Barcelona, Spain, Nov 8, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI used his weekend pilgrimage to Spain, Nov. 6-7, to outline his vision for the "re-evangelization" not only of Spain, but of Europe and the West.
From his first words to his last, the Pope’s message was focused on drawing from Spain’s Christian roots — the great legacy of saints such as John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, and Francis Xavier — and nourishing what he called a “faith sown already at the dawn of Christianity, one which blossomed and grew in the warmth of countless examples of holiness, giving rise to countless institutions of beneficence, culture and education.”
The Pope set the tone for his trip on the flight to Santiago. He spoke of what has emerged as a central theme of his pontificate, the “challenge of secularism” in the West and the need for the Church to confront it.
In his arrival speech, the Pope once more sounded the theme: “I too wish 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,” he said. “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.”
Although Spain still counts nearly three-quarters of its population as Catholic, less than 15 percent of the nation's more than 40 million people participate in Church life.
Pope Benedict hit repeatedly on the importance of upholding the value of human life in all forms, especially those who are most vulnerable as a key part of the Catholic message to a secularized society.
Medicine should never be used in ways that are disrespectful for human life and dignity, the Pope explained. He called for state aid for the “sacred and inviolable” lives of children from the moment of their conception. He also encouraged social and economic assistance for women so that they can find “full development” at home or work, support for men and women in their marriages, and assistance for growing families.
Strong and faithful families are necessary to the future and vitality of society, the Pope said, calling "the renewal of the family as society's fundamental cell" the "great theme" of today.
In a Mass celebrated for 7,000 faithful in Santiago's Obradoiro Square on the first day of the trip, the Pope used his homily to again urge a renewed struggle against secularism. "Europe must open itself to God, must come to meet him without fear, and work with his grace for that human dignity which was discerned by her best traditions," he said.
There is a need, he added, “to hear God once again under the skies of Europe.” He hoped that “this holy word not be spoken in vain,” and that it would not serve purposes other than its own. “It needs to be spoken in a holy way. And we must hear it in this way in ordinary life, in the silence of work, in brotherly love and in the difficulties that years bring on.”
In Barcelona on the second day of the journey, during the dedication Mass to consecrate the altar of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Pope Benedict drew inspiration from the architect Antoni Gaudi's vision in building his masterpiece. He referred to the dedication of the church as “an event of great importance” in the context of “a time in which man claims to be able to build his life without God, as if God had nothing to say to him.”
Gaudi's masterpiece "shows us that God is the true measure of man, that the secret of authentic originality consists ... in returning to one’s origin which is God," said Benedict XVI.
In Santiago, the Holy Father spoke of the Church as a companion of man on the journey in search of truth, "yearning for complete fulfillment."
The words that followed could be considered the core of his message for the "new evangelization" of Spain and the West. The Church's mission, he said, is "to be among men and women an ever greater presence of Christ."
Analysts said the Pope’s words found a welcome among the Spanish faithful. Father Daniel Lorenzo, who heads a Spanish Church commission on art and culture, took part in the celebrations at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. He told CNA that the Pope's message was one asking the people to live in an ever more intense communion within the Church and also with him as the Successor of Peter.
The Pope called them to return to the faith, "with rigor, " Father Lorenzo said, and after Mass, "to approach these times and the future with strength and courage, united in the faith and in dialogue with God."
Having attended the consecration of the newest basilica in the Catholic Church, Fr. Juan Rubio Fernandez, director of Spain's Catholic Magazine "Vida Nueva," told CNA that the act was "very symbolic" in being an important religious act in a "highly secularized area." It was a call to courage to all Spanish to live their faith openly, not "defending" it but "proposing" it to society, he said.
To live and transmit the message of transcendence, considering something beyond this earth, is thus a type of "goal" Spain's Catholics have taken from the act, he added. The dedication Mass also had strong symbolism for society as proof that faith and secularism can live together and have a common place in society, he said.
