Rome, Italy, Aug 4, 2011 (CNA) - One of Europe’s foremost Catholic political thinkers has called for a new generation of politicians to defend and promote orthodox Christian ideals.
“We need people with conscience in politics,” said Rocco Buttiglione, the vice-president of the Italian Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies to CNA.
“And, I think the great reservoir of values today is in the Christian people and we must tell them, you must make politics, you must enter into politics, you must make with your hands the future of the land.”
Buttiglione made political headlines around the world in 2004 when his nomination as Italy’s representative to the European Union’s commission was blocked due to his Catholic beliefs on such issues as homosexuality. It is an episode that doesn’t seem to have embittered his view of political life.
“Good things have a high price, but they are worth it, of course. If you want to be Catholic in politics, sometimes you have to make sacrifices and value your conscience more than your position, more than your seat in politics. But, would you trust a man that put his political career higher than his conscience?”
Already several young Catholic politicians in Italy are responding to the challenge laid down by Buttiglione and others.
“Politics must be done by heroes,” said Simone Budini, the 24-year-old co-founder of a new Italian political party, Giovani Liberi e Forti (Young, Free and Strong). The new party is based on Catholic social principles.
“Heroes are men who are in politics because they love their city and they are ready to give their lives for their city. And, nowadays, we have the opposite example.
We've got people who are ready to sell their city to have pleasure for their lives.”
As well as being a frontline politician, Rocco Buttiglione is also a renowned academic. In fact, he is a professor of political science at Saint Pius V University in Rome as well as a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. And it is from this standpoint that he observes worrying historical parallels for contemporary politics.
“I think that we very often forget that democracy is a very delicate creature,” he stated pointing toward the first flourishing of democracy in ancient Greece which collapsed after 171 years.
“And, what is the reason that Greek democracy died? Because of moral relativism, corruption,” he said adding that the moral relativists of today are, in fact, the intellectual descendents of the sophists of ancient Greece.
“Western democracies run the danger of dying because political activity is not based on principals.”
Despite the dire predictions, the 63-year-old academic and politician is not without hope for the future. The key to success, he said, lies with a five-letter word – truth.
“We must bring truth to politics again. We must be able to tell the truth to the people. Very often politicians don't tell the truth. Very often politicians tell the people what they want to hear. And, what the people very often want to hear is not the truth.”
Denver, Colo., Aug 4, 2011 (CNA) - Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. praised the Knights of Columbus over the group's recent purchase of the John Paul II Cultural Center, which will become a shrine and museum honoring the legacy of the late pontiff.
“I see this as the beginning of something extraordinary for the Church in America – north, central and south,” he told CNA on Aug. 3.
“The knights envision this becoming a national center for the New Evangelization.”
Supreme Knight Anderson said on Aug. 2 within the next year, the order will work closely with Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, Michigan to establish a national center, permanent museum and Shrine of Blessed John Paul II in Washington, D.C.
Anderson made the announcement at the Knights of Columbus' 129th annual convention, this year held in downtown Denver from Aug. 2-4.
The organization plans for the center to “be a place where English, Spanish and French-speaking pilgrims from throughout North America will encounter the mission and legacy of one of history's greatest popes,” he said.
The John Paul II Center – which was the initiative of now-retired Archbishop of Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida – has been beset by numerous financial difficulties over the years and borrowed heavily from the Archdiocese of Detroit.
Recently, the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan made a bid for the center but withdrew in March due to lack of funding.
Cardinal Wuerl told CNA that the new development shows a “continuity in that program that was begun so many years ago by Cardinal Maida.”
On the witness to the faith that the new shrine will provide in the Archdiocese of Washington, the cardinal noted that the “first role of the Church is always to teach.”
“We will be doing our best as we continue in this whole effort of the New Evangelization to make people aware of the wonder of the Gospel,” he said, “and to make them aware of it at a level where they'll have confidence to live it out in our culture and society – the world in which we live.”
Sioux Falls, S.D., Aug 4, 2011 (CNA) -
The Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota recently celebrated the interior restoration of its Cathedral of St. Joseph, completing a 15-year effort to bring classical beauty back to the nearly century-old worship space.
“This is not the end but rather the beginning of a new day for the Cathedral of St. Joseph as a place to see beauty, learn about the faith, and draw closer to God,” said Sioux Falls Bishop Paul J. Swain, who welcomed worshipers and visitors after blessing the restored cathedral's doors on July 25.
The formal dedication of the cathedral's new altar took place the next day, along with the dedication of other parts of the sanctuary including the crucifix, tabernacle, and the bishop's chair (or “cathedra”). Bishop Swain said both events were “wonderful opportunities to worship and give thanks to God for this sacred and restored cathedral.”
