Vatican City, Jul 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - While the Holy Father spends July in the serenity of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, he is dedicating time to penning a number of important documents. Among the pieces on his to-do list are the speeches to be given in the U.K. this September.
While a variety of news reports have speculated on the activity of the Pope during his summer retreat to the hilltop palace at Castel Gandolfo, a piece by the Vatican specialist Paolo Rodari in Sunday's edition of the Italian paper Il Foglio gives an overview of the Holy Father's writing aspirations during his "time off."
Rodari described the three major works at the Pope's fingertips as: not an entire book as had previously been reported in the Italian press, but an "appendix" to his Jesus of Nazareth books, the basic framework of his fourth encyclical and his addresses for the late-summer trip to Scotland and England.
According to Rodari, the brief addition to the Jesus of Nazareth series will cover the infancy of Jesus as recounted in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and the encyclical will present his perspective on "faith," a logical choice after the first three, which focused on social issues, charity and hope.
The Holy Father is drafting his Cardinal John Henry Newman-centered discourses during this time, as well, wrote Rodari, observing that, "The figure of the ex-Anglican English prelate was important for the formation of the Pontiff and his contribution could be important to the Church today."
Pope Benedict XVI's schedule for the trip includes ample opportunities to reflect on the life of the cardinal, including his beatification ceremony, which the Holy Father will preside over on the fourth and final day of his voyage.
Examining the agenda, particular moments offering the Pope the possibility of speaking about the 19th- century English cardinal include a meeting in London with a delegation from the Anglican Church led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on Sept. 17; a Eucharistic celebration in Westminster Cathedral on Sept. 18; a prayer vigil in Hyde Park the next day; and, of course, the beatification ceremony in Birmingham on Sunday, Sept. 19.
The Birmingham Oratory announced in their Church bulletins this month that following the beatification ceremony, the Holy Father will also go their Chapel, dedicated to St. Philip, where he will become the first pilgrim to pray at their new shrine to their founder, Cardinal Newman.
Rome, Italy, Jul 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - An apparent glitch in Google's ranking system for web searches led the company to make a change over the weekend so that the Vatican's website was not placed below a site with information on pedophilia. According to an Italian technology website, the anomaly leaves many questions unanswered.
The first news reports in Italy began to come out last Friday about the fact that inserting the word "Vatican" in a Google search retrieved the website www.pedofilo.com as the first option, one place ahead of the Holy See's official www.vatican.va website. The website that replaced the Vatican's was one that provided information on the pheonomenon of pedophilia and reproduced documents from the Holy See on the matter.
After momentum increased behind the story on international newswires over the weekend, Google technicians fixed the problem, and now the Vatican's website tops the results of the simple search. But that leaves the question of how it came about in the first place.
The Italian technology website www.bitcity.it explained that preference in the order of Google search results is dictated by the number of links available to the site from other webpages. The algorithm, in this case, could have been manipulated to give greater consideration to the pedofilo.com site over all others, a technique called "Google bombing."
Bitcity reported that Google had "assured that this mechanism could not be used for one's own ends, but what happened with the Vatican and the pedofilo.com site brings up some perplexities" on how the algorithm could have been changed.
Google Italy's communications director, Simona Panseri, told ANSA "I cannot confirm that it was an attack until I have more precise indications from the American engineers to understand the nature of the problem."
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that Google apologized to the Vatican, and a formal protest was not necessary.
Amsterdam, Netherlands, Jul 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Fr. Paul Vlaar, a priest in the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam in the Netherlands, was suspended last week following a World Cup-themed Mass he presided over which was seen by his bishop as disrespectful to the Eucharist. Diocesan spokesman Wim Peeters explained that the priest had been warned by the bishop against frivolousness previously.
Bishop Joseph Punt of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam suspended Fr. Vlaar for "failure to respect the sanctity of the Eucharist" after he celebrated the Mass on the morning of the July 11 World Cup final, dressed in an orange chasuble.
