Vatican City, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday at noon, Pope John Paul II appeared at the window of his hospital room for the recitation of the Angelus, which he had hoped to preside at.
He said a blessing for the faithful gathered in the courtyard of Gemelli hospital as well as in St. Peter's Square where four massive television screens transmitted the Marian prayer. Substitute of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, read a message from the Pope and led the Angelus, following which the Holy Father imparted his apostolic blessing.
"Today I address you from Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic," the Pope’s message began, "where, for several days, I have been cared for with loving solicitude by doctors, nurses and health personnel, whom I thank with all my heart.”
I hope that the expression of my thanks for your sincere affection, which I have felt so intensely during these days, reaches you dear brothers and sisters, and everyone around the world who has been close to me."
The Holy Father assured the faithful of his prayers for them "according to your intentions, as well as for the needs of the Church and the great causes of the world. Thus, even here in the hospital, in the midst of other sick people, to whom I send affectionate thoughts, I continue to serve the Church and all of humanity."
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, in his message delivered from his hospital room at the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, John Paul II affirmed urged the faithful to defend and trust the gift of life.
The Pope noted that Italy celebrated the Day for Life yesterday and said that the message of Italian bishops for this occasion "accented the mystery of life as a association which calls for trust.”
“We need to trust life!” he said, “Unborn children silently ask for trust in life. Children who, for diverse reasons are without a family, wish to trust life and hope that they will find a home that will welcome them through adoption or temporary custody.
"With special consideration," the Pope concluded in his Angelus reflections, "I am thinking of the beloved Italian people and everyone who has at heart the defense of nascent life.”
I am especially close to the Italian bishops; may they continue to exhort Catholics and all people of good will to defend the basic right to life, in respect for the dignity of every human person."
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - Today at noon, Rome time, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, read a bulletin to journalists giving an update on the Holy Father's health.
"The Holy Father's condition continues to improve”, he said, “He no longer has a fever, eats regularly and spends several hours a day in an armchair next to his bed.”
"For obvious reasons of prudence,” the bulletin continued, “the Pope has been advised to remain at Gemelli Hospital for several more days. The next communiqué will be issued Thursday, Feb 10 at 12 noon."
After sharing the bulletin with journalists, Navarro-Valls noted that, "numerous get-well messages and letters continue to arrive daily for the Pope. Many people are offering up their sufferings for the Pope, who is keeping everyone in his prayers, as was mentioned yesterday during the Angelus.”
“The messages come from all over the world,” he said, “and many from within the hospital. Most are very moving."
Navarro-Valls added that the Pope has been saying daily Mass in his hospital room, “to which members of the medical staff are invited.” He also said that "the Holy Father glances at the newspapers to - as he says - 'follow the evolution of my health'."
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican has denied Pope John Paul II had help from a pre-recorded tape in reciting the Angelus from his hospital window.
After the Pope seemingly choked on the first few words of the Angelus before recovering, Italian media said he had probably received the assistance of a pre-recorded tape played by Vatican audio technicians.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls told the ANSA news agency that "the Holy Father's words used during this morning's blessing were the same heard during the live broadcast."
"The suggestion that such a pre-recorded tape of his words were broadcast at the same time is nonsense," he said.
The Pope has been in hospital recovering from the flu since last Tuesday.
Akron, Ohio, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - Moderate Catholics and Protestants were more influential than religious conservatives in President George Bush’s re-election, says a University of Akron survey on religion and politics.
The university’s fourth post-election study conducted in November and December and released last week surveyed 2,730 adults.
The study demonstrated that while 88 percent of conservative evangelical Protestant voters and 72 percent of conservative Catholic voters chose Bush, so did 55 percent of moderate Catholics, 58 percent of moderate Protestants and 64 percent of moderate evangelical Protestants.
