Vatican City, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II inaugurated the year of the Eucharist with the celebration of Mass on Sunday, October 17, concomitantly with the closing Mass of the 48th International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Via satellite, the Pope said to the participants in the Congress in Guadalajara that "the theme of the congress, 'The Eucharist; Light and Life of the New Millennium', invites us to consider the Eucharistic mystery not only in itself but also in relationship to the problems of our times."
"The human heart needs light, as it is weighed down by sin, often disoriented and tired, tried by sufferings of every type,”said the Pope. “The world needs light in the difficult search for a peace that seems so distant, at the beginning of a millennium upset and humiliated by violence, by terrorism and by war."
Emphasizing that life is the greatest human aspiration, the Pope noted that "threatening shadows weigh on this universal longing, the shadows of a culture that denies respect for life in every stage; the shadow of an indifference that send countless people to destinies of hunger and underdevelopment: the shadow of scientific research that often aims to serve the egoism of the strongest."
"We must all feel called by the needs of so many of our brothers and sisters," without forgetting that nourishing ourselves with the Body of Christ "means welcoming life itself from God, opening ourselves to the logic of love and sharing," said the Holy Father.
As did the disciples of Emmaus, ask "the divine Wayfarer, Who knows our hearts, not to leave us as prisoners of evening shadows,” instructed the Holy Father.
“Sustain us in our fatigue, pardons our sins, orient our steps to the path of good. ... Bless all of mankind!" he prayed.
In conclusion, addressing the Lord, the Pope said: "In the Eucharist You made yourself 'the remedy for immortality': give us delight in a full life that makes us walk on this earth as trusting and joyous pilgrims, always looking to the goal, the end of the life that has no end. Stay with us, Lord. Stay with us!"
The Pope conclude with the announcement that the next International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Quebec, Canada in 2008.
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - In a press conference this morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Renato Martino of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, stated that “the voices of the Holy Father and the Catholic Church are little heard, above all in rich and comfortable countries…they are submerged under the noise created by powerful economic, cultural, and political lobbies, which mobilize against all that is Christian.”
During the conference, in which the book "Pope John Paul II and the Challenges of Papal Diplomacy," was presented, Cardinal Martino said that these lobbies create “confusion between gener identities, laugh at marriage between a man and a woman and attack human life, which passes for an object of dangerous experiments.”
He called these lobbies “new holy inquisitions full of money and arrogance” that attack the Catholic Church and Christians “using any valid method to silence their voices, from intimidation to public rejection and cultural discrimination and marginalization.”
Remarking on the case of the rejection by many in the European Parliament of the designation of Rocco Buttiglione – a devout Catholic and friend of the Pope – as a comissioner, based on his Catholic views concerning marriage and homosexuality, Cardinal Martino said that “the Church is concerned” in the face of a “mystified democracy based on the axiom that if you are not in agreement with us, you get out.”
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - During the noon Angelus in St. Peter’s Square yesterday, Pope John Paul II spoke about the Year of the Eucharist, which was inaugurated yesterday, and expressed his gratitude for the prayers and well wishes of the faithful on his 26th anniversary.
Pointing to the International Euchristic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, the Pope said that "for one week the Eucharist has been celebrated and adored as the 'light and life of the new millennium'. 'Light' because the presence of Christ, Light of the world, shines forth in the Eucharistic mystery. 'Life' because in the Eucharist Christ has given Himself, the Bread of life, to us."
"In the wake of Vatican Council II and the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000,” he said, “the Year of the Eucharist should be a strong time of encountering Christ, present in this sacrament of His Body and His Blood.”
“In this mystery He brings about sacramentally His paschal sacrifice that redeemed mankind from the slavery of sin and established the divine Kingdom of love, justice and peace," continued the Pope.
At the end of the Angelus prayer the Holy Father said: "I wish to express great gratitude to everyone who, on the anniversary of my election to the Chair of Peter, expressed their best wishes and assured me of their prayers.”
“While I ask the Lord to comfort each person with the abundance of His gifts, I entrust myself to Him and I ask, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, for His constant help for the fruitful exercise of my ministry in the Church."
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II, speaking to participants in the World Conference of Women Parliamentarians for the Care of Children and Adolescents this morning, said that “children are the most precious treasure of the human family,” and “no one can remain silent or indifferent when innocent children suffer.”
The Pope mentioned that the objectige of the conference (taking place in Rome under the sponsorship of the presidency of the Italian Parliament) was "to find together efficacious forms of caring for minors by institutions.”
“In this regard,” he said, “I wish to express my appreciation for this praiseworthy involvement in favor of the youngest members of the population, while I encourage you to pursue this path in the awareness that children and adolescents are the future and hope of mankind."
"Children are the most precious treasure of the human family," he continued, "but at the same time the most fragile and vulnerable members. Therefore it is important to constantly listen and pay attention to all of their legitimate needs and aspirations. In a special way, no one can remain silent or indifferent when innocent children suffer, are marginalized or wounded in their dignity as human persons."
