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Archive of March 29, 2005

Pope to have mountain named for him

Pescara, Italy, Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II will have a mountain in central Italy named for him on his 85th birthday, May 18, the BBC reported Thursday.

The 7,900-foot peak is in the Gran Sasso range, the highest range in the Appennines in the Abruzzo region.

"We decided on the Gran Sasso because the Pope visited it many times in order to get some rest as well as to pray," Msgr. Casolini reportedly said.

John Paul reportedly told pilgrims in St. Peter's Square once that in the Bible, mountains "were considered a special place to meet God."

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Catholic League connects ideology supporting Terri's death with Nazism

, Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - While Terri Schiavo struggles in her last days of life in a Florida hospice, some commentators in the press have already declared the 41-year-old woman dead. This is “obscene,” said Catholic League president William Donohue, likening the ideology that is supporting Schiavo’s death to Nazism.

Donohue pointed out that James Kutkowski, Jordan Ross and Jim Seeber of the University of Mississippi, Oklahoma State University and Northern State University, respectively have each stated that Schiavo is “already dead.” 

In particular, the president of the New York-based Catholic League focused on Christopher Hitchens, “a man whose comments are so obscene as to forever discredit him as a human-rights advocate for any cause.”

Donohue recounted how, on the MSNBC-TV show “Hardball” last week, Hitchens told him: “Mrs. Schiavo is dead and has been for some time.” Hitchens also described Schiavo as “nonlife” and wrote of her this week in the press as the “late and long-dead Terri Schiavo.”

Likening Hitchens’ position to those expressed during racist regimes in history, Donohue stated in a press release: “History has taught that deadly consequences follow when one segment of the human population declares another segment of the human population to be less than human.

“At various times in history, American Indians, Jews, African Americans, Asians, the unborn and infants have been classified as subhuman,” he said.

These people were dehumanized with terms like ‘parasites,’ ‘lower animals,’ ‘primitive animals,’ ‘inferior race,’ ‘inferior class of beings,’ ‘untamable, carnivorous animals,’ ‘beasts of burden,’ ‘sicklers,’ ‘transit material,’ ‘raw material,’ ‘anthropological specimens,’ ‘article of property,’ ‘rubbish,’ ‘garbage,’ ‘refuse’ and ‘nonpersons.’

“To this, Hitchens adds ‘nonlife,’” said Donohue.

Donohue then made a particular link between Hitchens’ position and Nazism: “Albert Speer, one of Hitler’s henchmen, once explained how it was possible for him to kill so many Jews.  He emphatically denied hating Jews, saying only that ‘I simply depersonalized them.’ Get it Hitchens?”

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Fargo Bishop says Jesus' words 'I thirst' echo struggle to save Terri Schiavo

, Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - As the Christian world focused its attention on the passion and crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday, Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota used his homily that day to speak out against the court-ordered starvation of 41-year old Terri Schiavo.

Schiavo, who today enters her 11th day without food or water, has been the center of a nationwide debate on human life and the so-called "right to die."

"Dehydrated, dying for us because of our sins that put him there, he utters the words, 'I thirst,'" said Bishop Aquila of Jesus. 

"Terri Schiavo is unable to utter the words," he continued. "She is totally innocent and yet who would have ever imagined, even 25 years ago, that some judges would permit a person to be starved and to be dehydrated to death."

Noting the question of Pontius Pilate, who was given the decision to crucify Jesus, and asked, 'What is truth?', the Bishop said, "That is the question that some of the judges have raised in the case of Terri Schiavo. That is the question that judges in 1973 raised with Roe versus Wade."

"My dearest brothers and sisters," he continued, "at times we are more like Pilate, washing our hands, asking the Lord, 'what is truth?'"

Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband has staged a nearly decade-long battle to have his wife's feeding tube removed, stating that she would have never wanted to stay alive in her current state.

Her parents however, have battled him every step of the way, desiring to care for their daughter until her natural death. They think that recovery is possible with therapy, which Michael has reportedly refused.

Bob Schindler, Terri's father spoke to reporters Monday after visiting his daughter at her hospice in Pinellas Park. "She's failing, but she's still with us," he said. "She has to be saved.

