Vatican City, Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - From his office window, Pope Benedict XVI reminded all the people gathered to hear him in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday that Christian charity and self-donation are nourished in the Eucharist.
During the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope reflected on the relation between Christian donation and the Sacrament of the Eucharist and underscored that “the loving attention of Christians towards those in difficulty and their commitment for a more solidary society are continually nourished by active and aware participation in the Eucharist", said the Holy Father.
“Anyone who faithfully nourishes him or herself with Christ, assimilates His own life’s style, which is that of an attentive service. Active charity, in fact, is a criterion that gives evidence of the authenticity of our liturgical celebrations,” the Pope Benedict noted.
The Pope also reminded the pilgrims of today’s celebration of “World Day of the Refugee” and said that “the Christian community feels close to those who live in this painful condition: it tries to support them and, in different ways, demonstrate love and interest, translated into concrete gestures of solidarity so that each person who is far from his homeland feels that the Church is their homeland where no one is a stranger.”
The Holy Father entrusted all men, women and children who suffer this condition to “the maternal protection of the Blessed Mother, who, together with Joseph and Baby Jesus, knew of the bitterness of the exile” and prayed that all refugees may find open hearts and comprehension in their lives.
In concluding his remarks, Benedict XVI greeted the thousands of Polish faithful present, noting that "today in Warsaw, Poland's Eucharistic Congress concluded. During the solemn concelebration, three sons of that noble nation were inscribed in the book of Blesseds: Ladislao Findysz, Bronislao Markiewicz and Ignacy Klopotowski. I hope this significant ecclesial event contributes to strengthening the spirit of fraternal reconciliation, a necessary basis for building the communion of all those who participate in the one table of Christ".
Rome, Italy, Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported last week that the first book by Pope Benedict XVI, entitled “The Example of Benedict in the Crisis of the Cultures,” will focus on the marginalization of Christianity in modern-day Europe and will be in stores in Italy on Tuesday.
The Holy Father began writing the new book while still a cardinal and its title refers to the patron saint of Europe who is the inspiration behind his papal name.
According to excerpts published by the newspaper, the Pope maintains that “the extreme attempt to shape things without considering the presence of God leads us more and more to the edge of the abyss.” The axiom of the enlightenment should be turned on its head, writes the Pontiff: “Even if one cannot find the way to belief in God, one ought to live as if God existed anyway.” The live in such a way poses no threat to man’s freedom, he states.
Likewise, he challenges readers with the question, “Who is threatened or offended if a call to the Christian roots of Europe is put forth?” to which he responds, “Muslims do not feel threatened by our Christian moral foundation, but rather by the cynicism of a secularized culture that denies its own foundation (…) It is not the mention of God that offends the faithful of other religions, but rather the attempt to build a human community without God.”
“A confused ideology of freedom leads to an increasingly oppressive dogmatism,” the Pope adds.
According to the Italian newspaper, the book will have 144 pages and is being published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. It will include a prologue by the president of the Italian Senate, Marcello Pera.
Cincinnati, Ohio, Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - Spurred by the current state of marriage and the debate on same-sex unions, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a multi-year national pastoral initiative on marriage, beginning this year.
The initiative, proposed by the Committee on Marriage and Family Life, takes a “life-cycle” approach and intends to strengthen marriage “as a human institution and as a sacramental reality.”
The Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati developed the life-cycle approach for its own marriage preparation initiative and published "Marriage Preparation Guidelines Throughout the Lifecycle." The guidelines for the program were approved by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk and may be used as the template for the national program.
The rationale for a life-cycle approach to marriage preparation comes from Pope John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, which affirms that preparation for Christian marriage is a lifelong journey of faith that must be supported by parishes.
The program is divided into four major areas and teaches skills on such topics as conflict resolution, communication, sacraments, spirituality and intimacy. The program also outlines the developmental needs for each age level, suggestions to parents, catechists and parish ministers. There is also hands-on material that explains how the lessons can be incorporated into other parish programs.
Chicago, Ill., Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has acknowledged the mistakes made by some bishops in transferring abusive priests from one parish to another and has pledged to follow the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The bishops made this pledge in “A Statement of Episcopal Commitment” which was issued at the close of their spring meeting in Chicago last week. The statement will be reviewed in five years.
