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Archive of January 31, 2007

Sanctity does not mean never having sinned, Pope Benedict reminds

Vatican City, Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - In today's general audience Benedict XVI resumed his catechesis on outstanding figures of the early Church, concentrating on the three principal collaborators of St. Paul: Barnabas, Silas and Apollos. The Holy Father pointed out for the six thousand people gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, the example St. Paul provides for Christian collaboration in the field of ministry as well as for the necessity of continuous conversion, since “Sanctity grows in the capacity for conversion and penance.”
 
"We must recognize," the Pope began, "that the Apostle was an eloquent example of a man open to collaboration: in the Church he did not want to do everything by himself, but made use of many different colleagues."
 
Barnabas "was one of the first to embrace Christianity," the Pope explained, "and it was he who guaranteed the sincerity of Paul's conversion before the Christian community of Jerusalem, which still distrusted its one-time persecutor."

The Holy Father also recalled how Barnabas had participated in the Council of Jerusalem, at which it was decided "to distinguish the practice of circumcision from Christian identity."

However, he noted, Paul and Barnabas "fell into disagreement at the beginning of the second missionary journey because Barnabas wanted to bring along the young John Mark, and Paul did not."
 
"Even among saints differences, discord and controversies arise," commented the Holy Father. "And I find this a consolation because we see that saints have not 'come down from heaven.' They are people like us, with problems, even complicated problems. Sanctity does not consist in never having made mistakes or sinned. Sanctity grows in the capacity for conversion and penance, of willingness to start again and, above all, in the capacity for reconciliation and forgiveness."
 
Silas, also known as Silvanus, communicated the decisions of the Council of Jerusalem to the Christians of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. "Evidently he was held to be capable of mediating between ... Jewish Christians and Christians of pagan origin, thus serving the unity of the Church in the diversity of her rites and origins."
 
Apollos was a "cultured man well-versed in the Scriptures," the Pope continued. He preached in Ephesus and also in Corinth where, however, his success "had problematic overtones because some members of the Church there, fascinated by his oratory, in his name set themselves against the others."

"Paul expresses appreciation for Apollos activities but reprimands the Corinthians for being divided. He draws an important lesson from the whole affair: Both I and Apollos, he writes, are no more ... than simple ministers, through whom you have come to the faith.  All have different tasks in the field of the Lord."
 
The Holy Father concluded: "These words are still valid for everyone today, for Popes, for cardinals, bishops, priests and lay people. We are all humble ministers of Jesus. We serve the Gospel to the extent that we can, according to our gifts, and we pray to God that He may make His Gospel and His Church grow today."

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New Toronto Archbishop calls Canadians to keep eyes on heaven through work on earth

Toronto, Canada, Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - The new archbishop of Canada’s largest diocese was installed yesterday at St. Michael’s Cathedral in downtown Toronto, reminding the faithful that life in this world is aimed at the reality of heaven, the “New Jerusalem,” but that all Christians can work towards creating the Kingdom of God on earth.

Archbishop Thomas Collins, 60, succeeds Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, 76, who retired after reaching the canonical age of retirement.  Archbishop Collins presided at his own installation mass, attended by more than 50 bishops, 300 priests and 1,000 faithful.

Archbishop Luigi Ventura, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, also attended the mass. The primate of Canada, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, and the archbishop of Montreal, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, were also present.

Cardinal Ambrozic offered a few remarks, thanking Toronto’s Catholic community and wishing his successor well.

Archbishop Collins recalled in his homily, that the present world draws its meaning from a greater World.  The image of the New Jerusalem, the City of God, gives us insight into that greater world, he said.

However, he noted, “As we disciples of Jesus confront this world of violence and of all too frequent disregard for the dignity of the human person, the New Jerusalem is not, however, simply a future goal.”

“To the degree that we love God and love neighbor, and act with integrity as disciples of Jesus, to that degree the New Jerusalem is already present, as it will be in its fullness at the end of time. Heaven begins on earth, in our daily lives, when we live in generous love, in the image of the Blessed Trinity, in the imitation of Christ.”

The archbishop challenged his people to choose the path of heaven by acting in a social just manner, participating in the life of the Church, participating in civil life, and entering worthily into the Divine Liturgy.

