Archive of April 16, 2004

Ignorance of ancient languages threatens historical studies, Pontifical Council says

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, founded in 1954 by Pope Pius XII, realeased a statement on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, warning that the decreasing knowledge of ancient languages –such as Latin and Greek - are jeopardizing serious historical studies.

In a statement released on Friday, the Committee explains that it was instituted by Pius XII, and follows in the footsteps of the earlier Cardinals’ Commission for Historical Studies,  created by Pope Leo XIII following the opening of the Vatican Secret Archives.

“The tradition established in 1954 by Pius XII, who called upon eminent scholars from various countries representing the different disciplines of historical sciences, continues today.”

“Since historical sciences must face the ever growing problem of ignorance of the classical languages which is starting to threaten their very existence, the PCSS is taking upon itself the duty of stopping this unfortunate void.”

“A historical science that, instead of basing itself directly on the Latin and Greek sources, trusts only more or less reliable traditions, can not be considered serious and this would involve, at the same time, the end of western culture and learning itself,” the Committee’s statement warns.

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Catholic hospitals weigh Pope’s teaching on treatment for patients in a vegetative state

St. Louis, Mo., Apr 16, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic hospitals in the United States are deliberating whether to uphold Pope John Paul II’s latest teaching on treatment offered to patients who are in a persistent vegetative state.

Last month, the Pope said feeding and hydrating patients in a persistent vegetative state is "morally obligatory" and that withdrawing feeding tubes constitutes "euthanasia by omission." Feeding tubes should be considered natural and ordinary treatment, not an artificial medical intervention, he said.

Fr. Michael Place, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, issued a written statement that the Pope's teaching affirms the CHA’s commitment to respecting the dignity of each person, regardless of their physical or medical condition, reported the Associated Press.

However, he added that bishops and health-care providers must carefully consider the Pope’s teaching. Currently, U.S. bishops and ethicists have been studying the issue and its implications for Catholic hospitals. However, clarification on the issue is not expected for months.

Until then, Catholic hospitals will continue to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, outlined by the U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops.

These guidelines indicate that feeding tubes for patients in persistent vegetative states are "medical treatment" that can be continued or stopped, based on the benefits and burdens for patient and family.

These guidelines also allow hospitals to honor living wills, indicating that patients do not want life-prolonging treatments.

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Record $11.9 million in grants for poor U.S. dioceses

Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Catholic Home Missions Appeal will award a record $11.9 million in grants this year to the poorest dioceses in the United States. This is the largest grant in its seven-year history, said the U.S. bishops in a statement Wednesday.

The grants will be disbursed to 90 dioceses and 21 organizations and religious orders, beginning July 1.

About 90 dioceses in rural U.S., rely on the appeal for parish support, religious education, youth ministry, and work with growing populations of Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asians and Native Americans.

The committee's grant is sometimes five percent or more of a diocese's total budget.

About 40 percent of the funds collected by the Home Missions Appeal go to the support of Hispanic ministries. About 14 percent are given to support the apostolate of the Eastern Catholic Churches. The Committee on the Home Missions is the only Latin Rite entity that consistently supports the Eastern Catholic eparchies.

It also supports Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps chaplains through the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A.

Administrative costs are low for the project are low, and nearly 93 cents of every dollar contributed goes to the missions.

However, despite this year’s record, donations are not keeping pace with the needs of the poorest dioceses, said Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Little Rock, chairman of the Committee on the Home Missions.

Bishop Sartain said that the Home Missions Appeal has continued to be successful because of the faithfulness and sustained generosity of the Catholic people. "At the same time, the national economic slowdown and troubles in the Church have eroded the financial position of mission dioceses, which had scant reserves to begin with," he said.

The bishops hope this year’s appeal will be even more successful. "Strengthening the Church at Home" is the theme and a collection will be taken up in Catholic parishes around the country April 24-25.

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Sen. Kerry meets Washington archbishop

Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2004 (CNA) - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry met with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, for the first time yesterday.

The meeting between the pro-abortion politician, who claims to profess his Catholic faith, and the cardinal, had been planned for months and was requested by Kerry, reported the Associated Press.

The senator and the archbishop declined to comment after the 45-minute meeting. A spokesperson for the senator reportedly said the meeting was "completely personal and private," according to AP.

Diocesan spokesperson Susan Gibbs said the meeting was an opportunity for the two men to get to know each other.

The meeting came just days after the cardinal spoke on national television about the consequences being considered for Catholic politicians, who do not act in accordance with Church teaching regarding abortion and stem-cell research.

Cardinal McCarrick is heading a task force for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is examining whether there should be sanctions for politicians who profess to be Catholic but who clearly advocate legislation that is against Church teaching.

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Colombia to include abortion pills in “family planning” programs

, Apr 16, 2004 (CNA) - The debate over the morning after pill has reached Colombia where, as in Peru and Chile, anti-life groups—with the support of government health authorities—want the abortifacient drug to be included in family planning programs.

