Archive of November 14, 2010

Pope Benedict notes agriculture’s importance on Italy’s Thanksgiving Day

Vatican City, Nov 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Giving thanks to God for “the fruit of the earth and of human work,” Pope Benedict has called agriculture an “indispensable resource for the future” that is not given enough importance today.

His words came during the Angelus prayer at St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 14, Italy's traditional Thanksgiving Day. It is celebrated on the second Sunday of November to mark the end of the harvest.

"(A) strategic relaunching of agriculture seems decisive" In a global economic development model due for a "deep revision," said the pontiff.

He pointed to symptoms of failure in the global model in the continuing economic crisis, a persistent imbalance between wealth and poverty, the "scandal" of hunger, the "ecological emergency" and unemployment.

In an age when the agricultural sector has lost importance, he said, "it seems to me (to be) the moment for a call to re-evaluate agriculture not in the nostalgic sense, but as an indispensable resource for the future."

Great economies seek advantageous alliances in business to the detriment of poorer nations, Earth's natural resources are "drying up" and long industrialized States promote lifestyles in favor of unsustainable consumption that harms the environment and the poor, he said.

What is needed, explained the Pope, is a "truly concerted" effort to create "a new equilibrium between agriculture, industry and services, so that development may be sustainable, no one is without bread and work, and the air, water and other primary resources may be preserved as universal goods."

The cultivation and protection of a "clear ethical consciousness" to approach today's complex challenges is fundamental, he said. People need to be educated to wiser and more responsible consumption behaviors and the social dimension of rural life must be based on longstanding values such as hospitality, solidarity and sharing the workload.
He welcomed the fact that college graduates are also returning to the fields, not only for personal or family needs, but because of "a concrete sensibility for the common good."

Pope Benedict XVI prayed that that his words might stimulate the international community to rediscover the importance of agriculture.

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Catholics to celebrate St. Elizabeth of Hungary, princess who embraced poverty

CNA STAFF, Nov 14, 2010 (CNA) - On Nov. 17, the Catholic Church will celebrate the life and example of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a medieval noblewoman who responded to personal tragedy by embracing St. Francis' ideals of poverty and service. A patron of secular Franciscans, she is especially beloved to Germans, as well as the faithful of her native Hungary.

As the daughter of the Hungarian King Andrew II, Elizabeth had the responsibilities of royalty thrust upon her almost as soon as her short life began in 1207. While she was still very young, Elizabeth's father arranged for her to be married to a German nobleman, Ludwig of Thuringia.

The plan forced Elizabeth to separate from her parents while still a child. Adding to this sorrow was the murder of Elizabeth's mother Gertrude in 1213, which history ascribes to a conflict between her own German people and the Hungarian nobles. Elizabeth took a solemn view of life and death from that point on, and found consolation in prayer. Both tendencies drew some ire from her royal peers.

For a time, beginning in 1221, she was happily married. Ludwig, who had advanced to become one of the rulers of Thuringia, supported Elizabeth's efforts to live out the principles of the Gospel even within the royal court. She met with friars of the nascent Franciscan order during its founder's own lifetime, resolving to use her position as queen to advance their mission of charity.

Remarkably, Ludwig agreed with his wife's resolution, and the politically powerful couple embraced a life of remarkable generosity toward the poor. They had three children, two of whom went on to live as as members of the nobility, although one of them –her only son– died relatively young. The third eventually entered religious life and became abbess of a German convent.

In 1226, while Ludwig was attending to political affairs in Italy, Elizabeth took charge of distributing aid to victims of disease and flooding that struck Thuringia. She took charge of caring for the afflicted, even when this required giving up the royal family's own clothes and goods. Elizabeth arranged for a hospital to be built, and is said to have provided for the needs of nearly a thousand desperately poor people on a daily basis.

The next year, however, would put Elizabeth's faith to the test. Her husband had promised to assist the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the Sixth Crusade, but he died of illness en route to Jerusalem. Devastated by Ludwig's death, Elizabeth vowed never to remarry. Her children were sent away, and relatives heavily pressured her to break the vow.

