The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

Catholic-Muslim statement on globalisation

Benefits and dangers recognised

A joint Catholic-Muslim statement from a conference in early July agreed on the benefits of globalisation but also warned of its dangers.

The seventh meeting of the Muslim-Catholic Linkage Commission, held in Rome from 3-4 July, published a joint statement. The topic of the meeting was "Religion and the Dialogue of Civilisations in the Era of Globalisation."

The commission acknowledged "the importance of globalisation and its benefits, while calling attention to its dangers, which create obstacles to the realisation of a commonly shared, just world order, the acceptance of just criteria whose objective is the well-being of all, respect for the religious and cultural values of human societies."

The document reaffirms that "with their material and technological dimension, civilisations are a common human patrimony; consequently, their positive elements should be preserved and their benefits placed at the disposition of all; developed and promoted in the interest of the safety and well-being of the whole of humanity."

The meeting¬ęs Catholic delegation was headed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The Muslim delegation was led by Dr Kamel al-Sharif, Secretary-General of the Da'wah and Relief International Islamic Council.

Both delegations agreed that religious values are fundamental to preserve human dignity, peaceful coexistence and the environment. They also noted the importance of dialogue between civilisations for a common commitment in favour of peace and the protection of humanity from disasters, poverty, ignorance, moral degradation, family disintegration, wars and the effects of weapons of mass destruction.

Commission members agreed to work together for a culture of dialogue, to resist consumerism, protect human dignity and rights, prevent aggression, oppression and injustice; to guarantee the right of refugees to return to their native countries; and to reject all forms of discrimination.

R.E. teacher's role spelled out

Live out the Gospel says US Bishop

A catechist's greatest pitfall is in failing to live out the Gospel personally, said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut. "The greatest occupational hazard we face in religious education and catechesis is that we get so busy with the business of spreading the Gospel that we fail to heed its message and live it out personally," said Bishop Lori, a keynote speaker and homilist at Franciscan University of Steubenville's St John Bosco Conference in July.

Nearly 400 religion teachers, parish directors of religious education, youth ministers and RCIA instructors gathered for the conference titled "Christ the Teacher."

Bishop Lori invited educators to "make a true gift of yourselves to Christ and the Church" by "leading very active lives in the spirit of contemplation."

Daily prayer and Scripture study are needed, he said, to hear God properly and to equip educators with "the vision to see Christ in the face of those we serve."

Zenit News Service

Colombia's bishops act on abortion

Catholic abortion procurers may be excomminicated

The Catholic Church in Colombia has warned doctors, medical practitioners, and judges who participate in procuring abortions that they may face excommunication. In a letter released last July, signed by all of the country's bishops, Colombians were called on to practise conscientious objection and refuse to participate in the "abominable crime of abortion."

"Believers can legally and conscientiously object with validity. That means that women, doctors, and even judges can excuse themselves from participating in this type of crime, because their beliefs do not permit it," says the letter.

In June, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled that abortion "in those cases where the woman has been a victim of violence, rape, or non-consensual artificial insemination" is not punishable by prison. The bishops said they would take steps to have the new law declared unconstitutional.

In 1999 the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) demanded that Colombia legalise abortion, as it reviewed that country's UN compliance report.

Catholic World News

Archbishop Chaput on stem cell research

Denounces media disinformation

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has recently denounced the fact that much of the massive media coverage "has fallen short of reasonable journalistic standards" in the debate over the federally-funded embryonic stem cell research.

Commenting on an editorial in the Denver Post, the Archbishop referred to the use of "bombastic and misleading information" in order to defend the anti-life position, judging the Church as "fanatical" and in opposition to the development of science.

"Let's be clear on this," he said, "Catholics do indeed oppose medical research that requires the destruction of human embryos. Millions of other Americans, religious and otherwise, share this moral conviction. We emphatically support science and medical advances - but we oppose the use of immoral means to achieve seemingly good goals, even when they include possible medical cures. Why? Because if the bloody legacy of the last century has taught us anything, it's that the end never justifies the means."

Archbishop Chaput also noted the Denver Post's attempt to "dehumanize embryos by calling them 'microscopic clumps of cells' or by insisting that they are 'unneeded'." But these "microscopic clumps of cells," he pointed out, "are genetically complete and unique human individuals. Their tiny size does not diminish their humanity - by exactly that same bad logic, an infant would be less human than an adult."

