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Archive of June 1, 2004

New Bishop appointed in New Jersey diocese

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - This morning Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Arthur Joseph Serratelli, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Newark, as the new Bishop of Paterson (New Jersey).

Bishop Serratelli  was born on April18, 1944 in Newark; he studied  at Seton Hall Preparatory School and at Seton Hall University. He completed his theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In 1975 he graduated in Holy Scriptures at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and in Biblical Theology  in 1977.

He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark on December 20, 1968. He served as vicar at Saint Anthony Parish in Belleville and after  completing his studies  became a professor at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Newark.

In 1997 he was elected  as Rector of  the College Seminary, Seton Hall University.

He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Newark  on July 3, 2000.

Bishop Serratelli speaks Italian,  French and the Biblical languages.

He succeeds Bishop Frank Joseph Rodimer whose resignation the Holy Father accepted upon having reached the age limit.

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“Be the light of Christ” Pope says at the end of the month of Mary

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - At 8:00 p.m. yesterday, the Feast of the Visitation of Mary, the traditional end-of-May procession took place from the church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians to the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens, during which the faithful prayed the rosary. At the end of the ceremony, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for General Affairs, read a message from the Pope.

In his message, the Holy Father writes that this year the feast of the Visitation is being celebrated the day after Pentecost, “and this brings us to think of the wind of the Spirit driving Mary, and with her the Church, along the paths of the world, so making Christ, the hope of humanity, known to everyone.”

In his message the Pope affirms that the flames of the candles carried during the procession “stand for the hope that Christ, Who died and rose again, gave humanity.”

“Always be bearers of that light,” exhorted John Paul II, “Indeed, as the Lord told his disciples, be lights yourselves in your own homes, in all situations and in all circumstances of life. Be so with your faithful evangelical witness, following each day the school of Mary, the perfect disciple of her divine Son.”

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Pope’s prayer intentions: personal witness and religious freedom in Asia

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican Press office announced this Tuesday that Pope John Paul II’s prayer intentions for June are related to Christian witness of the faith and religious freedom in Asia.

The Holy Father’s general intention for the month of June is: “That all Christians may be constantly more aware of their personal and community responsibility to bear witness to God’s love for humanity and for every man and woman.”

His mission intention is: “That religious freedom – a fundamental right of mankind – may meet with ever growing respect in Asian countries.”

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Qatar Conference on Muslim-Christian Dialogue ends with “great hope,” Vatican says

Vatican City, Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - The Qatar Conference on Muslim-Christian Dialogue concluded on May 29 with three closed door meetings between members of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims and an equal number of invited Muslim guests.

Archbishop Fitzgerald presided at a press conference in the afternoon, and was joined by Youssef  El-Hage, a professor at Notre Dame University in Lebanon and a member of the pontifical commission, and by Aysha Al-Mannai, dean of the faculty of Sharia, Law and Islamic Studies at the University of Qatar.

The archbishop outlined the history of the Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims within the council, and the background of this second Qatar meeting on dialogue.

The dialogue was an idea of Emir Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar, whose country opened diplomatic relations with the Holy See in November 2002. In his opening day speech, he also expressed a desire to see representatives of Judaism in next year’s meeting.

Dr. Al-Mannai said that the meeting was very positive and that both religions hoped to continue and to deepen the dialogue established between them, noting, when asked by several members of the audience why the sessions were not open to everyone, that such private meetings were necessary to speak frankly, and to achieve the objectives established.

Dr. El-Hage mentioned that all of their sessions were marked by transparency and cordiality.

He said this was a wonderful occasion for the Catholic Church in her dialogue with Muslims, adding that when the pontifical commission started preparing four years ago to work on the question of religious freedom, they felt it very important to hold a meeting together with Muslims.

He said the commission’s basic question was: Is religious freedom one of the rights of believers wherever they live, but especially when a believer is a member of a minority community?

In the evening encounter with journalists, Archbishop Fitzgerald was asked about his overall feeling after three intense days of meetings. He said he felt there was a sort of anguish in the Muslim community worldwide on the issue of religious freedom, especially when it is interpreted from an individual point of view, not with one voice or a single authority speaking out on this subject.

He said his feeling was that the Muslims invited to participate in the closed sessions were very happy with the cordiality and openness of the meetings and with what had been accomplished. No one set out to achieve earth-shattering goals so no one was disappointed in that sense.

