Archive of April 6, 2005

Vatican confirms: Conclave will begin on April 18th

Vatican City, Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced yesterday that the College of Cardinals, now gathered in Rome to elect the Church’s 265th pope, will begin their conclave on April 18th.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Director, made the announcement following the fourth General Congregation of cardinals, held yesterday at the Vatican. Presently, 117 cardinals gathered from around the world will choose the successor to Pope John Paul II.

Navarro-Valls said yesterday that, "There were 116 cardinals present [at the General Congregation], 31 of whom are newly arrived, who swore their prescribed oath.”

"In today's general congregation”, he continued, “the cardinals were informed of both the official delegations coming from throughout the world for the funeral of the Holy Father on Friday morning, and the delegations from diverse Christian denominations and from other religions.”

The press director noted that, "The cardinals also considered several particular questions relative to the funeral Mass of the Holy Father and the celebrations of the 'novendiali', (nine official days of mourning with a Mass each day for the Holy Father) in particular for the 'cappelle papali' of Saturday, April 9, Tuesday, April 12 and Saturday, April 16.

Many in Rome had hoped that John Paul’s body would be brought to St. John Lateran Basilica on Friday--after the funeral but before the burial—for those who were unable to venerate it this week at St. Peter’s Basilica.

“After attentively studying the matter”, Navarro-Valls said, “it was concluded that this hypothesis was not technically possible. Therefore, as pre-announced, the burial in the Vatican Grottoes will take place immediately after the funeral Mass.”

The cardinals also read the Will of the Holy Father yesterday morning and have decided to publish it today in both its original Polish and in also the Italian language.

Navarro-Valls said that the first day of the conclave would begin with a “votive Mass 'pro eligendo papa' in the Vatican Basilica. In early afternoon the cardinals will enter into conclave in the Sistine Chapel.”

The Vatican spokesman added that before his death, the Holy Father “did not communicate the name of the cardinal reserved 'in pectore' in the consistory of October 2003.”

Bishops and cardinals ministering in politically or otherwise dangerous areas are sometimes ordained secretly, or ‘in pectore’ so as to assure their safety and the continuity of the Church in those regions.

“Therefore,” Navarro-Valls said, “this is no longer a question."

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Bush, world dignitaries descend on Rome for papal funeral

Washington D.C., Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - As the onslaught of pilgrims continues to descend on Rome, the city is simultaneously preparing for the arrival of some 200 heads of state and numerous world dignitaries coming to pay their last respects at Pope John Paul II’s Friday funeral Mass.

Among them will be President George W. Bush, accompanied by his wife Laura, who will lead an official delegation of five from the U.S.

“Laura and I are looking forward to leading a delegation to honor the Holy Father,” the president said at a recent news conference.

Although not on the official funeral guest list, many U.S. senators are also planning a trip to Rome to pay their last respects to the pope. The group, led by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn), will join over 2 million other pilgrims to say farewell to the pontiff.

The number of dignitaries is unprecedented in recent years for a papal funeral.

Not a single president attended the funeral of John Paul II’s predecessor, John Paul I, and only three heads of state were present at the burial of Pope Paul VI in 1978.

Although most countries only sent ambassadors or other representatives in latter years, Rome will become the center of the world on Friday, as the body of the Polish-born Holy Father is laid to rest in a crypt underneath St. Peter’s Basilica.

Religious leaders from around the world will also be present for the funeral including heads of the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches, respectively; the Armenian Apostolic Church, two major Jewish groups and some 17 delegations from other Christian denominations.

Many credit the world attention to the pope’s extensive travel. John Paul was said to have been seen in person by more people than any other human being in history.

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Former Vatican diplomat calls Pope ‘a man of peace’

Denver, Colo., Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - As millions prepare for Pope John Paul II’s Friday funeral in the Vatican, former U.S.-Vatican ambassador Jim Nicholson shared his thoughts and memories of a pope who was all at once, a champion for peace and a man with a disarming sense of humor.

"He was such an extraordinary, epic person and had this aura about him; he was a humble man who looked you in the eyes when he shook your hand," Nicholson said on Sunday.

