Today 12 November 2011, His Holiness Benedict XVI received in audience Herman Van
Rompuy, president of the European Council. The president subsequently went on to meet with
Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. who was accompanied by Archbishop
Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
The discussions, which took place in an atmosphere of great cordiality, provided an
opportunity for a fruitful exchange of opinions on the international situation, and on the
contribution the Catholic Church wishes to make to the European Union.
In the course of the meeting, attention also turned to the promotion of human rights and, in
particular, of religious freedom.
Bellow is the full text of the Holy Father's remarks:
Dear Brother Bishops,
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
I wish to thank Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, for his kind words and for promoting this International Conference on Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture. I would also like to thank Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Health Workers, and Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life for their contribution to this particular endeavour. A special word of gratitude goes to the many benefactors whose support has made this event possible. In this regard, I would like to express the Holy See’s appreciation of all the work that is done, by various institutions, to promote cultural and formative initiatives aimed at supporting top-level scientific research on adult stem cells and exploring the cultural, ethical and anthropological implications of their use.
Scientific research provides a unique opportunity to explore the wonder of the universe, the complexity of nature and the distinctive beauty of life, including human life. But since human beings are endowed with immortal souls and are created in the image and likeness of God, there are dimensions of human existence that lie beyond the limits of what the natural sciences are competent to determine. If these limits are transgressed, there is a serious risk that the unique dignity and inviolability of human life could be subordinated to purely utilitarian considerations. But if instead these limits are duly respected, science can make a truly remarkable contribution to promoting and safeguarding the dignity of man: indeed herein lies its true utility. Man, the agent of scientific research, will sometimes, in his biological nature, form the object of that research. Nevertheless, his transcendent dignity entitles him always to remain the ultimate beneficiary of scientific research and never to be reduced to its instrument.
In this sense, the potential benefits of adult stem cell research are very considerable, since it opens up possibilities for healing chronic degenerative illnesses by repairing damaged tissue and restoring its capacity for regeneration. The improvement that such therapies promise would constitute a significant step forward in medical science, bringing fresh hope to sufferers and their families alike. For this reason, the Church naturally offers her encouragement to those who are engaged in conducting and supporting research of this kind, always with the proviso that it be carried out with due regard for the integral good of the human person and the common good of society.
This proviso is most important. The pragmatic mentality that so often influences decision-making in the world today is all too ready to sanction whatever means are available in order to attain the desired end, despite ample evidence of the disastrous consequences of such thinking. When the end in view is one so eminently desirable as the discovery of a cure for degenerative illnesses, it is tempting for scientists and policy-makers to brush aside ethical objections and to press ahead with whatever research seems to offer the prospect of a breakthrough. Those who advocate research on embryonic stem cells in the hope of achieving such a result make the grave mistake of denying the inalienable right to life of all human beings from the moment of conception to natural death. The destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another. Yet, in general, no such ethical problems arise when stem cells are taken from the tissues of an adult organism, from the blood of the umbilical cord at the moment of birth, or from fetuses who have died of natural causes (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Dignitas Personae, 32).
It follows that dialogue between science and ethics is of the greatest importance in order to ensure that medical advances are never made at unacceptable human cost. The Church contributes to this dialogue by helping to form consciences in accordance with right reason and in the light of revealed truth. In so doing she seeks, not to impede scientific progress, but on the contrary to guide it in a direction that is truly fruitful and beneficial to humanity. Indeed, it is her conviction that everything human, including scientific research, “is not only received and respected by faith, but is also purified, elevated and perfected” (ibid., 7). In this way science can be helped to serve the common good of all mankind, with a particular regard for the weakest and most vulnerable.
In drawing attention to the needs of the defenceless, the Church thinks not only of the unborn but also of those without easy access to expensive medical treatment. Illness is no respecter of persons, and justice demands that every effort be made to place the fruits of scientific research at the disposal of all who stand to benefit from them, irrespective of their means. In addition to purely ethical considerations, then, there are issues of a social, economic and political nature that need to be addressed in order to ensure that advances in medical science go hand in hand with just and equitable provision of health-care services. Here the Church is able to offer concrete assistance through her extensive health-care apostolate, active in so many countries across the globe and directed with particular solicitude to the needs of the world’s poor.
