CNA STAFF, May 28, 2010 (CNA) - Alfred M. Rotondaro, chair of the board of directors of the Obama-supporting group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, has called for a “new Vatican Council” while claiming abortion is “here to stay” and “gay sex is good.” In reply, one Catholic theologian suggests he is not a good judge of when a Church council is needed.
In a May 25 piece for the Huffington Post, Rotondaro claimed the Catholic Church is having “a mental breakdown.” He complained about Catholic schools’ refusal to enroll the children of lesbian parents, Marquette University’s withdrawal of a dean offer to a lesbian sociologist, and the bishops’ “punishing” of nuns who supported the health care bill.
Rotondaro, who is also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., proposed “a new Vatican Council,” saying the world would benefit from “an application of traditional Catholic values presented by a reinvigorated Church.”
He said the role of women in the Church should be a starting place, claiming he has “never seen any rational reason” why a woman could not be a priest.
“A second point is the theme of sex. Sex comes from God. It should be celebrated,” his Huffington Post piece continued. “Gay sex comes from God. Married sex without the intent of procreation is now an evil, according to the hierarchy. But does any practicing Catholic under age 80 believe this?
“And in a pluralistic nation like America, we must realize that abortion is here to stay. We must examine the reasons for abortion and deal with those reasons to reduce abortions.”
“But one last important point is that the council must be held in the spirit of John Paul and of America's secular saint -- Abraham Lincoln,” Rotondaro’s article concluded. “The spirit that animated those magnificent men must guide the new Vatican Council.”
CNA spoke about Rotondaro’s piece with Prof. Janet Smith, holder of the Father Michael J. McGivney Chair of Life Ethics at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.
In a Thursday e-mail, she wrote that she wondered whether he was “a reincarnated Rip Van Winkle.”
“The items he wants to have discussed have been discussed and will continue to be discussed. A council won't be able to resolve any of the issues he raises.”
In Smith’s view, he mixes together issues like abortion and sexual ethics, matters of moral principle, with how best to deal with settling immigrants, a matter of both moral principle and context.
This mixture of issues shows that “he is not a good judge of when a council is needed,” Smith commented.
His claim to have never heard a rational reason against the ordination of women “suggests he has read very little of the defenses of the Church's position.”
Acknowledging that sex is “a gift from God,” Smith said Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body is “particularly effective” in promoting such truths.
A church council in the spirit of John Paul II and Abraham Lincoln would not yield Rotondaro’s expected results, Smith told CNA. “It is hard to imagine either approving of abortion or homosexual marriages. Their views were governed by eternal moral principles, not trendy political correctness.”
A hypothetical council “would certainly be as strong or stronger on questions such as abortion, contraception, and same sex relationships,” Prof. Smith said.
Asked whether Rotondaro is right to say abortion is “here to stay,” Smith replied that all sin is “here to stay until the Second Coming.”
“The question is whether we are going to recognize sin as sin or claim that it is a fundamental human right. Again, Rotondaro seems to have been inattentive to what has been happening in the Church and in the culture. The opposition to abortion is growing, especially among young people.”
She suggested the writer was “oblivious” to measures already being taken to reduce the numbers of abortions, like the “many more” pregnancy help centers in operation than abortion clinics. Further, many Christians work at “enormous personal sacrifice” to help women react to pregnancies “in a moral fashion.”
“Is he oblivious to efforts to teach young people the value of remaining chaste? Abortions would virtually disappear if people waited until marriage to have sex.
“Rotondaro and others need to consider whether it is a change in the Church that is needed, or a change in the culture. Whose values have led to the mess our culture is in sexually?” Smith asked.
Los Angeles, Calif., May 28, 2010 (CNA) - As he prepares to lead the largest archdiocese in the United States, Archbishop Jose Gomez, spoke with CNA in an exclusive interview addressing the role of Hispanics in the U.S. Catholic Church.
The full text of the interview can be read below:
CNA: What is your own background?
Archbishop Gomez: I grew up in Monterrey, Mexico. My father was a medical doctor in Monterrey. My mother was raised in San Antonio, Texas, where she completed high school. She also went to college in Mexico City, and although she completed her course, my mother married my father instead of graduating. Education was always very important in my family.
I am both an American citizen and an immigrant, born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. Some of my ancestors were in what’s now Texas, since 1805. (At that time it was still under Spanish rule.) I’ve always had family and friends on both sides of the border.
CNA: As the next Archbishop of Los Angeles, you will be the most prominent Hispanic prelate in the Catholic Church in the United States. What is your view of the state of Catholicism among U.S. Hispanics?
