Vatican City, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Holy See Press Office Director, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, officially announced today Pope Benedict's first foreign trip -- a four-day visit to his native Germany on August 18-21. The Holy Father will travel to Cologne, on the occasion of the 20th World Youth Day.
The Pope will depart Rome on August 18 in the morning from Ciampino Airport, arriving Cologne after 2 hours of flight. The following day he will travel by car to Bonn, where he will spend the day and meet Germany's president Horst Koehler, returning to Cologne in the late afternoon.
Vatican sources have said the trip might include a visit to a synagogue in Cologne, either on Aug. 19 or 20. On August 21, he will depart Cologne for Rome at 7.15 pm, arriving at Ciampino two hours later. The trip, which had already been announced by the Catholic Church in Germany, will be his second outside Rome since his election. Benedict XVI made a brief trip to the southern Italian city of Bari on May 29.
Vatican City, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - In yet another unexpected move and show of warmth, Pope Benedict XVI spoke with journalists casually for a few minutes this morning. They had been admitted to the Apostolic Palace Library to report on the visit with Zambian President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, reported AGI.
"You'll have much to do in this period," said the Pope as he approached the journalists. He asked each journalist his or her name and media outlet, making a brief comment to each one. To the only woman journalist present, he reportedly said: "God bless you in your work." He concluded by wishing them well in their work.
The Pope had a 15-minute audience with Mwanawasa and his wife. Zambia is one of two countries benefiting from the debt-reduction campaign promoted by the Italian Church in response to the appeal made by Pope John Paul II for the Jubilee Year.
Manila, Philippines, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - Thousands of Filipinos have begun flocking to the archdiocesan cathedral in Manila to pay their final respects to Cardinal Jaime Sin, who died Tuesday at the age of 76.
According to archdiocesan officials, the cardinal died from kidney problems and diabetes. He had been hospitalized for three days and died at 6:30am at the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center in Manila.
The cardinal’s health problems prevented him from traveling to Rome last April for the funeral of John Paul II and participating in the conclave the elected Benedict XVI.
The local media highlighted Cardinal Sin’s role as a religious leader during the People’s Power revolution of 1986 that lead to the downfall of Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Filipino president Gloria Arroyo expressed grief at the news of his passion and said the cardinal was “a greater liberator of the Filipino people who never stopped uniting Filipinos in the most crucial battles against tyranny and evil. His dream of a Philippines united in peace and justice led us to knock down the tower of Babel and build a unique and indivisible nation.”
“I was guided many times by his wisdom and his profound love of the poor and the oppressed, for he received his inspiration from the people like nobody else in his time,” she added.
Former president Corazon Aquino attended the first requiem Mass and remembered the cardinal as “a good shepherd” to whom she will always be grateful for his example. “I hope we can be a little bit like him, serving God, our country and our people,” Aquino said.
Born on August 31, 1928, Jaime Sin was the 14th of 16 children in an ethnic Chinese family. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1954 and consecrated as an auxiliary bishop for the Jaro diocese in 1967. He became Archbishop of Jaro in 1972, and of Manila in 1974. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul VI in 1976.
Paterson, N.J., Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - As Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco prepares to head to Rome and serve as the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Arthur Serratelli was elected to succeed him as the chair of the national Committee on Doctrine.
The 61-year-old bishop of Paterson, New Jersey, was elected Friday by his fellow bishops at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring meeting in Chicago. He will complete the 18 months remaining in Archbishop Levada's term, and could be nominated for another three years.
The Committee on Doctrine promotes and clarifies the Church’s teachings in the United States and studies Catholic writings to determine if they are true to the faith.
Bishop Serratelli, who was ordained a priest in 1968, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that the committee will likely issue guidelines on whether Catholic politicians who support abortion are eligible to receive Communion.
Prior to his departure for Rome in August, Archbishop Levada is performing a number of episcopal duties in his diocese. On Sunday, thousands packed St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco to see Archbishop Levada ordain 14 deacons. On Saturday, the archbishop will ordain a priest.
Arlington, Va., Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of Arlington is among the five fastest-growing dioceses in the United States thanks to a huge influx of Hispanics, immigrants and others from Northeastern states in the last 10 years.
"It's a very hope-filled time for the Church," Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington told the Associated Press.
The growth of the diocese is directly related with the general population growth in northern Virginia. People are moving into the region for work reasons.
Since many of the new arrivals are Catholic, the northern Virginia diocese has has seen a 42 percent increase of registered Catholics over the past decade, for a total of about 400,000. More than 12,000 Catholics reportedly join the diocese each year, officials said.
Nearly one-third of Catholics in the diocese are Hispanic. The diocese has responded with the creation of a new parish, two new missions and Spanish-language masses in more than 30 of its 67 parishes.
Warsaw, Poland, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - Thousands of Polish youth marched through the streets of Warsaw June 18, demonstrating against special rights for homosexuals. The so-called "Normal Parade" was organized in response to a recent "gay pride" event in the city, reported WorldNetDaily.com.
League of Polish Families leader and member of Parliament Roman Geirtych told marchers that Poland must build its future based on the family and not on "pederasts."
A left-wing group, called Stop Fascism, held a small counter demonstration, heckling at the pro-family marchers. However, there were no incidents of violence. A heavy police cordon separated the two groups.
The League for Polish Families is also on the campaign trail. The Catholic country will head to the polls Sept. 25 for parliamentary elections and Oct. 9 for a presidential election.
Wellington, New Zealand, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in New Zealand says Pope Benedict XVI's message about the sanctity of marriage will impact voters in the upcoming general election, reported RNZ/one news.
