Rome, Italy, May 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI issued a special call to pray the Rosary during May, the month dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The pontiff spoke at the conclusion of his May 11 General Audience. He exhorted “everyone to intensify the pious practice of the Holy Rosary, especially in this month of May dedicated to the Mother of God.”
“I invite you, beloved young people, to value this traditional Marian prayer, which helps us better understand and assimilate the central moments of the salvation wrought by Christ,” the Pope said.
He then encouraged the sick “to turn with confidence to the Virgin through this pious exercise, entrusting all your needs to her.”
He concluded by addressing newlyweds and inviting them to “make the recitation of the family Rosary a time of spiritual growth under the gaze of the Virgin Mary.”
Toowoomba, Australia, May 13, 2011 (CNA) - Australia’s bishops say they back Pope Benedict’s decision to remove renegade Bishop William Morris from his post in Toowoomba, in the Brisbane region of the country.
“It was judged that there were problems of doctrine and discipline, and we regret that these could not be resolved. We are hopeful that Bishop Morris will continue to serve the Church in other ways in the years ahead,” the bishops said in a letter to the interim administrator appointed by the Pope in Toowoomba.
The Vatican removed Bishop Morris, 67, on May 2, following several years of negotiations aimed at getting him to correct his abuses of Church doctrine and liturgy.
The letter on behalf of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference was signed by conference president Archbishop Philip Wilson and was sent to the apostolic administrator, Bishop Brian Finnigan. Archbishop Wilson was a present during Bishop Morris’ meeting with the Pope at the Vatican on June 2009.
The bishops expressed their support for Bishop Finnigan in what they described as his “challenging task.”
“We are confident that you will help to bring peace and unity to the diocese,” they added.
The bishops encouraged the priests of Toowoomba to “reassure their people and to strengthen them in faith.”
The letter comes after a recent meeting of the bishops in which they discussed the ouster and heard testimony from some 40 religious leaders in Toowoomba. “We sought to understand the events and agree on the best way to respond,” the bishops explained.
The bishops expressed their “sadness at the retirement of Bishop Bill Morris.”
They described it as “a decision came at the end of a complex process which began thirteen years ago and which ended in deadlock.”
Referring to the Pope’s responsibility as the successor of the apostle St. Peter, the bishops added: “It was then that the Holy Father found it necessary to exercise his Petrine care for the whole Church.”
The bishops reaffirmed their commitment to the “unique role of the Pope as head of the College of Bishops.”
“It is his task to guard and promote the communion of the Church and the integrity of the Church’s faith. We reaffirm our faith in this mission which the successor of Peter has received from Christ himself, and we gratefully acknowledge Pope Benedict’s faithfulness to the Petrine ministry, even when it involves very difficult decisions. We commit ourselves anew to teaching faithfully what Christ taught as the Church has handed it down,” the bishops stated.
The bishops also said they look forward toward their regularly scheduled “ad limina” visit to Rome later this year. “We will have the opportunity to share with the Holy Father and members of the Roman Curia the fruits of our discussion and to share our questions and concerns with an eye to the future.”
“The Pope’s decision was not a denial of the personal and pastoral gifts that Bishop Morris has brought to the episcopal ministry. Rather, it was judged that there were problems of doctrine and discipline, and we regret that these could not be resolved. We are hopeful that Bishop Morris will continue to serve the Church in other ways in the years ahead,” the letter concluded.
Washington D.C., May 13, 2011 (CNA) - Updated May 17, 2011 at 3:18 p.m. MDT. Additional information added in paragraph 15.
A new film on the Spanish Civil War falls short in portraying the brutal persecution that the country's Catholics underwent, says author Robert Royal, Ph.D.
“This is a part of Catholic history that has been long neglected,” he said, but “the movie is too nervous to tackle it.”
Released to theaters on May 6, the historical epic “There Be Dragons” was directed by Roland Joffe, known for his work in the acclaimed 1986 film “The Mission.”
“There be Dragons” shows the intense conflict that arose in Spain between the Nationalists attempting to protect the establishment and Republican revolutionaries seeking regime change in the 1930s. The film also highlights a young St. Jose Maria Escriva, who survived the war went on to found Opus Dei.
