Archive of February 11, 2004

Pope appoints two Eastern European Archbishops to key roles in the Roman Curia

Vatican City, Feb 11, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II appointed to Eastern European Archbishops to key roles in the Roman Curia.

The Pope accepted the resignation of Spanish Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo as head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and appointed as his replacement Archbishop Franc Rodé, of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Archbishop Rodé was born in Ljubljana on September 23, 1934 and was ordained a priest for the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians) on June 29, 1960. On March 5, 1997 he was appointed Archbishop of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and two years later, elected President of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference.

Archbishop Rodé has played a key role in both consolidating Slovenia's transition to democracy and defending the rights of Catholics to receive religious education in public schools.

The Holy Father also accepted the resignation of  Belgian Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte, C.I.C.M., as head of the General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops, and appointed Croatian Archbishop Nikola Eterovic', until now Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine.

Archbishop Eterovic' was born in Pucisca, Croatia, on January 20, 1951. He was ordained a priest after specializing in Missionology on June 26, 1977.

He entered the Holy See's Diplomatic service in March 1980 and has worked at the Vatican diplomatic representations in Ivory Coast, Spain, and Nicaragua. He was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine on May 22, 1999.

Archbishop Eterovic' speaks Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian. His new position requires communication with bishops around the world.

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World Day of Sick recalls meaning of life, connection to Lourdes: Pope

Vatican City, Feb 11, 2004 (CNA) - It is a great act of love to take care of those who suffer, said Pope John Paul II today in his general audience on the occasion of the World Day of the Sick.

For Christians today, suffering is also a gift for the Church and the world, he said.

“The World Day of the Sick constitutes a strong call to rediscover the important presence of the suffering in the Christian community and to value always their precious contribution,” said the 83-year-old ailing pontiff.

“From a simply human perspective, pain and sickness can appear as absurd realities,” he said. “However, if one allows oneself to be illuminated by the light of the Gospel, one can grasp its profound salvific significance.”

In his address in the Paul VI Auditorium, the Pope recalled the deep connection between the sick and today’s Marian feast, Our Lady of Lourdes. The renowned Marian sanctuary of Lourdes in France continues to attract crowds of pilgrims from around the world, many among them who are sick, he said.

The Pope said Lourdes stands out especially since this year marks the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, 1854. It was in Lourdes, four years later, that the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous as the Immaculate Conception.

The Pope expressed his affection for those who are suffering and affirmed the significance of their contribution to the world.

 “I turn now to the many people who experience the weight of suffering in body and in spirit. To each of them, I renew the expressions of my affection and my spiritual closeness,” he said.

“At the same time, I would like to call to mind that human existence is always a gift of God, even when it is marked by physical suffering of all sorts; it is a valuable gift for the Church and for the world. 

“Certainly, one who suffers must never be left alone,” said the pontiff, adding his deep appreciation of those who, “with simplicity and a spirit of service” minister to the sick and seek to alleviate their suffering and infirmities.

“I think, in a special way, of health workers, doctors, nurses, scientists and researchers, as well as hospital chaplains and volunteers,” he said. “It is a great act of love to take care of those who suffer!”

He concluded the general audience with a prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes: "Be the support of all those, who each day alleviate the pain of their brothers and sisters. And help all people grow in the knowledge of Christ, who with his death and resurrection, defeated the power of evil and death.”

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Two Catholic ministries launch ‘Catholic Passion Outreach’

West Chester, Pa., Feb 11, 2004 (CNA) - A Catholic publisher and a Catholic Internet portal have teamed up to launch an outreach to promote and respond to the evangelization opportunity presented by the release of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25.

The project, Catholic Passion Outreach, aims to be the “definitive Catholic response” to the film.

“This movie offers Catholics a unique opportunity to share the power of the Gospel with family and friends,” explained Tom Allen, president of Catholic “Unlike any other, this movie will inspire hearts and change lives.”

Allen and his Catholic Exchange staff joined forces with Ascension Press, a Catholic publishing company. The two apostolates developed “A Guide to the Passion”, a 70-page book that answers 100 questions about the movie.

Matthew Pinto, president of Ascension Press, calls the low-cost book “the definitive Catholic resource book on the subject”, adding that it was designed to be used as a free giveaway to moviegoers. The book also has a chapter on “The Case for Christ” and on the history of the Catholic Church. Devotional prayers, such as the Stations of the Cross and Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, are included as appendices.

“We wanted to create a piece that offered a scene-by-scene analysis of the movie, both from an artistic and theological perspective,” explained Pinto. “People are going to have questions as they watch the movie. This book will give them the answers.”

Catholic Passion Outreach offers a turnkey program for dioceses and parishes, including free downloadable small-group manuals, ready-made pulpit announcements and posters, and a flyer called “12 Ways to Share A Guide to the Passion.”

For more information on Catholic Passion Outreach, visit

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Media study calculates more than 1,300 priests were accused of sexual abuse since 1950

Washington D.C., Feb 11, 2004 (CNA) - Just two weeks before the release of an unprecedented national report on clergy sexual abuse in the U.S. Church, the Associated Press said its review of diocesan reports indicates that 1,341 priests have been accused of abusing minors in the last five decades.

The AP report includes figures made public by 80 of the 195 U.S. dioceses. Statistics have not yet been released by some archdioceses that have faced hundreds of allegations, such as Boston and Los Angeles. There is some inconsistency among dioceses as well, as some included claims against deacons, religious brothers and sisters.

