Archive of September 17, 2004

Protect the sacraments, give faithful dignified celebrations, says Pope to bishops

, Sep 17, 2004 (CNA) - This morning at Castelgandolfo, the Pope spoke to 130 recently-appointed bishops from both the Oriental and Occidental Churches, about their duties as bishops, especially emphasising their duty “to take special care of the celebration of the Sacraments and worship in general.”

The bishops of the "two traditions of the universal Church, East and West," were in Rome taking part in a meeting organized by the Congregations for Bishops and for the Oriental Churches.

The Holy Father said that "with consecration, a bishop turns into teacher, priest and guide of the Christian community. Therefore, Christ, the divine Master, present in the Word of Scripture as well as in the sacrament of the Eucharist, must always be at the center of his ministry."

"My strong desire is that the Year of the Eucharist, that will begin on October 10 with the opening of the International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, will be a providential occasion to better explore the central importance of the sacrament of the Eucharist in the life and activity of every particular Church. The bonds of fraternal charity are strengthened around the altar and the awareness is enlivened in all believers of belonging to the one People of God, whom the bishops guide."

John Paul II emphasized that as bishops they have the duty "to take special care of the celebration of the Sacraments and worship in general. Defend the hope of the faithful to have a dignified celebration in which nothing is left to improvisation or chance."

"You are aware," he concluded, "that the ministry of sanctification requires the witness of a holy life. The Spirit of God, which has sanctified you through episcopal consecration, awaits your generous response daily. ... In order to confirm what we teach, the  witness of our life is necessary."

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Christian morality must be considered most powerful factor in economic relations, says Pope to bankers

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2004 (CNA) - This morning at Castelgandolfo Pope John Paul II spoke about the role of bankers to 25 members of the Italian baking group Capitalia, telling them that "your presence in society can become an instrument of true progress, offering support for valid initiatives of individuals and groups who come to you for their legitimate financial and economic needs."

"The complex world of credit," said the Holy Father, "calls for reflection by the Church because of the many ethical implications that regard it. It would in fact be decidedly inadequate to limit oneself to pursuing only maximum profit; it is necessary, rather, to always refer to the higher values of human living if one wants to help the true growth and full development of the community.”

“In this regard,” noted the Pope, “the great Catholic economist Giuseppe Toniolo observed that Christian morality must be considered 'as the most powerful factor in awakening economic energy in peoples and in guaranteeing its most regular and efficacious relations'."

"I hope," John Paul II concluded, "that your work will always be sustained by this higher vision, so that you contribute to the well-being of all who avail themselves of your activity and, in general, of those of the entire community in which you work."

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Bishop urges U.S. Catholics to embrace citizenship and responsible voting

Atlanta, Ga., Sep 17, 2004 (CNA) - In a recent letter to his faithful, Archbishop John F. Donoghue of Atlanta said he cannot tell Catholics who to vote for but he has responsibility to teach them how they must decide for whom to vote.

Citing from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Pope John Paul II, the archbishop said Catholics must embrace their citizenship to create a culture of life and reject all practices that violate human life.

Even in light of the upcoming election, “the Church holds her members to acceptance, complete acceptance of her teaching on matters of faith and morals,” said the archbishop.

Citing Colin B. Donovan, who appeared on an EWTN program, called Moral Duties Concerning Voting, the archbishop explained that there are two kinds of cooperation involved in this moral question.

Quoting from Donovan, he wrote, “formal cooperation is that degree of cooperation in which my will embraces the evil object of another's will. Thus, to vote for a candidate because he favors abortion is formal cooperation in his evil political acts.”

The Archbishop also included Donovan’s explanation of material cooperation, which Donovan says, “is permitted for a serious reason, such as preventing the election of a worse candidate.”

It involves voting for someone  “in order to limit a greater evil, that is, to restrict in so far as possible the evil that another candidate might do if elected.”

Although the distinction may sound subtle or technical, it is actually one of “profound consequence and must be accounted when we decide, in conscience, how we are to vote in a given election,” he said.

“Only action that is right and true will in the end rescue our country,” he concluded. “This is a critical moment and to do nothing would be a great tragedy.”

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UN body claims abortion, contraception still key to development

, Sep 17, 2004 (CNA) - Despite the marked drop in fertility rates in most parts of the world, the UN Population Fund said this week that the earth's environmental future remains threatened by population growth. In a report issued this week, it says the problem can only be addressed by UNFPA's increased provision of contraceptives and abortifacients, reported the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute.

The report, entitled "State of the World Population 2004," argues that the work of UNFPA is essential in meeting current international development goals.

The report appears to endorse the legalization of abortion, praising that "open discussion on the circumstances when abortion might be permissible has grown" throughout the world. It also claims states that the “social taboos surrounding abortion and the penalties for both women who seek abortions and those who provide them” are still challenges in many countries.

The report reiterates UNFPA's support for emergency contraception, which often acts as an abortifacient.
The report praises countries that have overcome parental authority, such as Papua New Guinea, where a new law ensures that adolescents over age 16 can access reproductive health services without parental consent.
UNFPA admits that AIDS has not been brought under control, noting that, "Despite expanding prevention activities, some five million new infections are occurring each year." The report then goes on to endorse policies that have not worked, most notably "promoting the correct and consistent use of condoms" rather than promoting abstinence and sexual fidelity, strategies that have shown significant results in sub-Saharan Africa.

