St. Petersburg, Fla., Sep 16, 2011 (CNA) - Country music star and Catholic convert Collin Raye is set to be the new spokesman of the Life and Hope Network founded by Terri Schiavo's family.
“I'm really excited to be a part of it,” Raye told CNA. “I'm amazed that they chose me.”
In a Sept. 14 interview, Raye – who has has sold over eight million albums and has been nominated five times as country music’s Male Vocalist of the Year – said he was thrilled when the network approached him.
The organization started after Terri Schiavo, a severely disabled woman, died of starvation in March of 2005, two weeks after her husband won the right in court to remove her feeding tube.
Today, over 1,000 families have contacted the network to ask for assistance and the group has shared its mission in nine countries and 42 states.
“What the Life and Hope network does is provide an already pretty impressive network list of attorneys and doctors that are available and are committed to stopping things from happening again like what happened to Terri,” Raye explained.
“And unfortunately that's a daily occurrence,” he said. “I thought Terri's case was much more exclusive than it actually is, but it happens all the time.”
“So many Americans don't know that the euthanasia movement is so prevalent,” Raye said, adding that the network “is absolutely vital … for the protection of the cognitively impaired that are in danger of being killed.”
Raye, 51, shared a dramatic personal experience that has influenced his decision to be spokesman for the organization.
In 1985, his wife Connie delivered their son three months early, after she simultaneously endured a stroke and heart attack as he was being born.
“She wound up being in a coma for eight weeks,” he said. “During those eight weeks, I heard everything. We were already getting this pressure.”
Raye remembers the medical team working on his wife's case telling him “you really need to start looking at an institution” to take care of her, and “if we take her off her respirator she's just going to die – you might want to consider doing that.”
But Raye refused to listen to the doctors' advice and said that today, Connie “is alive and well.”
He noted, however, the disturbing fact that as her husband, he would have had the ability to end her life. “If her mother would have fought me on it, it wouldn't have mattered, I would have the legal right.”
“And let's face it, the sanctity of marriage in our country is not what it once was – divorce is extremely common,” he added. “So is it right that that spouse, or soon to be ex-spouse, has the right to decide whether you live or die?”
For a victim's other family members to have “zero” input, Raye said, “that to me is despicable. It's a heinous crime that makes no sense.”
Raye said that he credits his Catholic faith, which he converted to at the age of 23, as another motivation for working with the Life and Hope Network.
He remembers growing up in the “Bible belt” of northeastern Texas and said that although he had a strong Christian faith, as he grew up, he felt there was something missing.
Before Raye went on to chart 16 number-one hits and 24 top-ten hits later in his career, he recalled being 18 years-old and playing at clubs in Portland, Oregon where his dad lived at the time.
He got to know a couple who regularly attended his shows and noticed one day that the woman wore a crucifix on her necklace.
After finding out that they were Catholic, Raye asked the surprised couple if he could attend Mass with them. They happily agreed.
“I started asking questions and every answer I got made sense to me,” he said. “Next thing I knew I was in RCIA and I wanted to be a Catholic.”
Raye likens his discovery of the Catholic faith to stumbling upon “a treasure.”
“I do not know what my life would have been like since that time had I not had that to cling to, to lean on, to feed off of,” he said. “I love going to Mass, I love going to confession – it all makes beautiful sense to me.”
Raye recently saw the couple – who became his godparents – at one of his shows in Portland.
“I got to spend the day with them,” he said. “I just thanked them up and down and said I was so grateful that I went to Mass with them that day because my life has been so much more blessed.”
Jerusalem, Israel, Sep 16, 2011 (CNA) -
A Catholic bishop in the Holy Land has called for prayers for peace as tension and violence increase ahead of the Palestine Authority’s request for U.N. recognition.
“The Lord told us to pray for peace. Jerusalem will attain peace through the power of God, and not merely through the acts of politicians,” said Bishop William Shomali, auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem and vicar of the Latin Patriarchate for Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories.
He said prayer was essential because people are yearning for peace and a better life after decades of violence, Aid to the Church in Need reports.
Many Christians have emigrated because of the problems they face.
Bishop Shomali, who comes from the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem, said it is important that the faithful remain in the region.
“The mission and calling of Christians is to remain in the Holy Land and work toward change,” he said. “We want change, but we want peaceful change.”
The bishop also called for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
The Palestinian leadership’s bid for United Nations-recognized statehood will begin on Sept. 19, according to news reports. It could seek statehood through the Security Council, where the United States has pledged a veto, or it could seek an upgrade of the Palestinian delegation to that of a non-member observer state, like the Holy See.
Observers the vote will provoke fear further clashes in the West Bank. On the morning of Sept. 15, three cars were set alight in the town of Beit Furik, just outside Nablus.
Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib reported an escalation in Israeli settlers’ attacks on Palestinian villages in the West Bank. In the last two weeks there have been several incidents, including attacks on three mosques.
Despite the tensions, Bishop Shomali stressed the importance of visitors to Jerusalem. He encouraged Christians to visit the region. Pilgrimage to the region can help Christians renew their own lives and attain deeper insights into Scripture.
“The Holy Land needs you, and you need the Holy Land,” he said.
Rome, Italy, Sep 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The leader of the Society of St. Pius X says the traditionalist group will respond to the Vatican’s offer of reconciliation based upon “the good of the Church and of souls.”
