Archive of October 6, 2008

Knights of Columbus airs pro-life ‘heartbeat’ radio ad

New Haven, Conn., Oct 6, 2008 (CNA) - A new Knights of Columbus radio spot featuring the heartbeat of a 10-week-old unborn child and urging listeners to vote pro-life has begun airing on radio stations around the U.S.

As the heartbeat plays, a woman’s voice says: “Listening to this makes me wonder – why would anyone question that her life has begun?”

“Vote your heart. Vote Pro-Life,” it concludes.

“The fact that the child whose heartbeat we hear is alive is simply a matter of science,” Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said in announcing the beginning of the ad campaign.

“We believe that it is vital that America’s pro-life community make it clear that they will reserve their votes for candidates of either party who are committed to protecting life from conception to natural death,” he continued.

The ad will be broadcast until the November 4 U.S. elections. A similar ad is planned for broadcast in Canada before the country’s October 14 election.

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Pope Benedict: unlike great banks, the Word of God doesn't fail

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2008 (CNA) - On Monday Pope Benedict XVI briefly remarked on the financial crisis during the opening of the first General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. In the aftermath of the “fall of the great banks,” he reminded synod attendees that money is of “secondary importance” to the Word of God, which he called the “foundation of all reality.”

The Pope referenced Christ’s words at the close of the Sermon on the Mount in which he speaks of building one’s house’s foundation upon sand or upon rock.

“Those who build on sand do so only on visible and tangible things: on success, career and money,” the Pope explained.

“These seem to true reality, but one day they will pass away", he continued.

"We see this now with the fall of the great banks. Money disappears, it becomes nothing. And thus all these things which seem to be real and upon which we can rely, are in fact of secondary importance.

“All human things, all things we can invent and create are finite. So too all human religious experiences are finite. They show only one aspect of reality, because our limited being understands only some parts, some elements.

“Only God is infinite and through him, his Word too is universal and knows no end,” Pope Benedict remarked.

“Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, stable like heaven. Therefore we must change our concept of reality. A realist is one who recognizes that the Word of God - this reality that appears so weak - is in fact the foundation of everything.”

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Church must bring people to a 'vivid encounter' with God, Cardinal Ouellet says

Vatican City, Oct 6, 2008 (CNA) - Archbishop of Quebec Cardinal Mark Ouellet on Monday addressed the General Congregation of the Twelfth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, describing its pastoral and missionary goals. The cardinal discussed factors affecting the faith and missionary impulses of Christians, saying the Church must better present divine revelation as a dialogue between God and man to help bring people to a “vivid encounter” with God.

Cardinal Ouellet’s remarks expanded upon the synod theme, “The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church.”

“The goal of the Synod is primarily a pastoral and missionary one,” his introductory marks read. “It consists in, together, listening to the Word of God to discern how the Spirit and the Church aspire to respond to the gift of the Word made flesh through the love of the Holy Scriptures and the proclamation of the Kingdom of God to all humanity.”

The missionary impulse of Christianity, the cardinal explained, has been affected by factors such as secularization, religious pluralism, globalization and the enormous expansion in the communication media. These factors have resulted in a growing gap between rich and poor, the blossoming of “esoteric sects,” threats to peace, and “current assaults against human life and family.”

He said to engage with these cultures, the synod should reinforce “the encounter with the Word of God as the source of life.”


Revelation is God’s Dialogue

According to Cardinal Ouellet, the Church renewed its consciousness of its own mystery and mission through the Trinitarian and Christ-centered vision of the Second Vatican Council.

In particular, he referenced the Vatican II document Dei Verbum, the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.

The cardinal said that in Dei Verbum the Council Fathers taught of the dynamic aspects of Revelation, emphasizing it as the personal, self-communicating dialogue of God.

“Thus they laid the bases for a more vivid encounter and dialogue between God Who calls and His people who respond,” he remarked.

However, this view has not yet come to fruition in the Church’s conscience, prayer, and pastoral practices as well as the Church’s “theological and exegetical method.”

