Archive of September 5, 2010

Vatican analyst certain of November consistory

Rome, Italy, Sep 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Not only is a consistory imminent, but its announcement will come next month according to “Vaticanista” Marco Tosatti. Reporting for the Italian daily La Stampa, the analyst offered a look at who might be included among the 19 likely candidates for being honored as a cardinal at a November election.

The hypothesis of a consistory becomes ever more valid as the number of cardinal-electors, those under 80 years of age and therefore eligible to vote in a papal conclave, approaches the century mark. With the traditional number of voting-age members of the College of Cardinals being 120, there is considerable space for new cardinals.

Many have ventured guesses recently as to when the consistory might come about, but the insider Tosatti goes even farther by pinpointing the likely date of the Pope's announcement. He wrote on Saturday that Benedict XVI “will announce” a consistory during the Synod for the Middle East and added that it “could” come out at the general audience on Oct. 20. The Special Assembly will take place in Rome from Oct. 10-24.

The announcement is generally made by the Pope after the Angelus or the general audience, and tradition dictates that the College of Cardinals convenes for the election a month afterwards.

The last consistory was announced on Oct. 17, 2007 and took place on Nov. 24 of that same year. The Pope included the names of the eventual cardinals in his original October announcement.

Explaining that “at least” 19 posts will be available to meet the 120-voter limit by January, the La Stampa journalist went on to name several of those who will likely receive the “red hats.”

He said with certainty that four dicastery heads of the Roman Curia will be elected including Archbishops Angelo Amato from the council for saints' causes, Raymond Leo Burke of the Apostolic Signatura, Kurt Koch from ecumenical relations and Gianfranco Ravasi of culture.

Additionally, the Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-walls, the head of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and heads of two Italian archdioceses are likely choices.

For North America, he predicted the nominations of Archbishops Donald Wuerl, Washington D.C., and Thomas Collins, Toronto. Archbishop Wuerl was also among those predicted to be created a cardinal in 2007.

In Europe, the Archbishops of Munich, Warsaw, Toledo, Westminster, Utrecht, and Mechelen-Brussels, made Tosatti's shortlist.

In addition, he called for three in Asia, one each for Sri Lanka, China and Japan; three for Africa, in Congo, Cameroon and Uganda, and at least two for South America, one each in Uruguay and Brazil.

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Catholic bishop warns of more crisis in Pakistan floods’ wake

Lahore, Pakistan, Sep 5, 2010 (CNA) - In the wake of massive floods affecting hundreds of thousands of people, the Catholic Bishop of Hyderabad has warned of a deepening crisis. Poor nutrition and a lack of clean water mean a cholera epidemic is “imminent,” while the destitute could face starvation in a time of “skyrocketing” inflation.

Writing in an aid application to the international pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Bishop Max Rodrigues described the aftermath of the floods and recounted an effort to travel to the worst-affected regions to provide basic help.

“On the way we saw many villages and vast areas submerged and people who had fled from the floods sitting on higher grounds along the main highway without food and shelter, waiting for some help to arrive.”

The numbers of people migrating, he reported, have “never (been) seen in our history before.”

“It was an unforgettable and most distressing experience for us to see the whole city of Sujawal under water and army boats rescuing people who were marooned.”

Sujawal has a population of about 250,000. According to the bishop, 91 bridges were damaged or destroyed by the floods and roads to most of the affected areas are impassable.

Official government figures put the death toll at 1,650 people, with 1,100 being from Sindh province. About 500,000 people are thought to have been affected.

“The scale of the disaster has been so imaginably large that it seemed impossible to reach out to all the affected victims of the flood,” Bishop Rodrigues continued, according to ACN.

“Tough days lie ahead of us. Since millions of people have lost everything and don’t have money, people may face starvation,” he stated. “The aftermath of the floods may be worse. God help us.”

The bishop said that he has organized a task force to provide food, soap, water and mosquito nets to those most in need. Religious sisters at St. Mary’s High School in Sukkur have organized teams of volunteers to provide cooked food and water for hundreds of people.

ACN has sent about $64,000 to Sindh Province bringing its total aid so far to about $135,000. The latest aid payment will provide for basic needs such as food, water purification filters and mosquito nets.

Other aid has gone to Multan in the south of Punjab; Quetta in Baluchistan province; and Nowshera, a town west of Islamabad.

Some sources indicate that Pakistan government officials refused to shore up the banks of the River Indus which ran through regions populated by minority groups including Hindus, Sikhs and Christians. On Monday Fides reported that 15 people died after a Pakistani politician, desperate to save his property, ordered the diversion of flood waters into the Christian village of Kokharabad.

A reported 377 people were made homeless because of the diversion and crops suffered major damage.

