Archive of February 24, 2004

Pope hopes that Catholic Church will enjoy full freedom in Mexico

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II said this morning that “it is to be hoped that the Church in Mexico will be able to enjoy full freedom in all areas where she develops her pastoral and social mission.”

In his message to Javier Moctezuma Barragan, the new ambassador from Mexico to the Holy See, the Holy Father underscored the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the Holy See in September 1992.

“Over the years, marked by rapid and deep changes in the political, social and economic spheres of the country, the Catholic Church, faithful to her own pastoral mission, has continued promoting the common good of the Mexican people, seeking dialogue and understanding with diverse public institutions and defending her right to participate in national life,” he said.

In this sense, the Pope stressed that “the Church does not seek privileges nor does she wish to be in spheres not proper to her, but rather desires to fulfill her mission in favor of the spiritual and human good of the Mexican people without barriers or impediments.”

“Thus, it is necessary that State institutions guarantee the right to religious freedom of persons and groups, avoiding all forms of intolerance or discrimination. In this sense, it is to be hoped that in a not too distant future, … steps will be taken to advance in areas such as religious education in diverse milieux, spiritual assistance in health care, social and welfare centers in the public sector, as well as a presence in the media,” he added.

The Pope also recalled that the first foreign apostolic trip of his pontificate was to Mexico 25 years ago. He noted that in October 2004 the 48th International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Guadalajara.

“One must never give in,” the Pope said, “to the pretences of those who, having an erroneous concept of the principle of Church-State-separation and of the lay character of the State, aim to reduce religion to a merely private sphere for the individual, not recognizing the Church’s right to teach her doctrine and to give moral judgments about matters that affect the social order.”

Turning to the question of “building a democratic culture and consolidating the state of law,” John Paul II noted that “recently the Mexican bishops…made a pressing appeal for national unity and dialogue among the leaders of social life.”

He highlighted “the sad and vast problem of poverty,” calling it “an urgent challenge for politicians and leaders in the public sector. Its eradication requires means of both a technical and political nature” but “one must never forget that these means will be insufficient if not animated by authentic ethical values. A model of development that does not decisively confront social imbalances cannot prosper in the future.”

The Holy Father dedicated closing remarks to the many indigenous peoples in Mexico, asking that special attention be devoted to them “for they are often relegated to the realm of the forgotten.”

He also expressed concern for the “growing phenomenon of migration of Mexicans to other countries, especially the United States,” noting how negatively this affects families. The causes of emigration “must be found and remedied,” he said, and “Mexicans residing abroad must never feel forgotten by the nation’s leaders.”

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Holy See proposes treatment by experts to prevent sexual misconduct by priests

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2004 (CNA) - The Pontifical Academy for Life published yesterday a report containing the reflections of a study group convened by the Holy See to tackle the problem of sexual misconduct by priests.  The report states that the help of experts in diverse areas is necessary to address the problem.

The report contains the results of a scientific symposium which took place in April of 2003 and was entitled, “Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church—Legal and Scientific Perspectives.”

According to the Holy See, rehabilitation with psychologists and psychiatrists can offer useful means to prevent cases of misconduct and to protect victims.

The symposium of 2003 brought together experts in the field from the US, Canada, and Germany, as well as therapists who specialize in helping those who suffer from this problem to recover.

Representatives from various Vatican dicasteries, such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Congregation for Clergy, among others, also attended the event.

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Ebert and Roeper give Gibson film ‘two thumbs way up’

Chicago, Ill., Feb 24, 2004 (CNA) - The renowned film-reviewing duo, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, has given Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of The Christ” their highest trademark rating: two thumbs way up.

The pair offered an early review of the movie, which will hit theaters Feb. 25, on their syndicated series “Ebert & Roeper.”

“This is the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film,” said Roeper, calling Gibson “a masterful storyteller.”  

Ebert said it is the only religious movie he has even seen, with the exception of “The Gospel According to St. Matthew”, “that really seems to deal with what actually happened.”

