Denver, Colo., Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - In celebration of the Jubilee Year of St. Paul, Catholic News Agency is pleased to announce that we have added Thomas Smith as a featured weekly columnist. Smith describes his column, “Walking with St. Paul,” as a “virtual pilgrimage with St. Paul from his time as a zealous Pharisee, to his blinding encounter with Christ, to his climactic martyrdom at the heart of the Roman Empire.”
Smith, a former Protestant minister was baptized into the Catholic Church in 1996. He is a repeat guest on EWTN and Catholic radio as well as a sought after speaker. Smith was previously the Director of the Denver Catholic Biblical School and the Denver Catechetical School and currently lives on his family ranch in southeastern Idaho where he farms and writes.
According to Smith, during the Jubilee Year of St. Paul, the column “will explore the man, his mission and message by examining his rich background, his first century setting and his powerful and life-changing writings.”
“We will explore how Paul's background perfectly prepared him to be the ultimate herald of Christ the King, we will meet the important figures that surrounded St. Paul and were his co-workers for the Kingdom and learn from his challenges of spreading the Good News in an indifferent and even hostile culture.”
“Most importantly, through his words and works, St. Paul will draw us to the person of Christ who alone can lead us to the Father by the power of the Holy Spirit. Finally, St. Paul will be our guide and intercessor for personal conversion, unity among divided Christendom and the advancement of the Kingdom of God through the New Evangelization.”
Smith’s first column for “Walking with St. Paul,” can be found on the left-hand side of CNA’s homepage or by clicking on the following link: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/columns.php?sub_id=13
Vatican City, Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - The forty metropolitan archbishops who received their palliums on Sunday, accompanied by some of their family members, met with the Holy Father on Monday afternoon at the Vatican. The Pope reminded the archbishops in his address to them that, "The condition of service for all pastors is love for Christ… .”
Having greeted each of the archbishops in their own language, Pope Benedict then addressed the entire group of prelates.
Having just inaugurated the Pauline Year on Saturday evening, the Holy Father said, "the image of an organic body applied to the Church is one of the powerful and characteristic elements of the doctrine of St. Paul. In this Jubilee Year dedicated to him, I wish to entrust each of you to his heavenly protection. May the Apostle of the Gentiles help each of you to make the communities entrusted to your care grow in unity and mission, in harmonious and coordinated pastoral activity, animated by constant apostolic zeal."
Benedict then reminded the archbishops that, "The condition of service for all pastors is love for Christ, which must come before everything."
Jesus' dialogue with Peter after his resurrection illustrates this well. Calling to mind Jesus’ question to Peter: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" the Pope prayed, "may it ever resound in our hearts and stimulate our ever fresh and passionate response: 'Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you'. It is from this love for Christ that the mission to 'feed my sheep' arises, a mission that may be summarized above all in His own testimony: ... 'follow me'."
Vatican City, Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - Patriarch Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, arrived in Rome on Saturday to open the celebration of the Pauline Year with Pope Benedict.
At the reception ceremony for Bartholomew I, the Pope told the patriarch that he was happy to learn that he had also called a Pauline Year to commemorate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles.
"This happy coincidence", Benedict said, "highlights the roots of our shared Christian vocation and the significant harmony of feelings and of pastoral commitment we are experiencing. For this I give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ, Who guides our path to unity with the strength of His Spirit.”
With the world experiencing tumult in many places, the Holy Father pointed to St. Paul’s message to the early Christian community in Corinth. “St. Paul, reminds us that full communion between all Christians has its foundation in 'one Lord, one faith, one Baptism'. ... To the Christians of Corinth, among whom discord had arisen, St. Paul did not hesitate to make a strong call for them all to remain in agreement, for there to be no divisions among them, and for them to unite in the same mind and purpose."
The persistent divisions and conflicts of today’s world, the Pope said, lead men and women to feel a “growing need for certainty and peace. However, at the same time, they remain lost, as if ensnared by a certain form of hedonist and relativist culture which throws doubt upon the very existence of truth.”
Into the midst of this culture, the Holy Father instructed, “The Apostle's guidance…is extremely helpful in encouraging efforts aimed at seeking full unity among Christians, which is so necessary in order to offer humankind of the third millennium an ever more resplendent witness of Christ, Way, Truth and Life. Only in Christ and in His Gospel can humanity find the answer to its deepest hopes."
