Vatican City, May 5, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father meditated on the Canticle of St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians in today’s general audience, which presents the “great figure of Christ” as “Lord of the universe,” and “Lord of the history of salvation…‘Because in Him all things were created. Everything was created by Him and for Him.’”
“Therefore,” he continued, “there exists the transcendent plan of God which is carried out by His Son. He is also the Lord of the history of salvation which manifests itself in the Church and is brought to fruition in the 'blood of the cross,' font of peace and harmony for all of humanity.” Christ’s presence in history means that it “is not subject to blind and irrational forces despite sin and evil, it is subject and directed - through Christ's work - to plenitude," said John Paul II.
The hymn, he said, "depicts a beautiful vision of the universe and of history, inviting us to have faith. We are not a small particle of insignificant dust, dispersed in space and time without meaning but rather we are part of a well-thought out project which comes from the Father's love."
Vatican City, May 5, 2004 (CNA) - Thirty-three new recruits will be sworn into the Pontifical Swiss Guards at 5pm tomorrow in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace. Members of the Roman Curia, and Swiss civil and religious authorities will be present at the event.
At 7:30 a.m. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States, will preside at Mass at the Altar of the Cathedra in St. Peter's Basilica for the Swiss Guards and their family members.
At 8:45 a.m. there will be a ceremony in the Honor Courtyard of the Swiss Guard Barracks in Vatican City to honor the fallen members of the Corps. May 6 is one of the most significant dates in the history of the Swiss Guard, and was chosen for the swearing-in of the new recruits because it is the day when 147 Swiss Guards died protecting Pope Clement VII against the army of Emperor Charles V, during the Sack of Rome in 1527.
The main duty of the Pontifical swiss Guard, founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II, is to protect the person of the Supreme Pontiff and the Apostolic Palaces.
The oath to be taken is as follows: "I swear to faithfully, loyally and honorably serve the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the See is vacant. Furthermore I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors respect, fidelity and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me."
Each recruit is called by name and confirms the oath in his native tongue, one of four official Swiss languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. All will be represented tomorrow.
The patron saints of the Pontifical Swiss Guards are St. Martin, St. Sebastian and the Swiss, St. Niklaus von Flue, "defender of the peace and father of the Country."
, May 5, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota, appealed to both pro-life and pro-abortion Catholics to listen to the words of Christ and follow his teachings with regards to right-to-life issues in a recent homily. Citing St. Justin Martyr and St. Paul, the bishop also said that those who do not live according to the Gospels and follow Church teachings should not receive the Eucharist.
The bishop spoke on this theme because he said he could not remain silent in light of the recent debate in the media on whether Sen. John Kerry, a pro-abortion Catholic, and other pro-abortion politicians should be able to receive Communion.
“I have the responsibility and duty before God to teach and to present to you the teaching of the Church on the matter of living one’s faith in the world,” said the bishop.
One’s faith and political life should not be lived separately, he said. Bishop Aquila pointed out that the split between the faith and one’s daily life is an egregious error that was addressed during Second Vatican Council in 1965.
The bishop said “the seriousness of the error is far greater today,” since abortion is now legal in the United States.
He went on to cite Gaudium et Spes, one of the Second Vatican Council documents, which teaches that there should be “no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other. The Christian who neglects his temporal duties, neglects his duties towards his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation.”
“My sisters and brothers, pro-choice Catholics, Catholics for a free choice, must listen to those words, for they are the truth rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.
The role of the laity in particular is to seek “the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs,” emphasizing that they are called to order them according to the plan of God.
“That is the responsibility of every Christian,” the bishop said. “That is the responsibility of every Catholic politician – to order all temporal affairs according to the plan of God, according to the way of God. The teaching is clear, based in Scripture and tradition.”
The bishop spoke regarding the question of sanctions for Catholics who are pro-abortion, citing the words of St. Justin Martyr, who said: “No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.”
