Vatican City, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Basing his catechesis for a third and final time on the legacy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope Benedict highlighted Aquinas’ “masterpiece,” the “Summa Theologica.” He referred to the saint's devotion to the Eucharist, making the call for all people to "fall in love" with the Blessed Sacrament.
An estimated 7,000 pilgrims and faithful joined the Pope in the Paul VI Hall for Wednesday's general audience. Among those in attendance was a group from Malawi in tribal dress who performed a traditional dance for the Holy Father from their seats in the packed auditorium.
Referring to the "masterpiece" of the “Summa Theologica,” Benedict XVI noted the saint’s “serene confidence in the harmony of faith and reason, and in the ability of reason, enlightened by faith, to come to an understanding of God and his saving plan.”
Through the work, said the Pope, the saint “illustrates the working of divine grace, which perfects our natural gifts and enables us, through the practice of the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to attain the eternal happiness for which we were created.”
In the collection of articles from which the “Summa” is composed, explained the Holy Father, the 13th century saint offers an extensive series of questions and answers through which he assists in deepening the teachings provided in Scripture and those from the Fathers of the Church, especially St. Augustine. He examines three elements of the being and essence of God: that He exists in Himself as the beginning and end of all things, that He is present in life through His Grace and in Christian activity, and that he is present in a special way in the Person of Christ, still present in the sacraments.
Benedict XVI recalled the importance the saint gives to the sacraments, in particular to the Eucharist. Noting Aquinas' enormous devotion to the Eucharist, the Holy Father cited the saint's words from another work in which he spoke of the Blessed Sacrament as that of the "Passion of our Lord, (which) contains in it Jesus Christ who suffered for us.”
"Therefore," he went on, "all that is the effect of the Passion of our Lord, is also the effect of this sacrament, it not being but the application in us of the Passion of the Lord."
Through these words, said the Pope, we "understand well why St. Thomas and other saints celebrated Mass while shedding tears of compassion, tears of joy and of gratitude, for the Lord, who offers himself in sacrifice for us."
The Holy Father then exclaimed, "in the example of the saints, let us all fall in love with this Sacrament!
"Let us participate devotedly in Mass in order to obtain its spiritual fruits; let us feed from the Body and Blood of the Lord that we may be incessantly nourished by divine Grace; let us pause willingly and often in the company of the Blessed Sacrament."
Pope Benedict XVI concluded the English-language portion of the catechesis by imploring that, “with the Angelic Doctor, let us pray for the grace to love the Lord with all our heart and to love our neighbor, 'in God and for God.'”
Rome, Italy, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA) - Archaeologists and restorers working at the Roman catacombs of St. Tecla on Tuesday announced the discovery of the world’s oldest known paintings of the apostles Peter, Paul, Andrew and John.
“They're the oldest images of the apostles and are datable to the latter half of the fourth century AD," said Fabrizio Bisconti, superintendent of archeology at the catacombs.
According to ANSA, the catacombs are owned and maintained by the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology. They are located about one-third of a mile from the church of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, where the Apostle to the Gentiles is buried.
The paintings were found on the ceiling of the burial chamber of an ancient Roman noblewoman who commissioned painters to decorate it with Bible scenes.
Previously, the Vatican had reported the archaeologists’ discovery of the oldest known image of St. Paul while doing routine restoration work. On Tuesday, the Vatican team said Paul’s image was part of a ceiling painting that included the full-face icons of the other three apostles.
“The paintings of Andrew and John are undoubtedly the oldest ever,” Bisconti commented. “Some showing Peter have been found that date to the middle of the fourth century although this is the first time that the apostle is not shown in a group but singly, in an icon."
Barbara Mazzei, chief restorer at the site, said the discovery is evidence that the devotion to the apostles began in early Christianity. She said restorers have been able to uncover the image with the help of a new and sophisticated laser technology that peels off the thick calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the colors underneath, according to ANSA.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the discovery of the icons, President of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi said, “we ought to proceed in a manner that (recognizes) all artworks of this kind have the capacity to speak to the contemporary culture, making their voices resound with their values and all of their beauty.”
