POPE VISITS EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO BLESSED JOHN PAUL II
VATICAN CITY, 6 JUL 2011 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI visited an exhibition dedicated to Blessed John Paul II. The exhibition is currently being held in the Charlemagne Wing at the left colonnade of St. Peter's Square. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
VATICAN CITY, 6 JUL 2011 (VIS) - The Message for World Tourism Day published by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples was issued today. The Day, which is due to be celebrated on 27 September, has as its theme: "Tourism linking cultures".
The message has been published in Italian, French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. Extracts from the English-language version are given below:
"The theme of this year, 'Tourism linking cultures', wishes to highlight the importance that travelling has in the meeting of the different cultures of the world, especially in our present day world where more than ninety million people travel internationally, favoured thus by modern means of communication and lower associated costs".
"It is necessary to ensure that people not only accept the existence of other cultures - as Benedict XVI affirms - but also desire to be enriched by them', welcoming the true, good, and beautiful therein".
"However, regarding dialogue, the first condition that is required is that of knowing how to listen, to want to be questioned by the other, desiring to discover the message within each monument, cultural manifestation, all of this being done with respect, without prejudice or exclusion, and avoiding biased readings. It is thus equally important 'to know how to welcome' as to 'know how to travel'".
"The cultural patrimony of the Church is indeed immense". It "arises from the experience of faith, of the encounter between culture and the Gospel, as the fruit of the profound religious experience of the Christian community. Certainly, the works of art and historical memory have an enormous potential to evangelise, in as much as they are placed in the context of the 'via pulchritudinis', the way of beauty, which is 'a privileged and fascinating path on which to approach the Mystery of God'.
"It must be an objective priority of our pastoral care of tourism to show the true meaning of this cultural heritage, born from faith and for the glory of God. ... It is therefore important that we present this patrimony in its authenticity, illustrating its true religious nature, placing it in the liturgical context in which and for which it was born.
"As we are conscious that the Church 'exists in order to evangelise', we must always ask ourselves: How can we welcome people in holy places so that they come to better know and love the Lord? How can we facilitate an encounter between God and each one of the people that are there welcomed?". In this context, the Message highlights "the importance of an adequate welcome, ... manifested by a variety of elements: from the simplest details to personal availability to listen, to accompaniment throughout the duration of the stay.
"In this regard, and with the objective of promoting this inter-cultural dialogue and taking advantage of our cultural patrimony at the service of evangelisation, it is fitting to adopt a series of concrete pastoral initiatives. All of these must be integrated into a broad programme of interpretation that, together with historical-cultural information, illustrates in a clear and accessible way the original and profound religious meaning of these cultural manifestations, using for this modern and attractive means, and taking advantage of the personal and technological resources that are at our disposal.
"Among these concrete proposals there is the elaboration of the idea of tourist travel offering visitation to the places that are most important in the religious and cultural patrimony of the diocese. Along with this, broad time periods of open hours should be favoured, thus making available an adequate welcoming. In this way, the spiritual and cultural formation of tourist guides is important, and thus one can see the value in the possibility of creating organisations of Catholic tour guides".
"We cannot allow ourselves to view the tourist visit as simply a step in pre-evangelisation, but on the contrary, we must see it as a platform to realise the clear and explicit announcement of Jesus Christ".
The Message concludes by officially announcing "the celebration of the seventh World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, that will take place in Cancun,Mexico, from 23 to 27 April 2012".
VATICAN CITY, 6 JUL 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, and Elmar Mammadyarov, minister for foreign affairs of Azerbaijan, exchanged the instruments of ratification of the Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The Agreement, which is written in English and Azeri and includes a preamble and eight articles, regulates the position of the Catholic Church in Azerbaijan. It comes into force with the exchange of instruments of ratification, as per article 8 of the Agreement itself.
VATICAN CITY, 6 JUL 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
VATICAN CITY, 6 JUL 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Severino Clasen O.F.M. of Aracuai, Brazil, as bishop of Cacador (area 12,398, population 392,000, Catholics 329,000, priests 54, permanent deacons 1, religious 97), Brazil.
- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Caxias do Sul,Brazil, presented by Bishop Nei Paulo Moretto, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Alessandro Carmelo Ruffinoni C.S.
- Appointed Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio S.J. of Tyler, U.S.A., as bishop ofMayaguez, (area 1,616, population 518,600, Catholics 418,000, priests 66, permanent deacons 26, religious 132), Puerto Rico. He succeeds Bishop Ulises Aurelio Casiano Vargas, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Jeanne Woodford looks forward to the day when no one will have to do what she did four times: plan and carry out an execution.
"They all weigh on me, as they do on everyone involved," said Woodford, a former warden of San Quentin State Prison and now executive director of the national organization Death Penalty Focus, in a June 28 telephone interview with Catholic News Service from her San Francisco office.
Although her upbringing as a Catholic prompted her moral opposition to capital punishment, she is working to bring it to an end for several "more practical" reasons, she said. "It's ineffective, it's costly and it does so much harm to everyone involved."
July 2 marked the 35th anniversary of the reinstatement of the death penalty by the U.S. Supreme Court, which said in Gregg v. Georgia that capital punishment is not inherently "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as long as certain sentencing procedures are followed.
Since that 1976 decision, 1,258 people have been executed, according to the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center. More than 3,200 remain on death row, including 713 people in California.
But according to a new report, the system in the United States remains as just as arbitrary today as it was when the death penalty was put on hold in 1972, when Justice Potter Stewart said capital punishment was "cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual."
In the report titled "Struck by Lightning," Richard C. Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said, "Many factors determine who is ultimately executed in the U.S.; often the severity of the crime and the culpability of the defendant fade from consideration as other arbitrary factors determine who lives and who dies."
The major factors "in who receives the ultimate punishment" are race, geography "and the size of a county's budget," Dieter said. "Many cases thought to embody the worst crimes and defendants are overturned on appeal and then assessed very differently the second time around at retrial. ... In such a haphazard process, the rationales of deterrence and retribution make little sense."
The report compares the stories of several notorious murderers who did not receive the death penalty with the stories of some people who were executed.
For example, "Green River Killer" Gary Ridgway, who pleaded guilty to 48 murders in 2003 in Washington state, was spared the death penalty because of information he provided about the women he had killed. Oscar Veal, convicted of seven counts of murder and eight counts of racketeering as part of a large drug and murder-for-hire organization, received only a 25-year sentence because of his cooperation with authorities in the District of Columbia. Serial killer and sex offender Jeffrey Dahmer received 15 consecutive life sentences for 15 murders in Wisconsin, which does not have the death penalty. (In 1994 Dahmer was beaten to death by a fellow inmate.)
On the other hand, among those executed over the past 35 years was Manny Babbitt, a Vietnam veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress symptoms who beat an elderly woman who died of a heart attack. Babbitt was executed in 1999 in California, shortly after receiving the Purple Heart in prison. Dieter also cites cases in which the executed were mentally ill, intellectually disabled or later exonerated of the crime for which they were killed.
"Thirty-five years of experience have taught the futility of trying to fix this system," he wrote. "Many of those who favored the death penalty in the abstract have come to view its practice very differently. They have reached the conclusion that if society's ultimate punishment cannot be applied fairly, it should not be applied at all."
Advocates like Dieter and Woodford know they have their work cut out for them.
Although four states have abolished the death penalty in the past four years, public opinion polls still show a great deal of support.
In a Rasmussen Reports national survey released June 29, 63 percent of American adults said they favor use of capital punishment, while 25 percent opposed it and 12 percent were undecided.
Less than half (47 percent) of the respondents believe the U.S. system of justice is fair to most Americans, 34 percent believe it is not fair and 19 percent are undecided. But by a margin of 64 percent to 19 percent, Americans believe the bigger problem for U.S. law enforcement is that too many criminals are set free rather than that too many innocent people are arrested. The remaining 17 percent were undecided.
The margin of error for the survey of 1,000 adults, conducted June 25-26, was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
In these tough economic times, however, death penalty opponents believe that Americans have good fiscal reasons to join their cause.
A new study by U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon and Loyola Law School professor Paula M. Mitchell found that taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment in California since 1976 -- or about $308 million for each of the 13 people executed in the state since that time.
Their report, titled "Executing the Will of the Voters: A Roadmap to Mend or End the California Legislature's Multi-Billion Dollar Death Penalty Debacle," measured state, federal and local expenditures for capital cases -- including enhanced security on death row, legal representation for the condemned and additional costs of capital trials -- and concluded that capital punishment adds $184 million to the budget each year.
Woodford's 28 years at San Quentin and a brief stint as head of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation have convinced her that although some prisoners may need to be kept away from society for the rest of their lives, killing them is not the answer.
"We have a system that isn't functioning for anyone and that is wasting resources we could be using to put more teachers in the classroom," she said.
- More than 100 “vigils for life” will be held in Spain to call for a reversal of the country’s abortion law.
The vigils will take place July 1-5. “Many thousands of people” in 36 provinces in Spain are expected to join together in calling for the overturning of the law and for new laws that respect life from conception to natural death, said the spokesman for the organization Right to Life in Spain, Gador Joya Verde.
The law was passed nearly one year ago on July 5, 2010.
