Vatican City, Jul 28, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to clergy of the Diocese of Aosta, Italy on Monday, Pope Benedict addressed the difficult question of divorced Catholics who have remarried, a situation he described as "particularly painful."
The Holy Father discussed the "situation of those who married in Church out of tradition, without being true believers; then, finding themselves in a new and non-valid marriage, they convert, find faith, and feel excluded from the Sacrament (of the Eucharist)."
Many Catholics have either been falsely taught about Church teaching on marriage or succumbed to societal pressure to divorce and feel disenfranchised by the teaching that divorced Catholics cannot receive communion until they reconcile with the Church.
Others fail to understand the nature of annulment and simply see it as “Catholic divorce,” thereby choosing not to seek it.
The Pope noted that when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith, he invited several episcopal conferences to study the question of a "Sacrament celebrated without faith," and "whether it is truly possible to find therein a reason for invalidity, because the Sacrament was lacking an essential dimension.”
“The problem”, he said, “is very difficult and must be studied profoundly."
Providence, R.I., Jul 28, 2005 (CNA) - A Brown University researcher has concluded that the abortion drug RU 486 causes rare bacterial infections in women that can lead to death, reports LifeNews.com. Dr. Ralph Miech is expected to have his research published in the September issue of The Annals of Pharmacotherapy.
The two-part drug-induced abortion uses mifepristone to block the effects of progesterone and shut off nutrition to the placenta and the baby. The woman then ingests misoprostol, which is a cancer drug that is used to cause contractions and expel the now-dead baby.
Miech writes that the effects of mifepristone cause changes in the cervix that allow C. sordellii, a common vaginal bacteria, to enter the cervical canal.
"C. sordellii thrives in this low-oxygen environment and derives nutrition from the decaying fetal tissue," explains the professor of molecular pharmacology, physiology, and biotechnology at Brown. Meanwhile, mifepristone produces other hormonal effects.
In combination, these hormonal effects prevent the woman's immune system from fighting off the bacteria and may even help it spread. This can lead to septic shock, which leads to death, Miech says.
Septic shock was cited as the cause of death in the five women who took the Mifeprix abortion pills. Three of the women were known to have the C. sordellii bacteria in their bodies when they died.
According to Miech, C. sordellii infections are "rare outside of mifepristone use" and are particularly dangerous because women do not show any typical signs of infection or fever and tenderness upon examination.
Washington D.C., Jul 28, 2005 (CNA) - While the press and liberal observers have been criticizing the nomination of John Roberts for the Supreme Court because of his Catholic faith, Associated Press contributor Richard Ostling points out that “history shows a justice's religion does not provide a roadmap for rulings.”
Ostling analyzes the situation based on the issue of abortion, which he calls “the main religious matter swirling around Roberts' nomination.” In fact, an AP-Ipsos poll released last week found 52 percent of Americans want Roberts to reveal his position on abortion before the Senate confirmation vote.
While Catholic judges Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas oppose abortion, another Catholic judge, Anthony Kennedy, voted in favor of reaffirming Roe v. Wade in 1992, Ostling observes.
In addition, he says, Judge William Brennan, the only Catholic on the Supreme Court in 1973, voted in favor of liberal access to abortion.
Conclusion: History shows that U.S. judges have not always voted in line with the teachings of their particular religion and, because of that, religion cannot be used to discount a person for Supreme Court.
Ostling says Catholic Democratic senators Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dick Durbin of Illinois are expected to ask tough questions of Roberts during his nomination hearing.
However, Joseph Cella of Fidelis, a Catholic group that backs conservative judges, warned senators against targeting Roberts "because of his Catholic faith or family life."
Ostling cites Robert Destro of the Catholic University of America law school, who said he would be surprised if religion came up during confirmation hearings because the Constitution clearly states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office."
If Roberts is confirmed, Ostling notes, he will be the fourth Catholic on the Supreme Court. This would see the greatest number of Catholics sitting on the Supreme Court at one time.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 28, 2005 (CNA) - During his recent visit to Argentina, the Archbishop of Genoa, Italy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, denounced the disintegration of marriage as created by God and the destruction of the definition of marriage.
Cardinal Bertone told local reporters that the parents of today are “the internet, the computer, the newspapers and television.”
“They substitute for the parents, who should be the first teachers of life and the teachers of the faith in Christian families. They should be the ones in charge of transmitting the identity of human nature. But today parents face many difficulties in cultivating this identity,” he said.
