Archive of November 6, 2010

Pope Benedict calls Europe to return to the cross, the 'guiding star'

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Nov 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Developing further the concept of "new evangelization" in the world, Pope Benedict XVI has called all of Europe - especially young people - out of the darkness and into the light of faith.

Speaking to the faithful during Mass celebrated outside Santiago de Compostela's cathedral on Nov. 6, Benedict XVI reflected on the work of the apostles as recounted in the Gospels. The Gospels give account of the apostles' witness to Jesus' life, death and resurrection and their lives of service, drawing from Christ's example of humility and obedient to the Father's will, he said.

Employing this service as "an essential part of their being," disciples look to follow and imitate Christ, making God's love present "to all in every way and bear(ing) witness to him in the simplest of actions," he explained.

The Pontiff expressed his wish that the Gospel message of working together in community in a "logic of love and service" might reach all young people. Through the Gospel, he said, they will see a "path by which, in renouncing a selfish and short-sighted way of thinking so common today, and taking on instead Jesus’ own way of thinking, you may attain fulfillment and become a seed of hope."

The Holy Year of Santiago de Compostela, he said, also brings to mind these themes in experience of the pilgrimage which opens people's hearts "to what is the deepest and most common bond that unites us as human beings." That bond, he said, is that "we are in quest, we need truth and beauty, we need an experience of grace, charity, peace, forgiveness and redemption."

Turning to the Church in Europe, he said that "her contribution is centered on a simple and decisive reality: God exists and he has given us life.

"He alone is absolute, faithful and unfailing love, that infinite goal that is glimpsed behind the good, the true and the beautiful things of this world, admirable indeed, but insufficient for the human heart," said the Pope.

Looking to the most recent chapters in European history in which God has become excluded, Benedict XVI asked, "How can what is most decisive in life be confined to the purely private sphere or banished to the shadows?"

"We cannot live in darkness, without seeing the light of the sun. How is it then that God, who is the light of every mind, the power of every will and the magnet of every heart, be denied the right to propose the light that dissipates all darkness?

"This," he explained, "is why we need to hear God once again under the skies of Europe; may this holy word not be spoken in vain, and may it not be put at the service of purposes other than its own. It needs to be spoken in a holy way" and heard "in this way in ordinary life," he said.

"Europe must open itself to God," the Pope said. To do so he offered the cross, "the supreme sign of love," as a "guiding star in the night of time.

"The cross and love, the cross and light have been synonymous in our history because Christ allowed himself to hang there in order to give us the supreme witness of his love, to invite us to forgiveness and reconciliation, to teach us how to overcome evil with good.

"So," he said to the people, "do not fail to learn the lessons of that Christ whom we encounter at the crossroads of our journey and our whole life, in whom God comes forth to meet us as our friend, father and guide.

"Blessed Cross, shine always upon the lands of Europe!" he exclaimed.

Highlighting the importance of protecting the dignity of all people, he said that "the Europe of science and technology, the Europe of civilization and culture, must be at the same time a Europe open to transcendence and fraternity with other continents, and open to the living and true God, starting with the living and true man.

"This is what the Church wishes to contribute to Europe: to be watchful for God and for man based on the understanding of both which is offered to us in Jesus Christ."

Mass was the final event on the Pope's schedule before moving on to Barcelona by plane.

On Sunday, he will dedicate the Church of the Holy Family, or the "Sagrada Familia," also elevating it to a basilica.

The text of the Pope’s homily can be found here:

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Church is the 'embrace of God,' pilgrim Pope tells Spaniards

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Nov 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI spoke of transformation through the love of God as he visited one of the major Catholic pilgrimage sites of Europe. He noted that the Catholic Church is the place where that love can be spread.

The Pontiff was greeted warmly by the Spanish faithful who lined most of the more than six mile route from the airport to the Santiago de Compostela city center. Reaching the city's monumental cathedral, the destination of thousands of pilgrimages every year, he completed the "rite of the pilgrim" himself.