Pope Benedict closed his greetings to the patriarch by praying that the Pauline Year "help Christian people to renew their ecumenical commitment, and may there be an intensification of joint efforts on the journey to the full communion of all Christ's disciples.”
Caracas, Venezuela, Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro and vice president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference deplored the founding of the self-proclaimed “Reformed Catholic Church,” whose leaders have aligned themselves publicly with “Bolivarian Socialism” and are receiving financial backing from the government of Hugo Chavez.
Speaking on Union Radio, the archbishop said that the church’s leaders “want to give the impression that the Catholic Church in Venezuela is divided. They are going to dress like priests, baptize and confirm, with everything paid for by the government, which seeks to destroy the Catholic Church and has not been able to so.”
Archbishop Luckert warned that the leaders of the church have no authority from the Catholic Church. “I want to warn the Venezuelan people that the priest that is leading has asked to be freed from his ministry.”
“The supposed bishop they are going to ordain on July 29 was scandalously living with a woman and her children outside of marriage. His name is Jon Jen Shu Garcia, and he’s a young solider of the National Guard who belongs to the military chaplaincy. The other leader is a former priest who left the priesthood some time ago and married, and during an interview in Panama he said that his vocation was conquered by love. We are dealing with two priests who have resigned.”
“The worst part is that this is being paid for by the government,” he said, which has contracted Anglican priests from Canada, Mexico and Peru. “They are going to dress like priests, baptize and confirm, with everything paid for by the government, while the people are going hungry.”
Rome, Italy, Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - In an interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, pointed out that Pope Benedict XVI would like to visit Africa in 2009, although his travel agenda for next year "has not yet been fixed."
After a report by the agency Apcom on June 21 that indicated that the Holy Father would visit Africa in 2009, Cardinal Bertone told the Italian newspaper that "The pope's travel agenda for 2009 has not yet been set. But it's true that this hypothesis is being worked on."
Cardinal Bertone also added that, "The Church in Africa deserves a trip by the Pope, who has already visited or is preparing to visit the other continents."
The specific African countries that the Pope will visit are not yet decided because "this is a very delicate choice, where the geopolitical balance should be considered along with the necessary safety requirements," the Secretary of State said.
Quito, Ecuador, Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Ecuador released a statement last week rejecting the approval by the Constitutional Assembly of an ambiguous clause that would open the door to abortion, and instead called on members of the Assembly to enshrine the inviolable right to life in the country’s new Constitution.
The bishops said the approval of the text, which took place on June 24, has caused “great concern and anxiety” among the people. It states, “Each person has the right to decide when and how many children they will have.”
“This right is presented as unlimited and absolute, without a conditional clause respecting the rights established in other articles, according to the formula repeatedly used in this section,” the bishops said.
“Anyone can see that the possible decision to abort at any time during pregnancy is being made into a right,” the bishops continued. “The father or the mother of the baby, with their right to decide when they want to have a child, could decide not to have it the night before the delivery.”
They urged the Assembly members not to trample upon the respect for life that characterizes Ecuadoran culture and society. The entire reform of the Constitution would be “contaminated” by the State’s “immoral indifference to the deliberate death of the innocent,” the bishops stated.
“We pray to the Lord that this text would not be made legal. We urge everyone to use common sense in order to foster unity in society and to avoid damaging the aspirations of hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorans,” they said.
Sydney, Australia, Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - The organizers of World Youth Day 2008, which will be held July 15-20 in Sydney, are preparing a debate on creation and evolution which will be moderated by Cardinal Cristoph Schönborn of Vienna.
WYD Coordinator and Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney said, "This is a time for the youth of the world to come together and discuss the critical challenges and issues facing society today." Other issues to be discussed include the correct meaning of sexuality, the millennium objectives, the true role and identity of women, among others.
There will be total of 450 events during WYD, with more than 100 ecclesial movements present to provide young people information on vocations to different ministries within the Church.
Valencia, Fla., Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - In his most recent pastoral letter, the Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia said religious freedom is “the cornerstone of the building of human rights, which simultaneously entails the individual and the communitarian dimension.”
In his letter entitled, “The Religious Dimension and Healthy Secularism,” the cardinal underscored that “religious freedom develops a vision that manifests the unity of the person, distinguishing clearly even between the aspect of citizen and that of believer, within a healthy secularism.”
“Persons and society have the freedom to make good use or bad use of our religiosity, but a correct understanding of what God asks of the believer helps to build a society worthy of man and of his rights,” he added.
