Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 18, 2010 (CNA) - The executive committee of the Argentinean Bishops’ Conference called on Argentineans this week to make a “sincere and mature” commitment to life. They declared 2011 to be “The Year of Life.”
In their recent statement, the committee referred to Pope Benedict XVI’s invitation to Catholics to participate in a prayer vigil for the unborn on November 27. The date was chosen so the beginning of Advent would be an expression of gratitude to God for the gift of life.
“When we speak of the gift of life, the sacred gift of God to man, we refer to the life of each person at every stage … and in all of its dimensions: physical, spiritual, familiar, social, political, religious,” the committee explained.
The bishops expressed their desire to affirm “the vital need to prioritize … the right to life in all of its manifestations” during the year of 2011. They noted that this will include the unborn, as well those “who grow up in poverty and are marginalized.”
The committee reiterated its call to defend life saying, “We will not be able to build a nation that includes all if the primary right to life of every person - the right to life from the moment of conception - does not prevail in our country.”
For this reason, the bishops urged greater protection for women who are pregnant and for the strengthening of the mother-child bond in order to ensure the quality of life until natural death.“We must find ways to care for the lives of both mother and unborn child and thus save both,” they said.
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an often personal letter to the world’s seminarians, Pope Benedict XVI said the recently surfaced scandals of priest sexual abuse “cannot discredit the priestly mission, which remains great and pure.”
His letter to men training for the priesthood was issued Oct. 18 to mark the close of the special “Year for Priests,” that ended in June.
The Pope compared the “difficult times” of today with the climate in the final months of Nazi regime in Germany when he was a young man. He recalled that when he was drafted for military service in December 1944, the commander asked him about his plans for the future.
“I answered that I wanted to become a Catholic priest,” the Pope said. “The lieutenant replied, ‘Then you ought to look for something else. In the new Germany priests are no longer needed.’”
The Pope said he knew then, just months before Hitler’s death and the Nazi surrender, that after “the enormous devastation which that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever.”
Today too, he said, men studying for the priesthood face skepticism that their ministry is no longer needed in a new age “marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization.”
For many, “the Catholic priesthood is not a 'job' for the future, but one that belongs more to the past,” he said.
But that is not true, Pope Benedict said. “You have done a good thing,” in entering seminary, he told the future priests.
“Because people will always have need of God … They will always need the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with him and through him life’s true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity.”
The Pope’s letter included a detailed and often personal exhortation to seminarians on the role of the priesthood and the spiritual maturity that it requires.
The priest must first and foremost be a “man of God,” who is willing to grow in self-knowledge and “humility” through prayer, the Pope said. He encouraged the seminarians to cultivate an “inner closeness” with Jesus through the sacraments, especially the sacrament of Penance.
This sacrament is vitally important to the spiritual formation of priests, he said.
“It teaches me to see myself as God sees me, and it forces me to be honest with myself …” the Pope said. “Moreover, by letting myself be forgiven, I learn to forgive others. In recognizing my own weakness, I grow more tolerant and understanding of the failings of my neighbor.”
The Pope also urged seminarians to foster “the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated.”
“This also involves the integration of sexuality into the whole personality,” he said. “Sexuality is a gift of the Creator yet it is also a task which relates to a person’s growth towards human maturity. When it is not integrated within the person, sexuality becomes banal and destructive.”
“Recently we have seen with great dismay that some priests disfigured their ministry by sexually abusing children and young people,” the Pope added. “Instead of guiding people to greater human maturity and setting them an example, their abusive behavior caused great damage for which we feel profound shame and regret.”
“Yet even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission,” Pope Benedict stressed, “which remains great and pure.”
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - In meetings with the new ambassadors to the Vatican from Colombia and El Salvador, Pope Benedict XVI urged their governments to work for full human development and an end to violence.
The Pope reminded Colombia’s ambassador Cesar Velasquez that the more than 200-year history of the Catholic Church in Colombia has left "indelible traces" on the nation’s culture and social institutions.
The Church, the Pope said, does not demand “special privileges,” only the freedom necessary to carry out its mission of salvation. “She yearns only to serve the faithful and all those who open their hearts to her," Benedict XVI said of the Church.
He added that the Church is "ever ready" to work with civil leaders for the common good in areas such as education, defense of the rights of indigenous peoples, and the fight against, poverty, drug trafficking, and government corruption.
At the core of this "friendly" collaboration, the Pope insisted, is the promotion of human dignity. Law and public policy must protect life from conception to natural death. In addition, he said, Colombian society must work to protect the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.
These are "irreplaceable pillars in building a society that is truly worthy of humanity and our fundamental values," he said.
In his address to El Salvador’s new ambassador, Manuel Lopez, the Pope said the Church’s mission fosters the "public good in all dimensions."
“Evangelizing and bearing witness to love for God and for all persons without exception becomes an effective element in eradicating poverty and is a vigorous incentive to fight against violence, impunity, and drug trafficking, which are wreaking such havoc, especially among youth," he said.
He warned against the "aggressive presence of sects" in Salvadoran society which are "obscuring the beauty of the Gospel message and tearing apart the unity of the faithful."
