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Archive of June 23, 2004

Desire for justice, truth and love manifests desire for salvation, says Pope

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father spoke about the Canticle in chapter 15 of the Book of Revelation, “Hymn of adoration and praise,” in todays’s general audience celebrated in the Paul VI Hall.

John Paul II said that this hymn "is sung by those who are saved, the just of this earth. ... Like the Hebrews, after having crossed the seas, the chosen people raise up to God their 'hymn of Moses and the Lamb,' having conquered the beast, the enemy of God."

With this hymn, he continued, those who are saved "exalt the 'great and admirable works' of the 'Lord God Almighty', his saving action in the governing of the world and in history. True prayer, as well as supplication, is praise, thanksgiving, blessing, celebration, and profession of faith in the Lord who saves."

The Holy Father indicated that "the universal dimension in this hymn, which is expressed in the terms of Psalm 85, is significant: 'All the nations thou hast made shall come and bow down before thee, O Lord, and shall glorify thy name.'

“Our gaze extends to the whole horizon and we see crowds of people going toward the Lord in order to recognize 'His just judgements', His interventions in history to fend off evil and to praise good,” he continued.

“Therefore,” the Holy Father concluded, “the desire for justice present in all cultures, the need for truth and love that is perceived in all spiritualities, manifests a desire for salvation which can only come from the Lord.”

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Vatican makes statement on the arrests of Chinese bishops

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2004 (CNA) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following statement today concerning the arrests of bishops in China: "Requests for information have been made concerning recent wire service reports of new arrests of bishops in China.

"Since May 27 there has been no news of the 84-year old bishop of Xuanhua who was taken into custody by police forces. The coadjutor bishop of Xiwanzi was placed in custody from June 2 to 12, whereas the bishop of Zhengding was held by the authorities for five days.

"The Holy See feels deep pain for these measures, for which no reason has been communicated. They are inconceivable in a State of law and go against human rights, in particular religious freedom, which are sanctioned in numerous international documents, even subscribed to by the People's Republic of China."

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Poll shows more U.S. adults have confidence in organized religion

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2004 (CNA) - Confidence in organized religion has increased among adults in the United States to 53 percent, up from 50 percent last year and 45 percent in 2002, the lowest point since polling on the subject began in 1973.

A Gallup poll released yesterday show that 53 percent of Americans say they have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in "the church or organized religion."

Gallup explained the 2002 low with the child sexual abuse scandal that shook the Catholic Church that year.

Even though confidence is on the rise, the overall level is lower than the high of 68 percent in 1975. Confidence in religious organizations remained higher than confidence in any other organization until 1993. Since then, the military and the police have ranked higher.

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Judge blocks enforcement of 24-hour abortion law

Jefferson City, Mo., Jun 23, 2004 (CNA) - A federal judge yesterday suspended the enforcement of a Missouri state law, which requires doctors to wait 24 hours to perform abortions after consulting with a woman who is seeking one about the physical and psychological risks involved, reported The Associated Press.

At the request of Planned Parenthood, U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright imposed the injunction, while allowing time for the organization to proceed with a separate state lawsuit that would seek to clarify parts of the new law.

Planned Parenthood has argued that the law is vague and leaves doctors uncertain about what actions could lead to arrest or imprisonment. It has until tomorrow to file the case.

This is the second time Wright has imposed an injunction. A federal appeals court had lifted the first injunction only weeks ago.

Campaign Life Missouri said it was disappointed but not surprised at the ruling. The pro-life organization told the AP that it is confident the law will ultimately be upheld.

Attorney General Jay Nixon, who was defending the law, plans to appeal the ruling.

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Legislation proposed to study effects of abortion on women

Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2004 (CNA) - Pro-life groups are hopeful that proposed legislation, that would fund research into post-abortion depression, will be passed this time around.

The Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care Act, sponsored by Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, allocates $15 million to the National Institutes of Health in the next five years to study and treat post-abortion conditions, reported the Washington Times. Such research, say the bill’s proponents, is long overdue.

This is not the first time such a bill has been presented to Congress. The bill is currently in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The bill includes a clause, which would provide $1.5 million in grants for public or non-profit groups that offer diagnostic services and treatment of conditions related to post-abortion depression, such as suicidal urges and emotional detachment.