Royal – who heads the Faith and Reason Institute in Washington, D.C. – said that although the revolutionaries' struggle for democracy at the time was legitimate, “the way the various factions on the Republican side pursued this is an outrage.”
“Spain is one place where brutality against the Catholic Church in the 20th century was really quite extraordinary,” Royal told CNA in a May 11 interview. Royal is an expert in comparative literature and author of several books, including a comprehensive volume on 20th century martyrs.
He estimates that there were around 6,000 Catholics killed in Spain during the civil conflict.
Entire seminaries and convents of women religious were “slaughtered,” Royal said, adding that in Madrid alone, there were over 1,100 priests killed.
“That was almost one third of the number of priests in Madrid,” he noted. Six hundred more priests were killed in the cities of Barcelona and Valencia combined.
“You're not talking about people who've done anything wrong – these people were just ordinary Catholics pursuing their vocation.”
“It's an astonishing thing,” he said. “Catholics don't know about this. When you tell them they're shocked and they can't believe it.”
Royal gave background to the bloody conflict, saying that the country “had a lot of trouble modernizing – there had been a long royalist tradition, a conservative side to Spain.”
However, “there came to power, through elections in 1936, a very strongly socialist tending, pro-Soviet Union government.”
Royal said that none of the Western leaders, including England and the United States, recognized the new government in Spain, “so there was a questions about the legitimacy of it.”
“The Republicans were the government of Spain until they were overthrown,” he explained.“The Nationalists including many generals in the army revolted against that radical government and, after military victory, took power. Seems like a small matter, but it's led to this mistaken impression of Republicans as isolated pockets of revolutionaries.”
He continued, “(t)hat has to be dispelled as a false impression to appreciate what really happened in Spain.”
“Lost in the political struggle is that an awful lot of innocent, ordinary, everyday Catholic lay people, clergy and women religious were just slaughtered.”
Royal clarified that “there were a lot of atrocities on the Nationalist side – but the Republican side is never tarred with the same brush.”
He gave examples of atrocities committed by the revolutionaries, citing mass graves outside of women religious' convents, desecrated art and destroyed churches.
“The utter blasphemy and disrespect shown – it just boggles the imagination.”
Royal said that the failure of “There Be Dragons” to accurately show what happened is indicative of a deeper cultural problem, which is the fact that “Christian martyrdom in the 20th century has been largely overlooked.”
Persecution of Christians “is part of the secular history of the 20th century that has been neglected,” he said. “You cannot understand the 20th century unless you understand that there were virulent anti-religious forces.”
“There's a lot of disappointment among Catholics about that movie,” he added. “It might have been better if they were willing to take a few chances to show how much more brutal and disrespectful” the revolutionaries were.
“The message that they're trying to portray is that reconciliation is possible,” Royal said, noting a positive aspect of the film. However, “to get the point of reconciliation the truth has to be told about what went wrong.”
“You can still forgive but the truth matters.”
Royal said that ultimately, the movie is simply “another evasion of a very important truth that needs to be told.”
Rome, Italy, May 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Father Stephen Dunn had a very personal reason for wanting to learn the Tridentine Mass.
“My father, who attends the Tridentine Mass every Sunday, has stipulated in his will that he is to be buried to the Tridentine Mass and no other Mass. So as his only son who’s a priest I hated to think I couldn’t bury my father through incompetence and lack of knowledge of the traditional Mass of the Church.”
So when Pope Benedict XVI called for a more generous provision of the Tridentine Mass in his 2007 document “Summorum Pontificum” Fr. Dunn thought the time had finally come to learn the traditional liturgy. Hence the priest from Glasgow, Scotland, quickly signed up for a course in Oxford, England, organized by the Latin Mass Society.
Crucially “Summorum Pontificum” lifted the requirement upon priests to receive episcopal approval before saying the old Mass. However, Fr. Dunn explained, soon all the priests in Glasgow received a four page advisory document drafted by the chancellor of the archdiocese, Monsignor Peter Smith.
