Vatican City, Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, the Vatican released Pope Benedict’s official schedule for his August trip to Cologne, Germany for the 20th World Youth Day. His visit will include visits with civic and religious leaders as well as massive celebrations with over a million young people from around the world.
The Vatican said that after departing Rome's Ciampino airport at 10 a.m. on Thursday, August 18, the Holy Father should land at the Cologne/Bonn International airport by noontime. There, he will attend a brief welcome ceremony before traveling by car to he archbishopric of Cologne.
Later in the afternoon, he will board a boat at the Rodenkirchenbrucke wharf, which will take him down the Rhine river to the Rheinwiesen wharf where he will be welcomed by the first groups of young people. He will then return to Cologne for the evening, after visiting the historic cathedral.
Friday’s schedule includes a short visit with Horst Kohler, president of the Federal Republic of Germany--which is home to over 27 million Catholics--whom the Holy Father will meet at 10:30 am at the Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn, where the Pope formerly taught theology.
By noontime, he is due back in Cologne to visit the synagogue and at 1 p.m. will return to the archbishopric for lunch with a group of young people. At 5 p.m. he will meet seminarians at the church of St. Pantaleon in Cologne before returning to the archbishopric to participate in an ecumenical meeting.
On Saturday, Pope Benedict will again celebrate a private Mass in the archbishopric, followed by audiences with various political and civil leaders including, Gerhard Schroeder, federal chancellor; Wolfgang Thierse, president of the parliament; Angela Merkel, president of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union); Jurgen Ruttgers, minister president of North Rhine Westphalia, and a number of local authorities.
At 6 p.m. he will meet representatives of Muslim communities before traveling by car to the large open grounds of Marienfeld where he will join young people in a vigil scheduled to last until 10.30 p.m.
At 10 a.m. on Sunday, the Pope will be back at Marienfeld, to celebrate the huge open air Mass and pray the Angelus. After lunch in the archbishopric he will go on foot to the "Piussaal" of the seminary of Cologne where he will meet the bishops of the German Episcopal Conference.
Late Sunday afternoon, he will greet members of the organizing committee of WYD 2005, before traveling by car to the airport where the departure ceremony is due to be held at 6.45 p.m.
From here, the Pope end his whirlwind trip and board his aircraft bound for Rome.
Washington D.C., Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - Since Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s announcement of retirement two weeks ago, Washington has been waiting with baited breath for President Bush’s decision on a nominee to replace her. Last night, with the announcement of Judge John Roberts, many pro-lifers are rejoicing, while those on the opposite side of the abortion debate seem poised for battle.
O’Connor had historically been a swing vote on many pro-life and religious freedom issues and many watchers think that her replacement could play a pivotal role in the possible overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
Reverend Rob Schneck, president of the National Clergy Council joined with religious leaders across the capital in praising the president’s pick.
“The nomination of Judge John G. Roberts”, he said, “is an answer to the prayers of millions of Americans. The President has demonstrated extraordinary moral courage and deserves the full cooperation of the Senate in bringing about a swift confirmation."
Fr. Frank Pavone, President of Priests for Life said: "I am thrilled that the President has kept his promise by selecting a nominee who understands the importance of strictly adhering to the Constitution.”
"The President's selection of Judge John G. Roberts, Jr.”, he said, “shows that he has a fundamental understanding of the types of judges that we need on the Supreme Court, judges who understand the difference between applying law and rewriting law. I look forward to working to ensure that Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. is treated fairly and receives a timely up-or-down vote on the floor of the Senate."
Jan LaRue, Chief Counsel for Concerned Women for America said that, "Everything we know about Judge Roberts tells us that he fulfills the President's promise to nominate a judge who will strictly interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench…That's why the President nominated him to the D.C. Circuit. He clerked for Rehnquist, which says a lot."
While many are fearing a Democratic filibuster which could block the nomination, as has been done with some of President Bush’s past judicial nominees, LaRue said, “No reasonable person can claim that Judge Roberts is ‘out-of- the-mainstream’ or that his judicial philosophy or record constitutes ‘extraordinary circumstances’ that would justify Democrats engaging in an abusive filibuster in order to deny him an up-or-down vote.”
