Vatican City, Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - The scandal of the cross, and its paradoxical offering of salvation was the key message of Pope Benedict’s General Audience, held today at St. Peter’s Square in the presence of some 50,000 listeners.
He challenged the faithful to conform themselves to the way of the Lord, following Christ’s example of obedience--even to death, as St. Paul says--if they are to live well, and “reap the fruits“ of salvation.
The Pope, who had been discussing the Psalms in previous weeks audiences, turned today to St. Paul’s canticle in the Letter to the Philippians, often called “Christ, Servant of God.”
In it, Pope Benedict explained, St. Paul includes a “double movement” showing the 2-fold action of God through His Son.
The first movement, he showed, highlights Christ's sacrifice "even to the humiliation of death on the Cross," while the second "reveals Christ's paschal glory which, following death, reappears in the splendor of His divine majesty."
God the Father’s exaltation of His Son, the Pope said, "is expressed not only by His enthronement at the right hand of God, but also by bestowing on Christ 'the name which is above every name,' ... the most exalted 'name,' that of 'Lord,' which belongs to God Himself."
"On the one hand,” he continued, “is the recognition of the universal lordship of Jesus Christ, Who receives homage from all creation, ... While on the other, is the acclamation of the faith, which declares Christ to exist in divine form, presenting Him as worthy of adoration."
"In this hymn," the Pope said, "the reference to the scandal of the cross ... culminates with the event of the resurrection. The Son's sacrificial obedience is followed by the Father's glorifying response, echoed by the adoration of humanity and creation. ... The plan of salvation is totally fulfilled in the Son, and the faithful are invited - especially in the liturgy - to proclaim it and to reap its fruits."
Benedict implored the people, saying: "Let us seek to ensure that our thoughts and actions conform to Jesus' sentiments."
Then, adding his own off-the-cuff remarks, he said, "If we follow this path, if our thoughts and actions conform to the Lord, we live well and follow the correct path. The tenderness of God is a great consolation to us, but also a great daily responsibility."
Vatican City, Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - Following today’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict addressed a group of children from the "Citta di Speranza" (City of Hope) hospital in Padua, Italy, telling them encouragingly, that, Christ’s cross “helps us to understand the true meaning of suffering and pain.”
The Pope told the young people that, "As we heard during the catechesis, the cross of Christ brings us to understand the true meaning of suffering and pain. Unite yourselves spiritually to the Crucified Christ, and abandon yourselves in the hands of Mary, constantly invoking her in the Rosary."
According to the Vatican, the hospital came into being in 1994 with the dual aim of building a new department of pediatric onco-hematology, which was inaugurated two years later, and to support research into childhood cancer.
At the conclusion of his message, the Holy Father added that October, the month dedicated to the Rosary, is now coming to an end. "I invite you”, he told the crowd of 50,000 pilgrims, “to recite with devotion this prayer, so dear to Christian people.”
“Let us pray for the many needs of the Church and the world,” he said, “especially for people hit by earthquakes and by physical and environmental calamities."
Washington D.C., Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called on members of Congress--from both sides of the aisle--to put aside their differences and unite to help rebuild the U.S. Gulf Coast, ravaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They also challenged lawmakers to do it without cutting vital services to the poor.
The October 19th letter was issued by Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, Chairman, Hurricane Relief Task Force, and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, Chairman, Domestic Policy Committee.
In it, the bishops wrote that, “The waters of Katrina and Rita have receded, leaving our country and the Congress to face the urgent and enormous national task of recovery and rebuilding.”
“How we meet this challenge”, they said, “will be a test and an important sign of what kind of a nation we are and wish to be.”
The bishops stressed however, that they would actively oppose “any effort to pay for the costs of Katrina and Rita by cutting services in essential programs that serve the basic needs of low-income or vulnerable people.”
At a key moment when congress is deciding policy and funding for the Gulf recovery the bishops wrote that “The needs of the poor and most vulnerable must have first claim on our common efforts.”
