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Archive of March 8, 2005

Pro-family group, scientists applaud UN cloning ban

, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - In a statement today, Concerned Women for America (CWA) praised a United Nations declaration, passed this morning, which condemns all forms of human cloning.

84 countries, including the U.S. voted in support of the declaration, which calls the practice of human cloning “incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life."

A reported 34 countries voted against the resolution while 37 countries abstained.

The Declaration was initiated by delegates from Honduras who also called on nations to “prevent the exploitation of women”, citing that the act of cloning requires the harvesting of eggs from women.

Cindy Wright, CWA’s senior policy director commented that, "This Declaration sets an international standard that places human dignity and life as a priority. Even scientists should be bound by ethics."

According to CWA, many delegates, especially those from poor or developing countries “expressed concern that poor women would be targeted to extract the vast numbers of eggs that would be needed, inevitably inflicting painful, dangerous and invasive procedures on vulnerable women.”

The declaration ends nearly three years of heated U.N. deadlock on the issue.

Wright added that, "Belgium, the United Kingdom, Singapore and other countries that hope to profit from cloning humans refused to agree to ban all forms of cloning”, but that “these pro-cloning countries lost support as other countries became aware it would violate the human rights of cloned embryos” as well as women who would be used to harvest the eggs required.

CWA added that the declaration includes a proposal “calling for wealthier nations to direct attention and funding to pressing medical issues such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.”

It also “condemns all applications of any genetic engineering techniques that threaten human dignity”.

Meanwhile, noted scientists and ethicists gathered for the "Global State of Stem Cells and Cloning" conference in Rome broke into spontaneous applause at the announcement that the UN passed a political declaration banning human cloning by a nearly three-to-one margin (84 for; 34 against; 37 abstentions).

Two members of the President's Council on Bioethics attending the conference in Rome praised the decision.

Dr. Alfonso Gomez-Lobo of Georgetown University said, "I am very happy to hear the outcome of this vote because it seems to me that human cloning would be passing a barrier that would be detrimental for humanity because in the name of our imposing a genome on other human beings we would be violating their dignity."

Council member and Stanford professor Dr. William Hurlbut also approved the vote. "I applaud this important declaration. These are truly species issues. We need a global standard on which to ground our biotechnology -- one that respects human dignity and opens positive prospects of scientific developments," he said.

Noted author and ethicist Wesley J. Smith said, "The UN has powerfully demonstrated that naked science is not the be-all and end-all of the pursuit of human progress. Morality matters too. The task for us now is to work together as a world community to develop a thriving and moral biotechnology sector that both alleviates human suffering and remains within proper ethical boundaries."

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Vatican announces Pope will not preside at Holy Week celebrations

Vatican City, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - Today the Vatican announced the schedule of liturgical events for Holy Week. The calendar was released by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

While it is hoped that he will be back in the Vatican in time for Holy Week, the Holy See also announced that Pope John Paul II is not scheduled to be part of the week’s events. Various cardinals however, will preside at the liturgies. 

The schedule of events, as provided by the Vatican, is as follows:

SUNDAY, March 20: Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, 20th World Youth Day on the theme "We have come to adore Him." The celebration will begin at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square with the blessing of palms and olive branches.

It will be presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome. This will be followed by a procession and the celebration of the Mass of the Lord's Passion.
 
THURSDAY, March 24: Holy Thursday. The celebration will take place in St. Peter's Basilica at 9:30 a.m. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, will preside at the concelebration of the Chrism Mass and blessing of the holy oils along with cardinals, bishops, and diocesan and religious priests present in Rome as a sign of the close union between the pastor of the universal Church and his brothers in the priestly ministry.

The Easter Triduum of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection will begin in St. Peter's Basilica at 5:30 p.m. with the Mass of Our Lord's Last Supper. Cardinals, bishops and priests are invited to concelebrate Mass, which will be presided by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

After the homily, the rite of the washing of the feet will take place. During this rite, those present will be invited to give alms for the people of Venezuela, hit by devastating floods in the month of February. The sum collected will be given to the Holy Father.

At the end of the celebration the Blessed Sacrament will be transferred to the chapel of reposition.
 
