Vatican City, Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - John Paul II welcomed Their Royal Highnesses, Felipe and Letizia de Borbon, Prince and Princess of Asturias, to the Vatican this morning, and spoke to the newly married royalty about the holiness of married life.
He told them he was happy to receive them so soon after their wedding and thanked them "for the deference of desiring to visit me at the start of your married life."
"The birth of a new family," he told the couple, "is always a great event. It is for the married couple, whose mutual love is enriched and strengthened with divine grace. It is also a great event for the respective families and for society, since living together faithfully and forever, entails new experiences and promises of life."
The Pope renewed the best wishes he sent them on their wedding day and said he "asks God to help you in your new life that you form a happy home which, for the important role it has in Spanish society, may be an exemplary reference point for many families in this beloved nation."
Vatican City, Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - John Paul II today appointed Msgrs. Gerald T. Walsh, of the clergy of New York, and Dennis J. Sullivan, also of the clergy of New York, as auxiliary bishops of the archdiocese of New York.
Msgr. Gerald T. Walsh was born on April 25, 1942 at New York . He studied at the elementary school of the Good Shepherd Parish, then at Saint Charles High School and Power Memorial Academy, as well as at Iona College in New Rochelle.
He entered the Seminary of Saint Joseph at Dunwoodie. He also obtained a Masters in Social Work at Fordham University.
He was ordained a priest on May 27, 1967 and worked as a Vicar and pastor in several parishes until 1989, when he became the personal Secretary of the late Cardinal John J.O’Connor.
Since 1998 he has been Pastor at Saint Elizabeth Parish in Manhattan and Regional Vicar for Manhattan-North and is professor at the Seminary, as well as the Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus. In 1990 he was named Prelate of honor of His Holiness
Msgr. Dennis J. Sullivan was born in New York City on March 17, 1945. After studying at Mount Saint Michael Academy, he went to Iona College at New Rochelle, until he joined the Seminary of Saint Joseph at Dunwoodie.
He was ordained a priest on May 29, 1971 and has been a Vicar and Pastor in several parishes in Bronx and Manhattan. Since 2002 he has been the Pastor at Saints John and Paul Parish in Larchmont.
Vatican City, Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father affirmed the call of the Christian to be a witness to Christ in sports, to 7000 participants in a meeting promoted by the Italian Sporting Center, at the Paul VI Hall.
"Each one of you is called to follow Christ and to be His witness in the field of sports," said the Pope, and, he added, "'practicing' sports, not just 'talking about sports', helps us rediscover the full truth about the human person."
He noted that CSI, the Italian acronym for this group, was born 60 years ago "to propose to the youth of the time, so marked by the sad consequences of World War II, that practicing sports is not only a source of physical well-being but also an ideal of a courageous, positive, optimistic life, a means of integral renewal of the person and of society."
Since it’s birth, CSI "has worked so that children, young people and adults can know, through various sports disciplines, the richness and beauty of the Gospel," said the Pope.
John Paul II stated that CSI's efforts to promote sports "will help the new generations to choose and to cultivate the authentic values of life: love for truth and justice, a taste for beauty and goodness, the search for authentic freedom and peace."
"In our times," he said, "the sports system often seems conditioned by the logic of profit, of spectacle, of doping, of extreme sports and episodes of violence. It is your duty to proclaim and give witness to the humanizing force of the Gospel with regards to the practice of sports which, if lived according to the Christian vision, becomes a 'generating principle' of deep human relations, and favors the building of a more serene world, one of greater solidarity."
Vatican City, Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father will go to the Valle d'Aosta region in the Italian Alps from July 5 to 17 for a vacation, according to the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household. During this time, all private audiences will be suspended.
Starting on July 21, the Wednesday general audiences will take place in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castelgandolfo at 10:30 a.m.
Every Sunday, starting on July 18, the Pope will pray the Angelus at noon in the courtyard at Castelgandolfo.
Vatican City, Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - During yesterday’s Angelus the Holy Father encouraged Catholics to pray for Christian unity after he announced that on June 29, Solemnity of St. Peter and Paul, Apostles, he will receive in the Vatican Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople.
"We want to commemorate together the historic encounter between our venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras who exchanged an unforgettable embrace of fraternity and peace in Jerusalem forty years ago ... during the Second Vatican Council," said the Pope.
