Dallas, Texas, Aug 4, 2004 (CNA) - President George W. Bush reiterated his commitment to promoting "compassionate Conservatism" by supporting the work of faith-based organizations during an address to the Knights of Columbus at their annual convention yesterday.
"I really appreciate the Knights of Columbus. This strong organization believes in families and faith, and compassion for those in need," said the President during his opening remarks.
After addressing some personal words to the Cardinals attending the convention Cardinals Theodore McCarrick, Edward Egan, Justin Rigali, Francis George, William Keeler, as well as Cardinal Frantisek Macharski from Poland the President recalled his recent meeting with Pope John Paul.
"Pope John Paul II has been a unique and commanding voice for the cause of the poor, the weak, the hungry, and the outcast. He has challenged our nation, and the entire world, to embrace the culture of life. He's called upon us to uphold and affirm the dignity of every person, rich and poor, able and disabled, born and unborn."
"He's called us to love and serve our neighbors in need. Few organizations have worked harder and done more and met this challenge than the Knights of Columbus," President Bush added.
"We're grateful for your service to the men and women in uniform and to our nation's veterans," the President continued. "You've sent hundreds of thousands of prayer books to those working to make our country more secure and to bring freedom in parts of the world that are desperate for freedom."
Bush thanked the Knights "for their help in helping low-income parents in Washington, D.C., escape from schools have their children escape from schools that will not teach and will not change. Because of the work of the Knights of Columbus, and other concerned citizens in our Nation's Capital, poor parents now have a choice."
The President said "one of the most effective ways our government can help those in need is to help the charities and community groups that are doing God's work every day. That's what I believe government ought to do. I believe government needs to stand on the side of faith-based groups, not against faith-based groups, when they come to saving lives."
He also said that the "faith-based initiative that I've launched recognizes the need there be separation of church and state the state should never be the church, and the church certainly should never be the state. But the state should never fear the good works of the church."
"Our goal is to end the unfair discrimination against faith-based charities by the federal government. And we're making substantial progress.
"Religious charities that are effectively helping the poor should have a fair and equal chance to compete for federal money," he added.
Bush also said that "things are changing in the Nation's Capital when it comes to invigorating the faith-based initiative.
"In all these areas, caring for the poor, and protecting the vulnerable, affirming life, and defending the family, we're depending on the goodness and compassion of the American people.
"See, the strength of this country is not our military might, it's not the size of our wallet. The strength of this country is the hearts and souls of the American people.
"I appreciate the prayers of the people of this country. People I'll never get to say thanks to in person lift Laura and me up in prayer," he concluded.
Read the full Presidential speech to the Knights of Columbus at:
Vatican City, Aug 4, 2004 (CNA) - Quoting St. Augustine during the first general audience held at Castelgandolfo this summer, Pope John Paul II said today that Christ's humanity is help for human weakness.
Commenting on the canticle of St Paul's letter to the Philippians "Christ Servant of God," which the Church recites every Sunday at Vespers, the Pontiff said "in these verses shines the original Christian faith, centered on the figure of Christ, recognized and proclaimed as our brother in humanity, but also as the Lord of the universe.”
“Christ chooses to lower Himself from glory to His death on the cross,” said the Pope. “This is the first movement of the canticle, to which we can return time and again to reveal other nuances.
“The second movement continues in the inverted sense: from the depths He is raised to the heavens, from humiliation He is raised and exalted,” he continued.
“Before the grandiose figure of Christ, glorified and enthroned, all prostrate themselves in adoration,” he said.
Quoting St. Augustine, the Pope concluded: "Could we have been abandoned to ourselves? Absolutely not.” The Lord "annihilated himself, taking on the form of a servant,” without ever abandoning the form of God.
“He, who was God, became man, assuming what he was not, without losing what he was; in this way, God became man,” said the Pope. “On the one hand here, you find help for your weakness. On the other hand, you find how much is needed for you to reach perfection.
“Christ raises you by virtue of his humanity; he guides you by virtue of his human divinity; he directs you to his divinity,” he said.
Washington D.C., Aug 4, 2004 (CNA) - The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops International Policy Committee arrived in Sudan Sunday to assess the humanitarian situation in the Darfur region.
Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee is scheduled to meet with the governor of South Darfur, where the Christian minority is being persecuted, and visit refugee camps there. He will also meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations, providing assistance in the region.
In Khartoum, Bishop Ricard will meet with Catholic Church leaders, United Nations personnel, and several officials of the Government in Khartoum, including the foreign minister, the minister of internal affairs, and the first vice president.
Government-backed Arab militias, known as the “Janjaweed,” have killed an estimated 30,000 people in the Darfur region of Sudan in the last 17 months. Another million have been forced to flee in the face of rapes and torture. The Janjaweed have also prevented aid from getting through.
Fr. Michael Perry, the USCCB’s policy advisor on African affairs, accompanies Bishop Ricard. They are scheduled to return to the U.S. Aug. 6.
