Archive of February 6, 2004

Catholics must accept and live fullness of Catholic doctrine, Pope says

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2004 (CNA) - Addressing members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope John Paul said today that Catholics must accept and practice the fullness of Catholic Doctrine.

Speaking to the participants of the Congregation’s biennial plenary assembly the Pontiff noted that it is their “delicate duty to promote and defend the truth of the Catholic faith in service to the Magisterium of the Successor of Peter,” and for this reason, their mission is “eminently pastoral.”

“Today's cultural context,” affirmed the Pope, “which is marked by both a widespread relativism and the tendency to a facile pragmaticism, demands more than ever a courageous proclamation of the truth that saves man and a renewed evangelizing impetus.”

He added that “full adherence to the Catholic truth does not diminish, but rather exalts human freedom and draws it towards its fulfillment, in a love that is free and filled with concern for the good of all men.”

John Paul II told the members of the congregation he wished to highlight three themes in his talk: the reception by the faithful of magisterial documents, the natural moral law, and the “notable increase” in the number of disciplinarian cases referred to the Congregation regarding sexual abuse by clerics.

Disoriented by the media

He pointed out that he had spoken to them on other occasions of “the reception of magisterial documents on the part of Catholic faithful, who are often disorientated more than informed by immediate reactions to and interpretations by the media.”

“In reality,” he continued, “reception of a document must be seen above all as an ecclesial event of welcoming the Magisterium in the communion and most cordial sharing of the doctrine of the Church.”

“It is a question in fact of an authoritative word that shines light on a truth of faith or on several aspects of Catholic doctrine that are contested or distorted by particular currents of thought or action,” he also said.

In this regard, the Pope asked the congregation to plan “opportune methods of transmission and diffusion of the document itself which allows for full awareness, above all, by the pastors of the Church.”

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Pope stresses the need to recover natural law

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking to the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope John Paul II highlighted the need to recover the importance of natural law as a source of moral certainty in today’s world.

The Holy Father stated that the natural moral law “belongs to the great patrimony of human wisdom that Revelation, with its light, has contributed to further purifying and developing. The natural law, accessible per se to every rational creature, indicates the first and essential norms that regulate moral life.”

“Today,” he explained, “as a consequence of the crisis in metaphysics, many spheres do not recognize any longer that there is a truth inscribed in the heart of every human person.”

“We see therefore, on the one hand, the spreading among believers of a morality of a fideistic character and, on the other hand, what is missing is an objective reference point for acts of legislation which often are based solely on social consensus,” he added.

In this regard, the Pontiff asked the Congregation “to promote opportune initiatives with the aim of contributing to a constructive renewal of the doctrine on the natural moral law, seeking convergence with representatives of different denominations, religions and cultures.”

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Priestly sexual misconduct must be prevented at seminaries, Pope says

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2004 (CNA) - In a long speech addressed to members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pope John Paul II said that canonical norms must be applied to punish priestly sexual misconduct, but the true solution of the problem lies at seminaries.

In the final part of his speech, the Pope addressed a “delicate and current question,” the “noteworthy increase” in disciplinary cases of “delicta graviora” –grave crimes- including “delicta contra mores” –crimes against social mores.

He said that canonical norms applied with justice and fairness “tend to guarantee the exercise of the right of defense of the accused as well as the needs of the common good”.

“Once there is evidence of the crime,” it is necessary to consider thoroughly the “just principle of proportionality between guilt and punishment, as well as the predominant need to protect the people of God.”

“This,” he continued, “does not depend solely on the application of the canonical penal law, but finds greater guarantee in the just and balanced formation of future priests called in an explicit way to embrace with joy and generosity the style of a humble, modest and chaste life which is the practical foundation of ecclesiastical celibacy.”  “Therefore,” the Pontiff concluded, “I invite your congregation to collaborate with the other dicasteries of the Roman Curia responsible for the formation of seminarians and of the clergy to adopt the necessary measures to assure that priests live in conformity to their call and to their commitment to perfect and perpetual chastity for the Kingdom of God.”

On April 30 2001, the Pope published the Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela  about the moral crimes reserved to the judgment of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

In that document the Pontiff reserved to this Congregation all moral crimes related to faith (like heresy or apostasy,) the sacraments (like acts of sacrilege) and crimes against social mores (all types of sexual misconduct).

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Actress who plays Mary speaks of filming ‘The Passion’

Bucharest, Romania, Feb 6, 2004 (CNA) - In a recent interview with the Associated Press, actress Maia Morgenstern said she was pregnant for her role as Mary in Mel Gibson’s upcoming feature film “The Passion of the Christ.”

The shoot finished one month ahead of the birth of her now nine-month-old second daughter. Being pregnant created "a special luminosity which you cannot reproduce with makeup," she told AP, Feb. 3.

The Romanian actress, whose grandfather died in the Auschwitz death camp and whose parents are Holocaust survivors, does not consider the film anti-Semitic, nor does she think it will promote anti-Semitism.

The Jewish actress said Muslims, atheists, Christians and Jews worked on the film but race and religion were never an issue, and Gibson never imposed his religious convictions on anyone during the shoot.

"When people go and see the film, they will (primarily) see a work of art," she told AP.

