Archive of December 16, 2004

Human development not only socio-economic, Pope says in message for Peace Day

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - In his Message for the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2005, which was published today, Pope John Paul II stressed that the common good of human society requires not only socio-economic well being, but a transcendent dimension based in God.

The message, whose theme is Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Romans 'Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good' (12:21), states that "peace is a good to be promoted with good: it is a good for individuals, for families, for nations and for all humanity."Evil and the universal moral law

The Pope addresses the question of the existence of evil, explaining that it “is not some impersonal, deterministic force at work in the world. It is the result of human freedom. Evil always has a name and a face: the name and face of those men and women who freely choose it. ... Each of these choices has an intrinsic moral dimension."

"At its deepest level,” states the Pope, “evil is a tragic rejection of the demands of love. Moral good, on the other hand, is born of love, shows itself as love and is directed towards love."

The Pope points to " the spread of various social and political manifestations of evil: from social disorders to anarchy and war, from injustice to acts of violence and killing” present in the world, and states that “to steer a path between the conflicting claims of good and evil, the human family urgently needs to preserve and esteem that common patrimony of moral values bestowed by God himself."

"This common grammar of the moral law requires ever greater commitment and responsibility in ensuring that the life of individuals and of peoples is respected and advanced. In this light, the evils of a social and political nature which afflict the world, particularly those provoked by outbreaks of violence, are to be vigorously condemned,” he stated.

The Holy Father highlighted “the beloved continent of Africa, ... or the dangerous situation of Palestine, the Land of Jesus, ...  the troubling phenomenon of terrorist violence, which appears to be driving the whole world towards a future of fear and anguish, ... the drama unfolding in Iraq, which has given rise to tragic situations of uncertainty and insecurity for all," as examples of the crisis of evil current in the world.

The common good

John Paul II said that "when the common good is promoted at every level, peace is promoted. ... Each person, in some way, is called to work for the common good, constantly looking out for the good of others as if it were his own. This responsibility belongs in a particular way to political authorities at every level," he affirmed.

He noted that "certain reductive visions of humanity tend to present the common good as a purely socio-economic state of well-being lacking any transcendent purpose, thus emptying it of its deepest meaning. Yet,” he underscored, “the common good has a transcendent dimension, for God is the ultimate end of all His creatures."

Peace and economic justice

Turning to the economic sphere he stated: "Since the good of peace is closely linked to the development of all peoples, the ethical requirements for the use of the earth's goods must always be taken into account."

He said that "the good of peace will be better ensured if the international community takes on greater responsibility for what are commonly called public goods" such as "the judiciary system, the defense system and the network of highways and railways."

"The tragedy of poverty remains closely linked to the issue of the foreign debt of poor countries," reaffirmed the Holy Father.

"What is urgently needed is a moral and economic mobilization. ... New impulse should be given to Public Aid for Development, and new forms of financing for development should be explored, whatever the difficulties entailed," he said.

The Pope recalled that his “Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, addressed the need for “a new creativity in charity,” especially when considering “the many difficult problems standing in the way of development in Africa: numerous armed conflicts, pandemic diseases aggravated by extreme poverty, and political instability leading to widespread insecurity."

Christian hope and love

"Based on the certainty that evil will not prevail,” said the Pope, “Christians nourish an invincible hope which sustains their efforts to promote justice and peace."

He emphasized that "no man or woman of good will can renounce the struggle to overcome evil with good. This fight can be fought effectively only with the weapons of love. When good overcomes evil, love prevails and where love prevails, there peace prevails."

"Christians,” stated the Pope in conclusion “should show by their lives that love is the only force capable of bringing fulfillment to persons and societies, the only force capable of directing the course of history in the way of goodness and peace."

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Federal judge rules in favor of Nativity

Ann Arbor, Mich., Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - Federal Judge Cecilia Altonaga ruled yesterday that the Town of Bay Harbor Islands, Fl., must allow the public display of the Nativity.

The Thomas More Law Center had filed a federal lawsuit against town officials earlier this month after resident Sandra Snowden was denied permission to display a Nativity for the second consecutive year on public property.

In her ruling, Judge Altonaga’s explained that Snowden had shown a substantial likelihood of success on her free speech and equal protection claims, and that the town had violated the establishment clause in 2001 through 2003 by displaying only Jewish religious symbols, to the exclusion of Christian symbols, during the December holiday seasons.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center, said he is pleased with the ruling. “This is a great example of what can happen when Christians stand up for their right to celebrate Christmas in public,” he said.

