Havana, Cuba, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA) -
Fulfilling a promise made in recent talks with the Catholic Church in Cuba, the Cuban government on Tuesday began moving political prisoners to jails closer to their homes.
Six men among the 75 government opponents jailed in a 2003 crackdown were being transferred to prisons nearer to their families in various Cuban cities, the Archdiocese of Havana said in a statement.
The relocated prisoners are: Félix Navarro Rodríguez, José Luis García Paneque, Iván Hernández Carrillo Adolfo, Diosdado González Marrero, Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique and Antonio Ramón Díaz Sánchez.
The archdiocese added, “Given the speculation generated in recent days regarding this process,” only information released by the Archbishop of Havana's office should be trusted.
Family members said they hoped the transfers were a first step towards freedom for the imprisoned, Reuters reports. The families had complained about the difficulty of visiting jailed dissidents in distant prisons.
Julia Nunez told Reuters she has been told her husband Adolfo Fernandez was among those being moved to a Havana prison from his current jail in the central Cuba city of Ciego de Avila.
"I am very happy. It's a small light at the end of the tunnel," she said.
Cuban President Raul Castro promised the prisoner relocations in a May 19 meeting with Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the Archbishop of Havana.
According to Reuters, the move was seen as a concession ahead of the mid-June visit of Vatican foreign minister Dominique Mamberti.
Catholic officials have also said that Castro pledged that ailing prisoners would be moved to hospitals. At least 26 are reported to be in ill health. Some reports have said Castro indicated an unknown number of prisoners may be released.
Breta Soler, a leader in the dissident group Ladies in White, said the government’s relocation of the prisoners was “a window, a door that is opening.”
“I think some of the most ill may be released," commented Soler, whose husband Angel Moya Acosta is serving a 20-year sentence.
Last month Cuban officials tried to stop the Ladies in White’s weekly protest marches, bringing in pro-government mobs to harass them for hours. However, they allowed the marches to proceed after Cardinal Ortega intervened.
Dissident Guillermo Farinas, who is almost 100 days into his hunger strike seeking the release of 26 ailing political prisoners, said the government’s action was “laudable.” According to Reuters, he said if the government releases 10 or 12 of the sick prisoners he might call off his fast, which has helped to prompt international criticism of the Cuban government.
After his May meeting with President Castro, Cardinal Ortega said that the topic of political prisoners was “being dealt with seriously.”
According to the cardinal, the discussions had “a magnificent beginning” which ought to continue.
Dublin, Ireland, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA) - In a recent article for the Irish Medical Times, a doctor argued that although he may “vehemently disagree” with many of his Catholic colleagues on issues such as contraception, “they may be assured that I will passionately defend their fundamental right to practice medicine according to their conscience.”
Dr. Ruairi Hanley made his remarks in an April 29 article, commenting on what he feels is a blatant intolerance for Catholicism in Modern Ireland and arguing that Catholic doctors have a right to act according to their faith, in what he believes to be an increasingly state-controlled realm of medicine in the country.
Referencing the media firestorm over recently surfaced clerical sex abuse cases in the Church in Ireland, Dr. Hanley began by qualifying that he accepts that “it is open season on the Roman faith.”
“The revelations of child abuse and cover-ups are truly a disgrace to our nation,” he granted. “It is understandable that people feel distraught at what occurred over the past six decades. Those who are guilty must be severely punished and substantial compensation should be paid to all victims.”
“However,” he added, “the reality is that bishops have now taken all possible measures to ensure that clerical sex abuse is never allowed to happen again. They are doing their utmost to ensure child safety. I believe their efforts should be acknowledged rather than dismissed in a crescendo of angry screams for vengeance.”
“For some, child safety is no longer the issue,” the doctor argued, “their agenda is the destruction of Irish Catholicism. I cannot escape the suspicion that these scandals have been a most welcome development for those with a lifelong axe to grind with our religious establishment.”
Despite the ill-intent that some may have for Church, he noted, we “must never forget that for decades, religious orders effectively ran our health and education systems. Our fledgling nation was incapable of providing these services. Were it not for the Catholic Church, a generation would have grown up illiterate. Thousands of adults today owe their lives to the existence of hospitals run by those who wore a clerical uniform.”
Speaking on practicing Catholics that he has served alongside, Dr. Hanley said that “I have in the past worked with colleagues who refuse to prescribe the contraceptive pill. Although I greatly admire them, I vehemently disagree with their stance.”
