Archive of October 13, 2006

Pope encourages countrymen of excommunicated archbishop to fidelity and holiness

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - Meetingthis morning with bishops from Zambia, the homeland of excommunicatedarchbishop, Emmanuel Milingo, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the bishopsto guide their people in a life of prayer and urge their priests tolive a life of holiness, not being led astray by the temptations of theworld.  The Holy Father met with the bishops as part of their scheduled“ad limina” visit.

In his address, the Holy Father did not speak about the renegade former Archbishop of Lusaka directly.  Milingo excommunicated himself recently by illicitly ordaining four men as bishops without approval from the Vatican.  The Church had been working to reconcile the bishop after he disappeared from his residence in Rome only to turn up in Washington, D.C. with a woman he now calls his wife.  Milingo has also begun a campaign called, “Married Priests Now,” in protest to the Church’s discipline of priestly celibacy.  

Though the Pontiff left the issue unaddressed in his official speech, he did dedicate a large portion of his time to encouraging the holiness and fidelity of the priests and bishops themselves.

Benedict reminded the bishops that they must be “pastors and fathers,” to their priests, who are, “co-workers in the vineyard.”  

“Communicate to them the joy of serving the Lord with a proper detachment from the things of this world,” the Holy Father said. “Tell them that they are close to the Pope’s heart and in his daily prayers.”

The Pope quoted St. Jerome’s commentary on the letter of St. Paul to Titus, telling them, “Let the bishop practice abstinence with respect to all the troubles that can agitate the soul: let him not be inclined to anger or crushed by sadness and let him not be tortured by fear" (cf. vv. 8-9, PL 26, 603b-42).  Words, the Holy Father said, which are especially important for bishops when dealing with their priests, “who at times can be led astray by the many temptations of contemporary society.”

“With you I encourage them to stand steadfast in the true faith and to look forward with living hope to the joyful possession of that undefiled, imperishable treasure, won for us by Jesus Christ (1 Pt 1:4),” the Pope said.

“When you urge your priests to live holy lives in accordance with their calling, when you preach generous love and fidelity in marriage and when you exhort everybody to practice the works of mercy, remind them of the Lord’s own words: ‘You are the light of the world ... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven’ (Mt 5:14-16),” Benedict encouraged.

The Holy Father also reminded the bishops to continue forming their people in a life of prayer.  For, he said, “the Christian has placed his trust in Christ and can be ever confident that He hears his prayers and answers them.”

The Pope noted especially the importance of liturgical prayer, “where, in a sublime way, the Church is united with Christ the High Priest in his eternal intercession for the salvation of the world.”

Moreover, he continued, “the Catholic Church encourages the faithful to practice popular forms of piety. Therefore, always teach your people the value of the intercession of the saints, who are the great friends of Jesus (cf. Jn 12:20-22), and particularly the special intercession of Mary, his Mother, who is always attentive to our needs (cf. Jn 2:1-11).”

From a life of prayer, the Pope added, will flow a life of holiness and the “divine gift” of holiness will manifest itself, “in love of God and love of neighbour.”  

“Dear Brothers,” he said, “show your people the beautiful face of Christ by living a life of genuine love. Show Christ’s compassion especially for the poor, for refugees, for the sick and for all who suffer. At the same time, in your teaching continue to proclaim the need for honesty, family affection, discipline and fidelity, all of which have a decisive impact on the health and stability of society.”

“My dear Brother Bishops, I have no doubt that you will continue to devote your lives with generous love to God’s people in Zambia. The Lord has chosen you to keep them and guide them on the way that leads to sanctity. Do so with wise advice, unwavering resolve and paternal affection,” the Holy Father encouraged. “May your witness as men filled with the hope of the resurrection lead them to an ever greater appreciation of the joys that the Lord has promised us.”

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Catholic leaders, development experts to explore solutions to global poverty

Washington D.C., Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - Catholic leaders, international development experts and grassroots advocates will gather in San Francisco this month to discuss strategies for alleviating global poverty.

Point 7 Now! Keeping America’s Promise To Make Poverty History is co-sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and will be held from Oct. 27 to 28 at St Mary’s Cathedral.

Jeffrey Sachs, author of The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, will give the keynote address. The director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Sachs was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential world leaders.