Undeterred, Elizabeth used her remaining money to build another hospital, where she personally attended to the sick almost constantly. Sending away her servants, she joined the Third Order of St. Francis, seeking to emulate the example of its founder as closely as her responsibilities would allow. Near the end of her life, she lived in a small hut and spun her own clothes.

Working continually with the severely ill, Elizabeth became sick herself, dying of illness in November of 1231. After she died, miraculous healings soon began to occur at her grave near the hospital, and she was declared a saint only four years later.

Pope Benedict XVI recently praised her as a “model for those in authority,” noting the continuity between her personal love for God, and her public work on behalf of the poor and sick.

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Arkansas priest heard the call of God in early childhood

Little Rock, Ark., Nov 14, 2010 (CNA) - Father Donald Murrin, SVD, pastor of St. Peter Church and St. Raphael Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas never wavered in the childhood choice to become a priest.

"I always wanted to be a priest. I remember raising my hand in the first grade when our pastor asked who wanted to be a priest or sister -- that's when I first remember the call," Father Murrin said. "I was at church all the time. It was only a half-a-block away. It was just part of us."

In first grade, multiple hands shot up when their pastor asked the children about vocations. Over the years, he said he watched the number dwindle. But his hand always remained steady.

"I never changed my mind," he said. "No one was surprised that I became a priest."

Father Murrin grew up in Greenville, Pa., which is five miles from Ohio. His mother died when he was only two years old, so his aunt helped his father raise him and his brother. His father later remarried, so Father Murrin also has four half-brothers and four half-sisters.

When he wanted to enter the seminary at 13 years old, his father said he was too young. His brother, Nelson, proposed a solution. He too would go to the seminary.

His brother was a year older than Father Murrin but missed a year because of rheumatic fever, which put the two in the same grade.

"At the time, I didn't give it another thought other than it meant I could go," Father Murrin said. "He made that sacrifice to go with me even though he did not have the desire to become a priest. Without him, I would not have gone."

He was ordained as a member of Society of the Divine Word, also known as the Divine Word Missionaries, on April 2, 1960.

He has served at predominately African-American parishes from Chicago and St. Louis to Mississippi and Arkansas.

"I always wanted to be in a black parish -- the humanness of it and the beauty of it -- my heart was taken with the parish," he said. "It is a beautiful place to be. It's been a wonderful experience. It's focused my spirituality. I feel very much a part of this faith community."

Father Murrin served at St. Bartholomew in Little Rock for six years before transferring in 2003 to St. Peter Church in Pine Bluff where he is pastor. He is also pastor at St. Raphael Church in Pine Bluff and sacramental minister at St. Justin in Star City.

St. Peter Church also has a school where Father Murrin teaches phonics to kindergarteners. The parish has both English and Spanish Masses on Sundays.

He learned Spanish because a parishioner planned to take a class, so he also decided to go. The parishioner didn't show up for the classes, but Father Murrin did.

"What I like to look at are the times God touched my life and gave it the direction he wanted. These epiphanies weren't the strong heavy winds rending the mountains and crushing rocks -- or the earthquakes or fire, but Elijah's soft, gentle breeze," he said in a homily in April about his 50 years as a priest.

After celebrating his 50-year jubilee, Father Murrin said he is still ready to follow God's call.

"As long as I can keep on going," he said, "I will put one foot in front of the other. I don't mean playing sports or anything like that. As long as I can, and as long as they'll have me, I'm committed to keep on going."

Printed with permission from Arkansas Catholic, newspaper from the Diocese of Little Rock.

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At Angelus, Pope encourages Haitian and Iraqi disaster victims

Vatican City, Nov 14, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Benedict XVI noted several special causes for prayer after he recited the Angelus at noon on Nov. 14. He particularly expressed his “closeness” to the people of Haiti now suffering from a cholera epidemic and he prayed for peace in war-torn Iraq.

