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Archive of January 28, 2005

Martyrdom would have been too easy for Pius XII, says Italian professor

Rome, Italy, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Pius XII was a heroic leader, who kept the Church intact and saved the lives of many with his wise decisions during World War II, says an Italian professor and specialist in religious geopolitics.

As the debate rages on in some Jewish and Christian camps about whether the wartime Pope should be beatified, University of Florence professor Pietro De Marco says Pius XII would be “a lofty model of charismatic responsibility and rational rigor” if the Church moved ahead with the beatification.

Critics have accused Pope Pius XII of not having done enough to stop the arrest, torture and extermination of the Jews and others targeted by the Nazis during World War II. The Vatican is expected to begin reviewing documents for the former Pope’s cause for the sainthood this spring.

De Marco, who is also a professor at the Theological Faculty of Central Italy, shares his analysis of Pius’s pontificate in his article “Towards an Evaluation of Pius XII,” published by http://www.chiesa.espressonline.it/index.jsp?eng=y

Pius XII “did what his conscience told him,” writes De Marco. “And it was the conscience of a pope, [who was] responsible for the universal Church and for the spiritual and, at that moment, even physical health of many,” he underlines.

“From the safety of his position between spiritual guide and head of state, he worked in practical ways for the good of many, and to an enormous extent, I believe,” he writes.

“It was the pope’s impenetrable brilliance and his capacity as a leader that stopped Hitler at the gates of Vatican City,” De Marco states.

The professor speculates that Hitler was probably affected by Pope Pius XII’s “extraordinary degree of political-religious charisma, and by the fear that laying hands on the pontiff would have had a delegitimizing, profaning effect upon him.

“In short, the only foundation and the only arena of political action that remained for Pius XII in the face of Hitler was his person, as the ‘Pope's body,’ and his charisma of authority,” De Marco offers. “He wanted these to remain free and operative, and he kept them so for as long as he could.”

This, De Marco believes, “saved the lives of many.”

De Marco writes that it would be too simple to state that the Pope should have acted and spoken, even at the risk of martyrdom.

“Martyrdom would have been only a liberation from the burdens of office, from the daily exercise of charisma,” De Marco says.

“In Pius XII, therefore, there is manifested the heroism of the one who works under extreme responsibility, in the exceptional situation,” he states. “It is the sanctity of the rock, the marvelous Catholic sanctity that flows from decisive action, and not from homilies.

“The miracle of Pius XII is that of the house built upon the rock (Mt. 7:24), which he kept intact in silence – and by virtue of silence – and which was thereby capable of providing shelter and protection in a place that words would have destroyed,” he concludes.

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Priests for Life supports baby burial

, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - Priests for Life voiced their strong support yesterday for the activities conducted by Christians in Boulder, Colo., who for the last decade have buried the remains of babies who were aborted.

The church’s activity received much criticism and enraged pro-abortion groups. Crist Mortuary, which had been sending the remains to the church, issued a public apology to local hospitals and clinics this week for having done this.

"Some pro-abortion activists will protest the Sacred Heart of Mary Church in Boulder, for having held a religious ceremony to bury the dead. Obviously, these protestors are no friends of religious freedom," said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of the organization.

“They should be ashamed of themselves.”

Fr. Pavone said Priests for Life will organize major ceremonies to bury aborted babies in the coming year.

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UN report shows dramatic increase in contraception and divorce worldwide

, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - Fertility levels have plummeted in the last 30 years while divorce rates and the use of contraceptives have increased worldwide, says a new UN report. 

According to an article by the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, the UN’s World Fertility Report 2003 says developing countries experienced the most dramatic declines between 1970 and 2000. China had one of the largest reductions of about four children per woman. 

In developed countries, the median total fertility fell by 0.8 children per woman.

The report, issued by the UN Population Division (UNPD) this week, documents that by the late 1990s, only four developed countries, including the United States, "reported a total fertility of two children per woman or higher."

Fourteen developed countries had fertility levels "lower than 1.3 children per woman, an unprecedented low level of fertility in the recorded history of large populations."