The law center had filed a similar lawsuit last year against the Florida town of Palm Beach for its refusal display a Nativity alongside town-sanctioned Menorahs. This past May, a federal district court judge acknowledged the importance of recognizing religious holidays and ordered Palm Beach to treat all religious symbols equally.

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Pope appoints auxiliary bishop in Pittsburgh

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II has appointed Fr. Paul J. Bradley, vicar general and moderator of the Curia of Pittsburgh, U.S.A., as auxiliary bishop of the same diocese.

Fr. Paul J. Bradley was born 18 October 1945 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, in the diocese of Pittsburgh. After his elementary and secondary studies at Catholic schools, he undertook and completed his seminary studies at the Institute of "Saint Meinrad Abbey" in Indiana, where he obtained his licentiate in Theology. He later obtained a degree in social science at the University of Pittsburgh.

He was ordained to the priesthood for the diocese of Pittsburgh on May 1, 1971 and was appointed to Saint Sebastian Parish in Ross Township (1971-1977); vicar of  Saint Paul Parish in Butler (1977-1982); and vicar of Saint Kieran Parish in Lawrenceville (1982-1983).

He then was appointed Director of the Family Office (1983-1988); Secretary for Human Services (1988-1995); Judge of the Diocesan Tribunal (1996 to present); Pastor of Saint Sebastian Parish in Ross Township (1994-2001); Rector of the Cathedral of Saint Paul (2001-2004); and Vicar General and moderator of the Curia (2003 to present).

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Circuses and fairs are occasions to proclaim authentically human values, says Pope

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - On receiving participants in the Seventh International Congress of the Pastoral Care for Circus and Fair Workers this morning, Pope John Paul II said that their work, "which is difficult and very special, can be a privileged occasion to proclaim the authentically human values in the world's fora.”

The Congress, which is taking place in Rome from December 12 to 16, was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.

“In a time when it seems as if the frenzy of producing and getting rich is the only thing that matters,” said the Pope, “spreading joy and cheer is true testimony to those non-material values that are necessary to live fraternity and gratitude."

"Your world, that of the circus and amusement parks," he concluded, "can be turned into a new field of the great themes of pastoral care, ecumenism and the encounter of members of other religions, and the common commitment to building a universal brotherhood."

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Pope to celebrate Mass on Christmas Eve

Vatican City, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff has announced the Holy Father's schedule for December 24, 25 and 31 and January 1, 2005:

- 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.

- Saturday, January 1, 2005: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Peace. Eucharistic liturgy presided over by Pope John Paul at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica. Cardinal Angelo Sodano will celebrate the liturgy.

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Planned Parenthood loses private support but pulls in profits, annual report shows

Washington D.C., Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - There are few hopeful signs for pro-life organizations found in this year’s Planned Parenthood annual report. An analysis of the report by the American Life League indicates that fewer people are now supporting Planned Parenthood through private donations.

The organization’s annual report demonstrated a decline for the second time in three years, as contributions and bequests dropped 17 percent to $191 million, and the income of its national headquarters dropped by 19.8 percent.

The number of Planned Parenthood clinics declined from 866 clinics to 849 in the last year. Since its heyday in 1995, when it operated 938 clinics, it has closed 89 clinics. 

The analysis was conducted by the American Life League’s STOPP International, which has monitored Planned Parenthood's operations for 20 years. 

STOPP pointed out, however, that while private funding has decreased, the same is not true from public funding. Elected officials gave Planned Parenthood a record $265.2 million last year, nearly 33 percent of its $810 million total income.

With regard to abortions, Planned Parenthood increased the number of surgical abortions at its own facilities by 6.1 percent to 244,628. These figures bring the total number of babies aborted by the organization since 1970 up to 3.5 million.

Planned Parenthood aborted 138 children for every adoption referral to an outside agency this past year – a growing trend since the late 1990s. During Gloria Feldt's first full year as president of PPFA (1997), the group's abortion/adoption ratio was 18:1. Under Feldt, abortions have consistently increased and adoption referrals have decreased.

Surgical abortions drew a revenue of $104 million, accounting for over one-third of its $302.6 million clinic income. And, for the 18th year in a row, Planned Parenthood turned a net profit. This year's total is $35.2 million. The total profits over 18 years are $538 million.

