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Archive of March 13, 2007

Vatican releases “Sacramentum Caritatis” with press conference

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - In the Holy See Press Office at 11.30 a.m. today, the presentation took place of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," on the Eucharist, source and summit of the life and mission of the Church. Participating in the press conference were Cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, Italy and relater general of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, as well as Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

The exhortation, which is dated February 22, Feast of the of the Chair of St. Peter, is the final document of the synodal assembly held in Rome from October 2nd to 23rd, 2005. It has been published in Latin, Italian, English, French, Spanish German, Portuguese and Polish.

Archbishop Eterovic explained how the Apostolic Exhortation forms part of the "series of great documents on the sublime Sacrament of the Eucharist such as, for example, those of Servant of God John Paul II 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia' and 'Mane nobiscum Domine.' 'Sacramentum Caritatis' is part of this continuity and, at the same time, re-proposes in an updated form certain essential truths of Eucharistic doctrine, calling for the dignified celebration of the sacred rite and recalling the urgent need to include Eucharistic life as part of everyday life."

The secretary general of the Synod of Bishops pointed out that the document, "in presenting the great truths of Eucharistic faith in a way accessible to modern man, considers various current aspects of [Eucharistic] celebration and calls for a renewed commitment to building a more just and peaceful world, in which the Bread broken for everyone's life becomes ... the exemplary cause in the fight against hunger and against all forms of poverty."

For his part, Cardinal Angelo Scola recalled how the title of the Apostolic Exhortation, "Sacramentum Caritatis," reaffirms "the Holy Father's insistence over these two years of his pontificate on the truth of love," clearly indicating that this is "one of the crucial themes upon which the future of the Church and of humanity depend."

The Exhortation is founded "on the indissoluble bond of three elements: Eucharistic mystery, liturgical action and new spiritual worship." Hence, the text "is divided into three sections, each one of which considers one of the three dimensions of the Eucharist." The sections are entitled: "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be believed," "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be celebrated," and "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be lived."

"The Holy Father's teaching," Cardinal Scola went on, "clearly illustrates how liturgical action (the mystery to be celebrated) is that specific action which makes it possible for Christian life (the mystery to be lived, new worship) to be conformed by faith (the mystery to be believed)." In "a second and very important doctrinal novelty," Benedict XVI also highlights "the importance of 'ars celebrandi' (art of celebration) for an ever greater 'actuosa participatio' (full, active and fruitful participation)."

The first section of the document, "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be believed," highlights the "free gift of the Blessed Trinity" and illustrates "the mystery of the Eucharist on the basis of its Trinitarian origin, which ensures it always remains a gift. ... In this teaching are the profound roots of what the Exhortation says concerning adoration and its intrinsic relationship with Eucharistic celebration."

With reference to Christology and the work of the Spirit, the Holy Father considers "the institution of the Eucharist in relation to the Jewish Paschal supper," in a "decisive passage that illuminates the radical 'novum' that Christ brought to the ancient ritual meal.

"Indeed," the cardinal added, "in the rites we do not repeat an act chronologically situated during Jesus' Last Supper, rather we celebrate the Eucharist as a radical 'novum' of Christian worship." Jesus calls us to enter "the mystery of death and resurrection, the innovative beginning of the transformation ... of all history and all the cosmos."

The chapter on "the Eucharist and the Church" highlights how "the Eucharist is the causal principle of the Church: 'We too, at every celebration of the Eucharist, confess the primacy of Christ's gift. The causal influence of the Eucharist at the Church's origins definitively discloses both the chronological and ontological priority of the fact that it was Christ Who loved us first.' Benedict XVI, while affirming the circularity between the Eucharist that builds the Church and the Church herself that celebrates the Eucharist, makes a significant magisterial option for the primacy of Eucharistic over ecclesial causality."

"The Holy Eucharist brings Christian initiation to completion and represents the center and goal of all sacramental life" said Cardinal Scola quoting from the Exhortation, and he pointed out how the document goes on to consider the Eucharist and the seven Sacraments. "Concerning the Sacrament of Reconciliation the Holy Father insists on the need for 'a reinvigorated catechesis on the conversion born of the Eucharist'," while "the Anointing of the Sick and the Viaticum 'unites the sick with Christ's self-offering for the salvation of all'."