Wearing a traditional black cloak adorned with scallop shell symbol of St. James on one side and the red cross of the Spanish Order of Santiago on the other, he entered through the Holy Door, embraced the statue of St. James and prayed at the apostle's tomb below the altar.

The opening of the door is reserved only for years in which the July 25 feast of St. James, patron and protector of Spain, is celebrated on a Sunday. A Holy Year is declared in such cases and the number of pilgrims to the ever popular site spike. Many travel hundreds of miles on foot to reach St. James’ tomb.

In a brief greeting to those gathered within the cathedral and the thousands participating via television screens outside, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the “way of the pilgrim” not just as a visit for admiration of nature, art or history but a way to "step out of ourselves in order to encounter God."

As a pilgrim himself, the Pope said that he was visiting the city during the jubilee year to confirm Catholics in their faith, give them hope and entrust their "aspirations, struggles and labors in service of the Gospel" to the intercession of St. James.

He said that while he embraced the apostle's statue after entering he prayed for "all the children of the Church." Through faith and the mystery of love present in the Trinity, he observed, all people are "embraced by God,” and “transformed by his love.

"The Church," he continued, "is this embrace of God, in which men and women learn also to embrace their brothers and sisters and to discover in them the divine image and likeness which constitutes the deepest truth of their existence, and which is the origin of genuine freedom."

He exhorted of Spain's faithful to "live their lives enlightened by the truth of Christ, confessing the faith with joy, consistency and simplicity, at home, at work and in their commitment as citizens

"May the joy of knowing that you are God’s beloved children bring you to an ever deeper love for the Church and to cooperate with her in her work of leading all men and women to Christ," he said.

After inviting prayers for new vocations and expressing appreciation for the charitable work of Spanish institutions, he closed with a prayer in the local language asking God to grant all Spaniards "the boldness which Saint James showed in bearing witness to the Risen Christ.

"In this way," he concluded, "may you remain faithful in the ways of holiness and spend yourselves for the glory of God and the good of our brothers and sisters in greatest need."

The Pope's words were met with shouts of "Viva!", a typical Spanish and Italian exclamation to say "Long live the Pope!" Before leaving the cathedral to have lunch at the archbishop's residence, he filled the cathedral's 110-pound incense-burning thurible with incense. Eight technicians raised it up and sent it swinging through the cathedral hall, a traditional act to close the morning's historic events.

To read the full text of the Pope’s message, click here:

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Benedict XVI encourages justice for poor and defenseless upon arrival in Spain

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Nov 6, 2010 (CNA) - Immediately upon arriving in Spain, Pope Benedict XVI touched on the sensitive topic of abortion in the country today. The Pontiff called for justice for the "poorest and the most defenseless."

Spain recently passed a new law which waives abortion restrictions in cases of "extremely grave and incurable disease."

The Pope was met by representatives of the Spanish Church, state and royal family just after his plane touched down on a foggy day in Santiago de Compostela. Crowds of Spaniards and a military band were also present to greet him.

This is Pope Benedict’s first-ever stop at the popular pilgrimage destination in northwest Spain's Galicia region. Pilgrims travel to Santiago de Compostela - or just Santiago - to reach the city's cathedral, where the tomb of the Apostle St. James lies.

Developing the theme of the pilgrimage in his welcoming address, the Pope said "in his deepest being, man is always on a journey, ever in search of truth."

The Church, he added, shares in this "profound human desire" and at the same time, "pursues her own interior journey which, through faith, hope and love, leads her to become a transparent sign of Christ for the world.”

Her "mission and path," said the Pope, is to make Christ ever more present among men. "For this reason, I too have journeyed here," he said, "to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith."

Noting the strong Christian past and continued contributions and initiatives to building a better world, he said that the trip is an opportunity "to give a new impulse to (Spain’s) Christian roots."

