Steubenville, Ohio, Aug 11, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to a crowd of nearly 1,200 gathered at Franciscan University of Steubenville’s ‘Defending the Faith Conference’, Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley challenged listeners to boldly proclaim the truth, stressing that faith should be “anything but private.”
Noting the particularly hostile times for the Church, the Archbishop said that “Passing on the faith is not an option. It’s imperative.”
Archbishop O’Malley has been at the center of a massive cleanup following the priestly sexual abuse scandal which erupted in Boston in the early 2000’s, and has received harsh criticism from many dissident Catholic groups unwilling to accept the Archbishop‘s strides to rebuild.
Nevertheless, the Franciscan told the crowd that although the teaching of the Church will often be attacked, it is the truth “that will set us free.”
“In a culture addicted to entertainment,” he said, “our challenge is to be teachers of prayer… There can be no Catholic life without prayer.” It is essential, he said, to incorporate apologetics into catechesis, and to stress the centrality of the Eucharist, confession, and Marian piety.
He told the audience that they must “be men and women of prayer… Faith without prayer is a contradiction,” and added that, “If there is no civilization of love, there will be no civilization at all.”
Archbishop O’Malley, was joined at the conference by Fr. Benedict Groeschel CFR, Fr. Mitch Pacwa and Marcus Grodi of EWTN fame, apologist Jeff Cavins and theologians Alan Schreck and Scott Hahn. The university noted that the conference is aimed at equipping Catholic men and women to confidently stand up for the Catholic faith in a sometimes hostile and non-understanding world.
It is likewise aimed at fulfilling the late John Paul II’s call to a “New Evangelization.”
Brussels, Belgium, Aug 11, 2005 (CNA) - 35 young people who have just completed 3 simultaneous walks across the U.S.--all ending at the U.S. capital--are taking their pro-life message overseas. There, they will journey from the steps of the European Parliament in Belgium to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany.
The youth are part of an organization called Crossroads which was established in 1994 by a Steubenville, Ohio university student in response to Pope John Paul II’s call for young people to take on an active role in the pro-life movement and build a culture of life.
According to the organization, each summer, groups of college students walk across the U.S. speaking to schools and church groups about the “dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”
Sarah Vyvlecka, a pilgrimage member from Kearney, Nebraska, said that, "Europe is the cradle of the Christian faith. There will be roughly a million youth from all over the world here to see Pope Benedict, as he calls European youth to return to their Christian roots."
"This will be a unique opportunity”, she added, “to say to the European youth, 'Don't be afraid to speak the truth. We have reached millions in America walks over the past 11 years. You can do the same.' But we know that we are discussing controversial topics, and that the reaction--even at World Youth Day--is not always going to be positive."
Crossroads president Jim Nolan echoed these sentiments, noting that, "Most Europeans find it distasteful to discuss life issues in the context of any conversation--political, moral, philosophical, even scientific."
"They think that because we're Americans, we moralize and then politicize everything. But we are not here to make a political statement. We understand that the worst chapters in human history were accompanied by silence, and our generation refuses to shun this responsibility. Our message is moral and cultural, not political," he said.
Added Vyvlecka: "America sets the standard for most of the world, even in the places where we are unpopular. If the rest of the world begins to understand that a great majority of Americans favor protecting human life at all stages, they might engage in honest and fearless dialogue on these topics."
Cologne, Germany, Aug 11, 2005 (CNA) - In a new twist to the controversy surrounding the statements by the Argentine Protestant rock band RESCATE against Pope Benedict XVI, German organizers of World Youth Day said they have decided let the band go ahead with their performance during the event’s closing concert.
On Tuesday, WYD officials said that because of the band’s statements against the Pope, made during an interview with the Chilean website musica123.cl, RESCATE would be eliminated from the roster of those scheduled to perform at the concert.
On Thursday, however, officials said the announcement of the band’s removal from the program was due to an “internal misunderstanding.”
“After a clarification by RESCATE regarding the statements that have been attributed to them and an intense investigation on our part into the circumstances and background of the opinions expressed in the referred to interview, we see no reason to remove them from the program,” WYD officials said, according to the German news agency Netzeitung.
“There has been a misunderstanding of their statements,” they maintained.