Church News

A father of seven who defied Nazis

Nikolaus Gross on the Church's List of Martyrs

Among the three decrees of martyrdom announced recently by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints was that of German Nikolaus Gross. A father of seven, his opposition to Nazism cost him his life. As a nonviolent opponent of the regime, he worked for the revolt of consciences against Hitler.

Gross's model life would in time be well summarised by the Diocese of Essen, in the motto chosen for the celebration of his beatification on 7 October 2000: "Faith, Love, Cross."

Born in Niederwenigern, near Essen, in 1898, Gross first worked in the mines. At 19 he registered in the Christian miners' labour union, and at 20 became a member of the Zentrum Christian Party. By 22 he was working with Westdeutschen Arbeiterzeitung, the newspaper of the Catholic Workers' Movement. Two years later, he was its director. From his headquarters in Cologne, he kept his readers informed about the harmful effects of Nazi doctrines.

"We, Catholic workers, strongly and clearly reject National Socialism, not only for political and economic reasons, but also, decidedly, because of our religious and cultural position," he said. Gross worked with the most distinguished Catholic intellectuals who opposed the regime, such as Jesuit Father Alfred Del, and layman Emil Letterhaus, who had a similar end.

What was important to Gross was to witness and transmit the faith. In 1943 he wrote: "The majority of great enterprises result from daily fulfilment of one's duty in small, everyday things. What is valuable in the doing is our special love for the poor and the sick."

Difficulties had begun with the advent of the Nazi regime. The newspaper was declared an "enemy of the state," and closed down in 1938. It continued, however, to publish an underground edition.

Although Gross and his companions were not implicated in the 20 July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler, he and members of his group were either imprisoned or executed. In Gross's underground writings confiscated by the Gestapo, he said: "If we are asked to do something that goes against God or the Faith, not only can we not do so, but we must refuse to obey."

In January 1945, Nikolaus Gross was executed in the Berlin-Plotzensee prison. His body was incinerated and the ashes scattered.

Zenit News Service

New Archbishop of Newark appointed

Bishop Myers of Peoria to lead one of the USA's largest archdioceses

Pope John Paul II in July named Bishop John J. Myers of the mid-western Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, as the fifth Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, which borders New York City. He succeeds Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was transferred from Newark at the beginning of January 2001 to serve as the Archbishop of Washington, DC.

Archbishop-designate Myers will serve as the spiritual leader of more than 1.3 million Catholics in one of the largest, oldest and most diverse dioceses in the United States. He had been Bishop of Peoria since 1990 and established a reputation there as one of the country's most staunchly orthodox bishops.

Edith Stein's role in papal encyclical

Linked to Pius XI's document against anti-Semitism

A letter by Edith Stein warning about Nazism inspired Pope Pius XI to write the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge against the anti-Semitism in Hitler's Germany, according to a recent TV documentary.

Italian Television Network Sat2000's program, "The Art of Living: The Century of Martyrdom", reported, "Stein wrote a letter to the Pontiff, Pius XI, when the racial persecutions began that later ended in the Nazi horror."

In the text of the letter, the philosopher and convert-turned-Carmelite nun "foresaw with great anticipation all the negative consequences of the Hitlerite fury."

The show's producers reported that Pius XI ordered the Vatican State Secretariat to thank Stein's family and sent them a blessing. The producers also mentioned several reasons why the Carmelite's words may have been decisive in the Pope's writing of the 1937 encyclical. Her letter is kept in the Vatican Archives and has never been published.

Edith Stein was born into a devout Jewish family in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland), in 1891. As Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, she died in an Auschwitz gas chamber on 9 August 1942 and was canonised in October 1998.

Zenit News Service

Kenyan leader urges chastity to curb AIDS

Asks nation to avoid promiscuity

President Daniel Arap Moi appealed to Kenyans to abstain for two years from promiscuous sexual relations to "save a generation" from being contaminated with AIDS.

The President made this appeal after the Government announced that it will import 300 million condoms to combat the disease, which is estimated to kill 700 Kenyans a day. The Kenyan Health Ministry said that 2.2 million of the nation¬ęs 30 million people are infected with AIDS.

"As President of the country, I feel embarrassed by the need to have to spend millions to import condoms, which could easily be avoided by those who are going to use them," said Moi.

Last June Moi said the death penalty should be applied to those who, knowing they have AIDS, give it to others.

The Catholic Church issued a statement affirming that "to import such a quantity of condoms implies that the Government accepts promiscuity." Likewise, Sheikh Mohammed Dor, Secretary-General of the Council of Imams, said the country is "committing suicide" by buying condoms, because it will encourage youth to experiment with sex and thus keep the AIDS problem going.

Zenit News Service

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