Archive of June 10, 2005

Pope reaffirms Catholic doctrine on priestly celibacy, abstinence to fight AIDS

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to a group of bishops from South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho concluding their "ad limina" visit, Pope Benedict reaffirmed Church teachings on priestly celibacy, as well as abstinence and fidelity to prevent AIDS.

Speaking in English, the Pope noted how Catholics represent a minority in Africa, and that, for this reason "it is essential that the bishops promote the crucial work of catechesis in order to ensure that God's people are truly prepared to witness by word and deed to the authentic teaching of the Gospel."

Benedict XVI gave thanks to God for "the many priests, religious and lay men and women who have given their lives to" the "noble task" of evangelization in Africa over the course of last century.

The Pope went on: "Even though your region still needs more priests, one cannot help but thank God for the large number of vocations to the priesthood you are currently witnessing in Sub-Saharan Africa."

The Pope said, "It is your grave responsibility to help them develop into men of the Eucharist.  Priests are called to leave everything and become ever more devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. "

"I encourage you, therefore,” he continued, “in your ongoing efforts to conscientiously select candidates for the priesthood. Likewise, these young men should be formed with great concern to guarantee that they are prepared for the many challenges they will face."

"A world filled with temptations needs priests who are totally dedicated to their mission" and who serve others "as Christ did by embracing the gift of celibacy," Benedict XVI highlighted.

In that regard, "Bishops should assist them by ensuring that this gift never becomes a burden but always remains life-giving. One of the ways this can be achieved is by bringing ministers of word and sacrament together for continuing education, retreats and days of recollection," the Pope said.

Sexual Morality

Benedict XVI stressed how "family life has always been a unifying characteristic of African society," but expressed concern that "the fabric of African life is threatened by divorce, abortion, prostitution, human trafficking and a contraceptive mentality, all of which contribute to a breakdown in sexual morality."

After explaining how he shared the bishops' "deep concern over the devastation caused by AIDS and related diseases," the Pope said, "I especially pray for the widows, the orphans, the young mothers and all those whose lives have been shattered by this cruel epidemic."

The Pontiff urged the bishops "to continue your efforts to fight this virus which not only kills but seriously threatens the economic and social stability of the continent."

"The traditional teaching of the Church has proven to be the only failsafe way to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. For this reason, the companionship, joy, happiness and peace which Christian marriage and fidelity provide, and the safeguard which chastity gives, must be continuously presented to the faithful, particularly the young," he concluded.

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Process for John Paul II’s beatification to start on June 28, Cardinal announces

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican will open the beatification process for Pope John Paul II June 28, announced Camillo Cardinal Ruini.

The cardinal made the announcement yesterday at the close of a diocesan convention on Family and Christian Community.

Pope John Paul II died April 2, after a 26-year pontificate. At his funeral April 8, thousands of faithful voiced their wish that the process for John Paul’s beatification begin immediately.

Their wish came true last month, when Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would waive the usual five-year waiting period after someone’s death and begin the process soon.

Cardinal Ruini confirmed this decision by announcing the official start of the process, which will be June 28 at, in the Basilica of St John within the Walls.

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Ave Maria hosts right-to-life conference

Ann Arbor, Mich., Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - Prominent academics discussed the latest scholarship on right-to-life issues last weekend at the annual University Faculty for Life conference, June 3-5. This was the second time Ave Maria School of Law hosted the conference.

University Faculty for Life (UFL) was founded in 1989 to promote research, dialogue, and publication by scholars who respect the value of human life from its inception until natural death.

The conference featured more than 25 presentations by scholars of law, political science, theology, philosophy, history, nursing, and communications.

Fr. Thomas King received the Rupert and Timothy Smith Award, which recognizes distinguished contributions to pro-life scholarship. A professor of theology at Georgetown University since 1968, Fr. King was the founding president of UFL and led the organization until 2004. He still edits the UFL newsletter and serves on the UFL board of directors.

John Keown, who holds the Rose F. Kennedy Chair in Christian Ethics at Georgetown University, delivered a plenary address on his own scholarship on euthanasia and the experience of euthanasia in Europe.

Richard Wilkins, professor of law at the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University and managing director of the World Family Policy Center, gave the second plenary talk on the relationship between international law and the right to life. He described the efforts to create a right to abortion as a matter of international law and presented the need for "coordinated and coherent pro-life academic involvement in the international policymaking arena."

Conference sessions also included a panel discussion on the Terri Schiavo case.

