Vatican City, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - This morning Pope John Paul II, receiving Romano Prodi, outgoing president of the European Commission, on the eve of the signing of the European constitution, said that regardless of “whether or not it is recognized in the official documents,” the Christian influence on the formation of Europe, “is an undeniable fact that no historian can forget."
The treaty will be signed tomorrow by representatives from 25 countries that are members of the European Union will also sign the treaty.
"The Holy See," said the Pope, "has promoted the formation of the European Union, before it was juridically structured, and has followed with active interest the subsequent phases. The Holy See has always felt the duty to openly express the just longing of a great number of Christian citizens in Europe who have asked it to show interest," he noted.
"Therefore," he continued, "the Holy See reminded everyone that Christianity, in its different expressions, has contributed to the formation of a common conscience of Europeans and has greatly shaped civilizations.”
Congratulating Prodi for his work in the European Commission, the Pope expressed the hope "the difficulties that have emerged in these days with regard to the new commission find a solution of reciprocal respect in a spirit of harmony among all interested parties."
"May the European Union always express the best of the great traditions of its member states, may it work actively on the international level for peace among peoples and may it offer generous help for the growth of the neediest peoples of other continents," said the Holy Father.
Cologne, Germany, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - A Vatican official has confirmed that despite his frail health, Pope John Paul II “is sure” he will visit Cologne for the next World Youth Day which will be held there in 2005.
“The Pope is sure that in August of next year he will be at World Youth Day,” said Archbishop Renato Boccardo, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and organizer of the event.
According to Archbishop Boccardo, the date is firmly set in the Pontiff’s calendar. Boccardo was visiting Cologne to scout the site where the Pope will celebrate the final Mass of World Youth Day on August 21, 2005, before an expected 800,000 people.
, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - The protection of human life is the first principle on which people must base their decision for the upcoming elections, said Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington in a pre-election letter to Catholics.
“It is simply not possible to serve and promote the common good of our nation by voting for a candidate who, once in office, will do nothing to limit or restrict the deliberate destruction of innocent human life,” he wrote.
The bishop added that the protection of human life, from conception to natural death, is more than a Catholic issue. “It is an issue of fundamental morality, rooted in both the natural law and the divine law.”
In the letter, published in today’s issue of the Herald, the bishop said Catholics must follow their conscience when voting, but their conscience must guided by critical principles, which include the protection of human life, the promotion of family life, the pursuit of social justice and the practice of global solidarity.
However, the basis for all these principles is the protection of human life, he said, “since without it the other three would be rendered meaningless.
“To be a faithful Catholic necessarily means that one is pro-life and not pro-choice,” wrote the bishop. “No Catholic can claim to be a faithful member of the Church while advocating for, or actively supporting, direct attacks on innocent human life.
“Let me be clear,” he continued, “to vote for a candidate precisely because of his or her pro-abortion stance is an instance of formal cooperation in a grave evil. Such formal cooperation is, according to the constant teaching of the Church, never morally permissible.”
The bishop explained that “in certain circumstances, it is morally permissible to vote for a candidate who supports some immoral practices while opposing other immoral practices.”
This type of voting, called “material cooperation with evil” is morally permissible, only if there is a proportionate reason, he explained. “Intrinsically evil acts such as abortion or research on stem cells taken from human embryos cannot be placed on the same level as debates over war or capital punishment, for example,” he said.
If, for example, a candidate supports abortion in a limited number of cases but opposes it otherwise, a Catholic may vote for such a candidate over another, who is unwilling to place any restrictions on abortion, he explained.
The bishop concluded his letter asking Catholics to pray and fast that “the citizens of our nation will elect those leaders who will renew our communities, our state and our society by enabling all citizens to restore the culture of life.”
Vatican City, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - Inaugurating the first world congress of ecclesiastical organizations committed to promoting justice and peace yesterday, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of State, noted the injustices and humiliations suffered by people around the world and said that the faithful have the responsibility to continue announcing the Gospel of justice and peace.
The conference, entitled "Announcing the Gospel of Justice and Peace," is being attended by 300 representatives of various Church organizations from 92 countries, and delegates from 15 regional episcopal conferences and other international bodies.
"Throughout its history," said Cardinal Sodano, "the Church, as an institution and through its faithful, has always been committed to promoting justice and peace. We have the responsibility to follow this path, announcing the Gospel of Christ which is the Gospel of justice and peace."
Since Pope Paul VI’s statement in his 1967 Encyclical "Populorum progressio," that "the world was ill," said the cardinal, “the illness has gotten worse and the injustices and violence have multiplied.”
“All we have to do,” he said, “is think about the places where humiliation has become a way of life; in the areas where war, guerrilla warfare and terrorism spread; in refugee camps; in those in exile; in racial and religious discrimination; in the work place where people feel like they are being used; in the lack of political freedom and freedom to participate in unions and in so many situations where there is no justice and peace."
