Vatican City, Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI devoted the focus of his Angelus message to The Fifth World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Valencia, Spain, next Saturday and Sunday. In discussing the theme of the World Meeting, the Holy Father recalled the duty of families to, “live and transmit the faith.”
"The theme of the forthcoming Valencia meeting,“ the Pope began, “is the transmission of faith within the family. This is what has inspired the motto of my apostolic visit to that city: 'Families, live and transmit the faith’!”
“In so many of today's secularized communities, the primary need for believers in Christ is precisely that of renewing the faith of adults, that they may become capable of communicating that faith to the new generations,” the Holy Father continued, “At the same time, the path of Christian initiation of babies and children can become a useful occasion for parents to draw near the Church once more, and deepen their knowledge of the beauty and truth of the Gospel.”
Pope Benedict recalled that the first such gathering of families took place in Rome in 1994 on the occasion of the International Year of the Family promoted by the United Nations. It was then that John Paul II wrote his famous “Letter to Families.” Subsequent World Meetings of Families have been held in Rio de Janeiro (1997), Rome (2000) - for the occasion of the Jubilee of Families, and Manila (2003).
"It is important," Pope Benedict said, "that today's families also hear the memorable appeal launched 25 years ago in the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Familiaris consortio' by John Paul II: 'Family, become what you are!’”
"The family," Benedict said, "is a living organism in which a reciprocal exchange of gifts takes place, what is important is that the Word of God, which keeps the flame of faith alive, should never be lacking. During the rite of Baptism, in an extremely significant gesture, the father or godfather lights a candle at the great Easter candle, symbol of the risen Christ; then, addressing the members of the family, the celebrants says: 'ensure that your baby, illuminated by Christ, always lives as a child of the light.'"
The Pope concluded: "In order to be authentic, that gesture - which contains all the significance of the transmission of faith within the family - must be preceded and accompanied by the commitment of parents to deepen their knowledge of their own faith, reviving its flame through prayer and the assiduous practice of the Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist."
Vatican City, Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - After praying the Angelus today with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke of the "growing concern" with which he was following events in Iraq and the Holy Land.
"Faced, on the one hand, with blind violence that provokes appalling massacres and, on the other, with the threat of a worsening of the crisis which over the last few days has become even more dramatic, what is needed is justice and a serious and credible commitment to peace, which unfortunately are nowhere to be seen.”
"For this reason," the Holy Father added, "I invite everyone to join in faithful and persistent prayer: may the Lord illuminate hearts and may no one evade their duty to construct peaceful coexistence, recognizing that all men are brothers, whatever the people to which they belong."
Wadowice, Poland, Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - A bronze statue of Pope John Paul II was unveiled in his hometown Friday.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, longtime personal secretary of the late pope and current archbishop of Krakow, unveiled the statue in front of Holy Mary Basilica in the town’s main square, reported the Associated Press.
Earlier, the cardinal had celebrated a memorial mass in the basilica where Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, was baptized and served as an altar boy.
About 2,000 people attended the unveiling. Prayers were also offered for his quick beatification.
Pope Benedict XVI had already waived the customary five-year waiting period to begin the process for beatification of his predecessor.
Washington D.C., Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - On Thursday, the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion lobby and legal support group, held a briefing on Capitol Hill to explain to congressional staff its continuing plan to bring abortion to countries around the world - particularly to Latin America. The meeting was titled “Advancing Reproductive Rights in Latin America.”
Officials for the Center for Reproductive Rights told congressional staff that the center will continue to initiate and support legal cases in Latin America in order to open doors for abortion in countries where citizens do not support pro-abortion legislation. The speakers described particular success in supporting legal cases, which are slowly widening the availability of abortion in several countries where abortion has been partially legalized already.
The group spoke about the court cases they have won, particularly the “Paulina Case” in Mexico, where abortion has been legalized in cases of rape.
The “Paulina Case” involved a young girl who was raped and attempted to seek an abortion. However upon seeking medical council, doctors and others reportedly talked her out of the abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a legal challenge based upon the situation, and has used their legal victory in the case to force legislation which requires abortion to be more readily accessible.
As a result of the case, the Mexican government is taking action to train all Mexican medical personnel on the availability of abortion in their country. Next month, the government is expected to issue to Mexican states a set of comprehensive regulations, created by the federal health minister, for medical and judicial personnel to follow when facing a situations similar to the “Paulina Case.”
The women who spoke on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights acknowledged that the strong values in these countries view abortion as immoral and that it will take a great deal of “education” to change views of Latin Americans on abortion. They spoke about the need for grassroots campaigns to advance support for abortion and to inform women about the legal availability of abortion in cases of rape.
They expressed their intention to eventually bring legal challenges in Chile and El Salvador, where abortion laws are among the toughest.
They also declared a victory in a case involving a Peruvian mother and child. In 2001 a young mother was denied permission to abort her child, who was diagnosed with a fatal brain anomaly. The mother was required by the doctors to continue her pregnancy and gave birth to the child, who eventually died. The Center for Reproductive Rights, along with several other groups, took the case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The UN Committee declared that the woman should have had a legal recourse to seek an abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights considers this ruling to be the first time that an international court ruled that abortion is a reproductive and human right.
Ankara, Turkey, Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - A man stabbed a Roman Catholic priest Sunday in the Black Sea port of Samsun in the third attack against a Catholic cleric in Turkey since February.
