Archive of October 25, 2004

Kerry says “I respect the bishops, but I respectfully disagree,” in speech on faith

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - In a campaign speech given in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on Sunday, Sen. John Kerry, hoping to win undecided Catholic voters, spoke of his faith and the way it influences his decisions, and of his relationship to the Church, saying "I love my church. I respect the bishops, but I respectfully disagree."

“I know there are some bishops who have suggested that as a public official I must cast votes or take positions on issues like a woman’s right to choose or stem cell research that carry out the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church,” he said. 

"My task, as I see it,” said Sen. Kerry, “is not to write every doctrine into law. That is not possible or right in a pluralistic society,” he said. “But my faith does give me values to live by and to apply to the decisions that I make," he added.

Quoting the Gospels, Kerry emphasized his concern for social issues, saying that the concern for the most vulnerable members of society “is a moral obligation that is at the heart of all — all — of our religious traditions."

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Reaction to Kerry speech from Catholic organizations

Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - In the wake of Sen. John Kerry’s speech on his faith in Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday, Catholic organizations in America issued responses stating that Kerry has “misrepresented” and “run against” the Catholic faith.

"The Christian faith has been misrepresented again today by John Kerry," stated Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life."Kerry said, on the one hand, that he disagrees with the Church on abortion, and yet that society must protect its most vulnerable members,” he added.

"That's exactly why,” he said, “the Church is against abortion and requires Kerry -- and every public official -- to extend protection to the most vulnerable, the children in the womb.”

Fr. Pavone said that “Mr. Kerry obviously does not understand the Church he claims to belong to,” “The Church's position on abortion is not based on religious doctrine; it is based on the very duty to society that Mr. Kerry claims to fulfill.”

William Donohue, Catholic League president stated that though John F. Kennedy “run  from” his religion because of anti-Catholicism, John Kerry has decided to “run against his religion” and for reasons that have nothing to do with anti-Catholicism.

“No bishop has ever asked Kerry ‘to write every doctrine into law,’ and he knows it,” said Donohue, citing a phrase used by Kerry in his speech on Sunday.

“By suggesting that the bishops have pressed his back to the wall, Kerry is playing off the fears of anti-Catholics, setting himself up as the brave Christian soldier who won’t buckle before those tyrannical bishops,” he added.

When it comes to issues like taxes, said Donohue, Kerry reaches for “biblical support, but when it comes to the more fundamental life issues, the only choice he has is to check his religion at the government door?”

“It says a lot about John Kerry that he finds it necessary to curry favor with those who do not share his religion by openly running against it,” stated Donohue in conclusion.

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New compendium of social doctrine responds to current ethical, cultural, and pastoral challenges

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented the 500-page "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church" in the Holy See Press Office this morning. He called the volume "an instrument for the moral and pastoral discernment… and an aid to the faithful concerning the Church's teaching in the area of social morality."

The volume, published in Italian and English, consists of an introduction, three parts and a conclusion. The first part “deals with the fundamental presuppositions of social doctrine,” said Cardinal Martino. The second, with the “classical themes of social doctrine - the family, human work, economic life, the political community, the international community, the environment and peace.” The third part consists of recommedations for the application of the Church’s social doctrine  in pastoral activity.

The Compendium "is made available to all - Catholics, other Christians, people of good will,” and serves as "an instrument for fostering ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue on the part of Catholics with all who sincerely seek the good of mankind," said the Cardinal.

Cardinal Martino said that the Compendium is hoped to respond to three major challenges: "the cultural challenge, which social doctrine deals with by keeping in mind its constitutive interdisciplinary dimension”; the challenge of “ethical and religious indifference and the need for renewed inter-religious cooperation”; the third challenge is the pastoral challenge of showing “how the Church’s social doctrine “is connected with all aspects of the Church's life and action."

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Pope saddened by death of Cardinal Hickey

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II sent a telegram to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, expressing his deep sadness upon learning of the death of his predecessor, Cardinal James Hickey, who died yesterday at the age of 84.

"Deeply saddened by the death of Cardinal James Aloysius Hickey, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and to all the clergy, religious and laity of he archdiocese of Washington,” reads the telegram.

The Pope recalled “with gratitude Cardinal Hickey's unfailing commitment to the spread of the Gospel, the teaching of the faith and the formation of future priests.”

“I join you in praying that God our Merciful Father will grant him the reward of his labors and welcome his noble soul into the joy and peace of His eternal kingdom. To all assembled for the solemn Mass of Christian burial, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord."

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Archbishop-emeritus of Washington dies at 84

Washington D.C., Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - James Cardinal Hickey, former archbishop of Washington from 1980 to 2000, died yesterday in a local nursing home, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor; he was 84.

