Archive of June 30, 2005

Pope Benedict calls archbishops to unity and affection for the Church

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - Today at noon in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and the 32 metropolitan archbishops who received the pallium yesterday, calling them to continued unity with each other and with the Pope.

The Pope greeted each of the new metropolitan archbishops, many of whose families were present, one by one, telling them, "I remain united to you with affection and prayer; at the same time I ask you to continue to walk together, united by the same feelings of harmony and of love for Christ and His Church."

Addressing Cardinal Sodano, the Holy Father thanked the dean of the College of Cardinals for "the collaboration given over many years to Peter's Successor, I extend my thoughts to all the members of the College of Cardinals, with gratitude for the support and prayer with which they accompany my service as pastor of the universal Church."

Speaking to Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the new metropolitan archbishop of Krakow, Poland, and personal secretary to Benedict's predicessor, the Pope thanked him "for all you have done for John Paul II, and for me personally."

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Gay marriage now legal in Spain

Madrid, Spain, Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - Spain’s parliament approved a measure legalizing gay unions today, setting aside a veto of the bill by the Senate. The new law makes gay unions equivalent to marriage and gives same-sex partners the possibility of adopting children.

Despite wide opposition to the measure from pro-family groups and the Church, legislators, led by the country’s Socialist party, approved the law by a vote of 187 to 147.

Spain now becomes the third country in the world to grant official legal status to homosexual unions, with an increasingly liberal and anti-family government.

Gay “marriage” was one of the Socialist Party’s campaign promises, and homosexuals will be able to “marry” as soon as the law is published in the Official State Bulletin within the next several days.

Last week the Senate rejected the bill after a massive protest of more than a million Spaniards in Madrid. But it is an advisory body and final say on legislation rests with the Congress of Deputies

Before the vote, President Jose Luis Zapatero proclaimed victory.  ``We were not the first, but I am sure we will not be the last. After us will come many other countries, driven, ladies and gentlemen, by two unstoppable forces: freedom and equality,'' he told the chamber.

Conservative party members said they would appeal the decision to the Constitutional Court.

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Benedict reitterates 'firm determination' to work for Christian unity

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - In a meeting with a delegation sent by His Holiness Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, who are in Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict expressed his commitment to the continuing dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, begun in earnest by his prediscessor, Pope John Paul II in 1980.

The group, who met with the Pope this morning, is part of an ecumenical delegation which annually visits Rome for the June 29th feast. Likewise, a delegation from Rome traditionally travels to Istanbul for the November 30th feast of St. Andrew, patron of the ecumenical patriarchate.

The Holy Father stressed the "dialogue of charity" between Catholics and Orthodox "begun on the Mount of Olives by Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras, an experience which was not in vain. Many significant gestures have been made since then: I am thinking of the abrogation of the reciprocal condemnations of 1054, of the speeches, documents and encounters promoted by the Sees of Rome and Constantinople. These have marked the path of recent decades."

He recalled his predicessor John Paul's "fraternal embrace" in St. Peter's Basilica, months before his death, with Bartholomew I and noted that "our path is long, and not easy" but it has "seen hope grow for a solid 'dialogue of truth' and a process of theological and historical clarification, which has given appreciable fruits."

"There is need," Benedict continued, "to join forces, to spare no energy so that the official theological dialogue, which began in 1980 between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches all together, will resume with vigor."

He also spoke of his "recognition to Patriarch Bartholomew who is working very hard to reactivate the work of the Mixed International Catholic-Orthodox Commission. I assure him that it is my firm will to support and encourage this action. Theological research, which must face complex questions and seek solutions that are not reductive, is a serious commitment that we cannot avoid."

"If it is true that the Lord calls with force His disciples to build unity in charity and truth;" he stressed, "if it is true that the ecumenical appeal is a pressing invitation to rebuild, in reconciliation and peace, the unity, seriously damaged, of all Christians; if we cannot ignore that division makes the holy cause of proclaiming the Gospel to every person less efficient, how can we avoid the duty of examining with clarity and good will our differences? ... The unity we seek is neither absorption nor fusion but respect for the multiform fullness of the Church which, conformed to the will of her founder Jesus Christ, must always be one, holy, catholic and apostolic."

