Archive of March 20, 2011

Pope Benedict prays for peace in Libya

Vatican City, Mar 20, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Responding to the widening military conflict, Pope Benedict XVI has prayed for a “horizon of peace and harmony” to arise in Libya. He also assured the people of Libya of his “heartfelt closeness.”

“The disturbing news coming from Libya has awakened in me fear and trepidation,” Pope Benedict told the faithful in St. Peter’s Square after the traditional Sunday Angelus prayers. He reported that he had offered a “special prayer” about the state of affairs in Libya during his Lenten spiritual exercises last week.

The pontiff called on those in positions of military and political responsibility to have at heart the safety and security of citizens and to ensure access to humanitarian aid.

“I pray for those involved in the dramatic situation in that country,” the Pope said.

The Libyan government, headed by Col. Moammar Ghadafi, has responded with severity to protests and rebel groups which began to oppose him openly on Feb. 17.

NGOs such as the New York City-based Human Rights Watch charged that Libyan government forces have fired upon unarmed civilians, have made arbitrary arrests and have caused the disappearances of “scores of people” since the protests began.

In the rebel capital of Benghazi 95 people were killed and an unknown number injured in a March 19 assault by government forces, CNN reports.

The United States, the United Kingdom and France began to enforce a United Nations-approved no-fly zone on March 19. The allied nations’ fighter jets, bombers and missiles have hit Libyan military positions in what is being called “Operation Odyssey Dawn.”

Libyan officials said the allied military action left at least 48 people dead.

The Libyan military called for an immediate cease-fire on Sunday.

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St. Turibius, patron of Latin America, remembered March 23

CNA STAFF, Mar 20, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholics in Latin America and throughout the world will celebrate the life and ministry of St. Turibius of Mogrovejo on March 23. The 16th century bishop upheld the rights of Peru's indigenous peoples, and became one of the first canonized saints of the Americas.

Turibius was born in Spain during 1538, to a noble family in the kingdom of Leon. He frequently prayed, fasted, and gave to the poor even as a child, and eventually developed the daily habit of praying the Rosary along with the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He went on to study the law at the University of Salamanca, and was eventually served as a judge for five years in the territory of Granada. His judicial wisdom and diligence drew the attention of King Philip II, who wanted Turibius – who was still a layman – to be consecrated as a missionary archbishop for the Spanish colony of Peru.

Turibius became greatly dismayed, protesting to the king and Church authorities that he was not even a priest and could not possibly accept the charge. In a series of letters, he pled that he was not personally capable of serving as the Archbishop of Lima – nor, he reminded them, did canon law permit a layman to become an archbishop.

Eventually, however, he had little choice but to comply. He was consecrated as a bishop in 1581, at the age of 43, and immediately left for Lima, Peru.

The new archbishop undertook to travel throughout the rugged and mountainous diocese, where he observed many of the worst effects of colonialism – both upon the enslaved and oppressed natives, and on many of the colonists who seemed to have lost their souls in the pursuit of wealth.

He responded with constant prayer and penance, as he traveled throughout his territory administering the sacraments, teaching the Catholic faith, and establishing schools, seminaries and hospitals.

To the indigenous Peruvians, the archbishop was a herald of the Gospel who held their lives as more precious than their country's supplies of gold and silver. But to the many colonists whose behavior showed no sign of their Catholic origins, he was a prophetic scourge – whose efforts to awaken the public conscience earned him rebukes and opposition.

Turibius ultimately managed to make three visitations of his diocese, under rugged and dangerous conditions, which occupied about half of his 25 years as Archbishop of Lima. He united the Peruvian Church at an administrative level by holding several local councils of its clergy, but was also known to spend days traveling to reach a single individual with the message of Christ.

The archbishop became seriously ill in 1606. He sensed that his death was imminent, and decreed that his possessions should be distributed to the poor. St. Turibius died on March 23, and his body was found to be incorrupt the next year. He was declared a saint in 1726, and is now regarded as the patron of native peoples' rights and the Latin American bishops.

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CNA launches new 'Catholic Men' column to affirm men in lay vocations

Denver, Colo., Mar 20, 2011 (CNA) - Catholic News Agency is launching a new online resource, focusing on the experiences and spiritual lives of Catholic men in order to strengthen them in their commitments to marriage, fatherhood, and the single life.

The new column, “Catholic Men,” will premier on Monday, March 21 and will feature contributions from men in diverse fields of expertise on topics relating to lay men within the Church. 

“Through this column, we hope to encourage guys to embrace the adventure of their lay vocation – as single or married men – and to bring their unique masculine virtues into their lives of faith, prayer, family and profession,” said organizer Brian Caulfield.

