Archive of June 3, 2005

Pope John Paul's Secretary becomes his successor in the Archdiocese of Krakow

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI appointed today Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, adjunct prefect of the Pontifical Household and former Pope John Paul II's personal Secretary, as the new Archbishop of Krakow, the second largest diocese in Poland.

"Don Stanislao," as he was known in Rome’s circles, was born in Raba Wyzna, Poland, in 1939. From 1966 to 1978 he acted as private secretary to Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow and, following the latter's election as Pope John Paul II, continued to act as his private secretary throughout his pontificate from 1978 to 2005.

He was ordained a bishop by John Paul II in 1998 and elevated to the dignity of archbishop in 2003.

He succeeds Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, whose resignation was accepted by the Vatican 3 years after it was submitted. 

In 1981, when John Paul was shot by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca, Dziwisz held him in his arms as he was rushed from St. Peter's Square to hospital. Many believe his cold blood saved the Pope's life. He has since published a book about the assassination attempt.

Archbishop Dziwisz was Pope John Paul's closest confidant and his influence increased greatly as the pontiff's health diminished.

Nevertheless, he moved into a modest Polish religious house in Northern Rome following John Paul's death in April.

Yesterday, Archbishop Dziwisz celebrated mass at John Paul's tomb in the crypts beneath St. Peter's Basilica.

"I accept the decision with apprehension, indeed trepidation, aware of the great responsibility for the spiritual heritage of the archdiocese until now run by such illustrious pastors," Dziwisz told ANSA news agency.

Since the archbishop of Krakow is usually a cardinal, Pope Benedict promote Dziwisz at the next consistory.

“I have been waiting for this moment for years,” said Cardinal Macharski after the appointment was officially announced. “I have never felt so mach gratitude to God like today,” he added.

Archbishop Dziwisz’ installation will take place on August 27 at the Cathedral of the Wawel Castle.

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Pro-life groups predict defeat of physician-assisted suicide bill

Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - Pro-life groups are hopeful that California’s physician-assisted suicide bill, AB 654, will not pass as it faces mounting opposition among Democratic Assemblymembers.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee passed the California Compassionate Choice Act May 25 by an 11-5 vote, clearing the way for a possible full floor vote before the week’s end.

Ned Dolejsi of the bishops' California Catholic Conference told The Tidings that he does not believe the bill will pass.

He told the diocesan newspaper that lobbying efforts against the bill by a coalition of religious, health care, disability rights and grassroots advocacy organizations were making headway among legislators.

The lobbyist believes the safeguards built into the bill are inadequate. The bill stipulates that the person desiring physician-assisted suicide must have less than six months to live, be mentally competent, obtain confirmation of his/her terminal and rational state by two doctors and administer the lethal dose by themselves.

Tim Rosales, spokesperson for Californians Against Assisted Suicide, said his coalition of 10 groups, is also optimistic that the bill will be defeated.

AB 654 already faces strong opposition by Assembly Republicans. According to Rosales, more Democrats are expressing reservation about the bill as well.

On May 25, Democratic Assembly Appropriations Committee member Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) voted against the bill, and Gene Mullin (D-Millbrae) abstained from the vote.

Two other Assemblymembers, Cindy Montañez (D-San Fernando) and Nicole Parra (D-Hanford), had expressed their opposition April 12.

Parra told the diocesan newspaper that it was difficult to tell whether the bill would pass. “This is one of those pieces of legislation where the member must decide how they are going to vote based on their religious beliefs, past experiences and the facts," she said.

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Dominicans celebrate 200 years in the United States

Washington D.C., Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - The Dominican Friars marking their 200th anniversary of their foundation in the United States.

They will celebrate with a mass June 8 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The public is invited.

Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, will be the main celebrant and homilist at the 4:30 p.m. mass.

There will also be a number of special guests. The master of the Dominican Order from Rome, Fr. Carlos Azpiroz Costa, the provincial of the Dominican Friars from England, Fr. Allan White, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati, and all the friars of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph will be in attendance. 

Dominicans friars first came to the New World in the 1500s with the Spanish evangelizers. It was not until 1805 that the Dominican Friars were formally established with the creation of the Province of St. Joseph.

When the province was established in 1805, it comprised four friars; one was Fr. Edward Dominic Fenwick, who later became the first bishop of Cincinnati.

