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Archive of May 31, 2005

Pope changes government at Roman Basilica, boosts dialogue with other Christians

Vatican City, May 31, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, the Vatican made public new norms, written by Pope Benedict on the Feast of the Visitation of Mary, for the practice of worship in the pontifical basilica of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls, which clarify specific questions of jurisdiction and administrative aspects of the ancient basilica and it’s grounds.

The Holy Father noted that the basilica sits on the site, which, according to tradition, St. Paul himself, was martyred. It also serves as the church for a Benedictine abbey, which is located on the same complex.

In accordance with the Lateran Pacts of 1929, international law, and successive agreements between the Italian government and the Vatican, the Pope holds civil authority over the basilica and the entire extraterritorial complex despite its relative distance from the Vatican itself.

The Pope pointed out that, in the past, the Holy See was only able to define some aspects of the jurisdiction of the pontifical administration of the basilica and the adjoining abbey, but wrote today that he now sees it "appropriate to emanate some general norms with the aim of clarifying and defining the principle aspects of the pastoral and administrative management of the complex of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.”

“This”, he said, “will make it possible to compile a statute laying down the duties of the parties involved, and regulating their dealings with one another."

Holding to the norms of the Church’s other major basilicas, Pope Benedict opted to appoint an archpriest to St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, who will exercise "ordinary and immediate jurisdiction."

Likewise, he will make the abbot of the Benedictine abbey vicar for pastoral care and delegate for the complex’s administrative tasks. The new archpriest will coordinate the various administrative bodies of the complex, in accordance to the particular purpose of each, except in matters that are the exclusive jurisdiction of the abbot within the abbey.

After having been canonically elected, the monastery’s abbot must be confirmed by the Pope and will then enjoy all the rights and prerogatives as superior of the Benedictine community.

In order to also enable the abbot to attend to his duties in the monastic community, the late John Paul II defined "that the extraterritorial area around the abbey should be removed from the jurisdiction of the abbot of St. Paul's, who will nonetheless conserve his ordinary jurisdiction 'intra septa monasterii' and his liturgical function within the basilica, as defined in this document and as will be specified in the forthcoming statute."

In March of 2005, the abbey took the name of "Abbey of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls," and suffered the loss of much of it’s own identity and territorial autonomy.

To correct this, the Pope wrote that with the exception of the duties of St. Paul’s archpriest and the abbot, "the power of ordinary pastoral jurisdiction over the entire extraterritorial area of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, falls to the cardinal vicar of Rome, who exercises that power through the territorially-competent diocesan parish."

With this, the pontifical administration of the basilica "is suppressed and all its functions are transferred to the archpriest, who will exercise them in keeping with the statute to be approved by the competent offices of the Holy See."

Noting that the basilica is a popular pilgrimage site, and to protect the ministry of Penance, specific to the basilica, Pope Benedict confirmed the norms established by Pope Pius XI in his Apostolic Constitution, "Quod divina favente," that "the administration of the Sacrament of Penance should continue to be entrusted to the care of the penitentiaries, chosen from the Benedictine monks and constituted according to the terms of the forthcoming statute".

Also not wanting to sacrifice particular ecumenical events, celebrated in the basilica, the Pope wrote that, "It will, therefore, be the task of the monks, under the supervision of the archpriest, to organize, coordinate and develop such programs, also with the help of their Benedictine confreres from other abbeys and in accordance with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity."

Pope Benedict concluded with a prayer, asking the ‘Apostle of the People’, as St. Paul is often called, to illuminate those who work in the basilica and the pilgrims who travel there.

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Bishop enforces appropriate liturgical practice in diocese

Richmond, Va., May 31, 2005 (CNA) - One year after his began in the Diocese of Richmond, Bishop Francis DiLorenzo has already set up a commission to enforce appropriate liturgical practice, and has implemented other measures and solutions, which he says the people want and which meet the current needs of the diocese, reported the Times-Dispatch.

Soon after his installation, the bishop reactivated the diocese's liturgical commission and named Fr. Russell Smith as diocesan theologian, a post that had been vacant since 1998.

The commission investigates and responds to parishioners who complain about liturgical abuses in a particular church. It also ensures that proper practices are being followed. Fr. Smith must also approve all speakers from outside the diocese before they speak at a diocesan parish.

Self-monitoring wasn’t working, the bishop explained in a May 29 article. These checks were needed because some churches were functioning outside the traditional norms of Catholicism.

Bishop DiLorenzo also did away with the diocesan sexual-minorities commission, saying that it had outlived its usefulness, and he increased the number of clustered parishes.

In efforts to make diocesan offices more effective, he also is bringing in consultants to review some departments and commissions and determine their strengths and weaknesses. He also is working on improving the parish-based religion programs.

