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Archive of July 7, 2009

Daughter of Cuban prisoner of conscience denounces father's mistreatment in prison

Havana, Cuba, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - Yenysel Diaz Sanchez, daughter of the Cuban prisoner of conscience Antonio Ramon Diaz Sanchez, has called for her father’s human rights to be respected and for an end to the physical and psychological abuse he is suffering, despite his poor health.
 
In a letter sent to the Catholic News Agency, Yenysel said her father, who was imprisoned in 2003, is one of the original founders of the Christian Liberation Movement and worked to gather the first signatures in support of the Varela Project.  “As a reward the government condemned him to 20 years in a prison more than 434 miles from his home,” Yenysel said.
 
In her letter she revealed that eight months ago her father was sent to a military hospital for treatment for ulcers he developed while in prison.  State security officials offered to house him in a prison closer to his home during that time if he agreed to wear “the normal prisoner’s uniform, that is, of a criminal.” However, since “he did not accept this blackmail,” he was sent to another prison 310 miles from his home in the town of Canaleta.
 
Yenysel said her father is being kept in deplorable conditions “in a cell that is the size of cage, with a small hole as a latrine and slab of stone for a bed, in constant darkness and dampness, and no communication with the outside world.” She said he is being given “concentration camp-like nourishment, without regard for the diet he has been prescribed by doctors.”
 
She went on to note that her father “is only defending his dignity in conditions of complete physical disadvantage but with total moral reasoning.”
 
She pleaded “with people of all good will not to let our father die in the dungeons of the Cuban prisons at the hands of people who are incapable of respecting the rights of a man who has dedicated his life to defending the human rights of an entire people.”

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Conn. attorney general criticizes ‘serious constitutional concerns’ in anti-Church lobbying inquiry

Hartford, Conn., Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - The Connecticut Attorney General has called upon the Office of State Ethics (OSE) to abandon action against the Diocese of Bridgeport, citing “profound and serious constitutional concerns” in its investigation into whether the Catholic Church in the state acted as a lobbyist in opposing radical legislation that would have forcibly reorganized the Church.

A state bill proposing to redefine the financial and pastoral structure of the Catholic Church in Connecticut brought swift reaction from the states’ bishops and Catholic laity. Bishops made outspoken protests while hundreds of people were bused in for a rally at the state capitol.

State lobbying law requires that any rally sponsors who advocate for or against legislation be required to register as lobbyists when their costs exceed $2,000.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in a June 30 legal opinion commented about the “profound and serious” concerns in the enforcement of lobbyist legislation laws against the Church.

Noting the “profoundly significant and far-reaching” constitutional questions, he said that the Church’s activities such as communicating with church members on legislative issues of “paramount importance” and holding a rally to protest government action were “clearly and unquestionably” protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The constitutional concerns have “special significance,” Blumenthal continued, because they arise in the context of a religious organization protesting “perceived government entanglement and intrusion in its affairs.”

Saying the “broad definition” of the law generated uncertainty in an area with little “interpretative guidance,” he added that there was a “most significant” and “intolerable” risk of “chilling constitutionally protected political expression by the Church and its members.”

Bishop of Bridgeport William E. Lori praised Blumenthal’s comments.

“Today's opinion from the Attorney General is a truly significant announcement that stands not just with our State's Catholics but with all citizens of the State whose fundamental civil liberties were placed in jeopardy by the application by the OSE of the State’s lobbying registration requirements,” Bishop Lori said last Tuesday.

“It is essential that citizens have the right to organize and communicate their views to their government without being required to register as lobbyists,” he added, characterizing the attorney general as “unambiguous” in his warnings about the chilling effects of the OSE action.

The bishop noted that the legal opinion recognizes the “particular care” the action merited because the diocese was acting against a “clearly unconstitutional proposal to interfere with the internal organization and governance of the Catholic Church.”

“We are hopeful that the opinion from the Attorney General will allow us to concentrate even more of our energies in meeting the increased demand for social services in our State. As a Church our mission is to preach the Gospel, teach our Faith, and celebrate the Sacraments. Our religious faith and mission compels us to affirm and defend persistently the dignity of the human person by word and deed.”

“As the largest non-governmental provider of educational and human services, we believe the Catholic Church is a critical part of the solution to our State’s economic and social challenges,” Bishop Lori concluded.

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Pro-life pamphlet series provides plain talk in defense of life

Front Royal, Va., Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) -

The pro-life group Human Life International (HLI) has introduced a new series of online pamphlets titled Pro-Life Talking Points (PLTP) addressing claims about the necessity of abortion, the effect of welfare on the abortion rate, and the distorted claims surrounding abortion-related violence and the promotion of condom use.

PLTP titles also discuss the beginning of human life and the issue of men and abortion.

"From fertilization to natural death, there exists an unbroken and smooth continuum of human development during which the person needs only oxygen, water, and nutrients to live and develop physically," says HLI’s pamphlet on fetal development.

Another pamphlet, "Why Women Abort," examines the reasons women say they aborted their children. It cites one U.S. study that reports only about 0.36 percent of annual abortions in the U.S. are for the stated reason of saving the life of the mother; about 0.24 percent of abortions are performed because of "fetal birth defects;" and about 0.09 percent of abortions are performed on pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

The rarity of these "hard cases" contrasts with the generally given reasons women cite to justify an abortion: to preserve a woman’s lifestyle or to please those who are close to her.

HLI pamphlets also discuss common proposals to reduce the abortion rate without passing laws discouraging the killing procedure.

On the issue of welfare, the HLI pamphlet "Does Welfare Reduce Abortion?" cites reports showing that welfare and out-of-wedlock pregnancy and childbirth are linked. Thus welfare may increase the abortion rate through encouraging irresponsible sexual behavior.

