Archive of May 11, 2009

Visit to Jordan a 'particular joy' for Pope Benedict

Amman, Jordan, May 11, 2009 (CNA) - Bringing his time in Jordan to a close, Pope Benedict XVI bid the country farewell at the Queen Alia airport on Monday morning. He said that the events of the visit will remain “firmly etched” in his memory and thanked King Abdullah for his willingness to allow the Christian community to grow in Jordan.

Although Pope Benedict only spent three days in Jordan, he was treated very well by the Jordanians, a fact he mentioned in his farewell speech. “As I prepare for the next stage of my pilgrimage to the lands of the Bible, I want to thank all of you for the warm welcome that I have received in Jordan over these last few days,” he said.

The Holy Father then noted the Catholic events that brought him “particular joy.”

First, he recalled the opening of a new wing of the Queen of Peace (Regina Pacis) Center, which he said will “open up fresh possibilities of bringing hope to those who struggle with difficulties of various kinds, and to their families.”

Another event the Pope recalled with joy was the blessing of the cornerstones for the two churches that will be built in Bethany, the site where archaeologists say that Jesus was baptized.

Lastly, the blessing of the cornerstone of the Catholic University at Madaba was a significant event for the Pope. He stated that the university has “a particularly important contribution to offer to the wider community, in forming young people from various traditions in the skills that will enable them to shape the future of civil society. To all who are involved in these projects, I offer good wishes and the promise of my prayers,” he said.

The visit to the Al-Hussein Bin Talal Mosque was also a highlight for the Pope.

The message that the Holy Father wants “all Jordanians, whether Christian or Muslim,” to take from this visit is that they should “build on the firm foundations of religious tolerance that enable the members of different communities to live together in peace and mutual respect.”

Expressing his gratitude to King Abdullah for his dedication to promoting inter-religious dialogue, Pope Benedict added that he also wanted to “gratefully acknowledge the particular consideration that he shows towards the Christian community in Jordan. This spirit of openness not only helps the members of different ethnic communities in this country to live together in peace and concord, but it has contributed to Jordan’s far-sighted political initiatives to build peace throughout the Middle East,” he said.

Looking back at his visit, the Pope said it was “truly a joy for me to experience these Eastertide celebrations in company with the Catholic faithful from different traditions, united in the Church’s communion and in witness to Christ. I encourage all of them to remain faithful to their baptismal commitment, mindful that Christ himself received baptism from John in the waters of the river Jordan.”

“As I bid you farewell, I want you to know that I hold in my heart the people of the Hashemite Kingdom and all who live throughout this region. I pray that you may enjoy peace and prosperity, now and for generations to come.”

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Pope pleads for peace in the Holy Land

Jerusalem, Israel, May 11, 2009 (CNA) - "Even though the name Jerusalem means 'city of peace,' it is all too evident that, for decades, peace has tragically eluded the inhabitants of this holy land,” Pope Benedict said in Israel, as he called for “every possible avenue” to be pursued to find peace.

The Pope was welcomed to Israel at Ben Gurion International Airport by a military honor guard, a cadre of religious and civil officials and Israel's president, Shimon Peres on Monday morning.

Benedict XVI delivered a speech in which he first noted that he stands “in a long line of Christian pilgrims to these shores, a line that stretches back to the earliest centuries of the Church’s history ... I come, like so many others before me, to pray at the holy places, to pray especially for peace – peace here in the Holy Land, and peace throughout the world.”

Pointing to the shared belief in every person's human dignity, the Pope said, “Christians, Muslims and Jews alike believe to be created by a loving God and destined for eternal life. When the religious dimension of the human person is denied or marginalized, the very foundation for a proper understanding of inalienable human rights is placed in jeopardy.”

This reflection on human dignity led the Holy Father to condemn anti-Semitism, which he said “continues to rear its ugly head in many parts of the world.”

“This is totally unacceptable,” he stated. “Every effort must be made to combat anti-Semitism wherever it is found, and to promote respect and esteem for the members of every people, tribe, language and nation across the globe.”

