Vatican City, Jul 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Today Pope Benedict XVI visited the offices of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
“Let me tell you with my whole heart, as you would at home: Happy Birthday!” the Pope said to the paper’s staff of 100.
“Through your daily work, hidden and not without effort, you give life to this unique means of communication that is at the service of the ministry of the Successor of Peter, to bring a specific contribution to spreading the Gospel and witness to the truth.”
L’Osservatore Romano – The Roman Observer, in English - was launched on July 1, 1861, to defend the Papal States against the Italian political radical Giuseppe Garibaldi in his bid to subsume the Pope’s territories into a newly unified Italy. The paper’s ownership was independent of the Church up until 1885 when the Vatican acquired it during the reign of Pope Leo XIII.
“The ‘Osservatore Romano’ helps the faithful to consider contemporary issues in the light of the Word of Christ and the Magisterium of the Church, while remaining attentive to the signs of the times,” said the Pope, speaking almost entirely without notes.
“In this perspective, the Holy See's newspaper is a vital resource, which needs to be increasingly understood and appreciated.”
The Pope noted how the newspaper often carried “positive and encouraging news” in comparison to the more gloomy mainstream press.
L’Osservatore Romano is using its 150th anniversary to expand its media operation. For the first time ever it’s providing a daily online news service in English. Until now, its daily edition has only been in Italian. The paper plans to expand the languages available online to include German, Spanish, French, Polish and Portuguese.
“Dear friends, continue to work joyfully in the great of ‘Areopagus’ of modern communications,” urged Pope Benedict, referring to the venue in first-century Athens where St. Paul dialogued with pagan Greeks.
The Holy Father drew his remarks to a close by encouraging the staff to remember that their sanctity is even more important than their technical and professional competence.
“What is vital above all is that you incessantly cultivate a spirit of prayer, service and faithful adherence to the teachings of Christ and His Church.”
In response, the newspaper’s editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, thanked Pope Benedict for his visit.
Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Blessed Juan de Palafox of Puebla, Archbishop of Mexico and Viceroy of New Spain, is proof that it is possible “to be holy as a politician,” writes a Mexican columnist.
“He had a brilliant career ahead for himself when he discovered the fleeting nature of worldly goods and honors, and thus he chose ecclesiastic life. But that did not save him from continuing to participate in public office during his time,” Jose Castellanos noted in a June 29 article published by the Archdiocese of Mexico City’s news service.
Castellanos noted that power can corrupt and that “examples of arbitrariness, and even disgrace, abound in Mexico and throughout the world.”
However, Bishop Juan de Palafox, beatified on June 5 in Burgo de Osma, Spain, was a noteworthy exception.
“He was educated in Jesuit schools and went to the universities of Alcala and Salamanca, and his skills as a jurist in the government led to his occupying important public offices, such as attorney for the Council of War and for the Council of the State,” Castellanos said.
His work as Viceroy of New Spain included fending off an invasion from Portuguese forces, reining in the power of city mayors and clarifying the rights of Indians.
“In summary, he was outstanding as a thinker, a fruitful writer, a committed patron of the arts, a protector of the Indians, a politician, a jurist, an editor, a poet and a mystic. He governed, taught and sanctified.”
But what did he get in return? Castellanos asked. “Enemies, not only in political life but in Church life as well, which forced him to return to Spain in debt and almost a total failure, but he was named Bishop of Osma and died at this post in misery.”
“It is possible to be a good politician. It is possible to be a holy politician as well.”
At the same time, “(i)t is not easy for those who choose what is correct politically instead of what is ‘politically correct.’ It engenders ingratitude, and it brings good not only to those who act thus, but also to those under their governance,” Castellanos said.
In the case of Bishop Juan de Palafox, he added, more than three hundred years had to pass for his heroic virtues to be recognized, “as virtue is not always popular, order is not always obeyed and grudges can last for years when they affect someone’s interests.”
Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 5, 2011 (CNA) - The Catholic Bishops of Venezuela are calling for prayers for the health of President Hugo Chavez, who announced last week from Cuba that he is suffering from cancer and has undergone two surgeries.
“We are happy that the veil has been lifted. Today things have been made clear and he urgently needs our prayers,” Archbishop Roberto Luckert said on June 1.
The archbishop, who has been the target of criticism from Chavez, said the announcement by the president last week finally lifted the veil on his state of health, which has caused uncertainty in the country regarding his long absence.
Archbishop Luckert spoke on behalf of Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian leaders when asking Venezuelans to pray for Chavez’s recovery.
Chavez appeared sluggish and fatigued in a video broadcast on Venezuelan television, in contrast with the usual fiery tone that has characterized his long speeches during his 12 years as leader of the country.
The president “appeared with great simplicity, he said ‘I am sick and I need you for my recovery,’” Archbishop Luckert said.
Robstown, Texas, Jul 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Father John Corapi’s religious order has found him guilty of substance abuse, sexual activity and violating his promise of poverty.
A July 5 press release from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) said that while Fr. Corapi was involved in public ministry he had “sexual relations and years of cohabitation with a woman known to him, when the relationship began, as a prostitute.”
The investigative team also found that he “repeatedly abused alcohol and drugs,” “recently engaged in ‘sexting’ activity with one or more women in Montana,” and holds legal title “to over $1 million in real estate, numerous luxury vehicles, motorcycles, an ATV, a boat dock, and several motor boats.”
His religious order said it is concerned “Fr. Corapi is now misleading (many) individuals through his false statements and characterizations.”
“It is for these Catholics that SOLT, by means of this announcement, seeks to set the record straight.”
