Archive of August 26, 2004

Pope releases message for WYD 2005, calls young people to be courageous witnesses

Vatican City, Aug 26, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy See Press Office released today Pope John Paul II’s message to youth for World Youth Day 2005, which will be held in Cologne, Germany, next August.

The Pontifical Council for the Laity said the message was published one year in advance in order to be used in the pastoral preparation in the dioceses of the world.

The Holy Father’s message develops the theme chosen for WYD in Cologne "We have come to worship him" (Mt 2:2), pointing out that it "enables young people from every continent to follow in spirit the path taken by the Magi whose relics, according to a pious tradition, are venerated in this very city, and to meet, as they did, the Messiah of all nations".

The Holy Father brings to light the interior attitude of adoration that the Magi exhibited which teaches us that by "faithfully pursuing the path of our Redeemer from the poverty of the Crib to His abandonment on the Cross, we can better understand the mystery of His love which redeems humanity".

He points to the contiunuation of this mystery of love each day in the sacrament of the Eucharist where we “acknowledge Him as our Creator, our only Lord and Saviour.”

Pope John Paul II then urges young people to reject idolatry in all its forms in their lives, pointing particularly to “the seduction of wealth, consumerism and the subtle violence sometimes used by the mass media.”

“ Worshipping the true God is an authentic act of resistance to all forms of idolatry,” affirms the Pope, and he goes on to emphasize that we are all called to holiness and to be witnesses to the Risen Lord.

He invites young people to respond generously to God’s call and not to be afraid of making "courageous choices, to take what are sometimes heroic decisions", for it is God who "calls some to give up everything to follow Him in the priestly or consecrated life".

As they go deeper into the theme of adoration during this year of preparation for WYD in Cologne, the young people can have a more intensive experience of the Year of the Eucharist that Pope John Paul II has proclaimed for the whole Church (October 2004-2005).

Read the Holy Father’s Message to the youth of the world for WYD2005 at:

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Pastoral zeal and spiritual health of Pope as strong as ever

Madrid, Spain, Aug 26, 2004 (CNA) - The ex-Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo, said this week the mental and spiritual health, as well as the pastoral zeal of Pope John Paul II, are just as vigorous as they were 20 years ago.

The Pope is “dependent on a moving chair and on others for his mobility, but in terms of his ideas, his feelings, his mental clarity, and his pastoral zeal, he is just as he was 20 years ago,” said the Cardinal.

“His decline is physical but in no way spiritual, mental or pastoral,” he added.

Cardinal Somalo said the Pope will make his planned trip to Loreto in September, where he will beatify “four members of Catholic Action, one of which was from Catalonia” in Spain.  “At the moment I don’t think there are any other trips planned but I say so with much reservation because we are used to being greatly surprised by the Holy Father.”

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Pope expresses sorrow at deaths in Russia’s double-air disaster

Vatican City, Aug 26, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II expressed his grief over the double-air disaster, which took place in Russia Aug. 24 and left 98 dead, in a telegram that was sent to the apostolic nuncio in Moscow yesterday.

The two planes left Moscow airport Tuesday morning and both dropped off the radar at around the same time. One plane crashed 200 km south of Moscow in the region of Tula; the other plane came down 800-km further south, near Rostov-on-Don. Russian authorities have issued an investigation. The possibility of terrorism has not been ruled out entirely.

Angelo Cardinal Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, sent the telegram on the pontiff’s behalf.

In it, the Pope charges the nuncio, Bishop Antonio Mennini, with expressing his “sentiments of great sorrow” to the Russian authorities and to the families of the victims.

The Pope said he is praying for the deceased and that “God will comfort those who suffer this great loss of their loved ones.”

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New voter guide for Catholics an alternative for USCCB guide

Washington D.C., Aug 26, 2004 (CNA) - In the wake of controversy surrounding a presidential candidate questionnaire, produced by the lay staff of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, many Catholics have embraced an alternative voting guide, issued by a Catholic apologetics organization.

