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Archive of February 2, 2004

Pope encourages pro-lifers to keep fighting against abortion

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2004 (CNA) - During the Angelus prayer last Sunday, Pope John Paul strongly encouraged pro-lifers to keep supporting family life and fighting against abortion.

The Pontiff focused his brief remarks on Italy’s “Day for Life,” the theme of which was, “There is no future without children.”

The Pope said that “very often the cultural and social context does not favor the family or the mission of parents. Furthermore, many couples would like to have more children, but are forced to give up because of economic difficulties.”

“The assistance of public organizations, though appreciable, is often insufficient. The need is felt for a more comprehensive policy in support of the family,” he added.

After stressing that the family is the “fundamental unit of society,” the Holy Father said that “within the family, life must always be promoted, defended and protected. This Day for Life reminds everyone of this fundamental duty.”

“We must not resign ourselves to the attacks against human life, first among them abortion” the Pope exclaimed.

“I renew my appreciation for the courageous support that the Italian Movement for Life gives this cause, and I exhort all ecclesial communities to support its initiatives and services.”

“Efforts must be increased in order to affirm the right to life of children not yet born, not against mothers but together with mothers,” he concluded.

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Pope’s asks prayers for peaceful coexistence in the Holy Land

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father’s general prayer intention for February is: “For peaceful coexistence among Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land.”

His mission intention is: “That in Oceania priestly and religious vocations for evangelization in the local Churches may receive special care.”

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Bishop Gomez blesses dormitory for Hispanic Americans in Mexico City

Denver, Colo., Feb 2, 2004 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop José Gomez of Denver traveled to Mexico City early last month to bless a new dormitory at a seminary for Hispanic Americans, which he helped establish.

The new facility at Seminario Hispano de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, which was blessed Jan. 9, will house a dozen seminarians. It will allow the seminary to have up to 30 men in formation.

The seminary was created in August 1999 by Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City, with the purpose of supporting the formation of Hispanic seminarians from the United States and Canada.

According to a press release issued by the Archdiocese of Denver, the seminary already has alumni priests who are either serving in the U.S. or who are continuing theological studies.

Bishop Gomez also joined the cardinal and his six auxiliary bishops in an annual pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe Jan. 10. More than 15,000 worshippers attended the mass and filled the Plaza de las Americas outside the basilica.

The trip was aimed at strengthening the relationship between the Church in the United States and Mexico, stated the press release.

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Rosary hits airwaves in the Bible belt

Lexington, Ky., Feb 2, 2004 (CNA) - A special on the rosary will hit the airwaves in South Carolina this month thanks to the state’s only Catholic radio station, reported the Carolina Post and Courier.

The program on WQIZ 810 AM will air each Wednesday and Thursday at noon. It will include teachings and testimonies on the rosary and a Year of the Rosary celebration, taped in October at Corpus Christi Church in Lexington with Bishop Robert Baker.

The rosary special is part of the station’s plan to increase and develop local programming. Currently, the station broadcasts programming from Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

WQIZ 810 AM was founded by former TV station manager Michael Brannen. He bought a radio station in St. George and created Mediatrix SC, a nonprofit corporation. He began Catholic programming last year as a volunteer ministry.

The station has an interesting challenge since it is operating in the heart of the American Bible belt. But that fact doesn’t seem to phase Brannen. About half of the listeners aren’t Catholic, he pointed out to the Post and Courier.

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Canadian Supreme Court to rule if Catholic Church is suable

Ottawa, Canada, Feb 2, 2004 (CNA) - The Supreme Court of Canada reserved its decision in a case that has the Canadian government and victims' lawyers arguing that the Catholic Church, as a whole, should be found suable in order to settle sexual-abuse and residential-school claims.

Two years ago, the Episcopal Corporation of St. George’s, Nfld., asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal, after a Newfoundland court had found the diocese responsible for sexual abuses committed by Fr. Kevin Bennett. The priest, now 70, was sentenced to four years in the early1990s on more than 30 counts.

