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Volume 3, Issue 208

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  • John N. Lupia
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2003

      Volume 3, Issue 208

      TUESDAY 4 November 2003

      * * *


      * * *

      • Pope to Beatify 5 This Sunday
      • Israel Declares German Cardinal Höffner "Righteous"
      • Gerard Bradley: Defending Marriage Is an Opportunity
      • Canadian Bishops Hit Assisted-Reproduction Bill as Deeply Flawed
      • Bishop of Kirkuk: New Iraq Needs Europe's Help
      • Pakistan Bishops Are Pleased With Muslim-Christian Relations
      • Postulator of John Paul I's Cause Dies
      • Ordination of Homosexual Bishop Stirs Anglican Fears
      • Art Exhibition Focuses on Swedish Queen Christina, a Convert
      • Spiritualism and Its Dangers

      * * *

      Pope to Beatify 5 This Sunday

      VATICAN CITY, NOV. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II plans to beatify five people, including three founders of religious congregations, this Sunday.

      On the feast of the Dedication of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. John Lateran, the Pope will preside at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica during which he will proclaim the beatifications, the Vatican press office announced today.

      The five are:

      -- Juan Nepomuceno Zegrí y Moreno (1831-1905), priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy;

      -- Valentin Paquay (1828-1905), priest of the Order of the Friars Minor;

      -- Luigi Maria Monti (1825-1900), religious and founder of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception;

      -- Bonifacia Rodríguez Castro (1837-1905), virgin and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of St. Joseph; and

      -- Rosalie Rendu (1786-1856), virgin of the Society of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.

      * * *

      Israel Declares German Cardinal Höffner "Righteous"

      For Saving Jews During World War II

      COLOGNE, Germany, NOV. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The late Cardinal Joseph Höffner was conferred the honor of "Righteous Among the Nations" by the state of Israel, for having saved Jewish lives during World War II.

      The Cologne Archdiocese, which the cardinal led until 1987, announced the award. The award is the highest conferred by Israel on non-Jews.

      The Yad Vashem award was conferred on the cardinal and on his sister, Helene Hesseler-Höffner, for having saved a little Jewish girl from Nazi persecution.

      Beginning in March 1943, then Father Höffner and his sister gave secret shelter in the city of Keil to 7-year-old Esther Sara Meyerowitz of Berlin.

      The girl was first received in the parish under the name Christa Koch. After Father Höffner was appointed pastor in 1943, he entrusted the girl to the family of farmer Wilhelm Hechler.

      That same year the priest and his sister took in for six months Edith Nowak, a Jew, and her husband, an evangelical.

      Born in 1906, Joseph Höffner was one of the greatest experts of his time on Church social doctrine. He was founder, director and faculty member of the Institute of Christian Social Sciences in Munich from 1951-1961. He was also scientific adviser to three Ministries of the Federal Republic of Germany.

      As bishop of Munster, he attended the Second Vatican Council. He was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Cologne in January 1969. On Feb. 24, 1969, he was appointed archbishop.

      Paul VI made him a cardinal that same year. He was president of the German episcopal conference from 1976 to 1987. Cardinal Höffner resigned from the pastoral government of the Cologne Archdiocese in September 1987 and died a month later.

      * * *

      Gerard Bradley: Defending Marriage Is an Opportunity

      Notre Dame Professor on the Trials of Being Catholic and a Lawyer

      SOUTH BEND, Indiana, NOV. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Gerard Bradley readily concedes that most Americans generally don't hunger for the truth about marriage.

      But the Notre Dame Law School professor recognizes that these times of overturned sodomy laws and recognition of same-sex unions give Christians a privileged moment in which to relay the true meaning of marriage in and out of court.

      Bradley, who is a scholar in the fields of constitutional law as well as law and religion, shared with ZENIT his thoughts about the challenges that confront Catholic lawyers who want to engage in evangelical activity in an increasingly secularized world.

      Q: In a secularized age like ours -- an era of legal abortion and the overturning of sodomy laws, for instance -- what is the biggest problem a Catholic attorney faces in trying to live his faith and still be an effective lawyer?

