Pro Pontiff, Pro-Magisterial, Pro-life, Pro-family. These articles reflect these values and I believe should be Interesting to Catholics. If there are any article I have missed, or you feel should not be here, or you agree/disagree with, then please feel free to post a comment.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

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Monday, March 06, 2006

The Neocatechumenals Obey the Pope – But in Their Own Way

Sandro Magister

Communion continues to be given seated, as at a banquet. This is the upshot of a letter that the heads of the Way have written to Benedict XVI

ROMA, March 6, 2006 – The founders and heads of the Neocatechumenal Way, Kiko Argüello (see photo), Carmen Hernández, and Father Mario Pezzi, have decided to obey the severe reprimand issued to them by Benedict XVI on January 12. But they did so with strong reservations over one point in particular: Eucharistic communion.

Their act of partial obedience is found in a letter that they wrote to the pope on January 17. The letter – reproduced here below – was made public on February 27 by the Catholic website

Benedict XVI’s reminder concerns the manner in which the Neocatechumenal groups celebrate the Mass. The pope wants them to conform to the prescriptions of the liturgical norms that are valid for the whole Church.

For example, the Neocatechumenals receive communion seated, around an altar that is shaped and decorated like a large, square dinner table. They divide and consume a large unleavened loaf, made with two-thirds white flour and one-third whole wheat flour, which is prepared and baked for a quarter of an hour, all according to detailed rules established by Kiko. They drink the wine from cups that are passed from hand to hand, always in a seated position.

But the pope wants them to “pass to the normal way in which the entire Church receives Holy Communion,” within no more than two years’ time. The details of this request and others are set forth in a letter dated December 1, 2005, written in the name of the pope to the heads of the Way by cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican congregation for the liturgy: a letter made public by www.chiesa.

And so, in their reply to Benedict XVI, Kiko, Carmen, and Father Pezzi stated that they were willing to “follow in every way, with great respect and obedience, the rubrics of the Roman Missal.” They promised that they will make arrangements with the bishop of each diocese for their own members to participate in the Sunday Mass together with the rest of the faithful “at least one Sunday a month.” But on the crucial point of communion, they make it clear that they want to keep going their own way.

They stop, in fact, at thanking the pope for granting them two more years. And then they return to defending their manner of distributing communion. They give as the model for this the “eschatological banquet” at which Christ has the disciples “sit down,” as written in Luke 12:37: “He will have them recline at table, and will come to wait on them.” Furthermore, they emphasize that giving communion “in this way” is an essential instrument for converting those who are far removed from the Church, and that abandoning it would compromise their mission.

The letter to Benedict XVI from Kiko, Carmen, and Father Pezzi was also distributed by them to all the leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way, who received it as an official directive for their respective communities.

At the end of the letter, the heads of the Way recall “the many bishops who have supported us.” In effect, at the synod on the Eucharist held in Rome last October there were bishops who asked for an extension of the method of taking communion while seated, as in use among the Neocatechumenals.

One of these was the bishop of Agana, on the island of Guam, Anthony Sablan Apuron, president of the bishops’ conference of the Pacific.

In a recent radio interview, Apuron again defended the practice of distributing communion as at a banquet, and downplayed the value of the letter from Cardinal Arinze.

It is, in fact, the widespread opinion among the Neocatechumenals that Arinze’s letter is something provisional, modifiable, a simple “instrumentum laboris,” and that in the end their practice will receive substantive approval.

This opinion remains current even after the reminder from Benedict XVI on January 12.

In any case, this is the thought of neither Arinze nor the pope. In a February 15 interview with Vatican Radio, the cardinal prefect of the congregation for the liturgy restated that the letter is “the conclusion of the whole affair.” And this is how he explained the process that led to the writing of the letter:

“The letter was occasioned by the results of the examination, conducted by this congregation, of how the Neocatechumenal Way has celebrated the Holy Mass for many years. […] For this examination we had a mixed commission of persons nominated by the Neocatechumenal Way and persons nominated by our congregation. The discussions brought up many of the practices that they employ during the Mass, […] and many of these were not in accordance with the approved books. This is the background. The entire situation was examined over many sessions of the mixed commission, for a period of two years or longer. And there was also, at the bidding of the Holy Father, a discussion among seven cardinals of the Roman curia, who examined everything. So this letter is the conclusion of the whole affair.”

What follows here is the letter written to the pope by the heads of the Neocatechumenal Way:

“We would like to thank You from the bottom of our hearts…”

Porto San Giorgio, January 17, 2006

Dearest Father,

The love of God the Father, the holy humility of Christ, and the consolation of the Holy Spirit be with You.

We would like to thank You from the bottom of our hearts for the Audience You granted to us, with the sending forth of 200 families, and for Your words, in which You emphasized “the importance… of the Holy Mass in evangelization” and that – as “your long experience can well attest” – “the centrality of the mystery of Christ celebrated in the liturgical rites is a privileged and indispensable way to build living and persevering Christian communities.”

After the Audience, all of the 700 itinerant catechists from all the nations met together, and we are very content with the “norms” that Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, imparted to us in Your name. In this regard, we wish to express our gratitude to You, to Cardinal Arinze, and to the Congregation for what is written in the letter.

We renewed together our willingness to follow in everything, with great respect and obedience, the rubrics of the Roman Missal (Gloria, Credo, Lavabo, Orate fratres, Agnus Dei…).

With respect to the first point of the letter (“at least one Sunday per month, the Communities of the Neocatechumenal Way must participate in the Holy Mass of the parish community), each team of itinerant catechists will speak with the Bishop of each Diocese in order to arrange this participation, paying particular attention to the least brethren and those farthest away.

We also wish to thank you for the benevolence, mercy, and goodness You have shown to those farthest away in allowing the moving of the sign of peace and in granting a period of two years for the adaptation of the manner of distributing the Communion of the Body and the Blood of the Lord: we have always shown to the many brothers who have emerged from hell, full of wounds and of self-loathing, that in the Holy Eucharist the Lord makes present his love, dying and rising for them; and not only that, but prepares a table, an eschatological banquet, which makes Heaven present and where He himself, full of love, has them sit down and comes to serve them: “He will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them” (Lk 12:37).

In this way, every time we celebrate the Eucharist we experience the power this sacrament has to draw them into the Passover of Christ, bringing them from sadness to joy, from darkness to light, from death to life…

The Lord is preparing a people to evangelize the pagans. There are millions of people today who do not know Christ. The reality is that the Lord is calling us to evangelize as Christian communities that make the life of heaven present in our midst.

Thank You, Your Holiness! Together with the Cardinals and the many Bishops who have supported us, and above all in the name of the many who were far away and today bless Christ, we thank You with our whole heart.

