Turin, Italy, May 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Shroud is a reminder to us of the darkness and light of Holy Saturday, Pope Benedict said from the altar before the "Icon" in the Cathedral of Turin. In the image stained with blood, he taught, we find "the darkest mystery of the faith and at the same time the brightest sign of a hope that doesn't have limits."
Visiting the Shroud on Sunday afternoon, the Holy Father gave a meditation on "Passio Christi – Passio hominis, Christ's passion - Man's passion." Before the Pope's visit, Cardinal Archbishop of Turin Severino Poletto had referred to this catechesis as the highlight of the 44-day exposition of the Shroud.
The Holy Father called his second time in front of the Shroud a "much awaited moment" and noted the "particular intensity" of the occasion. He said that perhaps he felt a greater intensity because with time he has become more sensitive to its message, but also because this time he was visiting as the Successor of Peter and he carries in his heart "all of the Church, or rather, all of humanity."
Speaking of the Shroud as the "Icon of Holy Saturday," Pope Benedict observed that it offers an image of Jesus' body during the time it was in the tomb, which was "brief chronologically - around a day and a half - but immense, infinite in its value and significance."
He explained that over the last century we have become "particularly sensitive" to the mystery of Holy Saturday as "the concealment of God is part of the spirituality of modern man, essentially, almost unconsciously, like an ever-expanding emptiness in the heart."
"Following the two World Wars, the concentration camps, the gulags, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our age has increasingly become an Easter Saturday. The darkness of that day is a call to everyone who questions themselves about life, particularly to us as believers," he said.
Noting that "We too are involved in this darkness,” Benedict XVI turned to the fact that Christ's death has a "totally positive" aspect as the source of consolation and hope. It is "the darkest mystery of the faith and at the same time the brightest sign of a hope that doesn't have limits," he said.
The Shroud "speaks to us" of the time Jesus spent in "no man's land," said the Pope, "between death and resurrection," when he descended into Hades, into solitude and abandonment "in order to lead us to cross it with Him."
As when the presence of a loved one reassures us when we feel abandoned, on Easter Saturday, "in the kingdom of death the voice of God resounded. The unthinkable happened ... Love penetrated Hades.
"Also in the extreme darkness of most absolute human solitude we can hear a voice that calls us to find a hand that takes us and guides us out."
The Holy Father also reflected on how men live because they are loved and can love, "if love has penetrated even into the place of death, then life has arrived there too. "In the hour of extreme solitude we will never be alone: 'Passio Christi - Passio hominis.'"
"This is the mystery of Holy Saturday!" the Pope exclaimed. "It was from there, from the darkness of the death of the Son of God, that the light of a new hope shone forth: the light of the Resurrection. And I feel that, looking at this sacred cloth with the eyes of faith, something of this light is perceived."
Many people visit the Shroud, the Pope observed, because they see in it "not so much the defeat of life and love, but rather the victory, victory of life over death, of love over hate. They do see the death of Jesus, but they catch a glimpse of his Resurrection; in the bosom of death now pulsates life, insofar as it is inhabited by love."
This, said Benedict XVI, is "the power of the Shroud - of the face of this 'Man of sorrows,' that carries on it the passion of the man of every time and place, also our passions, our sufferings, our difficulties, and our sins ..."
The linen, he said, "speaks with blood, the blood of life!"
Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 3, 2010 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Antonio Marino of La Plata reminded Argentinean lawmakers last week to protect the non-negotiable values of marriage and the right to life.
Bishop Marino, who is a member of the Argentinean bishops’ Committee on Faith and Culture, conveyed the Church’s concern to the lawmakers and reminded them that while some laws must be urgently passed, others that refer to the natural law require “greater debate.”
“Human rights are not given or granted; we are born with them,” the bishop said. He added that the bishops’ opposition to homosexual unions is based not only on religious reasons, but also on natural law.
“Some values are non-negotiable,” he said.
For their part, the lawmakers called for greater support from the Church in order to have more discussion when the time comes for the debate of such laws.
Turin, Italy, May 3, 2010 (CNA) -
Meeting with youth after lunch on Sunday in Turin, the Holy Father offered some thoughts he hoped would aid young people in their spiritual growth and their mission within the Church and the world. He put particular emphasis on the need for youth to be decisive in making "irrevocable" choices and outlined specific ways for them to live a more fruitful faith.
Thousands of young people gathered Turin's St. Charles Square, the site of Mass earlier Sunday morning, to hear the Holy Father speak.
In his address, he noted that the current mentality makes it difficult to speak about eternal life and "everlasting things" because it tells us that nothing is definite, that everything changes and does so quickly.
