Vatican City, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - During his noontime Angelus prayer yesterday, temporarily being held at his vacation spot in Les Combes, in Italy’s northern alps, Pope Benedict stressed the need for vacations, particularly for city-dwellers, to restore body and spirit.
The Holy Father joined with some 6,000 people, including locals, holiday-makers and pilgrims, who had gathered in Italy's Valle d'Aosta, to join him in the Marian prayer.
The Pope specifically recalled his "beloved predecessor," John Paul II, "whose memory is still alive in the stupendous mountains of the Valle d'Aosta" where "for many years he came to spend brief periods of vacation."
"This summer break," he continued, "is a truly providential gift of God following the first months of the demanding pastoral service with which Divine Providence has entrusted me."
"In the world in which we live it is almost a requirement to be able to restore body and spirit, especially for city dwellers, where the often frenetic lifestyle leaves little time for silence, reflection or the soothing contact with nature. Vacations are also a period in which one can dedicate more time to prayer, reading and meditation on the profound meaning of life, in the serene environment of one's own family and loved ones."
"Through contact with nature,” the Pope continued, “people again find their true dimension, they rediscover themselves as creatures, small but at the same time unique, and 'capable of God' because of an interior openness to Infinity. Driven by the need for meaning which rises from their hearts, they perceive in the surrounding world the signs of goodness and of Divine Providence and, almost naturally, they become open to praise and prayer."
Vatican City, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI prayed his traditional Sunday angelus while vacationing in the Italian alps yesterday, and excitedly told young people there that, “we will all meet in Cologne.”
Following the noontime prayer, the Holy Father greeted the bishop, priests, religious, families and local authorities of northwestern Italy’s Valle d'Aosta region, where he is spending his summer holiday. He assured those who had gathered of his special prayers for the sick and suffering and greeted sick and disabled in the front rows of the crowd.
The Pope then addressed young people and said, "You have come to my first Angelus in the mountains. We are already spiritually on the march to Cologne. We will all meet in Cologne!"
Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Cologne, in his native Germany on August 18th through 21st for the 20th World Youth Day, a celebration instituted by his predecessor, John Paul II.
Washington D.C., Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - With politics in Washington continually heating up over the culture wars pro-life politicians often being made to look like extremists, one Catholic analyst is trying to show that an anti-life culture plays a massive role in the U.S.‘s often skewed moral values.
Deal Hudson, former editor of Crisis magazine has highlighted this battle in his latest column in the Window, showing that Catholic senator Rick Santorum is getting a bad rap from his largely anti-life opponents.
Hudson recalled a Philadelphia Daily News story in which Santorum was recently blasted for his views on the Terri Schiavo case and made to look like a “right wing, religious fanatic.”
Jphn Baer, the columnist who wrote the story cited an article written by Santorum three years ago, in which, according to Hudson, the senator “had described dissent in Catholic education and liberalism in culture as contributing factors to the difficulties in the Roman Catholic Church.”
Baer however, saw it as suggesting, “In other words, Harvard, the Kennedys, Kerry and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts are to blame for priests preying on altar boys.”
Hudson noted that this quickly caught the attention of many, including Senator Ted Kennedy, and said that “the Democratic Party has every gun in their arsenal aimed at Santorum who is being challenged by Bob Casey, Jr., in the 2006 election. Their task will be to make Sen. Santorum look like a religious fanatic, a Catholic extremist of the religious right.”
While the battle plays out on a partisan stage however, many are convinced that the issue has far less to do with right and left than with right and wrong.
Hudson points out that, “Santorum’s point is neither extreme nor fanatical: Culture affects values and influences action. His mention of Boston, almost in passing, could have been replaced by any number of cities, and perhaps American culture as a whole. In fact, in his just-published book, It Takes a Family, Santorum makes that exact point, without any mention of Boston.”
He goes on to say that “If Senator Kennedy is trying to say that Boston’s liberal environment does not influence culture and values, he’s ignoring the evidence of the many Catholic members of the Massachusetts legislature who spoke publicly in support of gay marriage and legalized the creation of human clones for scientific experimentation.”
Hudson continues by citing numerous influence Catholics and non-Catholics who are attempting a brick-by-brick breakdown of the Church’s teaching on life, family and sexuality.
