Vatican City, May 24, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father exhorted the American bishops to build towards a stronger culture of marriage and family, insisting that steps be taken towards the strong education of Catholics in the sacramental dimension of matrimony. He addressed his comments on Saturday to bishops from the United States provinces of San Antonio and Oklahoma City who are concluding their “ad limina” visit.
“Family life is sanctified in the joining of man and woman in the sacramental institution of holy matrimony,” he said. “Many today have a clear understanding of the secular nature of marriage, which includes the rights and responsibilities modern societies hold as determining factors for a marital contract. There are nevertheless some who appear to lack a proper understanding of the intrinsically religious dimension of this covenant.”
The Holy Father remarked that “modern society rarely pays heed to the permanent nature of marriage.” He asked that “the Church seek to offer better pre-marital instruction aimed at forming couples in this vocation and insist that her Catholic schools and religious education programs guarantee that young people, many of whom are from broken families themselves, are educated from a very early age in the Church’s teaching on the sacrament of matrimony.”
“The communion of love present in family life serves as a model of the relationships which must exist in Christ’s family, the Church,” the Pope added. “The family is placed at the service of the building up of the Kingdom of God in history” and the Church’s duty is to assist it, especially parents as “the main catechists in the family.” And, he said, the Church must “share the hurts and struggles of parents and families, as well as their joys.”
“Like a family, the Church is a place where its members feel free to bring their sufferings, knowing that Christ’s presence in the prayer of His people is the greatest source of healing.” Thus, the Church must maintain an active “family ministry and especially in those areas which reach out to youth and young adults. Young people, faced with a secular culture which promotes instant gratification and selfishness over the virtues of self-control and generosity, need the Church’s support and guidance.”
John Paul II noted that “as in any family, the Church’s internal harmony can at times be challenged by a lack of charity and the presence of conflict among her members. This can lead to the formation of factions within the Church which often become so concerned with their special interests that they lose sight of the unity and solidarity which are the foundations of ecclesial life and the sources of communion in the family of God. To address this worrisome phenomenon Bishops are charged to act with fatherly solicitude as men of communion to ensure that their particular Churches act as families, so that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”
In concluding, he noted that the United States, whose patroness is Mary Immaculate, is marking the150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in a special way. Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma on December 8, 1954.
Vatican City, May 24, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father spoke on Sunday, at the weekly prayer of the Regina Caeli with pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, about the responsibilities to be taken by parents in order to ensure that access to information and media serves rather than damages family life.
Recalling that on this Sunday many countries celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord as well as the World Day of Social Communications, the Pope said that the Church “wants to establish a frank and open dialogue with those who work in this field in order to encourage their commitment to humanity’s authentic progress.”
John Paul II recalled the theme of this year’s World Day of Social Communications, “The Media in the Family: Risk and Enrichment,” and said that “thanks to modern technology, many families are able to directly access the vast resources of communication and information, and to take advantage of the opportunity to educate, be culturally enriched and to grow in the spirit. However,” he warned, “the media can do serious damage to the family when they offer an inadequate vision or a deformed vision of life, family, religion and morality.”
“Therefore,” he continued, “it is necessary to learn how to use the media wisely and prudently. It is a duty that concerns all parents, who are responsible for providing a healthy and balanced education of children. It is also a duty of public institutions who are called to create regulations that assure that the media always respect the truth and common good.”
After greeting pilgrims in different languages and praying the Regina Caeli, the Pope said that on May 29, eve of the Solemnity of Pentecost, he will preside at 6 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica at the celebration of Vespers. “I invite all the faithful,” he said, “in particular those who belong to the movements of renewal in the Spirit, to participate in the prayer vigil in order to invoke upon us and on all the Church an abundant effusion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
Vatican City, May 24, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II condemned anti-Semitism this Monday using the words of the Second Vatican Council, “clearly and definitively…in all its expressions.” But he also stressed that “it is not enough to deplore and condemn hostility against the Jewish people; … it is necessary to also foster friendship, esteem and fraternal relations with them.”
The Pope’s words were contained in a message to the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, on the occasion of the centenary of the synagogue in the Italian capital. They were read during a commemorative service on Sunday by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of Rome. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, was also present to represent the Holy Father.
