Archive of February 25, 2005

Pope John Paul resting; breathing on own following tracheotomy

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican this morning released a much anticipated statement on the condition of Pope John Paul II who underwent tracheotomy surgery last night during his second visit to a Rome hospital this month.

Holy See Press Office Director, Joaquin Navarro-Valls released a statement to journalists this morning saying, "The Holy Father spent a night of tranquil rest”, and that "This morning he ate breakfast with a good appetite.”

He added that, "The post-operative situation continues regularly”, and that the Pope “is breathing on his own and [his] cardio-circulatory conditions remain good.”

Navarro-Valls continued, "Upon the advice of his doctors, the Pope must not speak for several days so as to favor the recovery of the functions of the larynx. "A new medical bulletin is not foreseen until next Monday, February 28 at 12:30 p.m."

At a 12:30pm,  press conference today, Dr. Navarro-Valls told journalists, "I wish to review the circumstances prior to the Holy Father's admittance yesterday to the hospital.”

"From the moment that the Pope left the hospital on February 10,” he said, “he had no fever. This allowed him to undertake his normal activity: Mass in the morning, 'ad limina' audiences, receiving his collaborators, etc.”

“Certainly, there is not now - nor was there ever - any bronchial-pulmonary infection--Naturally, he followed a normal diet.

"Rather, as I said in my communique yesterday, there were 'new episodes of acute respiratory insufficiency, caused by a pre-existing functional restriction of the larynx'. The Pope was watched over in his apartment, in case the need arose, by a doctor specialized in reanimation and by Dr. Camaioni, whom I mentioned yesterday."

"The tracheotomy that the Pope underwent yesterday”, Navarro-Valls continued, “was called an 'elective tracheotomy': this means that it was not an emergency procedure. As we said yesterday, it was a question of 'assuring adequate breathing for the patient and to favor the resolution of the larynx pathology'.”

He reported that the Pope “is now breathing better, feels notable relief and does not need assistance in breathing - from a machine or otherwise."

In answer to questions from the gathered journalists, the press office director stressed that the Pope did not have a fever either yesterday or today. He added that Pope John Paul had his "usual" breakfast of coffee with milk, several small cookies and yogurt, and "he ate it all."

Regarding the possibility of the Pope presiding at this Sunday’s Angelus, Navarro-Valls added that he would be speaking to the Pope's secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz and to his doctors to see what could be arranged for the Angelus prayer and reflections and would let the media know in a timely fashion.

In answer to a journalist who asked how the Pope communicates, he said, "It is rather difficult to explain. What I can say is that when he went back to his room, the anesthesia was very light, given the light surgery that he had, and he made a gesture saying he wanted to write.”

And he wrote, jokingly, 'What have they done to me? But right afterwards he wrote (his motto): 'Totus tuus' (I am all yours)."

Last evening Navarro-Valls, made a declaration on the condition of Pope John Paul II, which stated that, "The flu syndrome, which was the reason behind the Pope's admittance this morning to Gemelli Polyclinic, in recent days was complicated by new episodes of acute respiratory insufficiency, caused by a pre-existing functional restriction of the larynx.”

This clinical picture pointed to an elective tracheotomy to assure adequate breathing for the patient and to favor the resolution of the larynx pathology.”

"The Holy Father,” Navarro-Valls assured, “duly informed, gave his consent”.

He continued that, "The procedure, which began at 8:20 p.m. and ended at 8:50 p.m., was successfully completed. The immediate post-operative situation is regular.”

He also added that, "The Holy Father is spending the night in his hospital room.”

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Pope calls ‘Christ and the Church’ center Msgr. Giussani’s life

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced today that a letter of condolences from the Holy Father sent Tuesday was read during the funeral Mass of Communion and Liberation founder, Msgr. Luigi Giussani, who died this week at 82.

The funeral was celebrated at 3 p.m. yesterday in Milan's cathedral by Pontifical Legate, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. An estimated 30,000 people, both inside and outside the Duomo, were present for the Mass.

The Pope wrote in his letter that, "I learned with great emotion, the news of the death of dear Msgr. Luigi Giussani, which came at the end of a long illness, accepted by him in a spirit of serene abandonment to the divine will and generous participation in the mystery of the Cross of Christ."

 Pope John Paul said that he had met the Msgr. on many occasions "and admired his ardent faith which was translated into a Christian witness capable of stimulating, especially in young people, a broad and convinced welcome of the Gospel message.”

