Archive of March 22, 2005

Doctor rules out new hospitalization of Pope

Vatican City, Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - With heightened rumors in the press about the health of Pope John Paul II, the Pontiff’s medical team on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of another hospitalization of the Pope at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome.

“There are no plans for John Paul II to return to the hospital,” Dr. Rodolfo Proietti told the Italian news agency ANSA.

The statements by Proietti, head of the medical team that cares for the Holy Father at the Gemelli, were in response to a report by the French news agency AFP which quoted anonymous Vatican officias as saying the Pope “is not well.”  “The Pope was not well all day Monday, that night and today as well,” the source supposedly told AFP.  “If the problem is not resolved by Easter, the Pope will have to go back to the hospital,” reported AFP, again quoting the Vatican source.

However, although the Holy See’s Press Office is insisiting there is no new news regarding the Pope’s condition, it was revealed that the Pontiff will not preside at the Sunday audience as he continues his convalescence.

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Vatican paper slams Federal court decision in Schiavo case

Rome, Italy, Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - Under the headline, “Terri Schiavo: the ‘crime’ of being useless,” the Vatican’s newspaper L'Osservatore Romano published a harsh editorial criticizing the decision by Federal Judge James Whittemore not to order the reinsertion of a feeding tube in the Florida woman, who has been without food or water for over four days.

“She has no chance of ‘recovery’ or of living a ‘normal’ life.  Therefore Terri Schiavo must die.”  This is the “absurd and terrifying motive” behind the recent judicial ruling, the editorial states.

The article noted the intervention by the US Congress, but pointed out that Judge Whittemore has decided that “Terri’s life is not worth living and at the same time has condemned her to an atrocious death: death by hunger and thirst.”

“After all,” the editorial adds,”Terri's destiny appears not unlike that of many men and women who in the United States get capital punishment for their crimes. But Terri has committed no crimes, if not that of being 'useless' to the eyes of a society incapable of appreciating and defending the gift of life. Of any life," said the paper.

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Vatican says Schiavo must be kept alive

Vatican City, Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican has once again spoken out in favor of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, who has been without food and water since her feeding tube was removed Friday.

A Florida federal judge ruled this morning that he saw no reason to renig the decision of a lower court and reinsert the tube, which has been feeding Schiavo for 15 years.

Javier Lozano, a member of the Pontifical Council for Health said that the act “is euthanasia”, and amounts to nothing more than a ruthless way to kill a person.

He added that, "The end of life is a question only in the hands of God. This is our belief. It is not something that must be in the hands of politicians or in the hands of physicians... but in the hands of God only."

While the Catholic Church is not in favor of keeping a person alive at all costs—using medical intervention, which could prolong the person’s agony--the Vatican is quick to point out that Schiavo is not on life support, but merely requires food and water.

One year ago, Pope John Paul II wrote that, "The administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural way of preserving life... not a medical procedure."

Following today’s court ruling, Schiavo’s parents filed an appeal with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia to try and continue fighting for their daughter’s life.

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Judge rule against reinserting Terri’s feeding tube draws strong criticism

Tampa, Fla., Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - A federal judge ruled this morning that Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube would not be reinserted.  

The feeding tube of the 41-year-old disabled woman was removed March 18 by court order after a long battle in the Florida courts.

Federal Judge James Whittemore heard the emergency request yesterday after President George W. Bush and Congress passed legislation early Monday morning, allowing federal courts to review the case.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had issued a statement March 18, strongly supporting legislation to provide Terri the chance to have her case heard in federal court.

Court hearing

Immediately following the passage of the bill, Schiavo’s parents filed for an injunction with a federal court.

During the hearing Monday, David Gibbs, an attorney for the parents, said forcing Schiavo to die by starvation and dehydration would be "a mortal sin" under her Catholic beliefs, reported the AP.

"It is a complete violation to her rights and to her religious liberty, to force her in a position of refusing nutrition," Gibbs argued.

George Felos, an attorney for husband Michael Schiavo, told the judge that the case had already been heard thoroughly in the state courts and that forcing Terri to endure another re-insertion of the tube would violate her civil rights.

The judge did not make a ruling immediately after the two-hour hearing.

Burke J. Balch, J.D., Director of the Powell Center for Medical Ethics of the National Right to Life Committee, said this morning that, “Judge Whittemore has engaged in a gross abuse of judicial power.”   

“Giving not even the slightest deference to an Act of Congress,” he said, “without even allowing time for meaningful legal argument or consideration of evidence, Whittemore has ruled that Terri Schiavo’s death sentence must be carried out.” 

