Archive of September 6, 2004

Marriage is only between a man and a woman, Pope says to Canadians

Vatican City, Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking on Saturday to Canada's new ambassador to the Holy See, Donald Smith, Pope John Paul II insisted - in the light of recent developments in Canadian marriage law in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage - on the "necessary complementarity" of men and women in the institution of marriage for the survival of culture and society.

The Pope began his speech by recalling his visits to Canada, "especially the joyous occasion of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto," and noted "Canada's generous and practical contributions to the building of a world of peace, justice and prosperity” such as “involvement in peace-keeping missions and the production of low-cost medicines for poorer nations" which are “widely recognized by the international community.”

“Indeed, solidarity with developing nations…spring from values and convictions which have shaped Canadian society throughout its history and upon which all authentic social progress depends," said the Holy Father.

The Pope praised "Canada's openness to migration” which brings “increasing diversity and a great richness to your culture, fostering mutual accommodation and respect between ethnic groups,” as an illustration for other nations “that the respect due to every person is rooted in the common origin of all men and women, rather than in the fact of differences between peoples.”

He then pointed out that “ it is this sublime and fundamental truth concerning the human person - created male and female in the image and likeness of God - which constitutes the immutable basis for all other anthropological truths."

Turning to the marriage question, John Paul II said that "for generations Canadians have recognized and celebrated the place of marriage at the heart of your society. ... The institution of marriage necessarily entails the complementarity of husbands and wives who participate in God's creative activity through the raising of children.

“Spouses thereby ensure the survival of society and culture, and rightly deserve specific and categorical legal recognition by the State,” he continued. “Any attempts to change the meaning of the word "spouse" contradict right reason: legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, cannot be applied to unions between persons of the same sex without creating a false understanding of the nature of marriage."

The Pope closed by expressing confidence that "the splendid vision of supportive and stable family life, so dear to the people of Canada, will continue to offer to society the foundation upon which the aspirations of your nation can be built." He highlighted the Catholic Church's role in assisting "in upholding the essential social foundations of civic life" and in forming youth, "especially through her schools, and her social apostolate."

Read the full Pope’s message:

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Archbishop Burke to clarify stance on Communion in upcoming pastoral letter

St. Louis, Mo., Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis is set to release a new pastoral letter, clarifying his stance about denying Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion and Catholics who vote for them.

In June, Archbishop Burke had said Catholics who vote for pro-abortion politicians were committing a grave sin and must confess before receiving Communion.

He had told the Post-Dispatch that "it doesn't make a lot of difference" why a Catholic votes for a pro-abortion politician. "If the voter is aware of that politician's pro-abortion position, they would still be supporting someone, who is cooperating in the promotion of abortion," he said.

But in an interview Thursday, Archbishop Burke told the Post-Dispatch that while he has not changed his position, he said he felt he had to clarify.

The archbishop told a reporter that he believes Catholics could vote for a politician who supports abortion rights as long as that's not the reason they are voting for the candidate, and they believe the politician's stance on other moral issues outweighs the abortion issue.

"That is called remote material cooperation and if the reasons are really proportionate, and the person remains clear about his or her opposition to abortion, that can be done," the archbishop told the Post-Dispatch.

"The sticking point is this - and this is the hard part," Archbishop Burke was quoted as saying. "What is a proportionate reason to justify favoring the taking of an innocent, defenseless human life? And I just leave that to you as a question. That's the question that has to be answered in your conscience. What is the proportionate reason?

One of the reasons the bishop did not discuss this point in June is because "it is difficult to imagine what that proportionate reason would be," he said.

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Pope hopes "spiral of hatred and violence" will not prevail after Russian crisis

Vatican City, Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - In a telegram sent in his name on Saturday Septemer 4 to Archbishop Antonio Mennini, representative of the Holy See in the Russian Federation, Pope John Paul II expressed his “spiritual closeness” to the families of the victims - many of whom were children - of the terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, Russia, and his hope for an end to “the spiral of hatred and violence.”

"Upon receiving the news of the bloody epilogue after the ferocious hostage situation in North Ossetia, with vile and merciless aggression against defenseless children and families, the Supreme Pontiff asks Your Excellency to convey his affection to the Russian people in this hour of dismay and sorrow,” read the telegram.

“While expressing his spiritual closeness especially to the families of the dead and wounded the Holy Father entrusts the innocent victims of this tragedy to the mercy of the Almighty, and prays for their eternal repose.”

