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Archive of May 2, 2005

Pope Benedict makes first appearance from study window

Vatican City, May 2, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance at his study window for the weekly recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer, below which, tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered.

The new Pope, who had been living at the Vatican’s St. Martha residence since the papal conclave, finally settled into his apartment on Saturday.
 
He told the gathered faithful yesterday that: "I address you for the first time from this window that the beloved figure of my predecessor made familiar to countless people throughout the world.”

“From Sunday to Sunday,” the Holy Father said, “John Paul II, faithful to an appointment which had become a pleasant custom, accompanied for over a quarter of a century the history of the Church and the world and we continue to feel him more than ever close to us." 

Pope Benedict greeted the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Churches, who celebrated Christ’s resurrection yesterday, "with special affection.”  

“To these dear brothers and sisters of ours,” he said, “I address the traditional announcement of joy: 'Christos anesti!' Christ is Risen!"

He added his hopes that Easter, for these Churches, would be, " a choral prayer of faith and praise to the One Who is our common Lord, and Who calls us to walk decisively on the path towards full communion."
 
The Pope continued his address saying that, "Today we begin the month of May with a liturgical memory so dear to Christians, that of St. Joseph the Worker."  

To much applause from the faithful gathered below, he added, "You know that my name is also Joseph!"

He said that the feast was instituted 50 years ago by Pius XII "to underline the importance of work and of the presence of Christ and the Church in the world of work."

In this vein, the Pope stressed the importance that everyone, especially young people, would have work "and that working conditions are ever more respectful of the dignity of the human person."

He also specially addressed the Christian Associations of Italian Workers, which this year celebrates the 60th anniversary of its founding.
 
Recognizing the special place of Mary, to whom the month of May is dedicated, Benedict XVI remarked that, "through words, and even more by example, John Paul II taught us to contemplate Christ with the eyes of Mary."

After the Marian prayer, he told the crowd that recently, his thoughts had been on "all people who suffer because of war, illness and poverty.” “In particular, today”, he added, “I am close to the people of Togo, upset by painful internal struggles. For all these nations I implore the gift of harmony and peace."

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Pope Benedict XVI marks one month since death of John Paul II

Vatican City, May 2, 2005 (CNA) - This morning, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the dark day exactly one month ago, when the world learned of the death of John Paul II.

The new Pope celebrated Mass at 7.30 this morning in his private chapel in honor of his predecessor and friend who died on April 2nd.
 
This evening, the Vatican announced, the Holy Father will make a private visit to the Vatican Grottoes to pray at the tomb of the late John Paul II.

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Pope Benedict prays for those persecuted ‘for the sake of faith and justice’

Vatican City, May 2, 2005 (CNA) - This morning, the Vatican announced Pope Benedict's first general prayer intention for the world.

This month, the Pope prays, "That those persecuted for the sake of faith and justice may experience the consolation and strength of the Holy Spirit".
 
In addition, the Holy Father’s traditional mission intention is: "That the Pontifical Missionary Works, proposed by the Holy Father and the bishops for the evangelization of all nations, may help the people of God to feel that they have a real part to play in the mission 'ad gentes'."

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‘Focus on the Family’ under fire for homosexuality stance

Colorado Springs, Colo., May 2, 2005 (CNA) - On Sunday, nearly 1,000 people turned out outside Focus on the Family’s Colorado Springs headquarters to protest the Christian group’s stance on homosexuality. 

The gay-advocacy group, Soulforce, who called Focus and its president James Dobson, a danger to itself and to the country, organized the three-hour protest. 

Jacob Reitan, Soulforce's youth director said that, "Focus on the Family does not focus on families. They teach from a theology that is morally bankrupt…It teaches mothers and fathers to reject their gay sons and their lesbian daughters, and it has to end. We cannot go on any longer dividing our families."

The Christian group has been in the headlines lately, in particular for their voice against some Senate democrats who are not allowing seven of President Bush’s judicial nominees to be debated. Many claim the opposition is due to the nominees’ religious stance on certain issues.

Last week, Colorado Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) called Focus on the Family the “antichrist”—a comment for which he later apologized.

Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family’s vice president for government and public policy told the Rocky Mountain News Sunday that to permit things like same-sex marriage, "you have to stand against all of civilization, which says that marriage is one man, one woman, and against the totality of social science that says a child does best with a mom and a dad." 

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Hispanics slowly changing face of Catholic vote

Washington D.C., May 2, 2005 (CNA) - A story published in Sunday’s edition of the on-line magazine, ‘The Window’, shows that the results of last November’s presidential election were heavily influenced by the U.S.’s growing Hispanic-Catholic vote.

