Archive of April 14, 2004

Christians need personal encounter with the risen Christ, Pope says

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2004 (CNA) - During his first General Audience of this Easter Season, Pope John Paul II said before some 25,000 pilgrims that Christians need a personal encounter with the crucified and risen Christ.

“‘The Lord of Life was dead, but now He lives and triumphs!’ These words guide the reflections of our encounter today, which takes place within the octave of Easter,” the Pope wrote in his catechesis, which was read by an assistant and not by the Pope himself.

“Christ triumphs over evil and death,” said the text. “The Gospels tell us, with richness of detail, of the Risen Lord’s encounters with the women who ran to the tomb and, afterwards, with the Apostles.”

“As eyewitnesses they are the first to proclaim the Gospel of His death and Resurrection. … The Church, who is the deposit of this universal mystery of salvation, passes this on from generation to generation, to the men and women of all times and all places,” the Pope’s message continued.

In order to pass this mystery on, he added, “Christians must have their own personal encounter with Christ Crucified and Risen, and allow themselves to be transformed by the power of His love. When that happens, sadness becomes joy, fear gives way to the path of missionary ardor.”

“’Christ my hope is risen’. With these words the (Easter) sequence underlines an aspect of the Easter mystery that mankind today needs to understand more deeply. Marked by impending threats of violence and death, men are looking for something that gives them serenity and certainty. But where can they find peace, if not in Christ, the innocent one, Who reconciled sinners with the Father?,” he added.

“On Calvary,” the message closes, “divine mercy showed its face of love and pardon for everyone.”   He ended praising Saint Faustina Kowalska, the Polish mystic who received the revelations of the Divine Mercy, who “in her humility was chosen to announce this message of light especially apt for today’s world.”

The universal feast of the Divine Mercy is celebrated on next Sunday, the Second of Easter.

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Doctors recommend Pope allow assistant to read catechesis

Rome, Italy, Apr 14, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul did not read the catechesis during Wednesday’s general audience following a recommendation of his personal physician, Dr. Renato Buzzonetti.

The Vatican spokesman, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, announced that, “following the advice of his personal physician, the Holy Father, given the lengthy commitments of Holy Week, will not personally read the text of the general audience.”

The Pontiff did read the numerous greetings in different languages for the pilgrims present at the audience.

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Catholic schools need to teach about Catholic heroes, says Archbishop O’Malley

Boston, Mass., Apr 14, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic schools must teach students about Catholic heroes, especially in the current social climate, characterized by sexual immorality and an eroded public trust in the Church, said Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley in his address to the convention of the National Catholic Educational Association yesterday.

The four-day annual convention is expected to draw 14,000 delegates to Boston from across the United States.

In his address, Archbishop O'Malley said the faith of young Catholics is being challenged by the cynicism brought about by the sex-abuse scandal in the Church.

"We need to remind people that we have always been saints and sinners in the Church,” said the archbishop of Boston, according to the Associated Press. “We have our success and our failures, but the saints are the success stories our young people need to know."

Celebrities, who often lead lives that are superficial, self-absorbed and chaotic, have become the role models for young people, noted the archbishop.

“Young people today need to hear about the saints and heroes," such as Dorothy Day, who converted to Catholicism and co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933, said the archbishop.

Parents must also be better role models for their children, attend mass regularly and more boldly proclaim their beliefs on "human rights, the gospel of life, sexual morality and social justice," he added.

While Boston ranks eighth among U.S. dioceses in Catholic school enrollment – it has 55,000 students – the archbishop will reportedly announce parish and school closings next month, due to changing demographics, the struggling economy and decreased giving.

At the convention, lay Catholic Peter Lynch, founder of the Catholic Schools Foundation and vice chairman of Fidelity Management & Research Co., was conferred the Catherine T. McNamee Award. He was recognized for having created an inner-city scholarship fund and for having raised more than $50 million for Boston’s Catholic schools in the past 14 years.

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Italian scientists find puzzling image on back of Turin shroud

London, England, Apr 14, 2004 (CNA) - Italian scientists have found another image on the back of the Shroud of Turin, reported The Guardian yesterday. The scientists from the University of Padua also exposed the faint imprint of the face and hands of the figure on the front of the cloth, which is believed to be the imprint of Jesus.

The features of the image are visible only on the outermost fibres of the fabric.

The discovery was reported yesterday in the Journal of Optics A: Pure and Applied Optics, published by the Institute of Physics in London.

Giulio Fanti, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Padua, and his colleague, Roberto Maggiolo, said they worked on the image from a photograph taken by a churchman in 2002 while the backing cloth was being replaced during restoration, reported The Guardian.

According to the report, some scientists have argued that the imprint could have been made by a "corona discharge" between a corpse and a wrapping sheet when the corpse was immersed in an electric field. Another scholar proposed that “the image on the cloth is the result of an intense source of energy as the body passed through the cloth, perhaps at the moment of resurrection,” reported The Guardian.

