Vatican City, May 23, 2006 (CNA) - On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's Encyclical "Haurietis aquas" on devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Benedict XVI addressed a letter to Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits),
The feast of the Sacred Heart will be celebrated this year on June 23. The Devotion of the Sacred Heart was spread through the works of Saint Claude-La Colombiere a Jesuit, the spiritual director of Saint Marguerite-Marie Alacoque.
"Fifty years on, Christians still have the ever present task of continuing to deepen their relationship with the Heart of Jesus so as to revive, within themselves, faith in God's salvific love," He said stressing the special role the Jesuits have in spreading the devotion.
Through the Sacred Heart, it is "this mystery of God's love for us," Pope Benedict continues, which "not only constitutes the content of veneration and devotion for the Heart of Jesus, it is, in the same way, the content of all true Christian spirituality and devotion. ... In fact, being Christian is only possible with our gaze fixed on the cross of our Redeemer."
The Pontiff calls for a true “veneration for the love of God”, that “appears only when we give closer consideration to its contribution, not only to knowledge, but also and above all to the personal experience of that love in faithful dedication and service."
“The experience of God's love is lived by man as a 'call' to which he must respond- he continues- the experience of love we gain through veneration for the pierced side of the Redeemer, safeguards us from the risk of closing in on ourselves, and makes us open to a life lived for others."
The Holy Father concludes his letter: "Gazing at the side pierced by the lance, where shines God's boundless will for salvation, cannot then be considered as a passing form of veneration or devotion. The adoration of God's love, which found historical-devotional expression in the symbol of the pierced heart, remains irreplaceable for a living relationship with God."
Damascus, Syria, May 23, 2006 (CNA) - Yesterday, the Apostolic Nuncio in Syria Giovanni Battista Morandini, met with the Minister of Religious Affairs Ziad al-Din al-Ayoubi on ways of developing joint cooperation between Syria and the Vatican.
For his part, the Nuncio underlined clergymen's role in spreading culture of amity and peace all over the world.
The story is reported by the Syrian-Arab news agency. The Nuncio wished to stress that Syria is a country of religious coexistence, “Everyone has ever visited or lived in Syria, definitely will know that she is the country of religions coexistence," he said, encouraging all people to visit Syria.
"When coming here they will change their ex-viewpoints and realize that they will live in peace, security and Islamic-Christian coexistence with the hospitable Syrian people," he added.
On the other hand, the minister said, "it is important to boost dialogue culture among people and religions in order to realize the international peace," He pointed out to the great suffering the Palestinian people has been undergoing because of the Zionist racial aggressive practices against them.
Birmingham, Ala., May 23, 2006 (CNA) - Catholics in a secular society must bear witness to Jesus by their right relationship to wealth, by respecting life from conception to natural death, by maintaining the dignity of the family, and by urging parents to be their children’s first educators of the faith.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham issued a pastoral letter outlining these four important ways of witness. The letter was read Sunday in churches throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
"These truths about human life, about the family, about education and about wealth are the foundation not only of our own happiness but also of the health of our society,” he wrote.
In the current secular society, “individuals are urged to fashion values of their own, deciding for themselves what is right and what is wrong, and pursuing their own desires even when doing so may hurt others,” the archbishop wrote. “As a result we live in a fragmented world, one in which divisions are deep and frightening for many.”
The archbishop said that Christians must first understand and live in a right relationship with wealth and prosperity.
“In God's plan, possessions and wealth are rightly ours only so that we can fulfil our responsibility towards others,” he explained. “We work and create wealth so that we can enhance our world in justice and charity. To long for wealth for its own sake is to lack inner freedom and to be enslaved.”
Christians must also uphold the “key truth that human life is not our own possession but always and everywhere a gift of God, from conception until natural death.”
Practically, he said, this takes the form of “nurturing and supporting children as well as young and expectant mothers and fathers; by caring with patience for those who have difficult special needs and for the sick, the elderly and the dying.”
Christians must uphold the family as the basis of stable life both for its members and for society and defend the structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage, he wrote.
Christians must also promote the right of parents to be the first and most important educators of their children, and the first and best teachers of the faith.
Concretely, this includes teaching children how to pray, understanding family life as a place of God's blessing, and guiding young people in their decisions and friendships.
Newark, N.J., May 23, 2006 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Newark will have the largest ordination in the country this year, with 17 ordinands.
Msgr. Tom Nydegger, vice rector of Immaculate Conception Seminary, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that this high number is the result of an effective recruiting campaign that has staff going into Catholic high schools and colleges and speak about vocations.
The men to be ordained in Newark on Saturday are between 29 and 52 years old. They come from as far away as South Korea and as close as Jersey City.
The Diocese of Paterson diocese will ordain four priests. Bishop John Smith of Trenton ordained three men Saturday.
Rome, Italy, May 23, 2006 (CNA) - Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano said he believes the Church can give a soul to Europe.
"The Church, without interfering in politics, can give a soul to this Europe. A Europe without a soul cannot exist, because it would not exist if there was not the Christianity," he reportedly told the Religious Information Service.
The cardinal spoke with the news service while in Sofia for the consecration of the new cathedral new Cathedral of St. Joseph. It was built on the same site as the old cathedral, which was destroyed during World War II. During the Communist era, authorities never permitted its reconstruction, so the faithful celebrated mass in a theatre for over 60 years.
Construction of the new cathedral began July 2, 2002. It can accommodate up to 350 people.
"The Church defends the value of life from conception to [natural] death: this is a huge vision in a Europe that sometimes favors only those who are well, forgetting the ill and the value of family,” he told the news service.
“It is important to come back to the human and Christian idea of family that has formed our nations. We must not forget the concept of international solidarity, too. I'm sure Bulgaria will contribute to the new Europe," he was quoted as saying.
During the homily, Cardinal Sodano welcomed Patriarch Maksim. He recalled Pope John Paul II's visit to Bulgaria. He exhorted the Bulgarians to reflect the rays of Christian faith in their society and to demonstrate to Europe that they are a Christian people.
Institutional authorities, representatives of the Bulgarian Orthodox church and Muslim authorities were also present at the mass.
"The new church is a great joy for all the Christians," said Orthodox Metropolitan Neofit, who donated an icon of the Virgin to the church.
Brighton, Mass., May 23, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston has issued “a stern reprimand and warning” to Dr. Robert Haddad, president and CEO of Caritas Christi, after receiving reports that Haddad had engaged in inappropriate conduct, consisting of kissing or hugging of employees.
The cardinal also issued a directive that Haddad participate in sexual harassment sensitivity training. Haddad was advised that any retaliatory action or any future credible complaints such as these would result in his immediate termination.
Cardinal O’Malley was first notified in late April of complaints regarding inappropriate conduct that had been made by two female employees at Caritas Christi. This conduct was alleged to have occurred on hospital property in public and in private.
According to a statement issued by the Archdiocese of Boston, “Cardinal O'Malley took these allegations extremely seriously and sought to resolve them as expeditiously as possible, in a manner that is fair to all involved parties.”
The cardinal consulted with legal counsel and Caritas Christi officials. An independent outside investigator was hired to investigate the complaints. In the course of the investigation, two other women also reported that they had experienced similar conduct by Haddad. The identity of the women who brought these allegations has not been shared with Haddad.
The statement says Haddad gave the cardinal his assurance that such behavior would not occur again. He also said he did not intend to offend anyone by his actions.
The Caritas Christi Board of Governors voted unanimously (with one member abstaining) Thursday to accept the cardinal's disciplinary plan.
The outside investigator is in the process of making direct outreach to the women who brought these complaints forward, to assure them that their complaints were investigated thoroughly and that the sanctions imposed were in line with recommendations of outside labor experts.
The statement says the cardinal and the hospital’s Board of Governors are “extremely serious” about hearing of any future inappropriate behavior or retaliation.
“Cardinal Sean O'Malley and the Caritas Christi Board of Governors reiterate their commitment to providing a working environment free from sexual harassment,” says the statement.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 23, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City has criticized plans by the United States to put National Guard troops on its border and said if a barrier were put up, “It would be difficult to consider that as comprehensive immigration reform.”
