Archive of June 28, 2011

Archbishop Gomez prepares to receive the pallium

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2011 (CNA) - Corrected June 29, 2011, 9:04 a.m. MDT. Changes list of American archbishops set to receive the pallium.

On the eve of receiving his pallium from Pope Benedict, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said the mission of his archdiocese should be “to bring the mercy of God to the people of our time.”

“We’re called to be messengers of God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s peace. That’s what we have to continue to make the Archdiocese of Los Angeles -- a place where we can witness God’s love for us and for all his people,” the archbishop told a congregation of Californian pilgrims in St. Peter’s Basilica, June 28.

The pallium is a white woolen liturgical vestment emblazoned with six black crosses. It symbolizes an archbishop’s pastoral authority and his unity the Pope.

More than 40 other new metropolitan archbishops from around the world will receive a pallium from the Pope tomorrow at St. Peter’s.

Among the U.S. bishops will be Archbishops Paul Coakley from Oklahoma City, J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, Gustavo Garcia-Siler of San Antonio, and  Archbishop Gomez.

Archbishop Gomez is being joined by 250 fellow pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the U.S. diocese with the most Catholics.

“It’s very special to be able to be here in Rome accompanying the archbishop and the pilgrims of the archdiocese,” Luciane Urban, the Executive Coordinator for the Archbishop, said after today’s Mass.

“It’s also a great privilege to see all these archbishops from all over the world that are going to be here. It’s going to be beautiful to see the diversity of the Church and it’s very special.

Los Angeles priest Monsignor Kevin Kostelnik reflected on the significance of the trip to Rome.

“Being here in Rome is a wonderful opportunity for all of us as Catholics from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to connect with the universal Church and to again express our affiliation with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, especially as our new archbishop receives the pallium," he said.

Archbishop Gomez says he sees tomorrow ceremony as a special moment for both himself and the people of Los Angeles.

“It’s a great honor for me. The pallium, as you know, indicates the unity between the archbishops and the Holy Father. So I’m looking forward to that. I think it’s a blessing too, and it’s a moment when I feel especially my responsibility as a bishop in the Catholic Church.”

The sentiment is shared by his family, many of whom are in Rome for the occasion.

“What could be more important than to come with him - the archbishop - in this very important day for him, because it is very important work that he has been charged with by the Pope - being the Archbishop of Los Angeles,” said his niece Maria Carmen Celaya.

Tomorrow’s ceremony will have a special poignancy for Pope Benedict as it also marks the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

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Pope recalls 'most important moment' of his life

Rome, Italy, Jun 28, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood at the Cathedral of Freising, Germany on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. He has called his ordination “the most important moment of my life.”
The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano included in its June 29 edition an excerpt from the book “Memoirs: 1927-1977,” published in 1997 by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. In the book, he recounts the day of his priestly ordination.

“For at least the past two months,” Ratzinger wrote, “I was able to focus completely on preparing myself for the big step: priestly ordination, which we received at the Cathedral of Freising from the hands of Cardinal Faulhaber on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1951.”
“It was a splendid summer day which was unforgettable,” he continued, “and the most important moment of my life.
“Not to be superstitious, but the moment in which the elderly archbishop laid hands on me, a bird—perhaps a lark—flew up from the main altar in the cathedral and began chirping joyfully, which for me was like a voice from on high had said: this is okay, you are on the right path.
“The next four weeks of summer were like one long celebration,” the Pope continued. He recalled that the day of his first Mass (July 8 in Traunstein), the parish of St. Osvaldo “was splendidly illuminated” and filled with the joy of all in attendance.

“We were invited to bring the blessings of the first Mass to all of the homes, and we were welcomed everywhere, even by complete strangers, with a kindness which up until then I had never even imagined.
“Thus I directly experienced the great expectations that people have of priests, how much they await their blessing, which comes from the strength of the sacrament. It was not about me or about my brother. What could two young men like us mean to so many people we encountered?
“They saw us as persons to whom Christ had entrusted the task of making Him present among men. No doubt because we were not the center of everything, friendly relationships soon began to form.”
The future Pope was ordained by the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber, who was an expert in Sacred Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers, and one of the most courageous critics of the Nazi regime.
The Congregation for the Clergy has encouraged Catholics around the world, especially priests, to hold 60 hours of eucharistic adoration to pray for the Pope, one hour for each year he has been a priest.