"The irreplaceable nature of priestly ministry for the valid celebration of Mass," is emphasized in the chapter dedicated to "the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Orders," said the patriarch of Venice, adding that the Holy Father "reaffirms and underlines the relationship between priestly ordination and celibacy: 'while respecting the practice and tradition of the Eastern Churches, there is a need to reaffirm the profound meaning of priestly celibacy, which is rightly considered a priceless treasure'."

The great decrease in the number of clergy on some continents "must be faced in the first place by bearing witness to the beauty of priestly life," and by "careful vocational formation."

In the chapter entitled "the Eucharist and Matrimony" the Holy Father maintains that "the Eucharist, par excellence a nuptial Sacrament, 'inexhaustibly strengthens the indissoluble unity and love of every Christian marriage'."

"Taking the nuptial nature of the Eucharist as his starting point," said Cardinal Scola, "Benedict XVI reconsiders the theme of the unicity of Christian marriage, with reference to the question of polygamy and to the indissolubility of the marriage bond.

"The text contains important pastoral suggestions" concerning Catholics who have divorced and remarried, he added. "The Exhortation, having reaffirmed that despite their situation such people 'continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern,' lists nine ways to participate in the life of the community for these faithful who, even without receiving Communion, can adopt a Christian style of life."

Mention is also made in the text "of people who, having celebrated a valid marriage, ... find themselves unable to obtain a nullity of the marriage bond, suggesting that, with appropriate pastoral assistance they commit themselves 'to living their relationship in fidelity to the demands of God's law, as friends, as brother and sister,' in other words transforming their bond into a fraternal friendship."

The second part of the document, "the Eucharist, a Mystery to be celebrated," is dedicated, the cardinal said, "to describing the development of liturgical action in celebration, indicating the aspects that deserve the greatest attention and making a number of significant pastoral suggestions."

"The Pope offers a number of indications concerning the richness of liturgical symbols (silence, vestments, gestures, the standing and kneeling positions, etc.) and of art at the service of celebration." In this context the document recalls the importance of the tabernacle being visible in the church and marked by a lamp.

The unity between Eucharistic mystery, liturgical action and new spiritual worship becomes clear "when the Pope highlights the personal conditions for active participation."

The document highlights certain pastoral aspects that favor a more active participation in the sacred rites. These include use of the communications media, participation by the sick, prisoners and emigrants, large-scale concelebrations (which must be limited to "extraordinary situations"), and Eucharistic celebrations in small groups. "It also proposes a more widespread use of the Latin language, especially in the great international celebrations, without overlooking the importance of the Gregorian chant."

"The Pope," the cardinal went on, "recalls 'the inherent unity of the rite of Mass' which must also be expressed in the way in which the Liturgy of the Word is practiced." Benedict XVI highlights "the great educational value for the life of the Church, especially at this moment in history, of the presentation of the gifts, the sign of peace and the 'Ite, missa est.' And the Holy Father entrusts the study of possible modifications to these latter two aspects to the competent curial offices."

The third and final part of the Apostolic Exhortation, said the cardinal, "demonstrates the power of the mystery - believed and celebrated - to become the ultimate and definitive horizon of Christian existence."

From its opening lines, the patriarch of Venice went on, the Apostolic Exhortation highlights the fact "that the gift of the Eucharist is for man, that it responds to man's hopes. ... In the Eucharistic celebration, Christians find the true and living God, capable of saving their lives. And the interlocutor of this salvation is human freedom." On this subject, Benedict XVI writes: "Precisely because Christ has become for us the food of truth, the Church turns to every man and woman, inviting them freely to accept God's gift."

The cardinal continued: "The anthropological importance of the Eucharist emerges with all its power in the new worship characteristic of Christians. ... On the basis of Eucharistic action, all the circumstances of life become, so to say, 'sacramental.' ... Regenerated by Baptism and 'eucharistically' incorporated into the Church, man can finally be completely fulfilled, learning to offer his 'own body' - in other words, all of himself - as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God."

