Archive of August 2, 2004

Pope expresses grave concern, sadness after attacks on churches in Iraq

Vatican City, Aug 2, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II offered prayers for the victims of yesterday’s church bombings in Iraq and called for an end to the bloodshed.

The Pope’s official message to Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of the Chaldeans of Babylon and president of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Iraq, was released this morning by the Holy See Press Office.

In his letter, the Pope asked the patriarch to express to the pastors and faithful of the various rites of the oriental Church his solidarity in this time of suffering. He said he ardently deplores the unjust attacks against those who are working toward peace and reconciliation in their country.

“The painful news of the tragic attacks that occurred yestereday in Baghdad and Mossul against various Catholic communities, who were gathered in prayer in their respective places of celebration, deeply struck me,” the Pope wrote to the patriarch.

“In this time of trial, I am spiritually close to the Church and the people of Iraq and I renew the expression of my solidarity to the pastors and the faithful, assuring them of my prayers and of my constant pledge, so that a climate of peace and reconciliation may be restored in this beloved nation,” he continued.

“At the same time, I hope that all the believers in the one kind and merciful God will unite in deploring any form of violence and cooperate to restore harmony in the troubled Iraqi land,” he said.

The attacks against various Catholic communities in Iraq were “made much more devastating because they were directed against the faithful who were gathered in prayer on the Sabbath,” said Fr. Ciro Benedettini, vice-director of the Holy See Press Office.

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USCCB praises Vatican document on collaboration between men and women

Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2004 (CNA) - The new Vatican document on the collaboration of men and women is "a timely reminder of both the equality of men and women and also of the distinctive difference between them with which God endowed them in creation,” said Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World" was released Saturday in Rome by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith,

"This relatively brief document is filled with concepts that are essential for our society today to take seriously and to live by," said Bishop Gregory in a statement released yesterday.

The document reminds its readers of the fundamental equality between men and women as human persons. It also draws attention to trends in contemporary thinking that question the fundamental nature of the distinction between men and women or seek to diminish it.

The Letter presents the Church's perspective by examining the biblical understanding of the human person. It also states that men and women should not see their difference "as a source of discord to be overcome by denial or eradication, but rather as the possibility for collaboration, to be cultivated with mutual respect for their difference."

The USCCB underlined that the Letter notes that the Genesis narrative of the creation of woman contains a spousal dimension that reveals how woman exists "for the other." It also notes that "women preserve the deep intuition of the goodness in their lives of those actions which elicit life, and contribute to the growth and protection of the other."

"Without prejudice to the advancement of women's rights in society and the family," the Letter states that "the proper condition of the male-female relationship cannot be a kind of mistrustful and defensive opposition. Their relationship needs to be lived in peace and in the happiness of shared love."

The Letter states that while “social policies…must combat all unjust sexual discrimination,” the promotion of equal dignity “must be harmonized with attentive recognition of the difference and reciprocity between the sexes.”

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Pope remembers heroism of Polish fighters during WWII uprising

Vatican City, Aug 2, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican Press office released a letter today, which Pope John Paul II sent to his native Poland on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Warsaw uprising against the Nazis, praising the heroism of those who went to war for freedom.

“As a son of this nation, I wish to give hommage to the heros in that August uprising, to the dead and those who are still living,” he wrote.

“I kneel before the rebels who in the unfair fight did not spare their blood and their lives for the cause of their country,” he continued. “Even if in the end, for the lack of adequate arms and due to the external conditions, they experienced a military loss, their actions remain forever in the memory of the nation as the highest expression of patriotism.

“How much love for their country must have been in the hearts of those who, despite their young age, little more than children who were beginning to face life, would climb into the barricades in the name of liberty itself and of the entire community.

He concluded his letter, asking God, through his grace, to make the hearts of the Polish people ever more noble “so that the memory of the heroic actions of their ancestors is … a motivating example of love for their county that even in times of peace is expressed in placing the common good before personal matters.”

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Bishop blames massive attack against Iraqi Christians to ‘foreign fanatics’

Baghdad, Iraq, Aug 2, 2004 (CNA) - Fourteen Iraqi Christians were believed dead last night at least 60 wounded in Baghdad and Mosul and after car bombs exploded at five churches. The churches were crowded with people for evening services.

“These were the actions of terrorists,” said Bishop Rabban al Qas of Amadiya in a telephone interview with AsiaNews. This terrorism and fundamental Islam, says the bishop, are influenced by foreign groups.

“These are not the actions of Iraqis; Iraqis have never done these things,” he said.

In the last few months, several liquor shops, owned by Christians, were attacked. But yesterday’s explosions clearly indicate an escalation in the violence.

“It is a type of vendetta,” the bishop continued, “they are attacking oriental Christians because they want to attack the West. In their eyes, the West and Christianity are the same.”

One interior ministry official supported the bishops statement, suggesting that the attacks might have been intended to cause outrage in the countries of coalition forces in Iraq.

The co-ordinated atrocity, timed to cause the maximum carnage, is the first time insurgents have targeted Iraq's 750,000-strong Christian minority, most of whom live in Baghdad, where four of the five attacks happened last night.

The bloodiest assault was at the Chaldean church in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Doura.

U.S. military and Iraqi security forces cordoned off the areas as worshippers, many bleeding from wounds caused by flying glass and debris, fled the churches. Police said at least two of the blasts were caused by suicide bombers.

Two of the other Baghdad explosions were in the central Karada neighborhood. The U.S. military found an unexploded bomb outside another church nearby.

In the northern city of Mosul, a car bomb detonated at 7 p.m., just as worshippers were leaving evening mass at the Catholic church. Captain Angela Bowman, for the U.S. military, said four people were wounded and rocket-propelled grenades had also been fired at the church.

