Madrid, Spain, Apr 19, 2010 (CNA) - This week at their plenary assembly, the bishops of Spain will prepare a document discussing the country's moral and economic crisis.
The president of the Bishops’ Committee on Social Ministry, Archbishop Santiago Garcia Aracil of Badajoz, will address the prelates on the crisis.
Last November, the bishops approved a statement in response to the moral and economic crisis in which they attributed the economic downturn to “the loss of moral values,” adding that the anti-life policies of the country will have economic repercussions for future generations.
“Dishonesty, greed—which is the root of all evil—and the lack of oversight of the financial structures brought on by the global economy,” are the causes of the crisis, the bishops said in the November document. The victims of this crisis have been families, especially large ones, young people, the unemployed, small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, ranchers and immigrants.
The bishops called for solidarity with those most affected, because “poverty and unemployment degrade the dignity of the human being.” They also criticized the “anti-life policies” of the Spanish government, which they said, endanger the economic well-being of future generations of Spaniards.
Vatican City, Apr 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father celebrated the fifth anniversary of his pontificate on Monday, just after returning to Rome from a busy weekend trip to the Mediterranean island of Malta. The College of Cardinals organized a lunch with the Pope as the guest of honor to mark the occasion, while the Italian Church called for a day of prayer for him.
After a taxing Saturday and Sunday, during which he called for the people of Malta to protect their identity founded on the faith and values they received from St. Paul, Benedict XVI returned to Rome on Sunday evening. The Sunday return enabled him to spend the fifth anniversary of his pontificate at home.
The Holy Father was chosen by the College of Cardinals to succeed John Paul II on April 19, 2005, the second day of the Papal Conclave.
Monday's lunch in the Pope's honor took place in the Ducal Hall of the Apostolic Palace and was attended by 46 cardinals. Vatican Radio reported that Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano commemorated the five-year milestone with a short address in which he thanked the Holy Father for his service to the Church and the world, carried out with "great generosity."
He voiced the support of the College of Cardinals for the Bishop of Rome and underscored that "the light of Christian hope, with the certainty that the grace of the Lord continues to work among us," sustains the Church amidst "the challenges of the modern world."
Pope Benedict XVI also took the floor, saying that he feels fortunate to not be alone, having the entire College to share in the trials and consolations with him, L'Osservatore Romano reported.
He thanked the cardinals for their daily assistance, especially amidst persecutions in the Church's pilgrimage toward Heaven, noting that God continues to give consolation to the wounded Church in spite of its sins.
The Holy Father said that there are two principles in the Church, one being personal and the other being communal. He referred to the College of Cardinals as his synod, helping, accompanying and joining him in his work, which is his personal responsibility, unable to be delegated.
He thanked God for the cardinal's support and prayed for the continued strength to move ahead.
No official audiences with the Pope took place today and no other plans were made public. The election of Pope Benedict XVI was observed as a local holiday in the Vatican.
Quito, Ecuador, Apr 19, 2010 (CNA) - Concluding their plenary assembly last Friday, Ecuador's bishops encouraged priests in the country to reflect the face of Christ to the world.
The bishops also “underscored the urgency of caring for the family, young people, the poor and the laity. They called for priests to experience a permanent conversion and show greater concern for the concrete needs of their ministry, so they might reflect the face of our Lord Jesus Christ and his way of life.”
The assembly was also attended by Bishop Ruben Salazar, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, and Archbishop Ubaldo Santana, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela.
During the assembly, the bishops discussed future “expectations” for the Church, as well as for the faithful as the country's bicentennial approaches.
Rome, Italy, Apr 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Catholics in Italy celebrated the fifth anniversary Benedict XVI becoming the Pope on Monday with a national day of prayer. The Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) encouraged the initiative, which invited all Church communities to pray for the Pope, the "center of unity and visible sign of communion."
Inviting participation in Masses, liturgies of the word, prayer vigils, Eucharistic adoration and rosaries, the Italian bishops called for thanksgiving to God "for the illuminated teaching and crystalline testimony of the Pope."
The CEI also asked for prayer "in this hour of need" for the purification in the Church, for the victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse, and for "new energies" to reinforce the educational passion of clergy, religious and lay faithful.
Words of solidarity rolled into the Vatican from all parts of Italy and the world on the anniversary of the Pope's election, which took place on this day in 2005. CEI's news service reported letters of support and prayer initiatives planned for the occasion.
Among the celebrations planned for Monday is a prayer vigil and adoration in the Cathedral of Genoa, presided over by the president of the CEI, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.
Chetumal, Mexico, Apr 19, 2010 (CNA) - A 10-year-old girl in the Mexican city of Chetumal recently explained that “a life is growing in her womb," a fact often ignored by various pro-abortion and feminist groups.
The girl is receiving medical attention at a local clinic, where doctors say the results of psychological tests have been positive. The recent tests, said Lizbeth Gamboa Song, director of the National System for the Comprehensive Development of the Family, show the girl has a proper understanding of the new life within her and of what to expect during the pregnancy.