As such, he pointed out, "young people are also led to think that it is impossible to make definitive choices that commit you for life."
However, Pope Benedict said, "each of us was created to make, not provisional and reversible choices, but definitive and irrevocable choices which give full meaning to existence.
"God created us with a view to the 'forever' and in each of our hearts He placed the seed for a life that creates something great and beautiful."
The Holy Father spoke about the words of Jesus to the young rich man that love is "life's greatest wealth," and "that nothing is greater than participating in God's life of love."
Today's culture often leads us to individualism rather than "profound and disinterested human relationships, but the hearts of the young are by nature sensitive to true love,” the Pope noted.
"Thus, with great trust, I address myself to each of you and say: it is not easy to make something great and beautiful of your lives ... but with Christ everything is possible."
The Pope called on the youth to build a relationship of love with God through the Church and Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Confession. He also exhorted them to become familiar with the Word of God and to find his love in the charity of the Church.
"Christ's love for the young man of the Gospel is the same as that (which) He has for each of you. It is not a love confined to the past, it is not an illusion, it is not reserved for the few," he said.
Pope Benedict invited youth to see themselves as "a 'living part' of the Church, unafraid, involved in the work of evangelization," together with the Church community and pastors, while "avoiding individualist tendencies even in the life of faith, in order deeply to absorb the beauty of being part of the great mosaic that is the Church of Christ."
"Have the courage to choose that which is essential in life!" he exclaimed.
Pope Benedict XVI closed by sharing with the young people his prayer that the Holy Shroud will serve as an invitation "to inscribe the face of God's love into your hearts, in order to become, in your own lives and among your peers, a credible expression of the face of Christ."
Madrid, Spain, May 3, 2010 (CNA) - The Spanish daily, La Razon, announced the upcoming publication of new book by Pope Benedict XVI titled, “Praising God With Art.” In it, he illustrates his “passion for music and reflects on art, liturgy and theology.”
In “Praising God With Art,” the Holy Father “writes about theology, Vatican II, art and the liturgy,” and explains how “the beauty of artistic creation is an excellent means for reaching God,” reported La Razon.
“There is a profound relationship between music and hope, between singing and eternal life: it is not in vain that the Christian tradition depicts the blessed spirits singing in choir, in ecstasy and raptured by the beauty of God,” the article pointed out. “Authentic art, like prayer, does not take us away from daily reality, but rather brings us back to it in order to ‘water it’ and make it germinate so that it bears the fruit of good and peace,” it said.
In the book Pope Benedict XVI “thanks the musicians who play for him at the audiences and official ceremonies,” and he expresses his passion for his favorite composer, Mozart, saying, “Above all he leaves me with a sense of gratitude for having given us all this and for the fact that all of that was given to him.”
The Holy Father also offers a theological and Christian critique of the great musical composers like Beethoven and Schubert, whose music produces a “melodic story that penetrates the soul with sweetness, leading the listener himself to feel the same call to the truth of the heart that goes beyond the reasoning felt by the musician.”
The book includes an introduction by Riccardo Muti, the director of the Opera Theater in Rome.
Caracas, Venezuela, May 3, 2010 (CNA) - In their message for International Workers’ Day on May 1, the bishops of Venezuela exhorted the country’s government to provide “an improved quality of life” to workers in order to build a more peaceful, unified society.
After recalling Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate,” in which the Holy Father urges the “full and integral development of workers,” the Venezuelan bishops encouraged efforts to continue building a society that is more just, equitable and peaceful, in which dialogue and unity are the pillars rooted in the culture of the world of work and in the search for higher wages and improved benefits.
“We are united with those men and women suffering from unemployment, as well as with those who live permanently under the threat of being laid off because a certain ideology is put above their dignity and rights, creating despair and uncertainty,” the bishops said.
“We reaffirm that nothing is more important than the dignity of human beings and their right to be participants in the transformation of creation,” they stated.
The bishops also encouraged greater unity among workers and between employees and their leaders. “We also call on the federal government to seek channels for authentic and permanent social dialogue that prioritizes equality for all workers through decent pay and social security.”
All those involved in the labor force must work to improve the living conditions of workers, the bishops stressed. No ideology or personal or political interests must overshadow what corresponds to workers: an improved quality of life,” they concluded.
Vatican City, May 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The bishops of Belgium, led by Archbishop of Malines Bruxelles André-Joseph Leonard, are at the Holy See this week for their periodic visit to the "threshold of the apostles." Among other issues on the agenda for their time at the Vatican will be discussions regarding sexual abuse, which led to the resignation of a bishop last month.