Archbishop Collins was appointed to Toronto on Dec. 16. He comes to the archdiocese after serving as Archbishop of Edmonton for seven years. Edmonton has about 350,000 Catholics—very few compared with Toronto’s 1.6 million.

Archbishop Collins was born in Hamilton, Ont. He studied theology in London, Ont., and in Rome at the prestigious Pontifical Gregorian University. He was ordained a priest in 1973 for the Diocese of Hamilton, and went on to serve in various posts, including rector of St. Peter Seminary in London, Ont., where he had studied.

In 1997, he was made an auxiliary bishop. He was appointed Archbishop of Edmonton in 1999.

Archbishop Collins is the 12th ordinary to lead Toronto since the diocese was established in 1841.

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Students celebrate Catholic Schools Week on Capitol Hill

Washington D.C., Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - As the nation’s nearly 8,000 Catholic school students celebrate Catholic Schools Week a small delegation is visiting the U.S. Capitol to spread the “good news” about Catholic Education.

“Catholic Schools do good work all year around. But during this week we want to focus everyone’s attention on the fact that Catholic schools are good news,” said Karen Ristau, President of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). “In addition to learning reading, writing and arithmetic, students also learn responsibility—and how to become persons of character and integrity.”

A delegation of more than 150 Catholic school students, teachers and parents visited Capitol Hill today to mark National Appreciation Day for Catholic Schools and to meet with congressional leaders to showcase the great accomplishments and contributions of Catholic schools.

The delegation will hand-deliver letters from chief administrators of Catholic education to their representatives and a background package on Catholic schools to every congressional office.

Schools in other parts of the country are encouraged to carry their message of good news to local and state officials.

“High achievement rates, high retention rates, high moral values and high student and parent satisfaction are the distinctive marks of a Catholic school,” said Fr. William Davis of the USCCB. “That’s the good news and we want to share it.”
 
Catholic Schools Week is organized by the National Marketing Campaign for Catholic Schools, a joint project of the NCEA and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: the Good News in Education.”

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Italian Bishops blast law on unwed couples

Rome, Italy, Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - The Italian Catholic bishops have voiced their opposition to a plan to present legislation in Italian Parliament that would give cohabiting and same-sex couples the same legal rights as married couples.

"Other forms of cohabitation cannot be put on the same level as a family based on marriage between a man and woman. They cannot be given legal recognition," the bishops said in a statement Tuesday.

According to ANSA, Bishop Giuseppe Betori, head of the bishops' conference, said the legislation would be "superfluous" because existing law already provides adequate guarantees. He said any “gaps or problems can be resolved through modifications of civil law.”

Premier Romano Prodi's center-left had intentions of proposing the bill today, but allies have been unable to come to an agreement. A motion is expected to be passed, extending the deadline for another two weeks.

The law would allow these couples the same legal rights of legal marriage but stop short of legalizing same-sex marriages.

The Udeur Party and Catholics on both sides of the political divide have opposed the legislation from the start, arguing that it would undermine the traditional family based on marriage.

The number of cohabiting couples in Italy has doubled between 1994 and 2003, from 227,000 to 555,000.

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Colorado Congresswoman to force embryonic stem cell research bill on Bush

Washington D.C., Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - If President George Bush follows through on his promise and issues a second veto of a measure legalizing public funding of embryonic stem cell research, Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette said she would attach the bill to important legislation the president must sign.

The Colorado Congresswoman said she may amend another bill to include the embryonic stem cell research funding, forcing the president to perhaps veto an otherwise non-controversial measure as a result, reported LifeNews.com. Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, promised to do the same two weeks ago.

The House of Representatives approved the bill, 253-174, two weeks ago and the Senate is expected to approve it as well. However, the House vote was well short of the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of National Right to Life, told LifeNews.com that this strategy would not work because Bush would still veto the bill.

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research are hoping the Senate will try to override the veto because it likely has enough votes to do so. If the Senate succeeds at this, they hope it would put more pressure on House members to override the president.

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Pope Benedict’s “love letter” continues to sell out

Rome, Italy, Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - Its been just over a year since its release, yet Pope Benedict XVI's first Encyclical letter continues to be a best seller.  According to the Rome-based ANSA news agency the Pontiff’s profound discussion of human and divine love is proving to be one of the most commercially successful doctrinal tracts ever written by a Pope.

