Vatican City, Jul 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Meeting with youth on Sunday afternoon while on a pastoral visit to Sulmona, Italy for the 800th anniversary of the birth of Saint Pope Celestine V, the Pope answered important questions regarding vocations. It is in your personal relationship with the Lord brought about through prayer that you can know your path on earth, he told the young people.
The Holy Father hosted an afternoon encounter with the young people of the area in the city's cathedral, the crypt of which contains the remains of St. "Panfilo" and St. Peter Celestine. Two youth delegates asked him how young people should live out their vocations and how they can be "in the world but not of the world."
The "secret of the vocation" Benedict XVI told them, "is in the capacity and in the joy of distinguishing, listening and following His voice."
In order for this to happen, he explained, we must "habituate our heart to recognizing the Lord, sensing him as a person that is 'close to me' and 'loves me'."
Referring back to his words on the importance of interior silence from the morning homily in the city square, he said to the young people, "Be certain that if one learns to listen to this voice and follows it with generosity, he is afraid of nothing, knows and feels that God is within him or her, that He is a Friend, Father and Brother.
"Said in a single word," he summarized, "the secret of the vocation is in the relationship with God, in prayer."
This is true at all points in the process of seeking, choosing, pursuing and persevering in our vocation, he explained. Recalling the life of the hermit who became Pope, Benedict XVI said "St. Peter Celestine was first of all this: a man of prayer and a man of God."
"Dear young people," Pope Benedict implored, "always find a space in your days for God, to listen to him and speak to him."
He added a second related lesson for the youth, observing that "true prayer" does not separate a person from reality. "If praying alienates you, it takes you away from your real life, be on guard: it's not true prayer! On the contrary, dialogue with God is a guarantee of truth and liberty.
"You've asked me how you can be 'in' the world but not 'of' the world? I respond to you: thanks to prayer."
Prayer helps us to be ourselves in every environment, he continued, saying that although faith and prayer "do not resolve our problems," they do "enable us to confront them with a new light and a new strength, in a way worthy of man, and also more serenely and effectively."
Citing the example of saints, who "illuminated by faith," have come up with creative solutions to address the "concrete needs" of man, Benedict XVI invited the young people, "Let yourselves be totally conquered by Christ!
"Start decisively down the path of sanctity, the path ... of contact with and conformity to God."
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the invitation of Queen Elizabeth II and the episcopal conferences of the United Kingdom to visit in September, according to the spokesman of the Holy See. While the Pope's stop in the house of parliament has been confirmed, the most anticipated moment of the apostolic visit will take place on its final day.
The Holy See's spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, officially announced the trip in a Monday statement from the press office. This confirms what Pope Benedict had already told the bishops of England and Wales and those of Scotland during their separate "ad Limina" visits to Rome last February.
Pope Benedict's visit will begin in Scotland and last from Sept.16-19. Upon his arrival in Edinburgh on Thursday, he will meet with the Queen at the Royal Palace of Holyrood House, then that evening he will go to Glasgow to celebrate an open-air Mass in Bellahouston Park.
Later he will travel to London by plane where, on Friday Sept. 17, he will begin the day in prayer with representatives of religious congregations. After separate meetings with Catholic school children and religious leaders, he will be joined by a delegation of Catholic bishops in a meeting with an Anglican delegation led by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
That afternoon, a much-anticipated encounter will be held in Westminster Hall, the United Kingdom's house of parliament, with members of British society, the Vatican statement confirmed. An ecumenical celebration will be also be held at the nearby Westminster Abbey.
Saturday Sept. 18, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass at Westminster Cathedral, visit a home for the elderly and preside over a prayer vigil in central London's Hyde Park.
On the final day of his visit to the U.K., Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Birmingham by helicopter, to preside over the centerpiece of his visit: the celebration for the beatification rite of Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman in Cofton Park.
Prior to the Holy Father's departure, he will meet with the bishops of England, Scotland and Wales at Oscott College, the home of the seminary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father presided over a ceremony to inaugurate the 100th fountain in the Vatican Gardens behind St. Peter's Basilica on Monday morning. The artistic construction leads us to contemplate the values of the Father of Christ, the Pope noted.
The St. Joseph fountain, located beside the Vatican City State Governorate building, is set into a hill of what the Pope called a "vital space" he often turns to for prayer and relaxation: the Vatican Gardens.
In its design, which involves six bronze panels depicting scenes from the life of St. Joseph, the new fountain "constitutes a symbolic call back to the values of simplicity and humility in carrying out God's will daily, values characterized by the silent, but precious life of the Guardian of the Redeemer," the Holy Father said during the ceremony.
