Montreal, Canada, May 31, 2006 (CNA) - Catholic hospitals are in the thick of the rescue-and-recovery efforts in Indonesia after a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Yogyakarta, killing nearly 6,000 people and leaving more than 100,000 homeless.
Outreach teams of doctors and nurses from Catholic hospitals are visiting destroyed villages in the five affected districts. Ten doctors and 100 nurses are already at work. They are providing medical assistance to the injured and traumatized in the field, reported the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.
Development and Peace is the Canadian arm of Caritas Internationalis, the worldwide Catholic humanitarian agency. It is the official international development and emergency relief organization of the Catholic Church in Canada.
"The seven Catholic hospitals in the province have opened their doors and we are helping as much as we can," said Duncan MacLaren, secretary general of Caritas Internationalis. Another five doctors and 25 nurses are being sent from Catholic hospitals in Jakarta and Bandung.
In addition, local Catholic churches and church buildings are housing survivors and providing food and first aid, reported MacLaren.
"We also have Caritas staff from Indonesia, the Netherlands, Germany and the USA in the area,” said MacLaren. “Caritas agencies had pre-positioned resources in Central Java in the event of the displacement of people living near the erupting volcano of Mount Merapi.”
The assessment of needs is in progress and will be coordinated with local authorities.
Like other Caritas agencies, Development and Peace is accepting funds to aid victims of the massive earthquake. Development and Peace is headquartered in Montreal.
Vatican City, May 31, 2006 (CNA) -
In advance of their June 3rd meeting in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter to participants of the 2nd World Meeting of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities. The meeting which is taking place in Rocca di Papa, south of Rome, begins today discussing the theme: "the beauty of being a Christian and the joy of communicating this."
Referring to the theme of the meeting, the Holy Father affirmed in his Message: "Over the course of the centuries, Christianity was communicated and spread thanks to the novelty of the lives of individuals and communities who were capable of providing an incisive witness of love, unity and happiness. This was the force that 'mobilized' so many people over the generations. ... Today also, Christ continues to make so many people's hearts ring with that decisive 'come and follow Me,' which can decide their destiny."
Pope Benedict recalled, in his message, the first World Meeting of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, which he took part in as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1998. The Holy Father echoed Pope John Paul II’s words on that occasion that the new movements and communities are, “’a sign of hope’ for the good of the Church and mankind.”
The Holy Father called on the ecclesial movements "always to be schools of communion. ... Carry the light of Christ into all the social and cultural environments in which you live. ... Illuminate the darkness of a world confused by the contradictory messages of ideologies. ... How much evil in the lives of men and nations can be produced by thirst for power, possession and pleasure! Bring to this troubled world the witness of the freedom with which Christ set us free."
"Where charity is expressed as a passion for the life and destiny of others, radiating into the affections ... and becoming a force for creating a more just social order, there we build a civilization capable of facing up to the advance of barbarism. Be builders of a better world, according to the 'ordo amoris' in which the beauty of human life is expressed."
The Pope highlighted how ecclesial movements and new communities form part of "the living structure of the Church. She thanks you,” the Holy Father said, “for your missionary commitment, for your increasing formative efforts among Christian families, and for the promotion of vocations to the priestly ministry and to consecrated life."
The Church also thanks you, the Holy Father's Message concluded: "for the willingness you show in welcoming the operational guidelines, not only of Peter's Successor, but also of bishops in the various local Churches who, together with the Pope, are the custodians of truth and charity in unity. I trust in your ready obedience. ... The movements must face all problems with sentiments of profound communion, in a spirit of adherence to legitimate pastors."
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, May 31, 2006 (CNA) -
Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez said drug trafficking in the Dominican Republic could be stemmed if it weren’t for people in powerful positions who participate in it. It is necessary to be attentive and to see who is involved in this illicit trade, he said.
The Catholic prelate recognized the National Drugs Control Agency’s work against drug trafficking. He said it’s an unfair fight because traffickers have greater resources.
"This is an institution that is in a permanent fight, a fight that is out of proportion. The efforts made cannot be denied, but the business continues, the production continues, the consumption continues and of course they do what can be done," the cardinal said.
Drug gangs are powerful organizations that are imbedded among the influential people in society, he claimed, therefore being difficult for government to apprehend.
The cardinal-archbishop made his statements during a thanksgiving mass, marking the 18th anniversary of the National Drugs Control Agency.
