Orange County, Calif., Sep 27, 2010 (CNA) - The Diocese of Orange County recently announced its third annual wave blessing ceremony, intended to invoke gratitude for the natural beauty of the coastline as well as draw awareness to the “significant threat” of pollution and toxic waste to the area.
An announcement on the diocesan website said the “Blessing of the Waves” will be held on Sunday, Oct. 3, at the iconic Huntington Beach Pier in southern California. The event – which drew more than 1,000 participants last year – will feature “an opening prayer service, pledge to protect of our oceans and beaches, blessing of waves and attendees, acknowledgment of marine safety representatives, and close with surfing priests and other religious leaders,” said the diocese. “Tongan and Samoan choirs will perform traditional ocean songs, giving thanks to God for our ocean environment.”
“In Orange County our beaches are more than simple geography; they are a cultural and spiritual center of our community,” said Bishop Tod Brown.“It is important that we recognize this common element in all our lives, regardless of faith tradition. Pope Benedict XVI and other spiritual leaders have called on all people to commit to the protection of the gifts of nature and preserve them for future generations.”
According to the diocese, California’s coastal region “is under significant threat due to pollution and global climate change,” adding that California “will lose an estimated 41 square miles of coastline due to erosion by 2100.” The diocese also noted that beach water quality “is already dangerous to the health of swimmers and others – between April 2009 and March 2010, more than 100 beaches in California were closed because of the presence of toxic waste and other hazards.”
“It is fitting that this blessing will be held on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology,” added Franciscan Fr. Christian Mondor, vicar emeritus of Sts. Simon and Jude parish in Huntington Beach. “Our coastline and its diverse ecosystem are under constant strain and increased environmental pressures.”
“This event seeks to remind our community that protecting the environment is central to believers in a loving Creator,” he underscored. “I am excited to join with members of our diverse faith community here in Huntington Beach to bless waves, those who ride on them, and the lifeguards who protect ocean goers.”
Rome, Italy, Sep 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI encouraged military chaplains to promote holiness in the military in the midst today's challenges.
Writing on behalf of the Holy Father, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone sent a note in support of the military chaplains of Italy, gathered this week in Assisi for meetings.
According to the Italian bishops' SIR news, the cardinal wrote that Pope Benedict hopes that the work of the chaplains in the military will bring about a "renewed adhesion to Christ," setting the bar of "holiness as the high measure of Christian life in response to the new pastoral challenges."
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the new prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, also sent a greeting, reminding them that the effectiveness of the service to the Church comes from one's "personal and communitarian conversion," that of putting Christ at the center of one's life.
Interviewed by SIR as the meetings began, Military Ordinary Archbishop Vincenzo Pelvi asserted that prayer is "the first service" chaplains can offer to the military family.
"Pastoral care," he added, "should never be a simple strategy, an administrative job, but (should) always remain a spiritual commitment."
The chaplains' conference is being held until Sept. 30 with the theme "Gospel announcement and prayer."
Washington D.C., Sep 27, 2010 (CNA) - Congressman Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-La.), a self-described “proud co-sponsor” of a bill ending a policy against open homosexuals in the military, has received an award from the Log Cabin Republicans. He told the group that his Catholic faith and Jesuit background helped drive his support to change the ban.
The stance of Rep. Cao, who has previously cited his faith as a justification for other political positions, contradicts that of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese for Military Services who has opposed changes to the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy.
Last Wednesday the Log Cabin Republicans held their 2010 National Dinner in Washington, D.C. at the Capitol Hill Club. The group gave the “Spirit of Lincoln” Award to Rep. Cao, three other congressmen and a British MP. The award recognizes “leaders and allies who have been steadfast supporters of the fight for equal rights.”
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), was also honored by the group for a separate award. He did not attend the meeting, citing a last-minute scheduling conflict, but taped a video message for the event.
In Rep. Cao’s acceptance speech, provided to CNA by the congressman’s office, he said that the DADT policy is “a tool for the military to weed gays out.” He protested the expulsion of more than 14,000 servicemen under the policy, saying military rules should not include “a built-in discriminatory bias based on sexual orientation.”
Senators opposed to the change were a “minority” engaged in “obstructionist tactics,” Cao contended, charging that they disregard “equality and justice for all.”
Invoking the civil rights movement, the congressman said there is “something universal” in the stories of those who suffer discrimination.
