Vatican City, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - This morning at the Vatican, the Pope received the president, management, drivers and technicians of the Italian car manufacturer Ferrari, whom he congratulated on their victory in the recent world championships.
Recalling that they had come to present him with a model of a Formula One racing car, the Holy Father said: "Your presence gives me the opportunity to underline how important sport is, also for modern society.”
The Church considers sporting activity, practiced in full respect for the rules, to be a worthwhile educational instrument, especially for the young generations."
John Paul II highlighted the "enthusiasm deriving from community spirit" that was chiefly responsible for Ferrari's "notable sporting and industrial achievements."
He urged them to "continue to cultivate this approach to your work, and make constant growth in solidarity one of your principal objectives. In this way you will disseminate the values of sport and, at the same time, contribute to building a more just and united society."
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Eucharist was the focus of the Holy Father's talk yesterday when he received members of the Public Security Inspectorate, whom he also thanked for the service they perform for the Vatican.
He wished them a Happy New Year, saying he hoped it would be "a serene year, especially rich in heavenly blessings and consolations."
"For Christians, the greatest gift is certainly Jesus, our salvation. In the Eucharist He wished to remain with us: He became our 'viaticum', that is, our spiritual nourishment along the path of life. He sustains us in trials and difficulties: He makes us firm in hope and in everyday commitments.”
Over the course of this year," the Pope added, "dedicated in a special way to the Eucharist, all faithful are called to participate with ever greater fervor in the celebration of Holy Mass, especially on Sunday. May Sunday Mass also be for you, dear ones, a privileged occasion for a personal encounter with Christ!"
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican recently announced the various events at which the Holy Father will be present during the following months.
Below is the calendar of liturgical celebrations due to be presided over by the Holy Father during the months of February and March.
Wednesday 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Day of Consecrated Life. In the Vatican Basilica at 6:00 p.m., blessing of candles, procession and Mass with members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
Wednesday 9, Ash Wednesday. In St. Peter's Basilica at 10:30 a.m., celebration of the Word, blessing and imposition of the ashes.
Friday 11, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, World Day of the Sick. In the Vatican Basilica at 4:30 p.m., Mass for the "Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi" and UNITALSI, presided over by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. At the end of the celebration, the Holy Father will greet and bless the sick present in the basilica.
Sunday 13, First Sunday of Lent. Beginning of the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia at 6 p.m. in the Apostolic Palace's "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel.
Saturday 19, In St. Peter's at 10:00 a.m., Mass and adoration of the Eucharist in conclusion of Roman Curia's spiritual exercises.
Thursday 17, At 6:00 p.m., adoration of the Eucharist for the occasion of the Holy Father's meeting with young people of the diocese of Rome.
Sunday, 20, Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, World Youth Day. At 10:00 a.m., blessing of palms, procession and Mass.
Thursday, 24, Holy Thursday. In the Vatican Basilica at 9:30 a.m., Chrism Mass. In St. Peter's Basilica at 5:30 p.m., the beginning of the Easter Triduum with the Mass of the Last Supper.
Friday, 25, Good Friday. In the Vatican Basilica at 5:00 p.m., celebration of the Lord's Passion. Way of the Cross in the Coliseum at 9:15 p.m.
Saturday, 26, Holy Saturday. Easter vigil at 7 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica.
Sunday, 27, Easter Sunday. In St. Peter's Square at 10:30 a.m., Mass and "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - The World Day of Migrants and Refugees and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity were at the center of the Pope's reflections today before he prayed the noon Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below his study window.
Noting that today the entire Church marks the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the Holy Father said that in his Message, "I wished to underline the importance of integration among peoples which calls for a just balance between affirming one's own identity and recognizing that of others.”
I send cordial greetings to all migrants and I hope that, through dialogue, friendliness and understanding among peoples will grow."
He then turned to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins on January 18 and has been preceded by a Day for Jewish-Christian Dialogue. The theme this year is "Christ, the One Foundation of the Church."
