Vatican City, Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to some 26,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for today's general audience, Pope Benedict demonstrated how God's closeness to the people of Israel through the Old Testament Ark of the Covenant paved the way to the Messiah who was to come and "dwell among us."
The Pope focused his reflections on the second part of Psalm 131, "the choice of David and of Zion," a canticle which, he said, "evokes a crucial event in the history of Israel: the transfer of the Ark of the Lord to the city of Jerusalem."
Pope Benedict noted that King David "had made a vow not to dwell in the royal palace if he had not first found a resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, the sign of the presence of the Lord alongside His people."
"That oath of the king", the Pope said, "is now answered by God's own promise: 'the Lord swore to David a sure oath from which He will not turn back'."
The Holy Father explained that "the promise and the gift of God ... must find a response in mankind's faithful and active adherence, in a dialogue that integrates two freedoms: the divine and the human."
The psalm, he said, then "becomes a hymn exalting the marvelous effects both of the gift of the Lord and of the faithfulness of Israel. In fact, the Lord's presence among the people will be felt: He will be like one more inhabitant among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, like a citizen who, with other citizens, experiences the events of history, yet offering the power of His blessing."
The Pope said that not only is the meaning of the Psalm valuable in and of itself, but at its heart, it points us to the coming of the Christ--God, come to be with His people in a new way.
In this second part of the psalm, as in the first, he said, there appears "the figure of the 'Anointed One,' in Hebrew 'Messiah,' thus linking descent from David to Messianism which, in the Christian re-reading, is fulfilled in the figure of Christ."
"Psalm 131", he points out, "becomes, then, a celebration of God-Emmanuel Who remains with His creatures, living with them and benefiting them, so long as they remain united to Him in truth and justice. The spiritual core of this hymn is already a prelude to St. John's proclamation: 'And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us'."
Vatican City, Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - Among the nearly 26,000 pilgrims present for the Pope's general audience today in St. Peter's Square were representatives from the UEFA and "Gioco Calcio" sport federations, to whom the Holy Father spoke of the spiritual importance of sport--activities which, he said, can bring respect, loyalty and solidarity between peoples.
The Pope gave a special greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims present at today's audience, and addressed delegations from the executive committee of UEFA and from the Italian "Gioco Calcio" Federation, who were accompanied by a large group of young people.
Youth from 16 countries, accompanied by their respective ambassadors, are currently in Italy participating in the "Calcio-Cares" project, which is being organized in collaboration with the Pontifical "Cor Unum" Council.
Pope Benedict told the group that, "Your presence gives me the opportunity to shed light on the importance of sport, a discipline which, if practiced in respect for the rules, becomes an educational instrument and a vehicle for important human and spiritual values."
"May today's initiative", he said, "also serve to revitalize in each of you the commitment to ensure that sport contributes to building a society characterized by mutual respect, loyalty of behavior, and solidarity between peoples and cultures."
, Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - Mons. Emmanuel III Delly, the Patriarch of Baghdad for the Catholic Chaldeans, has met the President and Prime Minister of Iraq saying that the Catholic bishops were opposed to key elements of the draft permanent constitution.
The Patriarch argues the constitution will “opens the door widely“ to discrimination against Christians and other Non-Muslims. Patriarch Delly urged a last-minute change to the constitution, which the bishops say contradicts itself on the key question of religious rights for minorities.
In the Sept. 18 meeting, the Patriarch discussed a statement agreed by the country’s 12 bishops in which they stressed their fears for the future of the Christian community. The prelates – from the Chaldean, Armenian, Latin and Assyrian Churches – praised articles 2.1 (b) and 2.2 which defend freedom and religious rights but attacked article 2.1 (a) which states: “No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam.”
The bishops’ statement concluded: “The bishops’ conference expressed a grave concern and fear…about Article 2.1 (a). This opens the door widely to passing laws that are unjust towards non-Muslims. The conference insists that this clause be amended or deleted.”
