Vatican City, Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to nearly 40,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, the Holy Father reflected on his namesake, St. Benedict, a man who, he says, “laid the seed of a new civilization…amid the ashes of the Roman empire.”
On the eve of St. Benedict’s feast day, which falls today, the Pope recalled how the patron saint of Europe and founder of monastic life abandoned his life in Rome and retired to the mountains of Subiaco, where he created "a fraternal community founded on the primacy of the love of Christ, a community in which prayer and work alternated harmoniously in praise to God."
The Holy Father went on to say that the saint, who lived from 480-547, "amid the ashes of the Roman empire and seeking before all else the Kingdom of God, laid, perhaps unknowingly, the seed of a new civilization which would later develop, integrating Christian values with, on the one hand, classical heritage and, on the other, Germanic and Slav cultures."
Pope Benedict added that his namesake "did not found a monastic institution with the aim of evangelizing barbarian peoples, as other great missionary monks of the time did, rather he indicated to his followers that the search for God is the fundamental, indeed the only, goal of existence."
"Nevertheless,” he said, “he also knew that when believers enter into a profound relationship with God, they cannot be content with living a mediocre life marked by minimalist ethics and superficial religiosity.”
“St Benedict”, the Pope recalled, “said: 'Place nothing before the love of Christ.' This is sanctity, which is valid for all Christians and has become a true pastoral priority in our own times, when we feel such a need to anchor life and history to solid spiritual references."
Vatican City, Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - This morning, the Holy Father departed Rome for the start of his 17-day vacation in the Italian alps, where he will share the same house as was frequented by the late John Paul II.
After an hour-long flight which left Rome at 10:30, Pope Benedict arrived at the airport of Saint Christophe in the Valle d'Aosta region in northwestern Italy.
He was then driven a short distance to the residence of Les Combes where he will rest for the next 17 days before continuing a heavy summer schedule which includes World Youth Day in Cologne.
During his Angelus prayer yesterday at St. Peter’s Square, the Pope announced his Valle d'Aosta holiday to 40,000 gathered pilgrims, saying: "I will stay in the same house that often welcomed Pope John Paul II. I thank those who accompany me with their prayers and to all of you I say with affection, 'see you soon!'"
Following his stay in Valle d'Aosta, the Vatican noted, the Pope will move to his summer residence of Castelgandolfo, 30 kilometers south of Rome, where he will stay until the end of September.
Indianapolis, Ind., Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - Voice of the Faithful, a group synonymous for many with anger and dissent, held their first meeting in three years this weekend in Indianapolis where they discussed ways to reform the Catholic Church following the priestly sexual abuse scandal.
The national meeting drew some 500 leaders from 200 different affiliates around the country in what many observers see as an attempt to bully Catholic clergy and bishops.
One of the groups publicized goals is to structurally change the Church, a goal which makes many faithful weary of VOF‘s true intentions.
In a letter to the priests of his diocese two weeks ago, Indianapolis Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein wrote, "When I have asked the leadership to tell me what they mean by their third goal, 'to shape structural change within the church,' they have been unable to clearly articulate its meaning or implications.”
"In fact,” he said, “they seem not to be aware of possible implications to changing the church's structure."
Voice of the Faithful was established in Boston three years ago in response to the abuse crisis in that city. It is now active in all fifty states.
The group announced many draft resolutions established this weekend which include tougher laws against abusive priests and the bishops who may have “protected them”, greater financial transparency within the Church and a greater collaboration between laity and bishops.
There is no sign however, that the Church will accept any of VOF’s demands or resolutions.
Many in fact, believe that major steps will be needed to transform the organization, often associated with anger and dissent into the advocate for Catholic lay people the 30,000 member group wants to be seen as.
Jim Post, president of VOF said prior to the meeting that, "Anger gets you part way, but it does not sustain you…What sustains (members) is love of the church, the belief that the church is worth fighting for, an institution with a moral mission."
Deal Hudson however, former editor of Crisis Magazine, thinks that the group is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. “Voice of the Faithful”, he told CNA, “has been trying for the past three years to lead a revolt against the teaching authority of the Church. It's a revolt repudiated by the outpouring of tribute to the life of John Paul II followed by the election of Benedict XVI.”
Other resolutions approved by the group this weekend included demands for lay involvement in the election of bishops and calls for discussion of "women and other marginalized people within the church."