Nicholson, who is a former Colorado developer and currently secretary for Veterans affairs in that state served as the U.S.’s ambassador to the Vatican for three and a half years under the current Bush administration.

He said that Pope John Paul and the president “really hit it off” and that, “The president's views on the sanctity of life, the culture of life, were reinforced by the pope."

President Bush visited the pope in the Vatican more times than any other U.S. president.

Nicholson noted that his most vivid memory of the pope was praying with him after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

He said that John Paul called them "not just an attack on the United States but upon humanity. Humanity would have to take steps against those people who would kill in the name of God.”

“He was a man of peace, but not a pacifist,” the diplomat added.

Nicholson also fondly noted John Paul’s sense of humor, recalling the pope’s reaction to media speculation about his lack of mobility. He said that the pope shot back, "Tell them I don't run the church with my feet."

He also reminisced about a meeting with the cardinal of Detroit, who asked the pope, "'How are you feeling this morning, Holy Father?' And the Holy Father replied, 'I don't know yet, I haven't had the chance to read the American press.' "

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St. Louis remembers papal visit, mourns with faithful worldwide

St. Louis, Mo., Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - Shortly following Pope John Paul II visit to St. Louis in 1999, then Archbishop Justin Rigali said that, “It is not too soon to say that the Pastoral Visit of Pope John Paul II to the Archdiocese of St. Louis has been a spiritual event of lasting significance for more people than can ever be counted.”

That lasting impact can still be felt today as St. Louis joins with the rest of the world in mourning a man who is already being hailed as ‘John Paul the Great.’

Archbishop Rigali had said that so many of those he had spoken to in St. Louis and beyond spoke “of a deepened faith in our Lord Jesus Christ on account of the Pope's visit.”

“So many”, he said, “have spoken of a renewed pride in being members of the Catholic Church! And so many have spoken of a heightened sense of solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as with all people of good will who have experienced the blessings which have been the fruit of the Pope's time in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.”

Archbishop Raymond Burke, who currently shepherds the St. Louis Archdiocese said Saturday that, “Through his numerous pastoral visits, he has brought truth and love of Christ the Good Shepherd to every corner of the earth.”

“The Archdiocese of Saint Louis”, he added, “witnessed directly his universal pastoral charity during his visit to the Archdiocese on January 26th and 27th of 1999.”

“The Holy Father”, Archbishop Burke said, “has been for me a constant source of inspiration, encouragement and strength in carrying out the challenging mission of Bishop and Archbishop. I shall always be profoundly grateful to him. His life and ministry will continue to inspire, encourage and strengthen me.”

In his Wednesday homily at the city’s TWA Dome--usually the home to the St. Louis Rams football team, that day, home to scores of faithful—John Paul said that, “St. Louis has been the Gateway to the West, but it has also been the gateway of great Christian witness and evangelical service.”

Noting the “immense heritage of holiness and service” in the area, the Holy Father told St. Louis that, “Out of that heritage you must draw inspiration and strength for the new evangelization so urgently needed at the approach of the Third Christian Millennium.”

“In the holiness and service of St. Louis’s own Saint Philippine Duchesne,” the pope challenged, “and of countless faithful priests, religious and laity since the Church’s earliest days in this area, Catholic life has appeared in all its rich and varied splendor. Nothing less is asked of you today.”

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Bishop Aquila: John Paul II gave ‘hope to the world’

, Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - Just hours after Pope John Paul II’s death at the Vatican Saturday, Bishop Samuel Aquila, of the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota added his voice to the millions worldwide who are praising the Pope as ‘John Paul the Great.’

Bishop Aquila, who was a priest in the Archdiocese of Denver during the Holy Father’s 1993 visit there, said that, “Even in infirmity he continued to boldly lead the Church and her faithful across the threshold of a new millennium, giving hope to the world and Church by his faithful witness to Jesus Christ.”

The bishop noted that, “Throughout his priestly and episcopal life and during the 26 years of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II has given the Catholic Church and the world a faithful example of what it means to be a good shepherd and loving father of his flock.” 

“Through the exercise of his papal ministry,” he added, “in his travels, his encyclicals, his devotion to Jesus Christ, the sacramental life of the Church and to Mary, and most of all in his love for young people, he invigorated the life of the Church at the end of the 20th century.

