Vatican City, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Pope expressed his joy this morning that the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, during the Year of the Eucharist, had chosen to reflect on "various initiatives to rediscover and fully 'experience Sunday as the day of the Lord and the day of the Church'," as proposed in the Apostolic Letter "Mane nobiscum Domine."
The Holy Father received members and counselors of the commission today who are participating in their plenary session on the theme: "Sunday Mass, center of Christian life in Latin America."
"Participation in Sunday Mass," said the Pope, "is not only an important obligation, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 1389) makes quite clear, but above all a profound need of each individual faithful.”
It is not possible to experience faith without participating regularly in Sunday Mass: the sacrifice of redemption, the shared banquet of the Word of God and of the Bread of the Eucharist, heart of Christian life."
John Paul II underlined the "renewed efforts" by pastors of the Church to "raise awareness of the centrality of Sunday in the ecclesial and social life of the men and women of today.”
“To this end,” he said, “it is necessary to concentrate efforts on a better and more careful education and catechesis of the faithful about the Eucharist, and to ensure that the celebration is dignified and decorous, so that it inspires true respect and authentic piety in the face of the greatness of the Eucharistic mystery."
"Sunday Mass," he went on, "must be correctly prepared by the celebrant, with a spiritual disposition which is then revealed in his words and gestures, just as the homily must be prepared in an appropriate way."
On this subject, the Pope referred to the importance of choosing and preparing "the hymns, symbols and other elements that enrich the liturgy, always showing due respect for established norms, taking advantage of all the spiritual and pastoral richness of the Roman Missal and the directives proposed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments."
The Holy Father concluded by asking the bishops, in collaboration with priests, religious and faithful, to give "the maximum commitment to reflecting on and deepening this essential dimension of the sacramental life of the Church," and to work "to awaken an ever greater love for the Mystery of the Eucharist in their dioceses."
Boulder, Colo., Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in Boulder, Colorado has been burying the remains of aborted babies for years but this Sunday may be the last time.
Boulder’s Crist Mortuary has been picking up the aborted remains from the Boulder Abortion Clinic—one of the oldest running abortion clinics in the country—and offering to cremate the children.
The Mortuary had then been quietly giving the cremated remains to the local Catholic parish who has buried over 2000 babies in a specially dedicated memorial section of the church’s cemetery.
This Sunday, the parish plans to bury more than 600 more, but many fear that because of recent publicity, this could be the last time.
Boulder Abortion Clinic director, Dr. Warren Hern has expressed outrage at his discovery Sacred Heart of Mary’s practice and rumors of a pro-abortion protests on Sunday have been circulating in Denver area media.
The burial will take place in honor of the 32nd anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in the U.S.
Vatican City, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - Today the Holy Father reminded members of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, that the aim of the Council is to “spread the Gospel of Christian hope in the vast world of those who suffer and those called to care for them."
The Pope welcomed sixty members of the Council to the Vatican for their plenary session, and noted that 2005 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the council.
This period, he added, "will also be for you a stimulus to a renewed commitment in translating into action your programs for 'spreading, explaining and defending the teachings of the Church in matters of health and favoring their dissemination into health care practices', according to the Motu Proprio 'Dolentium hominum' which established the council."
The Holy Father said that, "the Church, in her pastoral action, is called to face the most delicate and inescapable questions that arise in the human soul in the face of suffering, sickness and death.”
It is from faith in Christ, Who died and rose from the dead, that those questions can find the comfort of hope that does not delude.”
The world today, he continued, “which often does not have the light of this hope, suggests solutions of death. Thus, the urgency to promote a new evangelization and a strong witness of active faith in these many secularized areas."
"The Pontifical Council," he continued, "does well, therefore, to focus its reflections and programs on the sanctification of the period of sickness and on the special role that sick people play in the Church and in the family by virtue of the living presence of Christ in every suffering person."
Church leaders, said John Paul II, also have a responsibility to pay attention "to the structures where the sick person suffers some form of marginalization and lack of social support.”
This attention must also be extended to those areas of the world where the neediest sick people, notwithstanding medical progress, lack medicines and adequate assistance, The Church must have a special concern for those areas of the world where AIDS patients have no assistance.”
“For this reason” the Pope continued, “the 'Good Samaritan' Foundation was created with the aim of contributing to help the most vulnerable populations with the necessary therapeutic support."
Vatican City, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II, in liturgical memory of the virgin-martyr St. Agnes, whose feast is today and for whom the traditional symbol is a lamb, blessed a group of baby lambs in the library of his apartment this morning.
