Turin, Italy, Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - When the Holy Shroud is put on display this Spring visitors are expected to pour into the city of Turin, Italy to catch a glimpse. This exposition, which comes ten years after it was last shown publicly, has already led hundreds of thousands of people to reserve tickets.
The much venerated relic of Christ, the Holy Shroud, will be on exposition at the Cathedral of Turin from April 10 to May 23, 2010. This marks the first time it will be seen by the public since it was restored in 2002, and the first time that it will be exhibited at all since the Church Jubilee Year in 2000.
The restoration efforts were carried out to remove pieces of cloth that were burned in the 1532 Chambéry fire, remove "patches" and a lining placed on the Shroud in 1534, and install new means of support for the Shroud.
According to official numbers released by the Diocese of Turin, the Jubilee year exposition a decade ago saw more than a million visitors to the relic during the 72 days it was on display. This year, there will only be 44 days to see it, and Italy's Libero newspaper reported this week that 600,000 people have already made reservations.
Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit the site on May 2, 2010.
Cardinal Severino Poletto, the Papal Guardian of the Shroud, invited the visits, saying that the Shroud offers a "strong call to contemplate, in the image, the pain of every man, the suffering to which we often don't even know how to give a name."
He also added in an official message for the exhibition that "the Shroud can be, for whomever wishes to see it, a great opportunity to get to know and love oneself, one's brothers and the Lord Jesus Christ."
The exposition of the Shroud will be celebrated with daily Mass at 7:00 a.m. for the duration of its display at the cathedral, the Holy Sacrament will also be exposed in a nearby chapel and priests will be available for Confession.
The cathedral will be open to visitors with reservations until 8:00 p.m.
Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas is calling on Venezuelans to work for peace and expressing his rejection of any talk of war by President Hugo Chavez who continues to threaten of possible conflicts with the United States and Colombia.
“Venezuelans are a sovereign and courageous nation, but we love peace. And we reject any hypothetical or real attack on our national sovereignty, as well as the possibility of war with any Latin American country,” the cardinal said during Mass for the World Day of Peace.
He reiterated his call on the governments of Venezuela and Colombia to overcome their differences peacefully, because an armed confrontation would only cause “very serious harm to our respective nations, especially to those who live along the borders.”
Cardinal Urosa stressed that working for peace is an unavoidable commitment, especially for Christians, and therefore it is part of the Church’s mission in the world and in Venezuela.
“Working for peace in Venezuela, as well as protecting the environment and creation, also entails struggling to overcome poverty and any form of exclusion. It also entails overcoming intolerance, promoting open, realistic and sincere dialogue in order to find unity,” he said.
For this reason, he called on officials to directly confront crime and drug trafficking and everything that violates the right to life of Venezuelans, by rooting out the causes and carrying out justice in accord with the law.
He also referred to political tolerance and said it was an essential element of democracy, in order for there to be true social peace, in which “the opinions of others are respected, as stipulated by the Constitution and our laws.”
Boston, Mass., Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - Abortion has become a live issue in the Jan. 19 special U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts. While both candidates generally support permissive abortion law, controversy has centered upon pro-life conscience protections, partial-birth abortion and the place of abortion in the health care bill.
State Sen. Scott Brown, a Republican, is running against Democrat Martha Coakley, the state Attorney General.
According to Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Brown opposes taxpayer funding for abortion and the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). Unlike Brown, Coakley opposes a ban on partial birth abortion, parental consent requirements for minors seeking abortions, and favors taxpayer funding for abortion.
While Brown supports specifically exempting abortion from health care, Coakley opposes it.
Massachusetts Citizens for Life has supported Brown, claiming the less consistently pro-abortion rights candidate will be “a pro-life vote in the Senate,” the Boston Herald reports.
At the recent Monday night candidate debate, Coakley said she would not vote for a health care bill with a Stupak Amendment in it. She also asked Brown if he accepted the endorsement of a Massachusetts right-to-life organization.
Brown said he had a “very big tent.”
“You and I both have the same position on abortion,” he continued. “Roe v. Wade is the law of the land.”
He said there was a “very real difference” in that he opposed partial-birth abortion and she did not.
Coakley denied that characterization, but Brown said she had criticized the ban on partial birth abortion in an editorial.
Brown said he did not believe in federal funding of abortion but did support a “very strong” parental notification law. He charged that Coakley would be a “social crusader” on behalf of the pro-abortion rights group EMILY’s List.
