Natick, Mass., Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - The Gerard Health Foundation has unveiled the “Life Prizes” program to award up to $600,000 to those who uphold and preserve the sanctity of life in public advocacy, scientific research, outreach, legal action, and other activities.
The inaugural award is named the Norinne A. and Raymond E. Ruddy Memorial Pro-Life Prize to memorialize the strong believers in the pro-life cause. Their son, Raymond B. Ruddy, continues to be a pro-life philanthropist in his work as the head of the Gerard Health Foundation.
The initiative is intended both to encourage the next generation of pro-life leaders and to recognize those who save the lives of the unborn by advancing pro-life principles.
“Our primary objective is to reward those who are preserving the culture of life through their charitable enterprises or through advocacy programs that defend and preserve the sanctity of human life.
We also hope to encourage young people to embrace and create a culture of life for future generations to come,” Cathy Ruse, a prominent pro-life lawyer who is Executive Director of “Life Prizes,” said in a press release.
Dr. Jack Wilkie, former president of the National Right to Life Committee, said he is “thrilled” to see the program come into existence.
“The ‘Life Prizes’ program will elevate the pro-life commitment in remembering the significant victories we have achieved and demonstrates that there are many fruits to be harvested by the next generation in carrying the pro-life torch and taking the movement to a new level,” he commented.
Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life of America, also sees the initiative as a positive development for the future of the pro-life movement. “Life Prizes can transform that momentum into inspiration for today’s teenagers, college students and young professionals.” “We are building incredible momentum among today’s youth in the pro-life movement,” she added.
According to Cathy Ruse, nominations have been sent out to over 100 leaders of pro-life organizations and are due in mid-August. Prize winners will be announced in October and the awards will be presented in a Washington, D.C. ceremony in January 2009. The ceremony will be held in conjunction with Students for Life of America’s annual conference during the week of the March for Life.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Wilifrid Fox Napier, the Archbishop of Durban, South Africa, told an Australian news program that a change in Catholic teaching on condoms would not change the rate of HIV infection in Africa. Rather, he argued, positive change would result from trusting people to take control of their lives.
"You expect that because people are hearing from bishops, `You must use a condom', that they will do what the bishops say? the cardinal asked his interviewer.
"We have already been preaching all our lives, don't have sex outside of marriage," Cardinal Napier told the SBS Dateline program, according to the Australian Associated Press.
The cardinal, who is visiting Sydney for World Youth Day, said South Africa has the highest rate of condom distribution, but still has one of the highest HIV infection rates in the world.
He cited the Uganda program against HIV infection as a successful model. There, he said, the HIV prevalence rate was reduced from 29 to 6 percent in ten years with a program that promoted abstinence for unmarried Ugandans and monogamy for couples. The program also issued condoms only to married people.
Cardinal Napier said the Church trusted in people’s ability to control their own lives.
"At the moment, if you go on a policy of condom distribution as the only solution to HIV and AIDS, you are telling people that they cannot take control of their own lives," he said.
"And, therefore, I think you are doing them an injustice by saying: `You are so stupid. Even though this disease is a killer, you cannot take control of your own lives'."
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - The generosity of 750 Austrian young people participating in World Youth Day in Sydney has made it possible for 44 Sudanese youths to attend the event for the first time.
According to the Italian news agency SIR, the Sudanese youths come from every diocese in the country, and their dream has come true thanks to the solidarity of the Austrians who responded to a call by Aid to the Church in Need to raise money for the African young people.
“It is the first time in the history of the Sudan that we have a delegation of young people from all over the country, represented all of the Catholic dioceses,” said Combiano missionary Celestino Prevedello, WYD coordinator in Sudan.
During the “Days in the Dioceses,” the Sudanese young people have met up with their fellow countrymen whose families left the country during the civil war and settled in Australia.
The Archbishop of Khartoum, Cardinal Gabriel Zubier Wako, is at WYD with the Sudanese youth and will celebrate a Mass with the Sudanese community of Australia at the end of WYD.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - The Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd and Governor General, Major General Michael Jeffery, Australia’s head of State, extended a warm welcome to the Pope at a formal ceremony held on the lawn of Sydney’s Government House this morning following a 21-gun salute and an inspection of the Federation Guard.
