Vatican City, May 27, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul appointed the former Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Francis Bernard Law, as the new Archpriest of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major.
St. Mary the Major is one of the main four basilicas in Rome. As Archpriest, Cardinal Law (72,) who resigned to his post in December 2002, will have to move permanently to Rome, to head mainly major ceremonial events.
The US Cardinal succeeds Cardinal Carlo Furno (85,) who had recently presented his resignation.
Phoenix, Ariz., May 27, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop James Olmsted of Phoenix issued a letter on the dos and don’ts in providing pastoral care to homosexuals in the most recent issue of The Catholic Sun. The letter is the second in the bishop’s series of columns on the Christian meaning of sexuality and chastity, called “Blessing of a Chaste Life.”
The bishop indicated four dos and three don’ts.
Catholics must know about the Church’s teachings on homosexuality. They should inform themselves by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, as well as recommended books on the topic, such as those by Fr. John Harvey.
Catholics should accept people “who have homosexual inclinations as brothers and sisters in Christ and support them by authentic love and prayer,” he said.
They should invite homosexuals who engage in sexual activity to live abstinence. “Assure them of the power of God’s mercy to forgive and to bring fresh hope, and pray for their conversion,” he said.
Catholics should also support groups like Courage, which “offer support to homosexual persons in their vocation to holiness, and who do this in full conformity with the teachings of the Church.”
However, they should not support groups, such as No Longer Silent or Dignity, “that fail to uphold clearly the teachings of the Bible and the Church on homosexual acts and homosexual persons,” he said. “We cannot help one another along the path of conversion and union with Christ if we deny the truth,” he said.
Catholics should not condone homosexual activity “or fail to teach clearly that it, along with all sexual activity outside of marriage, is seriously wrong,” he added.
The bishop underlined that Catholics should not see “those with homosexual inclinations as problems but as persons, persons whom Jesus redeemed by His Cross.” These people are called to holiness. They have an inviolable dignity and an eternal destiny bestowed on them by God,” he said. They are “persons like you and me, persons who have a welcome place in our Church.
“Our relationship with homosexual persons needs to be that of Christ, one that offers full and fraternal acceptance of each person as made in the image of God and one that is animated by both truth and charity,” he concluded.
Vatican City, May 27, 2004 (CNA) - Addressing seven new ambassadors to the Holy See, Pope John Paul insisted on the need for an international effort to put an end to increasing violence in the world.
On Thursday morning, Pope John Paul received the credentials of Edgard Stephanus Ragoenath Amanh of Suriname, Sarala Manourie Fernando of Sri Lanka, Mohamed Salia Sokona of Mali, Yaha Ali Mohamed al-Abiad of Yemen, Anderson Kaseba Chibwa of Zambia, Kingsley Sunny Ebenyi of Nigeria and Afif Hendaoui of Tunisia.
John Paul II lamented the fact that “disturbing news constantly arrives from all continents concerning the human rights situation, showing how men, women and children are tortured and how their dignity is profoundly offended, contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
“In this way, all humanity suffers injury and contempt. As all human beings are our brothers, we cannot remain quiet in the face of these intolerable abuses,” said the Pope; and he added that all men and women of good will “must do what they can to ensure that all human beings are respected.”
“Consciences must be educated,” he continued, “so that the unbearable violence weighing upon our brothers ceases once and for all, and so that all people mobilize to ensure that everyone’s fundamental rights are respected. We cannot live in peace, and our hearts cannot remain in peace, if people are not treated in a dignified way. We have the duty to show solidarity towards everyone.”
The Holy Father highlighted the fact that “there will be peace if we all mobilize - and you particularly, as diplomats – to ensure every person on the planet is respected. Only peace enables hope for the future. For this reason, your mission is to remain at the service of fraternal relations between individuals and between peoples.”
The Pope delivered a written message to each one of the ambassadors.
In his words to the representative from Tunisia, the Holy Father writes that “no one doubts that the different religions, in particular Christianity and Islam, still have much left to do, each in their proper place, to establish true, respectful and fruitful dialogue, and to denounce all forms of the manipulation of religion at the service of violence.”
Vatican City, May 27, 2004 (CNA) - On Thursday morning, Pope John Paul II received Igor Sergeevich Rimmer, president of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg (Russian Federation), who presented him the commemorative medal for the third centenary of the foundation of the city.
“In St. Petersburg,” said the Pontiff, “the gateway that opens into the great nation of the Russian Federation, everything speaks of fruitful cultural, spiritual, artistic and human dialogue between western and Eastern Europe.”
“It is my desire that this constructive attitude of openness may continue to exercise a positive influence in benefit of mutual understanding between peoples with different human, religious and spiritual traditions,” he concluded.
