Archive of March 19, 2007

Irish primate urges Christians to go beyond parades for St. Patrick’s Day

Dublin, Ireland, Mar 19, 2007 (CNA) - Christians should go beyond parades and honor St. Patrick by living according to his example, said Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh and primate of Ireland.

In a St. Patrick’s Day message, Archbishop Brady urged Christians to carefully read St. Patrick’s “Confession of Grace”, which tells of the Saint’s love for God and desire to share the Good News with the Irish.

The archbishop expressed his regret that this work is not widely known. For the Church in Ireland, he said, this text “is arguably as important as one of the letters of the New Testament.” Like St. Paul, Patrick is writing to the communities to whom he communicated the Good News.

He described St. Patrick as “an excellent guide to Easter” and said the Saint can inspire in others the Christian virtues of compassionate love for all, forgiveness, prayerfulness; attentiveness to the Holy Spirit, courage and devotion to reading the Bible.

“Patrick came so that we might know and love Jesus Christ and make real in our lives the love of Christ for others. That is the only vision which will create real peace, genuine wholesomeness and lasting prosperity for all on this island,” he said.

“In my own heart I sincerely know that Patrick's spiritual presence is very much with us,” he added.

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Cardinal Martino visits Taiwan, meets with govt. officials

Taipei, Taiwan, Mar 19, 2007 (CNA) - A top Vatican official met with Taiwanese government officials last week and was a keynote speaker at a three-day conference on the pastoral care of migrants and itinerants in Taiwan.

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, was invited by the Chinese Regional Bishops' Conference in Taiwan.

The March 16-19th conference focused on the theme: “The Catholic Church in Asia Cares for the Migrants in Taiwan.”

On the first day of the conference, the Cardinal addressed the 100 participants on welcoming and caring for the foreigner in the light of the love of Christ towards migrants.

The previous day, Cardinal Martino met with President Chen Shui-bian and Minister of Foreign Affairs James Huang Chih-fang.

According to a report by UCA News, Chen told the Cardinal that his visit would make migrants to Taiwan "sense the warmth, compassion, and concern of the Vatican." He also thanked the local Church for its work running schools and hospitals, and caring for the marginalized, foreign brides, the rural poor, and migrants.

The president said Taiwan's government and people "maintain an excellent humanitarian and benevolent relationship with the Vatican" and that he hopes Taiwan and the Holy See would continue to strengthen their cooperation.

Chen also asked the Cardinal to pass along his request to the Vatican's Secretary of State to adjust its low-profile stance toward Taiwan and to ease restrictions on high-ranking Taiwan government officials visiting the Vatican, reported UCA News.

The Cardinal received an honorary doctorate in philosophy from Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei for his contribution to peace and justice, and his commitment to disarmament, development, poverty, human rights, refugees and religious freedom.

The Vatican’s recognition of Taiwan remains a sticking point in relations between the Holy See and China.  The Chinese government, which refuses to acknowledge Taiwan as a separate republic is calling for the Catholic Church to cease separate relations with the island.

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Toledo cardinal denounces blasphemous and pornographic catalogue as crime against Spain

Madrid, Spain, Mar 19, 2007 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, said this week a government-sponsored pornographic and blasphemous catalogue that insults the Virgin Mary and Jesus is a “crime” that is helping to” undermine and destroy” Spain.

In an article entitled, “Freedom at Risk,” the Cardinal wrote that in order to survive, “Spain needs to renew its acceptance and foster a greater respect” for her tradition and her history, “which is rooted in that which is truest of the Christian faith.”

In a state governed by the rule of law, the Cardinal continued, “we can and must demand that fundamental rights be observed and respected: the first of these is the right to religious freedom.  The state itself, its institutions and persons, must refuse to have anything do with actions like the one that unfortunately concerns us now.  This is not an error but rather the harming of fundamental rights.  Refusing to get involved, on the other hand, is leading to deterioration in this area that is growing little by little and is becoming more extensive every day.”

Cardinal Cañizares noted that while denigration of the Koran is rightly met with statements of an almost quasi-institutional nature, “when it comes to Christ and that which is sacred to Christians, it seems then that everything goes and it doesn’t matter.  Nobody gets upset.  For sure, I am unaware in our case of any relevant persons condemning these acts as some did on other occasions regarding attacks against other religions.”

“When it’s about something having to do with the Church,” the Cardinal stressed, “everyone refuses to get involved and makes lukewarm and lame excuses that convince nobody.  It’s not enough to say you’re sorry.  Something more is demanded: the rejection of such expressions of attack against that which is most sacred; and this has yet to be done by those who should be doing so,” he emphasized.