Asking for Your Apostolic Blessing,

Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernández, Fr. Mario Pezzi

And this is Cardinal Arinze’s letter of December 1, 2005, previously made public by www.chiesa:

”I am to inform you of the Holy Father’s decisions...”

Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum

Prot. 2520/03/L

From Vatican City, December 1, 2005

To the esteemed Mr. Kiko Argüello, Ms. Carmen Hernandez, and Rev. Father Mario Pezzi,

Following the conversations with this Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist in the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way, in keeping with the guidelines issued in the meeting with you on November 11 of this year, I am to inform you of the Holy Father’s decisions.

In the celebration of the Holy Mass, the Neocatechumenal Way shall accept and follow the liturgical books approved by the Church, without omitting or adding anything. Furthermore, in regard to some elements the guidelines and clarifications are emphasized as follows:

1. Sunday is the “Dies Domini” as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wished to illustrate in the Apostolic Letter on the Lord’s Day. Therefore the Neocatechumenal Way must enter into dialogue with the diocesan bishop in order to make it clear that the community of the Neocatechumenal Way is incorporated into the parish even in the context of the liturgical celebrations. At least one Sunday per month, the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way must participate in the Holy Mass of the parish community.

2. As for any admonitions issued before the readings, these must be brief. Adherence must also be shown to what is set out in the “Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani” (nn. 105 and 128) and to the Praenotanda of the “Ordo Lectionum Missae” (nn. 15, 19, 38, 42).

3. The homily, because of its nature and importance, is reserved to the priest or deacon (cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 767 § 1). As for the occasional contribution of testimonies on the part of the lay faithful, the proper places and methods for these are indicated in the Interdicasterial Instruction “Ecclesiae de Mysterio,” which was approved “in specific form” by Pope John Paul II and published on August 15, 1997. In this document, sections 2 and 3 of article 3 read as follows:

§2 - “It is permitted to have a brief instruction that helps explain better the liturgy that is being celebrated, and even, in exceptional circumstances, a few testimonies, as long as these conform to the liturgical norms, are offered on the occasion of Eucharistic liturgies celebrated on particular days (for seminarians, the sick, etc.), and are thought truly helpful as an illustration of the regular homily delivered by the celebrating priest. These instructions and testimonies must not assume characteristics that might cause them to be confused with the homily.”

§3 - “The possibility of ‘dialogue’ during the homily (cf. Directorium de Missis cum Pueris, no. 48) can be used occasionally and with prudence by the celebrating minister as a means of exposition, which does not transfer to others the duty of preaching.”

Careful attention must also be paid to the Instruction “Redemptionis Sacramentum,” no. 74.

4. On the exchange of peace, permission is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to continue using the indult already granted, pending further instructions.

5. On the manner of receiving Holy Communion, a period of transition (not exceeding two years) is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to pass from the widespread manner of receiving Holy Communion in its communities (seated, with a cloth-covered table placed at the center of the church instead of the dedicated altar in the sanctuary) to the normal way in which the entire Church receives Holy Communion. This means that the Neocatechumenal Way must begin to adopt the manner of distributing the Body and Blood of Christ that is provided in the liturgical books.

6. The Neocatechumenal Way must also make use of the other Eucharistic Prayers contained in the missal, and not only Eucharistic Prayer II.

In short, the Neocatechumenal Way, in its celebration of the Holy Mass, should follow the approved liturgical books, keeping in mind what is laid out above under the numbers 1,2,3,4,5, and 6.

Acknowledging the favors that the Lord has bestowed upon the Church through the many activities of the Neocatechumenal Way, I take this occasion to extend to you my best regards.

+ Francis Card. Arinze

And these are the words of Benedict XVI relative to the rite of the Mass, in the address he gave to the Neocatechumenals on January 12, 2006:

“Recently the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments imparted to you, in my name, some norms concerning the Eucharistic celebration, after the trial period that had been granted by the servant of God John Paul II. I am certain that these norms, which draw upon the provisions of the liturgical books approved by the Church, will meet with attentive compliance from you.”

Vatican leaders pause for Lenten Retreat

Mar. 06 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) and the leaders of the Roman Curia have begun their annual Lenten Retreat. During the week-long spiritual exercises, the ordinary work schedule at the Vatican is set aside and all papal audiences are canceled.

The retreat began Sunday evening, March 5, and will continue through March 11. Cardinal Marco Cé, the former patriarch of Venice, is the preacher for the retreat.

The Lenten Retreat is taking place in the Redemptoris Mater chapel, on the second floor of the apostolic palace. This is the chapel where the preacher of the pontifical household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, delivered the Advent meditations, and where the Lenten Retreat is held annually, with a preacher chosen by the Holy Father.

The spiritual exercises consist of three preached meditations a day-- two in the morning, one in the afternoon-- each of about 30 minutes. The participants also join in the Liturgy of the Hours, daily Mass, Benediction, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The retreat concludes on Saturday, March 11.

Cardinal Cé, who was asked by Pope Benedict to preach on the Gospel of St. Mark, taught Scripture studies and frequently acted as a retreat master during his early years as a priest. He was named Patriarch of Venice by Pope John Paul II (bio - news) in 1978-- filling an opening that was created when his predecessor there, Cardinal Albino Luciani, had been elected earlier that year as Pope John Paul I. After 20 years, he stepped down as patriarch in January 2002, having passed the mandatory retirement age. He was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 1979. He participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict in April 2005, shortly before reaching his 80th birthday (and thus becoming ineligible for a conclave) in July.

Being chosen to preach the Lenten Retreat is regarded as a signal honor, often indicating that the preacher is destined for greater prominence in the hierarchy. (Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was the preacher in 1976, and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1983. Among other past preachers, the American Cardinal James Hickey, the Brazilian Lucas Moreira Neves, the Vietnamese Francois-Xavier Van Thuan (all recently deceased), and the Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn all received their red hats shortly after preaching the Lenten Retreat.) In choosing an older prelate to lead the spiritual exercises, Pope Benedict is evidently paying tribute to a life devoted to faithful service.

Cardinal Cé is the 4th consecutive Italian preacher for the annual retreat. Last year's Lenten Retreat was led by Bishop Renato Corti of Novaro. In 2004 it was the noted theologian, Father Bruno Forte-- who was soon thereafter named Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto. And in 2003 the preacher was Archbishop Angelo Comastri, who is now archpriest of the Vatican basilica.

The annual retreat at the Vatican was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1929. Patterned after the traditional Ignatian spiritual exercises, the retreat originally took place in Advent. Pope Paul VI moved the retreat to Lent in 1964, and since that time it has taken place regularly during the first full week of Lent.

