Rome, Italy, Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - A top Italian cardinal said he is certain Pope John Paul II has the capacity to continue to work and to make decisions even after the 10 days he recently spent in hospital for the flu and breathing difficulties, reported the Italian daily La Repubblica.
"The pope is well, the flu has completely passed and I think that in a few days he will really begin work again," Cardinal Camillo Ruini told the newspaper. "I am very optimistic. I am in fact sure that ... he will continue to have the real capacity to work ... not only in his speeches but in the decisions that are taken."
In the report, published Feb. 12, the pontiff's vicar for Rome confirmed that the Pope still has intentions of traveling to Cologne, Germany, in August for World Youth Day.
While the recent illness has once again left many wondering how the 84-year-old pontiff would continue in his papacy, Pope John Paul II has repeatedly said he intends to carry out his mission until the end of his life.
On Saturday, the Pope sent a message of solidarity to a gathering in Cameroon to mark World Day of the Sick, praising health workers.
"My thoughts, in a special way, go to you, sick brothers and sisters, who carry on the body the signs of pain and fragility," he said.
Lisbon, Portugal, Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - In declarations to the Portuguese news agency Lusa, several Portuguese bishops praised the life of Sister Lucia, who they recalled as an “example of faith,” and they praised her testimony of humility and discretion.
Bishop Antonio Marcelina of Aveiro and Vice President of the Bishops Conference of Portugal said Sister Lucia “represents a certainty of immense faithfulness to God. She is another person who will be watching over us from Heaven.” He also stated, “The message of Fatima echoes the message of the Gospel.”
Auxiliary Bishop Carlos Azevedo of Lisbon and President of the Scientific Committee of the Critical Documentation of Fatima remembered her in “her role of a simple woman who received the mystery of God.” “During her long life she knew how to live with great humility her being blessed with a great gift and she deserves all of our veneration because of this,” he added.
Bishop Januario Torgal Ferreira of the Military Diocese said Sister Lucia’s discretion made it possible that the Shrine and the message of Fatima remained completely autonomous from her life. “Sister Lucia always lived hidden in silence” and “she was never seen as a protagonist of world events,” he emphasized. “I think she was a person who was at the origin of a great milestone in the spirituality of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, and in my opinion her hiddenness and desire not to be a protagonist were what prevailed in her,” said Bishop Ferreira.Bishop Armindo Lopes Coelho of Porto expressed his sadness at learning of Sister Lucia’s passing. Her life “was associated with the events of Fatima, the apparitions, the message, the devotion and adoration, the faith of multitudes, the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, the pilgrimages and the lives and interior transformation of many people,” he said.
Washington D.C., Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has shelved a study that highlights the effectiveness of abstinence education in reducing HIV infection and has commissioned a second study to a researcher known to advocate condom distribution instead, reports Focus on the Family.
Focus on the Family has urged key members of Congress to look into why a government health agency, charged with dispersing funds to HIV-prevention efforts in Africa, is contradicting Bush administration policy that supports abstinence education.
The issue is examined in depth in the March issue of Focus on the Family’s Citizen Magazine, which has been mailed to hundreds of senators and congressmen. The cover story, titled "Burying the Truth," examines the research being suppressed, which was conducted by Harvard scientist Edward C. Green, a self-described "secular liberal."
"What USAID has done is a slap in the face to the administration it is supposed to serve," said Peter Brandt, senior director of government and public policy at Focus on the Family.
"The stated policy of President Bush is to stress abstinence education first in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, because that is the approach that has been scientifically proven to save lives."
Vatican City, Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced that the conclusion to a report on Globalization published last year is due to be presented on February 25th by Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council "Justice and Peace," and Juan Somavia, director of the International Labor Organization.
The presentation will take place at 3 p.m. on the 25 at the Pontifical Lateran University. The original report was published last year by the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization.
The Vatican noted that, the report "seeks to initiate a globalization with a strong social dimension, based on universally shared values, on respect for human rights and for the dignity of each individual; a just and democratically governed globalization that offers tangible opportunities and benefits to all countries and to all peoples.
