Vatican City, Sep 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Addressing a gathering of new bishops on Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI said the life of the bishop should be “a service of love” and a “continual oblation to God.” He told the prelates to imitate Christ in poverty and humility and to find strength and wisdom in the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Father met with 102 new bishops from mission territories in 40 countries on Saturday morning in the Swiss Hall of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, L’Osservatore Romano reports.
The prelates, all of whom have been appointed in the last year, are taking part in a seminar promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to assist them as they begin their new ministry.
Welcoming their visit to Rome to deepen their knowledge of their responsibilities as bishops and to renew their profession of faith at the tomb of St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI told the participants that "the Church places not (a) few hopes" in them.
He went on to remind them of some of their duties to the faithful, noting that these are made more difficult by challenges such as poverty and persecution. "To you," he said, "awaits the task of feeding their hope, of sharing in their difficulties, inspiring yourselves in the charity of Christ which consists of attention, tenderness, compassion, (a spirit of) welcoming, availability and interest in the problems of the people for whom you are disposed to give your lives."
In each task, Benedict XVI emphasized, the bishops are sustained by the Holy Spirit, through which they were "configured" to Christ in their ordinations. "In fact," he added, "the episcopal ministry is understood only starting with Christ, the source of the single and supreme priesthood, of which the bishop is made participant."
Calling the bishops to imitate Christ the "humble and poor" servant, he said they can remain ever close to Him through frequent contemplation in prayer and adoration. "The life of the bishop," he explained, "should be a continual oblation to God for the salvation of his Church, and especially for the salvation for the souls that are entrusted to him."
In this pastoral attititude of giving lies the bishop's "true dignity," the Pope added, explaining that it derives from making himself the servant of all “to the point of giving his own life.”
“The episcopate, in fact, - as the priesthood - must not be misunderstood according to mundane categories. It is a service of love," he said.
"The bishop is called to serve the Church with the style of God made man, becoming ever more fully a servant of the Lord and a servant of humanity."
Referring to their "primary duty" of announcing the Word of God while also administering the sacraments, the Pope said that to be convincing in their ministry, they must “believe and live what they announce and celebrate."
Concluding his remarks by noting that their wisdom and strength to witness to salvation and peace comes from the power of the Holy Spirit, Pope Benedict told the new bishops "He will guide the paths of your episcopal ministry."
Vatican City, Sep 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Newman's beatification will convey the full meaning of Pope Benedict XVI's message for the papal visit to the UK, the Holy See's spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has said. He added that Newman personified the "profound synthesis of the Christian faith and the British spirit."
Fr. Lombardi dedicated his weekly "Octava Dies" editorial to the topic of Pope Benedict's imminent visit to the UK, examining the most important moments on the schedule.
Noting the Pope's gratitude for the invitation to travel to the UK, Fr. Lombardi said that the Holy Father is well aware of the wide variety of realities preparing for the visit, from the Queen and the British government to the Anglican and Catholic Churches.
Responding to the flurry of protests in the media leading up to the trip, Fr. Lombardi said that "the expectation and interest of British society are growing well beyond some noisy, but still marginal manifestations of dissent."
He added, "The perception, in fact, has confirmed that the great religious and moral authority of the Pope could offer an important, serene, positive and constructive specific contribution, of orientation for the great challenges of the world of today."
In this context, he said that the Pope's meeting with representatives of civil society and institutions is "one of the culminating moments of the trip."
However, he explained, the "complete sense" of the Pope's message during the visit will be communicated at the beatification of the nineteenth-century convert and theologian Cardinal John Henry Newman on Sunday, Sept. 19.
Remembering the Pope's own descriptions of the cardinal, Fr. Lombardi said he was "truly great," rich with "gentle wisdom" and an example of "integrity and holiness of life."
According to the Vatican spokesman, Cardinal Newman is “a source of inspiration for the Church and society in so many parts of the world" and "incarnates in the most convincing way the fascinating fruit of the profound synthesis between Christian faith and the British spirit and its permanent fruitfulness for the world of today and tomorrow."
