Archive of April 27, 2004

“Join the world of science and culture to the truth of the faith,” exhorts Pope

Vatican City, Apr 27, 2004 (CNA) - This morning the Holy Father summoned “Ecclesiastical cultural institutions” to “welcome, study, apply and develop the consequences” of the teaching agenda he set forth in his encyclicals concerning the relationship between faith and reason (‘Fides et Ratio’) good and evil (‘Veritatis splendor’), faith and culture (‘Redemptoris missio’), civil and moral law (‘Evangelium vitae’), the Eastern and Western world (‘Slavorum apostoli’) and the North and South (‘Centesimus annus’).

He delivered the message in an address to the Congregation for Catholic Education on the 25th anniversary of “Sapientia Christianae,”  the Apostolic Exhortation signed at the beginning of his pontificate concerning the exercise of the Church´s duty to teach. 

 The “noble vocation that distinguishes ecclesiastical universities and faculties” continued the Pope, is “to do everything in their power to join the world of science and culture to the truth of the faith in order to help others discover the saving nature of the divine plan in the reality of this world.”

The Pope emphasized the importance of studying “in depth the existing links between divine Revelation and new areas of knowledge in modern realities.”

The cultivation of topics such as or related to “safeguarding the dignity of the person, the defense of the weak and disadvantaged, respect for nature, rejecting violence, world solidarity,” is a particluarly important aspect of the universities’ mission at this time, and he noted the acheivements of scholars in the areas of “bioethics, Islamic studies, and human mobility.”

 He reminded teachers that their responsibility for the formation of students must go hand in hand with a duty to explore truth in depth.  They must be humbly open to God´s Word even as they rigorously seek perfection in their careers, always remembering that the authentic interpretation of Revelation is entrusted ‘only to the living Magisterium of the Church’, which exercises this duty in the name of Jesus Christ.”

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Long-awaited Compendium of Catechism in final stages, announces Vatican

Vatican City, Apr 27, 2004 (CNA) - The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a valuable instrument for the transmission of the faith eagerly anticipated by bishops around the world is nearing completion, says the Vatican.

“April 30 marks the end of the consultation process of all cardinals and presidents of episcopal conferences on the project for a Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which has been prepared by the special cardinals’ commission and the editing committee,” said Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls in a statement released this morning.

The Compendium is set to be about one seventh of the length of the Catechism. It will be written in a question and answer format, with a more literary style than the Catechism, in order to encourage the faithful “to a more frequent reading, setting up an ideal dialogue between the text and the reader.”

“In the preparations, an attempt was made to put into action what the Holy Father requested in his letter of February 2, 2003 to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: ‘The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church should contain, in a concise form, the essential and fundamental contents of the faith of the Church, respecting its completeness and doctrinal integrity, in such as a way as to develop a sort of ‘vademecum’ that allows people, believers and non-believers, to embrace, in a single, overall glance the entire panorama of the Catholic faith,” continued Navaro-Valls’ statement.

In order to assure it’s authoritativeness, said the Navarro-Valls,  the Compendium’s  ‘source, model and constant reference’ will be the Catechism.

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Employment should be guaranteed by the state and not by the business world, say Catholic academics in Europe

Rome, Italy, Apr 27, 2004 (CNA) - According to a revealing study by Italian researchers Luca Diotavelli and Roberto Cipriani, the majority of the Catholic “intelligentsia” in Italy distrusts the market and believes the state should be the principal provider of social well-being.

This according to a new article to be published Wednesday on “L’Espresso” online by Vatican watcher Sandro Magister.  Magister was allowed access to the results of the study, for which “a large section of the Italian Catholic intelligentsia” was surveyed. 

According to Magister, in many respects this group represents European post-conciliar thought and “when questioned about politics and the economy, they reveal a markedly state-centered orientation.”

In fact, according to statistics Magister will publish in his weekly column, 44% of those questioned believe the state should obtain a job for them; 48% believe the labor market should be less regulated and less flexible.

In general, says Magister, the distrust in the market is similar to what religious sociologist Peter Berger detected years ago among American intellectuals, and such feelings to lead to opposition of the teachings of the Magisterium especially in areas related to freedom in education.

Thus Magister shows that 72% Catholic intellectuals in Italy believe the role of state in education should increase rather than diminish, while “only 18% believe a more open, diversified and competitive atmosphere is needed.”

Magister’s article, which will be available this Wednesday, cites several Italian and American analysts and examines the how these beliefs will affect the future of Catholic and social thought.

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Main issue regarding Kerry is not Eucharist but distortion of Church’s teachings: Weigel

, Apr 27, 2004 (CNA) - Papal biographer George Weigel said the real issue for United States bishops regarding Sen. John Kerry is not whether he should receive Holy Communion – a matter for his local bishop – but how he is deliberately misrepresenting the teachings of the Church on abortion and life issues.

Weigel, a prominent Catholic theologian and a leading commentator on issues of religion and public life, provided these comments in an interview with in mid-April.

The main issue is being sidelined by all of the attention given to the Democratic presidential candidate’s eligibility for the Eucharist, a matter that belongs to his local bishop, Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston, said Weigel.

Instead, Weigel emphasized, the most important thing for U.S. bishops to do is to clearly state, as a collective, that the pro-abortion senator is misrepresenting the Church's pro-life teaching when he says it is “a sectarian position, which cannot be imposed on a pluralistic society.”

