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Archive of February 1, 2005

Pope John Paul II hospitalized for flu complications

Vatican City, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II has been hospitalized in Rome, CNA has learned. The ailing pontiff was taken to the Agostino Gemelli Hospital at 10:50 p.m. Rome time and is undergoing medical exams at the Hospital’s 10th  floor.

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the decision was a precautionary one and that there is no cause for alarm.

On Sunday the Vatican announced the Pope had joined the thousands of Italians who have come down with flu in recent weeks due to a cold spell that has gripped the region. 

The Pope’s bout with the flu led to cancellations of his activities for most of this week, including the Wednesday General Audience. 

According to Vatican sources, the Pope is suffering from an acute infection of the respiratory tract.

The hospital where the Pope was admitted is the same one where he recovered from the attempt on his life in 1981.

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Pope says priestly candidates must be capable of living celibacy

Vatican City, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - In a message made public today, the Holy Father stressed that seminaries must carefully verify the capability of their candidates to live a celibate life from the moment of their admittance. He particularly underlined the fact that this must happen immediately on their entrance into the seminary.

The message was written to Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and to participants in that dicastery's plenary assembly, which is currently examining certain questions concerning seminaries, ecclesiastical faculties and Catholic universities.
 
Pope John Paul II first highlighted the fact that "in the light of current social and cultural changes, it may sometimes prove useful for educators to avail themselves of the work of competent specialists in order to help seminarians understand the requirements of the priesthood more fully, recognizing celibacy as a gift of love to the Lord and to one's brothers.”

At the moment that young men are admitted to the seminary, their suitableness for living a celibate life must be carefully verified, so that, prior to ordination, they achieve a moral certainty concerning their emotive and sexual maturity."
 
The Pope also pointed out that, since science and technology are developing at great speed, ecclesiastical faculties and Catholic universities are called to "continual renewal," and, after highlighting the usefulness of interdisciplinary dialogue, he affirms how "the encounter with theology and with 'a philosophy of genuinely metaphysical range' is particularly fruitful."
 
The Holy Father expresses the heartfelt desire for "the teaching of religion to be universally recognized and to have an adequate role in the educational syllabus of scholastic institutions."
 
The Pope concluded his message with a mention of the "effective vocational work carried out by the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations," established by Pope Pius XII.

On this, he said, "I feel the spiritual initiative undertaken by this organization during the year dedicated to the Eucharist is particularly appropriate: that of creating, by prayer vigils in all continents, a prayer chain linking Christian communities all over the world."

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Report alleges Saudis spread hate through U.S. mosques

Washington D.C., Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - A Washington-based human rights group alleges that the Saudi Arabian government is disseminating propaganda through American mosques that teaches hatred of Jews and Christians.

The Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom issued a chilling 95-page report recently, called "Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques."

The report, which is the result of a yearlong investigation by Muslims and non-Muslims, concludes that documents issued by the Saudi government and available in American mosques and Islamic centers reflect a "totalitarian ideology of hatred that can incite violence."

The Center for Religious Freedom emphasizes that Saudi Arabia's "extremist Wahhabi ideology" is followed by a distinct minority of Sunni Muslims worldwide, and that “the millions of Muslims who have chosen to make America their home and are upstanding, law-abiding citizens."

The study examined various Saudi government publications, most of them in Arabic. According to the report, these documents assert it is a religious obligation for Muslims to hate Christians and Jews. They warn against imitating, befriending, or helping them in any way or taking part in their festivities and celebrations.

They also promote contempt for the United States and condemn democracy as un-Islamic.

The documents speak in “an authoritative religious voice” and stress that when Muslims are in the lands of the unbelievers, they must behave as if on a mission behind enemy lines, says the report. Either they are there to acquire new knowledge and make money (to be later employed in the jihad against the infidels), or they are there to proselytize. Any other reason for lingering among the unbelievers is illegitimate, and unless a Muslim leaves as quickly as possible, he or she is not a true Muslim.

Regarding those who convert out of Islam, the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs plainly states that they "should be killed."

Saudi textbooks and other publications in the collection, propagate a Nazi-like hatred for Jews, treat the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion as historical fact, and state that the Muslim's duty is to eliminate the state of Israel.

Regarding women, they instruct that they should be veiled, segregated from men and barred from certain employment and roles.

The report says the Saudi government “claims to be 'updating' or reforming its textbooks and study materials within the kingdom.” However, its current publications, which promote hatred, remain in American mosques and Islamic centers.

Read the full report at: http://freedomhouse.org/religion/pdfdocs/FINAL FINAL Saudi.pdf

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NY Bishop pulls sponsorship of Sen. Clinton event

Buffalo, N.Y., Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo pulled his support of a public speech U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton gave at the Jesuit-run Canisius College yesterday.

The bishop made the announcement in a statement over the weekend, clearly indicating that the diocese was “not associated with the planning or promotion of the lecture of Senator Hillary Clinton at Canisius College” and that it had been arranged “under the auspices of Canisius College without previous consultation.”