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Pope names Cardinal Scola as new archbishop of Milan

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict appointed Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice as the new archbishop of the influential Archdiocese of Milan on June 28.

“I welcomed this decision of the Pope, because it is the Pope,” said the 70-year-old native of Milan to the Italian news agency ANSA.

The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Milan is the most populous in Italy and one of the most influential in the Catholic Church. In the 2oth century two holders of the office have gone onto the papacy – Pope Pius XI and Pope Paul VI. 

Cardinal Scola’s appointment was significant enough that Italian President Giorgio Napolitano sent him a congratulatory telegram.  “I am sure that the work of Your Eminence will be a source of inspiration for the search for the common good, in a spirit of harmony and solidarity,” the president said.

“Thanks to your recognized qualities of sensitivity and openness to dialogue , you will be able to continue the fruitful work in Milan which you started in Venice,” he added.

Cardinal Scola has been Patriarch of Venice since 2002. Before that he was rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. During that time he worked closely with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI – at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Cardinal Scola will take over in Milan from 77-year-old Archbishop Dionigi Tettamanzi, who is retiring. 

The Governor of the Veneto region – which includes Venice – said the departure of Cardinal Scola would leave a “void” in the lives of the people there. Governor Luca Zaia told ANSA that Venice was losing “a loving father figure” and “a keen intellect.”

The Archdiocese of Milan was founded by Saint Barnabus in the 1st century and was led by Saint Ambrose in the 4th century. The distinctive Ambrosian rite of Mass is still celebrated throughout the diocese. Being a metropolitan see, it also has jurisdiction over nine other dioceses in the north of Italy.

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New CPA president Greg Erlandson surveys media landscape

Pittsburgh, Pa., Jun 28, 2011 (CNA) - Gregory Erlandson was introduced as the new president of the Catholic Press Association at the organization’s annual meeting in Pittsburgh from June 22 to 24, two weeks after his election.

“It’s a great honor to be elected, and it’s also a great responsibility. We are clearly at a time of great change with the media in general,” he told CNA in a June 21 interview.

Erlandson, also the president of Our Sunday Visitor, will serve as president for the press association for two years, beginning at the end of the Association’s Catholic Media Convention on June 24.

During the next two years, he hopes to develop new ways of connecting effectively with Catholics, and to “find new digital ways of reaching people” without neglecting traditional print publications.

“A lot of people look at print media,” he pointed out. “Part of the juggling act is not giving up on print media, as a powerful tool for faith formation, and also not ignoring or running away from how people are going to learn and communicate.”

Another challenge, he said, is in regaining the spirit of collaboration between the Catholic media and Church leadership.

“Especially as we’re moving into the 'Year of Evangelization,' we really need to restore that (collaboration). The mission has to be renewed,” he explained.

Readers have moved toward mobile and online technology in recent years, and Erlandson sees an opportunity for growth – both with tools such as the iPad and phone applications, and with traditional websites.

Those tools, he said, are “one possible road to the future,” even if it's not yet clear whether they represent the “evangelization of the future or auxiliary tools, or (part) of an arsenal of tools that a diocese or publishing company needs.”

A veteran journalist, Erlandson has reported on issues concerning the Catholic faith for 35 years. He was editor-in-chief of Our Sunday Visitor's book department as well as its editorial and design departments for eight years before becoming president and publisher in 2000.

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Registration for World Youth Day hits record high

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - World Youth Day organizers announced today that 440,000 young people have already signed up for the international gathering set for this coming August – a record enrollment figure this far out from the event.

“World Youth Day is an extraordinary experience for a Church which is a friend to the young, sharing their problems, a Church which is at the service of the younger generations,” said the President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, at a June 28 Vatican press conference.

“It is an epiphany of the Christian faith on a truly global scale. And young people - especially in our old Europe, deeply secular and secularizing - have a special need for all this,” he said.

Cardinal Rylko went on to give some of the highlights for the six-day event that will take place in the Spanish capital from Tuesday, August 16 to Sunday, August 21.

