Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA) - With a Mass at the Cathedral of Buenos Aires celebrated by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and concelebrated by 100 bishops, the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina opened its 99th Plenary Assembly on Monday.
The bishops are meeting for the assembly at the Cenacle House in the city of Pilar. They will first discuss a series of pastoral issues before listening to a reflection on the bicentennial by Bishop Guillermo Duran and journalist Jose Ignacio Lopez.
The rest of the sessions will be devoted to continuing the Great Continental Mission and analyzing the issue of ecclesial based communities.
The Great Continental Mission is an initiative that aims at increasing catechetical and pastoral programs to form and develop missionary-oriented Christian communities throughout all of South America.
Phoenix, Ariz., Apr 21, 2010 (CNA) - Arizona’s three Catholic bishops and other religious leaders in the state have issued a statement calling on Gov. Jan Brewer to veto recent legislation targeting undocumented immigrants. They warned the bill would separate families and discourage crime victims and witnesses.
The Arizona Senate passed SB 1070 on Monday by a vote of 17 to 11. It requires state and local police to determine the immigration status of people if there is “reasonable suspicion” they are illegal immigrants. They must arrest those unable to provide documentation showing they are in the United States legally.
The religious leaders’ April 19 letter voiced “common serious concerns” about the bill. Bishop of Gallup James S. Wall, Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted and Bishop of Tucson Gerald Kicanas were signatories to the letter, as were leaders from Protestant denominations and a rabbi with the American Jewish Committee.
They warned it could classify as felons not only dangerous criminals, but also undocumented immigrants who came to the United States at “a very young age” and have “no familiarity” with any other country.
“We are concerned for these children and for families that may have a mother and a father, one of whom is a citizen and the other of whom would now be considered a criminal,” the letter continued.
While SB 1070 responds to concerns about violence on the Mexican border, the religious leaders said the bill is “not a legitimate solution” and may inadvertently reduce public safety.
They explained that provisions of the bill may compel local police to ignore more serious crimes because of language that they enforce federal immigration laws to the “full extent permitted by federal law.”
Acknowledging that SB 1070 has been improved so that police officers now have discretion over whether crime victims and witnesses should be turned over on immigration charges, the letter said “It would be much better, however, if victims and witnesses could come forward knowing for certain that they will not be deported.”
Fears about reporting serious crime would threaten public safety in all Arizona communities, the religious leaders said.
The legislation would make Arizona the first U.S. state to create its own crime for “people who are merely present in the country without proper paperwork.” A first offense is a high misdemeanor while a second offense is a felony.
The letter noted that supporters of the bill claim the provision requiring documentation would be narrowly enforced. It countered that the bill itself does not limit the enforcement of this provision.
The religious leaders also warned the bill may “scare off” potential employers and employees seeking to come to Arizona. This could further delay economic recovery.
“For all of the reasons above, we are united in respectfully asking that you veto SB 1070 and spare Arizona the many negative consequences of this ill advised bill,” the religious leaders’ letter concluded.
Noting a veto would require “great political courage” from Gov. Brewer, the leaders professed willingness to support her.
Archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony harshly criticized the bill in a post on his blog Sunday, calling it the country’s “most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law.”
Blaming the present immigration system for its inability to balance the labor market, he noted that retiring baby boomers need to be replaced.
The cardinal claimed the bill assumes Arizona residents and law enforcement personnel will give their total attention to guessing which Latino-looking person is properly documented.
“I can't imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation,” Cardinal Mahony wrote.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the proposed law would not in fact require people to report suspected illegal immigrants to authorities. It would require law enforcement officers to make such reports “when practicable.”
Washington D.C., Apr 21, 2010 (CNA) - Citing the inattention of the Republican leadership and a recent GOP spending scandal involving an erotic night club, a leader of an ex-gay group has called for the Republican Party to allow ex-gays “a place at the table.”
Greg Quinlan of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX), said on Tuesday that Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, has “consistently refused to meet with members of the ex-gay community.”
