Vatican City, Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI condemned Friday night’s terrorist attacks, which rocked the Egyptian Red Sea resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh, calling the acts “senseless.“
A letter was sent in the Pope’s name to Egypt’s civil and ecclesiastical authorities by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. The bomb blasts-the latest in a frightening summer of bombings, killed at least 59 and left 116 injured.
In the telegram, Cardinal Sodano wrote that, "His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was deeply saddened to learn of the terrorist attacks at Sharm al-Sheikh in Egypt and he expresses heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.”
“In condemning such senseless acts,” he continued, “His Holiness appeals to all to renounce the way of violence which causes so much suffering to civilian populations, and instead to embrace the way of peace. Praying for the eternal repose of the dead he invokes upon all the afflicted the Almighty's blessings of comfort and strength."
, Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking before yesterday’s Angelus prayer to a group if some 8,000 pilgrims in Les Combes, in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta, where he is vacationing, the Holy Father recalled Europe’s deeply Christian roots and challenged the continent to return to them.
Pope Benedict noted today’s feast of the Apostle James, "whose relics are venerated in the famous shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the destination of countless pilgrims from all over Europe.” He also recalled Friday‘s feast day of St. Bridget of Sweden, patroness of Europe, and the July 11th feast of St. Benedict, who he called “another great patron of the ‘old continent.”
“Contemplating these saints,” he said, “it is natural to pause and reflect on the contribution that Christianity has made, and continues to make, to the building of Europe.”
Benedict then turned to the pilgrimage made by "Servant of God John Paul II in 1982 to Santiago de Compostela, where he performed a solemn 'European act' during which he pronounced these memorable words: 'I, bishop of Rome and pastor of the Universal Church, from Santiago, address to you, old Europe, a cry full of love: Return to yourself! Be yourself! Discover your origins. Revive your roots. Experience again those authentic values that made your history glorious and your presence in other continents beneficial."
The Pope pointed out that during the 1982 visit, John Paul II launched "the project of a Europe aware of its own spiritual unity, based on the foundation of Christian values.”
“He returned to this theme on the occasion of World Youth Day 1989,” the Pope continued, “held at Santiago de Compostela, expressing his hope for a Europe without frontiers, a Europe that does not deny the Christian roots from which it grew and that does not renounce the true humanism of Christ's Gospel. How appropriate this call remains today in the light of recent events on the European continent."
The Holy Father then excitedly recalled the pilgrimage he will make next month "to a historic European cathedral, that of Cologne, where young people have an appointment for their 20th World Day.”
“We pray that the new generations,” he said, “drawing their vital lymph from Christ, many know how to be leavening in European society for a renewed humanism, one in which faith and reason cooperate in a fruitful dialogue for the promotion of man and the construction of true peace."
, Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - Following Sunday’s noontime Angelus prayer held near his vacation chalet of Les Combes in Italy's Valle d'Aosta, Pope Benedict led nearly 8,000 pilgrims in praying that God would “block the murderous hand” of terrorists and convert their hearts.
In light of the recent attacks on London, and Saturday morning’s bombing of an Egyptian resort town, in addition to troubles in Iraq and Turkey, the Holy Father said that, "Even these days of serenity and repose have been disrupted by the tragic news of the execrable terrorist attacks which have brought death, destruction and suffering to various countries such as Egypt, Turkey, Iraq and Great Britain.”
He continued: “As we entrust to divine goodness the dead and injured and their loved ones, victims of gestures that offend both God and man, we call on the Almighty to block the murderous hand of those who, driven by fanaticism and hatred, committed these acts, and we ask that He convert their hearts to thoughts of reconciliation and peace."
Valle d'Aosta, Italy, Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - Before entering the church of Introd today for a meeting with priests and deacons of the Valle d’Aosta region of Italy, where he is currently vacationing, the Holy Father surprised journalists gathered outside by briefly answering questions.
Asked if, after three months since his election, he found it difficult being Pope, Benedict responded, “Yes, in a certain sense it has been difficult, I had never thought of this ministry, but people are very good to me and support me."
Likewise, when asked if he felt close to his predecessor, John Paul II, the Pope replied that, "I always feel him very close, through his writings and through his spiritual presence."
Inside the church, Aosta’s Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi stressed the importance of the Pope's meeting with the 140 priests, religious and deacons, which, he said, reflects the "collegiality and communion on which the Church is founded."
Osvaldo Naudin, Introd’s mayor invited Pope Benedict to return to the Valle d’Aosta for his vacation next year and quipped that the Holy Father is learning the local dialogue well thanks to the “crash course” he has been following.
Vatican City, Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - Following a meeting with priests and deacons of Italy’s Valle d’Aosta region, where he is currently vacationing, Pope Benedict told reporters that he does not think the recent rash of terrorist attacks can adequately be labeled as anti-Christian.
On his way out of the meeting, the Pope paused briefly to answer reporter’s questions and said it was incorrect to define the terrorist attacks which have marked the last weeks as anti-Christian: "I feel the intention is far more general, and not specifically against Christianity."