The Pope will arrive on the evening of Thursday, August 18. Over the next four days he will preside at a total of nine events with young people.

This includes a meeting with young female religious on the Friday morning, followed by a gathering with young academics. Pope Benedict will end the day by joining young people for the Way of the Cross through the streets of Madrid.

On the Saturday the Pope will hear confessions at Madrid’s Jardines del Buen Retiro before going onto the city’s cathedral to offer Mass for seminarians.

The highpoint of his visit, though, will be Sunday morning Mass at Cuatro Vientos Airport with hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims. So far, 745 bishops, 13,455 priests and 4,585 seminarians have committed to being there, too.

Journalists at today’s press conference also heard about the logistics involved in World Youth Day from a young Spanish volunteer, Jose Antonio Martinez Fuentes.

“We have done it all in light of our commitment to a job well done,” said Martinez, who has been working in the information office in Madrid for the past year.

His office – and others cooperating to make a global network – have answered over 25,000 queries in the past 12 months.

“What has been the foundation of our work is the fact that we consider each pilgrim that contacts us as Christ himself.”

Such information centers have helped over 10,000 groups to register, aid pilgrims with specific needs such as dietary requirements and disability issues, as well as accommodation and visa requests. In collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pilgrim groups can actually obtain entry visas free of charge.

Madrid will be Pope Benedict’s third World Youth Day. His first two gatherings were in Cologne, Germany in 2005 and then in Sydney, Australia in 2008.

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Proposed euthanasia law must be rejected, state Spanish bishops

Madrid, Spain, Jun 28, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - Spain's bishops condemned a proposed “death with dignity law” and declared that the bill in its current form must be abolished, modified or rejected.
“Laws that tolerate or even regulate violations of the right to life are gravely unjust and must not be obeyed. Moreover, these laws call into question the legitimacy of those public officials who draft and approve them. They must be denounced and abolished, modified or, in this case, rejected, with every democratic means available,” the Spanish bishops’ conference said in a statement published June 27. 
The secretary general and spokesman for the Spanish bishops, Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino spoke during a press conference and called the measure unjust. He rejected the argument that the Church is acting against democracy.  She is “exercising it precisely in a fundamental way,” he said, adding that a law of “such transcendence” should not be rushed to a vote.
In their statement, the bishops demanded that the right to conscientious objection be recognized and guaranteed for health care professionals involved in “situations that entail legal attacks on human life.”  They also said the “lex artis” should be upheld, which ensures that good medical practices keep the absolute personal autonomy of the terminally ill patient in check.
While they praised the measure for attempting to “protect the dignity of the person at the end of life without decriminalizing euthanasia,” the bishops said it fails to do so because “it leaves the door open to the legalization of euthanistic conduct.” 

“An understanding of the autonomy of the person as practically absolute, and the weight that is given to such autonomy in the development of the law, ends up distorting the stated intention and exceeding the proposed limit of not leaving any room for euthanasia,” they said.
The bishops also noted that the proposed law employs a reductive definition of the concept of euthanasia, “which leaves the door open to certain voluntary omissions that can cause death or directly accelerate it.”
Among the “euthanistic” practices that would be legalized by the measure include the improper use of sedation, which ought to be applied according to the sound judgment of doctors and not the will of the patient, the bishops continued.  The measure erroneously treats this matter as a “right” of the patient, they added.
The bishops went on to note that the law could be used to support a decision to withdraw treatment or deny patients basic care such as food and hydration.
The measure also makes no mention of religious freedom, they said, and instead formulates “a new right to accompaniment which includes spiritual or religious counsel that it says patients have a right to receive if they obtain it.”
Nevertheless, the bishops pointed out that the second draft of the measure is an improvement on the first, which “did not even mention that patients had a right to spiritual assistance.”  The latest draft at least acknowledges that right, they said.
Bishop Martinez Camino warned that the measure also does not mention the international accords or agreements Spain has signed with the Catholic Church and with other religious confessions.

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Expert supports Israeli ambassador's praise for Pius XII

Rome, Italy, Jun 28, 2011 (CNA) - An expert on Pope Pius XII expressed support for an Israeli ambassador who faces controversy after publicly praising the World War II pontiff for helping save Jews during the Holocaust.