Despite dropping fertility rates, nearly half of the world's governments want to further reduce the fertility of their citizens, and almost all governments now support family planning programs and the distribution of contraceptives, says the report.

Since 2001, the median use of modern contraceptives in developing countries is 30 percent, up from 18 percent in the 1970s. In a quarter of developing countries, 62 percent or more of women who are married or in unions use contraceptives.

The median use of modern contraception has also increased in developed countries from 54 to 61 per cent of women currently married or in union. Only Austria recorded a drop, by nearly 10 percent.

The median divorce rate in developed countries increased since the 1970s from 13 divorces per 100 men and women to 24 divorces per 100 men and 27 per 100 women in the 1990s.

Developing countries have also seen a tripled divorce rate for women, from five to 15 divorces per 100 women, and a rise from seven to 12 divorces per 100 men.

According to the report, "both men and women are spending longer periods of their life being single." In developed countries in the 1990s, only 43 percent of men and 62 percent of women aged 25-29 had ever been married.

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Pope encourages “real bonds of communion” between Christians of East and West

Vatican City, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - The Holy Father this morning extended his, "fraternal best wishes to my venerable brothers, the heads of your Churches" as he met with twenty-seven members of the International Commission for Theological Dialogue between representatives of the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The group were received in the Concistory Hall of the Vatican by the Holy Father, who thanked His Grace Anba Bishoy for "his kind words."

"I join you," said John Paul II, "in praying that the real bonds of communion between us may be further strengthened through a spirituality of communion which contemplates 'the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us', and sees 'what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God'.”

With these sentiments, I encourage your efforts to foster mutual understanding and communion between Christians of East and West, and I invoke the blessings of Almighty God upon your deliberations."

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Pope will support Armenian efforts for “solid and lasting peace”

Vatican City, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - This morning Pope John Paul II received Robert Kocharian, president of the Republic of Armenia to the Vatican, and recalled their previous meetings, first, in the Vatican in 1999 and later in Yerevan in 2001, during the Pope's apostolic visit to Armenia.

The Pope told the president of his "sincere appreciation for the good relations between the Holy See and the government of your country. I know that the Catholic community is welcomed and respected, and that its various activities contribute to the well-being of the entire nation."

He went on, "Everyone earnestly hopes that the collaboration between the Holy See and the Armenian government will continue to grow and, where the situation calls for it, that eventual improvements to the status of the Catholic Church will be made."

The Holy Father also gave assurances of the "friendly and respectful relations between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church.”

This understanding, which is even more active thanks to the initiative of the Catholicos Karekin II, will certainly have positive repercussions for the peaceful coexistence of the entire Armenian people, who are called to face no small number of social and economic challenges."

"I also hope," said the Holy Father, "that true and lasting peace comes to the region of Nagorno-Karabagh where you, President Kocharian, come from. This will come about by a decisive refusal of violence and a patient dialogue between the parties, thanks also to active international mediation."

The Pope concluded by recalling that the Holy See, "which over the centuries has not failed to denounce violence and defend the rights of the weak, will continue to support all efforts aimed at building a solid and lasting peace."

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John Paul II appoints new Bishop of Wichita

Vatican City, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - Today, the Holy Father appointed Msgr. Michael Owen Jackels of Lincoln, Nebraska, as bishop of Wichita.

The diocese of Wichita is home to 115,482 Catholics, 130 priests, 333 religious and 3 deacons, with an overall population of 949,385.

The bishop-elect was born in Rapid City South Dakota, in 1954, and ordained a priest in 1981. He is an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

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Holy See sponsoring contest to promote classical languages

Vatican City, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - The Holy See announced this week it will sponsor a contest for articles and reports on film and television that highlight the contribution of the classical languages “in the scientific and cultural development of Europe.”

The Pontifical Council for Historical Science explained that “the progressive decline of knowledge of Greek and Latin means a growing number of students will not be capable of undertaking not only historical studies, but also philological, philosophical and theological studies as well.”

Sources with the Council said the contest seeks to promote an “increase in the teaching of classical languages in European schools and universities and in countries with European cultures.”

