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Archive of March 27, 2011

Catholic youth create videos for internet contest

Louisville, Ky., Mar 27, 2011 (CNA) - Young Catholic filmmakers have produced inspirational YouTube videos with Catholic themes as part of a contest to help evangelize others about the faith.

The Kentucky-based Catholic youth media group Goodness Reigns is running the contest, whose entrants include youth groups and individuals aged 14 and older from all skill levels. They have submitted short films on Church teachings, the sacraments, Church history, the lives of the saints and examples of the contemporary mission spirit.

Goodness Reigns’ People’s Choice Award promises a $1,000 cash prize to the winner of an internet vote.

Entrants are also competing in the “Share the Story” short film contest. On April 1 contest organizers will announce winners, who may choose either video equipment packages or all-inclusive travel packages to World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid, Spain.

The entries come from 25 U.S. states and Canada, India, Mexico and Pakistan.

As of Friday afternoon, the People’s Choice vote leader was a video titled “The Sacrament of Divine Mercy.” It retells a story from the life of St. John Bosco in which Satan tries to demoralize a priest and his congregation about the effectiveness of confession.

Another leading video, “The Ten Plagues,” reinterpets the biblical plagues in a high school setting. The video “Finding John Doe” involves a troubled girl contemplating suicide, while another, “Morning Star Family Holy Hour,” describes the Holy Hour at a children’ prayer group in New York state.

The contest will help create a repository of short films for catechists and the general public, organizers said.

Gabriel Castillo, director of evangelization at St. Theresa’s Church in Sugarland, Texas, praised the contest.

“Now youth groups and teachers will have a safe place to send their students and peers to get solid Catholic information presented in creative ways,” she said.

The website for the People’s Choice vote is http://www.goodnessreigns.com/vote

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Rhode Island diocese welcomes immigration dialogue

Providence, R.I., Mar 27, 2011 (CNA) - The Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island was built upon and prospered because of the faith, sacrifices and contributions of many ethnic communities, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin explained during a recent symposium entitled, “Immigrants and Immigration in the 21st Century,”at Brown University.

According the U.S. Census Bureau, 133, 000 Rhode Island residents are foreign-born. According to the Pew Center, 20,000-30,000 of the state’s foreign-born residents are unauthorized immigrants. Brown University offered an opportunity for researchers, faith leaders and policy makers to come together as a community to discuss local views and attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy in the state in hopes to work toward a greater awareness of the issue.

The daylong conference focused immigration issues inspired by a new survey conducted by the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions, and the John Hazen White Public Opinion Laboratory at Brown. The survey reflected the views of Rhode Islanders on issues of immigration in their community and beyond.

Bishop Tobin served as the keynote speaker for the conference, offering his reflections on the issue. He emphasized that the Catholic Church has been concerned with the immigration question and responding to the needs of the immigrant community for a long time and added that the Church has continued to be blessed and enriched by the immigrant community.

“Throughout its history in our nation and in this community the Church has welcomed and ministered to the historic immigration of these cultures,” he said. “Despite the various languages, cultures and traditions of these very diverse immigrant groups, they were united by a common Christian faith and the desire to improve their lives and contribute to the well-being of their new home in the United States and the State of Rhode Island.”

The bishop explained that the church's dedication to the immigrant community is an act of faith grounded in several important fundamental principles, including: the dignity of each and every human person as created in the image and likeness of God; the teachings and example of Jesus Christ; the Christian principle that recognizes the strength and value of unity in diversity; and the wide-ranging testimony of the Sacred Scripture and teaching tradition of the church.

The bishop referred to the Statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, entitled “Welcoming the Stranger Among Us,” to help summarize the Catholic views relative to immigration.

“Without condoning undocumented migration, the church supports the human rights of all people and offers them pastoral care, education and social services, no matter what the circumstances of entry into this country, and it works for the human dignity of all - especially those who find themselves in desperate circumstances,” Bishop Tobin shared. “We also recognize and assert that all human persons, created as they are in the image of God, possess a fundamental dignity that gives rise to a more compelling claim to the conditions worthy of human life.”

Alexandra Filindra, researcher at the Taubman Center at Brown University expressed the important need to invite the faith leaders of the community to the symposium.

“We really need to hear what Bishop Tobin and the faith leaders have to say because it is very divisive issue in our state,” Filindra said. “I think that the Bishop’s message was very important. We need to follow the principled ways that have been set out for us on this issue.”

Lucy Boltz, a junior at Brown University, said that it was a great idea to involve policy makers, religious figures and the community in the symposium to get a variety of perspectives on the issue and to promote immigration reform that is good for the immigrants and the United States.

“We are trying to work against the narrative of hate,” said Boltz, an Ethnic Studies major from Southern California. "There are skewed views as to how many undocumented immigrants there are. The more information people have about immigrants and what they have contributed to the state, the better off we will be."

As the debate on immigration continues, Bishop Tobin expressed the need for fair, effective and comprehensive immigration reform and encouraged respectful and productive discourse, avoiding stereotyping of either side.

“The footprints of the historic immigrant Church in this community, as they are throughout our nation, are all around us,” he said. “The Church continues to welcome, work with and be blessed by the immigrants coming to our nation and state. It is a phenomenon we shouldn't fear or reject, but rather welcome and embrace.”

Printed with permission from the Rhode Island Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island.

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Pope Benedict: God sent Jesus to quench man’s thirst for eternal life

Vatican City, Mar 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Before the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI said that God’s all-powerful love respects the freedom of every person and therefore touches man’s heart and “waits patiently for his answer.”

“God the Father sent Christ to satisfy our thirst for eternal life by giving us his love, but Jesus asks of us the gift of our faith,” the Pope stated before the Angelus.

