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Archive of March 11, 2005

US bishops issue statement on Terri Schiavo, urge continued treatment

Washington D.C., Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have issued their long-awaited statement on the case of Terri Schindler Schiavo in support of continued treatment and care.

The 41-year-old Florida woman has been physically and cognitively disabled for more than a decade. Unable to eat for herself, she has been kept alive with feeding tubes. Her husband recently won a long court battle, giving him the right to remove the feeding tubes.

The court set March 18 as the date for the tubes to be removed. It will likely take weeks before Schiavo starves to death. However, Schiavo’s parents and siblings and numerous pro-life groups and leaders have been fighting to keep her alive.

The Schiavo case has also focused national attention to the moral debate about withholding nutrition and hydration from people with cognitive disabilities.

In a statement released March 9, William Cardinal Keeler, chairman of the USCCB’s Pro-Life Activities, said the USCCB agrees with the Florida bishops’ Feb. 28 statement that Schiavo should “continue to receive all treatments and care that will be of benefit to her.”

The Cardinal stressed Church teaching on nutrition and hydration, citing a speech by Pope John Paul II, who last year said people who “find themselves in the clinical condition of a ‘vegetative state’ retain their human dignity in all its fullness” and the right to basic health care (nutrition, hydration, cleanliness, warmth, etc.).

The Pope said providing water and food, even by artificial means, is “morally obligatory, insofar as and until it is seen to have attained its proper finality, which in the present case consists in providing nourishment to the patient and alleviation of his suffering.”

“There are times when even such basic means may cease to be morally obligatory, because they have become useless or unduly burdensome for the patient,” the cardinal explained.

But he added that “deliberately to remove them in order to hasten a patient’s death … would be a form of euthanasia, which is gravely wrong.”

The Cardinal said he joins the Florida bishops in praying that those who hold power over Schiavo’s life will see that she continues to receive nourishment and care.

For the full statement, go to:
http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2005/05-052.shtml

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Pope stresses need to reject anti-life campaigns to Tanzanian bishops

Vatican City, Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - In a message to visiting Tanzanian Bishops, made public by the Vatican today, Pope John Paul highlighted the great importance of pastoral care for families and clergy in that country.

The message was addressed to Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dal-es-Salaam and Bishop Severine Niwemugizi of Rulenge, Tanzania, who is also the president of the Episcopal Conference of Tanzania.

The Pope welcomed both bishops, who are in Rome for their “ad limina” visit, to his suite at the Gemelli Hospital earlier today.

The message offers the prelates the Holy Father’s greetings from the hospital, where, he said, “I offer my prayers and my sufferings for you: in these days I feel especially close to you."

John Paul II noted that he wanted his message to underscore "three integral parts of your pastoral ministry; care of the family; care of the clergy and care for the common good of society in your region."
 
"The world can learn much," he wrote, "from the high value that is placed upon the family as a building block of African society", and added that the Church must give "special priority to the pastoral care of the family, because of the great cultural changes taking place in the modern world.”

“For example,” he said, “the unjust practice of linking programs of economic assistance to the promotion of sterilization and contraception must be strenuously resisted" as they are "affronts to the dignity of the person and the family."
 

The Pope said that marriage is "sacred, ... one and indissoluble by nature" and "has to remain open to the generation of new life. ... The promotion of genuine family values is all the more urgent on account of the terrible scourge of AIDS afflicting your country and so much of the African continent.”

“Fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside it”, he pointed out, “are the only sure ways to limit the further spread of infection. ... It especially grieves me to consider the many thousands of children left as orphans in the wake of the merciless virus."
 
The Pope also addressed the issue of pastoral care for the clergy, saying that a bishop must be "a father, brother and a friend" to his closest collaborators. He urged the prelates to help priests "grow in holiness and in single-hearted commitment to discipleship" and "to enkindle within them a genuine longing for the Kingdom of God.”

“Continue to encourage them in their gifts,” he told them, “sustain them in their difficulties and form them to meet the demands of priestly life today. I know that you appreciate the importance of seminary formation and the need to assign your best priests to this task."
 