He also underscored the fact that “Even though the name Jerusalem means 'city of peace,' it is all too evident that, for decades, peace has tragically eluded the inhabitants of this holy land.”

Saying that the “eyes of the world are upon the peoples of this region as they struggle to achieve a just and lasting solution to conflicts that have caused so much suffering,” Pope Benedict emphasized that the future of many depends on “the outcome of negotiations for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

“In union with people of good will everywhere, I plead with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own, within secure and internationally recognized borders. In this regard, I hope and pray that a climate of greater trust can soon be created that will enable the parties to make real progress along the road to peace and stability.”

The Holy Father also offered a special greeting to the Catholics present. Pointing out that he will join in the closing ceremony for the Year of the Family in Nazareth, the Pope stressed the important role of the family in contributing to peace. 

Later this afternoon the Pope will visit the Holocaust Memorial at the Yad Vashem Museum.

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Masses now celebrated again in Archdiocese of Mexico City following flu epidemic

Mexico City, Mexico, May 11, 2009 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Mexico City announced last week that Sunday Mass and normal parish activities will resume as efforts to contain the swine flu epidemic have begun yielding results.


“The sacrifices carried out by the Church in following the healthcare instructions given by civil authorities has yielded results, as shown by the decrease in infections and deaths in this city,” the archdiocese said.


However, according to the Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news service, Cardinal Norberto Rivero encouraged Mexicans not to let their guard down and to take the “necessary precautions in order to end this epidemic.”


Likewise, the cardinal “called on all the faithful to continue praying for the maternal intercession of the Virgin of Guadalupe that this disease end, not only in our country but throughout the world.”


Health care officials recommended that facemasks be worn during religious services and that afterwards “those in charge of cleaning churches disinfect pews and kneelers used by the faithful.”

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Benedict XVI blesses cornerstone at Madaba, emphasizes that God is necessary in search for Truth

Vatican City, May 11, 2009 (CNA) - On Saturday, the Holy Father traveled to the town of Madaba, Jordan where he blessed the cornerstone of the University of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Madaba is a town famous for the "Map of Madaba," a floor mosaic of a sixth-century Byzantine church, discovered in 1896. It shows a map of the Holy Land along with travel suggestions to reach Jerusalem by passing through 150 localities, as well as a detailed description of the city.

The Pope traveled through the Christian quarter of the town by popemobile to the site where the University of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem is being constructed. After blessing the cornerstone of the building, he addressed those present commending those promoting the institution for "their courageous confidence in good education as a stepping-stone for personal development and for peace and progress in the region."

"While assimilating their own heritage, young Jordanians and other students from the region will be led to a deeper knowledge of human cultural achievements, will be enriched by other viewpoints, and formed in comprehension, tolerance and peace," he said.

"This 'broader' education is what one expects from institutions of higher learning and from their cultural milieu, be it secular or religious," the Pope continued. "In fact, belief in God does not suppress the search for truth; on the contrary it encourages it."

"Religion, of course, like science and technology, philosophy and all expressions of our search for truth, can be corrupted," the Holy Father said. "Religion is disfigured when pressed into the service of ignorance or prejudice, contempt, violence and abuse. In this case we see not only a perversion of religion but also a corruption of human freedom, a narrowing and blindness of the mind."

And yet, he proceeded, "every person is also called to wisdom and integrity, to the basic and all-important choice of good over evil, truth over dishonesty, and can be assisted in this task.

"The call to moral integrity," he added, "is perceived by the genuinely religious person, since the God of truth and love and beauty cannot be served in any other way. Mature belief in God serves greatly to guide the acquisition and proper application of knowledge. Science and technology offer extraordinary benefits to society and have greatly improved the quality of life of many human beings. ... At the same time the sciences have their limitations. They cannot answer all the questions about man and his existence."

He went on: "The use of scientific knowledge needs the guiding light of ethical wisdom. Such is the wisdom that inspired the Hippocratic Oath, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention and other laudable international codes of conduct."