The Belgian bishops' "ad Limina" visit started this morning and will wrap up on Friday in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The bishops were joined by Fr. Koen Vanhoutte diocesan administrator for the recent vacated Diocese of Bruges, the secretary general for the Belgian bishops' conference and the diocesan administrator for the Diocese of Namur.
Archbishop Leonard, primate of Belgium spoke with Vatican Radio about the visit, saying, "Surely we will touch on the painful questions that have been placed in our country after the resignation of the bishop of Bruges."
On April 23, the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Bishop Roger Joseph Vangheluwe from leading the Diocese of Bruges after his own admission of having committed sexual abuse of a minor.
Archbishop Leonard himself has recently been accused of covering up abuses in the 1990s.
"It's inevitable," the archbishop said, that the subject and the measures the Belgian Church plans to take to face the situation will be discussed in meetings at the Vatican this week.
Other subjects to be addressed will be "without doubt the challenges of secularization and also bioethical questions that in Belgium are particularly poignant, especially as far as they concern euthanasia."
Additionally, the question of inter-religious dialogue, "seeing as we are in a society where the immigration from Muslim countries is significant" and the promotion of vocations are to be addressed, according to the archbishop.
Archbishop Leonard also told Vatican Radio of the solidarity of the conference and that they were looking forward to the visit to tombs of the Apostles and the audience with the Pope and Roman Curia. He called the opportunities "privileged" moments in which the prelates can "deepen further the bonds of communion and of friendship that already unite us."
This morning, the bishops began the week of meetings by celebrating Mass in the crypt below St. Peter's Basilica.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 3, 2010 (CNA) - The Mexican Bishops’ Committee on the Family, Youth and the Laity, called on Mexicans this week “to commit themselves before God” to protecting the “life and dignity of children, and their integrity in the family, the Church and society.”
The statement, signed by Bishop Francisco Chavolla Ramos, was released for Children's Day. The message recalled the value that the Gospel gives to children. “The Lord Jesus, the Son of God, was very severe with those who harm a child, no matter who they are.”
Moreover, the statement indicated, “The Church does not forget that Christ made children the examples and teachers of simplicity, which opens the gates of the Kingdom of God for us.” For this reason, “He commanded us adults to treat them with special importance, respecting in each child the innocence that allows them to contemplate the very Face of God.”
“We discover that the child, all children, are Good News and must embraced, with a thankful heart, by both parents and those of us who have the mission of supporting them.” The statement added that they must be cared for and educated “in the love of a family.”
Bishop Chavolla called for a conversion of heart so that by transforming the family, the Church and society, all Mexican children would be guaranteed the care of which God himself is the guarantor and custodian.
“All of us who form the Catholic Church, as disciples and missionaries, will always fight to promote them, support them and offer them comprehensive education that will prepare them for a decent, full and happy life,” the bishop concluded.
London, England, May 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Sunday Telegraph in Britain reported yesterday that several Anglican bishops met with Vatican officials to discuss the process of converting to the Catholic Church.
Despite the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams reportedly urging them not to leave the Church of England, several bishops are looking to leave the Anglican Communion over their opposition to the introduction of women bishops and priests.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, Bishops John Broadhurst, Keith Newton and Andrew Burnham, from the Dioceses of Fulham, Richborough and Ebbsfleet respectively, all met with senior Vatican officials last week.
Meeting with leaders from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Anglican bishops discussed the possibility of becoming Catholic, in accordance with Pope Benedict's recent invitation. The Holy Father's “Anglicanorum coetibus,” a motu propio which was released in Nov. 2009, offered Vatican guidelines for Anglican groups to enter into communion with the Catholic Church.
The Associated Press released an article on Monday quoting Bishop Broadhurst, who confirmed that the trip had taken place yet declined to comment on what was discussed.
“I don't want to be drawn on it,” he told the AP, saying that the issue “can damage both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.”
Bishop Newton added that the visit consisted of "nothing more than exploratory talks."
Church of England officials refused to speak publicly about the issue.
Lambeth Palace told CNA on Monday that Archbishop Rowan Williams has not issued a statement in response to the Anglican bishops' meeting with Vatican officials. If the Church of England does offer a reaction, it will not happen until after May 3, which is a national holiday in Britain.
Turin, Italy, May 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During the Pope's visit to Turin on Sunday to venerate the Shroud and confirm the people of the city in the faith, the Holy Father stopped to see the sick and residents of the Little House of Divine Providence, founded by St. Joseph Benedict Cottolengo. He reminded the sick of their important contribution and highlighted the new life that "flowers" from Christ's passion.
