Archive of February 2, 2006

Pope to Consecrated: you are like sentinels that glimpse and announce the new life that is already present in history

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - The Pope refered to consecrated persons as "an announcement of God’s presence, made loud and clear in a language that is comprehensible even to our contemporaries," "the eloquent sign of the presence of the Kingdom of God in today’s world"  "they are like sentinels that glimpse and announce the new life that is already present in history," the pope said in todays homily. 

During the mass celebrated this evening in Saint Peter’s basilica on the day the Church celebrates the day of Consecrated Life,  thousands of candles were illuminating Saint Peter’s Basilica today for the tenth World Day of Consecrated Life, celebrated, as each year, on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

Pope Benedict talked at length about the message of the Gospel of the Presentation at the Temple and on the figure of Mary, "the first person to associate herself to Christ on the path of obedience, proven faith and shared sorrow."

The celebration of the day of consecrated life is "an appropriate occasion to praise the Lord and to thank Him for the priceless gift that consecrated life represents in its different forms; it is at the same time an incentive to promote in all God’s people the knowledge and the esteem for those who are totally consecrated to God. In fact, just as Jesus’ life in His obedience and dedication to the Father, is the living parable of the "God-with-us"

“Their way of living and working allows them to display in full force that they fully belong to the one Lord; their complete consignment into the hands of Christ and the Church is an announcement of God’s presence, made loud and clear in a language which is comprehensible even to our contemporaries."

“That the Lord renew each day in you and in all consecrated persons the joyous response to His free and faith love. Dear brothers and sisters, like lighted candles, irradiate always and everywhere the love of Christ, light of the world,” the Pope conlcluded.

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“Be strong in faith,” theme for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Poland.

Warsaw, Poland, Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - “Be strong in faith,” is the theme chosen to accompany Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to  Poland, planned for the end of May of 2006.

The Polish Bishop’s conference revealed the theme in Warsaw. The trip will start on May 25 in Warsaw and will end on May 28 in Krakow. The details of the trip will be released in the coming days, but it is already known that Pope Benedict will visit the shrine of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska in the south of the country as well as the monastery of Jasna Gora en Czestochowa.

Moreover, the Pope wished to visit Wadowice, the home town of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. At the end of the trip, a visit to the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau might be on the pope’s schedule.

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Democrats oppose Supreme Court nominees not backed by abortion industry, says priest

Washington D.C., Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - A Catholic priest says the Democrats’ nearly unanimous opposition to Justice Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court in the Jan. 31 vote clearly shows that “Senate Democrats will oppose any nominee to the Supreme Court that does not receive the abortion industry’s stamp of approval.”

“Senate Democrats marched in step to the cadence call of radical abortion-on-demand groups, ignoring the concerns of the vast majority of their constituents,” noted Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, which is the world’s largest pro-life, pro-family organization.

With regard to Catholic outreach, the priest added: “If the Democrat party is sincere about reaching out to people of faith, they must stop taking money from the abortion industry, stop voting the way the abortion industry demands, and stop attacking judicial nominees that do not meet with the approval of the abortion industry lobbyists.”

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US bishops’ conference urges Congress to support ‘Holly’s Law’

Washington D.C., Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - An official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is urging Congress to put “Holly’s Law” to a vote as quickly as possible. The law would temporarily suspend FDA approval of abortion drug RU-486 and set up a review.

Also known as mifepristone, RU-486, is taken by a woman in her first seven weeks of pregnancy. The drug causes the uterine walls to contract and to expel the baby. Concerns about the drug have been raised since at least eight women in the United States died after using the abortifacient.

“After five years of trauma and death associated with RU-486, the FDA’s response has been limited to one health advisory and amended drug labeling,” said the USCCB’s director of planning and information at the Pro-Life Secretariat Deirdre McQuade. “How many more women must die before we take a close second look at RU-486?”

McQuade was speaking at a Feb. 1 press conference. She was joined by other supporters of “Holly’s Law,” including representatives from Concerned Women for America, Susan B. Anthony List, Family Research Council, National Right to Life Committee, and Democrats for Life.

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett and other Congressional supporters of the legislation sponsored the press conference.

“If supporters of RU-486 believe the FDA followed the law in approving RU-486 for abortion, they should have nothing to fear from the proposed review,” said McQuade. “But if the FDA bent the rules to expedite approval of RU-486, the agency clearly valued the ‘health’ of the abortion industry over women’s health and should be brought to account.”

Holly’s Law is named in memory of Holly Patterson, a young California woman who had barely turned 18 when she died from toxic shock after being given RU-486.

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New round begins in US Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue

Washington D.C., Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - More than 20 Lutheran and Roman Catholic leaders in the United States are set to continue their dialogue toward unity April 20-23 in Phoenix. The leaders had their first meeting of Round XI at the Cenacle Conference and Retreat Center in Washington Dec. 1-4.

Lutheran-Catholic dialogue has been under way for the last 40 years. Its desired goal is "pulpit and altar fellowship, full communion,” and it has seen significant progress.

In 1999, the Lutheran World Federation and the Holy See signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which indicates an agreement on the basic understanding of the doctrine of justification and declares that certain 16th-century condemnations of each other no longer apply.

The current round of talks, on the theme “The Hope for Eternal Life,” is building on the Joint Declaration and on talks that preceded the signing in 1999. Among the topics taken up were differences between Catholics and Lutherans over the Christian's life beyond death, especially as regards purgatory, indulgences, and masses and prayers for the dead.

Bishop Richard Sklba, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and the Rev. Lowell Almen, secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are co-chairing this round of talks.