      Bradley: The challenges of lawyering in a secular age are distinctive and great, but they are best understood as complications of two perennial challenges.

      First, the Catholic attorney faces the same challenge to integrate his vocational commitments that everyone faces all of the time. Each one of us has a personal vocation, a unique way of cooperating with Jesus in building his Kingdom.

      One's personal vocation is comprised of several major responsibilities: career, family and lay apostolate of some sort. In any age, integrating these commitments can be daunting, and good people will always wonder whether they are doing justice to each responsibility.

      Integrating these responsibilities today is especially difficult for the Catholic attorney. The successful practice of law is more demanding than ever, less forgiving of other responsibilities and often scarcely compatible with decent rest and recreation.

      This particular complication owes something to secularization; in a Christian culture the professions would not be such jealous masters. But secularization does not necessarily lead to such conflicts, as the more relaxed lifestyles of so many European professionals suggest.

      It seems to me that in many areas today the successful practice of law is incompatible with family responsibilities. Young attorneys may face a stark choice between career and marriage, unable to do justice to both. This choice between "success" and family is starker for women than men, just because the responsibilities of mothers are typically more consuming than those of fathers.

      The second complication grows right out of secularization. The perennial part of this challenge is the task of all the laity, attorneys included, to engage in evangelical activity in the temporal realm; to bring the Gospel to the world, to be leaven.

      But, as the Second Vatican Council fathers told us in "Apostolicam Actuositatem," the lay apostolate "becomes more imperative in view of the fact that many areas of human life have become increasingly autonomous."

      This "autonomy" of science, culture, the market and the positive law from Gospel values is secularization. We -- that is, the Church -- have been trying to cope with secularization at least since the Council and nothing has clearly worked.

      Q: What specific contributions or changes can Christians realistically introduce to law in the West?

      Bradley: If by "realistically" one means wholesome proposals about morally important matters such as marriage that are likely to be enacted, the news is not good.

      With regard to almost all such matters the positive law of developed societies is so deeply enmeshed in lies, rationalizations and false ideologies that a "realistic" view is not an encouraging one.

      Although fighting against legal recognition of "same-sex marriage," for example, may seem quixotic, we live in a privileged moment: Never before in our lifetimes has our society been so focused on the true meaning of marriage -- why marriage is possible only between a man and a woman, and what is the relation of culture and law to the effective maintenance and support of marriage.

      I am not saying that the American people hunger for the truth about marriage. By and large, they do not. But many of them are prepared to give serious consideration to the truth because the question of why marriage is just for a man and a woman perplexes them.

      Many Protestant evangelicals, for example, have come to see the truth of "Humanae Vitae" during the debate over same-sex unions. They see it because they see that contraception reduces the sexual acts of spouses to an exchange of affection, intimacy and pleasure which is not necessarily unavailable to two men, or to two women, in a long-term relationship.

      Q: Given the U.S. Supreme Court decisions striking down laws on sodomy, as well as fears about judicial activism, could the legal system in general lose legitimacy? Are there remedies?

      Bradley: Our Supreme Court is surely guilty of judicial activism, meaning that it has in some important cases usurped the decision-making power that our Constitution assigns to other branches of government -- either to Congress or to state authorities.

      This usurpation is itself a grave wrong. It is unfair to other public authorities, effectively robs those who made the fundamental law of their rightful authority to set up a system of government, and often requires judges and those who defend their actions to speak untruthfully about what has the court has done in those cases.

      This usurpation is, in other words, "illegitimate," but not in the stronger and wider sense in which you use the word in your question.

      I doubt that this kind of institutional aggrandizement could harm the common good so greatly as to jeopardize the whole system's legitimacy. That could only occur, I think, if the usurped power is used for unjust ends -- as often it has been.

      I am thinking especially of Roe v. Wade, in which the Supreme Court invented an unprecedented liberty to have an abortion, overturning the laws of all 50 states. Roe v. Wade is indeed a case of judicial usurpation, but it threatens our government's legitimacy because the substance of the ruling was so grievously unjust.

      Q: How can a Christian best prepare for law school? What is the biggest danger facing students in the early years?

