Vatican City, Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter "Mane Nobiscum Domine" ("Stay with us, Lord"), on the occasion of the October 2004-October 2005 Year of the Eucharist, was presented today in the Holy See Press Office by Cardinal Francis Arinze, who said that the "the underlying theme of the Apostolic Letter is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus."
The Letter, which consists of an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion, begins with the words "'Stay with us, for it is towards evening,'" said Cardinal Arinze. "This was the heartfelt invitation that the two disciples, walking towards Emmaus the very evening of the Resurrection, issued to the Wayfarer who had joined them along the road. Filled with sad thoughts, they could not imagine that that stranger was their very Master, by now risen."
"The Year of the Eucharist," he added, "will see the Church especially committed to living the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus continues to walk with us and to introduce us to the mysteries of God, opening us up to the deep meaning of Sacred Scriptures. At the summit of this encounter, Jesus breaks for us 'the bread of life'."
In Chapter One, "In the Wake of Vatican II and the Jubilee," said the prefect, "the Holy Father underlines that the Year of the Eucharist strongly expresses the focus on Jesus Christ and the contemplation of His face that is marking the pastoral path of the Church, especially since Vatican Council II. In Christ, the Word made flesh, not only is the mystery of God revealed, but the mystery of man is also revealed to us." The Pope writes, in fact: "Christ is at the center not only of the history of the Church, but also the history of mankind."
Chapter Two is entitled "The Eucharist, Mystery of Light." The cardinal pointed out that "Jesus spoke of Himself as 'the light of the world'. In the obscurity of faith, the Eucharist becomes for the believer a mystery of light because it introduces him to the depth of the divine mystery."
"The Eucharistic celebration nourishes the disciple of Christ with two 'meals'," he continued, "that of the Word of God and that of the Bread of Life. When minds are enlightened and hearts burn, signs speak. In the Eucharistic signs the mystery is in some way open to the eyes of the believer. The two disciples of Emmaus recognize Jesus as they break bread."
Cardinal Arinze explained Chapter Three, "'The Eucharist, Source and Sign of Communion,'" pointing out that "the disciples of Emmaus prayed the Lord to remain 'with' them. Jesus did even more. He gave Himself in the Eucharist to remain 'in' them: 'Remain in Me and I in you'.
"Eucharistic communion promotes unity among those who receive communion," he said. "The Eucharist also shows ecclesial communion and calls the members of the Church to share their spiritual and material goods. ... During this Year of the Eucharist special importance must be given to Sunday Masses in parishes."
In the final chapter, "Eucharist, Principle and Project of Mission," says the prefect, "the two disciples of Emmaus, having recognized the Lord, 'left without delay' to communicate the good news. The encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist drives every Christian to give witness, to evangelize the Church. We must thank the Lord and never hesitate to show our faith in public. The Eucharist compels us to show solidarity towards others, becoming promoters of harmony, peace, and, especially, of sharing with the needy."
In the Conclusion of the letter "the Holy Father prays that this Year of the Eucharist will be for everyone a precious occasion for a renewed awareness of the incomparable treasure that Christ has entrusted to His Church," said the Cardinal. "The Holy Father does not ask for anything extraordinary, but rather that all initiatives be marked by great spiritual intensity. Priority must be given to Sunday Masses and to Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass."
Vatican City, Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - Bishops from the province of New York were received by Pope John Paul II this morning on the completion of their 'ad limina' visit, who spoke to them of the bishop's "great responsibility of governing the faithful," saying that their office is one of service, not power.
The Pope recalled the words spoken during Episcopal ordination to underscore his point: "The title of Bishop is one of service, not of honor, and therefore a Bishop should strive to benefit others rather than to lord it over them. Such is the precept of the Master."
"Your immediate function as pastors," he noted, "cannot be isolated from your wider responsibility for the universal Church; as members of the College of Bishops, 'cum et sub Petro', you in fact share in solicitude for the entire people of God."
Governing "is more than mere 'administration' or the exercise of organizational skills; it is a means of building up the Kingdom of God," leading by example, and evangelizing the faithful so that they in turn can evangelize, said the Pope.
He noted "the deep affection of American Catholics for the Successor of Peter, as well as their sensitivity to the needs of the Holy See and the Universal Church. ... These devoted sentiments are a fruit of the hierarchical communion linking all members of the episcopal College with the Pope" and they "constitute a great spiritual resource for the renewal of the Church in the United States."
The spoke of episcopal collegiality, specifically the activity of episcopal conferences saying that "Bishops today can only fulfill their office fruitfully when they work harmoniously and closely with their fellow Bishops. ... I pray that you will work diligently with one another, in that spirit of cooperation and unanimity of heart that should always characterize the community of disciples."
