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Archive of April 22, 2004

Pope met with heads of the USCCB

Vatican City, Apr 22, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II received, in a private audience on Thursday morning, the leadership of the United States Bishops' Conference (USCCB), in the context of the Ad Limina visit of the North American bishops, which began in March and will continue for the next 10 months.

The Holy Father met with Bishops Wilton Daniel Gregory of Belleville, William Stephen Skylstad of Spokane and Msgr. William P. Fay, respectively president, vice president and secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Catholic college on the horizon for Diocese of Pheonix

Phoenix, Ariz., Apr 22, 2004 (CNA) - A project to start a Catholic college in the Diocese of Pheonix got the push and support it needed by Bishop Thomas Olmsted this week.

The bishop appointed the vicar general of the diocese, Msgr. Dale Fushek, to oversee the project April 20, reported the Arizona Republic.

The school had been discussed for at least 10 years but it only began to take shape in 2000.

The college, which could welcome up to 5,000 students, would be built on 125 acres of donated land at the Verrado master-planned community near the White Tank Mountains. Fundraising was to have begun in January 2003. Original plans indicate that the De La Salle Christian Brothers would operate school.

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‘Call to Compassion’ rally urges structural reform, aid to the needy in Denver

Denver, Colo., Apr 22, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic Charities Denver has invited elected officials and public citizens to answer a call to compassion this Saturday at an all-day rally that will seek to urge elected officials to keep the poor and marginalized within society in mind when they address policy issues.

Call to Compassion: A Rally for Our Neighbors in Need was organized along with the Colorado Catholic Conference Northern Colorado Legislative Network.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver will lead the rally, which is to be held on the west steps of the State Capitol from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Other speakers include James H. Mauck, president of Catholic Charities Denver, and Rev. David Williams of Abyssinian Christian Church.

Over the last three years, Colorado’s budget cuts have negatively affected programs that service the poor, needy and marginalized. Without fiscal structural reform, rally organizers say, the current situation will not improve.

"The moral test of any society is how it treats the least among us," said Timothy Dore, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference. "The rally is an opportunity to remind elected officials as well as all of us that we must show compassion toward all human life and the common good when voting, at the State Capitol or in the voting booth on Election Day."

Approximately 4,600 Coloradans, who are disabled and unable to work, had their modest monthly stipend dramatically reduced when the budget to the Aid to the Needy Disabled Program was cut in half in the 2003-2004 fiscal year, making it difficult for people to maintain proper housing and nutrition.

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Pro-life conference to address “controversies and challenges” facing Mexican families

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 22, 2004 (CNA) - Several pro-life groups in Mexico are hosting the IV Life and Family Congress on April 24-25 in Mexico City, on the theme, “Controversies and challenges for the family.”

According to the conference coordinator, Ana Ochoa, Bishop Jose Guerrero of Mexicali will participate in the opening of the event.  The first talk will be called “The New Human Rights” and will be given by Jorge Scala, an Argentinean lawyer and legal advisor to the Latin American Council for Life and the Family.  His presentation will explain how “new ideologies seek to impose a radical vision concerning morality and human rights.”

Other subjects to be addressed during the event include “Drugs in the New Millennium” and “Pornography and the electronic media,” which will be given by Mark Kastleman, founder and president of the Life Dynamic Institute in Salt Lake City, who will explain in scientific terms “how pornography and sexually explicit material in movies, on television and the internet create an addiction in the human brain similar to that caused by drug abuse.”

Dale O-Leary, researcher and member of the National Association for Research & Therapy on Homosexuality, will deliver a talk on “Homosexuality: myths and realities” and “Marriage and adoption in the new public policy.”

On Sunday, April 25, medical surgeon Carlos Yeomans will talk on “The myth of ‘safe sex’,” providing a scientific explanation of “how the deceitful marketing of the condom as ‘an effective contraceptive method’ is criminal and exposes people to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.”

Lastly, Paola Scarinci of Del Bosco will address the subjects of “The new ideologies: Where are they seeking to take us?” and “Controversies and challenges for the Family,” and Osiris Reyes will talk about the “CEDAW: the new world order.”

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Largest German Catholic charitable organization appoints Opus Dei member as new Secretary General

Konigstein, Germany, Apr 22, 2004 (CNA) - The General Council of the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), during its annual meeting in Königstein April 21, has nominated the successor of the current Secretary General Antonia Willemsen (64), who will retire in May 2005.

