Vatican City, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - Following his weekly catechesis yesterday, Pope Benedict greeted representatives from the Italian National Association of Large Families, to whom, he stressed the importance of children for society’s future, and praised them for their courage and faith.
"Your presence," he told the representatives, "gives me the opportunity to recall the central importance of the family, fundamental cell of society and principal place for welcoming and serving life.”
“In the modern social context,” he said, “families with many children represent a testimony of faith, courage and optimism, because without children there is no future.”
“It is my hope”, the Holy Father stressed, “that further social and legislative initiatives be promoted to protect and support the largest families, which constitute a source of wealth and hope for the entire country."
Vatican City, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - This morning at the Holy See, a group of Vatican and academic leaders announced an historic congress, to be held later this month, which will seek to discuss and unite commonalities in the fields of science, theology and philosophy.
Plans for the First International Congress of the STOQ Project (Science, Technology and the Ontological Quest) were presented in the Vatican press office this morning by Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Msgr. Gianfranco Basti, director of the STOQ Project, Rodolfo Guzzi of the Italian Space Agency, and Vincenzo Cappelletti, professor of the history of science at Rome's "Roma Tre" university.
The congress will be held at Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University from November 9th through the 11th, on the theme: "Infinity in the Sciences, in Philosophy and in Theology.".
Cardinal Poupard, president of STOQ and whose dicastery gives considerable patronage to the project through the Pontifical Universities in Rome, told journalists that the aim of the initiative is "to create a new climate of dialogue within the Catholic Church between scientific culture, ... and our daily life."
He said that the ultimate goal of the project, "rather than limiting itself to a specialized study of theoretical problems, is to contribute to changing the mentality of believers towards the sciences.”
“At the same time,” he said however, “the project seeks to offer the world of science competent partners with whom to maintain a respectful dialogue on the many questions raised by the development of science today, especially natural science."
For his part, Msgr. Basti announced that the congresses will be held every two years.
"The project”, he said, “aims to promote dialogue between science, philosophy and theology by organizing courses and research activities which, over the first three years, have already involved two Pontifical Universities, the Lateran and the Gregorian, and the Pontifical Athenaeum 'Regina Apostolorum.'“
“Over the next few years,” he continued, “other Pontifical Universities will become involved, in the first place the Salesian and the Holy Cross, as well as ... certain European Universities such as the University of Navarre, Spain, of Lublin, Poland, and of Namur, Belgium."
Professor Guzzi said that "this congress will study the conceptions of infinity that emerge from physics, cosmology and mathematics, seeking to find responses to the questions arising from various scientific theories and from the readings supplied by modern radio telescopes, in order to create as unitary a vision as possible."
Scheduled attendees for the upcoming congress include professors from the Universities of Princeton, Oxford and Indiana, as well as two rabbis, both experts in the conference theme.
Washington D.C., Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - In a statement released this week, Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, condemned “in the strongest possible of terms” Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmandinejad’s recent comments against Israel.
Last week, Ahmadinejad claimed to speak for his entire nation when he commented that Israel should be “wiped off the map.”
Pope Benedict strongly condemned the comments over the weekend, saying that “the Holy See reaffirms the right of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security, each in their own sovereign State.”
Bishop Ricard, who is also head of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, added that, “Such declarations by a head of state undermine the quest for peace and threaten the stability of an already tense region.”
He said: “President Ahmandinejad’s comments fail to recognize that the fates of the peoples of the Middle East are all linked. Leaders of the region should reject violent rhetoric and instead focus constructively on the significant challenges to justice and peace that exist in and between countries throughout the region.”
The Bishop echoed Pope Benedict, saying that, “We support the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security. We also support the right of Palestinians to an independent and viable state.”
“Israelis and Palestinians”, he stressed, “deserve the support and encouragement of their neighbors as they struggle for a just peace.
, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - Peace, security and the creation of two states in the Holy Land are long overdue, said the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations.
At a meeting before the UN’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee, Archbishop Celestino Migliore said his delegation hopes many problems in the region will be resolved by “negotiation and dialogue” and that a lasting solution will include the question of the Holy City of Jerusalem.
“The time is long overdue for fraternal, open dialogue in order to bring about the birth of two states, side by side, mutually respecting each other’s right to exist and prosper,” he said Nov. 1.
A just and lasting peace will be possible if it is negotiated and not imposed by local leadership, he said.
The archbishop commended the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East for its work in the Holy Land and the help it offers all Palestinian refugees, regardless of their religion.