Stone walls behind the fountain's double basins show the wedding of Mary and Joseph, the first dream in which the angel explains Christ's Conception, the Nativity, the flight into Egypt, the finding in the temple and, finally, the work of Jesus and his father as carpenters.
An engraving to one side of the piece records the moment in Latin, offering the fountain "in honor of the husband of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Guardian of the Holy Family, protector of the Universal Church and Patron of Workers." The commemorative message also recalls that Joseph was the patron saint given to Benedict XVI at his baptism.
Concluding his address for the inauguration, the Holy Father prayed for the intercession of the St. Joseph, saying, "together with the Virgin Mary, his bride, may he always guide my journey and yours, that we may become joyful instruments of peace and salvation."
Rome, Italy, Jul 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - An editorial was published in Italy's Repubblica newspaper last week in which the Pope was accused of humiliating Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the "only" cardinal with the "courage and honesty to point a finger against the 'top of the nomenclature'." But Cardinal Schönborn's spokesman refuted this claim, saying that the recent meeting served to clear the air after a misunderstanding.
A meeting took place in the Vatican last Monday that included Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and Dean of the College of Cardinals Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The audience, at which Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone were present, was preceded by a private audience between the Pope and Cardinal Schönborn.
According to a statement from the Holy See's Press Office following the closed door sessions, the Holy Father had said in the discussions that it is the sole competency of the Successor of Peter to correct cardinals.
The clarification was made in sure reference to words attributed to Cardinal Schönborn in recent months that set him against Cardinal Sodano for having opposed the investigation of former Vienna archbishop Cardinal Hermann Groer in the 1990s for alleged abuses. He had also blasted Cardinal Sodano for the "massive harm" done by his Easter Mass homily in which Cardinal Schönborn thought he referred to talk about sexual abuse of minors in the Church as "petty gossip."
The Vatican communique explained the Easter misunderstanding, saying that Cardinal Sodano's words were "erroneously interpreted" and referred merely to Pope Benedict XVI's Palm Sunday homily in which he called for courage that isn't intimidated by the "petty gossip of dominant opinions."
Reflecting on last Monday's audience, lay theologian Vito Mancuso said in an editorial printed in La Repubblica that among the "cardinals of the Church only one had the courage and honesty to point a finger against the 'top of the nomenclature'" and during the meeting "the Pope made (Cardinal Schönborn) shut up, he put him back in line, imposing on him a beautiful declaration in facade."
"For years and years. For entire decades the 'honorability' of the political structure of the Church was preferred to justice for victims, and thus for God. Cardinal Sodano's declarations which reduced the accusations to 'petty gossip' were exactly in line with this policy of 'covering up,' and the inferred humiliation from the Pope to Cardinal Schönborn for having criticized him is a confirmation that this policy is not finished. The devious peculiarity of this worldwide scandal is unfortunately still alive."
Amidst these claims, the Italian paper Il Foglio spoke with the Austrian cardinal's spokesman, Erich Leitenberger, to clarify his take on the audience with Pope Benedict.
He told the newspaper, "there has been much said of the audiences conceded by the Pope to Schönborn on Monday ... Attentively reading the communique from the Holy See it is understood that obviously Schönborn was not invited to retract anything regarding the sad events of the 1990s in Austria."
Everyone, added Leitenberger, is "thankful" for the explanation given for Cardinal Sodano's use of the term "petty gossip" during this year's Easter celebration as a reference to the Holy Father's words from the Palm Sunday homily and in no way intended to demean victims of sexual abuse.
With the explanation, "a 'cloud of suspicion' disappeared," he said.
The spokesman cited the "key word" taken from the Gospel of John and employed by Cardinal Schönborn himself to summarize the conclusions of the audience, "The truth will set you free."
Madrid, Spain, Jul 5, 2010 (CNA) - The new law on abortion that entered into force today is “objectively incompatible with the upright moral conscience –in particular, the Catholic conscience” Spain’s Conference of Catholic Bishops said on Monday. They added that from an ethical perspective, the new law is worse than the previous statute.
In a statement published on the conference’s website on July 5, the bishops explained that this change in legislation is a deterioration for three reasons.
First and foremost, the new law holds “the elimination of the lives of those who are yet to be born as a right of pregnant women during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, virtually leaving these human lives without any protection, right during the time in which the greatest number of abortions are produced.”
