Vatican City, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - On Monday evening, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a landmark conference on life and family, in which he strongly emphasized the reasons why the Catholic Church supports the life of the unborn and marriage as between one man and one woman, while strongly criticizing relativism.
The Pope delivered his long, highly articulate speech at the Roman Basilica of St. John Lateran during the inauguration of a Conference promoted by the Diocese of Rome on the theme, “The Family and the Christian Community: Formation of the Person and Transmission of the Faith.”
The Pontiff offered some reflections on “the meaning of marriage and the family in the plan of God, Creator and Savior.”
Speaking about the natural foundation of the Family, the Pope said, "The human being has been created in the image and likeness of God and God Himself is Love. Thus, the vocation to love is what makes man the authentic image of God.”
“From this basic link between God and man comes another: the indissoluble link between spirit and body," he explained. "The totality of man," he continued, "includes the dimension of time and man's 'yes' ... means 'always', it is the space of fidelity. Only within it can one grow in faith."
He added that "the greatest expression of freedom ... is the capacity to choose a definitive gift in which freedom, giving of itself, fully finds itself. Concretely, the personal and reciprocal 'yes' between a man and a woman ... is destined to the gift of a new life" and it is also a "public 'yes' with which the spouses take on the public responsibility of fidelity."
Benedict XVI underscored that "the various forms of dissolving marriages today, as well as free unions and 'trial marriages', including pseudo-marriage between people of the same sex, are, rather, expressions of an anarchical freedom, which passes itself off, wrongly, as the true liberation of man. Such pseudo-freedom is based on making the body banal, which inevitably includes making man banal."
Marriage in the History of Salvation
The Pope then recalled that "biblical revelation, in fact, is above all the expression of a story of love, the story of the covenant of God with man; therefore the story of the love and union between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage was able to be assumed by God as a symbol of the history of salvation."
"In the same way that the Incarnation of the Son of God reveals its true meaning in the cross, authentic human love is the giving of oneself and cannot exist if a person wishes to rid himself of the cross," he added.
The Holy Father underscored several negative tendencies that are in opposition to "the profound link between God and man, between God's love and human love. ... In fact, the lack of appreciation of human love, the suppression of the authentic capacity to love is revealed in our times as the most adept and efficacious weapon for removing God from man, for distancing Him from man's gaze and from his heart."
Children and abortion
Pope Benedict explained later that children are not a “right” or a “possession,” but a gift from God. "Even in generating children,” he explained, “marriage reflects its divine model, the love of God for man.” It is "contrary to human love, to the profound vocation of man and woman, systematically to close one's union to the gift of life, and still more so to suppress or alter the life of the unborn," he added.
“For this reason the building of every single Christian family is placed within the larger context of the great family of the Church, which sustains it and bears it within itself."
The Threat of Relativism
The Holy Father saved his final words to tackle the threat of relativism. "Today an especially insidious obstacle to the work of education is the massive presence, in our society and culture, of a relativism which, while recognizing nothing as definitive, establishes as a final measure only one's ‘Me,’ with one's own desires and which, under the appearance of freedom, becomes for each person a prison,” he said.
“Within such a relativistic horizon, “he warned, “it is not possible to have a true education: without the light of truth, sooner or later every person is in fact condemned to doubt the goodness of his own life and the relationships that comprise it, to doubt the validity of his commitment to build, with others, something in common.”
“It is therefore clear that not only must we seek to overcome relativism in our work of forming people, but we are also called to fight its predominant place in society and culture," he concluded.
Vatican City, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - A delegation of the Russian Federation headed by its Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergei Lavrov, visited the Holy See this Tuesday and, for the first time, officially invited a Vatican top official to visit the country.
Minister Lavrov, who has accompanied by Vitaly Litvin, Russian Ambassador to the Holy See, met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, Secretary for Relations with States.
According to the Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, “In the course of the meeting there was an exchange of viewpoints on bilateral relations between the Holy See and Russia and on the international situation, with particular regard to the dialogue between cultures and to collaboration within international organizations.”
“The meeting, “according to Navarro-Valls, “underscored the existing cordial relations and the possibility of further developing them. To this end, Minister Lavrov invited Archbishop Lajolo to Moscow next autumn."
The late Pope John Paul tried to visit Moscow on several occasions but always faced the staunch opposition of the Russian Orthodox leaders, who still accuse the Catholic Church of “proselytism” within what they consider as “canonical territory of the Russian Orthodox Church.”