Diocesan spokesperson, Susan Gibb said the cardinal’s health had “slowly deteriorated over the past year."

Born Oct. 11, 1920, in Midland, Mich., he was ordained a priest in 1946 at the age of 26. He was appointed archbishop of Washington in 1980 and was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1988. He was one of 13 Americans in the College of Cardinals.

Cardinal Hickey had a reputation for being a social activist but a conservative on Church issues. He had served immigrants in the Saginaw, Mich., and developed an interest in and special relationship with the church in Central America.

Cardinal Hickey attended the funeral of his friend, assassinated Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, in 1980. That same year, two of four nuns slain in El Salvador had been under his jurisdiction as bishop of Cleveland.

As archbishop of Washginton, he lobbied Congress to increase aid to the poor and to stop giving aid to the Nicaraguan Contras and to aid the troubled area. He also encouraged his fellow bishops to support nuclear disarmament and oppose increased military spending.

Cardinal Hickey also made headlines when expressed compassion when a priest in his diocese died of AIDS in 1987.

Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, his successor and a friend of more than 40 years, told The Associated Press that Cardinal Hickey's death was a "poignant loss for the church of Washington and a personal loss for me."

"He was a great archbishop and a good and holy priest,” Cardinal McCarrick was quoted as saying. “We will all miss his smile and his wisdom very much," said.

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Larry Snyder named new head of Catholic Charities

Alexandria, Egypt, Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - Fr. Larry Snyder, who is currently executive director of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has been named president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA. He will assume the post on February 1st, 2005.

Catholic Charities USA is the national membership association of nearly 1,500 Catholic Charities institutions  and agencies in the U.S.

Fr, Snyder was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1988 and in 1991 he joined Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis where he became CEO in 1999.

He succeeds Fr. J. Bryan Hehir who was recalled by Archbishop Sean O’Malley of Boston to serve as cabinet secretary for social services, director of social services, and president of Catholic Charities of Boston.

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Kofi Annan supports cloning of human embryos

, Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has voiced his support for the cloning of human embryos for medical research in comments made on Thursday, October 21, at the beginning of a UN debate concerning the prohibition of human cloning.

“Obviously it's an issue for the member states to decide, but as an individual and in my personal view, I think I will go for therapeutic cloning,” said Mr. Annan to reporters at UN headquarters.

All the UN member countries were in agreement on the prohibition of human cloning for reproductive purposes but were divided on the question of creating human embryos for medical experimentation.

At the end of the debate on Friday a vote had not been taken, although the resolution presented by Costa Rica for a total ban on human cloning, including the cloning of embryos for medical experimentation, termed “therapeutic cloning,” had the support of 64 countries, including the Holy See.

An alternative resolution seeking the approval of “therapeutic cloning”was presented by Belgium and supported by 22 countries including the UK, Spain, France and Japan.

In comments on Vatican Radio on Saturday, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, stated that the Holy See opposes all human cloning because “A human life cannot be used to save another and, moreover, in this case a great quantity of embryos would be used."

However, he said that the Holy See was in support of the use of adult stem cells for therapeutic purposes, since it “does not imply the death of human beings in an incipient state of life.”

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Place talents at the service of the Church, says Pope to students

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - In his homily during the Mass for the inauguration of the academic year of ecclesiastical universities on Saturday October 23, Pope John Paul II exhorted students to place their talents "at the service of the Church, with humility and generosity," and to obtain wisdom and strength from the Eucharist.

The Pope told the students to commit themselves to work "so that the formation you receive in these years will help you 'to behave' ever more in a way worthy of the Christian vocation."

He urged them "to be men and women committed to creating unity between faith and life on the cognitive level and more importantly on the existential level," and emphasized that "the Eucharist is the principle of unity in charity, of community in a plethora of gifts."

"The Eucharistic mystery," he continued, "is the school where Christians are formed to the 'intellectus fidei,' making an effort to know through adoration and to believe through contemplation. In it, at the same time, they mature their Christian personality in order to be able to bear witness to the truth in charity."

The Holy Father invited students to follow "the example of St. Thomas Aquinas and all the doctors of the Church" and to strive "to obtain from the Sacrament of the Altar the light of renewed wisdom and constant strength in the life of the Gospel."

The Mass was presided over by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

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Pope asks for support of missions, prays for missionary vocations

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - Before reciting the Angelus yesterday in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II, noting that it was World Mission Day, invited “all believers to strengthen their own responsibility in announcing the Gospel to all peoples," with “prayer and concrete support,” and prayed for the gift of vocations to mission life.

"I wish to send very cordial greetings and express a profound thank-you to all missionaries committed to evangelization,” he said. “I would like to assure them of a special remembrance in my prayers.”

