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Archive of June 28, 2005

Pope Benedict calls Catechism Compendium ‘a renewed announcement of the Gospel’

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - At a special liturgy this morning for the debut of the new Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI praised the new teaching tool as “a new impulse to Evangelization” and expressed hope that it would lead many to a deeper understanding of the teaching and life of the Church.

After receiving thanks from one of the members of the special commission assigned to compiling the new compendium, the Pope presented his homily, noting that since its publication in 1992, there had been a need to condense the dense Catechism of the Catholic Church into "a brief, concise catechism, containing all and only the essential and fundamental elements of Catholic faith and morals, formulated in a simple, universally-accessible, clear and succinct manner.

"Although throngs of cardinals, bishops, priests, religious, catechists and lay people were present in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall for the ceremony, Pope Benedict wished "ideally to consign this compendium to all people of good will who wish to know the unfathomable richness of the salvific mystery of Jesus Christ.

"He clarified that, "This is certainly not a new catechism, but a compendium that faithfully reflects the Catechism of the Catholic Church" which "maintains intact, then, all its authority and importance, and will find in this summary a valuable support to become better-known and more widely used as a fundamental tool of education in the faith.

"Calling the new compendium "a renewed announcement of the Gospel," the Holy Father explained that it presents the faith "in a dialogic format" and that "the brevity of the responses favors the essential concision and clarity of communication.

"Pope Benedict noted that the sacred images which appear at the beginning of each section are "an announcement of the Gospel and express the splendor of Catholic truth, showing the supreme harmony between the good and the beautiful, between the 'via veritatis' and the 'via pulchritudinis'.

"The Pope, who spearheaded the efforts to produce the compendium as prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prior to being elected Pope, thanked all those who helped prepare the work, saying that he hoped it would serve as "a new impulse to evangelization and catechesis.

"After his homily, Pope Benedict distributed numerous copies of the compendium to a cardinal, a bishop, and various priests, religious and lay people gathered in the hall.

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Vatican unveils new compendium of Catholic Catechism

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - The dense Catechism of the Catholic Church, groundbreaking when it debuted in 1992, will now be even more accessible to those seeking to learn and teach the Catholic faith.

The new Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was presented earlier today at the Vatican by a special commission of Cardinals led by former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who, prior to becoming Pope Benedict XVI in April, headed the Church‘s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

According to the Vatican, the decision to create the new Compendium was born in 2002 at the International Catechetical Congress, at which, it was suggested to Pope John Paul II that a more concise version of the Catechism be written to focus on essentials of the faith.

One year later, John Paul established a commission to work on the compendium which received a positive response in its first draft by cardinals and presidents of Episcopal conferences worldwide.The final version, presented today, consists of 205 pages containing 598 questions and answers, 15 images, an appendix (of the main Christian prayers and certain formulae of Catholic doctrine) and an alphabetical index.

Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Angelo Amato S.B.D. said that the compendium’s principal characteristics are "its strict reliance on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, its text in the form of a dialogue, and its use of images for catechesis."He noted that this "is not an autonomous work and in no way aims to substitute the Catechism of the Catholic Church, on the contrary it constantly refers back to the Catechism, both by indicating reference numbers and by referring continuously to the structure, development and contents" of the Catechism.

The new work, moreover, "aims to awaken a renewed interest and enthusiasm for the Catechism, which ... remains the basic text for ecclesial catechesis today.

"The new work is divided into four main parts, which the Vatican says correspond to the fundamental laws of the life of Christ. In the first part, "Profession of Faith," a brief summary of the "lex credendi,", or the faith professed by the Catholic Church based of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is given.

"The constant proclamation of [the creed] in Christian assemblies”, it notes, “keeps the principal truths of the faith alive in memory.

"The second part, "Celebration of the Christian Mystery," the book discusses the essential elements of the Church‘s sacramental life, or “lex celebrandi”, saying that, "the announcement of the Gospel finds its authentic response in sacramental life, in which the faithful experience ... the salvific power of the Paschal mystery.