Benedict XVI said that he also wishes "to encourage Spain and Europe to build their present and to project their future on the basis of the authentic truth about man, on the basis of the freedom which respects this truth and never harms it, and on the basis of justice for all, beginning with the poorest and the most defenseless."

Spain passed a law last June liberalizing and paying for abortions until the 14th week of pregnancy, providing for limited abortions up to the 22nd week and allowing them at any time during the term in cases of "extremely grave and incurable disease."

Catholics have protested the law across the country. This week, the Spanish Bishops' Conference's communications director decried the "elimination" of fetuses with Down syndrome in the nation. He said that the Pope "unites his hand in defense of life, all life, the life of all, independently of whether it has lesser or greater mental capacity."

Rounding out his opening speech from Santiago's airport, the Pope called for "a Spain and a Europe concerned not only with people’s material needs but also with their moral and social, spiritual and religious needs, since all these are genuine requirements of our common humanity and only in this way can work be done effectively, integrally and fruitfully for man’s good."

The full text of the Pope’s message can be found here:

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Papal visit will highlight Catholic vision of Spain's greatest architect

Barcelona, Spain, Nov 6, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Most of the renowned artists who lived during the last century weren't known for being particularly religious. But while many cultural pioneers were fleeing from faith, Spain's greatest architect was building for God alone.

Pope Benedict XVI will consecrate Antonio Gaudi's masterpiece, Barcelona's Cathedral of the Holy Family, as a basilica this weekend, with the architect himself being considered for beatification.

The cathedral, Gaudi's final and greatest work, has been under construction for more than a century.  Dwarfing many surrounding buildings in the urban center, it will become the tallest church in the world when completed.

Already long acknowledged as a masterpiece, it displays the architect's unusual combination of influences: the beauty of nature, the significance of tradition, his Catalan heritage, and his own complete originality. Most of all, however, it testifies to the faith that shaped Gaudi's life.

Antonio Gaudi was born on June 25, 1852, and baptized the next day at the Church of St. Peter in the  town of Reus. Afflicted with poor health in his youth, he developed a keen eye for observing the natural world and the forms of living things. He excelled at geometry, and attended a school known for its strong Christian faith and Marian devotion.

His gifts as an illustrator and draftsman gradually came to light– along with some of his artistic and personal idiosyncrasies. The young Gaudi opened his mind to many new stylistic influences that were emerging as the rigid forms of 19th century classicism began to fade. At the same time, he also embraced his Catalan identity and its aesthetic influence.

Initially working in a neo-Gothic style influenced by English revivalists, he came to incorporate increasingly unusual contours, mimicking nature and the human body.

Gaudi's stylistic innovations both amazed and baffled Barcelona, sometimes simultaneously. His last “secular” project, the Casa Mila, resembles a wavy set of cliffs. Its balconies look like abstract iron corollaries to the trees on the streets below. The sculptural forms atop the roof resemble anthills, human faces, and castle ornamentation. Virtually every signifier of Gaudi's indefinable style was there; he had hit his artistic stride.

That building was Gaudi's last completed secular project. He had already begun work, in 1883, on a project he did not expect to see completed in his lifetime. From 1914 to his death in 1926, he worked exclusively on the Cathedral of the Holy Family. Gaudi's consuming project summoned all of his artistic talent, in a single act of faith.

Combining his love of ornamentation and grandeur with the fruits of prayer and theological meditations, Gaudi's cathedral is clearly more traditional than most of his other later works. But its unusual arch shapes, brightly-colored spires, and authoritative yet joyous-looking towers clearly reflect the artist's own vision. He hoped that other architects, designing future cathedrals, would look upon it as the beginning of an entirely new style– albeit one harmonious with the past.

Gaudi did not worry about the time it would take to complete the cathedral. “My client,” he famously remarked, “is not in a hurry.” But the public noticed how he seemed to disappear into the work, withdrawing from public life and living on the premises of the unfinished church.

