Archive of August 16, 2004

No need for papal visit to Russia: Orthodox patriarch

Moscow, Russia, Aug 16, 2004 (CNA) - Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II told President Vladimir Putin Friday that Pope John Paul II is not welcome in Russia, reported The Associated Press.

The patriarch repeated that the icon the pontiff had hoped to return to Russia personally is only one of the many copies of a revered 16th-century work.

"For that reason there is no need for the pope himself to bring it," the patriarch reportedly said.

The Vatican icon – known as the Mother of God of Kazan – will be turned over to the Russian Orthodox Church at the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Kremlin Aug. 28, Itar-Tass reported.

The Russian Orthodox Church had said last year that the icon is a copy and could "under no circumstances be considered a reason" for a visit by the Pope. An agreement was made for a Vatican delegation to bring it instead. Two cardinals will reportedly give the icon to the Kremlin cathedral at the end of the month.  

Pope John Paul had been hoping to return the icon himself and become the first pontiff to visit Russia, but tense relations with the Russian Orthodox Church have prevented such a trip.

The icon, which first appeared in the city of Kazan in 1579, is believed to work miracles. It is attributed with the defeat of Polish invaders from Russia in the early 17th century. It hung in the Kazan Cathedral on Red Square and the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg before being taken to the West after the 1917 Revolution, without any real trace.

The Vatican copy was purchased in the 1970s by a Catholic group that later presented it to the Pope.

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Vatican offers to mediate in Najaf

Vatican City, Aug 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican has offered to mediate between the Iraqi and American troops and the fundamentalist supporters of Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who have been fighting in the Iraqi city of Najaf since August 5.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano has said that the Pope has never declined a request to act as a mediator.

“For their part,” he said “(Iraqis) have to give up the use of violence because these killings have really been a dishonour to this noble people.”

Sodano also said all forces should "respect the holy character of the city. Therefore, the appeal that I make in the name of the pope is that there is a return in any case to honest talks".

The cleric’s representative in the city of Nasiriyah, in the south of Iraq, Aws al-Khafaji, told Italian news that the city’s provisional council had asked the Vatican to send an envoy to help resolve the conflict in Najaf. They have also asked the Italian government to send a team to help with the negotiations.

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Filipino bishop supports Vatican document on collaboration of men and women against its critics

Manila, Philippines, Aug 16, 2004 (CNA) - Mgr. Oscar Cruz, Bishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, expressed his support for the “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world”, recently released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in response to the criticisms of Filipino feminists.

“Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter is a whole document and it will be unfair only to get one or two citations and then dwell on that,” said the bishop, responding to claims like the one made by Congresswoman Ana Theresita Hontiveros-Baraquel, who censured the document for “its culpable marginalisation of feminism.”

“Men and women are complementary in constitution, biological functions and character traits,” he added. “There are things that women have that men do not possess and vice-versa, as complementary creatures one without the other will not work.”

The bishop said that the title of the letter itself calls for collaboration between men and women. He stressed that “only equals collaborate. There is no collaboration between someone rational and someone irrational. The entire document rests on the notion of true equality between men and women. And while machismo is a problem there is also one with its other extreme, namely feminism.”

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Why Hispanic Catholics don’t give money…

Denver, Colo., Aug 16, 2004 (CNA) - A few months ago, Bishop Jose Gomez, Auxiliary of Denver, and one of the leading voices of Hispanic Catholicism in the United States, explained why Hispanic immigrants do not contribute financially to their parishes as much as American Catholics do, even after they have reached a moderate financial situation.

Providing some historical roots, Bishop Gomez explained to a large audience of English-speaking Catholics in Northern Colorado the two very different ways in which the Catholic Church was established in Latin America and in North America.

“While the Spanish Crown provided all the means needed for the propagation of the Church – the building of parishes and the assistance to the needy in the colonies – in the U.S., Catholics had to fight their way into the American culture, a fight that required the commitment of each and every single Catholic,” the bishop explained.

As a consequence, while American Catholics developed the commitment to support their local Church as something critical for the survival of their Church, sustaining the Catholic Church was not their direct concern for Hispanics.

Besides, “Mexicans do not enroll in parishes, do not fill envelopes or send money by mail because they don’t trust the mail service, and especially poor Mexicans see the parish as a refuge more than as a place to contribute,” the bishop explained.

Also, unlike most U.S. parishes, typical parishes in Latin America hardly have budgets for personnel: the choir master, the secretary, the singers, the heads of the different ministers and even the workers who make reparations are mostly volunteers.

“Most Mexicans find it dishonorable to charge anything to the Church, so they offer their time and energy as much as they can or as much as they perceive is needed,” the auxiliary of Denver said.

“Catholic immigrants have certainly to adapt to the way parishes operate in the U.S., but in the process the local Church could gain something by assimilating part of the approach Hispanics have for lesser, more simple parish structures,” he concluded.

…And how they are learning to do it

Antoninho Tatto is a Brazilian Catholic, father of six children, who after a successful career in advertising, decided to devote all of his time to a particularly difficult ministry: promoting stewardship among Brazilians and Hispanics.

For this purpose, Tatto founded the Missionaries for Evangelization and Promotion of Communities, whose goal is to promote tithing among Latino Catholics.

Surprisingly, there is no word for “stewardship” in Spanish or Portuguese, but that has not prevented Tatto from making tithing a key concept to secure financial resources to parishes and foster the spiritual renewal of parishes in Latin America.

