Archive of February 3, 2005

Vatican calls Pope's condition "positive"

Vatican City, Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - Late this morning, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls told journalists that "The Holy Father's general and respiratory conditions show positive developments."

Navarro-Valls released the statement about the Pope John Paul II's health outlining the current situation.

"The acute laryngeal-tracheitis", he said, "is regressing and there have been no repetitions of the episodes of laryngospasm that were the reason for his being admitted to the hospital."

He continued saying that "the Holy Father spent the night resting quietly", and that the Vatican plans to release an updated statement tomorrow at noon.

Navarro-Valls arrived at Gemelli Polyclinic shortly before 9 this morning. After visiting the Pope, he met with reporters, telling them that "the Holy Father rested well last night, and laboratory results are satisfactory."

He further noted that, "it will be the doctors who decide" how long the Pope will remain at Gemelli, but Navarro-Valls, who is a doctor himself, added that, "from my experience, I think his stay could be about seven days."

Prayers, and wishes for a speedy and complete recovery have arrived from around the world for John Paul II, who was hospitalized in Rome Monday evening with respiratory problems.

More than 700 Polish pilgrims who expected to attend yesterday's weekly general audience offered two bouquets of red and white roses, the colors of the Polish flag, to the Pope. A priest and a nun from the Pope's native land delivered them.

Many Roman Poles, who were on pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo, to the shrine of St. Padre Pio, gathered to pray in St. Peter's Square.

Likewise, prayer vigils were held in a number of Roman churches, including the Polish church of St. Stanislaw.

Fifteen red roses were also brought to the hospital for the Pope by a delegation of residents of towns that have been built on land, now part of Poland, adjacent to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

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Pro-family organization praises President’s “State of the Union”

Washington D.C., Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins released yesterday a statement praising President Bush's State of the Union Address for its clear standing on moral issues related to life and family.

“President Bush is showing leadership with his support for a constitutional amendment to uphold traditional marriage and by recognizing the need to protect the institution of marriage from activist judges,” said Perkins.

“Congress must follow the President's leadership and preserve the foundation of society by sending the Marriage Protection Amendment to the states for ratification,” he added.

According to FRC’s President, Bush also reiterated “his commitment to creating a culture of life in America.”

“He made clear that unborn human beings were not for experimentation or spare parts; they are to be protected.”

“I hope –Perkins added- in the days ahead as the Administration expands the culture of life, that they will educate the American people on the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells and further explain the importance of funding adult stem cell research which has yielded over 50 successful treatments as opposed to embryonic stem cell research which has yet to yield a single treatment."

Commenting on future judicial nominees, Perkins said that the President “will make policy for another four years, but the courts will shape it for a nearly a generation. The President has called for it, the American people support it, and the Senate should deliver it - up or down votes on each of the President's nominees.”

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Pope's biographer optimistic of recovery

Catonsville, Md., Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II’s official biographer and friend George Weigel told WBAL-TV 11 in Maryland that he does not doubt statements from Vatican officials that the Pope will pull through his bout with the flu.

Pope John Paul was hospitalized in Rome Tuesday after experiencing breathing problems. He has been suffering from the flu since Sunday.

The author of “Witness to Hope” says the reaction from around the world to the Pope’s illness "suggests just how deeply he has touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people.”

Weigel expressed his trust in God’s will and his hope that the Pope will pull through.

"He's in His hands. So, whatever God's will is going to be is going to be," he said.

The Baltimore native added that many people would feel orphaned when the Pope eventually dies. “[We will] feel as if we have lost a parental figure, someone who has been a part of our lives for a long time – it has been 27 years now."

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Football players to bring their faith to Superbowl on Sunday

Philadelphia, Pa., Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - Football fans will have their eyes glued to the television this Sunday to watch their favorite team battle it out at this year’s Superbowl. But what fans may not know is that an increasing number of these players profess a deep Christian faith.

A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor reports that as many as one-third of National Football League players are openly devout Christians.

“Praising the Lord in interviews with broadcasters only hint at the depth of belief off the field,” says the report.