Covington, Ky., Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - Parishioners in the Diocese of Convington are supportive of the $120-million fund that diocesan officials have offered to set aside to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse.
The Associated Press interviewed a number of parishioners at St. Anthony Parish festival in nearby Taylor Mill. While some of them voiced their concerns about the financial strain this would put on the diocese, others said the settlement was fair and that the scandal hasn’t negatively impacted their faith.
Yesterday, the diocese announced the $120-million settlement offer — the largest settlement offer to date in the U.S. It must still be approved by a court judge. The settlement would resolve a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 100 alleged victims, who accuse the diocese of a cover-up. However, the fund would encompass all known and unknown cases within a 50-year window. Lawyers have said it may take months before all claims surface.
“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 Foys in a statement yesterday. “Nevertheless, I pray that this settlement will bring some measure of peace and healing to victims and their loved ones.”
He offered his apology to abuse victims and said the diocese is doing all that is “humanly possible” to assure that such behavior never happens again.
“I am thankful that a settlement could be worked out which provides for compensation and professional counseling for victims but which also preserves intact the parishes and the essential ministry and administrative functions of the diocese."
The $120 million will come from a combination real estate and savings, and insurance. The diocese said the Catholic Center/Marydale — which includes the diocesan offices, the diocesan retreat center and Cristo Rey Parish church — has been tagged as real estate that will contribute to the settlement fund. The diocese is moving its offices to a nearby medical office building.
However, Bishop Foys hopes to develop a plan to redeem a portion of the Catholic Center/Marydale property, principally the former seminary building and the priests' cemetery.
To read the terms of the settlement go to:
Paris, France, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - French gay-rights activists took their legal battle for same-sex marriage into a Catholic church this week.
About 20 members of the group Act Up entered Paris’ historic Notre-Dame Cathedral and proceeded to perform a mock marriage of two lesbians in front of baffled tourists and worshippers
One activist dressed as a priest and pronounced the two women married. Others chanted: "Pope Benedict XVI, homophobe, AIDS accomplice."
Security officials chased them out of the cathedral, where clashes broke out. Msgr. Patrick Jacquin, who ran outside as well, was pulled into the clash and suffered a neck injury. He was treated at the scene.
"They are savages. I was pushed to the ground and trampled, kicked in the neck,” Msgr. Jacquin said. "It's a scandal for these people to lash out at me and the Pope."
He said he was considering filing charges.
The demonstration marked the anniversary of France's first gay wedding last year, which has since been declared null and void by the French courts.
Ottawa, Canada, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - A federal politician left the ruling Liberal Party yesterday to sit as an Independent over issues concerning Canada’s same-sex marriage legislation.
Ontario member of Parliament Pat O'Brien announced his decision yesterday at a press conference, saying that he doesn't like how the Liberals are handling parliamentary committee hearings on the same-sex marriage legislation.
The 57-year-old, who has been very vocal about his opposition to same-sex marriage, had said he would consider leaving the party over the issue in April. But he said at the time the prime minister had convinced him to stay by giving him assurances that “meaningful and fair” hearings would be held on Bill C-38.
“That's not what's happening, in my judgment," the MP for London-Fanshawe said.
He complained that the hearings were given an unnecessary June 14 deadline and said he didn’t understand the rush the Liberals were putting on the bill. He said witnesses are only given 24 hours' notice to appear and they are often berated by hearings committee members.
O’Brien’s move is also significant because the Liberals are a minority government, with now only 133 seats in the House of Commons. The Conservatives have 98 seats, the Bloc Québécois 54, the NDP 19 and four independents.
Boulder, Colo., Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - Although many Catholics are quick to write off the Latin Mass, believing it died years ago, in Boulder Colorado, it’s experiencing something of a renaissance.
St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church, nestled under the foothills on the city’s south side, will celebrate its one-year anniversary of holding the once-a-month Mass, which has drawn attendees from around Boulder and Colorado.
According to parishoner Bob Tinder, the liturgy, which is offered on the last Sunday of each month at 10:30 a.m., “is a Latin version of the Novus Ordo Mass, a format adopted in the 1970s by the Second Vatican Council and used daily in Catholic parishes worldwide.”
Fr. Hermanagild Jayachandra, the church’s pastor, said that the Latin Mass came at the suggestion of lay members of the parish.
“The request surprised me,” he said, “but I was even more surprised by the positive reaction of our parishioners…We’re a small and intimate community, and we knew right away that the people liked the Mass.”