For her part, Coakley cited Brown for supporting legislation that would allow hospital employees to “deny emergency care to rape victims if it was their choice.”
Brown defended his amendment, which failed in a 2005 vote, saying it allowed hospitals with “religious preferences” not to perform abortions or provide those services.
The Coakley campaign is now running a campaign ad on the issue.
Catholic hospitals have sought conscience exemptions from laws mandating emergency contraception for victims of sexual assault, citing concerns the treatment could kill any newly-conceived human being.
Brown and Coakley are among the candidates seeking to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy left by the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy.
While Massachusetts is a heavily Democratic state, some polls show a close race between the Republican and Democratic candidates.
Rockford, Ill., Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - The January Life Breakfast group in Rockford, Illinois will hold a Respect Life Dinner on Friday to benefit the local 40 Days for Life campaign. Several local pro-life leaders will receive awards at the Friday evening event.
The White Rose Award for students or teens who demonstrate “outstanding activism” on pro-life issues will go to Jessica Foti and Theresa Gwardys, a press release from the January Life Breakfast (JLB) reports. The two serve as co-presidents of Voice for the Unborn, the pro-life student club at Boylan Catholic High School.
The Breakfast will bestow on Dr. Brian and Sandra Knabe and the Knabe family the Family Heritage Award, which recognizes families who reflect the “life ideal” by “opening their hearts to children.”
The JLB was founded 14 years ago by Lutherans for Life and Kent and Jean Heise. Mrs. Heise is President of the Haven Network for Perinatal Death and Bereavement and a leader, speaker and activist in the pro-life and pro-family movement, a JLB press release says.
The Friday dinner is sponsored by the Respect Life Office of the Catholic Diocese of Rockford, Rockford Area Lutherans for Life, the World Congress of Families and The Howard Center for Family Religion & Society.
The JLB has scheduled next year’s event for Jan. 13, 2011.
Additionally, the JLB announced an upcoming roundtable lunch with Nigerian pro-life leader Dr. Theresa Okafor. The lunch, presented by the Howard Center, will be held on Feb. 11 at Rockford’s University Club. Its topic will be “Pro-Life Lessons that Africa Can Teach America.”
Washington D.C., Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - A Rembrandt etching rediscovered by the president of the Catholic University of America during his search for paper towels is the focus of a new exhibit which opened at the university’s John K. Mullen of Denver Library on Monday.
The etching measures 4.5 by 5 inches and has a paper backing that is crumbly and darkened with age. It bears a French inscription saying the picture is “the bust of an old man with a great beard seen about most of the face… His head a little perched gives him… the attitude of a man who sleeps,” according to the Catholic University of America (CUA).
Msgr. David M. O’Connell, C.M., found the etching soon after he was appointed CUA’s president in 1998. In notes that are part of the exhibit, Fr. O’Connell says he discovered the piece while looking for paper towels in Nugent Hall, which serves as the president’s office.
"I went into the restroom in Nugent Hall and opened a cabinet there," his notes read. "I found the paper towels but as I was closing the cabinet door, I noticed on the bottom shelf under some junk, a picture frame jutting out. I bent down, pulled out the frame only to discover an etching that looked familiar to me. Why it was there or how it got there, I’ll never know."
Last January Fr. O’Connell showed the etching to records management archivist Leslie Knoblauch and asked to have it appraised, CUA says. Appraiser Allan Stypeck, president of Second Story Books, informed Knoblauch that the piece was authentic on Feb. 11.
“It's always really exciting as an archivist when you find something so interesting," Knoblauch commented. "The exhibit enables us to show people on campus some of the treasures at Catholic University.
Rembrandt was renowned for his etchings, which he produced with a needle and copper plates. To create etchings, a needle is used to draw on a resin-coated plate. The plate is then immersed in acid and the needle lines are cut into the plate.
Paul Wesley Bush, the doctoral student who translated the etching’s inscription, suggested an exhibit be developed around the artwork.
"It's one of those amazing stories," said the 28-year-old Bush, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in medieval history. "You hear a story about a Rembrandt lying around. It seems too good to be true. You don’t want to get your hopes up."
The exhibit, “Fine Lines: Discovering Rembrandt and Other Old Masters at Catholic University,” is located at the May Gallery in the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library. The exhibit is free and open to the public. It runs through May 24.
