Archive of July 31, 2011

Pope makes plea for drought-stricken Africa

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Jul 31, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI’s Sunday Angelus address highlighted the plight of those affected by drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.

“One thinks of the many brothers and sisters these days, in the Horn of Africa, who suffer the dramatic consequences of famine, exacerbated by war and the lack of strong institutions,” the Pope told pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles to the south of Rome. 

The Horn of Africa refers to the group of countries situated on the Somali peninsula in the north-east of the continent. These include Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia itself. All three states plus Kenya, which borders to the south, have been declared a drought zone by the United Nations. It’s estimated to be the worst of its kind in 60 years.

“The Word of God recalls how the water and bread are necessary for every human being,” said Pope Benedict drawing upon today’s Gospel passage which retold the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes by Jesus.

“Jesus reminds us our own responsibility: to do what we can to help those who suffer from hunger and thirst. The task is immense. In this vacation time, do not forget others and do not be afraid to open our hands and hearts to help all those in need.”

The U.N. has also declared a famine in parts of Somalia. There, at least six out of every 10,000 children are dying every day due to starvation says the U.N. 25 percent of the Somali population is also now displaced. The situation is being made worse in those parts of the country controlled by Islamist groups who are refusing to accept Western aid.

The Pope said today’s Gospel “reminds us that it is forbidden to be indifferent to the tragedy of hunger and thirst! It encourages us to give them food to eat, and share our bread with the needy. Following Christ we must be sensitive to the poverty of nations.”

Pope Benedict said that Jesus Christ wants to take care of both our physical and spiritual needs.

“Christ is attentive to material needs but wants to give more because man is always ‘hungry for something more, has need of something more’,” he said quoting from his 2007 book Jesus of Nazareth.

This need is fulfilled in the Eucharist which is foreshadowed in today’s Gospel, said the Pope. He added that the Eucharist helps us to love God more and, so, to love others too.

“In the Eucharist Jesus also makes us witnesses of God’s compassion for each brother and sister. The Eucharistic mystery thus gives rise to the service of charity towards the other.”

He then concluded by imparting his apostolic blessing.

The Pope will return to his Rome residence in September.

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Dawn Eden recalls Archbishop Sambi's love for the Jewish people

Washington D.C., Jul 31, 2011 (CNA) - Author and Catholic convert from Judaism Dawn Eden remembers Archbishop Pietro Sambi as a pastoral leader with a “fatherly” heart, who shared a special connection with her over his deep affection for the Jewish faith.

Archbishop Sambi, the Pope’s diplomatic representative to the U.S., died on Wednesday, July 27 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after lung surgery complications.

Eden, known for her 2006 bestseller “The Thrill of the Chaste,” remembers a unique and surprising series of events with the late archbishop that are forever branded in her memory.

In a July 29 interview with CNA, she recalled meeting Archbishop Sambi for the first time in 2007 at a dinner in Washington, D.C.

Eden remembered a friend introducing her to the archbishop as a Jewish convert, since the nuncio had “a special affection for the Jewish people,” having served as the papal representative to the Holy Land.

“Before I could get any words out, Archbishop Sambi looked me in the eyes with a big smile and took both my hands in his and held them tight,” Eden said.

“You must come and have tea with me at the nunciature,” Archbishop Sambi told her, “and I will show you pictures of my late friend Cardinal Lustiger and I will tell you a story about him.”

Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a renowned French archbishop who converted to Catholicism from the Jewish faith and died in 2007 just weeks earlier, was “a great friend” of Archbishop Sambi, Eden said.

“I was quite stunned,” she added, “to be immediately welcomed” by the archbishop in such an intimate, friendly way.

As soon as she got home, Eden contacted the nunciature and “heard back immediately” from  the archbishop's secretary. Within days, Eden was welcomed by Archbishop Sambi into his parlor at the nunciature for tea and cookies.

Once seated, Archbishop Sambi earnestly showed her different photos of the late cardinal's life, including the French prelate's visit to the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, where his mother died.

