Vatican City, Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - Today, in his general audience at the Vatican, the Holy Father spoke on the subject of "thanksgiving" basing his thoughts on Psalm 114.
The psalmist, John Paul II affirmed, "expresses loving recognition to the Lord, after his intense supplications were answered; 'I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.'”
“This declaration of love”, the Pope said, “is immediately followed by a vivid description of the mortal danger that had been menacing the psalmist's life."
"From that tragic abyss," he continued, "a cry arose towards the only One who can extend a hand and lift the anguished psalmist from that inextricable turmoil; 'O Lord. I beseech you, save my life!'"
"The call for help addressed to the Lord that we have just heard in the psalm," said the Holy Father, "reminds us of the great value of prayer. The believer clings to the Lord as his only hope of salvation and expresses his grateful love for the protection he receives."
The Holy Father highlighted the fact that "authentic faith always sees God as love, even if at times we find it difficult to understand His actions fully. It always remains certain that 'the Lord preserves the simple', and so in misery and solitude you can always rely upon Him."
"Prayer helps us to rediscover the loving face of God. He never abandons his people but guarantees that, notwithstanding trials and suffering, good triumphs in the end."
Vatican City, Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - Rita Federizzi has been compared with the much-loved and recently canonized St. Gianna Beretta Molla.
Just like St. Gianna, Federizzi died and was buried yesterday after refusing cancer treatment that would have required her to have an abortion. The 41-year-old died after having given birth three months ago to a baby boy, named Federico.
Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano wrote of Federizzi: "She was aware that if she gave birth she wouldn't have had any hope of surviving. Despite that she went through with her choice, the choice of welcoming new life even at the cost of her own death."
"Rita's choice, which I always shared, was a choice of faith," her husband, Enrico Ferrari, told the Italian news agency ANSA. Federizzi was very active with a Marian group.
"Whenever someone recommended abortion as the only way to escape (death), she would say, 'It's as if they're asking me to kill one of my other two children to save my skin,'” he said.
Federizzi leaves her husband and two other children, ages 10 and 12.
Wichita, Kan., Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - According to the Pro-life group, Operation Rescue, a Kansas woman has died as a result of an abortion gone awry at the clinic of late-term abortion specialist George Tiller.
The woman was transferred from the clinic to Wesley Medical Center by ambulance on January 13th and is reported to have died a few days later.
According to 911 dispatch records, the abortion clinic staffer who called the ambulance was being “very evasive” and “refused to give any information about the patient.”
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue questioned the judgment of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius in vetoing the clinic regulation act.
“That statue could very well have prevented this needless and tragic death”, he said.
Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue’s outreach coordinator added that, “We call upon the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, which is overseen by the Governor's office, to quickly investigate this tragic and needless death, and, in the interest of public safety, to suspend the medical license of George Tiller until a full investigation is complete."
Krakow, Poland, Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - A Polish editor, who used to speak for the country's former communist rulers in the 1980s, was fined $8,500 yesterday for insulting the Pope in an article.
A Polish court also gave him a suspended 10-month prison sentence, calling his article a "deliberate and tactical move and a measured provocation."
Just before Pope John Paul II visited Poland in 2002, Jerzy Urban, editor of controversial weekly Nie (No), called the Pope "a senile man" who should "go to bed, pick his nose ... or gobble caviar."
The article, titled “The walking sadomasochist,” compared the 84-year-old Pope with former Soviet president Leonid Brezhnev, whose last years were plagued by ill health, with doctors struggling to keep him alive and prime him for occasional public appearances. He died in office in 1982.
Urban said he would appeal the verdict. Reporters Sans Frontiers has criticized the court for violating the principles of freedom of speech.
Vatican City, Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, last night presided in the name of the Holy Father at the celebration of Vespers at the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The week reached its conclusion on the feast of the conversion of St. Paul.
In his homily, which focused on "Jesus Christ, Our Common Foundation," the cardinal quoted St. Paul's words to the Corinthians - "No one may lay a foundation different from that already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
“This is the reason for our ecumenical commitment", he told the assembled religious leaders.
"Today," the Cardinal went on, "at the start of the new year, we do not wish to look to the past but rather to the future, the future of ecumenism. From its very beginnings, at the start of the 20th century, the ecumenical movement has known great changes in the world and in our Churches.”
The ecumenical situation itself is quite different. At times, the initial impulse seems to run the risk of falling into a lethargic state and of losing its credibility. On one side signs of reticence and resistance emerge and, on the other, signs of resignation and frustration.”
“Therefore,” he challenged, “we cannot continue to repeat 'business as usual'. What must we do? What can we do?"
We must reflect, said Cardinal Kasper, on Jesus Christ, our foundation, on "faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, Who is the foundation of our baptism, which makes us Christians, incorporating us into the Church. ...”
Jesus Christ is not only the foundation but also the goal of our ecumenical commitment: in Him we will be one. ...”
Precisely today, in post-modern society when everything becomes relative and arbitrary, and everyone creates his or her own religion a la carte, we need a solid foundation and a trustworthy common reference point for our personal life and our ecumenical work."
The cardinal asked his audience, "What does this mean concretely? I will mention only three consequences. In the first place, it is over the Bible that we are divided and it is only through reading, studying and meditating on the Bible that we can rediscover unity.”
Secondly, through Baptism we are incorporated into Jesus Christ. In our ecumenical commitment, we don't start from zero. Through Baptism we are already in a fundamental communion that unites us to Christ and unites us one to the other.”