In the message, the Holy Father sends special greetings to the former Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff, who received him during his historic visit made on April 13, 1986. “This event,” he writes, “remains instilled in my memory and in my heart as a symbol of the newness that has characterized in the last few decades relations between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church, after periods which were sometimes difficult and sad.”
He then recalled the victims of the Holocaust, and especially members of the Jewish community of Rome who in October of 1943 were taken to Auschwitz. “May their memory lead us to work as brothers.”
“Thus,” he added, “ it is necessary to recall all those Christians … who acted with courage, also in the city of Rome, to help persecuted Jews, offering them their solidarity and help, sometimes even risking their own lives. … We also cannot forget, along with official pronouncements, the Apostolic See’s action, often hidden, which in many ways helped Jews in danger, something which has been recognized by their representatives also.”
The Pope indicates that the Church has deplored the mistakes of its daughters and sons and has asked for forgiveness “for their responsibility related to the plagues of anti-Semitism.” In addition, he recalls the homage he paid to the victims of the Shoah at Yad Vashem in March 2000.
The letter also turns to the situation in the Middle East: “Unfortunately thinking about the Holy Land causes concern and sadness in our hearts for the violence that continues in that area, for the great quantity of innocent blood shed by Israelis and Palestinians. … Therefore, today we want to direct to the Eternal God a fervent prayer … so that enmity … gives way to clear awareness of the bonds that link them and to the responsibility that weighs on everyone’s shoulders.”
“Nevertheless,” Holy Father’s letter concludes, “we still have a long way to go: the God of justice and peace, of mercy and reconciliation, calls us to collaborate without vacillating in our modern world, scarred by conflict and hostility. If we know how to unite our hearts and hands in order to respond to the divine call, the light of the Eternal One will draw close to illuminate all peoples, showing us the ways of peace, of Shalom. We would like to go along these paths with one heart.”
Newark, N.J., May 24, 2004 (CNA) - New Jersey Sen. Bernard Kenny (D-33rd Dist.) announced that he has decided to leave the Catholic Church, based on the “fundamental shift in the Church’s attitude toward the role that religion should play in politics,” reported the New Jersey Reporter.
The senate majority leader’s recent decision stems from statements made by Vatican officials and some U.S. bishops, who have said they would deny the Eucharist to politicians if their positions on abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex marriage ran counter to Church teaching.
According to the newspaper, Kenny, 57, was raised Catholic, had served as an altar boy, and has been an active member of Sts. Peter and Paul Church his whole life.
"Going to church and receiving Communion is a personal act of faith," Kenny told the New Jersey Reporter. "I don't think it is good judgment to turn it into a political statement." He added that the separation of church and state is a necessity to run a functioning democracy.
Three New Jersey bishops have stated that politicians, who support abortion, should not take Communion, and two specifically mentioned pro-choice Gov. James E. McGreevey.
McGreevey said he would not change his position but would voluntarily not receive Communion in public. Kenny decided to take a different tack.
Kenny said that eventually he would join another church.
Boston, Mass., May 24, 2004 (CNA) - In a television broadcast last week, Raymond A. Flynn, president Your Catholic Voice, said it was disrespectful for Democratic pro-abortion politicians to criticize Catholic Church leaders who have the courage to speak out on important moral issues in the political arena.
Flynn, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican from 1993 to 1997 and was a Boston mayor, made these comments in a television interview May 21 on Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Brit Hume."
Several U.S. bishops have made public statements in recent months calling on Catholic politicians to advocate legislation that is in line with Catholic teaching. These bishops have also stated that Catholic politicians, who support abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage or embryonic stem-cell research, should not receive Communion.
In response, 48 Catholic Democratic members of Congress signed a letter to the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal McCarrick, complaining that these bishops’ statements are counterproductive and "miring the Church in partisan politics."
"They want to be Catholic on Election Day and get the Catholic vote,” said Flynn, a pro-life Democrat of his pro-choice fellow party members. “But when they get to Washington or the state house, they consistently vote with every well-financed radical group that is working against the most fundamental of all human rights."
