Vatican City, Feb 11, 2007 (CNA) -
Greeting the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on this, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Pope Benedict XVI used his Angelus address to speak about the connection between the apparitions at Lourdes, human suffering, and the suffering of the crucified Christ.
The Holy Father recalled Pope John Paul II's desire that the World Day of the Sick be celebrated on February 11th, “the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette…in the grotto of Massabielle, at Lourdes.”
Pope Benedict emphasized how at Lourdes, Mary called all Christians to prayer and Penance, “echoing the words with which Jesus began his preaching in Galilee, ‘This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mk 1:15).’”
The Sanctuary of Lourdes, the Pope recalled, has become a destination for so many infirm pilgrims, “who in hearing the Most Holy Mary, are encouraged to accept their sufferings and offer them for the salvation of the world, uniting them to those of the crucified Christ.”
On this Day of the Sick, the Holy Father continued, "I would like to extend my thoughts to health workers the world over."
In a special way, he also sent his greetings to those gathered in Seoul, South Korea, where Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, is for this year’s celebration of the World Day of the Sick.
“Above all,” the Pontiff said, “I would like to make manifest my spiritual closeness and my love to our ill brothers and sisters, with particular thoughts of those who are afflicted by the most serious and painful illnesses.”
“It is necessary to continue the development of palliative care which offers an integral assistance and provides to the incurably sick that human support and spiritual company, which they greatly need,” the Pope said.
Before ending his Angelus with the traditional multilingual greetings for pilgrims, the Pope mentioned "the joy with which…he will meet with [several infirm people] after Mass today." He closed with a brief prayer entrusting all who suffer in mind or body to the protection of the Immaculate Virgin.
Rome, Italy, Feb 11, 2007 (CNA) - “Not all those who were in the lists were collaborationists, many have been unfairly accused and the news has been blown up by the press,” the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, said this week while in Rome for a meeting with the bishops and friends of the Focolare Movement.
The Cardinal noted that at the same time clergy members are undergoing false accusations, “members of the secret police are still holding public offices in the administration.” The Church is being accused, in large part, to distract attention from the actions these men committed while working for the Communist government, the archbishop claimed.
“In my diocese, out of 500 priests, only 45 collaborated. But all priests underwent huge pressure and blackmailing, including threats of martyrdom,” Cardinal Vlk recalled. The Cardinal himself was imprisoned during the regime and, when released, was forced to earn a living as a window cleaner, while carrying out his priestly ministry in secret.
“Not everyone is made for heroism,” Vlk said. “The two or three priests who committed major crimes have already been sent away.”
In the early nineties the Czech Church conducted an internal investigation regarding clergy involvement in the Communist regime. Following the investigation, the bishops issued letters of apology, and organized a pilgrimage of repentance to the Sanctuary of Velehrad for all those who had collaborated as spies.
In the last few days, the Czech Bishops Conference released a statement reaffirming its commitment to investigating credible accusations against members of the clergy.
Washington D.C., Feb 11, 2007 (CNA) - Following the decision of U.S. Senator and Presidential hopeful John Edwards to stand by two campaign officials who have made vulgar public statements against the Pope and Catholic Church, Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has announced a “public relations blitz” to confront what he calls “the glaring double standard that colors the entire conversation about bigotry.”
“John Edwards has apparently decided that there is more to be gained by aligning himself with the cultural left than by standing on principle and firing the Catholic bashers on his payroll. Had anyone on his staff used the ‘N-word,’ he or she would have been fired immediately.”
Edwards released a statement on Thursday, explaining why he is not firing Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan, two well known liberal bloggers, to run his internet campaign. The two, prior to being hired for the Edwards campaign made internet statements including one claiming that the Catholic Church’s stand on life issues is a ploy to gain more money and another wondering if the world would be a better place if Mary had used the Plan-B abortion pill.
The Democratic presidential candidate said that he had spoken to the staff members and received their assurance that they did not mean to denigrate any church or religion with their statements. “I took them at their word," Edwards said.
Donohue noted the recent media outrage over anti-Semitic remarks made by a drunken Mel Gibson, racist remarks made by comedian Michael Richards, and anti-gay remarks made by actor Isaiah Washington. Each of these men “paid a price” for their mistakes, Donohue noted, “but John Edwards thinks the same rules don’t apply to him, which is why he has chosen to embrace foul-mouthed anti-Catholic bigots on his payroll.”
The Catholic League leader claims that Edwards’ goal is to gain support from the wealthy Democratic supporter George Soros, and the “Hollywood gang.” Soros and much of Hollywood “aren’t offended by anti-Catholicism,” Donohue claimed. “Indeed, they thrive on it.”
“We will launch a nationwide public relations blitz that will be conducted on the pages of the New York Times, as well as in Catholic newspapers and periodicals. It will be on-going, breaking like a wave, starting next week and continuing through 2007. It will be an education campaign, informing the public of what [Edwards] did today,” Donohue said.
“We will also reach out to our allies in the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist communities. They worked with us before on many issues, and are sure to do so again. What Edwards did today will not be forgotten.”