Archive of April 23, 2004

Holy See publishes clear rules to protect the celebration of the Eucharist

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, headed by Francis Cardinal Arinze presented "Redemptionis Sacramentum, On Certain Matters To Be Observed Or To Be Avoided Regarding The Most Holy Eucharist," at a press conference held in the Holy See Press Office.

Present alongside Arinze was Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, secretary of the congregation, and Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which had a hand in the preparation of the document. “Redemptionis Sacramentum” was published simultaneously in Latin, English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.

The document is divided into 10 parts; 8 chapters plus a preamble and a conclusion.  Its objective is to provide instruction to bishops, priests, and all the faithful on the correct norms to be adhered to, and abuses to be avoided, in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

In Chapter I, "The Regulation of the Sacred Liturgy," the document speaks of the role and responsibilityof the Apostolic See, the diocesan bishop, the episcopal conference, priests and deacons in the regulation of the liturgy.

Regarding episcopal conferences, the document states that "all liturgical norms that a conference of bishops will have established for its territory in accordance with the law are to be submitted to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for the 'recognitio', without which they lack any binding force."
Chapter II is entitled "The Participation of the Lay Christian Faithful in the Eucharistic Celebration" and notes that “the community that gathers for the celebration of the Eucharist absolutely requires an ordained Priest, who presides over it so that it may truly be a eucharistic convocation.

On the question of altar servers, it states that "it is altogether laudable to maintain the noble custom by which boys or youths, customarily termed servers, provide service of the altar after the manner of acolytes, and receive catechesis regarding their function in accordance with their power of comprehension”.

Chapter III, "The Proper Celebration of the Mass," highlights "The Matter of the Most Holy Eucharist" and emphasizes that “the bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made”. Regarding the wine, it states that it “must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances." In the same chapter, the instruction says that the proclamation of the Eucharistic Prayer, is proper to the Priest, who must not vary at will the texts of the Sacred Liturgy that they are charged to pronounce.

The instruction states that a homily is given by a priest, occasionally by a concelebrating priest or deacon "but never by a lay person", and also “the priest may give the sign of peace to the ministers but always remains within the sanctuary, so as not to disturb the celebration."
This Chapter concludes that “it is strictly to be considered an abuse to introduce into the celebration of Holy Mass elements that are contrary to the prescriptions of the liturgical books and taken from the rites of other religions."

Chapter IV, "Holy Communion," includes Dispositions for the Reception of Holy Communion. It states that “anyone who is conscious of grave sin should not celebrate or receive the Body of the Lord without prior sacramental confession, except for grave reason when the possibility of confession is lacking; in this case he will remember that he is bound by the obligation of making an act of perfect contrition, which includes the intention to confess as soon as possible."

Concerning the reception of communion, the document notes the right of all the faithful to receive it in the mouth or by hand. In this latter case, it notes that “special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand." Also, regarding intinction, "the communicant must not be permitted to intinct the host himself in the chalice, nor to receive the intincted host in the hand."

Chapter V, "Certain Others Matters Concerning the Eucharist," states that "it is never lawful for a Priest to celebrate in a temple or sacred place of any non-Christian religion."

Regarding the sacred vessels, “any practice of using for the celebration of Mass common vessels, or others lacking in quality, or devoid of all artistic merit or which are mere containers, as also other vessels made from glass, earthenware, clay, or other materials that break easily.”

On priestly vestments: "the vestment proper to the priest celebrant at mass ... is the chasuble, worn over the alb and stole. Likewise the Priest, in putting on the chasuble according to the rubrics, is not to omit the stole."
Chapter VI is entitled "The Reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist and Eucharistic Worship Outside Mass." It states that "the Most Holy Sacrament is to be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is noble, prominent, readily visible, and adorned in a dignified manner.”

The document strongly encourages "both public and private devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist even outside Mass should be vigorously promoted, for by means of it the faithful give adoration to Christ, truly and really present."