Although Catholic Charities was also listed as a sponsor of the lecture series, it, too, withdrew its sponsorship after learning that the Democratic New York senator would be one of the presenters.

Bishop Kmiec explained that he subscribes to the USCCB document "Catholics in Political Life," which states that “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principals with awards, honors or platforms.”

The document also states that the bishops are “committed to maintaining communications with public officials who make decisions everyday that touch issues of human life and dignity.”

“It is for that reason, despite calls for the cancellation of the event, that it was thought best to allow it to proceed, though reluctantly, in order to maintain channels of communciation with Senator Clinton and others who hold her views,” the bishop said in his statement.

The event proceeded as planned. Clinton, 57, delivered a speech on health care at the college in the afternoon, though she wasn’t in finest form. During an earlier speech yesterday at a luncheon at the Saturn Club in Buffalo, Clinton fainted citing a 24-hour virus. After immediate medial attention, the former first lady resumed her public schedule.

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Flu-like symptoms cause Holy Father to cancel Wednesday audience

Vatican City, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced this morning that the Holy Father will not hold his usual Wednesday audience scheduled for tomorrow.

 "As expected,” he said, “the flu-like symptoms affecting the Holy Father persist. As a consequence, his appointments for the coming days have been postponed. In particular, the general audience scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday February 2, will not take place."

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Pope focuses prayer on humane medical treatment, especially for the poor

Vatican City, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - Today, the Vatican announced the Holy Father's general prayer intention for the month of February.

The Pope prays this month "that the sick, and especially the poorest of them, may receive the care and medical treatment worthy of human beings."
 
The Holy See added that his mission intention for the month is, "that all missionaries, both men and women, may grow in their recognition that it is only through a fervent love for Christ that the Gospel can be transmitted in an effective and convincing way."

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Pope encourages Legionaries to be faithful to their founder and united to the rock of Peter

Vatican City, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - The Holy Father addressed the third Ordinary General Chapter of the Legion of Christ, currently meeting in Rome in a message made public yesterday evening.
 
The organization recently elected Fr. Alvaro Corcuera as director general of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and of the "Regnum Christi" movement. He replaces the organization's founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel as outgoing director

The Pope addressed a special message to both men saying, "you find yourselves facing a historic moment in the life of the institute, a moment in which a new phase is beginning. For 64 years, it was your good fortune to advance under the guidance of your founder, and you grew and developed until reaching maturity.”

Now you must continue, guided by your new director general, although not without the support, paternal affection and experience of Father Maciel, who has declined a new period of governance. This obliges you faithfully to safeguard, practice and transmit the gifts you received from the Lord through him."
 
John Paul told the Legionaries of Christ that they are faced "with the task of developing the work which finds its inspiration in the founder. Such work seeks to distinguish itself by selfless service to the Church and by educating youth in solid human and Christian principles which, based on personal freedom and responsibility, contribute to their spiritual, social, and cultural maturity, in fidelity to the Magisterium and in full communion with the Pope."
 
In closing, the Pope encouraged the Legionaries "to continue radiating your spirituality and apostolic dynamism with its rich variety of works and its constant openness to new forms of expression, in keeping with the most urgent needs of the Church in all times and places.”

Your contribution to the evangelizing mission of the Church will be truly fruitful if you are faithful to the charism of the institute and remain firmly united to the Rock of Peter."

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Cardinal Rouco says secularism is becoming common throughout Europe

Madrid, Spain, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops Conference of Spain and Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco, said last week the secularism referred to by Pope John Paul II in his message to the Spanish bishops is a common problem throughout Europe.

“We can see that the situation in Europe is more or less the same in all of the countries,” the cardinal said, adding that this is not “a problem of a juridical nature” because agreements between each country exist, but rather it must be seen “from a cultural, spiritual and doctrinal point of view.”

Cardinal Rouco’s comments, which were made during a radio program, were picked up by the Italian daily “Avvenire.”

According to the cardinal, it cannot be said the Church in Spain is “under siege” but there do “exist some problems with the public administration.” He also argued the Pope’s message criticizing Spanish secularism was not “severe” but was rather a “forcefully expressed” call.

Cardinal Rouco maintained the current problem is due to a return to “positivism and relativism and the total separation between morality and law.”  In this context, he said, it is necessary that “Christians assume the social responsibility of what it means to be Christians, and avoid living as such solely at home, without having any affect on their surroundings.”

The cardinal’s statements came during a tense week.  The Pope’s message to the bishops of Spain was not well-received by the Socialist government, and officials convened a meeting with Spain’s Nuncio, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, to express their “surprise” at the Pope’s words.  The Holy See’s spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, responded by reminding the government it should attentively read the Pope’s entire message.

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Hollywood heavyweight hired to produce Bible films

Toronto, Canada, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - The Academy Award-winning producer of “Chariots of Fire”, “Dances With Wolves”, “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Gandhi” was hired to head Visual Bible International Inc.

The Toronto-based production company, in the midst of producing films that are a word-for-word account of the Good News Bible, believes Jake Eberts is the right man to carry this series and other Bible-based films to their completion as non-executive board chair, reported the Catholic Register.

