Archive of October 19, 2004

Praying for honors for Servants of God creates conditions for miracles, says Pope

Vatican City, Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - Welcoming pilgrims from the diocese of Pelplin in Poland this morning, Pope John Paul II confirmed that their pilgrimage to Rome to pray for the beatification of Servant of God, Bishop Konstantyn Dominik, “creates a spiritual atmosphere of openness to grace that prepares conditions for miraculous interventions.”

"It is right," the Pope said, "that through prayer you seek to support the process of recognizing his holiness, a process that began in 1961. This is an important contribution because it gives witness to the veneration enjoyed by this candidate to the honors of the altar, and at the same time it creates a spiritual atmosphere of openness to grace that prepares conditions for miraculous interventions. May the faithful pastor of your diocese continue to guard these with special care."

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Anglicans express disappointment, regret after no solution is reached over homosexual bishop

Washington D.C., Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - The Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council are deeply saddened that within minutes of the Windsor Report’s release, the primate of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. had rejected its core presupposition, that is, the church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality.

Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church Frank Griswold has expressed "regret" that the appointment of a homosexual bishop has threatened to split the worldwide Anglican Church. But he did not apologize as called for in the Windsor Report. He confirmed that the trend is unstoppable within the Episcopalian Church in the United States.

The report called on the 50 bishops, who attended the episcopal ordination of openly homosexual clergyman Gene Robinson to the New Hampshire Diocese, to apologize. It also called for a moratorium on the consecration of homosexual candidates.

The report, produced by the Lambeth Commission, demanded an explanation from the Anglican Church in the U.S., known as Episcopalian, about "how a person living in a same gender union may be considered eligible to lead the flock of Christ." Scripture must be used to back up the explanation, it said.

“We see a critical need for a Core Covenant and applaud this recommendation by the Commission,” said the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council.

Many Anglican clergy believe the Bible explicitly condemns homosexuality. Several African sections of the church were outraged over the ordination and even broke ties with the U.S. church. Many are still demanding the suspension of the U.S. church.

In fact, the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council have expressed their concern that that the Windsor Report failed to recommend direct discipline of U.S. church.

The Windsor Report also urges all members of the church to work together, while acknowledging that serious divisions exist. 

“We understand and embrace the justifiable concern for the unity of the communion, and we treasure real unity,” Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council.  “We cannot in good conscience, however, support such unity at the expense of truth.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said the fact that the commission had been unanimous in its findings "counts as a considerable achievement and a sign of hope".

He added: "There is plenty to digest and there should be no rush to judgement.

"We want voices round the communion to be heard and we will be putting in place a careful and wide-ranging process for gathering responses,” he said.

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In face of terrorist violence, Iraq’s Christians defiantly vow to stay and rebuild country

Baghdad, Iraq, Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - Iraqi Christian leaders have issued a joint statement in response to the bombings of five churches on Saturday, October 16, condemning the attacks and all attacks on Christian or Muslim places of worship, and saying that the Christian communities will not leave Iraq, but rather, will “help to build an Iraq of peace, freedom democracy and tolerance.”

Fides News reports that leaders of Iraq’s Chaldean, Assyrian, Latin, Syrian, Armenian, Greek-Orthodox and other churches, refusing to be intimidated by terrorist attacks, stated that “Christians and Muslims have lived here side by side for more than 1,400 years and they intend to continue.”“We will not leave our country, we will stay here and help to build an Iraq of peace, freedom democracy and tolerance”.

As a sign of the cooperation that has always existed between the leaders of the Muslims and Christians in Iraq, Christian, Sunni and Shiite Muslims formed the Interreligious Council for Peace in Iraq last year to promote meetings and join activities and has firmly condemned violence in the name of religion.

The Council has also stated in the past that the religion is indispensable in the building of a new Iraq.

Three percent of the Iraqi population is Christian, three quarters being Chaldean Catholics.

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Jewish and Catholic solidarity in essential values, says statement

Vatican City, Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - The Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, headed by Cardinal Jorge Mejia, and  Delegations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, led by Rabbi Shar Yishuv Cohen, today released a shared statement on social justice and ethics, calling for respect for religious communities and persons, and affirming Jewish and Catholic solidarity in essential moral values and human well-being.

