Rome, Italy, Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - The Holy Father traveled to the Vatican from his summer house in Castelgandolfo this morning for his weekly General Audience, which he delivered to the 20,000 pilgrims gathered to listen.
Pope Benedict focused on how St. John Chrysostom set about to reform the Church immediately after being made the bishop of Constantinople in 397 and on how his reform encompassed all of society.
The saint did not exempt himself from this reform either. "The austerity of the episcopal palace had to be an example to everyone." In fact, thanks to his "concern for the poor," the saint "was also known as the 'Alms-giver' ... and he created a number of highly-regarded charitable institutions."
St. Chrysostom worked to bring life to families too. "As a true pastor, he treated everyone cordially. ... In particular, he always showed tender concern for women and particular interest in marriage and the family. He invited the faithful to participate in liturgical life, which his creative genius would make particularly splendid and attractive."
The bishop saint also worked for reform in the political and civic orders. The Holy Father noted that, “Because of his continuous dealings with the civil authorities and institutions, he often found himself involved in political questions and intrigues, ... and was condemned to exile" where he died in the year 407.
Speaking of how he intended to lead mankind back to God, Pope Benedict XVI said that saint wished “to lead the faithful back from the creation to the Creator”.
He taught that because God is the God of condescension and he sent fallen man a letter: Holy Scripture, man has been prepared for the sending of the Holy Spirit. The arrival of the Holy Spirit, according to St. John Chrysostom, makes possible the transformation of the world.
The Holy Father explained that St. John Chrysostom saw four phases. God Who is visible in His creation, God Who writes us a letter [the Scriptures], God Who descends towards us, and arrival of the vital and dynamic principle of the Holy Spirit, Who transforms the reality of the world. God comes into our lives ... and transforms us from within."
In his commentary to the Acts of the Apostles, St. John Chrysostom proposes "the model of the early Church as a model for society, creating a social 'utopia' ... and seeking to give a Christian soul and a Christian aspect to the city. In other words, Chrysostom understood that it was not enough to give alms, to help the poor one case at a time, rather that it was necessary to create a new structure, a new model for society ... based on the new Testament. According to Pope Benedict, it is for this reason that we may consider him as one of the great Fathers of the Church's social doctrine."
With St. Paul, St. John Chrysostom "supported the primacy of human beings, including slaves and the poor, said the Pope. This contrasted with the structure of the Greek 'polis' where "vast sectors of the population were excluded form the right to citizenship;" in the Christian city, on the other hand, "all are brothers and sisters with the same rights."
Rome, Italy, Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - The Catholic Church in Italy voiced outrage on Tuesday after a Sardinian court allowed the screening of embryos produced with assisted fertility techniques.
The national bishops' conference, supported by numerous Catholic politicians, said the ruling was in "clear contrast" with Italian law on assisted fertility and with a recent Constitutional Court ruling, reported ANSA.
The ruling by a judge in Cagliari upheld a mother's request that doctors should screen her in-vitro embryos for a hereditary blood disorder.
The woman, who was herself a carrier of the disease, only wanted embryos implanted if she knew there was no chance they would develop the disorder.
Most observers assumed this was illegal under a controversial law passed in 2004, which imposes tight restrictions on assisted fertility techniques. The law forbids the screening of embryos before they are implanted in a mother’s womb.
The Catholic Church's position is that embryos are fully-fledged human beings and cannot be discarded on the basis of alleged 'defects'.
The judges who approved the request for screening have not yet explained their decision.
Meanwhile, Catholics in the center-right opposition called on Justice Minister Clemente Mastella to send in inspectors to verify the ruling's validity.
"It is extremely serious that a court should bypass a law of the state," said Forza Italia Senator Maria Burani Procaccini. "The Cagliari judges have trampled on the prerogatives of parliament".
Pretoria, South Africa, Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - The former archbishop of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Pius Ncube, said he will remain a human rights advocate and that he has no intention of running for the country's presidency in next year's elections as rumored.
