Vatican City, Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, Pope John Paul II called on members of a conference examining the Church’s call to justice continue to foster solidarity with and dignity for all members of the human family.
The Pope’s message, addressed to Cardinal Renato R. Martino and to participants in the conference for the 40th anniversary of the Vatican Council II Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium et Spes", was relayed by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, of which Cardinal Martino is president, is sponsoring the gathering, which lasts until tomorrow.
Noting the theme of the conference, "The Call to Justice," the Holy Father wrote that, "at times, the huge advances in science and technology can result in the fundamental questions of justice being forgotten, despite a shared aspiration for greater solidarity between peoples and for a more human structuring of social relationships."
He highlights the fact that "the sad persistence of armed conflict and recurring displays of violence in many parts of the world constitute a further proof of the inseparable relationship between justice and peace, in keeping with the fundamental teaching proposed with courageous clarity in Gaudium et Spes.”
“On this subject,” he said, “I wish to reaffirm once again that peace is the work of justice; indeed it is born from that order upon which the Divine Founder Himself wanted human society to be built."
"How, then, can we not approve and encourage those men and women of good will who make such efforts to create conditions of greater justice in the world?” the Pope asked.
“Indeed, true peace on earth means the firm determination to respect others in their dignity, both individuals and peoples, and the constant will to increase fraternity among the members of the human family."
John Paul concluded his message by referring to the need "never to forget the virtue of love that leads to forgiveness and reconciliation, and that animates Christian commitment in favor of justice. In any case, it remains unquestionable that the theme of justice is the foundation for the correct regulation of the social order."
Vatican City, Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - Today the Vatican welcomed Lawrence Edward Chewning Fabrega, the new ambassador to the Holy See from Panama.
Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano received the diplomat, in the Pope's name, expressing the Holy Father’s happiness at the continuing, "good understanding and close collaboration between the public authorities and the Church in Panama."
"I am aware," the Pope told the ambassador, "of your government's concern to fight the poverty in which a part of the population still lives, establishing more favorable conditions for the creation of jobs and combating the blight of corruption.”
For her part, the Church has contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the true progress of people by proclaiming the Good News."
The Pope noted that Panama "has already celebrated the first hundred years of republican life," and goes on to say that "the road traveled to affirm this historical and geographical identity offers reasons for hope.”
“Solidly rooted in this identity,” he said, “your country can continue to make an important contribution, favoring communication and good relations between the other peoples of the world."
John Paul added that "now, the goals attained must be consolidated by firm commitments in order to face up to the phenomena that could endanger them.”
“On this matter”, he said, “it is necessary to: Orient the investment of available resources in projects that aim to eradicate poverty and remedy the huge differences in the distribution of wealth; form the different generations in respect for the dignity of each ethnic group; improve the educational system; streamline the implementation of judicial power, and make the situation of prisoners more humane and just in order to facilitate their reinsertion into society; and finally, find the means necessary for the overall development of the men and women of Panama."
The Pope concluded by expressing the desire to encourage "the government of a people with such deep Christian roots as the Panamanians, a people so welcoming and open to dialogue, to put all its efforts in achieving better conditions for the true development of the family, safeguarding the role of women in the various areas of society and generating greater opportunities for young people."
Vatican City, Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - On March 15th, the new Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem Mausoleum in Jerusalem opened its doors. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, librarian of Holy Roman Church, and the Pope’s representative to the event, assured those gathered of the Church’s and the Holy Father’s solidarity.
The Pope visited Yad Vashem on March 23, 2000 during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It is a monument to the memory of victims of the Holocaust and contains, among other things, several urns of ashes of victims from various concentration camps.
Cardinal Tauran said that, "The building that we have just inaugurated is, for the whole world, a warning, a witness and an appeal.”
In acknowledging the immensity of Jewish suffering, we come face to face with the obligation to be vigilant, with the need to reject indifference and with the terrifying void of a world without God."
The cardinal quoted from the Pope's January 15, 2005 message for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, saying that, "Pope John Paul II repeats once again this morning to all those who are willing to listen that when we remember the 'horrible crime committed against the Jewish nation' that was the Holocaust, we do so because 'these terrible events are for contemporary men and women a summons to responsibility, in order to build our history'."
"The Catholic Church," affirmed Cardinal Tauran, "respecting the uniqueness of Judaism and remaining linked in faith to its heritage, teaches that there is no place or reason for the hatred of Jews. This would be a sin against God and humanity."
Albany, N.Y., Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - As Americans from coast to coast celebrate St. Patrick’s Day today with things like green beverages and parades, a group of Irish-Catholic descendents are searching for remnants of a fabled past.
Back in the late 1800’s up until the depression, a group of Irish immigrants, known as The Ancient Order of Hibernians, donated much of their meager earnings from work in railroad building and coal digging to buy stained glass windows for Catholic Churches nationwide.
The windows, depicting St. Patrick and various New Testament scenes, are now in danger of being forever lost to history.
Modern-day Hibernians are scouring some churches hoping to find scattered pieces of a past rich in faith, tradition and sacrifice.
Irish immigrants who had traveled to New York City founded the American Hiberians in 1836.
