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Friday, November 19, 2004


VATICAN CITY, NOV 19, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

- Bishop Eduardo Maria Taussig of San Rafael, Argentina.

- Flavio Cattaneo, director general of RAI-Italian Radio and Television, with his wife.

- Prof. Giuseppe Dalla Torre, rector of the Free University of Mary Most Immaculate, and an entourage.
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 19, 2004 (VIS) - Today the Italian newspaper "La Reppublica" published an interview with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in which he says that any society which does not give importance to God will eventually self-destruct.

  According to Cardinal Ratzinger "there is an aggressive secular ideology which is worrying. In Sweden, a Protestant pastor who had preached about homosexuality, based on a line from Scriptures, went to jail for one month. Laicism is no longer that element of neutrality which opens up spaces of freedom for all. It is being transformed into an ideology which is imposed through politics and which does not give public space to the Catholic or Christian vision, which runs the risk of becoming something purely private and thus disfigured. In this sense, a struggle exists and we must defend religious freedom against the imposition of an ideology which is presented as if it were the only voice of rationality, when it is only the expression of a 'certain' rationalism."

  Following is a transcription of excerpts of the interview:

Q: "But for you, what is laicism?"

A: "A just laicism is religious freedom. The State does not impose religion but it gives space to religions with a responsibility toward civil society, and therefore it allows these religions to be factors in building up society."

  Asked about the true essence of Christianity, the cardinal described it as "a history of love between God and men. If this is understood in the language of our times, the rest just follows."

Q: "Where is God in modern society?"

A: "He has been put on the sidelines. In political life, it seems almost indecent to speak of God, as if it were an attack on the freedom of those who do not believe. The world of politics follows its norms and paths, excluding God as something that does not belong to this world. The same in the world of business, the economy and private life. God remains marginalized. To me, its seems necessary to rediscover, and the energy to do so exists, that even the political and economic spheres need moral responsibility, a responsibility that is born in man's heart and, in the end, has to do with the presence or absence of God. A society in which God is completely absent self-destructs. We saw this in the great totalitarian regimes of the last century."

Q: "A big issue is sexual ethics. The encyclical 'Humanae Vitae' produced a gap between the Magisterium and the practical behavior of the faithful.  Is it time to remedy that?"

A: "For me, it is clear that we must continue to reflect. In his first years as pope, John Paul II offered a new anthropological, person-centered approach to the problem, developing a very different vision from the relationship between the 'me' and 'you' of men and women. It is true that the pill has given rise to an anthropological revolution of great dimensions. It has not been, as thought in the beginning, the only solution for difficult situations, but it has changed the vision of sexuality, the human being and the body itself. Sexuality has been separated from fecundity and in this way it has profoundly changed the concept of the human life. The sexual act has lost its purpose and finality which before was clear and specific, so that all forms of sexuality have become equivalent. Above all, from this revolution comes the equalization between homosexuality and heterosexuality. This is why I say that Paul VI  indicated a problem of great importance."

Q: "Homosexuality is a topic that regards love between two people and not just mere sexuality. What can the Church do to understand this phenomenon?"

A:  "Let me say two things. Above all, we must have great respect for these people who also suffer and who want to find their own way of correct living. On the other hand, to create a legal form of a kind of homosexual marriage, in reality, does not help these people."

Q: "Therefore you judge negatively the choice made in Spain?"

A: "Yes, because it is destructive to the family and society. The law creates morality or a moral form, since people habitually think that what the law affirms is morally allowed. And if we judge this union to be more or less equivalent to marriage, we have a society that no longer recognizes either the specific nature of the family, nor its fundamental character, that is to say, the nature of man and woman which is to create continuity - not only in a biological sense - for humanity. For this reason the Spanish decision does not provide a real benefit to these people since in this way we  are destroying the fundamental elements of an order of law."

Q: "Sometimes the Church, in saying no to everything, has met defeat. Should it not at least be possible for a pact of solidarity between two homosexuals to be recognized and protected by the law?

A: "But to institutionalize an agreement of this type - whether the lawmaker wants it or not - would necessarily appear in public opinion like another type of marriage that would inevitably assume a relative value. Let us not forget that with these choices, to which Europe tends today - shall we say - in decline, we make a break from all the great cultures of humanity that have always recognized the very meaning of sexuality: that is, that men and the women were created to be jointly the guarantee of the future of the humanity. Not only a physical guarantee but also a moral one."
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VATICAN CITY, NOV 19, 2004 (VIS) - John Paul II sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, upon learning of the death yesterday at the age of 92 of his predecessor, Cardinal Juan Carlos Aramburu:

  "Deeply saddened upon learning the news of the death of our beloved Cardinal Juan Carlos Aramburu, archbishop emeritus of Buenos Aires, after a long life of total dedication to God and in service to the Church, living with sobriety and distinguishing himself by prudence and integrity, I wish to express my condolences to you, the auxiliary bishops, clergy, religious communities and the lay people of this archdiocese. I join you in commending to the mercy of the heavenly Father this zealous pastor who with such pastoral charity served his people and the Church.

  "His generous and intense work, first as a priest and then as the bishop of Tucuman and then for 23 years as the archbishop of this particular Church, extending his ministerial work after his retirement in the shrine of St. Cajetan as a witness to the cause of the Gospel, all are proof of his deep love for the Church and his zeal for saving souls.

  "In these moments of pain when the ecclesial community of Buenos Aires and so many Argentinean faithful mourn their beloved pastor, and recalling his participation in Vatican Council II, his service to the universal Church and the welcome he showed me during my pastoral trip to Argentina in 1987, I am happy to impart with affection the comforting apostolic blessing as a sign of hope in the victory of the Risen Lord."


VATICAN CITY, NOV 19, 2004 (VIS) - Members of the post-synodal council of the Special Assembly for Asia, which was held in the Vatican from April 19 to May 14, 1998 on the theme "That they may have life, and have it abundantly," were received this morning by the Holy Father.

  The Pope thanked them for their work, noting their contribution to editing the Apostolic Exhortation "Ecclesia in Asia" and to seeing to its application on the Asian continent. He underscored the importance of "fruitful dialogue" which, he said, quoting the exhortation, has a special urgency today "in the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural situation of Asia, where Christianity is still too often seen as foreign."

  Pointing to the high number of young people in Asia, he said this is both a "reason for optimism because the new generations, filled with promise, are available to dedicate themselves totally to a cause, and a challenge because unfulfilled dreams can only generate disillusionment."

  "In addition," stated John Paul II, "the Church intends to contribute to the cause for peace in Asia, where various conflicts and terrorism cause the loss of many human lives. During the Synod, the Synod Fathers looked with apprehension at the Holy Land, 'the heart of Christianity'" where "the hot spots of war have only grown larger and it is therefore urgent to build peace."

  "To announce the Gospel in depth in Asia," said the Pope, "it is necessary for all believers to penetrate every aspect of life with their faith. ... Especially where they suffer and are not free to profess their faith, the Kingdom of God must be proclaimed with 'a silent witness of life', carrying the cross and following in the footsteps of the suffering and crucified Christ, waiting patiently for the day there will be full religious freedom."

  The Holy Father noted how the synod for Asia had emphasized that dialogue "is a characteristic mode of the Church's life in Asia," pointing out that this extends to dialogue within the Church, with other Christian communities and with "the cultural and religious values of different peoples."

  "Do not be discouraged," he concluded, "because the flock in Asia is small. The efficacy of evangelization does not depend on numbers. ... Christ taught us that what is small and hidden to the eyes of men, can obtain unhoped-for results thanks to the omnipotent intervention of God."
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