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Archive of April 14, 2005

Preparations for the conclave: Cardinals explore state of Church in the world

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - 142 cardinals participated this morning in the tenth General Congregation of Cardinals, leading up to Monday’s conclave where they will choose the next pope.

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Holy See’s Press Office Director, outlined the proceedings in a statement released today.

"After the invocation to the Holy Spirit,” he said, “the cardinals listened to the first of the meditations concerning the problems of the Church and the enlightened choice of the new Pontiff (Apostolic Constitution, 'Universi Dominici gregis', no. 13d) given by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Papal Household.”

"At the end of the meditation the cardinals dedicated a period of time to silence and prayer,” he added.

Navarro-Valls also released the names of those who will be part of the Particular Congregation. These include: Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re for the Order of Bishops, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga for the Order of Priests and Crescenzio Sepe for the Order of Deacons.

He said that the cardinals drew lots for the rooms they will occupy in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

The press director also noted that, "Following several clarifications on the interpretation of the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici gregis, [they] resumed an exchange of ideas on the situation of the Church and the world.”

As in prior meetings, he said the tenth Congregation concluded with the traditional Regina Coeli prayer.

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Four votes, two plumes of smoke per day during Conclave

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - The cardinals gathered in the Conclave will vote twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon, but the burning of the ballots, which will send either white or black smoke into the air above the Sistine Chapel, will only take place twice each day.

Vatican sources announced that, with the exception of Monday, April 18, when the cardinals will vote only once, the 115 cardinal electors will cast four votes per day: at 11am, and 12:30pm, and at 6pm and 7:30pm.  However, the burning of the ballots will only take place twice per day: once at 12:30pm and again at 7:30pm.

If the election of the Pope takes place during the first voting either in the morning or in the afternoon, the ballots will be burned with the chemical for producing white smoke immediately after the election.

In order to avoid confusion, the bells of St. Peter’s will also be rung upon election of the Pontiff.  The churches in Rome will all join then in the ringing of bells.

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Archbishop Sandri: ‘Church must bring to fruition legacy of extraordinary pope’

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - "To us, above all,” said Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, at a Mass for John Paul II last evening, “falls the task of bringing to fruition the legacy that this extraordinary Pope left to the Church and to the entire world in the course of his life and at the moment of his death."

The memorial Mass, held at St Peter's Basilica, was the sixth "novendiali" (nine days of mourning) Mass for the repose of the soul of John Paul II. Several members of the Roman Curia were in attendance last night.

The archbishop, who is substitute Secretary of State for the Holy See, said that, "In the Apostolic Letter 'Novo millennio ineunte,' which the Pope signed at the end of the Great Jubilee Year 2000, he traced the guidelines for the beginning of the third Christian millennium, indicating Vatican Council II as the 'sure compass' to guide the Church's journey in the new millenium.”

“By calling the Year of the Rosary,” he added, “[the pope] again wished to highlight the importance of devotion to the Virgin Mary. With the special Year of the Eucharist that we are now living, ... the Supreme Pontiff reiterated the centrality of the Eucharistic mystery in the Church."

Archbishop Sandri especially highlighted the late pontiff's love "for Christ, truly present in the Sacrament of the altar.”

“This love”, he said, “becomes almost an invocation in the title of the Apostolic Letter 'Mane nobiscum Domine,' his last document for the Year of the Eucharist."

"Those who were able to follow the Pope's daily activity most closely witnessed his profound love for the Eucharist. Before taking important decisions, he would spend a long time before the Most Holy Sacrament, taking the dossiers to be studied with him into his private chapel, and setting aside a time for reflection and prayer before the Tabernacle.”

“Each choice”, he said, “would thus always and exclusively arise from the search for God's will and for the true good of the Church."

The archbishop also pointed to "a new element that emerged of the personality and the spirituality of the Pope, especially in the months marked by a progressive worsening of his health: the simplicity and poverty of his life.”

“Those who had the opportunity to meet him on various occasions in the last weeks could not avoid feeling a sense of admiration for the modesty of the furnishings that surrounded him, as well as for his humility and simplicity, his sense of detachment and the complete willingness with which he abandoned himself in God's hands."

"Here is the great example," the archbishop concluded, "and the precious teaching that the late pontiff leaves to each of us called to work in the Roman Curia, the heart of Catholicism.”

“It is an example of simplicity and detachment, of faithful and disinterested service in the Lord's vineyard, of constant willingness and docile compliance with the will of God."

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Mary Ann Glendon: Better catechesis for the laity urgent

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - The President of the Pontifical Council for the Sciences, Dr. Mary Ann Glendon, said Wednesday at the Vatican that the Catholic lay faithful needs a catechesis on par with the demands of today’s world.

