Vatican City, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - In today’s general audience Pope John Paul II said that reflection on death puts things we ususally consider absolute into perspective, during his catechesis on Psalm 48, "Human riches do not save."
The Holy Father said that the psalm, which "condemns the illusion created by the idolatry of riches," proposes "a realistic and severe meditation on death, the unavoidable end of the human existence."
"Often we try to ignore this reality in every way possible, putting off thinking about it. But this effort, besides being useless, is also inopportune. Reflecting on death is beneficial because it puts into perspective so many things that we have made absolute, such as money, success and power."
"The psalm suddenly changes,” he said. “If money cannot 'save' us from death, there is somebody who can redeem us from the dark and dramatic reality, God."
"In this way a horizon of hope and immortality opens up for the just man,”said the Holy Father.” God rescues him and snatches the faithful from the hands of death because He is the only one who can conquer death, inevitable for man."
For this reason, indicated the Pope, God "invites us 'not to fear' and not to envy the arrogant rich man in his glory because when he dies he will be stripped of everything, and will not be able to take with him his gold or silver, fame or success.”
“However," he concluded, "the faithful will not be abandoned by the Lord Who will show him 'the path of life, the fullness of joy in His presence, endless happiness at His right hand."
Boston, Mass., Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - A former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican released a statement yesterday calling on Catholics to exercise “responsible citizenship” and take their Catholic values with them to the voting booth Nov. 2.
“As Americans, we find ourselves at a political and moral crossroads,” said Raymond Flynn. “The values that once defined this nation as the great ‘city on a hill’ are being increasingly undermined amidst the unprecedented cultural war in which we are currently engaged.”
The popular three-term mayor of Boston challenged the lack of participation of Catholics in the public sphere and in defending their values and heritage.
“Where are we as a nation when the very symbols of America’s founding principles are being removed from our schools and courthouses?” he asked. “When our elected officials mention promoting ‘traditional values’ or a ‘culture of life’, they are accused of ‘injecting their personal faith’ into public office and ridiculed. …Will we continue to allow our nation’s values and heritage to be stripped away from us?”
Flynn said it is vital for Catholics to continue to take a lead role in these finals days, leading up to Election Day. He pointed out that Catholics represent the largest voting bloc at 25 percent.
“We need men of competence and integrity,” he said, “who understand and support the traditional values of our nation: God, Country, and Family.”
He encouraged Catholics in the final week to become informed on issues related to the election – if they have not yet done so – and the Catholic position on such issues through the numerous voter’s guides that are available.
Paris, France, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - William McGurn, an executive with News Corp and writer of a weekly column for the New York Post regretted yesterday in Denver, CO, the misrepresentation of Catholic doctrine on life issues and politics made recently by some officials of the prestigious University of Notre Dame, once one of the most vibrant Catholic universities in the US.
McGurn, a Notre Dame alumnus, former chief editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal and a member of the University of Notre Dame’s Asian Studies Advisory Committee, delivered the “Robert P. Casey Lecture on Catholic Faith and Public Life,” on Tuesday at the John Paul II Center in Denver.
His remarks were followed by by Denver district attorney, Bill Ritter and the executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, Timothy Dore.
McGurn, lamenting the silencing of the voice of pro-life members of the Democratic Party, said that “it simply no longer matters which name is on the Democratic ticket, because on this issue [of abortion] the party has spoken… The Democratic Party’s Catholics, Mr. Kerry included, publicly declare either that they accept that life begins at conception or are otherwise “personally opposed” to abortion, or both.”
Recalling the recent New York Times article by Mark Roche, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Notre Dame in which, while likening abortion to slavery and torture, argued that Kerry was the obvious choice for Catholics in this election because of his position on other issues, such as healthcare, the war in Iraq, the environment, etc., McGurn noted that Roche, while not speaking for Notre Dame, was not an anomaly among Notre Dame deans.
