Vatican City, Jul 21, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father spoke on Psalm 118 during today’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, in which he explaind that the source of peace of the faithful believer is his obedience to the plan of God and faithfulness to His commandments amidst trials and tribulations.
The psalm, said the Holy Father, says that “on the path of life, we often encounter moments of darkness, but the light of the Word of God dispels that darkness, often quite unexpectedly. .... The perfect image of God's light is Christ Himself, Who proclaims: 'I am the light of the world'.”
John Paul II indicated that the psalmist evokes "the suffering and dangers of life that the faithful must confront and who need to be illuminated and sustained. ... The faithful person passes through the world amidst dangers, cares, persecutions; he knows that tribulation is always close at hand. The Christian knows that every day he must take up the cross on the way to Calvary.”
“Nevertheless,” he said, “the just man remains faithful. ... Peace of conscience is the strength of the believer; his constancy in obeying the divine commandments is a source of serenity. He wants to be completely faithful to God's will. On this path, he will find peace in his soul and will be able to overcome the dark entanglement of trials, gaining true happiness.”
While greeting Italian pilgrims, the Pope addressed in a special way the new general director of the Small Work of Divine Providence, Fr. Flavio Peloso, and the members of the General Chapter. "I hope," he said, "that your joy at the recent canonization of your founder, St. Luigi Orione - on May 16 - may be translated into a renewed commitment to fidelity to Christ, the Church and the poor."
After the audience, the Pope returned by car to his summer residence in Castelgandolfo.
Tampa, Fla., Jul 21, 2004 (CNA) - The parents of a brain-damaged woman, at the center of a right-to-die case, said their daughter would not want to die due to her strong Catholic faith.
Yesterday, Bob and Mary Schindler stated that their daughter, Terri Schiavo, would choose to live in her current condition, based on the statement by Pope John Paul II in March that people in vegetative states have the right to nutrition and health care.
Based on the Pope's statement, Pat Anderson, the Schindlers' attorney, filed for a court motion, asking a state judge to remove Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, as her legal guardian and end his efforts to end her life, reported The Associated Press.
"As a practicing Catholic ... who was raised in the Church and who received 12 years of religious schooling and instruction, Terri does not want to commit a sin of the gravest proportion by foregoing treatment," said the motion.
This is the first time the Florida woman’s parents speak about the family’s strong Catholic faith as a source for their conviction that her life should not be terminated.
In a second ruling yesterday, a judge said the Schindlers’ attorney can question Michael Schiavo and his fiancee under oath in early August. The depositions will be used by the Schindlers to have him removed as their daughter's legal guardian.
These two rulings are the latest in a case that has been ongoing for more than four years. In 2000, a judge initially ruled in favor of Michael Schiavo. He argues that his wife, who has been in a persistent vegetative state for 14 years, had expressed when she was well that she would not want to be kept alive in this condition.
However, her parents doubt that she really said this; they believe her condition could improve with therapy.
In a more recent case, Michael Schiavo had been granted permission from a state probate judge to withdraw the feeding tube in October. But Florida Governor Jeb Bush passed state law, ordering the tube reinserted six days after it was removed.
Michael Schiavo sued Bush, and a circuit court judge struck down the law as unconstitutional. An appeal is now before the Florida Supreme Court; oral arguments are scheduled for Aug. 31.
Vatican City, Jul 21, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy Father sent a telegram of condolences, through Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, to Bishop Stepan Meniok, C.SS.R., the archiepiscopal exarch of Donets'k-Kharkiv, Ukraine, upon the news of yesterday's mining disaster in Krasnolimansk in East Ukraine which killed 31 miners.
In the telegram, the Pope asks the exarch to convey his condolences to the authorities, family members and friends of those who died. "While he assures you of his fervent prayers for the repose of the souls of the deceased and for consolation for the wounded and all those who are suffering as a result of this serious accident, he sends you a special apostolic blessing as a sign of his spiritual closeness."
Only 12 miners of the 48 who were underground are known to have survived the explosion. By Wednesday hope was fading for five Ukrainian coal miners trapped for nearly two days after the underground explosion in which a methane blast ripped through the Krasnolimanska mine near Donetsk late on Monday.
This was the worst mining accident in the region in three years. Accidents are frequent in the region due to old equipment and operating procedures.
Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 21, 2004 (CNA) - The Thomas More Law Center, a legal organization based in Ann Arbour, vowed yesterday to fight in order to keep the cross in the L.A. county seal, after the county's Board of Supervisors could not muster enough votes to place the cross issue on the November ballot.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors under the threat of a lawsuit by the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), voted in early June (3-2) to remove the cross from the county seal.
