Vatican City, Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - Amid much speculation by worldwide media as to John Paul II's true condition following last month's tracheotomy surgery, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, head of the Vatican Press Office released a statement today calling the Holy Father's convalescence "slow and progressive," and added that a feeding tube is now assisting his food and water intake.
The statement said that, "The Pope spends many hours each day in an armchair, celebrates Mass in his private chapel and is in working contact with his collaborators, directly following the activity of the Holy See and the life of the Church.
"In order to improve the caloric intake and to favor a valid recuperation of strength," the press director added, "enteral nutrition has been started by placing a nasal-gastric probe (tube)."
Navarro-Valls added that, "All public audiences remain suspended," and that, "Health assistance is assured by the personnel of the Health and Hygiene Services of Vatican City under the direction of Dr. Renato Buzzonetti, the Holy Father's personal physician."
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - With time running out for the family of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, who today enters her 13th day without food and water, a glimmer of hope has emerged. An Atlanta federal appeals court has agreed to consider an emergency petition filed by Schiavo’s parents.
Late last night, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that it would consider a new hearing to reinsert a feeding tube which was removed by court order on March 18th, but was unclear as to when they would make the decision.
The court allowed Bob and Mary Schindler, Terri’s parents to file the emergency request even though they had originally set a March 26th deadline for doing so.
Although the court turned down the Schindler’s requests twice last week, the one-sentence order issued last night simply stated, “The Appellant's emergency motion for leave to file out of time is granted.”
The Schindlers argued that in denying their previous requests, the appellate court failed to decide if there was enough “clear and convincing” evidence that their daughter would have wanted to die in her current condition, as Terri’s husband Michael Schiavo maintains.
Terri has been in a brain-damaged state since 1990 and in recent years, has received food and water through a feeding tube, which her husband had staged a nearly decade-long battle to remove.
Although Terri’s family is holding on to prayerful hope for their daughter’s life, some wonder if the 41-year old woman could survive even with the feeding tube reinserted, after being starved and dehydrated for so many days.
Terri’s father told reporters that, “She still looks pretty darn good under the circumstances,” but added, “You can see the impact of no food and water for 12 days. Her bodily functions are still working. We still have her.”
The appeals court could announce as soon as today whether they will consider the new hearing and potentially keep Terri Schiavo alive.
Vatican City, Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II greeted thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square this morning with a brief appearance and blessing. Although he attempted to speak to the crowd, the Pope's words were not clear and the subsequent blessing was given in silence.
Faithful had gathered to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father on the traditional day of his weekly Wednesday audience.
John Paul appeared at the window of his study shortly after 11 a.m. for about 4 minutes. Crowds below greeted the 84-year old Pope with wild cheers and applause.
A Vatican aide read brief remarks written by the Pope in Italian, German who blessed the crowd at the end of the greetings.
In his message, the Holy Father said, "I greet the Italian language pilgrims, especially the boys and girls from the diocese of Milan who came to the tomb of Peter to express their faith in Christ who died and rose from the dead."
"Dear ones," he said, "may friendship with Jesus, our Redeemer, always illuminate your lives! Stay close to Him, through listening to His word and in active participation in the Eucharistic meal. Be His faithful witnesses, especially among your peers. I repeat to everyone with affection my Easter greetings."
He likewise extended greetings to the faithful from Germany, saying, "May the peace of the Risen One be always with you!"
Through the aide, the Pope especially thanked his fellow Poles "for your presence, for your expressions of benevolence and for accompanying me in prayer. With gratitude I am thinking of all Poles, at home and abroad. I bless you from my heart."
Pinellas Park, Fla., Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - The nation's top pro-life organizations are urging Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to exercise his executive authority and intervene to save the life of Terri Schiavo, whose feeding tube was removed March 18.
The pro-life groups joined to form the 11th Hour Coalition to Save Terri Schiavo's Life.
"It is unconscionable that Gov. Bush has not taken executive action to save the life of Terri Schiavo, an innocent woman being brutally murdered in a manner not witnessed publicly since the Nazis in World War II," said Paul Schenck of the National Pro-Life Action Center on behalf of the coalition.
