Archive of September 15, 2004

Pope: God guides history despite Satan and evil

Vatican City, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II said today that "history is driven through the effective work of God, despite the storms, the lacerations, and the devastations caused by evil, man and Satan."

During this morning's general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square and attended by 10,000 people, the Holy Father reflect on the hymn in chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation, "The marriage of the Lamb."

John Paul II explained that in this canticle "we encounter the frequent use of the word Alleluia which means 'praise to the Lord.' The Church on earth joins its song of thanksgiving with the voice of the just in heaven, who unceasingly contemplate the glory of God. In this way, a channel of communication is established between history and eternity."

The canticle, he added, "exalts the 'kingdom' of the Lord, the divine plan of the salvation of the human race".

The Holy Father said that the other theme of this hymn "is typical of the Book of Revelation and its symbolism: 'The marriage of the Lamb has come and the Bride has made herself ready. The expression 'the marriage of the Lamb has come' refers to the supreme moment of intimacy between the Creator, the creature, the joy and peace of salvation."

At the end of the audience the Pope recalled that today is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, "who faithfully stood by the Cross of Jesus. My desire is that you may be able to find in her consolation and help to overcome all the obstacles in your daily life."

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Illinois columnist claims Catholic hospitals performing late term abortions

, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - Two Catholic hospital systems, Loyola Health System in Chicago, and Providence Health System on the west coast and Alaska, commit late term abortions on handicapped babies, by the procedure of induced labor, claimed Jill Stanek of the Illinois Leader, in her September 14 column.

Stanek, tipped by reporter Tom Szyszkiewicz of Our Sunday Visitor and the National Catholic Register, suggested the likelihood that the 10 largest Catholic health systems in the U.S. – Providence is the tenth largest – are doing the same.

According to Szyszkiewicz, writes Stanek, the hospitals perform live birth abortions; they wait “until babies were 23 to 26 weeks gestation before aborting them, i.e., until they were of viable age, so they could say these weren’t abortions at all but simply labor inductions and, thus, sanctioned by the Catholic Church.”

Stanek writes that “the Catholic hospitals’ abortion strategy seemed even more risky when taking the Born Alive Infants Protection Act into account. It states that live born babies, no matter what their gestational age or circumstances of birth, are “persons.” According to the 14th Amendment, “persons” born in the U.S. are automatic citizens who cannot be “deprive[d]… of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor den[ied[… equal protection of the laws.””

“This means live aborted babies can’t be cast aside to die… They must be medically assessed and cared for just like wanted babies,” she explains.

In their defense, “Loyola and Providence Health Systems say they are acting in accordance with the 2001 U.S. Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services that states, “For proportionate reason, labor may be induced after the fetus is viable.”

According to Szyszkiewicz, theologian James LaGrye from the U.S. Bishops’s doctrinal office stated that “the mental health of the mother ‘is a [proportionate] reason to perform early induction,” and Fr. Jack O’Callahan, staff ethicist at Loyola, said in addition that the procedure is being used “to ward off the physical complications of bringing to term a child who is not going to live anyway.”

Read Jill Stanek’s full column at:

Related columns written by Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz:

National Catholic Register:
Our Sunday Visitor - OSV:

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Canada grants world’s first same-sex divorce

Toronto, Canada, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - A lesbian couple was granted a same-sex divorce Sept. 13, just 15 months after they were married by an Ontario judge. This is being considered the world’s first same-sex divorce, reported CanWest News Service.

An Ontario Court of Appeal had ruled that the federal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman was unconstitutional and opened the way for same-sex marriage in the province in the spring of 2003. However, the ruling did not contain provisions for divorce.

Two days ago, Superior Court Justice Ruth Mesbur addressed that and issued a divorce judgment, stating that the definition of a spouse as “a man or a woman who are married to each other” in Canada’s Divorce Act is unconstitutional.

The Superior Court ruling is only applicable in Ontario, however, it may now set the standard for divorces of same-sex couples in other provinces that have legalized same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court of Canada is expected to rule on the constitutionality of a federal law, permitting same-sex marriage, next month.

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Abortion is only proportionate to itself, Ratzinger Priests for Life director clarifies Ratzinger memo

, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, has responded to the recent controversy concerning the distortion - by the media and Kerry supporters - of the words of Cardinal Razinger concerning voting and abortion, by issuing a clarification and explanation of the cardinal’s memo.

