Washington D.C., Oct 5, 2009 (CNA) - One day before the opening of the Supreme Court's next term, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, issued a plea for the rights of the unborn at the 56th Annual "Red Mass," celebrated yesterday at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington D.C. The Mass was attended by six Supreme Court justices.
The Mass is an initiative of the John Carroll Society, a group of Catholic legal professionals, and has been held at the cathedral since 1953. The celebration of the Eucharist was presided over by Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington D.C., and the homily was delivered by Cardinal DiNardo.
Five of the six Roman Catholics on the high court — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito — attended the Mass. The sixth Catholic judge, Justice Clarence Thomas, could not attend.
The list of attendees also included Justice Stephen Breyer, who is Jewish, Vice President Joe Biden, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Speaking to the lawmakers, lawyers and justices, Cardinal DiNardo said, "The many smoldering wicks are our 'clients' but more than clients. They are poor and wealthy, confused and lucid, polite and impolite. In some cases the clients are voiceless for they lack influence."
In a clear reference to the unborn, the cardinal added, "in others cases they are literally voiceless, not yet with tongues and even without names, and require our most careful attention and radical support."
"The Word of God has taken an initiative in speaking and the response is certainly to hear and understand. This contemplative dimension, however, also leads to obedience, an obedience of Faith. Graced in this manner, we respond in our personal lives of faith and witness and in our professional lives too, not only for the good of our souls but also for the sake of our professions that must show God’s justice in the world," the Texas cardinal said.
"The Spirit,” he continued, “descended upon the Son of God become a son of man, so that he could abide in the human race and thus 'be at home among people' and renew them. This beautiful familial image that places the work of the Holy Spirit as one who transforms from the old man, frequently forgetful, to the new life of every man in Christ is also a great picture summary of what we have heard today in the voice of the Readings."
"May that voice of the Word of God touch our hearts and tongues in the judicial year that lies ahead," the cardinal prayed as he concluded his homily.
The title of "Red Mass" dates to the 13th century and comes from the red vestments worn by the celebrants. The Mass is conducted to ask for guidance for those who seek justice.
South Bend, Ind., Oct 5, 2009 (CNA) - Bobby Schindler, the brother of the late Teri Schiavo, delivered a speech today at the University of Notre Dame Law School about the judicial activism that led to his sister's death in 2005.
Schindler kicked off the law school’s Jus Vitae speaker series with his talk titled, “Schiavo: Activist Courts and Judicial Murder.” His sister, who suffered from brain damage, died after her husband obtained a court order and had her feeding tube removed.
In addition to sponsoring pro-life speakers, the non-profit student association is committed to promoting the sanctity of all human life by researching pro-life issues, publishing a newsletter for the law school, volunteering at local centers for women and praying outside abortion clinics.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oct 5, 2009 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of St. Sebastian of Rio de Janeiro issued a press release this week in which Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta thanked God for the city’s selection as host of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Archbishop Tempesta said, “We are very happy with this celebration and we hope that starting now peace, harmony and joy in our people are promoted even more.”
“May the blessing of the Redeemer and the intercession of St. Sebastian accompany us. Long live Rio 2016!” he exclaimed.
Well-aware of the fact that Rio de Janiero is the most violent city in Latin America, Archbishop Tempesta said a few days ahead of the vote, “Sports are an opportunity both to spread peace and to see to that is possible for people who are different to live side by side with each other.”
Vatican City, Oct 5, 2009 (CNA) -
The Synod for Africa held its first full meeting on Monday morning at the Vatican, with 226 of the Synod Fathers and the Pope present. The Holy Father told the assembly that while it is important to gather statistical data to understand the problems facing the African Church, the most important analytical approach is to “see everything in the light of God.”
The Pontiff began the session by making some brief opening remarks in which he referred to the problems of Africa and to the goals of reconciliation, justice and peace.
"It is right to carry out empirical studies," he said, "yet practical analyses, though conducted with precision and competence, do not indicate the true problems of the world if we do not see everything in the light of God."
However, Pope Benedict cautioned, "our analyses are deficient if we do not realize that behind the injustice of corruption, and all such things, is an unjust heart, a closure towards God and thus a falsification of the fundamental relationship upon which all other relationships are founded."
The assembly was then addressed by Cardinal Francis Arinze, followed by Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, who explained the activities of the council of the secretariat general since the last synodal assembly (First Special Assembly for Africa of 1994) and illustrated the preparations for the current synod.
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana, then took the floor and gave a report on the current state of the Church in Africa. Cardinal Turkson is serving as the relator general for the synod, which involves facilitating and moderating the discussions.
Cardinal Turkson recalled the history of the last synod on Africa in 1994, saying that the meeting “inspired a message of hope for Africa” when it was confronting a dark chapter of its history.
