Vatican City, Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) - This morning, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Mario Juan Bosco Cayota Zappettini, the new ambassador of Uruguay to the Holy See. During his discussion with Ambassador Zappettini, the Holy Father discussed the importance of advancing the human condition within an increasingly globalized world.
Pope Benedict said that there are, "new possibilities and new risks" arising from globalization, which must be faced "with the broadest possible agreement among nations."
Globalization, he said, "is an opportunity to create a network of understanding and solidarity among peoples, without reducing everything to merely commercial or pragmatic exchanges." In this network there should be room "for the human problems of each place and, in particular, of emigrants forced to leave their own land in search of better living conditions; something which at times has grave consequences on the individual, family and social spheres."
The Pope said that there is a, "huge problem of poverty and marginalization," which represents "an urgent challenge for leaders and those in charge of public institutions."
The Church, which considers charity to be, "an essential dimension of her being and her mission, selflessly demonstrates her ... concern for the needy of all conditions and origins. In this task, she collaborates with various entities and public institutions so that no one seeking support may be lacking a friendly hand to help them overcome their difficulties.
"To this end," the Pope concluded, "she offers personal and material resources, but, above all, human closeness which seeks to alleviate the deepest poverty, solitude and abandonment, in the knowledge that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in Whom we believe and by Whom we are driven to love.”
Pope Benedict also spoke of presence of the Church in Uruguay saying, “Over its history, Uruguay has gradually adopted the Christian ideals of justice and peace. In the bosom of the country, different concepts of man and his destiny coexist peacefully and in mutual respect, without this diminishing the sincere and real appreciation for the religious dimension and, in particular, for the mission of the Church."
"The most exalted values, rooted in the hearts of individuals and in the social fabric, are like the soul of peoples, rendering them strong in adversity, generous in loyal collaboration, and hopeful in building a better future ... in which everyone without exception has the opportunity to achieve their full dignity as human beings.”
"For this reason," the Holy Father added, "we look with concern at certain tendencies that seek to limit the inviolable value of human life itself, ... or to disassociate it from its natural environment, which is that of human love in marriage and the family. The Church clearly promotes a generous and hope-giving 'culture of life,' and not only for strictly religious reasons."
"Supporting the family, helping it to carry out its indispensable duties, also means gaining in social cohesion and, above all, respecting the rights of the family, which cannot be relinquished in the face of other forms of union that seek to usurp them."
Though it is slowly changing, Uruguay remains one of the most secular countries in South America. 66 percent of Uruguayans say they are Catholic (compared with 92% and 74% respectively in neighboring Argentina and Brazil) and a remarkable 31 % of Uruguayans profess no religion. In the early part of the 20th century the government passed several anti-Catholic laws, some of which remain in effect. In Uruguay, Christmas is not a government-recognized holiday; instead the government recognizes “the Day of the Family” on December 25th. Likewise, during Holy Week the government celebrates “Tourism Week.”
, Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) - The Holy See once again reiterated its position against the illicit trade of small arms, at a United Nations conference Wednesday. The conference in New York was a review of the UN’s plan of action to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms.
“Since there is a close link between weapons and violence, weapons and destruction, weapons and hatred and social disintegration, arms cannot be treated as if they were commercial goods like any other,” said Archbishop Celestino Migliore in his presentation. The archbishop serves as the permanent observer of the Holy See at the UN.
“The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is a threat to peace, development, and security,” he said. “The Holy See therefore supports those who call for a common approach in order to combat, not just the illicit arms trade, but activities related to it, like terrorism, organized crime, and the illicit trade in drugs and precious stones, not forgetting the ethical, social and humanitarian dimensions of these scourges.”
The archbishop made particular mention of the impact of the small arms trade on children, who are exposed to the violence and in some cases forced into service as child soldiers. He also said it was important to address the special needs of children affected by armed conflicts, “their reunification with their family, their reintegration into society and their appropriate rehabilitation.”
The archbishop suggested negotiating a treaty to address the illicit arms trade, based on the principles of international law, and expressed the Holy See’s strong support for the United Kingdom’s proposal for a treaty on the transfer of conventional weapons.
States must perceive the links between disarmament, development, and humanitarian concerns, and commit themselves to programs that will reduce the demand for arms and armed violence, he stated.
Vatican City, Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) - Vatican analyst, Sandro Magister, of the online magazine “L’Espresso” says in an article to be published soon that Pope Benedict XVI will implement real liturgical reform in his upcoming Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist.
Magister bases his analysis on an interview with Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, published in the French Catholic daily, “La Croix.”