And, while this message has been pronounced by the Pope during other trips to widely secular parts of Europe like London, Paris or Prague, giving it in Barcelona, where there is a "strong impulse to the aggressive secularism is significant," said the priest.
In this context, he said, the Church's new evangelization through the new pontifical council does not wish to be a new form of "crusade," rather, it is "a rebirth of the faith."
Vatican City, Nov 8, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - On the eve of the consistory to create 24 new cardinals, the princes of the Church will examine the entry of Anglicans into full communion with the Church and the Holy See's response to sex abuse in the Church.
Pope Benedict XVI's successor at the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, will present the themes.
Capping a "day of reflection and prayer," the cardinals will take a look at three current and particularly sensitive themes.
The announcement came in a statement to journalists from the Holy See which outlined the schedule for the Nov. 19 retreat of the College of Cardinals. The schedule for the day before the highly anticipated cardinal-creating consistory includes discussions about religious freedom and "the liturgy in the life of the Church today."
After praying vespers, the cardinals and cardinal-designates will examine three important issues in today's Church. The first theme, proposed by prefect and cardinal-designate Angelo Amato, will reflect on 10 years since the publication of the "Dominus Iesus," the declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the universal salvation offered by Jesus Christ and the Church.
The second and third themes will be presented by Cardinal Levada. One of them will address Benedict XVI's Apostolic Constitution “Anglicanorum coetibus," which offers Anglicans a way to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church in the form of personal ordinariates. Ordinariates are special jurisdictions within the Church that allow members to worship according to a specific traditions.
The first ordinariate is expected to be created quite soon in the U.K. Five Anglican bishops announced their resignations on Nov. 8 in pursuit of full communion with the Catholic Church.
The second presentation by Cardinal Levada is titled "The response of the Church to cases of sexual abuse." The theme is unprecedented, at least publicly, among cardinals' collegial discussions.
The Holy See released a "Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations" last April. The Nov. 19 discussions, however, will take place behind closed doors.
Pre-consistory retreats are not a novelty in Pope Benedict's pontificate, according to Vatican analyst Sandro Magister. Before the last consistory in 2007, cardinals examined ecumenical dialogue and general issues in the Church. In 2006, themes included the mission of retired bishops, full communion with the Society of St. Pius X, liturgical reform and Catholic-Muslim relations.
The College of Cardinals is currently composed of more than 200 members. The 24 newly-elected members will be made cardinals on Nov. 20.
Rome, Italy, Nov 8, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Five Anglican bishops announced their resignations from the Church of England today so that they can enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.
The decision to resign made by Bishops Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, John Broadhurst, Edwin Barnes and David Silk was welcomed by Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster in a message on Nov. 8.
Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams said that he accepted the resignations of Bishops Burnham and Newton with regret. Bishop Broadhurst had been serving as the head of Forward in Faith, a traditional coalition of Anglicans, while Bishops Barnes and Silk are retired bishops.
Bishop Hopes, the point man for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales on forming an Anglican jurisdiction, said that under the guidelines set forth by the Pope in "Anglicanorum Coetibus," the Church will establish an "Ordinariate for England and Wales" for those wishing to enter the Catholic Church.
Benedict XVI released the guidelines for the creation of ordinariates in Nov. 2009, after receiving inquiries from groups of Anglicans who were dismayed at the ordination of women and practicing homosexuals as bishops.
Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi said on Nov. 8, 2010 that the Vatican "can confirm that the constitution of a first Ordinariate is under study, according to the norms established by the Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum coetibus,’ and that any further decisions regarding this will be communicated at the proper moment.”
He explained that because of their desire to become part of the Catholic Church, the bishops were "obliged by conscience" to step down from their posts within the Church of England.
The bishops themselves released a joint communique noting their discontent at a growing divide between Catholics and Anglicans and their distress at developments in the Anglican Church, which they find "incompatible" with its historic vocation and tradition.
The issue pushing the bishops to make the decision to "cross over" to Rome was the result of a vote during the Anglican General Synod last July. The majority of bishops voted to pass legislation allowing for the ordination of women. This was the breaking point for some of those who held closer to a traditional form of Anglicanism.
