Archive of March 24, 2004

Pope recalls World’s consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Vatican City, Mar 24, 2004 (CNA) - During today’s general audience, on the eve of the feast of the Annunciation, Pope John Paul recalled he has entrusted the Church, the world and mankind to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, responding to Our Lady’s plea in Fatima.

Our Lady’s “fiat” or “yes” in the moment of the Annunciation, said the Pope, “echoes that of the Word Incarnate” to which we must add “our ‘yes’ with respect to God’s mysterious plans. Only through full adhesion to the divine will do true joy and peace flourish, which we all hope for ardently for our times.”

John Paul then recalled the three moments in his pontificate when he entrusted the Church, the world and mankind to Mary: December 8, 1978 when he entrusted the Church and world to her; June 4, 1979, renewing this vow at the shrine of the Black Madonna in Poland and again in 1984.

“I remember especially March 25, 1984, the Holy Year.  Twenty years have gone by since that day when in spiritual union with all the bishops of the world I entrusted all of mankind to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in response to Our Lady’s plea in Fatima,” he said.

After emphasizing that “in those moments humanity was living difficult times of great apprehension and uncertainty,” he added.

“Twenty years later –the Pontiff continued, - the world is still marred by hatred, violence, terrorism and war. Among the many victims that make the news every day, there are so many innocent people who are killed while they carry out their work. Today, which is dedicated to commemoration and prayer for the ‘martyr missionaries’, we must also commemorate the priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful who died in mission territory in 2003.”

“So much blood continues to be shed in many regions around the world. It is still urgent that men open their hearts to a courageous effort of reciprocal understanding. The wait for justice and peace becomes longer and longer in every part of the world. How can we respond to this thirst for hope and love if not with Christ through Mary?”

The Pope concluded by repeating his petition to Our Lady in 1984:  “Mother of Christ, may the infinite saving power of the Redemption, power of divine love, reveal itself once again in the history of the world! May it stop evil! May it transform our consciences! May the light of hope in your Immaculate heart be revealed to us all!”

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Pope’s new book to be released on May 18

Vatican City, Mar 24, 2004 (CNA) - The latest book written by John Paul II, entitled “Rise, Let Us Be Going,” recalling his life experience as a bishop, will be release  in Italian on May 18th by Mondadori Publishers, the Vatican announced today.

Mondadori also announced that by the same date, which coincides  with the Pope’s 84th birthday,  they expect the book to also be available on that date time in English, French, Spanish and German.

The title of the book is taken from Jesus’ words in the Gospel according to Mark (14:42) and refers to the passage in which He speaks to Peter, James and John in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to being arrested.

The book is 200 pages long and contains more than 40 short chapters.

The Pope, who wrote part of the book by hand and dictated part of it, narrates the twenty years of his ministry as bishop, from his ordination in 1958 up to his election to the pontificate in 1978. 

“It is a collection of memories and reflections on the events of that period,” said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, during the conference.

Navarro-Valls also said that John Paul II wrote this book between March and August of 2003.

A heavy work load for the Holy Father, leaving him little time to review it and make any revisions or additions, as well as demands of the editorial process, delayed its publication until this year, he explained.

After the publication of the book on priesthood on the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, the Pope welcomed suggestions, according to Navarro-Valls, that he write another book about his pastoral experience as a bishop.

A representative of Mondadori Publishers, which is responsible for the Italian edition of the book, recalled the success of the Pope’s book, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” which sold 20 million copies.

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Pope set to release new document on the liturgy

Vatican City, Mar 24, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger revealed this Monday that Pope John Paul II has already signed the Latin version of a new document on the liturgy, which will probably be made public during the Easter Season.

The document is an updated compilation of diverse norms published by the Holy See in order to assure an adequate and dignified celebration of the Mass.  The necessity of such a document was underscored by the Pope in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia:  “Our time, too, calls for a renewed awareness and appreciation of liturgical norms as a reflection of, and a witness to, the one universal Church made present in every celebration of the Eucharist. Priests who faithfully celebrate Mass according to the liturgical norms, and communities which conform to those norms, quietly but eloquently demonstrate their love for the Church. Precisely to bring out more clearly this deeper meaning of liturgical norms, I have asked the competent offices of the Roman Curia to prepare a more specific document, including prescriptions of a juridical nature, on this very important subject.”