According to the cardinal, “Now, when the definition of woman, of man, of husband, of wife is destroyed…everything gets confused. You see what is happening in Spain with [President] Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Each person can choose his or her own identity. It’s the disintegration of the plan of marriage which God has created for human nature and which has been respected throughout history.”
“You can see how the Greeks, the Romans, the Indians of the Orinoco River had a concept of marriage and the family, with some diversity, but with the common foundation,” the cardinal added.
Likewise, he warned, “Poverty humiliates and spoils the human condition. It’s terrible. Capitalism is a heavy blow mainly to the poor and destroys the family structure. Therefore, politicians should put the family at the center. They should think of measures that promote the good of the family, which is the primordial cell of society. If the family is destroyed, the supposedly democratic society is also destroyed,” Cardinal Bertone said.
Washington D.C., Jul 28, 2005 (CNA) - On Monday, Father Carlos Quintana Puente, a Puerto Rican-ordained priest with vast financial experience was named the new Executive Director of the Secretariat for the Church in Latin America at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.
Father Quintana, who was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of San Juan in 1996, is a 1983 graduate of the University of Notre Dame who spent a number of years working for various Wall Street investment firms prior to becoming a priest.
Monsignor William P. Fay, USCCB General Secretary, who made the announcement, said that, “Father Quintana is particularly well suited for this work, given his experience of the Church in both the United States and Latin America.”
“I believe”, he continued, that “his presence here will mark a new beginning for the Secretariat as he travels through the United States giving witness to the reality of the Church in Latin America, and if that results in greater awareness and support it will yield great benefit to the dioceses and parishes throughout Latin America.”
“We have asked the Archdiocese of San Juan”, he said, “to make a great sacrifice in providing Father Quintana for this work, and we are deeply grateful. Through this sharing of his gifts with the Church in the north, may the life of the Church in the south be ever more blessed.”
Father Quintana is noted for his work managing the investment portfolio of the San Juan Archdiocese and overseeing the first island wide collection there.
In 1999, he became general treasurer of CELAM, the regional council which represents 22 national bishops’ conferences across Latin America and the Caribbean--an organization which has a long-standing relationship with the USCCB.
In his role as the new Secretariat, Father Quintana will essentially be a liaison between the Church in the U.S. and the Church in Central and South America and the Caribbean. He will also organize initiatives to raise consciousness in the U.S. of the plight of churches in those areas.
Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 28, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Rosalio Jose Castillo Lara told reporters this week that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez “is not Catholic” and he expressed regret that Chavez has encouraged “the sowing of hatred that is bearing evil results.”
In an interview with the Italian daily La Tercera, the cardinal stated, “Chavez is not Catholic. He is whatever is convenient for him at the moment. When Chavez is with an evangelical, he is evangelical. When he visited Muammar Gaddafi he told him, ‘Allah is great.’ When he went to China, he praised Mao Tse-tung.”
“It is harmful that Venezuelans are divided, but the one behind this harm is Chavez, because since he came to power he has sowed hatred that is bearing evil results,” the cardinal said.
“Regarding the previous governments, the Church had no reason to be against them. The Bishops’ Conference has been very critical, even with Christian Democracy. What’s happening here is not that the Church is tied to the opposition, but rather there have been tortures and assassinations by the government,” Cardinal Castillo Lara noted, in response to accusations that he leads the principal opposition to the Chavez administration.
He explained that the errors of the opposition began four years ago, when the two main parties began to lose influence in recent administrations and fell into disarray. “The President took advantage of this situation in order to set himself up with a Constitution and a National Assembly in which he had the majority,” Cardinal Castillo Lara recalled.
He pointed to the need to follow article 350 of the country’s Constitution, which allows for civil disobedience, as in his judgment there is no guarantee of credibility in the next elections.
San Diego, Calif., Jul 28, 2005 (CNA) - The citizens of San Diego have voted to keep a 1954 war memorial that includes a 43-ft concrete cross. More than 75 percent of Tuesday’s votes were in favor of keeping the cross rather than donating the cross and memorial to the federal government as a national war memorial.
The vote was called after a 15-year battle. In 1989, an atheist filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Mt. Soledad Cross because it was located on public property.
After successive yet adverse court rulings, city council decisions, and a local war memorial associations agreement to settle the case by removing the cross, a state judge ruled last week that a vote must be called on the issue. The judgment required a two-thirds vote to keep the cross.
