Vatican City, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - The Pope used the words of Moses to express his theme for Lent 2005, which was published today in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish and dated September 8th, 2004.
The theme, taken from Deuteronomy 30:20 is "Loving the Lord ... means life to you, and length of days."
The Pope says these words of Moses invite the people "to embrace the Covenant with Yahweh in the country of Moab 'that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord, your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him'."
Following are excerpts from the Message:
"It is upon this theme that I would like to ask you to reflect during this Lent, in order to deepen the awareness of the role that the elderly are called to play in society and in the Church, and thus to prepare your hearts for the loving welcome that should always be reserved for them.”
Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number of elderly.”
This demands a more specific attention to the world of so-called 'old' age, in order to help its members to live their full potential by placing them at the service of the entire community. The care of the elderly, above all when they pass through difficult moments, must be of great concern to all the faithful, especially in the ecclesial communities of Western societies, where the problem is particularly present.”
"Human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages. The Commandment, 'You shall not kill', always requires respecting and promoting human life, from its beginning to its natural end.”
It is a command that applies even in the presence of illness and when physical weakness reduces the person's ability to be self-reliant."
The elderly need to be understood and helped in this perspective. I wish, here, to express my appreciation to those who dedicate themselves to fulfilling these needs, and I also call upon other people of good will to take advantage of Lent for making their own personal contribution."
It is necessary to raise the awareness in public opinion that the elderly represent, in any case, a resource to be valued.”
For this reason, economic support and legislative initiatives, which allow them not to be excluded from social life, must be strengthened.”
In truth, during the last decade, society has become more attentive to their needs, and medicine has developed palliative cures that, along with an integral approach to the sick person, are particularly beneficial for long-term patients."
Knowledge of the nearness of the final goal leads the elderly person to focus on that which is essential, giving importance to those things that the passing of years do not destroy.”
Precisely because of this condition, the elderly person can carry out his or her role in society. If it is true that man lives upon the heritage of those who preceded him, and that his future depends definitively on how the cultural values of his own people are transmitted to him, then the wisdom and experience of the elderly can illuminate his path on the way of progress toward an ever more complete form of civilization."
What would happen if the People of God yielded to a certain current mentality that considers these people, our brothers and sisters, as almost useless when they are reduced in their capacities due to the difficulties of age or sickness?”
Instead, how different the community would be, if, beginning with the family, it tries always to remain open and welcoming towards them."
> Read the full message of His Holiness John Paul II for Lent 2005 at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=50
Vatican City, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - "Loving the Lord ... means life to you and length of days" was announced today as the Holy Father’s theme for this Lent, based on Deuteronomy 30:20.
Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", and Bishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Namur, Belgium, an expert in questions relating to euthanasia, presented Pope John Paul II’s message this morning in the Vatican press office.
Archbishop Cordes affirmed that "the current relevance of the Message is clear when the Pope writes: 'Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number of elderly'."
The archbishop pointed out how "the number of elderly people has increased rapidly over recent years, while at the same time the number of young people has diminished," consequently "a small percentage of young people must bear the burden of the large number of elderly."
"It is clear that, with these new imbalances, the social cost of caring for the elderly constitutes a danger for the younger working population. This, in turn, may generate tension between the two groups or - as has already been written - a 'war of generations.'”
“Also evident”, he said, “is the fear arising in young people, when they find themselves dependent, as a minority, on elderly people whose security, health and support they must at the same time guarantee."
The president of "Cor Unum" indicated that "young people are becoming ever more aware that the elderly are an onus with various implications.”
They cost too much, they occupy living and housing space, they limit free time and amusement, they remind the young of their own future, they touch our feelings when they suffer and they thus indicate our own future suffering.”
Why, then, not remove them from sight? Why not exile them behind high walls? Why not offer them an agreeable death, and so get rid of them for good?
"There are associations that promote the 'right' - as they call it - to a 'dignified death.' The world of science offers concrete means to this end, cinema seeks to incite emotional attacks against existing laws, and politicians look to a new culture - the culture of death."