The archbishop was speaking during a Sept. 19-20 visit to the Denis Hurley Peace Institute in Pretoria, South Africa. The institute, which belongs to the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, invited him as a show of solidarity and support, reported the Catholic Information Service for Africa.
This was the archbishop’s first public address since his resignation Sept. 11. He resigned after he was sued for adultery in what is widely considered a smear campaign against him.
Archbishop Ncube said he would not leave Bulawayo but would intensify his commitment to bring an end to the Mugabe regime. He told his audience that his personal prayer life would remain the source of his strength in the face of his tribulations.
At the same time, Archbishop Ncube said he is convinced President Robert Mugabe, 83, will win the March 2008 elections by mass intimidation, the manipulation of food sources, and rigging.
The archbishop also said his life has been in danger for sometime and that he had received numerous warnings from friendly sources within the regime urging him to be very cautious about where he went.
Fr. Sean O'Leary of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute said the archbishop spent the first evening among friends and spoke freely of the situation in Zimbabwe and his personal problem. The following day, he visited St. John Vianney Seminary and spoke to three different groups of seminarians. In the afternoon he asked to do some shopping.
"The deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe was brought home to those with him on the shopping trip, when he chose to buy six large loaves of bread and 10 kilos of flour among other things to take home with him," Fr. O'Leary was quoted as saying.
Later, the archbishop addressed a number of leading South African businessmen at a gala dinner in his honor. He spoke about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe — the lack of food, the breakdown of health and education systems, and the increasing poverty.
He lamented the division in the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. He reportedly said efforts by the South African government to negotiate with Mugabe to end the crisis are useless, adding that President Thabo Mbeki and the Southern African Development Community are aligned with Mugabe.
Archbishop Ncube said he resigned for the sake of the church and the archdiocese. He said the government refused to help anyone who lives in the archdiocese as long as he was the head of it.
Sydney, Australia, Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - A priest stabbed at his mission on Sydney's north-west side last month says he has been praying for his attacker.
Fr. Ho Tran, 55, from the Divine Word Mission in Marsfield, was stabbed in the throat by an intruder when he investigated noises from a communal kitchen about 4:30 a.m. on August 10. The intruder - who has not yet been apprehended - fled.
Showing a love for his enemy, Fr. Tran said, “I need to pray for the one who attacked me. I feel when I pray for him in the future he can be better - everyone wants to live in harmony.”
The priest started preaching again at the mission two weeks ago.
He told The Sydney Morning Herald he was physically improving, despite a little pain in his right arm, and he continues to see a psychologist to cope with what happened.
He thanked his parishioners for their prayers.
Rome, Italy, Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - The postulator of the cause for beatification of Pope John Paul II has clarified that free prayer cards accompanied by a piece of the late Pope's cassock, are not part of a publicity stunt nor are they for sale, despite some media reports to the contrary.
Father Slawomir Oder, told Vatican Radio that the distribution of the holy cards was part of the process of beatification. He said the inclusion of a piece of the Holy Father’s cassock is a “completely normal part of the Church’s praxis.” Those who wish to do so can make a voluntary contribution to help with the expenses of creating the holy cards, he noted.
Asked if the pieces of cassock should be considered relics, Father Oder explained that normally relics are items that belonged to the saints, that is, to persons who have been beatified or canonized by the Church. “In this case,” he clarified, “we are still in the course of a process [for canonization], and thus these pieces of cloth are material elements, they are not properly speaking relics, because they are not something that belongs to someone recognized by the Church as a saint.”
Father Oder denied that the motive behind the prayer cards was to raise money, as some reporters have suggested. “This is far from our mentality and we regret that some reporters have used this opportunity,” he said.
“The main thing is to simply respond to a request by the people of God, who desire to have this memory, because it is a physical memory of the Holy Father, who has profoundly marked history and our hearts. It’s something very natural that the person who loves him, as one who loves dear person, wants to have a momento and this is meaning of the initiative,” Father Oder said.
