Archive of September 21, 2006

European leaders question Turkey’s place in EU, following strong criticism of Pope

Munich, Germany, Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - The President of Bavaria and prelates of Britain’s Catholic and Anglican Churches are among the most recent European leaders to wonder whether mostly-Islamic Turkey has a place in the European Union, especially following the country’s reaction to words of Pope Benedict XVI.

Edmund Stoiber the president of the German region of Bavaria and leader of the Christian Social Union Party (CSU), the “little sister” of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union, proposed today that deliberations on Turkey’s possible acceptance into the European Union be ended.  According to Europa Press, Stoiber says the reaction of many of the ruling political leaders in Turkey to the words of the Pope was reckless and overly critical.

The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Turkish religious authorities continue to demand that the Pope make a more sincere public apology for the words he spoke in a discourse at the University of Regensburg, during his visit to Germany the 9th through 12th of this month.

A high-ranking Turkish politician even went so far as to compare Benedict XVI to Hitler or Mussolini, a comparison which exasperated Edmund Stoiber, who thinks that “Turkey is not now in the condition to enter the European Union.”

“Turkey is not Europe nor does it belong to the continent, because the country has such great cultural and spiritual differences with western values,” Stoiber said.

Meanwhile the ranking prelate of the Catholic Church in England and the former head of the Anglican Communion have asked similar questions.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster (London), told the Times, “I think the question is for Europe: will the admission of Turkey to the European Union be something that benefits a proper dialogue or integration of a very large, predominantly Islamic country in a continent that, fundamentally, is Christian?”

Cardinal O’Connor said that the majority of English people are Christian who, regardless of the secular nature of their country, have a deep yearning for God, based upon their Christian traditions.

A large majority of Briton Christians belong to the Church of England which Lord Carey of Clifton used to head.  The former Archbishop of Canterbury added his voice to those questioning Turkey’s place in the EU yesterday, telling the Today program that “Surely a European community has to be more than economic? It has to have common values and so on."

"I think the jury is still out on Turkey at the moment. I look at its record on freedom of speech, what it is doing to writers in Turkey who want to speak out, and some of them are in jail,” Carey continued.

"I think we are on a journey together. I don’t write them out of the action but there are questions to be pushed."

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Benedict XVI tells bishops to work without tiring for sanctity and Church unity

Castelgandolfo, Italy, Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict received today a group of newly appointed bishops in his summer residence at Castelgandolfo.  The Pope reminded the prelates of the necessity of living intimately united to Jesus Christ in order to tend, with out tiring, to growing in sanctity and to the daily construction of Ecclesial communion.
"Following Christ's example," the Pope told them, "each of you, in the daily nurturing of your flock, must become 'all things to all men,' presenting the truth of faith, celebrating the sacraments of our sanctification, and bearing witness to the Lord's charity. Welcome with an open heart those who knock at your door, advise them, console them, and support them on the way of God."
The bishop’s duty to act in such a loving way should first be demonstrated to the priests who work with him, Benedict said.  "Always act towards them as fathers and elder brothers who know how to listen, accept, comfort and, when necessary, also correct."

Benedict also reminded the bishops that, by virtue of their power to govern, they are called "to judge and discipline the life of the people of God entrusted to their pastoral care, with laws, indications, and suggestions, in accordance with what is laid down by the universal discipline of the Church.”

“This right and duty of bishops,” the Pope said, “is absolutely vital in order that the diocesan community may be internally united and progress in profound union of faith, of love and of discipline with the Bishop of Rome and with the entire Church.”

“Building ecclesial communion," he said, "must be your daily duty."
The Pontiff also told them of the gifts they will need to carry out their missions.  "Serenity in relationships, delicacy in dealings with others and simplicity of life are gifts that without doubt enrich the human personality of a bishop.”

“The total giving of self, which the care of the Lord's flock requires, needs the support of an intense spiritual life nourished by assiduous individual and community prayer."
The Holy Father called on the bishops to ensure that their days be characterized by "a constant contact with God," and explained how "living in intimate union with Christ will help you to strike that vital balance between inner meditation and the exertions required for the multiple occupations of life, avoiding the danger of excessive activism."
"Following Christ, the Pastor and Bishop of your souls," he concluded, "you will be encouraged to tend tirelessly towards sanctity, which is the fundamental aim of the life of all Christians."