“In the three decades since Roe rent asunder the laws and legislative compromises that had defined and limited abortion in America,” said McGurn, “Notre Dame, in its most public on this issue, has sadly been distinguished for an astonishing ability to come up with, at critical moments in this debate, convenient pretexts for the look-the-other-way crowd.”
He noted that the “crude calculus in which unequivocal Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of the taking of the most innocent life is weighed against judgment calls” on issues such as the death penalty and represented in Roche’s article, was also applied by Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of Notre Dame, who used to hold the line that “while Republicans who were against abortion agreed with only 5% of Catholic teaching, Democrats who were pro-choice were on the Catholic side in 95% of the other issues.”
Palm Beach, Fla., Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - Florida's nine bishops have joined other episcopal state conferences is issuing a statement in parishes this past weekend that urges Catholics to vote in the presidential elections Nov. 2, and to vote according to Catholic principles.
The statement, titled "Be Faithful Citizens! Vote on November 2," encourages Catholics to consider carefully and prayerfully all of the issues at stake, especially those regarding the protection of "human life and dignity."
"From a moral perspective, the issues of concern are not always of equal importance or urgency," reads part of the one-page statement. "Some are more fundamental and therefore more pressing than others.”
The statement touches heavily on "the sacredness of human life," referring to the Church's teachings on abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, cloning and euthanasia and making reference to the Pope’s teachings in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).
Nowhere on the statement do the bishops endorse either presidential candidate.
Washington D.C., Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - Abortion, "right to die" legislation, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and same sex marriage are the five fundamental and binding issues in this election which a panel of Catholic and pro-life leaders said a Catholic “cannot disagree with and remain rooted in Catholic tradition,” during a news conference on the Catholic vote held yesterday.
Father Tad Pacholczyk, of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Father Frank Pavone, Director of Priests for Life, Father Thomas Euteneuer, President of Human Life International, Kim Marshall, Director of Generation Life, Mark Brumley, President of Ignatius Press, and Matthew Pinto, Co-founder of Catholic Outreach, authors of a downloadable Catholic Voter guide entitled “The Five Issues that Matter Most: Catholics and the Upcoming Election,” were the panelists.
All were unequivocal in their reiteration of Catholic teaching that while many of the issues brought up in this election - such as the war on Iraq – are important, the five life issues are “more important than others” because not only are they binding for Catholics, but are also based, not on religious belief, but on the natural law which binds all human beings.
Mark Brumley pointed out that politicians such as Kerry, who say that they don’t want to impose their personal views, on abortion for example, because they are based on articles of faith, are “being disingenuous” because the right to life is a human right based in the natural law and shared by people of other religions as well as those who profess no religion.
In response to a reporter’s comment that President Bush has not turned back the tide on abortions, Fr. Pavone pointed out that the president has lodged into law certain resolutions that pave the way for greater protection of unborn life, and reminded the audience that Supreme Court appointments have a tremendous impact on the issue.
“Kerry has promised Planned Parenthood that he would appoint justices” that support permissive abortion laws, said Fr. Euteneuer, and pointed out that President Bush’s international policy has already done much to limit abortion around the world. The idea that “Bush isn’t doing anything anyway, is a fallacy,” said the president of Human Life International.
Kim Marshall pointed out that 50-60 million surgical (this doesn’t include chemical) abortions take place every year around the world, according to UN figures, and said that that figure alone would make abortion the most important issue of this election.
For a free downloadable pdf version of “The Five Issues that Matter Most: Catholics and the Upcoming Election,” go to http://www.catholicoutreach.com/downloads/default.asp
Denver, Colo., Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - A pro-abortion group that claims to be Catholic has requested that the tax-exempt status of the Archdiocese of Denver be revoked. Catholics for a Free Choice submitted its request to the Internal Revenue Service Oct. 25, reported the Denver Post.
The Washington-based group claims that Archbishop Charles Chaput broke laws about partisan politicking when he made repeated public statements about the importance for Catholics to vote in line with Church teachings regarding abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.