Former Sioux Falls bishop and current St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson attended the dedication, witnessing the completion of the redesign that he initiated during his leadership of the diocese. Bishop Donald J. Kettler of Fairbanks, Alaska, who is a former rector of the cathedral, also attended the ceremony.
“We are celebrating and giving thanks to God,” Bishop Swain said, “and to all who have so generously supported not only these two years of interior restoration, but all that has been done over the last 15 years.” The Cathedral of St. Joseph had been closed since 2009, and its parish Masses relocated elsewhere, to make way for the changes.
In addition to the artistic overhaul, designed by the acclaimed architect Duncan G. Stroik, the $16.2 million project also included extensive building maintenance and structural work, along with the complete replacement of the church's electrical wiring, sound system, lights, heating and air conditioning.
Stroik based his redesign on the original plans of Bishop Thomas O'Gorman – who dedicated the cathedral in 1919 – and architect Emmanuel Masqueray.
Among Stroik's most notable decisions was the re-painting of the cathedral's walls, which lost their original rich ornamentation in favor of a whitewashing during the 1970s.
Stroik also commissioned reproductions of the carved wooden confessional booths that were removed from the cathedral during the same period, and replaced the monochromatic stone tile floor with marble.
The re-opened worship space will host a number of significant events in the coming months, including a priestly ordination on Aug. 4, the premier concert in its “Sacred Arts Series” on Sept. 2, a gathering of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre on Sept. 16, and a Marian conference on Oct. 1.
Rome, Italy, Aug 4, 2011 (CNA) - Twenty elementary school children from northeast Japan promised Pope Benedict “they would never give up” in the face of adversity.
The children traveled from the Japanese city of Ofunato, to Italy and greeted the Pope at the conclusion of this week’s Wednesday General Audience, reports L’Osservatore Romano.
Ofunato is a coastal city which was impacted by radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
They told the Pope of their will to “live and be reborn” and of their effort to “rebuild our still-beautiful city.” They also pledged to “never lose their smiles, which are a source of hope.”
To symbolize this hope, the mayor of the Japanese city of Hokuto, Masashi Shirakura, presented the Pope with a branch of cherry tree blossoms.
This will to be reborn, he said, “is the same that lifted up Nagasaki after the nuclear blast of August 9, 1945. The flowers were the first to blossom just 30 days after the disaster, to the surprise of all. They became of symbol of hope,” the mayor said.
Rome, Italy, Aug 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Over 6,000 children in drought-stricken east Africa will receive a daily meal from this week onward. It is all thanks a charity founded by a Catholic aid worker who was recently declared a “CNN Hero” and awarded the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth for his work.
“The situation in east Africa has become increasingly desperate, with failed rains leading to dire food and water shortages. What was already a crisis has become an emergency,” Magnus MacFarlane Barrow, chief executive of Mary’s Meals, told CNA from the charity’s headquarters in Argyll, Scotland.
The initiative will focus upon the Turkana area of northern Kenya. It is just one of four countries in east Africa that have declared drought areas by the United Nations. The others are Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia.
The present drought is thought to be the worst in 60 years.
Mary’s Meals already works in Turkana providing children with a daily school meal. The idea is to give them the essential nutrition which then enables them to go to classes. Now, though, the charity will continue to provide that crucial meal during the school holidays as other food sources, such as crops and livestock, begin to perish due in the drought.
“Hunger is widespread and animals have started to die,” said Tim Flynn, administrator for the Catholic Diocese of Lodwar which delivers Mary’s Meals in the region.
“We know that things are going to get worse because there is no expectation of any rain, if it comes at all, before October.”
The Mary’s Meals assistance will primarily target nursery-aged children, the most at risk age group for hunger-related diseases. The new program will bring the total number of children that Mary's Meals reaches in Kenya to more than 24,000.
“We are considering how we can respond to further urgent requests for more help from our friends and partners in Northern Kenya,” said Magnus.
Inspired by his Catholic faith, Magnus founded Mary’s Meals in 2002 after meeting a 14-year-old Malawian boy whose mother was dying of AIDS. When Magnus asked the boy what he wanted from life, his reply was: “To have enough food to eat and to go to school one day.”
Today Mary’s Meals works in 16 of the world’s poorest countries, including Sudan, Malawi, Haiti and Liberia, and feeds over 532,000 children.
Washington D.C., Aug 4, 2011 (CNA) - Catholic attorney and writer Mary Hasson recently discussed a new federal mandate that employers’ health care plans must cover contraceptives and sterilizations.
In her column, Hasson writes:
“Yay! Free sex!”
So read the Facebook status update posted by “Cheri,” a 20-something, sexually active, single woman.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation that contraceptives and sterilization procedures should be covered by insurers as preventive care—with no co-pay or costs to hip young women like Cheri.