Once known as a dashing and stylish young man, the unmarried architect now became known as a sort of hermit. But he did not cease to visit the Church of St. Philip Neri, where he prayed for some time every night.
When a group of students from his old primary school visited the unfinished cathedral, Gaudi explained to them that the work was an expression of what he had learned as a child: “the divine history of the salvation of man through Christ incarnate, given to the world by the Virgin Mary.”

Gaudi died in 1926, after a tragic accident in which he was run over by a trolley car. Mistaking him for a beggar, the driver did not stop to help him. Once taken to the hospital and recognized, Gaudi refused any preferential treatment, saying his place was “here among the poor.”

When he died of complications from the accident, three of the cathedral's eastern towers, and one of its three planned facades, were complete. The current builders expect its full completion in 2026, the centenary of Gaudi's death. Millions of visitors to Barcelona have already toured the cathedral. Revenue from visitors is expected to cover the remaining work on the main facade and sacristies, as well as the completion of its central tower.

As Pope Benedict prepares to consecrate Gaudi's masterpiece as a basilica, dedicating its altar and celebrating the first Mass, there are signs that the architect himself may be a candidate for beatification. A small group of laymen with a miniscule budget decided to investigate the possibility in 1992, and the cause for the canonization of Antonio Gaudi finally opened in Rome in 2003.

In another famous poetic comment on the ambitious scale of the Cathedral of the Holy Family, Gaudi once remarked that St. Joseph –Christ's foster father, “the carpenter”– would accomplish the completion of this house for Jesus and Mary.

In this, perhaps Gaudi was prescient. Pope Benedict XVI  –who is both a devotee of St. Joseph, and originally named after him (as Joseph Ratzinger)– will dedicate it as a basilica, as he visits Barcelona on Nov. 7.

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Bishop asks Pope to confirm Spain in her faith

Madrid, Spain, Nov 6, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla of San Sebastian asked Pope Benedict XVI to confirm Spain in her faith during his Nov. 6 – 7 visit. “In the Catholic Church, the Pope is the guarantor of our unity in the faith –  or said differently – he is the one who confirms us in the faith,” the bishop said.

In his message titled, “Benedict, Confirm us in the faith!” Bishop Munilla explained that the “channel through which we receive God’s revelation is twofold,” through both “Tradition and Scripture.”

“The authentic interpretation of revelation is a mission entrusted to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.”

The Pope's main role is the “work of unity,” Bishop Munilla said. However, he noted that this task “is not the fruit of human strategy, but rather is a response to the will of Jesus Christ himself, such that the unity of the Church might become a sign that helps a divided and fractured humanity to believe.”

Bishop Munilla also referred to the Pope’s authority and his governance of the Church.  “We are aware that at a time in which there is a crisis in our Western culture regarding the principle of authority, the authority of the Pope is not easily understood.”

The bishop thanked Pope Benedict XVI “for making every effort to confirm us in our faith.” Bishop Munilla then offered the Pontiff “our humble collaboration so that you can carry out the task entrusted to you by Christ: Tend my sheep.”

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Would-be pro golfer on path to priesthood

Anchorage, Alaska, Nov 6, 2010 (CNA) - It’s easy to imagine a six-foot, tanned, 32-year-old Peter Hannah on the golf greens of Monterey, California, in textbook form, languidly driving balls 300 yards.

But instead of an Izod shirt and khaki pants, he’s wearing the long, white habit of a medieval Dominican friar — and he’s heading into winter in Alaska. He arrived in August from St. Albert’s Priory in Oakland for a year’s work at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage, Alaska, as part of seminary training.

“My first reaction to being assigned to Anchorage was, ‘Wow, that’s a long ways away from California,” Brother Peter Junipero Hannah told the Catholic Anchor.

But the would-be professional golfer, former college fraternity brother and convert to Catholicism already has traveled a long distance — through even the spiritual “desert” of the so-called “good life” — on the surprising path to freedom.