Cardinal Ouellet said the synod should ask why Dei Verbum has been insufficiently received and should propose “concrete solutions” to remedy ignorance of the Scriptures.

“We must start from the Mystery of a God that speaks", Cardinal Ouellet explained, "a God Who is Himself the Word and gives Himself to be known by humanity in many ways.

“Thanks to the Bible, humanity knows it has been called upon by God; the Spirit helps it to listen and welcome the Word of God, thus becoming the 'Ecclesia' [Church], the community assembled by the Word. This community of faithful receives its identity and its mission from the Word of God that founds it, nourishes it and engages it to the service of the Kingdom of God."

The Word of God reveals God in different aspects: “It shows God Himself Who speaks, His Divine Word, His creative and saving Word, and finally His Word made flesh in Jesus Christ, 'the mediator and the fullness of all revelation'.”

“The written or transmitted Word of God is a word of dialogue and also a Trinitarian word, offered to man in Jesus Christ to introduce him to Trinitarian communion and to find his full identity. ... God speaks and, because of this, man appears as one-who-has-been-called,” the cardinal continued.

This human dimension of revelation is important because of its role in Biblical interpretation and because of Vatican II’s focus upon the “dialogic identity” of man, his existence in conversation with God, beginning from the “Word of God in Christ.”


Mary: Model of the Church

Cardinal Ouellet also made extended remarks on the Virgin Mary.

“Mary perfectly accomplishes the divine vocation of humanity by her 'yes' to the Word of Covenant and her mission. Through her divine motherhood and her spiritual motherhood, Mary appears as the permanent model and form for the Church, like the first Church.”

He then examined the “flesh-and-blood” dimension of Mary and discussed the Annunciation as “the unsurpassable origin and model for self-communication with God and the experience of faith in the Church.”

The Word of God takes first place in the “living tradition” of the Church, the cardinal noted.

“In effect, Scripture is a historical assertion and a canonical reference that are necessary for prayer, the life and the doctrine of the Church,” he continued.

However, Cardinal Ouellet made a distinction between Scripture and the Word, like that between the “letter and the spirit” of the Bible.

“Despite the complexities of the relationship between Scriptures, Tradition and Magisterium, the Holy Spirit assures a unity to the whole,” he said.

By viewing Scriptures, Church tradition and the Magisterium through the view of the Virgin Mary, we find the “personal dimension” of revelation.

Mary emphasizes both the “dynamic dimension” of the Word and the “personal nature of faith as a gift of oneself,” through which the Church is invited to “live under the Word” and to be open to the Holy Spirit.


Liturgy and Mission

Turning to the liturgy, the cardinal called it “an exercise of the priestly function of Jesus Christ” in which he addresses his people and offers himself to his father “as sacrifice of love for the salvation of the world.”

Helping the faithful cultivate their consciousness of this fact, he said, can be done by helping them “find again the divine depth of the inspired text.”

Despite a “climate of often unhealthy tension between university theology and ecclesial Magisterium,” he said the synod must give heal these relationships and integrate knowledge from biblical studies into the ecclesial interpretation of Scripture.

Directing his remarks towards missionary work, Cardinal Ouellet said “the heart of the mission of the Church is to evangelize.”

This means bringing the Good News into “all the strata of humanity” to transform and renew humanity “from within.”

“When the Spirit speaks to the Church today, recalling the Scriptures, He calls her to a new testimony of love and unity to raise credibility in the Gospel faced with a world more attuned towards witnesses than doctors. ... Consequently, the witness of the Word of God demands that the missionary disciples be authentic witnesses of the primacy of love over science."

The cardinal also discussed the ecumenical movement, saying that though it has produced “fruits of brotherhood, reconciliation and mutual aid,” at present it is characterized by a “certain degree of discomfort” that calls for a deeper conversion to “spiritual ecumenism.”

