Archive of April 19, 2006

Media reports spiritual revival in Germany triggered by Benedict XVI

Berlin, Germany, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - The German newspaper Handelsblatt is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI has triggered a spiritual revival in his native country, which he will visit for the second time in September.
In a special edition for the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate, the German daily noted that in visiting his native country twice in such a short period of time, the Pontiff has set off a spiritual awakening among many Germans.
The article in Handelsblatt points out that the September trip is “not an official visit, but rather a visit to the roots of his life.”  While there exists among Germans a general euphoria about having the Pope so close, the article adds that “there is another perspective that many previously thought impossible and that must be pointed out: this 79 year-old wise man could spark in this moment a revival in the Church in Germany.”
The newspaper also points out the impact that Pope Benedict XVI’s visit for World Youth Day had on young people in Germany “in speaking to them about frustration, dissatisfaction and love in a way perhaps unlike any other pastor of the Catholic Church in Germany before.”

“He awoke in young people especially, who see in the person of the Pope a true father and pastor, a true wave of optimism,” the article states.  

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‘Pray to God to allow me to be a meek and steady pastor of his Church’, asks Pope on first anniversary of election

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - Gathered with more than 60,000 pilgrims in Saint Peters square today, Pope Benedict celebrated the one year anniversary of being elected successor of Peter, and asked the faithful to “continue to sustain me and to pray to God to allow me to be a meek and steady pastor of his Church.”

The pontiff vividly recalled the day, one year ago, in which “the conclave ofcardinals decided to choose my poor person to succeed the lamented and loved great  Pope John Paul II”, something he called “absolutely unexpected and surprising for me.”

“I recall with emotion the first impression I had as I looked down from the central balcony of the basilica, of pilgrims gathered in this very square; it has stayed in my mind and heart,” he continued.  

Pope Benedict then directly addressed those present saying, “The support of God and the Saints cannot be substituted by anything, and your closeness, dear friends, comforts me, you who never cease to offer me the gift of your indulgence and your love.”

“I thank from my heart all those are by my side in various ways,” he said, emotionally, “from near and also from far, spiritually, with their affection and their prayers: to each of you, I ask that you continue to sustain meand to pray to God to allow me to be a meek and steady pastor of his Church.”

Benedict XVI chose to place today’s festive feeling in the context of Easter. He reminded the faithful of the first moments the Risen Lord spent with the women and the apostles. The Gospel message, “the nucleus of which is the Easter mystery”, was spread “with courage” to the ends of the earth, by them and their successors.

And still today, he added, “each Christian is called to proclaim the Gospel”. Particularly addressing young people who were present, he said, “Christ exhorts and invites you too to be his witnesses,” and asked that “the Virgin Mary help us understand this great mystery of love that changes hearts and allows us to enjoy the joy of Easter.”

Following the general audience, Benedict XVI returned to Castelgandolfo, where he will stay until Friday.

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Archbishop Chaput praises role of permanent deacons in building up both priests and lay

Denver, Colo., Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - Permanent deacons offer a unique witness to lay people, priests and bishops as well as a constant reminder of the Christian vocation to charity, said Archbishop Charles Chaput this week.

“With laypeople, they often share the experience of marriage, families and secular jobs. With priests and bishops, they share the vocation of ordained ministry — a sacramental configuring to the work of the Lord,” the archbishop said in his latest column, published in the Denver Catholic Register.

The archbishop’s comments coincide with the convention of the National Association of Deacon Directors, which is being held in Denver, from April 19 to 22. “It’s a privilege for us to welcome them,” the archbishop said.

“It’s a privilege for priests and bishops to serve alongside our deacons and draw strength from their unselfish witness of charity,” he added. “Deacons embody a special commitment to servanthood as a keystone of the entire ordained ministry.”

The archbishop explained that diaconal ordination is the “first and foundational part” of priestly ordination, “where the person ordained is configured to ‘Christ, the servant’ who comes to serve and not to be served.”

He conceded that many Catholics today have no memory of the Church before the Second Vatican Council, when there weren’t any deacons.

“One of the key reasons the U.S. bishops advanced in asking the Holy See to restore the permanent diaconate after Vatican II was to provide an ‘impetus for the Church to adapt herself to the changing needs of society,’” the archbishop explained.

While the ministry of deacons is often taken for granted today, the archbishop said, the faithful must “remember that without them…the Church would be a far weaker and much less effective leaven in the world than she is.”

“In the midst of so many challenges facing the Church in our day, our permanent deacons are another reminder that Jesus Christ is with us — always,” he stated.

He commended the work and commitment of Deacon Jim Doyle and other deacons in the battle against two bills that seek to lift the statutes of limitation on sex abusers in the Church — House Bill 1090 and Senate Bill 143.