Vatican City, Sep 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Giving mixed reviews to BBC programs airing before the papal visit, the spokesman for Cardinal Newman’s beatification has said that the broadcaster is showing several viewpoints. One upcoming program on Pope Benedict will show “very poor journalism,” while another will be better crafted.
The press officer for the beatification of Cardinal Newman, Jack Valero, spoke with CNA on Friday about the BBC's coverage of the Pope and next week's beatification ceremony in Birmingham, England. He did not agree that the BBC as a whole wants to “humiliate” the Pope, saying that only individual people do.
Referring to the media environment as an "open field," he said that while the British broadcaster is airing programs decidedly negative to the current pontificate in the lead-up to Pope Benedict's UK trip, it does so to show a variety of perspectives.
Of the programs they will dedicate to the Holy Father in the coming days, he said, "some will be good and some not so good. But, you know," he asserted, "if we put our message across in a good, convincing way than I think we will get more space and if we're not so good at communicating it than I think we will probably lose out."
Valero said that Fergal Keane's "What the Pope Knew" program on BBC One's Panorama, to be aired for the first time on Monday, will be “very poorly researched, with very poor journalism and that's a pity and it'll be pretty negative.
"But," he added, "there will be another one about the Pope himself which has been pretty well researched and starts from a negative and comes out pretty positive in the end."
This second program is a documentary called "Benedict - Trials of a Pope," created by reporter Mark Dowd to examine the life of the Pope from his Bavarian origins to the Holy See. It will be broadcast on Wednesday in the UK. The "Catholic Voices" group, which Valero helped to found, makes an appearance in the program.
Dowd, a former Dominican friar and an open homosexual, wrote an article for Friday's Catholic Herald in which he speaks of how, by studying Pope Benedict XVI's life to make the film, he came to respect him greatly.
Reflecting on the overall media situation at the moment, Valero told CNA, "I think that there's room for everybody and what I read in that is that you just have to be good at communicating and then you get a good entré and you can make your point."
Asked if there is a concerted effort by the BBC to damage the Pope's reputation, Valero answered that "individual people might want to humiliate the Pope" but "in general I wouldn't think that the BBC would want to do that."
Last week Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien slammed the BBC, citing "a consistent anti-Christian institutional bias" from the network which has come to a head over the last two decades. He said that the BBC is planning a "hatchet job" for coverage of the Pope's visit and that it seeks to "humiliate" him through pre-trip programming.
As for the BBC coverage in Birmingham for the Sept. 19 beatification, Valero said it will be “excellent." He noted that although the network's presenter Huw Edwards is not Catholic, he did a "really impressive" job of covering Pope John Paul II's funeral.
The live coverage will be "full of good stuff," Valero concluded, labeling the BBC as a "good channel" and pointing out that on it "every view is represented."
Rome, Italy, Sep 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The establishment of "just and lasting peace" between Israel and Palestine would probably mean more to Christians in the Middle East than to "most," said the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre. In a letter to members of the order, Cardinal John Foley asked for prayers for the success of the negotiations.
Cardinal Foley voiced his hope for renewed negotiations for peace in the Middle East in a message sent to 26,000 members of the order, according to the Italian bishops' SIR news agency, which reproduced his words in part.
Admitting that the prospect of establishing a peace deal "do(es) not look very promising," he noted that "the very fact that such talks are under way is encouraging.
"All in the Middle East would profit from a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine – but our fellow Christians there would probably profit more than most, since more of them could remain in the land made sacred by Jesus Christ," he wrote.
U.S.-backed negotiations for a peace accord in the Middle East began between Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Washington D.C. on Sept. 2. The two sides will continue to meet every two weeks in an attempt to reach a compromise establishing sovereignty for the Palestinian state and security in Israel.
Concluding his letter, Cardinal Foley asked for prayers for peace in the region, particularly in the Holy Land, for the success of the current negotiations and for the "spiritual fruitfulness" of October's Synod for the Middle East in the Vatican.