"The third section, "Life in Christ", or "'lex vivendi,' explores how the “baptized manifest their commitment to the faith they have professed and celebrated, through their actions and ethical choices."The last section, "Christian Prayer," summarizes the "lex orandi," or the life of prayer in the Church. Here, the reader is shown how Christians are called to a dialogue with God in prayer, one expression of which is the Our Father, the prayer that Jesus Himself taught us.

The text itself is written in the form of a dialogue which Archbishop Amato Referring says "makes the text notably shorter, reducing it to what is essential. This may help the reader to grasp the contents and possibly to memorize them as well.

"He also added a note on the use of images in the book, saying that, "In the current culture of images, a sacred image can express much more than words. ... It certainly has an aesthetic value, but above all its value is recollective (recalling the mysteries of salvation), catechetical (for teaching and instruction), and theological, because it presents in artistic form the facts and the various aspects of the doctrine of the faith."

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Thousands gather for Cardinal Sin’s funeral, Philippine’s ‘champion of the poor’

Manila, Philippines, Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - The Manila Cathedral was packed this morning for the funeral mass of the much-loved Jaime Cardinal Sin, former archbishop of Manila.

The cardinal died in hospital June 21 of multiple organ failure secondary to sepsis, reported UCA News. The cardinal’s long struggle with kidney problems and general failing health led the Vatican to quickly accept his resignation in 2003, at the age of 75.. It also prevented him from travelling to Rome to participate in the conclave and elect a successor to John Paul II.

By the time he retired, he had served as bishop for 36 years, 29 of which were as archbishop in Manila.

Immediately following his death, President Gloria Arroyo-Macapagal had declared a week of national mourning for the cardinal known in the Philippines as “the champion of the poor” and the nation’s “divine commander-in-chief,” reported AP.

The cardinal lay in state at the cathedral for the full week. Thousands of Filipinos waited in long queues for a chance to pay the cardinal their last respects and pray by his casket. Draped in a Philippine flag, Cardinal Sin’s casket moved slowly in a horse-drawn carriage covered with white flowers in the square outside the Manila Cathedral, followed by bishops and a military honor guard. Police estimated the funeral crowd at about 20,000, some packing the cathedral and others watching on giant TV screens.The cardinal was to be buried in the crypt of the cathedral, where other archbishops are also buried.

Cardinal Sin’s successor, Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales, called the cardinal a “prophet” in his homily during the Sunday Mass at the Manila Cathedral.

Archbishop Julius Cardinal Darmaatmadja of Jakarta travelled to Manila Friday to pay Cardinal Sin his last respects as well. He said he admired the cardinal for playing an influential leadership role for all of Catholicism in Asia.

In his homily June 24, Bishop Antonio Tobias of Novaliches said he remembered Cardinal Sin teaching him how to become “a priest for the poor.” Cardinal Sin would join him on his visits to poor communities and would show him how to relate to the people.

In an interview at the wake Friday, Sr. Vissia Angeles recalled the cardinal’s simplicity, joy and high regard for priests. She remembered him saying: “The priest is an engineer who constructs bridge from earth going to heaven, the priest is the bridge of a man from earth going to heaven, the priest is the lawyer who defends the sinner before God, the priest is a doctor who heals the wound of sins, the priest is also a farmer who plants the seed of a man and a priest is a teacher that teaches the way to heaven.”

Jaime Sin was born the 14th of 16 children. He earned a Bachelor of Science major in Education and as a bishop received 24 honorary doctoral degrees in 24 universities in three continents.

He gained international recognition when he called people to prayer vigils on a highway near Manila to prevent violence between rebel soldiers and soldiers loyal to then-president Ferdinand Marcos.

Cardinal Sin's call also stirred a "people power" uprising that dismantled Marcos' 21-year presidency and paved the way for the restoration of democratic institutions in the country under Corazon Aquino, reported Radio Veritas Asia.

"To shut oneself away from the demands of political transformation of Asia is in a sense a denial of Christian identity," the cardinal had said when he was criticized for his actions. He had said the laity must promote the common good in politics, economics, culture and social relations.