“You are a welcome as an apostle of peace in an age when in an increasingly interdependent world, peace is a much needed voice among us all,” said Mr. Rudd.
“You are welcome as a voice of hope at a time in our planet’s dealings when hope is most needed of all. You are also welcome as a voice for the world’s poor,” he added.
The Pope then delivered a message to the modest crowd who lined the courtyard where the members of the Royal Australian Navy, Army and Airforce had assembled in a cross like formation.
“Ever since the first World Youth Day in 1986, it has been evident that vast numbers of young people appreciate the opportunity to come together to deepen their faith in Christ and to learn more about their Christian faith.”
He described the pilgrims as people who “long to hear the word of God… and take part in an event which brings into focus the high ideals that inspire them... [who] return home filled with hope and renewed in their resolve to contribute to the building of a better world.”
The Pope also used his message to praise the Australian government for its moves to promote reconciliation and its relationship with the Indigenous people of Australia.
“Thanks to the Australian Government’s courageous decision to acknowledge the injustices committed against the indigenous peoples, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.”
Pope Benedict also spoke of the contribution of European Catholics to the building of the Australian nation “particularly in the fields of education and healthcare.”
He made special mention of the Blessed Mary MacKillop, whose tomb the Pope prayed at immediately after the official welcome.
“I know that her perseverance in the face of adversity, her plea for justice on behalf of those unfairly treated and her practical example of holiness have become a source of inspiration for all Australians.”
“In today’s more secular environment, the Catholic community continues to make an important contribution to national life, not only through education and healthcare, but especially by highlighting the spiritual dimension of the questions that feature prominently in contemporary debate.”
The care of the environment was also part of the Pope’s message, where he said it is “appropriate to reflect upon the kind of world we are handing on to future generations.”
“In the words of your national anthem, this land ‘abounds in nature’s gifts, of beauty rich and rare…The wonder of God’s creation reminds us of the need to protect the environment and to exercise responsibility stewardship of the goods of the earth.”
Several cardinals of the Australian Catholic Church together with the representatives of the Maronite Church, were also present to greet the Pope.
Before the Pope’s departure, two young students from an Australian Catholic School approached the Pontiff and gave him a bunch of ‘poseys,’ a small bouquet of flowers.
At the conclusion of the welcome ceremony, the Pope visited the Mary MacKillop Chapel in North Sydney, where he was introduced to the leaders of the order of nuns founded by her.
Tens of thousands of Sydneysiders are expected to line the harbour and city streets to catch a glimpse and welcome the Pope as the papal motorcade travels to Barangaroo Wharf to deliver his first message to the pilgrims.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit to the Blessed Mary MacKillop Chapel this morning, which is dedicated to a woman who may become Australia’s first saint.
Blessed Mary MacKillop, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in January 1995. She was born in 1842 in Victoria, founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1866 whose mission centred around educating the poor, establishing Catholic schools throughout Australia.
“I know that her perseverance in the face of adversity, her plea for justice on behalf of those unfairly treated and her practical example of holiness have become a source of inspiration for all Australians,” said the Pope in his address to Australian government dignitaries at his official welcome by the Prime Minister at Government House.
“Generations have reason to be grateful to her and to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart and other religious congregations for the network of schools that they established here and for the witness of their consecrated life.”
The Pope kneeled at her tomb in the Chapel and at the altar, offering up prayers to her.
He then received a bronze bust from Sister Anne Derwin R.S.J., Congregational Leader of the Sisters of St Joseph as a gift to honor his visit.
The Pope then presented the sisters of the order with a statue of St. Joseph.
The congregation who had gathered in the church, comprising approximately 90 sisters of St. Joseph, then received a blessing from the Pope.
The Sisters of St Joseph have been campaigning for Mary Mackillop to be canonized. At present, Bl. Mary Mackillop requires one documented miracle before she can be declared a saint. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.