The patriarch of Venice indicated that "all the faithful are called to a profound transformation of their own lives" which is, as the Pope writes, "'a heartfelt yearning to respond to the Lord's love with one's whole being, while remaining ever conscious of one's own weakness.'

"In this context, the responsibility of Christians in public and political life becomes particularly important." Catholic politicians and legislators must, then, "introduce and support laws,' the Holy Father writes, "inspired by values grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist."

Another chapter of the document deals with the question of the Eucharist and witness. "The first and fundamental mission that we receive from the sacred mysteries we celebrate is that of bearing witness by our lives," the Holy Father writes.

"The Exhortation," said the cardinal, "strongly recommends that everyone, and in particular the lay faithful 'cultivate a desire that the Eucharist have an ever deeper effect on their daily lives, making them convincing witnesses in the workplace and in society at large'."

The document, Cardinal Scola said, does not hesitate to affirm that "the Eucharist ... compels all who believe ... to become 'bread that is broken for others,' and to work for the building of a more just and fraternal world."

"Eucharistic celebration involves the offer of bread and wine, the fruits of the earth, and of the life and labor of mankind. ... The question of protecting creation is developed and becomes more profound in relation to the Lord's design for all creation, The truth is not mere neutral matter at the mercy of technical and scientific manipulation, it is desired by God with a view to the recapitulation of all things in Christ. Hence the responsibility to protect creation, a responsibility that falls to Christians who are nourished by the Eucharist."

Cardinal Scola expressed the conviction that "in the authenticity of faith and of Eucharistic worship lies the secret for a revival of Christian life capable of regenerating the People of God. The mystery of the Eucharist throws opens the way to the reality of God, which is love."

At the beginning and end of the document, Benedict XVI highlights the relationship between the Eucharist and the Virgin Mary: "In Mary Most Holy, we also see perfectly fulfilled the 'sacramental' way that God comes down to meet His creatures and involves them in His saving work. ... From Mary we must learn to become men and women of the Eucharist and of the Church."

To read the document in its entirety, visit the Vatican website here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20070222_sacramentum-caritatis_en.html

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Local Catholics provide relief, aid to majority Muslim population

Jakarta, Indonesia, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - According to FIDES, local Catholic community members are on the front lines assisting the distressed earthquake survivors in the city of Padang, Indonesia. Most of the people receiving aid are Muslim.

“We are doing everything we can. We have mobilized all our resources to assist the earthquake victims, especially and most importantly prayer,” Bishop Martinus Situmorang of the Diocese of Padang told Fides.

“Charity knows no boundaries or categories,” said the bishop, referring to the interreligious aid. “Every diocese is taking part in a nationwide collection for funds to help the affected people.”

The diocese is sending blankets, food supplies, clean water to the homeless survivors. Catholic communities are also offering special prayers. Moreover, homeless families are being sheltered in Catholic centers and homes assisted by the local Caritas volunteers.

The humanitarian work is benefiting from the cooperation of Caritas Germany and Catholic Relief Services in the U.S.

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Sumatra March 6, killing at least 82 people. The epicenter was about 30 miles northeast of Padang. According to Fides, 420 people were injured and 1,000 homes and other buildings collapsed, among them, Catholic schools, hospitals and parish structures. 

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UK’s Labour Party can’t be sure of Catholic vote, says bishop

, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Labour Party should not assume it will have the traditional working-class vote in Scotland in the upcoming election in view of recent legislation that does not uphold Christian principles, said Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell.

Catholics in Scotland have voiced their concern over the erosion of family values due to recent legislation recognizing same-sex civil unions and granting adoption rights to homosexuals. These laws have impacted Catholics and their traditional allegiance to Labour, the bishop said.

"For generations, including myself, Catholics in their droves tended to vote consistently for the Labour Party,” he was quoted as saying by The Scotsman. “But over the past few months it has been very noticeable, in conversations I've had with all manner of people, that that allegiance has been severely tested to the point, I think, of being broken."

"The state seems to have developed a new kind of morality devoid of any Christian principle or background," the bishop was quoted as saying. He warned it would be "ill-founded" of the Labour Party to assume it could count on the traditional vote.