“Nonetheless,” he asserted, “they may be assured that I will passionately defend their fundamental right to practice medicine according to their conscience.”
Dr. Hanley then referenced what he believed to be an unsettling story of a physician in Galway who runs a fertility clinic and recently refused his services to an unmarried couple. Though the doctor was made to appear before a medical council, he was eventually cleared.
Whether one agrees with the fertility clinic head's decision or not, said Dr. Hanley, “it appears that a medical practitioner, who has placed no patient at risk, can now be threatened with crucifixion for practicing medicine according to his conscience.”
“Will those opposed to social abortion, under a future government regime, find themselves facing potential career destruction for refusing to support such a procedure?” he asked.
In his concluding remarks, Dr. Hanley urged those with anti-Catholic sentiment within the medical sphere to “swallow your intolerance for Catholicism.”
“Suppress your anger and your left-wing desire for state control of medicine,” he entreated. “The independence of our profession must never be abandoned. And that fundamental principle will always include the right to practice medicine according to your conscience.”
Davenport, Iowa, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA) -
Repeating Catholic teaching on the invalidity of attempts to ordain women, the Bishop of Davenport, Iowa has said a local woman’s intention to undergo ordination by a breakaway Catholic group damages the unity of the Church and has asked people not to participate in the ceremony.
In a May 25 statement published in The Catholic Messenger, Bishop Martin Amos asked those of the Diocese of Davenport to prayerfully to reconsider any participation in or advocacy of the attempted ordination of women, an excommunicable offense.
“Such participation does not foster unity in the Church and jeopardizes the communion of the faithful with each other and with God. On my part, I will continue to pray for unity throughout the Church and for those people who struggle with this issue,” he stated.
Mary Kay Kusner, a married mother of four, intends to undergo “ordination” by a Roman Catholic Womanpriest group at First Christian Church in Coralville, Iowa on June 13. She is presently a chaplain in palliative care at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
"Ordination for me is finally claiming what I know I am," the 50-year-old Kusner told the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
According to Kusner, her daughter’s chromosomal disorder helped push her to pursue ordination because her daughter taught her “the significance of inclusion.”
In August 2009 Kusner underwent a purported ordination as a deacon and was automatically excommunicated. She currently leads a group called Full Circle which meets in people’s homes.
Her decision to pursue advancement as a womanpriest was met with disapproval by her parents and siblings.
Kusner’s brother will attend the June 13 ceremony and her husband and children have been “extremely supportive,” the Press-Citizen reports.
Bishop Amos’ statement noted that the Church has held the role of women “in high regard” for “centuries.” He added that this “absolutely vital” role extends to all women through the example of the Virgin Mary.
He then cited Pope John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” which declared that the Church has “no authority whatsoever” to confer priestly ordination on women.
“This judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful,” the pontiff’s letter said.
Bishop Amos then reiterated the May 29, 2008 decree from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which said those who attempt to ordain women are excommunicated, as are the women who attempt to be ordained.
Those who are excommunicated are forbidden from celebrating sacraments or sacramentals, receiving the sacraments, and exercising any function in an ecclesiastical office, ministry or assignment.
The bishop explained that the purpose of excommunication is always to bring the person back into communion with the Church and to help him or her discover the unity of the Church, “a communion broken by their action.”
Canberra, Australia, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA) - Outlining the Catholic cultural problems which he believes contributed to the failure to correct sexual abuse by clergy, Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn Mark Coleridge has written a Pentecost Letter about sexual abuse to the people of his archdiocese. He called for sensitivity to victims and a purification of the Church.
Archbishop Coleridge recalled how the first case he knew of a priest abusing a child seemed “weird and distressing” to him, as it was “mind-boggling” that a priest entrusted with the young could abuse them. He thought it was a “tragic and isolated episode.”
As a church spokesman in the mid-1990s, he still insisted that abuse was a matter of personal, not communal or institutional culpability.
In his first meetings with survivors of sexual abuse, he saw the “extraordinary damage” done to many of them and was “taken aback” by the force of their anger.
“I could see that these were people in need of all the care and compassion we could offer and that any response that did not have them as its prime concern was bound to fail – at least if the Gospel was the measure of success and failure.”
As he learned more about sexual abuse, he came to see that the pathology can be “compulsive” and “serial.”
“I was aghast to read transcripts of the trials of pedophile clergy; it seemed that their lives revolved around the grooming and abuse of children. It was apparent that this kind of abuse was something other than a moral lapse, a fall into sin, which could be made good by appropriate repentance, penance and a fresh start.”
