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Archive of August 23, 2006

Pope: Only the Lamb can reveal the ultimate meaning of history in God’s eternal plan

Vatican City, Aug 23, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians to be a people of hope and trust in the coming of God’s Kingdom in his reflections today on the Apostle John and his Book of Revelation.

The Holy Father has been working his way through the twelve Apostles and considering the significant contributions of each for the Church.  After speaking of Peter, Andrew, James the Lesser, and James the Greater, over the past few months, the Pope reflected again today on John the Evangelist – this time considering the title under which he is believed to have written the Book of Revelation.

“The seer of Patmos, identified with the Apostle, is granted a series of visions meant to reassure the Christians of Asia amid the persecutions and trials of the end of the first century,” the Pope said during his catechesis, the third on the beloved Apostle. The previous catecheses focused on the person of John, his Gospel and his letters.

The Pope noted that the Apostle did not mention his name or make a personal reference in his other writings. However, John refers to himself four times in the Book of Revelation, perhaps because he thought he could be easily recognized in his previous writings but not in his last, the Pope said.

“John’s central vision is that of the Lamb once slain, who now stands victoriously before God’s throne, sharing in the Father’s kingship and power,” he said encapsulating the last book of the New Testament.

John’s visions, the Pope said, were meant to encourage these persecuted Christians to remain strong in their faith and not to fall into pagan ways, the Pope explained. These victorious images are John’s way of urging Asian Christians (specifically those of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardi, Philadelphia, and Laodicéa), who were confused by God’s apparent silence to their persecution, to have faith in Jesus and not to be afraid.  

But the message is also relevant today, the Pope said, as this confusion is similar to the dismay the Church experiences in the face of hostilities and persecutions currently experience in many parts of the world. “These are sufferings which the Church does not deserve…but they reveal the wickedness of men when they abandon themselves to the suggestion of evil,” the Pope said.

Jesus alone, who is represented by the Lamb in John’s writing, “is able to open the mysterious book closed with seven seals and to reveal, in the light of his own triumph over persecution and death, the ultimate meaning of history in God’s providential plan,” the Pope said.

Only he can reveal the contents of those pages and give meaning to the happenings in this world that often appear absurd, he said.

“The certain unfolding of God’s victory is seen in John’s visions of the Woman who gives birth to a Son destined to rule the nations, the final defeat of the Dragon, and the heavenly Jerusalem, prepared as a bride adorned for the wedding feast,” the Pope continued.

“As his book draws to an end, John invites Christians of every time and place to trust in the victory of the Lamb and to hope for the coming of God’s Kingdom: ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’”

The invitation for the Lord to come has several dimensions, the Pope added. The first, naturally, is Christ’s second coming in glory. However, it is also the Eucharistic prayer. Furthermore, it affirms the belief that Jesus has already come among his people on Earth and remains present among them. It is the call of his people that asks that he stay among them in a definitive way.

As such, the Pope concluded, we pray with the Seer of Patmos and the early Christians, “Come Jesus! Come and transform the earth! Come quickly today and bring peace!”

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New edition of Theology of the Body translated from original Polish

, Aug 23, 2006 (CNA) - A new English translation of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body promises to offer a more true reading of one of the late pontiff’s greatest gifts to the Church.

“The Theology of the Body: A New Translation Based on the John Paul II Archives” will be available in September. This new edition was translated from the Pope’s original Polish text. In addition, John Paul II’s original system of chapter headings has been translated from Polish for the first time.

The Theology of the Body was shared with the faithful of the Church in a series of inspirational lectures the Pope delivered at his weekly general audiences between 1979 and 1984. The short lectures were given in Italian and then translated into English by various translators in the editorial offices of L’Osservatore Romano.

But, because several translators were dealing with individual catecheses, the results were inadvertent omissions, intentional edits, and many inconsistencies. For example, the key concept “spousal meaning of the body” is translated in eight different ways.

Therefore, existing English translations were simply a compilation of these slightly errant Osservatore transcripts. While theologically true and pedagogically helpful, they lacked the coherence originally conceived by John Paul II.

The new translation is by professor and biblical scholar Dr. Michael M. Waldstein, who is also director of the International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Gaming, Austria.

“The biggest difference my translation provides is the rigor of the Pope’s thinking and the clear order of thought throughout the work. The task of the translator is to disappear as much as possible,” Waldstein said in a press release. “I wanted to make John Paul II’s own words available.”

Six additional catecheses printed in the Polish edition are also published for the first time in English. The Pope’s trademark use of italics, much of which had been lacking in the first translation or removed by subsequent editors, has also been restored. Inconsistencies caused by different translators have been corrected, and sentences have been properly reconstructed.

Waldstein discovered the original manuscript of the Theology of the Body in the John Paul II archives, a document that was completely unknown to scholars. The discovery confirmed that the Pope had adapted his Polish text into Italian for his general audiences, and not the other way around.

The new translation will be available through the website of the Daughters of St. Paul at www.pauline.org.

