Vatican City, Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - Yesterday afternoon, the Vatican released a stern statement defending the Pope’s words and rejecting an Israeli complaint that he failed to condemn militant Palestinian attacks in remarks made on Sunday.
In his remarks, made during Sunday’s angelus, the Pope deplored attacks on the countries of Brittan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq--countries which, the Vatican pointed out, had all endured terrorist attacks within the previous 72 hours. Israel’s most recent was 12 days prior.
The Vatican said that "Not every attack against Israel could be followed by an immediate public condemnation… partly because they were “sometimes followed by immediate Israeli reactions not always compatible with the norms of international law. It would, consequently, have been impossible to condemn the former and remain silent on the latter.”
The statement did note however, that, "John Paul II's declarations condemning all forms of terrorism, and condemning single acts of terrorism committed against Israel, were numerous and public.”
Nimrod Barkan, an Israeli foreign ministry official, commented in the Jerusalem Post newspaper on July 26th that, "The untenability of the groundless accusations directed against Pope Benedict XVI for not having mentioned - in comments following the Angelus prayer on July 24 - the July 12 terrorist attack in Netanya, Israel, cannot but be clear to the people who made them.”
“Perhaps”, he continued, “it is also for this reason that an attempt has been made to uphold the accusations by shifting attention to supposed silences of John Paul II on attacks against Israel in past years, even inventing repeated Israeli government petitons to the Holy See on the subject, and requesting that with the new pontificate the Holy See change its attitude.”
In response, and noting John Paul‘s numerous condemnations and Israel’s violations of world law in their responses, the Vatican said that, "Just as the Israeli government understandably does not allow its pronouncements to be dictated by others, neither can the Holy See accept lessons and directives from any other authority concerning the orientation and contents of its own declarations."
The Holy See Press Office included with the statement a document which lists many of the statements made by John Paul II between 1979 and February 2005, a month and a half before his death, in which he condemned violence against the civilian population and affirmed the right of the State of Israel to live in security and peace.
In conclusion, the Vatican document states that, "It is sad and surprising that it has gone unobserved how, for the past 26 years, Pope John Paul II's voice has been so often raised with force and passion in the dramatic situation in the Holy Land, condemning all terrorist acts and calling for sentiments of humanity and peace.”
“Affirmations that run counter to historical truth can advantage only those who seek to foment animosity and conflict,” it read, “and certainly do not serve to improve the situation."
Vatican City, Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - According to Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Pope Benedict’s new book could be finished before the end of the summer.
The Pope, who began the book three years ago, has reportedly been working on it every day of his summer vacation in the Valle d’Aosta region of northern Italy. Yesterday, he left there to spend the remainder of the summer at the papal summer residence of Castalgandolfo, south of Rome.
Navarro-Valls noted that the spirituality of Saint Benedict would be one of possibly several themes of the Holy Father’s new book.
Washington D.C., Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - The current U.S. immigration system is “morally unacceptable,” said Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino.
The chairman of the Migration Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) made this comment when he outlined the USCCB’s recommendations for immigration reform in a testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“The Catholic Church holds a strong interest in the welfare of immigrants and how our nation welcomes newcomers from all lands,” said Bishop Barnes. “The current immigration system, which can lead to family separation, suffering, and even death, is morally unacceptable and must be reformed.”
Citing a long history of Catholic social teaching on migration, including a historic joint pastoral letter by the bishops of the United States and Mexico in 2003, Bishop Barnes noted that the Church’s interest in migrants “stems from the belief that every person is created in God’s image.”
Bishop Barnes detailed the USCCB’s policy recommendations in six broad categories, which address the economic root causes of migration; legalization of the undocumented; employment-based immigration; family-based immigration; due process; and enforcement.
In addressing the economic root causes of migration, the bishop recommended that Congress examine NAFTA’s impact on low-skilled Mexican workers and to consider ways to mitigate the negative impacts which lead to migration and consider an economic package which targets sectors of the Mexican economy.
The system should allow undocumented immigrants in the U.S. the opportunity to obtain permanent residency,” either because of contributions already made or through a prospective work requirement,” Bishop Barnes said. This would keep families together, improve wages and working conditions for all workers, and promote development and stability in Mexico and Central America.
The bishop also said the statutory limits on family immigration, enacted in 1990, are now inadequate and can lead to waits of more than eight years for spouses to reunited or parents to reunite with minor children. Adult siblings can wait up to 20 years or longer.
“Such lengthy waiting times are unacceptable and can actually provide unintentional incentive for some migrants to come to the United States illegally,” Bishop Barnes said.
While reaffirming the Catholic Church’s recognition of nations’ rights to protect their borders, Bishop Barnes also said the human dignity of the individual must be protected in any law enforcement action. “We have grown increasingly concerned that the U.S. immigration enforcement regime violates basic human dignity and has placed the lives of migrants at risk,” he said.
Bishop Barnes again endorsed the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act (AgJobs) and the Development, Relief, and Education Act for Alien Minors Act (DREAM) and urged their inclusion in any comprehensive reform package.
