Lima, Peru, Aug 30, 2010 (CNA) - An elderly Franciscan priest and his assistant were killed in a convent in Lima, Peru. Authorities suspect criminals who frequented his soup kitchen at a nearby church.
Fr. Linan Ruiz Morales, 80, was found dead in his first floor bedroom in the Convent of San Francisco at the heart of the Peruvian capital, Fides reports. His body had a series of cuts to the neck.
The priest’s 26-year-old assistant Ananias Aguila was also found dead with numerous stab wounds in the kitchen next to the church.
Their bodies were discovered early Friday morning. The priest’s room was ransacked and the safe was open and empty.
Fr. Ruiz, of Puerto Rican ancestry, discovered his vocation in New York where he grew up and entered religious life at the age of 27. In 1978 he arrived in Peru to promote the movement Encuentros de Promoción Juvenil. His ministry made him known and loved by many young people in Lima.
The priest had a passion for soccer and was a fan of the team Alianza Lima. He once spoke with the players to encourage them to pray and to remind them to go to church, Fides reports.
In recent years he devoted himself particularly to the poorest of the poor. His soup kitchen fed 1,200 children and elderly in need who came from all over the city.
Glasgow, United Kingdom, Aug 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Based on the results of a recent survey and the disappearance of protest plans in Scotland, the spokesman for the Scottish Bishops' Conference (SCMO) has declared that the Pope's visit has the support of the people. Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien said that this result confirms the good nature of the people of his country.
In a survey carried out among a pool of 1,007 adults by Opinion Research Business in early June, 31 percent of those polled were "Very or fairly favorable" to the Pope's visit on Sept. 16, as opposed to just five percent who "Object" or "Strongly object" to his presence. Incidentally, more than half of those surveyed had no opinion.
The lack of opposition to the papal visit has led the "Protest the Pope" group to "ditch" their plans to march in Scotland, opting rather for a single demonstration in London, SCMO spokesman Peter Kearney pointed out. Reacting to the poll results, he declared on Sunday that, "It’s now clear to everybody that this tiny minority of secularists speak for nobody but themselves.
"Most" of the nation's people, he added, "will be delighted to hear that they’ve given up their attempt to spoil what promises to be a very exciting day for all Scots.”
The Holy Father will spend most of the first day of his U.K. visit in Scotland, first visiting Queen Elizabeth at her summer residence near Edinburgh and later celebrating Mass in Glasgow. His visit on Sept. 16 coincides with the feast of St. Ninian, the country's first saint.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien also responded positively to the poll on Sunday, saying he was "greatly heartened" and asserting that the results "again (confirm) that the vast majority of Scots are warm-hearted and welcoming of all people.
"Next month’s papal visit," he said, "is going to be a truly historic occasion for our country and one which I hope all Scots will share in and enjoy.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Aug 30, 2010 (CNA) - In a recent message, Bishop Jorge Luis Lona from San Luis in Argentina criticized the country's officials for promoting abortion by describing the procedure as a “termination of pregnancy.”
The prelate lamented that Argentina is becoming a culture of “promoting abortion.” “The shocking word ‘murder’ will not be used. It will be said that it is only a ‘pregnancy termination,’ but lives will be definitively interrupted,” the bishop explained.
“Another ploy is to present the issue not as one of life or death, … but rather as a mere bureaucratic procedure” that would allow for the most liberal access to abortion, he added.
The bishop also denounced the discrimination against children who are denied the right to a father and a mother. “Today, the activists who promote the culture of abortion in Argentina are the same ones ... who promote homosexual marriage and aim to extend its effects to all of society at the educational and cultural level,” Bishop Lona warned.
“This is a global effort whose central nucleus is undoubtedly bound to some sectors of the United Nations. In the name of the struggle against discrimination, they unleash the most active and unjust discrimination against those who believe that God is ‘the source of all reason and justice,’ and who live sustained by that faith,” the bishop said.
Vatican City, Aug 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Sunday, the Holy Father prayed for God's assistance in protecting the earth for future generations. Both he and Patriarch Bartholomew I have made statements concerning the environment as the "Day for the Protection of the Environment" approaches.
The Orthodox Church-created and Italian Bishops' Conference-promoted event takes place on Sept. 1 under the theme "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation." The same theme was used by Benedict XVI for the World Day for Peace.
After Sunday's Angelus, Pope Benedict commented on the "day," which he noted is also an important moment for ecumenical relations. "Indeed," he said, "we have the duty to hand the earth on to future generations in such a condition that they too can worthily inhabit it and subsequently conserve it.
