Vatican City, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II, receiving bishops this morning from the Episcopal Conference of the Indian Ocean (CEDOI), invited "Christian people to live the just-begun Year of the Eucharist as an intense time of encounters with Christ," and stressed the need for well formed priests and laity, and the “harmonious development” of families.
The Pope emphasized that an "authentic spiritual communion" between the bishops is necessary due to "the diversity of human and religious situations of your region" and "also the great distances that separate your dioceses."
CEDOI is composed of one Islamic republic (the Comoros Islands), two Commonwealth republics (Seychelles and Mauritius), an overseas French department which is also an ultra-peripheral region of Europe (La Reunion) and a French territorial community (the island of Mayotte).
The Year of the Eucharist, said the Holy Father, is a time to "discover in this incomparable treasure that Jesus left us the joy and goodness of the loving presence of the Savior" and a time to "rediscover the meaning of Sunday and the need to make it holy, notably by regular participation in Sunday Mass."
The Pope called the formation of future priests "a challenge" for the Church, and encouraged seminary formators "in their precious service" of seeing that seminaries "become the place of a serious discernment of vocations and an authentic community formation to the ministerial priesthood."
He urged the bishops to re-evaluate the pastoral ministry for vocations and to make it “an essential concern in your dioceses."
He also urged them to care for the spiritual lives of their priests and to give them a solid foundation upon which to build, especially "through assiduous prayer life and the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. ... Be close to them through welcoming, listening, and shared friendship so they do not feel isolated or misunderstood."
The Holy Father said that lay people with "a solid religious formation" will communicate the Gospel message with their presence and work in society, "in the presence of other religions and also with the activity of sects," and encourage other disciples of Christ to give witness to their faith.
He added that "inculturation of the Gospel message is a task of great importance," and said that "for people to progress peacefully inter-religious dialogue is also a necessity."
In concluding the Pope said that "attention to families and to their harmonious development, is one of your pastoral priorities," especially because "societal evolutions today contribute to making family structures fragile."
He urged the bishops to insist on "the value of marriage and the family in God's plan," stating that families "are the privileged place for forming young people and for transmitting moral and spiritual values. The human and spiritual formation of young people is urgent in order to respond to the challenges of witnessing to the Gospel today," he said.
Vatican City, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II, in a meeting with Teresian Carmelite Missionaries this morning, re-affirmed that the challenge of consecrated life is "to make Christ present in the world through personal witness," and that “we can be inspired by the Eucharist” to fulfill this challenge.
"You must inspire in all your sisters true 'passion for the Church: God and our neighbors,' so that every community may enrich the local church and make the marvels of God visible 'with the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world'," said the Pope to the participants in the order’s 13th General Chapter.
"I reminded the entire Church of the central and irreplaceable nature of the Eucharist in Christian life, in order be faithful to the vocation to sanctity,” said the Holy Father, who added that he was sure that because of their contemplative spirit, the missionaries will “make the Blessed Sacrament the pinnacle of spiritual life and an inspiration for every missionary and apostolic project.”
“In effect,” he concluded, “in the Blessed Sacrament we encounter Christ, and therefore, it is a privileged point of encounter for souls in love with Him."
Vatican City, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - During a meeting today of the Coordinating Council Between Pontifical Academies, founded by Pope John Paul II in 1995, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri read the Holy Father’s address to the meeting, whose theme was “The Way of Beauty,” in which the Pope spoke of the artistic patrimony inspired by the beauty of Christ.
The Pope called the meeting “a privileged itinerary for the encounter between the Christian faith and the cultures of our times," and pointed out that the Church, over 2,000 years, "has traveled in many ways the paths of beauty" and has encouraged, inspired and accompanied art and artists in fields such as architecture, sculpture, painting, miniatures, musical works, literature and the theater.
"Could mankind today," asked the Holy Father, "enjoy such a vast artistic patrimony if the Christian community had not encouraged and supported the creativity of countless artists, proposing to them, as a model and source of inspiration, the beauty of Christ, the splendor of the Father?"
Thanking artists for their work, the Pope encouraged them to help "promote a new Christian humanism" which could become "an itinerary of dialogue and peace among peoples."
The Coordinating Council Between Pontifical Academies, is comprised of the presidents of the Pontifical Academies of St. Thomas Aquinas, Theology, the Immaculata, the International Marian, Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi of the Pantheon, Roman Academy of Archeology and the "Cultorum Martyrum" Academy.
Washington D.C., Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - Senior White House Advisor Karl Rove confirmed in an interview yesterday on FOX News Sunday that President George W. Bush intends to support the Alliance for Marriage’s Federal Marriage Amendment.
Last February, the Alliance for Marriage drafted the Federal Marriage Amendment and won Bush’s endorsement. They also successfully spearheaded votes in both Houses of Congress, holding every member of Congress accountable to voters and positioning marriage as a pivotal issue in the 2004 elections.
"The constitutional problem created by almost a decade of activist lawsuits to destroy our marriage laws demands a constitutional fix,” said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage. “Our Federal Marriage Amendment will protect marriage while leaving all issues of benefits to the democratic process in the states."
