The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World


Pope John Paul II's moral influence in US

A poll conducted by ABC News in March found that more American Catholics saw their moral views influenced by Pope John Paul II than they did two years ago.

The poll showed that the Pope was broadly popular with 67 percent of Americans and 87 per cent of Catholics viewed him favorably.

ABC pointed out that these numbers are up from a 2003 poll taken on the 25th anniversary of the Pope's pontificate, which suggested that only 39 per cent of Catholics saw their morality influenced by the Holy Father. That number jumped in 2005 to 51%.

Further, the number of those whom ABC saw as practising Catholics, i.e., who attend Mass at least a few times a month, whose moral views were influenced by John Paul, jumped from 50 per cent in 2003, to 69 per cent in 2005.

Many saw the increased loyalty as a result of compassion over the Pope's declining health. Many Catholics, however, saw a new strength in the Holy Father, whose sufferings were an example to the world of the dignity of the human person at its weakest.

Catholic News Service


Vatican clashes with Argentine Government

The Vatican appeared headed for a showdown in March with the Government of Argentina, after that government announced the dismissal of a bishop who is the head chaplain for the armed forces. The Vatican characterised the bishop's dismissal as "a violation of religious liberty."

Argentine President, Nelson Kirchner, said on 18 March that he was withdrawing his approval - and funding - for Bishop Antonio Juan Baseotto, the head of the military ordinariate. The bishop had enraged government leaders with his stinging criticism of proposals to allow abortion in Argentine, where the practice is presently illegal.

After health minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia indicated support for plans to ease restrictions on abortion, Bishop Baseotto said that the government official should have a millstone put around his neck and "be thrown into the sea."

Although that suggestion was a clear reference to the words of Jesus regarding those who give scandal, government officials objected vigorously, saying that the bishop was recalling memories of the Argentine dictatorship which had literally thrown political opponents into the ocean during the 1970s.

The Argentine government appealed to the Vatican to remove Bishop Baseotto from his spot as vicar for the military. When the Vatican refused, President Kirchner announced his decision to cut off support for the military diocese. In doing so, he revoked a 2002 agreement with the Holy See in which his government agreed to fund the military diocese.

The Catholic bishops had been critical of Kirchner's Government in recent weeks, as Argentina struggles through a long political and economic crisis. In an interview in early March, Archbishop Estanislao Karlic, the President of the Argentine bishops' conference, suggested that the country's people were facing "a crisis of confidence in their leaders."

Catholic World News


New US pro-life community of priests

The Director of Priests for Life, Fr Frank Pavone, has called for the creation of a new religious community for men, whose charism would be the defence and promotion of life. He said he was "convinced that the time has come" for such a community.

"I have met numerous young men across the country ready to devote their lives to their unborn brothers and sisters," he said.

The purpose of the community would not be to take over pro-life work in the country and take away every Christian's basic call to defend the sanctity of life, but to "raise a trumpet call to the whole Church to give the defence of life the priority it deserves, at every level of Church life and ministry," he said.

Fr Pavone recalled how the late Cardinal O'Connor's call to set up a community of religious women dedicated to pro-life work received hundreds of responses. The first eight women entered the newly formed Sisters of Life in June 1991 and there are now more than 45 members and several convents in the New York City area.

In the meantime, Priests for Life will continue to help priests become stronger in their pro-life work within their assignments as diocesan priests and within other communities, he said.

Fr Pavone can be contacted at vocations@priestsforlife.org

Catholic News Service


UK Cardinal tells Catholics to reject Labour

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has entered Britain's election campaign by backing opposition Tory leader Michael Howard's stance on abortion and withdrawing its traditional support for the Labour Party.

The Times reported that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor praised Mr Howard's call for a cut in the legal abortion limit from 24 to 20 weeks and suggested that Labour was no longer the natural party of choice for the UK's six million Catholics.

His views could be particularly significant in marginal constituencies with large Catholic populations.

Mr Howard's commitment to find parliamentary time for a debate on cutting the legal time limit contrasted with Mr Blair's view that there was no pressing need for a change.

The Cardinal said: "I am very pleased that this has been brought out on to the public agenda and that there is going to be a debate about it, both in the lead-up to and after the next election. It is a key issue. The position is that we are totally opposed to abortion."

Praising Mr Howard's commitment to reducing the time limit, he said: "This is something we can commend on the way to a full abandonment of abortion."

He spoke out as the Catholic bishops of England and Wales issued their general election letter advising Catholics on how to decide about casting their vote. The issues included marriage and the family, criminal justice, education, the global common good and immigration.

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