Noting the question of the Church's care for the common good, John Paul II underlined the steps taken by the Tanzanian bishops "to combat the material deprivation afflicting so many of your people" and says that "cooperation between Church and State on such matters of great social concern deserves to be commended."

He likewise noted Tanzania's contributions "to building peace and stability in East Africa" and its generosity "in providing a home for thousands of refugees fleeing persecution in their own countries."
 
The Pope concluded his remarks by stressing the challenge "to maintain and strengthen respectful relations with the Muslim community" and the "serious commitment to inter-religious dialogue."

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Vatican unveils project bringing together Science and Theology

Vatican City, Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, the findings of one of the most prestigious current research programs on the relationship between science, philosophy and theology was unveiled at the Vatican.

The presentation was based on results of the second phase of the STOQ Project (Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest), coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Culture.  

Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Council, indicated in his talk that the project involves the Pontifical Lateran and Gregorian Universities, the Pontifical Athenaeum "Regina Apostolorum”, as well as a number of other pontifical universities, which have varying degrees of involvement.

The John Templeton Foundation along with numerous sponsors from various countries is financially supporting the project.
 
Cardinal Poupard pointed out that the project "consists of a series of organically-coordinated initiatives at three different levels: the first and fundamental level is that of teaching, with the object of forming specialists in the field of dialogue between science and faith.”

“This will take place”, he said, “by means of graduate studies programs in each university with a view to attaining a degree (bachelors or masters), and with the possibility of exchanging academic credits between the various universities involved in the project."
 

The council president noted that the project also includes: "the definition of joint programs with other public and private universities, with the possibility of attaining a form of double recognition; scholarships for doctoral theses; and the organization of an international congress in November 2005 on the theme 'Infinity in Science, Philosophy and Theology,' in which scientists, theologians and philosophers from all over the world will participate."
 
The final aim of the project, Cardinal Poupard said, is "to contribute to dialogue between areas of research and study that, in the modern age, have slowly become separated."

He noted that in order to reach this, its is necessary "to build firm bridges and create fruitful exchanges between science, philosophy and theology through dialogue among their respective practitioners.”

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Priestly formation must lead to understanding of ‘spiritual fatherhood’, says bishop

Denver, Colo., Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - Bishops and priests are called to be “true spiritual fathers” to the faithful, but there are important cultural factors and attitudes that challenge this call, said Bishop Samuel J. Aquila.

Speaking at the Fourth Annual Symposium on the Spirituality and Identity of the Diocesan Priest in Denver March 3, the bishop of Fargo challenged bishops and priests to examine their lives and honestly confront how their “spiritual fatherhood has been possibly compromised or defined by the spirit of the day.”

One of these challenges that must be addressed is the tendency to see the priesthood as a job, said the bishop.

“Have we adopted a false sense of privacy by which we do not confront, discipline or visit with our spiritual children?” he asked. “Do we abandon our spiritual children by defining our call to the priesthood as a 9-to-5 profession, with an attitude of ‘Don't call me after hours?’”  

Another cultural influence is “the secular view of sexuality, which is hedonistic and nihilistic, and completely counter to the intention of God,” Bishop Aquila said.

The bishop added that this view of sexuality is complicated by the fact that “some theologians, especially those who have accepted the radical feminist critique in their theological reflections, have rejected God the Father” and rejected Jesus Christ as man, the Word made flesh.

“The radical feminist critique of the Trinitarian doctrine provides a Gnostic approach to human and spiritual maturation in the Holy Spirit,” he said. 

Sensitive to these influences, seminarians must be guided to “a true understanding of spiritual fatherhood, which comes to us primarily from the Gospels and Jesus' relationship to the Father,” the bishop said.

For this to happen, priestly formation must adequately address fatherhood, he suggested.

“If some of the seminarians have never had fathers, or if there are concerns about their relationship with their fathers, this will need to be addressed both on the human and spiritual level, especially if the man is ever to develop a relationship with God the Father,” he said. 

“Every priest and bishop interiorly in faith must know how to receive and experience in his heart the eternal love of the Father for him if he is to communicate that love to others,” he added. 

