Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 11, 2010 (CNA) - Mexican priests must resist growing efforts to build a society without the guidance of the Gospel, said Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City.
“The Church exists to be the light of the world,” he told an Oct. 5-6 assembly of priests.
There is a temptation for priests to focus only on liturgical, sacramental and internal Church matters, Cardinal Rivera said. But the Church has a duty for the evangelization of all “temporal realities” of Mexican culture and society.
“We have a great responsibility to form others … to imbue our culture with Gospel values,” he said.
He added: “In many places there is no one to bear witness, to strongly defend or to explain with valid arguments so many issues that would help Mexico take a different direction,” he said.
The Church’s witness must include defending human rights and concrete works of charity and social development, Cardinal Rivera said. In addition, the Church must strive to illuminate and transform all areas of society with the “leaven” of the Gospel.
Austin, Texas, Oct 11, 2010 (CNA) - Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin recently addressed a Houston benefit event for a pro-life organization, saying learning that her unborn son had Down syndrome “literally rocked my world.”
Palin’s comments came at an Oct. 5 benefit at Houston’s First Baptist Church for the Austin-based Heroic Media. More than 1,200 people attended.
“I thought God had given me more than I could handle,” the former Republican vice-presidential candidate remarked. However, she said her son has been a blessing for her and for her family.
“Each morning as he wakes up, Trig rubs his little eyes, looks around and smiles broadly.
“Then he begins to clap, furiously,” she explained. “He welcomes each day with applause! It’s as if he’s challenging the world to ‘bring it on’.”
She also discussed the unwed pregnancy of her teen daughter Bristol.
Heroic Media says it uses television commercials, billboards and the internet to reach women considering abortion and to provide them with “positive alternatives.” The organization reports that the abortion rate has fallen 24 percent in Austin since it began running campaigns there.
Heroic Media’s annual Courage in Life award went to Clarisse Martin, who was planning to have an abortion but chose to give birth to her daughter after seeing a pro-life billboard and contacting a Houston pregnancy center. Her daughter’s name is Mary Joy.
Other speakers at the benefit event included Texas State Sen. Dan Patrick, radio talk show host Michael Berry and First Baptist Church of Houston Pastor Gregg Matte.
Heroic Media reported that it is still receiving pledges and it has already raised enough funds for a full billboard campaign.
The organization’s website is at http://www.heroicmedia.org.
Vatican City, Oct 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Education and Christian witness will promote respect for human rights, religious freedom and just recognition of citizenship for all people, said leaders of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. The remarks were made this morning during the opening working session of the 14-day meeting at the Vatican.
“Promotion of the family and the defense of life need to be central in our Church's teaching and mission programs,” said Coptic Patriarch Antonios Naguib of Alexandria, Egypt, the relator general of the synod. “Education is a privileged part of our activity and a major investment.”
Reading from the "Relatio ante disceptationem" (report before the discussion), Patriarch Naguib explained the current situation of Christians in the Middle East, describing the importance of remembering the history of Christianity.
“Our Churches are called to keep alive the memory of the Church's beginnings, to strengthen the faith of their members and to renew in them the spirit of the Gospel,” he said. “Through the presentation of the social doctrine of the Church, our communities offer a valuable contribution to building society.”
The opening document also warned of an increase in attacks on Christians as the Middle East is more and more affected by modernization, globalization and secularization.
Explaining that all Middle East states affirm the equality of individuals, sometimes the freedom of worship does not include the freedom of conscience. This is most prevalent in countries or regions where Islam is the state religion and laws are legislated by the “Sharia,” the prelate continued.
“Education towards greater justice and equality under the law is a precious contribution to the cultural progress of a country,” Patriarch Naguib said. “Christians deserve full recognition, passing from being merely tolerated to a just and equal status which is based on common citizenship, religious freedom and human rights.”
Eastern Catholic Churches face several unique challenges in a region that is frequently witness to conflict and war. Citing the plight of Christians in Iraq and the need for unity and collaboration in Egypt and Lebanon, Patriarch Naguib stated. “The promotion of human rights requires peace, justice and stability.”
Vatican City, Oct 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - When Pope Benedict received Croatian president Ivo Josipovic in an audience this past Saturday, conversation turned to the tenuous position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the need for his country to maintain its Christian identity as it pursues European Union membership.
In discussion with the Pope and his representatives, the Croatian president also spoke about the importance of maintaining the traditionally Roman Catholic country's “specific Christian identity” as it pursues full EU membership. Croatia applied for membership in 2003, and could join as an official member state by 2012.
President Josipovic noted the perennial importance of the Catholic Church to the spiritual and cultural development of the nation. Although the Republic of Croatia's third president is personally non-religious, more than 85 percent of Croatians are Roman Catholics.
An aide to the president told the Croatian news magazine Nacional, prior to last week's visit, that Josipovic wanted “to demonstrate respect towards believers,” most of whom had supported him in the election. Josipovic's aide also told the magazine that “from the start of his term in office he has adopted a very conciliatory attitude towards the Catholic Church” and remained “open to cooperation."
The president additionally spoke with the Holy Father and Vatican officials about the situation of Croatian communities and individuals in the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is also seeking EU membership after less than 20 years of existence.
Croatia's neighboring country is ethnically and religiously divided and faces an uncertain political future. Recent election results showed continuing conflict between Serbian nationalists and Bosnian Muslims, leading some observers to question the state's basic stability. Around 15 percent of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are Roman Catholics and ethnic Croats.
