Panama City, Panama, Jun 11, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Ulloa Mendieta of Panama City, Panama said this week the Christian meaning of Sunday, the day on which “the Church invites us to participate in Sunday Mass, to wear our Sunday best and sit down at the table with family and friends.”
According to the Fides news agency, the archbishop made his statements in response to the government’s plan to declassify Sunday as a day of rest in order to increase economic activity.
“Not just for Christians, but for all men and women (this day) has great importance and significance, and this recognition should not only be formal but also real, allowing the Sunday rest for all workers,” the archbishop said in a recent homily.
He reiterated that people have a right to rest, especially now that “science and technology have given man enormous power which he exercises through work.”
Rome, Italy, Jun 11, 2010 (CNA) - The Knights of Columbus are celebrating the 90th anniversary of their presence in Rome by reflecting on the group's contributions to the city throughout the decades.
One commentator told CNA that although numerous contributions can be attributed to the Knights, the group's humanitarian work, such as keeping the playgrounds open for children in Rome during World War II, is most notable.
As part of the celebration, the Knights of Columbus introduced an exhibit at Rome's historically renowned Capitoline Museums on June 9. The exhibit is titled "Everybody welcome, everything free: the Knights of Columbus and Rome, celebrating 90 years of friendship."
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, thanked the group for their work on Tuesday, saying that throughout their 90-year presence in Rome, the Knights “have worked with particular care in favor of the younger generation by offering opportunities for fun and games, using recreational centers made freely available to parishes, schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, institutions for disabled and priestly formation.”
In his commentary during the event, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson explained that the Knights “were invited to this city 90 years ago by Pope Benedict the fifteenth.”
“First in 1918 to briefly run a facility for US Soldiers in World War I,” he noted, and then “on an ongoing basis to help the children of the city by giving them safe places to play sports.”
“Nothing has been able to interfere with that,” Anderson continued. “When the National government tried to close our playgrounds in 1931, the decision did not last because our friendship with the city was bigger than any political differences.”
Andrew Walther, who is vice president of Media, Research & Development for the Knights echoed Anderson in remarks to CNA on Thursday.
Although many contributions can be credited to the his group, said Walther, “the better story is how much we did on the humanitarian side in Rome.”
From “a service center for troops in World War I, to playgrounds for children since 1920, to helping with Vatican restorations and communications,” he listed, “our work has been at the service of Rome and its people.”
“Most amazing, I think,” Walther added, “is that the playgrounds remained open during WWII - when the US and Italy fought on opposing sides.”
The exhibition at the Capitoline Museums will run from Thursday, June 10 until Sunday, October 31. A series of six rooms depict the work of the Knights in various areas through an assortment of photographs, documents, newspaper articles, artwork and other objects.
Washington D.C., Jun 11, 2010 (CNA) - Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, a Protestant minister who heads the Christian Defense Coalition, was arrested on Tuesday while praying in front of a Washington, D.C. Planned Parenthood facility. He and others said he was legally present on a public sidewalk the clinic has fenced in.
Pro-life advocates have prayed and counseled outside the Planned Parenthood clinic for years, but the facility recently applied for a public permit to construct an iron fence around the property.
The construction of the fence reportedly did not change the status of the enclosed land, which still remains public according to public records.
Hanes Henderson, senior counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), is representing Rev. Mahoney.
"After we learned that Planned Parenthood installed the fence, and that police were threatening to arrest those that prayed or counseled on the public spaces within the fence, we extensively researched the status of that property,” Henderson commented.
Two separate sources with the Public Spaces Branch of the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation confirmed to Mahoney’s defenders that the District owned a 50-foot right of way along the public sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood.
"So, we know for a fact that Rev. Mahoney was arrested on public property when he was charged with crime of unlawful entry," Henderson claimed.
La Crosse, Wisc., Jun 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholics in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin received word this morning that Pope Benedict XVI has given them a new bishop after being without one for almost eight months. The Vatican announced that the diocese's 10th bishop will be Bishop William P. Callahan, who is currently an auxiliary in Milwaukee.