The statement, on the theme "A Common Vision of Social Justice and Ethical Behavior," emerged today during meetings in Grottaferrata, Italy, which began on October 17 and end today. It reads:

"1. We are not enemies, but unequivocal partners in articulating the essential moral values for the survival and welfare of human society.

"2. Jerusalem has a sacred character for all the children of Abraham. We call on all relevant authorities to respect this character and to prevent actions which offend the sensibilities of religious communities that reside in Jerusalem and hold her dear.

"3. We call on religious authorities to protest publicly when actions of disrespect towards religious persons, symbols and Holy Sites are committed, such as the desecration of cemeteries and the recent assaults on the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem. We call on them to educate their communities to behave with respect and dignity towards peoples and towards their attachment to their faith."

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews and Riccardo Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, will analyze the state of Catholic-Jewish dialogue today to introduce a seminar series on the theme at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

The Commission for Religious Relations with Jews celebrates it’s 30th anniversary on October 22. It was founded by Pope Paul VI on October 22, 1974.

Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Mejia and a delegation of the commission, will visit Rome's synagogue on Friday October 22 to mark the anniversary during the Jewish celebration of Shabbat.

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Buttiglione says Europe plagued by “anti-Christian inquisition”

Rome, Italy, Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - The Foreign Affairs Minister of Italy and candidate for justice minister on the European Commission, Rocco Buttiglione, denounced the existence of an “anti-Christian inquisition” in Europe and a “campaign of hate” against him that twists and distorts his public statements.

“Buttiglione must be disqualified, no matter what, and this does not bode well for democracy.  This doesn’t help you to understand Buttiglione,” the Catholic public official said, speaking about himself. 

In interviews with the Corriere della Sera and La Stampa, Buttiglione blamed the matter on the European Parliament, a “new anti-Christian inquisition” and “a sort of ‘Berufsverbot’ against Christians.”

Buttiglione explained that the “Berfusverbot,” established in 1972 by Willy Brandt, prohibited those who were part of the leftist groups in Germany from access to public employment.

A few days ago, Buttiglione, a Catholic philosopher and author of one of the first “intellectual biographies” on the thought of Pope John Paul II, spoke about the relationship between the US and Europe saying, “Children who have no father and only a mother are not children of a very good mother.”

The media used the statements to accuse Buttiglione of criticizing single mothers.  Nevertheless, Buttiglione said his statements were distorted by the press, who were “putting words in my mouth that I did not say.”

Buttiglione said that in the case of the relationship between the US and Europe, “Children who only have a father are not children because a man all by himself can build a robot but not a child.”

He also said that he supports single mothers, “although it is obvious that if children have a father and a mother they are better off.  That does not take away from my respect for those women who face the responsibility of educating and bringing up their children alone.”

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Pope meets with president of Paraguay, encourages country to preserve Christian faith

Vatican City, Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II met yesterday with Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos, expressing his affection for the people of that country and encouraging them to preserve their Christian faith.

“I would like to take this opportunity to renew my expressions of affection for the Paraguayan people, and I ask you to send them the greeting of the Pope and the assurance of his prayers,” said the Pontiff.

Likewise, he said he hoped “the Christian message, which has penetrated the soul of this noble people and has borne the fruit of holiness in St. Roque and his companion martyrs, will continue to provide inspiration and encouragement to all those committed to development in Paraguay through justice and solidarity.”

“Invoking the protection of the pure and chaste Virgin of Caacupe, I impart my heartfelt blessings upon all Paraguayans,” he concluded.

Before his papal audience, Duarte met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, and presented documents ratifying the Accords between Paraguay and the Holy See regarding the pastoral care of members of the Paraguayan Armed Forces and National Police, signed in Asuncion on December 24, 2002.

According to the Holy See’s Press Office, Cardinal Sodano underscored the significance of the Accords and the importance of providing for the spiritual needs of the military, as “for centuries, the Church, who is Mother, has cared for her military children through adequate pastoral care.”