Unless higher courts issue a stay on appeal, an innocent young woman will be denied what every mass murderer convicted in state court gets – her day in federal court.”

‘She’s still with us’

The Associated Press reported that Bob Schindler visited his daughter late Sunday and said he noticed the effects of dehydration. He said she appeared to be getting tired, but eventually responded to his teasing by making a face at him.

"It tells us she's still with us," he reportedly said.

Terri Schiavo suffered brain damage in 1990 when her heart stopped briefly. She breathes on her own, but relies on the feeding tube to keep her alive.

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Terri Schiavo begins her Passion with Holy Week: Orlando bishop

Orlando, Fla., Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Thomas Wenski issued a powerful defense of the life of Terri Schiavo this week in a commentary published in the Orlando Sentinel. The 41-year-old disabled Florida woman’s feeding tube was removed March 18 by court order.

“Holy Week, the annual remembrance of Jesus' passion and death, begins with the Passion of Terri Schiavo,” wrote the Orlando bishop. “Terri's agony has already begun and, barring some miracle, the denouement of Terri's drama will be her death.”

In addition to drawing an analogy between Terri’s experience and that of Jesus, the bishop compared Terri to actor Christopher Reeve, who was kept alive on a respirator until he died late last year of natural causes.

“No one begrudged his heroic struggle to live, and we were all edified by his courage and that of his family who stood by him,” wrote the bishop. “Terri, however, is not being kept alive by any machine as was Reeve…. She only needs assistance to be fed.

“Does the fact that he could speak and she cannot make it right to deprive her of the ordinary means of human sustenance? If so, how can any of our seriously ill brethren ever again trust themselves to sleep while under a doctor's care?” he asked.

While some would argue that removing the feeding tube is simply letting nature take its course, the bishop argued that there is nothing natural about starving to death or having food withheld.

“The mark of a civilized society was that the helpless had the greatest claim on our protection,” he wrote. “Now it would seem that they have the least.”

He cited Pope John Paul II’s recent book, “Memory and Identity”, in which the pontiff says the crisis “of our time is rooted in the presumption that we can decide for ourselves what is good and evil without reference to God.”

“When we do kill,” the bishop pointed out, “we usually … make up excuses for our crimes [and] … disguise what we do by rationalizations.”

For example, we don't abort "babies," we remove the "products of conception,” he offered. “And when we dispatch with a fatal cocktail the feeble minded it is because such a life is lebensunwerter Leben (life "unworthy of life"), as euthanasia was justified in the Germany of the Third Reich.”

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Italian press speculates about Pope’s fragile health

Rome, Italy, Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - The media in Italy is reporting that Pope John Paul II “is very weak” and that there is “great concern” for his health at the Vatican, despite the statements on Monday by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls that there was no reason for reporters to be on standby throughout the night.

“The Pope blesses, but he doesn’t speak.  His condition has worsened,” reported the Italian daily Il Messaggero.  “The joy of seeing him, the sadness at seeing him this Saturday.  These were the two emotions John Paul II inspired at the beginning of his Holy Week of suffering: he will be absent from the celebrations and will remain present with his silent blessings,” the article stated.

The socialist daily La Repubblica claimed that “a wave of concern was evident throughout the Apostolic Palace after the silent appearance of John Paul II at the end of Palm Sunday Mass.”

The socialist newspaper, which in the past has mistakenly announced the Pope’s imminent death, quoted Vatican sources as saying the Pope “is truly very weak” and that the Pope himself his fully aware that “his body is betraying him, and he is living his growing weakness with much drama.”

John Paul II is under 24-hour vigilance by a medical staff lead by Dr. Renato Buzzonetti.  The Apostolic Palace has been equipped with emergency medical equipment, including respirators, oxygen, and heart monitors.

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Vatican calls on bishops to support Christian community in Holy Land with Good Friday collections

Vatican City, Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - The Congregation for Oriental Churches has issued a call to bishops worldwide to support the Christian community in the Holy Land with their Good Friday collections.

Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud and Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, prefect and secretary of the congregation, respectively, signed the letter.
In it, they say that, "This dicastery remains attentive to the plight of the Christian community, a community which continually diminishes because of the absence of peace and of stability.”

“Given the ongoing needs of this community,” the letter continues, “it must appeal again and again for help from each of our dioceses and from all of our ecclesiastical institutions."
The letter explains that the annual Good Friday collection, "aims to promote among the Christian faithful a love for the Land of the Lord. For the Church to survive there it must rely upon a loving and nurturing solidarity on the part of each Christian; a solidarity which bears witness to faith in Him Who was born in that land, Who preached the Gospel there and Who also died and was resurrected there."
The congregation notes that the Holy Father "continually manifests his paternal closeness to the Christians of the Holy Land."