More information about John Paul II’s beatification can be found at:
The prayer cards can be obtained by writing to: [email protected]
Aurora, Ill., Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - Two pro-life supporters in Aurora filed a lawsuit yesterday, alleging that Planned Parenthood Chicago Area President and CEO Steve Trombley has libeled them on several occasions in the past month.
Attorney Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society represents both Joe and Eric Scheidler and their pro-life groups in this complaint, reported The Aurora Beacon.
The suit referenced a letter Trombley wrote to all Aurora aldermen on Sept. 4, and several full-page newspaper ads Planned Parenthood took out to gain support for its new abortion facility in town.
The facility has received serious opposition in recent weeks since citizens discovered that the building, which had been deceptively presented as an office complex, was actually an abortion clinic.
Planned Parenthood used the subsidiary name Gemini Office Development to gain approval for its new building and to "protect the privacy and safety of vendors working on our project and our future clients," Trombley explained in the ads.
Trombley also laid out a case against Joe Scheidler, who was sued in the 1980s for allegedly orchestrating acts of violence against facilities where abortions were performed, and against doctors and clients at those facilities. That case, NOW vs. Scheidler, was in court for more than 20 years, and was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court three times.
Brejcha said that Trombley has accused his clients of orchestrating violent acts that were never proven in court. He said to accuse the Aurora protesters of violent intentions is ridiculous. Brejcha is reportedly seeking damages of at least $7.5 million.
This new suit is not the only one on this issue working its way through the court system.
Eric Scheidler and the two organizations he represents, the Pro-Life Action League and Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood, sued the city of Aurora last month, alleging that the city violated the First Amendment rights of pro-life protesters during their first weeks outside the new clinic. A status hearing is set for Oct. 23.
Another federal judge has denied Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area's request for an emergency injunction to allow the facility to open, reported the Beacon. The city is refusing to issue a final occupancy permit for the abortion clinic until an investigation into Planned Parenthood's approval process is complete.
San Francisco, Calif., Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - Organizers of San Francisco's Folsom Street Fair -- sponsored by Miller Brewing Co. -- have come up with a bizarre and offensive poster to promote the self-described “world’s largest leather event”. The poster depicts Christ and His disciples as leather clad homosexual sadomasochists and instead of sharing bread and wine they are shown with a table full of sex toys.
"A picture's worth a thousand words," said Matt Barber, Policy Director for Cultural Issues with Concerned Women for America (CWA). “As evidenced by this latest stunt, open ridicule of Christianity is unfortunately very common within much of the homosexual community.”
Barber also pointed out the hypocrisy of the "'Gay' activists [who] disingenuously call Christians 'haters' and 'homophobes' for honoring the Bible, but then lash out in this hateful manner toward the very people they accuse.”
In their version of The Last Supper, Christ, who gave His life for our sins, is despicably replaced by sin itself as the object of worship.
According to their press release, CWA is calling on California politicians -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sens. Feinstein and Boxer -- to "publicly condemn this unprovoked attack against Christ and His followers.
"We further challenge the media to cover this affront to Christianity with the same vigor as recent stories about cartoon depictions of Mohammed and other items offensive to the Muslim community," CWA said.
Concerned Women for America also points out that California taxpayers are forced to help pay for the event because the City of San Francisco shuts down several city blocks and provides police for security.
The Folsom Street Fair describes itself as "the world's largest leather event."
"We hope to see the fairgrounds filled with people in their most outrageous leather/rubber/fetish attire enjoying the worlds largest and best loved Leather fair," the event’s website says.
Paris, France, Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - Caroline Aigle would have turned 33 on September 12. The first female fighter pilot of the French military and future astronaut died of cancer on August 21. The country is still mourning her death and continues to be moved by her sacrifice: she was five months pregnant when she learned she had cancer and she chose to postpone her treatment so her baby could be born.