Releasing the statement to the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Mgr Andreas Abouna, Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad, said: “We are definitely not against the fact that in Iraq Islam is the religion of the state. We know that the majority in Iraq is Muslim but the problem is that the constitution is not clear. There are parts of the constitution that are good but what about the other parts? For example, would Christian women have to wear the veil?”
The bishops’ concerns for the protection of Christian rights are centered less on the immediate future because the country’s rulers had expressed clear goodwill to non-Muslims. Rather, their fears are that should the Iraqi government become less tolerant, Christians would not be protected by the “vague” constitution, as it now stands. The constitution will be put to the vote in a referendum on Oct. 15.
St. Louis, Mo., Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to young people gathered for a monthly coffeehouse at a St. Louis-area parish last weekend, Archbishop Raymond Burke said that today’s young people need to be on the forefront of the Church’s “New Evangelization” and call to transform the culture.
According to the St. Louis Review, the Archbishop told the youth that "There is among you a tremendous thirst to know more deeply the Gospel, the Church and to experience (Christ’s) presence in the Church."
He lamented that modern culture has become "completely secularized," and told the audience: "you have so much to contribute to the transformation of the Church and society."
Recalling the late Pope John Paul II, who began calling young people to his vision of a New Evangelization, Archbishop Burke said “We are called to live our faith with a new enthusiasm and new energy."
John Paul, he noted called us "to recover the enthusiasm and energy of the first Christians."
The Archbishop said that after his 1975 ordination, he noticed a failure of catechetics in the Church--especially among young Catholics.
"I think we failed in those years to do an effective catechesis,” he said. "Children didn’t know their prayers."
But, Archbishop Burke said to the young people, "it’s your generation above all that tells me you want to know the missing pieces. You have the enthusiasm and energy." The way to evangelize today’s culture, he said, is through "Jesus Christ Himself."
"The difficulty with a lot of programs”, he continued, “is they lead us to think the renewal of the Church is in some kind of formula, activity or event."
But, he said, echoing the late John Paul, "we shall not be saved by a formula, but by a person."
Courtney White, one of the attendees, told the Review after the presentation:
"It’s so exciting that we have an archbishop who is so full of life and faith"
"The cornerstone (of faith)”, she said, “has to be our relationship with Christ — and highlighted with the Eucharist."
Pittsburgh, Pa., Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - Religious voices must play a role in shaping public policy, Catholic leaders said Monday at a symposium on faith and politics at Duquesne University. More than 300 people attended.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., and respected writer and intellectual Fr. Richard John Neuhaus separately stated the need for civil and religious voice to share in the creation of public policy, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The two leaders, often depicted on opposite sides of the left-right spectrum, also agreed that partisans on all sides in society need to steer clear of dehumanizing the opposition with ridicule and need to lower their anger level.
Neuhaus, a former Lutheran who was active in the civil rights movement, cited Martin Luther King. "Dr. King used to say: 'Whom you would change, you must first love, and they must know that you love them.' In these great contentions in the public square ... that is how we ought to be perceived, we Christians and Catholic Christians."
Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh proposed that the U.S. bishops consult with each other before taking public stands on Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.
In interviews with the Post-Gazette Cardinal McCarrick endorsed Bishop Wuerl’s proposal, calling it “right on target” and saying that he expects it to receive significant attention from the bishops.
Cardinal McCarrick shares Bishop Wuerl's view that Catholic legislators who support abortion rights should not ask to receive Communion, but that the priest should not refuse them Communion if they come forward.
Cardinal McCarrick also urged Catholics to study official Church documents in order to avoid interpretations in the media and by advocacy groups that distort Church teaching.
Fr. Neuhaus told the Post-Gazette he did not endorse Bishop Wuerl’s position and praised the bishops who said they would not allow presidential candidate John Kerry to receive Communion. He said this was not the only response to the problem, and that bishops had to show pastoral care and concern for the politician in every case.