Nevertheless, the archbishop said, three ongoing concerns must be highlighted. They include the continued expressions of violence in the region, the growing discrimination against Palestinian Christians, who make up only two percent of the population, and the security wall, which cuts access to some Palestinians’ lands and water sources, employment, commerce, education, medical care and freedom of worship.
“My delegation freely acknowledges the right of all peoples to live in peace and security; on the other hand, we believe that the Holy Land is in greater need of bridges than of walls,” he said.
The archbishop affirmed that all Palestinians have the right to fair and fair-minded treatment from their peers and recognized authorities. In addition, he said, “religious extremism of any kind, implicated in attacks, abuse and harassment of Christians in the area around Bethlehem recently, is not to be tolerated.”
The archbishop expressed the Holy See’s support for “internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities.”
Bloomfield Hills, Mich, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) -
A nationally respected economist has joined the Catholic Advisory Board of Ave Maria Mutual Funds.
Lawrence Kudlow served as associate director of economics and planning during the Reagan administration and more recently was a member of the Bush-Cheney Transition Advisory Committee. In addition to his nightly show on CNBC, Kudlow & Company, he is a columnist and contributing editor to National Review.
Bowie Kuhn, chairman of the advisory board and former commissioner of Major League Baseball, said Kudlow, who is a convert to Catholicism, will bring a unique perspective to the board.
Other advisory board members include Tom Monaghan, founder and former owner of Domino's Pizza; Michael Novak, author and theologian; Phyllis Schlafly, author and founder of Eagle Forum; and Paul Roney, executive director of the Ave Maria Foundation. Cardinal Adam Maida, archbishop of Detroit, is the board’s ecclesiastic adviser.
The Catholic Advisory Board oversees the criteria by which investments are made. The board regularly reviews the fund’s standards, based on the teachings of the Catholic Church, and decides which types of companies should be screened out of the funds. Companies, for example, that have ties to abortion, pornography or that undermine the sacrament of marriage would be excluded.
The Ave Maria Mutual Funds comprise the largest Catholic mutual fund family in the country. There are currently four Ave Maria Mutual Funds. More than $350 million is invested by more than 10,000 shareholders from across the country.
The funds include the Ave Maria Catholic Values Fund (Ticker: AVEMX) started in 2001; Ave Maria Growth Fund (Ticker: AVEGX) and Ave Maria Bond Fund (Ticker: AVEFX) both started in 2003. The newest fund is the Ave Maria Rising Dividend Fund (Ticker: AVEDX), launched May 1.
For more information, call 1-866-AVE-MARIA or go to avemariafund.com.
, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic League president William Donohue has jumped to the defense of Judge Samuel Alito, the latest nominee to the Supreme Court, after a series of negative comments have been made in reference to his Catholic faith.
On Tuesday, National Public Radio reporter Dahlia Lithwick said she was concerned about a case in 2004 in which Alito allowed “a New Jersey Christian children’s group to proselytize on public school grounds,” and a “Christmas display case that he felt was constitutionally permissible even though there were overt religious symbols.”
“In her mind,” said Donohue, “this ‘clearly’ makes him ‘a fan of allowing greater entanglement between church and state in public plans.’”
But Donohue points out that Lithwick excluded important information in her on-air report.
“What she doesn’t say is that in the former case, Alito said the school district could not engage in ‘viewpoint discrimination’ by treating the free-speech rights of Christian students different from the rights of other students,” Donohue said. “In the latter case, the ‘overt religious symbols’ were deemed acceptable because they were surrounded by secular holiday symbols. In doing so, Alito followed the exact standard that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor developed in 1984.”
Donohue also responded to comments made by Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. Smeal is reportedly warning that if Alito becomes a Supreme Court Justice, “the majority of the court would be Roman Catholic, which would underrepresent other religions, not to mention nonbelievers.”
Donohue downplayed this claim, which has been made by Smeal and others since Alito was nominated.
“Indeed, even if Alito gets on the bench, there will [still] be a greater disproportion of Jewish justices than Catholic justices: Catholics are 25 percent of the population and would constitute 55 percent of the justices … Jews are one percent of the population and already comprise 22 percent of the justices,” he argued.
Donohue also noted Smeal’s anti-Catholic activism. She was once arrested outside the Vatican embassy in Washington while protesting the visit of Pope John Paul II to the U.S. She has also protested outside the Vatican Mission in New York.
Alexandria, Va., Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - In honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, Catholic Charities USA is urging people to open up their homes and hearts to a child, especially to those without a permanent family in the foster care system.
There are currently about 500,000 foster care children in the United States, and 118,000 of them are available for adoption. Since 1987, the number of children in foster care has doubled, and the average time a foster care child waits to be adopted is five years.
