Vatican City, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following yesterday's recitation of the Regina Coeli, Pope Benedict briefly spoke about the lives of two priests, Angelo Paoli and Jose Tous y Soler, who were proclaimed “blessed” on Sunday.
The Holy Father explained that Angelo Paoli was an “apostle of charity in Rome, nicknamed the 'father of the poor.' He dedicated himself particularly to sick and convalescent people in the hospital of San Giovanni."
The Pope then spoke of Jose Tous Y Soler, founder of the Institute of the Capuchin sisters of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd, who “despite numerous trials and difficulties, never allowed himself to be overcome with bitterness or resentment. He stood out for his exquisite charity and his capacity to bear and understand the shortcomings of others.”
Benedict XVI finished his remarks by addressing the Italian organization “Meter,” which has promoted a national day for child victims of violence for the past 14 years. “On this occasion I particularly want to thank and encourage those who dedicate themselves to prevention and education, especially parents and teachers, and the many priests, nuns, catechists and animators who work with children in parishes, schools and associations."
Rome, Italy, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI is about to release a letter announcing the creation of a new Vatican dicastery called the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. The new department will be aimed at bringing the Gospel back to Western societies that have lost their Christian identity.
Andrea Tornielli, the Vatican correspondent for the daily Il Giornale who is usually well-informed on new appointments at the Vatican, wrote today that “Benedict does not cease to surprise: in the upcoming week the creation of a new dicastery of the Roman Curia dedicated to the evangelization of the West will be announced, and be presided over by Archbishop Rino Fisichella.”
The new dicastery is aimed at evangelizing “countries where the Gospel has been announced centuries ago, but where its presence in their peoples' daily life seems to be lost. Europe, the United States and Latin America would be the areas of influence of the new structure,” Il Giornale says.
According to Tornielli, the new dicastery would be “the most important novelty of Pope Benedict’s pontificate, a Pope that, according to the expectations, was supposed to slim down the Roman Curia.”
Tornielli says that the idea of such a dicastery was first proposed to Pope John Paul II by Msgr. Luigi Giussani, the late founder of the Italian-born movement Comunione e Liberazione (Community and Liberation), but the idea did not move ahead.
In response to the question of how the idea resurfaced, Tornielli says, according to “authoritative sources,” the proposal of the dicastery comes from the Patriarch of Venice, Italy Cardinal Angelo Scola.
During his tenure as Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, Cardinal Scola promoted intense reflection on the loss of Christian identity in Europe. The Patriarch of Venice was also a member of Communion and Liberation, and in his current position has shown significant concern for the de-Christianization of Europe and the Western world.
Fisichella, the currently embattled head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, succeeded Angelo Scola as Rector of the Lateran University and as such, shared the same concerns of his predecessor.
Mexico City, Mexico, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Archdiocese of Mexico City stated last week that the $24 million the Mexico City government has used to finance abortion since it was legalized in 2007 could have been used to build 300 schools in the country.
According to an editorial by the archdiocese’s news service, the funds provided by the Mexico City government have contributed to the murder of more than 39,000 “human persons in their fetal stage, destroyed with the consent of their mothers, doctors and the government” of Mexico's capital city.
“With this amount of money, 300 schools could have been built, or other social problems supporting life could have been solved, such as providing water to towns, or giving assistance to single mothers, the handicapped or the elderly,” the editorial stated.
“Nevertheless,” government leaders instead pushed "through laws that go hand-in-hand with the culture of death, as is the case with assisted suicide, the legalization of drugs and prostitution,” as well as with “same-sex marriage or surrogate motherhood.”
Madrid, Spain, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA) - Referencing an incident in which a Madrid high school banned a student from classes because she would not remove her Islamic veil, spokesman for the Spanish Bishops' Conference, Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino affirmed that it is “unconstitutional to prohibit or limit religious freedom” within the country.
According to the Spanish newspaper, La Razon, Bishop Martinez Camino made his comments during a press conference in which he summarized the discussions at the bishops’ recent plenary assembly. The conversations touched on the use of traditional Islamic veils at schools.
Earlier this month, a 16-year-old high school student in Madrid was banned from attending classes because she refused to remove her Islamic veil.
After noting that the Spanish Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and worship, Bishop Martinez Camino warned that it would be “erroneous to conclude that religious symbols belong in private sphere.”
He called the application of this particular article of the Constitution “complex,” but stressed that “the limiting of religious symbols to private life is an unacceptable solution.”
Cochabamba, Bolivia, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA) -
President of Bolivia Evo Morales, who is considered a champion of gay rights in Latin America, angered gay-friendly organizations last week after stating that eating genetically modified chicken leads to both homosexuality and baldness in men.
Morales made his comments during a recent climate summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia.
“The chicken we eat is loaded with feminine hormones. For this reason, eating this chicken leads to disorders in men,” Morales said. “In Europe, all men are bald, and it’s because of what they eat. You don’t see bald men among the indigenous peoples.”
During his remarks, Morales also said that it was commonplace in Bolivia for janitors who clean bathrooms to use Coca-Cola to unclog toilets.
Spanish artist Cuco Suarez, who is bald, responded to the comments by saying, “I am going to start eating genetically modified chicken to make sure I don’t start growing hair again.” The mayor of the Spanish town of Oviedo also reacted saying, “Evo has figured out the reason why I am bald. Now I know who to sue.”
The statements by Morales also caused an uproar among homosexual groups in Latin America.
The climate summit in Cochabamba ended with a call for the creation of a “climate court to sue countries and businesses that do not meet their goals for reducing carbon emissions.”
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Saturday, the Holy Father appointed six prelates to leadership positions for the upcoming Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, scheduled to take place October 10 – 24 of this year.
The upcoming synod will focus on the communion of the Catholic Church in the region, and will take on the theme, “The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness. 'The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul.'"
Those appointed to the special assembly include:
- His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, as president delegate "ad honorem."
- His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Iraq, as president delegate "ad honorem."
- Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, as president delegate.
- His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians, Lebanon, as president delegate.
- His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt, as relator general.
- Archbishop Joseph Soueif of Cyprus of the Maronites, as special secretary.
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Participants in the "Digital Witnesses: Faces and languages in the multi-media age” congress, hosted by the Italian bishop’s conference, heard the Holy Father speak this morning on the need to ensure digital technologies lead to an encounter with the whole person.
“The time in which we are living is seeing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication," noted the Pope. The Holy Father added that “the Internet is by nature open, tendentiously egalitarian and pluralist, but at the same time it also represents a new gulf.”
“The dangers of conformity and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, which are already evident in the diminution of the spirit of criticism, in the truth reduced to an interplay of opinions, in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of individual intimacy. We are witnessing a 'pollution of the spirit which clouds our faces and makes them less prone to smile,’” he warned.
In his talk, the Holy Father also spoke of the “digital divide,” which creates new borders of inclusion and exclusion, on top of the factors which already divide nations from one another and within themselves.
"And yet," he added, "the aim of this congress is precisely to recognize faces, and therefore to overcome those collective dynamics that can lead us to lose a sense of the depths people have, to remain on the surface. When this happens those people become bodies without a soul, objects to be exchanged and consumed."
"How is it possible to return to people's faces today?" the Pope asked.
The answer he presented comes from his encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate.” The media, he reflected, can have a positive and civilizing effect "not only when, thanks to technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values.”
But, in order to achieve this kind of goal, media and technology must “focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity.”
Pope Benedict XVI stated that these conditions are necessary for making the technological change that our era is experiencing “be rich and fruitful in new opportunities.” “More than by our technical resources, necessary though they are, we wish to identify ourselves by inhabiting the [digital] universe with a believing heart which helps to give a soul to the endless flow of communications on the Internet,” said the Pope.
Ultimately, the “indispensable mission of the Church,” and the task of all believers working in the media, is to “open the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence,” the Pontiff concluded.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA) - An appeals court in the Brazilian city of Minas Gerais has upheld a ruling ordering Google to pay $8,500 in damages to a priest who was anonymously accused of pedophilia on the Orkut social network.
The priest, identified as “J.R.,” alleged an anonymous user called him a “pedophile” and a “thief” on one of the virtual community of Orkut, which is managed by Google.
Lower court Judge Alvimar de Avila ruled the internet giant should be held responsible for the false charges because it allows users to sign up for Orkut anonymously without providing any authentic identification that is verified by the company.
The priest’s lawyer, Oscar Ramalho Cavini, said, “Because it does not require users to identify themselves, Google must be held liable, because otherwise it is contributing to criminal anonymity.”
After China, Brazil is the country with the most requests to Google for removal of content, the company said.
Vatican City, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict received the Letters of Credence of Charles Ghislain, the new ambassador of Belgium to the Holy See. The Holy Father called on Belgian society to allow the Church and its members to express their beliefs freely, without fear of condemnation.
In his address welcoming the ambassador, the Holy Father stated that the Church “is happy to serve all sectors of Belgian society” and also emphasized that “human life and dignity are a precious resource to be defended and promoted resolutely, especially on the basis of natural law.”
The Church, he noted, “wishes to be a factor of harmonious coexistence among all peoples. To this end she makes her own active contribution, especially through her numerous educational institutions, her social activities and the commitment of many of her faithful to voluntary work.”
Pope Benedict also asserted that “it is worth pointing out that the Church, as an institution, has the right to express herself in public. ... She respects the right of everyone to think differently from herself, and would like to see her own right to expression respected. ... The Church, having the common good as her objective, wants nothing other than the freedom to be able to present this message, not imposing it on anyone, and respecting people's freedom of conscience.”
One example of intolerance for the Church's teachings came after Pope Benedict's trip to Africa in March 2009. In response to comments about how condoms are not the solution to the AIDS crisis in Africa, Belgian politicians voted to censure the Holy Father for his remarks.
Speaking on the Belgian St. Damian de Veuster, the Holy Father stated that “religious roots nourished his education and formation, just as they nourished the teachers who awoke such admirable generosity in him. St. Damian shared his life with marginalized lepers, to the point of suffering himself the illness that afflicted them. With witnesses such as him, everyone can understand that the Gospel is a source of power they need not fear.”
“I am convinced,” he added, “that despite recent social developments, your land remains rich in Christian soil. This can nurture the generous commitment of growing numbers of volunteers who, inspired by the evangelical principles of fraternity and solidarity, accompany people in difficulties.”
The Pope then discussed the recent election of Belgian Herman Van Rompuy as president of the European Council and the country's involvement in Europe, saying, “the art of consensus cannot be reduced to purely dialectic abilities, rather it must seek truth and goodness.”
Quoting his encyclical “Caritas in veritate,” the Pontiff explained that “without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times like the present.”
In his concluding remarks, the Holy Father greeted the bishops, priests, deacons and all of the Catholic faithful in Belgium, saying, “I invite them to bear courageous witness to their faith.”
“In their lives as citizens may they fully exercise their right to propose values that respect human nature, and that correspond to the most profound and authentic spiritual aspirations of the person.”
London, England, Apr 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The British Foreign Office has apologized over a leaked memo which suggested Pope Benedict XVI bless a same-sex “marriage” or open an abortion clinic during an “ideal visit.” A Vatican spokesman said the incident would not affect the upcoming papal visit to England and Scotland.
The Sunday Telegraph obtained a copy of the memo, which said it should not be shared externally.
“The 'ideal visit' paper in particular was the product of a brainstorm session which took into account even the most far-fetched of ideas,” said the memo, which according to the BBC was authored by a junior civil servants.
Other passages of the memo suggested the Pope launch his own brand of condoms, start a helpline for abused children, sack “dodgy” bishops, apologize for the Spanish Armada and sing a song with the Queen.
The Foreign Office said the memo contained “naïve and disrespectful” ideas, was not cleared by its senior officials, and did not reflect its views, the BBC reports. The memo’s author has been placed on other duties.
The Guardian reports that the ideas were circulated across government offices in Whitehall, including Downing Street.
Jim Murphy, the cabinet minister overseeing the visit and a practicing Catholic, said the memo was “absolutely despicable,” “insulting,” and “an embarrassment.”
A Foreign Office official told the Guardian that the young civil servant is “completely contrite.”
Vatican spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi told the Italian news agency ANSA that the incident would have “absolutely” no impact on the Sept. 16-19 papal visit.
“For us the case is closed,” he said.
The Anglican Bishop of Chester Peter Forster told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the memo is symptomatic of a greater problem between religion and the government.
"I think that Christianity has been so much a part of the furniture of our society that it tends to be neglected and taken for granted," he commented. "There's a 'familiarity breeding contempt' in some circles of society about our Christian heritage which leads to the distasteful events we had yesterday with that memo."