The promotion of condoms, a solution advanced by President Obama, other politicians and abortion groups, may also be counter-productive.

"Within a year, 15% of sexually active women whose partners use condoms for contraception become pregnant," says the pamphlet "Condoms: Little-Known Scientific Facts." It claims that condom promoters exaggerate the items’ efficacy by using statistics based on an "ideal use" scenario among well-trained, highly disciplined adults monitored by scientists.

"Unmarried teenagers, often the targets of condom promoters, almost certainly have a far worse record," the pamphlet states.

The pamphlet "Pro-Abortion Violence: Setting the Record Straight" charges that the news media have soft-pedaled violence committed by abortionists and pro-abortion extremists. It cites several examples, including the case of pro-life activist minister and radio talk show host Jerry Simon. He was shot and killed through his living room window by a pro-abortion radical.

Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer, president of HLI, explained the purpose of the pamphlet series in a statement.

"I speak to pro-lifers around the world and people always ask me how they can persuasively argue for the pro-life cause on specific issues that they care about," he remarked. "The PLTP series has, in plain language, the answers that people are looking for, in a format that is easy to print, forward and share with others."

Fr. Euteneur encouraged pro-lifers to pray, to be convinced that the facts are on their side, and to know and use the facts.

"To that end, the Pro-Life Talking Points series will assist every pro-lifer in the mission of defending babies and souls," he said.

The pamphlet series is available at http://www.hli.org

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New project to support divorced or separated Catholics who live their vows

Westlake, Ohio, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) -

A new support community for divorced or separated Catholics who remain faithful to marriage has launched in the United States, taking inspiration from a similar Italian effort to help people fulfill their vows and live their "I do."

The Saint Mary of Cana project, sponsored in the U.S. by the non-profit Mary’s Advocates, seeks to work with dioceses in the United States in order to, in project director Bai Macfarlane’s words, "reject the divorce culture’s indoctrination that our marriage is dead or that we have new lives as single people."

Maria Pia Campanella initiated the project’s Italian forerunner under the family pastoral arm of the Archdiocese of Palermo. Campanella explained in an e-mail interview with Macfarlane that the pastoral work supports the separated or divorced person in being faithful to the obligations of the Sacrament of Matrimony.

"He who is faithful to the sacrament is faithful to God," she wrote. "Matrimony is the state of life that a man and a woman have chosen freely as a way of holiness. Both of the spouses are able by the Grace of the sacrament to be ‘conjugal ministers' for the sanctification of their spouse and their children, in view of the whole Church."

"This mission ...does not end in the case of separation or divorce of the spouses," Campanella continued, referencing Paragraph 1615 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. She said the separated or divorced person gives witness not only to the Church but also to the World that Jesus is faithful to the marriage covenant with the Church, even if the Church is "adulterous."

The Italian Saint Mary of Cana project recently hosted a retreat day in Palermo for those who reaffirmed their marriage vows. The day was a concluding moment of the year-long encounter and healing activities of the project.

The U.S. project is raising funds to translate into English and publish Campanella’s Italian study manual, "The Gift of Self."

Fr. Timothy Cloutier, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Waverly, Minnesota, has endorsed the manual, saying it is "long overdue" in addressing how to live one’s marriage vows after divorce.

"This is not a self-pity book, laying blame or fault. Neither is it simply another book about coping with life after divorce… It is an insightful work drawing on faith and love to face the challenge of continuing to live one's ‘I do’ after the conjugal life has broken down."

Fr. Cloutier said that Campanella shows how married love can and needs to continue "for the spiritual growth of the spouses themselves."

"The reality of Christ's love as source and example for a divorced Catholic is revealed with a clarity that can only be called inspired, and truly timely," he added.

Lisa Everett, a co-director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend, said the book presents a "beautiful and profound spirituality" for spouses drawn into the mystery of Christ’s passion and death because of separation and divorce.

She also said the manual offers "helpful" direction to parishes and pastoral ministers in providing concrete material, emotional and spiritual support to those who have been abandoned by a spouse.

Those Americans who want to have Saint Mary of Cana programs launched in their diocese can participate in monthly conference phone calls.

Further information on the project, as well as translated introductory sections of Campanella’s "The Gift of Self," is available at http://www.maryofcana.org

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Pope defines real social development by drawing on Paul VI

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - Today Pope Benedict XVI delivered his encyclical “Caritas in veritate,” drawing heavily on Pope Paul VI's vision of real human development, which insists upon progress in the moral and spiritual realms, in addition to the material. Paul VI's teaching on development, Benedict XVI wrote, is the “new Rerum Novarum of the present age.” 

“Charity in truth,” Pope Benedict said as he began his encyclical, “is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity.” It is precisely this gift of charity in truth that Jesus Christ bore witness to “by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection,” he noted.

Moreover, Benedict explained, “Charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine.”

In today's world, the Pope said that he sees charity being “misconstrued and emptied of meaning” and that this puts it at risk of being “misinterpreted, detached from ethical living and, in any event, undervalued.”

Areas where this distortion of charity often takes place are: “the social, juridical, cultural, political and economic fields — the contexts, in other words, that are most exposed to this danger — it is easily dismissed as irrelevant for interpreting and giving direction to moral responsibility.”

The remedy to this distortion of charity is to infuse it with truth, the Pope said. “In this way, he added, “not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living.”
 
Truth, he observed, also “frees charity from the constraints of an emotionalism,” enables men and women “to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions” and “opens and unites our minds in the lógos of love.”