While the Cardinal underscored that he was not calling for the state to embrace one particular confession, he said “an exclusive ideological secularism that does not safeguard the exercise of the right to religious freedom is unacceptable to me.”

“Everything that impedes, endangers, cuts off, or does not sufficiently and adequately promote the full recognition of religious freedom disfigures and destroys society,” he warned.

In the face of repeated insults and attacks against sacred realities and individuals, the Cardinal went on, bishops, priests and the laity often remain silent and put up with the disgrace, “perhaps in order not to alarm people, or for evangelical reasons or a sense of martyrdom.”  

“But this cannot continue, for the good and for the wellbeing of our society, and above all, out of respect for the most sacred realities,” he said.

“Christians and all people of good hold that which is holy and sacred to others with the highest respect, and we demand that same respect for our convictions and the holy realities upon which our lives are sustained.  Without that basic respect there is no peace nor authentic coexistence, nor freedom, nor future.”  

In conclusion the Spanish Cardinal exhorted “the Christian people not to return evil for evil, but to respect everyone and to demand that we be respected, and to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.  “With freedom of spirit let us show that secularism is never the path for a free society, that it has no future nor can it offer one.”

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Spanish archbishop warns against replacing morality with political correctness

Valencia, Fla., Mar 19, 2007 (CNA) - Spanish archbishop warns against replacing morality with political correctness

In his weekly pastoral letter, Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia warned this week against replacing morality in public life with political correctness.

In a letter entitled, “In Response to the Current Situation in Spain,” the archbishop warned that “morality can never be substituted by other concepts that, in the end, are nothing more than a particular ideological doctrine, sometimes even designed to go against morality.”

“Perhaps what our society urgently needs is that we speak about morality; about good and evil, because relativism and so-called pragmatism must not confuse us,” he said.  “We Christians share the concern for freedom and justice because we do not live in a spiritual world that is foreign to society.”

For this reason, he went on, “the bishops’ opinions are not impositions, but rather the pure exercise of the freedom that belongs to the work of our ministry.  Therefore no one who is of a truly democratic frame of mind ought to be concerned about the bishops offering their considerations in benefit of the common good.”

Archbishop Garcia-Gasco said the bishops feel encouraged by the common ground they share with people who “do not share the gift of faith with us, but yet recognize our concern for the good of humanity and agree with our calls for a greater commitment to the dignity of all without ideological or partisan based discrimination.”

In conclusion the archbishop of Valencia encouraged all Spaniards to actively participate in public and social life with integrity and consistency.

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Bishops reject “program of extermination” for legalizing abortion in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 19, 2007 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Mexico has expressed its absolute rejection of a “program of extermination” that is currently being debated in Mexico City’s legislative assembly and that would allow abortion up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy.  Proposed legislation would also open the door to allowing doctors to prescribe the abortion pill RU-486.  The bishops are calling on lawmakers and all Mexicans to “reaffirm their commitment to life.”

“Faced with this program of extermination, as pastors, but above all as human beings, we are obliged to raise our voice in support of the life of the most defenseless,” the bishops said in a statement signed by the president of the conference, Bishop Carlos Aguiar Retes, and by conference secretary Bishop Jose Leopoldo Gonzalez Gonzalez.

The bishops emphasized that a new human life begins at conception and that science confirms that the new life has, from the first moment, its own unique genetic code and characteristics.  “But even if there were some doubt as to whether the fruit of conception is already a human person,” to risk a homicide of the unborn “is objectively a grave sin,” they said.
The statement also alludes to the Mexican Constitution, which “established respect for life as the foundation of all other rights” and emphasizes that “the State has the duty to guarantee and support respect for the life of every human being.”

Therefore, the bishops issued “an urgent call to legislators, scientists, and health care professionals, and all the people of Mexico to reaffirm their commitment to life,” and they recalled that “the essential task of a just and inclusive society should be the protection of all human beings, from conception to natural death.”

Those who “are responsible for creating more just laws” should contribute “decisively to promoting comprehensive recognition of human rights through the defense of life,” the bishops added.

Amidst the debate over the legalization of abortion that is taking place in Mexico City’s legislative assembly, the spokesman for the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Hugo Valdemar, warned that some political groups want to turn the Mexican nation into a homicidal society, when the vast majority is not in favor of the practice.

Valdemar pointed out that lawmakers of the Socialist PRD party “do not want to understand that it is not true that the people support these reforms or that the majority of the country is left-wing.”  He noted that a recent poll showed that 30% of the country identifies itself as leftist.