Cardinal Daoud said that "peace in the world passes through Jerusalem, the City of Peace, that Holy City and Capital of Monotheism, as Pope Paul VI referred to it in his message of March 25, 1974, 'Nobis in animo.'

“With this in mind,” he said, “what is anticipated is that each Christian strive on behalf of this desired peace, the special gift of God which must imbue our prayer, our efforts and our solidarity."

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Archbishop O'Malley to wash women's feet Holy Thursday

Boston, Mass., Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - After angering women during Holy Week last year, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley decided that he will wash the feet of women and men Holy Thursday, after having consulted with the Vatican, reported the Boston Globe.

According to the archbishop’s spokeswoman, Ann Carter, the Congregation for Divine Worship “affirmed the liturgical requirement that only the feet of men be washed at the Holy Thursday ritual."

However, it said the archbishop could make a pastoral decision that is best suited for his diocese.

The archbishop’s decision drew praise from advocates for a greater role for women in the Church.

Lisa Sowle Cahill, a professor of theology at Boston College who has written about feminist theology, said the archbishop’s decision “will be a wonderful sign, an appropriate Easter sign of hope and unity."

She said the decision indicates that a church leader “is willing to become more flexible about liturgical roles for women.”

The lay reform group Voice of the Faithful also welcomed the archbishop’s decision.

The Roman Missal uses a Latin word for man when describing participants in the foot-washing ceremony. But the U.S. bishops conference in 1987 declared that ''it has become customary in many places to invite both men and women to be participants in this rite in recognition of the service that should be given by all the faithful to the church and to the world."

Archbishop O’Malley said he has always followed the liturgical directive and has, for the last 34 years, only washed the feet of men on Holy Thursday.

“It has never been an issue with my parishes,” he said.

However, when his practice became an issue in Boston last year, he promised to consult with Rome for this year’s service.

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Argentinean bishop warns religion is not a private affair

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - “There are many people who were baptized in the Catholic Church and are embarrassed to speak” about Christ in public, warned Bishop Luis Stockler of Quilmes, Argentina this week.  Religion is not a private affair to be covered up, he said.

During his homily for Palm Sunday, the bishop recalled that as Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem, many people wondered who He was.  Believers, he indicated, should not give an emotional answer if they do not want to repeat the conduct of those who on Sunday shouted, Hosanna! but on Good Friday, Crucify Him!

Bishop Stockler explained that those who wish to silence the Christian message “continue to act with arrogance to impose their ideas.”  For this reason, he encouraged the faithful not to be ashamed of proclaiming the Gospel and of bearing witness to it in public.

He pointed out that in today’s society public discourse can be about anything except religion, unless one wants to discuss controversial aspects such as the riches of the Vatican, celibacy of priests, or the role of the Church in politics.  Bishop Stockler said that in this context, even the branches of Palm Sunday are accepted “as a pious tradition or a protection against omens.”

“We should not be surprised that the disciples of Jesus are met with resistance and rejection by those who do not accept the law of God,” he said.  Nevertheless, the bishop noted that those “who believe in Him will be able to resist the pressure and the fear and to bear witness to their faith with courage in a hostile atmosphere.”

Bishop Stockler explained that Jesus Christ, both then and now, “manifests himself publicly but He does not impose his authority through violence.”  Rather, He assumes the “condition of a slave” in order to come to us in humility, “appealing to our freedom in order to be acknowledged as the Son of God” who came to save humanity. 

Lastly, the bishop invited all to truly live Holy Week, proclaiming that “the apparent defeat of Jesus on the cross is the sign of victory over evil” and that his resurrection encourages us to follow Him and “give our lives for Him.”

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Cuban dissidents harassed alter attending Palm Sunday celebrations

Havana, Cuba, Mar 22, 2005 (CNA) - Cuban dissident Martha Beatriz Roque Cabello said this week a group of women from the Damas de Blanco (“Women of White”), an organization made of up of wives and mothers of political prisoners, were harassed by individuals connected with the government after participating in the celebrations for Palm Sunday.

According to Roque Cabello, 30 members of the Damas de Blanco were intercepted by 200 women, who physically harassed them while chanting pro-Castro slogans.

Roque-Cabello, who was released from prison for health reasons several months ago, said the harassment took place away from where foreign press was so that reporters would not take notice.

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