Vatican City, Feb 10, 2005 (CNA) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See Press Office, announced this morning that, "It is expected that the Holy Father's return to the Vatican will take place today."
He added in his statement to journalists, that, "The acute laryngeal tracheitis that was the reason for urgently admitting the Holy Father to the hospital has healed”, and that, "The improvement of his general conditions continues favorably.”
"Over the last two days,” the statement continued, “all diagnostic exams, including a CAT scan, excluded other pathologies.”
Navarro-Valls noted that, "The Pope has decided to send a letter of thanks to all the people who have taken care of him these days: doctors, sisters, nurses, technicians and aides.
The Vatican Press Director also expressed special gratitude to “Dr. Rodolfo Proietti, professor of anesthesiology and reanimation and director of the Emergency and Admittance Department who coordinated the medical team, assisted by Doctors Massimo Antonelli, Gaetano Paludetti, professor of otorhinolaryngology and Filippo Crea, professor of cardiology."
Vatican City, Feb 10, 2005 (CNA) - Looking cheerful and imparting blessings to those who lined the streets of Rome to see him, Pope John Paul II arrived at the Vatican this evening, after spending nine days at the Gemelli Hospital.
The Pontiff left Gemelli at around 7:15pm local time and was transported in the popemobile accompanied by a small security detail. He arrived fifteen minutes later at the Holy See. The Pope had been hospitalized for an acute respiratory infection.
Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the illness "which resulted in his urgent hospitalization has been cured." Navarro-Valls told the press the Pope is anxious to return to his normal work schedule and begin preparing his reflection for this Sunday's Angelus.
Quebec City, Canada, Feb 10, 2005 (CNA) - Canada’s top cleric says Pope John Paul II has much to teach humanity in his frailty and deserves to remain the leader of the universal Church until his death.
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada, dismissed talk of retirement for the ailing pontiff in an interview with the Canadian Press yesterday.
“After the great service he has given us for 27 years, I think he deserves to die as Pope,” he said, reminding journalists that the Pope has “affirmed several times that he will remain at his post until his last breath.”
The Pope’s hospitalization Feb. 1 has renewed some discussion over whether he should retire.
"We should not see this illness as extreme," the cardinal told the CP, adding that the 84-year-old pontiff still has important lessons to teach.
"He has no physical strength but he has an extraordinary moral authority," Cardinal Ouellet was quoted as saying.
"His role at this moment is to draw attention to the situation of old people, of sick people, of handicapped people who are in his condition, to remind humanity of the dignity of the human being from the first moment, but especially at the end of life,” he explained. “I think it's an important mission."
The cardinal said he received a call from the Vatican yesterday morning, informing him that the Pope’s condition continues to improve and that he should resume his regular activities soon.
Rome, Italy, Feb 10, 2005 (CNA) - A young boy being treated for cancer paid a surprise visit to Pope John Paul II yesterday at Gemelli Hospital in Rome, reported the Associated Press.
The pope's personal secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, had paid a visit to the children in the hospital’s oncology ward, located next to the Pope’s room.
As Archbishop Dziwisz visited the children and gave them each a rosary, a young boy approached him and said he had been knocking on the Pope’s door since yesterday, but no one ever answered.
The archbishop reportedly replied: "Perhaps you would like to greet the Pope?" and then led him inside the Pope’s room.
Hospital spokesman Nicola Cerbino told reporters the boy asked for healing.
"Pope, make me well," said the boy, whose name and age were not disclosed. The Pope responded with a smile and gave him a special blessing, telling him to share it with the other children in his ward.
"Take the Pope's blessing to all the other children who are hospitalized, with the wish of a full recovery," John Paul was quoted as saying.
St. Louis, Mo., Feb 10, 2005 (CNA) - In a press release Tuesday morning, the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced that its patience with St. Stanislaus Kostka parish on the north side of the city had “officially evaporated.”
A dispute between St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Parish and the Archdiocese, which erupted nearly a year ago, surrounds the refusal of parish board members to bring the civil structure of the parish into compliance with Church law.
Under its current structure, St. Stanislaus’ archdiocesan appointed pastor is subject to the authority of the parish board. Burke says that this structure is unacceptable, according to Canon Law; but opponents claim that it is just a way for the Archdiocese to gain control of parish assets.
After almost a year, patience on both sides is running thin.
Archbishop Burke announced an original deadline of February 4th for the parish board to comply with the Archdiocese, but extended it last Friday in order to give the board “one more chance.”
As of Tuesday, the second deadline is also up and St. Stanislaus’ board members now face an official refusal of Sacraments within the Catholic Church.
Called an interdict, the denial of sacraments has long been used as a tool by the Church to show individuals their errors and call them to repentance.
