Archive of August 10, 2005

Imitate St. Therese of Lisieux’s way of humility, says Pope

Vatican City, Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - During this week’s General Audience at the Paul VI Hall, Pope Benedict XVI commented on Psalm 130 and underscored the urgency of living “spiritual childhood” according to the model of St. Therese of Lisieux.

After arriving by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo, the Pontiff noted that the Psalm, which speaks of Israel as “a child in the arms of his mother,” “develops a theme which is beloved in all religious literature: spiritual childhood.”

“Immediately my thoughts turn spontaneously to St. Therese of Lisieux, to her ‘little way,’ to her ‘remaining little’ in order to ‘be in the arms of Jesus’,” the Holy Father added.

“The great temptation of pride,” he continued, “in which man wants to be like God, the arbiter of good and evil, is decidedly rejected by the psalmist, who opts instead for humble and spontaneous trust in the only Lord.”

“Thus we come to the unforgettable image of the child and his mother,” the Pope said.

The child, the psalmist recalls, is attached to his mother through a personal and intimate relationship, not only out of mere physical contact or the need for nourishment.  It is a more conscious relationship, although always immediate and spontaneous.”

“This is the ideal parable of true spiritual ‘childhood,’ whereby one abandons oneself to God not blindly and automatically, but serenely and responsibly,” the Pope added.

The Holy Father concluded by highlighting that “pride, as we have seen, is opposed to humble trust,” and he cited the fourth century spiritual writer John Casiano, who “warned the faithful about the seriousness of this vice, which ‘destroys all virtues at once and targets not only the mediocre and the weak, but mainly those who have reached the top using their own strength.”

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Pope to make another visit to Germany in ‘06

Rome, Italy, Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI will visit his native Bavaria in 2006, according to officials of the Diocese of Ratisbona (Regensburg), one of the cities where the Pontiff carried out his priestly ministry.

According to the announcement, the Holy Father “has accepted the invitation of the city and the diocese,” and the visit could take place in the fall of 2006, although no date has been officially confirmed by the Vatican.

There was some discussion of a possible visit to his native region of Bavaria during Pope Benedict’s trip to Germany for World Youth Day, but the tight schedule for that event has made it impossible.

Although the Pope was born in the Archdiocese of Munich-Freising—he later became its archbishop—he has strong ties to Ratisbona, where he was professor of theology.  His brother, Father Georg Ratzinger, is a priest at the city’s Cathedral.

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Catholic Clergy group recommits to orthodox preaching of the Gospel, defense of human life

Alhambra,Calif., Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - Last week at their 30th annual convocation, the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy--a group of priests and deacons dedicated to the pursuit of personal holiness and loyalty to the Pope and Magisterium--announced their 2005 resolutions which include new commitments to preaching the Gospel and a strong condemnation of the killing of Terri Schiavo.

The group--founded in 1975 in an effort to see the Second Vatican Council’s Presbyterorum Ordinis, which calls for ongoing intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation of the local clergy, to be implemented throughout the Church--met in Alhambra, California, from August 1st through 5th to formulate their new resolutions.

Those resolutions include a pledge of obedience, respect and support for Pope Benedict XVI as he begins his new pontificate. They also honored the late “Pope John Paul the Great” for the tremendous legacy he leaves with the Church.

The Confraternity voiced their prayers for the upcoming Synod of Catholic Bishops and said that they would “urge each and every diocesan bishop around the world to fully implement and norms and rubrics of the Revised Roman Missal of 2000 as contained in the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani.”

They also committed to and vowed to “ask all our brothers in Holy Orders (bishops, priests and deacons) to celebrate the Sacraments reverently, prayerfully and faithfully according to the universal and legitimate local liturgical laws.”

“As we continue the Year of the Holy Eucharist,” they said, “we remind our brethren of the centrality of the Sacred Liturgy as the source and summit of Christian life and we urge a complete adherence to proper celebration while denouncing and all abuses or illicit innovations.”

Pointing out that according to Vatican II, the primary duty of a priest is to faithfully preach the Gospel and noting that most faithful learn about Christ at weekly Mass, the group promised to “prepare and to preach orthodox homilies to the best of our abilities and urge our brother priests and deacons to do likewise.”

“In order to be effective and convincing preachers of the Word,” they added, “the Church asks all clergy to foster ongoing spiritual and theological formation through prayer, study and fraternal support.”

Recalling the recent starvation death of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo, the group pledged their “unequivocal support for the moral obligation to always provide normal care and ordinary means of medical treatment for all patients, especially the terminally ill and the physically and mentally disabled.”

