Archive of February 10, 2004

Synthesis of Catechism of the Catholic Church ready for review

Vatican City, Feb 10, 2004 (CNA) - The first draft of a summary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which hundreds of bishops around the world requested of Pope John Paul II, is now ready for review.

In March of 2003, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism, Pope John Paul established a special commission, headed up by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to draft a summary of the text. 

The commission concluded its work in less than a year, responding to the Holy Father’s request that the task be finished “in the shortest time possible.” 

The new document of 150 pages summarizes the current Catechism of the Catholic Church and was drafted with the intention of providing a basis for the publication of national catechisms, although according to experts, the new synthesis will probably become just as popular as the original 700-page text, which became a best-seller worldwide in less than a year. 

The draft will be sent to Cardinals and to the presidents of the different episcopal conferences, who will have two months to submit observations. 

  • The text is divided into four parts:
  • The Profession of Faith
  • The Sacraments
  • The Commandments
  • Prayer

The definitive text will likely be ready for publication at the end of this year or the beginning of 2005.

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Vatican announces seven canonizations, including pro-life mother

Vatican City, Feb 10, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican press office announced that on Thursday, February 19, an Ordinary Public Consistory will be held to announce the canonization of seven blessed, including one Italian mother who preferred to die instead of undergoing a treatment that would have caused the death of her unborn child.

The blessed to be announced as future saints are:

  • Blessed Luigi Orione, Italian priest and founder of the Little Work of Divine Providence and of the Congregation of the Little Sisters, Missionaries of Charity.
  • Blessed Annibale Maria di Francia, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus and of the Religious Daughters of Divine Generosity.
  • Blessed Jose Manyanet y Vives, Spanish priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
  • Blessed Nimatullah Al Hardini, Lebanese, priest of the Lebanese Maronite Order.
  • Blessed Paola Elisabetta, Italian, nee Costanza Cerioli, widow Busecchi-Tassis, foundress of the Institute of Religious of the Holy Family.
  • Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla, mother and pro-life role model.

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Pope appoints new Bishop for Portland, Maine

Vatican City, Feb 10, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II appointed as the new Bishop of Portland, Maine, the Most Reverend Richard Joseph Malone, Auxiliary of Boston.

Bishop Malone was born on March 19, 1946, in Salem (Massachusetts). He studied Philosophy at the “Saint John’s Seminary College” and Theology at “Saint John’s Major Seminary” in Brighton.  He graduated in Religion and Education at Boston University and was ordained a priest on May 20, 1972.

After his ordination he was Vicar at Saint Patrick Parish in Stoneham (1972-1974); Chaplain at the Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood (1976-1979); Professor of Theology and Spiritual Director at the Seminary in Boston (1979-1990); Director of Campus Ministry in Harvard (1990-1993); Director of Religious Education  (since 1993 until now).

He was appointed Auxiliary of Boston on January 27, 2000.

The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese presented by Bishop Joseph John Gerry, O.S.B., upon having reached the age limit.

The Pope also accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the Diocese of Madison presented by Bishop George O. Wirz, upon having reached the age limit.

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The Vatican celebrates 75 years of recovering sovereign status

Vatican City, Feb 10, 2004 (CNA) - Tomorrow is a holiday in the Vatican as this tiny city-state celebrates the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Lateran Accords that allowed the Vatican to recover its sovereign status after more than 50 years of disputes with the Italian state.

The Lateran Accords, in fact, ended the so-called “Roman Question” concerning the relationship between the Roman Pontiffs and the state of Italy.

Popes for many centuries had temporal as well as spiritual power, exercising authority over the fairly extensive Papal States. When the Kingdom of Italy annexed these States in 1870, the Popes demanded compensation and this was achieved only in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Accords.

Among other things, the Lateran Accords established the sovereign Vatican City State, made Catholicism the official religion of Italy and regulated Church-State relations. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the revision of the Concordat in 1984 at which time it was declared that Catholicism would no longer be the official State religion.

Vatican City, covering an area of 108.7 acres (44 hectares) is located on the “mons vaticanus,” the so-called eighth hill of Rome, and is bordered by the Leonine Walls and by the circular travertine strip in the pavement that joins the two arms of the Bernini colonnade in St. Peter’s Square.

