Vatican City, Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - Since his installation as Pope last spring, Benedict XVI has received thousands of visitors and pilgrims each week to hear his audiences and addresses. This morning, he took time to thank and encourage those who make these massive gatherings possible.
Officials who organize and provide service and assistance during pontifical audiences, ceremonies and official gatherings met with the Pope today, who encouraged them to welcome all believers into the Papal household--which he called a home to all believers.
The group is collectively known as "Addetti di Anticamera."
The Pope reminded them that they make up a centuries-old "Collegio" under the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, and added that although "Times change,” and “usage and customs vary…what remains the same is the spirit with which each of you is called to work alongside the one called by Divine Providence to govern the Universal Church.”
He stressed that “since this household, the Pontifical Household, is home to all believers,” the group “must ensure that it is hospitable to all those who come to visit the Pope."
Pope Benedict challenged the “Addetti” to work with a "commitment to bear witness to Him who is the true Lord of the household: Jesus Christ.”
“This”, he said, “involves maintaining constant dialogue with Him in prayer, growing in friendship and intimacy with Him, and remaining prepared to bear witness to His welcoming love with all you meet.
He told them that “if this is the spirit with which you undertake your duties, ... then [those duties] can become a special apostolate, an opportunity to transmit courteously and cordially the joy of being Christ's disciples in all situations and all moments of our lives."
As the Church prepares to celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord tomorrow, the Pope spent part of his audience speaking about the person of Mary.
"Just as she presented Jesus to the Magi,” he said, “so the Virgin continues to offer Him to all humanity. Let us accept Him from her hands: Christ fulfils the most profound expectations of our hearts and gives meaning to all out plans and actions. May He be present in families and reign everywhere with the power of His love."
Rome, Italy, Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - This evening at six o’clock, as a tradition started by Pope Paul VI for the eve of the Solemnity of the Epiphany, Pope Benedict visited the garbage collectors of Rome at Porta Cavallegeri.
Pope Benedict warned “not being lured by false appeals of what is ephemeral and not lasting. The warning comes from the Pontiff as he visited the nativity scene of garbage collectors at Porta Cavallegeri. “It is not worth it just to stop and wait that things happen,” he warned.
For Benedict XVI, “to visit the nativity scene specially this evening, the vigil of the solemnity of the Epiphany is like resuming the pilgrimage to Bethlehem, to the Holy place where the Redeemer was born, and to Jerusalem where the Magi from the East arrived to meet Jesus, Mary and Joseph, where they stayed to contemplate this evangelical scene.”
“It becomes an opportunity to meditate on the central mystery of our own salvation,” the Pope concluded.
Pope Benedict continued by expressing his concern for the evolution of the situation in the Middle East, which incertainties are deepened due the illness of Prime Minister Sharon.
"In this hours let's pray for peace in the Holy Land, so that they may have a longlasting peace." the Pope said.
Washington D.C., Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - The U.S. bishops have called on Catholics to stand in solidarity with all migrants, including immigrants, refugees and human trafficking victims. Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino issued the call for the 25th annual National Migration Week, Jan. 8-14, on behalf of the bishops’ conference.
The theme for 2006 is Journey to Justice. Bishop Barnes cited the joint pastoral letter by the U.S. and Mexican bishops, titled "Strangers No Longer, Together on the Journey of Hope":
“From its founding to the present, the United States remains a nation of immigrants grounded in the firm belief that newcomers offer new energy, hope and cultural diversity,” the pastoral letter reads. “Our common faith in Jesus Christ moves us to search for ways that favor a spirit of solidarity. It is a faith that transcends borders and bids us to overcome all forms of discrimination and violence so that we may build relationships that are just and loving.”
Bishop Barnes said migrants to the U.S. too often face discrimination and exploitation. “For that reason, the bishops, along with a broad coalition of Catholic organizations have committed themselves to changing minds and hearts through the national Justice for Immigrants: Together on the Journey of Hope campaign,” the bishop explained.
He said by embracing newcomers in a spirit of peace and hope, the people truly form the Body of Christ.
Chicago, Ill., Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - It’s been said that in an era of rampant sexual misunderstanding, the late Pope John Paul II wrote more about true human love and sexuality than all of his predecessors put together. If Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George is correct, Pope Benedict XVI could follow suit in his first encyclical.
Although he admittedly has not seen the new document--which could be released within days--the Cardinal told the Chicago Sun Times that he has heard comments that the Holy Father may utilize this first official teaching to redeem the tarnished idea of eros, often known as “erotic love.”
According to reports, the Pope has asked Cardinal George to speak about the major themes of the new encyclical, entitled: "Deus, Caritas Est," or "God is Love," during a gathering at the end of the month.
