Archive of September 21, 2004

Holy See: fight against hunger demands greater commitment from the world

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - In an address to a meeting at the United Nations yesterday in New York, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, expressed the Vatican's support for an initiative proposed by the president of Brazil to fight hunger and poverty around the world.

After expressing "the personal adherence of Pope John Paul II to this important initiative," the cardinal noted the "vast humanitarian action of the many Catholic institutions in the world, especially in missions and in the poorest countries," saying that "the Holy See has always supported the many personal and collective initiatives that have been proposed to solve the drama" of hunger in the world.

The Cardinal mentioned the support of the Holy See for previous initiatives by U.N. bodies to alleviate poverty and hunger such as the 1996 Report of the World Food Summit and the 2000 U.N. Millennium Declaration, and, referring to a speech he made in 1996, outlined the principles that inspire Holy See action: human dignity, solidarity, the universal destination of the goods of the earth and the promotion of peace.

Notwithstanding a world alliance against hunger and poverty, he stated, "it was discovered bit by bit that there were not sufficient funds to finance a program of world food security."

Acknowledging that although there have been emergencies in recent years that have drawn funds away from these initiatives, Cardinal Sodano said that "the problem [of hunger] is far greater."

"The fight against hunger," he continued, "and I would also say against thirst, goes beyond mere emergencies; this fight must face a series of complex factors such as, for example, the need to invest in the human capital of the local populations (in the fields of health and education) and to ask for the transfer of appropriate technologies and the guarantee of equality in international trade."

Cardinal Sodano also reminded "donor countries of their commitment to underwrite public aid for development equal to 0.7 percent of the GNP of each State."

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Diocese of Tucson files for bankruptcy

Tucson, Ariz., Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - The Diocese of Tucson filed for bankruptcy yesterday, becoming the second U.S. diocese to seek court protection in recent history. The Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon was the first, July 6.

The filing is a result of the high number of sexual-abuse claims. Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas told parishioners in a letter that filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy offered "the best opportunity for healing and for the just and fair compensation of those who suffered sexual abuse by workers for the Church in our diocese."

The Tucson Diocese settled 11 abuse lawsuits filed by 16 plaintiffs for an undisclosed sum two years ago. Since then, 22 more molestation claims with 34 plaintiffs have been brought against the diocese, reported The Associated Press.

A plaintiffs' attorney said the diocese was going into bankruptcy partly as a public relations move aimed at making victims appear overly aggressive.

But Bishop Kicanas said his diocese would continue working toward settlements in the cases against it, despite the filing.

According to its financial statement, the diocese had $4.65 million in long-term debt and a $7-million deficit in unrestricted net assets as of June 30, reported AP.

The reorganization plan under the filing calls for most creditors to be paid through the diocese's regular operation. Plaintiffs in sex-abuse cases, however, would be paid from a special pool, which would include $3.2 million from the diocese and money from insurance companies, reported the AP.

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Quebec bishops respond to government’s news of late-term abortions

Quebec City, Canada, Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - Late-term abortions should not be made available in Quebec, said the Assembly of Quebec Bishops in a statement Sept. 16. The bishops issued the statement after Quebec’s Ministry of Health announced Sept. 10 that it hopes a newly trained doctor will set up a practice in the province and provide late-term abortions next year.

The procedure, which entails aborting a child after 22 weeks gestation, is one, which Canadian doctors have avoided for ethical reasons. Up until now, Canadian women have been traveling to Kansas, Colorado or Washington to obtain late-term abortions, and the various provincial governments have been paying for it at a cost of $5,000 US per woman.  Last year, 30 Quebec women obtained late-term abortions in the U.S.

In its statement, the Assembly of Quebec Bishops (AEQ) noted the absence of an abortion law in Canada. “This judicial void is not synonymous with an ethical void, for all our actions have ethical significance. Abortion illustrates this well,” reads the AEQ statement.

The bishops underlined that most countries recognize the need to protect embryos and have enacted legislation that bans the creation of human embryos for research purposes. They also pointed out the apparent contradiction in Canadian law, which recognizes the need to protect the human embryo regarding reproductive technologies and yet allows for abortion.

The Quebec bishops said there is a need to develop a mentality that favors adoption rather than abortion in the province. They issued an invitation to all Christian communities to develop alternatives to abortion, such as counseling and adoption services, and help-centres for pregnant women. They also urged educators to teach values and the importance of the meaning of life.

About 106,000 abortions are performed each year in Canada, 31,000 of them in Quebec.