Vatican City, Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, the Holy Father and the Roman curia entered into their annual Lenten retreat, which will last through the week.
The Vatican commented today that annual retreats for the Pope and Roman Curia trace their origins back to Pope Pius XI.
In December of 1929, the then-Pope marked the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination by publishing the Encyclical "'Mens nostra,' On The Promotion of Spiritual Exercises" which he addressed to "Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and Other Local Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See."
In that encyclical, the Pope informed the faithful that he had arranged to hold spiritual exercises every year in the Vatican, a custom, which continues today. In the early years this retreat was held during the first week in Advent but now takes place in the first full week of Lent.
Cardinal Achille Ratti, archbishop of Milan, was elected to the papacy on February 6, 1922, and took the name of Pius XI. He died on February 10, 1939.
On January 6, 1929, feast of the Epiphany, Pius XI declared a Jubilee Year to mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of his ordination and asked the faithful to "share in the joy of their common father and to join with us in rendering thanks to the Supreme Giver of all good."
In the Encyclical "Mens nostra", presented at the end of that year, he looked back at the "many and rich fruits" of the Jubilee and wrote that, as a way to "express our heartfelt gratitude, ... we have deemed it fitting ... to establish something most excellent which will, we trust, prove a source of many advantages to the Christian people.”
“We are speaking”, he said, “of the practice of Spiritual Exercises, which we earnestly desire to see daily extended more widely, not only among the clergy, both secular and regular, but also among the multitudes of the Catholic laity."
Pius XI wrote at length on the history of "Sacred Retreats," citing many thoughts on the subject from his predecessors, from Doctors of the Church and founders of religious orders such as Don Bosco of the Salesians and, most especially St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, "whom we are pleased to call the chief and peculiar Master of Spiritual Exercises."
On July 22, 1922, the Pope went so far as to have, "declared and constituted St. Ignatius of Loyola the heavenly Patron of all Spiritual Exercises and, therefore, of institutes, sodalities and bodies of every kind assisting those who are making the Spiritual Exercises."
Pope Pius XI expressed the "joy" and consolation" he found in Spiritual Exercises and commented, “In order that we may secure this joy and consolation, both for ourselves and for others who are near us, We have already made arrangements for holding the Spiritual Exercises every year in the Vatican."
The Pope made a strong point to admonish however, "Nor should the priests of the Clergy, secular and regular, think that the time spent on the Spiritual Exercises tends to the detriment of the apostolic ministry."
, Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - Two Catholic legislators from Massachusetts sought to justify their support for same-sex marriage last week by citing their religious convictions. Representative Marie P. St. Fleur said Feb. 10 that her conclusion was “coming from a place of faith,” and Senator Marian Walsh said her “faith” gave her the “clarity” she needed to make this decision.
“These two Massachusetts lawmakers are free to come to any conclusion they want on the issue of gay marriage, but they look rather foolish seeking support for their position by citing their fidelity to Catholicism,” said Catholic League president William Donohue. “There is nothing in Catholic teaching that lends credence to their belief. It would have been more honest to simply say they reject the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
The Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry, a liberal group of mainline Protestants and Jews who reject biblical teachings on marriage, the family and sexuality, honored both politicians at a ceremony Feb. 10.
Washington D.C., Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - A coalition of Christian organizations are calling on citizens who support the public display of the Ten Commandments to come to Washington, DC, on the eve of Supreme Court arguments in two cases on this issue.
Faith and Action, the Christian Defense Coalition and Grassfire.net are sponsoring three events, beginning March 1, before and during oral arguments in Van Orden v. Perry, involving a monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol, and McCreary County v. ACLU of Ky, involving posters in a courthouse.
The three events include a legal forum, a candlelight vigil and a morning rally. Grassfire.net has collected more than 100,000 petitions supporting the public display of the Ten Commandments and will sponsor the legal forum.
Faith and Action has filed briefs in both cases and has a reserved seat in the courtroom.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - Argentinean’s Health Minister, Gines Gonzalez Garcia, told the daily “Page 12” this week that he is in favor of the legalization of abortion.
