Church “will not let her guard down” and that priests in shrines and parishes across the country will continue to educate the faithful about the dangerous use of the so-called emergency contraceptives.
Bishop Ortiz condemned all attacks on human life, and he said that whoever uses the pill opens the door to abortion. He called on the Mexican president and on lawmakers to heed the voice of conscience and “not to fall into the promotion of this pill.”
He also emphasized that the Catholic Church will continue providing information so that people will make better decisions and will assume a greater responsibility.
Meanwhile the Bishops’ Committee on the Family released a statement recalling that “abortion is a gravely illicit act no matter how it is carried out, as it is an attack upon the life of the most innocent of human beings.”
Responding to the announcement that the morning after pill will be included in the government’s official family planning services, the Committee said the pill is a “combination of hormones that can prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum or embryo in the wall of the uterus, resulting in an abortion and preventing the embryo from continuing its development.”
Madrid, Spain, Jan 30, 2004 (CNA) - Referring to the 500th anniversary of the death of Queen Isabel, Archbishop Antonio Cañizares of Toledo, Spain, said the monarch “was a woman of faith with singular virtues and an intense spirituality.”
Archbishop Cañizares announced the activities organized by the Archdiocese to commemorate “the great Queen of Spain,” which include a Mass of Thanksgiving for her legacy to be celebrated on November 26, and a series of conferences to debate “the truth about Queen Isabel the Catholic.”
Likewise the Archdiocese is considering sponsoring two art and religious exhibitions, one on the choir stalls of the Cathedral of Toledo that feature scenes of the conquest of Granada (which unified Spain), and one on the spirituality of the Queen.
The Archbishop of Toledo also emphasized the work of the Queen for the evangelization of America and her assistance in the reform of the Church during the 16th century. He also said the Queen laid the groundwork for the modern understanding of human rights because of her position regarding “the rights of peoples” and respect for the Indians.
Archbishop Cañizares expressed his support for the beatification of the monarch, who he considers an example for Spain, and he hoped the 500th anniversary of her death would help bring out the truth concerning her life.