Vatican City, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican published this week-end the full list of the special auditors invited as "audiutores Secretarii specialis" (or experts) and “auditors”(auditors) for the forthcoming Eleventh General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, that will take place in October. Among them are representatives of English-speaking congregations and lay associations such as Carl Albert Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Order of the Knights of Columbus, and Fr. Francis Moloney, S.D.B., of the department of biblical studies at the Catholic University of America, Washington.
Along with the 57 invited as observers and experts are also Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and sacramental theology at the "Regina Apostolorum" Pontifical Athenaeum, Rome. Msgr. Peter John Elliott, director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Melbourne, and member of the International Council for Catechesis, Australia
Six Latin-Americans were invited, two priests and four lay. Fr Manuel Gonzalez from Mexico, professor of Theological Anthropology at Faculty of Theology in Mexico, Father Ignacio Gramsch Labra, parish vicar of San Luis Beltran de Pudahuel in Santiago de Chile; archdiocesan assessor for the pastoral care of acolytes, Chile; Leonardo Casco, president of the "Alianza para la Familia," Honduras; Martha Lorena Casco, president of the "Comite por la Vida," Honduras; Moyses Lauro De Azevedo Filho, founder and moderator general of the Shalom Catholic community, Brazil; Luis Fernando Figari, founder of "Sodalitium Vitae Christianae", Peru.
These special auditors, are invited along with the Cardinals and Bishops which names were announced two weeks ago by the Vatican. Together they will meditate on the following theme : “The Eucharist source and summit of the mission of the church.” The Synod will mark the end of the Year of the Eucharist, an initiative of late Pope John Paul II.
Vatican City, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - On Saturday, the Vatican released a summary of the busy winter schedule awaiting Pope Benedict. Several groundbreaking events, including the 11th General Synod of Bishops, marking the close of the Year of the Eucharist, and a number of beatifications which the Holy Father will preside over, are scheduled for the coming months.
The calendar was produced by the Holy See's Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, and commences with the opening of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be held on the morning of October 2nd in the Vatican Basilica.
On Saturday, the 15th, the Pope will meet and pray in St. Peter's Square with children who are receiving their First Communion.
He will preside over the closing of the Bishop's Synod and officially close the Year of the Eucharist, originally instituted by John Paul II, on Sunday October 23rd at 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square. World Mission Day will also be held that day as well as the canonization of Blesseds Jozef Bilczewski, Gaetano Catanoso, Zygmunt Gorazdowski, Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, and Felice da Nicosia.
In November, on Friday the 11th, the Holy Father will offer a Mass for the repose of the souls of cardinals and bishops who died during the year at the altar of Cathedra at the Vatican Basilica. Likewise, he will offer first vespers on Saturday the 26th at 5 p.m. in the Basilica.
For December, the schedule includes the celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on the 8th. That same day at 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope will offer Mass for the 40th anniversary of the closing of Vatican Council II. Then, at 4 p.m. in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, he will offer traditional homage to Mary Immaculate.
On Sunday the 18th, the 4th Sunday of Advent, he will make a pastoral visit to a Roman parish.
Christmas celebrations will commence on Saturday, the 24th with the Vigil for the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. He will preside over Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
The next day, on Sunday the 25th, he will celebrate the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord, and will give the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing at midday from the central loggia of the Basilica.
On the 31st, the Pope will close the year with first vespers, in which he will offer thanksgiving for the past year.
The Liturgical Celebration office also announced a number of beatifications approved by the pontiff for October through December.
On Sunday, October 9th at 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica, the beatification of Servant of God Cardinal Clemens August von Galen will take place, followed by the beatification of Servants of God Josep Tapies, six companions martyrs, and Maria de los Angeles Ginard Marti on the 26th.
On Sunday, the 6th of November, the beatification of Servant of God Eurosia Fabris will take place in the Cathedral of Vincenza, Italy. Then, on November 13th, Servants of God Charles de Foucauld, Maria Pia Mastena, and Maria Crocifissa Curcio will each be beatified at the Vatican.
