Vatican City, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - The Vatican released today the text of a video message recorded by Pope Benedict XVI to the people of Poland. The nation celebrated its sixth annual “Day of the Pope” yesterday, commemorating the election of Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict’s message was broadcast on Polish television.
Recalling the day of John Paul II's election, Pope Benedict said he can "still hear the echo" of the words pronounced by Karol Wojtyla as he accepted his election to the Papacy, and also remembers his "prophetic call: 'Do not be afraid! Open the doors to Christ!'"
“I thank God that with these images in my heart I was able to pass more than two decades at his side enjoying his benevolence and friendship, and that today I can continue his work under his protective gaze from the house of the Father,” Pope Benedict continued, “I thank God for his life, passed in the love of Christ and of men, that enriched ... all humanity with the grace of the Holy Spirit .... Finally, I thank God for the witness of his suffering associated to Christ's own tribulation unto death - witness that gives us the strength to live, and secures in us the hope of eternity.”
Benedict XVI highlighted John Paul II's devotion to the Church in Poland, which he "loved as a mother" and "as a community always united around its pastors;" a community "which in the past suffered various persecutions," but which always "remained faithful to evangelical values." When Poland regained its liberty, added the Pope in his Message, John Paul II took care to ensure that "his countrymen learned to live in the freedom of the children of God and not of the children of this world, and that they upheld the faith.”
"Aware of this heritage that he left to the Church in Poland," Pope Benedict added, "I came among you this year with Paul's words: 'remain strong in the faith.'” The Holy Father said he prays that God will preserve the faith of the Polish people for future generations.
“I thank you particularly for all your displays of loving union with the Pope who succeeded your great countryman, and I entrust my service for the Church and for the world to your spiritual support," Pope Benedict said.
The Pope concluded his Message by expressing the hope that "the memory of John Paul II, the study of his works and his teaching," may bring the Polish people closer to Christ. "May this be the bond of unity in a shared concern for the future of the Church and the nation."
Sydney, Australia, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - Plans for World Youth Day in July 2008 are going well, reports Cardinal George Pell of Sydney in his recent column, published in Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph.
Celebrations promise to be bigger than the Sydney Olympics as about half a million people will attend the final Mass on July 20, he said. Pope Benedict XVI, 500 bishops and thousands of priests are expected to con-celebrate the Mass.
World Youth Day ‘08 will open on the Tuesday prior, with the Pope’s arrival scheduled at Sydney Harbour for Thursday night.
In addition to the traditional catechism sessions, the Way of the Cross is expected to be re-enacted by young Australians through the streets of Sydney on Friday afternoon.
Between 80,000 and 120,000 overseas visitors are expected to attend. Given the high cost of travel, the cardinal said negotiations have begun with various airlines to obtain significant reductions in the price of the air tickets.
Many pilgrims around the world have already started saving and fundraising in their parishes and communities. The Catholic Bank in Germany has even offered increased rates of interest for pilgrims.
Ten days ago a three-member Vatican delegation visited Sydney to monitor preparations. According to the cardinal, “they were well pleased by progress so far and pleasantly surprised by the level of support outside the Catholic community and especially from the Federal and N.S.W. Governments.”
If the website is any indication, the world’s youth are very interested in the event. The site has received 9.3 million hits since it was launched on Palm Sunday, April 9, reported the cardinal. There are about 50,000 hits to the website per day, he added.
The most hits are from Germany (2.2 million), followed by Australia (1.67 million), the United States (1.51 million) and Italy (670,000).
More than 10,000 young people are registered to receive regular updates through World Youth Day ‘08’s ePILGRIMAGE newsletter. For more information on World Youth Day ’08 or to sign up for ePILGRIMAGE information, go to www.wyd08.org.
, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - The Priest's Council of the Archdiocese of New York met for two hours yesterday with Cardinal Edward Egan to discuss with him a highly critical, anonymous letter that was circulated among priests of the archdiocese and in the media.
The letter accused the cardinal of not serving his priests well and called on the Vatican to quickly accept his resignation when he turns 75 in April, the mandatory age for bishops to offer their resignation as stipulated in canon law. The letter urged diocesan priests to cast a “no-confidence” vote against the cardinal.
