Vatican City, Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - Prior to praying the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI took a moment to reflect on World Mission Day and the work done by missionaries around the world.
The Pope recalled how World Mission Day was established by Pius XI who, during the Jubilee Year 1925, promoted a large exhibition on missionary work which later became the nucleus of the Vatican Museums' ethnological-missionary collection.
Reflecting on the theme of this year’s World Mission Day, “Charity, Soul of the Mission,” Pope Benedict emphasized that missions, "if not driven by love, are reduced to a philanthropic and social activity." Christian missions, in contrast to other secular social aid projects, must be inspired by the words of St. Paul, “the love of Christ impels us (2 Cor 5:14)."
“All baptized people," he continued, "like shoots attached to the vine, can thus cooperate in Jesus' mission: ... bringing everyone the good news that God is love and, precisely for this reason, wants to save the world. The mission begins in the heart.”
This cooperation with the good news, the Pope noted, “is what happened 800 years ago to the young Francis of Assisi in the chapel of St. Damian, which was then a ruin. From the height of the Cross ... Francis heard Jesus tell him: 'Go, repair My house, which as you see is in ruins'."
The Holy Father indicated the different was this “house” of God was in need of repair. The “house” was first Francis' own life, which he had "to 'repair' through a true conversion.” Second, “it was the Church, not built of bricks but of living people, in constant need of purification.” And third, the Pope noted, “it was also the entirety of humanity, in which God loves to dwell."
"The mission is, then, a workshop with room for everyone: for people committed to fulfilling the Kingdom of God in their own family; for people who live their professional lives with a Christian spirit; for people totally consecrated to the Lord; ... for people who go out with the specific intention of announcing Christ to those who do not yet know Him,” the Pope concluded. “May Mary Most Holy help us to experience ... the joy and courage of the mission!".
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - At the conclusion of the Angelus prayer this Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI offered a greeting to the world’s Muslims, at the conclusion of the season of Ramadan. The Holy Father also invited all to pray for peace in Iraq.
The Pope announced, before the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square, his "cordial greeting to Muslims all over the world who, during these days, are celebrating the end of the month of fasting of Ramadan.”
“To all of them,” Pope Benedict said, “my best wishes for serenity and peace.”
However, he noted, "in dramatic contrast to this climate of joy, is the news coming from Iraq of the grave situation of insecurity and of the pitiless violence to which so many innocents are exposed, simply for being Shias, Sunnis, or Christians.”
"I am aware of the great concern being felt by the Christian community, and wish to give assurances of my closeness to them, as to all the victims, asking that strength and consolation be granted to everyone.”
"I invite you," he concluded, "to join me in my plea to the Almighty that He may give the necessary faith and courage to religious and political leaders, both locally and all over the world, to support (the Iraqi) people on the road of rebuilding their homeland, in their search for a shared equilibrium, with mutual respect, and an awareness that the multiplicity of (the country's) components is an integral part of its wealth."
St. Louis, Mo., Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis has called on all of the faithful in his diocese to pray the rosary on All Souls’ Day, Nov. 2, “for the safeguarding of embryonic human life.”
In an Oct. 20 pastoral letter, titled “Safeguarding Embryonic Human Life through Prayer,” the archbishop said Catholics must be thoroughly informed about the proposed constitutional amendment, which would allow for human cloning. Catholics must also courageously speak the truth to others about cloning and pray, Burke said.
In the most controversial form of stem-cell research, embryos are cloned; their stem cells are removed and the embryos are killed in the process.
Missourians will head to the polls next month to vote on Amendment 2, which would allow for this type of cloning. The Missouri Coalition for Lifesaving Cures, headed by Donn Rubin, is responsible for putting the initiative on the ballot. The ballot measure would guarantee that any stem-cell research that is legal under federal law could be performed in Missouri.
“Somatic cell nuclear transfer, that is, human cloning, is the prideful attempt of man to generate human life by himself, without God and in defiance of God’s plan for us,” Archbishop Burke wrote.
The bishop stopped short of telling Catholics in his archdiocese how to vote. However, he laid out the consequences of the vote in very frank, stark terms.
“We recognize that the vote of each of us on Amendment 2 will be either a vote for the protection of the right to life of our tiniest brothers and sisters, or a vote to subject them to destruction through scientific experimentation,” he said.
