Vatican City, Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - Despite new reports of failing health and the cancellation of his weekly general audience, Pope John Paul II made a brief appearance at the window of his study this morning to bless pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square below.
Although today’s Wednesday Audience was called off, hundreds of faithful, including a large group from Poland, had gathered in the St Peter's Square prior to the Pope's 11 a.m. appearance hoping to catch a glimpse of the ailing Holy Father.
During the blessing, images of the Pope were relayed on giant screens located in the square.
Although the Vatican has made no official comment, there is widely spread speculation, especially in the Italian media, that the health of the 84-year old pontiff has taken a turn for the worse.
Catholics worldwide are joining together in prayer for the Pope.
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - In the latest blow to the parents of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has denied an appeal to reinsert the 41-year old woman’s feeding tube, which has provided her with food and hydration for the last 15 years.
In a 2-1 ruling this morning, the court declared that attorneys for Schiavo’s parents "failed to demonstrate a substantial case on the merits of any of their claims" that Terri's feeding tube should be immediately reinserted.
Judge Charles R. Wilson dissented from the decision saying that Schiavo’s "imminent" death would end the case before it could be judged.
"In fact, I fail to see any harm in reinserting the feeding tube," he wrote.
This decision comes in the wake of a Florida federal judge who ruled yesterday that, he too, saw no reason to overturn a February 24th decision by Florida Judge George Greer to have the tube removed.
Schiavo has now been without food or water since Friday.
Husband Michael has staged a multi-year battle against Terri’s parents, saying that his wife would have never wanted to be kept alive in her current state. The battle has heated up over the last week, bringing in the action of both congress and President Bush.
Burke Balch, J.D., Director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics at the National Right to Life Committee said this morning that, “The…court ruling is another in a series of acts of raw judicial power, determined to end the life of Terri Schiavo regardless of the rule of law or the norms of justice, but her fight for life is far from over.”
“In particular,” he said, “Floridians can and should be urging their state senators to enact legislation creating a more protective standard for decisions concerning food and fluids.”
Late yesterday, the U.S. Justice Department declared their support for Schiavo’s parents saying, "Unless preliminary relief is immediately issued, there will be significant and irreversible injury: Theresa Schiavo will die.”
Denver, Colo., Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, in the wake of Florida Federal Judge James Whittemore’s decision not to reinsert brain-damaged Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube, which has been absent since Friday, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver added his voice to the fight for Schiavo’s life.
He said that, "The bishops and lay faithful of Florida have the task of leading American Catholics in the Terri Schiavo case. They're working hard to provide that leadership. Our job, outside Florida, is to support Ms. Schiavo and all those concerned for her well being with our prayers.”
The Archbishop said that, “We especially need to pray for Ms. Schiavo's family.”
He also noted the wider implications that this case could have for the culture, citing Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who “has already expressed his fear that allowing Ms. Schiavo to starve would be 'a grave step toward the legal approval of euthanasia in the United States.’”
“He speaks for many other concerned persons around the world,” the Archbishop added.
"Removing food and water from a patient can only be justified if the person is terminal, and natural death is imminent”, the Archbishop Chaput continued.
“For disabled persons not in imminent danger of death and able to breathe on their own, starvation and dehydration to provoke death amount, in effect, to a form of murder. Such actions attack the sanctity of human life. They reject any redemptive meaning to suffering. They can never be justified."
Earlier today, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta denied yet another attempt on the part of Schiavo’s parents to replace the feeding tube which provides their daughter with food and water.
Despite today and yesterday’s setbacks, they have vowed to continue their fight.
Washington D.C., Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - A poll conducted by ABC News recently found that more American Catholics see their moral views influenced by Pope John Paul II than they did two years ago.
The poll shows that the Pope is broadly popular with sixty-seven percent of Americans and 87% of Catholics viewing him favorably.
ABC pointed out that these numbers are up from a 2003 poll taken on the 25th anniversary of the Pope’s pontificate, which suggested that only 39% of Catholics saw their morality influenced by the Holy Father. That number has jumped this year to 51%.
Further, the number of those who ABC sees as practicing Catholics, i.e., who attend Mass at least a few times a month, whose moral views are influenced by John Paul, jumped from 50% in 2003, to 69% now.
Many see the increased loyalty as a result of compassion over the Pope’s declining health. Many Catholics however, see a new strength in the Holy Father, whose sufferings are an example to the world of the dignity of the human person at its weakest.
Still others say that they’re clinging to the Pope because they see his frailty as a sign of Christ’s suffering, just in time for Holy Week.
