Vatican City, Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II invited the crowd gathered at this morning’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, on the feast of the birth of the Virgin Mary, to remember children, especially "the many children in Beslan, North Ossetia, victims of a barbaric siege, who were tragically massacred."
The Holy Father recalled that the children in Beslan were at school, "a place where values are taught, which give meaning to the history, culture and civilizations of peoples: mutual respect, solidarity, justice and peace.”
“Inside those walls, however, they experienced abuse, hatred and death, the evil consequences of a cruel fanaticism and a disordered contempt of the human person," he said.
“In these moments our thoughts go to the innocent children who are victims of the violence of adults all over the world. Children forced to take up arms and taught to hate and to kill; children constrained to beg on the streets, exploited in order to make easy money, children mistreated and humiliated by the power and abuses of adults; children left on their own, deprived of the warmth of family life and a perspective of the future; children who die of hunger, children killed in so many conflicts in various parts of the world," said the Pope.
"It is a great cry of sorrow for childhood, offended in its dignity. This cannot, must not leave anyone indifferent,” said the Pope.
“At the cradle of the child Mary,” he continued, “let us remember once again the duty we all have to support and defend these fragile creatures and to build a peaceful future for all. Let us pray together," he concluded, "so that we may achieve the conditions for a serene and safe existence."
At the end of the catechesis, those gathered prayed for the children in Beslan, for the parents and friends killed with them in the school, "that God may embrace them in His mercy." They also prayed for all those held hostage in Iraq, in particular for the two young Italian volunteers, taken captive yesterday in Baghdad, "so that they are treated with respect and returned unharmed to their loved ones as soon as possible."
The faithful present during the audience were also invited to pray for justice and peace in the world, "so that the Lord may illuminate the minds of those who are subject to the evil temptation of violence and that He may open the hearts of all people to dialogue and reconciliation in order to build a future of hope and peace."
Vatican City, Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - In view of the third anniversary of September 11, 2001, Pope John Paul II strongly affirmed in a message to the participants of an inter-religious summit held in Milan from September 5-7, that conflicts and violence are not “an inevitable outcome of history” and that “peace is always possible,” even though much work and cooperation is needed to deal with the roots of violence.
The Holy Father remembered the World Day of Prayer for Peace which took place in Assisi in 1986 and brought together representatives from all religions in the world to pray together for peace in the world, and noted with joy that “the spirit of Assisi” lives on and continues to grow in numbers of participants.
The Pope recalls that in their 1993 meeting in Milan, religious leaders made an appeal to the world: "No hatred, no conflict, no war should find its incentive in religion. War cannot be motivated by religions. May words from religions always be words of peace!"
He said that over the years many people have been inspired by this call, but added that "unfortunately new conflicts have arisen, in fact, there is a widespread mentality for which conflicts among religious worlds and civilizations are considered almost an inevitable outcome of history."
"This is not the case! Peace is always possible!" But there must always be cooperation to uproot from cultures and lives the seeds of bitterness and misunderstanding, the will to prevail over one's neighbor, the arrogance of self interest and disdain for the other's identity. ... Conflict is never inevitable! And religions have a special duty to remind all men and women of this awareness. .... This is what I would call 'the spirit of Assisi'. Our world needs this spirit."
Remarking on the events of September 11 he wrote: "In a few days we will remember that terrible September 11, 2001 that brought death to the heart of the United States. Three years have passed since that day but unfortunately, terrorism seems to increase its threats of destruction.
In terms of dealing with terrorism, the Pope said that “there is no doubt that this calls for firmness and decision in fighting the workers of death. At the same time everything possible must be done to uproot the causes of terror: especially misery, desperation and the emptiness in hearts."
"The world needs peace. Every day we hear news of violence, terrorist attacks, military operations. Is the world abandoning the hope of achieving peace?"
John Paul II asks everyone "not to give in to the logic of violence, vendettas and hatred, but rather to persevere in dialogue. The mortal chain that imprisons and bloodies so much of the world must be broken. Believers of all religions can do much to put an end to this."
