Vatican City, Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - During his first audience with Jewish leaders, Pope Benedict XVI assured on Thursday that the Catholic Church remained fully committed to continued dialogue with the Jewish community and to fighting anti-Semitism.
This morning ,Pope Benedict welcomed a high-level delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC), noting that the meeting "takes place during this year which marks the fortieth anniversary of the Declaration 'Nostra Aetate' of the Second Vatican Council, whose teaching has served as the basis of the Church's relationship with the Jewish people since then."
He remarked that "the Council affirmed the Church's conviction that ... the beginnings of her faith are already to be found in Abraham, Moses and the prophets" and it "called for greater mutual understanding and esteem between Christians and Jews and deplored all manifestations of hatred, persecution and anti-Semitism".
"At the very beginning of my pontificate, “he added, “I wish to assure you that the Church remains firmly committed, in her catechesis and in every aspect of her life, to implementing this decisive teaching."
"The history of relations between our two communities has been complex and often painful, " the Holy Father acknowledged, "yet I am convinced that the 'spiritual patrimony' treasured by Christian and Jews will lead to 'a future of hope'. "
"At the same time, remembrance of the past remains for both communities a moral imperative and a source of purification in our efforts to pray and work for reconciliation, justice, respect for human dignity and for that peace which is ultimately a gift from the Lord himself. "
"Of its very nature,” he added, “this imperative must include a continued reflection on the profound historical, moral and theological questions presented by the experience of the Shoah."
"After this meeting, we are confident that under the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church will continue to build upon its growing relations with the Jewish community," said Edgar M. Bronfman, President of the World Jewish Congress.
"For many years, then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, provided the theological framework for the changes that took place between the Church and the Jewish people during the reign of Pope John Paul II," said Rabbi Israel Singer, Chairman of the World Jewish Congress.
"Together, we have provided aid to the destitute in Argentina, cared for Holocaust-era mass graves in Eastern Europe, and now we pledge to work together to bring much needed relief and education to Africa, a continent suffering from the plague of AIDS," he said, speaking of the joint humanitarian initiatives undertaken by the Church and the Jewish community.
Washington D.C., Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - A pro-family group is pleased that Justice Janice Rogers Brown has become the newest judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals. Brown received a confirmation vote of 56 to 43 yesterday and a cloture vote of 65-32 one day earlier.
"We are pleased that Justice Brown, who, has finally joined the D.C. Court of Appeals. She is and," said
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said Brown “helped break glass ceilings, fight past racial barriers and overcome religious litmus tests” and is “a wonderful role model to our youth.
“We trust her to serve dutifully and fairly,” he said.
The Family Research Council l has asked that a simple up-or-down vote also be held for judicial nominees William Myers, Henry Saad, Brett Kavanaugh, William Haynes Thomas Griffith, and Susan Neilson.
“The courts are in distress and we need to make sure that qualified jurists are receiving a fair deal,” said Perkins. “We are eager to see the others pass through the process as well and receive their vote in the Senate."
Later this week, a floor vote is expected on William Pryor, who was first nominated 790 days ago.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has vowed to restore Constitutional propriety in the nominating process if any further judicial filibusters should occur. The vote on Brown was filibustered for two years.
He and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced agreements on Monday to move forward on the nominations of Richard Griffin and David McKeague for the 6th Circuit Appeals Court in Cincinnati. Both were first nominated 1,307 days ago.
Also the Christian Coalition of America commended the United States Senate for confirming California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, District of Columbia.
“President Bush is to be commended for reaching out to minorities and trying to be inclusive,” said coalition president Roberta Combs.
“Left-wing Democrats should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for putting obstacles in the way of successful blacks and Hispanics and for voting against this American success story," she said.
Cordoba, Spain, Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - Europe and the West must “fight discrimination and intolerance against Christians and members of other religious communities,” Archbishop Charles Chaput told an international summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) yesterday.
The archbishop of Denver spoke at the OSCE conference, held in Cordoba, Spain, whose main aim is to find ways to fight discrimination and intolerance against Jews, Muslims and Christians living in Europe. Its objective also includes exploring the role of government, civil society and the media in this initiative.
The archbishop spoke directly, telling the summit that the OSCE must “protect Christian communities and other religious groups from discrimination and intolerance. The media should be encouraged to offer truly balanced coverage of religious faith. Educational systems should teach the value of faith in people's lives.”
He noted that various OSCE media often allow the Christian faith and its symbols to be publicly mocked and abused. This, he said, stands in stark contrast to OSCE commitments to promote religious freedom.
