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Archive of June 29, 2004

Pope calls on Orthodox Patriarch to walk toward reconciliation and beyond painful memories of past confrontations

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II welcomed His Holiness Bartholomew I, the Patriarch of Constantinople, this morning to mark the 40th anniversary of the historic embrace of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Atenagora in Jerusalem in January 1964.

“We give thanks to God as we commemorate together the blessed encounter that took place 40 years ago between my venerable predecessor, Pope Paul VI, and the venerable Patriarch Atenagora,” said the Pope. 

The Pope called that encounter “providential …for the life of the Church, both courageous and joyous at the same time!”  

“Inspired by their trust and love for God, our enlightened predecessors knew how to move beyond prejudice and secular misunderstandings, and offered an admirable example as pastors and guides of the People of God,” said the Pope. 

“In rediscovering their brotherhood, they experienced a sentiment of profound joy, which inspired them to resume with trust, the relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople,” he said.
 
“In these past 40 years, our Churches in their relations, have lived important moments, which have favored the spirit of reciprocal reconciliation,” he continued. 

"In particular, we cannot forget what happened in the month of April 1204," the Pope said, referring to the sacking of Constantinople by Crusaders that contributed to the collapse of the Byzantine Empire about three centuries later.

"How can't we not share, at a distance of eight centuries, the anger and the pain,"  he added.

The Pontiff expressed his wishes that the celebration of the meeting between Pope Paul Vi and Patriarch "may favor a leap forward in the dialogue and the reparation of mutual brotherly relationship." 

During the Angelus, Pope John Paul explained the relevance of his meeting with the Patriarch. He said the embrace, which took place 40 years ago between their predecessors and which they were commemorating today, "has become a symbol of the auspicious reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, and professes hope in the journey toward the full unity of all Christians.” 

Patriach Bartholomew I also participated at the mass presided over by the Pope in St. Peter’s Square. “Together we will give the homily and proclaim our common profession of faith,” said the Pope.

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Summer conferences for Catholic youth inspire, renew faith

Steubenville, Ohio, Jun 29, 2004 (CNA) - School’s out and Catholic summer youth conferences are heating up. More than a dozen regional camps have been organized and the young people are coming out to grow in their faith.

About 750 high school students gathered at Saint Martin's College in Lacey, Washington, last weekend for the Northwest Catholic youth conference, sponsored by the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

The conferences, held throughout the United States under the theme “Rise Up”, are aimed at putting fire in Catholic youth. Teens are encouraged to live out their faith and are reminded of God's love. They listen to motivational speakers, attend mass, pray, sing and hang out with other Catholic teens.

The conferences started 30 years ago in Steubenville, Ohio. About 30,000 youth are expected to attend the Steubenville conferences this summer.

The teens came from all over Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia, Canada, for the Northwest's first Steubenville conference, reported The Olympian. 

"You meet a whole bunch of kids that believe the same thing you do," Philip Joy of Olympia said.

"This conference gives them hope," said Bob Falkner, president of Spiritus Ministries Northwest in Olympia, who has been taking his youth group to Steubenville conferences for the past four years. "It's that relationship with Jesus Christ coupled with service that makes everything have sense," he said.

Falkner and Peggy Martinez were in touch with Steubenville organizers in planning to bring the event to the Northwest since September. Martinez quit her job to dedicate herself to the project full time.

Two other conferences were held this weekend in Louisiana and Ohio.

Regional summer conferences will be held throughout the month of July. Check out this list for meetings in your region: 

Young Adult Conference (Washington, DC)    July 2-4, 

High School Youth 2  (Steubenville, OH) July 9-11

St. Louis/Mid-America (Springfield, MO) July 9-11

West (Tucson, AZ) July 9-11

East 1 (Attleboro, MA) July 9-11

Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)   July 16-18

High School Youth 3 (Steubenville, OH) July 16-18

East 2 (Attleboro, MA) July 16-18

The Rockies (Denver, CO) July 23-25

San Diego (San Diego, CA) July 23-25

North (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN) July 30-Aug. 1

For information on Steubenville conferences, visit www.franciscanyouth.com

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Catholic community remembers Mexican immigrants who died at border

Phoenix, Ariz., Jun 29, 2004 (CNA) - The Catholic community remembered those Mexican immigrants who died trying to cross the United States border into Arizona Sunday. About 500 people attended the mass, concelebrated by Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson and Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix at the Immaculate Heart Catholic Church in downtown Phoenix.

The mass, celebrated almost entirely in Spanish, included a memorial, made up of white crosses, candles and roses. The names of the deceased Mexican immigrants were read aloud at the end of the mass, reported the Arizona Republic.

The country’s largest Latino rights group, La Raza, reports that more than 40 people died near the Arizona-Mexico border since Oct. 1, 2003.

"We have a responsibility to other people," Bishop Kicanas told the assembly during the 90-minute mass, reported the Arizona Republic. "We will not stand idly by while brothers and sisters die crossing the desert. We will not let borders divide us.”

The mass coincided with La Raza’s national conference in Pheonix, which included panels, discussions and summits about important Hispanic issues. Organizers expect about 23,000 people will have attended the conference by the time it closes today.

Democratic Senator John Kerry is tentatively set to speak today at 1 p.m., during the Latino Community Town Hall.

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Sandinista leader proposes Cardinal Obando for Nobel Peace Prize

Managua, Nicaragua, Jun 29, 2004 (CNA) - Daniel Ortega, who led the Sandinista government in Nicaragua during the 1980’s and was a declared enemy of Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo, has proposed that the Cardinal be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, “in recognition of his struggle for national reconciliation.”

