Vatican City, Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - During his first open-air audience of the year, Pope John Paul II commented on Psalm 20, “Thanksgiving for the victory of the Messiah-King,” and recalled that the light of God is always present in the midst of humanity.
The Pope said that this psalm, “one of the royal psalms,” expresses the gratitude of the people for “what God has done in favor of the Hebrew sovereign on the solemn day of his enthronement.”
God, he continued, showers blessing on the king who is “a reflection of the light of God in the midst of humanity.”
“When we recite this psalm,” he continued, “we see the face of Christ, the Messiah King in the figure of the Hebrew king. He is the Son of God in the fullest sense and is therefore the presence of God in the midst of humanity.”
The Poe said the Messiah “is the light and the life,” and in this way, “the psalmist announces His resurrection from the dead and that He, risen from the dead, is immortal.”
“Based on this certainty,” he concluded, “Christians cultivate hope in the gift of eternal life.”
Vatican City, Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - During Wednesday’s general audience, addressing pilgrims in Polish, Pope John Paul II recalled that Friday is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, spouse of Our Lady.
“This solemnity,” he said, “urges families of today, comforted by the example of Mary and Joseph, who lovingly cared for the Word Incarnate, to be inspired by their lifestyle when making daily decisions and to gather strength to overcome difficulties.”
“Only in an authentic family, one that is united and loving, can children mature in a healthy way, following the example of unconditional love, fidelity, reciprocal self-giving and respect for life,” he concluded.
Vatican City, Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Magdeburg (Germany) presented by Bishop Leopold Nowak.
In a break from normal protocol, Nowak’s resignation was accepted the very same day he turned 75.
Nowak was one of the three only bishops who opposed the Vatican’s request to disassociate the German episcopate from a complex German legal process that ends up with the Church providing a document that allows a woman to have an abortion.
Vatican City, Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - On Sunday, March 21, at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II will beatify four Servants of God.
The future blessed are Luigi Talamoni (1848-1926), priest, founder of the Congregation of the Merciful Sisters of St. Gerard; Matilde del Sagrado Corazon Tellez Robles (1841-1902), virgin, foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Mother of the Church; Piedad de la Cruz Ortiz Real (1842-1916), virgin, foundress of the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Maria Candida dell’Eucaristia (1884-1949), virgin, nun of the Order of Discalced Carmelites.
Rome, Italy, Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking to reporters in Rome, Jim Caviezel, who plays Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ,” revealed a few details about his audience with Pope John Paul II, whom he said “is a mystic.”
Caviezel said that during the brief meeting he thanked the Pope for his witness and for the profound inspiration the Pope has been for his life. He also thanked to Pope for his Letter to Artists, which he said, has helped him as an actor and a Catholic.
Caviezel said he didn’t recall how much time he spent with the Pope because he was not paying attention to the clock but instead focusing on listening to the Pontiff.
“John Paul II is very special man for a very special world. He is the Pope of Fatima,” Caviezel said, adding, “The Pope is a mystic. He loves Christ.”
Referring to the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” Caviezel questioned reporters about the film: “Is it Protestant? Is it Muslim? Is it Catholic? What do you see? It is very Catholic, very universal. It is a great way to introduce people to what ‘Catholic’ means: It’s universal, for all people and all times.”
Caviezel said filming the movie was an “authentic spiritual experience” and he agreed with those who say that one cannot see the movie and remain indifferent.
He insisted that in portraying Christ, he wanted people not to see him but to see Jesus, and that’s why he began his day with the prayer of the Rosary.
“The Rosary brought me to confession, confession brought me to daily Communion, and when I carried the Eucharist in my body, I felt I was more like Christ,” he said.
Regarding the accusations of anti-Semitism, Caviezel said that as a believer, “I am a semite. It’s my lineage. I come from the house of David and of Abraham.” In addition, he agreed with those who say that if the movie is anti-Semitic, so is the Bible.
The Pope met with Caviezel, his wife and his parents-in-law yesterday at the Vatican, and during the private audience he blessed the actor who stars in “The Passion of the Christ.”
Fr. Ciro Benedettini confirmed that the Holy Father had a brief conversation with the actor and extended his blessing to the entire family.
According to the ANSA news agency, Caviezel was in Rome on Saturday for a private screening of the film organized by the Legionaries of Christ.
The movie premiers April 7 in Italy.
Washington D.C., Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - Today’s teen culture is experiencing a dramatic shift, which seems to be moving toward restraint and responsibility and embracing abstinence and self-respect. Results from a recent survey, conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, indicate that teens are sick of the culture and media, which focus on irresponsible sex and devalue human sexuality.
Practically, these views have translated into a decrease in teen pregnancies in the last 20 years and more teens, male and female of all racial and ethnic groups, abstaining from sex.