Responding to the announcement, Bishop Callahan said, “I am honored by the responsibility that Pope Benedict XVI has entrusted to me. I am also saddened at the thought of having to leave my home here in Milwaukee. So many people within the archdiocese have meant so much to me during my time as an associate pastor, pastor and auxiliary bishop.”
Archbishop Jerome Listecki, who was the previous bishop of La Crosse until the Pope sent him to shepherd the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in November 2009, reacted to the news as well.
“I am extremely happy that a wonderful bishop has been appointed to a great diocese. All of us in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, especially this new archbishop, will miss his administrative leadership, his thoughtful insight, and especially his love for the Church. Our prayers and support go with him as he responds to this new call,” Archbishop Listecki remarked.
Milwaukee's other auxiliary bishop, Richard J. Sklba, offered his congratulations to his brother bishop and the faithful in La Crosse. Bishop Sklba said that Bishop Callahan “will bring the warm and faithful heart of a pastor to this new responsibility in the Church. I shall miss his presence in Milwaukee greatly, as I have come to know him as a thoughtful colleague, a hard-working partner and a new friend whose gifts I treasure.”
Bishop Callahan was born in Chicago, Ill. on June 17, 1950. He is the youngest of four children who were born to Ellen and William Callahan, both deceased.
Bishop Callahan first took vows as a Conventual Franciscan on August 11, 1970 at the age of 20. He was ordained a priest seven years later on April 30, 1977.
On October 30, 2007 Bishop Callahan made history by becoming the first Conventual Franciscan to be named a bishop in the United States.
Since his appointment as an auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee in 2007, Bishop Callahan has helped lead the faithful of the archdiocese, including a three-month stint as the administrator while the recent transition was made to Archbishop Listecki.
Bishop Callahan will remain an auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee until August 11, 2010—the 40th anniversary of his vows as a Franciscan. On that date, he will be installed as the Bishop of La Crosse at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman.
Vatican City, Jun 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
At the closing Mass of the Year for Priests on Thursday, Pope Benedict reviewed the purpose of the year, saying that he wanted the universal Church to appreciate and reflect on the priesthood, which shows the “audacity of God who entrusts himself to human beings.” Because the Church focused on the good of the priesthood, the Devil reacted by inspiring the timing of the recent revelations of clerical sex abuse within the Church, the Pope said.
“It was to be expected that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the 'enemy,'” the Pontiff explained, “he would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world.”
“And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light – particularly the abuse of the little ones, in which the priesthood, whose task is to manifest God’s concern for our good, turns into its very opposite.”
During his homily the Pope noted how the Year for Priests was celebrated to ensure “a renewed appreciation of the grandeur and beauty of the priestly ministry.”
“The priest is not a mere office-holder,” he noted. “Rather, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ's name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life.”
“Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ's words of thanksgiving ... which open the world to God and unite it to Him. The priesthood, then, is not simply 'office' but Sacrament.”
The fact that God confers Holy Orders on men demonstrates His “audacity” in entrusting Himself to human beings,” the Pope observed. Moreover, “this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word 'priesthood'. ...This is what we wanted to reflect upon and appreciate anew over the course of the past year.”
Speaking on the desire for increased vocations, the Holy Father noted that we “wanted to reawaken our joy at how close God is to us ... we also wanted to demonstrate once again to young people that this vocation, this fellowship of service for God and with God, does exist.”
Reflecting on clerical sex abuse scandals and the failures of some within the priesthood to live according to the tenets of their ministry, Pope Benedict said that we “too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again; and that in admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey.”
“Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these events,” the Pontiff added. “But for us what happened was precisely the opposite: we grew in gratitude for God's gift, a gift concealed in 'earthen vessels' which ever anew, even amid human weakness, makes His love concretely present in this world.”
“So let us look upon all that happened as a summons to purification, as a task which we bring to the future and which makes us acknowledge and love all the more the great gift we have received from God. In this way, His gift becomes a commitment to respond to God's courage and humility by our own courage and our own humility,” the Holy Father urged.
