Vatican City, Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican has officially announced that the Pope John Paul II’s blood pressure has dramatically dropped and he is now unconscious, but denied reports saying that the Pontiff has died.
The Pope’s health has been steadily declining for the last 48 hours. The Pope suffered heart and kidney failure yesterday and received the Sacrament of the Sick Thursday.
A Rosary in being held at St. Peter’s Square. The Rosary is being presided by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, vicar-general for the Vatican.
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome called on all Romans and all Italians to intensify their prayers for ailing Pope John Paul II, who, according to the Vatican, is now in "very grave condition."
The cardinal, who is president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, said in an announcement today that, "Due to the worsening condition of the Holy Father…We wish to be near him in this hour with that same loving closeness with which John Paul II has accompanied for us these nearly 27 years."
He also added that this evening at 7pm, a special Mass will be said for the Pope in St. John Lateran Basilica.
Added Cardinal Ruini: "I ask all parish communities, all religious in Rome to pray for the Holy Father, in churches and in individual families."
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican's spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the Pope experienced serious heart problems yesterday but that he is "conscious, lucid and extraordinarily calm."
An emotional Navarro-Valls said the Pope experienced septic shock, his "blood pressure is unstable" and he has "respiratory difficulties," although he remains "lucid, conscious and calm," "extraordinarily calm," he emphasized.
On Thursday the Pope showed signs of a urinary tract infection and developed a high fever.
All "necessary therapeutic and cardio-respiratory measures" were activated at the Apostolic Palace, he said.
Late Thursday doctors were able to stabilize the Pope but he remained in critical condition.
At 7:17 pm yesterday, Rome time, the Pope received the Anointing of the Sick, although today at 6:00am he celebrated Mass "calmly from his bed."
"The Pope, as you know, is being treated by his personal doctor, Renato Buzzonetti, two intensive care doctors, a cardiologist, an ear, nose and throat specialist and two nurses," Navarro-Valls explained.
This morning John Paul received several top aides, including Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano; undersecretary of state Archbishop Leonardo Sandri; the pope's vicar for Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini; Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger; the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo; American Cardinal Edmund Szoka, the governor of Vatican City; and Archbishop Paolo Sardi, the Vatican vice chamberlain.
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - During the press conference this morning on the state of Pope John Paul II's health, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls revealed the Pontiff requested a meditation on the Way of the Cross.
"The Pope has always been conscious," Navarro-Valls said. "Around 7:15am, remembering that today is Friday, the day on which ever since he was a young priest he has prayed the Way of the Cross, the Holy Father requested the 14 stations be prayed. He followed the prayers attentively. He made the sign of the cross during each of the stations."
Shortly after finishing the Way of the Cross," Navarro-Valls continued, "he asked to pray the Liturgy of the Hours."
He also said the Pope received visits from several of his collaborators.
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday evening, the Vatican weighed in on the death of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, who died yesterday morning following a two-week court-ordered starvation.
In a statement, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls said that, "The circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs. Terry Schiavo have rightly upset consciences. A life was interrupted. Death was arbitrarily anticipated, because feeding a person can never be considered as drastic therapy.
"There is no doubt", he continued, "that there can be no exceptions to the principle of the sacredness of life, from conception to its natural end. In addition to being a principle of Christian ethics, this has also been a principle of human civilization."
Navarro-Valls concluded with hopes that, "because of this dramatic experience, a greater awareness of human dignity will mature in public opinion and that this will lead to greater defense of life, even on a legal level."
Pinellas Park, Fla., Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - Hours after the death of 41-year old Terri Schiavo following a tumultuous decade-long legal battle, her sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, and brother, Bobby Schindler made a public statement of gratitude yesterday to those who have offered their prayers and support.
Speaking to a worldwide audience, the Schindlers said that, while they know "that many of you never had the privilege to personally know our wonderful sister… we assure you that you can be proud of this remarkable woman who has captured the attention of the world."
Terri's husband Michael Schiavo finally convinced courts in February that his wife would have never wanted to be kept alive in her brain-damaged state, and successfully lobbied to have the feeding tube, which provided her with food and hydration, removed.
From March 18th, until yesterday, family and supporters fought valiantly--all the way to the Supreme Court and President George Bush--to save their daughter from what would become immanent starvation
"After these recent years of neglect at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and care for her," Terri's brother and sister said, "she is finally at peace with God for eternity."
They added that, "Following the example of the Lord Jesus, our family abhors any violence or any threats of violence. Threatening words dishonor our faith, our family, and our sister, Terri. We would ask that all those who support our family be completely kind in their words and deeds toward others."
From lawyers, to doctors to religious leaders, government officials, and even those who cooked meals for the exhausted family, the Schindlers thanked all those "who have been so kind to our family through all of this."