“It was very important to him that I get a feel for who Cardinal Lustiger was” and the way that his  Jewish faith “was integral to his Catholic faith,” Eden said.

It was then that Archbishop Sambi told Eden why he felt so compelled after meeting her to invite her to tea.

He explained that just three days before Cardinal Lustiger died in August of 2007, he spoke over the phone from Washington, D.C. to the ailing cardinal at his residence in Paris.

“I have just one last request of God, it's just a small request and I know he will not deny me,” Cardinal Lustiger had told Archbishop Sambi.

“What is it?” the archbishop asked.

“I would like to have tea with you one more time,” Cardinal Lustiger said – which were among the last words he ever spoke to the archbishop.

Archbishop Sambi then told Eden that when she approached him at the dinner a month after Cardinal Lustiger's death, he felt that this was his opportunity “to have tea one last time with the cardinal in spirit.”

“Because I, like the cardinal, was a convert from Judaism,” Eden said.

The story of her tea with the archbishop “illustrates, so much better than a simple word of praise, how deep his love was for the Jewish people,” she added.

Not only did the archbishop meet with Eden again, but also with her sister, Rabbi Jennifer Goldstein Lewis, and her father as well.

“The way that the archbishop was so warm, so fatherly and personable, it felt like he was conveying the Holy Father's love for each one of us, which is of course, an extension of God's love for each one of us,” Eden said.

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St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists, celebrated August 1

Vatican City, Jul 31, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - On August 1, the Catholic Church celebrates St. Alphonsus Liguori, the eighteenth-century bishop who is honored as a Doctor of the Church for his missionary zeal and his accomplishments as a moral theologian.

Alphonsus Liguori was born in Naples, Italy in 1696, the son of a naval officer and his Spanish-Italian wife. He was the first of his parents' seven children, and known in the family for his stubbornness. However, he was also extremely bright and became a virtuoso harpsichordist by the age of 13. Alphonsus loved music, especially opera, and would go on to compose numerous classical works.

As a boy, he did not attend school, but received private tutoring that allowed him to make incredibly rapid progress. By the age of 16, Alphonsus had earned his degree in law. He passed the bar examination and became a practicing lawyer before he had even turned 20. By the age of 26 he had gained a formidable reputation in the courts.

By that time, however, he had also begun to neglect prayer in favor of social functions and a more luxurious lifestyle. He later wrote that these “pleasures of the world” were truly “pleasures which are filled with the bitterness of gall and sharp thorns.”

The turning point of Alphonsus' life came in 1723, when he was part of a lawsuit between a nobleman of Naples and the Grand Duke of Tuscany involving a substantial amount of money. Alphonsus misunderstood a critical piece of documentary evidence, and suffered a humiliating defeat in the courtroom. He left the courthouse, never to return, so upset that he did not eat for three days.

On August 28, 1723, while visiting the sick at a local hospital, the young man had a life-changing experience of God. He saw a mysterious light, felt the building shake, and heard the voice of God asking him to “leave the world” and place himself totally in his service.

Alphonsus' father, already dismayed by his son's abandonment of the legal profession, opposed his plan to become a priest. But his stubborn son would not be dissuaded, and he eventually received ordination in 1726 at age 30.

In 1729, Alphonsus met an older priest, Father Thomas Falcoia, who envisioned the founding of a new religious congregation with the aim of imitating Christ's virtues more perfectly. In 1731, a religious sister had a vision in which Christ himself indicated that he had chosen Alphonsus to lead the new congregation.

In 1732, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer – better known as the Redemptorists – had its formal beginning. During the early years Alphonsus struggled to keep the order from fragmenting, while continuing to travel, write, preach, and above all, to pray. In 1749 the Redemptorists' statutes and rule of life received the approval of Pope Benedict XIV.

Despite this approval, the Redemptorists met with hostility from the Prime Minister of Naples, Bernardo Tanucci, who sought to eliminate the privileges of the Church and secularize the kingdom. Tanucci refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the congregation, which was consequently in danger of state suppression for decades.