Benedict XVI concluded by addressing some words to the young Christian students of Jordan: "You are called to be builders of a just and peaceful society composed of peoples of various religious and ethnic backgrounds. These realities - I wish to stress once more - must lead, not to division, but to mutual enrichment."


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The dignity of all must be recognized for peace, Pope stresses in Israel

Jerusalem, Israel, May 11, 2009 (CNA) -

This afternoon in Jerusalem, Pope Benedict was received by President of Israel Shimon Peres at his residence. After a private meeting between the two heads of state, Peres delivered a speech stressing the need to separate violence from religion, while Pope Benedict asserted that true security can only be found when justice that protects the human dignity of all is exercised.

When the Pope first arrived at the president's house, Peres told Benedict that when he read the Pope's writings, he knew that they "were sincere and of great depth."

President Peres also told the Pope that he was "very moved" by his remarks at the airport condemning anti-Semitism.

Around 5:00 p.m. the president delivered a speech that focused on how the Jewish nation survived the Holocaust, and said "All of us: Jews, Christians, Muslims, all people of faith, recognize, that, today's challenge is not the separation of religion and state, but the uncompromising separation of religion from violence."

Pope Benedict then took to the podium and spoke of peace as "a divine gift," a gift that God wishes to give to those who seek him with all their hearts.

"To the religious leaders present this afternoon, I wish to say that the particular contribution of religions to the quest for peace lies primarily in the wholehearted, united search for God."

"Ours is the task of proclaiming and witnessing that the Almighty is present and knowable even when he seems hidden from our sight, that he acts in our world for our good, and that a society’s future is marked with hope when it resonates in harmony with his divine order. It is God’s dynamic presence that draws hearts together and ensures unity," the Pope said.

This means, the Pope pointed out, that religious leaders must be mindful of division or tension within their flock, since "any division or tension, any tendency to introversion or suspicion among believers or between our communities, can easily lead to a contradiction which obscures the Almighty’s oneness, betrays our unity, and contradicts the One who reveals himself as 'abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness'."

Turning to the idea of security, Pope Benedict drew upon the Hebrew understanding of the concept in Scripture. Security, or batah, "arises from trust and refers not just to the absence of threat but also to the sentiment of calmness and confidence," Benedict explained.

"Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, lasting security is a matter of trust, nurtured in justice and integrity, and sealed through the conversion of hearts which stirs us to look the other in the eye, and to recognize the 'Thou,' as my equal, my brother, my sister."

"There is only one way to protect and promote these values: exercise them! Live them!" the Pope said, stressing that "no individual, family, community or nation is exempt from the duty to live in justice and to work for peace."

The Holy Father concluded by praying that a "genuine conversion of the hearts of all lead to an ever strengthening commitment to peace and security through justice for everyone. Shalom!"

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Pope pays respects to Holocaust victims

Jerusalem, Israel, May 11, 2009 (CNA) - In a touching ceremony at the Holocaust Memorial this afternoon, Pope Benedict took another step in his efforts to reach out to the Jews by remembering those who died in the Shoah. The Holy Father also reiterated that the Catholic Church is committed to "praying and working tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again."

"I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name … I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off," with this verse from Isaiah Pope Benedict began his commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust.

"They lost their lives," he said, "but they will never lose their names: these are indelibly etched in the hearts of their loved ones, their surviving fellow prisoners, and all those determined never to allow such an atrocity to disgrace mankind again. Most of all, their names are forever fixed in the memory of Almighty God."

Noting the Scriptural significance of being given a name, the Pope said, "one can weave an insidious web of lies to convince others that certain groups are undeserving of respect. Yet, try as one might, one can never take away the name of a fellow human being."

The Holy Father then emphasized the Catholic Church, "committed to the teachings of Jesus and intent on imitating his love for all people, feels deep compassion for the victims remembered here."

He also added his own personal commitment as the Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, "to praying and working tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of peace," he stated.

