Archive of August 23, 2010

Pope's second book on Jesus of Nazareth projected for Lent 2011 release

Vatican City, Aug 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Vatican publishing house director Msgr. Giuseppe Costa announced to Vatican Radio that they are aiming to release the second volume of Jesus of Nazareth in March 2011. The book, written by the Pope on the Paschal mystery, would therefore arrive in time for Lent.

Asked about the second volume during an interview with Vatican Radio, Msgr. Costa, director of the Vatican's publishing house Libreria Editrice Vaticana, said that they hope for a March 13 release, to mark the first Sunday of Lent.

The timing is excellent as Pope Benedict XVI's book focuses on Jesus' Passion, Death and Resurrection.

He explained that 18 different editors have contracted with Libreria Editrice Vaticana to publish the edition, with "surely" others to come. By Jan. 15, 2011, he said, editors should all have the text in hand to begin national publication.

The announcement came as another book by the Pope was presented at a conference in Rimini, Italy. The first of Cardinal Ratzinger's complete works, or "opera omnia," was presented by the Bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Muller, and the director of the International Center of Communion and Liberation, Roberto Fontolan, during a session on the Theology of the Liturgy at the interfaith Rimini Meeting.

As Msgr. Costa told Vatican Radio, the complete works "do not relate to his teachings as Pope, but to “his writings, his teachings, his interviews as a cardinal."

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Brazilian bishops express hope that presidential debate will inform citizens

Brasilia, Brazil, Aug 23, 2010 (CNA) - The Conference of Catholic Bishops of Brazil expressed its desire last week that the presidential debate set for today will inform the public, allowing citizens to vote responsibly.

The president of the conference, Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, said, “We pray that this debate will clear things up so that people can vote in an informed and responsible way”

The presidential debate, which is being carried by the country’s main Catholic networks, will feature candidates Jose Serra, Marina Silva and Plinio Arruda Sampaio. Dilma Rousseff officially announced on Wednesday that she will not be able to be present.

Several days ago Rousseff admitted she is personally not in favor of abortion but that it is a question of public health and should be available for poor women in despair.

The issues that will be discussed include abortion, embryonic stem cell research and religious symbols in public places. 

The debate can be followed online at

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Terminally ill Colombian bishop discusses science, faith and hope

Cucuta, Colombia, Aug 23, 2010 (CNA) - An editorial published last week by the newspaper La Verdad gave readers a close-up of Colombian Bishop Jaime Prieto Amaya's health. The prelate was diagnosed with terminal cancer in July. 

The editorial highlighted the bishop's faith and hope amidst his illness, as well as the spiritual solidarity of the faithful.

“While it is true that science exists in order to be a truly neutral discipline that seeks only the truth, it is also true that God has always led us to Him through faith and not through logic,” the article stated.

Therefore, it continued, “A believing people, without ignoring the power and advances of science, is watching with sorrow as their pastor suffers and debates between what science has been able to offer and faith in a God who, beyond the norms of medicine, is capable of giving and prolonging life.  Thus do the baptized and the priests of the Diocese of Cucuta believe and profess.”

After citing a series of biblical examples, the editorial also urged readers to pray that God would grant the bishop consolation and strength.

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Mother Teresa left no future plans for her order, recalls Mother Mary Prema

Vatican City, Aug 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by Blessed Mother Teresa, has no set plan for the future, revealed the current Mother Superior. In an interview released on Monday by Fides news agency, she said that Mother Teresa left them only with her constant advice: to become ever more holy.

German-born Sister Mary Prema spoke with Fides as the 100th anniversary of Bl. Mother Teresa's birth, celebrated on Aug. 26, approaches.

Mother Teresa's "only goal" of loving Jesus and transmitting that love to others is the legacy she left to the Missionaries of Charity, said Sr. Mary.

Asked what major challenges the order under her direction expects in the future, she answered that the Missionaries of Charity don't make plans too far in advance. "We try to remain open to what God asks of us," she explained.

"Only Jesus will tell me what is the next step. So, in the spirit of Mother, I'm not the one who controls things. God is the one who decides."

Mother Teresa, she explained, "never gave us any indications of future plans besides the fact that we should always strive to become more holy! This was her constant advice."

As Mother Superior she continues to follow the example of Mother Teresa as the head of the order, making informed decisions based on discussion and considering all the information available, she explained.

In responding to the challenges offered by the world in her day, the founder had a way of listening to Jesus and to the world, recalled Sister Mary. "She was very generous towards God and towards those suffering beside her. In this, we want to imitate her."

Remembering the strong witness of the founder, she said, "Through her life, her work, her charisma, she brought those around her to God. She did not preach, but she testified with her own life."

People continue to approach Sister Mary today to recount their experiences of moments shared with Mother Teresa. Many, she said, Hindus included, were only in her presence for a short time, but "that one moment changed their lives forever."

While they may not have converted, she said, "they began to see their lives and their work with different eyes and have become other people, living in a different way, based on love and mercy, within their own families."