“The poor and vulnerable cannot be left behind again,” they continued. “Each step of the way, the response to this disaster and plans for future recovery must be judged by how they touch the lives of ‘the least among us’” (Mt. 25).
“It would be wrong,” they stressed, “to cut essential food, housing and health care for the poor while the rest of us make no real sacrifice and, in fact, benefit from recent tax cuts.”
On September 14th, the bishop’s administrative committee issued a statement called, “Hurricane Katrina: Reaching Out, Renewal and Recovery in Faith and Solidarity.” At that time they also formed a task force for hurricane relief, headed by Houston-Galveston Archbishop Fiorenza, one of the co-authors of last week’s letter.
, Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) -
On Sunday, Rosa Parks, the 92-year old symbol of the civil rights movement who refused to turn over her bus seat to a white man in the winter of 1955, thus sparking what would become one of the most profound human rights crusades in history, died quietly at her home in Detroit.
Fr. Frank Pavone, head of the group, Priests for Life, said yesterday that Parks should be an inspiration and a symbol for the pro-life movement because of her recognition of divine law over the law of man.
Fr. Pavone released a joint statement this week with Dr. Alveda King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece, who is also an active voice for numerous human rights issues.
In their statement, Fr. Pavone and Dr. King said that "We are saddened at the death of Rosa Parks today and remember her with gratitude. Rosa Park's act of defiance in refusing to move to the back of a bus was actually an act of obedience to God, affirming the equality of every human being.”
“Today,” they continued, “those who fight for the equality of children before birth must likewise resist unjust laws that permit abortion. Individuals should refuse to cooperate in the implementation of policies that allow the killing of children."
Mrs. Park’s simple act led to the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott--a key civil rights moment in which African-Americans refused to use the city’s bus service for over 13 months.
Their actions caught the attention of a then 26-year old preacher named Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote in his 1958 book, "Stride Toward Freedom,” that "Mrs. Parks's arrest was the precipitating factor rather than the cause of the protest.”
“The cause”, he said, “lay deep in the record of similar injustices."
Pro-life leaders say that similar deep-rooted injustices are still active today, particularly against the unborn baby, killed by the millions each year in abortions.
Lincoln, Neb., Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - While the ominous subject of priest shortages in many parts of the world took center stage at the recent Synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome, the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska is reporting that their numbers for men committing to a life of priestly service and celibacy, are thriving.
The Daily Nebraskan newspaper reported today that the Diocese currently boasts the highest ratio of priests to faithful in the U.S.
According to the Official Catholic Directory of 2005, there are currently 121 active diocesan priests and 89,236 Catholics in the Diocese of Lincoln.
This results in one priest for every 737 Catholics in Lincoln, compared to a national average of one priest for every 4,723 Catholics.
The nearby Diocese of Omaha is not far behind, with one priest for every 1,755 Catholics--still well above the national average.
Part of the area’s success is the benefit of having their own seminary--Saint Gregory the Great--right there in the diocese. Many however, credit the vocational boon to the diocese’s faithfulness to the Magisterial teaching of the Church.
Fr. Robert Matya, chaplain at the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman center near the University of Nebraska campus thinks that the diocese‘s success is not simply a matter of politics, as many may assume.
“It’s not that we try to be overly conservative,” he told the Daily Nebraskan, “but as a diocese, we do try to act how God wants us to be, and I think that is very appealing to a lot of these young men.”
Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, who was installed at Bishop of Lincoln in 1992, wrote in a recent column of the importance “for all Catholics to obey our Lord's command to pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood.”
He stressed, at the same time, that “it is equally important to pray for those who are already our priests.”
Fr. Matya also told the Nebraskan that, “Our Catholic schools have always been terrific here…We have also really been blessed with lots of young, enthusiastic priests … and I believe it’s easier for these kids coming out of high school to connect with that enthusiasm.”
Oakland, Calif., Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - Livermore City Council approved establishment of the East Bay's first new Catholic high school in more than 40 years, reported Contra Costa Times.