The rate of teen pregnancy rose throughout the 1980s, peaking in 1990 at 116.9 per 1,000 girls. In 2000, the rate dropped to 83.6 per 1,000 girls. Survey results also indicate that more than 50 percent of male high school students said they had not engaged in sexual intercourse in 2001, up from 39 percent in less than 10 years.
The survey found that teens were abstaining from sex due to fears of sexually transmitted diseases, welfare reform that no longer provides financial incentives for pregnant teens and aggressive pursuit of child support from young fathers, reported the Washington Times. The abstinence education campaign has also been credited for the decrease of sexual activity.
Teenage girls are also sick of rude references to them in rap music, and want self-respect, reported the newspaper. The survey indicates that teenage boys want the same thing.
In fact, a small pilot program called "Best Men" has been developed to foster this in adolescent boys. It starts in the sixth grade and challenges boys to become "worthy of respect." Best Men is modelled after a successful program for girls, called "Best Friends", which was founded in 1987 by Elayne Bennett.
Both programs promote abstinence from sex, drugs, alcohol and violence, encouraged by peer and parental support, mentoring and classes in physical fitness. When the Best Men were compared with eighth-grade peers in 2002-2003, sexual activity had declined by 20 percent, drug use by 33 percent, alcohol use by 22 percent, reported the Washington Times.
Tallahassee, Fla., Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - State lawmakers passed a parental notice ballot measure in the House yesterday by a vote of 93-25.
If approved by voters in November, lawmakers will have authority to write a law that will change the Florida constitution and require that parents be notified when their minor daughters seek abortions.
The measure was sent to the Senate, which is currently reviewing similar legislation.
Whereas the House legislation doesn't specify how parents would be notified, the Senate legislation says doctors would notify parents of minors seeking abortions at least 48 hours before performing any procedure, except in medical emergencies or by judge's ruling.
Augsburg, Minn., Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - The minority Catholic population of Bosnia-Herzegovina has tried to "live according to the Gospel and to practice love of enemy" despite attempts to wipe out the Catholic Church in the region, underlined Bishop Franjo Komarica of the Diocese of Banja Luka.
The bishop from the small European country made this statement at a congress held recently by the German branch of Aid to the Church in Need.
The prelate said he has seen "a reckless face of Europe" in the last decade, where "the weak ones were walked all over.
“Wherever God is not being honored, man is not being respected," he pointed out. "Such are the consequences of communism and materialism."
He added that, even though there was an attempted “wiping out of the Catholic Church” in the region, he and the people still maintained their faith, thereby becoming “contemporary of true martyrs who lived up to what they taught.”
Among Bosnia-Herzegovina's four million inhabitants, about 40 percent are Muslim, approximately 30 percent Orthodox and about 15 percent Catholic.
Madrid, Spain, Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - Addressing the hundreds of faithful gathered in the Cathedral of Pamplona, Spain, to honor those who lost their lives in last week’s terrorist attacks in Madrid, Archbishop Feranando Sebastián of Pamplona and Tudela called on Spaniards to overcome suffering through their Christian faith.
“Neither hatred, nor violence, or death will have the last word,” said during the Mass which was attended by federal and local government officials, including the Military Commander of Navarre whose son was killed in the attacks.
200 candles were lit and placed in front of the altar, where the Archbishop prayed at the beginning of Mass for the eternal repose of those killed on March 11.
Archbishop Sebastián honored “the memory of those who died as a consequence of the horrible attacks,” and he expressed his “heartfelt affection and complete support for those wounded and for the family members of those who have endured and are continuing to endure their time of anguish.”
He also appealed to Christian faith to overcome the pain because it “tells us that neither hatred, nor violence, nor death will have the last world” “Therefore, overcoming the agony that will still feel in our hearts, we can look to the future with hope,” he added.
“In addition to committing acts which were socially intolerable and completely unacceptable from a political perspective,” he said, “they have committed a grave sin, raising themselves up to be the judges of good and evil and making themselves the arbitrators of life and death, destroying the lives of so many people and increasing the pain of so many families.”
The Archbishop called on the faithful to avoid giving into hatred, saying, “If those who hate us drives us to hate them in return, they will have overcome us morally and will have achieved in accelerating and aggravating the conflicts and confrontations.”
Lastly, he prayed to God “for the victims, dead and wounded” and begged for “comfort and strength for their families and friends.” “We pray for the repentance and moral salvation of those who caused such pain, we pray for acceptance, strength, unity for the whole society, political leaders and public opinion.”
Rome, Italy, Mar 17, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Wei Jingyi of Qigihar, China, has been released 10 days after being arrested, according to sources with the AsiaNews agency.
The bishop was detained on March 5 and freed this past Sunday, although the news was not made public until yesterday.
The communist government of China has not given a reason for the arrest. Bishop Qigihar works with Catholics who are faithful to the Vatican and live out their faith clandestinely in China.