Vatican City, Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - As Pope Benedict continued his weekly catechesis on the Psalms earlier today, he told a crowd of nearly 50,000 that, it is in the liturgy, where the faithful take part in the divine Word of God, that and man and his creator "meet in an embrace of salvation." He also strongly denounced modern forms of idolatry, namely, the hunger for power and wealth.
The Holy Father focused his audience on the second part of Psalm 134 and the theme: "only God is great and eternal."
He first demonstrated how "the Psalmist resolutely compares two different religious visions. On one side rises the figure of the living and personal God, ... a living being who 'guides' His people, ... supporting them with the power of His love; on the other is idolatry, the expression of a deviant and deceptive religiosity. Indeed, idols are nothing more than 'the work of men's hands.' ... They have human form, .... but they are inert."
"The destiny of those who adore these dead things," the Pope said, "is to become like them: impotent, fragile and inert. These verses clearly convey man's eternal temptation to seek salvation in the 'work of his hands,' placing hope in wealth, power and success."
"Following this meditation on true and false religion," the Pope showed that the Psalm concludes with a liturgical blessing.
"The liturgy", he said, "is the privileged place to listen to the divine Word that revives the Lord's salvific acts, but it is also the space from which community prayer rises to celebrate divine love. God and man meet in an embrace of salvation, that finds fulfillment in the liturgical celebration."
At the end of today's audience, the Holy Father greeted the throngs of pilgrims in various languages.
Specifically addressing a group of faithful from the Italian region of Umbria, he said: "You come from the land of St. Benedict and St. Francis, they also made this pilgrimage (to Rome). ... After many centuries, their testimony of love and peace is still relevant: Italy, Europe and the world have need of them."
October 4th was the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.
He also addressed a group of Polish pilgrims who were present, saying: "Six months have passed since the death of my dear predecessor John Paul II. His Magisterium and the testimony of his life remain important to us. I entrust the cause of his beatification to your recitation of the Rosary."
Vatican City, Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - As bishops today, met for the Forth General Congregation of the 11th Synod of Bishops, the issue of the sacredness of the Eucharist and how the faithful can better recognize it, took center stage for a time. Among the proposals were universal reception in the mouth and a greater focus on confession to help prepare faithful to receive.
Archbishop Jan Pawel Lenga M.I.C., from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, who was persecuted for his faith during the years of soviet communism, recalled the days when the Eucharist was forced to be celebrated in secret by the faithful. He called to mind its sacredness and discussed ways to highlight this fact.
He said that, "Among the liturgical innovations produced in the Western world, two in particular tend to cloud the visible aspect of the Eucharist, especially as regards its centrality and sacredness: the removal of the tabernacle from the center and the distribution of communion in the hand."
"Communion in the hand", he said, "is spreading and even prevailing as being easier, as a kind of fashion. ... Therefore, I humbly propose the following practical propositions: that the Holy See issue a universal regulation establishing the official way of receiving communion as being in the mouth and kneeling; with communion in the hand to be reserved for the clergy alone."
He likewise asked that "bishops in places where communion in the hand has been introduced work with pastoral prudence to bring the faithful slowly back to the official rite of communion, valid for all local Churches."
In this same vien, Bishop Lorenzo Voltolini Esti, Auxilary of Portoviejo, Ecuador, suggested that, "Refraining from the celebration of Mass on Friday in Lent would help the faithful to feel greater hunger for the Eucharistic food, and it would give priests the chance to put themselves at the disposal of the faithful for the Sacrament of Penance, thus establishing a relationship of equal dignity and necessity between the two Sacraments."
"I propose", he continued, that "it be suggested to dioceses or National Episcopal Conferences, or at least allowed to those that request it, that they establish a day of Eucharistic fasting, preferably during Lent and perhaps on Fridays."
"This should not be experienced as a day of Eucharistic absence", he clarified, "but as a period of preparation for and expectation of the Eucharist. It should not be considered as an interruption of the practice of celebrating the Eucharist each day, but as a way to give worth to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, equally celebrated in Penance and in the Eucharist in the totality and complementarity of the two Sacraments."
