Archive of April 12, 2005

Archbishop says beatification of John Paul II could come soon

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - Two days ago the cardinals gathered in Rome stated the opening of the cause of beatification of Pope John Paul II would depend exclusively on his successor.  In this context, the Secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Archbishop Edward Nowak, said the eventual process would not take very long to complete.

Archbishop Nowak told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that confirmation of a miracle attributed to John Paul II could come in as little as six months.  The miracle must have occurred after the pontiff’s death.

He said the next Pope could wave the five year waiting period normally required before a beatification cause could be opened.  John Paul II himself waved such a requirement for Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

“The life a Pope unfolded before everyone’s eyes and the collection of documentation is easy.  Everyone saw how he died, we have all been witnesses of his heroic virtue,” Archbishop Nowak said.

He also insisted that in order to be canonized, two miracles must be confirmed, but “if these miracles are so numerous and are taking place everyday, as we are hearing, it will not be difficult to verify them.”

One should not expect an “immediate proclamation,” but it could come after a period dedicated to the collection of “adequate documentation” based on “the reputation of holiness and on signs” that, according to the archbishop, could be settled in a matter of six months.

Archbishop Nowak recalled that popular acclaim is always the first step in canonization.  By hearing about the “reputation” of the person in question, “the Church convenes witnesses, collects documentation and the testimony of people.”

“There are various norms today,” he said, “but the substance is always the same: it is not the Church that canonizes, but rather the people who recognize and bear witness to the holiness of a person.”

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Papal apartments sealed, Cardinals to receive official condolences from world diplomats tomorrow

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - 137 cardinals from around the world gathered this morning at the Vatican for their 8th General Congregation in preparation for the election of a new pope.

Among other plans, they announced the closing of the papal apartments with the seal of the Apostolic Camera, and the reception of condolences from the diplomatic corps scheduled for tomorrow.

Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls noted in a statement today that, "After the opening prayer and the swearing of the oath by Cardinal Jean Margeot, who just arrived today, several decisions were communicated on the matter of expenses that are incurred during the period of the vacant see, as well as indications on the transportation of the cardinals from the Domus Sanctae Marthae to the Sistine Chapel and back.”

"Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani”, he wrote, “informed the cardinals on the consolidated financial statements of the Holy See for 2004, and on several particulars of the consolidated budget for 2005.”

After a discussion on several articles of the Apostolic Constitution 'Universi Dominici gregis, Navarro-Valls added that, the Congregation “began an exchange of ideas on the general situation of the Church in the World and on the Holy See.”

"After the cardinal camerlengo informed the General Congregation about the definitive closing of the pontifical apartment with the placement of the seals of the Apostolic Camera, the meeting concluded with the recitation of the Regina Coeli.”

The press director said that, "As was previously announced, tomorrow morning, April 13 at 10 a.m. in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall, the cardinals will receive the condolences of the diplomatic corps.”

Likewise, he noted that the Vatican grottoes would be opened tomorrow morning at 7a.m. for faithful wishing to visit the grave of Pope John Paul II.  

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College of Cardinals to pray before tomb of John Paul II Tuesday afternoon

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - The members of the College of Cardinals participating in the General Congregations will visit the tomb of Pope John Paul II Tuesday afternoon, a day before it will be opened to the public.

After the Novendiale Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica celebrated by Cardinal Eugenio Araujo Sales, Archbishop emeritus of Rio de Janeiro and Proto-priest of the College of Cardinals, the cardinals will descend to the Vatican grottoes where they will pray before the tomb of Pope Wojtila to pay him homage and ask for his intercession during the next conclave.

The tomb of John Paul II is located near the tombs of Pope Paul VI and his predecessor Pope John Paul I.  It is covered by a simple marble slab—commonly used in Italy—with his name inscribed in Latin and an inscription of the Greek symbol for Christ, composed of the letters “X” and “P”.

The back wall of the crypt is adorned with a marble and with an image of the Virgin Mary surrounded by angels.

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Vatican: ‘May the Lord illuminate the minds of the papal electors’

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - As cardinals from around the globe prepare to enter the Sistine Chapel on Monday to elect a new shepherd for the Catholic Church, the Vatican is asking faithful worldwide to unite themselves in prayer to the historic event.

"The entire Church,” read a note from the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, “spiritually united with Mary Mother of Jesus, and called to persevere unanimously in prayer following the example of the first Christian community, lifts humble and insistent prayers to the Lord, that He may illuminate the minds of the electors and bring them to agreement, in order to obtain a prompt and unanimous election of the new Pope."

In the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 18, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside at a Mass "for the election of the Roman Pontiff," which will be concelebrated by the other cardinal electors.

The statement from the Office of Liturgical Celebrations stated that, "in order to show communion in prayer on the part of the entire Church at such an important moment, cardinal non-electors, bishops, priests, deacons, and members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life are also earnestly invited to participate in the celebration, as are the lay faithful of all God's people present in Rome."

The cardinals will begin the conclave at 4.30 p.m. on Monday, with an oath for the election of the new Roman Pontiff--part of the norms laid down by the "Ordo Rituum Conclavis."