Fourteen years later, the cardinal said, “the Church still bears some of the 'lights and shadows' that occasioned the first Synod, it has also 'changed considerably. This new reality requires a thorough study in view of renewed evangelization efforts, which call for a more in-depth analysis of specific topics, important for the present and future of the Catholic Church on the great continent.'"
The leader of the Church in Cape Coast described the positive growth of the Church but noted that it is confined to the 48 Sub-Saharan nations of Africa. In addition, the Church is being confronted with failures in “fidelity and commitment of some clergy and religious to their vocations,” as well as the “loss of members to new religious movements and sects."
Despite the mixed results, Cardinal Turkson noted that there is “an emerging continental desire on the part of African leaders themselves for an 'African renaissance.'” There is, he explained, a radical relationship between governance and economy: “bad governance begets bad economy. This explains the paradox of the poverty of a continent which is certainly the most richly endowed in the world.”
Another phenomenon that the Church must vigilant about is the “global emergence of lifestyles, values, attitudes, associations, etc.” that destabilize society. “These attack the basic props of society (marriage and family), diminish its human capital (migration, drug-pushing and arms' trade) and endanger life on the planet," the cardinal said.
"It is clear that, although the continent and the Church on the continent are not yet out of the woods, they can still modestly rejoice in their achievement and positive performance, and begin to disclaim stereotypical generalizations about its conflicts, famine, corruption and bad governance,” he stated.
"The truth is that Africa has been burdened for too long by the media with everything that is loathsome to humankind; and it is time to 'shift gears' and to have the truth about Africa told with love, fostering the development of the continent which would lead to the well-being of the whole world.”
The solution proposed by the Ghanaian cardinal was the same as Pope Benedict's, namely, to pursue “reconciliation, justice and peace, made particularly Christian by their rootedness in love and mercy.”
This path, he said, “would restore wholeness to the Church-Family of God on the continent, and that the latter, as salt of the earth and light of the world, would heal 'wounded human hearts, the ultimate hiding place for the causes of everything destabilizing the African continent.'”
The task demanded of the African Church, Cardinal Turkson explained, is to sow seeds of life on a continent where some people “live under the shadow of conflict and death.” “She must preserve the continent and its people from the putrefying effects of hatred, violence, injustice and ethnocentrism. The Church must purify and heal minds and hearts of corrupt and evil ways; and administer her life-giving Gospel message to keep the continent and its people alive."
Irondale, Ala., Oct 5, 2009 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal to Mother Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network and also EWTN executive Deacon Bill Steltemeier. The medal is the highest honor the Pope can bestow upon laity and religious.
Bishop of Birmingham Robert J. Baker conferred the awards in a brief ceremony following Sunday benediction at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama.
Noting that yesterday was the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Bishop Baker recalled the lasting impact that the Italian saint made on the renewal of the Church. He then remarked that “We also have the privilege of acknowledging the contributions to our Church of another person in the great Franciscan tradition, whose link to St. Francis is through St. Clare … Mother Angelica.”
Mother Mary Angelica, 86, is a Poor Clare Nun of Perpetual Adoration who founded Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, Alabama in 1961. She began EWTN in a garage on the monastery property in 1981. In 1999 she relocated the monastery to the grounds of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville.
Deacon R. William Steltemeier, 80, is a former Nashville, Tenn. attorney who left his law practice to join Mother Angelica’s fledgling television network. He served as EWTN’s president and now serves as chairman of the network’s Board of Governors.
Commenting in his homily at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery on Sunday, Bishop Baker said that the medal is “a significant acknowledgement by our Holy Father, of Mother's labors of love in support of our Church.”
“By giving awards the Church is not saying people or institutions are perfect, but we are saying that Mother Angelica, through this network, has made a significant contribution to the new evangelization heralded and promoted by recent Popes,” the Bishop of Birmingham said.
“The Holy Father’s recognition of Mother Angelica and Deacon Bill Steltemeier is a much-deserved honor,” Michael P. Warsaw, EWTN President and CEO said in a statement. “It acknowledges the tremendous faith, hard work and incredible sacrifices that each of them have made throughout the years in founding and building up the Network.”
“Their recognition is also a great honor for EWTN and is a clear sign of the importance of the Network’s mission for the Church and the Pope. We are grateful to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and to Bishop Baker for this honor,” Warsaw continued.
EWTN is available in over 150 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. In its mission it uses direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM & FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio, an internet website and a publishing arm. EWTN says it is the largest religious media network in the world.
Paris, France, Oct 5, 2009 (CNA) - In his message to the participants of the Plenary Assembly for the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe which met in Paris last week, Pope Benedict XVI said, “There needs to be a correct distinction between Church and State, without separating the Church from social and cultural life.”