Deacons have worked hard to prevent these bills from “selectively and retroactively punish the Catholic community today for events that happened decades ago and in which the vast majority of Catholics played no part,” he said. “In doing so, they’ve taken up an important task of their vocation: serving Jesus Christ by defending their parishes and their Church.”

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Pope Benedict firmly condemns Tel-Aviv bombing

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his "firmest condemnation" of Monday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, praying that relations between Israelis and Palestinians would not take a "tragic turn,” but rather, that the two sides will once again take the steps that will allow for peace and security.

The Pontiff continued his message, stressing that even the "legitimate" rights of the Palestinians could not justify such attacks. The attack on a crowded fast food restaurant--said to be the deadliest in 20 months--killed nine people.

Benedict made the comments at the end of his weekly general audience, which fell on the first anniversary of his election as pontiff.

He added that he is continually praying that the two sides will make substantial efforts to “live in peace and security, one next to the other, as children of the same father in heaven."

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Catholic magazine apologizes over Mohammed cartoon

Rome, Italy, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - The editor of a religious magazine apologized Sunday for publishing a cartoon that angered several Muslim organizations in Italy, reported the Middle East Times.

The cartoon appeared in the March issue of Studi Cattolici. It was based on Dante Aleghieri's epic poem "The Divine Comedy" in which the Roman poet Virgil guides the Italian poet through the various circles of Hell. The cartoon shows Prophet Mohammed among the damned, cut in two for "bringing divisions to society".

The editor, Cesare Cavalleri, said it was not his intention to offend anyone and asked for forgiveness. He said he was surprised by the reaction to the cartoon, adding that the cartoon had been "interpreted as anti-Islamic when it was a condemnation of the cultural identity crisis of the West".

Cavalleri is a member of Opus Dei, and the magazine is published by the same company that puts out the works of Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva.

The prelature of Opus Dei however, issued a recent statement saying that Studi Cattolici is not one of its publications.

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Priest warns: Hawaii set to become abortion state

Front Royal, Va., Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - A Virginia-based pro-life group is urging Hawaii’s governor to veto a bill that would allow late-term abortions in the aloha state.

HB 1242 would allow late term abortions in a clinic or physician’s office. It would also remove residency requirements, paving the way for abortion tourism to flourish on the island-state.

“A small group of powerful elites are pushing the most radical abortion legislation in world history on the beautiful people of Hawaii,” said Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, in a statement.

“Hawaiian culture is world renowned for its respect for the dignity of human life and celebration of family, Ohana in Hawaiian,” he said.

“If Hawaii’s Republican Governor fails to veto this radical abortion bill … Hawaii will go from the Aloha State to the Abortion State in nine short days,” he warned.

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Catholic teens take faith door-to-door

, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - Nearly 150 teens traveled to the Diocese of Arlington last week for the ‘Youth for the Third Millennium Mega Mission’--an outreach of Regnum Christi--for a week of door-to-door evangelization.

According to Arlington’s Catholic Herald newspaper, the teens were sponsored by five parishes — St. John Parish, McLean; St. Catherine of Siena, Great Falls; St. Louis, Alexandria; St. Anthony of Padua, Falls Church; and St. Mary of Sorrows, Fairfax.

St. Mary of Sorrows hosted nearly 30 young men for the mission. Many of the participants came from Maryland or Washington and were joined by members of local youth groups.

The participants went door-to-door several times during Holy Week, from Wednesday to Saturday. They explained that they were Catholic missionaries and invited people to attend Holy Week activities at the parish, including a Living Stations of the Cross, performed by young people from St. Mary of Sorrows. Some attended.

The teens returned with stories. Some people had welcomed them into their homes and listened to what they had to say. They met people who didn’t know how to return to the Church or didn’t realize they were welcome back. Others were less positive, slamming the door in the young people’s faces or expressing their anger toward the Church.

The teens also participated in service projects for their host parish. During the Stations of the Cross, the young people carried a tall wooden cross around the block. On the main highways along their route, people honked their horns in support.

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Moscow newspaper publishes Russian translation of ‘Deus caritas est’

Moscow, Russia, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - Coinciding with the celebration of Easter Sunday, the Catholic newspaper “Svet Evangelja” (The Light of the Gospel) has published the first Russian translation of the new encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, “Deus caritas est.”
The Russian-language translation, which is not an official Vatican edition, was included as a supplement in the Sunday edition of the newspaper.  The bishops of Russia have announced they will seek the Vatican’s approval to publish the translation as a book.