The Pope then travelled to the Admiralty House, to pay a courtesy visit to Major General Micheal Jeffery, Governor General, Australia's symbolic head of state, and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd before boarding the Papal boat to meet over 150,000 pilgrims waiting for his arrival at Barangaroo on Sydney's Darling Harbour.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - In the midst of jubilant crowds, the Papal “Boat-a-cade” arrived at Barangaroo this afternoon, after sailing around Sydney Harbour, where the Pope waved to tens of thousands people who had lined the foreshore to catch a glimpse of the Pontiff's arrival.
“His Holiness stood waving in full-view of the crowd on board the vessel,” said WYD08 spokesman Father Mark Podesta. The Papal Boat carried approximately 530 people including 168 international pilgrims.
After thanking the indigenous people of Australia for their warm welcome to the country, the Holy Father addressed the international and local pilgrims at the site, who had waited hours for his arrival.
“Standing before me I see a vibrant image of the Universal Church. The variety of nations and cultures from which you hail shows that indeed Christ’s Good News is for everyone; it has reached the ends of the earth.”
“Yet I know too that a good number of you are still seeking a spiritual homeland… To you I wish to offer encouragement: step forward into Christ’s loving embrace; recognize the Church as your home.”
The Pope also evoked images of the early Church and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles in the upper room as part of the theme of WYD08 “Receive the Power.”
“At that extraordinary moment, which gave birth to the Church, the confusion and fear that had gripped Christ’s disciples were transformed into a vigorous conviction and sense of purpose.”
Focusing on the need to preserve the environment, the Holy Father he related his appreciation of “the majestic splendor” he saw from his plane flight to Australia.
However, he noted “There are also scars which mark the surface of our earth, erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption.”
The Pope also warned that “something is amiss” in the social environment of the world we “fashion for ourselves.”
“We can encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are, and distort the purpose for which we have been created.” He cited alcohol, drug abuse, violence and sexual degradation passed off by the media as “entertainment” as examples.
The lure of relativism and secularism was also directly touched on by the Pope.
“Relativism, by indiscriminately giving value to practically everything, has made ‘experience’ all-important. Yet, experiences, detached from any consideration of what is good or true, can lead, not to genuine freedom, but to moral or intellectual confusion, to a lowering of standards, to a loss of self-respect, and even to despair.”
“Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this- in truth, in goodness, and in beauty- that we find happiness and joy.”
“Christ offers more! Indeed he offers everything. Only he who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life” told the Pope to pilgrims as the sun set upon Barangaroo.
Emphatically, the Pope called on pilgrims not to leave God on the sidelines.
“But in reality, like every ideology, secularism imposes a world-view.”
“If God is irrelevant to public life, then society will be shaped in a godless image, and debate and policy concerning the public good will be driven by more consequences than by principles grounded in truth.”
The Papal message concluded reminding all that “the concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment… cannot however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death.”
The Pope then gave special messages in Italian, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
Ruth, a fifteen year old, from Cairns in Queensland Australia who rode the Papal boat-a-cade as a local pilgrim said of the Papal arrival, “Everyone was cheering. There was helicopters everywhere, and you could just feel the excitement.”
Bishop Gabriel from Nigera said the arrival was "beautiful."
"It was lucky for the young ones on stage to be able to see the Pope properly."
Pope Benedict XVI, after giving a blessing to pilgrims, boarded his Pope-mobile where he traveled around the city’s streets lined with more crowds who cheered the Pope before he returned to St Mary’s Cathedral house where he will live with Cardinal George Pell for the rest of World Youth Day celebrations.
Tomorrow Sydney will host the spectacular launch of the Stations of the Cross, where the final hours of Jesus’ life are played out through CBD streets, beginning at St Mary’s Cathedral and concluding at the northern end of Barangaroo.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - The “Vocations Expo,” which has given religious congregations a chance to showcase their charisms and apostolates to the young people attending World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney has been “a true success,” organizers have revealed.
Diverse congregations, institutes and movements are reaching out to the thousands of young people that have flooded the vocations fair located at the Sydney Exhibition Center at Darling Harbor. The vocations expo was opened on July 15 and will end on Sunday, July 20, at the close of WYD.
According to Father Donai Pellonar, coordinator of the Vocations Expo, “This initiative aims to show the young people of WYD all possible vocations, including the priesthood, the family and the vocation to religious and consecrated life.”
