Archive of May 11, 2005

God’s message of history: to call all to conversion, says Pope Benedict

Vatican City, May 11, 2005 (CNA) - Continuing his series of Wednesday audiences prepared by the late John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI today told an estimated 17,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square that although seemingly in the hands of dark forces, God penetrates all of human history.

The Holy Father spoke on the "Hymn of adoration and praise", a canticle in chapter 15, verses 3 and 4, of the Book of Revelation.

"History”, he said, “is not in the hands of dark forces, of chance, or of merely human choices."

Rather, he said, "The Lord, supreme arbiter of historical events, rises above the discharge of evil energies, the vehement onslaught of Satan, the emergence of plagues and wickedness. He knowingly guides history to the dawn of the new heaven and the new earth, as mentioned in the last part of the book in the image of the new Jerusalem."

Pope Benedict pointed out that the hymn is sung by "the just of history, the vanquishers of the Satanic beast, those who through the seeming defeat of martyrdom are in reality the builders of the new world, with God the supreme architect."

He said that the intention of the canticle "is to reaffirm that God is not indifferent to human affairs, but penetrates them creating His 'ways,' in other words His projects and His efficacious 'works'."

The Pope said that, "This divine intervention has a precise aim: to be a sign inviting all the peoples of the earth to conversion. Nations must learn to 'read' in history a message from God.”

“The human adventure is not confused and meaningless,” he said, “nor is it hopelessly condemned to the prevarication of the domineering and the perverse."

Pope Benedict encouraged the faithful to recognize “divine action hidden in history," and to be open to "fearing the name of God.”

He noted though, that in biblical language, “this 'fear' is not the same as being afraid, rather its is a recognition of the mystery of divine transcendence. ... Thanks to fear of the Lord, one is not afraid of the evil raging through history and can vigorously resume the road of life."

"The hymn”, the Pope concluded, “closes by foreseeing a universal procession of peoples, who will present themselves before the Lord of history," Whom they will adore. "And the one Lord and Savior seems to repeat the words pronounced on the last evening of His earthly life: 'Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world'."

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U.S. Bishops launch immigration reform campaign

Washington D.C., May 11, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced a broad-sweeping new campaign aimed at reforming the country’s immigration policies.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Washington D.C.’s Cardinal Theodore McCarrick described Justice for Immigrants: A Journey of Hope. The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform, saying that its purpose is for “immigrants [to] support their families in dignity, families [to] remain united, and the human rights of all [to be] respected.”

The Cardinal noted that the USCCB had been disturbed by what they see as a troubling trend toward viewing immigrants as a threat to the nation rather than a benefit.

He said that, “Anti-immigrant fervor on TV and radio shows, citizens attempting to enforce immigration laws, and, most disturbingly, the enactment of restrictive immigration laws are evidence of this negative public environment.”

Cardinal McCarrick said that he sought to add the voice of the Church to the current public discourse and suggest that, “we are, and should remain, a nation of immigrants.”

The four-fold goals of the new campaign include educating Catholics and others about the benefits of immigration to the nation; strengthening public opinion about these positive contributions; advocating just immigration laws and creating legal pathways for immigrant workers and their families; and organizing Catholic legal services to assist immigrants in accessing the benefits of the hoped-for reforms.

While he acknowledged that current attitudes toward immigrants have been deeply influenced by the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Cardinal stressed that we must not “give into the temptation to scapegoat all immigrants who come to our land—and who contribute their God-given talent to our communities—because of the actions of a few.”

“It is my belief,” he said, “and that of my brother bishops, that our nation can meet the challenge of ensuring national security without closing America’s door to the oppressed and downtrodden.”

Cardinal McCarrick further noted that the Catholic Church has a major stake in this debate because “Regardless of race, heritage, or national origin, we are one family under God.”

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Resignation of America editor worries some Catholic journalists

, May 11, 2005 (CNA) - The forced resignation of Fr. Tom Reese as editor of America magazine has created a wave of reaction among Catholic journalists and academics across the country.