While, the American Psychiatric Association does not classify post-abortion depression as a mental disorder and does not have experts on the subject, Vicki Thorn, executive director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing, says the condition is comparable to post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Georgette Forney, president of the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life, said the introduction of the bill is encouraging to women who have suffered the effects of an abortion.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jo Ann Davis, Virginia Republican, and 27 other Republicans.

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Italian official reveals “battle to the end” to include Christianity in EU Constitution

Rome, Italy, Jun 23, 2004 (CNA) - The Italian Exterior Minister, Franco Frattini, said this week that at the European Council in Brussels, “We fought till the end to include a reference in the Preamble” of the recently approved European Constitution.

In statements reported by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Frattini revealed that this last attempt was to add only two words: “particularly Christian” in the phrase which mentions Europe’s “religious heritage,” but “we were met with insurmountable obstacles from Belgium, France and Finland.”

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Beatification for Brazil’s “martyr of morality” moving forward

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jun 23, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy See gave the green light this week to open the cause for canonization of Francisco Expedito Lopes, Bishop of Garanhuns, Brazil, and founder of the Institute of the Missionaries of Our Lady of Fatima of Brazil.  Bishop Expedito was assassinated in 1957 and is known as a “martyr for the defense of morality.”

The current bishop of the dioceses, Bishop Irineu Roque Scherer, explained that “with the nihil obstat of the Holy See for the material I sent to Rome, after reopening the cause for canonization, I have set up an ecclesiastical tribunal to push ahead with the cause.”  The postulator of the cause is Acacio Rodrigues Alves, Bishop Emeritus of Palmares.

Bishop Irineu recalled that Bishop Expedito was bishop of Oeiras for almost seven years before arriving at Garanhuns in 1955, adding that “we hope to show that Bishop Expedito was a martyr in defense of morality, since as a martyr there is no need for a miracle for beatification, the final step to canonization.”

The bishop was assassinated by Fr. Hosana de Siqueira e Silva, who was warned he could be suspended for his immoral conduct.

“Bishop Expedito died in my arms,” said the postulator, Bishop Acacio, and he recalled that, with 11 priests at his bedside, the Lord took his soul on July 2, 1957, at the Dom Moura Hospital.

Sister Mirtes, 71, one of the first religious to join the Institute founded by Bishop Expedito, said, “I remember him as a simple man with profound devotion to Our Lady.”

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Catholics in Moscow celebrate Corpus Christi in public

Rome, Italy, Jun 23, 2004 (CNA) - Led by the Apostolic Nuncio for Russia, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, some 800 people celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi Sunday, June 13, with a Mass at the Cathedral of Moscow followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of the Russian capital.

The procession, which also included the participation of a group of children who made their First Communion and who covered the ground in rose petals ahead of the Blessed Sacrament, took place for the sixth year in a row with the permission of local authorities.

The Fides news agency, quoting the Catholic magazine “Svet Evangelia,” the Mass at the Cathedral was concelebrated by the Archbishop of Moscow, Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, together with 8 other bishops and priests.

This year, Russian Catholics take part in a procession with the Blessed Sacrament each first Sunday at their parishes.

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Hungarian court recognizes innocence of priest 30 years after his death

Rome, Italy, Jun 23, 2004 (CNA) - This week a 95-year old lawyer received the news he had been waiting for his whole life.  The Supreme Court of Hungary declared his client innocent: a priest who was imprisoned by the Communist government in 1949 for a false accusation of embezzlement.

Gyorgy Schirilla is perhaps the oldest active lawyer in Hungary.  For 55 years he waited for an answer to his appeal of the conviction of Fr. Miklos Nagy.

“I am happy, it was worth it after all,” said Schirilla, although he expressed his sadness that his client was not vindicated before his death.  Fr. Nagy died 31 years ago.

The priest was tortured and imprisoned for three years because of a false accusation of not depositing Church money amounting to $24,000 and 20,000 Swiss franks.  At the time accounts in foreign currency were frozen by the government.

His imprisonment was part of a persecution launched by the Communist government of Hungary against the Catholic Church and against Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty.

Schirilla recalled that during a visit with his client, Fr. Nagy revealed “his greatest regret was not that the broke nine of his fingers, but that after releasing him they sent him (despite being a priest) to serve in a remote part of the country.

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