FRIDAY, March 25: Good Friday. Liturgy will take place in St. Peter's Basilica at 5 p.m. Cardinal James Francis Stafford, major penitentiary, will preside at the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord.

The celebration will be divided into three moments: Liturgy of the Word, the adoration of the Cross, and Eucharistic communion. The Stations of the Cross will take place at the Colosseum at 9:15 p.m. After the traditional 14 stations, the ceremony will conclude on Rome's Palatine hill.
 
SATURDAY, March 26: At 8 p.m. The Easter Vigil will be presided over by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and will begin with the blessing of the new fire in the atrium of St. Peter's Basilica.

After the entrance procession with the Easter candle and the singing of the "Exsultet," the liturgies of the Word, Baptism and the Eucharist, will be concelebrated by gathered cardinals.
 
SUNDAY, March 27: Easter Sunday. At 10:30 a.m. Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square. After the celebration, at midday, the Holy Father will impart the "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and the world") blessing. 

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Pope's perseverance inspires faithful in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pa., Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - Through his physical weakness and his infirmities, Pope John Paul II continues to inspire Catholics to persevere in the face of pain and to teach them that all suffering can draw them closer to Christ.

"Every human form of pain contains in itself a divine promise of salvation and joy," the Pope said in Sunday’s message. "I would like that this message of comfort and hope reaches everyone, especially those going through difficult moments, and who suffer in body and spirit."

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week that Vatican officials say the Pope considers this phase in his papal teaching to be just as important as his days traveling the globe. Rather than hide his ailments, as past popes have done, he is displaying them and challenging society and its negative views of age and sickness.

The also Inquirer interviewed aging members of Philadelphia’s Polish community and reported that many found a sense of fellowship and solidarity with the suffering Pope.

Mary Romanowski, 90, has severe arthritis. The daughter of the Polish-speaking woman said her mother is strengthened by the Pope’s example.

"Whenever she feels worse, because she has good days and bad days, she always thinks about him because he's carrying his cross, and she wants to carry the cross of Christ with him," Theresa Romanowski said, translating for her mother. "She wishes she could take his pain more for herself.”

The Pope also inspires Ed Daniel, a churchgoing Catholic, who limps from a bad hip.

"Just like Christ died on the cross for us, he is doing the same thing," said the 70-year-old volunteer custodian at the Polish American Cultural Center in Society Hill. "It has a big meaning for us because we've all got to suffer one way or another."

Michael Blichasz, president of the Polish American Cultural Center, told the newspaper that many of the elderly residents at the center "say they are praying for him [the Pope] to stay where he is" and have stable health.

"I think people were taught a lesson by this, that he hasn't given up, so they shouldn't give up, either."

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Chicago columnist praises Catholic schools, makes appeal to save them

Chicago, Ill., Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - Chicago Sun-Times columnist Suzanne Ontiveros says she considers herself and her son blessed to have received a Catholic school education and laments the news that another 23 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago are slated for closure at the end of the school year.

“It's awful watching the slow demise of a wonderful education system,” she wrote in her column last week. But she is hoping that some marketing whiz will step up to the plate and sell the benefits of the Catholic education system to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

“The curriculum doesn't have the bells and whistles you see at the prestigious private schools that have waiting lists every year,” she conceded. But it has “so many often-overlooked little things come together to make a big difference in how Catholic school children come out as citizens of our world.”

When it comes to lifelong learning and success in higher education, Catholic schools know how to deliver, she said.

“Oh sure, these schools, for the most part, might not have fancy labs, but the curriculum is such that students learn to think and, more important, how to study.”

Ontiveros said the value of Catholic schools is also found in its community service programs that emphasize responsible citizenship and giving to those in need.

“It is within these much-used institutions built largely by those unsung heroes, the nuns, that children learn to give of themselves. They learn to be a responsible part of a community,” she wrote.

The archdiocese has planned a campaign in an effort to persuade students from the closing schools to choose another Catholic school. Statistics show that 73 percent of students go to a non-Catholic school once their Catholic school closes.

“I hope some marketing whiz -- a product of our Catholic schools, perhaps? -- steps up to create a program to sell the Chicago Catholic schools to not only those students but to others, too,” Ontiveros said. “Someone needs to showcase the Catholic schools for the priceless gems they truly are.”