Chapter VII, "Extraordinary functions of the Lay Faithful” reiterates that "only out of true necessity is there to be recourse to the assistance of extraordinary ministers in the celebration of the Liturgy.”

Concerning  preaching, the Instruction states that "the homily on account of its importance and its nature is reserved to the Priest or Deacon during Mass."

The document states that “it is unthinkable on the Lord's Day to substitute for Holy Mass either ecumenical celebrations of the word or services of common prayer with Christians from the ... Ecclesial Communities or even participation in these communities' liturgical services."

Chapter VIII, entitled "Remedies," states that "among the various abuses there are some which are objectively graviora delicta (grave act) or otherwise constitute grave matters, as well as others which are nonetheless to be carefully avoided and corrected."

The chapter concludes with a paragraph on the right of the Catholic faithful to report any liturgical abuse: "Any Catholic, whether Priest or Deacon or lay member of Christ's faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan Bishop or the competent Ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan Bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity."

The Conclusion exhorts “all Christ’s faithful to participate in the Most Holy Eucharist as fully, consciously and actively as they can, honouring it lovingly by their devotion and the manner of their life,” and calls ordained ministers to examine their conscience “even with severity”, on  “whether he has respected the rights of the lay members of Christ’s faithful, who confidently entrust themselves and their children to him, relying on him to fulfill for the faithful those sacred functions that the Church intends to carry out in celebrating the sacred Liturgy at Christ’s command. For each one should always remember that he is a servant of the Sacred Liturgy.”

> Read the Document here

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Cardinal: No Communion for Pro-Abortion Catholics

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - During a press conference on Friday, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, reiterated that pro-abortion Catholics cannot receive Communion.

When asked by a journalist whether priests should refuse communion to a politician who is unambiguously pro-abortion, he replied, “Yes. If the person should not receive it, then it should not be given. Objectively, the answer is there."

The Cardinal was earlier asked a question concerning the eligibility of Senator John F. Kerry, a supporter of abortion rights, to receive Communion, which he refused to answer directly, allowing only that "the norm of the Church is clear.”

“The church exists in the United States,” he added, “there are bishops there, let them interpret it."

The questions came at the end of the press conference, which was held to present the document “Redemptionis Sacramentum: On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist.” The text was drafted by Cardinal Arinze’s congregation in order to provide instruction to the Catholic faithful on the correct manner of Eucharistic celebration.

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Kerry supports abortion rights, pro-choice march

Washington D.C., Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - Two days prior to a pro-choice march that is expected to draw one million people to Washington D.C. democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry confirmed abortion rights as a major focus of his presidential campaign.

"I believe that in the year 2004 we deserve a president who understands that a stronger America is where women's rights are just that, rights, not political weapons to be used by politicians of this nation," said Kerry, stating his support for Sunday’s march.

 His comments come on the same day of Cardinal Francis Arinze’s reiteration that any Catholic in support of abortion may not receive Communion.

Cardinal Arinze reafirmed the Church’s teaching in response to a journalist’s question at a press conference in which he presented the Vatican document "Redemptionis Sacramentum”, regarding the celebration of the Eucharist.

Judy Brown, president of the American Life League, criticised Kerry´s position of being personally opposed to abortion while supporting abortion rights as hypocritical. "There is no such thing in the Catholic Church as personal morality. There's only right and wrong," she said. Kerry has said that he would nominate only Supreme Court justices who support abortion.

The pro-choice march will be attended by  Pro-choice America, the Planned Parenthood Federation – which today endorsed Kerry -, other pro-abortion groups and individuals.

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“Redemptionis Sacramentum” only reiterates norms already existing in the Church.

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - During the press conference in which the document "Redemptionis Sacramentum, On Certain Matters To Be Observed Or To Be Avoided Regarding The Most Holy Eucharist” was introduced, Archbishop Sorrentino, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, which drafted the document, emphasized that it “does none other than reiterate existing norms.” That is, it is not to be understood as teaching anything essentially new.