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Press report highlights ‘new breed of priests’ loyal to Pope John Paul

Los Angeles, Calif., Aug 2, 2004 (CNA) - The Los Angeles Times published a long report yesterday, highlighting a “new breed” of younger priests, who are loyal to the Pope, to Church doctrine and to deep pastoral commitments.

The report features Fr. Marcos Gonzalez, associate pastor at St. Andrew Church in Pasadena, as a member of this new breed, ordained during the 25-year papacy of Pope John Paul II.

The 41-year-old priest wears a cassock every day, disagrees with optional celibacy for priests, opposes women's ordination, believes artificial birth control and gay sex are always a sin and tells couples to remain chaste until marriage. This “new breed” also speaks boldly about religious vocations and evangelization.

The report tells how Fr. Gonzalez recently held three classes of St. Andrew students “spellbound during a pitch promoting the virtues of religious life.”

"We want to present a vision of the priesthood that is faithful, vibrant and optimistic," Gonzalez is quoted as saying.

The report states that these “John Paul priests” represent “a global trend toward Christian orthodoxy, in contrast to a generation of more liberal priests, ordained during the 1960s reforms of the Second Vatican Council.”

Despite the contrast, older, more liberal priests respect this new generation ordained ministers, reports the Times.

While some experts say the new breed will reinvigorate the Church others say their stance on lay leadership in the Church and other issues may create conflict with lay members of the Church.

Fr. Gonzalez told the Times that unlike older priests, who often complain about the rigidity of the Church before Vatican II, priests of his generation grew up amid social uncertainty and find beauty and solace in the Church's 2,000-year-old disciplines.

The report cites Dean Hoge, sociologist at Catholic University of America, who states that this "search for a solid rock" is one of the reasons young priests today are more conservative. Other reasons include John Paul's influence and more active recruitment by orthodox bishops and seminaries.

Priests ordained during John Paul's papacy now make up 32 percent of the 43,600 Catholic priests in the U.S.

For the full story, go to:

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Charismatic priest-musician to build largest church in Brazil

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aug 2, 2004 (CNA) - Popular priest, musician and charismatic leader, Fr. Marcelo Rossi, of the Diocese of Santo Amaro in Brazil, will build the largest Catholic church in Brazil, and one of the largest in the world.

Fr. Rossi, who has gained notoriety for his charismatic celebration of the Mass and his promotion of the praying of the Rosary according to the Byzantine tradition, is building a church dedicated the Virgin Mary which will be able to seat 100,000 people.

Currently the largest church in Brazil, and in all of Latin America, is the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida, patroness of the country, which holds about 45,000.

Bishop Fernando Antonio Figueiredo of Santo Amaro, said a definitive date has not yet been set for its inauguration, but he said it will take place in 2005.  “The church will allow us to have more activities for the community and to have more Masses and other gatherings.  We can’t do that in the current church, which holds about 30,000 people, because of the structure, which is very limited,” said Bishop Figueiredo.

The name of the new church will be Marian but it will be chosen by readers of the current church’s magazine, “Byzantine Rosary.”

The magazine has a circulation of about 100,000.

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Study confirms “modern” contraceptive pills are dangerous for women

Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2004 (CNA) - A recent study by prominent medical organizations has determined that the latest contraceptive pills continue to pose a risk for embolism in women.

Thromboembolism consists of the formation of blood clots in the veins or arteries, which can travel to the brain or lungs and become life-threatening.

In an attempt to measure the relationship between thromboembolism and the use of today’s oral contraceptives that contain low dosages of estrogen, researchers of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in California and of Northwest University in Chicago conducted a study on women between the ages of 15 and 44.

The study examined 196 women with thromboembolism and compared them with 746 women who did not have the illness.

Blood samples for both groups of women were taken to determine if there was any sort of genetic predisposition to the disorder.

The study, which was recently published in the magazine “Contraception,” showed that the risk of developing thromboembolism among users of oral contraceptives with low dosages of estrogen was four times greater than for non-users of the pills.  The risk was even greater in obese women.

The study also showed that women with a genetic predisposition towards thromboembolism were at a risk seven to eleven times greater, and even in women without the predisposition the risk was three times higher.

It is believed that thromboembolism is associated with the quantity of estrogen in contraceptives, and for this reason during the last three decades producers of contraceptives who lowered the dosages of estrogen in their pills.

The discoveries of this new study confirm previously reported data concerning the use of oral contraceptives in high dosages, and it is one of the few studies carried out on the new generation of oral contraceptives.

According to the study, the new generation of contraceptives is not significantly safer, in regards to thromboembolism, than their predecessors.

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Argentinean Archbishop issues statement on alleged Marian apparitions

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 2, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Maria Arancibia of Mendoza, Argentina, has published a statement clarifying the official position of the Archdiocese regarding “supposed supernatural” events that would include “private revelations” of the Virgin Mary in the town of El Algarrobal.

In the statement, the Archbishop prohibited liturgical celebrations from taking place in the area of the supposed apparitions, but he said he “will continue to accompany” the parties involved and “those who go there in a sincere expression of faith.”

He underscored that “the pastoral response in theses cases is neither to condemn nor approve, but rather to listen, accompany and counsel.”

Archbishop Arancibia recalled that since 2000 the Archdiocese has been attending to the persons involved in the alleged apparitions, “in order to discern their authenticity, following the criteria and tradition of the Catholic Church in these matters.”

Lastly, he recalled that the constant teaching of the Church is that “extraordinary experiences of grace should not be prioritized to such a degree that we lose sight of the fundamental importance of holiness in ordinary life.”

“In no way can private revelations or personal experiences be placed above the living Word of God and the faith of the Church in Jesus Christ.  Whoever wishes to live the faith intensely can find everything they need in the Word and in the sacraments.”

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