Archive of March 31, 2008

Summorum Pontificum bringing back many separated bretheren, says Vatican cardinal

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, explained that Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum,” which liberalized the use of the Tridentine Mass, is not a return to the past and has brought many separated brethren back into full communion with the Church.

During the interview, Cardinal Castrillon explained that the Pope’s letter, which renewed the possibility of celebrating the Mass according to the ancient rite, has led many Catholics to request to be received back into communion with the Church.

“In Spain,” he said, “the Oasis of Jesus the Priest, an entire cloistered monastery of 30 nuns led by their founder, has been recognized and regularized by the Pontifical Commission.”

“On the other hand there are American, German and French groups, and other members of the laity, who contact us, write us and call in search of reconciliation.  And there are many faithful who express their gratitude to the Pope for issuing the Motu Proprio,” the cardinal said.

“There is one thing that needs to be stressed,” he continued.  “This is not a return to the past, but rather progress, because now there are two treasures instead of just one.  And this way the other treasure is available, thus respecting the right of those who are particularly attached to the ancient liturgy.”

The Colombian cardinal noted that there have been some practical problems in implementing the directive, but the Ecclesia Dei Commission is planning to provide more help to “seminaries, dioceses and bishops’ conferences” to eliminate the difficulties. 

“In addition,” he went on, “it is important that there are already priests who use the extraordinary form and make themselves available to celebrate or explain the Mass according to the 1962 missal.”

Cardinal Castrillon stressed that “the Pope has been clear” that it is “an error” to assert that the use of the Latin language is only for the ancient rite, as it is foreseen in the Missal of Paul VI.”  He also reiterated that the Motu Proprio grants any priest the rite to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass and that the faithful have the right to this form “when the conditions specified in the Motu Proprio exist.”

“The Pope is offering the Church a treasure that is spiritual, cultural, religious and catholic,” he continued, noting that the Commission has received letters of support from Orthodox, Anglican and even Protestant ministers.  Cardinal Castrillon also said priests and faithful of the Society of St. Pius X have sought to regularize their status with the Church in the wake of the Motu Proprio.  He pointed out that the members of the SSPX are not separated from the Church.  “The excommunication applied only to the four bishops” who were ordained by Archbishop Lefebrve.
Mass celebrated by priests of the Society is “undoubtedly valid, but not licit.  Therefore, attendance at these Mass is not advised, unless there is no other possibility on Sundays,” he said.

Cardinal Castrillon offered his own personal reflection on the new directive.  “I very much like the novus ordo which I celebrate daily.  I have never celebrated the Mass according to the 1962 Missal after the liturgical reform.  Now, in joining in the extraordinary rite on a few occasions, I have rediscovered the richness of the ancient liturgy which the Pope wants to keep alive,” he said.

“We should never forget that the supreme point of reference in the liturgy, as in life, is always Christ,” Cardinal Castrillon added.  “We are not afraid, therefore, in the liturgical rite as well, of turning to Him, towards the Crucified one, together with the faithful, in order to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, in an unbloody way, as the Council of Trent defined the Mass,” he said.

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CNA introduces "Nothing Left Unsaid"

Philadelphia, Pa., Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - Catholic News Agency is pleased to announce that it has added Hugh McNichol, as a featured daily columnist.  McNichol’s column, “Nothing Left Unsaid,” addresses a variety of current events that impact the American Catholic culture.  Here is how McNichol describes his column, and why he calls it, “Nothing Left Unsaid.”

“Nothing Left Unsaid” offers insights for CNA readers on topics of interest for modern American Catholics that constitute a forceful presence in our United States. There are many events scheduled to take place in our country where the faithful Catholic people will play a pivotal role for United States society. Naturally, in April we welcome our Catholic spiritual leader, Pope Benedict XVI to our country. His visit initiates for the Church a new period of restored Catholic identity that calls us as Americans to develop a deeper appreciation of both our Catholic faith and our integration into the shifting global demographics as both Americans and Catholics. With continued efforts, Benedict XVI is positioning the Catholic Church into a new age of religious and diplomatic participation with other countries and religious faiths. We need to critically understand our faith, our Pope and our world’s cultures as we spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ into future. Hopefully, this column will offer insights on our shared Catholic faith that permit all of us to share in the catechesis and evangelization efforts of the Church in our own backyards and throughout the world.