Seventy five institutes, congregations, religious families, movements and associations have set up booths at the vocations expo.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - Speaking to an international audience of pilgrims at WYD08 in Sydney’s Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday, Most Rev. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, England explained how the Holy Spirit is at the heart of the Church.
"The sacraments of the Church are actions which convey to us the grace of God. Whether it be the pouring of water… or the laying over of hands in the ordination of the priests, all the actions of the Mass, and each of the sacraments, are a tangible sign of the inward grace of the Holy Spirit,” said Archbishop Nichols.
He illustrated his point through a story of a woman living in Edminton, north of London, who had been coming to Church for years, without being a Catholic and not knowing why she felt compelled to go to church. Upon being asked why she eventually converted to Catholicism, she said “ whatever it is that happens on that altar touches me very deeply.”
“Those simple words point us to the heart of the church. The heart of the Church is summed up by the action of the Mass,” said Archbishop Nichols.
The Bishop stressed that he wanted the pilgrims to take two things from the Catechesis today.
Firstly, that “the Church is instituted by Christ, he was there at its beginning. Everything flows from him. It is all instituted by Jesus Christ.”
Secondly, that “the Church is constituted by the Holy Spirit. Held together, [it] finds its strength, and changes from dry bones into life, by the Holy Spirit.”
“When we are baptized, we are given a name… God’s name for us, chosen by our parents,” said the bishop. “Another bit about Baptism, that we don’t always remember is that there is a prayer in the Baptism, “that our eyes be opened, that we have a new level of perception.”
“Listen to things that are underneath the noise of everyday,” he urged the pilgrims. “All life comes to us as a gift from the Holy Spirit. Baptism introduces us, every day of our lives, to a new way of seeing and listening… Through baptism, we begin to see life differently.”
“We live in the hope that God’s word in this world will be completed, and will bring all things to fulfilment in the Church.”
However, the Bishop also urged the pilgrims to be on guard.
“What have we got to be on our guard against? We’ve got to be on our guard against the comments of people who don’t understand that the Holy Spirit is at the heart of the church.”
“Constantly, you will get in discussion of the church, a division, she’s very conservative, right wing, left wing. That’s not the language to use about the Church,” said the bishop, which attracted a loud applause.
“That’s the language of political parties and politics. That’s not the way to describe the church.”
“The Church is the work of the Holy Spirit. Don’t fall into that habit of polarizing things in the Church, or seeing it as a battleground of ideas. It isn’t, it is a mystery of God’s love in the Church.”
“The Church is like a family. If you look back to the story of Mary and John and Jesus on the Cross. Obviously, each family has disagreements, but underneath their hearts belong to each other.”
He concluded by linking the catechesis of the previous day with the Thursday’s theme. “The Holy Spirit is the tutor of our interior life. It means the Holy Spirit can guide each one of us, give us a way of longing.”
“Today we add to that- in saying that the Holy Spirit is the heart of the Church. Those things are inseparable. Once we begin to recognise and respond to Jesus, it is inevitable that we are then drawn into the life of the Church.”
“Those who love Jesus love the Church, those who love him come to Church…when you love the church more and more, you will find you want to give time and effort to be part of the life of the Church…as you learn to love the Church, you will learn to love priests, who give their life to the Church.”
Finally, he said in preparation for the Pope’s arrival, “The welcome we give to the Pope springs from the love of Christ and the Church.”
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - In his welcoming address to the young pilgrims at World Youth Day, the Holy Father spoke of the majesty of creation: the sparkle and vastness of the oceans, the beauty of the sunset before reinforcing that while nature is “truly wonderous,” man is the “apex of God’s creation.”
After greeting those present, the Pontiff recalled the evangelization of the Apostles and those who had brought the Gospels to Australia to inspire new generations. The Holy Father then said that now it is his turn to announce the Gospel, “Today, it is my turn. For some of us, it might seem like we have come to the end of the world! For people of your age, however, any flight is an exciting prospect. But for me, this one was somewhat daunting!”