The only country that is criticized in the report is the United States, which it claims has attempted to destroy worldwide consensus because of the "administration's political opposition to some aspects of reproductive health." The report praises China for its “dramatic drop” in the incidence of poverty due to its decreased fertility. The report does not mention that this fertility decline is the result of draconian population laws that include forced abortions and sterilizations.

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U.S. adds Saudi Arabia to list of ‘countries of concern’

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2004 (CNA) - Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom today welcomed the U.S. State Department’s designation of Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Eritrea to its list of "countries of particular concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act. Other countries on the list are Burma, China, Iran, North Korea and Sudan.

Center Director Nina Shea said: “The addition of Saudi Arabia for the first time to the State Department's short-list of egregious religious persecutors marks a new day in the world struggle against extreme religious intolerance. This intolerance is the ideology that undergirds Islamic terror.”

Shea said the government of Saudi Arabia “has been responsible for the proliferation worldwide of an extreme Wahhabi interpretation of Islam” for decades. This interpretation of Islam, she said, fosters “virulent hatred, alienation and even violence toward Christians, Jews and other religious believers, including moderate Muslims.”

The center’s director said Saudi efforts have even begun to radicalize Muslim communities far beyond the Arabian Peninsula,” including in Northern Nigeria, Indonesia and Central Asia.

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Anglican Church agrees to reality-TV program ‘Priest Idol’

London, England, Sep 17, 2004 (CNA) - The Anglican Church in England has jumped into the fray of reality TV in the hopes of reviving a dying church.

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Lundwood in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, has a congregation of only nine, mainly aging, regular worshippers. It hopes that by participating in a new reality TV program on Channel 4, called Priest Idol, it will be able to attract a new vicar who can fill up the church pews.

A selection process will attempt to find the right candidate, who is likely to be younger than the average vicar, according to Channel 4. The chosen vicar will receive a sum of cash to spend on whatever he or she thinks could turn things around.

Cameras will then follow the church community over 12 months.

The program is being made with the full cooperation of Bishop Stephen Platten of Wakefield, who considers this program a last-chance attempt to revive the church and an opportunity to encourage other churches that find themselves in a similar situation. 

Priest Idol is scheduled for broadcast at the end of next year.

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Cardinal asks for the avoidance of innocent civilian death in Iraq

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2004 (CNA) - The honorary president of Vatican Radio, Cardinal Roberto Tucci, asked the coalition forces yesterday to avoid the deaths of innocent civilians in Iraq.

The cardinal specified that his message “is directed to the coalition forces and not to the terrorists, who won’t listen to it.”

“In Israel also, it is necessary to pay more attention, during the organized attacks innocent persons are often the ones hit,” added Cardinal Tucci.

In conclusion he invited Italian Muslims to reflect on the fact that in Italy they enjoy rights and guarantees that are denied to Christians who live in countries with Muslim majorities.

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Argentine bishop maintains that Catholic schools must “evangelize while educating”

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 17, 2004 (CNA) - The bishop of San Miguel, Mons. José Luis Mollaghan, emphasized the primordial place that the Catholic school occupies in the mission of the Church and recalled that it is called to “evangelize while educating and educate while evangelizing.”

In a Mass celebrating Teacher’s Day in Argentina, the bishop indicated that the Catholic school mustn’t “wish for anything other than true objectives of service, through the multiple and varied educational institutions which integrate into the social and cultural life of the community.”

“In this manner, in our country, the Church has managed to mark the culture of the people, has known how to situate the message of the Gospel at the base of it’s thinking, in it’s criterias of judgment, and in its norms of action,” underscored the bishop.

The prelate also maintained that “the teacher must be the one who feeds and makes grow; the man and woman of counsel, the advisor, who offers moral support and teaches with the authority of his own example.”

He indicated that today one must have “a greater sensitivity in front of the dignity and rights of the person” and that, in the face of confusion and lack of values, one must show a life “of deep convictions, rooted in the faith.”

“The personality of the teacher is a fundamental instrument,” he said, “to bring to the task of educating, in such a way that to be called an educator isn’t simply an adjective applied to a person, but integral to a personality rich in values that gives its life to the service of this vocation.”

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Mexican bishops warn against planned casinos

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 17, 2004 (CNA) - The Mexican Bishops’ Conference have issued a statement warning of the dangers involved in the Mexican government’s plan to legalize casinos and betting houses in the country in an attempt to create jobs and aid economic development.

The plan “runs the risk of devaluing the value and dignity of work” in preference of the “luck of bets,” said the statement, “ and this is the high cost paid by generating employment and riches through casinos and betting houses.”

“Studies have been done...which demonstrate the harm done by this ‘gaming’ industry and its negative repercussions in the lives of many people and their families,” said the bishops.

They state that the economy must be structured and rehabilitated on the basis of ethics because ethics are more and more subjugated to the interests of a dehumanizing economy.”

“A positive result cannot be hoped for from the legalization of casinos and betting houses… in neither quantity nor quality do they contribute to the economic development of a country, moreover, they could be an obstacle” to development, affirmed the bishops’ statement.

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