Vatican City, Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Vatican’s Press Office Spokesman told reporters today that, “the Pope is well, and his condition is improving, as I told you yesterday.”
Although an official medical bulletin on Pope John Paul's condition will not be released until Thursday, Navarro-Valls spoke briefly as he entered Gemelli Hospital this morning just before 9 a.m.
Following his daily visit with the Holy Father, about an hour later, Navarro-Valls informed gathered journalists that, "everything is normal."
He called the Pope's fifth night in the hospital "tranquil," and said that he "is a good patient and is continuing his voice exercises."
Navarro-Valls also said that, as he was leaving Pope John Paul's 10th floor hospital suite, "the Pope was preparing to celebrate Mass."
The Vatican noted that a brief visit by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was on the Pope’s agenda for today.
Denver, Colo., Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - In his column last week, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver called Clint Eastwood’s ‘Million Dollar Baby’, which took top honors at Sunday’s Oscar awards a compelling story, but one that took a morally dangerous wrong turn.
The Archbishop called the film “a great film about boxing and a bad film about moral reasoning.”
He noted that, “Advocates for the disabled have criticized the movie for being pro-euthanasia. Supporters have dismissed critics as right wing ‘culture cops.’”
The film has to do with a so-called “white trash girl” who desperately wants to become a boxer. Eastwood eventually takes her under his wing and in a knockout blow during a fight, she is paralyzed and lives off of a respirator.
Here, the Archbishop says, is where the film takes a wrong turn. The boxer (played by actress Hillary Swank) asks Eastwood to help her die and after an extensive struggle and counsel from a priest friend who tells him not to do it, he pulls the plug on Swank.While Archbishop Chaput points out that “it’s hard to believe that Eastwood intended this film as ‘pro-euthanasia propaganda’”, as some critics have called it, “the effect may be the same.”
Chaput notes that, “by equating murder and mercy, [Eastwood] locks his characters into hopelessness. He makes a profoundly evil act seem noble. The tragedy in this otherwise arresting movie is what it could have been — and isn’t.”
Vatican City, Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - The unplanned appearance of Pope John Paul II at his hospital window Sunday was a “surprise” and a moment that was “very emotional for everyone,” said Vatican spokesperson Joaquin Navarro Valls.
On Sunday, the Pope appeared for about two minutes at his window on the 10th floor of Gemelli Hospital, from which he gave his blessing to the people who had gathered in front of the hospital.
“It was a surprise for everyone. It was an action that the Pope had decided upon Sunday morning,” Navarro Valls said Monday during an interview on Vatican Radio.
"In fact, he knew that several people had gathered on the hospital grounds beneath his room,” he continued.
“Since he got up to spend a few hours in his chair, he decided that he wanted to make an appearance at the window,” said Navarro Valls.
Rome, Italy, Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - The President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, said this week “the word retirement is not part of the Holy Father’s vocabulary” and that therefore he would continue to lead the Church as long as God wills it.
Speaking to the Italian daily “La Repubblica,” the Mexican cardinal said the Pope “will continue ahead as long as God wills it, as he reiterated with the Totus tuus (Totally Yours), which leaves no doubt.”
According to the cardinal, John Paul II will continue leading the Church “because he possesses an incredible strength, a will that it is out of the ordinary and extraordinary lucidity.”
“Beyond his illnesses and his health problems, the Holy Father has the spirit of a twenty year-old man,” he added.
Regarding the possibility of having a silent Pope, Cardinal Lozano said that “even without speaking, the Pope will lead the Church.” It’s not a problem “because there are so many ways to communicate and he can write as he is doing now at this time,” the cardinal noted.
Cardinal Lozano also revealed that he was surprised at the Pope’s positive reaction to his latest health problems and that news coming out of Rome is optimistic. “To see how he is reacting makes us think optimistically about his future and that of the Church,” he noted.
At the same time, the cardinal said it would not be prudent to “let him leave the hospital too quickly.” “During this stage of illness, they must be more prudent and in less of a hurry,” he said, referring to the Pope’s previous hospitalization from February 1-11.
Washington D.C., Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - Concerned Women for America (CWA) applauds Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline for seeking to defend victims of child rape.
In an effort to do so, Kline has requested abortion clinic records to determine potential victims. However, abortionists are fighting Kline on this request, arguing on the right to privacy.
"Attorney General Kline's request for the records is a bold attempt to prosecute sexual predators of minor girls," said Wendy Wright, CWA's senior policy director. "Sexual predators who force girls to undergo abortions in order to cover up the evidence of their criminal activity too often evade the law, thanks to abortion clinics that are disguising criminal activity as a privacy issue.
