Vatican City, Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls told journalists today that the “state of the Holy Father’s health has improved.” He also added that the Pope is now eating regularly and proceeded to read a statement on the current situation.
He said that, "the instrument and laboratory exams confirm the stabilizing of the clinical picture” and "in light of the favorable evolution of the respiratory pathology, a new communique will be released on Monday, February 7 at 12 noon."
Navarro-Valls added that, "tomorrow afternoon, the Pope will follow on television from his hospital room the ceremony for the feast of Our Lady of Trust, patroness of the Roman Major Seminary, which will take place in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican.”
The speech prepared by the Holy Father will be read by the substitute of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri.”
"As to the Angelus prayer on Sunday,” Navarro-Valls said, “it is well known that this is an appointment that is very dear to the Holy Father and one which he does not want to miss. Tomorrow I will be able to be more precise regarding the manner in which the Marian prayer will be recited."
St. Louis, Mo., Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - The most effective means to fight abortion and other threats to life is prayer, said Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis.
The archbishop of St. Louis issued this call to prayer and recounted his experience at the National March for Life in the latest issue of the diocesan newspaper, the St. Louis Review.
Prior to the march, the archbishop met with the parents and two siblings of Terri Schindler-Schiavo, the Florida woman who has been severely mentally and physically disabled for more than a decade. She lives free of life support but is fed through a tube.
Her husband, Michael Schiavo, has sought a court’s permission to terminate the nutrition treatment that has been keeping her alive, while her parents have fought to continue treatment.
“I was most edified by their strong faith and their tireless efforts to provide for their daughter and sister,” wrote Archbishop Burke. “Our commitment to foster the respect for human life must be total and without apology.”
“Given the gravity of the attack on innocent and defenseless human life in our nation, we must pray daily for the victims of abortion and for those who promote and provide procured abortion,” he wrote in his column titled Praying and Marching for Life.
“We must also participate in the public prayer and devotion of the Church — the Holy Mass, Eucharistic devotion and other devotions like the praying of the Rosary, for the intention of the respect for human life,” he continued.
The archbishop remarked that his experience with thousands of peaceful marchers at the National March for Life in Washington, DC, Jan. 24 was a “wonderful testimonial to the respect which is owed to all human life!”
“It was most heartening to see faithful of all ages enthusiastically giving witness to the Church’s teaching on the respect owed to all human life,” he said, commenting on the presence of many young people and on how the churches and other venues overflowed with faithful during several masses.Bishop appreciates local initiatives
In his column, the archbishop expressed his admiration and gratitude for the well-organized pro-life apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which was established by John Cardinal Carberry. Cardinal Carberry was archbishop of St. Louis 32 years ago when the Roe vs. Wade decision came through the courts.
Highlighting the importance of prayer in the pro-life movement, Mass is celebrated for St. Louis’ pro-life apostolate every third Saturday of the month at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis at 8 a.m. It is followed by Eucharistic adoration and a prayerful march to the Planned Parenthood facility.
“The challenge remains always ours to pray and work for the restoration of the respect for all human life in our nation,” he wrote. “May our daily prayer and witness build up in our nation the culture of life and of love.”
Royal Oak, Mich., Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - According to the Archdiocese of Detroit, a celebration honoring a local nun and her outreach to gays has been forced to be moved off of Archdiocesan property because it conflicted with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Sister Jeannine Gramick was to be honored at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Royal Oak, a Detroit suburb, following a screening of a new documentary film chronicling the work of the 62-year-old nun Sunday. It was moved however, following the Archdiocese’ request.
The screening took place at the Royal Oak Main Art Theater as part of their Reel Pride Film Festival; an event sponsored by the gay-rights Triangle Foundation.
In 1999, after a lengthy review, and finding her views and teaching on homosexuality to be in conflict with the Church, The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome announced severe limits on Gramick’s ministerial activities.
At the time, Gramick was a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame, and Father Robert Nugent, S.D.S., who had been ministering to the homosexual community in the United States with her for many years also received the Congregation’s limits.
The Congregation’s notification stated that the pair were, "permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons and are ineligible, for an undetermined period, for any office in their respective religious institutes."
In a statement regarding the affair, the Archdiocese of Detroit stated that, “The Detroit archdiocese realizes that ministry to the homosexual community is both sensitive and necessary. At the same time, we are concerned that such ministry can cause more harm than good if it is conducted in the midst of controversy and ambiguity.”
Phoenix, Ariz., Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to a group of youth ministers in the Diocese of Phoenix in January, Bishop Thomas Olmsted said that, “popes this century have described a loss of the sense of sin, a phenomena that is accompanied by the loss of the sense of God. But, through the scandal of child abuse by clergy, this trend may be changing.”
