Vatican City, Mar 15, 2007 (CNA) - In the wake of the recent announcement of the April 2nd presentation of the diocesan phase of John Paul II’s cause for beatification, the late Pope’s former secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, revealed that in his judgment, the secret of the widespread devotion to him is the love he showed for man and for the infinite, as well as his love for the people.
“How can we explain these lines that form every day before the tomb of John Paul II. These people are not coming to visit a dead person, they are going to meet the Pope, to reflect more deeply on the message he left us, to take something of him,” the Cardinal said on Vatican Radio.
“If I could use one word: the secret of all of this is love, love that does not cease with death. This love has remained here. The love of the Pope for man: in man he always saw God; and love for the infinite. At the same time the love of the people for the Pope has also remained, especially the love of young people, whom he always loved. It’s a mystery, that’s how our faith is,” Cardinal Dziwisz said.
Asked if the spiritual dimension of John Paul II could be “the strongest character of his personality,” Cardinal Dziwisz responded, “Certainly. His great strength, and especially when his physical strength began to fail him, was his spiritual strength, a strength that came from his union with God. During his entire life he sought out God and had the great privilege of discovering in his life the value of prayer. I think that young people are looking for God, and they have found in him what mankind today is searching for, because he was full of God.”
“Today still we hear the cry that was made during his funeral: ‘Santo Subito’ (make him a saint soon),” the Cardinal noted. “The people do not want to forget him and they want to have him even closer, honored on the altar. This is truly a phenomenon that is clearly seen and does not cease.”
The current Archbishop of Krakow also recalled the heroic way in which John Paul II faced the suffering of his final years. “I was with him. He dedicated himself, he offered himself totally to others. But Providence had foreseen this Cross, which the Pope carried in an edifying way,” he said in conclusion.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 15, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Domingo Castagna of Corrientes warned this week of the constant danger of losing the sense of good and evil under the guise of modernizing traditional concepts, the genuineness of which should not be forgotten.
“Erasing humanity’s thousands of years of history or the Catholic Church’s twenty centuries in order to begin again is not progress. Only folly and pride can sustain such an idea,” the archbishop said in his weekly radio program.
He said it was tragic to see the advance of growing disagreement with Christian principles and the rejection of “fundamental values and of God.”
If one is sufficiently humble, the archbishop added, one can find the path to re-encounter God, as was the case with two prominent atheists: St. Edith Stein and Blessed Charles de Foucauld, whose “mysterious lives both ended in holiness.”
Madrid, Spain, Mar 15, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Santiago Garcia of Merida-Badajoz and Bishop Amadeo Rodriguez of Plasencia have strongly denounced the tax-payer funded publication of a catalogue containing pornographic images of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Saints.
Archbishop Garcia issued a statement on the publications called “Sanctorum” and “In Breeding” by photographer J.A.M Montoya and supported by officials in the region of Exremadura, saying they “profoundly and gravely harm the religious sentiments of Christians.”
The archbishop called it regrettable that local officials would support the publication of pornographic, insulting, and blasphemous images. “I wish to make known my radical disagreement and profound disgust for this inexcusable act that does not contribute in any way to the cultural enrichment of our people, the education of our young people, and the well-deserved positive image of Extremadura,” he stated.
Bishop Rodriguez issued his own statement condemning the publication as an offense against “the most beloved and sacred aspects of our Catholic religion, the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and his Most Holy Mother.”
He said that responsibility for the photos falls not only on their creator, “but also on those who promote them, who show them, and even those who use them for reasons unrelated to the faith.”
He called on Catholics and people of good will to express their repulsion of such photos, “because they offend the holy realities of our religion and also because they are completely foreign and extraneous to our culture.”
The photos represent a painful rupture with Spain’s artistic patrimony, he stressed, which always found its greatest source of inspiration in images of the faith.
Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 15, 2007 (CNA) - The Press Office of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico issued a statement this week denouncing the “moral malice of procured abortion” and stating that “both abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”
The statement comes as the Mexico City legislature is debating “an initiative ‘that would allow abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy’ and would open the door for doctors in the public health care system to use the abortion pill RU-486 to ‘interrupt’ pregnancies.
The bishops made a “plea for the life of the most defenseless; life that should be absolutely respected and protected from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, the human being should see his rights as a person recognized, including the inviolable right of all innocent beings to life.”
“The inalienable right to life of all innocent human individuals constitutes a foundational element of civil society and its legislation,” the statement continued. Such rights, it emphasized, “are not subordinate either to individuals or to parents, and neither are they a concession of society or the State. They belong to human nature and are inherent in the person.”
“Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral malice of all procured abortion. This teaching has not changed; it remains invariable. Scientists and health care professionals, legislatures of the committees of Health and Education, and society in general, have the opportunity today to reaffirm a commitment to life,” the press office said. Providing the greatest care for life from the moment of conception is “an essential task of a just and inclusive society,” it stressed.
Hartford, Conn., Mar 15, 2007 (CNA) - Catholic groups are urging the Connecticut legislature not to pass a bill that would force the state’s four Catholic hospitals to provide the emergency contraception pill to all rape victims, independent of whether ovulation has begun.
The Connecticut Catholic Conference, the Catholic League, the four Catholic hospitals, Connecticut Right to Life, and the Family Institute of Connecticut have all voiced their opposition to the bill, presented by Rep. Deborah Heinrich.
