Vatican City, Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - On Sunday, before leading the weekly Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict visited the relics of the newly blessed Servant of God, Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, the late bishop of Münster, Germany who, the Pope said, was given the gift, through faith, to see clearly when much of the German intelligentsia went blind to the horrors of the Nazi regime.
Speaking off the cuff about the Cardinal, the Holy Father said that, "All people, especially we Germans, are thankful because the Lord gave us this great witness of faith who brought the light of truth to shine in times of darkness, and showed the courage to oppose the power of tyranny."
"But we must also ask ourselves where did he get such intuition from, at a time when intelligent people seemed blind? And where did get the strength to oppose, at a time when even the strong showed themselves to be weak and vile?"
The late Cardinal, who fought against the Nazi's during the second World War "drew intuition and courage from the faith," the Pope said, something "which showed him the truth and opened his heart and his eyes."
"He feared God more than he feared man," Benedict pointed out, "and God gave him the courage to do and to say what others did not dare say and do. Thus, He gives us courage and again exhorts us to live our faith, teaching us how this can be achieved in simple and humble things that nonetheless are great and profound."
He stressed how the new Blessed "shows us this simple Catholicity, in which the Lord meets us, in which He opens our hearts and gives us discernment of spirit, courage of faith, and joy at being saved. Let us give thanks to God for this great witness of the faith and pray that he illuminates and guides us."
After praying the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, the Pope recalled that only a month after being made a cardinal by Pius XII in 1946, he "died amid the veneration of the faithful who recognized in him a model of Christian courage. Here is Blessed von Galen's ever-present message: faith cannot be reduced to a private emotion, perhaps even to be hidden when it becomes inconvenient, rather faith implies coherence and testimony, also in the public sphere, in favor of mankind, justice and truth."
"In the name of God," Benedict said, "he denounced the neo-pagan ideology of National Socialism, defending the freedom of the Church and human rights which were being so gravely violated, and protecting Jews and others whom the regime considered as refuse to be eliminated."
Cardinal von Galen was declared blessed Sunday morning by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints during a Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica. There, Cardinal Martins read an Apostolic Letter from Pope Benedict proclaiming as Blessed, Servant of God von Galen, who lived from 1878 - 1946.
Vatican City, Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - As over 200 bishops continue to meet in Rome for the 11th General Synod of Bishops, heavy emphasis has been placed, in recent days, on specific ways that the faithful might better respect and come to a fuller appreciation for the Eucharist and its meaning for the worldwide Church.
On Friday, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education specifically stressed the need for Eucharistic formation among the Church's future priests, saying that, "The Eucharist constitutes the framework for all formation of seminarians: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral."
"This centrality of the Eucharist", he said, "must be strongly emphasized in the life of the seminary at various levels. Solid theological elucidation of the mystery of the Eucharist and its relationship with the Sacrament of Penance, explanation of the meaning of liturgical norms, the example of teachers, correct preparation of Eucharistic celebrations in order that they be intimately experienced by the whole community, the presence and availability of good confessors, well-prepared adoration of the Eucharistic, persistent invitations to private adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, etc., all these factors, seriously and constantly undertaken, should introduce the seminarian to a full understanding and love of the Eucharist."
The Cardinal highlighted the profound importance of seminary formation saying that "in reality, how the Eucharist is celebrated and how it is perceived by the faithful, mainly depends on priests."
Similarly, Bishop Petru Gherghel of Iasi, Romania, addressing the Synod Fathers earlier today, made his own specific proposal to increase respect towards the Eucharist.
During the "long period of communist rule," he recalled, "the Church was the only place in which the faithful could nourish the courage of their faith. Celebration of the Eucharist was, at one and the same time, a moment for evangelization, for catechesis and for communion with God and with our brothers and sisters."
"Bearing in mind", he said, "the oriental tradition, the richness of such testimony and the attempt to exchange gifts between [the Churches of the east and west], I propose that Mass also be given the name of 'Holy and Divine Liturgy,' alongside the Latin name already in use but not very precise."
"Such a name," the bishop opined, "would be more suggestive of the divine, and would invite people, to meditation, wonder, silence and adoration."
Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica also suggested recommendations which he hoped would help reconcile what he sees as a disparity between the faith of many Catholics and how they live their lives.
For example, "the Sacrament of Penance", he lamented, "is not a regular part of the spiritual life of a growing number of Catholics" and "Mixed marriages sometimes lead to a diminished regard for the Eucharist. Inter-communion poses a problem in the Antilles."
He said that while "many of the faithful believe Holy Communion leads to personal sanctification and transformation of attitudes and engenders responsiveness to the needs of others... for many others there is a disparity between what they believe and how they live."
