, Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - During the Angelus prayer held yesterday at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, Pope John Paul II once again recalled Pope Paul VI and his encyclical about the Church, adding that the Second Vatican Council marked a true renewal of the Church.
In his first encyclical ‘Ecclesiam suam’, Paul VI “declared his passionate love for the Church, which is called to reflect the glorious light of Christ’s face, and indicated several fundamental ‘ways of the Church’: conscience, renewal, dialogue,” said Pope John Paul.
Quoting the encyclical, the pontiff continued: “The Church is alive today more than ever! But when one considers, it seems that there is still a lot to do; the work begins today and never ends.”
“These words,” said the Pope, “reflect our actual reality and motivate all believers to carry on, in a conscious way, in the authentic ecclesial renewal, introduced by the Second Vatican Council.”
, Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - During the Angelus yesterday, Pope John Paul II sent his blessings to the upcoming Olympic games in Athens, and expressed his wishes that they will help bring peace to the world.
“In a few days, the Olympic Games will open in Athens. I send my cordial greetings to all official delegates, to the representatives of all nations, to the athletes and to all who will take part in the Olympics,” said the Pope, a skier and former outdoorsman in his youth.
“I wish as well to greet with special warmth, the City of Athens, remembering the hospitality with which the Greek people welcomed me on the occasion of my pilgrimage, which I made in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul,” he continued.
“It is my heartfelt wish that in this world – which is today troubled and sometimes overturned by its many forms of hatred and violence – this important sports event will constitute an occasion for a peaceful encounter and promote understanding and peace among peoples,” he said.
Recognizing the power of sport to promote peace, fraternity and understanding, the Pope created a new section last week within the Pontifical Council for the Laity, called Church and Sports.
Pope John Paul concluded by invoking the maternal protection of Mother Mary on the Olympics and on the entire sports world.
Rome, Italy, Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - During the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday at the Papal residence of Castelgandolfo, Pope John Paul II welcomed a group of Italian women and their children, who they had after rejecting abortion.
The young Italian women and their children shared a joyful moment with the Pontiff at the conclusion of the Sunday prayer.
The Pope also briefly addressed them and the pro-life organization they are a part of:
“I greet the group from the Parish of San Martino in Vigodarzere and several women who have rejected abortion, with their children, and accompanied by the leaders of the community ‘Opera Mater Dei’ of Castelgandolfo,” the Pope said.
“Opera Mater Dei” was founded in the 1950s by Maria Antonietta Bordini, a Catholic woman from the Diocesis of Albano—where Castelgandolfo is located—whose cause for beatification has been opened.
Wichita, Kan., Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Fifth Annual Midwest Catholic Family Conference drew about 3,500 people to a weekend of prayer, music and family-oriented activities to Wichita, Kansas.
The conference, which began Friday, included speakers and activities for all ages, with separate programs for kids, teens and adults.
Barbara Kelly and her late husband, Frank, started the conference in Wichita after seeing a similar Catholic Resource Center event in California.
The conference included among its speakers Dr. William Coulson, psychologist, international speaker and author; Father Andrew Apostoli,a prominent member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; Mary Vogrinc, Catholic evangelist; Jason Evert, a nationally recognized speaker and apologist with Catholic Answers; Father Bernard Gorges, founder of the successful "Totus Tuus" youth program; Jeff Cavins, apologist and Executive Director for Starboard Radio Network; Father Antoine Thomas, founder if a children's Eucharistic Adoration program known as "Children of Hope"; and Tim Staples, a former Baptist preacher converted to Catholicism.
This year's conference schedule included a concert and a live performance, bringing a new element of entertainment to the weekend, said Kevin Regan, conference coordinator.
The concert, given by Catholic artist John Michael Talbot on Friday, brought more than 300 non-conference attendees, which included non-Catholics, Regan said.
"It was a new thing, and it worked wonderfully. We definitely plan on pursuing other concerts or music" in the future, he told the "Wichita Eagle."