When more room was needed for the chancery office, DiLorenzo decided to move out of the three-story house next to the cathedral and to a house in Midlothian in Chesterfield County. He preferred to move than to purchase another building for offices.

DiLorenzo, 63, succeeded Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, who retired last year after 29 years as bishop of the diocese. A Philadelphia native, DiLorenzo came to Richmond from Honolulu, where he was bishop for 10 years.

He spent the five weeks of his time in Richmond, meeting all of the priests and lay leaders and visit diocesan buildings and meet 450 lay leaders, he said.

He described Richmond as “a very, very stable diocese with a lot of human resources and material resources that promote our evangelism.”

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Pope says young people ‘must feel loved by the Church’

Vatican City, May 31, 2005 (CNA) - As he prepares to join young people in Cologne for World Youth Day this summer, Pope Benedict XVI told Italian bishops yesterday that they, especially priests and bishops, must assure the young that they are loved by the Church.

The Pope told the bishops that because young people run the risk of being "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine…they need to be helped to grow and mature in the faith: this is the first service they must receive from the Church, especially from us as bishops and from our priests."

"Many of them," the Holy Father continued, "are not able to understand and accept all the Church's teaching immediately, but precisely for this reason it is important to reawaken within them the intention to believe with the Church, the belief that this Church, animated and guided by the Spirit, is the true subject of the faith."

Pope Benedict suggested that if the Church were to adequately convey the faith to young people, that they "must feel loved by the Church, in particular by us, bishops and priests."

He said that in this way, "they will experience in the Church the friendship and love the Lord holds for them, they will understand that in Christ truth coincides with love, and in their turn they will learn to love the Lord, and to have faith in His body which is the Church.”

“This is the central point”, he concluded, “of the great challenge of transmitting the faith to the young generations."

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Catholic Press Association votes for “no statement” on Fr. Reese resignation

Orlando, Fla., May 31, 2005 (CNA) - Members of the Catholic Press Association (CPA), gathered in Florida last week, voted against making a formal statement regarding the resignation of ‘America’ magazine editor, Fr. Thomas Reese over the magazine’s widely-viewed overemphasis on dissent from Catholic teaching.

During the joint meeting of the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals and the CPA, the group voted 48-28 against a proposed statement emphasizing the importance of Catholic journalists “exercising our mission with editorial freedom and responsibility."

An 80-member conference majority favored the recommendation to appoint a committee to discuss the matter further. Meinrad Scherer-Emunds, executive editor of U.S. Catholic magazine, introduced the proposed statement, which was voted down on May 26th.

Earlier this month, Reese, a Jesuit priest resigned from the Jesuit-run publication after serving seven years as its editor. Many speculate that his community forced the resignation because of Vatican pressure over the magazine’s inordinate amount of reporting on issues of dissent from Catholic teaching.

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Benedict XVI to Spanish Bishops: Marriage and family are irreplaceable

Vatican City, May 31, 2005 (CNA) - In a letter sent to the President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the irreplaceable character of marriage and the family in society and renewed his call to attend to the V World Meeting of Families, which will take place in July of 2006 in Valencia, Spain.

In the letter, which was made public this Sunday by Archbishop Agustin Garcia Gasco of Valencia, the Holy Father said that the renewed calls for convening the gathering have as their purpose the encouraging, “as John Paul II did, of the ‘stupendous novelty,’ the ‘Gospel of the Family,’ whose value is central for the Church and society.”

The Pope noted, “In order to put a human face on society, no nation can ignore the precious good of the family, founded upon marriage.  The marital covenant, by which a man and a woman constitute among themselves a consortium for life, ordered by its very nature towards the good of the spouses and the generation and education of offspring, is the foundation of the family, the patrimony and common good of humanity.  Thus, the Church cannot cease from proclaiming that, according to the plan of God, marriage and the family are irreplaceable and do not allow for other alternatives.”

“Today more than ever,” the Pope added, “the Christian family has the most noble and unavoidable mission of transmitting the faith, which implies a commitment to Jesus Christ, died and risen, and insertion into the ecclesial community. Parents are the first evangelizers of their children, precious gifts of the Creator, beginning with the teaching of their first prayers.  Thus a moral universe is built rooted in the will of God, in which the child grows up with the human and Christian values that give full meaning to life.”

The World Meeting of Families is scheduled to take place the first week of July in 2006, with the theme, “The transmission of the faith in the family.”

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Communion service at Boston church does not replace Mass

Framingham, Mass., May 31, 2005 (CNA) - Parishioners at St. Jeremiah’s church in the Archdiocese of Boston are trying to determine whether their weekly Communion service meets a Catholic’s weekly obligation to attend Mass.