But victims seeking compensation have been unable to find sufficient funds to satisfy judgments in their favor and are now seeking the legal right to sue the Church as a whole.

The Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides Jan. 14.

William Sammon, lawyer for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, argued that the Catholic Church is not a suable entity. 

While the government wants the Catholic Church to be suable, "it has never entered into any kind of agreement with the Church — the Holy See, that is — for the legal personality of the Church," Sammon told reporters, according to Canadian Catholic News.

The Holy See is a sovereign state that can enter into treaties with other countries, called concordats, for the purpose of recognizing the legal personality of the Church, Sammon told CCN.

However, the Canadian government never requested a concordat. The Church has since had 150 years of legal immunity in Canada.

"Now, because it’s not convenient for the federal government, they want simply to ignore all of that and treat the Church as one huge entity, mainly because of the Indian residential schools, because they want indemnity from the churches for the operation of their schools," CCN quoted Sammon as saying.

However, the Church incorporated its dioceses and other organizations as separate legal entities in order to conduct its temporal affairs.

Two court decisions in recent years found the Catholic Church not to be a suable entity, but the Supreme Court may rule differently.

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“Pro-Life” demands Supreme Court remove abortifacients from family planning programs in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 2, 2004 (CNA) - The director of the Mexican organization “Pro-Life,” Rocío Gálvez de Lara, has submitted a formal petition to the Supreme Court of Mexico asking it to amend the Official Mexican Norms on family planning, which now approve the use of abortifacients.

Gálvez reminded the Court that the Mexican constitution protects the right to life from the moment of conception and she requested that “this norm which is against life, against the law in Mexico, be amended and repealed,” in conformity with national law.

The letter, which was addressed to Chief Justice Mariano Azuela, cites Supreme Court decisions supporting the right to life from the moment of conception, as well as convincing scientific studies that show the morning after pill is abortifacient.

Gálvez said such studies prove the pill prevents implantation of a fertilized ovum in the uterus, and that this constitutes an abortion.

Last Wednesday, the Culture of Life Federation, another Mexican pro-life group, sent a letter to President Vicente Fox asking his intervention to modify the norm, reminding him that in 2002 before the UN General Assembly, the Mexican president said he was in favor of guaranteeing the right to life from the moment of conception.

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Bishops ask Guatemalans for commitment to faith and to life

Guatemala City, Guatemala, Feb 2, 2004 (CNA) - At the conclusion of their General Assembly, the Guatemalan Bishops Conference asked the country’s Catholics to commit themselves to putting their faith in action and to seek the material and spiritual good of those most in need.

In the message, entitled “The Urgency of Solidarity and Justice,” the bishops recalled the need for “the urgent commitment of the people and of the new government in the building of a different Guatemala.”

“It is our duty to point out that the new administration will face urgent problems which the Church, without proposing technical or scientific solutions, judges to be contrary to God’s plan for the world: widespread poverty, fear and lack of safety in society, regression in the establishment of a state based on rights, the loss of respect for the dignity of the person and disrespect for life,” the bishops said.

The bishops asked new political leaders “to respond to the hopes of the people through bold and decisive actions designed to overcome the violence, the confrontation, and the marked social inequalities of the past.”

The bishops likewise proposed to new leaders “the paths of justice and solidarity as the ways through which to direct the future of the nation starting today” and they emphasized that “the Guatemala of today requires that all Guatemalans see one another as their neighbor and realize they cannot live in good conscience while their neighbor’s integral physical and spiritual well-being is not looked after.”

In this sense, they insisted that believers take on “a constant commitment to be missionaries by inviting all to the Christian faith. A faith which has many witnesses in our land and for which some have even given up their lives.”

The bishops called on “the different Christian communities, catechists, lay movements, pastors, and communities of consecrated life, to join together in this commitment.”

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