Gomez: The number of Hispanics self-identifying as Catholics has declined from nearly 100 percent in just two decades, while the number who describe themselves as Protestant has nearly doubled, and the number saying they have “no religion” has also doubled.
I’m not a big believer in polls about religious beliefs and practice. But in this case the polls reflect pastoral experience on the ground.
CNA: What questions do you see as key for Catholic ministry to U.S. Hispanics?
Gomez: As Hispanics become more and more successful, more and more assimilated into the American mainstream, will they keep the faith? Will they stay Catholic or will they drift away—to Protestant denominations, to some variety of vague spirituality, or to no religion at all?
Will they live by the Church’s teachings and promote and defend these teachings in the public square? Or will their Catholicism simply become a kind of “cultural” background, a personality trait, a part of their upbringing that shapes their perspective on the world but compels no allegiance or devotion to the Church?
Hispanic ministry should mean only one thing—bringing Hispanic people to the encounter with Jesus Christ in his Church.
All our pastoral plans and programs presume that we are trying to serve Christ and his Gospel. But we can no longer simply presume Christ. We must make sure we are proclaiming him.
We should thank God every day many times for the good things we have been given. But we also need to give thanks to God through service, through works of mercy and love.
CNA: What is the most serious problem Hispanic Catholics face in the U.S.?
Gomez: The dominant culture in the United States, which is aggressively, even militantly secularized. This is a subject that unfortunately doesn’t get much attention at all in discussions about the future of Hispanic ministry. But it’s time that we change that.
“Practical atheism” has become the de facto state religion in America. The price of participation in our economic, political, and social life is that we essentially have to agree to conduct ourselves as if God does not exist. Religion in the U.S. is something we do on Sundays or in our families, but is not allowed to have any influence on what we do the rest of the week.
This is all very strange for a country that was founded by Christians—in fact by Hispanic Catholics. Indeed, in San Antonio, the Gospel was being preached in Spanish and Holy Mass was being celebrated by Hispanics before George Washington was born.
CNA: You have said these secularizing forces put even more pressure on Hispanics and other immigrant groups. Why?
Gomez: Because immigrants already face severe demands to “fit in,” to downplay what is culturally and religiously distinct about them; to prove that they are “real” Americans, too. We might feel subtle pressures to blend in, to assimilate, to downplay our heritage and our distinctive identities as Catholics and Hispanics.
I believe that in God’s plan, the new Hispanic presence is to advance our country’s spiritual renewal. To restore the promise of America’s youth. In this renewed encounter with Hispanic faith and culture, I believe God wants America to rediscover values it has lost sight of—the importance of religion, family, friendship, community, and the culture of life.
CNA: What are other challenges facing Hispanics in the U.S.?
Gomez: In our Hispanic ministries, we must understand that we are preaching the Good News to the poor. The second and third generation of Hispanics are much better educated, much more fluent in the dominant language, and are living at a higher economic standard of living than the first generation.
But still about one-quarter of all Hispanics, no matter what generation, are living below the poverty line. Combine that with high school drop-out rates of about 22 percent, and a dramatic rise in the number of Hispanic children being raised in single-parent homes—both strong indicators of future poverty—and I worry that we may be ministering to a permanent Hispanic underclass.
We have moral and social problems too. Our people have some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, abortion, and out-of-wedlock births, of any ethnic group in the country. These are things we don’t talk about enough. But we cannot write these issues off as just “conservative issues.”
To my mind, these are serious “justice” issues. If we want justice for our young people, if we want what God wants for them, then we need to find ways to teach our young people virtue, self-discipline, and personal responsibility.
CNA: What do you tell Latino leaders?
Gomez: Don’t be intimidated by the truths of our faith. They are a gift from God. Let these truths touch your heart and change your life.
You should own copies of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. If you spend a few minutes each day reading these books and also reading from the Gospel, you will notice a change. You will look at the world and your own lives with new eyes.
“Be proud of your heritage! Deepen your sense of your Hispanic identity, the traditions and customs of our ancestors!” I tell them. “But you are Catholics. And ‘catholic’ means universal. That means you can’t define yourself —nor can you let society define you—solely by your ethnic identity. You are called to be leaders—not only in the Hispanic community, but in every area of our culture and society.”
As Catholic leaders and as Hispanics, we must reclaim this culture for God.