The instruction set forth in the document, he added, “should arouse in the
Church a healthy curiosity and a generous welcome, to contemplate with renewed stupor this great mystery of our faith and to give incentives to appropriate Eucharistic behavior and attitudes."

Anticipating some criticisms of the Vatican’s decision to publish the document, Cardinal Francis Arinze, the prefect of the congregation, underscored that the idea that too much time is wasted on dealing with abuses that will always exist, “can lead us into error”, he said. “Abuses are not to be taken lightly."

He added that the abuses that have occurred in the liturgy over the years “have been a motive of anguish for everyone…In some places the perpetration of liturgical abuses has become almost habitual, a fact which obviously cannot be allowed and must cease."

Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which collaborated on the document, added that celebrating the Mass in an “arbitrary” manner not only "deforms the celebration, but provokes doctrinal insecurity, perplexity and scandal among the people of God."

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Pope John Paul commends “creativity in charity”

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - "The mission you fulfill with admirable apostolic zeal is very precious,” said the Holy Father on receiving the Italian group Circolo San Pietro, on Friday.

“By going out to help the poor, bringing aid to the sick and suffering, you witnessin a concrete way to that "'creativity in charity' to which I invited people in the Apostolic Letter 'Novo Millennio Ineunte'."

In thanking them for their solidarity with the poor and their annual donation to Peter´s Pence, the Holy Father said that their commitment was "animated by a convinced fidelity and adhesion to the Successor of Peter,” and nourished “every day in prayer and listening to the Word of God.” He added that “the secret of the efficacy of our every prayer is fidelity to Christ."

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Stay of same-sex marriage decision necessary to prevent legal chaos, say family groups

Boston, Mass., Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - The Thomas More Law Center and several other pro-family legal groups filed a petition April 21 to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on behalf of a private citizen, seeking to stay the court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

The petition claims the stay is necessary to prevent legal chaos, reported

In effect, the petition asks the court to put on hold its decision in the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health so that the constitutional process to amend the state's constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman – which is already underway – can proceed without interference and will not be undermined.

The court decision had defined civil marriage as "the voluntary union of two persons as spouses, to the exclusion of all others," and ruled that it is unlawful to deny same-sex couples the benefits and protections of marriage under Massachusetts' state law.

As a result of this decision, same-sex couples will be permitted to marry in the state as of May 17.

Other pro-family law groups joining the Thomas More Law Center in the petition include Citizens for the Preservation of Constitutional Rights, Liberty Counsel, and AFA Center for Law and Policy.

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‘Passion’ still seeking broadcast deal, networks not biting

, Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - As of yet, Mel Gibson's Icon Productions has been unable to sign a contract with a broadcast network for its blockbuster, "The Passion of the Christ." The film earned $360.9 million in the U.S. alone since its Feb. 25 release.

Icon has already approached ABC, CBS and NBC. ABC has already turned down the film, and executives from the other major broadcasters, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that it was doubtful they would sign a broadcast contract.

Showtime declined, and HBO said it already has a full line-up for the next year, reported AP April 20. The Starz pay cable network hasn't made a decision, and neither has Fox, which is awaiting the evaluation of its broadcast standards department, reported AP.

Some television analysts speculate that the movie's graphic scenes of Jesus Christ's crucifixion may be too violent for broadcasters. As well, some broadcasters may not want to inherit the controversy that surrounded the film during its release.

But the founder of the Parents Television Council, a media watchdog group that wants TV networks to stop airing graphic violence, told AP that if networks turn down "The Passion" because of violence, it would be hypocritical.

"There doesn't seem to be a problem with other violent content," Brent Bozell told AP. He said the movie "may be violent, but it is also one of the most beautiful, powerful and instructive movies ever made.” He said the council would not endorse nor oppose a broadcast of the film.

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Catholic pilgrims launch Peace Marathon in the Holy Land

Jerusalem, Israel, Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - Fifteen Italian athletes will participate in the Jerusalem-to-Bethlehem Peace Marathon today with the aim of encouraging peace in the region and Catholic pilgrimages to the Holy Land, says a report on

They will run a 10-km route along the walls of Jerusalem's Old City to Bethlehem, carrying a torch blessed by Pope John Paul II.