The note at the end of Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter which has been the source of all the controversy reads: "When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion ... but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it ... can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."

Fr. Pavone states that the issue of “abortion is not proportionate to other issues, but is certainly proportionate to itself,” and quotes a paragraph earlier in the cardinal’s memo to explain the point: “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia...”

Fr. Pavone’s full article is available at

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Syrian Catholic Church supports Iraqi Christian refugees

Aleppo, Syria, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - Families fleeing Iraq after the Aug. 1 attacks on Christian churches have found safe haven in Syria, thanks to the Catholic Church.

In a letter addressed to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Antoine Audo, Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Syria, explained that entire Christian communities from Iraq have begged Catholic leaders to help find homes, medicine and food.

The prelate has responded by opening up the Chaldean parish in Damascus as a refugee center for 500 Iraqi families. According to Archbishop Giovanni Battista Morandini, apostolic nuncio in Damascus, the total number of Christian families who have arrived in Syria over the past weeks is 5,000. The National Post reported three weeks ago that the number of Christians who fled Iraq after the bombings is closer to 40,000.

With the increase in numbers and the cases of sickness, depression and desperation, the Church must do more,” stated Bishop Audo. Aid to the Church in Need responded by pledging $24,000.

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Pope accepts resignation of two U.S. auxiliary bishops

Vatican City, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - Today Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation from office of Bishop Francis X. Roque and of Bishop Joseph Madera, both auxiliaries of the Military Ordinariate for the United States, upon having reached the age limit.

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Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception launches new virtual tour on website

Washington D.C., Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - In the 150th anniversary year of the Immaculate Conception, a complete virtual tour of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. has been made available via the Shrine’s website.

Through one can tour the more than 60 chapels, walk the halls and corridors, light a candle, in addition to submitting prayer requests, finding out scheduling times and joining the Shrine Online Community.

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Quebec to start granting late-term abortions in local clinic

Quebec City, Canada, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - Dozens of Canadian women must travel to the United States to receive late-term abortions. But Quebec health officials are “hopeful” that a newly trained doctor will set up practice in the French-speaking province in the next year and offer this procedure to women who are six-months pregnant.

Up until now, Canadian women have been travelling to Colorado, Washington or Kansas to receive late-term abortions because no Canadian doctors would perform them – not even staunch pro-abortion doctor Henry Morgentaler, who opened Canada’s first abortion clinics – for ethical reasons.

“We don’t abort babies, we want to abort fetuses before they become babies,” Morgentaler told the Canadian Press from his Toronto clinic. “Around 24 weeks, I have ethical problems doing that.”

Morgentaler told CP that if a case like that comes into his clinics, his staff usually counsels the woman “to continue the pregnancy and put it up for adoption if she is unable to care for it.”

The various provincial governments have been paying for these late-term abortions that Canadian women are receiving in the U.S. The cost of the procedure is $5,000 U.S., roughly $6,500 CDN. Last year, 30 Quebec women traveled to the U.S. for this procedure.

Marc Cardinal Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec, told CP that the Quebec government would be better off spending the money assisting mothers to carry their children to term and put them up for adoption.

But Quebec Health Minister Philippe Couillard defended the procedure on CBC Radio, saying that the decision to have a late-term abortion is not easy for women or their doctors.

A spokesperson for the health minister also told CP that the right to abortion is “well-recognized” in Canada and that the ministry has “an obligation to get a patient the help that she needs.”

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Argentinean Bishop: Authentic sex-ed based on freedom and not on selfish pleasure

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Jorge Luis Lona of San Luis, Argentina, criticized this week the false “sexual education” that has begun to be taught in some areas of the country and which threatens “to spread to the entire school system,” and he argued that authentic formation is based on man’s freedom and not on the self-destructive “insatiable search for pleasure.”

According to Bishop Lona this “false sexual education” promotes experimenting with sex and reduces it to pure selfish pleasure.  “It consists of practical instructions for children and young people on how to use a condom as a way to prevent pregnancy and to avoid catching AIDS,” he said.

However, the bishop clarified, “This has been unsuccessful, as proven by the failures of these campaigns throughout the world.”  “The worst part is that an official ‘recommendation’ in favor of promiscuity and irresponsible sexual activity is being implicitly or directly conveyed, at a time in history when young people are being assaulted like never before by these evils, with terrible consequences for future families,” he underscored.

As an alternative, Bishop Lona proposed “authentic sexual education” that “is founded on the freedom that allows human beings to fully live out their condition as male and female, a work of God sustained by Him through the virtue of chastity.”