The next round of talks between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders is set to take place from Sept. 14-15 in Cairo, Egypt.
Ave Maria, Fla., Sep 11, 2010 (CNA) - The Home of the Mother religious community has left the campus of Ave Maria University following an allegation that a sister who supervised religious discernment was responsible for “immoral conduct.”
The claim involves Sr. Maria Elena, who led the school’s program to help women discerning a religious vocation. The discernment program on campus currently has about 15 young women.
Sr. Maria Elena’s Spain-based religious community, also known as Hogar de la Madre, recalled the sister last year after learning of an accusation that she had an inappropriate relationship with a female student in the discernment program, the Naples Daily News reports. The student was not a minor at the time.
The community did not report the incident to the university. According to the university, Home of the Mother superiors did not follow Vatican-prescribed procedures for reporting such incidents.
In an e-mail to students, faculty and staff, Ave Maria University president Nick Healy said that the university was ending its relationship with Home of the Mother immediately.
"It was with sadness and concern that we learned that the former superior of the Hogar religious sisters on campus was responsible for immoral conduct," he commented, saying Sr. Maria Elena was recalled to Spain in March without explanation to the university or the Diocese of Venice.
He reported that Bishop of Venice Frank Dewane was told of the matter in August. The bishop met with Healy and university chancellor Tom Monaghan last week “to inform us of what had happened, and to provide guidance as to how to determine if there are other victims and help any student who might have been harmed.”
The decision to end the relationship with the Home of the Mother was made in consultation with the bishop and university trustees. According to the Naples Daily News, Healy is sending an e-mail to all students who were on campus last year to advise them of the procedure for reporting incidents.
The Home of the Mother community has been on the university campus since the 2004-2005 academic year, the school’s second year in Florida. Its sisters wear all-white habits. Two priests of the community, Rev. Colum Power and Rev. Henry Kowalyck, have also resided and ministered on campus.
Healy responded to CNA's inquiries in a Friday e-mail.
He explained that the woman’s discernment program was intended to give young women a chance to test their possible vocations to the religious life by living in a separate area of the dormitory, praying together, and receiving some spiritual direction amid their regular studies.
“We are making a determination as to who should run the discernment program in the future,” Healy reported.
Asked to explain how proper reporting procedures were not followed, he said that according to his understanding the leadership of the order “should have informed our Bishop of the misconduct when it was first reported” in February or March.
Healy said he was not aware of any civil or canonical investigation into the case. He reported that the priests and the sisters have already left the campus.
“The order has not informed us of where they plan to go,” he told CNA.
Vatican City, Sep 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In advance of Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to the U.K., the head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity has acknowledged “difficulties” in Catholic-Anglican relations. However, he said the papal visit will “strongly affirm the close bonds” between the two church bodies. He pointed to Cardinal Newman as a guide.
Speaking in a Thursday statement, Archbishop Kurt Koch said that although the September 16-19 visit is the first state visit of a Pope to Great Britain, it recalls Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visit in 1982. Pope Benedict’s predecessor prayed with the Archbishop of Canterbury and issued a joint declaration inaugurating the second phase of official dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.
“Since that time, relations between Anglicans and Catholics have been characterised by growing warmth and friendship,” the archbishop commented. He noted that many local communities now share in prayer and practical initiatives and that there are “regular and successful meetings” between Catholic and Anglican bishops.
Catholic-Anglican relations possess a “realistic acknowledgment of difficulties,” he remarked.
“The tragic divisions of the Reformation will resonate particularly when the Pope is in Westminster Hall, where St. Thomas More was tried for his loyalty to the See of Rome,” Archbishop Koch predicted.
Disputes within the Anglican Communion have also created “difficulties,” which in part have been responsible for Pope Benedict’s offer of the Anglican Ordinariate. In the archbishop’s view, these issues must be seen “in the broader context of the common witness of Roman Catholics and Anglicans.”
This witness will be “most profoundly symbolized” when Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury meet at Lambeth Palace and then kneel together in prayer in Westminster Abbey before the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor.