"I plead again that the powers-that-be don't give up on her. We haven't given up on her and she hasn't given up on us."

Terri's sister, Suzanne Vitadamo added that her sister "is wide awake and very responsive."

"She recognizes me, She's weaker but she's still trying to talk."

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3000 expected for Life Teen anniversary

Phoenix, Ariz., Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - On Memorial Day weekend this year, nearly 3000 teens and supporters will gather in Anaheim, California to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the international youth ministry, Life Teen.

The Arizona-based ministry announced that the star-studded weekend will include the Christian band, Third Day, Fr. Stan Fortuna, Matt Maher, Jesse Manibusen, and Dove music recipient Tom Booth.

Also present will be Life Teen spokesmen, Mike Sweeney of the Kansas City Royals, and

Matt Smith of MTV's Real World. Tom Wilson, who played Biff in the ‘Back to the Future’ movies, they added, will host opening Ceremonies.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Swanson said that the weekend will be “a time for members of the Life Teen family to gather, sing, pray, laugh, cry, and cherish some of the

life-changing moments from the past twenty years."

Now active in 19 countries, Life Teen says that their mission is to serve the Church and “leads teens closer to Christ by providing resources and training that encourage vibrant

Eucharist celebrations and opportunities for teens to grow in their faith.”

Since their founding in 1987 in Mesa, Arizona, more than 950 parishes worldwide have adopted the Life Teen model of ministry, with nearly 120,000 teens participating in weekly Life Teen Masses.

The group also boasts over 300 seminarians, who cite Life Teen as their main influence in pursuing the priesthood.

"Each former, current and future teen has a unique story,” Swanson added, “but one commonality is that they know of Jesus' love for them in the Catholic Church. We are honored to be a part of those stories."

More information on Life Teen can be found at www.lifeteen.com.

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Catholic teachers honored in Chicago with cash award

Chicago, Ill., Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - The staff of a Catholic grade school were recognized for excellence in teaching with the 2005 Cardinal’s Award for Teacher Achievement.

The $52,700 cash award went to St. Bruno School in the Archdiocese of Chicago, after the students showed one of the city's best improvements in standardized test scores, reported the Chicago Tribune.

The school was given the award at a school assembly Monday, with members of the archdiocesan staff and the Illinois General Assembly in attendance.

St. Bruno principal Loretta Conroy said the school's 29 staff will share the award.

The award is given to one school each year from the Big Shoulders Fund, an organization that supports Catholic schools.

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British cardinal links abortion with Nazi eugenics

London, England, Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - Britain’s top Catholic cleric has said the country’s policy on abortion is similar to Nazi Germany's eugenics experiments and killings, reported The Independent.

Some Jewish groups were angered by the link the cardinal made between abortion and the Holocaust. Rabbi Jonathan Romain, a spokesman for the Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, said he disagreed with cardinal.

But Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor has insisted that a "majority of the British people" agree with his views and they are uneasy with the abortion law.

In an article in The Sunday Telegraph March 27, the cardinal said abortion meant "the terrible truth is that it is the strong who decide the fate of the weak; human beings therefore become instruments in the hands of other human beings. That way lies eugenics, and we know from German history where that leads."

He has also defended making abortion a political debate ahead of the general election.

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Vatican observer reveals growth of “invisible Christians” in Holy Land

Rome, Italy, Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - In an article published Tuesday, Vatican observer Sandro Magister points out a relatively unknown but very important phenomenon for the survival of Christianity in the Holy Land: the arrival of the “invisible” Christians.

Magister writes in his weekly column for L’Espresso that according to statistics, the number of Christians belonging to the traditional communities of the Holy Land has been diminishing. 

Nevertheless, Magister observes that one Italian expert on religious issues reports that there are a significant number of Christians not included in the statistics and that “if they were counted, they would revolutionize” the Christian community in Palestine.

According to Elisa Pinna, quoted by Magister, the “invisible Christians” are of Jewish origin.  The majority of them arrived with the massive Jewish immigrations from Russia and the Ukraine which, between 1989 and 1993 brought more than one million people to Israel.

A study carried out in 1999 showed that of the 86,000 immigrants questioned, 53% could not be considered Hebrew before the law.

