Vatican City, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking this morning to 245 gathered prelates at the 11th General Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Alfonzo Lopez Trujillo, President of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family said that for Catholic politicians seeking to receive the Eucharist, their personal faiths cannot be separated from their public lives and roles.
Mindful of a controversy which arose during last year's U.S. presidential elections over whether certain pro-abortion, Catholic politicians ought to be able to receive communion or not, the Cardinal asked: "Can access to Eucharistic communion be allowed to people who deny human and Christian principles and values?"
"Politicians and lawmakers", he said, "have great responsibility. The so-called personal option cannot be separated from sociopolitical duty. This is not a 'private' problem, the Gospel, the Magisterium and true reason have to be accepted! ... The Lord is truly present in the Eucharist, the Lord of the family, of life, of love, of the alliance that unites husband and wife. God is the Creator of human dignity."
"The question", Cardinal Trujillo continued, "cannot be resolved conjecturally by following the various attitudes of different countries, because the conscience of Christians and ecclesial communion would become obscured and confused."
"All these questions are clarified and illuminated by the Word of God in the light of the Church's Magisterium. ... Politicians and lawmakers must know that, in proposing or defending iniquitous laws, they have a serious responsibility, and they must find a remedy to the evil done ... in order to have access to communion with the Lord, Who is the Way, Truth and Life."
The Cardinal may have also been addressing some bishops who, over the last few days of the Synod have suggested wider guidelines for reception of the Eucharist, including divorcees who have not reconciled with the Church and some non-Catholics.
Abuja, Nigeria, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - 243 bishops participated in Thursday afternoon's seventh meeting of the 11th General Synod of Bishops taking place in Rome this week. The major themes of the discussions revolved around cultural effects and needs for the Eucharistic mystery in a secular and suffering society. Some bishops, particularly from poor and oppressed regions gave emotional addresses about the profound struggles of their flocks and the strength they've received from the Eucharist.
Speaking on the need to evangelize a postmodern, secular culture with is seemingly hostile to the Eucharist and the liturgy, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, Archbishop of Malines-Brussels in Belgium said that despite appearances, the culture is one full of paradoxes.
"It is difficult", he said, "for modern man to perceive the invisible, yet there exists real interest in what lies beyond the horizon, beyond the realm of the senses, beyond the rational, beyond efficiency and productivity. Modern man is, above all, a man of action, yet the same man also conceals within a great thirst for gratitude, for giving; he does not like rites because of their repetitiveness and monotony, yet he is always inventing his own rites."
"Christian eschatology", he continued, "appears to be forgotten, even deceptive, yet never has there been so much thirst for a better world, nor so much need for hope. ... Modern man wants to move, and our liturgies have frequently become very active, even activist. But we forget that many of our contemporaries have a real need for silence. Not always have we well understood the meaning of 'actuosa participatio,' which also implies silence in the face of the mystery. All these elements of our culture carry within themselves the seeds for an evangelization of that culture."
Some bishops, particularly those in third world or formerly communist areas, talked about the experience of profound faith amidst persecution and suffering in their own countries.
"In Romania," recalled Archbishop Lucian Muresan of Fagaras and Alba Iulia of the Romanians, "the communists tried to give man material bread alone, and sought to expel 'the bread of God' from society and from the human heart. ... Priests were imprisoned simply for being Catholic, so they could not celebrate or speak about God."
"Even lay people", he said, "who participated in clandestine Masses suffered the same fate. In the famous period of 're-education' and 'brainwashing' in the Romanian prisons, to compromise priests, to ridicule the Eucharist and to destroy human dignity, the persecutors made them celebrate with excrement, but they never succeeded in destroying their faith."
"These modern martyrs of the 20th Century" the archbishop continued, "offered all their suffering to the Lord for dignity and human freedom. ... There is no lack of hope, and I think first of all of the deep religious sense of our people, the deep devotion with which they approach liturgical celebrations and the Eucharist."
Similarly, Bishop Nestor Ngoy Katahwa of Kolwezi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo said that in his home region, "the Catholic faithful must be 'initiated to bring their sufferings to the altar,' sufferings which are those of all the people and which have existed for decades."
"The frustration", he said, "that arises from injustice and social inequalities" which exist in that country, "mark the way of the cross of the people of the Congo."
"Being the victims and, at the same time, 'authors of their own misery,' the people must be illuminated 'by the mystery of the sacrificed Body and spilt Blood' to find grace of conversion, purification of sin, sincerity of reconciliation with God and with others, and commitment to fight evil under all forms and in all areas of public and private life. May all the people of the Congo, together with the pastors of the Church, find in the Eucharist the necessary consolation and strength, the source of their hopes for improving the country as quickly as possible."
