Archive of January 27, 2006

Proper role, dignity of work, defense of the weak, are prerequisites for true democracy, says Pope

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2006 (CNA) - As the Christian Associations of Italian Workers began its 60th anniversary celebrations, Pope Benedict XVI told members of the group, gathered today at the Vatican, that only in the search for truth, true human dignity, and the value of workers over capital, will true democracy be able to flourish.

the Pope received the president and leaders of ACLI, the Christian Associations of Italian Workers, which is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its foundation.

The Pope shaped his address by speaking on each of the three directives which the association is historically committed to.

Noting the first of these, "faithfulness to workers," he pointed out that the Magisterium of the Church has always highlighted the human dimension of work, without overlooking "the commandment of rest. To insist, then, that Sunday does not become like all the other days of the week, is to take a stand in favor of civilization."

The Pope continued, saying that "From the primacy of the ethical dimension of human work arise other priorities: that of man over work, of work over capital, of the universal destination of wealth over the right to private property; in brief, the priority of being over having."

He pointed out that in the modern world, science and technology "present huge possibilities for improving everyone's lives," but warned that "the misguided use of such power can provoke grave and irreparable threats to the future of life itself."

"The defense of life - from conception to natural end - wherever it is threatened, offended or trampled underfoot, is the primary duty of an authentic ethic of responsibility, and this may be coherently extended to all other forms of poverty, injustice and exclusion," Benedict said.

He then discussed the organization’s second directive, "faithfulness to democracy," saying that "It alone can guarantee equality of rights for all. ...Justice is the testing ground of true democracy.”

“That said,” the Holy Father pointed out, “it should not be forgotten that the search for truth constitutes the essential condition for a real, not merely an apparent, democracy. 'As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism'."

Speaking on the third directive, "faithfulness to the Church.,” Benedict said that “Only a willing and passionate adherence to the [Church] can guarantee the identity necessary to ensure a presence in all areas of society and the world, without losing the flavor and fragrance of the Gospel."

The Pope then charged the group. "As lay people and associated Christian workers…always take care over the formation of your members and leaders, with a view to the special service to which you are called.”

“Remain courageously present”, he stressed, “in all crucial areas of social life."

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Pope to Congolese Bishops: Have hope despite unrest, strengthen Christian communities

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2006 (CNA) - As Pope Benedict XVI welcomed Bishops from the Democratic Republic of Congo today, he told them that despite widespread violence in that country, the continued spread of evangelization and strengthening of Christian communities are the key to liberation and true freedom.

He particularly challenged the bishops to build up the priests and religious under their charge and strengthen lay Christian communities.

The prelates, all part of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo are in Rome for their regular "ad limina" visits.

The Holy Father began by pointing out that bloody conflicts which have spread throughout Congo over recent years have "deep scars left in people's memory." He likewise praised the Congolese bishops for calling on local leaders "to demonstrate their responsibility and courage, so that people may live in peace and security," and encouraged them to "accompany the progress currently being made."

During the address, he frequently visited the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa," which celebrated its tenth birthday in 2005.

"In calling that synodal assembly," Benedict said, "John Paul II wished to promote an organic form of pastoral solidarity for the African continent, so that the Church can bring a credible message of faith, hope and charity to all men and women of good will, and give a new missionary impulse to particular Churches."

He also pointed out that some Congolese dioceses are celebrating 100 years of evangelization, marking what he called an apt occasion "to renew the apostolic enthusiasm of pastors and faithful," and for "moral, spiritual and material reconstruction to unite communities into one family, a sign of fraternity for your contemporaries."

Strong Communities

Continuing his address, Pope Benedict told the bishops: "You have highlighted the need to work for a profound evangelization of the faithful.”

He said that “The living and vibrant ecclesiastical communities in all your dioceses well reflect this 'hands-on' evangelization which makes the faithful ever more mature in their faith, in a spirit of evangelical fraternity that brings them to reflect together on the various aspects of ecclesiastical life.”

“These communities”, he pointed out “also constitute a valuable bulwark against the onslaught of sects, which exploit the credulity of the faithful and lead them astray by proposing a false vision of salvation and of the Gospel, and loose morals."

The Pope went on to encourage "the permanent formation of the leaders of these communities, especially of catechists," and the importance that such groups "not only welcome the Gospel of Christ, but that they bear witness to Him before human beings.”

“In these times that are so important for the life of your country,” he said, “the lay faithful must be reminded of the urgent need to begin the renewal of the temporal world, calling them to 'bring to bear upon the social fabric an influence aimed at changing not only ways of thinking but also the very structures of society, so that they will better reflect God's plan for the human family'."