Rev. Herb Lusk played three seasons for the Eagles before leaving to start a church in Philadelphia. He told the Monitor that Bible studies and fellowship groups among players are three to four times as popular now as they were in the 1970s and 1980s.

He credited defensive great Reggie White, who died in December, for allowing other players to embrace religion openly. White was an ordained minister who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and later the Green Bay Packers.

Lusk estimated that the number of openly devout players has grown from a handful in the mid-1980s to at least 33 percent, mostly Protestants.

More players are also involved in the prayer services and Bible study that are offered by chaplaincy services, said Eagles chaplain Rev. J. David Hoke for the past 12 years. Fr. Thomas Barcellona hears confessions and says Sunday mass for Catholic coaches, referees and some players. Team chaplains, who are not part of the team’s staff, also offer these pastoral services to the players’ families.

According to the report, there are approximately 32 Protestant NFL chaplains, half of them supported by Athletes in Action, a Christian group with a ministry to professional athletes.

The NFL has its fair share of players who say they became faithful Christians thanks to the witness and invitation of their teammates. Eagles cornerback Ike Reese said he became a born-again Christian after two teammates invited him to attend a players' Bible-study group three years ago.

Eagles defensive tackle Corey Simon told the Monitor that his experience in sport helped him develop a meaningful relationship with God. He said should he point to the sky while on the field, it means, “that for me to be there, God should get the glory - that it's none of me, it's all of Him.”

Players said game-related prayer is about thanksgiving. They pray “not for wins but for things like healthy competition and safe travel for visiting teams,” reported the Monitor. “They tend to see football as a gift given to them by God and meant to be used to spread the word that faith counts, not materialism and celebrity.”

No matter the outcome of the game, "God gets the glory," Simon said.

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Catholic League says anti-Jewish and anti-Christian professor should be fired

, Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic League president William Donohue says University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill should be fired for his philosophy and rhetoric, which are both anti-Jewish and anti-Christian.

While some faculty defend Churchill on the grounds of free speech and academic freedom, Donohue argues that Churchill’s views are not appropriate for an institution of higher education, whose main mission is the search for truth.

“Higher education does not exist so that all ideas can be exchanged freely—that can be done in a bar.  It’s purpose is the pursuit of truth,” says Donohue.

“Ergo, Ward Churchill should be fired not because his ideas are offensive, but because he is incompetent.  This is a classic case of academic malpractice,” he states.

According to a press release issued by the Catholic League, Churchill gained media attention when he remarked that “those who died in the World Trade Center bombing were ‘little Eichmans’ who deserved it,” and when he suggested that “it may be that more 9/11s are necessary.”

Churchill is on record for accusing early Christian colonists of committing “genocide” against the American Indians – resulting in the loss of  “100 million indigenous people” – and calling it a “holocaust” that is “unparalleled in recorded history.” 

Donohue says this claim is astounding since historians estimate there were no more than 10 million American Indians living in the current territory of the United States at the time of the European arrival. He cites political scientist Guenter Lewy in saying that as many as 90 percent of the deaths were the direct result of disease. “The Indians had no immunity from contagious diseases like smallpox,” says Donohue. 

Churchill also claims that Israeli Jews are guilty of committing “genocide” against the Arabs and is also “bent on trivializing the Holocaust,” says Donohue. The professor claims that Jewish writers “are engaged in a conspiracy to suppress evidence of other historical examples of genocide; he calls them ‘Holocaust exclusivists,’” Donohue says. 

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Pope says organ transplants must "guarantee respect for life and for the human person"

Vatican City, Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - Today the Vatican released a Letter from Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences regarding the practice of transplanting organs from the deceased.

In the letter, the Holy Father notes that the academy "has chosen to dedicate this session of the Study Group - as on two earlier occasions during the 1980s - to a theme of particular complexity and importance: that of the 'signs of death', in the context of the practice of transplanting organs from deceased persons."

He speaks of the Church's "constant and informed interest in the development of the surgical practice of organ transplant, intended to save human lives from imminent death and to allow the sick to continue living for a further period of years."

He pointed out that the Church has  "encouraged the free donation of organs, ... underlined the ethical conditions for such donation," and "indicated the duties of the specialists who carry out this procedure of organ transplant."

