Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - Today, before more than a million faithfull gathered at the Campo de Marte in Sao Paulo, Pope Benedict canonized Brazil's first native-born saint before hundreds of thousands of flag-waving followers in the world's largest Roman Catholic nation. Pope Benedict made reminded the necessity for reconciliation with God and among men, calling for clean lives and clear souls.
The Pope urged the faithful to follow the example of the new saint, the 18th century Friar Antonio Galvao, in helping the poor and needy in a world he said was "so full of hedonism".
Catholics came from across Brazil and other Latin America countries for the open-air mass, many camping out overnight in chilly weather on the Campo de Marte military airfield on the edge of Sao Paulo.
Pope Benedict's canonization of Friar Galvao was an important part of his mission on this trip to revitalize the Church in Latin America, home to nearly half the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
Frei Galvao is considered a guardian of women in labor and the Vatican has attributed two miracles to him -- the curing of a 4-year-old girl who was believed to have an incurable disease and the survival of a mother and child in a high-risk birth.
"He was renowned as a counselor, he was a bringer of peace to souls and families, and a dispenser of charity especially toward the poor and the sick," the Pope said in his homily.
"The world needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds that refuse to be perceived as mere objects of pleasure," he said.
He also criticized the media business, saying: "It is necessary to oppose those elements of the media that ridicule the sanctity of marriage and virginity before marriage."
"Can men and women of this world find peace if they don't integrate into their conscience the necessity to reconcile with God, with the neighbor, and with their own self?" the Pope asked. "It is only united in communion with the Lord through the Eucharist and reconciled with God and our neighbour that we will be bearers of this peace the world cannot give," Pope Benedict added.
Police estimated the crowd numbered 1 million people but reporters said it looked to be smaller. However, Pope Benedict appeared to be winning some hearts and minds.
The Pope will meet Brazilian bishops in Sao Paulo's Se Cathedral later on Friday and then travel to the holy shrine city of Aparecida, where he will deliver the opening address to a conference of Latin American and Caribbean bishops.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - More than 40,000 Mexicans took to the streets this week in Guadalajara to protest attempts by the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) to legalize abortion in the state of Jalisco, in the wake of the recent legalization of the practice in Mexico City.
Members of more than 50 public and private institutions took part in the march, which ended with the signing of a ten-point declaration in defense of human life and the family. Fernando Guzman Perez Pelaez, a top official in the Jalisco state government, joined in the protest.
The declaration called for state and federal reforms that would recognize and protect human life, develop a comprehensive plan to foster human dignity and education for all, as well as to support those groups, political parties and institutions that support a culture of life.
A true mother would not harm her son
The archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardinal Juan Sandova Iniguez, in a message for Mother’s Day, warned that the legalization of abortion is a “huge mistake” that “in some way pushes mothers not to be mothers but rather killers of their own children.”
Konigstein, Germany, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - While in Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI will hand out four copies of Aid to the Church in Need Child's Bible, God speaks to His Children, bringing the total number distributed in Brazil to 10 million copies.
The Pope will hand out the Bibles to four children during his May 12 visit to Fazenda da Esperança, a rehabilitation centre for drug addicts. The children are sons and daughters of currently recovering drug addicts.
The Pope will be formally handed the Child's Bibles by Antonia Willemsen, the niece of ACN’s founder, Fr. Werenfried van Straaten, and current president of the German section of the charity.
The Child's Bible is used for catechetical work with children and in poor and remote chapel-based communities, and it has been distributed in Brazil in three different languages -- Portuguese, Guaraní and Tukano, the language of the Tukano Indians who live along the upper reaches of the Rio Negro.
Since 1979, the International Year of the Child, ACN has printed and distributed 45 million copies of the Child's Bible in 153 languages and in 138 different countries. The book includes a simplified version of key Bible texts, arranged in 99 short chapters.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - In statements to the Mexican daily “Cambio de Sonora,” a lawmaker from the Party of National Action (PAN) called on members of the Mexico City legislative assembly to reverse its decision to legalization abortion and to heed the words of Benedict XVI on the issue.
Representative Luis Fernando Rodriguez Ahumada said the Mexican people would welcome this gesture.
He noted as well that the issue of abortion has not been discussed in the Mexican Congress and that at the national level it would be treated completely different than in Mexico City, where opposition to the measure was crushed by the ruling party.