“I thank the Lord,” the Pope wrote, “for the gift of his life that was spent without reserve in coherent adhesion to his own priestly vocation, to constantly listening to the needs of contemporary man, and in courageous service to the Church.”

His entire apostolic action could be summed up in the open and decisive invitation that he knew how to extend to all who came to him, to a personal encounter with Christ, the full and definitive answer to the deepest longings of the human heart."

The Holy Father noted that Msgr. Giussani had "proposed Jesus as 'a companion' to young people, "having forsaken an academic career to dedicate himself to the formation of students.

"His evangelizing activity”, the Pope wrote, “began in the 1960s, presenting the truth of faith with an open and ceaseless dialogue, with coherent docility to the Magisterium of the Church and above all with an exemplary witness of life.”

“Thus”, he said, “was born Communion and Liberation, which grew over the years thanks to the apostolic ardor of this fervent Ambrosian priest." St. Ambrose, Father and Doctor of the Church, is the patron of the archdiocese of Milan.”

"Christ and the Church: here is the synthesis of his life and his apostolate. Without ever

separating one from the other, he communicated to those around him a true love for the Lord and for the various Popes whom he personally knew."

In his concluding remarks, the Pope wrote, "A defender of man's reason, Fr. Giussani had a profound knowledge of literature and music and was convinced of the value of art as a path leading to mystery.”

Followed by the members of the movement he founded, now in many countries of the world, and listened to as well with respect by persons of different faiths and

different professions, I love to remember him as a master of mankind and defender of the religiosity written in the human heart."

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Wisconsin group points efforts toward fight to save Schiavo

Milwaukee, Wis., Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - A Pro-life group in Wisconsin is making the fight for Terri Schiavo’s life first on their priority list.

Because of a decision by Florida judge George Greer, the husband of brain damaged Schiavo’s was forced to postpone the removal of his wife’s feeding tube until at least today.

For nearly four years, a fight has raged between Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, who maintains that his wife would never have wanted to be kept alive in her current state, and her parents who argue that their daughter never stated anything of the sort and could still be conscious.

Barbara Lyons, Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life said that, "We must realize that Judge Greer's ruling is only temporary and that Terri's life is still in grave danger." 

She added that the group is “urging all Wisconsin citizens who have friends and relatives in Florida to contact those friends and relatives and urge them to contact their representatives in the Florida legislature and ask them to immediately pass legislation to protect Terri Schiavo and others who are in a similar situation."

Governor Jeb Bush and others in Florida state government are working on possible bills and other strategies to protect Terri and those in similar situations. Terri’s family and their lawyers are working closely with legislators and trying to race the clock on their daughter’s life.

Wisconsin Right to Life added that while the state of Wisconsin currently has two documents “that allow individuals to declare their preferences for health care decisions, they contain a number of serious shortcomings from the pro-life perspective – some of which could cause premature death.”

“In order to address those serious shortcomings,” Lyons said, “Wisconsin Right to Life offers pro-life versions of those documents and we encourage Wisconsin residents to obtain copies of those documents."

Wisconsin Right to Life can be reached at

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Supporters fight for Schiavo’s life with prayer and protests

Clearwater, Fla., Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - As the family of brain damaged Terri Schiavo race the clock to prevent her husband from removing her feeding tube, effectively ending her life, numerous prayer vigils and protests have been planned around the Clearwater, Florida area.

Some of those recently announced include:

-Friday, February 25, from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

In front of the office of George J. Felos (Pro-Euthanasia Activist and Michael Schiavo's attorney) Felos & Felos PA, at 595 Main Street, in Dunedin, Florida

-11:30 AM

Press Conference in front of Felos & Felos PA, at 595 Main Street, in Dunedin, Florida.

-2:00 – 4:00 PM

A demonstration planned in front of an Italian restaurant in Clearwater, Florida has been cancelled. The restaurant has a new owner. The family regrets any inconvenience.

-5:00 – 7:00 PM

Prayer vigil in front of the Woodside Hospice where Terri Schindler Schiavo lives.

The Woodside Hospice, is located at 6774 102nd Avenue N. (near 66th Street N and 102nd Avenue N) in Pinellas Park, Florida.

-Saturday, February 26, from 10 AM - 4 PM

The neighborhood of Michael Schiavo's & Jodi Centonze's home. Protestors will gather at the corner of Marrie Court and Frisco Drive. 

Students from Ava Maria College will be present.