"I invite every community," said John Paul II, "to make meaningful gestures of encounter and ecumenical dialogue and to implore God for the gift of full unity of all disciples of Christ.”
Let us entrust this important ecclesial event to Mary. May her maternal intercession help Christians to form one heart and one soul and all men to grow in solidarity in order to build a world of peace."
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of Kansas City in Kansas, presented by Archbishop James Patrick Keleher.
The act is in accordance with Canon 401, paragraph 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, coadjutor of the same archdiocese.
, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - Catholic League president William Donohue says critics of Pope Pius XII are looking “rather foolish” after the truth about a document, slamming the wartime Pope, was revealed late last week.
The New York Times ran a story Jan. 9, citing an Italian newspaper, which claimed to have uncovered a 1946 letter implicating Pope Pius XII in a scheme not to return Jewish children, who were cared for by Catholics during the Holocaust, to their parents after the war.
The newspaper article claimed that Pope Pius XII approved the unsigned letter.
However, Donohue pointed out in a press release that Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale discovered that the letter never originated at the Holy See. In fact, he found that the text bears the seal of the apostolic nunciature of France.
Most importantly, the letter says the exact opposite of what was originally claimed.
Tornielli discovered that the letter states that Jewish children, who were cared for by Catholic families or institutions during the war, should be returned to their original families. In the event that Jewish organizations, and not families, sought custody of the children it was to be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Donohue added that Zenit, the international news agency that covers the Vatican, “learned that the origins of the document extend to a letter written in 1946 by Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Jerusalem, to Pius XII.
“In it, (Rabbi) Herzog thanked the Pope for helping Jews during the Holocaust and for sheltering ‘thousands of children who were hidden in Catholic institutions.’ He then requested that these children be returned to their original families,” said Donohue.
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler had ordered one of his generals to kidnap Pope Pius XII during World War II, reported Italy's leading Catholic newspaper, Avvenire.
The full-page report, cited in a Reuters article, said the information emerged recently in new documents presented to the Vatican.
Hitler, who wanted to abolish Christianity, feared the Pope would obstruct his plans for global domination, Avvenire stated.
In 1944, during the German occupation of Rome, Hitler ordered senior occupation officer SS General Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff to kidnap the Pope. Wolff instead arranged for a secret meeting with the Pope, assured the pontiff that he had no intention of carrying out the orders, and warned him to be careful, stated the report.
As a test, Pope Pius asked Wolff to arrange the release of two Italian resistance leaders who had been condemned to death, and Wolff did, reported the news sources.
Avvenire said the details of the plot are in a testimony Wolff gave to Church officials before he died in Germany.
These accounts counter claims that Pope Pius XII was pro-German and ignored the Holocaust.
Denver, Colo., Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - Jason Wunsch didn’t mind the 12-hour bus trip through a snow storm from Bozeman, Montana to Denver, Colorado. He knew it would be worth it.
Wunsch is a missionary with FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and made the trip with 55 students from Montana State University to be part if FOCUS’ seventh annual Student Leadership Conference.
“For us, the bus ride is one of the best parts,” Wunsch said, “the ride is a way to understand what we’ve experienced and use each other as soundboards.”
“The excitement of others tends to be contagious.”
The FOCUS Conference, themed “Once For All,” held this weekend at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in downtown Denver, drew nearly 1500 students from around the country.
They came from as far away as Florida, Massachusetts, Canada and even Mexico to hear powerful speakers, experience mass and adoration with bishops and priests from around the nation and prepare themselves to go back to their campuses and try to change the culture.
“People think the Church is dying”, said Curtis Martin, who founded the FOCUS ministry over seven years ago and has watched its growth explode in recent years. “But it’s bearing fruit”, he told CNA. “This is just one more evidence of how good God is.”
Dr. Jay Reyes agrees. “Look at what one human being who follows Christ can do”, he said referring to Martin’s vision for FOCUS that took root seven years ago, and led Reyes to uproot his family from Virginia and move to Colorado to work in the Ministry’s Greeley headquarters.
Martin challenged the crowd saying that giving their lives to God will cost them everything. But its worth was in the fact that “He loves you in a way that’s absolutely breathtaking.”