Hudson cites many including Fr. Stephen Schloesser, S.J., an associate professor of History at Boston College, who wrote in a letter to Senator Marian Walsh that, “It seems helpful to me to recall what traditional marriage is: It’s a community's legal arrangement in order to pass on property. In it, a male acquires (in the sense of owning and having sovereignty over) a female for the sake of reproducing other males who will then inherit the property…[E]arly Christianity was really not into marriage and it takes a quick leap of the imagination to spin biblical Christianity" as somehow being part of family values."
He also claims that, "Catholic Canon Law is complicated and fuzzy about these distinctions and Catholic politicians who know almost nothing about Catholicism (Like Rick Santorum and Bill Frist) do not help matters by pretending they do understand it."
Hudson is convinced that Santorum is ready for the fight however. In his closing, he states that “Among Catholic members of Congress, there is no one [else] who has taken a more public stance in defense of the Church.”
Jackson, Miss., Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - A Christian adoption agency said it does not place children with Catholic couples because their religion conflicts with the agency's Statement of Faith.
Bethany Christian Services stated its policy in a letter to a Jackson couple this month, and another Mississippi couple said they were rejected for the same reason last year.
"It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith," Bethany state director, Karen Stewart, wrote. "Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant's time, money and emotional energy."
Sandy and Robert Steadman, who learned of Bethany's decision in a July 8 letter, said their priest told them the faith statement did not conflict with Catholic teaching.
Loria Williams said she and her husband, Wes, had a similar experience in September 2004.
The faith statement describes belief in the Christian Church and the Scripture. It does not refer to any specific branches of Christianity.
Part of it reads: "As the Savior, Jesus takes away the sins of the world. Jesus is the one in whom we are called to put our hope, our only hope for forgiveness of sin and for reconciliation with God and with one another."
Bethany has 75 offices in 30 states, including three in Mississippi. It is based in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The offices are independently incorporated and are affiliated with various religions, agency spokesman John Van Valkenburg said. He couldn't say whether any were Catholic-affiliated.
He said the Presbyterian-affiliated Presbyterian Jackson office “included this practice of not including Catholics."
The director told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that Bethany's board will review its policy, but she didn't specify which aspects would be addressed.
Wellington, New Zealand, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - The New Zealand Medical Association announced Friday that it will reconsider its position on euthanasia at the end of July.
Family Life International said this news marks a frightening moment in the country’s history. It points out that the right to life is the fundamental right, which underpins all other rights, and there is no such thing as a right to die.
“Death is not a human right it is an inevitable and unavoidable part of life,” Family Life International said in a press release Friday. “Without life one is never afforded the opportunity to exercise any other human rights.”
The pro-life group argued that euthanasia would fly in the face of the Hippocratic oath and lead to an increase in involuntary euthanasia.
“It leads to a lowering of palliative care standards, and less concern for using finance and resources to fight terminal illness,” the statement said. “It also creates lazy physicians, and a dangerous and unhealthy imbalance in the doctor-patient relationship.”
Bernardston, Mass., Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic Men's Quarterly is celebrating its first anniversary and has now become available to international subscribers.
The magazine, based in Bernardston, MA, was launched last year in an effort to counter false information about the Catholic Church in the public sphere and to reach out to lapsed Catholic men “in the hopes of re-energizing the faith of Catholic men during these challenging times,” stated a press release.
In addition to articles on Catholic doctrine and stories of heroic and saintly Catholics, CMQ includes other content of interest to men: sports, humor, travel, military history, book and movie reviews, and Catholic manhood, to name a few.
Publisher and editor John Moorehouse said CMQ is not a “how to be holy" magazine, though it does include some quality spiritual content. Rather, it seeks to draw men back to the Church and to sacramental life and entertain them in the process.
Believing that a tone that is both blunt and humorous works best with men, Moorehouse said the quarterly has an attitude of reverence towards "things meriting reverence. After that, all bets are off."
For subscriptions or sample issues, go to: www.houseonthemoor.com
For interview inquiries, e-mail: [email protected]
Ottawa, Canada, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking on the impact of same-sex marriage on the Catholic Church in Canada, Cardinal Marc Ouellet reportedly told the Senate hearing committee last Wednesday that in the case of baptism, “according to our canon law, we cannot accept the signatures of two fathers or two mothers as parents of an infant” in our baptismal registers.