Ultimately, the missionary activity of the Church “testifies Her love for the whole Christ which includes all cultures. In Her efforts for evangelization of cultures, this activity aims towards the unity of humanity in Jesus Christ, but all in respect and integration of all human values."

As partners in dialogue with the nations, the Jewish people “occupy a unique place as the heir of the first Covenant” and share Holy Scriptures with Christians.

Cardinal Ouellet said the Muslim faithful are also “rooted in the Biblical tradition” and “believers in the one God.” They are even “allies in the defense of human life and in the assertion of the social importance of religion” in the face of secularism and liberalism.

“Jesus always comes to the Church 'to bear witness to the Truth' and to communicate knowledge of God, which He possesses in full, to all those who believe in His name,” the cardinal concluded.

“More than a library for the erudite, the Bible is a temple where the Spouse of the Canticle listens to the promises of the Beloved and celebrates his kisses,” he said, calling for “more contemplative theology, rooted in the liturgy, the Fathers and the lives of the saints,” as well as scriptural exegesis and a “philosophy of love.”

Such a practice “opens to a more fruitful spiritual reading of the Bible, to an ecclesial interpretation of the Scriptures and to a revitalization of the missionary dialogue of the Church and Her love for man, [the] imperfect image of God.”

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Origin of priestly celibacy is fundamentally spiritual, expert says

Rome, Italy, Oct 6, 2008 (CNA) - In an article published by L’Osservatore Romano, Stefan Heid, professor of Liturgy and Hagiography at the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archeology, said that “in its substance and origin, celibacy is a spiritual decision” that “requires interior strength.”

In his article, Heid explains that “in every age of the Church there are priests who fail in their own sexuality. As with any life-long decision, which entails a long period of time, celibacy also requires an interior strength.  It can be lived only by a healthy priest, who is capable of marriage, and even as such it is always a gift and a struggle. It’s about a decision ‘for the Kingdom of Heaven’.”

After noting that it is true that in the early Church there were some married priests, Heid asks how continence in the clerical life came about. “You cannot take continence out of the life of Jesus, just as you cannot take out the miracles or the exorcisms. When Jesus spoke of the eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, it was understood as perfect continence for all of the disciples, regardless of whether or not the Apostles were married.”

“The apostolic way of life of poverty, continence and mission was nothing more than the way of life of the Lord and produced great fascination in the Easter Church, and therefore it came to be the a vital charismatic principle,” Heid says.

This was at the same time the root of continence in the clergy which, at least at the beginning, was not a ‘discipline’ but rather reflected the high moral and religious demands of Christians. In such an atmosphere the priestly aspect also plays its role. It is the primitive religious experience of humanity that sexual continence is a demand of religious fear,” he continued.

Heid also says that “celibacy has an eminent spiritual dimension that greatly transcends the question of discipline. Thus according to the judgment of the early Church, ecclesiastical celibacy has dogmatic relevance.”

“When the Fathers of the Church implicitly or explicitly affirm apostolicity, in accordance with the Scriptures, and the irrenunciability of clerical continence, then in today’s terminology (held also for example by Karl Rahner), they consider continence to be of divine law,” he added.

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Cardinal Lozano: Yes to scientific advances but not at the cost of human dignity

Warsaw, Poland, Oct 6, 2008 (CNA) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, addressed the XV Congress of the Federation of European Catholic Doctors meeting in Danzk, Poland. In his remarks, he encouraged scientific advances but not when they harm human dignity.

According to the L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal said doctors should spearhead the battle against ideologies proposed by some international organizations, which seek to impose a kind of social engineering in which man loses his identity as a person.

Cardinal Lozano said, “The mission of doctors today unavoidably demands responding to urgent ethical and moral questions.  We ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us not only to find adequate responses but also to be Christ in the field of medicine for all of society.”

In referring to laws that often are in opposition to ethical principles and violate human dignity, the cardinal pointed out that Catholic doctors should not allow themselves to be “sidetracked by secularism imposed through certain policies and should seek to contain it, presenting the true face of healthcare.”

