Boston, Mass., Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) -
What started as an experiment for Cardinal Sean O’Malley has become a new and regular means of evangelical outreach. The cardinal-archbishop of Boston has decided to continue his blog, which he began on a recent trip to Rome.
Before his departure, the cardinal had committed to posting daily entries on his blog as a two-week experiment. He said he would consider whether he to continue it upon his return to Boston.
But the prelate has now announced that he would continue posting weekly entries on his blog, the first one hitting the web last Friday.
The site has not escaped the attention of the secular media. In an article almost two weeks ago, the Boston Globe noted that since he launched the website, the Franciscan-turned-prelate had received 9,000 visitors, 65,585 page views, and scores of comments.
Since that time the numbers have continued to grow.
Blog specialists have also taken notice, offering praise for a blog they say is informal and readable. In addition to his comments, the blog also features pictures of the cardinal around Rome and at different church ceremonies and posing in photos with friends.
In his first entry from Boston, the cardinal shared his week’s work and answered some questions from readers. One question was about Church art and architecture another asked his opinion on the best gelato in Rome. (The cardinal diplomatically sidestepped the question, saying it’s difficult to find a bad meal or gelato anywhere in Rome.)
Finally, the cardinal addressed a comment by a Boston native, named “Eddie”, living in Philadelphia, who said he was considering coming back to the faith due to the cardinal’s blog.
“Eddie, in your baptism, you were called to be part of a family, a community of faith, part of the Body of Christ,” the cardinal replied.
“Wherever your journey may have taken you up to this point, know that the Lord is always calling you home to be part of that community of faith, part of that family; that is the Church,” he continued.
“I would certainly encourage you to come home,” he wrote, adding that he would be happy to share the names of parishes and priests in Philadelphia that could help him to reconnect with the Church.
To access the blog, go to: http://www.cardinalseansblog.org/
Phoenix, Ariz., Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) - This weekend Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix launched a new booklet, challenging Catholics to take a more active part in influencing the political process.
The 45-page booklet is part of a new series by Basilica Press, entitled “Shepherd’s Voice”, which deals with the issue of Catholics in the public square.
The bishop’s booklet, titled “Catholics in the Public Square,” is the first in the series. It was launched Oct. 7 at a half-day event at the Diocese of Phoenix’s Pastoral Center, attended by more than 400 people.
Bishop Olmsted said the booklet is aimed at helping Catholics fight against secularization and the misrepresentation of faith in the public arena. It demonstrates how Catholics can contribute to a culture of life, and focuses on what role Catholic doctrine should play in the public square.
The bishop also discusses the “non-negotiable” issues for Catholics involved in politics, and refers to issues which could prohibit Catholics from receiving Holy Communion.
In addition to the book launch, attendees also gathered for the diocese’s 2006 Legislative Issues Seminar. The seminar opened with a Mass, presided by the bishop, during which he said that Catholics have a duty to act when people’s dignity and rights are at stake.
Christians cannot refuse to engage in issues about immigration, the poor, marriage, abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, capital punishment and war, he said.
“Christ expects us to be active there [in the public square]: loving our neighbor, engaging the culture, promoting the common good, and defending the dignity and rights of all. This is part and parcel of being a follower of Christ,” he said during his homily.
“But we live in a time when many contend that faith is a purely private matter. They accuse us of imposing our faith on others if we let it influence everything we do,” he continued.
“From various quarters, Catholics and other people of faith are especially pressured to separate our faith from the public square. But such pressures and contentions, if heeded, would make a mockery of faith. If our faith does not impact on every dimension of our life, then it is not true faith,” he said, echoing points made in his booklet.
“A lay person in the public square has a particular responsibility to live his or her vocation in view of its unique impact on society,” the bishop says in his Question and Answer-style book.
Those involved in politics “often are in a position to influence societal norms on matters of real significance by passing or defeating various legislative proposals,” the booklet continues.