Vatican Radio reported that the laser technology also uncovered an image of Christ the Teacher.
The catacombs of St. Tecla were discovered by chance in the 1950s during excavations for the construction of an office building.
Manila, Philippines, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA) - A businesswoman in the Philippines has filed a $220,000 lawsuit against the Archbishop of Ozamiz Jesus Dosado over a news item published by the diocesan newspaper. She claims the story was libelous.
Agnes Grace Y. Chiong’s suit targets the Malindang Herald News, a weekly printed by the Archdiocese of Ozamiz. The archbishop chairs its board. Also charged in the suit were Msgr. Maximino Naron, vice-chairman of the board; editor-in-chief Fr. Sandy M. Cometa; and news editor Neptalie Batolenio, CBCP News reports.
The Herald News’ May 30-June 5 issue published a story on Danila Damason, a former house helper who worked for Chiong. Damason allegedly sustained injuries because of beatings inflicted by Chiong.
The story was based on a complaint Damason filed in the city’s police station.
In Chiong’s affidavit-complaint, Chiong said that the paper published an article “without regard for truth, propriety and fairness; indeed one of a scurrilous, injurious, defamatory and libelous (article).” The complaint said the story’s intention was “nothing but to attack, ridicule, (and) malign her virtue as a person, as a mother and as (a) businesswoman.
She asked for seven million Philippine pesos for moral damages and three million for exemplary damages, totaling to the equivalent of about $220,000.
The paper’s editors filed counter-affidavits denying the charges.
Fr. Cometa said that he performs his duties at the paper because it is a means to then end of promoting life. To the extent of his knowledge the Herald News has “never” since its beginning aimed at “cutting remarks.”
“Its main objective is to publish the news happening within the jurisdiction, that is, the entire Ozamiz Archdiocese,” he stated.
The story published by the Herald News was drawn from the police record, a fact that Fr. Cometa said shows its accuracy. The priest-editor said he is confident the story was well-founded because of its source.
Batolenio, the paper’s news editor, said other reporters with him at the police station also received the same news.
“With this circumstance, I can therefore state that these radio reporters who covered the said blotter, would broadcast it in their radio program and published it also in their newspaper,” he stated, according to CBCP News.
The editor said he thought the story was worth reporting because it involved a woman employer inflicting injuries on her employee. He said he tried to learn Chiong’s view of the reports but could not successfully contact her.
Washington D.C., Jun 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In an exclusive interview obtained by CNA, Dr. John Haas of the National Catholic Bioethics Center asked Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. about some of the issues facing the Church in the “contemporary context.” In his reply, Archbishop Wuerl spoke about the role of and need for religious freedom in society, a role which is dramatically changing.
While there are several “individual issues” right now, said the archbishop, most of which focus on the dignity and value of human life, “there’s a growing concern” that “our very ability to carry on our activities” is being challenged.
Archbishop Wuerl said that what is taking place across the country, which he himself has experienced in his own archdiocese, is that, “when you begin to address specific issues, whether they are life issues, marriage issues, whether they have to do with the definition of marriage or a whole range of very basic concerns,” Catholics are now facing “the presumption that you do not have a right to express your religious convictions and you do not have a right to live out those convictions in those institutions which are a part of our Catholic faith tradition.”
One issue to which the archbishop referred was the definition of marriage, a contentious issue, especially after the City Council of Washington D.C. passed a law allowing the recognition of same-sex “marriage” without allowing voters to weigh in on the issue. The measure resulted in Catholic Charities of Washington D.C. being forced to stop offering benefits to employees’ spouses and to close their adoption program.
“If you take another position than what is presented by people today … you are defined as discriminatory,” he said. “And because of that, you and your institutions can be very, very severely criticized,” or even sanctioned.
Essentially, what we are facing, Archbishop Wuerl stated, “Is the failure to balance the rights of free expression of religion with all these other newly-created rights that are coming up out of our secular society.”
The archbishop said that, once the balance shifts against the rights of freedom of religious expression, both on a personal level and on an institutional level, “we are going to find ourselves in a situation we’ve never faced before in the United States.” He called it the “tip of the iceberg,” saying that the erosion of the freedom of religious expression would spread across the Western world.
