Vatican City, May 4, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy See Press Office declared this morning that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, sent a letter to Bishop Jaime Jaramillo Monsalve of Santa Rosa de Osos in Colombia, in the name of Pope John Paul II, assuring him of his “prayers and paternal affection” for Fr. Cesar Dario Pena Garcia, the pastor of Raudal in Valdiva, who has been held by kidnappers for more than a month.
"The Pope encourages the bishop and priests of the diocese to continue with courage and hope in their commitment to evangelization, and he invites them to care for, with constancy, the spiritual and social needs of the faithful entrusted to them,” said Navarro Valls. The Pope “hopes for a rapid solution to this painful situation and wishes the joy and peace of the Risen Lord upon the entire diocese and all of Colombian society."
Vatican City, May 4, 2004 (CNA) - "For legal systems and juridical instruments to be of real service to all men and women, especially the poor and disadvantaged, they must uphold the whole truth of the human person,” said the Holy Father this morning in an address to members of the World Jurist Association who are holding a conference in Rome.
“It is therefore of utmost importance,” he continued, “that the various expressions of international law recognize and respect those moral and spiritual truths that are necessary for properly defending and promoting the dignity and freedom of individuals, peoples and nations.”
The Pope blessed them and expressed the hope that their work during the conference, which focuses on the legal issues concerning globalization and new economic realities, will make a contribution to this fundamental area of concern.
Boston, Mass., May 4, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Sean O'Malley apologized for upsetting women with his decision not to wash the feet of women on Holy Thursday and for his inclusion of feminism in a list of societal ills in a homily during Holy Week. The bishop’s statement appeared in his weekly column in the archdiocesan newspaper, The Pilot.
Several archdiocesan priests had reported that women in their parishes were offended by the feminism remark and the foot-washing ceremony.
The bishop drew criticism for listing “feminism” among negative forces in society during a homily April 6, during the Chrism Mass. However, he clarified in his column that there are expressions of feminism - such as demanding equal pay for equal work - that he supports.
“If someone were to ask me about feminism, I would say that there is feminism, which is a Christian imperative and invokes promoting the rights and prerogatives of women,” the bishop wrote.
“Thank God we have many noble examples of Christian feminism, and thank God we have many noble examples of Christian feminists in our church,” he wrote, citing Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the social activist Dorothy Day as examples.
“I am also very proud of the fact that in my years as a priest, a major part of my ministry has been promoting the rights and welfare of women,” he added.
Bishop O’Malley drew further criticism the following day when he declined to wash the feet of women on Holy Thursday.
In his column, the bishop said he was adhering to Church teachings, which hold that priests should wash only men's feet in an observance that marks Jesus' washing of his disciples' feet.
The bishop pledged that he would seek clarification on the matter during a scheduled visit to the Vatican in August.
"I am sorry if this controversy has been upsetting to our Catholic women, and I hope that these reflections will help you to understand that I more than value the gifts and contributions that women make to our church and to my own faith life," he wrote in The Pilot.
Boston, Mass., May 4, 2004 (CNA) - Despite the recent controversy in the press raised by Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s comments about feminism during Holy Week, the archbishop of Boston plans to visit Regis College May 15. Regis College is the only Catholic women’s college in the archdiocese.
Mary Jane England, president of Regis College, told the Boston Globe that a number of the alumnae were distressed at the archbishop's reference to feminism, and his decision to exclude women from having their feet washed on Holy Thursday.
But England said that she viewed the controversy as a distraction and that she was glad the bishop explained his position in his column in the latest issue of the diocesan paper, The Pilot.
“It can happen sometimes that you place words too close to one another, and they all sound like one thing, and I gather he had not intended for that to occur,” she was quoted as saying.
"The Catholic community has some very serious problems to work on, and we can't be distracted by ideologies or rubrics," she told the Globe. "I was glad the archbishop clarified his view of feminism. I don't think we should be distracted by this, because we have to keep our eye on the ball, focusing on keeping sure that no child is ever abused again and working with the poor and with new immigrants."