The Italian delegation, which includes another 200 pilgrims and athletes, is led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar of the Diocese of Rome and president of the Italian Bishops Conference, and Dr. Gianni Petrucci, president of the Italian National Olympic Committee.

The Italian Bishops Conference, the Italian Olympics Committee, and the Vatican organized the event. The Israel Tourism Ministry, the Jerusalem municipality, the Israel Olympics Committee, the Israel Police, and the Israeli Foreign Ministry have assisted in the efforts.

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Church must ensure participation of laity in evangelization, says Cardinal

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - During a visit to an evangelization center, Cardinal Eusebio Sheid of Rio de Janeiro said it is the task and responsibility of Church to ensure participation of the laity in the work of evangelization.

The Cardinal explained that “the Holy Spirit does not bestow carisms on just men or just women, nor does the Spirit reserve ministry in the Church for a single class of people;” thus, “today more than ever we need to call upon the ministry of the laity.”

“Ministry work is one of the most wide open aspects of evangelization,” the Cardinal added, during his visit to an evangelization center which offers a wide variety of pastoral services, including Bible studies, social outreach and charity work.

Meanwhile Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Vitoria da Conquista recalled that “one of the most significant marks of the life of the Church is the participation of the laity.  This is an important patrimony, a legacy of the Second Vatican Council which the Church must carry forward.”

Archbishop Rocha added that the laity should also participate in “the responsibilities and in the processes of decision-making and management, as members of the People of God.”

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Cubans offer prayers for release of prisoners of conscience

Havana, Cuba, Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - Dozens of Cubans opposed to the Castro government gathered in Havana this week to offer prayers for the release of political prisoners being held in the country.

The gathering was organized by Yolanda Triana, whose husband Orlando Alvarez is one of the 75 dissidents sentenced to lengthy prison terms last year.

Family members of other political prisoners, opposition leaders and a priest from the Orthodox Church participated in the prayer service as well, calling for respect for human rights and freedom for prisoners of conscience.

Triana, who after her husband’s arrest assumed leadership of the Pedro Luis Boitel Association of Political Prisoners—an organization that is considered illegal by the Castro government—expressed her profound concern about the state of her husband, who has been on a hunger strike since April 15.

She said her 47 year-old husband had suffered a heart attack before he was imprisoned and that during the last year he has been diagnosed with diabetes.  She also revealed that her husband suffers from hypertension and stomach ulcers and that last December he underwent surgery to relieve an intestinal obstruction.

Triana said she recently sent a letter to Prison authorities explaining her husband’s situation.

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Spanish Archbishop: government should listen to all the people and avoid partisan ideology

Madrid, Spain, Apr 23, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Agustin Garcia Gasco of Valencia, Spain, said this week in order for democracy to be authentic, politicians who assume leadership should govern by listening to all sectors of society and not close themselves in their own partisan ideology.

In his weekly letter entitled, “Ideology and Democracy,” the Archbishop recalled that democracy “allows for the expression of the equal dignity of all human beings” and “promotes the widest participation, taking care that movements toward totalitarianism or the monopolization of political power in favor the few do not occur.”

In this sense, democracy “assures that politics does not tyrannically usurp social life, respecting thus people’s individual initiative and the identity of human groups that do not depend on political power.”

Therefore, the Archbishop said that political parties that assume power with their respective ideologies “should not govern only for the exclusive benefit of the government in power,” because ideologies “are not ends in themselves, but rather are only positive inasmuch as they can be useful for building up the common good with principles that do not stray from human rights.”

Moreover, he recalled that the Spanish Constitution recognizes that “many other channels and means of expression in society exist, apart from the irreplaceable role of political parties, and which should be heard,” and that as such “it is not a question of taking legitimacy away from political parties but rather of joining forces in certain areas and issues.”

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