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Newly-opened Vatican archives demonstrate a future Pius XII with no love for Nazis

Rome, Italy, Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - Documents emerging from the Vatican's archives demonstrate that Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, defended anti-Nazi clergy and censored priests who expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, a German historian said Wednesday.
German church historian Hubert Wolf told The Associated Press that the recorded minutes of Vatican meetings held in the late 1930s show that the ailing Pope Pius XI greatly relied on Cardinal Pacelli, then Secretary of State, to enforce his Pontificate's stance against Nazism and Fascism.
"The Pope would just make a blessing and say 'our secretary of state will find a solution'," Wolf told the AP about what he saw in the first few documents he had seen among the millions opened up by the Vatican on Monday.
The archives, which span from 1922 to 1939, may offer some answers into the controversy surrounding the cardinal who later became Pope, and who has been accused by some historians of failing to do enough to protect Jews during the Holocaust. The Vatican has insisted Pius XII used discreet diplomacy that saved thousands of Jews.
Wolf also saw documents relating to the strong anti-Nazi statements Chicago’s Cardinal George Mundelein made in 1937.  The documents showed a flurry of discussion between the Pope, Cardinal Pacelli and 10 other cardinals as to how the Vatican should respond to the protests of Hitler’s administration.  The Vatican’s communications centered on whether the Vatican should blame the U.S. cardinal or exonerate him.  It was Cardinal Pacelli, who to the dismay of the Nazis was successful in pushing for a reply to German authorities that defended Cardinal Mundelein, saying he had simply exercised freedom of speech within his diocese.
The Vatican archive also includes extensive documents regarding Cardinal Theodor Innitzer of Vienna’s 1938 endorsement of the German annexation of Austria. Cardinal Pacelli reportedly responded to this situation with harsh communications, ordering Cardinal Innitzer to report to Rome. The meeting in Rome resulted in a retraction of the pro-Nazi statement.

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Archbishop of Valencia urges Catholics to support Pope “without fear”

Valencia, Fla., Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - During his remarks at the opening of the school year at the Catholic University of Valencia, Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco exhorted Catholics this week to remain “firm, united to the Pope, without fear.”

According to the AVAN news agency, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco, the grand chancellor of the university, said, “We are receiving pure and transparent wisdom” from the Holy Father, adding that “from the Pope and from the Gospel we learn tolerance in the face of intolerance; freedom in the face of submission; humanism in the face of fanaticism; conscience in the face of violence.”

Likewise, the archbishop noted that “in Benedict XVI our age is again experiencing, in an exemplary way, that here on this earth there is nothing more valuable than a humanity that is free, independent and spiritual.”

The archbishop explained that “reason open to God brings about peace and understanding between cultures, rejects violence, and promotes true progress and the freedom of peoples,” although “in too many settings a culture is being spread that seeks to disregard God and considers that reason should not be concerned with knowing Him.”

Later in his discourse, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco recalled that “the great task of the university is to constantly rediscover this scope of reason,” and thus he invited “our interlocutors to discover this great ‘logos.’”

He warned that as soon as religions “resort to violence” to bring out uniformity, “they abandon the terrain of what is religious in order to enter into that of violence and brutality.  Even the most legitimate of truths, if it is imposed on others through violence, becomes a grave sin against God,” he said.

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John Paul II’s gunman warns Benedict not to travel to Turkey

Ankara, Turkey, Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - The man who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 has warned Pope Benedict XVI not to visit his predominantly Muslim country in November, following the violent reaction to his misunderstood remarks on Islam and Mohammed.

"As a man who knows these things, I am saying that your life is in danger, don't come to Turkey. I can't welcome you because I'm in prison," lawyer Mustafa Demirbag quoted Mehmet Ali Agca as saying.

