Archive of April 28, 2004

Seek God’s face in prayer, says Pope

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II taught today that the way to attain the vision of God’s face in this life is to participate in the liturgy and develop an intense prayer life.

The Holy Father today spoke of the second part of Psalm 26 entitled, “The prayer of the persecuted innocent,” in his weekly general audience. He called it “a song of faith raised to the Lord on the dark day of assault by the wicked,” in which the “decisive element is the faith of the supplicant in the Lord Who saves us in times of trial and sustains us in tribulation.”

The psalm contains three symbolic elements: “The first, which is negative, is the nightmare of the enemies…false witnesses who breathe violence out of their nostrils”, said the Pope. “There is an aggressive evil in the world whose inspiration and guide is Satan.”

The second “clearly illustrates the serene confidence of the faithful, even when abandoned by their parents.” He urged that these consoling words of the psalm be received by the elderly, sick and lonely, “so that they feel the fatherly and motherly hand of the Lord who silently and lovingly touches their faces which are sad and perhaps wet with tears.”

‘Seek His face.  I will seek your face, Lord!  Do not hide your face from me,’ said the Pope, citing the psalm before expounding on it’s third element and recurring theme:  “The face of God is the goal of the supplicant’s spiritual search. … In the language of the psalms ‘seek the Lord’s face’ is often synonymous with entering the temple to celebrate and experience communion with God. … In liturgy and in personal prayer, we obtain the grace to envision that face that we will never be able to directly see during our earthly existence.”

The Pope concluded by calling to mind the patron saint of Italy and Europe, Saint Catherine of Siena, whose feast the Chruch celebrates tomorrow. “May the example of this great saint help everyone to persevere in the faith and to bear generous witness to Christ and His Gospel in every moment.”

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“Still much to accomplish” to eliminate nuclear threat, says Vatican U.N. observer

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2004 (CNA) - Although the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) “has contributed to international peace and security, there is still much to accomplish,” said Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations.

He spoke yesterday in New York at the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT. The meeting which began on April 26, concludes May 7.

He recalled the ideal of the NPT, which “promised a world in which nuclear weapons would be eliminated and nuclear technological cooperation for development would be widespread.”

He said that a weakening commitment to the application of the principles of the treaty is a cause for concern which threatens to undermine it. This is a serious danger in “the current geo-political environment” said the archbishop. “The threat posed by global terrorist networks acquiring weapons of mass destruction, requires us to reinforce these commitments. At the same time, it is becoming obvious that nuclear business as usual cannot continue.”

He mentioned three major causes for concern: 1)Nuclear-weapon States have not given evidence of fulfilling their obligations related to the elimination of their nuclear arsenals; 2) Non-nuclear-weapon States Parties have Article II obligations which include not receiving, transferring, manufacturing or otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons yet “it is becoming clear that peaceful (use of nuclear energy) can be too easily diverted into weapons programs”; 3) “Yet another problem is posed by States which remain outside or withdraw from the NPT.”

The Vatican’s position, said the Archbishop, is that “a ‘peace’ based on nuclear weapons cannot be the peace we seek in the 21st century. … A global dialogue is necessary” which “should be multilateral, informed by public opinion and the views of expert analysts.” He affirmed the Holy See’s support for “an international conference to identify ways to eliminate nuclear dangers, such as those explicitly mentioned in the U.N. Millennium Declaration.”

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Cardinal not 'comfortable' denying Communion

Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2004 (CNA) - The cardinal in charge of a new task force, which will decide if Catholic politicians who advocate positions counter to Church teaching should receive the Eucharist, said he is not comfortable in denying the sacrament.

Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C., was named to head this new task force, created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops April 23, the same day the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments issued a new document on the norms for the celebration of the Eucharist.

Francis Cardinal Arinze, prefect of the congregation, told reporters that day that bishops in each country are to decide who is eligible to receive Communion, according to the norms.

A debate in the U.S. Church about whether pro-abortion Senator John Kerry should receive Communion has been followed closely in the media.

"I have not gotten to the stage where I'm comfortable in denying the Eucharist," Cardinal McCarrick was quoted as saying yesterday.

He told the Associated Press that Catholic politicians who advocate policies contrary to Church teaching on abortion and other issues might risk lesser sanctions instead.

The possible "penalties" the cardinal mentioned include: no honorary degrees from Catholic universities, no honors from dioceses, and no invitations from Catholic institutions to speak publicly.