Bush also had a better showing among certain groups compared with the 2000 election. He gained 31 percent more votes from Latino Protestants, 17 percent from conservative Catholics, 11 percent from moderate Catholics and 12 percent from African-American Protestants. As a national group, Catholics, traditionally Democratic, gave a majority of their votes (53%) to Bush. The survey states this increase was likely due to the same-sex marriage issue.
The report also indicated that Kerry got 78 percent of the liberal mainline Protestant votes and 69 percent of the liberal Catholic vote. The report said these voters were motivated by the Iraq war.
Despite the ongoing discussions about the role of religion in the 2004 elections, the study demonstrated that less than half of the respondents (47%) said faith was either the most important factor in their voting decision or about as important as other factors.
The survey was sponsored by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent.
, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced that he would appeal the New York State Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriages.
Justice Doris Ling-Cohan ruled Friday that the State Constitution does not forbid same-sex marriage. She has further ruled that marriage licenses must be given to same-sex partners who apply for them.
Catholic League president William Donohue predicted that the judge’s decision “will help enormously in the effort to secure a [federal] constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.
“The public is overwhelmingly against the bizarre idea of two men marrying: initiatives to legalize gay marriage lost in all 11 states that had this measure on the ballot in November,” he stated in a press release.
Donohue said the judge’s decision will help reluctant people of the necessity of a constitutional amendment.
Describing her act as “judicial imperliasm” and a “reading into the law,” Donohue pointed out that no state judge had ruled that same-sex marriage was allowed in the Constitution.
Galesburg, Ill., Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of Peoria has issued an advisory to Catholics in western and central Illinois not to attend mass or receive sacraments or counseling from a man who goes by the name Fr. Ryan St. Anne Scott.
This is not the first time such an advisory has been issued. Four other diocese have publicly warned that Scott is not a legitimate priest and that the baptisms, weddings, funerals and other ceremonies he conducts are not sanctioned by the Church, reported the Chicago Tribune.
Scott claims he is bishop of the independent Holy Rosary Abbey, currently housed in a converted home for the mentally ill in Galesburg, Ill.
For more than 15 years, Scott, who is divorced and convicted of felony, has moved his “abbey” around the Midwest. Most of those who attend his services are elderly Catholics who long for the Latin mass of their youth, reported the Tribune.
"We are not sure what he is, but we are sure what he is not: a priest," Fr. Ben Nguyen, chancellor of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., told the Tribune. "He appears out of nowhere, sets up and then disappears."
Scott, 51, says his calling now is to be a thorn in the side of the modern-day church by living out the embodiment of "the true Roman Catholic Church" of ancient days.
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - On Saturday at the Vatican, community members of the Pontifical Major Seminary of Rome participated in their traditional meeting for the feast of their patroness, Our Lady of Trust. During the gathering, the group were treated to a message from the Holy Father prepared from his hospital room.
During the evening, the choir and orchestra of the diocese of Rome played a piece inspired by the title of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter, "Mane nobiscum Domine."
Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, read the address from the Pope who followed the ceremony from his room in Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic.
"For me," the Pope wrote, "you are a reason for consolation, because you represent a privileged sign of the Lord's love for His cherished Church which is in Rome."
To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the 'program' which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization.' You have chosen to take these words of mine as the theme for reflection for your feast day."
The Holy Father’s message went on to affirm that "in the year of the Eucharist, celebrating Mary means, for you, putting the sacrifice of her divine Son at the center of attention, a sacrifice that becomes sacramentally present whenever Mass is celebrated."
John Paul II recalled Jesus' words to St John before His death on the Cross of, "behold, your mother!" On this, he emphasized, "I also repeat to you today, behold, your mother, who must be loved and imitated with complete trust, so that you become priests capable of pronouncing, not once but always, the decisive word of faith: 'here I am,' 'Fiat.'”
May the prayer, 'Mater mea, fiducia mea!' be the profound and simple synthesis of your days, days you pass contemplating Christ with Mary!"
The Pope concluded his address by expressing this desire to all the young people present, and especially to those considering the priestly vocation, to altar boys and parish youth groups. "Dear young people, the Lord passes and calls, be ready to collaborate with Him."
