Valletta, Malta, Jun 1, 2011 (CNA) - Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Malta Doug Kmiec has reiterated his support for President Obama and said he will almost certainly endorse him again in the 2012 presidential election.
Kmiec told the Sunday Times of Malta that there is a “98 percent chance” that he will endorse the president, adding “I think that the president is doing a great job.”
“He’s someone who has made good on his principal promises against substantial headwinds,” he said. Kmiec cited the president’s response to economic troubles, the extension of health insurance coverage and his work in international affairs.
Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University School of Law and a former official in the Reagan administration, endorsed President Obama in the 2008 election in an effort to win over some Catholic and conservative votes.
He resigned as ambassador after the State department criticized him for neglecting his duties in Malta and spending too much time writing.
He said that the State Department never really understood his mandate to promote interfaith dialogue in Malta given to him by President Obama.
While some reports said Kmiec faced rebuke for speaking about subjects like abortion and his religious beliefs, the official report did not cite any particular comments.
The outgoing ambassador also revealed that his fatal car accident in California in August 2010 was caused when he fainted because of medication he takes for Parkinson’s disease. The accident killed two of his friends, a priest and a nun.
Kmiec’s last day as U.S. Ambassador to Malta was May 31.
Vatican City, Jun 1, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI said at the June 1 general audience that intercessory prayer helps us to grow in deeper knowledge of God and his mercy and makes us more capable of loving others in a self-sacrificial way.
Drawing upon the life of Moses, the Pope told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square that the Old Testament prophet not only led his people out of slavery in Egypt but also gave them and us an example of how to offer prayers of intercession.
“Even when the people at Sinai, asked Aaron to make the golden calf, Moses prays, and this is very emblematic of his role as intercessor.”
The Pope identified various aspects of the intercessory prayer of Moses we can learn from. The first he named was fasting, just as Moses did for 40 days on Mount Sinai.
“The act of eating, in fact, involves taking the food that sustains us, so fasting, giving up food is, in this case, of religious significance: it is a way to indicate that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”
“In fasting, Moses shows he is waiting for the gift of God's law as a source of life: it will reveals God’s will and nourish the human heart, making him enter into a covenant with the Almighty that the source of life: it is Life itself!”
A second lesson to intercessory prayer we can learn from Moses, the Pope said, was his openness to the will of God, as opposed to bending God to our will. This, he noted, is what the Israelites did in making an idol of a golden calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai.
“This is a constant temptation in the path of faith - to circumvent building according to Divine providence” and instead create “a god which is understandable, relevant to their plans, their own projects.”
Thirdly, the prayerful reaction of Moses to the infidelity of his people and the wrath of God highlights both the seriousness of sin and the mercy of God.
Pope Benedict recounted how “Moses intercedes for his people, fully acknowledging the gravity of their sin. He also pleads with God to remember his mercy, to forgive their sin and thus to reveal his saving power.”
“Moses’ prayer of petition is an expression of God’s own desire for the salvation of his people and his fidelity to the covenant.”
His reaction also shows that intercessory prayer expands the human heart towards both God and man, the Pope explained. “Love of the brethren and love of God pervade the prayer of intercession, and are inseparable.”
Pope Benedict said that this bond can be seen in the person of “Moses the intercessor” who is “a man stretched between two loves, which overlap in prayer in a single desire to do good.”
The Pope finished his reflection by saying that the intercessory prayer of Moses points us in a particular direction – Jesus Christ.
“Moses points beyond himself to that perfect intercessor who is Jesus, the Son of God, who brings about the new and eternal covenant in his blood, shed for the forgiveness of sin and the reconciliation of all God’s children.”
Today’s address was the fifth Wednesday audience delivered by Pope Benedict on the topic of prayer. His previous theme – the lives of the saints – took two years to complete.
Milwaukee, Wis., Jun 1, 2011 (CNA) - Vicki Thorn, a Wisconsin-based mother of six and recently appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, says that the Church must defend the sanctity of life and bring healing to those who have experienced the trauma of an abortion.