Today, the province has more than 250 friars who serve in parish ministry, hospital ministry, campus ministry, education, and retreat work in the archdioceses of Cincinnati, Hartford, Louisville, New York, and Washington, and in the dioceses of Columbus, Providence, Richmond, and Youngstown. 

The province has missionaries in Kenya, Philippines, and the Solomon Islands. It also operates Providence College in Rhode Island. The provincial offices are located in New York City.

For more information, write: [email protected]

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Forum gathers 600 to discuss future of religious life

Montreal, Canada, Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - The largest gathering of consecrated religious in Canada in the last 30 years will be held in Montreal this weekend, June 3-5.

About 600 religious sisters, priests and brothers from across the country will meet to participate in a three-day forum to consider and plan the future of religious life in the country.

Titled Religious Life in an Emerging Universe, the forum is sponsored by the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) and organized by its Committee of Theological Reflection on Religious Life.

Three booklets were produced by the CRC to guide the reflection for the weekend. They include: Religious Life in a Changing World, Religious Life in a Changing Church, and The Changing Face of Religious Life.

Forum participants will consider how religious life has evolved in their region of Canada, the reality of the current situation and how they would like to be present among Canadians in the years to come.

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Pope Benedict issues blessing for Canadian exhibit of Vatican art

Montreal, Canada, Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - A much-anticipated exhibit of more than 300 pieces of Vatican art was launched yesterday at an invitation-only gathering at Notre-Dame Basilica.

St. Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes is making its only Canadian and Eastern North American stop in Montreal. It features paintings, mosaics, vestments, liturgical objects and Vatican documents that trace the history of the papacy from St. Peter to the current day.

One of the oldest objects is a 4th-century mosaic of St. Peter. On display is also the legendary Mandylion of Edessa, a piece of linen with an image of Christ’s face and mounted in a frame. Legend has it that the object has miraculous powers of healing.

The exhibit also has items belonging to the still very young papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, such as the brilliant chalice he used to celebrate his first mass as Pope in the Sistine Chapel. Visitors can also see the urns in which the cardinals placed their votes and the apparatus that generated the white and black smoke signals, indicating to the world whether a new Pope had been elected.

A number of dignitaries were present, including Quebec’s two cardinals: Jean-Claude Turcotte, archbishop of Montreal, and Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec City. Quebec’s Lt.-Gov. Lise Thibeault, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, and Msgr. Roberto Zagnoli of the Vatican museums were also on hand.

In his address to the 400 people present, Cardinal Turcotte read a telegram from Pope Benedict XVI, which was sent for the occasion.

The Pope expressed his hope that those who see the beauty of the artwork will be drawn closer to Christ, and will grow in love and knowledge of God.

“The objects in this exhibit are the result of centuries of adoration and devotion to God,” said Cardinal Turcotte. “Art is one of the best ways to express our love for God.”

The cardinal then gave the exhibit his blessing, later saying: “I am happy that the people of Canada have access to these beautiful objects of the Vatican.”

“It is providential that the exhibit is here at this time, when people are very interested in the Vatican because of all of the recent events,” said Cardinal Ouellet. “It is an important resource for evangelization, through beauty, because God is the author of all beauty.”

Tribute to John Paul II

An entire section of the exhibit is dedicated to Pope John Paul II, and the most touching object by far is a bronze cast of the late pontiff’s hands. Visitors are encouraged to touch the bronze cast, which is the last object in the exhibit. One by one, each person yesterday clasped the bronze hand, some visibly moved and lingering there for nearly a minute.

This section also includes John Paul II’s well-known pastoral staff, which is topped with the crucified Christ, the hammer with which he knocked on the Holy Door for the Jubilee, and the cope and miter he wore on that occasion.

“It was Pope John Paul’s desire to have exhibits of Vatican art travel outside of Rome,” said Msgr. Zagnoli.

“John Paul would say, ‘Since it is not everybody who can go to the Vatican, the Vatican will go out to the people so that they know these objects belong to them, too.’ In this way, the door to the Vatican has opened on Canada and North America,” Msgr. Zagnoli said.