Current events in our country and throughout the world call all Catholics to become more aware of a larger dimension to our Catholic faith that we share with peoples all over the world. Hopefully, by writing this column about Catholic events, global events, papal travels and even engaging in some Catholic musings on my own parochial education and upbringing, we can know even more clearly Jesus’ message to all of us through the liturgical, sacramental, social and political interactions of the Church in the modern world. That is really my goal in writing this column, and I hope everyone joins me as we explore the dynamic aspects of our Catholic faith in this world, with Jesus’ teachings and sacraments as our common foundation.  I especially would like all of the readers of Catholic News Agency to feel free to comment and respond on anything written in this column. After all, we are all writing and teaching about our shared Catholic religious experiences. Feel free to send me an email anytime at [email protected]

Finally, thank you for reading the column. I hope that the great Catholic education inspired by the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Philadelphia) and the Norbertine Fathers of Daylesford Abbey will make this column one you look forward to reading every day. Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!

You can access McNichol's column through the link on the left-hand side of this web page or by clicking here.

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Encourage passion for evangelization, Pope tells Salesians

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - This morning at the Vatican, the Holy Father received participants in the 26th General Chapter of the Salesians and called on them to continue to encourage passion for evangelization. Pope Benedict also emphasized the need to combat secularization by giving support and solid formation to families.

As the Pope spoke with the Salesian representatives, he described the cultural context of their meeting as “a period of great social, economic and political changes", of "more intense communication among peoples", and of "lively debate on the spiritual values that give meaning to existence".

Young people especially, said Benedict XVI, appeal to the Church with “their questions on fundamental problems,” these appeals “indicate the intense desire they nourish for full life, authentic love and constructive freedom. These are situations which cry out to the very heart of the Church and her capacity to announce Christ's Gospel today".

Reflecting on evangelization led the Holy Father to bring up the theme of the General Chapter, "Da mihi animas, cetera tolle". This theme should lead to the reawakening of apostolic passion “in each individual Salesian and in the entire congregation,” the Pontiff said.  “This will help better to define the profile of Salesians, that they may become more aware of their identity as people consecrated 'for the glory of God'" and "of their pastoral commitment 'to the salvation of souls,'” the Pope added.

"Don Bosco", the Holy Father added, "wished the continuity of his charism in the Church to be guaranteed by the choice of consecrated life. Today too the Salesian movement can grow in charismatic faithfulness only if it continues to maintain a strong and vibrant nucleus of consecrated people".

"The entire congregation must constantly strive to be 'a living memorial of Jesus' way of living and acting as the Incarnate Word in relation to the Father and in relation to the brethren'. ... May Christ be the focus of your lives! ... It is here that ardent love for the Lord Jesus is born, the aspiration to become one with Him, adopting His feelings and way of life: faithful abandonment to the Father and dedication to the evangelizing mission which must characterize all Salesians".

Benedict XVI then went on to consider "the process of secularization which is gaining ground in modern culture" and which "unfortunately does not even spare communities of consecrated life.

Defending the Salesian community from these influences can best be done by making prayer with Scripture (lectio divina) and the liturgy the sources of Salesian spirituality, the Holy Father said.

The Salesians were also encouraged by the Pope "to form lay people with apostolic hearts, inviting everyone to proceed in that sanctity of life which creates courageous disciples and true apostles".

Since the Salesians have been involved in education since their founding, Pope Benedict also spoke about the “great educational emergency", in society today.

According to the Pope, "the most serious aspect of the emergency is the sense of discouragement afflicting many educators, in particular parents and teachers, in the face of the difficulties of their role today". At the heart of the crisis, the Pontiff said, “is a crisis of trust in life which, in the final analysis, is a lack of trust in God Who called us to life.”