Some recommendations the bishop made to try to combat this include: "A return to the emphasis on Easter duties with its requirement for (at least) annual Confession; reclaiming the respect and reverence due to the holy places; need for greater silence before and during the celebration of Mass; pews with kneelers should be returned to the Church so that people get into the habit of showing reverence before the Blessed Sacrament."
London, England, Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - In an interview on the Sunday BBC radio talk, Cardiff Bishop Peter Smith discussed the subject of euthanasia, and reiterated the position of the Church on the matter.
He referred to the dangers that ensue with the legalization of Euthanasia, pointing out to the situation in the Netherlands, where "despite all regulations (..) in practice, it has extended from assisted suicide to non-voluntary euthanasia, even for children."
"This is the slippery slope which we shall go," he warned.
Bishop Smith emphasized on the "lack of provision of proper medical and nursing assistance."
"We can’t go from hard cases, to say we want to change the law of the Gospels that life is God’s gift. We haven’t got the choice to say ‘well I want to go now."
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, echoed the comments of Bishop Smith, he was totally against a voluntary euthanasia bill.
"Not because I have no sympathy, but I also have sympathy for the law which protects life," he said
The House of Lords is to debate a bill on assisted suicide on Monday which would allow doctors to prescribe, but not administer, lethal drugs to terminally ill people
Under the bill, only "mentally competent adults" would be able to ask for assistance.
The peer introducing the bill in the upper house, Lord Joffe, told Reuters he was confident it would be supported.
Vatican City, Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - The issue of intercommunion has been one of ongoing discussion throughout the course thus far of the General Synod of Bishops, being held currently at the Vatican. While some have suggested that those outside the Catholic Church be permitted to receive the Eucharist in certain situations, others have held closer to the Church's long held teaching that allowing non-Catholics to receive would suggest a unity which is not yet present.
Bishop Amedee Grab O.S.B., of Chur, Switzerland, noted that in ecumenical dialogue with Christian churches who celebrate the memorial of the Lord's Supper, "one can often see an increasing convergence on very important themes: real presence, sacrificial characteristic of the memorial, need for ordination."
"What has proved more difficult", he said, "is finding a formulation on the nature of the Church, and an agreement that the Holy Eucharist - source and summit of her vocation and her mission - was entrusted to Her."
Bishop Grab cited the Ecumenical Directory, saying that "participation in Holy Communion by individual non-Catholic baptized, in exceptional cases and under certain conditions, is specifically provided for..." The Directory, he said, "not only mentions admittance but also invitation, following verification of the aforementioned conditions, among which belonging to the Catholic Church is not mentioned."
"This possibility", he said, "should not be forgotten and must be taken into account in pastors' dealings with those who, without belonging to the Catholic Church, share the impassioned prayer of Jesus for unity. This should remain a recognized way to achieve unity, when and how the Lord, 'the living bread descending from heaven for the life of the world,' wishes."
In response, Cardinal Georges Cottier O.P., who is a Theologian of the Pontifical Household, said however, that "If the Church has pronounced directives concerning the admission to the Eucharist of non-Catholic Christians and if she rejects inter-communion, this is because Eucharistic communion is not a starting point, rather it expresses and perfects a communion to be considered in its entirety: communion in the doctrine of the Apostles, in the Sacraments and in communion with the apostolic college of which Peter is head."
"This position", he said, "seems unjustly hard to our Protestant brothers, because it is not understood. In fact, it is a fraternal duty for the Church to make it clear that she cannot dispose at her will of a gift received from her Lord. Her attitude is one of adoration, of praise and of obedience."
Vatican City, Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - Bishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P, Bishop of Angers (France), warned this Monday during the Synod of Bishops, that secularism has affected catholic minds, reducing therefore the understanding of the eucharistic mystery.
The prelate referred to this phenomenon as "a lasting and well entrenched historical trend. It has produced (secularism) a mentality that pointedly questions the Christian conscience."
"Secularism," explained the bishop, "objects to any form of relationship with the beyond and the invisible world. There is even an auto-secularization within our Christian communities."
"What has become to the Eucharist, ‘Bread descended from heaven’.., if there is no more heaven? It would be seen fit to precise the role the Eucharist should play in the "new evangelization," precisely in the evangelization of our culture, as well as to encourage the youth who have discovered eucharistic adoration the source of their mission modern rationalism," he concluded.
Washington D.C., Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - As she moves closer to yet unscheduled Senate hearings, Christian and pro-life groups are suspiciously eyeing Harriet Miers--George Bush’s pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor--and wondering if her pro-life views will favorably fill the swing-vote seat currently occupied by O’Connor.
Jan LaRue, of the group, Concerned Women for America, said that, "CWA staff have been heavily involved in evaluating Miss Miers' background and qualifications," and "have learned nothing new that allows us to endorse her at this time."