Hibernian historian Michael Cummings told the AP that, “window donations picked up after the Civil War, a time when newspaper headlines trumpeted the violent exploits of a secret society of Irish miners in Pennsylvania called the Molly Maguires.”
In an attempt to rebuild their tarnished image, the group redoubled their efforts to enlist Catholic chaplains, which, Cummings believes, led to the increased generosity of the window-donation.
Cummings began the effort to find the windows three years ago and has stepped up the search in light of church closings and consolidations, particularly in traditionally Irish neighborhoods.
The Hibernians have so far discovered 229 lost windows including one in Cummings hometown of Albany. Most, he said, are concentrated in the northeast part of the U.S.
Cummings and other Hibernians are excited for the glimpse into the group’s past to continue. Added Cummings, "it's kind of like finding a lost relative."
Colorado Springs, Colo., Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - After months of heated debate, a Colorado Springs school district has decided to ban Planned Parenthood from speaking in their schools.
The debate began six months ago when Mike Gamble, a Colorado Springs man became “fed up with what he had learned about Planned Parenthood and their widely accepted sex education classes that have been taught in the public schools over the past 30 years.”
Enlisting the help of a small group of dedicated Christians and utilizing the Freedom of Information Act, which requires disclosure of information about groups who use federal funds, Gamble began a campaign of displaying what he calls “the graphic horrors of abortion” outside three area high schools where the group was scheduled to speak.
Though some, Christians and non-Christians alike, have criticized his use of graphic images to spread his message, the strategy eventually worked and the school district opted to cease the invitations to Planned Parenthood.
Although the Colorado Springs school board decided on January 12th to allow the group, the “Colorado Springs Independent” reported on February 24th that, “Administrators at Palmer, Mitchell and Wasson high schools have canceled the [Planned Parenthood] speakers…effective immediately.”
The schools said that they did not want the attention and protests that Gamble promised would follow each of the group’s presentations.
‘A simple formula’
Gamble told CNA that he employed a “simple formula that won’t fail.”
“My goal”, he said, “is not to get rid of Planned Parenthood. My goal is to put the truth right next to them.”
He is convinced that the heart of the battle is a spiritual one, saying, “I knew Planned Parenthood would leave the schools because Satan cannot leave them in there with us in there.”
Gamble displays images of aborted babies, noting that Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of abortions, and hands out informational leaflets to students outside of the schools.
Peter Howard, communications director for the Diocese of Colorado Springs told CNA that the diocese supports Gamble’s work.
“Planned Parenthood”, he said, “represents everything the Church condemns when it comes to sexual morality.”
Despite many who question Gamble’s techniques, Howard said that he has to be commended for his “research to expose the truth of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.”
He also wonders if the pro-life movement “has come to a point where those kind of images are necessary.”
“Maybe that’s the level that society is at”, he said, “We’ve become numbed to these things.”
Howard added that he hopes the removal of Planned Parenthood from public schools continues.
“The Catholic Church”, he said, will always support non-violent efforts to expose the truth of abortion.”
Washington D.C., Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - The United States and Canadian bishops this week released the long-awaited “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.” Published by the Vatican in October 2004, the synthesis of Catholic social doctrine has now been reissued exclusively for American and Canadian audiences.
Designed as a companion to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” it contains a complete overview of the Church’s doctrine on Catholic social teaching, presented in a simple and straightforward format that makes it accessible to all.
The Compendium, published after a request Pope John Paul II made in 1999, covers all the challenging cultural and social issues facing society today. It tackles issues, such as human rights, terrorism, the family and marriage, workers rights’, economic systems, peace and war, private property, poverty, the death penalty and politics. It is the first Vatican release of its kind in the history of the Church.
The 480-page book is organized in three parts. The first deals with the fundamentals of social doctrine. The second discusses the various social issues. The third contains a series of recommendations for the use of social doctrine in the pastoral activity of the Church and in the life of Christians.
The work is accompanied by two useful indexes: a complete reference index to citations from Scripture and Vatican documents as well as other sources, and also an extensive 164-page analytical index.
The document is not intended exclusively for Catholics. In an introductory letter to the Compendium, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano writes: “Followers of other religions and all people of good will can find herein fruitful occasions for reflection and a common motivation for the internal development of every person.”
Since the American edition was first announced in late 2004, USCCB director of marketing Patrick Markey said the USCCB has received requests for copies “by government officials and think-tanks and by many members of the nation’s academic community.”
The U.S. edition is selling for $24.95. The Canadian edition is selling for CAD $29.95.
Washington D.C., Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - The national pro-life organization Priests for Life continues to urge the Senate to change the rules regarding the President’s judicial nominees, despite comments Tuesday by Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that a change in the rules would mark "an unprecedented abuse of power."
"First of all, the abuse of power is on the part of judges who write law instead of applying it,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, in reference to activist judges who have been legislating liberal social policies.
Fr. Pavone also believes that Republicans are currently in government and they should use their power.
He also warned Senators who oppose changes to the process of judicial nominations would likely not be re-elected.