In a special way, I am thinking about all those who crowned their work of witnessing to Christ and serving mankind with the sacrifice of their lives," said the Holy Father, and he concluded with a prayer: "May Mary, the Queen of Missions, obtain the gift of many vocations to mission life everywhere in the Church."

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Bishop says his duty is to ‘correctly inform’ voters’ consciences

Sioux Falls, S.D., Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop Robert Carlson of Sioux Falls says he is not telling Catholics who to vote for, but it is his duty to “correctly inform” the conscience of Catholic voters by preaching about Church teaching.

It's a Catholic's responsibility to know Church teaching, the bishop said in the latest edition of the Bishop’s Bulletin, published less than two weeks before the Nov. 2 presidential elections.

Regarding whether a Catholic politician, who is publicly opposed to Church teaching on a moral issue, should be allowed to receive Communion, Bishop Carlson said: "It's up to the bishop to tell the official they are not in union with what the Church teaches. If the average person comes to the Communion rail, I don't know what is in his or her heart."

Bishop Carlson did not say whether voting for an pro-abortion candidate is a mortal sin. But he quoted Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who said that "Catholics would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present themselves for Holy Communion, if they were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stance on abortion or euthanasia.”

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Rosary beads become hot fashion trend, bishops concerned

London, England, Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - A popular Catholic devotion has become the latest fashion item. Christian shops have been overwhelmed by the demand for rosary beads from teenagers since celebrities, such as David Beckham and Britney Spears, began wearing the beads as necklaces and bracelets, reported the London Telegraph.

The new fashion trend has created concern among the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, which has issued a leaflet stressing the beads’ religious significance and how to use the beads for prayer.

The bishops have expressed "regret" about the way the beads are being trivialized, reported the Telegraph.

Fr. Allen Morris, the secretary of the Department for Christian Life and Worship, said jewellery shops have reported record sales of rosaries in recent weeks.

Shirley Nicholls, manager of the Revelations Christian Bookshop in the Diocese Ipswich, said she has sold more than 100 rosary beads in the past six weeks. Nicholls has started handing out booklets with the rosaries, explaining how to them for prayer.

Others think the trend can be seized for evangelization. It’s an opportunity to explain to people what the rosary is all about, says Kristina Cooper, editor of the national Good News Magazine for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

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Controversy over anti-Semitism campaign in France that insults Jesus and Mary

Paris, France, Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - The Union of Jewish Students of France will launch a media campaign next week aimed at “sensitizing” the French about anti-Semitism.  The campaign has caused controversy by calling Jesus and Mary “dirty Jews.”

The campaign aims to counter the arguments of those who attack Jews, with a series of public service announcements in the media.

The controversial messages present images of Jesus and Mary in pastel colors, with their hands open and smiles on their faces, but with the caption “dirty Jew” written in black with the phrase: “Anti-Semitism.  What if it affected everyone?”

Although the Union’s president, Yonathan Arfi, argues that the purpose of the spots is to sensitize those who are neither Jewish nor anti-Semites, the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism has asked the Union to “annul and change the language of this campaign,” calling it “shocking” and questioning whether it will have a positive impact.

Despite the protests, major French newspapers have offered full-page ads to the campaign.  Only the main producer of street signs and billboards, JC Decaux, which had promised to offer 250 sites, retracted after seeing the signs. 

The secretary of the Bishops Committee on Jewish relations, Patrick Desbois, said the campaign goes too far and will be seen as “anti-Christian.”

Auxiliary Bishop of Paris Pierre d’Ornellas, said he favored a joint effort against the campaign between the Church and the chief rabbi of France.

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Brazilian bishops satisfied with Supreme Court decision on abortion

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct 25, 2004 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Brazil published an official statement expressing satisfaction at the decision of the Supreme Court on October 20 which revoked the legalization of anacephaly abortion.

In the statement signed by Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, Archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia and President of the Bishops Conference, the bishops state that the decision “reaffirms the principle of full respect for the dignity of the life of human beings, no matter neither their stage of development nor the condition in which they find themselves.”

“That principle, upon which all other rights of the person are founded, is the basis and the condition for a dignified, just and unified society,” they said.

The bishops also expressed their appreciation for “all those who, fulfilling their civic duty, work for the defense of live and for human dignity in the Brazilian justice system.  The Bishops Conference renews its willingness to collaborate with all ethical initiatives dedicated to liberating society from all forms of violence and aggression against life and the dignity of persons, and we invite all Brazilians to embrace without hesitation this noble cause.”

The statement was also signed by Bishop Antonio Celso de Queiros of Catanduva and Vice President of the Bishops Conference, and Auxiliary Bishop of São Paulo and Secretary General of the Conference, Odilo Pedro Scherer.

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