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - With Wednesday being the start of Lent, the Vatican announced that Cardinal James Francis Stafford, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary will preside in the Pope's name at the celebration of Ash Wednesday Mass this year.
The Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, announced that the ceremony, which will take place in the Vatican Basilica, will substitute the traditional Wednesday general audience.
According to a communique, The introductory rites will be followed by the liturgy of the Word, a homily, the blessing and imposition of the ashes, the prayer of the faithful and the concluding rites.
The Vatican also announced that Cardinal Jozef Tomko, president of the Pontifical Commission for International Eucharist Congresses and titular of the Basilica of St Sabina in Rome will celebrate Mass in that church at 5 p.m. on Wednesday as well.
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - On Saturday, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, presented the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in Bologna, Italy.
The document which was published by the council last October, was presented at the School of Formation to Social Commitments of the Veritatis Splendor Institute.
A communique from the council summarizing the cardinal's talk noted that he termed the Compendium "a manifesto of a new humanism in the sense that, in it one can find inspiration and programs, ideal and historical, for a new society."
For Cardinal Martino, says the communique, "an integral and solidary humanism is achieved only through projects that are planned and actuated by force of social culture and common policies."
The Cardinal underscored "the need for a unified action to show the effectiveness of projects inspired by ...the content of the truth of the Church's social doctrine. He notes that "if once widespread Christianity" was the source for a "common cultural perspective, as well as for faith ... today this needs to be built with greater efforts."
Cardinal Martino concluded by stating that, "the realization of common projects would facilitate a social and political commitment by Catholics, not only on the level of faith and values, but also in social culture and politics."
Madrid, Spain, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - As the February 20 date for the referendum on the EU Constitution looms, the Bishops Conference of Spain called on Spaniards to cast an informed vote, with full knowledge of the facts about the different ambiguities in the Constitution in areas such as the Christian roots of Europe, abortion, euthanasia, marriage and the family. “The Church puts her hopes in Europe.”
The document explains that, as on other occasions, the bishops “are fulfilling their pastoral duty to offer help to Catholics and to public opinion in general regarding the moral dimension of voting responsibly and in conscience.”
“The Church puts her hopes in Europe. The Holy See, the European bishops and Catholic politicians and those of other Christian denominations have been among the first to encourage a great plan of European unification which, bringing to an end the sad chapter of great and repeated wars, gives way to an age of unity and true progress,” the bishops maintained.
The bishops stated that voters must go to the polls with sufficient information and with full knowledge of the facts. “The content of the Constitution presents positive and negative elements,” the added, “and assessing it in its entirety is not an easy task.”
“The bishops wished a human right as basic as the right to life would have been unambiguously defined in the document. The Constitution does not exclude lethal research with human embryos, or abortion, or euthanasia. It likewise does not exclude human cloning for experimentation and therapeutics.
The bishops had hoped for greater protection of marriage and the family, as well as an explicit definition of marriage as the stable union of one man and one woman and the protection of the right of children not to be adopted by other types of unions,” the document added.
“And lastly, the bishops profoundly regret the deliberate omission of a reference to Christianity as one of the living roots of Europe and its values,” the bishops said.
“It is morally necessary to work for greater and more just integration in Europe,” the bishops stated. But, they clarified, their commitment to Europe does not oblige them in their pastoral ministry to take sides one way or the other on the question of the referendum.
Vatican City, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - In an interview with the Italian news agency APCOM, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, said the beatification process for Pope Pius XII “is proceeding without problems.”
The Portuguese cardinal said that in March 2005 a first meeting would take place of the committee of historians charged with examining the massive amount of material gathered during the years of preparation for the cause.
The historical review will be followed by theological reviews and later, by reviews by the committee of cardinals.
“The cause of Pope Pacelli continues ahead without problems and has never been stopped, despite the controversy of these days,” the cardinal told APCOM.