Other works displayed include two engravings of Abraham Lincoln photos taken by Civil War-era photographer Matthew Brady, a watercolor copy of a print of Hans Holbein’s Sir Thomas More portrait, two engravings by William E.C. Morgan and six woodcut prints by Julius John Lankes.
Vatican City, Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) -
Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal for provisions that would protect human development and families as he met with local elected officials in a private audience on Wednesday. The Holy Father also called for all of society to collaborate in educating youth for a "lofty vision of health and human sexuality."
Addressing the mayor of Rome and regional government leaders, Benedict XVI said that while the worldwide economic crisis has had consequences for he people and businesses of the Lazio province and its capital of Rome, it has also "offered the possibility to rethink the growth model pursued in the last few years."
The Pope emphasized the necessity for politicians to keep human beings “at the center of political activity” and insisted that his “moral and spiritual growth must be the first concern."
"The main task of the institutions is the pursuit of the common good," within which "a healthy debate" should be promoted, because "the more decisions and measures are shared, the more they will bring real development to the inhabitants of the territory," Pope Benedict told the lawmakers.
The Pontiff continued by inviting the elected officials "to take every care that the centrality of the human person and the family constitute the inspiring principle of (their) every choice."
Support for families was also at the forefront of the Holy Father's mind as he called on the Italian politicians to erect buildings in suburbs to help "young parents with their educational duties." He also urged the adoption of provisions "in favor of families, in particular those that are numerous, so that the entire city enjoys the irreplaceable function of this fundamental institution, first and indispensable cell of society."
The education of the new generations is "a predominant concern," continued the Pope, saying that it should instill "authentic values" in young people "that refer to an 'exalted' view of man which finds one of its most sublime expressions in Christian religious and cultural heritage."
Benedict XVI elaborated, saying that, "When educating on the great questions of affectivity and sexuality ... we must avoid showing adolescents and young people ways that tend to devalue these fundamental dimensions of human existence. To this end the Church calls for everyone to collaborate, especially those who work in schools, to educate the young to a lofty vision of human love and sexuality."
He then explained that when the Church says "no," it is actually "saying 'yes' to life, to love lived in the truth of the giving of self to the other, to the love that opens up to life and does not close itself in a narcissistic view of the couple."
The Pontiff also implored the official to pay "constant and coherent attention to the world of sickness and suffering."
CNA STAFF, Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - In reaction to the recent catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Bishops' Conference, is asking all dioceses to take up a collection this coming weekend. Other initiatives taking place include prayer services and Masses.
In a Jan. 13 letter to all U.S. bishops, Cardinal George and Archbishop Timothy Dolan, chairman of Catholic Relief Services, call on each diocese to take up a special collection the weekend of January 16-17 for the humanitarian efforts of the U.S. bishops and Catholic Relief Service (CRS) in Haiti.
The two prelates also note that there is an upcoming collection for the Church in Latin America on Jan. 23-24 that will assist with the pastoral needs of the Church in Haiti. “We urge that you use both of these opportunities to express our solidarity and our loving support for our brothers and sisters in Haiti and ask you not to substitute one collection for the other,” they write.
Dioceses around the country are already offering an outpouring of support for the beleaguered people of Haiti.
“At this time of destruction and loss of life in the country of Haiti, I urge all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to pray for those who have died and are suffering as a result of the devastating earthquake in the capital city of Port-au-Prince,” said Cardinal Justin Rigali on Wednesday, who is holding a Mass on Jan. 15 and a special collection over the weekend throughout his 269 parishes in the five county Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who is currently in Rome, met with the Haitian Ambassador to the Vatican and assured him that his archdiocese would provide whatever financial assistance possible.
In addition to having the Archdiocese of New York take up a special collection over the weekend, Archbishop Dolan urged his faithful to pray for the intercession of the Venerable Pierre Toussaint, who was born in Haiti in 1766 and was brought to New York as a slave. Archbishop Dolan also said that he echoed the words of Pope Benedict on the tragedy, saying “I invite everyone to join my prayers to the Lord for the victims of this catastrophe and for those who morn their loss.”
The Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina has also announced their relief efforts, with Bishop Robert Guglielmone saying this morning that “Our faith compels us to pray for and reach out to them in their time of suffering. I encourage you to take up a special collection for the people and Church of Haiti.”
The Charleston Diocese includes 116 parishes and missions across the state.
A special Mass also took place at the Notre Dame d' Haiti Mission in Archdiocese of Miami on Wednesday night, and the parishioners of the archdiocese are being asked to make donations to the local Catholic Charities.