Returning to a theme that he preached on just before his election as Pope, the Holy Father pointed out that in the current social and cultural context, “where there is a widespread tendency to relativize truth, practising charity in truth helps people to understand that adhering to the values of Christianity is not merely useful but essential for building a good society and for true integral human development.”

“A Christianity of charity without truth,” the Pontiff warned, “would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance. In other words, there would no longer be any real place for God in the world.”

Even worse, “without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times like the present,” Benedict XVI wrote.

The Church sees her fidelity to the truth as being faithful to man, the Pope noted, saying that fidelity to the truth is the only “guarantee of freedom” and of “the possibility of integral human development.”
 
“For this reason the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognizes it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce. Her social doctrine is a particular dimension of this proclamation: it is a service to the truth which sets us free. Open to the truth, from whichever branch of knowledge it comes, the Church's social doctrine receives it, assembles into a unity the fragments in which it is often found, and mediates it within the constantly changing life-patterns of the society of peoples and nations.”

Pope Benedict also touched on the common good, writing that seeking it is a “requirement of justice and charity.” Taking a stand for the common good involves both caring for and participating in the  “complex of institutions that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally, making it the pólis, or 'city,'” he said.

The Holy Father then turned to the history of the Church's body of teaching on social life by noting that it has been over forty years since “the great Pope Paul VI” first penned “Populorum Progressio,” which unfolded the meaning of “integral human development.”

On the 20th anniversary of “Populorum Progressio's” publication, Pope John Paul II marked the commemorated the teaching by issuing the encyclical “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis,” he recalled. Until that time, only Pope Leo XIII's work, “Rerum Novarum,” had been commemorated in that way.

“Now that a further twenty years have passed,” Benedict XVI wrote, “I express my conviction that Populorum Progressio deserves to be considered 'the Rerum Novarum of the present age,' shedding light upon humanity's journey towards unity.”

Summing up society's current situation, Benedict described offering love in truth as a “great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized.”

“The risk for our time,” he alerted, “is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds that would give rise to truly human development.”

When Pope Paul VI promulgated his message on integral social development, he was conveying two important truths: “the Church in all her being and acting...is engaged in promoting integral human development” and that “authentic human development concerns the whole of the person in every single dimension.”

In other words, Pope Benedict explained, “Without the perspective of eternal life, human progress in this world is denied breathing-space.”

As he proposed the notion of development in “human and Christian terms,” Pope Paul VI  unflinchingly put forth Christian charity as the principal force at the service of development, the Pope recalled.  “Motivated by the wish to make Christ's love fully visible to contemporary men and women, Paul VI addressed important ethical questions robustly, without yielding to the cultural weaknesses of his time.”

Even in the 1960s, the German Pontiff noted that Paul VI was already warning against the “technocratic ideology so prevalent today.” Entrusting the “entire process of development to technology alone” was identified as a “great danger” because “it would lack direction,” he had said.

“Technology, viewed in itself, is ambivalent,” the Benedict wrote, saying that while “some today would be inclined to entrust the entire process of development to technology, on the other hand we are witnessing an upsurge of ideologies that deny "in toto" the very value of development, viewing it as radically anti-human and merely a source of degradation.”

“This leads to a rejection, not only of the distorted and unjust way in which progress is sometimes directed, but also of scientific discoveries themselves, which, if well used, could serve as an opportunity of growth for all.”

The Holy Father brought his section on Paul VI's teachings to a close by reflecting on what a world without development means.

“The idea of a world without development indicates a lack of trust in man and in God. It is therefore a serious mistake to undervalue human capacity to exercise control over the deviations of development or to overlook the fact that man is constitutionally oriented towards 'being more.' Idealizing technical progress, or contemplating the utopia of a return to humanity's original natural state, are two contrasting ways of detaching progress from its moral evaluation and hence from our responsibility.”

To read Pope Benedict XVI's full encyclical, please visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=944

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Pope highlights 'strong link' between life issues and social ethics in new encyclical

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - In his first social encyclical Caritas in veritate (Love in Truth), Pope Benedict XVI makes clear that social issues cannot be disconnected from the defense of life from the moment of conception to its natural end, and that the defense of the right to life cannot be compromised when seeking common ground on other social issues.

Explaining the importance of the social magisterium of Pope Paul VI, Benedict XVI writes that the Encyclical Humanae Vitae is “highly important for delineating the fully human meaning of the development that the Church proposes.”

“The Encyclical Humanae Vitae,” the Pope writes, “emphasizes both the unitive and the procreative meaning of sexuality, thereby locating at the foundation of society the married couple, man and woman, who accept one another mutually, in distinction and in complementarity: a couple, therefore, that is open to life.”

“This,” the Pope explains, “is not a question of purely individual morality: Humanae Vitae indicates the strong links between life ethics and social ethics, ushering in a new area of magisterial teaching that has gradually been articulated in a series of documents, most recently John Paul II's Encyclical Evangelium Vitae.

“The Church forcefully maintains this link between life ethics and social ethics,” the Pope adds.

Later in the encyclical, Pope Benedict highlights that “one of the most striking aspects of development in the present day is the important question of respect for life, which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples.”

Moreover, the Pope says that the life issues oblige “us to broaden our concept of poverty and underdevelopment to include questions connected with the acceptance of life, especially in cases where it is impeded in a variety of ways.”

The Pope denounces the fact that “some parts of the world still experience practices of demographic control, on the part of governments that often promote contraception and even go so far as to impose abortion.”

“In economically developed countries,” he continues, “legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other States as if it were a form of cultural progress.”

Benedict XVI also denounces non-governmental organizations such as Planned Parenthood for working “actively to spread abortion, at times promoting the practice of sterilization in poor countries, in some cases not even informing the women concerned.”