Cheri must have lifted her glass in toast to the Department of Health and Human Services a few days later when, with uncharacteristic speed, they issued new regulations implementing the IOM recommendation. The new mandate (effective in 2012) compels insurers to cover costs associated with FDA-approved contraceptives and sterilization procedures (fittings, devices, pills, emergency contraception, office visits) and counseling—at no cost to patients.
Despite Cheri’s lusty visions of “free,” sexual delight, the new regulations portend bad news for women – low-income women in particular – and for religious believers.
Hasson's column can be read at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/cw/post.php?id=574
Rome, Italy, Aug 4, 2011 (CNA) - When Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Spain for World Youth Day in 18 days time he will find a country gripped by economic crisis. Despite that, the papal nuncio to Madrid says Spanish enthusiasm for the papal visit is undiminished.
“Spain is waiting for the Holy Father with great desire and hope that he will also assist a recovery on a spiritual level,” said Archbishop Renzo Fratini to Vatican Radio Aug. 4, adding that in Madrid itself “there is great expectation and the whole city is abuzz.”
Spanish unemployment is currently the highest in the industrialized world with nearly half of all young people unable to find work.
Spain “is going through a crisis of values and believes that the Pope will bring to this country a new wind,” said the nuncio, although he stressed that Pope Benedict’s mission will be primarily spiritual.
This year’s World Youth Day will take place in the Spanish capital Aug. 16-20. The Pope will arrive on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 18. In total, he will preside at nine events with young people over the following four days.
That will include hearing young people’s confessions on the Saturday at Madrid’s Jardines del Buen Retiro park before presiding over Sunday Mass at the city’s Cuatro Vientos Airport. Hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims are expected to attend.
“Many young people feel disillusioned and are in need of new hope and so this day - I believe - represents a new beginning,” said the nuncio. He sees this World Youth Day as a crucial component in Pope Benedict’s vision of a ‘new evangelization’ which will re-convert the traditionally Christian West back to a belief in Jesus Christ.
“The Pope will also make time for confessions - a testimony to indicate that the Christian life really starts from an inner renewal, from a conversion: the return to God.”
The theme for World Youth Day in Madrid is “Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the Faith,” taken from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. Archbishop Fratini believes this to be an apt slogan particularly in a time of economic uncertainty.
“I believe it is a good opportunity to rediscover the foundations of the fundamental choice of Christian life: live it every day in relationship with others and in a dimension of solidarity and openness to the world,” said the archbishop. He hopes the week of events will help lead many young people to discover their vocation in life.
The archbishop concluded by assuring those planning to visit Madrid this month that the organization of the event is in hand with over 20,000 volunteers already in place and ready to assist.
Denver, Colo., Aug 4, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said on Aug. 3 that most illegal immigrants are forced to leave their homeland in order to provide a better life for their families.
“Most of the men and women who are here illegally have traveled hundreds even thousands of miles. They have left everything behind, risked their safety and even their lives,” he said.
“They did this, not for their own comfort or selfish needs. They did this to feed their loved ones. To be good mothers and fathers. To be loving sons and daughters.”
Archbishop Gomez made his remarks at the Knight of Columbus' 129th annual convention, this year held in downtown Denver, Colo. from Aug. 2-4.
“Many of you are fathers or mothers,” he told members of the order. “So the question to have to ask yourselves is this: What wouldn’t you do to provide for your loved ones? To feed hungry mouths? To give your children a better future?”
“Our perspective on this issue will change if you begin to see these 'illegals' for who they really are – mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – not much different from yourselves.”
The archbishop said that if everyone in North America traced their genealogies, it would “lead us out beyond our borders to some foreign land where each of our ancestors originally came from.”
“In my personal case, the first members of my family came to what now is Texas in 1805,” he noted.
Archbishop Gomez underscored that our “inheritance” as American citizens comes “to us now as a gift and as a duty,” which means that we must have “empathy for this new generation of immigrants.”
“For Christians, empathy means seeing Jesus Christ in every person and especially in the poor and the vulnerable,” he added. “And we need to remember, my friends: Jesus was uncompromising on this point.”
“In the evening of our lives, he told us, our love for God will be judged by our love for him in the person of the least among us. This includes, he said, the immigrant or the stranger.”
The Los Angeles archbishop noted that the immigrants he encounters every day in his diocese “are people who are not afraid of hard work or sacrifice.”
“They are people who have courage and the other virtues – and who value God, family and community.”
He also noted that almost 70 percent of Hispanics in the U.S. are Catholics.
“We are called to see all men and women as our brothers and sisters in Christ – but especially those who share in the one Body of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.”
Archbishop Gomez said that this “is why I believe comprehensive immigration reform offers us a special moment as a nation – and as a Church.”
He emphasized that immigration “is not a problem but an opportunity.”
“As immigrants have in every generation, this new generation of immigrants promises to make us a stronger, more virtuous and prosperous America,” he said.