Thirdly, Jesus Christ is present in the Church through His Word and His sacraments. He is the Head of the Church and the Church is His Body."
In his concluding remarks, Cardinal Kasper said: "We can and must distinguish Christ from the Church, but we cannot separate one from the other.”
St. Augustine taught us the formula 'Christus totus', the fullness of Christ as Head and Body. And this is the deepest point of divergence between the Churches and the ecclesial communities of the West, which impedes us from fully being signs and instruments of Christ."
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - The archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, said this week that while the government has the duty to combat drug trafficking, the fight against drugs begins in the family.
The cardinal maintained that in order to end this scourge society should strengthen the family, because "if there is no consumption there will be no trafficking either." He added that the educational system should play its part by teaching values.
Cardinal Rivera said the government should not bow to the pressures of drug traffickers, who react with violence to anti-drug policies, because it is the duty of leaders to protect the populace.
With respect to the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS, Cardinal Rivera said the Church is on the side of those who suffer from this disease, but the true solution comes from "working at educating people to love." He reiterated his fidelity to the teachings of the Pope and "the bishops of the whole world."
, Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, vice president of the Bishops Conference of Colombia, expressed his confidence this week that the United Nations would name a new delegate to replace James Lemoyne in the peace negotiations with Marxist rebels in Colombia.
Archbishop Castro lamented the withdrawal of what the UN called the "good offices mission" for Colombia, headed up by Lemoyne, but he said he was hopeful that the decision would not be definitive.
He added that the country needs international support and that he was confident that the UN and the government would reach an agreement so that mediation efforts by the UN could continue.
Archbishop Castro acknowledged that while Lemoyne did everything possible to reach a humanitarian agreement that would secure the release of hostages being held by Marxist rebels, peace negotiations have advanced little.
The archbishop also said that many saw the decision to suspend mediation coming, and he thanked Lemoyne for his six years of working for peace in Colombia.
, Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - The pro-abortion group "Catholics for a Free Choice" (CFFC) is intensifying its efforts to get abortion legalized in Brazil, as the group prepares to participate in the World Social Forum which will be held January 27-31 in Porto Alegre.
The forum will begin on Thursday with a round-table discussion on the decriminalization of abortion, during which pro-abortion material will be distributed and attendees will be required to sign a statement of commitment to the campaign.
As it has in the past, CFFC is using distorted data to argue that a "large number" of women each year in Brazil are hospitalized due to back alley abortions.
CFFC will hold a meeting in Cais do Porto, which will be attended by the Special Secretary for Policies for Women, Nilceia Freire, and the president of the Hispanic division of Catholics for a Free Choice, Maria Jose Rosado.
Quito, Ecuador, Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - The secretary general of the Bishops Conference of Ecuador, Bishop Jose Vicente Eguiguren Samaniego, is calling on the government to guarantee the right to protest in the streets of the country.
The bishop said a recent march organized by city officials in Guayaquil is "a democratic right of citizens." He said authorities have the duty to ensure the demonstrations are peaceful.
The march was organized by the city government of Guayaquil in part in order to demand the government grant approval to private security firms that would act in parallel with the police force.
At the same time, groups allied with the federal government organized their own counter-protest in Guayaquil. The government has called on both groups to refrain from protesting in order not to prove confrontations.
Rome, Italy, Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - Two Italian priests are outraged by a company that has used the image of the Virgin Mary for an ad campaign, calling it “blasphemy” and “profanity,” reported the AFP.
The ad in Saturday's daily newspapers shows a miniature statue of the Virgin Mary on the dashboard of a car holding a miniature wheel. The ad, placed by a company specializing in online auto taxation and registration services, was intended to their services in paying car tax.
"I find this is a clear offence to good taste, showing a lack of respect for all believers and a clear and manifest blasphemy," said well-known commentator Fr. Antonio Mazzi.
"I don't think it's altogether correct to exploit one of the most sacred figures in Christianity in such an unconsidered way,” he said.
Theologian and political commentator Fr. Gianni Baget Bozzo described the ad campaign as a "profanity."
Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 26, 2005 (CNA) - The worldwide 2004 box-office hit “The Passion of the Christ” was shut out in the nominations for best picture category of the Oscars.
Mel Gibson’s film on the last hours of Christ’s life was also out of all of the other major award categories. It did, however, land three minor nominations for makeup, cinematography and score. It won a People's Choice Award for best drama film earlier this month.
Liberal documentary filmmaker Michael Moore was also shut out of the best picture category for his anti-Bush flick "Fahrenheit 9/11."
He had withdrawn his film from the documentary category, which he won two years ago for "Bowling for Columbine," in order to take his chances on the best picture prize. No documentary has ever won best picture in Oscar history.
Despite Gibson’s Passion of the Christ being overlooked, Catholic League President William Donahue questioned, “so how do we explain the three nominations, even if they are second-tier categories? Chalk it up to Hollywood guilt. Having been criticized for months for not giving Mel a fair shake, it looks like the Hollywood elite got the message. In any event, it seems plain that Catholic guilt has been successfully exported to Hollywood. And by any standard, this is truly a miracle for the ages.”
Donahue cited numerous Hollywood observers including an article in Newsweek, which claimed, “A lot of older Academy voters, who are largely Jewish, refuse to even see this movie.”
The article further noted that, “Hollywood, with its Jewish roots, did not experience ‘The Passion’ as a transcendent religious and emotional event, as many other viewers did.”