The movie “focuses relentlessly on the price that Christ paid for redemption and it emphasizes that Jesus wanted this to happen,” said Ebert. “His death was the instrument of his purpose, and we should be grateful to him instead of critical of those who were the instruments of his will.

“I don't think the movie is anti-Semitic,” said Ebert, addressing the film’s controversy that has swept the media. Roeper added that the movie “does not blame all Jews past and present for the death of Jesus.”

“Christ was born as a Jew, his disciples were Jewish,” said Ebert. “Yes, some Jewish priests call for his death. They were threatened by his assault on their establishment. … Most of the Jews in this movie are horrified by what they see.”

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Holy See announces busy papal schedule for coming weeks

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2004 (CNA) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff published today the calendar of celebrations that are scheduled to be presided over by the Holy Father until April.

The schedule includes Ash Wednesday, a celebration of the word in the Vatican Basilica at 10:30 a.m., with blessing and distribution of ashes.

This Saturday, February 28, the Pope will preside at Mass at 6 p.m. in Paul VI Hall with the following Roman parishes: St. Anselm, St. Mary, Star of Evangelization, St. Charles Borromeo, St. John the Baptist de la Salle.  And on Sunday, February 29, the first Sunday in Lent, the Roman Curia will begin their spiritual exercises in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel. The retreat ends on March 6.

The March schedule includes the following activities:

·      Saturday, 13. At 6:30 p.m. in the Paul VI Hall, Rosary with university students.

·      Saturday, 20. In the Paul VI Hall at 6 p.m., Mass with the following Roman parishes: St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Patrick, St. Mary Mediatrix and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

·      Sunday, 21: Fourth Sunday in Lent.  At 9:30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Beatification of Servants of God Luigi Talamoni, Matilde del Sagrado Corazon Tellez Robles, Piedad de la Cruz Ortiz Real, Maria Candida dell’Eucaristia.

·      Saturday, 27. At 6 p.m. in the Paul VI Hall, Mass with the following Roman parishes: St. John of the Cross, St. Felicity and Sts. Chrysanthus and Daria.

And in April, the Pope will preside at:

·      Sunday, 4: Palm Sunday, 19th World Youth Day in St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m. Blessing of palms, procession and Mass.

·      Thursday, 8: Holy Thursday. Chrism Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 9:30 a.m.  At 5:30 p.m., also in the Vatican Basilica, the beginning of the Easter Triduum with the Mass of the Last Supper.

·      Friday, 9: Good Friday. In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m., Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. At 9:15 p.m. in the Colosseum, Way of the Cross.

·      Saturday, 10: Holy Saturday.  In the Vatican Basilica at 7 p.m., Easter Vigil.

·      Sunday, 11: Easter Sunday. In St. Peter’s Square at 10:30 a.m., Mass and “Urbi et Orbi” blessing.

·      Sunday, 25: Third Sunday of Easter. In St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m., Beatification of Servants of God Augusto Czartoryski, Laura Montoya, Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, Julia Nemesia Valle, Eusebia Palomino Yenes and Alexandrina Maria da Costa.

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Defending marriage protects children and families: Archbishop Chaput

Denver, Colo., Feb 24, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Charles J. Chaput urged people to wake up, organize and act in order to defend the legal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman for the sake of raising a family.

“Our goal in defending marriage is to defend children and families, … [and] to ensure that we have a healthy future as a people,” said the archbishop of Denver at the "Stand Up for Marriage" rally Feb. 20 on the west steps of the state capitol.

“The Church; nor any individual or couple; nor any court or civil authority, has the right or the power to change its definition,” he said.

The morning rally was organized by State Rep. Kevin Lundberg, who, along with fellow Republican Sen. Steve Johnson, introduced a resolution in the Statehouse in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, which defends the traditional definition of marriage.

Lundberg said the rally was organized to give everyday Coloradans the chance to stand up and be heard on this issue.

"The courts have already set in motion the legal logic that will redefine the family," Lundberg said. "Our only option is to clearly establish the true meaning of marriage in the U.S. Constitution.”