Bishop Devine did not suggest who Catholics should vote for. He said it was for churchgoers to "exercise their votes responsibly, according to their conscience." But he told Radio 4's Sunday program he thought he might support the Christian People's Alliance.

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Boston Archdiocese prays St. Patrick novena with monstrance blessed by JPII

Boston, Mass., Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Boston is preparing for the feast day of one of the most popular saints in North America — St. Patrick — with a novena and Eucharistic adoration.

During the nine days leading up to the feast of St. Patrick, the archdiocese’s Vocation Office has organized Eucharistic adoration and prayer for vocations in 47 different parishes, religious houses, colleges and schools. Part of the prayer includes the Novena to St. Patrick. The prayer tour began March 9 and will conclude March 17.

Eucharistic adoration and prayer are being carried out in the presence of the John Paul II Monstrance. The late pope blessed six monstrances in 2004 and presented one to each continent. The monstrance is brought around each continent to promote prayer for vocations.  

Cardinal Seán O' Malley presided at the Holy Hour at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on March 9.

The prayer tour will end at the Boston Catholic Men's and Women's Conferences on March 17 and 18.

For the schedule of prayer locations and times, go to: www.rcab.org/News/Events/070309-novena.html

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Homosexual adoption decision denies religious rights, Scottish archbishop says

, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - Recent legislation that accords homosexual couples more rights, in particular the right to adoption, infringes on the rights of religious conscience and risks making Catholic beliefs unacceptable in public life, said Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow.

“The moral teaching of the Church held for centuries and stemming from the old and new testaments provided the basis for our country’s laws and public morality,” he said in his homily Sunday. “Today, it is contradicted by new political ideologies.”

The archbishop referred to the prospect of Catholic adoption agencies closing due to the new regulations, which would force them to go against Church teaching on marriage and family, and to place children with homosexual couples.

The archbishop noted that the Christian Lawyers’ Association has stated that the new regulations for adoption mean that the rights accorded to homosexuals trump the rights of religious conscience.

“The irony is that by attempting to treat homosexuals fairly the Government has acted unfairly to another, much larger section of the community, not simply in a matter of social or fiscal policy but on an issue of basic morality - touching the very nature of sexual relationships and the unique character of conjugal love,” the archbishop said.

“Catholic citizens are committed to a just society where all are treated fairly,” he stated. “The new laws will now make Catholic beliefs on life unacceptable in public life.”

Archbishop Conti warned that the adoption issue is just the “tip of the iceberg.” He urged the Catholic community to be attentive to the wider issues that are going on.

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Short film about a persecuted Greek Catholic priest in Romania released

Konigstein, Germany, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - “Towards the Sun”, a short film produced by Catholic Radio and Television Network (CRTN) and sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need has been released, focusing on Tertulian Langa, a Greek-Catholic layman, who was imprisoned for 17 years in the Romanian Goulags (1948-1964) and who later became a priest.

In the film Fr. Langa explains his resolution not to cooperate with his captors, even with the threat of loosing his life.  “Once arrested, I was taken to different places for interrogation, where I was beaten without being asked a single question. Since physical abuse produced no result, my torturers began to apply psychological pressure. After every blow, when the torturers demanded ‘Talk!,’ I kept telling myself ‘I won’t talk.’”

CRTN Director Mark von Riedemann told Aid to the Church in Need, “The idea of the film is to tell the story of the persecution at that time. [Fr. Langa’s] story is over, but there are many Christians in the world today, who are suffering a similar persecution.” 

According to the testimony, Tertulian Langa, who was under the spiritual direction of Msgr. Vladimir Ghika did not betray his Church, after his release from prison he became a married priest of the Greek-Catholic Rite.  Later, one of his sons followed him in his vocation.

In 1948 the communist regime in Romania liquidated the local Greek-Catholic Church, forcing it to unite with the Orthodox Church. All seven bishops, many priests and laymen who did not want to renounce unity with Rome, were arrested.

The short film, a 29 minutes documentary so far exists in Romanian and English. A French version will be available soon.