Changing College Culture
FOCUS is currently present on 25 campuses around the country with nearly 90 full-time missionaries who work with college students to train them to teach the faith to their peers. They lead Bible Studies, mentor students and outreach to a generation that are said to be abandoning their faiths faster than any other before them.
FOCUS however, is helping to inspire students with the truths of the gospel. As FOCUS staff member Annie Mowbray puts it, “we help to translate the Church, which so many misunderstand or have been hurt by, and help them see the beauty of it. Students are falling in love with the Catholic Church.”
Keegan O’Rourke is a senior at the University of Colorado in Boulder, a school that has received tremendous heat from critics and media recently. Voted last year as the number one party school in the nation and still reeling from recent alcohol related deaths, CU is struggling with its bad image.
For CU FOCUS students however, it’s a different story.
“It’s a blessing to see how many people are saying this is not what we want”, said O’Rourke who won the FOCUS male student of the year award at the conference and enjoyed the spotlight with a fellow CU senior, Katherine Witt, who won runner-up for female student of the year.
“It’s incredible to see our student leaders stepping up despite the bad image we’ve gotten.”
Yellow t-shirt laden CU students could be spotted all weekend organizing events, pointing people in the right direction and taking up many leadership roles.
“We have the power and ability to create a different image and lifestyle”, O’Rourke said.
Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo North Dakota was a priest in the Archdiocese of Denver at FOCUS’ genesis.
He said in his homily at the closing mass on Sunday that, “little in my imagination did I dream I’d stand before so many young people whose hearts have been set on fire by that vision seven years ago.”
“God has placed you at this time in history in 2005 for a specific purpose”, he said. “He has called you by name.”
Before the 1500 students packed up their busses and boarded their planes to travel back to their respective campuses and everyday lives, Dr. Reyes left them with a challenge.
“On Monday, you might wake up and think it was all a dream. Don’t forget.”
“You have met the Living God this weekend”, he reiterated passionately, “Don’t forget!”
, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - Priests for Life called for a full-scale investigation of abortion clinics across the United States after a woman was hospitalized Jan. 13, due to complications resulting from an abortion. The woman was a patient at Women's Health Care Services, a late-term abortion clinic run by George Tiller in Wichita, Kan.
"The more you look, the more you find," said Fr. Frank Pavone in a press release issued Jan. 14, referring to the increasing number of injuries and deaths at legal abortion clinics across the United States.
More than 10 years ago, the national director of the pro-life organization had assisted in gathering information for the book “Lime 5,” which documents how unsafe the nation's legal abortion clinics are.
“What is happening in abortion clinics is far more than the ordinary incidence of complications that result from any kind of surgery," he stated.
Priests for Life urges women who have been hurt by abortion to seek assistance through the Silent No More Awareness Campaign at www.silentnomoreawareness.org.
Miami, Fla., Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are screening priests who provide ministry to cruise lines in an effort to eliminate unsuitable clergy, such as those who were suspended for sexual abuse or those who have left the priesthood, reported the Associated Press.
Formerly, priests on cruise ships were not regulated by the USCCB, and cruise lines were not doing background checks.
The conference has approved more than 650 priests to work on cruise lines since the program began a year ago, reported the AP. The priests must have their local bishop’s approval and undergo a yearly review.
Two cruise lines – Celebrity and Holland America – currently have priests approved by a Catholic ministry called Apostleship of the Sea.
However, the report stated that other cruise lines hire clergy privately or use agencies, such as Rent-A-Priest, which provides former and now-married priests, who are no longer authorized to celebrate Mass.
The USCCB hopes all cruise lines will adopt a better screening process for clergy.
Konigstein, Germany, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Carlos Baladrón of Guantanamo-Barcoa, Cuba, announced last week that 34 young people from Cuba representing all of the dioceses of the country are preparing to travel to Cologne in August to participate in World Youth Day.
Visiting the international headquarters of Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Baladrón stated that “there has always been real participation on the part of Cuba” in events like World Youth Day.