The agency has seized 4,332 kg of cocaine, 23 kg of crack and 354,738 ecstasy tablets during the 21 months of Iván Peña’s tenure. It has conducted 15,900 drug seizures and 11,512 raids and has filed 6,382 charges.
Vatican City, May 31, 2006 (CNA) - Benedict XVI dedicated this morning's general audience to a special catechesis on his recently-concluded journey to Poland, "revisiting," together with the 35,000 faithful in St. Peter's Square, the various stages of his apostolic trip.
Recalling first his meeting with the clergy in Warsaw, he said, "My pilgrimage began under the sign of the priesthood. It continued with an expression of ecumenical solicitude in the Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity. On that occasion I reiterated my firm intention to consider the restoration of full visible unity among Christian as a priority of my ministry."
The Holy Father then went on to refer to "the solemn Eucharistic celebration" in Pilsudski Square, a place, he said, "that has now acquired a symbolic value, having hosted many historic events," including Masses celebrated by John Paul II, the funeral of Cardinal Wyszynski, and "mourning ceremonies in the days following the death of my predecessor."
The Pope then took a moment to remember his visits to the shrines "that marked the life of the priest and bishop, Karol Wojtyla:" Czestochowa, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, and Divine Mercy.
"I will never forget the visit to the famous Marian Shrine of Jasna Gora at Czestochowa, ... heart of the Polish nation," he said, "where I again presented the faith as a fundamental attitude of the spirit that involves the entire person. ... From the Virgin of Sorrows at the Shrine of Kalwaria ... I asked support for the faith of the ecclesial community in moments of trial and difficulty. The visit to the Shrine of Divine Mercy ... gave me the opportunity to highlight how Divine Mercy illuminates the mystery of man. In the nearby convent, ... St. Faustina Kowalska received a message of faith for humanity, echoed and interpreted by John Paul II."
The Pope also mentioned "other symbolic shrines" of his journey: Wadowice, birthplace of John Paul II, where lay "the roots of his robust faith, his sensitive and open humanity, his love for beauty and truth, his devotion to the Virgin, his love for the Church, and above all his vocation to sanctity;" and Wawel cathedral "where he celebrated his first Mass."
Referring to his meeting with young people in Krakow's Blonie Park, the Holy Father quoted a phrase his predecessor liked to repeat: "Stand firm in your faith." This, he added, "is the duty I left to the beloved children of Poland, encouraging them to persevere in their faithfulness to Christ and to the Church, that Europe and the world may not lack their evangelical witness. All Christians must feel the commitment to bear such witness,” the Pope continued, “so as to ensure that humanity in the third millennium may never again know horrors similar to those ... of the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau."
In places such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Holy Father went on, "the only response is the Cross of Christ: the Love that descended to the abyss of evil in order to save man at his very roots, where his freedom can rebel against God."
"He concluded: "May modern man never forget Auschwitz or the other 'factories of death' in which the Nazi regime sought to eliminate God and take His place. May he not be tempted to racial hatred, which is the origin of the worst forms of anti-Semitism. May he go back to recognizing that God is Father of all, and calls us all in Christ to build together a world of justice, truth and peace.
At the conclusion of his general audience the Holy Father said: "My thoughts go out to the beloved nation of East Timor, wracked by tension and violence which has caused victims and destruction. As I encourage the local Church and Catholic organizations to continue, together with other international organizations, their efforts to help those displaced, I invite you all to pray to the Most Holy Virgin that with her maternal protection she may sustain the efforts of the people working for the pacification of souls and the return of normality."
Madrid, Spain, May 31, 2006 (CNA) - In an interview for a new book on Europe since the end of the Cold War, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco of Madrid has stated that “religion is the greatest unifying factor in Europe, and the Catholic Church is the greatest unifying phenomenon in the European Union.”
According to the cardinal, the cultural and educational values of Europe all have Catholic underpinnings and therefore have enormous unifying force. “A living Christianity and a young and committed Catholic Church would be an invaluable and irreplaceable contribution to the future of the European Union. It would be a sort of religious, ethical and spiritual roadmap,” he said.
Because of these shared values and traditions, Cardinal Rouco noted, traveling from one’s own country to another in Europe does not give one the feeling of being in a foreign land.
“Europe must be built from the bottom up,” he said, “starting with friendships, personal communication and deeper roots such as religion and spirituality, and from there move on to sports, culture and tourism. This is very important if we want to build up Europe,” the cardinal stated.
