Archive of March 31, 2004

Pope appoints new bishop for Richmond

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo, until now of Honolulu, as the new Bishop of Richmond, in Virginia.

Bishop DiLorenzo was born on April 15, 1942 in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), and studied at the archdiocesan Seminary.

He was ordained a priest on May 18, 1968, for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

After two years as vicar at St. Joseph Parish in Warrington (1968-1969), he became a high school professor of religion from 1969 to 1971.  In 1971 he traveled to Rome to complete studies in Moral Theology at the Pontifical University Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum.)

In1977 he became professor of religion at the Immaculata College in Philadelphia. In 1983 he was appointed vice-rector of St. Charles Seminary and in 1985 he became its rector.

On January 11,1988, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton (New Jersey) and on October 12, 1993, he was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Honolulu (Hawaii.) He became the ordinary of Hawaii in October 4, 1994.

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More than 150,000 people to join U.S. Catholic Church on Holy Saturday

Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2004 (CNA) - More than 150,000 Americans will join the Catholic Church Holy Saturday, April 10, through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), reported the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is an ancient rite that was reinstituted in the Church following the Second Vatican Council as a means for adults to come into the Church.

Adults will enter the Church in every diocese of the country this year and in virtually every one of the nation’s nearly 19,000 parishes.

Men and women who come into the Church cite many reasons. Some are inspired by other family members, including spouses, who already are Catholic. Others find the Catholic Church during a spiritual search as they explore faith groups until they feel at home. Others seek to become active in the Church in which they were baptized but had not practiced the faith.

The RCIA also includes the Rite of Election, a liturgy service during which those who have decided to enter the Church make their intentions known publicly and sign the Book of the Elect.

According the USCCB’s early March survey, to which three-quarters of U.S. dioceses responded, more than 62,000 people participated in the Rite of Election with their bishops at the beginning of Lent. About 24,000 are catechumens, which means that they will be baptized, confirmed and receive Holy Eucharist for the first time on Holy Saturday. About 36,000 people, who already have been baptized, will embrace full membership in the Catholic Church.

Another estimated 90,000 men and women celebrated the Rite of Election in their parishes rather than with their bishops at diocesan-wide ceremonies.

“I worried that the cathedral would be next to empty due to all the scandal news this year,” said Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization. “But I was delighted to find that the numbers signing the Book of the Elect were higher than last year. It is great to know that God is in charge.”

For information about the RCIA, go to the USCCB official Web site:

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Neo-Nazi bomber confesses after seeing 'Passion'

Oslo, Norway, Mar 31, 2004 (CNA) - A former neo-Nazi, who admitted to committing two bombings 10 years ago, said he was inspired to confess after watching "The Passion of The Christ", reported the Associated Press. This is the third reported case of criminal conversion credited to Mel Gibson’s film in a week.

Johnny Olsen turned himself in to police over the weekend and said he was behind two bombings of the Blitz House, a left-wing youth group's headquarters in downtown Oslo, in 1994 and 1995.

"Jesus lives," Olsen reportedly said in a choked voice, as he entered the courtroom for his detention hearing March 29. Olsen had served 12 years in prison for murder when he was a teenager in a separate crime. "I distance myself from my past and neo-Nazism," he was quoted as saying.

The Oslo district court ordered the 41-year-old held for two weeks, pending an investigation.

If convicted, Olsen would likely get a mild sentence because he confessed and because he led police to an illegal weapons stash.

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Cardinal Cipriani says challenge for modern world is to accept moral order

Lima, Peru, Mar 31, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, Archbishop of Lima, Peru, said during a local radio program that the solution to the violence that is affecting the world and has turned it into a “tiny cage of insecurity” lies in the acceptance of the moral and the natural order. 

“The great challenge to modernity is to accept that there is a natural moral order, established for man by God, and which leads us to belief in good and evil, in the commandments of the law of God, and that God is present in our lives,” he said.

During the radio program, the Cardinal also denounced the violence that threatens human life, manifested not only in attacks like those in the United States and Spain, but also in the rape of minors and in abortion.

“Violence is reaching an incredible level and it is becoming a very serious illness,” said the Cardinal, underscoring as well the urgency of promoting the right to life of the unborn.  “The natural moral order tells me that relations between a man and a woman are at times fertile, and therefore capable of conceiving a new life, and at other times infertile.  This is clear in the biological order,” he said.

Likewise, the Cardinal said that “God has desired that this natural order be regulated by a woman’s menstrual cycle, which includes both fertile and infertile periods and provides a high degree of effectiveness.  This is the safest method for a woman who has the minimum amount of order and control over her life.”

Cardinal Cipriani called on Peruvians to be honest and acknowledge that “children are the result of free decisions; this is respect for the natural moral order.”

