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Archive of February 28, 2005

Vatican calls Pope’s condition ‘good’

Vatican City, Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - This morning Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls gave journalists a medical bulletin outlining the current state of the Pope's health.

In it, he said that, "The Holy Father's post-operative phase is taking place without complications”, and that, "His general condition and biological parameters continue to be good.”

"The Holy Father”, he said, “is eating regularly, spends some hours in an armchair and has begun exercises to rehabilitate breathing and phonation.”

Navarro-Valls added that barring any unforeseen circumstances, that the next official communique will be given on Thursday, March 3rd.

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Pope makes surprise appearance from hospital window

Rome, Italy, Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - Sunday morning, just after Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, deputy Vatican Secretary of State read a statement from the Holy Father, John Paul II himself made a surprise appearance to greet faithful gathered below his Rome hospital room.

In what were reported as “very clear gestures”, the Pope made the sign of the cross, in blessing over the crowd who responded with loud cheers of “John Paul II, we love you!”

The Holy Father was forced to miss his Sunday Angelus blessing for the first time in his 26-year pontificate, but Archbishop Sandri read a statement from the Pope to those gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica.

In it, the Pope said, "I thank you with affection and feel you all spiritually near. I think of you gathered in St. Peter's Square, alone and in groups that have come, and to all those from every part of the world who are interested in me. I ask you to continue to accompany me, above all with your prayers."

He added his motto of “Totus Tuus”, entrusting himself to the care of Mary.

Sandri led an estimated 5,000 faithful in the Angelus prayer in the Pope’s place, and said that, “the Holy Father is not with us, but he is following us from Gemelli.”

The Pope underwent a successful tracheotomy surgery on Thursday and is recovering well, according to the Vatican. Doctors have advised him not to speak while a breathing tube is still being used to assist the Holy Father.

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Judge gives Schiavo’s husband green light to remove feeding tube

Clearwater, Fla., Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - In a devastating announcement for pro-life advocates and the family of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, Florida Judge George Greer gave Michael Schiavo permission to remove his wife’s feeding tube and let her die.

March 18th has been set as the date for the feeding tube to be removed. Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler had been fighting for nearly seven years to keep their daughter alive.

Judge Greer reportedly stated that, “The court is no longer comfortable granting stays simply upon the filings of new motions…There will always be 'new' issues."

Cardinal Renato Martino, the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace told Vatican radio yesterday that “If Mr. Schiavo legally succeeded in provoking the death of his wife, this would not only be tragic in itself, but it would be a serious step toward legally approving euthanasia in the United States."

Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, recently repudiated what he called “the cowardly exercise of raw power and hatred that is incarnate in the campaign of husband Michael Schiavo and his legal team to kill a precious child of God.”

The Schindlers have indicated that they will appeal Judge Greer’s decision to another court.

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‘Be instruments of mercy and communion’ Pope tells Czech group

Vatican City, Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - On Friday, the Vatican made public a message written from the Pope to Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, archbishop of Prague, Czech Republic, and to bishops and friends of the Focolare Movement.

On February 19th-25th, members of the Movement participated in a congress held at Castelgandolofo, the Pope’s summer residence. The congress explored the presence of the Risen Lord as a vital principle of the Church.

The Holy Father wrote in the February 19th letter that, "this providential initiative, falling appropriately in the context of the year dedicated to the Eucharist, will surely be a source of renewed apostolic vitality and missionary daring for everyone as they face the not inconsiderable number of social and religious challenges of our time.”

“Indeed,” he continued, “during these days of study and prayer it is your shared intention to discern the most appropriate ways to bear witness, in modern society, to the presence of the Risen Christ, the center of the Church."

The Pope went on, challenging members, "With ever-living ardor, [to] contemplate Christ in the mystery of the Eucharist. Following His example, be ready in all circumstances to make yourselves instruments of mercy and communion.”

The secret of pastoral success is the crucified and risen Lord, Whom we adore in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. As you well know, in order to be eloquent signs of His love and instigators of His peace in all environments, everyone is first of all asked to cultivate an intimate and constant familiarity with Him.

From intense participation in the Eucharist springs the spiritual energy needed to bring all projects of goodness to fruition."

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‘Abortion not a human right’, US tells UN conference

, Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - The United States is demanding that the United Nations adopt an amendment to a 10-year-old landmark platform on women’s rights, stating that women are not guaranteed the right to abortion, reported The Associated Press.

About 6,000 advocates from international women’s groups and representatives from more than 100 countries are meeting in New York for the next two weeks to assess how governments have implemented the U.N.’s 1995 action plan, designed to achieve the equality of the sexes. The meeting began Sunday.