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Humanity’s progress linked to the Resurrection of Christ, says argentine bishop

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Maria Arancibia of Mendoza, Argentina, said this week that the Christian vision of progress is not pessimistic, but rather proposes to the human family a high ideal of life that encourages it to struggle with strength and hope for the sake of the good.
The archbishop expressed lament that for many, “the mysteries of the death and resurrection of Jesus have nothing to do with the problems that the family and society are facing today and that are of concern to the community and its leaders.”
The problems facing the world require a renewed focus on the meaning of Easter, he continued, because faith in the risen Christ is connected with humanity’s progress.  Overcoming such problems means enduring purification through the cross and resurrection of Christ and seeking perfection in all human activities which, because of pride and selfishness, are constantly at risk, the archbishop stated.
In speaking about Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical “Deus caritas est,” Archbishop Arancibia called it a “beautiful teaching about human love, which finds its healing and perfection in the grace of God.”   The Pope, he continued, speaks even of “a love that is capable of questioning all human activity and making the fundamental obligations of justice possible.”
The archbishop recalled that for Christians, “the striving to establish universal brotherhood is not a utopia.”  Rather, “love expressed through respect should not be practiced only in important moments, but also in the hundreds of occasions of daily life,” he said.
“This vital certainty has as its center the Paschal mystery, which becomes a source of wisdom and hope in these days as Jesus Christ, suffering death for all of us, teaches us to carry the cross that the flesh and the world place upon the shoulders of those who seek peace and justice,” the archbishop said in conclusion.

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Third edition of historic Cuban magazine published

Havana, Cuba, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - The Catholic Press Union in Cuba has published the third edition of the magazine Verdad y Esperanza in order to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the National Cuban Ecclesial Encounter (NCEE) and to highlight the challenges that the Church faces today.
The first edition of the magazine was published in 1998 on the occasion of Pope John Paul II‘s visit.  Five years later the second edition was published, featuring articles from diverse Catholic publications in Cuba.
The 72-page third edition is dedicated entirely to the NCEE, an historic event which took place February 17-23, 1986.
Father Antonio Rodriguez, one of the contributors to the new edition, said the magazine is important because “a large number of the Catholic faithful today, including people involved in ministry—both Cubans and foreigners—do not know the letter, and therefore, the spirit of the NCEE.”
Father Jose Conrado Rodriguez, another contributor, said the NCEE continues to be relevant because it highlights questions and problems that are still unresolved.
The magazine also features interviews with important leaders from the laity and the clergy in Cuba, as well as a transcript of a talk given by Auxiliary Bishop Felipe de Jesus Estevez of Miami, a letter sent by Pope John Paul II through the late Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, the inaugural address of then-president of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Bishop Adolfo Rodriguez, and the final statement of the NCEE and a pastoral instruction published by the bishops.
The editors of the magazine also noted the new edition leaves room to discuss to the challenges of the present and the future for the Church in Cuba, such as the role of the laity, Catholic media, and national reconciliation.

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Catholic leaders always appreciate proposals for dialogue, cooperation, says Apostolic Nuncio to Russia.

Moscow, Russia, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Holy See’s official representative in Moscow, recently answered questions from the Interfax news agency on the state of the Catholic Church in Russia. He affirmed that “the current Russian legislation provides a real opportunity for the communities and structures of the [Russian Church] to exist normally and to develop.”

The Nuncio also addressed the next World Summit of Religious Leaders to be held in Moscow saying “It was with great and well-deserved interest that the Holy Sea responded to the Russian Orthodox Church's initiative to convene a World Summit of Religious Leaders early this July.”

Referring to the event, Archbishop insisted that “Catholic Church leaders have always appreciated proposals for dialogue and cooperation in overcoming the major problems of humanity today. There will be a high-level representation,” at the event, he said.

The Nuncio said that another important concern is religious freedom in Russia. “I am delighted to testify that the current Russian legislation provides for a real opportunity for the communities and structures of the Catholic Church in Russia to exist normally and to develop,” he said.

“My experience of the present Russian reality allows me to hope that the Catholic communities may, together with other Christians, bear witness to the truth before the world which needs it more than ever,” Archbishop Mennini continued.
Finally, he was asked about the controversy of the Da Vinci Code movie. He stated that “this is exactly a clear case of search for a false sensation, already mentioned, aimed against the Church and Christianity to discredit them.”


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Church celebrates 500th Birthday of St. Peter’s Basilica

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2006 (CNA) - Yesterday, the Catholic Church began celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the largest church in Christendom--St. Peter’s Basilica. Construction on the massive structure began in 1506.

The Vatican recently announced a series of exhibits and ceremonies continuing throughout the year to mark the occasion.

The Basilica was dedicated in 1626 by Pope Urban VIII. It stands on the site where St. Peter himself was crucified in the first century. The body of the first Pope is buried directly underneath the main altar.

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