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Archive of March 10, 2006

Catholic groups urge director to include disclaimer in Da Vinci film

Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) - Two Catholic organizations are urging director Ron Howard to include a disclaimer at the beginning of his soon-to-be-released film, based on Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

The Catholic League and Da Vinci Outreach, a national coalition organized to expose the lies about the Catholic faith and Church in The Da Vinci Code, want Howard to clearly state that the film is a work of fiction. The film’s release date is May 19.

This week, the Catholic League ran an ad in the New York Times, addressed to Howard. "As the director, you have a moral obligation not to mislead the public the way the book's author, Dan Brown, has,” read the ad, written by Catholic League president Bill Donohue. “Putting a disclaimer at the beginning of the film noting that this is a fictional account would resolve the issue."

"When there are references that could be confusing for moviegoers the customary way to deal with the confusion and eliminate offense is to clearly state that the people and events depicted are fictional," said Matthew Pinto, a member of Da Vinci Outreach and president of Ascension Press.

Da Vinci Outreach offers resources to help viewers navigate between fact and fiction in The Da Vinci Code.

For more information, go to www.DaVinciOutreach.com.

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US bishops seek to educate about Jesus prior to release of Da Vinci Code film

Washington D.C., Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) - In an attempt to clear up any confusion about Jesus and Christianity that might emerge with the theatre release of The Da Vinci Code, the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Communication Campaign has made available key resources with accurate information about Jesus and the Church.

The documentary “Jesus Decoded” presents authentic Catholic teaching about Jesus Christ. It will be available to NBC-TV stations for broadcast starting the third weekend of May.

The film, produced by NewGroup Media, offers a solid Catholic response to “Da Vinci Code believers,” concentrating especially on the first three centuries of the development of the Church. The program includes interviews with international scholars versed in art, history, and Scripture that help separate Catholic truth from popular fiction.

The Web site for the documentary — www.jesusdecoded.com -- was launched March 9. It includes articles from theologians, media commentators and art experts. Opus Dei will contribute to the Web site.

A booklet, entitled The Authentic Jesus, is also available this month. It, too, addresses questions raised by The Da Vinci Code and presents authentic Catholic teaching about Jesus and his divinity, the New Testament, Gnosticism, women and the Church, and other topics explored in The Da Vinci Code.

The DVD documentary and 16-page booklet are available for purchase. Call USCCB Publishing at 1-800-235-8722.

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Catholics protest bill that would require hospitals to give morning-after pill

Hartford, Conn., Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) - Catholics in Connecticut are protesting a bill that would require Catholic hospitals to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims.

The state’s four Catholic hospitals oppose the bill. Connecticut Right to Life demonstrated in Waterbury outside St. Mary's Hospital recently to oppose the legislation. Protesters say the issue revolves around religious freedom.

The morning-after pill is an abortifacient and distrubuting the pill would be against Church teaching, explained Fr. John Gatzak, the communications director for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Gov. Jodi Rell says she favors the current law, which allows hospitals not to dispense the morning-after pill for religious reasons. It does require that they refer women who seek it to other hospitals. However, Rell said she would sign the new bill into law if it were passed by the legistlature.

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Pope encourages Latin American Catholic movements to be missionaries to Gospel message

Vatican City, Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) -

As leaders of new Catholic Communities and lay Movements meet in Bogotá, Colombia this week, Pope Benedict XVI has sent a special message--by way of his secretary of state--calling for a missionary spirit among the groups, that aims to reach out to a suffering world who may not knowJesus Christ.

 The Pontifical Council for the Laity is sponsoring the first ever Meeting of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities in Latin America, being held from March 9th through the 12th.

Through Cardinal Angelo Sodano’s letter, which was sent to Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko,president of the Pontifical Council, the Holy Father encouraged congress participants"to share fraternally the wealth of their spirituality and experience,with the aim of invigorating Christian life in that part ofthe world, in which the Church lays so much hope."

Calling to mind the theme of the meeting, "Disciples and missionaries today, "the cardinal wrote that "like good disciples, the Movements and Communities are called to be both witnesses to and missionaries of the message they have received.” 

Likewise, he called them to stretch out “a friendly hand to others so that they too may discover Christ”, specifically naming “people who still do not know Him," and those "who live their Christian faith in a superficial manner,”  

He particularly called on the groups to reach out to those “who must be given the support necessary to strengthen their faith daily and form it correctly, against the snares of a secularized mentality or one that promotes religious indifference in many areas of Latin America.”  