The archbishop said the challenges to the natural meaning of marriage are “very real, very damaging, and our children and families will pay a very costly price as a result.

“Stable family life flows from the love of one man and one woman in marriage. If we undermine this understanding of marriage, we undermine the family,” he continued. “And in doing that, we harm ourselves and our children in ways we can't fully imagine.”

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Belgian bishop warns of risks to children adopted by homosexuals

Madrid, Spain, Feb 24, 2004 (CNA) - During a conference which took place at the University of Navarre in Spain, Bishop André Léonard of Namur, Belgium, explained that the adoption of the children by homosexual couples implies an injustice because it provokes “an anti-natural situation which will not be healthy for the child’s development.”

After underscoring that it is difficult that all children grow up in an ideal family environment, Bishop Léonard said this anomalous situation should be resolved.  “What is not just is to provoke an anti-natural situation which will not be healthy for the child’s development.  His reference points become destabilized, and we willfully disturb the foundation of society and jeopardize its future,” he said.

Bishop Leonard added that “we cannot call marriage that which is not.  We must respect the meaning of words and their nature, and marriage has always meant ‘a stable union between man and woman.’  If two men or two women want to live together under legal protection, fine, but they should not be treated legally equal as a true marriage.”

Likewise, in reference to experimentation with adult stem cells, Bishop Leonard underscored that “today they are the most promising,” while “those from embryos carry the danger that they many be carcinogenic, and the multiplying of these cells is still not controllable.”  “And yet embryonic stem cells are exploited to show the omnipotence of science.”

According to the Belgian prelate, the Church is not opposed to progress but rather “takes a more realistic position and shows more respect to the constitution of the human person.”  “We are not things, we were all once embryos,” he emphasized.

As an expert in Metaphysics, Bishop Leonard affirmed, on the other hand, that today we are living “an individualism that is of a practical and not a philosophical nature.  There is no philosophy that is articulated, it’s a vitalistic individualism, almost irrational.”  “The heresies of today are not as intelligent as those of the first centuries of the Church,” he added.

Lastly, referring to the loss of faith in Europe, Bishop Leonard indicated that “there are thousands of reasons to despair, but there are hundreds of thousands of motives to be hopeful.”

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Cubans mourn passing of Auxiliary Bishop of Havana

Havana, Cuba, Feb 24, 2004 (CNA) - Yesterday thousands of people attended the funeral rites for Auxiliary Bishop Salvador Riverón of Havana, who died Sunday at 55 years of age from advanced cancer.

Bishop Riverón was hospitalized a week ago due to his critical health, according to the Cuban Bishops.

Visitation took place in the Cathedral of Havana, where later Cardinal Jaime Ortega celebrated the Mass of Requiem.

Bishop Riverón was born in Camaguey on July 7, 1948, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1982.

He was named Auxiliary Bishop of Havana on April 24, 1999, by Pope John Paul II.

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Cincinnati archbishop says homosexuals should be protected from discrimination

Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb 24, 2004 (CNA) - In a move to protect homosexuals from discrimination, the Archbishop of Cincinnati has joined more than 40 religious leaders of all faiths in supporting the repeal of an amendment, which prohibits City Council from passing rights laws for homosexuals.

Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk called the amendment morally wrong. His support for the repeal was announced yesterday.

"I believe now, as I believed at the time of its passage (in 1993), that Article XII is as detrimental to the public good as the ordinance that it invalidated," he wrote in the diocesan newspaper, Catholic Telegraph.

"Homosexual behavior is not tolerated by the Church," he wrote. "But homosexuals still should be protected from discrimination."

The archbishop added that he still opposes blanket rights for homosexuals because it makes "homosexual behavior as legally acceptable as heterosexual behavior."

State Rep. Tom Brinkman Jr., who serves on the campaign to keep Article XII, said the archbishop misunderstands the amendment and added that it is “completely consistent with Church teaching.”

“It does not discriminate, nor does it give special treatment to homosexuals. It has always been equal rights — not special rights," said the Catholic Republican. 

Cincinnati is the only city in the United States with such an amendment.

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