Even though we mustn’t overlook the fact that "the economic, health, work, cultural and spiritual conditions have improved in many parts,” noted Cardinal Sodano, “so many people are subject to human exploitation and they must not be seen as another statistic to be studied in a cold way."
The objective of the congress, organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, “is to find more suitable and effective ways to present once again the pastoral activity of the Church in society and to be able to confront the great challenges of today," said the council president, Cardinal Renato Martino.
, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - Addressing the Plenary Session of the U.N. General Assembly yesterday on ‘A Culture of Peace,’ Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Holy See permanent observer to the U.N. said that peace, which is often so fragile, can be reinforced by cultivating an awareness in people of goodwill that they are “architects, builders and even bridges” of peace.
"It is very clear that the world needs peace now as much as ever," he noted. "Since 1967, the Popes too have played their part, sending a Message on the first day of January every year to all people of good will, each time proposing a fresh theme concerning peace and how to achieve it."
Archbishop Migliore noted that "the usually more dominant culture appears sometimes to trigger cultural reactions against true peace and create suspicions about it. Similarly, globalization seems unable to prevent threats to peace because cultural revivalism tends to create walls that separate people from one another."
"The defense of peace, so often a fragile entity, must be reinforced," he said. "This can be achieved by cultivating in the minds of all people of good will the imperative to become in some way agents of peace. They are its architects, its builders and even its bridges."
“We have to acknowledge that there is already a foundation to build upon in the area of inter-religious cooperation,” said Msgr. Migliore citing UNESCO meetings around the world that “covered areas such as terrorism, conflict resolution, HIV/AIDS, the role of religious leaders in easing tensions, in counteracting the hijacking of religious values for use as a pretext to justify violence and in supporting disarmament and non-proliferation."
He said that the Holy See "calls for a more energetic commitment to underline the deep linkages between the promotion of the culture of peace and the strengthening of the disarmament and non-proliferation process," said Archbishop Migliore.
St. Louis, Mo., Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - An abortion-rights group has asked the IRS to revoke the public charity status of yet another archdiocese. Catholics for a Free Choice claims that the Archdiocese of St. Louis has attempted to influence the Nov. 2 presidential election.
The Washington-based group filed a similar complaint against the Archdiocese of Denver earlier this week.
The second complaint, filed Oct. 26, cites an Oct. 1 pastoral letter by Archbishop Raymond Burke, who wrote that Catholics should vote for candidates whose positions are in line with Catholic Church teaching with regard to abortion, euthanasia, reproductive cloning, same-sex marriage and embryonic stem-cell research.
Public charities, says group president Frances Kissling, are prohibited by law from acting for or against political candidates.
"Public money should be used for charitable purposes, not for telling people who to vote for implicitly or explicitly," Kissling said.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis declined to comment.
Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - Several Catholic groups have placed ads in The Pittsburgh Catholic to counter a previous ad, which says Catholics should not base their decision for the upcoming presidential election on the issue of abortion only.
Pax Christi USA says Catholics also must consider war, poverty, health care, capital punishment, immigration, racism and other issues because "life does not end at birth."
The group is based in Erie, Pa., and includes more than 200 Catholic organizations. It has run full-page newspaper ads in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Five groups, opposed to Pax Christi, have placed ads of their own in the diocesan newspaper.
"We are scandalized that many Catholics, including local priests and religious, have joined with Pax Christi USA in what we believe is their veiled, back door endorsement of an adamant pro-abortion candidate for the presidency," says one ad, placed by Catholic United for Integrity in Voting.
A full-page ad from LIFEPAC mentions a presidential candidate by name. It says Catholics must oppose five social issues: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning and homosexual marriage. It then says the only candidate to meet this criteria is George W. Bush.
Four statewide candidates have placed ads in the paper and and two voter guides also are scheduled to appear in tomorrow’s edition.
The Pittsburgh Catholic accepts partisan political ads as long as they don't oppose church teachings or attack an opposing candidate.
Burlington, Vt., Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - Catholics in Vermont have been asked to abstain from giving the sign of peace and receiving Communion from the chalice for six months as a “protective measure” from the flu.
"Because of the flu vaccine shortage, I am requesting that, as a protective measure in the Diocese of Burlington, we do not give the ‘Sign of Peace’ or the chalice for Communion, starting Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004, and remaining in effect until Easter Sunday, March 27, 2005," said Bishop Kenneth Angell of Burlington, Vermont, in an official written notice to the state’s 130 Catholic parishes.
The bishop ends his memo: "Praying for the good health of all, especially those most at risk."
Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine, is planning to meet with priests next month to discuss flu-related concerns.
