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Archive of March 9, 2004

"Apostolorum Successores": New directory for Bishops

Vatican City, Mar 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Congregation for Bishops has just published "Apostolorum successores," A Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, in answer to the desire expressed during the October 2001 synod on the ministry of the bishop for an updated version of the 1973 Directory, "Ecclesiae imago."

An explanatory note released today explained that "the title is at the root of the ministry of the bishop and well defines his figure and mission in the Church."

The 300-page volume, published in Italian and in the process of being translated into other principal languages, "takes into acccount," says the communique, "the documents of Vatican Council II, the 1983 Code of Canon Law, various pontifical documents published in recent years and above all, the Apostolic Exhortation 'Pastores gregis'."

"The Directory is fundamentally pastoral and practical and is an instrument that aims to help bishops as they undertake their complex ecclesial service to answer the needs of the Church and society today, at the start of the third millennium, marked by challenges and new problems, by great progress and by sudden, unexpected changes. The responsibilities on a bishop's shoulders are great, as are those of society. Many people turn to the bishop for religious life and also to receive light, support and comfort in difficulties, placing on him their problems and their concerns."

"The bishop," affirms the note, "is a father who lives for his children," one who "does everything possible to form consciences and make them grow in the faith."

It then summarizes the volume's nine chapters, which are followed by a conclusion and a look at a "sede vacante," or vacant see: the causes, procedures to follow during a vacant see, electing a diocesan administrator and other aspects.

Chapters I through III highlight the identity and mission of the bishop, his concern for the Universal Church and episcopal collegiality. Chapter III, entirely new with respect to the previous directory, regards the spirituality and permanent formation of the bishop, reminding him of "his path towards holiness in pastoral charity" and outlining the "theological virtues and human gifts that must support a bishop in his pastoral ministry."

Chapter IV "illustrates several basic principles that must guide the pastoral governing of the bishops, such as the principles of truth, collaboration, respect for jurisdictions, of the right person in the right place, of justice and legality."

Chapters V through VII deal with the ministry of the bishop in the Particular Church and are articulated according to the triple "munus," the three duties of a bishop: to teach, to sanctify and to govern.

Chapter VIII deals with the parish, giving guidelines for spiritual assistance, the diocesan pastoral plan, and a bishop's pastoral visit, as well as a look at particular problems associated with ministries in large cities, for example.

Also entirely new is Chapter IX which regards the bishop emeritus, whose rights and duties are outlined with respect to the Universal Church and the Particula r Church.

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Documents reveal Roe v. Wade nearly overturned in 1992

Washington D.C., Mar 9, 2004 (CNA) - Recently found documents reveal that Roe v. Wade was nearly overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 1992, reported Talon News yesterday.

Evidence of this was found in the pages of the personal notes of the late Justice Harry Blackmun, who served on the Supreme Court for 24 years. Though his notes were officially released to the public on the fifth anniversary of his death in 1999, these new papers were only released March 4.

In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Chief Justice William Rehnquist had an apparent 5-4 majority that would have reversed the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Justices Byron White, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy were expected to join Rehnquist in the majority, reported Talon News.

However, while Rehnquist was working on the majority ruling, Kennedy decided he needed to deliberate further on the case.

"I need to see you as soon as you have a few free moments," Kennedy wrote to Blackmun in the note. "I want to tell you about a new development in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and at least part of what I say should come as welcome news."

Blackmun, who wrote the original ruling in the case of Roe v. Wade, simply responded: "Roe sound."

No other written correspondence between Kennedy and Blackmun regarding this case is documented. However, the final ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey allowed abortion rights to be freely given without excessive limitations imposed by the states, reported Talon News.

Ironically, Kennedy joined Rehnquist, Thomas, and Scalia in their dissent of the Carhart v. Stenburg ruling in 2000, which overturned a Nebraska law against partial-birth abortions, Talon News pointed out, suggesting that perhaps Kennedy would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade if the opportunity presented itself again.