The second reason, said the statement, is that “it establishes a concept of health that is so ambiguous that it is equivalent to introducing so called social and eugenic indications as legal justifications for abortion.”
In the third place, the law “imposes obligatory abortion and gender ideology into the education system.”
The prelates concluded the statement by saying they speak “precisely in favor of those who have the right to be born and to be welcomed by their parents with love.”
“We speak in favor of mothers who have the right to receive social and state assistance needed to avoid becoming victims of abortion. We speak in favor of the freedom of parents and the schools that collaborate with them to give their children a sexual and emotional formation in accord with their moral convictions which will truly prepare them to be parents themselves, and to welcome the gift of life. We speak in favor of a society which has the right to count on just laws which do not confuse rights with injustice.”
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Meeting with a delegation of inmates on Sunday during his pastoral visit to Sulmona, Italy, Pope Benedict XVI sent his prayers to all the prisoners. He hoped that, despite their difficult situation, they might find a way to contribute to society.
The Vatican's semi-official L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) newspaper printed the Pope's words to the five inmates, who were accompanied by the prison's director, security personnel and their chaplain.
Benedict XVI explained to them that he had wished to meet with them so they could take his greeting back to the other prisoners, which LOR reported as being 420 in all.
He told them, "You are always close and I pray that the Lord help you on this difficult path: I will carry you in my heart and, from my heart, I hope that you can find the way to make a contribution to society, according to your capacities and the gifts that God has given you."
The Pope then assured them that they are "always present" in his prayers.
According to the report, their meeting lasted about 10 minutes, during which time he always shared private words with them.
Sunday's meeting was preceded by the inauguration of a newly restored house for elderly and sick priests, given the name "Benedict XVI."
Madrid, Spain, Jul 5, 2010 (CNA) - Spain’s Institute of Family Policy (IPF) critiqued the “Express Divorce,” or rapid divorce law, which was implemented in 2005, because the policy has created an increase of 4.8 percent in marital ruptures in the first three months of 2010 as compared to the same period in 2009.
Despite the economic downturn and the decrease in the number of marriages, 33,103 marriages broke down in the first quarter of 2010, IPF reported. That is 1,500 more than the same period of 2009, and an increase of 4.8 percent.
This is indicative of “a desolate outlook for families and the evident failure of the “Express Divorce” law, IPF declared.
“Quarter after quarter, the breakdown of marriages continues to grow without any action on the part of the administration to avoid it, or at least to dampen it,” the group lamented.
IPF said that these statistics show that the dissolution of marriages continues to be the primary problem that Spanish families face. “The fact that ever four minutes, a marriage in Spain falls apart is a worrisome fact,” IPF indicated. “It should make us reflect on what is happening in Spanish society.”
Faced with this fact, the president of IPF, Eduardo Hertfelder, insisted up on the necessity of promoting and guaranteeing “the right of children and parents to marital stability.”
Hertfelder said that is was a fundamental task of the government, which cannot remain indifferent in the face of the collapse of so many marriages. “The means to combat the primary problem that families suffer, as well as an authentic change in family policy, is therefore necessary,” he stated.
Quebec City, Canada, Jul 5, 2010 (CNA) - At a recent press conference, Cardinal Marc Ouellet commented on his recent appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, remarking that he was “surprised” to be working in this new capacity and is both grateful and daunted by the task.
Speaking to the press on June 30, the cardinal, who has served as Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada since 2002, spoke on the responsibility he will have in advising the the Holy Father on bishop nominations.
“It is a difficult and huge responsibility in the life of the Church,” the cardinal said.
When asked whether or not he had always wanted to become a part of the Roman Curia or even elected as Pope, Ouellet said, “No, it was not my dream when I was young.”
“My dream was to be a missionary,” he said, pausing with emotion. The Quebec archdiocese reported that as a member of the Sulpician Order, the cardinal served as a missionary in South America and other places, and taught in seminaries for 10 years before he was called to Rome to teach in a university there.
“I am surprised to be in this position,” he said. “I don’t think I will be Pope someday. I don’t think so. I concentrate my attention on what is coming before me with this new responsibility.”
Commenting on his role as head of the Congregation for Bishops, the cardinal clarified that he “will not invent a new procedure.”
“I will look for the best bishops possible,” he stated.
“The Pope has known me for years,” the prelate added. “I think he has great trust in me, and so, he knows that I am available and I will support him. I have been supporting him in difficult times we’ve had to go through.”
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who was appointed on June 30, will take the place of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re in his two major positions as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.