Monday, July 26, 2004

Pope Calls for End to Violence in Africa

Yesterday, Pope John Paul II called for worldwide attention to ongoing violence in Africa, taking special note of crises in Sudan and Uganda.

"For over eighteen years, the North of Uganda has been scourged by an inhuman conflict, which affects millions of people, especially children," the Pope said.  He further discussed Sudan, noting that "The war, which has intensified in recent months, brings with it ever more poverty, despair, and death . . .  How can we remain indifferent?"

In Uganda, the Lord's Resistance Army is fuelled primarily by abducted child soldiers.  A vast majority of citizens of Northern Uganda live in government-run camps for internally-displaced, and face serious shortages of food as well as sub-standard water and sanitation.

In Sudan, a crisis is unfolding of proportions potentially matching Rwanda's 1994 genocide, if a stronger response from the international community is not heard.  Tens, or possible even hundreds, of thousands of civilians have already perished, and estimates through the end of the year for deaths are as high as half of a million.  Many non-governmental organizations are labeling the crisis as genocide, as Arab militias rape and pillage Black communities.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Vatican to Investigate Newest Sex Scandal

The New York Times reports today that the Pope has appointed an Austrian Bishop, Klaus K√ľng of the Austrian city of Feldkirch, to investigate claims of homosexual activity and viewing of child pornography in an Austrian seminary 40 miles west of Vienna.

Pornographic material of minors is illegal in most countries, including Austria, and police recently arrested one seminarian after finding pornographic representations of minors on his computer.  An Austrian magazine recently published photos of the rector and vice-rector of the seminary kissing.

Calls for the Bishop of the diocese to resign have thus far been rebuked, though that possibility will be explored by the Papal investigator.  The Bishop first reported the problem to the police.

The reports have rocked the Catholic Church in Austria, which is still recovering from the resignation of its cardinal following accusations of child molestation that may have occurred decades ago.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Pope Ends 12-Day Vacation in Italian Alps

From Yahoo! News:

ROME - Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II ended a 12-day vacation in the Italian Alps on Saturday, taking up residence in the papal retreat in the Alban Hills outside Rome for the rest of the summer.

John Paul will stay at the papal palace in Castel Gandolfo through mid-September, except for a brief pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, in mid-August.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Pope Will Visit Ireland

MSNBC reports:
Pope John Paul II has accepted “in principle” an invitation to visit both parts of Ireland, although a trip this year appears unlikely, Catholic leaders announced Friday.

Catholic bishops last month invited the pope to come to Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of his first visit to the country in 1979. Unlike that trip, this visit would include the British territory of Northern Ireland.

Most likely, the visit will not take place in 2004.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Pope to Return Icon Revered by Orthodox in Russia

The New York Times reports:

Pope John Paul II will give a revered icon that often hangs in his private chapel back to Russia next month in an effort to sweeten the sometimes sour relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Vatican said Saturday that on Aug. 28, a Roman Catholic delegation will give the Mother of God of Kazan icon to Patriarch Aleksy II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The icon, which appeared in the Russian city of Kazan in 1579, disappeared to the West around the time of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

Pope Pushes for Millennium Development Goals

The Pope is using the networking power of the Catholic Church to establish a "Coalition of Support and Promotion for the Financing of Development," and has organized a conference for this Friday to be attended by officials of the UN, World Bank, IMF, as well as representatives from the Catholic hierarchy, national governments, and nongovernmental organizations.

"Poverty and Globalization: Financing for Development, Including the Millennium Development Goals" is the theme of the conference.

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace commented that "Special attention will be given to the present situation of the international debt and innovative financing proposals... The objective of the project is to collect funds that will make it possible to obtain the $50 billion needed annually to achieve the millennium's objectives before 2015."

Monday, July 12, 2004

Pope Calls for Silence

During his vacation in the Alps in Northern Italy, Zenit reports the Pope as having delivered an address regarding the merits of observing silence.

"In reality, only in silence does man succeed in hearing in the depth of his conscience the voice of God, which really makes him free."

Further, the Pope used this theme to level a subtle criticism on the modern world, which he sees as failing to make time for silence and communion with God, something which could be a powerful force for peace.

In avoiding silence, we run away from productive confrontation of our conscience, distracting ourselves from the change and growth God demands of us. Silence and patient self-examination are integral parts of the path to liberation from the constraints of this world.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Vatican reports deficit third year in a row reports:

The Vatican reported a deficit for the third consecutive year Wednesday but an increase in donations provided a bright spot at a time of some dismal financial news for the Catholic Church because of settlements from the sex abuse scandal.

In its annual financial report, the Vatican listed a 2003 deficit of about $11.8 million, 30 percent lower than than the 2002 figure. It reduced the shortfall despite the costs for the Holy See's expanding diplomatic missions.

At the same time, it reported an increase in contributions to the pope, known as Peter's Pence, which it said were used for various humanitarian relief efforts around the world and for the Catholic Church in the Holy Land.

Donate to Peter's Pence.