Addressing other Catholics in the public square, especially those in the mass media, the bishop says, “a significant part of their responsibilities is to live their faith by promoting the common good in society.”
The bishop acknowledges that many people of faith have been frightened into silence, led to believe that they are imposing their morality on others.
However, he continues, “Democratic society needs the active participation of all its citizens, people of faith included. The active engagement of Catholics in democratic processes is good for society and it is responsible citizenship.”
More than 100,000 copies of the bishop’s booklet have been published. The full text of the booklet and ordering information are available at: http://www.basilicapress.com/index.html.
, Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) -
Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore is recovering today after being involved in a car accident which left one priest dead and another injured. The Cardinal’s car was sideswiped while the three were traveling through Terni, Italy.
According to a press release from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Cardinal was vacationing with the two priests, both longtime friends when their car was struck. Fr. Bernard Quinn, 78, a retired priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg was killed and Msgr. Thomas Smith, 75, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, suffered broken ribs. The Cardinal sustained a broken ankle.
According to the archdiocese, Cardinal Keeler and Msgr. Smith remain hospitalized and continue to receive treatment for their injuries.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Harrisburg told Baltimore’s NBC affiliate that in a phone conversation with Keeler on Sunday, the cardinal told him that just before Saturday’s accident, "Father Quinn started talking about how happy he was and how much he was at peace in his life and he even said, 'I'll be ready to meet the Lord whenever he calls me'.”
The accident occurred on Saturday, but was not made public until last night, in order to allow the family of Fr. Quinn to be notified, the Baltimore Sun has reported. The cardinal was previously scheduled to return to the United States on Saturday, though his travel plans are now unknown.
All three men served together in the diocese of Harrisburg. And according to the Baltimore Sun, the three men were friends who often vacationed together.
Cardinal Keeler was a priest and then bishop of the diocese of prior to his appointment as Archbishop of Baltimore in 1989.
Fr. Quinn was ordained a priest for the Glenmary Home Missioners in 1953, and served in the Diocese of Harrisburg for many years before being made a priest of the diocese in 1990. He served in several diocesan parishes until his retirement in 2001. At the time of his death he was in residence at Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Lancaster where he assisted with parish duties.
Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Harrisburg and the Auxiliary Bishops of Baltimore, Bishop W. Francis Malooly, Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, and Bishop Denis J. Madden, are requesting prayers for the repose of the soul of Fr. Bernard Quinn, as well as for the complete and speedy recovery of Cardinal Keeler and Msgr. Smith.
, Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) - Hundreds of people filed into Curé of Ars Parish in Merrick, N.Y., Saturday to pray before the uncorrupted heart of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of priests and of the parish.
People waited patiently for about 40 minutes before being able to venerate the relic in two lines that stretched from the altar of the small church to the sidewalk outside, reported the New York Times.
One after another, worshipers quietly knelt before the 220-year-old heart of the French saint, which was enclosed in a red and gold glass case beneath the altar. Afterward, worshipers formed other lines as they waited to go to confession.
According to the New York Times, people of all ages came to venerate the relic and to ask for graces for themselves and for the local Church. For some, seeing the miracle of the uncorrupted heart brought them closer to God. Others said it was like being in the presence of the saint.
This is the first time the relic has been outside France, except for the saint’s canonization more than 80 years ago.
According to the Times, Fr. Charles Mangano, pastor of Curé of Ars Parish, attended a retreat in France in September 2005. One day during lunch, Fr. Thomas Devery of Staten Island suggested to Fr. Mangano that he ask to have the saint’s heart at his parish.
To his surprise, the request was granted. Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars in France arrived in New York Friday with the heart and the saint’s chalice.
The relic will be displayed for the public on Tuesday and Wednesday. Yesterday, it was available only to parishioners, who celebrated the parish’s 80th anniversary. Today, the relic was reserved for clergy and seminarians.
Bishop Bagnard will travel with the relic to the Archdiocese of Boston next, before returning to France.
