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Archive of November 1, 2004

Remembering Christian roots "fundamental" for Europe’s future, says Pope after Buttiglione steps down

Vatican City, Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - After praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope John Paul II stressed the need for Europe to take into account its Christian roots was “fundamental for future developments of the Union.”

The Pope’s comments come the day after Rocco Buttiglione, the Italian nominee to the European commission, decided to withdraw from the post after he had been rejected by a European Union parliamentary committee for holding Catholic views on marriage and homosexuality, which were considered inflammatory.
 
"To take into account the Christian roots of the European continent means to avail oneself of a spiritual patrimony that remains fundamental for future developments of the Union," said the Pope.
    
"I hope that in the years to come Christians will continue to bring to all circles of European institutions the gospel message that is the guarantee of peace and collaboration between all citizens in the shared pursuit of common good," he continued.
 
In an interview on Sunday, Buttiglione, a close friend of the Holy Father, said that anti-Christian views were the only remaining acceptable prejudice in Europe.
 
"I sparked a battle, that has only just started and will continue," he told Italian daily La Repubblica. "Europe is scared of itself, of opening a discussion about what it really is,” said Buttiglione. “Instead it swings between two states which cannot identify it: its economy and political correctness."

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Thousands turn out for the D.C. funeral of Cardinal Hickey

Washington D.C., Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - More than 2,500 gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Oct. 30 for the funeral mass of James A. Cardinal Hickey.

Cardinal Hickey was renowned for his work on behalf of the poor and immigrants during his 58 years as a priest, 20 of which he served as archbishop of Washington.

Cardinal Hickey retired in 2000 and died Oct. 24, surrounded by clerics he considered friends; he was 84.
 
A large number of clergy and religious were in attendance. A procession of priests, bishops and cardinals reportedly passed through a cordon of the Knights of Columbus in ceremonial capes and plumed hats, and more than a dozen pews were filled with nuns.
 
The current archbishop of Washington, Theodore E. Cardinal McCarrick, delivered the homily.
 
"He cared about the poor, and he cared about eradicating prejudice and bias," said Bishop Anthony M. Pilla of Cleveland, where Cardinal Hickey has served as bishop before being named to Washington.

Priests who concelebrated the mass included many who had studied under Cardinal Hickey or were ordained by him.

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Pope to meet with Iraqi PM at Vatican

Vatican City, Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II is to receive Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in a private audience at the Vatican on Thursday November 4.

In last Wednesday’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope set aside words of support and consolation for the Iraqi people, whose suffering he shared in and for whom he prayed for everyday.

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Spokane diocese may face bankruptcy

Washington D.C., Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - The Diocese of Spokane may file for bankruptcy protection if attorneys do not reach a settlement with 28 alleged victims of clergy sex abuse, said Bishop William Skylstad.

The bishop sent a letter sent to parishioners warning of the potential bankruptcy last week.

The diocese is expected to meet this week with the alleged victims of former priest Patrick O'Donnell, who has admitted to sexually abusing boys. Negotiations are scheduled to last four days.
 
If an agreement is not reached, the cases could go to trial. The bishop said in his letter that bankruptcy protection would provide another option to "bring fairness, justice and equity to the victims and enable the diocese to continue its ministry and mission."

The first of five lawsuits, alleging that the diocese did not do enough to protect children from O’Donnell, is scheduled for trial Nov. 29. O'Donnell, 62, worked as a priest for the diocese until he was removed in 1986.
 
Between 1985 and January 2003, the Diocese of Spokane settled six lawsuits involving eight victims, with an average settlement of $60,000. Money for those settlements came from the diocese's insurance company or the accused priests. The diocese settled five more claims since then.
 
The diocese now faces at least 19 lawsuits, involving 58 plaintiffs, who have accused nine diocesan priests and two Jesuits.

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Controversial new book gives Church views on sex

London, England, Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - A controversial new book is encouraging married Catholics to make love more often in an effort to offset "impotence and frigidity" and address papal concerns over declining birth-rates among Italian Catholics, reported The London Telegraph.
 
“It's A Sin Not To Do It,” is written by Italian theologians Roberto Beretta and Elisabetta Broli, who also write regularly for the Italian bishops' magazine, Avvenire.

Bullet points on the jacket cover underline the central message: "Sex? God invented it. Original sin? Sex has nothing to do with it. Without sex there is no real marriage."
 
"When people think of the Church and sex, they think of prohibitions and taboos," Beretta told the Telegraph. "But there is a very different and positive side to Church doctrine which needs to be emphasized."

The book includes passages from papal statements on sexuality, and pronouncements from cardinals who advocate a "healthy Catholic materialism" about marital sex.
 
Beretta told The Telegraph: "The Church is not against sex. … In view of the trivialisation of sex and the rise of impotence and frigidity in consequence, as well as the increasing number of only children, it is better for the Church to promote sex in the right circumstances, instead of just focusing on prohibitions and perversions."

“It's A Sin Not To Do It” also features an interview with Ersilio Cardinal Tonini, who emphasizes that "the Church is not an enemy of the flesh." He says Catholic doctrine has always defended the "nobility of sexuality," and considered it as a "treasure" of humanity.
 
"Some people might find [the book] a little direct,” said Beretta. “But at least after reading this book, they will have a balanced picture of what the Church actually thinks about sex."

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Catholic vote should be based on issue of abortion and same-sex marriage, says bishop

, Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - Bishop David A. Zubik of Green Bay issued a note in church bulletins this week urging Catholics to vote in the presidential election and to base their vote foremost on opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
 
In his letter, also published in the diocesan newspaper, the Compass, the bishop dismissed the distinction that Catholic politicians have drawn between their Catholic faith and their public life.
 