The 72-page document, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), has been reprinted three times in the German Pope's own language, three times in Spanish and sold almost 1.5 million copies in Italian.

Its success has also meant that, for the first time in modern history, the Latin version of a papal document has had to be reprinted. The initial run of 1,000 copies sold out in two months.

"Even now, a year after its publication, we're still shifting a few copies every day in the various languages," Claudio Rossini, director of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana bookshop next to St Peter's Square told ANSA.

Some attribute the success of the Pope’s letter to the fact that it is his first, coupled with his reputation as a scholar and Theological expert.  But, Prof. Ilaria Morali, who teaches dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, believes the subject matter of the encyclical has also played a role.

"Love is something that everyone is interested in. People know that here at least the subject will not be treated lightly or in a banal way," she said.

In the letter, Pope Benedict reflects upon the concepts of eros, agape, and philia - the three ancient classifications of love - and their relationship with the teachings of Jesus.  The Holy Father calls all men and women to seek the divine origins of each type of love.

“I wanted here,” the Pope says in the document, “to clarify some essential facts concerning the love which God mysteriously and gratuitously offers to man, together with the intrinsic link between that Love and the reality of human love.”

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Murder of Archbishop Duarte result of pact between rival drug lords and guerrilla movements

, Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - The late Archbishop Isaias Duarte Cancino of Cali, Colombia, died as a result of an unusual conspiracy between drug lords, Marxist rebels, and paramilitary groups.  That was the revelation made this week by Bishop Julio Cesar Vidal Ortiz of Monteria, who said he received the information directly - outside the seal of confession - from the assassinated paramilitary leader Carlos Castano Gil, just after the killing of the archbishop.

Archbishop Duarte Cancino, who was gunned down on March 19, 2002, was known for his passionate pastoral approach to reconciliation in the region.  However, he never shied away from denouncing corruption and drug trafficking, which he always referred to as “a cancer.”  The archbishop’s denunciation of such activities continued despite constant death threats from the different rebel groups financed by drug lords and from the drug traffickers themselves.

One month after the crime, Carlos Castano, leader of the “Self-Defense” forces - currently involved in a complex process of demilitarization - posted a statement on the website of his organization saying the perpetrators of the assassination of Archbishop Duarte Cancino were leaders of the Marxist rebel group “Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC).”  The hit, Castano said, was especially desired by the leader known as “Pablo Catatumbo,” one of the most sinister figures of the Colombian guerrilla movements, and “of a drug trafficking group that protects corrupt politicians.”
 
Nevertheless, according to Bishop Vidal Ortiz, Castano himself admitted that elements of his own organization, which is a rival of the FARC, also participated in the conspiracy.

In statements to local reporters, the bishop took the opportunity to denounce the nature of the armed conflict in Colombia, “in which Marxist ideologies and their archrivals join together to defend their business, that of cocaine.”

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Nicaragua’s First Lady gives assurance that "therapeutic" abortion will remain illegal

Managua, Nicaragua, Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - Speaking to reporters this week, Nicaragua’s First Lady and Communications Coordinator, Rosario Murillo, said the government intends to respect and follow the country’s Penal Code, which outlaws so-called therapeutic abortion.

According to the newspaper “El Nuevo Diario,” during a tour of several schools with her husband, Murillo reiterated that “as Communications Coordinator I can say that the [government of Nicaragua] embraces the basic commitment to follow the laws.  The laws are there and we are going to respect them and follow them.”

“We are not going beyond the bounds of the law, we are not breaking any commitment, quite the contrary, we are committed to every element of our agenda just as we presented it during the election campaign,” he stated.

Sandinista lawmaker Gustavo Porras, president of the Nicaraguan Congressional Health Care Committee, said an amendment allowing for exceptions could be passed.

But pro-life leader Rafael Cabrera Artola said he was confident the government would respect the law prohibiting therapeutic abortion.

“Even First Lady Rosario Murillo has said she is pro-life and I don’t think they decision that has been made will be changed,” Cabrera stated.

Cabrera has said the rejection of therapeutic abortion is based on sound scientific, legal, ethical and anthropological grounds.