The article cites Steve Wagner, a public opinion researcher, who found that affinity for the Republican Party has slowly grown in the traditionally democratic Hispanic community since 2000’s election.

Wagner noted current trends, which show that the Hispanic-Catholic vote is becoming a formidable influence on the overall Catholic vote.

In November, President Bush won 52 percent of the overall Catholic vote and although his numbers dropped among Hispanics in some western states like California, Oregon and Texas, in others like Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, he gained 10, 5 and 9 percent increases, respectively.

Wagner also noted that the appeal of a George Bush presidency among Hispanic-Catholics grew from 30 percent in 2000 to 39 percent in 2004. Likewise, John Kerry received a full 9 percent fewer Hispanic-Catholic votes last fall than did Al Gore in 2000, although he still maintained a narrow majority.

According to a recent study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, by 2050, Hispanics are expected to make up 50 percent of the U.S. Catholic Church, and are already the largest minority group in the country.

Wagner, who thinks the trend of Hispanics moving toward the Republican party will continue to grow, added, "When the GOP does not present an anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant face - when the GOP presidential candidate speaks of a welcoming society -- Hispanic voters are able to express their natural affinity for the GOP based on social and quality-of-life issues."

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Pro-life leader calls filibusters a 'witch hunt'

Washington D.C., May 2, 2005 (CNA) - The leader of a national pro-life movement said Americans regard the filibusters as “witch hunt.”

Fr. Frank Pavone was reacting to comments made by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid at the Jefferson Memorial regarding the constitutional option. 

"Senate Democrats have shown that they intend to prevent anyone whose religious convictions command a respect for life from serving in the highest courts in the land," said the national director of Priests for Life.

"Most Americans have rejected the proposition that 'Catholics Need Not Apply,’” said Fr. Pavone. “The Senate must do the same.”

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College Honoring Clinton Declared 'No Longer Catholic'

, May 2, 2005 (CNA) - Marymount Manhattan College, which had ties to the Archdiocese of New York, was formally dropped as a Catholic institution Thursday, because it intended to give Senator Hillary Clinton an honorary doctoral degree.

The college will no longer be listed in "The Official Catholic Directory," which identifies Catholic institutions.

"The decision to honor one of Congress's most outspoken and strident advocates of abortion rights was just the latest episode in a long history of secularization at Marymount Manhattan College," said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society.

Reilly wrote to Edward Cardinal Egan of New York about the college, suggesting "immediate action to prevent scandal in the archdiocese." Reilly said the college's actions defied the "Catholics in Political Life" statement that was approved by the U.S. bishops in 2004.

Fania Tavarez, assistant to the vice-president for institutional advancement at the college, confirmed the ruling from the archdiocese. In a prepared statement, Tavarez defended the school as "an independent, non-sectarian, private liberal arts college.” She said students and staff are “very excited” to hear Clinton at the commencement exercises.

This is the fourth time since Pope John Paul II issued "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, that a bishop has declared a historically Catholic college or university to be no longer Catholic. The 1990 document gives local bishops the responsibility of determining whether colleges can be called "Catholic."

Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was declared "no longer Catholic" by Egan in 2003, following a similar protest by the Cardinal Newman Society regarding New York’s Attorney General Elliott Spitzer.

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Jews band together to fight anti-Christian prejudice

Washington D.C., May 2, 2005 (CNA) - A group of prominent Jewish leaders have banded together to fight anti-Christian prejudice in Hollywood, the news media, academia, politics and the courts.

"Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation was organized because we understand that Christians are the last remaining obstacle to the moral deconstruction of America," said the group’s president Don Feder at a press conference April 21.

"Christians are under assault because of the values they embrace. But the morality of Christianity is also the morality of Judaism. By maintaining their loyalty to the eternal values revealed at Sinai, Christians have become pariahs in the eyes of the establishment but heroes in our eyes," Feder said.

Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation will engage in a broad range of activities to educate American “on the toxic nature of what has been called the last acceptable form or prejudice,” says the group’s press release.

Group members include: syndicated columnist Mona Charen, popular talk-show host Barry Farber, Rabbi Joshua Haberman, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, David Horowitz (Center for the Study of Popular Culture), Morton Klein (Zionist Organization of America), Herb London (Hudson Institute), Bruce Herschensohn (professor, Pepperdine University), Rabbi Daniel Lapin (Toward Tradition), syndicated talk-show host Michael Medved, Rabbi Jacob Neusner (professor, Bard College) and comedian Jackie Mason.

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Catholic legislators take stand against physician-assisted suicide

Los Angeles, Calif., May 2, 2005 (CNA) - California’s physician-assisted suicide bill, the California Compassionate Choice Act (AB 654), passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee by a one-vote margin April 12. But two Catholic Democratic Assemblywomen have come out against it, reported The Tidings.

Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez (D-San Fernando), 31, broke rank with five other Democrats when she sided with the committee's three Republicans in voting against the bill. That same day, Nicole Parra, (D-Hanford), 35, issued a statement saying: "Doctor assisted suicide is immoral and wrong."

"I believe that allowing the state to sanction a death in this fashion erodes the sanctity of life," said Montañez in an April 12 statement. "While I understand and sympathize with all the reasons supporters of AB 654 have given me, they still do not outweigh my belief that life is too precious and that we, as a governmental entity, should not be a party to assisted suicide."

In a telephone interview April 19, Montañez told the Los Angeles diocesan newspaper that she had received at least 2,000 letters against the bill compared to several hundred letters of support.

Montañez said the issue cuts across different faiths and ideologies.  She added that the majority of religious leaders she consulted, including San Fernando Region Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson, were against the bill.

Parra also received many calls backing her position and believes there may be a momentum toward a "lessening of support" for the bill among her fellow legislators.

Carol Hogan, lobbyist with the California Catholic Conference of bishops, is pleased these two Democratic women are against the bill. The conference has joined with several other organizations to form the Californians Against Assisted Suicide, a grassroots coalition that is advocating against the bill.

The bill is now headed for the Appropriations Committee. But it could end up in the suspense file if 10-12 more assemblymembers come out against it, Hogan told The Tidings.

If it does pass the Assembly, it still has to get through the Senate. Hogan predicted that if it doesn't get through legislature proponents would go through the initiative process, as they did with the 1992 "Death With Dignity Act" initiative, which was rejected by California voters.

Hogan said one of the problems with physician-assisted suicide is that terminally ill people may be influenced to choose it to relieve their exhausted caregivers. As well, with more than six million medically uninsured people, physician-assisted suicide may be considered “economically advisable.”

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Cardinal Cipriani: “Benedict XVI is a gift from John Paul II”

Lima, Peru, May 2, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, told Peruvians this week “Pope Benedict XVI is a gift from John Paul II, we have loved him since even before [his election],” and he said, “We love him now even more because it is easy to see the reflection of John Paul II in him.”

In his first Mass since the Conclave, the cardinal thanked believers for their prayers and asked they continue praying for the Holy Father.  “Let us not forsake him, let’s accompany him with our prayers,” he stated.

The cardinal presided at Mass at the Cathedral of Lima on the feast of St. Toribio of Mongrovejo, patron of the bishops of Latin America, and he extended Benedict XVI’s blessing to the Peruvian people.

Likewise, he announced that the Archdiocese of Lima will soon be receiving a special memento of John Paul II, which will be one of his white cassocks which he used during his travels and during his daily work.

Recalling the memory of the late Pilgrim Pope, Cardinal Cipriani noted the unity which his death brought to humanity and he expressed gratitude for the work John Paul carried out during his 26 years as shepherd of the Church.

“This is evidence of holiness…we are witnesses of this miracle because there is no explanation for the death of an 84 year-old man, who traveled the earth speaking the truth and doing good, to be felt by millions…John Paul II brought newness to the desire to be holy, with the joy, happiness, simplicity and youthfulness that radiated from him,” the cardinal said.

 After the Mass, the traditional procession with the relics of St. Toribio took place.  The day’s activities marked the beginning of preparations for the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Toribio, which will be celebrated in 2006.

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CELAM president: no plans yet for papal trip to Latin America

Rome, Italy, May 2, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, Archbishop of Santiago and President of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM), said no plans have been made yet for a trip by Pope Benedict XVI to Latin America.

Speaking to the Associated Press after meeting with the Pontiff together with CELAM leaders, the cardinal stated, “He has not yet planned his travel calendar,”

However, Cardinal Errazuriz said the 5th General Conference of CELAM, which is set to take place in February of 2007, would be a “great opportunity.”

“Because of John Paul II’s health problems, we were planning to meet in Rome, but now that we have a new Pope, we will have to decide whether to still meet in Rome or to meet in some Latin America country,” the cardinal noted.

He added that the Pope “was very interested” in the meeting and that “since he is the one who has to approve the subject matter, he told us he would respond very soon.”

According to Cardinal Errazuriz, Benedict XVI “understands the situation of the Catholic Church in Latin America, her challenges, as well as her strengths, where there are so many parish base communities and movements that flourish with great vitality, and he was very happy with this situation.”

“I was struck by his ability to listen, which is extraordinary, by his humility, because we brought up issues that he did not know about, and by his simplicity in asking questions about one issue or another,” the cardinal said.

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