Vatican City, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - During his noontime Angelus prayer yesterday, held at the papal summer residence of Castelgandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI invited gathered pilgrims to meditate on the unique and indissoluble bond which unites the celebration of the Eucharist in the Mass, with the mystery of the cross.
Speaking to faithful gathered in the internal courtyard of the papal palace, the Pope spoke about the upcoming Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, which will fall on September 14.
He said that, "In the year dedicated to the Eucharist, this celebration assumes particular significance. It invites us to mediate on the profound and indissoluble bond that unites the celebration of the Eucharist to the Mystery of the Cross."
"The Eucharist is, then," he continued, "a memorial of the entire Paschal Mystery: passion, death, descent to hell, resurrection and ascent into heaven; and the Cross is a poignant expression of the act of infinite love with which the Son of God saved man and the world from sin and death. For this reason, the sign of the Cross is the fundamental gesture of Christian prayer. To make the sign of the Cross is to pronounce a visible and public 'yes' to he Who died for us and Who rose again; to God Who in the humility and weakness of His love is the Almighty, stronger than all the power and intelligence of the world."
The Holy Father stressed that "the Eucharist is Mystery of death and glory, like the Cross" which "is the passage by which Christ entered His glory and reconciled the entire humanity, overcoming all enmity."
He went on to say that, "For this reason the liturgy invites us to pray with faithful hope: 'Mane nobiscum Domine!" Remain with us Lord, Who with Your Holy Cross have redeemed the world!"
Pope Benedict concluded his reflections calling to mind the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, "present before the Cross at Calvary, is likewise present with the Church and as Mother of the Church in each of our Eucharistic celebrations."
"For this reason," he said, "no one better than her can teach us to understand and experience the Mass with faith and love, uniting ourselves to Christ's redeeming sacrifice. When we receive Holy Communion, we too, like Mary and united with her, embrace the wood that Jesus, with His love, transformed into an instrument of salvation, and we pronounce our 'Amen,' our 'yes' to Love that was crucified and rose again."
Vatican City, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - Following the noontime Angelus prayer at his Castelgandolfo summer residence yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI offered prayers for a meeting of heads of State, which will be held in New York City Wednesday to try and respond to problems of violence, poverty, sickness and hunger worldwide.
He also remembered the September 11th terrorist attacks on the U.S. four years ago yesterday, as well as all victims of terrorism in the world.
The Pope noted that the summit will "discuss important themes concerning peace in the world, the respect of human rights, the promotion of development and the strengthening of the United Nations Organization."
The Vatican will be represented at Wednesday's meeting by Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. Noting this, the Pope said: "I fervently pray that the leaders meeting there find appropriate solutions to achieve the great fixed goals, in a spirit of harmony and generous solidarity. I particularly hope that effective concrete measures can be successfully put into effect to respond to the most urgent problems of extreme poverty, sickness and hunger that afflict so many peoples."
The Pope concluded yesterday's time by specifically addressing those present in English saying, "Today, September 11, we remember the victims of terrorist violence throughout the world. May God inspire men and women of goodwill everywhere to renounce hatred and to build a world of justice, solidarity and peace."
Vatican City, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - On Friday, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States, told members of the fifth International Congress of the Pontifical Academy of Theology that the role of the Church in Europe is one of profound importance--both historically and in its teaching about the "ultimate truths of humanity."
The Archbishop spoke on, "The Role of the Church and Christians in the Future of Europe" to members of the Congress, which was held in Krakow, Poland.
Archbishop Lajolo spoke first on "the attention the Popes have given to Europe" which, he said, "has always been lively, constructive and encouraging."
He specifically recalled, among others, Pope Pius XII who "publicly endorsed the idea of forming a European Union," and of the late John Paul II who "played an historical role in assisting that process which started here in Poland and led to the collapse of the unnatural division imposed upon Europe by a materialist ideology and an antihuman power."
The Archbishop also referred to the presence "of the Church as an institution" and "of Christians as members of the Church and citizens of Europe," in the so-called "old continent."
Their presence, he said, is "a human and social reality, openly visible in its religious identity, and not to be confused with any other reality. It would be political forgery if Europe were to ignore such a reality or seek to put it aside."
He then went on to discuss the specific contributions which Catholics and Christians can make to Europe, saying that "the Church is the 'columna et firmamentum veritatis' [pillar and bulwark of the truth], ... a true champion of human reason, capable of reaching not only mathematical truths or truths of the natural physical sciences, but also the ultimate truths about humanity: those truths that alone can reveal the ultimate meaning of human existence and, therefore, allow for the great trends of the spirit."
The Vatican secretary added that the Church is also "'communio caritatis' [communion of charity], ... the communion of all the particular churches with the Church of Rome and among themselves. ... In the Church, as in no other human reality, the unity of all is realized in the diversity of the parts. The Church mirrors the variety of peoples, of their languages, customs and traditions in the oneness of faith and morals. ... Thus, the Church is naturally a factor of unity among different nations."
"Given the fundamental lines of action about which I have just spoken," he said, "it is easy to identify some institutions of different but always significant public importance, to which the Church has given, and will never cease to give, her own specific contribution."
These, the Vatican pointed out are: the family, educational institutions, and health care institutions.
Archbishop Lajolo concluded: "In contemporary pluralistic and ideologically diverse society, Christians must know how to measure and gather their own forces, and then unite their forces to those of other men and women of good will, in the search for a Europe which will be worthy of the spiritual heritage which our fathers have left us, in the search for a Europe as it was dreamed by the great spirits of the twentieth century."
Vatican City, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, head of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, is in the U.S. Gulf Coast this week to express the solidarity of Pope Benedict XVI and the worldwide Church with victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the region nearly two weeks ago.
On Saturday, Archbishop Cordes met with Bishop Robert Muench of Baton Rouge, LA, and Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities U.S.A--which has been assisting with a massive Catholic-based relief effort--to offer support and concrete assistance from the Vatican.
On Sunday, the group celebrated a special Mass in the cathedral of Baton Rouge remembering victims of the hurricane, as well as those who died in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC. That event took place four years ago.
Later in the day, the Holy See delegation - which included Washington DC's Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick - held a series of talks with local bishops of the region and with Louisiana State governor, Kathleen Blanco. They also visited many of those displaced by the catastrophe currently staying in Baton Rouge.
Today, the Archbishop will head to Biloxi, Mississippi, to get a first hand look at devastation in that town before traveling to Washington DC to meet with federal authorities tomorrow.
According to the Vatican, the delegation will return to Rome on September 14.
An official Cor Unum statement said that, "The papal envoy's mission, apart from bringing a sign of Benedict XVI's spiritual and material closeness, also aims to encourage the Catholic institutions involved in relief efforts during the emergency, to contribute to promoting and preparing the way for reconstruction."
According to the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, the aim of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum is to express "the care of the Catholic Church for the needy, thereby encouraging human fellowship and making manifest the charity of Christ."
Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - All eyes, especially those on both sides of the abortion and life-issues debate, will be on the Senate confirmation hearings, set to begin today for Judge John G. Roberts, whom President George Bush has tapped for Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
President Bush surprised many by promoting Roberts--originally tapped to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor--following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist last Saturday.
The National Right to Life began airing a radio commercial today suggesting an undue bias on the part of some Senators with regard to Judge Robert‘s Catholicity and possible stance on abortion.
A statement from the group today said that, “A new broadcast ad…launched today in eight cities in Illinois (13 radio stations), suggests that Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is being unfair in suggesting that Supreme Court nominee John Roberts might be disqualified if Roberts does not accept the legal theory of Roe v. Wade -- even though Durbin himself strongly advocated overturning Roe v. Wade when he was a member of the House of Representatives.”
A heated debate over the role of Robert’s Catholic faith has been at the center of the nomination for some months now, even though the judge has never specifically articulated his stance on abortion.
Many have accused some of the 18 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee of establishing an unconstitutional “religious litmus test” for Roberts because of a distaste for Catholic teaching on abortion and life-issues.
In July, Father Frank Pavone, president of Priests for Life said that, "Anyone familiar with American history and the United States Constitution should be embarrassed by the suggestion that a nominee for the Supreme Court has to run a religious gauntlet on his way to confirmation. Religious convictions are not excess baggage or obstacles on the road to public service."
Hearings for 50-year old Roberts, which were originally scheduled to begin last week, were postponed both due to the hurricane disaster in the U.S. Gulf Coast and to his promotion as nominee for Chief Justice.