Lastly, on Sunday, the 20th, the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time and Solemnity of Christ the King, the beatification of Servants of God Anacleto Gonzalez Flores and seven companions, Jose Trinidad Rangel, Andres Sola Molist, Leonardo Perez, Dario Acosta Zurita, and Jose Sanchez del Rio will all take place in the Cathedral of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Vatican City, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - Following yesterday's Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI offered his prayers for victims in the battered U.S. Gulf Coast who had just suffered through a second major hurricane, Hurricane Rita, even as they still struggle to recover from the devastation of Katrina.
"Our thoughts", said the Pope, "go especially to those who are affected by the natural disasters in the United States and other parts of the world."
He invited all present to join with him "in prayer to the Lord for all who suffer, for the victims and their loved ones, and for the rescue workers.
The Holy Father specifically called on Spanish-speaking faithful to help those afflicted by the natural disasters "collaborating effectively, with a generous spirit and Christian charity, to mitigate pain and overcome adversity."
Officials in the area say that some 3 million residents were evacuated from the path of Rita which struck over the weekend, thus avoiding many of the fatalities caused by Katrina in the New Orleans region. Nevertheless, millions remain homeless today as the speculated worst hurricane season in U.S. history continues to barrel on.
Washington D.C., Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - Two faith-based advocacy groups are calling on the Senate to use its upcoming floor vote on Judge John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court to set “the right tone” for the next judicial nominee.
In a letter to Senators Frist, Reid, Specter and Leahy, Fidelis president Joseph Cella and Center for Jewish Values president Jeff Ballabon urged senators to be on guard for statements or questions about Roberts' personal beliefs or values.
Delivered Friday, the letter warned that further questions or statements about Roberts' faith during deliberations on the Senate floor could give rise to new attacks on President George W. Bush's choice to replace Sandra Day O'Connor.
“We have been quite pleased with the respectful decorum of the confirmation process thus far," said Cella in a press release. “However, it is imperative that the leadership in the Senate preserve the integrity of this process as we prepare for another nominee.”
The letters asked senators to keep in mind Article XVI, Clause III of the Constitution that prohibits a religious test for public office.
“Questions about a nominee's religious beliefs, values, or private judgments give rise to anti-religious bigotry, and border on an unconstitutional litmus test," said Cella.
"It should be made clear that neither Judge Roberts nor the next nominee is running for political office and neither should be subjected to questions that have more to do with the particular policy preferences of individual Senators."
Brussels, Belgium, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - At the first meeting of its kind, European and United States bishops gathered to discuss the world’s major problems and to consider how their partnership can help bring about peace and justice in the world.
“We are here to foster better understanding between the United States of America and Europe,” said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C.
Representatives from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) met in Brussels Sept. 21-23 to explore a range of issues.
Their agenda included the cause of peace in the Balkans and the Holy Land; the challenge of global security; the promotion of development in Africa; the need for inter-religious dialogue with Islam; the plight of migrants and refugees; and the role of religion in public life, reported the COMECE Web site.
The bishops expressed their support for the Millennium Development Declaration and their hope that the United Nations will undertake the necessary reforms to eliminate poverty. They called for a new momentum for development in Africa and discussed the possibility of working together to follow the G7/8 agenda.
The bishops also applauded the progress made in the Middle East Peace Process and reaffirmed their solidarity with the Church in the Holy Land. They said inter-religious dialogue is essential to securing peace in the world and reflected on the relationship between Christianity and Islam.
Finally, they addressed the role of religion in public life. They acknowledged the respective roles of Church and State but said religion cannot be confined to the private sphere.
At the close of the meeting, the bishops pledged to continue their dialogue.
Other U.S. bishops at the meeting included Archbishop John Myers of Newark and Bishops Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, William Murphy of Rockville Center, and John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee.
Washington D.C., Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - A series of recent polls over the last two years indicates that a majority of United States residents identify themselves as pro-life, support restrictions on abortion and do not support abortion on demand. Half of U.S. residents said they believe abortion is morally wrong.