Ortega announced his proposal after meeting with the Cardinal last Friday at the Catholic University in Managua, where they discussed “issues of common interest.”

According to Ortega, a fierce opponent of the Cardinal during the 1980’s, “Cardinal Obando was a determining factor in the efforts we made during the Sandinista government to sign the peace accords with the counterrevolutionary groups.”

During their meeting, the Sandinista leader also asked the Cardinal to celebrate Mass in memory of the more than 45,000 people of both sides who died during the military conflict between the Sandinista government and the so-called “counterrevolutionary” groups of the time.

The Cardinal accepted the invitation and said he would have the Vicar General of the Archdiocese preside at the Mass, which will take place on July 19, the 25th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution.

Road to reconciliation

Cardinal Obando explained on Sunday that he accepted the invitation to offer a Mass on the date of the Sandinista revolution “so that never again” will there be acts of violence and war in the country.

He said that the Mass will be offered for peace, reconciliation, and the eternal repose of those who died in the civil war of the 80’s, but above all, “so that never again will these acts” of bloodshed and violence take place between Nicaraguans.

He also said he accepted the request of Ortega because he considered it “a very good thing” to offer a Mass for peace, reconciliation and for those who died during the conflict.

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Statement against homosexual adoption sent to Spanish lawmakers

Madrid, Spain, Jun 29, 2004 (CNA) - An independent organization called “Professionals for Ethics” has sent a statement entitled, “Children Have Rights” to all Spanish lawmakers this week in which they express their opposition to adoption by homosexual couples.

Signed by more than 500 professionals including doctors, lawyers, teachers, psychologists and social workers, the statement explains with detail the educational, psychological and ethical reasons for which adoption by homosexuals would be detrimental to children.

“Our experience as professionals shows us that from the first months of life, children develop a sense of father and mother regardless of whether or not they know their biological parents.  Thus the masculine figure to whom they are closest becomes their father, while the woman who is closest to the child becomes, in their eyes, their mother,” the statement says.

“The rejection or prevention of adoption by homosexual couples,” the statement adds, “has been expressed by lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists and other public figures.  Such is the case with experts such as members from the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, and socialist leaders such as Juan Carlos Rodriguez Ibarra and Lionel Jospin.  Likewise, the European Human Rights Tribunal agreed with the French government in 2002 when it prevented the homosexual Philippe Frette from adopting a child.”

The statement also underscored that “there is no right of an adult to have a child, either naturally nor by adoption,” but children do indeed have the right “to grow up in the same conditions and with the same opportunities as the rest of their friends who have a father and a mother.”

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Vatican observer explains why evangelicals continue to flourish in Latin America

Rome, Italy, Jun 29, 2004 (CNA) - In his weekly column for this Tuesday, June 29, Vatican observer Sandro Magister of the online weekly “L’Espresso,” analyzes the new evangelical-fundamentalist tendencies and warns of the growing impact they may have on the future of Latin America.

Magister bases his analysis not only on recent events but also on the book, “The Next Christendom. The Coming of Global Christianity,” published in 2002 by Professor Philip Jenkins, an Episcopalian religious historian and professor at Pennsylvania State University.  Magíster says the book is “widely read by the leaders of the Catholic Church, both inside the Vatican and beyond: it represents for the global politics of the Church what ‘The Clash of Civilizations’ by Samuel P. Huntington was for geopolitics.”

Magister says that Jenkins offers statistics that demonstrate the surprising growth of the so-called “independent churches,” Evangelical in nature, numbering 1/5 of all Christians in the world.  He points out that while the emergence of apostolic movements in the Philippines will make it the largest Catholic nation in the world, Brazil is on the opposite end of the spectrum, with more than half of Latin America’s 50 million Evangelicals, and where the Catholic Church, as opposed to the Church in the Philippines, has not followed the same path.

Magister says the idea “that it is the Protestant establishment in the United States that is fomenting and financing these sects, in the interest of political domination” is not without basis, and he points out that in his book, Jenkins reveals factors that would seem to support it.

But far more convincing, he says, is the lack of leadership on the part of the Church.

The complete analysis can be found at:
www.chiesa.espressonline.it/english

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Catholic bishops of North Dakota and Minnesota to issue letter against death penalty for accused killer

, Jun 29, 2004 (CNA) - The Catholic bishops of North Dakota and Minnesota are expected to issue a letter this week, stating their position against the death penalty for Alfonso Rodriguez Junior, who is accused of the murder of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin, reported The Associated Press.

Although there is no word yet if federal authorities will seek the death penalty, the bishops will ask that prosecutors seek justice that does not include "vengeance."

Rodriguez has pleaded innocent in the federal court case, which is being heard in North Dakota. If convicted, Rodriguez could face the death penalty.

The bishops are planning to send the letter to U.S. attorneys Drew Wrigley of North Dakota and Tom Heffelfinger of Minnesota, and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

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Cardinal Medina denounces growing moral crisis in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Jun 29, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Jorge Medina, ex-prefect of the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, lamented this week that his country is going through a serious crisis of values.

Celebrating Mass in Valparaiso, Cardinal Medina underscored that “there is certainly a moral crisis now, to what degree, I have no way of measuring.  But we have a morals crisis in some parts of Chile and I would say it is on the increase.”

The Mass was presided by the local bishop, Gonzalo Duarte, in honor of Cardinal Medina’s 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

Among the attendees were the head of the Navy, Miguel Angel Vergara, representatives of different dioceses in Chile, and delegations from Catholic schools in the region.

After the Mass, Cardinal Medina reflected on his priesthood and said he was happy, although he felt he had many things yet to accomplish.

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