The Redemptoris Mater chapel, which can accommodate about 100 people, is located behind the clock that adorns the façade of the St. Damasus court of the apostolic palace. After extensive renovations that were done between 1996 and 1999, was solemnly inaugurated by Pope John Paul II on November 14, 1999. The late Pope had wanted the chapel to testify to the unity of Christians, East and West; the walls now display colorful mosaics in the Byzantine iconic tradition, done under the direction of the Slovenian Jesuit, Father Marko Ivan Rupnik. The chapel restoration was begun as a gift to Pope John Paul on the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination in 1996.

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Preacher tells Vatican leaders: match actions to words

Vatican, Mar. 06 ( - Cardinal Marco Cé told Vatican officials that their actions should match their professed beliefs, in an opening meditation for the Lenten Retreat.

Cardinal Cé is preaching to Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) and the leaders of the Roman Curia in the annual spiritual exercises that began Sunday night, March 5, and will run through Saturday morning, March 11. The retreat began with an introductory meditation, followed by Vespers and Eucharistic adoration in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the apostolic palace. Although the sessions of the Lenten Retreat are closed to the media, Vatican Radio provided a report on Cardinal Cé's first meditation on Monday morning as the week-long retreat moved into its first day.

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News Bites

Vatican Dossier

  1. Pope meets with Italian political figure, former co-author

  2. Set high moral standards, Pope asks entrepreneurs

  3. Plans in place for July papal trip to Spain

  4. Sin bars the road to happiness, Pope says

  5. "Dialogue with Islam needed to defend life, have world peace,' concludes catholic-Jewish meeting

  6. True route to happiness, fulfillment is freedom from sin and lies, says Pope for first Sunday Lenten message

  7. Works of Charitymust not substitute for commitment to social justice, Pope tells Italian business leaders


  1. Mississippi governor says he would sign abortion ban

  2. New Delhi fights "monstrous" crime of female foeticide

  3. Holland to allow 'baby euthanasia'

  4. Wal-Mart charged with betrayal on morning-after pill

  5. Spanish archbishop says term "pre-embryo" a mocker of human dignity

  6. World experts submit amicus briefs to stop legalization of abortion in Colombia

  7. Brother of Terri Schindler-Schiavo Special Guest at 27th Annual Maryland Candlelight March for Life

  8. Democrats For Life promotes initiative to reduce abortions

Church Appointments

  1. New Appointment for Vatican Posts

World Features

  1. Furor over Pop's pre-election audience for Berlusconi

  2. Demographer sees conservatives on the rise

  3. Iraqi parliament to meet on Sunday, but no agreement yet on premier

  4. Iran and al-Qaeda threaten oil embargo and economic warfare against the world

  5. Another Islamic leader arrested

  6. Archbishop of Caracas says Church will offer mediation for dialogue between opposition
  7. and government

  8. CELAM asks monastic and contemplative communities to pray for upcoming Conference

News Briefs

  1. Stories, Upsets, Contradictions: Just Another Night at the Oscars

  2. Movie Review 'Crash"

  3. Gaining headway: Colorado Catholic Bishops endorse revised sexual abuse bill, continue to fight another

  4. Domino's Founder Backtracks on Catholic Laws For New Town

  5. Georgia bishops criticize proposed immigration reform


  1. Killers of Catholic youth, Javed Anjum, sentenced

  2. Macedonia: Sentence reduction sees Serbian bishop Freed

  3. Macedonian frees imprisioned Orthodox bishop, but...

Slain Priest

  1. Fr. Andrea Santoro: As if nothing ever happened

  2. Turkey: Little reaction to missionary's death


  1. Lent: Indonesian Bishops issue strong anti-corruption warning

Of Possible Saints

  1. Center dedicated to Padre Pio inaugurated in Brazil

Friday, March 03, 2006

Umbert the Umborn

Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI for Lent 2006

"Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity" (Mt 9:36).

God Does Not Allow Darkness to Prevail

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him Who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter. Even in the "valley of darkness" of which the Psalmist speaks (Ps 23:4), while the tempter prompts us to despair or to place a vain hope in the work of our own hands, God is there to guard us and sustain us.

Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love. As in every age, they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail. In fact, in the words of my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, there is a "divine limit imposed upon evil," namely, mercy (Memory and Identity, pp. 19ff.). It is with these thoughts in mind that I have chosen as my theme for this Message the Gospel text: "Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity" (Mt 9:36).

In this light, I would like to pause and reflect upon an issue much debated today: the question of development. Even now, the compassionate "gaze" of Christ continues to fall upon individuals and peoples. He watches them, knowing that the divine "plan" includes their call to salvation. Jesus knows the perils that put this plan at risk, and He is moved with pity for the crowds. He chooses to defend them from the wolves even at the cost of His own life. The gaze of Jesus embraces individuals and multitudes, and He brings them all before the Father, offering Himself as a sacrifice of expiation.

Underdevelopment Is an Outrage Against Humanity

Enlightened by this Paschal truth, the Church knows that if we are to promote development in its fullness, our own "gaze" upon mankind has to be measured against that of Christ. In fact, it is quite impossible to separate the response to people's material and social needs from the fulfillment of the profound desires of their hearts. This has to be emphasized all the more in today's rapidly changing world, in which our responsibility towards the poor emerges with ever greater clarity and urgency.

My venerable predecessor, Pope Paul VI, accurately described the scandal of underdevelopment as an outrage against humanity. In this sense, in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, he denounced "the lack of material necessities for those who are without the minimum essential for life, the moral deficiencies of those who are mutilated by selfishness" and "oppressive social structures, whether due to the abuses of ownership or to the abuses of power, to the exploitation of workers or to unjust transactions" (ibid., 21). As the antidote to such evil, Paul VI suggested not only "increased esteem for the dignity of others, the turning towards the spirit of poverty, cooperation for the common good, the will and desire for peace," but also "the acknowledgement by man of supreme values, and of God, their source and their finality" (ibid.). In this vein, the pope went on to propose that, finally and above all, there is "faith, a gift of God accepted by the good will of man, and unity in the charity of Christ" (ibid.).

Thus, the "gaze" of Christ upon the crowd impels us to affirm the true content of this "complete humanism" that, according to Paul VI, consists in the "fully-rounded development of the whole man and of all men" (ibid., 42). For this reason, the primary contribution that the Church offers to the development of mankind and peoples does not consist merely in material means or technical solutions. Rather, it involves the proclamation of the truth of Christ, Who educates consciences and teaches the authentic dignity of the person and of work; it means the promotion of a culture that truly responds to all the questions of humanity.