"In the education of the young it is extremely important that the family should play an active role", the Pope added. "So often it is either unable to make its specific contribution, or it is absent. The predilection for and commitment to young people, so characteristic of Don Bosco's charism, must be translated into a like commitment to the involvement and formation of families. ... To care for families is not to subtract force from efforts on behalf of the young, rather it makes those efforts more lasting and effective. I encourage you, then, to study ways to implement this commitment. ... This will be an advantage in the education and evangelization of the young".

The Holy Father concluded by underlining the need for "solid formation" for all members of the congregation, "not resting content with mediocre results, overcoming the difficulties of vocational fragility, favoring strong spiritual accompaniment and guaranteeing, through permanent formation, educational and pastoral excellence".

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Vatican: Muslims now outnumber Catholics

Vatican City, Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world's largest religion, L’Osservatore Romano reported on Sunday.

"For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us," Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican daily.

According to the most recent figures from the Vatican yearbook of statistics, the number of the world's population that are Muslims is 19.2%, with the number of Catholics trailing behind at 17.4 %. 

"It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer,” Msgr. Formenti said.

These latest results come from 2006 and are not all Vatican tabulated. The figures on Muslims were put together by Muslim countries and then provided to the United Nations, he said, adding that the Vatican could only guarantee its own data.

When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.

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One-armed soccer player gives Paraguayans a lesson in faith

Asunción, Paraguay, Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - Four months ago Julio Gonzalez surprised all of Paraguay when he returned to the soccer field after having one of his arms amputated.  Since returning, he says that he was able to overcome all of his obstacles because of his faith in God.

In December of 2005, Gonzalez, a 24 year-old player on an Italian soccer team, was asked to play on the Paraguayan national team for the 2006 World Cup.  However, while he was on his way to the airport in Venice to catch a flight back to Asuncion for the Christmas holidays, he was in a serious car accident and ended up losing his left arm.

“God blessed me with soccer, a family, healthy kids, he allowed me to go to Italy, and to play in most important soccer league in Italy and all that time I never asked him why.  When I was in the hospital I said to myself, “Why do I have to ask God why?  I should accept what is happening to me and take everything in the most positive way possible,” he said in an interview with the Peruvian daily “El Comercio.”

“The accident changed my mentality.  Now I love life more than ever, I learned that it’s not worth it to fight for material things, like I did before.  What matters to me now are my kids, my health, the simple and essential things,” he said.

Just a year ago Gonzalez was not able to move what remained of his amputated left arm. “I had an operation, however, and I am getting better.  Now I can take care of myself, I can get dressed, I can eat, I can drive my car,” he added.

On November 16 of last year he made his official return to soccer in Paraguay.

“Everybody was on their feet applauding,” he recalled.  “It was wonderful, something you don’t see everyday.  I easily cry, and I cried when I was in the tunnel and when I came out on the field.  Still today I don’t have the words to describe that emotion,” Gonzalez said.

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Diocese of Orlando pioneers Festival of Faith

Orlando, Fla., Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - The Diocese of Orlando, Florida will host its first-ever Festival of Faith on May 8-10.  Venturing into the digital world, Orlando Bishop Thomas Wenski filmed a YouTube video urging Catholics to take part in the “vibrant and multi-cultural event designed to inspire, enlighten and energize all members of Christ’s faithful.”

The diocese is expecting thousands of Catholics to participate in the “historic event” that “will be a celebration of the Diocese of Orlando’s 40th anniversary in our proclaimed ‘Year of Evangelization.’”

Bishop Wenski describes the festival as having “Majestic liturgies, mesmerizing music, energizing speakers, a dynamic youth program, exciting exhibits about our Catholic faith and faith-enriching activities”.

The Festival of Faith will take place on May 8-10, 2008 at the Orange County Convention Center.