Awards will be given for articles published in film and television newspapers and journals that “reflect the significance of Latin and Greek for the scientific and cultural development of Europe.”

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Archeologist finds evidence of Old Testament validity

Hamilton, Ontario, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - Canadian archaeologist Russell Adams, a professor at McMaster University has recently unearthed evidence, which helps to show the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Professor Adams and his team of colleagues have found information that points to the existence of the Biblical Kingdom of Edom existing at precisely the time Scripture claims it existed.

The evidence flies in the face of a common belief that Edom actually came into existence at least 200 years later.

According to the Canadian Globe and Mail, the group’s findings “mean that those scholars convinced that the Hebrew Old Testament is at best a compendium of revisionist, fragmented history, mixed with folklore and theology, and at worst a piece of outright propaganda, likely will have to apply the brakes to their thinking.”

The Kingdom of Edom, mentioned throughout the Old Testament, and a continuous source of hostility for Biblical Israel, is thought to have existed in what is now southern Jordan.

The group made their discovery while investigating a copper mining site called Khirbat en-Nahas.

According to the Globe and Mail, radiocarbon dating of their finds, “firmly established that occupation of the site began in the 11th century BC and a monumental fortress was built in the 10th century BC, supporting the argument for existence of an Edomite state at least 200 years earlier than had been assumed.”

The evidence is also said to suggest that the Kingdom existed at the same time David, who scripture recounts as warring with Edom, was king over Israel.

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New book explores Catholic on-line relationships

Front Royal, Va., Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - A new book recently released by Ave Maria Singles, an online service for “faith-filled, marriage-minded” Catholics, explores the stories of 25 married couples who have met over the increasingly popular internet site.

The book strives to dispel the negative image associated with on-line relationships and shows the ways God has used this new medium for tremendous good. Ave Maria Singles website clarifies that they are not an online dating service, but rather a service for those serious Catholics looking toward marriage.

Anthony J. Buono, president of Ave Maria Singles shares in the book’s introduction that the stories show that, “romance blossomed and flourished among Catholics of different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds, situations, and often from great distances.”

He says, “the Internet is a modern technological wonder that has the power to connect people who otherwise would have absolutely no way to come into contact with each other.”

The book is said to be aimed at showing the hope in a massive industry in which the unpleasant stories “seem to be more readily available than success stories.”

So far, Ave Maria Singles has led to 318 marriages and is currently celebrating 121 engagements.

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University holds conference exploring spiritual meaning of education

Steubenville, Ohio, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - On Saturday, January 22nd, students, faculty and staff at Franciscan University of Steubenville held a unique event investigating the intellectual and spiritual dimensions of education.

"Be Transformed in Spirit and Mind: A Conference on Prayer and Learning", brought together a collaboration of students and faculty “unlike any other to date”, said the university.

"The synthesis of religious piety and secular learning are joined in the most natural and organic way”, Dr. Regis Martin, a well-known speaker and professor of Theology at the University told participants. “Without geometry and piety, the great Gothic cathedrals could not have been made."

Professor James Gaston from the University likewise acknowledged that the purpose of higher education “is learning to think, learning to learn, learning to search for the truth."

The conference ultimately explored the idea that the learning process should not be separated from one’s own personal striving for holiness.

Franciscan University is one of a handful of colleges and universities across the country whose faculty take oaths of fidelity to be true to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

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American Collegians for Life conference draws student leaders from around the U.S.

Washington D.C., Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - Last weekend, over 300 students from college and university campuses across the nation gathered at Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. to affirm the dignity of all human life.

The annual American Collegians for Life conference brings together student leaders from across the country to encourage the grass roots growth of the pro-life movement on campus.

According to American Collegians for Life’s website, the conference is a weekend of “education, training, and networking with fellow college students who care to make a difference on their college and university campuses by proclaiming the pro-life message.”

The weekend’s speakers included Serrin Foster, President of Feminists for Life, Richard M. Doerflinger, Deputy Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the USCCB, and Stephanie Gray, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Robert Enzaldo, a student at the University of Colorado commented that, “this conference helped me understand that being pro-life wasn't not merely a Catholic issue, but more broadly, a human-rights issue.”

