Archive of July 3, 2009

Pioneer community of fraternas in Denver turns 10

Denver, Colo., Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - On the evening of June 12, a small group of consecrated laywomen celebrated the 10th anniversary of their apostolic ministry in the Archdiocese of Denver.  The Marian Community of Reconciliation, called fraternas, arrived in Denver from Latin America on Dec. 12, 1998, and were the first of their community to establish roots in the United States.


At the anniversary Mass, Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., who made the initial invitation to the fraternas to establish a presence in the archdiocese, spoke about the vocations of the community as a response to Christ’s challenge of Christian life, “Love one another as I have loved you.”


In his homily, the archbishop expressed his gratitude for all that the community has done and reminded them of their calling to be a faithful “community of prayer, in constant relationship with God.”


The fraternas were founded in 1991 in Peru as a community of women who have consecrated their lives to God in order to serve him from within the world.  Unlike nuns, they are not religious sisters, but consecrated laywomen. Instead of vows, the fraternas make perpetual promises of obedience, celibacy, and detachment from temporal goods.


The fraternas live together in community and they have various jobs in the world.  Their apostolate in Denver includes leading programs for men, women, youths and married couples, offering retreats and classes, presenting talks, organizing activities and mission trips, and providing spiritual companionship.  They also serve in the Office of Hispanic Ministry and with El Pueblo Católico, the monthly Spanish-language newspaper of the archdiocese.


The fraternas live a spirituality that strives to conform their lives with Jesus Christ, seeking to love him and giving themselves to God as Mary did.  They live in full apostolic availability, working in the areas of evangelization of the culture, youth ministry, serving the most needy, and promotion of family life.  They endeavor to transform the world for Christ by being holy in their daily lives.


Rossana Goñi, 42, had already been a fraterna in Peru for five years when she was sent as one of the first three fraternas to Denver, responding to Archbishop Chaput’s invitation.  Now, Goñi is the superior of the Denver community.


Looking back, Goñi said two of the biggest challenges over the last decade are related: to be the pioneer community of fraternas in the United States, and the transition to a new culture.


“But at the same time,” she said, “it has been a fascinating and encouraging process to understand, embrace and love another culture, and to see that it does not matter what country you are from, because the yearnings and longings of the human person are the same everywhere in the world.”


At the Mass, Archbishop Chaput observed that every time the fraternas gather to celebrate important events, they seem to be surrounded by more and more people.


“The numbers keep growing, and that is significant because it reminds us that love leads to love and friendship begets friendship,” he said.


Today, there are seven fraternas in Denver. An additional five women are in discernment here. The fraternas have been blessed by abundant growth in the last decade, not only in Denver, but throughout the United States and the world as a whole.  Communities of fraternas are now also present in San Antonio, Texas, and Bridgeport, Conn.  There are 170 fraternas throughout the world.


The fraternas continue to be blessed with abundant vocations, a trend Goñi believes will go on.


“I am sure there are more young women who are called to be fully available to the apostolate,” she said, explaining the importance of helping them overcome their fear.


“What we have seen is that people fear to follow the Lord Jesus because they fear to make a mistake, or to renounce the things of the world. This fear comes from living in a hedonistic culture that rejects commitment,” she said.  “What they do not realize is that if this is their call, there is nowhere else that they will find fulfillment.”


Eileen Leyne, 28, of Montreal, Canada, is one of the community’s new vocations and the first fraterna from the English-speaking world.  Leyne, who has been a fraterna for three years, first met the fraternas in 2003 and was attracted to the coherence between their faith and their everyday life.


“I was struck by the way they radically follow the Lord and the zeal they have for their apostolate,” she said.  “They really want to bring Christ to the world, and they are willing to give their whole lives for that.”


Libby Archibald, 26, began going to Goñi for spiritual counseling in 2007.  She slowly began to become more involved with the community, and she was struck by their devotion to Mary in all things.


 “They make Mary the model of who they are as women and as Christians, and they really make her visible in the world through their lives,” she explained.