"In this task,” Cardinal Sodano wrote,“missionaries do not cease to be disciples and give no more than what they themselves have received and continue to receive, without advancing their own ideas or seeking their own gain.” 

In this vein, he recalled Pope Benedict’s words during last summer’s World Youth Day celebration in Cologne, Germany. There, he said that “The spontaneity of new communities is important,but it is equally important to maintain communion with the Pope and the bishops.”

 He stressed that “It is they who guarantee that it is not individual itineraries that are being sought, but that all continue to live in that great family of God that the Lord founded with the twelve Apostles."

 Using this point to show the importance of ecclesial communion, upon which he said,“the authenticity of all experiences of Christian life and the effectiveness of pastoral initiatives so much depend,”he cited the thoughts of another Pope--John Paul II, who insisted that everyone be humbly integrated into the life of local Churches and within diocesan and parish structures.”

 It is here, the cardinal pointed out, “they can all communicate their different forms of association and expression."

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Catholics in China want to re-establish relations with Vatican, says Hong Kong Bishop Zen.

Rome, Italy, Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) - Increasingly, Catholics in China want to re-establish relations with the Holy See and that the latter is ready to move from Taiwan to Beijing, said Bishop Zen Ze Kium.

The bishop of Hong Kong was recently named to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI. His appointment will become official at the consistory at the end of March.

However, Liu Bainian, vice-chairman of the Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics protested the new appointment, calling it "a hostile act in relation to China."

“The Patriotic Association of Chinese Catholics is obviously worried about the idea of a normalisation of relations between China and the Holy See," the bishop told reporters, responding to Bainian’s remarks. He urged Bainian instead to work to persuade Chinese authorities to allow the rapprochement between China and the Vatican, thereby creating greater harmony in society.

The Holy Father is not interested in politics, but in freedom of religion for the Chinese faithful, said the bishop.

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African, European University students to gather with Pope for historic meeting

Vatican City, Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) -

Tomorrow at the Vatican, some 7,000 university students from around Europe and Africa are scheduled to meet with Pope Benedict XVI in an historic call for cooperation between students on the two continents.

College representatives are in Rome for the fourth European Day for Universities,which is being sponsored by the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE).

Likewise, the vicariate of Rome's office for pastoral care in universities is also helping sponsor the event, the theme of which is "Christian humanism,the path of a new cooperation between Europe and Africa."

The students are slated to participate with the Holy Father in an evening prayer vigil focusing on Mary, Saturday evening. Satellite linkups will allow university students in Madrid, Spain, Nairobi, Kenya, and Dublin,Ireland, to participate in the event from their homelands.

The Pope--scheduled to arrive at 6 p.m.--will lead the recitation of the rosary, in which, further satellite linkups will allow local bishops to lead prayers atthe beginning of each mystery.

These prelates will include: Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, archbishop of Munich and Freising, Germany; Archbishop Anthony John Valentine Obinna of Owerri, Nigeria; Bishop Bernard Genoud of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg,Switzerland; Cardinal Bernard Agre, archbishop of Abidjan, Ivory Coast;Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of the archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, Russia; and Bishop Gheorghi Ivanov Jovcev of Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Following the rosary, Pope Benedict will address the delegates and handout copies of his new encyclical “Deus caritas est.”

As is tradition, the Day will conclude with the pilgrimage of the students cross from the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall to Rome's Piazza Navona and the Church of Saint Agnes.

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Courage in faith in the face of difficulties in evangelization

Vatican City, Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) -  During his Lenten meditations for the Roman Curia this week, Cardinal Marco Ce, who is preaching the retreat for Pope Benedict XVI and other Vatican leaders, offered some reflections on the difficulties which arise from preaching the Gospel and the courage which the Church and her ministers must embrace in addressing them.

According to a report on Vatican Radio, on the third day of the traditional Spiritual Exercises, the retired Cardinal-archbishop of Venice said that amidst the difficulties in preaching the Gospel and in times of trial, the bark of the Church always has the presence of the Risen Christ.  

Cardinal Ce said that for three years the during the preaching of Jesus, together with the repeated large crowds that often came together to acclaim him, these difficulties had to be addressed.  The Gospel of Mark notes, and “does not in any way minimize the fact, that after an initial period of enthusiasm and success in Galilee, Jesus had to face an increasing lack of trust as many of his growing number of followers distanced themselves from him,” from his own neighbors, who saw him as “the carpenter’s son,” to the scribes and Pharisees who wanted “signs” despite seeing all the miracles.