Boston, Mass., Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - The four Catholic bishops of Massachusetts have endorsed ''Protect Marriage Sunday" — a one-day signature-gathering campaign that organizers hope will advance a 2008 ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage. The bishops have or will soon send letters to parishioners urging them to sign the petition.
A letter to this effect from Archbishop Sean O'Malley of Boston is expected in parishes this weekend, reported the Boston Globe.
''As faithful citizens, we have a moral obligation to defend the truth, no matter how counter-cultural or unappreciated our convictions might be," Bishop George Coleman of Fall River wrote in his letter to parishioners. ''The time is upon us to take a stand and to act, lovingly but firmly, to restore and defend the truth about marriage."
Christians of various denominations will participate in the coordinated effort on Oct. 2, and gather signatures at masses and worship services throughout the state. Organizers are seeking 120,000 signatures.
They are hopeful that enough signatures will be gathered on that day. Still, some churches are launching petition drives this weekend.
The Massachusetts Catholic Conference, Massachusetts Family Institute and Catholic Citizenship are backing the petition.
Larry Cirignano, executive director of Catholic Citizenship, told the Globe that he is confident the one-day campaign will be successful. However, he added, that it won’t be without opposition from some gay-rights activists, who are considering conducting ''truth-squadding," in which they shadow signature-gatherers and try to persuade people not to sign.
The signature campaign is also being opposed by the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry, a group of more than 600 clergy, congregations, and faith-based organizations representing 21 denominations.
Last week, a separate 2006 measure that would have outlawed same-sex marriage and created civil unions was defeated in the Legislature.
Washington D.C., Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - Earlier today, a faith-based human rights coalition seeking an end to genocides and violence in the Darfur region of Sudan sent a letter to President George Bush urging immediate action to end the crisis.
The alliance, which consists of 134 religious and humanitarian groups including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, pointed out today that “In just over two years, the Sudanese Government and its paramilitary allies have killed more than 400,000 people, driven 2.5 million from their homes, and left 3.5 million without the food they need to sustain themselves.”
They have likewise called for a National Day of Action for the People of Darfur to be held today.
In their letter to the president, addressed September 21st, they wrote that “There is a moral imperative to respond to these atrocities.”
“An effective response”, the letter continued, “must pursue four basic goals: protect innocent civilians; provide humanitarian aid to those in need; hold the perpetrators of violence accountable; and ensure that those forced from their homes can return in a safe, voluntary, and dignified manner.”
Noting that the president’s words and actions strongly suggest support for an end to the crisis, the group thanked the U.S. for taking the lead in humanitarian efforts, but stressed that much more is needed.
Specifically, they asked for the president to forcefully speak out against the atrocities, press China and other nations to support an international effort to end the crisis, urge a U.N. mandate to help the U.S. support and protect the African Union Mission in Sudan, and instruct the State Department to issue frequent updates on progress in the region.
Bishop John H. Ricard, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, and Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Policy, said today that, “On this National Day of Action, we urge continuing pressure by the international community, including the African Union, on the government in Khartoum, the Janjaweed militias and the rebel forces to cease military operations and provide safe corridors for the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance.”
He added that “the crisis in Darfur must be ended. We cannot stand idly by while human life is threatened. The United States and the international community can and must do more to end this moral and humanitarian crisis. We continue to offer our prayers that the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Darfur may end soon.”
Tampa, Fla., Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - Vocation directors will gather for a three-day convention this week. “Called to Follow the Son” will take place Sept. 25-28 at the Marriott Waterside Hotel in downtown Tampa. It has been organized by members of the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors ( NCDVD) Region XIV.
Organizers say they have planned a “top-notch” convention, featuring Fr. Francis Moloney, SDB, professor and dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America; Fr. Mark O'Keefe, OSB, president and rector of St. Meinrad School of Theology, and George Weigel, senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Vocation directors will participate in a number of practical workshops. There are also pre-convention workshops for new vocation directors and those interested in candidate assessment.