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National prayer breakfast shows U.S. Church is ‘alive’

Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2004 (CNA) - The first ever National Catholic Prayer Breakfast held this morning is “evidence that the Church is alive and well in America,” said Joseph Cella, president of the event. The event drew more than 1,000 Catholics from across the United States.

"The overwhelming response has confirmed our belief that this prayer breakfast is meeting a great spiritual need within our country at this time," said Cella. "We hope this event will help to inspire Catholics to be guided by their faith in every aspect of their lives, both public and private."

The event, held at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., began with the rosary at 7 a.m., followed by a mass and breakfast.

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson represented President George W. Bush, and Cardinal Avery Dulles addressed the role of Catholicism in public service.

The purpose of the event, said Cella, “is to thank God for the blessings he has bestowed upon America and the Church.”

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Church closures affect wedding plans in Boston

Boston, Mass., Apr 28, 2004 (CNA) - They’ve confirmed the guest list, the catering and the flowers, but couples scheduled to get married in the Archdiocese of Boston will soon have to confirm the church.

Archbishop Sean O’Malley plans to announce a significant number of parish closings next month, just as wedding season gets underway, which may mean that a large number of weddings will have to be relocated to other churches.

It's not clear how many weddings will be forced to move since the archdiocese has not yet decided how many churches will be closed.

The closures are necessary due the decrease in mass attendance, priests and contributions. Local church leaders have already submitted their recommendations for church closures to the archbishop.

Spokesman Fr. Christopher Coyne said the archdiocese is concerned about helping people find churches for their upcoming celebrations.

The archdiocese yesterday called on priests to assist brides and grooms, who will be affected by the closures, in finding alternative churches.

As well, each of the 357 parishes were asked to submit to the archdiocese a schedule of upcoming weddings and other important events, such as anniversary celebrations. This list would enable archdiocesan officials to help people find alternative churches as well, said Coyne.

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Prelate attempts to bring calm to southeastern Peru

Lima, Peru, Apr 28, 2004 (CNA) - Msgr. Elio Perez, Prelate of the Vicariate of Juli, Peru, has traveled to the country’s southeastern area on the border with Bolivia in order to join an official committee that is seeking to put an end to the social unrest in the region where a mob of angry protesters beat to death the local mayor.

After 24 days of tension and complaints against Mayor Fernando Robles, who was accused of corruption and misapplication of funds, protestors kidnapped him and beat him to death.

Speaking with on local radio, Msgr. Perez said in the last weeks, the situation has become uncontrollable and that despite efforts by the Church to mediate in the crisis, dialogue has not been possible.  Church officials themselves, he added, were in danger of being assaulted by the protesters.

“From the start of this situation on April 2, when a town meeting was held with the mayor who made his statements, we saw that people were very upset with him and demanded he step down.  The Church in Juli, together with other institutions, tried to get involved to offer mediation so that the situation could be resolved as soon as possible.  Unfortunately the positions taken were so radical that dialogue was not possible,” said Msgr. Perez.

According to the prelate, Peru’s southeastern region has become a no-man’s land.  “It got to the point that people couldn’t even work because both sides in the conflict had taken such radical positions.  It was this way until this past Monday.  When the Vicariate learned that things were becoming violent, we intervened to bring calm.  But the people were furious and they even tried to attack the representatives of the Vicariate, who had to take refuge in a local parish.  Dialogue was not possible,” said Msgr. Perez.

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Archbishop denounces legislature’s initiative to sterilize poor Argentineans

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 28, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of La Plata, Héctor Aguer, denounced an initiative from the Legislature of Buenos Aires to promote the surgical sterilization of men and women among the poorest members of the population.

During a TV show last saturday in Buenos Aires, the Archbishop denounced the initiative which, because it is seen as a means of curbing poverty, “will be applied to poor people,” he said. According to Archbishop Aguer, although the project requires written, informed consent, on the part of the sterilizee, “it is easy to obtain this consent by propaganda, pressure, or a little money among poor people”.

He said that Argentina may imitate “the totalitarian regimes in which sterilization” was applied in massive way. “It happened in China, India and Peru, as a response to requirements from international organizations such as the United Nations and great financial centers of the world” that don’t want poor countries with large populations.

The Archbishop emphasized that Argentina needs “an effective family support policy in order to help poor families surmount their poverty and misery.”

This initiative, he concluded, “has a destructive power that I hope will not prosper, but we must be on guard,” against further such initiatives that attempt to deal with the problem of poverty by seeking to eliminate the poor.

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