He said that serious discussions and frankness were more possible in the closed-door sessions.

The archbishop said that the theoretical part of the meeting included a look at the Declaration of Human Rights. But he pointed out that the definition of religious freedom contained therein – and some other passages in this document, especially related to certain types of freedoms and human rights - are not in fact universally agreed upon.

He agreed that some muslims do indeed see the Declaration of Human Rights as an imposition from the West upon the rest of the world.

The second part of the meeting looked at the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in the matter of religious freedom, and part three looked at modern religious authors and thinkers on this topic in Islamic law.

Part four looked at the process of monitoring religious freedom in the world through such organizations as Helsinki Watch and the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE).

Archbishop Fitzgerald, noting the differences in Catholic teaching and Islamic law on religious freedom, said that nonetheless, “we agreed that religious freedom is part of human dignity that comes from God.”

He noted the difference between freedom of religion (the freedom to believe and to practice one’s faith, or to not believe) and freedom within religion. The former is a full right, but the latter is not, because being a believer implies living a specific set of rules of behavior, not being free to change them.

In conclusion, the archbishop pointed out the difficulties that exist when there is no central authority or hierarchical structure such as the Catholic Church has. Often in the Muslim world, people represent themselves, not a Church or a group.

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Italian future saint turns up in U.S. Catholic’s family tree

Biloxi, Miss., Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - A woman in Biloxi was surprised and delighted to discover that her Italian ancestor, who was unknown to her until recently, is on the road to sainthood.

Regina Palatucci Hines, a certified genealogical record specialist, recounted in the Biloxi Sun Herald last weekend how she discovered a connection to a future saint in her family tree.

Her research began after she received a pamphlet from her ancestral town in Italy, which described the life of Giovanni Palatucci, a World War II martyr. Knowing that she had no direct ancestors named Palatucci (a few people by that name had married siblings of her grandparents over the years) she began an Internet search.

She learned that Giovanni Palatucci was born in Montella, Italy, on May 31, 1909, into a devout, well-to-do Catholic family. He studied law at the University of Turin but decided to be a police officer. Hines recounted that in 1938, the 29-year-old Palatucci was appointed police commissioner in Fiume, Italy, which is now part of Yugoslavia.

It was during the Second World War and thousands of Jews were streaming into the area, seeking refuge from the persecution of the Nazis.

Unconcerned about the danger involved, Palatucci helped them by placing them in private homes, convents or monasteries throughout Italy. He worked mostly alone, but was assisted by his uncles, Bishop Giovanni Maria Palatucci and Alfonso and Antonio Palatucci, both Franciscan brothers.

In late 1944, his work was discovered but not before he had helped about 6,000 Jews escape the concentration camps. He was arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Dachau, where was tortured and died Feb. 10, 1945, just days before the liberation.

“In the past several years, his memory has become celebrated in both Italy and Israel, where streets and plazas have been named for him,” Hines reported. “His name was also inscribed in ‘The Book of Righteous Gentiles’.”

Hines made the connection to her family tree after consulting civil records. In a few hours, she learned that Palatucci's great-grandmother was the sister of her third great-grandmother on her paternal grandfather's side, which made her father and Palatucci third cousins.

Palatucci's cause for canonization was completed and presented to the Vatican's Committee for his beatification in February 2004.

Palatucci never married. Had he lived, today would have been his 95th birthday.

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From Marine to nun: story of a conversion

, Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - In 1994, after years of drinking and carousing, 34-year-old former Marine truck driver Jo Ann Doane entered the Trappistine monastery.

Her complicated and roundabout journey that led her to answer a call to religious life is briefly recounted in the book "Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns" by Cheryl L. Reed and was published last Sunday in several US newspapers.

Doane had been baptized Catholic but her parents did not attend mass. As a teenager, she had an interest in Eastern religions and was touched by a book about monks. She said this teenage dream of being a monk on a snow-capped mountain in Tibet carried her through 18 years of living out in the world.

“Her desire for the divine, however, was outstripped by a weakness for partying,” wrote Reed. After high school, Jo Ann joined the Marines for six years and drove transport vehicles.

She drank and partied but preferred not to date since she did not want to marry. Feeling incapable of caring for herself, she did not want to have children and take on the responsibility of caring for others.

