Vatican City, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI spoke with pilgrims from the archdiocese of Madrid, Spain, accompanied by their archbishop, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, and his auxiliaries, telling them that the Church in Madrid must spread the message of the Gospel to all areas of society.
The group had been in Rome for the third diocesan synod, the theme of which was: "The transmission of faith, lived and practiced in communion with the Church."
Pope Benedict noted that during the synod assembly "the ecclesial community became conscious of being a 'family in faith'," and a "symbol of unity for all society. It is a Catholic community, and Catholic means precisely that it is an open gathering, repository of a universal message destined for all human beings.”
“This Catholic community today”, he said, “makes its pilgrimage to Rome as a sign of communion with Peter's Successor and, consequently, with the Universal Church."
The Pope told the pilgrims that, "In a society thirsting for true human values and suffering so many divisions and fractures, the community of believers must become bearers of the light of the Gospel, in the certainty that charity is, in the first instance, the communication of truth."
“To this end,” he continued, “the Church in Madrid wishes to be present in all areas of daily life, ... because the Spirit impels us to bring to all men and women the love that God the Father showed us in Jesus Christ. ... We must go to the confines of society in order to bring to everyone the light of Christ's message on the meaning of life, of family and of society, reaching those people who live in the desert of abandonment and poverty and loving them with the love of the Risen Christ."
The Holy Father concluded his audience telling them to "seek to nourish yourselves spiritually with prayer and with an intense sacramental life; deepen your personal knowledge of Christ and walk with all your strength towards sanctity, 'the highest level of Christian life' as the beloved John Paul II used to say."
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - In remarks following his Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square yesterday, Pope Benedict sent his hopes of success to the G8 leaders meeting in Gleneagles Scotland later this week and called on them to focus serious attention on the plight of the African continent.
One of the major themes of the meeting of the heads of the eight most industrialized nations in the world (G8), scheduled to meet from July 6th through 8th is Africa, "a frequently forgotten continent."
The Holy Father said that, "With all my heart, I wish full success to this meeting, in the hope that it may lead to sharing the costs of debt reduction in solidarity, implementing concrete measures for eradicating poverty and promoting authentic development in Africa."
Washington D.C., Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - Members of both sides of the political and moral spectrums sprung into action following Sandra Day O’Connor’s announcement of retirement from the Supreme Court after 23 years.
Many think that the vacancy of O’Connor’s key, and often swing position, opens the door for President Bush to shape the direction of the court, particularly in areas of pro-life and faith issues.
Jan LaRue, Chief Counsel for Concerned Women for America said last week that, "The President has the historic opportunity to keep faith with the promise he has repeated numerous times, which is to name justices who are like Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas."
"The Democrats”, she said, “have shown that their filibusters and condemnations of the President's circuit court nominees were baseless. They will threaten more of the same unless he names a clone of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for example."
She added that, “The President should not yield to the left's demands to consult with the Senate before making a nomination. The Constitution is clear that it's his right alone to make nominations and the Supreme Court agrees.”
Likewise, the National Clergy Council has already sprung into action to urge the White House and Senators to place a pro-life judge in the newly opened seat.
Rev. Rob Schneck, president of the Council said that, "Justice O'Connor's resignation is the most critical of any of the justices because her replacement will turn the direction of this court. We are already praying and working for a nominee that will not waffle as she did."
Pro-Choice opponents too, have begun pulling their resources to try to point the direction of the new justice in their favor.
A press release from the group, NARAL Pro-Choice America featured a picture of President Bush with a caption reading, "Don't let his choice end yours.”
The statement added, "The battle for the Supreme Court has begun…Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement gives President Bush and the radical right the chance they've been waiting for to overturn Roe v. Wade."
The group's website stated that, "They're pulling out all the stops to push through President Bush's anti-choice judicial nominees to the Supreme Court. We cannot let it happen.”
Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation said that, "The vacancy left by Justice O'Connor poses a significant threat to women's reproductive rights in the United States."
"President Bush”, she said, “now has the ability to shatter the fragile five-to-four balance that currently protects access to abortion care in the United States.”
"If President Bush were allowed to install a justice on the Supreme Court overtly hostile to safe and legal abortion, we would be facing a critical time in history," she said.