“Religious freedom, today, can be expressed with this axiom: it should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s own rights,” Cardinal Garcia-Gasco said.
“The rights associated with religion need protection, above all if they are seen to be in conflict with the predominant secular ideology or with the positions of naturally exclusive religious majority. To invoke religious freedom without protecting the rights of believers to act as such is to leave it as a mere rhetorical expression,” he emphasized.
“Religious freedom ceases to be such when it becomes a policy of ‘apartheid,’ of confining religious to the sacristy,” he said. “The full guarantee of religious freedom cannot be limited to the simple exercise of worship, but rather it must duly consider the public dimension of religion and, therefore, the possibility for believers to contribute to the building up of the social order,” the cardinal stated.
“In many areas of social life, believers become generously involved thorough a wide network of initiatives, which run from universities to schools, hospitals to charitable organizations at the service of the poor and the marginalized,” he added.
Jerusalem, Israel, Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), a group of traditionalist Anglicans, released its final statement in Jerusalem on Sunday relegating the Archbishop of Canterbury to the sidelines of the Anglican identity debate. The statement, titled the “Jerusalem Declaration,” calls for the creation of a new council of Anglican primates but also insists the conference is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion.
The Declaration claims that most of the world’s practicing Anglicans have entered a “post-colonial” reality where the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest cleric in the Anglican Church, is recognized for his historical role but is not seen as the only arbiter of what it means to be an Anglican. Archbishop Rowan Williams refuses to comment on the developments.
The announcement increases pressure upon Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who already faces a controversy over women bishops that is to be discussed at the General Synod of the Anglican Church, which meets on Friday, according to the Telegraph.
The Very Rev. Colin Slee, the Dean of Southwark, responded to the GAFCON declaration, saying “This is contrary to the entire tradition on which the Church of England was founded.”
GAFCON’s Jerusalem Declaration characterizes its movement as “a fellowship of confessing Anglicans.” The declaration was produced by the 1,148 delegates who met in Jerusalem between June 22 and June 29. The delegates reportedly represent more than 35 million Anglicans worldwide.
The declaration accuses some provinces of the Anglican Communion of accepting and promoting a “different gospel” through their beliefs that all religions are equal and that Jesus is but one way to God. It also objects to the promotion of sexual immorality and the consecration of a bishop living in a homosexual relationship, who although not named, is most likely Bishop Gene Robinson.
The authors of the Jerusalem Declaration also accuse the Anglican Communion’s disciplinary instruments of “manifest failure” in the face of “overt heterodoxy.”
Describing GAFCON’s position within the Anglican Church, the Jerusalem Declaration says, “Our fellowship is not breaking away from the Anglican Communion. We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.”
According to GAFCON, the planned primates’ council initially will be formed by six Anglican primates from Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Southern Cone, Uganda and West Africa. The GAFCON delegation from Tanzania is also in agreement with the Jerusalem Declaration, but will reportedly require the approval of their House of Bishops before their archbishop can join the council.
The primates’ council will recognize and authenticate “confessing Anglican jurisdictions, clergy and congregations” and “encourage all Anglicans to promote the gospel and defend the faith,” a GAFCON press release reports. The Jerusalem Declaration reportedly acknowledges the desirability of territorial jurisdictions for Anglican provinces and dioceses “except in areas where churches and leaders have denied the orthodox faith or are preventing its spread.”
Concerning Anglicans in North America, the declaration says the “time is now ripe for the formation of a province in North America for the federation currently known as Common Cause Partnership to be recognized by the Primates' Council.”
London, England, Jun 30, 2008 (CNA) - Singer Charlotte Church and her partner Gavin Henson christened their daughter at a Catholic church in Cardiff on Saturday.
Their nine-month-old daughter Ruby Megan Henson was baptized at St. Mary of the Angels Church, the singer’s family church, news reports say.
Church asked her favorite priest, Father Christopher Delaney, to perform the baptism. The priest also baptized her as a baby, according to Wales on Sunday.
The priest said he was happy to welcome the family back to his church.
“It was a really lovely service,” Father Delaney said to Wales on Sunday. “It was a very special occasion – as is every christening. I did christen Charlotte all those years ago as well.”
Church mentions “poor old Father Delaney” in her song titled “Confessional Song.” The singer even nominated him for a Red Cross award for being “one of the greatest humanitarians of all time.”