South Bend, Ind., Jun 10, 2010 (CNA) -
The Church must help Hispanic Catholics fight against the forces of secularization and worldly attitudes that seek to draw them away from their faith, urged Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of South Bend, Indiana.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with CNA on both the contributions of members of the Hispanic community and the threats they face from the culture, the bishop expressed a need to show them that the Catholic Church is their “spiritual home.”
Bishop Rhoades invited the Hispanic community to celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi with a Mass and procession last Sunday.
“The beautiful tradition of the Corpus Christi procession expresses our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and also reminds us that we are to carry Christ with us into the streets, into our homes, into our neighborhoods after we leave church,” he told CNA.
Today's Catholic, the newspaper for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, described the ceremony, which began with Mass in Spanish at 1 p.m. at St. Matthew's Cathedral. It was the first time the cathedral had hosted a Spanish-language Mass.
Following the Mass, the bishop joined with hundreds of pilgrims to accompany the Body of Christ on a 1.7-mile procession through Hispanic neighborhoods in South Bend.
After stopping at four predetermined sites for prayer and blessings, the procession concluded at Our Lady of Hungary Parish, where a fiesta was held with music, cultural foods and regional dance.
Bishop Rhoades explained to CNA his motivation for holding the Mass and procession.
“I wanted to have a large celebration with the Hispanics of my new diocese,” he said. “The feast of Corpus Christi seemed like a perfect day to gather and pray together since the Holy Eucharist is the center of our life as Catholics.”
“I also wanted to have a Eucharistic procession through the streets of a Hispanic neighborhood,” he continued. “This is a way to express our love for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and also to highlight that we walk through life, our pilgrimage on earth, with Christ always at our side.”
“As bishop, I also wanted our Hispanic Catholics to know that I wish to walk with them on this pilgrimage of faith, hope, and charity,” he added. “The Blessed Mother also accompanies us.”
Bishop Rhoades told CNA that he has personally seen the influence of the Hispanic Catholic community on the Church. Given current demographic trends, Hispanics may become the majority Catholic ethnic group.
“I believe that Hispanic Catholics already have made a significant impact on the life of the Catholic Church in the U.S. and in our diocese, an impact that will continue to grow as the Hispanic population grows,” Rhoades said. “In my experience as a priest and now as a bishop, I have personally been enriched by the faith and culture of our Hispanic brothers and sisters in Christ.”
“I am especially grateful for the strong sense of family and community among our Hispanic Catholics, as well as their religious devotion,” he noted. “The faith is not something compartmentalized, rather it pervades the life of many Hispanics I know. It is something of the heart as well as the mind.”
The bishop pointed out the lively faith of the Hispanic Catholic community, as expressed in music, fiestas and other celebrations.
As he acknowledged the contributions of the Hispanic population, Bishop Rhoades also warned that the community faces “the danger of secularism and the adoption of some attitudes that are damaging to faith and moral values.”
He went on to explain the steps that are being taken to prevent such a secularization. “Here in our diocese, we are working hard to encourage and facilitate more Hispanic children attending Catholic schools,” he said. “We have also adopted a fine program of catechesis for our Hispanic communities.”
“Much more needs to be done, however, to ensure a good religious education for our Hispanic youth,” said the bishop. “They are the ones most in danger of assimilating values antithetical not only to our faith, but also to their culture. I believe we need strong catechesis for our Hispanic youth and we need to ensure that they experience the Catholic Church as their spiritual home.”
Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2010 (CNA) - An “anti-Catholic storm” is looming in the United States, Deal Hudson has claimed, because of the Church’s stance against “postmodern ideologies” and because well-funded Catholic supporters of President Obama provide cover for Catholic politicians who dissent from Catholic teaching.
Hudson, who has served as an advisor to Republican leaders on Catholic issues, wrote at InsideCatholic.com that a “relentless barrage” of reporting in the mainstream media is intended to force changes demanded by dissenting Catholic groups.