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One of the first priests ordained in the USA on road to sainthood

Loretto, Pa., Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - A Russian prince who left his wealth behind to come to America and be one of the first priests ordained in the United States has received his first nod from the Vatican on his road to sainthood.

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has named Fr. Demetrius Gallitzin a Servant of God, announced Bishop Joseph Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown on Monday. 

Fr. Gallitzin left Europe at age 29 and entered a Baltimore monastery in 1795. After his ordination, he used his inherited wealth to buy part of what is current-day Loretto, and to build sawmills, gristmills, tanneries, a church and a farm.

Fr. Gallitzin is also known as the "Apostle of the Alleghenies" for bringing Catholicism to south-central Pennsylvania, reported the Associated Press. He died in 1840 of a strangulated hernia related to a fall from a horse years earlier.

Bishop Adamec has asked Catholics to submit any information about Fr. Gallitzin to the diocese and to report any favors received as a result of Fr. Gallitzin’s intercession. A miracle is necessary for his beatification.

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Globalized world must provide decent jobs for young people, Vatican says

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations Office in Geneva (Switzerland) said during the International Labor Organization conference that providing decent jobs for young people is a must in the emerging globalized world.

"The road towards decent work for a decent life in a world where the globalization of solidarity is an active agenda starts indeed with young women and men and the promotion of their employment," said the Archbishop.

"Decent jobs for young people,” he continued, “have a critical pay off. Their creativity supported by an adequate technical culture and a sound sense of responsibility can make up for their limited experience and even open additional jobs through the micro-enterprises they may launch with the granting of appropriate credit."

Archbishop Tomasi then cited Pope Benedict's words to workers on May 1, 2005, when he underlined how "solidarity, justice and peace should be 'the pillars on which to build the unity of the human family'."

"The creation of decent work for all in a sustainable world," the Nuncio added, "has been a long-standing common base for a fruitful dialogue between the ILO and the social doctrine of the Church."

"It is the dignity of every human person that requires access to work in condition of personal security, health, fair remuneration, a safe environment. Work is a right and the expression of human dignity. My delegation, therefore, sees unemployment as a 'real social disaster'," he concluded.

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Catholic television now available in the UK

London, England, Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic television has arrived in Britain. Eternal Word Television Network — the U.S. Catholic television network founded by Mother Angelica — was recently made available throughout the UK on Sky Television.

Sky has included EWTN as channel 680 on its FreeSat Service. Current non-subscribers, who want EWTN, must call Sky and pay £150 for the box, the dish, installation and the FreeSat service.

The London-based Catholic Action Group said it was pleased with the arrival of EWTN on British television.

The group’s national coordinator, John Gunn, said he hopes the network will be as successful in the UK as it has been in the U.S. In the past 40 years, many British Catholics have had poor catechesis, said Gunn, who hopes the network will help to teach many Catholics who have grown ignorant of their faith.

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Bishops of Bolivia call for prayer amidst grave political crisis

La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Bolivia issued a statement last night calling on the faithful to pray that the country’s congressional body gathered in the city of Sucre would find a proper political solution to grave crisis affecting the country.

In their statement, the bishops express regret that the resignation of President Carlos Mesa has resulted in a serious crisis for the country and that not all of the parties that wished to be included were able to participate in the talks that were mediated by the bishops.  At the same time, they noted, “some organizations have not responded to our invitation.”

The bishops emphasized the wide consensus for finding a democratic solution through peaceful dialogue.  “Most of those consulted agreed that early elections should be held in order to establish a political and democratic balance that expresses the sovereign will of the citizens and will allow the country to be governed, with attention paid to the current problems were are experiencing,” the bishops stated.

In the case of a presidential resignation, the Bolivian Congress has the responsibility of deciding how to proceed with a successor.  The bishops point out in their statement that the Conference “has not supported, nor will support, any specific candidate,” and they note the urgency of dealing with requests for holding a Constituent Assembly and a referendum on the issue of regional autonomy and the nationalization of the natural gas industry.

They also exhort the faithful to offer up “prayers for peace” and for solutions that are just, peaceful and mutually respectful.

Bolivia's Congress decided late Thursday night to replace President Carlos Mesa with the head of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Rodriguez, who, according to the Bolivian  Constitution, can only call for early elections.

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Messori slams Italian communist daily for promoting “black legend” about Inquisition

Rome, Italy, Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - Italian journalist Vittorio Messori responded this week to an article in the Communist daily Il Manifesto that portrays as truthful the black legend about the Inquisition.