In doing this, Weigel told, Kerry “is willfully misrepresenting the nature of the Church's position – by suggesting that this is something analogous to the Catholic Church trying to force everyone in the United States to abstain from eating hot dogs on Fridays during Lent.”

“This is simply false,” Weigel told The Church's pro-life teaching, said Weigel, is something that can be engaged by anyone “because it's a position rooted in basic embryology and in basic logic, and anybody can engage that."

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U.S. bishops set up task force on politicians and Communion

Washington D.C., Apr 27, 2004 (CNA) - The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has created a task force to decide whether Catholic politicians, who advocate positions “in direct contradiction” to Church teaching, should receive Communion.

The announcement came in a written statement by USCCB president Bishop Wilton D. Gregory April 23, the same day the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship released an instruction document on the norms for celebrating the Eucharist.

In response to a reporter at the Vatican, Francis Cardinal Arinze, prefect of the congregation, said it is the responsibility of the U.S. bishops to determine whether Catholic politicians, who advocate positions opposed to the Church, should receive Communion.

Bishop Gregory stated that “each diocesan bishop has the right and duty to address such issues of serious pastoral concern as he judges best in his local church, in accord with pastoral and canonical norms.”

However, the “establishment of this task force is a clear sign of the seriousness with which we take these issues and continue to consider how best to interpret and apply the norms of the Church in their regard.”

The USCCB did not name task-force members, nor did it indicate when a decision can be expected.

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Abortion trials underway ignored by media, USCCB official

Washington D.C., Apr 27, 2004 (CNA) - As activists prepared for a pro-choice march April 25, which organizers called the March for Women’s Lives, federal courtrooms coast-to-coast heard graphic testimony, with little media coverage, about exactly what happens during partial-birth abortions, said Cathy Cleaver Ruse.

The director of Planning and Information for the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. bishops’ conference said “seasoned abortion doctors, have taken the stand to describe in astonishingly frank terms how they crush the skulls and dismember the bodies of infants in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy.”

Pediatric pain specialists have testified to the “excruciating pain” experienced by unborn children during partial-birth abortions, and other medical experts have testified that the procedure is “never necessary.”

Lawsuits were filed against the federal ban on partial-birth abortions when it was enacted last November, and trials began March 29 in federal courts in Nebraska, New York, and California. The Nebraska and California trials recently ended, though no rulings have been issued. The New York trial is still underway.

Ruse called Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion in the U.S., “a social experiment on the lives of women and children.

“After 31 years, we know almost nothing about abortion’s impact on women’s health, on marriages, or on surviving siblings — we don’t even know with certainty how many children have died,” she said. “Legalized abortion has been an unstudied, unchecked experiment.”

Statistics show that maternal health risks, fetal health complications, and rape account for only seven percent of abortions annually. Studies indicate two main reasons women have abortions are a lack of practical resources and emotional support.

“Abortion is a reflection that we have failed to meet the needs of women,” said Ruse. “Women deserve better than abortion.”

Full transcripts of the trials are available at

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In spite of problems Mexico pushes forward, says Cardinal

Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 27, 2004 (CNA) - At the conclusion of Sunday Mass, Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City said that despite the problems and the scandals, “in Mexico things are moving ahead.”

In the wake of corruption scandals and high-level disagreements between government officials, the Cardinal said, “This has been going on now for several weeks, but fortunately in Mexico things keep moving forward despite these political controversies.  I think these experiences have made the Mexican people more mature.”

“A few years ago, when something like this would happen, the stock market would crash, the peso would be devalued, investors would pull out, but fortunately thinks keep going forward despite the scandals,” added the Cardinal.

Cardinal Rivera exhorted Mexicans serve others and to seek holiness.  “The most important thing is to have examples of holiness.  We have been called to this vocation, no matter what we do in life; no matter what we do the most important thing is that we become saints,” he said.

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Venezuelan Archbishop calls for new efforts to help those in need

Caracas, Venezuela, Apr 27, 2004 (CNA) - During a deaconate ordination ceremony in the Cathedral of Valencia, Archbishop Jorge Urosa of the same diocese underscored the need for Catholics to renew their efforts to help those most in need of “material and supernatural goods.”

The Archbishop explained that “if we wish to strengthen the credibility of the Church, if we want the world to believe in Jesus, we need to give living witness to that concrete, sacrificial love that attends to the weak, the suffering and the needy present in all sectors, especially among our poor, marginalized and excluded brothers and sisters.”

In his homily entitled, “Love and Renewal,” the Archbishop referred to the deaconate ordination as a sacred action of “renewal and growth in the Church,” adding that “the Church is not renewed by lukewarmness or discouragement, nor by externals or theatrical gestures, nor by bizarre liturgies, nor by secularized attitudes or esoteric spirituality movements.”

The Archbishop underscored three areas of commitment for the new deacons: religious commitment, service to the poor, commitment to celibate and sacred love, “which you should keep with love, joy and spiritual fortitude all your lives.”

Archbishop Urosa emphasized that the Church, and especially the ministers of the altar, should always be at the service of everyone, especially those most in need, “just as our Lord taught us and as has been the living tradition of the Church throughout history.”

“Today in Carabobo, our Church should renew its efforts to be ever more present among the poor, to evangelize them and to bring them supernatural gifts.  But also to assist them, to embrace them with the generous and disinterested love of Christ, to help them out of their situation,” he added.

 “Therefore it is very important that the ministers of the Lord have an attitude of evangelical poverty: generousness, disinterest in money and in material things and comforts, a willingness to serve anywhere,” the Archbishop concluded.

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