Rodriguez Ahumada stressed that the PAN platform does not support anti-life policies and that a national law in favor of abortion would not be as easily passed as in the Mexican capital.
Lisbon, Portugal, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - Hundreds of the faithful are heading to Fatima for the celebrations this Sunday of the 90th anniversary of the apparitions of Mary to three shepherd children on May 13, 1917.
The devotion to Our Lady of Fatima began on May 13, 1917, when Francisco and Jacinta Marto and their cousin Lucia saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary at Cova da Iria. Since then the site has been visited by over a million pilgrims each year.
The first secret foretold the early death of Jacinta and Francisco, and the second referred to the end of the World War I, the outbreak of World War II, the conversion of Russia and the end of Communism.
The third secret of Fatima referred to the attempt on the life of John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981.
More than 73 facilities will be operating to accommodate the thousands of pilgrims expected for this weekend’s celebrations, with more than 1500 volunteers providing food and drink to those attending.
San Salvador, El Salvador, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - The president of El Salvador, Elias Antonio Saca, reaffirmed his pro-life position this week and said he was moved by Pope Benedict XVI’s defense of human life during his visit to Brazil this week, and he called on the presidents of Latin America to think twice about receiving the Eucharist if they support abortion.
“I think the words of His Holiness Benedict XVI will truly moving,” Saca said in reference to the Pope’s discourse upon arriving in Brazil. During his remarks the Pope reiterated his opposition to abortion and euthanasia and encouraged bishops who will be participating in the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council to emphasize “respect for life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature.”
President Saca said the Pontiff “even told the presidents of Latin America: look, if you support abortion, you should be careful about receiving Communion on Sundays.’ The Pope was very firm.”
He added that his own position on the issue is “very clear.” “I oppose abortion because it is murder and we cannot agree with that,” he said.
President Saca reaffirmed his opposition to abortion in response to the recent decision to legalize the practice in Mexico City.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - On Thursday Pope Benedict XVI met with 12 representatives of different Christian confessions and of other religions at the Monastery of St. Benedict near Sao Paulo. During the meeting, which was attended by several Orthodox archbishops, evangelical pastors, and Rabbi Sobel of the Paulist Israeli Congregation, Sheik Armando Hussein Saleh of the Islamic community of Sao Paulo gave the Holy Father his white mantle as a sign of fraternity.
Afterwards Benedict XVI had lunch and a period of rest before meeting with young people at the Pacembu stadium Thursday evening.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - On Thursday morning Pope Benedict XVI met with the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, at the governor’s mansion of the state of Sao Paulo.
As the meeting was private, there were no official briefings on the substance of the discussions between the Holy Father and the Brazilian head of state. Brazilian officials said because the encounter was a courtesy call, “No official state pronouncements would be made afterwards.”
At the conclusion of the 15 minute meeting, Pope Benedict and President Lula and his wife posed for photos with international reporters.
Lula presented the Holy Father with a collection of three books on the paintings of Brazilian artist Cândido Portinari. The first lady presented the Pope with another work of art by Brazilian artist Roberto Camasmie, who painted a portrait of the Pontiff. In return the Pope gave each of them a pontifical medal.
During the photo-op, the Pope and President Lula greeted various officials, including the governor of the state of Sao Paulo, Jose Serra. The Pope gave each of them a blessed rosary.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - Dominus, a local Catholic band from Sao Paulo, opened the encounter between the Pope and young people on Thursday night at the stadium of Pacaembu. Young people from all over Brazil and from other countries, including Argentina, Mexico and Chile, filled the stadium to capacity to hear the Pope’s special message to them.
Tereza Aparecida, a consecrated member of the Paulists, said, “This encounter is very important because young people need the counsel of the Church. The Pope can help young people to understand their vocation.” Another young Brazilian, Alexandre Assims, said, “I have come to see the Pope up close, something that I probably never be able to do again. I imagine the sensation must be like when you receive Communion, when you remain in a state of grace.”
Carolina Maria, a young woman from Brasilia, encouraged other young people “to come and feel what it means to be Church, to embrace the faith and show Brazil and the world the beauty of being a young Christian.”
Quito, Ecuador, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador have called for the new Constitution to prohibit abortion, euthanasia and homosexual marriage, in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI’s call to “respect life” during his visit to Brazil.