According to the archbishop, the beatification of Cardinal Newman is a “positive moment” for ecumenical relations. While Cardinal Newman converted to “the fullness of faith” in the Catholic Church, he was always grateful to the Church of England as the instrument of God’s providence in his life. Newman also acknowledged the “profound” influence of Anglican theologians and clergymen.
The pontifical council president cited as “wholly relevant” the close of Cardinal Newman’s “Apologia Pro Vita Sua” in which he said that Catholics in England must have the attitude of “assisting and sustaining” the Church of England and must work together to preach Christian principles and doctrines.
Cardinal Newman was guided by “the unchanging witness of the Church” and not subject to “fashion or convenience.”
“His example encourages Christians of all traditions to be involved today with courage, integrity and faithfulness to the Gospel in building a society that welcomes, nourishes and promotes all its members ... Cardinal Newman represents the great tradition of faith, intellectual rigour, and imagination that are the inheritance of all the British people,” Archbishop Koch concluded, expressing hope that the deeper aspects of the papal visit will not be obscured in coverage of the visit.
Louisville, Ky., Sep 11, 2010 (CNA) - The Holy Father along with four local bishops asked the state of Kentucky to reconsider the planned execution of an inmate, given evidence that the condemned man may be mentally disabled.
According to the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, Pope Benedict XVI and four Kentucky bishops asked Gov. Steve Beshear on Thursday to halt the death sentence of 53-year-old Gregory L. Wilson who is set to be executed Sept. 16.
Wilson was sentenced to death 22 years ago for kidnapping, raping and murdering 36-year-old Deborah Pooley in 1987. A co-defendant in the case, Brenda Humphrey, is serving life in prison.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville gave Gov. Beshear a letter on Sept. 9 written for the Pope by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the papal nuncio to the United States.
“I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty,” the Pope said in the letter, “which is both cruel and unnecessary.”
The Kentucky Catholic Conference also issued a statement on Sept. 2 condemning the planned execution. The conference cited mental disabilities as one of the substantial reasons for requesting clemency for Wilson.
“These school records show that at the age of 14 while in the seventh grade, Mr. Wilson’s IQ score was 62,” the statement said. “This information is most critical because the pertinent controlling statute (KRS 532.130) specifically indicates that the required, relevant IQ evidence must have been measured in the individual’s formative stage of development, prior to age 18.”
The statement also noted that person’s IQ must be below 70 to be considered mentally disabled and that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that executing the mentally ill is unconstitutional.
Questions have also been raised as to whether or not Wilson has received proper representation in court. According to the archdiocese, Wilson's lawyer, a reported alcoholic, had his office located in an bar and had repeatedly failed to show up to court dates. Wilson was also denied effective legal counsel during the 1988 Kenton County trial.
Also of concern is Kentucky’s system of execution and the state's availability of lethal drugs. Kentucky currently uses three drugs during a lethal injection including one to put the patient to sleep, another to paralyze the muscles and a third to stop the heart.
The archdiocese reported that the state only has enough of the sleep drug to execute one person before it soon expires. Wilson has been on death row the longest.
The Louisville archdiocese also reported that the American Bar Association is continuing its review of the capital punishment system in Kentucky, and the Catholic conference, among others, have asked Gov. Beshear to declare a moratorium on executions until the review is finished.
Faisalabad, Pakistan, Sep 11, 2010 (CNA) - Christians in Pakistan were relieved to hear that a Florida pastor has canceled his plans to burn a Quran. Such an incident could have major consequences for Christians in the predominantly Muslim country, a Catholic bishop has explained.
In an interview with ACN News, Bishop of Faisalabad Joseph Coutts reacted to reports that the pastor of a small Florida Protestant church canceled the Quran burning.
“It is a relief to hear what has now happened,” he said after learning of the decision not to burn the book. “We need to remember the difference between talking about burning the Quran and actually carrying it out.”
He said the burning of the Quran would light a match, “potentially causing a lot of damage.”
