Madrid, Spain, Aug 15, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Madrid is hosting World Youth Day but all of Spain is joining in the celebration. More than 130,000 young people from across the world are in Spain’s 65 dioceses, before the international gathering begins on Aug. 16.
“The Days in the Dioceses are a great way to prepare for WYD,” said program organizer Javier Igea on August 11.
The young pilgrims from 137 countries are being offered free accommodation by each diocese in either schools, parishes, sports centers or homes. Each day the pilgrims meet with young local Catholics for prayer and worship at the shrines and religious sites held dear by each region.
So while French pilgrims in the north-eastern Diocese of Oviede are making a pilgrimage to the shrine of La Virgen de Covadogna, Italian pilgrims in nearby Galicia are visiting the tomb of the Apostle St. James in Santiago de Compostela.
Meanwhile, the city of Avila, famed for its connection to the 16th century St. Teresa of Jesus, hosted a retreat entitled “Teresa of Jesus: Rooted and built up in Christ.” The retreat culminated in a sound and light show on the evening of Aug. 13.
The visiting pilgrims are also being offered historical tours, non-religious cultural activities as well as free time to themselves.
“We participated in WYD at Rome in 2000 and lived the Days in the Dioceses, welcomed by families in the city of Imola,” said Patricia and George, a young married couple from Guadalajara, near Madrid. They are currently hosting three pilgrims from California.
“This WYD in Madrid is an opportunity for us to give back what we received 10 years ago and for the pilgrims who will come to have a chance to live the experience of living with a host family.”
Organizers say they are insistent that cost not be a barrier to participation. That means that 230 Haitian pilgrims are being financially supported in their visit to the historic region of La Mancha, just 40 minutes south of Madrid.
The “Days in the Dioceses” initiative was begun in 1997 at World Youth Day in Paris as a way of allowing all of France to participate in the event. It has since been replicated at each subsequent World Youth Day.
Rome, Italy, Aug 15, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro will host the next international celebration of World Youth Day, which will take place in 2013.
The announcement was confirmed by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, who said the date for the event was set a year early in order to avoid logistical conflicts with the World Cup, which Brazil will host in 2014.
Traditionally, Pope Benedict would have announced the site of the 2013 World Youth Day while in Madrid this week, however the confirmation was likely made early due to comments by Brazilian officials that the city had been chosen.
The governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral, and the city's mayor, Eduardo Pase are planning to be in Madrid this week to attend the youth event.
Some 14,000 young people from Brazil will also attend World Youth Day 2011.
Lima, Peru, Aug 15, 2011 (CNA) - The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Antonio Canizares, recently explained to CNA that Vatican II “was not at all a break” with the tradition of the Church.
The cardinal’s comments came in response to a question about the main obstacle preventing dialogue between the Holy See and the Society of St. Pius X. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunication against four bishops ordained in 1991 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who died excommunicated.
The Lefebvrists have held since their founding that Vatican II was a break with the Church’s tradition, and therefore they have rejected the magisterium of every Pope beginning with John XXIII.
The Spanish cardinal said the main obstacle is that the Lefebvrists do not accept “that there has been no break at all with tradition; tradition continues to be alive and open, and Vatican II is (part of the) tradition.” Unity in the Church cannot be achieved by ignoring the council’s place in the Church’s tradition, he said.
Cardinal Canizares explained later that while he is unfamiliar with the specifics surrounding the dialogue with the Lefebvrists, “I do know one thing, which is that the Pope and the Church are very willing and have a great desire for there to be unity and for those who have left the Church to return to full communion.”
Society of St. Pius X
On July 5, after the Society of St. Pius X ordained 20 men to the priesthood in Switzerland, Germany and the United Sates, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told CNA the ordinations were illegitimate. He reiterated what the Vatican said in 2009, “As long as the Society does not have canonical status … its ministers do not exercise a legitimate ministry in the Church.” Fr. Lombardi added that such status could not be defined “until doctrinal matters are clarified.”