In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world's population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the "gaze" of Christ. Fasting and almsgiving, which, together with prayer, the Church proposes in a special way during the Lenten Season, are suitable means for us to become conformed to this "gaze." The examples of the saints and the long history of the Church's missionary activity provide invaluable indications of the most effective ways to support development. Even in this era of global interdependence, it is clear that no economic, social, or political project can replace that gift of self to another through which charity is expressed.

The Worst Poverty Is Not to Know Christ

Those who act according to the logic of the Gospel live the faith as friendship with God Incarnate and, like Him, bear the burden of the material and spiritual needs of their neighbors. They see it as an inexhaustible mystery, worthy of infinite care and attention. They know that he who does not give God gives too little; as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta frequently observed, the worst poverty is not to know Christ. Therefore, we must help others to find God in the merciful face of Christ. Without this perspective, civilization lacks a solid foundation.

Thanks to men and women obedient to the Holy Spirit, many forms of charitable work intended to promote development have arisen in the Church: hospitals, universities, professional formation schools, and small businesses. Such initiatives demonstrate the genuine humanitarian concern of those moved by the Gospel message, far in advance of other forms of social welfare. These charitable activities point out the way to achieve a globalization that is focused upon the true good of mankind and, hence, the path towards authentic peace.

Moved like Jesus with compassion for the crowds, the Church today considers it her duty to ask political leaders and those with economic and financial power to promote development based on respect for the dignity of every man and woman. An important litmus test for the success of their efforts is religious liberty, understood not simply as the freedom to proclaim and celebrate Christ, but also the opportunity to contribute to the building of a world enlivened by charity. These efforts have to include a recognition of the central role of authentic religious values in responding to man's deepest concerns, and in supplying the ethical motivation for his personal and social responsibilities. These are the criteria by which Christians should assess the political programs of their leaders.

We cannot ignore the fact that many mistakes have been made in the course of history by those who claimed to be disciples of Jesus. Very often, when having to address grave problems, they have thought that they should first improve this world and only afterwards turn their minds to the next. The temptation was to believe that, in the face of urgent needs, the first imperative was to change external structures. The consequence, for some, was that Christianity became a kind of moralism, “believing” was replaced with “doing.” Rightly, therefore, my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, observed:

The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-being. In our heavily secularized world, a "gradual secularization of salvation" has taken place, so that people strive for the good of man, but man who is truncated. We know, however, that Jesus came to bring integral salvation." (Redemptoris Missio, 11)

It is this integral salvation that Lent puts before us, pointing towards the victory of Christ over every evil that oppresses us. In turning to the Divine Master, in being converted to Him, in experiencing His mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we will discover a "gaze" that searches us profoundly and gives new life to the crowds and to each one of us. It restores trust to those who do not succumb to skepticism, opening up before them the perspective of eternal beatitude. Throughout history, even when hate seems to prevail, the luminous testimony of His love is never lacking. To Mary, "the living fount of hope" (Dante Alighieri, Paradiso, XXXIII, 12), we entrust our Lenten journey, so that she may lead us to her Son. I commend to her in particular the multitudes who suffer poverty and cry out for help, support, and understanding. With these sentiments, I cordially impart to all of you a special Apostolic Blessing.

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Chaldean patriarch: “No Christian wants to leave Iraq for good”

The Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly admits the country’s plight is “miserable”, but says emigration affects Muslims much more: many Christians choose to stay to become peace-builders.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The “miserable and tragic” situation of Iraq prompts all Iraqis to long for a safer place, but “practically no Christian wants to leave his country indefinitely” and the phenomenon of migration “has affected Muslims much more”. As news of suicide bombings and attacks on the country’s religious symbols come one after another, the Chaldean Patriarch, Emmanuel III Delly, said there was no such thing as a disapora of the local Christian community. AsiaNews contacted the patriarch by phone in Baghdad, where a curfew is in force today, a day of prayer, to avoid violence.

Delly admitted that “many emigrate because of the very serious situation in which each and every one, starting from myself, lives, and which seems to have deteriorated in recent weeks… This is about both Christians and Muslims, but the phenomenon affects the latter much more.” At the same time, the patriarch warned: “We should not exaggerate.”

He said “many Christians simply choose to go north, which is safer, to their villages of origin, where perhaps they have a house or relatives. They leave Baghdad or Bassora and stay away for around two weeks or a month, waiting for the tension in their cities to subside, and then they return and start to work again.”

According to the patriarch, “the existence of Christian emigrants is undeniable: many search for shelter in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, while others join relatives in the USA and in Europe. Everyone wants to find a safer place, but practically no one wants to leave his country indefinitely, for example, by asking for political asylum in the United States.” (Requesting political asylum implies the impossibility of returning to one’s country of origin).

The representative of the Iraqi Church is convinced that “attacks under way in Iraq are not against Christians as such, the situation is generally tragic for all and perhaps more among Muslims”.

“The situation is miserable and difficult but it is so for all Iraqis,” he emphasised. For this reason, continued Delly, as “leader of the country’s Christians, I defend my community and at the same time, I seek to work for peace, to find a path for reconciliation”. And the same commitment is expressed also by his followers:

“Many come to me, with the intention of becoming builders of peace in the country, refuting the fear which prompts them to leave. We must defend freedom and chaos is not freedom.”

At the end of January, in a meeting for Christian religious leaders in the north, the “general situation of danger for the community” was highlighted. Exact statistics about Christian migration from Iraq are not available. Some religious representatives say that from August to October 2004, between 10,000 and 40,000 Christians left Iraq. In all, the Christian community adds up to around 800,000 people.

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i-Pope? – Pope Benedict now totes Vatican Radio gift of loaded iPod

Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY – A group of Vatican Radio employees gave Pope Benedict XVI a brand new iPod nano loaded with special Vatican Radio programming and classical music.

To honor the pope's first visit to the radio's broadcasting headquarters, the radio's technical staff decided the pencil-thin, state-of-the-art audio player would make the perfect gift.

Now that Vatican Radio offers podcasts in eight different languages, the pope has the technological capability to plug in and import the radio's audio files.

Pope Benedict visited the programming and broadcasting hub of "the pope's radio" March 3 to mark the station's 75th anniversary.

Hundreds of radio journalists, sound engineers and support staff lined the radio's hallways to greet the pope and present him with gifts, mostly special in-house productions such as CDs and books on the church, religion and the pope.

"We don't have a huge gift to give to the pope, but we do have small signs of our work" to give him, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican Radio's general director, told Catholic News Service.

Though the white iPod nano is tiny, it still made an impression on the pope. When the head of the radio's technical and computer support department, Mauro Milita, identified himself and handed the pope the boxed iPod, the pope was said to have replied, "Computer technology is the future."