The Haitian epidemic comes in the aftermath of last January’s devastating earthquake.

"I encourage all of those who are doing their best for this new emergency and, while I assure my particular memory in prayer, I make an appeal to the international community so that it might generously aid those populations," the pontiff remarked.

He also remembered the people of Iraq during his greetings as he invoked "the gift of peace" for their nation. Iraqi Christians have suffered greatly in the past two weeks. An Al Qaida-linked group massacred churchgoers at Baghdad’s Syrian Catholic cathedral on Oct. 31 and Christian homes in the city were targeted for bombings just days later.

In his words after the Angelus, he also spoke of the coming "Vigil for All Nascent Human Life" scheduled for Nov. 27. The prayer vigil will coincide with the celebration of first vespers on the First Sunday of Advent.

"The time of preparation for Holy Christmas is a favorable moment to invoke divine protection over each human being called to existence, also as thanksgiving to God for the gift of life received from our parents," he said.

He has invited all Churches and individual parishes and church groups to take part. The U.S. bishops have provided different options for the observance of the prayer vigil including different combinations of the Evening Prayer, a Marian procession, the Rosary and Benediction.

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Converting Anglican bishop says papal action changed the landscape

Richborough, England, Nov 14, 2010 (CNA) - The Anglican Bishop of Richborough told his flock that he plans to become Catholic because Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution “completely changed the landscape” for Anglo-Catholics and he now believes that he must lead the way to union with the Universal Church.

Bishop Keith Newton of Richborough, England said in a pastoral letter to priests and people in the Richborough area that he will resign as bishop as of Dec. 31. He will not conduct any public episcopal services. This “difficult” decision followed much thought and prayer, he remarked.

“I will, in due course, be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and join the Ordinariate when one is erected in England, which I hope will happen early next year.”

Pope Benedict established the proposed Anglican Ordinariate, a special jurisdiction within the Catholic Church, in his apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus.”

Bishop Newton explained that although the issue of the ordination of women as Anglican bishops has been an important factor in his decision, it is “not the most significant.”

Noting the “surprise” of the Pope’s action on Anglican-Catholic relations, he said that most Anglicans have prayed for union with the Catholic Church. However, this union has seemed less likely because of “the new difficulties concerning the ordination of women and other doctrinal and moral issues affecting the Anglican Communion.”

“Although we must still pray for sacramental and ecclesial unity between our Churches that now seems a much more distant hope,” Bishop Newton said. The ordinariates provide an opportunity for “visible unity” and Anglicans are able to retain “what is best in our own tradition which will enrich the Universal Church.”

“I hope you will understand that I am not taking this step in faith for negative reasons about problems in the Church of England but for positive reasons in response to our Lord’s prayer the night before he died the ‘they may all be one’,” the bishop continued.

While expressing sympathy with the position that Anglicans with traditional views need leadership at a “vital” time, he rejected the example of a leader who should “stay to the bitter end like the captain of a sinking ship.” Rather, he noted the scriptural image of the shepherd, who must lead his flock from the front rather than follow it from behind.

“This is what I hope I am doing. I am leading the way and I hope and pray that many of you will follow me in the months and the years ahead,” he explained.

Bishop Newton acknowledged those who want to remain in the Church of England, but he said he could not continue to be their bishop “with any integrity” and cannot provide the episcopal leadership they deserve.

“You need a new Bishop of Richborough who has the same vision as you have and one for whom a solution in the Church of England is a priority. My priority is union with the Universal Church,” he added.

He said he has enjoyed being Bishop of Richborough for more than eight years and is grateful for the support he has received from so many Anglican priests and laity. The bishop asked forgiveness from those he has disappointed and sought continued prayers for himself and his wife.

Bishop Newton is one of three active Anglican bishops who are joining the Catholic Church. These so-called “flying bishops” have been serving Anglicans in different areas who do not accept the ordination of women to the priesthood and other changes in the Anglican Church.

Two retired Anglican bishops are also entering full communion with Rome.

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