Rome, Italy, Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI spoke this morning at the Pontifical Gregorian University, which was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola and is considered the mother of the Jesuit order’s extensive system of universities. The Holy Father reminded students, faculty, and benefactors of the university that the fundamental questions of mankind cannot be answered without God.
Upon arriving at the university, which stands near Rome’s Trevi Fountain, Pope Benedict went immediately to the school’s chapel. The Holy Father spent some time in prayer before moving to the university’s central courtyard and greeting the waiting crowd.
The Pope reminded professors and students that "the effort of study and teaching, in order to be meaningful with regard to the Kingdom of God, must be supported by the theological virtues. The immediate objective of theological science, in its various aspects, is God Who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, God with a human face."
"Today," he continued, "we cannot fail to take account of the confrontation with secular culture, which in many parts of the world tends ... not only to deny all signs of God's presence in the life of society and of individuals, but, with various means that disorient and confuse man's correct understanding, seeks to undermine his capacity to listen to God.”
Other human sciences such as psychology, social science and communications, "precisely because they concern human beings, cannot omit a reference to God. Indeed, man, both in his interior and exterior aspects, cannot be fully understood if he is not recognized as being open to transcendence."
"Deprived of his reference to God, man cannot respond to the fundamental questions that disturb, and always will disturb, his heart; questions that concern the aim and, hence, the meaning of existence,” the Pope said. “Man's destiny, without reference to God, cannot but be the desolation of anguish that leads to desperation. Only with reference to God-Love, revealed in Jesus Christ, can man discover the meaning of his life, and live in hope, even while experiencing the evils that injure his personal life and the society in which he lives. Hope ensures that man does not close himself in a stagnant and sterile nihilism, but opens himself to generous commitment in the society in which he lives in order to improve it."
Pope Benedict also addressed the need for interreligious dialogue, noting that dialogue does not mean compromising one’s own faith. We cannot, “ignore relations with other religions." But, he said, such relations "are constructive only if they avoid all ambiguities that in any way weaken the essential contents of Christian faith in Christ, the only Savior of all mankind, and in the Church, a necessary sacrament for the salvation of all humanity."
The Holy Father spoke of that fact that Jesuit education has always placed a strong focus on the formation of the whole person and noted how the university's statutes and general regulations are currently being renewed, in order, he said, "to define the identity of the Gregorian University more clearly, facilitating the preparation of the most appropriate academic programs for carrying out its mission."
"As an ecclesial pontifical university, this academic institution is committed to 'sentire in Ecclesia et cum Ecclesia.' This is a commitment that arises from love for the Church, our Mother and Bride of Christ."
Newark, N.J., Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, New Jersey has issued a letter in response to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision on homosexual marriages. Myers called the court’s ruling, which declared that the state’s legislature must pass laws granting all the rights and privileges of marriage to homosexual couples, “a terrible blow to the institution of marriage and the family, to the principles of democratic self-government and religious freedom, and to child well-being in our state.”
The decision in the case of Lewis v. Harris, Archbishop Myers said, “seeks to force the state to treat as marriages or the equivalent of marriages forms of sexual association that are inherently non-marital.”
The court’s 4-3 decision went against two lower courts and sided with seven homosexual couples who were refused marriage licenses and alleged that this violated the New Jersey state constitution. The decision stated that, “there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage,” but that, "the Legislature must either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or create a parallel statutory structure, which will provide for, on equal terms, the rights and benefits enjoyed and burdens and obligations borne by married couples."
“In seeking to abolish the historic conjugal conception of marriage as the union of one man and one woman—leaving to the legislature the possibility of reserving the word ‘marriage’ to male-female unions, but prohibiting it from preserving the substance of marriage as a conjugal union—the justices have dealt a terrible blow to the institution of marriage and the family, to the principles of democratic self-government and religious freedom, and to child well-being in our state,” the archbishop said.
Myers pointed out that New Jersey, like all states, has recognized, honored, and sought to support and protect marriage from the start. But, he said, “marriage is not the creation of any state.” Nor is it, “the creation of any religious community—including the Catholic Church…This is why believers (from many diverse communities) and non-believers alike can understand and affirm the nature of the marital good and its centrality in a well ordered society,” the archbishop offered.