Washington D.C., Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - An official with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops commended the U.S. Department of Justice for filing an appeal last week of a federal court ruling, which ruled that access to a partial-birth abortion is a fundamental constitutional right.
In June, a federal judge in the Northern District of California ruled that the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is in violation of Roe v. Wade.
"To say that a partial-birth abortion is a fundamental constitutional right, as the federal judge in California did, makes a mockery of the Constitution," said Gail Quinn, executive director of the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
Quinn pointed out that the American Medical Association stated previously that partial-birth abortions are never medically necessary.
Washington D.C., Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - As a kid, Timothy Pfander probably never thought of becoming a priest. He grew up without a formal religion, and became a Lutheran in his adult years, before converting to Catholicism. This year, he was ordained for the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama.
Patrick Forsythe was over 60 years old when he was ordained for the same diocese this year. After 40 years in medicine, when most doctors start dreaming of retirement, he studied for the priesthood.
Fr. Pfander and Fr. Forsythe are only two of a number of priests, whose faith journeys and vocation stories are becoming more common in today’s U.S.Church.
That’s what a new report, issued by sociologist Dean R. Hoge of the Catholic University of America Life Cycle Institute, suggests. According to the Report on Survey of 2004 Priestly Ordinations, men ordained to the priesthood today are older, more educated and come from more varied cultural, religious and professional backgrounds than in years past.
“These men… reflect the richness of the Church in our country,” said Bishop Blase Cupich, interim chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Vocations. “They are faithful, dedicated and committed men.”
The report, based on 336 respondents from 126 dioceses and 32 religious orders, shows three significant trends among new priests since Hoge began his research in 1998.
Since 1998, the average age at ordination rose from 34.8 to 37. While the mean age for the ordinands is increasing (three percent were over 60), 49 percent were under 35, and 22 percent were under 30.
The level of education, prior to entering seminary, rose as well. In 1998, 30 percent had less than a bachelor’s degree; in 2004, that number was only 22 percent. The percentage of men who had a graduate degree before entering seminary rose from 13 to 28 percent.
In addition, the percentage of foreign-born men entering the priesthood in the U.S. rose from 24 to 31 percent – most of these are from Vietnam, Mexico, the Philippines and Poland.
Hoge noted that 12 percent of this year’s class was Hispanic, and increase from 1984, when another study found that seven percent were Hispanic. However, Hoge underlined, the figure is still lower than the percentage of Hispanics in the current U.S. Catholic population, estimated at 25 to 30 percent.
On the other hand, the 12 percent of new priests who are Asian or Pacific Islanders is higher than the estimated two to three percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. Catholic population.
The report also reveals that these new priests come from a variety of professional backgrounds. Twenty percent were educators; nine percent were in engineering and computer programming, and seven percent were in church ministry. Another seven percent were in the military, and four percent were in law or law enforcement. Still others were legislative assistants or trade union leaders and social activists.
Some priests grew up in other churches and converted to Catholicism as adults. Others belonged to a religious order before studying for the priesthood.
In addition, the majority of seminarians were involved in parish ministries – primarily as altar servers, lectors, and eucharistic ministers – before entering seminary.
Largest number of priests in decades
The largest numbers of ordinations in 2004 were in the archdioceses of Chicago and Newark, which each ordained 14 men. The Archdiocese of New York ordained 13.
Some smaller dioceses marked a significant increase in the number of ordinations. The Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, ordained five men, ranging in age from 29 to 54. The Diocese of Columbus, Ohio, ordained six, the largest group in 20 years. The Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, ordained seven, its largest number in 10 years.
Vatican City, Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - Just three weeks after a trip to Lourdes, France, Pope John Paul II will make a visit to Loreto, south of Ancona by the Adriatic Sea, Sept. 5. The visit comes three days before the Church’s feast day of the birth of Mary, Sept. 8.
Within the Basilica of Loreto, stands a tiny cottage, venerated as the house in Nazareth in which Mother Mary was born, where an angel visited Mary and she conceived of the Holy Spirit, and where the Holy Family lived.