Fr. Dunn said the advisory note seemed to interpret the Pope’s instructions in a way that effectively turned many of them on their head. In fact, the renowned blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf described the advisory document’s interpretation of “Summorum Pontificum” as the “coldest, most hostile I have read so far.”
“There were three Glasgow priests signed up to the course in Oxford. After that note came round, two dropped out. They felt really intimidated. My own response, though, was to stick it out and attend.
“Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said the first Mass. When I told him I was from the Archdiocese of Glasgow he said, ‘My goodness, you’re a brave boy’.”
That’s why Fr. Dunn welcomes today’s official clarification from the Vatican as to how “Summorum Pontificum” should be authentically interpreted and applied. So much so that he’s traveled to Rome for its publication and to attend the first traditional liturgy celebrated at the high altar of St Peters Basilica since 1969.
The Mass will take place this weekend.
“It’s really great. The fact that Rome is being so clear and precise about what the document really means. There now has to be obedience on all sides. It gives me great cause for hope and I pray by the grace of the Holy Spirit and through the intercession of Our Lady that Pope Benedict and his advisors are firm in applying this to bishops around the world and don’t accept any wavering.”
There are now only two parishes in Glasgow offering the Tridentine Mass but Fr. Dunn says that five other priests are now learning how to say the traditional liturgy.
Meanwhile, the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica will be offered this Sunday morning by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.
Vatican City, May 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Local dioceses should give a “generous welcome” to any laity who wish to attend Mass in the “extraordinary form” and to priests who wish to say it.
That’s the key message of new Vatican guidelines regarding the extraordinary form of the Mass – often popularly referred to as the “Tridentine Mass” or “old Latin Mass.”
The “extraordinary form” is the rite of Mass contained within the Roman Missal which was universally used from 1570 to 1962. It was almost always celebrated in Latin.
The “ordinary form”, on the other hand, is the newer rite of the Mass approved for use by Pope Paul VI in 1969. This Mass is most often said in parishes around the world.
Today’s guidelines were issued to clarify various questions from around the world about the Pope Benedict's 2007 document “Summorum Pontificum.”
In it Pope Benedict said that any priest wishing to say the older form of the Mass was no longer required to seek the permission of his bishop.
Questions arose, however, as to how aspects of the document should be interpreted. Hence the May 13 clarification produced by the Vatican body responsible for such matters, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. They state:
1. The two forms of the Roman rite are not in competition with each other but, instead, are complementary, “one alongside the other.”
2. The older rite of the Mass is a “precious treasure to be preserved” with “appropriate honor.”
3. Bishops and priests should give a “generous welcome” motivated by “pastoral zeal” to any groups of Catholics who ask for the older rite to be offered.
4. Such groups can be of any size and can also be from one parish, various parishes or even different dioceses.
5. Those preparing for the priesthood should be given training in the “extraordinary form” in seminary.
6. If a diocese doesn’t have the necessary expertise to undertake such training they should ask the Ecclesia Dei commission for assistance.
7. Every priest who is not impeded by Canon Law is to be considered “qualified” for the celebration of the “extraordinary form.”
8. A priest need only have a “basic knowledge” of Latin so as to be able to “pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning.”
9. The court of appeal over the interpretation of “Summorum Pontificum” is the Ecclesia Dei commission in Rome.
10. “Summorum Pontificum” wishes to heal the rift between the Catholic Church and those who have left the Church over the liturgical reforms which followed the Second Vatican Council.
Finally, the authority of today’s document is underlined by the fact that it was personally endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI last month. Indeed in today’s document “Summorum Pontificum” is described as an “important expression of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff.”
Lima, Peru, May 13, 2011 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Lima announced that 5,000 children will make an act of consecration to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13.
The director of the archdiocesan press office, Daniel Jacobo, told CNA that the consecration will begin with a Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Monserrat in city’s historic district.
This is the second year the event is being held.
Jacobo said the idea is “to promote devotion to the Virgin among the students of schools in central Lima. It’s beautiful because the children enter in procession carrying a small statue” of the Virgin Mary.
Participating schools will be given rosaries, holy cards and certificates of attendance during the ceremony.