In a statement released following yesterday’s meeting, the council expressed their support for the cardinal and his continued ministry in the archdiocese.
“We are appalled that the letter was sent anonymously, and that it can and has been used by those who seek to damage the Church,” reads the statement.
“As today's meeting has shown, it is possible to meet and discuss any issue with Cardinal Egan, and if any priest has a concern he can raise it and discuss it at any time. A letter of this sort does a grave disservice to the entire Church and to this archdiocese in particular,” it said.
The council members said they were “upset and dismayed” that the archbishop was “personally vilified in this manner.”
Msgr. Robert Ritchie told the Daily News yesterday that the letter was poorly timed, ill-advised, and showing lack of respect for the archbishop. He said he disagreed with its contents.
According to Kevin Knight’s Blog at New Advent.com, a source at the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops said the Holy See is watching the case very closely, but will not be affected by an anonymous and uncharitable letter from an unknown writer or group of writers.
The source told Knight that the Vatican wants to leave “no doubt in the minds of the faithful that the Holy Father is sovereign in the appointment and removal of bishops.”
However, the source also suggested that the priests’ effort would backfire. “They will not attain what they’re trying to accomplish. If they did, it would set a harmful precedent, and the door would be opened to all sorts of groups trying to pressure the removal of unpopular bishops.”
The letter, he said, would be “treated like it doesn’t exist.”
The Priest Council meeting, originally scheduled for the morning, was moved to 1 p.m. after the family of a well-known archdiocesan priest requested a morning funeral in Westchester County. The archdiocese clarified yesterday that the meeting was scheduled prior to the funeral’s announcement. Several media sources had reported that the cardinal scheduled the meeting atop the funeral.
, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York, yesterday addressed the sixth committee, of the 61st U.N. General Assembly, which is discussing measures to eliminate international terrorism. The archbishop noted the importance of balancing terrorism prevention with human rights protection.
Noting the worldwide presence of terrorism, Migliore said that, “Because the stakes are so high and concern us all, there is hardly any need to illustrate the importance of an internationally binding Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.”
“My delegation believes,” the Papal representative added, “that in the debate aimed at adopting a Convention, it is fundamental to affirm from the very outset that effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting goals.”
Counter-terrorism he noted, should serve the protection of human rights, “because the protection of human rights is the primary objective of any counter-terrorism strategy.”
“The absolute unacceptability of terrorism lies precisely in the fact that it uses innocent people as means to obtain its ends, thus showing contempt and utter disregard for human life and dignity. This disregard for life reaches the point of cynically using innocent individuals and entire populations as human shields to hide and protect terrorists and their weapons,” Archbishop Migliore said.
“Moreover, counter-terrorism strategy must not sacrifice fundamental human rights in the name of security. Rather, it must refrain from selective implementation of measures; otherwise, it would corrode the very values that it intends to protect, alienate large parts of the world population and diminish the moral strength of such a strategy.” Archbishop Migliore said the international community must avoid actions which violate human rights and which could, “dignify in the eyes of some the grievances they claim justify their aberrant behavior.”
“Not even the terrorists' contempt for human life and dignity can justify denying them treatment according to international humanitarian and human rights norms,” he continued.
“Because legality and juridical certainty are at the core of the defense of human rights, the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism should make clear that no cause, no matter how just, can excuse or legitimize the deliberate killing or maiming of civilian populations,” the archbishop said.
In combating terrorism, the archbishop pointed out, it is necessary to recognize the cultural aspect of the battle. “Terrorism is a cultural manifestation - in the sense of being anti-culture and anti-civilization - of warped perceptions of reality, of xenophobic complexes, of contempt for the other, of seeing the other as a threat, of cynical abuse of religion.”
“Faced with such a phenomenon,” Migliore emphasized, “legal measures and arms are not sufficient; we must respond also with cultural instruments capable of convincing that non-violent alternatives to redress genuine grievances exist.”
Past success against terrorist organizations, he said, demonstrates, “that the fight against terrorism must include a courageous and resolute political, diplomatic, and economic commitment to relieve situations of oppression and marginalization which facilitate the designs of terrorists.”