The next Secretary General will be Dr. Norbert Neuhaus (50), a German national. He studied economics at the University of Bonn and received a doctorate in international economics from the Sorbonne in Paris. For more than 27 years he has been a member of the Catholic Personal Prelature Opus Dei.

His professional experiences include heading the department for market-studies at the German-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris, managing one of the companies of Werhahn group where he was responsible for the French and Spanish branches, and serving as Vice-mayor of the city of Trier in which he was in charge of 9 services and 10 municipally owned companies.

Since 1999, he has been working as an independent business consultant, especially for Catholic entities. Dr. Neuhaus has traveled extensively in West-, Central- and South-East Europe, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, India, China, Japan and the USA.

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“Passion” breaks box-office records in Spain: two million see the film in 20 days

Madrid, Spain, Apr 22, 2004 (CNA) - According to the film distributor Aurum, “The Passion of the Christ” continues to break records in Spain, with more than two million people having seen the film, which is being shown on 300 screens throughout the country since April 2.

Just in the region of Valencia, more than 240,000 people, according to representatives of Aurum Productions, have seen the movie.

Valencia and Murcia have a combined viewership of 332,600 people, “which equals more than $1,905,739 in ticket sales, from the 42 prints that have been sent to the different theater chains,” sources said.  In Valencia, seven copies of the prints were distributed, “corresponding to the number of screens on which they are being shown.”

Ticket sales in Valencia have indicated a positive response from the public, which in turn means, “these types of movies, if they are well-made, can be very successful,” said Fr. Jose Luis Barrera, who has organized several forums and roundtable discussions concerning the movie in parishes across Valencia, in an interview with the AVAN news agency.

Across Spain entire theaters have been rented out for showings and for discussion groups after the film ends.

Meanwhile the soundtrack for the movie, composed by John Debney, has sold more than 500,000 copies, making it a gold record, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Mel Gibson’s film has now become the seventh biggest film of all time, and since its February 25 release in the US, it has brought in more than 360 million dollars.

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Expert explains how 9-11 affected relations between the Holy See and Israel

Rome, Italy, Apr 22, 2004 (CNA) - In an article to be published this Friday in the religious section of L’Espresso online, Vatican watcher Sandro Magister analyzes the efforts of the Holy See to revitalize the life of Christians in the Holy Land as well as the impact September 11 had on relations between Israel and the Vatican.

Magister explains that despite tensions between the Vatican and Israel brought on by such matters as the issuing of visas for Catholic religious and priests, the Vatican is encouraging visits to the Holy Land in order to help alleviate the economic difficulties the Christian communities are facing.  This initiative, which has a positive impact on the whole country, is viewed very positively by Israel.  Nevertheless, based on the analysis of Italian political scientist Silvio Ferrari, Magister explains the three main focal points of Vatican policy regarding the Holy Land--the maintaining of the presence of the Christian communities, the safeguarding of holy places, and the peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and the discrepancy between the Holy See on the one hand, and the US and Israel on the other.

The analysis by Ferrari, which Magister includes in his article, states that “the differences are not marginal ones, but rather they are two different interpretations of the sociopolitical processes underway in the Arab countries:  one emphasizes the threats to the identity and economic interests of the West, while the other focuses principally (with a long-term vision) on the issues of integration and the necessity of an integral economic balance between north and south, and on the possibility of making the Mediterranean region a place of convergence for different civilizations.”

Magister’s article will be available Friday at: www.chiesa.espressonline.it/english

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Embryos not really used to find cures for disease, says Australian bishop

Sydney, Australia, Apr 22, 2004 (CNA) - People have been misled into believing that ‘excess’ human embryos will be used to find cures for Parkinson’s disease and other medical conditions, says Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney.

"This is not what these human embryos will be used for," he told the Catholic Weekly. "Four of the first five licenses have gone to IVF (in vitro fertilization) clinics to improve their techniques. It is not, as claimed, permitting the destruction of human embryos with a ‘heavy heart’ in the interest of finding cures for people,” he said.

"All five of the licenses are connected to IVF teams, not to university medical research centers," he underlined.

Bishop Fisher says the issuing of the licenses by the National Health and Research Council just followed "a bad decision made years ago to allow IVF clinics to make more human embryos than they need".

Senator Brian Harradine described the permits as “licenses to kill.”

"A certain class of human life will now be considered expendable for profit," he said.

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