The Jesuit priest resigned from the Jesuit-owned publication after seven years as its editor. There is speculation that his community forced him to resign because the magazine had come under Vatican scrutiny for having published articles in favor of same-sex marriage, homosexual rights and stem-cell research.

While some journalists and academics reacted with fear that they, too, could be ousted from their jobs, others’ reactions offered other insight into Fr. Reese’s resignation.

“A lot of people were unhappy with America, including people in Rome,” Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, told the Globe in an interview. He said he knew many Catholics, including bishops, who were unhappy with Reese's editorial leadership, which “had kind of a carping attitude toward the pontificate of John Paul II.”

“Just as you don't expect Planned Parenthood to give a platform to the pro-life position, there's no reason why a Catholic journal should provide a platform for positions that are clearly contrary to those of the Church, and that was an editorial error that caused Tom a lot of trouble,” Neuhaus was quoted as saying.

Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told the Globe that some bishops filed complaints with the Vatican or the Jesuit order about articles that appeared in the magazine.

Fr. Pat McCloskey, editor of St. Anthony Messenger, said Fr. Reese’s resignation might give other Catholic journalists and editors the notion that they could suffer the same fate.

“I'm afraid that a move like this one will cause more and more Catholic thinkers to say that they want to write for publications that are not identified as Catholic and to teach at schools that are not identified as Catholic, because there is more freedom there,” he told the Globe.

“There is a concern now about what does this mean for scholars and writers who are Catholic and what does it mean for journals of opinion," Boston College president Fr. William P. Leahy told the newspaper.

Heidi Schlumpf, managing editor of US Catholic, her publication came under scrutiny several years ago for a piece about women’s ordination; the magazine settled the issue by publishing an article explaining the Church's opposition to women priests.

“What's most troublesome is that for the ordained, for those theologians who are priests, and for people working in Catholic universities, this will inhibit the honest exchange of views," Paul Baumann, editor of Commonweal, was quoted as saying.

Bauman had arrived at work May 9 to find an e-mail from a critic that threatened that he would be the next editor to be ousted.

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Conference to debate place of religion in secular society

Vancouver, Canada, May 11, 2005 (CNA) - An upcoming conference will explore the “culture war” that has developed in social and political debates between religious believers and non-believers.

Citizenship and the Common Good: Secularism or the Inclusive Society will be held at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, May 19-20.

The two-day conference is sponsored by the Ottawa-based Centre for Cultural Renewal and Simon Fraser University’s Institute for the Humanities.

The conference will discuss what forms of religion-related discourse are acceptable in the public sphere. It will also address why, in a multicultural society, a religious group an "interest group" when teachers' unions or humanist associations are not. It will also explore the comparative validity of “secular" and "religious" points of view in social debates, such as same-sex marriage.

Michael Pakaluk, professor of philosophy at Clark University in Worcester, will give the keynote address on the topic "The Religious Outlook in a Liberal Democracy: Threat or Foundation?"

Other speakers include Cristina Alarcon, Pharmacists for Life; Joseph Ben-Ami, B’nai Brith of Canada; Christine Jones, Simon Fraser University; Wael Haddara, Muslim Association of Canada and John Russell, BC Civil Liberties Association.

Registration is $75 (US$62); the student rate is $15 (US$12.50). For information or to register, go to

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Italians remember John Paul II with 6500-foot cross

Vatican City, May 11, 2005 (CNA) - The town of L’Aquila in central Italy has erected a steel cross towering over 6500 feet on top of a mountain which as of May 18 will be called “Mount John Paul II.”

The massive cross was erected on Mount Gendarme in the central Apennines.  As of May 18, the mountain will be renamed in honor of the late Pope.

According to local officials, the people of L’Aquila wanted to honor the man who spent many days of during his pontificate in the area, skiing and enjoying the countryside.