“Moreover, there is reason to suspect that development aid is sometimes linked to specific health-care policies which de facto involve the imposition of strong birth control measures.”

“Further grounds for concern,” the Pope notes, “are laws permitting euthanasia as well as pressure from lobby groups, nationally and internationally, in favour of its juridical recognition.”

In his new encyclical, the Holy Father insists that “openness to life is at the centre of true development,” and warns that “when a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good.”

“If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away.”

Explaining the incompatibility between a mentality that accepts legal abortion as a given and a true social commitment to the common good of society, the Pope also writes that “the acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual.”

Later in the encyclical, in number 44, Pope Benedict further explains that “the notion of rights and duties in development must also take account of the problems associated with population growth. This is a very important aspect of authentic development, since it concerns the inalienable values of life and the family,” he says.

“To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view,” he writes.

“Suffice it to consider, on the one hand, the significant reduction in infant mortality and the rise in average life expectancy found in economically developed countries, and on the other hand, the signs of crisis observable in societies that are registering an alarming decline in their birth rate.”

The Pope's encyclical also touches on sexuality as it relates to the Church's “concern for man's authentic development.” The Church, the Pope explains, “urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality.

It cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible disease or the ‘risk’ of procreation.”

“It is irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure, and likewise to regulate it through strategies of mandatory birth control. In either case materialistic ideas and policies are at work, and individuals are ultimately subjected to various forms of violence. Against such policies, there is a need to defend the primary competence of the family in the area of sexuality,” the Pope also writes.

The Holy Father also recalls that “morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource. Populous nations have been able to emerge from poverty thanks not least to the size of their population and the talents of their people. On the other hand, formerly prosperous nations are presently passing through a phase of uncertainty and in some cases decline, precisely because of their falling birth rates.”

“Furthermore,” the Pontiff laments, “smaller and at times minuscule families run the risk of impoverishing social relations, and failing to ensure effective forms of solidarity. These situations are symptomatic of scant confidence in the future and moral weariness.”

“In view of this,” Pope Benedict proposes that Statesenact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character.”

To read Pope Benedict XVI's full encyclical, please visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=944

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Pope urges a new 'humanistic synthesis' to confront globalization

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - In his sweeping new encyclical published on Tuesday, Pope Benedict asserts that confronting the global challenges of today requires a “new humanistic synthesis” that makes man's well-being “the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life.”

The Holy Father spends the first part of his encyclical, “Caritas in veritate” or Charity in truth, connecting his teachings to his predecessor Pope Paul VI, who taught that true development involves spiritual and material progress.

In Chapter Two of Pope Benedict's latest work, he begins by acknowledging that beneficial economic development has taken place since Paul VI's time. However, he also points out that “this same economic growth has been and continues to be weighed down by malfunctions and dramatic problems, highlighted even further by the current crisis.”

Responding to the Global Crisis

Pope Benedict cites several factors as contributing to the current economic meltdown: “technical forces in play, the global interrelations, the damaging effects on the real economy of badly managed and largely speculative financial dealing, large-scale migration of peoples, often provoked by some particular circumstance and then given insufficient attention, the unregulated exploitation of the earth's resources...”

“The different aspects of the crisis, its solutions, and any new development that the future may bring, are increasingly interconnected, they imply one another, they require new efforts of holistic understanding and a new humanistic synthesis,” the Holy Father writes.

With this new synthesis in mind, the Pope says that the current crisis “obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment, to build on positive experiences and to reject negative ones.”

Benedict XVI sets out on his re-evaluation by looking at the “scandal of glaring inequalities” between rich and poor countries and between rich and poor people. “Corruption and illegality are unfortunately evident in the conduct of the economic and political class in rich countries, both old and new, as well as in poor ones,” he notes.

“Today, as we take to heart the lessons of the current economic crisis, which sees the State's public authorities directly involved in correcting errors and malfunctions, it seems more realistic to re-evaluate their role and their powers, which need to be prudently reviewed and remodelled so as to enable them, perhaps through new forms of engagement, to address the challenges of today's world.”

The Holy Father observes that  because of the global market, the poor and dependent are losing benefits that were present in Paul VI's day. “These processes have led to a downsizing of social security systems as the price to be paid for seeking greater competitive advantage in the global market, with consequent grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for the solidarity associated with the traditional forms of the social State,” he explains, pointing to Leo XIII's social encyclical “Rerum Novarum.”

A Truly Human Answer

“I would like to remind everyone, especially governments engaged in boosting the world's economic and social assets, that the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity: “Man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life,” Pope Benedict teaches.

At the global level, Benedict notes that today “the possibilities of interaction between cultures have increased significantly” which gives rise to “new openings for intercultural dialogue.” However, if that dialogue  is to be effective, it must set out from a deep-seated knowledge of the specific identity of the various dialogue partners.”

This knowledge “easily yields to a relativism that does not serve true intercultural dialogue; on the social plane, cultural relativism has the effect that cultural groups coexist side by side, but remain separate, with no authentic dialogue and therefore with no true integration.” The opposite danger also exists, he warns, which is of a “cultural levelling and indiscriminate acceptance of types of conduct and life-styles. “

Another area in need of development is improving food security, which the Pontiff says, “needs to be addressed within a long-term perspective, eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development of poorer countries.

“It is therefore necessary to cultivate a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination,” he stresses.

The humanistic synthesis must also include religious freedom, Benedict insists. One particular affront against religious freedom that must be addressed is violence.

“Violence,” the Pope writes, “puts the brakes on authentic development and impedes the evolution of peoples towards greater socio-economic and spiritual well-being. This applies especially to terrorism motivated by fundamentalism, which generates grief, destruction and death, obstructs dialogue between nations and diverts extensive resources from their peaceful and civil uses.”