The Pope also expressed his gratitude for the priests and the male and female religious who work throughout the African continent.

"I am aware," he said, "of the difficult conditions in which many of them exercise their mission," and gave thanks for their "frequently heroic service."

Likewise, he called on the bishops to maintain "the excellence of the moral and spiritual life of priests, particularly reminding them of the unique bond that ties the priest to Christ, of which priestly celibacy, lived in perfect chastity, is an expression of profundity and vitality."

Benedict also told the group; "continue to develop the bonds of communion with your diocesan presbyterium," bearing in mind the fact that in the country "long-term conflicts have sometimes had negative repercussions on the unity of the presbyterium, favoring tribalism and power struggles, bringing fateful consequences for the construction of the Body of Christ and confusion to the faithful."

"I exhort you all”, he continued, “to rediscover the deep-rooted fraternity that is particular to priests." He also challenged the bishops to encourage their priests "to exercise fraternal charity, particularly by offering them certain forms of communal life, in order to help them grow in sanctity and in faithfulness to their vocation and mission, and in full communion with you bishops."

Pope Benedict concluded his time with the prelates by inviting them “to hope.”

“For more than a century”, he said, “the Good News has been announced in your land. ... May your communities, supported by the witnesses to the faith in your country - especially Blesseds Marie-Clementine Anuarite Nengapeta and Isidore Bakanja - be prophetic signs of a humanity renewed in Christ, a humanity liberated from rancor and fear!"

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EWTN celebrates 25-year milestone

Irondale, Ala., Jan 27, 2006 (CNA) - The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) will mark its 25th anniversary this year, Aug. 15, and to celebrate it has organized five events, called Family Celebrations.

The network kicked off its yearlong celebration last month in Denver. Its second event will be Jan. 28-29 at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. More than 6,500 people are expected.

Attendants will hear renowned speakers and can visit with the network’s hosts and well-known Catholic authors. They will be part of one of the largest studio audiences the network has ever had for a taping of The Journey Home, one of EWTN’s primetime television programs. Bishop Allen Vigneron of Oakland will celebrate mass on Sunday. Future celebrations are planned for San Antonio, St. Louis, and Philadelphia.

Mother Angelica, an 82-year-old cloistered nun, who with $200 in the bank, founded EWTN in the garage of her monastery in the Birmingham suburb of Irondale, always referred to the network’s audience as her “family.” Time magazine once called Mother Angelica “the most influential Catholic woman in America.”

“These celebrations are a way to thank God for his awesome Providence and to say ‘thank you’ to our family for their support over the past 25 years,” said EWTN president Michael Warsaw.

EWTN is available in more than 118 million households in 127 countries and territories. And with its worldwide short-wave radio station, its direct broadcast satellite service, its satellite delivered AM & FM radio network, its Internet Web site ( and its publishing arm, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.

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Encyclical highlights ‘Catholic response’ as ‘social response’: Catholic Charities

Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), affirms that Catholic identity and values must be evident in the way charitable services are organized and delivered, said Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA.

“The encyclical also reaffirms that the Catholic response is a social response, but one rooted in the commitment and conviction of individual behavior,” said the priest. “Without that support, our work would be impossible.”

Fr. Snyder issued a statement yesterday, describing the Pope’s teaching as both “a challenge and an affirmation” and indicating that his organization and its member agencies welcome the encyclical. It is an affirmation of the commitment of his organization to make mission and Catholic identity a priority in the formation of its leaders and staff, he said.

“As organizations specifically commissioned to carry out the social ministry of the Church, the encyclical demands that we be not just another philanthropic organization but that our Catholic identity and its inherent values imbue our organization and permeate how we deliver services,” Fr. Snyder stated.

The priest also noted that the Pope’s comments about the place of proselytism in the service of charity “affirm the practice of Catholic Charities agencies to provide services based upon need and not race or creed.”

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Catholic media conference in Nashville this spring

Nashville, Tenn., Jan 27, 2006 (CNA) - A Catholic media conference to be held this spring will consider the future of the Catholic Church and of Catholic publishing and communications, under the theme Sounds of the Future.

The 2006 Catholic Media Convocation, co-sponsored by the Catholic Press Association and the Catholic Academy, will be held at Nashville’s Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, May 24-26.

Major presenters include: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, who will speak on Catholicism in the American pluralistic experience; Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, who will address Catholic-provided health care; Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of the military ordinariate will talk about the review of American seminaries; and Msgr. Francis Maniscalco, secretary for communications of the USCCB, will speak on Catholic media today and projections for the future.

Archbishop John Foley, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications, will address Catholic News Service subscribers at a breakfast and will celebrate the Catholic Press Association’s Annual Memorial Mass on May 25.

