Vatican City, Feb 12, 2004 (CNA) - During a meeting with Ahmed Qurei, Prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Pope John Paul said today that the Holy Land needs bridges and forgiveness, not walls.
The Pope told Qurei that his presence “brings back vivid memories of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, during which I prayed fervently for peace and justice in the region.”
In his brief remarks in English, the Pontiff said also that “while signs of hope have not been altogether absent, unfortunately the sad situation in the Holy Land is a cause of suffering for all. No one must yield to the temptation of discouragement, let alone to hatred or retaliation.”
“It is reconciliation that the Holy Land needs: forgiveness not revenge, bridges not walls. This demands that all leaders of the region follow, with the help of the international community, the path of dialogue and negotiation, which leads to lasting peace. Upon you and your people I cordially invoke an abundance of divine blessings.”
Vatican City, Feb 12, 2004 (CNA) - In welcoming Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez to the Vatican today, Pope John Paul II told him he hopes for the moral and material reconstruction of the South American country troubled by political violence.
Speaking in Spanish with a clear voice, the Pontiff said he was “pleased at the collaboration that exists between the Church and leaders in your country.”
“Colombia is very present in my thoughts and my prayers,” the Pope told Uribe, “as I pray that its people might walk without losing heart towards an authentic social peace, rejecting any form of violence, generating new forms of coexistence for a sure and firm path of justice, and promoting in a capillary fashion from every corner of the nation unity, fraternity and respect for each other. It is time to establish firm foundations for the moral and material rebuilding of your national community in order to reestablish a society that is just, responsible, peaceful and marked by solidarity.”
“I thank you for your visit,” said the Holy Father, “and I renew my wishes for the spiritual and material progress of Colombians, for their coexistence in harmony and freedom.”
He concluded by asking for God’s blessings “on the beloved sons and daughters of Colombia, on families, ecclesial communities and the diverse public institutions and those who administer them.”
Vatican City, Feb 12, 2004 (CNA) - John Paul II today received Kamal Kharrazi, foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, encouraging him to protect the rights of people from different religious backgrounds.
“Your presence here,” said the Pope in English, “is a sign of the cooperation that, for more than fifty years now, has marked the official relations between the Holy See and your country. I am confident that this spirit of collaboration will continue to grow ever stronger as we address issues of mutual concern to us.”
“Not least in this regard,” added the Holy Father, “is the ongoing commitment to safeguard the inalienable rights and dignity of the human person, especially in efforts aimed at promoting greater understanding among peoples of different religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.”
The Pontiff concluded by assuring Kharrazi his “good wishes for your stay in Rome and I invoke upon you the blessings of Almighty God.”
Vatican City, Feb 12, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican Press Office has announced that Pope John Paul has announced that the next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place in the Vatican from October 2 to 29, 2005, on the theme, “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.”
The theme responds to the growing concern of Pope John Paul about the importance given to the Eucharist in the Church and the way Mass is celebrated. These concerns were expressed last Holy Thursday in the Pope’s last Encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia.”
Washington D.C., Feb 12, 2004 (CNA) - The pro-life American Life League held a demonstration Feb. 10 in an attempt to convince leading Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry that he cannot be a Catholic in good standing and support abortion.
League members held their demonstration at a Democratic leadership campaign event at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., near Washington.
Prior to the Missouri primary, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke of St. Louis said he would not give Kerry Communion because of his pro-abortion stance and banned priests from giving pro-abortion politicians the sacrament. Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston has urged pro-abortion Catholic politicians to voluntarily not receive Communion, but he has not banned priests from giving it. Kerry is a member of the Boston archdiocese.
, Feb 12, 2004 (CNA) - At the root of the Anti-Defamation League’s fear regarding “The Passion of the Christ” is that the film “might actually inspire lapsed Christians to return to the faith,” said Catholic League president William Donahue in a press release issued this week.
Donahue said the ADL’s claim that Mel Gibson’s movie may incite violence against Jews after its release, Feb. 25, is unfounded, citing a recent interview he had with leading Passion Play scholar and Columbia University professor James Shapiro.