The wool of these lambs will be used to make the palliums given every year to new metropolitan archbishops as signs of their office.
The blessing of lambs, who are under one year of age, is traditionally celebrated on the January 21 feast of St. Agnes, who died about 350 and who is buried in the basilica named for her on Rome's Via Nomentana.
The lambs are raised by Trappist Fathers of the Abbey of the Three Fountains in Rome and the palliums are made from the newly-shorn wool by the sisters of St. Cecilia.
Tallil, Iraq, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - A U.S. soldier in Iraq is requesting prayers as the military unit prepares to deliver the voting machines and ballots to villages and cities throughout the Middle Eastern country for its upcoming elections, Jan. 30-31.
“This is a political battle that needs spiritual intervention,” the soldier said in an e-mail that has been floating on the Web.
The soldier emphasized that the mission is extremely dangerous since the U.S. military convoys are prime targets for insurgents because they do not want Iraqi citizens to vote.
This election is historic for Iraq as the previous regime did not allow individual citizens to vote. “Democracy will not be realized in Iraq if intelligent and competent officials are not elected,” the soldier said.
“Encourage your friends and family members and those within our churches to pray specifically for the electoral process,” the soldier continued, suggesting a prayer vigil.
“Your prayer support and God's intervention are needed to give democracy a chance in this war torn country,” the message said.
Sioux Falls, S.D., Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - A new study released this week in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health claims that adolescents must be taught to “love condoms,” says Abstinence Clearinghouse.
The study was conducted by Dr. Hannah Bruckner and Dr. Peter Bearman, longtime advocates of easy access to contraception for adolescents. It draws the conclusion that “adolescents must feel good about contraception if they are going to use it” and promotes contraceptive education, says the organization.
In addition, Abstinence Clearinghouse claims the study is based on data from 10 years ago.
Leslee Unruh of Abstinence Clearinghouse says teens deserve more than contraception education. "A failure rate of as much as 30 percent is not good enough for our kids,” she said. “Only abstinence until marriage provides 100 percent protection against premarital pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases."
Cincinnati, Ohio, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - A landmark study reveals that the majority of U.S. teens are not sexually active and that they are making this decision, based on their values, faith, parents and concern for their health and future. The study also highlights the important role of parents in their teen’s decision-making on this issue.
The results of the study, which was commissioned by NBC News and People Magazine, were released yeterday. It surveyed young teens about their intimate sexual attitudes and practices.
According to the report, the vast majority (87 percent) of teens, aged 13 to 16, have not had sexual intercourse. Most (73 percent) have not been sexually intimate at all. Seventy-four percent say they have not had sex because they made a conscious decision not to.
The study is revealing about the role of religion as well. Four in 10 (42 percent) say they have not had sex because of religious or moral beliefs.
Seventy-five percent of those surveyed have not because they believe they are too young. Many say they abstain because they fear the potential consequences of pregnancy (74 percent), STDs (71 percent), parents’reaction (65 percent).
With regard to parents’ reactions, the study indicates that teens with a Catholic parent (72 percent) are more likely to not have sex because they are worried what their parents will think than those with a Protestant parent (63 percent) or another religious background (57 percent).
“This is a wake-up call to parents that they cannot stick their heads in the sand when it comes to their teens’ attitudes and behaviors about sex,” said Rick Schatz, president and CEO of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families.
He strongly recommends that parents speak openly and honestly with their kids about this subject.
Slightly over half of the teens surveyed said they haven’t had sex because they haven’t met the right person yet (54 percent); 21 percent said it is because of a lack of opportunity.
For the full report, go to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6839072/
Essex, England, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - The British Catholic Action Group today issued a formal complaint with England’s Daily Mail regarding what they call “an unbalanced article” regarding the support of English Bishops to an alleged statement of the Church in Spain in favor of condom use.
The Spanish statement was misinterpreted to be in support of condom use as a means for fighting Aids.
The Spanish bishops however, in a statement issued Friday maintain that, “it is not true that the teaching of the Church on condoms has changed.”
The Mail’s article quotes an unnamed spokesman for the Church in England and Wales who states that they would support the Spanish Church’s alleged acceptance of condom use to prevent Aids.
Catholic Action Group remarked that the paper “never quoted a source on this very sensitive issue, which tries to undermine Catholic Doctrine and causes scandal among the faithful.”
They likewise stated that, “unless your source was an official spokesperson for the English Bishops, speaking with their full written authority, it is not valid and only the opinion of an ill-informed Catholic.”