Bishop Rimantas Norvila of Vilkaviskis, Lithuania agreed. "Without the will or the possibility of sacramental reconciliation," he said, "it becomes impossible for Catholics to experience the most profound union with Jesus Christ and the Church, favored by the Eucharist. Thus Christians reach a point where they cannot appreciate the value of the Eucharist as a source of grace and, little by little, they lose their bonds with the parish community and their closeness to the whole Church."
"At the same time," he pointed out, "without the practice of reconciliation, subjectivism tends to increase, and it becomes more difficult to evaluate personal behavior and religiosity."
Broadening reception guidelines
Others however, sought to focus the Eucharistic conversation in a different direction.
Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of Wellington, New Zealand announced a formal request to offer communion to divorced Catholics who have not been reconciled with the Church, and also to non-Catholic spouses--something the Church's teaching magisterium has long forbid.
"Our Church", he said, "would be enriched if we were able to invite dedicated Catholics, currently excluded from the Eucharist, to return to the Lord's table. There are those whose first marriages ended in sadness; they have never abandoned the Church, but are currently excluded from the Eucharist."
The Archbishop also mentioned Catholics who are married to "people baptized in other Christian faiths."
"We acknowledge them to be baptized in Christ in the sacrament of marriage," he said, "but not in the reception of the Eucharist. This Synod must be pastoral in approach; we must look for ways to include those who are hungering for the Bread of Life. The scandal of those hungering for Eucharistic food needs to be addressed, just as the scandal of physical hunger needs to be addressed."
, Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - Government, society and families should value the elderly, create opportunities for them to contribute to society and establish programs that will provide them with proper health care and social services, said the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore told a UN committee yesterday that society should create “a wide range of opportunities to make use of the potential, experiences and expertise of older persons.” The Oct. 4 meeting was a follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons:
Second World Assembly on Ageing, held in Madrid in 2002.
“This approach and attitude will enable [the elderly] both to remain connected to society and to continue to make a mark in the world, whether for volunteerism or work,” he said.
Most importantly, however, families must appreciate their elderly. The archbishop said the Holy See reaffirms the important role of the family in the security and health of the elderly, including their mental, physical and spiritual health.
The archbishop noted that projected demographics indicate that the number of elderly worldwide will increase dramatically up until 2050. According to statistics, there are currently more than 600,000,000 people who are over 60 years of age, and it is estimated that by 2050 they will be more than three times that number. By 2030, 71 percent of the elderly will live in developing countries.
The archbishop affirmed that social protection of the elderly is a main responsibility of governments and private institutions.
Governments must provide the elderly with access to primary health care and social services, with a focus on their specific medical needs and adequate nutrition. “These processes might include a safety net where pensions and other schemes are inadequate,” he said.
“Social services are an extension of the common duty to provide for older family members who are neglected, in order to reduce the impact of globalization-driven migration and family fragmentation,” he added.
The archbishop noted the important contributions of the elderly in society, namely their role in caring for dependent and sick individuals, particularly by older women.
“My delegation notes here how important are compassion, love, respect, appreciation and fondness for the elderly,” he said.
The archbishop also encouraged governments to teach in schools these values and the media to promote these values.
Every country must become and remain “a society for all ages” and extra caution must be given to fiscal and international policies for the aged.
At present, Catholic agencies and organizations on every continent care for the aged in over 13,000 facilities, including more than 500 centers in Africa, 3,000 in the Americas and 1,400 in Asia.
, Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - Vienna Archbishop Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn made new comments on the on-going debate on evolution vs. intelligent design, saying both were complementary:
He presented his views on Sunday, in the first conference of what is to become a nine-month cycle of lectures, with the title “Creation and Evolution.” Each lecture will take place at the Vienna Cathedral.
He stressed the absolute necessity to respect the line drawn between Science and Religion. Cardinal Schoenborn said he could believe both in divine creation and in evolution because one was a question of religion and the other of science, two realms that complimented rather than contradicted each other.