The pope's new 2-gigabyte digital audio player already was loaded with a sampling of the radio's programming in English, Italian and German and musical compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frederic Chopin, Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky. The stainless steel back was engraved with the words "To His Holiness, Benedict XVI" in Italian.

Once the pope, who is also a pianist, gets the hang of the device's trademark click wheel, he will be able to listen to a special 20-minute feature produced by the radio's English program that highlights Mozart's life and music to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his birth.

The iPod also contains an English-language radio drama on the life of St. Thomas a Becket and a 10-minute feature on the creation of Vatican Radio, with original sound clips of the inventor of the radio, Guglielmo Marconi, and Vatican Radio's founder, Pope Pius XI.

The pope also can relive the historical papal transition of April 2005. On the player, the radio's German program included a mix of news and interviews done during the death of Pope John Paul II, the conclave and the election of Pope Benedict.

With his new iPod, the pope can access the radio's daily podcasts, as well as download music and audio books from the Internet.

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Italian journalist calls for Catholic “Anti-defamation League”

Madrid, Mar. 03, 2006 (CNA) - In an article published recently by the Spanish daily La Razon, renowned Italian author Vittorio Messori said he is convinced “Catholicism today needs more than ever its own Anti-defamation League” similar to the organization that defends Jewish interests.

Messori maintains that the number of attacks on Catholics in different media outlets is on the rise, and that often they are left unanswered mainly because of the lack of information, or even because of disinformation, on the part of Catholics with regards to the truth.

The Italian journalist writes that his efforts as well as those of other authors to counter the many false ideas in the media are isolated and uncoordinated, and therefore he is proposing the creation of an organization: “Something small, agile, motivated, informed, and prepared to respond, or to enable people to respond, point by point, to all of the false notions that bombard us each day in the media. Why is that only the Church and her history can be disparaged with no one to counter it? There is no lack of informed historians or undoubtedly cultured individuals in the Church who are capable of clarifying, explaining and rebutting,” Messori explains.

Messori maintains he has no intention to restrict freedom of speech, but that he does have “zero tolerance for lies, deliberate misrepresentations and outright errors. We must counter, therefore, not peoples’ opinions, but rather the historical falsehoods upon which these opinions are all too often based.”

Messori says a “League” of this type should serve as an instrument for intervening in these kinds of matters, and that it should be supported by a group of lawyers. Many people believe denials or clarifications are published out of kindness or honesty on the part of newspaper editors, he continued, when in reality “there are precise laws that guarantee the right to reply and establish that rebuttals be visibly published. It is not necessary to call for new laws, what we need is for the ones that exits to be well known and enforced.” Lies, Messori maintains, have no legal basis, no matter if they are passed by the legislature.

A Catholic league, he says, could begin in Italy and become a model for similar type organizations in other countries. Not only would the Church benefit from such an organization, all of society would be helped, as “the truth is an indispensable condition for our freedom, and for the freedom of non-believers and non-Christians as well.”

While such an organization should be created and managed by the laity, “the intervention of the Church should be decisive, in order to exhort, counsel and perhaps help economically as well,” Messori says.

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Mississippi Abortion Ban Bill Passes House; Moves to Senate for Approval

Terry Vanderheyden

Bill altered to include exceptions for rape, incest

JACKSON, Mississippi, March 3, 2006 ( – A bill to ban abortion passed Thursday by a 94-25 margin in Mississippi’s House, but only after a heated debate had significantly altered the proposal of an outright ban to include exceptions for rape and incest. Senate Bill 2922 now heads back to the Senate for approval of the changes.

The original Senate bill mandated that women view an ultrasound or listen to the heartbeat of their unborn baby before undergoing an abortion. A House Public Health and Human Services Committee later amended the bill to outlaw all abortions, with the exception of when a mother’s life was in danger. Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday he would likely sign that bill into law, although he favored the rape and incest exceptions.

Democratic Rep. Erik Fleming was responsible for the amendment that now would allow abortions to be committed in the case of rape and incest. “Regardless of the amount of counseling that may be available, I think it’s an unfair burden,” he claimed, according to a Clarion Ledger report.

House members Deryk Parker (D) and Joey Fillingane (R) argued unsuccessfully against the rape and incest exceptions. “Life begins at conception,” Parker emphasized. “God does not make mistakes.” Fillingane added, “The product of that union is not criminal.”

Pro-Life Mississippi President Terri Herring said she was happy the bill was passed, but disappointed with the rape and incest exceptions. “We were disappointed that the rape and incest exceptions were added,” she said. “I think it’s our responsibility to have a pure Pro-Life message that has to be you don’t kill a child for the crime of his father.”

South Dakota passed a similar bill banning abortions last week, with no exception for rape or incest. It is now before Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, who has said he will probably sign it into law.

See related coverage:
Mississippi Close to Banning Abortions—Governor Likely to Sign Bill
New Book Smashes Rape Exception for Abortion Idea
Rape & Incest Victims Call for Congressional Hearings on Abortion

  • (c) Copyright: is a production of Interim Publishing. Permission to republish is granted (with limitation*) but acknowledgement of source is *REQUIRED* (use