The Cardinal told the Sun-Times that in the document, the Pope will "talk about Christ, which is a good thing for a pope to talk about in his first encyclical. John Paul II did that…And he is going to talk about the relationship between love and truth, between agape and eros."
Cardinal George cited Swedish Lutheran author, Anders Nygren, who wrote in the mid-1900’s that while Agape--the unconditional love that God has for mankind is the only authentically Christian love, eros--named after the Greek god of love--is inherently selfish and turns man away from God.
"What the pope is going to do”, the Cardinal said, “is to try to save eros. That is to say that our own human love, our desires, are good in themselves.”
“The distinction”, he noted, “between agape and eros is not a clean one. In fact, one influences the other and therefore both should be considered good. But we are sinful creatures, so they can be misused."
Many expect Pope Benedict’s first encyclical to help shape the theme for the remainder of his papacy. John Paul II published 14 encyclicals, the first of which was Redemptor Hominis, or The Redeemer of Man.
He was also widely praised for his teaching on human sexuality, often referred to as a whole as the “Theology of the Body.” The late Pope taught that sexuality and the marital act helps man to imitate and embody the love of God through the communion of the Trinity.
Rome, Italy, Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - A spokesman for Cardinal Josef Glemp of Poland announced this week on Polish television that Pope Benedict XVI will visit the country May 25-28.
Although the date has not been confirmed by the Holy See, the spokesman said the papal visit would begin in Warsaw, where the Pope would meet with President Lech Kaczynski and Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz.
Afterwards he would head to Czestochowa and then to Wadowice, where Pope John Paul II was born.
The Pope would then travel to Auschwitz, the site of a German concentration camp in World War II. He would continue on to Lagiewniki and finally to Krakow.
Polish radio reported that a delegation from the Bishops’ Conference of Poland and officials from the Interior Ministry carried out visual inspections of every place the Pontiff would visit. On January 2, the delegation, together with the chief of police, traveled to Czestochowa and on January 3 to Krakow, Auschwitz and Wadowice. On January 10 a delegation from the Holy See is expected to arrive in Poland to carry out more preparations.
Madrid, Spain, Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - The Spanish pro-family group Platform for the Promotion of the Family (PROFAM) has published a set of goals for 2006 in response to the Socialist government’s failure to address family issues in 2005.
According to a press release from the Platform, “the institution that is most valued by the Spanish people has become the one most attacked by public leaders through the promulgation or preparation of arbitrary laws and unfulfilled promises.”
PROFAM has thus proposed action policies for 2006 which it will send to President Jose Luis Zapatero. Included are proposals that the government focus on helping rather than destroying the family and finding ways to limit the spread of divorce, which was facilitated by new laws approved by the government in 2005. PROFAM also noted the widespread rejection by married couples of a law that would make homosexual unions equivalent to marriage.
PROFAM also called on the government to reform education laws and to support the “rights of parents as the sole educators of their children.” The organization also urged the government to guarantee the right to religious education and that it be given “the same treatment as other subjects.”
PROFAM also rejected new laws legalizing abortion. “We do not accept the holocaust of innocent deaths which as now surpassed one million. Enough!” the statement exclaimed.
Fort Wayne, Ind., Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - A Christian radio station in Fort Wayne has gone from multi-denominational to all Catholic, all the time.
The new WLYV 1450 AM, now called Redeemer Radio, started the transition to 100 percent Catholic programming Dec. 1. The transition was complete by Jan. 1.
Bishop John D'Arcy visited the station and blessed it, praying for its new work. Currently, much of the station's current programming is from national Catholic radio, but Redeemer Radio president Chris Langford said more local programs will be developed.
The station plans to broadcast in Spanish weekdays from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Washington D.C., Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - Hundreds of pro-life clergy, advocates and abortion survivors will convene for the 12th pro-life Christian worship service on Capitol Hill Jan. 23.
Founded by twin brothers and fellow pro-life activists, Paul and Rob Schenck, the National Memorial for the Preborn and their Mothers and Fathers is both a solemn remembrance of all those harmed by abortion, as well as a joyous celebration of God's precious gift of life. Prayers will be said throughout the ceremony for all victims of abortion.
Now under the sponsorship of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, the National Memorial Service will be hosted by its president, Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. Leading the service will be clergy from numerous denominations representing Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. Admission is free and open to the public.
The National Memorial Service is timed to coincide with many other pro-life events marking the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. Many Memorial attendees also take part in the annual March for Life immediately following.
The service will be held at the US Senate Russell Building, Caucus Room 325 (subject to last-minute change), 1st and C Streets, NE, Washington, DC, at 8:45 a.m.
For more information and room number confirmation, visit www.nationalclergycouncil.org.
Terre Haute, Ind., Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - An NBC affiliate in Indiana has dropped a new drama, which has Jesus appearing as a recurring character and features a troubled Episcopal priest who is the father of a dysfunctional family. The decision was due to the volume of protests from viewers as well as a pro-family group.