According to the Phoenix Catholic Sun, Olmsted told the group that, “We become truly eager for the grace of conversion when deep down inside of us we feel real shame and real sorrow for our own sinfulness and the harm it causes others,”
He talked about clear teaching of truths and the sacrament of penance as tools to turn sin into a cause for conversion. “Any authentic encounter with the Lord Jesus will always lead us further along the path of conversion,” he said.
According to the Diocese of Phoenix, the Bishop continued his talk sharing his own thoughts and those of the pope regarding communion and solidarity. He called the identity of Catholics innately tied in with the Eucharist and showed how this communion as Catholics should lead to a desire to “express that love in solidarity.
Vatican City, Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced this week the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts will release a new document entitled “Dignitas connubii” on the dignity of marriage and the question of annulments on Tuesday, February 8.
The document, prepared by the Pontifical Council in collaboration with other Vatican dicasteries, will be presented at a press conference that will be attended by Cardinal Julian Herranz, President of the Council, Archbishop Angelo Amato, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Bishop Valasio de Paolis, the secretary of the tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; and Msgr. Mgr Antoni Stankiewicz, the dean of the tribunal of the Roman Rota.
The document is a result of the Holy See’s concern for the apparent laxity of some Church tribunals in granting annulments and will be published in two bilingual versions: Latin/Italian and Latin/English.
Vatican City, Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - Upon learning of the death of 101-year-old Cardinal Corrado Bafile yesterday, the Holy Father sent a telegram to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals conveying his sadness.
Pope John Paul II said in the telegram that, "having learnt the sad news of the death of the venerable Cardinal Corrado Bafile, I wish to express to you and to the entire College of Cardinals my sadness for the demise of this dear brother who spent his whole life for the cause of the Gospel, for the good of the Church and in the service of the Holy See.”
“With profound gratitude”, he continued, “I recall his long and generous commitment - first in the Secretariat of State, then as an energetic and competent pontifical representative, and finally as a zealous and esteemed prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints - and I join the common prayer which, in the light of faith in the resurrection, is raised for the repose of the soul of the dear departed cardinal.”
And, as I invoke the well-deserved heavenly reward promised to His good and faithful servants by the One Who gives all goodness, I send to you, to the cardinals, to the late cardinal's relatives, and to all those who participate in the mourning, a comforting apostolic blessing."
Tomorrow at 11 a.m., Cardinal Ratzinger will preside at the funeral Mass of Cardinal Bafile in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Vatican City, Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - Joseph Borrell Fontelles, president of the European Parliament, met this morning with Vatican officials, Angelo Sodano,Cardinal Secretary of State and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States.
According to a communiqué made public today, the president of the European Parliament was accompanied by Christine Verger, his cabinet director, and Giovanni Salimbeni, director of the parliament's Rome office.
The communique states that the president, "above all wished to send greetings to the Holy Father John Paul II and best wishes for a speedy recovery, both from himself and from the European Parliament.”
"President Borrell Fontelles then explained some of the parliament's current activities and the prospects arising from the enlarging of the European Union, expressing the hope that the constitutional treaty will be ratified by all States.”
The communiqué goes on to point out that, “The president, in harmony with the position the Holy See has always maintained, was careful to underline the nature of the European Union as a 'moral force,' with its own message of ever valid civilization, to be proposed even in the broader international context.”
The conversation also touched on problems arising from the presence of three great European bodies - the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - with agreement on the need for a clarification of their relationship.”
It continued, saying that, “The cardinal Secretary of State also highlighted the importance of the apostolic nunciature accredited to the European Union, in order to favor fruitful dialogue on issues of current importance."
Washington D.C., Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - Priests for Life is urging the Georgia state Senate to pass a bill that would require medical professionals to inform all women seeking an abortion about the health risks and alternatives to abortion.
National director Fr. Frank Pavone said Priests for Life is pleased that the Georgia state Senate is currently considering the Woman's Right to Know Bill (SB 77).
He also urged pro-choice senators to consider why “women should not be fully informed about what they are choosing.”
, Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - The U.K.-based Catholic Action Group say that a deadline given to CAFOD, the Catholic Agency for Oversees Development to withdraw its policy of condom use to fight Aids has expired. Catholic Action Group adamantly points out that this policy is contrary to Church teaching, and should be revoked.
The deadline, which hit last Monday, now opens the door for the group’s open campaign of “writing to every parish priest, distributing leaflets and taking out newspaper advertisements.” Reportedly, the group has budgeted to print half a million leaflets for the campaign.
Catholic Action Group, stated in their press releases that they “will openly campaign against CAFOD up and down the country [on February 1st] unless they back down and stop condoning Condoms.”
According to John Gunn, Catholic Action Group’s coordinator, CAFOD is showing “signs of concern,” especially in light of a split Bishops conference in England and Wales, from whom CAFOD would like endorsement.
The British paper, The Tablet, stated that while CAFOD has a letter of endorsement from Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, president of the Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales, “a number of the bishops declared that they were not prepared to support the current policy”, and would like the charity to stop endorsing condom use.