“Millions of men and women have experienced abortion loss across the world,” she said. “When they are ready to heal the wound, the Church needs to be there.”
The faith community, she said in a May 25 interview with CNA, needs to be a “prophetic voice” heralding the sanctity of life, as well as a source of comfort for those effected by the trauma of abortion.
Thorn has reached international recognition for founding Project Rachel from her hometown of Milwaukee in 1984. Project Rachel specializes in post-abortion ministry for men and women and is now available in 140 dioceses across the U.S.
An author and researcher, she's delivered speeches around the world and been decorated with numerous awards, including one from the Vatican.
But despite her impressive resume, Thorn views her family as her greatest accomplishment.
“My husband and I will be married 40 years on July 3,” she said. “We have six children, ranging in age from 34 to 23,” some of whom are educators, writers, military officers and parents themselves. Thorn's husband William is a professor at Marquette University and has taught at the Gregorian University and the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.
Thorn said as she surveyed the challenges confronting the Church that she hopes it will “continue to be a prophetic voice, proclaiming the sanctity of all life: unborn, handicapped or uniquely challenged, those facing life-threatening health issues, those who are in the end stages of life, that they will be treated with dignity and supported in their last days.”
She also stressed the importance of the Church continuing to address “the very serious bioethical issues that are presenting themselves” such as genetic testing, stem cell research, reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, as well as the environmental impact of chemical contraceptives.
“The question of man and science playing God looms larger and larger,” she said. “It is my hope that the Church will be able to use the incredible advances that are being made in science to speak to the issues facing the world.”
Thorn said another pressing issue is the need for the Church to continue to provide “practical pastoral care“ to heal women, men and families after abortion.
She observed that as a culture, “we do not speak of men and abortion much,” yet from “the beginning of Project Rachel in 1984, men have sought help.”
“The myth is that men are unaffected by pregnancy and so why would he be bothered by an abortion,” she said, but “the reality is that the father of the child is also biologically changed by the pregnancy if he is with the mother.”
Thorn explained that shortly before the baby is born, a father undergoes hormonal changes that help him to bond with and protect the mother and child.
“When his hormones return to normal, his testosterone never goes as high as it was before becoming a father. He is forever changed by becoming a father,” she said.
Thorn cited multiple writings from both Bl. Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict to say that the “Catholic Church has been the leader in identifying this problem and offering compassionate care from the beginning.
“Clearly, this movement of mercy is part of the Church's critical message.”
“Those who are healed after abortion become eloquent defenders and builders of the Culture of Life,” she said. “It is they who know the lived truth of abortion and it is that truth that will set us all free.”
Thorn also said that in her experience “the encounter with God's mercy in post-abortion healing changes lives in ways beyond description and is indeed, a powerful tool of evangelization.”
“When we speak about the horrors of abortion, I believe we have a moral obligation to also tell people about the healing ministry of the Church in the same sentence.”
Thorn said that the abortion debate “is so emotionally charged, not because it is a moral and philosophical debate, but because it is a heart experience. I believe that everyone knows someone who has had an abortion.”
“We must always speak with gentleness and not condemnation, because it is our charge, as laid out by Pope Benedict XVI to bring the wounded to the Church for healing.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 1, 2011 (CNA) - Three men broke into the rectory of the Basilica of St. Rose of Lima in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 31, stealing around $4,300 dollars in cash, chalices and sacred vessels.
The 50-year-old pastor of the basilica was sleeping in his room when the men broke in, threatened to shoot him, and tied his hands together.
The DyN news agency in Argentina quoted police officials as saying the break-in occurred at 3:10 a.m. local time. The men entered through one of the windows of the rectory.
The Archdiocese of Buenos Aires issued a statement on May 31 saying the burglars “took the personal belongings of the pastor and then violently stormed into the sacristy.”
After the criminals fled, the priest freed himself and immediately called the police, the archdiocese reported.
The pastor, Father Alberto Sorace, expressed thanks to God “because I am okay.” He said he hopes the country can become safer.
During his 10 years as pastor of St. Rose of Lima, he said, “There have been small thefts, but nothing of this magnitude, with this modus operandi.”