As cardinals from around the world prepare to enter the conclave in which they will elect a new pope, Bishop Aquila encouraged the faithful to “look with confidence to the Holy Spirit to guide the Church and its cardinals toward the advent of a new papacy and a new chapter in the history of the Catholic Church and the world as we journey to our true home in heaven.”

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‘St. John Paul, one day,’ says Supreme Knight

Montreal, Canada, Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - The Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus believes that the universal Church will one day canonize Pope John Paul II, who died April 2 after a 26-year pontificate.

“He was a man of great spiritual strength, great holiness,” Anderson said in an interview. “In think historians one day will call him John Paul the Great, and one day Catholics will call him St. John Paul.”

Anderson was in Montreal April 2 for a banquet in honor of Jean Vanier, the recipient of the Knights’ Gaudium et Spes Award. Only hours earlier, the world received the news that the Pope had died.

“It is a day of tremendous sadness, mostly for us,” Anderson said. “For him, he was always a man of faith, a man of hope. He spoke of crossing the threshold of hope and that’s what he did today. So those of us who have been praying for him these many days, I think many of us will begin praying to him, for his intercession and for his help.”

Anderson said he had many occasions to meet with the Pope, attend mass with him in his private chapel and share meals with him in the papal apartments. He also spoke of the relationship the Pope had with the Knights of Columbus and the numerous projects of the Pope, which the Knights supported.

“And perhaps the greatest blessings was to attempt to enter into his renewal that he was leading in the Church, whether that was the pastoral care of the family, helping to build the culture of life, devotion to Mary, devotion to Our Lord as Divine Mercy,” Anderson said. “All of these things were wonderful initiatives for him and enriched so many of our lives.”

“It’s clear that the Pope saw in the Knights an organization that is dedicated to Gospel values, charity and unity, dedicated to building a culture of life,” Anderson said. “I think it’s clear that he was very close to us and very supportive of what we were trying to do.”

Anderson and his wife will attend the funeral mass of Pope John Paul II at the Vatican Friday.

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Pope John Paul is a ‘sign of the glory of God’: Jean Vanier

Montreal, Canada, Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II is a “sign of the glory of God,” said Jean Vanier.
The founder of L’Arche, an international federation of community houses for people with intellectual and physical disabilities, was in Montreal April 2 to receive the prestigious Gaudium et Spes Award from the Knights of Columbus.

The evening event was unexpectedly eclipsed by the death of Pope John Paul only a few hours earlier. All of the speakers that evening, who stood to pay tribute to Vanier, also took the time to pay tribute to the Pope.

Vanier, a longtime friend of the Pope, said he was shocked, saddened and very moved by the news of his death.

Upon receiving the award, he told the dinner crowd of about 300 Knights of Columbus and their wives at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel about his last meeting with the Pope in Lourdes Aug. 14-15.

There, Vanier said, he had the “privilege of meditating on the Luminous Mysteries in front of [the Pope]. And the third Luminous Mystery is the announcing of the kingdom. I said that the kingdom is for the poor. It’s the first beatitude: Blessed are the poor, theirs is the kingdom.

“And I said that looking at John Paul II in the eyes because he was just in front of me,” Vanier continued. “John Paul II, our Pope, is a sign of the glory of God because the glory of God is the manifestation of His presence in the weak. And John Paul II was in so many ways weak.”

In his thank-you address for the Gaudium et Spes Award, Vanier said: “I hear people saying: ‘You are doing wonderful work.’ I don’t want to do wonderful work. I want to do something for Jesus, for humanity, because I believe in Jesus. I believe in humanity. And I believe in the love of Jesus for each person.”

He spoke of the Gospel message of compassion and forgiveness and of the healing power of the poor and the broken.

“People with disabilities,” he said, “don’t have a great deal of intellectual capacity, but they have an incredible capacity for love and they are teaching us that compassion and forgiveness are the way to Jesus.”

He also asked the Knights to pray for L’Arche so that it can continue to be a sign in a broken world and “continue on this journey that Jesus has called us to so we can be faithful to the poor and the weak.”