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Bishop urges prayers to patron saint of politicians to stop abortion

, Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del., has distributed a prayer to St. Thomas More to parishes and Catholic schools, asking Catholics to pray that politicians be "courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life."

Bishop Saltarelli hopes Catholics will pray for the intercession of the patron saint of even after the Nov. 2 elections, in hopes that elected pro-abortion officials might have a "change of heart," reported the Religion News Service.

Bishop Saltarelli said he has met with dissenting politicians and urged all Catholics not to seek Communion if they are unworthy to receive it.

St. Thomas More, a close associate of King Henry VIII, was beheaded in 1535 when he refused to acknowledge the king as head of the church in England. In 2000, Pope John Paul II named him the patron saint of lawyers, politicians and statesmen.

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Priest debunks myth that Church is opposed to stem-cell research

Boca Raton, Fla., Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - A Catholic priest and director of education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Boston attended the seventh annual BioFlorida conference last weekend, with the intention of debunking myths about the Catholic Church’s position on stem-cell research, reported the Palm Beach Post.

Stem-cell research is a controversial issue that has gotten a lot of media attention, especially in this current presidential campaign. The most controversial source of stem cells is embryos. However, stem cells can also be harvested from adult human tissue, umbilical cords, placentas, amniotic fluid, fat from liposuction and cadavers.

It’s true that the Catholic Church does not support embryonic stem-cell research, which necessitates the killing of an embryo, says Fr. Tad Pacholczyk. However, the Church does not oppose all stem-cell research. It depends where the stem cells come from, he said.

If the stem cells come from adult humans, miscarried fetuses and umbilical cords, the Church is not opposed, explained Fr. Pacholczyk. If the stem cells come from an aborted fetus, it opposes their use as it does abortion.

Currently, the federal government does not finance embryonic stem-cell research. 

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Bishops says persecuted Catholics in Cuba are earning Heaven

Guadalajara, Mexico, Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking in Guadalajara, Mexico, where he was participating in the International Eucharistic Congress, Auxiliary Bishop of Havana, Cuba, Alfredo Petit Vergel, said Catholics in Cuba who are being persecuted for their ideas are earning Heaven.

“They, and all Catholics around the world, are earning Heaven because there are different types of martyrdom: some suffer a little, some suffer a lot, like in Cuba,” said Bishop Petit.

He also lamented the limited presence of Cuban Catholics at the Congress, but he explained that it was due more to political than religious issues.

“It is not very easy for a lay Catholic in Cuba to travel out of the country to a congress or to anything. It’s not because of religious issues; it’s because of politics.  A lay Catholic in Cuba cannot travel about freely, and for us to get here we were given a 15-day permit.  It’s not easy to get out of the country,” Bishop Petit explained.

Likewise, he stated, “The situation with Catholicism in Cuba is the same as it’s always been.  I don’t think the situation of Catholicism has changed much.  80% of the 11 million inhabitants claim to be Catholic, but that does not mean that they act like they are.”

The bishop also explained that in Cuba there are only 320 priests, 12 bishops, 3 archbishops and 1 cardinal, thus making it difficult to attend to the spiritual needs of the people.

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University student group sues for right to remain Christian

Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 19, 2004 (CNA) - The Christian Legal Society is suing Pennsylvania State University on behalf of a Christian student group, after the university has required the group to allow homosexuals and non-Christians to become officers, reported AgapePress.

Six months ago, the public university denied official recognition to the DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship, arguing the university had too many Christian groups on campus. After being sued by the Christian Legal Society, the university agreed to provide DiscipleMakers with funding and office space.

However, the school recently told the Christian student group that it would lose recognition again if it selected its officers and members on the basis of "sexual orientation" or religion, prompting another lawsuit.

Lawyer Tim Tracey thinks that no group on campus, under the logic of Penn State's non-discrimination policy, could be guaranteed the right to maintain its integrity.

Tracey believes Penn State is violating the students’ First Amendment rights. Furthermore, he says the administration is particularly discriminating against the DiscipleMakers as a Christian organization.

"Just like the College Republicans wouldn't want Students for Kerry to come in and run their club," he says, "it's no different that a Christian club doesn't want people who blatantly disagree with their beliefs to come in and run their club."

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