Rome, Italy, May 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - “Sorrow and gratitude” describe Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martin’s memory of May 13, 1981.
May 13 has always been a special day for the Portuguese cardinal. It’s the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, dear to him and many other Portuguese Catholics.
“Personally, I always celebrate it with a lot of affection,” the cardinal told CNA at his Rome apartment. He remembers it as “the day of the ‘White Madonna, more brilliant than the sun’.”
This was the description the “shepherd children” gave after the Virgin Mary appeared to them six times over a six-month period in 1917.
The 79-year-old Cardinal Saraiva Martins himself was personally close to Lucia dos Santos, the only one of the three to survive into adulthood.
For him, the day is an important one to remember his friend and to celebrate a special devotional Mass for Our Lady. This year, though, he was also thinking of another anniversary.
It is the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, a bittersweet moment for the cardinal.
“The day is certainly lived with great feelings of sorrow, but also gratitude to Our Lady of Fatima, who saved the life of John Paul II,” he recalled.
“(Pope John Paul II) was deeply convinced that he didn’t die that day thanks to the protection of Our Lady of Fatima.”
On May 13, 1981, the Pope was shot several times in St. Peter’s Square. Two bullets passed through his stomach, putting him in critical condition but ultimately missing all major organs.
“Our Lady of Fatima diverted the bullet that would have hit him in the heart and mortally wounded him,” said the cardinal.
Even John Paul II’s would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca asked himself for years afterward how the bullets could have missed the mark.
A secret revealed to the shepherd children by the Virgin presaged such an attack on a “bishop dressed in white.”
Recognizing himself in that description, exactly a year after the attack, the Pope went to Fatima to thank Our Lady for sparing him. He left a bullet there for her, where still today it adorns her silver crown.
The day of the anniversary inspires “unequaled emotions,” said the cardinal. “Feelings of sorrow but also of gratitude that the Madonna saved the Pope.”
Vatican City, May 13, 2011 (CNA) - On the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, historian Lucetta Scaraffia says that the late Pope believed the crime had a “profound meaning” in salvation history. He worked to shift attention towards this “transcendent reality” to find “the real reason for the event.”
Bl. John Paul II’s critical stance towards the devaluing of human life, materialism and hedonism in countries of Christian origin made him an “antagonistic figure” both of communist regimes and “misguided” modernizations in democratic countries, Scaraffia explained.
This made him “a dangerous adversary for many.”
“Wojtyla well knew who wanted him dead, just as he had always known he was in danger, but he was well aware that behind human decisions, there is always more than meets the eye and he wanted to shift the attention towards this transcendent reality to find the real reason for the event,” she said.
“There were multiple forces opposing his open battle to bring Christianity back to the center of attention, to re-open souls to the teaching of the Gospels, and one could not reduce the assassination attempt to a communist political plot or an anti-Christian operation of Islamic fundamentalism.”
Scaraffia, a teacher at La Sapienza University in Rome, made her comments in an editorial for the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano 30 years after the assassination attempt.
On May 13, 1981 the Turkish-born Ali Agca fired several gunshots at John Paul II as he was proceeding among the crowds for an audience in St. Peter’s Square. The attack seriously wounded the pontiff.
Afterward, the Pope said the solution to the unsolved mystery of the assassination attempt was before everyone’s eyes.
“(T)he evident intervention of a miraculous nature which caused the deflection of the shots fired by a very skilled killer just steps away from his target, and the subsequent saving of the Pope, have given this event a strong spiritual significance,” Scaraffia said.
The coincidence of the date with the first apparition of the Virgin Mary at Fatima confirmed this significance, she added, noting that Mary’s message was dedicated particularly to the rise of communism.
“The Marian intervention could not but confirm a certainty for Christians: even if the forces of evil are powerful and dangerous, they will not prevail,” Scaraffia continued.
By placing the assassination attempt in this broader light, “the battle that the Pope was combating could become even more the battle of all Christians.”
“And the call which he repeated more than once to be not afraid and to open the doors wide to Christ, thanks to his example, became something that all could follow, not just the most conscientious and courageous elite,” the historian’s editorial concluded.