Vatican City, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - Today the Vatican publicized a letter from Pope Benedict written to the Spanish bishops during their pilgrimage to the shrine of Pilar de Zaragoza, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th anniversary of the consecration of Spain to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In the letter, dated May 19th, the Pope wrote that, "Mary Immaculate reflects the mercy of the Father. Conceived without sin, she was capable of pardoning even those who abandoned and wounded her Son at the foot of the Cross. As our Advocate, she helps us in our needs and intercedes for us to her Son."
He continued, saying, "Accompanied by the paternal solicitude of Joseph, Mary welcomed her Son. In the home at Nazareth Jesus reached maturity in a family that was humanly splendid and marked by the divine mystery, one that has been a model for all families.”
“In this respect,” he wrote, “in domestic coexistence the family realizes its vocation of human and Christian life, sharing joys and expectations in a climate of understanding and reciprocal help.”
“Thus, the human person,” he continued, “who is born, grows and is formed in the family, is capable of undertaking with certainty the path of goodness, without letting himself or herself be disoriented by methods or ideologies foreign to the human person."
The Holy Father also pointed out that, "the Catholic Church in Spain is disposed to take firm steps in her evangelizing projects. Thus, it is to be hoped that she will be understood and accepted in her natural truth and mission because it is a question of promoting the common good for everyone, with respect both to persons and to society.”
“In effect,” he wrote, “the transmission of the faith and religious practices of believers cannot remain confined to the purely private sphere."
Chicago, Ill., May 23, 2005 (CNA) - During a three-hour ceremony, at Chicago’s Cathedral on Saturday, Cardinal Francis George ordained 16 men to the priesthood—the largest ordination class of any diocese in the U.S.
Ranging in age from 26 to 46, the group, some of whom hail from as far away as Poland, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico, are also overall, one of the youngest ordination classes in the country.
The Archdiocese reached its low point in 1990, ordaining only 6 men, but those numbers have been steadily growing since.
Reverend Thomas Baima, who is provost of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake, where the priests were trained, told Chicago’s Catholic New World that the faithful need good priests and that he's proud to announce that his group is ready for the challenge.
27 year-old Brenden Lupton one of the new priests, and a graduate of Catholic University of America told the New World that, “As a priest, in general, I hope to point towards the beauty of Christ.”
“I hope to work a lot with the youth, visit the sick, and teach in RCIA. I also hope to discuss and learn more about our rich Catholic faith,” he added.
Rome, Italy, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Legionaries of Christ, Father Rafael Jacome, L.C., announced on Saturday that the Holy See has informed the congregation that no canonical process is taking place nor will be taking place against its founder, Father Marcial Maciel, L.C.
Father Jacome recalled the statements by Father Maciel of April 22, 2002: “Before God and with absolute peace of conscience I categorically declare that these accusations made against me are false. I have never exhibited the type of abominable behavior that these persons accuse me of and there is nothing that could be further from my way of treating people, as any one of the thousands of Legionaries who know me can confirm.”
The statement underscores that “the Legionaries of Christ and the members of Regnum Christi renew our commitment to serve the Church and society in total fidelity to the Catholic faith, in obedience to the Supreme Pontiff and in intimate union with our beloved Founder, according to the charism we have received through him.”
The Legion does not hold “any resentment against those who accuse us; rather, we pray for them, and we express our gratitude to the innumerable people of good will who have confirmed to us their support and esteem in these circumstances,” the statement concludes.
Vatican City, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI today welcomed Prime Minister Vlado Buchkovski of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Vatican as he and an entourage celebrates the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who were Apostles to the Slavic people.
The feast is celebrated in the Eastern Church on May 11, and in the West on February 14.
The Pope said that, "When I received the new ambassador a few days ago, I wanted to acknowledge how strongly the traditions and culture of the Macedonian people resonate with the values which permeate the spirit of Europe.”
“The brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, Apostles of the Slav peoples,” he pointed out, “contributed significantly to its formation. Their human and Christian activity left indelible traces in the history of your own country. The pilgrimage which you make every year to the tomb of Saint Cyril provides a fitting occasion to return to the roots of your history."
The Holy Father added that, "I am convinced that the way to give life to a society truly attentive to the common good is to seek in the Gospel the roots of shared values, as the experience of Saints Cyril and Methodius demonstrates.”