In mid-July Caroline received the devastating news. Rather than despairing, she faced the adversity and ignored doctors who advised her to have an abortion.
Together with her husband Christophe Deketelaere, who is also a pilot, she decided to give this new member of her family a chance to live. Her second son was born three and a half months premature at the beginning of August and doctors say he is progressing well.
In an interview Christophe said, “She could not stop the life she had carried for five months. She told me: ‘He has the right to have the same chances I had’.” Her husband said that her pregnancy was “her final battle and she won.” Before dying, she was able to see her son several times and hold him in her arms. “She was heroic to the end,” he said.
Caroline Aigle (which means “eagle”) was born in Montauban in 1974. At the age of 14 she entered the military school of Saint-Cyr. In May of 1999 she became a fighter pilot and flew a Mirage 2000-5.
Her funeral was celebrated by Father Pierre Demoures, a former fighter pilot himself. In his homily, he remembered Caroline as someone who led people to Christ with “her qualities, kindness, willingness, passion,” and he praised her for choosing to give life to her son, for whom she “postponed a treatment that was urgent.”
Father Demoures recalled that when Carolina and Christophe sought him out for marriage preparation, they asked him for a book that spoke not about the love of one for the other, “but rather about the love that opens us to love others.”
“The great lesson that Carolina gives us is the urgency to love. Not the urgency to fear, but the vital urgency to know that only love gives life. Man is made for life. This urgency can make love stronger and give life to a treasure amidst the most tragic events,” Father Demoures said.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - Little Marcela de Jesus Galante Ferrerira continues to surprise the world. She is now ten months old despite doctors’ predictions that she would die soon after being born. She suffers from anencephaly, a birth defect in which the brain does not develop.
Since her birth Marcela has become a symbol of the pro-life movement in a country that is debating allowing abortion in such cases.
Although babies with anencephaly tend to die shortly after birth and only in rare cases live beyond three months, Marcela has broken a world record with her ten months of life.
She now weighs 24.6 pounds, surpassing the average weight of her age group. Since April she has been at home with her parents in the city of Ribeirao Preto, 256 miles northeast of Sao Paulo.
According to her pediatrician, Dr. Marcia Beani, despite her birth defect, Marcela is very active, can recognize her mother and cries when she is not in her arms. She still is being fed with a tube, but occasionally she can take soup and soft foods.
She uses an oxygen mask to breath but she can breathe on her own for around two hours per day.
Baghdad, Iraq, Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - The Iraqi organization Christians in Need said this week that Christians in that country continue to suffer persecution. According to a report in the Italian news agency SIR, “More than 2,000 families have take refuge in one parish with only the clothes on their backs. Christians live in terror and are subject to intimidations. They don’t know what awaits them in the future.”
The news agency also reported that a Mass in the Chaldean rite was celebrated recently in London for the repose of Father Ragheed Ganni and three deacons killed June 3 in Iraq. The Mass was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Abouna of Baghdad.
The Chaldean community in London also includes faithful from Ireland, a country beloved by Father Ganni, who spent time there as a seminarian.
Konigstein, Germany, Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - The director of the Al-Liqa Center for Inter-Religious Research of Bethlehem, Dr. Geries S. Khoury, said this week Christians in the Middle East are “a solid bridge between the East and the West” as they share both Arabic and Western tradition.
Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need, Khoury explained that Christians in this region are familiar with the Arabic-Muslim environment in which they live. At the same time, the share with the West certain fundamental beliefs and they understand the Western mentality better than Muslims.
Khoury said he was concerned that the implementation of the UN resolutions in the Middle East would only lead to continued pressure and insecurity for Christians. Therefore, he asked the West “not to treat the Israelis and other countries differently.”
He said he believed the disappearance of Christians from the Middle East would make life more difficult for Muslims and for Western nations.
In speaking about Christians in the Holy Land, Khoury said he believed in the “unique mission and vocation” of those who live there, and in addition he is convinced that “amidst their problems, unhappiness and sufferings, Christians will continue in the future to bear witness to the message of Christ.”
