Archive of November 1, 2007

New Abbot at Saint Leo Abbey

St. Leo, Fla., Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - The Monastic Community of Saint Leo Abbey joyfully announces the election of Father Isaac Camacho, O.S.B. as their Sixth Abbot.

The Benedictine Monks of Saint Leo Abbey, Saint Leo, Florida, elected Father Isaac Camacho, O.S.B. as the Sixth Abbot of their Monastic Community on Saturday October 27, 2007.  The monks then gathered in the Abbey Church for a liturgical rite welcoming their new father in Christ. An Abbatial blessing will be held at a later date, but this ritual acknowledged the fact that, from the time of his acceptance of election, the new Abbot holds all of the rights and responsibilities of his office.

The election of Abbot Isaac brings to an end an eleven year absence of an Abbot at Saint Leo. During that period three administrators shared the leadership of the Abbey and its ministries, most recently the Very Rev. Robert Velten, O.S.B. of Saint Leo.

Abbot Isaac has been a Benedictine monk since 1988, having previously served at Tepeyac Abbey, Mexico. He was ordained to the priesthood at Saint Leo Abbey, December 22, 2001. Most recently he has served as parochial vicar at St. Mark’s Catholic Church, North Tampa, Florida. He was born in Mexico City, Mex., where his family still resides.

The Community wishes to thank all the friends of the Abbey for their prayers and good wishes.

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High school ministry in action: “God blessed me in one of the most beautiful ways”

Denver, Colo., Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - On a recent retreat, the Bishop Machebeuf High School junior boys were granted a deep encounter with Christ. The retreat was held at Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church in Conifer. The parish generously let the juniors have unhindered use of its facilities for the weekend, which they were able to take full advantage of. 

The retreat was held for male juniors only – the female students had their own retreat – a strategy which was experimented with last year with great success.  Brother Paul, the retreat leader and campus minister at Machebeuf, explained that splitting up the junior class allowed for a much greater focus on what it means to be a man or woman of God.  Both men and women have their own roles in the family, the most intimate setting of God's love.  This theme was stressed at both events and the participants were able to embrace it completely.  Br. Paul therefore referred to the boys’ event as a “conference”, since men especially are sometimes not fond of “retreating”.

The first morning of the conference, a Sunday, began with Mass offered by Father Christopher Hellstrom at Bishop Machebeuf High School. The one-and-a-half hour bus ride from Machebeuf to Conifer gave way to a one-hour hike in Pine Valley State Park, about twenty minutes from Our Lady of the Pines.  There, the junior boys were able to expend some energy, take in the beautiful scenery, and reflect on how God's plan for each of their lives was so much greater than what they could imagine. 

After hearing a couple of talks back at the parish on how important it is to lay a firm foundation of faith on Christ's love and to be a solid Catholic foundation in the family, Adoration before the Eucharist was held, a powerful experience for the boys – and the highlight of the conference for many of them.
“God blessed me in one of the most beautiful ways” said Junior Alex Gomez.  “I saw other guys crying on their knees in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and I just started laughing uncontrollably.  I was so filled with joy and happiness.  I've never been so happy in my life.”

The next morning, after praise and worship and another talk, a number of the boys volunteered to share their experiences of the past night. A comment by one of the juniors summarizes it well:

“I came into the conference expecting a boring experience, but when I saw people around me being so devoted and serious at Adoration, so focused on the Eucharist, I was touched” said Sean Moriarty.  “I'm very thankful to everyone for showing that respect and showing me how important [Jesus in the Eucharist] is.”

Connor Smith is a Senior at Bishop Machebeuf High School.

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Draft of English translation of Missal completed

Leeds, United Kingdom, Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is releasing the draft of the English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal to bishops in English-speaking countries today.

Known as a "Green Book" for the color of its cover, the draft translates the Latin version of the Missal that was published in 2002.  The Missal is the official book used by priests to celebrate the Mass.

In a letter announcing the release, Bishop of Leeds Arthur Roche, chairman of the ICEL commission, mentioned that he had solicited comments from bishops of the various bishops' conferences, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and their advisers.

Emphasizing the importance of the consultation process, Bishop Roche expressed gratitude towards those who had commented:  "A wide range of issues, both theological and linguistic, have been brought to the attention of the Commission, who in response have sought to shape texts that will meet the needs of the worldwide English-speaking Catholic community," he said.

ICEL's eleven member conferences include Australia, Canada, England and Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland, South Africa and the United States of America.
Bishop Roche said the introduction of the new translation will be an opportunity for renewed catechesis.

The final version of the Missal is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.