It “will also be either a vote for the protection of the integrity of human procreation or a vote to permit the artificial generation of human life,” he added.
The proponents of cloning have many financial resources to promote their cause and have cast opposition to cloning “as a form of heartless religious dogmatism and extremism,” the archbishop said.
“What is more, the officials of our government have permitted them to write the proposed amendment in language geared to deceive the voter,” wrote the archbishop, who said he would address this issue in a future letter.
In May, Archbishop Burke inaugurated an archdiocesan-wide “Rosary Crusade,” asking the faithful to pray the rosary daily for the safeguarding of embryonic human life.
“The praying of the rosary has been a most powerful spiritual instrument of the Church in seeking God’s help in times of great crisis,” he explained.
On All Souls Day, the students in the archdiocese’s Catholic schools will pray the rosary. Archbishop Burke will lead the rosary at DuBourg High School that morning. It will be broadcast on WRYT (AM-1080) and (KHOJ (AM-1460) Catholic radio.
“The challenge of defeating the proposed Amendment 2, the challenge of safeguarding embryonic human life and the integrity of human procreation, is great. But the victory belongs to our Lord Jesus Christ,” said the archbishop in his letter.
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - Following a Mass celebrated to mark the beginning of the Roman academic year, Pope Benedict XVI offered a few words of reflection for students and faculty of the Pontifical Universities and Athanea of Rome. The Holy Father encouraged the students gathered to strengthen their spiritual life and to be prepared to receive the truth which, he noted, comes from God and not from a popular consensus.
The Holy Father noted the tremendous diversity of nations from which the Pontifical students originate. “At the start of this new academic year,” Pope Benedict said, “we praise the Lord for this special community of professors and students, which declares so eloquently the universality and the unity of the Catholic Church. A community still even more beautiful because it principally addresses the youth, giving them the opportunity to enter into and engage in institutions of high cultural and theological values, and offering at the same time, the possibility of enriching pastoral and ecclesiastic experiences.”
The Pope insisted that the Pontifical institutions should focus on, “the important priority of spiritual life and the need for concern, along with cultural growth, for a balanced human development and a deep religious and ascetic formation.”
“Those who want to be a friend of Jesus and to become an authentic disciple, whether seminarian, priest, religious, or layman, can cultivate an intimate friendship with Him in meditation and in prayer,” the Pope insisted.
Benedict XVI emphasized that “the deepening of Christian truths and the study of theology or other religious disciplines assumes an education of silence and contemplation, because it is necessary to be capable of listening with the heart to hear what God says.”
The Pontiff explained that “thought has always needed purification to be able to enter into the dimension in which God pronounces His redemptive and creative word.”
"Only if they stem from silence and contemplation, can our words have some value and utility, and not fall into the inflated speeches of the world, that seek the consensus of the common opinion,” the Pope said.
The Pope stressed that “he who studies at an ecclesiastic Institute should, in this way, be obedient to the truth and therefore cultivate a special asceticism of thought and word.”
“Such an asceticism,” the Holy Father continued, “is based on a loving familiarity with the Word of God and would first speak with that 'silence' in which the Word is originated, in the dialogue of love between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In this dialogue we also have access by the sacred humanity of Christ.”
“Your future apostolate will be fruitful and rich in the measure that, in these years, it is prepared with serious studies, and above all is nurtured by your personal relationship with Him, tending to holiness and having as the only end of your existence the realization of the Kingdom of God,” the Holy Father concluded.
Vatican City, Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI received this morning the members of the John Paul II Foundation and encouraged them to keep alive the teachings and example of his Predecessor in the world, but in particular among younger generations.
The Foundation, led by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow (Poland) and former personal Secretary of Pope John Paul, marks its 25th anniversary this year.
The Holy Father described the members of the foundation as “representatives of the people who, the world over, work to keep John Paul II's memory, his teaching and the apostolic work he undertook during the course of his pontificate alive."
"Your commitment,” he added, “shows real promise, because it involves not only documentation and research, but touches upon the mystery of the sanctity of the Servant of God."
After mentioning the different accomplishments of the Foundation in many fields, including charity and social concern, Pope Benedict said, "This is the aspect of the foundation's activities that I would like to underline today: the study of (John Paul II's) pontificate."