Revelations of clerical sexual abuse in Europe have provided “Catholic bashers” the opportunity to attack Church teachings about abortion and same-sex “marriage,” he added. A call to arrest Pope Benedict XVI in the United Kingdom should have been regarded as “a crank call” but has led to speculation about whether the papal trip to Britain should be canceled.
While Iraqi Christians are being expelled from their homelands, this only receives “occasional mention” in the New York Times, whose reporters “dig through Vatican documents” hoping to link the Pope with clerical sexual abuse, Hudson objected.
“The use of courts and commissions to harass and threaten Catholics and other Christians has already been auditioned in Canada. And the expansion of hate-speech laws signed by President Barack Obama last October sets the stage for similar tussles here when a minister, priest, or voluble layperson too heatedly denounces homosexual sex.”
While the Church is not the only institution insisting on universal moral standards, it is the largest and therefore stands in the way of “postmodern ideologies achieving complete dominance in the West.”
Those who hold the “postmodern” belief that all truth is power “don't hesitate to use the power of the media, government, and the courts to attack any institution thwarting their influence.”
According to Hudson, political donors have combined resources with labor unions, which once had a “vital” relationship with the Church, to support “faux Catholic groups that provide cover for politicians who don’t vote Catholic.” He suggested that it is these groups’ fault that the majority of candidates who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage are Republican.
“The coming anti-Catholic storm will be linked, sadly, to the reelection campaign of President Barack Obama,” he predicted. Though the president is out of favor at the moment, his supporters will “quickly recover” enthusiasm in the face of a Republican opponent.
“There will be a furious and well-funded effort by Catholic Obama supporters to keep Obama in office. By 2010, the storm will be felt throughout the Church, and those who blithely claim that the Church and politics are not connected will be as helpless as a fallen leaf caught in a tornado,” Hudson’s commentary concluded.
Washington D.C., Jun 10, 2010 (CNA) - A recent spread in Time Magazine is continuing to draw criticism for its treatment of the Catholic Church, both from members of the Church and from those outside of it.
Time's 10-page cover story last week critiqued the way in which the Church, and particularity Pope Benedict XVI, have handled the sex-abuse scandal among the clergy.
In a National Review Online article on Friday, Catholic scholar and commentator George Weigel responded to the Times cover story by pointing out the errors he believed to be in it. These errors included misrepresentations of the Church's hierarchical structure and ignoring Benedict's efforts to root out abusive priests.
On June 9, blogger and writer Terry Mattingly defended Weigel's article and offered further support for his claim that the Time story provides incomplete and inaccurate information.
Mattingly, who attends an Orthodox Church in Linthicum, Maryland, writes the nationally syndicated “On Religion” column for the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C., which is sent to about 350 newspapers in North America. He has also worked as a reporter and religion columnist for the Rocky Mountain News, Charlotte Observer and Charlotte News.
In a blog post on GetReligion.org, Mattingly referenced Weigel's critique of Time's heavy use of anonymous sourcing. He agreed with Weigel's analysis, which he warned critics not to merely dismiss “as the whining of a pro-Vatican conservative.” He pointed out that “as even the Time cover notes, conservative Catholics have been some of the fiercest critics” of the bishops who have failed to respond adequately to the sex-abuse crisis.
In addition, Mattingly challenged Time's treatment of the Pope, saying that he was depicted in an inaccurate and unfair light.
“The Time article also gives a small amount of space to the voices that argue that Pope Benedict XVI has been a trailblazer in reform on this issue,” he observed.
He went on to question the title of the Time article, “Why Being Pope Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry,” and pointed out all the ways that the Pope has responded with sorrow to the crisis.
“Obviously, the pope has said that the sexual abuse crisis — including the episcopal cover ups — has been rooted in sin and immorality and that many leaders in the church have been guilty. He has expressed regrets. He has urged reforms. He has talked about the 'filth' that haunts the life of the church. He has sought forgiveness from victims and has urged bishops to do the same,” Mattingly underscored.