“It is not unheard of for medical records to be attained in criminal investigations. It happens with Medicaid fraud," she pointed out.
According to Kansas public documents, 78 Kansas children were reported as victims of some form of sexual abuse in 2003.
"All health and service entities that come in contact with potential abuse of minors, sexual or physical, are required to report such abuse to investigating agencies; this is for the protection of those who cannot protect themselves and to expose those who prey upon them," said Judy Smith, CWA of Kansas state director, who leads the 5,540-member state organization.
, Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic League president William Donohue says Newsweek should “pull the plug” on columnist Christopher Dickey after he suggested in an article that Pope John Paul II continues to impose his will on the Catholic Church by his “stubborn” will to live.
Dickey’s article in the “Periscope” section of the March 7 edition of Newsweek is titled “He Has Willpower—But No ‘Living Will.’”
In it, Dickey states: “Even as the aged pope’s body shuts down in the late stages of Parkinson’s disease, his will to live—and to impose his will on the Roman Catholic faithful—remains as stubborn as ever.” He later writes that if the Pope were to slip into a coma, “Could anyone—would anyone—pull the plug?”
“When presidents like Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt continue in office despite poor health, they are regarded as courageous, even heroic,” Donohue said, pointing out the contradictions. “What is really astonishing—and maybe Dickey could address this—is the extent to which this dictatorial pope is loved the world over.
Washington D.C., Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - Douglas R. Scott, president of Life Decisions International, is calling on all Americans to refrain from being swayed by pro-euthanasia rhetoric in the Terri Schindler Schiavo case and to keep in mind the facts.
"Terri is not terminally ill. She is not dying. She is not in pain. Terri merely needs nutrition and hydration, just as all of us do," Scott said. "She has been targeted for death simply because the delivery means is directly into a vein, which is deemed 'artificial.' Some people use a spoon, some a baby bottle, some an IV, but the goal is the same."
While some doctors have claimed that Terri is in a "persistent vegetative state" and will never recover, Scott pointed out that “qualified medical personnel often disagree on a 'persistent vegetative state' diagnosis.”
The pro-life advocate said he can recall many cases where doctors have said a person will never recover and they turned out to be wrong.
"It is really not the least bit important whether Terri is in a 'persistent vegetative state' or whether she will eventually recover from her condition," Scott said. "Terri's very right to live can't be dependent upon her abilities or condition."
"The Terri Schindler Schiavo case is taking us down a completely new road in the how we deal with those who cannot speak or care for themselves," Scott said. "Once we go down that new road, it will be very difficult to turn back. And all of mankind will pay the price."
Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, has claimed that Terri once said she would not want to live in such a condition. But Scott argues that if Terri had felt strongly about that, her wishes would have been put in writing.
Scott noted that the pro-euthanasia movement had originally claimed that they were working on behalf of those who were terminally ill, in excruciating pain, a few month’s away from death and had given written consent and discussed the decision over a long period of time with family, friends and medical professionals.
But euthanasia advocates are now saying it would be more human to give Terri a lethal injection.
"This shows the real goal of the pro-euthanasia movement," Scott said. "Advocates of euthanasia would love to see Terri die—not out of concern for her but only to further their cause."
Clearwater, Fla., Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - Michael Schiavo’s lawyer, George Felos, told the Florida Baptist Witness that his client “deeply loves Terri” and “simply is not gong to walk away from that promise he made to [her] when she said, ‘Honey, don’t keep me alive like that.’”
Schiavo has been cohabitating openly with his fiancé, Jodi Centonze, since 1995. The couple now have two children together.
Asked about the promise he made when Michael and Terri exchanged wedding vows in 1986, Felos said it is “subjective opinion” and “cruel-hearted” to think Schiavo walked away from his wedding vows.
“I think it’s hard-hearted to say to somebody whose spouse has Alzheimer’s, or whose spouse has had some catastrophic accident, that they are consigned to a life of loneliness and then can’t form other relationships,” Felos said. “That’s a moral judgment and, you know, I think people have different views on it.”
Christian ethicist C. Ben Mitchell, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago, disagrees.
Mitchell told the Witness that describing “a romantic affair that results in two children while one is married to another person [as] ‘forming other relationships’ is like calling premeditated murder ‘morally problematic.’”