"Some political figures in this election have asserted that there is a natural divide between their religious beliefs and their political views," he wrote. "I argue that [this] is patently false. [It] goes against the fabric of what it means to be a person of faith."
 
"When you go to your local polls, don't leave God outside," Bishop Zubik wrote. "Remember that God created marriage. It's not a lifestyle choice that seeks to make marriage by law something God never intended marriage to be."
 
The bishop stressed that he was not endorsing any particular candidates.

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Pope to return relics to Orthodox Church after 800 years

Istanbul, Turkey, Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II will return the relics of two of the Great Doctors of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Gregory Nazianzen, to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who will travel to Rome on November 26 to receive them.

The relics, which were carried to Rome by crusaders after the sacking of Constantinople in 1204, will be handed back to the Patriarch during a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica on November 27, and will be accompanied by Vatican officials on their trip to Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), according to reports by James Helicke of Associated Press.
 
Patriarch Bartholomew, who is the first among equals among the Orthodox patriarchs, asked for the relics when he met the Pope in June.

"This is a high point of friendship between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches," said the Patriarch, who has engaged with the Holy Father in dialogue of reconciliation between Orthodox and Catholics. "This is truly historic," he said.

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Iraqi Christians thankful for Pope’s concern

, Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - The Vatican News Agency Fides reported last week Christians in Iraq have expressed their gratitude to Pope John Paul II for his words of comfort regarding the situation in their country.  “Iraqi Christians are grateful to the Pope for his words of encouragement which strengthen our faith and hope amidst so much hardship and suffering” Fr Nizar Semaan, a Catholic priest in Mosul told Fides after the Pope had a special message for Christians in Iraq at the end of his general audience on Wednesday, October 27.

According to Fr. Semaan, “Our history as Christians of Iraq is a story of hope, and we are sure that these dark times will end. Why are we sure? Because although Christians are leaving the country, they are not going for good. They do not sell their homes or businesses. They leave to escape the unbearable situation but they intend to come back and live in Iraq.”

He also recalled that, “For the Church in Iraq a major priority has always been to foster dialogue and peaceful co-existence. We believe and we are confident that peace will be restored”.

In his general audience, the Pope said, “Every day in prayer I accompany the beloved people of Iraq engaged in rebuilding their national institutions. At the same time I encourage Christians to continue with generosity to offer their fundamental contribution to promote reconciliation of hearts. Lastly I express deepest sympathy with the families of victims and hostages and all the innocent people stricken by the blind barbarity of terrorism”.

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Spanish bishops slam government approval of assisted reproduction law

Madrid, Spain, Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - In response to government approval of law that allows the “production” of embryos with practically no restrictions and opens the door to research using human embryos, the Spanish bishops issued a statement reiterating their rejection of the law, which “contradicts the dignity of man and his right to life.”

In their statement, the Bishops recalled that “the production of human beings in the laboratory, regardless of the purpose, contradicts the dignity of the person and is ethically inadmissible.”

Likewise, they emphasized that “the experimentation with these human beings ‘left over’ from fertilization processes is another attack against their personal dignity” and they recalled, as they said in May of 2004, that “to defrost these ‘leftover’ embryos in order to revive them and later take their lives in the harvesting of stem cells for research is a gravely illicit act that cannot be justified for any supposedly therapeutic reasons.”

The bishops also recalled that “research with stem cells from adults is a real alternative” that “does not pose any ethical problems.”

Lastly, the statement pointed out that “as noble as the purpose may be, the production, manipulation and destruction of human embryos is morally unacceptable.  Human beings can never be used as instruments.”

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Colombian government offers to negotiate with rebels at Apostolic Nunciature

, Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - The Vice President of the Bishops Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Augusto Castro, called on the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) to consider the government’s proposal to hold negotiations at the Apostolic Nunciature.

Archbishop Castro heads the Church commission which has been in contact with the rebels in order to help bring about an agreement that will secure the release of hostages.

Speaking on Radio Caracol, the Archbishop said, “This proposal is in response to the need to find solutions at a time in which we were all worried we had reached a dead-end.”

Colombia’s president, Alvaro Uribe, proposed this weekend the possibility of a meeting between the government’s chief negotiator for peace, Luis Carlos Restrepo, and representatives of FARC at the Apostolic Nunciature for a maximum period of five days in order to finalize a humanitarian agreement.

The government wants the FARC to free policemen and soldiers that have been kidnapped, as well as that of ex-presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three US advisors.  The FARC wants the government to release 50 rebel soldiers from prison.

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Archbishop calls on Uruguayans to fulfill their civic duty

Montevideo, Uruguay, Nov 1, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Nicolas Cotugno of Montevideo, Uruguay, reminded citizens who went to the polls yesterday to elect a new president that elections are “a serious commitment to the Lord and to our brothers and sisters” to “collaborate in the building of a social reality that is in greater conformity to the Gospel message.”

The Archbishop warned that “in this normal polarization which is part of every electoral process, we should not forget for an instant that God is our Father and that we are all brothers and sisters journeying through history towards the Kingdom.”

“As brothers and sisters we should be humble in our opinions, especially if they differ” because only thus “can we truly seek out the truth and the greatest good for all,” he said.

In “our Christian communities,” he went on, “this should be an opportunity to grow in faith and in fraternity.  Therefore it is important that we keep an attitude of affirming that which we share more than that which divides us, thus seeking out a consensus whenever possible.”

“The most important thing is not winning, but seeking out the best solution for our country’s problems,” he added.  “What we are deciding is the future of the Uruguayan people, their happiness or unhappiness.”

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