Vatican City, Mar 24, 2005 (CNA) - Holy Thursday celebrations began today at the Vatican with the Chrism Mass celebrated by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. During his homily he thanked Pope John Paul II for his “serene abandonment to God.”
The cardinal referred to the importance of Holy Thursday for priests, recalling that “today in particular is the feast of those of us who have been consecrated through the sacrament of Holy Orders: deacons, priests and bishops.” “We are invited not only to renew our commitments related to ordination, but also to revive the freshness of the feelings that inspired us to give ourselves to the Lord,” he said.
“We are called to be of service to men and women, in the name of God, and to do so in ways characteristic of the Good Shepherd. And this requires in a special way that we follow Christ more closely and with greater fidelity,” he went on.
“The spiritual good of many people, and perhaps even the salvation of many, is related to our holiness of life and our pastoral work. Through our fidelity to our priestly commitments, we can sustain our brothers and sisters in faithfulness to their Christian duties,” the cardinal said.
“We want to renew the initial ‘yes’ of our own vocational story, that is, the decision to put Christ Jesus at the center of our existence and at the apex of our interests,” Cardinal Re added.
“We also profoundly desire to renew, despite our weaknesses, the commitment to being witnesses of the love of God, such that through our humility, the love of God might reach those whom we encounter on our way,” he stated.
Lastly, the cardinal told the faithful present at St. Peter’s Basilica that Pope John Paul II was “more than ever present at this Chrism Mass, and we want to thank him for the testimony he continues to give us and also for his serene abandonment to God, which unites him to the mystery of the Cross.”
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 24, 2005 (CNA) - The Supreme Court this morning rejected an appeal on the part of the parents of brain damaged Terri Schiavo to reinsert a feeding tube which would prevent their daughter from starvation, but the battle for her life still continues in Florida.
The ruling comes after yesterday's tumultuous day of legal struggles in the battle to keep Schiavo alive.
Yesterday, two different appeals courts denied bids to have Terri fed again. The 41-year old woman has been without food or water since the court ordered removal of her feeding tube last Friday.
The Florida Supreme Court likewise denied an appeal by the Schindlers.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who oversees emergency appeals cases in the 11th U.S. circuit--where Terri currently resides, turned the case over to other members of the Court who, for the fifth time, refused to hear it.
Meanwhile, Florida state lawyers have appealed to Judge George Greer, who ordered the feeding tube removed last Friday after ruling in favor of Terri's husband Michael Schiavo, who says that his wife would not have wanted to be kept alive in her current state.
The new appeal involves charges of abuse on the part of Michael Schiavo, on which, Judge Greer should rule by noon today.
In addition, the Florida Department of Children and Families has issued a petition citing board-certified neurologist, Dr. William Polk Cheshire, who claims to have information "that seriously challenges the diagnosis that Mrs. Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state."
Florida Governor Jeb Bush has promised to do "everything in my power" so see the Schiavo's feeding tube is replaced.
"This new information raises serious concerns and warrants immediate action," he said.
Outside of the hospice where her daughter resides, an emotional Mary Schindler told reporters that Terri is "fading fast."
"Please, senators," she said, "for the love of God, I'm begging you, don't let my daughter die of thirst."
In an effort to save Terri Schindler-Schiavo from the court ordered death by starvation, the Society for Truth and Justice requested and delivered several legal briefs that explain to Governor Jeb Bush that he has the legal authority to save Terri Schiavo despite the courts' rulings.
If later today Judge Greer decides against giving the custody of Terri to the State, Bush can still decide to abide by the courts or to act against them on the grounds that the executive power is an independent, equally authoritative branch of government.
Vatican City, Mar 24, 2005 (CNA) - In a message that was both poignant and reassuring, Pope John Paul II told the faithful that he was "spiritually present" in the celebrations for Holy Thursday.
"With my mind and with my heart I am close to you, united by the tomb of the Apostle Peter for the Holy Mass of Our Lord's Supper," the Pope said in his message.
Due to a recent tracheotomy and ailing health, the Pope was unable to celebrate Holy Thursday mass for the first time in his 26-year pontificate. Alfonso Cardinal López Trujillo of the Congregation for the Family presided at the mass at St. Peter's Basilica in the 84-year-old pontiff's place.
In his message, read during the mass, the Pope urged Catholics to return spiritually to the Lord's Last Supper. The celebration of Holy Thursday, which recalls Christ's institution of the Eucharist, is a significant moment in the Year of the Eucharist, he said.
"On this evening of Holy Thursday, Christ invites us to return spiritually with him to the Last Supper to make us enter profoundly into the mystery of Easter," he said.
On the eve of his death, Christ made two significant gestures, which every year are repeated in the liturgy, said the pontiff.
First, he washed the feet of the Apostles, giving them "an example of a love that is expressed through humble and concrete service," said the Pope.