In other news, heavy rains have halted the Pope's drive into the Alps today, according to Zenit.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Pope prepares for vacation in Northern Italy reports:

Pope John Paul II leaves the Vatican today for a two-week stay in northern Italy's Aosta Valley.

No public activities are planned, and no stream of visitors will be coming through the door of his wood-and-stone chalet...

At the end of two weeks, the Holy Father returns to his summer villa at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome until the end of September.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Pope John Paul II on the war in Iraq

Polls have suggested that over two-thirds of American Catholics supported the war in Iraq.

"No to war! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity."

"When war, as in these days in Iraq, threatens the fate of humanity, it is ever more urgent to proclaim, with a strong and decisive voice, that only peace is the road to follow to construct a more just and united society... Violence and arms can never resolve the problems of men."

-Pope John Paul II, on the American attack on Iraq

Patriarch Bartholomew I Invites Pope to Turkey

From Yahoo! News:

The Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople has invited Pope John Paul II to visit him in November at his headquarters in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

"I have the impression that he will be able to come on November 30 for the feast of Saint Andrew," Patriarch Bartholomew I said Friday on the last day of his visit to the Vatican.

The patriarch's visit to Rome marks a "leap ahead in dialogue and the strengthening of fraternal relations" between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, the pope said Tuesday.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Non-Pontifical Fun!

Normally we only post about our beloved Pontiff on this esteemed weblog, but today I discovered two gems that I just couldn't pass up!

Firstly, I came across a great Web site that you should check out immediately- the Shrine of the Holy Whapping. It's maintained by five of my classmates at The University of Notre Dame. It's informative, it's Catholic and it's hilarious. Topics covered include Catholic identity at Notre Dame, politics, and, umm, the Holy Prepuce of Calcata. The Shrine of the Holy Whapping is on our blogroll, and it should be in your bookmarks!

Secondly, John Kerry has been charged with heresy on a complaint recently filed with the Archdiocese of Boston by canon lawyer Marc Balestrieri, J.C.L., an assistant judge with the tribunal of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Seriously. I read that there will be communication between the Vatican and the Archdiocese of Boston on this, and I am certainly very interested in seeing what happens. Read more about it here and read the complaint here.

Pope Prays for Iraqi People

ABC News reports:

Pope John Paul II sent to a message to Iraq's interim president Wednesday, saying he was praying that the hopes of the Iraqi people for "peace, freedom and prosperity" will soon be fulfilled.

The message to Ghazi al-Yawer said the worldwide Catholic Church is offering its support as a "new chapter begins in the life of the nation."

"The Holy Father is confident that all religious groups within the country will be able to make their voices heard," the message said.

Christians in Iraq amount to about 3 percent of the population. Most of them are in fact Chaldean Catholics. The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern Rite Church that is in full communion with our Holy Father and maintains a distinct identity within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It does not follow the Latin Rite, and therefore it not "Roman Catholic", but it is in fact wholly Catholic.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Vatican Frowns Upon Madonna (No, not the Blessed Virgin)

Thanks to the best blog ever, The Best Week Ever Blog, for this gem:

According to Jeannette Wall's Scoop, "the Vatican is holding a special summit with Catholic leaders from around the world, hammering out a way to deal with so-called 'New Age' religions and fads that pose a 'threat' to Christianity.

"The council, which met last week, singled out 'Kabbalah as espoused by Madonna' — as well as a number of other faddish religions, according to a report."

Madonna a threat to Christianity?

Vatican sources no longer ruling out papal visit to Ireland

IOL reports:

Vatican sources are no longer ruling out a visit to Ireland by Pope John Paul II...

Last week, Vatican sources dismissed the invitation, but reports this morning said they were no longer ruling out the possibility of a visit and were suggesting that Pope John Paul may decide to accept travel to Ireland in the autumn or next spring.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Pope is the Unity of the Universal Church

Yesterday, the Pope reflected in his general audience in the Vatican on the meaning of the pallium, which was received during Mass by 44 new bishops.

The pallium, a liturgical insignia that is a wool stole worn around the neck, is meant to be a "testimony of communion with the Bishop of Rome", according to the Pope.

"It expresses the fundamental principle of communion, which gives form to ecclesial life in every one of its aspects," the Pope said.

It "reminds one that this communion is organic and hierarchical; it manifests that the Church, to be one, is in need of the peculiar service of the Church of Rome and of its Bishop, head of the College of Bishops," he explained.

Further, the pallium represents the "catholicity", or universality, of the Catholic Church.

Pope thanks Military Order of Malta

VIS reports:

VATICAN CITY, JUN 22, 2004 (VIS) - This morning John Paul II received in audience Fra' Andrew Bertie, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Pope told him that the Holy See "appreciates the numerous services that your institution offers to the service of evangelization and, in particular, the many positive initiatives that it constantly promotes for the needy."

"I assure you that I pray for you," he said, "so that God, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, may bless every project of your institution, and I encourage you to continue generously along the path of fidelity to Christ and His Church."