Planned Parenthood sold 95,000 units of RU-486, an abortion pill, at 203 of its clinics. Forty-nine clinics that do not perform abortions began selling the pill last year.

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Indiana group works to restore cardinal's boyhood home

New Albany, Ind., Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - Community members are working together to restore the boyhood home of the much-loved Joseph Cardinal Ritter, with the hope of honoring the cardinal by turning the dilapidated house into a community center, reported the Associated Press.

Cardinal Ritter was born and raised in New Albany, Ind., in 1892. He became a priest and was a bishop for the Diocese of Indianapolis in 1934. He became the archbishop of St. Louis in 1946, and was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope John XXIII in 1961.

Cardinal Ritter led the community with courage, desegregating the Indianapolis parochial schools and speaking out against the Ku Klux Klan. Catholic high schools in Indianapolis and St. Louis are named for Cardinal Ritter.

Community members formed the Cardinal Ritter Birthplace Foundation, a nonprofit organization, whose mission is to restore the house in the city, just north of Louisville, Ky. It has received about $170,000 in contributions and in-kind in the past year.

Some renovation is already complete at his family home, and upcoming work includes restoration of the family's storefront bakery. Organizers hope to have the renovation completed by July 2006, in time for the 119th celebration of the cardinal’s birthday.

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England ‘hardly a Christian country,’ says number two Anglican cleric

Liverpool, United Kingdom, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of York, the Church of England's second most senior clergyman, told the BBC that he would be "hard-pushed" to say Britain is a Christian country.

Archbishop David Hope told the BBC that commitment to the church had diminished and secularist tendencies had increased.

"Large numbers of people still describe themselves as believing in God. Large numbers of people still say they are Christians,” he said. “How they then express that Christianity has changed enormously."

However, he added that the number of people who continue to attend church regularly is encouraging.

Archbishop Hope has resigned from his leadership position in the Church of England and will return to being a parish priest as of January. "I always felt I would like to finish my ministry as I began it, and that is as a parish priest,” he told the BBC.

Archbishop Hope said he would be glad to be rid of the bureaucracy as the new vicar of St. Margaret's in Ilkley, West Yorkshire.

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Pro-family victory in Argentina: sex-ed law defeated

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - The city of Buenos Aires for now will not have a “sexual education law” which had been proposed by a group of homosexuals and brought before the Buenos Aires legislature by Representative Ana Suppa.

Suppa’s bill proposed an obligatory sexual education program for public schools prepared by the Argentinean Gay and Lesbian Society of Integration.

Representative Santiago De Estada called Suppa’s bill “a direct attack on the authority of parents, who would be completely left out of the sexual education that would be given to their children,” and he said the program’s content “would not be accepted by the vast majority of parents.”

De Estrada offered his own sexual education bill which would have allowed the constant presence of parents and would have been extracurricular and optional.

During debate on the measures, Suppa accused De Estrada of proposing a sexual education program “for the sole purpose of blocking the approval of the bill promoted by my office,” and she said the opinions had been polarized between those “who on the one hand wish to defend public schools and equal education and on the other those who defend the rights of parents and the subsidiary role of the State.”

De Estrada responded saying, “Nobody doubts the need for sexual education, but the discussion concerns the content and who will be providing it and putting it into practice.”  “Opposition to Suppa’s bill is coming from parents, teachers and diverse religions, while support is coming only from feminist non-governmental organizations.”

When debate final ended, Suppa’s bill received 24 votes in favor and 28 against, and De Estrada’s received 26 votes in favor, 3 against, and 23 abstentions.  Neither of the bills obtained the needed 31 votes to become law.

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Cuban bishops call for forgiveness, evangelization in Christmas message

Havana, Cuba, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - In a message that will be read next Sunday in all parishes, the bishops of Cuba call on the faithful to live reconciliation and they announce that the main task of the Church in 2005 will be evangelization.

In their message, the bishops invite the faithful to adopt “an attitude of reconciliation,” and they underscore that “the Church’s main reason for being is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, her great task is evangelization.”

The bishops recognize that in Cuba “a year that has seen its share of anxieties and threatening omens will come to an end,” but they asked that “during this Christmas, may that child we all have within overcome defeatism and anxiety for the future.”

“There are many internal limitations and needs of different kinds that we suffer here in Cuba, to which have been added external measures that outline a gloomy future for our nation,” said the bishops, referring to the decision by the US government to limit travel of Cuban-Americans to the island to one trip every three years as well as restricting the sending of money to family members.