The lifting of the excommunication
On January 24, 2009, Benedict XVI decided to lift the excommunication imposed on four bishops ordained by Lefebvre: Bernard Fellay, the current leader of the society, Richard Williamson, Alfonso de Galarreta and Tissier de Mallerais.
On January 28, 2009, at the conclusion of his general audience, the Pope explained the decision to lift the excommunication as “an act of paternal compassion” and that it was made “because these Bishops repeatedly manifested their active suffering for the situation in which they had found themselves.
“I hope that this gesture of mine will be followed by an earnest commitment on their behalf to complete the necessary further steps to achieve full communion with the Church, thus witnessing true fidelity to, and true recognition of, the Magisterium and the authority of the Pope and the Second Vatican Council,” he said.
The Vatican Secretary of State further clarified the extent of the Pope’s actions on February 4, 2009, and said the four bishops are obliged to grant “full recognition to the Second Vatican Council” and to the teachings of all the Popes since Pius XII.
The statement also required Bishop Richard Williamson to distance himself from the statements he previously made questioning the Holocaust, which were unknown to the Holy See at the time of the lifting of the excommunication.
“The remission of the excommunication has freed the four bishops from a very serious canonical penalty, but it has not changed the juridical status of the Society of Saint Pius X, which presently does not enjoy any canonical recognition by the Catholic Church. The four bishops, even though they have been released from excommunication, have no canonical function in the Church and do not licitly exercise any ministry within it,” the statement said.
Lefebrivst rejection of the Pope’s outreach
In January of 2010 Bishop Richard Williamson said the negotiations between the Society of St. Pius X and the Vatican were “a conversation between the deaf” that would never result in an agreement because the positions of both sides were “absolutely irreconcilable.”
In February of 2011, Bishop Bernard Fellay confirmed Williamson’s opinion, and in an interview with members of the society in the United States he said that talks with the Holy See were unsuccessful in convincing Vatican officials that the Church needs to return to a state prior to Vatican II.
Fellay said the Holy See told them that "doctrinal problems exist with the Society and that they must be clarified before canonical recognition” can be granted.
Denver, Colo., Aug 15, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) held its 2011 national summit in Denver from August 12 to 14, offering members a forum to discuss the revival of faith they hope to lead.
“Our country needs a new evangelization,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez told conference participants on the morning of August 13. “Our country needs a renewal of its spirit! And this is our responsibility - as Latinos, as Catholics, as Americans.”
Archbishop Gomez, the organization's episcopal moderator, set the tone for Saturday's presentations with a talk on the future of the Church in the U.S. He spoke of Latino Catholics' responsibility to lead their own communities, and the whole nation, to a recognition of God and Christian values.
“Our society increasingly encourages a kind of practical atheism in which people go about their daily lives as if God does not exist,” the Los Angeles archbishop noted. “In fact, about 20 percent of our fellow citizens today claim to have no religious affiliation. And that number is even higher among young adults.”
“This is the culture we are called to influence with our increasing presence and numbers,” he told the assembled Latino leaders. “This is the culture we are called to evangelize as disciples of Jesus Christ.”
As the U.S. shifts away from religion, it is also becoming demographically more Latino and Hispanic. Several speakers noted that these trends represent both a threat and an opportunity - with the outcome depending on whether Latino Catholics step forward to lead a revival of Catholic faith, or lose their own ties to the Church through the same secularization process.
Dr. Jonathan Reyes, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, followed Archbishop Gomez's remarks by outlining the causes of secularization, and suggesting counter-measures. Reyes emphasized that efforts to preserve “cultural Catholicism” will not suffice, stating that Catholics instead must cultivate a bold, evangelistic spirit.
Reyes explained that the Church now faces a number of new challenges, including the dissolution of social relationships, rejection of truth claims, unprecedented mass media exposure, and attacks on all forms of authority - particularly the authority of parents. In this environment, he explained, Catholics often “drift away” from the Church.