The church is one of many that have been slated for closure. Parishioners received the news from Archbishop Sean O’Malley May 11, and they have protested by keeping vigil at the church. They began holding Sunday Communion services. A debate has ensued about whether the service can replace the weekly mass.

Canon lawyer Charles M. Wilson, executive director of the Saint Joseph Foundation in San Antonio, told parishioners that it doesn't, reported the Daily News. Parishioners sought Wilson’s opinion on the matter after archdiocesan officials had already told them the same thing.

Appeal Committee co-chairwoman at St. Jeremiah’s Mary Beth Carmody said parishioners in other Boston parishes had said the service, held in a church, can replace the Mass, up until a church is deconsecrated.

About 110 people attended the first weekend of Communion services May 20; 120 attended last week.

In cases when a priest is not available, other celebrations may be held, Wilson said, but special provisions must be made and the bishop must grant special permission.

The Archbishop said he would respond to parishioners within 30 days.

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School officials allow high school valedictorian to mention Jesus

, May 31, 2005 (CNA) - Wisconsin school officials reconsidered a previous decision and allowed one high school valedictorian to speak about Jesus in her recent graduation speech.

When Miriam Cattanach, valedictorian of the Class of 2005 of Spencer High School, submitted her graduation speech to school officials, they said any reference to religion, God, or Jesus must go.

The committed Christian said in her speech that Christ is the hope for the future. When administrators censored her speech, her family contacted Liberty Counsel in Florida.

After the legal group got involved, the school changed its tune, says Liberty Counsel president Mat Staver.

"We wrote a letter to the school authorities and talked to them about what the Constitution says. We simply said that if they insist on censoring this religious message of her graduation speech, that it would be unconstitutional, and we would have to file suit in court," Staver reports.

Officials changed their mind, allowing Cattanach to give her address May 21.

"There is someone who can make the journey seem a lot easier. His name is the Lord Jesus Christ," the young woman told her classmates. "He is the ultimate source of success, love, laughter, dreams, and the future. He is the Creator of the universe who longs to have a relationship with you."

Staver says school administrators and others often “get the wrong impression.” The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit to prevent prayer at a Pennsylvania high school's graduation ceremony on May 28.

"They assume that the safe road is to censor prayer or religious messages,” he said. “In fact, it's unconstitutional to do so.

"While the school should not either force prayer, on the other hand they should not stop prayer or religious messages," he continued. "They ought to remain neutral."

And students honored as valedictorian or salutatorian, he said, should be free to "share their gratitude to God" with their fellow students and family members.

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Cuban missionaries declare mission work central to evangelization of country

Havana, Cuba, May 31, 2005 (CNA) - Delegates from all over Cuba met in Havana last week to celebrate the I National Assembly of Missions, an historical gathering that concluded with a commitment to “make mission work the central focus of pastoral life” in Cuba.

The meeting, which took place on May 25-28, gathered together 141 representatives, including priests, religious, deacons and laity, from the eleven dioceses of Cuba.

Participants compiled a list of priorities that they said should be central to the work of evangelization in Cuba, such as making mission work the focus of pastoral life, cultivating a missionary spirituality among the members of the Church, and prioritizing an integral missionary formation. 

According to Father Raul Rodriguez Dago, national director of the Pontifical Missionary Works, “the presence of 23 seminarians who are at different stages in their theological studies at the Seminary of St. Charles and St. Ambrose, was cause for joy and hope at the meeting, as they will be the pastors of the future.”

During a Mass that was part of the gathering, Archbishop Luiggi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Cuba, called on participants “to work to keep the doors open to Christ,” and he noted that “in our day to day relationships, when we encounter situations in our social, cultural and economic life that might keep Christ from reaching our brothers and sisters, we cannot remain indifferent.”

He also read a greeting from Pope Benedict XVI in which the Holy Father asked that “the work of this gathering provide a new impulse for the untiring missionary action in the country in response to the problems of today’s society, giving thanks to God for the past and the present of the life of that beloved Church in Cuba.”

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Salvadoran archbishop exhorts government to defend life

San Salvador, El Salvador, May 31, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador exhorted government officials last week to defend life from the moment of conception, calling it their “most important” task, and to make economic development in the country a priority as well.

As the end of President Elias Antonio Saca’s first year in office approaches, the archbishop noted, “It is not my role to make judgments about the government,” but “I would ask that first of all life be defended, which is the most important thing, from the moment of conception.”

Speaking to reporters, Archbishop Lacalle said he hoped other sectors of society would heed his call in addition to government officials and that “party interests” should be set aside in favor of the well being of the country.

He also called for greater efforts to defend the family and provide more assistance.

The creation of jobs and the care for the family “are great challenges,” because they are “fundamental rights, together with education and health care,” he said.

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