Bishop Sklba said it may take years to complete discussions on the issues in this round of dialogue. He said he is interested in making sure Catholic practices reflect the Joint Declaration.

On an international scale, officials of the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican are discussing the possibility of joint events and observances leading up to 2017, the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther's posting of the 95 theses, which began the Protestant Reformation. Another occasion for collaboration is the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II "Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation” in 2015. A two-year commemoration of both historic events leading up to 2017 is being considered.

The 2004 dialogue produced the 69-page document "The Church as Koinonia of Salvation: Its Structures and Ministries.”

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Catholic Charities USA urges Congress not to slash vital programs for poor

Alexandria, Va., Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - Catholic Charities USA, one of the nation’s largest social service networks, is making a last-minute plea to the U.S. House of Representatives to protect government programs for the poor from the budget axe.

With Congress returning this week from recess, one of the first issues to be taken up by the House is a budget reconciliation bill that, according to Catholic Charities USA, includes unprecedented reductions in funding for vital social services and health care programs.

The bill, which has already been approved by the Senate, makes detrimental cuts and program changes that will affect poor Medicaid recipients, child care funding, child support enforcement, kinship foster care funding, and welfare beneficiaries.

“This legislation compromises the health and well-being of some the poorest and most vulnerable in your community and across the nation,” said Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. “Our faith teaches us that government has a special obligation to first consider the needs of the poor, yet the proposed budget changes put a disproportionate burden on the poor – those who can least afford it.”

These budget changes come at a time when increasing numbers of working families, seniors, and disabled adults are seeking assistance from local Catholic Charities, said Fr. Snyder. “The funding and program changes proposed in this budget conference agreement will only serve to push low-income families and individuals further behind.”

“This spending plan is a moral document; it is a public manifestation of how our government reaches out to those who most need its assistance,” he said. “On behalf of the poor and vulnerable, I urge members of Congress to examine their conscience, act with compassion, and to vote to defeat this legislation.”

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Totalitarian tendencies threatening “democratic” regimes, warns Vatican cardinal

Madrid, Spain, Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Cardinal Julian Herranz, warned in Madrid this week against “ideological totalitarian tendencies” that “can manifest themselves in regimes that consider themselves democratic.”

During a gathering marking the 40th anniversary of Vatican II’s document on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, the cardinal warned against “the danger of agnostic totalitarianism or secular fundamentalism” which is evident in some governments that “pass laws or make statements that are harmful to religious freedom.”

Cardinal Herranz noted with alarm the situation in “some democratic states that declare themselves non-sectarian but where there is a danger that secular fundamentalism might become a sort of state religion, a militant atheism that is undeclared but nevertheless real.”

The Spanish cardinal said such trends manifest themselves in the “progressive ethical impoverishment of civil laws and political agendas,” resulting in the legalization of abortion, euthanasia and drug use, as well as contempt for the indissolubility of marriage and the traditional family.  Society is regressing because of this, he continued, as “truth and error are placed on the same level,” thus contributing to the establishing of “the dictatorship of relativism.”

Cardinal Herranz also warned of the loss of religious in freedom in some theocratic and Communist states and in states whose governments “claim to be democratic and pluralist.”  In such countries there is a lack of respect and protection for religious freedom, such that there is an effort to “expel all religious expression from public life.”   

The cardinal called for greater respect for religious freedom and that “no person be forced to neither act against his conscience nor be prevented from professing his religion in private and in public.”  He also criticized efforts to “indiscriminately” grant all religions equal status under the law, “thus putting the Catholic Church on the same level as any other religious community or sect.”

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Iraqi archbishop says Christian community becoming “Church of martyrs”

, Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - Reacting to a series of explosions this past Sunday in Christian churches throughout Iraq, Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said, “The Iraqi Christian community is once again becoming a Church of martyrs.” 

After celebrating the funeral of Fadi Raad Elias, one of the victims of the bombings, Archbishop Sako told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN ) that the faithful came in masse to the Cathedral of Kirkuk to show that despite the violence, “they are more committed than ever to Christianity.”

He said the large number of Muslims attending the funerals was a source of comfort and that Catholics in Iraq would not allow these acts of aggression to drive them out of the country.

Archbishop Sako also said that thanks to ACN, he was able to provide economic assistance to the families of the victims.  “They were very thankful,” he said. “For them it was an important gesture of solidarity, because it shows they are not alone.”

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Argentina medial society backs government official’s opposition to drug parties

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - The Society of Medical and Biological Ethics of Argentina announced its support this week for the Health Minister of the Buenos Aires province, Claudio Mate, who is opposing the so-called “Raves” parties during which hundreds of young people consume illegal drugs.

In a statement, the Society said Mate’s position is one that benefits the health of young people, who attend the Raves parties and suffer irreparable harm from drug use.

The Society also denounced “the owners of the locals where these parties are held for shutting off drinking fountains and forcing kids to buy alcoholic beverages or mineral water at exorbitant prices.”

“This is the sad reality of some of the survivors of the tragedy at the Republica Cromañon disco on December 30, 2004, who said there was no water in the building,” the statement noted.  On that occasion, dozens of young people were killed after a fire broke out.

The Society also pointed out the grave dangers of mixing drugs and alcohol, noting that in some cases it can cause serious health problems and even death.

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Pope accepts Bishop Gumbleton’s resignation

Vatican City, Feb 2, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Detroit, U.S.A., presented by Thomas J. Gumbleton, upon having reached the age limit.

This annoucement comes following a controversial open letter Gumbleton wrote to his parishioners at St. Leo’s Church, that was distributed this Sunday, January 29th, in which he annouced his resignation was already accepted by Pope Benedict.

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