The cardinal electors, who will be preceded by the Cross, and the Book of the Gospels, will chant the Litany of the Saints, and enter in procession from the Hall of Blessings to the Sistine Chapel where, after singing "Veni Creator," they will take the oath.

Besides the cardinals who will elect the new pope, the procession will also include: the secretary of the conclave, the master of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the secretary of the cardinal dean, the ecclesiastic who will preach the meditation, masters of ceremonies, the dean, ministrants, and the "Cappella Musicale Pontificia."

The Liturgical Office’s statement added that, at 4 p.m., prior to the actual conclave, the following people may access the Sistine Chapel: the substitute of the Secretariat of State, the secretary for Relations with States, the prefect of the Pontifical Household, the two religious who supervise the sacristy, the priests charged with hearing confessions, and the commander of the Swiss Guard.

Also present will be, authorized personnel from the Swiss Guard, healthcare authorities, the floreria (a Vatican office in charge of furnishings), photographers, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Television Center, and the Holy See Press Office.

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Holy See shows press video of Domus Sancta Marta

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - Accredited journalists at the Vatican were shown a video Monday of the St. Martha residence, inaugurated by Pope John Paul II in 1995, where the cardinals will be staying the next conclave.

The Vatican also showed a video of the kilometer-long journey the cardinals must take each day in order to reach the Sistine Chapel, where voting will take place.  A minibus will transport the cardinals along the Via delle Fondamenta.

In addition, details about the new urns that will hold the cast ballots were revealed.  The Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis requires the use of an urn instead of two chalices to collect the votes of those cardinals unable to leave the St. Martha residence because of illness.

The new urns are made of gold and bronze with engravings of Biblical symbols, especially of a shepherd and his flock. They were designed by Italian sculptor Cecco Bonanotte, who also designed the new entrance doors at the Vatican Museums, which were inaugurated during the Jubilee Year of 2000.

The video also showed images of the stove where the ballots will be burned after voting.  White smoke will indicate the election of new Pontiff.

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Famous rail station in Rome to be renamed “John Paul II Station”

Vatican City, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - The famous train Termini train station in Rome will be renamed in honor of Pope John Paul II, who died on April 2 at 84 years of age.  The announcement was made by Rome mayor Walter Veltroni after the Pope’s funeral.

Veltroni also announced that the university campus, Tor Vergata, will also be renamed after the Pope.  It was there that the Pope met with two million young people during World Youth Day 2000.

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Life-sized painting of John Paul II unveiled at University

Steubenville, Ohio, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - In honor of the life and influence of Pope John Paul II, especially on younger generations, Franciscan University of Steubenville recently unveiled a life-sized painting of the pontiff to be housed in the campus’ John Paul II Library.

According to University Public Relations director Tom Sofio, the painting, which depicts a young Karol Wojtyla as a university student in Krakow, Poland during World War II, was unveiled within hours of the conclusion of the pope’s funeral Mass on Friday.

California artist Lisa Steinbrenner Andrews, who specializes in portraiture and still life subjects, produced the painting. Andrews, whose son attends the university, is a founding member of California’s Bay Area Classical Artist Guild.

Speaking to a crowded lobby of students at the unveiling, she said, “This portrait could not hang in any other place and have the same significance, the same impact. It was painted for you at this precise stage of your lives.  In it I attempted to personalize for you a critical moment in world and Church history when God called, and someone answered.”

Father Terence Henry, TOR, the university’s president also added his thoughts saying, “I don’t know if we have a future pope in this gathering today.  I do know that each of us has a unique call from God.”

“I hope”, he said, “this painting inspires you students here today, and all of our future Franciscan University students, to follow in John Paul II’s footsteps and become men and women of hope and courage, whose lives will be a transforming presence in the Church and in the world.”

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Pro-life leader found not guilty of keeping remains of aborted baby for display

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - A pro-life leader was found not guilty in the District of Columbia of keeping a dead body for public display.

Jeff White, director of Survivors, a pro-life youth organization, and former director of Operation Rescue, was arrested for allegedly displaying the remains of a pre-born baby outside a Washington, DC, Planned Parenthood clinic during the pro-abortion March for Women's Lives in April 2004. The police confiscated the vial containing the baby's remains. 

After a 10-day trial the judge found that the government had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and noted several deficiencies in the government's prosecution of White.

While not directly on point, the government could not admit the humanity of the child in question.

During closing arguments, the judge asked the government whether or not the fetus at issue was a human. The government in response first said yes, and then said that the baby was part of a human body. The government position on this issue confused even the judge as it became apparent that the prosecutor was conflicted on the humanity of the fetus.

Brian Chavez-Ochoa, defense attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation, said the judge's decision was well reasoned and well supported by the evidence.

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Lutherans propose ordination of homosexuals

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may become the first U.S.-based Lutheran denomination to approve the ordination of active homosexuals as clergy and lay ministers, reported the Christian Post.

The Church Council released a statement Monday with three resolutions that ask whether the church should bless same-sex unions and ordain non-celibate homosexuals, provided they remain faithful to their partner.