Israeli ambassador to the Vatican Mordechai Lewy said on June 27 that his positive comments about late Pope were historically “premature,” after he was criticized by Jewish groups.

However, author William Doino commended the ambassador for “opening up healthy and productive discussion” and supports his stance in favor of Pope Pius XII– who is often accused of turning a blind eye to the Holocaust. 

Ambassador Lewy sparked the debate at a June 23 ceremony honoring World War II Italian priest Fr. Gaetano Piccini, when he recalled how convents and monasteries opened their doors to save Jews after the Nazis persecuted Rome's Ghetto in 1943.

“There is reason to believe that this happened under the supervision of the highest Vatican officials, who were informed about what was going on,” Lewy said during his address. “So it would be a mistake to say that the Catholic Church, the Vatican and the Pope himself opposed actions to save the Jews.”

“To the contrary, the opposite is true,” he said.

Days later, after Jewish leaders claimed his remarks were historically inaccurate and insensitive to Holocaust survivors, Lewy explained that his comments “were embedded in a larger historical context” which is “still under the subject of ongoing and future research.” 

Passing “my personal historical judgment on it,” he added, “was premature.”

While Lewy faces criticism over his remarks, he's also gained support from those like Doino, an expert on the late Pope who contributed extensively to an anthology titled “The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII” (Lexington Books).
“Having read his original statements, the responses to them, and his clarification, I believe it is all for the good, because it demonstrates how prominent officials in Israel are beginning to express greater openness toward Pius XII,” Doino said to CNA on June 27. 

Despite media reports claiming that Lewy has now backtracked on his original comments, Doino said “the Ambassador did not deny what he said may well be true.” Rather, he only said it's too early “to make definitive, all-encompasing statements.”

Doino also noted that research is showing how the popular cultural perception that Pius XII ignored the plight of the Jews during World War II is false.

“I believe there is an increasing amount of evidence, independent of the Vatican archives, and impossible to ignore by anyone interested in this subject – through first-hand testimonies, diaries, and other primary documents – demonstrating that Pius XII did indeed 'speak out,' in ways clearly understood by Catholic rescuers, and that he did indeed help rescue persecuted Jews.”

Doino recalled how the Nazis were “furious” about Pius XII’s public addresses and conduct and denounced him as a “mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals.”

He added that early in his pontificate, Pius XII approved a plot to overthrow Hitler and was commended by many leaders of the anti-Nazi Resistance.

“These are documented facts, which cannot be erased, and will remain part of the larger discussion, whatever else is said, and whatever more comes out of the Vatican archives,” Doino said.

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Cardinal Newman Society announces partnership with Mount St. Mary's

Manassas, Va., Jun 28, 2011 (CNA) - The Cardinal Newman Society announced on Monday that one of its divisions is partnering with Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland. Society leaders expressed hope that the move will foster a renewal in Catholic identity within universities across the nation.

“This is an exciting moment for Catholic colleges,” president Patrick J. Reilly said.

The society's Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education will relocate to the Emmitsburg, Maryland university July 1 under the leadership of renowned scholar Monsignor Stuart Swetland.

Msgr. Swetland currently serves as vice president for Catholic Identity and Mission and director of Homiletics and Pre-Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.

As a Naval Academy graduate, he studied at Oxford University and the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1991 for the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois.

“Monsignor has extensive pastoral, teaching and leadership experience in higher education, and is a natural fit for leading the Center,” Reilly said.

The society announced that as director of the new center, Msgr. Swetland will be tackling “key issues” in Catholic higher education such as formation programs for new faculty, improvements in core curricula, addressing threats to religious liberty, reinforcing sobriety and chastity on college campuses, and facilitating collaboration among college officials.

Msgr. Swetland said that as head of Mount St. Mary’s Catholic mission and identity department he has been “intimately involved with our university’s efforts to implement and live in accordance” with Blessed John Paul II's apostolic constitution on higher education, “Ex corde Ecclesiae.”

“This constitution offers a beautiful vision of how Catholic universities serve both the Church and the world by being consecrated ‘without reserve to the cause of truth,'” he said. “I believe that the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Education can significantly help our universities in their efforts to fulfill their mission.”