The 150-page platform was designed at a U.N. women's conference in Beijing. At the end of that conference, delegates had asked governments to review laws that punish women for having abortions.

But at an informal closed-door meeting Feb. 24, before the current conference got under way, the United States voiced its concerns that the Beijing platform legalized the right to abortion as a human right.

The U.S. proposed an amendment Feb. 25 that would reaffirm the Beijing declaration, but only "while reaffirming that they do not create any new international human rights, and that they do not include the right to abortion."

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Lawyer argues divorce case should be transferred to Church tribunal

Cleveland, Ohio, Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - An Ohio woman’s fight to save her Catholic marriage from civil no-fault divorce took another important turn when Ave Maria School of Law professor Stephen Safranek submitted an argument to the state court.

His memorandum, submitted on behalf of the defendant, Marie Bai Macfarlane, argues that the divorce case must be transferred to a Catholic Ecclesiastic Tribunal for arbitration.

Safranek argues that Ohio law “favors arbitration agreements and seeks to uphold them.” He cited legal precedents in favor of arbitration, including cases where religious tribunals were the arbitrators.

“A failure of the courts to recognize the arbitration rights of the Catholic Church in this case not only violates the understanding Marie had when she entered upon this marriage, it necessarily entangles this court in issues relating to Catholic law, teaching, faith and belief,” wrote Safranek.

After nearly 14 years of marriage, Macfarlane’s husband, William “Bud” Macfarlane, filed for divorce. The former engineer and stay-at-home mother lost custody of her four children to her husband when she insisted on continuing to home-school them.

Her husband’s attorney, Tom Lafond, has argued that the Church should not be allowed to arbitrate the case.

“My husband and I didn’t agree to the minimal government marriage; we agreed to be under the authority of a third party, the ecclesiastic authority of the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law,” says Macfarlane.

“If either of us wants to separate, we are still obligated to follow the Church’s separation procedures, not the state’s minimum procedures,” she continued. “Ohio law ORC 3101.08 recognizes church's right to marry people 'in conformity with the rules of its church'.”

According to the Catholic Code of Canon law, a person can only seek a divorce from the state after the person has first obtained a separation decree from the Church court as well as their bishop’s authorization. The Church court makes determinations regarding financial support and children.

“I believe in the sanctity of marriage and I want my children home with me,” Macfarlane said.

The Cleveland Tribunal and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati rejected her petition to determine whether her husband has “a lawful reason to leave” the marriage. Her case is now before the highest court at the Vatican, the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

For Safranek’s memorandum, go to: http://www.marysadvocates.org/safranek.html

A petition urging the U.S. bishops to protect families from no-fault divorce is available at www.defendusfromdivorce.com.

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Pope still able to lead Church despite frailties, says Chicago cardinal

Chicago, Ill., Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II's current health should not affect his ability to lead the Catholic Church, Chicago archbishop Francis Cardinal George said Sunday in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.”

Cardinal George said the physical disabilities of the Pope are not a concern in his ability to govern. He said the Pope’s “ability to make the major decisions is still obviously very much with him.”

Cardinal George admitted that it “would create a different kind of problem” if the Pope were to fall into a coma.

"And there may be something that we're not yet aware of in Rome to take care of that situation," he added.

The 84-year-old pontiff underwent an emergency tracheotomy last week. It was the second time the Pope was admitted to the hospital for breathing problems in the last month.

Yesterday, he skipped his usual Sunday blessing for the first time in his pontificate due to his health. But he made a remarkable gesture by waving to the crowds from his hospital window.

Cardinal George told “Fox News Sunday” that he has begun to think and pray quietly about John Paul’s successor.

"As his health weakens, naturally it would be irresponsible not to think about that, at least in your own heart and in your own prayers," Cardinal George said. "But I think you have to start, not with people, but rather what are the challenges to the mission of the Church.”

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Canadian Catholics pulling for the Pope

Montreal, Canada, Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - According to a report by the Canadian Press, many in the “great white north” don’t believe Pope John Paul II should step down despite his health problems.

At Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal last week, nearly 200 people came to a noon-hour Mass to pray for the well being of the Holy Father.

Many present commented that the decision to resign, heavily speculated in the worldwide press lately, should be left solely to the Pope himself.

“It's not my decision. It would be his. It's between him and God”, commented one parishioner.

They join faithful around the world praying for the Pope, as well as many more in cities like Ottawa and Quebec City.

According to the Canadian Press, “Many worshippers at the Montreal service said John Paul II shouldn't be pressured to relinquish his position as the spiritual guide of the world's one billion Roman Catholics.”