Against his own will, Alphonsus was forced to become the bishop of Naples' small Diocese of St. Agatha in 1762. He spent 13 years serving the poor and effectively reforming Church institutions that had fallen into serious disorder, though he felt disappointed with his own work and asked a series of Popes to accept his resignation.

Alphonsus also struggled with poor health, and received the Annointing of the Sick eight times prior to his last reception at death. He was partially paralyzed for the last two decades of his life. In 1775, Pope Pius VI finally allowed him to resign from his diocese. Alphonsus expected his death to come soon, and prepared accordingly.

He would, however, survive for more than a decade after his resignation. His last years were similarly filled with trials, including a split in the Redemptorist congregation that would not find its full remedy until after his death. Three years before he died, despite his strong faith and devotion, Alphonsus experienced a spiritual crisis involving extreme anxiety and temptations to despair.

On August 1, 1787, St. Alphonsus Liguori died at mid-day, his death coinciding with the bells that were calling the faithful to pray the Angelus. The saint gave the Church more than 100 books – including “The Glories of Mary,” “Preparation for Death,” and “The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ” – and led a religious congregation that survives into the present day.

The Catholic Church canonized St. Alphonsus in 1839, and declared him to be a Doctor of the Church in 1871.

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World Youth Day pilgrims rev up for travels

Warsaw, Ind., Jul 31, 2011 (CNA) - The excitement was palpable as pilgrims gathered from across the diocese for a special Mass and World Youth Day informational meeting at Sacred Heart Parish in Warsaw, Indiana on July 22.

One-hundred-and-twenty youth and adults will be led by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of South Bend on a 12-day spiritual pilgrimage through Europe that will culminate in Madrid, Spain, for the five-day World Youth Day event Aug. 16-21 — the 12th event held since 1986.

Mass was celebrated by Bishop Rhoades who was joined at the altar by newly ordained Fathers Terrance and Matt Coonan, Father Drew Curry, Father Paul Bueter and Franciscan Father David Engo, all of whom are scheduled to travel to Spain.

The congregation that gathered had truly begun their pilgrimage of prayer. Warsaw had been hit by severe storms earlier in the day that rendered Sacred Heart Church without power.

Without benefit of air conditioning, lights or audio system, the Mass brought the group back to basics. Fortunately the oppressive heat did not dampen the prayerfulness or joy of these faithful travelers who chuckled as Bishop Rhoades admitted, “This is a good way to start a pilgrimage — with a little hardship.”

Miraculously, the power came on part way through the bishop’s homily, much to everyone’s delight.

During his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke of the theme of World Youth Day chosen by Pope Benedict XVI from Col. 2:7, “Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith,”

“Think about those words — We’re here because we’re rooted in Jesus Christ,” Bishop Rhoades said.

“We all need to be built up in Jesus Christ. All seek to follow, but all can grow in faith and be firm. That’s why we’re going,” Bishop Rhoades said, adding that he hoped that the pilgrims would all be changed when they returned from their spiritual journey.

“You’re going to experience the Church like you never have,” he said.

Bishop Rhoades informed the rapt pilgrims of the historic locations they would be visiting on this trip abroad and spoke briefly of the many saints that enrich the ancient history of Europe, including St. Bernadette of Lourdes, France, St. Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross and St. Therese of Avilla.

Turning to the Gospel, Bishop Rhoades identified Mary Magdelene as one of closest disciples to Jesus, who chose her to be the first to see Him in His glorified body after His resurrection. “Then, she went to tell the Apostles. … Isn’t that our vocation? To have a close relationship with Jesus and bring His message of love to others?” the bishop challenged.

He reminded the congregation that it takes courage to share their faith witness.

“I can’t think of better evangelists than young people like you,” he said.

The bishop offered a special blessing on a collection of pilgrim shells, a tradition of pilgrimage, that will be distributed to the travelers at the beginning of their journey. He prayed, “Bring all to greater holiness,” as he sprinkled the shells with holy water.