In closing, Pope Benedict asked the delegation to convey his "intention to pursue with firm determination the search for full unity among all Christians" to Patriarch Bartholomew.

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Marriage in Canada now just a sexual relationship, says priest-columnist

Ottawa, Canada, Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - The redefinition of marriage in Canada to include homosexual couples has reduced marriage to “a mere sexual relationship,” says Fr. Raymond de Souza in a column published in the National Post yesterday. The chaplain at Newman House at Queen’s University in Kingston is a regular contributor to the national paper.

Civil marriage in Canada at this point “is simply the conferring of legal recognition and benefits upon a conjugal relationship, with no reference in principle to permanence, progeny or public benefit,” he writes.

And he attributes this to the liberalization of divorce laws in Canada in 1967 with then-justice minister Pierre Trudeau’s Omnibus Bill.

The Omnibus Bill made divorce easier, he explains. This eventually led to no-fault divorce, “which renders marriage the only contract unilaterally breakable by either party, at any time, for any reason,” he says. Soon after common-law marriages were legislated, granting marital benefits without the marital commitment.

“When civil marriage is thus stripped of its permanence and its commitment, what is left to distinguish a married relationship from any friendship? Sex,” Fr. de Souza states. “Hetero or homo, it doesn't matter. Ergo, same-sex marriage.”

Fr. de Souza challenges the argument that had been proposed during the national debate that homosexual marriage would encourage monogamy and stability within the homosexual community and have the same “civilizing effects” on homosexuals that it has had on heterosexuals.

“It was an incongruous argument because we have been, post-1967, busily undermining all that makes marriage stable and monogamous,” the priest writes.

Fr. de Souza then suggests that marriage and divorce laws in Canada should be modified to include and favor these “the civilizing effects” by insisting on the aspect of “permanence” in marriage.

“Now that homosexuals have the ability to contract civil marriage, and no vestige of ‘discrimination’ holds, why shouldn't the government insist that marital benefits require marital promises?” he asks.

He suggests that divorce not be based on the unilateral decision of one spouse. Marriages, he suggests, should not be broken “unless the terms of the (civil) marriage contract have themselves been broke, or that the parties mutually agree to break the contract.”

“Why shouldn't marital contracts be at least as strong as, say, the contract to renovate the kitchen, where one party cannot unilaterally break it?”

He notes that these reforms are not on the political agenda, but says they should have the support of people on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.

If the support is not there, he says, “it will be clear that the same-sex marriage debate had little to do with marriage, and everything to do with state-sanctioned homosexual sex.”

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Archbishop Gomez: symbolic pallium calls shepherds to give their lives for their flock

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - San Antonio’s Archbishop Jose Gomez was one of 32 metropolitan archbishops to receive the pallium yesterday from Pope Benedict XVI, symbolizing their unity with the See of Rome, and the yoke placed on the shoulders of those who wear it.Archbishop Gomez was among four U.S. metropolitans to receive the pallium yesterday--a stole, placed around the neck of new archbishops by the pope each year on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Among the U.S. bishops were Atlanta’s Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Kansas City’s Joseph Naumann, and Joseph Fiorenza, archbishop of the newly-formed Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.In a recent column, Gomez promised to “accept the pallium on my shoulders as a symbol of my calling from the Lord, the high shepherd of the flock, to be a shepherd for the faithful of San Antonio.

Not just any kind shepherd, but a good shepherd, willing to give my life for those who have been entrusted to my ministry.”He added that, “Precisely for this reason the pallium is adorned with three crosses, which symbolize the three nails with which the Lord Jesus was nailed to the cross; they show the price paid for our salvation, and thus the price that a good shepherd needs to be willing to pay for the good of his faithful.”

Archbishop Gomez’s devotion to this ministry thus far was evidenced by the throng of supporters who joined him from San Antonio, Denver (where he served as auxiliary bishop before coming to his current assignment), and his native Monterey, Mexico.One of Archbishop Gomez’s four sisters, Alicia Gomez, told the San Antonio Express that, “It’s a great honor for all of us to be in Rome with our brother.