-5:00 – 7:00 PM

Prayer vigil in front of the Woodside Hospice (address above)

-Sunday, February 27, at 10:0 AM until noon

Judge George Greer's church, Calvary Baptist Church, 331 Cleveland Street, in Clearwater, Florida

Randall Terry, president of the Society for Truth and Justice, stated that, "We are asking that Calvary Baptist Church takes the appropriate disciplinary action in regard to their member, Judge George Greer, for his part in pursuing the starvation of Terri Schindler Schiavo."

-5:00 – 7:00 PM

Prayer vigil in front of the Woodside Hospice (address above).

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Bishop Aquila named Apostolic Administrator for Sioux Falls

, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of Fargo yesterday announced that Pope John Paul II has named Bishop Samuel J. Aquila, Bishop of Fargo, as interim administrator for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The announcement comes following the instillation of Sioux Fall’s former bishop, Robert Carlson, as the new Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan.

Bishop Aquila stated that he is “grateful for the confidence of the Holy Father and look forward to helping the Diocese of Sioux Falls until a new bishop is named.”  

He added that, “Bishop Carlson is a friend and, through him, I am familiar with some of the priests and know of the great people in the diocese… I look forward to working with the priests, religious and laity in maintaining the great faith life of this local church.”

Bishop Aquila will remain bishop of Fargo in addition to his duties in neighboring Sioux Falls.

The west coast native has been Bishop of Fargo since 2002 and was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Denver in 1976.

Bishop Carson commented that he was “delighted at the Holy Father’s appointment…and thankful for [Aquila’s] generosity in saying yes to this challenge.”  

“He will be a great blessing to the Diocese of Sioux Falls.”

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Vatican announces second synod of African bishops

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - Today the Vatican publicized a Message from Pope John Paul to Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, and all those participating in the Special Council for Africa of the Secretariat General of the Synod of Bishops.

The Holy Father’s letter was dated February 23 and written in French.

The Pope began the letter by thanking the archbishop and the synod for the "important work you have accomplished and will continue to accomplish in service to the Church in Africa."

He pointed out that the special council was formed in 1994 after the Special Assembly for Africa, and adds that it "now has the task of preparing for the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa" which is scheduled for 2009.

"Noting the dynamism born of the first African synodal experience,” the Pope said, “this assembly will seek to deepen and prolong it, resting on the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Africa', and taking into account the local churches and their pastors, helping them in their pastoral projects, thus preparing the future of the Church on the African continent, which is living difficulty circumstances on the political, economic and social levels as well as regards peace."

Pope John Paul thanked the Lord for the impetus the Church has experienced since the last synod and adds that, “Africa is still afflicted by terrible plagues such as armed conflicts, persistent poverty, illnesses and their devastating consequences, starting with the drama of AIDS, widespread insecurity and finally, the corruption, All this weakens Africa, saps its energies, decimates its new generations and mortgages its future."

He added that for Africa to have "a stable and prosperous society," they need the efforts of all its people, especially "the sons and daughters of the Church."

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Baltimore Archbishop urges faithful to pray for Pope’s recovery

, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - Several U.S. bishops have encouraged their faithful to pray for Pope John Paul II.

Doctors performed a tracheotomy on the 84-year-old pope yesterday to ease his breathing problems. The Vatican says the operation was completed successfully but it will likely require a minimum hospital stay of two weeks.

The archbishop of Baltimore, William Cardinal Keeler, encouraged all priests, religious and laity in his diocese to join him in praying for the Pope John Paul’s “full recovery and timely return to ministry."

Adam Cardinal Maida, archbishop of Detroit, called on his archdiocese to keep Pope John Paul II in their prayers.

"Father of all life, we ask your special blessing and protection for our Holy Father on earth," Maida's prayer said. "According to your will, restore him to the service of your church and keep us all in your peace."

Maida, a Polish-American spiritual leader of the more than one million Catholics, is a longtime friend of the pope.

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Quebec cardinals ask Canadians to pray for Pope

Quebec City, Canada, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - Two Canadian cardinals have called for special prayers for the frail leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

Marc Cardinal Ouellet has asked all Canadians to show their support for Pope John Paul II, who underwent a tracheotomy yesterday at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital. 

"I'm asking people to pray for him, particularly those of the Catholic faith, to show him our solidarity," said the archbishop of Quebec City.

Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, the archbishop of Montreal, has invited people to a special mass at the downtown Mary Queen of the World Cathedral at noon today.

Cardinal Ouellet, who is among 120 cardinals worldwide with a vote to select the next leader of the Church, has dismissed a suggestion his trip to Italy next week means a vote on replacing the ailing pontiff is imminent.