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Jesus was no socialist, guru, or hippie, but rather the Son of God, says Venezuelan bishop

Caracas, Venezuela, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - In an article published this week Bishop Mario Moronta of San Cristobal warned against misinterpreting the person of Jesus as “a Socialist,” a “guru,” or “hippie” and encouraged the faithful to constantly recall that Jesus is Lord, the Son of God.

“The person of Jesus, with his actions and teachings, has always inspired amazement and admiration in many, as well as questioning and even rejection in others,” the bishop wrote in an article for the diocesan newspaper.

“In modern times as well,” Bishop Moronta said, “the question about Jesus remains.  The answer given is in accord with those who do the asking: Some have claimed he is an alien who has come from who knows what planet or galaxy in order to carry out a mission. Some have claimed he is a kind of ‘guru’ who, after his death in Israel, supposedly traveled to the Far East to achieve complete wisdom.  Some claim he is a great teacher of wisdom.  There is even no lack of those who would say he is a myth or an invention of the first Christians,” the bishop wrote.

“In our Latin American continent, there have always been attempts to answer the troubling question about Him,” he continued.  “He has been identified as a ‘revolutionary,’ a ‘guerrilla,’ to the point that he has been depicted in paintings crucified on a cross of rifles.  In our own national debate, he has been presented as a ‘Socialist.’”
 
“In every age,” Bishop Moronta said, “to not see Jesus in his true dimension produces in many a reaction against the Church, who is Mother and Teacher.”

“Therefore,” he recommended, “more than confronting those who do not understand the Church’s reasons, what we must do is show where the source of our answers is: in the Gospel, which is the Word of God,” where we find Peter’s profession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 

“Here is the authentic answer to the question about Jesus.  It is the recognition of his divine mission, of his divinity, of his final objective—the salvation of humanity,” the bishop stressed.

When somebody claims something about the person of Jesus,” Bishop Moronta added, “the attitude of believers in Christ must be that which is inspired by the Gospel: a profession of faith, made without hesitation and without fear, not to condemn another, but to invite him to understand what the true meaning of the existence of the person and work of Jesus the Lord is.”

“Therefore, neither a revolutionary, nor a Socialist, nor a hippie, nor a philosopher, nor a Gnostic deity, nor an alien, nor a ghost, nor a myth: Jesus is Lord, the Son of the living God, the Savior, the Word incarnate who has made the mystery and plan of God known to us, the Beginning and the End, the faithful witness, the same today, yesterday and forever,” Bishop Moronta emphasized.

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Pro-Family organization says Catalonia government continues war against the family

Madrid, Spain, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - The Institute for Family Policy issued a statement this past weekend denouncing the government of the Spanish region of Catalonia for continuing “its policy of marginalization and discrimination against the family.”

The president of the IFP in Catalonia, Liberto Senderos, said the actions of the government during the first 100 days of the current legislative session have revealed a clear decision to oppose the family.

Senderos criticized the restructuring of governmental departments, noting that a department dedicated to the family has not been created, and that the Department of Wellbeing and the Family has been replaced by the Department of Social Action and Citizenship.  This Department, he said, includes a section dedicated to the promotion of the gay, lesbian, and transsexual agenda.

Senderos said this was evidence of the government’s lack of interest in the family and that instead of working to support the family, it has brought forth a bill against the supposed discrimination of minorities, which could mean a loss of rights for those who do not share the opinions of certain lobby groups.
 
The IFP also denounced the government’s educational policy, which is preventing parents from freely choosing the school to which they wish to send their children and which would reduce the grants available for large families or families with children suffering from certain illnesses.”

In addition, the organization denounced the government’s sexual education program, “which is directed at minors under the age of 15 and which, without taking into consideration the opinions of their families, continues to offer the same tired and failed solutions that have proven ineffective up to now.”
 
The IPF also noted that Catalonia continues to have no program in support of women with troubled pregnancies and that the only financial assistance given them is for abortion.

The government has also failed to provide adequate housing to families in the region, it said.

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Argentinean archbishop warns of climate favorable to legalization of abortion

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - In his weekly program, “Keys to a Better World,” Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata warned that a climate favorable to the legalization of abortion is being created in Argentina through the promotion of so-called “therapeutic abortions” and the “morning-after pill.”