We thank God for this blessing. I was here in 1978 when we traveled to Spain for his priestly ordination. I never thought I’d see him back here as an archbishop.” Steve and Katy Whisenant, long-time friends of Archbishop Gomez and former San Antonians, now living in Bury St. Edmund, England, brought all seven of their children to Rome to witness the ceremony.

“This is an incredible experience,” Steve Whisenant told the Express. “We met Archbishop Gomez in San Antonio in 1987, and he’s such a loving man. Our 8-year-old son, Peter, received First Communion at this Mass, too. It was a very Catholic experience.

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New Catholic bishop consecrated in China

Shangai, China, Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - Hopes are high that a newly ordained bishop in Shanghai will help ease tensions and improve relations between China and the Vatican.

Hundreds of Catholics packed Shanghai's cathedral Tuesday to witness the episcopal ordination of Bishop Joseph Xing Wenzhi, 42. He was ordained by Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, who is recognized as the bishop of Shanghai by the government-backed church of China.

Bishop Jin, 89, is stepping back from many of his administrative duties. It is believed that Bishop Xing will be formed to succeed him.

China's communist government has no formal relations with the Vatican and rejects the Pope's authority to appoint bishops. But earlier this month, Bishop Jin told the Associated Press that both Rome and Beijing authorities tacitly agreed to Bishop Xing's appointment.

Many more Chinese Catholics belong to the underground church that remains loyal to Rome, and they do not consider Bishop Jin their pastoral leader. They regard Bishop Joseph Fan Zhongliang as Shanghai's true bishop. The elderly Bishop Fan is reportedly in virtual house arrest and is in ailing health.

Vatican spokesmen have not commented publicly on Bishop Xing's appointment.

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Canadian MP introduces assisted-suicide bill

Ottawa, Canada, Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - A Member of Parliament has introduced a private member’s bill that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in Canada.

Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde introduced bill C-407 for first reading June 15.

The bill would protect a person from being charged with homicide for assisting in the suicide of someone who is aged 18 and older, who is terminally ill or who continues to “experience severe physical or mental pain without any prospect of relief” after receiving or refusing treatment, and who has expressed their wish to die.

Lalonde says parliamentarians have a "moral obligation" to respect others' wishes to die, reported the Ottawa Sun. "The choice to die with dignity should be a right," she told the paper.

Currently, Section 14 of the Criminal Code outlaws assisted suicide. The law would require the person seeking help in dying to make two requests more than 10 days apart “expressly stating” his or her “free and informed wish to die.” The person who assists in a suicide must be a medical practitioner or “assisted by a medical practitioner."

The person requesting to die must “while appearing to be lucid, [designate] in writing, before two witnesses with no personal interest in the death of the person, another person to act in his or her name with respect to the person who aids him or her to die.”

The person who assists in the suicide would be required to receive confirmation of the diagnosis from two medical practitioners. If this person were a medical practitioner, then confirmation would be needed from just one other medical practitioner.

Private member's bills rarely become law. However, Parliament did pass NDP MP Svend Robinson’s private member’s bill, Bill C-250. Many religious groups consider the anti-hate bill, which includes homosexuality under Canada’s anti-hate legislation, a muzzle law.

Earlier this year, Justice Minister Irwin Cotler had suggested that Parliament revisit Canada’s laws on assisted suicide.

"Parliament is the best venue for a debate that must balance the issue of dying with dignity with concerns from the disabled," he told the Ottawa Sun in reaction to Lalonde’s bill.

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Catholic couple may hold world record for longest marriage

North Providence, R.I., Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - John and Amelia Rocchio say the secret to the their 82-year marriage is love. The couple, who met when she was 17 and he was 19, may well be the longest-married couple in the world. John is now 101, and Amelia is 99.

The couple was wed in a Roman Catholic church in Providence in 1923 and had two daughters. Their younger daughter lives with them.