“The vow to love another person in the covenant of marriage neither includes violating the covenant through adultery nor withdrawing the basic necessities of life — like food and water — when maintaining them might allow the spouse to recover,” Mitchell continued. “In this case, I have to trust the integrity and purity of Terri's parents' inclinations above Mr. Shiavo's.”
The Witness interviewed Tom Broderson, a speech pathologist, who befriended Terri. He visited her and offered some rehabilitation therapy until two years ago, when he was no longer permitted to visit after a visitation mix-up at the Woodside Hospice Hospital where she is staying.
Broderson witnessed to Terri’s responsiveness and ability to learn quickly. “She had really good vocal control,” he said.
Outside the hospice, Dominique, who declined to give her last name, told the Witness that the United States is in danger of becoming like her native Poland, where she said euthanasia has gained a strong following.
“It’s terrible. This should not happen,” the disabled protester said as she balanced a sign on her electric wheelchair. “She’s a human being and she’s created by God and only God can take her when it is right.”
A Florida judge has scheduled the removal of Terri’s feeding tube for March 18 at 1 p.m. ET, pending any appellate decisions.
Vatican City, Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - This morning, an international study seminar on the human rights of prisoners began at the Vatican.
The event is being organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, along with the International Commission of Catholic Prison Ministries (ICCPPC). An estimated 80 experts, scholars and chaplains from over 20 countries and five continents are reported to be in attendance.
Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council, gave the opening remarks of the meeting this morning. He was followed by a report from Ugo Vetere, director of the Treaty Affairs Division of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, on the theme "Respecting the Human Rights of Prisoners: A Global Challenge."
Today’s session closed with a round table discussion on the question "Are the Human Rights of Prisoners at Risk?"
The group heard comments from, among others, Silvia Casale, president of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), Jean-Paul Laborde, director of the U.N. Terror Prevention Sector in Vienna, and Baroness Vivien Stern, secretary general of Penal Reform International.
Tomorrow, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, will speak on the theme, "Respecting the Dignity of Every Human Being: Discovering the Face of Christ in Every Human Being."
Also tomorrow, Christian Kuhn, president of ICCPPC, is scheduled to talk on "Prison Ministry: The Mission of the Church." A second round table will then take place with participation by workers in prison ministry from five countries. The seminar will conclude with a Mass to be held in Rome's Regina Coeli prison.
Vatican City, Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - Today, the Vatican made public an address given by Archbishop Juliusz Janusz, head of the Holy See delegation to the 14th Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Regional and Local Government.
The meeting was held in Budapest, Hungary, on February 24 and 25, and the Archbishop’s talk was given in English.
In his address, Archbishop Janusz, apostolic nuncio to Hungary, affirmed that the "reason that public administration exists ... is to serve the human being at every level of a State in order to build a more free and responsible society."
"Good local and regional governance," the archbishop continued, "is indeed the 'conditio sine qua non' for local and regional authorities to faithfully keep to their mission of serving the common good of the communities.”
He said that, “This local and regional governance, in order to be good, requires a democratic form of government," which should promote "the participation in public life of all people living within the community, without neglecting the stranger among them.
“Adequate information”, he pointed out, “is, in fact, among the principal instruments of democratic participation."
Archbishop Janusz also highlighted the fact that "good governance at a local and regional level implies respect for the principle of subsidiarity," which "does not exclude the necessity of solidarity" in other words, "without overlooking the broader interests and the possible needs of less influential sectors of society."
"A good government," the archbishop concluded, "is that government in which political authorities do not forget or underestimate the moral dimension of political representation.”
Indeed, political corruption causes a growing distrust with respect to public institutions, bringing about a progressive disaffection in the citizens with regard to politics and its representatives, with a resulting weakening of institutions. At any level - national, regional, local - political power shall be put into practice as a service to the dignity and rights of the human person."
Vatican City, Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - Today, the Vatican announced Pope John Paul II new general prayer and mission intentions for this month.
They said that his March prayer intention is, "That governments of every nation, in their policies and development plans, should always take account of the poor, emarginated and oppressed."
The Pope’s new mission intention for the month is, "That each individual Church should be aware of the ever greater urgency of preparing holy Christians, capable of confronting challenges to the new evangelization."
Miami, Fla., Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - US officials are expected to present an official apology to Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana, Cuba, after the Vatican voiced concern over the cardinal’s detention by authorities at Miami International Airport.
According to El Nuevo Herald, Cardinal Ortega was questioned about the reasons for his visit and his political views on Fidel Castro's government. When he objected to a search of his luggage, the newspaper reported, Ortega was threatened with possible deportation.