He also helped to establish ties between the universal Church and the Church in China, and fostered the formation of the Lorenzo Ruiz Mission Society of priests to minister to Chinese people.

In his message during the celebration of the International Year of the Eucharist he said he has entrusted himself to the guidance and care of Mary. “She has always been for me a loving and devoted Mother and has always pointed me to her son. As she has loved me so I have always tried to love my priests and to love the flock entrusted to my care,” Cardinal Sin said.

For the 50th anniversary of the late cardinal's priesthood in 2004, Pope John Paul II praised him as a "good shepherd" who led his people "with evangelical zeal, energetic ability and steadfast will.”

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The road to Sainthood: Beatification process for John Paul the Great set to open

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - Mere two months and twenty-six days  after his death in April,  the Vatican will officially open the cause for beatification of the late Pope John Paul II this afternoon at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome.

The ceremony, to be lead by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar of the Diocese of Rome, will begin following Vespers on the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. 

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, the polish priest who has been appointed postulator of the cause, will present his mandate to the members of the diocesan tribunal, including Cardinal Ruini. He will then receive approval to compile a complete dossier on "the life and the virtues" of "the Servant of God John Paul II, in lay life Karol Wojtyla, Sovereign Pontiff." 

Then an official oath will be administered to Msgr. Oder and to the other officials associated with the cause.  At the conclusion of the ceremony, Cardinal Ruini will pronounce a discourse imploring the faithful to pray “for the intercession of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II.

”The proceedings will begin a diocesan investigation into the life, virtues and saintliness of the 26-year reining pontiff born in Poland as Karol Wojtyla.

Pope Benedict XVI announced the unusually quick opening of John Paul’s cause on May 13 during a meeting with the Roman clergy in which he waived the normal five-year waiting period after the death of a Servant of God.

The process will be performed by the diocesan tribunal of Rome, which is responsible for the first phase, including an analysis of the life and writings of John Paul, and the hearing of witnesses. The Vatican noted that if a positive verdict to these initial proceedings is forthcoming, the case will pass to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints where, following a fresh examination of the material, extraordinary favors, or miracles will be studied with the help of doctors and experts. If a miracle is in fact found, the Pope could order beatification almost immediately.

Since the publication of an email address to which people can send their testimonies regarding the holiness of the late Pope, the Diocese of Rome has received thousands of letters from all over the world.  Most have come from Latin America, Italy and Poland. 

Those wishing to submit testimonies can send them to: [email protected]

Also included on the site, in various languages, is the prayer approved by the vicariate of Rome to implore the intercession of Servant of God John Paul II, included in its entirety here: "O Blessed Trinity. We thank You for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen."

The official website for the beatification of John Paul II: http://www.vicariatusurbis.org/Beatificazione/ 

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Pope to vacation in Italian alps

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - According to an announcement from the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI will spend much of the latter half of July on holiday in Les Combes in the Valle d'Aosta region of northwestern Italy.

The Pope’s vacation, to be held July 11 to 28, is scheduled to conclude at the papal summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. During his absence, the Holy Father’s Wednesday general audiences for July 13, 20 and 27 will be suspended.

On Sunday, July 17 and 24, the Pope will pray the Angelus from his residence in Les Combes.Likewise, over the summer period, the Vatican announced that all private and special audiences are suspended. Pope Benedict’s general audiences will resume their normal frequency on Wednesday, August 3.

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Cardinal McCarrick ready to retire but always open to God’s call

Washington D.C., Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - Theodore Cardinal McCarrick is looking forward to his retirement but says he would continue to serve as archbishop of Washington if the Pope asks him to do so.

After 28 years as bishop, Cardinal McCarrick will submit his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI on his 75th birthday next month, July 7, in accordance with canon law.

Cardinal McCarrick has served as a bishop in New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington. Reflecting on his ministry, the cardinal told the Washington Times the he hopes he has been able to leave a “legacy of kindness.”

He told the newspaper that every priest and bishop “needs to be kind.”