Archibald, who is currently discerning with the fraternas, said she was initially attracted by the spiritual motherhood exhibited by them.  At the anniversary Mass, Archbishop Chaput spoke of this spiritual motherhood, reminding the fraternas that they are called by Christ to “go and bear fruit that will remain.”


Goñi speaks of this spiritual motherhood as a particularly rewarding experience carried out through the fraternas’ apostolate.


“We live this by being constantly available for others,” she said, “when they need to talk, to share, to trust; when they suffer physically or spiritually; when they don’t know what to do in difficult moments; or when they just need guidance or company.”


Looking to the future, Archbishop Chaput reminded the fraternas in his homily to always live out their calling from God.


“Mary is the mother of reconciliation,” he said.  “You walk in her steps, participating in God’s plan to restore all things to himself.”


Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register.

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Annapolis woman healed of cancer through intercession of Bl. Seelos

Annapolis, Md., Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - An Annapolis woman whose cancer disappeared without explanation has become the focus of canonization efforts for a priest who was once a pastor in her diocese.

Mary Ellen Heibel, 71, was miraculously cured of terminal cancer after praying to Blessed Fr. Francis Seelos, a 19th century Redemptorist priest who had once served in the Annapolis, Maryland area.

“I was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer on January 6, 2003,” Heibel told CNA, “and it was all gone on February 8, 2005.”

As the tumors spread, Heibel had undergone radiation and chemotherapy over several months, but the doctors did not expect a full recovery. “They said the only thing they could do was keep me alive for a little while,” Heibel explained.

But then, a priest from Pittsburgh told Heibel about Fr. Seelos and recommended that she pray a novena to him with her pastor.  She did so and a week later, she underwent a scan, which revealed that all the cancer had disappeared.

Heibel said the doctors couldn’t explain it.  “It was a miracle,” she said.

In addition to praying the novena, Heibel carries a relic of Fr. Seelos on her person.
“It’s a small chip of bone that I wear around my neck in a little brass reliquary,” she told CNA. “I got it from a friend when I was going to have my surgery.”

Fr. Byron Miller was appointed as the Vice Postulator for Seelos’ Canonization Cause in 2000.  At the same time, he was assigned as Director of the National Shrine of Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos.

“Part of my responsibilities at his national shrine in the U.S. is to seek and follow-up on possible strong medical cures through the intercession of Bl. Seelos,” Miller explained to CNA.
Fr. Miller was contacted by Heibel, first in writing and then by phone.  “I am interested in hearing all those who have good things to report, but the ‘unusual’ or ‘rare’ circumstances do stand out,” he told CNA.

“Also, because Mary Ellen Heibel is a parishioner at St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, which is staffed by the Redemptorists, and where Fr. Seelos was pastor during the Civil War – it was easy for me to stay in contact with her and with those connected to her.”

Fr. Miller explained that there is a “cherished and ardent” local devotion to Fr. Seelos in New Orleans, as well as in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and other areas where Seelos was stationed.  He mentioned that there is a newsletter distributed to 24,000 households per month, helping to raise and maintain awareness of Seelos’ canonization cause, along with testimonials from various parts of the country.

Father Francis Xavier Seelos was a Redemptorist priest, a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, a missionary congregation that seeks to preach the Gospel to the most poor and abandoned in society.  Known as the “Cheerful Ascetic,” he developed a reputation for his happy disposition and compassion. 

Seelos was born in Germany in 1819, but moved to the United States and was ordained in Baltimore.  He served in parishes in Baltimore, Annapolis, Pittsburg and Cumberland.

Father Seelos lived a life that was simple and attentive to the needs of his people. As a parish priest, he became known for his availability and kindness. People would come from neighboring towns to receive his spiritual direction and go to confession with him.

From 1863 to 1866, Seelos became an itinerant missionary.  Later, he was assigned to a Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he also worked as a pastor, showing special concern for the poorest and most abandoned in society. He cared for those with yellow fever, and in 1867 he died of the disease.

Miller explained to CNA that Heibel’s case is currently in the Diocesan Inquiry Phase, which began on May 19th, when the panel to be conducting the Inquiry was sworn in at a Mass with Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. 

The panel, which consists of canon lawyers, notaries and a physician, will gather testimony and evidence of the miraculous cure, to be shipped to Rome, where Seelos’ case for sainthood is being examined.