Referring again to the title of the Times story as well as the general media coverage of the topic, Mattingly concluded by asking whether the real goal should be “actual reform in parishes and dioceses around the world” or “some form of media-friendly act of personal penance.”
Vatican City, Jun 10, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
This morning Pope Benedict received the prime minister of Spain at the Vatican. The two leaders discussed the role of ethics in addressing the current economic crisis in Europe as well as the need to protect the unborn after the government recently passed a law weakening restrictions on abortion.
The Holy Father Benedict XVI met with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain, in the Vatican this morning. The topics of discussion during their encounter ranged from their “opinions on Europe” to the “current economic-financial crisis and the role of ethics,” according to a statement from the Vatican.
Reference was also made to countries of Central America and the Caribbean as well as to other situations, in particular the Middle East.
At the level of diplomatic relations, the prime minister and the Pope touched on “matters of current interest for the Church in Spain.”
Those issues included “the possible presentation of a law on freedom of religion, the sacredness of life from conception, and the importance of education.”
In March of this year, the Socialist government, led by prime minister Zapatero, passed a law weakening the restrictions on abortion in Spain. The new law allows women over the age of 16 to obtain the procedure up until the 14th week of pregnancy, and in some cases up until the 22nd week. The law is set to take effect on July 5.
Lastly, the upcoming papal visit to Santiago and Barcelona and next year's World Youth Day celebration, set to take place in Madrid, were mentioned.
The Vatican reported that the Pope “recognized that the Spanish government has shown great readiness to collaborate in the preparation and realization of these events.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 10, 2010 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Mexico City released a statement this week deploring the killing of Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca by U.S. border patrol agents under the international bridge between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.
In its statement, the archdiocese said, “There is nothing that can justify that an agent opened fire on the victim, who was only 14 years old. This new act of violence once again confirms that anti-racial policies that violate the human rights of immigrants cannot result in anything good for society and for the world.”
“This crime has led to increased tensions between the countries and makes the border situation even worse. The impunity of this killing will encourage similar acts of barbarism to be committed against Mexicans and immigrants,” the statement indicated.
The archdiocese said Mexico’s Secretary for Foreign Relations has confirmed an increase in the number of incidents in which Mexicans have been hurt or killed by U.S. border patrol agents. From 2008 until the present, the secretary reported 34 documented cases, with 50 percent of them occurring in 2010.
The archdiocese “calls on the faithful to pray for the eternal repose of Sergio Adrian Hernandez and on officials to appropriately punish the person responsible for this cowardly crime.”
“Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, the Archbishop of Mexico City, is united with the family and friends of Sergio Adrian Hernandez in their sadness and mourning,” the archdiocese said.
New York City, N.Y., Jun 10, 2010 (CNA) - The company that operates the Empire State Building has said it will not run a lighting scheme to mark Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday, stating that it has a specific policy against honoring religious figures. In response the Catholic League cited several previous actions apparently contradicting the reported policy and announced a protest.
In a June 9 statement, Anthony E. Malkin of Malkin Holdings explained why his operating company would not light the landmark with the blue and white colors of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity on August 26, as requested by the Catholic League.
“The Empire State Building (ESB) celebrates many cultures and causes in the world community with iconic lightings, and has a tradition of lightings for the religious holidays of Easter, Eid al Fitr, Hanukah, and Christmas,” he explained.
But, Malkin qualified, “As a privately owned building, ESB has a specific policy against any other lighting for religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations.”
Malkin’s statement did not report how long the policy had been in place.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said Wednesday that Malkin was “either misinformed or lying.”
Donohue cited the red and white lighting scheme the building displayed on John Cardinal O’Connor’s death in 2000. In 2005, at the death of Pope John Paul II, the lights were turned off in his honor. That same year, the Salvation Army’s 125th Anniversary was marked with lights of yellow, red and blue.
“Every year the colors red, black and green are lit in memory of Rev. Martin Luther King,” the Catholic League president continued. “In other words, there is no policy barring religious figures or organizations from being honored.”