Believed to be shroud of Jesus

The man, whose image appears on the shroud, seems to have been scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified with nails and stabbed in the side. Many Catholics believe that it was Jesus, who was wrapped in this cloth after his crucifixion.

The authenticity of the shroud has been a point of controversy for many years. In recent decades, experts have identified traces of blood, serum, myrrh, aloes and soil typical of Jerusalem on the shroud. The weave of the linen has also been linked with first-century Syria.

In 1988, three laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Tucson each used radiocarbon dating on a tiny sample of the cloth. They separately dated the flax, from which the linen was woven, between AD1260 and 1390.

However,  many scholars have  provided multiple scientific reasons why the radiocarbon dating is not reliable.

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National Shrine begins effort to complete ceiling mosaic

Washington D.C., Apr 14, 2004 (CNA) - After more than 35 years, the National Shrine will embellish in colorful mosaic a third dome in the Great Upper Church. This is the first time since 1968 that the shrine will fill one of its five ceiling domes with mosaic tiles.

Two domes above the sanctuary were completed within a nine-year span after the shrine’s 1959 dedication. Above the baldachin altar and canopy is a Byzantine mosaic of the Triumph of the Lamb. Adjacent to it is a depiction of the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

The third dome, which will take two to three years to complete, is just south of the great center dome, at the middle of the nave. Its theme is the Redemption. Leandro Miguel Velasco designed it for the Rambusch Decorating Co. of New York.

Divided into four quadrants, the mosaic depicts Jesus’ temptation in the desert, his crucifixion, his descent into hell, and his Resurrection. The four corners of the mosaic portray familiar Gospel figures: Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene and Simon of Cyrene. At the center of the mosaic, four cherubim hold the symbols of Jesus’ Passion: the crown of thorns, the chalice, the whip, and the tunic and dice.

To see an image of the mosaic, go to:

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Uruguayan Senate to vote on abortion law Wednesday

Montevideo, Uruguay, Apr 14, 2004 (CNA) - The Uruguayan Senate is set to vote on Wednesday on a bill that would legalize abortion for any reason during the first trimester, which would make Uruguay the first country to legalize abortion in Latin America.

According to local analysts, the bill passed by a narrow margin in the House of Representatives but probably will not have enough votes to pass in the Senate.

The Senate has 31 members and pundits say the body is sharply divided with some members voting across party lines.  A likely vote of 18-13 would keep the bill from passing.

Even if the measure passed, President Jorge Batlle said he would not sign the bill, and Congress would almost certainly not have enough votes to override the presidential veto. 

If the bill is rejected by the Senate, it could not be brought before the body again until the next Congress, which would be after March 1, 2005, when the Congress elected this October 31 would take office.

Some politicians have proposed holding a national referendum on the measure if it fails to pass in the Senate.

According to the bill, a woman would be able to procure an abortion if economic, social or family hardships were an impediment to continuing with the pregnancy. 

Abortion is not legal in any country in Latin America.  Currently it is only permitted in Cuba.

Protesters, mostly pro-lifers, stood outside the Congressional building Wednesday to express their opinions about the measure.

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Health Ministry to provide abortion pill to victims of rape in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Apr 14, 2004 (CNA) - Despite a Chilean Supreme Court ruling that “the morning after pill” is abortifacient, the country’s Health Ministry announced it will distribute 400,000 dosages of the pill to clinics to be offered to victims of rape.

Jorge Reyes, a Chilean lawyer who lead the movement against the “morning after pill,” warned that the policy violates the Supreme Court’s decision and that the action amounts to a legal “ploy” in order to prescribe the controversial drug.

According to Reyes, the action betrays the incoherence of the government, because while the government “has eliminated the death penalty for rapists, it condemns the unborn to death.”

Patricio Ventura, Director of the Bioethics Center of the Catholic University, told local media that it is urgent that women be informed about the abortifacient nature of the pill, since “scientific proof has not confirmed that the drug does not affect implantation (of the embryo in the uterus.)”

In fact, the Health Ministry is promoting the drug by claiming it prevents fertilization but it does not mention that if it is taken after fertilization, it causes an abortion.

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Venezuelan bishops to bring Vatican up to speed on their country’s crisis

Caracas, Venezuela, Apr 14, 2004 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Venezuela issued a statement yesterday announcing that the body’s president, Archbishop Baltasar Porras, has traveled to Rome to inform the Holy See about the crisis currently enveloping the country.

The statement says Archbishop Porras has traveled to Rome “to visit the Roman dicasteries and to inform the Vatican Secretariat of State about the situation the country is currently enduring.”

According to the official declaration, “the situation currently affecting the Venezuelan people has caused the Holy See unease and concern, and even more so have the continuous attacks on the Venezuelan clergy by the president of the Republic.”

On Palm Sunday, President Hugo Chavez again lashed out at the Church, especially Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara and Archbishop Porras himself, calling them “hypocrites” and “politicians dressed in cassocks” who are promoting “the interests of the powerful.”

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