Vatican City, Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - In today’s general audience held in St. Peter’s Square and in the Paul VI Hall, Pope John Paul II speaking on Psalm 61, taught that the “two types of trust” which are contrasted in the psalm are trust in God, “source of eternity and peace,” and trust in a false god, that of “violence, covetousness and riches.”
The two forms of trust “are two fundamental choices,” said the Pope, “one good and one perverse, which entail two types of moral conduct. There is above all trust in God...'God is my rock and my salvation; my fortress, I shall not be shaken'."
"There also exists," he continued, "another type of trust, of an idolatrous nature, which the psalmist focuses on with critical attention. It is a trust that moves one to seek safety and stability in violence, covetousness and riches."
"The first false god [is] the violence which humanity unfortunately continues to resort to even in these bloody days,” he said. “Accompanying this idol is an immense procession of wars, oppression, perversions, torture and killing, inflicted without any trace of remorse."
The Pope then said that "the second false god is robbery which is expressed in extortion, social injustice, usury, political and economic corruption. Too many people cultivate the 'illusion' of satisfying in this way their own greed.”
“Finally,” said the Holy Father, “riches is the third idol to which 'man's heart attaches itself' in the false hope of being saved from death and being assured of gaining power and prestige."
The Pope affirmed that "if we were conscious of our mortality and of the limits of man, we would not choose to trust in idols, nor would we organize our life on a series of fragile and inconsistent pseudo-values. We would aim rather for another type of trust, one whose center is in the Lord, source of eternity and peace."
"The Second Vatican Council applied to priests the invitation of this psalm 'to keep our heart detached from riches',” said John Paul II. “However,” he pointed out, “this call to reject perverse trust and to choose trust that brings us to God is valid for all and must become a guiding star in our daily behaviour, moral decisions, in our choice of lifestyle."
Denver, Colo., Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said the 2004 elections demonstrated the importance of religion for most Americans, even though pollsters and the news media “don't take faith seriously, and if they do, they tend to fear and deride it.”
In an interview with the Denver Post last week, the archbishop said religion and religious issues were at the forefront throughout the year, including the release of Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ,” abortion and same-sex marriage.
“Huge numbers of Americans take their faith very seriously,” he said. “They don't need a panel of experts to explain what ‘moral values’ mean. They root their interaction with the world in their faith.
“Issues like the economy, Iraq, terrorism - these are all very important. But for most people, they come second to the really intimate issues like marriage, family and sexuality, which is why abortion continues to be a such a highly-charged battleground despite every media attempt to sideline it,” he said.
The archbishop recalled that he grew up “in a time when being Catholic and being a Democrat almost always went together.
“The fact that nearly two-thirds of regular, Mass-going Catholics voted against the Democrats in Florida and Ohio this election is just lethal,” he continued. “One party ignored its historic constituency on some vital issues, and the other scooped them up.”
When asked if the elections results were an important indication in the national debates over abortion, same-sex marriage and embryonic stem-cell research, the archbishop replied: “A core of committed people of faith are awake… [and] political parties would be wise to pay better attention to their concerns.”
, Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - Hundreds of Catholics in the U.S. military and their families gathered for the 13th annual Red, White and Blue Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Norwich Nov. 7.
The mass, celebrated by Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwich, was held in honor of U.S. National Guard members and reserves from all branches of the military.
Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien of the American Archdiocese for the Military Services, delivered the homily on the theme of just war, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine.
Whether in Iraq or Afghanistan today, or in past wars, St. Augustine's philosophy of “benevolent severity” is as necessary now as it was in the early centuries of Christianity, Archbishop O'Brien said. The idea behind the phrase is that goodness can come, and at times can only come, out of violence that is used as a last resort to defend and protect others.
“The Church sadly recognizes that war is sometimes necessary,” he said, “and when all is said and done, the final responsibility rests with those who have responsibility for the common good.”
Retired Navy Capt. John Donlon of Noank told the Day newspaper afterward that the archbishop's perspective is one that military personnel of all ages and religions need to hear more often.
Many veterans and their families joined in the celebration. Members of the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines served as lectors, sang and presented the gifts.
Marine Cpl. Kemaphoom “Ahn” Chanawongse of Waterford, who died in battle at the start of the Iraq war, was one of 15 men and women commemorated that day.
Vatican City, Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - In words after today’s general audience at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II, speaking to fellow Poles in the audience noted that "tomorrow we will celebrate Poland's Independence Day,” and told them, “Let us thank the Lord for our country's freedom.”
“May this particular gift,” said the Holy Father, “paid for by the blood of our fathers and our mothers, be fruitful in the country with the diligent fulfilling of duties by each and every person, with mutual understanding and with dedication to the common good. May the Lord in His providence bless our country."
, Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - A Superior Court judge sentenced Stuart Vincent Smith Nov. 8 to 20 yeas in prison for attempting to burn down the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.
The 32-year-old man pleaded guilty to charges of arson, aggravated assault, vandalism to a place of worship, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime and carrying a firearm to a public gathering. Smith committed the crimes Oct. 7, 2003. Damage to the church totaled $365,000. It had undergone an $11-million restoration three years earlier.
Chatham County Superior Court Chief Judge Perry Brannen Jr. called Smith's crime "an offense to everyone who lives in this community."
"It was extremely distressing for me to witness the defendant's deliberate attempt to destroy not only the building but the spirit of the people who worked to restore it,” said the rector, Msgr. William O'Neill in a written statement read in court.