“Tithing has generated a tremendous sense of responsibility and, as a consequence, more generous giving and a stronger commitment to the faith and the life of the local Church,” says Bishop Miguel Irizar of Callao (Peru). Bishop Irizar is a pioneer in launching the “Campaña del Diezmo” – The Tithing Campaign – promoted by Tatto.

According to the Brazilian lay evangelist, “the dream of stewardship calls for a radical change in the way parishes and dioceses in Latin America are supported, from dependence on others to self-sufficiency, in pursuit of the Church’s evangelizing mission.”

Tatto, who has broadly translated “stewardship” for “corresponsabilidad” (co-responsibility) says the tithing campaign, which he promotes with two booklets and a crash course, is changing the way Latinos are contributing to the Catholic Church in the U.S., especially in places with a large concentration of Hispanics, such as Miami.

“When they (Latino Catholic) discover that it is not about changing their giving patterns but changing their lives, then they realize how important and how liberating it is to share with the local Church the gifts of God,” Tatto says.

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Archbishop of Paris says Papal visit to Lourdes an example for Olympic athletes

Paris, France, Aug 16, 2004 (CNA) - Just a day before Pope John Paul II arrived at the shrine of Lourdes, the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, said that together with the Olympic athletes competing in Athens, the Holy Father shows that “human dignity is not based on physical strength,” but rather on the spiritual.

“I think it is awesome that the Pope’s visit comes at the same time as the games” because the Pope “shows us that human dignity is not based on physical strength, exhaustion, money or power,” the Cardinal said.

Likewise, the Cardinal added that “during this August of 2004, marred by so many tragedies, a great multitude will come together and share in a great gesture of hope” during the Pope’s visit.

The trip to Lourdes this past weekend was John Paul’s seventh to France during his 25 years as Pope, and his second to the Marian shrine.  His first visit was in 1983, when he became the first Pope to visit Lourdes.

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Credibility of peace process depends on both sides, says Cardinal Castrillon

, Aug 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy, Colombian-born Cardinal Dario Castrillon, said the credibility of the peace process between the national government and the United Self-Defenses of Colombia (AUC) does not depend on foreign observers but on the veracity and the fulfillment of the accords agreed to by both parties.

“The credibility of the process has nothing to do with somebody who lives in Switzerland, Germany or Spain.  They are not the ones who give it credibility.  The parties involved do so by acting in accord with the truth and fulfilling the agreements which are reached,” said the Cardinal during a visit to Monteria. 

Cardinal Castrillon said the peace process between the government and rebels “is an issue of peace, an issue about which the teaching of the Church is clear.”

The country “is changing for the better at a good pace” he said, adding that he during his visit he has found the country “more peaceful” and has seen that “people feel more secure, there is more hope.”

In this sense, the Cardinal gave his support to negotiations between the AUC and the government, and he downplayed criticism by officials and representatives of international non-governmental organizations that are not involved in the peace process.

On the other hand, Cardinal Castrillon clarified that he never commented on a proposal currently under study in Congress to change the term limits on the Colombian presidency, because “that is an exclusively political issue.” 

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Catholic Charities collects funds to aid hurricane victims

, Aug 16, 2004 (CNA) - In the wake of Hurricane Charley, which has left up to 15 dead and thousands homeless in Florida this past weekend, Catholic Charities USA is collecting financial donations to help communities recover from the potential devastation brought on by the hurricane.

Donations will be used to fund local Catholic Charities agencies' emergency and long-term disaster relief efforts in areas hit by Charley.

Catholic Charities USA, which has been commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to represent the Catholic community in times of domestic disaster, responds with emergency and long-term assistance as needed.

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Judges allow teens bypass notification law, have abortion without telling parents

Denver, Colo., Aug 16, 2004 (CNA) - Pro-life supporters are upset that judges are granting girls permission to bypass a new parental-notification law and to avoid notifying their parents before having an abortion.

Colorado’s new parental-notification law orders doctors to notify a minor’s parents before performing an abortion. However, since that new law was enacted nine months ago, several girls have asked for a judge's permission to bypass that requirement. None of these girls’ requests were refused, reported The Associated Press.

The bypass-approval rate suggests that bypass requests are simply rubber-stamped by judges, Mary Spaulding Balch of the National Right to Life Committee, told the AP.

Judges deny that requests are simply rubber-stamped. They say decisions are based on an interview with girls about their knowledge of the consequences of abortion, their mental health and their family situations.

While the state does not record bypass numbers, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains says it has paired 66 girls with attorneys who volunteer their time to handle bypass cases.

Some of the girls eventually decided not to go before a judge, but none of those who did were denied their request, spokeswoman Kate Horle told the AP.

Rep. Ted Harvey (R-Highlands Ranch), who sponsored the parental-notification bill last year, said the Legislature needs to take more action in determining whether there are legitimate cases where parents should be denied their rights in knowing about their daughter’s decision to abort.

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Prisoners in Peru donate food rations to victims of freezing weather

Lima, Peru, Aug 16, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Miguel Irizar of Callao, Peru, visited inmates at the Miguel Castro Castro maximum security prison, who donated four tons of food, equaling four days worth of meals for the facility, to be distributed to the victims of freezing weather which is pounding Peru’s southern region.

The donation coincided with the “Sheltering the South” campaign organized by the Diocese of Callao, local governments, and supermarket businesses.

The donation by the inmates includes products such as rice, beans and sugar, among others.

Bishop Irizar spent a few moments with the inmates, encouraging them not to lose hope and thanking them for the gesture which was an example for all.  “Nobody should feel excluded from lending a hand to those who suffer,” he said.

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