Praising the country's efforts to ensure continuing peace since an agreement was reached that ended civil war in 1992, he prayed that the country might be assisted in any necessary way "to renounce the causes of conflict definitively, replacing enmity with mutual understanding and ensuring protection for people and their belongings.
"In order to achieve these goals, people must be convinced that nothing is to be gained by violence, indeed that everything is worsened because violence is a dead end. ... By contrast, peace is the yearning of every human being who takes pride in that name."
Pope Benedict concluded his address to the El Salvadoran ambassador by saying that peace, as a gift from the Lord, is a "task in which everyone should co-operate unhesitatingly" with the support of the State and security forces. Authorities "will always find the outstretched hand of the children of the Church," said the Pope.
Concluding, he exhorted Christians to "increasingly identify with (the Lord), asking Him to make every El Salvadoran an architect of reconciliation."
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 18, 2010 (CNA) - Archbishop Jose Luis Mollaghan of Rosario, Argentina wrote in a pastoral letter that the recitation of the Rosary helps Catholics face life's hardships and sufferings.
In his letter to priests, religious and the faithful, Archbishop Mollaghan said, “The Rosary is a prayer of contemplation on the life of Jesus, throughout the path of salvation, recalling and meditating upon the mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory.”
The archbishop noted Pope Benedict XVI’s exhortation to pray the Rosary during the month of October, the month of the Rosary. He said that in the Marian prayer, the laity can find a respite for their hurried lives and a source of true peace for every person and family.
Mary always intercedes for our needs, the archbishop said referring to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, “Redemptoris Mater” (Mother of the Redeemer). “Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of our hardships and sufferings. She places herself in the middle - she becomes a mediator not as a stranger, but in her role as true mother, aware that as such she makes present to her Son the needs of mankind.”
The mysteries of the Holy Rosary, he continued, show that Jesus is the center of salvation. They invite us to meditate on the reality that man experiences today, and as John Paul II teaches, “mark the rhythm of human life,” in order to harmonize it with the rhythm of divine life.
“From the incarnation, to the cross, and in the glory of the Resurrection, we contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mysteries of Christ and thus in our own lives as well - in which the joys and sorrows, the shadows and the light, the hopes and setbacks are interwoven.
“For this reason grace fills our hearts, inspiring us as we pray to change our lives,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Mollaghan also underscored that the Rosary inspires the faithful to discover their own missionary vocation because “if praying the Rosary helps us to live as Christians and disciples of Jesus, it also should lead us to discover the missionary vocation through Mary. Precisely by meditating on the life of Jesus, the call to live what we pray and thus proclaim the works of God arises over and over again.”
Rome, Italy, Oct 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Efforts to brand the newly canonized St. Mary MacKillop as the "Patron Saint of Whistleblowers in the Church,” are inaccurate and wrong, according to the nun responsible for advancing her sainthood cause.
News media coverage of the Oct. 17 canonization focused almost exclusively on claims made by clergy sexual abuse victims that the new saint had once been excommunicated for exposing abuses by an Irish priest working in Australia.
That claim is false, Sister Maria Casey, RSJ, told Vatican Radio, Oct. 15. “To set the record straight: she herself did not denounce the priest, she was 2,000 miles away when the events were reported."
MacKillop was in fact excommunicated for five months in 1871 by her bishop. But that issue was only “indirectly” related to the Irish priest, she said. At the root of the excommunication was a disagreement over how her new religious order should be governed. The excommunication was lifted after five months in 1872.
Sister MacKillop's fellow Josephite sisters had reported the abuses by Father Patrick Keating to the order's co-founder, Father Julian Tenison Woods. He in turn made a report to the vicar general of the diocese. After an investigation, Father Keating was removed from his post and sent back to Ireland.
According to Sister Casey, Father Charles Horan, a friend of Father Keating, was angered by the situation and vowed revenge against both Father Woods and the Josephite sisters.
He and other Irish priests serving in Australia began a campaign of slander and false accusations against Sister MacKillop, the head of the Josephites at the time. The slanders included charges that the future saint had a drinking problem and was mismanaging the affairs of her religious order.
This, and not her direct involvement in the abuse case, led to her excommunication by Bishop Lawrence Shiel. According to Sister Casey, the excommunication was only "indirectly" connected to the abuse scandal. It was "indirectly because misinformation about other matters were then fed to the bishop," she explained.
Bishop Shiel lifted his ban on Sister MacKillop receiving communion five months later, after learning that there was no truth behind the charges.
Sister Casey criticized efforts by victims’ advocacy groups to label the new saint as “patron of whistleblowers” as too "reductive." While St. Mary MacKillop "would have been very in tune" with the suffering and the needs of abuse victims, her concerns were much broader, she said.
Given her lifelong commitment to education of the poor and especially young women, a more apt title for St. Mary MacKillop would be "the Patroness ... of the dignity of all people."
The new saint is known across Australia for her great work with the poor and the education of their children. The order she co-founded with Father Woods, the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, continues to carry out her mission today in Australia and abroad.