After describing the aerial views from the plane as “truly wondrous,” Benedict commented how “the sparkle of the Mediterranean, the grandeur of the north African desert, the lushness of Asia’s forestation, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the horizon upon which the sun rose and set, and the majestic splendor of Australia’s natural beauty which I have been able to enjoy these last couple of days; these all evoke a profound sense of awe.”
Humanity is the apex of Creation
“And there is more – something hardly perceivable from the sky – men and women, made in nothing less than God’s own image and likeness. At the heart of the marvel of creation are you and I, the human family ‘crowned with glory and honor.’ How astounding!”
However, when pondering creation, the Pope noted that we discover “scars which mark the surface of our earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption.”
Faced with this reality, the Holy Father recalled that in man “the apex of God’s creation,” is also impacted. With numerous advances in medicine, technology, and the arts, “the quality and enjoyment of people’s lives in many ways are steadily rising.”
In addition, Benedict XVI stressed that “All of us, young and old, have those moments when the innate goodness of the human person - perhaps glimpsed in the gesture of a little child or an adult’s readiness to forgive - fills us with profound joy and gratitude.”
Scars on the social environment
Yet, we are not always filled with that joy, the Pope explained. When we consider “why,” we discover that it is not only the natural environment that has imperfections, “but also the social environment – the habitat we fashion for ourselves – has its scars; wounds indicating that something is amiss.”
“And so we discover that not only the natural but also the social environment – the habitat we fashion for ourselves – has its scars; wounds indicating that something is amiss. Here too, in our personal lives and in our communities, we can encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are, and distort the purpose for which we have been created.”
“Examples abound, as you yourselves know. Among the more prevalent are alcohol and drug abuse, and the exaltation of violence and sexual degradation, often presented through television and the internet as entertainment. I ask myself, could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation ‘explain’ that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely ‘entertainment’?”
The Holy Father concluded his talk stressing the point that “God’s creation is one and it is good. The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable.”
The world today “has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion.”
It is through the Holy Spirit that this vision can be achieved, explained the Pontiff. “This is the hope held out by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to bear witness to this reality that you were created anew at Baptism and strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation. Let this be the message that you bring from Sydney to the world!”
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - Over half a million people gathered at Sydney Harbor on Thursday to welcome Pope Benedict to World Youth Day and listen to his message. The Pontiff challenged the youth to not separate freedom and tolerance from the truth.
Analyzing today’s secular culture, Pope Benedict said, “There is also something sinister which stems from the fact that freedom and tolerance are so often separated from truth. This is fuelled by the notion, widely held today, that there are no absolute truths to guide our lives.”
The consequence of believing in relativism, the Holy Father observed, is that “practically everything” is indiscriminately given value, which makes "experience" all-important.
“Yet, experiences, detached from any consideration of what is good or true, can lead, not to genuine freedom, but to moral or intellectual confusion, to a lowering of standards, to a loss of self-respect, and even to despair,” the Pontiff told the youth.
In contrast with this loss of values and despair about life, Benedict XVI offered hope.
“Dear friends, life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose!” he proclaimed.
“Life is not just a succession of events or experiences, helpful though many of them are. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this – in truth, in goodness, and in beauty – that we find happiness and joy.”
Pope Benedict also tackled the dangers of materialism, exhorting the youth, “Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth.”
“Christ offers more! Indeed he offers everything! Only he who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life,” Benedict encouraged.
In answer to the question of how people can receive what Christ offers them, the Holy Father turned to reflect on Baptism. He reminded the pilgrims that in Baptism, “You were adopted as a son or daughter of the Father. You were incorporated into Christ. You were made a dwelling place of his Spirit.” Indeed, in Baptism, "you have become a new creation," the Pope said echoing the prayers of Baptism.
“Dear friends,” Benedict XVI said, “in your homes, schools and universities, in your places of work and recreation, remember that you are a new creation! ... As Christians you stand in this world knowing that God has a human face - Jesus Christ - the ‘way’ who satisfies all human yearning, and the ‘life’ to which we are called to bear witness, walking always in his light.”
The Pope admitted that bearing witness to Jesus is not easy in modern society. He brought to mind how, “There are many today who claim that God should be left on the sidelines, and that religion and faith, while fine for individuals, should either be excluded from the public forum altogether or included only in the pursuit of limited pragmatic goals.”