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New US stamp honors Mother Teresa, admirer and critic of American society

Washington D.C., Sep 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa on August 26, the United States Postal Service is honoring her with a new 44 cent stamp. It was issued in a special ceremony today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Postmaster General John Potter dedicated the stamp Sunday along with other officials from both the postal service and the Catholic Church, including the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Auxiliary Bishop of Washington Barry Knestout, Monsignor Walter Rossi of the national shrine, and Sister Leticia, MC, provincial superior of the Missionaries of Charity.

During the ceremony, Potter explained that it is important for the government agency to “focus attention on subjects our country regards with respect and affection, and that is certainly true of Mother Teresa, who believed so deeply in the innate worth and dignity of humankind and worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor, sick, orphaned and dying.”

The postmaster added that he is “very proud” for the U.S. to be “honoring Mother Teresa with such a lasting memorial.” Collectible first-day postmark editions of the new stamp will be available directly through the U.S. Postal Service.

Mother Teresa died in 1997, and was beatified by the Church as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta” in 2003. Born in Albania, she founded the Missionaries of Charity in India in the late 1940s, where she resolved to work among the “poorest of the poor” for the rest of her life. The Missionaries of Charity have continued her mission among the sick and destitute in India, and now serve those in extreme need in countries throughout the world.

Blessed Teresa received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and was made an honorary citizen of the U.S. in 1996, as an acknowledgment of her remarkable and persistent efforts to relieve the suffering of the very poor.

Although she was appreciative of these honors, and spoke highly of many values expressed in America's founding documents,  Mother Teresa also directed blunt criticism toward the materialism and “spiritual poverty” of Western countries, conditions which she believed led to a particular and systematic neglect of the unborn and the elderly.

Prior to receiving her honorary American citizenship, she  summed up her message to America in her letter to the Supreme Court:

“I have no new teaching for America. I seek only to recall you to faithfulness to what you once taught the world. Your nation was founded on the proposition—very old as a moral precept, but startling and innovative as a political insight—that human life is a gift of immeasurable worth, and that it deserves, always and everywhere, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.”

Mother Teresa also addressed a public letter to the Supreme Court on the subject of abortion, which she described as an “infinitely tragic and destructive departure” the American vision of human rights.

Today the work of the Missionaries of Charity in the U.S. have focused particularly on outreach to those suffering from AIDS, and mothers who are facing challenging pregnancies.

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Austin diocese organizes resistance to health board's abortion funding

Austin, Texas, Sep 5, 2010 (CNA) - The Diocese of Austin, Texas, is organizing local resistance to a major health board's decision to provide $450,000 in annual funding for abortions in the state.

Austin Bishop Joe Vasquez recently wrote to board members of Central Health in Travis County, urging them to withdraw the funding and stating that they are “morally culpable” for their actions.

According to the Statesman newspaper, the boarded unanimously voted in December 2009 to renew a five year contract which funds three abortion providers in an effort to ensure coverage for the procedure to economically disadvantaged women.

In the letter to the board, Bishop Vasquez stated that “At the heart of our concern is this: Those who assist in the procurement of an abortion are morally culpable for their actions.”

“Voting to allocate these funds carries moral weight for the Board of Managers and at the same time has implications for all those who pay taxes,” the prelate added. “As Catholics and Christians we dutifully pay our taxes, but doing so should not violate our conscience.”

A televised hearing will take place on Sept. 9 at the local Travis County Commissioners Courtroom.

The Diocese of Austin issued an advocacy alert over the weekend, urging resistance to the abortion funding. In addition to asking for prayers, the Office of Pro-Life Activities and Chaste Living encouraged local Catholics to pass on the news to friends, relatives and co-workers and to contact Central Health directly. Local Catholics are also being asked attend the hearings and voice their opposition.

Providing sample letter for Catholics who wish to write Central Health, the diocese stated: “Poor women need help providing for their children, not eliminating them through abortion. Women deserve better than abortion from Central Health, and county taxpayers deserve better use of their funds.”

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Benedict XVI: All Christians, including the Pope, are called to prayer

Carpineto Romano, Italy, Sep 5, 2010 (CNA) - “Without prayer … we can do nothing,” said the Pope while commemorating the legacy of Leo XIII. Joining in the “Leonine Year” celebrations, Benedict XVI remembered his predecessor's faith, devotion and social teaching, saying that all people, including Popes, are called to pray and to love.

Using the chalice and the pectoral cross of Leo XIII himself, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist with 5,000 people in the center of the small mountain town of Carpineto Romano on Sunday morning. The town, founded nearly a millenium before Christ, provided a stunning backdrop and a familiar feel, further augmented by the many townspeople who followed the Mass from the balconies of their hillside stone houses.