Regarding the debate surrounding the “morning after pill,” the Cardinal explained that “the Church does not seek to impose anything but rather to simply campaign in favor of life.  Inasmuch as science is authentic, the Church accepts it with great respect.”

“There are things that are politically and socially accepted.  The Church is not in the business of political or social ratings, but rather in rating the truth.  There are people who don’t like it, but in this age of darkness we should not keep from igniting the light of faith and hope,” he added.

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Italian city where “The Passion” was filmed becoming popular attraction

Rome, Italy, Mar 31, 2004 (CNA) - The city of Matera in southern Italy, where Mel Gibson filmed “The Passion of the Christ,” has become a popular international tourist attraction, with travel agencies organizing “Passion Tours” to relive the movie about the last twelve hours of the life of Christ.

With it’s stone houses that are reminiscent of old Jerusalem, Matera was inscribed in 1993 as part of the Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO, but the images of “The Passion,” which were filmed in the churches, parks and streets, have given the city a new impulse.

The city government is designing a tourist route that will be indicated by signs and markers, pointing to the places where scenes from Gibson’s movie were filmed.

Travel agencies have begun offering trips to the city for a day or a weekend to show off the city’s beauty and the places where the most important scenes were shot.

“We will visit the sites for some of the film’s scenes, such as the market, the doors of Jerusalem the Upper Room and the home of Mary.  We will walk the same streets where the actors walked,” reads a program from one Italian travel agency.

Gianni Magariello, Matera’s tourism adviser, said the city has reached an agreement with Icon Productions for the use of images from the film.  “We’re not the ones who have asked people to come to Matera, the people have asked us if they can visit,” he said.

Requests are coming mainly from North American and Australian tourists, as well as from Japanese tourists, who have found out about Matera from several websites that offer trips to the city.

One guided tour called, The “Passion Tour,” will cost between $7 and $12, while a weekend stay would run between $90 and $160.

In Matera one can walk the Via Muro, where the way of the Cross was filmed, visit the Church of Our Lady of Virtues, where the Last Supper was filmed, or peek over the Gravina cliff, which served as Mount Calvary and where city officials are considering erecting three crosses.

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Apostolic Nuncio exhorts Mexicans to live faith as a “true commitment” in face of increasing sects

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 31, 2004 (CNA) - During his visit to Hermosillo to celebrate the 60th anniversary of ordination of Archbishop Emeritus Carlos Quintero Arce, the Apostolic Nuncio of Mexico, Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, spoke about the spread of religious sects in the country and said they “constituted a challenge to the Church to live the Gospel and the faith as a true commitment.”

The Nuncio said the presence of sects and evangelical groups in Mexican families will always be a challenge to “live fully our Catholic faith and to have the desire and the commitment to not only be faithful but to proclaim the Gospel.”

In the arrival ceremony at the Hermosillo airport, Archbishop Bertello conveyed the congratulations of Pope John Paul II to Archbishop Quintero Arce.  “I am happy to be with the Archdiocese for this beautiful celebration.  I bring with me a message of congratulation with an Apostolic Blessing,” he said.

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Padre Pio declared patron saint of volunteerism in Italy

Rome, Italy, Mar 31, 2004 (CNA) - Responding to a request by civil authorities, the Italian Bishops Conference has announced St. Pio of Pietralcina will be named patron saint of volunteerism in Italy.

According to the statement from the bishops Conference, the famous Italian saint known around the world simply as Padre Pio, “will inspire a deeper sense of charity and solidarity to the projects and emergency interventions which the department of Civil Protection and volunteer associations are called to provide.”

The director of the Italian Civil Protection, Guido Bertolaso, had made the request to the Italian bishops, who in turn submitted the proposal to Vatican, which recently granted approval.

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Jewish brothers fail to stop release of "Passion" in France

Paris, France, Mar 31, 2004 (CNA) - A Paris court yesterday quashed a bid by three Jewish brothers to have Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of The Christ" banned in France, reported Reuters.

The court said Patrick, Jean-Marc and Gerard Benlolo had not proven the film would incite anti-Semitism. France has been dealing with an increase in violence and vandalism against Jews for the past three years.

The Benlolo brothers’ case, heard March 26, is the first attempt anywhere to ban the film.

In her ruling, Judge Florence Lagemi said the film “is a very realistic adaptation of the final hours of Christ's life” and it “cannot be considered an incitement to hatred and violence against Jews or an affront to their dignity and security."

"Making Jesus's death the main motive for anti-Semitism and age-old persecutions of Jews would amount to a narrow and simplistic view of Mel Gibson's film," the ruling said.

The film is scheduled for release in France tomorrow.

The brothers have said they plan to appeal the ruling, reported Reuters.

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