Though the USCCB has discouraged use of this new guide, more than one million copies are in circulation and at least one major archdiocese has distributed it, says the publisher.

The Culture of Life Foundation issued a report in its publication Culture & Cosmos about the new 10-page "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics."

The booklet is produced by Catholic Answers, a lay apostolate based in San Diego, whose mission is to defend Catholic teaching.

Citing papal and Vatican documents, "Voter's Guide" identifies five issues it calls "non-negotiable": abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning and same-sex marriage. Supporting any of these issues, according to the guide, would disqualify a political candidate as a viable option for a faithful Catholic.

Frank Norris, Catholic Answers director of development, told Culture & Cosmos that more than one million guides are in distribution. Norris estimates that by Election Day in November, between two million and five million copies will have been distributed.

The guide is being distributed by the St. Louis Archdiocese and two other dioceses are now considering it, reported Norris. He said more than 1,000 individuals have requested copies.

In addition, the booklet might soon receive an imprimatur from the bishop of San Diego, said Norris. An imprimatur is official guidance from a bishop that the information is free from doctrinal error. Even so, the booklet has faced resistance and even disapproval from the legal staff of the USCCB.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis asked the USCCB if the guide could be distributed in the archdiocese and the USCCB said it preferred not, reported William Fallon, the archdiocese's chancellor. The bishops’ conference said it preferred that its own guide, "Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility," be distributed.

Some critics charge that "Faithful Citizenship," has minimized the importance of abortion in Catholic social teaching.

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Diocese hopeful that masses for abuse victims will bring healing

, Aug 26, 2004 (CNA) - Staff of the Arlington Diocese are hopeful that a series of healing masses this fall for victims of sexual abuse will continue the healing and reconciliation process that started June 30, when Bishop Paul S. Loverde celebrated the first such mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More.

"The wounds from sexual abuse are deep and devastating," Patricia Mudd, victim assistance coordinator for the diocese, told the Herald. "We must come together to pray for victims of abuse, their families and the entire Catholic community.”

Mudd is responsible for recording the basic information when a call comes in on the diocesan hotline from someone that has suffered sexual abuse, and she determines the direction the case should take. If it involves the abuse of a child, she is required by law to report it to state authorities.

Accusations are then turned over to Oblate Father Mark S. Mealey, moderator of the curia, who gathers additional information to present to the Diocesan Review Board.

"We do invite victims to come forward and report to us," said the professional social-service worker, who has dealt with many cases of violence and abuse in her 31-year career. "They might not be ready now, but the door is always open for them and their families. Bishop Loverde has also asked me to express his sorrow and willingness to meet with victims to offer spiritual assistance toward their healing."

The diocese will consider paying for counseling, said Mudd, who is finalizing a list of qualified therapists and pastoral counselors to whom she can refer victims.

The first healing mass will be at St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax Station held Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. Other masses will be offered at All Saints Church in Manassas Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m., and at St. Mary Church in Fredericksburg Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

For more information, consult the diocesan Web site:

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John Paul II saddened by disappearance of Spanish cardinal

Vatican City, Aug 26, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul issued a telegram, expressing his sorrow over the death of a Spanish cardinal. Marcelo Cardinal González Martín, archbishop emeritus of Toledo, died during the evening of Aug. 25. The Pope sent his message to the current archbishop of Toledo, Antonio Cañizares Llovera.

The Pope’s telegram reads:

Upon hearing the sad news of the death of of Mons. Marcelo Cardinal González Martín, archbishop emeritus of Toledo, I offer my fervent prayers united with the faithful of that diocesan community and with the faithful of Astorga and Barcelona where he previously excercized his episcopal ministry with solicitude, asking God to grant eternal rest to he who for many years was His diligent pastor.

