Archive of July 27, 2009

Perpetual adoration returns to Boston after 40 year absence

Boston, Mass., Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) - To see the image of God in Boston, a passerby need only look up


Two billboards featuring the Eucharist displayed in a monstrance tower over the streets in Brighton and East Boston. The words under the image read, “The Son’s rays for your soul.”


These advertisements are meant to get the word out about the return of perpetual adoration to Boston after a 40-year absence. St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine on Boylston Street will mark the start of adoration with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley on Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption.


From then on, the Eucharist will be exposed in a monstrance all day, every day, apart from regularly scheduled Mass times. Currently, the shrine offers adoration six hours or more daily.


Tim Van Damm, coordinator of the effort, said the grace at the already vibrant St. Clement community will be multiplied.


“Anytime the Lord is present 24-hours a day, seven days a week, people are changed,” he said. “This is a way to build spiritually and bring people together in prayer.”


Van Damm said that St. Clement, a community he has been active in since 2000, was a natural choice for perpetual adoration because it is a eucharistic shrine.


Cardinal Richard Cushing made St. Clement into a eucharistic shrine, staffed by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, in 1945. The sisters maintained perpetual adoration from 1945 to the late 1960s. The Oblates of the Virgin Mary began staffing the shrine in 1976.


The effort to bring perpetual adoration back to Boston is a direct response to the call of Pope Benedict XVI to have spaces dedicated to prayers for vocations and the sanctity of priests during the Year for Priests which began in June and runs to June 2010. St. Clement’s will be the designated site in the Central Region of the archdiocese.


Van Damm said the inspiration for his involvement came from his own need to adore the Lord in the Eucharist. Van Damm said adoration has “re-ignited” his faith and given him much peace.


Marie Baranko, another member of the St. Clement’s community, agreed. Before she came to the shrine, Baranko said she did not believe in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. Raised Catholic, she had never before seen adoration. After being invited to the shrine by a roommate, she attended adoration and recognized Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.


“When you seek the truth, God honors that,” she said. “He reveals Himself to you.”

Her experience has also resulted in the discernment of her vocation. She will be entering the Sisters of Life order in September. She will be praying for the success of perpetual adoration at St. Clement’s from New York, she said.


“The shrine has played a major role in my vocation,” she said. “It’s centered around the Eucharist.”


She hopes that perpetual adoration at St. Clement’s will help others to “fall more in love with the Lord.”


Director of the shrine, Father Peter Grover, OMV said perpetual adoration has a “powerful effect” wherever it is instituted.


“Any church that emphasizes prayer is going to affect the Church of Boston as well as the community,” he said. “It will be a big grace in the city.”


In order to invite everyone to adoration at St. Clement’s, in addition to the billboards organizers are sending e-mails and posting signs in neighboring parishes. Van Damm has been a guest on two national radio shows and will be featured on CatholicTV’s “This is the Day” on Aug. 4 at 10:30 a.m. Organizers also hope to be able to buy advertising space on the MBTA’s Green Line subway trains.


Van Damm said the costly advertisements are “a leap of faith.”


For more information, to download a sign-up sheet or to donate to the effort, visit the Web site at


Printed with permission from The Boston Pilot.


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Benedict XVI emphasizes importance of relationship with God

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the greatness of God’s mercy and forgiveness at the Cathedral of Aosta, Italy, where he celebrated Vespers Friday afternoon.

The Pope spoke to a crowd of 400 priests, religious, and lay faithful about the importance of keeping God at the center of one’s life. In his homily, delivered without notes, he explained that if "our relationship with God is not living, if it is not lived, then none of our other relationships can take their correct form."

He went on to say that this is true for society as well as individuals. If we try to "do without God, if God is absent, we lack the compass ... to show us the path, the direction we must follow," he said.

"We must bring the truth of God back into the world, make Him known," the Holy Father said. "Evangelization consists precisely in the distant God becoming close, in God no longer being far off but near, in this 'known-unknown' finally making Himself known and revealing His face."

Benedict continued to say that "God's omnipotence is not an arbitrary power, because God is Good, He is Truth. Hence God can do everything but He cannot act against goodness, He cannot act against truth, He cannot act against love and freedom, because He Himself is goodness, love and true freedom."

