Archive of October 17, 2005

Pope Benedict unites himself to moving Eucharistic Adoration

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - The fathers meditated together in the evening in Saint Peters Basilica to realize the most emblematic event of the Synod of Bishops: the eucharistic adoration, in which Pope Benedict was present.

Gathered before the altar of Confession in the Vatican Basilica, the more than 250 participants of the Synod, that will end next Saturday, participated in the exposition, adoration and blessing of the Blessed Sacrament.

Members of the Roman Curie and hundreds of faithful of the Roman Diocese were present as well in the emotive event in which songs, solemn canticles, biblical reflections and extended moments of silence alternated.

According to the Holy See press office , “ with the eucharistic adoration on the day in which our liturgy remembers Saint Ignatius of Antioch, witness of the first Christians, Bishops and the faithful confess that the eucharistic mystery is present in the flesh of Christ our Savior.”

The act was presided by Cardinal Francis Arinze, Delegated President of the 11th Ordinary Assembly General of the Synod of Bishops.

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John Paul made Pope world representative of Christianity, Benedict tells Polish TV

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking in the first television interview of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI praised his successor, John Paul II, saying that the Polish-born pontiff broke new ground for the Church in the world, and for the office of the Pope itself.

The Holy Father spoke with Fr. Andrzej Majewski, head of Catholic programming at Polish State Television (TVP) on the occasion of the ‘Pope’s Day’--the 27th anniversary of John Paul’s election.

The interview was recorded at the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo and broadcast in Poland on Sunday October 16. An Italian version has also been made available on the Vatican radio internet site.

Pope Benedict said that John Paul II was especially significant “from two perspectives: one 'ad extra' - toward the world - and the other 'ad intra' - toward the Church.”

“With regard to the world,” he said, “it seems to me that through his speeches, his person, his presence, his capacity to convince, the Holy Father created a new sensitivity for moral values, for the importance of religion in the world.”

He also said that through John Paul, “the importance of the Bishop of Rome has increased immensely. Despite the differences and despite their non-recognition of the Successor of Peter, all Christians have recognized that he is the spokesman of Christianity. No one else in the world, on an international level can speak in the name of Christianity like this and give voice and strength to the Christian reality in the world today.”

“He managed”, Benedict also noted, “to create a climate of dialogue among the great religions…” and “also stressed that violence and religion are incompatible.”

He said that “we must search for the path to peace together, taking common responsibility for humanity.”

Likewise, Benedict said that for the Church, the late pontiff “knew how to infuse enthusiasm for Christ in young people. This is something new, if we think of the youth of late sixties and seventies. That youth has become enthusiastic for Christ and for the Church and for difficult values.”

“It was his personality and charisma that helped mobilize the youth of the world for the cause of God and for the love of Christ.”

He added that John Paul “created a new love for the Eucharist…He created a new awareness of the greatness of Divine Mercy; and he deepened devotion to Our Lady. In this way he guided us toward an internalizing of the faith and, at the same time, toward a greater efficiency.”

Pope Benedict recalled his close friendship with the late Pope and noted his profound influence--through writings, meetings and conversations--on his own papacy.

“A man who goes to the Lord doesn't disappear,” Benedict said. “I believe that someone who goes to the Lord comes even closer to us and I feel he is close to me and that I am close to the Lord. I am near the Pope and now he helps me to be near the Lord and I try to enter this atmosphere of prayer, of love for our Lord, for Our Lady and I entrust myself to his prayers.”

Pope Benedict made a vivid recollection of the final days of Pope John Paul II, recalling:

“he was visibly in great pain, and was surrounded by doctors and friends. He was still very lucid and he gave me his blessing. He could not talk much. The patience he showed at this time of suffering was a great lesson for me: to see how he believed he was in the hands of God and how he abandoned himself to the will of God. Despite his visible pain, he was serene, because he was in the hands of Divine Love.”

The Holy Father closed the historic interview by saying that “if God allows it”, he could make a trip to Poland in the near future.

 To see full text of the interview :

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Rosary, evangelization, became symbols of John Paul II’s pontificate, says Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - On the day that would have been his 27th anniversary of being elected Pope, Benedict XVI honored the memory of his successor, John Paul II during yesterday’s Angelus prayer, recalling his influence to both Christians and non-Christians.

