, May 7, 2007 (CNA) - Scattered sprinkles did not stop thousands of pilgrims from gathering in St. Peter's Square yesterday to hear the Pope's Regina Caeli address. In his first address of May, his Holiness drew attention to the fact that May "is the Marian month par excellence."
"After the Second Vatican Council," Benedict continued, "the Marian Cult has experienced a profound renewal." This year, May coincides with part of Eastertide, "and it is, therefore, a good time to illustrate the figure of Mary as the Mother who accompanies the Community of the Disciples gathered together in prayer while waiting for the Holy Spirit."
Abuja, Nigeria, May 7, 2007 (CNA) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI praised the service to the Church paid by the 500 year-old Swiss Guard during the ceremony of reception of 38 new recruits who on Sunday took the oath "To the Holy Trinity" as members of the corps.
Speaking in German, French and Italian -the three official languages of Switzerland, where the guards are recruited- Benedict XVI pointed out how the Pontifical Swiss Guard has "a long history of loyalty and of generous and dedicated service, sometimes performed even unto the heroic sacrifice of life."
He also expressed his gratitude for "your silent but effective presence at the Pope's side. Thank you for the professionalism and for the love with which you undertake your mission," said the Pontiff.
"Indeed, yours is not just a professional service," he added, "it is also a true mission in the service of Christ and of His Church. The Lord calls you to sanctity, in other words to be His disciples, always ready to listen to His voice, to undertake His will and to accomplish it in your daily duties."
"This,” the Pope added, “will help to make you 'good Christians' and at the same time 'exemplary soldiers,' animated by that evangelical spirit that makes of all the baptized a 'leavening' to ferment the dough and a 'light' to illuminate and warm the workplace and the home."
Vatican City, May 7, 2007 (CNA) - During his meeting with participants in the plenary assembly of the International Union of Female Superiors General, Pope Benedict XVI exhorted female religious to make their relationship with Christ a priority in their lives.
Speaking to the body that represents 794 families of female religious around the world, the Pope said, "Only from the union with God, does the 'prophetic' role of your mission arise and find nourishment," a mission "that consists in announcing the kingdom of heaven, so indispensable for all times and all societies."
Benedict XVI encouraged the religious not to give in "to the temptation to abandon your intimacy with your celestial Spouse, letting yourselves be excessively drawn by the interests and problems of daily life. The Founders of your institutes managed to become 'prophetic pioneers' in the Church because, ... following Jesus' example, they strove to communicate with concrete words and gestures the love of God through total giving of self, always maintaining their gaze and hearts fixed upon Him."
"May your primary concern be to help your consoeurs to seek ... Christ and to put themselves generously at the service of the Gospel. Do not lose heart and dedicate every possible effort to the human, cultural and spiritual formation of the people entrusted to your care, that they may be capable of responding to modern cultural and social challenges," he added. The Pontiff concluded by exhorting the religious to "cultivate a sincere communion and close collaboration with bishops, who are primarily responsible for evangelization in the particular Churches."
Abuja, Nigeria, May 7, 2007 (CNA) - The Pro-Life Action League has announced that they will protest today's Catholic Mercy Home event in Chicago for having invited Hillary Clinton despite concerns expressed by Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago.
"I'm sorry we have to picket this Mercy Home fundraiser," said Joseph M. Scheidler, National Director of the Chicago-based Pro- Life Action League. "But Hillary Clinton's appearance at their Graduates' Luncheon is just wrong! This is a well-known and much loved Catholic institution, while Senator Clinton is unabashedly hostile to the Catholic Church's teaching on the value of life."
"Hillary Clinton has a long and solid record of support for abortion," said Scheidler. In March she received the enthusiastic endorsement of the National Organization for Women, which sued Scheidler under the RICO statute in 1986, launching a twenty-one year federal court battle for him and the Pro-Life Action League. She blasted the U. S. Supreme Court for upholding the ban on partial birth abortion in their April 18 ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood.