The prize included $100,000, which Vanier said will be used to pay off a loan that was taken to build two new L’Arche houses—one in Mexico and the other in Haiti.

Honoring the mission of L’Arche

“The award is meant to symbolize the pastoral mission of the Church … and to honor those, who by their life’s work, exemplified the values of the Gospel,” explained Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

What began when Vanier invited two disabled men to live with him in a dilapidated house is now an international federation of 130 community houses for the disabled in 30 countries, 26 in Canada and 15 in the United States, said Bishop Thomas Daly, Supreme Chaplain, in reading the citation for Vanier.

There are also more than 1,400 communities of Faith and Light in 75 countries. Faith and Light offers regular activities to the disabled and their families, creating a community of support and friendship.

“We honor a man of joy, a man of hope, a man of peace and a man who sees that every human being has an immense value and dignity and that expresses a profound and unique way the creative love of the Almighty,” said Bishop Daly.

“One cannot really help but think of the Holy Father who obviously dedicated himself to every single human being as the image of God,” the bishop continued. “And Jean Vanier, like the Holy Father, surely strives to see in every single human being the face of Jesus Christ.”

Vanier is the first layperson to receive the Gaudium et Spes Award, which was first conferred to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 1992.

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Catholic school students celebrate the life of Pope John Paul II

, Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - The last few days have been a time of prayer, reflection and celebration of the life of Pope John Paul II for the students and staff of Rockland County’s Catholic schools.

A number of prayer services, including the rosary, and memorial masses have been organized in the county’s Catholic schools this week.

Students at St. Paul's School in Valley Cottage are to pray the rosary for John Paul II each day, culminating in a memorial Friday. Students at Immaculate Conception School in Stony Point will also attend a memorial mass.

The students at Albertus Magnus High School discussed the Pope's legacy and death in religion and psychology classes, reported The Journal News. The staff also created a small shrine to the Pope in the school lobby, and the sign outside the school read: "In loving memory of Pope John Paul II 1920-2005."

Student Pat Volpe, 17, told The Journal News that he thought the Pope was an “influential person” and “a role model” for youth. "As kids we always looked up to him,” he said.

Another senior at Albertus High School, Maura O’Hagan, considered Pope John Paul to be “a really, really holy man.”

“It's very sad that he died — we've been watching him slowly deteriorate — but nearly everyone honored him,” the 17-year-old was quoted as saying. “I think while he was Pope, he did an outstanding job involving all sorts of people in the Catholic Church whether they were Catholic or not and regardless of age."

The Archdiocese of New York has organized a special mass at 1 p.m. today at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan for children from the Catholic schools.

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Pope John Paul ‘transcended national and religious boundaries’

Ann Arbor, Mich., Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - The life of Pope John Paul II “truly represents one of the most profound in modern human history,” said the Thomas More Law Center in a statement on the death of Pope John Paul II, who died April 2 at the age of 84.

The statement highlights the Pope’s persistence in “calling all people to a life of prayer, holiness and dedication to Jesus Christ in the midst of a fallen world.

“He warned not only Catholics but also all people of goodwill, of the ‘enormous and dramatic clash’ between the culture of life and the culture of death, between good and evil,” the statement reads.

“As a champion of life, he boldly proclaimed the responsibility of all people to build communities of faith and respect for the inherent dignity of every human being.”

The statement pointed out that the third-longest reigning Pope “spoke out against abuses of the human person and rejected the selfishness of the West manifested in abortion, homosexuality, and the destructive forces of materialism and secularism. He once stated: ‘A nation that kills its own children has no future.’”

The Pope “faithfully protected the traditions and doctrines of the Catholic Church, defending them with intellectual vigor and pastoral discernment.”

The first Polish Pope “transcended national and religious boundaries by calling all people to a life of faith and hope,” the statement reads. “He will forever be remembered by the first words of his pontificate: ‘Be Not Afraid!’”

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Terri Schiavo remembered at Catholic funeral mass

Gulfport, Fla., Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) -

A funeral mass was celebrated in memory of Terri Schindler Schiavo yesterday. Her parents arranged the mass, which was attended by 800 people, some of whom sat and stood outside the church to listen to the mass over the loudspeakers, reported The Associated Press.