Among the many speakers are Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Peter Kimeu, director of Catholic Relief Services’ Global Poverty Solidarity Partnership of Kenya.

Cardinal Martino will address how the Catholic Church throughout the world can help eliminate poverty by supporting the Millennium Development Goals, in particular committing 0.7 percent of developed countries’ gross national product to developing countries.

The gathering is expected to help mobilize a sustained national commitment for the Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty, a multi-year effort by the USCCB and Catholic Relief Services.

The campaign focuses on shaping U.S. trade policies with an emphasis on overcoming poverty and promoting human development, supporting long-term development, and eliminating the debt burden of poor countries.

The World Bank estimates that 1.1 billion people live in extreme poverty.

For more about the Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty, go to:

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Injured priest says Cardinal Keeler back, speaks of “ferocious impact”

Lancaster, Pa., Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - Monsignor Thomas Smith, one of the life-long friends who was with Baltimore’s Cardinal William Keeler when their car was struck in Italy said yesterday that he and the cardinal are grateful to be home.  Msgr. Smith also spoke briefly about the accident which took the life of a third friend, Fr. Bernard Quinn.

In a story published by the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal, Msgr. Smith said he and the Cardinal are safely home and doing well, though “aching a bit.”

The three men, friends since their time of service in the Diocese of Harrisburg (Pennsylvania), were vacationing together in Terni, Italy, on Oct. 7th when another vehicle sideswiped their car, breaking Cardinal Keeler’s leg, three of Msgr. Smith’s ribs, and killing Fr. Quinn.

“I saw a car coming very, very fast,” Smith told the Intelligencer Journal.  “It was going to hit me, so I turned to avoid it and it broadsided us. It was a really ferocious impact. I know all about air bags now.”

“It was a shock, the whole thing,” Smith said.

Msgr. Smith and the cardinal were taken to a hospital for treatment, then released to recuperate at the Pontifical North American College, the American Seminary in Rome.

Smith said he and the cardinal were cleared for travel but unsure how they would make it home.  “We couldn’t figure out how we were going to get through the airport with the cardinal’s heavy plaster cast,” Smith said.

Fortunately U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Rooney, was planning a trip across the Atlantic in his private jet and offered the two a lift.  “It was a real blessing,” Monsignor said of the private flight.

Msgr. Smith said he’s happy to be back home and although it will take about six weeks for his ribs to heal he hopes to be strong enough for his Sunday Masses at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lancaster.  

“People are happy to see me back. I’m sure it’s the same thing with the cardinal,” he said.

Smith told the Lancaster paper that plans are still on hold for the funeral of his friend and brother priest.  Fr. Quinn’s body must undergo an autopsy and embalming before being transported from Italy.  But, he said, the funeral Mass will most likely be held late next week at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church.

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American youth play role in canonization of Mother Guerin

Indianapolis, Ind., Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - As of next week, Blessed Theodore Guerin High School in Noblesville, Indiana, will officially change its name to Saint Theodore Guerin High School.  While many are preparing to celebrate the newest American Saint, two students from the Indiana high school are preparing to play a unique role in the canonization - that of serving for Pope Benedict XVI as he proclaims Mother Guerin a Saint on Sunday, the Indianapolis Star reports.

The new school, which only opened in 2004, was named after the French-born nun, who came to Indiana in 1840 and started the state's first Catholic schools. She founded what is now known as St. Mary-of-the-Woods College near Terre Haute.

Bishop William Higi of Lafayette said he chose Mother Guerin as the school's namesake in part to spread her story and her significant role in the establishment of a Catholic community in the state.

The school does its part in making the holy woman more known to its students as well. In its first three years of existence it has already made a tradition of taking each freshman class to St. Mary-of-the-Woods so they can walk the grounds and hear the Sisters of Providence speak about their foundress.

The school, with a population of 300, has taken a keen interest in the canonization. Principal Keith Marsh noted that Catholic schools are frequently named for saints, but few actually get to see their namesake canonized. As a result, it sent 44 people, including 18 students, to Rome. Students had to raise their own funds for the trip. They left Wednesday.

Two of these students will play an active part in the canonization mass with Pope Benedict. Michael Puza, 16, and Miguel Salazar, 15, signed up months ago for the trip to Rome, but when word came that there were two spots available for local boys who were willing to be altar servers, Puza and Salazar fit the bill.