"Frankly, we are baffled by the governor's recent assertion to the Associated Press that, '(he has) not seen any means by which the executive branch can get involved,'" Schenck said in a March 29 press release.
Schenck pointed out that the governor consulted with the Thomas More Law Center as to whether he had the executive authority to take Schiavo into protective custody. The Thomas More Law Center replied that he did, given that he is "vested with the supreme executive power" of the state.
"Given this compelling information, Gov. Bush's claim seems disingenuous," wrote Schenck. "He is the chief executive officer of the Florida state government, and therefore does not need the permission of the judiciary … or of the legislative branch to protect the innocent life of a citizen.
"Are we really to believe that the governor can commute the death sentence of a hardened criminal, but cannot stop the dehydration and starvation of a disabled American?" Schenck offered.
Schenck said the coalition appreciates all the governor has done to help Schiavo up until now, but it is not enough to stop there.
He suggested that governor must weigh whether he prefers to maintain his political power as governor at the expense of an innocent woman's life, or if he is "willing to ascend to the highest level of leadership, integrity and courage by saving Terri's life no matter what the personal consequence?"
Some of the coalition members include the National Pro-Life Action Center, Human Life International, Pro-Life Action League, Faith and Action, Priests for Life, Gospel of Life Ministries, National Clergy Council and Catholics United for Life.
, Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - Madonna's latest antic scandalized Catholics and drew a forceful reaction from the New York-based Catholic League. The pop star dressed up like a nun and her husband, Guy Ritchie, dressed up as the ailing Pope for a London party celebrating the Jewish holiday of Purim, reported the Daily News.
"It just goes to show you what a moral slug this man [Ritchie] is that he would get dressed up as the Pope at a time like this," Catholic League president William Donahue told the Daily News.
Madonna's rep Liz Rosenberg told the paper that no disrespect was intended, and she insisted that costumes are a traditional Purim rite. The singer recently embraced the Jewish mysticism of the kabbala.
"We're quite disappointed," Donahue reportedly told the Daily News. "We Catholics thought we had finally gotten rid of the witch when she discovered kabbala. In the event she discovers the Wiccan religion, the Catholic League would be happy to donate a proper [witch] costume to her. "
"And we would be ever so happy to send her husband a broom complete with instructions for what to with it."
San Antonio, Texas, Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - A Costa Rican cult, which continues to have Catholic followers in San Antonio, has been exposed as fraudulent and the cult leader as an imposter in a recent investigative report by News 4 WOAI.
Costa Rican Juan Pablo Delgado claims he has visions and receives messages from the Virgin Mary.
CNA reported in November 2003 that Archbishop-emeritus Patrick Flores of San Antonio and three Costa Rican bishops had denounced the Reina y Señora de Todo lo Creado (The Queen and Lady of All Creation). The cult has a reputation for violence in Costa Rica, and its members were preparing for the end of the world in December 2003.
News 4 WOAI obtained pictures taken inside Delgado's Costa Rican compound, which show him acting and dressing like a priest, with bloody wounds on his hands and feet, similar to those of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Journalist Brian Collister also interviewed a former cult member, who, over the past two years, traveled between San Antonio and Costa Rica to be near Delgado. She gave him thousands of dollars and even stayed at the Cost Rican compound where Delgado claims he has his visions.
Trevino claims Delgado is manipulating followers to get their money, and when he doesn't he can become violent.
She is suing Delgado for allegedly attacking her after she refused to give him money that he said the Virgin Mary told him she had to pay to atone for a sin.
Trevino then claims Delgado starting smashing her windows with rocks while other followers stood by and did nothing. She told the journalist that she now fears for her life after Delgado passed on a message to his followers that he claims came from the Virgin Mary.
"There was a message given where they have permission to kill me," she said.
The television crew also attested to the cult members' violent streaks. When the television news team showed up last year at the Costa Rican compound, cult members grabbed their camera and chased them off their property. One follower even threatened them with a hammer.