The same proposal failed to pass last year. The Human Services Committee must act on the bill by March 22 or, like last year, it would fail.
“I respectfully urge you not to jeopardize the religious-liberty prerogatives of Catholic hospitals,” said Catholic League president Bill Donohue in a letter to the Legislature’s Human Services Committee.
“The emergency contraception pill may act as an abortifacient — not a contraceptive — depending on whether the woman has begun ovulation,” he said. “In those instances, it would be totally immoral for Catholic hospitals to cooperate in the termination of innocent human life.”
The four Catholic hospitals have been following a protocol since January 2006 in which they can offer the morning-after pill only under certain circumstances.
“If it has been determined that ovulation has not taken place, then Catholic hospitals are free to prescribe Plan B,” Donohue explained.
If the patient has ovulated, the doctors cannot prescribe Plan B. The protocol directs doctors to provide the rape victim with a list of places where she can receive it and transportation if necessary.
While Plan B has been available over the counter since January, advocates of the proposed legislation say it should be part of standard medical care for rape victims at the time of their treatment.
The Connecticut Catholic Conference notes that if the policy of Catholic hospitals regarding emergency contraception can be altered by legislation, then the next effort will most likely be to force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions.
“The Catholic health care system has provided the citizens of Connecticut with a high standard of care for decades. These institutions should not be forced to violate their religious beliefs, especially those concerning the human dignity of every person, no matter at what stage of life,” the conference said in a statement.
Bangalore, India, Mar 15, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Church must be present to young people and share the faith with people of other cultures and religions. These were some of the ideas shared at a national conference, held March 7-9 in Bangalore, in preparation for the 2008 Indian Mission Congress.
“In India, it is a challenge to live as authentic Christians in our own surroundings first, to tell the Good News to our neighbors, other cultures and other religions in a dialogue of life,” Archbishop Oswald Gracias reportedly told conference delegates. Archbishop Gracias is president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
According to a Fides report, Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore underlined the effects of globalization on modern culture and people. In particular, he noted that many young people migrate to Bangalore for work or to obtain professional and technical education.
The “pastoral care of this young migrant generation is the formidable task of the Christian community,” he said.
Msgr. Jan Dumond, secretary general of the Pontifical Society St. Peter Apostle, also attended the conference.
“The foremost mission of the Church is to build community as in the early Christian times,” Msgr. Dumont told Fides. “And then there is a move towards the world which is foreign to the Christian community values and faith.
“This openness to the world is an historical sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who impels us with divine dynamics,” he stated, adding that he was pleased to see the great progress of the Church in India.
Washington D.C., Mar 15, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement welcoming Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, saying it clearly reflects the mind of the bishops who attended the 2005 world synod on the Eucharist. The document was released by the Vatican on March 13.
“Pope Benedict teaches that the Eucharist finds its source within the wellspring of love that is the Trinity,” said Bishop William Skylstad, referring to the document, titled Sacramentum Caritatis (The Sacrament of Love).
“His observations about celebrating the Eucharist are rooted in the wholistic understanding that, ‘This most holy mystery thus needs to be firmly believed, devoutly celebrated and intensely lived in the Church,’” the bishop said.
It demonstrates “how the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life” in relation to the other Sacraments, especially Holy Orders and marriage.
As per the synod’s request, the Pope also addresses the relationship of the Eucharist to daily life, the bishop pointed out. “The sacrament of love must bear the fruit of love within our families, our parishes and our communities,” he said.
“Our Eucharistic Liturgies will not only be celebrated in a way that is beneficial to all who participate, but will also give glory and praise to the Father in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit,” Bishop Skylstad affirmed.
Lisbon, Portugal, Mar 15, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Bishops of Portugal have strongly condemned a new law passed by the Portuguese Parliament that would legalize abortions up to the 10th week of pregnancy, LifeNews.com reports. The Bishops said they would not participate in such an “unfair” law.
According to the Lusa news agency the bishops emerged from a conference on Tuesday calling the new abortion law, “unfair” and refusing to support it.
"We are not the least bit interested in participating in a law which is unfair," Bishop Dom Carlos Azevedo said, according to the news service. "Abortion disrespects the dignity of human life and the Episcopal Conference does not have to contribute to it."
Lusa reported that the bishop was pleased that pro-life advocates in parliament, who knew the abortion law would pass, at least won some concessions by requiring a three-day waiting period before an abortion can be done, with the hopes that some women would change their minds.
"Of course the Christians in parliament tried to make this law the least harmful they could," the bishop said.
The bishop also urged health care workers to avoid collaboration in the abortion industry.
"We face women who have abortions with a look of mercy and forgiveness but our Christian conscience forces us not to collaborate with any attempt to the dignity of the human being," he told Lusa.
Portugal’s new legislation on the issue removes it from a small list of Catholic European countries who still refuse to legalize abortion. Poland, Ireland and Malta are the only remaining European nations in which unborn children are protected from death.
According to LifeNews the new legislation comes after a nationwide ballot to approve abortion failed due to low voter turn out.
The ballot vote was the second time Portuguese voters turned back an initiative to legalize abortion. However, following the failed vote, Prime Minister Jose Socrates said he would push for a bill in the nation's legislature to legalize it anyway.