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National Right to Life pushing for bill to save Schiavo

Washington D.C., Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - The National Right to Life (NRTL) is pushing for a new bill, which, if passed, could save brain damaged Terri Schiavo’s life.

According to the text of the bill, The Incapacitated Persons Legal Protection Act of 2005, expected to be introduced by Florida Representative Dave Weldon today, seeks “to provide the protections of habeas corpus for certain individuals whose life support may be withdrawn pursuant to court order, and for other purposes.”

According to the NRTL, “’Habeas Corpus’…is a special procedure…by which a court can review whether someone is being unlawfully deprived of liberty.” 

If enacted, the bill will give Terri’s family access to a federal court to argue for their daughter’s life.

Florida judge George Greer ruled February 25th in favor of Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, who has been trying for years remove the feeding tube, which gives food and hydration to his wife.

Since the 25th, Terri’s parents, along with many pro-lifers have been racing the March 18th removal date trying to find a way to save her life.

Lori Kehoe, Congressional liaison for the NRTL, who spoke to CNA this morning, said that for the bill to be successful, it must pass the House and Senate in the next two weeks, which, she added is a “mind blowing speed” for a bill.

Kehoe pointed out that while commonly used by prisoners on death row, ‘Habeas Corpus’ has been used outside of that context many times before. “It’s often used by people who have a custody issue”, she said.

“Rightly”, she said, “we do this on behalf of criminals, but here is a woman who simply has a disability; she has committed no crime.”

Kehoe also stated that the Right to Life is calling on “all citizens to immediately contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives and urge them to support Representative Weldon's bill to amend the Habeas Corpus Act to allow its use when a state court orders denial of food or fluids in cases like Terri's."

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Many women suffering new threats to dignity, says Vatican delegate to U.N.

Vatican City, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican spoke out yesterday to the U.N. during an international address on the status of women. Professor Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, spoke to the Economic and Social Council Commission on the Status of Women in the follow-up to the Fourth World Conference on Women.

The previous conference was held in Beijing in September 1995 and Professor Glendon was the head of the Holy See’s delegation there.
 
"In 2005," she noted, "the United Nations will mark the anniversaries of five historic moments when the family of nations gave encouragement and impetus to women on their quest for recognition of their equal rights and dignity.”

“The first and most consequential of these moments”, she said, “was in the spring of 1945 when the founders of the U.N. astonished many by proclaiming their 'faith...in the dignity and worth of the human person' and 'in the equal rights of men and women'."

This was followed, she added, by four U.N. conferences on women including those in Mexico City, Copenhagen, Nairobi and Beijing.
 
Noting the many gains for women, Glendon pointed out that many are suffering "new forms of poverty" and "new threats to human life and dignity."

The Beijing Platform, Prof. Glendon noted, "proclaimed that 'the key to moving women and their families out of poverty is education'. ... The Holy See, with its longstanding dedication to educating women and girls, notes with concern, therefore, that improvements on this front have been slow."
 
Professor Glendon noted that another problem is "the changing age structure of the world's populations. The combination of greater longevity, falling birth-rates, rising costs of health care, and shortage of care-takers is already giving rise to tensions between younger and older generations."

"In its Final Statement at the Beijing Conference," she said, "the Holy See expressed the fear that the sections of the Beijing documents dealing with women in poverty would remain empty promises unless backed up by well-thought-out programs and financial commitments.”

Today, with growing disparities of wealth and opportunity, we are obliged to raise that concern again."
 
While noting that humanity has the means to defeat hunger and poverty, she pointed out that Pope John Paul has said, "what is needed is a vast moral mobilization of public opinion, especially in those countries enjoying a sufficient or even prosperous standard of living."  

In her closing statements, Glendon noted that "harmonizing women's aspirations for fuller participation in social and economic life with their roles in family life", can be solved by women themselves, but not "without certain major ... changes in society. .... Policy makers must attend more closely to women's own accounts of what is important to them, rather than to special interest groups."

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Faith and reason do not contradict each other, says Cardinal Poupard

Vatican City, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, presented a talk showing that “faith and reason cannot contradict each other since both seek to understand the truth about nature, human nature, and God, the author of all created reality."