The Herald added that US officials were concerned over the weekend about the possible repercussions of the incident.
Cardinal Ortega was eventually granted a 30-day visa and allowed to leave the airport.
Similar incidents have occurred in the past at Miami’s airport. In April of last year, Spanish Prince Felipe de Borbon and his girlfriend had their luggage searched despite their diplomatic passports and the protests of their security detail.
Another incident occurred on January 14 of this year. The Chancellor of Argentina, Rafael Bielsa, was detained in Miami after complaining about the seven-hour long delay of his flight from New York to Miami. According to Argentinean consul Gregorio Dupont, the questioning Bielsa was subjected to was characterized by “an ignorance of diplomatic protocol and unusual rudeness.”
In both cases US officials issued apologies.
Denver, Colo., Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - John Ellis and the Christian rock band Tree 63 traveled all the way from South Africa to join nearly 5,000 Colorado area youth who packed the Denver Coliseum for massive youth rally sponsored by the Denver-based Pure by Choice ministry.
According to Pure by Choice, the group is a “network of faith based partners” who work with young people around Colorado to “advance the counter cultural purity revolution honoring God’s plan for life, love and healthy relationships by promoting a lifestyle of sexual purity.”
A jetlagged Ellis spoke with CNA Sunday night and shared a little about what makes the band’s performance at this year’s Pure by Choice rally so special.
A new parent himself, Ellis came from what he calls “an unchurched, secular music background”, and became a Christian at age 23. Because of this, he is acutely aware of the kinds of pressure that today’s teens face.
“Coming out of a secular background, I’d already committed every carnal sin”, he quips. But he also believes that it’s precisely this understanding that puts “weight behind his message”, and allows him to minister more successfully at events like Pure by Choice.
Christian speaker and comedian Keith Deltano, the nights keynote speaker, told CNA that he realized some time ago that his comedy “could be used as a tool other than just making people laugh.”
He stressed to the youth Sunday night that the Church is always “portrayed as being anti-sex…We’re not anti-sex.” He added that there is a proper time and place for sex in God’s plan, namely, marriage.
The coliseum erupted into wild cheers as Deltano yelled, “Virginity rocks!” and “God’s plan is sexy!”Choosing purity
Near the end of the night, thousands of young people, donning purity rings and white Lance Armstrong-like bracelets, stood and made a public pledge to live the virtue of chastity.
Led by a priest and local pastor, the youth were told that, “if God isn’t first in your life, then this pledge isn’t possible.”
Briana Agar, who works with high school youth in Boulder, called the event “a great opportunity for youth to come together and be encouraged by one another.”
“I like that they’re encouraging them not to sell out to cheap attention gained by sex”, she added.
Indeed, finding the right way to teach youth the true Christian meaning of sexuality has long confounded parents and youth leaders alike.
But in a culture saturated by sexual images and temptation, many are grateful that Pure by Choice is taking on the challenge.
George Ketchel, a Denver area youth minister, referring to the Holy Father’s unprecedented ministry to the world’s youth, said that perhaps the surest way we’ve seen to preach the real meaning of life and sexuality “is an 84-year old man saying ‘I love you.’”
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, reaffirmed this week that the Church does not discriminate against homosexual persons but that they do not belong in seminaries.
The cardinal explained, “I understand we must have a healthy, intelligent, and manly clergy that is neither effeminate nor womanly,” and he recalled that homosexuality is a disorder that can be corrected and managed.
Likewise the cardinal also emphasized the need to form “serious men with all of the attributes that God has given them so that they may exercise their ministry with dignity.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 1, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, said this week discrimination and abuse against women are actions contrary to God’s plan and will always be denounced by the Church.
During Mass at the Archdiocesan cathedral, Cardinal Rivera called sterilization and abortion, which principally leave as victims poor and marginalized women, “abominable” acts.
He said the Church is concerned about the current situation of women, who are frequently the objects of attacks on their nature and mission through reproductive health programs and other initiatives that lack a comprehensive vision of women.
Cardinal Rivera said today’s new forms of marginalizing women, fostered by a consumerist and hedonist society, cannot be accepted by any Catholic, since they transform women into mere objects of consumption.
The Church, he noted, offers women a chance to recover their dignity and to participate in the salvation of humanity. He expressed regret that women are used as instruments of death through abortion.
Women should be active participants in the life and mission of the Church, he said, and their “wisdom and cooperation” manifested in leadership roles in society should be recognized.