In an International Communications Research Poll, conducted in May 2005, 52 percent of respondents said they opposed abortion and 36 percent were in favor. Twelve percent said they didn’t know.
Woman Trend conducted a poll in April 2005 and found that 62 percent of respondents fell into the pro-life category: 17 percent said abortion should never be legal; 14 percent said abortion should be legal only when the life of the mother is in danger; 31 percent said abortion should be legal only when the mother’s life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest.
The same study found that only 35 percent of Americans were pro-choice. Of these, only 10 percent said abortion should be legal for any reason at any time during a woman’s pregnancy. The remaining believed restrictions—either after three months or six months—should be imposed.
In a Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, conducted during the same period, 47 percent of people identified themselves as “more pro-life” and 44 percent identified themselves as “more pro-choice.”
A Wirthlin Worldwide post-election poll in November 2004 got even higher results, with 55 percent of respondents identifying themselves as pro-life and only 40 percent saying they were pro-choice.
A two-year study by Princeton Research Associates found that only 17 percent of Americans thought abortion should be generally available to those who want it. Fifty-one percent said it should only be allowed in cases of rape or incest, if the life of the woman is endangered, or not at all. Thirty percent of Americans believed there should be stricter limits on abortion.
And when Gallup asked 1,000 American adults in May 2004 whether abortion is morally acceptable or wrong regardless of whether it should be legal, 50 percent said it was morally wrong; 40 percent said it was morally acceptable. Eight percent said it depends on the situation.
Since Roe vs. Wade became law 32 years ago, there have been more than 43 million abortions in the U.S.
Dover, Pa., Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - 11 local parents are taking the tiny Dover, Pennsylvania school district to federal court today, arguing that Intelligent Design should not be taught as a viable option to the theory of evolution in the area’s science classrooms.
The Dover Area School District will begin defending a policy, established in 2004, which requires students to be exposed to the idea that evolution is an ultimately unproven theory, and that many believe an active creator to be at the center of the shaping of the universe.
11 parents from the district filed the suit alleging that noting Intelligent Design is a thinly veiled attempt to promote religion in public schools.
Others however, including Vienna’s Cardinal Christopher Schoenborn, as he said in a recent New York Times editorial, think that recent versions of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution are actually atheistic in nature and actively leave no room for the existence of a creator.
Richard Thomson, chief counsel and president of the Thomas More Law Center, is representing the district and says that Dover’s policy is a modest one.
"All the Dover school board did”, Thomson says, as quoted in the Washington Post, “was allow students to get a glimpse of a controversy that is really boiling over in the scientific community."
John West, a senior fellow at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute, a think tank which promotes intelligent design told the Post that the Dover case is an attempt to squelch any debate over evolution theories.
"It's Scopes [monkey trial] in reverse,” he said. “They're going to get a gag order to be placed on teachers across the country."
Raleigh, N.C., Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - Young Catholics displaced from their homes in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina have found a sense of comfort and normalcy at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh.
Two weeks ago, Raleigh’s only Catholic high school welcomed six students from Louisiana with book bags full of school supplies, gift certificates and sweatshirts with the school logo, reported X. In all, about a dozen Louisiana children have enrolled in Catholic schools.
Parishes have also been active collecting funds. At Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown Raleigh, parishioners raised $31,000 in one weekend, twice the amount they raised for the tsunami in December. St. Michael the Archangel in Cary raised $85,000. The funds raised will go to Catholic Charities USA.
But Catholics in Raleigh aren’t only helping other Catholics. Following the call of the Gospel to help all of the poor and destitute, they are working with other groups to care for all Katrina victims, regardless of their faith.People before churches
Louisiana has the highest percentage of Catholics of any state in the South—about 53 percent. As a result, the Catholic community, with all of its churches and schools, is facing .a huge reconstruction project.
About one-third of the Archdiocese of New Orleans' 142 churches suffered severe water damage. The archdiocese is planning a parish-partnering program. Churches across the country are invited to adopt churches devastated by the hurricane and help them to rebuild.