The encounter was the last of the day and took place just after the Pope venerated the Shroud at the Cathedral of Turin, where he taught that the Icon "speaks to us," through blood, of the darkness and the light of Holy Saturday.
Remembering the founder of the "Little House" and the three religious families that have been born from it, the Holy Father expressed his gratitude to the sick as "the precious treasure of this house and of this work."
St. Cottolengo worked with the conviction that "the poor are Jesus, not his image," said Pope Benedict, remembering also that he referred to the poor as "our patrons." Moved by a love of Christ and man, he worked in "complete devotion to the service of the smallest and forgotten," recounted the Holy Father.
Speaking to the sick, the Pope said, "you carry out an important task: living your sufferings in union with Christ crucified and risen, you participate in the mystery of his suffering for the salvation of the world.
"Offering our pain to God through Christ," he taught, "we can collaborate in the victory of good over evil, because God makes our offering, our act of love, fruitful."
He implored the residents not to feel "foreign to the destiny of the world," but to see themselves as "precious pieces of a beautiful mosaic that God, as a great artist, is forming day by day.”
Christ died on the cross, said the Pope, so that "from that wood, from that sign of death, life could flower in all of its splendor.
"This House,” Benedict XVI said, referring to their residence, “is one of the mature fruits born of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, and it manifests that suffering, evil (and) death don't have the last word, because from death and suffering life can rise again."
Pope Benedict closed with a prayer, asking the Christ "illuminate our daily pilgrimage with the light of his Face; illuminate our life, the present and the future, the sorrow and the joy, the worry and the hope of all of humanity."
From the Little House of Divine Providence the Holy Father went to the airport for his return to Rome.
Vatican City, May 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father remembered the life and legacy of the recently deceased Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer on Monday morning. During his remarks, the Pontiff noted that in dying we achieve the "most profound desire of mankind," being reunited with God.
The funeral Mass for the 98-year-old cardinal, who died last Friday, was concelebrated by members of the College of Cardinals led by their dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The Holy Father gave the homily.
"As is the destiny of the human existence," observed Pope Benedict, "it blossoms from the earth ... and is called to Heaven, to the homeland from whence it mysteriously comes."
The Pope recalled the words of Christ from the cross, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit," and noted that every funeral celebration takes place "under the sign of hope."
Because in his last breath on the cross, Jesus sacrificed himself, taking on our sins and reestablishing the victory of life over death, he explained, "every man that dies in the Lord participates by faith in this act of infinite love, in some way returns his spirit together with Christ, in the sure hope that the hand of the Father will resurrect him from the dead and introduce him in the Kingdom of life.
"The great and unshakeable hope, resting on the solid rock of God's love, assures us that the life of those who die in Christ 'is not taken away but transformed' and that 'the abode of this earthly exile is destroyed, an eternal dwelling is being prepared in heaven'."
Amidst a climate in which a fear of death makes many despair and seek illusory consolations, "Christians stand out for the fact that they place their security in God, in a Love so great as to be able to renew the whole world," commented the Pope.
The vision is to achieve the "most profound desire of mankind," the Holy Father underscored, which is living in the "new Jerusalem," in peace, without the threat of death and in full communion with God and each other.
"The Church and, in particular, the monastic community, constitute a prefiguration on earth of this final goal," he said.
"It is an imperfect anticipation," he added, "marked by limits and sins, and therefore always in need of conversion and purification, and, nevertheless, in the Eucharistic community one looks forward to the victory of Christ's love over that which divides and mortifies."
Remembering the Benedictine cardinal and his lengthy life of service, especially in various dicasteries of the Holy See, Benedict XVI said that Cardinal Mayer always sought to realize the teaching of St. Benedict, "May nothing be put before love of Christ."
The cardinal was particularly remembered by the Holy Father for his service at the Pontifical Liturgical Institute and his promotion of dispositions concerning religious families from the Second Vatican Council.
He was prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and shortly after his elevation to cardinal in 1985 he became the first president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei."
The Pope recalled that as the first president of the commission, "Cardinal Mayer proved himself to be a zealous and faithful servant, seeking to apply the words of his motto: 'The love of Christ has brought us together in unity'."
Benedict XVI closed by saying to the prelates on hand, "our life is in every instant in the hands of the Lord, especially in the moment of death. For this, with the confident invocation of Jesus on the cross ... we wish to accompany our Brother Paul Augustin, while he completes his journey from this world to the Father."