According to reports however, some of these even brought internal criticism for their language which seems to exclude men.
Virgine Elking, a member of Dayton, Ohio’s Sisters of the Precious Blood said that, "I feel used and non-recognized. Why? Because I am a woman."
At the close of the meeting, members sprinkled one another with holy water with Post adding: "We want all of you to leave here today to be ambassadors of change, ambassadors of action."
But George Wiegel, commentator on the Church, and biographer of Pope John Paul II, told CNA that "When the leadership and membership of Voice of the Faithful acknowledge that a culture of dissent in the Church played a significant role in creating the damaged ecology from which priestly sexual abuse and the bishops' failure to deal with it both emerged, then -- and not before -- will VOF contribute to the authentically Catholic reform of the Church."
Vatican City, Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - During yesterday’s noontime Angelus prayer at St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict expressed his "profound grief over the atrocious terrorist attacks in London last Thursday", and implored terrorists to “stop, in God’s name.”
The Holy Father called for prayers "for those killed, for the injured and for their loved ones," in the wake of what is being called one of the worst terrorist attacks since 9-11.
The Pope also asked the faithful to pray "for the perpetrators of the attack: may the Lord touch their hearts."
He added, "To those who nourish feelings of hatred, and to those who carry out such repugnant terrorist acts I say: God loves life, which He created, and not death. Stop, in God's name."
Last weeks bombings rocked London’s mass transit system during the rush hour commute Thursday killing 50 and injuring some 700.
Vatican City, Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today in the Vatican, the Holy See released its financial records for 2004 which show the Church’s monetary work toward caring for the poor, preserving artistic heritage, and assisting local churches in efforts of evangelization.
On Friday, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano presided at the 39th meeting of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See, which studied the records.
In attendance at Friday’s meeting were, Cardinals Thomas Stafford Williams, Roger Michael Mahony, Camillo Ruini, Jean-Claude Turcotte, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, Ivan Dias, Claudio Hummes O.F.M., and Edward Michael Egan as well as by His Beatitude Michel Sabbah.
Numerous representatives from offices of the Holy See also participated:, including Cardinals Sergio Sebastiani, Attilio Nicora and Edmund Casimir Szoka, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and Bishop Franco Croci.
The consolidated financial statements of the Holy See for 2004 were presented by Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Vatican’s Prefecture for Economic Affairs.
According to the Vatican, these statements showed that the year closed with a surplus of 3,081,820.00 euro, an improvement over 2003 which closed with a deficit of 9.56 million euro.
The Holy See’s total income for 2004, it showed, was 205,663,266.00 euro, and total expenditure of 202,581,446.00 euro.
Cardinal Sebastiani said that, "A large part of the expenditure…is made up of the expenses of dicasteries and organizations of the Roman Curia which assist, each in its own way, the Roman Pontiff in his pastoral service to the Universal Church and to the particular Churches. ... A total of 2,663 people work in the Roman Curia, of whom 759 are ecclesiastics, 346 religious and 1,558 lay people. Pensioners number 1,429."
The Vatican City State’s consolidated financial statements for 2004 were also presented on Friday. They showed that the fiscal year closed with a surplus of 5,371,194.00 euro.
"Great economic commitment has been shown," the cardinal noted, "in safeguarding, evaluating, and restoring the Holy See's artistic heritage, ... and in supporting Vatican Radio, by contributing to covering half the station's running costs. Employees of Vatican City State number 1,560, pensioners 878."
Lastly, members of the council studied Peter's Pence, the fund used to finance the Holy Father's works of evangelical solidarity. In 2004, they found, this fund amounted to 43,186,899 euro, a drop of 7.4% with respect to 2003.
They noted that the Pope used Peter‘s Pence "to alleviate the suffering of peoples hit by natural catastrophes; to assist initiatives in favor of the orphans of victims of armed conflict and of AIDS; to help bring the assistance of the Church to areas of great tension; to support centers of Christian formation in the world, and other activities."
Pope Benedict himself, also made a brief appearance at the meeting. He took the meeting’s opportunity to stress the importance of material goods for the announcement of the Gospel and the spiritual mission of the Church. He also wished to be personally informed about the proceedings.
The presentation of these statements were officially released to the public during a press conference this morning at the Vatican.
Naples, Fla., Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - In an attempt to weaken what John Paul II coined as the “Culture of Death”, Florida’s Ave Maria University has announced the establishment of the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Scholarship fund for aspiring priests and seminarians.