His statement left the impression with several senators and observers that the Catholic Church would not allow the baptism of children of same-sex couples.
Senator Marcel Prud'homme took issue with the cardinal’s statement, saying that a child should not be denied baptism.
But Benoit Bariteau, associate general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Ottawa Citizen that this would only be the case if both partners in a same-sex union insisted on signing the baptismal certificate.
"If the parents insist that the two signatures be on the act of baptism, if we say no, it will be their choice of seeking baptism or not," said Bariteau.
He explained that if one signature is sufficient for both parents, the Church would not refuse to baptize children of a same-sex couple.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette the following day, Msgr. Allan McCormack pointed out that the Canadian bishops have not issued a uniform position on the issue. The Ottawa-based canon lawyer reportedly said it is up to individual priests, working under the authority of their bishop, to decide whether to baptize an infant.
Fr. John Walsh, pastor at St. John Brebeuf in Montreal, told the Gazette that it is a basic Catholic principle that the Church never refuses baptism to an infant. Fr. Walsh said he has already baptized children of same-sex couples and modified the register in these cases to list a mother and “parent.”
After three days of hearings, the Senate committee approved the bill and is expected to report back to the Senate today with a recommendation to pass Bill C-38 with no amendments.
The bill is expected to receive final passage in the Senate Tuesday or Wednesday.
Vatican City, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - Following a deadly bomb attack in the resort city of Kusadasi, Turkey on Saturday, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, sent a letter of condolence, in the Pope's name, to Archbishop Edmond Farhat, apostolic nuncio to Turkey, imploring God’s mercy on the victims and consolation for their families.
Cardinal Sodano wrote that, "Informed of the deadly explosion that took place recently in Turkey, the Holy Father implores the mercy of the Almighty for the people who lost their lives in the horrific attack and the consolation of God on their suffering families.”
“He express his heartfelt sympathy”, the letter continues, “to the numerous people injured in this drama and to their families, as well as to the Turkish authorities and people."
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - The Argentinean daily La Nación featured a story last week on the testimony of a group of Parkinson’s sufferers who expressed their gratitude for the example Pope John Paul II gave in bearing the disease with patience.
“This disease is embarrassing; it makes you feel ridiculous. But John Paul II’s attitude gave us strength to go out and to better connect ourselves with others; in my case, to dance and make gestures without worrying about other people looking at me,” said Ana Fernandez de Piol, coordinator of the Argentinean Parkinson’s Group (APG) .
The newspaper also published the testimony of Roberto Tomasello, 58, professor of drawing and painting and member of the APG. “The Pope had much foresight, he was a sportsman and an athlete. And to say that a Parkinson’s patient is an athlete is ironic but it is inspiring. It makes us wonder why we cannot be in public places just like ‘normal’ people, why we cannot mingle with others instead of living in hiding.”
“The Pope showed us that. He was not a sick man dressed up as Pope, he fulfilled his obligations and although the illness complicated things, the handicap was only a physical one,” Tomasello recalled.
Ramona Nunez, 44, has suffered from Parkinson’s for eight years, and she says the last pictures of the Pope brought her comfort. “I was worried about always lying down and not being able to do things, because there came a point in which I couldn’t move. But at the same time, I felt I had a lot of will power. I am very devout, and if he did not let himself be overcome, he was an example to be followed,” she said.
Vatican City, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday, during an informal meeting, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls gave journalists an inside look at the day-to-day life of the Pope on his vacation in Italy’s northern alps this week.
Navarrro-Valls described the vacation, being spent in Les Combes, in the Valle d’Aosta region of Italy, which stretches from July 11th to the 28th, as "a real holiday, but a working holiday."
He said that after celebrating Mass and eating breakfast each day, the Holy Father reads the breviary before retiring to his room to write. "I would not say he is writing an Encyclical," Navarro-Valls said, which could suggest that the Holy Father is working on a new book.
In the afternoon, he added, the Pope usually takes a walk around the local area. On Saturday, returning home, he paused to greet some of the locals.