“John Paul II, philosopher, theologian, great pastor of the Church, left us a wealth of writings and gestures expressing his desire to spread the Gospel of Christ in the world using the methods indicated by Vatican Council II and to lay down guidelines for the development of Church life in the new millennium," Pope Benedict said.
"These precious gifts cannot be forgotten. Today I entrust to you, dear members and friends of the John Paul II Foundation, the task of studying the richness of his message, and transmitting it to future generations," he concluded.
Boston, Mass., Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - The incorrupt heart of the patron saint of priests, St. John Vianney, was in Boston last week. Organizers said they hoped the visit would help to promote vocations and healing in the Catholic archdiocese, The Pilot reported.
During the relic’s two-day tour in Boston, from Oct. 12 to 14, more than 7,000 clergy, seminarians, religious and lay Catholics came to pray. The Boston tour was organized by the archdiocese’s vocation office, headed by Fr. Daniel Hennessey, who said he hoped the relic would inspire priests and future priests to recognize their call and to live their vocations fully like the French saint, the archdiocese’s paper reported.
The heart, enclosed in a glass case, traveled from the Shrine of St. John Vianney in Ars, France, first to New York and then to Boston. According to The Pilot, the heart has only left the shrine on two other occasions - once for St. John Vianney’s canonization in Rome and again for World Youth Day 2005 in Germany.
On its first day in the archdiocese, the relic was hosted at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, for a time of prayer exclusively for priests, religious, and seminarians.
“It’s a very important moment of grace, of prayer for all of us. In the saints we are able to glimpse a little bit of God’s holiness and His beauty,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley reportedly said after the relic was placed near the seminary’s statue of the Saint. “It’s a great joy to have this relic here, calling us all to prayer, conversion and inviting, particularly our young people, to reflect on their own personal vocation.”
Fr. Phillippe Caratge, moderator of the sanctuary of St. John Vianney in France, said the saint reminds people that “a priest is a man of prayer.”
St. John Vianney participated willingly in God’s salvation and desired to give himself fully to God, he said. “His secret is his heart … filled with God’s love,” Fr. Caratge said through an interpreter.
“John Marie Vianney received his priesthood as a gift,” said Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France, who also accompanied the relic. “He was conscious that it was not because of his own strength that he had been given the priesthood,” he said.
The bishop ended with a quote from the saint: “There will come a time when many will be so tired of men that they will not be able to hear about God without crying.”
“I believe that it is the time now where people are longing for God and that we, as priests, have to bring them to Him,” he said.
The relic was accessible to the public the following day at St. Mary Parish in Weston and at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Oct. 14. Thousands of Catholics lined up to have a moment of prayer before the relic. Confessions were heard throughout the evening. Those gathered also participated in the rosary, adoration, and Mass, celebrated by Bishop Bagnard.
Madison, Wis., Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin is questioning the motives of a watchdog group who asked the state Elections Board to take action against his diocese for alleged electioneering.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed a complaint with the Elections Board after fliers, designed by the diocese, were distributed to Catholics at churches after Mass. The fliers encourage people to vote “yes” in November for the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
Wisconsin law requires groups that spend more than $25 to support or oppose a state referendum to register with the Elections Board. The diocese insists that the flier campaign was geared to Catholics only and falls completely within the bishop’s mandate to teach his flock. As of late last week, Bishop Morlino said the Elections Board had not yet contacted him, reported the Wisconsin Radio Network.
Noting that the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has said it is nonpartisan but publicized their strong recommendation to vote “no” on the referendum, Bishop Morlino questioned the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign’s motives in attacking his freedom to speak to Catholics.
“I have to wonder whether or not their desire to defeat this marriage amendment has maybe overtaken their desire to be fair about what the bishop can say inside his own churches," the bishop was quoted as saying on Wisconsin Radio Network.
While the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, which functions more actively in the political realm, has registered with the Elections Board, Bishop Morlino said he would not register with Board because he believes it would set a precedent that would impact his freedom to teach as a bishop.
"I cannot allow the state to become involved with how I teach my parishioners and my churches because that curtails our free exercise of religion and that's a principle that's far more valuable in the long run than any other," he reportedly said.