He also maintained that the more principles of unity and solidarity are embraced in European political life the better. “For example, the principle of subsidiarity is steeped in Catholic tradition, which has much importance in building up Europe. The rich variety of Europe cannot be allowed to disappear, but there must be a balance.”
Cardinal Rouco said European Catholicism is one of the most “positive” challenges of Pope Benedict XVI. “After the collapse of the wall a Catholic world with a strong presence has emerged in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Romania and also somewhat in the Balkans. John Paul II was decisive in encouraging and nurturing the new youth movements” to bring the hope of renewal to the Catholic faith throughout Europe. Now, the cardinal said, Benedict XVI “has a challenge with an excellent future.”
Quebec City, Canada, May 31, 2006 (CNA) - More than 600 young people attended a three-day youth summit in Quebec City in preparation for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in 2008. The turnout was almost double the number that organizers had expected.
The event, May 19-22, was the second in a series of three annual youth meetings leading up to the congress. Young people came from as far away as British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Maine and New York. About 450 young people came from the province of Quebec.
Highlights of the bilingual event included a catechesis with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, cardinal-archbishop of the Archdiocese of Quebec, and the ordination of a Dominican priest.
Adoration was also an important component of the weekend. The young people gathered several times for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They also meditated on the lives of two local blesseds — François de Laval and Marie de l’Incarnation — known as the two founders of the Church in the Diocese of Quebec.
The participants were also the first to see the Ark of the New Covenant in a Canadian public forum. The ark was blessed by Pope Benedict XVI May 11 during the Quebec bishops’ ad limina visit. The wooden chest weighs about 40 kilograms and is decorated with Eucharistic images.
The ark will tour Canada, stopping in all of the Catholic dioceses, to rally people in prayer in preparation for the congress. The ark’s tour was inspired by a similar national tour that was undertaken with the World Youth Day Cross leading up to WYD 2002 in Toronto.
One of the ark’s first stops will be in Montreal for the feast of Corpus Christi June 15.
Largo, Fla., May 31, 2006 (CNA) - The president of Human Life International, the world’s largest pro-life organization, has agreed to be the spiritual director of Children of God for Life, which fights for ethical alternatives to aborted fetal vaccines.
Fr. Thomas Euteneuer succeeds Fr. Anthony Zimmerman, a retired professor of moral theology, who died May 19.
Over the years, Frs. Euteneuer and Zimmerman helped the pro-life group with its Campaign for Ethical Vaccines.
In fact, in 2003 and 2004, Fr. Euteneuer successfully maneuvered a shareholder resolution to expose pharmaceutical giant Merck’s unethical practices regarding vaccines. He describes Children of God for Life as “a necessary prophetic voice for conscience on many of the intricate moral issues of our day.”
, May 31, 2006 (CNA) -
Archbishop Alberto Giraldo Jaramillo of Medellin expressed his hope this week the president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, who has won reelection, will continue to promote dialogue with the rebels in the country and end Colombia’s decades-long civil conflict.
Speaking on local radio, the archbishop said that neither party has broken off dialogue and that the Church would continue to collaborate in peace talks aimed at establishing a humanitarian agreement and a lasting peace.
He said he was pleased with the electoral process that the bishops see it as their mission to “support the person who was been chosen by the people to lead the nation forward.”
, May 31, 2006 (CNA) - The secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Brazil, Bishop Odilo Pedro Scherer, said this week the evangelization of young people “is one of the most important aspects of the Church’s missionary activity, since it involves handing on to the new generations the legacy of faith.”
In an interview with the FIDES news agency, Bishop Odilo said the issue of reaching out to the youth was discussed at the bishops’ recent general assembly and that they are aware they must reach a better understanding of the youth of today in order to identify various ways of proclaiming the Gospel to them.
More important than finding the ideal path is to “approach young people with love, help them to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ,” Bishop Odilo said, because “Youth is synonymous with hope and future.”
He also revealed that the Brazilian bishops would soon issue a pastoral letter on the evangelization of youth to encourage the whole Church to reflect on the question and make suggestions, taking into consideration present day society, its challenges and young people. “Globalization, IT and cultural changes,” Bishop Odilo said, “mean problems and dangers but also new opportunities. We must put these new means to good use”. In the work of evangelisation,” he added, “it is necessary to keep in mind that many university students are attracted to science and technology and they have the right to be taught the fundamentals of faith so they realise there is no opposition between faith and reason”.