Although this worldview “presents itself as neutral, impartial and inclusive of everyone,” Pope Benedict explained that, “in reality, like every ideology, secularism imposes a world-view.”
The consequences of this type of living without God are that, “society will be shaped in a godless image, and debate and policy concerning the public good will be driven more by consequences than by principles grounded in truth,” Benedict warned.
He closed his address by noting that the “world has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises.”
The answer to this brokenness is “a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion,” the Pope said.
Pointing back the theme of World Youth Day— 'You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses’—Pope Benedict exclaimed, “This is the work of the Holy Spirit! This is the hope held out by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to bear witness to this reality that you were created anew at Baptism and strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation. Let this be the message that you bring from Sydney to the world!”
Brasilia, Brazil, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - Judge Antônio Hirt Preiss of the Third Criminal Court of Brasilia rejected the petition of a woman who requested permission to abort her unborn child because it suffers from anacephaly.
The new ruling confirms an initial lower court decision.
Judge Preiss said the woman’s life is not at risk and that therefore, the abortion could not take place under the law. He noted that under Brazilian law, a fetus with anacephaly is not a justification for abortion. “For this reason the appeal by the petitioner is denied,” he said.
Feminists groups who are pushing for the legalization of abortion in Brazil have been using the woman’s case in order to establish legal precedent.
Bogotá, Colombia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - In an interview with the Colombian magazine Cambio, the new president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Ruben Salazar, said the guerrilla rebels in the country “have lost touch with reality.” The bishop encouraged the rebels to free all of the hostages and to sit down for negotiations.
“The world has changed substantially during recent years and the guerillas have remained stuck in the past. They have lost touch with reality. Violence can never be the path for achieving a profound renewal of society in justice and peace. The guerillas must recognize that the moment has come to free all of the hostages and to sit down at the negotiating table. In this way they can still make a contribution to the future of the country,” the archbishop said.
He also noted that the Church neither supports nor opposes the government. “The task of the Church is to be ‘salt and light.’ And she should help clearly to discover concrete paths that lead to what is good. We all need to act with a greater sense of the common good. To do this one needs to be able to renounce personal or group interests. This should be a part of any decision,” the archbishop stressed.
“One of the tragedies of the human being,” he went on, “is that he does not live according to how he thinks, and therefore he ends up thinking according to how he lives. Without the strong experience of a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus, it is ease to choose the wrong path. The coherence between faith and daily life is the fundamental condition for being a Christian,” he said.
Havana, Cuba, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - Father Jesus Del Pino, pastor of Guaimaro in Camaguey, Cuba, lamented that only one Cuban young person, who is actually a Spanish citizen, is present at World Youth Day in Sydney, because the government of New Zealand denied visas to the rest of the Cuban delegations over fears of “possible illegal immigration.”
Speaking to the Catholic News Agency, Father Del Pino said that in order to travel to Sydney, the young people from Cuba would have had to make a stopover in New Zealand. Although Cuba’s Communist government granted the young people permission to attend, New Zealand officials refused to grant them visas. Only Father Castor Alvarez, who was born and raised in Cuba but now has Spanish citizenship, was allowed entry.
“It is sad and painful that out of fear of illegal immigration, governments deprive Cubans of the chance to participate in events that would strongly impact their lives,” said Father Del Pino.
“What hope is there for the Church in Cuba,” the priest asked, if in addition to the restrictions imposed by the Cuban government, “limits are imposed on us overseas as well?”
“At least many other countries do open their doors to Cubans, and let’s hope that this poor example does not spread, because it would be very sad to have to endure more restrictions, in addition to those that are present inside the country and those that result from the embargo-blockade,” Father Del Pino added.
“What has happened here is of no help to Cuba or to the Church,” he said.
San Antonio, Texas, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - John J. Myers, the Archbishop of Newark and Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision, addressed the Anglican Use Conference in San Antonio on July 11. Describing his “awestruck” reaction to his first Anglican Use liturgy, he spoke of the efforts underway to expand the Anglican Use and the Pastoral Provision to “continuing Anglican communities.”