Beginning Mass with a referee's whistle, he consecrated the bread and wine at an altar adorned with flowers and candles in the team colors. He was also flanked by a child-sized soccer goal and banners and flags supporting the Dutch national team. The music chosen for the liturgy had nothing to do with the Eucharistic celebration at all.
International media picked up the story, highlighting the "silliness" of the decision to suspend him, quoting parishioners who had enjoyed the celebration and were bewildered at the priest's temporary dismissal. However, the Dutch bishops' news service RKK reported that there was "indignation" at the celebration within the Haarlem-Amsterdam Diocese for the profanation of the Mass.
"In the past there were some occasions when Fr. Vlaar used things from outside of the liturgy to get the attention of the faithful," the diocesan spokesman told CNA, conceding that he has always been "very creative in this."
However, he explained, "Our bishop has told him on a number of occasions that you cannot mix Holy Mass with things that are not proper to it. You can use things from the news and ways that attract attention, but there are things that are done outside of church."
Mr. Peeters gave the example of a common occurrence in northern Europe of blessing animals for the yearly hunt. Priests often have ceremonies to do so outside of the church building, whereas Fr. Vlaar allowed falcons in the Church for a blessing.
Describing the scene before the World Cup game, which he noted the AP uploaded in video form to YouTube, he said, "it's this type of attention ... that is not proper in church because its a profanation of the Mass."
And "that's the reason the bishop told him to take a leave for a few months for time for reflection," Peeters explained. "In these months, he is suspended, so he's not allowed to administer one of the sacraments. He'll go to a monastery or an abbey and will have time for refection, and then bishop will see what he will do.
As for Fr. Vlaar's future assignment, the spokesman said, "He could possibly go back to the same parish, but he could also go to a new parish."
Madrid, Spain, Jul 19, 2010 (CNA) - The coach of Spain’s world champion soccer team, Vicente del Bosque, is a man of few words and gestures. However, last week he experienced one of the most emotional moments of his life when he fulfilled the dream of his 21 year-old son Alvaro, who suffers from Down’s Syndrome, by allowing him to hold up the World Cup trophy to the applause of the team.
“My son changed my life,” Del Bosque has said on more than one occasion. Alvaro is his second son, and Del Bosque learned that he had Down’s Syndrome several weeks after his birth. “At first we cried a lot,” he told author Gemma Herrero for her book, “39 Stories of Solidarity Surrounding Sports,” but he added, “Now when I look back I think, we were so foolish.”
Del Bosque has been married to his wife Trini for 30 years, and they have three children: Vicente, 23, Alvaro, 21 and Gemma, 17. Having a son with Down’s Syndrome was a trial that prepared the soccer coach to face any difficult challenge, including the last minutes of the World Cup final.
Alvaro has inherited the love of soccer from his father. He is a huge fan and has even questioned his dad’s coaching decisions.
He welcomed his victorious father home from South Africa with the rest of the team. A few months ago, he made his dad promise that he would let him be in the victory parade in Madrid if the team won. Del Bosque kept his promise.
Rome, Italy, Jul 19, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A summer course for religious sisters began on Monday at one of Rome's Pontifical Colleges which examines the approach of religious congregations to attracting interest for new vocations. The course takes a look at vocational pastoral ministry in a changing world.
The official program for the July 19-24 "Animation Vocation"course promotes it as "a week of prayer, listening, exchange of international experiences, proposals for new strategies and planning."
Included among the variety of attention grabbing sessions within the six days of the course at the Pontifical Atheneum Regina Apostolorum University are titles such as "From the internet to the convent" and "Vocation promoters among cosmetics and pubs." Of the latter, Italian media in recent days have run a variety of headlines, perhaps topped by Italian news agency TGCOM's "Sisters, between whiskey and make-up."
CNA spoke with a spokesperson of the University's Institute of Religious Studies, Dr. Laura Salvo, about the idea behind the course, which has drawn 100 religious sisters from more than 30 congregations worldwide.