"God is the custodian of our freedom, of love and of truth. This eye that looks down is not an evil eye watching over us, but the presence of a love that never abandons us," the Pope explained.

The Holy Father also emphasized that "the pinnacle of God's power is mercy and forgiveness." He contrasted this idea with the modern notion of political, economic or military power, recalling Stalin’s question, "How many divisions does the Pope have?" as being the typical modern understanding of power.

But God’s true power is "the power of grace and mercy," the Pope said. "God has suffered and in the Son suffers with us," he explained. "Thus He shows true divine power. He wanted to suffer with us and for us. We are never abandoned in our sufferings."

This suffering was necessary to save the world, Benedict continued, "because in the world there exists an ocean of evil, of injustice, of hatred and of violence, and the many victims of hatred and injustice have the right to see justice done."

Therefore, "God must enter into this world and oppose the ocean of injustice with a greater ocean of goodness and love," he concluded.

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Pope jokes about fractured wrist in Aosta

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) - At the conclusion of Vespers at the Cathedral of Aosta on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI greeted the more than 20,000 faithful gathered outside the church and joked about his fractured wrist, wishing them “a pleasant vacation like the one I am having…but without any accidents.”


During his greeting the faithful gathered outside the cathedral, the Holy Father said, “I would simply like to say ‘thank you’ for your reception, for your affection and sympathy.  We are all here united in prayer, and we are united in the friendship that the Lord gives us.”


The Pope expressed his wishes for a “pleasant vacation, like the one I am having, but without any accidents.  Thank you! I send my greetings to all,” he said.

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Vatican: Holy Father fell while searching for light switch

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) - A Vatican spokesman has said that Pope Benedict XVI was looking for a light switch in his bedroom when he fell and broke his wrist while on vacation July 16, reports the Associated Press.

Papal spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained Monday how the incident happened during the Pope’s Alpine vacation at the mountain house in Les Combes, near the border of France.

Lombardi told Sky TG24 TV that the Pope "stumbled against a leg of his bed while searching for the switch in the unfamiliar room," reported the AP.

The Pope did not call for help and wanted to celebrate Mass as usual the next morning, despite having a "swollen and painful" right wrist that prompted a call to a doctor.

Doctors say the fracture is healing well and that the 82-year-old pontiff is preparing to return to the Vatican on Wednesday.

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Pope Benedict laicizes priest connected to alleged Medjugorje apparitions

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) -

Pope Benedict XVI has approved the laicization of Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, a priest leading the claims that the Virgin Mary has been appearing in the Bosnian town of Medjugorje. The priest has reportedly decided to leave the priesthood and his religious order.

The action follows an investigation into concerns surrounding the alleged apparitions, the Mail Online reports.

When the apparitions allegedly began in 1981, Fr. Vlasic was named as the "creator" of the phenomenon by the local Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, Pavao Zanic.

Fr. Vlasic became the "spiritual advisor" of the six children involved in the supposed apparitions. The children now say that the Virgin Mary has visited them 40,000 times over the last 28 years.

On January 25, 2008, Fr. Vlasic was suspended by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

An inquiry was made into allegations that he exaggerated stories of the Virgin Mary's appearance, taught "dubious doctrine," manipulated consciences, engaged in "suspect mysticism" and disobeyed legitimately issued orders.  He was also investigated for sexual immorality after he allegedly made a nun pregnant, the Daily Mail says.

Fr. Vlasic was sent to a monastery in Lombardy, Italy and was forbidden to communicate with anyone without the permission of his superior. He was also required to take a course of theological-spiritual formation and make a solemn profession of faith.

On Sunday it emerged that Fr. Vlasic has chosen to leave the priesthood and his religious order.

Pope Benedict approved of his laicization in March, thus removing his priestly status.

According to the Daily Mail, several of the alleged Medjugorje seers now live in wealthy conditions and own expensive cars. One seer, Ivan Dragicevic, has married a former American beauty pageant queen.

The shrine at Medjugorje has attracted an estimated 30 million pilgrims. Millions of Catholics hope the Vatican will one day legitimize the alleged apparitions.