“I wouldn't want to set that precedent because that means that I somehow have to get involved with the state when I teach the basics of my faith inside my own churches,” he was quoted as saying. “I'd rather fight something out in the Supreme Court than give that much, because our freedom of religion has been eroded terribly."
Washington D.C., Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) -
A new document, drafted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will likely raise the issue once again about whether pro-abortion politicians, as well as those in favor of cloning and embryonic stem-cell research, should receive Communion.
The U.S. bishops will vote on the document during their annual November meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 13-16.
The proposed document, Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily, is not intended to be a technical document for bishops, pastors, or ministers. Rather, it is addressed to all the faithful and designed to help Catholics properly prepare to receive Communion.
The statement says Catholics should refrain from Communion when they do not adhere to what the Church teaches on matters of faith and morals or when a person is publicly known to have committed serious sin.
Organized as a series of questions and answers, the statement addresses what the Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist, who may receive Communion, and how Catholics can prepare to receive the sacrament more worthily.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life” that brings the faithful into communion with Christ and as a community of believers.
The statement says Catholics should prepare to receive Communion by regular prayer and scripture reading, the sacrament of reconciliation, fasting, wearing modest dress to church, and coming to Mass in a prayerful state of mind.
It reiterates Church teaching that, with few exceptions, only Catholics may receive Communion at a Catholic Mass.
Catholics should refrain from the sacrament when they are not in a state of grace because of mortal sin, unless they receive the sacrament of reconciliation before the Eucharist.
In 2004, the USCCB concluded that each bishop would act independently in his own diocese with regard to pro-abortion politicians. According to CNA sources, many bishops hope this document will assist in establishing common practices for all U.S. bishops in regards to the distribution of Holy Communion to such politicians.
Rome, Italy, Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference and Vicar of the Diocese of Rome, said last week that the laity should develop a type of “apostolate of consciences” by openly bearing witness “to their own faith and translating their Christian-formed consciences into effective and visible ways of behaving.”
The cardinal made his comments during the Fourth Italian Ecclesial Congress, which took place in the city of Verona.
Cardinal Ruini said the missionary witness of the laity can be understood in two ways.
The first mission of the laity is to imbue society with a Christian spirit and engage in social life responsibly and in fidelity to the teachings of the Church, “especially with regards to ethical and anthropological issues,” he explained.
The second way refers to the challenge of witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “not only in ecclesial settings but also in the many areas of daily life,” Cardinal Ruini continued. By helping others to form their consciences, the laity can help each person “to rediscover the look of faith and keep their consciences alert.”
Cardinal Ruini said witnessing to the faith in this way is “decisive for the future of Christianity and in particular for keeping alive the ‘popular’ characteristic of Italian Catholicism.”
Managua, Nicaragua, Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - The Committee on Justice of the Nicaraguan Congress has approved a bill that would reform the country’s Penal Code and outlaw “therapeutic” abortion.
The committee-approved bill will now go before the entire Congressional body for debate on October 26.
If passed, those who obtain abortions as well as doctors who perform them could be sentenced to 10-30 years in prison. Nicaragua’s Penal Code currently allows therapeutic abortion in cases of rape or incest, life of the mother, and irreversible fetal deformation.
Santiago, Chile, Oct 23, 2006 (CNA) - After weeks of delay, the Constitutional Court of Chile has agreed to open an investigation into the abortifacient nature of the morning-after pill.
The results of the investigation will lead to a new ruling on whether to allow the drug to be prescribed to girls under the age of 14 without parental consent.
The Chilean high court has only agreed to study the abortifacient effects of the pill. Several pro-life groups hope the courts will rule the pill unconstitutional due to the danger it poses to the lives of unborn children and will thus prohibit distribution of the drug.
Congressman Jose Antonio Kast said it was very significant that the court has agreed to study the matter. However, he noted, “if the government wants to debate issues related to life or the right of parents to educate their children,” it should call for constitutional reform. Such a constitutional reform “would be debated in Congress, as it should be,” instead of allowing “a few pro-abortion officials from the UN to dictate a resolution behind closed doors.”
Likewise, Representative Francisco Chahuan said the decision by the court would allow the issue to be thoroughly reviewed and would strengthen the importance of the family in public health policies.