Vatican City, Feb 13, 2004 (CNA) - During the funeral Mass of Cardinal Opilio Rossi, Pope John Paul II recalled the years of World War II and said that the late Cardinal learned that hatred and exagerated nationalism only brings “tears and blood.”
Cardinal Rossi, a skilled Vatican diplomat who served under five pontificates died on Monday at age 93.
The Pope underscored that it was “faith which animated the long and fecund priestly ministry of Cardinal Opilio Rossi. How many times did he celebrate the divine Sacrifice, drawing from the Eucharist the light and inner strength needed for his daily choices and for his apostolate!”
Noting that his episcopal motto was “Omnia in Christo” (“All in Christ”), the Pope said: “We can say that, even within the limits of human fragility, this total tension towards Christ was behind the tireless service he gave to the Holy See in the pontifical representations in diverse countries in America and Europe, and again within the milieu of the Roman Curia.”
“During the dramatic moments of World War II,” the Pontiff continued, “Fr. Opilio Rossi, then an auditor at the pontifical representative’s offices in Berlin, gave everything he had, along with the late Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Orsenigo, to assist many suffering brothers and sisters, giving them courage and nourishing in them faith and Christian hope.”
“It was an enriching experience of humanity and solidarity towards the weakest. He then sought, over the course of his life, to transmit this experience to new generations,” he added.
According to the Pope, Cardinal Rossi “was in fact convinced that young people must draw from the history of the 20th century an important lesson: that is, that hatred, disdain for others, violence, and exasperated nationalism bring forth only tears and blood.”
John Paul II then recalled that Cardinal Rossi returned to the Roman Curia where he became the first president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and that he himself called the Cardinal to preside over the Permanent Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.
“Wherever he undertook his pastoral and diplomatic ministry,” concluded the Pope, Cardinal Rossi “knew how to become close to everyone.”
, Feb 13, 2004 (CNA) - Two weeks before the release of Mel Gibson's film, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, well known radio host and president of Toward Tradition, has released a statement, saying that not all Jews are against “The Passion of the Christ.”
The film sparked controversy last year when the Anti-Defamation League viewed a rough-cut of the film and declared that it was anti-Semitic. Since then, many Jewish organizations have joined in and have either boycotted the film or urged theatres not to screen it, warning that the film will incite violence against Jews.
“Those Jewish organizations that have squandered both time and money futilely protesting Passion … can hardly be proud of their performance,” said Lapin, adding that instead of helping the Jewish community, “they have inflicted lasting harm.”
“By selectively unleashing their fury only on wholesome entertainment that depicts Christianity, in a positive light, they have triggered anger, hurt, and resentment,” said the host of the Toward Tradition Radio Show.
“I consider it crucially important for Christians to know that not all Jews are in agreement with their self-appointed spokesmen,” said Lapin. “Most American Jews … would feel awkward trying to explain why so many Jewish organizations seem focused on an agenda hostile to Judeo-Christian values.”
Lapin said many individual Jews have told him that they are embarrassed by these Jewish groups that “attack Passion but are silent about depraved entertainment that encourages killing cops and brutalizing women.”
“One can hardly blame Christians for assuming that Jews feel artistic freedom is important only when exercised by those hostile toward Christianity. However, this is not how all Jews feel,” insisted the rabbi.
“From audiences around America, I am encountering bitterness at Jewish organizations insisting that belief in the New Testament is de facto evidence of anti-Semitism,” said the radio-show host. “Furthermore, Christians are hurt that Jewish groups are presuming to teach them what Christian Scripture ‘really means.’”
“Many Christians … are incredulous at Jews thinking that exposure to the Gospels in visual form will instantly transform the most philo-Semitic gentiles of history into snarling, Jew-hating predators,” he said.
Lapin added that an AJC director recently warned that Passion “could undermine the sense of community between Christians and Jews that's going on in this country.
“It isn't the film that threatens the sense of community,” said Lapin. “It is the arrogant and intemperate response of Jewish organizations that does so.”