Bogotá, Colombia, Jun 1, 2011 (CNA) - The new secretary of the Vatican council for promoting evangelization, Archbishop Octavio Ruiz explained that the Church proclaims the same faith received from Christ 20 centuries ago. The only changes, he added, are the methods for transmitting the Gospel message.
“The Church needs to adapt to modern times. This is not a question of changing her doctrine or what she has preached for 20 centuries. It is the same faith, but we must see how we can reach the people with a language that is understood today, putting the modern media and scientific advances at the service of the Gospel.
“The message must always be understood in its deep reasons and not as a religious stance or ideology,” the archbishop told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo on May 29.
Archbishop Ruiz said he sees his new mission as one of “helping to awaken the faith in those who have strayed from the Christian life,” preaching “the same Gospel but with new zeal, new methods and expressions, so that it again touches the hearts of people.”
He lamented the spread of a secular mentality throughout the world that “would like to disregard God as if he were no longer necessary in life. Amidst comfort and abundant resources, the faith tends to be put on the back burner.”
Archbishop Ruiz also clarified that a new dicastery created by Pope Benedict XVI at the end of 2010 is not in charge of dealing with cases of sexual abuse.
“That is the responsibility of another dicastery of the Roman Curia. That is a different area dealing with something very delicate in the Church, which is the testimony those of us who receive a vocation must give,” he said.
He acknowledged that the sexual abuse crisis has affected the Church’s credibility, “but at the same time it makes us think of the vast majority of bishops and priests who are fulfilling their duties quietly and responsibly.”
“A crisis always brings change and wakes people up; in this sense, we are indeed in a crisis and if we don’t do something, we are going to lose more of the faithful and our people will not understand the Church any longer. This is a providential moment to get a new perspective,” he said.
Denver, Colo., Jun 1, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic News Agency and EWTN News have announced that the National Catholic Register is the first official member of their new service for Catholic editors.
The Register, an independent Catholic bi-weekly owned by EWTN, will use the CNA Editors Service as its primary source for news wire copy both in the print edition and on its website, NCRegister.com.
“CNA and the Register are a sensible fit,” said David Scott, editor-in-chief of Catholic News Agency/EWTN News. “We share a similar vision. We both believe that Catholic journalism today should reflect the highest professional values. We also believe that it must truly be ‘Catholic.’”
Launched May 31, the CNA Editors Service will supply a full range of news, features, commentary and photojournalism.
All content will be provided free-of-charge for publication in print or on the web. Editors will be required to pay small fees for the use of photos provided by Getty Images, one of the world’s top names in news photography.
In addition to news, editors will have free access to CNA’s wide range of columns. These include its “Catholic Womanhood” columns and “Bishop’s Corner,” which features opinion writing by leading U.S. bishops.
CNA is also offering a new weekly column, “Answering the Tough Questions,” by Father Rocky Hoffman, a canon lawyer.
The new service includes feature packages on special themes, such as health care and senior citizens. Editors will also have access free-of-charge to CNA’s video offerings, as well as to news and analysis in Spanish, through CNA’s sister agency, ACI Prensa.
The first partner in the new service, the National Catholic Register, is one of America’s oldest independent Catholic newspapers, founded in 1927.
Tom Wehner, the paper’s managing editor, said, “CNA’s reputation for comprehensive, solidly Catholic journalism, combined with its loyalty to the Pope and the magisterium, fits perfectly with the mission of the Register.”
EWTN News, Inc. was launched as a subsidiary of EWTN Global Catholic Network to expand their operation in the global Catholic digital and multimedia market. In 2010 it started a partnership with Catholic News Agency and in February of this year, EWTN acquired the National Catholic Register.
“I am pleased to see this partnership come to fruition,” said Michael Warsaw, EWTN’s president and chief executive officer, and publisher of the Register. “We live in an age where there is so much distortion and misrepresentation of the Church’s teaching by forces who oppose her message, particularly in the secular news media. It is encouraging to see two faithful Catholic news sources joining forces to serve the Church, and EWTN is proud to have the Register and CNA as part of our family.”
