Vatican City, Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - On Saturday, April 26, the Holy Father appointed three English speakers, two of whom are Americans, as consultors to the Commission for Religious Relations with Jews.
The new consultors for the commission are:
Archbishop Kevin John Patrick McDonald of Southwark, Great Britain; Bishop William Francis Murphy of Rockville Centre, U.S. ; Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa O.F.M. Custos of the Holy Land; Fr. Joseph Sievers, director of the Cardinal Agostino Bea Institute at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University; and Fr. Lawrence E. Frizzel, director of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University, U.S.
The commission was established by Pope John Paul II in the early 1970’s and consists of a president, vice president, secretary and eight consultors. The goal of the commission is to promote and help improve relations of a religious nature between Jews and Catholics.
Vatican City, Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - Every year young people from the Archdiocese of Paris make a pilgrimage and this year’s journey took them to Lourdes. In a letter that Pope Benedict wrote to the youth, he called on them to imitate the ‘yes’ of Mary because this will lead them to true happiness.
Benedict XVI sent the letter to Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois and the youth to mark the 100th anniversary of the annual pilgrimage. This year's pilgrimage, which began on April 22 and concluded April 27, is to Lourdes, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
The generosity of Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel, the Pope began, “led her to experience a joy of which all previous generations had sung".
This “'yes' to God", is what "makes the font of true happiness gush forth” he wrote to the young people.
Saying “yes” to God “frees the 'I' from everything that closes it in on itself. It brings the poverty of our lives into the richness and power of God's plan, without restricting our freedom and our responsibility. ... It conforms our lives to Christ's own life," the Pope added.
The freedom that you will find in God, should lead you to "enthusiastically to celebrate the joy of loving Christ and of believing and hoping in Him, and trustingly to follow the path of initiation you have before you,” Benedict encouraged.
The Holy Father also extended an invitation to the young pilgrims, “I particularly invite you to take up the witness of your ancestors in the faith, and to learn to welcome the Word of God - in silence and meditation - so that it can mould your hearts and produce generous fruits in you".
This pilgrimage, Pope Benedict concludes, "is also a good time to allow yourselves to be asked by Christ: 'What do you want to do with your lives?' May those among you who feel the call to follow Him in the priesthood or in consecrated life - as have so many young participants in these pilgrimages - reply to the Lord's call and put yourselves totally at the service of the Church, with a life completely dedicated to the Kingdom of heaven. You will never be disappointed".
Vatican City, Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - Today the Catholic Biblical Federation and GFK Eurisko presented their research on the frequency of Bible reading at the Holy See’s Press Office. Their survey explored the practice in several countries: U.S., UK, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Poland and Russia; finding that the Bible is present in the lives of many adults today.
Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni, Italy, the president of the Catholic Biblical Federation, explained that looking toward the Synod on "The Word of God in the Life and the Mission of the Church", the Catholic Biblical Federation thought it would be valuable “to undertake research in a number of countries in the world,” while remaining mindful of Christian tradition to “acquire concrete information on Christians' relationship with Scripture.”
The survey highlighted the “role of the Bible in ecumenical dialogue,” and found that "Scripture remains the most effective 'place' Christians have to progress together along the path of unity. ... The answers also showed that there no longer exists that diversity among the various Christian traditions - a diversity evident in the past - concerning their relationship with Scripture".
Another emerging factor was the respect that men and women have toward Holy Scripture. Among Christians "it is widely held that the Bible contains the Word of God, that it is an inspired work capable of giving meaning to life, and that it has far greater authority than other ecclesial manifestations," although the values it contains "are difficult to put into practice".
For this reason, Bishop Paglia highlighted the importance of preaching in such a way that the faithful and all “those who seek” can apply the “authoritative appeal” of the Bible to their lives.
The prelate emphasized the need "to find space for the 'schools of the word', the 'schools of the Gospel', and the 'schools of reading and listening to the Bible'.” He continued, “It is in this perspective that we must see 'lectio divina', the oldest and riches method of listening to Scripture," which must be given "new spaces and new forms until it becomes the habitual way of approaching the Word of God in our Christian communities."
For his part, Luca Diotallevi, coordinator of the research group and professor of sociology explained that some 13,000 interviews had been completed during the course of the survey, which he described as "the most systematic scientific undertaking yet attempted to compare, on an international scale, levels and forms of familiarity with the Scriptures of Christian tradition among the adult population."
The research found that the Bible "is not the text of a minority but an important point of reference present - in different degrees and ways - in the life and culture of broad majorities of the population. ... It may be affirmed that between a third and a quarter of adults in the countries examined have read a Bible passage at least once in the last 12 months."
Comparing the survey between cultures, Professor Diotallevi noted the existence of "a gap dividing the Anglo-Saxon world from central and eastern Europe". In the former, "the sensation of the closeness of God is anything but extinct and the practice of prayer is anything but marginal. A very large majority of people look to the Bible as a source of truth, as the source of a message that has to do with life."