The archbishop denounced the campaigns being led by the Ministry of Health and are based on the “Kissinger Report,” the famous report that recommended dramatically reducing the population of Latin America in order to keep it under control.

He told his television audience to become “spokesmen for this truth: the morning after pill is certainly and truly abortifacient!”

Regarding a case in Mar del Plata, where a judge has authorized an underage girl who was raped by her mother’s boyfriend to receive an abortion, Archbishop Aguer noted that it was being incorrectly described as “a therapeutic abortion, because therapeutic means healing, and it’s not clear just what an abortion is going to heal.” While the judge based her ruling on a statute allowing abortion in cases of life of the mother, Archbishop Aguer pointed out that this was a case not of “physical risk or danger to the health of the mother but rather of psychiatric health.”

He went on to warn against efforts currently underway in the Argentinean Congress to broaden the exceptions for abortion to include the “health” of the mother.  “This is a path towards completely liberalizing this ‘abominable crime of abortion,’ as Vatican II called it,” he said.

Archbishop Aguer also pointed out that the Ministry of Heath’s campaign to promote the morning after pill misinforms people about so-called “emergency contraception,” as the pill’s effect of preventing implantation of a fertilized ovum in the womb is not explained or is only described in small print on the printed material that is being distributed.

He also noted that many “doctors, health care workers and scientists who do not recognize life as beginning at conception, are honest enough to admit that these pills produce a micro-abortion.”

Archbishop Aguer said the government’s policy of facilitating sterilization and now the massive distribution of the abortion pill was “devastating.”  “They want to deny the scientific evidence that affirms the existence of a new human being from the moment of conception,” he stressed.

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Catholic lawyers in Mexico join together in defense of life

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - The College of Catholic Lawyers in Mexico City announced this week it would begin a series of efforts in defense of life as the Legislative Assembly of Mexico City prepares to approve an ordinance that would legalize abortion up to the 12th week of pregnancy.

During a press conference, Armando Martinez, spokesman for the College, spoke about the measure currently being debated by the Assembly and emphasized the need “for the ethics of respect for life, the dignity of man and the rights of present and future generations to prevail in the country.”

“We are going to mobilize Catholics and people of all faiths to take to the streets to defend life.  We are going to protest in favor of life, not in favor of the culture of death that some want to promote now.  If we have not made them understand through political negotiations, we hope to make them understand on the streets,” Martinez said.

During his Sunday homily, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City underscored the great responsibility of those who legislate in favor of or against human life, and he prayed that respect for the dignity of man and the rights of future generations would prevail.

Currently abortion is allowed in the Mexican capital in cases of rape, life of the mother or fetal deformation.  The new measure would allow women to have an abortion if they felt the pregnancy would cause serious inconvenience.

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Life and family are “non negotiable” values for politicians who desire Communion

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - In his document on the Eucharist, “Sacramentum Caritatis,” released Tuesday morning, Pope Benedict XVI recalled that the defense of life and the protection of the family are “non negotiable” values for Catholic politicians and legislators who wish to be receive Communion in the Church.

In his extensive new Apostolic Exhortation the Holy Father approached the topic of “Eucharistic consistency,” which he described as, “a quality which our lives are objectively called to embody.”

“Worship pleasing to God can never be a purely private matter, without consequences for our relationships with others,” he said, “it demands a public witness to our faith.”

“Evidently,” the Holy Father continued, “this is true for all the baptized, yet it is especially incumbent upon those who, by virtue of their social or political position, must make decisions regarding fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms.”

“These values,” he said, “are not negotiable.”

“Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-29).”

The Holy Father also reminded all Catholic bishops of their responsibility to encourage such an understanding of “Eucharistic consistency” in all the faithful of their diocese, adding that, “Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them.”

Pope Benedict reemphasized the social import of the Eucharist on the life of the world later in his document, noting that, “The union with Christ brought about by the Eucharist also brings a newness to our social relations: ‘this sacramental ‘mysticism' is social in character.’”

“Indeed,” he continued, quoting from his own document “Deus Caritas Est,” “‘union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own.’”  