The exhibit was “marvelous,” said Guy Ouellet, who came with his wife. “I learned a lot about the papacy and the Church,” said the retired 69-year-old. Ouellet had never been able to travel to Rome, and said he had never seen such beautiful objects before. “I will definitely return before the summer is over and really take my time with the tour,” he said.

The Vatican treasures will be on exhibit in Montreal from June 4 to Sept. 18. It will then head to San Antonio and Milwaukee, before returning to Rome.

For more on the exhibit, go to

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Catholics oppose broadcast of “Popetown” in New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand, Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - A Catholic organization in New Zealand is insisting that a local television station scrap the broadcast of the highly controversial made-for-TV animation, Popetown.

Family Life International wrote to the managment of C4, saying that they were “dismayed” that the television station had intentions of broadcasting “the highly offensive” program.

Popetown was produced for the BBC, but it decided to shelve it after receiving complaints and realizing that it would cause offence to Catholics.

Popetown “is nothing more than a mockery of the leadership, practice and beliefs of Catholics,” said Brendan Malone, on behalf of Family Life International. The portrayal of the pope is “disrespectful and degrading,” he added.

The creators of the program describe the main character of the pope as a “77-year-old eccentric with all the charm of an obnoxious seven-year-old (who likes Fr. Nicholas so much that he takes baths with him).”

Popetown also includes sinister, corrupt and wealthy cardinals and the fame-obsessed TV reporter, Sr. Penelope.

The claim from the creators of Popetown that it is not meant to offend and that it is ‘not about the Vatican; it is about the hierarchy and bureaucracy in any company’ is absolutely ridiculous,” said Malone in his letter.

“Popetown is set in the Vatican; the main characters are Catholic clergy, cardinals, and religious sisters, and the Catholic Church is not a company. Despite any claims to the contrary, this program has everything to do with the Vatican,” he continued.

Malone is urging other Catholics to make their views on this program known to C4.

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Westminster Abbey counters Da Vinci Code

London, England, Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - Since one of London's top tourist attractions appeared in Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, tour guides have been inundated with questions from curious tourists. In an effort to help them counter the factual errors in the book, tour guides at Westminster Abbey were given information sheets, reported the Press Association.

The factual errors identified in the best-selling novel regarding the abbey include mentions of metal detectors, which don't exist, a claim that Alexander Pope delivered the eulogy at Isaac Newton's funeral, and the assertion that visitors can carry out brass rubbings.

The Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey condemned the novel as "theologically unsound."

The abbey has already refused permission for a film based on the book to be shot on the premises. Lincoln cathedral, however, is reported to have accepted £100,000 for film, which will star Tom Hanks.

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Chilean bishop calls for new era of reconciliation in wake of torture report

Santiago, Chile, Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Sergio Valech Aldunate of Santiago, Chile, called for a “new era of reconciliation in the country” this week after the publication of the final report on the use of torture during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and he expressed his hope for solutions “for the problems of the future and that the past be left behind.”

Bishop Valech, who headed the Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture for a year and half, sent the Commission’s final report to President Ricardo Lagos, which was drafted in response to the requests of 7,000 people who suffered incarceration to have their cases reevaluated.

Of these 7,000 cases, the Commission determined that 1,200 people suffered torture, among them 87 children under 12 years of age, who were either detained with their parents, born in prison, or even were still in the womb while their mothers were tortured.  In total, more than 28,000 people were affected by the Pinochet regime.

Bishop Valech acknowledged that, “to ask for pardon on behalf of the State is perhaps insufficient.”  Those listed in the report will receive economic reparations from the government, he announced.

Regarding criticism of the Commission’s work, Bishop Valech said, “People will never be happy about it, but we did what were asked to do as best we could.”

The Vice President of the Commission, Maria Luisa Sepulveda, noted that the 6,000 cases that were not recognized as violations of human rights correspond to persons detained during massive protests and were determined to be cases of “abuse of power.”

“We are not saying these things did not happen, but that they do correspond to the task of the Commission to determine which individuals were victims of imprisonment and torture,” she explained.  The Commission considered more than 35,000 testimonies.

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Church in Bolivia calls for national agreement in midst of growing crisis

La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia is calling on the government and on demonstration leaders to make their best effort to find a common solution to the problems facing the country and to do everything possible to stop the growing violence.