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Church does not approve of therapeutic abortion, reiterates diocesan official in Nicaragua

Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) - The Pastoral Vicar of the Archdiocese of Managua, Msgr. Miguel Mantica, said last week that the Catholic Church does not support or approve of abortion, nor does it approve of so-called "therapeutic" abortion.

Msgr. Mantica’s comments came in response to a report by the newspaper La Prensa, which he said manipulated recent comments about the subject by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi.

In statements to CNA, he said the paper erroneous claimed the Church supports a move to legalize "therapeutic" abortion in Nicaragua, and then cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states that "human life must be absolutely respected and protected from the moment of conception. That is a key point."

Human life "cannot be violated in any way, much less by committing homicide, even if during the pre-natal phase, when the child is still in his mother’s womb," Msgr. Mantica continued. "This is a constant teaching of the Church that goes back to the first centuries when abortion was always condemned unambiguously. This is a point that has always been very clear," he said.

Responding to the newspaper’s insinuation that a recent article in L’Osservatore Romano suggested a change in Church teaching on abortion, Msgr. Mantica said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently stated that the Church "has not changed nor can she change" her teaching on abortion.

While a woman’s choice to undergo an abortion may entail tragic or painful dimensions, he said, "We cannot therefore justify the killing of any person."

He also pointed out that the real reason behind the push for therapeutic abortion is to get abortion on demand legalized.

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Chilean rector calls Caritas in Veritate ‘essential reading’

Santiago, Chile, Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) - The rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Pedro Rosso, said last week that the new encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, is essential to read in order to defend the document against misguided media reports.


In remarks about the general perspective of the encyclical, Rosso pointed out that few in the media have attempted to review the document in its entirety, focusing instead on one or two aspects they consider relevant and of most interest to the public. “As a result, it is very difficult to capture the full message Benedict XVI is conveying in his new encyclical,” he said.


Rosso said the document’s message goes well beyond the social realm and “directly challenges Christians about how we live our faith.”


“The Pope achieves this goal by confronting us with the problem of development and subtlety asking us, ‘What have you done for your brother?’ At the same he points out with conviction and hope that building a better world is a task we will only be able to carry out if we are capable of transmitting the love and truth of Christ.”


Caritas in Veritate encourages humanity to work together on a plan centered on the good, on truth and justice, and it strongly proclaims the need for fraternal communion based on freedom and mutual responsibility,” Rosso said.

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Atlanta welcomes new auxiliary bishop

Atlanta, Ga., Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has named Monsignor Luis Rafael Zarama, 50, as the auxiliary bishop of Atlanta.

The announcement was made this morning by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta who expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father for responding to his petition for assistance in serving the rapidly expanding archdiocese.

Noting the continued growth of the Catholic population in Atlanta, he observed, "This blessing of an expanding population also means that there are many more occasions and situations that require the presence of a bishop."

"I know that Bishop-elect Zarama will share with me the Episcopal service of all of our people. He has already proven himself a generous colleague and a highly-respected member of the priests of this local Church," the archbishop said.

Zarama also expressed his excitement to the Holy Father for his appointment, as well as to Archbishop Gregory for his continued guidance and support. He said he sees the assignment as a "new opportunity to serve the people of God" and looks forward to the challenge of aiding the archbishop and serving the needs of the people.

The bishop-elect said he is eager to show God’s love to the people of Atlanta. "It is the hunger and the thirst of the people to know the truth about our faith, and the most important thing is how we can reach them with the message of the Gospel, that is, the message of love," he said.

Archbishop Gregory described Zarama as "beloved by both the Spanish-speaking community and the English-speaking community," observing that this knowledge of both languages and cultures will be a great tool by which the bishop-elect can serve the people of the archdiocese.

Gregory also mentioned that after working as a parish priest in Atlanta for a number of years, Zarama is already familiar with the archdiocese, and brings with him a love for Atlanta as he enters his new position. "He has grown to know the archdiocese in a broad perspective," the archbishop said.

Bishop-elect Zarama, a native of Colombia, was ordained a priest in Atlanta in 1993 and became an American citizen in 2000. He has been the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Atlanta since 2006, a role which he will continue after being ordained bishop. He was named a chaplain of His Holiness and received the title "monsignor" in 2007.