"Without a doubt, Darwin pulled off quite a feat with his main work and it remains one of the very great works of intellectual history," Schoenborn declared in a lecture in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna on Sunday.
"I see no problem combining belief in the Creator with the theory of evolution, under one condition -- that the limits of a scientific theory are respected," he said.
Science studies what is observable and scientists overstep the boundaries of their discipline when they conclude evolution proves there was no creator, said the cardinal, 60, a top Church doctrinal expert and close associate of Pope Benedict.
"It is fully reasonable to assume some sense or design even if the scientific method demands restrictions that shut out this question," said the cardinal.
In his lecture, Schoenborn said his article had led to misunderstandings and sometimes polemics. "Maybe one did not express oneself clearly enough or thoughts were not clear enough," he said. "Such misunderstandings can be cleared up."
Schoenborn said he believed God created "the things of the world" but did not explain how a divine will to bring about mankind would have influenced its actual evolution.
The next lectures will take place on November 13, on the theme “in the beginning God created…”
Vatican City, Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican has announced that Cyril Svoboda, foreign minister of the Czech Republic, visited with Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Holy See's secretary for Relations with States earlier today. In the brief meeting, the two expressed hope that an agreement regulating mutual relations between the Czech Republic and the Holy See, which has not yet been ratified, might soon come to fruition.
"In the course of the meeting," read a declaration on the meeting from Vatican Press Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls, "discussions focussed on bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Czech Republic, in particular on the agreement regulating mutual relations, signed in Prague on July 25, 2002, but not yet ratified.
For his part, Archbishop Lajolo expressed his hope that difficulties hindering the ratification on the Czech side can be overcome, and said that the Vatican Secretariat of State also favored such a process.
Navarro Valls said that, "Among other subjects discussed were certain aspects of plans for a law reforming religious freedom, and proposals for a solution of the question of Catholic Church property confiscated at the time of the communist regime. To this end, it was agreed that it would be appropriate to constitute a joint commission with a fixed-term mandate."
"The conversation", he said, "also ranged over other themes of current international importance, in particular the process of consolidating and enlarging the European Union. ... Other themes were: the Middle East, and collaboration in international organizations with reference to some important ethical questions."
Denver, Colo., Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - Colorado’s three Catholic bishops have released a joint statement in support of state Referendums, C&D. The measures would return nearly 5 years worth of surplus revenue to the state government rather than to taxpayers--an act which, they say, would have profound effects for Colorado’s poorest residents.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, and Bishops, Michael Sheridan and Arthur Tafoya of the Dioceses of Colorado Springs and Pueblo, respectively, are all urging Catholic faithful to vote in support of the referenda next month.
“Churches”, the bishops wrote, “can't build a just society alone. Neither can synagogues or volunteers or charities. We need government to do its rightful job, not cut or hobble its services. We need government to serve the common good with laws that defend the weak, and with the money, personnel and other resources to ensure a life of basic dignity for all our people.”
They recalled that economic circumstances over the last three years had caused the Colorado General Assembly to trim nearly $1 billion dollars from the state budget, most of which “especially impacted the most vulnerable families in Colorado.”
These, the bishops wrote, “included cuts in affordable housing, school food programs, healthcare and mental health services, and financial assistance to the physically disabled.”
Rejection of Referenda C and D, they pointed out, would usher some $500 million in further budget cuts over the next two years--the brunt of which, the they said, would be borne by the “least among us.”
Under the measures, much of the surplus tax revenue would be specifically earmarked for use in health care, K-12 education and the state’s public college and university systems.
While pointing out that “Catholics of good faith can reasonably disagree and seek other methods of easing the state's budget situation,” the bishops asked “all Catholics, and other persons of good will who take their citizenship seriously, to consider supporting Referenda C and D for the sake of our communities and the future of Colorado.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - First-time screenwriters with a religious message will have a chance to get their scripts noticed by top Hollywood executives in the First John Templeton Foundation Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays.
"We hope the establishment of the Kairos Prize will encourage talented young screenwriters with new ideas and a great respect for the biblical faith to move forward on that project they have in mind, and to inundate Hollywood with moral, inspirational movies," Dr. Jack Templeton.