      Bradley: Besides proper vocational discernment there is rather little that a Christian, or anyone else for that matter, needs to do to prepare for law school.

      A Christian nevertheless faces some serious challenges in law school. Except at the handful of institutions which take their religious mission seriously -- a group that includes a few of the nominally Catholic law schools -- almost all of the faculty and most of the students in America's law schools are quite hostile to moral traditionalists. They are much less hostile to religion as such, so long as it is private.

      The situation at the best law schools is truly alarming; committed Catholics and evangelicals are almost an endangered species on those faculties. Fortunately, Christian students at almost all law schools have effective ways of finding each other and banding together to supplement their deficient classroom education.

      Such groups include the Christian Legal Society, the Thomas More Society or even the Federalist Society -- not a religious group but a movement of conservative lawyers that has attracted many traditionalist students and faculty as members.

      Some Catholic students organize under another name or establish a pro-life group. Students should seek all sympathetic faculty as mentors and friends, challenging those who would hide their light under a bushel to stand up for moral truth, even at the cost of some professional prestige.

      Q: How can Catholics maintain their principles once they are practicing law? What should they do if a client is guilty? Or a client asks them to do something illegal or morally wrong?

      Bradley: I never practiced as a criminal defense lawyer -- I served as a prosecutor in New York City -- but I have taught legal ethics for many years and can answer the question about guilty clients straightforwardly: There is nothing wrong with defending a guilty person.

      An accused individual who tells you -- his lawyer -- that he is guilty may honestly plead "not guilty." That plea does not mean that your client is truly innocent; it means that your client and you demand that the state prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

      Some defendants who are guilty and who have no real defense may be morally obliged to plead guilty; at least, they, like everyone else, have moral responsibilities to the community. Those responsibilities include being fair in one's use of scarce community resources -- including the criminal justice system.

      But the law provides that your client makes the call on which plea to enter, and I think that, so far considered, there is no real moral problem defending the guilty.

      Guilty defendants can nevertheless present moral difficulties just because they are, in truth -- but not yet in law -- guilty. Often enough they exercise their right to testify, and would do so -- as far as you can see -- by testifying falsely. When this happens the question is one of the lawyer's moral culpability for the client's lies.

      The norms governing your moral duties in this case are those generally governing moral responsibility for the immoral acts of others: the norms about formal and material cooperation, the norm against giving scandal, and the norm requiring one to give clear and faithful witness to the truth.

      In no case may one perform an immoral act, and one must also avoid all immoral cooperation with others.

      * * *

      Canadian Bishops Hit Assisted-Reproduction Bill as Deeply Flawed

      Outgoing President Wants Stem Cell Research on Embryos Prohibited

      OTTAWA, NOV. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The outgoing leader of the Canadian episcopal conference repeated the bishops' request that lawmakers reject federal legislation that would allow stem cell research on human embryos.

      The Canadian House of Commons last week approved Bill C-13, also called "An Act Respecting Assisted Human Reproduction." The measure went to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future.

      Bishop Jacques Berthelet of Saint-Jean-Longueuil, who was finishing his presidential term with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and will be succeeded by Archbishop Brendan O'Brien of St. John's, Newfoundland, said, "As the Senate of Canada begins its debate on Bill C-13, we wish to reiterate that while there is much that is positive in the bill, it is also deeply flawed."

      The bishops' conference had issued a statement in January requesting that the bill be amended to prohibit research on human embryos and to ensure that all forms and possibilities of cloning were covered.

      There is a provision in the bill for prohibiting experimentation on embryonic human beings procreated solely for the purpose of research. But if procreated for any other reason -- such as the "surplus" embryos that result from in vitro fertilization attempts -- those embryos would be subject to experimentation, which would kill them.

      Bishop Berthelet acknowledged in his letter last Wednesday that "we are particularly pleased that an amendment passed that makes the prohibition on cloning more effective."

      Bishop Berthelet's letter summarized the vision of the human embryo as an individual who ought to be protected, and it provided some guidance to Catholic legislators with respect to their responsibility for the common good.