His suggestions for maintaining the faith included limiting exposure to media, serving the poor in a face-to-face manner, and studying the Catholic faith in order to propose it to youth in an intelligent and convincing way.
Above all, he said Latino Catholics and others must work proactively, not “sit still” and “play defense” in the face of secularization.
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput was scheduled to give the keynote speech at lunch on Saturday. However, he did not deliver the speech as planned, and instead chose to make it available to conference participants in print the following day.
In the speech, he offered a reflection on the United States' religious and political history, emphasizing the danger of interpreting America's founding as a mandate for radical secularism. Faithful Latino Catholics, he said, stand to remind all Americans that faith is “always personal but never private.”
But he, like Reyes, emphasized that “the day when culture, ethnicity and habit could sustain a Catholic life is gone - and it's not coming back.” In the future, “being a Catholic will need to be a conscious choice.”
“Social data show that Latinos leave the Catholic faith at the same rate as every other ethnic group,” Archbishop Chaput warned. “So the idea that more Latinos automatically mean a more 'Catholic' America is just pious self-delusion.”
But Latinos' faith and culture can be “very great goods for our Church and for American life,” if individuals, families, and communities are willing to be formed by the teachings of the Church, and live them out.
“Being truly 'Catholic' in 2011 - whether we trace our roots to Mexico, or France, or Ireland, or Korea - means one thing: it means living a life of sacrificial witness,” said the Denver archbishop and Archbishop-designate of Philadelphia. “The privilege of that witness will fall especially on leaders.”
The afternoon continued with a panel discussion on immigration, featuring Phoenix Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted as well as University of Colorado Economics Professor Dr. Brian Cadena and veteran immigration lawyer Carlos Iturregui.
In his heartfelt remarks, Bishop Olmsted noted that “being Catholic and trying to deal with the issue of immigration is a daily invitation to share in the passion of Christ” and “to be one in this great suffering this issue has caused.”
Bishop Olmsted stressed the Church's role as a moral voice in a contentious and emotional debate.
“I think our whole country could learn from the Catholic perspective,” the Arizona bishop said. “To be Catholic is to embrace, with respect, every culture, every nation, language, race, and ethnic group.”
Bishop Olmsted also explained that faith confirms an already-existing sense of humanity's oneness and universal dignity. In reality, he said, those divided by nationality are already “brothers and sisters to one another” - and the real question is “whether we'll live as who we are.”
Bishop Olmsted also spoke of how the Virgin Mary - in her significance for North American Catholics, as Our Lady of Guadalupe - can bring believers of all backgrounds together, and overcome the divisions that prevent charitable and truthful discussion.
Catholic philanthropist and investor Frank Hanna spoke at dinner on Saturday, drawing laughter as he announced that his theme was, “How Catholic Latinos can become the wealthiest people in the world.” But Hanna's concept of wealth is not simply a matter of money, having more to do with people's sense of hope and the integrity of their relationships.
“I think we need a new philosophy of wealth,” Hanna proposed. “The word comes from the Middle English word 'weal, ' meaning 'well-being.'” True wealth, he explained, is not the “economic net worth” calculated on a balance sheet.
“Wealth is a measure of our well-being, most accurately measured in the quality of the human capital, the relationships we possess, and the hope and expectations of those relationships,” he said.
And it's in this sense that Hanna believes Latino Catholics can find surpassing wealth.
“The Latino culture is not one of raw materialism - and the Anglo culture knows that about the Latino culture," Hanna observed. "The Latino culture is not one of the individual, but of the Church and the family, and that's another area where you can lead us.”
Saturday night ended on a poignant note, as Archbishop Chaput - a member of CALL's board of directors, who will leave Denver to become Archbishop of Philadelphia in September - received gifts and expressions of appreciation from the association's Denver chapter.
Archbishop Chaput was visibly moved, but joked that the “best thing” he had done as Archbishop of Denver was to ordain Archbishop Gomez in 2001. The Los Angeles archbishop, who was Archbishop Chaput's auxiliary in Denver for four years after that ordination, rose from his seat to embrace his consecrator and fellow bishop.
