Vatican City, Apr 29, 2004 (CNA) - Addressing bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of Baltimore and Washington who end their ‘ad limina’ visit today, the Holy Father underscored the pursuit of personal holiness as the first duty of a bishop and key which enables him to fulfill his ministry and build up the Church.
“The pursuit of personal holiness must be central to the life and identity of every Bishop. He is to recognize his own need to be sanctified as he engages in the sanctification of others,” said the Pope. “Each Bishop stands in the place of Christ himself and acts in his person” and thus is called to conform his heart in charity “to the heart of Christ in a sacrificial love for the Church and all her members.”
The bishop is called to serve as “a herald of the Gospel, a steward of the mysteries of God, and the spiritual father of the flock entrusted to his care.” The task set before bishops is to see that "the life of every Christian and all the structures of the Church must be clearly ordered to the pursuit of holiness.”
The Holy Father said that the “unifying principle of the Bishop’s ministry will be his contemplation of the face of Christ and his proclamation of his Gospel of salvation: a dynamic interplay of prayer and work which will spiritually enrich both his outward activity and his interior life.”
He emphasized the need for the bishop’s prayer life to be nourished by recourse to the sacrament of penance, the Liturgy of the Hours, and the Eucharist, "not only when he stands before the People of God as sacerdos et pontifex, but also by spending a fair amount of his time in adoration before the tabernacle."
Commenting on the need for the bishops to give testimony to their sacrificial service to the Church, the Pope stressed the importance of adopting “a lifestyle which imitates the poverty of Christ.”
“The great challenge of the new evangelization to which the Church is called in our time requires a credibility born of personal fidelity to the Gospel and the demands of Christian discipleship,” he said.
The Holy Father expressed the hope that his reflections will become part of the bishops’ personal meditation will help them in building up the Church in the United States.
John Paul II concluded by recalling America’s “outstanding model of episcopal sanctity in Saint John Neumann, whose life was spent in generous and unassuming service to his flock,” and commending the bishops present to his intercession.
Vatican City, Apr 29, 2004 (CNA) - “To evangelize the world there is need of apostles who are 'experts' in the celebration, adoration and contemplation of the Eucharist," said the Pope in his message for the 78th World Mission Day, which was made public today.
He also affirmed that the missonary activity of the Church is still an “urgency in the third millenium” and reiterated the need for it to be founded upon the Eucharist: "How could the Church fulfill her vocation without cultivating a constant relationship with the Eucharist, without nourishing herself with this food which sanctifies, without founding her missionary activity on this indispensable support?”
The Holy Father’s message underlined the fact that the missionary character of Christian life begins anew after every Mass: "At the end of every Mass all should feel they are sent as 'missionaries of the Eucharist' to carry to every environment the great gift received. In fact anyone who encounters Christ in the Eucharist cannot fail to proclaim through his or her life the merciful love of the Redeemer."
He also underscored the importance of spending time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, “drawing from it strength, consolation and assistance.”
World Mission Day, October 17th, falls during the International Eucharistic Congress taking place in Guadalajara, Mexico this year, which also coincides with the 150th anniversary of the definition of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
The document was presented today at the Holy See Press Office by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The cardinal brought attention to the last part of the Pope’s message, in which he urges the faithful to
materially and spiritually help the Pontifical Missionary Works which support: 280 inter-diocesan major seminaries in which 65,000 seminarians are formed; 110 minor seminaries in which 85,000 seminarians are formed; 42,000 schools; 1,600 hospitals; 6,000 medical clinics; 780 leprosariums and 12,000 social and charitable centers.
He recalled that the works supported by his dicastery aid not only Catholics but members of all religions, citing the Arab countries and India, in which most of those helped are of other religions.
Washington D.C., Apr 29, 2004 (CNA) - Catholics in the United States must live and promote a positive approach to liberty, conceived more as “freedom for” something constructive rather than as a mere “freedom from” real or imaginary restraints, said Avery Cardinal Dulles in his keynote address at the first National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
The event yesterday gathered more than 1,000 attendees at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., including many Catholic personalities such as Judge Robert Bork, Senator Rick Santorum, Congressman Walter Jones, the Honorable Tommy Thompson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Theodore Cardinal McCarick, archbishop of Washington, D.C., who is in Rome for an Ad Limina visit, sent a personal greeting that was read by Fr. Robert Pranke, the archdiocese’s director of vocations.
“Your presence has completely surpassed our expectations,” said Austin Ruse, vice-president of the organizing committee during the breakfast, which followed the prayer of the rosary and a celebration of the Eucharist.
“There is nothing more central in our nation than the idea of liberty,” said Cardinal Dulles during his keynote address. “Our anthems, our Constitution, our national monuments,” as well as the most famous phrases of the Founding Fathers refer to liberty and freedom, he explained.
“Yet, we speak more in terms of ‘freedom from’ that of ‘freedom for.’ That is to say, we understand liberty as the freedom to do what we feel to do, without the limitations of external constraints.”
The cardinal said many scholars today believe the 21st century will be the age of “moral freedom” – following and age of economic and political freedom – in which each individual will choose what is morally fit for him or her, without “external” or “imposed” norms.
Cardinal Dulles recalled that the Supreme Court’s decision upholding abortion was based on the idea that each individual can define who is a human and when a human life begins. “This is a fearsome principle,” he said, because it is the same one that inspired ideologies such as Hitler’s and Stalin’s.