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - During a meeting Saturday, Pope Benedict told visiting members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference that despite difficulties in the nation, "the Church in Zimbabwe can rejoice in the presence of so many communities vibrant in faith, a significant number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life,” and encouraged them to build up catechesis and priestly formation.
In his audience with the bishops, who had just finished their “ad limina” visit, the Holy Father recalled Zimbabwe’s recent elections, which, he said, "have laid the basis for what I trust will be a new beginning in the process of national reconciliation and the moral rebuilding of society."
Continuing, the Pope thanked the bishops for the "significant contribution to the electoral process" they offered "to the Catholic faithful and to all your fellow-citizens" with the joint pastoral statement they published last year.
"As you rightly noted,” he said, “responsibility for the common good demands that all members of the body politic work together in laying firm moral and spiritual foundations for the future of the nation."
Pope Benedict told the African prelates that in their preaching and teaching, "the faithful should be able to hear the voice of the Lord Himself, a voice that speaks with authority of what is right and true, of peace and justice, of love and reconciliation, a voice that can console them in the midst of their troubles and show them the way forward in hope."
He also said that despite political and social difficulties, "the Church in Zimbabwe can rejoice in the presence of so many communities vibrant in faith, a significant number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the presence of a committed laity devoted to various works of the apostolate.”
“These gifts of God's grace”, he said, “are at once a consolation and a challenge to an ever more profound and integrated catechesis aimed at training the faithful to live fully their Christian vocation."
The Pope also encouraged the bishops "to work together to ensure suitable and comprehensive catechetical preparation for all the faithful," stressing the need to help priests "present the fullness of the Catholic faith in a way which truly addresses and responds to people's difficulties, questions and problems."
He then turned to the importance of supporting national seminaries "in their challenging task of providing seminarians with an adequate human, spiritual, doctrinal and pastoral formation; while the younger clergy would greatly benefit, in the first years of their priestly ministry, from a program of spiritual, pastoral and human accompaniment guided by experienced and exemplary priests."
In his concluding remarks, the Pope said that the bishops' "concern for sound catechesis and an integral religious education must also extend to the system of Catholic schools, whose religious identity needs to be strengthened, for the good not only of their students, but of the entire Catholic community in your country."
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - In his remarks during yesterday’s Angelus prayer at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI praised the newly published Compendium to the Catechism of the Catholic Church saying that he hopes it will contribute to a “renewal of catechesis and evangelization.
The Holy Father noted that the compendium’s June 28 publication had coincided with the opening of the cause of beatification of John Paul II, who had given that publication "a decisive impulse."
Noting the format of the book, Pope Benedict said that, "In an ideal dialogue between master and disciple, the compendium provides a broad exposition of the faith of the Church and of Catholic doctrine as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by my venerated predecessor in 1992. ... It sheds light on the extraordinary unity of the mystery of God, on His salvific plan for all humanity and on the centrality of Jesus."
"How important it is," he continued, "at the beginning of this third millennium, for the Christian community unanimously to proclaim, teach and bear integral witness to the truths of faith, and of Catholic doctrine and morals."
The Holy Father expressed the hope that the compendium may contribute to "the renewal of catechesis and evangelization, ... so that all Christians ... in all environments may become catechists and evangelizers, helping others to encounter Christ."
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking Friday to members of the United Nations in New York, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s permanent U.N. observer, challenged world leaders to fulfill measures which could relieve the debt of some 38 heavily impoverished nations.
The Archbishop told the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council during their substantive session that, "The Holy See is pleased to associate itself with those who support the accord reached in London recently by the G8 finance ministers to cancel the debts of 18 heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC).”
“Debt remission measures, he added, "are just the start of that path, first of all because the measure in question needs to be extended to some 38 HIPC countries."
Archbishop Migliore noted that, "The G8 leaders, meeting at Gleneagles, Scotland, on July 6-8 next, must now pay attention to the demands of their own people and of civil society, and place before their respective legislatures bills that will lead to the immediate fulfillment of the accord's promises."
In conclusion, the Archbishop discussed development funding, and specifically, the "lack of financing for basic scientific research and for the industrial development of pharmaceutical products to combat the major tropical diseases such as malaria, as well as the lack of research in favor of agriculture in poorer regions."