For more information : http://www.ncdvd.org/
Washington D.C., Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - Two forums on immigration in the Diocese of Yakima, Washington, will seek to promote greater communication between officials and the public and provide information on immigration laws and policies, immigration consumer protection and human trafficking.
The Immigration and Naturalization Community Concerns Committee for the Diocese of Yakima will hold the forums on Friday and Sunday, reported the Yakima Herald-Republic.
Friday's all-day English-language meeting at Holy Family Gathering Hall will feature Matthew Adams, attorney with the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in Seattle; Norma Chavez of the U.S. Attorney General's Office; and Gillian Apfel, attorney with the New-York based International Rescue Committee. The cost is $20.
Sunday’s Spanish-language presentation is at St. Aloysius Parish Hall, from 3 p.m.-5:30. Free will donations are accepted.
Pre-registration is available. For more information, e-mail: [email protected]
Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - After a meeting with Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, the new Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela, Archbishop Giacinto Berloco, said there were “many points of convergence and many prospects for collaboration” between the government and the Holy See.
During the meeting, Archbishop Berloco communicated the greetings of Pope Benedict XVI to the Venezuelan government. Later, he told reporters his mission was “to strengthen the relations between the Church in Venezuela and the Holy See,” as well as with the country’s leaders.
Moreover, he said he hoped “to be a facilitator” when issues need to be addressed or situations improved. “It is very good that this understanding and mutual collaboration exist,” he added. Archbishop Berloco also noted the improvement in relations between the Holy See and Venezuela in recent months due to the naming of a new Venezuelan ambassador to the Vatican, Ivan Rincon.
On the other hand, the archbishop recalled that differences between the two parties should be resolved through dialogue. “The parties involved should enter into discussions so that a just solution can be found and understanding be maintained. Collaboration is important for the people of a country,” he stated.
Warsaw, Poland, Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - After an extensive debate on the influence of the mass media on young peoples’ vision of reality, the European Bishops’ Commission on the Media concluded its general meeting in Warsaw this week.
According to statements to Europa Press by the representative of the Bishops of Spain, Jose Maria Gil, the event brought together spokesman of the different Bishops’ Conferences of Europe, as well as a number of experts on the media, in order to discuss the vision young people have of reality and the language used by the media to transmit the faith.
Gil added that the subject of the media’s impact on young people was especially relevant this year due to the recent World Youth Day in Germany and because the bishops’ meeting took place in Warsaw, the capital of the country where John Paul II was born.
Archbishop Leszek Slawoj Glodz of Warsaw led the bishops’ meeting, and attendees included Archbishop John Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and the Apostolic Nuncio of Poland, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk.
In his address at the meeting, the Dean of the Department of Communications at the Catholic University of San Antonio in Murcia, Spain, Arturo Merayo, noted the values and counter values of the media for young people, as well as the challenges for the Church in regards to the “evangelization of the information society.”
He also recalled that the counter values the media continuously promote to young people include “consumerism, relativism and individualism.”
, Sep 21, 2005 (CNA) - The Secretary General of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Emeritus Fabian Marulanda, has requested that the Attorney General of Colombia speed up the investigation into a Spanish priest who has been accused of having ties to the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Father Ricardo Lorenzo Cantalapiedra was detained by authorities in August and has been held on suspicion of being a front man for the rebel group. “The slow pace of Colombian justice has not allowed the juridical situation of this priest to be clarified,” Bishop Marulanda said, adding that for the bishops, the relationship between Father Cantalapiedra and the FARC is only “circumstantial,” as for the past two years the priest has been pastor of church in the region of La Uribe, where there is a large presence of armed rebels.
The priest’s family in Spain sent a letter to Colombia’s Attorney General, Mario Iguaran, asking for “impartial observers,” because “nobody is guilty until proven otherwise.”
The Colombian radio station Caracol reported that Father Cantalapiedra has been under house arrest at the Salesian Provincial House in Bogota and that a hearing has been set for September 23 to review the accusations against him.