England expects the bishop will speak with students, as well as deliver a homily, during his visit May 15.
Boston College theologian and leading scholar on gender and Catholicism Lisa Sowle Cahill also welcomed the bishop’s clarification in The Pilot.
"This is a welcome clarification of the meaning of feminism, and a welcome defense of women's rights in society," Cahill told the Globe.
The feminism comment and the foot-washing ceremony drew sharp criticism from some Catholic women and were a subject of much discussion at a Boston College conference on women and Catholicism April 16 and 17.
Phoenix, Ariz., May 4, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has been making waves in the Diocese of Pheonix since his recent succession to Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien. The new bishop has come on strong on a number of issues – namely right-to life issues – and has drawn both support and criticism from some of the faithful, reported the Arizona Republic yesterday.
Some liberal Catholics fear a conservative shift in the diocese, said the newspaper.
In his first month in Pheonix, Bishop Olmsted’s commitment to battle abortion was evident. He participated in a series of prayer meetings and led the largest protest at Planned Parenthood in years on Good Friday this year.
The bishop also signed an interfaith statement calling for a reformed immigration policy. He met with several survivors of sexual abuse and plans to replace the local Church hierarchy.
He also reinstated the Latin Mass and suspended a priest last week after he heard allegations that the priest violated the rules of celebrating the mass by allowing a non-Catholic clergyman to take part.
The Arizona-Republic also reported that a letter surfaced last week in which he called for nine priests to remove their signatures from a document affirming gay rights.
In an e-mail, Bishop Olsmted told the Arizona Republic that his vision of the diocese is rooted in Pope John Paul II's statement, "Ecclesia in America."
While some have criticized the bishop for being autocratic and potentially less collegial others believe the diocese has been blessed with a sincere and holy man.
However, critics add the bishop should take more action in sexual-abuse lawsuits, Hispanic ministry and ecumenical affairs.
Bishop Olmsted succeeded Bishop O'Brien, who came under fire during a sex-abuse scandal and after a hit-and-run accident last summer.
Warsaw, Poland, May 4, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop John M. D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend broke ground Sunday for a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Warsaw, Indiana, reported the Times-Union.
The new church will meet the needs of the 25-year-old Hispanic parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe and serve as a shrine of pilgrimage for the faithful of the diocese.
"In the planning of our diocese for the great jubilee of 2000, we made the commitment that we would work with the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Milford, to build a church,” said Bishop D’Arcy. “For 25 years, this parish has celebrated mass in a building not worthy of the Holy Eucharist."
The church will be built on 11 acres, donated by Jerry and Savina Kralis. It will seat 500 people. The facilities will include meeting rooms, classrooms, a kitchen and dining area, a small residence and parking. The plan also includes a strategy for expansion.
The new facility will be a phased development and is to be built using as much volunteer labor and community involvement as possible.
"This is a great day for us,” Bishop D’Arcy told the crowd. “We're addressing the needs of Hispanics and other immigrant groups.”
The design of the church is the result of an international design competition, which was open to all. The diocese received 256 entries from around the world and announced the winner Dec. 12, on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The diocese selected the firm Ruben N. Santos, Oakland, as the winner.
The diocese originally announced in September 1999 that the new Hispanic church and shrine with social and educational facilities would be located on a seven-acre site in Milford. However, since then, the diocese received the donation by the Kralises in Warsaw.
Ottawa, Canada, May 4, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa hosted talks between the Canadian Prime Minister and the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, last week in his home.
The archbishop said the conversation between the two April 23 was “very friendly and very warm” and that discussion included Tibet’s relationship with China, reported Canadian Catholic News.
Archbishop Gervais said the Tibetan spiritual leader “was consistent with his message of nonviolence, and very respectful of China,” reported CCN.
Gervais told CCN that the way in which Prime Minister Paul Martin “sort of bent over backward to meet the Dalai Lama is very significant in terms of a spiritual meeting.”
During his four-day visit to Ottawa, the 68-year-old Buddhist monk encouraged Canada to take an active role in ensuring a continuing dialogue between Tibet and China. But Gervais said the spiritual leader didn’t raise the issue at the one-hour meeting with the prime minister.