Cardinal Lozano pointed to some signs of hope, “especially in central eastern Europe where Catholic doctors seem to be more interested in this debate.”  

“There are reasons to hope for an awakening of consciences and visible efforts, especially in Poland and Slovakia which, as countries of Catholic tradition, have courageous doctors who kept their sense of duty alive in environments contrary if not hostile to human life,” he said.

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Spanish nun recalls horror of anti-Christian persecution in India

Rome, Italy, Oct 6, 2008 (CNA) - The Pontifical Missionary Works of Spain made public this week the harrowing testimony of a Spanish missionary nun concerning the alarming wave of violence and persecution that Christian communities in India, especially in the state of Orissa, are suffering.

Sister Antolina Martinez de Maranon of the Daughters of Charity, who works in Bombay with leprosy, tuberculosis and AIDS patients, said in her letter that the violence began in Orissa, “but has now spread to many more states, even to the state we call the Rome of India, Bangalore, where our provincial house is located.”  

“Many churches have been profaned there, Masses have even been disrupted, priests and others have been beaten, many things have been destroyed, and they are sowing panic.”

“Nobody is doing anything to stop the radicals from sowing panic and hatred in the minds of simple people and fear and insecurity in the minds of Christians,” Sister Martinez said.

“The Indian bishops want to draw attention to this all over the world, in order to get the international community to react,” she continued.  “Otherwise nothing will be done, even though the central government has warned the extremists.  Nevertheless, we are dealing here with the opposition party, which has many economic resources and many members trained to hate Christians,” she explained.

Sister Martinez pointed out that news of the death of a priest or nun in some part of the country comes each day.  “The Daughters of Charity are very protected by the Virgin Mary, even those who are in the north amidst the violence. We recognize that and we give thanks to God,” she said.

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Mexican cardinal calls for traditional Marian celebration to include 'mournful' pro-life march

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 6, 2008 (CNA) - Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara has invited the faithful who will participate in the traditional Marian celebrations of at the Basilica of Our Lady of Zapopan, to dress in white and in something black as a sign of mourning for the Supreme Court’s ruling that abortion in the country is constitutional.

“The annual visit of the statue of Our Lady of Zapopan to the churches of our city is an occasion of joy for the Christian communities,” the cardinal explained in a letter. 

“The return back to the Basilica of Zapopan is a manifestation of the extraordinary faith of Catholics that affirms the public presence of the Church and shows the massive support for the Christian faith,” he added.

The cardinal also encouraged “the diocesan community to assume the commitment of watching over the family and ensuring respect for human life from conception to natural death.” 

In addition, he called on “pastors and community leaders to encourage and promote the participation of the faithful in this celebration ‘For life and the family’.”

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Spanish bishop asks non-believers to 'reconsider' Catholic weddings

Madrid, Spain, Oct 6, 2008 (CNA) - Bishop Angel Rubio Castro of Segovia in Spain has published a catechetical manual in which, among other things, he suggests non-believers and non-practicing Catholics consider refraining from marrying in the Church.

The new document, titled “Catechetical and Pastoral Orientations for the Preparation and Celebration of the Sacraments,” establishes norms for administering the seven sacraments.

During the presentation of the manual, Bishop Rubio expressed his concern for the growing practice of non-believers who want to get married in the Church only for “aesthetic” reasons.

The bishop explained that in cases of engaged couples who are non-believers or manifest a faith that is full of contradictions and nevertheless want to get married in the Church, “priests should examine each case, without failing into a rigorist attitude or routine benevolence. The couples will have to reconsider their outlook and sincerely reflect on their position.”
He said the diocese would continue requiring engaged couples to participate in pre-Cana programs, which “should provide formation on the right and duty to educate children in the Christian faith.”

The programs should also help future spouses who seriously want to be married in the Church to “review and deepen their Christian faith, and to discover the meaning and implications of the sacrament of marriage, highlighting the reality of the family as the ‘domestic church’,” Bishop Rubio said.

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