He says that while the 15 cardinals and archbishops that make up the Synod council have already presented their recommendations, “It’s the Pope who will have the last word.” Magister predicts there will be surprises “from Benedict XVI himself, who has very clear ideas on topics such as the Eucharist and liturgy. And he is very critical of some aspects of the post-conciliar liturgical reform.”
Magister’s complete column will be found at www.chiesa.espressonline.it/index.jsp?eng=y
Vatican City, Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) - Benedict XVI has decreed that as of September 18 - when the Vatican Secret Archives and other archives of the Holy See resume activities after the summer vacation - all documents related to the pontificate of Pope Pius XI will be made available to researchers.
According to a communiqué made public today, signed by Jesuit Father Marcel Chappin, keeper of the Historical Archives of the Secretariat of State, and Barnabite Father Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, "this opening, which had already been desired by John Paul II, ... makes available to historical research, within the limits of the regulations, all documentary sources up to February 1939, conserved in the various series of archives of the Holy See, and principally in the Vatican Secret Archives and in the Archives of the Second Section of the Secretariat of State (formerly the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs)."
The pontificate of Pius XI took place between February 6, 1922 and February 10, 1939, and thus fell between the two World Wars. His reign was aimed, in large part, at reestablishing the role of the Church in the world. Prior to his death Pope Pius was scheduled to make a strong statement against Fascism. Following his death, the text of his statement was mysteriously lost. Some hope that the release of Pope Pius’s documents may shed further light on the role his pontificate played in opposition to the growing ideologies of Fascism.
Vatican City, Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, has said that "destroying human embryos is equivalent to an abortion."
In an interview with the Italian Catholic publication Famiglia Cristiana, the cardinal spoke of life issues and the state of the family.
He said scientists involved in research with human embryos, including embryonic stem-cell research, could be excommunicated. He also affirmed that excommunication is still applicable to persons who receive, perform or support abortions.
Commenting on the family, he said recent legislation and a lay culture that is hostile to marriage are dismantling the institution of marriage piece by piece.
“The idea of marriage as a universal good, as the basis of society, is disappearing,” he said. There is even a tendency to say that the family infringes on the freedoms of single people, he added.
The cardinal expressed his concern that there is a tendency to create new human rights. “This is happening with regards to abortion, which is a crime, and instead it is becoming a right. John Paul II had already said it in Evangelium vitae. Life is no longer sacred or untouchable, but it has become fluid in the hand of man, who can decode when it begins and ends.”
He added that the Catholic Church is concerned that, "even talking about the defense of life and family rights is being treated as a sort of crime against the state in some countries - a form of social disobedience or discrimination against women."
Wichita, Kan., Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) - Operation Rescue has purchased the building that housed Central Women’s Services, an abortion clinic in Wichita. The building will be renovated and serve as Operation Rescue’s headquarters; it will also feature a memorial to the pre-born.
Operation Rescue learned in late April that Central Women’s Services had not been able to pay its rent for months and that the property was for sale. It made an offer on the building through a third party, and stipulated in the real estate contract that the current tenant not be retained.
Central Women’s Services later came up with the back rent and asked to continue its rental agreement under the new owner. However, the clinic was forced to close because the property was under contract.
“We have no doubt that if we had not moved quickly to buy that building, this abortion mill would still be in operation today,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue.
The clinic had operated at the current location for 23 years. An estimated 50,000 babies were aborted there.
Operation Rescue had previously purchased an empty lot behind Central Women’s Services and placed a large billboard sign there, warning women of the dangers of abortion.
Since the clinic is now closed, Operation Rescue has donated the lot to A Better Choice, the crisis pregnancy center next door. Plans have been made to turn the lot into a park.
The grand opening of the new Operation Rescue headquarters is currently being planned.
Siguenza, Spain, Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) - In a pastoral letter marking the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Bishop Jose Sanchez Gonzalez of Sigüenza-Guadalajara has called on the faithful to join Pope Benedict XVI in Valencia for the World Meeting of Families and to unite with him in the defense of families.
“The best gift for the Pope this year would be to join with him in his plan and his mission of service to families and to all of us on the occasion of this fifth World Meeting of Families,” the bishop stated.
Although the content of his discourses and homilies is not yet known, Bishop Sanchez noted, “We know that the Pope is coming to proclaim the Gospel of the Family,” and to underscore the role of marriage, “and of the family in general and the Christian family, in particular.”
“The Holy Father will surely invite us to pray for families, to help those that are in need, to defend the institution of marriage and the family according to the plan of God,” he added.