The Episcopal Ordination of Bishop-Elect Luis R. Zarama will take place on September 29 at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta.

The Archdiocese of Atlanta contains close to 800,000 Catholics, about 11% of the six million people living in the metro area. The Archdiocese includes 95 parishes and missions, as well as 279 priests.

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Pope Benedict names three new Vietnamese bishops

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) -

A month after he expressed hope for a "healthy collaboration" between the Catholic Church and the Vietnamese government, Pope Benedict XVI has named three new bishops for Vietnam.

A Saturday statement from the Vatican announced that the Pope has chosen Msgr. Joseph Vu Duy Thong to be bishop of Phan Thiet, Msgr. Pierre Nguyen Van De to be bishop of Thai Binh and Rev. Joseph Nguyen Nang to be bishop of Phat Diem.

Two of the appointments were made to fill the offices of retiring bishops, the Associated Press reports.

There are about six million Catholics in Vietnam, one of the largest Catholic populations in Asia. Tensions between the faithful and the government have existed for years, with the government monitoring religious groups and insisting upon approving church appointments.

It was not clear whether the government had voiced any opinion on the latest appointments.

Many Catholics are also seeking the return of church land and buildings confiscated by the government in previous decades. The conflicts have generated negative and false reports in the state-run media and have resulted in beatings and arrests by police and violence from government-supported street gangs.

According to the Associated Press, relations between the Vatican and the Vietnamese government have begun to improve. In a 2007 visit to the Vatican Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung became the highest Vietnamese official to meet with Pope Benedict.

Vietnamese Cardinal Pham Minh Man has said that Vietnam’s president will meet with the Pope at the Vatican in December.

Catholics in Vietnam hope that the meeting could lead to diplomatic ties and an invitation to Pope Benedict to make a pilgrimage to their country.

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Preparations continue in Missouri for popular Marian Days celebration

St. Louis, Mo., Jul 27, 2009 (CNA) - Carthage, Missouri is preparing for its 32nd celebration of Marian Days, an annual event popular among Vietnamese Catholics for its opportunities to worship and to reunite with friends and family. Between 50,000 and 70,000 are expected for the event, one of the largest Catholic gatherings in the United States.

Carthage police use a five-page checklist to prepare for the event which begins August 6. According to the Joplin Globe, many attendees stay in Carthage overnight, camping on or around the campus of the Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix (CMC).  

Residents around the CMC campus have been surveyed to determine if they will allow campers in their yards. According to the Joplin Globe, some attendees have formed long-time friendships with Carthage residents after camping in their yards each year.

Residents also enjoy the sights of the festival and eat in the food tents set up by Catholic churches and organizations to raise money.

Law enforcement officers who supplement Carthage police as security have also been scheduled.

“Friday and Saturday nights when the crowds are the largest, we’ll have 30 to 35 officers,” Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan said. “There’s a lot of other events where you could have 60,000 people, there’s no way 30 cops could handle it. It says a lot about the festival itself.”

The Carthage City Council is considering a resolution to accommodate the celebration by allowing the use of loudspeakers after midnight on Friday and Saturday, and a Saturday parade followed by fireworks.

Chief Dagnan said that CMC officials believe the economic downturn could discourage attendance, but he added that numbers could increase if families make the event their annual vacation.

“If you talk to places like [entertainment tourism center] Branson... their activity is up, because people are making shorter trips,” he remarked, according to the Joplin Globe. “That could happen with Marian Days, but when you have 60,000 people, 3,000 more or so aren’t that noticeable.”

While an entire neighborhood is blocked off for the event and many people are inconvenienced, Chief Dagnan said there are “very few complaints.”

“A few do get upset, but the majority look forward to it,” he reported.

The Marian Days festival began in the late 1970s after more than 185 Vietnamese refugees from Saigon were granted the use of the vacant Carthage seminary.

Last year’s celebrations were marred by tragedy when a charter bus of Vietnamese Catholics returning to Houston from Marian Days skidded off a freeway overpass in Texas. Over a dozen died and about forty were injured in the crash.

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