Archive of March 25, 2004

Ave Maria University to build one of largest Catholic churches in U.S.

Naples, Fla., Mar 25, 2004 (CNA) - Ave Maria University announced plans yesterday to build one of the largest Catholic churches in the United States – the Oratory of Ave Maria. The church will become the spiritual and physical centerpiece for the first new major Catholic university in the U.S. in 40 years. It will also serve as a church for the Town of Ave Maria.

The designs show that the glass, steel and aluminum structure will rise 150 feet above Ave Maria University campus.

Designed by Cannon Design, the 60,000-square-foot oratory uses 3,000 tons of structural steel to form delicate arches, similar to European Gothic cathedrals, that appear to spring from the building's stone foundation. Its aluminum and glass exterior will filter and suffuse natural daylight into the main sanctuary and nave.

The church, measuring 300 feet long and 150 feet wide, will seat more than 3,300 people, giving it the largest seating capacity of any Catholic church in the U.S. The exterior wall at the entrance will feature a 60-foot red-tinted glass cross, with a 40-foot corpus. Inside, the sanctuary features another large crucifix.

The lower level of the oratory will house the Perpetual Adoration Chapel, containing 14 confessionals, one for each station of the cross. Also located beneath the sanctuary will be burial crypts and columbaria, or small crypts, designed to hold ashes.

The university campus and oratory are to be completed in 2006 on a 1,000-acre site, located between Immokalee and Naples.

Plans for Ave Maria University were first announced in November 2002.

The university’s 122 students, who are in their second semester, are currently using a 12-acre interim campus near the Vineyards area of Naples.

Seed money for the university has been provided by Thomas S. Monaghan, Domino's Pizza Founder and former owner of the Detroit Tigers, who is also the university’s chairman.

"It is only fitting that at a Catholic institution, where Faith is at the core of all we do, the dominant building be a church," Monaghan said. "This Oratory will be a center for the campus and the town, a constant reminder of why we are there."

The church will also have an oval-shaped plaza on its grounds, which will connect the university campus to the Town of Ave Maria.

The detailed plans were unveiled yesterday as part of a two-day celebration for the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of the Incarnate God.

As part of the celebrations, Ave Maria University hosted the Vatican Choir of the Basilica of St. Peter in a special performance of sacred and classical choral music yesterday evening at the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts.

An inaugural mass was held today at 10 a.m., on the grounds of the future permanent campus.

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Pope speaks about European Unity after receiving Charlemagne Award

Vatican City, Mar 25, 2004 (CNA) - The city of Aachen (Germany) bestowed upon Pope John Paul II an extraordinary edition of the International Charlemagne Award, a prestigious award given annually by the city for distinguished service on behalf of European unity.

The award was bestowed upon the Holy Father on Wednesday afternoon at the Vatican by Jurgen Linden, the mayor of Aachen and by Walter Evershein, president of the executive council of the Charlemagne Award.

The Aachen Cathedral Choir performed at both the opening and the conclusion of the ceremony.

The award is named for the first Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, viewed as a symbol of European unity due to the vast expanse of his kingdom, which included several modern-day European countries.

The award has been given every year since 1950.

The committee which announced the award on January 22 cited the Pope’s “extraordinary contribution to the process of European integration, but also his particular effort to exert an influence from Europe on the shaping of the world order.” His role in bringing down the Iron Curtain that once divided the continent was also noted.

Upon receiving the award, Pope John Paul addressed the assembly in German, sharing his vision of European unity.

“Aware that the union of Europe means much to the Catholic Church, you have come to pay homage to the Successor of Peter” with this prize “which, for good reason, takes the name of the Emperor Charlemagne,” the Pontiff said.

“In fact, the king of the Franks, whose kingdom had Aachen as its capital, made an essential contribution to the political and cultural foundations of Europe and, for this, earned the name among his contemporaries of ‘Pater Europae’ (Father of Europe.)”

“The happy union of classical culture and the Christian faith with the traditions of various peoples took form in Charlemagne’s empire and was developed in various forms as the spiritual-cultural legacy of Europe throughout the centuries,” the Pope concluded.