Noting that "Over 2,500 parishes around the world now have perpetual Eucharistic adoration", including some 1,100 in the U.S. 500 in the Philippines, and many other smaller but still significant numbers around the world Archbishop Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., of Yangon, Myanmar implored Pope Benedict, saying, "if perpetual adoration chapels were to be established in all the dioceses in the world and in all possible parishes, what a magnificent result that would be for the Eucharistic Year."
"This is true," he said: "until the Church cries out that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is worthy of perpetual adoration for all He has done for our salvation, she will continue to be defeated by her enemies. I believe that the best, the surest and the most effective way of establishing everlasting peace on the face of the earth is through the great power of perpetual adoration of the blessed Sacrament."
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - 245 prelates from around the world began their eighth session of the 11th General Synod of Bishops this morning at the Vatican. The subject of liturgical reform and the deep consequences thereof played a particularly prominent role in the discussions.
Addressing specific forms and practices within the liturgy, Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said that "Focusing on the Eucharistic celebration, 'ars celebrandi' refers to both interior and exterior participation on the part of the celebrating priest and on the part of the congregation."
He said that, "'Ars celebrandi' helps the priest to have a faith‑filled and disciplined posture at Mass. On the one hand, he cannot isolate himself from the presence of the people. On the other hand he should not become a showman who projects himself.
"The liturgy" he stressed, "is not primarily what we make but what we receive in faith."
He also noted other aspects and participants of the celebration including the altar servers, readers, choir, etc. saying that "'ars celebrandi' demands good preparation, faith, humility and focussing attention on the sacred mystery rather than on self. When the Mass is celebrated in this spirit it nourishes faith and manifests it powerfully - 'lex orandi, lex credendi.' With a genuine understanding of the role of liturgical norms, such a celebration is free of trivialization and desacralization. It sends the people of God home properly nourished, spiritually refreshed and dynamically sent to evangelize."
Archbishop William Levada, the recently instated Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith called for a certain reform of homilies during the Mass in order to better catechize the faithful.
"A certain artificial opposition", he said, "between homilies with doctrinal characteristics and those with liturgical ones has prevented the catechetical formation of the faithful, making it difficult for them to practice their faith in the modern secularized world."
"This false dichotomy", he said, "can be overcome only by showing how the doctrinal aspect is that which draws the most profound meaning from Sacred Scripture, in a similar way to the liturgy itself, bringing us to meet Christ, our Redeemer.
The Archbishop proposed that the Synod "makes its own the recommendation (cf. no. 47) to prepare a pastoral program - not to be imposed but to be proposed to those who preach during Sunday Eucharistic celebrations - on the basis of a three-year partition of the lectionary, linking the proclamation of the doctrine of the faith to the biblical texts in which such truths are rooted, and making reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to its recently published Compendium."
Yesterday, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid, addressed a problem he sees of "radically secularized" interpretations of the second Vatican Council which distort proper celebration of the Eucharist.
"Vatican Council II", he said, "brought together, in a beautifully concise theological synthesis, the doctrinal and pastoral fruits of the liturgical, spiritual and apostolic renewal of Church life in the first half of the twentieth century."
But, he said that the Synod Fathers must give special attention "to the antithesis of the Council, as represented by radically secularized interpretations of the content, significance and ways of celebrating the Eucharistic Sacrament 'fons et culmen totius vitae christianae.'"
He said that "we have reached the moment for a new doctrinal and pastoral synthesis in order to clarify and overcome this antithesis: by way of a Paschal renovation of the doctrine, catechesis and practical experience of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, wherein Christ's sacrifice and priestly oblation are conveyed ... by way of canonical and pastoral education ... that eliminates subjectivism and arbitrariness in the celebration of the Eucharist; ... and by fomenting a Eucharistic spirituality based on the habit and experience of adoring the Sacrament par excellence, 'the Sacrament of the Love of Loves'."
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - Speaking to the 11th General Synod Fathers, gathered for their eighth meeting this morning at the Vatican, Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, who is Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites in Lebanon--a Catholic rite which allows for married priests--addressed the issue, which has been brought up by many, particularly in light of the U.S. sex abuse scandal, of commonly permitting married priests in the Roman rite.
The Cardinal defended the practice of the celibate priesthood and discussed the beauty of the tradition, calling it the "most precious jewel in the treasury of the Catholic Church."
While pointing out that "the Maronite Church admits married priests" and that "half of our diocesan priests are married", the Cardinal Patriarch said that "it must be recognized that if admitting married men resolves one problem, it creates others just as serious."