They likewise stressed the “recent official papal teaching that nutrition and hydration (food and water), regardless of the method they are delivered to the patient, are to be given to everyone, even those in a persistent vegetative state and to withhold or withdraw them while still effective is completely immoral.”

Lastly, the group encouraged ongoing research into medical advancements using adult and umbilical stem cells which, they point out, “do not involve the killing of innocent unborn life.”

The resolutions also praised a recent statement of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference of Bishops, reminding “all our Catholic voters and politicians, judges and legislators, that embryonic stem cell research is intrinsically evil since it requires the destruction of innocent human life. Anything which directly kills the human embryo or fetus is forbidden by divine and moral law.”

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Ruins of pool where Jesus healed blind man found; helps prove authenticity of John’s Gospel

Jerusalem, Israel, Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - Workers in Old Jerusalem have stumbled onto the ruins of the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus, in the Gospel of John, heals a man blind from birth--the new find is being praised as a discovery which helps to prove the historical authenticity of the Bible.

James H. Charlesworth, a New Testament scholar at the Princeton Theological Seminary, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times saying, "Scholars have said that there wasn't a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit" to illustrate a point…"Now we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was."

A gospel that was thought to be "pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history," he added.

Sewer workers discovered the pool some 200 yards from another Pool of Siloam, this one constructed somewhere between 400 and 460 AD by the Empress Eudocia of Byzantium, who, experts say, commissioned the rebuilding of several biblical sites.

Archeologists say that the pool which appears in John’s Gospel was built around the 1st century BC and destroyed by the Roman Emperor Titus in 70 AD.

The sewer line repair which led to the discovery was being overseen by Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority who, according to the LA Times report, was “100% sure it was the Siloam Pool," when his group saw two steps unearthed by the workers.

The account of the pool in the Gospel of John shows Jesus encountering a man there who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples thought that the man was blind because of some sin of his own or his parents.

Jesus then responds that the man is blind so that God’s work might be revealed in him, spits in the dust to make mud and rubs it in the man’s eyes telling him to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam.

The return of the man’s sight makes this story one of the most often recalled in the whole of the Gospels. Now, theologians and biblical scholars are excited that the significance of this miracle can be appreciated in a whole new light.

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Group seeks to renew Canada’s moral direction with prayer, reparation, penance

Ottawa, Canada, Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - In the wake of the recent legalization of homosexual marriage in Canada--a step which some see as another step down the slippery slope of moral relativism in national law--one group is hoping to turn the tide through an offering of themselves, their prayer, and their personal reparation.

Canadians for Renewal is a group of Catholics and Christians whose main goal, they say, is “the renewal of Canada through personal repentance and conversion as well as through unified reparation, prayer and penance.”

Their plan is to organize an all-night prayer vigil in various reaches of the country which will center around time-honored prayers of the Church, Mass, and the sacrament of Reconciliation. Although the proposed program is Catholic in nature, other Christian groups are invited to join while following the general format laid out by Canadians for Renewal.

“We're gathering our forces together”, the group said, “for the salvation of our country, its citizens and its future generations.  We're standing together to reclaim our country for Christ!”

The vigils, which are scheduled for September 23-24, and November 18-19, take their theme from the book of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which says, "If My people who bear My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My presence and turn from their wicked ways, I Myself will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and restore their land." 

British Columbia Senator Gerry St. Germain, who was quoted by the CBC shortly after the gay marriage legalization, expressed fear that judges were stepping outside of moral bounds by determining laws which are unconscionable to many.

"If we don't stop this”, he said, “...I know what the next steps are. Euthanasia. Decriminalization of marijuana.”

Anyone interested in joining Canadians for Renewal in their efforts or learning more about the group can reach them at: [email protected]

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Chicago Eucharistic procession draws nearly 10,000

Chicago, Ill., Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - Archdiocesan officials estimate that nearly 10,000 people, bearing colorful banners and donning t-shirts emblazoned with pro-life phrases, were present in Chicago’s Grant Park Sunday for a Eucharistic benediction and procession through the streets of the city.

Cardinal Francis George led the procession and benediction--the first outdoor liturgy of its kind in Chicago in five years--saying that the Eucharist is about change.

He asked the crowd, “What needs to be transformed? What needs to be changed? . . . What makes us a society that is too often plagued by violence in the streets and in our neighborhoods and by corruption of various sorts in corporations, in our governments and even at times, in the church?"