“Deep within the human spirit is a God-given hunger for fairness, goodness and truth, just as there is natural human repulsion for wrong, injustice and evil,” he commented, claiming that the “struggle” of homosexual servicemen makes the United States a better country for everyone.
Rep. Cao also noted his own past, saying it gives him “common ground” with those outside the mainstream. He spent the first years of his life in wartime Vietnam, where his father was tortured by North Vietnamese Communists.
“As the first and only Vietnamese-American serving in Congress, I have a keen understanding of what it’s like to be a minority,” he continued, noting his past as a Jesuit seminarian who did missionary work in Mexico and Asia.
“During my time in Congress, I have made the cause of human rights a high-priority item on my legislative agenda. And still-driven by my Catholic faith and Jesuit background, I have been especially concerned for those whose voice is sometimes drowned out by the volume of political noise on Capitol Hill. Those include members of the Gay and Lesbian community,” the congressman told the Log Cabin Republicans.
Rep. Cao noted that he was one of only two GOP congressmen to co-sponsor changes to DADT. He also noted his co-sponsorship of the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, his support for AIDS funding, and his opposition to anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda.
Professing a belief that all are created equal, he said he had “great faith” that “truth and justice will prevail” and so is not worried about the Senate filibuster against DADT changes.
“The obstructionists will only be able to hold out for so long, and it is up to us who stand against discrimination to usher in a better way at the first opportunity,” the congressman’s remarks concluded.
In a June 1 statement, Archbishop Thomas Broglio of the Catholic Archdiocese for Military Services opposed changes to DADT. He voiced concerns that changing the policy could affect Catholic chaplains and other servicemen. Noting the need for strong rules against immoral activity, he said moral beliefs should not be sacrificed for “merely political considerations.”
A poll commissioned by The Military Culture Coalition (MCC) found that 37 percent of likely voters favor imposing career penalties on servicemen who oppose homosexuality, including chaplains, if the DADT policy is eliminated. These respondents say the military should try to change personal attitudes on the issue.
Rep. Cao was the only Republican to vote in favor of the first version of the House health care bill in 2009, which included the strong Stupak Amendment restrictions on abortion. He said his decision was affected by attending Mass and praying before the vote.
CNA sought further comment from Rep. Cao’s office. However, in a Monday e-mail Cao’s communications director Taylor Henry said the congressman was traveling and not available to respond.
The Log Cabin Republicans are participants in a federal lawsuit challenging the DADT policy. According to their website, the group also supports same-sex “marriage” and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
In the past the group has been financed by the multi-millionaire homosexual activist Tim Gill of Colorado, a Democrat who typically backs Democratic-leaning causes.
Santiago, Chile, Sep 27, 2010 (CNA) - The organization Accion Familia in Chile has launched a protest over the government’s sponsorship of the “Lesbian/Gay/Transgender Film Festival” that will screen movies promoting homosexuality during the month of October.
Accion Familia denounced the film festival that will screen movies at well known cultural centers, libraries and universities in Chile's capital of Santiago October 1—November 21. “According to information released by the government’s Council on Culture and the homosexual lobby, the short films that will be screened during this festival ‘will address homosexuality and transexuality in childhood and adolescence, … first loves, blind dates, activism and sexual diversity in schools,” the organization said.
It also warned that the festival includes films that are intended to encourage young people “to accept such conduct.” Among the places where the festival is being held is the cultural center “Palacio La Moneda,” where schools often bring students on cultural field trips.
Washington D.C., Sep 27, 2010 (CNA) - As part of a worldwide tour, relics of St. John Bosco will be hosted by Washington, D.C.'s National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in order to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the patron saint of youth and students.
A portion of Don Bosco’s right arm bone is encased in a 1,800 pound reliquary and is currently undergoing the North American tour which began Sept. 11 in San Francisco and will end Oct. 7 in Montreal, Canada. The saint's relics will eventually make their way to 130 countries by his 200th birthday in 2015.
The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will host the reliquary on Tuesday, Sept. 28.
Auxiliary Bishop Martin Holley of Washington is slated to welcome the relics in the morning at the Basilica’s Great Upper Church and lead an opening prayer service that will begin a day of veneration. That evening, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl will be the principal celebrant and homilist of a commemorative Mass.