Being a leader means, first of all, accepting Jesus Christ as the ruler of your life. The martyrs of Mexico all lived—and died—with these words on their lips: Viva Cristo Rey! (“May Christ the King live!”) To be true leaders, the living Christ must be your king.
CNA: What is the role of the Church in the political debate over immigration?
Gomez: The Church is not a political party or interest group. It is not the Church’s primary task to fight political battles or to be engaged in debates over specific policies. This task belongs to the laity.
The Church’s interest in immigration is not a recent development. It doesn’t grow out of any political or partisan agenda. No. It is a part of our original religious identity as Catholics, as Christians. We must defend the immigrant if we are to be worthy of the name Catholic.
For bishops and priests, our job as pastors is to help form our peoples’ consciences, especially those who work in the business community and in government. We need to instill in our people a greater sense of their civic duty to work for reforms in a system that denies human dignity to so many.
While we forcefully defend the rights of immigrants, we must also remind them of their duties under Catholic social teaching. Chief among these duties is the obligation to respect the laws of their new country.
We need to help ensure that these newcomers become true Americans while preserving their own distinctive identity and culture, in which religion, family, friendship, community, and the culture of life are important values.
I’m not a politician. I’m a pastor of souls. And as a pastor I believe the situation that’s developed today is bad for the souls of Americans. There is too much anger. Too much resentment. Too much fear. Too much hate. It’s eating people up.
In this volatile debate, the Church must be a voice of compassion, reason, and moral principle.
The Church has an important role to play in promoting forgiveness and reconciliation on this issue. We must work so that justice and mercy, not anger and resentment, are the motives behind our response to illegal immigration.
CNA: How should Catholics respond to immigration?
Gomez: Unfortunately anti-immigrant sentiment and anti-Hispanic bias is a problem today, even among our fellow Catholics. I don’t want to over-dramatize the situation. But we do need to be honest and recognize that racial prejudice is a driving factor behind a lot of our political conversation about immigration.
In the bitter debates of recent years, I have been alarmed by the indifference of so many of our people to Catholic teaching and to the concrete demands of Christian charity.
It is not only the racism, xenophobia, and scapegoating. These are signs of a more troubling reality. Many of our Catholic people no longer see the foreigners sojourning among them as brothers and sisters. To listen to the rhetoric in the U.S. and elsewhere it is as if the immigrant is not a person, but only a thief or a terrorist or a simple work-animal.
We can never forget that Jesus himself and his family were migrants. They were forced into Egypt by the bad policies of a bad government. This was to show us Christ’s solidarity with refugees, displaced persons, and immigrants—in every time and in every place.
We all know these words of Jesus: “For I was a stranger and you welcomed me . . . As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:35, 40). We need to restore the truth that the love of God and the love of neighbor have been forever joined in the teaching—and in the person—of Jesus Christ.
Many of these new laws on immigration are harsh and punitive. The law should not be used to scare people, to invade their homes and work-sites, to break up families.
I would like to see a moratorium on new state and local legislation. And, as the U.S. bishops recently called for, I would like to see an end to federal work-site enforcement raids.
The bottom line is that as long as workers can earn more in one hour in the U.S. than they can earn in a day or a week in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, they will continue to migrate to this country. Immigration has to do with peoples’ rights to share in the goods they need to secure their livelihoods.
We need to come together and find a solution to the complicated economic, national security, and legal issues raised by immigration.
CNA: But how would you respond to those angered by illegal immigration? Shouldn’t those in the country illegally face punishment?
Gomez: As we stress the Church’s moral principles, we need to be more sensitive to people’s fears. The opponents of immigration are also people of faith.
They are afraid. And their fears are legitimate.
The fact is that millions of immigrants are here in blatant violation of U.S. law. This makes law-abiding Americans angry. And it should.
We have to make sure that our laws are fair and understandable. At the same time, we have to insist that our laws be respected and enforced. Those who violate our laws have to be punished.
The question is how? What punishments are proper and just? I think, from a moral standpoint, we’re forced to conclude that deporting immigrants who break our laws is too severe a penalty.
Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enforce the laws. It means we need to find more suitable penalties. I would suggest that intensive, long-term community service would be a far more constructive solution than deportation. This would build communities rather than tear them apart. And it would serve to better integrate the immigrants into the social and moral fabric of America.
Rome, Italy, May 28, 2010 (CNA) - Advocating peace and hope, the new auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem said Christians in the Holy Land should “get out of the ghetto” and rediscover their calling.
William Hanna Shomali was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem in the Church of St. Katherine in Bethlehem on Thursday. Before his ordination, he gave an interview with the Franciscan Media Centre.