Puza, who told the Star that it still hasn’t sunk in that he’ll be serving at the canonization, doesn’t think he would have attended the new high school if it weren’t for Mother Guerin.  As he prepared to enter the 9th grade, two other schools were at the top of his list.  But something suddenly made him change his mind and decide on Guerin.

"I almost feel like she interceded for me to come here," Puza said.

The sixteen year old Puza, lauded the soon-to-be canonized Saint’s example.  "She never looked back and she never contemplated how bad it was. She kept going no matter how bad the conditions were," Puza said.

Mother Guerin will be canonized along with Rafael Guizar Valencia, Filippo Smaldone and Rosa Venerini. The nearly three-hour canonization ceremony will be aired live on EWTN at 4 a.m. ET, and rebroadcast at noon. 

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Iraqi priest’s beheading linked with Pope’s comments re Islam, says family

Mosul, Iraq, Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - Relatives of an Orthodox priest in Iraq, who was kidnapped and found beheaded three days later, said Thursday that his death was linked with the recent violence spurred on by those who misinterpreted Pope Benedict's recent comments about Islam.

Family members said his captors had demanded that his church condemn the Pope's comments last month about Islam and pay a US$350,000 ransom, reported The Associated Press.

More than 500 people attended a memorial service Thursday for Fr. Amer Iskender in the northern city of Mosul. His decapitated body had been found the previous day in an industrial area of the city.

Fr. Iskender was a priest at the St. Ephrem Orthodox church and he was remembered as a kind and peaceful man.

Before Iskender was kidnapped, the church already had put up signs condemning the statement and calling for good relations between Christians and Muslims, said his relatives, who asked not to be named. The message was posted again after the priest's kidnappers made their demand, reported the AP.

Relatives said the priest's oldest son had been in contact with the kidnappers on mobile telephones. He negotiated the ransom payment down to US$40,000 and had agreed to pay, but contact abruptly ceased Tuesday night.

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Venezuelan archbishop skeptical of Chavez, but hopes for authentic conversion

Caracas, Venezuela, Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - The vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Roberto Luckert Leon of Coro said yesterday he hoped President Hugo Chavez’s recent “message of love” was reflective of a true conversion, but that the test of a conversion is in the good works which flow from it.

As presidential elections in Venezuela draw near, Chavez has changed the tone of his campaign.   After years of verbal attacks against his opposition and anyone not of like mind, Chavez now says he did everything “for love” and that in order to continue his work he needs the vote of every Venezuelan.
The outspoken leader’s campaign material now includes a “Message of love for the people of my Venezuela,” in which Chavez says, “Out of love you chose me to be President.  I have governed these years out of love.  There is much to do, I need more time.”  He ends the message with, “I need your vote, your vote for love.”

Speaking on Venezuelan radio, Archbishop Luckert said, “I don’t want to doubt the good will of the President, but he has deceived us in the past…sometimes he says one thing and then 15 days later says something else.  I hope this is a true conversion and that he understands that by sowing hatred he will only reap storms.”

“It’s never too late to love or to be converted,” the archbishop said, adding that if, after eight years of speaking the language of violence and division, “he has realized that we can only build Venezuela upon love and solidarity and not on hatred and violence,” then “he should be congratulated.”

“What he has sown during these years has been aggression and hatred between Venezuelans,” Archbishop Luckert said.  “He is President of all Venezuelans and he cannot discriminate against anybody, because he should be the leader of all, and it seems he is only the leader of those who are with him,” he added.

Consequently the archbishop said Chavez must perform concrete works to confirm his message of love, such as holding talks with former Venezuelan oil workers who were fired for protesting against the government.  “Conversion is not only about words, it’s about actions,” the archbishop declared.

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Ukrainian Catholic seminarians and priests evangelizing soldiers

Konigstein, Germany, Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - Fr. Bohdan Prach, rector of Holy Spirit Seminary in Lviv, Ukraine, said his seminarians have had great success in their efforts to evangelize men and women serving in the armed forces of Ukraine.

Prach said the pastoral work of many of Holy Sprit Seminary’s 220 seminarians involves outreach and evangelization in the Ukranian Army.  “There are already young priests serving military units in Lviv and Western Ukraine. As a result, the atmosphere in the army has considerably improved,” Fr. Prach said.”