He remarked that “as the Holy See is located in Europe, the Church has special relations with the people of this continent” and “has always taken part in the process of European integration.” Pius XII, he said, “explicitly supported the idea of the formation of a ‘European union’,” for which it would be “necessary to refer to Christianity as a factor which creates identity and unity.”

The Holy Father then spoke of his vision for European unity.

“I am thinking of a Europe without egotistical nationalism, where nations are seen as living centers of cultural riches that must be protected and promoted to everyone’s advantage. I am thinking of a Europe where advances in science, the economy and social well-being are not oriented towards consumerism” but rather serve mankind. “I am thinking of a Europe whose unity is based on true freedom” for “without freedom there is no sense of responsibility to God or man.”

“I am thinking,” he continued, “of a Europe united thanks to the commitment of young people. … But how can a young generation be born that is open to truth, beauty and nobility and what is worth making sacrifices for, if in Europe the family is no longer presented as an institution open to life and to unselfish love?”

 “The Europe I have in mind,” concluded John Paul II, “is a political unity, a spiritual one in fact, in which Christian politicians from all countries act in the awareness of the human riches that faith brings with it: men and women committed to making these values fruitful, placing themselves at the service of everyone for a Europe of men in whom shines the face of God.”

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Bishop of Oakland rejects running VOTF ad in Catholic paper

Oakland, Calif., Mar 25, 2004 (CNA) - A Catholic publication refused to run an ad about a one-day seminar, sponsored by Voice of the Faithful and the University of San Francisco, which would gather scholars to discuss the future of the Catholic Church.

As publisher of the Catholic Voice, Bishop Allen Vigneron of Oakland rejected the ad for the seminar, “Imaging the Future Church”, based on critical comments he had heard on Church doctrine from group members, reported the Contra Costa Times.

According to the Contra Costa Times, the bishop wrote a letter to Peter Davey, the VOTF East Bay chairman, explaining his position. In it, he said his decision was based on a meeting he had with local VOTF leadership, during which he was told that VOTF had decided to withhold affirmation from some elements of authentic Magisterial teaching, such as “the impossibility of ordaining women to the priesthood.”

The Catholic Voice is published bi-weekly and has a circulation  of 100,000.

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Possible miracle for ‘snowshoe bishop’ gives cause new momentum

Marquette, Mich., Mar 25, 2004 (CNA) - The possibility of a miracle may give new momentum to the cause for the sainthood of Marquette’s first bishop, Frederic Baraga.

Known as Michigan's “snowshoe bishop”, the Slovenian native served the diocese from 1853 to 1868. He ministered to Chippewa and Ottawa tribes in northern Michigan and developed the first Ojibwa (Chippewa) language dictionary.

The late bishop is best known for walking 500 miles across the Upper Peninsula, sometimes through snowstorms, to minister to Indian tribes and European settlers. He established 30 Catholic outposts around Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior, and he wrote a prayer book, sermons and pastoral letters to native people in their languages.

"He was way ahead of his time in respecting the language and culture of the Indian people," said Fr. Alex Sample, a diocesan priest, who is overseeing the cause, reported the Detroit Free Press.

Fr. Sample says prayers to Bishop Baraga recently helped a woman deliver a perfectly healthy baby, who was expected to have all sorts of medical problems and likely die. The Vatican has already approved as historically accurate a thick description of Baraga's missionary work in Michigan.

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Vatican watcher notes “The Passion of the Christ” has rekindled old Biblical debate

Rome, Italy, Mar 25, 2004 (CNA) - In his weekly online column, Sandro Magister, renowned Vatican watcher of the Italian weekly “L’Espresso,” says in an analysis of “The Passion of the Christ” that the Mel Gibson film has rekindled an old Biblical debate within the Church.

Magister, who has seen the film in advance of its April 7th release in Italy, says in his column that “The Passion” has raised a “Catholic issue” related to the accusations of anti-Semitism and which has to do with the “frontal attack on the historical accuracy of the Gospels.”

According to Magister, this attack stems not only from rationalism and from Jewish authors such as Leon Wieseltier, editor of the cultural section of the magazine “The New Republic,” but also “from the Catholic sphere itself.”

“Some arguments against Mel Gibson’s film are the symptoms of “a breakdown in the faith’s sense of realism,” says Magister, because “faith in the historical accuracy of the Gospel accounts has been seriously weakened.”