In a press release for the event, the shrine reported that Pope Benedict XVI granted a plenary indulgence to those who make a pilgrimage to see and pray before the relic of St. John Bosco, in accordance with the usual conditions of partaking in Confession, the Eucharist and prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions.
Vatican City, Sep 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Legion of Christ bishop is among the four counselors Pope Benedict XVI will likely choose to assist his official delegate in reorganizing the order's constitutions. Accompanying these much-awaited nominations could also be the appointment of a familiar name to carry out the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion's lay movement, Regnum Christi.
According to Vatican sources, the nominations will be made in the coming days.
Three out of the four counselors thought to be probable picks for work within the Legion under the direction of pontifical delegate Archbishop Velasio De Paolis are members of religious communities. In addition to the diocesan Msgr. Mario Marchesi, Jesuit Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, Legion Bishop Brian Farrell and Josephine Father of Murialdo, Fr. Agostino Montan, may all be tapped for duty under the leadership of the president of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
Msgr. Marchesi is currently the vicar general for the Italian Diocese of Cremona, but in the past has worked in the Vatican as undersecretary at the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and director of the law office of the Italian Bishops' Conference.
Fr. Ghirlanda only recently stepped down from his post as rector of the Jesuit's Pontifical Gregorian University, where he has served for the last six years. A doctor of Canon Law, he taught for 30 years before being promoted to the head of the university.
Included on the long list of Vatican councils and congregations for which he has served as consultor in the past 23 years is the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Fr. Ghirlanda was also appointed as an expert to the 9th Ordinary Assembly on the Consecrated Life in 1994 and his writings on a number of Catholic themes have been widely published.
Bishop Farrell is the Dublin-born secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II himself in 2003.
Fr. Agostino Montan is the ordinary of Canon Law in the Faculty of Theology at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University. He is also the coordinator of advanced studies in Ecclesiology at the same instiution and is in charge of the organization that coordinates Italy's theological associations.
These counselors would assist Archbishop De Paolis in carrying out his primary task of conducting the revision of the Legion of Christ's constitutions. In a June 16, 2010 letter appointing the archbishop as his delegate, Pope Benedict told him that he has "the power to intervene wherever he sees fit, including in the internal government of the Institute, on all levels” and will be with the Legion until "its path of renewal" is completed.
According to that same letter, the four counselors will help him to identify, discuss and clarify the principal issues within the order. If the archbishop sees it necessary, they may also be complemented by committees to study certain matters formed either of Legion personnel or of competent external persons.
At the conclusion of the visitation of the Legion of Christ, the Holy Father promised that Regnum Christi would also be the subject of an Apostolic Visitation. Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez of the Archdiocese of Valladolid, Spain is thought to be the top choice for the task.
Having also served as one of the five visitors that carried out the Apostolic Visitation of the Legion which concluded with meetings in Rome last May, Archbishop Blazquez would bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to this visitation.
In the May 1 communique that announced the conclusions of the final meetings of Apostolic Visitors to the Legion, a visitor was promised for the "consecrated members of the 'Regnum Christi' Movement, who," it was written, "have insistently requested this."
Bogotá, Colombia, Sep 27, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Ruben Salazar of Bogota stressed last week that if the root causes of teen pregnancy are not addressed, the problem will never be solved.
“The truth is that if the root causes are not attacked, we will never prevent teen pregnancies from happening, no matter how many contraceptives are distributed,” the archbishop said.
The archbishop warned that sex-ed programs must not be focused on promoting contraception. “As long as there is no authentic education on the relationship between sex and love, on the meaning of marriage and the family, and while children are not taught values that encourage responsible sexuality, we will always have this problem,” he added.
For his part, the secretary of the Colombian bishops, Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba, rejected proposals by one local official to provide teenage girls with contraceptive implantations in order to prevent pregnancies.
“We are creating one problem to solve another,” he said. “Our teenage girls are not animals, like cows that we sterilize on a farm. They are human beings with dignity. We are turning them into objects by putting a device in them so they can’t be mothers. I agree that a girl of that age should not become a mother but that is not the way to do it,” the bishop said.
Vienna, Austria, Sep 27, 2010 (CNA) - Though qualifying that full unity is still in the distant future, leaders from Catholic and Orthodox churches recently indicated that progress is underway in the reunification efforts of the two faith communities.