He noted that peace can only be achieved if people are able to become free of their own vices and addictions to things like alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, anger and "our own prejudices and racism."

The procession, held in honor of the Year of the Eucharist, proclaimed by the late John Paul II,  was led by some 2,000 Knights of Columbus who had just finished their national congress at the nearby Hilton Hotel. 

23 year old Andrew Brinkman, a University of Chicago law student told the Chicago Sun-Times that the gathering is "an important testimony to our faith and demonstrates the Catholic commitment to evangelizing the city."

Suzanne Devane, likewise told the Sun-Times that, "I think Catholics feel like we're the least popular people in the country right now. We're seen as the 'horrible Christian right,'…It's wonderful to be together in solidarity with other people of the same faith."

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Cardinal calls on rebel leader to stop complaining and come up with proposals

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, said criticism of the political class by the leader of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (ZNLA), Subcommander Marcos is welcome, but that what Mexico needs are “proposals and not just opposition.”

The Cardinal told reporters that “criticism doesn’t do any harm, but we don’t only need the absence of evil, we need proposals that will help Mexico.”

Last Saturday, “Marcos,” the high profile leader of the Zapatista uprising who had suddenly disappeared from the spotlight,  publicly reappeared in a Chiapas town after four years of silence.  During a press conference, the ZNLA chief took the occasion to launch a stinging criticism of political leaders and their parties.

On the other hand, Cardinal Rivera said the second phase of the Mexico Seguro project is going well.  “A lot of hard work is being done but we still have much to do.  We are dismayed at the continuous crimes that are stealing the joy and life away from the country,” he said.

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Cuba to send 31 young people to WYD

Havana, Cuba, Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Church in Cuba has sent 31 young people to Cologne for World Youth Day, the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba announced this week.

A statement signed by the president of the Bishops’ Committee on Youth Ministry, Bishop Carlos Jesus Patricio Baladron Valdes, indicated Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino of Havana will lead the Cuban delegation.

The young people departed this week, and in addition to Cardinal Ortega Alamino, they will be accompanied by Bishop Baladron, Bishop Mario Mestril of Ciego de Avila, five priests, one nun and two advisors.  The 31 young people were selected from the country’s 11 dioceses.

The delegation will return to Cuba on August 22, and they have begun their stay in Germany with a visit to the Diocese of Osnabruck.

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Religious leaders in Argentina sign joint declaration against terrorism

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - Representatives in Buenos Aires of the three monotheistic religions signed a joint declaration on Tuesday rejecting “all forms of fundamentalism and terrorism.”

The historic statement was signed by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Jewish leaders León Cohen Bello and Luis Grynwald, and Omar Helal Massud of the Islamic Center of Argentina.

“We desire to work for the common good and to condemn everything that causes terror and destruction.  We are against all terrorism, both imperial and structural,” Cardinal Bergoglio stated.

Cohen Bello said the act was “an exercise in militancy for life,” while Massud noted that “Islam is not terrorism; it is a religion of peace.”

“All of the religious groups present in the city of Buenos Aires desire to live this way.  I am thankful and honored by your presence here.  This place is home to you all,” Cardinal Bergoglio told the other religious leaders gathered for the ceremony.

The document states that “as another sign of our religious vocation and commitment to the highest values of the human spirit related to peace,” the signers ratify “our will to reject any form of terrorism and fundamentalism.”

Terrorism “is condemned by all monotheistic teachings, which in their concepts and essential practices, strive to create a world of harmony,” the statement reads.  “The religious vision of life tends to liberate man while terrorism makes him a slave to fear,” it concludes.

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Mexican bishops appeal to Supreme Court to prohibit abortion pill

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 10, 2005 (CNA) - The newspaper of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara is reporting this week that fifteen Mexican bishops have filed a legal appeal to the country’s Supreme Court to stop the decision by the Mexican government to include the morning after pill in the official catalogue of medicines.

Led by Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez of Guadalajara, the bishops presented their filing with the support of five legislators of the ruling National Action Party (PAN).

According to the newspaper, the bishops maintain that the government’s Department of Health “committed an act against the law” by including the pill in the official catalogue of medicines, based on a definition of abortion that “contradicts the Federal Penal Code.”

The government “has not demonstrated that the morning after pill is not abortifacient,” the bishops said, and “it has placed a weapon in peoples’ hands for the killing of the innocent.”

The Bishops’ Conference of Mexico announced that all the bishops of the country would join in the legal appeal.

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