"On a day like today, 27 years ago," the Pope told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter‘s Square, "the Lord called Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow, to succeed John Paul I, who died just over a month after being elected."

Benedict recalled that, "John Paul II, 'who came from a far country,' was recognized as a moral authority even by many non-Christians and non-believers, as was clear from the many moving expressions of affection on the occasion of his illness and of profound condolence after his death.”

“At his tomb in the Vatican Grottoes,” the Pope said, “the pilgrimage of the faithful continues uninterrupted, and this too constitutes an eloquent sign of how much the beloved John Paul II entered into people's hearts."

He continued, saying that, "We could define John Paul II as a Pope completely consecrated to Christ through Mary, as was clear from his motto, 'Totus tuus.'“

“He was elected in the heart of the month of the Rosary and the Rosary he often held in his hands became one of the symbols of his pontificate."

Speaking on the nature and beauty of the Rosary itself, the Holy Father explained that, "The Rosary does not run counter to meditation on the Word of God and to liturgical prayer, rather it represents their natural and ideal complement, especially as a form of preparation and thanksgiving for Eucharistic celebration.”

“Christ, encountered in the Gospel and the Sacrament, is also contemplated with Mary in the various monuments of His life, thanks to the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries."

"Contemplative and missionary”, the Pope said; “this was the beloved John Paul II. He achieved this thanks to his intimate bond with God, daily nourished by the Eucharist and by prolonged periods of prayer.”

"At the moment of the Angelus, which was so dear to him," the Holy Father concluded, "it is a pleasure and a duty to remember him on this anniversary, renewing our thanks to God for having given the Church and the world such a worthy successor of the Apostle Peter. May the Virgin help us treasure his precious heritage."

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Pope Benedict to children: gift of Eucharist is worth more than all the rest of life

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - Touching on key catechetical points like the true nature of the Eucharist and the need for frequent confession, Pope Benedict showed his fatherly side as he spoke to children Saturday about always keeping Jesus as the center of their lives.

Some 100,000 children who received their first Communion this year, accompanied by family and catechists, gathered in St. Peter’s Square to take part in a meeting of prayer and catechesis with the Holy Father entitled: “The bread of heaven.”

Speaking off-the-cuff, the Pope replied to questions of some of the children sitting nearby.

Responding to one question, the Pope recalled the day of his own First Communion: "It was a Sunday in March 1936, 69 years ago," he said, "the sun was shining, the church was beautiful, and there was music playing. ... But my most precious memory is that of having understood that Jesus had entered my heart, He visited me, and with Jesus, God Himself was with me.”

“This is a gift of love that is truly worth more than all the rest of life,” he said. “That day I made the promise: 'Lord, I always want to be with You, but above all I want You to be with me."

One girl asked the Pope why she must go to confession before receiving Communion, if our sins are always the same.

Smiling, the Holy Father answered: "It is true that our sins are always the same. Yet do we not clean our house, our room, at least once a week, though the dirt is always the same? If we do not, we run the risk of the dirt accumulating, though we may not see it.”

“The same”, he said, “is true of our souls. If we never confess, our souls are overlooked. I may be pleased with myself, yet I do not understand that I have to improve constantly in order to progress. Confession helps us to have a more open conscience and thus to mature in a spiritual and human way."

Answering another question about Jesus' invisible presence in the Eucharist, the Pope said: "We cannot see Him, yet there are many things we cannot see but that exist and are essential. For example, we cannot see our own reason and intelligence ... yet they exist for we can speak and think.”

“We cannot see electricity,” he said, “but we feel its effects, such as light. We cannot see the most profound things, but we can see and feel their effects."

To a little girl who asked him what to do if her parents did not go to Sunday Mass, Benedict suggested that she speak with them "with great love and respect" saying, "dear mummy, dear daddy, did you know there is something very important for us all, for you too? Meeting Jesus."

The meeting concluded with adoration and solemn Benediction, at which, many of the prelates from the General Synod of Bishops, currently meeting in Rome, were in attendance.

The Pope explained to the children that to adore "is to recognize that Jesus is the Lord, the center of our lives. To pray is to say: Jesus, I am Yours, I never want to lose this friendship, this communion with You. ... The absence of God, is a harmful deficiency, He is the light and the guide of our lives, of which we have need."