The “hiddenness” of this pathology was also a key aspect, abetted by both general ignorance in the community and abusive clergy’s adeptness in concealing their crimes. The scale of the problem is now undeniable, the archbishop remarked, and determined action is now needed “to do everything possible to root out the evil from the Church.”
The prelate then listed several factors he thought created cultural problems in the Church’s response to sexual abuse in Australia.
He blamed poor understating of Catholic teaching on sexuality, particularly a “rigorist” attitude to the body and sexuality. While clerical celibacy was not a factor in itself, it is “especially risky” when separated from the “ascetical and mystical life.” The discipline of celibacy may also have been attractive to men in whom there were latent pedophilic tendencies, he suggested.
Archbishop Coleridge said seminary training promoted “a kind of institutionalized immaturity” by failing to advance life-long formation. Once ordained, a priest was presumed to have all the formation necessary, a “fateful” presumption when latent pedophilic tendencies emerged only after ordination.
Another factor he named was clericalism: the view that the Catholic hierarchy is dedicated to power, not service. The isolation of the clergy and the lack of lay involvement could lead to destructive tendencies, he suggested.
A certain “triumphalism” and “institutional pride” were also factors, as was the underestimation of “the power and the subtlety of evil.” But the prelate added that the Church’s “culture of forgiveness” could have played a role.
“True, sin must be forgiven, but so too must crime be punished,” Archbishop Coleridge wrote.
A “culture of discretion” that rightly opposed spreading falsehoods and defamations against others “turned dark” when used to conceal crime and protect the reputation of the Church, he said.
While some of these factors have to be abandoned, such as rigorism, clericalism and triumphalism, others like the practice of celibacy need to be “purified.” There needs to be greater awareness of how forgiveness and discretion can be abused, the Australian archbishop stated.
In assigning blame in the aftermath of sexual abuse, he said the offenders must bear the “full weight” of human and divine judgment. The Catholic bishops too are culpable, “insofar as they concealed or denied the abuse.”
According to the archbishop, the media and lawyers have only infrequently abused their powers, and ultimately the “blame-game” does not advance healing, reconciliation and reform.
“The Church is under judgment. That judgment is in part human, as many point the accusing finger at the Catholic Church and especially at her leaders. But also and more importantly, the judgment is divine,” his statement concluded, noting that lamentation and acknowledgment of sin do not preclude “the joy of Easter.”
“At the moment, the Catholic Church and the bishops in particular are being pounded mightily and dismissed as lacking all credibility or worse. This is hardly surprising, and it can be humiliating. But it is not the end of the world; nor is it the end of the Church.”
“My deepest and most heartfelt prayer is that the same promise of life out of death will sustain the survivors of sexual abuse whose faces I have seen and will see, whose voices I have heard and will hear.”
He voiced hope that the Church will soon witness the renewal and fulfillment of “the promise of Easter.”
Vatican City, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father gave the first of what will be a series of catecheses on St. Thomas Aquinas during Wednesday’s general audience. He remembered the saint's life and commented on the "great grace" of theologians who can reach the people.
The Vatican event coincided with the observance of Republic Day in the Italian capital, celebrated every June 2. Jets from the nation’s military, which left a multi-colored trails across the sky, were greeted with a smile from Pope Benedict XVI as they passed overhead at one point in the audience.
The Pope's address today marked the end of his series of addresses on the priesthood during the Easter season, and brought him back to his previous theme of saints and Christian culture in the Middle Ages.
Pope Benedict chose St. Thomas Aquinas as his subject for the next three catecheses. He remembered the 13TH century saint as the “'Doctor communis,’ whose life and teaching have always been revered as an outstanding model for theologians.”
The Holy Father highlighted the Dominican's dedication to the study of Aristotle’s authentic teaching in an environment in which some rejected his work thinking that it was contrary to the Christian faith. To the Greek philosopher’s work, the Pope noted, “much of his scholarly life would be devoted ... discerning its valid elements and demonstrating its value for Christian thought.”
Benedict XVI then turned to several of the saint’s specific contributions. Of the “great” Summa Theologiae, he said that it “reveals his critical gifts and his conviction of the natural harmony between faith and reason,” while his work on the Corpus Domini liturgy shows “his deep Eucharistic faith and theological wisdom” through its hymns.