"A married priest", he said, "has the duty to look after his wife and family, ensuring his children receive a good education and overseeing their entry into society. ... Another difficulty facing a married priest arises if he does not enjoy a good relationship with his parishioners; his bishop cannot transfer him because of the difficulty of transferring his whole family.
He noted that "married priests have perpetuated the faith among people whose difficult lives they shared, and without them this faith would no longer exist."
"On the other hand," he said, "celibacy is the most precious jewel in the treasury of the Catholic Church,"
Lamenting a culture which is all but outright opposed to purity, the Cardinal asked: "How can [celibacy] be conserved in an atmosphere laden with eroticism? Newspapers, Internet, billboards, shows, everything appears shameless and constantly offends the virtue of chastity."
Suggesting that their are no easy solutions to the problem of priest shortages in the Church--an oft brought up point during the Synod--he noted that, "Of course a priest, once ordained, can no longer get married. Sending priests to countries where they are lacking, taking them from a country that has many, is not the ideal solution if one bears in mind the question of tradition, customs and mentality. The problem remains."
Rome, Italy, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - In a column this week for the Italian weekly L’Espresso, Vatican analyst Sandro Magister questions the veracity of a supposed conclave “diary” of an anonymous cardinal that was published by journalist Lucio Brunelli in the Italian magazine Limes, which claimed Pope Benedict XVI was elected by a majority after a tight race with other cardinals.
Brunelli’s revelations, which were reported around the world, were based on the supposed “diary of an authoritative cardinal” that described the results of the four ballots during the conclave, despite the vow of secrecy that is meant to safeguard such details, and claimed to have “no sensationalist intentions” and to be “rigorously historical.”
Nonetheless, Magister examines the text closely and finds important inconsistencies, for example, the fact that the supposed “prestigious cardinal” refers to Cardinal Camillo Ruini as the “former apostolic vicar of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome.” Magister notes not only that the Ruini’s correct title is “Vicar General” and not “Apostolic Vicar,” but also that “above all the ‘former’ is completely wrong.” With the death of a Pope, his vicar does not lose his post, but continues to manage the diocese of Rome.
These and other errors lead Magister to doubt the text is “rigorously historical” and to believe instead that it is “militant” hoax to “demonstrate that Ratzinger’s victory was not at all ‘plebiscitary,’ that it was in question up until the last moment, that it was unduly favored by the fact that Ratzinger was the dean of the college of cardinals, that the time is ripe for a ‘new’ pope, perhaps a Latin American, and that Benedict XVI should accept these as limiting factors.
In his extensive analysis, Magister speculates about who might be the author if this version of the conclave and he contrasts it with well-known information that is much more solid—although always uncertain—that indicates that, as the media had reported at the time, Cardinal Ratzinger’s victory was not only clear-cut, as evidenced by the brevity of the conclave, but also ‘plebiscitary.’
“As for anonymous diaries, the greatest caution must be exercised here,” Magister writes. even more so when these are currents of opposition directed against the present pontiff.
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - Continuing on the debates of the 60th General Assembly, the Delegation of the Holy, represented by Mr Francisco Dionísio, addressed the General Assembly on the theme of the World Program of Action for Youth yesterday.
First thanking to UN to address the issue of youth, he reminded Pope Benedict’s concern for youth giving the World Youth Day in Cologne last summer as an example of this commitment. The youth need “the leadership and resources of governments, the interest and cooperation of non-governmental organizations and the good will and hard work of all people” he said.
“Addressing one of those concerns, my delegation reiterates its position on the use of the expression “sexual and reproductive health”, as contained in the Report. My delegation understands it as a holistic promotion of the health of women, men, youth and children. It does not consider abortion or access to abortion as a dimension of these terms.”
Dionísio reiterated the Holy See’s engagement to “continue to be fully committed to the role of youth in the global economy, poverty, education and employment.” He underlined the role of the Church in education, which amounts to more than 54 million children and youth attending Catholic schools and universities, as well as youth groups.
“Regarding youth at risk, health, drugs, delinquency and discrimination against girls and young women, there are almost 12,000 Catholic hospitals and institutions of healthcare and preventative medicine throughout the world”.
He further encouraged the UN to continue “working together with the international community to develop realistic, appropriate, immediate and long term responses.”
Dionísio’s comments referred mainly to the Secretary General’s report proposing a ten priorities program for youth, underlining the fight against poverty, education, employment, health, drugs and delinquency among others.
Washington D.C., Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - Assistance to schools affected by the hurricanes should be provided equitably to all, without regard to the type of school, the secretary for education at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) told the education committees in Congress.