"I wouldn't want my departure to be interpreted as meaning there's an emergency situation in Rome," Ouellet told reporters in Quebec City yesterday. "This meeting (beginning Tuesday) has been in the works for several months and it's simply normal Church business."

Ouellet repeated previous statements from earlier this month that he doesn't believe the Pope should step down.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Toronto told the Canadian Press that the archdiocese is not planning anything "special," such as vigils, because the Pope is being prayed for at daily masses.

"We don't have to do anything extra because we already got the best we have and that's mass,” said Suzanne Scorsone. "We love the Holy Father and are praying for him."

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Christian Life Movement founder calls Pope ‘an example of constancy and fortitude’

Lima, Peru, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - Luis Fernando, founder of the Christian Life Movement, a worldwide religious community based in Peru called on Catholics today to offer prayers for the Holy Father who underwent tracheotomy surgery earlier today.

“This is a new occasion to unite ourselves to the prayers of men and women all around the world for dear Holy Father John Paul II”, Fernando said in a statement issued today.

He added that the Pope’s “example of constancy and fortitude in his long sickness speak, in addition to his personal virtues, of the dignity of human being. Elderly as he is, with a severe sickness he is speaking to the world that neither age nor frailness in health constitute a diminish in human dignity.”

Fernando pointed out that through his illness, the Pope is “sending a message announcing to all that euthanasia or eugenic ideology are not the answer, and that they have never been. The Vicar of Christ in the whole itinerary of his illness, and through the way he has faced it is telling the world: human dignity is inherent to the reality of man.”

On the other side, Fernando noted that the Pope has said that, “God does not want sickness”, and that evil and death have entered the world through sin.

For this reason, he implored faithful to offer their prayers for the Holy Father--who now finds himself in the hospital for the second time in a month; the first visit, having lasted ten days—and unite them to the cross of Christ, in which, "every form of suffering can become meaningful.”

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New film distorts truth of Crusades, depicts ‘Osama bin Laden’s version of history’

London, England, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - A new film about the Crusades distorts history and risks fuelling Islamic fundamentalism, say some British academics.

“Kingdom of Heaven,” by Oscar-nominated director Ridley Scott, stars Orlando Bloom as a young man who joins the Crusades — the centuries-long war in which thousands of Catholic men fought to defend against the Muslim conquests of Christian lands in the Middle East and Northern Africa during the Medieval Period.

The film is expected to hit theatres May 6.

‘Rubbish’ and ‘dangerous to Arab relations’

The film is set at the time of King Baldwin IV (1161-1185), leading up to the Battle of Hattin in 1187, when the Muslim leader Saladin conquered Jerusalem for the Muslims.

However, the filmmaker’s portrayal of events during this time period is less than accurate. Several professors of Church and Medieval history have even described the film as “rubbish”, “ridiculous, “complete fiction” and “dangerous to Arab relations.”

The film introduces the “Brotherhood of Muslims, Jews and Christians,” which the film says was broken up by the Christian Knights Templar.

“There was never a confraternity of Muslims, Jews and Christians,” Britain’s leading Crusades historian Jonathan Riley-Smith told the London Telegraph. “That is utter nonsense.”

The film, he said, is “not historically accurate at all.”

The movie refers to “The Talisman”, the 1825 book by Sir Walter Scott, which has been discredited by academics, Riley-Smith told the Telegraph while the film was still in production.

The book is a romanticized version of the Crusades, which falsely depicts the Muslims as sophisticated and civilized and the Crusaders as barbarians, he said. 

U.S. Islamic scholar Robert Spencer also debunked the myth of the “brotherhood” on his Web site. Had the film’s director and others on the film project “bothered to pierce through the deceptive half-truths about Islamic tolerance” they would have discovered that dhimmis (non-Muslims living in Muslim lands) are forbidden, according to Islamic law, to fight alongside Muslims in jihad, he stated.

‘Osama bin Laden’s version of history’

Historian and Crusades author Jonathan Philips agreed about the historical inaccuracies in the film.

Philips told the Telegraph that by portraying the Muslim leader Saladin as a hero, the filmmaker was following in the footsteps of both Saddam Hussein and Hafez Assad, the former Syrian dictator. Both dictators had commissioned huge portraits and statues of Saladin in order to bolster Arab Muslim pride.

“It’s Osama bin Laden’s version of history,” said Philips. “It will fuel Islamic fundamentalists.”

“What may be more unfortunate than the film itself is that untold numbers will believe it,” said Spencer.