In the realm of human knowledge, Benedict XVI notes that it is “insufficient and the conclusions of science cannot indicate by themselves the path towards integral human development.” At the same time, he explains that there is “always a need to push further ahead: this is what is required by charity in truth.” “Going beyond, however, never means prescinding from the conclusions of reason, nor contradicting its results. Intelligence and love are not in separate compartments: love is rich in intelligence and intelligence is full of love.”

Forty Years After “Populorm Progressio”

More than forty years after “Populorum Progressio,” the Pope reflects, “its basic theme, namely progress, remains an open question, made all the more acute and urgent by the current economic and financial crisis.”

According to the Holy Father, the principal new feature in today's world is “the explosion of worldwide interdependence, commonly known as globalization.”

This new reality demands new solutions, the Pope states, as he launches into the application of a humanistic synthesis onto our modern view of humanity.

“The development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side,” he states.

Reflecting on this idea of a single family, Benedict says, “One of the deepest forms of poverty a person can experience is isolation. If we look closely at other kinds of poverty, including material forms, we see that they are born from isolation, from not being loved or from difficulties in being able to love.”

However, this does not mean that Christians should adopt the view that all religions are equal, the Pope cautions.

“[W]hile it may be true that development needs the religions and cultures of different peoples, it is equally true that adequate discernment is needed. Religious freedom does not mean religious indifferentism, nor does it imply that all religions are equal. ... 'The whole man and all men' is the criterion for evaluating cultures and religions. Christianity, the religion of the 'God who has a human face,' contains this very criterion within itself.”

On the question of how to dispense aid, the Holy Father stresses that “the principle of subsidiarity must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa, since the former without the latter gives way to social privatism, while the latter without the former gives way to paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need.”

A humanistic synthesis must also be sought in addressing the phenomenon of migration, he states. The issue “requires bold, forward-looking policies of international cooperation if it is to be handled effectively,” policies that involve both the migrants' countries of origin and their countries of destination.

The financial system, after being revamped and corrected, “now needs to go back to being an instrument directed towards improved wealth creation and development,” Benedict XVI writes.

“Both the regulation of the financial sector, so as to safeguard weaker parties and discourage scandalous speculation, and experimentation with new forms of finance, designed to support development projects, are positive experiences that should be further explored and encouraged, highlighting the responsibility of the investor.”

The Pope also notes that “global interconnectedness has led to the emergence of a new political power, that of consumers and their associations. This is a phenomenon that needs to be further explored, as it contains positive elements to be encouraged as well as excesses to be avoided.”

Bringing Chapter Five to a close, the Holy Father makes a case for the “strongly felt need” to reform the United Nations and likewise of “economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.” Such a reform, he says, must “find innovative ways of implementing the principle of the responsibility to protect and of giving poorer nations an effective voice in shared decision-making.”

Measuring Real Progress

Moving on to how technology affects the genuine development of peoples, Pope Benedict devotes his sixth chapter to how real development has to begin at the individual level and cannot be accomplished by the “'wonders' of technology.”

“The development of peoples,” he explains, “is intimately linked to the development of individuals” and it “goes awry if humanity thinks it can re-create itself through the 'wonders' of technology, just as economic development is exposed as a destructive sham if it relies on the 'wonders' of finance in order to sustain unnatural and consumerist growth.”

The problem with modern techonolgies is that they only lead to one-dimensional development, the Pope writes.

“Technological development can give rise to the idea that technology is self-sufficient when too much attention is given to the 'how' questions, and not enough to the many 'why' questions underlying human activity.”

Real development that reaches all the dimensions of the individual cannot be “fully guaranteed through automatic or impersonal forces, whether they derive from the market or from international politics,” Benedict cautions. Rather, he says, “development is impossible without upright men and women, without financiers and politicians whose consciences are finely attuned to the requirements of the common good.”

One form of technology that can help promote true development is the media, because, as the Holy Father explains, it can make an important contribution towards the growth in communion of the human family and the ethos of society when it is used to “promote universal participation in the common search for what is just.”

In his conclusion, Pope Benedict states that, “Without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is.” In fact, he says that the greatest service to development is “a Christian humanism that enkindles charity and takes its lead from truth, accepting both as a lasting gift from God.”

On the other hand, he warns that the “ideological rejection of God and an atheism of indifference, oblivious to the Creator and at risk of becoming equally oblivious to human values, constitute some of the chief obstacles to development today. A humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism. Only a humanism open to the Absolute can guide us in the promotion and building of forms of social and civic life — structures, institutions, culture and ethos — without exposing us to the risk of becoming ensnared by the fashions of the moment.”

For Benedict XVI, the key to fostering the real development envisioned by Pope Paul VI is “Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us. For this reason, even in the most difficult and complex times, besides recognizing what is happening, we must above all else turn to God's love. Development requires attention to the spiritual life, a serious consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in Christ, reliance upon God's providence and mercy, love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace.”

To read Pope Benedict XVI's full encyclical, please visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=944

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Benedict XVI explains gifts and limitations of free market economy

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI's highly anticipated social encyclical, titled “Love in Truth,” takes on the complex issue of what the global economy should look like. In his analysis, real development can be achieved by seeking to convert individual people, and not the economy, which is only an instrument.

The global financial crisis places on display the “pernicious effects of sin,” the Holy Father said as he began the third chapter of his new encyclical. At the root of the current meltdown, the Pope explained that he finds three false convictions: that man is self-sufficient, that he can “successfully eliminate the evil present in history by his own action alone” and that the economy must be shielded from any moral influences.

Is the Market Evil?