“The RNC would rather use donor funds for its staff to watch lesbian erotica at nightclubs than help support individuals who wish to leave homosexuality,” claimed Quinlan.
The Daily Caller has reported that an RNC staffer helped organize a visit to a Hollywood, California sex club for several members of the GOP “Young Eagles” group. He billed the RNC almost $2,000 for the visit to the club, where women perform lewd acts on each other.
RNC chief of staff Ken McKay said the unnamed staffer responsible for the trip had been warned that such activities do not qualify for reimbursement and was fired, according to the Daily Caller.
PFOX’s Quinlan also voiced concern about RNC chair Steele’s comments to Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine last year. There, he compared being homosexual to being black and was quoted as doubting that ex-gays exist.
PFOX said it offered to meet with Steele on numerous occasions to explain the process of individual change. Steele has declined any meetings with ex-gays, including African-American former homosexuals.
Ex-gays have met with Ed Gillespie, one of Steele’s predecessors.
"It's no wonder the RNC continues to lose factions of its members, such as Tea Party conservatives," said Christopher Doyle, a former homosexual and PFOX board member. "Michael Steele would be better off if he extended ex-gays a place at the table.”
Washington D.C., Apr 21, 2010 (CNA) - The U.S. bishops are preparing to launch a website to help laity and clergy promote vacations. The site aims to help individuals “hear and respond” to God’s call to the priesthood or consecrated life.
Scheduled for an April 25 launch, the website www.ForYourVocation.org will host discernment resources for men and women, and aids for promoting a “vocation culture’ within the home, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a press release.
A range of tools for educators, youth leaders and vocation directors include prayers, videos, best practices, lesson plans and vocation awareness programs.
Following the theme for the 2010 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, “Witness Awakens Vocations,” the site also hosts videos of priests and religious men and women giving witness to their call to the priesthood or religious life. Testimonies from family members are also included.
The USCCB says the site exemplifies the Vatican’s “embrace” of new communications media. It cites Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the 44th World Day of Communications, in which he challenged clergy to use the “latest generation” of resources to put the media “ever more effectively at the service of the word.”
The launch of the site will be promoted through social media forums, with Facebook users allowed to become “eVangelizers” for the site.
The April 25 launch coincides with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Good Shepherd Sunday.
Vatican City, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict's experience in Malta was the subject of his catechesis at Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square. He spoke of the history of faith on the island, provided a review of the highlights of the trip, and called the Maltese a "big family," praising their Christian vision of life.
The Holy Father said that he, just as St. Paul 1,950 years ago, experienced the "warm welcome of the Maltese," which was "truly extraordinary." He expressed his gratitude to the people and leaders of the island, thinking of the deep-rooted Catholic faith there which is "inseparable" from the history of the island.
"For almost two thousand years, the history of that people has been inseparable from the Catholic faith, which characterizes their culture and traditions. It is said that there are 365 churches in Malta, 'one for each day of the year', a visible symbol of this profound faith," Benedict XVI said.
This fact, he said, "all began with that shipwreck," referring to the manner in which St. Paul arrived on the island.
Attributing it to divine Providence, the Holy Father explained that "from that shipwreck ... was born a fervent and solid Christian community, that after 2,000 years is still faithful to the Gospel and strives to unite it with the complex questions of the contemporary times."
This position, said the Pope, is not always easy, but we can see a sign of the people's Christian vision today as evidenced in the existing laws against abortion and divorce.
The Holy Father went on to say that he found "joy" and "consolation" in the warmth of the people there, having perceived the presence of a "big family" that is united by "faith and a Christian vision of life" at Mass at the Granaries on Sunday.
He further praised the island's history of educating its children in "the sense of God and the Church" and its history of priestly vocations, especially those of missionaries who have inherited the "apostolic spirit" of St. Paul.
The "deepest vocation of Malta," contrary to the impression of the fortresses which are a testament to the past need of the island to defend itself, is "Christian, ... the universal vocation of peace!"
During the audience, the Holy Father also remembered his visit with victims of sexual abuse by priests, relating that he "shared their suffering and, greatly moved, prayed with them, giving them assurances of the Church's action" to address clerical sexual abuse.