These children come from a variety of backgrounds, including African American, Native American, and Latino. Some have physical or mental disabilities; many are older children or adolescents, said Carol Peck, senior program director for family support for Catholic Charities USA.
During National Adoption Month, Catholic Charities USA and its member agencies are educating communities about the issues connected to adoption, including the concerns of those facing crisis pregnancies, the needs of children who await permanent homes, and the needs of families considering adoption.
Local Catholic Charities agencies also help women of all faiths who are dealing with unplanned pregnancies.
"Many of these women may feel frightened and alone,” said Peck. “They have many decisions to make and often think that their choices are limited. Catholic Charities staff … can help them find the answers that are right for them and their children."
Last year, Catholic Charities helped find homes for 4,229 children, including 1,984 children from foster care, 1,529 special needs children, and 797 inter-country adoptions.
For more information, call 1-800-CARE-002.
Vatican City, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has renewed for another five year term Bishop Cipriano Calderon Polo, Vice-president Emeritus of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (CAL), as a member to the Congregation of Bishops.
For a 15 year period (1988-2003), Bishop Calderon was Vice-president of the CAL, an organization which depends on the Congregation of Bishops. During his vice-presidency, the Prefect of the Congregation and the president at the head of the Pontifical Commission, were Cardinals Bernardin Gantin and Giovanni Battista Re.
The Spanish Prelate (Plasencia-1927), has a strong knowledge of the Latin-American reality, and has been a strong spokesman of the Holy See during the Vatican II Council. Pope Paul VI entrusted to him the foundation of the Spanish edition of the Vatican paper L’Osservatore Romano.
This is the third five-year term of Bishop Calderon as member of the Vatican congregation. In the year 2000, Pope John Paul II confirmed him in this charge for a second term. On this same occasion, the pontiff renewed his term as a member of the Pontifical Committee for Eucharistic Congresses.
Madrid, Spain, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - After intense protests in the central Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha, government officials decided to “provisionally suspend” four controversial guides for 11-18 year-old girls because of their content promoting lesbianism, abortion and masturbation.
The COPE radio network—which is owned by the Bishops’ Conference of Spain—denounced the Women’s Institute of Castilla-La Mancha for distributing the “guides for girls” in the region’s schools. The Institute had said the purpose of the guides was to “change thinking and discriminatory behavior in order to achieve a new model of a woman.”
The guides counsel girls to masturbate “certain concrete parts” of the body and promote “self-eroticism,” even to the point of suggesting—with explicit illustrations—that “if you have the chance to find someone you trust to give you massages, relax and let go…it will surely make you feel out of this world.”
In addition to promoting abortion as a solution to unwanted pregnancies, the guides also promote homosexual relations. “And what if you ‘especially’ like girls?: You have surely heard that the normal thing is to like boys, but if you educate yourself well and you think a little bit on your own, you will discover that what is natural is that people show love and express themselves sexually, whether with someone of the opposite or of the same,” the guides indicate.
The civil rights watchdog website HazteOir.org denounced the effort to “usurp from parents the right to educate their children, ignoring the obligation to respect the beliefs and values that parents wish to pass on to their children.”
A statement by the regional government said it would stop distributing the guide to schools in the region "on a provisional basis ... to ensure the adaptation of the text to the pedagogical requirements of the school community of Castilla La Mancha."
HazteOir.org called the temporary suspension insufficient and demanded the resignation of the authors of the guides. The website’s spokesman, Alejandro Campoy, said it would keep up the pressure on school officials to definitively suspend the distribution of the guides, which he called “family-phobic.”
“This is not about revising or changing the content,” Campoy said. “What is at risk here is something much more serious: the invasion by a public authority of an area reserved exclusively to parents, according to article 27 of the Constitution. State-sponsored sex-ed in the schools should be limited to healthy and scientific formation regarding all aspects involved in such an important matter.”
He said to introduce ideologies or morals into the schools without the consent of parents is to impose a sectarian and state-sponsored morality on young people, “in pure Soviet style.”
Bogotá, Colombia, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Orlando Antonio Corrales of Valle del Cauca, Colombia, revealed this week that the Church in Colombia is discreetly and confidentially mediating negotiations with the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) in an effort to reach a humanitarian agreement for the release of hostages.
Without revealing which bishops are involved in the talks, Bishop Corrales stated that the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia is hoping for direct and sincere talks aimed at securing the release of all those who have been kidnapped by rebel groups.
Bishop Corrales also explained that the bishops are only acting as facilitators of the negotiations and that they have no role in the conflict; rather, they have made themselves available in case either parties request their assistance during the process.