Although Archbishop Chaput has never named President George Bush or Senator John Kerry in his speeches, the group’s president, Frances Kissling, says the archbishop’s statements are attempts to influence Catholics to vote for Bush.
In a statement, archdiocesan spokesman Sergio Gutierrez replied: "The Church in northern Colorado respects and observes the law. That will continue. So will our public engagement in moral issues that impact our shared public life."
IRS spokeswoman Jean Carl said the agency does not comment on complaints, but she said it is extremely rare for the IRS to revoke a Church's exempt status over politics.
While Kissling’s group lodged a complaint against the Archdiocese of Denver, Catholic League president William Donohue announced yesterday that he is calling on the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of Catholics for a Free Choice.
“The IRS provides a tax-exempt status to organizations that serve the public interest,” he said in a statement. “It is the contention of the Catholic League that Catholics for a Free Choice is an anti-Catholic hate group, and therefore forfeits its status as a public charity.”
Donohue said the Catholic League would be supplying the IRS “with the necessary background information.”
Vatican City, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - At the end of today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II expressed his “affectionate participation” in the suffering of the victims of terrorism in Iraq and said that "every day I accompany in prayer the dear Iraqi population who are so intent on rebuilding the institutions of their country."
"I encourage Christians to continue with generosity to offer their own basic contribution for a reconciliation of hearts,” he said.
“I express my affectionate participation in the pain of the families of victims and in the suffering of hostages and of all innocent people struck by the blind barbarity of terrorism," said the Pope
, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations, at a committee meeting on the issue of the Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance in New York, said that religious beliefs and freedom are an enduring resource in the fight against terrorism and that attempts to secularize religious institutions undermine them and society as a whole.
The Archbishop, who defined religious freedom as "man's pursuit of the 'last things', those things that satisfy the deepest, inmost and unfettered longings of the human spirit," said that "religious beliefs and freedom ... should be considered as a positive value and not be manipulated or seen as a threat to peaceful coexistence and mutual tolerance."
Archbishop Migliore said that "religious leaders have a special responsibility in dispelling any misuse or misrepresentation of religious beliefs and freedom. They have in their hands a powerful and enduring resource in the fight against terrorism; and they are called to create and spread a sensitivity which is religious, cultural and social, and which will never turn to acts of terror but will reject and condemn such acts as a profanation.”
“Similarly,” he continued, “public authorities, legislators, judges and administrators carry a grave and evident responsibility to favor peaceful coexistence between religious groups and to avail themselves of their collaboration in the construction of society."
"The attitude of those who would like to confine religious expression to the merely private sphere, ignores and denies the nature of authentic religious convictions," he said.
Believers should be allowed to "maintain appropriate charitable or humanitarian institutions, ... to work in the social, educational and humanitarian field, and to be at the same time religiously distinct, to act in harmony with their respective mission, and without having to disregard any religious commitments or moral values in providing a social good.
“Attempts to secularize or to interfere in the internal affairs of religious institutions would undermine their raison d'être as well as the very fabric of society," he said.
"The Holy See," concluded Archbishop Migliore, will continue to vigorously defend human dignity as well as "freedom of conscience and religious liberty, at both the individual and societal level."
Manchester, United Kingdom, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - The Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire, has issued a teaching guide for voters that says abortion, the destruction of human embryos for research and assisted suicide are wrong, and marriage must be protected as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, reported The Associated Press.
The guide also says Catholics must support the education and protection of children, the dignity of work and the rights of workers. They must ensure the basic needs of all people are met, including health care, housing, food and clothing.
More than 40,000 copies of "Faithful Citizenship: Serving the Common Good" will be being distributed in parishes this weekend. The document is also posted on the diocese’s Web site.
"My role is ... not to tell anyone to vote for any particular candidate," said Bishop John B. McCormack in a statement Monday.
In fact, the document states that "no candidate seems to stand for everything that a faithful citizen believes to be true and good."
Yet Catholics have a moral responsibility to make well-informed decisions that "mirror our desire to be faithful Roman Catholics and good citizens," the bishop said.