This year, 34 Cubans, at least 2 young people from each of the country’s 11 dioceses, and 4 bishops, will attend the event. “Our young people desire to open themselves to Christ,” the bishop maintained.
According to the bishop, the formation of young lay leaders is a priority for the Church and he pointed out that “today, many people are rediscovering their Catholic roots” and that there is a “high level of participation by the youth in the life of the Church.”
Bishop Baladrón recalled the impact of the Pope’s visit to Cuba in 1998, which helped Catholics in Cuba “to be witnesses of the faith in their daily lives, at work, at the university, in the family.”
Referring to social problems such as the breakdown of the family, abortion and prostitution, the bishop said that those problems in Cuba can only be addressed through “the transformation of hearts.”
Bishop Baladrón thanked Aid to the Church in Need and its benefactors for the help it has provided the Church in Cuba, and he asked that assistance for the “difficult, but hopeful work of the Church” in his country be continued.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - As the country of Argentina is currently preparing a sexual education plan together with the Society for Gay and Lesbian Integration of Argentina, the Director of the Press Office for the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Father Guillermo Marcó, recalled that the sexual education should never become genital education, and its content should not be in conflict with what the family believes.
In an article entitled, “God Made Them Male and Female,” Father Marcó maintains, “The Church, from the beginning, has taught sexual education,” with the understanding that, as the Catechism points out, “sexuality encompasses all aspects of the human person, in both body and soul.”
Father Marcó explained that young people should be given sexual education both at home and at school. However, he clarified that, “It should not be turned into genital education, whose contents ignore what parents think about the matter.”
“Education in chastity helps one to control the passions, thus saving energy and teaching one to responsibly use it in marriage.”
Citing the teachings of the Catechism, the article indicates that young people should be educated “in acknowledgement of their own masculine and feminine sexuality,” thus living the complementarity of the sexes, “in order to form a family and educate their children.” Lastly, Father Marcó exhorted parents not to leave the education of their children in the hands of those who think differently from them.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God in Brazil has gathered more than 400,000 signatures in hopes of forming its own political party.
According to the Sao Paulo daily “Folha,” the sect, which was founded by Edir Macedo, is collecting signatures at the entrances of its buildings throughout the country.
As one of the largest sects in Brazil, the Universal Church has been seeking out ways to have more political influence, reports Folha, especially by supporting political candidates from the Liberal Party.
However, some analyists maintain that in recent years, while the Liberal Party’s base has expanded, Protestant churches have not had as much influence. This is leading some denominations to create new political parties.
In Brazil, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God operates a television network, published a newspaper and owns various radio stations.
The announcement comes just days after an official study revealed that the number of Catholics in Brazil has decreased. While in 1990 84% of the country was Catholic, in 2000 this figure dropped to 74%. During this same period Protestants grew by 9% to 15% of the population.
CNA STAFF, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - A CNA story, posted Jan. 12, about Mel Gibson’s 2004 visit to surviving Fatima visionary Sr. Lucia at a Carmelite monastery in Coimbra, Portugal, stated that news of the visit was first published in the Fatima Bulletin. This is incorrect. The original news story was written and posted independently by Mr. Richard Salbato. CNA apologizes for the error.
Mosul, Iraq, Jan 17, 2005 (CNA) - Today the Vatican released a statement deploring the kidnapping of a Catholic Archbishop in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
The statement, which asks for the immediate release of Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa reads, “The Holy See deplores in the firmest way such a terrorist act.”
According to the Associated Press, the 66 year-old Archbishop was kidnapped while walking in front of his church in the neighborhood of Muhandeseen in eastern Mosul.
Reportedly, the Archbishop was going to visit parishioners when gunmen in two cars kidnapped him shortly after 5pm local time.
Casmoussa is the spiritual shepherd of an estimated 150,000 Catholics living in Iraq—approximately 3 per cent of the country’s 26 million residents.
The kidnapping comes on the verge of the country’s first election in 50 years. It is one of many reported acts of violence which many think will escalate as the election draws nearer.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the Archbishop.