Bishop Sanchez said he hoped the visit by Pope Benedict XVI would, “contribute to increasing our esteem, affection and appreciation of the family,” and he called for prayers for the success of the event.
Referring to the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Bishop Sanchez explained that above all, “we should pray for the Pope, for his person, for his ministry, for his intentions and for the fruit of his most important service to the Church and to humanity,” and we should constantly, “renew our filial affection.”
He also called on the faithful to be generous to the annual Peter’s Pence collection, which will take place on July 2nd, and which is intended, “to help the Pope carry out his innumerable commitments to helping the poor and those institutions…that are dependent upon, subsist, and are able to carry out their work thanks to the help of the Pontiff and of those of us able to help him.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) - After seven hours of debate, Argentina’s House of Representatives approved a law legalizing sterilizations and vasectomies despite massive opposition from the Church and warnings from numerous medical and pro-life groups. The final vote on the measure was 147-41, with two abstentions. The measure now goes before the Senate.
The new law would require both public and private hospitals to perform the procedures and make them available - even to minors.
In addition, if the law is passed by the Senate, the procedures could be requested without the consent or knowledge of the patient’s spouse. While it would allow doctors to opt out of performing them for reasons of conscience, the measure would require that both private and public institutions have alternative personnel on staff willing to carry them out.
Dr. Roberto Castellano, president of the group Pro-Life in Argentina, denounced the project as part of the, “requirements imposed on our country by the World Bank,” which has agreed to loan Argentina over three billion dollars to finance its national debt in 2006.
“Thus, not only is the external debt increasing, but the legal framework of a morality contrary to human health and the integrity of the body is being devised and camouflaged as a ‘right,’ when in reality it is the same logic that can be applied in a veterinarian center on the physiology of an animal.”
Havana, Cuba, Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) - The director the magazine “Vitral,” Dagoberto Valdes, who is one of the most prominent lay Catholic leaders in Cuba, said this week the Catholic Church there has never sought to impose the faith but rather has dedicated herself to serving society.
In an interview with the Cubanet news agency, Valdes maintained that the, “Church in Cuba during these 47 years has always had as her motto the phrase of Jesus Christ: ‘What would you like me to do?’ That is her response to the state, to the opposition, to Cubans on the island, and Cubans in the diaspora, to everyone,” he said.
The Church, “has a well-defined mission,” in the changes that are coming in Cuba, Valdes continued, because, “she is mother and teacher of all men and women, and at the same time she is the universal sacrament of salvation.”
Valdes also praised “Vitral” and said it would continue to serve the people as long as the Church deems it necessary. “The day we think we are no longer serving, Vitral will disappear,” he stated.
While the magazine has received much support from outside Cuba, Valdes underscored the importance of the support Vitral has received from, “the Catholic Church, from the Diocese of Pinar del Rio, from the priests, monks, and laity here.”
According to Cubanet, Valdes is a simple man, “who seems unaware of his notoriety in Cuba. Herein lies his principle merit; he sees himself as just another Cuban, an average Cuban who has decided to stay forever on his beloved island, no matter what happens, contributing with his multiple talents.”
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jun 30, 2006 (CNA) -
A woman in Malaysia made a final appeal yesterday before her country’s federal court to be free to convert from Islam to the faith of her choice - Catholicism.
Lina Joy, né Azlina binti Jailani, converted from Islam to Catholicism in 1990. However, despite her declaration that she was no longer a Muslim, the Malay government refused to remove the designation "Islam" from her identity card.
Because Joy, 42, bears a Muslim identity card, she is unable to obtain a civil marriage license to a Catholic man.
In 1997, Joy applied to the National Registration Department to change her name on her identity card. She received the identity card with her new name but the designation “Islam” was still on it.
In 2000, Joy applied to the National Registration Department to delete the word "Islam" from her identity card but her application was turned down on the grounds that she was required to produce a certificate or an order from the Syariah Court or any Islamic authority, declaring her an apostate.
Two lower courts already denied jurisdiction to hear her case on the ground that she is a Muslim, leading Joy to appeal to the federal court.
The U.S.-based Becket Fund has been involved in the case. It wrote and distributed a legal opinion analyzing comparative constitutional and international law issues for Joy's appeal.
Director of International Advocacy, Angela C. Wu, also traveled to Kuala Lumpur in April to consult with Joy's domestic legal team regarding her right to profess and practice any faith.
"Should the Federal Court uphold the Court of Appeal’s decision - which imposes legal disadvantages on Lina Joy solely because of her religious status as a person who converted from Islam to Christianity - Malaysia will be in violation of bedrock principles of international human rights law," The Becket Fund argues.