He reported that when the application for Mother Teresa’s birthday was submitted to the ESB on Feb. 2, the public relations and events coordinator of the building acknowledged receiving the request and did not mention any policy which would hinder it.
“Malkin has made his decision to stiff Catholics,” claimed Donohue. “I have made mine.”
He announced that the Catholic League will call off its petition drive advocating the honor, an effort that garnered 40,000 supporters. The organization will proceed with a demonstration outside the Empire State Building on August 26.
Malkin’s decision in the face of “massive support” for the request is “something he will regret for the rest of his life,” Donohue remarked.
Pueblo, Colo., Jun 10, 2010 (CNA) - A Catholic hospital in rural Colorado has the region’s only abortionist on its staff, a pro-life activist has claimed. In response, the Diocese of Pueblo said the hospital is in “full compliance” with Catholic directives and the abortionist’s employment at the hospital is protected by federal law. However, conversations are “ongoing.”
Gualberto Garcia Jones, a director of the group Personhood Colorado, charged in an article at the citizen journalism site called the Denver Independent Examiner that Mercy Medical Center is employing Dr. Richard Grossman, even though he provides abortions at his private practice.
Grossman is listed as an obstetrics/gynecology specialist on a page at the medical center’s website titled “MRMC Medical Staff” and in a link titled “Need a Physician?” The link refers to a document titled “Provider Roster,” which bears the hospital’s name.
Grossman’s listed address and phone number are identical to those of the Four Corners OBGYN office.
CNA contacted the Diocese of Pueblo for comment and received a statement from Fr. Michael Papesh, director of the diocese’s Office of Lifelong Catechesis.
“A canonical investigation into the relationship between a local obstetrician/gynecologist and the Mercy Medical Center in Durango was commissioned in 2008,” the statement informed. “The results of that investigation were that Mercy Medical Center is in full compliance with the ‘Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Services’ of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).”
“No medical personnel use Mercy Medical Center facilities for the purposes of abortion. Mercy Medical Center employs no medical personnel engaged in abortion procedures,” the statement added.
However, the diocese said that medical professionals who “engage in abortion procedures in their private practice” have been known “to be credentialed and (to) have privileges to practice medicine” at the hospital “but never relative to abortion or related procedures.”
The diocese said that according to the USCCB’s Ethical and Religious Directives and according to U.S. anti-discrimination law, no hospital has control over a medical professional’s private practice.
“To sanction a medical professional over a matter of private practice outside the hospital would be regarded as discriminatory and could be prosecuted under the law,” the Diocese of Pueblo commented, explaining that it is engaged in “ongoing conversation” about the reported circumstances.
Jones claimed in his Denver Independent Examiner article that Grossman would not be able to maintain himself financially through his abortion revenues alone.
According to Jones, local activists have told him that the hospital and the Church fear federal employment discrimination lawsuits if they fire Grossman.
However, Jones argued that the Church should risk a lawsuit.
“In an age when the Catholic Church is sued on an almost daily basis, wouldn't it be refreshing if the church were sued for preventing child killing at its hospitals instead of for allowing children to be molested?” he wrote at the Denver Independent Examiner.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 10, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Juan Ruben Martinez of Posadas in Argentina reaffirmed his opposition this week to the adoption of children by homosexual couples because it means denying children their right to have a mother and a father.
Speaking on local radio, the bishop said, “According to psychologists, personal disorders are caused by the lack of a motherly or fatherly image.”
For this reason, he said he opposes adoption by same-sex couples, because it would deprive children the opportunity to grow up in a family, which ought to be based on marriage. Being adopted by a homosexual couple would also deny children the proper formation need to form their own families in the future, he stated.
Bishop Martinez said that for these reasons the Church is calling on lawmakers to understand the dimensions of what they are debating. He also referred to the debate on legalizing abortion. “There are no arguments for granting the power to take the life of an unborn child,” he said.
Vatican City, Jun 10, 2010 (CNA) -
The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joaquim Meisner, addressed priests from around the world gathered at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome on Wednesday, telling them that nothing is more important for a priest than conversion of heart because only this will enable them to fulfill their mission to bring Christ to others.
