Rome, Italy, Jun 1, 2008 (CNA) - The oldest bishop in the world, Bishop Antonio Rosario Mennonna, has celebrated his 102nd birthday with a special Mass in his native Italian city of Muro Lucano, together with fellow priests, parishioners and family members.
Bishop Mennonna was born on May 27, 1906 and was ordained Bishop of Muro Lucano on March 13, 1955, where he remained until February 22, 1962, when he was transferred to the Diocese of Nardo-Gallipoli in southern Italy.
He participated in Vatican II and has helped to promote the construction of many new parishes. He also supported a number of charitable works and received special recognition from various Italian presidents. Bishop Mennonna retired on September 30, 1983, and returned to his native city.
Next week he will celebrate his 80th anniversary in the priesthood.
Madrid, Spain, Jun 1, 2008 (CNA) - The association Educacion y Persona has denounced a new textbook that aggressively attacks the Church and supports abortion and is part of the government-sponsored school course Education for Citizenship. The textbook will be used by 15 year-olds.
The Spanish daily La Razon reported that the textbook “attacks the moral doctrine of the Catholic Church, parodies the election of a Pope, proposes Cuba as an economic model and treats the right to abortion as non-negotiable, with numerous obscene illustrations.”
La Razon pointed to several paragraphs in the text that directly attack the Church’s teachings on same-sex marriage, abortion and the use of contraceptives. “Fortunately,” the textbook says, “we don’t have to put their teachings before those of Jesus Christ.”
Elsewhere the textbook states: “The Church has mobilized itself against this Education for Citizenship course even mentioning that other sexual options besides those it sanctions exist. They have tried to take the place of laws with their gods and churches.”
The textbook also includes illustrations that mock belief in God. In one such illustration, Adam and Eve are shown being expelled from the Garden of Eden. “Adam says to her: ‘I warned you, Eve. That idea of us actually thinking wasn’t going to make the old man happy one bit’.”
Illustrations from the book can be seen at:
, Jun 1, 2008 (CNA) - Former British prime minister Tony Blair, calling faith a possible “civilizing force in globalization,” has pledged to dedicate the rest of his life to uniting the world’s religions as his “faith foundation” launched in New York on Friday.
Time magazine reports that the Tony Blair Faith Foundation will attempt to foster cooperation among religions to address global issues, such as those listed in the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals. The goals include eradicating extreme poverty and securing environmental sustainability.
Combating the spread of malaria will be among foundation’s first priorities.
“If you got churches and mosques and those of the Jewish faith working together to provide the bed nets that are necessary to eliminate malaria, what a fantastic thing that would be,” Blair said.
"That would show faith in action, it would show the importance of cooperation between faiths, and it would show what faith can do for progress."
Blair, who recently converted to Catholicism, said it was possible to achieve a “greater understanding” between religious faiths to support common action on global problems.
Speaking of the place of his faith during his time as prime minister, Blair told Time magazine “You don't put a hotline up to God and get the answers” and “What faith can do is not tell you what is right but give you the strength to do it.”
At present Blair is an envoy to the Middle East for the United Nations, the U.S., the E.U., and Russia. He also consults for the insurer Zurich and the bank JP Morgan, and has recently sold his memoirs for millions of dollars.
Vatican City, Jun 1, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI today issued a new appeal for aid for the humanitarian and environmental disasters that struck Myanmar and China one month ago, entrusting the two nations in particular, as well as all who are suffering, to Our Lady. His prayers followed a reflection upon the traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Forty thousand pilgrims flooded St. Peter’s Square under the heat of an early June sun to pray the angelus prayer at noon with Pope Benedict.
"I invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin once again for the peoples of China and Myanmar affected by natural disasters, and for those undergoing the many situations of pain, sickness and material and spiritual poverty that mark the path of humanity," the Holy Father said.
Before praying the angelus prayer, Pope Benedict reflected on the meaning of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated last Friday and throughout the month of June.
Focusing on the spiritual meaning of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Benedict described the Sacred Heart as the "heart of the world" that expands the limits of history.
The Holy Father said the Sacred Heart of Jesus expresses in a simple and real way the “good news” of love, which in itself summarizes the mystery of the incarnation and redemption. Thus it is traditionally a devotion dear to both mystics and theologians.
Pope Benedict said the succession of feasts in the liturgical year from Easter, to Trinity Sunday, to Corpus Christi and, finally, to the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is “a movement towards the center: a movement of the spirit that is driven by God Himself.”
“From the horizons of the infinity of love, God chose to enter the limits of history and the human condition, He took a body and a heart, so that we can contemplate and meet the infinite in the finite, the invisible and ineffable Mystery in the human Heart of Jesus,” Pope Benedict said.
Recalling his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est, which was on the theme of love, Pope Benedict explained that the point of departure was the gaze upon the pierced side of Christ, of which John speaks in his Gospel (cf. John 19). This, he said, is the “center of our faith and the source of the hope in which we are saved, hope that is the subject of the second encyclical.”
He continued, “Every person needs a 'center' of their lives, a source of truth and goodness to draw from in approaching the various situations and struggles of everyday life. Every of one of us, when he stops in silence, needs to hear not only the beat of his heart, but in greater depth, the beat of a reliable presence, the perceived meaning of faith and yet much more real: the presence of Christ, the heart of the world.”
Pope Benedict added, “I call on everyone to renew in the month of June their devotion to the Heart of Christ, offering the traditional daily prayer and bearing in mind the intentions that I proposed to the whole Church. "
Pope Benedict concluded his reflection on the Sacred Heart with an invocation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which he said the liturgy also invites us to venerate. He entrusted to her maternal care and intercession the peoples of China and Myanmar affected by natural disasters.
After the angelus prayer, Pope Benedict extended a blessing upon all, and greeted pilgrims in various languages.