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Poverty must be fought without cease, says Pope

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - After praying the weekly Angelus prayer yesterday, at which he recalled the memory and papal anniversary of his successor John Paul II, Pope Benedict challenged the world to fight with greater energy and solidarity against the scourge of poverty “so that no one”, he said, “is excluded from society.

The Pope’s remarks came on the eve of the World Day for the Eradication of Poverty, established by Fr. Joseph Wresinski, founder of the movement "ATD, Aide a Toute Détresse - Quart Monde", and being celebrated today.

"Poverty”, the Pope said, “is a plague against which humanity must fight without cease…We are called to ever greater solidarity to ensure that no one remains excluded from society."

Pope Benedict assured listeners that his prayers were with "the poor who fight courageously to live with dignity, caring for their families and the needs of their fellows."

He also greeted "everyone who puts themselves at the service of people in need."

Likewise, he called on the leaders of the international community "to hear the cry of the poor and intensify their activities in the fight against poverty."

On Saturday, the Holy See released a message sent by Pope Benedict to Jacques Diouf, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for the annual World Food Day, in which he said that “hunger and malnutrition are, unfortunately, one of most serious problems still affecting the life of the human family.”

The Pope cited rigid economic structures, “too often concerned only with profit, practices hostile to human life, and…ideological systems that reduce people to the level of mere instruments,” as causes of hunger, and ways in which people are deprived “of their fundamental dignity."

He called for greater inter-cultural dialogue and greater world vigilance to solve the problem and to allow for the least in society to receive food and care.

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Celibacy not the problem, say bishops, lifelong commitment is

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - On Friday, prelates in Rome for the Synod of Bishops continued to meet in working groups arranged by spoken language. Primary among their concerns was the shortage of priests in many regions, a problem which some said, is not the result of celibacy, but of a cultural failure to make lifelong commitments--both to the priesthood and to marriage.

Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh, PA spoke on behalf of one of the English language groups, saying that, "among the issues at hand in celebrating the Eucharist today, “first and most significant is the fact that the Eucharist is essential to the Church.”

He added however, that “we must also take into account the seriousness of the shortage of priests in so many parts of the world”, and “also recognize the place of married clergy in the Eastern Churches.”

“Our discussion”, he said, “highlighted that celibacy is not the principal and certainly not the sole reason for this shortage. In fact the culture of today is in crisis in a number of other areas including the nature, duration and vitality of marriage.”

He pointed specifically to “the lack of lifelong commitment”, which “seems to be a fundamental ‘leitmotif'’ throughout our reflections on much of modem life.”

“In looking at the situation”, Bishop Wuerl said that his group came to some “observations on how to deal with it.”

“A number of reflections surfaced,” he said. “First was the obvious need to encourage vocations to priestly ministry. ... Local churches should be open to sharing priests.”

The group also concluded “that programs for priests, deacons and the laity on good liturgy are not only helpful but necessary. The involvement of well-prepared laity and parish liturgical formation programs was encouraged."

Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo P.S.S., of Medellin, Colombia, speaking for one of the Spanish language groups said that, “all bishops should give great importance to the formation of seminarians, accompanying them and their teachers.”

He said that, “Special care and attention has to be given to the selection and formation of candidates to live the charism of celibacy.”

Likewise, Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Alexandria-Cornwall in Canada said that the French language group was “unanimous in stating the invaluable worth of priestly celibacy for the Latin Church and wishes to engage the Church in more energetic and positive vocational pastoral care, one open to the gifts of God.”

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Bishop’s Synod continues focus on liturgy, proper access to the Eucharist

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - As 233 Synod Bishops, currently gathered in Rome, continued to meet in smaller working groups Friday, issues of liturgy and Eucharistic awareness dominated discussions.

Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo P.S.S., of Medellin, Colombia, who represented many of the Spanish speaking bishops said that his working group drew up a number of proposals which would encourage greater awareness of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

First, he said, “all bishops should give great importance to the formation of seminarians, accompanying them and their teachers. Special care and attention has to be given to the selection and formation of candidates to live the charism of celibacy.”

The group added that “well-structured vocational pastoral care should be organized in the diocese, based on prayer for vocations and with the support of families, priests and seminarians.”