A fact-finding team created by the order “acquired information from Fr. Corapi’s emails, various witnesses and public sources,” in response to a signed letter from a woman who is well known to Fr. Corapi.
The Society said in the news release that Fr. Corapi, under his vow of obedience, has been ordered to “return home to the society’s regional office and take up residence there,” and to “dismiss the lawsuit he has filed against his accuser.”
The order added that its “prior direction to Father John Corapi not to engage in any preaching or teaching, the celebration of the sacraments or other public ministry continues.”
As the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity sought to carry out its investigation into the allegations against Fr. Corapi, it found that its fact-finding team was hindered by a civil lawsuit the priest had filed and by sweeping non-disclosure agreements he had negotiated with his accuser and other witnesses.
The civil lawsuit argued that his principal accuser had committed slander and breach of contract.
Fr. Corapi refused to dismiss the lawsuit and the team discovered many other contracts that prevented “key witnesses” from speaking.
“Many of these witnesses likely had key information about the accusations being investigated and declined to answer questions and provide documents,” the order said.
The fact-finding team was composed of a priest-canonist, a psychiatrist and a lawyer, two of whom were members of religious orders and one a lay Catholic.
The statement notes that two were men and one was a woman, all with a “national reputation and substantial experience in ecclesiastical processes related to priest disciplinary issues.”
Fr. Corapi expressed his desire to leave the Society and the priesthood in a June 17 statement. He said he felt he was being “unjustly accused,” and that “(t)here are certain persons in authority in the Church that want me gone, and I shall be gone.”
Fr. Corapi has not yet been released from his vows.
“Catholics should understand that SOLT does not consider Father John Corapi as fit for ministry,” the statement concluded.
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - An unprecedented 2012 exhibition of around 100 historical documents from the Vatican’s Secret Archives will include items from Pope Pius XII’s wartime papacy and Galileo’s trial.
Cardinal Raffaele Farina, the Vatican’s archivist and librarian, explained to importance of the exhibit to the media on July 5. “Ancient pontifical documents of great importance, as well as letters concerning significant aspects of the life of the Church in the world, will be leaving the Vatican for the first time.”
Entitled “Lux in Arcana - the Vatican Secret Archives unveiled,” the exhibition will run from February to September next year at Rome’s Capitoline Museums. It marks the 400th anniversary of the archive’s inception.
The collection will include notable items, such as Pope Gregory VII’s “Dictatus Papae,” which outlines the powers of the Roman Pontiff; a 1530 letter from members of the English Parliament on King Henry VIII’s marital situation; minutes from the 1633 trial of Galileo Galilei, signed by the astronomer himself; and an 1887 letter from Native Americans to Pope Leo XIII, written on birch bark.
But what raised the most eyebrows at today’s press conference was the announcement that documents related to the wartime activities of Pope Pius XII will also be on display.
Critics of Pope Pius accuse him of not taking a stand against the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews, a charge strongly denied by his supporters, who call it a “black legend.”
“What we're talking about today is an important first – a double first,” explained Dr. Umberto Broccoli, who is in charge of cultural heritage for the City of Rome.
“The Pope’s personal secrets are revealed - the veil is taken away from them after years of being reserved only for the watchful eyes of scholars and experts - and are now to be shown to the public.”
“But it is also the first time that the Vatican will be making a loan to a museum in Rome.”
The Secret Archives were created in 1612 by Pope Paul V. They remained closed until 1881, when Pope Leo XIII opened them to academic researchers. The archives contain 52 miles of shelves holding over 35,000 historical texts and documents.
The word “secret” actually has the more ancient meaning of “private,” rather than modern definition of “hidden” or “mysterious.” This denotes that the archives are directly under the care of the Pope and not a department of the Roman Curia.
“It is a courageous gesture on the part of the Holy See to organize an exhibition at this level, at the same time agreeing to let these precious documents leave the Vatican,” said Mayor Giovanni Alemanno of the City of Rome.
“‘Lux Arcana’ is an opportunity to recount to both Romans and pilgrims the extraordinary adventure of man,” the mayor said.
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., has dismissed the recent ordination of 20 priests by the Society of Saint Pius X as illegitimate.
“As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church - Benedict XVI underlines - its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church,” said Father Lombardi in response to a question from CNA at a July 5 media conference.
Fr. Lombardi said that the Society’s canonical status will not be resolved “until the doctrinal questions are clarified.”
The Society of Saint Pius X is a traditionalist group founded in 1970 by the Frenchman Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Their relationship with the Vatican soured in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II. It was an act deemed to be schismatic by the Vatican.
While the excommunication of the four bishops was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, the Society still has not fully resolved doctrinal disagreements with the Catholic Church, which are mainly tied to the Second Vatican Council.
Over the past two weeks, the Society has ordained priests in ceremonies in Switzerland, Germany and the United States. The latter ordinations took place on June 17 at the group’s seminary in Winona, Minn. and were conducted by the St. Pius X’s Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay. He used his homily to accuse the Vatican of lacking unity and consistency in negotiations with the Society.
“When I speak of contradiction, my dear brethren, I mean that certain people in Rome consider us as being outside the Church, excommunicated, and even as having lost the Faith and being heretics. But there are others who very clearly accept us as Catholics,” he told the congregation gathered for the ordination of five priests.
“When Bishop de Galarreta (a Pius X bishop) and our priests go to Rome for the doctrinal discussions, they say Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. How can you have both attitudes at the same time? Do you see how strong this contradiction is?”
Pope Benedict has been eager to heal the rift between the Pius X Society and the Church. In 2007 he made it easier to celebrate Mass according to the older Tridentine rite, saying he hoped it would lead to “an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church.” But today’s developments won’t make that reconciliation any easier to achieve.