St. Paul, Minn., Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, has recorded its highest enrolment in 20 years. Located on the University of St. Thomas campus, St. John Vianney boasts 106 students, reported the Catholic Spirit.
Last year, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, the school also had the highest college seminary enrolment in the country with 84 students.
The performance of St. John Vianney bucks the national trend that has seen declining enrolment in seminaries. Two colleges closed last year.
The 106 students represent 24 dioceses from across the U.S., including 34 students from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. There are 49 new students along with 57 returning students. 4 seniors will live off campus because there isn’t enough room in the dorms.
New students have commented on the welcoming environment of the seminary and the great sense of brotherhood and friendship.
Fr. William Baer attributed the high enrolment to the school’s strong academic formation, Catholic identity, adherence to Church teachings, the sacramental life and moral teaching.
The program also focuses on strong character formation. Fr. Baer said one of the school’s mottos is “boys to men.”
“Students are wholesome, friendly, masculine and mature,” Fr. Baer told the Catholic Spirit. “We tell students not all may be called to priesthood, but all are called to leadership.”
The college seminary expects even more students next year and is looking into increasing its housing.
About one in three men who begin formation at St. John Vianney continue through to ordination, but that ratio is improving and approaching one in two, Fr. Bear told the Catholic Spirit.
He also noted that the students are coming from families and parishes that have a strong commitment to the church and to vocations.
Those interested in the seminary are invited to visit and attend Thursday evening masses at 7 p.m.
For more on the seminary, go to: www.vianney.net
Jerusalem, Israel, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - An “Islamic fundamentalist mafia” has been committing acts of violence and intimidation against Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land, says a document recently submitted by Holy Land Christians to Church leaders in Jerusalem.
Journalist Harry de Quetteville reported Sept. 9 that the document lists 93 alleged incidents of abuse by the mafia and 140 cases in which gangs, backed by corrupt judicial officials, allegedly forced Christians in the West Bank off their land.
One case from 2003 includes the torture and murder of two Christian girls who were deemed prostitutes. An autopsy found that they were virgins.
“The Christian community has always suffered in the last few years because we are a minority,” commented Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Jerusalem's senior Franciscan, “Because of this many Christians seek to leave and the Christian presence in the Holy Land is shrinking.”
Christians currently form about two per cent of the population of the Holy Land. 60 years ago they formed 20 percent.
The confrontation is not with the entire Muslim community, Fr. Pizzaballa clarified, yet Christians have to raise their voices against violations of the law.
Reportedly, attacks on Christians have occurred despite repeated appeals to the Palestinian Authority. The document goes on to accuse the Palestinian Authority of doing nothing to rein in the situation.
A spokesman for the Apostolic Delegate, the Pope's envoy to Jerusalem, confirmed the lack of action on the part of the Palestinian Authority regarding this problem.
"The Apostolic Delegate presented a list of all the problems to Mr. [Yasser] Arafat before he died," he told de Quetteville. "He promised a lot but he did very little."
Samir Qumsieh told de Quetteville that Christian appeals to Arafat's successor as Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, have also gone unanswered.
Qumsieh works at the Christian television station in Bethlehem, but has also been working to repair relations between Palestinian Christians and Muslims through dialogue.
According to Qumsieh, Islamic fundamentalists and the organized criminal establishment are working together.
Dublin, Ireland, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - The Primate of Ireland has called on the Irish government to reach its entire overseas aid target by 2010.
In a pastoral letter dated Sept. 9, Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh said the Irish government must commit to increasing its overseas aid at next week’s General Assembly United Nations meeting on the Millennium Goals, reported the Evening Echo.
Archbishop Brady said Ireland is now a wealthy nation and five years is enough time to reach the aid target.
Government officials have said they intend to announce at the UN summit in New York that Ireland will reach 0.7 percent aid by 2012.
, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - A Catholic college in Montana withdrew an invitation to Planned Parenthood on attending a symposium on life issues last week. Carroll College said the pro-abortion views of the organization conflict with Catholic Church teaching.
The three-day conference, Sept. 15-17, entitled "Science at the Edge of Humanity” will address end-of-life and beginning-of-life issues.
"Planned Parenthood's stance on certain issues, including abortion and reproductive rights, violate Carroll College's mission as a Diocesan Catholic college," College president Tom Trebon told Helena Independent Record. Last week, he called Sarah Fredrickson of Planned Parenthood of Montana and told her she was no longer welcome at the symposium.