St. John Vianney was ordained a priest in 1815. He was assigned to the remote parish of Ars. Though considered by some to be a terrible assignment, the pious priest took his new pastoral charge to heart. He grew close to the people and became known for his patience as a confessor. His reputation as a confessor grew and he was believed to have the gift of reading hearts. During the last 10 years of his life, he spent up to 18 hours a day listening to confessions as thousands of people came to him from around the world. He died in 1859.
When his body was exhumed in 1904, it had not yet decomposed, and his intact heart was removed from his body. Both his heart and his body, which have not been treated with any chemicals, are kept on display in Ars for veneration.
Vatican City, Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) -
Reflecting yesterday on the Christian sense of marriage, Pope Benedict XVI said during his Angelus address that society needs “families which are not swept up in the modern cultural currents inspired by hedonism and relativism,” and which are prepared to generously fulfill their mission for the Church and the world.
The Holy Father called on Christian spouses "to remain faithful to their vocation at all stages of life, 'for better and for worse in sickness and in health' as they promised in the sacramental rite. Aware of the grace they have received, may Christian couples create families open to life and capable of facing together the many and complex challenges of our times."
“There is today a particular need for their testimony,” he continued.
“There is a need for families which are not swept up in the modern cultural currents inspired by hedonism and relativism, and which are ready instead to carry out, with generous devotion, their mission in the Church and in society,” the Pontiff told thousands of gathered pilgrims.
The Pope also reflected on the day’s Gospel text narrating Christ's reply to the Pharisees who asked Him whether it was lawful for a husband to repudiate his wife in accordance with a precept of Mosaic law.
The Holy Father noted that Jesus’ reply was that Moses granted a “concession” due the “hardness of heart,” of the people.
“The truth of marriage goes back to 'the beginning of creation,'” the Pope noted, “when, as is written in the Book of Genesis, 'God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.' And Jesus adds: 'they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder'."
"This was God's original plan, as Vatican Council II recalled in the Pastoral Constitution 'Gaudium et spes': ‘the intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by the Creator and qualified by His laws, and is rooted in the conjugal covenant of irrevocable personal consent. ... God Himself is the author of matrimony,’" Pope Benedict noted.
Quoting John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation 'Familiaris consortio,' the Holy Father said that "the sacrament of marriage 'makes Christian married couples and parents witnesses of Christ , ... missionaries, in the true and proper sense, of love and life.' This mission is directed both within the family - especially in serving one another and in the education of children - and outside the domestic community, where it is ... called to be a sign of God's love towards everyone."
Vatican City, Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) - Meeting with bishops of Western Canada, in Rome for their “Ad Limina” visits, Pope Benedict insisted, this morning, on the need for a renewed understanding of sin and appreciation for the Sacrament of Penance in order to foster reconciliation and healing among people.
The Pope reflected on the three characters from the parable of the prodigal son, insisting that all three have an important lesson, “the Father in his abundant mercy, the younger son in his joy at being forgiven, and the elder brother in his tragic isolation.”
Benedict used the parable as an introduction to address, “the loss of a sense of sin,” which the bishops apparently had identified as an area of concern for their dioceses. The Holy Father applauded the bishops for their focus on the subject, which, he said, “reflects an eager hope that the faithful will experience God’s boundless love as a call to deepen their ecclesial unity and overcome the division and fragmentation that so often wound today’s families and communities.”
In fact he said, "the Bishop’s responsibility to indicate the destructive presence of sin is readily understood as a service of hope: it strengthens believers to avoid evil and to embrace the perfection of love and the plenitude of Christian life.”
“I wish therefore to commend your promotion of the Sacrament of Penance. While this Sacrament is often considered with indifference, what it effects is precisely the fullness of healing for which we long. A new-found appreciation of this Sacrament will confirm that time spent in the confessional draws good from evil, restores life from death, and reveals anew the merciful face of the Father,” he said.