"The Catholic bishops have stated clearly that Catholic institutions may not provide a platform for pro-abortion politicians," said Scheidler. "The young people who benefit from Mercy Home's ministry are the very same 'unwanted' children Clinton and NOW would consign to the abortion scrap heap. Presenting Clinton as a role model for the young graduates is a travesty."
The Leader Council of Mercy Home invited Hillary Clinton to address the guests at their annual Graduates' Luncheon today, without consulting Fr. Scott Donahue, director of Mercy Home. The League's Executive Director spoke with Fr. Donahue, who, though he opposes Clinton's appearance, said he could not rescind the invitation.
Vatican City, May 7, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, as his legate to the solemn opening celebrations marking the 90th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady at Fatima in Portugal.
The event is due to be held in Fatima on May 12 and 13, while the Pontiff will be in Brazil, to inaugurate the V General Conference of Latin American Bishops.
Newark, N.J., May 7, 2007 (CNA) - An opera, which tells the true story of 16 Carmelite nuns who were martyred during the French Revolution, will be performed at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark this month.
Dialogues of the Carmelites tells of the final days of the French Revolution, when the Committee of Public Safety was created to preserve the reforms of the revolution. Their aim was to eliminate all counter-revolutionary elements, including people dedicated to the faith.
This aim resulted in the Reign of Terror, a period characterized by a wave of executions. Sixteen Carmelites of the Monastery of the Incarnation in Compiègne were arrested on June 24, 1794, and thrown into prison. While singing hymns, they were guillotined in Paris one month later. Pope Pius X beatified these martyrs of the faith in 1906.
The three-act opera by Francis Poulenc will feature Metropolitan Opera Mezzo-Soprano Barbara Dever, along with the Cathedral Choir and Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John J. Miller and under the stage direction of Will Bryan. Dever has sung with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Plácido Domingo.
The performance coincides with the anniversary of the death of three saints who served in the Carmelite order: St. Mary Magdalene DePazzi, who died 400 years ago; St. Raphael Kalinowski, who died 100 years ago; and St. Edith Stein, who died 65 years ago.
The opera is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. It debuted in 1957 at La Scala Opera House in Milan.
Dialogues of the Carmelites will be performed at the Newark cathedral May 24 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for adults range in price from $20 to $40. Children’s tickets are $10. Group rates are available. For more information, go to: www.cathedralbasilica.org.
The performance was made possible in part by a grant from the Valparaiso Project.
London, England, May 7, 2007 (CNA) - British pro-lifers are warning against a potential surge in abortions, following the availability, starting last week, of a new DNA testing kit that determines the sex of a baby six weeks into pregnancy.
The Early Gender Test went on sale on the Internet to non-US customers this week. The test checks blood from the mother for Y-chromosomes, which indicate a boy.
LIFE spokeswoman Michaela Aston told The Sun that the test could lead to babies being aborted “simply for being the 'wrong' sex.” The Prolife Alliance Party has made the same comment.
The test is made by DNA Worldwide. It costs 190 pounds ($375 US). The “express” test costs 240 pounds ($475 US) and delivers clients their results within four working days.
Washington D.C., May 7, 2007 (CNA) - Leaders of Human Life International (HLI) have alerted pro-life organizations in Latin America of the activities of Dr. Anibal Faundes, a Brazilian physician who supports abortion and is traveling throughout the region to promote the legalization of abortion based on supposedly scientific arguments.
Faundes is professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Director of the Research Center of CEMICAMP in Sao Paolo, Director of the Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Rights at the Latin American Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, and representative of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
According to HLI, Faundes “is traveling throughout all of Latin America to promote the legalization of abortion, especially among gynecologists and obrestricians.” In fact, he was in Nicaragua earlier this year on March 22 as part of a tour through the region which began in Uruguay in 2003, where he promoted a new law that barely failed to be passed by the Uruguayan Senate in 2005.
In Montevideo, the pro-abortion doctor denied that so-called “emergency contraception” was abortifacient, claiming that the unborn show no sign of brain activity until after the first trimester.