“Also, there are many adult baptisms which come as a fruit of these catechetical efforts,” he added.

Military service is compulsory in Ukraine, thus a large number of Ukrainian young people can be reached through such spiritual support of the military.

The rector made his comments on a recent visit to Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) headquarters in Königstein, Germany.  Fr. Prach was visiting to thank the international aid organization for their support, which has helped with the construction and upkeep of his seminary’s physical plant as well as with the formation of its seminarians, he said.  

“ACN and its benefactors are indeed our most outstanding friends,” Prach said.

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Argentinean archbishop speaks out for prisoners, demands justice and end to delays

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - Commenting on hunger strikes taking place in several Buenos Aires prisons, Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata said the constant delays in the judicial process are equivalent to “the denial of justice itself and the privation of a fundamental human right.”

“Their complaints are perfectly reasonable,” the archbishop said in reference to the prisoners on their hunger strike.  “Eighty percent of those who are being held in these jails have not yet received a sentence.”

“In my work in prison ministry I have dealt with terrible cases, such as that of a 50 year-old woman who had been imprisoned three years earlier without  really knowing why, and she has never even seen her defense attorney nor did she even know who he was,” Archbishop Aguer explained.

He said people should not think that everybody who is in prison is a monster.  He recalled that Jesus said in the Gospels, “I was in prison and you visited me.”

The prison problem should be addressed by the government, he maintained, with particular attention to justice, rights and equality, “and with a basic sense of humanity.”

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Thousands participate in devotions to Our Lady of the Pilar in Spain

Toledo, Spain, Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - Thousands of Catholics yesterday participated in the traditional offering of flowers to Our Lady of the Pilar, Spain’s patroness, whose feast day was celebrated on October 12.

Volunteers in Zaragoza, where a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin is revered in the city’s Basilica, said more than seven million flowers are to be incorporated into a mantel that will decorate the image.

The streets of Zaragoza have been filled with bright colors and decorations in honor of Spain’s patroness, as thousands of people dressed in traditional attire, await their turn to place flowers at the feet of the image.

The special Mass was celebrated at 12 noon by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Toledo, with Archbishop Manuel Urena of Zaragoza and Auxiliary Bishop Carmelo Borobia of Toledo concelebrating.

During his homily, Cardinal Cañizares noted the work of evangelization Spaniards have done in Latin America and he exhorted all Catholics to be more committed to living according to the Church’s teachings.  Likewise he praised Christian tradition and cited the words of John Paul II, who asked Catholics in Spain not to lose their traditions.  “Spain, be who you are,” the cardinal exclaimed in conclusion.

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Bishop calling for peace in advance of commission report

Dili, East Timor, Oct 13, 2006 (CNA) - A bishop in East Timor has called for calm in anticipation of the release of the findings of a commission that investigated violence which afflicted the tiny country in April and May, reported UCA News.

"We should place peace and calm in our hearts to see the outcome of the inquiry commission, because it will be a positive step toward truth and justice," Bishop Alberto Ricardo da Silva of Dili reportedly said on Oct. 6.

He said the results would probably be painful for some groups in society, but that the report’s findings must be welcomed in order to rebuild a foundation of human rights and justice in the country, UCA News reported. While some have said violence may erupt after the findings are released, the bishop urged his people to accept the report without violence.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry was set up June 8 at the request of then-foreign minister Jose Ramos-Horta, who subsequently became prime minister after Mari Alkatiri resigned as head of the government.

The commission was given a mandate to establish the facts surrounding the April 28-29 protests by soldiers, the May 25 killings of nine police officers, and the resulting gang warfare, looting and arson that claimed at least 21 lives. It also was to recommend measures to bring those responsible to justice.

The findings were due for release on Oct. 8 but at last report were still being translated into Indonesian, Portuguese, and Tetum, the main languages used in the state.

Fr. Jose Soares, who serves at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Dili, says political and military leaders should be prepared to take responsibility if the commission names them as responsible.

However, he told UCA News he feared that if some military officials are named, “they may flee with their subordinates and launch a guerilla war which could endanger the nation.”

University student Marcelo Dias told UCA News Oct. 11 that he is hopeful justice will be done and optimistic about security, citing the presence of U.N. peacekeeping forces in the country.

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