The Mass was followed by a light supper in the school gymnasium where the staff of the diocesan offices of Campus and Young Adult Ministry and Youth Ministry and Spiritual Formation kept the plates overflowing with pizza. The cohesive group visited with resounding joy as Bishop Rhoades made his way around the room meeting the families and youth of the diocese.

The meeting officially began with a rousing rendition of an original diocesan World Youth Day song written by Father Drew Curry, pastoral vicar of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, and Deacon Jacob Meyer, and performed by members of the youth group there.

Following logistic details of the trip provided by Cindy Black, director of the Office of Youth Ministry and assistant director, Megan Oberhausen, adult leaders were recognized and paired with young pilgrims who would travel together as groups. The small groups then assembled separately to get to know each other and discuss their preparation plans.

Caitlin Worm of St. Pius X in Granger is a student at the University of Chicago. She is a 2009 convert to the Catholic faith and feels that attending World Youth day will rejuvenate her developing faith.

“I love the universality of the Church,” she said. “It’s great to have the same Mass all over the world. There will be people there from every country. Amazing!”

“The chance to see the Holy Father is an amazing opportunity,” Worm added. “… I want to embrace the brotherhood of all my Catholic brothers and sisters from around the world.”

Lucy Swick of St. Mary Parish in Bristol will be a freshman at Butler University in the fall. She and her two brothers, Nathan and Brendan will be attending World Youth Day.

Though she admits to having no expectations, Swick said, “I’ve never been out of the country. It’ll be intense to be with so many Catholics from all over who share the same beliefs.”

Franky Navarro and brother Jesse both students at Northrop High School in Fort Wayne are on their way to Madrid with the blessing of their mother Blanca, who attended World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002.

“It was an amazing experience that I wish everyone could have,” Blanca said of her experience. “I was blessed and I want them (her sons) to be blessed. Money was an issue at first but they worked really hard.”

Friends, family and community members have donated to their diligent fundraising efforts of car wash and chocolate sales.

Franky said of his vision of the trip, “It’ll be a cool experience so you can grow your faith and know your religion.”

Brother Jesse added, “It’ll be cool to have Mass with the Pope and meeting people with the same faith from all over the world.”

St. Therese parishioner Katie Stein, who will attend Indiana University-Purdue University in the fall, said she’s not sure what to expect, but she “hopes to come back changed.”

“It’s an incredible opportunity to go out of the country with a huge gathering of Catholics,” she said.

Stein’s friend, Peter McGovern, also a student at Indiana University-Purdue University, was a toddler when his parents took him to World Youth Day in Denver in 1993. He’s excited to experience this pilgrimage as a young adult and said, “It’ll be amazing to see that faith is not just in your city … but universal … and learn from it, and see the pope.”

McGovern, who attends St. Patrick Parish in Arcola, hopes to “grow closer in his faith and make a lifetime memory” in Madrid.

One of the adult leaders, Patrick Glowaski, parishioner of St. John the Baptist in Fort Wayne, is a business man in the city. Like many of the pilgrims interviewed, he holds no expectation for the pilgrimage and said, “I felt like this was a good spiritual journey for me to understand faith a  little better and share it with people.”

Best friends, Rose Becker of St. Jude Parish in Fort Wayne, and Morgan Merser of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Fort Wayne, will both be seniors at Bishop Luers High School in the fall. The friends became interested in the trip to World Youth Day when Bishop Rhoades spoke of it at their school. After some internet investigation they decided to make the pilgrimage together.

Bishop Rhoades noted that there is “joy in these young people and an excitement.”

He added, “ They’re open and excited about their faith. … I can tell it’s going to be a incredible pilgrimage.”

Cindy Black summed it up for all when she said, “Everyone that is going has been called. … God has called them and has something in store for them.”

Follow the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend World Youth Day travels on the official diocesan blog at

Printed with permission from Today's Catholic News, newspaper for the Diocese of South Bend, Indiana.

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