“No one has raised the specter of violence more than ADL director Abraham Foxman,” he said. Donahue cited several occasions in the press recently, in which Foxman has spoken about the dangers he perceives with the film and its marketing.
In the Feb. 7 issue of the Detroit Free Press, Foxman said historically Passion Plays “rationalized anti-Semitic behavior. We fear this [film] will, too.”
But Donahue said he asked James Shapiro, the nation’s leading scholar on Passion Plays, when was the last time Jews were beaten up after a Passion Play.
“Aside from one Catholic convert in Nazi Germany who was attacked, we have to go back to the Middle Ages to find examples,” Donahue recounted of his conversation with Shapiro. “And in the U.S., there is no record of violence against Jews following any Passion Play. In short, there is no need to call out the National Guard,” he said.
Donahue concluded by referring to the Feb. 7 issue of the Orlando Sentinel, in which Foxman said Gibson’s film “is not being sold as a movie. It’s being sold as a religious experience, as a pilgrimage, as a way back to faith.”
“So this is Foxman’s worst nightmare,” Donahue said. “Gibson’s film might actually inspire lapsed Christians to return to the faith. That says it all.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 12, 2004 (CNA) - The first bishop of the new Diocese of Irapuato, Bishop José de Jesús Martínez Zepeda, assured reporters that beyond the separation of Church and State established by law, both institutions have commonalities on which they can work together.
Speaking to reporters, Bishop Martínez pointed out that “even though our laws establish the separation of Church and State for greater liberty in the exercise of our work, this does not prevent us from having common ground.”
“We understand the principal commonality to be the common good in diverse areas. The common good in all of its aspects is a work which I am willing to foster and collaborate with from my own position, for the development and well-being of our people,” he added.
“Both the Church and the State seek the truth, which has two sources: the natural light of reason, as far as man is able to grasp, see and discover the ways of the Lord through his own efforts; and the natural force of reason, where the Church has another point of view which is that of the Creator, that is, the Maker of man,” he explained.
“I’m not saying there isn’t one truth, or that it contradicts itself, but rather it illuminates, clarifies, proposes areas of knowledge and truth, and guides our journey,” he added.
Bishop Martínez promised to dialogue with local government authorities in order to propose new points of view based on the one truth, “which we all approach from different aspects.”
He added he sees Mexico as a country “full of possibilities, with a precious people that need us to generously unite our efforts and give priority to the interests of the entire nation and not just a select group of individuals.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb 12, 2004 (CNA) - Brazil’s Ministry of Health announced it will distribute 10 million condoms during the annual Carnivals as part of a controversial campaign called “Nothing passes through a condom” in various cities throughout the country. The Ministry of Health, headed up by Humberto Costa, began the deceptive campaign whose supposed objective is “to fight against AIDS and other illnesses” by omitting recent studies which show that the HIV virus leads all other sexually transmitted diseases in its ability to infect despite the use of condoms.
The campaign, which uses the phrase “Have faith in it, use a condom” as its slogan, has been launched with a series of radio adds, and television adds showing a fish swimming in a condom and a man filling a condom with beer to test its durability.
In spite of the pro-condom campaign, Costa admitted that according to a study last year, 15% of sexually active Brazilians do not believe condoms can prevent diseases.
Rome, Italy, Feb 12, 2004 (CNA) - Mothers who belong to the Schoenstatt Movement in Germany are supporting a request of the German Bishops that the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council reject all forms of euthanasia.
The mothers were responding to a proposal by Swiss Representative Dick Marty to legalize euthanasia in the European Union. The proposal has been tabled until spring.
According to the Schoenstatt mothers, “what is important now is that we act in favor of human dignity in all of its stages in life.”
The Schoenstatt mothers explained that many women “experience daily the reality that life is worthy of protection in all its stages. They are committed professionally and ad honorem to the care of the elderly, the infirm, to health assistance for families, and to the hospice movement.”
“Through their work they prove that the desire to die comes from depression and loneliness. They help the dying and gravely ill to endure this stage in life through affectionate companionship and care, and improvement in palliative medical assistance,” they said.
The mothers expressed their solidarity with the German Bishops Conference, which has rejected all forms of euthanasia, and they call on the countries of the EU “to care for and protect the dignity of the infirm and the dying.”
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