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Christian hope does not involve resignation, bishop reminds Venezuelans

Caracas, Venezuela, Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Mario Moronta Rodriguez of San Cristobal in Venezuela said last week, “Thanks to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, we have been born again” to a new hope that is not “the fatalistic resignation of someone who hopes someone or something will solve his problems” but rather “points towards fullness.”

This new life, he said, is the salvation that “transforms us into new men and women” and which St. Paul described as a way.  “With baptism we are incorporated into the death and resurrection of Jesus and thus we begin to journey in the newness of life” that “radically changes our existence by converting us into children of God the Father and disciples of Jesus.”
Responding to the question of why we are born again in the Lord, Bishop Moronta said that St. Peter “gives us a clear and direct answer: for a living hope” that is “redundant, as all true hope will always be living.” 
Hope “does not consist in conforming oneself or in the fatalistic resignation of someone who hopes someone or something will solve his problems” but rather “points towards fullness,” he said.

Likewise, Bishop Moronta pointed out that hope is living because “it is born of the Lord himself who has given us the resurrection and life” and who keeps us on the “road to fullness,” and it “allows us to show that we are called to an encounter with God in this earthly existence as well as in the definitive life in heaven.” 

Thus as disciples of Jesus and people of hope, he went on, believers have the responsibility to “reach out to others and make them disciples.

“This is a good time to reaffirm that Catholics in Venezuela and the rest of the world believe in the God of the resurrection.  Therefore, we do not only feel like we are a new creation, we act and journey in a living hope,” the bishop said.

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Deal Hudson gets Rev. John Hagee’s real opinion of Catholicism

, Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - Reverend John Hagee has been in the news over the last month for his endorsement of presidential candidate John McCain and alleged anti-Catholic comments. In an effort to get to the bottom of the controversy, Catholic political analyst Deal Hudson has interviewed Rev. Hagee about claims that he is anti-Catholic.

On March 13, following allegations of anti-Catholicism, Hagee released a statement denying the accusations. In his rebuttal he said that his teachings had been “grossly mischaracterized” and that “I am not now, nor have I ever been anti-Catholic”.

This past Friday, Catholic political analyst Deal Hudson, met with Rev. John Hagee for three hours to discover what his views on Catholicism really are.

The interview with Hagee, called "A Meeting with Rev. John Hagee" will be published at on Tuesday morning.

During the interview, Hagee speaks freely about his interpretation of the "Great Whore" from the Book of Revelation and also comments on anti-Semitism in the Catholic Church.

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Spanish bishop hopes abortion will be eliminated from law

Madrid, Spain, Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Juan Jose Asenjo Pelegrina has called for abortion to be eliminated “from all of our laws” because “human life has a sacred value that we all must recognize, respect and promote because it is a gift from God.”

In a reflection written for Pro-Life Day in Spain observed on March 31, Bishop Asenjo noted that there are many threats to human life, especially from abortion, which is “the voluntary and willful elimination of a human being at the request of his or her progenitors.”

This situation is part of the tragedy of the acceptance of abortion “without blinking by a group of our fellow citizens in the name of progress and women’s liberation,” he stressed, noting that its legality cannot be used as an excuse, “because not everything that is legal is moral.”

After warning that recent statistics show that social acceptance of euthanasia is spreading throughout Spain, Bishop Asenjo stressed the need to defend life “from its beginnings in fertilization until its natural end.”

Catholics, he said, need to be more sensitive to this issue and must make their fellow citizens aware of the importance of proclaiming the Gospel of Life.   “I support and encourage all institutions, whether they are religious or not, to promote initiatives in favor of life and that help mothers in difficult circumstances to generously accept the fruit of their wombs.”

“I urge priests, catechists, religion teachers and leaders of apostolic groups and movements to be a part of this day and to remind everyone that the right to life is the first fundamental right,” Bishop Asenjo said.

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Rev. Jeremiah Wright delivers blessing at Chicago Catholic church

Chicago, Ill., Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - Senator Barack Obama’s controversial former spiritual adviser, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, made a surprise appearance at a Catholic church on the South Side of Chicago on Friday night.  During the visit, the pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church praised Wright and asked him to deliver a blessing for the church’s lecture series, CBS2 Chicago reports. 