“At the heart of the issue is the failure to recognize the important place that religious values, and religious institutions and religious faith, have always played in the history of our country,” Archbishop Wuerl declared. “This idea, this new pressure, to reduce everything slowly and completely to secular values is going to impact us very dramatically.”
The role of all believers and people of faith, he said, is to speak up and make their voices heard so all will be aware just how much religious faith is part of America’s history and heritage. “Religious faith is a thread that is woven into the very fabric of our nation,” he continued. “Remove that thread and we do damage to the whole cloth.”
Vatican City, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following Wednesday's general audience, the Holy Father received the thousands of text messages sent to him as part of an initiative through an Italian television network last month.
The texting initiative was part of a large-scale mobilization of mostly Italian Catholics and Church movements to show of solidarity with the Pope at the Regina Coeli prayer on May 16. The event was sponsored by "In His Image," a television program aired on Italy's RAI television network, in association with the Italian Bishops' Conference.
According to Italy's APCOM news, the Pope received the 20,000 text messages sent to him on Wednesday. They were printed in two large volumes which included a total of 2,300 pages between them and were accompanied by a reflection written by the president of Italian bishops, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.
The director of the RAI UNO channel, Mauro Mazza, and "In His Image" host Rosario Carello were on hand to give the Pope the volumes in person.
In the build up to the encounter with the Pope on May 16 which drew more than 200,000 people, Carello highlighted the uniqueness of the texting initiative and said he expected that messages would arrive from people within and outside of the Church.
There was no information released about the individual messages, but many were displayed on the "In His Image" program leading up to the May 16 encounter.
Mendoza, Argentina, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA) -
More than 15,000 people from the city of Mendoza, Argentina, marched together on June 19, encouraging the nation’s senators to vote, "in favor of matrimony between one man and one woman."
According to a press release, the 15,000-strong group of demonstrators who were organized though Facebook, marched on the city center shouting slogans such as "we want a father and a mother." The march was attended by the Archbishop of Mendoza José Maria Arancibi as well as a number of diocesan priests.
The crowd of thousands moved towards the Provincial Legislature, encouraging senators to acknowledge that "the family, based on the matrimony between a man and a woman is the natural form in which children come into the world" and it is the right place where they can be "received, raised and educated."
The protestors also demanded that "laws in relation to family issues need to meet the real needs of the weakest and those who are socially compromised; they should not solely represent the particular interests of a select few groups in Buenos Aires, as has been confirmed."
In debates held at the National University of Cuyo before the march, psychologist Andrew Gottfried said that "Children need the support and guidance of a male father and a female mother, as they are able to grant from their unique psychology, roles and natures, everything that is necessary for stimulating a child’s healthy growth."
Although local media reported that the march was attended by just over 6,000 people, the police of Mendoza, who were in charge of security for the event, estimated the amount to be approximately 15,000.
Rome, Italy, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - According to L'Osservatore Romano, the "Joseph Ratzinger Papst Benedikt XVI" Foundation has come to an agreement with the administration at the University of Regensburg, Germany to create a new professorship carrying the Pope's name.
The foundation, created by former students of the Pope from his time as a theology professor, includes Archbishop of Vienna Christoph Schonborn as a member.
The Vatican's semi-official newspaper, which cited the publication Kathpress, reported that a position is to be created for a researcher, who will not necessarily be a theologian, to teach and lead studies regarding philosophy.
The article cited comments made to Kathpress by Bernhard Laux, Dean of the Catholic Theological Faculty, in which he explained that the eventual professor could also be of Orthodox or Protestant background and will contribute to the study of theology "according to the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger" and to further advancing his ideas. At the same time, the new professor will not be solely dedicated to Ratzinger's thoughts or to his person, Laux explained.
The position will be for a five-year term and the professor will carry out his or her teaching and research duties during the summer session.
Pope Benedict XVI once held the chair of dogmatics and history of dogma at the University of Regensburg while at the same time serving as its vice president.
