Vatican City, Sep 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Greeting the faithful in a variety of tongues during today’s general audience, the Holy Father addressed matters from world crises to a recently beatified teenager. He also emphasized the day's celebration of the archangels, inviting the faithful to turn to the spiritual beings for assistance.
The Pope addressed the faithful in a total of 13 individual languages during the occasion in St. Peter's Square. In six of these languages, he provided a catechesis on St. Matilda, while in the other seven he provided a short greeting and assured the faithful of his prayers.
In French, the Holy Father said that he was happy to welcome a group of Haitian pilgrims to Rome and told them that he "continues to carry the Haitian people in his prayers, asking God to relieve their misery." He expressed hope that the more than 50 Haitians in attendance would lead the country’s citizens to a greater personal relationship with Christ.
Turning to the humanitarian crisis caused by flooding in northern Nigeria, the Holy Father assured all of those affected, including the approximately two million who have fled their homes, of his spiritual closeness and prayers.
Of Czech Catholic attendees, he asked that they remain "ever faithful to the spiritual inheritance" of their patron and historical "giant" St. Wenceslaus, whose feast day was celebrated on Tuesday.
Turning to Slovakians, he said that the Marian month of October will soon be here and encouraged the faithful to follow her example to be "always ready to fulfill the will of God".
Rounding out the variety of addresses, he spoke in Italian, greeting participants in a Focolare Movement pilgrimage for last Saturday's beatification of Blessed Chiara "Luce" Badano. He invited them to follow in the young blessed's example, to continue her "commitment of adhesion to Christ and of evangelical witness."
Blessed Chiara's parents were able to greet the Pope personally after the audience.
Concluding in the same language, he greeted all young people, sick and newlyweds, recognizing Wednesday's celebration of the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael and the coming celebration of that for Guardian Angels.
These angels, he said, "push us to think of the provident attention with which God occupies himself of every human person.
"Feel beside you, dear young people, the presence of the Angels and let yourself be guided by them, so that all your lives might be illuminated by the Word of God. You, dear sick, helped by your Guardian Angels, unite your sufferings to those of Christ for the spiritual renewal of human society.
"And you, dear newlyweds," he said in conclusion, "turn often to the help of your Guardian Angels, so that you might grow in constant witness to an authentic love."
Rome, Italy, Sep 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Medieval nun and saint, Matilda of Hackeborn is still a model of devotion to the Sacred Heart for people today, said the Pope at this week's general audience. Her exemplary fidelity to the Church and union to Christ, he taught, continues to be "a strong invitation to intensify our friendship with the Lord."
The Holy Father hosted 9,000 pilgrims and faithful in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday for the general audience. Among those present on the clear autumn morning were representatives from the "In the footsteps of St. Francis" pilgrimage group from the Archdiocese of Seattle and new students and staff from the Pontifical Irish and Venerable English Colleges.
During the catechesis, Pope Benedict XVI focused on the figure of Cistercian nun St. Matilda of Hackeborn, the 13th-century Germanic saint. Recalling the intense spiritual and intellectual atmosphere in which she was formed at the convent of Helfta in Saxony, he said that this environment, coupled with the gift of divine illumination, led her to write prayers and offer advice and consolation to many.
He remembered her humility, simplicity, purity, intelligence and the intense way she lived her spiritual life, noting also that because of her natural gift for singing, she had the nickname of "God's nightingale."
Respected for these gifts, she became the director of the her convent's novices, choir and school and was a spiritual guide to the likes of St. Gertrude the Great, who Pope Benedict noted also as an important figure of Germanic monasticism.
Concluding her biography, the Pope said that St. Matilda's life of personal and liturgical prayer, guided by Sacred Scripture, nourished by the Holy Eucharist and supported by the liturgy of the hours, led her to live "every moment of her monastic life in full fidelity to the Church."
Her intense spirituality guided her to an intimate union with Christ, he noted, which is "also for us a strong invitation to intensify our friendship with the Lord, especially towards daily prayer and attentive, faithful and active participation in the Holy Mass.
"The Liturgy," he said, "is a great school of spirituality."
Noting also St. Matilda's devotion to the Sacred Heart, Pope Benedict prayed that all people might "grow in that devotion, through the power of her intercession."
Fargo, N.D., Sep 29, 2010 (CNA) - In time for the upcoming Respect Life Month of October, Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota presided over an annual Mass and led a procession over 700 people to a local abortion clinic last Sunday, encountering oppositional protestors for the first time.