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Suffering can lead to self-knowledge, intimacy with God, panelists say

Denver, Colo., Mar 24, 2004 (CNA) - The power of "The Passion of the Christ" is its effectiveness in helping people understand that their personal suffering, when united to Christ’s, can lead to self-knowledge and a greater intimacy with God.

That was part of the message four panelists shared at a public forum on Denver's Auraria Campus March 18. The forum, sponsored by the local Christian Life Movement, invited participants to consider Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" and suffering in the contemporary world.

Four Catholic speakers gave presentations and answered questions about suffering prior to the viewing of a video on the making of the film.

Fr. Andreas Hoeck addressed suffering from a biblical perspective. The professor of sacred Scripture at Denver's St. John Vianney Theological Seminary explained how thoughts on suffering have evolved in the Old Testament. He pointed out that in the Book of Genesis, suffering is seen as a consequence of sin, and in Ezekiel, suffering is a means of atonement for sin, reported the Denver Catholic Register.

Fr. Hoeck said each of the major views of suffering in the Hebrew Scriptures is important to consider when reflecting on Christ's suffering.

"Suffering finds its full meaning in the person of Christ," who suffered on behalf of all humanity for the atonement of all sin, said Fr. Hoeck, adding that Jesus' Passion and death were the fullest expression of God's love, reported the Register.

Mimi Eckstein addressed Mel Gibson’s film from a psychological perspective. The director of the archdiocese's Respect Life Office said the film has impacted recent discourse on suffering because of how it affects the viewer, evoking “compassion, respect, and even awe," reported the Register.

Modern psychology alone, without faith, cannot give an effective answer to the question of human suffering, she added.

Francis Maier commented on the film’s successful portrayal of the details of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death. The chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver said the beauty of Gibson's film is that "it gives you an intimate taste that suffering is a doorway to something much, much more," reported the Register.

José Ambrozic, director of the St. Malo Retreat and Conference Center, spoke on the overall meaning of suffering. Although people tend to avoid suffering, Ambrozic said, a solution to the “problem” of suffering can only be found in "understanding the part suffering plays in our lives," not in avoiding it. 

The panelists encouraged participants to shift their views of suffering and see it as a “potentially great and redeeming treasure,” reported the Register. Although suffering is not desirable in itself, they said, individual suffering, when united to Christ's, can lead to self-knowledge and intimacy with God.

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US Bishops to begin "ad Limina" visit to the Vatican Next Week

Vatican City, Mar 24, 2004 (CNA) - The first group of U.S. bishops will  arrive here on  March 28   for their “Ad Limina Apostolorum” visit, the once-every-five-years trip bishops must make to the Vatican.

The "Ad Limina Apostolorum" (Latin for "to the tombs of the Apostles") visit brings together bishops with the Holy Father and with the Vatican dicasteries, and helps to evaluate the state of both a nation's episcopate as well as each particular diocese.

Given the size of the American episcopacy (over 3,000 bishops), the visit of the US bishops will take place in smaller, regional groups over the next 10 months, starting by the South east region.

In preparation for the Ad Limina visit, each bishop must prepare a rather exhaustive report of the pastoral state of his diocese, and each specific part of the report is sent by the Congregation of Bishops to the appropriate dicastery: family issues will go to the Pontifical Council for the Family, doctrinal issues will go to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and so on.

Although the ad Limina visit is a spiritual pilgrimage to the sepulchers of the Apostles Peter and Paul, it is also an occasion for the Holy Father to address issues specifically related to the episcopate. In fact, each groups' visit ends with a public audience in which the Pope addresses his pastoral concerns and recommendations.

By the time the last group of U.S. bishops leaves Rome, the Holy Father will have delivered a set of discourses that mark the pastoral route for the next five years.