Quoting St. Paul, he said: ""I beg you, Brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree in what you say. Let there be no factions; rather, be united in mind and judgment." There must be "unity of praxis" with "underlying consensus," attained "through frank dialogue and informed discussions, based on sound theological and pastoral principles."
The Holy Father expressed his appreciation "for all that you have already accomplished together, particularly in your statements on life issues, education and peace." He invited them to "turn your attention to the many other pressing issues that directly affect the Church's mission and her spiritual integrity, for example the decline in Mass attendance and in recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the threats to marriage and the religious needs of immigrants. Let your voice be clearly heard," exhorted the Pope.
Denver, Colo., Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - The political climate in the United States has silenced the voice of religious believers, and it is high time that they reclaim it in the current public debates, said Archbishop Charles Chaput.
Two popular phrases in American political circles - "don't impose your beliefs on society" and "the separation of Church and state" - are "sound bites designed to shut down serious thought," said the archbishop of Denver Oct 6. He spoke on the topic at the Religious Institutions Law Day Conference in Colorado Springs.
These are "usually foolish, frequently dishonest and ultimately dangerous arguments that confuse our national memory and our national identity," he said in his talk, titled "Divided Hearts: Americans, Religion and National Policy."
"People who support permissive abortion laws have no qualms at all about imposing their views on society," he said. "That's their right. They're acting on their beliefs. But in a democracy, everybody - including religious believers - gets to play that game," he told conference participants.
"In fact, to be healthy, the political process demands it. So for Catholics to be silent in an election year about easy abortion laws and pro-abortion campaign agendas out of some misguided sense of good manners is actually a form of theft from our national conversation," he continued.
"For religious believers not to advance their convictions about public morality in public debate is not an example of tolerance. It's an example of cowardice," he stated.
The archbishop commented on how the phrase "separation of Church and state" has been interpreted to mean that "religious believers should shut up about legislative issues, the appointment of judges and public policy.
"What the Founders intended [with this phrase] was to prevent the establishment of an official state Church," he explained. "They never intended, and never wrote into the Constitution, any prohibition against religious believers, religious leaders or religious communities taking an active part in public issues and the political process.
"When the 'separation of Church and state' begins to mean separating religious faith from public life, we begin to separate government from morality and citizens from their consciences. And that leads to politics without character, which is now a national disease," he said.
The archbishop reflected on the hostility directed toward religion in the U.S. over the last 50 years. He speculated that it is the result of a "knowledge economy," where "religion looks stupid," and traced this attitude back to the days of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
"We are more than simply 'one nation under God'," the archbishop concluded. "In the light of our history and the founding ideas and documents that shaped us as a people - we are one nation because of our belief in God."
As a result, the U.S. has a religious heritage that must be protected for future generations, said the archbishop, adding that there is no more loyal form of citizenship than this.
Read the Archbishop's remarks at: http://www.archden.org/images/divided_hearts_final.pdf
Washington D.C., Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - Dagoberto Valdes Hernandez, a Catholic intellectual and Cuban dissident, was named the recipient of the 2004 Jan Karski Award for Valor and Compassion.
Valdes Hernandez heads the Center for Civic and Religious Formation of the Diocese of Pinar del Rio in Cuba. He is also the director of the 10-year-old Catholic cultural magazine "Vitral" (www.vitral.org).
Selected from an outstanding field of nominees, Valdes Hernandez will receive the award at a luncheon Nov. 17 at the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC. The award includes $10,000 and a statuette.
The Jan Karski Award for Valor and Compassion is chaired by Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick with Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, honorary chair.
The international award was created by the friends and associates of Dr. Jan Karski, who is considered to be one of the most heroic Polish Catholic heroes of World War II.
Vatican City, Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - Pope John Paul II issued a message yesterday to participants in the 44th Social Week of Italian Catholics, stressing the importance of ethical political action informed by truth - "the best antidote against ideological fanaticism."
The meeting, whose theme is "Democracy: New Scenarios, New Powers," is taking place from October 7 to 10 in Bologna. More than one thousand delegates from all over Italy who represent dioceses, associations and movements, are participating in the gathering.
The Holy Father highlights the "risks and threats, for authentic democracy, that come from certain philosophical currents, anthropological visions or political ideas with ideological prejudices."
"For example," he says, "the tendency to think that relativism is a way of thinking that responds better to democratic political forms still exists, as if knowing the truth and adhering to it were an impediment. In reality," he continued, "often people are afraid of the truth because they do not know it. The truth as Christ revealed it is a guarantee of genuine and complete liberty for the person."
