Cardinal Opposes Death Penalty for Saddam Hussein

THE UNIVERSE, June 23 — Stating that “human life is always inviolable,” Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Pontifical Council for Culture, urged that Saddam Hussein not be sentenced to death, the British website reported.

The Iraqi court trying the former dictator is expected to make a decision on his sentence public in August, despite the recent murder of Saddam’s defense lawyer, who was shot in Baghdad in late June.

 “The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Pope reiterate that every person is a creature of God, and that no one can consider himself the proprietor of another’s life and death, except the Creator,” said the cardinal.

“Life is a gift, and this is a universal principle and there are no exceptions. Every creature, including the most unfortunate, was created in the image and likeness of the Lord. God is master of life and death.”

Pope: Mass Deserves Traditional Sacred Music

AKI, June 26 — Pope Benedict XVI has called for traditional sacred music to be played during Mass, criticizing the ongoing custom of contemporary music at religious celebrations, AdnKronosInternational reported.

“Updating sacred music is possible, but this cannot happen unless it follows the tradition of Gregorian chants or sacred polyphony,” the Holy Father, a skilled pianist with a predilection for Bach and Mozart, said June 25 after hearing a performance of sacred music in the Sistine Chapel.

In an interview published in Turin-daily La Stampa June 26, the former Archbishop of Ravenna, Cardinal Ersilio Tonini said, “Benedict XVI is right. Mass is a meeting with God and to meet God sacred music is better than the turmoil of electric guitars, hand clapping and the hustle and bustle of disorderly sounds.”

The cardinal said 40 years ago after the Second Vatican Council “making Mass more popular and inviting could be understood.” However, the cardinal added, “we exaggerated and now I believe it is legitimate to consider as over this season of breaks with tradition.”

A Vatican Delegation Goes to Beijing

ASIANEWS, June 27 — A Vatican delegation was in Beijing June 25-July 1 to meet with various officials of the Chinese government, AsiaNews reported.

The meeting of the Holy See’s delegation with representatives of the Chinese government comes at a time of tension caused by the recent series of illicit episcopal ordinations, which the Vatican forcefully criticized as “an attack against religious freedom.” The visit, Vatican analysts said, is significant in that it is absolutely necessary to “keep doors open” regarding relations with China.

The Holy See’s delegation consisted of Archbishop Claudio Celli and Msgr. Gianfranco Rota Graziosi of the Secretariat of State. It is hoped that establishing diplomatic relations with China will lead to full religious freedom for the Church.

The report said complicating matters is a long series of religious freedom violations: Dozens of priests of the underground Church are still in prison; bishops have been missing for years. Even Bishop Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, whose liberation had been announced weeks ago, was still being detained.

Holy Father to Visit Germany in September

REUTERS, June 24 — Pope Benedict will return to his native Germany from Sept. 9-14 to visit the southern Bavaria region where he grew up, Reuters reported.

A statement released by the Vatican June 24 said the trip to Germany, the Holy Father’s second since being elected in April 2005, will include stops in Munich, Regensburg and Altoetting. In August 2005 he attended the World Youth Day in the western city of Cologne. Altoetting is located near the small town of Marktl-am-Inn where the Pope was born in 1927.

Pope Benedict studied at the University of Munich before being ordained as a priest and later served as archbishop of Munich. His older brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, still lives in Regensburg, where then Father Joseph Ratzinger once taught theology.