The Scholarship is the brainchild of Joseph Grady, President of My Jesus Mercy Ministries, and father of a current Ave Maria University student.
According to the University, “Grady and Ave Maria University leaders aim to carry on Terri’s name and assist future priests and laypersons in creating and developing a Catholic culture of life.”
University Provost, Fr. Joseph Fessio S.J. said that although “Terri’s death was a tragedy not only to her family, but for the entire country…it can also be a new beginning in renewing the conscience of Americans; and this type of pro-life scholarship will certainly contribute to that.”
Brain damaged Terri Schiavo succumbed to a court-ordered starvation in March, which was set in motion by her husband, Michael Schiavo. Her family, in a battle which reached all the way to the Supreme Court and Senate, and caught the attention of the nation, continually argued that their daughter would have never wanted to die in her condition--contrary to Michael’s claims.
A grateful Bob Schindler, Terri’s father, said that, “From the bottom of our hearts, we’re just so pleased and honored…It’s great to have an institution willing to take on something like this. We feel that Terri was chosen by God to combat evil, and what a fine way to pay tribute to her life.”
The university’s goal for the scholarship is to have between three and four million dollars available for students over the next few years. Set up so that any group or individual can contribute, school administrators hope to be able to support at least one pre-theology student through studies this fall.
Added Grady: “Terri would often say, ‘Where there is life, there is hope’. Through Ave Maria University’s pre-theologate program, her prophetic words are being fulfilled.”
“If we can bring future priests and bishops out of Ave Maria University with this same ideal,” he said, “then her life-given gift will continue.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - Fifteen priests of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are marking 50 years of service to the Church and to the Catholic faithful. Eleven of these priests were members of the largest class ever to be ordained from St. John’s Seminary, located in Camarillo, Calif.
Thirty-one men were ordained from St. John’s in 1955. Of these, only three were for dioceses other than Los Angeles. Cardinal James Francis McIntyre, then-archbishop of Los Angeles, ordained 29 of these men April 27, 1955. Their ages ranged from 25 to 27.
Since then, many of the Los Angeles priests of the Class of ’55 have come and gone. Three of them became priests of the Diocese of Orange when it was created from Los Angeles in 1976. Fifteen have died and many others have retired from active ministry. Four priests from other dioceses, also ordained in 1955, were incardinated and are celebrating their golden jubilee as well.
L.A.’s diocesan newspaper, The Tidings, offered brief biographies of the golden jubilarians. Some of the highlights appear below.
Fr. Michael Daniel Buckley served as a pastor and hospital chaplain. In his retirement, the accomplished artist creates posters for the 21 Mission Saints and many other art pieces.
Msgr. James Colberg was pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption, Santa Maria, from 1974 until he retired in 1999. He was also an educator, serving as a high school teacher and administrator for many years. He also served as a consultor in the archdiocese.
Fr. John Fitzgerald was a pastor for many years and a military chaplain, serving two tours of duty. He earned a Bronze Star for meritorious service in Vietnam. He retired in 2000.
Msgr. Eugene Frilot served as pastor in several parishes and as procurator for St. John's Seminary for 11 years. He retired in 1999.
Msgr. Lawrence Gibson served at several parishes and was assistant secretary for Cardinal McIntyre. He also served as vocations director from 1961-74. He retired in 2003.
Fr. Rody Gorman, a native of Ireland served in many parishes before being named pastor of St. Matthias, Huntington Park, where he served for 23 years. He was also a leading member of the United Neighborhoods Organization.
Msgr. Alfredo Hernandez served many years as a chaplain at juvenile detention facilities, four hospitals, the L.A. Fire Department and several outreach ministries. He had several parish assignments as well before retiring in 1997.
Fr. Colm O'Ryan, a native of Ireland, is the last active pastor of the class of 1955. He serves at Good Shepherd Parish in Beverly Hills, having had several parish appointments prior.
Msgr. John Rawden, an Army Air Force veteran, was named secretary to Cardinal McIntyre in 1962. He was chancellor from 1970 to 1986 and had served as episcopal vicar for South Central L.A. He also volunteered as a Navy chaplain and was a pastor.
Fr. Sylvester Thomas, a former Navy officer, was an educator in L.A.’s Catholic schools. He later became a school psychologist and also served as a chaplain. He retired in 2003.