The rabbi also predicted that the film will renew the faith of millions of Christians.
“Passion will propel vast numbers of unreligious Americans to embrace Christianity,” predicted Lapin. “The movie will one day be seen as a harbinger of America's third great religious reawakening.”
, Feb 13, 2004 (CNA) - Best-selling author and theologian George Weigel will be releasing his latest book, “Letters to a Young Catholic”, in March.
“These letters are written to and for, young Catholics — and not-so-young Catholics and indeed curious souls of any religious persuasion or none — who wonder what it means to be a Catholic today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century and the third millennium,” wrote Weigel in the introduction of his book.
Rather than exploring the meaning of Catholicism through documents and dogma, Weigel decided to provide readers with an epistolary tour of those parts of the Catholic world that have shaped his understanding of the Church, its people and its teachings.
His tour takes readers to Catholic landmarks as diverse as Chartres Cathedral, the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, G.K. Chesterton’s favorite pub, the grave of a modern martyr in Warsaw, the Sistine Chapel and St. Mary’s Church in Greenville, S.C.
Through these Catholic landmarks, the 208-page book offers an examination of the foundations of Catholic faith and explores the topics of grace, prayer, vocation, sin and forgiveness, suffering and love. The author also uses insights from history, literature, theology, and music to illuminate the beliefs that have shaped Catholicism for 2,000 years.
“Catholicism is a very tangible business,” said Weigel in his introduction. “It’s about seeing and hearing, touching, tasting and smelling as much as it’s about texts and arguments and ideas. Visiting some of the more intriguing parts of the Catholic world will I hope, be an experience of the mystery of the Church, which is crucial to understanding it,” he said.
“And by the ‘mystery’ of the Church, I don’t mean the documents long filed away in the Vatican Secret Archives,” he continued. “I mean those dimensions of the Catholic experience that are matters of intuition and empathy and insight — experiences that can never-be-fully-captured discursively.”
Weigel is also the author of “The Courage to be Catholic”, “Witness to Hope: The Biography of John Paul II”, “The Truth of Catholicism” and “The Final Revolution”.
“Letters to a Young Catholic” is published by Basic Books. It will be available in March. The hardcover edition is $22 ($34.95 Canada).
Montreal, Canada, Feb 13, 2004 (CNA) - The annual mass and evening of prayer for vocations for the English region of the Archdiocese of Montreal drew about 200 to the chapel of Grand Seminary, Feb. 11. Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Mancini celebrated the mass and gave one seminarian the Rite of Admission.
“We do not have many who are ready and willing to say to the Lord: ‘Send me’,” said Bishop Mancini in his homily. “And there are all kinds of reasons for that. Maybe because the life we are asked to undertake is hard. Maybe because it does not bring much in the way of affirmation and public support.
“Being a priest is often viewed as being meaningless,” continued the vicar-general. “For those of us gathered here tonight in this chapel, this willingness [of our seminarian] to follow the Lord is a grace that we receive.
“We know that ministry in this world can only be done by persons who have great conviction and great hope,” he said. “We pray, and we must pray, if we want individual hearts to be open to the will of God to answer the community’s need, I dare say cry, to be served.”
“In every age, there have been obstacles to overcome. Our age is no different,” he said, referring to the low number of vocations in the archdiocese. Currently, there are 19 seminarians at the Grand Seminary. Only three are in formation for the English-language Catholic community of Montreal, which numbers about 250,000. The entire archdiocese ministers to about 1.2 million Catholics.
“We pray for freedom to leave ourselves behind … and for trust that the spirit of God is with as as we try to live the Gospel and build up the body of Christ. May the Lord bless our Church with more people willing to say: ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me.’”
The bishop then gave third-year seminarian Francesco Giordano the Rite of Admission. “The priesthood is a call to a deep life,” said the 31-year-old. “I consider it [the rite] an engagement to the Lord and a first step toward the priesthood.” Giordano’s ordination is another four years away. There are no other men set to be ordained to the priesthood for the English region of Montreal until then.