He said Europe’s current growing anti-religious and often anti-Christian spirit undermines its witness to democracy. Public debate, he added, must also allow for the religious perspective
“Public debate without a free and welcoming role for religious faith does not produce diversity or pluralism,” he said. “It can create politics without morality, and public institutions without enduring ideals.”
He reminded participants that the Christian faith shaped present-day Europe, and that Judaism and Islam made important contributions.
“The founders of the European unity movement were all professed Christians,” he pointed out. “Their commitment to the great project of Europe’s future came from their moral convictions, which in turn grew out of their religious identity and Christian heritage.
He remarked that Europe demonstrated its religious roots and current beliefs during the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II, who he described as a “son of Europe’s Christian imagination and history.”
Archbishop Chaput also made the distinction between direct and indirect discrimination. Both, he said, are present in the West. The former refers to actual legal and social structures that are set up to make the practice and growth of faith and religions difficult.
The latter is revealed when “expressions of religious faith often seem to be ridiculed as fundamentalism,” he said. “In the name of respecting all religions, a new form of secular intolerance is sometimes imposed. Out of fear of religious fundamentalism, a new kind of secular fundamentalism may be coerced on public institutions and political discourse.”
The archbishop expressed his hope that all OSCE participating states “will do everything in their power to discourage all forms of religious intolerance – including any disrespect for Europe’s own Christian roots.”
Miami, Fla., Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - The former Archbishop of Miami, Edward McCarthy, died June 7 at the age of 87. During his 18 years as archbishop, he led the faithful through social crisis, growth and periods of important change.
With the influx of Catholic refugees from Cuba, Haiti and Central America, he opened nearly one parish per year. He preached the Gospel without shyness and got the laity more involved in running parishes.
When he retired at age 76 in 1994, the archdiocese included more than one million Catholics, nearly two-thirds of them Hispanic.
“He had the heart of Jesus,” Fr. David Russell told the Miami Herald. “He was not interested in playing politics. He was a workaholic who was close to the laity. And he had great vision,” said the retired pastor of St. John Neumann Church.
The faithful also remember and appreciated his ability to convince Pope John Paul II to make the first papal visit ever to Miami in September 1987. It was also the first papal visit south of Washington.
The Archbishop’s funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.
, Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - The chairman of the Democratic National Committee has done an about-face, says the Catholic League. When Howard Dean accepted the chairmanship of the DNC in February, he committed the DNC to “religious outreach.” But in a speech in San Francisco June 6, he criticized the Republican Party as “pretty much a white, Christian party.”
“Dean’s comment in San Francisco was the kind of snide remark that we would expect from someone who regards white Christians as the enemy—not from someone who is the titular leader of the Democratic Party” said Catholic League president William Donohue in a statement.
“Precisely how Dean expects to do religious outreach when he writes off the majority of the nation is not known, but it is a sure bet that if his counterpart in the Republican Party were to refer to the Democrats as the party of blacks and secularists, he’d be canned,” he said.
Donohue pointed out that the DNC has “insulted Christians, especially Catholics” in the past by drawing support from “the nation’s largest anti-Catholic group, Catholics for a Free Choice.”
“Why either party would allow its leader to offend people of faith is beyond belief,” he said.
Denver, Colo., Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - America's largest faith-based doctor organization, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, are meeting in Denver today to discuss the future of medicine, bioethics, world mission, and faith and health at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center.
The conference will run for four days, until June 12.
The 17,000-member national organization has more than 75 ministries, including international missions, continuing education and a policy arm that educates members on bioethical issues like stem-cell research and physician-assisted suicide.
Topics at this year’s conference include: The Christian Physician in a Secular World; Trusting God: The Road to our Birthright, and The Urge to Edit God.
Some of the speakers are: Edmund Pellegrino, MD, professor-emeritus of medicine and medical ethics at Georgetown University; David Thompson, MD, missionary doctor and co-founder of the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons; and David Stevens, MD, the organization’s executive director and author of “Jesus, MD.”
Madrid, Spain, Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Toledo and Vice President of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference is calling for the adoption of concrete actions to “combat and contrast prejudices and false representations of Christians and of members of other religions” in the media and in schools.
Participating in a conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, the archbishop emphasized that such measures should encourage “the contribution of churches and other religious communities to public life in their countries.”
“Intolerance and discrimination against Christians and members of other religions are worrisome phenomenon which must be put to a stop with the same determination with which anti-Semitism and discrimination against Muslims is combated,” said Archbishop Cañizares.
He went on to note, “It would be paradoxical to omit concrete measures to guarantee religious freedom for Christians and members of other religions when the general plan is to supposedly eliminate discrimination and intolerance.”