Filmmaker, writer ‘try to hit the truth’

In an interview with Time Magazine in the fall, the film’s director said he thinks the controversy is unfounded. He said as a filmmaker, who works in fiction and not in documentary, “I try to hit the truth.”

The screenwriter, former journalist William Monahan, “always tried to read the primary documents. It's tricky, because you weren't there and you're not talking to anyone who was there," said Scott, whose credits include Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down.

"We try to show both sides in a very balanced light,” he said. “We employed Muslim actors in three major roles. Ghassan Massoud, who plays Saladin, is a Muslim scholar, and he was very happy with the balance."

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White House wishes the Pope fast recovery

Washington D.C., Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - President George W. Bush wished Pope John Paul II a speedy recovery yesterday.

"On behalf of all Americans, Laura and I send our heartfelt best wishes to Pope John Paul II," Bush said in a statement. "The Holy Father is in our thoughts and prayers and we wish him a speedy recovery and return to the service of his church and of all humanity."

The statement was issued aboard Air Force One as the president returned to Washington from Europe.

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Anglican Communion asks U.S., Canadian churches to withdraw

London, England, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada withdrew yesterday from a key body of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

It marked the first formal split in the communion over the issues of homosexuality and same-sex unions, which had become intense issues in the last two years. The U.S. church consecrated an openly homosexual bishop, and the Anglican church in both countries have begun blessing same-sex unions. 

The Anglican primates, who gathered for a five-day meeting in Northern Ireland to discuss the explosive issue, issued a statement saying that the withdrawal of the two churches from the Anglican Consultative Council is temporary, until 2008.

James Rosenthal, spokesman for the Anglican Communion, said the U.S. and Canadian churches voluntarily withdrew.

“In the meantime, we ask our fellow primates to use their best influence to persuade their brothers and sisters to exercise a moratorium on public rites of blessing for same-sex unions and on the consecration of any bishop living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage," the statement said.

Discussions ongoing, meeting in June

The primates also called for the U.S. and Canadian churches to explain their thinking on these issues at a meeting in Nottingham, England, in June.

The statement reaffirmed a resolution adopted by all Anglican bishops in 1998, which opposed ordinations of homosexuals and same-sex blessings and declared that homosexual practices were "incompatible with Scripture."

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Frank T. Griswold issued a brief statement, in which he stressed that discussions were continuing.

"These days have not been easy for any of us and the communiqué reflects a great deal of prayer and the strong desire to find a way forward as a communion in the midst of deep differences which have been brought into sharp relief around the subject of homosexuality.

"Clearly, all parts of the communiqué will not please everyone. It is important to keep in mind that it was written with a view to making room for a wide variety of perspectives," he said.

"I am grateful that the Anglican Communion is still able to make room for different points of view, so we can avoid schism and fracturing and stay together for the sake of the Gospel," Griswold said. 

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual leader of the communion, was made no comment Thursday but has planned to speak at a news conference today.

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Catholic League demands NBC sitcom be shelved

, Feb 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic League is demanding that NBC retire the sitcom “Committed” after the network made “a direct frontal assault on Roman Catholicism, choosing to mock, trivialize and ridicule the Body and Blood of Christ.”

During the Feb. 22 episode, two non-Catholics characters are mistakenly given Holy Communion at a Catholic funeral mass. Nate, who is Jewish, and Bowie, a Protestant, don’t know what to do with the Eucharist, so they make several failed attempts to get rid of it. For example, they try slipping it into the pocket of a priest and dropping it on a tray of cheese and crackers. 

At one point, the priest, who is portrayed as not knowing the difference between the host and a cracker, goes to grab the “cracker” from a tray of appetizers; he initially balks when he discovers that it is the last one. Then he changes his mind, saying, “Oh, what the hell.” The most offensive scene occurs when Nate and Bowie accidentally flush what they think is the host down the toilet.

Catholic League president William Donohue said clergy and laity from right across the country have deluged the league with complaints. He said the league hasn’t received this many complaints in quite a while.

“To say that Catholics are angry about this show would be an understatement—the outrage is visceral and intense,” said Donohue.  

“What happened was deliberate,” he said. “According to a Jan. 2 story in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the writers for the series, Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline, have been encouraged by NBC executives ‘to push the limits of comedy.’”

Donohue said the writers of “Roseanne,” “Murphy Brown” and “Ellen” “decided to play it safe and stay in good standing with their bosses by bashing Catholics” rather than attacking some other group that is protected by political correctness. 

“More than an apology is needed,” said Donohue. “This episode should be retired for good, and that is what we will demand.”

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