Vatican City, Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - During a meeting with the pilgrims from the Italian Diocese of Verona, Pope Benedict XVI called on married couples to be witnesses of God’s fidelity. “You have come to be confirmed in the faith,” he told the pilgrims, who are celebrating the end of a three-year long diocesan synod, “and I, called just a short time ago to this serious duty, am happy to greet (you) ... and to encourage you in the commitment of giving a Christian witness in today's world.”
Noting that the culminating phase of the synod occurs during the Year of the Eucharist, the Pope recalled that the Church “lives by the Eucharist”. “In the Eucharist, as I said last Sunday in Bari at the end of the National Eucharistic Congress, Christ is really present among us. His is not a static presence. It is a dynamic presence which takes hold of us to make us His, to assimilate us to Himself,” he added.
“Our spiritual life,” said the Holy Father, “essentially depends on the Eucharist. Without it, faith and hope are extinguished, charity becomes cold. Thus, dear friends, I exhort you to attend ever more to the quality of Eucharistic celebrations, especially on Sundays, so that Sunday will truly be the Lord's Day and will confer fullness of meaning on everyday events and activities.”
Benedict XVI then noted that the family is also one of the themes of the diocesan synod. He said that in this diocese, as in so many others, “divorces and irregular unions have increased and for Christians this is an urgent call to proclaim and give witness to, in its entirety, the Gospel of life and the family” which “is founded on indissoluble matrimony. Notwithstanding the difficulties and social and cultural conditionings of the current historical moment, may Christian couples never cease to be with their lives a sign of God's faithful love.”
Warsaw, Poland, Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - During an interview with Polish state radio, Pope John Paul II's longtime private secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, revealed he has preserved the late pontiff's personal notes instead of burning them, as his will demanded.
Archbishop Dziwisz, who worked with the Pope from 1966 until his death in April, was appointed last Friday as the new Archbishop of Krakow, Poland’s second largest diocese.
“Nothing has been burned. Nothing is fit for burning, everything should be preserved and kept for history, for the future generations - every single sentence,” said Dziwisz during Saturday's radio interview.
“These are great riches that should gradually be made available to the public,” he added.
The Archbishop-elect also suggested that some of the notes could prove useful in the late pontiff's beatification process, especially after Pope Benedict XVI lifted the five-year waiting period to start the process.
Dziwisz said he took his own daily notes throughout John Paul's papacy, but didn’t say if he would publish them.
Like Pope John Paul, Pope Paul VI requested in his will that his personal unpublished writings be burnt. His personal secretary, Msgr. Pasquale Macchi, who later became the Archbishop of Loretto (Italy,) accomplished his will.
Washington D.C., Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - While reports on the May 6 resignation of Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, as editor of America magazine focused on the heavy-handedness of Pope Benedict XVI, a prominent Catholic analyst believes the more interesting story is why the Jesuits’ superior general allowed the longtime editor to resign at this time, when he had consistently ignored complaints under Pope John Paul II.
The Vatican’s last request for Fr. Reese’s resignation came in March, reported the National Catholic Reporter.
“The real news from this chain of events is the fact that the superior general of the Jesuits has decided to stop ‘fighting’ the imposition of Vatican authority,” said Deal Hudson, former editor and publisher of Crisis magazine.
“Fr. Reese appears, to me at least, as a victim of Jesuit culture finally being brought to task,” he wrote in an article published in the June 3 issue of The Window.
Hudson argued that his view seemed corroborated by the resignation 10 days earlier of a lay outreach coordinator of the Jesuit Conference, Erik Meder, who had published an article on homosexual clergy in the National Jesuit News.
“In allowing Fr. Reese to resign Fr. [Peter-Hans] Kolvenbach created the perfect opportunity for the media, both Catholic and secular, to generate negative buzz over the selection of Benedict XVI,” Hudson wrote.
“The Reese resignation confirmed [the left’s] worst fears and gave them an early opportunity to make a public case against the former prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith,” he continued
However, this outcry in the press will “not deter Vatican determination to bring doctrinal fidelity to Catholic institutions that shape the future of the Church,” Hudson said.
He believes the “real staging area” for the new Pope’s initiatives will be in the 46 US seminaries, not in “a handful of magazines.”
Hudson reported that a team of 75 bishops and 100 priests, coordinated by Archbishop O'Brien, are to begin inspecting seminaries in the near future. Archbishop O’Brien is the current military vicar and former rector of the North American College in Rome.
He also cites Fr. Giles Dimock, OP, who believes that Fr. Reese’s resignation sends an additional message to Catholic colleges, universities, and seminaries that if you have a Catholic identity, you need to hold what the Church teaches. Fr. Dimock is a professor of liturgy and sacramental theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - During the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI called on Christians to pray that priests may never place anything above the love of Christ.