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Cardinal encourages young people to put the word of God into practice

La Paz, Bolivia, Aug 23, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Cardinal Julio Terrazas, congratulated the National Youth Ministry organization last Sunday for its silver anniversary and during his homily said, “The Word of God addressed to all generations has greater repercussions when young people listen to it and put it into practice.”

Likewise, he noted, “Today more than ever what we need is testimony, more than discourses or memorized phrases which sometimes leave people feeling resentful.”

“The Lord of the Gospel presents Himself as the Bread of Life, the living Bread come down from Heaven, and with his characteristic clarity He invites us to understand that he who eats this bread will live for forever. And the Lord goes even further; the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.  He who eats this bread will live forever,” the cardinal continued.

“This is what we all long for and is what young people especially dream of: having life, enjoying life, I hope the ghost of death never overtakes us.  That is where the Lord is in his message: I am that food that gives life, but not a food that comes from the clouds, but rather that food that is my own body, my own flesh, and you must eat it so that the world may have life,” he said.

“Bolivia is seeking change,” Cardinal Terrazas emphasized, “and this will be possible if we show the courage of believers, who know when to speak up and say, justice is needed here, and then to work for it; who know that there is a lot of deception, and that instead of complaining about it they must work to establish the truth.”

Leaders of the National Youth Ministry, including Ruth Riskowski and Father Pablo, who founded it in 1981, were present at the special Mass.

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Celebration of the Liturgy provides hope, says Holy Father’s message to conference

Vatican City, Aug 23, 2006 (CNA) - The Holy See made public today a letter written by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in the name of Pope Benedict XVI, to participants in the 57th National Italian Liturgy Week, which began on Monday and will end on Friday.  In his letter, addressed to Bishop Luca Brandolini, the cardinal reminded participants that the celebration of the liturgy provides hope for the world through its interconnectedness with the Pascal mystery.

Sodano said that, “to reflect upon the significance of the celebration of the liturgy as a font of hope for all, is to place the attention on the event of the death and resurrection of Christ, the foundation of our hope.  The cardinal pointed out the affirmation of Peter (1 Pt 1,3-4) that our hope is in the resurrection of Christ and how “through the celebration of the liturgy, man is inserted in the Pascal Mystery.”

As such, the cardinal said, the liturgy encompasses all aspects of human existence and provides hope for all of human history.  

Sodano pointed to the first Encyclical of Pope Benedict, “Deus caritas est,” which reminds believers that the liturgy transmits the love of God into our daily lives.  “In the Church's Liturgy, in her prayer, in the living community of believers, we experience the love of God, we perceive his presence and we thus learn to recognize that presence in our daily lives (n. 17),” the Pope wrote.

The Cardinal Secretary of State said that the prayer of the Mass opens the lives of mankind, “to the project of God and encourages us to become docile instruments in His hands,” in order to transform the surrounding world and all of human history.

“The celebration of the liturgy, freeing the heart of man from daily angst, provides new faith; the moment of the celebration communicates the joy of hoping in a greater world, of living in the Church, of being beloved of God and being able to remain in that love, which forgives and saves you.”

Sodano said that the theme of the conference “We celebrate Jesus Christ, hope of the world” is also an excellent preparation for the upcoming Ecclesial Meeting of the Church in Italy and assured all participants of the prayers and Apostolic Blessing of the Holy Father.

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Community groups decry ‘homosexual indoctrination’ bill aimed at public schools

Sacramento, Calif., Aug 23, 2006 (CNA) - The California Assembly passed a bill by a vote of 46-31 on Monday that says public schools may neither teach nor sponsor any activity that "reflects adversely" on anyone because of their sexual orientation, reported CNSNews.com.

Family groups say the proposed legislation (SB 1437) is “flawed” and encourages homosexual indoctrination in public schools.

“This bill is a misguided attempt to bias public school instruction and activities in favor of people engaged in homosexual, bisexual, and transgender behavior. The concept of the bill is flawed,” said Bill May of Catholics for the Common Good.

“SB 1437 also further undermines parents’ rights and responsibilities to educate their children according to their religious or moral beliefs regarding marriage, family, and sexuality,” May said.

The Campaign for Children and Families says the bill would alter school textbooks, instructional materials, and school-sponsored activities "to positively reference transsexuality, transvestitism, bisexuality, and homosexuality, including homosexual 'marriage,'" reported CNSNews.com.

Campaign for Children and Families president Randy Thomasson added that the bill “micromanages public schools by forcing them to promote a gaggle of sexual lifestyles that disturb parents and confuse kids.”

The lobby group is now urging like-minded citizens to contact Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and urge him to keep his promise to veto the bill.

During debate on Monday, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Democrat, said he believes the bill would make schools "safer."

Republican Dennis Mountjoy of Monrovia argued that the bill would further turn public schools into "institutions of social experimentation," where the basics are ignored in favor of "social engineering," reported CNSNews.com.

The bill will not go back to the Senate, which is expected to approve it.

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Bishop calls for Catholic reaction to “moral emptiness of society”

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 23, 2006 (CNA) - Amidst the heated public debate in Argentina surrounding the recent cases of handicapped women whose families sought to obtain abortions for them, Bishop Martin de Elizalde of Nueve de Julio has called for a greater response to the, “moral emptiness of society,” which causes such problems as the spread of sexual immorality and the “frivolous destruction of life.”
 