"Violence begets violence," the Pope concludes. "War must always be considered a defeat: a defeat of reason and of humanity. May men soon make a spiritual and cultural leap forward to outlaw war! Yes, never again war!"
, Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II has appointed Costa-Rican born Monsignor Alexander Salazar, Vice-Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Church, as Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles. He was also assigned the Titular See of Nesqually.
Alexander Salazar was born November 28, 1949, in San Jose, Costa Rica. His family came to the United States in 1953 and settled in Los Angeles. He became a U.S. citizen at the age of 18.
After attending elementary and high school in Los Angeles, Alexander Salazar studied at California State University, Los Angeles, and later at Immaculate Heart College, Los Angeles, where in 1978 he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Bi-Lingual Studies.
Upon completion of college, he taught at St. Albert the Great school in Compton, California, from 1968 to 1979. He also worked as bookkeeper for St. Albert the Great parish. In 1977, the then Mr. Salazar entered St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo as a pre-candidate for philosophy studies, and in 1980 began his studies in theology. Ordained a priest June 16, 1984, he was named a Chaplain of Honor to His Holiness on August 9, 2003.
Bishop-designate Salazar has served in a number of pastoral and archdiocesan assignments. He served at St. Gregory the Great parish, Whittier, Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish, Pasadena, and at St. Vibiana Cathedral, Los Angeles. He was named temporary Administrator of St. Teresa of Avila in 1994 and became pastor in 1995. In 2003, Msgr. Salazar was appointed Vice-Chancellor while continuing as pastor of St. Teresa of Avila.
Washington D.C., Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - Three Catholic leaders, including Catholic medical doctors and a USCCB official, are urging Congress to maintain “conscience-protection” language in current legislation, which would will allow Catholic health care facilities to continue refraining from providing abortions.
The full House will soon take up the Labor/HHS appropriations bill for the upcoming fiscal year and these Catholic leaders fear that there may be an effort to strike the conscience-protection language that is now part of that bill’s Hyde Amendment on abortion funding.
“We urge you to oppose any effort to strike it,” they said in the letter. “This additional language is urgently needed to counteract a nationwide effort to attack the conscience rights of religious and other health care providers.”
As examples of the need for such protection language, the Catholic leaders cited hospitals in Alaska, New Jersey, and New Mexico, which were discriminated against because of their pro-life policies.
“An Alaska court forced a community hospital to provide elective late-term abortions, contrary to its policy and the sentiment of the community,” read the letter.
“In New Jersey, abortion advocacy groups even urged the state of New Jersey to require a Catholic health system to build an abortion clinic on its premises, to serve what they see as a right of ‘access’ to abortion.
“This year, the State of New Mexico refused to approve a hospital lease because the community-owned hospital (following the same policy as over 80 percent of hospitals in the United States) declined to perform elective abortions,” they said.
In the Alaska case, the Catholic leaders pointed out that the court “partly premised its decision on the argument that because the hospital received federal funds (Medicare and Medicaid), it had become a ‘quasi-public’ actor with an obligation to further what the court saw as government’s goal of advancing abortion.”
The letter was delivered to House members yesterday. It is signed by Msgr. William P. Fay, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Fr. Michael D. Place, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States; and Dr. John D. Lane, president of the Catholic Medical Association.
, Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - Renato Cardinal Martino, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has joined the Episcopal Board of Priests for Life. The cardinal, who agrees that Catholics should not vote for politicians who support abortion, has had a long-standing relationship with the pro-life organization.
"I was privileged to get to know [Cardinal Martino] when he served as the Holy Father's representative at the United Nations and I was serving at the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family,” Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, explained in his weekly letter.
“When we opened our new headquarters, he honored us by coming to bless our building,” said Fr. Pavone. “We have always had the benefit of his wise counsel and long experience."
In an interview with Priests for Life in May, the cardinal commented on Catholics’ participation in politics, saying that Catholics cannot vote for politicians who support abortion.
“A Catholic or anyone with a well formed conscience, a well formed understanding of right and wrong; good and evil can never vote for a political program or law 'which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals',” said Cardinal Martino.