“The confirmation process should occur without partisan political rancor and be in keeping with the dignity of the Court,” she said.
Washington’s National Right to Life Committee is mote skeptical however. “Liberal pressure groups will insist that Senate Democrats filibuster against Judge Roberts, unless he pledges in advance to vote against allowing elected legislators to place meaningful limits on abortion," said NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "Millions of Americans will be watching to see if the Democratic senators bow to these demands."
Others aren’t so satisfied with the president’s pick. The group NARAL Pro Choice America, the largest pro-abortion organization, said last night that, “We are extremely disappointed that President Bush has chosen such a divisive nominee for the highest court in the nation, rather than a consensus nominee who would protect individual liberty and uphold Roe v Wade.”
Ottawa, Canada, Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Canadian Senate has passed Canada’s same-sex marriage bill late Tuesday by a vote of 47-21; three senators abstained in the late-night vote. Governor General Adrienne Clarkson is expected to give the bill royal assent today, the formal process that officially makes the bill become law in Canada.
This will make Canada the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.
The passage of the bill in the Senate brings to an end the nearly three-year national debate, which saw dozens of organizations and individual citizens express their views on the issue.
The Canadian bishops made their final appeal against same-sex marriage before the Senate hearing committee last week. They argued that the majority of Canadians are opposed to the bill and that the proposed legislation did not provide enough assurances that Canadians’ freedom of religion and conscience would be protected. They warned that same-sex marriage would have negative and unforeseen consequences on children and on society as a whole. Their nine-page statement is available at www.cccb.ca.
Prior to the passage of Bill C-38, the courts in seven provinces had ruled that the traditional definition of marriage as the exclusive union of a man and a woman violated the Constitution. These court decisions opened the door to the solemnization of same-sex unions in these provinces.
Senators had rejected a Conservative amendment, which would have also recognized the traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman, and civil marriage as the union of two people.
"It would have brought a great deal of comfort to same-sex couples that they would not be perceived as having somehow gained their legitimate rights at the expense of those for whom the traditional marriage of a man and a woman was so terribly important," Conservative Senator Noel Kinsella, who supported the amendment, reportedly said.
CBC reported that B.C. Senator Gerry St. Germain expressed his fears that judges are determining policies that should be decided by conscience.
"If we don't stop this ... I know what the next steps are,” he predicted. “Euthanasia. Decriminalization of marijuana.”
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has said he will reintroduce the same-sex marriage debate if he's elected prime minister in the next election, which is expected to take place next spring.
St. Louis, Mo., Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of St. Louis has announced its decision to no longer host lunchtime lectures, conducted by the Aquinas Institute, at its Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury.
The institute had been conducting lectures there on a variety of subjects since 2003, such as the controversies that were drummed up by "The Da Vinci Code" and the "Left Behind" series.
The last lecture was given earlier this month by Sr. Jean deBlois on the stem-cell research debate.
The institute was informed of the decision in May. Archdiocese spokesman Jamie Allman reportedly said the archdiocese would not comment further on the decision.
Vatican City, Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - In a letter sent in the name of the Holy Father to Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Immigrant Peoples, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano warned that with the growth of world tourism, respect for individual cultures and religions must be upheld and encouraged Christian communities to share the life of Christ with tourists.
The letter was written for the occasion of the World Day of Tourism, scheduled for September 27, 2005 and dedicated to the theme: "Travel and Transport, from the imaginary world of Jules Verne to the reality of the 21st Century."
In his letter, Cardinal Sodano recalls how the "real or imaginary" journeys of the French author "in fact represented an invitation to consult the new geographical atlas and a challenge to human responsibility in facing limits that could no longer be concealed.”
“At the end of the 19th century,” the cardinal said, “in his own incredible voyage, Verne overcame these limits which were imposed by the dominant culture and by a vision exclusively centered on Western Europe."
Cardinal Sodano wrote that, "today too there are obstacles to overcome if we wish tourism, the fruit of travel and transport, to be open to everyone. New and unexplored opportunities for travel with ever more modern and faster means can make tourism a providential occasion to share the goods of the earth and of culture."