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Four new appointed Bishops for United States

Vatican City, Mar 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop Robert Joseph McManus, auxiliary of the diocese of Providence, U.S.A., as bishop of Worcester (area 3,966, population 762,207, Catholics 390,207, priests 373, religious 650), U.S.A. He succeeds Bishop Daniel Patrick Reilly whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Msgr. Robert Joseph Cunningham, pastor of St. Louis Parish and diocesan administrator of the diocese of Buffalo, U.S.A. as bishop of Ogdensburg (area 31,161, population 462,000, Catholics 143,700, priests 143, permanent deacons 55, religious 175), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Buffalo in 1943 and was ordained a priest in 1969.

- Appointed Bishop Timothy Anthony McDonnell, auxiliary of the archdiocese of New York, U.S.A., as bishop of Springfield in Massachusetts (area 7,306, population 790,000, Catholics 251,311, religious 195, permanent deacons 58, religious 619), U.S.A.

- Appointed Msgr. Robert W. Finn, of the clergy of the archdiocese of St. Louis, and director of the diocesan magazine "St. Louis Review," as coadjutor bishop of Kansas City-Saint Joseph (area 39,946, population 1,394,054, Catholics 141,900, priests 204, permanent deacons 53, religious 437), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in St. Louis in 1953 and was ordained a priest in 1979.

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Mary Ann Glendon is appointed President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

Vatican City, Mar 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Pope John Paul II appointed American professor Mary Ann Glendon as the new president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

Glendon, 65, is a professor of law at Harvard University in USA.  One of the most influential American Catholic intellectuals, she became very known by her fervent defense of the unborn when she headed the Holy See Delegation to the 4th U.N. Women's Conference in Beijing in 1995.

Glendon was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and has been a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences since its creation in 1994.
She has developed researches in several areas, including human rights, bioethics and constitutional law. She is also a member of President Bush's Council on Bioethics.

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Archdiocese of Lima proposes spiritual preparation before seeing “The Passion”

Lima, Peru, Mar 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Lima is encouraging the faithful to see “The Passion of the Christ,” which will premier in that country on March 18.  He also recommends that Catholics prepare spiritually for the film and gather together afterwards for discussion.

The letter is addressed to pastors, rectors, religious superiors, leaders of different lay movements, school principals and the faithful in general.  It recalls that the Press Office of the Holy See has confirmed that the film is “a cinematographic adaptation of the historical fact of the Passion of Jesus Christ according to the Gospel accounts.”

It also underscores that “renowned film critics have emphasized the movie’s high technical quality, majestic photography and impeccable acting.  But for us the most important aspect is that the film is recognized for its profound catholicity.”

“It takes the Gospels as historic, recognizes the divinity of Jesus as well as his complete humanity, and graphically illustrates his moving capacity to suffer in expiation for the sins of the world.  Lastly, it has a strong Eucharistic tone and a constant and marked Marian presence,” the letter says.

The letter emphasizes that “this is a movie that will make our Lent and Easter a time of profound conversion and growth in holiness.”

“The premier will be an occasion for us to go and see the film, as well as to invite many people to live the experience of seeing a well-produced work that seeks to reflect the historical events of the Passion and death of the Lord.”

“How wonderful if each community could go to see it as a group, and beforehand people could spend a half an hour before the Blessed Sacrament, and afterwards meet together to share experiences in a context of faith and love for the Lord, who gave his life on the cross to save us,” the letter concludes.

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Exorcism ministry established to deal with demonic possessions in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 9, 2004 (CNA) - In the face of increasing numbers of demonic possessions, the Diocese of Querétaro, Mexico, has created an Exorcism Ministry, headed up by Fr. Salvador Espinosa Medina, vicar general of the diocese.

According to a spokesman, the ministry was created as a result of “the increase in phenomenon related to victims of spells, possessions, obsessions and oppressions.”

 Bishop Mario de Gasperín of Querétaro issued a letter instructing priests to immediately report suspected cases of demonic possession to the Ministry.