Speaking to their sister herself, they said that "your life and legacy will continue to live on, as the nation is now awakened to the plight of thousands of voiceless people with disabilities that were previously unnoticed."
Your family intends to stand up for the other "Terri's" around this nation and we will do all that we can to change the law so others won't face the same fate that has befallen you."
Bobby and Suzanne concluded by asking, "What would the Lord Jesus ask us to do in a moment like this? In John's Gospel, Jesus responded to the questions of the rabbis, who asked why a man had been born blind. He said: "it is so that the works of God might be made manifest through him."
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - Today, the Vatican announced Pope John Paul's general prayer and mission intentions for the month of April.
For his main prayer intention, the Holy Father asks, "That Christians may live their Sundays more truly as days of the Lord dedicated in a special way to God and their neighbor."
Likewise, his mission intention for the month, focusing on the Church's call to evangelize all people is, "That every Christian community should have a burning zeal for holiness, so as to kindle many missionary vocations."
Pinellas Park, Fla., Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - Hours after the court ordered starvation of 41-year old Terri Schiavo had come to a tear-filled end yesterday, religious leaders and organizations around the world wasted no time speaking out against what Cardinal William Keeler, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called a “human tragedy.”
A nearly decade-long legal battle had ensued between Terri’s family, and husband Michael Schiavo, who claimed that his wife would never have wanted to be kept alive in her brain-damaged state.
A Florida judge eventually sided with Michael, and had Terri’s feeding tube, which provided her with food and hydration, removed on March 18th.
Cardinal Keeler added that, “We are all diminished by this woman's death, a death that speaks to the moral confusion we face today. Ours is a culture in which human life is increasingly devalued and violated, especially where that life is most weak and fragile.”
”We pray, he continued, that, “this human tragedy will lead our nation to a greater commitment to protect helpless patients and all the weakest among us.”
Rick Scarborough, acting chairman of the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, also expressed his sadness at Schiavo’s death and offered his heartfelt condolences to the Schindler family.
“Terri Schiavo's suffering is over,” he said, “God rest her soul. Now our mission is to ensure that there will be no more Terri Schiavos-- that no other disabled person is subjected to her cruel fate."
"The Schiavo case”, he added, “demonstrates the mortal danger of giving judges the unbridled power of life and death.”
Family Life International, a New Zealand group, said in a press release that, “Terri Schiavo’s cruel, inhumane and public execution at the hands of the medical and judicial system marks the beginning of a frightening new chapter in our human history. If we are prepared to tolerate and endorse an act such as this then what will come next?”
”It is alarming in our modern age of women’s rights awareness”, they said, “that Terri Schiavo’s life was viewed by the courts as being the property of her husband Michael and he was allowed to decide whether she should live or die.”
Rev. Rob Schneck, president of The National Clergy Council, which represents Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant church leaders, also spoke out yesterday saying: "Our hearts and prayers go out to Terri and her loving family. May the Lord comfort them in their grief. We must not forget Terri's struggle and what it means for our American civilization.”
“What we saw here”, he said, “was the first act of a blatant state-sanctioned murder of an innocent, disabled person. This is a new a terrifying threshold of public sin and must be dealt with swiftly. Our members will work immediately on every level to address and correct this grievous error.”
Beverly LaHaye, Founder and Chairman of Concerned Women for America said that, "There are simply not words to express our profound sorrow for the Schindler family, and the anguish they have experienced while watching Terri die such an excruciating death.”
We know that God will be faithful to comfort Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, and her siblings, Bobby and Suzanne, during this difficult time."
In addition, David Stevens, M.D., Executive Director of the 17,000-member Christian Medical Association, said that, “Terri's death reflects a failure of a medical system that failed to insist on a definitive diagnosis consensus, a legal system that failed to deliver due process, and a culture that failed to distinguish between artificially prolonging life and deliberately ending life.”
"Removing Terri's tube was done simply to remove a burdensome patient,” he said.
Vatican City, Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - Today, Pope John Paul II has appointed Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo, counselor to the apostolic nunciature in Lithuania, as the new apostolic nuncio to New Zealand, the Fiji Islands, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, Nauru, Kiribati, Palau, Cook Islands.
The new position will elevate Msgr. Balvo to the position of archbishop and make him apostolic delegate to the Pacific Ocean.
Archbishop-elect Balvo was born in New York, U.S.A., in 1951 and ordained to the priesthood in 1976.
Madrid, Spain, Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - Meeting with representatives of a homosexual group, Bishop Juan Jose Omella of Calahorra and La Calzada-Logroño of Spain said, “The Church understands their suffering and their pain” but does not agree with their ideas and “the manner of behavior of certain individuals and of these groups.”
