Vatican City, Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II spoke on the “Vanity of riches,” the theme of the first part of Psalm 48, in today's general audience in St. Peter's Square, and emphasized that to be rich is not an advantage in this life if it takes one away from life with God.
The Pope said that this psalm speaks of the just man who "must confront 'evil days' because the malice of his foes surrounds him' and men 'boast of the vastness of their riches'. The conclusion reached by the just man is ... that great riches is not an advantage; on the contrary, it is better to be poor and to live as one with God."
The rich man "is convinced that he is able to buy everything, even death, trying almost to corrupt it, as he did in order to obtain all other things, success, triumph over others in the social and political sphere, unpunished abuse of power, eating to his heart's content, comforts, pleasures,"said the Holy Father.
But "the final destiny of the rich man,” he continued, “even for as much money as he is willing to offer, will be unalterable. As all men and women, ... he will die one day ... and will have to leave the gold he loved so much and the material goods so idolatrized on earth."
"Jesus addresses this unsettling question to those who listen to Him: 'What can man give in exchange for his soul?' No exchange is possible because life is a gift from God who 'has in his hand the soul of every living being and the breath of all human flesh,'" said the Pope.
At the end of the audience the Pope thanked his fellow Poles for "their prayers and expressions of unity and for the help that you have given me during these 26 years of pontificate. May the Lord reward you abundantly and bless you."
Washington D.C., Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - A significant number of Catholic leaders around the U.S. have published an Open Letter to Sen. John Kerry this morning asking him to be coherent with his faith and with reason - saying he is incoherent on both counts – before Kerry is rumored to make a “big Catholic statement” to win the Catholic vote in swing states.
The letter entitled “An Open Letter from Fellow Catholics to John Kerry: On Faith and Reason,” was published in the wake of rumors that Kerry was to speak at a fundraiser at the College of Saint Catherine’s campus in St. Paul, Minnesota – a swing state with a large population of Catholics - on Thursday, October 21. However, Saint Catherine’s College has confirmed that he will not be there, and sources say he is to make a pitch to Catholic voters some time within the next week.
In an interview published in the Denver Post yesterday says that Sen. Kerry has pointed to a recent letter by Cardinal Ratzinger to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as saying that it is not a sin to vote for a pro-choice candidate if you are voting for him on the basis of other important issues, and is thus asking Catholics to look at his full record on voting with the Church positions, especially the American bishops’ stance on social issues.
However, the Open Letter noted that even though “disagreements will always exist in the civic arena,” such as those concerning social issues such as education and health, there exist certain “core truths around which… Catholics must rally. Not just because it is the word of the Church, but also because of reason. This is where we stand on opposition to abortion.”
The Letter then goes on to point out Kerry’s inconherence in the face of reason as evidenced from his statements and voting record: “Innocent human life must always be protected. Senator John Kerry, you have said that “life begins at conception,” but you have persistently supported abortion and oppose all sensible restrictions on the practice,” such as that on partial birth abortion.
On Kerry’s faith the letter reads, “In the most recent debate Senator Kerry, you said, "everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith” and that “everything is a gift from the Almighty.” But apparently, when it comes to the issue of the right to life, you follow neither your own faith nor your own reason.”
In conclusion the letter says that “both faith and reason lead us to President George W. Bush as the choice for life, compassion and justice for all” and urges Catholics to join them on November 2.
The signotories of the letter include prominent Catholic public figures such as Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania; Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas; Kenny Hulsof, Missouri, U.S. Congressman; Bruce Chapman, Washington, Former Ambassador to the U.N; Bob Destro, Washington, DC, Professor, Columbus Law / Catholic University; Scott Hahn, Ohio, Professor of Theology and Scripture, Franciscan University; Brian Golden, Massachusetts State Representative; Thomas & Margaret Melady, Washington, DC, Former US Ambassador to the Holy See; Robert George, New Jersey, Professor, Princeton University; Maria Sophia Aguirre, Washington, DC, Professor, Catholic University; Donna Sytek, New Hampshire Former Speaker of the State House; Douglas A. Sylva, New Jersey, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute; Mary Beth Bonacci, Colorado Real Love Inc.; Austin Ruse, Washington, DC, President, Culture of Life Foundation; Mary Ellen Bork, Virginia Women Affirming Life; M. Edward Whelan, Washington, DC, Ethics & Public Policy Center; Joe Cella, Michigan, President, National Catholic Prayer Breakfast; Connie Marshner, Virginia, President, American Catholic Council; Michelle Fischbach, Minnesota, State Representative.