In a statement on, “the defense of life and of sexual and reproductive ethics,” the Argentinean bishop denounced that “the spread of sexual immorality, the justification of aberrant attitudes in this area, the frivolous destruction of life, as if it were nothing more than an undesired or defective consequence of immoral acts,” are the result of a “terribly grave situation: the moral emptiness of our society.”

“Not only Christians, but all men and women of good will must react before we reach the point of no return,” Bishop Elizalde warned.  “The responsibility of politicians is inexcusable.”

“Voters must make their will known, demanding that their representatives reflect the ideals that should mold society and not combat and annul them,” the bishop continued.  “Catholic professionals, for their part, are morally obligated to seek formation and to be informed about the teachings of the Church, in order to thus act in accord with them and to convey to those who solicit their service, proposals that allow them to work with justice and mercy,” he added.

Abortion for handicapped women

Regarding the recent cases of two young handicapped women whose families sought to obtain abortions for them, Bishop Elizalde warned that they are being used as an argument to promote abortion on demand.

“From a concrete and limited example, although not infrequent, it is being argued that the consequence should be applied, according to the cultural model being imposed, across the board.  This is what is happening with the young handicapped pregnant woman, for whom the so-called ‘right to abort’ was being requested, based on the argument that conception was the result of rape,” the bishop stated.

He noted that media coverage of the story was biased toward a liberalizing of the country’s abortion laws.  “Not everything that is legal is moral,” the bishop emphasized.  “What the law proposes as possible, as non-punishable, is not always something that should obligatorily take place,” he said in conclusion.

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Archbishop encourages catechists to spread knowledge of Christ

Asunción, Paraguay, Aug 23, 2006 (CNA) - During the celebration of Catechists Day on August 20, Archbishop Pastor Cuquejo of Asuncion, Paraguay, said the role of catechists is vital, because they should spread the knowledge Christ to children, young people and even to adults.”

“Being a catechist is no small matter,” he told some 200 Catholic instructors of the Archdiocese of Asuncion.  “You have in your hands that salvation of children, young people and adults.”

During his homily, the archbishop said prudence and common sense should be the response of Christians to people who do evil.

Referring to St. Paul, who warned of difficult times, Archbishop Cuquejo noted that the apostle did not speak of earthquakes, floods or other catastrophes, but rather of evil people, and he urged the catechists to be careful of such individuals.

He also encouraged them not to be too hard on children or to mistreat people who do not have Christ in their hearts, and he urged them to have the patience of Jesus, who was never harsh with people or made them keep quiet.   The Christian catechist, he said, should be understanding and show concern and dedication.

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Secularization and tourism threatening religious feasts, warns Spanish bishop

Madrid, Spain, Aug 23, 2006 (CNA) - Noting the large number of feast days that are celebrated in Spain during the month of August, Bishop Jose Sanchez of Siguenza-Guadalajara warned this week that secularization and tourism are threatening to destroy the meaning of religious holy days.

Bishop Sanchez noted that “secularization, properly understood, is beneficial for religious things, because it helps distinguish between the religious and the profane.”  However, he warned, extreme secularization that rejects, “the religious and supernatural dimension, tends to convert religious feasts into a social, customary, or folkloric event - into just another show.”

Bishop Sanchez also emphasized that, “another danger that lurks is the need that some have that their feasts, both religious and secular, contain an element of tourism, especially if they are declared to be of worldwide, national, regional or provincial tourist interest.”  

“It’s fine if tourists attend our religious feasts if it is because of the devotion which they inspire or the beauty of the celebration,” he noted, but to determine their success based on whether or not they are, “declared to be of interest to tourists is to stray from the purpose” of religious feast days.

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Bandits attack Catholic priest in eastern India

Ranchi, India, Aug 23, 2006 (CNA) - A Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Ranchi, located in eastern India, was seriously wounded Aug. 21st while resisting a robbery attempt, reported UCA News.

According to reports, 20 masked youths, aged 15-25, entered the room of Fr. Thomas Powathil, director of Lievens Academy in Lohardaga, at around 9:30 p.m. and attacked him with a gun and hockey sticks.

A little later, another priest of the high school, Fr. Deonis Xess, found Fr. Powathil lying on the floor bleeding.

A semiconscious Fr. Powathil reportedly told Fr. Xess that the youths tied him to a chair and demanded money, saying they belonged to a Maoist gang. Local police said, however, that the attackers were not Maoists, but local youth that suspected the school has a "lot of money." The attackers did not find any money but took the priest's cell phone before they fled the church compound.

Father Xess said neither he nor the security guard had noticed the group entering the school compound. He said he did not hear the commotion in Fr. Powathil's house over the noise of the parish's electricity generator.  

The wounded priest was rushed to local St. Ursula Hospital and was sent to a larger hospital in Ranchi upon the local auxiliary bishop’s arrival.

Lievens Academy is an English-language high school that was started eight years ago in honor of Jesuit Father Constance Lievens, a Belgian missioner who made the first Catholic converts among the tribal people in eastern India in 1885. 

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