Referring to St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, the cardinal said “a Catholic politician or a Catholic voter cannot separate himself or herself from his or her moral responsibility.
“You cannot choose when and where to be Catholic and that includes political life and voter responsibility,” said the cardinal, who was the 2002 recipient of the National Right to Life Committee's Proudly Pro-life Award.
The cardinal also spoke about the Church’s role in politics, saying: "The Church must always take up the prophetic role and be ready and willing to comment in the political sphere whenever and wherever the necessity arises.
“The Church teaches that we must be involved in the political life around us,” he added. “We must call upon our governments to promote and protect our lives and provide us with peace, justice and security.”
Rome, Italy, Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - In a column published this Wednesday, Vatican observer Sandro Magister says many Catholic leaders are suffering from a dangerous “lack of direction” regarding the challenge of fanatical Islam.
In his weekly column published by “L’Espresso”, Magister warns that “the top officials of the Church” were silent in the immediate days following the massacre of innocent children in Belsan, Russia.
Citing Vatican and Italian Bishops Conference’s media, Magister points out that in their reaction “there has been a curious obscuring of the enemy –Islamic terrorism—and an alarming silence regarding the religious faith of those murdered.”
In fact, Magister recalls that Osetia, the Russian region where the tragedy of Belsan took place, with its 700,000 Orthodox inhabitants, is the only Christian enclave in the Caucasus region of Russia.
Magister criticized the editorials of the official Italian Catholic daily “Avvenire,” written by correspondent Maurizio Blondet who, according to Magister, blamed the Islamic attack of March 11, 2004, in Madrid on the Israelis.
Magister also criticizes some Catholic communities and organizations that promote ecumenism, mentioning specifically the recent gathering organized by the Pontifical Council for Interrreligious Dialogue in Doha, Qatar, between Muslims and Catholics, on May 27-29.
The Vatican observer, in fact, cites important biographical information that discredits the belief that “moderate Muslims” are the Vatican’s partners in discussions on Islam. Although they are more moderate than terrorists, Magister argues, these Muslims justify attacks on innocent civilians in Iraq and Israel and even justify the persecution of Christians. Magister levels the same criticism at the recent gathering organized by the Community of St. Egidio which took place this week in Milan, at which “Middle-Eastern
Muslim participants juxtaposed their condemnation of a terrorist act which took place geographically far from them, with the approval of terrorists acts against civilians in Iraq and the Holy Land.”
According to Magister, “the ecclesiastical going astray regarding Islam” has been confirmed by the fact that some trully moderate Muslims have been more energetic in condemning the Muslim murderers in Osetia, even calling them “Nazis.”
Nevertheless, these condemnations have not been reported in Italian Catholic media.
Magister’s complete column can be found at: www.chiesa.espressonline.it/english
Detroit, Mich., Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - In an act that has puzzled Catholic Church officials, the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters donated $200 to an organization that raises money to support Democratic female candidates, who advocate the right to abortion.
The donation to Emily’s List in August 2003 was made to promote the election of more women into office, Sr. Mary Katherine Hamilton, IHM vice president, told the Detroit Free Press.
Sr. Hamilton said the donation was not a political statement on abortion. Rather, the sisters found that many of the candidates, endorsed by Emily’s List, shared the sisters’ positions on human rights, the environment, the economy, children and education.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters are very active is social justice work. The 600-member community run an AIDS hospice in South Africa and even bought Detroit Edison stock to have access to stockholders meetings and protest against the Fermi nuclear plant.
Archdiocese of Detroit spokesman Ned McGrath told the Free Press that archdiocesan officials are puzzled about the sisters’ donation.
"Supporting legitimate causes for the advancement of women is one thing," McGrath was quoted as saying. "Support for Emily's List, with its defining litmus test for abortion rights, is quite something else."
Paul Long, executive director of the Michigan Catholic Conference, denounced the donation to Emily's List. He told the Free Press that there are other ways to advance women in politics, without "contributing to an organization that solely promotes the destruction of human life."
Konigstein, Germany, Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - The Coptic Catholic Bishop of Sohag in southern Egypt, Bishop Youssef Aboul-Kheir, is asking Catholics around the world to visit his country to show support for the local Christian community which is struggling to maintain its faith.