"Then," he continued, "he consecrated the bread and the wine, sacraments of his Body and Blood, given in sacrifice for our salvation."
He asked for Mary's intercession to help the faithful be attentive to this "inestimable mystery of Divine Love," which is the Eucharist.
"Spiritually present, I pray with you, and with affection I bless you all," he concluded.
Vatican City, Mar 24, 2005 (CNA) - The celebration and proclamation of the Eucharist and the Pascal Mystery are like oxygen for the whole Church and continually rejuvenate the community of the faithful, said Alfonso Cardinal López Trujillo on Holy Thursday.
Cardinal Trujillo presided at the 5:30 p.m. mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on behalf of Pope John Paul II. This is the first Holy Thursday mass that the Pope has not celebrated in his 26-year pontificate.
"In this Year of the Eucharist, we see cleary how the Church lives by the Eucharist," said the head of the Congregation for the Family. "The Eucharist is the whole of the Pascal Mystery."
In his homily, the cardinal also spoke of the alienation and dehumanization in the current society. "The tragedy of man resides in not understanding how much he is loved by God," he said.
Man is often closed to the dialogue of love that God initiated at the time of Creation, and this mentality has often led man to view God as an obstable to his liberty and freedom, the cardinal explained.
But this is a "false dilemma," said the cardinal, for the love of God redeems and liberates.
He cited the Pope repeated denunciations of the "ideology of evil" - an ideology rooted in the refusal of the profound nature of humanity.
This ideology is evident in certain current political projects that run counter to the identity and the mission of the family and the dignity of life, which are inseparable and desired by God for the love of all humanity, the cardinal said.
In a culture that privileges pleasure, fears great suffering and idolizes empty models of truth, "the Master exerts of his disciples to take the cross" and "the Church invites us to adore the one Lord, Tu solus Dominus," Cardinal Trujillo said.
"It is a scandal when those who say they are Chirstian betray this love [of God] with violence, alienation, and contempt for the poor; it is an abuse that - invoking the name of God and even in the name of God - they plant hatred, conflict and terrorism," the cardinal continued.
"The weekest, the innocent, the defenseless, the sick are often considered a heavy burden," the cardinal continued. "Man is not the arbitrator of life and cannot deny this precious gift. We cannot hate that which God loves.
"The Eucharist," he said, "softens the heart of the human family for the poor and the needy ... and in recognition and respect of the rights of man and the rights of the family, which are fundamental."
The cardinal then offered prayers for the ailing Pope: "Immersed in this Pascal Mystery, our fervent prayer is for the Holy Father, strenous defender and witness of true quality of life."
The mass continued with the washing of the feet of 12 priests, reenacting Christ's actions when he washed the feet of his 12 Apostles.
The collection at the mass was entrusted to the Holy Father to be redirected to the Venezuelan people, who were struck with a devastating flood in February.
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 24, 2005 (CNA) - As options slowly deplete for the family of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, a Florida state judge has now denied a request to hear Governor Jeb Bush's arguments in favor of saving the 41-year old woman's life.
Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, which has provided her with food and water for over a decade, was removed by court order last Friday at the request of her husband Michael Schiavo.
Since then, a legal battle involving the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, President Bush, two appeals courts, the Florida State Senate and many exhausting emotions, has ensued.
Governor Bush's request had cited charges of abuse and neglect on the part of Schiavo's husband as well as new medical evidence suggesting that the woman's state might not be as severe as once thought.
Florida judge George Greer, who originally ordered the feeding tube removed denied Bush's request claiming he was not convinced by the new arguments.
Experts say that Governor Bush now has the legal authority to replace Schiavo's feeding tube if he chooses to utilize it.
Richard Thomson, one of the prosecutors of assisted suicide doctor, Jack Kevorkian, said that he is asking the governor "to initiate an independent criminal investigation based on a list of facts that suggest criminal wrong doing."
He said that, "We have outlined for the Governor some of these facts, and confirmed his Constitutional authority to act. The fact that he has chosen to confuse the public by referring to the civil case, completely ignoring the request that we presented, reveals a lack of moral courage and political will. We expect the Governor to do the right thing, and so far, he has refused to do so."
Governor Bush can be contacted at his office at (850)488-4441 or (850)488-5603 or e-mail [email protected]
The group Concerned Women for America has also spoken out, severely criticizing the Supreme Court for their denial today to hear Schiavo's case.
Jan LaRue, CWA's chief counsel said that, "It's tragic that the Supreme Court's 'evolving standards of decency' haven't evolved enough to protect Terri Schiavo…You'd think that a Court that prohibits states from executing retarded, convicted murderers would prohibit the state ordered death of an innocent woman when there's so little evidence of her wishes."
"How could any court find it clear and convincing evidence sufficient to order a woman's death by starvation?" she asked, "If this satisfies constitutional due process, God help us."