While some people blame the market itself for the downward spiral into destitution, the Pope pointed out that the market is not a negative force by nature. Rather, the market can become a means of ruin when a certain ideology makes it so.

“Economy and finance, as instruments, can be used badly when those at the helm are motivated by purely selfish ends. Instruments that are good in themselves can thereby be transformed into harmful ones,” Benedict said.

“But it is man's darkened reason that produces these consequences, not the instrument per se. Therefore it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals, their moral conscience and their personal and social responsibility.”

Creating a Just Economy

The transformation of the global economy, Pope Benedict wrote, requires more than the basic exchange of goods of equal value. An economy that answers both the demands of distributive justice and social justice must incorporate into its structure “internal forms of solidarity and mutual trust.”

The current state of the world presents us with a “great challenge” that calls us to change our thinking and behavior, the Pope asserted. We must not only uphold “traditional principles of social ethics like transparency, honesty and responsibility” but we must make room in normal commercial relationships for “the principle of gratuitousness and the logic of gift as an expression of fraternity.”

“This is a human demand at the present time, but it is also demanded by economic logic. It is a demand both of charity and of truth,” the Pope taught.

“Economic life,” he noted, “undoubtedly requires contracts, in order to regulate relations of exchange between goods of equivalent value. But it also needs just laws and forms of redistribution governed by politics, and what is more, it needs works redolent of the spirit of gift. The economy in the global era seems to privilege the former logic, that of contractual exchange, but directly or indirectly it also demonstrates its need for the other two: political logic, and the logic of the unconditional gift.”

Benedict XVI described the incorporation of generosity and solidarity into the normal functioning of the economy as civilizing it. At the level of the individual business, the Pope said that it is “Without doubt, one of the greatest risks for businesses is that they are almost exclusively answerable to their investors, thereby limiting their social value.”
 
The Holy Father pointed toward a solution by saying that there is “a growing conviction that business management cannot concern itself only with the interests of the proprietors, but must also assume responsibility for all the other stakeholders who contribute to the life of the business: the workers, the clients, the suppliers of various elements of production, the community of reference.”

On the political level, Benedict XVI warned against investing abroad without taking into consideration the “long-term sustainability of the enterprise, its benefit to the real economy and attention to the advancement, in suitable and appropriate ways, of further economic initiatives in countries in need of development.”

Although some are claiming that today's integrated economy makes “the role of States redundant,” the  Pope argued that instead, “it commits governments to greater collaboration with one another.” In terms of the resolution of the current crisis, Benedict opined, “the State's role seems destined to grow, as it regains many of its competences. In some nations, moreover, the construction or reconstruction of the State remains a key factor in their development.”

Turning to globalization, the Pontiff stated that by itself it is “neither good nor bad” and that it provides an opportunity to further improve the unity of the human family.

“The processes of globalization,” he asserted, “suitably understood and directed, open up the unprecedented possibility of large-scale redistribution of wealth on a world-wide scale.” Nevertheless, he cautioned that if  this is badly directed, it could “lead to an increase in poverty and inequality, and could even trigger a global crisis. It is necessary to correct the malfunctions, some of them serious, that cause new divisions between peoples and within peoples, and also to ensure that the redistribution of wealth does not come about through the redistribution or increase of poverty: a real danger if the present situation were to be badly managed.”

“International cooperation,” Benedict XVI explained, “requires people who can be part of the process of economic and human development through the solidarity of their presence, supervision, training and respect. From this standpoint, international organizations might question the actual effectiveness of their bureaucratic and administrative machinery, which is often excessively costly. At times it happens that those who receive aid become subordinate to the aid-givers, and the poor serve to perpetuate expensive bureaucracies which consume an excessively high percentage of funds intended for development.”

Stewardship of the Environment

One of the most anticipated sections of the Pope's new encyclical deals with the environment. Saying that today one often hears people asserting that their rights be respected, the Holy Father cautioned that this must be balanced out by our understanding of our duties to our fellow man.

“Today the subject of development is also closely related to the duties arising from our relationship to the natural environment,” the Pope wrote. “The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.”

“However,” he warned, “it should also be stressed that it is contrary to authentic development to view nature as something more important than the human person. This position leads to attitudes of neo-paganism or a new pantheism — human salvation cannot come from nature alone, understood in a purely naturalistic sense.”

But it is also necessary “to reject the opposite position, which aims at total technical dominion over nature, because the natural environment is more than raw material to be manipulated at our pleasure; it is a wondrous work of the Creator containing a 'grammar' which sets forth ends and criteria for its wise use, not its reckless exploitation,” the Holy Father taught.
 
Reflecting on the experience of the world, Pope Benedict observed that, “The way humanity treats the environment influences the way it treats itself, and vice versa. This invites contemporary society to a serious review of its life-style, which, in many parts of the world, is prone to hedonism and consumerism, regardless of their harmful consequences.”
 
Noting that the “Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere,” Benedict said that “she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction. There is need for what might be called a human ecology, correctly understood.”

As countries around the world consider ways to care for God's Creation, Pope Benedict stressed that to protect nature, it is “not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient.

“These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society.”

Pope Benedict XVI finished his reflections on the need to care for the environment by pointing out that our “duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others.”

“It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society.”

To read Pope Benedict XVI's full encyclical, please visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=944

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Japanese Prime Minister meets with Pope, discusses country’s economy

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI met with Japan’s Prime Minister, Taro Aso, in an audience on Tuesday morning.  According to a press release from the Vatican, the two heads of state discussed the economic crisis in Japan as well as the Holy See’s commitment to Africa.

 

The communiqué also noted that “At a bilateral level, attention turned to the good relations that exist between Japan and the Holy See, as well as to the understanding and co-operation between Church and State.”