Likewise, he said that “Dignified celebrations should be guaranteed in the cathedral, the parishes and the various churches of the diocese. The faithful should also be given the opportunity of being able to visit the Holy Sacrament at any time of day.”

As many have stressed throughout the Synod, the archbishop said that “there should be renewed pastoral care of the Sacrament of Penance,” and called on the group to “succeed in finding suitable catechistic ways for priests and faithful to understand the presence of Mary in every Eucharistic celebration.”

“Let us succeed”, he added, “in understanding that, although the Eucharist is a gift, it is our pastoral duty to bring people close to this Sacrament, Helping them to receive the Lord Jesus in the Sacrament."

Specifically, he said that “Special attention should be paid to the sick so as to ensure they receive the Eucharist, and “special attention should be given to people who have formed their families on the basis of the Sacrament of Matrimony.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Ireland, speaking about the 'ars celebrandi', said that his group “stressed that what is involved is not some type of choreography of the liturgical rite but a way of entering into the mystery of the Eucharist and a longing to enter into communion with God, through the Paschal mystery.”

His group also suggested “that a listing of thematic homilies be prepared to cover the basic mysteries of Salvation with appropriate references to the Lectionary, the Fathers of the Church and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

Likewise, Archbishop Martin suggested that a 'Eucharistic Companion' for lay people “be drawn up with doctrinal, catechetical and devotional contents for the benefits of the faithful.”

His group, one of the English speaking ones, also “stressed the bonds between the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, especially as many people have lost the sense of sin.”

Noting that “Christians in Western civilization are affected by the secularization of conscience”, which “can lead to rendering real Christian truths banal, and to the profanation of liturgy and ways of life”,  Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany said that Jesus Christ is the “true light, that enlightens every man.'

“The lack of understanding of the liturgy and its practice”, he concluded, “can only be overcome by a positive orientation towards Jesus Christ.”

No General Congregations will meet today, but the relator general, secretary general and the relators of the Working Groups will continue work on the unification of the propositions.

A time of adoration with Pope Benedict will be held at 5 pm today, to which all Synod participants are invited.

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Catholic Charities opposes cuts to social services to favor hurricane recovery

Alexandria, Va., Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic Charities USA is strongly urging members of Congress not to cut crucial social service and anti-poverty programs in order to finance hurricane recovery.

Recent budget proposals have Congress considering even deeper cuts to the fiscal 2006 budget, especially to programs that serve the nation's poor and most vulnerable.

"We agree that it is of the utmost importance that Congress continue to focus relief on the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost their homes, livelihoods, and communities," Catholic Charities president Fr. Larry Snyder wrote in a letter to members of Congress. But he added that it shouldn’t be at the expense of the poor and most vulnerable, he said.

Catholic Charities agencies throughout the United States are addressing the needs for housing, food and childcare for the country’s poor, as well as providing assistance to hurricane survivors and evacuees.

Fr. Snyder recommended that, in debating final changes to the 2006 fiscal budget, Congress oppose mandatory spending reductions to Medicaid, which provides essential health coverage to more than 50 million low-income children, working families, seniors, and people with disabilities. The program has already experienced cuts in nearly every state over the past few years, and federal funding reductions would force states into further eligibility cuts, thereby adding thousands of people to the ranks of the uninsured, Fr. Snyder pointed out.

Catholic Charities also recommended opposing substantial cuts in a number of anti-poverty programs, including the Food Stamp Program, Supplemental Security Income, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Social Services Block Grant, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

“With poverty growing and many states' revenues dropping, this is not the time for Congress to shift its share of the burden of caring for the poorest Americans to the states,” the Catholic organization noted.

“Adequate funding is needed for programs that provide affordable housing and homeless assistance, child welfare services, childcare assistance, low-income home energy assistance, food assistance, employment and job training services, refugee resettlement and migration assistance, and other programs that serve the poor and vulnerable,” Catholic Charities insisted.

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Vatican to UN: still much to do for advancement of women

, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - Despite some positive advancement in the condition of women, they remain vulnerable to poverty and violence, and much still needs to be done to reverse the feminization of poverty around the world, Archbishop Celestino Migliore told a United Nations committee Oct. 13.

The UN committee was meeting about the implementation of the Fourth World Conference on Women and the special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in the 21st century.”