“If he were to burn the Quran, we would have to pay the price,” he added, warning it would have severe consequences for local Christians.
“Muslims have huge respect for the Quran and there is always the risk that the emotional reaction of people here would be to hit out at the nearest Christian,” he told ACN News.
Because of concerns about possible retribution, the bishop held a series of meetings late into the night with police chiefs and Muslim leaders to stave off the threat of possible anti-Christian violence.
He also met with Christian leaders of Faisalabad. He reported that they agreed to reach out to disgruntled Muslims by advancing plans to greet Islamic leaders and to mark the Islamic festival of Eid with banners and gifts.
Bishop Coutts noted widespread anti-U.S. feeling in Pakistan. He compared the planned burning to a Protestant walking into a Catholic church at the height of conflict in Northern Ireland and desecrating the Blessed Sacrament.
His concerns have been heightened by increased Muslim sensitivity and religiosity coinciding with the beginning of Eid, ACN News reports.
There was widespread outrage in the region in 2005 and 2006 over the media controversy about cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed. In February 2006 arsonists attacked a number of churches. St. Mary’s Catholic Church in the city of Sukkur was reduced to a blackened shell.
Salt Lake City, Utah, Sep 11, 2010 (CNA) - People of all abilities attended the “Catholics Can” Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeline Sept. 4. Wheelchairs lined both sides of the center aisle of the cathedral for the Mass sponsored by the commission for People with Disabilities.
Carol Ruddell, a member of the commission, used sign language and Cecilee Wilson, a closed caption stenographer, typed the words of the Mass on a screen for the hearing impaired.
The Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of Salt Lake City, celebrated the Mass with the assistance of Monsignor Joseph Mayo, pastor of the Cathedral of the Madeleine; Father Eleazar Silva, associate pastor of the Cathedral; and Deacon Lynn Johnson. The bishop said the Mass was called “Catholics Can” because he and the commission wanted to honor all the achievements of so many who have accomplished so much and who have met very serious challenges in their lives. “These people have succeeded in facing those challenges and have been such wonderful members of our community,” said Bishop Wester in his welcome.
In his homily, the prelate said Jesus speaks to us in our sufferings and our challenges. “Our focus is not on the challenge, our focus is on your success, on all that you’ve accomplished, about the kind of human beings you are because of the way you have grown through your suffering and through your challenges,” he said. “That’s why we are calling the Mass Catholics Can. We want to celebrate with you and we want to share your victory and your joy that you’ve accomplished much.”
Bishop Wester also said in his homily that accomplishments are measured in different ways. He said how much money we make or where we live mean absolutely nothing; what counts is love. “When we meet our maker, we will be judged on how well we loved because God is love,” he said. “The one who abides in love abides in God.”
“When the bishop requested that we call this Mass Catholics Can, that is what was so valuable to me,” said Kathryn Larson, a member of the commission. “We all have a disability of some kind. It was great to celebrate the gifts of all people. I believe we all have gifts and God gave us these gifts to share. Because you are disabled is nothing to mourn, it’s to be joyful that you have a gift to share yourself or that you can open doors for others to share with you.”
Larson, a member of Saint Helen Parish in Roosevelt, is involved in religious education. At St. Helen, the teachers are encouraging the message that we are all the children of God and God is love, not hate, anger, bitterness or resentment. Larson teaches the confirmation class at her parish; her assistant is a man with mental health issues. “He is a very nice young man, and he needs to feel valued the same as anyone else does,” said Larson. “It also teaches the students that we all have gifts.”
The Student Ambassadors from Juan Diego Catholic High School served as ushers for the Mass. They were impressed and amazed to see how many people came to support the disabilities Mass.
“It’s nice that the Catholic Church recognizes people with disabilities and helps them with their struggles and gives faith and hope to their caretakers because that can be a time-consuming job,” said Juan Diego junior Bridget McNulty.
“It was great to see how much these people have accomplished despite all the challenges they have had to overcome,” said Elizabeth Caldwell, a junior at Juan Diego.
Printed with permission from Intermountain Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Salt Lake City.