The Diocese of Fargo estimated that on Sunday, 700 to 800 people from St. Mary’s Cathedral processed to the local Red River Women’s Clinic, North Dakota’s only abortion facility in downtown Fargo. Director of Communications for the diocese Tanya R. Watterud told CNA that Bishop Aquila led the procession several blocks, carrying a monstrance with Blessed Sacrament and also sprinkling the clinic with holy water amidst pro-abortion demonstrators.
During his homily at the Mass preceding the procession, Bishop Aquila stated that the purpose of the event was “to give witness to the gift of life and particularly the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death.”
“Even reason and science would point to the truth that life begins at the moment of conception,” he noted. “For those who are unbelievers, they can come to know the truth of the dignity of human life through both reason and science.”
“We must also, when speaking of abortion, speak the truth about it,” and refrain from using terms such as “interruption of pregnancy” or “only a mass of cells.”
“Every time a child is aborted it is murder and it is important for us to call it by its proper name.” Individuals, he added, should not use the “politically correct language” of the media but “speak the truth and to speak it clearly.”
He then encouraged those present to pray for the gift of fortitude “to be those people who constantly remind our society and remind others that life is a gift…that every human being created is created in the image and likeness of God from the moment of conception…that every human being has the right to life.”
The bishop also explained that the holy water that would be used to sprinkle the facility showed “prayers for purification…in terms of reparation for what happens there because, ultimately, it is the murder of unborn that takes place there.”
Watterud told CNA that later at the procession following the sprinkling, Bishop Aquila again took the monstrance into his hands and continued back to the Cathedral, while parishioners in attendance prayed the Rosary while walking.
San Francisco, Calif., Sep 29, 2010 (CNA) - More than 25 friend-of-court briefs showing “wide-ranging concerns” about marriage and other issues have been filed in support of Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure which defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman. Among the briefs is one by 13 state attorneys general.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case is defended by the ProtectMarriage.com legal team, which includes attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a Monday ADF press release says.
The ADF contended that the briefs demonstrate “the breadth of support for marriage, the amendment, and the state’s initiative process currently under attack” in litigation surrounding the federal lawsuit Perry v. Schwarzenegger.
One joint brief defending Prop. 8 came from attorneys general from the states of Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Another brief represented religious liberty concerns by religious groups including Korean churches in California and Catholics, Protestants, and Latter Day Saints nationwide.
Other briefs had support from the American College of Pediatricians, Concerned Women for America, American Civil Rights Union, Eagle Forum, Catholics for the Common Good, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Family Research Council, and family policy councils from 29 states
While the case would directly affect the 61 million Americans under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, ADF senior council Brian Raum said what is at stake is “bigger than California and bigger even than marriage.”
“These briefs demonstrate the wide-ranging concerns about marriage, voter rights, judicial activism, religious liberty, and other issues and how they will be affected nationwide if this lawsuit is allowed to prevail,” he commented. “A diverse number of Americans understand that this lawsuit seeks to impose -- through a San Francisco court -- an agenda that America has repeatedly rejected.”
Oral arguments in the case will be held the week of Dec. 6.
Valetta, Malta, Sep 29, 2010 (CNA) - After recovering from trauma surgery due to a serious car accident in California on Aug. 25, U.S. Ambassador to Malta Douglas Kmiec returned to Malta on Monday evening.
The single-car crash took place in the coastal canyons of southern California, Malta Media News reports.
Kmiec was traveling with retired pastor Msgr. John Sheridan, 94, and Sr. Mary Campbell, 74. Sr.Campbell died at the scene while Msgr. Sheridan died Sept. 17 from heart failure.
Kmiec returned to Malta to resume his duties. He thanked all Maltese for their kind words and prayers.
While under the care of medical experts, he said, he was also “emotionally and spiritually renewed by the compassion and prayers of the people of Malta who know well from their tradition of profound faith that, in this life, much lies beyond our understanding.”
He will require another surgery, Malta Media News says.
Rome, Italy, Sep 29, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Preparing for renewal in the Irish Catholic Church, the island's four archbishops have been invited to meet with the apostolic visitors appointed to their archdioceses. The visitation is meant to aid the local Church as it works to better respond to cases of sexual abuse.
According to a press release from the Irish bishops' media office, Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh Seán Brady, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dermot Clifford, and Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary will make the trip over to Rome next week for discussions led by the Congregation for Bishops.
They will be meeting with the four apostolic visitors designated by the Pope to carry out the visitation he promised in the pastoral Letter to Irish Catholic released last March. A statement dated May 31 later outlined the scope of the visitation and provided the names of the visitors.
The visitors and the respective archdioceses subject to their examination are Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor to Armagh, Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley to Dublin; Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins to Cashel and Emly and Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast to Tuam.