The Archdiocese announced Tuesday that while the interdict will indeed be placed on the board members, it hasn’t decided when it will take effect. Under Canon Law, the interdict can be removed at any time if the parties involved choose to repent.
In November, the Vatican sided with the Archdiocese and denied an appeal which was hand-delivered by a parish board member.
Archbishop Burke removed St. Stanislaus’ pastors months ago and relocated official Polish Masses to a nearby parish.
Denver, Colo., Feb 10, 2005 (CNA) - Professor Ian Wilmut, best known for his cloning of the sheep, “Dolly” in 1997, has now been granted a license from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to start cloning human embryos.
According to the BBC, he and scientists from King’s College in London plan to clone early-stage human embryos for the purpose of studying motor neuron disease. Many fear however, that this is the first step toward full-blown human cloning.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver commented to CNA this morning that, “cloning human embryos is contrary to the Catholic understanding of the dignity of human beings from the moment of conception through eternity.”
Although Professor Wilmut has stressed in the past that, “his team has no intention of producing cloned babies,” he also added that the embryos the group does create, “will be destroyed after experimentation.” It is this very point that has many pro-life opponents outraged.
Archbishop Chaput noted that, “It's tragic that any country would allow for this kind of action which undermines our respect for each other.”
London, England, Feb 10, 2005 (CNA) - The United Kingdom’s leading Catholic newspaper, The Universe, refused to run a generic ad for the Catholic Action Group yesterday “on the grounds that it could not promote any group that openly advised priests,” said a Catholic Action Group press release.
The organization recently launched a campaign to boycott the Catholic British development organization, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), after it suggested that condoms might be an acceptable means to curb the AIDS problem in developing countries in certain circumstances.
The Catholic Action Group advised some priests to boycott the development agency following a recent article in The Tablet and another in the Guardian, which inferred that England’s bishops could not agree on whether to support CAFOD’s policy.
The Catholic Action Group has argued that the only official Vatican document on condoms is Humane Vitae, issued in the late 1960s. All recent comments by the Pope affirm this document as official Catholic teaching, despite the dissent of some bishops.
As a result of The Universe’s decision, the Catholic Action Group has decided to advertise in the secular press.
The Catholic Action Group will begin the mailing for its campaign Monday. CAFOD has already contacted parish priests as a pre-emptive action.
Washington D.C., Feb 10, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has urged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to take action against Saudi Arabia, reported the Catholic News Service.
In a letter to Rice this week, the commission said the U.S. should impose restrictions against Saudi Arabia within the next month because of severe freedom of religion and human rights violations, including torture, cruel and degrading treatment, detention without charge and coercive measures aimed at women.
In addition, Saudi Arabia prohibits all public religious expression other than Islam and has been accused of supporting the spread of an ideology of hatred, intolerance and violence abroad.
The commission was set up under the 1999 International Religious Freedom Act. Since then, it has recommended that the State Department add Saudi Arabia to the list of "countries of particular concern" four years in a row.
Last year, under former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Eritrea were added to the list, which already included China, Iran, Burma, North Korea and Sudan on the list. But no concrete action was taken.
The commission now wants Rice to take action against those Saudi officials responsible for abuses by March 15. It believes inaction will inevitably undermine U.S. efforts to promote religious freedom.
The commission recommended that the U.S. not allow into the country Saudi government officials, who are responsible for severe violations or who support the spread of hate, intolerance, and human rights violations abroad. It also recommended that the U.S. issue a warning, urging the Saudi government to stop funding such activities abroad.
In addition, the commission has urged the U.S. should not issue licenses to export materials that could be used for both military and civilian purposes. Last year’s American exports to Saudi Arabia included shackles, leg-irons "and other items that could be used to perpetrate human rights violations," reported the commission.
Vatican City, Feb 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican made public a letter from the Pope today announcing the theme for the 2005 Brazilian Lenten Fraternity Campaign, “Solidarity and Peace – Blessed are the Peacemakers.”
The letter, dated January 3rd, was sent from Pope John Paul II to Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo, archbishop of Sao Salvador da Bahia, primate of Brazil and president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil.
The Pope notes that, "this happy initiative, promoted by the Catholic Church more than 40 years ago, now reaches all Christian denominations in CONIC - the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil - thus constituting a significant occasion for ecumenical collaboration."
"In the world in which we live," the Holy Father continues, "frequently troubled by violence and marked by indifference, Christians who assume the commitment to promote peace and solidarity become efficacious instruments of evangelization and an example for everyone in building a society that is more fraternal and more attentive to the needs of the poor and indigent.”
The Pope also points out that, "The ecumenical mark of this year's Fraternity Campaign will facilitate for the Christians of Brazil a better reciprocal knowledge and a greater mutual esteem."