Vatican City, Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) - In the greetings he addressed to participants in today's general audience, the Holy Father reminded Polish pilgrims that July is "a month in which we traditionally venerate the Most Precious Blood of Christ."
He went on: "In the world, innocent human blood is continually being spilt. The hearts of men are often full of hate rather than evangelical love, they often contain disdain and arrogance rather than care for mankind,. I ask you to pray that modern humanity may experience the power of the Blood of Christ, spilt on the Cross for our salvation."
Benedict XVI also greeted participants in a symposium on the defense of creation, to be held soon in Brazil. "I hope," he said, "that this important initiative, promoted by the Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, may contribute to promoting an ever greater respect for nature, entrusted by God to the ... responsible hands of man."
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) -
The Apostle John was the subject of Benedict XVI's catechesis during today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 25,000 people. The Pope told the crowd that John shows us that it is not enough to simply follow and listen to Jesus in a superficial way.
"According to tradition, John is the 'beloved disciple' who rested his head on the Master's chest during the Last Supper; he was at the foot of the Cross together with Jesus' Mother, and was a witness ... to the presence of the Risen One." Various scholars see in him, "the prototype of the disciple of Jesus," who wishes "to make each of us a disciple living in personal friendship with Him. To do this, it is not enough to follow and listen to Him on the outside, it is necessary to live with Him and like Him. This is only possible in the context of a relationship of great familiarity, pervaded by the warmth of complete trust."
"John appears with Peter and James as part of a smaller group which accompanies Jesus at significant moments of his public ministry," the Pope explained. Within the Church of Jerusalem, he added, the Apostle, "occupied an important position. ... In fact, Paul numbers him among those he called the 'pillars' of that community." Before the Sanhedrin, John affirmed that, "'we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.' This frankness in confessing his faith is an example ... for us all to be ready to declare decisively our unshakeable adherence to Christ, putting our faith before all calculation or human interest."
"In the apocryphal Acts of John," the Holy Father went on, "the Apostle is presented ... as one who communicates the faith in meeting 'souls capable of hope and of being saved.' Everything is inspired by the paradoxical intent of making the invisible visible. Indeed, the Oriental Church calls him 'the Theologian,' in other words, one capable of speaking of divine things in accessible terms, revealing a mysterious access to God through adherence to Christ."
According to tradition, John spent the remainder of his life living in Ephesus. Benedict said that in the East, John, "enjoyed and continues to enjoy great veneration; in Byzantine iconography he is often depicted as a very old man in an attitude of intense contemplation, almost as if calling for silence."
"Without adequate prayer, it is not possible to approach the supreme mystery of God and His revelation," said the Pope, and he concluded by quoting the words of the Patriarch Atenagoras: "John is at the origin of our most exalted spirituality. Like him, the 'silent' experience the mysterious exchange of hearts; they invoke the presence of John and their hearts are aflame."
Valencia, Fla., Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) - A priest who survived Monday’s subway accident in Spain concelebrated at a Mass offered for the 41 victims at the Cathedral of Valencia on Tuesday.
Father Emilio Cruz of the Servite Order has spent 13 years as chaplain at the Doctor Pesset Aleixandre Hospital, and on Monday he traveled to the site of the World Meeting of Families. Upon leaving he boarded the subway just minutes before the accident.
According to the AVAN news agency, “(Father Cruz) was traveling in the second subway car and was able to escape by breaking the windows. He used his cell phone to call 112 (the equivalent of 911 in the US) before helping victims who were traveling in the first car.”
Speaking to the Diocesan newspaper, “Paraula,” Father Cruz said, “now more than ever, we must encourage people to attend this World Meeting of the Families, the fair, the conferences and the visit of the Holy Father, because it is in families of faith that the pain of these tragedies can be turned into hope.”
The Spanish priest said the World Meeting of Families should be enjoyed, “without forgetting the victims of this tragedy.” He also encouraged the victims’ families to, “continue forward with hope,” and he called on survivors to, “give thanks to god for this new opportunity to give of themselves more to others.”
