Archive of June 8, 2005

Pope reflects on God’s maternal love

Vatican City, Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking before some 35,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Wednesday General Audience, Commenting Psalm 110 during the general audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on God’s maternal love portrayed in Psalm 110.

The Pontiff explained how "this hymn of praise and thanksgiving contains many terms defining God's attributes and His work of salvation. Words are used such as: 'gracious,' 'merciful,' 'power,' 'faithful,' 'uprightness,' 'trustworthy,' 'covenant,' 'wonderful works,' and even 'food'."

The psalm "opens with thanks to the Lord for His works not only from the heart of the psalmist, but also from the entire liturgical assembly. The aim of this prayer ... is expressed in the word 'works,' meaning the Lord's salvific acts and expression of His 'justice,' a term that in biblical language refers primarily to the love that generates salvation."

“'Graciousness' is the divine grace that envelops and transfigures the faithful, while 'mercifulness' is expressed in the Hebrew original with a characteristic term evoking the Lord's maternal 'womb,' even more merciful than that of a mother," the Holy Father explained.

Benedict XVI said that "this bond of love includes the fundamental gift of food, and hence of life, which in the Christian interpretation will be identified with the Eucharist."

The psalm closes "with the contemplation of the divine countenance, of the person of the Lord, expressed by His holy and transcendent ‘name’'"

"The psalmist,” he continued, “invites all the faithful to cultivate 'fear of the Lord,' the beginning of true wisdom. This term does not conceal fear or terror, but sincere and serious respect, genuine and active adherence to the liberating God."

"If the first word of the psalm was one of thanksgiving, the last is one of praise: the Lord's salvific justice is without end. Thus the psalmist's gratitude knows no pause, it resounds in his prayer that 'endures forever'," he concluded.

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Gay militant group slams Pope’s remarks on homosexual “marriage”

Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - Joe Solmonese, President of the gay militant organization “Human Rights Campaign” (HRC), issued a statement yesterday criticizing Pope Benedict XVI for his remarks against same-sex “marriage.”

“It is unfortunate that the pope would choose so early in his pontificate to sweepingly condemn so many faithful Catholics,” said Solmonese, who went on to say that the Holy Father’s words contribute to “divide his followers.”

On Monday, during a conference on Family and the Church, Pope Benedict, in talking about marriage equality the pope referenced "pseudo-matrimonies" and said, “Matrimony and the family are not, in reality, a casual sociological construction or the fruit of specific historic and economic situations.”

Solmonese said these remarks were “anti-gay.”

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Religion important to Americans, new poll reveals

Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - Americans are far more likely to consider religion central to their lives and to believe that religious leaders should have their say in public policy than people in nine other developed countries, says a recent AP-Ipsos poll.

The poll was conducted last month. It surveyed 1,000 people in each of the following 10 countries: the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, South Korea and Spain.

Nearly all U.S. respondents said faith was important to them; only 2 percent said they did not believe in God. In addition, almost 40 percent agreed that religious leaders should join public debates and try to influence government policy and legislation.The poll found Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to agree with the latter.

Mexicans came close to Americans in embracing faith, but the poll indicates that they strongly object to clerical involvement in public policy.

Citizens in Western European countries were the least likely say that religion was central to their lives. Italy was the only exception with 80 percent saying that religion is significant and just over half saying they believe in God. Still, Italians are not strongly in favor of mixing religion and politics.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

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Pope Benedict to meet top Jewish delegation on Thursday

Vatican City, Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI will receive on Thursday a group of 25 Jews representing the world's major Jewish organizations, according to a statement released by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

The delegation will be led by Rabbi Israel Singer, president of the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC) of New York.  The IJCIC is an international organization comprised of all Jewish agencies in the world involved in inter-religious dialogue.

According to the Vatican press release, “The Holy See Commission for Religious Relations with Jews has been meeting for the past 35 years with the IJCIC which, as a partner in dialogue, has shown itself to be very useful in a not-always easy context.”

There have been 18 periodic meetings of the Catholic-Jewish International Liaison Committee. The last meeting took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina in July 2004.

The Vatican also announced that on October 27, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Vatican II’s Declaration "Nostra Aetate," –which marked a new approach to the Jews-- a high-level Jewish delegation will be present for the commemoration.