It also emerged from the survey that "the practice of reading the Bible depends statistically, more than on shared religious beliefs, on participation in events and groups which already adopt this practice.”
“Reading the Bible in no way echoes political polarization between 'right' and 'left,'” said Professor Diotallevi. He concluded by noting that the prevalence among the countries studied "of a position favorable to studying the Bible in schools. In particular those in favor exceed 50 percent in Russia, Poland, Italy, UK and Germany."
Rome, Italy, Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - The Fides news agency reported last week on a new attack against the Apostolic Nunciature in Burundi that took place on April 22. The grenade explosion caused minor structural damage but nobody was hurt or injured.
The attack took place in the city of Bujumbura around 9:30pm local time. “Fortunately, the Nunciature was empty, as Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the nuncio, was on sabbatical and the nuncio’s secretary had not yet returned.”
Officials from the Nunciature told Fides, “We are still evaluating the damage. There are broken windows however there does not appear to be serious damage nor are the structures compromised.”
“We don’t think the rebels wanted to deliberately attack the Nunciature. They probably wanted to attack the residence of the president, which is near the Nunciature. The Presidential Palace, however, is one kilometer from here,” officials said.
The attack in Bujumbura carried out by the National Liberation Forces lasted until midnight.
Up to now some thirty people have been killed since confrontations began on April 18.
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - The director of the international office of Fundacion Vida, Paulina Sada, underscored that a pregnant woman “has no right to kill another person,” in this case, her own child, because he is “a human being and not a virus.”
Amidst the legalization of abortion in Mexico and the debate that is currently taking place in the country’s Supreme Court, Sada presented a series of clear arguments to reiterate the defense of human life in the face of the threat of abortion.
Explaining that the human embryo “possesses structural and functional characteristics that make it an authentic human being distinct from the mother, Sada underscored that genetics proves that “from the moment of conception, including during the zygote phase, we have a cell completely capable of self-development, and it is even possible to determine its sex through genetic studies, since all the characteristics of the human being are inscribed in its genome.”
In Mexico City, she noted, “in addition to the 7,000 innocents, 8 women have lost their lives.” These figures show that abortion “is not a simple, safe procedure, and the risk of death of the mother is present, just as it is if she continues with the pregnancy.”
Sada recalled that the post-abortion syndrome “can destroy a person” and even lead one to commit suicide. She also said that the Fundacion Vida believes the issue of abortion should not even be up for debate as the Mexican constitution protects the life of the unborn.
“We cannot give priority to a supposed hedonist freedom, to the deceitful labyrinth of the right of a woman over her own body, over the right to life, which is the source of all others. Personal selfishness cannot be put above the life of another human being,” Sada said.
, Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - During Pope Benedict’s visit to the U.S. just over a week ago, some pro-abortion politicians, including Rudy Giuliani and John Kerry, received Communion at the papal Mass. Today Cardinal Edward Egan, the Archbishop of New York, released a statement expressing his displeasure with Giuliani for receiving the Eucharist.
Cardinal Egan began by repeating the Church’s position on abortion and his defense of that position. “The Catholic Church clearly teaches that abortion is a grave offense against the will of God. Throughout my years as Archbishop of New York, I have repeated this teaching in sermons, articles, addresses, and interviews without hesitation or compromise of any kind,” he said.
According to Cardinal Egan, he had established “an understanding with Mr. Rudolph Giuliani”, that dated back to when he first became “the Archbishop of New York and he was serving as Mayor of New York”.
The understanding was, “that he was not to receive the Eucharist because of his well-known support of abortion,” the cardinal said.
The head of the Church in New York expressed his deep regret that “Mr. Giuliani received the Eucharist during the Papal visit here in New York” and added that he “will be seeking a meeting with him to insist that he abide by our understanding.”
Giuliani's spokeswoman, Sunny Mindel, responded to the cardinal's statement by saying that Giuliani is willing to meet with the cardinal but added that his faith "is a deeply personal matter and should remain confidential."
Madrid, Spain, Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - The Spanish bishops’ Committee on Social Communications Media said last week that due to the influence of the media on young people, there needs to be an “ethical and moral reflection on the media” in schools, and therefore ethics in the media should be part of the school curriculum.
In their message for the 42nd World Communications Day to be marked on May 4, the bishops said they hoped a moral and ethical reflection on communications would be included in the curriculum of school religion classes and youth catechesis, as well as in the formation classes for parents and newlyweds.
We are not only “morally obliged” to defend ourselves “from the dangers of misusing the media,” the bishops said, “but also educate ourselves about appropriate ethical and moral criteria, according to the principles of Christian doctrine, that will help us to know how to chose what is true, good and beautiful.”
They also expressed their support for media professionals and business leaders who “day after day struggle to be free of the pressure from consumer and ideological interests.”