Controversies within the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church have encouraged Episcopalian bishops, clergy, and laity to seek reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. Last September Jeffrey Steenson, the Episcopal Bishop of Rio Grande, New Mexico, resigned his office to become a Catholic.
Archbishop Myers in his lecture noted that modern ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Anglicans had been inaugurated during the historic meeting of Pope Paul VI and Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury on March 23, 1966. Dialogue since that event has been “quite promising at times” and he said that it continues “because the Catholic Church believes that the Anglican Communion holds a special place in relationship to her.”
“Even though the relationship and dialogue seem strained at times we are obliged to continue to pray and work for unity, to ‘press toward the mark,’ so that the prayer of our Blessed Lord may be realized that all who profess faith in Him may be one,” he continued.
Until that unity is achieved, he said, the Pastoral Provision “serves somehow to close the gap.”
The Pastoral Provision, Archbishop Myers explained, is a means by which individuals from the Episcopal Church can be reconciled with the Catholic Church. It provides to Episcopalians who reconcile with Rome the option to worship in a manner familiar to them, “which many practiced from childhood and which has nourished their faith in Jesus Christ.”
For non-Episcopalians, he said, the Anglican Use provides the worship-enabling beauty of Anglican liturgical action, music, architecture and art. It has even helped Catholics whose practice of the faith lapsed because of liturgical abuses in the implementation of the Novus Ordo reform of the Mass after the Second Vatican Council.
Describing his own experience of the Anglican Use, Archbishop Myers said: “I was awestruck when I first experienced the Anglican Use liturgy at the English College in Rome during a pilgrimage last September. Its beauty was incarnated in the devotion manifested in the exquisite celebration of the Eucharist. I was humbled by the devotion of the faithful and I am encouraged by the fervor of the chapel and parishes that employ the Anglican Use liturgy here in the United States.”
“The Holy See, through the work of the Pastoral Provision, recognizes that there is a legitimate historical patrimony of the Anglican Communion,” he said, citing a sixth-century letter that Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine of Canterbury which encouraged the pioneering evangelist of England to use the best customs of all the Churches in teaching the Catholic Church in England.
Archbishop Myers suggested that those who have benefited from the Pastoral Provision over its 28 years of existence should remember that it was granted “for an indefinite period of time” and presumes obedience to the Holy See.
“Catholic faithful who worship according to the Anglican Use must never see themselves as different from other Catholics or somehow privileged among other Christian Communions,” the bishop exhorted. “We are Catholics together, obedient to the Holy Father, to those bishops in communion with him and ever faithful to Magisterial teaching.”
Concerning the growth of the Anglican Use and the Pastoral Provision, Archbishop Myers said:
“We are working on expanding the mandate of the Pastoral Provision to include those clergy and faithful of ‘continuing Anglican communities.’ We are striving to increase awareness of our apostolate to Anglican Christians who desire to be reconciled with the Holy See. We have experienced the wonder of several Episcopal bishops entering into full communion with the Catholic Church and we continue to receive requests from priests and laity about the Pastoral Provision.”
Addressing those who have entered the Catholic Church from the Anglican Communion, Myers acknowledged the difficulties they have faced:
“I know that some of you experienced difficulty and anxiety at the time you made the decision to leave what was so dear to you when you felt the Lord calling you to come to the Catholic Church. In some regard your journey has been heroic. The Church is enriched by your struggles for our Lord.”
He noted that John Henry Cardinal Newman, a prominent nineteenth-century convert from Anglicanism who is being considered for beatification, also underwent such struggles. Bishop Myers then recited the entirety of Newman’s poem “Lead, Kindly Light,” whose first line reads “Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom,/Lead Thou me on!”
Archbishop Myers closed his address with a prayer for Christian unity, saying “I ask your prayers as I continue to serve you and together may we assist in some small way, those from the Anglican Communion who seek reconciliation with the See of Peter. May the Light, which is Christ, enable those who are lost in the dark to see through the struggles and challenges of our time. May they know that only Christ can bring them ‘holy rest and peace at last’.”
Richmond, Va., Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - Michael N. Herring, the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney, has announced that though the Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Richmond (CCR) staffer who signed a 16-year-old girl’s consent form for an abortion did not have legal authority to do so, he will not prosecute because there was no criminal intent.