“Older parishioners are reminded of the Mass of their childhoods,” he continued, “and younger parishioners, including college students, say the service is a special experience.”
Organizing the liturgy, Parish music director Aimee Milburn soon discovered, was to be a major undertaking. According to Tinder, she first “searched the Internet as well as published materials to find the Latin for the Novus Ordo Mass. She constructed a 16-page booklet containing the Order of the Mass in Latin and English that includes a pronunciation guide for Latin.”
Milburn realized however, that because many Latin pronunciations are difficult—especially if one has never heard them before, it became necessary for the church to form a Gregorian schola, or small choir, to assist with the liturgy, which is actually a mix of English and Latin parts.
Since its conception, the choir has now grown to include a strong mix of both male and female voices.
The parish is excited over what they have accomplished, described as “a beautiful service that authentically blends Latin into the contemporary liturgical setting.”
Fr. Jayachandra explained that many mistakenly think the Church outlawed the Latin Mass after the second Vatican Council.
“But”, he said, “Latin was never forbidden,” noting the funeral Masses for Pope John Paul II, and the installation liturgies for Benedict XVI, which were celebrated in Latin.
“It’s still the official language of the Catholic Church,” he said. “And as the world recently witnessed, Latin liturgies are both spiritually and esthetically pleasing.”
More information on St. Martin de Porres Latin Mass can be found at www.stmartindeporreschurch.org
Havana, Cuba, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - An analyst of the Cubanet news agency said this week that despite efforts by the Castro regime to portray itself as open to religious freedom, no such freedom exists in Cuba.
“You cannot speak of religious freedom in the Cuba of today. The certain freedom that exists to exercise some religious practice is far from authentic religious freedom,” said Jorge Ramon Castillo in an article entitled, “Is There Religious Freedom in Cuba?”
“In Cuba there is no religious freedom. Its a sad reality that surprises many because of the successful manipulation carried out by the regime through its sophisticated, sometimes subtle, propaganda machine in order to confuse it with freedom of worship,” Castillo wrote.
The Cuban analyst looked back at the country’s history and noted that the “lack of religious freedom began with the revolution in 1959. The Catholic Church was the religious institution most attacked by the revolutionary horde that came to power.”
Castillo recalled that “a considerable number of priests and religious were detained and later expelled from the country,” “all of the Catholic centers of assistance and schools were closed,” while “the anti-clerical nature of the new revolutionary government blossomed, resembling the position of other revolutions in relation to the Catholic Church and religion.”
“In a subtle way the government harassed those who declared themselves to be believers and had them expelled from their jobs and schools. They could not aspire to attend college,” Castillo noted. Thousands, he explained, were recruited into a government work program that “became a sort of concentration camp for seminarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, believers, hippies, and any other person considered useless by the socialist system.” Castillo recalled that even Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, was once sent to such a camp.
According to Castillo, “frightened by the prevailing ideology, millions of Cubans abandoned their beliefs and declared themselves to be atheists. Those who declared themselves to be believers condemned themselves and their families to the harshest of ostracisms.”
Castillo maintained that only “during the 90s, after the communist collapse in Eastern Europe did the regime have to implement some social, political and economic measures that it would certainly have never granted.”
“Christian denominations separate from Catholicism began to gain favor due to their elite leaders aligning themselves with the regime. Protestant pastors today enjoy seats in the National Assembly. Their unconditional support of the socialist system came to light when they took part in the litigations surrounding Elian Gonzalez,” Castillo noted.
“The Catholic Church had to await the visit of Pope John Paul II in order to make certain gains that could never be compared to what the Church had before the revolution,” he explained.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - During a press conference on ethics in the media organized by the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications (INDOTEL), Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, said human beings were not meant to engage in dances that are proper “for dogs.”
Referring to certain popular dance styles that are receiving coverage in the media, the cardinal criticized a popular type of reggae music whose rhythms and beats, he said, do not correspond to “the best expressions of art and inspiration.”
The cardinal said another dance style known as the “doggy dance,” which includes very sensual and immodest contact between dance partners and is danced to reggae music, “may be very popular, but I don’t think it is meant for human beings.”
“Let’s leave the ‘doggy dance’ to the dogs,” the cardinal added. “Human beings have never had the pretension to be dogs. Therefore, let’s establish a clear and categorical difference between one thing and the other,” he stated.
Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez also criticized the way in which television has been promoting homosexuality as something “normal.” “We already have a lot of unpleasant things to watch (on T.V.) let alone to have to tolerate these kinds of things,” he concluded.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - One of Scotland’s most well known lawyers was forced to resign his chairmanship of the Faculty of Advocates after making anti-Catholic comments in public and telling a joke about the death of Pope John Paul II.
Donald Findlay and former Rangers Football Club goalkeeper Andy Goram were alleged to have delivered routines with obscenities and jokes about Catholics in a Rangers social club in Northern Ireland.
Findlay reportedly said to an audience of around 140 people: “It’s very smoky in here tonight – has another f***ing pope died?”
The Sunday Herald reported that as a result, Findlay, 54, was faced with a unanimous vote of no confidence from the faculty’s board of directors after a meeting of senior advocates in Edinburgh. Some legal experts have speculated that Findlay could even face suspension.
This behavior is not new for Findlay, who had to resign as vice-chairman of the Rangers Football Club six years ago after being filmed singing Orange songs at a social club.
“This is an example of how Scottish society is no longer prepared to tolerate this type of behavior,” a spokesman for the anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth told the Herald.
There is a growing movement against sectarianism in Scotland. And, since First Minister Jack McConnell has launched a personal crusade against sectarianism, the penalties are likely to be higher.
Beijing, China, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - Chinese authorities released a 75-year-old Catholic priest June 1, after he was detained for two months, the Cardinal Kung Foundation reported yesterday. Fr. Zhao Kexun belongs to China's unofficial Catholic church.
Government security agents arrested Fr. Kexun March 30 as he returned from celebrating mass at a private home. The priest served as an administrator of the diocese in Xuanhua in the northern province of Hebei.
The Cardinal Kung Foundation has said 33 members of seven dioceses in Hebei have been arrested and imprisoned. Priests have been detained in other in other provinces as well.
The foundation hopes the priest’s release marks the beginning of more releases of Catholic bishops, priests and faithful.
The detentions are also reminders of the ongoing tension between China and the Vatican. While both have publicly declared a desire to restore diplomatic relations, China has stated that it wants the Vatican to sever ties with Taiwan.
La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia announced it would offer mediation in the social crisis gripping the country with the condition that there be a stop to all “attitudes of violence and intransigence” and that all radical demands yield to dialogue.
The Conference issued their statement shortly after a meeting between Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandova, Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and top government officials, following the dramatic resignation of President Carlos Mesa.
The statement said government leaders were willing to work for concrete solutions to the problems affecting the country “within the bounds of the Bolivian constitution.”
The bishops also called for “patriotic gestures” on the part of all Bolivians and the ceasing of all “attempts to pressure,” especially those that are taking place in La Paz and which endanger “those most poor,” and to ensure such measures do not spread to other cities in the country.
Likewise the bishops asked the media to “collaborate in the pacification of the country” by promoting “a spirit of dialogue that would help to find effective and long-lasting solutions to the problems for the benefit of all.”
Protest leader rejected calls by the bishops to cease demonstrations and blockades and continued in their calls for a constitutional assembly and the nationalization of the country’s natural gas industry.
They expressed their willingness to participate in negotiations mediated by the bishops but they refused to lift their attempts to apply pressure and said demonstrations could intensify.
Madrid, Spain, Jun 7, 2005 (CNA) - A statement by the Archdiocese of Madrid in support of the pro-family demonstrations to take place on June 18 was read in numerous parishes throughout the Spanish capital this past Sunday.
Thousands of people are expected to gather on that date to express their disapproval of same-sex unions and the adoption of children by homosexual couples.
The statement, which was written by the Lay Council of the archdiocese, was read at the end of Mass in parishes throughout Madrid. Officials expected it to be read in all of the archdiocese’s parishes by next Sunday.
In the statement, the Lay Council expressed its support of “the demonstrations called for by the Spanish Forum on the Family, and to which many other institutions and religious confessions have responded, and we invite all to participate in the gathering.”
The statement was requested by the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, in order “to directly inform about the demonstration scheduled for June 18 and about the motives behind it, as well as to invite people to respond as much as possible to the call,” Auxiliary Bishop of Madrid, Fidel Herraez, emphasized in a letter to priests.
Bishop Juan Jose Omella of Calahorra and Secretary of the Committee on Social Ministry of the Bishops Conference of Spain, expressed his support for the demonstrations being organized by the laity, who wish “to have their voices heard.” He offered his prayers for the success of the event and expressed hope that “the leaders who talk so much (about dialogue) will listen to the cries of the people.”