During her talk, Foster stressed that “all people are equal; but all choices are not.”

According to the website, American Collegians for Life is “the nation's oldest pro-life organization wholly devoted to educating college students about the medical and ethical issues of abortion, euthanasia, and infanticide.”

The weekend was followed by the Vigil Mass for life, co-sponsored by the USCCB, celebrated by William Cardinal Keeler at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as well as the March for Life on Monday commemorating the 32nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision.

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Mexican priest warns sects do not have a right to get rich off of God

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - The rector of the Cathedral of León, Father Jose Salome Lemus, warned this week that no religious institution has the right to profit by demanding donation quotas and taking advantage of people’s good will.

Speaking to local reporters, Father Salome said, “Any group which professes a faith…must not take advantage” of the needs and circumstances of the people.  He was alluding to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, a sect from Brazil that has now established a presence in Mexico.

Local media reports that the sect, known for its slogan “Stop Suffering,” demands its followers make “sacrifices” of more than $100 for the “Great Campaign of Israel,” a crusade in which members offer their prayer intentions to overcome their illnesses.

Father Salome said that while “everyone is saddened by the problem of illness” and other problems people suffer, “it is not ethically or morally correct” that certain groups take advantage of people and demand money, “putting religion in the middle.”

He explained that if a person wishes to thank God for His kindness through tithing, he should do so by “helping the sick and those in need.”  “It doesn’t always have to be an offering of money,” he said, but if a believer wishes to give, it should be “according to his means,” and not according to somebody’s minimum amount.

Lastly, he said the authenticity of this “church” was in doubt, because “its founders do not act like Christians very much, and I can say that they do not act like Catholics at all.”

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Build a society based on Christian principals, says Dominican Republic bishop

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Amancio Escapa of the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo is encouraging the faithful to work to build a country in which the Christian principles of freedom, justice and human solidarity prevail.

During a Mass marking the 192nd anniversary of the birth of Juan Pablo Duarte, who was a leading figure in the country’s fight to gain independence, Bishop Escapa said only by maintaining of faith and working together can society’s ills be overcome.

As he reminded Dominicans that they should be the protagonists of their own development, he pointed out that many people demand rights, but they do not fulfill their duties.  He added that before demanding something from the country, one should think first of what one can do for the country.

Bishop Escapa maintained the Dominican Republic could be better if there were more dialogue in seeking out the common good, rather than fighting to impose on everyone else one’s particular interests through political quarrels, corruption and other human weaknesses that prevent development.

He added that the country’s progress depends on everyone, and that government cannot be depended on to solve every problem in society.

The Mass in honor of Juan Pablo Duarte was celebrated at the Church of St. Barbara, where he was baptized in 1813.  Bishop Escapa said Dominicans today should follow Duarte’s example of “noble ideals based on Christianity and the defense of the rights of Dominicans.”

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Archbishop of La Paz encourages Bolivians to preserve unity and democracy in the country

La Paz, Bolivia, Jan 28, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Edmundo Abastoflor of La Paz, Bolivia, is calling on the government and on the Bolivian people to “dialogue untiringly” in order “to persevere the unity and democracy” of this South American country.

During a visit to the headquarters of Adveniat in Essen, Germany, the archbishop said, “We need to be patient, to seek dialogue and find solutions for the betterment of the country through peaceful means and not through violence.”  Bolivia has seen an outbreak of violence recently in connection with the extreme economic measures taken by President Carlos Mesa at the end of 2004.

Archbishop Abastoflor’s visited Adveniat, a charitable organization under the auspices of the Bishops Conference of Germany, in order to discuss the situation facing Bolivia and to see what kind of assistance Adveniat could provide his archdiocese.

“We must make an effort to find unity and to walk together in democratic diversity in order to attain stability and progress in the country,” Archbishop Abastoflor stated.  “The possibility of greater autonomy for the different regions and provinces is good, as long as this does not lead to a breakdown in the fundamental unity of the Bolivia.”

The archbishop stressed the need for dialogue to find solutions to the country’s problems and he reiterated the Church’s offer to mediate talks between the different factions in the country.

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