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Norwegians prepare for World Youth Day on-line

Oslo, Norway, Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - The many preparations necessary for World Youth Day 2008 are causing some organizers to utilize the internet to reach the youth.  Father Reider Voith, head of the youth pastoral office of the diocese of Oslo, explained Norway Catholics' internet efforts in an interview with Servizio Informazione Religiosa (SIR).

The Diocese of Norway posts "e-pilgrimage" newsletters on World Youth Day, commentaries on the Gospel, religious reflections, and forums.  Father Voith described them as aids that strengthen Norwegian Catholics' common identity.  They encourage youth to reflect on their beliefs and the reasons for belief.

Norwegian Catholics suffer from a 'spiritual solitude' in their country, Father Voith claimed.  While being clear that Catholics do not suffer prejudice, he spoke of another source of suffering.  "We are the victims of the religious indifference of those who surround us. Secularism is very strong in Norway," he said.

Father Voith explained the necessity for preparing the youth online in his country:  "Preparation for World Youth Day is being conducted through Internet due to the difficulties we have in actually meeting youth, due to various reasons - study, work or geographical distances. We're a minority and our youth are scattered over a huge territory."

Catholics only make up 2.5 percent of the Norwegian population.

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Abortion legalization in Mexico City motivates pro-life activists

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - The six months of legalized abortion in the nation's capital of Mexico City have triggered significant Mexican pro-life efforts to oppose abortion and to help pregnant women.

Only six of the fourteen hospitals of Mexico City regularly perform abortions.  Three other hospitals have performed only a few abortions because of resistance from doctors and nurses.  Medical personnel at five other hospitals have refused to perform any abortions at all.

Jorge Serrano Limón, leader of the pro-life movement in Mexico, says the movement is engaged in "hand to hand combat" at the entrances of hospitals that do perform abortions. 

The volunteers from Centro de Ayuda de la Mujer, translated as the Women’s Help Center, engage in the struggle for life by offering help to women considering an abortion.  The center provides access to ultrasounds, specialized pre-natal medical services, and shelter during pregnancy.  The center also supplies economic assistance and job training alongside counseling and psychological support.

The Women's Help Center organization is only twelve years old, but already has forty centers across Mexico.  Since its founding, the organization has rescued over 15,000 babies from being aborted.  

The organization has established "mobile help centers" in Mexico City to support their counseling efforts and to reach more women in need.  The Women's Help Center is appealing for donations of money and medical equipment, such as ultrasounds.

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Archbishop to publish history of missionaries and interreligious cooperation in India

Hyderabad, India, Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - An archbishop in southern India hopes to inspire young Catholics with a book on the history of Christian missions and missionaries in his area.

Archbishop Marampudi Joji of Hyderabad also plans to highlight the history of inter-religious cooperation in India.  His two-volume book, written with the help of regional and international scholars, will be titled “The Land Inherited: A Story of Hyderabad Mission.”  Andhra Pradesh, of which Hyderabad is the state capital, has seen European missionary work since the sixteenth century.  Its 13 dioceses have a population of about one million Catholics. 

The archbishop hopes the history will inspire young Catholics to follow missionaries' heroic example to work for truth, justice, equality and harmony.

"We want to give future generations a document" that will inspire them to build "God's kingdom with a holistic approach," the archbishop told UCA News.

Though the project will acknowledge the contribution of European missionaries, Archbishop Joji also wants to dispel a widespread belief that it was "only the British who invited and supported Christian missioners" in India.

Archbishop Joji reports that Hindu and Muslim rulers in India welcomed missionaries before the arrival of the British.  They provided hospitality to the foreigners and listened to their preaching.  Not only did they allow the preaching of Christianity, but they ensured missionaries' safety and gave them land for missions and schools.

The archbishop mentioned the inter-religious example of the Nizam sovereigns who ruled Hyderabad from the eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries.  Though devout Muslims, they nevertheless supported both Christian church-building and Hindu temple-building.  Their relations with missionaries were so cordial some missionaries even acted as advisors to the rulers.

“The Land Inherited” is scheduled to be published sometime in 2008.

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“To be holy is the task of every Christian, of every man,” says Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - Marking today’s Feast of All Saints, Pope Benedict XVI said that striving after holiness is not the calling for a select few, but rather the task for all Christians and all men.

The Holy Father recalled that in the early days of Christianity "Church members were called 'saints'," and that Christians are made holy by Baptism because “it binds him to Jesus and His Paschal mystery, but at the same time he must also come to become conformed to Him more closely."

"It was sometimes thought said the Pope- that sanctity is a privilege reserved for a select few. In fact, becoming holy is the task of every Christian, every man!"

Referring to St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians the pontiff said, “[a]ll human beings are therefore called to holiness, which is ultimately to live as children of God…All human beings are children of God, and all must become what we are by way of demanding freedom [from sin].”