"Precisely in November of the same year," he recalled, "the council Fathers approved the decree 'Unitatis redintegratio.' In this decree, it was solemnly affirmed that promoting unity between all Christians was one of the principal objectives of the Council, and that to achieve this all the institutions and ecclesial communities must direct their efforts toward achieving this objective."
John Paul II said that "during this period, in spite of the difficulties that remain even today, notable steps have been taken toward ecumenism and within the People of God an ecumenical sensitivity has developed.
“The week of Prayer for Christian Unity has come to form a normal part of the liturgical-pastoral path of dioceses and parishes. Many are the associations and ecclesial communities that dedicate constant attention to reciprocal knowledge and friendship among Christians of different confessions, such that they are united more and more in works of solidarity, justice and peace," he said.
"While we prepare ourselves to welcome the ecumenical patriarch," he concluded, "I invite everyone to pray for Christian unity, invoking the intercession of Our Lady. May the Holy Mother of God, to whom so many Eastern Christians are devoted, allow the embrace between Paul VI and Athenagoras I to favor a renewed commitment to communion between Orthodox and Catholics."
Vatican City, Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father recalled that the World Day Against Torture was celebrated yesterday, and he urged "that the common commitment of institutions and citizens be able to completely eliminate this intolerable violation of human rights, radically contrary to the dignity of man."
Addressing a group of young Israelis and Palestinians who, together with their families, are being hosted in Naples, the Pope said: "Together they want to say to the world that they want peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land. They say it with particular force, since there have been victims of the present conflict in their families, Palestinian as well as Israeli.”
“Everyone has the responsibility not to disappoint these young people and to help them to grow in their trust in God and in others," said the Pope.
Washington D.C., Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has written to all Catholic bishops, asking them to personally urge their senators to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. Pastors and parishioners are urged to do the same.
The first vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment (S.J. Res. 30) will likely be held by mid-July.
The measure, introduced by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”
In his June 24 letter, Bishop Gregory notes that while the proposed amendment defines marriage as between one man and one woman, it leaves legislative decisions on civil unions up to the state legislatures.
Since opponents of the Federal Marriage Amendment are expected to mount a filibuster against the proposed amendment, the key vote in the Senate will likely occur on a motion to bring debate to a close (invoke “cloture”). Under these circumstances, cloture is necessary before the Senate can vote on the amendment, Bishop Gregory explains.
“Your message should also strongly support any effort to stop a ‘filibuster’ and allow the Senate to vote on this vitally important matter,” he writes.
Bishop Gregory notes that the USCCB has been working on the marriage issue for many years, supporting state efforts to preserve marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
In September, the bishops issued a formal statement calling for all levels of government to support the amendment. They also submitted testimony to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees earlier this year.
The USCCB also released the statement, “Between Man and Woman: Questions and Answers about Marriage and Same-sex Unions”, which can be found at www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/samesexunions.htm
Parishioners can reach their senators through this Web site: http://www.family.org/cforum/extras/a0032482.cfm
Boston, Mass., Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston will receive the pallium from Pope John Paul II at the Vatican tomorrow but with regard for his archdiocese and the financial difficulties it is experiencing, he has decided not to hold any celebrations.
In a ceremony that officially recognizes the authority of Catholic archbishops, 44 archbishops will receive the pallium, a white wool stole, from the Pope tomorrow.
The white garments are blessed by the Pope and stored in a casket at the crypt of St. Peter the night before the archbishops receive them.
The pallium dates back to the fourth century, making it one of the oldest and most significant forms of Catholic vestment. Many recipients are buried wearing it.
"Archbishop Sean is honored to receive the pallium from the Holy Father, but he understands that the pallium is not so much a badge of honor and authority as it is a call to service to the Church of Boston," archdiocesan spokesman Fr. Christopher Coyne told the Boston Sunday Globe.
About 75 relatives and friends of the archbishop will travel to Rome for the Pallium Mass on their own; the archbishop plans to celebrate a mass for the group on Friday. Although many new archbishops mark the occasion with large delegations and parties, Coyne said, Archbishop O'Malley will not host any receptions.
"With all that's going on in the archdiocese … the archbishop thought it would be inappropriate to be spending money on something like that," Coyne told the Globe.
In almost one year in Boston, Archbishop O'Malley has settled 541 sexual abuse claims for $85 million, has sold historic Church lands and archbishop’s residence to Boston College for $107 million, and has decided to close 65 parishes.