More important, however, is the effort to reunite families and give children a sense of normalcy, said Archbishop Alfred Hughes of the New Orleans.
"We're putting people before the reconstruction of buildings," he said in an interview with X last week. "We're attempting to help people move through the pilgrimage from being victims to being victors for the Lord,” he said from Baton Rouge, where the archdiocesan offices are temporarily located.
Konigstein, Germany, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - A well-known Chilean priest warned last week that presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet, the frontrunner in the country’s upcoming election, “does not share the Church’s values.”
According to Father Mariano Irrureta, provincial superior of the Schoenstatt Fathers in Chile, “If she is elected, Bachelet might promote the secularization of Chilean society. After the legalization of divorce, it would be interesting ‘to see what comes next’ in as much as family values are concerned” in her agenda.
During a visit to Aid to the Church in Need in Germany, Father Irrureta noted the “good relationship” between Bachelet and Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. “What has happened in Spain could happen in Chile,” he warned.
Regarding the Church’s situation in the country, Father Irrureta explained that “the media and its influence on people, their mentality and values, are the greatest challenge for the Church. In order to counteract the effect of religious sects at this level, the Church must strengthen its commitment.”
Lima, Peru, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Cuzco, Peru, organized the First Children’s Congress on the Eucharist on September 25, bringing together more than 1,500 children who are preparing to receive First Communion in order to encourage them in their faith commitment.
The event was organized as part of the archdiocese’s celebration of the Year of the Eucharist.
During the event, children were exhorted to a greater commitment to know and love Christ in the Eucharist, to pray for the children of the world, the make sacrifices for the missions, to be missionaries in their families and in other areas of their lives.
Archbishop Juan Antonio Ugarte Perez of Cuzco welcomed the children to the event and spoke to them about the love of God and Christ’s desire to “let the children come unto Me.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - During a Mass commemorating the diocese’s feast day, Bishop Luis Stöckler of Quilmes, Argentina, said participation in Sunday Mass is important because “without the Sunday celebration we would lose our identity.”
Bishop Stöckler recalled that the coming of the Holy Spirit occurred on a Sunday, fifty days after the Resurrection. “Since then never in her 2,000 year history has the Church failed to celebrate the memorial of the Resurrection,” he said.
“Sunday has assumed a symbolic value that expresses the newness of the Christian mystery. In truth, without the Sunday celebration we would lose our identity,” he continued.
The Sunday celebration, the bishop warned, should not get lost in the context of the weekend. While the weekend is a time of rest that is “certainly necessary and beneficial,” for Christians Sunday is “a true sanctification of the Lord’s day.”
He also warned that those who “deliberately miss Sunday Mass without a serious reason should be aware that they are committing a very serious sin of omission.”
On the other hand, Bishop Stöckler noted that the right to rest implies the right to work, and therefore he said those who are unemployed and thus “are forced to spend the workweek in inactivity” should not be forgotten.
He also called on the faithful to strive “for a society in which everyone has a place,” as “it is very difficult to enjoy Sunday without having earned a living through hard work.”
Santiago, Chile, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - More than 20,000 people are expected to participate in a vigil on October 22, the eve of the canonization of Father Alberto Hurtado, at the saint-to-be’s shrine in Santiago. The Chilean priest will be canonized on October 23 by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s in Rome.
According to organizers of the vigil, the faithful will begin to gather around 10pm local time on Saturday, October 22, in the plaza facing Father Hurtado’s shrine. The prayer vigil will be led by Bishop Gonzalo Duarte of Valparaiso.
On October 23 at 10am, thousands of families will participate in a Mass at the shrine in thanksgiving for the future saint’s canonization.
The executive secretary of the Commission for the Canonization of Blessed Hurtado, Father Cristian Precht, noted that during the entire month of October will be a month of joy for Chileans in honor of the famous priest who “invites all to travel on the road to sanctity with him.”
He also said that various other dioceses in the country are planning similar vigils and thanksgiving Masses.