Seminaries must also teach on human sexuality and help seminarians develop a healthy masculinity. 

He urged bishops, priests and seminarians to meditate on the chaste generative life of St. Joseph and use the fatherhood, displayed by St. Joseph, as a model.

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The Passion Recut hits theaters today

Hollywood, Calif., Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - Theaters nationwide today will begin showing an edited version of Mel Gibson’s blockbuster hit, The Passion of the Christ, which is scheduled to run through Easter.

CNA reported last month that the new cut of the film removes five to six minutes of the most violent scenes, specifically the scourging scene.

Bruce Davey, Gibson’s partner in Icon Productions commented that, "there are no new scenes, and the cuts are limited to the more violent aspects of the film, if that's the right term.

Icon Productions is considering a yearly release of the film for the Lenten season.

For more information and theater listings, visit, www.thepassionrecut.com

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Franciscan Friars praying to Archbishop Sheen for miracle for Schiavo

Yonkers, N.Y., Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - While pro-life supporters nationwide fight for the life of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, whose feeding tube is scheduled to be removed March 18th, New York’s Franciscan Friars of the Renewal are staging a different kind of campaign.

The Yonkers chapter of the New York City-based order has started a prayer campaign asking for the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

With Archbishop Sheen’s help, the Friars are hoping for a miracle.

Father Andrew Apostoli C.F.R., one of the friars, said that “the late Archbishop’s TV show was called Life is Worth Living, and believed very strongly in the value of every life, but the opponents to Terri Shiavo do not think that her life is worth living.”

A Florida judge recently ruled in favor of Terri’s husband, Michael Shiavo who plans to remove the feeding tube, which gives food and hydration to his wife.

Terri’s family and other pro-life leaders are racing the clock to find a way to appeal the decision and save 41-year old Schiavo from starvation.

The Friars are asking that anyone who wishes to join them pray the following prayer:

Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit.  If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his powerful intercession.  Lord, grant that Terri Shiavo’s life be spared and grant her a healing that the world may know the value of every life.

Read more at, www.franciscanfriars.com/terri.htm

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St. Louis Polish community seeks new home

St. Louis, Mo., Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - Members of St. Louis’ Polish community are looking forward toward a new parish home following a year-long dispute between the Archdiocese and St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Parish in north St. Louis.

Last month, Archbishop Raymond Burke opted to place an interdict on board members at the parish, who refused to bring the civil structure of St. Stanislaus in line with Canon Law.

Under the current structure, the parish pastor is subject to the authority of the church’s board members. Archbishop Burke has repeatedly pointed out, and even the Vatican has confirmed, that this is contrary to Church Law.

Last year, the Archbishop removed Archdiocesan priests from the parish and transferred pastoral care of St. Louis’ Polish-Catholic community to nearby St. John the Apostle and Evangelist church.

The St. Louis Review reported recently that “About 125 people attend the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass in Polish at St. John”, and that, “The apostolate is served by Father Adam Hurbanczuk, a native of Poland.”

On July 1st however, a parish reorganization is expected to take place in which the community will move from its cramped, shared space at St. John’s to St. Agatha Parish in South St. Louis.

According to many parishoners however, the move is bittersweet, as the hearts of the community remain at St. Stanislaus, which has been home to St. Louis’ Polish-Catholics since the late 1800’s

The Review noted however, that a letter from a new advisory committee for the Polish-Catholic community said that they “reject [the St. Stanislaus board’s] rhetoric comparing their role to that of Solidarity in the fight for freedom in Poland.”

“This comparison”, the letter continued, “is simply insulting to many of us who are parishioners and who personally participated in the fight for the freedom of Poland and drew our strength and inspiration from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church."

The Review added that plans are now in the works for the new community to regain semblance of normal parish life including the establishment of a parish finance committee, church directory, and activities like fundraisers and parish dinners.

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Economist to debate morality of market economy

, Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - The morality of current economic policy and business will be the focus of a lecture March 12 at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College.

Writer and economist Doug Bandow will speak on "Markets and Morality: Globalization and the Poor."  

