Fr. Federico Lombardi: No Soccer team for the Vatican

Vatican City, Ogt.10,2007 (CINS/EWTN:Joan's Rome) - Responding to newspaper headlines that said the Vatican had bought a soccer team, Father Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, in a statement released Monday afternoon, denied recent reports that the Vatican or the Italian Episcopal Conference have bought the Italian football team Ancona, which plays in Italy’ third division.

Headlines such as “Vatican buys soccer club,” “Team work,” “Vatican buys own team to bring ‘ethics’ back to Italian soccer,” and “Will ‘hand of God’ feature in the Vatican team?” made the rounds on several continents in recent days.

What is a fact is that the Ancona football club and CSI, the "Centro Sportivo Italiano" or Italian Sports Center, did recently sign an agreement involving the application of an ethical code in the administration of the team, together with a new model of economic management, the promotion of a sporting culture among the fans, and support for social initiatives in the Third World. For its part, CSI has undertaken to seek sponsors for the club.

"The Vatican and the Italian Episcopal Conference have nothing to do with this project," stated Fr. Lombardi. "There are initiatives which have positive and commendable aims and, if the declared intentions can be effectively achieved, this is certainly a good thing," he said adding, however, that this does not mean that this is an initiative of the Vatican or of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

The spokesman said, "The Church must not be attributed with responsibilities she does not have, although she may view positively the commitment of lay Catholics in various fields, including that of sports." Members of the Ancona football club will participate in tomorrow's general audience in St. Peter's Square but Fr. Lombardi made it clear that this does not mean "that the Pope has sponsored or taken responsibility for the working of the team."

There might well be one member of the Roman Curia who wishes the Vatican could field a soccer team and that is Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the affable Secretary of State and an avid fan of European football. In fact, as cardinal archbishop of Genoa, before being called to Rome 13 months ago by Pope Benedict , he did play-by-play reports of several soccer games for local radio.

Vatican official says religions must be free to contribute to peace

Vatican City, Oct. 08, 2007 (CINS /CNS) -- The only way to ensure that religions contribute to peace rather than violence is to guarantee religious freedom and promote religious education so believers understand that peace and harmony are at the core of every religion, the Vatican's foreign minister said.

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's secretary for relations with states, spoke Oct. 5 at the U.N. General Assembly's high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural understanding and cooperation for peace.

The text of his remarks was released Oct. 6 at the Vatican.

Archbishop Mamberti said Pope Benedict has taught that "faithfulness to one's own religious convictions is not expressed in violence and intolerance, but in sincere respect for others, in dialogue and in an announcement that appeals to freedom and reason while remaining committed to peace and reconciliation."

While religion is a herald and source of peace, the archbishop said, it too often has been manipulated by politicians, nationalists and those seeking power.

Theological reflection, philosophical questioning and spiritual discernment have been used effectively throughout the ages to harness religious fervor and direct it toward the good of society, he said.

"There cannot be peace without understanding and cooperation among religions," he said. "There cannot be understanding and cooperation among religions without religious liberty."

Archbishop Mamberti told the conference, "The full exercise of the right to religious freedom is based on respect for human reason and its capacity to know the truth; it ensures openness to transcendence as an indispensable guarantee of human dignity; (and) it allows all religions to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it."

Restricting or denying religious freedom is not the way to combat violent tendencies when they arise, he said. Rather, governments and groups must mobilize religious leaders, promote education, and rally the public in opposition to "hate speech and other public acts calculated to spur sectarian violence."

Archbishop Mamberti said international interreligious meetings to promote prayers for peace, such as those convoked by Pope John Paul II in Assisi, Italy, should be duplicated on the local and national level.

"Indeed, prayer and good intentions are authentic only if they translate into practical gestures at all levels," he said.

The archbishop said religions can realize their potential to build peace and understanding only when they are free to practice their faith and educate their members.

"All of us must work together to ensure that religious freedom is recognized, safeguarded and fostered by all and everywhere," he said.

Vatican says no to euthanasia even in the case of “vegetative states”, there is still a person

Vatican City,Sep.15,2007, (CINS/AsiaNews) – People in a “permanent vegetative state” have the right to food and drink, even via artificial means: those instruments are in fact “ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life and not a therapeutic treatment”, which can however be interrupted when there is no further possibility of curing the patient whose suffering is being uselessly prolonged.  The Vatican today reiterated its no to euthanasia, recalling at the same time not only its refusal of so-called assisted suicide but also underlining the possible existence of some cases – such as when the patient is unable to assimilate either food or drink – which allow for the suspension of the administration.

These are the indications which – with explicit papal approval –the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith supply in answer to two questions posed by the United States Bishops Conference on the issue of patients in a “permanent vegetative state”.

Evidently brought to light by the case of Terry Schiavo, the women in a “permanent vegetative state” who died in the USA at the end of March 2005 as a result of the suspension of feeding.

 “The administration of food and water – affirms the Vatican’s Doctrinal ministry - even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented”.