Washington D.C., Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - A Catholic journalist and former editor of a diocesan newspaper has suggested that “[dissident] Catholic journalists feeling ‘unfree’ [in their work at Catholic journals] would do well to go over to secular publications where their view of the Church would be quite welcome.”
John Mallon made these comments in a recent issue of Inside the Vatican in response to the Catholic U.S. media’s reaction to the allegedly forced resignation of Fr. Thomas Reese from America magazine.
In his analysis, Mallon noted that some “outraged editors of leftist Catholic journals” called Fr. Reese’s resignation “tragic” and “a sad, disappointing and to some degree shocking development.” They said his departure would put a damper on all “thinking Catholics.”
“The implication is that if you accept the authority of the Magisterium you are an unthinking, unwashed peasant who is an embarrassment to the … American Catholic Church,” said the former editor of Oklahoma City’s Sooner Catholic. “And this perhaps is what is most offensive about theological dissent: the inherent snobbery of it all.”
Mallon wrote that dissenters “mistakenly believe that truth is arrived at via dialogue instead of Revelation and Magisterial discernment.” The dissident press presents itself as “self-proclaimed prophet,” he stated.
He also referred to a comment made by Fr. Pat McCloskey, editor of St. Anthony Messenger, that Fr. Reese’s resignation “will cause more and more Catholic thinkers to say that they want to write for publications that are not identified as Catholic and to teach at schools that are not identified as Catholic, because there is more freedom there.”
Mallon seems not averse to this idea
“The irony is that of all the publications angry over the Reese dismissal, all but two, the NCR and Commonweal, are run by religious orders, not laity,” Mallon observed.
Meanwhile Catholic publications run by the laity with a mission to support and educate on authentic Church teachings “operate at great personal sacrifice to those involved and run on very tight budgets,” he said.
“Perhaps the Vatican should take note of this imbalance, that lay-run self-supporting journals tend to support the Church while those run by religious orders tend to favor dissent and are the first to denounce being ‘repressed’ when their positions are called into question,” he challenged.
Mallon observed that several people working for these lay publications are “refugees from the diocesan Catholic press” who were forced out of their jobs because they were “too Catholic.”
“By no means extremists or zealots, they were run off by clergy who were threatened by a Catholic diocesan editor with an orthodox ‘bias’ when they wanted dissent given an equal (or superior) footing,” Mallon claimed.
“Unlike Fr. Reese, these journalists did not have a religious house to return to, to discuss their future with their superior,” he said. “No, they were stuck with bills to pay, mortgages to be met, families that might have to be moved across the country and so forth.
“In this, there is a note of hypocrisy in the ‘outrage’ being voiced in the dissident Catholic press over the Reese affair,” said Mallon. “Fr. Reese’s story is not tragic. He will be well cared for by his religious order.
“But when did the dissident Catholic press ever utter a word on these same principles of ‘dialogue’, ‘open debate’ and ‘justice’ regarding Catholic journalists forced out, not by the Vatican, but by diocesan officials for being faithful to the Church?” he concluded.
Ottawa, Canada, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - In the wake of last week’s decision of the Canadian House of Commons to allow for the legality of same-sex unions, Christian and church groups are vowing to protect the sanctity of marriage, even if, they say, Prime Minister Paul Martin is not.
The Civil Marriage Act, Bill C-38, passed the House of Commons 158-133 last Tuesday night sparking both excitement and outrage across the nation.
Focus on the Family’s Canada spokesperson Anna Marie White told Baptist Press last week that the battle is not over.
"We've certainly seen a galvanizing, an interest amongst Canadian Christians to really fight for their values and to fight for their country in a way that has not happened around any other issue for perhaps a couple of decades," she said.
Likewise, Dr. Charles McVety, senior director of Defend Marriage, referred to conservative leader Stephen Harper, who, he says, "has committed himself to making same-sex marriage an issue in the next election and . . . we intend to remind him of that promise and to mobilize people to elect pro-marriage candidates in the next election."
Catholic Civil Rights League president Phil Horgan also added recently that, “Politicians who voted in favour of this bill will be held accountable."
The Spanish government last week followed closely behind Canada in passing their own law permitting same-sex unions.