“It is widely recognized that the recruitment of terrorists is easier in situations where rights are trampled and injustices tolerated over extended periods of time. Still, it must be firmly stated that the injustices existing in the world can never be used to excuse acts of terrorism, and it should be noted that the victims of the radical breakdown of order which terrorism seeks to achieve include above all the countless millions of men and women who are least able to withstand a collapse of international solidarity. The terrorist’s claim to be acting on behalf of the poor is a patent falsehood,” the archbishop said.
Echoing the words of Pope Benedict XVI, Migliore concluded by noting the role interreligious dialogue must play in the struggle against terrorism. “In particular,” he said, “religions and interreligious dialogue have a fundamental role to play in contrasting the terrorists’ preaching of hate and violence as antithetical to authentic religion, in promoting a culture of peace and mutual respect, and in helping people with grievances to opt for non-violent means. This grave duty falls upon religions, but States and the family of nations can help by fostering an environment in which religions and interfaith dialogue can flourish.”
Chicago, Ill., Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - Catholics must form their consciences according to the social teaching of the Church and use that formation to make political choices, said Cardinal Francis George in his weekly column, published in his archdiocese’s “Catholic New World.”
“Conscience is not an excuse for doing something irrational,” the cardinal wrote in his column titled “Religion, reason, voting” just weeks before an election.
The cardinal-archbishop of Chicago noted that the dialogue between faith and reason in the United States becomes focused every couple of years during voting time.
He acknowledged that making political decision based on a conscience formed in Catholic social teaching “is not easy, because principles are clear but practice often is clouded by confusion of fact and the distraction of various forms of self-interest.”
Referring to “The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church,” published by the Holy See in 2004, the cardinal stressed the importance of the dignity of every person and the right to life as the first and most essential principle of Catholic social teaching. “This is a non-negotiable principle that is supported by our beliefs but is logically independent of our faith,” he said.
He also described a Catholic politician, who excuses his or her decision to allow the killing of the unborn and of others who can’t protect themselves because he or she doesn’t want to “impose Catholic doctrine on others” as “intellectually dishonest.”
“Our present legal system protects stocks and bonds, as well as dogs and cats, more than it protects unborn human beings. This is contrary to the common good,” he stated.
The cardinal also announced that the Catholic Bishops of Illinois have published a short statement on elections, conscience, and the responsibility to vote.
He described it as a resource for Catholics “who want to take seriously both their faith and their responsibility to the common good of our society.”
More information on Illinois bishops’ statement can be found at www.catholicconferenceofillinois.org
Konigstein, Germany, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, the Sudanese Archbishop of Khartoum who’s people often call him “Father Courage,” has marked his silver jubilee by writing a moving testimony of his people’s struggle against oppression and poverty, Aid to the Church in Need has reported.
In his 25 years as Archbishop of Khartoum (he was appointed by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 10, 1981), Gabriel Cardinal Zubeir Wako has led the Christian faithful through the introduction of Islamic Shari‘a law, a bitter civil war, and a record-breaking migration of people desperate to escape famine and massacre.
Often helpless to defend his people, writing poems and letters for the faithful quickly became a trademark of the archbishop’s pastoral approach as he sought to bolster Christian faith and hope. And so, in customary fashion, Cardinal Zubeir has celebrated his silver jubilee by releasing a poem in which he charts his people’s long history of struggle against Islamic militants and economic disaster.
In the 44-line poem entitled ‘Your Wonders’, a copy of which was sent to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the Cardinal movingly recalls the surge of evacuees into Khartoum in the 1980s after the outbreak of war between the Khartoum government and rebels in the south.
The people’s suffering was so distressing to the then Archbishop Zubeir that he responded by setting up a program of schools and welfare support called “Save the Saveable” operating across the shanty towns. At its peak, “Save the Saveable” provided for up to 70,000 children – now there are at least half that number attending the schools.
The program, which receives key financial backing from ACN, has frequently incurred the wrath of Sudan’s Islamist regime, which has periodically and randomly demolished sections of the shanty towns and flattened nearby churches.