"Politicians must not be allowed to sacrifice man's dignity to populist or economic interests," the archbishop concluded. "The dignity of man is untouchable, because it is a gift of God. Yet we must exercise our influence not only on the state and society: Even in our private life - in the family and the neighborhood - we must be guided by these words of the Pope."
Bishop Leonard, recalling a phrase from the Pope's Lenten Message - "human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages" - then spoke about euthanasia, which he defined as "an explicit act or omission which, of itself or in its intention, brings death with the aim of ending the suffering of a terminally ill person."
"Euthanasia in its true sense is not to be confused with the perfectly legal use of prescribed analgesic products that aim to suppress or alleviate pain, even though they may result in a shortening of life."
The Belgian bishop made reference to paragraph nine of Recommendation 1418, approved by the Council of Europe in 1999, which "categorically excludes recourse to euthanasia for the terminally ill or dying, highlighting that the terminally ill or dying person's wish to die cannot of itself constitute a legal justification to carry out actions intended to bring about death."
The bishop concluded by saying that in his Message, the Holy Father promotes a humanist approach.
"Let us hope that this positive attitude, in keeping not only with the Catholic faith but also with philosophical humanism, prevails over the terrible temptation of euthanasia."
Vatican City, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - Today, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, read a Message from Pope John Paul at a gathering of more than 30 world leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.
The cardinal is the Pope's special envoy to these commemorative ceremonies. The Message was dated January 15.
The Holy Father called what happened in Auschwitz "the tragic fruit of programmed hatred," and said we must remember the millions "who, through no fault of their own, bore inhuman sufferings and were annihilated in the gas chambers and crematoriums."
He recalled his 1979 trip, as Pope, to Auschwitz, where he "paused before memorial stones with dedications to the victims in many languages, ... stopping the longest before those written in Hebrew.”
The Pope recalled saying, “This people has its origins in Abraham, who is also our father in faith, as Paul of Tarsus said.”
This very people, who received from God the commandment 'Thou shall not kill', itself experienced in a special measure what it means to kill… No one can stop in front of these memorials with indifference.”
I repeat those words today. No one may overlook the tragedy of the Shoah. That attempt at a systematic destruction of an entire people falls like a shadow over Europe and the entire world; it is a crime that forever darkens the history of mankind.”
May this serve as a warning, today and for the future: there can never be a yielding to ideologies which justify trampling on human dignity on the basis of differences in race, skin color, language or religion.”
I appeal to everyone, and especially to those who, in the name of religion, would resort to acts of oppression and terror."
The Holy Father said these reflections "accompanied" him at the penitential liturgy in St. Peter's during the Jubilee Year 2000 and on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land when he visited the Yad Vashem holocaust monument in Jerusalem.
Continuing with memories of his 1979 trip to Auschwitz, John Paul II recalled the many memorials there written in Russian, noting that, "the Russians had the highest number of people who so tragically lost their lives (in the war). The Roma were also destined to total extermination in Hitler's plan."
Referring to the memorials inscribed in his native Polish, the Holy Father quoted his words from 1979, when he said that Auschwitz represented "yet another stage in the centuries-old struggle of this nation, my nation, for its fundamental rights among the peoples of Europe.”
Yet another loud cry for the right to have a place of its own on the map of Europe. Yet another painful reckoning with the conscience of humanity.”
The affirmation of this truth was a call for historical justice for this nation, which had made such great sacrifices in the cause of Europe's liberation from the infamous Nazi ideology, and which had been sold into slavery to another destructive ideology: that of Soviet communism."
Pope John Paul said that, on that 1979 visit, and unceasingly since then, he has prayed for world peace, for respect for human dignity, for the rights of everyone "to seek the truth in freedom, and to follow the moral law."
He underscored that, in the midst of unspeakable suffering, there were also great heroes, prisoners who "showed love not only for their fellow prisoners, but also for their tormentors.”