 

After his audience with the Pope, the Prime Minister met with Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.

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Bi-lateral meeting between Israel and Holy See set for Thursday

Rome, Italy, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - On July 9 officials from the Holy See and the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs will be meeting in Jerusalem for the first time since Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to the Holy Land earlier this year.

 

According to Vatican Radio, the bilateral commission will be discussing several items including:  measures to protect the patrimony of the Church in the Holy Land, especially at important shrines; judicial protection in cases of controversy; a fiscal policy for the Church; as well as issues related to the clergy and religious who work in the Holy Land.

 

 

At the conclusion of the gathering, the commission is expected to announce its agenda for upcoming meetings, the first of which is set for December 10.

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Sinaiticus Codex: 4th century biblical manuscript now available online

London, England, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - The British Library has announced that the pages of 4th century biblical manuscript called the Sinaiticus Codex have been scanned and posted online after four years of work.
 
The manuscript was written in Greek and dates to the time of the expansion of Christianity under Constantine.  It can now be viewed with translations in English, German and Russian at www.codexsinaiticus.org
 
For centuries it was kept at the monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai, until it was divided up in the 19th century and sent to the University of Leipzig library in Germany, the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg and the British Library. Some portions of the manuscript remained at the Mount Sinai monastery.
 
The project to digitalize the manuscript cost more than one million dollars.
 
The Codex, written by three scribes, also includes texts from the 1st century and is one of the best preserved manuscripts of the era. 

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Supreme Knight criticizes use of Pope's encyclical for political agendas

Denver, Colo., Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - The head of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, has responded to Pope Benedict’s newly-released encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” (Love in Truth), by denouncing attempts to use it to further political agendas rather than viewing it from the Church’s comprehensive understanding of the human person.

In an interview with CNA on Tuesday morning, Carl Anderson, leader of the world’s largest lay Catholic organization, decried the “spin masters who will try to spin the encyclical in one direction or the other” and emphasized that “the Catholic reader should read the encyclical in its entirety” in order to understand the underlying ethical and anthropological foundations that guide it.

“What this encyclical makes very clear is that there is a consistent ethics in the Catholic Church because there is a consistent view of the human person,” Anderson told CNA, explaining that this consistency is seen in Pope Benedict’s assertion that social issues cannot be separated from life issues.

While the idea that we are “morally responsible for one another” as part of “one human family” is not new to Christianity, Anderson said that the Pope challenges us in this encyclical “to take this seriously as a fundamental understanding of what it means to be a Christian.”

Anderson also responded to some analyses of the encyclical that try to describe it as promoting either a liberal or conservative political viewpoint by saying, “I think that’s precisely the wrong way to look at the encyclical, and I think that Benedict would be very disappointed if that’s the kind of analysis we give it.” 

“What we ought to be doing is reading the encyclical and seeing what we can learn from it, what we might change as a way of doing our work as a result from it, and not to see whether or not it validates one position,” he added.
 
Anderson explained that when we divide the encyclical or use it to justify one position over another, “we fall into an error that I think Benedict himself would be the first one to attempt to correct.”

He observed that the issues dealt with by the Pope, such as defense of marriage, protection of human life, and a call to reform the United Nations, are not really questions of the political right or left.  Rather, they flow from a comprehensive and consistent understanding of the human person.

In addition, Anderson noted that many Americans may see the Pope’s call for “just redistribution” as a left-leaning proposal, but when viewed in a global perspective, the idea takes on a new light.

“When you look in Africa where you see dictators that are presidents of countries that retire from office with billions of dollars in their Swiss bank accounts while their people are living on one dollar a day, is that just redistribution? Is that a question of the left or is that a question of the right?”

Explaining that these topics are human issues rather than those belonging to any political party, Anderson said that discussions of right and left have no place in analyzing the Pope’s encyclical and putting it into practice.

“I think Christians, particularly Catholics, have to move beyond that if they want to truly see with the eyes of the Gospel,” he told CNA. “Because there was a Gospel before there was a left and a right, and there will be a Gospel after.”

Calling on Catholics to read “Caritas in Veritate” and incorporate it into their lives, Anderson highlighted the encyclical’s sense of urgency. “We really do have a moral obligation to help those in need,” he said, adding that this obligation is comprehensive, and “therefore, not only is the ethic consistent, it has to be applied consistently in all the things we do.”

“We cannot contain that responsibility to Sunday morning,” Anderson said as he invited Catholics to make the Pope’s words a reality in their everyday lives. “Let’s put it into practice!  Let’s find ways to make the encyclical count,” he said, encouraging people to leave behind their divisions and unite to put Benedict’s words into action. 

“Those in government have a responsibility, those in the private sector have a responsibility, and we ought to work together from a consistent ethic and a consistent attitude to try to solve these problems.”

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City of L'Aquila symbolizes 'wounded humanity' crying for just solutions, says archbishop

L'Aquila, Italy, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - On the eve of the G-8 summit which will take place in his city, Archbishop Giuseppe Molinari of L’Aquila said the earthquake-ravaged city “could symbolize wounded humanity."

"It is a warning to the G-8 leaders that the meeting should not be reduced to a catwalk but rather that it be a starting point for addressing the problems of the world and finding just solutions that benefit those who are suffering,” Molinari said.
 
Speaking to the Italian bishops' news agency SIR, the archbishop alerted that, “There are objectives such as the eradication of poverty by 2015 that are at risk of not being reached.”  “We can only pray that the meeting will result in decisions that benefit those who are poorest,” he added.
 
No doubt “this meeting puts our city at the center of the world’s attention,” the archbishop remarked.  “I think this will be an advantage because it will have positive effects in the social and economic realms, as well as in the reconstruction of the region’s infrastructure. 
 