Asked when the blessed might be canonized, Sr. Mary said she didn't think that it was important. "Everyone knows that she is a saint - both Hindus and Christians here in Calcutta and in most places where we are present - this is beyond doubt. Everyone expects a miracle … but Mother Teresa was the same miracle for the world and humanity."

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Benedict XVI: He who finds God, finds everything

Rimini, Italy, Aug 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Reflecting on where man's true satisfaction and fulfillment lies, Pope Benedict wrote last week to attendees at the Rimini Meeting in Italy. The "great things" for which man strives, the Holy Father said, can be found in God through prayer.

The message from the Pope, transmitted in a note sent by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to Bishop Francesco Lambiasi of Rimini, was read at the end of the inaugural Mass for the "Meeting for Friendship Amongst Peoples." The week-long encounter is titled, "That nature which pushes us to desire great things is the heart."

At the root of this title, observed the Pope, is the reminder of an "unsuppressible anxiety" in every man's nature which spurs him to find answers for his longings. "Every man," he said, "perceives that in the realization of the most profound desires of his heart he can find the possibility of ... truly becoming himself."

Man is pushed "outside of himself" to fulfill the entirety of his desire, a desire not just for "any" thing, but for "great things," explained the Holy Father.

And, while he is often tempted to stop short and settle for "little things," that offer a moment of satisfaction and pleasure, "God alone is enough. He alone satiates the profound hunger of man.

"Whoever has found God, has found everything," he emphasized, adding that "finite things can give glimmers of satisfaction and joy, but only the Infinite can fill the heart of man ... "

"Man only needs a single thing that contains everything, but first he must learn to recognize, also through his desires and his superficial longings, what he truly needs, what he truly desires, what is capable of satisfying the capacity of his heart."

This desire for "great things," explained Pope Benedict, must be transformed into prayer, which the Fathers of the Church maintained was changing one's very self into a powerful desire for the Lord.

Citing St. Augustine who defined prayer as an expression of desire and asserted that God responds by extending our heart towards him, he said, "Of God we can ask everything, all that is good. The goodness and the power of God know no limits between big and small, material and immaterial, earthly and celestial things.

"In dialogue with Him - bringing our lives before his eyes, we learn to desire the good things, in concrete, God himself."

The Rimini Meeting has taken place annually since 1980 and seeks to "create points of contact between experiences and people of different faiths and cultures who share a positive desire for knowledge and reciprocal enhancement."

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Pro-life groups laud decision to block embryonic stem cell research

Washington D.C., Aug 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pro-life groups lauded the decision of a federal court ruling on Monday which prevents the Obama administration from carrying out its embryonic stem cell research policy. One legal fund reacted by saying, the “American people should not be forced to pay for experiments – prohibited by federal law – that destroy human life.”

The ruling comes after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued new guidelines last year that permitted federal funding for research on stem cell lines that had already been created.

On August 23, however, a federal judge concluded that the policy likely violates a federal law known as the “Dickey/Wicker Amendment.” The amendment has been part of the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services every year since 1996.

The amendment bars federal funding for the creation of a human embryo for research purposes as well as for research in which a human embryo or embryos are “destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.”

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth temporarily blocked the Obama administration on Monday from using federal dollars to fund expanded human embryonic stem cell research while a lawsuit against the NIH policy – filed last year by the Christian Medical Association (CMA) and Nightlight Christian Adoptions – proceeds.

Pro-life groups praised the ruling on Monday.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which helped represent CMA and Nightlight, saying that the “American people should not be forced to pay for experiments – prohibited by federal law – that destroy human life.”

“The court is simply enforcing an existing law passed by Congress that prevents Americans from paying another penny for needless research on human embryos,” continued ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden. “No one should be allowed to decide that an innocent life is worthless.”

“Experimentation on embryonic stem cells isn’t even necessary because adult stem cell research has been enormously successful,” Aden said. “In economic times like we are in now, it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to use precious taxpayer dollars for this illegal and unethical purpose.”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins also weighed in on the ruling Monday, saying that the  judge's decision was “a stinging rebuke to the Obama Administration and its attempt to circumvent sound science and federal law, which clearly prohibits federal funding for research that involves the destruction of human embryos.”

“Rather than fund additional embryo-destructive research, the government should focus its resources on adult stem cells that are already improving health and saving the lives of patients with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, spinal cord injury and many other conditions,” he added. “There is great potential in this country for stem cell research and treatments for many diseases, while maintaining ethical standards.”

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After immigrant expulsions in France, Pope calls for education in brotherhood

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 23, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following Sunday's Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI invited parents to educate their children in "universal fraternity." The call came just days after President Nicolas Sarkozy gave the go-ahead for the expulsion of certain illegal immigrants from France.

According to French news reports, last week President Nicolas Sarkozy followed through with his plan, and began expelling the first of nearly 1,000 illegal Roma and Gypsy immigrants, who are all due to be deported this month.