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Denver Archbishop says historic inaccuracies not helpful in Jewish-Catholic relations

Cordoba, Spain, Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - Both Jews and Christians must have a clear understanding of history in order to advance in their relationship and ensure that the horrors of the Holocaust are not repeated, said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver.

The archbishop was speaking at a conference on anti-Semitism in Cordoba, Spain, June 8. The conference was held as a simultaneous event to the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The archbishop said Catholics are concerned about the Holocaust as the “central human tragedy of our time” and as “a religious catastrophe in which millions of people who claimed to be Christians enabled, colluded in or ignored mass murder.

“Since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has called on Catholics to examine and purify their memories of history; to reconnect with the Jewish roots of their faith and, where possible, to seek to repair relations with the Jewish people,” he said.

But in order to repair relations and prevent future occurrences, people must have a clear understanding of history, he continued. The problem, he said, is that most people don’t

“Americans have no memory,” he said. “American students have a very poor grasp of history, and American Catholics can sometimes be among the worst. 

“No one can really repent, really change, or really find hope without a memory. It does no good to repent of the past if we don't understand history's real events and their context,” he said.

The archbishop also warned against Christians and Jews against “laundering” or “blackening” historical records to either evade or enhance historical truth.

Archbishop Chaput also made reference to the contentious issue about the role Pope Pius XII played during the Second World War. Some historians have argued that the Pope had enabled the Holocaust by not condemning it publicly.

“Reflecting on the Holocaust will be a long process, which is why Catholics and Jews will have issues of serious disagreement, like the legacy of Pius XII, for many years to come,” he said.

He commented on Arthur Hertzberg's May 14 New York Times article on “the Vatican's sin of omission,” calling the article “unfortunate and unhelpful.”

The archbishop also spoke of the value of the “Bearing Witness” program and how dozens of the principals and teachers in Denver’s Catholic schools have adapted it to the classroom in the last four years. 

The program is important not just for the content but for “the process of cooperation and mutual understanding that it requires,” he said. 

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Lawsuit filed after school forbids boy from reading Bible at recess

Knoxville, Tenn., Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - A Tennessee elementary school is being sued for barring a 10-year-old boy from reading his Bible during recess, reported AgapePress.

Knox County School officials have been served with a federal lawsuit alleging they violated the free-speech rights of fourth-grader Luke Whitson.

Whitson was recently prohibited from reading his Bible with a few friends on the playground at Karns Elementary School in Knoxville after a parent complained about the activity.

The school has argued that recess is not free time, but instructional time, and that Bible reading during recess violates the separation of church and state.

Whitson's attorney, Chuck Pope with the Alliance Defense Fund, argues that recess has long been regarded as non-instructional time, during which students are free to read or discuss a wide range of literature, including the Bible.

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Best-selling authors, baseball manager share faith on TV

Washington D.C., Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - Two best-selling American authors and the manager of Major League Baseball’s Florida Marlins will share about their Catholic faith in a one-hour television special.

“Personally Speaking” is hosted by Msgr. Jim Lisante and is produced by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign. It will air on NBC-TV affiliates June 19.

The program is part of the “Horizons of the Spirit” interfaith religious series, seen each year on many NBC stations.

Who’s on

This year, it will feature internationally renowned suspense author Mary Higgins Clark. Born and raised during the Depression in the Bronx, New York, she sold her first short story in 1956 for $100. She became a bestseller, with her novel “Where Are the Children?” Since then, she has written more than 27 bestsellers and earned the title “Queen of Suspense”.

Widowed in 1964, she remarried in 1996. The mother of five and grandmother of six is a devout Catholic, who credits her faith with seeing her through the most difficult times.

Best-selling novelist Nicholas Sparks began writing while recovering from an injury. In 1994, he wrote his first published novel, “The Notebook”, which was on the bestseller list for almost two years. Warner Books bought the rights for $1 million and adapted it to a movie. He followed up with eight more domestic and international bestsellers, three of which have been adapted into major motion pictures.

Sparks lives with his wife and five children in North Carolina. He credits his faith with keeping him grounded and helping him through life’s challenges.

Jack McKeon has had a successful managing career with several big teams in the Major Baseball League, and earned National League Manager of the Year honors in 1999. After being out of the game for two years, he was asked to manage the struggling Florida Marlins two months into the 2003 season. He led that team to an upset World Series title, defeating the New York Yankees in six games.

Born and raised a Catholic, McKeon attends mass every morning before heading to the ballpark and credits the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux with helping him land the job with the Marlins.