The Pope noted that the June 3 feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was also “the world day for the sanctification of priests, a propitious occasion to pray that priests place nothing above love of Christ.”
“One person deeply devoted to the Heart of Christ was Blessed Bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, patron of migrants," who "founded the missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, also known as the Scalabrinians, to proclaim the Gospel among Italian emigrants.”
He went on to say that "the heart that most resembled Christ's was without doubt the heart of Mary, his Immaculate Mother. ... We entrust to her Immaculate Heart, whose feast was yesterday, the entire world so that it might feel God's merciful love and know true peace.”
After the Angelus, speaking about the recent feasts of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Pope referred to the tense atmosphere in Bolivia, where the Church is trying to help resolve a situation of unrest and protests, and asked for the liberation in Afghanistan of the Italian hostage Clementina Cantoni.
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - The Pontifical Council for Culture has convened its members and consultors on the American continent for a plenary meeting that will take place in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil,) from June 7 to 12.
According to sources at the pontifical council, headed by Cardinal Paul Poupard, the theme of the meeting, which follows the encounter that took place in Puebla (Mexico) in 2001, is "The Pastoral Ministry of Culture, a New Look at the Dawn of the Third Millennium."
Following opening remarks by Cardinal Eusebio Oscar Scheid, S.C.I., Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Cardinal Poupard will speak on “Current Cultural Challenges and the New Dynamism of the Pastoral Ministry of Culture in America.”
The eight scheduled work sessions will treat various aspects of the pastoral ministry of culture: the family; youth and education; the media; universities and the public square; indigenous and Afro-American cultures; migration; rural culture; urban culture; sects and the path to beauty.
In the final session a document will be read and approved that will serve as a guide for the next continental meeting in 2009.
Sacramento, Calif., Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - California’s same-sex marriage license bill was defeated Thursday by four votes in the California State Assembly, leaving pro-family groups pleased and relieved.
"We've avoided this particular bullet, but more attacks on marriage are coming from judges in San Francisco," said Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families.
Within the year, a San Francisco state appeals court may uphold a previous ruling that the definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is unconstitutional.
Thomasson said Californians are realizing that if marriage is to remain the union of one man and one woman, the state must pass a constitutional amendment “to override the politicians and judges who have such blatant disregard for marriage and the voters.”
A statewide marriage-protection movement, called VoteYesMarriage.com, filed the California Marriage Amendment May 19. The "Voters' Right to Protect Marriage Initiative" was filed with the Attorney General's office for title and summary. The amendment would protect the definition of marriage, marriage licenses and the rights bestowed to married couples under the law.
Petitions will be available in late July. For more information, go to: www.voteyesmarriage.com
Covington, Ky., Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of Covington has agreed to the largest settlement yet for alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse.
The diocese announced Friday that it will create a $120-million fund to compensate alleged victims. The diocese said $40 million would come from church real estate and investments, and $80 million would come from insurance, reported the Associated Press.
The settlement still needs approval by a state judge. The diocese was expected to go to trial earlier this year, but it was postponed due to the settlement talks. More than 100 alleged victims had filed a class-action lawsuit and accused the diocese of a 50-year abuse cover-up.
In a statement, the diocese indicated that the fund "encompasses all persons, known and unknown, who were abused during the 50-year class period." According to AP, lawyers have said that number could be in the hundreds, and it could be months before an exact number is known.
Compensation would range from $5,000 to $450,000 per person, and a portion of the fund would be used to provide counseling.
"After personally meeting with more than 70 victims, I am painfully aware that no amount of money can compensate for the harm these victims suffered as innocent children," said Bishop Roger Foys in a statement. "Nevertheless, I pray that this settlement will bring some measure of peace and healing to victims and their loved ones."
In 2003, the Archdiocese of Louisville settled with 243 plaintiffs for $25.7 million, and the Archdiocese of Boston settled with 552 victims for $85 million. Last year, the Diocese of Orange County, Calif., agreed to a $100-million settlement for 87 plaintiffs.
Covington is much smaller than any of these dioceses, and a spokesman would not comment on why the amount was so much greater than other settlements, reported AP.
Covington settled another 56 abuse claims in the last 18 months, paying $4 million from its savings and $6.5 million from insurance.
, Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic League is demanding that an image of Pope Benedict XVI surrounded by swastikas be removed from a Florida art exhibit at the Broward Art Guild.
The New York-based national organization argues that the piece should be removed because it is offensive to Catholics. The league says the action would be justified since another art piece considered offensive to homosexuals had been previously removed.