John and Amelia shared their story and the secrets to their long-lasting marriage with the Associated Press recently. John recounted how he spotted Amelia one day after school, and he was immediately smitten. He said he admired the combination of her intelligence and attractiveness.

She was a "perfect" wife, John recalled, preparing dinners for him, including his favorite pasta and beans, and putting up with his passion for new cars. In turn, he accompanied her often to the theater and to vaudeville shows. John retired in the mid-1970s after a long career as a compositor for The Providence Journal.

“Patience and understanding will get you a long way,” he remarked.

Guinness credits a British couple with holding the world record with an 80-year marriage, but the husband died earlier this month at 105.

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Pope Benedict honored by young people, calls for authentic peace, safeguarding of human dignity

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - On Tuesday evening, Pope Benedict XVI was honored by a number of youth organizations and others in a ceremony themed: "So many hearts around the Pope, messenger of peace."

The celebration, held in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican was organized and sponsored by the Family of St. Luigi Orione, the Youth Missionary Service - Arsenal of Peace from the Italian city of Turin, the Italian Civil Protection and the "Papaboys" Association.

According to the Vatican, the attendees included a number of Italian singers, and a delegation of young disabled people from Poland, Jordan and Italy.

Addressing the crowd, Holy Father recalled how St. Luigi Orione would "speak with intense affection of the person of the Pope, recognizing his role not only within the Church but also at the service of the entire human family."

Pope Benedict also reflected on the theme of the evening and the specific role of the pope to be a "messenger of peace," asking, "How can I not take advantage of your presence to render homage to so many silent 'builders of peace' who, through their testimony and their sacrifice, strive to promote dialogue between people, to overcome all forms of conflict and division, and to make of our world a homeland of peace and fraternity for all men and women?"

The Holy Father encouraged the group, "each in their own field and in accordance with their possibilities, to offer their collaboration in safeguarding the dignity of all men, in defending human life and in undertaking decisive action for authentic peace in all social fields."

Specifically addressing the young people of the group, Pope Benedict recalled that his predicessor, John Paul II liked to say "that you young people are the hope and future of the Church and of humanity. May there be an ever greater will in everyone's heart to create a world of authentic and stable peace."

He likewise noted that John Paul's cause for beatification began earlier that day.

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Missionary priest celebrates golden jubilee on two continents

Rochester, N.Y., Jun 30, 2005 (CNA) - It will be a double celebration of sorts for Fr. Tom Brown’s golden jubilee. The Oblate of Mary Immaculate is marking his 50th anniversary to the priesthood in his native United States as well as in his adopted home, Sao Paolo, Brazil.

The Irondequoit native from upstate New York was ordained to the missionary order June 6, 1955. He began his ministry in São Paulo shortly after his ordination back in 1955 and currently serves as pastor of the 50,000-member Our Lady Help of Christians Parish.

It is one of two English-speaking parishes in Brazil, and many of the faithful are relatively well off. But, in an interview with Rochester’s Democrat & Chronicle, Fr. Brown pointed out that the parish has a mission to the needy.

He said parishioners “build bridges with the poor” by offering them a number of services, including food and clothing. The parish also provides day care, adopt-a-family services and English-language classes.

Over the years, the pastor has developed important friendships with parishioners. His witness and spiritual guidance have even inspired some young men to consider the priesthood and religious life. Parishioners plan to pay tribute to him for his 50 years of ordained ministry upon his return to São Paulo in the days to come.

Currently, the 78-year-old priest is in upstate New York, where he says part of his roots are. He is visiting and celebrating his jubilee with his family and longtime friends. Masses were planned at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Greece, N.Y., where he had spent a sabbatical time, and at St. Thomas the Apostle in Irondequoit, his home parish.

His older brother, Bernard, joined the celebrations. Bernard was also ordained for the Oblates, and in 1947 joined the order’s missions in the Canadian North. He served 35 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Colville Lake, Northwest Territory. He developed a mission there, which grew from one Catholic family to a community of 120 people called Our Lady of the Snows. Bernard, now 84, left the priesthood in 1971 but he continues to serve as a missionary.

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