Archive of June 21, 2004

Pope and new Spanish president affirm desire for dialogue and collaboration

Vatican City, Jun 21, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father received the recently elected president of Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, this morning at the Vatican and expressed his desire for Spain’s spiritual and moral progress.

“Your presence here,” he affirmed, “reflects your desire to continue to maintain good relations with the local Church and the State for the good of the Spanish people, a desire that you expressed to me when I met you at the end of a Mass in Colombus Square in Madrid on May 4 last year.”

John Paul II expressed the desire that Spain “may always continue toward integral progress,” and prayed that “peaceful coexistence in unity among persons and peoples of your great land become ever stronger, with its marvelous and varied diversity, and may cultural and moral values be preserved, as well as your Christian roots.”

The Pope recalled his audience last friday with the new Spanish ambassador to the Holy See, Jorge Dezcallar, in which he had spoken about various aspects of Spanish society, and expressed the need for a cultural struggle to protect human dignity and family life.

“Reaffirming what I said on that occasion,” he said, “I want to renew my sincere gratitude for your visit.  I truly hope that your personal commitment, as well as that of your government, may allow you to reach your objectives of fomenting the modern development of Spain, and in that task may ethical values, which are so much a part of the religious and cultural tradition of your people, be taken into consideration.”

The Pope assured the president of the “Holy See's collaboration to work together for the great cause of peace and to promote the spiritual progress of peoples; to help in the eradication of terrorism and violence in all its forms; to achieve the legitimate needs of the human person, with his dignity, rights and freedom.”

In a press conference this afternoon, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the director of the Holy See Press Office revealed that in the meeting this morning the John Paul II and Zapatero “reviewed the principal bilateral relations in light of the Accords between the Holy See and Spain, in particular those of 1979…a desire for dialogue and collaboration was reaffirmed.”

Navarro-Valls also mentioned that “there was an exchange of perspectives on the international situation with a special focus on the European perspective and on the countries of Latin America.”

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Pope moves two auxiliary bishops of Montreal to other Canadian dioceses

Vatican City, Jun 21, 2004 (CNA) - On Saturday, June 19, it was made public that the Holy Father appointed the following two auxiliary bishops from the diocese of Montreal to other posts:

Bishop André Rivest, auxiliary of Montreal, Canada, as bishop of Chicoutimi (area 90,850, population 264,486, Catholics 260,915, priests 203, permanent deacons 39, religious 697), Canada.  He succeeds Bishop Jean-Guy Couture whose resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese was accepted upon having reached the age limit.

Bishop Louis Dicaire, auxiliary of Montreal, Canada, as auxiliary of Saint-Jean Longueuil (area2,073, population 654,066, Catholics 569,000, priests 148, permanent deacons 3, religious 432), Canada.

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Texas Newspaper releases report about international cases of priestly sexual misconduct

Dallas, Texas, Jun 21, 2004 (CNA) - Roman Catholic priests were transferred from countries where they have been accused of abusing children even after the abuse scandal that swept the U.S. church in 2002, the Dallas Morning News reported on Sunday, after a year-long investigation.

Hundreds of priests accused of abuse have been moved from country to country, allowing them to start new lives in unsuspecting communities and continue working in church ministries where they are in contact with children, the newspaper reported in its Sunday edition.

According to the Dallas Morning News,the priests lead parishes, teach, and continue to work in settings that bring them into contact with children, despite church claims to the contrary.

In one case, the Rev. Frank Klep, a convicted child molester who has admitted abusing one boy and is wanted on more charges in Australia, was placed in Apia, Samoa, in the South Pacific. Australia has no extradition treaty with Samoa.

Klep told the newspaper that neither he nor the Church feels an obligation to tell anyone about his past. Few, if any, locals are aware of his history. "I'd prefer to just leave it," Klep said. "If I felt I was still a risk to their children, then I'd think differently. But I don't think I am at risk anymore."

Samoa's  Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga, said he was startled to learn about the priest's past; but after speaking with the Salesians, he said he changed his mind.

"Although these incidents happened with these two priests, they have dealt with it themselves and with their congregation," the archbishop's secretary wrote in a letter. "They are valid and allowed to work in our archdiocese, and we are grateful for their services and hard work up to this point."

Vatican officials declined to comment Friday after an overview of the investigation was featured on National Public Radio.