Denver, Colo., Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - The former editor of the National Catholic Register, Francis X. Maier, says millions of Democrats across the country voted Republican in the last presidential election because they did not recognize in the party the traditional values, for which it once stood. His comment was published recently in the Rocky Mountain News of Colorado.
Currently chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver, Maier draws on the lived experience of his wife and her family, for whom “being a Catholic meant being a Democrat, and being a Democrat meant fighting for the poor, the homeless, racial and ethnic minorities, the unemployed,” and the unborn.
However, he says, she hasn’t voted for a major Democratic candidate in more than 25 years.
Maier admits that he and his wife, who have a disabled son, have struggled many times with the choice of voting Democratic since Roe vs. Wade, especially since “Democratic policies often benefit the disabled in ways Republican policies don’t.”
However, abortion is an overriding issue, he adds. “No matter how much good we try to do, we can’t outrun the effects of that most intimate form of violence against women and children,” he says. “Not so long ago, leading Democrats understood this.”
Maier, regarded as an acute Catholic analyst in the U.S., points to former Pennsylvania governor Robert P. Casey as a politician who “embodied the deepest ideals of the Democratic Party: pro-worker; pro-minority; pro-economic and social justice; and also thoroughly pro-life, from conception to natural death.”“In arguing for the rights of the unborn child, [Casey] worried that the Democratic Party was becoming ‘little more than an auxiliary’ of the abortion industry,” Maier writes.
“For his candor, the Clinton machine publicly humiliated him at the 1992 Democratic Convention,” says Maier, while fellow Catholic Democrats looked the other way.
Maier states that “hundreds of thousands of traditional Democrats, barred from any real voice in the party, have simply left.”
Maier also cites Casey’s 1996 autobiography, in which the late governor warned that abortion and other sociocultural issues “are central to the resurgence of the Republicans, central to the national implosion of the Democrats, central to the question of whether there will be a third party.
“[The] Democrats’ national decline – or, better, their national disintegration – will continue relentlessly and inexorably until they come to grips with these values issues, primarily abortion,” Casey wrote.
, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - Twenty-five Catholic couples share about their relationships and how they met on a Catholic Web site called AveMariaSingles.com in a new book, called “We Met Online!”
According to the publishers, these stories will help readers understand what one might be doing right or wrong in seeking a spouse and what it takes to succeed in meeting the right person online.
Publishers say these accounts offer hope for single Catholics who feel they will never meet someone and for those who seek love in a married vocation, but have not yet met the right person for marriage.The book is selling for $18.69 on the Ave Maria Singles Web site.
Rome, Italy, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - A poll conducted by Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper reveals that Italians are overwhelmingly opposed to the notion of “same-sex marriage” and even more so to the idea of homosexual couples adopting children.
The poll, which was conducted in the midst of European debate over the Spanish government’s legalization of same-sex marriage, shows that 61% of Italians reject the idea of same-sex marriage, while only 31% approved.
Only 21% of Italians approved of the idea of adoption of children by homosexual couples.
Spain became the third country in the world to legalize homosexual marriage. The other two are Holland and Belgium.
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, reminded believers this week that the resurrection of Christ “drives Christians to be dynamic and bold, free and open, freed from the slavery to material things and from the sloth of today’s world.” During Sunday Mass at the Archdiocesan Cathedral, the Cardinal said, “Our life should be that of a pilgrim on a continuous journey, leaving our home in order to arrive at our definitive city, with intermediary stages. We are all aware of the Biblical symbolism of the ‘foreigner’ applied to Christians who live in the present time and space, yearning to return to their definitive home.”
According to Cardinal Rivera, “The present is important and should be lived with intensity,” but “the yearning for our definitive home should lead us to relativize the present, knowing that the only absolute is God, who we will see, not in signs or images, but as He truly is.”
At the conclusion of the Mass, the Archbishop commented on the presidential elections in the US, expressing his confidence that leaders “will ensure that our fellow countrymen and all immigrants, not only Mexicans, will be treated with dignity.”
“One of the requirements leaders have is to care for their people, to protect human rights,” he recalled, adding that immigrants “are not criminals” but rather “they are people in search of work.”
Havana, Cuba, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - The latest edition of the official Catholic magazine of the Archdiocese of Havana, “Palabra Nueva,” called on Cubans to banish violence from the culture, because “to prevail with force and violence through the imposition of fear is no triumph as human beings.”
In his editorial column, Orlando Marquez, the magazine’s editor, said that to apply force through fear makes us “less humane.” “We don’t realize it perhaps, but we have been wounded and society reflects it,” he wrote.
“Social and political intolerance,” he continued, gives birth to violence and intolerance, cultivating in people’s minds the erroneous idea that “to be authoritarian and harsh, to say no and to be inflexible, is the only way to triumph and be respected in this world.” “We must break with this culture of physical, verbal and psychological violence,” said Marquez, because those who shout the loudest or are inflexible and authoritarian are not more important than others.