Doha, Qatar, May 27, 2004 (CNA) - During his speech at the Conference on Muslim-Christian Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, former Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, said that conflict between the West and the Islam must not prevent Christians and Muslims from maintaining a productive dialogue aimed at achieving religious freedom throughout the world.
As one of the main speakers at the public session of the Conference, Cardinal Tauran, speaking in English, called the Qatar meeting “an eloquent witness to fraternity”.
“The sound of warfare, which is heard not far from us, will not prevent us from reflecting upon our responsibilities as believers, or from addressing a message of friendship to all those willing to accept it,” he added.
“Our meeting,” Tauran also said, “is first of all a meeting of believers. Since we acknowledge that we are children of the same God, we can accept our differences and together devote ourselves to the service of society, with respect for justice, moral values and peace.”
He went on to say that the meeting is “also a dialogue between believers belonging to two different religions. In order to avoid any syncretism or caricature of others, it is important that each person remain loyal to his or her own faith.” He quoted Pope John Paul II who on numerous occasions has highlighted the many things that Muslims and Christians have in common as “worshippers of God” and “seekers of God” and “believers in the same God.”
Tauran explained that the Catholic Church recognizes “the richness of your spiritual tradition,” but said that “we Christians, too, are proud of our religious tradition.”
Cardinal Tauran stated that “for this reason, freedom of conscience and of religion is important, even absolutely necessary.” “Religious freedom respects at the same time both God and man! It is absolute and reciprocal. It extends beyond the individual to the community; it has both a civil and social dimension.. Religious freedom thus understood and lived out can become a powerful factor for building peace.”
“Political leaders have nothing to fear from true believers,” he said. “Authentic believers are also the best antidote to all forms of fanaticism, because they know that preventing their brothers and sisters from practicing their religion, discriminating against a follower of a religion other than one’s own, or worse still, killing in the name of religion, are abominations that offend God and which no cause or authority, be it political or religious, can ever justify.”
Cardinal Tauran highlighted the need “to initiate a dialogue of trust between civil and religious authorities, so that the rights and the obligations of believers and their communities will be firmly established and guaranteed, with particular respect for the principle of reciprocity.”
“One cannot claim to obtain one’s legitimate rights and freedoms by tramping upon those of others!”
“Here in Doha,” he concluded, “all of us can, indeed we must, do our part in paving the way of fraternity and peace!”
London, England, May 27, 2004 (CNA) - The Roman Catholic bishops of England and Wales issued a 103-page document yesterday, called “Cherishing Life”, which outlines the teachings of the Church on a range of modern moral problems, including abortion, euthanasia, divorce, contraception, homosexuality and Catholics’ involvement in political life.
The document warns of a slide toward a culture of death and urges voters to vote for political candidates, based on their moral positions. People must take personal responsibility for their actions and must make decisions for the common good, they said.
On BBC Radio 4's Today program, Cormac Cardinal Murphy O'Connor noted that there are 180,000 abortions a year in England and Wales. He underscored the calls for euthanasia and stem-cell research.
"We all have a responsibility to create a culture of life,” he said.
The document emphasizes the Church’s concern with abortion, the demand for legalized euthanasia, and diminished respect in society for the elderly, for marriage and for the family.
The bishops consider the high rates of abortion and divorce, poor housing, unemployment, low income, violence and crime as threats to family stability, reported The Guardian. They are critical of in vitro fertilization and cloning, and discourage granting equal rights for married and cohabiting couples.
They also criticize the popular perception of the sexual act as a recreational activity as well as the assumption that “normal teenagers” are sexually active.
The sexual act should only take place between married couples, the bishops said, and not understood in terms of “technique” but “mutual communication.”
The bishops also underlined that the Church condemns all forms of unjust discrimination, violence or abuse toward homosexuals. And, while the Church does not condone homosexual sexual activity, “homosexual orientation must never be considered sinful or evil in itself."
Download the full document: http://126.96.36.199/cherishinglife/cl_home.htm
Pittsburgh, Pa., May 27, 2004 (CNA) - At a public lecture this week, Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh said Catholics, who dissent with Church teachings, should refrain from receiving Communion. The bishop also said he is convinced that the best means for bishops to address the issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians is to teach about abortion.
The bishop delivered his address, called “Faith, Personal Conviction and Political Life”, at the annual St. Thomas More Society Loebig Lecture May 25.
In the case where a politician or a private citizen supports abortion legislation, the pastoral tradition of the Church places the responsibility of whether they should receive the Eucharist “on those presenting themselves for Holy Communion,” said the bishop.
“It is the ancient teaching and practice of the Church that only those who are properly disposed should present themselves for Holy Communion,” said Bishop Wuerl. “Each Catholic has a personal obligation to examine his or her conscience. If individuals are not properly disposed — for whatever reason — they are obliged to refrain from receiving Holy Communion.”