Vatican City State’s estimated 700 inhabitants include people of many different nationalities, though most are Italian. At least 400 have Vatican citizenship, including those prelates who are heads of dicasteries in the Roman Curia. All cardinals have automatic Vatican citizenship but preserve their original citizenship.

The Head of State is the Supreme Pontiff, who has full legislative, executive and judicial power.  Representation of the state and its relations with other states is reserved for the Supreme Pontiff, who exercises it through his Secretariat of State. Both the Vatican City State and the Holy See enjoy international recognition and are members of or hold permanent observer status in international and intergovernmental organizations, participate in international conferences with permanent observers and adhere to the respective conventions.

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‘The Passion’ should not affect Jewish-Catholic relations, says Archbishop Chaput

Denver, Colo., Feb 10, 2004 (CNA) - Members of the Jewish and Catholic faith have the right to differ over “The Passion of the Christ” but that should not have a negative impact on Jewish-Christian relations in the long term, said Archbishop Charles Chaput. The archbishop of Denver delivered this message yesterday as part of his opening remarks to those gathered for the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue on the New Anti-Semitism.

The meeting was co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Denver and the American Jewish Committee.

Rabbi James Rudin, senior inter-religious adviser to the AJC, and Bill Beckman, former theological adviser to Cardinal James Francis Stafford and former interfaith officer of the Archdiocese of Denver, also gave presentations at the teaching seminar on anti-Semitism.

The archbishop, who serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said one of the most troubling trends he has seen in “the rise of a new kind of anti-Jewish violence in Europe and the Third World.”

Anti-Semitism “is not a Christian monopoly,” he clarified. “It has deep roots in pagan and Muslim culture as well, and also in modern secular politics.

“For Catholics, anti-Semitism is more than a human rights issue.  It's a form of sacrilege and blasphemy against the people God chose for His own, and therefore it's a very serious sin.  It's also a contradiction of our own religious roots,” he said. 

The archbishop also took the opportunity to address the recent controversy that has emerged from the upcoming release of Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ”, on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25.

The archbishop acknowledged that a number of Jewish leaders, including Rudin, who saw the film, “have been very troubled by it.”

But he added: “Nearly all the Christian leaders who have seen it – myself included – have been deeply moved by it.”

The archbishop said he hopes every adult Catholic and non-Catholic in northern Colorado sees the film. “But I also understand the historical reasons why the Jewish community would be uneasy about any Passion play,” he said.

“We're not going to bridge those different experiences of the film tonight, because we can't.  I'm sure we'll get some questions about the movie during our discussion here, and that's appropriate. But I hope we don't lose focus on what we agree about – a new wave of anti-Semitism is on the rise, it's wrong, and it should deeply concern both Catholics and Jews,” he said.

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'Popetown' cartoon may be too controversial for broadcast BBC admits

London, England, Feb 10, 2004 (CNA) - Sources connected with the BBC say that Popetown may be too controversial to be broadcast after thousands of viewers complained and expressed their anger about the cartoon’s portrayal of a corrupt Roman Catholic Church, reported The Guardian.

The complaints have been streaming in since the program’s development, estimated at a cost of £2.5 million, was announced 15 months ago.

The BBC has come under fire for its "rudeness and prejudice" toward the Roman Catholic Church quite a bit recently. In a letter to The Herald last week, the Archbishop of Glasgow said the broadcaster was guilty of encouraging a "tabloid culture" and expressed particular concern about Popetown.

The 10-part cartoon is a satire of life at the Vatican and, among other things, has a manic Pope bouncing around on a pogo stick, reported The Guardian.

Popetown was supposed to be broadcast last fall. The BBC now says it will go out later this year, but this is not guaranteed.

A BBC spokeswoman said the program is still in production but she added that "several thousand" complaints have been received and more than 6,000 Catholics signed a petition against the show last year.

Human rights campaigner James Mawdsley revived the protest after he vowed to boycott the broadcaster’s license fee and to risk going to jail over the show Feb. 9.

The Today program featured the Mawdsley case and Catholic commentator Clifford Longley accused the BBC of trying to incite ill-feeling towards the 6 million Catholics in the country. Longley also called on different religions to unite in opposition to the show.