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Catholics responds to Orthodox Jews’ grave concern over proselytism and bishops’ note

New York City, N.Y., Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - Representatives of the U.S. bishops and two Orthodox Jewish associations met last week to discuss a recent bishops’ document on the theological and practical relationships between the two religions. Jewish participants expressed concern that the document encourages Catholic proselytism of Jews and “apostasy” from Judaism.

The discussion was part of the regular consultation between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Rabbinical Council of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the USCCB reports.

On June 18, the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine and Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs issued “A Note on Ambiguities Contained in Reflections on Covenant and Mission.” The note concerned a 2002 statement by a group of Catholic and Jewish scholars who were part of a standing dialogue between the USCCB and the National Council of Synagogues.

The clarifying note explained that the 2002 statement was not an official statement of the USCCB and contained “insufficiently precise and potentially misleading” statements. While praising the document for rightly acknowledging Judaism’s origins in divine revelation, the statement was declared “incomplete” in not addressing Israel’s “unsurpassable culmination” in Jesus Christ.

Additionally, the clarifying note said the earlier statement should not have described interreligious dialogue as “devoid of any intention whatsoever to invite the dialogue partner to baptism." Rather, all dialogue partners are “implicitly invited” to follow Christ.

According to the clarifying note, the 2002 statement also renders the possibility of individual conversion “doubtful” by implying that it is generally not good for Jews to convert, and that is it not good for Catholics to do anything that might lead Jews to conversion.

At the June 25 Catholic-Jewish meeting Prof. David Berger, head of the Jewish Studies Department at Yeshiva College in New York City, said some in the Jewish community had “grave” concerns about the clarifying note.

Prof. Berger said that Orthodox Jews can tolerate any Christian view on the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ as savior of all, but they cannot agree to participate in an interfaith dialogue that is a cover for proselytism, a USCCB press release says.

He and other Jewish participants in the discussion asked if the “implicit witnessing to Christ” effectively means a subtle attempt to convert Jews to Christianity. This would render interreligious dialogue with Catholics illegitimate and “dangerous” from an Orthodox Jewish standpoint.

“We take apostasy very seriously,” he said, referring to the abandonment of Judaism for another religion.

Father James Massa, Executive Director for the USCCB’s Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said that interreligious dialogue for the Catholic bishops is never about proselytism or any coercive methods that would lead someone to abandon his or her religious convictions.

“The important term in this discussion is ‘witness,’” Father Massa said. “As Catholics involved in a dialogue of truth, we cannot help but give witness to Christ, who, for us, is synonymous with truth. Without acknowledging our indebtedness to God’s revelation in Christ, we cannot sit at the table and speak as Christians about how we arrive at notions of justice, compassion and building up the common good—the very values our interreligious dialogues seek to foster.”

The consultation, co-chaired by Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, and Rabbi Fabian Schoenfeld of Young Israel Synagogue in Kew Gardens Hills, New York, also discussed local state issues of concern to all in the discussion.

Topics included efforts to expand tax credits for parents who send their children to private schools in New York, an issue which united both Catholic and Orthodox Jewish communities in 2006.

Participants also discussed proposed state legislation that would roll back the statutes of limitations on civil lawsuits in cases concerning alleged sexual abuse of minors, regardless of how long ago the alleged crime occurred.

The Rabbinical Council of America supports the proposed legislation, while the Catholic Church in New York believes it targets private institutions. The New York State Catholic Conference supports an alternative proposal that would include public schools in the statute of limitation changes.

The consultation was co-founded in 1998 by the late Cardinal John O’Connor. It meets to discuss moral and cultural issues that impact Catholic and Jewish life in the nation. Previous meetings have addressed anti-religious bias in the media and peace initiatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Vatican investigator finds 'compelling case' for miracle in Witchita

Wichita, Kan., Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - Considering the beatification of the Servant of God Fr. Emil Kapaun, a Vatican investigation has found enough evidence of a miracle in the unexplained recovery of a young man who broke his skull in a near-fatal athletic accident. The man’s mother and her family had prayed for the intercession of the heroic U.S. Army chaplain.