The American Family Association told WorldNetDaily.com that it hopes other NBC affiliates would join WTWO in Terre Haute, Ind., in its decision to not air "The Book of Daniel." The series is set to debut Friday night.
The association’s chairman, Donald Wildmon, reported that several companies have notified his group that they have no plans to sponsor the show.
"We are tired of NBC's anti-Christian bigotry," said Wildmon. The association has an online petition against the program, which is being promoted as the riskiest show of the year and the only network prime-time drama series with a regular male homosexual character, a 23-year-old Republican son. The show’s writer is also a homosexual.
Other characters include a wife who relies on mid-day martinis, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter. The Episcopal priest's lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law.
The show’s writer, Jack Kenny, has defended his program, saying that his characters are spiritual people who believe in Jesus, reported WorldNetDaily.com.
Rome, Italy, Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - A judge in the Italian town of Viterbo, near Rome, has ordered a priest to appear in court at the end of January and offer proof of the existence of Jesus Christ.
Luigi Cascioli, a retired farm worker and militant atheist, filed a lawsuit against Father Righi in which he accused the local priest of abusing “the credulity of the people” and because the priest denounced him in a parish bulletin for doubting the historical existence of Jesus.
Several days ago, Judge Gaetano Mautone set a court date for the end of January and issued Father Righi a summons. The judge had originally rejected the case but he was overruled by an appeals court, which ruled Cascioli had reasonable arguments to sustain his accusation that Father Righi had fallen into “abuse of the credulity of the people.”
Cascioli believes there is no historical proof that Jesus lived and died in Palestine during the first century despite the written records of the Gospels, which Christians accept as a matter of faith, and therefore, in his opinion, there is no basis for the existence of Christianity.
Last April Cascioli accused Father Righi of “abusing the credulity of the people” and of stealing another’s identity (for claiming to act in persona Christi), which under Italian law constitute misdemeanors.
Father Righi noted that there is ample historical evidence of the existence of Jesus of Nazareth both in religious and secular texts and that, in any case, millions of persons have believed in Christ both as man and as Son of God throughout two thousand years. “If Cascioli doesn’t see the sun at midday, he can’t sue me just because I see it and he doesn’t,” the priest said.
Stamford, Conn., Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - A Chinese Priest, member of the underground church, Father Wang Wenzhi, fifty years old, a priest in the diocese of Yongnian in Hebei., was arrested by Chinese security officials after he finished offering his Mass in a family's private home on December 11, 2005 in Fengfeng City.
Father Wenzhi has been kept in the detention center of Guangping county ever since. "We understand that the Chinese government is attempting to brain-wash and force Father Wang to cooperate with the government in order to join the official communist- established Patriotic Church. We have been informed that the government has not been successful in its attempt to convert Father Wang to their official Church," said the Cardinal Kung Foundation.
Father Wang is one of the first group of priests ordained in the diocese of Yongnian approximately twenty years ago. On December 28 in the detention center of Guangping county he observed his twentieth anniversary of his priestly ordination.
In the meantime, Bishop Han Dingxiang of Yongnian has disappeared. He had been arrested by the Chinese government more than six years ago in December 1999. Since then he was kept in a government-run hostel somewhere in the diocese of Yongnian and, up until now, people were sometimes able to get a glimpse of him at his window.
Joseph Kung, the President of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, said: "Obviously, the intensified horror campaign by the Chinese government to force the underground Church religious and faithful to register with the official Patriotic Church is actively ongoing. I call once again urgently on the Olympic Committee to take note of these arrests and to consider canceling the Games in China in 2008 in order to preserve its good name and spirit."
Porto Alegre, Brazil, Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - In an article published in the Brazilian newspaper Jornal O Sul, a judge in Rio Grande do Sul, Alexandre Mussoi Moreira, noted the absurdity of passing laws that protect turtles under any circumstance, from the laying of their eggs until their natural death as full grown animals, and at the same time passing laws allow abortion for any reason up until the moment of birth.
Without addressing the arguments of those in favor of a proposed law that would legalize abortion in Brazil, Judge Mussoi Moreira outlined a series of legal reasons that show that passage of the law is prohibited by the country’s constitution.
The judge pointed out that Brazil’s constitution protects the right to life and that international treaties on human rights that are approved by Brazil’s Congress are equal to constitutional amendments and therefore are considered rights and fundamental guarantees.
Denver, Colo., Jan 5, 2006 (CNA) - Catholic News Agency director Alejandro Bermudez launches personal Blog, Catholic Outsider.
A daily updated, critical view of the Catholic world, comments on Catholic news, view upon its actors, a sort of “behind the scenes” of the news we publish.
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