Dear friends, as I conclude my remarks, I want to assure you of a special remembrance in prayer and I commend to the intercession of Mary, Salus Infirmorum, all of you who work so hard to bring healing and hope to those who suffer. I pray that your commitment to adult stem cell research will bring great blessings for the future of man and genuine enrichment to his culture. To you, your families and your collaborators, as well as to all the patients who stand to benefit from your generous expertise and the results of your work, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing. Thank you very much!
Kabul (AsiaNews) – “Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, the West has not been able to teach Afghans respect for human dignity. Sharia is the law that is enforced, not the laws of civilised countries,” sources told AsiaNews in reference to the stoning of two women, mother and daughter, accused of adultery. The two were killed yesterday in Ghazni, 138 km southeast from Kabul, a few hundreds of metres from government offices. Although the area was recently handed over to Afghan authorities, international forces are still in control. “Everyone knows such violence goes on,” sources said.
Yesterday, a group of armed men entered the house where a young widow lived with her daughter. After accusing them of adultery, they took them out to the yard, where they were stoned and then shot dead. The attack was carried out only 300m from the governor's office in Ghazni city, but police arrived too late on the scene of the crime.
Despite the sound of screams and gunshots, neighbours did not help or inform the authorities.
Officials says that a number of religious leaders in the city have been issuing fatwas, asking people to report any one who was "involved in adultery".
Sources told AsiaNews that some imams, even in the capital, have also been stirring up people against foreigners and demanding everyone submit to Sharia to the letter.
Ten years after the fall of the Taliban, nothing has changed. “The international community has spent billions of dollars in the country, but they have been used to set up an army and enrich political elites; very little has gone to the people,” sources say.
“In Kabul, if you step outside the area around the government compound, you’ll see only crumbling houses, mud roads and poverty. No one has showed Afghans why democracy is good. Little has been done in the way of building schools, hospitals and businesses.”
The West is also at fault for allowing the government to base its laws exclusively on Sharia, using the excuse that it is a domestic matter.
“The government continues to be weak, corrupt and not very credible,” the sources say. “Extremists and religious authorities use Muhammad’s law without fear to settle disputes in total impunity.” (S.C.)
Paddy Buckley, the Perth coordinator of ‘A Year of Grace: starting afresh from Christ’ which was announced by the president of the Australian Catholic Bishops in Rome last month, is calling for ideas and suggestions for ways to begin the journey in the Perth Archdiocese.
'A Year of Grace' will build upon two great graces the Australian church has received in the last five years, namely World Youth Day in 2008 and the canonisation of our first saint, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Archbishop Wilson said in his address to the Holy Father.
Paddy Buckley, a former principal of Catholic primary schools in WA including Loreto, Nedlands and Holy Spirit, City Beach introduced 'A Year of Grace' to Perth's Council of Priests on 10 November as a journey.
It's not a planned, guided program to be implemented, she told them.
The inspiration behind it came during a meeting of Australian Bishops, she said.
There was a pile of folders on the desk with issues relating to governance, finance and planning under discussion but at one point, one Bishop pushed the pile away and said “Where is Jesus in this?”
"This question 'Where is Jesus in this?' is central to 'A Year of Grace,'" Miss Buckley said, "and should be applied to all aspects of parish, school, professional, family and personal life."
This is what we are called to reflect upon during the Year of Grace, she said.
‘A Year of Grace: starting afresh from Christ’ will be celebrated from Pentecost 2012-13.
Australian parishes can expect a formal letter announcing ‘A Year of Grace’ on 20 November, the feast of Christ the King.
A website is on its way, which will have material for priests, parishes and schools and include liturgies, prayers and suggestions for priests to implement 'A Year of Grace' in their own way.
'A Year of Grace' will be more of a way of thinking and reflecting on the face of Christ during the year, she said, and ways to incorporate it into daily parish life should be simple – such as setting up a display, or having a regular prayer at Mass.
“The Year of Grace will not be an ‘extra’ for you,” she told the priests.
A Year of Grace was inspired by John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter – Novo Millennio Ineunte(2001) - and will have three major themes: contemplating the face of Christ, building a spirituality of communion and undertaking mission for the new evangelisation.
