Archive of May 10, 2004

Mary’s love for humankind cannot be ‘extinguished’, says Pope

Vatican City, May 10, 2004 (CNA) - If people were aware of the spiritual maternity of Mary, they would be much more fraternal toward each other, said Pope John Paul II in his midday address yesterday. They would also reject hatred and violence, forgive and respect each other, and be mindful of the dignity of every person, he added.

The 82-year-old pontiff gave his address before praying the Regina Caeli with pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope said during the month of May, which the Church has dedicated to Mary, “the people of God feel the need to intensify their devotion toward Mary, whose maternal presence is a support to Christians and to the whole world.

“On the cross, Jesus wished to offer, in a manner accessible to all, the spiritual maternity of Mary, giving her to his beloved disciple as son. Since then, generations upon generations of believers have invoked her and taken recourse to her with love and hope,” he said.

Quoting from the encyclical “Redemptor Hominis” he added: “If God's mercy is inextinguishable, the immaculate heart of his mother is also ‘maternally inextinguishable’.”

The Pope reminded the pilgrims of the upcoming feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13, and Our Lady’s call to conversion.

“Let us pray, dear brothers and sisters, so that human beings of our time will also accept the urgent invitation of Mary, who, with love, watches over the Church and the world,” he said.

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Vatican official says “Torture grave offense to God.”

Vatican City, May 10, 2004 (CNA) - In the wake of the scandal in the United States surrounding the disclosure of pictures depicting acts of torture and inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, said last week those acts constitute a scandal that “offends God Himself.”

“The violence that man perpetrates against man offends God himself,” said Archbishop Lajolo, during an interview with the Italian television network RAI, which aired a report on the tortures and abuse committed by soldiers at the Abu Gharib prison.

Last week the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an editorial saying the torture of Iraqi prisoners was “incompatible with the standards of a great democracy."

Photos and videos of the abuse have sent shockwaves through American politics.

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“Passion” inspired artwork of Gibson’s assistant director Jan Michelini to be unveiled in U.S.

Los Angeles, Calif., May 10, 2004 (CNA) - Mel Gibson’s assistant director for “The Passion of the Christ”, Jan Michelini, will unveil the artwork inspired by the film on May 12 at the Kolibri Gallery. The unveiling, which takes place at one of the largest galleries in the U.S. will be attended by a host of celebrities from the worlds of art, music, film and philanthropy.

Michelini, 24, was deeply inspired by the experience of working on the film in which he was struck twice by lighting – once during the filming of the Crucifixion scene, and once during the filming of the Sermon on the Mount.  Of the burst of creativity that produced the paintings of themes such as the face of Christ, angels and Christ crucified, he said, “I had so much energy from this movie and so many things changing inside of me, that I had to release it somehow."

He attributes his deepening faith to his work on the film which he calls his “second baptism.”  Jan Michelini has the distinction of being, along with his twin sister, the first baby ever baptized by Pope John Paul II at the beginning of his pontificate in 1978.

He recently completed his thesis on “The Passion of the Christ” and graduated from the Catholic University in Rome.  He has also studied cinematography under acclaimed director Emir Kusturica (“Underground”, “Time of the Gypsies”), and worked on "La Via Degli Angeli" ("Up To The Angels"), an award-winning Italian drama.

According to Michelini, the unfolding of his artistic expression has grown in equal measure to the deepening of his faith: "Whenever you breathe, whenever you sing, whenever you speak, there is something of your soul coming out ...  Faith in this world, it's in the atmosphere.  I want to carry a message.  I have to say something. It's very deep, but it's also very simple.  It's a message of love."

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Church helped develop ‘incomparable heritage’ for the world: John Paul II

Vatican City, May 10, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II underlined the prominent role the Roman Catholic Church has played, and continues to play, in the development of culture throughout human history.

The Pope spoke on the Church’s contribution to culture and the importance of preserving and promoting the development of culture in an address to the ambassadors of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) May 8.

The pontiff stated that culture provides people with the experience of a “truly human life.”

“The world's artistic heritage is a treasure of human creativity; it offers an eloquent testimony of the intelligence of humanity, which participates in the work of the divine Creator,” he said.

He pointed out that a significant expression of culture is found in the arts and sciences, which the Church has continually encouraged and supported.

The Church has “helped to develop an incomparable heritage of music, art and literature, which represents a significant contribution to the progress of culture,” he said.

Describing the Church as a “friend of the arts and sciences,” the Pope said that it “has constantly appealed to the fine arts to assist it in celebrating the gift of life and, very especially, its sacred rites in a worthy, just and beautiful manner.”

The Pope said the Church has also encouraged the development of the sciences through its promotion of the dignity and value of human life.

He cited three institutions that were established to help encourage development in several fields of science, such as the Pontifical Academy of Sciences – which recently celebrated its 400th anniversary – the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and the Pontifical Academy for Life.

The Pope lamented that currently war, poverty, racism and the exploitation of others often threaten progress.

“These harmful influences not only weigh on our human existence but they also hinder our capacity to build a better world,” he said. 

“I pray that organizations such as UNESCO will remain an essential element in the construction of a true culture based on peace, justice, and equity,” he told his audience.

The Pope gave the ambassadors a blessing and said he hoped that their visit to the Vatican would renew them in their work.

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Colombian bishops mediating to end oil workers strike

, May 10, 2004 (CNA) - This weekend the Colombian Bishops Conference began mediating between oil workers of the state-run Ecopetrol, and political leaders and experts in the field, in order to bring an end to the strike that is affecting the company.

Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz of Bogota and President of the Bishops Conference asked those participating in the discussions to maintain an atmosphere of civility, dialogue and tolerance, so that a solution can be found for the good of the country.

Bishop Jaime Prieto Amaya of Barrancabermeja recalled that the objective of the discussions is to provide a broad, democratic and pluralistic debate, in which all parties will analyze immediate solutions to the strike.

Bishop Prieto expressed his hope the talks would be sensible and effective and that they would satisfy the legitimate interests of all parties concerned as well as serve the common good.

The intention of the talks is to achieve an agreement that will put an end to protests by union workers who have been on strike for more than two weeks, rejecting a government decision to divide Ecopetrol into two companies.

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Doctors dispute abortion statistics in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 10, 2004 (CNA) - The Medical and Biological Ethics Society of Argentina both dismissed statements by Mabel Blanco, a feminist leader, who said that 500,000 underground abortions are taking place in that country each year, and responded to proposals by Buenos Aires lawmaker Noemi Oliveto to decriminalize abortion.

In a statement signed by the Society’s president, Luis Aldo Ravaioli, and secretary Juan Jose Dal Lago, the doctors denounced that “’just keep on saying it and the people will believe’ has been the slogan of totalitarian regimes since the beginning, in the past and in the present, be they violent or peaceful.”

According to the Society, statistics kept by morgues and by the Ministry of Public Health reveal that in reality, in 2002 “356 deaths resulted from complications during pregnancy, delivery, c-sections, post-partum recovery, miscarriages and legal and illegal abortions.”

The Society says lawmakers had no choice but to accept the evidence.  “Nevertheless, they insist in lying, distorting, exaggerating and coercing the public and lawmakers in order to convince them of the ‘humanitarian need to legalize abortion’.”

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