Turning to the current issues resulting from the arrival of migrants, who use Malta as a stepping stone to Europe, the Pope said that the complex humanitarian, political and legal problems associated with migration must be addressed on an international level.
Bringing his traditional post-trip reflections to a close, the Holy Father added that his hope is in the youth of the island as "potential heirs of the spiritual adventure of St. Paul."
It is the young people who are called, as St. Paul was, to "discover the beauty of the love of God given us in Jesus Christ; to embrace the mystery of His Cross; to be victors in trials and tribulations; not to be afraid of the 'storms' of life, not even the shipwrecks, because God's plan of love is greater even than storm and shipwreck."
Vatican City, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Today at the weekly general audience in Rome, Pope Benedict spoke publicly for the first time on fighting clerical sex abuse within the Church. The Holy Father told the crowd in St. Peter's Square about how he gave “assurances of the Church's action” at a meeting with abuse victims in Malta.
The Pontiff made his remarks following his recent papal visit to Malta last weekend, where he met with eight men who said they were abused by priests in a Church-operated orphanage on the island.
Pope Benedict recalled on Wednesday that during his tearful encounter with the men, he “shared their suffering and, greatly moved, prayed with them, giving them assurances of the Church's action” on fighting clerical sex abuse.
Although the Vatican issued a statement on Sunday detailing the Pope's meeting with abuse victims in Malta's Apostolic Nunciature in Rabat, this is the first time that the Pontiff has spoken personally on the matter.
The Sunday statement from the Vatican said that the Holy Father was “deeply moved” upon hearing the victims' stories. Expressing his “shame and sorrow” for the suffering caused to them and their families, he prayed with them, asking that they would be experience healing and reconciliation and be able to look to the future with renewed hope.
The statement also recounted the Holy Father's assurance of the Church's commitment, now and into the future, to do everything possible to investigate allegations of sexual abuse, bring perpetrators to justice and implement effective measures for the protection of young people.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA) - Nearly 7,000 in Argentina gathered Tuesday to protest a congressional committee's approval of a bill that would give same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children.
Last Thursday, a congressional committee approved a measure that would give same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt children. For this reason, Congressional Representative Cynthia Hutton called on Argentinians to join the protests which took place outside the congressional building.
“We want every adopted child to have a father and a mother. (The protest) will be an act in support of the values that we defend for our country. There will be thousands and thousands of Argentinians who say 'no' to homosexual 'marriage' with adoption. Adopted children deserve to have a father and a mother,” Rep. Hotton said.
Rome, Italy, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following criticism of his recent JFK speech by an Italian scholar, Archbishop Charles Chaput responded today, addressing each argument raised against his lecture. The prelate said that although he was grateful for the Italian professor's comments, “he and I clearly differ” not only on the implication's of JFK's 1960 speech, but also on the role of religion in American public life and the “proper understanding” of separation of Church and state.
On Wednesday, Vatican expert Sandro Magister published Archbishop Chaput's response to the scholar on his website Chiesa. Before presenting archbishop's reply, Magister discussed responses he received from Americans supporting the prelate's JFK arguments, most notably from Prof. James Hitchcock of St. Louis University, whose letter Magister published as well. Prof. Hitchcock reiterated that Kennedy's speech marked a definitive break in the public friendship between religion and democracy.
Magister previously published an essay on April 11 by Luca Diotallevi, a sociology professor at the University of Roma Tre, who raised several critiques of the Archbishop's March 1 lecture at Houston Baptist University.
At his lecture in Texas, the Denver archbishop criticized President John F. Kennedy's historic 1960 Houston campaign speech about his Catholic faith’s impact on his political decisions.
Calling the speech “sincere, compelling, articulate – and wrong,” Archbishop Chaput said Kennedy’s view divided private beliefs from public duties, set the national interest over and against religion, and began “the project of walling religion away from the process of governance in a new and aggressive way.”
Responding to the prelate's remarks, Diotallevi questioned in his essay whether or not Kennedy's speech was “secular,” given that one of the sources for the late president's text was John Courtney Murray, a Jesuit scholar. Diotallevi claimed the Jesuit's influence on the speech was “easy to trace.”