Benedict was also asked whether Islam could be considered a religion of peace, to which he said: "I would not like to use big words to apply generic labels. It certainly contains elements that can favor peace, it also has other elements: we must always seek the best elements."
The Pope also commented on prospects for dialogue between the Holy See and China, expressing the desire that they "continue to move forwards."
San Francisco, Calif., Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - The pro-life message of 15 college students soared sky high Saturday when local pilot Bob Gilbert flew over the Bay area with a banner that read: "Stop abortion now. ALL.org."
The young adults are participating in a two-week walk through California to communicate one cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion.
For the past seven days, students have been walking through the Bay area, including San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. They have peacefully protested in front of the district offices of pro-abortion, Catholic politicians, prayed in front of abortion clinics, and spoken at Catholic churches.
The walk, called Crusade for Life, is organized by American Life League's Crusade for the Defense of Our Catholic Church. The Crusade for Life began in January 2003.
"Our prayer is that more and more people will stand up for the rights of the pre-born and that the violence of abortion will come to an end," said David Dufresne, assistant director of the Crusade for Life walk. .
For more information, go to: http://www.CrusadeForLife2005.com.
Orlando, Fla., Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - The church to be built on Ave Maria University campus near Naples, Fla., has been redesigned to one-third of its originally planned size.
University founder Thomas Monaghan made the announcement Thursday. Ave Maria is the first Catholic university to be built in the United States in 40 years.
The 68-year-old founder of Domino’s Pizza is building the university and town of Ave Maria in partnership with the Baron Collier Cos.
The new design will seat 1,100 people instead of 3,300 and will cost $24 million rather than nearly $100 million. The stone façade will soar 100 feet over gothic-style arches instead of 150 feet. However, the new design, like the original, includes a skylight that will line the roof ridge.
Monaghan told the Orlando Sentinel that he made the decision in order to have more resources to put toward developing the university.
Construction of the church is scheduled to begin next spring. It is expected to be ready in the fall of 2007, when the university begins to offer classes on its permanent campus.
The permanent campus is currently under construction on fields that were donated by the Collier Cos. In the meantime, 300 students are studying on an interim campus in Naples.
Washington D.C., Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - Restrictions on travel and financial remittances to Cuba should be suspended temporarily so that Cuban Americans can help their relatives in the wake of Hurricane Dennis, said the chairman of the United States bishops’ International Policy Committee.
Hurricane Dennis hit Cuba July 8, causing extensive damage and at least 10 deaths.
In a July 19 letter to U.S. Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), Bishop John Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee expressed support for Serrano’s resolution (H.Con.Res. 206) that would ease restrictions on family travel and financial remittances sent to Cuba.
The bill is “a laudable example of the humanitarian spirit that ought to be a constant element of our Cuba policy,” the bishop wrote.
“Unfortunately,” he added, “despite repeated Administration expressions of concern for the Cuban people, the recent policies that further restrict the ability of Cubans in this country from aiding their suffering relatives on the island, including most incomprehensibly the limitation of family visits to once every three years instead of annually as before, seem to belie that concern.”
Bishop Ricard also stated the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ long-standing position that “the failed economic embargo policy [for Cuba] should be dismantled.”
St. Louis, Mo., Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - A visit from Bishop Ryszard Karpinski of Lublin, leader of Polish Catholics outside Poland, reportedly has done little to heal a long-standing rift between St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The dispute erupted nearly 18 months ago after parish board members refused to comply with Archbishop Raymond Burke’s directive to bring the parish civil structure into compliance with Church law.
Under the current structure, St. Stanislaus’ pastor is subject to the authority of the parish governing board. Archbishop Burke has pointed out that this structure is in violation of Canon Law and months ago, removed the parish priests and relocated official Polish language Masses to a nearby church.
While many have stuck with the Archbishop, others remain at St. Stanislaus, holding weekly prayer services in lieu of Mass. Reportedly however, three unauthorized Masses have taken place, said by priests whose identities have been kept secret.
Bishop Karpinski was in town to celebrate the dedication of St. Agatha parish--the Archdiocese’s new official Polish parish--and to help with dialogue between St. Stanislaus and Archbishop Burke.
While Bishop Karpinski met with board members and other leaders from St. Stanislaus Saturday, both Archbishop Burke and the parish are keeping the details confidential. The archbishop said however, that he is still "hoping and praying that things will be reconciled with the church."
A spokesman for St. Stanislaus told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the meetings with Bishop Karpinski were “frank” and “polite.” The bishop was invited to say Mass on Sunday at the parish but refused until St. Stanislaus was reconciled with the Archdiocese.
Parishioner Krystyna Bzdyl told the Post-Dispatch that she felt lied to by the board and that "they were treating the church as their own playground." Others say that despite the visit from the Polish prelate, the road to reconciliation may still be very long indeed.
Stoneham, Mass., Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - While some 62 churches closed in the Archdiocese of Boston last year, parishioners of St. Patrick’s in Stoneham completed a $7-million expansion project that includes a new 900-seat church, a parish center and grotto.