Vatican City, Jun 1, 2011 (CNA) -
At the end of the June 1 general audience, Pope Benedict XVI greeted NBC anchors Matt Lauer and Al Rocker, as they prepared to air the "Today" show from the Vatican.
During their brief encounter, Lauer presented the Pope with a crystal cat.
“We had heard that this Pope has a real love for cats,” Lauer said in an interview with ABC. “He seemed to accept it and like it and, anyway, we just wanted to offer him some gift to show our appreciation for the time and generosity he showed us.”
“Today” show producer Jim Bell told TVNewser that the Vatican was “a particular passion” for late NBC Washington Bureau chief Tim Russert.
Russert had his own audience with Pope Benedict XVI days before he died of a heart attack.
“Tim and I had been working on a trip for “Today” that he was going to be a part of,” Bell explained.
Bell and Russert were planning a trip to the Vatican for the “Today” show but decided to postpone the project when the 2008 election started to heat up.
“A trip to the Vatican and an audience with Pope Benedict still ranked high on the show’s ‘to do’ list,” Bell said.
The episode, which will air June 2, was originally scheduled for March but had to be postponed because of a heavy news cycle. The show will give viewers “a rare look at the pope behind the scenes as he prepares to address the crowd at St. Peter’s Square,” according to NBC.
Rome, Italy, Jun 1, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Rome's attorney general has released 23 million Euro (over $33 million) in assets belonging to the Institute for Religious Works, also known as the Vatican bank.
The money was frozen after an anti-money laundering investigation was launched against the president of the bank Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and the general director of the Institute, Paolo Cipriani.
The Institute for Religious Works is under the auspices of the Vatican.
L'Osservatore Romano reported that the decision to release the funds – which were seized on Sept. 17, 2010 – was made after lawyers for the two men filed a petition to have the assets unfrozen.
Roman officials said investigations carried out between Dec. 19 and May 20 confirmed that changes had been made in the bank's policy, which allowed for a re-evaluation and release of the confiscated money.
On Sept. 21, 2010, the Vatican State Secretariat expressed “shock and bewilderment” over the investigation launched by prosecutors in Rome, and expressed support for the work of Italian economist Gotti Tedeschi. It issued a statement saying the Vatican has always shown “absolute transparency regarding the financial operations of the Institute for Religious Works.”
At the time Tedeschi denounced the attorney general of Rome for taking advantage of procedural error as “an excuse to attack the Institute, its president and the Vatican in general.”
He told the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore that the transactions which he was being investigated for were “normal transactions that involved transfers from one set of bank accounts to another at the same Vatican bank.”
Vatican City, Jun 1, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI concluded a month of Marian celebrations with a procession and Rosary in the Vatican Gardens on May 31, the Feast of the Visitation. He offered the faithful a message about Mary’s fearless trust in God, for whom “nothing is impossible.”
“The one whom Elizabeth welcomes into her home is the Virgin who 'has believed' the Angel's annunciation, who responded with faith, courageously accepting God's plan for her life and thus embracing within herself the eternal Word of the Most High,” he said.
The procession traveled from the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians to the grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, following a yearly custom that commemorates the Virgin Mary during the month dedicated to her.
The Pope addressed the crowds at the grotto before giving his apostolic blessing. He spoke of the Virgin Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, and how it showed the “courage of faith.”
It was Mary’s strong confidence in God’s plan that allowed her to be guided by the Holy Spirit in daily obedience, he noted.
The Pope then appealed to the audience, asking, “How can we not desire that same trusting abandonment in our lives? How can we not yearn for that beatitude that is born of a profound and intimate familiarity with Jesus?”
Pope Benedict also commented on the “great gift of grace” that Blessed John Paul II has given to the Church, particularly since his May 1 beatification.
“His witness continues to illuminate our lives and urges us to be true disciples of the Lord, to courageously follow him in faith, and to love him with the same enthusiasm with which he gave his life to Christ,” he said.
The Pope closed with a prayer, asking Mary to help us respond more generously to God’s plan “even when we are called to embrace the Cross.”