      The letter also assessed the issues being debated in the Senate, including "the tragic failure of the bill to prohibit embryo research and the consequences should the present legislative vacuum continue."

      In defense of the humanity and dignity of the embryo, Bishop Berthelet wrote: "Both reason and faith inform the Catholic position that 'the human being is to be respected and treated as a person' from the beginning. This means that when it comes to treatment or research, the embryo must be treated as a subject and not as an object or a means to an end.

      "No treatment must be undertaken that does not benefit or respect the integrity of the embryo. The problem with embryonic stem cell research is that while the research has the potential to benefit those living with disease, it actually harms the embryo who dies in the process. Ultimately, the embryo is exploited for the benefit of others."

      Quoting from the 1995 encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" and the recent Vatican doctrinal note on the participation of Catholics in political life, Bishop Berthelet appealed to Catholic legislators, saying that they have the right and duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life, which includes the common good, the integral good of the human person and specifically the rights of the human embryo.

      Bishop Berthelet wrote that the bishops do agree with certain aspects of the bill.

      "We have recognized," he said, "that there is much in the proposals that could be supported, including the prohibitions of reproductive and therapeutic cloning, commercial surrogacy, germ-line alteration, the marketing of sperm, ova and embryos, and the acceptance that it would be offensive to include 'embryo' in the definition of 'reproductive material.'"

      * * *

      Bishop of Kirkuk: New Iraq Needs Europe's Help

      Interview With Chaldean Church's Louis Sako

      ROME, NOV. 3, 2003 (ZENIT.org-MISNA). Postwar Iraq is hoping that Europe doesn't abandon the nation.

      So says new Chaldean Bishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk, in an interview in this month's issue of the Italian magazine Mondo e Missione.

      Bishop Sako, named at the end of September and interviewed while in Italy as a guest of Pax Christi, is a top figure of the local Chaldean Church. A former rector of the seminary of Baghdad, he served as parish priest in the northern city of Mosul.

      In recent months, he was elected by the population as the vice president of the interim Council of Mosul. But, being a priest, he refused the post in favor of another Chaldean representative. Here are some passages of the interview.

      Q: How is life today in Iraq?

      Bishop Sako: Saddam had transformed Iraq into an enormous military barracks. Two wars and 12 years of embargo resulted in a mass exodus of Iraqis abroad and a million deaths.

      Today the people are happy about the change, the renewed possibility of freedom. In a few months, 80 new parties were formed, five of which are Christian. Freedom of press made possible the opening of dozens of new newspapers. Of these, six are Christian. There are also some Christian TV broadcasts originating in Mosul.

      All this was not possible under Saddam!

      Q: But the price of all this was a war.

      Bishop Sako: Yes, but the target was not the civilians.

      Q: You defend what the Americans did.

      Bishop Sako: I am not trying to say that they are angels! They have their interests; they came to Iraq for that reason, not to free the Iraqis. But the fruit is, in fact, liberation.

      Q: It is feared that Saddam's men are still in circulation.

      Bishop Sako: There are no longer any people tied to the dictator. There are instead Arab combatants that entered Iraq, paid by the fundamentalist movements of neighboring nations or even by their respective governments.

      There are those who do not want an open and free Iraq. The authors of the continuing clashes are random splinters, without any popular support.

      Q: Iraq is moving slowly toward democracy. Are you satisfied with the "experiments" under way, for example, in Mosul and Kirkuk?

      Bishop Sako: Yes. The people appreciate freedom. At times they criticize the choices of the Americans, but the process under way is efficient. The population personally elected me as vice president of the interim Council of Mosul. I refused the post, but am still part of the council.

      We are working with the Americans since last May and I am optimistic. Undoubtedly the U.S. made some mistakes.

      Q: Such as?

      Bishop Sako: Their reactions are slow and they above all have not understood the Iraqi mentality and habits, the story of the nation. But they have also done some good things. The problem is of not knowing who they can trust. They live in a constant state of mistrust; the soldiers tend to shoot on a slight hint of threat.

      Q: Why do you say that the Americans do not understand the Iraqis?