After the meeting, Martin said there had been a brief discussion about human rights in Tibet and that he also raised the issue of the recent anti-Semitic attack at a Jewish school in Montreal.
“We have always been a nation of great mutual respect and understanding and I think for the Dalai Lama to come here and remind us of that basic human value is very, very important,” Martin said, according to the Canadian Press.
Madrid, Spain, May 4, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, is warning that Spain is at risk from the spread of neo-paganism, which is becoming more prevalent in some European countries.
“In some countries of Europe, there is a temptation to embrace neo-paganism, and although I do not believe that Spain is immediately at risk, nevertheless the risk exists because in today’s world everything gets passed around,” said the Cardinal as he concluded a visit to Valencia for preparations for the next World Meeting of Families, which will take place there in 2006.
Referring to the family, the Colombian Cardinal said that “in some places the family is under attack by legislators who promote laws that are unjust, if not evil, and which harm the family rather than help it.”
Moreover, he said, “There are leaders with a lot of rhetoric about the family, but in fact the laws they push are not in conformity with authentic family policy.”
Concerning the role of the media and the family, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo said some media outlets “do not believe in the family, in faithfulness, in the possibility of lasting marriage, in motherhood, and their message weakens the family, which is the principal hope of a people.”
The Cardinal insisted that “apart from the family there is no way to provide a complete education to the human person” and he wondered “if life styles that contradict human and Christian values flourish among young people, what will become of society in the future? What assurance is there that they will accept marriage? With what spirit of loyalty and lasting and committed love?”
Lastly, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo called on society to prepare itself “to form the next generations through the responsible education of children.” If not, “you can have millions of euros but lack the true treasures that make a nation rich in the authentic values of the person.”
Meanwhile, Valencia’s mayor, Rita Barbera, told the Cardinal the city is ready to provide all the necessary services to make the celebration of the World Meeting of Families a great success.
She expressed to the Cardinal her “satisfaction” at the election of Valencia as host of the event and asked that her thanks be conveyed to the Holy Father.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 4, 2004 (CNA) - At the conclusion of Sunday Mass in the Archdiocesan Cathedral this past Sunday, Cardinal Norberto Rivero of Mexico City, expressed his concern that in Mexico “the cloning of credit cards is rejected but not the cloning of human beings.”
The Cardinal reaffirmed the necessity to reject human cloning and announced that later in the day Church officials and medical experts would hold a press conference to explain their position and to outline the arguments against a law that allows for therapeutic human cloning.
Likewise, the Cardinal referred to the violence taking place in the country and said that although “we see signs of break-down, I don’t think this is the end of Mexico, nor does it mean democracy is at a stand-still, but rather we are in the midst of change in which we must all take part.”
Lima, Peru, May 4, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima is calling on Peruvians to reflect upon the recent acts of violence in southeastern Peru, underscoring that the truth cannot be played with if they want to bring peace to the country.
During his Sunday homily the Cardinal deplored the lynching of a mayor in southeastern Peru last week and expressed his solidarity with the victim’s family.
Cardinal Cipriani called Peruvians to reflection and to pray to God that truth and justice will again reign in the country.
“When we play with the truth, when we don’t care about giving each person his or her due (justice), then we find ourselves in a state of violence. We cannot allow the eye for eye, tooth for a tooth mentality to take over in our society,” he explained.
The Cardinal went on, “We must pray to the Lord to be able to hear His word so we can find the truth, because without the truth there is no justice” and without either of these “there is no future, and if there is no future the present falls prey to violence.”
Moreover, he recalled that “pastors must raise their voices. They must repeat that truth and justice are the basis upon which society moves forward. Truth must be reestablished again so that we can again respect and trust in justice.”
“What a shame that upon returning to my country I encounter this tragedy, which is not a tragedy for political discussions. We cannot watch a public authority get assassinated and simply turn it into a political discussion.” He added, “There is something wrong with society if we do not react to dramatic events like these.”