The County Board affirmed their vote one week later, and then refused to allow the decision to be put on the ballot for LA County citizens to decide for themselves.
The Thomas More Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on June 4th, and Los Angeles County has been ordered to respond by July 28, 2004.
In a statement, the Center informed yesterday that "we are preparing our legal arguments and collecting documents from the County, including the infamous letter from the ACLU demanding that the cross be removed."
"The County has publicly stated that they will take extra time to implement their decision to remove the cross. We are closely monitoring this. Should the County decide to start removing the cross prior to responding to our lawsuit, we will consider seeking a restraining order from the court to stop them.," the Center statement informed on Tuesday.
"Admittedly -the statement explains- it would have been a much easier case to win had the County decided to fight the ACLU’s demand to remove the cross. However, because the County voted to change the seal by removing the cross, we must advance a more difficult legal argument. Namely, that by removing the cross in the face of ACLU threats, Los Angeles County is demonstrating hostility towards Christianity, in violation of the First Amendment."
"Thus, the case will be difficult. Yet, we believe that something must be done, and that the LA. County Board members must understand that Christians are not simply going to allow the cross to be removed without a fight."
"Our lawsuit against Los Angeles County is one of the most important, in part, because of what it represents. Either we allow the ACLU to dictate the future of this country, or we stand and fight for our history and our faith," the statement concludes.
San Diego, Calif., Jul 21, 2004 (CNA) - A new Catholic university is planning to open its doors in San Diego in the fall of 2005. The educational institution, simply called New Catholic University (NCU), will offer a hands-on curriculum, unique for its emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship and ethical leadership.
The university, which filed for state approval this month and has supporters praying for its success, will offer degree programs in technology, business and mass media communications.
In all academic disciplines, NCU hopes to foster an entrepreneurial spirit and encourage leadership and innovation, guided by the spiritual, moral and social teachings of Jesus Christ.
The university’s Senior Business Plan, a two-year business planning and implementation exercise, will require all students, regardless of major, to develop a viable business enterprise before graduation. Faculty will serve as mentors, sharing their personal experience and offering their unique guidance.
The university’s ultimate goal, NCU president Derry Connolly said, is for at least 50 percent of each graduating class to continue with their business plans after graduation.
According to NCU co-founder and dean of technology Ed Snow, the Senior Business Plan will be “the highlight of the student’s academic experience and a defining hallmark of the college.”
Co-founder Wes Fach predicts that NCU will quickly become the “Catholic university of choice.” He expects the university to attract a distinguished faculty, composed of business-savvy entrepreneurs with years of industry experience.
NCU was founded in 2003 by a group of lay Catholics, including three North County businessmen, an attorney and an academic. The university will hold an inaugural gala for supporters and volunteers Sept. 25. The black-tie optional event will be held at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine. Connolly hopes to attract at least 500 supporters to the gala, which will lay the groundwork for the university’s opening.
For more information, go to www.newcatholicuniversity.com
Chicago, Ill., Jul 21, 2004 (CNA) - Protestants may soon account for less than half of the United States population for the first time since the country's founding, according to a survey released by the University of Chicago yesterday, reported Reuters.
From 1993 to 2002, Protestant membership in the U.S. fell from 63 percent of the population to 52 percent, and researchers predict that it will continue to drop to below half in the next two years.
While the number of Protestants has decreased and the number of people claiming no religion has increased, from nine to 14 percent, the number of Catholics in 2002 remained fairly steady at about 25 percent.
The survey found that Protestants are in decline because younger adherents are dropping out. Also, some Protestants have now decided to identify themselves simply as "Christian", explains the report. However, researchers expect that immigration will likely keep Catholic rates stable.
People who belong to other religions – including Eastern faiths and Islam, Orthodox Christians, interdenominational Christians and native-American faiths – increased from 3 percent to 7 percent. The number of Jewish people remained stable at slightly under two percent.
The study defined Protestants all post-Reformation Christian churches, such as Baptist, Methodist and Episcopalian, including Mormons and New Age Spirituality adherents.
The survey has been tracking societal trends for 32 years. It included 2,765 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus two percent for the 2002 statistics.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 21, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Mario de Gasperin of Queretaro, Mexico, denounced this week inaccuracy in the media concerning information about the Church, saying news reports often lack a proper context and portray the Church as backwards.
Speaking before the celebration of Mass for more than 14,000 people, Bishop Gasperin said, “There is a general deterioration of values, and the Church as an institution has been violently attacked in some media outlets, for example, in regards to the teachings on justice, marriage and sexuality.”
“The Church is portrayed as backwards, but it’s the other way around, because the Church promotes authentic and true values, the dignity of the person, the stability of marriage, which are the basis of society for the good of society,” he added.