The G-8 leaders will have the chance to see some of the reconstruction that has taken place since the April earthquake that took the lives of more than 100 and left thousands injured and homeless, the archbishop said.

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Life issue of primary importance for Colombia, says bishop

Bogotá, Colombia, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - The president of the Bishops’ conference of Colombia, Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, said this week the issue of life is the “key” for confronting the country’s political, economic, cultural and religious reality.” The issue is especially important since modernity has “a new understanding of life that does not always bring positive consequences has emerged,” he said.
 
During the opening of the bishops’ 87th plenary assembly, the archbishop criticized the relativism of today’s world that disputes the “value of human life—up to now considered absolute,” and the emergence of values that are at odds with the true meaning of life.
 
Archbishop Salazar recalled the need to work “for a life of dignity, a life worthy of living,” and he noted with sadness the expansion of “a true culture—or rather—anti-culture of death.”
 
He went on to reaffirm the bishops’ role in confronting the problems facing Colombia. “We must not forget for one moment that the Church exists to serve in this way just as Christ did.”
 
For this reason, he said, the bishops will always be attentive to the “cry of all those whose lives are scorned, violated, or eliminated because of the injustice and violence the country is experiencing in general.  We will especially heed the voice of those who have no voice in order to be their voice.”
 
The bishops will travel to the city of Chiquinquira on July 9 for a Mass to launch the Great Continental Mission in Colombia.

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Italian bishop: The Church says no to sexual degradation and yes to purity

Rome, Italy, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - The secretary general of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Mariano Crociata, said in a recent homily that the Church does not have any kind of contempt for the human body and sexuality, but that she does say “no to moral degradation and to contempt for modesty, sobriety and self-control.”
 
The bishop made his comments July 6 during a Mass on the feast of St. Maria Goretti at the house where the saint was martyred.  He called the young saint “a witness of fidelity to one’s conscience and to God in the most extreme consequences and paid for with martyrdom.”
 
The testimony of Maria Goretti, who was stabbed 14 times in defense of her purity and who forgave her transgressor before dying, is still timely today and shows the need for rediscovering “words that are in disuse today, such as purity, chastity, virginity, which we struggle to say and that make us blush,” Bishop Crociata said.
 
And this is the paradox of our time, he went on, that today “we act and speak of things that ought to embarrass us, and we end up embarrassed of what is true, noble, just, pure, kind and honorable, of what is virtuous and merits praise.”
 
The example of Maria Goretti, the bishop said, “reminds us of certain fundamental human and Christian truths: the dignity and identity of the person, the grandeur of the body, the kindness of sexuality, the nature of freedom.  There is therefore no contempt for the body; there is no taboo about sexuality, no fear of freedom.”
 
Bishop Crociata noted the devastating fact of the “daily spectacle of moral degradation” that is spread through the media, and urged young people to understand that “the body is not an object to be used indiscriminately.”

“No one should think that there is no grave misbehavior in this area, especially when minors are involved.”  “Therefore we should question all the harm caused and consequences that result from having affected the innocence of entire new generations,” the bishop said.

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Malawi mourns Italian builder who devoted retirement to missionary work

Lilongwe, Malawi, Jul 7, 2009 (CNA) - Malawians have mourned a retired Italian builder who died of malaria after spending his retirement helping to build missions in Africa.

Giacomo Marcialli, 64, was from Lurano province of Bergamo in Italy, Fides reports. He arrived in Malawi last year to work with the Malawi nel Cuore Association, in which his sister Giuditta is also a member. He helped enlarge the Namandaje hospital in the district of Mangochi.

“After years of hard work, he had discovered his vocation: to help Africa, to make his personal contribution to the missions,” the Italian Monfort missionary Fr. Piergiorgio Gamba told Fides.

Fr. Gamba, who has been a missionary in Malawi for years, reported that Marcialli had helped with several missionary projects in Cameroon before coming to Malawi.

In Malawi, Marcialli was known as Marcello. Before his death last month, he helped prepare festivities for the ordination of Fr. Wilfred Sumani.

“And it was on that very day that he began his Calvary due to an attack of malaria which eventually killed him,” Fr. Gamba said.

On June 29, following a vigil and a night of prayer, the Christians of Namandanje offered to accompany Marcialli’s body on the long journey to the church of St. Paul’s Seminary in Mangochi. The seminary church is where funerals are held for missionaries and priests of the diocese.

“The church was too small and the school children overflowed into in the seminary portico. Boys and girls came to say farewell to a travelling companion whom they had hardly known, because he had lived in a small church far away from Mangochi, and whom today they hailed as a brother,” Fr. Gamba said.

“This is the soul of Africa. This is the richness of its villages.”

Bishop of Mangochi Alessandro Pagani presided at the liturgy with all the priests of the diocese, Fides reports.

The bishop thanked the faithful for welcoming the missionary.

“He was not one of your sons, you hardly knew him, he spoke only a few words of your language... why have you come to his funeral? This is the power of the faith, this is what it means to be Christians,” the bishop said.

Fr. Gamba noted that Marcialli was buried in the same cemetery as former Bishop of Mangochi Luciano Nervi and priests of the diocese.

“Giacomo is the first lay volunteer to rest in peace with bishops and priests. The impossibility to have members of his family here and above all his request to be buried here in Malawi, was seen by the Catholics of Mangochi as a great gift.

“These young people are anxious to learn the lesson Giacomo left as his legacy. They are the Church of 2009, the Year of the Synod for Africa.

“Thanks to Giacomo who believed in them. Thanks to this Church, continually new.”

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October 26, 2014

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Mt 22:34-40

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Mt 22:34-40

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