“As everyone knows, these are news controversies that have nothing to do with the main work of research,” which is about serious historical study of the complex period in question, the cardinal said.
Father Peter Gumpel, one of the most renowned experts on Pius XII and promoter of the cause, told Italian reporters that “the beatification process is proceeding normally and progressing.”
“It is not true that the process has been slowed down or stopped” because of recent accusations against Pius XII in the Italian media, which have been quickly refuted by historians. “They are absurd reports,” said Father Gumpel.
Managua, Nicaragua, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - The national assembly of Nicaragua decided this week to declare the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, the “Cardinal of peace” for his work during years for reconciliation in the country.
Congressman Edwin Castro, undersecretary of the National Assembly, said lawmakers agreed to pass a resolution after February 15 to confer the honorary title on the cardinal.
Congressman Castro said the initiative “is a request from all of the representatives” to recognize in life the “contribution” of Cardinal Obando in solving “the crisis in Nicaragua.” ”In all aspects of his ministry (the cardinal) has been a pillar of salvation, a cause for unity and a source of mediation in numerous and diverse difficulties, negotiations, battles and wars,” he said.
He added that at the international level, the archbishop of Managua has been the recipient of diverse acknowledgments.
Currently Cardinal Obando is at the Vatican and will possible return to Nicaragua on February 12. The cardinal has been acting as an observer to negotiations between the government and opposition leaders.
Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - Bishops across Mexico offered up prayers to Our Lady of Guadalupe this week for the speedy recovery of Pope John Paul II.
In a statement released by the Bishops Conference of Mexico, the prelates said the presence of Holy Father, for “as long as Divine Providence wills it, is a blessing and grace for the Church.”
The Pope “has always moved us by the extraordinary manner in which he bears his illness and makes it an integral part of his ministry and apostolic work,” said the bishops, adding that John Paul II teaches mankind how to grow old and how to face difficulties, and how to be the living Christ that never ceases to proclaim the Gospel to all people “giving of himself until the last stage of his life.”
The bishops said they prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whom the Pope has visited on five occasions, for his health and for the good of the Church in the world.
The Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico, Archbishop Giussepe Bertello, expressed thanks in the name of the Holy Father for the show of affection and for the prayers of the Mexican people, and he asked for continued prayers for the Pope.
The nuncio also thanked Mexican television networks for broadcasting footage of Mexicans praying at the Basilica of Guadalupe for Pope John Paul II.
Caracas, Venezuela, Feb 7, 2005 (CNA) - During a Mass celebrating the 80th anniversary of the St. Thomas Aquinas diocesan seminary, Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta Rodríguez of San Cristóbal, Venezuela, said the task of seminaries is to provide true formation for future priests.
Cleary moved by the anniversary celebration, Bishop Moronta said, “The Lord has been great; He has looked upon us with love, on us who are here now and on those who came before us, weak earthen vessels yet strengthened by the action of his Spirit that has enabled us to carry out the mission of this seminary: providing formation for priests, helping young seminarians so that during their formation, they learn to be configured to Christ, the eternal and high Priest, on the day of their ordination.”
The bishop added, “The Seminary ought to be like the time Jesus lived with his closest disciples, whom He instructed and taught so that later they would become his Apostles and shepherds of the new Church.”
”This is what our beloved seminary has been and should continue to be: the place of grace where those who have been called to the priestly ministry receive formation, according to the norms of the Church,” Bishop Moronta said.
The mission of the seminary is to form priests, not “religious professionals,” he went on. “Priests should be the image of the Good Shepherd and should be capable of knowing and being known by their flocks and of giving their lives for their sheep. Priests should be direct witnesses of the Resurrection and their enthusiasm for following Jesus unconditionally should be contagious to others.”
He ended his homily entrusting “the protection of our seminary” to the Mother of God, “Mother of all priests,” and to the seminary’s patron saint, St. Thomas Aquinas, “that the light of wisdom, the commitment to the faith and the enthusiasm of the Spirit rein in our diocesan seminary.”