The American Dream

By most accounts, Brother Hannah was living the American Dream.

Born in Temple, Texas at 10 pounds, 13 ounces, he looked like a nascent Texas Cowboys linebacker. But a family move to the West Coast and a “generally slender frame,” he said, turned hopes of football stardom into a chance at PGA fame. Like his up-and-coming school-mate Tiger Woods, as a teen, Brother Hannah was perfecting his strokes on California’s sunny golf courses.

Still, life was well-rounded.

Brother Hannah’s parents weren’t “PhDs or anything,” he said, but they instilled in him and his sister a “love for learning.”

And they owned a set of World Book of Encyclopedias, whose volumes six-year-old Brother Hannah would pick up on his own and “just start reading.” That intellectual curiosity continues to this day. “I’m interested in everything!” exclaimed the religious brother.

Growing up, his Presbyterian family attended church every Sunday. But by high school – and though he never “explicitly” disbelieved or rebelled against God – Brother Hannah was “so interested in golf, I didn’t really want to do anything else.”

In 1995, the “naturally ambitious” and determined Brother Hannah entered the University of California at San Diego, where he majored in American history and played on the golf team – aiming for a lucrative, professional sports career.

“I wanted to have a good life, I wanted to be successful,” Brother Hannah said.

A gnawing angst

At college, he joined a fraternity – which meant camaraderie, leadership and philanthropy projects.

But frat life had a dark side. There were drugs, alcohol and denigrating attitudes toward women.

By junior year, the “pagan pastimes” were gnawing on his conscience — as was the impermanence of his academic, social and athletic accomplishments.

His goals were “not bad things in themselves,” Brother Hannah said. “But when perfect performance did not emerge, and was made less and less perfect by the increasing mental haze attending fraternity life, a deep sense of anxiety developed within me.”

“I knew deep within my soul that things were not quite right,” he observed.

In quiet moments, he acknowledged, “‘There’s something really wrong about the messages I’m getting. There’s an emptiness in my soul that needs to be answered, filled somehow.’”

Then, the summer before senior year, his father encouraged him to become an official member of their hometown Presbyterian church — a step he had not yet taken.

“Like a lot of young people today,” he told his father that he wanted to “study other religions first.” For Christianity, his dad recommended the book, “Mere Christianity.”

So after a round of golf, Brother Hannah went to Barnes & Noble and walked out with a copy of C. S. Lewis’s classic and the autobiography of Jack Nicklaus.

'Water in the desert'

Lewis’s book turned out “like water in the desert for me,” Brother Hannah recalled.

“It was like, ‘Wow, Christianity does have some things to say!’” and those things, he observed, “protect order in society, protect human dignity” in “wonderful ways.”

Although he had “never tried to live intentionally in a non-Christian way,” Brother Hannah said he hadn’t thought much about what living in a Christian way looked like.

He began to realize that, however unwittingly, he had been acquiring “a lot of the habits that many people in the world acquire.”

He listed a few: the portrayal of women as sexual objects, the pursuit of wealth “to the neglect of the poorest of the poor or as kind of an end unto itself” and the pursuit of power and ambition apart from other concerns.

Finally, Brother Hannah acknowledged that he shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed by a conscience that was bothered by such attitudes and behaviors.

Soon, he began to question all his sacrifice just for a lower score on the links. By graduation, he had left his “religion” of golf.

Freedom in Christ

In graduate school in Maryland, Brother Hannah discovered Jesus in the Eucharist at a nearby Catholic parish. “I was overcome,” he recalled when considering that Christ himself would manifest himself in “his very flesh and blood.”

In a short time, he formally joined the Catholic Church and soon discerned a religious vocation.

He then entered the Order of Preachers or Dominicans as a brother and began the road to the priesthood.

In 2007, Brother Hannah made his first religious vow – obedience. As one who was accustomed to making his own way, he considers it the hardest.