The bishop noted that the November 2002 Vatican document, called “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life”, reminds Catholics that abortion and supporting pro-abortion legislation are wrong, and that bishops have a responsibility to make that known.
However, the document does not speak of sanctions or disciplinary actions against pro-choice Catholic politicians, the bishop pointed out, adding that “there seems to be a practice both in Rome and throughout the Diocesan Churches in Europe of refraining from disciplinary actions in such circumstances.”
Nonetheless, should a bishop choose to take disciplinary action, he should provide a clear explanation about what action is being taken and why, said Bishop Wuerl.
Bishops must teach first
“The justification for it would have to be convincingly put forth lest Catholic faithful be confused that this is somehow an effort of the Church to force its will on a legislative assembly rather than to convince legislators what they ought to do,” he said.
“This is no small matter,” he continued. “Historically, the people in the United States, including Catholics, react with great disfavor to any effort of a church body that appears to tell people how to vote or to attempt to punish people for the manner in which they vote.”
Bishop Wuerl said that in order to address this looming problem of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, bishops must first teach clearly on abortion and “the separate issue of voting in support of abortion legislation.
“The next step might very well be a private discussion with politicians on the issue,” he said.
Eventually, it may become necessary for a bishop to point out publicly that the position or voting record of a pro-abortion politician contradicts the teaching of the Church, he added.
“Such public declaration would serve to eliminate or at least minimize the scandal of having it appear that a Catholic is free to support any law that attacks human life,” he explained.
Every member of the faithful, including those engaged in political activity, should act out of a well-formed Christian conscience, and it is the responsibility of the bishops to instruct the faithful so that they might have a correctly informed conscience, said Bishop Wuerl.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 27, 2004 (CNA) - At the conclusion of this week’s general audience, Pope John Paul II received a unique gift: the last Volkswagen “Beetle” made in Mexico.
The blue “bug” was given to the Holy Father by a delegation of autoworkers from the Volkswagen plant in Puebla, Mexico, which stopped producing the model July 30th of last year.
A group of Mexican sales representatives from the German automaker brought the car to the Vatican.
Rome, Italy, May 27, 2004 (CNA) - According to renowned Vatican observer Sandro Magister of the online weekly “L’Espresso,” what Pope John Paul II writes, as well as what he doesn’t write, in his new autobiographical work, “Get Up! Let’s Go!,” which has already sold more than 150,000 copies in Italy in the first week, manifests the preferences and concerns of the Pontiff.
Magister points out first of all the Pope’s appreciation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “The Pope recalls Ratzinger's entire curriculum,” says Magister. “No other person in the book is called ‘faithful friend’ by Wojtyla,” he writes, adding that “the name of Ratzinger has risen decisively in the list of papabili.”
According to Magister, the Pope expresses his fascination with the future of Christianity in Asia. But while he ignores India, where “the theology of religious pluralism has taken root, which is destructive to missionary propagation,” he emphasizes the Philippines and Korea as “theatres of a popular Catholicism which is doctrinally disciplined, morally demanding, and fiercely expansive.”
Magister also takes notice of the Pope’s praise for different movements and the ones he mentions by name. Although the Pope writes that “it is not possible to mention them all,” Magister is surprised at the absence of any mention of the Community of St. Egidio, which was born in Rome.
“Evidently the closeness of the Pope which Andrea Riccardi and other leaders of the movement take every possible occasion to proclaim is not as strong as they say it is.”
The complete column can be read at:
Madrid, Spain, May 27, 2004 (CNA) - Responding to the recent decision by the National Committee for Assisted Reproduction in Spain to request legal authorization for the creation of “babies a la carte,” the head of the Biopathology Department of Faith Hospital in Valencia, Justo Aznar, said “an embryo can never be used for an end that is not for its own good.”
Dr. Aznar expressed his objections to the request that would authorize the creation of “medicinal babies,” saying that “independently of the fact that human embryos can never be used for an end that is not for their own good, I believe this technique has an additional difficult, that of the destruction of healthy embryos.”
Aznar warned that, in addition to proposing the creation of embryos to be used as donors of cells and tissues (“medicinal babies”), the report seeks to modify regulations governing the number of embryos that created and implanted and obtain authorization to use frozen embryos left over from in vitro fertilizations for medical experiments.
In regards to the problem of frozen embryos in Spain, Aznar said the proposed law, as it has been drafted, “is not going to resolve this problem” since “the numerous exceptions that have been introduced to allow the creation or implantation of more than three embryos makes the law practically ineffective at preventing the excessive creation of embryos which afterwards will be frozen.”
“Neither will it prevent multiple fertilizations, leading to embryo reduction, which simply ends the life of ‘extra’ embryos from these multiple pregnancies,” he added.
Likewise Aznar expressed his disagreement with the Government’s intention to facilitate research with human embryos, “since that will open the possibility for them to be used as material for experiments, something totally incompatible with their human dignity.”