She said that it takes a look at how congregations can get in touch with youth, adapting their vocational ministry to the contemporary world by meeting potential candidates on their playing field.
Dr. Salvo noted that they are making an effort to understand the "language" of the younger generation, transmitting values while recognizing the changes that have taken place. The modified approach, she said, "doesn't change values just the modality."
Changing the approach is important, she emphasized, especially in more developed nations where there are more distractions. She explained that "We're living a much stronger crisis in vocations (in Italy) than in other places" where the "consumerist" culture isn't as widespread and faith is "more at the center" of people's lives.
The official communique for the course promotes the returned enthusiasm to the consecrated life as "crucial" to the third millennium, describing the religious sister as "the bearer of the most characteristic values of human nature."
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 19, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Martin de Elizalde of Nueve de Julio, Argentina said last week the passage of a law allowing same-sex “marriage” by the Senate has put the country “in a new and unexpected situation.”
Bishop Elizalde said the passage of the law should lead Argentineans to question “the seriousness of the gospel commitment we claim to have. The coarse political context cannot justify what has happened.”
“As time goes on certain aspects will be clarified and new ways of behaving in society will be established,” he ventured. “The consequences will become evident in many areas, perhaps not right away, but there will certainly be repercussions in family life and in the formation of young people,” the bishop warned.
“There is something that does not change and cannot change, and that is the law of God and the voice of conscience which is in every person. As believers, we must give a testimony of coherence and fidelity, without allowing ourselves to be influenced by the dominate, yet deceitful, trends of the day, which have no basis in a truly creative program oriented towards the comprehensive good of persons,” the bishop said.
“We must maintain our appreciation and adherence to the family as God has willed it and as it was established in the natural order,” he insisted.
“The Church’s doctrine on marriage and the family and on sexuality does not alter or deform what nature itself provides, in the life and development of each free person invested with intelligence,” Bihsop Elizalde continued. “On the contrary, it enlightens us based on the faith and constitutes an aid for its realization in this life … ” he said.
The bishop underscored that Argentineans have been given a mission by God to bear witness to the truth about the family and marriage. “May God keep us united and fervent, and may our families continue to be a sign of His presence among us,” said.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 19, 2010 (CNA) - The Spanish daily La Razon reported this week that more than 1,300 teens between the ages of 12 and 18 are currently pursing a call to the priesthood by studying at the 53 diocesan minor seminaries that exist in the country.
An article written by Alex Navajas revealed that while “some kids at that age dream about being soccer players, business leaders, doctors or bullfighters,” others, “as soon as they enter adolescence, want to become priests.”
Such is the case with Alvaro Pinero, a 16-year-old from Toledo, who entered the minor seminary school in Madrid in 2006. He discovered his vocation at the age of 12 but felt unsure. “The school helped me a lot. It’s a great environment where we have good friendships and my classmates feel like they are my second family,” he said.
Another student, Adrian, felt the call to the priesthood at the age of five as an altar boy in his hometown of Monturque. At the age of 12 he entered the seminary of San Pelegio, and now at age 16 he says of the seminary, “Our ideal is Christ. Prayer is part of our formation, because without it we can do nothing. Our spiritual retreats are times of more intense prayer in order know and love Christ more.”
Santiago Fernandez, 18, has been in the minor seminary for two years and in September he will graduate to major seminary. “At first, my friends reacted very negatively. Then, when they saw how well I was doing, they began to support me,” he recalled.
Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba also discovered his vocation at an early age and attended minor seminary. “I wanted to be a priest since I was seven,” he said. “I was an altar boy and I told my pastor, who was a key part of my vocation.” He said the years at minor seminary “were the happiest of my life. I only have positive things to say about minor seminaries,” Bishop Fernandez added.
Bishop Fernandez is one among many Spanish bishops who attended minor seminary, including the Archbishop of Toledo and the Bishop of Jaen. According to Antonio Prieto, the rector of the minor seminary of Cordoba, “more than 60 percent of the clergy of our diocese has passed through these halls.”