Washington D.C., Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - Advocates for Sen. Kerry’s bid for the presidency, Catholics for Kerry, have published a list of reasons claiming that Sen. John Kerry’s positions are more in line with the social doctrine of the Church than those of President Bush on a number of issues, but does not make any mention of issues such as abortion, marriage, stem cell research or euthanasia.
The list points to the USCCB brochure entitled “The Challenge of Faithful Citizenship, A Call to Political Responsibility,” which posed 10 questions to each of the campaigns. According to Catholics for Kerry, the Senator’s positions in answer to all the questions are completely in accordance with the Church’s teaching, while the President’s positions are completely out of step on all the questions.
Read the list at:
, Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - The Ford Foundation has established a new policy, barring beneficiaries from engaging in any activity that “promotes violence, terrorism, bigotry, or the destruction of any state.”
But the Catholic League says this policy is hypocritical since the foundation has been funding at least one anti-Catholic group for decades.
“The Ford Foundation has long violated its newly established restrictions by lavishly funding the most anti-Catholic organization in the United States, Catholics for a Free Choice,” Catholic League president William Donohue pointed out.
“Thus, for the Ford Foundation to now insist that its recipients forswear a commitment to bigotry is rank hypocrisy,” said Donohue. “Catholics for a Free Choice has been bashing the Catholic Church for decades, and could not do so without the support of the Ford Foundation.”The American Civil Liberties Union has decided to reject funding from the Ford Foundation because it objects to the new restrictions.
Washington D.C., Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - In a letter to Senator John Kerry, the Family Research Council has formally requested that the Democratic presidential candidate sponsor a Senate companion bill to the House Bill, H.R. 235, The Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act, upon his return to Congress.
The request comes after Kerry’s many appearances as a guest speaker during Sunday services at several houses of worship across the country on his campaign trail.
Kerry, joined by Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, spoke during services at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Miami Oct. 11 in an effort to reach out to African-American voters. During the visit, Kerry was endorsed from the pulpit by the pastor of the church.
In her letter to Kerry, the council’s vice-president of government affairs, Connie Mackey, states that the proposed legislation will "restore freedom of speech to our country's churches, mosques, and synagogues.” It "is an important defense to the basic right of free speech,” which the Family Research Council considers a top priority, she says.
“By the use of the tax code, churches, and other houses of worship are scared into silence on matters of public morality because of sensitivity to political restrictions,” Mackey adds.
Princeton, N.J., Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - Students from 14 of America’s elite universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Georgetown, and MIT, have published an ad for the defense of the right to life for all human beings, particluarly the unborn, in all their campus newspapers. NYU, however, refused to run the ad.
The ad affirms that the students are 100% in support of stem cell therapy, but are against embryo-destructive research, and it goes on to present reasons for questioning such research, in opposition to what mainstream media would have people believe.
The project was initiated by Princeton Pro-Life, who claim that the arguments against embryo destructive research have so far been ignored. They also point out that many elite university students are more likely to be pro-life than their parents’ generation.
Read the ad at: www.princeton.edu/~prolife/ad.pdf
Trenton, N.J., Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - Led by their bishops, about 1,500 Catholics rallied at the Statehouse in Trenton, Oct. 18, to urge political leaders and the voters who elect them to uphold "the sanctity of life" by opposing abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, reported the Star-Ledger.
The "Witness for Life" mass and rally marked the first time all five of New Jersey's Roman Catholic dioceses had jointly demonstrated to urge voters to cast their ballots for pro-life leaders. Trenton Bishop John M. Smith called it "historic."
"It is a nonpolitical rally. It is a rally for life," Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said.