Pre-convention focus seminars on Wednesday morning, May 24, will center on advertising, the Internet, intellectual property concerns, magazine design, photography, and reporting, and issues in the Church and society.

The program will also include Hispanic and immigrant issues and a critical review of the film “Breaking the Da Vinci Code.” Attention will be given to diocesan publications, magazines, national publications, and books. Seminars will discuss writing news stories, features, and columns; photography; design of small newspapers; advertising; managing personnel and bookkeeping for smaller publications; resources, and other topics.

The CPA Awards Banquet will be held on the Friday evening.

The Loews Vanderbilt Hotel is located across the street from the Cathedral of the Incarnation, where all liturgies will be celebrated.

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Jewish leader, senior Vatican officials discuss joint talks with Muslims

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2006 (CNA) - A representative of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) met with four senior Vatican officials yesterday to discuss ways to strengthen dialogue between the two religions and the possibility of entering into a joint dialogue with senior Muslim clergy.

"It is important to enter into discussions with the third 'Son of Abraham',” said Israel Singer, chairman of the WJC’s policy council. The WJC serves as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people to world governments and international organizations.

“No one in the meetings has underestimated the difficulties in bringing about a meaningful dialogue [with Islam], but we all agreed that the principle of mutual respect can override differences that exist between the religions," he said in a press release.

Singer met with Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for general affairs at the Secretariat of State of the Holy See; Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary for Relations with States; Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; and Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.

Singer also stressed the need for the results of Catholic- Jewish dialogue to "trickle down" the hierarchies to every follower of both faiths.

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Chicago’s Cardinal George hospitalized

Chicago, Ill., Jan 27, 2006 (CNA) - On Thursday, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George, spiritual head of the third largest Catholic diocese in the U.S., was hospitalized following frequent complaints of dizziness.

The Cardinal had just returned to the country from a trip to Rome and New Zealand Wednesday, before being taken to Chicago’s Loyola University Medical Center, where he was listed in fair condition as of Thursday night.

Officials from the Archdiocese are confident that the hospitalization was just a precaution and the Cardinal will be back to work soon.

According to the Washington Post, Archdiocesan spokesman Jim Dwyer said that the bout "doesn't appear to be anything serious,” although George will probably remain in the hospital overnight for observation.

Some 2.4 million Catholics are served by the Archdiocese of Chicago, which Cardinal George took over in 1997.

Faithful across the diocese, and much of the country, have been offering frequent prayers for the Cardinal.

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Argentine bishop says family and human person should be priorities for the State

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jan 27, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Ruben Frassia of Avellaneda, Argentina, said this week the defense of the family and the human person are priorities for the State and always a guarantee for the development of society.

“The human person is at the center, just as the family, which is comes before the State.  The State must regulate but not impose new criterion on the family,” the bishop said.

Bishop Frassia also noted that conversion is a life-long process and he warned that this does not mean that one journeys in the dark, as one must always be attentive to the signs God leaves throughout life.  “In life there are many things that can distract us,” he added, “because today’s society is consumerist and leaves no room for the expression of true values.”

“Today society throws away whoever cannot produce.  Just look at the old people, at children who are ill, at the handicapped.  In some way we drive them out and the system makes us get rid them as if we lived in the times of slavery,” he said in conclusion.

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Cardinal Rivera calls border wall an “error”

Mexico City, Mexico, Jan 27, 2006 (CNA) - During the III National Congress of the Mexican Bishops’ Committee on Culture, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City, called the decision by the US government to build a wall on border with Mexico an “error” that harkens to “other eras in history that have already been overcome.”

During the congress, which is focusing on “Migrations, Multiculturalism, and Ministering to the Culture,” the cardinal said the Church is “pilgrim by nature” and that “authentic Catholicism implies an appreciation of all cultures.”

Cardinal Rivera said the phenomenon of immigration is occurring because of economic, family or religious reasons, and that the solution requires the consensus of the affected nations and not unilateral decisions.

Likewise, the cardinal stated that in recent years the immigration of women has increased, making women the breadwinners of their families, with all of the problems that their distance from the home implies.”

Mexican Chancellor Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista said this week construction of the wall was “unacceptable” because “it will only lead to the degradation of the human condition.” 

Bishop Renato Ascencio Leon, president of the Bishops’ Committee on Human Mobility, invited Mexicans to participate in a day of prayer on January 29 to pray that “the walls not be built, and that instead bridges be established that will lead to better relations.”

In this sense he called on the country’s presidential candidates to include in their proposals “the creation of well-paid jobs so that our countrymen will not have to look for work in other places.”

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