Vatican City, Dec 21, 2006 (CNA) -
Meeting with a group of children from the Italian Catholic Action group, Pope Benedict XVI said today that looking upon the face of the baby Jesus demonstrates the “boundless love with which God surrounds each of us. The Italian Catholic Action children traditionally come to the Vatican during Advent to wish the Pope a Merry Christmas.
The Pope first referred to a theme the children had chosen for their Christmas preparations this year – “Beautiful. True.” “Christmas," he said, "is the great mystery of the Truth and Beauty of God Who came among us for everyone's salvation. The birth of Jesus is not a fable, it is a story that really happened, in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Faith brings us to recognize in that little Child born of the Virgin Mary, the true Son of God Who, out of love, chose to become man."
"In the face of the little Jesus," the Holy Father proceeded, "we contemplate the face of God, which is not revealed through force or power, but in weakness and the fragile constitution of a child. This 'Divine Child' ... demonstrates the faithfulness and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each of us. For this reason we rejoice at Christmas, reliving the same experience as the shepherds of Bethlehem."
"The wonder we feel before the enchantment of Christmas" is, said Benedict XVI, in some way reflected in the birth of all children, "and it invites us to recognize the Infant Jesus in all babies, who are the joy of the Church and the hope of the world."
The Pope assured the children of his trust in them and called upon them "to be friends and witnesses of Jesus, Who came among us in Bethlehem. Is it not a beautiful thing to make Him better known among your friends, in cities, in parishes and in your families? The Church needs you in order to be close to all the children and young people who live in Italy. Bear witness to the fact that Jesus takes away nothing of your joy, but makes you more human, more true, more beautiful."
Washington D.C., Dec 21, 2006 (CNA) - In a letter sent to Catholic News Agency, the Rev. James Massa, Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, has clarified that no agreement has yet been signed between Roman Catholic and Reformed Christian officials regarding the joint recognition of one another’s baptisms.
Fr. Massa was making reference to a story published by CNA on November 28th in which the title and the first paragraph implied that such and agreement had been “signed.”
The USCCB official stated that while the members of the Reformed-Catholic Consultation will continue to work towards an agreement, “only after such a document has been reviewed by the entire dialogue team, and then submitted for review, revision, and final approval by several churches in the dialogue could there be any consideration of a joint ‘signing.’”
As noted by Bishop Patrick Cooney, Bishop of Gaylord, Michigan, and Co-chair of the Reformed-Catholic Consultation, in CNA’s initial article, the continuing discussions between the Churches “clarify where (the Churches) are one and where we differ, so that we may find the road to closer unity in our common apostolic Christian faith.”
Vatican City, Dec 21, 2006 (CNA) - The Holy See today republished a communiqué from the Polish Bishops Conference, along with one of its own, in support of the recently appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of Warsaw, Bishop Stanislaw Wojciech Wielgus, currently of Plock, Poland.
The press releases came in response to stories in the Polish media, which say that the newly appointed archbishop was a collaborator with Soviet occupiers in the middle of the 20th century.
The President of the Polish Episcopal Conference condemned the “public injury that has been inflicted against a specific person's right to a good reputation.”
"The situation that has been created,” he said, “provokes even greater unease because it is a clear example of 'wildcat lustration' (lustration being a technical term to refer to the procedure for attributing responsibility of collaborating with the security services of the communist regime).”
“Such a situation is particularly offensive in the case of an ecclesiastic. In fact, the simple fact of a conversation taking place between a priest and members of the communist security services cannot of itself prove immoral collaboration; especially because, not infrequently, such conversations were of an administrative nature, or had to be undertaken for pastoral reasons or to study, and with the consent of the bishop,” the prelate added.
"We thus request that respect be shown for the decision of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, who has expressed his faith in the person appointed, entrusting him with the office of metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw,” the Polish bishop’s message said. “Expressing our solidarity with Archbishop Wielgus, we entrust his person and the task he has been given to God.”
"We trust that the media storm that has been created will not ruin the religious and family atmosphere that accompanies the Feast of Christmas."
Communique from the Holy See Press Office
The Vatican added its own support saying, "the Holy See, in choosing to appoint the new metropolitan archbishop of Warsaw, took into consideration all the circumstances of his life, including those regarding his past. This means that the Holy Father nourishes complete trust in Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus and, in full awareness, has entrusted him with the mission of pastor of the archdiocese of Warsaw."
According to Polskie Radio, investigative journalists from the Gazeta Polska weekly have found documents from the communist archives, according to which the newly appointed archbishop metropolitan of Warsaw, Stanisław Wielgus, collaborated with the communist secret services for over 20 years, informing them about the activities of the Catholic Church in Communist Poland.
The Polish radio broadcaster also reports that Archbishop Stanisław Wielgus has denied the accusations against him. He says he kept in contact with communist era secret service but never actively collaborated against the Church. Wielgus claims that the documents produced are fake.