“Once again His Holiness condemns every form of terrorism and hopes the spiral of hatred and violence does not prevail and at the same time he implores Our Lady, so venerated by Christians in Russia, to inspire in the hearts of everyone thoughts of wisdom and resolutions for peace and reconciliation.  He invokes on all those who have been tried by this savage attack, the comforting blessing of God almighty.”

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Pending abuse trial may trigger bankruptcy decision in Tucson diocese

Tucson, Ariz., Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson must decide whether to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the diocese by the end of the month, before a series of potentially expensive lawsuits are scheduled begin sitting before a court.

The $14-million settlement, which the diocese had reached with 10 men who said they were abused by four clergy in 2002, has left the diocese "financially strapped," the bishop said in his weekly letter to the faithful last week.

"I have said many times that settlement is my hope, interest, preference and desire, but I cannot and will not put the diocese into an even worse position than we are in now," said Bishop Kicanas, who only arrived as the new bishop of Tucson after the 2002 settlement.

"As the steward of our diocese and for the good of our parishes, I cannot agree to a settlement that would strip the diocese of everything, especially because we believe it is very likely that more cases could be filed and that more victims could come forward seeking counseling assistance," Bishop Kicanas wrote.

Though it might delay the cases to be heard Sept. 29, bankruptcy would allow the diocese to continue operating. It would also ensure that all claims - current and future - are treated equally.

However, the diocese may choose to abandon the settlement and bankruptcy avenues altogether and risk going to trial.

One of the 21 civil lawsuits pending against the diocese and scheduled to go to court Sept. 29 was filed by Anita Rodriguez, her husband and three of her sons for abuse allegedly committed by Fr. Juan Guillen, reported the Arizona Daily Star.

In August 2002, the priest was arrested on 12 felony charges of sexually abuse and sent to prison after pleading guilty to the attempted molestation of two boys, including one of Rodriguez's sons.

Bishop Kicanas has written a letter to the Rodriguez family and has publicly apologized for past abuse by the diocese's priests.

Rodriguez's attorneys have been trying to reach a settlement with the diocese, though nothing has been settled yet.

The diocese is in the process of permanently removing Guillen from the priesthood and has put his name on a public list of 28 priests who have served since 1950 and who have "credible" allegations of sexually abusing children against them.

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Pope tells European youth to not be afraid of witnessing to Christ

Vatican City, Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - In Loreto on Saturday, during a gathering of prayer and celebration, more than 15,000 young people listened to a recorded greeting by Pope John Paul II in which he exhorted them to “be witnesses of Christ” in order to permeate European culture with the Gospel, a mission that requires fidelity, coherence and courage to “the point of the heroism of sanctity.”

The greeting was recorded for the group of young people who on September 2 presented "The Letter of the Christian Youth of Europe" to him in Castelgandolfo, an idea born during the August 5 to 8 European youth pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain on the occasion of the Holy Year of St. James.

"Be witnesses of Christ in order to build a Europe of hope,” said the Pope. “This is the message that you want to present to your peers and to the entire European community of today.  The dream that you carry in your heart is that of a Europe which is proud of its rich cultural and religious heritage and attentive at the same time to the values of humanity and life, solidarity and acceptance, justice and peace."

"You are not embarrassed of the Gospel," continues the Holy Father, "and you are conscious that the civilization of love is not built by separating the Gospel and culture, but by looking for an ever-new synthesis between the two."

"In order to carry out your mission," he concludes, "fidelity to Christ and to His Church, coherence and courage to the point of the heroism of sanctity is necessary.  It is the path that the saints of Europe took in centuries past. May their witness be a stimulus for each one of you, beloved young people who are following me by radio and television."

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Pope to lay people: Holiness is greatest gift to Church and world

Vatican City, Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - During the celebration of  a Mass on Sunday September 5 in Loreto in which he beatified the Servants of God and members of Catholic Action Fr. Pedro (Pere) Tarres i Claret (1905-1950), Alberto Marvelli (1918-1946), and Pina Surian (1915-1950), lay persons, Pope John Paul II affirmed that “holiness is the greatest gift you can give to the Church and to the world.”

“To adhere to Christ is a ‘demanding choice,’” the Pope told the crowd of 250,000 in his homily. “It is not by chance that Jesus speaks of the 'cross.'  He immediately clarifies himself: 'follow me.'  This is the great message: we are not alone in carrying the cross.  He walks in front of us, opening up the way with the light of His example and with the strength of His love."

Through the beatification of these three servants of God, said the Holy Father, addressing all the members of Catholic Action,  the Lord "says to you that holiness is the greatest gift you can give to the Church and to the world.”

“May the Church's concern be your concern as well: that many men and women of our time may be overcome by Christ's attraction; that His Gospel may shine once again like a light of hope for the poor, sick and those who hunger for justice; may Christian communities be ever-more lively, open and attractive; may our cities be hospitable and liveable for all; may humanity be able to follow the ways of peace and fraternity," said the Pope.

Addressing all laypeople, he said "It is the responsibility of you, lay people, to bear witness to the faith through the virtues which are more specific to your state in life: fidelity and tenderness in family, competence in work, tenacity in serving the common good, solidarity in social relations, creativity in undertaking works that are useful to evangelization and human promotion.”

“It is up to you also to show, in close communion with pastors, that the Gospel is timely, and that faith does not remove the believer from history, but submerges him more profoundly in it," the Holy Father said in conclusion.

The new Blessed

“The three new blesseds became humble disciples and heroic witnesses through Jesus' cross,” read the Pope’s homily.  “Pedro Tarres i Claret, first a doctor and then a priest, dedicated himself to the lay apostolate of the young people of Catholic Action in Barcelona. In exercising the medical profession, he gave himself with special solicitude to the poorest of the sick. ... He accepted with faith and heroic patience a horrible illness which lead to his death at the young age of 45.  Despite his suffering, he used to repeat frequently: 'How good the Lord is to me! I am truly happy'."

"Alberto Marvelli, strong and free-spirited young person, generous son of the Church of Rimini and of Catholic Action, thought of his short life of 28 years as a gift of love to Jesus for the good of his brothers and sisters.  ... He made the daily Eucharist the center of his life. In prayer he sought inspiration for his political commitment, as he was convinced of the need to fully live as children of God in history, to make history a history of salvation."

As a girl, Blessed Pina Suriano of the diocese of Monreale, "was close to the Young Women of Catholic Action which she later served as parish leader, finding in the association an important stimulus for human and cultural growth in an intense climate of fraternal friendship.  Little by little, she matured the simple and firm will of giving her young life to God as an offering of love, especially for the sanctification and perseverance of priests."

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Pope gives three "assignments" to laity: contemplation, communion, mission

Vatican City, Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - At the end of the Angelus prayer after celebrating Mass in Loreto with 250,000 faithful, mostly members of the lay movement Catholic Action, in which he beatified three Servants of God and members of Catholic Action Fr. Pedro Tarres i Claret, Alberto Marvelli, and Pina Surian, Pope John Paul II entrusted three “assignments” to the Church’s laity.

"The first,” he said, "is 'contemplation': commit yourselves to walking on the path of holiness with your eyes fixed on Jesus, the one Master and Savior of the World.

"The second is 'communion': seek to promote the spirituality of unity with the pastors of the Church, with all your brothers in the faith and with other ecclesial groups. Be leaven of dialogue with all men and women of good will.”

“The third assignment is 'mission': As lay people, bring the leaven of the Gospel into homes and schools, into places of work and of recreation. The Gospel is the word of hope for the world," said the Pope.

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Catholic Charities seeks foster families for resettling teen refugees

, Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - That’s what Catholic Charities in San Jose ( is seeking for the first-ever program in California that will train couples to serve as foster parents to young refugees, coming alone to the United States.

“This is a concrete, hands-on way to put your faith into action,” Sr. Marilyn Lacey, director of refugee services at Catholic Charities, told Mercury News.

Catholic Charities is one of only two social service agencies, licensed by the U.S. government, to help resettle refugee minors through a federally funded program, called Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Project.

The program has been operating in a number of cities across the country since 1979, but it has only just begun in the state of California.

Over the years, children from war-torn and destitute countries have been matched with adoptive families in the U.S.

Families help the teens start their new lives and care for them until they are 18 years old. They receive a monthly stipend of about $750 and are supported of a team of social workers, teachers and doctors.

This support is vital since many of these youth have a difficult time in school and adjusting to the way of life here. Many have also been marked by the war and violence they witnessed in their home countries.

In recent weeks, coordinators of the San Jose program held informational sessions with potential foster parents. Two more sessions are scheduled next month. Coordinators hope to attract about 10 to 20 families.