Moscow, Russia, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - The Russian Orthodox Church is set to dedicate a new chapel boat on October 31 to St. Vladimir, the ruler who converted Russia to Christianity.
The “floating chapel” will be consecrated by Orthodox Metropolitan German Timofeev of Volgogrado and Kamishinskii, and its mission will be to visit settlements located on the banks of the Volga River where there are no churches or no plans to build one.
The boat will be christened “The Werenfried” in honor of Father Werenfried von Straaten, founder of Aid to the Church in Need, which is based in Germany and has sent assistance to the Russian Orthodox Church on various occasions.
The Orthodox Church has consecrated chapel boats on two other occasions, the “St. Innokentij,” consecrated in 1998, and the “St. Nikolaj,” consecrated in 2000.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - According to figures from local police officials, some 15,000 people participated last Friday in a protest in Madrid against the abortion policies of the Spanish Socialist Worker Party (PSOE). The protest, which took place in front of the Socialist Party’s headquarters, went unreported by most Spanish secular media outlets.
Organized by Doctors for Life and supported by conservative civil rights groups, the protest brought out mothers, fathers, children and entire families from all over Spain.
Organizers said turnout exceeded all expectations. The last such event brought together just 400 people.
During the protest leaders read a statement in defense of human life and calling for support for pregnant mothers. Protesters responded with cheers and applause.
Asunción, Paraguay, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Pastor Cuquejo of Asuncion, Paraguay, called for prayers this week for the country’s leaders so that the wave of violence that has swept over the country might come to an end.
During a Mass of thanksgiving the Archbishop recalled that justice comes from God and Christians have the duty to put it into practice. He said the country today is enveloped in a series of social problems characterized by violence and corruption.
Archbishop Cuquejo also recalled the 26th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate and asked the faithful to pray for the Holy Father, for his health and the work he carries out in this special stage of his life.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Jaume Pujol of Tarragona, Spain, said this week “religious ignorance is widespread” and therefore missionary work is needed not only in faraway lands but also in the cities and towns of Spain itself.
“Unfortunately, this is also mission territory,” the Archbishop wrote in his letter for World Mission Sunday.
He pointed out that “missionary action is the starting point of evangelization” and “Christians, with the testimony of their lives and the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, strive to bring believers and those away from the faith to initial conversion in Jesus Christ.”
Archbishop Pujol indicated that missionaries carry out the first proclamation of the Gospel and that this “provokes questions and doubts in those listeners who do not know or live the good news of the Gospel and initial sympathy and interest in the faith.”
Montevideo, Uruguay, Oct 27, 2004 (CNA) - With national elections just days away, the Permanent Council of the Uruguayan Bishops Conference issued a statement calling on Catholics to vote in the coming elections “without divorcing private and public life” and with a “strong sense of solidarity.”
In a message entitled, “Creating a Governable Country Together,” the bishops recalled that achieving national goals requires “deep ethical roots: without a divorce between public and private life, with a strong sense of solidarity—capable of overcoming growing fractures in society—and which promotes participation.”
“Catholics, in light of the coming elections, have the responsibility to cast their vote in conformity with the living and inspiring pages of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; because no commitment in the life of a Christian can be exempt from the yeast of the Gospel, which is capable of giving flavor even to the troubles and disappointments of life,” they said.
Likewise, the bishops stated that the common good is a “necessary condition for the development of society and individuals. This ‘common good’ does not consist of a mathematical equilibrium or of some far off well being once the cup begins to overflow.”
The bishops added, “The person cannot be reduced to a simple consumer to be manipulated by the market, nor to a set of bar codes for State records, but rather he is an individual with dignity imprinted on his conscience and intellect, and enjoys a freedom capable of acting with responsibility and solidarity.”
The bishops call on Uruguayans to pray for the country this Sunday, October 31, “with faith that God our Father will continue blessing this land and all her sons and daughters and leaders.”