Dr. Juan Carlos Navarrete Jaimes of the Merida Clinic performed an ultrasound on the girl and found the mother and child to be in excellent health. He also provided guidance on the prenatal care she needs during the coming months to ensure the pregnancy proceeds without complications.
Gamboa said that while the girl understands she is carrying a new life within her, “She does not yet fully realize the consequences of what it will mean to raise and care for a child” because of her young age.
“She understands what happens before a pregnancy, she knows her womb will grow, she knows at some point her water will break, and she knows how the baby will be born,” Gamboa said.
Pamplona, Spain, Apr 19, 2010 (CNA) - Italian congresswoman Paola Binetti called on Catholics this week to “strongly express the great vitality of Christian thought, the richness of its traditions and the knowledge that the best part of Europe comes from its Christian roots.”
Binetti made her remarks on the final day of the 31st Symposium on Theology held at the University of Navarra in Spain.
After maintaining that “it is always possible to recover (Christian) roots,” she urged Christians to make a “serious effort to collaborate with the culture in order to put forth concrete political proposals and be capable of providing answers that go beyond the philosophies and ideologies of the day.”
“They should be more active in public life and see politics as one of the most important areas in which they can assume responsibility for the common good,” she said.
“Our current society in Europe ought to put into practice with greater intensity the values that refer to the person (life), the family and society,” Binetti said, exhorting Catholics to be “courageous and bold in defending ideas that are often counter-cultural.”
Rome, Italy, Apr 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope's clear line against sexual abuses of minors will help the Church resolve the "delicate problem” of pedophilia, said Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in an interview upon his return from an official visit to Chile. The cardinal highlighted the major elements of the Pope's strategy for preventing further abuses within the Church and for protecting young people.
Cardinal Bertone was in Chile from April 5-15 to visit areas affected by the recent earthquake, to express the Pope's solidarity with the people of the nation and to deliver a statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel blessed by the Holy Father.
In an interview granted to the Vatican's television and radio stations and newspaper, the prelate first spoke about the "great affection, communion, (and) solidarity" of the people of Chile with the Holy Father. He said that as he brought the Pope's message of solidarity to the people there, they expressed their reciprocal feelings, prayers, recognition and support for his mission and "his meek, courageous and convincing teaching."
Among questions regarding the trip, the cardinal was asked how he thought the Church would emerge from the "delicate problem" of sexual abuse of minors by clergy members. Cardinal Bertone explained that it would be by following Pope Benedict's "very clear line" in which certain practices are "deepened" and emphasis is given to "great commitment of fidelity to Christ ...”
Cardinal Bertone pointed out three major tenets of the Pope's approach, the first being "purification and ... penance," to take on decisively our mission according to God's plan. Secondly, he observed that "a courageous and strong educational commitment" to the formation of youth and educators is need to give them values that nourish their lives and behaviors.
"The renewal of the priestly mission" is the third element, Cardinal Bertone said, adding that it must take place "according to the project of Christ, who is the model of every priest," using "the great messages the Pope has given in this Year for Priests."
Answering other questions in the interview, the Vatican secretary of state highlighted the historic presence of the Church in Latin America and emphasized the importance of maintaining the centrality of the human person in economics.
Having returned from Chile on April 15, Cardinal Bertone was also able to join Pope Benedict in visiting Malta this past weekend.
San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, Apr 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After 42 years in the crypt of the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, St. Padre Pio's body was moved into the new St. Pio of Pietrelcina Church on Monday afternoon. Archbishop Michele Castoro of the Archdiocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, who had recently defended the need for the transfer, presided over the celebration.
On Monday afternoon, a group of 12 friars wheeled the ornate silver vessel containing the body of the saint on a cart in procession from its former resting place to the mosaic-covered crypt of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Church. Italian news reports described a scene of thousands of people on hand for the move.
After vespers, the friars accompanied the cart along the route to the new church as the faithful sang hymns. Once inside the church, the procession stopped for 15 minutes so that the relics could be venerated and so Archbishop Castoro could pause for a moment of prayer.
The archbishop said that "even today, venerating the relics of the Capuchin saint, we are encouraged to imitate his Christian virtues, able to be redirected to a single great path: that of love, love towards God and love towards our neighbor.
"Padre Pio drew (people) to the road of holiness with his own witness, indicating by example the path that led to it: prayer and charity," he said in the address aired by Telenorbo. He noted that "Pope Benedict XVI reminded us of this during his pastoral visit to San Giovanni Rotondo.”
The Holy Father, who made a pastoral visit to the monastery on June 21, 2009, asked the faithful in his homily from St. Pio Church to live a life of prayer and charity like the great saint.
Following Archbishop Castoro's words, the vessel containing the saint's body was taken to the crypt of the church, which was followed by the celebration of the Eucharist. During Mass, the altar of St. Pio Church was consecrated and the saint's remains were placed inside the church's central pillar.
After the celebration, visitors were free to venerate the relics in their new location, although they were not visible as they were during the expositions in 2008 and 2009, when they were housed in a glass case.
Defending the decision to move Padre Pio's bodily remains, Archbishop Castoro told the online publication St. Francis Patron of Italy earlier this week that while he understands those who were against it, there was also a "need to think of giving an adequate welcome to numerous pilgrims," whom he noted are ever increasing.