Reuters reported on Sept. 24 that church heads meeting this week in Vienna concurred that the two traditions – which have been separated since the Great Schism of 1054 – could eventually become “sister churches” that recognize the Holy Father as head but maintain their individual liturgies, customs and church structures.
Leaders from the International Commission for Catholic-Orthodox Dialogue, a group comprised of around 30 theologians who meet annually, gave comments to reporters in Vienna last Friday, noting the positive advances both churches have made towards full communion.
Archbishop Kurt Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said in a news conference last week the the two churches “will be able to enrich each other,” adding that the “basic principle of ecumenism is the exchange of gifts.”
“The first step is to tell each other individually how we imagine unity would look like. For the Catholic Church, of course, unity without the Bishop of Rome is unimaginable,” he underscored. “That’s because the issue of the Bishop of Rome is not just an organizational question, but also a theological one. The dialogue about just how this unity should be shaped must be continued intensively. Unity means that we see each other fully as sister churches.”
Archbishop Koch added that he thinks Pope Benedict is “thinking in this direction.”
“He’s said to the Anglicans who want to come back that they would be able to keep their tradition and celebrate their liturgy. So he’s said himself that there should be diversity. That will be the second step. It’s far too early ask each other how we can do this together.”
“There are no clouds of mistrust between our two churches,” Orthodox Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon stressed. “If we continue like that, God will find a way to overcome all the difficulties that remain.”
Significant progress has been made in recent years towards reunification as as evidenced by 2007's meeting in Ravenna, Italy, where both churches recognized the Bishop of Rome as the most senior bishop. Positive dialogue was also achieved in last year's meeting in Cyprus.
Vatican City, Sep 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Nearing the end of his summer stay at Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father met with local authorities on Monday. Saying farewell to delegates from local institutions, he thanked them for their support, calling them to increased cooperation in the patronage of St. Vincent de Paul.
Pope Benedict XVI announced his plans to return to Rome during last Sunday's Angelus, saying that he would be back at the Vatican on Sept. 30 and saluting locals with a "cordial 'arrivederci'." He met with delegations from Castel Gandolfo's city hall, civil and military authorities, religious communities and staff at the apostolic villa to say a more formal "goodbye" on Monday.
Benedict XVI took the opportunity given by the audience to thank each of these delegations individually as well as the local Church for their work throughout the summer season, especially in providing for him and the many pilgrims that came.
In taking leave, he spoke of the figure of St. Vincent de Paul, whose memory is celebrated in the Church on Monday. Remembering that this "apostle of charity" was declared the universal Patron of Charitable Endeavors by Pope Leo XIII, he said that "(w)ith his incessant apostolic activity, he made the Gospel become ever more a brilliant lighthouse of hope and love for the men of his time, and in particular for the poorest in body and spirit.
"His virtuous example and his intercession raise in our communities and in each of you a renewed commitment to solidarity, so that the efforts of each might cooperate in the edification of the common good."
The Holy Father left the Vatican for the pontifical villa at Castel Gandolfo nearly three months ago, after the general audience on July 7. Since then, he has returned periodically for the Wednesday audiences and even made two trips, one within Italy to Carpineto Romano and the other to the U.K. On Thursday, he will return again to the Vatican to his apostolic palace residence within the Vatican walls.
CNA STAFF, Sep 27, 2010 (CNA) - Today Catholic News Agency (CNA) begins its weekly series of excerpts from acclaimed Catholic author Louie Verrecchio's new book, “And with Your Spirit: Recovering a sense of the sacred in the English translation of the Roman Missal.”
The 10 part series titled, “Preparing the way for the Roman Missal - 3rd Edition,” describes and explains important differences between the existing and new translations of the Catholic Church's liturgy. The new translation will become normative at the start of Advent in 2011.
The book represents Verrecchio's response to the exhortations of Pope Benedict XVI, who said last April that the new English translation of the Roman Missal will serve as a “springboard for a renewal and deepening of Eucharistic devotion,” provided that the clergy and faithful in the English-speaking world “firmly grasp the opportunity for catechesis that this time of preparation presents.”
"The forthcoming new translation is truly a great blessing for the Church, but the Holy Father was absolutely right when he cautioned that many will find the changes difficult to embrace," Verrecchio said. "Adding to the challenge is the fact that some detractors of the sacred language to come are actively stirring up opposition to the new text, and not surprisingly, misinformation is rather commonplace."