“This is the ardent desire of the Catholic Church which has no other interest but to spread and bear witness to Jesus Christ's words of hope and love, words of life which down the centuries have inspired many martyrs and confessors of the faith.”
"I sincerely hope," the Pope continued, "that your pilgrimage today will contribute to keeping vibrant throughout the Nation these high human and Christian ideals. I pray too that your country will confidently open up to Europe, thereby contributing significantly to building its future, inspired by your invaluable religious and cultural heritage."
Tucson, Ariz., May 23, 2005 (CNA) - The Diocese of Tucson sold 83 church properties at an auction Saturday in an effort to raise $3.2 million toward abuse-claim settlements.
The sales, conducted with Bankruptcy Court approval, will only be final June 23. Officials will not know how much revenue the auction produced for about 40 days.
Three parcels were sold under sealed bids that had to be submitted by Thursday. Their preset minimums were expected to bring in more than half of the total.
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas said the auction was "an important step" toward compensating “those who had been harmed.” He did not attend the auction.
Pittsburgh, Pa., May 23, 2005 (CNA) - An influential priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has announced that he will renounce his vows as a priest in the Episcopal church in order to convert to Catholicism and apply to become a Catholic priest.
Rev. Alvin F. Kimel Jr., rector of St. Mark's Church, told his 200-member parish about his decision in a letter Thursday.
The 55-year-old pastor and father of four also posted the letter on his Web blog May 19.
"In the name of an ideology of radical inclusivity, the Episcopal Church has moved significantly away from the apostolic and catholic faith of Jesus Christ," his letter read.
“With the decision made by General Convention two summers ago to approve the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals and the blessing of same-sex unions, it has, in my judgment, become heretical,” he continued.
"I cannot in conscience represent the Episcopal Church to the world, nor can I in conscience summon sinners into its fellowship,” he stated.
“As my wife and close friends can well testify, my life has been an agony for me since the 2003 General Convention. I have struggled to discern God’s will for my life and for my ministry,” he shared in his letter.
“I have had to reassess my understanding of the Church from the ground up. I have finally concluded that I cannot in conscience remain an Episcopalian. I must be in the Church founded by Christ Jesus. It is thus my intention to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church,” he concluded.
It will be at least two years before Kimel can be ordained as a Catholic priest. He will first be considered a layman. A Catholic bishop, who is willing to have a married priest in his diocese, must sponsor him. He will then undergo an 18-month period of formation, including theological study. The Pope then must decide whether to approve his ordination.
Kimel is the 80th Episcopal priest to join the Catholic Church since 1980, when Pope John Paul II created the pastoral provision to enable married Episcopal priests to become married Catholic priests, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Kimel is one of six priests from the Diocese of Maryland who produced the 1991 Baltimore Declaration. The Declaration addressed the false teachings within the Episcopal church that Jesus is merely one savior among many for humankind, and that "eternal salvation is already given to the chosen people of Israel through the covenant of Abraham and Moses, independently of the crucified Christ."
For Kimel’s blog, go to: http://pontifications.classicalanglican.net/
Vatican City, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - On May 19th, during a ceremony honoring his brother, Msgr.Georg Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI expressed delight at the 30 years of sacred music that his brother had produced for Austria’s Ratisbone Cathedral.
After his brother received the Austrian First Class Cross of Honor for Science and Art, assigned him by Austrian president Hienz Fischer, the Holy Father said that, "It feels strange for me to speak now. As I came down here, my secretary said to me: 'Now, dear Holy Father, your brother is the most important person'.”
“There is no doubt about that,” he said. “I find it pleasing that my brother, who for 30 years has so committed himself to sacred music in Ratisbone Cathedral and in the rest of the world, should receive recognition from such a competent body.”
"When I speak,” the Pope continued, “despite my inadequacy, I feel, so to say, like the spokesman for those present here who feel joy, gratitude and satisfaction for this moment.”
“As my brother has said, Austria is in a very special way a country of music. Whoever thinks of Austria, thinks in the first place of the beauty of creation that the Lord granted it. They think of the beauty of the buildings, the cordiality of the people, but also and above all of the music. ... For this reason, the fact that our dear neighbor Austria should give this recognition to my brother takes on a particular importance. And I too give my heartfelt thanks.”
"I imagine”, the Holy Father said, “that also the new generation of cathedral cantors, instructed by the choir master, find cause for joy and encouragement in the fact that 30 years of work have been recognized, and that this may help them to honor the message of the good God, in these times when we have such need, and to lead men to joy with renewed drive and enthusiasm. Thank you."