The Pope said that there must be "ongoing research on the technical-scientific level" by those who perform transplants and "a constant dialogue with experts in anthropological and ethical disciplines, so as to guarantee respect for life and for the human person."

He turns to the question of "'the signs of death' on the basis of which a person's clinical death can be established with moral certainty, in order to proceed with the removal of organs for transplant. Within the horizon of Christian anthropology, it is well known that the moment of death for each person consists in the definitive loss of the constitutive unity of body and spirit."

From the clinical point of view, however, the only correct way - and also the only possible way - to address the problem of ascertaining the death of a human being is by devoting attention and research to the individuation of adequate 'signs of death', known through their physical manifestation in the individual subject."

"Pius XII", the Pope continued, "declared that 'it is for the doctor to give a clear and precise definition of 'death' and of the 'moment of death' of a patient who lapses into a state of unconsciousness'."

The Holy Father assured academy members that the Holy See will aid the group's research, "especially the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

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Iraqi bishops hopeful elections mean beginning of a new start for Christians

Konigstein, Germany, Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - In the wake of the January 30 elections, various Iraqi bishops expressed their hope they might signify a new era for Christians and especially for Catholics eager to rebuild the Church in the country.

According to Aid to the Church in Need, several prelates reported voter turn out to be almost 80%.  Thus the first elections to be held after the fall of Saddam Hussein could be the breaking point in the need to create a free and pluralistic country.

Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said that in his diocese participation by Christians was high, which led him to hope that Christians would have a significant representation in the new government.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad Christians also turned out to vote in large numbers.  Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Andraos Abouna said people were convinced Christians would have a key role in the future of the city.

Bishop Abouna said that while results are being tallied, the Christian community is determined to leave behind the experiences of the last few months, a period Bishop Abouna described as “chaos and terrorism.”

Both bishops highlighted the participation by local parishioners, despite intimidation and violence from extremists, who threatened minority groups if they showed up at the polls.  The bishops added that as part of the reconstruction of the Church in Iraq, schools and colleges that were damaged during the war would be rebuilt.

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Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez calls on young people to cultivate loyalty, respect and purity of spirit

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - During a Mass celebrated at the Cathedral of Santo Domingo on National Youth Day, the archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez exhorted young people of the Dominican Republic to cultivate loyalty, purity of spirit and respect for others.

The cardinal expressed his concern for the many “misguided” young people who are immersed in the world of crime, drugs and prostitution.  Likewise, he said it was important that young people take truth, responsibility and love of country as guides for living.

He also called on authorities to practice what they preach, since the culture of crime, consumerism and individualism leads many young people to lose direction.

In this sense he called on the government to invest more in education and health care.  At the end of Mass Cardinal Lopez awarded recognitions to outstanding young people from the nine dioceses and archdioceses of the country.

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Ottawa, Canada, Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - In yesterday’s story titled “Canada introduces same-sex marriage legislation” CNA made an  error in attribution. The statement that “equality rights always trump religious rights” was wrongly attributed to Justice Minister Irwin Cotler. The phrase should have been attributed to Conservative MP Vic Toews, who made the comment in response to the same-sex marriage bill. CNA apologizes for the error.

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Spanish newspaper reports on widower vocations as encouraging sign for the Church

Madrid, Spain, Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - The Spanish daily El Mundo recently published an interesting collection of testimonies of uncommon religious vocations: widows and widowers, with children and grandchildren, who have become priests and religious.

In the article entitled, “The reservists of the Church,” reporter Jose Manuel Vidal presents testimonies like that of Father Manuel Villa, married during 35 years, with 4 children and 12 grandchildren, “who left his job as a truck driver to become a priest.  Since 1996 he has been a priest in Valladolid.”

Another case is that of Francisco Sanchez Alias, 74, who was supervisor at a company with more than 1,500 employees.  One day he and his wife were in a car , in which she perished.  “When Francisco regained consciousness he was in the hospital without his wife.  ‘I asked about her, and after they avoided me for a while the doctor came and told me she had died.  At that moment religious life flashed in my mind.’  Four years later, he became a Cistercian and today is Abbot of the Monastery of La Oliva in Navarre,” the paper reports.