Marquez lamented that Cuban society is not compassionate, and that even at the highest levels, “they talk about peace but they don’t act peacefully or compassionately.” “The language of war and of force surrounds us every day from the moment we wake, in our schools and on television.”
In the midst of such a situation, the magazine proposes “fostering good will among all citizens,” banishing violence through a culture of life, which leads to compassion, authentic tolerance, dialogue and hope.
Lastly, Marquez recalled that “only respecting one’s own life and that of one’s neighbor, and acting in good will can one remain hopeful about the future of society.”
Lima, Peru, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, called on all Peruvians this week to learn to draw close to the mystery of the Eucharist, to prepare themselves to receive Christ and to live in true communion.
In his weekly radio reflection, Cardinal Cipriani spoke of the Year of the Eucharist and warned that the world has little to offer for building up communion. The things of this world “have no soul,” he said, and cannot become “acts of communion” because “they lack the true presence of faith.”
In this sense, he acknowledged that, because God became man and continues to be present in this world in the consecrated Host, the mystery of the Eucharist has so much light and wisdom that there is a risk it may not be understood by some.
Thus he emphasized the importance of learning to draw close to the mystery: “If I do not prepare myself, the mystery is too brilliant, it blinds me and I end up saying: God does not exist, the Eucharist is a fantasy. I think we need to educate ourselves in order to respectfully approach this great mystery of love,” he added.
Cardinal Cipriani underscored that preparation begins be recovering the value of silence, “which facilitates entering into that world of the mystery.” “As long as we do not learn to mediate, to try to have that relationship with God who is the mystery, it will be very difficult for that living presence of Christ to break through the tremendous noise that covers this earth from one end to the other.”
According to the Cardinal, silence, as well has his ability to see others with the eyes of unity and fraternity, has made Pope John Paul II a great leader and made people listen to him. “He is a man who with that sharp glance can discover the mystery of the presence of Christ in the problems of violence and injustice, peace, the economy, sports; with his sharp vision of faith,” he underscored.
La Paz, Bolivia, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops Conference of Bolivia and Archbishop of Santa Cruz, Cardinal Julio Terrazas, called on candidates for the upcoming local elections on December 5 to express their commitments to defend life and human dignity.The Cardinal exhorted candidates to refrain from mudslinging and making promises “they are not going to keep.”
He called on them to “defend life, to seek to overcome” the culture of death which has spread to “every corner of our country.”
He also warned of the lack of human dignity in Bolivian society. “Life in our neighborhoods is so difficult, so inhumane in our rural communities and so disrespected in our cities. Lives are sold, exposed and traded with no respect for the conscience and heart of each person,” the Cardinal said.
Likewise he pointed out, “We cannot lose ourselves in useless discussions, but rather we must keep our eyes fixed upon the kingdom of God, on that presence of the Lord who calls us to remain on our feet and who desires equality, justice, freedom and love.”
Vatican City, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is among the liturgical events to be presided over by Pope John Paul II between now and the end of the year.
This morning, the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Holy Father released the schedule of events which will be presided over by the Pope for the rest of the year.
- Thursday, 11: Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 11:30 a.m. for the repose of the souls of the cardinals and bishops who died this year.
- Saturday, 13: At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, Vespers on the 33rd Sunday in ordinary time on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Decree on Ecumenism "Unitatis Redintegratio" of the Second Vatican Council.
- Saturday, 27: At 11 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, ecumenical celebration to give the relics of Sts. Gregory Nazianzen and John Chrysostom, Bishops and Doctors of the Church, to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
- Wednesday, 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Mass at 9:30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception. Crowning of statue of Our Lady in Piazza di Spagna at 4 p.m.
- Tuesday, 14: Mass for students at the Roman Athenaeums at 5:30 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica.
- Friday, 24: Solemnity of Our Lord's Birth. Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica.
- Saturday, 25: Solemnity of Our Lord's Birth. "Urbi et Orbi" blessing at midday in St. Peter's Square.
- Friday, 31: Vespers and "Te Deum" of thanksgiving in the Vatican Basilica at 6 p.m.
Abuja, Nigeria, Nov 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Gay Men's "Issues In Religion" Group will be presenting workshops at the American Academy of Religion's 2004 Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas, Nov. 20-23.
The American Academy of Religion is an umbrella organization of professors of religion, church historians, theologians and ethicists.
The homosexual group will be presenting a series of three lectures with the theme "Power and Submission, Pain and Pleasure: The Religious Dynamics of Sadomasochism," as well as a workshop on transgenderism, transsexualism and transvestism.
Robert A. J. Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, says "the embrace of homosexual practice logically and experientially demands" acceptance of other atypical sexual behaviors.
Gagnon notes that this year's theme is a complement to the session conducted by the homosexual group at last year's conference, which promoted the concept of multiple sex partners as being blessed by God.
"Why do people think that bringing male homosexual behavior into the mainstream is going to tame male homosexuality rather than destroy basic societal norms?" says Gagnon.