For more information, contact your local Catholic Charities:

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Bishop denounces destruction of the religious culture in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - Addressing thousands of faithful together with political leaders gathered in the Cathedral of Palencia, Spain, to celebrate its patron saint, St. Antolin, Bishop Rafael Palmero of Palencia denounced the “pulverization of religious culture” in Spain by the socialist government.

During his homily Bishop Palmero said, “The Catholic Church in Europe today is concerned, since this pulverization is occurring in Spain as well with the socialist government.”

“To all this must be added the increasing lack of belief among women, who have always been the ones to hand on the faith in the family,” he said.

Referring to the current moral crisis in the country, the bishop also said, “The resurgence of new religious movements and the sirens of secularization are alarming.”  In the midst of this situation, Bishop Palmero pointed to signs of hope, such as the presence and action of the Church in the American continent.   “America is the continent of hope for Catholicism,” he added.

During his homily, Bishop Palmero encouraged the faithful to follow in the footsteps of the patron saint.  “St. Antolin gave an example with his life of constant witness to the faith he professed.  He knew how to do it, sealing his preaching and his witness with his own blood,” he said.

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New monastic community assumes care of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome

Rome, Italy, Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - A new monastic community called the Fraternity of Jesus has replaced the Benedictines as the caretakers of the Roman basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, and they announced their goal to return the church its splendor as one of the most symbolic edifices of worldwide Catholicism.

According to Vatican observer Sandro Magister, the basilica of St. Paul, which is the second largest in world behind St. Peter’s, had lost its importance and prestige.

“The Benedictine monks that worked there numbered less than a dozen, were mostly elderly, and were all very tired.  Masses were barley attended, and the territory surrounding the church was poorly maintained and annexed by neighboring parishes,” said Magister.

Magister said the Holy See had decided that in order to revitalize the basilica it was urgent to replace the monks, and the community that was chosen is new and young with many vocations.

The Fraternity of Jesus was established on an 8-acre piece of land in Rome, with a tower and a few old cabins.  They do not have an abbey or a convent, their church is a large tent and their cells are pre-fabricated houses used to help victims during the 1976 earthquake that rocked Friuli.

According to Magister, “the stamp of St. Benedict and St. Bernard, the fathers of western monasticism,” is evident in this community.  As in Clarveaux, and in all the great medieval abbeys, these new monks cultivate the land.”

The founder and abbot of this new monastic family is Tarcisio Maria Benvenuti, 58, who came to Italy as a refugee from Istria (ex-Yugoslavia).  He was ordained in Trieste and founded the new community in 1972, and in 1985 the community moved to Lanuvio.

Magister explained that the new monks have embraced the Benedictine motto “ora et labora.”  “They have community prayer at night and they begin to work the fields early in the morning, with the help of local farmers, young people from a nearby rehabilitation center, and guests of the monastery.”

Magister says this community has the support of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Cristoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, and Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

In addition to caring for St. Paul Outside the Walls, the monks of the Fraternity will soon assume responsibility for an important church in Rome, San Saba all’Aventino, currently under the care of the Jesuits.

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Argentinean Cardinal says social reconciliation begins with God

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 6, 2004 (CNA) - During a Mass for the National Eucharistic Congress in Argentina, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, called on Argentineans last week to “open wide our hearts” and “be reconciled with our Father God.”

During the celebration, the Cardinal exhorted the faithful, “Open your hearts, keeping your eyes on the Blessed Virgin and feeling the presence of Jesus in Eucharist, who has silently accompanied humanity during two thousand years.”

“Let us also open the hearts of our families, and feel the heartbeat of parents, spouses and young people, children and grandparents.  Let us open our hearts as the faithful people of God on pilgrimage in Argentina under the mantel of the Virgin Mary of Itati,” the Cardinal added.

“Be reconciled with God, with yourself and with your brothers and sisters!” the Cardinal explained, saying, “The Eucharist is the bread of reconciliation which penetrates the deepest corners of our hearts.  And it nourishes and reconciles that interior place where a person is himself, and more than himself, because it is the dwelling place of God, where each heart is the heart of his entire family and his entire people.”

“A few hearts like this, which allow themselves to be fully reconciled, are enough, so that reconciliation might spread among all people.”

“Rebellious and prodigal people, people that have suffered at the hands of robbers, people with a strong spiritual reserve, be reconciled with God!” he said.  The Cardinal concluded entrusting “this reconciliation which transforms the heart of individuals and peoples” to Mary of Itati.  “She invites you…Be reconciled with God,” he concluded.

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