A courageous ethical position “prevents the media from becoming a ‘spokesman’ for economic materialism and ethical relativism,” the statement continued. When the media is an instrument of hope it contributes effectively “to literacy teaching and socialization,” to development and dialogue between peoples, the bishops said.
The bishops recognized as well the difficulties faced by “religious reporters in the private media” in a society that is estranged from God, “and where it seems there is only interest in what is scandalous and subjective about the Church, thus distorting her true image.”
However, “in a cultural world that’s so adverse to what is Catholic,” the presence of the Church and that of the Church’s media “is essential for the Church to have a voice in society and so that the traditional media and the new technologies are at the service of evangelization.”
Vatican City, Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - On Saturday it was announced that Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as his special envoy to ceremonies commemorating the new Christian Millennium in Ethiopia.
The event will coincide with the Ethiopian National Eucharistic Congress, to be held in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, May 2 - 4.
The delegation accompanying Cardinal Dias will consist of Fr. Tsegaye Kenini of the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa, former secretary general of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariate; and Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse M.C.C.I., superior general of the Combonian Missionary Fathers in Ethiopia and president of the conference of religious superiors major of Ethiopia.
St. Charles, Ill., Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - A group of Episcopalians has invited controversial Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson to speak during a major Catholic trade show for booksellers. Though Robinson’s appearance is not directly sponsored by the trade show, he is listed in the show’s schedule of events.
Robinson is the Bishop of New Hampshire, and was ordained a bishop despite his leaving his wife to live in a homosexual relationship. His elevation to the Episcopal Church’s leadership has inflamed controversy throughout the Anglican Communion, and furthered speculation that the unity of the communion could be ruptured by schism.
The Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit (RBTE) is a major trade show for Catholic bookstores that has been held for 17 years. It meets in St. Charles, Illinois and is open to other religious denominations, including the Episcopalians who invited Bishop Robinson.
Bob Byrns, the RBTE show’s organizer, said in a letter that the trade show was organized “simply for the purpose of bringing liturgical book and gift sellers and their vendors together under one roof to educate ourselves about our industry, and to offer a venue in which products would be displayed and purchased, while at the same time offering additional opportunities for networking, entertainment, and worship.”
Byrns said the show’s speakers and musical artists were recommended by the publishers and retailers.
“We attempt to balance the program to meet the needs of both our Catholic and Episcopal attendees, as well as folks from other denominations,” Byrns said.
Church Publishing Incorporated, the publishing arm of the Episcopal Church, had suggested that Bishop Robinson be invited to speak at an RBTE lunch.
“We told them that would not be possible,” Byrns said. When the organization asked if Bishop Robinson could speak at the Episcopal Booksellers Association (EBA) dinner on Wednesday evening, Byrns said, “We told them that we would need to seek the approval of the EBA membership.”
According to Byrns, the EBA membership “overwhelmingly wished to extend an invitation to the Bishop, and so it happened.”
Bishop Robinson’s talk, titled “Charting the Course of the Anglican Communion,” is announced on the trade show’s web site in the RBTE schedule, which says that the talk is sponsored by Church Publishing Incorporated. The bishop’s talk is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28.
Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 28, 2008 (CNA) - A Los Angeles-based apostolate is sending relics of Catholic saints to U.S. troops based around the world and to their families in the United States.
The Apostolate for Holy Relics (AHR), working with the Archdiocese for Military Services in Washington, D.C., is touring military bases with the relics of saints who are patrons of armed forces. The tour is co-sponsored by the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George.
AHR is bringing to military bases the relics of St. Anthony of Padua (patron saint of sailors), St. Therese of Lisieux (patron of pilots and aircrew) and St. Ignatius Loyola (patron of soldiers). The tour began on April 22 with an opening celebration at the Archdiocese for Military Services Chapel in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio presided over the event.
"Under pressure and in circumstances that most civilians cannot even imagine, our troops have to deal not only with the constant reality of death but – in addition – with the ups and downs of life as well," said AHR President Thomas Serafin in a press release. "Our hope is that the visit of these relics will allow our troops a special moment of prayerful reflection and will give them a sense that we at home stand behind them in prayer as well as in word."
Serafin described to Catholic News Agency the first stops of the tour, which took place at several Los Angeles-area parishes. He said that parents of military personnel would come with pictures of their children to put on the bulletin boards.
“At one point one woman put up a picture of her son who passed away,” Serafin told CNA. “The people there who had kids in the military also could pray with parents who had lost their children, so there was kind of a neat comfort there.”
“We all came together for one commonality,” he said.
“Whether or not we agree with why we’re at war,” Serafin said, “the fact is that we still have to support the kids who are over there now. We still have to pray for the souls of the ones who were lost.”
More than a dozen stops are scheduled for the tour and more are being added as military bases request them. The schedule is available at www.relictour.org.