“We bishops pledge again to respond to the demands of the Charter in a way that manifests our accountability to God, to God’s people and to one another,” reads the statement.
“We acknowledge mistakes in the past when some bishops transferred, from one assignment to another, priests who abused minors. We recognize our role in the suffering this has caused, and we continue to ask forgiveness for it,” it continues.
The bishops also committed to assisting each other in correctly interpreting and implementing the Charter, even in cases when bishops are accused of sexual abuse.
“In making this statement, we firmly uphold the dignity of every human being and renew our commitment to live and promote the chastity required of all followers of Christ and especially of deacons, priests and bishops,” the statement concludes.
The full statement is available at: http://www.usccb.org/bishops/episcopalcommitment.shtml
Washington D.C., Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - The United States bishops have renewed their commitment to supporting Catholic schools across the country into the new millennium.
They issued a statement to that effect June 16, during their spring meeting in Chicago last week.
The statement, titled Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium affirms: “Catholic schools are a vital part of the teaching mission of the Church.”
The statement says Catholic schools must remain available and accessible in all areas of a diocese for children of all faiths and all economic backgrounds.
"This has been a proud part of the history of Catholic schools in the 19th and 20th centuries,” the statement reads. “We must continue this outreach in the new millennium."
The statement stresses the need to open schools where there is a large Hispanic immigration, as a way to "reach out and welcome Hispanics and Latinos into the Catholic faith communities in the United States."
Students must be offered “an academically rigorous and doctrinally sound program of education and faith formation designed to strengthen their union with Christ and his Church,” says the statement. They must receive “sound Church teaching through a broad-based curriculum, where faith and culture are intertwined in all areas of a school’s life.” Administrators and teachers must be professionally prepared and formed in matters of the Catholic faith. Teachers and administrators must also receive just wages, they bishops said.
The statement also calls on the entire Catholic community “to assist in addressing the critical financial questions that continue to face our Catholic schools.” The bishops expressed their commitment to launch funding initiatives, but they also invited all people to put their talents together and find creative ways to fund Catholic education.
There are currently 7,799 Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the United States, with more than 2.4 million students.
The full document is posted on the USCCB Web site at: http://www.usccb.org/bishops/schools.pdf
Vatican City, Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - At the request of Pope Benedict XVI, the Pontifical Council for the Laity has invited representatives of the principle ecclesial movements to begin preparing for a meeting next year on the solemnity of Pentecost.
The Vatican dicastery has seen a letter to the leaders of ecclesial movements and communities according to which the Pontiff is studying the possibility of repeating the 1998 gathering convened by John Paul II.
The Pontifical Council for the Laity would undertake the preparations and in addition to a discernment retreat, the gathering would also include a massive meeting in St. Peter’s Square, similar to the one attended by Pope John Paul II.
The members of different ecclesial movements around the world number in the millions and the Pontifical Council for the Laity has recognized 123 such movements to date. Among the more well known include the Charismatic Renewal, Communion and Liberation, Schöenstatt, the Christian Life Movement, Focolares, Regnum Christi and others.
Chicago, Ill., Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Detroit may have new faith-based schools by the fall. The archbishop of Detroit, Adam Cardinal Maida, said he intends to announce details of the new plan next month.
The cardinal spoke to the Detroit Free Press about his intentions last week at the spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Chicago.
The cardinal said he would not reverse the decision to close 18 inner city schools and leave only 12 Catholic schools open in the city. But he said his staff is negotiating to form partnerships that will provide new faith-based schools for Detroit students by the fall.
"My focus right now is entirely on giving more opportunities to poor children in the city with these new partnerships we're putting together," the cardinal told the newspaper.
However, educators back in Detroit, like former principal Sr. Jolene Van Handel and principal Michael Reece told the newspaper they never heard of the plan.
Ottawa, Canada, Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - According to a report by LifeSiteNews.com, Canada’s same-sex marriage bill is likely to be voted on in Parliament this week, either Wednesday or Thursday. LifeSiteNews.com is attributing this information to “highly placed Liberal sources.”
Canada’s same-sex marriage bill returned to the House from parliamentary committee hearings June 16. The committee presented an amendment to the bill, reaffirming freedom of conscience and freedom of religion as stipulated in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Several pro-family groups, including the Canadian bishops, presented briefs before the committee against Bill C-38.