“I would remind Catholic politicians, clergy and all of the faithful of the words of St. Paul when he reminds the people who are not living their lives according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and yet still receive the Eucharist that they bring judgment on themselves,” he said. “They bring judgment on themselves. Let those words sink in.”
The bishop reminded the faithful that at the end of one’s life, “God will not be interested if we were a Republican, an independent, or a Democrat. He will not even be interested in what occupation we had in life. What He will be most interested in is our faithfulness to Him and our faithfulness to His Son. What He will be most interested in is if we loved Him, no matter what the cost, and if we obeyed His commandments.”
Caracas, Venezuela, May 5, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Roberto Lucker of Coro, Venezuela, said this week the Church in that country will assume a relevant role in the struggle against violations of human rights and he announced the creation of a National Vicariate for Human Rights.
The archbishop explained that the established regime in Venezuela fails to respond to denouncements of human rights violations. Therefore, he said, “we are organizing the National Vicariate for Human Rights, where we will collect the complaints that are coming from the interior of the country.”
The archbishop added that victims of human rights violations can come to the offices of the Bishops Conference in order to request assistance or counseling. “There will be a team of professionals, including sociologists, lawyers, and scholars who follow up on the complaints,” he said.
Santiago, Chile, May 5, 2004 (CNA) - The Minister of Health in Chile, Pedro Garcia, is threatening mayors with sanctions if they refuse to distribute the morning after pill in their municipalities.
Garcia was openly uncomfortable with a statement by Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz of Santiago, which called on the faithful to obey God when innocent life is at stake and emphasized the Church’s rejection of “emergency contraception” because of its abortifacient effect.
Garcia told reporters that the statement “could be interpreted as an act of rebellion by the Church. But here there has been a separation between Church and state for a long time.”
In addition, he claimed the “opinion” of the Catholic Church about the drug cannot be “imposed against a technical directive.” Those mayors, he proceeded, who are opposed to the pill will be summarily sanctioned if they refuse follow government directives.
Cardinal Errazuriz expressed his support to reporters for the mayors who, exercising their right to conscientious objection, refuse to distribute the controversial drug. Bishop Tomislav Koljatic of Linares also threw his support behind the mayors. “I know them all and I know their good intentions. They believe that they way to help people is by teaching them about human promotion and the defense of life, and not by attacking life,” he said.
Washington D.C., May 5, 2004 (CNA) - The American Life League issued a letter yesterday to every member of the United States Congress, urging them not expand embryonic stem-cell research. The letter was presented in response to a request, submitted by 206 House members April 28, that President Bush expands research in the field.
The league is calling on President Bush and members of Congress “to seek ways to advance the ethical scientific research that is being done using stem cells that do not require the destruction of human embryos.”
Judie Brown, president of American Life League, and Fr. Joseph Howard, director of the league’s American Bioethics Advisory Commission issued the letter on behalf of “thousands of Americans who oppose the willful destruction of human beings during their first days of life.”
The American Life League argues that there is no scientific evidence to prove that the use of embryonic stem cells can contribute to treatment for human diseases. Instead, the league argues that research has “overwhelmingly concluded” that adult stem-cell research is promising. In addition, adult stem-cell research does not have the ethical problems and “deadly results inherent in human embryonic stem-cell research,” reads the letter.
The league points out that the request submitted by the 206 Congressmen does not acknowledge human embryos as persons. Embryos “are still human beings and should be treated with the same respect with which we treat all members of the human family,” the league argues.
“Medical research that is dependent upon the destruction of human beings for its advancement is not only immoral and unethical, but a stark reminder of times gone by when scientists in another country treated human beings as though they were mere objects,” says the league. “We do not want to see the same tragic mistake made here in America.”
Madrid, Spain, May 5, 2004 (CNA) - In his address to the Spanish Bishops Conference meeting this week in Madrid, Conference president Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco said the principal issue that the bishops need to face is the "internal secularization which is afflicting life of the Church herself."
Addressing the Apostolic Nuncio and the Spanish bishops, Cardinal Rouco recalled the last visit of Pope John Paul to Spain, the aftermath of the election of a new government, the issue of government policy on education, the possible recognition of homosexual unions and the law on abortion.