The lawyer said Agca made his statement during a meeting at the high-security Kartal prison in Istanbul on Monday. Demirbag said he would visit Agca again on Thursday and was expecting his client to make further statements.

Agca’s warning follows the remarks the Pope made last week in Germany—quoting a 14th-century emperor—that some teachings of Islam are “evil and inhuman,” particularly that of spreading faith through violence.

Agca speculated in a hand-written letter, faxed to the Associated Press by his lawyer that the Pope was pressured by secret services to make such a statement. The gunman called on Benedict to step down as Pope and return to Germany for a peaceful life.

There have long been questions about Agca's mental health, reported the AP. When asked by Turkish police earlier this year where he obtained the gun he used in his assassination attempt, Agca said: "These are minor details. It was written in my destiny 1,000 years ago. I fulfilled a mission that was written 1,000 years ago. I would shoot the pope even if he was on the moon," Turkey's Hurriyet and Zaman newspapers had quoted him as saying.

Agca is expected to remain in jail until 2010, after an appeals court ruled he had to serve a longer sentence for killing a prominent Turkish journalist in 1979.

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U.S. Bishops finally offer words on Pope’s speech as Australian cardinal takes heat for his

Washington D.C., Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - While Cardinal George Pell of Sydney is in a “row” for stating that the violent reactions among some Muslims to the Pope’s remarks last week justify the pontiff’s concern about links between faith and violence, American bishops have only begun to respond to the situation.

Australia's Muslim leaders say the Pope has already apologized for his comments about Islam, and that Cardinal Pell is out of step with the Vatican and just making things worse.

Meanwhile, Bishop William Skylstad, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said the Pope’s words point to the need for dialogue.  Skylstad issued a statement yesterday saying the USCCB enthusiastically supports the call for dialogue made by Pope Benedict in his Sept. 20 audience message.

"Given the circumstances of the last week, it is clear that dialogue is essential between Christians and Muslims, a dialogue in which we respect, in the words of the Holy Father, 'what is sacred for others,’” Bishop Skylstad said in a press release.   
"In the United States, the bishops are participating in such a dialogue,” he continued. “We recognize, with Pope Benedict, that Catholics and Muslims ‘worship the one God.’”

“Because of the events of the last five years, this dialogue is especially urgent so that Christians and Muslims are able to work together to promote ‘peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity,’” he said, citing Pope Benedict and referring to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and subsequent actions.
The bishops expressed their hope that the controversial speech Pope gave last week “will be understood fully and correctly.”

"It is this attitude of the Holy Father that deserves the world's attention rather than the centuries-old words of another which express a point of view that we cannot deny existed but which no longer motivates the authentic Christian," the bishop concluded in his statement.

The Pope’s speech was “misconstrued as a denouncement of the Islamic faith as a whole, something the Vatican and Pope Benedict himself did not intend,” added Archbishop John Myers of Newark in a separate statement.

The archbishop pointed out that the Pope “has maintained an attitude of respect toward people of Muslim faith” throughout his pontificate.

“It is unfortunate that some in the Muslim world have not shown him the same respect.  We realize that they do not represent the majority of Muslims,” he stated.

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Archbishop defends “eternal and irrevocable” nature of marriage during family meeting

Madrid, Spain, Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - Speaking during the 17th Marian Day of the Family on September 16th, in Torreciudad, Spain, Archbishop Manuel Ureña of Zaragoza reminded participants that marriage between a man and a woman is “irrevocable, it’s eternal, because the bond is the bond that exists between two realities, the fruit of two expropriations that form a sole reality in themselves and is objective and indestructible.”

The celebration, which brought together 10,000 people to give thanks for the visit by Pope Benedict XVI last July, culminated in the celebration of the Mass with Archbishop Ureña, who in his homily said the event served to “celebrate marriage as a privileged expression in the world of the love that God is and that He loves.”

Celebrating the family means “celebrating marriage between a man and woman,” the archbishop said, “because that is what true marriage is.”  While the times and fads can change, he continued, that which is natural is “recorded in the human person from the first day of creation and nobody can ever change that.”