Reflecting on Aquinas' preaching capacities, in addition to his studies and work as a professor, the Holy Father commented that "it is truly a great grace when theologians know how to speak with simplicity and fervor to the faithful."
He went on to recall the final stage in the life of the saint, when he gave up writing, having understood through a "supernatural revelation" during Mass one day that everything he had done up to that point was "so much straw.”
"It is a mysterious episode that helps us understand not only Thomas' personal humility but also the fact that all that we are able to think and say about the faith, as elevated and pure as it may be, is infinitely surpassed by the greatness and beauty of God who will reveal himself to us in the fullness of paradise," Benedict XVI concluded
Present among the crowd in St. Peter’s Square for the audience was a large group representing the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception of Buenos Aires, on pilgrimage to Rome to attend the beatification ceremony of one of their own, Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli, last Saturday.
Also on hand was Sr. Margherita Marchione, the noted American Pius XII biographer from the Maestre Pie Filippini order, who was able to greet the Holy Father. Sr. Marchione will be taking part in a convention titled “Eugenio Pacelli-Pius XII, the last Roman Pope” on Friday.
Vatican City, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In reference to the recent violence near Gaza, Pope Benedict XVI urged local and international politicians to reach peaceful solutions in the region. Emphasizing the senselessness of violence, he asked for a commitment to achieving “harmony and serenity” in the area through dialogue.
The call from the Holy Father comes after Israeli military forces intercepted and boarded six boats attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The flotilla of ships was trying to break through a three-year Israeli blockade of the area’s ports. According to news reports, at least nine activists were killed in the strike and dozens were injured.
“I am following the tragic events that have come about in the proximity of the Gaza Strip with great trepidation,” said the Holy Father in Italian at the conclusion of today's general audience. “I feel the need to express my deepest condolences to the victims of these very painful events that are troubling to all who have the peace of the region in their hearts.
“Once again, I repeat with a heavy heart that violence does not resolve controversies, rather it increases their dramatic consequences and generates further violence.”
He made a call to “all who have political responsibility on the local and international levels” that they “seek just solutions incessantly through dialogue in a way that guarantees the best condition of life, harmony, and serenity to the peoples of the area.”
The Holy Father also invited prayers for the victims, their families and all who have suffered from the attack.
He concluded by observing that “the Lord sustains the efforts of those who never tire of working for reconciliation and peace.”
The U.N. condemned the acts on Monday and called for a “"prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation" into the matter.
Rome, Italy, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA) - An Argentinean priest in Gaza, Father Jorge Hernandez, remarked this week that he fears the recent flotilla raid that left nine dead and several injured will provoke a wave of violence in the Palestinian territory.
Speaking on Vatican Radio, Father Hernandez condemned the violence saying, “Evidently this was a crime that could have been avoided. It was not necessary to go to such lengths, as there were other means of acting more peacefully.”
Nine activists were killed and dozens were injured when Israeli forces raided six boats that were allegedly attempting to deliver aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The flotilla was aimed at breaking through a three-year Israeli blockade of the area's ports.
“This provokes many problems,” the priest continued. “The reaction of the Palestinian people here in Gaza has been one of fury. That is the atmosphere that is present in Gaza: an atmosphere of vengeance for what has happened."
Father Hernandez, who belongs to the Institute of the Incarnate Word, said the situation in Gaza is grave, as “low supplies of everything are making prices skyrocket. Medicine and other first aid products are extremely expensive. The situation is getting worse day by day.”
“Peace is not achieved through violence! It is not the right way!” he asserted.
Washington D.C., Jun 2, 2010 (CNA) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, addressing a May 6 Catholic conference on Capitol Hill, said she believes Catholics must pursue public policy in keeping with the values of “the Word made flesh” and must be prepared to answer to Jesus Christ for how their actions “measured up.”
Pelosi, a pro-abortion rights Catholic, has been rebuked for her statements supporting abortion.
Her recent comments on religion came at the event “A Washington Briefing for the Nation’s Catholic Community,” sponsored by the National Catholic Reporter and Trinity Washington University.
According to CNSNews.com, Speaker Pelosi remarked:
“They ask me all the time, ‘What is your favorite this? What is your favorite that?’ And one time, ‘What is your favorite word?’ And I said, ‘My favorite word? That is really easy. My favorite word is the Word, is the Word. And that is everything. It says it all for us. And you know the biblical reference, you know the Gospel reference of the Word.”
“And that Word is, we have to give voice to what that means in terms of public policy that would be in keeping with the values of the Word. The Word. Isn’t it a beautiful word when you think of it? It just covers everything. The Word.