Catholic League president William Donohue said he was alerted to the issues regarding the art exhibit, called Controversy, May 31.
The Sun Sentinel had reported May 27 that one of the artists, Michael Friedman, had complained to Mary Becht, director of the Broward County Department of Cultural Affairs, about an entry by Alfred Phillips, depicting President George Bush being sodomized.
Becht agreed and told the guild’s director, Susan Buzzi, to move it to “a less prominent space within the gallery.”
It was subsequently “set near a corner of the gallery facing the wall.”
“The irony,” said Donohue, “is that Friedman’s own contribution was allowed to stand: it shows Pope Benedict XVI surrounded by swastikas.”
In a letter to Becht May 31, which Donohue both faxed and mailed, he wrote: “I would like to see equal treatment afforded the anti-Catholic art of Michael Friedman that you gave to the work by Alfred Phillips.”
Donohue said he left a message June 2 for Becht to call him with a response to his letter. She said she never received the letter, even though someone in her office had signed for the delivery June 1.
So Donohue faxed the letter again, and received what he describes as “an evasive letter that refused to come to grips with the request that I made.”
As a result, Donohue said, he is taking matters further and writing to the Broward County Commissioners; Broward Cultural Affairs Council Members; Broward County Administrator; President, Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau; Florida Arts Council Members; Secretary of State.
“The duplicity is sickening: gay bashing is out but Catholic bashing is in,” said Donohue. “That’s the message being sent and that is why justice must be done.”
Vatican City, Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - The Italian daily, Secolo d’Italia, is reporting that Joaquin Navarro-Valls will stay on as official spokesman and director of the Holy See’s Press Office.
Navarro-Valls said his continuing on the post had been confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI. He has held the position since being named by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
“It’s not easy to say ‘no’ to a Pope,” Navarro-Valls said during the interview.
Havana, Cuba, Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - Cuban church officials revealed this week that Pope Benedict XVI, in a message sent through Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, exhorted the Church in Cuba to give impulse to “an untiring missionary action.”
The message, sent last week to the National Assembly of Missions meeting in Havana and published by the Spanish news agency EFE, was read by the Apostolic Nuncio en Cuba, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, before the delegates from Cuba’s eleven dioceses.
Pope Benedict invited participants in the gathering to “give new impulse to the untiring missionary action” in response to “the challenges of today’s society, giving thanks to God for the past and the present of the life of this beloved Church in Cuba.”
The Pope recalled that “the evangelistic work of the Church is a responsibility of all her members” and he exhorted them “to strengthen the spirituality and missionary vocation in those who are committed to this task, so that they may be a flame that ignites missionary fervor in their own surroundings.”
The Assembly brought together most of the country’s bishops, as well as 141 delegates consisting of 6 priests, 14 religious, 11 permanent deacons, 110 lay missionaries and 23 seminarians.
San Diego, Calif., Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - Fifty young adults are walking 1,300 miles to declare the pro-life message that human life is sacred and must be protected from conception to natural death.
Three groups of young people, from the United States, Canada and Mexico, are participating in the Crusade for Life and left on their respective walks May 30.
The first group left from San Diego and will head to Sacramento. The second group headed from Minneapolis to Erie, PA. The third group started in Augusta, ME to Washington, DC.
"The 50 young adults who are participating are so passionate about the pro-life ministry and the Eucharist, as well as about the denial of Holy Communion, out of love, for those who do not fully embrace the Church's teachings,” said Emily Bissonnette, media director for Crusade for Life.
It is commitment like this, which reminds us that this is not a political endeavor or a ploy to campaign for certain candidates,” she added.
EWTN’s Life on the Rock will feature five-minute segments on the young “Crusaders” throughout the summer.
For more information, go to: www.crusadeforlife2005.com
Asunción, Paraguay, Jun 6, 2005 (CNA) - The first Paraguayan Congress on Palliative Medicine took place this weekend in Asuncion, in an effort to provide a moral alternative to euthanasia. Palliative medicine, as a medical field, deals with care for terminally ill patients, both at the physical and psychiatric level, assuring them relief from pain.
The Congress was held on Friday and Saturday at the Granados Park Hotel and was organized by the St. Rafael Foundation, the Paraguayan Society for Palliative Medicine, the Cancer Institute and the Paraguayan Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Among the experts who participated were Marcos Gomez Sancho, founder and director of the Palliative Care Unit at the Gran Canaries Hospital in Spain.
Physical therapist Thomas Solente, and Pedro Kriskovich, a volunteer at the House of Divine Providence, said the event aimed to reach out to people who work with terminally ill patients, listen to analysis by international experts on the latest medical advances and “reflect on the importance of professional and ethical care for the infirm.”