Pittsburgh, Pa., Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - A new group in Pittsburgh is reaching out to Catholic men, offering them an opportunity for faith and spiritual formation and fellowship.
The Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Pittsburgh has organized a morning gathering March 12 at St. Paul Seminary in Crafton.
“I believe the Holy Spirit is calling for men in our diocese to be renewed and strengthened in their faith,” Fr. James Wehner told the Pittsburgh Catholic.
“Catholic men today are often trying to find ways to express their spirituality, but often find it difficult because of a stigma and prejudice against male expressions of faith,” said the director of the Department for Evangelization and rector of St. Paul Seminary.
Recognizing the need to support the spiritual development of men, the U.S. bishops established the National Resource Center for Catholic Men several years ago, Fr. Wehner pointed out.
Highlights of the March 12 gathering include a liturgy celebrated by Bishop Paul Bradley and a presentation by Reid Carpenter, president of the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and a convert to the faith. There will also be time for fellowship and a question-and-answer session on the mission and ministry of new group.
Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Pittsburgh is modeled after the Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Cincinnati, which includes 3,000 men in 200 parishes. The parish-based movement was founded there in 1984 as a Catholic response to the Protestant Promise Keepers movement.
, Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - While Iraq is calling Sunday's elections a success, Christians in the Mideastern country and in the United States are claiming they were denied the right to vote.
Christian Assyrians in Iraq claim that Kurdish officials in North Iraq prevented the delivery of ballot boxes to predominantly Assyrian villages.
In the United States, Iraqi Christians claim the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq chose to locate five U.S. polling locations close to expatriate Kurdish populations and not anywhere close to the larger Assyrian communities in Northern California, reported the Daily News, based on information from the Center for Religious Freedom.
Susan Patto, chief of staff to the secretary general of the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Iraq, estimates about 50,000 Assyrian were prevented from voting.
She told the Daily that officials failed to deliver ballot boxes to five towns in the Ninevah Plain of Northern Iraq, predominantly populated by Christian Assyrians.
Four boxes were finally delivered and voting was permitted to take place Monday morning. However, some polling stations were not staffed when the Christian voters arrived. At one station, voters waited patiently until noon, before they demonstrated.
The Kurdish militia squelched the demonstration, even beating an Assyrian city council member from Baghdida and breaking all his teeth, Patto told the Daily.
In the U.S., officials located one poll in Nashville, which has a Kurdish population of about 4,000. About 38,000 Assyrians live in the northern half of California, but the closest polling place was in Southern California.
A voter would have had to travel 800 miles, round trip, to a Los Angeles polling site, to register for the election, and then repeat the trip a few days later to vote. This distance prevented many of the elderly and poor Assyrians from voting.
Patto told the Daily that the lack of Christian votes is detrimental to the creation of a truly democratic Iraq.
"It is not just the number of seats (on the National Assembly). We want to establish a new country that believes in human rights and democracy, and (in which) people are equal and have the same rights," Patto was quoted as saying. "We want to build it together with all Iraqis."
Quito, Ecuador, Feb 4, 2005 (CNA) - Parishes throughout Ecuador are distributing a letter from the executive committee of the Bishops Conference of Ecuador, which warns that science has not negated the abortifacient nature of the so-called morning-after pill.
In their letter, the bishops write that, based on serious medical and scientific data, the Church “holds that life begins at the moment the ovum is fertilized: that is when the life a new human being begins. There is no room for discrimination in the respect for life, for it is not the case that some lives deserve respect while others deserve none.”
The bishops also state that, “Scientific medical research must prove that the ‘morning-after pill’ does not prevent implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus, that is, it needs to prove that it does not take a human life. Scientific research has not provided such evidence, and it could be that it never will.”
“Existing medical and biological data in large measure have come from research that is biased in favor of contraception in all its forms. Nevertheless, laboratories that manufacture the pill report that one of its effects could be the preventing of implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus, thus resulting in the destruction of a human life,” the bishops said.
“There exists sufficient evidence,” the bishops went on, “to affirm—with the data available today—that the pill does have abortifacient effects. This being so, we would be facing a reality that must be called by its name, beyond pseudo-scientific subtleties and the manipulation of words: it is simply called an abortion. Those who refer to it as ‘avoiding an unwanted pregnancy’ should clearly admit that in reality we are talking about interrupting a pregnancy that has already begun.”
In this sense, the bishops warned, “There is no lack of individuals who, enveloped in a false sense of modernity, proclaim abortion to be a right of women to make decisions about their own bodies. This couldn’t be further from the truth, since the exercise of one’s freedom has an insurmountable limit: the right to life of others. The newly conceived being is no longer ‘her body’; it is a new life, different from that of the woman that conceived it; and nobody can dispose of that new life.”
“This is not a primarily religious issue. It is an issue that, while it belongs to the religious and moral order as well, belongs to the basic and natural order of justice,” the bishops warned.