He appealed for peace and hope, noting that emigration is one of the foremost problems of the Church of Jerusalem.
“The situation is difficult, that’s why we need dialogue not violence, we need to work together, pray and hope,” he remarked, according to SIR News. “The conflict we have been living for decades is not just political or military, it is also ideological. But the time of peace will come, we are sure of that.”
“The Holy Land, without Christians, is poor,” he continued. “Our presence here is in a moderating role, as also recognized by Jews and Muslims. But our devotees must rediscover that being Christians in the Holy Land is a call. So we must not fall into the temptation, induced by our being few, to live segregated into a religious and cultural ghetto. Let’s get out of the ghetto.”
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Fouad Twal, patriarchal vicar to Jordan Bishop Salim Sayegh and patriarchal vicar to Israel Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo co-consecrated the new auxiliary.
On Friday Bishop Shomali will officiate at his first Mass as bishop in the parish church of Our Lady of Fatima in Beit Sahour.
Vatican City, May 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
President of the Italian Christian Democratic Party, Rocco Buttiglione, spoke with CNA following the morning sessions of the Hildebrand Project's first day of a conference on love. He remarked that standing in solidarity with Pope Benedict XVI is rediscovering our encounter with Christ.
The Catholic politician spoke during his presentation about parallels and distinctions between Dietrich von Hildebrand and Joseph Ratzinger's thoughts on love.
Buttiglione talked to CNA afterward about the how the Church can express its love to the Successor of St. Peter today. He explained that we are in the Church because of our encounter with Christ and our realization that he "has our true identity (which is) more intimate to us than our nature of identity and this recognition puts us together.
"The big scandal," he went on, "is that the people should look at the community of Christians and say, 'How much do they love one other!' 'What an extraordinary kind of event must have taken place among them!'"
But this is not always the case, explained Buttiglione, because love is not seen in the building of the community.
In this regard, he observed, as a great theologian of "Communio," Pope Benedict XVI's entire life is "an attempt to be a witness" to the "event" of the bringing about the "present" of Jesus Christ here on earth.
Loving the Pope today, he said, is rediscovering "the present" and "the possibility" of this event and it entails finding people with whom to create this spirit. It can't be done alone, he explained.
Concluding his thoughts on the expression of solidarity within the Church and towards the Pope, Buttiglione said, "The Church is a brotherhood and you must complete it with persons you consider brothers and with whom you live as brothers."
Vatican City, May 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father spoke extensively about the role of fraternity in society on Friday while meeting with the new ambassador to the Holy See from the African country of Benin. Looking to the country's motto, he highlighted the relationship of fraternity, justice and the need for political leaders who work for the good of the people.
Benedict XVI addressed the words to Comlanvi Theodore Loko on Friday as he received him in audience for the delivery of his diplomatic credentials.
Noting the country of Benin's motto of "Fraternity, Justice, Work," Pope Benedict called the on the Beninese to promote true fraternity as "an essential precondition for social peace and a factor of integral human promotion."
It is the "concrete expression of the equal dignity of all citizens," he said, "a fundamental principle and base virtue for building a genuinely illuminated society ..."
Fraternity, he said, "must also lead to the search for justice, the absence of which is always a cause of social tension and leads to dire consequences."
Alluding to the corruption that has led to instability in the country, the Holy Father went on to speak of the "evil" manifested by those who seek personal gain over the search for the common good. This, he explained, "little by little undermines public institutions and prevents the full development of human beings.
"A country's political, economic and social leaders are its 'social conscience,'guaranteeing the transparency of its structures and the ethics that animate the life of society,” he underscored.
"They must be just. Justice always accompanies fraternity."
Lastly, Pope Benedict touched on the importance of people engaging in work, which “can satisfy their basic needs and contribute to building a prosperous, just and fraternal society.”
Praising Benin's motto as the demonstration of a nation aspiring to noble human ideals, the Holy Father said that its application “contributes to solidarity with other nations," a fact that he noted was displayed by the people of Benin when they sent aid to Haiti after its devastating earthquake.
Mexico City, Mexico, May 28, 2010 (CNA) - The National Institute of Statistics and Geography in Mexico stated this week that the 2010 census will include an “open question” to enable each Mexican citizen to identify his or her religious affiliation without bias.
In a letter to the Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news service, Mexican officials said census workers would be instructed to ask respondents, “What is the religion professed by (name of the person),” and would write down “literally what the respondent says.”