“The relationship between the eucharistic mystery and social commitment must be made explicit,” he said.  “The Eucharist is the sacrament of communion between brothers and sisters who allow themselves to be reconciled in Christ, who made of Jews and pagans one people, tearing down the wall of hostility which divided them (cf. Eph 2:14). Only this constant impulse towards reconciliation enables us to partake worthily of the Body and Blood of Christ (cf. Mt 5:23-24).”

As such, he concluded, “it is not the proper task of the Church to engage in the political work of bringing about the most just society possible; nonetheless she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the struggle for justice.”

“The Church, he said, “has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper.”

Quoting the Fathers of the Eucharistic Synod, Pope Benedict added that, “All who partake of the Eucharist must commit themselves to peacemaking in our world scarred by violence and war, and today in particular, by terrorism, economic corruption, and sexual exploitation.”

“All these problems,” he said, “give rise in turn to others no less troubling and disheartening. We know that there can be no superficial solutions to these issues. Precisely because of the mystery we celebrate, we must denounce situations contrary to human dignity, since Christ shed his blood for all, and at the same time affirm the inestimable value of each individual person.”

For the complete text of “Sacramentum Caritatis” see the Vatican website here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20070222_sacramentum-caritatis_en.html

The sections quoted above are 83 and 89.

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Salvadoran archbishop confirms Vatican sanction of Jesuit theologian

San Salvador, El Salvador, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle of San Salvador confirmed this week that on Thursday the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would issue a Canonical sanction against Jesuit liberation theologian Jon Sobrino.

Sobrino, a Basque Jesuit who has lived in El Salvador since the 1970’s, where he has been a professor of theology at the Jose Simeon Cañas Central American University, which he founded together with several other Jesuits.

Although the sanction will be official made public on Thursday, Archbishop Saenz said during a press conference that “the Holy See tells us that the conclusions of his theological studies are not in accord with the doctrine of the Church.”
 
The sanction also will prohibit Jon Sobrino from teaching classes at any Catholic institution and from publishing as a Catholic author.

“For some time his writings have been under study, and for years he has been warned,” Archbishop Lacalle said, explaining that Sobrino, like many of his fellow liberationists, emphasizes the human nature of Jesus to the point of putting his divinity in doubt.

Like other authors such as Gustavo Gutierrez, Juan Luis Segundo and Pablo Richard, Sabrino contributed to creating profound division in the Church in Latin America by promoting a Marxist interpretation of theology.  He has refused to make any comments until the Vatican officially publishes the sanction.

Archbishop Lacalle has requested Sobrino refrain from further controversies surrounding the activity of liberation theology proponents, especially in view of the upcoming General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council, and that he “conform to the teachings of the Church.”

“I pray to the Lord for Father Jon Sobrino, that he may be docile to the teachings of the Church and will review his conclusions,” the archbishop said. 

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Pope Benedict encourages divorced Catholics to live their Christian lives as fully as possible

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI today addressed the “painful situations” of those who have been married in the Church and have been divorced and remarried, an issue he called a “complex and troubling pastoral problem.”  The Holy Father recalled that although divorced and remarried Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion, they are still called “to live as fully as possible the Christian life.”

Addressing the issue through his Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, “Sacramentum Caritatis,” the Pontiff underlined the relation between the Eucharist and indissolubility of marriage.

“If the Eucharist expresses the irrevocable nature of God's love in Christ for his Church, we can then understand why it implies, with regard to the sacrament of Matrimony, that indissolubility to which all true love necessarily aspires,” Pope Benedict explained.

“There was good reason for the pastoral attention that the Synod gave to the painful situations experienced by some of the faithful who, having celebrated the sacrament of Matrimony, then divorced and remarried,” he said.

The situation, he continued, “represents a complex and troubling pastoral problem, a real scourge for contemporary society, and one which increasingly affects the Catholic community as well.”

The Holy Father added that the Synod of Bishops, who met to discuss issues surrounding the Eucharist, “confirmed the Church's practice, based on Sacred Scripture (cf. Mk 10:2- 12), of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments, since their state and their condition of life objectively contradict the loving union of Christ and the Church signified and made present in the Eucharist.”