U.S. dioceses made public their local figures in anticipation of the nationwide survey of clergy sexual abuse, which will be released Feb. 27. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice conducted the survey upon the request of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bishops also formed the lay National Review Board to oversee the study. The board is expected to release the results of its own investigation into how the crisis occurred.

"Bishops chose to get the hard data ... to make sure the steps they've taken are adequate to addressing the problem," Msgr. Francis Maniscalco, a spokesman for the USCCB, told the AP.

"This is an unprecedented study of a single profession,” the monsignor was quoted as saying. “It takes the risk of concentrating even further attention on the Catholic priesthood a problem that is a human problem, that is engaged in by members of a family in regard to other members of their family."

USCCB officials say it is difficult to have a comparative assessment of the data, since no other organization or church has ever conducted such an extensive study. The Catholic League addressed this issue by documenting the prevalence of abuse in families and other professions in a report called “Sexual Abuse in social context: Catholic clergy and other professionals”.

Church officials said it was difficult to determine how many priests were guilty of abuse since many cases were not reviewed by police and most of the claims involve alleged misconduct that occurred decades ago, reported the AP.

About 179 of the accused priests have died and many personnel and financial records are missing, said diocesan officials. As well, about 60 priests were exonerated of false claims, reported the AP.

The AP says its review indicates that the incidence of abuse is much greater than previously thought. A January 2003 review by The New York Times calculated 1,205 claims of abuse since 1950. Survivors First, compiling its own list from media reports and lawsuits, calculated 1,800 cases of abuse.

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To forget Christian roots of Europe is “avoid who we are” says Spanish Cardinal

Madrid, Spain, Feb 11, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking at a conference at the University of Cordoba, Spain, the Archbishop of Seville, Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo, said that to forget the Christian roots of Europe in the future EU Constitution “means to avoid who we are and what the Church has meant in this context.”

During his address—part of a series of talks on the EU Constitution organized by the university—Cardinal Amigo Vallejo said that education, universities, values and human dignity were some of the contributions which Christianity has made to European civilization, and he recalled how the Church “on a number of occasions has lead the way in bringing peace to countries at war and democracy to once totalitarian states.”

According to the Cardinal, references to Christian Europe have been received “with indifference and even scorn by certain people who elevate concepts such as the neutrality of states or laicity as if they were exclusive rather than inclusive.”

Cardinal Amigo Vallejo also pointed to the confusion caused in our times by the concept of globalization, “which everyone talks about but nobody can explain.”  An expert in Islamic culture, Cardinal Amigo believes globalization is “a great social conquest which nevertheless widens the gap between rich and poor, north and south.”

In his opinion the geographic and economic criterion upon which Europe is being built risk “the imposition of the culture of the strongest.” Therefore, he called for dialogue, understanding and respect as “the keys to resolving differences.”

Cardinal Amigo also touched on the controversy in some countries such as France or Germany surrounding external religious symbols, saying, “I have never been of the opinion that the best way to get rid of a headache is to cut off one’s head.”

In this sense he insisted on respect, dialogue and acceptance of others as the first step for living together in peace.  Therefore he called for a “recovery of the values that Europe has lost.”

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Approved miracle of Father Hurtado paves way for canonization this year

Santiago, Chile, Feb 11, 2004 (CNA) - Chile is celebrating the approval of a new miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Alberto Hurtado, who could be canonized this year.

Although the date of his canonization has not been determined as the Vatican is yet to confirm the news, sources said the Commission of Theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints gave the definitive approval to the miracle which was confirmed last October by the Medical Commission.

Theologians from the Commission commented on two aspects of the miracle:  that the cure considered medically inexplicable be considered miraculous from a theological point of view; and they ratified that the miraculous cure is attributed to the intercession of Father Hurtado.

Before John Paul II ratifies the case and promulgates the decree of sanctity, a plenary meeting must take place between the Bishops and Cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, which will probably take place next month.

After the promulgation of the decree of sanctity, the Pope will convoke a Public Ordinary Consistory with the Cardinals of Rome, who will determine the definitive date for the canonization.

Cardinal Jorge Medina, ex-prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told reporters that the cause of Father Hurtado is not on the agenda for the next Consistory scheduled for February 19, but that it will surely be included in the next one.

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National media mistreating Mexican bishops for their pro-life stance, says Archdiocese of Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 11, 2004 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Mexico’s weekly newspaper is denouncing the national media’s mistreatment of the Mexican bishops for their defense of the unborn and their opposition to abortifacient drugs.

The newspaper slammed the radio, television and print coverage which condemns the position of the bishops and “treats us as reactionary and inflexible.”

“Its enough to look at the newspapers of recent days to see the hatred with which the firm and courageous position of the bishops is discredited, enough to look at the political cartoons to see that when there is a lack of artistic creativity, vulgarity and offensiveness take its place,” said the Archdiocese.

Moreover, the newspaper lamented the use of the word “democracy” to justify destructive attitudes, which far from building a better society, seem to destroy it.

The editorial says that destructive criticism seems today to be synonymous with intelligence and wisdom, as in the case of the opposition of the Catholic Church to the approval of the so-called “morning-after pill.”

Referring to this, the Vice President of the Mexican Bishops Conference, Bishop Alberto Suárez Inda, said the mission of defending life in world dominated by the “culture of death” has never been easy, but he assured that “out of conviction and fidelity to the commandments of God, the bishops denounce whatever is immoral.”

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