Speaking to some 4,000 priests, the German cardinal said that making “corrections” to ecclesial structures is not sufficient to evangelize priests, but rather a “change of heart” must occur because “the greatest obstacle to the transmission of Christ is sin.”
Sin, the cardinal said, “prevents the presence of Christ in our lives. Therefore, in our mission, nothing is more important than conversion.”
Cardinal Meisner underscored the importance of priests dedicating time to Confession—both to administer it and to receive it—and said one of the “most tragic losses the Church has suffered in the second half of the 20th century” is the loss “of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Reconciliation.”
“When the faithful ask me: ‘How can we help our priests?’ I always respond: ‘Go to Confession,’” the cardinal said, underscoring that “when the priest is no longer a confessor, he becomes a religious worker.”
Cardinal Meisner said simply changing the structures of the Church “in order to put on a more attractive show” is not the answer. “What we need is a change of heart, a change in my heart. Only a converted Paul could change the world, not an engineer of ecclesial structures.”
“A priest who never kneels on the other side of the screen suffers permanent damage in his soul and mission,” the cardinal continued. “Here we see one of the main causes” of the multiple crises facing the priesthood in the last 50 years,” he stated. “When the priest abandons the confessional, he enters into a grave identity crisis.” “Why does a sacrament that evokes so much joy in heaven and on earth bring about such antipathy?” he asked. “Only with the humility of a child, like the saints, can we accept with the joy the difference between our indignity and the magnificence of God.”
Priests who receive the sacrament of Reconciliation frequently demonstrate their spiritual maturity, the cardinal taught. “Because it is in the Sacrament of Penance that I encounter the merciful Father who has the most precious of gifts.”
“To be on both sides of the screen in the confessional allows us, through our witness, to help our people experience Christ. In order to truly forgive, we need much love. The only forgiveness that we can really give is that which we have received from God,” he added.
The International Meeting of Priests is being promoted by the Congregation for the Clergy with the theme, “Faithfulness to Christ, Faithfulness of the Priest.” All the priests of the world have been invited to the event that will conclude the Year of Priests, convened by Pope Benedict XVI to mark the 150th anniversary of St. Jean Marie Vianney.
New York City, N.Y., Jun 10, 2010 (CNA) - A non-profit group will mark the closing of the Year for Priests with a 24-hour 'Rosary Relay' to be held in countries across the globe, in what they called an “unbroken chain of prayer.”
Worldpriest Inc., a non-profit dedicated to promoting the priesthood, has organized a 24-hour, global Rosary to commence on June 19. Twenty-four shrines from around the world will each be assigned an hour of prayer, with the first one starting in Brisbane, Australia at 01:00 GMT.
“As the family of the Church, we are all invited to join our prayers to the prayers of millions throughout the world on 19th June as the 'Year of the Priest' draws to a close,” said the organization in a statement.
“It is an opportunity for us to raise our hearts to God for all priests in the exercise of their ministry; that they will be blessed, through our prayers, with God's grace for their priesthood,” the statement added. The group hopes that the “worldwide communion of prayer” will help priests “experience our gratitude and support.”
The non-profit reported that participating shrines are located in Australia, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Levant and Middle East, South Africa, Bosnia, Italy, Poland, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, Wales, England, Mexico, Argentina, Canada and the United States.
“I am happy to support and highly recommend the current initiative of The Worldwide Rosary Relay on June 19th to mark the end of The Year of the Priest,” remarked Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, Ireland. “I believe it has great potential and will bring many spiritual benefits to all involved.”
Vatican City, Jun 10, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Priests from around the world gathered at a prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square on Thursday with Pope Benedict, who responded to questions addressed by priests from every continent. The Pope spoke on the importance of prayer and the Eucharist in the life of priests, defended the role of celibacy and emphasized the need to trust that God will bless the Church with new vocations.
The Holy Father recalled the importance of each priest having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ before he can go out and fulfill his calling.