News about a possible vote this week flies in the face of mainstream media reports about how the Conservatives and other Liberal backbenchers are pushing Parliament to delay the vote to the fall. Mainstream media have reported that Conservatives will cooperate on passing the budget if Bill C-38 is delayed.
However, LifeSiteNews.com says news that the vote will likely be held this week confirms information received earlier, which suggests that the New Democratic Party had agreed to cooperate on the budget on the condition that the same-sex marriage bill is passed before the summer recess.
, Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - Rachel Scott was killed during the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, after refusing at gunpoint to deny her faith in God. Now a short film, titled “Rachel’s Challenge: The Battle Between Good and Evil” captures the teenage girl’s lifelong quest to do good and her last test of faith.
The seven-minute film was one of several to take part in the nationwide Amazon Theater Tribeca Film Festival Short Film Competition, hosted by the Amazaon.com Web site, reported AgapePress. Amazon customers were encouraged to watch and rate the five finalists, which included “Rachel’s Challenge.”
The film, produced by ViaMedia, contains both unscripted and scripted dialogue as well as recreations of the incidents leading up to the young woman’s death.
The filmmaker with the highest-rated film will win $50,000. Voting for the film ended June 17. There is no report to date about how many votes “Rachel’s Challenge” received.
Madrid, Spain, Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - In his weekly letter issued on the eve of the pro-family rallies that took place Saturday in Spain, Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia said, “Marriage is a natural reality, not a product of design,” and “families need just laws.”
The archbishop warned that the family “could suffer serious discrimination from confusing laws that do not recognize and that distort the essential elements of marriage” and he said, “promoting a change in the nature of marriage and the family is a fraud and an error that benefits nobody and harms the very foundations of society.”
In his letter, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco also called attention to “those who seem to be intent upon confusing the right to have a family with just another angle of the freedom of association.” The family, he noted, “is a natural reality that has its own intertwined purposes that it does not share with any other group.”
Referring to the complementarity of male and female sexuality, the archbishop emphasized that this “is a joyous difference willed by nature for the procreation of the species and the survival of society and of the human race.” The Church “recognizes this complementarity desired by God and raises it to the dignity of a sacrament,” he added.
“Just as nobody today can accept polygamy as a manifestation of civilization and of human rights, neither is it acceptable to confuse marriage with other relationships or realities with which it does not share the same complementary mission or finality of mutual donation, open to life and to the continuation of the human species.”
Weakening of democracy
Further on in his letter, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco wrote that “the family founded upon marriage, upon the faithful and indissoluble covenant between man and woman, is one of the fundamental elements of just coexistence, democratic freedoms and social peace,” and he warned that “attacking marriage weakens the democratic society.”
Therefore, he insisted, “it is just that citizens demand just laws for the family and that we denounce those norms that directly or indirectly weaken or threaten the dignity of the family, make its mission difficult, or obscure and confuse its identity.”
Regarding persons with homosexual orientation, the archbishop wrote they should “be fully respected in their dignity” and he affirmed that “it is not licit or Christian to disrespect anyone.” The Gospel “calls us all to strive and to commit, and it reminds us that the help of God is available to everyone, in whatever circumstances one finds himself.”
In conclusion, Archbishop Garcia-Gasco encouraged the faithful “to demand that lawmakers pass laws for the good of all.” The Church “is not looking for nor desires confrontations with anyone, but rather she is emphasizing the specific superior good that is implied in the sexual complementarity of man and woman.”
Murray Bridge, Australia, Jun 20, 2005 (CNA) - Rain came to Murray Bridge Friday after the community gathered with Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide the day before to pray for rain and bless the River Murray.
The rainfall relieved many of the farmers of southern Australia, who feared a drought would ruin their crop.
The entire community was represented at the Murray Bridge Community Club to celebrate the “Gift of Water.”
Students of St Joseph's Primary School presented performances, explaining the importance of animals to the river. Special guests included State Opposition leader Rob Kerin, Member for Hammond Peter Lewis, MP Gay Thompson and Murray Bridge councillor Ken Coventry.
"As a bishop who lives and works in the Murray Darling Basin, I am calling on all South Australians to acknowledge the life-giving gift of the River Murray," he reportedly said.
"While much work has been done to improve the health of the river system, we must ... ensure God's gift of water exists for generations to come."