“Fill it in with anything you want. But, of course, we know it means: ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us’,” she continued, referring to the Prologue of the Gospel of John’s description of Jesus Christ.
“And that’s the great mystery of our faith. He will come again. He will come again. So, we have to make sure we’re prepared to answer in this life, or otherwise, as to how we have measured up.”
The San Francisco Democrat has a history of invoking religion. In March she invoked St. Joseph's intercession to help pass health care legislation.
She also has a history of run-ins with church authorities over her support for abortion.
In a February 2009 meeting with Speaker Pelosi at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life.
After the meeting the Holy See’s press office reported that the Pontiff “took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death.”
The press office added that these teachings enjoin all Catholics, “especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society” to work together to create “a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."
In an August 2008 interview with Meet the Press, Speaker Pelosi responded to a question about when human life begins by saying that “as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition ... St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose.”
Her comments, which came just before the Democratic National Convention in Denver, drew correction from Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput. He said “ardent, practicing Catholics will quickly learn from the historical record that from apostolic times, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil.”
Other politicians speaking at last month’s Washington Briefing included Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). Additional speakers were Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, and columnist E.J. Dionne.
New Orleans, La., Jun 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Wednesday, Pope Benedict greeted participants of the Catholic Media Convention, which is meeting in New Orleans. Speaking in English to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the general audience, he told convention goers that to “touch hearts,” communications media must present witnesses of Christ’s grace to the people.
The convention, titled “Spreading the Good News – Byte by Byte,” has been organized by the Catholic Press Association and the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals to bring Catholic media personnel together for spiritual, economic and professional development. Included in the packed schedule for June 2-4 convention are a wide variety of workshops focusing on subjects ranging from social networking to honoring the Sabbath in the non-stop media environment.
The Holy Father said on Wednesday that the theme “highlights the extraordinary potential of new media to bring the message of Christ and the teaching of his Church to the attention of a wider public.”
“If your mission is to be truly effective – if the words you proclaim are to touch hearts, engage people’s freedom and change their lives, you must draw them into an encounter with persons and communities who witness to the grace of Christ by their faith and their lives,” he told delegates to the convention.
“In this sense, it is my hope that your days together will renew and refresh your shared enthusiasm for the Gospel. Notwithstanding the many challenges you face, never forget the promise of Christ, ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age.’”
Among those scheduled to engage participants in the three-day conference is Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, who will take part in a panel-discussion of bishops on the meaning of working in Catholic media today. He will also preside over the convention’s opening Mass.
Madrid, Spain, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - Spain’s People's Party has challenged the constitutionality of the Socialist government’s new law on abortion slated to take effect on July 5.
The law would allow abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy, and up to the 22nd week in certain circumstances.
A spokesman for the People's Party, Federico Trillo, told reporters the party considers the law to be “contrary to the right to life as it was interpreted by the Supreme Court in its 1985 ruling” allowing abortion up to the 14th week.
Trillo said the new law does not treat abortion as an “exception or as a practice harmful for the mother and child, but rather turns it into an unrestricted right,” and it allows minors to obtain abortions without parental consent.
He added that the People's Party would consider overturning the legislation were it to regain power in the next elections. He then pointed out that allowing abortion up to the 14th week without any objective reason that would “at least formally justify the sacrificing of the life of an unborn child.”
Trillo also noted that the new law gives no explanation as to why the limit for obtaining abortion is set at the 14th instead of the 12th or 16th week, or what changes in the fetus occur that would disqualify it from protection either before the 14th week or after.
He underscored that allowing abortion up to the 22nd week in cases of life of the mother could be a loophole to allow more access to the practice.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA) - The Legion of Christ in Mexico rejected a lawsuit brought before the country’s attorney general by a local congresswoman charging that the Archbishop of Mexico City and other noted officials were responsible for covering up the sexual abuse committed by Legion founder Fr. Marcial Maciel.
Congresswoman Leticia Quesada Contreras claimed that Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City and various members of the Legion of Christ, including its superior general, Father Alvaro Corcuera, were complicit in a cover up regarding the sex abuse crimes of the Legionary founder.
The Archdiocese of Mexico City told CNA that Congresswoman Quesada likely lacks the necessary information to understand that Cardinal Rivera has no civil or canonical responsibility in the case of Legion’s founder and that an effort would be made to make that information available to her.