These “ordinary” means should not be suspended not even when “competent doctors judge with moral certainty that the patient will never regain consciousness”.  A patient in a “permanent vegetative state” in fact, “is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means”.

A long note accompanying the document from the Congregation retraces the indications offered by past popes on the issue – starting with Pius XII – and the self same dicastery.  In it, in particular, it reveals how “patients in a "vegetative state" breathe spontaneously, digest food naturally, carry on other metabolic functions, and are in a stable situation. But they are not able to feed themselves. If they are not provided artificially with food and liquids, they will die, and the cause of their death will be neither an illness nor the "vegetative state" itself, but solely starvation and dehydration. At the same time, the artificial administration of water and food generally does not impose a heavy burden either on the patient or on his or her relatives. It does not involve excessive expense; it is within the capacity of an average health-care system, does not of itself require hospitalization, and is proportionate to accomplishing its purpose, which is to keep the patient from dying of starvation and dehydration. It is not, nor is it meant to be, a treatment that cures the patient, but is rather ordinary care aimed at the preservation of life.”

In affirming that the administration of food and water is a moral obligation in line with principal, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith “in very remote places or in situations of extreme poverty, the artificial provision of food and water may be physically impossible, and then ad impossibilia nemo tenetur. However, the obligation to offer the minimal treatments that are available remains in place, as well as that of obtaining, if possible, the means necessary for an adequate support of life. Nor is the possibility excluded that, due to emerging complications, a patient may be unable to assimilate food and liquids, so that their provision becomes altogether useless. Finally, the possibility is not absolutely excluded that, in some rare cases, artificial nourishment and hydration may be excessively burdensome for the patient or may cause significant physical discomfort, for example resulting from complications in the use of the means employed. These exceptional cases, however, take nothing away from the general ethical criterion, according to which the provision of water and food, even by artificial means, always represents a natural means for preserving life, and is not a therapeutic treatment. Its use should therefore be considered ordinary and proportionate, even when the "vegetative state" is prolonged”.

Vatican cardinal says religions not “part of the problem” of violence

The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Paul Poupard, said this week that religions are not “part of the problem” of violence in today’s world but rather are part of “the solution.”

During a speech on the pontificate of Benedict XVI at the King Juan Carlos University in Spain, Cardinal Poupard explained that the current trend to see religion as the reason for terrorism, lack of security, AIDS in Africa, and the conflict in the Middle East and in Iraq” is the result of a “spiritual climate” that aims to return “to paganism in order to achieve a peaceful and tolerant society.”

The cardinal also warned against the dangers which result when “reason is deprived of any moral and religious reference,” pointing to such examples as the bombing of Hiroshima, the forgotten wars of Africa, the death of the unborn and the manipulation of embryos for research. 

The cardinal emphasized that, “inter religious dialogue” is a “vital necessity” for the future of humanity, and that culture plays an important role in providing a way for people to come together and address “the great questions about human existence.”

“Authentic inter-religious dialogue cannot take place if it is not built upon the foundation of culture,” Cardinal Poupard said.  “All inter-cultural dialogue is dialogue about the great religious questions,” he added.  This is possible, the cardinal stressed, because despite all the differences, mankind is of “the same one, unique essence.”  “Human nature enables dialogue between cultures,” he insisted.

Pope speaks with priests on faith, reason, and Vatican II

Lorenzago di Cadore, July.25, 2007 (CINS/CWN) - In a July 24 meeting with Italian priests, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about confusion over Church teachings following Vatican II, the relationship between faith and reason, and the duty of all Catholics to spread the Gospel.

The Holy Father met with about 400 priests of the dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso, in a parish church near his vacation cabin in Lorenzago di Cadore. Reporters were not allowed to attend the full session, but saw a portion of the Pope’s talk; later Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, briefed reporters about the meeting.

Following a pattern that he has set in similar meetings in the past, Pope Benedict devoted most of the 2-hour session to answering questions from the priests. The Vatican announced that a transcript of the Pope’s answers to questions will be published in L’Osservatore Romano.

The discussion covered a broad range of questions, with the Pope reportedly speaking about the turbulence within the Church after Vatican II and the importance of an accurate understanding of the Council’s teachings. Pope Benedict has frequently insisted that Vatican II must be understood in light of Catholic tradition, rather than as a break from that tradition.

The Pontiff offered one lengthy response to a question on conflicts between faith and science, emphasizing that although scientific research can resolve many questions, it cannot answer existential questions about the meaning of life-- questions that man by nature finds himself asking. The Pope went on to suggest that scientists should be open to the possibilities offered by religious faith, and recognize that there is no conflict, but rather a complementarity, between the approaches taken by faith and reason. Pope Benedict reminded the priests that all Christians, and especially clerics, have a fundamental obligation to inform people about the faith. Their efforts, he continued, should be aimed not to win arguments but to win souls, bringing new believers into the Church.

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