In this sense, the cardinal began his first meditation of the morning on the three parables of the seed.  “More than once we hear lament from the lips of Jesus over the effort he must make to ensure his message is understood.  The use of parables is a precise response to this crisis situation and is a sign of what the Church is called to do in the new evangelization,” Cardinal Ce noted.

He offered reflections on the three parables of the seed: that which spontaneously sprouts up—as a symbol of  the grace of God that can work above and beyond human efforts; the mustard seed that once again shows the disproportion between the beginning and the end of preaching, the generosity of divine intervention; and lastly, the parable of the sower in which the seed falls on the different types of soil, symbolizing total indifference to the Word of God, a weak acceptance of the Word or the suffocation due to worldly concerns.  The seed that falls on fertile soil and grows, however, reflects the initiative of God and the perseverance of man.

During his second morning meditation, Cardinal Ce commented on the miracle of the calming of the storm narrated in the Gospel of Mark.  “Against the humanly understandable fear of the apostles who are sinking, the almost exaggerated reprimand of Jesus appears in contrast.”

“But what the Gospel passage seeks to emphasize is the desire of Jesus for faith in the hearts of the apostles that remains even amidst the storm,” the cardinal said.

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Family coalition decries Spanish government’s manipulation of language referring to parents

Madrid, Spain, Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) - The Platform for the Promotion of the Family in Spain announced this week it would not remain indifferent in the face of efforts by the country’s Socialist government to confuse and distort the terminology of the universal concepts of father and mother.

Supported by more than 300 associations representing more than 500,000 people in Madrid, the Platform showed its displeasure with having to put up with the aberrations of the Zapatero government, which has sought to substitute the words “father” and “mother” with “progenitor A” and “progenitor B.”

“The dictionary indicates that progenitor has always referred to the direct ancestor of a person, above all the father and the mother.  And when it refers to ancestors it is also referring to grandparents, ancestors who are linked through blood lines,” the Platform said.

The group also reminded Zapatero that homosexual unions are incapable of procreating or generating human life.  Therefore individuals in such unions cannot be truly considered progenitors.

The group said manipulating society in order to change behavior and ways of thinking directly affects the essence of freedom of individuals who, regardless of their intellectual capacity, have the right to know the truth about certain rights issues based on natural law.

The Platform vowed to oppose efforts to legalize homosexual marriages with every legal means possible and work to have such laws declared unconstitutional.

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Church commission established to oversee electoral process in Venezuela

Caracas, Venezuela, Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela has revealed the names of the members of a newly established commission that will oversee the country’s upcoming presidential elections and will seek to facilitate dialogue among the diverse candidates in an atmosphere of peace and understanding.

 

Conference spokesman, Bishop Ramon Viloria of Puerto Cabello, said commission members would provide guidance based on the Church’s mission of evangelization to the Venezuelan people during the election season.  He said the commission is made up of well-respected bishops and noted lay experts.

 

Bishop Viloria emphasized that the commission would work to facilitate dialogue among the different political candidates in order to contribute to creating a transparent and trustworthy environment for the upcoming elections.  The commission’s long-term goals include putting into place programs based on the recently published Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching.

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Dialogue and religious freedom only way to avoid fundamentalism, says Vatican cardinal

Rome, Italy, Mar 10, 2006 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino, said this week both political and religious fundamentalism can be avoided only through dialogue and religious freedom.

“Only dialogue and religious freedom can prevent fundamentalism, both secular political and religious.  All religions are peaceful and are the way to establishing coexistence and collaboration in issues such as social ones,” said the cardinal according to a report in Europa Press.

The cardinal said he was in favor of allowing public schools to offer an hour-long teaching on the Koran to Muslim students, as long as there was a need.  “If there is a need, if there are a hundred Muslim children in a school, I don’t see what their religion cannot be taught.  This is respect for human beings,” he said, noting that if we expect reciprocity from countries with Christian minorities, “then we will have to put ourselves in the same situation of those who deny us this possibility.”

“Italy and Europe have developed to such a point in democracy and respect that now there is no turning back.  Thus if there are persons of other religious, their religious and cultural identity must be respected,” he said.

The Muslim community in Italy recently requested the Italian government allow “one hour of Islamic religion” in public schools attended by Muslim children, and that “text books containing false notions about Islam and Muslims be corrected.”

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