“The answer will not be multiple choice. Each respondent will answer out loud stating the religion he or she professes, and it will be duly noted,” officials said. “It is important to point out that this question will be addressed to each person who resides at the home in question, as this has proven to be the most adequate method of determining the religion of the Mexican population without bias.”
Officials also said census workers would be attentive to synonyms often used by Mexicans to describe their affiliation with the Catholic faith, such as “Guadalupan, Franciscan, Carmelite, Jesuit.”
“In this way we will be assured that no answer related to Catholicism will be excluded,” they said.
Officials urged Mexicans to participate in the census, which will take place May 31-June 25.
Kingston, Jamaica, May 28, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Donald James of Kingston, Jamaica, said the violence sweeping the capital that has taken the lives of at least 73 people, is the result of the corruption reigning in the country.
The archbishop said the violence resulting from efforts by police to capture drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke and extradite him to the U.S. is “a consequence of a combination of factors related to economic problems, drugs and corruption.”
In a pastoral letter, the archbishop also pointed out that “anarchy is a true threat for all of us.” “Violence,” he continued, “is the result of laxity and the lack of integrity and responsibility on the part of everyone, but above all of politicians who for years have cultivated relationships with criminals and entire gangs in order to gain votes.”
Msgr. Kenneth Richards, the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Kingston, said drug lords such as Coke began as political activists in the 1960s but gradually became involved in illegal activities. “In the last 20 years, the islands of the Caribbean have become true centers in the drug trade between South America and the United States,” he said.
Msgr. Richards also explained that “those who have taken to the streets to defend Coke, including hundreds of women who have organized a protest, see him as a benefactor and have even compared him to Jesus.”
Mexico City, Mexico, May 28, 2010 (CNA) - Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled that a directive issued by the health department ordering hospitals to make the morning-after pill available in cases of rape is constitutional, despite scientific studies that show the drug is an abortifacient.
The case reached the Supreme Court after the Governor of Jalisco, Emilio Gonzalez, challenged the directive, arguing it violates the Mexican constitution.
Cristina Marquez, a researcher at the Department of Embryology at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, confirmed that the morning-after pill can work as an abortifacient.
If taken 24 to 48 hours after sexual relations, the pill can prevent the implantation of an embryo in the uterus.
“The union of the sperm and ovum results in a new human being, no matter what happens from the embryological point of view, what is formed is a new human being. And the intention of using this kind of drug would be to precisely prevent the embryo from forming,” she said.
Marquez also warned that the drug alters a woman’s hormonal balance and can lead to serious health problems.
Toledo, Spain, May 28, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - The Archbishop of Madrid and president of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, praised the “great service” of priests around the world, “especially in these times marked by discouragement, skepticism and sadness.” The prelate then encouraged them to be “ministers of authentic joy.”
During Mass at the Cathedral of Toledo for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress, Cardinal Rouco said, “We must spare no effort in encouraging priestly vocations and underscoring to the faithful the true meaning and necessity of the priestly ministry.”
He also spoke of the Eucharist, saying, “Without the Eucharist, there is no Church and without priests there is no Eucharist, and thus there is no Church.”
“We must not forget that the security of man to draw near the true altar of God depends decisively on the priestly ministry that takes place in the Church as Eucharistic ministry,” the cardinal said.
He reminded priests during the Mass that with prayer, “The Christian communities we serve become authentic schools of prayer, as John Paul II desired and requested.” He called the Eucharistic Congress “a new invitation to give thanks to God for our ministry and for the supreme gift of the Eucharist that we must embrace with devotion.”
Vatican City, May 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI told members of the Vatican department for migrants today that those they serve have rights based solely on the fact that they are human beings. He encouraged international cooperation and a sense of co-responsibility between states and private organizations in finding solutions to migration that simultaneously respect national sovereignty and the rights of the individual.
Speaking in the Apostolic Palace with around 40 participants from this week's plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, the Holy Father commented on their theme of "Ministry of human mobility today, in the context of the co-responsibility of States and International Organisms."
"Obviously, the acquisition of rights goes hand in hand with the acceptance of duties," Pope Benedict remarked, reminding participants of the importance of the dignity of the person in their discussions about the rights and duties of migrants and those of their eventual host communities.
"Everyone, in fact, enjoys non-arbitrary rights and duties because they spring from the very human nature ... rights and duties that are therefore universal, inviolable and inalienable," he said.
Referring to global issues associated with international mobility, he said that there is a common responsibility for states and organizations that deal with migration to work to involve all peoples and to promote a shared plan.