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Another Canadian province approves same-sex marriage

Winnipeg, Canada, Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - The fifth Canadian jurisdiction legalized same-sex marriage last week. Manitoba follows Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and the Yukon Territory in redefining marriage as the union of two persons rather than as the union of a man and a woman.

The lack of legal opposition helped push the case, which was filed by three lesbian couples, through the court in a little more than three weeks, reported the Winnipeg Free Press. The Manitoba case was also the first time the federal government did not present legal opposition.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Douglas Yard said he reviewed the case in light of the precedents set by the four cases in the other provinces and territories. He said the cumulative effect of the four decisions meant restricting marriage to a man and a woman in Canada is unconstitutional, reported the Free Press.

The Atlantic province of Nova Scotia is set to make a decision on the issue within the next three weeks.

The federal government asked the Supreme Court of Canada to review draft legislation that would alter the definition of marriage to include same sex couples. The review is scheduled to take place next month.

The Archdiocese of Winnipeg said the court’s decision was regrettable and that marriage should be recognized only as the union of one man and one woman with the aim of procreation and the raising of children.

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Cardinal Ratzinger says Turkish membership in EU “anti-historical”

Rome, Italy, Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said this week the possible entry of Turkey into the European Union would be “anti-historical” and that it would be better for the country to remain as a bridge between Europe and the Arab world or to form a “cultural continent” together with that world.

According to the ANSA agency, Cardinal Ratzinger said that culturally and historically Turkey has little in common with Europe, and therefore, “with all due respect,” it would be a “grave error” to grant the country EU membership.

The Cardinal made his statements during a gathering with religious educators in Velletri, south of Rome.

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Poverty is alleviated by honesty and not abortions, warns Paraguayan Archbishop

Asunción, Paraguay, Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Pastor Cuquejo of Asuncion, Paraguay, encouraged young people this week to defend life, saying those who argue that “overpopulation” is the cause of poverty are simply wrong.

“Life is a value which we should promote and you are the ones who should defend this immense gift of God,” the Archbishop said, reminding young people that they are between two worlds: the old world, dominated by corruption and lies, and the new world, which seeks to bring fulfillment and fullness to the human person.

Archbishop Cuquejo stated that “everyday you are challenged to choose between one world or the other.”

Likewise, he explained, “Today we are almost drowned in the depths of misery because of corruption.  Those who rob are the ones who create poverty and ensure that there are poor people,” despite the fact that the “higher-ups” in the world want to convince people that the problem is not corruption but overpopulation.

“Life itself suffers the consequences of this dishonesty.  The evil people who mismanage their own lives tell us today: ‘we must kill in order for there to be less people; we must kill the unborn so that we have enough food to eat’.  This is a fallacy, a corruption of the mind and the heart,” the Archbishop said, adding that the morning after pill is abortifacient and causes harm to women.

Archbishop Cuquejo criticized the campaign that is promoting the use of the pill.  “We know it is abortifacient, that it causes harm; nevertheless, we hear these discourses that are full of fallacies, and science has proven the opposite.  Yes, pseudoscience tries to deceive us by saying it is not abortifacient” he stated.

Therefore, he went on, “when they lie to us and their speeches do not reflect the truth, they are dishonest.  Honesty is based on justice, and those who do not impart justice as they should are dishonest people.”

Over 5,000 young people participated this past weekend in the Jubilee of Young People, which took place at the Archdiocesan seminary and culminated in a pilgrimage to the Cathedral where the Archbishop of Asuncion presided at Mass.

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Archdiocese of Mexico says country needs to work harder for reconciliation

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - In an editorial this week in the Archdiocesan newspaper, the Archdiocese of Mexico issued a new call to Mexicans to increase their efforts to bring about national reconciliation.

According to the editorial, more than a truce, the country needs to enter into the dynamism of reconciliation in order to ward off threats of social unrest. It also argued there is still time to overcome discord, and it exhorted Mexicans to show they have the will and the capacity to handle democracy.

“It’s not enough to say ‘Long live Mexico,’ we must demonstrate our patriotism through responsibility, with personal and collective work that brings about better development,” said the article.

Likewise, the editorial issued a call to “overcome the authoritarianism and populism which have done us so much wrong, and to seek consensus and to respect agreements, but above all to bring dignity back to political life. ”
The editorial also underscored that disappointment and discouragement “regarding our young democracy should teach us that we cannot put all of our hope in any one system.”

It added that elections teach us that the responsibility of Mexicans does not end at the ballot box, that the great structural problems are not magically solved, but above all that the country is not only built by the politicians, but by the citizens as well.