The situation has changed in the last 40 years, he added, "and often the crypt proves to be insufficient."
The new location offers a greater capacity for pilgrims and is more comfortably accessed by the disabled, he observed. He added that although people have an understandable affection for the former resting place of the saint, it "doesn't justify the controversy that often is instrumentalized on purpose."
"This is not the teaching of Padre Pio," concluded the archbishop. "Being his followers means seeking to imitate him in the docility that he always manifested towards his superiors, also when it caused him suffering."
Rome, Italy, Apr 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In the midst of difficulties, the Holy Father continues to pursue the priorities of his pontificate with “consistency and courage,” stated Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi on his weekly television program this past Saturday. He briefly reviewed the milestones of Pope Benedict’s tenure, noting the “rich and full balance” the Pope has struck “between serving God and humanity.”
Reflecting on the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate on his weekly television Vatican Television show, “Octava Dies,” Fr. Lombardi observed that to gain a proper perspective on the period, “we must return to the Sistine Chapel.” From this venue on the morning following his election, the Holy Father spoke of the spiritual legacy of Pope John Paul II and indicated the priorities that would be the focus of his pontificate, recalled the Vatican spokesman.
On April 20, 2005, the Holy Father directed his first address to the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, clearly stating his wish to renew his "unconditional promise of fidelity" to the Lord and his intention "to serve him alone," dedicating himself completely to the service of his Church.
Among the priorities the Pope spoke of on that day, Fr. Lombardi listed “man’s relationship with God” as revealed by Christ and found in the Eucharist and Church worship, a tireless commitment to “full and visible” Christian unity and a response to the “call for help” from a fearful and uncertain modern humanity for answers regarding its future.
Fr. Lombardi noted another priority for Pope Benedict is to work for an “open and sincere dialogue” on the ecumenical and inter-religious fronts.
“There is no doubt,” he related, “that these have been the real priorities of the pontificate, pursued with consistency and courage in a context often not without tensions and obstacles.”
Reviewing the major journeys the Pope has taken and his substantial contributions to society through his writings, Fr. Lombardi commented that it was not his own light that the Pope declared he would shine on that day, “but that of Christ.”
The Vatican spokesman finished his weekly editorial by saying, “The pontificate thus far has seen a rich and full balance between serving God and humanity.
It is, he said, “A path to continue with a sure course.”
Philadelphia, Pa., Apr 19, 2010 (CNA) - In response to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by Peggy Noonan in which she criticized the Catholic Church for the “second wave” of sex scandals and charged that the “old Vatican needs new blood,” one critic is saying that Noonan should “applaud” the Church for reforms instead of criticizing it.
Noonan's April 17 Wall Street Journal opinion column claimed that the latest sex abuse scandals surrounding the Church have appeared to settle down and that the Vatican is likely thinking that the “worst is over.”
Noonan then argued that as a “Catholic,” she feels that this is not a positive development since the “more relaxed the institution, the less likely it will reform.” After likening the recently reported scandals to what happened in 2002, Noonan states that the “old Vatican needs new blood” and that in particular, the Church needs a “woman's touch.”
Responding to her column in remarks provided to CNA, Dr. John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), stated that Noonan is “stuck in the past with regard to the Church’s response to sexual abuse.”
Noonan “charges Vatican officials with complacency and declares, the 'more relaxed the institution, the less likely it will reform,'” noted Dr. Hass, “But Peggy has apparently not noticed that tremendous reform has occurred.”
“In fact, more reform has taken place in the Catholic Church than in any other social institution in which the abuse of minors has occurred,” he added.
“In 2002 the U. S. Bishops approved a Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. They hired the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct an independent investigation of the problem. They established a National Review Board chaired by a woman (Peggy called for a woman’s touch), Justice Anne M. Burke,” Dr. Haas pointed out.
Additionally, the “National Review Board monitors the policies of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the bishops and oversees its annual audit. Five of its current 13 members have that 'woman’s touch,'” Dr. Haas noted.
The NCBC president also stated that no other social institutions have put safeguards in place “that even begin to approach those that have been established by the Catholic Church. There is nothing on a national level that tracks abusive school teachers, for example. And such negligence by these other institutions leaves more children at risk.”
Offering further proof of the Church's involvement in being proactive in combating sex abuse following 2002, Dr. Haas explained that the “National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland had its inaugural meeting in May 2006.” This board, he said, “was headed by the layman Justice Anthony Hederman” and “(f)our of its members are women.”
“Pope Benedict severely criticized the Irish bishops for their handling of the abuse cases, and four have offered their resignation,” he added. “And the Holy Father just met with abuse victims during his trip to Malta, not shying away from a public acknowledgment of the sins of the Church and its desire to make amends.”
“None of this seems to express complacency,” Dr. Haas wrote.
“Peggy Noonan and others should recognize and applaud the reforms which have taken place in the Catholic Church and urge other institutions working with the young to be equally as bold and as far-reaching in establishing programs to protect our children,” the NCBC president said.
To read Dr. Haas' full response, click here or visit http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=983