Cologne, Germany, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - Organizers of the next World Youth Day are preparing a gigantic mosaic containing a depiction of John Paul II. The portrait will be made up of thousands of small pictures of the Pope sent in by young people from all over the world.
The initiative will allow many people “to be” in Cologne even though they cannot make the trip. Photos can be sent via the internet at
The mosaic will be put on display at the Cathedral of Cologne during World Youth Day, and every person who sends in a picture will be sent a link to their individual photo and be able to see the mosaic online.
According to the project’s promoters, Ingo Brüggenjürgen, Lutz Langel and Ralf Walter, “with this action we want to show that love is stronger that death and that the message of John Paul II continues to live in thousands of people.” Their goal is to make the world’s largest mosaic.
Lima, Peru, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, denounced the existence of a worldwide campaign that sells “damaged goods,” calling a relationship that is “not between a man a woman” marriage, and he warned that by legalizing homosexual unions, society is disfigured.
During a Mass marking the 36th anniversary of Ricardo Palma University, the cardinal commented on the recent legalization of homosexual unions en Spain.
According to Cardinal Cipriani, this is an example of what “Pope Benedict XVI calls ‘the dictatorship of moral relativism’.” “In today’s world, evil disguises itself as good, it is imposed on others, and woe to him who does not accept it!” the cardinal said.
Likewise, he expressed regret that a country of “enormous Christian tradition” such as Spain has approved “a form of pseudo-marriage that imposes a disfiguration on society, in the most pharisaical and hypocritical of attacks.”
The cardinal called on the faithful not to refer to relationships that “are not between a man and a woman” as marriage. “Call it what you want but don’t sell damaged goods, don’t traffic in that dictatorship of moral relativism in which there is nothing good, only opinions and trends of thought.”
“In an age in which technology and science are increasingly acute and do not allow for deceit, this worldwide campaign to sell damaged goods must be unmasked,” he warned. In this context, “when we speak of such important issues as marriage, life, the family, justice, truth, honor, that’s when we see the invasion of relativism, in which each person has his own truth,” the Cardinal said.
“We are not asking anybody to limit his or her knowledge or to feel obligated to accept truths which he or she may not know, but we do ask that the integrity of the human person, who is more than just matter, not be mutilated.”
”The university evidently has a role in transmitting knowledge” but it must not neglect “the moral dimension, which is not a limitation on scientific knowledge,” Cardinal Cipriani explained.
“I have never heard so much preaching on human rights, on respect for women, on uncared for children, on the value of democracy, and I have never seen so much trampling upon the family, marriage, women and children,” the cardinal said. “This is a hollow discussion that has no values and is based on pure trendy opinions!”
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Amancio Escapa of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, said last week that education is the foundation upon which nations are built and that those responsible for it should ensure that children and young people receive an integral formation.
During a Mass marking Teacher’s Day in the country, Bishop Escapa lamented the shortage of classroom space to meet the demand for education, saying such a problem poses a great risk to society. Without education, “an honest, just society that respects the rights of others, that respects itself and enables the development of all” cannot be achieved.
The bishop said that it is not enough to complain about social ills; one must work to eradicate them. “We complain so much about the negative things. We all reject them but few of us volunteer to lend in hand in solving them,” he explained.
Likewise, he called on educators to ascertain the qualities of each student and “to build the edifice of culture and intellectual development oriented toward life upon them.” Bishop Escapa noted that there is no greater satisfaction for a teacher than to see the integral growth of his or her students, committed to building a better future.
, Jul 4, 2005 (CNA) - During his recent visit to Aid to the Church in Need in Germany, the Apostolic Vicar of San Vicente Puerto Leguizamo in Colombia, Msgr. Francisco Javier Munera-Correa, said guerrilla rebels seek to “take over the country, and this is what is complicating negotiations so much.”
Msgr. Munera-Correa, who’s vicariate is a bastion of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), said the “guerrilla movement is subversive: just like the followers of Castro in Cuba and Chavez in Venezuela, the guerrillas embrace a materialist ideology.”
Nevertheless, he indicated that although many of its members call themselves Marxists, at the same time they say they are not atheists. “Sometimes they even ask priests for their blessing.” Msgr. Munera-Correa explained that “in addition to the ‘objective’ motives of an economic, political and social nature, there is a lot of trafficking in drugs and arms behind this conflict.”