Quebec City Archbishop Marc Cardinal Ouellet, said in Toronto last week that he's happy the Pope seems to be recovering well from Thursday’s tracheotomy surgery in Rome’s Gemelli hospital.

He commented that, "The Pope has said many times he would not resign, that he wanted to go until the end."

“After his 27 years of service to the church and to the world I think we should respect this decision of the Holy Father."

Vigils and prayer services are being held worldwide as faithful offer their prayers for the 84-year old Pontiff.

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Globalization Report stresses value and dignity of work

Vatican City, Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - The conclusions of a Report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization was presented Friday afternoon at the Lateran University in Rome.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council Justice and Peace, and Juan Somavia, director of the International Labor Office (ILO), presented the conclusions of the commission, which was established by the ILO in 2002. The Report was published in 2004.

A press release announcing the event at the, summarized the findings of the Report, which said, "The current functioning of the world economy suffers from deeply rooted and profound imbalances that are unacceptable from an ethical point of view and politically indefensible.”

“For the majority of men and women in the world”, it said, “globalization does not respond to their legitimate aspirations to have a dignified job and a better future for their children."

The communique also summarized Cardinal Martino's talk, in which he stressed the need to re-think policies and institutions of world governance.

He said that now is the moment to place the question of human work and its dignity in the front line of action for a just and fair globalization. He also stated that work is the key to the social question which today is a global question.

Work, when recognized and appreciated, is the path for individuals to get out of situations of absolute poverty in a sustainable way and is also the key for a change in societies and institutions. The possibility of work transforms a poor person from being a "problem" that has to be taken care of to becoming a "resource."

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Catholic-Jewish project to fight AIDS in Africa

, Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - This week, Catholic and Jewish leaders are expected to discuss how the two religious groups can work together to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa, reported Haaretz.

A number of Jewish scholars and rabbis and 27 bishops and cardinals from around the world will meet to discuss this first-ever project at an international religious conference, which opens today in New York. The World Jewish Congress is sponsoring the conference for the third year.

Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, who recently retired as archbishop of Paris, Walter Cardinal Kaspar of Germany, president of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress governing board are expected to speak at the opening session.

Bishops from China, India, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea and the Ukraine, and four cardinals from Africa will also attend.

There is an "unavoidable need for close cooperation between the two faiths on social issues," Singer told Haaretz.

The conference is expected to issue a closing statement that "the two faiths cannot remain passive in the face of the human tragedy taking place in Africa due to the spread of AIDS."

The conference comes on the 40th anniversary of the 1965 Church document, Nostre Aetate, which addresses Catholic-Jewish relations.

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Conference equips over 2000 for New Evangelization

Denver, Colo., Feb 28, 2005 (CNA) - Friday and Saturday, thousands of Catholics from all around the Colorado region descended on the Denver International Airport Holiday Inn for a chance to be rejuvenated in their faith.

The ‘Living the Catholic Faith’ Conference, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Denver brought together nearly 2,100 people from as far away as New Jersey and California for what Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called, “a conference to challenge your intellect and feed your soul.”

Cece Conlin, one of the event’s organizers told CNA that, “the goal of the conference was to reach Catholics from every walk of life.”

She said that the Archdiocese really wanted the conference to be about “just what the title says—‘Living the Catholic Faith.’”

As early as Saturday morning of the conference, Conlin noted that she and other organizers had already been receiving great feedback from participants.

“We really wanted to give people food”, she said. Something they could really use for living their faiths in their everyday lives.

For this reason she said, this year’s conference strove to address the issues in pop culture, and modern philosophies that Catholics face every day.

“This conference”, she said, “is about the power of Christian discipleship…and how to live that out.”

Talking the Talk

Beverly Ketchel, along with her husband George is a youth minister in a Denver-area parish and mother of two. She said that the conference is a “great opportunity to hear from the people in the Church.”

She said that while most people don’t get much interaction with people like Curtis Martin, Tim Gray and Ralph Martin, people who are doing amazing things in the Church, the conference is a great chance to “get in their faces and talk to them, and to ask them questions.”

She values the conference in many dimensions, “as a parent, as a youth minister, and for my personal faith…It’s a great hands-on opportunity.”

Workshops at the conference encompassed a broad spectrum of topics, from successfully catechizing children, to a discussion on the relationship of Christians and Islam, to how to confront today’s modern philosophies.

Dr. Jay Reyes, Vice President of the Colorado based FOCUS college ministry, and emcee for the weekend told the crowd that, “conferences are for encountering Christ so that we are different.”

He left them with this encouragement: “Let’s be different because the Holy Spirit has been here at this conference working in our hearts and minds.”

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