Fr. Pierre Brunissen, 74, was injured in the hip and leg and rushed to hospital, Msgr. Luigi Padovese, the apostolic vicar for Anatolia, told The Associated Press. The French priest lost a lot of blood but his condition is not life threatening.
"I hope this has nothing to with Islamic fundamentalism," Msgr. Padovese reportedly told the AP. "The climate has changed,” he was quoted as saying. “It is the Catholic priests that are being targeted."
Police detained the 47-year-old attacker, who has been described as mentally ill, the Anatolia news agency reported. The man was known to have complained about the priest for allegedly promoting Christian propaganda, the agency reported.
A 16-year-old Muslim is currently on trial for the fatal shooting in February of Fr. Andrea Santoro, 60.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - After three years of study of the devotion to “Our Lady of the Hill,” the Archdiocese of Salta has announced it has no proof or objective witnesses to support a supernatural explanation of the alleged Marian apparitions.
The archdiocese issued a statement about the alleged revelations of the Virgin Mary to Maria Livia de Obeid, who has the practice of laying her hands on each person that comes to visit her, invoking the protection of God. She has promoted the construction of a chapel on top of the hill in Salta where the apparitions supposedly took place.
In a statement entitled, “Declaration regarding the question of the Hill,” Archbishop Mario Cargnello said Obeid’s activities represented “a personal initiative in the context of a civil organization, without the recognition of, or the insertion into, the organic and official activity of the Church.”
Archbishop Cargnello said the archdiocese, “cannot endorse the extraordinary events as objectively true,” and he invited the faithful to seek their spiritual growth through the ministries offered by the Church in Salta. Obeid’s invitation to come to the hill, and the messages that are given there, are, “outside the [Church’s] pastoral direction,” he went on, “and consequently, the Church cannot endorse nor promote participation in them.”
The Archdiocese of Salta has been investigating the alleged apparitions since 2003, when a commission of priests began studying the testimonies of those involved and those who have gone to the site.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, has called for the heaviest punishment possible for men who kill their wives, as a string of deadly domestic violence cases have swept across the Dominican Republic.
“It strikes me that very few who are accused of killing their wives receive severe sentences. There needs to be heavier sentences for those who are irresponsibly punishing women,” the cardinal said after celebrating Mass on his 45th anniversary of priestly ordination.
Asked about proposals to modify the country’s Constitution, Cardinal Lopez Rodriguez said he was in favor as long as the changes were done properly. “I believe that the greater the peoples’ participation in a democracy the better. Thus people can have the right to express themselves and to say what kind of country they want,” he stated.
Valencia, Fla., Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - The twenty Cuban families that will arrive in Valencia to participate in the 5th World Meeting of Families constitute the largest delegation from Cuba that has ever been allowed to attend the event.
According to the AVAN news agency, Bishop Arturo Gonzalez of Santa Clara will lead the delegation.
Liana Lorigados, who is coordinating the trip for the families, told AVAN it would be the “largest delegation to come from Cuba in the history of the World Meeting of Families.”
The Bishops’ Conference of Cuba has arranged for the Cuban delegation to stay with families in Valencia and has ensured their participation in the main activities of the event.
The delegation will also include four families from Havana, who will be accompanied by Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
In the months leading up to the Meeting, families throughout Cuba participated in formation and catechetical events sponsored by their local dioceses, in preparation for the Valencia Meeting.
Quito, Ecuador, Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - In response to the violent ousting by police of hundreds of residents in the province of Los Rios, the bishops of Ecuador defended pastoral workers who assist the poor and said they were not contributing to social unrest.
In a statement the bishops underscored that authorities, “have once again fallen into the mistaken attitude of accusing the parish priest and pastoral workers of agitating the people by simply being with residents of the area in the midst of the excesses of which they are victims.”
“In the face of the violent ousting of residents who have held and lived off their lands for more than 40 years, who see their homes destroyed, who see their crops ruined and people insulted, no sensible person can remain silent, much less pastoral workers, who are called to look after the dignity of the human person and defend his rights,” said the statement, which was signed by Bishop Nestor Herrera Heredia, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador.
The statement denounced threats to deport pastoral workers who are in Ecuador as missionaries as, “abuse of authority and disregard of the country’s laws (by those) who are supposed to be looking after the well-being of their fellow countrymen and giving an example of respect for the rights of all people.”
The bishops rejected the charges by local officials in Los Rios as “false and absurd” and expressed their complete support for those missionaries who are being, “unjustly disturbed.” “To fight for justice is not to agitate the people,” the statement indicated, “Nor is it to implant terrorism or attack public order or civil peace.”
Marsabit, Kenya, Jul 3, 2006 (CNA) - The Diocese of Marsabit in northeastern Kenya held a ceremony Sunday to officially open a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary, reported the Catholic Information Service for Africa.
Maria Mfariji (Mary the Consoler) Shrine, located outside the town of Marsabit, will be used for prayer, recollection and retreats.
The shrine, which took four years to build, is visible from the town. It has accommodation facilities, a library and a music room. A kitchen and dining hall, a multi-purpose hall, a workshop and a garage are being built.
The opening mass was presided by Archbishop Nicodemus Kirima of Nyeri and Bishops Virgilio Pante of Maralal and Ambrose Ravasi of Marsabit.
Bishop Ravasi, a Consolata missionary, said the diocese built the shrine to fulfill the dream of the first missionaries there, and to encourage reconciliation and peace among the different peoples in the area.
The remote diocese largely consists of semi-arid territory, prone to drought and famine. There have also been episodes of violence among the communities living there.