The rector of the Shrine of Blessed Hurtado, Father Juan Carlos Bussenius, expressed his desire that the Shrine and its plaza be a place of welcome for all who will feel blessed during that weekend.
“The idea is that the vigil be a place to celebrate, to pray and better know the multiple facets of Father Hurtado and his spiritual and pastoral legacy. The Mass will be a great celebration in which everyone will give thanks to God for the gift Father Hurtado,” he added.
Vatican City, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - Pope Benedict has met dissident liberal theologian Hans Kueng in the latest move by the new pontiff to repair ties with prominent critics of the Vatican.
A Vatican statement on Monday said the meeting with Kueng, one of the Catholic Church's most prominent dissenters, was friendly and avoided "the persistent dispute over doctrinal questions" straining his ties to Rome since the late 1970s.
Kueng, a Swiss priest who has known the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger since 1957, said the German-born Pontiff had responded quickly to his request for a talk.
Kueng, 77, was banned from teaching Catholic theology 26 years ago by Benedict's predecessor Pope John Paul after he rejected papal infallibility. Tuebingen University kept him on as a professor of ecumenical theology.
The Vatican said the talks on Saturday at the Pope's summer residence south of Rome focused on ethical and scientific issues, with both agreeing on the need for inter-faith dialogue. "The Pope appreciated Professor Kueng's effort to contribute to a renewed recognition of essential human values through dialogue with religions," the Vatican said.
"For his part, Professor Kueng praised the Pope's efforts to favor dialogue among religions and also his meeting of different social groups from the modern world."
The meeting came a month after Benedict met the head of a breakaway ultra-traditionalist Catholic group in an effort to heal wounds and seek eventual reconciliation.
Both Kueng and Benedict served as theological advisers to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the central event in the Church's process of modernization in the 20th Century. Ironically, Kueng recruited Benedict, at the time a theology professor in Bonn, for a chair in dogmatic theology at Tuebingen in 1966 and defended him strongly against opponents.
Vatican City, Sep 26, 2005 (CNA) - In his last Sunday angelus prayer at the papal Castelgandolfo summer residence before his return to the Vatican later this week, Pope Benedict said yesterday that the response of the faithful in receiving the Eucharist must be one of concrete love, conversion, and forgiveness.
Thousands of pilgrims had gathered to pray the Angelus in the internal courtyard of the pontifical residence and hear the Pope's continuing reflections on the Eucharistic mystery.
The Holy Father told them that charity "does not primarily mean the beneficial act or sentiment, but the spiritual gift, the love of God that the Holy Spirit pours into the human heart, moving it to give itself in turn to God and to others."
He stressed that "Jesus' entire earthly existence, from conception to death on the cross, was a single act of love" and pointed to the fact that "we can sum up our faith in these words: 'Jesus Caritas,' Jesus Love."
The Pope then recalled that during the Last Supper, the Lord entrusted the disciples with "His precious legacy, the Eucharist."
"In the Eucharist", he said, "the Lord gives Himself to us with His body, His soul and His divinity, and we become one with Him and among ourselves. Our response to His love must, therefore, be a concrete response; it must be expressed in a true conversion to love, in forgiveness, in mutual acceptance and in attention to everyone's needs."
"Many and varied are the forms of service we can offer others in everyday life," he reflected. "The Eucharist thus becomes the source of spiritual energy that renews the world in the love of Christ."
The Pope then pointed to the example of the saints "who from the Eucharist drew the strength for active and not infrequently heroic charity. My thoughts go to St. Vincent de Paul", he said, "who used to affirm: 'What joy to serve the person of Christ in His poor limbs!'" He also recalled Blessed Mother Teresa, "founder of the Missionary Sisters of Charity, who in the poorest of the poor loved Christ, received and contemplated each day in the consecrated Host."
"Before and more than all the saints," he said however, "divine love filled the heart of the Virgin Mary. ... Let us pray that all Christians, nourishing themselves in the Body and Blood of the Lord, grow ever more in love for God and in generous service to their brothers and sisters."