The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, played an instrumental role in getting the issue to a ballot vote. Its work was the basis for a federal law that declared the site as a National War Memorial and authorized the federal government to receive a donation of the land on which the cross and memorial stood.
Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, was pleased with the results but he warned: “The other side has not surrendered; court battles over the cross continue.”
Two court dates are scheduled next month. A federal judge will hear arguments over the cross Aug. 15, and a state Superior Court judge will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the ballot measure Aug. 12.
Vatican City, Jul 28, 2005 (CNA) - On Monday, Pope Benedict met with clergy of the diocese of Aosta, Italy, where he just finished his summer vacation today. The text of the meeting was published yesterday and shows that his discussions centered on the crisis of faith in the world today, the role of divorced Catholics in the Church and the challenge of vocations.
The "L’Osservatore Romano" published the complete text of the meeting, held at the church of Introd, in which the Pope said that, "The history of the Church has always been marked, in various different forms, by questions that have truly tormented us. What must be done? ... I would like to respond briefly, but I would also like to point out that the Pope is not an oracle, he is infallible only in very rare situations, as we know. Therefore I share these questions with you.”
“I too suffer,” said the pontiff. “But all of us together wish ... to transform problems through suffering, because suffering is the way to transformation, and without it nothing is transformed. This is also the meaning of the parable of the grain of wheat that falls to the earth."
Benedict also referred to the ongoing vocations crisis in the West, and pointed out that the western world has reached a point "in which there is no longer any evidence of the need for God, still less for Christ. ... Consequently, it becomes difficult to believe, and if it is difficult to believe it is even more difficult to offer one's life to the Lord, to be His servant.”
The Western world is in the process of self-destruction, “tired of its own culture,” and overcome by a stale rationalism that makes it difficult to appreciate the evidence of God's existence and love for mankind, said the Pope. The Christian faith is largely misunderstood as “a subjective, arbitrary choice” and as an “antique” with no practical value to modern man.
In this moment in history, particularly in Europe and Australia, “the great churches seem to be dying" and new religious sects are growing, putting traditional religions, particularly mainstream Protestant denominations, “in a very deep crisis,” the Pope said.
However, a new hope emerges in today’s youth. "We are seeing a new generation, after the great crisis of the culture war that began in 1968, when it really seemed that the Christian era had passed,” the Pope said.
Young people in Europe are capable of making commitments, and they should be challenged to religious as well as secular causes, he said.
Priests must live their vocation with joy and engage the community in faith and action to attract these young people. "If young people see priests as isolated, sad, and tired, they will think: If that is my future, I don't want it!" the Pope continued.
He acknowledged that priests enjoy less respect today than in the past, and that they are subject to moral as well as physical fatigue. Nevertheless, priests must have the courage to serve as "ministers to the future of the world," he said.
The Holy Father warned that there are still more challenges ahead for the priesthood, requiring patience and perseverance in the face of suffering.
He remarked on the rapid growth of the Church in Africa and in the number of seminarians due to a "springtime of the faith" on the continent. The Church in Europe should seek to imitate this enthusiasm.
However, he suggested, the high number of seminarians may be because some African men turn to the priesthood seeking prestige and social advancement. For that reason, he said, he has told African bishops that they should be ready to prune the ranks of seminarians, and be content with a somewhat lesser number of future priests.
"We must traverse this tunnel patiently, in the certainty that Christ is the answer and that in the end His light will reappear." the Pontiff said.
Vatican City, Jul 28, 2005 (CNA) - As residents of the Maharashtra region of India struggle to cope with the devastating monsoon rains and flooding that have already killed some 430, the Holy Father is expressing his “profound solidarity and pastoral concern” in the time of crisis.
A message was sent today in the Pope’s name by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano to Cardinal Ivan Dias, Archbishop of Bombay.
The telegram read: "Deeply saddened by reports of the tragic consequences of the monsoon rains in Maharashtra State, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI sends the assurance of his profound solidarity and pastoral concern.”
“With fervent prayers that Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died and consolation and strength to the homeless, injured and suffering,” it continues, “he invokes the divine gifts of wisdom, strength and peace upon the civil authorities and those engaged in the massive work of relief and rebuilding."
The latest reports say that the Indian Navy has been called in to help some 150,000 people still trapped on roads, railways and in office buildings.