The Italian scholar also took issue with the archbishop's argument that Kennedy had to convince “uneasy” Protestant ministers that his faith wouldn't impede his duties as president. Protestant pastors, said Diotallevi, are “anything but secularists.”
Additionally, Diotallevi claimed that Archbishop Chaput's use the of the word “Church” was too broad, and also expressed worry that some members of widespread American protestantism and Catholic fringe groups might propose a relationship between politics and religion in which the latter becomes “an instrument (albeit valuable and well rewarded) of the former.” In light of this, he questioned whether Archbishop Chaput’s speech at times put forward the view that the separation between Church and state must be rejected if one does not want indifferent political institutions.
In response the first argument raised by Italian professor, Archbishop Chaput replied on Wednesday that although “Professor Diotallevi suggests that Jesuit John Courtney Murray's influence on the Kennedy speech is 'easy to trace,'” in reality, “Father Murray, by his own account, had little influence on the Kennedy speech.” The prelate then pointed out that Fr. Murray himself noted that “most of his counsel was ignored” by the late president and that anyone “steeped in Murray’s writings who reads the Kennedy speech will see why Murray distanced himself from the 1960 text.”
Addressing Diotallevi's second critique, Archbishop Chaput stated that “the 1960 Kennedy speech, in the context of the times, sounded quite congenial to Protestant ears because it neutralized worries about Kennedy's Catholic roots.” However, “it had a stealth content with far-reaching and drastic implications, alien to the American historical experience.”
“The damage became clear only with the passage of time,” he added. “Whether Kennedy intended the harshly secularist consequences of his speech or not, is irrelevant.”
“Third,” the archbishop wrote, “in taking issue with my use of the word 'Church' throughout my talk, Diotallevi unfortunately seems to have overlooked key sections of my actual remarks.”
“Perhaps this is an issue of translation, and I have misunderstood his concern. To reprise what I actually said: 'Christianity is not mainly – or even significantly – about politics. It's about living and sharing the love of God. And Christian political engagement, when it happens, is never mainly the task of the clergy. That work belongs to lay believers who live most intensely in the world.'”
“Nowhere do I suggest that the hierarchical structure of the Church is the preferred manner for Catholic interaction with the political order,” he stressed.
“Like nearly every other citizen of the United States, including the late John Courtney Murray, I believe strongly in the separation of Church and state, properly understood and as the American Founders intended it.”
Addressing Diotallevi's concerns that he is encouraging the position of widespread American protestantism and Catholic fringe groups, the archbishop said, “Let me respond simply by noting that the pro-life and pro-family witness of American evangelicals is commendable. I only wish that it were emulated more fully by many of those American Catholics who describe themselves as 'liberal' or 'progressive'.”
Evangelicals, Catholics and members of all other faiths who “speak out in defense of the sanctity of life and the dignity of marriage, deserve praise, not derision,” asserted Archbishop Chaput. “They labor in the tradition of activists for civil rights – a moral cause led by religious believers – who refused to 'privatize' their faith.”
“Of course, every political movement has its zealots and opportunists,” Archbishop Chaput noted, “But Christians are called to be the best of good citizens. We have a duty to work for justice and the common good. We may not excuse ourselves from that obligation by citing the foolishness, selfishness, or hypocrisy of others, or the human imperfections of the political causes that deserve our energetic support.”
Havana, Cuba, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA) - The leader of the Catholic Church in Cuba, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, released an interview on Monday which not only affirmed the autonomous nature of the Catholic Church in Cuba but also called for the immediate action in addressing Cuba’s current economic crisis.
Cardinal Ortega’s interview appeared in “Palabra Nueva” or “New Word,” the official magazine of the Catholic Church in Cuba. The discussion began with commentary surrounding a recent meeting between leaders of various religious organizations and the Office of Religious Affairs of the Cuban government. Members of the Catholic Church were invited to the meeting but declined to attend because the Church’s place in society is not to seek “strategic alliances” with the government, stated Cardinal Ortega.
Additionally, “I think the only thing that we have in common with these animist or associative religious groups is that we are all attended to by the same office of Religious Affairs,” he declared.
The Archbishop of Havana went on to say that “the action of the Church within society pertains to the order of rights and the right to religious freedom is recognized clearly within the Constitution effective in Cuba. It is under the frame of this Constitution that the Church, according to her own identity and methodology, develops her mission in Cuba of working for the common good.”
Cardinal Ortega also noted that solutions to the current social and economic situations are currently the subject of much debate in the Cuban press. “Many people are talking about socialism and its limitations. Some of them propose a reformed socialism while others refer to concrete changes that must be made by leaving behind the old Stalinist bureaucratic state. Others talk about the indolence/laziness of the workers and the low levels of productivity, etc.”
The “fundamental common denominator” among all of the debaters, expressed the Cuban cardinal, is that changes be made in Cuba without delay. "I think this feeling has become a form of national consensus, and its delay is producing impatience and unease among the people.”
The island, which is not unaffected by the global economic recession, is also suffering from a global downturn in tourism. “The difficulties of the economic-financial crisis made their appearance just as three hurricanes struck Cuba, leaving many losses,” noted Cardinal Ortega.
The interview also made a correlation between the current economic troubles and the half-century long trade embargo. Cardinal Ortega criticized President Barack Obama for failing to open new dialogue between the United States and Cuba as he had promised to do before he was elected. Since he took office, Obama has chosen to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors by demanding Cuba institute democratic reforms and improve human rights before any dialogue is initiated, the cardinal explained.
“Once again, the old (American) policy prevails: to begin at the end," Cardinal Ortega said. "I am convinced that the first thing should be to meet, talk and advance a dialogue. ... That is the civilized way to confront any conflict."
The prelate also called upon the government to protect the lives of dissidents and other political prisoners. "With respect to political prisoners, the church has historically done everything possible to have them freed, not just those that are sick, but others, too," Cardinal Ortega said, before calling on Guillermo Fariñas, a political prisoner currently on a hunger strike, to end his protest, which Ortega called “a form of mediated violence, to which the Cuban government will react in its own way.”
His comments come in wake of the death of Orlando Zapata, a dissident and political prisoner who died in February while on a hunger strike. Cardinal Ortega’s call to end the hunger strikes has been echoed by Oswaldo Paya, leader of the Christian Liberation Movement.
Vatican City, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father sent a special message to the priests of the world at Wednesday morning's general audience in St. Peter's Square. He dedicated a few words to a particular group of clergy represented there in person and expressed his "respect and deep recognition" for all priests.
During the individual language greetings on a mostly cloudy spring day in Rome, the Holy Father once again took the opportunity to recognize clergy as the ongoing Year for Priests unfolds.
In his Italian-language greeting, Pope Benedict welcomed priests from the Diocese of Rome, of which he is the bishop. The priests, led by Cardinal Vicar of Rome and auxiliary bishops, had just returned from a pilgrimage to Ars, France, the home of St. Jean Vianney, as an initiative for the Year for Priests.
Thanking them for their presence, affection and "spiritual closeness," Pope Benedict also expressed his "respect and deep recognition to (these) and to priests who all over the world dedicate themselves with apostolic zeal to serving the people of God, thus bearing witness to Christ's charity."
He encouraged them to be "patient and solicitous pastors" in the line of the Patron of Priests, St. Vianney, "for the good of souls."
The Holy Father also included a reminder that the World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated this coming Sunday.
Still speaking in Italian, the Pope concluded with special greeting to young people, the sick and newly married couples. He called on the youth to find their "personal answer to His design of love" in their dialogue with God, asked the sick to offer up their suffering for the maturity of "numerous and holy vocations" and exhorted the newlyweds to find the strength to build "an authentic Christian family" in daily prayer.