The address, entitled, "Hope and Anguish: the Church's Involvement with Science," was presented during a one-day conference on "Science, Faith and Culture," jointly organized by the pontifical council and by Blackfriars Hall of Oxford University in England.   

Cardinal Poupard said in his talk that, "Today, cultural trends marked by relativism, indifference, irrationalism and ignorance continue to impede the human search for truth.”

He continued, saying that, “The Church's teaching that reason is at the heart of every human act has come to the aid of science, and science provides insights to further understand Revelation."
 
The cardinal concluded by affirming that "a part of the Church's hope is in science, and a part of science's current anguish finds resolution in the Church's humanistic teaching."

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Moral values inseparable from true democracy, says Cardianl Martino

Vatican City, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, the Vatican released the text of a speech given recently by Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the theme, “Builders of Democracy.”

The cardinal’s talk was delivered in the Angolan capital of Luanda on March 5 at the end of the Second 'Pro Pace' Congress.

The congress, which was organized by the Church in Angola and took place at Luanda's Catholic University, concluded with a Eucharistic concelebration, presided over by the cardinal.
 
In his speech, Cardinal Martino made reference to long-established democracies and to those just emerging from "aggressive systems, tribal domination, and colonial rule."

He noted that the latter must be careful not to fall prey to the type of "moral and institutional crisis that historical democracies are going through," including "absolute individualism, materialism, hedonism, ethical indifference and the prevalence of acquisitive and competitive economic logic."
 
He also observed that, "ethical relativism is one of the greatest risks for current democracies" because it denies "objective and universal criteria for establishing the basis for and correct hierarchy of values."

The council president likewise affirmed the indispensable relationship between moral values and political life in building true democracy.

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Hearing begins on law requiring parental notification for teen abortions

Washington D.C., Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - A spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops applauds the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee for beginning hearings on the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, March 3.

The act would require abortion doctors to notify parents before doing abortions on teenaged girls from out-of-state unless parental involvement or judicial authorization under the girl's home state law has been satisfied.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R—Fl.) introduced the bill, with 105 original cosponsors.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans believe parents should be involved in abortion decisions involving their teenaged daughters,” said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., director of planning and information for the USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

“It is wrong to take a child away from her parents to another state for a secret abortion, yet abortion advocates support this practice and admit that it happens all the time,” she said.

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New Coadjutor of Burlington praised by pro-life groups

Burlington, Vt., Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - Vermont’s upcoming coadjutor bishop has a strong pro-life track record and is known to be an advocate for the poor. Msgr. Salvatore R. Matano will be ordained a bishop April 19 and serve as coadjutor to Bishop Kenneth A. Angell.

He is likely to succeed Bishop Angell, who is expected to resign in August when he turns 75, according to canon law.

As former co-chancellor and vicar general of the Diocese of Providence, Msgr. Matano had engaged in a public debate in the 1980s with Mary Ann Sorrentino, the then-executive director of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island.

Sorrentino had released a letter she had received from Msgr. Matano advising her that she had excommunicated herself from the Catholic Church because of her "direct involvement" with abortion.

"To be a bishop means to take the words of Jesus very seriously, 'Pick up your cross and follow me,' " the 58-year-old monsignor said to a press conference in Burlington hours after his nomination as coadjutor bishop was made last week.

"There are many challenges today, which face the community of believers in the Catholic Church. The bishop is looked to for guidance," he said.

Vermont is sometimes been considered a tough assignment for pro-life, pro-family bishops. Despite protests and rallies led by Bishop Angell, Vermont became the first state in the country to approve civil unions for same-sex couples.

The Journal also reported that when Bishop Angell sought to stop girls from being altar servers, since the Vatican had not approved it, parishioners around the state organized a boycott of church collections.

Vermont has about 150,000 Catholics.

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Pro-lifers insist bishops’ support of Comic Relief is support for abortion

Westminster, Colo., Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic bishops of England and Wales issued a statement yesterday stating that Catholics can support the charity Comic Relief, secure in the fact that the charity does not support pro-abortion organizations.

But the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) says its research proves otherwise.

