Archive of May 11, 2004

Search for new ways to preach the Gospel, fulfill mission of mercy and peace

Vatican City, May 11, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father lauded the members of the Pontifical Missionary Works at their general assembly this morning saying that their work helps transmit the Gospel “to the ends of the earth.”

"The objective of the general assembly of your Superior Council is to search for the ways of the Lord for a renewed mission in a world in continual change.  Concern moves you to bring love and mercy to all peoples,” said John Paul II.  He noted that the fact that they were updating their statutes “shows the will to continue to fulfill your mission of ‘mercy and peace.’”

"You are like Simon of Cyrene,” said the Holy Father, “helping the Savior to bring the Cross to every person who suffers and is dying. You are true missionaries in a world marked by globalization, one in which suffering for truth and justice transcends every national border." The Pope noted that the “suffering and needs are greater” in the Third World, and must be given “special consideration.”

Pointing to the serious concerns that exist in the developed world, the Pope said: "When you are anguished over the suffering of other peoples and work to alleviate their great need for help, you too are working to help your own peoples to escape the narrow ways of selfishness and of being suffocated by abundance, emptiness and attitudes, sometimes unworthy of human beings."

I urge you," he concluded, "to collaborate, as you are already doing, with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in a continuous search for 'new ways' for the Gospel.  Missionary zeal and cooperation are the reason for your existence and the only purpose for your tireless 'concern for all churches' for the world's salvation."

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Six new saints to be proclaimed this Sunday in St. Peter’s Square

Vatican City, May 11, 2004 (CNA) -

This sunday, May 16, the Holy Father will canonize six blesseds.

The blessed to be canonized are:

  • Nimatullah Al Hardini (1808-1858), priest of the Lebanese Maronite Order;
  • Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962), mother of a family.
  • Luigi Orione (1872-1940), priest and founder of the Little Work of Divine Providence and of the Congregation of the Little Sisters, Missionaries of Charity;
  • Hannibal Maria di Francia (1851-1927), priest and founder of the Congregation of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus and of the Religious Daughters of Divine Zeal;
  • Josep Manyanet y Vives (1833-1901), priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sons of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth;
  • Paola Elisabetta (1816-1865), foundress of the Institute of Religious of the Holy Family.

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Pope sends condolences to families of victims and survivors of Grozny explosion

Vatican City, May 11, 2004 (CNA) - This morning a telegram offering condolences to the families of the victims of the bomb blast in a Grozny stadium on Sunday was sent in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state. It reads as follows:

"Deeply saddened by the news of the serious attack in the Grozny stadium that has caused many victims, the Supreme Pontiff expresses sentiments of deep condolences to the family members and to the survivors. While entrusting to Divine Mercy the souls of those who so tragically died as well as all the victims of violence, His Holiness assures everyone of his prayers that Chechnya, with the contribution of everyone, may find the just path of dialogue and reconciliation."

Six people including the president of Chechnya, Akhmad Kadyrov, were killed in the explosion and about 60 people were injured.

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Catholic student tortured to death in Pakistan for refusing to deny faith in Christ

Konigstein, Germany, May 11, 2004 (CNA) - Javed Anjum, a 19-year-old Catholic student from Quetta in Pakistan died from torture wounds inflicted by Muslim extremists in Faisalabad on May 2.

The news, reported by “Aid to the Church in Need,” was confirmed by Bishop Joseph Coutts who presided at Javed’s funeral on May 3, after having seen the 26 wound marks on his body.

“Please pray for the breaved family of Javed and also for us as we take up this struggle for justice. We have a new martyr. Sad as we are, Javed’s strong faith and his blood, like that of all martyrs, will strengthen us,” said Bishop Coutts.

The bishop also appealed to local Catholics not to stage violent protests or strikes as the case is being legally prosecuted. He was also quick to point out that many Muslims have condemned the murder and have expressed their solidarity with the Catholic population.

According to Bishop Coutts, on April 16, while Javed Anjum was with his family visiting relatives in the district of Toba Tek Singh, he stopped by a mosque to drink some water from a tap and subsequently disappeared.  Five days later, he was brought to the police station by some men who belonged to the Madrassah, a Quaran school, which was nearby the mosque, claiming that he was caught trying to steal a water-pump. The police, seeing that he had been badly beaten and was only barely conscious, immediately sent him to the nearby hospital. In the hospital, “before losing consciousness,” said the bishop, “Javed stated that his torturers were forcing him to recite the “kalma”, the brief one-line Muslim credo. The recitation of the kalma is sufficient to make a person officially a Muslim. Javed refused. He died a Christian.”