“The immense cry of pain of those children who are abandoned and violated in many regions of the earth, should compel public institutions, private associations and all people of good will to become aware again of the duty that we all have to protect, defend and educate with respect and love these fragile creatures," said the Holy Father.
"To be efficacious," he concluded, "every action of caring for children and adolescents can only be inspired by the dutiful consideration of their fundamental rights."
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See before the United Nations, noted the “serious threat” to the future of developed nations posed by the “rapid decrease in the global rate of population growth” since the 1990’s and stressed the need for an ethical approach in planning population policies, and the responsibility of governments to create the proper conditions in which couples can plan their family in liberty.
In his address, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Cairo summit on Population and Development held last week, Archbishop Migliore noted the threats posed by the widening gap between rich and poor and the rising phenomenon of migration, and then keyed in on the theme of population development, which the Cairo Conference highlighted, he recalled, as being inseparable from the “development and flourishing of each human being.”
He noted that the Vatican, which encourages “accurate and objective assessments of population issues and global solidarity in regard to development strategies… is concerned that proper attention is not always given to the comprehensive set of principles, including the ethical ones, essential in determining the right response to the demographic, sociological and public policy analyses of the data on population trends.”
“Population policy,” he noted, “is only one part of an overall strategy for the betterment of humanity. It is essential that any discussion of population policies … be pursued with due consideration for the social, cultural and spiritual dimensions of every human being.”
“It would therefore be wiser if focus were placed upon the formulation of population policies that promoted a responsible kind of personal liberty, instead of one that was too narrowly defined,” he said.
He underscored that “the duty to safeguard the family demands that special attention be given to securing for husband and wife the liberty to decide responsibly, free from all social or legal coercion, the number of children they will have and the spacing of their births,” and said that governments and other social agencies should “help create the social conditions” that make this liberty possible.
“We know that responsible parenthood is not a question of unlimited procreation or lack of awareness of what is involved in rearing children, but it also involves the right of parents to use their liberty wisely. Moreover, couples that choose to have large families deserve to be supported,” he stressed.
He concluded by emphasizing the educational duty faced by parents and governments to challenge young people with a “demanding ethic which fully respects their dignity and which leads them to the wisdom which is needed in order to face the many demands of life.”
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - On Saturday October 16, The Russian Army choir, orchestra and ballet corps performed in honor of Pope John Paul II’s 26th anniversary of his election to the papacy.
The concert, which took place in the Paul VI Hall consisted of traditional Russian folklore music and dance, including songs about the Red Army, war and several traditional ones such as "Kalinka."
After thanking the performers for the concert and expressing his affection for "the noble Russian people," the Holy Father invoked on them "the protection of the 'Mother of God' of Kazan, whose icon recently returned to Russia, a land very dear to me."
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - During a press conference in the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinal Renato Martino of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented the book "Pope John Paul II and the Challenges of Papal Diplomacy," and called Pope John Paul II’s pontificate “one of the greatest blessings that the Church and the world have received in history."
The cardinal remarked upon "the harmonious composition of an extraordinary Magisterium that, over 26 years, has touched all aspects of the realities of our times, setting forth a vigorous series of variations on the unifying theme of the defense of human dignity and its basic rights.”
In reading the pages” of the book, “and between the lines,” he said, “what emerges is the greatness, not only of a very lofty Magisterium, but of a courageous and solid faith, a hope that hopes against hope, a love for truth, for peace and for man which makes John Paul II's pontificate one of the greatest blessings that the Church and the world have received in history."
Seattle, Wash., Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - In a recent interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett said he revealed the homosexual culture that was rampant at the Michigan seminary, where he served as academic dean in the 1960s, but was dismissed.
His students included a "large colony of homosexual people" who liked to go to gay bars at night, he told the newspaper. He was also fighting drugs and a hippie subculture. He complained to his archbishop and tried to block the ordination of some students. However, he was deemed "counterproductive" and was sent back to the parish.
The now-archbishop of Seattle observed that many of the clergy sex-abuse cases in the United States involve priests ordained in the 1960s and that 81 percent of minor victims were male.
"One would not want to draw a tie (between homosexuality and child abuse), but I think it does raise the question," he was quoted as saying by the press, adding that some of the homosexual seminarians he knew turned out to be pedophiles.
The issue is close to home for the archbishop, who has been dealing with the largest sexual-abuse scandal in the country for years. A recent study found that 49 of the 1,249 clergy who have served Seattle since 1950 have been accused of sexually abusing minors, which is about the same as the national average.
The archbishop said he was especially “dismayed” when he learned, upon his arrival in Seattle from Helena, Mont., about now-retired priest James McGreal. The priest had served in 10 parishes from 1948 to 1988 and confessed to molesting hundreds of victims.
The archdiocese already had policies in place regarding sexual abuse when he got to there, but Archbishop Brunett has strengthened them by adding background checks for Church employees. He has also flown across the country, offering comfort to almost 40 victims.