"As we stand here in silence, their cry still echoes in our hearts," the Pope said of the Holocaust victims. "It is a cry raised against every act of injustice and violence. It is a perpetual reproach against the spilling of innocent blood. It is the cry of Abel rising from the earth to the Almighty."

Bringing his reflection to an end, the Pope expressed his deep gratitude to "God and to you for the opportunity to stand here in silence: a silence to remember, a silence to pray, a silence to hope."

Prior to giving his speech, the Holy Father lit an "eternal flame" remembering the victims, and met six survivors of the Holocaust.

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Religious differences an opportunity for mutual encouragement, Pope tells religious leaders

Jerusalem, Israel, May 11, 2009 (CNA) -

Pope Benedict XVI met with representatives of inter-religious dialogue groups in Jerusalem on Monday evening, telling them that religious differences are a "wonderful opportunity" for people of different faiths to live together in mutual encouragement in the ways of God. He added that religious belief presupposes truth, which is not a threat to tolerance but rather a common criterion offered to all.

The Pontiff spoke at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center before a diverse audience of monotheistic believers, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Druze, and Samaritan representatives.

After a greeting delivered by His Beatitude Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Pope Benedict began his speech with a reference to God’s "irruptive call" to Abram to leave his kin for a land God would reveal to him.

This call marked the beginning of the audience members’ respective faith traditions, which the Pope said were shaped through the encounter with Egyptian, Hittite, Sumerian, Babylonian, Persian, and Greek cultures.

"Faith is always lived within a culture," Pope Benedict remarked, explaining that a community of believers "proceeds by degrees of faithfulness to God" and draws from and shapes the culture it meets.

This mutual influence is also evident in the lives of individual believers, he said:

"[A]ttuned to the voice of God, like Abraham, we respond to his call and set out seeking the fulfillment of his promises, striving to obey his will, forging a path in our own particular culture."

Pope Benedict explained that aspects of globalization, especially the internet, have created "a vast virtual culture" of varying worth and "countless manifestations."

While these changes have created "a sense of closeness and unity," they also can easily become "an instrument of increasing fragmentation" which shatters the "unity of knowledge" and neglects complex skills of critique, discernment and discrimination learned through academic and ethical traditions.

Questions about the place of religion in a world of rapid globalization challenge believers to "proclaim with clarity what we share in common," the Pope said.

He declared that Abraham’s first step in faith, and religious believers’ steps to their places of worship, "tread the path of our single human history," unfolding to the "eternal Jerusalem."

The individual transcends his or her own culture in "the constant search for something beyond," in which can be seen "the possibility of a unity which is not dependent upon uniformity."

"While the differences we explore in inter-religious dialogue may at times appear as barriers, they need not overshadow the common sense of awe and respect for the universal, for the absolute and for truth, which impel religious peoples to converse with one another in the first place," Pope Benedict stated. "Indeed it is the shared conviction that these transcendent realities have their source in – and bear traces of – the Almighty that believers uphold before each other, our organizations, our society, our world."

Lives of religious fidelity echo God’s "irruptive presence" and shape a culture with "the principles and actions that stem from belief."

"Religious belief presupposes truth. The one who believes is the one who seeks truth and lives by it," the Pope added, saying that despite religious differences "we should not be deterred in our efforts to bear witness to truth’s power."

"Together we can proclaim that God exists and can be known, that the earth is his creation, that we are his creatures, and that he calls every man and woman to a way of life that respects his design for the world. Friends, if we believe we have a criterion of judgment and discernment which is divine in origin and intended for all humanity, then we cannot tire of bringing that knowledge to bear on civic life," Pope Benedict continued.

"Truth should be offered to all; it serves all members of society. It sheds light on the foundation of morality and ethics, and suffuses reason with the strength to reach beyond its own limitations in order to give expression to our deepest common aspirations. Far from threatening the tolerance of differences or cultural plurality, truth makes consensus possible and keeps public debate rational, honest and accountable, and opens the gateway to peace."