John Paul II writes that "if political action is not addressed with a higher ethical understanding, illuminated by an integral vision of man and society, it will end up being subject to inadequate ends, if not illicit ones. The truth, however, is the best antidote against ideological fanaticism in the scientific, political and even religious context."
"As experts in social disciplines and as Christians, you are called ... to indicate new paths and new solutions in order to address the urgent problems of the modern world in the best way."
"Reflection on the democratic system cannot be limited to only considering political structures and institutions," said the Pope, "it must also consider the problems posed by developments in science and technology, in the economy and in finance, as well as new laws for governing international organizations, the questions that come from progressive and rapid development in communications, in order to create a model of complete and authentic democracy."
The Pope insists that Catholics must commit themselves "to making civil society lively and dynamic by promoting the family, associations, volunteer work, etc, and by opposing improper limits and conditions imposed by the economic or political order; also they must consider once again the importance of dedication to public and institutional roles, in environments where significant collective decisions are made, and in politics, in the highest sense of the word, as desired by so many today."
"We cannot forget," concludes the Holy Father, "that knowing and putting into practice the social doctrine of the Church are characteristics of the vocation of lay people, and therefore, also their participation in the political life of the country, according to the methods and instruments of democratic systems. Some are also called to develop a special service to the civil community, directly assuming institutional role in politics."
Vatican City, Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace will publish a "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church" on October 25, the opening day of its annual plenary session, announced Cardinal Renato Martino today in an address to participants of the 44th Social Week of Italian Catholics in Bologna.
The cardinal referred to the theme of the Social Week, "Democracy: New Scenarios, New Powers," and underscored how "the vision of the human person as treated in the social Magisterium of the Church has, among other things, the merit of indicating the limits of that individualistic concept which has been the matrix of several of the most serious degenerations of the democratic ideal."
"Safeguarding the values of democracy occurs through caring for the weakest in every corner of the earth and by supporting policies attentive to the rights not just of single persons but also of peoples, respected in their history, their traditions, their customs," said Cardinal Martino.
Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - Presiding at a Mass for the Jubilee Year of the Diocesan seminary, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary, Bishop Mario Moronta of San Cristobal, Venezuela, said seminarians should prepare themselves to be "guiding lights" for the men and women of today.
"One of the most important tasks of the Church's mission is that of the formation of priests," he said during his homily, and he underscored the desire of the Church in his diocese to foster more vocations to priesthood "in the service of God's people, our local Church and sister Churches."
Bishop Moronta said the Jubilee Year would emphasize three key ideas regarding seminary formation.
First, "the objective of the seminary is the formation of young seminarians so that they learn to conform themselves to Christ, Priest and Good Shepherd. Studies, human and spiritual formation, as well as pastoral formation, contribute to achieving this objective."
Second, "The seminary should be a living testimony of communion. A communion enriched by the grace of God, the communion of its members with themselves, their bishop and with the People of God and the universal Church."
Third, the priest should be "a servant capable of giving himself totally and completely to others for their salvation. The evangelical councils of poverty, chastity and obedience, in a priest, become like a guiding light for men and women, to whom he dedicates his life."
"Our seminary," Bishop Moronta concluded, "should foster the personal and communal experience of the values of the kingdom: poverty of spirit, purity of heart, fearlessness in the face of persecution for the sake of justice, meekness and humility of heart, being peacemakers."
Lima, Peru, Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Lima, Peru, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, has delivered a special message to the faithful this week, as Catholics mark the beginning of the month of October, traditionally dedicated to the devotion of Our Lord of the Miracles.
According to the Cardinal, the month of October, know as "Lima's Lent," "traditionally provides us the opportunity to contemplate the merciful gift of the Our Lord of the Miracles to the Church in Lima."
The statue of the Crucified Christ, which is carried in procession throughout the month, reminds us of the story of salvation, "the amazing story of reconciliation: that by which God, who is Father, reconciles the world to Himself through the blood and the cross of His Son made man," recalled the Cardinal, quoting John Paul II.
Cardinal Cipriani reminded the faithful of the different means of reconciling oneself with the Lord: "Faithful and loving attentiveness to the Word of God, personal and communal prayer, and above all, the sacraments, true signs and instruments of reconciliation, especially the Sacrament of Penance."
The Cardinal underscored "the need to personally approach this Sacrament of mercy and forgiveness well-prepared," and he exhorted priests "to generously attend to the faithful that wish to confess."