Bishop Aboul-Kheir made his statements while visiting the headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need in Germany. The bishop acknowledged that the missionary work of the Church in Egypt, where Islam is the official religion, is limited in the areas of education and health care.
“Despite our minority status, the Church is respected in society because of her social commitment. Our service to others is never rejected,” the bishop said, although he lamented that Catholics are not able to freely evangelize.
The Diocese of Sohag has about 12,000 Catholics, 22 priests and 7 seminarians, with two new candidates who may enter the seminary this year.
Asked about ecumenical and interreligious relations in Egypt, the bishop said, “It is not an easy issue, due to the Islamic fundamentalism of the last few years and because the Coptic Orthodox see themselves as the national church of Egypt.”
Bishop Aboul-Kheir thanked Aid to the Church and its benefactors for their financial assistance, but he asked for people to visit his Dioceses in order to encourage the faithful. During the last year Aid to the Church has donated over $180,000 to the Church in Egypt.
Madrid, Spain, Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - Responding to the Spanish government’s announcement that it will be sending a bill to the House of Representatives that would make homosexual unions equivalent to marriage, Bishop Rafael Palmero Ramos of Palencia, Spain, said the measure is juridically and morally unacceptable, because it is “irrational.”
Explaining that the only true marriage is that between a man and a woman, as God has established in nature itself, Bishop Palmero pointed out that “this measure seeks to grant legal cover to something that is juridically and morally unacceptable, because it is irrational.”
While he underscored the “inalienable personal dignity” of every human being, “which nobody can nor should disparage or discriminate,” Bishop Palmero said that “nevertheless, although we all have equal dignity, we do not all have the same rights.”
“The nature of rights, said Cicero, must be deduced from the nature of man. And if the nature, both physical and psychological, of man and woman is distinct, so too are their rights. Thus their complementarity, which does not exist in a union of two men or two women,” he explained.
Bishop Palmero explained that “therefore there can be no marriage besides that between persons of the opposite sex.” “This is a requirement of the natural order. For the same reason, two persons of the same sex have no right whatsoever to enter into marriage.”
“For this reason the government should not recognize this non-existent right, nor give legal support to something that attacks the very nature of the institution and the common good of society,” he said.
Likewise, Bishop Palmero defended marriage as an adequate means of fulfillment for those who enter into it. “Only in marriage can children learn the two most important social virtues, love of neighbor and justice. It is difficult, for the same reason, that same-sex unions can contribute to the perfection of those who enter into them. Since they lack mutual sexual differences, they will be deprived of natural complementarity.”
Regarding the adoption of children by homosexual couples, Bishop Palmero said that such children “would be deprived of the fundamental right to a father and a mother and their respective psychological and emotional contributions to a wholesome sexual identity in their childhood and adolescence, such that, when lacking, are difficult to replace.”
The bishop also underscored that if the Socialist government “makes homosexual unions equal with marriage, it will be endangering the institution of marriage and the just social order, and do nothing to overcome the alarming demographic crisis” in Spain.
In conclusion, Bishop Palmero united his voice “with those who wish to sound the alarm. Not only Catholics, but all those who want to be lead by reason, should think about this before it is too late, to avoid allowing laws to be passed in Spain that attack the true and only form of marriage.”
Vatican City, Sep 8, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told the Italian daily “La Stampa” yesterday that the world has already entered into “the Fourth World War.”
The Cardinal explained that after the first two World Wars came the Cold War, a true war, he said, even though it didn’t follow the usual patterns.Cardinal Martino pointed out
that with terrorism, “a new war exists which involves the entire world, because we don’t know when we leave this hotel if something might happen, or when we board a bus or when we go to a bar. The war is around each one of us.”
Regarding the attack on the school in Beslan, Russia, Cardinal Martino said the international community needs to discover the motives for which “26 terrorists have carried out this horrific massacre.”
“The international community must examine and search for a solution as to what provoked this explosion. And force alone will not work. Military power is not what is going to win,” he added.