      Bishop Sako: We are moderates by nature; the extremisms taking place are fomented from outside. It is very evident that democracy in Iraq would preoccupy the surrounding nations.

      Q: Should we hope for a domino effect, i.e. that a democratic solution in Iraq will bring positive consequences to the entire region?

      Bishop Sako: I don't know. The Iraqi population is among the most educated of the area. The embargo also largely affected education, but the Iraqi cultural and academic tradition is at a good level, even the Americans recognized this.

      There is not the same level of education everywhere. What is certain is that your help is needed: Europe must pressure Iraq's bordering nations. While we need to learn, American democracy is not the only model -- Europe has a precious patrimony. The point today is to create an Iraqi-style democracy.

      Q: You are in the process of writing your Constitution.

      Bishop Sako: The national committee is at work and among its 200 members there are also five Christians [one of which is Bishop Sako]. But it takes time. The future will unfold with many small steps, the people must be formed to a new mentality.

      Q: What role do you see for the Christians in this phase?

      Bishop Sako: They have an important duty, despite their being relatively few. But ours is not a strength of numbers, but of culture, values, fraternity, and openness to friendly criticism.

      Q: How much weight did the intervention of the Pope have in avoiding the conflict being seen as a religious war?

      Bishop Sako: Extensive. The Muslims attempted to depict the war as a crusade against Islam. But they soon realized that the bombings touched everyone, Christians included, and understood that the U.S. was intervening in Iraq for economic and political reasons, not religious.

      Q: What do you expect of the international community and churches abroad?

      Bishop Sako: To not forget us! There are 700,000 Christians in Iraq. When in a year Iraq is out of the limelight, who will remember us? It already occurred with the Gulf War and embargo.

      I launch an appeal to all the religious congregations: Come to Iraq to lend a hand, especially for formation and not only of Christians. We need to rebuild the actual Iraqi man, and we are not able to do it alone. Iraq has enormous economic potential, but spiritual resources are also needed.

      Q: What future do you see for Iraq? What role do you see for the U.N.?

      Bishop Sako: Europe must have a crucial role. There was extensive support before the war, while today we do not have any political support. A mistake: Europe must not leave the U.S. alone in the reconstruction of the nation.

      * * *

      Pakistan Bishops Are Pleased With Muslim-Christian Relations

      At the Start of Ramadan

      LAHORE, Pakistan, NOV. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Catholic bishops in Pakistan see cause for optimism in the relations between Muslims and Christians.

      Noting the start of the Muslim month of fasting, Bishop Andrew Francis, head of the episcopal Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, said that this "Ramadan promises much for dialogue and consolidating good relations between Muslims and Christians. I am very happy and optimistic."

      "The atmosphere is good," the bishop of Multan told the Fides agency. "Here in Multan there is a spirit of solidarity and closeness and the times of tension and attacks on Christians seem very remote."

      He added that the recent 25th anniversary celebrations for John Paul II's pontificate "gathered everyone together, students, religious leaders, civil authorities, women. All Pakistanis appreciate the figure and activity of Pope John Paul II."

      Tensions heightened between Shiite and Sunni Muslims after the assassination of Sunni leader Azam Tariq in Islamabad last month.

      The Church is engaged in reconciliation on this front. "We are acting as a bridge between the two communities," said Bishop Francis. "I invite both Shiite and Sunni Muslim leaders to meetings focusing on dialogue to help build peaceful coexistence and restore harmony in society."

      Confirmation of improved Christian-Muslim relations came also from Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore who is president of the bishops' conference.

      "Since the September 11 terrorist attack in New York we have seen a resurgence of Muslim fundamentalism which identifies Christians with the West," he said. "The Church in Pakistan has made an effort to show our Muslim brothers and sisters that we are on the side of peace, and we want to help build a modern country, free of terrorism. Thanks also to various interventions by Pope John Paul II, today they are beginning to realize that we Christians want to have good relations."

      Archbishop Saldanha continued: "Certainly the presence of a few groups of fundamentalists made it necessary to have security guards in front of the main churches in Lahore. But since last Christmas there have been no more attacks on the Christian community and the situation seems to have improved considerably. Today we have good relations with moderate Muslims who are the large majority in Pakistan."