Cardinal Cipriani mentioned that "nobody, on their own, can obtain perfect contrition. Nevertheless, by approaching the Sacrament with the desire to ask for forgiveness, one can, with the help of the grace of God received in the Sacrament, perfect one's authentic repentance and purpose of amendment."
The Cardinal exhorted priests in his archdiocese to make Confession generously available to the faithful, "using every means possible" so that as many people as possible can receive "the grace which has been given us through Penance for the reconciliation of each soul."
"May Our Lord of the Miracles bless this ministry which you offer the Church, and may Our Lady of the Evangelization help you with her maternal protection in this priestly task," he concluded.
, Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - Several pro-life groups that monitor UN activities are alerting Latin Americans to urge their governments to support an international convention proposed by Costa Rica that would prohibit all forms of human cloning.
Between October 21 and 22, the UN will debate the Costa Rican proposal, which currently has the support of the United States, Italy and other countries.
The only Latin American nations that have signed on as cosponsors of the proposal are Chile, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic. Pro-life groups are asking citizens whose countries are on the list to express their thanks and support to their governments. But "if your country is not on the list of cosponsors, try to get it to support and above all to vote in favor of this resolution."
The international convention proposed by Costa Rica recognizes "the rapid evolution of biological science and the ethical questions that some of its applications raise with respect to the dignity of the human race, human rights and the fundamental rights of the person."
It also argues that "human cloning, for whatever purpose, is unethical, morally reprehensible and incompatible with the respect due the human person and cannot be justified or accepted."
The proposal calls for the Special Committee of the UN "to meet again at a date to be determined in 2005 in order to urgently prepare the working text for an international convention against human cloning" that would prohibit "all research, experimentation, development or application in its territories or in areas under its jurisdiction or control, of any technique designed for human cloning."
It also calls for states to "adopt the necessary measures to prohibit genetic engineering techniques that could have adverse consequences for respect for human dignity" and to "redirect funds that could be used for human cloning technology to the fight against the urgent problems that are affecting the developing countries throughout the world, such as hunger, desertification, infant mortality and disease."
Baghdad, Iraq, Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - The EFE News Agency reported this week that persecution against Christians has resurfaced in post-war Iraq and that more believers "feel obliged to flee from the attacks and assaults to which they are being submitted."
EFE reporter Jose Seage reports that "the situation for the faithful of the Assyrian Chaldean Church, the Assyrian Church, and the Syrian or Armenian Catholic Church is not very promising."
A young female identified as Liza who belongs to the Chaldean minority of Aman told EFE that "the best we have been able to do is leave. We do not want to carry on with our lives with the fear that we will be killed because of our beliefs. We are not well-liked."
According to the article, "during the regime of Saddam things were not as utopian as would seem. Freedom of worship existed, but not freedom of religion, and in practice a Muslim was never allowed to convert to Christianity, even though he desired to do so."
Nevertheless now the situation is critical and "Muslim extremism makes peaceful coexistence impossible."
Last August 1 "was without a doubt one of the worst days for Iraqi Christians. Several car bombs exploded at the same time in five different churches in Baghdad and Mosul. That day 15 people lost their lives in the attacks carried out by Muslim extremists. Since then, attacks are occurring on a daily basis in Iraq."
Christian-owned businesses "are the constant object of radical Sunni and Shiite groups who take advantage of little nighttime security in order to try to set them on fire.
, Oct 8, 2004 (CNA) - A media watchdog group says Howard Stern's move from broadcast radio to Sirus Satellite Radio in 2006 is not an acceptable compromise.
The popular morning show host has been the target of several concerned citizens groups over the years, which oppose the obscene and crass content of his show.
"Because of lax FCC enforcement of the broadcast indecency law, Howard Stern has been permitted for years to befoul the public airwaves with a mean-spirited form of filthy, indecent and lewd burlesque," says Morality in Media president Robert Peters.
"Now that the FCC finally appears to be moving in the direction of fulfilling its statutory responsibility to enforce the broadcast indecency law, Stern announces that he will move to a satellite radio medium that is virtually identical to broadcast radio," he continues.
The only difference, Peters explains, is that satellite radio listeners will have to pay a monthly fee instead of paying through the purchase of products and services that are advertised in broadcasting.
While there may be a legal distinction between the two mediums, says Peters, there is no practical difference.
Peters also criticizes Sirius for describing its programming as suitable for a general audience and for relinquishing responsibility for content that its listeners or anyone else may find inappropriate.
"If the company that provides the programming and reaps big bucks in profits from it is not responsible, who is?" asks Peters.
Morality in Media is a New York-based, nonprofit organization that is working to curb traffic in illegal obscenity and to uphold standards of decency in the media.