Remembering his sacrificial pastoral action which distiguished him in his episcopal ministry in this nation, his work on the application of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the renovation of the Church in fidelity to Christ and the Successor of Peter, as well as his labour of dialogue and communion at the ecclesial level, I express my deep feelings of sorrow to Monsignor Cardinal Francisco Alvarez Martinez, to the clergy, religious communities, and faithful of this dear diocese, and also to his relatives, and I sincerely impart the consoling Apostolic Blessing, as a sign of Christian faith and hope in the Risen Christ.

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Church emerging from ashes in Belarus, signs of hope strong

, Aug 26, 2004 (CNA) - Officials of Aid to the Church in Need (CAN) are hopeful for the Catholic Church in Belarus, where many signs of life are sprouting. “The Catholic Church in Belarus is coming out of the ashes of communism,” said Antonia Willemsen, the organization’s secretary general, Aug. 23 after a visit to the East European country.

Churches are being built and the seminaries are filling up. There are there are currently 27 Belorussian seminarians at the cardinal’s seminary in Pinsk, and 15 other candidates entering for the new academic year, reported Marko Tomashek, head of ACN’s East Europe III section.

“People are creative and thanks to the great commitment of bishops and priests, numerous parish churches are being built now,” said Willemsen, whose organization helps fund pastoral projects. In 2003, ACN gave more than 540.000 Euro for projects in Belarus.

However, Belarus is not without its problems. “Still there are demanding and confusing bureaucratic procedures for obtaining permission to build churches,” said Willemsen. “This makes it difficult for the Church to develop its plans. Corruption, bribery and the still existing command economy are enormous obstacles for private businesses as well,” she explained.

In addition, foreign missionaries continue to run into difficulty in obtaining visas from the Belorussian authorities, admitted Tomashek.

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Archbishop says Church ready to play role in reconciliation of Venezuelans

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 26, 2004 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Baltazar Porras, is again calling for reconciliation among all Venezuelans, saying the Church is ready and willing to help.

Speaking on Venezuelan radio, the Archbishop of Merida said, “The Church is ready to mediate a possible dialogue between the government and the opposition.”

Although he emphasized the importance of establishing a clear agenda, he said it was the government’s responsibility to propose one and to provide an atmosphere for it to take place.

In addition, he said it was vital that “doubts concerning election fraud be cleared up.  All of the doubts should disappear, because this is a political problem provoking confrontation.”

Archbishop Porras insisted that authorities address concerns about the results of the referendum and he reiterated that “the Church will facilitate the establishing of a dialogue.” 

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Beatification cause of young Chilean engineer moving ahead

Santiago, Chile, Aug 26, 2004 (CNA) - Mario Hiriart was a young Chilean professional who dedicated his life to the works of the apostolate.  He could be raised to the altars if his cause for beatification passes the first phase scheduled to begin on September 8.

Hiriart was born in Santiago in 1931 and raised by virtuous, but not particularly religious, parents.  Towards the end of his schooling he joined Catholic Action and at 17 become one of the founders of the Schoenstatt Movement in Chile.

He decided to major in engineering and after earning his degree, he worked with companies in the economic development of Chile, a job which eventually gave up to become a professor of engineering at the Catholic University in Santiago.

He was mentored by the Schoenstatt founder, Fr. Jose Kentenich, who discerned in the young man a vocation to the consecrated life as a member of the Secular Institute of the Brothers of Mary.

According to those promoting his cause, Mario lived “his apostolate by performing his daily duties well, spending time with students and young married couples and giving them counsel, and motivating many young people to be leaders in the building of a Christian order in society and in public service.”

At 27, he wrote in his personal diary, “I want to be a saint, a saint of daily life, an unknown and nameless saint, only for God!  I hope to be the unknown saint.”

At 33 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which took his life in matter of weeks.  He offered all of his suffering for the return of Fr. Kentenich, who was forced to leave Chile and go to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Hiriart was visiting Fr. Kentenich there when he died on July 15, 1964.  He is buried in the Schoenstatt Shrine in Bellavista, Chile.

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