For broadcast times, go to Viewers can also call their local NBC-TV affiliate.

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Ecuadorians support Archbishop in clash with renegade priests

Quito, Ecuador, Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - Dozens of residents in the Quito neighborhood known as “Struggle of the Poor” marched through the streets carrying signs in support of the decision of Archbishop Raul Vela Chiriboga to send two Spanish priests back to Spain for neglecting to carry out their pastoral duties at a local parish and instead engaging in social activism.

The two Spanish priests, Father Jose Luis Molina and Father Miguel Angel, adherents of Marxist liberation theology, returned to their own diocese of Jerez, Spain.

Numerous families gathered outside the archdiocesan chancery in Quito to express their support for the decision of Archbishop Vela to send the priests back to Spain for neglecting the pastoral life of the parish of Santa Maria del Inti.

Supporters expressed their disagreement with the direction of the Spanish priests, who disobeyed directives from the archdiocese and even neglected to celebrate Sunday Mass at the parish.

The archbishop named Father Patricio Manzano to be the new pastor of Santa Maria del Inti and had recently issued a statement that was signed by all of the vicars and deans of the archdiocese and which reminded the faithful that “the parish is not a political party, a trade union, nor an NGO.”

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Drug trafficking is an educational problem, says Mexican cardinal

Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - During his homily on Sunday at the archdiocesan cathedral, the Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, said drug trafficking is not the result of a problem of the executive, legislative or judicial powers, but rather with “education in Mexico.”

The cardinal said the trafficking and consumption of drugs is an educational problem in Mexico, “because all of these people who take them have gone through the educational system.”

He also recalled that drug trafficking is an evil that is causing society much harm and that before, “drugs were just passed through (Mexico); now, they stay here to be consumed.”

The cardinal warned drug traffickers who claim to be Catholic that they are destroying lives with their illegal activity, and he called on them to repent and leave behind the road that “leads to the destruction of families and of society itself.”

He criticized the media for portraying violence as strength, and he underscored that the seeking of vengeance is not for the virtuous but for the weak. “To forgive, to understand, to show sympathy, requires more strength of spirit than giving someone a taste of their own medicine,” he emphasized.

“Life is a not a movie about good and bad people; rather, all of us are bad people who should be good, receiving and practicing the mercy desired by Jesus,” Cardinal Rivera noted.

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Church in Bolivia will continue to search for solution in wake of presidential resignation

La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - In the wake of Bolivian president Carlos Mesa’s decision to step down, Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto and Vice President of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference said the Church would continue to search for a solution to the crisis gripping the country.

Speaking on Radio Erbol, Bishop Juarez, who has been acting as mediator in the crisis since last Friday, said, “I think that as the Church we are going to continuing searching for possible solutions to the crisis, and perhaps with this development, that will intensify.”

The Church “supports the democratic process and the rule of law,” he added, noting that Congress must respond to the resignation of Mesa and search for the “most appropriate” constitutional solution in accord with the desires of the Bolivian people.

Protestors have been engaged in a blockade of the country’s main highways leading out of La Paz, cutting off access to other Bolivian cities, in an attempt to force the government to hold a Constitutional Assembly and to nationalize the country’s natural gas industry.

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Archbishop of Montevideo: Christians must condemn torture

Montevideo, Uruguay, Jun 8, 2005 (CNA) - The biweekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Montevideo, Entre Todos, published a stinging criticism of statements by retired General Ivan Paulos regarding the use of torture as “a part of war,” reminding Catholics that no Christian can justify such a practice that harms human dignity.

The editorial called it “profoundly sad” that “a human being could approve these completely inhumane measures,” noting that international law condemns such abuse under whatever name.

General Paulos recently said that the use of torture in times of war was justified, in an apparent reference to the practices of the former Uruguayan dictatorship.

The editorial in Entre Todos pointed out that all followers of Christ must reject torture and that when authorities seek to obtain information regarding a crime, “the norms that prohibit the use of torture must be scrupulously followed, even in cases of the highest crimes.”

“Nothing can justify the recourse to such measures that degrade human dignity, both of the victim and the punisher,” the editorial noted.

In order to achieve reconciliation among Uruguayans, it went on, it’s necessary that those responsible express repentance for the evil they have caused, that they ask forgiveness from God and neighbor and manifest a purpose of amendment, seeking to repair in whatever way possible the harm that has been done.

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