“I decided to join in to pray for vocations because we are desperate for priests,” said Mary Ann Mitchell, a Mic Mac Native Indian and parishioner of St. Patrick’s Basilica. “I pray for vocations all the time,” she said.
“The number of vocations has dropped quite a lot and some parishes are sharing priests now,” noted Daria Kalawski, a parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus.
Cecilia Lopera said she has been attending monthly prayer evenings for vocations at the seminary for the last two years. “In this society in which we live now, we need more young people in service to the community and the Church,” said the 52-year-old native Colombian and mother of two.
Washington D.C., Feb 13, 2004 (CNA) - In the midst of the controversy posed by the upcoming release of Mel Gibson’s film surrounding its depiction of the Jewish people, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) published a collection of documents of Catholic teaching on the Church's relationship to the Jews and its opposition to anti-Semitism.
The 128-page collection, entitled "The Bible, the Jews and the Death of Jesus: A Collection of Catholic Documents", was released by the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. It includes the 1988 document "Criteria for the Evaluation of Dramatizations of the Passion."
This collection includes statements on Catholic teaching about the interpretation of Scripture, Catholic understanding and proper presentation of the Passion and death of Christ, and the Church's ongoing condemnation of the sin of anti-Semitism.
Stockton Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, chairman of the committee, said that "two major developments within the Church awakened and fostered a new understanding of the relationship between the Church and its roots in Judaism."
The first was the biblical movement, which promoted a re-reading of the Gospels in relation to the Jewish people "through analysis of literary and historical forms, in order to identify a fuller theological understanding," Bishop Blaire said.
The second development was at the Second Vatican Council, where the Church made the groundbreaking statement that "neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during the Passion" (Second Vatican Council, "Nostra Aetate" ["In Our Time"], # 4).
The Council also stated that "the Church … deplores all hatreds, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism leveled at any time or from any source against the Jews."
Bishop Blaire said that behind these statements was a wish "to understand better the salvation in Christ by seeing the unique place of Jews and of the Jewish religion in the unfolding of salvation."
The collection is intended to be useful for preachers and teachers, for parish-discussion groups, and for Catholic-Jewish dialogue groups.
Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 13, 2004 (CNA) - The Mexican Bishops Conference expressed regret that the country’s Attorney General has not announced the innocence of Cardinal Juan Sandoval, Archbishop of Guadalajara, as widely as the false charges linking him to drug trafficking.
In a press release the Bishops pointed out that last December 26, the Attorney General reported on the exoneration of Cardinal Sandoval and his relatives “as a result of the investigation which was sparked by an accusation of connections with drug trafficking and money laundering.”
The Bishops expressed their joy and satisfaction that “after a rigorous investigation, the innocence of Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez has been proven and his complete honesty has been confirmed, as we have always believed and affirm.
Nevertheless, they lamented the procedures of the Attorney General, first for “the serious lack of discretion manifested during the investigation, which resulted in the accusations and investigations being made public, thereby creating a scandal concerning the honorability of the Cardinal and his relatives.”
They also denounced the Attorney General for making sure he personally made the public announcement of an investigation into the charges, yet after the investigation concluded, the results were announced by one of the AG’s assistants.
In conclusion the Bishops expressed their “resolve and firm purpose to continue calling for an investigation to clear up the facts surrounding the assassination of Cardinal Juan Posadas Ocampo, until results in accord with truth and justice are achieved.”
Last year, various authorities accused former Attorney General Jorge Carpizo of not seeking justice in the case of Cardinal Juan Posadas’ assassination and of orchestrating a farse against Cardinal Sandoval.
The AG admitted having opened an investigation of Cardinal Sandoval and his family for alleged money laundering and organized wrong-doing without any more proof than the request by Carpizo.
Cardinal Sandoval is the most vocal defender of the theory that the assassination of Cardinal Posadas was premeditated and was not a case of mistaken identity between to drug trafficking groups, which Carpizo who was then Attorney General has always held.