Pope Benedict noted that "in her wisdom, the Church has placed in close succession the feast of All Saints and the Commemoration of all the faithful departed (All Souls Day). “Our prayer of praise to God and veneration of the saints is joined with the prayers of the many who have gone before us in the passing from this world to life eternal,” the Pope said.

Finally, the Pope recalled that "at the center of the assembly of saints, the Virgin Mary shines, 'humble and higher than every creature'. Placing our hand in hers, we are encouraged to walk more strongly on the path of holiness.”


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Pope to meet with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia next week

Rome, Italy, Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict will meet with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah next Tuesday for the first time in history, Reuters reports. The talks are expected to center on the freedom of Christians in the Middle Eastern country and dialogue between Muslims and Christians. 

Currently there are no formal diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Saudi Arabia and according to a strict interpretation of Islam it is illegal for the monarchy to establish diplomatic relations with a Christian entity.

This interpretation would prohibit a Vatican embassy in Saudi Arabia on the grounds it would be equivalent to raising the cross inside the site of Islam's holiest places.

The Vatican has repeatedly stressed that Christians and non-Christians should receive equal treatment as Muslims and be allowed to practice their faith in public.

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Morning-after pill is no cure and kills a human being, Italian expert says

Rome, Italy, Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - The president of the Catholic Union of Italian Pharmacists, Pietro Uroda, explained that the morning after pill is “a sort of hormonal bomb” that “cures nothing.”  “It is a pharmaceutical product that is for killing an eventual embryo” that is already a human being.

Uroda made his comments in the wake of statements by Pope Benedict XVI defending the right to conscientious objection of pharmacists who refuse to sell the morning after pill.  Uroda said he himself is a conscientious objector and that he “has never sold the abortion pill.”

“Our code says that we are at the service of life,” he went on. “We do not believe this product is a drug, because it cures nothing.   It is a pharmaceutical product that is for killing an eventual embryo.  If it does not kill, it can cause other harm,” Uroda said.

“While there is no law that protects conscientious objection, there are laws and rulings that combined, address the situations in which this right is exercised,” he added.

“For example, according to article 54 of the Italian penal code, if someone violates the law in order to save another person he is exempt from punishment; if it is for a greater good. Therefore, in order to save the embryo we reject selling the morning after pill”, he said.

“We don’t want to accept putting anyone to death,” Uroda said.  “If the embryo—as it is already scientifically proven—is a human life, we think it should be helped and defended.”

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Byelorussians commemorate 70th anniversary of holocaust ordered by Stalin

Minsk, Belarus, Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - Byelorussians are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the holocaust ordered by Stalin at the Gulag (the Russian concentration camps), which took the lives of 800,000 Catholics, many of whom were martyrs.

Between August of 1937 and December of 1938, some 10,000 people were killed in Byelorussia. On the night of October 29 of that same year more than 100 people were killed by the NKVD, the secret service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In order to commemorate these dates, Greek Catholics in the country organized a pilgrimage on July 15 to the town of Polatsk.  On that occasion, the apostolic visitator of the Greek Catholic Church of Byelorussia, Archimandrite Sergius Gajek, said of the victims of the genocide, “We desire to pray for eternal rest for their souls and for us the grace to be courageous witnesses of the Risen Christ in Byelorussia.”

Likewise, last August 26 the Apostolic Administrator of Minsk, Archbishop Anton Dziemianka offered a Mass for the repose of the souls of the victims.  On October 28 Protestant churches in the country held a Day of Repentance for the crimes of Communism, with many Catholics and Orthodox participating as well.

In addition, some Greek Catholic priests celebrated a Mass on October 29 in
Kurapaty, Minsk, where more than 50,000 people murdered in the Gulag are buried.  Hundreds also participated in a pilgrimage through the streets of the city.  The commemorations are expected to continue throughout the next several days.

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Italian dioceses exchanges Halloween for vigil invoking Holy Spirit

Rome, Italy, Nov 1, 2007 (CNA) - Catholics in the Italian Diocese of Prato are convinced that it is not proper for Christians to celebrate Halloween and that the night could be an occasion for Satanic acts. Therefore they met at a local church for Eucharistic adoration instead.

According to the organizers, it was more than an “alternative” to Halloween, as those present invoked “the only spirit that does not inspire fear or terror but rather love: the Holy Spirit.

The New Horizons Community and the Agape Community organized the vigil, which was open to anyone “who wishes to spend a minute in prayer.”  One group of people stayed in prayer all night.

Two priests also offered the Sacrament of Reconciliation during the entire vigil, which concluded the following morning with All Saints’ Day Mass.

Organizers said the event was intended to respond to Halloween, which “poses serious problems from a social and educational, as well as religious, point of view.”

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