Approval was passed Monday and plans have already been drawn up.
The Diocese of Oakland plans to build the school in phases and start classed in 2008. The school is designed to accommodate up to 1,600 students. It would include a chapel, performing and visual arts facilities, sports fields and 816 parking spaces.
The council approved a development agreement and conditional use permit for a 32-acre campus on 122 acres. The remaining 90 acres will be preserved as open space.
Parents and students attended the standing-room only city council meeting and burst into applause when the decision was announced.
A new Catholic high school in Livermore will be more convenient for Tri-Valley families, who are currently sending their children to schools at quite a distance from their homes. At the same time, the new school will relieve enrollment pressures on already packed schools that have been forced to turn kids away. High schools like Moreau, De La Salle and Carondelet have waiting lists, Sr. Barbara Bray, assistant superintendent for the diocese told the Contra Costa Times.
The diocese plans to launch its fund-raising campaign immediately and to begin construction in 2007.
In addition to the conventional Catholic school planned for Livermore, the diocese is considering a new Catholic high school in Oakland that would be modeled after Chicago's Jesuit-run Cristo Rey High. It combines job training and academics for students in low-income areas.
Detroit, Mich., Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - Civil rights pioneer activist Rosa Parks was “an instrument of God,” said Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit Monday upon hearing of the death Rosa Parks.
"In her own simple way, Rosa Parks changed the history of our nation,” said the cardinal in his message. Parks lived in Detroit and died Monday at the age of 92. Parks action was credited for sparking the U.S. civil rights movement when, in 1955, she refused to move from her seat at the front of the bus, previously reserved for Caucasians, in Alabama
“She forced us to recognize the dignity of every person,” the cardinal continued. “She was a prophet -- a common instrument of God inviting us and challenging us to a new vision of solidarity, equality and justice.”
Bishop Eddie Long of Atlanta said Parks “will always be remembered as a shining light in a dim world. Her legacy as a catalyst for social change and justice for all mankind will always be remembered and cherished for countless generations to come.”
“Mrs. Parks’ ultimate stand in life was that she remained seated; her ultimate role as an activist was that she did not move. For that, I honor the life and legacy of the matriarch of a nationwide movement that birthed a global ideology of equality and justice for all,” he said.
Vatican City, Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s international director of interreligious affairs, will be the Jewish speaker at the official Vatican celebration of the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate Oct. 27.
“As we celebrate this revolutionary transformation in the Catholic Church’s teaching about Jews, Judaism and Israel, we must urge that these teachings become an essential component of the training of priests,” said Rabbi Rosen. “Nostra Aetate must be woven more profoundly into the fabric of the Church.” Rabbi Rosen is also president of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jewry, and Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Emeritus archbishop of Paris, will also address the assembly.
The American Jewish Committee said the rabbi will focus on Vatican-Israel relations, especially the significance of the recently established Bilateral Commission for Dialogue between the Vatican and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
On a separate occasion next week, Cardinal Kasper will present him also with the Mt. Zion Award 2005 on Nov. 3 at the Dormition Abbey on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. Both clerics will be participating in the Hebrew University’s conference marking the Nostra Aetate anniversary. AJC is a cosponsor of the conference.
Toledo, Ohio, Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - A new book demonstrates that the vast majority of priests are happy in their vocation and find their lives fulfilling. The Joy of Priesthood (Ave Maria Press, $15.95) is by author and licensed psychologist Fr. Stephen J. Rossetti.
Survey results before, during, and after the sexual abuse crisis began in 2002 consistently show priests are happy in their work.
In his own survey of 1,286 priests, taken between September 2003 and April 2005, Fr. Rossetti found that 80.2 percent agreed with the statement: "My morale is good."
When presented with the statement, "Overall, I am happy as a priest," 90.2 percent agreed, and more than 90 percent said they would do it all over again if given the choice of entering the priesthood.