Andrea Ambrosi, a lawyer and investigator for the Vatican, on Friday visited family members and the doctors of two Wichita-area families who believe the survival of their children during near-lethal medical crises should qualify as miracles.

One meeting involved Chase Kear, a 20-year-old athlete from Colwich severely injured in an October pole-vaulting accident, the Wichita Eagle reports.

Fr. John Hotze, judicial vicar for the Diocese of Wichita and also episcopal delegate for Fr. Kapaun’s cause, was not allowed to say who or what families are being alleged for miracles, but he did report there was another “alleged miracle” in the Wichita area which Ambrosi examined in his time there.

Ambrosi met with the doctors involved and studied medical reports and X-rays.

"Afterward, the Vatican investigator said that in years of investigating miracles, he had never seen doctors who made such a compelling case for miracles occurring," Fr. Hotze said.

Chase Kear’s pole-vaulting accident fractured his skull from ear to ear and caused some bleeding on his brain. Doctors told his parents Paul and Paula Kear that they “didn’t have a lot of hope” for their son, stating he would likely die either in surgery to remove the damaged piece of his skull or from a post-surgery infection.

Family and friends joined in petitions to Fr. Kapaun. Chase survived the surgery and walked out of the hospital only a few weeks out of the accident. Doctors were unable to explain the recovery, which many believed to be miraculous.

Paula Kear, Chase's mom, told the Wichita Eagle about Ambrosi’s visit, saying “He had a nice long talk with Chase, and I didn't get the feeling that he thought this was all a lot of malarkey.”

The investigator also met with Chase Kear’s doctors, including neurosurgeon Raymond Grundmeyer, who also considers Kear’s survival a miracle.

Speaking with CNA in a Thursday phone interview, Fr. Hotze said the diocesan phase of the investigation was still underway but had advanced to the point that a postulator could come to investigate.

The relevant doctors gave “favorable responses” to the investigation, were “eager to cooperate” and expressed their belief the investigation was worth pursuing.

“There was no medical reason for those that were healed the way that they were,” Fr. Hotze added.

The investigation will continue to gather medical data and will have its contents transcribed and translated into Italian to prepare for its submission to the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints.

“The evidence will need to be reviewed again, with doctors not connected the case both here and in Rome before going before the Congregation,” Fr. Hotze told CNA.

Final approval of the miracle will advance Fr. Kapaun’s cause for beatification and canonization.

Fr. Emil Kapaun was a Wichita priest and Army chaplain born about 60 miles north of Wichita. During the Korean War he was assigned to the U.S. Army's Eighth Cavalry regiment, which was overrun in late 1951 by the Chinese army in North Korea.

Kapaun courageously rescued wounded soldiers from the battlefield, risking his own life to save them from execution at the hands of the Chinese. Later taken as a prisoner of war, he heroically worked to tend to the starving and sick, praying for and ministering to his fellow prisoners.

Eventually suffering from a blood clot in his leg, Kapaun was moved to a hospital but was denied medical assistance.  He died in May 1951, two years before the end of the war.

Fr. Hotze explained to CNA that Fr. Kapaun had been admired ever since the Korean War.

“Immediately after the war was over, those in the prison camp with Fr. Kapaun started to put him forward for honors to be granted through both the Church and the military and for him to receive awards they thought was due.”

Surviving soldiers praised Fr. Kapaun for his courage and faith and a Wichita high school was named after him. Devotion to Fr. Kapaun is strong in the Diocese of Wichita, whose website includes information about his cause for canonization. 

The Diocese of Wichita became involved in Fr. Kapaun’s cause about seven or eight years ago when then-Bishop of Wichita Thomas Olmsted asked Fr. Hotze to investigate whether his canonization should be pursued.

“We’ve been investigating it ever since,” he said, saying the cause was opened on June 29, 2008 and will continue to be pursued.

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Turkish authorities may give further permission for services in Church of St. Paul

Ankara, Turkey, Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - Turkish authorities may indefinitely extend permission for Christians to pray in the ancient Church of St. Paul in Tarsus, the birthplace of the Apostle. Increasing Christian visits to the city may help change the church from a museum to a center of pilgrimage, a local bishop says.