When her active duty ended, she continued her wild life, working odd jobs. But her partying took a backseat when she began a new job delivering newspapers. Her job forced her to go to bed at 6 p.m. and to rise around midnight. While on her paper route, she listened to a Christian radio program. She started reading spiritual books and remembered her earlier desire to become a monk.

After six months, Doane decided to begin faith education classes at a local Catholic church; she felt that she wanted to lead the life of a monk.

She confided her desire to a priest, who directed her to the Trappistine monastery in Crozet. Starting in 1990, Doane began her discernment for the monastic life but continued working. Every three months, she visited the monastery.

Doane finally entered. Her first months were not easy, for she struggled with loneliness. But she persevered and continues today in the monastic life.

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Pope hopes to attend Eucharistic Congress in Mexico, says Cardinal Rivera

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City said this Sunday that Pope John Paul II hopes to travel to Mexico for the International Eucharistic Congress in October, but he said the trip would depend on the Pope’s state of health at the time.

Responding to questions from reporters after Sunday Mass at the Cathedral, Cardinal Rivera said, “Like all of you have seen in the media,” the Pope “is weak,” but “he continues to work every day for the Church.  The Pope is active and is very lucid in his leading of the Church.  We hope the Lord grants him many more years.”

The Cardinal added, “I have just seen him in Rome and I can say for sure that it would be imprudent to say that the Pope is in fact coming to the Eucharistic Congress.  But it would be even more imprudent to say that he is not coming.”

“The Pope has a true desire to come to Mexico for the Congress, to meet with the Mexican people again. But this depends on his state of health at that time,” the Cardinal said.

“There is a chance he may come, and there is the desire to come as well.  But the Pope, at this moment, has not said yes or no, because evidently he is waiting to see how his health will be at that time.”  “We are just hoping that his health allows for him to make to trip to Mexico,” he concluded.

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German scientists discover carcinogenic substances in condoms

Bonn, Germany, Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - The prestigious Department of Chemical and Veterinary Research of Stuttgart, Germany, has published a report indicating that the majority of the 32 types of condoms produced under 18 different brand names that are distributed in the country contain carcinogenic substances.  In addition, according to the study, with the exception of one brand, all the others “raise doubts” about their safety.

A study of the products sold most in vending machines, at large stores and pharmacies, shows that some of the condoms studied contain “very considerable quantities” of nitrosamines, a component that can lead to cancer.

Werner Altkofer, director of the laboratory, explained that only 3 of the most used types of condoms appeared to be free of nitrosamines, all of which are made by the same manufacturer.  The results of the study, for now, will not lead to the removal of the products from stores, because there are no legal regulations defining the maximum quantity of nitrosamines which a product may contain.  Nitrosamines give elasticity to condoms.

The Department has sent the report to government officials to push for a federal law on the use of the substances.

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Church plays key role in assisting flood victims in Dominican Republic, Haiti

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - Local officials on the island of Hispaniola are complaining about the lack of help from the federal government to assist those affected by floods on the island, pointing out that the greatest assistance has come from the Catholic Church.

Officials said help from the government “is not coming in the quantity and with the urgency” that it is needed, adding that the Church has been organizing the distribution of food and assistance provided by international organizations, private business, official entities and individual donors.

It is not known how much assistance has arrived to the island.  However, Father Jose Ramon de la Cruz of St. Joseph’s Parish and National Guard officials are keeping a record of the material that is arriving as well as the areas to which it is being shipped.

International agencies have begun sending first aid to the affected areas to help treat the wounded.

The Spanish Agency of International Cooperation announced it would send a cargo plane from Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain, with basic humanitarian aid for more than 10,000 people.

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Britain opens world’s first stem-cell bank

London, England, Jun 1, 2004 (CNA) - The United Kingdom opened the world’s first national stem-cell bank May 19, hoping to lead the international scientific community in embryonic stem-cell research, reported The Associated Press.

The bank, established at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, will store and grow cells, and distribute them to researchers around the world.

The first two human embryonic stem-cell lines to be deposited in the bank were developed separately at King’s College in London and the Center for Life in Newcastle.

Regulations on cloning and stem-cell research vary from country to country.

Last year, the Parliament of the European Union voted to restrict stem-cell research and altogether ban the creation of human embryos for research.

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