Detroit, Mich., Aug 4, 2004 (CNA) - In an unexpected effort to save the historic St. Josaphat Church in central Detroit, Adam Cardinal Maida has authorized the celebration of the traditional Latin mass on Sunday mornings, starting Oct. 3.
The mass has been celebrated in the vernacular since the end of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. Very few churches in the world still offer the pre-Vatican II mass, also known as the Tridentine mass, in which everything is recited in Latin and the priests face an altar with their backs to the congregation.
However, officials at St. Josaphat Church are hoping that Catholics will drive a long way for the Tridentine mass it will offer.
"We think there are a lot of Catholics who still want the older mass," St. Josaphat's pastor, Fr. Mark Borkowski, told The Associated Press. "We think they'll come to St. Josaphat because we will have the only, regular Tridentine mass that's authorized by the Archdiocese of Detroit."
The Tridentine mass was codified in 1570.
Alexandria, Egypt, Aug 4, 2004 (CNA) - More than 100,000 children were enrolled in healthcare coverage last year as a result of a Catholic program, called Children's Health Matters.
Children's Health Matters is a nationwide advocacy and enrollment project of Catholic Charities agencies, Catholic hospitals, and Catholic schools, which helps eligible families obtain health insurance.
The partnership works at both the national and state levels to ensure as many eligible children as possible are enrolled in Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Child Health Matters member agencies around the country use a variety of strategies, including outreach, enrollment and legislative advocacy efforts.
Since the program's inception in 1997, more than 548,000 families have been assisted in completing applications for Medicaid and SCHIP. This has resulted in 331,549 uninsured children now receiving healthcare coverage.
Other statistics from the partnership’s 2003 annual report are just as impressive.
In 2003, 155,000 families were assisted with completing applications for Medicaid or SCHIP, resulting in more than 100,000 children enrolled.
Nearly 9,000 meetings, letters, and phone calls were placed to state officials, advocating for the elimination of barriers to enrollment in the Medicaid and SCHIP program, and against state cuts to Medicaid and SCHIP funding and eligibility.
Almost 29,500 people were trained to assist families with completing applications for state Medicaid and SCHIP programs; 230 children's health insurance training sessions were held for service providers, including nurses, social workers, outreach staff.
There were more than 1,300 community education campaigns held at health fairs, parish events, school meetings, and other gatherings to raise awareness of free and low-cost health care.
Looking Glass: The Children's Health Matters 2003 Annual Report includes comprehensive state-by-state data and highlights the successful enrollment and advocacy efforts of many Catholic health facilities and Catholic Charities agencies. For a copy of the report, call 703-549-1390 ext. 147.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug 4, 2004 (CNA) - The Pro-Life Coalition of Puerto Rico has launched a campaign to urge Senators to block confirmation of Anabelle Rodriguez, a militant, ultra-feminist who has been nominated to the Puerto Rican Supreme Court.
Rodriguez was nominated by Puerto Rico Governor Sila Maria Calderon, who recently blocked a law that protected conscientious objection in the workplace—including in cases of abortion—which was passed by the legislature but is now under review for amendment.
The Coalition is calling for “letters to be sent to Senators urging them to insist that the governor sign the conscientious objection clause and to not allow Anabelle Rodriguez be the one to make decisions in the future that would adversely affect the families of Puerto Rico, because she does not represent the traditional Christian family.”
The pro-life group also explained that “a total of 32 people requested time to speak during the confirmation hearings, with only four minutes per speaker. The hearings lasted just two days—July 30 and 31—and various individuals were not given time to speak.”
Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 4, 2004 (CNA) - Over two thousand Evangelical churches have thrown their full support behind Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who faces a recall vote by referendum on August 15.
Chavez attended a rally called “A Million Prayers for Peace,” where thousands of Evangelicals gathered to pray and to declare victory ahead of time for the embattled leader.
Chavez took the occasion to mention Jesus in his speech. “Christ is the leader of this revolution, he is the real commander,” the president said at the Caracas Coliseum.
He thanked Evangelicals for their support in a speech that was full of biblical quotes, adding he could “identify” a lot with Evangelical worship but that he considered himself a fervent “Roman and Apostolic Catholic.”
Santiago, Chile, Aug 4, 2004 (CNA) - Rodrigo Orias, the man who murdered Fr. Faustino Gazziero in the Cathedral of Santiago last week, admitted that he traveled to the Chilean capital from the city of Coyaique with the intention of killing a priest or a religious, as part of the Satanic worship he practiced, but he denied having chosen his victim beforehand.
Fr. Nicolas Vial, chaplain of the prison hospital where Orias is being held, said, “What was clear to me, very clear, was that he did not come to murder Father Gazziero. He came because he felt something, call it something interior, in his heart, a voice, a force, telling him to commit this act, because he has said that he is connected with the Satanic world.”
He added that the young man appeared to be calm and even allowed him to pray with him and bless him.
Orias asked his parents to be calm and to live a normal life in Coyaique, because he is an adult and does not want them to suffer because of his actions. He is expected to be arraigned on murder charges.