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“The Passion of the Christ” DVD to be released in August

, May 11, 2004 (CNA) - Icon Productions has announced this morning that Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" will be released on DVD on August 31 in partnership with 20th Century Fox.

“The Passion of the Christ” is the highest grossing movie of the year so far and one of the top 10 of all time. To date it has earned in excess of $368 million at the box office.

The DVD version of the Latin and Aramaic movie will be presented with English and Spanish subtitles and the VHS version with English subtitles.

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With limited resources Church Cuba provides health care to thousands

Havana, Cuba, May 11, 2004 (CNA) - Despite growing material needs, the Cuban Bishops Conference has reported that the Church in Cuba will redouble its various social programs that give assistance to over 19,000 people monthly.

The services are coordinated through the 600 parishes which in one month have recruited more than 4000 volunteers to assist and visit the elderly, shut-ins, Down’s Syndrome sufferers and single mothers.  According to Rita Petrirena of the Pastoral Coordination Office of the Bishops Conference, pastoral services include ministries for the infirm, prison ministry, justice and peace, and Catholic Charities.

“Catholic Charities in Cuba has a membership of more than 15,000 volunteers, with many more during emergencies,” said Catholic Charities director Maritza Sanchez.

The institution, she added, relies on volunteers who are not necessarily professionals in social work, but rather who have had a broad formation in the social teachings of the Church and are capable of designing projects and helping in areas such as care for the elderly, the handicapped, emergencies and rehabilitation.” 

Catholic Charities in Cuba receives funding from the European Union, specifically for ministry to the elderly, as well as from Catholic Relief Services in the US and Catholic Charities offices in European countries, such as Germany, Sweden and Switzerland.

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Archbishop reminds mothers that children are always a gift from God

San Juan, Puerto Rico, May 11, 2004 (CNA) - Marking the celebration of Mother’s Day, Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez of San Juan Puerto Rico, reminded mothers that “a baby is always a gift from God,” and he thanked God for “women who have accepted the challenge to be mothers.”

In his Sunday homily, Archbishop Gonzalez condemned abortion and, in reference to its legality, recalled that “what is legal is not necessarily morally acceptable.”

“A baby is always a gift from God.  Life is a gift from God.  I would not like to think that someone might have an abortion because of economic difficulties.  We have a saying here in Puerto Rico: ‘Where two can eat so can three’,” said the Archbishop, adding that during the celebration of Mother’s Day, “we give thanks to God and to the women who have accepted the challenge of being mothers.”

Archbishop Gonzalez reiterated the Archdiocese’s offer that any woman who finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy and is considering abortion, to approach the Archdiocese of San Juan and receive all of the economic, emotional, psychological and spiritual support necessary to carry the baby to term.

During his homily the Archbishop expressed thanks to God for “the presence of mothers in our world--an irreplaceable presence.  Each human being has the right to enjoy the love of his or her mother and to grow up beneath her shadow,” he added.

Likewise, Archbishop Gonzalez acknowledged the desire of Puerto Rican families to increase their standard of living, but he emphasized that economic limitations are not an impediment to faithfully fulfilling the vocation to motherhood or fatherhood.

“Poverty, as such, does not impede a women’s fulfillment as mother.  In fact, the vast majority of us were born in the context of relative poverty.  Therefore, I don’t think that poverty is the main problem, although we must work to overcome it,” he explained.

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Bishops to support mayors who refuse to distribute abortion pill

Santiago, Chile, May 11, 2004 (CNA) - Several bishops in Chile have announced their firm support for the right of mayors to refuse to distribute the morning after pill, after the government’s Ministry of Health announced it would force local leaders to make the abortifacient drug available in their municipalities.

Archbishop Antonio Moreno of Concepcion announced his support for the mayors who refuse to make the pill available and he called on the government to refrain from employing “totalitarian” actions to force distribution.

The Archbishop spoke on Chilean television, saying, “An imposition of this type constitutes the essence of totalitarianism.”  “Totalitarianism consists in wishing to impose a specific political or ideological vision upon the totality of human existence and to submit the existence of mankind to this regime,” he explained.

Bishop Manuel Camilo Vial of Temuco reminded mayors that they have the right to conscientiously object to the distribution of the drug.

“It may cost them their jobs, but if in their conscience they feel they cannot approve of a medicine that will cause an abortion, the death of a living being, I believe we call those consequences,” he said.

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