No mention was made in the statement of the apostolic visitations planned for Irish seminaries and religious houses.
According to the Irish bishops' spokesmen, the purpose of visitors' efforts is "to offer assistance and to contribute to the spiritual and moral renewal of the Church in Ireland. They explained that the visitation "will facilitate reflection, evaluation and review of Church life."
In the May 31 statement announcing the names of the visitors, the Holy See said it intended to offer assistance to Church officials and lay faithful "as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors.
"The Apostolic Visitors," it continued, "will set out to explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims; they will monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse, taking as their points of reference the Pontifical Motu Proprio 'Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela' and the norms contained in Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland ..."
Madrid, Spain, Sep 29, 2010 (CNA) -
The Bishops’ Conference of Spain has launched an official website for the Holy Father’s November visit to the country. The website, available in four languages, will provide complete complete coverage of the Pope’s activities in Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona.
The website www.visitadelpapa2010.org is available in Spanish, Italian, English and French and features the official schedule of events, biographical information on Benedict XVI and statistics on the Church in Spain.
The website will stream the Pope’s visit live and includes links to additional information about the sites the Holy Father will be visiting.
Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 29, 2010 (CNA) - Amidst the widespread damage caused by flooding in southern Mexico, Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello of Antequera-Oaxaca called on those affected to remain hopeful and urged all of Mexico to express solidarity with them.
The archbishop stressed the importance of not giving in to despair, uncertainty and powerlessness, and emphasized that those in need should not be taken advantage of by others. “Rather, let us open our hearts to the solidarity that the greatness of the human heart always manifests in these situations,” he added.
Archbishop Chavez Botello noted that while the immediate emergency needs can be met by the families, there are some needs that only the government can provide. The prelate noted that it is the government’s “grave duty to carry out their tasks and not improvise or leave communities and families to bear the entire weight of the consequences of natural disasters on their shoulders.”
He stressed that officials need to develop better contingency plans in order to minimize the loss of human life, the spread of disease and property damage that results from such disasters.
The Church “has been and always will be willing to provide support in keeping with subsidiarity and her mission in these emergencies,” the archbishop said. He called on priests and the faithful to express their concrete solidarity with those affected by floods and mudslides.
Denver, Colo., Sep 29, 2010 (CNA) - Commentator Mark Silk’s description of Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput as "pretty white" is being described as "astonishing" and in "bad form." The Denver prelate is a registered member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi tribe, America’s first Native American archbishop, and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Subcommittee on Native American Affairs.
In a blog posting on Beliefnet, Silk, a Harvard graduate and professor of religion in public life at Trinity College, criticized Archbishop Chaput's recent address to the Religion Newswriters Association held last week in Denver.
Archbishop Chaput delivered "a classic culture-war critique of the news media's coverage of religion: Journalism is composed of knowledge-class professionals who make secularist assumptions about American society that shows they are out of touch with real Americans. Coverage of Christianity in particular is negative, focused on stories about fundamentalism and decline and infighting and repression. This kind of thing was a lot more common back in the 1990s than it is today – but then, Chaput has never been known for being up to date," Silk wrote in his blog.
Chaput had based his "knowledge-class" comments on material released in 2003.
However, Silk’s line that drew attention was his criticism: "now, it's pretty white of Chaput to include 'many bishops' on his side of the comparison – would that other members of the hierarchy did the same."
Reacting to the controversial statement, several critics have responded in recent days.
"I know Denver's archbishop, Charles Chaput, reasonably well – well enough to expect that when he delivers a thoughtful address on how the media cover religion, he's going to provoke a strong response. Fair enough," said Bill McGurn, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, in a ricochet.net posting.
"Still, it was somewhat astonishing to read a Beliefnet commentator, Mark Silk, deploying the phrase 'it's pretty white of Chaput' in a column objecting to the archbishop's remarks. Not only because it's bad form, but also because the archbishop is part Native American ... "
"Then again, maybe you have to be a professor and have gone to Harvard to write this way," McGurn added.
The editor of First Things, Joseph Bottum also commented on the remarks: "Archbishop Chaput’s talk had a number of interesting elements: the excursion into George Orwell’s career, the embrace of freedom of the press while asserting freedom of religion, the analysis of secularism as a system of thought."
"But leave all that aside and think, for a moment, just about his description of knowledge professionals and the ways in which they are lured into a sense of perfect entitlement and superior correctness. One could hardly ask for a better example than the Beliefnet column mocking Chaput as lily-white. Or than a reporter from the New York Times thinking it entirely reasonable, in a public question-and-answer period, to demand an answer to why her phone calls weren’t returned," Bottum wrote.