Disney's Dick Cook and Dreamworks' Jeffrey Katzenberg will sit on the judge’s panel.
Co-sponsored by the Templeton Foundation and the Christian Film & Television Commission(TM), the top three winners will receive prizes totaling $50,000. The grand prize is $25,000, and runner-up awards are $15,000 and $10,000 each.
The winners’ names and scripts will also be announced at the 14th Annual Movieguide(R) Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry, attended by more than 200 top executives, filmmakers and celebrities.
Several of the top movie studios have already promised to give a first look at the three winning scripts.
The Kairos Prize is designed to encourage aspiring screenwriters to create movies with storylines that help to increase man's love for and understanding of God, similar to the criteria for the Epiphany Prize.
First-time writers must submit their scripts by Nov. 25. The late deadline is Jan. 6. The prizes will be awarded at the MOVIEGUIDE(R) Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry March 2.
For more information, go to: www.kairosprize.com
Ottawa, Canada, Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - A special task force of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on all bishops to commit themselves individually and publicly to a strict method of dealing with the problem of clergy sex abuse.
A report issued by the task force Sept. 22, at the tail end of the CCCB annual weeklong plenary meeting, also recommends banning all priests and pastoral staff convicted of sexual abuse from any public ministry for the rest of their lives, reported Canadian Catholic News. Finally, the task force calls on public reporting on how the Church is doing in its battle to eradicate abuse.
Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg and Bishop Eugene Tremblay of Amos, Que., co-chaired the 10-person task force. Their work was based on the bishops’ 1992 document “From Pain to Hope”, which was written after a sexual abuse scandal rocked the Canadian Church in the 1980s.
“From Pain to Hope” was never officially adopted by the CCCB but has been used as a guide by most bishops.
The task force has asked that bishops forward their comments on the report in the coming months. They will be presented to the CCCB permanent council in March, which will prepare a final protocol for voting.
During the meeting, the bishops elected Archbishop Andre Gaumond of Sherbrooke as the new CCCB president, succeeding Archbishop Brendan O’Brien of St. John’s, Nfld.
Denver, Colo., Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - In an effort to reach out to those affected by the devastating storms the south in the last several weeks, young Hispanics from various parishes in Denver organized a benefit concert for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
According to the archdiocesan newspaper El Pueblo Católico, young people at the parish of Our Lady Mother of the Church came up with the idea for the concert, which was attended by over 300 people. The event featured the music of different bands, including Kerigma and Trovadores Menores, whose members belong to Our Lady Mother of the Church, Los Rockatolicos, from the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Hinnei, from the parish of San Jose, and the band Cristo Joven, from the parish of St. Theresa.
Luis Lopez, member of the youth group at Our Lady Mother of the Church, said parishioners from across the city offered to help with the costs of the event, and many volunteered to sell tickets and t-shirts. He hoped the concert would inspire others to find ways to help those affected by the disasters.
The proceeds from the concert will be sent to Catholic Charities for distribution to those in need.
Rome, Italy, Oct 5, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to the Italian daily La Repubblica, the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard, said a resolution addressing the lack of religious freedom and the discrimination against Christians in Turkey is urgent before a decision can be made about accepting that country into the European Union.
“Regarding Turkey’s entry into the EU, it must be seen whether the country’s intentions to resolve its numerous interior problems are real,” the he stated. “The lack of religious liberty and Christians treated as second-class citizens” were a few of the problems Cardinal Poupard said needed to be addressed. “All of this for a future EU country is simply absurd,” he maintained.
“Each time I have visited Christians in Istanbul and Antioch,” he added, “I have seen the difficulties in which they live and that they lack sometimes even the most basic of human rights.” “If the negotiated agreement recognizes these rights, then I will be happy but it must be a concrete agreement and not a façade,” the cardinal warned.
He said the possible entry of Turkey into the EU “is the beginning of a path, of a dialogue and of a willingness that, I hope, is not just a façade.”