According to Magister, there is a concern at the Vatican about a resurgence of the heresy of Marcion, a Greek philosopher from the 2nd century who attempted to eliminate the entire Old Testament and various books and passages from the New Testament which, in his judgment, were expressions of a violent and evil God as opposed to the good and kind divinity found in Jesus—a tendency which is recycled in modern society in a “political correctness” more concerned about offending people than about proclaiming the truth.

The complete column can be found at:,2393,42087,00.html

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“Passion”: first movie in 34 years for Honduran Cardinal

Managua, Nicaragua, Mar 25, 2004 (CNA) - According to Catholic radio in Honduras, Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, Archbishop of Managua, Nicaragua, saw “The Passion of the Christ last Thursday, the first film he has seen in 34 years, and was profoundly moved by the experience.

The Cardinal, whose last visit to the theaters was to see “Jesus Christ Superstar” 34 years ago, said, “The Passion” “is a movie that helps us to mediate Christ, who endured an horrible death for us.”  “It’s a film that is faithful to Sacred Scripture, especially to the book of the prophet Isaiah:  ‘like a lamb that is led to the slaughterhouse, like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers never opening its mouth, I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard’,” said Cardinal Obando.

He also rejected the accusations of anti-Semitism against the film, saying the movie “follows history and mentions those who participated in the death of Christ, who himself told his disciples beforehand that He would go up to Jerusalem to the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, and the high priests, who would hand him over to be put to death.  The movie does not include anything against our Jewish brethren.  I believe we are all responsible for the death of Christ, because He died for the sins of all humanity.”

“The movie is based on Sacred Scripture,” says the Cardinal, adding that “in this season of Lent it will help us to reflect upon the sacrifice of Christ and to become new men and women born again through grace.”

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96% of gynecologists in Spain refuse to perform abortions

Madrid, Spain, Mar 25, 2004 (CNA) - According to the pro-life group “Provida,” 96% of gynecologists in Spain’s public hospitals refuse to perform abortions.

Justo Aznar, head of the Department of Biopathology at La Fe Hospital in Valencia, says, “Spanish gynecologists clearly believe that their job is oriented towards giving life and in no way towards the destruction of unborn embryos.”  He also underscores that because this is their area of expertise, they are first in noticing the new life of an embryo.  “At 20 days after conception the heart is already beating and gynecologists know this,” he added.

Ironically the refusal to perform abortions began when the practice was legalized in 1985.  For example, in 1986, of the one hundred gynecologists working at La Paz Hospital in Madrid, only two were open to performing abortions.

In other regions, such as Valencia, up to the end of 2003 no abortions had been performed for 5 years, and at La Fe Hospital, the largest in Valencia, only one doctor has performed abortions.

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Congregation revives after all members disappeared under Khmer Rouge

Rome, Italy, Mar 25, 2004 (CNA) - A Cambodian congregation of sisters, which was wiped out by the Khmer Rouge nearly 30 years ago, was revived last week with the profession of two new sisters, reported AsiaNews.

A sign of new life in the Cambodian Church, Srs. Ang Songvat and Bouang Buntharin professed their temporary vows as members of the Lovers of the Cross Congregation of Kompong Cham apostolic prefecture March 21.

The Lovers of the Holy Cross was founded in Cambodia in 1772, and by 1942, it had 115 members. But, under the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s, all of its members were killed, died of hunger or escaped to neighboring countries.

The communist regime of Pol Pot came to power in 1975. Pol Pot led the Khmer Rouge, a radical group held responsible for the deaths of up to two million Cambodians before Vietnamese troops forced it from power in 1979. Among the targets of the Khmer Rouge was the local Church.

Sisters of the Lovers of the Cross of Ubon Ratchathani in Thailand had sent four sisters as missioners to Cambodia and were responsible for the training of the new sisters. The Thai congregation will continue training the Cambodian nuns and help sustain them until they become independent and can run the congregation themselves.

In 1996, Paris Foreign Mission Father André Lessouef, then apostolic prefect of Kompong Cham, started a formation house to revive this lost community. But it was not until 1999 that two postulants, now Srs. Ang and Bouang, began their formation. They entered the novitiate in 2002.

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