The cardinal’s silver jubilee poem comes at a time of uncertainty as many of the refugees who came to Khartoum to escape the violence in the south have begun to return to help rebuild their homes after a generation of war. The movement of refugees back to southern Sudan follows the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Accord between the Khartoum government and the rebels – the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army/Movement.
Warsaw, Poland, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - On October 16, the 28th anniversary of the election to the papacy of the Servant of God, John Paul II, the Central Bank of Poland put into circulation a new bill featuring the image of the late Pontiff.
The front side of the bill features a background with a map of the world, overlaid with an image of Pope John Paul II imparting a blessing and the dates of his pontificate, October 16, 1978 to April 2, 2005. The backside features an image of Pope John Paul II embracing Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski during the papal installation of 1978.
The bill also features two watermarks, one of the symbols of the Vatican and the other of the pontifical insignia of Pope John Paul II.
The artwork on the bill was designed by Polish artist Andrzej Heidrich, who consulted with the late pontiff’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, and others.
Two million copies of the bill, which are valued at 13 euros each, were issued.
Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - A Protestant minister was shot dead on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island, where tension between Christians and Muslims have been mounting since the execution of three Catholic men, whom supporters say were innocent.
The three men were found guilty of inciting attacks against Muslims in 2000. The BBC reports that there has been sporadic violence on the island since the executions.
Rev. Irianto Kongkoli was shot in the head while shopping for construction materials in Palu, the capital of Central Sulawesi province.
According to a Reuters report, the cleric had finished bargaining for some tiles when someone called him back into the store. When he entered, two shots were fired at the back of his head.
Central Sulawesi governor Bandjela Paliudju told reporters he believes the killing may have been linked to last month's executions. Kongkoli was known to be outspoken and to have led Christian protests against the executions.
A police investigation is underway.
Tegucigalpa, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - The Unification Church, founded by cult leader Sun Myung Moon, has issued an award through one of its shadow organizations to Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez of Honduras, who immediately said he would not accept it.
According to the Honduran daily “La Prensa,” the sect selected Cardinal Maradiaga as “ambassador of peace” and sought to organize an elaborate ceremony at a hotel in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa.
Auxiliary Bishop Juan Jose Pineda told reporters the cardinal rejected the award because of its connection with the Moon sect.
The Unification Church is the same sect that has ensnared the former African Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who has been excommunicated and is promoting the abolition of priestly celibacy.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of the Dominican Republic and Archbishop of Santiago, Ramon Benito de la Rosa y Carpio, encouraged the faithful this week to express their love for neighbor by considering organ donation, which he said is “a noble and meritorious act.”
During a lecture entitled “Life, Donation of Love,” at the Madre y Maestra Catholic Pontifical University, the archbishop recalled that “the Church favors anything that benefits the heath of the human person, and thus she approves of organ transplants as a gesture of life.”
He explained that in order for organ donation to be ethical, certain conditions should be met and they must be done “in accord with the moral law, that is, in accord with human dignity and the gift of life.”
Nevertheless, he warned that organ donation is “morally inadmissible” if it takes place without the consent of the donor or his representatives. It is also invalid if “it leaves the donor handicapped or directly provokes his death, even though the intention is to postpone the death of the recipient,” he said.
“The donation of organs after death is a noble and meritorious act that should be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity,” the archbishop stated.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 17, 2006 (CNA) - The organization We Choose Life announced this week a massive pro-life march will take place on November 4 in the city of La Plata, in support of efforts to defend life in all circumstances.
We Choose Life is pro-life organization made up of representatives of various organizations in Argentina, including Catholic Action, the Boy Scouts of Argentina, and parish and youth movements.
According to Enrique Foresi, one of the organizers of the march, “What we want is to give society an opportunity to express its choice for life. “We Choose Life has no coordinator, but instead is made up of the leaders of various groups who get together three or four times a year for different activities, after which each one returns to his own charism and activities.”
“Our work is done by the laity,” Foresi added, “showing that we can defend life not only on the basis of our faith but also from a natural point of view. Our plan is for people of other religions or who are not believers, but who defend life, to join us in this common cause.”
More information about We Choose Life is available on their website at