Referring to the terrorist attacks of 3-11, the Cardinal said that "appealing to religious motives as justification for terrorism is especially scandalous and perverse," but at the same time he warned against falling into generalized accusations against Islamic people.
Regarding homosexual unions, Cardinal Rouco said they can never be given the same social status as marriage and the family. "It's not about denying legitimate rights to anybody, but rather about a complete and coherent defense of the rights of the family."
Cardinal Rouco said the Church today is the principal defender of the right to life of all human beings, in particular of those most vulnerable.
According to the Cardinal, the 80,000 abortions that have taken place in Spain over the last year should be cause for "true alarm in society because of what they mean in and of themselves and because they indicate a lack of moral sensibility." "This is not something peculiar to Catholics but rather a question of basic humanity and of great transcendence for the future as well," he added.
Cardinal Rouco also mentioned the question of Church-State separation, saying the right to religious freedom means that on the one hand, "no human power" should be allowed to prevent the free exercise of religious beliefs, and on the other, that "conditions in which persons and religious communities can live out their lives in accord with their beliefs, both in private and in public, must be positively and equitably favored."
Washington D.C., May 5, 2004 (CNA) - Medical doctors continue to testify to the atrocities committed during partial-birth abortions in three federal court cases currently being heard in New York, Nebraska and California. An official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued excerpts from the trial transcripts, in which doctors recount in frank terms how fetuses in their fifth and sixth months are killed with forceps or scissors.
When the ban on partial-birth abortions became federal law last November, Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed lawsuits in three federal courts – in New York, Nebraska and California – claiming that the ban takes away a fundamental constitutional right. Pro-life groups and the U.S. Catholic Church firmly disagree.
“The transcripts, while not easy reading, should be required reading for politicians who voted against the ban,” said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq. director of Planning and Information for the USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, testifying in the New York trial, spoke of how it is "necessary to insert our forceps, open them as wide as possible to try to capture the head within the opening of the forceps and then crush the head using external force applied against the head." She admitted there is "usually a heartbeat" when she performs a partial-birth abortion, and that even when she collapses the skull, the baby is still "living."
Another New York witness, Dr. Timothy Johnson, was asked to describe what doctors use to crush the head. He described the instruments as "tongs" but "thick enough and heavy enough that you can actually grasp and crush with those instruments as if you were picking up salad or picking up anything with...."
Here, he was interrupted by Judge Richard Casey, who interjected: "Except here you are crushing the head of a baby."
"Correct," said Dr. Johnson.
Dr. William Fitzhugh told the Nebraska court that his only worry was delivering a live baby. "The one thing that ... I don't want the staff to have to deal with is to have a fetus that you remove and have some viability to it, some movement of limbs, because it's always a difficult situation."
Cluse, of USCCB pro-life office, remarked how there was no sentiment in Dr. Westoff's description of stabbing the baby’s head with scissors or her own finger causes it to look "a little wrinkly and collapsed, but the facial structures are not disturbed at all by that procedure.”
“Even the ‘small coffins’ and ‘little hats’ available to ‘cover the back of the head where the incision had been made’ are discussed with an insouciant air,” stated Cluse.
Cluse pointed out that the only emotion doctors expressed was anger, and it was expressed when the question of fetal pain arose.
Judge Casey in New York asked Dr. Marilynn Fredriksen if she tells the mother whether the procedure will be painful for the fetus.
The doctor tried to evade the question by answering: "The intent [is] that the fetus will die during the process of uterine evacuation."
But the judge pressed on: "Ma'am, I didn't ask you that. You will deliver the baby partially and then insert a pair of scissors in the base of the fetus' skull. ... Do you tell them whether or not that hurts the fetus?"
In response, Dr. Fredricksen snapped: "I have never talked to a fetus about whether or not they experience pain."
However, a pain specialist in the California trial, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand, said: "There will be pain caused to the fetus. And I believe it will be severe and excruciating pain."