The Guatemalan girl was in the legal custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Department of Health and Human Services and was in the foster care of Commonwealth Catholic Charities. She already has one child and reportedly had been fitted with a contraceptive device provided by CCR members two months before CCR staffers and volunteers helped her obtain an abortion on January 18.
Herring said he spoke with Commonwealth Catholic Charities and the staffer who signed the form, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports. He reported that the staffers believed they had the authority to sign the consent form after the Office of Refugee Resettlement said it would not provide funding for the abortion but did not direct staffers to refrain from signing.
Virginia law requires a minor seeking an abortion to secure a consent form signed by an authorized person, such as a parent, a legal guardian or a person acting as parent. Herring said the staffer believed she had the authority to sign the form.
Commonwealth Catholic Charities has fired the four employees allegedly involved in the abortion.
Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 (CNA) - “Sent out into the world: the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of mission,” was the theme for the third day of Catechesis held during WYD08 Sydney.
Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota told a crowded room of pilgrims at Sydney's University of Notre Dame that they should work to "create a culture of life,” to participate in the mission of the Holy Spirit.
“This is extremely difficult in our culture today, especially when we are bombarded by technology.”
Of the many issues we face, one of the most challenging life issues for us is abortion, he told pilgrims.
“In building a culture of life we must have the courage to speak of the dignity of life, particularly that of the unborn child.”
“God in the book of Deuteronomy told us that He gave us life so that you and your descendants may have life and live it to the full.”
“I say to you, choose life, because life is a gift that is bestowed. Life is a pure gift given to you… You received the gift of life from God. You must be witnesses to that gift of life, by how we live our lives.”
“We cannot give in to the father of lies, who says ‘it’s a personal choice, it’s private. It is between the individual and God. That is relativism,” Bishop Aquila said.
The American bishop also addressed what happens when an abortion occurs: “A human life is destroyed every time an abortion occurs.”
“Any Catholic who says that they are Catholic and supports the so called right to abortion, will one day stand before God and be judged by him and they will have to argue with God. What will God say to them?”
“The very salvation of theirs souls is something we must understand. Jesus did not speak lightly about the possibility of hell,” he warned.
Bishop Aquila then shared an encounter he had that exposed the reality of abortion.
“Last year I was interviewed by an media person over the position that I took over the abortion. It was obvious that she was ‘pro-abortion, although I’m sure she wouldn’t be happy to be called that,” he said.
“Let’s put God out of the equation,” the bishop said he invited her to do. “I asked her two questions. Tell me, at what point did you’re life begin? Scientifically, at what point did your life begin?”
“She did not look real happy at me, because she knew the truth, and remained silent,” said the Bishop. “She knew as well as I did that her life began when a sperm and egg met in her mother’s womb united and formed a cell.”
“My second question to her, was ‘do you think that your life has more value now, than it did when you were in your mother’s womb?’ Once again, she remained silent.”
“If we’re the ones that decide the dignity of human life, we can justify anything,” said the bishop. “We can justify Nazi Germany, the genocide of Sudan, and we can justify the killing of unborn babies. All of these can be justified if we decide the dignity of human life. Only God alone can decide the dignity of the human person.”
“That is why so many of our societies today are supporting things like abortion, assisted suicide, genocide.”
Be a witness to Jesus
“But you are to be witnesses. You are called to be witnesses, and to truly follow the teachings of God, the teachings of Scripture and the teachings of the Church,” proclaimed the Bishop.
“You are all called to be saints. Blessed Mary Mackillop heard that call. She encouraged her sisters to listen to the whisperings of God in your heart.”
The Bishop then challenged the pilgrims to reflect in the silence of their hearts.
“My dear brothers and sisters, my dearest sons and daughters, what is the whisperings of God in your heart?” asked the Bishop.
“Jesus tells us that you are the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Let your light shine before many, so that what they may see by your good works, that they may give glory to God by your presence.”
Finally he encouraged the pilgrims, saying “be not afraid to be that salt, to be the light. Know that your strength is Jesus Christ, and is the Holy Spirit.”