Referring to the new laws on marriage in Spain that put homosexual unions on the same level as marriage, Archbishop Ureña noted that “sin has attempted to alter an institution that has natural rights and was created by God in the very act of creation, and is therefore, not as such, something that was positively given by Christ but rather was given during creation itself.”

Mankind, he went on, can discover this truth “through the light of natural reason.”

“Any attempt to attack or change the essence of marriage and the family is destined to fail,” he warned.

In a message sent to the participants of the event, Pope Benedict XVI evoked “the unforgettable moments that were experienced at the Meeting of Valencia,” and he encouraged families to “earnestly promote and strengthen the Christian values and roots of the family.”

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Three Catholics request public execution, reject government coffins

Jakarta, Indonesia, Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - The three Catholic men, who are to be executed Friday in Indonesia, seem to have resigned themselves to death but are asking for public executions in an open field so that others may witness their deaths by firing squad. The men had been previously granted a stay.

Fr. Jimmy Tumbelaka, spiritual counsel for the three men, told UCA News he will administer the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist for the three men on Thursday.

Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu were convicted of leading the mob attack that killed 200 Muslims in May and June 2000. They are in solitary confinement until the date of the execution. Only officials, family members and spiritual counsels can visit them.

According, to Fr. Tumbelaka, the men have rejected coats and coffins offered by the government, saying their families would provide these.

The priest told UCA News he would pursue the case with the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands, because the verdict "is against the substance of justice." A team of lawyers from a Church-based group, established on Jan. 26, 2006, has already sent the relevant documents to the international tribunal.

Since mid-August thousands of people around the country have held demonstrations to protest the men’s death sentences, claiming they were framed by others who instigated the violence. Some point out that although Muslims also were involved in the violence, no Muslims were brought before a court of law in this case.

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Chilean cardinal says Christians do not distinguish between wanted and “unwanted” children

Santiago, Chile, Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, defended the dignity of the unborn this week and rejected the distinction between wanted and “unwanted” children, because he said, “each human being is a gift and a child of God.”

During the Te Deum for the anniversary of Chile’s independence, Cardinal Errazuriz recalled that “from the point of view of Christianity, we do not distinguish between wanted and unwanted persons,” and that the vocation of Christians is to love everyone “as Christ loved us.”

“Little by little, more people speak of ‘wanted children’ and ‘unwanted’ children, and not of the children we receive and welcome with all of our affection.  The terminology stems from the field of family planning.  It contains a grain of truth, but it cannot prevail as a dominant category in our human relations,” the cardinal warned.

He told Chileans to be on guard against this terminology that “in other countries is used to justify abortion.”  Each unborn child should be welcomed and does not lose his or her dignity and worth, “even though he or she may not have been wanted.”

Cardinal Errazuriz called on Chileans to thank God for the family and said family members should make every effort to “love one another as Christ loved us.”  

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Cuban opposition leader criticizes Kofi Annan for not meeting with dissidents

Havana, Cuba, Sep 21, 2006 (CNA) - The president of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, criticized UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for avoiding a meeting with Cuban dissidents during the Summit of Non-Aligned Countries held in Havana, last week.

On September 11, the CLM formally requested to meet with Annan during his visit to the island nation.  Sources close to the Secretary General declined the request, saying the secretary’s trip was for the purpose of attending the Summit and not for addressing Cuban issues.  Nevertheless, Annan did meet with Fidel Castro.

The dissident leader said the opposition in Cuba could easily provide a “detailed description based on the facts, many facts, of the hellish life to which both political and criminal prisoners in Cuba are subjected, as well as of the reality of the permanent violation of human rights.

“This is what the honorable Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN sought to avoid hearing, when during his recent visit to Cuba he did not want to meet with us, the representatives of organizations that defend human rights, or with the family members of political prisoners,” Paya said.  

Regarding the countries that make up the group of non-aligned nations, Paya said they “most certainly showed they are not aligned with the truth, freedom and justice,” but that they are “very aligned to make a pact that justifies, for many of the countries of movement, the power to smash their own peoples and cruelly repress those who raise their voices in defense of human rights.”

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