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Church in Spain rejects court ordered abortion for mentally handicapped woman

Madrid, Spain, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Office for the Defense of Life of the Archdiocese of Oviedo, Spain, energetically rejected the decision by a judge to allow abortion for a mentally handicapped woman who is six months pregnant.

Judge Jose Manuel Niño, whose jurisdiction lies within the Archdiocese of Oviedo, ordered an abortion be performed on a 27 year-old woman who is six months pregnant.  The parents of the woman requested the abortion claiming their daughter could suffer “grave psychological harm if the pregnancy was carried to term.”

In a brief statement, the Defense of Life Office said, “A six month old un-born child has the right to be admitted to the banquet of life and has no fault for what has happened to his mother.”

“If there is any problem with assisting this little baby, society should have the means to help him,” the note adds, underscoring as well that the reason put forth by the parents is not valid because “it is impossible to verify.”

“There is nothing that justifies this abortion, which is clearly unconstitutional,” the statement said.

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Pro-lifers in Spain march in front of abortion center that was subject of an investigative report

Madrid, Spain, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - Hundreds of people in Spain have been periodically marching in front of the Genemedex abortion clinic in Barcelona to protest the illegal practice of late-term abortions, which was revealed by the British Sunday Telegraph.

The association Young E-Christians organized the latest march.  Last November 17, some 150 people, mostly young people and families, protested as well, and last Saturday a different organization led the march.

During the protests, statements by the British doctor who accompanied women to the clinic are usually read.  Ginemedex practices illegal late-term abortions in Spain, claiming they are for gynecological emergencies.  Perfectly healthy and viable babies between 6 and 8 months old are put to death during the procedure.

“But it is because you are killing a baby.  Better to kill the baby inside rather than outside.  I would not give my children up for adoption to somebody I don’t know.  You don’t know who they are going to be with, what kind of life they will have.  Instead of ruining one life, two are ruined; your life and the life of the baby.”  That was the “advice” Dr. Saroj Adlakha gave to a reporter who posed as a father of a teenage girl looking for an abortion clinic.

While British authorities have ordered an investigation into Adlakha, in Spain officials have yet to act against Ginemedex.

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Bethlehem mayor says Israeli occupation is driving away Christians

Bethlehem, West Bank, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - The mayor of Bethlehem said that the “bitterness” of the Israeli occupation is driving more and more Christians away from the birthplace of Christ, AFP reports.

"Each year I try not to be gloomy in my Christmas message but the harsh facts on the ground and the clouds of instability and suffering that continue to overshadow Bethlehem strongly push me to this direction," said Hanner Nasser, Bethlehem’s Christian mayor.

During a press conference in which he delivered his Christmas message he said that "living under occupation is certainly the most painful experience man can face and the biggest offence to human rights and dignity.”

Nasser said that“we each day have to swallow the bitterness of the Israeli practices: killing of our people, demolition of houses, arrest and humiliation…the closure and oppressive siege have crippled Bethlehem and deteriorated the living conditions of its people to an unprecedented degree."

Pointing out that 2,400 out of 40,000 Chritians in Bethlehem have left the West Bank town and its environs since the beginnig of the Palestinian Intifada in September 2000, he said that "Christians all over the world should know this reality. If we don't have a quick breakthrough in the peace process more are going to leave."

"Imagine the city of Bethlehem with no Christians," said the mayor.

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Aid needed for shrine of first approved Marian apparitions in Africa

Konigstein, Germany, Dec 16, 2004 (CNA) - The Marian shrine at the site of the first apparitions of Our Lady on the African continent to be approved by the Holy See – which did so in 2001 – is in need of aid in order to serve the local population and pilgrims, said the Polish missionary in charge of the shrine in Rwanda.

Referring to the sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrows in Kibeho, 160 km west of the Rwandan capital, Kigali, Fr Zbigniew Pawlowski, SAC said, “Please, help us build up an infrastructure for the local people here and the pilgrims as well!,” in his meeting yesterday with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

“The region and the population here are heavily affected by civil wars and unrests,” said the priest. “Currently, the Marian shrine here is lacking basic equipments: There is neither drinking water nor electric power supply. The Church is trying to provide basic education and health care facilities for the suffering population.”

The Kibeho apparitions of Our Lady, which took place from 1981 – 1989, are the first ones in Africa to be approved by the Church, both locally and by the Holy See in 2001.

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