Santiago, Chile, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Cristián Caro Cordero of Puerto Montt, Chile said that the priest in his diocese who was stabbed in the neck while distributing Communion is progressing in his recovery. The prelate added that he is praying for the aggressor and expressed solidarity with the priest’s friends and family.
Fr Francisco Núñez, a priest in the town of Calbuco, Chile, is recovering from operations following an attack in which he was stabbed in the neck while distributing the Eucharist, stated his archbishop. The incident occurred on Friday, June 18 during Mass.
After expressing his prayers and solidarity, the archbishop later indicated that Fr Núñez "is recovering in the Base Hospital of Puerto Montt.”
"I direct my words of counsel and hope to the priest’s family and to the faithful of Calbuco. They have not ceased to pray for their parish priest and to forgive the lack of respect for the Holy Sacrament," he continued.
The prelate thanked "all those who have supported us, especially the personnel and doctors of the Hospitals of Calbuco and Puerto Montt that have attended to Fr. Francisco with great diligence."
It was also noted that the archbishop “will become part of the lawsuit against the attacker, who was subdued and detained immediately. We pray for him."
The archbishop concluded his remarks by asking that unity be maintained in the community.
Lima, Peru, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA) - The world's tallest Cross of St. Benedict will be unveiled on July 11 in the Lima suburb of Pachacamac by the monks from the Monastery of the Incarnation.
According to the monks, the cross towers to a height of 42 feet and can be seen for miles.
“The presence of this cross on Tomina Hill is intended to be a sign of special blessing for all Peruvians, as well as a pilgrimage shrine for all those who seek a place of spirituality and a more personal encounter with the Lord,” they added.
The Cross of St. Benedict is famous for its abbreviations in Latin, which are the initials of an ancient prayer of exorcism and protection. It is a sign that Christ has overcome sin and death and that his power is greater than the forces of evil, greater than the evils inside of each person, and greater than the lies and corruption that come from outside.
More information can be found at http://www.monasteriodelaencarnacion.org/principal.html
Cordoba, Spain, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba in Spain said pro-abortion policies are leading to “the destruction of society,” to the degree that “prosperous European societies such as Germany, France or Holland, among others, are now dying. He stressed that the same thing is currently taking place in Spain.
In an interview with Europa Press, Bishop Fernandez said the situation facing Europe is obvious. “If nothing more, if there are no children, there will not be a sufficient number of workers. But it doesn’t seem that anyone is concerned about this issue and only the Church is speaking up.”
For this reason, he continued, “the Church, which supports life,” will come to the aid of “mothers who are often forced (to abort), as they are left with no other option, because our public institutions provide every assistance possible for abortions but nothing for those who wish to carry their babies to term and give birth.” It will be up to the Church to “make up” for this lack of institutional support for mothers in difficult circumstances, for those “who don’t even have the chance to give birth even though they wish they could,” because “everything pushes them towards abortion and nobody helps them to bring their pregnancies to a positive conclusion.”
Amidst these destructive anti-life policies, Bishop Fernandez said, the Church defends “the love and the appreciation of life and trusts that, despite everything, a sufficient number of Christians will transmit life abundantly so that the species continues and is not extinguished.”
Denver, Colo., Jun 23, 2010 (CNA) - Controversy continues about the Catholic News Agency story on Cardinal Francis George’s criticism of the Catholic Health Association’s (CHA) actions during the health care debate. Defenders of CNA note the substance of the report is supported by other sources, while critics focus on the accuracy of several quotations.
At the U.S. bishops’ executive session last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) president reportedly discussed the fallout resulting from CHA’s support for the health care legislation despite the bishops’ opposition. Among the bishops’ objections to the bill were that its abortion restrictions were insufficient.
Several bishops who wished to remain anonymous told CNA that Cardinal George charged CHA and other Catholic groups with providing “cover” for undecided legislators to support President Obama’s legislation. According to these sources, the cardinal clearly remarked that CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan and her colleagues were to blame for the passage of the bill. He said these groups’ actions also weakened the moral voice of the bishops in the U.S., caused confusion and wounded Catholic unity.