Many did so out of love for God and for man; others in the name of the highest spiritual values." He said such behavior demonstrated what the Bible often speaks of: "Even though man is capable of evil, and at times boundless evil, evil itself will never have the last word."
In conclusion, the Holy Father said that today's ceremonies were principally "to honor the dead, to acknowledge historical reality and above all to ensure that those terrible events will serve as a summons for the men and women of today to ever greater responsibility for our common history.”
Never again, in any part of the world, must others experience what was experienced by these men and women whom we have mourned for sixty years!"
Vatican City, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - At midday today, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration concerning a communique released yesterday by the Spanish Foreign Ministry on the Holy Father's address to Spanish prelates during their "ad limina" visit on January 24, 2005.
It stated that Vatican officials, “have studied the communique released by the Administrative Office for External Communications of the Foreign Ministry of Madrid.”
For our part, we suggest an attentive reading of the entire papal address, which clearly illustrates the position of the Church”, the Holy See said.
“We note with satisfaction the will of the Spanish government to maintain a fruitful understanding with the Church by means of a permanent dialogue animated by mutual respect, as the communique itself says.”
This has been and always will be the policy of the Holy See."
Denver, Colo., Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - Just a few years ago, Jay Gould was a millionaire. Today, he owns virtually nothing and serves the poor in a downtrodden Denver Colorado neighbourhood.
Gould gave away his fortune to become part of the Franciscan Friends of the Poor, a group of three men who serve the poor in Denver and are now seeking to become a formal religious order.
According to the Denver Catholic Register, the group is located in a part of town that draws many homeless which is, “an ideal spot to provide the poor with a meal, clothing and acknowledgement of their humanity despite economic hardship.”
The Franciscan Friends, including Gould, Baldemar Garza, and John Stapleton take their inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi and are working on plans to build a new 5,700 square-foot structure behind the location where they currently serve Denver’s poor.
The spiritual director for the group, Fr. Dan Barron, pastor of a nearby parish, told the Denver Register that, “the archbishop has begun a dialogue with them and is very pleased by their willingness to be in formation, to seek counsel, and obey their shepherd.”
Louisville, Colo., Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - A Colorado hospital will now ask its female patients where they want fetal remains to be buried, after a miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion. Avista Adventist Hospital has taken on this new policy after learning that Crist Mortuary in Boulder was sending fetal remains, which they had received from the hospital for cremation, to a Catholic cemetery.
The mortuary apologized to the hospital this week, which was unaware of the practice.
News that the mortuary was sending the ashes to Sacred Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Boulder for almost a decade to be part of a Catholic memorial dedicated to aborted children, caused outrage among pro-abortion groups.
The mortuary also returned the ashes of several hundred fetuses to the Boulder Abortion Clinic, which asked for them back after hearing the news.
Montreal, Canada, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - A coalition of Quebec-based Catholic organizations launched a postcard campaign yesterday, which they hope will persuade Parliamentarians to vote against the same-sex marriage legislation Paul Martin’s Liberal government is expected to introduce next week.
The SOS Marriage Coalition is urging citizens to sign and mail a postcard, which indicates that they do not support the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples, to their members of Parliament.
The Quebec coalition includes the Knights of Columbus, the Quebec Catholic Lawyers Association, a pro-life group called Campagne Québec-Vie, and the Association of Catholic Parents of Quebec. The press release stated that the coalition has the support of the Assembly of Quebec Bishops. The coalition has chapters across Canada.
Prime Minister Paul Martin's position in favor of same-sex marriage is linked to "electoral motivations that have nothing to do with the future of the country and the well-being of families and children," Quebec spokesman Emile Colas told the news conference yesterday.
"We are in a virtual dictatorship because [Liberal] cabinet ministers don't have the right to vote, and if they are opposed they have to call in sick that day," said Colas, honorary president of the Quebec Catholic Lawyers Association.