All 140 parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington have taken up a collection as well, and they along with many others dioceses, are sending the funds to Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
“This is an unimaginable tragedy in a country that already experienced tremendous poverty and hardship,” said Cardinal Rigali on Wednesday.
“I also extend my prayers and condolences to the family and faithful of the Most Reverend Joseph Serge Miot, the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, who lost his life in the earthquake. I pray too for the hundreds of priests, seminarians and religious who are reported to have died. My sympathy and heartfelt compassion are also with the Haitian community here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as they mourn and wait for the word of loved ones in Haiti.”
To visit Catholic Relief Services, go to: http://crs.org/
Vatican City, Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - In a telegram sent to the Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, Pope Benedict XVI predicted that his upcoming visit to the Roman Synagogue on January 17 will constitute a further “irrevocable step on the path of harmony and friendship” between Jews and Catholics.
In the message signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy Father responded to the Christmas greeting sent to him by Rabbi Di Segni. The Pope expressed his “heartfelt thanks” to the rabbi and sent his “best wishes” for 2010.
The Pope concluded by expressing hope that the visit “increasingly develops the relationship between Jews and Catholics.”
Port au Prince, Haiti, Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - In an exclusive email to CNA, the Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, has revealed the details surrounding the death of the Archbishop of Haiti, the condition of the buildings at the nunciature, the archdiocese and the major seminary, as well as an updated body count of priests, religious, and seminarians in Port-au-Prince, which was hit by a massive earthquake on Tuesday.
“Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has a great presence here,” said the nuncio. But due to the difficult situation, the lack of clean water, and the fact that all the gas stations are closed, they are contemplating moving their headquarters to the nearby town of Gonaives. Today, leaders from CRS and Caritas will meet with the nuncio and his staff at the nunciature.
Archbishop Bernardito Auza reports that the “good and smiling archbishop of Port-au-Prince,” was waiting on his balcony for a ride to a ceremony when the earthquake hit.
“The intensity of the earthquake pushed him down off the balcony headfirst and he died immediately on impact,” the nuncio told CNA. Since there is no electricity, his body has been moved to Gonaives. Archbishop Auza suggested an immediate burial, but the suggestion was not adopted since it would conflict with local tradition and would be taken as an insult.
The vicar general of Port-au-Prince, Monsignor Charles Benoit, and the Chancellor, Don Cherie, are still under the pile of rubble from the four-story building that housed the archdiocesan offices.
Archbishop Auza said “the chancellor seems to be dead, but we still have hope for Monsignor Benoit.” “We don’t have the numbers, but there are several dead priests and male and female religious whose bodies haven’t been recovered from the rubble,” he added.
On Wednesday evening the nuncio said he visited the major seminary, where he found only one building left standing. Only one priest from the formation team is unaccounted for as of yet. Nine seminarians are confirmed dead, and four more are still missing. Archbishop Auza also visited various religious communities and expressed the Holy Father’s “concern and solidarity.”
The nunciature, where Archbishop Auza lived, has been destroyed as well, even though it is in a part of the city that was not damaged as heavily. The nuncio explained that he and the personnel are sleeping in the garden. Despite the demise of the nunciature, the archbishop and his staff are hosting many meetings, with bishops from around the country flocking to the nunciature as a place to “coordinate and make decisions.”
Fearing a tsunami, many people have also left the city for the hills, Archbishop Auza said. Though a tsunami is unlikely, he is of the opinion that it is better for people to leave the capital, as there is nothing there for them. In the city itself, people walk around aimlessly. Many are also sleeping in the streets, he related.
Archbishop Auza also relayed an assessment of the airport in Port au Prince, saying it is incapacitated. As of yesterday, not one airplane bearing aid had arrived. Due to the earthquake, the control tower collapsed and is completely destroyed. Today, the first arrival, an American military plane, is expected.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of Brazil, Bishop Dimas Lara Barbosa, was sent to Haiti following the earthquake that devastated the country and killed 11 Brazilian soldiers who were part of the U.N.'s peacekeeping force.
Tuesday's earthquake also took the life of Dr. Zilda Arns, founder of the Children’s Ministry and sister of Cardinal Evaristo Arns, Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Paulo.
Vatican Radio reported that the bishop traveled to Haiti on a military jet.