“The Pope has said it very clearly,” he continued. “The Church is the defender and promoter of man and the dignity of the person, and society should be built up starting from there and not from fads that result from economic or political interests, and that is the battle we face.”
Likewise Bishop Gasperin emphasized, “The Church certainly feels attacked by the media for the way in which news is reported and the context in which it is given, and we see that in many instances disrespect is shown even to the Holy Father, as news is reported in a very unbalanced way. That’s the way we see it.”
“The Church is at the service of humanity and society, and she offers the teaching of Jesus Christ, and the truth is it is not easy. The Church defends the dignity of the person and man’s freedom, but also a freedom which has limits, because these are two different things. For this reason I believe there is always a conduct and a moderation which all of us should observe. Of course modern man doesn’t like this, nor does someone who only cares about money, politics or power, and so there is a constant confrontation,” he concluded.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 21, 2004 (CNA) - The Judicial Vicar and Canon Lawyer of the Archdiocese of Oviedo, Fr. Andres Perez, said this week the diverse and complex nature of the marriage annulment cases processed by the archdiocesan tribunal belies the need for better preparation for those who wish to marry in the Catholic Church.
Fr. Perez, who was assigned the post in 1999, said, “99% of the cases we handle have to do with marriage annulments.”
He issued his call after witnessing daily the high rate of failed marriages, which in some cases, were truly surprising. “Last year there were 5 cases of the 29 we received in which the marriage did not last even 1 month, even though they had been dating for years.”
Fr. Perez said the change of mentality in young people who decide to get married constitutes a real problem. “People are more immature, less thoughtful, and have less of a sense of commitment. Consequently, many couples split up.”
After counseling people who have decided to begin the annulment process not to contact a lawyer—who “always is going to try to convince them to go forward with the process”—Fr. Perez said they should instead contact the tribunal, “where we will tell them if there are grounds for an annulment.”
“In 70% of the cases it’s usually because of some type of psychological conflict. For example, if there is drug addiction, alcoholism, or obsessive gambling, these are significant grounds.”
He also explained why there is such a high rate of annulment among lower-income couples. “Some kids were drug addicts and they thought that one way to get money was to get married, so they could get gifts. They did, and it resulted in a disaster. They asked for an annulment and it was granted. Those that are poor are poor in every sense,” he said.
Fr. Perez also outlined the profile of those who tend to request an annulment. “Normally, the person that requests an annulment is in a new relationship and desires to marry in the Church, or if they are already married, they want to regularize the marriage. Most of the time women are the ones who file the petition. When a man does, it is usually because his girlfriend is more devout than is he.”
Regarding the “veto” that the Church places on a high number of those “guilty” of an invalid marriage, Fr. Perez explained that “many times the reason for the invalidity is still present in the person. In this case, if the person remarries, the marriage will again be invalid. The Church exercises a veto in order to protect the other person and the nature of the sacrament.”
After revealing these details, Fr. Perez called for tougher requirements for those wishing to marry. “In my opinion we should be stricter. The problem is if a priest refuses to marry someone, the person ends up on some talk show, and they can always find some other priest who is not as strict.”
Madrid, Spain, Jul 21, 2004 (CNA) - As a new law granting full marital status to homosexual unions is set to be implemented beginning next year, the Bishops Conference of Spain has issued a statement defending authentic marriage and rejecting the new law as dangerous to people, society and the legal system.
At their June meeting, the bishops’ Executive Committee approved the statement entitled, “In Favor of True Marriage,” in which they explain the Church’s teaching to society, the faithful and in particular, to Catholic politicians.
The statement recognizes the “inalienable dignity” of all homosexuals, and therefore, says they deserve the same rights as every other citizen. “As Christians they are called to participate in the life and mission of the Church,” it adds, condemning at the same time “expressions or behaviors that damage the dignity of these persons and their rights.”
“If the State proceeds in granting legal status to marriage between persons of the same sex, the institution of marriage will be seriously affected. To make counterfeit money is to devalue true money and place the entire economy in danger. Likewise, to make homosexual unions the equivalent of true marriage is to place the institution of marriage in danger of dissolution, and with it, the social order,” says the statement.
The Spanish bishops exhorted all, “especially Catholics, to do everything that is legitimately in their power in our democratic system to make the laws of our country favorable towards the only true form of marriage.”
“The Catholic lawmaker has the moral duty to clearly and publicly express his or her disagreement with this law which seeks to legalize in some way homosexual unions,” they added.
In the conclusion of the statement, the bishops said the Church “recognizes the sacred value of all true marriage, including the marriages of those who do not profess our faith” and they reiterated their commitment to “strengthening the marriage institution,” while at the same time they called for respect and loving kindness towards homosexual persons.