“The hurricanes did not distinguish between public, private or religious schools at any level: pre-school, elementary, secondary, or postsecondary,” said Sr. Glenn Anne McPhee, OP, in a letter sent Oct. 5 to all members of Congress. The House Education and the Work Force Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee will be evaluating the portfolio.
She said she has “significant reservations” about the decision by Congress to use No Child Left Behind as a model for providing aid.
"Eligibility to receive assistance should not require a means test or a minimum number of displaced or impacted students enrolled in a school,” said Sr. McPhee. “That assistance should be crafted in such a way as to enable schools to meet the wide list of needs of displaced children."
Expediting aid is paramount, she said. Sr. McPhee, a former Catholic schools superintendent, also recommended a streamlined approach so that aid reaches schools “in the most expeditious manner.”
Sr. McPhee also does not believe that adding yet another program to the NCLB will “change the situation for the better.” She also said asking school administrators to engage in a consultation process, after all the long hours they are working to accommodate displaced youth, is “unfair and unrealistic.”
Sr. McPhee said the Catholic school community in the two most impacted areas—Louisiana and Texas—has assured the USCCB that the NCLB procedure would be totally unresponsive to their immediate and pressing needs. She said the USCCB staff is willing to work with all parties to craft appropriate legislation to address the situation.
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Catholic Archbishop of London, told the synod of bishops meeting this month that, when speaking about Eucharist, they must emphasize communion as the spiritual bond that ties the Church together.
"I am convinced that a recovery of the theology and ecclesiology of koinonia, in its many dimensions, is truly a fruit of the presence of the Spirit of the Risen Christ in his Church and a theme of immense ecumenical significance," he said Tuesday, in one of the first speeches to be heard at the Synod, reported the Archbishop’s House.
He said the relationship between communion/koinonia and the Eucharist should be "a central feature" of the bishops' discussions and documents. He urged participants not to limit themselves to "a narrow discussion of practical norms or catechetical guidelines, important as these are", but to keep the larger picture in mind.
"This Synod on the Eucharist takes us to the heart of all that the Second Vatican Council sought to say about Church, the world, and the destiny of all human history in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity."
Rome, Italy, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - Ecumenism, the 40th anniversary of Vatican II and the future of the European union were three themes that emerged at the four-day plenary assembly of European bishops last week, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, and that were quoted in an outcome document released yesterday.
In the light of the Second Vatican Council, the presidents of Europe's 34 Episcopal conferences (CCEE) reflected on how to interpret the historical-cultural changes of recent decades and the paths to follow in the immediate future, in the areas of evangelization, the role of the Church in today's European society, ecumenical dialogue, and the meeting between religions and culture and European unification.
At the Second Vatican Council, "tradition and renewal embraced," said Msgr. Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants. It is wrong to think of the Council as a traumatic change or in terms of breaking continuity, he said.
Citing Pope Paul VI, Cardinal Camillo Ruini maintained that the Council's aim was to "to ensure that the Church of the 20th century may emerge ever better equipped to proclaim the gospel to the people of this century." The way to realize this lies in the correlation between the "affirmation of the centrality of man" (anthropological turning point) and his christological root: Christ is the true man, said the cardinal. Contemporary history indicates that Christianity has a public role “in guaranteeing, in present-day free and democratic society, the fundamental values of living side-by-side,” he said.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, examined the theme of the Council and ecumenical dialogue. Dialogue is not just an exchange of ideas, but a true sharing which involves the very being of a person, he said. At the ecumenical level it is not just a matter of agreeing diplomatically about the minimum or giving way to relativist positions, but realizing a true enrichment, sharing mutually the gifts that each one has. In this spiritual ecumenism seems today to be the guiding path to go down in the journey to Christian unity, he said.
The bishops discussed the plan of the Third European Ecumenical Assembly, which the CCEE is organizing together with the Conference of European Churches. It will begin with a first meeting of 110 delegates from the Churches and Bishops' Conferences of Europe in Rome, Jan. 24-27, 2006, and will end with an assembly at Sibiu, Romania, in September 2007.
With regard to evangelization, the bishops noted the importance of schools and universities in faith formation and reaffirmed their openness to contributing to the process of reform of the European university system, sanctioned by the Bologna agreement. The CCEE is called to intensify the European network between universities, professors and students.
Europe has experienced widespread secularization, and the Church must urgently re-proclaim the Good News and promote a new enculturation of Christianity in Europe, the bishops said.
The Church also has a role to play in the future of a united Europe. “The reflective period imposed on the process of European unification by the negative votes of France and the Netherlands to the Constitutional Treaty and the failure to reach agreement on the 2007/2013 community budget must be seen as a fruitful opportunity to think again about the European Constitution looking at its original inspiration and communicating to young people the meaning and idea behind this project,” the bishops said.