The archbishop cited recent statistics compiled by the International Labor Organization, which indicate that women represent 60 per cent of the world’s 550 million working poor, in many cases, earning less than one dollar a day. 

“Poverty prevents women from attaining their basic needs such as nutrition, sanitation, basic health care and education, and it continues to deprive societies of the enriching and irreplaceable contribution that can be furnished only by women,” said the Vatican’s permanent observer to the UN.

The archbishop insisted that women must be given access to basic, comprehensive health care and education.

“Illiteracy is another obstacle to development and to the attainment of women’s basic rights,” he said. “Investment in the education of girls is the fundamental key to the advancement of women.”

In order to reverse the feminization of poverty, the archbishop recommended that women be given more access to and control over productive resources and capital. “Several Catholic organizations are engaged in micro-credit programs for women around the world,” he noted. 

He condemned all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, harmful traditional practices, female feticide and infanticide. Such violence, he said, “is a grave violation of the dignity of women and their human rights.” 

“Often, violence against women results from the consideration of a woman, not as a human person with rights on an equal basis with others, but as an object to be exploited,” he said.  In this context, the “scourges” of prostitution and trafficking of women and girls increase, he said.

The Vatican, he said, seeks to collaborate with those who will create social policies aimed at eliminating these causes of violence against women.

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Laws must ensure broadcasters serve public interest, says US bishop

Washington D.C., Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - Broadcasters should be accountable to the public and allow local and religious programming in exchange for their free use of “tens of billions of dollars worth” of publicly owned airwaves, said the U.S. bishops in an Oct. 14 letter to a Congress committee.

The bishops have recommended that public interest obligations for broadcasters must be included in several bills that are scheduled for debate Oct. 19 and that would update the country’s communications laws.

“Today, even as the broadcasting industry continues to benefit from its subsidized use of the public airwaves, broadcasters’ observance of meaningful public interest obligations has declined,” wrote Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Communications Committee, in a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK).

“We ask that, in exchange for the use of tens of billions of dollars worth of new spectrum rights, broadcasters be required to put forth a substantial effort to provide programming that better serves the public,” he wrote.

According to current law, broadcasters are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to use the airwaves for free in nominal exchange for serving the “public interest, convenience, and necessity.”

A defined set of “public interest obligations” were rigorously enforced by the FCC in the past but since the early 1980s, the bishops observed, Congress and the FCC have pursued a much more deregulatory approach.

“The rapidly growing consolidation of the media industry has allowed companies to ignore their obligations to serve the public interest,” Bishop Kicanas said. “As a result, there are fewer broadcast stations that are willing to provide local and religious programming.”

The USCCB has collected anecdotes from “a significant number” of dioceses, which have found it increasingly difficult to place their programming on local stations, the bishop noted.

“The bishops are concerned that local broadcasters’ programming decisions regarding religious and educational programming are more deeply rooted in their desire for commercial gain, rather than in serving their communities’ interests,” Bishop Kicanas said. “I respectfully urge you to reconfirm broadcasters’ obligation to serve their local communities of license with programming that responds to the religious needs and interests of the local community.”

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Cardinal McCarrick meets with Chinese leaders in Beijing

Beijing, China, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - In a remarkable gesture toward cooperation and improved relations, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries invited Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C., for a visit in the Chinese capital.

During his nearly weeklong stay, the cardinal met Wednesday with Fu Tieshan, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, and Friday with China’s top adviser Jia Qinglin.

During the cardinal’s meeting with Fu, the two men exchanged views on improving relations between the churches of the two countries, reported Xinhua.

Fu is also chairman of the Catholic Patriotic Association of China and acting chairman of the Chinese bishops conference. 

Jia, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told the cardinal that China is ready to promote cooperation and to increase dialogue with the United States to advance China-U.S. relations, reported Xinhua.

The news agency also reported Jia saying that China-U.S. exchanges in matters of religion have strengthened mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples and churches.

He also expressed condolences to the people in hurricane-stricken areas in the U.S.

Cardinal McCarrick, in turn, reportedly spoke highly of China's economic growth and social progress, noting that the people’s living standards have been remarkably improved as a result. He also congratulated China for launching its manned spacecraft, Shenzhou-6.

