Vatican City, Oct 9, 2003 (CNA) - In a general audience today, Pope John Paul II urged the Knights of Columbus to “continue to seek new ways of being a leaven of the Gospel in the world and a spiritual force for the renewal of the Church in holiness, unity and truth.
The Pope met with the order on the occasion of the meeting held by the board of directors of the Knights of Columbus in Rome.
The pontiff also expressed his deep gratitude for the “unfailing support” which the order has given to the Church’s mission.
“This support is shown in a special way in the Vicarius Christi Fund, which is a sign of the solidarity of the Knights of Columbus with the Successor of Peter in his concern for the universal Church, but it is also seen in the daily prayers, sacrifices and apostolic works of so many Knights in their local Councils, their parishes and their communities,” he said.
Vatican City, Oct 9, 2003 (CNA) - In order to create a true community of disciples of the Lord, priests and bishops must prepare lay people with solid catechesis and train future priests to be holy and see their vocation as more than just a ‘career’, Pope John Paul II told a group of Filipino bishops today.
“One of the major contributions the Church can make in guaranteeing a solid preparation of the laity is to ensure that seminaries and religious houses are training future priests to be dedicated disciples of the Word and Sacrament,” he said.
The Filipino Bishops from the Provinces of Caceres, Capiz, Cebu, Jaro and Palo met in Rome this past week for their Ad Limia visit. This was the second of three groups of bishops from the Philippines who are making a pilgrimage to the Vatican.
Training future priests is “a complex process that begins with the proper selection of candidates,” said the pope. “In this regard, I recommend that you and your priests actively search for good, pious and well-balanced young men for the priesthood and challenge them to be not afraid ‘to put out into the deep’ for a catch of inestimable value,” he said.
He also spoke of the four necessary components in forming a “good and holy priest “, namely: human, intellectual, pastoral and spiritual formation.
Referring to all Catholics, the pope said that “being a disciple of the Lord is not a whimsical decision but is instead a serious, loving response to a personal invitation.
“In fact, it is only through this authentic discipleship, based on loving solidarity, that the Philippines can begin to resolve the worrisome dichotomy between faith and life which plagues so many modern societies,” he said.
Despite the rich Christian heritage of the Philippines, “there still exist certain contradictions among Christians and in Filipino society at large,” said the pontiff. “These incongruities can only be rectified by your being fully opened to Christ’s spirit, going into the world and transforming it into a culture of justice and peace.”
The pope said that one of the ways to bring about this transformation is for the priests and bishops to ensure that the laity has at its disposal programs of spirituality and catechesis.
The pope also encouraged the Filipino bishops in their commitment to support and assist priests through ongoing formation. Such formation should promote “the priestly virtues of charity, prayer, chastity and faithful celebration of the liturgy, practices unappreciated or even rejected by modern culture and its media,” added the pope.
“Today’s clergy must be careful not to adopt the secular view of the priesthood as a ‘profession’, a ‘career’ and a means of earning a living. Rather, the clergy must see the priesthood as a vocation to selfless, loving service, embracing wholeheartedly the ‘esteemed gift of celibacy’ and all that this involves,” he said.
“Celibacy is to be regarded as an integral part of the priest’s exterior and interior life, and not just as a long-standing ideal, which is to be respected,” he emphasized.
“Sadly, the lifestyle of some clergy has been a countersign to the spirit of the evangelical counsels which should be a part of the spirituality of every priest,” he continued. “The scandalous behavior of a few has undermined the credibility of many. I wish you to know that I am aware of the sensitive way in which you have attempted to address this issue, and I encourage you not to lose hope.”
Kolkata, India, Oct 9, 2003 (CNA) - Mother Teresa’s beatification Mission Sunday, Oct. 19, will spark a week of celebrations in the Diocese of Pune, where she spent most of her years ministering to the poor and the dying.
To mark the beatification, Bishop Valerian D'Souza of Pune asked all churches to ring their bells at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19, after the beatification ceremony at the Vatican. Most local churches will also celebrate Mother Teresa’s life by feeding the poor. The weeklong program also includes inter-religious peace services.
The highlight of the local celebrations will be a mass of at Pune’s St. Patrick's Cathedral Oct. 21.
After the beatification, Mother Teresa will be venerated as Blessed Teresa of Kolkata.
, Oct 9, 2003 (CNA) - The new bishop of the Diocese of Toledo said he expects lay people to continue to have a vital role in his diocesan Church. Bishop Leonard Paul Blair added that one of his first missions will be to meet with Church leaders and priests.
Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Blair Oct. 7 to succeed Bishop James Hoffman, who died of cancer at age 70 in February.
According to an Associated Press report, the 53-year-old bishop promised to be a "teacher, a priest and shepherd" for the Church of Toledo.
Bishop Blair was born in Detroit in 1949. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1976. He completed a bachelor of arts in History from Sacred Heart Seminary College in Detroit, and a bachelor of sacred theology, as well as a licentiate in theology with a specialization in patristics and the history of theology, from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He later completed a doctorate in theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.
He served as associate pastor at three parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit and, for three years, served as Secretary to Edmund Cardinal Szoka and as a staff member of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See at the Vatican.