The Pope continued his homily by commenting on Psalm 23, which was one of the readings during the closing Mass.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” the Holy Father quoted from the Psalm. “God personally looks after me, after us, after all mankind. I am not abandoned, adrift in the universe and in a society which leaves me ever more lost and bewildered.”
“God wants us, as priests, in one tiny moment of history, to share His concern about people. As priests, we want to be persons who share His concern for men and women, who take care of them and provide them with a concrete experience of God's concern,” he underscored.
Commenting on the end of the Psalm, which references the “table set,” and “dwelling in the house of the Lord,” the Pope said, “we see a kind of prophetic foreshadowing of the mystery of the Eucharist, in which God Himself makes us His guests and offers Himself to us as food - as that bread and fine wine which alone can definitively sate man's hunger and thirst.”
“How can we not rejoice that one day we will be guests at the very table of God? ... How can we not rejoice that He has enabled us to set God's table for men and women, to give them His Body and His Blood, to offer them the precious gift of His very presence?” Benedict XVI asked the thousands of priests present.
The full text of the Pope's Homily is available here.
Vatican City, Jun 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - An estimated 15,000 priests attended a prayer vigil last night in St. Peter's Square. The priests, who hail from 97 different countries, gathered as part of the celebrations marking the close of the Year for Priests.
Rome has been inundated with priests from around the world for the past week due to the celebrations for the end of the Year for Priests. Thursday night's two-part prayer vigil was attended by not only priests, but by Pope Benedict and Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
The first part of the vigil featured live television feeds and allowed the gathered priests to see and share the testimony of a variety of people who are living their vocation: a Germany family with six children, a cloistered nun, a deacon, an Argentinean priest who works with the poor and a pastor from Hollywood, Calif. all shared the story of their vocation.
Pope Benedict then arrived in the square by popemobile and was greeted by Cardinal Hummes. In his remarks, the cardinal noted that this Year for Priests has served to “promote commitment to interior renewal among all clergy, for an evangelical witness that is more powerful and incisive in the modern world.”
Speaking on behalf of the gathered priests, and that of priests around the world, Cardinal Hummes said:
"We would like the Year for Priests never to end; that is, we would like our striving towards sanctity, each in his own identity, never to end, and that on this journey (which must begin in the seminary and last all our earthly lives as a single formative process) we may always be comforted and supported, as we have been in this Year, by the ceaseless prayer of the Church, by the warmth and spiritual support of all the faithful."
Cardinal Hummes concluded by thanking the Pope for everything he has done, is doing, and will keep doing for all priests, “even those who have lost their way.” “We know that Your Holiness has already forgiven and will always forgive the suffering some of them have caused you,” the cardinal affirmed.
The cardinal's remarks were followed by a Gospel reading, and then a question and answer session between the Pope and five priests who represented five continents. Those gathered prayed the Lord’s Prayer together.
After the recitation of the Our Father, the Blessed Sacrament was carried out from the bronze door of St. Peter’s Basilica and placed on an altar. During the exposition, priests were given time for silent adoration before Pope Benedict read a prayer for the Year for Priests.
At 11:15 p.m., the vigil concluded with Eucharistic Benediction and the Salve Regina.
Rome, Italy, Jun 11, 2010 (CNA) - The Irish pro-life group Youth Defence has launched a newspaper ad campaign to counter implications by pro-abortion groups that there is no moral difference between the treatment for an ectopic pregnancy and direct abortion.
According to Lifesitenews.com, the group has taken out ads in all of the country’s major newspapers that read in part, “Abortion never saves a mother’s life – it just kills a baby.” “The ad quotes from “Rene” who describes the loss of her unborn child, who implanted in her fallopian tube, as “heartbreaking.”
“Now I hear pro-abortion campaigners claiming that treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is abortion," she says. "That’s absolutely untrue – and it’s so wrong to scare women by claiming that necessary medical treatments are abortions. I didn’t want my baby to die. And it hurts to see his death used to push for abortion.”