“Buildings can be repaired, even though at great cost, but when the damage is deliberately caused, the cost seems greater and inexcusable. Even though the defendant claims he does not believe in a God, I want him to know that I will continue to pray for him every day that he will find peace and courage to live responsibly," he wrote.
Warsaw, Poland, Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - The United Nations criticized Poland's abortion laws in a recent report, stating that they are too strict and that they may lead women to risk their lives as they seek illegal and unsafe abortions.
Poland's current leftist pro-abortion government expects the UN report to reopen a public debate on abortion.
Under Poland’s 1993 legislation, abortion is only allowed if a woman was raped, the pregnancy threatens her life or if the fetus is damaged. It replaced decades of free access to abortion under communism. Doctors who perform illegal abortions now face up to three years in jail.
The current government hopes to change that. A bill that would allow women access to abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy is due for a first reading in parliament but no date has yet been set.
But Catholic and other pro-life groups are outraged by the UN report and attempts in parliament to increase access to abortion. Anna Sobecka, a parliamentarian from the Polish League of Families, a Catholic opposition party told Reuters that abortion should be completely outlawed. “Abortion is manslaughter; it's murder," she said.
Polish media have often reported on a huge and growing underground abortion industry. Some pro-abortion groups estimate that there are up to 200,000 illegal abortions performed in Poland each year.
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Durango, Mexico, Hector Gonzalez Martinez, reminded the faithful this week that the religious freedom that has been achieved in Mexico should not be a pretext for a slumbering faith.
During a Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of Durango, the Archbishop recalled that religious freedom officially returned to Mexico twelve years ago, when President Carlos Salinas led reforms of Article 130 of the country’s constitution.
Archbishop Martinez underscored that the return of religious freedom has resulted in many Christians being asleep in their faith and apathetic towards their duties, forgetting that in the 1920s Mexicans who worshipped God were persecuted.
The Archbishop recalled that St. Paul calls Christians to spread the Gospel even though “perverse and evil men harass us, for not everyone accepts the faith.”
He also said nobody should desire to experience problems in the normal exercise of religious practice, but when there are no persecutions, “we grow lazy, we become comfortable, we just want to feel good about ourselves and we forget about God.”
During the month of November, the Archdiocese of Durango is calling on the faithful to respond “with generosity to the call of God,” journeying “towards holiness in the places where you live,” without forgetting that “intimate union with Christ is the result of successful evangelization.”
Madrid, Spain, Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - Archbishop Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Toledo, Spain, said this week his pubic statements against euthanasia constitute an “unavoidable duty” to teach the truth and authentically serve society.
The Archbishop said his role was to show Christians “the truth of the faith and of Christian morality” and to serve society, because “if I were quiet, I would be going against this society” and against man.
Speaking to reporters, Archbishop Cañizares Llovera said measures that would legalize euthanasia, widen access to abortion and research with human embryos, are not in the interest of mankind.
He added that while he respected the non-sectarian nature of the State, it presupposes that “all confessions and beliefs be respected,” including the Catholic Church, which sometimes seems to be only the voice “not allowed to speak.”
Civil baptism: extreme stupidity
Asked about his opinion on the celebration of what some are calling “civil baptisms,” the Archbishop stated, “To call this baptism is extreme stupidity.”
This past Sunday, officials in Catalonia celebrated the first “Ceremony of the imposition of a name” for a new born. During the celebration, which has its roots in the French Revolution, the mayor of Igualada read excerpts from the UN Charter for the Human Rights of Children, as well as excerpts from the Spanish Constitution that refer to education, with the purpose of welcoming children into democratic principles.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of the Dominican Republic has called for a day of prayer to be held November 21 for peace in the country.
The Bishops said they are concerned about the growing wave of violence sweeping the country, and they are calling on society to “use all means at our disposal” to put an end to the situation.
The statement released by the Bishops says the causes of the violence stem from unemployment and poor education, the consumption and trafficking of drugs, immorality, drug and alcohol addiction, addiction to gambling, as well as bad administration of justice and impunity.
The Bishops exhort the faithful “to unite their prayers that God will enlighten the minds of all those who commit violence and will fill their hearts with good will.”
The statement also proposes that the disarmament of citizens continue, that gun licenses be reviewed and those without one not be allowed to purchase weapons.
They also reminded leaders of their responsibility to ensure the safety of society and said “it would be deplorable” that for political reasons a few individuals would seek to destabilize the country by “promoting violence.”
The Bishops added that increasing police involvement in robbery and crime was “scandalous.” “We need a police force that is conscious of the importance of its job,” because it should have the “complete trust and respect of the populace.”
, Nov 10, 2004 (CNA) - Ave Maria Singles, (www.avemariasingles.com), the first website for Catholic singles on the internet, has launched a Spanish version of its site in order to provide the same successful forum for Hispanic Catholics to meet one another and share their faith.
The new site, Solteros del Ave Maria (www.solterosdelavemaria.com), under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe, provides Hispanic Catholics an online environment a place where they can establish healthy relationships and friendships with others who share their ideals.
Similar to the English version, the Spanish site establishes strict standards of fidelity to all the teachings of the Church on love, sexuality, marriage and parenthood. The site also provides spiritual assistance under the guidance of priests who are experts in the field.
The Spanish site was launched on November 1, feast of All Saints.