Over the years, he also served as the vicar-general, chancellor and ecumenical officer for the Archdiocese of Detroit and as dean of studies and assistant professor of theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary College. He was named an auxiliary bishop of Detroit and ordained a bishop in 1999.
The Diocese of Toledo has 330,000 Catholics. He will be the diocese's seventh bishop.
Boston, Mass., Oct 9, 2003 (CNA) - Just weeks after reaching an $85-million settlement with the alleged victims of Boston’s clergy sex-abuse scandal, Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., has begun speaking out on social issues and joining the debates on same-sex marriage and abortion.
According to a report by the Associated Press, the Boston archbishop defended the traditional definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman at a recent conference of religious leaders, called "The Summit of October to Save Marriage," and said that "any redefinition of marriage must be seen as an attack on the common good."
The conference was held on the heels of a recent lawsuit, being heard in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which is seeking legal status for same-sex marriage. The case is still pending a decision.
Last weekend, the archbishop addressed a crowd of 1,000 at a pro-life rally, calling abortion violence and urging participants to build a “civilization of love”, which rejects abortion and euthanasia.
The AP reported that some Church observers said it was inevitable that Archbishop O’Malley, who succeeded Bernard Cardinal Law in July, would begin speaking out on social issues once the sex-abuse cases were settled.
"It seems to me he’s got lots of moral authority right now because he’s done the right thing in dealing with the sex-abuse cases,” Fr. Thomas Reese, Jesuit priest and editor of America, told AP. “I think people are, for the most part, satisfied with what he’s doing and think it should have been done a long time ago.”
Havana, Cuba, Oct 9, 2003 (CNA) - The Leonor Pérez Committee of Mothers for the Release of Political Prisoners, a group of women that visit Catholic parishes asking for prayers for political prisoners, has extended its appeal from the Church of St. Rita in Miramar to other parishes in the Cuban capital.
“This way,” says Noris Durán Durán, the Committee’s Vice President, “a greater number of citizens will be aware of the plight of Cuban prisoners of conscience. We are informing parishioners, and they join us in prayer to God for the health, the lives, and the freedom of political prisoners, and for the well-being of other inmates.”
Durán, who is the mother of former prisoner of conscience Lázaro Constantín Durán, said she prepares a list each month of the visits that will be made on Sundays to different parishes.
The Vice President of the Committee said the prayer appeals began on September 28 in the Church of Corpus Christi near the government-owned Palacio de Convenciones, continuing on October 5 at the Church of St. Thomas. On October 12 the appeal will take place at the Church of St. Jude, in Old Havana.
“We’re not discontinuing our pilgrimage and active presence on Sundays at St. Rita’s, where we began our respectful and peaceful appeal for prayers and where we will continue to meet the last Sunday of each month, but we want to bring our message to the entire Cuban capital,” said Durán.
At the same time, she emphasized, “Our demands are not only for the 75 prisoners of conscience from the latest wave of oppression—although we stress that they are treated more harshly than others because of the long sentences and poor conditions in which they are held—but for all prisoners as well. We have been very warmly received by pastors, parishioners, and people in general, all of whom have shown us sympathy and support.”
According to Caridad Peña, President of the Committee, who has two sons currently being held as political prisoners, “We don’t go into the parishes screaming and causing scandal, we don’t upset people, nor do we interfere with the celebration of Holy Mass. Our respectful presence, our manner of dressing in black and white, and the public awareness of our message is of great moral encouragement for political prisoners. As people get to know our mission, more and more of them join us and share our concern for this just cause.
Madrid, Spain, Oct 9, 2003 (CNA) - Just two days before the announcement of this year’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Spanish website HazteOir.org has begun an international appeal for emails in support of awarding the prize to Pope John Paul II.
The site offers a petition addressed to the Nobel Institute in Norway, Geir Lundestad, asking that the prize be given to the Holy Father as he completes the 25th year of his pontificate. The petition can signed online at http://www.hazteoir.com/modules.php?name=Noticias&file=article&sid=143.
“John Paul II, who celebrates the 25th year of his pontificate this October, is probably the greatest defender of peace of the 20th and 21st centuries. He is a true ‘Apostle for Peace,’” the site states.
HazteOir.org also says that “although the nominations (and there are many) for the prize are made before the month of February and are kept secret for 50 years, the Holy Father is surely on the list of those nominated.”
Many noted Spaniards have called for the Nobel to be awarded to John Paul II, including the mayor of La Coruña, Paco Vázquez, the philosopher Julián Marías, and many other writers, journalists, politicians, artists and union leaders.
Rome, Italy, Oct 9, 2003 (CNA) - The Postulator of the cause of beatification and canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta has announced the relics of Mother Teresa will be displayed for public veneration on October 11-26 in the Crypt of the Antonianum University of Rome.
According to the Fides news agency, the Postulator’s office explained that “Mother Teresa will speak to the faithful herself” through the objects that belonged to her, through the pictures, the documents and the unpublished writings that will be on display.
“We hope those who visit will have an encounter with Mother Teresa, with her humanity and her simplicity,” organizers said.
Among the objects to be displayed for the first time will be her profession crucifix, prayer books, sandals, the journal she kept as nurse, and the international awards she received.
A Eucharistic adoration chapel will also be available for visitors to spend time in prayer.