He cautioned however, that “it is necessary to bear in mind the ethical needs associated with tourism," and called upon leaders in the field "to favor the peaceful encounter of peoples, guaranteeing security and ease of communication," always bearing in mind the fact that "in all activities, and hence also in tourism, the primary goal must always remain respect for the human being."
The Secretary of State closed the letter stressing that tourists, for their part, must respect the "individual, cultural and religious" diversity of the peoples they visit. He also invited Christian communities to welcome tourists and offer them "the chance to discover the richness of Christ incarnate, not only in monuments and religious works of art, but also in the daily life of a living Church."
Honolulu, Hawaii, Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Catholic faithful of Hawaii are ready to celebrate the historic ordination of Fr. Clarence “Larry” Silva as the fifth bishop of Honolulu.
Not only is he the first bishop of Honolulu to be ordained and installed during the same ceremony, but he is also the first Honolulu-born priest to be named bishop of the diocese since it was established in 1941.
What’s more, the faithful had waited more than a year — since May 2004 — to have a new bishop. Fr. Silva succeeds Bishop Francis DiLorenzo who was appointed bishop of Richmond, Va., by Pope John Paul II in March 2004.
Before the nomination, the 55-year-old priest had been the vicar general of the Diocese of Oakland, Calif.
Fr. Thomas Gross of Enchanted Lakes on Oahu served as the diocesan administrator while the diocese waited for a new appointment from the Pope. Diocesan spokesperson Patrick Downes said this has been the longest the diocese has been without a bishop.
Fr. Silva’s episcopal ordination and installation ceremony will be held Thursday in Oahu at the Neal Blaisdell Center Arena, followed by a dinner reception at the center’s Exhibition Hall. About 4,000 people are expected to attend the two-hour televised mass.
Fr. Silva was born in Honolulu in 1949 and is of both Portuguese and Mauian heritage. This has even inspired some Maui Catholic faithful to travel to Oahu for the event.
His family lived in Windward Oahu. When he was one year old, his family moved from Hawaii to the Bay Area of San Francisco, eventually putting down roots in San Leandro on the east bay, where many former Hawaii Portuguese immigrants had settled.
The new bishop is expected to visit Maui at the end of August.
Berkeley, Calif., Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - For San Francisco publisher Denise Carrigg, every day is an opportunity to grow deeper into the mystery of God. But it wasn’t always this way. She shared her story of faith and conversion with the San Francisco Gate recently.
Carrigg grew up in a strict Catholic home — her family even lived in Fatima to be close to the Marian pilgrimage site for three years — but she became an atheist in college.
“I became convinced that God wasn't real,” she told the newspaper. Still, she remained interested in the great existential questions about the meaning of life.
But things changed when she was 21. She said she had a conversion based on a mystical experience in Paris that made her realize that God actually existed. It was during a period that she describes as her “deepest existential loneliness,” that she felt God had reached out to her personally.
“I felt like I experienced God's presence then, and I had the realization that everything I had been taught as a kid was true,” she told the San Francisco Gate.
This, however, did not lead her back to the Catholic Church, but on a three-year journey in Buddhism.
She said she was only convinced to return to the Catholic Church because she had learned that psychoanalyst Carl Jung had advised lapsed Catholics to return to the Church if they could “because all of the elements were in place in Catholicism in terms of helping bridge the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious worlds.”
She had also read a book about someone who had lived a faith journey similar to hers and who had eventually converted to Catholicism. Finally, she attended a mass, celebrated in Latin, and was moved by the love the priest expressed for the liturgy.
Now, Carrigg’s understanding of God is as a benevolent, “permeating, loving, intelligent spirit.” She said her desire is to always penetrate deeper into the mystery of the Catholic faith, attending mass every Sunday and sometimes during the week if her work schedule permits.
Since her conversion in 1989, Carrigg has also decided to live as a celibate. She said she does not feel drawn to monastic life because she is convinced that she is called to contribute her gifts and talents in the world.
Through her faith, Carrigg said she has come to a deeper understanding of the meaning of her life, and a “deeper sense of integration and peace.”