Joya added that the organization is calling for a national strategy to help women who want to give their children up for adoption rather than have an abortion.
He noted that Right to Life not only expresses its indignation over the problem of abortion but also proposes solutions to help women in crisis pregnancies, including a new guide for pregnant women titled, “Congratulations, Mom.”
The spokesman for Gynecologists for the Right to Life, Sonsoles Alonso, said the guide includes instructions for young pregnant women on how to request for financial assistance from the government, which, she said, is often “scarce.”
Alonso said the guide will be distributed to doctors and health care workers so they can provide it to their patients.
Joya noted that pro-life leaders have also called on the leader of Spain’s Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, to sign a pledge promising to overturn the Law on Abortion if he is elected president.
A priest from a parish in central Vietnam has supervised the building of a bridge and road to help people of a mainly Buddhist village avoid drowning and travel to work.
“We just completed a new bridge that will help prevent children from Bai Dap village from drowning in the coming rainy season,” said Father Paul Nguyen Trong, pastor of Nuoc Ngot parish, near the village.
Father Trong said the cement bridge, 20 meters long and three meters wide, is over a stream isolating 600 Buddhist villagers from other people in the mountainous Phu Loc district of Thua Thien-Hue province.
Local Catholics and benefactors covered the bridge’s cost of 150 million dong (US$7,500), noted the priest, who sold his own motorcycle to donate to the bridge.
Father Trong, 60, said the bridge directly connects a three-kilometer-long cement road which links four local villages. He had the road built in 2009.
He said local villagers could not afford to build a bridge made of bamboo or wood. They make a meagre living by cultivating rice and cassava, collecting used items and firewood in forests or making leaf hats, he added.
Father Trong said floods caused by heavy rain from September to December wash away their properties.
Last year one student drowned while wading across the stream, he added.
Nguyen Co, a 47-year-old villager, said that since the bridge opened, he earns 50,000 dong a day by carrying firewood on his bicycle. In the past he had to carry firewood on his shoulders 10 kilometers and earned 20,000 dong a day, he said.
Father Trong said that since 2000, 40 local Catholics also have volunteered to build 215 houses costing 10-15 million dong each for poor people, regardless of their background. Foreign benefactors cover the cost.
The priest said he plans a project to provide clean water for villagers.
Nuoc Ngot parish numbers 2,385 Catholics out of a total population of 10,000.
Image of food aid, on Flickr
CATH NEWS REPORT-Aid organisations Caritas Australia and Compassion have welcomed the Australian Government's response to an independent aid review and labelled it "significant", according to media releases by both.
"Today's announcement demonstrates a strong whole of Government commitment to see Australian aid achieve targeted and measurable outcomes for the poorest of the poor," said Caritas Australia's CEO Jack de Groot.In the most comprehensive review of Australia's Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) in 15 years, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Kevin Rudd, has committed the Government to more accountable, transparent and effective delivery of aid in the world's poorest communities, Caritas said.
"It is a welcome commitment mandated not only by our obligation to the vulnerable communities we serve, but also by the Australia public who so generous support Australia's aid program.
"The Government's response puts health, education, livelihoods, justice and emergency preparedness at the forefront of Australia's aid program; we're encouraged to see this commitment to the poor at the heart of public policy.
"Bolstered by robust, accountable and reciprocal partnerships with Australian NGOs, multilateral organisations and community organisations, the Government's framework for aid presents exciting new opportunities to achieve authentic and lasting change for more than 1 billion people living in abject and dehumanising poverty."
International Christian child development and advocacy organisation Compassion decribed Mr Rudd's annoucement as a "series of significant commitments that could benefit the lives of millions of children living in poverty around the world".
Compassion's Executive Director of Child Advocacy, DJ Konz said: "It's encouraging that the Government has accepted all but one of the 39 recommendations made by the Review panel, and even gone beyond the recommendations in a few areas. The outcomes should lead to a stronger, more transparent aid program, with a very commendable central focus on poverty eradication."
St. Maria Goretti
VIRGIN AND MARTYR
Feast: July 6
Virgin martyr and miracle worker in death. She was stabbed to death on July 6 while resisting the advances of the son of her father's business partner. Maria was born in Corinaldo, Italy, the daughter of a farmer who moved the family to Ferriere di Conca, near Anzio. There Alexander Serenelli, a youth who lived in the same house, tried to seduce the young Maria. When she refused him, Alexander stabbed her repeatedly. Arrested for the murder, he was imprisoned and experienced a vision of Maria. Her cuase was opened becuase she was credited with some forty miracles after her death. She was canonized by Pope Pius XII (r. 1939-1958) in 1950, as a model of purity. Alexander attended her canonization.