“We are hopeful that, as our public officials debate this issue, immigrants, regardless of their legal status, are not blamed for the social and economic challenges we face as a nation,” Bishop Barnes said. “Rhetoric which attacks the human dignity of the migrant does not serve the interest of fair deliberation and leads to polarization and division.”
, Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - A Democratic senator said yesterday he would subject Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts to a Roe litmus test. On a Vermont radio program yesterday, Senator Patrick Leahy became the first Democrat to say outright that he would have a Roe litmus test for Roberts.
"It is more than a little troubling that the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee wants to ensure that a Supreme Court nominee swears allegiance to a decision that has been criticized repeatedly by people on both side of the abortion issue as having no grounding in the Constitution,” said Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
“I hope that he is the only Senator who thinks that seven Supreme Court Justices have the right to unilaterally amend the Constitution and that there is nothing subsequent Courts can do to restore the Constitution," he said.
Fr. Pavone said the senator's comments show “a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the Constitution and a Supreme Court Justice.
"What Senator Leahy said in effect is that Supreme Court precedent has become part of the Constitution,” Fr. Pavone commented. “While precedent certainly has an important role, Supreme Court Justices must be able to restore the Constitution when they find that a previous decision has ignored its text and intent.”
Fr. Pavone said he would like the senator to indicate whether he is suggesting that in the wake of Dred Scott he would have opposed nominees who thought that it was wrongly decided, or if he is simply trying to appease radical special interest groups.
Priests for Life will conduct a special effort in the next two months on the Roe vs. Wade decision to educate the public that this decision legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. "No poll has ever shown the American public supporting such an extreme policy," Fr. Pavone stated.
Denver, Colo., Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Denver is being proactive in dealing with cases of sexual abuse by clergy. On Tuesday, Archbishop Charles Chaput faxed letters to 11 parishes across Colorado, where a priest accused of abuse formerly had served from 1960 to 1993, reported the Denver Post.
In his fax, the archbishop made a general appeal, asking parishioners to come forward "if you or anyone you know has information regarding the sexual abuse of a minor."
Brandon Trask, 49, notified the archdiocese this year that Harold Robert White, former pastor of St. Patrick's Church in Minturn, had molested him in the early 1970s.
The 72-year-old White, who lives in a Denver retirement community, has said he does not remember Trask or the alleged abuse. White has been out of active ministry since 1993 and was laicized by the Vatican last year.
According to the Pose, the archbishop issued a second statement to all Denver parishes more recently, detailing the steps the local Church has taken to protect children. He said the Catholic Church "cannot control events of the past," but it promptly and seriously responds to every allegation — even those decades old—and reports all claims of sexual abuse against minors to law enforcement.
"We do not have, and will not tolerate, any priest in active ministry in the Archdiocese of Denver who has a credible claim of child sexual misconduct against him," Chaput wrote. "We will respond to anyone else who makes an allegation — as well as anyone who is accused—with a spirit of justice, prudence and healing."
Xi'an, China, Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - Chinese government representatives joined 2,000 Catholics and 100 priests for the episcopal ordination of Bishop Anthony Dang Mingyan July 26 in the Archdiocese of Xi’an.
Bishop Dang’s nomination was the second approved by both the Vatican and the Chinese government in the last three months, reported AsiaNews.
AsiaNews/Ucan reported that the 38-year-old bishop will serve as an auxiliary to Archbishop Anthony Li Duan, known for his faith and great love for the Pope. The archbishop presided at the celebration at St. Francis Cathedral in the capital city.
Unlike last month’s ordination in Shanghai, no priests or guests from outside China were present. However, two officials from the State Administration of Religious Affairs, as well as two officials of the Beijing-based bishop’s council and of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association attended.
Many believe Bishop Dang will be the successor to Archbishop Li, who was diagnosed with cancer last year and has been in and out of hospital for treatment since then.
Bishop Dang was born to a Catholic family in 1967, the eighth of nine children. He entered Xi'an Seminary in 1985 and then studied at Sheshan Seminary (Shanghai). He was ordained a priest in 1991 and served as pastor of Saint Anthony’s Church, since it was established in 2003. He also served as director of the diocesan financial commission.
The new bishop reportedly said one of his main tasks will be to motivate priests and laypeople to evangelize.
Archbishop Li, 78, is known as a defender of Church freedom. For this reason, he often undergoes checks and long periods of close surveillance.
The vice president of the Bishops' Council of the Catholic Church in China was once rumored to be the “cardinal in pectore,” never revealed by John Paul II. But Archbishop Li stated publicly that he “never received any such official notice.”
Archbishop Li opened a formation center for women religious in Xi’an’s regional seminary in 1997. He also opened the country’s first Church-run social service center in 2002.
The Archdiocese of Xi’an was established in 1946 and includes more than 20,000 Catholics.
, Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - Three groups of over 40 college students are walking their way across the United States sharing their unmistakable message--all human life is sacred and should be protected.
The students, from around the country and donning t-shirts emblazoned with the huge words: Pro Life, are set to begin the final leg of their cross-country journey which will take them into the nations capital.