A regular lecturer at the Acton Institute and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, Bandow is a nationally syndicated columnist with Copley News Service and the former editor of Inquiry magazine.

The special assistant to President Ronald Reagan has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, and written and edited several books, including “Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World”, “Perpetuating Poverty: The World Bank, the IMF, and the Developing World”, and “The Politics of Plunder: Misgovernment in Washington”.

The talk is at 7 p.m., preceded by a reception at 6. For information, call (703) 658-4304.

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Church in France wins ban of Last Supper ad

Paris, France, Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - A French judge ruled yesterday that an ad campaign based on Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper is offensive to Catholics and ordered the ads removed.

Judge Jean-Claude Magendie agreed with the French Catholic Church, granting it an injunction to ban the ads of leading fashion house Marithe and Francois Girbaud.

Ads feature designer-clad women in the place of Jesus and the Apostles, one of them with her arms around a half-naked man in jeans.

Despite arguments by Girbaud’s lawyers that banning the ads would be censorship, the judge ruled that the ads were "a gratuitous and aggressive act of intrusion on people's innermost beliefs."

"The offence done to Catholics far outweighs the desired commercial goal," he said.

He ordered that all ads on display be taken down within three days. The association Belief and Liberties, which represented the church, was also awarded costs.

"When you trivialize the founding acts of a religion, when you touch on sacred things, you create an unbearable moral violence which is a danger to our children,” Thierry Massis, legal counsel for Belief and Liberties, had told the court. “Tomorrow Christ on the cross will be selling socks.”

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Pro-life groups slam Argentina for abstaining from vote on human cloning

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - Several pro-life groups in Argentina called the country’s abstention from the UN vote on human cloning “an embarrassment.”

The UN General Assembly voted to ban all forms of human cloning in a resolution this Tuesday.  Argentina seconded the proposals of Belgium—which allows therapeutic cloning—and abstained during the vote.

The pro-life publication “Notivida” reported that Argentina abstained from the vote, “following the directives of the Kirchner government, and distancing itself from the majority of countries which, in defense of life, supported the resolution.”

“The Argentinean government, with its abstention, showed that it believes the elimination of human beings is acceptable,” said the report.

The resolution was approved with 84 votes in favor, 34 against and 37 abstentions.  Among the countries that voted in favor were the US, Germany, Portugal, Poland, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay and Nicaragua.  Belgium, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba and other countries voted against the resolution.  Argentina and Uruguay were among the countries that abstained.

The resolution exhorts member countries to “prohibit cloning in all its forms as contrary to human dignity and the protection of life.”

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Spanish Archbishop calls for action in response to “absurd” social transformation

Valencia, Fla., Mar 11, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia, Spain, is calling on the Spanish to avoid becoming “silent spectators” in the wake of the current changes and transformation taking place in the society of the third millennium and to not allow “history to steer us toward the absurd and to suffering.”

“Human freedom and social responsibility allow us to change what appears to be the course of history,” the archbishop said in his weekly letter, alluding to the disturbing state of affairs in areas such as scientific research, the family, public opinion and women’s issues.

In his letter, the archbishop said that genetic research that allows “selfish or economic ends to trump ethics is a grave error,” adding that “ethics violations translate into victims who we then try to forget about or silence.”

Referring to the area of public opinion, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco lamented that “some polls seem to have been carried out in order to spread preconceived ideas against religion as trendy and worthy of imitation.”

Regarding family issues, the archbishop criticized the media for presenting relationships “that in reality conceal a lack of service and commitment” as “normal and good.”

He also expressed his concern for the increase in aggression against women, calling it “an intolerable sign of moral degradation.”

The legal advances in favor of women “are many times juxtaposed against the very serious contradictions of a society that has become violent towards women,” the archbishop warned, noting that “fostering in the young people of Spain the values of true love and family is an unavoidable challenge.”

He also expressed his “concern” for stay-at-home moms who “are not recognized as ‘workers’, and whose work is often ridiculed, as if raising a family were not as valuable as having a job.”  “The family fulfills the aspirations of the human person much more than jobs do,” he said.

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