"May the Lord help us in this task!" prayed the Pope.
Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, referred to by some as the "Green Patriarch," has issued an official statement for the celebration. His predecessor, Patriarch Demetrios, originally established the start of the Orthodox liturgical year, Sept. 1, as a day of prayer for the protection of the environment.
Explaining that in today's world, economic and social stability are very closely attached to environmental conditions, he announced that there is a "dire need in our day for a combination of societal sanctions and political initiatives, such that there is a powerful change in direction, to a path of viable and sustainable environmental development."
Pope Benedict XVI has also taught extensively on the relationship of these elements, dedicating a significant portion of his encyclical "Caritas in veritate" to the theme. In that encyclical, he wrote that "one of the greatest challenges facing the economy is to achieve the most efficient use - not abuse - of natural resources … " The Pontiff also exhorted the Church to assert its "responsibility towards creation" in the public sphere.
The Italian bishops' conference initiative will be observed with an ecumenical pilgrimage, which will traverse along a route called the "Path of Creation." The path will take pilgrims through a canyon in the Italian Alps.
Rome, Italy, Aug 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In reference to France's recent expulsion of immigrants living in the country, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto emphasized God's desire for “decent” lives and the “common good” of all peoples.
On Saturday, Archbishop Marchetto, the secretary for the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, observed his namesake's feast day at the Church of St. Augustine in Rome. The same day, the prelate also celebrated his own birthday.
The archbishop has been particularly vocal recently in criticizing the French government for its policies directed specifically at Gypsies and those of Roma ethnic origins.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy's government has cracked down on their caravan camps, disbanding the encampments and offering a pay off to those willing to be sent home this month. According to French news reports, in September the policy will change to one of deportation without compensation.
Speaking with the French news outlet I.Media last week, Archbishop Marchetto said that deportations, such as these, hit "weak and poor people who have been persecuted, who were also themselves victims of a 'holocaust'.”
At St. Augustine parish in Rome, the secretary for migrants spoke of the "four great and important columns of the building of peace," which are: truth, love, justice and freedom.
Peace, he said, "is the great desire of every man. It is human, truly human, and as such, each of us in his small world contributes to this great desire which is the desire of God."
His desire, said the archbishop, is for "a world that is open to man, a decent life for all, a desire for the good - the common good - and also the national (good) ... in a universal context, because we live in a world that is becoming, in a certain sense, ever smaller and is certainly, in many aspects, globalized."
Madrid, Spain, Aug 30, 2010 (CNA) - The general coordinator of World Youth Day 2011, Bishop Cesar Franco, said last week that the presence of thousands of young people on pilgrimage toward God, will have a great impact on Madrid.
Speaking to the media, Bishop Franco emphasized the importance of World Youth Day events and noted that “the holy scent of Christ” remains behind in the cities that host the event. “It is a common experience for the people, even those who are not believers, to be impacted by the joy of the young people, by their good actions.”
“Naturally these are young people with virtues as well as defects, but they come as pilgrims in search of what gives meaning to man’s life: God, Christ, eternal life,” he said.
Bishop Franco expressed his desire that the Church in Spain would be strengthened by the event, as wherever World Youth Day is held. “The Church has regained confidence in herself, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are reborn and the myth that young people don’t care about Christ or His Church evaporates.”
He went on to reaffirm the importance that the Church gives to young people, since they “are the future in all areas of life, as well as in the Church.”
Bishop Franco encouraged young people to participate because “with your presence the Church is younger.” He said young people would experience the universality of the Church and would strengthen their faith.
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 30, 2010 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera, expressed profound sadness last week over the murder of 72 immigrants in the state of Tamaulipas. He called the incident “more evidence of the social disorder and loss of values” dominating “some areas of the country.”
In a statement, the cardinal said that the massacre also points to “the lack of a comprehensive immigration policy in Mexico that is consistent with the needs demanded by human mobility regarding the humanitarian treatment of immigrants, just as Mexico is demanding of the United States.”
This “shameful tragedy” must not go unpunished, the cardinal said. He then called on the governments of America “to take immediate actions to ensure that such deplorable acts never happen again.”
“Pope Benedict XVI has said in the context of migrant ministry that ‘human mobility is a co-responsibility of States and international organizations,’ and in this sense, Mexico is obliged to make every effort to safeguard the fundamental rights of those who enter the country without documents, with the dream of achieving a life of greater dignity,” he said.
The refusal of the victims to cooperate in the drug trade—which was the reason for their deaths—is “a true message of hope and faith,” the cardinal stated. “The sacrifice of these innocent people conveys the universal message about the defense of values and the love of their families.”