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News Bites

Vatican Dossier

  1. Benedict backs greater role for women

  2. Vatican calls on U.N. to strengthen policies promoting dignity of women

  3. Pope tells Roman Clergy: 'ultimate significance of Cross, is offering of self to others'

  4. Vatican Radio serves truth of Christ, builds world reconciliation, says Pope during visit

  5. Pope: Catholic Church should discussed expanded women's roles

  6. Traditional Lenten Meeting With the Clergy of Rome

  7. Pope's Address on Vatican Radio

  8. Benedict XVI's Discourse to Roman Major Seminary

  9. Holy See's Address on Violence Against Women

  10. Pope Visits Vatican Radio For Its 75th Anniversary

  11. Design Policies to Favor Women

  12. Other Pontifical Acts


  1. "Sexual liberation" cause of disorders in one in four German youth

  2. Pro-Life, pro-family Catholic politician under fire for gay rights fund-raiser speech

  3. Americans said not to understand Roe v. Wade

  4. Massachusetts politicians oppose bishops on gay adoptions

  5. National Post Article Criticizes Harper for Avoiding Abortion Issue

  6. Canadian Bishops Conference Website Cited for Problems with Fidelity

  7. Abortion and African-Americans

World Features

  1. Firecrackers go off in Nazareth basilica; government embarrassed

  2. Bishop from north: respect ceasefire "at all costs"

  3. Church in Germany to send Lenten Biblical passage via cell phone text messaging

  4. Arroyo lifts state of emergency

  5. Philippine Catholic bishops: Crisis may not be over with state of emergency lifting

  6. Kenyan bishop defends press freedom after government raid

News Briefs

  1. Cardinal Sean O'Malley to address Jewish community

  2. Los Angeles Times and New York Times Cheer Religious Speech

  3. Boston Bishop may be poised to regain control over controversial Catholic Charities

  4. Catholic Charities share goals, frustrations of recent post-Katrina efforts

  5. Florida Town to Ban Abortion, Contraception, Pornography

  6. Anglican-Catholic talks to continue, says bishop

  7. Massachusetts Bishop Refuses to Present Award to Pro-Abortion Honoree

Views, Interviews, and Commentaries

  1. Vatican slams Guantanamo Bay

  2. Human dignity not being fully respected in Guantanamo prison says Cardinal Martino

  3. Dropping papal title does not advance ties, Orthodox prelate says

  4. Lone Canadian Bishop Responds to Priests' Dissent: "Forget About it"

Slain Priests

  1. Mother Forgives Priest Son's Turkish Murderer


  1. New Rules Don't Bring More Religious Freedom to China

  2. Albany Lawmakers Must Censure Adele Cohen

  3. Bishop decries silence of political leaders in response to attacks on Christianity in Spain

  4. Belarus: Why can't believers speak on social themes?


  1. Chicago cardinal won't resign, church officials say


  1. Origins of Lent

  2. Ash Wednesday message points to need for God, says Biloxi Bishop


  1. Father Cantalamessa on Creating "a Bit of Desert"


  1. Another Kind of Catholic: Breakaway groups reject Vatican teaching on issues such as priestly celibacy and divorce

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Umbert the Unborn

Cardinal Levada explains reasons for not admitting homosexuals to the priesthood

Rome, Mar. 02, 2006 (CNA) - During an installation ceremony of the new rector of the North American Pontifical College in Rome, Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, “The public recognition of homosexuality places the priest at odds with the spousal character of love.”

“A priest with open manifestations of homosexuality makes it difficult for the faithful to see him as a representative of Christ. Likewise, the public recognition of homosexuality places the priest at odds with the spousal character of love as revealed by God and imaged in humanity,” the cardinal-designate told some 170 seminarians.

Cardinal Levada highlighted some of the new challenges facing seminaries, including implementation of the Vatican instruction on homosexuality, which says that men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" should not be admitted to the seminary or ordained to the priesthood.

Regarding the issue of psychosexual maturity, Cardinal-designate Levada said, "the question also needs to be viewed from its theological perspective," particularly in light of the biblical images of God's spousal relationship with his people and Gospel passages in which Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom.

“I think we must ask, ‘Does [a priest who makes his homosexuality public] recognize how this act places an obstacle to his ability to represent Christ the bridegroom to his bride, the people of God?” said the cardinal-designate.

Does he not see how his declaration places him at odds with the spousal character of love as revealed by God and imaged in humanity?” he emphasized

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Rajasthan to adopt anti-conversion law

Nirmala Carvalho

State government is led by nationalist BJP. Catholics oppose the bill but local authorities turn a deaf ear to their appeals. With this law, the government is giving its tacit approval to anti-Christian violence, says bishop of Jaipur.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The government of Rajasthan says it “does not want to create divisions in the state” among religious communities, but some of its prominent members want the state to adopt an anti-conversion law which would further aggravate the current wave of anti-Christian violence that is sweeping the state. Nationalist-oriented Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power, wants to pass the bill “as soon as possible”, but local Catholic Church leaders view the law as “a tacit approval by the government of violence, an incitement to anti-Christian sentiment” and are gearing up to oppose it.

“We are one family in Rajasthan,” Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje told the state Legislative Assembly, and those responsible for the latest violence against Christians will be “severely punished”.

Congress Party lawmakers charged however the chief minister with refusing to meet a delegation of Christians, which had approached her to seek protection from attacks against their community.

In an interview with AsiaNews, Mgr Oswald Lewis, bishop of Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital, said the Church will oppose the so-called ‘Freedom of Religion Bill”.

He said that some Catholic representatives met the Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, and assured him that there was “no need for such a law”. But Kataria kept saying that such a law was necessary.

In late February the minister insisted that the “draft bill was being given final touches” ready to be tabled “in the Assembly's budget session and [. . .] passed into legislation as soon as possible.”

Statistical data suggest that conversions to Christianity are infinitesimal and not a threat, but did show according to Bishop Lewis that “conversions when they do take place are neither forced nor fraudulent” as Hindu fundamentalist claim.

It is clear however that since October 2005 it is anti-Christian violence that has been rising at an “alarming rate”.

The pretext for recent attacks has been the publication of the Hindi edition of book, originally written in English and released by a Protestant group, allegedly offensive to Hinduism.

Last Sunday for instance, despite police presence Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists prevented Christians from holding prayers in a church and vandalised two mission schools in Jaipur.

According to the prelate, if the law is adopted, the state government is giving “its tacit approval to the violence and encouraging anti-Christian sentiments that will cause major loss of life and property”.

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Germany’s Carnival – OK to Bash Catholic Church but Islam off Limits

COLOGNE, March 2, 2006 ( - Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday and Pancake Tuesday are among the many names for the custom of keeping a festival on the last day before the beginning of the Christian penitential season of Lent. In most countries that have European roots, Mardi Gras has always included elements mocking Catholic ceremonies and customs.

But the tone has changed since the growth of what Christians are recognizing as a new militant secularism that specifically fosters hatred of Christianity. One skit planned for Cologne features the Pope and the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne as homosexual pop stars who end up in bed together. Last year, a float in the Dusseldorf parade showed Cardinal Meisner striking a match to a pregnant woman tied to the stake, the words "I had an abortion" written on her. The float’s caption read, “Fostering Tradition.”

The custom for making fun of Cathlic symbols goes back to the middle ages said Matthias von der Bank, a historian from Cologne's Carnival Museum said, “In the Middle Ages, carnival was a festival of reverse worlds and a playful expression of this," von der Bank said. "So Christian symbols, for example, were turned upside down.”

Von der Bank said, however, that the tone today has changed from playful satire to one of vicious attack. Slandering the church was not part of carnival's festivities he told a German newspaper.

“Our philosophy is that Carnival should be fun and friendly,” Sigrid Krebs, spokesman for the Cologne carnival committee said. "But they have never been aimed at harming or offending people nor will they in the future," Krebs said.

Although the rule of the Düsseldorf carnival committee was that there would be no floats dealing with religion this year, parade organizers seem to feel that Catholicism does not qualify. A float in the Dusseldorf parade featured a statue of Pope Benedict wearing the jersey of the often-defeated soccer team Fortune. The message was clear: the Catholic Church is the losing team and attacking it is acceptable.