In the message signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy Father recalled that “the Church is faithful to her mission of truth in support of a society that is worthy of man, his dignity and his vocation. This fidelity toward man, created in God’s image, demands fidelity to the truth.”
This fidelity to the truth, the Pope continued, is what makes integral human development possible as a “remedy to the various inequities that the world today is experiencing.”
The Church, he stated, “proclaims this truth through her teaching and her social doctrine. Thus, she contributes to the building of that universal city of God towards which the human family is advancing.”
After the Pope’s message was read, Cardinal Peter Erdö, president of the Council, expressed the full communion of the bishops of Europe with the Holy Father and said the Church would continue boldly proclaiming “the truth of the Gospel in settings that are less open to this proclamation.”
Referring later to the constant attacks against the Church, Cardinal Erdö said, “The Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe will continue working to defend and promote freedom and truth, which are conditions for sincere dialogue with the social communications media as well.”
Paris, France, Oct 5, 2009 (CNA) - During his remarks at the opening of the Plenary Assembly of the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe, the prefect for the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, referred to Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical “Caritas en veritate” and said, “Only faith and reason together will save man.”
In his speech the cardinal said, “Reason always needs to be purified by the faith and at the same time religion always needs to be purified by reason in order to show its authentic human face.”
He also stressed the importance of promoting an appropriate relationship between Church and State, “a healthy secularism that allows co-existence and collaboration between faith and reason, so that they mutually help one another.”
The current crisis affecting Europe, Cardinal Re said, “constitutes a challenge” for believers, who must not yield in their efforts to save “non-negotiable values such as life, the family, the centrality of the human person, freedom of education and of religion.”
For this reason, he stressed, “the European Union must not be merely a market for economic exchange or a place of free circulation, but rather it must become an authentic community of nations that desire to unite their destinies and live in justice and solidarity, promoting what Paul VI called the civilization of love.”
Irondale, Ala., Oct 5, 2009 (CNA) - After Mother Angelica and Deacon Bill Steltemeier were given an award by Pope Benedict, Mike Warsaw, the CEO of EWTN, and Raymond Arroyo told CNA that they are overjoyed and grateful that Mother's work is being recognized.
Speaking to CNA, Mike Warsaw said, "I am very happy and excited for both Mother Angelica and Deacon Bill Steltemeier. This honor from the Holy Father is a recognition of the blood, sweat and tears that each of them have shed throughout the years in starting and building up EWTN."
Although Mother Angelica has encountered opposition in launching her television network, Warsaw stated, "Mother has always been a faithful daughter of the Church, and for her to be acknowledged for her tremendous faith and perseverance in the face of so many obstacles is certainly fitting."
Raymond Arroyo shared Warsaw's assessment, telling CNA, "This long deserved papal honor is truly validation of Mother Angelica's incredible work. The media empire that she founded has changed hearts and minds all over the world.
"Those who have attempted to marginalize Mother Angelica or minimize her enormous contribution to the Church and broadcasting must pause and acknowledge what the Holy Father has: that there is no other Catholic in the last 40 years who has done more to further that cause of evangelization or reach the common man than Mother Angelica," Arroyo said.
Warsaw also had words of praise for Deacon Bill, remarking, he "has sacrificed so much for the Network throughout the past three decades. He gave up an incredibly successful law practice to stand at Mother’s side and help her build EWTN. His devotion to Mother Angelica and her mission is an inspiration. I think the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice award is a wonderful expression of gratitude to both of them for their service to the Church."
Both men agreed that the award is a validation of the importance of the network's mission.
"By recognizing the service of Mother Angelica and Deacon Bill, I believe our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI is also affirming the work and the mission of EWTN on behalf of the Church. That is a tremendous support and encouragement," Warsaw said.
As Raymond Arroyo put it, "I feel privileged to be a part of that legacy and to be a part of continuing her mission of Truth in joy."
Tegucigalpa, Oct 5, 2009 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Juan Jose Pineda of Tegucigalpa, who is the mediator between the deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and the government of Roberto Micheletti, stated last week that dialogue is the tool that will allow the country to overcome its political crisis.
After noting that conditions for dialogue between the parties are not yet present, Bishop Pineda explained that dialogue “is not something that takes place magically when people in conflict or difficulty, in tension or disagreement, expect to meet with one another. I think there is a process of preparation,” he said.
This process includes refining one’s positions and willingness to compromise, as well as defining the “values and principles” that one wishes to defend, the bishop continued.
“I understand that the two parties with whom I have met have in large measure already measured themselves, what their feelings are, what issues are negotiable and what issues aren’t,” he added.
“It is not the Church’s task to make political decisions,” the bishop stressed, “nor is it her task to take responsibility for this conflict. But she does have the task of helping in this process, as a guarantor of dialogue.”