The Church of St. Paul, built in the sixth century, was seized by the Turkish government in 1943 and turned into a museum. Christian celebrations were only allowed under strict conditions and Mass-goers were required to pay the museum entry fee, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reports.

However, Turkish authorities granted a special license for Mass and other services to be held in the church during the just finished Year of St. Paul. Tarsus received record numbers of Christian pilgrims during the Year, which lasted from June 2008 to 2009.

Bishop Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia, told ACN the new developments mean Christians will continue to hold services in the building, although only on a provisional basis.

“I am confident that the Church in Tarsus could soon change from being a museum to a center of spiritual pilgrimage,” Bishop Padovese told ACN. He reported 416 groups of pilgrims from up to 30 countries visited the city during the Pauline Year.

“For the first time Turkish Muslims have witnessed Christians not as tourists but as praying pilgrims,” the bishop added, reporting that their devotion made a lasting impression on the Turkish people.

“It has become clear that St. Paul will be venerated in Tarsus and that his birthplace will not just be regarded as museum by Christians,” he said.

Turkey’s 500,000 Christians make up less than one percent of the population. They frequently suffer discrimination and harassment, a problem worsened by their religion being stated on their identity cards.

The bishop called on Christians in Europe to continue to advocate for greater religious freedom in Turkey.

“In Turkey more can often be achieved from the outside than from the inside,” he said.

“A certain amount of public pressure is helpful, but only if it originates from love for Turkey and a genuine wish that religious freedom should grow in the country,” Bishop Padovese explained to ACN.

He said the future of Christians in Turkey will not be certain until they are able to open and run seminaries.

Local authorities will make the final decision about whether to continue to allow services in the Church of St. Paul. They can also make the provisional permission for ongoing services more definite.

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Thirty-seven U.S. Senators call for release of Vietnamese priest Fr. Ly

Hanoi, Vietnam, Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - On Wednesday 37 members of the U.S. Senate called on President Nguyen Minh Triet to release Fr. Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly, a longtime human rights advocate.

The bipartisan group of Senators, led by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) cited “serious flaws” concerning the priest’s arrest, trial and imprisonment. They asked the Vietnamese president to facilitate Father Ly’s “immediate and unconditional release from prison” and to allow him to return home and work without restrictions on his “internationally guaranteed” freedom of expression, association or movement.

Fr. Ly, now 63 years old, has been jailed three times since the 1970s for a total of 14 years, Agence Free Presse says. His four-hour trial in 2007 on charges of spreading propaganda against the Communist government led to an eight-year sentence.

During the trial the priest was physically restrained, gagged, and prohibited from defending himself, actions which drew condemnation from diplomats and human rights groups.

Jared Genser, president of the prisoners of conscience group Freedom Now, said his group was “strongly encouraged” by the Senators’ efforts.

“It is our hope that the Government of Vietnam will heed their call and bring to an end the continued and unjust imprisonment of Father Ly,” he said.

A Freedom Now press release described Fr. Ly’s detention as a “bellwether” for human rights in Vietnam.

Freedom Now executive director Maran Turner told AFP there has been “further repression” by the Vietnamese government, “more now than in quite some time.”

“At this time we feel they are backsliding,” she said.

According to AFP, Sens. John Kerry and John McCain, both Vietnam War veterans and former presidential candidates, did not sign the letter.

In November 2006 the U.S. State Department ceased to designate Vietnam as a “country of particular concern” following its passage of religious freedom legislation, which outlawed forced renunciations.

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Renowned moral theologian weighs-in on Theology of the Body debate

Rome, Italy, Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - Fr. Maurizio Faggioni, OFM, a professor at the top pontifical institute for moral theology, the Pontifical Academy “Alphonsianum,” said in a recent interview with Catholic News Agency that the teachings of the Church suggest “far more prudence” in approaching some of the issues raised by Christopher West in his presentation of the Theology of the Body.

Faggioni, a Franciscan who teaches at the Alphonsianum, an academy named upon the father of modern Moral theology, St. Alphonsus of Liguori, is one of the most consulted moral theologians and is an advisor to several Vatican dicasteries.