Rome, Italy, Aug 30, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - While recently released documentation written by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli in the 1930's does little to dispel the "black legend" of Pope Pius XII, it does provide insight into his character. During the 10 years he served as secretary of state to Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, took detailed notes of the Pontiff's every audience.
L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) welcomed the release of what are called the "audience pages" in an extensive spread in their Sunday edition. The "pages" were the notes taken by Pope Pius XI's secretary of state, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, during private daily audiences between himself and the Pope as well as those the Pontiff had with diplomats, Church officials and others.
Cardinal Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII, documented 1,956 such audiences over the course of the decade he served as secretary of state, from 1930-39. He left 2,627 pages of notes which have been collected, edited and now published by representatives from the Vatican's Secret Archives.
LOR's director, Gian Vian, called the entries an "until now unknown source of extraordinary interest for contemporary history." The collection, he said, "with precision and immediacy, takes account of numerous questions, illuminating the routine work procedure in the heart of the Holy See. Through this emerges the wise energy of government of Pius XI, alongside the intelligence and absolute loyalty of Pacelli."
Current Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone wrote in the publication's preface that the documentation bears witness to the "thousands and thousands of issues (which) occupied the time and thought of Pius XI and Cardinal Pacelli over so many years … "
The subjects, he explained, range "from the most minute requests for subsidies ... to the relevant ecclesiastical and political questions, so much more complicated as the years advanced that separated the wounds of the First World War from those of the Second."
Cardinal Bertone also pointed out that with the passage of time, through documentation such as this, the future Pope Pius XII's "human and Christian stature, as a diplomat, secretary of state and Pontiff, beyond preconceived and distorted 'colorings,' is ever better delineated."
Many people impatiently await the release of documents from the Vatican archives, which they hope will shed light on Pius XII's actions during the Second World War. He has been labeled 'the silent Pope" or "Hitler's Pope" by critics for allegedly remaining "quiet" as the Holocaust took so many lives, including those of more than 1,000 Roman Jews who were deported to Auschwitz in Oct. 1943.
But many other scholars, led by Pope Benedict XVI, continue to staunchly defend the war-time Pope for having done what was within his power to provide aid, assistance and protection to all civilians, including Jews, often in secrecy.
The lack of open access to the Vatican archives concerning Pius XII's pontificate has left many questions in the air, but answers appear to be on the horizon as the Holy See is working to organize and release the extensive war-time documentation in the coming years.
Few answers, however, will be found in this regard in this most recent publication, as the prefect of the Archives, Archbishop Sergio Pagano, explained in an additional LOR article. The point of the notes, he said, was to document issues dealing principally with the correspondence between the secretariat of state and a variety of ecclesiastic, government and civil offices and individuals.
He explained that while "it's obvious to think that subjects of politics or government of the Church, (and) obviously even more relevant (issues), were the subject of the attention of the Pope and his secretary of state ... at least as far as we can say today, Pacelli did not take notes (of these conversations), or at the most he limited himself to writing some annotations on the very documents that were the object of discussion."
Concluding, Archbishop Pagano noted the diligence of the future Pope during his meetings with Pope Pius XI, saying that "no one" at that time in the secretariat of state documented "with equal systematic method, continuity and precision as did the secretary of state Pacelli."
Madrid, Spain, Aug 30, 2010 (CNA/Europa Press) - Distancing herself from the recent criticism of the Church in Cuba and its role in the release of political prisoners, Laura Pollan, spokeswoman for the Women in White, stated that “In Cuba there is no better mediator” than the Catholic Church, because it is an institution without a political agenda.
Speaking to Europa Press, Pollan applauded the efforts led by Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana to negotiate the release 52 political prisoners who were arrested in 2003. “In Cuba there is no better mediator than the Catholic Church because the other organizations are at the service of the (Castro) regime,” she said.
A total of 165 Cuban dissidents, including some political prisoners, sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI last week criticizing the “unfortunate” role the Catholic Church in Cuba played in the “exiling” dissidents to Spain. The letter called for an end to the Church’s “political support” for the Castro regime, which they referred to as “Satan’s commissioners on earth.”
The Cuban clergy immediately rejected the “offensive content” of the letter and stressed that their mediation with the Castro government for the release of 52 political prisoners “was not based on politics,” although they acknowledged that “this mediation could have been interpreted in various ways.”
Pollan said “the families of the political prisoners” who have been released or are part of the group of 52 “are thankful to the Catholic Church for what it has achieved because they are now or will soon be free men and women.”