Valletta, Malta, Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II met with Prime Minister Iyad Allawi this morning and encouraged him and the Iraqi people in their efforts to rebuild their country along democratic principles and assured them of his “continued closeness to the Iraqi people, so sorely tried by the tragic sufferings of recent years.”
“I pray for all the victims of terrorism and wanton violence, for their families, and for all those who generously work for the reconstruction of your country,” said the Pope.
The Holy Father also expressed his “wish to encourage the efforts made by the Iraqi people to establish democratic institutions which will be truly representative and committed to defending the rights of all, in complete respect for the ethnic and religious diversity which has always been a source of enrichment for your country.”
The Pope said he was “confident that the Christian community, present in Iraq from apostolic times, will make its own contribution to the growth of democracy and the building of a future of peace in the region.”
“Upon you and your associates, and upon all the beloved people of Iraq, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God” said the Pope at the end of the meeting, imparting his Apostolic blessing.
Prime Minister Allawi then met with Cardinal angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo to discuss “various aspects of the situation in Iraq…in detail, along with prospects for peace and reconciliation that can determine the healing of the deep wounds of the past, and consequential prospects for peace in the region,” according to Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office.
“Attention was also given to the need to ensure full religious freedom and to the contribution that the Christian community can offer for the moral and material reconstruction of the country,” said Navarro-Valls.
“The Prime Minister,” said Navarro-Valls, “deplored the attacks suffered by several Christian churches, ensuring, on behalf of the Government, efforts to restore them.”
Washington D.C., Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - Pro-life groups are not wasting any time. Just hours after President George W. Bush was re-elected to the White House, several pro-life organizations called on Bush to take immediate action in legislating against abortion and establishing a culture of life.
Pollsters have stated that the moral and faith-based vote was the deciding factor in the election.
“The moral conservative and religious voter turned out in droves and has proven to be the backbone of the Republican Party,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue. “Today, the President owes the pro-life movement a huge debt.”
Operation Rescue spent the last three weeks prior to the election in the critical states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, exposing Kerry’s support for abortion. Newman believes that effort helped propel Bush to victory in the election-deciding state of Ohio.
Newman said American voters have given Bush the mandate to end abortion. He urges Bush to appoint pro-life federal judges, and eventually Supreme Court Justices who will strike down Roe v. Wade.
Washington D.C., Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - American Life League president Judie Brown said many pro-life groups are “gleefully” declaring victory following President George W. Bush's re-election, but she does not share in their enthusiasm.
“It is true that Mr. Bush defeated one of the most solidly pro-abortion candidates to ever seek the White House. However, the Bush administration's first term has been less than sterling in terms of total commitment to the pro-life effort,” she said.
Brown pointed out that in the last presidencies in recent memory, whether Republican or Democrat, between 4 and 5 million babies were aborted, and countless others died as the result of chemical abortions and in the science lab.
“The killing continued unabated during Mr. Bush's first term,” she said, “and indications are that abortion on demand will remain decriminalized during the coming four years.
“Thus the status quo on abortion is going to be maintained, as will the ongoing public perception that we have a pro-life president,” she added.
Brown said she fears the malaise that accompanies Bush's re-election “will eat away at the edges of the pro-life battle, without generating a clear victory for the personhood of every innocent human being.
“The definition of what it means to be pro-life will take another hit. Due to decay from within, this could spell the end of what we have known as the ‘pro-life movement’,” she said.
Calling Bush “educable,” Brown said the president could learn that all abortions are bad, not just partial-birth abortions.
“He could learn there is no reason to excuse abortions in alleged cases of rape, incest, threat to the mother's life, or fetal deformity,” she continued, adding that he could pressure Congress to support the Right to Life Act.
“It is the responsibility of every pro-life leader to take whatever steps are needed to provide this education and cease patting Mr. Bush on the back until he adopts a true pro-life position,” she said.
, Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - Results show that 52% of Catholics in the United States voted to re-elect President Bush over Sen. Kerry in Tuesday’s elections. 47% of Catholics voted for Kerry. On their website, Priests for Life reported that Catholics represented 27% of all voters in this year’s presidential election, meaning that 31,065,769 voters were Catholics. Among Catholics who attend Mass weekly Bush won by 56% - 43%.