There was a shortage of flu vaccine this year because the bulk of this year’s supply was found to be contaminated with bacteria.
Catholics are the largest Christian group in Vermont. The state’s other Christian denominations have not yet taken such precautions.
Rome, Italy, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - Arguing before the Constitutional Court, the chief lawyer of the state of Italy, Antonio Palatiello, defended the presence of crucifixes in public schools against a petition by an Italian mother to have them removed, saying it was “for the good of the country.”
According to Palatiello, the crucifix “is the sign” of the special alliance between the state and the Church and “not of a preference for a particular religion.”
He added that the crucifix is “the visible sign of this alliance for the promotion of man and the good of the country,” since the Church is “the only international actor mentioned in the Constitution.”
The Italian Constitution states, “The Church and the State are independent and sovereign,” and “all religious confessions are free before the law.”
“It would be disconcerting at the very least if the State, after having established this special alliance (with the Church), would have the nerve to remove the emblem,” argued Palatiello.
A lower court in Venice sent the case to the Constitutional Court for a decision after it was brought forth by a mother in Padua who sued a local school for exposing her son to religious symbols.
Last year, Adel Smith, the controversial leader of the “Union of Muslims in Italy” demanded the removal of all crucifixes from public schools but his request was denied by a lower court.
San Juan, Puerto Rico, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez of San Juan reminded Puerto Ricans, who will vote for a new governor on November 2, that they have a moral duty to vote.
The Archbishop called on citizens to go to the polls even though they may not think the candidates represent their ideals and values “because not to participate would be to renounce our membership in the Puerto Rican family and its future.”
“It would be to contribute to the deterioration and corruption of our democratic system,” he said in a special statement.
Likewise he expressed his hope that the electoral process would be “clean and peaceful” and that the candidates elected would be humble and would unselfishly serve the people. He called those who lose to a “spirit of generosity.”
“Before, during and after the elections, let us overcome the disgrace of violence and let us work for a culture of life and of peace,” he added.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata, Argentina, warned this week the country is suffering from a “continuous process of de-Christianization,” with numerous legal attempts to rearrange “the structure of society.”
“The political lobby groups here are both cultural and ideological and in a clear but hidden way they are attempting to erode the traditional foundation of Argentinean culture,” said the Archbishop in his television program, “Keys to a Better World.”
Currently there are several legislative initiatives in Buenos Aires that seek to legalize same-sex unions, open the door to the legalization of abortion and finance sex-ed programs that promote promiscuity and homosexual relations.
The Archbishop exhorted the faithful to “wake up” to what is happening and he called on them to “clearly express your faith, especially in situations in which the problem is not exactly dogmatic but rather the defense of the natural order and the basic principles upon which an authentic civilization is built.”
He also denounced a certain “type of globalization” that seeks “to suffocate the presence of Christian thought in the lives of the people” through “a sort of anti-Christian ideological crusade or a massive attempt at persecution, although for now it may not involve bloodshed.”
According to the Archbishop, the lobby groups denounced last week by Cardinal Renato Martino “aim their darts especially at those Catholics who dare to express their Christian convictions with complete coherence in their cultural or political roles in the life of the society.”
Paris, France, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - Thousands of young Catholics from across Europe will be pouring into Paris over the course of the next week. No, it’s not World Youth Day. It’s part of a new European movement, referred to as the Urban Mission Program, and it will see these fervent Catholics spread the Gospel message in Paris cafes, parks and street corners.
The five-year program is a response to the call of Pope John Paul II for a New Evangelization.
It was conceived and developed by five European cardinals to reach out to Europeans who no longer practice their Catholic faith and to rekindle interest in the Catholic faith and the Church on a continent that has become disaffected with the Church in recent centuries.
The movement began last year in Vienna and will continue over the next three years in Lisbon, Brussels and Budapest.
Participants gathering around Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris told Reuters of the inspiration they find in such large faith gatherings. In their greeting packs, participants were given a paperback New Testament to give to a stranger during the week.
Participants can also choose from among 158 different talks to attend about religious and social issues. Among the speakers is former International Monetary Fund managing director Michel Camdessus and Francis Mer, who will discuss “Christians and Money.”
About 2,000 Catholic families in Paris are housing participants until the weeklong event ends, Nov. 1.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 28, 2004 (CNA) - Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Papal envoy to the 48th International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, said Pope John Paul II is “an example of how the highest moral authority of the world works, despite his pain, for the good of humanity.”
After emphasizing that “the successor of the Pope and his permanence at the helm of the Vatican are in the hands of God,” the Cardinal called the Pope’s attitude “admirable” as he continues working despite his deteriorating health.
Cardinal Tomko added that as the leader for 26 years of more than a billion Catholics around the world, John Paul’s Pontificate is “unique in history, compelling and intense, and we can summarize it by simply saying magnificent.”