The morning mass was celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, followed by the noontime rally outside the Statehouse.
The main message of the day was that the sanctity of life is more important than any other issue facing the electorate.
“Before any other right can be protected, the right to be must be protected above all,” Fr. Michael Manning, coordinator of Respect Life Ministries for the Diocese of Trenton, told the crowd at the Statehouse.
Newark Auxiliary Bishop Charles McDonnell, in leading the demonstrators in the Pledge of Allegiance, amended it to end: "with liberty and justice for all, born and unborn."
The bishops did not mention the names of any presidential candidates during the rally. When pressed by reporters, the bishops declined to endorse a presidential candidate.
"Each citizen must make up his or her own mind based on the principles of our faith," Bishop Myers said.
San Diego, Calif., Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - Officials in three U.S. dioceses have instructed pastors and parish administrators not to distribute the "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics," published by the San Diego-based lay group Catholic Answers. According to some diocesan lawyers, the guide does not pass the provisions of the tax code that govern non-profit organizations.
The Culture of Life Foundation discovered documents to this effect and published a report about it in its latest issue of Culture & Cosmos.
The three dioceses include San Bernardino, La Crosse and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
In a letter Aug. 20 from Diocese of La Crosse attorney James G. Birnbaum to pastors and administrators, Birnbaum said the "Voter's Guide" should not to be distributed on parish grounds or during parish activities. The "listing of issues is too narrow to pass legal muster,” he said.
He added that the voter guide of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference is the "only guide we believe is safe to distribute or rely upon at the parish level."
Jeanette Arnquist, director of the Office of Social Concerns for the San Bernardino Diocese, issued a memo Oct. 6, citing two guides that are not to be distributed: the “Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics” and the "Guidelines for Catholic Voters," published by Our Sunday Visitor.
Instead, Arnquist instructed parishes to use the guide, produced by the lay staff of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called "Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility."
The USCCB document has been criticized for placing the paramount issue of abortion with lesser issues like social justice and global solidarity.
Catholic Answers has already answered charges that its guide does not conform to tax law earlier this month, when Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice, a pro-abortion advocacy group, asked the Internal Revenue Service to withdraw the charitable tax status of the organization.
"We had it thoroughly checked out by legal experts, and we're well within the law,” said Catholic Answers president Karl Keating. “In the voter's guide, we don't mention any candidates, any specific election, or any party, and we don't endorse or oppose anyone. We merely state the principles that real Catholics are obligated to abide by when voting."
The "Voter's Guide" cites papal and Vatican documents and identifies five issues it calls "non-negotiable": abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning and homosexual "marriage." Supporting any of these issues, according to the guide, would disqualify a candidate as a viable option for a faithful Catholic.
, Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, celebrated the traditional Peruvian October devotion of Our Lord of the Miracles in New York, presiding at a Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and a procession through the streets of the Big Apple.
Some five thousand people crowded the streets around St. Patrick’s to process with a replica of the famous image of Christ. A very emotional Cardinal Cipriani told reporters, “This has been an opportunity to build up the hope and optimism that sometimes is lacking in Peru but which abounds in our fellow countrymen here in New York.”
“There is no explication, no marketing analysis, as to why millions upon millions follow after this image, with so much faith,” Cardinal Cipriani said.
He also thanked God, “because it is like a ray of hope and faith which our people bring to these developed countries, where people see with their own eyes how thousands take to the streets in prayer and carry the image about, singing their Peruvian songs.”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - Several pro-life groups are stepping up activities in hopes of preventing a Supreme Court decision today that would legalize abortion in cases of anencephaly and would open the door to abortion on demand in the country.
At the beginning of July, Chief Justice Marco Aurelio Mello ruled that babies suffering from the condition could be birthed earlier than usual in order to hasten death. Anencephaly always results in the death of the baby, whose brain is either underdeveloped or non-existent.
In his ruling, Mello also struck down any criminal statues that would implicate mothers, doctors, or health care workers who participate in anencephaly abortions.
In August, the Supreme Court justices voted not to reverse the ruling by Mello, but rather to issue a direct ruling on the merits of these abortions after a debate scheduled to take place today.