In order to understand the gift of reconciliation, however, Benedict said a healthy understanding of sin is necessary. “While manifestations of sin abound – greed and corruption, betrayed relationships and exploitation of persons – the recognition of individual sinfulness has waned.” Ultimately, he continued, forgetting the impact of sin and the power of forgiveness, leads to “a weakening of our relationship with God.”
Such a forgetfulness of sin and forgiveness is particularly noticeable in “societies marked by secularist post-Enlightenment ideology.” In these societies which exclude God, the Pope said, “the sense of offence against God - the true sense of sin - dissipates; just as when the absolute value of moral norms is relativized the categories of good or evil vanish, along with individual responsibility.”
However he continued, recognition of sin and the need of forgiveness, “is an integral part of the truth about the human person.”
“When the need to seek forgiveness and the readiness to forgive are forgotten, in their place a disturbing culture of blame and litigiousness arises. This ugly phenomenon, however, can be dispelled. Following the light of Christ’s healing truth is to say with the father, ‘My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours’ and we must be glad ‘because your brother ... who was lost ... is found’ (Lk 15:31-32),” he concluded.
The Pope briefly mentioned the continued work of reconciliation and understanding among aboriginal people in Canada, encouraging the bishops to “address with compassion and determination the underlying causes of the difficulties surrounding the social and spiritual needs of the Aboriginal faithful.”
Pope Benedict offered his prayers for and Apostolic Blessing upon all those in the dioceses of Western Canada.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez, has called on the faithful not to allow the scandals committed by some in the clergy to be a reason to “distance oneself from God, to stop loving His Church or to stop believing in her.”
In his regular column, published in the archdiocesan newspaper, the cardinal acknowledged that the recent scandals involving Mexican priests cause many to question the holiness of the Church.
However, he noted, the Church is both holy and sinful, and this is reason why “even her ministers, who should be examples to the people of God,” commit sins. The Lord “ did not choose perfect men as His ministers, but rather sons of Adam and Eve.”
“We cannot deny that throughout the centuries, believers, Christians, Catholics have sinned and have committed mistakes,” both personal and collective, the cardinal emphasized.
At the same, he went on, the Church is holy in her teaching and because of the Gospel she preaches, which in itself “is sublime teaching.”
She is also holy “because her sacraments sanctify, because Christ is her founder and head, and because the Virgin Mary, the first Christian, was the Mother and the most faithful disciple of the Lord. She is also holy because of the existence of numerous saints and exemplary Christians,” Cardinal Sandoval said.
He noted that it is ironic that those who are scandalized the most and who attack the Church the most are not the saints but the sinners. “Their scandal is such that they say they no longer want to believe in nor belong to Church, perhaps thinking that thus they can justify or cover up their own immorality. Yet at the same time, there are many good people who tend to be understanding. The more virtuous you are, the more understanding,” the cardinal maintained.
In this sense, he continued, “God is infinitely holy and understanding,” and thanks to His divine mercy, “the Church is as she is,” because He “did not think of a Church only for the good; His fatherly heart embraces all His children, the good and the bad. He desires the salvation of all.”
Cardinal Sandoval also reminded the faithful that although the majority of priests “earnestly strive to be examples for the people of god,” there would always be faults “until the end of time.” Nevertheless, he insisted, this should not be a reason to “distance oneself from God, to stop loving His Church or to stop believing in her.”
Rome, Italy, Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Rafael Guizar Valencia will become the seventh Knight of Columbus and the first bishop/Knight to be declared a saint. Pope Benedict XVI will canonize the bishop in Rome on Oct. 15. According to the Knights of Columbus, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson will attend.
Rafael Guizar Valencia was born in Mexico in 1878 and ordained a priest in 1901. With the start of the Mexican revolution in 1910, persecution of the Catholic Church became severe, and the outspoken priest became a target.
He went underground, disguised as a junk dealer, to continue his ministry. In 1915, when the Mexican government ordered that he be shot on sight, he escaped to the United States, and then went on to Guatemala and Cuba.