He said it was “pitiful” that some would try to convert the Mexican people into a homicidal society by legalizing abortion for the mere reason that a woman feels pregnancy would be an inconvenience to her personal development.”

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Pro-family groups in Poland propose law to defend children from aggressive homosexual agenda

Warsaw, Poland, Mar 19, 2007 (CNA) - TheMinister of Education in Poland, together with the Polish League ofFamilies, has proposed a new law to protect children in the country’sschools from “aggressive and obscene homosexual propaganda” thatportrays the gay lifestyle as “normal and acceptable.”

The new law would punish school administrators that allow homosexual activists into their schools, in order to protect the rights of parents “to educate their children according to the values system they choose.”

“The homosexual agenda is a threat to that freedom,” explained the spokesman of the Polish League of Families, Krzysztof Bosak.  “In Poland, homosexual activists have tried to distribute very obscene pamphlets in schools.  This must stop for the good of our children, so that their security and freedom are free of this harassment,” he added.

Bosak noted some of the abuses that occur in other countries that promote the homosexual agenda.  “In Canada we see courts preventing parents from opposing homosexual propaganda in the classrooms of their children.”

Pointing to another case in Massachusetts, Bosak said, “We have seen how one man was arrested because he asked the school principal to exempt his son from classes that promote homosexuality.”

“In England a program has been implemented to teach children gay and lesbian history, which has little to do with history or science and everything to do with an ideology that is harmful to children,” he continued.

“Gay activists wish to impose on society a point of view that assumes that homosexuality is normal,” Bosak said.  “We see how the gay lifestyle destroys people’s health, we see higher levels of pathologies, addictions, suicide, violence and abuse among people who embrace this homosexual lifestyle,” he warned.  

“This is not something that should be taught to our children as normal, natural, or healthy,” Bosak stressed.

“Nobody is attacking persons with homosexual tendencies,” he underscored.  “What we oppose is the dangerous political and social movement that uses the problems of gays to promote an agenda that is dangerous for the foundations of our civilization,” Bosak said. 

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The Eucharist is the font of all Christian joy, Pope Benedict says

Vatican City, Mar 19, 2007 (CNA) - Sunday, on the day when the Church celebrated “Laetare” Sunday, Pope Benedict used his weekly Angelus address to remind the Church that the Eucharist is the font of Christian Joy.

“Today the liturgy invites us to cheer up, because Easter, the day of Christ’s victory over sin and death, is drawing nearer,” the Holy Father said at midday, after returning from a Mass he had celebrated at Rome’s Casal del Marmo, Juvenile Prison.

“Where is the spring of Christian joy but in the Eucharist, which Christ left as a spiritual food, while we are pilgrims on this earth?”

“This Eucharistic food,” he continued, “provides for the faithful of all ages a profound joy, which is at one with love and with peace, and which springs forth from one’s communion with God and with one’s brothers,” the Holy Father said before the Marian Prayer.

Sacramentum Caritatis

The Holy Father also spoke of his Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, which was presented last Tuesday and which is written on the theme of “the Eucharist as the source and summit of the life and mission of the Church.”

The text, explained Benedict XVI, “is an expression of the faith of the universal Church in the Eucharistic Mystery, which continues the Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of my revered predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II”.

Pope Benedict pointed out the connection between the post-synodal exhortation and his his first encyclical “Deus caritas est.”

“That’s why I called it ‘Sacramentum caritatis,’” he said, “taking inspiration from a fine definition of the Eucharist by St Thomas Aquinas, ‘The Sacrament of love.’”  

“Yes,” he added, “in the Eucharist, Christ wanted to give us ‘His’ love, which drove Him to offer His life up for us on the Cross.”

“In His Last Supper, as he washed the Apostles’ feet, Jesus left us the Commandment of love,” he said.

But, warned the Pope, “since this is possible only if we stay bonded to Him, as shoots to a vine, He decided to stay Himself amidst us in the Eucharist, so that we could ‘stay in Him’. Therefore, as we feed on His Body and on His Blood with faith, His love enters us and enables us, in turn, to give our life for our neighbors.”  This, he added, “is the spring of Christian joy, the joy of love.”

Finally, the Pope recalled that next to Mary, who he called the epitome of the “Eucharistic woman,” God placed Saint Joseph to guard the redeemer.  “I particularly invoke this great Saint,” whose Feast the Church celebrates on Monday, he said, “so that by believing, celebrating, and living with faith the Eucharistic Mystery, the people of God may be infused with Christ’s love and may spread its fruits of joy and peace across the whole of mankind.”

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