Konigstein, Germany, Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - The Germany-based Catholic Charity “Aid to the Church in Need” (ACN) announced on Monday that two unidentified individuals riding in a grey Opel car threw a hand grenade at the Holy Spirit Chaldean Catholic Church located in “Hay Al-akha’a” (Brotherhood quarter) in the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
According to the information transmitted by Iraqi Catholics to ACN, the attack happened at 10:30 (local time) in the morning of Saturday, June 26.
The incident caused injuries to the sister of the parish priest, Father Ragheed. She was taken to the hospital.
The attack took place at a time when terrorist operations are on the increase, particularly after the original date for the handing over of authority to the Iraqis, scheduled for June 30, was nearing.
Iraqi sovereignty, however, was quietly handed over by US Ambassador Paul Bremer in a secret ceremony on Monday, June 28.
Havana, Cuba, Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - In an article published in its official newspaper, Palabra Nueva, the Archdiocese of Havana has called on the government of Fidel Castro to use the opportunity of the rejection by Cubans of the tightening of the US-led embargo to embrace all Cubans, including political dissidents.
In the article, the Archdiocese says now is the time to “work with and for the benefit of all Cubans, including those who are of differing opinions and have different political views in Cuba and wish to participate.”
The paper’s director, Orlando Marquez, writes in his column that “Cuba benefits from unity and from participation by all who are committed to her from different positions.”
On May 6 the US government presented a group of new measures in order to “accelerate transition towards democracy” on the island. Castro supporters, political dissidents, exiled Cubans and the Church have all expressed opposition to the plan.
The Archdiocese recommended that the government give “particular attention” to the rejection of the plan even by “declared political enemies of the Cuban government” who do not want a foreign government to determine the future of Cuba.
“Will opposition leaders and dissents who have defended the sovereignty and independence of the nation be continued to be called mercenaries and to be excluded?” asked the publication.
Lima, Peru, Jun 28, 2004 (CNA) - The Committee on the Family of the Peruvian Bishops Conference has published an energetic statement denouncing determination of the Minister of Health, Pilar Mazzetti, to include morning after pills in family planning programs, despite their possibly abortifacient nature.
The bishops expressed their “bewilderment at and energetic protest of” Mazzetti’s attitude, pointing out that up to now she has not “made known in a public and transparent fashion the scientific studies on which she is basing her decisions regarding the health and consciences of millions of Peruvians, and what is even more striking, regarding the possible death by abortion of thousands of children called to life.”
Likewise, the bishops recalled that “up to now the Minister of Health has mentioned only one study done on seven women,” and that she has the moral obligation to reference multiple and serious studies that prove that the morning after pill is not abortifacient, rather than requiring third parties to prove that it is. “Are not those who desire to distribute a drug responsible for proving that the drug poses no danger?” they questioned.
The bishops also underscore that if human lives are at stake, the mere probability of affecting them in their earliest stages carries the moral obligation to prohibit any action that might constitute an attack on them. “We find it inexplicable that the Minister of Health continues to ignore the opinions of organizations such as the Food and Drug Administration and the information provided by the drug’s own manufacturers.”
“The FDA and the manufacturers have stated that the pill can prevent implantation” and that “this makes the pill abortifacient, a method of eliminating human lives.”
The bishops also condemned “the malicious manipulation of language, employed by international and national lobbyists that support the distribution of these population control methods in the Third World.”
”These lobbyists seek to confuse Peruvians and make us think that conception means implantation. During recent days we have heard their spokesmen tell us that conception is not when the egg is fertilized by the sperm, but rather when a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus,” they said.
The bishops warned that “it is obvious that this strategy seeks to roll back the protection of the unborn and deny them their rights. At the same time, however, this distortion also seeks to alter the concept of ‘abortion’, because it would no longer mean the elimination of a new living being from the moment of fertilization, but rather from the moment of implantation in the uterus.”
“Thus they are watering down a profound truth: that human life begins at conception, that is, at the point of fertilization of the egg by the sperm. This human embryo, from the very moment of fertilization, is a new being with its own genetic code different from that of his or her parents,” said the bishops.
They called on “authorities, honest politicians, pro-life doctors, judges and all people of good will who hear our call, to search out—with human, social and Christian responsibility—the means to assure that the conscience and the lives of Peruvians are respected, and that the Constitution of Peru is obeyed.”