In response, USCCB Secretary of Communications Helen Osman criticized the CNA story, suggesting it was unfortunate if the news agency “tried to take an educated guess at what the cardinal might have said and cobbled together its own fabrication of the session.”
She criticized CNA for attributing several remarks verbatim to the cardinal and said he never accused the CHA of creating a “parallel magisterium.”
In response, CNA executive director Alejandro Bermudez said that the news agency stands by its report. He cited Cardinal George’s June 16 interview with journalist John L. Allen, Jr. as validation of CNA’s reporting and charged that Osman’s blog post denying that reporting is “disturbing, dishonest and unfairly selective.”
Bermudez also called for the release of an audio recording of the cardinal’s remarks “to see who is right.”
The CNA report has drawn attention from several quarters.
Michael Sean Winters, a blogger for the Jesuit’s America Magazine, wrote on Tuesday that the bishops “may not always be pleased with my arguments regarding the health care debate, but at least they know that we at America magazine do not fabricate stories.”
Discussing CNA and “the rightwing Catholic blogosphere,” he added, “But, really, what do they say to themselves when they are caught just making stuff up? How do their well-formed Catholic consciences respond when they are caught with their journalistic pants down? The inevitable question wells up: Have you no shame?”
Then, in a Wednesday post, Winters reiterated his agreement with the charge that some of the quotes attributed to Cardinal George in the original CNA report were “fabricated.”
“Why anyone would trust them before this is beyond me, but now their reputation is in tatters,” said Winters, who has been critical of CNA in the past and characterizes it as “a fringe right-wing media outlet.”
He suggested that CNA’s episcopal sources “may have heard what they wanted to hear” and “placed their own prejudices and arguments in Cardinal George’s mouth.”
Winters then speculated whether CNA’s sources in the USCCB decided to “leak” their account to the press to push the conference towards what he called “their more conservative position.” He charged that these bishops who spoke to the news agency “chose to break the confidentiality of the meeting and to make Cardinal George’s job more difficult.”
He implied that the Catholic Key, the paper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, was associated with one of CNA’s sources. Its post defending the substance of the CNA report was “one telling indication,” he continued.
In response, Catholic Key editor Jack Smith pointed out that Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph Robert W. Finn did not attend the June bishops’ meeting “and so any suggestion that he leaked the comments is false,” Smith wrote at the newspaper’s blog.
Besides the Catholic Key, defenders of CNA’s report include Kathryn Jean Lopez of the conservative web site National Review Online (NRO) and Deal W. Hudson of InsideCatholic.com.
In a blog post at the NRO site, Lopez said that John Allen’s interview with Cardinal George shows the cardinal’s “similarly adamant, scolding criticism of the Catholic groups that played a role in making sure Obamacare passed.”
She suggested that Osman “heard what she wanted to hear from Cardinal George,” noting the difficulty of arguing against the CNA report with no evidence to the contrary and with the cardinal making similar statements in the Allen interview.
“Clearly he is unabashedly critical of the Catholic Health Association, which should come as no surprise,” Lopez wrote at National Review Online. “The CHA did undercut the moral authority of the bishops (not to mention the natural and moral law) in the health-care debate, even as the bishops were unambiguously working to defend innocent human life, a clear obligation of the Catholic when it comes to public policy.”
“The Catholic Health Association did a lot of damage,” continued the commentator, saying that the bishops’ opposition to “left-wing policymakers” is going to be hard to deny especially as it becomes “increasingly obvious” that the executive order on abortion funding secured by Rep. Bart Stupak was “a lie.”
Deal Hudson responded to Osman’s comments and CNA’s defense of its report in a blog post at InsideCatholic.com.
“Given both the seriousness of the charges brought by Ms. Osman, as well as the insulting tone, I find it surprising that Ms. Osman claims to have a recording proving her account, but says she is not willing to make it public,” Hudson remarked, also calling for the recording’s release.
“I find it impossible to believe that CNA would put such a serious charge against Sr. Keehan in the mouth of Cardinal George, president of the USCCB, knowing the seriousness of the consequences. CNA has an established reputation for accuracy which Ms. Osman's attempt to defame will not harm.”