According to the Argentinean bishop, in this way one attains the fullness of one’s vocation, whether to married life, priestly celibacy, religious or consecrated life.

“The culture which seeks to dominate us rejects it as impossible, because it also rejects the love of God and His power.  In the face of this challenge, the light of reason guides us—which denounces a society capable of self-destruction in the insatiable search for pleasure—but above all the strength of faith, hope and divine charity sustains us,” he concluded.

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Insensitivity to eternal values is not “modern progress”, warns Mexican Cardinal

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, said during Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral that insensitivity to eternal values is not “modern progress” but rather a terrible fault that could lead mankind towards greater tragedies.

“Being insensitive to eternal values, to the law of God, is not modern progress, but rather a terrible fault that could lead us to greater tragedies, in the same way that physical insensitivity can lead us to be carefree with our bodily health and lose it when we least expect it,” the Cardinal said during the homily.

The cardinal pointed out that “not feeling the need to return to the Father’s house, not to feel repentance, to believe that nothing that we do or stop doing is evil, is a very alarming symptom.”

“Just as physical pain is a spontaneous reaction to alert us to something that is not right in our bodies, so also spiritual pain, repentance, is a response of the conscience to alert us that something is not right in our souls, in our spirits,” he said.

Speaking about the parable of the prodigal son and the merciful father, Cardinal Rivera said, “In response to the scorn and shunning of puritans, who don’t want to be contaminated by sinners and who are dedicated solely to pointing out and condemning the sins of others and justifying themselves, Jesus has revealed to us the merciful love of God our Father who moves us to repentance for our personal sins, and He casts us into the loving arms of the Father described in the Gospel.”

Likewise, “In response to the loss of the sense of sin and the loss of the fundamental values that make it possible for humans to live together, Jesus invites us to remake the social fabric, helping us to recover the sense of guilt and moving us to conversion and repentance so that our community might go to Him who makes all things new: Jesus Christ our Lord,” he concluded.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the Cardinal granted an interview to local reporters during which he called all Mexicans to unity as they celebrate their national holidays.  “These national holidays are always a call to unity, to work for Mexico,” he said.

“There is always the danger of dispersion, of division and confrontation.  And therefore the call to unity, the call to work for Mexico, should be permanent, and not only in this administration.  We did it last century and we will continue to do it during this century as well,” he underscored.

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Dominican Cardinal denounces youth crisis as consequence of broken families

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, lamented the growing involvement of young people in violent gangs and said the crisis stems primarily from family problems.

The cardinal argued that confusion among young people is one of the most serious social problems of today and he warned that gangs are just one its manifestations.

He called on parents to assess how they may have failed instead of feeling sorry for themselves and to never lose hope that they can get young people back.

“Society, in general, must become aware of these problems and try to find possible solutions, because if they grow, society itself will be in greater jeopardy,” the cardinal warned, speaking on Catholic television.

He suggested parents examine their own lives, without adopting attitudes of revenge or violence towards their children.  “You should never forget that despite his or her mistakes a child never ceases to be your child, even though he or she may say this and want to demonstrate it,” he added.

Moreover, he said the parable of the prodigal son “is echoed in many homes, as there are many estranged children and many others who leave their homes, or who, if they stay at home, are practically not living there.”

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Dozens of homeless occupy church in downtown Bogota

, Sep 15, 2004 (CNA) - Around 80 homeless are occupying a church in downtown Bogota, storming the building after the conclusion of Mass yesterday.  As a condition of leaving they are demanding police officials reverse a decision to drive expel them from an abandoned area of the Colombian capital.

Father Dario Echeverry, member of the National Conciliation Committee, said the homeless “occupied the church in order to convert it into a place to make known their problems, which have not been resolved.”

Dozens of policies officers who ordered the homeless to leave an abandoned area of Bogota known as El Cartucho provoked the invasion of the church, said Father Echeverry, adding that the homeless “demand the expulsion be stopped, that dialogue be initiated and that they be offered some type of resolution.  There are some pregnant women and elderly among them and everybody is very hungry.”

A commission from the Mayor’s office has been working with Father Echeverry in order to seek a peaceful resolution.

The homeless, most of whom pick through public trash canisters and are drug pushers and had been living in abandoned buildings in the area known as El Cartucho, entered the church and locked the doors, with dozens of worshipers still inside.

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