In their clarification to WYD, RESCATE stated, “From Spain, where we are on tour at the time, we write with heavy hearts to communicate to you our deep consternation over the comments about certain phrases we used that were construed to seem to be against the Pope Benedict XVI”.
“We feel that the declarations that RESCATE is accused of making referring to the Pope, during an interview in Chile and that have been published in different websites, have been taken out of context”.
“It was never our intention to disqualify or ridicule the Pope, nor discredit his authority as the maximum authority of the Roman Catholic Church nor underestimate his influence as a world leader, and therefore we humbly request your forgiveness if we have unintentionally offended anyone in any way.”
“We respect Benedict XVI as the maximum spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, we have not meant to offend his person or office in any way. We are praying for him, that he will be greatly used by God everyday of his life and especially on this World Youth Day where so many young people will be gathered together awaiting his words,” the statement concludes.
The original interview in Spanish with musica123.cl can be found at: http://musica.123.cl/escena/rescate.htm
Naples, Fla., Aug 11, 2005 (CNA) - While many recent years have sought to align Pope Pius XII and in fact, the Catholic Church as a whole, with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Holocaust, one Jewish author is seeking to vindicate the late pontiff as a friend of the Jews who helped protect and save many lives.
Rabbi David G. Dalin, a professor of History and Political Science at Florida’s Ave Maria University and author of the new book, The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis says that not only did Pope Pius protect and defend the Jews during World War II, but that there has been a tradition of papal support for Jewish people since at least the fourth century--a claim that flies in the face of much modern speculation.
"It is an abominable slander” he said, “to spread blame that belongs to Hitler and the Nazis to a pope who was a friend of the Jews."
He also points out that there is ample evidence that the Pope personally sheltered nearly 5,000 Jews in the Vatican and nearby monasteries and convents during the Nazi occupation of Rome.
Rabbi Dalin notes that Pope Pius was following a tradition laid out by generations of popes before him, dating back to Pope Gregory I (590-604) who issued the decree, Sicut Judaeis, which states that Jews "should have no infringement of their rights…We forbid to vilify the Jews."
The Holy Father has also been cited as referring to Hitler as "the greatest enemy of Christ and of the Church in modern times."
As to the reasoning behind the accusations, which go so far as to coin Pope Pius “Hitler’s Pope”, ChronWatch quotes Dalin as saying, "The liberal culture war against tradition-of which the Pope Pius XII controversy is a microcosm-must be recognized for what it is: an assault on the institution of the Catholic Church and traditional religion."
In a recent interview with author Thomas Woods, Rabbi Dalin decried John Cornwell’s recent book, Hitler’s Pope, as “historically false and malicious.”
The myth of Hitler’s Pope, he says, “persists despite well-documented historical evidence that Eugenio Pacelli was one of Hitler’s earliest and most consistent critics and that, as both the Vatican Secretary of State and subsequently as pope, was in fact a friend of the Jewish people who was instrumental in rescuing and sheltering a great many Jews from the clutches of the Nazis.”
He added that, “The personal testimonies and judgment of Pius’s Jewish contemporaries — including numerous Italian Jewish Holocaust survivors and Jewish military chaplains serving with the Allied forces during the Nazi occupation of Rome — that also bear witness to Pius XII’s historic role in rescuing and sheltering Jews, should also help restore his historic reputation as a friend of the Jewish people who should receive long-overdue recognition as a “righteous gentile.”
Alberta, Canada, Aug 11, 2005 (CNA) - In light of Canada’s recent legalization of homosexual marriage, legislators in Alberta are working to enact a new proposal aimed at protecting those who refuse to marry gays based on their moral convictions.
At the moment, many fear that commissioners who are unwilling to perform the marriages based on their religious beliefs could be subject to the nation’s hate laws and accused of discrimination.
In order to protect the marriage commissioners, experts say that Section 33--or the so-called “notwithstanding clause”--of the Charter on Human Rights and Freedoms would have to be enacted.
Justice Minister Ron Stevens told the Edmonton Journal that, “We will do what we feel is necessary in that regard to protect the marriage commissioners and their religious beliefs…and if in fact that does require the notwithstanding clause it’s our intention to use it.”
Although it is not likely that the federal government would object to the move, based on the fact that the responsibility for officiating marriages falls on the shoulders of the individual provinces and territories, many are criticizing the act, saying that public service should come before religious belief.