"While Comic Relief claims that its funds are not used to support abortions, and they have even offered to hand over their books to the Catholic bishops in support of their claim, the fact is that Comic Relief allocated an enormous grant of over a quarter of million pounds to the strongly pro-abortion organization Reproductive Health Alliance Europe in the year 2001-2002,” said SPUC's national director John Smeaton in a press release yesterday.

The bishops’ statement followed reports that three Catholic schools in the Diocese of Menevia in south Wales would not be supporting the Red Nose Day fundraiser March 11 because of the alleged abortion link.

"I want to reassure parishioners that they can give money to Comic Relief without worrying that any funds would be given to support something contrary to Catholic teaching," said the Bishop Mark Jabale of Menevia.

Smeaton said his organization was very disappointed and concerned by the bishops’ statements, especially given the facts they found.

The SPUC stated that the Web site for the Research Action and Information Network for the Bodily Integrity of Women describes Reproductive Health Alliance Europe—which was funded by Comic Relief—as an organization “established to facilitate access to and improve the quality of reproductive health care by supporting service providers, involving communities, informing policy makers and assisting program managers.”

“Reproductive health care” is the common term used in reference to abortion.

The pro-life group also found that the Wallace Global Fund Web gave Reproductive Health Alliance Europe $50,000 for “Support for An International Consortium on Medical Abortion, an effort to promote and support the use of pharmacological abortifacients (e.g. mifepristone/misprostol and misoprostol alone) in developing countries.”

The Guardian reported that south Wales schools were originally advised to contribute to the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod) rather than Comic Relief. But Cafod is under fire from the Catholic Action Group for its ABC policy ("abstain, be faithful, use a condom") in fighting HIV.

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“Three types of blindness” regarding the family denounces Cardinal Rivera

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - During his Sunday homily at the archdiocesan cathedral, the Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, referred to the Week of the Family—which will be celebrated in Mexico on March 19-25—noting that, “The family needs to be celebrated and promoted, as we find ourselves in a world that leaves new generations blind and does not let them see the marvel of God’s plan.”

The cardinal explained that “the new generations do not have clear understanding of the family, they have begun to give way to individualism and they are blind when it comes to forming their own family.”

Referring to this past Sunday’s gospel, the cardinal noted that, “We can say there are three types of blindness regarding the family: those who cannot see, those who are afraid to see, and those who do not want to see.”

“St. John speaks to us of a man born blind and he could be the archetype of those men and women who live their lives without a clear understanding of the family.  They do not have much blame; sadly they have grown up in broken homes that do nothing to help understand the truth about the family,” Cardinal Rivera stated, adding that “those who live like this are men and women in need of a Redemptor who can reach their hearts and touch the eyes of the soul to make them discover true love.”
 
Likewise, “There are other blind people, represented by the parents of the man born blind, those who are afraid to commit to a family that walks in the truth.  They are afraid because it would mean going against the trends of the world.  They are afraid because it would mean sacrifice, self-denial and forgiveness, because it would mean leaving aside the ideas that have made us comfortable up to now.”
 
”Out of a false love of peace, these blind people allow there to be more and more laws that are destructive to the family,” he added.

Last, he concluded, “is the third type of blindness.  These are people who do not want to see, who think they are enlightened by the false light of apparent progress, those who push and push for society to do away with its values so that the family will be increasingly weaker and unstructured.”

”They are the ones who deny the value of the nuclear family in society, who preach against discrimination, and yet they are the first to discriminate against those who do not agree with them.  They are the ones who, under the banner of tolerance, make themselves dictators of everyone else and impose their own ways of behaving on others; they are the ones history proves are destroyers and manipulators of the human person and the family,” the cardinal said.

To the question, “Who can deliver us from blindness?” the cardinal responded, “Only Christ.  He is the light of the world, the light that illuminates all men and women.  He is the light of families.  He can deliver the family from the darkness that grips it and fill each family with the fruits of the light.  Christ can deliver us from blindness, and for that we must draw close to Him.  We can do that through the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the place where the Lord encounters our families, consoles them, nourishes them and supports them,” he stated.