"That's why it's so important for all Catholics to discover the deeper meaning of the new prayers and responses - not for ourselves alone - but so we can 'offer a defense for the hope that is within us' just as St. Peter encouraged," he continued.
Topics discussed in the series include the origin of the current Roman Missal as a response to the reforms proposed at Vatican II, the essence of liturgy and the role of language in conveying its meaning, the true nature of “active participation” by the laity, and notable changes of language to features such as the Nicene creed, penitential rite, and the liturgy of the Eucharist.
"I think readers will be very excited once they come to see the new text for what it truly is; an effort to elevate the hearts and minds of the faithful into the realm of sacred mystery," Verrecchio said. "The discoveries that readers will make in this series will enhance their sense of the sacred at Holy Mass, not just when the new text comes into use next year, but immediately."
Louie Verrecchio has been a columnist for CNA since April 2009. In addition to the new work, “And with Your Spirit,” he has produced a series of instructional materials on the Second Vatican Council entitled “Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II,” as well as the book “Ten Things Every Catholic Should Know About Vatican II.”
A frequent guest on the Relevant Radio and Ave Maria Radio Networks, he recently appeared on the popular EWTN program “The Choices We Face” with Ralph Martin. Verrecchio’s work has received the endorsement of Cardinal George Pell of Australia, Bishop Emeritus Patrick O’Donoghue of England, Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA, and other clergy and theologians.
Louie's first column can be read here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/column.php?n=1350
For more information, or reprint permission, please contact: [email protected].
Rome, Italy, Sep 27, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has "surprised all of us" in the first five years of his pontificate, according to his personal secretary. The Holy Father, he said, is full of the same "vitality" of his John Paul II as he fulfills his "sacred duty" of laying down "tracks" throughout the world that lead to faith.
Personal secretary to Pope Benedict XVI, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, received a Capri San Michele Award over the weekend for a book he released earlier this year that illustrates the travels of the Pope in his first five years.
L'Osservatore Romano printed his words under the title "The Pope of surprises."
Msgr. Gänswein first highlighted the beauty of unity in diversity of the different Popes, that "each responds with his own personality and with his own unrepeatable sensitivity" to the call to the See of Peter. Calling the phenomenon "a miracle of newness in continuity," he listed the names of several Popes from the last century, saying that none has been the same as another, yet "all have loved Christ passionately and faithfully served their Church."
But, the Pope's secretary continued, the "truly singular and edifying fact" of this pontificate is that Pope Benedict XVI is the "first devotee" to his predecessor, John Paul II. This, he said, "is an act of great humility, that astonishes and provokes moved admiration."
That the Holy Father reveres Venerable John Paul II in such a way is a "stupendous lesson in pastoral style," said the monsignor, that "whoever begins an ecclesial service ... must not erase the tracks of he who worked previously, but must put his own feet humbly in (his predecessor's) footsteps ..."
If this were always the case, he observed, much Christian heritage that is otherwise destroyed would be saved.
Taking stock, then, of the first five years of the Benedict XVI's pontificate, Msgr. Gänswein said that the Holy Father "has surprised all of us." As a man who "speaks of God," rather than a Pope of "grand images," he said, the Holy Father assumed the role of his predecessor with ease, interpreting it "in a new way and still equally full of vitality."
He has surprised also with his warmth and spontaneous and true simplicity, his courage in not being afraid to engage the difficult themes of today or enter debates, Msgr. Gänswein recalled. "He calls the insufficiencies and errors of the West by name, criticizes that violence that attempts to find a religious justification," while also combating relativism and hedonism and promoting the relationship of faith and reason and between religion and the renouncement of violence," said the monsignor.
Noting the Pope's goal of the "reevangelization" of Europe, he explained that at the base of the Holy Father's words is always the message that God loves man, proved in Jesus' death and resurrection.
All told, commented the monsignor, as the Pope walks the streets of the world and proclaiming God made flesh, he "does not put himself at the center, he doesn't announce himself but Jesus Christ, the only redeemer of the world."
His message is that "(w)hoever lives in peace with God, whoever lets himself be reconciled with Him, finds also peace with himself, with his neighbor and the creation that surrounds him. Faith helps (a person) to live, faith gives joy, faith is a great gift: this is the deepest conviction of Pope Benedict," concluded Msgr. Gänswein.
"For him," he said, "it is a sacred duty to leave tracks that lead to this gift."