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Homosexual bishop must be replaced to avoid schism, says Anglican leader

London, England, Jun 21, 2004 (CNA) - A leading Anglican bishop said Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly homosexual bishop, must be replaced as bishop of New Hampshire if the Anglican Communion is to avoid a schism, reported the London Telegraph yesterday.

Archbishop Drexel Gomez, primate of the West Indies, also said Robinson’s consecration is not valid.

Gomez is a member of the Lambeth Commission, set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, to try to settle the conflict that has emerged in the Anglican Communion over Robinson’s consecration.

Robinson would be the first bishop to be stripped of his post after his consecration.

Jeffrey John, the homosexual cleric named as bishop of Reading last summer, withdrew before his consecration.

The proposals were presented to the 17-member commission during a meeting in the United States last week. The commission's final report, which will determine the future of the Anglican Church, is to be published in October.

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Former Boston mayor urges Catholics to become more active in politics

Boston, Mass., Jun 21, 2004 (CNA) - The former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican launched a voter-education campaign Saturday, backed by Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, reported the Boston Globe. The objective of the nonpartisan campaign is to mobilize Catholic voters for the fall election.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with liberal or conservative, Democratic or Republican. It's about being Catholic," Raymond L. Flynn told about 100 people, gathered in the parish hall of St. John the Evangelist church in Canton. Flynn said Catholics “want their voices heard” in civic life in the United States, reported the Globe.

The former mayor of Boston was named by the Massachusetts Catholic Conference last week to lead the voter-education campaign. He is scheduled to travel to parishes across the state in the coming weeks.

Catholics are not as active in politics as they used to be. “As a result of that, we are allowing other people to make decisions about our values and our beliefs,” he was quoted as saying.

Catholics, he added, have a responsibility to register fellow parishioners to vote, educate friends about the issues, and inundate politicians and media with letters and phone calls.

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New Latin American document recognizes ‘sexual rights’, U.S. concerned

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 21, 2004 (CNA) - A document that appears to support abortion was accepted at a Latin American regional meeting in Mexico City last week, even though most Latin American countries recognize the right to life from the moment of conception, reported the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

The Ninth Regional Conference on Women in Latin America and the Caribbean saw victory for radical pro-abortion feminists and defeat for United States delegates and its pro-life allies, including Nicaragua and El Salvador.

The resulting document, referred to as the “Mexico City Consensus,” calls on Latin American states to implement legislation that guarantees access to sexual and reproductive health services.

The document also calls on governments to ensure the “sexual rights” women, which could eventually include abortion-on-demand, legalized prostitution, same-sex marriage, and complete sexual autonomy for children.

Ellen Sauerbrey, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Commission on the Status of Women and head of the U.S. delegation at the meeting, is concerned about the implication of the term “sexual rights.”

According to Lilian Celiberti of Articulacion Feminista Marcosur, a pro-abortion women’s group, the U.S. was so concerned that it “blackmailed several delegations to prevent the use of the terms ‘sexual and reproductive rights’ in the final document.”

Sauerbrey denied the allegation, ensuring that the United States will continue to fund and promote women’s rights and programs throughout the world.

Rocio Galvez, president of Provida, a Mexican pro-life group, is also concerned with the outcome of the meeting.

“We see what happened in Mexico as very disturbing, because the pro-abortion and pro-lesbian groups imposed a stance against life and morality which does not at all represent the views of this region,” said Galvez.

She said she hopes that there will be more tolerance at the world conference, “and that it is made clear that not all social groups advocate anti-family practices like abortion and homosexuality.”

The goal of these regional meetings is to create documents that will be sent to UN headquarters in New York. The documents are to represent the “objectives” of Latin America during next year’s World Conference on Women.

The next regional meeting will be in Puerto Rico from June 28 to July 2.

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Nicaraguan government apologizes for mistreatment of Archbishop of Managua

Managua, Nicaragua, Jun 21, 2004 (CNA) - The government of Nicaragua has issued an official apology to Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, Archbishop of Managua, after prison authorities refused to allow the Cardinal to visit the incarcerated former president Arnoldo Aleman.

“I have apologized to his Eminence for the serious situation which took place at the Penitentiary, for which we assume complete responsibility, and starting now we will reach out more to the Church, regardless of who has made mistakes,” said government official Julio Vega, after meeting with the Cardinal.

Cardinal Obando accepted the apology of the government and offered a Mass on Sunday to pray for peace and reconciliation in the country.