But Schiavo’s cremated remains were not present. Her husband will bury their daughter’s cremated remains at a separate service.

Fr. Thaddeus Malanowski, who gave Schiavo last rites before she died March 31, celebrated the mass at Most Holy Name of Jesus Church.

A photo of Schiavo, taken in the 1980s before she suffered brain damage, was placed on a table by the altar, next to a photo and gold bust of Pope John Paul II, who died two days later.

The Schindlers had opposed the cremation and hoped to bury their daughter in Florida. But her husband, Michael Schiavo, ordered her cremation and said her ashes will be buried in his family's plot in Pennsylvania, the state where Terri grew up and met her husband.

The Schindlers had asked a judge to let her be buried in Florida so they could visit the grave, but he refused to intervene.

Michael Schiavo has not said when the memorial service will be held, but he is under a court order to notify her parents.

"At this time, now that Terri has gone to meet our Lord, I continue to hope and pray that all of Terri's family members may seek and find healing and peace from God," Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg said in a statement.

The 41-year-old brain-damaged woman died 13 days after her feeding tube was removed.

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Terri Schiavo's death was murder, says Fr. Pavone

, Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - The leader of a national pro-life organization reiterated his previous statements yesterday that Terri Schiavo’s death was murder.

"Terri Schiavo was in fact murdered by being deprived of food and water for 13 days,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. The priest had received criticism for making that same statement immediately following Schiavo’s death last week.

The 41-year-old brain-damaged woman died March 31 after her feeding tube removed March 18 by court order. The court order was the result of a years-long legal battle between her husband, Michael Schiavo, and her parents. The court ruled in favor of her husband, who argued that Terri had expressed to him that she would not want to be kept alive under these conditions.

“The reason Michael Schiavo's attorney George Felos was so upset that I said this is because he is a euthanasia advocate, and the only way to advance euthanasia is to sugar-coat it, and never call it murder. But it is,” said Fr. Pavone.

“Moreover, it is inaccurate to describe Terri Schiavo's death as peaceful and gentle,” he continued. “I was with her for several hours the night before she died and again the next morning, up until 10 minutes before she died. She was in an agony unlike anything I have ever seen, and to describe it in any other way is irresponsible and dishonest.

Fr. Pavone acknowledged Felos' plea that he “speak words of compassion and reconciliation.”

“I have indeed done so publicly over recent months,” said Fr. Pavone. “But compassion does not mean compromising the truth, and reconciliation is possible only when one repents of doing evil acts like killing.

“The role of a priest, moreover, is not simply to make people feel good, but to denounce injustice and proclaim truth, no matter how discomforting it may be,” he added.

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Catholic Colorado governor vetoes emergency contraception bill

Denver, Colo., Apr 6, 2005 (CNA) - Colorado governor Bill Owens has vetoed a bill, which would require hospitals to provide information on emergency contraception to victims of rape.

Critics, including Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput have said that House Bill 1042, which passed last November, violates the religious freedom of hospitals, particularly Catholic ones, by forcing them to offer information on abortion.

In his two-page veto letter, the governor, a Catholic, said that "This bill does not give patients all the information that they deserve, nor does it safeguard basic freedom of conscience."

Archdiocese of Denver spokesman, Sergio Gutierrez said that the Archdiocese sees this move as “a victory for religious freedom.”

"The key here”, he said, “is that the government would have required the Catholic Church to do something that for reasons of moral and ethical principles it felt it could not do."

In a February 8th column, the Archbishop said that, “HB-1042, as it currently stands, has serious flaws that should cause any thoughtful person to stop and reflect.”

He continued: “Catholic hospitals — which provide their services based on moral and religious convictions about the dignity of the human person — should not be obligated to perform or refer for procedures which violate Catholic teaching.”

Catholic groups, who have been lobbying the governor to veto the bill, applauded what they see as the right decision.

Owens wrote in his statement that, "While this bill did offer health care professionals the right to decline to offer emergency contraception due to their religious and moral beliefs, it did not offer those same protections to health care institutions.”

"That is wrong. And it is unconstitutional." 

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