Vatican City, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict recieved eight bishops from Rwanda, who are concluding their "ad limina" visits, and told them to "exhort priests and the faithful, harshly tried by the 1994 genocide and its consequences, to remain strong in the faith and to persevere in the hope given by the Risen Christ, while overcoming every temptation to discouragement."
The Holy Father said that, "To work actively for peace and reconciliation, you are notably promoting a pastoral ministry of closeness, based on the commitment of small communities of lay people to the missionary work of the Church, in harmony with her pastors.”
“I encourage you”, he said, “to support these communities so that the faithful welcome the truths of the faith and its demands, thus developing a stronger ecclesial and spiritual life, so that they do not allow themselves to be turned away from the Gospel of Christ, notably by the numerous sects present in the country."
Pope Benedict stressed the need for the bishops "to work ceaselessly so that the Gospel penetrates ever more deeply into the hearts and lives of believers, inviting the faithful to assume their responsibilities in society, especially in the fields of economy and politics, with a moral sense nourished by the Gospel and the Church's social doctrine."
Pointing out that much of Rwanda’s clergy is becoming native-born, the Holy Father said, "I would like to honor the patient work done by missionaries to proclaim Christ and His Gospel, and to have created the Christian communities entrusted to you today."
He likewise, urged the bishops to closely support their priests, being attentive to their ongoing formation and "to their conditions of life and the exercise of their mission." May your priests, he concluded, "remain faithful to the demands of their state and live their priesthood as a true path of holiness!"
Vatican City, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict held a meeting with a group of the most prominent prelates in the Vatican, saying that, "I have come here with no written speech, but with a sense of vibrant gratitude in my heart, and with the intention to learn.”
The meeting, held with Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, the substitute for General Affairs, Archbisbop Leonardo Sandri, the secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, their assistants and all the collaborators in both the First and Second Sections of the Secretariat of State, was a chance for the Pope to collaborate with his advisors and learn from their experience.
Cardinal Sodano spoke in the name of all officials present as well as of those who work in pontifical representations throughout the world. Afterward, the Holy Father spoke in off-the-cuff remarks, saying, “I am slowly learning something about the structure of the Secretariat of State, especially as each day a pile of documentation arrives, of work done in this Secretariat of State.”
“And so I see,” he said, “from the variety, density and even competency concealed in this work - just how much is done here in these offices."
The Pope continued: "If we think of the great international administrations - for example the European administration, and Msgr. Lajolo has told me the number of employees who work there - we truly are a small number.”
“The fact”, he said, “that such a reduced number of people does such an immense task for the Universal Church does great honor to the Holy See. This large job done by a small number of people shows the assiduousness and dedication with which the work is actually done."
The Pope noted that, "We do not work - as many people say of work - to defend power. We do not have a secular, earthly power. We do not work for prestige, we do not work to see a company grow or anything of that nature.”
“We work, in fact,” he said, “so that the paths of the world may be open to Christ. And in the end all our work, with all its ramifications, serves precisely so that the Gospel, and thus the joy of the Redemption, can reach the world.”
“We become”, the Holy Father stressed, “collaborators of the Truth, in other words, of Christ in His action in the world, in order that the world may truly become the Kingdom of God."
He concluded noting, "I can, then, simply say a big thank you. Together we undertake the service that is proper for Peter's Successor, the 'Petrine service,' that of confirming our brothers and sister in faith."
Vatican City, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - In his Sunday audience for the weekly Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict told more than 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, that the Trinity shows us that “God is not solitude, but perfect communion.”
Echoing his predecessor’s teaching on the ‘Theology of the Body’, the Holy Father said that, “For this reason the human person, in the image of God, is realized in love, which is the sincere giving of oneself."
He said that, "Jesus has revealed to us the mystery of God. He, the Son, made us know the Father Who is in heaven, and gave us the Holy Spirit, the Love of the Father and Son. Christian theology synthesizes the truth about God with this expression: one substance in three persons.”
Greeting pilgrims in Spanish, German, Italian and Polish, the Pope also greeted members of Italy’s National Eucharistic Congress, which he will close next Sunday.
Vatican City, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking yesterday on the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the Holy Father greeted over 20,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, as well as participants in Italy’s National Eucharistic Congress, which opened yesterday in Bari, Italy.
