Vatican City, May 3, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father will travel to Switzerland’s capital, Bern, to attend the national gathering of Catholic youth on June 5 and 6. He will leave Rome by plane on Saturday June 5 at 9.45am and will land in Bern at 11.30am. He will return to Rome on Sunday evening at 8.45pm. The Vatican will soon publish a more detailed itinerary of the trip.
The visit will be John Paul II’s 103rd apostolic trip outside of Italy and his 4th to Switzerland, having visited the country 3 times previously in 1982, 1984, and 1985.
46% of Switzerlands 7 million inhabitants are Catholic, and are now the largest religious group in the country, due in large part to immigration in the late 20th century.
Protestants comprise 40% of the population and are in the minority for the first time since the Protestant Reformation, of which Switzerland was a major center. Among the population under the age of 40, the ratio of Catholics to Protestants is much higher and suggests a further reversal of the post-Reformation religious landscape in the future.
Vatican City, May 3, 2004 (CNA) - After praying the Regina Coeli from his study window with the crowd gathered in St. Peters square the Pope commented on the entrance of 10 countries, including his native Poland, into the European Union, and forcefully reiterated the need to remember that “the history of the formation of European nations goes side by side with evangelization.”
"The unity of European peoples," he said, "if it wishes to be lasting, cannot be just economic and political…the soul of Europe today remains united because it has as a reference point common human and Christian values…Thus, notwithstanding the spiritual crises that have marked the life of the continent up to our days, its identity cannot be understood without Christianity."
He stessed that it was "precisely for this reason the Church has wished, in recent years, to give a number of contributions to the consolidation of (Europe's) cultural and spiritual unity.”
“Only a Europe which does not remove, but rather rediscovers its own Christian roots can be up to the great challenges of the third millennium: peace, dialogue among cultures and religions, and the preservation of creation,” said the Holy Father.
The Pope noted that as he was speaking, Mass was being celebrated in Warsaw, by Cardinal Egan of New York and the Polish episopacy, along with various other European bishops, on the occasion of Poland’s entry into the European Union. "Together with you," he said, "I entrust to the wise, just and merciful Divine Providence the future of Europe, May it grow on the foundation of the love of Christ."
Sunday was also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations which John Paul celebrated by ordaining 26 men to the priesthood earlier in St. Peters Basilica. At the end of his address he said “I turn my special thoughts to all those who are involved in the path of formation to the priesthood and consecrated life, and I ask for prayers for many and holy vocations in the Church."
Vatican City, May 3, 2004 (CNA) - Last Sunday, the 4th of Easter and also the World Day of Vocations, the Pope ordained 26 deacons of the diocese of Rome to the priesthood, exhorting them to make Jesus the center of their lives in order to be “true apostles of the new evangelization.”
"I ordain you priests," said the Holy Father, "at a time in which, also here in Rome, strong cultural tendencies seem to want to make people, especially young people and families, forget God.”
“But do not be afraid,” he continued, “God will always be with you! With His help you will be able to take up the paths that lead to the heart of every man and to announce to him that the Good Shepherd gave His life for him and that He wants him to participate in His mystery of love and salvation.”
“In order to carry out this task Jesus must be the center of your life and you must be in intimate union with Him in prayer, daily personal meditation, faithfulness to the Liturgy of the Hours and above all in daily celebration of the Eucharist. If you are filled with God, you will be true apostles of the new evangelization because no one gives what his heart does not contain."
San Francisco, Calif., May 3, 2004 (CNA) - It is “equitable and just” to refuse Holy Communion to Catholics who contradict the fundamental Church teachings on human life, said the rector of St. Patrick’s Seminary in the Diocese of San Francisco. Fr. Gerald Coleman expressed this view in an article that he wrote, which was published in the diocesan paper.
Fr. Coleman’s article, entitled “Why pro-abortion Catholics can't take Communion: Dignity of human life and participation in Holy Communion”, appeared in the latest issue of Catholic San Francisco.
“The Church already excludes from Communion persons remarried without an annulment. Such persons are seen to be in contradiction to the Church's teaching on the sanctity and permanence of a valid marriage,” Fr. Coleman wrote.