“Even if marriage was a type of institution that could be redefined,” the Myers continued, “it would not be up to a court to decide whether to redefine it. It is up to the people, working through the constitutionally established institutions of democratic deliberation, to settle such matters.”
The New Jersey prelate noted that once marriage is redefined, those who stand for their beliefs will continue to be discounted and even persecuted. “Anyone who teaches - or preaches - that marriage is an exclusive union of one man and one woman will be labeled a bigot. Anyone who teaches - or preaches - that sexual relations outside of marriage are sinful will be accused of intolerance. Anyone who teaches - or preaches - that sexual relations between a man and a man or a woman and a woman are morally wrong will be charged with prejudice. Anyone who teaches - or preaches - that children need a mom and a dad, and that two moms or two dads are not the same will be marginalized as an enemy of equality.”
“And everyone knows what will soon follow: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other religious communities will come under intense political pressure and legal attack. By standing by their principled beliefs regarding marriage and sexual morality, they will be rendered vulnerable to laws prohibiting what advocates of sexual liberation and same-sex ‘marriage’ will insist is ‘discrimination.’…As one legal scholar who advocates same-sex ‘marriage’ bluntly put it, religious liberty and sexual freedom will clash, and religious liberty will usually have to lose,” Archbishop Myers said.
“Lastly - and most importantly,” the archbishop noted, “the decision by the State Supreme Court is a blow to the interests of children, especially those already the least well off…a Child Trends research brief put the matter in plain English: ‘Research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps the most is a family headed by two-biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families, children born to unmarried mothers, and children in stepfamilies or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes... There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.’”
Archbishop Myers said he fully supports a federal amendment to protect marriage and called on all people of New Jersey to vote for an amendment to the state constitution. “For the common good of our state, I ask Catholics to join hands with Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christians, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and people of other traditions of faith to work together to amend our state constitution to reverse this damaging decision.”
Istanbul, Turkey, Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - A young man was arrested yesterday after firing three shots into the air in front of the Italian consulate in Istanbul in protest of Pope Benedict's scheduled visit to Turkey later this month. Ibrahim Ak, 26, was immediately arrested.
"I did what every Muslim has to do. God willing, the Pope will not come to Turkey, but if he does he will see what will happen to him," Ak was quoted as saying by the DHA news agency, while he was sitting in a police car after his detainment.
Turkish police sources told Italian news organization ANSA that the gunman said during his interrogation: "I would kill the Pope with my own hands if I could. I hope that after what I did today, others will protest as well.”
The man reportedly told police that he acted alone and that he was not a member of a fundamentalist group.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told Reuters that this “isolated incident” has not affected preparations for the Pope’s trip, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1.
The main purpose of the Pope’s trip is to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, head of the world's Orthodox Christians. However, the visit has stirred controversy and some Muslims in the country, angered by the Pope’s September lecture in which he cited a 14th-century emperor who was critical of Islam, have said the Pope should not visit Turkey.
In what some Vatican observers are considering a diplomatic snub, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan announced this week he would not meet with the Pope, choosing instead to attend a NATO meeting in Estonia, which is being held at that time. The Vatican, however, is downplaying the prime minister’s decision, saying they knew a meeting might not be possible from the start.
Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981 and is currently serving a jail sentence in Istanbul for murder and robbery, offered warnings through his lawyer that the Pope should not visit the Muslim country, in September.
Violence against Roman Catholic clergy in Turkey had risen in the past year, even prior to the Pope’s remarks. In the most serious incident, a youth shot dead an Italian priest while he prayed in his church in the Black Sea port of Trabzon. A French priest survived a knife attack in Samsun, also on the Black Sea, and a Slovenian Franciscan friar received death threats.
Naples, Fla., Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - A young Italian man cured of lung cancer has attributed his full recovery to the miraculous intervention of the late Pope John Paul II.
The man from Salerno, located south of Naples, was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. According to Thursday’s edition of Il Mattino, his wife prayed for John Paul’s intercession, and the dead Pope reportedly appeared in a dream to her and reassured her that her husband would be fine.