The zinc reinforced steel cross bears an image of John Paul II and his pontifical coat of arms.  It was transported to the mountain by helicopter.

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will preside at the dedication ceremony on May 18.

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Archbishop of Mexico calls for national agreement to bring calm to presidential race

Mexico City, Mexico, May 11, 2005 (CNA) - The archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, is calling on presidential candidates to make a “national agreement” that would ensure that next year’s elections be carried out in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

Cardinal Rivera maintained that unity and dialogue “are the things Mexico needs…and I hope as well that there will be an invitation to make a national agreement.”  The cardinal believes the agreement is needed in order to ensure tranquility in the electoral process “so that everything will be carried out peacefully.”

The cardinal warned that otherwise, the danger exists that candidates and the main political parties will not respect each other and the country’s institutions and laws will be ignored, leading to “unrest.”

The secretary general of the Mexican Bishops Conference, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Texcoco, referred to the elections as well saying, “Dialogue is very positive.  But how far it will go and how much it will benefit the country depends solely on the political will of each party to this dialogue.  I hope this happens and that it contributes to peaceful and democratic elections; this is the challenge once the possibility for dialogue is established.”

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Archbishop of Burgos: marriage existed before any religion

Burgos, Spain, May 11, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Francisco Gil Hellin of Burgos and member of the Committee on the Family and the Defense of Life of the Spanish Bishops Conference, said in a statement last week that “marriage is an institution that has its origins in creation and preexists any religion.”

In the statement distributed by the Fides news agency, Archbishop Gil Hellin explained the Catholic position regarding the legalization of homosexual “marriage,” noting that “what the Church defends is a natural institution, the marriage of any person no matter what their faith.”

“The Church does not wish to ignore society’s appraisal of homosexuals nor the social repercussions that would occur from making their unions equivalent to marriage; rather, the Church always goes out to meet man in order to give him an answer in conformity with the truth,” the archbishop noted.

He went on to note that the Church’s response to the reality of so-called homosexual “marriages” “is not arrogant or pretentious because God himself has become present in history and has manifested to man his end, his destiny and his final goal.”

Archbishop Hellin also noted that, thanks to God’s revelation to man, “the Church knows that in the beginning the Creator created man and woman to form a stable community oriented toward procreation.”  The Church cannot abandon this truth, he said, “even knowing that she will be misunderstood, misinterpreted, persecuted and mistreated.”

The Church’s opposition to same-sex unions “is not a question of scorn or discrimination against people with homosexual tendencies,” the archbishop maintained.  “Rather, what the Church defends is that the foundation of society is in the interpersonal communion between one man and one woman, that is, in marriage.”

Lastly, Archbishop Hellin pointed out that “the men and women of our day should realize that the attacks against the Church are in reality attacks against them.”

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Spanish mayor calls on Christians in government to act consistent with their faith

, May 11, 2005 (CNA) - The mayor of La Coruña, Spain, and President of the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces, Francisco Vazquez, is calling on government officials who are Christians to act “consistent with their faith.”

During a ceremony renewing the city’s dedication to Our Lady of the Rosary, Vazquez prayed that the Blessed Mother “grant to those of us in government positions to always act under the guidance of the four cardinal virtues—prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance—united, in the case of Christians, with a coherence of faith.”

During the traditional rededication, Mayor Vazquez also prayed for Mary’s intercession for the city’s various construction projects, programs for the elderly, assistance for immigrants, and the fight against terrorism, “which not only kills people but also freedoms.”

Archbishop Julian Barro of Santiago de Compostela presided at a Mass marking the rededication.  During his homily, he exhorted the faithful to live consistent with their faith, which has “decisive consequences for the development of the human person and for the configuration of society.”

He called on those present “to be committed to the common good,” which in his opinion means “favoring and protecting the fundamental rights of the person which come from natural law and are recognized by the correct use of reason.”

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