Saying that God’s voice is heard "less clearly" today while reason has sometimes "become deaf to the divine," he said "the din of egotistical demands, empty promises and false hopes" invades the space in which God seeks us.

Pope Benedict suggested that "deep reflection against the backdrop of God’s presence" will embolden reason, stimulate creativity, uphold the value of religious belief, and create "oases of peace and profound reflection" where God’s voice can be heard "anew."

"Friends, the institutions and groups that you represent engage in inter-religious dialogue and the promotion of cultural initiatives at a wide range of levels," Pope Benedict told the audience.

Singling out for praise the "outstanding achievements" of Bethlehem University, he listed other interfaith efforts like bereaved parents groups, musical and artistic initiatives, formal dialogue groups and charitable organizations.

These efforts demonstrate the belief that believers’ duty toward God is expressed not only in worship but also "in our love and concern for society, for culture, for our world and for all who live in this land."

"Some would have us believe that our differences are necessarily a cause of division and thus at most to be tolerated. A few even maintain that our voices should simply be silenced. But we know that our differences need never be misrepresented as an inevitable source of friction or tension either between ourselves or in society at large. Rather, they provide a wonderful opportunity for people of different religions to live together in profound respect, esteem and appreciation, encouraging one another in the ways of God."

"Prompted by the Almighty and enlightened by his truth, may you continue to step forward with courage, respecting all that differentiates us and promoting all that unites us as creatures blessed with the desire to bring hope to our communities and world. May God guide us along this path!"

After Pope Benedict’s speech, a Catholic priest addressed the audience in English.

Then the chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, took the podium and addressed the assembly. During his speech in Arabic, the judge accused Israel of murdering women and children in Gaza making Palestinians refugees, and declared Jerusalem the "eternal Palestinian capital."

Sheikh Tamimi also railed against the security wall being built by the Israelis, the requirement that Palestinians have movement permits and the "Israeli occupation."

Two Jewish leaders stood up to leave in protest of Tamimi's remarks. One of them left the hall.

The spokesman for Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted to Tamimi's words by saying, "It is regrettable that Sheikh Tayssir Tamimi has abused an inter-religious meeting aimed at promoting dialogue and understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims, in order to incite against Israel."

Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, also reacted to Tamimi's assertions, telling Vatican Radio, "The intervention of Sheikh Tayssir Attamimi was not scheduled by the organizers of the meeting."

"In a meeting dedicated to dialogue this intervention was a direct negation of what a dialogue should be. We hope that such an incident will not damage the mission of the Pope aiming at promoting peace and also interreligious dialogue, as he has clearly affirmed in many occasions during this pilgrimage. We hope also that interreligious dialogue in the Holy Land will not be compromised by this incident."

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Mexican state of Guanajuato amends constitution to protect life

Mexico City, Mexico, May 11, 2009 (CNA) - The Guanajuato State Legislature in Mexico approved a measure last week amending the state’s constitution to protect human life from abortion and euthanasia.


The amendment altered article 1 of the constitution to read that “all human beings from conception to natural death” shall be considered persons under the law.  “The State shall guarantee them the full enjoyment and the ability to exercise all of their rights.”


The new article also prohibits “every form of discrimination that attacks human dignity or the rights and freedoms of the person on the basis of ethnic origin, nationality, gender, age, physical capacities, social condition, state of health, religion, personal opinions, preferences, civil status or any other circumstance, quality or condition.”


Guanajuato now joins the growing list of Mexican states that have enshrined protection of human life, including Quintana Roo, Sonora, Baja California, Morelos, Jalisco, Puebla, Colima, Durango and Nayarit.

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Italian archbishop suspends communion in the hand to avoid abuses of the Eucharist

Rome, Italy, May 11, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, has prohibited the reception of communion in the hand in three parishes of his archdiocese and has asked priests to be on the watch for those who may be abusing the Eucharist.