Caulfield – editor of the website “Fathers for Good,” an initiative of the Knights of Columbus that provides resources on Christian fatherhood – explained that the “Cathlolic Men” column on CNA is an extension of that ministry.

A father of two young boys, Caulfield emphasized that members of the faith “need to show laymen how much they are needed within the Catholic Church, and that there is a place for them even if they are not called to priesthood.”

“As we can see from popular culture, true masculine virtues and strength are not highly valued today,” he added. “Men are portrayed as either ineffective husbands and fathers, or dangerous psychological agents who use their strength to harm society or to seduce and use women.”

“In so many social, legal and cultural settings, the natural masculine instinct to protect, provide and guide is seen as unnecessary,” leaving men “to struggle with their role and identity,” Caulfield said.

He also noted that recent studies show how more women than men attend Sunday Mass, and “a good number of those women are mothers with young kids who sit in the pews without their husbands.”

“This is a crisis of major importance,” Caulfield said.

CNA will be posting new contributions to “Catholic Men” every Monday alongside its daily coverage of news pertaining to the Church around the world. The column can be accessed through banners on CNA's main page or by clicking here.

Caulfield said that he, along with seven other columnists, will contribute to the site on a rotating basis.

“These are men who are accomplished bloggers or have a special expertise in the issues relating to manhood and fatherhood,” he said.

Monday's edition will feature Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, a Catholic psychiatrist who writes about marital relationships and Dr. Peter Kleponis, a Catholic psychologist who addresses the effects of pornography and raising teens.

Andrew Haines, a blogger-philosopher discusses moral and social topics in his pieces and Daniel Lord – a composer and musician – writes on cultural issues.

“Catholic Men” will also include articles from Devin Rose – a dad who, with his wife, has adopted four children – Jason Godin, a young college professor who writes about domestic life and Michael Brewer, head of the College Knights of Columbus program.

“I hope the 'Catholic Men' section gives voice to the issues that affect men as they live out their vocations to marriage and fatherhood,” Caulfield said. 

“We will strive to give men the tools they need to engage today's culture, to help them become strong and faithful men, and to affirm that the Church indeed has a place for men outside of the ordained ministry,” he added.

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Jesus’ transfiguration shows his ‘divine glory,’ Pope Benedict explains

Vatican City, Mar 20, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Transfiguration reveals Christ’s divinity and shows that he alone is the true home of the Christian, Pope Benedict XVI told thousands of Catholics gathered for the Sunday Angelus.

Speaking from the balcony of his apartment, the Pope discussed the passage from Matthew 17 in which Jesus leads Peter, James and John up a high mountain where Christ is then transfigured before them. “His face shone like the sun and his garments became white as light,” the Gospel reads.

“According to the senses, the light of the sun is the most intense ever known in nature,” Benedict XVI noted. “But according to the spirit, the disciples saw for a short time a brightness more intense: that of the divine glory of Jesus, which illuminates the whole history of salvation.”

Citing the first volume of his work “Jesus of Nazareth,” the Pope said the Transfiguration reveals “the profound interpenetration of his being with God, which then becomes pure light. In his oneness with the Father, Jesus is himself ‘light from light’.”

St. Maximus the Confessor saw the change in Jesus’ clothes as symbolic of the words of Sacred Scripture which become clear, transparent and bright, the Pope added.

Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets, also appeared at the Transfiguration. This prompted Peter to suggest that the disciples set up three tents for them and Jesus. But Moses and Elijah vanished.

St. Augustine, commenting on this passage, said this shows that the Christian has only one home: Christ.

“He is the Word of God, the Word of God in the Law, the Word of God in the Prophets,” St. Augustine wrote.

The disciples, contemplating the divinity of the Lord, are thus prepared to confront the scandal of the cross, Pope Benedict explained.

“Dear friends, we too share this vision and this supernatural gift,” the Pope continued, urging Catholics to make space for prayer and to listen to the Word of God.

He also expressed thanks for his recent Lenten spiritual exercises, concluded on March 19.

In his words after the Angelus to English-speaking pilgrims, the Pope added:

“As we continue our journey through Lent, today at Mass we recall the Transfiguration of the Lord and how it prepared the Apostles for the coming scandal of the Cross. Strengthened by our faith in Jesus, true God and true man, may we be inspired, not scandalized, by the Cross given to our Savior and to our fellow Christians who suffer with him throughout the world.

“Especially during this holy season, I invoke upon you and your families God’s abundant blessings!”

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Couple shares marriage preparation through blog

Kansas City, Mo., Mar 20, 2011 (CNA) - Once upon a time, a bride-to-be confided her hopes and thoughts on her upcoming marriage to only a few — her sister, a best friend, perhaps only to her diary.