While in Cuba, he was consecrated bishop of Veracruz, Mexico. He returned to Mexico in 1920 with the end of the revolution, and he joined Knights of Columbus three years later.
As bishop, he founded a clandestine seminary. “A bishop can do without a mitre, a crosier, and even a cathedral, but never without a seminary, because the future of his diocese depends on the seminary,” he is known to have said.
He was forced to flee Mexico again in 1927 during the persecution of the Church under President Plutarco Calles. He returned in 1929, when the Church reached an accord with the Mexican government, in part because of successful lobbying by the Knights of Columbus to get the U.S. government to take an active role in solving the crisis.
Through his life’s work, Guizar became known as “the bishop of the poor.” He died in 1938 of natural causes; he was beatified in 1995.
Six other Knights, who were martyred in Mexico during the persecutions of the 1920s and 1930s, were canonized in 2000.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Emeritus Carmelo Gianquinta of Resistencia said last week persons who are “separated from their spouse but have not remarried and are living chastely can absolutely receive Communion.”
The bishop indicated that excluding such individuals from Communion “will always be contrary to the norms established by the Church,” and he warned that faithful followers of Christ should never be excluded because such an action goes against Church teaching and “is never correct.”
Archbishop Gianquinta also noted the duty of the Church to educate children, no matter where their parents stand in relation to the Church. “There is no right to exclude any child from catechism just because his parents do not always come to the meetings or because they can’t or don’t want to participate. The Church, as spiritual mother of Christians, cannot abandon her children because their biological parents do not fulfill their duty to educate them in the faith,” the bishop said.
He also called on the faithful to reflect on their mistreatment of others and he lamented that “a pastoral subjectivism, which ruptures ecclesial communion and leads to the mistreatment of one’s neighbor, is increasingly widespread in the Church.”
Paris, France, Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) - In a statement marking the 25th anniversary of the abolition of the death penalty in France, the members of the Council of Christian Churches of France said, “In a troubled and divided world in which executions are massively practiced, it is more important that, in a peaceful but firm way, Christians together denounce this punishment that is contrary to the mercy of God.”
In their statement, the Christian leaders said the country must be “twice as vigilant against the temptations to retract (this decision)” to abolish the death penalty, which took place on October 10, 1981.
“The excuse of the war against terror for the creation of special tribunals, the exploitation of peoples’ fear, the violence and arbitrariness in some parts of the planet in which there is no constitutional state, are situations we deem to be truly worrisome,” the statement indicated.
The declaration was signed by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux and President of the Bishops’ Conference of France; Pastor Jean-Arnold de Clermont, President of the Protestant Federation of France; and Metropolitan Emmanuel, President of the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of France.
Valencia, Fla., Oct 9, 2006 (CNA) -
Bishop Emilio Aranguren of Holguin, was given the medal of the Fraternity of the Holy Grail of the Last Supper in Valencia last week, and he pledged to spread devotion to the relic throughout Cuba.
According to the AVAN news agency, the conferring of the insignia took place on October 5th after a Eucharist celebrated by Bishop Aranguren at the chapel of the Holy Grail at the Cathedral of Valencia. During the Mass, he emphasized the close relationship that exists “between the Diocese of Valencia and the Church in Cuba,” as “for fifteen years various priests from Valencia have worked as missionaries in the Cuban dioceses of Holguin and Santa Clara.”
Moreover, he said, several Cuban priests and seminarians have been receiving their priestly formation in Valencia “for several years.” “My visit to Valencia is, therefore, an expression of thanks to the Diocese of Valencia,” he added.
Ignacio Carrau, president of the fraternity, conferred the medal on Bishop Aranguren “in recognition of his apostolic labors in Cuba,” and he also gave him several books about the Holy Grail, who said he would distribute them at his parishes in order to spread devotion to the relic.
The Cathedral of Valencia holds what many believe to be the actual chalice used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper.