Madrid, Spain, Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - Speaking on the Spanish radio network COPE-which is affiliated with the Bishops’ Conference of Spain-Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela expressed his satisfaction with the success of the World Meeting of Families which concluded on Sunday with a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI.
The cardinal archbishop of Madrid called Spanish President Jose Luis Zapatero’s refusal to attend the papal Mass a “minor issue,” preferring instead to focus on the massive turnout of faithful who expressed their support for the Pope and the Church’s teaching that “the family is born of marriage.”
Cardinal Rouco said he was pleased with the response of Catholics in Spain to the call of the Pope. “I had no doubt about it, even though we would be in Valencia in the summer, in the second week of July, no matter how much we sweated. Nothing was going to stop it,” he said.
The cardinal noted that the turn-out and participation in the event far surpassed organizers’ expectations, and that, “young people were much more present that many had said, and they came with a natural spontaneity and positive attitude: this is our way of life, we have chosen to live in a way that doesn’t hurt anybody and inspires all.”
Asked about President Zapatero’s decision not to attend the papal Mass or the Pope’s departure ceremony, Cardinal Rouco called it a, “minor issue that is not important. The most important thing is that the Pope met with one million people, that half the world heard a message about the family and that we are willing to proclaim it to society and to the whole world.”
Cardinal Rouco was also asked about the Pope’s meeting with the bishops of Spain. “He encouraged us to keep doing what we are doing,” the cardinal said. “There are always those who try to point out differences between the bishops of a certain country and the Pope and that is useless because our communion with him is total. We always learn from him, and it cannot be said that the Pope is not with us or is not encouraging us to continue being witnesses to the gospel here in Spain,” he stated.
Cardinal Rouco also underscored the great moral value of Spain’s cultural and spiritual heritage. “We should not destroy that which has united us for so many centuries,” he stated. “For the Church, this noble nation of Spain is one of the historical places where her roots are deepest,” the cardinal said.
Vatican City, Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) -
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. as the new director of the Holy See Press Office. Fr. Lombardi will replace Joaquin Navarro-Valls who was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
Fr. Lombardi expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father in a letter this morning and greeted all the members of the media who, he said, “I am called to serve.”
Lombardi, who is currently director general of the Vatican Television Center and of Vatican Radio, said he has, “been working for some time to ensure that the activity of the Holy Father and the reality of the Church are known and understood objectively and adequately.”
Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the office of director of the Holy See Press Office presented by Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, thanking him for his long and generous service. The long-time friend and adjutant of John Paul II had been hinting at his retirement from the post over the last month.
Navarro-Valls thanked the Holy Father this morning and recalled the gift of his ministry. “I know that I have, over these years, received much more than I have been able to give, more than I am at present capable of fully comprehending,” he said in a statement.
Lombardi praised Navarro-Valls and said that while he cannot hope to imitate him, he is committed to serving the Holy Father and the good work of the press, with all of his energy.
Many Vatican experts see Lombardi's appointment as indicative of a slight shift in the roll of the Press Office Director. The priest, who will also remain in charge of Vatican TV and Radio, is considered to be an excellent adminstrator, but is not expected to be as visable as Navarro-Valls was.
Lima, Peru, Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - The Holy Father, today, appointed Bishop Jose Antonio Eguren Anselmi S.V.C., Auxiliary Bishop of Lima, Peru, as metropolitan Archbishop of Piura in the northern part of the country. The Archbishop-elect said today that he would preach” the Gospel of Life” to the people of Piura.
In a statement this morning Eguren said that, "an Archbishop, as a shepherd, has the primary duty of preach the Gospel, but the Gospel we preach is, of course the Gospel of Life," "Jesus is the life, and we preach Him as the greatest treasure the Church has to offer to the world. But of course, Christ is not announced in the void: he is announced in the midst of a secularized world, where His presence sheds an uncomfortable light."
"Announcing the Good News to the world will always include announcing, supporting and defending God-given human dignity, from conception of life to its natural end, and defending the first natural environment of the human person: the family based on the only true marriage: one man and one woman, united for life, as Pope Benedict highlighted during the Fifth World Meeting of Families, the Archbishop-elect continued.”
The Eguren was born in Lima in 1956, he was ordained a priest for the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae 1982 and consecrated a bishop in 2002. He succeeds Archbishop Oscar Rolando Cantuarias Pastor, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
Vatican City, Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI begins his 18-day summer holiday in the Italian Alps today.
As he did last year, the Pope will be vacationing in a stone-and-wood mountain chalet belonging to the Salesian Order, until July 28. The chalet is located near the village of Les Combes di Introd in the Valle D'Aosta region. The house, which was built for Pope John Paul II, offers a spectacular view of the rugged Alpine landscape and of Mont Blanc.
The Pope was met at the Aosta airport this morning by the local bishop, officials and a committee of villagers with gifts of local specialties. A group of children gave him a lambs-wool jacket to wear on his walks in the mountains.
Benedict is expected to remain in solitude for most of his stay, reading and occasionally walking in the woods, except for two brief public appearances to recite the weekly Sunday Angelus on July 16 and 23.
It is custom for popes to leave Rome for several weeks during the summer to escape the heat. In the past, they spent most of the summer at Castelgandolfo outside Rome, where there is a lakeside papal residence. After his vacation at Les Combes, Benedict will go to Castelgandolfo, from where he will work through the month of September.
According to ANSA, Benedict spent some of his vacation time in the Alps last year writing part of his first encyclical on love, which was published earlier this year. There is no news of writing projects for this summer.
Kumasi, Ghana, Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI urged African Catholics to praise God with an authentically African voice and to ensure that the faithful enter more deeply into the mysteries that they celebrate, proclaiming them with confidence and living them with joy, reported the Accra Daily Mail.
The Pope made this statement in a goodwill message he sent to the six-day congress for the Promotion of Liturgy in Africa and Madagascar in Kumasi.
The congress, which aims to evaluate, promote and re-launch liturgical life in the African continent, was organized by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in collaboration with the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the congregation, commended African Catholics for their manifestation of joy and sense of community in their liturgical celebrations, their love of song and their desire to see acceptable elements of their culture incorporated into public worship, reported Accra Daily Mail.
J.H. Mensah, the senior government minister representing Ghana President John Agyekum Kufuor, said, "using authentic liturgy will lead to the strengthening of the Catholic Church in Ghana and this will lead to the building of a disciplined society."
In this era of, "unprincipled methods of living, it is necessary for the Church and the State to work together to get Ghanaians to live as a people of God," said Mensah.
He acknowledged and congratulated the Church, on behalf of the government, for the role it is playing in education. He expressed the government's support for the development of the first Ghanian Catholic University - the College of Fiapre.
He thanked the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference for lending its support to the government's invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to visit Ghana next year and to participate in the celebrations, marking the centenary of Catholicism in the Northern part of Ghana and the golden jubilee of Ghana's independence.
Washington D.C., Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - Liberal Christianity is disintegrating and it is evident in the accelerated fragmentation of the Episcopal Church USA, says Charlotte Allen, author and Catholicism editor of Beliefnet.
“All the mainline churches and movements within churches that have blurred doctrine and softened moral precepts are demographically declining and, in the case of the Episcopal Church, disintegrating,” says Allen in a July 9th, editorial.
The breakdown of the Anglican Church in the United States isn't simply about homosexual bishops, same-sex unions or the election of a woman as presiding bishop, she says.
Rather, she argues, it indicates the near-end to an almost 40-year movement within all mainline Protestant denominations that has presented liberal Christianity as the future of the Christian church.
“When a church doesn't take itself seriously, neither do its members,” she states.
Allen points to the demographics as evidence. In 1960, members of mainline churches - Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Lutherans - accounted for 40 percent of all American Protestants. Today, this demographic is down to 12 percent or 17 million people.
More specifically, there were 3.4 million Episcopalians in 1965; now, there are 2.3 million. The number of Presbyterians fell from 4.3 million in 1965 to 2.5 million today.
While some of the decline is due to lower birthrates, “it also is clear that millions of mainline adherents, and especially their children, have simply walked out of the pews never to return,” Allen states.
Allen also refers to the work of sociologist Rodney Stark and historian Philip Jenkins. Both contend that the more demands that a faith places upon its adherents, the deeper the adherents' commitment to that faith. These types of churches are growing robustly, both in the United States and around the world, Allen states.
As an example, Allen points to the Southern Baptist church, which currently numbers 16 million members.
Allen also noted the 21-year-old Christ Church Episcopal in Plano, Texas, which is one of the largest Episcopal churches in the country, averaging 2,200 Sunday worshipers weekly. Christ Church broke its ties with the more liberal national Episcopal Church USA, desiring instead, to stick to its traditional gospel values. Now, Christ Church is one of the few Episcopal churches in the country which is growing.
Warsaw, Poland, Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - Some four thousand Polish priests - nearly one-sixth of the entire number of priests ordained for the country - are working and serving outside their native land, according to the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.
The Polish daily noted that the main reason most of these priests leave Poland is to minister to the Polish communities that live in other countries. At the same time, the Polish priests have helped fill a void in some areas where vocations are down.
Contrary to other European countries, priestly ordinations in Poland have always been numerous, Church analyst Ewa Czaczkowska told the Rzeczpospolita newspaper.
Many Polish dioceses have welcomed Pope Benedict XVI’s call to send priests to work in Polish communities in such countries as Great Britain, Germany, France, Ireland, Sweden and Norway. Last year alone some 106 priests left Poland to work in other countries. The Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper reported that this year the number could even be higher as the number of Poles who have emigrated has increased five-fold in recent years.
In Scotland, for example, there is a large Polish community, and Bishop Peter Moran of Aberdeen recently traveled to Poland to ask for “reinforcements.” The Archdiocese of Krakow has responded generously - six of its priests now serving in Scotland. Polish immigrants often seek out priests from their native land in order to receive encouragement amidst the difficulties of adapting to a new country and finding work.
In Poland new devotionals have become popular that include special prayers for Polish emigrants, for those unemployed, and for family and country.
, Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - For the twelfth summer in a row, three teams of college students from throughout America are walking along three separate paths across the country to promote the sanctity of life. The students taking part in the walks, organized by pro-life group Crossroads, describe an America which is supportive of their mission.
The three groups began in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. They will all conclude Aug. 12 at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Combined, the three walks will cover over 9,500 miles through 31 states, and encounter hundreds of thousands of Americans in churches - not to mention those they will meet on the roads.
“We have learned that a silent majority of Americans are very supportive of our message that human life at all stages should be welcomed and protected,” said walker Brendan Flannery of Steubenville, Ohio.
“Over the past 12 summers, Crossroads has spoken to millions of people at churches alone with the message that each human life is to be protected at every stage,” said Crossroads national director Martha Nolan.
Jaime Racki, 20, of Hinsdale, Illinois, has found the experience to be deeply fulfilling, despite the hardships. “After walking nearly two-thirds of America and encountering thousands of people, it is easy to say that majority of Americans are pro-life.”
“We see every day what even polls and abortion-rights advocates have begun to concede - that the majority of Americans oppose abortion on demand at a minimum,” said walker Megan Otten of St. Louis, Missouri. “Being pro-life can no longer be seriously characterized as the marginal belief.”
“Much of the cultural and moral dialogue has spilled over into the political sphere, which is not our focus, frankly,” added Nolan. “If Roe v Wade were overturned tomorrow, the culture would still require countless years of healing. In the end, this is not a political matter, it is cultural and moral.”
Rome, Italy, Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - The Diocese of Osnabrück in Germany has announced it is building a convent on the site of the Nazi concentration camp of Esterwegen, where four religious sisters of the Franciscans of Münster will take up residence to serve those visiting the camp.
The Kath.net news agency reported that the construction of the convent will entail demolishing the old building that housed the offices of the Nazi officials who ran the camp. The land where the camp is located belongs to the municipality of Emsland, which has granted approval for the construction.
The Franciscan sisters will be dedicated full-time to receiving people who come to visit the Nazi death camp. Father Theo Paul, vicar general of the Diocese of Osnabrück, said the founding of this place of prayer would greatly contribute to discouraging indifference and helping people never to forget the holocaust.
The local mayor, Hermann Bröring, praised the initiative and said, “I was convinced the building of this memorial of Esterwegen would be an extraordinary and enriching contribution to humanity.”
The founding of the convent at Esterwegen will be the third new foundation in the last six years in the Diocese of Osnabrück. In 2000 a Dominican convent was founded on the site of the Nazi concentration camp of Rieste, and in 2002 the diocese founded another convent at Schnoor-Viertel in Bremen, for the Sisters of St. Bridget.
Birmingham, Ala., Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - Last Thursday, Patricia Sanchez, a 60-year old mother of four received a new kidney during a successful transplant in Birmingham Alabama. Her 12-year wait finally ended when an unlikely donor came forward--her parish priest.
51-year old Father Ken Ramon Landry had been a close friend of the Sanchez family leading workshops with Patricia and working closely with husband Rafael through the Diocese of Biloxi’s Hispanic ministry.
Last year, Rafael confided to the priest, who is also his pastor at Hattiesburg’s Sacred Heart parish about his wife’s long-time illness and the unlikelihood that the family would be able to find a donor. Almost immediately, Fr. Ramon-Landry offered one of his own kidneys.
Shying from local praise, Father Ramon-Landry told the Hattiesburg American that, "neither of us wants notoriety. Both of us think it is a worthy cause to raise awareness to the fact that within some of our bodies we carry life for others - even us men - by offering a kidney, a lung. Perhaps this is why God gave us two, to see if we would share and take seriously what his Son did for us... 'laying down our lives freely.'"
Expressing her gratitude, Patricia added simply, "This is the gift of life for me."
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 11, 2006 (CNA) - As Argentineans celebrated the country’s Independence Day on July 9, Archbishop Domingo Castagna of Corrientes called on Argentineans to thank God for, “the gift of a free country” and warned that to obstinately deny God is to close, “the doors to progress and to the encounter with the truth.”
“Without God the universe has no meaning. To suppose that everything is due to chance constitutes a true intellectual contradiction. Faith assures us that God is the meaning of all things and, obviously, of man and his history. When He is excluded through obstinate and thoughtless denial, the result is an existential pessimism that closes the doors to progress and to the encounter with the truth,” the archbishop said during an Independence Day Mass.
“From our Christian origins we have received the conviction that God has shown Himself in Christ,” Archbishop Castagna continued, emphasizing that in order to bring about a civilization of love and solidarity in Argentina, “we must exclude from our hearts all hatred, which dangerously ensnares us in revengeful attitudes and prevents us from moving towards the authentic justice that restores the common good and true peace.”
The archbishop also praised those who embrace self-denial and a spirit of patriotism and said, “Undoubtedly the country is born of men and women who love our nation to the point of renouncing their own personal interests.” He exhorted Argentineans to preserve the “moral and spiritual quality” of their founding fathers in order to maintain peace and stability in the country.