He discussed the gospel reading about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, explaining that his fatigue is “a sign of his true humanity” which can be seen as a prelude of his Passion.

His encounter with the woman at the well raises the theme of thirst and foreshadows his cry on the Cross: “I have thirst.”

While this thirst and fatigue had a physical aspect, the Pope explained, Jesus “thirsted” for the woman’s faith and for the faith of all mankind.

The water in the gospel story “clearly” refers to the sacrament of baptism, “the source of new life for the faith in the grace of God.” The water represents the Holy Spirit, the gift “par excellence” that Jesus brings to man from God the Father.

“Each one of us can take the place of the Samaritan woman,” the Pope continued. “Jesus waits for us, especially in this time of Lent, to speak with us. Let us pause for a moment in silence in our room, or in a church or in a secluded place.”

“Listen to his voice that tells us ‘If you knew the gift of God…’,” he said as he finished his remarks.

He closed with the prayer: “May the Virgin Mary help us not to miss this event, on which depends our true happiness.”

After the Angelus, Pope Benedict offered a “warm greeting” to English-speaking visitors.

“In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks to the Samaritan women of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the water which wells up to eternal life in those who believe. Through our Lenten observance may all of us be renewed in the grace of our baptism and prepare with hearts renewed to celebrate the gift of new life at Easter. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!”

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St. Francis of Paola's monastic achievements remembered April 2

Denver, Colo., Mar 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholics will remember the life of St. Francis of Paola on April 2. The saint founded a religious order at a young age and sought to revive the practices of the earliest monks during a period of corruption in the Church.

Francis was born in the Southern Italian region of Calabria during 1416. His parents, who maintained a strong devotion to St. Francis of Assisi, named their son after him. The boy's father and mother had little in the way of wealth, but they passed on a rich spiritual heritage to their son, with the hope that he would imitate his namesake.

The young Francis showed signs of a remarkable spiritual life, following his parents' lead in accepting poverty as a path to holiness. When his father placed him in the care of a group of Franciscan friars to be educated at the age of 13, Francis made a personal decision to live strictly according to the rule of their religious order.

After a year with the friars, Francis rejoined his parents as they made a pilgrimage to Assisi, Rome,  and the historic Franciscan church known as the Portiuncula. When the family returned to their hometown of Paola, Francis – at the age of only 15 – asked his parents' permission to live as a hermit, in the manner of the earliest desert fathers such as St. Anthony of Egypt.

The young monk slept in a cave, and ate what he could gather in the wild, along with occasional offerings of food from his friends in the town. Within four years, two companions had joined him, and the townspeople assisted in building three individual cells for the hermits, as well as a chapel where  a priest would offer Mass.

With approval from the local archbishop, this small group continued to grow into a larger religious order, without compromising the young founder's insistence on penitential and primitive living conditions. They were first known as the Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi, but later renamed the “Minimi” (or “Minims”), meaning “the least,” and signifying their commitment to humility.

Francis and his monks were notable not only for their austere lifestyle, but also for their strict diet, which not only eliminated meat and fish, but also excluded eggs, dairy products, and other foods derived from animals.

Abstinence from meat and other animal products became a “fourth vow” of his religious order, along with the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Francis instituted the continual, year-round observance of this diet in an effort to revive the tradition of fasting during Lent, which many Roman Catholics had ceased to practice by the 15th century.

Ironically, Francis' pursuit of solitary communion with God attracted attention from a range of important figures, including several European kings and other nobility along with Popes and bishops. Some of these men regarded Francis as a spiritual leader in a corrupt age, while others may have been more interested in his gifts of prophecy and miraculous healing.

Francis traveled to France at the request of Pope Sixtus IV, taking with him his nephew Nicholas, whom he had raised from the dead. There, the notoriously power-hungry King Louis XI was approaching the point of death himself, and hoped that Francis would perform a miracle and restore his health.

Francis told the king bluntly that he should not fear the end of his earthly life, but the loss of eternal life. From that time, the hermit became a close spiritual adviser to the king. He discussed the reality of death and eternity with him, and urged him to surrender his heart and soul to God before it was too late.

The king died in Francis' arms in 1483.

Louis XI's son and successor, Charles VIII, maintained the monk as a close adviser, in spiritual and even political affairs. Nonetheless, Francis persisted in following the monastic rule he had developed while living in his hermitage outside of Paola. He continued as superior general of the Minim order, and founded new monasteries in France.

Francis sensed that his death was approaching at the age of 91, and returned to living in complete solitude for three months to prepare himself. When he emerged, he gathered a group of the Minim brothers and gave them final instructions for the future of the order. He received Holy Communion for the last time and died on April 2, Good Friday of 1507.

Pope Leo X canonized St. Francis of Paola 12 years after his death, in 1519. Although the Minim order lost many of its monasteries in the 18th century during the French Revolution, it continues to exist, primarily in Italy.

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Pope appeals for diplomatic talks to halt armed conflict in Libya

Vatican City, Mar 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Praying for peace in Libya, Pope Benedict XVI has issued a “heartfelt appeal” to political leaders to begin immediate talks to halt the use of weapons.

His fear for the safety and security of civilians has grown, as has his concern about the developments in the armed conflict, he told a crowd of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square after the Sunday Angelus prayers.

Rebel forces backed by France, Britain, Spain and the United States are challenging forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi.

In times of “high tension,” the Pope said, the need becomes more urgent to resort to every means of diplomatic action and to support the “weak signs” of willingness to find “peaceful and lasting solutions.”

He prayed to God for “a return to concord” in Libya and the entire North African region.

The Pope also noted recent episodes of violence in the Middle East. He asked that those involved privilege the way of dialogue and reconciliation in the search for “a just and brotherly coexistence.”

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