The following morning, Archbishop Chaput celebrated Sunday Mass for conference attendees, concelebrating with Archbishop Gomez as well as Bishop Olmsted and other clergy gathered in Denver.
Vatican City, Aug 15, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on Aug. 15, saying that the celebration gives Christians hope of a future united with Christ, both in this life and in heaven.
“This feast,” he said, “tells us that we too will be with Jesus in the joy of God and invites us to have courage, to believe that the power of the Resurrection of Christ can work in us as well.”
From his summer residence at Castel Gandalfo, just south of Rome, the Pope celebrated Mass in the morning on Monday and later led the Angelus prayer at noon.
He remarked during his homily that the feast day serves to inspire the faithful to evangelize modern society and helps “make us men and women who every day try to live as resurrected, carrying the light of goodness into the darkness of evil in the world.”
He also reflected on the daily reading from the Gospel of Luke, where the Blessed Mother travels to visit her cousin St. Elizabeth, who is overjoyed that the “mother of her Lord” would come to her.
“Mary comes into the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth, but does not enter alone. She enters carrying in her womb the child in which God himself became man.”
The Pope said that the evangelist Luke highlights the significance of Elizabeth, her husband Zechariah and the baby in her womb, John the Baptist, waiting for Mary's arrival.
“Zechariah and Elizabeth and the infant John the Baptist are, in fact, the symbol of all the righteous of Israel, whose heart, full of hope, awaits the coming of the Messiah,” he said.
Pope Benedict observed that the Holy Spirit then opens the eyes of St. Elizabeth to recognize that Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant since she carries the Son of God within her very self.
When Elizabeth exclaims, “look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy,” St. Luke uses the term “skirtan” which translates to “bounce.”
This, the Pope explained, is the same term used to describe the holy dance of King David in front of the Ark of the Covenant when it was returned to Israel in the Old Testament book of Second Samuel.
“John the Baptist in the womb is dancing before the ark, like David,” he said. “Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant, before which the heart leaps for joy at the Mother of God in the world.”
Men and women today, the Pope said, are also the recipients of God's love and must do as Mary did – accept Christ in faith, be enlightened and guided by his word and follow him every day.
Before praying the Angelus at noon, Pope Benedict observed that the Feast of the Assumption is celebrated by Christians of both the Eastern and Western Church and that the dogma of the Assumption was proclaimed in 1950.
After the prayer, he greeted those gathered at Castel Gandolfo in several languages, including English.
“May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith,” he told pilgrims, “that we too may attain the glory of the Resurrection and the fulfillment of our hope in her Son’s promises.”
Madrid, Spain, Aug 15, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Although Japan's population is only one percent Catholic, two World Youth Day pilgrims from that country are getting a lot of attention for their handmade banner that says “Love from Japan.”
“A friend of ours stitched it – it is the Virgin Mary, all the way from Japan,” said Tetsu Itoh, a World Youth Day social media volunteer who explained the attention-grabbing banner to CNA.
The light gray banner depicts the Virgin Mary wearing traditional Asian attire, holding the boy Jesus, with both dressed in light colors. The banner says “Love from Japan” in English and Japanese.
Kyoko Kitagawa, another Japanese social media volunteer for World Youth Day, said her friend Abe Mihoko painstakingly stitched the banner onto cloth back home in Japan.
“It took 2 months to stitch, and she was not able to come to Madrid because she has a new baby,” Kitagawa explained.
Itoh and Kitagawa are in Madrid serving as volunteers for World Youth Day's social media effort, a top priority for the organization. Resources including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube allow Internet users around the world to follow a constant stream of updates, and make a “virtual pilgrimage.”
World Youth Day’s social media team hopes that countries with low number of Catholics will particularly benefit from the social media initiative, with help from international volunteers like Tetsu and Kyoko.