Frederiction, Canada, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler said yesterday the government will introduce the same-sex marriage bill as soon as Parliament returns from its winter break Monday. The minister made this announcement during a three-day Liberal retreat in Fredericton, N.B.
Prime Minister Paul Martin has said repeatedly in the last few weeks that he intends to legalize same-sex marriage as a matter of constitutional rights.
During the election campaign last spring, Martin said the legislation would be put to a free vote in Parliament. While this still applies for Liberal backbenchers, Martin has required his 38-member cabinet to vote in favor. This, say analysts, will give the bill enough votes to pass.
Conservative leader Stephen Harper says that most Canadians support the Conservative view that maintains the traditional definition of marriage but creates civil unions for same-sex couples.
He said his party is trying to find a solution that “respects tradition and respects rights at the same time and is one that most Canadians could live with," he said. "Most Canadians want to see some kind of middle ground on this issue."
Cotler tried to appease concerns by ensuring the opposition that the law will not have any impact on religious groups.
"It does not touch the issue of religious marriage, it does not touch the conception of marriage that any of our faiths have," he said.
Ontario MP and Liberal backbencher John McKay said he will vote against the bill. He dismissed Cotler's claim that churches won't eventually be affected.
"I just don't really think people have thought about where this is all going," he said. "Anybody who refuses to marry same-sex couples will necessarily lose that protection over time. It's an untenable position."
Wichita, Kan., Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - Operation Rescue filed a complaint with the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, asking for the suspension of abortion doctor George Tiller's medical license, pending an investigation into the tragic death of a woman who had an abortion at his clinic.
The group organized a candlelight prayer vigil today outside Wesley Medical Center in memory of the woman, who died from abortion complications there two weeks ago.
Operation Rescue staff witnessed the arrival of the woman at Wesley's Emergency Room Jan. 13. She had been transported from Women's Health Care Services, the late-term abortion clinic, owned and operated by Tiller.
Operation Rescue later learned that the woman had suffered severe hemorrhaging and had died a fews days later.
"We will not allow the plight of this woman to be swept under the rug,” said Operation Rescue president Troy Newman. “A woman has died an untimely and tragic death and that demands investigation by the appropriate authorities. We will pray for justice to be done on her behalf and for comfort for her bereaved family."
Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - More than 300 students from college campuses across the nation converged at the Catholic University of America last weekend to affirm that human life is sacred at all stages of development.
The national pro-life organization, American Collegians for Life, met in Washington last weekend for its 18th annual leadership conference. The goal of the student-run organization is to educate students on ethical issues of abortion, euthanasia and infanticide.
The weekend conference challenged the notion that abortion is a right and a choice with the position that women deserve better and that all persons, at all stages of life, must be allowed the right to life.
The conference featured distinguished speakers, including Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life; Richard M. Doerflinger, deputy director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and Stephanie Gray, executive director of the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.
The USCCB sponsored the Vigil Mass for Life that followed the weekend. William Cardinal Keeler celebrated the mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
The students also participated in the March for Life Jan. 24. They joined tens of thousands of pro-life demonstrators on the Ellipse to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
Vatican City, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano singled out an Italian mother for her decision to forego medical treatment doctors said she needed to save her life but that would have resulted in the death of her unborn child.
The official Vatican newspaper compared Rita Fedrizzi with the beloved and recently canonized St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who died in 1962 after contracting cancer while she was pregnant with her fourth child. St. Gianna was herself a doctor and decided to forego cancer treatment that would have caused her to lose her baby. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2003 and has become a symbol for all those who defend the life of the unborn.
Similarly, Fedrizzi, 41, died after opting out of treatment for the cancer she was diagnosed with at the same time she had become pregnant, because it would have meant the death of her unborn child. The L’Osservatore Romano wrote that Fedrizzi “was aware there was little chance of survival if she gave birth. Nevertheless, she was firm in her decision to receive a new life, offering up her own.”