Vatican City, Oct 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Addressing the first gathering of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East this morning at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI made off the cuff remarks warning that terrorism, drugs, anonymous financial capitals and the ideologies associated with them are false gods that “must be unmasked.” This overturning will occur, he said, through the blood of witnesses to Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI presided this morning over the opening of the special assembly that aims to encourage authentic and effective witness to Christ in the Church in the Middle East by building up Christian identity as well as strengthening ties between the many different Eastern Rite Churches.
This "simple faith of true wisdom is the strength of the Church,” the Pope said as he began remarks to the assembly, according to Vatican Radio.
“Outward foundations falter because the inner foundations falter, the foundations of moral and religious faith from which the right way to live follows. And we know that faith is the foundation and, ultimately, the foundations of the earth can not falter, if faith the true wisdom remains firm."
Reflecting on the current state of affairs, and on Psalm 81, Pope Benedict pointed to modern-day false gods, such as the “power of terrorist ideologies that carry out violence in the name of god,” “anonymous (financial) capitals” that dehumanize man, drugs and “forms of life touted by the public opinion today for which values like marriage count for nothing.”
“These are false divinities that must be unmasked, because they are not God,” the Holy Father stated.
Turning to Revelations 12, the Holy Father noted that these gods must fall and that this process is the transformation of the world.
“And, if we look closely, we see that this process is never finished. Even today, in this moment, in which Christ, the only Son of God, must be born for the world with the downfall of the gods, with suffering, the martyrdom of the witnesses.
In his reflections on “anonymous (financial) capitals,” he said that they make "a slave of man” and are some "of the great powers of our history." The Pope added, “they are no longer things of man but have become an anonymous power that man serves, and for which he suffers and dies. This is a destructive power that threatens the world.”
Looking at society's approach to sexuality, Benedict XVI said, “Today marriage does not count and chastity is no longer a virtue … these ideologies that dominate and that are imposed forcefully are divinities.”
“These gods must fall, and must become what is written in the letter to the Ephesians: Dominion and powers fall and become subjects to the one Lord Jesus Christ," the Pope said.
Pope Benedict closed his brief words by saying, “And then the psalm says: 'Rise up, Lord, and judge the earth.' So let us also say to the Lord: 'Rise up in this moment, take the earth in your hands, protect your Church, protect humanity, protect the earth'.”
Vatican City, Oct 11, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI received participants in a congress marking the 20th anniversary of the current Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. Reflecting on the occasion, the Pope called for Eastern Catholics to maintain their ancient traditions, as witnesses to the important diversity of the universal Church.
The Pope observed that the 20th anniversary of the code's implementation was an important chance to examine its impact on the lives of Eastern Catholics, and to consider its effectiveness as an instrument for the unity of many self-governing churches that maintain communion within the Catholic fold.
Pope Benedict also recalled the traditional roots of the modern code as an adaptation of many “sacred canons of the ancient Church.” The continuity of ancient and modern practice, he said, is an inspiration to all of the various Eastern Catholic Churches “to preserve their own identity, which is (Eastern) and Catholic at one and the same time.”
“In maintaining Catholic communion,” he stated, “the Eastern Catholic Churches had no intention of renouncing faithfulness to their own tradition. As has been noted on several occasions, the union they have already achieved with the Church of Rome must not cause the Eastern Catholic Churches to lose an awareness of their own authenticity and originality.”
“Therefore,” the Holy Father continued, “the task of all the Eastern Catholic Churches is that of preserving their legal heritage and nourishing their traditions, which are a treasure for the whole Church.”
The Pope likewise highlighted the “fundamental” similarity of the Eastern Catholic Churches' canon law to the various canonical traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy, acknowledging that “the Eastern Catholic Churches can make a specific and important contribution to the progress of ecumenism.”
Describing canon law as “the specific and indispensable regulation of ecclesial unity,” Pope Benedict noted that the clear regulation of the Church's functions and duties “will not fail to make an effective contribution to the life and mission of the Church in the world, if all members of the People of God interpret it wisely and apply it faithfully.”
Barcelona, Spain, Oct 11, 2010 (CNA) - The Catholic architect, Antonio Gaudi, intended his unfinished masterpiece, the Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona, to be a sort of “catechesis,” said Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach of Barcelona.
The church, the cardinal said in his weekly column, is “a unique church in the world,” not only because of the technical innovations involved in its construction, but also for its intensive “biblical and liturgical symbolism.”
Pope Benedict XVI will consecrate the Church of the Holy Family and declare it a basilica during his Nov. 6-7 visit to Spain. In advance of the visit, Cardinal Sistach spoke about the deeply Catholic vision of Gaudi, who died in 1926 and whose sainthood cause was introduced at the Vatican in 2009.
“If we look at the church from outside, with its eighteen bell towers and its façades and walls, we find ourselves before the reality of the Church: the highest bell tower dedicated to Jesus Christ; it is surrounded by the four evangelists; in the apse, like a mother’s womb, is the Virgin Mary; and the twelve apostles distributed in groups of four on each of the three main facades (of the Church, representing): the birth, the passion, the glory,” Cardinal Sistach explained.
One of Gaudi’s technical and symbolic innovations was to move the content of the interior reredos, or altar decorations, to the outside facades.
The resulting effect is that each of the Church’s facades is like “a great reredos that offers the visitor or the faithful the chance to contemplate the mysteries of the infancy, passion and resurrection of the Lord, the message of the Beatitudes and the sacraments, the profession of faith and creation and the glorification of humanity,” he said.
He added: “Gaudi envisioned a truly Catholic and universal church, and for this reason the five continents are symbolized here, and it makes so much sense that the Pope is one to preside at its dedication.”
In his architecture, Gaudi also took into account the liturgical seasons. That is the reason he included 52 columns, one for each Sunday of the year.