The group pointed out that they had contacted the Catholic Media Office “who strongly deny the substance of [the] article and will be issuing a statement forthwith.”
Unless the Daily Mail corrects what Catholic Action Group calls a “blunder” they have threatened to take the paper to the Press Complaints commission.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, reiterated this week that the Church does not take “any political party as our own cause” and he rejected claims to the contrary.
The cardinal made his statements during an interview with the daily “El Nacional,” in response to accusations by members of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, Pedro Antonio Luna and Tommy Durán, who criticized a recent speech by the cardinal as “more political than religious.”
Cardinal Rodriguez responded that if he had wanted to be a politician, “I would have been one starting in my youth and not as the 68 year-old man that I am today.”
Likewise, the cardinal said he did know Senator Luna and that, “I find it very inconsistent on his part, and in addition an illustration of complete ignorance in this area, for him to tell the cardinal to resign and dedicate himself to politics.”
Caacupé, Paraguay, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Claudio Jimenez of Caacupe and President of the Bishops Conference of Paraguay reminded Paraguayans this week that “faith in God should lead us to transform the world in which we live.”
During a Mass in honor of the Crucified Christ, the most popular devotional image of Jesus in the country, the bishop said the faith must gradually lead each person to carry out good and important things for the world in which he or she lives.
”Faith without works is dead; on the other hand, faith with works is a living faith, an active faith, a working faith, that is, a transforming faith,” he emphasized.
Bishop Jimenez added that it would be very easy for Christians to just wait for everything to fall from heaven. “Those kinds of Christians are not pleasing to God. He has given us a mission; He trusted in us and desired that we help Him build together His kingdom of love, honesty, truth and holiness,” the bishop stated.
Konigstein, Germany, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Carlos Maria Franzini of Rafaela, Argentina, lamented this week that even in a traditional Catholic country such as Argentina, “a decline in Christian values” is taking place.
During a visit to Aid to the Church in Need in Germany, Bishop Franzini cited as evidence recent legislation approving “homosexual marriage” in Buenos Aires and the current debate on the legalization of abortion.
Catholic morality is under attack, he said, “in particular from intellectual circles,” and he added that “a good example is the recent explosion of blasphemous art in Buenos Aires,” an allusion to an exhibit by Leon Ferrari that was characterized by anti-Catholic themes.
“Politicians are also distancing themselves from the Church. Nestor Kirchner is the first president not to attend the National Eucharistic Congress,” the bishop said.
He pointed out the decreasing number of priestly vocations and the decreasing commitment on the part of lay Catholics. He said the solution must come from “strengthening the Catholic identity” and “intensifying evangelization.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Mexico has begun an AIDS awareness campaign this week to reach out to those suffering from the disease. According to the Secretary General of the Conference, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Texcoco, the campaign is in response to “the call by the Holy See to deal with this virus throughout the world.”
The campaign will include a national collection to be taken up on February 13 and which will be sent to the Central African Republic to help those suffering from AIDS.
The bishops also hope the campaign will raise awareness about HIV and AIDS as well as provide an opportunity for new strategies in dealing with the epidemic to be developed. They also hope it will help diminish the discrimination and stigmatization which AIDS sufferers endure.
“People with AIDS are not strangers or unknown, nor should they be the object of a mix of pity and repulsion. We should be aware of them, as individuals, and as a community we should treat them with unconditional love.”
“We should reject the false idea that HIV-AIDS is a punishment from God. It is rather a call to work together to educate and sensitize humanity in order to reduce new infections and the discrimination against those who are carriers of this virus,” said the bishop.
He went on to say that to the “sad problem of AIDS in the world, the hope of false solutions such as the use of condoms is added. We must provide real solutions: mature sexual education, the promotion of love that is not limited to physical pleasure, and the fostering of values that correspond to and respect the human person in all of his dimensions.”
“Let’s remember that AIDS is not only a bio-medical problem, it is a social problem as well that affects all human beings and requires of us effective and united actions,” he concluded.
Managua, Nicaragua, Jan 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, said this week conversations between government representatives and opposition leaders have begun “with good will.”
As he was leaving the Catholic University, where he is participating as mediator between the two parties, the Cardinal expressed his confidence that “with the help of the Holy Spirit,” the conversations will lead to much good for Nicaragua.
His optimism stemmed from the first negotiations, which yielded five agreements on various issues, including a commitment by President Enrique Bolaños to publish and put into effect as soon as possible the partial reform of the Constitution, which was ratified on January 6 by the Nicaraguan congress.