On the other hand, while the vast majority of priests feel that their personal morale is high, they are concerned about their brethren. Only 38 percent agreed with the statement, "Morale in the priesthood is good today."
The greatest concern for priests today is their heavy workloads, Fr. Rossetti the Ohio Bladw. Many are stretched thin as they serve one large or several small parishes, often being the only priest in the parish.
"The life of a priest witnesses to the fact that there are more important values in life than genital sex and money," he said. "There's forgiveness, friendship, compassion ... those are the kinds of eternal values that all of us need. You can live without genital sex, but you cannot live without love."
Fr. Rossetti has been counseling priests for 16 years at the Saint Luke Institute, a residential treatment center in Silver Spring, Md., where he serves as president and chief executive officer.
Vatican City, Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - With the appointment of Father Juan Carlos Romanin, SDB, as the new bishop of Rio Gallegos, Argentina, Pope Benedict XVI has now named two Argentine bishops during his pontificate. The new bishop-elect will head up one of the most extensive and sparsely populated dioceses of the South American country.
Bishop-elect Romanin, 51, becomes the fourth Salesian bishop to head of the Diocese of Rio Gallegos, taking over for Bishop Alejandro Antonio Buccolini, SDB, who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Bishop-elect Romanin was born in the town of Sarandi on November 4, 1954. He took his first vows as a Salesian in 1971 and made his final profession in 1978. He was ordained a priest in 1981 and became a teacher of Philosophy and Salesian spirituality. Up to now he has been director of the Salesian Community in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
The Diocese of Rio Gallegos was created by Pope John XXIII in 1961 and covers over 164,000 square miles, with a population 300,000, 60% of which are Catholic.
The diocese has 28 parishes, 44 priests, 5 deacons and 88 religious. It also operates 20 schools.
Vatican City, Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - The Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, will beatify eight martyrs of the Spanish Civil War on October 29 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Sister Maria de los Angeles Ginar Marti and Father Josep Tapies i Sirvant and his 6 companions will be beatified during the ceremony on Saturday. Father Josep and his companions were arrested and shot on August 13, 1936. His cause for beatification was opened in 1946, and in 1992, the bishop of Urgell decided to include his six companions in the cause. The remains of all seven were exhumed on November 24, 1938 and given proper burial in the town of La Pobla de Segur.
Sister Maria de los Angeles Ginar Marti of the Congregation of Zealous Sisters of Eucharistic Devotion, was born in Mallorca on April 3, 1894.
She was killed by republican soldiers after being driven out of her convent in Dehesa de la Villa. Her remains were found in a mass grave and are now buried at the congregation’s convent in Madrid.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints granted official recognition of their martyrdom in April of 2004.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - Police in Tijuana, Mexico, announced this week that a 51 year-old priest has been killed in the border town in an apparent act of organized crime.
Father Luis Velasquez Romero was shot seven times and was found in his car with his hands bound. He was pastor of Santa Maria Reina parish in Tijuana.
Police officials said the murder appeared to be the work of organized crime.
Bishop Rafael Romo of Tijuana expressed grief at the news saying, “We all feel hurt by this violence.” He said people should not wait for such violence “to affect those closest to us; rather we must realize that we all need to unite in combating crime.”
“I was not aware of any threats against him,” the bishop said. Likewise, he highlighted the impeccable reputation of Father Velasquez, who was a priest for more than 20 years and as an expert in Canon Law was part of the Diocesan Tribunal.
Vatican City, Oct 26, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, is in Moscow this week for meetings with both government officials and Church leaders.
This is the first visit by Archbishop Lajolo to Russia and according to reports, he will be meeting with Russian foreign minister, Serguei Lavrov, representatives of the Duma and Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk.
Lavrov said the meetings would be part of the “continuation of the dialogue” between the Holy See and Russia, which “has assumed a stable character after the establishing of diplomatic relations in 1990.”
During his visit, Archbishop Lajolo will also participate in a Eucharistic Congress at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow.