Archive of April 28, 2010

Scientists discover wooden structure believed to be Noah's Ark

Ankara, Turkey, Apr 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Chinese-Turkish exploration team reported on Sunday that they have discovered a wooden structure on the top of Mt. Ararat in Turkey which they believe to be the biblical Noah's Ark.

“The search team has made the greatest discovery in history. This finding is very important and the greatest up to now,” said a team archaeologist, Prof. Oktay Belli, in an April 25 press conference.  Although many “people have searched the mountain for the holy Ark,” he added, this recent discovery “is the first serious search (and) that the team found a wood structure under ice.”

Noah's Ark Ministries International (NAMI) reported earlier this week that after a nearly two year expedition involving difficult weather and treacherous conditions, the team discovered a broken up wood structure with seven spaces, containing wood fragments from over 4,800 years ago. According to the Bible, after the earth was flooded and the waters receded, Noah's ark ran aground on a mountain, which many believe to be Mt. Ararat – the highest point in the region.

Team member Panda Lee recalled on Sunday that in October 2008, “I climbed the mountain with the Turkish team. At an elevation of more than 4,000 meters (13,123 feet), I saw a structure built with plank-like timber. Each plank was about 8 inches wide. I could see tenons, proof of ancient construction predating the use of metal nails.”

“We walked about 100 meters to another site,” she added. “I could see broken wood fragments embedded in a glacier, and some 20 meters long. I surveyed the landscape and found that the wooden structure was permanently covered by ice and volcanic rocks.”

The structure contains compartments with wooden beams that the team believes housed animals. Dismissing arguments that the structure could be a human settlement, the archeologists explained that none have ever been found above 11,000 feet in the region, Fox News reported on Tuesday.

Dr. Ahmet Özbek, a Turkish geologist, explained how the region's climate helped preserve the structure for thousands years without decaying or becoming petrified.

“In present days, the permanent snow line on Mt. Ararat is 3,900 meters (12,800 feet). The wood structure was found higher than 4,000 meters,” he said, adding that  the low temperature and environmental condition of glacier deposits and volcanic material helped the preservation. He also explained that the wood material was able to carry loads up to 5 times its weight, which enabled the structure to bear a considerable amount without breaking into pieces.

Turkish government officials thanked the evangelical search team for their efforts and pledged their help in furthering NAMI's scientific research on the discovery. The officials will also ask the central government in Ankara to apply for UNESCO World Heritage status to protect the site during the archeological dig.
“For more than 2,000 years, historical and eyewitnesses accounts tell us that there is an ancient boat on Mt. Ararat which survived a great flood and landed on the mountain,” said Muhsin Bulut, Cultural Ministries Director of Agri Province, at the press conference Sunday. “People believed that it is Noah’s Ark. I believe the team has finally located this ancient boat and I believe it is Noah’s Ark.”

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Nuclear arms reduction treaty a step forward, Archbishop O’Brien remarks

Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2010 (CNA) - The Catholic bishops of the United States urge the ratification of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin F. O’Brien has said. While they believe it should go farther, Archbishop O’Brien described it as a sign of progress.

His comments came April 26 at a Catholic University of America (CUA) symposium on the ethics of the Obama administration’s nuclear weapons policy, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) reports.

The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) would reduce the nuclear arsenals of both Russia and the U.S.

The archbishop, former head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, said the treaty was “a step in the right direction” that sets the stage for further reductions.

The Nuclear Posture Review “does not go as far as the bishops urged,” he continued, noting that the review does not say the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is to deter nuclear attack against the U.S. or its allies.

However, it “embraces the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, recognizes the danger of nuclear terrorism” and narrows the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear threats and states.

These directions are morally sound,” Archbishop O’Brien said, “but more progress is needed to meet our moral responsibilities to rid the world of this disproportionate and indiscriminate threat to human life.”

He then cited documents from the Second Vatican Council condemning nuclear war, noting Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 assertion “In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims.”

The archbishop said every weapon and policy must be judged by the ultimate goal of a world free of the threat of nuclear weapons.

Saying we must “keep our eyes on the horizon” of a nuclear weapons-free world, Archbishop O’Brien said it is “equally important” to focus on the immediate next steps.

Other panelists at the symposium included CUA professor Dr. Maryann Cusimano-Love and Maj. General William Burns (ret.). Both serve as consultants to the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, of which Archbishop O’Brien is a member.

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US bishops oppose 'draconian' Arizona immigration law

Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a statement released April 27, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) denounced a recently signed law in Arizona which criminalizes undocumented immigrants, calling the legislative move “draconian” and saying it “could lead to the wrongful questioning and arrest of U.S. citizens.”

Writing on behalf of the USCCB, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the U.S. bishops' committee on Migration noted that he joins the Arizona bishops in “strongly opposing” the implementation of SB 1070, which was signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last Friday.

According to ABC news, the new Arizona law makes it a crime to be in the state illegally and allows police to arrest and question suspected individuals about their status without a warrant. It also criminalizes transporting illegal immigrants anywhere in Arizona, even if by family members.

“This new law, although limited to the State of Arizona, could have impact throughout the nation, in terms of how members of our immigrant communities are both perceived and treated,” Bishop Wester said.
Explaining the specifics of the legislation, Bishop Wester stated that “SB 1070 gives law enforcement officials powers to detain and arrest individuals based on a very low legal standard, possibly leading to the profiling of individuals based upon their appearance, manner of speaking, or ethnicity.”

“It could lead to the wrongful questioning and arrest of U.S. citizens and permanent residents as well as the division of families – parents from children and husbands from wives,” he added. “It certainly would lead to the rise in fear and distrust in immigrant communities, undermining the relationships between their members and law enforcement officials.”
The Salt Lake City bishop also charged that the bill  “is symptomatic of the absence of federal leadership on the issue of immigration.”

“For years now, the U.S. Catholic bishops have called upon Congress and two Administrations to enact meaningful and just comprehensive immigration reform,” he noted. “While many of our federal elected officials have made good faith efforts to pass reform, too many still view the issue through a political lens, using it to gain political or partisan advantage.”

“This gamesmanship must stop,” Bishop Wester asserted.  
“Our national leaders must educate the American public on the need for reform and show courage in making it happen,” the prelate stated. “Until immigration reform is passed, other States will attempt to create and enforce immigration law, with harsh and ineffective consequences.”
In his concluding remarks, Bishop Wester said that the “U.S. Catholic bishops stand in solidarity with the bishops of Arizona in opposing this draconian law. We call upon the Administration to review its impact on civil rights and liberties. We renew our call for the Administration and Congress to work in a bipartisan manner to enact comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible.”

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Archbishop Dolan calls Arizona illegal immigrant law 'harmful'

New York City, N.Y., Apr 28, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan has criticized Arizona legislation targeting illegal immigrants as “mean-spirited” and “counterproductive and harmful.” Viewing the measure as a manifestation of historic American nativism, he said immigrants should be welcomed and their legalization and citizenship should be advanced.

Writing in an April 27 entry on his blog “The Gospel in the Digital Age,” Archbishop Dolan said at times of social turmoil the immigrant “unfailingly becomes the scapegoat.”

He then listed what he described as “periodic spasms” of anti-immigrant “fever”: the Nativists of the 1840s who led mobs to torch Irish homes and Catholic churches; the Know-Nothings of the 1850s; the American Protective Association of the late 19th century who feared the arrival of immigrants from Italy, Poland, and Germany; the Ku Klux Klan who fomented hate against blacks, Jews, Catholics and foreigners; and the eugenics movement.

He also listed the Protestants and Other Americans United group of the 1950s who were “apprehensive about Catholic immigrants and their grandkids upsetting the religious and cultural concord of America.”

“And, here we go again!” Archbishop Dolan continued. “Arizona is so scared, apparently, and so convinced that the #1 threat to society today is the immigrant that it has passed a mean-spirited bill of doubtful constitutionality that has as its intention the expulsion of the immigrant.”

According to the archbishop, history teaches that “not only are such narrow-minded moves unfair and usually unconstitutional, but they are counterproductive and harmful.”

Claiming the anti-immigrant sentiment is not dominant, he pointed to another sentiment of the country, “one of welcome and embrace to the immigrant.”

He noted that New Yorkers look out at the Statue of Liberty, whose “torch of welcome” has caused joy to millions of their immigrant ancestors.

This ethos is especially a part of Catholic culture, which he described as “a spiritual mother to immigrants in America.”

Archbishop Dolan also argued that welcoming immigrants is known to be good for the economy and beneficial for society.

The “bright, noble side” of the American character is “to welcome the immigrant, to work hard for their legalization and citizenship, to help them feel at home, to treat them as neighbors and allies in the greatest project of human rights and ethnic and religious harmony in history.”

“To blame them, stalk them, outlaw them, harass them, and consider them outsiders is unbiblical, inhumane, and un-American,” he charged.

Acknowledging the duty of every society to protect its borders, he said this must be done “justly, sanely and civilly.”

“My brother bishops in Arizona worry this is not the case there.  They have been joined by Cardinal Roger Mahony, Jewish, other Christians, and various civic and human rights groups.”

“I’m on their side,” he concluded, describing this as the “Statue of Liberty” side, not the “Nativist” one.

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God gives us signs on the path to our vocations, Pope teaches

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Focusing his Wednesday catechesis in St. Peter's Square on a pair of priests from the last two centuries, Pope Benedict underscored the importance of charity, the "love of God and love to God." The Holy Father also spoke of how "signs" can signal the road to our vocations.

Today's teaching is the latest in a series on the priesthood, which the Pope decided to do as the end of the Year for Priests approaches on June 19. For his address today, the Holy Father chose two saints who lived in Turin, Italy as models of the priesthood.

Speaking first of St. Leonard Murialdo, the founder of the Congregation of Saint Joseph who was canonized 40 years ago, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the joy with which he welcomed his vocation. After a "profound existential and spiritual crisis" in his adolescence, at 17 years old he decided to become a priest following a general confession during which he rediscovered the "immense mercy of God."

The Holy Father underlined the "central nucleus" of Fr. Leonard's spirituality as the "conviction of the merciful love of God: an always good, patient and generous Father, that reveals the greatness and immensity of his mercy with forgiveness."

The Pope added later,"highlighting the greatness of the mission of priests, 'who must continue the work of redemption ... Fr. Leonard always recalled, both to himself and his confreres, the responsibility of living a life coherent with the Sacrament received."

Benedict XVI pointed out that "Love of God and love to God" were "the force of his path to sainthood, the law of his priesthood, the most profound significance of his apostolate among poor young people and the source of his prayer."

The Congregation of St. Joseph continues to be dedicated to the formation of youth, especially the disadvantaged, tending to them as members of a family.

It was with the same spirit of charity as St. Leonard, added Benedict XVI, that the second priest, Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, lived. After experiencing the unfortunate death of a pregnant woman, he prayed to know the meaning of the suffering. Divinely inspired, he went on to dedicate all of his efforts to support those most in need, said the Pope.

Observing the importance of the experience, the Pope said, "The Lord always places signs on our path, guiding us according to His will to what is truly good for us."

Giving himself up completely to the Lord's will, he founded the "Little House of Divine Providence" through which, with the help of many collaborators and volunteers, he was able to provide assistance to address the particular needs of the day.

The Holy Father cited the words of St. Cottolengo in explaining his mentality: "I am a good-for-nothing and I don't even know what I'm doing with myself. Divine Providence, however, certainly knows what it's doing. It's up to me to go along with it.”

"Forward 'in Domino,'" he said, "forward in the Lord."

The "Little House" founded by Fr. Cottolengo still exists in Turin and will be visited by the Holy Father on his visit to the city for the exposition of the Shroud this coming Sunday. His influence is also seen in similar houses throughout the world today which often are known simply by the name "Cottolengo."

More than 16,000 people were on hand to hear the Pope's teaching and visit the See of Peter. Among the diverse group were ecumenical delegations from the Lutheran Church of Norway, the Church of England and a group of Jewish leaders visiting with the Pave the Way Foundation, which has worked to put the Vatican archives regarding the pontificate of Pope Pius XII online.

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Pope hopes English translation of Missal will be 'springboard for a renewal'

Rome, Italy, Apr 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI told the Vox Clara Committee on Wednesday that he welcomed the news that the new English translation of the Roman Missal "will soon be ready for publication." While expressing his hope about the arrival of the new edition, he also highlighted the need for a transition with "due sensitivity."

The Pope met over lunch today with members and consultors of Vox Clara, which he recognized for its role of advising and assisting the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in completing the English translations of liturgical texts.

After thanking all who have contributed to the process, the Holy Father expressed his satisfaction at the news that the Roman Missal's new English translation would "soon" be published. He welcomed the announcement because “the texts you have worked so hard to prepare” will soon “be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the anglophone world."

However, he continued, with its publication comes the "new task" of preparing the clergy and lay faithful for the reception of the changes. Though this task is not specifically within the scope of Vox Clara operations, the Pope observed, “in one way or another will involve all of you."

Noting the difficulty many will have in adapting to the modifications that are said to be more literal translations from Latin, the Pope emphasized the need for a gradual introduction with "due sensitivity," accompanied by catechesis.

He prayed that "in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world."

Anticipating the transition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has created a section on its website dedicated to the coming change, which will be expanded upon the new Missal's release.

The USCCB calls for the implementation process to "be a time of deepening, nurturing, and celebrating our faith through our worship and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy."

The Pope closed his address at the lunch by underlining his gratitude to the contributors and telling them that "soon the fruits of your labors will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere."

The new English translation of the Roman Missal, completed but awaiting the full approval of the bishops, is the third such edition, the last being released in 1975. Vox Clara has been working on this project for the last eight years.

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Peruvians gather to pray Rosary in support of Catholic Church

Lima, Peru, Apr 28, 2010 (CNA) - As protesters gathered outside Peru's Apostolic Nunciature last Saturday to speak out against recent  statements by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone connecting pedophilia and homosexuality, a group of Peruvian Catholics showed up in counter-protest to pray the Rosary and defend the Church.

Pro-life organizations organized the counter-protest which brought together many young people who eagerly demonstrated their public support of the Pope and the Church at large.

The gathering lasted for almost two hours. During that time, the counter-protesters sang songs, prayed the Rosary and shouted slogans such as, "Long live Benedict XVI!" "Long live the Church!" and "Long live Celibacy!" 

To the rhythm of the chant, "Benedict my friend, Peru is with you," Catholics wearing white shirts as a symbol of solidarity calmly stood before protesters from groups such as Catholics for Free Choice and various gay rights groups.

"We came to pray for the Pope who is being attacked unjustly,” said Marcos, a college student present at the counter-protest. “I believe that Benedict XVI is a saint who has acted very strongly against cases” of abusive priests, the young man affirmed.

Maria Carmen, a Catholic mother who was also present, said, "It is the duty of all Catholics to defend the Pope and the Church.

“We need to make clear that it is only a few members of the clergy who have committed disgraceful acts,” she declared. "I know of many holy priests that do marvelous things which no one ever speaks of, and that is regrettable.”

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Cuban dissident thanks European lawmakers for support

Havana, Cuba, Apr 28, 2010 (CNA) - The coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Paya, sent a letter to the members of the European Parliament thanking them for their March 11 resolution that calls for respect for human rights in Cuba and for the release of political prisoners.

In a letter signed on April 12, Paya said, “The people of Cuba do not have accurate information about the contents of the resolution, which the Cuban government calls an 'aggression' by the European Union against Cuba.”

“In reality,” Paya said, “the content of the resolution is an expression of solidarity with the people of Cuba and of respect for their self-determination.”  He explained that it also “calls for respect for the rights that correspond to Cubans as human beings and for the liberation of those who are in prison for defending those rights.”

He mentioned specifically the case of Orlando Zapata Tomayo, who died following a long hunger strike.  During his strike, Paya said, Zapata "was being held in a punishment cell in the most inhuman and degrading conditions."

He thanked “the European Parliament and the people of the European Union for their solidarity with the Cuban people who long for peaceful changes towards democracy.”

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Supreme Court rules Mojave Desert Cross can stay

Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that a federal court overstepped its boundaries in ordering the removal of a long-standing memorial cross in California's Mojave Desert.

A white, seven-foot cross, which was erected as a memorial by the Veterans of Foreign Wars over 75 years ago in the Mojave National Preserve, will be allowed to stay.

Before today's ruling, the cross was covered with a plywood box in accordance with a lower court’s order. A district court initially ruled that the cross had to be removed from the land.

Congress then enacted legislation ordering the Department of the Interior to transfer an acre of land which included the cross to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. A former National Park Service employee, Frank Buono, sued to have the cross removed or covered after the agency refused to allow the erection of a Buddhist memorial nearby.

Supreme Court justices told the federal judges on Wednesday that they did not take sufficient notice of the government's decision to transfer the land to private ownership, and that they went too far in ordering the removal of a congressionally endorsed war memorial.

The Supreme Court ruling was 5-4, with the more conservative justices being in the majority.

Justice Paul Stevens, who was one of the four justices who opposed the memorial, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that although he believed fallen soldiers deserve a memorial, in his opinion the government “cannot lawfully do so by continued endorsement of a starkly sectarian message.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who supported the ruling, countered Justice Stevens, saying that “Here one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion.”

Speaking on the wider implications of the memorial, Justice Kennedy stated that it also “evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles, battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.”

In an interview with CNA last October, Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va.) echoed the sentiments of Justice Kennedy, saying that the “ripple effect” from today's ruling, were it opposed to the memorial, would have been “enormous.” The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which filed an amicus curiae brief in the case, praised the ruling. “The Court’s ruling is simple common sense: Americans can say what they want about religion on their own property—even if others disagree,” said Eric Rassbach, National Litigation Director of the Becket Fund. “A cross on private property does not establish a state religion.”
Rassbach explained that the case has broad implications for the display of religious symbols around the country. “Stripping this country of religious references would turn national monuments like Arlington Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial into Swiss cheese. The First Amendment guarantees the right to speak and believe freely; it does not give busybodies the right to cut down religious symbols they don’t like.”

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Pope Benedict urges bishops to work for recognition of immigrant rights

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father sent a telegram to European bishops gathered in Spain this week for an international conference on immigration. In his message, he urged the Catholic leaders to work to give immigrants the "firm hope" that their rights be recognized.

The Pope's message was presented by Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio to the 8th Congress on Immigration, convened by the Council of European Bishops' Conferences in Malaga, Spain on Tuesday.

In the letter written by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone on the Holy Father's behalf, the Pope greeted and thanked all those on hand for the conference, which is taking place under the theme "Overcoming Fears and Outlining Prospects" from April 27 to May 1.

Pope Benedict encouraged the bishops to continue in their efforts to offer "adequate pastoral attention to all those who suffer the consequences of having abandoned their homeland" or those who have no country to which they refer as their place of origin.

The Pope exhorted the participants to "coordinate initiatives and plans to ensure that the light of the Gospel reaches everyone and, with it, the firm hope to see recognition for their rights and a guarantee for their possibilities to live a life dignified in all aspects."

Cardinal Bertone closed by relating the Pope's prayers for the protection of the Virgin Mary over all conference attendees and the bestowal of His apostolic blessing.

Archbishop Veglio, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, gave an address to the conference on Wednesday in which he provided a theological perspective on the changes in Europe brought about by migration and mobility.

He reminded participants of the Church's role in contributing to to the edification of "a Europe with a more human face where human rights and the fundamental values of peace, justice, freedom, tolerance, participation and solidarity are protected."

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Cardinal urges Mexicans to learn true history of their independence

Guadalajara, Mexico, Apr 28, 2010 (CNA) - As the country celebrates its bicentennial, Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara, Mexico underscored the need for citizens to discover the truth of their country's independence in order to promote peace and reconciliation.

During a speech at a seminar on the Church and Mexico’s independence, Cardinal Iniguez said, “As we celebrate these memorable dates of our country’s history, we need to gratefully remember to rectify history with the facts and to reconcile - as a people - in the truth that sets us free.”

“The Mexican people know little about their own history, their true history, as many who have written it took it upon themselves to change or distort it according to the ideology and interests of political factions,” the cardinal said.

“And what has been the result?” he asked.  “A manipulated and Manichean history in which the light is all on one side and the darkness all on the other, a categorical division between the good and the bad.  The official ‘heroes’ are portrayed to the people as perfect, untainted and almost superhuman.  On the other hand, the ‘villains,’ that is, the defeated, are incredibly vilified and stripped of any quality or merit,” the cardinal explained.

He went on to call for renewed interest in the true story of Mexico’s independence during the country’s bicentennial celebrations, saying such efforts would benefit the country greatly and lead to deeper reconciliation and peace.

Cardinal Iniguez said great efforts must be made by the country to overcome the serious problems facing it, such as organized crime, violence, corruption, the deterioration of the family, attacks on human life, as well as the growing secularism that tempts Mexicans to “live as if God did not exist, depriving us of the light of the Gospel and of the foundation of Christian morality.”

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Benedict XVI's pontificate shows his sensitive pastoral heart, Cardinal George writes

Rome, Italy, Apr 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Reflecting on the five-year pontificate of Benedict XVI, the Cardinal Francis George wrote in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano on Wednesday that joy and love are at the foundation of his teachings and ministry. The American cardinal also praised the Pope's efforts to combat clerical sexual abuse and his efforts to reach out to victims.

April 19 marked the fifth year since the election of Pope Benedict XVI as the Successor of Peter.

Cardinal George referenced the words of then-Cardinal Ratzinger in an interview given to Peter Seewald, for the book "God and the World," during which he said, "If we look at Christ, he is all sympathy and this makes him precious to us. Being sympathetic, being vulnerable, is part of being Christian. One must learn to accept injuries, to live with wounds and in the end to find therein a deeper healing."

All of the Pope's audiences, addresses and encyclicals, have joy and love at the foundation of his teachings, observed the cardinal, who said that he calls us to bring together "all aspects of human life in the embrace of divine love."

These teachings can be found in the way the Pope has lived his pontificate thus far, he continued. "Recognized at the moment of his election as an established scholar, prolific writer and theologian of great shrewdness, in these five years Benedict XVI has demonstrated to the world (that he has) a sensitive pastoral heart ..."

He has been able to reach the people, young and old, during his 14 apostolic journeys abroad and 17 trips within Italy, Cardinal George stated, noting his visits also with Muslims, Jews, American presidents and victims of sexual abuse.

The Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago also commented on Pope Benedict's efforts to reach out to those who have been abused by priests, saying that the Pope has offered himself in the "model of the compassion of Christ" and that victims "have perceived his sorrow for their suffering."

The cardinal went on to underline that the Pope has long studied the problem of abuse and has "made decisive steps to confront both the bureaucratic slowness that aggravated the injuries and the culture of permissiveness that allowed these crimes to take place."

He praised Benedict XVI for facing the challenge of encouraging "many thousands of priests who feel betrayed by the sins of their brothers" and addressing "millions of Catholics disgusted by the fact that such crimes take place in the Church they love."

Citing other examples of the Pope's evangelization in the modern world, he pointed the Holy Father's calls for the unity of Christians and his message that love is stronger than death or desperation.

In all his efforts as the Successor of St. Peter, the cardinals support their leader, Cardinal George added.Those who elected him,"count on his strength, give thanks to God for his teaching and rejoice because the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love, corrects our weaknesses, heals the Church and unites it to its ever compassionate Lord," he added.

Celebrations for the Pope's five years and his recent birthday will be capped off with a concert this Thursday evening, organized by the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. An Italian youth orchestra will play a series of three symphonies at the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican for the occassion.

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US Catholics donate $2.7 million to help Church in Latin America

Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2010 (CNA) - On April 28, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that they awarded over $2 million in grants to the Church in Latin America.

The $2,777,917 raised through the Collection for the Church in Latin America was distributed to 128 projects throughout 23 countries, with $972,869 going to the earthquake-ravaged areas of Haiti and Chile, reported the Bishops' Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America.

“The projects approved by the subcommittee show the Church in action: supporting thousands of priests, sisters and laity working every day to bring the Good News to some of our poorest brothers and sisters,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez, Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles and chairman of the subcommittee.

“From Caracas to Cochabamba, from Argentina to the Antilles, the Collection for the Church in Latin America helps to strengthen communion within the Church in the American continent, which is home to half the world's Catholics,” he added.

In Haiti alone, the subcommittee's aid will help provide temporary parish centers and classrooms to 27 parishes as well as provide supplies to the national seminary. The aid will also supply radio transmission equipment for Catholic Radio Soleil in Port-au-Prince.

The subcommittee also approved funding for 20 temporary parishes in Chile, whose 11 dioceses were impacted by disastrous earthquake in Feb. An estimated 80 percent of the chapels in Chile were destroyed or left unusable.

Funding for religious and clergy personnel in 14 countries totaled more than $400,000. The subcommittee also provided grants to support indigenous faith communities in Ecuador, Guatemala, Venezuela, Mexico and Nicaragua.

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Pope will make final decision on Legionaries, Vatican spokesman states

Rome, Italy, Apr 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI will make the final decisions regarding the Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries of Christ, clarified the Vatican spokesman on Wednesday. A meeting between the bishops involved in investigations of the religious congregation will take place in Rome on Friday.

The Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries was called for by the Holy See in March 2009 and began on July 15. Archbishop of Denver Charles Chaput is among the five bishops from Europe and the Americas responsible for compiling reports for the visitation.

A meeting of the five Apostolic Visitors will take place in the Eternal City on April 30.

Fr. Federico Lombardi explained in brief message released through Vatican Radio on Wednesday that it will be the Pope who will make any decisions concerning the Legionaries.

The Vatican spokesman told journalists that no specific decisions are expected to result from the encounter this week as the five bishops plan to use the meeting to present their initial reports and proposals.

A decision will come at a later date, after Pope Benedict has had the opportunity to review and reflect on the conclusions of the reports.

Fr. Lombardi added that a statement will follow Friday's meeting.

The five apostolic visitors designated by the Holy Father are: Bishop Ricardo Watti Urquidi of Tepic, Mexico; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado; Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Concepcion, Chile; Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi of Alejandria, Italy; and Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao, Spain.

Each of them is responsible for presenting a report concerning the five distinct geographical areas of the Legionaries' international operations.

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