“If I try to be kind, that's the most important thing,” he said. “Get the bad people made good, get the good people made better. That’s my legacy."

He also said he is especially proud of his 12 “sons”, priests that he had ordained as bishops.

Despite his resignation, it is possible that Pope Benedict will extend the cardinal’s term, depending on whether a successor is ready in the wings.

"If he wants me to continue, I'm open to that, too," the cardinal said about the Pope. "Whatever. I'm easy, I really am. I learned years ago you always do what the Lord tells you to do. Whatever the Lord tells me through the Holy Father, I am open to whatever he wants."

The cardinal feels that he has enough energy to continue to serve, but he told the Times that he would also like retirement to “get myself ready to go home” to the Father.

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Boston remembers Uganda martyrs, honors St. Peter

Boston, Mass., Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - This past weekend was one of celebration, remembrance and tradition in the Archdiocese of Boston. Archbishop Sean O’Malley led a vibrant celebration to commemorate the Feast Day of the Uganda Martyrs at Sacred Heart Church.

The former Vice President of Uganda Speciosa Kazibwe attended the mass as well, reported the Daily News.

In his homily, the archbishop remarked on the ecumenism that the martyrs had lived and exemplified.“The death of the Uganda martyrs holds special meaning. They shared their martyrdom with Christians from many different churches,” he told the hundreds of people present. “All of us must be inspired by that desire for unity among all of Christ's followers."

He also wrapped up the annual three-day St. Peter's Fiesta in Gloucester June 26 by giving the traditional blessing of the community’s fishing fleet. He officiated from the bow of Miss Trish Two, praying for the saftey of the fishermen and their boats.

The Fiesta honors St. Peter, the patron of fishermen. It begins with a procession carrying the statue of St. Peter from the St. Peter's Club on Gloucester's waterfront to St. Peter's Square.

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Catholic medical experts back new ethical embryonic stem-cell research

Washington D.C., Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - A new experimental technique that could produce embryo-like stem cells — without killing human embryos in the process — has the support of 35 medical experts and ethicists, about half of them Catholic or related to Catholic organizations.

The experts issued a statement recently, explaining that the technique would not conflict with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church on embyronic stem-cell research. That’s because, according to this technique, the genetic material injected into an egg would be modified to produce a pluripotent stem cell instead of an embryo.

According to the experts, the cell would be “incapable of being or becoming an embryo.”

"This new proposal addresses the Catholic Church's fundamental moral objection to embryonic stem-cell research as now practiced, by offering to create cells with the properties of embryonic stem cells without ever producing or harming a human embryo," Richard Doerflinger, deputy director of theUSCCB Secretariat for Pro-life Secretariat, told Catholic News Service.

The experts called for the initial research to use only “nonhuman animal cells.”

If the experiments demonstrate “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the technique “can reliably be used to produce pluripotent stem cells without creating embryos, we would support research on human cells,” the experts stated.

Among the signatories to the statement are: Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J, Fr. Kevin FitzGerald, SJ, professor of Catholic health care ethics at Georgetown University; Fr. Kevin Flannery, SJ, dean of philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome, and John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Fr. Thomas Berg, executive director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person.

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Pro-life advocates concerned about possible pick for Supreme Court

Washington D.C., Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - Pro-life advocates are concerned that President George W. Bush may be considering Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as a nominee to the Supreme Court, reported LifeNews.com.

As a member of the Texas Supreme Court, Gonzales voted to allow some teenagers to use the judicial bypass of the state's parental notification law to obtain an abortion.

However, no official announcements have been issued by the Bush administration that Gonzales is being considered. It seems the concern is based on a buzz around Washington.

Syndicated columnist Bob Novak wrote recently that the mention of Gonzales' name "looks like a trial balloon" that Bush could use to gauge the negative reaction from pro-life advocates and settle on another more acceptable nominee.

Novak also speculates that "Gonzales' name has been floated by critics in order to shoot him down."

Gonzales has already been through the confirmation process once, and there is some speculation that he will have an easier time being confirmed the second time around.