During a meeting with American journalists at the Pontifical Council for the Sciences, Glendon, a professor of law at Harvard University and member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said the Catholic lay faithful of today “have an intellectual level that is unprecedented in the history of the Church,” but “unfortunately they do not have a formation in the faith proportional to this education,” she added.

According to Glendon, who led the Vatican delegation at the UN Summit on women in Beijing, “Catechesis, the Christian formation of today’s laity, needs to prepare them to face the challenges of the modern world.”

The meeting with American journalists, which was also attended by the President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop John Foley, took place at the “Casina Pio IV,” where the Pontifical Council for the Sciences has its offices.

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Ad campaign decries activist judges, urges senators to vote on qualified

Washington D.C., Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - A leading grassroots organization has launched the first phase of a national television advertising campaign that points to the fallout of judicial activism and asks citizens to press their Senators for a vote on the president’s judicial nominees.

The ad campaign was organized by the Judicial Confirmation Network, which supports the confirmation of qualified judges to the federal courts.

The ad began airing nationally on cable television and in targeted states yesterday. It says arrogant, activist judges are undermining American values and ignoring the Constitution by ruling that the word “God” must be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance and that child pornography is protected as free speech.

The ad also states that President George W. Bush has called on judges to decide cases according to the law, not politics. The ad ends with a message urging citizens to contact their Senators and to tell them to support a fair vote on judges.

The advertising has cost JCN $250,000, and executive director Gary Marx said the group is ready to spend more if necessary. A second ad is currently in production.

The group is working with more than 70 grassroots and civic organizations around the nation to help engage and educate the public about the importance of the debate.

Wendy E. Long, JCN counsel, expects the campaign to “resonate with the great majority of Americans, given that 75 percent of registered voters nationwide support the president’s nomination of judges who apply existing law faithfully, and that 82 percent believe qualified judicial nominees should be given an up-or-down vote.”

JCN will distribute the ad via e-mail alerts through dozens of organizations, including Focus on the Family, Americans for Tax Reform, the Committee for Justice, Americans for Limited Government and the American Center for Law and Justice.

It is also in the midst of a national petition drive supporting a fair nomination process and ending the effort to block the president’s qualified nominees to the federal bench. The ad and the petition are available at: www.judicialnetwork.org

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Parents must have free choice for children’s education: Archbishop Gomez

San Antonio, Texas, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - Parents have the right to choose where their children attend school, and a law that ensures “parents’ free choice of education is a true act of justice,” said Archbishop Jose Gomez.

The archbishop of San Antonio made this statement as the Texas Legislature is in the midst of discussing the possibility of a pilot program that would allow for parental choice in education.

The public debate, which has been a national debate for some time, “points out the inherent inequality that exists when lack of money creates the obstacle to parental choice,” said the archbishop.

“The system of parents’ free choice would permit all families, regardless of financial status, to finally take control of where they can educate their children without staying at the mercy of the inconsistent quality of the public schools where they are presently obliged to send them,” he said.

Some states and pro-family organizations have proposed a system of education vouchers that would allow low-income families the possibility of sending their children to schools, which they otherwise could not afford.

The archbishop insisted that the Catholic Church is not opposed to public education, but it does believe that “parental choice provides society with a more just model in which families can choose.”

Many parents would like to have a different option when the public schools their children attend do not operate properly, or when what is taught does not coincide with the values that they want for their children, said the archbishop. But, due to the current legal system, there is nothing parents can do about it, he pointed out.

“Catholic social teachings and the wider Judeo-Christian tradition that are found in the origins of our nation have recognized always that the education of children belongs to the parents,” the archbishop stated.

“It makes sense that they have several options provided by the state, the Church or private organizations [to choose from].”

Noting the importance of Catholic education for Catholic parents and children, and the current system that hinders parental choice, the archbishop said the “local Church continually looks for ways to help parents financially, from its own resources, in choosing the kind of education they can offer their children.

“For exactly the same reason, the church, in general, supports laws that give parents the freedom they deserve in choosing where to direct funds from their taxes when deciding the education their children will receive,” he stated.

About 15,000 students are enrolled in private Catholic schools or schools of the archdiocese.

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Government must recognize stay-at-home parents: Bishop Morissette

Ottawa, Canada, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic Organization fro Life and the Family (COLF) is urging the Liberal government to provide financial assistance for families with stay-at-home parents.

COLF chairperson Bishop Pierre Morissette issued a letter to Social Development Minister Ken Dryden last month, urging him to recognize the primordial role of the parent as the best caregiver of a child.

The bishop applauded Dryden for the $5-billion commitment in the federal budget for a national child-care program, but he said it does not go far enough since the money would only go to regulated public and private daycare facilities and not to parents who wish to stay at home to care for their children.

“Parents are the first people responsible for their children’s education and they must be able to count on the state’s support in this endeavor,” the bishop’s letter read.