Moscow, Russia, Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) - The attack on a Catholic priest in Samsun, Turkey, last week shows that Turkey is not ready to join the European Union, said Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
"It is not the right moment for Turkey to join the European Union. What is still missing [in Turkey], is a secular state capable of assuring real religious freedom, and this is a long process which needs time," he told Milan daily Corriere della Sera on Tuesday.
Fr. Pierre Brunissen, 74, was stabbed Sunday and is recovering from his wounds in hospital. Police have detained the 47-year-old suspect. The stabbing of the French priest in Turkey is the third attack on Catholic clergy since February. Fr. Andrea Santoro, 60, was killed in February in his parish church.
Cardinal Kasper told the newspaper that the Catholic Church believes that "every act of violence committed in the name of God is an insult to Him and to every religion."
In Turkey "the Church is not even entitled to private property, there is some tolerance, but no real freedom," the cardinal told the newspaper. "The Turkish state administers religion and that that is not right.”
"However," he continued, "it is not just a problem of regulations, it is a mentality issue, and this cannot change quickly."
He noted that the general climate in Turkey is pervaded by suspicion and xenophobia, and said education is key in redressing this issue. “It is not just a problem of individual acts of aggression towards Catholics,” he said. “Islamic fundamentalism is growing in Istanbul and there is hostility towards foreigners.”
The apostolic nuncio in Turkey agreed with Cardinal Kasper’s assessment of the climate in the predominantly Muslim country, but added his feeling that Turkey is no longer safe for Catholics.
"I live in Iskenderun [on the border with Syria], but what I say is valid for the whole country: I do not feel safe anymore, and Catholic religious personnel living in other towns don't either,” Archbishop Luigi Padovese told the Rome daily La Repubblica.
The archbishop said there have been, “a number of minor episodes,” that have created this general sense. "Priests at Izmir and Mersin have been threatened directly or through phone calls.” He said Fr. Brunissen had received threats over the telephone not long before he was attacked.
Although the Catholic Church tries to promote inter-faith dialogue in Turkey through conferences and meetings, he said, there has been no positive change since the February killing of Fr. Santoro.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) - In a statement issued Monday, the bishops of Mexico reiterated their call to wait patiently for the official results of the recent presidential elections and they expressed their confidence that the results will reflect “the will of the majority.”
In their statement, the bishops said this was, “the time to trust in the electoral institutions and authorities. This is a time for legality.”
Signed by the president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago, and Conference secretary, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, the statement explains that, “until the Federal Electoral Institute declares the official results of who has won, we hope that the candidates who have not triumphed will act with maturity and love for their country and accept that they will be able to continue collaborating loyally for the good of country through responsible opposition.”
The bishops emphasized that Mexico is in need of an, “inclusive and pluralistic government,” that will bring the country together and guarantee stability and progress.
The bishops called the elections “a success” and they called on all voters to set aside, “the emotions and partisan passions of the electoral contest,” and to, “accept the official results, acknowledge the winner and be ready to collaborate with the new government for the good of society.”
Washington D.C., Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) - The Supreme Court intervened Monday to stay the removal of a large cross from San Diego property, reported the Associated Press.
The 29-foot cross atop Mount Soledad, which has been in place since 1954, was contested by Philip Paulson, a Vietnam veteran and atheist.
A lower court judge had declared the cross was an unconstitutional endorsement of one religion over another and ordered the city of San Diego to remove the cross by Aug. 1 or be fined $5,000 a day.
The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Mich., had filed the emergency application in the Supreme Court June 29, asking for the stay. The Center filed the application on behalf of San Diegans for the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial, arguing that the people wanted to avoid the "destruction of this national treasure."
Attorneys for the city said the cross was part of a broader memorial that was important to the community. According to the AP, Mayor Jerry Sanders also argued that the cross is an integral part of the national memorial and deserves the same exemptions to government-maintained religious symbols as those granted to other war monuments.
It is unclear how long the stay will remain in effect.
Havana, Cuba, Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) - Several human rights organizations have now expressed their support for the nomination of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a pro-life doctor sentenced to 25 years in prison by the Cuban government, to receive the Prince of Asturias Award. The awards are a series of annual prizes given in Spain by the Fundación Príncipe de Asturias to individuals from around the world who make notable achievements in the sciences, humanities, or public affairs.