Archbishop Cañizares emphasized that “the Holy See will continue to collaborate with the OSCE in its struggle against anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance and to promote human dignity,” because “history has recently demonstrated the tragic consequences that occur when such dignity is denied or reduced to a merely formal proclamation.”
The Holocaust and “the attempt to systematically destroy an entire people extends over Europe and the whole world like a dark shadow,” a “horrible tragedy that is also a dramatic call to educate the young generations not to yield before ideologies that justify the possibility of trampling human dignity,” the archbishop stated.
The Catholic Church “deplores all expressions of anti-Semitism of which the Jews have been objects,” he declared, noting that “the Holy See is pleased that inter-religious dialogue supports and promotes tolerance, mutual recognition and co-existence among peoples.”
Rome, Italy, Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - In an about-face, health officials in Moscow have acknowledged that “safe-sex does not exist” and are opting for abstinence-based education for young people.
“One should propagandize total abstinence before marriage,” Ludmila Stebenkova of Moscow's parliamentary committee for health care told the Pravda news service.
Stebenkova, who is in charge of health care for the 12 million inhabitants of Moscow, believes that “the safe sex propaganda in the USA, for example, has resulted in the dissolution of morals. Sexually transmitted diseases started progressing there. That is why the US government assigns huge money to promote the value of innocence and virginity. It is coming into fashion.”
"People started thinking after the ‘Safe Sex’ program that they would be able to protect themselves against any disease,” she added. Pravda reports that the latest data indicates that “papillomas has increased by 50 percent over several recent years. The number of herpes and fungal infection patients has been growing lately as well.”
Speaking to the Russian daily Izvestia, Stebenkova explained that “during the last three years Americans have quadrupled their funding for premarital sex-ed programs.” “Medical centers and schools over there have excluded from their programs any mention of condoms as a contraceptive method. By promoting safe sex, people are not taught that extra-martial, early sexual contact among young people leads to not only to physical but also psychological negative consequence. Why should we make the same mistakes?” she asked.
Stebenkova criticized government funded “safe-sex programs” as nothing more than opportunities for certain agencies to steal money from the state coffers. She pointed to the recent case of the Ukraine, where $2.6 million was set aside for the purchasing of condoms and $300,000 for training in how to use them. “Could someone tell me what kind of class on how to put on condoms could cost $300,000?” she wondered. Ukraine officials eventually canceled the program.
Stebenkova said her committee intends to spend $900,000 on educational programs, television ads and billboards with the slogans, “Healthy Family, Defense against AIDS” and “Safe-sex does not exist.”
Supporters of condoms are attempting to block Stebenkova’s efforts, alleging that young people will be confused by international propaganda that favors “safe-sex” over abstinence.
Stebenvoka said she will not be deterred by organizations “that represent an ideology in decline. They simply have to spend the money donated by (George) Soros and his other patrons,” she said, in a reference to international funds that are sent to Russia for promoting the use of condoms.
Havana, Cuba, Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - The Cubanet news agency reported this week that during the celebration of Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity, Archbishop Pedro Meurice of Santiago called on Cubans to educate children in the true meaning of marriage and family in order to combat the confusion caused by those who promote the legalization of homosexual unions.
The archbishop, who had just returned to Cuba after a three-month absence due to illness, celebrated “Christian Family Day” and recalled that “the family stems from a marriage between a man and a woman, from which later on life is born,”
Referring to the growing tendency around the world to legalize same-sex unions based on “supposed human rights,” the archbishop reminded Cubans that nonetheless, homosexuals deserve to be treated with respect.
He noted that acceptance of same-sex unions by even one-fourth of the world’s population would jeopardize human existence. He also criticized lawmakers for supporting adoption by homosexual couples despite the harm that such a policy would bring.
Archbishop Meurice emphasized the need for Cubans to be prepared to face these tendencies and he called on Christian families to educate their children in the proper understanding of marriage, taking refuge in the Eucharist in order to strengthen personal identity and making the family part of the mission of the Catholic Church.
Quito, Ecuador, Jun 9, 2005 (CNA) - In a strongly worded message, Bishop Nestor Herrera Heredia of Machala and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador, rejected recent statements by two renegade Spanish priests, Father Miguel Olmedo and Father Jose Luis Molina, who publicly showed disrespect for Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
Bishop Herrera said he rejected “the opinions expressed by these two priests on Friday, June 3, during a program on Radio La Luna in which they capriciously and disrespectfully passed judgment on the former Pope John Paul II and on the current one, Pope Benedict XVI, and on the cardinals who elected him.”
He also criticized their comments to the Ecuadorian daily El Comercio in which the Spanish priests expressed “scorn for the Ecuadorian clergy, saying they are sacrificing their freedom by following their Pastors, and calling the Church a monarchy.”