“The vow of obedience goes straight to our free will and our desire to have certain situations the way we want them,” he said.

Obedience is the answer to the “mistake of pride of taking my own desires, will, wants, needs and not being willing to see them in a wider context of other peoples’ needs and of the needs of the world and the needs of my neighbor,” he explained.

Paradoxically, “the thing I’ve gained is freedom of heart,” he observed. “There is an almost indescribable freedom in giving yourself to Christ alone, in a single-minded way.”

As a religious, “all of my energy is going into helping people discover the life of Christ, helping people discover the grace and the freedom that is in Christ.”

For instance, in Anchorage, Brother Hannah is running the catechetical programs at Holy Family Cathedral, assisting with the youth and young adult groups there and teaching a church history class at Holy Rosary Academy.

Having been through the “desert,” Brother Hannah wants to show young people, in particular, “that there are other ways to live and to give them hope,” he explained.

Referencing Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, the now casual golfer and motivated religious brother observed: “We Christians are called to run the race to obtain a crown that doesn’t perish which is eternal life.”

Printed with permission from

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Archbishop emphasizes ‘full spectrum’ Catholicism after marriage controversy

Minneapolis, Minn., Nov 6, 2010 (CNA) - Outlining his pastoral ministry, his work on immigration, and his prayerful opposition to abortion, the Archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul has said that he must speak on controversial issues. His remarks follow activist and media opposition to the Minnesota bishops’ campaign to educate Catholics about the nature of marriage.

“No bishop, and in particular this archbishop, is a ‘single-issue’ teacher,” Archbishop Niendstedt wrote in the Catholic Spirit newspaper. “I was ordained to preach and to teach the full spectrum of the Catholic faith as it is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“The media pick and choose what they want to cover in terms of controversial issues. I do not have that luxury,” he added.

Seeking to provide perspective on his work, he listed the various activities of his weekend schedule. He celebrated a Mass with members of a Catholic charismatic movement and met with the parents of the archdiocese’s 62 seminarians.

The archbishop also participated in an all-night prayer vigil with English- and Spanish-speaking parishioners to ask God for a just solution to immigration problems. By coincidence he had previously written local Knights of Columbus councils and the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women to seek their help in calling for federal immigration law reform.

On Sunday morning, he made his 155th pastoral visit to the archdiocesan parish of St. Gerard Majella in Brooklyn Park. Its “festive liturgy” and many parishioners in attendance reminded him of why he became a priest, Archbishop Nienstedt reported.

Later on Sunday, he also attended a prayer service to end abortions at Regions Hospital, a teaching institution with its own abortion unit.

“Naturally, they do not advertise the number of abortions they perform per year, but it is known that
more than 60 percent of these gruesome procedures are performed on minority women and on their unborn children,” the prelate explained.

Finally, the archbishop said, he joined two parents and their three-year-old as she went trick-or-treating. He also handed out candy at his residence.

Earlier this year the bishops of Minnesota mailed nearly 400,000 DVDs to Catholics throughout the state in response to several bills that would redefine civil marriage law to include homosexual partnerships. Archbishop Nienstedt made a video for the DVD in which he emphasized the nature of marriage as a lifelong and potentially procreative union between a man and a woman.

Laws which treated other partnerships as equal to traditional marriage would weaken society’s already damaged foundation, he warned.

The bishops’ defense of marriage drew hostile coverage from several secular media outlets, which highlighted the objections of Catholic dissenters.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune highlighted the efforts of artist Lucinda Naylor, who was suspended as a part-time artist at Minneapolis’ Basilica of St. Mary when she created a Facebook site seeking discarded copies of the DVD to build a wave sculpture.

In his Catholic Spirit column, Archbishop Nienstedt said that like St. Paul he must preach the “full, Catholic message,” whether it is “convenient or inconvenient,” while “constantly teaching and never losing patience.” (2 Timothy 4:2).

“Please pray that I live up to that high standard,” the archbishop concluded.

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