Pope Benedict’s chalet, which is situated on the property of the Salesians, is the same one in which John Paul II used to stay. "Everything has remained as it was," said Navarro-Valls, save the piano which has been placed in the study. The Pope loves music and "over these days I have heard him play Mozart", the press office director added.
Yesterday evening, the Pope made a special visit to a museum dedicated to John Paul II located some 500 meters from the chalet in which he is staying. Inaugurated in 1996, the museum is a unique collection of personal objects used by John Paul II during his holidays in the alpine mountains. It also houses many photographs of the late Pontiff including pictures of him enjoying his beloved mountains.
Navarro-Valls added that before returning home for the evening, the Holy Father paused briefly at a small nearby hermitage to spend some time in prayer.
Nairobi, Kenya, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - Police in Kenya have detained two suspects who may have been involved in the murder of Bishop Luigi Locati, Apostolic Vicar of Isiolo, according to official sources.
Senior police officer Robert Kipkemei Kitur told Reuters that the two men were found with 18 rounds of ammunition. Kitur added that the arresting officers had also recovered two spent cartridges from two different weapons. "One is believed to be a G-3 rifle and the other one an AK-47 rifle," he told Reuters.
Locati's death followed a week of clan violence in the lawless Marsabit district, just south of the Ethiopian border, in which at least 75 people were killed.
Joseph Samal, a development coordinator for the Apostolic Vicarate of Isiolo, said people were speculating that the killing was linked to local issues in Isiolo.
Martin Kivuva, also with the Vicarate, said he also did not believe Locati was targeted as a result of the Marsabit bloodshed. "Everything is possible, but people think the murder of Monsignor Locati was not connected with that violence," he told the Misna missionary news wire. "The north of Kenya is a dangerous area where any traveler needs an escort and where not even the Church has enough protection," he said.
Tegucigalpa, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of San Pedro de Sula has joined with family members of the victims of a May 2004 prison fire in a lawsuit against the State of Honduras and in a complaint filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (ICHR).
In a statement, Bishop Angel Garachana Perez of San Pedro de Sula noted that more than a year has passed since the fire that took the lives of over 100 prisoners, and authorities still have not uncovered the facts surrounding the tragedy.
The bishop said he was not looking for a confrontation with the State, but “so many deaths and so much suffering cannot be in vain” In his statement, he called on authorities to reform the prison system to ensure, among other things, strict respect for human life.
“The State has the obligation to protect life in addition to the rehabilitation of those deprived of liberty, and therefore it is urgent and necessary that changes take place in the prison system,” Bishop Garachana said.
He stated that the reason for joining the complaint before the ICHR is to seek out the common good and to help the State “to fulfill its responsibility to maintain a prison system that rehabilitates and contributes to social coexistence.”
At the same time, Bishop Garachana noted that the spiral of violence in Honduras is the responsibility of all. “The deaths of our brothers is also an accusation against all of us in regards to our conformism. We should not only question the government, but also our social responsibility and our commitment of faith,” he warned.
Lastly, the bishop said death and impunity should not be allowed to take over the country, and he called on the faithful to “get to work in building a more just, unified and peaceful society.”
If the complaint before the ICHR is accepted, it will then be heard by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 18, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Andres Stanovnik of Reconquista reminded Argentineans as they celebrate the country’s independence day that “the fundamental truth that makes us free is the grateful recognition that we come from God and we are not the product of chance, or of mere biological evolution, or of some cosmic coincidence.”
According to Bishop Stanovnik, this kind of “degrading thinking about the human person, devoid of any of the cultural and religious values of our nationality, is being spread among us with unusual aggressiveness. It is a way a of thinking that strips man of his transcendent dimension and thus recycles yet again the age-old pride of the human being, bringing with it suffering, destruction and death.”
The bishop also referred to Pope Benedict XVI’s warning against the widespread relativism that the world is facing, and that an authentic education is not possible without the light of the truth.
“It is clear, therefore, that we should not only seek to overcome relativism in personal formation, but also resist its dominance in society and in culture,” he stated.
In this sense, Bishop Stanovnik said, “There is no justification for abortion from a human or Christian perspective. To seek to legalize the direct interruption of a pregnancy is to kill. This means life ceases to be an absolute value and right for all,” he warned.