The statement has been forwarded to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, which is scheduled to meet Aug. 8-14 in Florida. Delegates will then decide to accept, reject or amend the three resolutions.

Current ELCA policy allows the ordination of celibate homosexuals but not active homosexuals.

Should the Churchwide Assembly adopt the new policy, the ELCA will likely become the only Lutheran denomination in the United States with official guidelines for such ordinations.

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Iran liberalizes laws on abortion

Tehran, Iran, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - The Iranian parliament voted today to legalize abortion for foetuses who are deemed mentally and physically disabled, reported BBC News.

Under the law, approved by just over half of Iran’s parliament, a pregnancy can be terminated in the first four months if three doctors confirm that the foetus is disabled and both parents give their consent. None of the 13 women in Iranian parliament took part in the debate.

The law still has to be approved by the Guardian Council, which examines whether proposed legislation is in line with Islamic law.

Previously, abortion was only allowed if the mother's life was proven to be in danger.

According to the BBC, the religious debate in Iran has centred more on when the foetus is deemed to have developed a soul. Some leading clerics are saying this happens only after the fourth month of gestation.

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Canadian Parliament to vote on marriage amendment

Ottawa, Canada, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - Canada’s members of Parliament are expected to vote today on an amendment that would define legal marriage as the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others, and provide a form of civil union for homosexual and lesbian couples.

The Conservative Party proposed the amendment, which is an attempt to quash Bill C-38, the Liberal government’s legislation that would change the legal definition of marriage and allow same-sex marriage.

A special legislative committee has been established to study Bill C-38. The committee is expected to hear evidence on the legal and constitutional aspects of the bill in Ottawa.

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Morning-after pill to require no prescription across Canada

Ottawa, Canada, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - The morning-after pill, also known as Plan B, is set to become available across Canada without a doctor’s prescription this month.

The drug, which can cause a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall if taken 72 hours after sexual intercourse, would be available only after consultation with a pharmacist, reported Canwest.

Pharmacists can refuse to dispense the drug for moral reasons or reasons of conscience.

Pro-life advocates point to the abortive qualities of the drug and say teens will come to rely on it as their main source of birth control. They also say selling the pills without a doctor’s prescription would lead to more risky sex and more sexually transmitted infections.

The pill has already been available without a prescription in three provincial jurisdictions—British Columbia, Quebec and Saskatchewan.

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Thousands rally for same-sex marriage protest

Ottawa, Canada, Apr 12, 2005 (CNA) - Organizers are calling it the largest-ever demonstration on Parliament Hill. Holding placards and chanting “Defend marriage,” between 15,000 and 20,000 Canadians converged on Parliament Hill April 9 to protest the Liberal government’s same-sex marriage bill.

Muslims, Jews and Sikhs, stood alongside Christians of all denominations. The lawn in front of the House of Commons was a sea of blue and white “Defend Marriage” posters, printed by the Knights of Columbus and held by people of all faiths, ages and ethnicities.

Catholic groups were strongly represented at the rally. Among the many groups were the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic Women’s League, Marriage Encounter, Couples for Christ and numerous parishes. Papal flags, and posters of Pope John Paul II waved in the air.

More than 20 speakers, including grassroots leaders and members of Parliament—both Liberal and Conservative—took to the microphone.

"The Liberal Party of Paul Martin has declared war on the values of New Canadians," Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper told the crowd.

"Liberals may talk about protecting minorities but undermining the traditional definition of marriage is an assault on the beliefs of all cultural and religious communities who have come to this country," he said.

Senator Anne Cools told the crowd that Bill C-38 “has subjugated the rights of children to the sexual needs of adults. There's no public interest in anyone's sexual gratification. The only public interest in the union of a man and a woman is that God and nature entrusted procreation to that." 

"Our government wants sodomy to be accepted as part of the norm and we refuse that," said Archbishop Marcel Gervais of Ottawa. "What the government proposes would change life, change family, change the care of children in ways we can barely imagine.

“Homosexuality is a private reality and it cannot be the basis of society,” the archbishop continued.

"If the bill passes, we will no longer be able to tell our children that homosexual practices are not acceptable," he said, urging the protesters to voice their position to the prime minister.

Liberal MP Jason Kenney urged the people in the crowd to be “true champions of human rights as they are properly understood… Marriage belongs to us, not [Prime Minister] Paul Martin.”

Echoing Kenney, Rev. Tristan Emmanuel, director of Equipping Christians for the Public Square, received great cheers from the crowd. “Mr. Prime Minister, get your hands off marriage!” he shouted. “Don’t impose your secular morality on the people of Canada.”

He challenged the Catholic prime minister to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church and the late John Paul II on marriage.

Fr. Rueiss Awad of the Orthodox Coptic Church urged the crowd to use their democratic rights “to publicly defend the truth.”

To show fellow citizens dignity and respect does not mean destroying the fundamental institution of marriage, said Liberal MP Pat O’Brien. One of the few vocal Liberals against Bill C-38, O’Brien said that if it takes the notwithstanding clause to defend marriage, “we must use it.”

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