Caracas, Venezuela, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to reporters this week after meeting with President Hugo Chavez, the new Archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, Jorge Urosa Sabino, said, “Priests, no matter what their rank, should never be political activists.”
The archbishop said he told his priests in the Archdiocese of Valencia the same thing and that he would continue to do so in his new post.
“We can be sympathetic but we should never be political activists,” he said.
In September of 2003, Archbishop Urosa stated that “bishops and pastoral workers who belong to the Catholic Church are impartial and in no way are they part of the opposition, but they cannot remain indifferent to the problems the nation is dealing with.”
Lastly, Archbishop Urosa called his meeting with Chavez “very frank, courteous and pleasant…We spoke about the Church, the Venezuelan state, the city of Caracas, the possibility of strengthening the social works of the Church.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - The Office of Social Ministries of the Diocese of Mar del Plata is calling on the heads of state that will be gathering for the Summit of the Americas to achieve “concrete and palpable results” that will help alleviate the poverty suffered by millions in Latin America.
“It’s our hope that in these days the desires of those who visit us will be directed at obtaining concrete and palpable results in the improvement of the lives of millions of our brothers and sisters who can’t wait any longer,” the diocese indicated in a letter sent to each one of the participants.
The letter emphasized that “work is a fundamental right and a good of man” that “should be available to all who are capable.” Thus, “full-time employment is a required objective for any economic order that is oriented towards justice and the common good.”
The letter, while pointing out that “providing dignified work is an essential task of businesses and governments,” at the same time emphasized that “work has been made for man and not man for work” and that what is most important is “the salvation of souls.”
The diocesan letter also called for respect for the sovereignty of the nations participating in the meeting as well as the protection of human rights, “especially the right to life from the moment of conception to natural death.”
Lastly, quoting John Paul II, the letter reiterated that “the quality of life in a society is measured by the way in which it treats the unborn, children, the handicapped, the poor and the elderly.”
Vatican City, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier this morning, the Holy Father met with a group of delegates from the Bavarian Parliament and stressed the importance of scientific research and development for mankind. He highlighted however, that it may never come at the expense of human dignity.
Pope Benedict addressed the group, from the Christian-Social Union of the Bavarian Diet (the parliament of Bavaria), in the German language as he praised his own homeland.
Noting the region’s rich history and culture and also pointing out its recent place as an important center for research and technology, the Pope said, "Bavaria unites a heritage of generosity and a rich religious harmony, elements which hold real promise for a future made in man's measure."
He also noted that Bavaria, like many other regions, is facing "the difficult social and economic challenges of our time, ... to which must be added the questions raised by new scientific and technological developments, that confront politicians with an obligation to make the right decisions."
"Scientific advancement," the Pope observed, "can be a blessing for human beings, or their ruin. Politicians, when called to decide on the correct or incorrect use of science, must choose whether to allow themselves to be guided by superficial advantages or by the laws of God.”
“Men and women are responsible”, he said, “for their actions before God, the giver of all life. Those actions must always respect the inviolability of individuals whose lives are sacred at every phase, (especially) when using new scientific discoveries."
The Pope also hit on the area of education, saying that, "in order for the highest attainments of our culture to be respected and promoted in the future, young people must have a solid formation, one based not merely on technocratic or economic suppositions, but on an intellectual heritage that reflects the names of Athens, Jerusalem and Rome.”
“In this context,” he said, “I would like to mention the personal and irreplaceable contribution made to the country's universities by theological faculties, where I too had the honor of teaching, as a professor of dogmatic theology in the University of Regensburg. A time I always recall with happiness."
As he concluded, Benedict fondly recalled his former residence of Munich, "an unforgettable city, the city of which I was bishop, ... the city of the Mariensaule" (the monument to Mary, Patroness of Bavaria).
He particularly expressed his hope that the Virgin Mary would always occupy a central place in the hearts of the Bavarian people.
Rome, Italy, Nov 3, 2005 (CNA) - The document from the Congregation for Catholic Education on the admittance of homosexuals in seminaries will be published this Friday. The Document counts on the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, and reaffirms the Catholic position that homosexuals can not be accepted into seminaries.
The text refering exclusively to the candidates to priesthood, is based upon the Catholic position regarding homosexuality, and is placed in a context in which the issue has been raised acutely. Morevoer, the Church has addressed the issue in numerous occasions.
In the past months, the Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Archbishop Michael Miller, has been visiting the 220 seminaries in the United States, to verify if the preparation of seminarians is conform to a life of celibacy. The archbishop will publish a document related to theses visits.