Amarillo, Texas, Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - The pro-life movement will soon have a new ally. Today, Fr. Frank Pavone, head of the group, Priests for Life officially announced that he is founding a new religious community, which will devote itself to the proclamation and spreading of the Gospel of Life.
Fr. Pavone said in a statement today that, “It has been a dream of mine for over a decade to form a community that can accept seminarians who want to devote their entire ministry to the defense of the unborn.”
“While there are religious communities that give special emphasis to the right to life,” he said, “the Church has no 'institutional' society of men whose exclusive focus is to protect innocent human life from the tragedy of abortion and euthanasia. It is time for such a community.”
The community will be based in the Diocese of Amarillo, Texas, under the spiritual direction of Bishop John W. Yanta.
“I am grateful to Bishop Yanta for allowing me the opportunity to make this dream a reality", Fr. Pavone said.
The Bishop also expressed his enthusiasm over the initiative today. "I am excited about supporting Fr. Pavone in venturing forth, with and through the Holy Spirit, in the establishment of a Society of Apostolic Life for priests and seminarians dedicated to pro-life ministry--an immense need at this time in history,” he said.
Bishops worldwide have expressed their support for the new undertaking.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said that, "Under Father Frank Pavone's leadership, Priests for Life has been a tireless and important national voice defending the sanctity of human life.”
In supporting Fr. Pavone's new initiative, Bishop Yanta and the people of the Diocese of Amarillo are offering a vital service to Catholics throughout the United States."
Likewise, Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis commended Bishop Yanta “for his pastoral vision and generosity in inviting Father Pavone to make the new foundation in the Diocese of Amarillo. I pray that God will bless abundantly Bishop Yanta, Father Pavone and the new foundation."
Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace noted that the new community may be “just what the world needs.”
“The call to protect life”, he said, “is not only a foundation of our faith as Catholics, but it is the very basis of our recognition of human rights and the right to life. The human dignity with which we have been endowed by God binds us together as members of the one family."
Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - A new charter for Scotland’s Catholic schools says all teachers must “support and promote the aims, missions, values and ethos of the schools.”
However, one bishop has been criticized for having interpreted this statement to mean that homosexuals should not be hired to teach in Catholic schools, reported the Scottish Political Editor.
Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell said the church’s Charter for Catholic Schools implies that homosexual teachers are incompatible with Catholic education.
In an interview with the Scottish Political Editor, the president of the Catholic Education Commission said: "Being homosexual would not at all be compatible with the charter. It would cut across the whole moral vision enshrined in the charter. It would be offering a lifestyle that is incompatible with Catholic social teaching."
According to the publication, the bishop said the charter would provide the framework to make sure homosexuals were not employed in Catholic schools and would probably limit the promotion opportunities of those already employed.
The charter has yet to be implemented, but politicians, local government and parent groups say the bishop’s interpretation of the charter is discrimination.
According to the Scottish Political Editor, the Church has had discussions with COSLA, the local government body, over its charter, and the councils are adamant that any plans to discriminate in any way against homosexuals are not acceptable and not legal.
The Scottish Executive also stressed the need to hire the best staff possible regardless of sexual orientation.
Toronto, Canada, Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - Calling a spade a spade, the Anglican primate of Canada said the Anglican Communion is “broken” over the debate on homosexuality and same-sex marriage regardless of whether the Anglican Church of Canada withdraws from an important church council.
According to a report by the Canadian Press, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison made this statement at an open forum with about 400 parishioners in Toronto March 16
The purpose of the gathering was to discuss the impact of a February meeting of Anglican church leaders in Northern Ireland.
At the end of that meeting, the Canadian church was asked to "voluntarily withdraw" its delegates from the international Anglican Consultative Council until 2008. It cited the blessing of same-sex unions in the Diocese of Westminster, B.C., as the reason.
The U.S. Episcopalian Church was also asked to withdraw because it ordained an openly homosexual bishop
But the Canadian primate told his parishioners that he had offered no guarantees to withdraw the Canadian delegates from the council. Regardless, he said, a split has taken place in the Anglican Communion.
CP also reported that the debate over the blessing of same-sex unions has already led 11 Anglican Canadian parishes to break away from the Anglican Church of Canada and join the church of Rwanda.
Porterville, Calif., Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - A comprehensive program at St. Anne’s Church helps single Catholics live chastity and offers services that promote life.
The Porterville Recorder reported that every Monday, a group of men and women gather at the parish to discuss how to be chaste and live the Catholic faith in the world today.