“Senators who continue to obstruct the process by which [judicial] nominees receive a fair and speedy up-or-down vote will have hell to pay in the 2006 elections, and that is a promise," he said.
Billings, Mont., Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Northern Cheyenne Tribe filed a lawsuit March 11, alleging that St. Labre Indian School Educational Association is imposing its Catholic values on the community and raising millions by marketing the tribe’s poverty, reported the Montana Lee Newspapers.
The lawsuit states that only a small percentage of students at St. Labre Mission are Northern Cheyenne, but the school continues to use images of Cheyenne children in its fundraising campaigns. It says St. Labre has reaped $57 million in the last four years while poverty is rampant on the reservation.
"We're trying to make sure there is a more equitable distribution of the funds raised on the Northern Cheyenne reservation," Northern Cheyenne President Eugene Little Coyote told the newspaper. The lawsuit also states the tribe does not know where all this money has gone.
While the tribe’s leaders have highlighted the financial aspects of the lawsuit to the press, the lawsuit includes other important charges that the Catholic school is imposing a Catholic culture and its values on the community. The tribe alleges that the school has trespassed on tribal lands.
However, the school’s Web site tells a different story about an institution that has been serving that community since 1884. What began as a small mission became a three-campus school, offering elementary and high school education.
The school runs a dormitory from Sundays to Fridays for students whose families live more than 40 miles away. Its program offers instruction in Native American history and languages and, among its many extra-curricular activities, counseling and outreach programs, the schools runs a “Horsemanship for Youth” program.
Washington D.C., Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, President Bush appointed Kevin Martin, a member of the Federal Communications Commission to replace outgoing Michael Powell as head of the office.
Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council was delighted with the announcement and said, “Families across America should be extremely pleased that President Bush has appointed a man who has headed the effort at the FCC to enforce indecency law on television."
Perkins added that, "The previous lack of FCC enforcement of indecency laws has encouraged networks to add more and more sexual incidents, fouler language, and even indecent exposure.”
In light of what many view as declining decency standards on television, including Janet Jackson’s Super bowl “wardrobe malfunction” of last year, religious and family oriented groups nationwide are praising the appointment.
Jan LaRue, Chief Council of Concerned Women of America said that, “Commissioner Martin is the man we backed because he has a consistent and strong track record of decency enforcement."
She added that, “He has been a champion of cleaning up the filth in broadcasting, and being chairman will only further posture him to do just that. We have repeatedly urged our 500,000 constituents to flood the White House with calls urging the President to choose Kevin Martin for this essential role."
President Bush originally appointed Martin to the Commission in April of 2001.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Executive Committee of the Bishops Conference of Argentina has issued a statement condemning abortion and calling on lawmakers to reject the controversial UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
The statement entitled, “Let’s always bet on life,” reiterates that the first of all human rights “is precisely the right to life, which should be protected from conception to natural death.”
The statement also notes that “science teaches us that conception generates a new human life with its own genetic code, distinct from that of the parents,” and therefore “its willful destruction constitutes a crime,” and thus Argentinean law “considers abortion a crime.”
The bishops warned as well that the arguments put forth to legalize abortion “reflect the neo-colonialist strategies that some international organisms seek to impose on our country and on all of Latin America.” “Our commitment to the rights of women does not depend on agreements or recommendations that claim to guarantee the practice of abortion as a public service,” they added.
The bishops warned that approval of the CEDAW would lead to a dangerous cultural dependence for Argentina.
“Let us defend life, let us care for life, let us always bet on life,” the statement concludes.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mar 17, 2005 (CNA) - Catholics for a Free Choice is releasing the results of a poll in Brazil which, according to the feminist pro-abortion group, allegedly shows popular support for abortion, but which in reality does not shed any new light on the debate surrounding the legalization of the practice in that country.
According to CFC, the latest poll by Ibope on abortion reveals that “the majority of Brazilian Catholics are in favor of abortion in cases of life of the mother” and they want the Church to reverse its position on contraception and condoms.
“The poll was surprisingly positive. Catholics had a more liberal position than Brazilians in general. Today we have a Catholic Church trying to influence public policy when its own base does not follow these positions. In whose name is the hierarchy speaking?” asked CFC director Dulce Xavier.
Among those polled by Ibope who said they were Catholics, 82% said they were in favor of abortion in cases of life of the mother—even though modern medicine has all but eliminated such cases—80% said they supported abortion in cases of deformity and 67% were in favor for cases of rape and incest.
What CFC does not say is that the Ibope poll revealed that public opinion in general about the complete legalization of abortion in Brazil has dropped from 10% to 3%. Abortion in cases of life of the mother is already permitted by the Constitution and is not a matter of debate in the country.
According to pro-life analysts, by attempting to portray a “divorce” between the faithful and the hierarchy, CFC is seeking to create confusion in the media and among the faithful in order to discredit the Church’s position on the defense of life.
The head of the Philosophy Department at the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, Estevao Bettencourt, reiterated that Catholic moral teaching must be adhered to by the faithful. “It is sad to see that pragmatism, instant gratification, disrespect for human life as such are prevailing." “We oppose abortion because from the moment of conception a new human being with the right to life exists,” he said.