“Rita’s decision, which I always shared with her, was a decision of faith,” her husband Enrico Ferrari told the Italian news agency ANSA, adding that, “each time someone recommended she obtain an abortion so she could survive, she would say that that was like ‘asking me to kill one of my other two children in order to save my own skin’.” Federizzi is survived by her husband and three children, 10, 12, and 3 month-old Fernando, for whom she gave up her life.
Barcelona, Spain, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, said this week the family is a “patrimony of humanity that does not belong to anybody, not even to politicians and lawmakers, who want to invent their own models as if they were the creators.”
The cardinal said the first priority should be “the humanization of the family, as the beginning of our own humanization.”
According to Cardinal Trujillo, “The State cannot suffocate societies with a falsification of democracy,” because “the family is not just an appendix of the State and cannot be treated as an object.”
“Conceiving of the family in another way is a very huge change that has no basis in the culture,” the cardinal added.
Likewise, he warned that the eventual legalization of homosexual unions “has no tomorrow, nor promises nothing to society.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Jorge Lona of San Luis, Argentina, said last week the “anti-catholic” press twisted the statements of the Secretary of the Bishops Conference of Spain regarding condoms and later portrayed the clarification by the Conference as a “reversal.”
“There is a large sector of the international media that is against the Church and is trying to confuse people about our position,” Bishop Lona told the Argentinean daily “Diario de la Republica.”
He said the entire incident was due to an intentionally “poor journalistic interpretation” and that it was not a coincidence that the “supposed news” quickly spread around the world.
His diocese republished the statement from the Bishops Conference in its weekly bulletin “Ave Maria.”
“That statement by the leaders and by the protagonists of this story, the members of the Bishops Conference of Spain, clarifies what really happened,” Bishop Lona said.
He reiterated the teaching of the Church that the “fundamental elements in the fight against AIDS should be abstinence and conjugal fidelity. This is how people can be sure they will not contract the disease. The other way is prone to failure with fatal consequences,” he warned.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - This week at the parish of St. Augustine in Tlalpan, Mexico, the first ever Canon Law Department of the Pontifical University of Mexico was inaugurated.
The event was attended by the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and the Archbishop of Mexico, Cardinal Norberto Rivera.
During the celebration of Mass, Cardinal Rivera said that with the establishing of the department “the one hundred year-old academic tradition of the Catholic Church in Mexico has been fully restored.”
The Cardinal prayed to God for “light to overcome difficulties and to be faithful to the commitment this new challenge represents.”
For his part, Cardinal Grocholewski centered his homily on the role the Eucharist plays in the heart of the Church, and especially, at the university. “Our whole Christian life must be a preparation for participating fully in the Eucharist, our whole life must be oriented toward the Eucharist,” he said.
During the inauguration, the rector of the University, Father Roberto Jaramillo, said, “Today the three departments that were the foundation for the first college studies in this country have come together again
Courses in Canon Law at the Pontifical University of Mexico were first offered when the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico opened on January 25, 1553. After various stages and reorganizations, Pope Pius XI promulgated new norms in 1931 for the Pontifical Universities which, together with political problems and the hostility of the government of Mexico toward the Church, led to the closing of the University.
With its reopening in 1982, the University offered Canon Law studies as a part of its theology program until 1995, when the Congregation for Catholic Education raised the University to an Autonomous Higher Institution of Canonical Right. In October of 2004 the decree allowing the creation of the department was promulgated.
Rome, Italy, Jan 27, 2005 (CNA) - A mountain in the Apennines of Italy has been renamed “Wojtyla Peak” in honor of Pope John Paul II.
The mountain, which reaches an altitude of 1391 feet, did not have formal name, and therefore officials from the town of L’Aquila decided to name it after the beloved Pope.
Likewise, a path which runs from the parish of San Pietro della Jenca towards the peak will be called “John Paul II Way.”
The local mayor, Biagio Tempesta, said the name would be honor of the walks John Paul II took one time in the area.