"Chastity before marriage is not just for teenagers; it is for everybody,” Fr. Scott Daugherty told the Recorder. “You don't idolize sex. It's the human person you honor and it's that person you dishonor when you put matters of the flesh first.
“It's not a matter of don't do it, it's a matter of understanding that you want to wait until marriage and understand the value of the human person,” he said.
In another effort to promote life, the church refers women who become unexpectedly pregnant to the Porterville Pregnancy Crisis Center or to other people who provide counseling support within the parish, Fr. Daugherty said.
The church also offers Project Rachel, a program in which women who have had abortions are provided counseling to deal with the loss.
Eagle Pass, Texas, Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - The bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code is “a bunch of hot air” and nothing to get worked up about, said Archbishop Thomas Collins of Edmonton last week.
Although some bishops are urging Catholics not to read the book, Archbishop Collins told the Edmonton Journal that he would not follow suit. He said he doesn’t think condemning the book is very helpful.
He compared it to “an anti-Catholic Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
He admitted that the book’s plot is very gripping but it is loaded with inaccurate information.
“It's all put together in a concoction that appeals to conspiracy theorists antagonistic to the Catholic Church," he was quoted as saying.
The best thing to do is to give people truthful information, he said.
Earlier last week, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, archbishop of Genoa urged Catholics not to buy it.
Archbishop Collins said he understands that some church leaders feel that if they don’t say anything people will believe what they read to be true.
London, England, Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for a review of Britain’s abortion law, reported abc.net.
In a commentary in the Sunday Times, Archbishop Rowan Williams said public opposition to the country’s current abortion legislation has increased.
A poll in the Sunday Express demonstrated this trend. It reported 59 per cent of a survey of 800 people believed the legal time limit for an abortion should be reduced to below the current 24 weeks.
Williams said the current law was against church teaching and that it was right for Christians to boldly debate the issue in the public forum.
Last week, the Catholic Church called for abortion to become an issue in the May elections.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Nicanor Pena Rodriguez of Higuey, Dominican Republic, expressed sadness this week that it is taken “the deaths of 136 inmates in order for measures to be taken regarding prison conditions in the country.” He made his comments while celebrating a Mass for the repose of the souls of those prisoners who have died.
“It appears there has been no interest in solving the problems of our prisons, because time passes and everything still remains the same,” he said.
“It angers us to know that this could have been avoided if the proper measures had been adopted,” the bishop added.
Likewise, he noted that although prisoners forfeit their civil rights when they commit a crime, they are still human beings whose right to life must be respected.
Cardinal Nicolas Lopez Rodriguez of Santo Domingo presided at the Mass which was attended by President Leonel Fernandez and other government leaders.
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 23, 2005 (CNA) - A second U.S. court of appeals today denied the replacement of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. The latest decision comes hours after an Atlanta court of appeals denied the same request on behalf of Terri's parents this morning.
Today marks the fifth day that Schiavo has gone without food or water since a court ordered action to remove the feeding tube last Friday.
Likewise, the Florida State Senate today, voted 10-2 to turn back a bill, also aimed at saving the 41-year old woman's life.
An attorney for Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri's parents said that although doctors think their daughter could survive for up to two weeks without food or water, by late Tuesday, Terri was already showing physical signs of starvation.
Dismayed protesters have grown ever more troubled as events have unfolded over the past week bringing action from both the U.S. Congress and President Bush.
10 protesters were arrested today outside of the Pinellas Park hospice where Terri resides for trying to bring her water.
Although hope is growing dim, and exhaustion is running high, Schiavo's parents and other pro-life groups have vowed to fight until the last possible minute.
Mary Schindler, Terri's mother told reporters outside of the hospice today, "When I close my eyes at night, all I can see is Terri's face in front of me, dying, starving to death."
Please, someone out there, stop this cruelty. Stop the insanity. Please let my daughter live."
Schindlers' only hope seems to hang on Governor Jeb Bush. The Governor and the head of the state's social services agency also said they have filed a petition with a Pinellas County trial court seeking to take custody of Schiavo. It cites new allegations of neglect and challenges Schiavo's diagnosis as being in a persistent vegetative state based on the opinion of a neurologist working for the state. The doctor observed Schiavo at her bedside but did not conduct an examination of her.
Bush and Department of Children & Families Secretary Lucy Hadi suggested they have authority to intervene on Schiavo's behalf regardless of the outcome of the bill in the Florida Legislature or a myriad of court decisions.