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Costa Rica lone voice in Latin America against Beijing abortion statement

, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - Costa Rica’s delegate to the UN said this weekend that contrary to the vast majority of delegations from Latin American countries, Costa Rica did speak out in support of life at the recent UN meeting on the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.

The representative of Costa Rica said her country was “fully committed to promoting women’s rights” as “an indispensable element to achieving sustainable human development and in keeping with its obligation under the Women’s Convention.”  She noted that all international commitments must be viewed in the context of human rights in Costa Rica and its “clear belief in the primacy and inviolability of the right to life.”

Therefore, in keeping with the reservations her country had submitted to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, she reaffirmed that “no reference to sexual or reproductive rights could be construed, under any circumstances whatsoever, as to include the possibility of having abortion.”

She said that “abortion is not a human right, since it goes against the principle of the inviolability of human life from the point of conception.”

The official document of the Commission should include her explanation of the Costa Rica position, she concluded.

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Peruvian bishops denounce gender feminism as damaging to women and the family

Lima, Peru, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - In a statement released to mark the celebration of International Women’s Day, the Bishops Conference of Peru warned that the injustices suffered by women in past centuries are being repeated today with ideologies such as “gender feminism,” which leads to the destruction of the family through a distorted vision of reality.

In a message entitled, “Woman, Heart of the Family,” the bishops noted “the struggles for the vindication of women throughout history” but argued that “gender ideology denigrates women who are wives and mothers, because it holds that motherhood and marriage are two instruments of masculine domination.”

“This idea represents a profound intolerance that is just as condemnable as the idea that causes machismo in social life,” they warned.

The bishops underscored the need for recognition of the family as the basic cell of society and of the fundamental and irreplaceable role of women as wives and mothers, in order for there to be a more just and reconciled society.

“It is not an exaggeration to call her the heart of the family, since a woman who is fulfilled as wife and mother becomes the nucleus that makes family life in all of its richness possible,” the bishops noted, adding that his does not equate to a lack of appreciation for so many women who are fulfilled in the single life through their contributions to a more humane society.

Lastly, the bishops expressed their recognition and admiration for ‘all women who with their work and sacrifice, often heroic, “make human life worthy of living.”

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Church in Spain reiterates willingness to collaborate despite government’s secular agenda

Madrid, Spain, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - During opening remarks for the 84th Plenary Assembly of the Spanish Bishops Conference, the president of the Conference, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, reiterated the willingness of the Church to maintain “a positive working relationship” with the government even though several issues of its socialist agenda “are cause for grave concern and are even in opposition” to a “Christian perspective based on natural and rational ethics.”

During his remarks, the cardinal also mentioned the bishops’ recent “ad limina” visit to Rome, and the thanked Pope John Paul II for “the warm welcome” and the “luminous words” which he addressed to the bishops.

“The Pope has confirmed us in our apostolic plans” of service to the sacramental life of the faithful, of our ministry to priests, and especially, to young people and the laity present in different areas of public life,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Rouco also recalled the Pope’s allusion to the secular mentality that is spreading in Spain and the rest of Western society, saying it poses “a special difficulty not only for the Church’s evangelization but also for the full and smooth development of social life.”
 
The cardinal also mentioned the meeting that took place last week between Conference leaders and the Spanish government, underscoring that although several issues were cause for “grave concern,” the bishops have always maintained a willingness to work with the legitimate authorities of the State, according to the Constitution and the Accords between Spain and the Holy See.

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Spanish bishop underscores personal and communal aspects of Confession

Madrid, Spain, Mar 8, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Roman Casanova Casanova of Vic, Spain, said this week the Sacrament of Reconciliation has a personal as well as a communal dimension, because “my sins also offend the ecclesial community by lessening its vitality and holiness.”

During his reflections for Lent, the bishop noted that confession is “an essential element” for receiving forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  He added that the teaching of the Church is clear that, “unless it is impossible, sincere and complete confession of sins is necessary.”

Bishop Casanova also mentioned the “profound human reasons” for Confession, such as the need of the human person to be listened to.

”The Sacrament of Confession also has this outpouring of fraternal help for the confession of sins and the struggle against sin, which involves us all,” the bishop said.  He underscored that in order to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, “sincere conversion and the confession of sins” are necessary.

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