"I believe the presence of a representative of Planned Parenthood on a panel at a public gathering on campus would violate the college's mission, mission statement, and commitment to Catholic values and ideals," he continued.
Trebon reportedly discussed the issue with his staff, board members, and various members of the community before making a final decision.
In an effort to maintain balance on the panels, the college also asked Eric Schiedermayer of the Montana Catholic Conference not to attend.
Planned Parenthood said it was disappointed with the decision “as a health-care group.”
Havana, Cuba, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - Nearly five thousand Cubans gathered in Havana on September 8, the feast of Our Lady of Charity, the country’s patroness, to take part in a procession and Mass led by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, who offered prayers for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Similar expressions of faith were seen across Cuba, where the government authorized 60 processions for the Marian feast. One of the largest took place in the capital, where Cubans of all ages filled the streets, which were decorated with flowers and colorful banners. A replica of the statue of Our Lady of Charity led the procession and was met with thunderous applause as it was carried through the streets.
During his homily, Cardinal Ortega mentioned the terrible destruction caused by the hurricane and said the Catholic Church in Cuba is united “in prayer and in support” with those who have been affected.
“There is a huge and painful human problem that is very difficult. All those people who are suffering need prayer and psychological support, and we support them with our hearts,” he said.
Likewise, the cardinal warned, “the human person, faced with a difficult trial, can become terribly hardened, aggressive and violent, but at the same time we see examples of friendship, confraternity, of people committed to helping others.”
According to the cardinal, “this is the path we must always take in life, although we may experience trials and difficulties, limitations and sometimes misery, we cannot live solely in discontent, which will make us bitter.”
Cardinal Ortega prayed to Our Lady of Charity that love would prevail “among all the families of the island, for all the people, for those who govern us” and for “Cubans who live outside the country because they have established residence in other places, for the Virgin is Mother of us all.”
The Miami Herald reported that 12,000 people gathered on September 8 at Miami Arena for a solemn Mass in honor of the patroness of Cuba celebrated by Archbishop John Favarola. Archbishop Juan Garcia Rodriguez of Camagüey, Cuba, gave the homily. Archbishop Garcia also prayed to Mary for “refuge, consolation and hope” for the victims of Katrina, and he prayed for political prisoners and for the re-establishment “of the kingdom of God in Cuba.”
“We bring our political prisoners before Our Lady of Charity and we pray they receive the wine of freedom and of a greater presence of prison ministry,” said the archbishop, whose father was a political prisoner in Cuba. He also prayed to Our Lady of Charity for “the bishops of Cuba, who live, evangelize, suffer and struggle to reestablish the kingdom of God in Cuba.”
On the eve of the Marian feast, Radio Paz, the local Catholic station in Miami, held a radiothon in order to raise money for hurricane victims. Some of the money will be used to repair the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in Miami, which was hit by Hurricane Katrina before it passed into the Gulf of Mexico.
Lima, Peru, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - Peru’s Health Minister, Pilar Mazzetti, tried to discredit the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, last week arguing that only scientists can express an informed opinion about the abortifacient morning-after pill.
Several days ago, Mazzetti given an award by the International Federation of Planned Parenthood for introducing the pill into Peru. She had claimed that it was not abortifacient, even though the world scientific community has not made that determination.
The controversy surround the pill was reignited last week when a judge in Lima placed on injunction on distribution of the pill until the Ministry of Health implements a policy that adequately informs women about its effects and consequences.
In response to Mazzetti’s insistence on distributing the drug, Cardinal Cipriani said Peruvians were being manipulated and denied information. “The information and the science that is divulged must be clear. If people are given poison, that would be discrimination,” he said.
Mazzetti, who some analysts say has made the defending the pill her primary focus, slammed the cardinal saying, “When one speaks of poison one must be a scientist in the field.”
“The institution that ought to determine whether or not something is poisonous is the Ministry of Health. We’re the ones with technical knowledge here, and in December of 2003 we issued a decision regarding this, which is still in force, and therefore the emergency oral contraceptive will continue [to be made available],” she said.
For Dr. Maita Garcia, expert on pro-life issues and member of the government commission that evaluated the potential abortifacient effect of the drug, “one characteristic of our day is that the healthy custom of calling things by their name is being lost. We react badly to words that have a meaning we don’t want to accept because they make us feel bad.”