“I feel like I am honoring God by living as authentically as I can,” she said.
Rome, Italy, Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - Caritas International, through the offices of Caritas Haiti and Caritas Antilles, has announced it will be sending aid to victims of Hurricanes Dennis and Emily which have ravaged the Caribbean in recent days.
Caritas Haiti reported there were a number of deaths and severely injured in the towns of Cayes, Jeremie, Jacmel and Port-au-Prince. It said food, water and cooking utensils would be distributed to hurricane victims in the region. Aid for reconstruction of homes will also be made available, as well as seeds to replant fields that were flooded during the storms.
Caritas Antilles reported there were serious injuries sustained on the islands of Granada, Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Vincent. On Trinidad and Tobago close to 40% of the population is without electricity, and on Granada more than 1,600 people are still staying in hurricane shelters.
Caritas International reported that Granada is able to provide some of its own resources for assistance but that international aid has become necessary do to damage caused by Hurricane Emily.
Guatemala City, Guatemala, Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - A delegation of bishops from Europe and Canada are visiting Guatemala this week in order to assess the level of poverty in the country and develop aid projects for rural communities.
Auxiliary Bishop Jean de Bie of Brussels, Bishop John Kirby of Clonfert (Ireland), Bishop Marc Stenger of Troyes (France) and Bishop Francois La Pierre of Saint-Hyacinthe (Canada), and others are meeting with Guatemalan bishops during their visit. According to Bishop de Bie, “We would like to be close to the poorest of the poor who, in Guatemala, are mainly the indigenous people and residents of rural areas. We intend to visit communities in different areas to assess the struggle of the poor to improve their living conditions,” he said.
The purpose of the mission, he added, is “to understand the situation in Guatemala better, especially for the indigenous and rural inhabitants, in order to determine what we can do to help in a Christian spirit of communion.”
The bishops will stay in Guatemala until July 23, and their visit will include a meeting with Vice President Eduardo Stein and members of different aid groups.
It is estimated that 80% of Guatemalans live in conditions of poverty or extreme poverty.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - Participants in the Encounter of Young Political and Social Leaders, which took place this month in Argentina and was organized by the Youth Ministry Office of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, have published their conclusions agreed to during the event, stating that young people must “bear witness and commit in body and soul to participate in the political, social and trade union structures of our country.”
Likewise, they agreed that the basis for their political action should be made up of the values, virtues and culture of work. The problem facing their society is not economic or political, they noted, but moral. “This is the true cause of poverty in our country,” they emphasized.
According to the young people who participated in the event, economic models “should be subordinate to political program-models that respond to the needs of the poorest of the poor in our country.” “The profile of a politician should be oriented towards new ideas and being a visionary. His or her formation is indispensable so that the policies that should dignify the communities in which we live are not left to improvisation.”
The young people noted that “unity and reconciliation, with respect and silent and fertile work” will open the way “to dialogue and action in overcoming the political structures that are supposed to be responding to the community we are called to serve,” they said.
Addressing the young people at the end of the encounter, Auxiliary Bishop Jorge Lozano of Buenos Aires recalled that “God, who provides for us, will never lead us down a dead-end road toward iniquity.”
Madrid, Spain, Jul 20, 2005 (CNA) - During the consecration of the new Church of St. Thomas More in Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela highlighted the relevance for today’s world of the saint’s model of holiness and his defense of marriage and the law of God without fear of martyrdom.
During the Mass of consecration for the new parish church in the Madrid neighborhood of Majadahonda, the cardinal explained that Thomas Moore “was a saint, a European Christian who defended marriage according to God’s law, opposing divorce, the breaking of God’s law. He said ‘no’ to those who would break the law of God, and it cost him his life.”
This was “a man who had no fear of martyrdom,” the cardinal noted, saying he was a “model for young people of the parish and for all of us in difficult moments.”
Cardinal Rouco, who inaugurated the construction of the parish two years ago, said during his homily that the parish is “young and dedicated to a saint who is relevant for today’s Europe.” Therefore, he added, “St. Thomas More is very present to us on this day of dedication of the church.”