Media outlets in Colombia are giving ample time to supporters of the pill who are attempting to hide its abortifacient nature by claiming that only the Church believes the pill has such effects, a tactic that has become common in many countries where the drug is being promoted.

The Social Protection Ministry announced that governors and mayors should set aside funds for the purchase of the so-called emergency contraceptive and distribute it even among teenagers.

The deceptively named Profamilia organization (“Profamily”), which works for the legalization of abortion, is pressuring to have the drug included claiming it will reduce unwanted pregnancies.  The group has won the support of the Assistant Health Minister, Eduardo Alvarado.

The Secretary General of the Colombian Bishops Conference, Bishop Fabián Marulanda, explained that the Church will always reject this drug as abortifacient, adding that in the climate of “permissiveness, laxity and eroticism” of today’s society, it is wrong to tell young people they can use this method without warning them of the risks.

“It is not a contraceptive, because it is taken after one has had sexual relations during which fertilization may have taken place.  If it has, the pill prevents implantation and is thus abortifacient.  To call it a contraceptive is a linguistic trick in order to not have to say what it is in reality,” said Bishop Marulanda.

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Iraqi Catholics call on Arab Muslim countries to condemn terrorism

Rome, Italy, Apr 16, 2004 (CNA) - Fr. Nizar Semann, an Iraqi priest from the region of Mossul, told the Fides News Agency that the time has come for Arab Muslim nations to condemn terrorism.

After confirmation of the murder of Fabrizio Quattrochi, one of the four Italian hostages being held a radical Iraqi Islamic group, Fr. Nizar told Fides “it is time for the Arab world to condemn terrorist acts like the brutal assassination of an Italian hostage.”

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Fabrizio Quattrochi,” said Fr. Nizar, adding, “Unfortunately I fear that the Italians have been kidnapped by a group connected with Al Qaeda, because the methods used in this killing bring to mind this organization.”

The Iraqi priest underscored that “this barbaric killing would probably not have taken place if Arab countries had taken a clear and decisive position against terrorism.”

The Islamic terrorists are still holding the other three Italians, who are all members of a security team working for the establishment of peace in Iraq.

The group is demanding that the Italian government officially apologize to Arab countries for “stepping foot on the land of Islam,” withdraw its troops from Iraq, and free all Islamic clerics who have been arrested in Iraq for inciting violence.

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Catholics must be coherent in faith and politics: Archbishop Chaput

Denver, Colo., Apr 16, 2004 (CNA) - Catholics must be coherent in their political choices and vote for political leaders whose platforms are in line with their faith and clearly prioritize the right to life, said Archbishop Charles Chaput.

The archbishop said pro-choice political candidates, who claim to be Catholic, have placed some Catholic citizens in a political bind. He warned Catholics not get fooled this election year by candidates who claim to be Catholic but who publicly ignore Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life.

The archbishop’s statement, which appears in the latest  issue of the Denver Catholic Register, has already caused a stir among “pro-choice” Catholics.

“A lot of Catholic candidates don't know their own faith,” said the archbishop, explaining why some Catholic politicians continue to advocate legislation that is pro-choice and “that threatens and destroys life.”

It is for this reason that the Vatican issued a little document last year On Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Public Life, he said.

Drawing from the document, the archbishops said: “Unless our personal faith shapes our public choices and actions, it's just a pious delusion. Private faith, if it's genuine, always becomes public witness — including political witness.”

Christians must recognize differing points of view in the political sphere, but they must also “reject, as injurious to democratic life, a conception of pluralism that reflects moral relativism,” he said, quoting the Pope.

He warned against “phony” definitions of pluralism and tolerance and argued that Catholics can only ensure “real” pluralism by living and acting in conformity with their religious convictions, even in their political choices.

“Politics is the exercise of power. Power always has moral implications. And God will hold each of us accountable … for how well we have used our political power to serve the common good and the human person,” he said.

Right to life, first and foremost

Despite all of the important political and social issues, “the right to life comes first,” said the archbishop. “It precedes and undergirds every other social issue or group of issues,” he said.

Catholics have a duty to work tirelessly for human dignity at every stage of life, and to demand the same of their lawmakers, he said.

“Catholic lawmakers, who do not vigorously seek to protect human dignity and the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, are not serving democracy,” he said, but “betraying it.”

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After hectic Holy Week, Pope goes on mountain excursion

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican Press office announced on Friday, that owing to the strenuous liturgical ceremonies of Holy Week and Easter, Pope John Paul took Thursday afternoon off when he left the Vatican for several hours on an unannounced excursion to Altipiani di Arcinazzo.

Located in the Italian region of Lazio, 45 miles east of Rome, Altipiani di Arcinazzo is known for its two peaks, Mount Altuino and Mount Scalambra, and for its archaeological ruins, including the vast and imposing ruins of the villa of the Roman Emperor Trajan.

The nearby town of Arcinazzo Romano is home to about 1,500 people.

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