“It’s sort of like what’s happening with the use of the word ‘poison’ with regard to the morning-after pill. If we stick to the dictionary, the usage of the word is perfectly correct. Poison is a substance that brings about death or serious harm to the body, as well as anything harmful to one’s health,” she added.
“Therefore,” she continued, “it is not so misguided to apply this word to the emergency oral contraceptive because it has not been disproved that it harms the health of the woman nor even less so, that it attacks the life of the human embryo. There is the possibility that for this new human being it really is poison.”
The spokesman for the Peruvian bishops’ Committee on the Family, Maggela Tejada, stated, “Keeping in mind that poison kills, it could be said that levonorgestrel (the essential substance in the morning-after pill) is poison because it kills the embryo.”
“We know that the morning-after pill has three potential effects on the body of the woman and one of them is that it can prevent implantation of the ovum. This means that the fertilized ovum can be eliminated, that is, it would die as a result of this drug,” he said.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - Archbishop Emeritus Carmelo Giaquinta of Resistencia warned this week that the evils that threaten Christians are the same that threaten the Church, in particular, unpleasantness or “bad spirits” and “sadness.”
Regarding “bad spirits,” who Archbishop Giaquinta explained that “there are Christians who see spirits all over the place. There aren’t too many such people in the Catholic Church, but there are some. There are others don’t see them anywhere, but they aren’t aware of the bad spirit they themselves have. This problem is very widespread in the Church and we need good pastoral teaching to show it and to get rid of it, because it causes much harm to the one who is possessed by it and who flirts with it.”
“It manifests itself in various ways, and one characteristic is grumpiness. There are people who are daily communicants but yet live in a permanent state of unpleasantness regarding the Church. Nothing the Church does satisfies them, as if they were not part of it. This unpleasantness is particularly focused against the Pope and other pastors,” Archbishop Giaquinta noted.
He added that one who is suffering from a “bad spirit” is not always “aware of it, as the person seems to be normal and thinks he or she is doing good and even offers solutions for the problems he or she sees,” and he added that such individuals are not usually found among the poor and simple, but among “the educated and the consecrated.”
Referring to sadness, Archbishop Giaquinta said it manifests itself mainly in a lack of “apostolic enthusiasm,” and in the family it is apparent in “troubled marriages, where couples have forgotten about their first love and are only putting up with one another. Another characteristic is constant grumbling about the problems in the Church. They have explanations for everything, but the fault always lies with someone else. Never with them.”
Lastly, the archbishop called on Christians to seek renewal, for where “there is no joy, the Holy Spirit is absent.”
Madrid, Spain, Sep 12, 2005 (CNA) - During a special Mass in honor of Our Lady of the Choir, Bishop Juan Maria Uriarte of San Sebastian, Spain, called for a rediscovery of the vocation to motherhood and consecrated virginity for women.
Celebrating Mass at the Cathedral of Santa Maria in San Sebastian, the bishop noted the importance of women in society and their complementarity with man. “It is said, and rightly so, that Europe must breathe with both lungs: West and East. It is not less true to say that the life of our society must breathe in all aspects with its two lungs: male and female.”
Bishop Uriarte said the Church not only defends a woman’s decision to have a career, but also her call to motherhood and consecrated virginity. Motherhood, he noted, “transforms woman and brings the best out of her: generosity, self-denial, commitment, motives for living and struggling.” Thus “the low esteem shown to motherhood is a psychological mutilation of the feminine soul.”
Regarding consecrated virginity, Bishop Uriarte said it is something “different from the single life. When it is lived adequately it impregnates the entire feminine sensibility and opens it to God, and it is a source of tenderness and service for all those who are especially in need.” Nevertheless, he lamented, “vocational or consecrated virginity is so unappreciated in society and among young women.”
While he noted that the rights of women in society and the workplace “are being recognized,” he pointed out as well that in many ways male chauvinism is still present. Nevertheless, the bishop said, flagrant expressions of scorn towards women are today overall recognized as wrong.
Bishop Uriarte also pointed to the situation of many domestic employees who do not receive adequate and just pay, of many widows who are given unsatisfactory pensions, and that the opportunities given to women to balance their roles as mothers and as members of the workforce are “in practice insufficient.”