Sunday, August 29, 2004

Pope Recalls St. John the Baptist

Today, on the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the Pope said during the Angelus that martyrdom is "the high point of the witness to moral truth." reports:

The Baptist’s martyrdom, the Pope said, reminds us of the "martyrs of the faith" and the many Christians "who last century suffered religious hatred in various European countries."

Today, the Pope added, there are martyrs still, "believers subject to hardships in many parts of the world for following Christ and His Church."

To these Christians the Pope pledged "the solidarity of the entire Church community."

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Pope's gift to Russia

The Australian reports on the Pope's gift to Russia and his wishes to visit the country.

THE Pope hinted yesterday that he hoped the return to Russia of a revered Orthodox icon would enable him to pay a visit to Moscow, fulfilling one of his last remaining travel ambitions.

At an elaborate ceremony in the Vatican, to the sound of Byzantine chants used in the Russian Church, the Pope gave the icon of the Madonna of Kazan to a delegation who will take it to Russia today after public veneration in Rome.

The Pope hopes the gesture will start a thaw in icy Catholic-Orthodox relations and help heal the thousand-year schism in the church between East and West.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Pope Condemns Human Cloning

Pope John Paul II said that scientific research should not "manipulate" human beings with human cloning projects. Reuters reports:

Pope John Paul on Sunday condemned human cloning as an arrogant attempt to improve on God's creation. "The sense of power that every technical progress inspires in man is well known," the pope said in a message sent from his summer residence in Castelgandolfo to a meeting of prominent Catholic cultural, political and business leaders in the Italian city of Rimini.

"The attempt by man to appropriate the source of life by experimenting with human cloning is example enough," he said in a message sent at the start of the week-long event.

Friday, August 20, 2004

The Pope's Next Trip

We try to stay humble, but it is hard when we are picked as one of "the coolest, most interesting faith-based weblogs" by Beliefnet. Aww, shucks! Meanwhile, we've uncovered the schedule of the Pope's next trip. reports:

The Vatican said John Paul would fly on Sept. 5 from his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, to Loreto, an Italian town near the Adriatic which is home to a shrine to the Virgin Mary. There the 84-year-old pope will celebrate a stamina-testing two-hour outdoor Mass.

...Vatican officials have raised the possibility the pope might make a pilgrimage to Istanbul, Turkey, taking up the invitation of a Christian Orthodox leader, in the coming months.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Al-Sadr agrees to the Pope's mediation in Najaf

Aljazeera.Net reports on the Vatican's willingness to mediate between Muqtada al-Sadr and the occupation forces.

The Vatican confirmed that Pope John Paul II is ready to mediate between Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr and US-led occupation forces.

A spokesman for al-Sadr, whose forces are locked in an intense battle inside the city with US-led troops, has already welcomed the proposal.

But Vatican spokesman Ciro Benedettini told journalists on Tuesday the Pope was only willing to mediate if requested to do so by both sides in the conflict.

Lourdes Visit Was Pope's Farewell

Daily Record reports on the Pontiff's visit to Lourdes.

THE Pope may have been making his final farewell at Lourdes, a cardinal said yesterday.

Godfried Danneels said the pontiff was 'seriously weakened' during his weekend pilgrimage to the French shrine.

Danneels was with Pope John Paul II, who has Parkinson's disease.

...The 84-year-old pontiff, who also suffers crippling hip and knee problems, trembled as he celebrated Mass for an estimated 300,000 pilgrims at a shrine to the Virgin Mary.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Pope Speaks Against Human Cloning

Gulf Daily News reports on the Pope's opposition to human cloning:

The Vatican reiterated its firm opposition yesterday to human cloning after the British government gave a research team permission to use human cloning for medical research purposes.

"The Holy Father has always unequivocally condemned all forms of human cloning, even for therapeutic purposes," Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.

..."Science itself points to other forms of therapeutic intervention which would not involve cloning or the use of embryonic cells, but rather would make use of stem cells taken from adults," the head of the Roman Catholic Church told an international congress of transplant specialists in 2000.

"This is the direction that research must follow if it wishes to respect the dignity of each and every human being, even at an embryonic stage," the Pope said.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Pope John Paul II to Visit Lourdes

Khaleej Times Online reports on the Pope's upcoming visit to Lourdes.

Pope John Paul II will once again thrust aside concerns over his failing health when he travels to the French Pyrenees town of Lourdes next weekend for the 104th foreign visit of his pontificate

...After his arrival on Saturday, the pope will say the Angelus at the grotto. Later in the day, he will recite the rosary there and preside over the recitation of the Stations of the Cross, ending at the basilica of Lourdes where he is to read a prayer to close the ceremony. In the evening he will preside over a torchlit procession from the grotto to the town’s huge basilica where the pontiff will read a prayer he himself has written.

The next day, the pope will go to the sacristy of the Church of Sainte Bernadette near the Sanctuary of Lourdes where he will celebrate mass and deliver a homily.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Pope Announces New Sports Department

Pope John Paul II announced yesterday, according to the Associated Press, the creation of a new sports department in the Vatican.

The Pope hopes the department will provide new means for evangelization, as he considers sports to be an integral aspect to cultures around the world, of recent tainted by fan violence and doping scandals.

The department will have officials in the upcoming Olympic Games in Greece, as well as in various national and international sports leagues. The Pope also hopes to generate more involvement with athletic activity at the parish level.

During his younger days, John Paul II himself was an avid sportsman, commonly taking summer vacations to hike through the Alps or go skiing in Italy; he was also his high school soccer team's goalkeeper.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Pope demands immediate release of Bishop Misael Vacca Ramirez

The Hindu reports:

Pope John Paul II today demanded Marxist Colombian rebels immediately release a Roman Catholic bishop they are holding, denouncing the kidnapping as an unjustifiable "criminal action."

Bishop Misael Vacca Ramirez of Yopal was seized yesterday by members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, the smaller of Colombia's two main rebel groups...

The Vatican said the pope was deeply concerned by what he described as a "criminal action, in no way justifiable," and called for the bishop's immediate release.