Mollie Hemingway, a religion journalist and contributor to GetReligion.org reacted to Silk's column, writing: "What? What was that last line? Now, on a good day, in an intimate setting, that type of line is risky. But yikes – what was Silk thinking? The usually sarcastic saying – an unsubtle reference to white people engaging in atrocities against or oppression of non-whites, while claiming to do so in their benefit – is a biting insult with the power to offend all races."
"I can’t even imagine," Hemingway wrote, "what the media response would be if Chaput made such a scathing remark with racial connotations. I assume that Silk, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard and has spent his life in journalism and the academy, either didn’t think about what he was saying or didn’t realize how the remark is taken by others. Maybe he thought Chaput’s family heritage is what makes the insult work. I don’t know. But it’s really an odd way to disagree with someone who’s calling for civility and decency in media coverage. And it probably couldn’t better prove Chaput’s point that the media has trouble with self-criticism and respect of others."
Contacted by CNA for comment, Professor Silk clarified his post: "I'm sorry to say that while I was aware that the archbishop is a Native American, I wasn't thinking about that when I used the term – but rather punning on the 'whited supulchre' quotation from Matthew. The idea was in fact to acknowledge with the off-color (as it were) reference – as I did directly by referring to other bishops – that Chaput had said something honorable: no whited supulchre. But I apologize for what clearly can be seen as a racist slur. Mea culpa. And I'll append this apology to the post."
The apology has been added at Spiritual Politics, Silk's blog on religion and American political culture.
Vatican City, Sep 29, 2010 (CNA) -
Expecting to offer their appreciation to the Holy Father for the beatification of their daughter, the parents of Blessed Chiara "Luce" Badano were thanked instead by the Pontiff himself. They expressed their surprise to be chosen to participate in their daughter's "contagious Christian experience."
L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) reported on the encounter between the blessed's parents and Pope Benedict XVI which followed Wednesday's audience in St. Peter's Square.
Greeting the Pope after a line of prelates had done so, Maria Teresa and Ruggero Badano were visibly pleased to meet the Holy Father. They meant to thank Pope Benedict for their daughter's beatification last Saturday, but, reported LOR, it was the Holy Father who thanked them.
The parents remarked that they were "surprised that two poor people like ourselves were chosen to participate in the contagious Christian experience of our only daughter."
Recalling the years they waited hopefully before their baby was born and then remembering their suffering during her illness and death, they said, "now we are more than ever with her in the joy for her beatification."
During the brief audience in the square, they gave the Pope a card signed by Chiara in which she entrust herself to the Virgin Mary to have "the strength necessary to never give in."
After a bout with bone cancer, the blessed died in 1990 at the age of 18, but is remembered for her constant joy and close relationship with Christ. She was beatified by Archbishop Angelo Amato last Saturday in a celebration at Rome's Divine Love shrine.
Among others present who had also attended her beatification included: fellow Focolare Movement members from 42 countries, the movement’s president Maria Voce, Chiara's former bishop who began her cause and the postulators who continue to promote her cause for canonization.
Vatican City, Sep 29, 2010 (CNA) - The Word of God is not the "word of the past," but continues to address the circumstances of modern man, taught the Holy Father on Wednesday. The contents of the Bible, he said, are the "stimulus and source of Christian life for all situations and every person."
The Holy Father's words came during another farewell audience at Castel Gandolfo before his departure tomorrow.
Thanking each member of the pontifical villa staff, especially their director Dr. Saverio Petrillo, for their work, he expressed his appreciation for their "competence and precision." Expressing his gratitude also for their prayers, he told them to continue to "offer daily witness to (their) faith" especially by listening to the Word of God.
Noting Wednesday's feast of the archangels, he noted that each has been "sent by God, with specific missions in particular moments in the history of salvation." He added that "(e)very Christian is called to accept and live every day, simply and joyfully, the Word of truth that the Lord communicated to us."
Turning to a figure in the history of the Church that "nourished himself" in Scripture, the Holy Father pointed to one of the Fathers of the Church, St. Jerome, whose feast is celebrated on Thursday. In translating the Bible to Latin and basing other works on the Word, this saint kept scripture at the center of his life, recalled the Pope. He quoted the saint's words to this effect, who said "to ignore Scripture is to ignore Christ.
"Therefore," taught the Holy Father, "it is fundamental for every Christian to live in contact and in personal dialogue with the Word of God, given to us in Sacred Scripture, reading it not as a word of the past, but as the living Word, which is addressed to us today and involves us."
In his final farewell, he assured them of his prayers that each person might "know and assimilate ever more profoundly the Word of God, stimulus and source of Christian life for all situations and every person."