“Extending this prohibition to include any Catholic who stands in unambiguous contradiction to fundamental Church teachings on human life thus seems equitable and just, but more importantly and hopefully, a call to conversion of heart and thinking,” he continued.
“The Eucharist is par excellence the sacrament of unity in the Church,” he said. “If we cannot be united with the Church in belief and action, then, should we not excuse ourselves from the Sacrament that signifies unity and faith by its very nature?”
Fr. Coleman suggested that, “from a pastoral point of view, it would seem wiser if a Catholic would make the necessary decision in his or her own regard about proper admission to Holy Communion, rather than waiting for a bishop's determination.”
The rector also said “Catholics must resist in our own lives all tendencies to give personal or political support to non-protection of human life in every stage and level of its being.”
Fr. Coleman recognized that the United States is not a Catholic society. However, he argued, pro-life concerns “are not Catholic issues alone; rather, they are human issues that affect our political and social lives.”
“As citizens, we cannot divorce our faith from our moral choices, a concept especially binding on lawmakers since politics must be concerned with true human life and social good,” he wrote.
He argued that there are “non-negotiable ethical principles that ground society,” which can never be compromised, such as the individual’s basic rights to life and to active participation in public life, as well as the protection of marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
Citing the “Doctrinal Note On Some Questions Regarding Participation of Catholics in Political Life”, which was issued by the Vatican in November 2002, Fr. Coleman emphasized that “lawmakers have a ‘grave and clear obligation’ to oppose any law that attacks these fundamental ethical principles.
“There is a rightful autonomy of politics from religion, but never from morality,” he said. “The faithful cannot live on two parallel levels, a spiritual level where one believes in fundamental ethical values and, on the other hand, a secular level where one lives out one's life in family, work, society and culture.”
Fr. Coleman lauded those bishops who have publicly urged Catholic lawmakers and politicians to live their faith in office, namely Cardinal Meisner, archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Biffi, archbishop of Bologna, Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston and Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He made particular mention of Archbishop Raymond Burke, who, on Jan. 8, said Catholic legislators who are pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia commit a serious sin and cannot receive Holy Communion until they "publicly renounce their support of these most unjust practices."
Fr. Coleman pointed out that Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans and Bishop David Zubik of Green Bay, Wisconsin, have taken similar stands.
Boston, Mass., May 3, 2004 (CNA) - The chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, who is one of the four judges who voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and authored the same-sex marriage decision, is under fire for an alleged ethics violation.
Brian Camenker, president of the Parents Rights Coalition, accused Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of violating the state's Code of Judicial Conduct when she gave the keynote address to the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association in 1999 and helped the group raise money in the process. Marshall was an associate justice at the time.
In her speech, she reportedly praised the new legal protections for homosexuals in her native South Africa and the "growing body of gay-friendly international jurisprudence."
Critics argue that Marshall’s involvement at the MLGBA event indicates that she could not be entirely objective regarding issues on the homosexual political agenda.
"Being at a fund-raiser is something you're not supposed to do," Camenker said. "But being at that fund-raiser and supporting the extension of homosexual rights and then ruling in a case that does that is a clear violation."
The criticism comes less than three weeks before Massachusetts begins issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples.
A spokeswoman for the Supreme Judicial Court and the homosexual bar association both deny that the $60-per-plate dinner was a fund-raiser. Marshall has reportedly refused to address the criticisms.
Last week, state Rep. Emile J. Goguen introduced legislation seeking the removal of the four judges who voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
South Bend, Ind., May 3, 2004 (CNA) - Upon the instruction of the bishop, the administration at St. Joseph High School withdrew its invitation to Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan to speak at commencement because his pro-abortion stance contradicts Catholic Church teaching.
Bishop John M. D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend said the school's theology teachers believe the Catholic governor's appearance would contradict the moral truths they teach. He told the Associated Press that he agrees with the teachers’ position.
A spokeswoman for the governor told the AP that Kernan is personally opposed to abortion but he supports a woman's right to choose abortion, in consultation with her family, physician and spiritual advisers.
St. Joseph High School is the governor’s alma mater.