"It would be good for Jewish and Muslim leaders to stand up for Catholics for one and speak out against this... to warn the BBC to permit the broadcast of an inflammatory and defamatory series ridiculing the Pope would be a mistake," Longley said.

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Mexican bishops to propose sex-ed based on chastity

Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 10, 2004 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Mexico has announced that it will soon issue a program which will allow for the education of young people in chastity as an alternative to the “sexual education” programs that are based solely on contraceptive drugs and condoms.

The President of the Conference, Bishop José Guadalupe Martín Rábago, said that “we need to provide a response, we need to seek out a means of education.  By next week I will present a respectful educational proposal.  We are not trying to impose on anybody, but we do wish to share our conviction.”

Bishop Martín also said, “Today there is an abundance of information on everything related to sexuality, but there lacks an authentic wisdom to know and appreciate true human and Christian love; for this reason many people are hungrier for love than for sex.”

“Today language is used to cover up the meaning of things and present as true what is false and as valuable what is destructive,” warned the bishop, referring to the morning-after pill and its abortifacient effects.

In an editorial entitled, “Human Sexuality in a Secularized Culture,” published in the official newspaper of the Diocese of León, Bishop Martín explained that “the media have given extensive coverage in the last weeks to the controversial issue of the so-called morning-after pill.”

“The risk is that we focus only on scandal, confrontation, and sensationalism, and not take the time or the interest to analyze, in a critical way, what is behind all of these efforts to manipulate and disfigure the true meaning of human sexuality,” he concluded.

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Poll reveals Church is the most trustworthy organization in Venezuela

Caracas, Venezuela, Feb 10, 2004 (CNA) - According to a national poll carried out during October and September of 2003 by researchers at the Simón Bolívar University, the Catholic Church is considered the most trustworthy organization by Venezuelans.

The results were part of a study which surveyed 1,200 individuals from across the country, asking them to rate the level of trustworthiness of 20 organizations, including the Church. 

The results indicate that 35.2% of those asked considered the Church extremely trustworthy.  25.4% said the Church was very trustworthy, 17.3% said it was somewhat trustworthy, and 12.1% said not very trustworthy.

60.6% of those polled said the Church was extremely or very trustworthy, a level of trust higher than that given to other institutions such as universities (52.6%) and the media (27.4%).

Of those the study identified as opposed to the Chavez government, 69.2% said the Church was extremely or very trustworthy, higher than any other organization referred to in the poll.  Universities came in second with 61.7% and the media in third with 44.3%.

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Abortion organizations in Perú demand Health Minister suspend “defense of life”

Lima, Peru, Feb 10, 2004 (CNA) - In a revealing letter addressed to Peru’s Health Minister, Alvaro Vida Rivadeneyra, a group of feminist and abortion organizations have demanded the suspension of a norm based on the Peruvian Constitution that requires the defense of the life of the unborn in the country’s health facilities.

The letter was signed not only by Peruvian feminists but also by representatives of foreign organizations that are also demanding changes in the country’s health policy, despite being having no authority to intervene in Peru’s domestic affairs.

Those who signed the letter include Susana Chávez of the feminist organization “Flora Tristán,” Anna-Britt Coe of the group “CHANGE”, Milka Diney of “Pathfinder International,” and Julio Zavala of the “Peruvian Association for the Prevention of Un-wanted Pregnancies,” an “ONG” completely unknown in the country.

The letter thanks Rivadeneyra for meeting with the group and demands that he implement “the main subjects of our discussion.”

The list of demands of the pro-abortion organizations include, among other things, the availability of “Oral Emergency Contraception to the public” and its inclusion “in Family Planning policies.”  The distribution of oral emergency contraception was suspended in the country after it became clear that because of its abortifacient nature, it was a violation of the Constitution and the country’s laws.

The letter specifically demanded the repealing of a Peruvian norm that requires all health institutions “to protect the life and health of the unborn from the moment of conception and to officially register them as conceived and subject to constitutional rights.”  The norm is based on the country’s Constitution, which explicitly states that the well-being of the unborn be protected.

The group also demanded that concepts such as “reproductive health” and “sexual and reproductive rights” be incorporated into health policy, despite that fact they are contrary to the Peru’s Constitution.

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