Archive of April 13, 2004

Pro-abortion politicians should not receive Communion, says pro-life priest group

, Apr 13, 2004 (CNA) - Priests for Life issued a statement yesterday on whether pro-abortion politicians should receive the Eucharist after Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry received Communion Easter Sunday.

The national anti-abortion organization of Catholic priests commented on the controversy about whether Kerry, an outspoken abortion advocate, should be allowed to receive Holy Communion.

"The central point is being missed in most of the commentary,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. “Senator Kerry supports in his public life the continuation of a procedure which, in these very days, is being graphically described in courtroom trials about the ban on partial-birth abortion.”

The Priests for Life statement included the testimony of Dr. Timothy Johnson in New York's Southern District Court March 31. In his testimony, Dr. Johnson described the dismemberment of a baby that often occurs during a partial-birth abortion. He also admitted that the procedure includes “crushing the head of a baby.”

Fr. Pavone also pointed out that some 1,300 priests in his organization have released a statement that says: "No public official ... can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life."

These words were taken from the U.S. bishops’ document called Living the Gospel of Life (1998).

For the priests' full statement, go to:

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Preach on reconciliation and faith and public life: Bishop Aquila

, Apr 13, 2004 (CNA) - Priests must preach on the sacrament of reconciliation and the need to reconcile faith and public life in order to set people free from the culture of death, said Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota, in a message to his priests during the Easter Triduum.

Bishop Aquila urged his priests to preach on the sacrament whenever there are readings from the Gospel, which focus on forgiveness.

“Help our faithful to understand the sacrament and the need for the sacrament. Create a love among them for the sacrament of reconciliation,” he said.

He added that priests must be committed to receiving the sacrament of reconciliation on a regular basis.

“We must admit our own need for that sacrament so that we may grow in holiness, so that we may image more fully Christ the Good Shepherd, the Head of the Church,” he said.

He also asked his priests to “speak clearly to people on the need for faith and public life to be in harmony with one another.

“The Council Fathers in Vatican II tell us to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. The Council Fathers recognize that the great split between faith and public life, daily life, is one of the great errors of our age and it is an error that has only gotten worse in our time,” he said. “It is an error that does not reflect upon one’s actions and what it means to be salt of the earth and light of the world, to bring the good news of salvation into the world.”

Bishop Aquila also reminded the lay faithful and the religious that they must be faithful to the sacrament of reconciliation and to the sacrament of the Eucharist if they want to grow in holiness; he urged them to celebrate these sacraments with regularity.

“Do not excuse yourself from sin,” he said, “but rather pray for knowledge of sin within your life, that you may bring that sin to Jesus Christ and to His great sacrament of mercy.”

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Catholics, Evangelicals hold joint public celebrations for Holy Week

, Apr 13, 2004 (CNA) - Hundreds of Catholics and Evangelicals joined together in song and prayer in a first-time public display of faith and devotion during Holy Week this year.

The theme of the event was Catholics and Protestants Together for Christ.

The group met on the evening of Good Friday for a candlelight procession, which began at 9 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and made its way through Soho, East Village and Greenwich Village. The procession stopped at seven churches. Outside each church, the group prayed two Stations of the Cross and sang hymns.

The group gathered again on Easter Sunday at Union Square to hand out Easter lilies to the public and to sing Easter songs proclaiming the Risen Lord.

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Church leaders in Canada say no to US sponsored ballistic missile defence project

Ottawa, Canada, Apr 13, 2004 (CNA) - Canadian church leaders are trying to convince the Canadian government not to participate in a ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, which the United States plans to launch this fall.

BMD systems “fail to counter the nuclear threat and [they] precipitate further insecurities,” said church leaders in a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin last month.

They added that BMD systems “only intensify nuclear threat” and create “a dangerous and cyclical defense-versus-offence dynamic”, reported Canadian Catholic News. Church leaders warned that Russia and China would move to counter any capabilities that the proposed BMD system might one day deliver.

The Canadian Council of Churches issued the letter March 15. It has 20 signatories, including the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Brendan O’Brien.

Canada is currently involved in talks with the U.S. about participating in BMD. The U.S. announced in 2002 that it intends to deploy an initial BMD system this fall. The Canadian government will only make its decision once talks are complete.

Church leaders also pointed out that the Pentagon lacks confidence that the BMD system, which Canada may support, could actually work, reported CCN.

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Cardinal Bergoglio says Catholic Charities not just another NGO

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 13, 2004 (CNA) - During the inauguration of a new Catholic Charities center in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of the Argentinean capital, said Catholic Charities is not just another NGO.

“Catholic Charities is not just another NGO.  It is an extension of the charity of Christ in his meekness, which inspires me to underscore the attitude of the Church.  She follows the same method of Jesus, she bring people together with the same method as Jesus.  No shouting, just meekness and humility,” said the Cardinal.

The Cardinal pointed out that the difference between an employee of Catholic Charities and that of an NGO “is one of passion.”  “NGOs can do much more important or expensive projects than Catholic Charities,” he added, but the Catholic Charities worker “will be known by his style, by the way in which he suffers, the way in which is endures the contradictions of life and his work, by the way in which he welcomes those whom he meets, with tenderness and meekness.”

Lastly, referring to the effectiveness of Catholic Charities, Cardinal Bergoglio said that it is found “in the spirit of meekness of knowing who to suffer as our Lord did.”  “This is the effectiveness; the work of Catholic Charities is marked by the shouldering of people’s problems and limitations.”  Catholic Charities, he said, “does not send people away with a package, with a momentary solution.  Any institution can do that. Catholic Charities is something mystical, something ecclesial.  It is the expression of the love of Jesus.”

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Church in Colombia calls for release of hostages during Easter season

, Apr 13, 2004 (CNA) - At the beginning of the Easter Season, Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz, Archbishop of Bogota and President of the Colombian Bishops Conference, called for the release of all those being held hostage in the country.

In his message, the Colombian cardinal said that Easter “is the opportunity captors have to release thousands of people who have been deprived of their liberty and thus to make peace with civil society.”

“Those who are holding people hostage, trampling upon their dignity and their liberty, should understand the cry of the Colombian people calling out for the return of these people to their homes,” he added.

Cardinal Saenz offered prayers for the immediate release of two former congressmen who have been held captive for two years.

He also offered the Easter Mass for the Spanish people, who suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks last month in Madrid, which left 191 dead, including one un-born child, in Madrid.

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Venezuelan Cardinal denounces “dictatorial tendencies” of Chavez

Caracas, Venezuela, Apr 13, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, who worked with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican and is now retired and living in his native Venezuela, denounced last Sunday the “dictatorial tendencies” of the government of Hugo Chavez.

The cardinal prayed for a miracle that “God would enlighten Government leaders and that they might repent and understand that grave error they are committing” by preventing a national vote on a recall referendum for the country’s president.

Cardinal Castillo accused President Chavez of governing “like a dictator” and said “the government’s fear of a referendum is the greatest proof that it does not have the sufficient votes, and if that is the case, why this insistence on imposing this regime which is an absurd revolutionary project that is outdated and unsustainable?”

“You cannot hide behind a cloak of apparent legality when you are taking away to right to vote from 3 ½ million people,” he said, underscoring that Venezuela is portrayed today as a country with “a dictatorial and arbitrary government under the will of a single man.”

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