Bishop defends position on life
AN AMERICAN archbishop has defended his decision to write to Catholic legislators warning them of the spiritual dangers of their votes against
Archbishop Raymond Burke of La Crosse was speaking at a news conference to discuss his appointment by Pope John Paul 11 as the eighth archbishop of St Louis.
"It is my duty as bishop to present the Church's teaching," he said. "I would be less than faithful as their spiritual leader were I not to do as much. I know this has been construed as a form of electioneering, but I can tell you it was not that at all."
On December 4, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel daily newspaper broke the story that Archbishop Burke had sent the letters to three Catholic legislators: state Senator Julie Lassa, another Wisconsin state lawmaker and a US congressman.
Due to the confidential nature of the letters, Archbishop Burke declined to name the legislators and congressman involved. The Sentinel article stated that the newspaper obtained a copy of the letter sent to Lassa under the state's open-record s I a "I'm concerned that the bishop would pressure legislators to vote according to the dictates of the Church instead of the wishes of their constituents because that is not consistent with our democratic ideals," Senator Lassa told the Sentinel. "When I was elected, I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, and that means I have to represent all the people of all faiths in my district."
Education will beat poverty
JOHN PAUL 11 has said that Paraguay's development depends on education, and
he called for initiatives to improve the quality of health care, housing and working conditions.
The Pope made this proposal to Marcos Martinez Mendieta, the new ambassador from Paraguay to the Holy See, during the ceremony to present his letters of credence.
The Holy Father explained that the aim of Paraguay's development was to ensure "everyone can develop fully as a human being, thus preparing the new generations to completely assume their responsibilities as citizens able to participate in the progress of the nation, all united in the active pursuit of the common good".
He added that Paraguay's development required "initiatives that really increase everyone's quality of life, paying special attention to the area of health, housing and working conditions."
Paraguay, which has just over six million inhabitants, is 85.5 per cent Catholic. There are 21 bishops, 355 diocesan priests, 442 priests religious, 56 permanent deacons, 358 male religious (not priests), 4,949 female religious, and 39,107 catechists.
Patenting vote protects life
A QUIET vote in the American lower house of parliament on patent law may emerge as a significant victory for the Life movement in the United States.
In a 242 to 176 vote, the USHouse of Representatives passed HR 2799, the Federal Year 2004 CommerceJustice-State Appropriations The I 000-page bill contains an amendment introduced by Representative Dave Weldon, banning any government right to process and issue patents of "human organisms" such as human embryos (including those created in-vitro) and cloned humans.
The amendment, added to the bill in July of this year, consists of a brief statement : "None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this act may be used to issue patents on claims directed to or encompassing a human organism".
Advocates of the ban argue that such patents would violate the 13th amendment of the American Constitution, which prohibits slavery or involuntary servitude. This is because the patented humans would be legally owned by others.
Pray rosary, urge bishops
AMERICAN BISHOPS are urgng Catholics to practice popular devotions like the rosary to transform Catholic culture as US state authorities actively attempt to prohibit external expressions of Christian faith and culture.
New York City schools are allowing Jewish menorahs and Islamic crescents, but have tried to ban Christian nativity scenes.
In a statement, the bishops' conference declared: "In genuine forms of popular piety, the Gospel message assimilates expressive forms particular to a given culture while also permeating the consciousness of that culture with the content of the Gospel."
They cite examples of devotion such as pilgrimages, novena.s, processions and celebrations in honour of Mary and the other saints, the rosary, the Angelus, the Stations of the Cross, the veneration of relies and the use of sacramental.
Marian statue desecrated
IN VENeztiELA, the Archdiocese of Caracas has expressed sorrow over the public "mutilation" of images of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the hands of supporters loyal to President Hugo Chavez.
The attack took place earlier this month when a march by sympathisers of "Chavismo" passed by the Plaza Ronda of Altamira on the way to Bolivar Avenue.
In a statement, the archdiocese said such incidents did "not only fail to reflect the feelings of the majority of Venezuelans, who identify with Catholic faith," but "are rejected, both for the offence itself against such venerated images and also the fact that they demonstrate those who have acted in this way have lost their values."
ln response to the attacks, the text invites Catholic faithful "to work tirelessly so that the values of truth, justice, love, and peace will be present in the life of all of us who live in Venezuela".
The text was signed by Caracas' auxiliary bishops: Nicolas Berimidez Villamizar, apostolic administrator; Roberto Davila Uzcategui; and Saill Figueroa Albornoz.