Bernd Jost, spokesman for the Dusseldorf carnival committee said that the religion the committee wants to exempt is Islam. “In view of the current debate, we will be keeping very clear of things related to Muslims,” Jost said. “We don't want to fuel hatred,” Jost said. But he admitted that the real motive is the need to keep parade spectators safe.

Last year’s parade floats reflected a more egalitarian secularism and included one in which a Muslim Imam was crawling out of a hamburger.

Jacques Tilly, an organizer of Dusseldorf’s parade said he thought the restriction was a compromise. Reflecting a more even-handed antipathy for religion, Tilly said, “Religion is in my eyes a delusion and hence should be mocked. The humour depicted on the floats simply needs to have some bite otherwise there is little point.”

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Pope opens season of fasting for Christians

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI ushered in the spiritual fasting season of Lent on the day Christians call Ash Wednesday, telling crowds of pilgrims at the Vatican they must open their eyes to the poor and the needy.

"We too are called to be attentive to the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters as part of our Lenten observance," Benedict told more than 10,000 pilgrims at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square.

"Lent is a favourable time to convert oneself to love, and to open our eyes to the needs of our brothers," the 78-year-old pontiff said as he began the 40-day period of penitence preceding Easter.

Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent, is traditionally a time for spiritual self-examination.

In the afternoon, Benedict presided over prayers in the Church of St Anselm on Rome's Aventine Hill. Shortly afterwards, he led a procession of cardinals and other clergy as well as ordinary faithful to the nearby Basilica of St Sabina for mass.

His predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, began the annual procession and maintained it until overcome by infirmity in the later years of his life. He led the Catholic Church's Ash Wednesday ceremonies from his hospital suite last year.

At the mass -- as part of the worldwide practice for Catholics on Ash Wednesday -- the pontiff received the ashes in the shape of the cross high on his forehead from Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko.

Benedict used the ash, symbolising mortality and penitence, to mark the sign of the cross on the heads of dozens of his cardinals, bishops and priests who lined up before him in the church, which was packed with worshippers.

In his homily, he said Lent was a "a challenge" a "spiritual battle against sin and ultimately against Satan, the origin and cause of every sin."

"Love is the only Christian response to the violence which threatens peace in the world," said Benedict, marking the first Lent of his pontificate.

From next Sunday, the pope will cancel his public appearances for a week to undertake a series of "spiritual exercises" with members of the Roman Curia, or Vatican government, under the guidance of Cardinal Marco Ce, the former Venice Patriarch.

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News Bites

Vatican Dossier

  1. Pope appeals against racism at football game

  2. Pope Benedict drops one of his nine titles

  3. Christian Life is a ceaseless struggle against evil

  4. Audiences

  5. Other Pontifical Acts


  1. Massachusetts governor would support abortion ban, and would respect Catholic Charities regarding adoption by Homosexuals

  2. Boston Catholic Charities Board Members Resign over Church Defence of Children

World Features

  1. Italian Panel: Soviets Behind Pope Attack

  2. Catholics seek 'just model' in Bosnia-Herzegovina

  3. Commission to investigare persecution and collaboration of clergy during Communist Poland

  4. Jesuit journal challenges "moderate" Islamic leaders

News Briefs

  1. Democrats Statement of principles seen as a "sham" and "bundle of contradictions" by Catholic leaders

  2. Destroyed Biloxi chruch begins slow rebuilding process


  1. US Church speaks out against Pakistan anti-Christian attacks

  2. Police clear Anhui bible school by force and arrest 36

  3. North Korea ranked top persecutor of Christians

Views, Interviews, and Commentaries

  1. Islamism is the "new totalitarianism", says a group of intellectuals

  2. Archbishop Cordes decries lack of apostolic spirit in certain ecclesial institutions

Butt-head Award nominees

  1. Catholic Democrats Issue Letter Defending Pro-Abortion Stance

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Umbert the Unborn

[This may have been published last year but this is the first I have seen it - Q]

The Pope: Lent is a time to oppose goodness to evil, the truth to lies and love to hatred

In celebrating Ash Wednesday mass, Benedict XVI talks about the struggle against evil and urges the faithful to practice charity.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Christians should not respond to the violence threatening world peace with vengeance, hatred or flight into false spiritualism; they should oppose goodness to evil, the truth to lies, and love to hatred.

In the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Ash Wednesday mass. In his homily, he said that the fight against evil was at the centre of the spirituality of Lent that seeks personal renewal.

The Pontiff reached the old basilica in a procession from the Church of Church of St Anselm and in doing so he renewed with a practice that John Paul II had to stop when he became too ill.

Benedict XVI, on whom Card Jozef Tomko, titular of the basilica, imposed the ashes, said that Lent “reminds us that Christian life is an endless fight with weapons like prayers, fasting and penitence. The struggle against evil and every form of selfishness and hatred, and allowing oneself to die so that we can live in God is the ascetic path that every disciple of Jesus is called to follow with humility and patience, generosity and perseverance. To meekly follow the divine Master makes Christians witnesses and apostles of peace. One might say that this inner attitude helps us better illustrate what the Christian response should be to the violence threatening world peace. It certainly isn’t vengeance, hatred or flight into false spiritualism. Those who follow Christ can find their answer in following the path chosen by He who, faced with the evils of His and all times, embraced without hesitation the Cross, taking the longest but more effective path of love. In following His footsteps, in joining Him, we must commit ourselves to oppose goodness to evil, the truth to lies, and love to hatred”.

“Every day, especially at Lent, Christians must face a struggle like Christ’s struggle in the Judean desert where the devil tempted Him for 40 days, and then in the Gethsemane where he rejected the ultimate temptation and fully accepted His Father’s will. This is a spiritual struggle against sin and, ultimately, against Satan who is the “origin and cause of every sin” (Rite of Baptism, Profession of Faith). It is a struggle that involves the whole person and demands careful and constant vigilance.”

Lastly, the Pope spoke about another facet of Lent, namely “charity. “Love,” he said, “must be translated into actual deeds towards our fellow men, especially the poor and needy, always on the understanding that “righteous deeds” are subordinate to a sincere relationship with the “Father who sees in secret” and “repays” those who do good deeds in humble and disinterested ways (cf Mt, 6: 1, 4, 6, 18).

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Half million copies of Deus Caritas est distributed in Spain during first month

Madrid, Mar. 01, 2006 (CNA) - Since its publication one month ago, more than 515,000 copies of Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical “Deus Caritas est” have been distributed in Spain. Publishers have announced they will be printing a new edition in order to meet the demand.

Europa Press reports that of the total number sold, 350,000 copies were distributed by religious media outlets, while the other 165,000 were sold by the five main Catholic publishers.

Among the religious media, Alfa and Omega distributed the most, with about 340,000 copies. The magazine “Eclessia” distributed around 10,000 and the publisher Edibesa distributed 45,000 copies, or 5000 per day, since the publication of the encyclical.