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Chilean President authorizes sale of morning after pill to 14 year-olds

Santiago, Chile, Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, has signed an order authorizing the free distribution of the morning after pill in public health centers, making it available even to 14 year-olds without parental consent.

Paulina Veloso, a top administration official, told reporters the decree was signed by Bachelet, despite the strong opposition of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, pro-life groups, and pro-life lawmakers.

Bachelet’s order came after Chile’s high court prohibited the pill from being distributed free-of-charge by the Ministry of Health, saying it did not have the authority to regulate the distribution.

In response to the court’s ruling, Ricardo Lagos Weber, another top official in the Bachelet administration, announced that in January the president would sign an order authorizing the same proposal originally put forth by the Ministry of Health in order to re-instate the distribution of the abortion pill.

Recently the Chilean bishops denounced the government’s tactics as reminiscent of “totalitarian regimes” that use the power of the State to control the private lives of people and that are “at odds with respect for the dignity of the human person.”

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Pope could preside at Beatifications during visit to Brazil in May

Vatican City, Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI, who is scheduled to visit Brazil May 9-13 for the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, could beatify four Brazilian Servants of God, according to media sources in Rome.

In statements to the I-Media Catholic news agency, an official of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Father Jose Luis Gomez Guiterrez, said, “The decision to celebrate the beatification during the Pope’s visit to Brazil has already been made.  But the details have not yet been ironed out.”

Among the new Blesseds will be Brother Emanuele Gomez Gonzalez of Spain and Adilio Daronch, a young Brazilian, who were killed for their religious beliefs on May 21, 1924, in the Brazilian rain forest.

Also among the candidates for beatification is Albertina Berkenbrock, known as the “Maria Goretti of Brazil,” who was born on April 11, 1919, in Sao Luis and was murdered on June 15, 1931, at the age of 12 as she defended her purity.

The fourth new blessed will be Sister Lindalva Justo de Oliveira of the Society of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, who was born on October 20, 1953, and died for the faith on April 9, 1993, in Sao Salvador de Bahia.

On December 16 of last year, Pope Benedict approved the decrees of Beatification presented by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

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Pope’s UN Rep. stresses need to convert hearts for peace

Geneva, Ill., Jan 31, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations at Geneva led an Inter-Religious Service for Peace on at the organization Tuesday evening.  The archbishop told those gathered that the struggle to bring peace in an evermore complex and violent world must begin at the heart of every individual.

Tomasi insisted to the various national representatives and faith leaders gathered, that despite differences in religious and cultural backgrounds, they can have confidence that peace is an achievable goal, “deeply rooted in the core-values and insights shared by all faith traditions that God our Creator has endowed each person with an inalienable dignity and thus given us equality of rights and duties and established and unbreakable solidarity among all women and men.”

Despite the daily work of UN members towards a better world, the archbishop recalled, “we are not naïve. The phenomenon of violence has become increasingly complex in the 21st century and it poses unprecedented challenges to the international community.”

“The work for peace,” he said, “implies now closing the gap between the rich and the poor; putting an end to civil wars, to terrorism, and all armed conflicts; stopping a revived arms race and the proliferation of a variety of weapons; rejecting the glorification of violence in the media.”

“It is a difficult moment but we know ‘there is a moral logic which is built into human life and which makes possible dialogue between individuals and peoples.’

“The search for peace,” he emphasized, “begins in the heart of every individual and moves forward to countries and to the international community, an orderly process founded on the respect of the person, the right to life and religious freedom, the free exercise of basic human rights, the elimination of unjust inequalities.”

True peace goes beyond mere tolerance to a culture of respect and justice, the archbishop added.   Tolerance is “a kind of passive acceptance of others imposed by law, a first step for sure but without personal involvement.”

Instead, there must be a culture of respect, he said, one which “looks at others as partners in the same humanity, children of the same creator, with the same aspirations for a happy and peaceful life, even though the way may be different.”

And, Tomasi added, “the process that goes from tolerance to respect and justice reaches its perfection when it discovers ‘that the highest vocation of every person is love.’ In this realization, ‘we can find the ultimate reason for becoming staunch champions of human dignity and courageous builders of peace.’”

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