The archdiocesan press office released a statement with the new guidelines established by the cardinal.  It pointed out that in 1989, “the resolution of the Italian Bishops’ Conference came into effect, authorizing, with the approval of the Holy See, the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand.”


However, the statement noted, recently there have been reports that this privilege has been gravely abused.  Consequently, Cardinal Caffarra has decided that at the Cathedral of St. Peter, at the Basilica of St. Petronius and at the Shrine of the Virgin of St. Luke, “communion shall be distributed to the faithful only on the tongue.”


According to a letter by the vicar general of Bologna, Msgr. Gabriele Cavina, “grave abuses” have taken place, as “some have taken the Sacred Species as ‘souvenirs’,” “put it up for sale,” or worse, “have taken it to be profaned in satanic rites.”


The priest explained that numerous cases of profanation of the Eucharist has been by individuals who have taken advantage of the option to receive communion in the hand, especially during large celebrations or at churches attended by large numbers of the faithful. “For this reason, it is best to control the moment of the reception of Holy Communion by following the common norms which are well-known.”


Cardinal Caffarra said that during Mass, ushers should ensure that each person who approaches the altar to receive communion “consumes the host immediately and that no one be allowed to walk away with the Eucharist in their hands or to place it in their pockets.”


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Bishop blesses mass grave of unbaptized children in N. Ireland

Belfast, UK, May 11, 2009 (CNA) - A Catholic bishop on Sunday blessed an unmarked mass grave in Belfast which had been inadvertently leased out. Unbaptized babies and those who had committed suicide had been buried on the land.

Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor consecrated the grassy plot of land in the Bog Meadows, adjacent to Milltown cemetery.

The land had been transferred to the Ulster Wildlife Trust nine years ago, the Belfast Telegraph reports. Church officials are in the process of reclaiming the property.

"The church is desirous and happy to undo any errors, to honor the memory of these children, to recognize the grief of the parents, not only in the loss of their children but in their sense the neglect of those children by the community by the church," Bishop Treanor said.

"As of October of last year, the diocese went actively about reacquiring this part of the graveyard."

The grave was used between the 1940s and the early 1980s to bury stillborn babies or unbaptized infants. Church rules at the time forbade their bodies from being buried in sanctified ground.

Those who committed suicide are also believed to have been laid to rest there.

A move to lease the land resulted in an outcry from relatives of the buried. Family members held demonstrations at the site calling for action.

The Church commissioned an archeological survey of the land to establish whether human remains were buried there. In April the Church confirmed the land contained unmarked graves and apologized for the hurt and distress caused to the affected families.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Bishop Treanor said the Church’s original decision to lease the land had been made in good faith.

He added that a memorial would be erected to those buried in the land.


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EWTN to host 10th annual Family Celebration

Irondale, Ala., May 11, 2009 (CNA) - EWTN is planning to host its 10th free Family Celebration August 8 – 9. Families who attend can expect to hear speakers such as Raymond Arroyo and Danny Abramowicz, participate in a taping of "Crossing the Goal" and take advantage of opportunities for confession and Eucharistic Adoration.

This year’s event, which will be held at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Ala., has the theme, "Rejoice in Hope," which was inspired by Romans 12:12: "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" and echoes the theme of Pope Benedict’s encyclical: "Saved by Hope."

According to a press release from EWTN, the celebration will feature several speakers including: EWTN News Director and Mother Angelica Biographer Raymond Arroyo; Danny Abramowicz and his "Crossing the Goal" team; "Journey Home" host Marcus Grodi, "Open Line" host Barbara McGuigan, and Father of Mercy Wade Menezes, CPM, a network regular.

This in attendance on Saturday will be able to participate in a life taping of "Crossing the Goal."

Doors will open at 8 a.m. Participants will have opportunities for confession as well as Eucharistic Adoration.

For more information, please visit:



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Holy Father addresses inter-religious dialogue, decline of Christians in Holy Land with reporters

Vatican City, May 11, 2009 (CNA) - On Friday, during Pope Benedict’s flight from Rome to Amman, Jordan, he briefly answered questions from journalists accompanying him on his journey on the topics of peace in the Holy Land, inter-religious dialogue and the decline of Christians in the region.