“In Ireland abortion is illegal and, according to the UN, we are the safest country in the world for a woman to have a baby. Therefore, in cases such as an ectopic pregnancy or cancer of the uterus, doctors always try to treat the mothers—even if the treatment has as a consequence the un-intentional death of their babies,” the ad says.
The ads also feature comments from Prof. John Bonner, a former head of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who told a Dáil Committee in 2000: “It would never cross an obstetrician’s mind that intervening in a case of pre-eclampsia, cancer of the cervix or ectopic pregnancy is abortion.”
Havana, Cuba, Jun 11, 2010 (CNA) - Orlando Marquez, the director of the Catholic magazine Palabra Nueva, said this week the Church in Cuba is hopeful the communist government will make more gestures similar to the recent decision to allow several political prisoners to be transferred to prisons near their hometowns.
Speaking to reporters, Marquez said there is hope that “what has been started will continue … There is nothing to indicate that the process has hit a snag or has concluded.”
Any new gesture by the government to alleviate the condition of political prisoners “will be welcomed immediately,” he added.
Church and government officials recently initiated a dialogue over the situation facing dozens of political prisoners, which led to a decision to allow some prisoners to be moved to facilities closer to their families.
According to Cuban political dissidents, there are some 200 prisoners of conscience being held in Cuba.
Irondale, Ala., Jun 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications visited EWTN’s headquarters in Irondale, Alabama on June 1. He visited the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, where he met with EWTN foundress Mother Angelica and gave her a rosary from the Pope.
Michael P. Warsaw, president and chief executive officer of the EWTN Global Catholic Network, told CNA that Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli’s visit was “certainly a great honor” and a “tremendous boost” to the broadcaster’s efforts.
He reported that the archbishop visited Mother Angelica and presented her with a rosary “as a personal gift from the Holy Father.”
The prelate toured the EWTN Television Network, the EWTN Radio Network and the EWTN Religious Catalogue.
“The visit allowed the archbishop to see with his own eyes the incredible work that is done in the service of the Church each day by our dedicated staff,” Warsaw continued. “Throughout his visit, the archbishop stressed the importance of what EWTN is doing through television, radio and online and he expressed his support for what we do.”
The EWTN head said he was “very grateful” that Archbishop Celli visited to experience “all that the Network does for the new evangelization.”
Tallahassee, Fla., Jun 11, 2010 (CNA) - Florida Governor Charlie Crist has vetoed a bill that would have required an ultrasound exam for women seeking an abortion during the first trimester. The vetoed bill also contained a provision that would have opted the state out of using federal funds for abortions under the new health care law.
“This bill places an inappropriate burden on women seeking to terminate a pregnancy,” Gov. Crist stated in his veto announcement.
“Individuals hold strong personal views on the issue of life, as do I,” he continued. “However, personal views should not result in laws that unwisely expand the role of government and coerce people to obtain medical tests or procedures that are not medically necessary.”
The governor stated, “In this case, such action would violate a woman's right to privacy.” Gov. Crist, who recently switched his party affiliation to Independent under pressure in a tight re-election race, had previously trumpeted his pro-life and family credentials.
The proposed legislation would have required women to view the live ultrasound image or have it described by a doctor, unless they could prove they were victims of rape, incest or domestic violence.
“There are many medical or fiscal barriers that could be placed upon a woman in order to prevent her from following through on her constitutionally protected decision to end a pregnancy,” said Crist.
“However, such measures do not change hearts, which is the only true and effective way to ensure that a new life coming into the world is loved, cherished, and receives the care that is deserved,” he concluded.
Matthew Faraci, spokesman for Americans United for Life, responded with disappointment to the veto.
“Governor Crist had the opportunity to stand with the overwhelming majority of Americans across the political spectrum who oppose taxpayer-funded abortion,” Faraci said.
“By vetoing this abortion opt-out legislation, Governor Crist makes it clear that he stands with those who favor taxpayer funding of abortion.”