It is predictable that during this year's visit the issue of sex abuse will have a central role. But other issues also are in the agenda, some that the Pope addressed five years ago:

- The protection of life "from conception to its natural end" and the responsibility of the laity, especially of Catholic politicians.

- Catholic education, in particular Catholic colleges and the application of the Pope's apostolic exhortation "Ex Corde Ecclesiae."

-  The renewal of the liturgy.

-   The legal and pastoral protection of marriage and family.

- The promotion and sound formation of priestly vocations, as well as the renovation of the seminaries.

-  The bishop's role as source of doctrinal unity.

- The renewal of parish life.

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University students to gather in Rome for youth forum

Washington D.C., Mar 24, 2004 (CNA) - University students from all over the world will have the opportunity to “bridge evangelism with intellectualism and religious values” at the Eighth International Youth Forum in Rome, March 31 to April 4. The theme of the forum, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, is "Youth and University: Witnessing to Christ in the University World.”

Michael Galligan-Stierle, assistant secretary for Catholic Higher Education and Campus Ministry, says the forum will give young people the opportunity to bridge faith with the “barrage of ideas students encounter in the university setting,” reported the USCCB Web site.

Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard University law professor who was recently appointed to the Vatican Academy of Social Science, will address the students. There will also be a number of assemblies and panel discussions on topics related to student life and experience.

The USCCB’s Department of Education has already selected a delegation of students from across the country. Events will include preparations for World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany next year.

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Jewish-Christian surveys show ‘Passion’ not generating anti-Semitism

San Francisco, Calif., Mar 24, 2004 (CNA) - According to two recent surveys, “The Passion of the Christ” has not caused an increase in anti-Semitic sentiment among Americans nor has it caused an increase in the number of Americans who blame Jews today for the death of Jesus.

The surveys were conducted at the beginning of March, one week after the film was released, in light of the claims made by the Anti-Defamation League and others that Mel Gibson’s film about Christ’s Passion and crucifixion is anti-Semitic.

The first survey was conducted by the San Francisco-based @CROSS: No blame,  Institute for Jewish and Community Research. The survey included about 1,000 randomly chosen respondents. Some respondents had not seen the film but were familiar with its details.

Of those surveyed, 83 percent said the film has not caused them to blame Jews today for the death of Jesus. Nine percent said the film made them even less prone to see Jews today as responsible for the crucifixion and only two percent said they now felt a greater tendency to blame the Jews for killing Jesus.

Similar findings also emerged from a survey conducted by the Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

A large majority of the 2,500 respondents in the Internet survey said all of humanity is responsible for Christ's death. Only 1.7 percent said they blame the Jews for the crucifixion.

Orthodox Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who heads the Fellowship, says the data proves that American Christians have abandoned the idea that Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus.

"They have a far deeper and more nuanced understanding of Scripture than many Jewish leaders give them credit for," he said.

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Colombian senator plans trip to Peru to promote “homosexual rights”

, Mar 24, 2004 (CNA) - Piedad Cordoba, a liberal senator from Colombia, has announced that during an upcoming visit to Peru she will take the opportunity to promote homosexual “rights” in the country.

Córdoba, who last year sponsored a bill to make homosexual unions equivalent to marriage in Colombia, will participate as a speaker in an international seminar called, “Sexual Diversity and Human Rights—New Contributions to Civic Inclusion,” which will take place March 24-26.

The event has sparked controversy in Peru as hundreds of young people have protested the decision by the country’s National Youth Committe to promote the gathering, which seeks to secure legal status for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transexuals.

The seminar is being organized by the Gender Studies Program of the University of St. Mark and the Homosexual Movement of Lima, with the sponsorship of the British Embassy in Peru.  The meeting seeks to bring together homosexual activits and lawmakers from around the world who have successfully worked for special rights for homosexuals to the detriment of marriage. 

According to Colombian homosexual groups supporting Senator Cordoba, “a group of activists is preparing a bill that would grant rights to same-sex couples” and “spark a wide national debate on thie issue” in Colombia beginning July 20.  “The details of the plan,” say homosexual activists, “will be made known in Lima by Senator Piedad Cordoba.”

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