The first question the Holy Father was asked had to do with bringing peace to the Middle East.  The journalist asked:  “There are strong tensions - during the Gaza crisis it was speculated that you would not make this visit. At the same time, a few days after your trip, the political leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority will meet with U.S. President Obama. Do you think that you can contribute to the peace process that currently seems to be running aground?"

The Pope answered that he intends to contribute to peace, “not as an individual, but in the name of the Catholic Church, of the Holy See. We are not a political power, but rather a spiritual force, and this spiritual force is a reality that can contribute to the progress of the peace process.”

He noted that the contribution will be made on three levels.  First, we must realize that prayer makes a true difference.  “It opens the world to God. We are convinced that God listens and that He can act in history. I think that if millions of people - of believers - pray, this really is an influential power that can contribute to the advancement of peace.”

“Secondly, we try to help in the formation of consciences,” he explained.  And finally, we must “speak to reason” and support “truly reasonable positions.”

The Pope was then asked about Christian-Jewish dialogue.  "As a theologian, you have reflected in particular on the shared roots that unite Christians and Jews. How is it possible that, despite the efforts of dialogue, misunderstandings often occur? How do you see the future of dialogue between the two communities?"

Benedict XVI answered, that the important thing is that both religious have the same roots, even though misunderstandings arise.  He explained that we must “do everything to learn one another's language, and it seems to me that we are making great progress. Today it is possible for young people, the future professors of theology, to study in Jerusalem, in the Hebrew University; and the Jews have academic contact with us. Thus these ‘semantic universes’ meet. We learn from one another and we progress along the path of true dialogue. We learn from each other and I am convinced we are making progress. This will also help peace, and what is more, reciprocal love."

The final question acknowledged the decline of Christians in the Holy Land.  “What can be done to help Christians in the region? What contribution do you hope to make with your trip? Is there hope for these Christians in the future? Do you have a particular message for the Christians of Gaza who will come to see you in Bethlehem?"

The Pope stated that there is hope for these Christians.  “They are important components of life in these regions. In concrete terms the Church, beyond her words of encouragement, has schools and hospitals. In this sense we have a very concrete presence. Our schools form a generation that will have the possibility to be present in public life. We are creating the Catholic University in Jordan, and I feel this offers great prospects for young people - both Muslims and Christians - to meet and learn together, for forming a Christian elite specifically prepared to work for peace.”

“Furthermore,” he continued, “there are many Christian associations that help Christians in various ways, and with specific help they encourage them to stay. In this way I hope that Christians are able to find the value, the humility, the patience to stay in these countries, to offer their contribution to the future of these countries."


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Pro-life ‘Imagine’ adoption ad approved to run during ‘American Idol’

Washington D.C., May 11, 2009 (CNA) -

A new pro-life video listing famous people who have been adopted has received initial acceptance for broadcast on the closing episode of "American Idol."

The ad, produced by as part of its "Imagine the Potential" series, shows people such as John Lennon, Nelson Mandela, Babe Ruth, Nancy Reagan, Bill Clinton, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sarah McLachlan, Steve Jobs, and Jesse Jackson.

Asking what such different people have in common, the ad answers that they were all adopted.

It closes with the tagline "Life: Imagine the Potential" and shows the website of

The previous entry in the series featured an ultrasound of a baby in the womb. The ad said the baby will grow up in a broken home but despite hardships will become the first African-American president. A picture of President Barack Obama was then displayed.

The first ad was initially accepted to run the 2009 Super Bowl but was later rejected by NBC officials on the grounds it involved political candidates or issues. The ad ran on Black Entertainment Television during its January 21 coverage of President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

It was viewed more than 1.8 million times on YouTube.

Speaking at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Friday, EWTN host Raymond Arroyo announced that the video received "initial acceptance" to be broadcast on the closing episode of the Fox Network’s singing competition "American Idol."

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