Faundes also gave a conference to gynecologists and obstetricians in Venezuela in which he encouraged them to support the legalization of abortion, and in his native Brazil he participated in a congress that celebrated the properties of the abortifacient drug Misoprostol.
Recently the anti-Catholic organization “Catholics for a Free Choice” invited Faundes to Argentina to discuss the reform of the country’s penal code with regards to abortion and to appeal to celebrities to push the National Campaign for the Right to Legal Abortion.
According to HLI, Faundes is a favorite instrument of Planned Parenthood International, which not only finances many of his trips and conferences in the region, but also has awarded him the prize “Champion of Reproductive Rights.”
Madrid, Spain, May 7, 2007 (CNA) - The assistant director of the Life Foundation in Spain, Carlos Valdes, said this week the “private business” of abortion has turned Madrid into the Mecca of abortion, since in 2005 49% of women who underwent the procedure there were from other parts of Spain and other countries.
Abortion, he said, “is a growing private business in the Community of Madrid. In 2005, 98.3% of these feticides took place in private clinics, above last year’s figure of 97%.” He added that 49% of those who obtained abortion came from outside Madrid, “39.8% from other provinces and 9.2% from other countries.”
Valdes said that since 1998 the number of abortions has increased, which has meant that in 2005 there were 20,759 abortions, that is, 6.79% more than in 2004. He added that there has also been an increase of the use of tax-payers’ money. “In 2005 21.5% of abortions were funded by public funds up from 20% the previous year.”
Valdes also denounced health officials for paying extreme attention paid to abortion, while ignoring other important issues.
“Only in the administration of the Community of Madrid do we see a certain sensitivity, while the Ministry of Health is only concerned with increasing the number of abortions among the youngest women. It does not see that it is the logical consequence of the hedonistic spiral that it is constantly encouraging with repeated messages,” Valdes stated. “The public state administration does not offer solutions” he emphasized, and “it is incapable of reducing the number of abortions.”
Vatican City, May 7, 2007 (CNA) - On Saturday morning, Pope Benedict XVI met with participants of the meeting of the senior council of the Pontifical Missionary Works and the World Congress of Missionaries, Fidei Donum, and he recalled the importance of cooperation between “the 'ancient' Christian communities and those just born or taking their first steps.”
The Pope recalled that the aim of Pius XII in writing the Encyclical Fidei Donum, , “He wanted to encourage, alongside traditional forms, another kind of missionary cooperation between so-called 'ancient' Christian communities and those just born or taking their first steps in recently evangelized territories."
Likewise, he noted, Pope Pius' aim was, "on the one hand, to awaken a renewed missionary 'flame' in all Christian people and, on the other, to promote more conscious collaboration between dioceses of ancient tradition and regions of primary evangelization."
In considering the difficulties faced by the missions, Benedict XVI referred to the "diminution and aging of the clergy in dioceses that once used to send missionaries to distant lands. Within the context of a widespread vocational crisis, this clearly represents a challenge that has to be faced," he said.
The Pontiff went on to say that despite such problems, however, "we must look with trust to the future" because "all over the world signs of hope bear witness to the encouraging missionary vitality of Christian people. ... The Lord, before leaving His disciples for heaven, in sending them out to announce His Gospel in all corners of the earth, said: 'Remember I am with you always, to the end of the age'."
Kiev, Ukraine, May 7, 2007 (CNA) - The foundation stone of a new Roman Catholic church in Kiev, named Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was laid May 1.
"The building of this church is a sign of the new presence of God in this land, a sign that demonstrates that the Church is alive and is developing, because it has a need for places of worship,” said Bishop Stanislav Shyrokoradiuk of the Diocese of Kyiv-Zhytomyr during the Mass marking the occasion.
“At the same, it's a sign of the religious freedom that is gradually spreading in Ukraine," he added.
This is the second Roman Catholic church to be built in the capital of Ukraine, following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Currently, the only Roman Catholic church in Kiev is the cathedral. The Catholic population numbers four million, though it is estimated that only 5,000 attend Mass weekly.
Permits for new churches are difficult to obtain. The plans for four other churches have been awaiting a permit for years.