AFP reported that from Aug. 19-20 more than 200 individuals accepted a government handout of 300 euros (380 dollars) as they volunteered to be flown back to Romania. Those who have the same legal status in France and do not come forward will reportedly be ordered by the government to leave in September without any compensation.

Citing the message from Sunday's liturgy that all men are called to salvation, the Holy Father, in his French-language greeting, said that this is "an invitation to know how to accept legitimate differences among humans, just like Jesus came to bring men together from all nations and languages."

In this context, the Pope called for parents to educate children in "universal fraternity."

The recent policy of expulsion has been contested by a number of Church, human rights and opposition government officials. The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrant and Itinerant peoples, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, told Vatican Radio on Friday that additional pressure was put on the people in question as 51 illegal encampments had been dismantled since the beginning of the month, creating "a situation of non-freedom."

In a separate statement to AFP the archbishop argued that the deportations are against European norms, "One cannot generalize and take an entire group of people and kick them out."

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Church in Cuba responds to open letter from dissidents

Havana, Cuba, Aug 23, 2010 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Havana issued a press release on August 20 in response to an open letter recently sent to Pope Benedict XVI by a group of Cuban dissidents. The archdiocese said its statement was in response to the uproar among Catholics concerning the letter, “which contains offensive content toward the Church in Cuba.”

The letter

The open letter from the dissidents was signed by 165 people, many of whom are Catholic and have been involved in the Varela Project. Many are also family members of the prisoners who “desperately want” the regime to disappear.

The dissidents stated that they are not in agreement with “the position the Cuban Church hierarchy has taken in its intervention in support of political prisoners,” which they call “unfortunate and embarrassing.”  They believe that if the bishops had offered the “right mediation,” they would have listened to “the complaints of both sides” and would have reconciled them.

“However,” they continued, “the solution of exile, accepted by those who have been unjustly imprisoned for seven years only because of their ideas, only benefits the dictatorship,” as this “exodus” prevents them from continuing in their struggle for democracy in Cuba.

The response from the archdiocese

The press release from the Archdiocese of Havana pointed out that when the Church “accepted the mission of mediating between the family members of the prisoners ... and Cuban officials, it knew that this mediation could be interpreted in different ways, provoking various reactions: from insults to defamation, to acceptance and even gratitude. Remaining inactive was not a valid option for the Church because of her pastoral mission,” the statement said. 

The archdiocese also noted that “the Church’s actions supporting respect for the dignity of all Cubans and for social harmony in Cuba has been ongoing for 20 years” and “has never and will never be based on political tendencies, whether of the government or of the opposition, but rather on her pastoral mission.”

The statement also indicated that “the Church in Cuba will not divert her attention from that which motivated her to act in this process: the humanitarian complaint from families who have suffered from the incarceration of one or more of their members.”

Demonstrating the Pope's awareness of the situation, the archdiocese quoted Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, who recently remarked that the crucial role assumed in the Cuban dialogue process by Cardinal Jaime Ortega and by Archbishop Dionisio Garcia, the president of the bishops’ conference, was possible because of the evident fact that the Catholic Church is profoundly rooted in the nation's people and is interpreted in the light of their spirit and their expectations.

The statement continued citing Fr. Lombardi, who said that the Church in Cuba “is not a strange reality, she does not escape in difficult times. She bears the sufferings and brings hope, with dignity and patience, ... but without trying to increase tensions or exacerbate feelings.”

She does this, he added, “with the constant commitment to opening paths to understanding and dialogue.”

The archdiocese concluded its statement again quoting Fr. Lombardi, who said the Holy See “supports the local Church with its spiritual solidarity and international authority,” and that “the Holy See has always declared itself against the embargo, and thus is united with the people in their suffering.”

The spokesman then spoke of the Church's willingness “to support any perspective on constructive dialogue ... with patience, important progress has been made in this direction.  We all want it to continue.”

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Cardinal Rivera encourages pastoral work, guided by peace

Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 23, 2010 (CNA) - During a Mass celebrating 25 years as a bishop and 15 as head of the Archdiocese of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, said that the Lord’s call to carry out pastoral work is always guided by peace and love, rejecting violence and all forms of dominance and imposition.

According to the Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news service, the cardinal reflected on the Good Shepherd during his homily and on the duty to imitate Christ in resolving the gravest conflicts of our times. “Many times we want the Lord to show us His plan with clarity, or even more, to impose it on us.  But we see that the Lord calls us to make Him present, to give witness to His shepherding, to be leaven, to transform slowly, without any violence, from within, and not by imposition.”

“We are in a society in which we are continuously provoked.  Many times we would like to take another path,” he said.

“Our pastoral work to make the Good Shepherd present must never be done through domination or imposition, and much less through fighting or war.  This is not our spirituality,” he said.

“We can’t run away or hide either,” the cardinal said.  “We also have the temptation often to look the other way, to say, ‘Let others fight, I’m going to be calm and hide.’ No, we are not called to combat, we are called to proclaim love and peace because violence cannot be overcome by violence.

“Love is what builds the Kingdom of God in our world,” the cardinal concluded.

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