Rome, Italy, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - After the general audience on Wednesday morning at the Vatican, the Holy Father blessed what remains of a statue that partially survived the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki. Rome is just the first stop on an international "peace pilgrimage" by the Archbishop of Nagasaki and the "Bombed Maria," which will arrive at the U.N. in time for the start of nuclear non-proliferation talks in May.
There is little left of the once six-foot tall statue of Mary from the Urakami Cathedral of Nagasaki, just the a hollow looking visage still in one piece from the neck up. Half bleached white and half charcoal black, all that remained of the statue after the Aug. 9, 1945 atomic explosion was the head.
She is known as "Bombed Maria" locally.
According to an article published online by the archdiocese in February, Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami is on his way to unite the Italian-made statue with the remains of another statue of Mary that survived the bombing of the northern Spanish city Guernica on April 26, 1937.
In an interesting twist, all that remains of the Spanish statue is its head, a fact Archbishop Takami called "incredible."
The statues are being brought together during what the archdiocese is calling a "peace pilgrimage" that marks 65 years since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were dropped. The event is being remembered at the Guernica Peace Museum by a special exhibit.
The stop at the Vatican on Wednesday gave the pilgrimage and statue the Pope's blessing. Another stop on the way to Guernica will be Barcelona's Sagrada Familia Cathedral, to be consecrated by Pope Benedict on Nov. 7.
Reflecting on the message he wishes to convey along the route, the archbishop said in February, "Peace can never be created by violence."
He expressed his hope that the pilgrimage "not only lets more people know about the suffering caused by the atomic bombing, but also becomes an appeal for peace using non-violent methods."
With that purpose in mind, the statues will be taken by their respective bishops to the U.N. in time for to make an appeal for the renewal of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
Noting the challenge of every country to rid the world of these weapons, regardless of their nuclear capabilities, the bishops of Hiroshima and Nagasaki requested in a formal statement on Feb. 26 that global leaders "take the courageous step toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of a world without wars."
Midori Shikayama, a spokesperson for the archdiocese, told Ecumenical News International (ENI) that the head of "Bombed Maria" will eventually be taken to New York City, where it will be placed in St. Patrick's Cathedral. It will be there for Mass on May 2, the day before the inauguration of the NPT conference at the U.N.
Archbishop Takami hopes to be able to meet with Ban Ki-Moon and the NPT conference president-elect, Libran Nuevas Cabactulan, to be able to deliver them the formal statement for peace in person.
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA) - The Supreme Court of Mexico ruled Tuesday against investigating the case of the murder of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo of Guadalajara, Mexico on May 24, 1993.
The judges unanimously ruled against accepting a request by the Governor of Jalisco, Emilio Gonzalez Marquez, to carry out an investigation of the case.
Cardinal Posadas Ocampo was murdered in 1993 at the Guadalajara Airport when gunmen, armed with automatic weapons, attacked him in his car. The case has been reopened several times, however no one has been imprisoned.
While the judges lamented the murder of the cardinal, they concluded that the court should not intervene in the investigation of the crime.
According to El Economista, the court refused to investigate the murder because the country's constitution establishes different procedures for investigating homicides.
Marquez argued that the court should intervene because officials in charge of the investigation during the administration of Carlos Salinas were guilty of various inconsistencies.
Many believed an investigation by the court would ensure that those behind the murder of the cardinal would be brought to justice. According to analyst Carlos Ramirez, the decision to call for the constitutionally permitted high court investigation of grave violations of human rights would be the next-to-the last resort for in seeking justice for the cardinal's murder.
“If the Mexican court says 'no',” as it has, “the case then would go before the International Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States.” For the promoters of the initiative, Ramirez said, “The Supreme Court of Mexico has become the last battle line against the old Mexican judicial system and its manifestations of impunity, corruption and political protection.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA) - In an amazing series of events, a young man who was abandoned at birth used a Facebook group to find his biological mother. After then were reunited, the young man thanked her for resisting the temptation to have an abortion.
Mauricio, 23, was abandoned by his mother at birth. In an effort to find her, he created a Facebook group called "I’m searching for my mother." Mauricio ended up finding her and the two were reunited.
Last Saturday afternoon, Mauricio spoke on the telephone with his mother for the first time.“My son,” she said, “it’s me, your mom. Don’t hate me. Forgive me. I always remembered you, I never forgot you.”
The next day, they met in the town of Cordoba, Argentina. The emotional encounter was full of hugs and silence. Later, Mauricio told the newspaper, El Diario Clarín, "I feel complete. I have never experienced this serenity of my soul. Finally, I can finish my story.”
"The only thing I could say to her was that everything was fine and that I forgave her," he added.
During their talk, the young man explained, his mother told him that she didn’t have any other children. She said that his father was "a mistake" and that she had gone on to reconstruct her life with another person. Without resentment, he replied in gratitude: "Thank you for having the courage to bear me for seven months and for not having me aborted."
Now, says Mauricio, the Facebook group will be renamed, "I found her."
Rome, Italy, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - "The Holy Father doesn't put himself at the center, he doesn't announce himself, but Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the World," writes the Pope's personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gänswein on the inside cover of his new book that describes the travels of Pope Benedict XVI.
"Benedict XVI, Urbi et Orbi. With the Pope on the Paths of the World," has been published in German and Italian and was presented last week in commemoration of the the fifth anniversary of the Pope's election.
Commenting on the Pope's faithful response to the Lord's call to "go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature," Msgr. Gänswein explains that the specific purpose behind each and every Papal event is "to strengthen brothers and sisters in the faith."
However, adds the Pope's secretary, that's not say that there aren't unique elements to each encounter. Every one has "its own character, it possesses its specific dynamic and unmistakable tone."
Msgr. Gänswein describes the desire he witnesses daily in people from all parts of the world who come to Rome to be physically close to the Holy Father, to "follow in his footsteps" and to be guided to the "right track."
"But," he continues, "the opposite is also true: the Successor of Peter goes out into the world to all of the people of good will." He does so with a simple and deep message: that "faith is not a problem to solve, it's a gift that is newly discovered."
"And even if all of the cameras are pointed at the Pope, it's not so much about him. The Holy Father doesn't put himself at the center, he doesn't announce himself, but Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the World," the Pope's personal secretary says.
For the Pope, concludes Msgr. Gänswein, leading people to the gift of faith is a "sacred task" and "with words and images this book gives witness to it."
The extensive volume offers pictures of papal visits outside of the Vatican from the last five years, including segments of his addresses from each occasion and a brief account of Msgr. Gänswein's impressions. The book is not yet available in English.
Hohot, China, Apr 21, 2010 (CNA) - A 48-year-old priest was ordained Bishop of Hohot in the Chinese autonomous region of Inner Mongolia on Sunday.
Bishop Paul Meng Qinglu, a priest for 21 years, was ordained at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Hohot with the approval of the Chinese authorities.
Eighty priests concelebrated the ordination liturgy, which was led by Bishop of Shenyang Paul Pei Junmin, a classmate and friend of the new bishop. About 3,000 faithful participated in the activities surrounding the ordination, though only 600 could fit in the cathedral.
Bishops John Liu Shigong of Jining, Matthias Du Jiang of Bameng, and Joseph Li Jing of Ningsia (Yinchuan) were the co-consecrating bishops, Fides reports.
All are in communion with Pope Benedict XVI and are also recognized by the government.
Bishop Meng, a native of Inner Mongolia, was born in 1962 to a Catholic family. He entered the seminary in Hohot in 1985 and was ordained a priest in 1989. He later served as professor of moral theology and dean of studies at the same seminary.
The Diocese of Hohot is under the Archdiocese of Suiyan and located over 400 miles northwest of Beijing, where it covers 38,600 square miles of territory. The diocese has more than 50,000 faithful, 60 priests, almost 100 religious sisters in four religious institutions, and 40 seminarians.
Bishop Meng proposed the creation of a structure to organize Church affairs, the needs of parishes and matters relating to Church property.
He said the formation of the clergy was one of his priorities.
"I think my ordination will make a new dimension emerge and help priests to work together in pastoral and evangelization activity."
The bishop also said he was confident in reconciliation within the Catholic community.