He also requested that pastors who suspect demonic activity in a particular event listen to the persons that are affected before sending them to the exorcists, so that they can get to know and collaborate in their spiritual cure.

In the last five years the Diocese of Querétaro has registered more than 400 cases of diabolic possession.

Most of these were the result of experimentation with activities such as sorcery, tarot cards, and ouija boards.

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Fall River gears up for centennial celebrations

Fall River, Mass., Mar 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Diocese of Fall River will mark its 100th anniversary with a mass of thanksgiving at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption March 14.

Bishop George W. Coleman will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the 3 p.m. mass. A dinner at White’s of Westport will follow.

Because the cathedral has a seating capacity of about 750, admission is by ticket only. Leaders and representatives of each of the 101 parishes have been invited, along with the mayors of cities in the diocese and other faith groups in the area, and representatives of different apostolates and ministries.

"This centennial mass offers us an appropriate opportunity to thank God for his many blessings to the Fall River Diocese over these past 100 years," Bishop Coleman said.

Active and retired priests, who minister in the diocese, and visiting bishops will concelebrate the mass. Two former bishops of Fall River – Boston Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley and Archbishop-emeritus Daniel A. Cronin of Hartford – will participate. Providence Bishop Robert Mulvee will also attend.

Fr. Barry W. Wall of Holy Rosary Parish, who is the diocesan archivist, has written a history of the diocese for the centennial celebration.

The 128-page book includes a history of the diocese prior to its establishment by Pope St. Pius X March 12, 1904. From 1808 to 1872, it was part of the Boston Archdiocese, and from 1872 to 1904, it was part of the Providence Diocese.

The book, which will be available in every parish, chronicles the growth of the diocese in the second half of the 19th century after large numbers of French Canadians and Irish settled in the region. Italian and Polish Catholics in considerable numbers also arrived in the late 19th century, and the Portuguese arrived around the turn of the 20th century.

The first French Canadian parish was St. Anne’s Parish, dedicated in 1870. Founded in 1892, Santo Christo Church was the first Portuguese church.

St. Mary’s, now the cathedral, was an Irish Catholic parish dedicated around 1836. The original church was a small wooden structure that was called St. John the Baptist Church. Dedicated in 1855, the existing St. Mary’s Cathedral was built when Fr. Edward Murphy was pastor.

Centennial celebrations began last fall with the enthronement of an icon, representative of the centennial theme, "The Spirit Gives Life" (Jn 6:63).

In December, the faithful were invited to participate in "100 Days of Prayer," leading up to the March 12 anniversary date.

Other centennial activities include a diocesan pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi, Italy, in April and an outdoor Centennial Rosary Celebration at LaSalette Shrine in Attleboro in October.

The territory of Fall River Diocese covers 1,194 square miles. In 1904, there were 44 parishes serving about 130,000 Roman Catholics. Today, there are 346,000 Roman Catholics who worship in 101 parishes.

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Catholic Church in Russia ‘emerges from the ashes of atheism,’ bishop says

Konigstein, Germany, Mar 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in Russia "is going through a phase of rebirth," which is being led by the youth, says Bishop Clemens Pickel of St. Clement Diocese in Saratow, Southern Russia.

The bishop spoke during the congress "Meeting point: Universal Church" held by the German section of Aid to the Church in Need, from March 5 to 7, in Augsburg, Bavaria.

Bishop Pickel, a German national, explained that the Catholic Church is growing, but "not at the expense of others." She "emerges from the ashes of atheism," he said.

Bishop Pickel’s heartfelt concern is the pastoral work among youth. "Young people are the first to come to church,” he said. “If they persevere in this practice, their parents frequently start coming as well."

Currently, 40 priests and 50 sisters are active in his diocese. "I'm often under the impression that our poor priests and religious are moving from one place to another like firemen,” he said. “What's lacking is a system."

St. Clement Diocese has about 25,000 Catholics. A new cathedral was built with space for 100 people. Its former cathedral had been converted in a cinema.

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