"In such a context," he explained, "National and international laws which promote the common good and respect for the person encourage the hopes and efforts being made to achieve a world social order founded on peace, fraternity and universal co-operation, despite the critical phase international institutions are currently traversing as they concentrate on resolving crucial questions of security and development for everyone.”
The Holy Father noted that there is no lack of desire "to break down the walls that divide and to establish broad understanding also through legislative and administrative measures that favor integration, mutual exchange, and reciprocal enrichment."
It is in "reconciling recognition for the rights of the individual with the principle of national sovereignty, making specific reference to the needs of security, public order, and the control of borders," that cooperating states and organizations can contribute, he explained.
Pope Benedict went on to say that the “future of our societies rests on the encounter between peoples, on dialogue between cultures while respecting identities and legitimate differences. In this scenario, the family maintains its fundamental role, he stressed.
"Therefore," the Pope said, "the Church, by announcing the Gospel of Christ in all areas of life, carries forward her commitment 'not only in favor of the individual migrant, but also of his family, which is a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values.'"
The Holy Father left participants with the message that the Church is relying on the council to speak to organizations that dedicate themselves to migrants and make them more aware of ways to take co-ownership of helping migrants and their families.
Rome, Italy, May 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Ministry spoke about the significance of living by faith through experiences of suffering and disease this week. Faith, said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, leads a person to adopt an attitude that transcends sickness and health.
Launching the Genoan Days of Christian Culture in Rome, Archbishop Zimowski delivered a talk on “Therapy, Ethics and Religion.” The event is running from May 26-29 under the theme "I, the Lord, am your healer. Disease versus religion between ancient and modern eras."
The archbishop began his talk by looking at how disease and suffering are phenomena that, if examined, raise questions that go beyond medicine to reach the essence of the human condition.
In the trauma of experiencing disease we perceive the fragility of human nature, he said, since it can cause fear, dependence and discouragement. A person's "confidence in life" can be put to the test, the Vatican's head of health noted, "but also his very faith in God and his or her love of the Father."
It's about understanding that life comes from God through the experience of weakness, he said, and about "an abandonment to confidence, a concrete hope in the consciousness that sufferings have a meaning, even if it is humanly incomprehensible, as in God is the source of life."
Archbishop Zimowski referred to John Paul II's words from his 1984 Apostolic Letter "Salvifici doloris," in which the late Pope explained that as man takes up his cross, unifying himself to Christ in his suffering, a "salvific meaning" is revealed to him. In this way, he said, "the disease becomes for the believer that which he is and wishes to be before God and himself: he can transform it according to his own vision of existence."
While maintaining that faith doesn't deny scientific progress or substitute for medicine, Archbishop Zimowski said that it helps bring about an attitude in the sick person "that transcends sickness and health to live the words of the Apostle Paul, 'Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church.'"
Vatican City, May 28, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - "The dignity of their ministry doesn't exempt priests from difficulty, from temptations and from weaknesses that sometimes shake and put their path towards holiness to the test," said Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga on Friday. To avoid "burnout," he said, pastors must center their attention on Christ, but also remain conscious of their own human and psychological needs.
The Honduran cardinal and head of Caritas Internationalis was speaking in Rome at the release of the book, "Ease and hardship in the pastoral service and the mission of the Church. Recognizing and curing 'burnout' in devotion to others."
Reflecting on the content and theme of the new book, the prelate said that priests, overwhelmed by the many challenges, excessive requests and possible difficulties arising within their ministry can become tired, experience psychological harm and eventually suffer from "pastoral burnout."
As their ministry goes beyond just "things to do," requiring their full attention and participation in relations with people of all ages and conditions, explained Cardinal Maradiaga, "if it is not balanced with a healthy interior life, it can cause a sense of uncertainty and inadequacy emerge, or also the fear of failing or feeling judged, thus (making them) lose sight of the very meaning of their work."
To combat the possibility "denaturing" their sense of altruism in loving others, he said, they must "nourish a constant attention to themselves, to their own human and psychological needs. But also a constant attention to He who they are called to serve, Jesus the Good Shepherd ..."
Citing the research of the book's author, Professor Giuseppe Crea, Cardinal Maradiaga explained that to avoid this "wearing spiral," they must be conscious of how to live their devotion to others, noting personal hardships, "but above all the profound motivations of their service."
This requires a lifestyle coherent with the faith, he said, and a love "genuinely oriented to the good and the salvation of those that are entrusted to their pastoral care."