“For this reason, we would ask the government to put in place a series of fiscal and social measures in order to help those parents who wish to fulfil this mission themselves,” he wrote.

Seven out of 10 mothers in Canada currently work outside the home, but polls indicate that most would choose to stay at home with their children if financial circumstances allowed.

The development of a child is a “primordial parent responsibility on which we do not place enough importance, especially during the first three years of a child’s life, when the parent-child bond is formed,” the bishop stated.

The Catholic Women’s League also passed a resolution last year supporting a plan that would assist stay-at-home parents.

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Pro-family group publishes tools for same-sex marriage debate

Ottawa, Canada, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - A new document has been published to give Catholics the tools they need to explain why they oppose same-sex marriage. 

The short text is divided into memos that provide a point-form rebuttal in everyday language to the most common arguments made by those who want to legalize same-sex marriage.  

The leaflet was published by the Catholic Organization for Life and the Family. While the document was created with the Canadian debate in mind, the information in it is useful for other Catholic communities that are entering the debate.  

The leaflet is available by going to the Web site of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and clicking on the link to COLF.

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Papal nuncio to Argentina: Magisterium of John Paul II changed the world

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - The Apostolic nuncio to Argentina, Archbishop Adriano Bernardini, said this week the magisterium left by John Paul II “has changes the world” because “its strong and clear message, rooted in the Gospel, has touched the hearts of all.”

In an interview with the AICA news agency, Archbishop Bernardini exhorted the Argentinean people to continue accompanying the Pope in prayer, with the certainty that now, from heaven, “he can do much more for us and for the whole world.”

The nuncio also noted that throughout his fruitful life, the words of the Pope have been received by all.  “Believers, atheists, Catholics, members of other religions, young and old, have all listened to him,” he said.

Archbishop Bernardini also recalled the continuous exhortation of the Pope to “not be afraid of bearing witness to the Gospel despite the temptation to despair present in a world that is in crisis.”

Lastly, he underscored that “the word of the Pontiff is light for all and lays out the authentic path to follow in order to get to and live in Christ, Savior of the world.”

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U.K. group releases Catholic voter guide

Essex, England, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - Today, the Catholic Action Group (C.A.G.) released its Voters Guide for Catholics in preparation for the U.K.’s upcoming general elections.

The non-partisan, but “unequivocally pro-life” guide, the group says, is based on a similar one released in the U.S. by the group, ‘Catholics United for the Faith’ during last fall’s election there.

C.A.G.’s secretary, Robert Williams, said, "We have just lost a Pope who lived a pro-life message and died with dignity despite his suffering. We are imploring Catholics to use their vote as a weapon for the dignity of life and as a mark of respect for the late John Paul II – the Great.”

The group points out that the U.S. version was read by over 15 million people, in a country where the pro-life vote was a major factor in the election’s outcome.

Chris Walsh, C.A.G.’s pro-life spokesperson explained, “Our guide lays down clearly, the non-negotiables that any serious Catholic cannot ever morally support i.e. Abortion, Euthanasia, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Human Cloning and Same-Sex Unions.”

“Catholics,” he said, “need to be made more aware of how serious a sin it is to vote for moral evils so clearly opposed to the Church's teachings.”

Added National Coordinator, John Gunn: "Catholic voters need to be made much more aware of the consequences of their voting actions…Being pro-abortion is an easy position to take when you are not the one being killed.”

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Socialist government scorns dialogue with family associations

Madrid, Spain, Apr 14, 2005 (CNA) - In response to the approval of a bill making homosexual unions equivalent to marriage by the Justice Committee of the Spanish Congress, the watchdog website “Hazteoir.org” has denounced the Socialist government for scorning dialogue with associations that most represent the interests of families and is instead legislating for 0.1% of the population.

Ignacio Arsuaga, president of Hazteoir.org, said the Socialist party had not interest in establishing a dialogue with the associations “that represent the vast majority of Spanish families.”

The government “is showing little interest in the will of the majority” and is instead pushing for legislation “in favor of 0.1% of Spanish couples.”

Hazteoir.org is organizing protests against the measure that attacks “the institution most valued by our society.”

Arsuaga also denounced the attempt by socialists to approve “the adoption of children by homosexual couples,” despite the fact that “a wide scientific and pedagogical sector” is opposed to it.  “We would like to see [President] Zapatero show the same interest in establishing family policies that aim to protect infancy,” he pointed out.

On March 16, two lawmakers of the ruling socialist party and members of the Justice Committee announced their decision to move the bill through committee.

Hazteoir.org said the socialists were trying to “cover up their scorn for dialoguing with those most affected by setting up a meeting too late and that will have no purpose, given the lack of will to arrive at any kind of agreement.”

“This government talks about good will, dialogue and consensus, but its actions show that the approach it prefers is that of ideological steamrolling”

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