“Yet,” he emphasized, “the divorced and remarried continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern and encourages them to live as fully as possible the Christian life through regular participation at Mass, albeit without receiving communion, listening to the word of God, eucharistic adoration, prayer, participation in the life of the community, honest dialogue with a priest or spiritual director, dedication to the life of charity, works of penance, and commitment to the education of their children.”

Avoiding Divorce
Considering further the tremendous pain which divorce can cause the Holy Father said that, “the Synod also recommended devoting maximum pastoral attention to training couples preparing for marriage and to ascertaining beforehand their convictions regarding the obligations required for the validity of the sacrament of Matrimony.”

“Serious discernment in this matter will help to avoid situations where impulsive decisions or superficial reasons lead two young people to take on responsibilities that they are then incapable of honoring.  The good that the Church and society as a whole expect from marriage and from the family founded upon marriage is so great as to call for full pastoral commitment to this particular area,” he said.

Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself,” the Pope concluded.

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Pope confirms “obligatory character” of celibacy in the Latin Tradition

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2007 (CNA) - In his Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist today, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed that priestly celibacy remains obligatory in the Latin tradition as a means of attempting to achieve, “complete configuration to Christ.”

“While respecting the different practice and tradition of the Eastern Churches,” the Holy Father said, “there is a need to reaffirm the profound meaning of priestly celibacy, which is rightly considered a priceless treasure, and is also confirmed by the Eastern practice of choosing Bishops only from the ranks of the celibate. These Churches also greatly esteem the decision of many priests to embrace celibacy.”

According to Pope Benedict, “this choice on the part of the priest expresses in a special way the dedication which conforms him to Christ and his exclusive offering of himself for the Kingdom of God. The fact that Christ himself, the eternal priest, lived his mission even to the sacrifice of the Cross in the state of virginity constitutes the sure point of reference for understanding the meaning of the tradition of the Latin Church.”

Not purely functional

The Holy Father reiterated that, “it is not sufficient to understand priestly celibacy in purely functional terms. Celibacy is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ's own way of life,” because, “this choice has first and foremost a nuptial meaning; it is a profound identification with the heart of Christ the Bridegroom who gives his life for his Bride.”

“Celibacy,” he said, “is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ's own way of life.”

“In continuity with the great ecclesial tradition, with the Second Vatican Council, and with my predecessors in the papacy, I reaffirm the beauty and the importance of a priestly life lived in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God, and I therefore confirm that it remains obligatory in the Latin tradition.”

“Priestly celibacy lived with maturity, joy and dedication is an immense blessing for the Church and for society itself,” the Holy Father said.

Priest shortages

The Holy Father also turned to, “the difficult situation that has arisen in various Dioceses which face a shortage of priests.” 

“This happens,” the Pope lamented, “not only in some areas of first evangelization, but also in many countries of long-standing Christian tradition.”

The Holy Father noted that a more equitable distribution of clergy could help the situation and encouraged clergy members to, “become more open to serving the Church wherever there is need, even if this calls for sacrifice.”

“Bishops,” he added, “should involve Institutes of Consecrated Life and the new ecclesial groups in their pastoral needs, while respecting their particular charisms.”

“The Synod also discussed pastoral initiatives aimed at promoting, especially among the young, an attitude of interior openness to a priestly calling. The situation cannot be resolved by purely practical decisions.”

However, he added, “on no account should Bishops react to real and understandable concerns about the shortage of priests by failing to carry out adequate vocational discernment, or by admitting to seminary formation and ordination candidates who lack the necessary qualities for priestly ministry.”

“An insufficiently formed clergy, admitted to ordination without the necessary discernment, will not easily be able to offer a witness capable of evoking in others the desire to respond generously to Christ's call. The pastoral care of vocations needs to involve the entire Christian community in every area of its life. Obviously, this pastoral work on all levels also includes exploring the matter with families, which are often indifferent or even opposed to the idea of a priestly vocation. Families should generously embrace the gift of life and bring up their children to be open to doing God's will. In a word, they must have the courage to set before young people the radical decision to follow Christ, showing them how deeply rewarding it is,” he said.

To read the document in its entirety, click the CNA link here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=153

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