“The Church in the Holy Land has never known peace since the time of Jesus,” he said. “Although it has been said many times that Christians will soon disappear there, there are still Christians in the Holy Land,” he added.
“The real problem in the Middle East is that we still don’t know each other well enough,” Khoury said. “The people are hostile to what seems foreign to them,” he explained.
Cheyenne, Wyo., Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - A former Carmelite hermit, Fr. Daniel Mary, who founded a monastic community in 2003, has the unusual problem of finding a larger home for the flourishing monastery. The possible solution for the community is one that reminds you that their home is in the Wild West.
The eight Carmelites who live in a four-bedroom home in the mountains are hoping to move to a much larger, 492-acre property once owned by Buffalo Bill, a Catholic who received the Last Rites before he died.
The new grounds would also house the 35 men in various stages of discernment.
The Window reports that while "Buffalo Bill's house is dilapidated, but the newer lodge on the property was meant to be a monastery," said Fr. Daniel Mary of Jesus Crucified, the forty-year old prior of the community.
The community was founded on October 15, 2003, the feast of St. Theresa of Avila when Fr. Daniel, who had been living as a Carmelite hermit in Minnesota, asked permission from his prior to start a monastic community.
He struggled with the loss of vocations of his fellow hermits, “young men simply could not adjust to the solitary life; they needed a community…”
Fr. Daniel was given permission to contact Bishop Ricken in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The bishop had previously stated that he was looking for Carmelites to live in his diocese.
Fr. Daniel told Deal Hudson that, "I think we are the only community of Carmelite Monks in the world that live a cloistered life." The eight brothers live in a "constitutional enclosure," which they can leave only for medical reasons. They do, however, foster relationships with their families, who can stay at the guesthouse.
Even though they do not interact with the public outside of the community, they do sell coffee. Their website www.carmelitemonks.org advertises their heavenly roast, “Mystic Monk Coffee.”
"Out here in Wyoming there's not much you can do. I have a brother, Michael Mary, who worked in coffee shops all his life and really has a lot of knowledge about coffee, so we just went for the gusto and tried it." They started selling coffee in June of this year, and sales are already brisk. "It was just meant to be, I guess," says Fr. Daniel.
The Carmelites aim to transform the world by prayer and penance. Their vision is three-fold. First, to strengthen cloistered monks, hermits and priests in the ministry of preaching, second, to have a retreat center for lay visitors, and finally, to have a Gothic Church nestled in the Rocky Mountains.
To send a donation or books for their monastery library, please write:
P.O. Box 2747
Cody, WY 82414-2747
San Francisco, Calif., Sep 26, 2007 (CNA) - St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco is hosting a conference that will address the effects of abortion on men by focusing on research, the trauma of those involved, and the counseling aspects of an abortion.
The conference which will be held November 28-29, is a unique opportunity for those in pastoral or clinical settings to learn about this relevant topic. Men who are potentially impacted include anybody who would have been close to the aborted child: boyfriends, husbands, uncles, siblings, grandfathers, etc. They are scarred because they are often cut out of the decision-making process and not given a voice because it is labeled as a “women’s issue.”
Titles for presentations include: Men and Abortion: A Review of the Research; Trauma and Abortion: When Men Hollow; Sociology of Fatherhood and Abortion; Spiritual Aspects of Healing for Post-Abortion Fathers; Wounded Fathers: Why Do They Come for Help and Forgiveness Therapy with Post- Abortion Men.
The National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing is the organizer of this conference. The organization offers consultation on the formation of post-abortion support services (including Project Rachel), provides training for care providers, and has a national referral line for those seeking assistance after an abortion. They also publish directories, produce printed, audio and video materials, and sponsor conferences on the aftermath of an abortion.
For more information, about the conference or about help for men suffering due to post- abortion trauma, please visit: http://www.menandabortion.info/