The bishops' conference also expressed its sorrow over the death of Dr. Arns, who was devoted to “the defense of life, the family and in a special way, to the care of poor children.”
The Brazilian government will be sending $10 million to Haiti as well as 28 tons of supplies for earthquake victims.
Washington D.C., Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - Last weekend some 8,000 Catholic Hispanic women gathered to renew and strengthen their faith at a conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Gonzalo Penagos, operations director for Radio Paz of Miami, told CNA the event “brought together women from Tijuana to Los Angeles. Speakers addressed subjects such as self-esteem, care for children and homosexuality.
Likewise, Penagos said the conference was broadcast online and on the television station used by El Sembrador ministries.
The founder of El Sembrador, Noel Diaz, “thanked the dozens of priests from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for their services in hearing confessions during the two-day conference.”
Maria Hilda, an immigrant from El Salvador who works with Hispanics in California, said she was surprised to see so many women gathered for a single conference. Organizers said many of the women present “have suffered abuse, have low self-esteem, have been abandoned and are now single mothers.”
South Bend, Ind., Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - The Susan B. Anthony List, a political action committee that supports pro-life women in politics, recently held a press tour in state of Indiana with pro-life women from various backgrounds speaking out against abortion funding in the health care reform bill. The SBA List also urged congressional leaders to support “real” health care for women.
“We pro-lifers are not only tough – we can stand the elements,” said former congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave on Jan.12 outside Congressmen Joe Donnelly's office on a wintery South Bend, Indiana day. “We are resolute in our opposition to government-funded abortion. I am fortunate to be here today with several fabulous women who have dedicated their lives to protect the unborn child.”
One of those women, policy specialist for the University of Notre Dame and Project Gabriel volunteer Mia Reini spoke on her involvement with the pro-life movement in South Bend, saying she was “in awe” of the community efforts to assist women. Recounting her experience with organizations such as Hannah's House and Project Gabriel, Reini shared stories of the young women and mothers who have been helped by these initiatives.
“These are the projects our tax dollars should be funding. Not abortion,” said Reini. “This is the real health care – the psychological, spiritual and financial support local women are giving other women so that they can keep their babies.”
Campaign Director of 40 Days for Life Mary Akre opened her address by saying, “I'm here mainly to point out that abortion isn't healthcare because pregnancy isn't a disease.” She noted the importance of recognizing that women who have abortions “are just as much the victims” as the unborn children.
“A woman with a crisis pregnancy will be seen as no different than someone with strep throat who needs to go to her doctor and get her medicine,” continued Akre. “Instead of being treated as a precious child of God in need of love and understanding, she will be told that the solution to her problem is to kill her unborn child.”
Mary Forr, vice president of Notre Dame Right to Life, began her talk by thanking Congressman Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) for his pro-life work and urged him to continue in his efforts.
“As a woman, a Catholic and a college student at the University of Notre Dame I do not believe that my tax dollars should be used to fund abortion,” Forr said Tuesday. “I believe that abortion is the murder of an innocent human being and my freedom of conscience should not be violated in any way by a health care bill that forces me to support such genocide.”
“Unless the Stupak amendment is upheld, the current health care bill will force me to go against my will, my heart and my conscience,” she continued. “By simply paying taxes, I will become an accomplice for harming millions of women every year. I will become an accomplice to destroying any respect for human life. And most tragically, I will become an accomplice to destroying the lives of millions of innocent human beings.
“I reserve the right to remain free of participating in such an horrendous act,” Forr added.
Also speaking on Tuesday were Theresa Thomas, local mother of nine, and Diane Carpenter, volunteer at LaPorte County Right to Life.
Washington D.C., Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the trial challenging California’s Proposition 8 may not be broadcast, saying concerns about harassment are “substantiated.” The court ruled that the decision to broadcast the hearings did not comply with federal law and that “irreparable harm” would likely result.
Last week Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the proceedings on the trial challenging the voter-approved traditional marriage initiative could be uploaded at regular intervals to YouTube. Defenders of Prop. 8, which in 2008 restored the definition of marriage to be exclusively between a man and a woman, have said the broadcasts could expose their witnesses to further harassment and intimidation.
In the Jan. 13 “per curiam” document issuing its stay, the U.S. Supreme Court said the broadcast should not proceed because the lower courts apparently did not follow appropriate procedures according to federal law in changing their rules to allow the broadcast.
The District Court tried to change its rules “at the eleventh hour” to treat the case differently than other trials in the district.