In two of the swing states, Florida and Ohio, the margin of Bush’s win among Catholics was even greater. In Florida, Bush received 57% of the vote to Kerry’s 42% and in Ohio the split was 55% to 44%.
In both these states, 66% of Catholics who attend Mass weekly voted for Bush.
According to Priest for Life, “the President's agenda of respect for human life, the sanctity of marriage, and a more hopeful America have resonated with Catholic voters.”
Vatican City, Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - Monsignor Ronald P. Herzog, a priest of the diocese of Biloxi and pastor of Immaculate Conception parish, Laurel, Mississippi, has been appointed Bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana, by Pope John Paul II this morning.
Born in Akron, Ohio, April 22, 1942, Msgr. Herzog studied at St. Joseph Seminary, Louisiana, and at the Pontifical College, Josephinum, in Worthington, Ohio. Ordained a priest of the Diocese of Natchez-Jackson, Mississippi in 1968.
Msgr. Herzog held various pastoral offices, was director of the the diocesan Office of Liturgy and appointed pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in 1988. He also served as Military Chaplain of the National Guard.
Sacramento, Calif., Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - Following California voters’ approval of Proposition 71, the embryonic stem cell research bond – dubbed the “clone and kill” bill – the Campaign for California Families have issued a statement condemning it as immoral and indicating that California voters were fooled into voting for it.
“Cloning and destroying human beings is immoral, no matter how young their development,” said Randy Thomasson, CCF's Executive Director. "Human beings have less value when we award some a license to clone and kill others.”
He pointed out that “Prop. 71 makes the people pay biotech companies an unprecedented $3 billion to engage in unethical human experimentation. Embryonic stem cell research goes against the time-honored medical ethics before Christ in the Hippocratic Oath and reaffirmed in the Nuremberg Code after Hitler's atrocities," he said.
“Despite years of trying,” added Thomasson, “there have been no medical successes from human embryonic stem cell research. Instead of discovering medical cures, the harvesting of human embryos for their stem cells has resulted in rejections, mutations and tumors. If we want to cure diseases, we should invest in adult and cord blood stem cell research, which doesn't harm anyone and to date has produced more than 74 medical breakthroughs."
Noting that backers of the bill outspent those opposed by a 100 to 1 ratio, Thomasson said that “Proposition 71 was a money grab by corporate interests,” and that "voters were snookered by millions of dollars in TV commercials that hid the truth and made empty promises.”
“Californians didn't know they were voting in favor of cloning and dissecting the youngest human beings, something the overwhelming majority of people find morally reprehensible," he said in conclusion.
Washington D.C., Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - Broadcasters’ public interest obligations include airing religious programming, said the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in a comment filed with the Federal Communications Commission Nov. 1.
The bishops said recent “treatment of religious programming indicates that local broadcasters are more interested in commercial gain that in serving their communities’ interest in religious matters.”
The comment was based on a survey conducted over the summer by the USCCB Department of Communications. The survey demonstrated that several dioceses have been forced to pay for time for local programming that was once free to them. Dioceses reported that this practice began in the late 1980s.
Other religious programming was discontinued for lack of free airtime, while other programming was “banished to graveyard times” when there are few viewers.
The bishops cited a long-standing FCC policy, which dates to the 1960s, that includes religious programming in broadcasters’ public obligations.
The FCC is expected to reply by Dec. 1.
, Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - George W. Bush’s position against abortion, same-sex marriage and embryonic stem-cell research, and for family values inspired many Ohio Evangelical Christians and Catholics to turn out in large number and to re-elect him President, says a report by Knight Ridder Newspapers.
Ohio's biggest cities voted for Senator John Kerry, but in the suburban and rural areas, the vote was strongly for Bush.
Some pollsters and political analysts said many people turned out to vote on the ballot measure to amend the state constitution to ban homosexual unions, which worked in Bush’s favor. The amendment passed easily, 62 percent to 38 percent. The high conservative turnout for the ballot measure generated a lot of votes for Bush, they said.