Releasing its own statement responding to the claims, the Legion asserted that “the congregation has always been open to collaborating with all civil and ecclesial authorities, and at the same time we deplore the commission of any illegal act.”
The group said it rejected charges of any criminal wrongdoing and stressed that it was irresponsible to make the contents of the lawsuit public without it being reviewed first by officials. The group then claimed that the sole motivation behind the lawsuit is to defame the good names of many who have chosen what they called a vocation of service to others in sincerity and honesty.
Adding that although the Legion “has confronted with humility and openness the facts we have learned about the life of our founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado,” the statement underscored that in justice, “we cannot tolerate gratuitous lawsuits whose purpose is to create an atmosphere of media lynching devoid of any legal basis.”
The Legion recently announced that its members will be praying a Novena of Atonement to the Sacred Heart on June 2 - 11 in reparation for the "infidelities of priests and consecrated souls, and to ask for the grace to move toward the future with hope and a renewed commitment of joyful and holy self-giving to Christ, the Church, and souls."
The order's statement also urged all Legion and Regnum Christi members to offer "First Friday Mass, Eucharistic adoration, and personal sacrifices in a spirit of atonement and penance," for a full year beginning on June 11.
Rome, Italy, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Congregation for Clergy has revealed significant details about the upcoming International Meeting of Priests that will be held in Rome next week. A Wednesday statement from the Vatican dicastery announced that the 9,000 priests are scheduled to attend and that the Pope will proclaim St. Jean Vianney the Patron of all Priests at the closing Mass.
The Year for Priests was inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI on June 19 of last year and will be closed by him with a Mass in St. Peter’s Square on June 11. Last spring, he defined the year-long initiative as a “time to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world.”
A June 2 statement from the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy detailed the events set to take place in Rome from June 9 -11, marking the final days of the special year.
According to the prefect of the Vatican congregation, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the objective of the initiative is to highlight a “spiritual renewal,” a new beginning and not a “conclusion.” He also said he hopes closing events will lead to a “rediscovery of the grandeur of the sacrament that configures to Christ, High Priest.”
Events along the course of the three days will include meditations, Masses and a congress on the figure of the priest. Pope Benedict XVI will meet twice with all participants, first during a prayer vigil on Thursday evening and then at Mass on Friday morning.
The statement from the Congregation for Clergy announced that Thursday’s vigil event will be broadcast from the Vatican simultaneously to Ars, France, the Cenacle in Jerusalem, the “Favelas” of Buenos Aires and Hollywood. The Pope is scheduled to make an address to all priests at this time.
More than 600 young musicians and singers from Italian institutions will perform at the vigil.
At the final Mass, which coincides with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Father will proclaim the Year's patron, St. Jean Vianney, the Patron of all Priests. St. Jean is currently only the patron of parish priests.
In addition to the 9,000 priests from 91 countries that have registered for the final meeting, seminarians, deacons, religious brothers and sisters and lay faithful will also participate in the three-day event.
Vatican City, Jun 2, 2010 (CNA) - Pope Benedict's 16th international journey will take him to Cyprus on Friday. It is hoped that his visit will bring a “wind of peace” to the nation.
The most anticipated event of the three-day tour is Sunday Mass on the occasion of the publication of the Instrumentum laboris for next October's Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.
Following his arrival on June 4 to the city of Paphos, there will be an ecumenical celebration at the church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa. After the first day, all events will take place in the capital city of Nicosia.
Saturday, June 5, the busiest day of the trip, will see the Pope take part a variety of events: a meeting with the president, civil authorities and diplomats, followed by an encounter with the Cypriot Catholic community and then a courtesy visit to His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus. The day's program ends with the celebration of Mass with priests, religious, deacons, catechists and representatives of Cyprian ecclesial movements.
The schedule for the final day of the journey, June 6, includes the Holy Mass on the occasion of the working document's publication followed by the Angelus. Papal nuncio to Cyprus, Archbishop Antonio Franco, told L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) on Wednesday that 20,000 people are expected to be on hand for the Eucharistic Celebration, a striking figure considering there are only 25,000 registered Catholics on the island.
That afternoon, the Holy Father will visit the Maronite Church of Cyprus before his departure.
Archbishop Franco, who is also nuncio to Israel and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, explained to LOR that the government and the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are “working full time for a dignified welcome” for the Pope on the island.
He described a “lively” expectation for the encounter on the part of Cypriots and said that “everyone hopes that his visit brings a wind of peace and a spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation.”