During a recent speech to ambassadors to the Vatican, including New Zealand's new ambassador Geoffrey Ward, Pope Benedict warned against “secular distortions of marriage.”
"New Zealanders traditionally have recognized and celebrated the place of marriage and stable domestic life at the heart of their society,” the Pope said in his speech.
"They appreciate that secular distortions of marriage can never overshadow the splendor of a life-long covenant based on generous self-giving and unconditional love. Correct reason tells them that the future of humanity passes by way of the family."
The message is a call to people to reflect on things like the civil union bill, Catholic Church spokesperson Lyndsay Freer reportedly told RNZ.
Prime Minister Helen Clark has said in a statement that she has great respect for the Pope, but she does not agree with him on this matter.
Ottawa, Canada, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - Canada’s Liberal government announced yesterday that it is prepared to sit through the summer to pass its final budget bill and the same-sex marriage bill.
The summer recess is supposed to begin at the end of the week, but the Liberals hope their motion to extend the session will come to a vote Thursday.
Last week, Prime Minister Paul Martin said passage of the the same-sex marriage bill would be delayed until the fall because of the Conservative’s delaying tactics. But since then, the prime minister has changes his tune and expressed his intention to pass the bill as soon as possible.
"It's not time to take a holiday when we're still working on generating equality that people have waited so long to achieve," said NDP Leader Jack Layton, whose party backs same-sex marriage.
The Conservatives said they will continue to use parliamentary tactics to delay passage of the bill.
Managua, Nicaragua, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes of Managua, Nicaragua, said this week that dialogue on the country’s problems is not easy, but it is the path that authorities must follow in order to achieve peace, reconciliation and development.
The archbishop exhorted the faithful to pray that those in leadership positions would come together in common solutions for the well being of Nicaragua.
“Everyone, bishops and we Catholics, must continue to pray that Nicaraguans will understand one another and achieve the fruits of peace and reconciliation,” he said.
Archbishop Brenes recalled that the country has faced various conflicts and that its history shows that in the beginning the parties involved refuse to dialogue, but “they end up talking to each other and all the problems get solved.”
“I am hopeful and I trust that our leaders, who are men of experience in resolving these problems, are going to find a solution,” he said.
The archbishop noted as well that politicians have been elected by the people and that this implies a responsibility for which they will have to render an account. Politics is a form of public service, he added, but problems start when there is a conflict of interests.
Madrid, Spain, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - In the wake of Saturday’s historic pro-family demonstrations in Madrid that brought together more than one million people, the president of the civil rights watchdog site Hazteoir.org, Ignacio Arsuaga, accused the government and some media outlets of misreporting the turnout and the impact of the event.
Arsuaga, whose organization was one of the principal sponsors of the rally, called it an insult and an attempt at “manipulation” that government officials reported a turnout of only 166,000 at the demonstrations against the legalization of homosexual “marriages.” Madrid officials put the number at 700,000, while the event organizer, the Spanish Family Forum, said over 1 million attended.
Organizers of the event said turnout far exceeded expectations as participants filled the streets of downtown Madrid, carrying signs against the government’s intention to legalize gay marriage and the adoption of children by gay couples and in support of the traditional family. The rally was the largest such gathering in the history of Spain.
Warsaw, Poland, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - Around 25,000 people gathered Sunday in Warsaw’s Pilsudski Square for the beatification of three Polish priests presided over by the Archbishop of Warsaw, Cardinal Jozef Glemp.
Fathers Ladislaus Findysz, martyr, Bronislao Markiewicz, founder of the Congregation of St. Michael the Archangel, and Ignacy Klopotowski, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Loreto, became the first Poles to be beatified under Pope Benedict XVI.
Father Klopotowski died in 1931. He founded several orphanages and centers of assistance for the unemployed, and he published several newsletters providing spiritual direction.
Father Ladislau Findysz was persecuted by the Communist secret service and was arrested in 1963. He was sent to prison for having sent letters to his parishioners asking for their prayers. He was released in 1964, just before dying. Father Findysz is the first Polish martyr of the Communist era to be beatified, according to Vatican Radio. “He is a heroic priest,” said Bishop Edwars Nowak, secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.” “As a child and later as a young man, I personally witnessed this,” he said.
Father Bronislao Markiewicz helped many orphans and delinquent young people. He died in 1912.
Murcia, Spain, Jun 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Secretary General of the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Jesus Juarez of El Alto, said elections should be called early and a new constitution should be drafted with the input of “historically marginalized and forgotten sectors” of society.
Speaking while on a visit to Murcia, Spain, the bishop said a “Constituent Assembly that would allow for a re-founding of Bolivia” should be convened. He said a new constitution should give greater influence to all sectors of society in the election of local officials and in determining local autonomy.
The archbishop noted that the issue of autonomy, which has been demanded by wealthy regions of the country such as Santa Cruz de la Sierra, requires “prolonged reflection” before going forward. He called for solidarity among the rich and poor regions of the country in considering such a decision.
Bishop Juarez also addressed the issue of the nationalization of the natural gas industry, which has provoked widespread protests in El Alto and in other regions of the country, and resulted in a blockade of the capital, La Paz.
He said nationalization should be understood as returning the industry to ownership by the people, according to the country’s Constitution. Therefore, he called on multinational companies that operate in Bolivia to “share this existing wealth with the people, without getting rich at their expense.”
Likewise the bishop called on Bolivia’s new president, Eduardo Rodriguez, “to convene elections as soon as possible so that the Bolivian people can regain trust.” He said senate and congressional elections should also be held, and he criticized lawmakers for taking “little vacations” when the situation of the country requires their presence.