Brasilia, Brazil, Oct 18, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Cristiano Krapf of Jaquie, Brazil stated last week that the Catholic Church will always defend human life against abortion, regardless of whether or not politicians support legalizing the procedure.
Bishop Krapf's remarks came in light of the upcoming presidential runoff elections in Brazil. “The controversy surrounding the proposal to legalize abortion amid the presidential runoff elections has led candidates to say they are against abortion and support the protection of life by the state,” he said in an Oct. 12 article.
The runoff elections will take place Oct. 31.
“The Church must continue preaching in support of life,” the bishop said, noting that she must do so “very carefully in order to avoid becoming involved in the political struggle for power.”
“A country needs laws in order to protect the rights of the weakest,” Bishop Krapf said, explaining that the first among these rights is “the right to life.” He added that the “weakest of all human beings is the unborn.”
Bishop Krapf said the controversy over abortion in the country has allowed voters to have a better idea of the candidates’ positions on the issue. It has shown that “the Brazilian people want a government that protects the right to life of every person from the moment of conception,” he continued.
The bishop’s article came as the frontrunner in the elections, Workers' Party candidate Dilma Rousseff, saw her support erode over statements made indicating support for the legalization of abortion.
Denver, Colo., Oct 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic News Agency (CNA) and EWTN News have named veteran Catholic journalist and author David Scott as editor-in-chief of the two agencies.
The move is the latest in a growing collaboration between the two large news companies to expand their operations in the global Catholic digital and multimedia market.
With news bureaus in North and South America and Europe, CNA is one of the largest and fastest growing independent Catholic media outlets in the world. EWTN News is the news arm of EWTN Global Catholic Network, which provides multimedia services to more that 140 countries and territories and is the world’s largest religious media company.
In selecting Scott to serve as editor-in-chief, the companies have turned to a respected name in religious journalism who also has extensive experience working with top leaders in the Catholic Church in the United States.
“David brings a tremendous skill set to the post of editor-in-chief and is highly respected within Catholic journalistic circles,” said Michael Warsaw, president and chief executive officer of EWTN Global Catholic Network. “Having him on board will allow us to take our services to the next level.”
Alejandro Bermúdez, executive director of CNA and its Latin American-based sister news company ACI Prensa, said Scott has been a friend and colleague for nearly two decades.
“His qualities as a writer and editor need no comment. He is simply one of the best,” Bermúdez said. “It is a true blessing to have him with CNA.”
During his 20-year career in religious journalism, Scott has held top editorial posts, in addition to publishing hundreds of articles in periodicals and journals in the U.S. and abroad, including in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
Scott said he is excited by the opportunity.
“I’m honored,” Scott said. “CNA and EWTN News have gathered some of the finest young talent in the Catholic press. They’re good writers, good editors, and they’re faithful Catholics. And they have a creative, energetic vision for Catholic journalism. We’re going to be able to do some great things for God and his Church.”
From 1993-2000, Scott served as the editor of Our Sunday Visitor, the largest-circulation independent Catholic newspaper in the U.S. In recent years, he has served as a consultant and close collaborator to top leaders in the U.S. Church. He has also served as editorial director of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, a research and educational institute.
Scott’s essays and reporting have appeared in such publications as: National Review, Commonweal, Crisis, Inside the Vatican, National Catholic Register, U.S. Catholic, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Godspy.com, Beliefnet.com, and Catholic News Service.
Among his books are “The Catholic Passion,” an introduction to Catholicism, and a spiritual biography, “A Revolution of Love: The Meaning of Mother Teresa.”
Vatican City, Oct 18, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - L’Osservatore Romano marked the 20th anniversary of “The Simpsons” in its Oct. 17 edition by lauding the popular television show for taking religious faith seriously, although often irreverently.
And, although "few know it, and he does everything to hide it ... it's true: Homer J. Simpson is Catholic," according to newspaper.
The newspaper cited an analysis in the Oct. 16 issue of the Italian Jesuit magazine, La Civilita Cattolica.
In it, Father Francesco Occhetta examined a Catholic-themed episode from 2005, "The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star," in which Homer and his son Bart are befriended by a priest named Father Sean, and consider conversion to Catholicism.
"The Simpsons remain among the few TV programs for kids in which the Christian faith, religion and the question on God are recurrent themes," Father Occhetta wrote.
Homer may snore through his evangelical pastor Rev. Lovejoy's sermons, and he may heckle his evangelical neighbor, Ned Flanders, but religious faith is realistically portrayed in the show, he said.
Characters are often shown praying and the Simpsons family always prays before meals. "In their own way," Father Occhetta wrote, the character all "believe in the 'beyond'."
The Vatican newspaper said "Parents shouldn't be afraid to let their children watch the adventures of the 'little guys in yellow'."
The content and themes of “The Simpsons” are so realistic that they could be used to kickstart discussions among parents and their children about issues of family life, school, relationships, and social and political issues.
The show’s "skeptical realism” does not lend itself to any easy moral lessons, the paper suggested. But it does tend to deflate false illusions about the world. And, the paper added, "a world devoid of easy illusions is more human and, perhaps, more Christian."