Msgr. Swetland said it is “crucial” that “the Church be actively present to our young adults during this vitally important stage of development by radiating Jesus Christ in word and sacrament to and for them.”

“The apostolate of Catholic higher education, at its best, serves this purpose,” he noted. “The Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education will aid our universities in their efforts to form the next generation of Catholic leaders.”

Mount St. Mary's University president Thomas Powell said he is “honored” that the Cardinal Newman Society chose his university as the new home for the center.

“The Center will provide valuable resources to aid Mount St. Mary’s and other colleges and universities to strengthen their Catholic identity,” Powell said.

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Chinese authorities intervene in Vatican-approved bishop ordination

Beijing, China, Jun 28, 2011 (CNA) - The ordination of a Vatican-approved Chinese bishop has been postponed because of government pressure, while a government-backed illicit ordination of another man who lacks the Pope’s approval will go ahead.

Coadjutor Bishop-elect Joseph Sun Jigen of Handan in the northern Hebei province is presently being “looked after” by government officials in the provincial capital of Shijiazhuang, church sources told UCA News.

Public security officers took him and diocesan chancellor Fr. John Huai Jianting as soon as he completed the pre-ordination retreat on June 26 in neighboring Henan province, three days ahead of his scheduled ordination.

The two clergymen were forced into a police car. When nearing the city of Handan, Fr. Huai protested and tried to jump out. The officers then transferred him to another car and sent him back to the diocese.

The officers proceeded with the bishop-elect to Shijiazhuang.

Bishop Stephen Yang Xiangtai of Handan, 89, suffered a heart attack upon hearing the news. He is under treatment at the diocese-run Dazhong Hospital.

Nuns from a diocesan congregation have begun fasting and are in a 24-hour Eucharistic adoration to pray for the diocese.

Bishop-elect Sun is said to be in good condition at a guesthouse, but government officials are monitoring him.

The diocese has resisted Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai of Chengde, who was ordained without a papal mandate, being present at the ordination. Priests from the diocese have also insisted on reading out the papal mandate during Bishop-elect Sun’s ordination ceremony.

The government-backed Bishops’ Conference of the Church in China has not issued its approval so far.

Meanwhile, on June 29 a man will be ordained without papal approval for the Diocese of Leshan in southwestern China.

Bishop Johan Fang Xingyao of Linyi, president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, will be the main celebrant in ordaining Fr. Paul Lei Shiyin.

Bishops Peter Faing JianPing of Tangshan and Paul He Zeqing of Wanzhou will be co-consecrators.

One expert said that in a complicated Church reality where the truth is often shrouded, the Vatican must keep pushing for the rights of Christians.

John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need said in comments to CNA that a June 23 report showing nearly half of Chinese Catholic dioceses are without a bishop is a sign of the hard reality for Catholics there.

“Nobody quite knows fully what is going in China but we would presume this report to be reasonably reliable and it shows, again, the extent to which the state is controlling the Church in China.”

“It also underlines the need for us to remain very concerned about the freedoms of the Church in China which should be allowed to govern itself and put the necessary structures in place to freely proclaim the Gospel,” he added.

The China Daily reported on June 23 that out of 97 dioceses, 44 are without bishops.

The news came as a conclusion of recent meetings of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and the Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church of China.

According to the report, Chinese bishops said that a lack of bishops has “seriously affected normal operations and church affairs at bishopless diocese(s).”

While neither the bishops’ conference nor the patriotic association is recognized by the Vatican, they are the only official voice allowed for Catholics in China in a state-controlled reality.

Association spokesman Fr. Yang Yu said they are looking to take “active and prudent” steps to address the problem.

Pontifex underlined the difficulty in knowing what the true situation is for the estimated six million Catholics in China.

“The reason we don’t know the full truth of what’s going on in China, especially as regards the Church, is that behind every apparent fact and statement lies a more complicated reality,” he said.

“The Vatican needs to continue to press consistently and clearly for rights and privileges to which the Church is entitled,” he said.

He pointed to problems that go well below the surface.

“If the official Church is being controlled in this way it begs the question as to the problems being faced by the underground Church. One can only presume that things for them are much worse.”

Alan Holdren and David Kerr contributed to this report. 

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