It comes on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
'A Year of Grace' Perth coordinator, Paddy Buckley, will be based at The Faith Centre, 450 Hay St Perth. She is contactable on 08 6140 2420
One of the key issues, subject of almost all the conferences, is the theme of marriage, which in the words of Jesus Fernandez Hernandez, president of the Institute Identes of Christ the Redeemer, "more than a contract it is an alliance", man and woman realize between them the most intimate communion. Marriage, according to the words of the founder of the Community of Identes Missionaries, Fernando Rielo, is the grace of this union, which gives unity and meaning to life. It is a mystical school, because its origin is elevated to a sacrament by Christ.
On the other hand, the Identes missionary said that "the family not only needs material assistance. Although this is a fundamental thing, the economic side, however, is not everything. It is the spirit that should characterize the family, and to succeed in this goal, communication is fundamental. The media plays an important role, however there are many who insist on passing on values and ideologies that lead nowhere", he said.
Another speaker of the Congress, the Archbishop of Cuenca, Mgr. Luis Cabrera, said that "the opening of these spaces to listen to the family is extremely important, because we are not able to provide answers or suggest alternatives until we know what the families live". One of the great interests of the Congress, he underlined, is that "this opportunity may become a forum where families are able to say what they need, their concerns, their fears and what they expect from their Pastors".
The Holy Father Benedict XVI sent a Message to the President of the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza, Archbishop of Guayaquil, in which he highlights that, according to the theme of the Congress, the family "is not a private reality, closed in on itself. Because of its vocation, it lends a wonderful and crucial service for the common good of society and to the Church's mission". In addition, " work and feast day in particular are deeply tied to the lives of families: influencing their choices, relationships between spouses and between parents and children, and affect family ties with society and with the Church". The Pope believes that "the lack of job and its insecurity attack the dignity of man, not only by creating situations of injustice and poverty, which often degenerate into despair, crime and violence, but also a crisis of identity in people". At the same time the feast day "humanizes time by opening the encounter with God, with others and with nature. This is why families need to recover the authentic meaning of the feast day, especially on Sundays, the day of the Lord and man". (CE) (Agenzia Fides 11/11/2011)
ARCHBISHOP AND MARTYR
Feast: November 12
1580 at Volodymyr, Lithuania (modern Ukraine)
12 November 1623 at Vitebsk, Belarus
Josaphat is one of those figures in history caught in a web of controversy where even good people find it hard to keep their heads. He was caught in a battle between Catholic and Orthodox, Latin and Byzantine, and found himself criticized and opposed on every side: by the Orthodox for being Catholic and by the Latins for being Byzantine. He held firmly to Catholic unity against the Orthodox and just as firmly to Byzantine rights against the Latins. At that period of history, it was a no-win situation, and he is the great martyr to the cause of unity.
St. Josaphat was born in Lithuania about 1580 into a Catholic family and early promoted Catholic unity in a country divided between Orthodox and Catholic. He entered the Byzantine monastery of Holy Trinity in Vilna in 1604 and was elected Catholic archbishop of Polotsk in 1614. While clinging firmly to unity with Rome, he firmly opposed those Latins who saw unity only in Latin terms and would suppress Byzantine traditions in the name of Catholic unity. He firmly opposed the Latinization of his people and made enemies and severe critics among the Latin clergy of Poland.
Politically, the Catholic and Orthodox clergy were rivals in Lithuania, and the archbishopric of Polotsk was one of the contested sees. An Orthodox archbishop of Polotsk was appointed, and Josaphat was accused of taking office invalidly. Many of his Byzantine Catholics were won over to allegiance to Orthodoxy. Even the king of Poland wavered in his support of Josaphat, especially when Polish bishops accused him of betraying his faith by not Latinizing his diocese.
One of the hotbeds of trouble in Josaphat's diocese was Witebsk, and in November of 1623 he went there to bring about peace in his flock, preaching in the churches and trying to reconcile differences. On November 12, a mob broke into the house where he was staying, shouting hatred and violence. When he confronted them, he was struck in the head with a halberd and shot. His mangled body was dragged out and thrown into the river. He was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867.
Thought for the Day: It is important to say that there was a martyr for unity on the Orthodox side as well, and even good men were uncertain where truth and justice lay. St. Josaphat died working for reconciliation, and peacemakers often find themselves hated by both sides. It is part of the risk of being a true follower of Christ.
From 'The Catholic One Year Bible': What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. Men of God in days of old were famous for their faith.—Hebrews 11:1-2
1And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.2He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man;3and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, `Vindicate me against my adversary.'4For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, `Though I neither fear God nor regard man,5yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'"6And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says.7And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?8I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"