The five bishops, who are to step down entirely from their pastoral responsibilities on Dec. 31, 2010, called the Pope's ordinariate measure "both a generous response to various approaches to the Holy See for help and a bold, new ecumenical instrument in the search for the unity of Christians, the unity for which Christ himself prayed before his Passion and Death."
"It is a unity, we believe, which is possible only in Eucharistic communion with the successor of St Peter."
The five prelates invited those who share their perspective to follow them.
Bishop Hopes said the Catholic bishops of England and Wales will be exploring the creation of the first ordinariate during their plenary meetings next week. More information will follow their discussions, he said.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Nov 8, 2010 (CNA) - Auxiliary Bishop Antonio Marino of La Plata, Argentina has warned Catholics not to fall into a relativistic mentality. As an example, he pointed to the sexual education text books recommended by the country's Ministry of Education.
“There are things that are morally and intrinsically evil and can never be turned into something good no matter what the circumstance or intended purpose,” the bishop explained last week. He then listed examples of these intrinsic evils: abortion, same-sex “marriage” and “imposing a teaching on children that contradicts the morals of their parents.”
This kind of moral relativism is reflected in the “Comprehensive Sexual Education Journal” recommended by Argentina’s Ministry of Education, the bishop cautioned.
He pointed out that while relativism is portrayed as the “foundation for tolerance, dialogue, and freedom of expression—all of which are values that make democracy possible,” the imposition of such a mentality makes it impossible to speak of absolute truths and rights such as the right to life and the institution of marriage.
Rome, Italy, Nov 8, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Jorge Solorzano of Granada, Nicaragua reminded Catholics that the Church must evangelize, by bringing “hope to all people.” The bishop made his comments on Oct 30, during the closing of the Month of the Missions in Nicaragua.
“The Church must be missionary, to bring the words of encouragement and hope to all people, alongside the laity. Although we also do social work, our main mission is to evangelize."
"The first missionary who needs to go knocking door to door is the bishop, then each priest in his parish," he stated according to Fides news agency.
He pointed to the Aparecida document, issued after the meeting of Latin American bishops in 2007, which states that "the encounter with Christ should give the joy of being disciples of the Lord and being sent with the treasure of Gospel. Being a Christian is not a burden, but a gift: God the Father has blessed us in Jesus Christ his Son, the Savior of the world."
The closing of the Month of Missions was held in the town of Diria, Nicaragua. Nearly 3,000 young people attended.
Guadalajara, Mexico, Nov 8, 2010 (CNA) - Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez of Guadalajara reported last week that Mexican parishes are experiencing an increase in theft.
According to the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, the surge is being fueled by specific requests from collectors. Pieces that before were worth three or four thousand dollars” are now fetching “eight to 10 thousand dollars,” said Father Juan Gonzalez, a spokesman for the archdiocese.
“It’s very easy to steal oil paintings, because the thieves take advantage of a momentary oversight or an empty church in order to steal paintings,” Cardinal Sandoval said. He urged pastors to keep their parishes secure and to close them when there are no services being held.
The archdiocese said it will compile an inventory of art pieces that are housed in its parishes and will reinforce preventive measures against break-ins.
Vatican City, Nov 8, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - As part of a continuing intitiative aimed at improving understanding between Christians and Muslims, a Vatican delegation will be taking part in a three-day discussion on religion and society in Iran.
From Nov. 9-11, representatives from the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and heads from the Catholic Church in Iran will meet with members of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization to discuss "Religion and Society: Christian and Muslim perspectives."
This is the seventh meeting between representatives from both sides. According to the Islamic organization, discussions will focus on three papers analyzing the contemporary opportunities and challenges to religion and society as well as philosophical, theological, historical and legal approaches to the theme.
Dr. Mohammad Bagher Khorramshad, Iran's deputy minister for foreign affairs and director of the Islamic relations group, is to chair the proceedings.
The Vatican delegation is being led by Cardinal president Jean-Louis Tauran of the Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.