The pastoral visit came within the “Leonine Year,” a jubilee celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of Leo XIII's birth. During his homily, Benedict XVI reflected on two aspects of the late Pope's life brought to mind by Jesus' call in the Sunday Liturgy to love Him above all others, to take up one's cross and to leave behind material possessions.

The first element of the late Pontiff's character that Benedict XVI highlighted was the faith and devotion of the 19th and 20th century Pope. “This,” he explained, “always remains the foundation of everything, for every Christian, including the Pope. Without prayer, that is, without interior union with God, we can do nothing.”

The call to social action for every priest, “in particular the Supreme Pontiff,” was the second aspect he noted. He said that each pastor is called to do so in measure of his individual personality and characteristics.

Each one, he said, has the vocation of transmitting a “wisdom” to the People of God, “a message that conjugates faith and life, truth and concrete reality.”

This, the Pope pointed out, is what Leo XIII did through his life and especially in writing the “first nucleus” of the social doctrine of the faith, the encyclical “Rerum Novarum.” Benedict XVI referenced it in his own 2009 encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate,” in which he updated the Church's social teaching, as other Popes have since Leo XIII.

Concluding his homily, Pope Benedict XVI insisted that through the Eucharist, humanity continues to be urged to a love for neighbor. The “Sacrament of Love,” he said, ”calls us back to the essential: charity, love of Christ that renews men and the world … ”

Imploring the residents of Carpineto to practice the “ancient and always new” commandment of loving each other as Christ has done, he said, “(i)n this way you will be faithful to the inheritance of your great and venerated co-citizen, Pope Leo XIII.”

Echoing this call to the world, he said, “May it be this way in all the Church!”

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Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary to be celebrated September 8

CNA STAFF, Sep 5, 2010 (CNA) - The Catholic Church will soon celebrate the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary on its traditional fixed date of September 8, nine months after the December 8 celebration of her Immaculate Conception as the child of Saints Joachim and Anna.

The circumstances of the Virgin Mary's infancy and early life are not directly recorded in the Bible, but other documents and traditions describing the circumstances of her birth are cited by some of the earliest Christian writers from the first centuries of the Church.

These accounts, although not considered authoritative in the same manner as the Bible, outline some of the Church's traditional beliefs about the birth of Mary.

The “Protoevangelium of James,” which was probably put into its final written form in the early second century, describes Mary's father Joachim as a wealthy member of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Joachim was deeply grieved, along with his wife Anna, by their childlessness. “He called to mind Abraham,” the early Christian writing says, “that in the last day God gave him a son Isaac.”

Joachim and Anna began to devote themselves extensively and rigorously to prayer and fasting, initially wondering whether their inability to conceive a child might signify God's displeasure with them.

As it turned out, however, the couple were to be blessed even more abundantly than Abraham and Sarah, as an angel revealed to Anna when he appeared to her and prophesied that all generations would honor their future child: “The Lord has heard your prayer, and you shall conceive, and shall bring forth; and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world.”

After Mary's birth, according to the Protoevangelium of James, Anna “made a sanctuary” in the infant girl's room, and “allowed nothing common or unclean” on account of the special holiness of the child. The same writing records that when she was one year old, her father “made a great feast, and invited the priests, and the scribes, and the elders, and all the people of Israel.”

“And Joachim brought the child to the priests,” the account continues, “and they blessed her, saying: 'O God of our fathers, bless this child, and give her an everlasting name to be named in all generations' . . . And he brought her to the chief priests; and they blessed her, saying: 'O God most high, look upon this child, and bless her with the utmost blessing, which shall be for ever.'”

The protoevangelium goes on to describe how Mary's parents, along with the temple priests, subsequently decided that she would be offered to God as a consecrated Virgin for the rest of her life, and enter a chaste marriage with the carpenter Joseph.

Saint Augustine described the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an event of cosmic and historic significance, and an appropriate prelude to the birth of Jesus Christ. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley,” he said.

The fourth-century bishop, whose theology profoundly shaped the Western Church's understanding of sin and human nature, affirmed that “through her birth, the nature inherited from our first parents is changed."

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Tuning into God's call: Former radio personality finds new station in life at Catholic school

Indianapolis, Ind., Sep 5, 2010 (CNA) - She has met backstage with Taylor Swift, talked with Garth Brooks, had her picture taken with Carrie Underwood and spent time with so many country music singers, including Reba McEntire, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and the members of Rascal Flatts.

She had her own radio program on one of the most popular country music stations in the United States—WFMS, an Indianapolis station with about 400,000 listeners.

People appreciated and followed her so much that they sent her cards every year on her wedding anniversary, and mailed birthday cards to her two young daughters.