, May 3, 2004 (CNA) - In his message for Labor Day (celebrated in many parts of the world on May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker), Cardinal Pedro Rubiano, Archbishop of Bogota, called on authorities and business leaders to renew their “commitment and obligation to respect the dignity of their employees” because “the dignity of each employee is inalienable.”
The Cardinal explained that “the international celebration of labor day and the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1st, provides us an opportunity to greet with special affection all workers in Colombia.”
“The Church recognizes and values the importance and dignity of human work as a source of progress and social wellbeing, as it constitutes a fundamental dimension of the existence of man on the earth,” said the Cardinal, adding that “this was the reason why Pope Pius XII in 1952 wanted to offer Christian workers a model and protector in the person of the glorious Patriarch St. Joseph, in his role as worker.”
“God has ordained and blessed work,” he continued, and He has “given man intelligence and a way to continue His work.” Nevertheless, “throughout history, these concepts have been clouded and workers have been denied their fundamental rights, such as the right to employment and to a just wage.”
Cardinal Rubiano said that “therefore, as shepherds, we implore that the feast of May 1st be a time of reflection for business leaders: they have the commitment and the obligation to recognize the dignity of their workers, making them participants of the benefits that the funds and the company provide.”
“As Christians, we contemplate blessed St. Joseph the Worker, model and example for workers, and united as Colombians we congratulate all workers, with whom we maintain the hope that social justice will become a reality, so that food will always be on the table and love and peace in our hearts and families,” he added.
On the other hand, the Cardinal expressed his “concern for children involved in the work of adults; for women whose labor rights are trampled upon; those who have been displaced or are unemployed and who aspire to live in equality and justice.”
Therefore, he added, “We invite all Colombians to celebrate May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker and international labor day, by raising a white flag over homes, places of worship and all buildings, or by carrying a white handkerchief in labor day marches, as a clear sign of peaceful resistance to violence, kidnapping and injustice and as a symbol of our commitment to the promotion of peace.”
“On this day we pray as well that the Lord might look upon us with kindness and bless us with gift of Peace,” the Cardinal concluded.
Vatican City, May 3, 2004 (CNA) - In a message sent to Bishop Salvatore Boccaccio of Frosinone, on the 17th centenary of the death of St. Ambrose, co-patron of the diocese, Pope John Paul II said the advance of secularism in societies formerly evangelized demands a heroic response of Christian sanctity.
In his message, the Pope recalled that “"In our times, secularism advances, threatening to lead societies of former evangelization to forms of agnosticism that constitute a real challenge for believers."
"In this context, the testimony of those who, out of fidelity to Christ and to the Gospel, have not hesitated to give their lives, acquires extraordinary eloquence. With their example, they encourage Christians to a courageous consistency to the point of heroism,” he said.
The Pope explained that, "Only those who are capable of following him to the end are able to place themselves without reservations at the service of man, the first and fundamental way of the mission of believers in the world."
Moreover, he emphasized that in order to respond to the apostolic commitment Christians should evangelize “bearing concrete witness to the love of God for each human being.”
"In the face of every person, without distinction of race or culture, and especially in the poorest and neediest of men, Christians recognize the luminous face of Christ," he said.
According to the Pope, "This is possible if we keep ourselves well anchored in prayer, if we nourish ourselves with the Eucharist and with the Word of God, if we renew ourselves constantly in the sacrament of reconciliation."
"The real priority for the baptized person consists in seeking holiness,” concluded the Pope, for "without a profound renewal of faith and holiness and without constant divine support, how could the ecclesial community face the great challenge of the new evangelization?"
La Paz, Bolivia, May 3, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Julio Terrazas, Archbishop of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, is calling on his countrymen to establish “reasonable dialogue” with the government in order to bring peace to the country and overcome tensions.
The Archbishop called on authorities to make an effort to implement policies that improve the quality of life for Bolivians, but he also called on citizens to initiate a “reasoned” dialogue with leaders and to be open to compromise.
“In order to save the country it is important there be a place for dialogue among all Bolivians, it is indispensable that we understand that democracy is the most reasonable way to live and be united with each other,” the Cardinal said at the conclusion of the General Assembly of the Bolivian Bishops Conference.
The bishops concluded their gathering with a document calling for unity and underscoring that dialogue is what makes solution of problems possible.