A few days after the dream, doctors noticed the man's condition improve. Within weeks, his cancer had completely disappeared, doctors said. The cancer has not returned.
Archbishop Gerardo Pierroof Salerno told Il Mattino he was confident that a miracle had taken place. The diocese is currently looking into the case.
Vatican officials are already working for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Information continues to be gathered on John Paul's life and teachings, including all private writings from the period before he became Pope, to determine whether he demonstrated “heroic virtues.” Once this has been established, a miracle is required for beatification. A second miracle is required for canonization.
Numerous reports have poured into the Vatican of alleged miracles attributable to him, including the case of a French nun who was reportedly cured of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease after praying for his intercession.
, Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - In comments offered Thursday, regarding the United Nation’s Report on Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations, noted the ultimate importance of a separate Palestinian state for creating peace not only in the Middle East, but around the world.
The nuncio told members of the 61st session of the U.N. General Assembly that the core issues of Israeli-Palestinian relations must be addressed before lasting peace and justice can be reached in the region.
“Each year at this meeting we recite the seemingly endless list of difficulties and differences separating Israelis and Palestinians, but they are differences which make it all the more urgent for states to address the problem of the fundamental injustice at the heart of this question. To make a litany of symptoms without addressing the root cause is hardly helpful to either party,” he offered.
In fact, the archbishop continued, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is central to instability throughout the Middle East. “This is why my delegation remains convinced of the two state solution as the basis for the resolution of the crisis, which would permit Israelis to live in security in their own land and Palestinians to live safely in a viable state of their own,” Migliore said.
“It is a sad fact that the international community has failed to engage the Israelis and Palestinians in significant and substantive dialogue along with dispute resolution in order to bring stability and peace to both. It falls squarely upon the international community to use its good offices to facilitate with all speed a rapprochement between the two sides,” the archbishop implored. “Evidently, those brokering the negotiations will have to maintain a balanced approach, avoiding the imposition of preconditions on either side.”
“Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the key to a series of questions affecting the whole Middle East, without going into the consequences for the wider world,” he concluded.
Archbishop Migliore also noted the importance of securing Jerusalem from increasing violence.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Baldomero Carlos Martini of San Justo called on Argentinean senators this week not to ratify the controversial and pro-abortion Protocol of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Acquiescing to its recommendations in favor of abortion would mean Argentina would lose its sovereignty and become subject to the “whims” of ideologically-driven organizations, the bishop said.
Bishop Martini sent a letter to the Vice President of Argentina, Daniel Scioli, who presides over the Senate, arguing that there is no political or juridical need to ratify the Protocol. Argentinean President Nestor Kirschner has said he backs unconditional ratification.
The bishop called the UN Convention a “sort of ‘refuge’ for pro-abortion ideologues” and that ratification of the Protocol would mean the loss of sovereignty for the country. “Perhaps that is one of the goals of the current administration,” Bishop Martini questioned, noting the World Monetary Fund’s offer to cancel some of the country’s debt points to such a conclusion.
The bishop called on members of the Senate to be concerned for “the common good, which is the good of all Argentineans and of all people of good will who reside in our country.”
The UN created the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and left it to each country to ratify the protocol. Due to the markedly pro-abortion and feminist leaning of the international organism, numerous pro-life organizations have pressured their respective countries to abstain from ratification.
Vatican City, Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will meet with Pope Benedict XVI on Nov. 23 to mark the 40th anniversary of a landmark visit to Rome by the former head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Archbishop Michael Ramsay.
Archbishop Williams said the visit would allow the “opportunity to pursue the rich tradition of exchange between Canterbury and Rome” and to reflect on the last 40 years as well as on future relations.
The meeting will take place as tensions between the two churches have increased recently, due to the decision by some elements of the Anglican Communion to approve openly homosexual and female bishops as well as same-sex unions. There had been disagreement previously regarding the Anglican Communion’s decision in 1994 to ordain women priests.
In June of this year several Catholic bishops, including the Church’s ecumenism chief Cardinal Walter Kasper, warned Williams that the attempt to ordain woman as bishops, would make unity “unreachable.”