Archbishop Sean O'Malley was on hand at St. Patrick’s Saturday to consecrate the new church building, which replaced a smaller church that first opened 117 years ago, reported the Boston Globe.
''Today we are filled with gratitude and admiration for the achievements of this faith community," Archbishop O'Malley reportedly told the packed church. ''As we rededicate this place to God, may we rededicate our lives to God."
The archbishop blessed the baptismal font and a green marble box, containing various relics of saints. The small reliquary was placed at the base of the altar.
Typical of a consecration, he also blessed the church with holy water and anointed the walls of the church with chrism oil.
Unlike other Boston parishes, St. Patrick’s didn’t suffer the huge drop in church attendance. In fact, the parish is thriving with 4,800 families and eight weekend masses. Of its 15,000 individual members, about 3,300 attend mass weekly.
Parishioners first began their fund-raising efforts six years ago. The new church includes cushioned pews, air conditioning and an elevator.
Many of its decorative elements came from churches that have closed. Its 13-foot stained glass window above the altar, and another nine stained glass windows, came from St. Aidan’s in Brookline; another five are from St. Margaret's in Brockton.
The altar came from Nuestra Senora del Carmen in Lowell; the statues, a lectern, and crucifix came from St. Joseph's in Hyde Park. Our Lady of Lourdes in Revere donated a statue of St. Patrick, and Blessed Sacrament in Jamaica Plain gave a pair of white marble angels.
, Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - The pastor of the Cathedral in the city of Santa Marta, Colombia, Father Luis Enrique Rojas, died on July 22 of injuries he sustained during a break-in at the Cathedral rectory.
Father Rojas, 76, had been in a hospital in Barranquilla since July 2, the day of the incident.
According to police, three persons attacked the priest in the attempted robbery, one of whom has been since detained as a suspect.
The attack on the priest, who had just celebrated 25 years as pastor of the Cathedral, was not the first such incident to occur in Colombia. According to the country’s Bishops’ Conference, since 1984 more than 100 priests and religious have been killed, including two bishops.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, said last week he was hopeful President Vicente Fox would ban the inclusion of the morning after pill in the country’s health care program.
The cardinal said neither the president nor other top government officials were aware of the plan to include the drug, but he said he did not intend to ask Fox to ban it. “This is a matter for the President of the Republic and he knows whether or not he will authorize it,” the cardinal stated
However, Cardinal Rivera said he was hopeful that Fox—who openly claims to be Catholic—“will take action” now that he knows the seriousness of the situation. He also said that while the Church will not carry out any campaigns to discourage the use of the morning after pill, neither will she cease expressing her “conviction of faith” that “human life must be respected by all and above all.”
He noted that it is the responsibility of citizens to make the effects of the pill known and to defend their rights.
Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - The former Minister of Education and rector of the Ave Maria College in Nicaragua, Humberto Belli, expressed his hope this week that the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo, will issue a clarification regarding the reception of Communion by Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega at a Mass on July 17, despite the fact that he is married outside the Church.
“Canon Law is clear,” Belli recalled, “that those who have divorced and remarried cannot receive the Sacrament of Communion, and priests are obliged to refuse them reception. This also applies to those who are living together and those who have been married civilly or have refused to be married by the Church.”
Belli said people do not know whether or not Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, have been married in the Church, and therefore he is calling for their status to be clarified.
He stated that “as a Catholic” he is bothered by how politicians use the Church. “Because when they come to church, many of these politicians do not do so out of authentic devotion or conviction, but rather because it benefits them politically, and sadly some priests allow themselves to be manipulated by these circumstances.”
“There’s a lot of hypocrisy,” Belli noted. “It is not the love of Jesus Christ that is motivating them.”
Santiago, Chile, Jul 25, 2005 (CNA) - One year after his death, members of the Servants of Mary celebrated a special memorial Mass for Father Faustino Gazziero De Stefani, who was murdered in the sacristy of the Cathedral by a 24 year-old member of a Satanic cult.
The Mass was held this Sunday and was celebrated by Father Bernardino Savilla, Provincial of the Servants of Mary religious order.
“One year after his martyrdom, we desire to turn our eyes to the Lord and thank Him for the life and service of Father Faustino, who was always concerned about educating our young people and children in the values of our Christian faith,” the invitation to the Mass noted.
“Before the signs of death that seem to dominate our society,” the invitation read, “we, the servants of Mary, wish to reaffirm our faith and trust in the God of life, who guides our history.”
Father Faustino was born on April 29, 1935, near the city of Venice, Italy. At 11 years of age he entered the minor seminary and he was ordained a priest in 1960.
He was known for his work in with young people throughout Chile.
In 1977 he traveled to Santiago, where he continued his work in the formation and education of youth.
During the funeral Mass last year, the Archbishop of Santiago, Cardinal Javier Errazuriz, recalled how Father Faustino left his native Italy the same year of his ordination and took up the cross of the missionary.
“The love for our people that grew in his spirit, his will to serve them such, that he identified with us, renouncing his own citizenship to become Chilean. He became a fellow countryman, like so many missionaries,” the Cardinal said.