Vega said Cardinal Obando can “visit the Penitentiary whenever he wishes.”

He also announced the government will seek to grant all ministers of the Catholic Church—bishops, priests, religious, and lay ministers—free access to the Penitentiary System.

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Family Institute to award local community with most family-friendly policies

Madrid, Spain, Jun 21, 2004 (CNA) - In order to honor the local government or region with the most family-friendly policies, the Institute of Family Policy in Spain announced the creation of an award for the Best Local Community of the Year in the area of the family.

Eduardo Hertfelder, president of the Institute, made the announcement, explaining that the initiative coincides with the 10th anniversary of the International Year of the Family.

Hertfelder says there is a growing sensitivity—although still quite insufficient—on the part of local governments towards the need to help and promote the institution of the family.

Nevertheless, he added that this change of mentality is still very modest since most of the changes that are implemented tend to be isolated and lacking of a “family perspective.”

Hertfelder explained that the purpose of the award is to provide an incentive to local community governments to make policies which actively favor the family.

The Institute will grant two awards, one for the “local community of the year with the best family perspective,” and the other for the “Best Family Initiative of the year,” which will be given to the community which has implemented the best family policy. 

The jury will be made up of various representatives from society and will base its decision on an annual report issued by the Institute of Family Policy which compares family policies in the various local communities and regions of the country.

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Cardinal Cipriani chides Health Minister: “Do not play with life!”

Lima, Peru, Jun 21, 2004 (CNA) - On Sunday Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, Archbishop of Lima, Peru, chided Peruvian Minister of Health, Pilar Mazzetti, warning her “not to play with life” by denying the abortifacient nature of the morning after pill.

In reaction to Mazzetti’s decision to distribute the morning after pill through the country’s family planning services, the Cardinal warned in his Sunday homily that the country has entered a discussion “full of half-lies and half-truths.”

Although Mazzetti and promoters of the drug in Peru claim it only prevents ovulation and not implantation of a fertilized ovum, the manufacturer of the drug as well as the Food and Drug Administration in the US recognize the existence of a “third mechanism” of the drug which can prevent implantation of the embryo in the wall of the uterus, thus causing an abortion.

The Cardinal lamented the public comments of the Health Minister that she would have to have “the proof in her hands” in order to acknowledge the pill’s abortifacient nature.

“Do not play with wife,” he said, directing his comments to Mazzetti.  “What do you want, a fertilized ovum in your hands? Do you want a fetus in your hands? What are trying to say with such a political statement?”

“We are talking about lives, not about a political problem, or an ideological problem.  It is a very serious problem, it is life and therefore let’s speak the truth,” he said.

“I think we need to be more honest in our choice of words.  The Church is not attacking science.  Science tells me: be careful with that pill.  We do not know for sure that it is safe for women’s health, but what we do know is that a woman who has had sexual relations and takes that pill is killing any possibility of life,” warned the Cardinal.

He called on Peruvians to resist international pressure and pressure from local groups to impose a mentality that does not defend the unborn.

“We must clearly expose the truth, but let us not have a tax-payer funded government ministry imposing an alternative” which, according to available scientific data, “is abortifacient and is an attack on the Constitution.”

According to Cardinal Cipriani, it is repudiating that public taxes are being used to purchase anti-life pills by a government ministry that is supposed to “protect health and unite Peruvian families, alleviate malnutrition in children and keep them from contracting respiratory illnesses in this cold season in Lima.”

He called on authorities to “have the honor to say that one of the characteristics of this pill” is “to prevent a fertilized ovum, an embryo that now has its own life, from implantation in the uterus where it has a place to develop.”

Although there is not yet definitive proof regarding this mechanism of the pill, the Cardinal said that to promote it or to consume it is akin to getting into an airplane without knowing whether or not it has enough fuel for the flight.

He recalled that his mission as shepherd is to explain the teaching of the Church and to exhort young couples that if they need to postpone or space their children, they should do so in a responsible way.

Catholics are called to a holiness that includes defending the unborn, he added.  This extends to life in all its stages, he said, no matter age, condition of life, or economic status.

Cardinal Cipriani said that today people lead two lives, separating their human necessities from the relationship with God, and “this is not coherent with the faith.”

“Thank God our parents had the courage to accept the laws of God and the laws of science,” he exclaimed.

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