“When each moral option is equal to another, inevitably society decays,” said the cardinal, pointing out that today’s alarming increase in the kind of crimes and social ills usually marks the fall of a civilization. “A moral vacuum is always filled by drugs, lust and violence,” he explained.
According to the cardinal, “the basic error is to describe freedom in negative terms, as freedom ‘from’ instead of as ‘for’. Positively described, freedom is the quality and the capacity to choose the best” and to be attracted to the highest values, explained the cardinal.
“The love of God of the angels is both necessary, but pre-eminently free,” he said as an example. “Jesus teaches us that truth makes us free, which means to be liberated from error and sin,” he said. “Freedom is not the opposite of love. It is the source of it.”
Cardinal Dulles concluded by saying, “We, Americans, have the responsibility to avoid the misinterpretation of freedom, to explain and make evident that freedom has to be related to responsibility and objective principles.
“There is hardly any concept as important for our national welfare in the contemporary world as this true meaning of freedom,” he stated.
Paris, France, Apr 29, 2004 (CNA) - The martyrs of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Africa were the focus of a one-day colloquium on the martyrs of the 20th century in Paris, April 24. The session was a joint initiative of the French branch of the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and the Catholic University of Lviv.
The colloquium also marked the 30th anniversary of ACN France’s magazine, “L'Eglise dans le Monde”.
Nearly 200 Church personalities, experts and journalists participated, including Bishop Gerard Daucourt of Nanterre and Bishop Michail Hrynchshyn, apostolic exarch for the Ukrainians.
The colloquium will be repeated at the Catholic University of Lviv May 7.
ACN France has highlighted recent martyrs in the Church in several of its publications. In 2002, it published a book in French on the topic, called “Christian Martyrs of the USSR”.
This year, a book called “Priez 15 jours avec les martyrs chrétiens du XXème siècle” (“15 Days of Prayer with the Martyrs of the 20th Century”) was published. Its author is the director of ACN France, Deacon Didier Rance.
Springfield, Ill., Apr 29, 2004 (CNA) - At the launch of Springfield’s annual diocesan campaign yesterday, Bishop Timothy McDonnell assured the faithful that funds raised would in no way be used to support those who “betrayed” the Church.
Bishop McDonnell launched the diocese’s 45th annual Catholic Appeal at a Catholic Youth Center in Pittsfield. The campaign goal is $3 million.
The diocese is in the midst of dealing with some allegations of sexual abuse, and the bishop recognized that, as a result, some Catholics might not feel moved to give this year. But he assured the faithful that, "None of these funds are or will be used, in any way, for those in the ranks of the Church who have betrayed our trust.
“I can understand the feeling,” he said, “but to withhold funds would be to impact innocent people."
The funds raised through the annual appeal help support 41 agencies, ministries and programs in the Diocese of Springfield. It also includes tuition assistance for Catholic schools.
Paris, France, Apr 29, 2004 (CNA) - France’s Justice Minister, Dominique Perben, said this week the “marriage” between two homosexuals, which Green party member of parliament and mayor of Begles, Noel Mamere has said he will officiate on June 5, “is against the law.”
“There is nothing ambiguous about this answer: that marriage will be purely and simply null,” Perben said an interview published by Le Figaro.
Mamere argued that French Civil Code, which was established 200 years ago, does not specify that spouses should be of the opposite sex. But Perben said “to argue sexual differences between spouses are not written into the civil code is a lie.”
Perben cited a Supreme Court decision and a phrase from the Civil Code itself which specifies that the person who officiates a marriage “must receive a declaration from each party that they wish to take each other as man and wife.”
Perben warned that Mamere, a well-known Green party presidential candidate in 2002, “could face sanctions” if he persists in his intention to officiate at the homosexual union, the first in the history of France. “The Attorney General’s office has not decided whether it will take action before or after the act,” Perben explained.
France allows for civil unions between gays, but not marriage.
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 29, 2004 (CNA) - As a part of the activities of the 2004 International Eucharistic Congress, the Archdiocese of Guadalajara will organize a “Eucharistic Expo” with different distributors of religious articles, sacred art and liturgical items, who will display their products to congress participants.
Registered vendors will be assigned stands which the thousands of participants from around the world will be able to visit. The Archdiocese is expecting 15,000 international participants.
On the other hand, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez explained that the delegates from other countries as well as representatives of the parishes of Guadalajara and the rest of Mexico will receive a pass that will allow them to attend the conferences at the Guadalajara congress.
Cardinal Sandoval added that Masses will take place in parishes around the city and that large events, such as the opening and closing Masses and the procession with the Blessed Sacrament will be open to the general public.
Nevertheless, he clarified that “due to the capacity of each place, it will impossible for everyone to be present, but will we try to make sure John Paul II’s motorcade through the streets of Guadalajara will be extensive so that as many as possible will be able to see him.”
Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Apr 29, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking from Spain, where he is participating in a conference in Santiago de Compostela, Arcbishsop Baltazar Porras, President of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference, said the international community is concerned about events in Venezuela.
“There is strong desire in the international community for the triumph of peace in Venezuela and unity for Venezuelans. Each person who I speak with shows a real concern for the situation the country currently faces,” said the Archbishop.
Archbishop Porras said “both the opposition and the government should cooperate in the process of consulting with the people in order to accelerate the electoral process in response to the political problems affecting the country.”
He also renewed his call to public institutions “to act within the boundaries of the law” and to stop trading insults, “which does nothing to provide solutions for the serious crisis that faces us.”