“Yes, I believe abortion should be legalized,” Gonzalez stated, adding that his position is based on his opposition to “maternal mortality and infant mortality. For ethical and health reasons.”
Gonzalez argued that the legalization of abortion has to do with health issues. “If abortion were legal, many of those mothers who do not seek medical attention or who almost die would be saved.” “The reproductive health plan prevents many abortions through the prevention of unwanted pregnancies,” he claimed.
President Nestor Kirchner has not made any statements on abortion or birth control, but he has not removed Gonzalez, who recommended judges publicly in favor of the legalization of abortion for seats on the Supreme Court.
Its not the first time the Health Minister has revealed his anti-life position. Recently he lead an effort to have contraceptives distributed free of charge as part of an AIDS prevention campaign.
Toledo, Spain, Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - During a press conference to mark the beginning of the Week of the Family, Archbishop Antonio Cañizares of Toledo, Spain, said “therapeutic cloning” was a euphemism and that its purpose is “to create cloned human beings in order to kill them” in an attack against human life and dignity.
The archbishop made reference to the reform of the country’s assisted reproduction laws which would permit the selection and utilization of health embryos to treat illnesses that are currently incurable.
“With this action they are saying that the ends justify the means, and if we are going to apply this moral criteria here, let’s apply it to everything, and we will see what kind of devastating consequences it will lead us to,” the archbishop maintained.
He pointed this out as one of the principal problems with the European Constitution. Whatever their vote is on Europe’s Magna Carta, he said, Catholics should make their choice “in conscience,” taking careful note of “each aspect of the document.”
Referring to the Week of the Family, which is being celebrated parishes throughout Toledo, Archbishop Cañizares underscored the need for all men and women of good will to work to “save and promote the truth” about the family and to safeguard family values and obligations.
“In these times in which we live it is urgent that the ideal of the family according to God’s design be presented with authenticity,” he added.
The archbishop acknowledged the many problems that affect families today, such as the denial of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, the lack of openness to life, anti-family legislation, widespread divorce, misconception about human sexuality and insufficient government support.
Madrid, Spain, Feb 15, 2005 (CNA) - In an interview with the Spanish magazine Alba, Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla of Segorbe-Castellón, Spain, explained the origin of gender ideology and laid out seven concepts Catholics should keep in mind in understanding the “gay phenomenon” in Spain and the rest of the world.
The bishop explained that gender ideology began with the “fraudulent Kinsey Report at the end of the 1940s,” which “was an invitation to all kinds of sexual experimentations” and disrupted the proper order of human relationships: “marriage-love-sexuality (man and woman)-procreation.”
Later, Bishop Reig Pla indicated step by step the stages that led to the emergence of gender ideology. “First, sexuality without marriage: so-called free love. Then, sexuality without openness to children: contraception and abortion. Later, sexuality without love: having sex, pornography, etc. Later, having children without sex: assisted reproduction. Lastly, sexuality was separated from the person: there is no longer male and female; sex is an anatomic feature with no anthropological relevance. One can choose to sexually configure oneself according to one’s wishes: heterosexual man, homosexual man, heterosexual woman, transsexuals. Gender ideology was born.”
The bishop denounced the existence of a gay lobby made up of associations that coordinate in apply pressure in society, in the media and in politics. He also pointed to the existence of “political homosexuality as a fundamental tool of pressure used by the gay lobby.” This strategy aims to convince politicians of the political benefits of making legislative concessions to the homosexual lobby.
Likewise, Bishop Reig Pla warned that the “gay culture” is “the ultimate end of the gay lobby. It’s a gay civilization in which homosexuality, or at least bisexuality, is ‘natural’ and universally accepted and practiced”
Lastly, he denounced the emergence of a “gay theology” which is an extension of the gay lobby and has infiltrated all Christian denominations and the Catholic Church. Its representatives have systematically elaborated an absolutely heretical body of doctrine. This theology seeks to seduce some, divide Catholics and disparage pastors by spreading these ideas through the media.”