The cult also made headlines when former San Antonio priest Fr. Alfred Prado moved to Costa Rica in 2003 and joined the group as its spiritual adviser. Prado is accused of molesting boys more than 30 years ago at St. Timothy's Church.
Florence, Ariz., Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - The board of a proposed Catholic college in Arizona has announced that it is ready to start fundraising, reported the Arizona Republic. The College of John Paul of the Desert would be the first Catholic college in the state.
The school would be built on 33 acres of land, donated by Paul and Katie Felix in 1999.
While construction for the project has not yet begun, a freshman class of about 550 students is proposed for fall 2006. Annual tuition will be about $11,000.
The school was designed six years ago to function as a non-profit public charity, formally approved by the Diocese of Tucson. But the diocese has been reluctant in providing official authorization, and last year the school failed to maintain its public charity status, reported the Arizona Republic.
The college has since become an independent private foundation, making it eligible to receive deductible contributions.
Gary Greenberg, president of the college, said those involved are committed to providing an opportunity for "seriously religious young people to finish their growing in a Catholic institution."
The school seems to have a fair chance for success based on demographic information.
According to a 2000 study conducted by the Ohio-based Glenmary Research Center, Arizona is one of the top 10 states with the highest Catholic growth rate; about 19 percent of Arizonans identify themselves as Catholic.
Vatican City, Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - Doctors from the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, where Pope John Paul II underwent a tracheotomy, want the Pope to return for a general examination, according to a report in the Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera.”
The paper quotes anonymous sources at the Gemelli who say the Pope should return to the hospital in order for doctors to examine the tube that was inserted to facilitate breathing.
The same sources say doctors also want to review the Pope’s diet, as well as the condition of his lungs.
The examinations would require the Pope spend several days in the hospital.
The paper claims Vatican officials have acknowledged the need for the Pontiff to return to the hospital. The hospitalization would supposedly take place next week, but the paper says “the decision has yet to be made.”
Lima, Peru, Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - In his Easter greetings to the faithful, the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne said the Catholic identity of Latin America is the hope of the world.
The cardinal noted that during the Easter Triduum, “We have seen how people have filled the streets and churches; how many people have sought out a priest for confession or have spent hours at shrines in prayer to the Lord. This has been a plebiscite of the Catholic faith of our people which only inspires thankfulness to God in us pastors.”
“It is this silent majority that sustains our faith,” the Cardinal said, adding that they should be distinguished from the image portrayed in the media of people who are only concerned about power and challenge and abandon their faith.
This silent majority “is found in Latin America, making it the continent of hope, since deep in her soul is a great love of God, of His Church, of priests, of confession, of the Blessed Mother,” the cardinal stated.
He also criticized “the powerful in Europe, who have renounced their Christian identity,” referring to the decision to exclude a reference to Christianity in the European Constitution.
“Not everything is perfect on our continent, but there are many good people who pray, hope in God and try to do good,” he added.
The cardinal also decried the efforts by the media to silence Catholics and pressure them to relegate their faith exclusively to their private life rather than allowing it to shape their political and economic beliefs and actions.
Madrid, Spain, Mar 30, 2005 (CNA) - In a pastoral letter sent to the priests of his diocese, Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Tarazona, Spain, said they should they should wear the Roman collar as “a sign of God for mankind today,” and he reminded them that “simple people want to see priests as men of God.”
In his letter, which marked the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist, Bishop Fernandez wondered “why it is that in a secular society such as ours, priests are contributing to the erasing of all signs of God and hiding our consecrated nature by not dressing as priests.”
He also pointed to the same phenomenon among religious. “And so we complain about a secularized society, when we have been on the forefront in eliminating the signs that distinguish us and are signs of God for mankind today.”
In his letter, the bishop invites priests to celebrate the liturgy with great care, since “what we have in our hands is a great mystery of our faith, and not something we should mess around with.”
Bishop Fernandez recalled the need to do away with the idea that there is some kind of opposition between the laity and religious and instead build up the relationship between the two states of life in the Church. “We need to be clear that if there are more priests, there will be more laity as well,” he concluded.