In a column translated from Italian by the Spanish daily La Razon, Messori maintains that “the imprudence—or shamelessness—of these ideologies never ceases to amaze me.  A publicist named Adriano Petta published an article called ‘The Skeletons of the Holy Inquisition’.  Dejá vu, of course.  We’re talking about two and half centuries ago.”

According to Messori, the article “would not be worth reading were it not for the fact that it was published in Il Manifesto, one of the two or three newspapers in the entire Western world that still carries the title ‘Communist daily’on the front page.”

Messori noted that many other historical publications have been more precise in their accounts.  “Just one year of the French Revolution, the reign of terror of 1793, left more victims that all of the centuries of all the inquisitions combined (the Protestants, in fact, did not fool around: the Geneva of Calvin was lit up by the bonfires, Lutheran Germany engaged in witch hunts as if they were a national sport; the last massacre encouraged by the Puritan pastors of Salem, Massachusetts, came at the threshold of 1800.)”

Messori noted as well that the number of victims of the communist regimes of the last century reached the hundreds of millions, all in the name of stamping out “deviations” from political “orthodoxy.”  “It’s difficult, therefore, to take seriously the preaching that issues forth from certain pulpits,” Messori said.

The noted Italian journalist pointed out that an analysis of the modern historical data on the Inquisition, including information from the Vatican archives opened under Cardinal Ratzinger, would be of very much benefit to the Church.  “Many pillars of the Black Legend would fall,” revealing a process characterized by an accurateness and a fairness “unheard of in the civil courts of that time.”

“Death sentences and torture were the exception,” Messori explains, noting that the typical images people have of the Inquisition were based on Protestant propaganda aimed at undermining Spain’s dominance in the Atlantic.

At the same time he emphasized that an authentic study of the Inquisition must acknowledge its “horrors” and that the authentic historian must avoid “the moral sin of anachronism.”  The past must be understood in the context of the era, rather than analyzed through the lens of 21st century society, Messori maintained.

“Just as today’s leaders consider it their duty to provide health care for their people, so the Catholic Church was convinced that it had to answer to God for the eternal salvation of her children: Salvation that was jeopardized by the most toxic of venoms: heresy,” Messori wrote.

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Brazilian bishops question validity of “referendums” on origin of life

, Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paulo and Secretary General of National Conference of Bishops of Brazil warned this week against the idea of a referendum on the beginning of life and the dignity of human embryos.

Referring to the referendum taking place this weekend in Italy on a controversial law on assisted fertility, the bishop said other countries have followed suit in proposing similar decisions.

Speaking to the Fides news agency, Bishop Scherer said it was “contradictory that, after all of the scientific advances, people pretend not to know that the embryo is a human being during the first 15 days of life.”

He added that scientific and anthropological facts come to precisely the opposite conclusion, that is, that “the beginning of human life occurs at fertilization.”  Therefore, “if the embryo is not a human being from the first moment, it will never be one.”

Bishop Scherer noted that in vitro fertilization or the production of embryos for storage or freezing results in “serious ethical and anthropological problems” and therefore legal measures that do not respect human dignity and make human beings objects of use and manipulation “can never be accepted.”

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Honduran Cardinal calls for more help for migrant workers in the US

Houston, Texas, Jun 10, 2005 (CNA) - Immigrants and migrant workers deserve help, compassion and solidarity, not recrimination, said Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga.

The Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, was in Houston  to attend a conference on migration. He spoke on the subject in two presentations at the University of St. Thomas. He also visited a home for undocumented immigrant children who have been detained.

The Houston Chronicle reported that in his 40-minute talk at the Catholic university, he said wealthy nations have "a greater obligation to adapt to migratory flows."

"Although the sovereign right of the states to monitor their borders is recognized, this cannot be done at the expense of the human rights of migrant individuals, regardless of their legal status," he was quoted as saying.

“All legislation must take into consideration the value of human rights in an increasingly violent world," he said.

According to the Chronicle, Cardinal Rodriguez also spoke about the dissolution of families and the brain drain that occurs when migrants leave for opportunities abroad, and he noted that the Honduran economy was in part supported by family remittances, often from the U.S.

"It is very sad that the poorest of the poor are supporting our economy," he was quoted as saying. "This is not just. This is the message we are trying to give to our government ... to give especially the young generations the opportunity to work and live with dignity."

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