Orthodox and Christian leaders have noted that the number of non-registered Christians who arrived in the last wave of immigration could be 400,000 despite efforts at assimilation by the Israeli government.

The Christian community has responded with a “re-evangelization” campaign.  The Catholic Church has sent 10 Russian and Ukrainian speaking priests to work in the area.

The article by Magister, which also includes a “who’s who” of the Christians in the Holy Land, be found at: www.chiesa.espressonline.it/index.jsp?eng=y

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Quebec students stage mock crucifixion on Good Friday

Montreal, Canada, Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - Some Quebec university students staged a mock crucifixion on Good Friday to protest the government's decision to cut $103 million from student bursaries, reported the Canadian Press.

This is the latest in a series of protests against the provincial government, which announced the cutback in the fall. 

The theology students, who staged the crucifixion, stripped the student of her cap and gown and draped her in a white sheet with the words "Poor Students" on it.

She carried a cardboard cross along the streets, shouting: "I just want to study." All the while, fellow students, representing Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government, were whipping her. She was then taped to the cross.

The students said the protest was not meant to offend anyone and they argued Jesus was “a political activist.”

The Canadian Religious Conference and the Jeunes Etudiants Chrétiens (JEC) had expressed their support for the students’ plight earlier in March. They were unreachable for comment on the mock crucifixion due to the Easter holiday.

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Archbishop calls on Costa Ricans to abandon “cafeteria Christianity” and defend life

, Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Hugo Barrantes Urena of San Jose, Costa Rica, told Costa Ricans in his Easter message to embrace the faith without conditions or short-cuts and to defend the life of the unborn against efforts to legalize abortion.

The archbishop warned that “based on a relativistic understanding of the Christian faith and a conditional adherence to the Church, some Catholics seek to construct a Christianity and, consequently, a Church to their own liking, unilateral and outside the identity and mission that Jesus Christ has fundamentally given us.”

“We have been witnesses of the emergence of what some call ‘cafeteria Christianity,’ which is nothing more than the intention of having one’s ‘own church,’ constituted according to the dictates of one’s religious understanding,” he noted.

Archbishop Barrantes Urena underscored that the Church is not a “simple human creation” and that Catholics are not free to arbitrarily alter her essence by accepting what they find comfortable and rejecting whatever is challenging and difficult.

The archbishop also pointed to an increasing openness to unions and expression outside of marriage as major difficulties and obstacles for families.

He also decried the abortion mentality which ignores that all human life must be absolutely respected and protected from the moment of conception.  “From the first moment of his existence, man’s rights as a person, among which is the inviolable right off all innocent beings to life, must be recognized,” he demanded.

In this sense, the archbishop called on Catholics to “choose a culture of life, which means not only the denouncing of violence and , but also the announcing and cultivating of life as the supreme value desired by God.”

“Imitating the example of St. Paul, I exhort all the faithful of the Archdiocese of San Jose to assume the work of the Gospels, facing the battle of the faith based on the joy of the Resurrection,” he concluded.

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Spanish bishops to launch new pro-life campaign

Madrid, Spain, Mar 29, 2005 (CNA) - Coinciding with the tenth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae on April 4, the Bishops Conference of Spain announced it would launch a new pro-life campaign under the theme “All of us were embryos.”

It will be the third such initiative on matters of life and the family organized by the Conference.  Previously the bishops organized campaigns on euthanasia and marriage.

“Human life, a precious gift of God, is sacred and inviolable,” the bishops recall, pointing out that “human beings must be respected and treated as persons from the moment of conception and, therefore, from that moment their rights as persons, principally the inviolable right of all innocent human beings to life, must be recognized.”

The bishops will be distributing some six million pamphlets that picture a sleeping infant and a large family and provide details on embryonic research.

The bishops will also sponsor seminars and roundtable discussions at parishes and Catholic locals.  One such event will take place at the University of Navarre April 6-8 under the title, “Contemporary society and the culture of life.  On the tenth anniversary of ‘Evangelium Vitae’.”

The Subcommittee on Family and the Defense of Life of the Bishops Conference has issued a statement noting that all attacks on human life are “attacks against justice and constitute an offense to God.”

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