The president of the Panamerican committee of the International Society of Human Rights, Ambassador Haydee Marin, said the organization has given its complete support to the nomination of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. Members of the ISHR include Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa.
The president of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights, Ricardo Bofill, said Biscet represents, “a genuine world example in the fight for the right to life and all other inalienable rights and faculties of the person, which were proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the United Nations on December 19, 1948.”
Other organizations that are backing Biscet include the Cuban American Research Group, the Acton Institute of Argentina, the Institute of Cuban Historical Memory, in addition to many others.
Organizations that wish to support Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet can write to
Valencia, Fla., Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) -
Speaking at one of the conferences of the World Meeting of Families taking place this week in Spain, Cardinal Carlo Cafarra of Bologna, Italy, called for revitalization in the field of education in order to respond to the decision by the EU Parliament to force member states to make same-sex unions the equivalent of marriage.
According to the AVAN news agency, the cardinal called last January’s resolution by the EU Parliament, “a false conception of the secularism of the State,” and he criticized it for, “condemning as homophobic those states that do not embrace it.”
Cardinal Cafarra, who is also director of the John Paul II Institute on the Family, explained that the application of, “secularist principles,” in Europe means society would become, “a contract of egoisms, a negotiated coexistence of strangers.”
At the heart of this situation, the cardinal said, is a fundamental emergency in education. “An entire generation of adults does not know how to educate an entire generation of young people,” the cardinal said.
During his address, he underscored the Church’s mission to improve education both in the family and in society, and he said that the degradation of the human person can’t be stopped by just complaining, but rather by strengthening the education of persons who are truly free.
Cardinal Cafarra also criticized calls to change the terminology referring to procreation and marriage. Such terms, he said, “do not derive from any particular understanding of human sexuality: It’s no longer spouses, but ‘partners,’ no longer fathers and mothers, but ‘progenitor A’ and ‘progenitor B’.”
Lisbon, Portugal, Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) - A Catholic bishop in Pakistan is struggling to achieve justice for the family of a young man who was allegedly beaten to death for refusing to convert to Islam.
Javed Anjum, 19, was visiting his mother’s family in eastern Pakistan in 2004 when he was reportedly lured to a ‘madrassa,’ or Islamic school, and called upon to renounce his Christian faith. It is alleged that when he refused, he was severely beaten before being taken to a police station in Toba, some 80 km from Faisalabad. Anjum then dramatically revealed on video camera the identity of his attackers. Moments later, he lost consciousness and died.
Last week, Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad told a conference in Lisbon that, two years after the incident, the case was at risk of disintegrating despite compelling evidence for the prosecution, reported Aid to the Church in Need.
According to reports, the rector of the ‘madrassa’ in Toba is being prosecuted as the man most responsible for the death. Recently however, the prosecuting lawyer, who is being supported by the Church of Faisalabad, has received threats against himself, his wife, and his three young children. His wife and children have fled to safety to the southern Pakistan city of Karachi.
Bishop Coutts, who had bestowed the Sacrament of Confirmation on Anjum a few years ago, has intervened amid growing fears that the case could be suppressed by Islamic groups through intimidation and bribery of the courts.
“We must keep up the pressure for justice. These Islamic groups are very powerful. They can make it look like an accident,” the bishop added after the conference. “They must admit that they have done something wrong. They must admit that they have committed murder.”
According to the bishop, Muslims need to be reminded that it is against their religion to bring about a conversion by compulsion. But he said Muslims who engage in this violent behavior, “believe that if you convert somebody to Islam, you have reserved a place for yourself in heaven.”
Zagreb, Croatia, Jul 5, 2006 (CNA) - A Catholic monastery will adapt a former Nazi ship into a sailing church for youth. The “floating church” is intended to be used for as a venue for church-sponsored youth activities, reported Jutarnji List newspaper.
Croatia's defense ministry donated the World War II ship, which was used by Nazi Germany to transport tanks and infantry. The ship was given to communist Yugoslavia after 1945 as part of war compensation.
About 90 percent of Croatia's 4.4 million people are Roman Catholics. The country gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.