“Not only did it ignore the federal statute that establishes the procedures by which its rules may be amended, its express purpose was to broadcast a high-profile trial that would include witness testimony about a contentious issue,” the Supreme Court said.
The ruling noted that some witnesses have said they will not testify if the trial is broadcast. These witnesses have “substantiated their concerns” by citing incidents of past harassment targeting those who supported Prop. 8. Evidence included 71 news articles detailing the incidents.
“[W]itnesses subject to harassment as a result of broadcast of their testimony might be less likely to cooperate in any future proceedings,” the court stated.
Andrew Pugno, general counsel for Prop. 8 backer ProtectMarriage.com, commented on the ruling in a Thursday statement.
He said Prop. 8 supporters are “relieved” at the Supreme Court’s intervention.
“As we have said from the start, televising the proceedings in a high-profile case is unprecedented in federal court, and impedes our ability to get a fair and impartial trial.
“Most importantly, putting Prop 8 supporters on the witness stand and broadcasting their testimony worldwide would virtually guarantee a serious risk of harm threatened by anti-Prop 8 extremists.”
Pugno noted that the court “expressly acknowledged” the record of Prop. 8 supporters being targeted by death threats, confrontational phone calls and e-mails, lost jobs, Internet blacklists and physical violence.
However, Judge Vaughn’s decision to broadcast the trial may have already affected the defense.
Last Friday Hak-Shing William Tam, one of the official proponent defenders-interveners in the Proposition 8 case, submitted a motion to the District Court asking to withdraw as a witness.
He said he was “fearful” for his safety and the safety of his family, citing death threats and vandalism.
He feared the trial would make him more recognizable and would increase the risk he will suffer harm.
Tam also noted an apparent death threat directed at him on a pro-Prop. 8 video he appeared in.
Rome, Italy, Jan 14, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, the secretary of the Congregation for Clergy, gave a retreat address Thursday afternoon at the papal summer villa to members of the Focolare movement. He dedicated the talk to "ars amoris," the art of love, as lived in the life of Focolare founder Chiara Lubich and exemplified in that of St. Jean-Marie Vianney of Ars.
Archbishop Piacenza directed his words to an audience of priests and deacons of the Focolare Movement on a spiritual retreat to the Mariapoli Center at Castel Gandolfo.
He began by saying that "the love that comes from Ars is none other than the transparency and the visibility of the same divine Love in a man who let himself be entirely penetrated and molded by that love."
It's the "love poured out in our hearts," said the archbishop, that which becomes "the capacity to know how to love always and anyway, in every circumstance, every person" regardless of background.
This love, said the prelate, is "not just a human need or a characteristic of God" but "the very essence of God and, therefore, as man was created in His image and likeness, the very essence of man."
Because of this relationship, said Archbishop Piacenza, "Love is the language man understands best."
"The 'ars amoris' is thus a 'via revelationis,' " a route that reveals us to the capacity to love.
Today, said the archbishop, the charism of the Focolare Movement's founder, Chiara Lubich, "lives on in all of those who, as yourselves, are invested with this charism and from this charism feel themselves to be authentic guardians and faithful carriers."
The archbishop also talked about St. John Marie Vianney as "a qualified witness of this love, having picked up the essence, first and foremost, by the intuitive route."
He was a man who understood that love "isn't studied in books, but it's seen in life...living with those who love and know how to love."
Archbishop Piacenza said he thought the reason Pope Benedict had chosen St. Jean Vianney as the patron of priests was because "he is an expert in the art of loving and so in the art of 'showing love,' that is communicating with God."
Vianney's heroism, said the archbishop, was that in everything he did, his "love of God and for God" was constantly visible.
"This is what priests of all times are called to: to render visible the Love of God; not a generic sentiment of love, but a Love made visible in Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, Love that would be nailed to the Cross for us and our sins, Love for Jesus abandoned."
Archbishop Piacenza concluded by telling priests of the Focolare Movement that they are called to continue "to live this radicality of love" in communion with the Pope.
He left them with a "missionary mandate," he told them to "be faithful witnesses to love and unity in your dioceses ... compete in respecting your brothers and in the faithful obedience to the Church."
"Our dear faithful lay people don't ask anything more of the priest ... except 'to see the love of God' in him."
Archbishop Piacenza, using the words that St. Jean Vianney repeated constantly, wrapped up the message saying, "The priesthood is 'the love of the Heart of Jesus.'"