A recent editorial piece in the Edmonton Journal said that, “In our 21st century world, sexual orientation is not a legitimate justification for treating people differently – and anarchy in the public service is not something to be encouraged.”
Others disagree however, as shown by another editorial in the Calgary Herald which read, “After thousands of years of exclusively heterosexual marriage, endorsed by the world's major religions, there should be no moral obligation upon even a government employee to perform a same-sex marriage against his religious beliefs.”
“It is one of the strengths of liberal democracies”, the editorial continued, “that they have a lengthy history of acknowledging the consciences of their citizens and employees. Men have been excused military service and nurses from assisting with abortions on exactly those grounds.”
Reports show that of the 220 licensed marriage commissioners in Canada, some 30% are either uneasy about, if not outright opposed to performing homosexual “marriages.”
Washington D.C., Aug 11, 2005 (CNA) - In a letter to congress yesterday. the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voiced its support for the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, saying that “we cannot stand by while human life is threatened.”
Bishop John H. Ricard, S.S.J., Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Policy wrote the letter on behalf of the group, saying that “We believe this legislation will give added momentum to the search for a genuine peace in Darfur and relief for its suffering people.”
The bi-partisan act, introduced in early March, calls on the U.S. and international forces to provide adequate tools to local authorities to stop the mass genocide which has been ongoing in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Senator Jon Corzine (D-NJ), who introduced the bill with Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), said on the senate floor that, “‘Never again’ is the rallying cry for all who believe that mankind must speak out against genocide…Man’s horrific treatment of his fellow man cannot be tolerated. We have no right to stand by while human life is being taken.”
In his letter, Bishop Ricard pointed out that, “Some progress is being made in the implementation of the peace agreement covering Southern Sudan, but the tragic suffering of the people of Darfur continues.”
The bishop, who has traveled to Sudan and Darfur, added that, “Despite the agreement reached at Abuja on July 5, 2005 between the government in Khartoum and rebel forces in Darfur, and the efforts of the international community and the African Union peacekeeping force, the innocent people of Darfur are still suffering from the effects of violent clashes between the Sudanese army and the rebel forces, as well as from the continuing attacks against innocent civilians by the Janjaweed militia.”
“We urge continuing pressure by the international community,” the letter continued, “including the African Union, on the government in Khartoum and the rebel forces to cease military operations.”
“The restoration of public order is essential so that relief and reconstruction efforts can reach all of the people of Darfur. The World Food Program’s prediction that 3.5 million people may require food assistance in Darfur illustrates the urgency and magnitude of the crisis,” Bishop Ricard wrote.
Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have continually expressed their concern and closeness for the people of the Darfur region calling for an end to the human violations.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug 11, 2005 (CNA) - The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, which is holding its general assembly, announced that it will release a document on the political crisis affecting the country.
During their first session, the bishops analyzed a traditional report on politics prepared by a group of laymen, with this year’s report focusing on the corruption that is plaguing the Worker’s Party.
The report notes that the scandal of corruption which is affecting the main leaders of the WP “has cause general commotion.” “What could never happen has happened. At first many refused to admit the intolerable reality and they alleged it was all about calumnies that are unfounded, but such an attitude flies in the face of common sense,” the report states.
The bishops are holding their annual meeting in the city of Indaiatuba, 99 kilometers northeast of Sao Paulo.
, Aug 11, 2005 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Bogota has organized a day of reflection to coincide with World Youth Day in Cologne, to give young people in Colombia the chance to pray and be spiritually united with those participating in the gathering in Germany.
According to organizers, the day of reflection will take place on August 21 at the archdiocesan Cathedral. Young people from various parishes and movements will take part.
The event will be centered on the general WYD theme of “We have come to adore Him” and will include adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Mass and a concert.
Hamburg, Germany, Aug 11, 2005 (CNA) - During the recording of an upcoming CD, renowned Italian soprano Cecilia Baroli praised Pope Benedict XVI.
“I like him, and I respect Pope Benedict immensely. I think he is somebody who greatly understands the unique the power of music as proof of a Superior Creative Power,” the Italian diva said during an interview for the newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
During his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy Father kept a piano in his apartment and often spoke of his profound love for classical music. He recently pointed to Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” as a particularly moving piece.