San Diego, Calif., Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - A large number of students surprised pundits by voting in support of Proposition 85, the parental-notification-before-abortion measure, in an Oct. 24 mock election, sponsored by the California Secretary of State.
The measure would require doctors to notify a parent or guardian prior to carrying out an abortion on a minor.
The mock election included 235,547 at 545 middle and high schools across California, and it was held two weeks before the Nov. 7 ballot. The students’ ballot included the U.S. Senate race, the governor’s race, and all 13 state propositions.
While final results will be known today at 5 p.m., early counts showed more students (71,359) voted on Proposition 85 than on any of the other initiative and that it clung to a narrow lead: 50.01% yes, to 49.99% no.
A poll reported in the San Diego Union Tribune indicates that Proposition 85 is within striking distance of passage by Californians as a whole, with 46 percent voicing support and 43 percent opposed.
Officials at the Secretary of State’s office said Wednesday they had originally planned to cut off the counting in the student ballot on Oct. 31, but decided to extend the deadline until Friday “so that a few more schools could get their results in.” At press time, 377 of the 545 schools had their votes tallied.
Details of the student vote are available at: http://www.ss.ca.gov/elections/studentmockelection_06_results.htm.
Rome, Italy, Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - While the population of Christians in some Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon, is dropping at a dramatic rate, a few countries are experiencing an increase in Christian citizens.
Father Pierre Grech, general secretary of the Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions, has confirmed an increase in the number of Christians in the Middle East. “In Saudi Arabia alone, there are more than one million (Christians), especially from the Philippines, India, and Korea. In Kuwait there are more than 300,000 and more are coming. In Chipre we have opened a home for religious from Sri Lanka so that they can give a better reception to those who immigrate to the island,” Fr. Grech noted.
In an interview with the Italian news agency SIR, Father Grech said the matter was discussed at a recent gathering of the bishops conference. “We think the time has come for a new pastoral approach, designed to meet the needs and demands of these Catholics who are not from the Middle East,” he explained. “We are considering publishing a pastoral letter on immigrants, leaving it to the bishops to decide how to promote local initiatives in order to reach out to them. The immigration of Catholics is the new frontier of the churches in the Middle East,” he added.
But while many new Catholics are coming to the region, others are leaving. In these latter, Father Grech said, “We want to renew their sense of mission and help them rediscover their Christian identity.” The Conference of Latin Bishops, he added, is seeking to “promote prayer groups, lay communities dedicated to the study of the Bible and to education, as well as a plan to offer material help, including helping young couples to have homes and providing scholarships,” Father Grech said.
Quito, Ecuador, Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador, Bishop Nestor Herrera, has called on Ecuadorians to prevent a new anti-life law that would promote abortion and the morning-after pill from taking effect.
The new law obliges public and private healthcare facilities to offer abortions in certain cases, with no opt-out provision for doctors for reasons of conscience. It also allows the government go above the heads of parents and to develop policies and educational programs on sexual and reproductive health.
Bishop Herrera issued “a respectful but firm call on all institutions, families and Catholic persons to find the means to prevent this law from taking effect: it is an attack on the authority of parents, teachers, and doctors, and it promotes a culture of death and not of life.”
The law has been passed by Congress but could still be vetoed by Ecuador’s president, Alfredo Palacio.
Bogotá, Colombia, Nov 3, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Ramon Dario Molina of Neiva expressed disgust this week over a photographer who managed to sneak past security shoot photos of a nude model at the local Cathedral.
Bishop Molina said the photographer deserves to spend “a few hours in jail” for the stunt, which has caused outrage among the residents of Neiva in southern Colombia.
“It’s disrespectful. It merits at least a few hours in jail so they will learn their lesson,” he told reporters.
The photographer, identified as Reynel Llanos, chose the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Neiva to carry out the nude photo shoot for a magazine.
Although Llanos has apologized and said his “intention was not to offend anyone,” it is still not clear whether the pictures will be published.
Sneaking past security at the Cathedral, Llanos and his model climbed the stairs of the bell tower where Llanos shot the photos. They were discovered by other journalists who were reporting on an emergency drill at another building in the Cathedral plaza.