The issue of immigration is complex, especially due to a lack of trust, “because history teaches us that the US government has never been helpful to Mexico,” the cardinal continued, saying he questioned whether the current administration would achieve positive immigration reform for Mexicans.
Cardinal Rivera also expressed his hope that Mexico’s government, businesses and people would all take up the challenge to address the problem of immigration, “because this is our problem,” he said. “Immigrants are not leaving because they just feel like it. Most of the time it is out of true necessity,” the cardinal added.
The Archdiocese of Mexico, in an editorial in its newspaper “Desde la Fe,” criticized what it called the lack of will and determination on the part of the United States, as well as the lack of energy and vision on the part of the Mexican government to resolve the immigration problem. The article said the Catholic Church rejects proposals to build a wall to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the US/Mexican border.
Madrid, Spain, May 23, 2006 (CNA) - In a message marking the World Communications Day—which will be celebrated on Sunday, May 28--the Committee on Communications Media of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain issued a statement calling on journalists to reflect upon the principles and foundations of their profession and to be courageous in communicating the truth.
The bishops said that in today’s world of moral and intellectual relativism and manipulation of language, there is a need for principle, courageousness and determination. Journalism faces new challenges now and broadcasters have become the targets of pressure groups and political leaders. Media professionals must “return to the principles and foundations of their trade” and shun ideological, political and economic influences, which often pose an obstacle to truthful reporting. They should also recognize that they should be “servants of the truth and promoters of peace,” the bishops stated.
They also called on members of the media to provide as much information as possible to the public, to respect different points of view, to support the family and defend “the great values of the dignity of the human person.”
The bishops expressed their own good will to work with the members of the media in “courageously communicating the truth and promoting truly human communications in our country, where there are more things that unite us than divide us.”
Manila, Philippines, May 23, 2006 (CNA) - The new Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Fernando Feloni, said this week the Catholic Church in that country would stay engaged in the issues that are affecting the country, such as the death penalty and birth control.
“That is our responsibility. It is an essential part of the Church,” the archbishop said during a press conference at the Malcañang Palace in Manila, where he presented is diplomatic credentials to President Gloria Arroyo.
“It is our mission to encourage the bishops to continue in their work of addressing the social problems of the people, especially the poor,” he said, reiterating his commitment to respect the opinions of the Philippine bishops, who he said he hoped would continue working with the government. “Only through dialogue can we achieve what is best” for the people, Archbishop Feloni said.
Michael Defensor, a top official in the Aroyo administration, said the government “is in harmony with the teachings of Catholicism” and that during their meeting, Arroyo and the new nuncio did not discuss controversial matters.
President Aroyo calls herself a devout Catholic but she has not publicly condemned the use of contraceptives, although she has granted clemency to all inmates on death row and commuted their sentences of life in prison. She has said her administration will not impose the death penalty.
, May 23, 2006 (CNA) - The singer Madonna kicked off her “Confessions” tour in Los Angeles yesterday. Between political statements and oral sex jokes, Madonna found the time to don a crown of thorns, hang from a mirrored cross and croon her ballad “Live to Tell” in front of a screen flashing images from the Third World.
On this, Catholic League president Bill Donohue made a few comments.
Hoping for a better respect of religious beliefs and symbols were raised “when the Material Girl first embraced Kabbalah,” Donohue continues, “we thought her new-found faith would inspire her to show some respect for religion. It stands to reason that a woman whose faith is so important to her that she drags her rabbi to her concerts would not want to mock the faith of others.”
“But I guess you really can’t teach an old pop star new tricks. Madonna has been spicing up her act with misappropriated Christian imagery for a long time now. Perhaps she can’t arouse any interest in her work without it. Poor Madonna keeps trying to shock. But all she succeeds in doing is coming across as a boring bigot.
“Do us all a favor, Madge, and stick to singing and dancing. Knock off the Christ-bashing. It’s just pathetic.” Donohue concluded.