      Pakistan has a population of 150 million; 97% are Muslim, mostly Sunni. Christians constitute 2.5% of the population. Catholic number about 1.2 million.

      * * *

      Postulator of John Paul I's Cause Dies

      ROME, NOV. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Salesian Father Pasquale Liberatore, the postulator appointed to oversee the cause of beatification of Pope John Paul I, died on Friday. He was 71.

      Bishop Vincenzo Savio of Belluno had asked Father Liberatore to support the preparation of the records for the canonical process of beatification of Albino Luciani.

      Once the diocesan process was concluded in Belluno, the cause would have been taken up in Rome by Father Liberatore.

      Father Liberatore had many causes that culminated in the canonization or veneration of key Salesian figures, including the martyrs Luis Versilia and Calixto Caravario and the 31 Spanish martyred companions of Valencia and Barcelona.

      * * *

      Ordination of Homosexual Bishop Stirs Anglican Fears

      Archbishop of Canterbury Sees Threat to Unity

      LONDON, NOV. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The archbishop of Canterbury acknowledged that the ordination of an openly homosexual bishop in the United States will have "serious consequences for the cohesion of the Anglican Communion."

      Rowan Williams' statement was published today following Sunday's consecration of Gene Robinson, 56, as coadjutor bishop in New Hampshire for the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism.

      Robinson, divorced and the father of two, has been living with his male companion for 13 years. He was ordained in a ceremony which took place in the ice-hockey stadium of the University of New Hampshire, and attended by several thousand people.

      In an official statement issued by Lambeth Palace, Williams said that it "was recognized fully at last month's meeting of Anglican leaders that the consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire would have very serious consequences for the cohesion of the Anglican Communion."

      "That meeting requested the setting up of a commission which would examine these consequences in depth," the statement said. "The meeting also encouraged me to be in discussion with the leaders of the provinces concerned about provisions made for those alienated by decisions which appear to go against Catholic order or biblical teaching. Such discussion has already begun."

      Before that meeting took place, Dr. Williams met with John Paul II on Oct. 4. The Pope and Holy See representatives regarded the possibility of Robinson's episcopal ordination as a new "difficulty" for the unity of Anglicans and Catholics.

      * * *

      Art Exhibition Focuses on Swedish Queen Christina, a Convert

      Collection on Display in Rome

      ROME, NOV. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-1689) is at the center of a display dedicated to her culturally and literarily fruitful reign.

      The exhibition at Rome's Palazzo Ruspoli includes a 150-piece collection that reflects the customs of this Scandinavian country from the 17th and 18th centuries.

      Christina was exceptional for her time. She greatly stimulated patronage, art and literature, and said in her youth that she did not want to marry.

      She converted to Catholicism and simultaneously (in 1654) abdicated from the throne. She left Sweden and went to Rome, where she spent most of her life, in constant touch with the popes of her time. She played a key part in the election of Pope Clement IX, successor of Alexander VII.

      Key to her conversion to Catholicism was her contact with the superior general of the Jesuits, Father Francesco Piccolomini.

      The young queen went to Rome just seven years after the Protestant victory signed in the Peace of Westphalia. Her visit to Rome represented a great victory for the papacy, explained Agneta Lundstrom, Barbro Bursell and Soldrid Soderlind, directors of the museums that have loaned works for the occasion.

      The present Swedish sovereigns, King Gustav Karl XVI and Queen Sylvia, inaugurated the exhibition Oct. 28 in Rome, at the headquarters of the Memmo Foundation, located in the Palazzo Ruspoli on the Via del Corso.

      The exhibition starts with a gigantic white and black mural with typical Swedish vegetation, and moves onto the history of the Swedish dynasty through its rich collections, reflecting the contacts between Stockholm and Rome, especially in the area of cultural exchanges.

      There are several portraits of Queen Christina; busts; swords of King Gustav Adolph II; an oil painting of Venus and Adonis by Cornelis Cornelisz; the canopy of the queen's coronation; and Peter Paul Rubens' painting "The Three Graces with a Basket of Roses."

      The face of a young servant, chosen as the motif of the exhibition, is by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn. The exhibition will be open to the public until Jan. 15.

      * * *

      Spiritualism and Its Dangers

      Interview With an Exorcist, Father Francesco Bamonte

      ROME, NOV. 3, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Superstition offends Jesus because it shows a lack of trust in him, says an exorcist who has written a book on the hidden action of the Evil One and supposed communications with the beyond.

      Father Francesco Bamonte's volume, available in Italian and soon due out in other languages, is entitled "I Danni dello Spiritismo" (The Damages of Spiritualism), published by Ancora.

      Father Bamonte, a religious of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, dedicates his pastoral ministry to helping people who have fallen prey to wizards or self-styled mediums.

      In this interview with ZENIT, Father Bamonte describes in detail the physical and psychic damages caused by spiritualism.

      Q: You are an exorcist. Do you think that people who fall into spiritualistic practices are seeking the truth in a mistaken way?

      Father Bamonte: Certainly. Spiritualistic practices are a mistaken way of seeking truth. People hope to receive real information on God, man, the beyond, the past, present and future, from what they think are the souls of the dead. In reality, they are generally no more than tricks which sometimes make them enter into contact with their own subconscious.

      In other cases, however, they enter into contact with demonic spirits which pretend to be the souls of the dead. That's because the phenomena and manifestations of spiritualism are not always tricks, fiction, suggestions, psychological mechanisms, manifestations of the subconscious or creations of the psyche, which some like to suggest so as to explain unusual events, including the demonic or supernatural.

      The cases of infestation or diabolic possession, in which exorcist priests have had to intervene after a spiritualistic séance, show clearly how this practice is a favorite way for the devil's destructive action on people.

      Q: What, exactly, is spiritualism, and why is it not reconcilable with the faith?

      Father Bamonte: It is the evocation of the dead, that is, a practice with which, through techniques and human means, with or without a medium, an attempt is made to call a dead person to ask him questions.

      Every time we pray to God for our dead, without engaging in a spiritualistic practice, we ask the dead as well as the saints to pray to God with and for us. This is the invocation of the dead, but not their evocation, which is what spiritualism does.

      The dead can only manifest themselves to us by the free initiative of God, directly and never through techniques or mediums such as spiritualistic séances. For serious reasons, God can allow a dead person to appear to us, for example, to give us advice or at least a consoling presence, to ask for prayers or to express gratitude for prayers offered.

      If on the contrary we are the ones who want to bring about a meeting with the dead through "evocation" with spiritualistic techniques, already in the Old Testament God spoke clearly in this respect and told us that he abominates anyone who does these things. Suffice it to read Deuteronomy 18:10-12 or Leviticus 19:31.

      Q: Spiritualistic practices promise consolation and contact with dead persons. What can be said, from the Christian point of view, to those who seek this approach to the beyond?

      Father Bamonte: They should read the Bible and see that God severely prohibits this approach to the beyond because he knows that it is false and deceitful as it plunges us in darkness and turns us away from the truth and genuine faith, opening the way to the intervention of evil spirits.

      Whoever wishes to feel close to deceased loved ones, should go to confession frequently, go to Mass, pray for them, and be totally prepared to accept God's wills. God will certainly give them the possibility to feel the joy of being in communion with their deceased loved ones.

      Q: What are the principal dangers of spiritualism?

      Father Bamonte: Physical troubles of all kinds such as strong stomach pains, pains in the forehead and bones, vomiting, epileptic fits, pins and needles in the legs, sudden attacks of heat or cold, increasing sense of anxiety, depressions, constant nervous tics, the impossibility to take in food.

      Q: Enough, enough ... are there still more?

      Father Bamonte: I am referring only to physical troubles, but there are still many more: inability to sleep night or day, inability to study or work. To be agitated, to have nightmares, to be afraid of the dark, to have the sensation of being grabbed by the arms, or the sensation of someone sitting on our lap. One also feels invisible slaps and bites, as well as blows to the body.

      Q: And the psychological damages?

      Father Bamonte: Phenomena like self-exclusion from the social daily context, states of dependency like those of alcohol or drugs, loss of rationality and freedom, dissociation from one's personality to the point of feeling that someone has entered one's person; voices that superimpose themselves on prayer and blaspheme and lead to suicide.

      In regard to damage to places, we might say that they are indicated by phenomena such as the movement of objects without any sensible cause, doorbells or musical instruments which are suddenly heard. Mention must also be made of banging on the roof, walls or floor, cries and voices in the air, the sound of footsteps, dark visions or monstrous presences.

      Q: What is so-called pseudo-Catholic spiritualism?

      Father Bamonte: The futile attempt to reconcile the Catholic faith with spiritualism. Given what I have just said, it can readily be understood how this is absolutely impossible.

      Q: Yes, it is perfectly understood. But it is not unusual to meet Christians who are somewhat superstitious. Can this tendency be corrected?

      Father Bamonte: Superstition is a sin against the First Commandment. Christian faith and superstition are in open contradiction and yet not a few Christians are afraid of a black cat crossing the street, spilled oil, the numbers 13 or 17. And they wear amulets or talismans to ensure good luck or prevent ill fortune.

      There are also many Christians who have a horseshoe on their front door. It is not unusual to see Catholics doing gestures with their hands to look like horns or who cross their fingers at certain times. It is also grave, especially if one is a Christian, to believe in horoscopes, to consult wizards, to have one's palm read, or to engage in spiritualism.

      Superstition offends Christ because it reveals a lack of abandonment and trust in him. In evangelization, in the preaching at Mass, and in catechesis, it is necessary to proclaim that the Christian trusts Christ wholeheartedly, who frees and saves man from the forces of evil that threaten him.

      Superstition, on the contrary, not only does not liberate or protect one from the forces of evil but it is a way that enslaves one forever.

      * * *


      Chapter Four (continued)

      One of the greatest medieval authors on devotion to Heaven "the writings of John of Fécamp [d. 1078] were the most widely read spiritual texts before the Imitation of Christ." (76). The devotion to Heaven serves as an aid to humanity to fix its gaze on God, on eternal truth, on things that are enduring unto eternal life. In a world darkened with global culture of death filled with materialistic consumer mentality Catholics and all people of good will need to more and more distance themselves from the false values of the world that offer only empty promises that they can never fulfill. It is only Jesus Christ who alone can satisfy the soul and longing of the human person. All other attempts to allure us are from base human motives or designs of the dark forces or evil spirits of this world to take us away from Christ bringing us to death. Devotion to Heaven is a spiritual remedy and antidote to the toxic poisons of this world. Devotion to lectio divina instills within us this true devotion to the Word of God, to the Catholic Church, to the Mother of God, Mary Most Holy. These and these alone are our sources of the foretaste of Heaven here in this life. Devotion to them guarantees for us true devotion to Jesus Christ the Savior of the World and assures us of the salvation He alone delivers to every human heart that asks.

      Jean Leclercq, O.S.B., The Love of Learning and the Desire For God. A
      Study of Monastic Culture. (NY: Fordham University Press, 1961, 1974)
      ISBN 0-8232-0406-5

      * * *


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      3. Today's Lectionary Readings Text

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      Color Photograph of Mama Gili, Biography and Prayers

      Cause of Mama Gili as Servant of God (Part 1)

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      Need a Miracle?

      Dolores Immacolata "Mama" Gili (1892-1985)


      The Mama Gili Guild was established several years ago to gather,
      collect, and publish information on Dolores Immacolata Gili (1892-
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      well as to promote her cause and toperpetuate her cult by directing
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      Call or write today regarding favors granted through the intercession
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      10. Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ. English Trans. Online

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      * * *


      When the Eucharistic host is elevated at Mass say:

      "Eternal Father, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
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      When the Eucharistic chalice is elevated at Mass say:

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      Christ, in reparation for all the sins committed against you and for
      the conversion and salvation of the whole world."

      * * *


      "during this important time, as the eve of the new millennium
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      "Keep close to the Mother of God as if you were the child Jesus
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