An inscription outside the church states that the cottage was transferred miraculously from Palestine to Italy by angels. Almost 50 popes have honored the shrine, and an immense number of Vatican documents refer to it as the Holy House of Nazareth.
Many saints have venerated the shrine in their lifetimes, including: St. Charles Borromeo, St. Francis de Sales, St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Alphonsus Liguori.
The house was formally investigated in 1751 under Pope Benedict XIV. It was found that the Holy House does not rest, and has never rested, upon foundations sunk into the earth where it now stands, supporting the belief that it was transferred from another site. As well, the construction materials are allegedly chemically identical with materials commonly found in Nazareth.
The Holy House of Loreto has been one of the most famous shrines in Italy since the 15th century, and has been the scene of numerous miraculous cures.
Washington D.C., Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - The Jesuit magazine, America, will publish an article in its Aug. 16-23 issue, in which a pro-abortion politician says he will not let Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis "coerce" him into imposing the Church's teachings on U.S. society.
The weekly international magazine provided reporters with an advance copy of the article last week.
In his article, titled “My Conscience, My Vote”, U.S. Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) says Archbishop Burke “attempted to use his interpretations of theology to coerce me into taking specific positions on matters that I believe are matters of constitutional law."
This is the politician’s first public response to Archbishop Burke since last year, when it became public that the archbishop, then bishop for the Diocese of La Crosse, sent letters to three Wisconsin politicians. The letters warned the Catholic politicians that their support of "anti-life" legislation was causing grave scandal and putting their spiritual well being at risk.
Obey cites the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican's doctrinal note on the political participation of Catholics to back his position and describes himself as a Midwestern populist progressive with Catholic values.
In the article, Obey admits to his mixed voting record on abortion, saying: “I have voted well over 60 times for limitations of one kind or another on a woman's right to choose abortion."
He says that while he “detests” abortion and agrees with Catholic teaching that it is morally wrong, he refuses “to force my views into laws that, if adopted, would be unenforceable and would tear this society apart."
Obey also admits that he has been corresponding privately with the bishop for about a year. He says that Archbishop Burke expressed concern about Obey's votes on several abortion-related issues, but that Obey's support of stem-cell research and his unwillingness to limit access to abortions in military hospitals were especially troubling to the bishop.
Abuja, Nigeria, Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - Speaking with the Polish Catholic news agency KAI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that the “new springtime” of the Church is a reality, but that it will not “necessarily” be significant in terms of numbers.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told KAI that there are groups of the new generations in the Church today which represent “a new springtime of the Church that renews the world.” The Cardinal explained that “we should not think that in the near future Christianity will become a movement of the masses again, going back to a situation like Medieval times.”
“At least we cannot expect that in the current conditions,” he added.
Nevertheless, recalling a phrase used by Lenin of Communist Russia, Ratzinger said that “the powerful minorities, which have something to say and something to bring to society, will determine the future.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 9, 2004 (CNA) - During the celebration of the feast of St. Cajetan, venerated in Argentina as the patron of food and work, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, called on Argentineans to not lose hope in the face of injustice and poverty.
Thousands of faithful stood in line on the eve of the feast of St. Cajetan to enter the shrine at midnight, to pray for work and to give thanks for bread on the table.
For the last 20 years, the first person to enter the temple has been Delia Noris Lencina who, draped in an Argentinean flag, crawls on her knees to the image of St. Cajetan.
“There is so much injustice, suffering and violence. And yet the Lord puts bread on our table and He gives us renewed strength to carry on and He sends us out again to our jobs, our families and our country: we still have far to go. There is so much to be done!” exclaimed Cardinal Bergoglio during the Mass on Saturday.
The Cardinal encouraged young people with a phrase taken from Pope John Paul II’s book: “Get up! Let’s go! Let us go confident in Christ.”
He also encouraged Argentineans to “partake of the Bread which gives us the strength to work for our families, which restores our dignity and our desire to continue struggling and to fulfill our mission.”
“Get up and eat of this Bread which we share as companions on the journey and which makes us feel as brothers and sisters, the people of our country, the people of God,” he concluded.