In a statement the bishops’ conference proposed that the Constitutional Assembly incorporate clauses that prevent abortion and euthanasia.
According to the bishops, “The State and its laws should protect life from conception to natural death and should favor development and growth in health, security, education, and employment.”
Upon arrival in Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI called on the bishops attending the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Bishops’ Council in Aparecida to work for “the respect for life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature.”
, May 11, 2007 (CNA) - In an open letter, Cardinal Janis Pujats, primate of the Catholic Church in Latvia, has called on the Latvian government to protect traditional family values “against the libertinism of homosexuals”.
The cardinal has urged the Latvian government to stop what he calls “an action inspired from abroad, in which a handful of people with dubious morality tries to force the government to accept their perverted views,” reported Interfax.
The cardinal warned against an attempt to organize a gay pride parade on June 3. Such a parade, he said, would be “a real attack on the national morality, religion and family values.”
According to a recent poll, 62 percent of the population in Riga is against the march, 17.5 percent are in favor, and 20 percent could not respond. The cardinal said people would “not watch it in silence.”
“No international document on human rights views homosexuality as a sign of minority to be protected,” he stressed.
The cardinal also pointed to the need to hold a referendum in Latvia on same-sex marriages.
Washington D.C., May 11, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has urged the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to maintain continued funding levels for abstinence education for young people.
“Authentic abstinence education has provided a valuable alternative to programs that accept and facilitate premarital sexual activity,” said the cardinal in a letter this week to the committees, as they consider Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bills. The cardinal is the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities.
Cardinal Rigali said there are at least 500 abstinence programs serving thousands of young people throughout the country. “These programs form character and educate our youth about the decisions they face, empowering them to make healthy choices that do not jeopardize their health and future,” he stated.
Abstinence education currently receives federal funds through several distinct programs: the Adolescent Family Life Act, Title V of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, and the Community-Based Abstinence Education Program. By one estimate, for every $1 the federal government spends on abstinence education it spends $12 on “safe sex” and contraceptive programs.
“While programs incorporating the latter emphasis are sometimes called ‘comprehensive’ sex education, they are more accurately described as compromised education: the abstinence message is mentioned, but then undermined with the false message that premature sexual experimentation does no real harm if steps are taken to avoid pregnancy,” Cardinal Rigali wrote.
“Obviously, if that ‘comprehensive’ or internally divided approach becomes the norm for all such education, the result will not be to expand diversity and pluralism in this field but to eliminate it,” the cardinal said.
“Catholic schools and other organizations truly dedicated to the message of personal responsibility and abstinence before marriage will be unable to participate in government programs. America’s young people would be the real victims of this misguided approach,” he stated.
The cardinal’s letter is available at: www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/contraception/abstinencefunding.pdf
Los Angeles, Calif., May 11, 2007 (CNA) - Cardinal Roger Mahony ordained the first married priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles May 6. About 700 people attended the ordination of Fr. William Lowe at Blessed Junipero Serra Church in Camarillo, including his wife of 44 years, Linda.
Fr. Lowe was an Episcopalian minister in Massachusetts for almost 30 years before retiring and moving to Southern California. His ordination was made possible by a pastoral provision by Pope John Paul II that allows married Episcopalian priests to be ordained to the Catholic priesthood.
The 68-year-old priest grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist home but says he “somehow knew” at age 15 that he was called to become a priest. In early 2001, after retiring from the 100-family Episcopal Parish of the Messiah in Newton, Mass., he and his wife, began visiting various Catholic churches and were inspired by the life they found there.
At around Easter of that year, Linda, now 66, told her husband they needed to make the switch official. The couple has three grown children and five grandchildren.
Fr. Lowe’s preparation for the Catholic priesthood included reading 50 books in seven theological areas -- including ethics, church history and dogmatic theology -- a daylong psychological exam and an all-day oral exam.
“This is not a precedent that implies any diminishing of the value of celibacy in priestly ministry, but an instance in which the Church acts in an exceptional way to strengthen and ennoble the gifts brought by its newest members,” said Cardinal Mahony in a prepared statement released to the press.
“This practice is not so much an example of relaxing the discipline of priestly celibacy as it is an instance of an extraordinary act of compassion on the part of the Church in regard to someone whose whole life had been spent in both preparation for, and the exercise of, pastoral ministry,” said the cardinal’s statement.