The Pope will travel to Bari next Sunday to personally close the congress.
"Today,” he said, on the “feast of the Most Holy Trinity, I am very happy to greet the participants in the Eucharistic Congress of the Church in Italy, which opened yesterday in Bari.”
“In the heart of this year dedicated to the Eucharist, the Christian people gather around Christ who is present in the Most Holy Sacrament, the source and summit of her life and mission."
Pointing out the theme of the congress, which is "Without Sundays We Cannot Live," the Holy Father said "as I wait to personally go to Bari next Sunday for the Eucharistic celebration, I am with all of you spiritually for this important ecclesial event."
Following the Angelus, Pope Benedict greeted faithful in Spanish, Polish, and German.
"I greet Italian-speaking pilgrims," he specifically said in conclusion, adding spontaneous remarks, as he noted people continuing to arrive in the square.
They "are very numerous, as we can see and hear," the Pope said.
Vatican City, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, Pope Benedict welcomed Georgi Parvanov, president of the Republic of Bulgaria, to the Vatican, thanking Divine Providence for the “rediscovered capacity of friendly and constructive dialogue after the long and difficult period of the communist regime."
President Parvanov traveled with his wife and a delegation to Rome to pay traditional homage to the tomb of St. Cyril who, with his brother Methodius, are significant Apostles to the Slavic people.
Along with St. Benedict, John Paul II proclaimed them co-patrons of Europe on December 31, 1980.
Pope Benedict said that Cyril and Methodius "forged in a Christian perspective the human and cultural values of the Bulgarians and other Slav nations.”
“One could also say”, he pointed out, “that, through their evangelizing action, it is Europe that was shaped, this Europe of which Bulgaria feels itself to be a convincing partner. Bulgaria even realizes that it has a special duty towards other peoples, knowing it is one of the bridges between West and East."
The Holy Father noted "the good relations that exist between the Holy See and [Bulgaria]” and asked, "How can we not thank Divine Providence for this rediscovered capacity of friendly and constructive dialogue after the long and difficult period of the communist regime?"
In closing, Pope Benedict thanked Bulgaria and its people for the "closeness shown to the Holy See in these last two months.”
“You, the government, the parliament, and so many citizens wished to show the Catholic Church their sincere sentiments on the occasion of the death of John Paul II and of my election as his successor," he said.
Lima, Peru, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - This weekend the Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, and President of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM), Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, entrusted the preparations for CELAM’s V General Meeting to St. Rose of Lima, the first native-born saint of Latin America.
During a visit to the saint’s shrine in Lima, the Chilean cardinal reflected upon the life of St. Rose, to whom he has a special devotion, and prayed for the saint’s intercession for the upcoming meeting, so that “our peoples may receive the presence of the Lord.”
At the final Mass for the 30th Assembly of CELAM, concelebrated by cardinals and bishops from all over the continent, Cardinal Errazuriz recalled St. Rose as “the palpable demonstration of holiness in the new world,” and he made reference to various moments of her life in which she expressed her intense love for Jesus, the Blessed Mother and the Church.
“She was a Eucharistic woman” who strived to be the “broken bread” for others, listened attentively to the Word and received Communion frequently.
Likewise, he pointed out that the saint “called on priests to be more fervent and to go to the missions” and she reminded them they should not preach “the Word of God with vanity but rather with simplicity.”
“She encountered Jesus on the cross, in the Eucharist and in the poor,” the cardinal said, calling her “Rose of the poor, Rose of the Eucharist, Rose of Jesus, Rose of the Passion, Rose of the Holy Spirit.”
Cardinal Errazuriz also prayed that the bishops would “follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit so that we can prepare [for the meeting] according to God’s will.”
Vatican City, May 23, 2005 (CNA) - Israel is honoring Pope John Paul II with a commemorative stamp and a park in the Galilee, Israel’s embassy to the Holy See announced Friday.
The stamp depicts the pontiff's visit to Israel in 2000 and his stop at the Western Wall, where he left a letter asking forgiveness for acts committed against Jews by Christians throughout history.
The stamp was issued May 18, which would have been John Paul’s 85th birthday, and it bears the late Pope’s prayer for peace in the Holy Land: "May peace be God's gift to the land He chose as His own."
The embassy also announced plans to create a park in the Galilee, dedicated to John Paul. He had celebrated a mass at that site during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000.