Wright, who was Senator Obama’s mentor for twenty years, became the center of controversy after clips of his sermons condemning America were posted on the internet. 

Senator Obama, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency, has distanced himself from Wright’s remarks.  Wright’s visit to St. Sabina’s was reportedly his first public appearance since the controversy over his remarks began.

According to CBS2 newscaster Diann Burns, the crowd at St. Sabina parish, though surprised by Wright’s appearance, was “quick to show their support.”

The church’s pastor, Father Michael Pfleger, publicly welcomed Wright to the event.  “We love you.  We praise God for you,” the priest said to Wright.  In later interviews with the press, the priest defended Wright from criticism.

Father Pfleger had invited Wright to the church’s African-American Speaker Series, which featured writer and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou. 

Father Pfleger explained to CBS2 the reason for Wright’s invitation. 

“I wanted him to come tonight as a guest because he loves Dr. Angelou, and I wanted him to see the love of people for him,” he said.  “And so when I asked him about coming, he said he’d be honored to come.  And it was a blessing for us to have him here.”

According to CBS2, Reverend Wright did not speak about Senator Obama at the event, but gave a blessing to the congregation.  After the blessing, Wright went to a nearby office where dozens of people lined up to greet him.

The church’s pastor has praised Senator Barack Obama’s presidential run.  The Obama campaign’s website identifies Father Michael Pfleger as the senior pastor at St. Sabina Church. 

The priest is quoted as saying, “I’m concerned by issues of poverty and issues of justice and equal access and opportunity especially when dealing with children and education and healthcare. Also, the war in Iraq is non-negotiable: end it! The faith community has to be a prophetic voice to bring us to where we ought to be as a country. Its voice should call every individual to be their best and not assimilate into anything less. Obama is calling back those who have given up and lost hope in the political system both young and old in the belief that we can fix it. He has the intellect for the job and I haven’t heard anyone since Robert F. Kennedy who is causing such an emotional and spiritual awakening to the political possibilities.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Father Pfleger has called recent criticism of Wright “shameful.” 

"I wanted him to come here so he could see that people really stand with him and support him while he's under all this attack," Father Pfleger said on Saturday, the Sun-Times reports.  "America, unfortunately, has been really cheated of knowing the real Dr. Wright."

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California bishops back repeal of “reverse-bias” anti-discrimination law

Sacramento, Calif., Mar 31, 2008 (CNA) - The California Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, is backing an effort that would remove sexual orientation from an anti-discrimination provision, the California Catholic Daily reports.

The provision has been accused of promoting a bias in favor of “alternative lifestyles.”

Assembly Bill 2085 would undo Senate Bill 777, signed into law earlier this year by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

The new bill, proposed by Diamond Bar Assemblyman Bob Huff, is the latest attempt to revoke the law.  Opponents tried unsuccessfully to force a statewide referendum on the issue, and are planning to make the issue an initiative on the November ballot.

The present law forbids discrimination on the basis of protected classes, including sexual orientation, in any public school or educational program that receives state funding.  The law prohibits any school from teaching information or offering any program that discriminates against protected classes or “reflects adversely” on them.

A news release from Assemblyman Huff’s office said that SB 777 “added a new definition to sexuality in the Education Code to include heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and transgender lifestyles.” 

“Opponents of SB 777 believe that by expanding the definition of sexuality and increasing prohibitions against bias, a reverse-bias in favor of alternative lifestyles is actually created,” the press release continued.

The bishops’ conference is supporting another law proposed by Huff, Assembly Bill 2086.  The bill would require school districts to send to parents at the beginning of every school year a letter notifying them that “sexual orientation education” will be taught.  The bill would require the letter to provide clear instructions to parents informing them how to remove their children from such classes.

Both bills are scheduled for a hearing before the Assembly Education Committee on April 2.

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