Fr. Gerald Walker served a number of L.A. parishes as associate priest and pastor before retiring in 1999.
Fr. Richard Carey was ordained in St. Paul, Minnesota and incardinated for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1987, and has served at eight parishes since then. Fr. Leslie Delgado, a native of Panama, was incardinated in 1975. Most of his ministry has been as a teacher at Dominguez Seminary, San Gabriel Mission High School, St. Pius X and St. Anthony.
Fr. Donal O'Connor has served in parish ministry in Los Angeles. The native of County Cork, Ireland, completed his seminary studies in Ireland. He was later incardinated for Los Angeles. Fr. Abel Suquilvide was incardinated in 1992, after ministering 11 years in Los Angeles. The Argentinian native has served mainly in parish ministry.
Grand Rapids, Mich., Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - The founder of National Shrine and Parish of the Cross in the Woods in northern Michigan died July 7. At 91, Msgr. Charles Brophy was the oldest priest in the Diocese of Grand Rapids.
The shrine the priest had founded in 1946 includes a 55-foot-high crucifix in Indian River that has become one of Michigan's best-known tourist and worship sites. Hundreds of thousands of people, including non-Catholics, reportedly come to see its seven-ton bronze Christ each year.
The monument, billed as the world’s largest crucifix, was inspired by Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a young Mohawk woman, who would put crosses on trees in the 1600s.
The priest was transferred to Grand Rapids before the cross was completed in 1954, but saw with satisfaction how it touched the people who made the pilgrimage there.
His new assignment included developing St. Jude Parish in Northeast Grand Rapids. During his 36 years there, it grew from a handful of families meeting in a Quonset hut to a thriving community of more than 1,500, with a modern church building.
He retired from parish ministry in 1988 but became active with hospital ministry.
A funeral mass will be celebrated tomorrow at St. Jude church. Retired Bishop Robert Rose will preside.
Rome, Italy, Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - In an interview with the Italian daily L’Espresso, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, revealed a few details about the moments immediately following the death of Pope John Paul II last April.
The Vatican spokesman revealed that upon the death of the Holy Father, “the nuns, his secretary (Don Stanislaw Dziwisz--now Archbishop of Krakow), and the others present began to spontaneously sing a ‘Te Deum’ of thanksgiving to God, not for his death, of course, but for such fruitful 84 years. At that moment I also found it difficult to say a prayer for the dead.”
During the interview, Navarro-Valls also noted how the example of John Paul II taught the world not to fear old age or physical decline. “He has taught us that life leads to death but that that is not the end of life,” he said.
Likewise, he highlighted the strong ties between John Paul II and Pope Benedict and said it was a “delight” to witness a conversation between them. “It was a delight to listen to them. On the one hand, a philosopher Pope and on the other, a cardinal theologian in a continuous osmosis,” he added.
The interview, which revealed some truly personal and unknown aspects of Navarro-Valls, and can be found in its entirety at:
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 11, 2005 (CNA) - The Bishops Conference of Mexico issued a statement last week reiterating that life is a gift from God which man must protect and clarifying that the right to die does not exist, even “in situations of extreme suffering.”
The statement, released at the conclusion of the bishops’ General Assembly, maintains that “reason teaches us that each human being is a unique subject, the only creature in the entire universe able to be conscious of himself, to love and to be loved.” This is an indication of man’s intrinsic value and inalienable rights, the bishops state, the first of which is the right to life.
Likewise, the bishops note that the Church recognizes that “each human being is the fruit of God’s call to life,” who loves him from all of eternity, even apart from his moral situation.
This awareness of true love and of man, the statement explains, has led the Church to develop all kinds of works that favor and defend the dignity of human life. In addition, the Church encourages that science be at the service of man rather than making him an instrument to be used in improving the health of some “at the cost of the deaths of unborn children or the terminally ill.”
“The right to die does not exist! Nobody gives himself life! One receives it as a gift that is given! By his social nature man knows that such a gift is not only for himself, but rather for others as well,” the bishops note.
“Each human being has the right and the duty to conserve life,” both one’s own and that of others, the bishops state, and life is not at one’s arbitrary disposal. “Today there are innumerable measures” to lessen physical pain and in extreme cases, “we must seek the improvement of palliative care,” they explained.
The bishops called on scientists and health care professionals to commit to protecting human life and on politicians to legislate based on an “integral humanism” that leads to “a new social, economic and political order.”