As well, in the current media culture, European churches must draw up pastoral plans for social communications, promote critical observations about the media, train competent media professionals and try to be a presence in the media.
The bishops noted that a wide-ranging pastoral initiative for vocations is needed. They noted that a number of priestly vocations are inspired by a great ecclesial event or through participation in a movement or from the relationship with a credible priest. The CCEE will hold a special session on vocations at a future plenary assembly.
The bishops spoke of the success of World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, and proposed youth meetings in Europe at a continental, regional or national level in 2007/2008 in preparation for the next World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008.
At the end of the meeting, Pope Benedict XVI exhorted them "not to be afraid of facing up to the present-day pastoral challenges, being in position to listen to the concrete conditions of man's personal and social life, ready to proclaim the Gospel of hope to all.
The next meeting of European bishops will be in St Petersburg, Oct. 5-8, 2006, on the invitation of Moscow Archbishop Tadeusz Kondustriewicz
Ottawa, Canada, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - Legalizing assisted suicide in Canada would be a major social failure, say the Canadian bishops.
On the last day of an annual plenary meeting in Cornwall, Ont., the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops unanimously adopted a resolution opposing bill C-407, or any similar proposal that may emerge, favoring euthanasia and assisted suicide.
The Canadian bishops also called on the government and all members of Parliament to reject this new effort to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia in Canada and promote better palliative and end-of-life care.
Bloc Québécois MP Francine Lalonde introduced Bill C-407 in mid-June before summer recess. The bill proposes that any medical professional, or a person instructed by a medical professional, can assist a sick patient in their suicide if the patient has, in a lucid state, indicated several times and on different occasions that they want to end their lives.
“In order to respond to the physical, emotional and moral sufferings of people of all ages, particularly those seriously ill or handicapped, including those in a terminal phase, we call on Canadians, including our elected representatives, instead to promote palliative care and end-of-life care,” the bishops said in their Sept. 23 statement.
“Our legal system should be inspired by a culture of life in which each person feels responsible for the well-being of others until their natural death,” they said.
Lalonde expects her private member’s bill to begin second-reading debate in the House of Commons in early November.
Lima, Peru, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - In order to mark the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Toribio of Mongrovejo, the Archdiocese of Lima will publish a series of newsletters on its website highlighting the sanctity of the second archbishop of Lima and patron of the bishops of Latin American.
The first newsletter is entitled, “St. Toribio of Mongrovejo, Exemplary Evangelizer,” and can be downloaded at www.arzobispadodelima.org
The seven newsletters will be published in subsequent months until April and will address different aspects of the saint, such as his devotion to Mary, his tireless defense of human dignity and his great commitment to catechesis and vocations.
Likewise, the archdiocese has asked pastoral workers to inform the faithful of the importance of the jubilee year in honor of the saint and to remind them of the opportunity to draw closer to Christ by following his example.
Konigstein, Germany, Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - Although Kibeho, Rwanda, is an unknown place in the world, it has become a shrine where the Church has recognized a series of Marian apparitions that took place on the African continent.
“It can be compared to Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima,” said Christine du Coudray, head of the African department of Aid to the Church in Need, after her trip to Rwanda.
According to du Coudray, Aid to the Church in Need is financing a film about the apparitions at Kibeho. “The film will be a gift for the Church in Rwanda, where even today violence is a part of daily life. In the midst of all the cruelties, Kibeho is a place of prayer and reconciliation. This is a message for Africa and the world.”
“What the Church needs most is to support the formation of priests, religious and lay catechists as well as to build new places, especially the Cathedral in Kibeho, for the new pilgrims,” she added.
“Our Lady of Sorrows appeared here between 1981 and 1983. Those who saw her are still alive and have just reached the age of 40,” du Coudray said.
Valencia, Fla., Oct 7, 2005 (CNA) - Two elementary school teachers in Valencia, Spain, have published a new children’s book entitled “John Paul II the Great,” which tells the life of the late Pontiff.
Mar Sanchez Marchori, one the book’s authors, told the Avan news agency that the book is intended for children between the ages of 8 and 12 and reflects the values embraced by John Paul II in his life, such as courage, love for those in need, forgiveness, joy, creativity and sacrifice.
She also said the book would be translated into different languages and made available to families attending the V World Meeting of Families in Valencia next year.
The new book is part of a series published Palabra that includes books on Christians of the 20th century, including Padre Pio, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and St. Jose Maria Escriva.
The collection is available in bookstores in Great Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and some countries in Latin America.