"Whether we can eventually support her", LaRue added, "will depend on answers to questions raised in our memorandum and what is learned during the hearing process. We believe the American people deserve convincing evidence that Miss Miers can be trusted with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court."
Fr. Frank Pavone, of the group Priests for Life, has said that he trusts the president’s judgment and suspects that Miers may be the right pick.
Fr. Thomas Euteneuer on the other hand, blasted Miers’ nomination last week, saying that Bush’s nomination of his close friend and personal counsel sends the message: "'If you are pro-life keep your mouths shut and hide in the closet if you ever hope to advance in your career.'"
"The nomination of Miers", he said, "is a slap in the face to pro-life lawyers and judges who have not been ashamed of the principles that inform their conscience; evidently courage of conviction disqualifies candidates for the bench."
Colorado Springs, Colo., Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - Last month, the Diocese of Colorado Springs, CO officially re-launched its diocesan newspaper, the Colorado Catholic Herald--a tool that they hope will provide more opportunity for sharing the gospel with the state’s population.
Bishop Michael Sheridan was on hand as the newly revamped paper was unveiled at a ceremony last month at the Colorado Springs chancery.
Bill Howard, the paper’s editor boasted that, "At a time when several diocesan newspapers are being downgraded to monthlies or magazines or are completely shut down, Bishop Sheridan has taken the bold step to revamp the paper and make it a stronger tool of communication for the faithful of the Colorado Springs Diocese."
The diocese noted that they wanted the name "Colorado Catholic Herald" to better reflect broader readership than just the immediate Colorado Springs area.
The first edition of the colorful new paper featured a large, front page picture of youth from the diocese at last summer’s World Youth Day celebration in Cologne.
Likewise, new "Gospel of Life" and Entertainment sections, as well as an opinion page and several popular columnists, will appear in the bi-weekly publication.
The diocese noted that the Herald currently has a circulation 28,000 with big plans for growth.
Washington D.C., Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - A recent film by a Walt Disney Company producer about partial-birth abortion has been receiving positive reviews. Jonathan Flora wrote and directed "A Distant Thunder" as an independent project outside of Disney.
Flora told MichNews.com that his 35-minute film is "a supernatural, courtroom thriller that … is generating awareness and dialogue about a topic surrounded by a great deal of misinformation and controversy."
The film has led Flora to speak at this summer’s Abstinence National Conference, meet with the White House Chief Domestic Policy Adviser, Claude Allen, congressmen and other senators, and speak before the Council for National Policy, reported MichNews.com.
Flora told MichNews.com that the film is a "healing tool" and that its length makes it perfect for church groups and classroom use and is hoping to eventually turn it into a full-length feature.
The trailer can be viewed at www.adistantthunder.com
Warsaw, Poland, Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - A special concert was held in Poland’s capital city yesterday to commemorate Papal Day. This year’s celebration in Warsaw’s Castle Square was particularly poignant due to Pope John Paul’s passing death earlier this year, reported TVP.
It was intended to give thanks to the late Pope and to welcome the new pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI. Fr. Stan Fortuna from the United States was among the international line-up of artists, who reportedly performed Pope John Paul II’s favorite songs, hymns and tunes.
The Catholic Church in Poland established Papal Day, which is celebrated on the Sunday preceding Oct. 16, the date of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla’s 1978 election to the papacy. It always follows a week of celebrations that include concerts, exhibitions and other commemorative events. The concert is the highlight.
Philadelphia, Pa., Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - Cardinal Justin Rigali issued a pastoral letter last week in which he repeatedly and apologetically acknowledges that officials at the archdiocese had mishandled cases of clergy sex abuse, reported the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Cardinal Rigali had drawn much criticism from priests and Catholic faithful for his initial response to the grand jury's Sept. 20 report on sex abuse by priests. That same day, he had called the report "unjustifiably critical" of former Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua and John Krol.
The pastoral letter, which he e-mailed to his assistant from Rome where he is attending the synod of bishops, acknowledged "the sinful actions of some priests" and noted "many Catholics are offended by the actions taken or not taken by those in authority."
However, he did not mention Church officials by name or cite any specific mistakes. He also did not he say whether any of the archdiocese officials in question would be disciplined or demoted.
The cardinal wrote that he has prayed for "renewed forgiveness" for the abuse and "for harm resulting from mistakes or errors in judgment made by anyone in administration."
He also asked each parish to conduct weekly holy hours to pray for the victims, their families, the abusers, and the Church.
Vatican City, Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - In a historic move that marks a new era in Catholic-Jewish relations, Israeli President Moshe Katsav will visit the Vatican Nov. 17.
Benedict XVI invited the head of the Jewish state to the Vatican, reported the London Times, although the Vatican has not yet officially announced the visit.
Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See Oded Ben-Hur said this is the first such visit in 2,000 years. "This is history in the making," he reportedly said.
Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Dr. Jonathan Sacks told the Times that the visit is a "further step forward in the transformed relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people; a clear sign of Pope Benedict XVI’s determination to continue the bridge-building work of his predecessors. In a world of destructive religious tensions, the meeting of these two men is a strong signal of promise and hope."
Fr. Norbert Hoffman, secretary of the Papal Commission for Relations with the Jews, who was in London for the 40th anniversary celebrations of Nostra Aetate, told the Times that the visit is very important for the Church and that relations with the Jewish state is one of Pope Benedict’s priorities.
Catholic-Jewish relations have made significant headway since the 1960s. Nostra Aetate, a document that emerged from the Second Vatican Council in 1965, denounces anti-Semitism and encourages dialogue between Christians and Jews. Israel and the Vatican opened diplomatic relations 12 years ago and the late Pope John Paul II visited Israel and prayed at the Wailing Wall during the Jubilee Year in 2000.
Santiago, Chile, Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - The Permanent Committee of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile is demanding local authorities respect the freedom of all and not reduce the fight against AIDS to the distribution of condoms.
The bishops’ statement is in response to a new AIDS prevention campaign being sponsored by the government. "The current campaign by the Ministry of Health, instead of addressing the cause of the problem, simply seeks to avoid its effects, recommending techniques and preventative methods that presuppose a permissive attitude towards the cause of the problem, namely, sexual relations devoid of mature and committed love in marriage and family life," the statement indicates.
The bishops note that the campaign "ignores fundamental ethical considerations, because it separates sexuality from its procreative dimension, overlooks self-control and reduces the solution to the problem to an exclusive formula-the condom-thus attacking freedom. In this sense, to exclude other means of avoiding the disease is a negative step backwards. The freedom of choices is only legitimate when it seeks what is good, when it is just and respectful of human dignity."
According to the bishops, "The root problem is the formation of persons in love, through an urgent education that is integral and humane, that presents sexuality in its profound dignity." "If we want a society that is truly healthy, let us treat human beings as persons. If not, we impoverish the human condition, whose deepest dignity is in being in the image and likeness of God," they added.
The bishops also called it "sorrowful" that the campaign is coinciding with the celebration of "the canonization of Father Alberto Hurtado, a generous servant of human life and an authentic educator of young people."
"Public institutions have the duty to help people to live a healthy and dignified life," the bishops maintained. "We must value the beauty of faithful and mature sexuality and recognize its capacity to form a family and welcome children who are the fruit of love. It must be clearly said that unrestrained sex offends human dignity, lays the groundwork for failed marriages, and leads to a decadent society."
The bishops call on Chileans values that uphold the dignity of the human person, especially of women, who must not be treated as "objects of pleasure."
Montevideo, Uruguay, Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - During a visit to Aid to the Church in Need’s headquarters in Germany, Bishop Domingo Barbosa da Silveira of Minas, Uruguay, said "the predominant secularization" in his country is the greatest obstacle to the Church’s mission of evangelization.
"Uruguay is the only country in Latin America in which Christian holidays have been secularized. For example, Holy Week has been renamed ‘tourism week,’ Christmas is now ‘day of the family,’ and Epiphany has become ‘children’s day’," the bishops explained.
According to Bishop Barbosa, while 65% of the three and a half million inhabitants of the country are "baptized Catholics, only 3% practice their faith."
The bishop also noted the "growing poverty and breakdown of the family" as principal problems in Uruguay. "Many people have lost sight of the meaning of life and of spiritual values," he added.
Miami, Fla., Oct 10, 2005 (CNA) - Pro-life experts are warning of an October 11 gathering in Badajoz, Spain, organized by the Latin American Organization of Youth (LAOY) to formalize the Latin American Convention on the Rights of Young People, which they point out could become a legal vehicle for pushing the anti-life agenda in the region.
According to Magaly Llaguno of Human Life International, the LAOY has been working since 1994 and includes representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Although it is not known how many countries have approved the Convention, it is known that "the leaders of the LAOY have been communicating for some time with the highest levels for some time" of traditionally pro-abortion organizations such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation and Pathfinder.
The Convention defends gender equality with terminology linked to the promotion of homosexuality, the right to explicit sexual education, the creation of a governmental organization that would develop, coordinate and evaluate public policies for young people and legal measures.
"It’s clear that we’re dealing with another CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) but focused this time on young people. This is the reason why anti-Catholic organizations, including ‘Catholics for a Free Choice,’ have been creating youth activist groups," Llaguno said.
The LAOY gathering will take place a few days before the Latin American Summit of Heads of State, which will take place October 14 and 15 in Salamanca. Pro-life leaders are concerned that the Convention might be presented at that gathering for ratification by all countries in the region.