He emphasized the importance of prayer, which he called the “profession of the priest,” pointing to the example of Christ, who is shown in the Gospels taking time to rest during his priestly ministry. If a priest neglects the care of his own soul, Benedict XVI said, he will never be able to love others properly.
Encouraging priests to take the time they need to nourish their own soul through prayer, the Holy Father offered words of encouragement, saying, “The Lord will help us make the right decisions if we are prayerfully attuned to him.”
Priests and the Eucharist
The Pontiff pointed to Mother Teresa as an example of “a love that abandons itself” in order to reach out to the forsaken. He recalled how she would always place a tabernacle at the center of each new community, thus keeping the Eucharist as the center of community life.
Priests must live out the Eucharist, said the Holy Father, reminding those present that “the Eucharist is not a closure to the rest of the world,” but rather, is open to the world's needs.
Priests in the Modern World
The Pope encouraged theologians to “be brave” in the midst of a world that excludes the Gospel.
Drawing on a distinction made by St. Bonaventure, he warned against a “theology of arrogance” that makes God a mere object rather than a subject speaking to us. Instead, the Pope said, priests must engage in a “theology stimulated by love” that seeks to dialogue with Love and come to a better knowledge of the Beloved.
He called on priests to have the “courage to go beyond positivism” and be “humble enough not to follow fads,” but instead to “live by the great faith of the Church at all times.”
“The true majority in the Church are the saints,” he said. “We must draw nourishment from them.”
The Pope explained that the faithful must “have faith in the life of the Church” while at the same time exercising critical thought. Emphasizing fidelity to the Church, he added that “the Catechism is the criterion by which we can judge whether a given theology is acceptable or not.”
One question directed to the Pontiff asked about “the true meaning and depth of ecclesiastical celibacy.”
The Pope began by emphasizing that the foundation of the priesthood is the celebration of the Eucharist. “Christ is drawing us into himself, allowing us to speak for him and with him,” he said. “He is at all times the only real priest, yet he is very present to the world today because he draws us into himself.”
Priestly celibacy must be understood in light of this unity with Christ, he continued. “We are going forth towards the life of Resurrection,” he said, a life in which “we will be beyond marriage.”
Therefore, he explained, “Celibacy is simply an anticipation, a foretaste, made possible by the grace of the Lord, that pulls us towards the risen world and helps us transcend ourselves.” In a world where people think only about the present and forget the future and eternity, priestly celibacy is a living witness and reminder of that reality to the world, the Pope remarked.
The Holy Father went on to discuss the ways in which priestly celibacy differs from the “increasingly fashionable” trend of simply “not getting married.” While the avoidance of marriage is based on a selfish rejection of commitment, celibacy means “saying that final yes,” he stated. “It is an act of trust, an act of fidelity.” In this way, “celibacy confirms the yes of marriage.”
The world does not understand this, the Holy Father observed, because in a world where there is no room for God, “celibacy is a scandal.” The Pope encouraged priests to let “the scandal of our faith” shine forth in their lives.
Encouraging Priestly Vocations
Asked what priests can do to help “generate new vocations,” the Pope warned against the temptation to transform the priestly vocation into a mere job in order to attract larger numbers to the priesthood.
He recalled the Scripture story of how King Saul had been awaiting the necessary sacrifice before a battle, but when Samuel did not arrive, he tried to perform the sacrifice himself. Because Saul was not a priest, he had taken on a role that was not rightfully his.
In the same way, said the Pontiff, we must remember that a vocation is a calling that comes from God, not from our own doing. “We must avoid taking things into our own hands,” he said. Rather, we should “pray insistently for vocations” and wait with trust and humility for the Lord to answer our prayers.
Pope Benedict called upon priests to live out their priesthood “in a way that is persuasive” so that young people may see an example of the vocation lived fully. He also encouraged priests to speak to young men and help them find environments where they will be surrounded by faith and can be open to their calling.
Concluding the question and answer session, the Holy Father reminded those present to stay faithful to the Lord, maintaining the hope that “God will help us.”