Since arriving in Seattle, he has overseen the opening of four schools and four parishes – three other parishes will be opening soon – and he has continued his work in ecumenism. There are currently 179 parishes in the archdiocese.
Under his leadership, the diocese bought and renovated a $7-million, 39-acre retreat center, the archdiocese's first major training center since it owned a seminary. He recently started a $30-million fund-raising campaign for low-income Catholic schools and students and oversaw the launch of a new program for lay ministers at Seattle University.
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Montreal, Canada, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - The largest shrine to St. Joseph in the world is now the rare recipient of a top Vatican honor. Pope John Paul II conferred the Golden Rose to St. Joseph’s Oratory yesterday on the occasion of the official opening of its centennial celebrations and the consecration of its basilica.
Pope Urban II created the Golden Rose during his pontificate, which began in 1088. In these almost 1,000 years, only 180 golden roses have been conferred, seven of which were in the last century.
This is only the second Golden Rose Pope John Paul II has awarded. The first was given to Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland, at the beginning of his 26-year pontificate, in 1978.
Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the apostolic nuncio to Canada, was on hand to present the gift, wrought of gold, to Montreal archbishop Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, who was the main celebrant at yesterday’s mass. About 35 bishops from across Canada and 2,200 people attended the event, which was broadcast live on national television.
The Golden Rose “communicates the deep sentiments of the Pope” for the oratory, sentiments of love, gratitude and sympathy, said Archbishop Ventura.
“The Golden Rose is an exceptional sign of honor because this is a place of grace and hope,” he said, describing the oratory as “a celebrated place of prayer” and “an inspiration to vocations.”
St. Joseph’s Oratory stands in good company. Among the churches to receive the Golden Rose in the last century are Our Lady of Lourdes in France, Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.
Many consider the oratory special since it has been the site of many miracles attributed to the prayers to St. Joseph of Blessed Br. André Bessette, CSC. The humble brother, who had served as a doorkeeper for his order’s renowned college, Collège Notre-Dame, founded the oratory in 1904. What was once a small wooden chapel for 12 on a hillside is now the largest church in Canada.
In his homily, the cardinal pointed out how God uses the meek and the humble, like Br. André, to do great things. “No one could have thought, no one could have predicted that Br. André could have been at the origin of such a big and marvelous work – work, which developed and bore fruit for 100 years and which, after 100 years, has still not lost its relevance,” the cardinal said.
“This is exceptional,” said Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ, of Halifax, referring to the Golden Rose. “It a gift for all Catholics of Canada,” said the native Montrealer, whose grandmother had visited Br. André and received his counsel when she first arrived in Canada from Ireland as a widow and a mother of 10. “He gave her a sense of confidence and of hope.”
A number of events are planned for the oratory’s centennial year. For information, go to www.saint-joseph.org.
Rome, Italy, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - The Italian Bishops Conference has published a document suggesting dioceses and parishes make use of the Internet in their work of evangelization.
The statement by the bishops proposes that parishes and diocesan chanceries create web sites and establish press offices in order to establish greater lines of communication between pastors and the faithful and to promote the message of the Church.
In addition, the bishops plan to organize press conferences that will be led by young professionals who specialize in media relations.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - A Spanish watchdog group is reporting that the country’s Vice President, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, lied when she claimed that there are four million homosexuals in Spain by citing figures from the National Statistic Institute.
According to the civil rights website Hazteoir.org, “The government has had no scruples in multiplying by seven the number of homosexuals according to the National Institute of Statistics in 2003.”
Moreover, regarding adoption by homosexuals, the website pointed out that Fernandez de la Vega “lied again when she said ‘the majority of Spaniards believe that what’s most important is the wellbeing of the child, regardless of the sexual orientation of his or her parents.”
”According to a June 2004 study of the National Institute, 49% of Spaniards (versus 40%) believe heterosexual couples best guarantee the wellbeing of children, and 77% (versus 10%) say homosexual couples do not guarantee the wellbeing of children,” reported the website.
Santiago, Chile, Oct 18, 2004 (CNA) - The Education Minister of Chile decided this week to withdraw more than 1,000 copies of a manual for school officials because it contained a direct attack on the Catholic Church from a feminist perspective.
The manual, which was to serve as a guide for principals and directors of public and private schools that receive government funding, included a chapter entitled, “Women Throughout History,” which claimed that the Bible promotes “hatred of women” and that the Catholic Church encourages “genocide against women.”
The 100-page document was supposedly intended to increase students’ knowledge and understanding of juvenile rights, civic participation, leadership, and integration into society after high school.
The feminist section was part of an addendum of proposed resources, and was based on a doctoral thesis by two university students.
The president of the Committee on Education of the Chilean Bishops Conference, Bishop Ricardo Ezzati, sent an official complaint to the Education Minister, Sergio Vitar, who promised to investigate the matter.
After reading the chapter, Vitar ordered the immediate withdrawal of the manual. He called the section “improper,” adding that “a few pages from a doctoral thesis by two students” did not belong in an official government manual.