The 2nd Lieutenant

With 5 children and 12 grandchildren, “Benito Santos Santorum, 87, was 2nd Lieutenant during Spain’s Civil War, which he calls ‘a crusade of liberation’.”  He fought on different fronts and eventually ended up in Africa, where he spent 13 years.  “Until one day he became a widower ‘in less than half an hour.’  Six months after the death of his wife, Benito decided to join the priesthood, aware that ‘they probably won’t want me because of my age.’  He was ordained in 1994 at the age of 76.  On Sundays he substitutes for pastors of rural parishes.  ‘I have traveled over 18,000 miles during the last five years,’ he said.  ‘For God there are no ages.  I am happy because I am enveloped in God,’ Father Benito said’.”

A nun with 10 children

The article also features the case of Sister Julia Martin.  “On some Sundays of the year, the Augustinian monastery of St. Joseph and St. Ann in L’Olleria is filled with voices of the 18 grandchildren of Sister Julia, 80, a widow with 10 children, who entered the convent at the age of 73.”

“She says she is completely happy because ‘Christ is total happiness.’ The superior of the monastery, Sister Praxedes, said St. Julia’s vocation has great value, ‘because she has left behind so much more than we have.’ But she does not consider herself important and sees herself as just another sister.”

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Cardinal Rubiano calls Colombians to common sense on issues of abortion and homosexual unions

, Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - Presiding at the opening of the General Assembly of the Bishops Conference of Colombia, Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Saenz, Archbishop of Bogota and President of the body, issued an explicit appeal to lawmakers, “that in the consideration of proposals such as abortion, euthanasia and making same-sex unions equivalent to marriage, common sense and respect for life might prevail.”

The cardinal reiterated that the defense of life ought be the choice of a majority Catholic population.  “We must reject all kinds of acts of massacres, terrorism and murders.  But in legislative terms, we must be very careful.  Nobody has the right to decide if a person should live or die, even from the mother’s womb, that is, from the moment of conception,” he insisted.

Likewise he also reiterated the Church’s rejection of any effort to redefine marriage, and he said that too many resources are being used for genetic manipulation, “while there are so many serious and well-known deficiencies in the area of health care.  Hospitals are being closed and a large percentage of Colombians do not have access to social security.”

Peace negotiations must move forward

During his remarks the cardinal also called on the government and on the rebel leaders of FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia) to renew efforts to achieve the peace agreement that has been on the table for the past two years.

“It’s time to achieve an humanitarian accord, so that the negotiations and peace process between the government and FARC can begin, and this endeavor should not be delayed,” the cardinal said.

Episcopal unity

“The world has seen great and profound changes which we will able to assimilate and confront only inasmuch as the unity of our Episcopate is given priority in a spirit of collegiality, and we prepare ourselves with a vision for the future, with the responsibility that the Gospel requires of us,” Cardinal Rubiano added.

He said it was up to the Bishops Conference to come up with ideas and concrete ways to help bishops in the particular churches to respond to and adequately guide the faithful.”

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Archbishop of Oviedo decries claim secularism is sole voice of reason

Madrid, Spain, Feb 3, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Oviedo, Carlos Osoro, commenting this week on the recent message of Pope John Paul II to the Spanish bishops, said secularism poses a risk for religious freedom.

Archbishop Osoro rejected allegations that the Pope was referring to intimidation against the Church and explained that the Pope was instead “alerting” the bishops about the problem of secularism—also referred to in Europe as “laicism”—“that ideology that, presenting itself as the sole voice of rationality, leads to the restriction of religious freedom.”

According to the archbishop, at this moment in history, “an comprehensive humanism is what is we need to proclaim most” and religious freedom “cannot be curtailed” or silenced, “without depriving man of something fundamental that belongs to the essence of human beings themselves.”

Archbishop Osoro also reiterate the right of young people “to be educated in the faith,” because “religious teaching cannot be left out of comprehensive education.”

The Church should not cease in her efforts to reach out to teenagers, who “need to know Jesus Christ” and the road that mankind should follow.

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