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Bishops supports government’s ultimatum against militias involved in drug trafficking

, Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Tulio Duque Gutierrez of Pereira, Colombia, has lent his support to President Alvaro Uribe’s ultimatum against militias in the province of Meta, after a giant cocaine laboratory associated with the United Self-Defenses of Colombia was found.

Bishop Duque said the militias “are not helping the country” and that therefore the President “is right in getting upset and demanding acts of good will.”

The bishop lamented that “the coffee-producing region is experiencing these problems” and he encouraged authorities “to continue combating the drug trafficking associated with illegally armed groups” that “are enclosing themselves in various municipalities of my ecclesiastical jurisdiction.”

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Legacy of Kennedy, Cuomo tells politicians it is okay to compromise faith

Denver, Colo., Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - Catholic political leaders have left a flawed legacy, which instructs politicians that it is okay to be personally opposed to abortion and not “impose” that view on the nation, says Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver.

It is a legacy that says a Catholic can be in the public service as long as he or she is willing to abandon what is “inconveniently Catholic,” adds the archbishop.

What these politicians pitch as a compromise between personal and public interest is actually “a deal with the devil, and it has a balloon payment no nation, no public servant and no voter can afford,” says the archbishop in his column, published today, in the Denver Catholic Register.

In his column, Archbishop Chaput reflects on the legacy of Catholic politicians who severed their public identity from their faith and rationalized that it was okay to maintain personal beliefs and not “impose” them on the nation through federal legislation. He focuses in particular on President John F. Kennedy and New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

He refers to John F. Kennedy’s speech in 1960 to the Houston Ministerial Association, in which he said he would not let the Pope or the Church dictate his actions and decisions if he were elected president.

“In pledging to put the ‘national interest’ above ‘religious pressures or dictates,’ Kennedy created a template for a generation of Catholic candidates: Be American first; be Catholic second,” the archbishop said.

“The Kennedy compromise seemed to work pretty well as long as the ‘religious pressures’ faced by Catholic elected officials involved issues like divorce, federal aid to Catholic schools or diplomatic relations with the Holy See,” said the archbishop, but it doesn’t work with the “jugular” issue of abortion.

After the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, Catholic elected officials had to face a choice, said the archbishop: Either work to change permissive abortion laws or “abandon the unborn and look for a way to morally sanitize their decision.” 

In a speech in 1984, New York Governor Mario Cuomo rationalized the perspective that a Catholic politician could privately oppose abortion but had no right to "impose" that belief on others, says the archbishop.

The archbishop calls Cuomo's speech “a tour de force of articulate misdirection”, which “refuses to acknowledge the teaching and formative power of the law” and “implicitly equates unequal types of issues.” 

Cuomo also argued that "approval or rejection of legal restrictions on abortion should not be the exclusive litmus test of Catholic loyalty."

“With those words,” said the archibishop, “he wrote the alibi for every ‘pro-choice’ Catholic who has held public office since.”

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Pope grateful to Portugal for highlighting Europe's Christian identity

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2004 (CNA) - On receiving the Letters of Credence of the new ambassador of Portugal to the Holy See, Joao Alberto Bacelar da Rocha Paris, this morning, Pope John Paul II took the opportunity to express his appreciation to the Potuguese government for "highlighting the Christian identity of Europe" in the new European constitution.

The Pope also expressed the desire that "the convictions that come from this [Christian] identity be affirmed in every national and international sphere."

"In this sense," he continued: "the signing of the new Concordat between the Holy See and Portugal is the great expression of a mature consensus to reinforce the presence of this Christian 'soul' founded on the 'deep historical relations between the Catholic Church and Portugal, according to mutual responsibilities that bind the parties, in the sphere of religious freedom in order to continue with its service to the common good and to collaborate in building up a society that promotes the dignity of the human person, justice and peace."

The Holy Father expressed his hope that Portugal will be a country that is "always open to the new challenges of our society and one that knows that the Almighty will not leave those who trust in His ways with empty hands."

Referring to challenges in modern society, the Holy Father emphasized that the "intensification of regional, cultural and economic differences, the desire to safeguard peace," natural disasters as well as "the disparity between rich and poor with the consequent lack of respect for human rights, are, among other things, a reason for great concern for every leader."

The Pope indicated that these challenges can be better presented to the public "if they are part of a project of development in which the vital forces in local society make up a substantial, unified effort. Associating citizens with projects in society and giving them confidence in government leaders and in their nation is the foundation for peaceful coexistence in societies."

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