The meeting with the cardinal follows on the heels of a meeting in New York last month between Chinese President Hu Jintao and President George W. Bush. The two leaders had agreed to jointly promote the China-U.S. relations in the new century.

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Holy See reaffirms desire for dialogue with Muslims

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - As the Muslim holy period of Ramada came to close, the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald reaffirmed the Church’s desire to enter into deeper dialogue with Muslims and he said he hoped that together with Christians they could live “in sincere brotherhood.”

“Let us show that as Christians and Muslims we can live together in sincere brotherhood, always striving to fulfill the will of the Merciful God, who has created humanity to be one family,” said Archbishop Fitzgerald in the traditional message to Muslims at the conclusion of Ramadan.

In his message, the archbishop expressed his “best wishes for a joyous festivity” to the Muslim world.   After emphasizing the commitment and relevance of Pope John Paul II in the dialogue with Muslims—which was evident in the homage many Muslim leaders paid him during the Pope’s funeral in April of 2005—Archbishop Fitzgerald made mention of the greeting Pope Benedict XVI extended to Muslims at the beginning of his pontificate.

“I am grateful in particular for the presence among us of the members of the Muslim community, and I express my appreciation for the progress in the dialogue between Muslims and Christians, both at the local and the international level.  I assure you that the Church desires to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religious, in order to seek the true good of each person and of the whole of society,” the Pope said on that occasion.

It has become tradition that the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue sends a message to Muslims at the conclusion of Ramadan.  Although it is generally the President of that dicastery who signs the message, during the First Gulf War in 1991, the message was signed by Pope John Paul II.  On that occasion, he affirmed the need for “a sincere, profound and constant dialogue between believing Catholics and believing Muslims, from which could arise a greater knowledge and reciprocal trust.”

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Congress on laity calls for building up of common good in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - Participants in the Congress on Laity 2005-2010, which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, announced their commitment to launch a new cultural impulse in the country, based on mutual respect and the common good.

In a statement issued by the Department on the Laity of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina, the participants exhorted their fellow Argentineans to be part of the transformation of the country into a new nation centered on the recovery of the sense of the common good, so that the scandals of exclusion, hunger and corruption could be ended.

“We are aware that in the past we have not met our responsibilities; therefore, we renew the call for forgiveness issued by the Church in Cordoba in 2000. Experience commits us to reaching out and opening the ears of so many who did not feel called, they added.

Lastly, the participants of the Congress invited their fellow Argentineans to see the country’s upcoming bicentennial as a starting point down a more inclusive and participative path illuminated by the Social Teachings of the Church.

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Mexican bishops to launch news agency to combat media bias

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Mexican daily La Jornada reported this week that the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico will soon launch a news agency that will publish the statements by all the country’s bishops in order to prevent them from being manipulated by the mainstream media.

According to the newspaper, the Bishops’ Conference “seeks to open media offices in the 15 different pastoral regions in the country, in order to promote a Catholic multimedia center that will handle information on all issues—political, religious, human rights, among others—with the purpose of avoiding ‘the manipulation and the hammering’ the Catholic bishops receive because of their actions and statements.”

Father Julio Cesar Trujillo, spokesman of the Diocese of Orizaba in Veracruz, told La Jornada that the initiative to create a news agency is still just a proposal but various dioceses already have developed web pages that report on their pastoral activities.  According to Father Trujillo, the reason for establishing the 15 different media offices is “to have on hand accurate and fresh information about the Church’s activities.”

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Philippines using UN funds to promote Natural Family Planning

Manila, Philippines, Oct 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Fides news agency is reporting that the President of the Philippines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has announced to the UN General Assembly that her government will use the money it receives from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to promote natural family planning methods.

The decision, which Arroyo previously announced during a meeting on inter-religious dialogue, contrasts with the great majority of other countries, which use the UNFPA funds to promote contraception and abortion.

The announcement was met with an enthusiastic response in the country.  The Archbishop of Cebu, Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, praised the decision and said President Arroyo was courageous for adopting the new demographic policy, and he called on supporters of artificial methods of birth control to put a hold on their legislative countermeasures until the success of the natural family planning could be evaluated.  Likewise, the cardinal called for a “multiparty moratorium on all legislative action in order to give more time and consideration to the new policy, which is genuinely inspired by a desire to protect women, families and the Filipino society.”

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