Visual Bible has already produced “The Gospel of John”, which received positive reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Since his hiring in November, Eberts signed a deal with Walt Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment to distribute the “The Gospel of John” and the soon-to-be-completed “The Gospel of Mark.”

Eberts, a lapsed Anglican, grew up in Arvida, Quebec, where his father worked for Alcan and his mother helped raise funds to build the local church. He studied engineering at McGill University and received an MBA from Harvard University, before heading into the film industry.

The 64-year-old does not see his new post as a return to religion but rather as a good business decision. He believes the Scripture-based films can appeal to a wider audience than just church groups, reported the Register.

“Fundamentally, it’s the story that makes a film interesting to a wide audience. It doesn’t really matter whether they’re Christian or not, young or old, or whatever their culture,” he told the Toronto-based Catholic newspaper.

“I sincerely do hope the market doesn’t turn out to be just Christian faith-based,” he said. “I hope that it’s that, and everyone else who likes a good story.”

Over the next few years, Visual Bible plans to produce 15 to 20 movies based on the Old and New Testaments.

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Italian Network to air pope cartoon scrapped by BBC

Rome, Italy, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - In a decision that has upset many, the Italian television network CanalJimmy has decided to air a cartoon series originally scrapped by the BBC which mocks the pope and the Vatican.

Originally called Popetown, the newly named Holy-Smoke, features a manic, juvenile pope who bounces around the Vatican on a pogo stick, back-stabbing cardinals and what the BBC called, a look “at the daily nuisances that exist in any workplace.”

The BBC initially announced the show in November of 2002, but canceled it after more than 6,000 British demanded it be pulled.

Bishop Crispian Hollis, a spokesman for the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales told the BBC last September that, “Any attempt to belittle or diminish his status as the leader of the Catholic Church is totally unacceptable, and not only to Catholics."

CanalJimmy, whose studios are mere miles from the Vatican walls seemed unfazed by the controversy surrounding the show. A spokeswoman for the satellite channel is quoted as saying, "This is a very alternative sort of channel… In fact we hope there will be a bit of a controversy as it would bring us some attention."

Italians, 90 per cent of whom are reportedly Catholic, will be able to watch the ten-part series this spring.

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Holy See recommends change of structure for United Nations

Vatican City, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday in New York, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore addressed the plenary regarding discussion on the recommendations contained in the report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.
 
"The recommendations," he said, "clearly involve the streamlining and adaptation of the structure and working methods of this Organization. ... My delegation takes the floor, moved by the expectations that the Holy See in these last years has placed in the primary role of international law in promoting the peaceful coexistence and the well being of the world's peoples, and in the role of the United Nations as their guarantor and driving force."
 
The archbishop remarked on the possible structural changes within the United Nations involving the Security Council and General Assembly, "the enhancement of the Secretariat as the principal interlocutor and the reform of ECOSOC through a slightly new lens, that of the linkage of development and security.”

My delegation finds the treatment of this last theme particularly interesting, because it applies not only to the relationship between conflict and poverty, but also to the causes of terrorism, the promotion of social rights and the struggle against poverty and unemployment as preventative measures." 
 
Archbishop Migliore said that the Holy See "welcomes the much needed efforts to find adequate criteria for Security Council membership and the updating of the U.N. electoral system."
 
In closing, the archbishop spoke of Article 51 of the U.N. Charter on the right to self defense.

"In this connection, my delegation would like to restate that legitimate defense must place particular focus on people and their safety.  Every state has a responsibility to protect its own people but, when it is unable or unwilling to do so, that responsibility should be taken up by the wider international community.”

Many times, during recent conflicts,” he continued, “the Holy See has had occasion to repeat this conviction, when 'humanitarian intervention' was talked of as a kind of legitimate defense, and such an intervention was presented as an obligation on the international community in order to guarantee the survival of individuals and communities in the face of the action or inaction of a state or group of states."

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Pope tells Australian Catholic lawyers to defend the rights of the unborn

Sydney, Australia, Feb 1, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II issued a rare personal message this week to Australia's Catholic lawyers’ association, urging them to defend the "inviolable dignity and rights of every human being - from conception until natural death," reported the Sidney Morning Herald.

The Pope’s message to the St. Thomas More Society came as it celebrated its 60th anniversary at St. Mary’s Cathedral with a “Red Mass”, traditionally held to mark the start of the legal year.

The Pope gave the society his blessing and underlined the role it has to play in shaping public policy and promoting justice.

The mass was celebrated in the presence of three cardinals and before some of the state's most senior judges, barristers and solicitors, reported the Herald. The society counts the High Court Chief Justice, Murray Gleeson, and the former governor-general, William Deane, among its members.

The St. Thomas More Society has quietly lobbied for changes to the country’s abortion laws, opposed euthanasia, argued for the legal protection to fetuses and urged the government maintain its ban of embryonic stem-cell research.

The society has also advised on the Catholic Church's formal protocol for dealing with sexual abuse claims.

The society has 500 members, who are mostly but not exclusively Catholics.

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