According to the Defense of Life Movement, “This is about spearheading the total legalization of abortion in Brazil.” The group said the objective of the case before the Supreme Court “is to step by step broaden the instances in which abortion is permitted by law in order to get society used to facing the death of innocent children as something ‘normal’ or as ‘a woman’s right,’ until abortion is finally legalized, with no restrictions and for any reason. If we do not act now, afterwards it could be too late.”
Brazil’s Attorney General, Claudio Fontelles, has said he is opposed to the procedure and that the aborting of any baby is a violation of the right to life.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, called on politicians this week to set aside their “fears about losing votes” and to instead begin facing “the serious problems afflicting the country.”
The Cardinal lamented that political leaders hesitate to carry out the serious reforms the country needs. “All we’ve had so far is just fireworks. I hope we can learn to genuinely see what Mexico really needs, the profound transformations that are necessary,” he said.
He also stated that “often out of fear of losing votes, they don’t want to face the serious problems of our people, and so we fall behind other countries in education, justice, and technology because we dare not carry out serious reform.”
According to the Cardinal, in the last few years the country “has grown and has enjoyed surprising economic stability,” but “as long as reforms are not implemented, that wealth does not get spread around, and therefore injustices will continue to exist. That’s why they are necessary.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - In an eloquent message to the faithful of his Archdiocese, Archbishop Domingo Castagna of Corrientes, Argentina, warned that in some traditionally Catholic countries—such as Spain or Mexico—“an open and merciless campaign of de-christianization” exists.
The Archbishop expressed his hope that the same thing will not occur in Argentina, where “the deep Catholic faith of innumerable Argentinean citizens” still prevails, but he warned that “the relativism and lack of faith of just a few people in power” would be enough “for laws and judicial norms to be passed that would go against the beliefs of 80-90% of the population.”
Archbishop Castagna added, “People speak with great eloquence about respect for pluralism but they do not speak in the same way about respect for the faith of the majority. In the name of non-discrimination the majority is discriminated against and obliged to accept a system that goes against its faith and morals.”
The Archbishop likewise denounced the ideologues who “would strip religious truth all of its rights and give them instead to ideas about man that deny it.”
In this sense, he reminded authorities that “it is their job to preserve unity while being respectful of diversity” and to ensure that “nobody in a properly ordered society feels like a stranger.”
Archbishop Castagna argued that certain legislation that appears to be “progressive” is in reality “a true erosion of constitutionality,” and that the confusion of those ideologues who are currently in power is due to a “lack of knowledge of the nation’s fundamental values.”
Birmingham, Ala., Oct 20, 2004 (CNA) - CatholicMusicNetwork.com, one of the most important websites for Catholic music during the last four years, has announced it is launching a completely new design that is sure to raise eyebrows around the Catholic music world.
Online purchases, artist profiles, news, special reports, and music reviews are only a few of the features CatholicMusicNetwork.com offers to help support Catholic artists in their efforts to evangelize through music.
Referring to the importance of religious music in today’s world, co-founder Doug Archer said, “Pope John Paul II called us to use the most effective tools and instruments to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe music is truly a powerful tool to carry out this evangelization in a direct and entertaining way.”
CatholicMusicNetwork.com features the music by today’s top Catholic artists, including Danielle Rose, Matt Maher, Donna Cori Gibson, Critical Mass, Chris Padgett, Tom Booth, John Michael Talbot, Janelle, Fr. Stan Fortuna, and Crispin, to name just a few.
CatholicMusicNetwork.com’s new design features an interactive section that allows users to post their own reviews of Catholic music and to recommend CDs and artists to their friends via automated email notices. News features and special stories keep music fans informed of events around the Catholic music world and give them access to interviews with various Catholic artists.
Regarding the importance of Catholic music, Archer said he and his co-founders hope to continue making the site “a place where the talented Catholic musicians and singers can be promoted.”
“Many people don’t know that this music exists and that in the last several years there has been an explosion in new Catholic artists,” he added.Visit Catholic Music Network at www.catholicmusicnetwork.com