If Gonzales is not the top pick, every other potential nominee the president is reportedly considering has a judicial track record that is pro-life.

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Summer Conferences aim to help young people ‘experience God’s glory’

Steubenville, Ohio, Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - As teens around the U.S. shed schoolbooks and paperwork for summer vacation, thousands are gearing up for a different kind of celebration--one they hope will ignite a fire for Christ in themselves and their peers.

Organizers of the Steubenville High School youth conferences are now knee deep in their 29th season of sharing Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel with young people through music, skits, fellowship, powerful speakers and profound encounters with the Eucharistic Christ.

The internationally praised conferences were born in in 1976, when 1,000 young people from the U.S. and Canada gathered at the then College of Steubenville to light what would become a nationwide fire.

Lisa Ferguson, spokesperson for Franciscan University of Steubenville, who host the conferences, told CNA that the school expects nearly 31,000 teens to attend one of the 14 different conferences being held in venues across the country. As of mid-May, all but four of the venues were completely sold out.

The University calls the weekend conferences a time for young people “to get rocked by God, to get serious about life in Christ and His Church, and to learn the truth of the Gospel.”

Reflecting on the theme of this year’s conference lineup, “Experience the Glory”, director John Beaulieu said on the group’s website that, this summer we will focus on the glory of God--the light revealed in His Son Jesus Christ.”

“We experience this glory”, he said, “during the Mass, during adoration, and when we glorify His Holy Name.”

The youth conferences are part of a larger conference series sponsored by the University which includes weekends for young adults, catechists and priests and religious.

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Legislators discredit themselves by support for unjust laws, warns Navarro-Valls

Madrid, Spain, Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - The director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, said in Madrid this week that when legislators approve norms that “go against natural law and common sense,” they deprive themselves of authority.

With likely approval of same-sex unions by the Spanish House of Representatives just days away, the Vatican spokesman said that in these cases, “the first victim is the legislator, because he loses his authority and opens the door” to licit protests such as conscientious objection.

Navarro-Valls was in Spain to receive an honorary doctorate from the Cardinal Herrera University, together with the 1997 Nobel Prize for Medicine recipient, Stanley B. Prusiner.

Although he clarified he was not speaking for the Vatican, Navarro-Valls said that “the highest guide for a person’s conduct is his conscience, and it is inviolable and cannot be violated by another that is of lower rank such as positive law.”

“Whoever acts against his conscience abdicates himself,” he continued, and that is the source of the “problem of formal conscience,” which must be based “on the truth and not on opinions.”  Otherwise, “there is confusion between rights, which are in accord with the nature of the human person, and desires and whims.”

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Cardinal exhorts Bolivians to seek peace and reject hatred

La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Bolivia, Cardinal Juan Terrazas Sandoval, called on Bolivians this week to reject the expressions “of hatred and anger that are increasingly separating us from each other.”

During Sunday Mass, the cardinal said that “in the voice of every brother and sister,” one should hear “a cry for understanding,” and at the same time “a willingness and richness that should be placed at the service of others.”

“Today we cannot in any way support discrimination and much less intolerance,” he noted.  Cardinal Terrazas also called leaders and authorities to greater discernment in order to avoid committing the same mistakes in the future that have led to the country’s current crisis.

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Archbishop of San Salvador proposes strengthening values to combat gangs

San Salvador, El Salvador, Jun 28, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador, El Salvador, told young people this week that stronger moral and civic values would help them to avoid getting involved in gangs.

After Sunday Mass, the archbishop attended a press conference in which he noted that the level of violence in the country is due “to a total lack moral values, there is no respect for life, there is no true formation of the human conscience.”

Archbishop Saenz said it was important to “try to overcome evil with an abundance of good, beginning with the Ministry of Education, which ought to provide authentic training in moral and civic values.”

While he acknowledged the need for punitive measures to combat gangs, the archbishop said young people should be guaranteed access to education and rehabilitation programs.

According to official reports, there are over 10,000 gang members in El Salvador.

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