During a press conference, the Vice President of the Conference, Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto, expressed the “growing concern” of the Church for the situation and he pointed out that the Bolivian bishops are hopeful that “a solution within the bounds of democracy can be found soon.”

Hundreds and farmers and miners in Bolivia’s main cities have carried out numerous demonstrations.  The most recent tension comes from the efforts of leaders in the region of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, one of the country’s wealthiest, to gain autonomy.  The government supports a referendum on the issue but trade unions in the country are opposed.

“We call on the legislative and executive powers to assume the enormous responsibility they have right now before the country.  Their decisions will have an historical character because of the fundamental aspect of the problems and they could contribute to overcoming the climate of conflict we are living or they could make it worse with unforeseeable consequences,” warned Bishop Juarez.

The bishop’s statements came after a new round of protests in La Paz and in other areas of the country in which demonstrators blocked traffic on main highways, preventing movement between Bolivia and the surrounding countries of Chile, Peru, Argentina and Paraguay.

“Violence, whatever its source, only breeds greater pain and suffering; we hope that the media, at the same time that it provides information, will also contribute to creating an adequate environment for achieving the desired understanding,” he added.

Lastly, Bishop Juarez pointed out that “the great challenges facing the country, such as poverty and exclusion, continue to be present and should be resolved through the principles of social justice, respect for life, liberty and democracy, in unity and solidarity.”

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Gaudi’s Church of the Holy Family to be ready for worship in 2008

Barcelona, Spain, Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - The Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, the unfinished work of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, will be ready for worship in 2008 and its construction will be finished in 20 to 30 years if projections are accurate.

In order for the church to open its doors in 2008, project leader Joan Rigol, recently named to the post by the Archbishop of Barcelona, explained that will be necessary to finish the roof over several parts of the church that remain uncovered.  He said the project committee expects this stage to be completed in the next three years.

Rigol said one of the objectives of the project is to strengthen the ties between the church and the city.  Already the church receives more than 250,000 local visitors each year.  It’s also the most popular monument in the entire country of Spain, with more than two million visitors in 2004.

Archbishop Luis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona underscored that the Church of the Holy Family “is not only a great work of art,” but also “ a great catechesis in stone where one contemplates the entire life and mysteries of Jesus Christ,” in addition to being a “witness to the transcendence of God and of the Beyond.”

The archbishop also noted that the cathedral encompasses “three centuries of history,” and its author, Antoni Gaudi, was “a man a God who knew the Scriptures” and “understood things through prayer.”  For him, “God was beauty and he could give shape to that in art.”  “He was a great architect and a genius,” the archbishop said.

The chief architect of the church, Jordi Bonet, revealed a new work of art to be featured at the church, which will be a 196-foot statue of the ascension of Jesus, designed by Josep Maria Subirachs, a same sculptor who designed the façade that displays the mysteries of the Passion of Christ.

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Next CELAM meeting opportune moment for first papal visit to Latin America

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 3, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, Vice President of the Council of Latin American Bishops’ Conferences (CELAM), said this week the upcoming meeting of the bishops in some country of the region would be a great opportunity for Pope Benedict XVI to make his first papal visit to Latin America.

In an interview granted to the communications department of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Aguiar spoke about the 50th anniversary celebrations of CELAM and its 30th Ordinary Assembly which were held in Lima, Peru, in May.  At the meeting, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, made known the Holy See’s approval of the V Conference of CELAM.

According to Bishop Aguiar, the V Conference is Latin America’s best opportunity for a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.  “That the Pope has not sent us his answer is a sign that he is considering it as he is organizing his plans for these first two years,” he said.

The bishop also revealed that during a meeting with the Pope in April, “the Holy Father said he would not travel as much as John Paul II did because of his age and because the late Pope had already opened those doors.  Now Pope Benedict XVI had a new task and he said he would have to strategically choose the trips he would make.”

Bishop Aguiar said he was hopeful the Pope would accept the invitation.   At the CELAM meeting in Lima, Cardinal Re said the Pope would respond to the bishops in September.

The bishops had previously considered holding their V Conference in Rome due to Pope John Paul II’s declining health, but with the election of a new Pontiff, said Bishop Aguiar, the possibility now exists that the meeting could be held in Latin America.  At the meeting in Lima, numerous bishops suggested holding the Conference in Argentina or Chile.  That decision will be made by the Holy Father.

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