Vatican City, May 24, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, arrives today in Jerusalem where he will stay until May 28, during which time he will meet with Catholic authorities, hold ecumenical meetings, meet with Jewish leaders, including the Chief Rabbi of Israel and with Israeli government officials as well.
The cardinal’s visit is the result of an invitation extended by the Ecumenical Institute of Advanced Theological Studies in Tantur asking him to take part in a colloquium organized by the institute in collaboration with Notre Dame University. He will deliver a talk entitled “Pardon and Purification of Memories.”
Cardinal Kasper’s visit will include meetings with the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, the Catholic ordinaries, the "Custos" of the Holy Land and superiors and members of various religious institutes and congregations. On the ecumenical level, encounters are scheduled with the Greek Orthodox patriarch and the Armenian patriarch, in addition to authorities from other churches and ecclesial communities.
Vatican City, May 24, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II welcomed on Monday two separate delegations from Macedonia and Bulgaria, both visiting Rome on the occasion of the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, "Founding Fathers" of Eastern Europe.
The Pope greeted the Macedonian delegation, and noted “the traditional and affectionate homage which you pay to Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Apostles of the Slavonic peoples, whose memory is preserved in the venerable Basilica of St. Clement.” The Holy Father also noted that Macedonia “has wisely reaffirmed its commitment to follow the path of peace and reconciliation.. … You eyes are turned legitimately towards Europe. … I truly hope that your desires will receive just consideration and that the citizens of your republic may be one day rightful members of a united Europe.”
Speaking in French to the Bulgarian delegation, the Pontiff said that “your country has rediscovered its place on the international scene and it is pursuing this path of freedom and democracy, seeking thus to consolidate harmony within the nation. It is involved in a patient effort to rejoin in a stable fashion the institutions of the European union. In this regard, I hope that Bulgaria can realize its legitimate aspirations in bringing …. its own contribution to the building of Europe.”
, May 24, 2004 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of New York celebrated the largest ordination in the U.S. this past weekend. Edward Cardinal Egan, archbishop of New York, ordained 15 men to the priesthood Saturday at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
This was Archbishop Egan’s 24th ordination and his largest, reported Charles W. Bell of the New York Daily. Reportedly, Newark and Washington were runners-up, with 14 new priests each.
The new crop of priests is an eclectic group, made up of men from a variety of professional backgrounds. Bell reported that the class of 2004 included, among others, a foreign exchange trader, an FBI agent, a printer, a supermarket executive, a corporate systems analyst, a travel writer and a jazz musician.
William Cleary, 26, is the youngest of the class. His decision came early. Bell said Fr. Cleary applied for seminary admission the day after he graduated from college. Fr. John Palatucci, 43, the oldest in the class, worked as a jazz musician for a 12 years before he decided to study for the priesthood.
Of the 15 new priests, two are members of a missionary order and work at a Bronx church. The other 13 new priests are ministering in New York parishes. They celebrated their first masses Sunday before families, friends and former colleagues.
Rome, Italy, May 24, 2004 (CNA) - According to an article by Vatican observer Sandro Magister of the online magazine “L’Espresso,” the discourse Pope John Paul II gave on his birthday on May 18 to Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has been underestimated in its powerful message in favor of the religious identity of Europe.
In his discourse, the Pope recalled the 60th anniversary of the battle of Monte Casino, where many Polish Christian and Jewish soldiers lost their lives.
According to Magister, “Pope John Paul II draws two lessons out of this event: one about war and the other about Europe.”
Magister recalls that the Pope “is not a pacifist,” and just as he is capable of opposing a war that he does not consider just—as in 2003—“he does not fail to declare his support and give his reasons as to why he considers a war just.”
And about Europe, John Paul II concludes that the spiritual identity of the continent should be defended “even it costs lives.”
“The Pope does not say it with explicit words, but the allusion to the discussions taking place in Europe is transparent,” says Magister.
According to Magister, the Pope backs a proposal put forth by the Polish cultural magazine “Znak”—Polish for “sign”—which states: "We, Europeans, aware of the richness of our heritage, drawing from the wealth of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Greek philosophy, Roman law, and humanism with both religious and non-religious roots..."
Magister’s complete column can be found at: