John Paul Declares Indian Priest Servant of God
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA, June 5 — Pope John Paul II has named Father Joseph Vithayathil, a Kerala, India-born priest who founded the congregation of the Holy Family, a servant of God.
The Pope made his pronouncement May 18 and a ceremony in India on June 7 marked the designation officially. It is the first step on the road to sainthood.
Father Vithayathil was born in 1865 in Puthanpally, India, into a family that produced several nuns and priests, including Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil, current archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly and head of the Syro-Malabar Church.
Father Vithayathil was ordained a priest in 1894 and served as vicar of the church at the headquarters of the Holy Family Congregation, which was founded by Mariam Thresia, whom the Vatican beatified in 2000. He had spiritual vision and prudence besides a deep love for people, especially the poor and needy, said the congregation's superior general, Sister Annie Palathingal.
Father Vithayathil died in 1964. His cause was opened in April 2003.
Ratzinger Calls for Caution on Denying Communion
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, June 4 — Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told bishops visiting the Vatican they should be cautious about denying Communion to Catholic politicians whose positions conflict with Church teaching.
Bishop Donald Pelotte of Gallup, N.M., said the cardinal, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the Vatican would like to meet soon with a panel of U.S. bishops reviewing the bishops' response to Catholic leaders in public life, the Associated Press reported.
According to Bishop Pelotte, who was at the Vatican for his once-every-five-year ad limina visit, Cardinal Ratzinger did not say whether Communion should be used as a sanction.
What Cardinal Ratzinger “was suggesting,” Bishop Pelotte told Catholic News Service, “was a meeting as soon as possible between the [bishops‘] task force and people at the doctrinal congregation, to work out some kind of understanding.”
The task force was expected to give a report on its progress at the bishops' conference meeting in Denver from June 14-19.
Aziz Family Turns to Pope for Help
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, June 9 — The family of Tariq Aziz has written to Pope John Paul II for his help in learning the former Iraqi deputy prime minister's whereabouts. Aziz was detained by the United States after he turned himself in to the Americans in April 2003.
After his arrest, “we had no news from him until the last week of June 2003, when we first received a letter from him, but we haven't seen him nor have we talked to him,” Aziz's daughter, Zainab Aziz, told the Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana.
In his last letter to family members in April, Aziz said he was still in Iraq.
Aziz, 68, was the only Christian member of Saddam Hussein's cabinet. He met frequently with Pope John Paul II, most recently in February 2003 before the U.S.-led war on Iraq began, Agence France-Presse reported.
The news service did not mention a response to the family from the Pope or the Vatican.
- June 20-26, 2004