In a conversation with CNA, Fr. Faggioni explained that some of the issues discussed publicly by West, such as the appropriateness of anal sex or other forms of sexual “foreplay” in married relationships, have to be dealt with using great care, since “the risk is of displacing the attention from marital love and the anthropologic meaning of lovely gestures to merely the genital aspects.”

“Sexuality,” Fr. Faggioni said, launching into his analysis of West's presentation of the Theology of the Body, “is the language of love and this language is authentic only when it is respectful of the meaning of human love.”

According to the moral theologian, “the traditional moral theology certainly does not prohibit intimacy among spouses, but it never regards them as a substitute for the marital embrace and accepts intimacy only as a path toward a complete sexual union.”

Moreover, Fr. Faggioni said that “it is simply not true that the traditional Catholic moral supports the use of acts that Thomas Aquinas call contra naturam -against nature- (such as anal sex) as something ordinary.”

“Catholic moral theology calls us to be very discrete in discussing these issues, and encourages being particularly respectful to the sensibilities of persons and couples,” the Italian Franciscan explained.

“Regarding this type of intercourse or others, no one can pretend to accept from another person something that offends that person’s sensibility on sexual issues or that does not respect the structure and natural complementarity of the bodies of man and woman.”

The moral theologian warned that “today’s youth, in a special manner, have to be protected from unnecessary exposure to sexual-genital issues that can lead to a morbid curiosity.”

“This is not prudishness, but the wisdom of the Church that has time and again demonstrated the importance of discretion and prudence when it comes to sexual issues,” he added.

“When we make these types of assertions in an indiscriminate manner, we are actually getting into the beds of married couples, and that is something the moral teaching of the Church does not encourage at all.”

Regarding the practice of blessing the genitals before a sexual relationship, Fr. Faggioni expressed “real perplexity.” “Without doubt, all the body in each one of its parts is God’s creation and deserves honor. We precisely respect our private parts by surrounding them with greater respect and modesty.”

“In itself,” he continued, “nothing forbids thanking God for the sexual body of oneself or the spouse, but from the perspective of Christian anthropology, it is not right to emphasize the genitals as if our sexuality could be reduced to them.

“Love is made with all the body, with the entire person’s humanity, not only with the genitals.”

Fr. Faggioni also explained that Pope John Paul never intended to specifically address the sexual Puritanism of the United States. “Pope John Paul wanted to distance himself equally from the moral relativism that trivializes sex, as much as from the Puritanism that considers sex as taboo,” he explained.

The late Pope, the moral theologian also said “exalted the beauty of the body and sexuality, but also taught that the body cannot be used as an instrument, as if it would not be the bearer of a meaning and values that man and woman are called to embrace and live with gratefulness and fidelity,” he said on ending.

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Schedule for papal trip to the Czech Republic released

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - Today the itinerary for Pope Benedict’s September 26 -28 trip to the Czech Republic was made public. His visit will coincide with the feast day of the country’s patron, St. Wenceslas.

Upon arriving in the capital city of Prague on Saturday, September 26, Pope Benedict will visit the city's Church of Our Lady Victorious where he will venerate the image of the "Infant Jesus of Prague." That afternoon he will then visit the president of the Czech Republic in the presidential palace and, at 5 p.m., meet with the political and civil authorities and members of the diplomatic corps. The Pope’s day will conclude at 6 p.m. with the celebration of first Vespers at the cathedral of St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert, where he will address priests, religious, seminarians and members of lay movements.

On Sunday, the Pope will travel to Brno where he will celebrate Mass and the Angelus before returning to the archbishopric of Prague where he will meet ecumenical representatives before addressing members of the academic community at Prague Castle.

The final day of the Holy Father’s visit will include a visit to the church of St. Wenceslas where he will celebrate Mass for the feast of the saint, who is also the country’s patron. He is also scheduled to address the youth of the Czech Republic that morning.

Returning to Prague, Pope Benedict will have lunch with the country’s bishops before departing for Rome at 5:45 p.m. local time.