Exit polling in Ohio Nov. 2 showed 23 percent of voters cited "moral values" as the most important issue in the election, second only to the 24 percent who cited the economy or jobs, reported Knight Ridder. For those to whom moral values were most important, 85 percent said they voted for Bush. For those most concerned about the economy, 83 percent voted for Kerry.
The poll also indicated that of voters who said they attended church weekly, 64 percent voted for Bush and 36 percent voted for Kerry. Among the 10 percent of voters, who said the most important quality in a president was his religious faith, 95 percent voted for Bush. For the seven percent who cited "intelligence" as the most important quality, 93 percent voted for Kerry.
Similar trends were evident nationwide. According to exit polling conducted for The Associated Press, Bush took 78 percent of the country’s white evangelical and born-again vote, compared to only 21 percent for Kerry.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - During a Mass celebrated for those who gave their lives for the country, Bishop Antonio Baseotto of the Argentinean Military Diocese said the truth about death and about our faith in the resurrection “should be the cornerstone for measuring our values.”
“To remember the end of our days is without doubt, an expression of health wisdom, which the simple and humble also teach us,” he told the faithful gathered at the Stella Maris Cathedral.
Bishop Baseotto recalled that often “we are willing to sacrifice our conscience for a promotion, a new job, or greater economic or social status.”
He emphasized that life has “a definitive end,” and therefore “the feast of All Souls should provide those of us who still journey through time an opportunity to reflect.”
Before concluding, he prayed that this journey “would truly be a time of training, of preparation and apprenticeship for that life which as no end.” Inasmuch as we are guided by Christ, he said, “We journey towards His same end and the same goal.”
Madrid, Spain, Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - During his weekly address, the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Maria Rouco Varela, said the anonymous saints of today “are the authentic builders of what can truly be called progress in today’s Spanish society.”
During the celebration of the Feast of All Saints, the Cardinal recalled that on this day we remember “a vast multitude of the elect from every race, language and nation already rejoicing in the glory of Jesus Christ,” because they faithfully fulfilled His law.
“The saints,” he continued, “constitute the most living and real proof of the truth of the Church in her walk through history, intertwined with the history of man in all of the dimensions in which he is immersed: from that of his most intimate and personal life to his most public, social and political fulfillment.”
Referring to the saints of today, Cardinal Rouco explained that “we stumble upon them all the time, in every corner of the Church,” in our communities, parishes and even in our families.
The saints are “the answer to today’s challenges,” he added, which are dominated by ways of thinking that influence the highest levels of society, in an attempt to establish a vision of mankind devoid of God and the history of salvation.
Lastly, he said the III Diocesan Synod of Madrid would be an effort to follow the call of Pope John Paul II to foster holiness, “the greatest need for the evangelization of the Third Millennium.”
San Salvador, El Salvador, Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador, El Salvador, said this week the money that is generated after new fiscal reforms should benefit the entire population, without regard to political affiliation.
The Archbishop emphasized that tax increases may be justified “but the money must be spent properly. This is a great responsibility. Above all tax revenues should not go to partisan expenses, but rather should be spent in benefit of the population, without regard to political distinctions.”
He called on all business leaders who have expressed their dissatisfaction with the reforms to consider that those who have more should contribute more.
Only when revenues are shared by all can the fiscal reforms be considered to have reached their goal, the Archbishop said.
Madrid, Spain, Nov 4, 2004 (CNA) - During the traditional recitation of the Rosary of the Aurora, Archbishop Braulio Rodriguez of Valladolid, Spain, denounced the use of human embryos “as if this were a panacea for curing diseases.”
During his remarks at the Cathedral, Archbishop Braulio said today’s society is marked by hunger, a lack of peace and solidarity and by inequality. He said Christians encounter difficulties in their struggle against those “who each day rob us of our relationship with God.”
More than 2,000 people gathered at the Cathedral for Mass and the traditional procession and recitation of the Rosary of the Aurora, which is dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.
The recitation of the Rosary of the Aurora dates back to the 17th century and has been promoted by the Dominicans, Marian groups and various Popes, who have attached indulgences to it.