Today, thanks in part to Pope Benedict’s continuous call for both lay people and the Church to use social media to evangelize and spread the Gospel message, on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops web site,, a young couple blogs about their courtship, their engagement and their preparation for Catholic marriage.

Sara Carlson, 24, and Justin Kraft, 35, have just started to blog. In fact as of March 7, their second post was up on the site. Their blog is entitled, “Learning to Say I Do.” The couple met three years ago through a Kansas City-St. Joseph diocesan Young Adult Ministry “City on A Hill” retreat, and plan to marry June 25 at St. Francis Xavier Church in St. Joseph.

Sara grew up in a small town in the Iowa corn belt, and graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville with a double degree in Business Management and Marketing. During a summer internship in public relations at the amusement park, Worlds of Fun, Sara fell in love with “the hustle and bustle” of Kansas City, and moved here after graduation. She had been active in the Newman Center at NW Missouri State, which led her to work for the church, taking the job as communications coordinator for St. Charles Borromeo Parish.

Justin, a native of South Dakota, served as a Fellowship of Catholic University Students, FOCUS, missionary for four years, before obtaining his doctorate from the University of Alabama. He now teaches exercise science at Missouri Western University in St. Joseph, and serves as faculty advisor for the university’s Newman Center.

The couple is going through the diocesan marriage preparation, in addition to full-time jobs, wedding planning and phone calls to each other every night at 9 p.m.

“Learning to put together a budget for two,” Justin said, “make decisions that aren’t just good for me but good for us, and deal with issues that are a part of marriage, hey, this is everyday life. I’m trying to start valuing my time with Sara as I will when we’re married. And we learn to make accommodations. But I’m gaining more than I’m giving up.”

Sara nodded. “Engagement is so hard,” she said. “But I know that at the end of the day, we will be married.”

Learning to budget for two led to Sara and Justin becoming bloggers. “I had been following (another) Sarah on the web site,” Sara said, “following her marriage, pregnancy and the birth of her son. I learned she was quitting the blog and we began talking about bringing in some extra income about the same time. I contacted Sarah, and she connected me with the U.S. Bishops and, well, Justin and I are starting our blog.”

Sara pointed out that there is a difference in preparing for marriage and preparing for the wedding. Marriage prep can be difficult, “but I’ve learned a lot,” Justin said. “I’ve discovered new things about Sara, and that keeps it exciting!”

And blogging about the next six months will keep this time evergreen.

The web site is part of the U.S. Bishops’ National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage, a multi-year project aimed at communicating the meaning and value of marriage and married life for the Church and society. Initiated at the end of 2004, the project is now in the final year of its implementation phase. Through printed and online materials, social media, including Facebook and the “Learning to Say I Do” blog, the bishops hope to promote, strengthen, sustain and even restore marriages; to build a culture of marriage. Some of the goals of NPIM include showing a pastoral concern for strengthening marriage in all its stages and circumstances through listening to the experiences of the Christian faithful and stimulating a stronger witness by couples themselves to the value of marriage. Sara and Justin will share their experiences, thoughts and revelations on marriage through the blog.

“What’s really neat is that Justin and I try to live purposeful lives,” Sara said. “We’ve all heard the Gospel message about being light for the rest of the world. It’s humbling when you’re given an opportunity to live that call on a large scale.”

Sara was surprised at how many of her friends and acquaintances had already seen the first post, which was up March 1. “I heard a lot of comments at Reservoir (a City on a Hill monthly prayer service) on March 3. It was astonishing to see the people who have seen it and read it!”

Justin smiled. “Sara uses social media, like the blog, to evangelize,” he said with a chuckle. “She posted it on my Facebook page! And she tells everyone I’m quality control.” Sara added that she continues to reflect on Pope Benedict’s words — “how can I be a sign of Christ’s love both in my face-to-face relationships, and in my online relationships.”

Justin turned serious. “If a young man came to me and asked me how did I feel about giving up my freedom for the commitment of marriage, I would tell him, there is freedom in that commitment. Once I took the step to commit to Sara, I found there is a lot of freedom in not just living for myself.”

Sara agreed. “There is a big freedom in being constant, in joyfully anticipating the commitment of marriage. Facing each day that God has put before you can be freeing in itself.”

Justin and Sara urge friends, family and even strangers to join them as they prepare for marriage. “Read about the advice we’ve received from well meaning people, the Marriage Preparation program, even my horrible wedding dress shopping experience! I hope we touch whoever God wants us to touch in whatever way God allows us to,” Sara said.

Sara and Justin will continue to blog for six months “so we’ll have about a month after the wedding to wrap up our wedding and honeymoon experiences.”

By following the blog, Justin said, “I hope that people will see that preparing for marriage is full of ups and downs and wonderfuls!”

Printed with permission from the Catholic Key, newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Missouri.

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