Any political message the film offers is "about the responsibility and impact political and military leaders can have in manipulating the masses and interfering in people's conscience, particularly at a moment of crisis as it was then," Morgenstern was quoted to have said.

The 42-year-old mother of two spoke appreciatively of Gibson, praising both his professional abilities and his kindness when her daughter was sick in Romania. He first sent her home to spend time her daughter and then allowed the 3-year-old to join her on the set.

Morgenstern has starred in about 30 movies and is best known in her native Romania. She speaks Romanian, French, English, Russian and Yiddish, which she learned to work at the Jewish State Theater in Bucharest.

Gibson isn’t yet as popular in Romania though. When Morgenstern's mother visited her on location, she excitedly told friends that her daughter was filming with "Gib Melson."

The film is to be released Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25.

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Washburn University sculpture leads to Catholic reaction

Wichita, Kan., Feb 6, 2004 (CNA) - Wichita Catholic high schools announced this week that they are no longer welcoming Washburn University admissions officers on their campuses because the university has refused to remove a sculpture near the student union building, which is offensive to Catholics.

The announcement was made as hearings began Feb. 3 at a federal district court in Kansas City, Kan., on the issue. A Catholic professor and student brought a suit against the university and have asked for the removal of the sculpture, which depicts a Catholic bishop wearing a miter in the shape of a penis. A decision is expected before Feb. 20.

Archbishop James P. Keleher of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas testified at the hearings that the statue is a mockery of Catholic teaching and faith.

Bob Voboril, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, agreed that the statue is "clearly seeking to offend and insult Catholics."

Principals of all four Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Wichita said they had written the public university in Topeka with their concerns about the sculpture, but had not received a response, reported the Wichita Eagle.

Bishop Carroll High School principal Leticia Nielsen said the exhibit is just as bad as any sculpture that mocks blacks, Hispanics or Jews.

Patrick Forbes, principal of St. Mary's Colgan High School in Pittsburg, said his school would no longer furnish official student transcripts for the university if they were requested.

Principals said "Catholic-bashing" has become increasingly prominent in recent years and should not be minimized in comparison to other forms of prejudice.

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Mass. ruling expected to create push for Marriage Protection Amendment in Illinois

, Feb 6, 2004 (CNA) - A decision by the Massachusetts court this week, which upheld homosexuals’ right to marriage, has strengthened the resolve in Illinois to pass an amendment to the state’s constitution that will maintain the traditional definition of marriage. Illinois Family Institute executive director Peter LaBarbera issued this statement yesterday.

The Illinois Marriage Protection Amendment would deny state recognition to homosexual unions. The amendment emerged from legislation introduced by state Reps. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) and William Grunloh (D-Effingham). Bipartisan support for the amendment in the General Assembly is growing, said LaBarbera.

"Already, homosexual activists are planning trips to Massachusetts to 'marry' on May 20. They will return to states like Illinois and demand government recognition of their counterfeit unions, turning to lawsuits when they are denied,” he said.

LaBarbera also said the rhetoric used by the Massachusetts Judicial Court judge was inappropriate. The 'separate but equal' rhetoric, used by the court, was “once reserved for Americans' noble campaign to end racial discrimination. … To equate the two is to diminish the struggle of Black Americans for equality and to insult all Americans who rightly oppose homosexual conduct by treating them as the moral equivalent of racists.”

"Redefining marriage is like redefining water. It is attempted only through legal contortions that defy natural law,” he said.

The Family Institute has called upon Massachusetts' lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, and on Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to issue an injunction against the court's ruling until state's citizens can vote in a referendum on the matter.

The institute can be contacted at [email protected]

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Canadian Catholic farmer takes his case against Monsanto to the Supreme Court

Ottawa, Canada, Feb 6, 2004 (CNA) - It’s now up to the Supreme Court of Canada to decide whether a Saskatchewan farmer violated the patent rights of biotechnology giant Monsanto, after the company’s genetically modified canola seed was found growing there.

Percy Schmeiser, 73, described the five-year legal battle as a classic David and Goliath struggle. The Supreme Court heard the case Jan. 20 but has reserved a decision.

Past court rulings have held Schmeiser liable for more than $170,000 CAD in legal damages and costs.

In 2001, the Federal Court of Appeal found that Schmeiser had infringed on the Monsanto’s patent rights when its genetically engineered canola was found on his farm in 1998.

Schmeiser claims the seeds were blown onto his fields from passing trucks or neighboring fields since most canola farmers have chosen to plant Monsanto’s seeds. However, Monsanto argued successfully that Schmeiser violated its patent protection by using seed, designed to be herbicide resistant, without paying for it.

The appeal court upheld a previous ruling by the Federal Court Trial Division that Monsanto’s patent rights had been violated. The court ordered Schmeiser to pay $19,000 in damages and $153,00 in court costs.

The Catholic farmer says he and his wife have spent almost 50 years developing their own canola, but that Monsanto’s seeds contaminated it.

“We no longer have pure canola seed left. It’s all contaminated by GMOs [genetically modified organisms],” he told reporters, according to Canadian Catholic News.

“No one should have the right to introduce something into the environment that destroys the property of others,” said Schmeiser, who traveled throughout the world, to try to gain support for his final challenge.

“Who can patent life, and who owns life – whether it’s seeds, plants, animals and so on?” asks Schmeiser.

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