Beginning from three different points--Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles--the students have hit the country on foot, speaking to churches and youth groups while traveling through a combined 31 states totaling some 9500 miles.
From Washington, the students will travel to Cologne, Germany to participate in this year’s World Youth Day celebration.
Crossroads, a Maryland-based group, has been leading the walks across the U.S. for the past 11 years in response to Pope John Paul II’s call to build a culture of life. Along the way, the groups speak with different parish groups to encourage pro-life work, and often pray in front of local abortion clinics.
Matthew Maes, of Atlanta, who is helping to lead the Seattle to DC group said that, "We are not trying to force our values down anyone's throat, it's quite the contrary, we have a very simple message about the sanctity of all human life. We have listened patiently to the other side. Now it is our turn to be heard."
“Life issues”, he added, “are considered by many to be taboo, but we have found that most people, at the very least, respect the moral courage it takes to stand up for what you believe in rather than the indifference that tends to plague society today,"
Crossroads’ national office boasted that its participants were “spirited, eloquent, dynamic, and committed to their message of upholding the sanctity and dignity of all human life, presenting a strong contrast to the apathy of many in their generation and a culture that often disregards the value of life.”
It is estimated that the walker’s message will be heard by some 250,000 people in church talks alone this summer.
More information on Crossroads and an on-line journal from the participants can be found at: www.crossroadswalk.org
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - The ministry coordinator of the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Msgr. Pedro Agustin Rivera Diaz, announced this week that a new program to reach out to women who are contemplating abortion is now in its first month of operation at the Marian shrine.
Msgr. Rivera said the pro-life ministry aims to help convince pregnant women who are socially pressured to get an abortion or who have been abandoned by the father, to carry their children to term and request assistance from private institutions to keep them or to give them up in adoption.
Speaking to local reporters, Msgr. Rivera said every third Saturday of the month, more than 200 women attend talks given by the Institute for the Rehabilitation of Women and the Family.
“They are not all women who are contemplating abortion; some have already had one and others are interested in the Church’s ministries,” he explained, adding that during the meetings, respect for oneself is emphasized, and women are informed about how the use of condoms fosters promiscuity.
“Obviously behind all the pills and condoms is a vast economic empire that is never seen. The struggle, therefore, is not only about human life,” he added.
Msgr. Rivera also noted that the Basilica offers programs for drug addicts and alcoholics, as well as a ministry for homosexuals based on the Courage program.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - According to data released by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, more than one million people have visited the Holy Land so far this year, resulting in a 93% increase over visits during 2004.
The report indicates the cities of Jerusalem, Tiberius, Nazareth, Haifa, and St. John of Acre as those most visited by the more than 11,000 Spanish pilgrims who travel to the country each year.
Among the holy places most visited include the Via Dolorosa, the Holy Sepulcher, the Mount of Olives, the Basilica of the Annunciation, the Mount of Beatitudes and the Sea of Galilee.
On various occasions, the Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabba, has encouraged bishops around the world to invite the faithful to visit the Holy Land and thus help the Christian community in the region, which is economically sustained by religious tourism.
Last October, in response to Patriarch’s invitation, the Bishops’ Conference of Spain organized a large pilgrimage, which resulted in a significant impulse for tourism in the Holy Land.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - In remarks opening the Guadalupan Congress at the parish of Santa Maria of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera noted “a crisis of Mariology” in today’s world and said the Virgin Mary is key to resolving many problems in society and in the Church.
“Through Mary many of today’s problems can be addressed, especially those affecting the Church. For example, the question of priests getting married, the trivialization of sexuality, an ecology that encourages us to protect turtle eggs and whales but rationalizes the killing of human beings,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Rivera recalled the words of former Cardinal Ratzinger, who once said that both “an exaggerated feminism that has crept into all of the convents” and a “future without a ministerial priesthood, without the consecrated life” could undoubtedly be resolved by an greater understanding of Mary and “the theological place God has given her in the history of salvation.”
He said that Mary could help to resolve many of Mexico’s problems as well.
Among those present at the Guadalupan Congress was Father Fidel Gonzalez Fernandez, consulter of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, who has participated in more than 150 canonization causes, including that of St. Juan Diego.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 29, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Juan Carlos Maccarone of Santiago del Estero, Argentina, warned the faithful this week against religious syncretism, which mixes “truth and lies” and incorporates certain aspects of the Christian faith in an attempt to recruit new followers.
The bishop exhorted believers to be more “missionary” and to “proclaim the Lord to all, especially to those whose life and faith are threatened by the temptation of esoteric rites of Afro-American origin...and by pseudo-philosophies or religions such as the New Age, which attempt to respond to the sometimes desperate search to suppress anguish and suffering.”
“We must take this very seriously,” Bishop Maccarone said, adding that Catholics who are confused by such movements must be reminded of their Baptism and that it signifies the beginning of a new life in Christ. “These brothers and sisters need to re-encounter Christ, His person and His action, and rediscover the contagious joy of being Christians.