According to the Spanish daily “La Razon,” which noted that “for the first time since 1994, a Spanish bishop has met with homosexual activists,” the bishop met with two representatives of the group “Gays and Lesbians From Here” at the end of February. According to Bishop Omella, the representatives wanted to “make known their sentiments and experiences and why they feel they are misunderstood.”
“My response was that the Church understands their suffering and their pain” but does not agree with their ideas and “the manner of behavior of certain individuals and of these groups,” said Bishop Omella.
“As a person and as a Christian, I try to respect each human being with their joys and sufferings, because the Christ of the Gospel is always close to all.” However, referring to the Gospel passage on the adulterous woman, Bishop Omella recalled that, “Jesus told her, ‘Go in peace,’ but he added, ‘and sin no more’,” reported La Razon.
According to the bishop, he met with the representatives because he “meets with all those who knock on his door.”
The Church “understands and feels close to homosexual persons, but the gay lobbys cannot impose incorrect parameters on society.”
“I left the meeting with the impression that it hurts them that people do not understand their position, but I have been faithful to the traditional teaching of the Church,” added the bishop, pointing out that “the followers of Jesus also have their faults and failings, but we trust in the mercy of God, without promoting something that we know is not normal.”
Rome, Italy, Apr 1, 2005 (CNA) - In a sharply written article, Italian Catholic journalist Vittorio Messori has responded to the criticisms of dissident German theologian Hans Küng, who says he has grown tired of waiting for the Pope to die and has published an insulting "review" of John Paul's pontificate in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
In his article, Küng lays out eleven supposed contradictions of the Pope and blames him for "the rejection of women in the Church, the spread of AIDS, the loss of vocations, ecumenical decline and the 'inquisitional' attack against theologians who are critical of the Vatican."
Messori says the complaints by Küng are nothing new. Küng had prepared the article months ago and had wanted to publish it after the death of John Paul II. "The Swiss-German theologian probably has gotten tired of waiting. It’s been years since the Corriere della Sera asked me to respond to another article by Küng in which he predicted (for the good of the Church, naturally) the imminent demise of the Pope. And not in the sense of his retirement, but rather in the sense of his death, because otherwise even from his place of retirement he could have influenced the Conclave and determined the election of a cardinal of his kind. And for our theologian this would have been the worst of misfortunes," said Messori, according to a translation of the article in the Spanish newspaper "La Razon."
Messori notes that Küng has not changed his tune one bit since almost the first moment of John Paul II's election as Pope. During the 25 years of his pontificate, in which empires have fallen and cultural perspectives have been shaped, Küng, "deprived for some time now of his title of 'Catholic theologian,' continues to repeat the same things."
Küng's ideas remain those of the mid 1970's, writes Messori, when young priests were awed by the discovery of sociology, psychology, psychoanalysis and all of the "isms," from feminism to socialism. They discovered democracy and they want to apply it in the Church as well. They discovered sexuality and if they didn't leave the priesthood or religious life, like one-third of priests and nuns did, they claimed they could exercise it while remaining in the clerical or religious life. They sought to live like the laity, throwing out their cassocks and Roman collars but holding on to their comfortable status as religious. They discovered the Protestant Reformation, five centuries later, and bragged that it was something new and modern, Messori noted.
While many priests tried to marry Marxism with the Gospels, Küng took as his reference point the secular, opulent and liberal ideas of Northern Europe and organized his theological work like a corporate manager.
"It's clear he had nothing in common with another priest--the Archbishop of Krakow--who came from a Poland where the faith was almost heroic, where popular devotion crossed paths with daily life, where the Virgin Mary was ever-present, were secularism reared its ungodly head and, instead of attracting people, inspired fear and horror, where the catechism was still followed and where the elegant 'papers' by theologians of the Western universities were not read," Messori underscored.
The world doesn’t know what to do with the theories of the 70’s, Messori continued. Believers today are not interested the type of ideas promoted by Küng. “They are not interested in electing their parish priest or bishop, they are not frustrated that their daughters cannot go to the seminary, but they are willing to listen to a priest, probably one who is dressed as such, who will talk to them about God and Christ like they used to do before.”
“Has nobody told Father Küng,” asked Messori, “that if so many people from the most Catholic of the continents, Latin America, are joining the crazy Protestant sects or going back to the Afro-American cults, it’s because they are precisely searching for those things that they no longer are getting from certain Catholic priests” who claim to be choosing the poor but whom the poor have not chosen?
”More than defending the pontificate of John Paul II from the deluge of accusations against him and those who are faithful to him…we need to show how the Küng alternatives are the not the best answer to the problems of the Church. These problems exist today and have always existed. But, in order to address them, we need much more than the prescriptions of an ideological ‘modernism’ that been overcome by history and exposed for its limitations and risks,” Messori countered.