Antonio Pelillo Moraza, commercial director of the Library of Christian Authors, told Europa Press the first 15,000 copies of the encyclical sold out before the end of January and that a new issue would be forthcoming.

The publisher San Pablo issued two editions numbering 60,000 copies, which sold out during January as well. The Spanish Conference of Bishops also published 15,000 copies

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Pro-life groups applaud Scheidler victory

Washington DC, Mar. 01, 2006 (CNA) - Priests for Life and Concerned Women for America (CWA) applaud the unanimous Supreme Court decision that peaceful demonstrations outside abortion clinics could not be deemed extortion.

The judges ruled 8-0 in the NOW v. Scheidler case. After having this issue battled in the courts for more than 19 years, Joseph Scheidler and other pro-life demonstrators were exonerated of all allegations.

CWA filed two amicus briefs in this case and CWA president Wendy Wright testified at the trial, providing eyewitness accounts that violence did not occur, contrary to the claims made by NOW.

“For decades, in this case and many others, pro-choice groups have tried to paint us who oppose abortion as violent people. Today, yet again, that strategy fails,” said Priests for Life national director Fr. Frank Pavone.

He urged pro-life citizens to be more active. “The proper response to this ruling is to increase our peaceful, legal presence at killing centers everywhere, without fear of ridicule, false arrest, or persecution.”

He said pastors should encourage and join their people in prayerful protest outside abortion clinics. “The Supreme Court takes our First Amendment rights seriously; so should we,” he said.

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, in his statement on the Courts ruling said that "Today's ruling by the Supreme Court puts an end to two decades of abuse by radical pro-abortion forces against one of America's most stalwart pro-life heroes. It is our desire that today's ruling will be a herald of even better news to come from our nation's highest court. It is becoming clearer by the day that our nation is recognizing the truth of abortion's heinous nature and that the days of Roe v. Wade are numbered."

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Marriage: a lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love, say Arizona Bishops

Phoenix, Mar. 01, 2006 (CNA) - In response to a growing movement that favors making same-sex unions the equivalent of marriage, the Arizona Catholic Conference Bishops have released a joint pastoral statement entitled “Why is Marriage Important to the Catholic Church?”

The three bishops of Arizona, Bishop Donald Pelotte, SSS (Diocese of Gallup), Bishop Gerald Kicanas (Diocese of Tucson), and Bishop Thomas Olmsted (Diocese of Phoenix) decided to reveal publicly their deep concern “for our Catholic believers and the well-being of society here in Arizona regarding the meaning of marriage.”

The Bishops defined Marriage as “a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love, and designed by God.” “Same-sex unions,” on the other hand, have an entirely different meaning because “they lack both natural complementarity and the ability to generate new life naturally,” they insisted.

The pastoral statement goes on to recognize that marriage is the foundation of the family and that the family is the basic unit of society. Marriage is, therefore, acknowledged as a “personal relationship with enormous public significance.”

In this statement, the bishops express their commitment to “preserve the unique and irreplaceable status that marriage has always had in our society” and have, therefore, chosen this time to express their support for the Protect Marriage Arizona initiative.

In declaring their support, the bishops note that the Church is opposed to legal recognition of same-sex unions “in order to prevent the redefinition and devaluation of the institution of marriage.” Nonetheless, the bishops add “[a]t the same time, however, we reiterate the Church’s teaching that people of whatever orientation must always be treated with compassion and respect and that their civil liberties must be protected.”

The statement concludes by stating that there are no legal restrictions to collecting initiative signatures on church grounds, but that because these places are primarily for worship, permission from the pastor should be sought before conducting such activities.

The complete text of the statement is available at

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Mississippi follows South Dakota’s lead, moves ahead on no-exception abortion bill

Catholic Online

JACKSON, Miss. (Catholic Online) – A Mississippi House committee voted Feb. 28 to ban most abortions in the state, in an action similar to one last week in South Dakota that seeks to provoke a high court case over the legality of abortion.


Mississippi, according to the Associated Press, already has some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation.

The state House Public Health Committee bill would allow abortion only to save the pregnant woman’s life, and, like the South Dakota legislation awaiting the governor’s signature, would make no exception in cases of rape or incest. The bill now goes to the full Mississippi House, which could vote next week, and then to the state Senate.

The state, like South Dakota, has one abortion clinic, in Jackson, and its leaders plan to fight if more restrictions are imposed, according to the AP.

The South Dakota legislation went to Republican Gov. Mike Rounds on Tuesday, and he has 15 days to act. Rounds has said he’s inclined to sign the bill into law.

The South Dakota House of Representatives, on the heels of the state Senate action earlier in the week, approved legislation Feb. 24 that, if signed by Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, could prompt a national legal battle over Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.

The measure, which would establish South Dakota to become the first state in 14 years to make a direct assault on the right to abortion, would ban all abortions in the state except those to save the woman's life. In 1992, the Supreme Court reaffirmed a core right to abortion in the landmark case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

According to MSNBC and the AP, Rounds, who received the legislation on Feb. 28 and has 15 days to act on it, said he was inclined to sign the bill.

Other state legislatures are considering similar measures. But South Dakota is the only state so far to pass such an abortion ban, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights organization in New York and Washington, D.C., the AP reported.

Abortion rights opponents and advocates have debated the timing of efforts to attack Roe v. Wade, noting the arrivals of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on the Supreme Court and speculation that Justice John Paul Stevens might soon retire.

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News Bites

Vatican Dossier

  1. Pope Recommends Lenten Immersion in The Word of God

  2. Pope calls Lent 'favorable moment to convert to love', to look with compassion on our brothers and sisters

  3. Pope Benedict prays for young people, their search for life

  4. Fasting, Almsgiving and Prayer to conform us to Christ

  5. Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for March

  6. Other Ponticical Acts


  1. Two-Child Policy Stalled in Filipino Legislature

  2. Abortion dominates discussion on Catholic politicians

Church Appointments

  1. Pope names new bishop for Gaveston_Houston

  2. Bishop Named for Ferns Diocese

World Features

  1. Samaritans of the Street reach out to drug addicts and trouble youth


  1. Another Church Set On Fire in Pakistan

  2. Kazakhstan: Three-day Baptist detention while family awaits eviction

Views, Interviews, and Commentaries

  1. Catholics should be proud of their faith and willing to share it, says newly appointed cardinal Archbishop Ricard of Bordeaux

  2. Abortion Albatross Plagues Catholic Dems

  3. Archbishop Naumann: either allow discussion of Intelligent Design into classrooms, or keep philosophy of materialism out


  1. Getting the Most out of Lent