Indeed, for 17 years, Vicki Murphy lived what many people would consider a dream life.

So it may seem surprising that Murphy uses the words “fabulous” and “most fulfilling” to describe the career move that she made in July—leaving the radio world of music, stars and promotional appearances to take the position of communications coordinator at Cardinal Ritter Jr./Sr. High School in Indianapolis.

“Catholic schools are something I believe in with every fabric of my life,” says Murphy, 36, a member of St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis. “And marketing and public relations is something [that] I’ve been involved in for 17 years. I thought I could actually work for the Catholic schools now and do a lot for them and me.”

The change means she can spend more time with her husband, Eric, and their two daughters, Julia, 8, and Becca, 6. The new job also means she gets to promote a school and its students that she has already embraced.

“I went to the first pep rally of the year, and everything was fresh and new,” she recalls. “I’m looking at the kids—the football players running in, the cheerleaders cheering and the band playing. I was caught up in the moment—the newness of high school without the anxiety of high school. Everything was hopeful—the new school year, the new football season, a new start for me.

“Then we had the first all-school Mass. I sat behind the students and was impressed by how reverent they were. I love going to a student-run Mass. You get hopeful about the contributions they can make.”

The change also means she no longer has backstage access to such music stars as Taylor Swift, the young singing sensation who posed for a picture with Murphy’s two daughters, thus earning Murphy the status as “the coolest mom in the world” for at least one night. But sharing extra time with her children and Cardinal Ritter students is a better tradeoff.

“The more famous people you meet, the more you like your friends,” she says with a laugh. “I’d rather spend an hour with 10 Ritter students than 10 famous people. I think Cardinal Ritter High School gets overlooked a lot, and it shouldn’t be. It’s a great school academically, spiritually, athletically and culturally. It’s the most culturally diverse Catholic high school in the state. It’s the way of the world.

“I have the feeling that the world is OK if these kids will be in charge of it later. I’m trying to let people know that this school is special, and the kids are special.”

Printed with permission from the Criterion, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

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Pope highlights call for 'firm' and 'planted' youth in WYD 2011 message

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 5, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Speaking to youth in his message for World Youth Day 2011, Pope Benedict XVI said that the young person's relationship with Christ is fundamental to his reaching maturity. Christ, he added, gives young people all they need to confront life.

Having only just returned to Castel Gandolfo from a pastoral visit to Pope Leo XIII's hometown, the Holy Father recited the Angelus prayer with an enthusiastic collection pilgrims and faithful in the palace courtyard. Before speaking about the message for WYD 2011, he thanked the Lord for the opportunity to celebrate Leo XIII's birthday in Carpineto Romano, Italy on Sunday morning.

The Pope's Message for World Youth Day 2011 was only just released by the Holy See on Friday but carries the date of Aug. 6. The theme of the encounter, to be held in Madrid from Aug. 15-21, is "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith."

Calling the theme from the book of Colossians “decidedly against the current,” he asked, “(w)ho, in fact, proposes to the young people of today to be 'planted' and 'firm'?”

Uncertainty, mobility and communication are exalted today, he pointed out, explaining that these are “all aspects that reflect an indecisive culture concerning the foundational values, principles on the basis of which one orients and regulates life.”

Drawing from his own personal experience and his contact with young people, the Holy Father said that he “know(s) well that every generation, indeed, every single person is called to remake the path of discovery of the meaning of life.”

For this reason, he said, the WYD 2011 message employs biblical references to the tree and construction. “The young person, in fact, is like a growing tree: to develop itself well it needs deep roots, which, in the case of a windstorm, keep it well planted in the ground.” On the other hand, he added, “sound foundations” can be seen in the image of the building.

The core of the message, he said, thus lies in the expressions “in Jesus Christ” and “in the faith.”

“Full maturity of the person (and) his interior stability have their foundation in the relationship with God, a relationship that passes through the encounter with Jesus Christ.” This relation of trust and friendship with Christ is capable of giving young people that which they need most to confront life, said the Pope. It's able to give them “serenity and interior light, an attitude to think positively, broad-mindedness towards others (and) availability to give personally for good, justice and truth.”

The fact that the young person is supported in the faith also by the Church is an important aspect to becoming a believer, he said, explaining that “if no man is an island, less so is the Christian, who discovers in the Church the beauty of the shared and witnessed faith together with others in the brotherhood and service of charity.”

Noting the significance of the date of the publication of the Message for WYD 2011, signed on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, he prayed, “May the light of the Face of Christ shine in the heart of every young person!

“And,” he added, “(may) the Virgin Mary accompany the path of the community and of the youth groups towards the great Encounter of Madrid 2011 with her protection.”

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