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Vatican officials discuss findings from the sarcophagus of St. Paul

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - Today at the Vatican, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, and Professor Ulderico Santamaria, director of the scientific laboratory of the Vatican Museums, presented their findings from the sarcophagus of St. Paul.

In the presentation, Cardinal Cordero explained how two years ago he had suggested to the Pope that the tomb of St. Paul be subject to a scientific examination. Benedict XVI accepted the proposal but requested that the results only be announced at the conclusion of the Pauline Year.

Professor Santamaria dwelt on the technical aspects of the examination, explaining how a small hole was made in the sarcophagus through which a probe was then inserted. Fragments of blue linen, purple linen interwoven with gold thread, grains of red incense and bone fragments were discovered. Carbon dating on the organic elements from these findings suggest that they belong to a person who lived in the first or second centuries.

The Holy Father referred to these findings on June 28 during the closing ceremony for the Pauline Year. "This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul, and it fills our heart with profound emotion."

The cardinal also added the Pope does not exclude the possibility of undertaking a more detailed examination of the sarcophagus of St. Paul. However, he went on, the Holy Father did not wish this to take place during the Pauline Year because, in order to open the sarcophagus, it would be necessary to dismantle the papal altar and the thirteenth-century canopy by Arnolfo di Cambio which, he concluded, would be a difficult and delicate task.

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Twelve move closer to sainthood

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - Today the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to publish decrees declaring miracles, martyrdom ot heroic virtue for twelve deceased members of the faithful on their path to sainthood.


Those recognized with a miracle are:

- Blessed Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (nee Juana Josefa), Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus (1845-1912).

- Servant of God John Henry Newman, English cardinal and founder of the Oratories of St. Philip Neri in England (1801-1890).

- Servant of God Angelo Paoli (ne Francesco), Italian professed priest of the Order of

Carmelites of the Strict Observance (1642-1720).

- Servant of God Maria Alfonsina Danil Ghattas (nee Soultaneh Maria), co-foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of Jerusalem (1843-1927).


Those to be officially recognized as martyrs are:

- Servant of God Jose Samso i Elias, Spanish diocesan priest, pastor and archpriest of Santa Maria de Mataro, killed in hatred of the faith during religious persecution in Spain (1887-1936).

- Servant of God Teofilo Fernandez de Legaria Goni (ne Beniamino) and four companions, professed priests of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (PICPUS), killed in hatred of the faith during religious persecution in Spain in 1936.

- Servant of God Georg Hafner, German diocesan priest, killed in hatred of the faith in the concentration camp of Dachau, Germany (1900-1942).

- Servant of God Zoltan Ludovico Meszlenyi, Hungarian titular bishop of Sinope and auxiliary of Esztergom, killed in hatred of the faith at Kistarcsa, Hungary (1892-1951).


Those Servants of God acknowledged as having heroic virtue are:

- Servant of God Engelmar Unzeitig (ne Uberto), German professed priest of the Congregation of Missionaries of Mariannhill (1911-1945).

- Servant of God Anna Maria Janer Anglarill, Spanish foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Holy Family of Urgell (1800-1885).

- Servant of God Maria Serafina del Sacro Cuore di Gesu Micheli (ne Clotilde), Italian foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Angels (1849-1911).

- Servant of God Teresa Manganiello, Italian laywoman of the Third Order of St. Francis (1849-1876).

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Holy Father names new Archbishop of Saint Boniface in Canada

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2009 (CNA) - This morning it was announced that Bishop Albert LeGatt of Saskatoon will become the next Archbishop of Saint Boniface in Winnipeg.  The archbishop-elect will succeed Archbishop Emilius Goulet who submitted his retirement papers to the Vatican upon reaching the age of 75.


Bishop LeGatt was born in Melfort, Canada in 1953 and, according to the Diocese of Saskatoon, he studied Philosophy and French in college.


After an overseas volunteering experience in Ghana, he then entered the seminary and was ordained a priest in 1983.  


LeGatt served in several parishes and received his Masters in Liturgical Studies at the University of Notre Dame before being consecrated a bishop in 2001.


Bishop LeGatt will serve 119,000 Catholics in his new archdiocese.

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