“Our Rosary crusade, which continues for several more months, must be intensified so as to enable us to obtain, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, the graces of light and strength that we need more than ever,” said the Society’s Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay, after leaving the talks in Rome Sept. 14.
Bishop Fellay’s comments followed a two-hour meeting at which he was presented with a statement of principles, or “doctrinal preamble,” by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Leveda. The document outlined points of doctrine that the Vatican needs clarified before finally healing the decades-long rift between the two sides.
If the Society agrees they may be offered the status of a personal prelature within the Church - a jurisdiction without geographical boundaries designed to carry out particular pastoral initiatives.
“The meeting was conducted with great courtesy and with equally great candor, because for the sake of honesty the Society of St. Pius X refuses to evade the problems that remain,” said Bishop Fellay in an interview posted on the Society’s website.
The Society of St. Pius X was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve in 1970 as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Council. It has had a strained relationship with the Vatican since Archbishop Lefebrve consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II in 1988.
Yesterday’s talks seem to leave open the possibility of the Society repairing its relationship with the Church, while still being allowed to express concerns over the legacy of the Second Vatican Council.
Bishop Fellay says this view confirms a 2005 conversation he had with Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, then President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, who told him that the Society’s various objections to aspects of the Second Vatican Council “does not mean that you are outside the Church.”
However, Bishop Fellay also said that the doctrinal preamble does not spell out a “clear-cut distinction” between “the inviolable dogmatic sphere” and “the pastoral sphere that is subject to discussion.”
While not giving a time scale for the Society’s response, Bishop Fellay said he will reply to the Vatican as soon as he has “taken the time necessary to study” the document and “to consult with those who are chiefly responsible for the Society of St. Pius X.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 16, 2011 (CNA) - The Bishops’ Conference of Mexico has issued a statement emphasizing that society should not be surprised by violence when the unborn are allowed to be aborted.
“The multiple expressions of violence in the different fields and stages of the lives of persons and of society” should not be surprising if the lives of the unborn are destroyed through abortion.
In a statement issued Sept. 9, the bishops also rejected practices such as in vitro fertilization. “Children should be welcomed by respecting the truth of the conjugal act, which is at once unitive and procreative, and by avoiding any means that distort it,” they said.
“We hold that according to God’s plan, children are a true gift and never an individual right of anyone,” the bishops added. For this reason, “technological assistance for procreation should always respect this truth and avoid substituting the logic of love with the logic of production,” they said.
“Aware of the pain that infertility and sterility entails, we encourage the efforts of those who work to overcome them by searching for appropriate therapies that are respectful of the value of human life."
They went on to say that euthanasia is not a solution when the end of life approaches. “We consider the only appropriate response to this issue to be palliative care that gives quality of life to a terminally ill patient,” they stated.
“The desirable end of life is one that respects authentic human dignity by surrounding the terminally ill patient with the love and care needed to alleviate his suffering and providing him with vital sustenance so he can end his existence in this world in a natural way,” the bishops said.
Rome, Italy, Sep 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, recently beatified Elena Aiello, an Italian religious woman who bore the stigmata and foretold the fall of Benito Mussolini.
The beatification Mass took place Sept. 14 in Calabria, Italy, the hometown of Sister Aiello,
During the celebration, Cardinal Amato said the heroic testimony of her life and work helped shape the region.
According to L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Amato noted that Sr. Elena, who died at age 66, taught Catholics that “it is possible to live the Gospel to a heroic degree, it is possible then to be saints … because this land needs the spiritual beauty of the saints.”
He recalled that Sr. Elena founded the congregation of the Little Sisters of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ with her philosophy of the “little way” toward holiness and her mystical participation in the Paschal mystery, with “her eyes always fixed on the crucifix.”
To those who said her charity toward the needy and the handicapped was “exaggerated,” Sr. Elena said, “The poor, the handicapped and the suffering are the best friends of Jesus, and in doing good to them, we are specifically loving the Lord.”
In March of 1922, while she was practicing the devotion of the “13 Fridays” of St. Francis of Paula in private, she received the stigmata.
From then on her stigmata bled every Friday in March, especially on Good Friday. She also experienced great pain and the gift of prophecy.
In 1928, together with Gina Mazza, she founded the Little Sisters of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to honor the passion of the Lord and to offer spiritual and material help to the poor.
Among her many prophecies, Sr. Elena foretold the tragic end of Mussolini, the Italian dictator who was executed by firing squad on April 28, 1945, after he was caught trying to escape Italy disguised as a German soldier.
“Do you remember when you asked me last July 7 what would happen to the Duce, and I told you that if he did not remain united to the Pope, he would have a worse end than that of Napoleon? I repeat the same words to you now: If the Duce does not save Italy by doing everything that the Holy Father says and does, he will soon fall,” Sr. Elena said.
Sr. Elena Aiello died in 1961.
Speaking to pilgrims on Sept. 14 after his weekly general audience, Benedict XVI said that “the Church in Italy rejoices at the elevation to the altars of such an eminently Eucharistic soul.”
“May the example and intercession of the new blessed increase everyone’s love for the Sacrament of the altar,” he concluded.
Vatican City, Sep 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI will continue with plans to address the German parliament next week, despite the threat of a boycott by dozens of legislators.
“It would please us if the speech were to be received by the whole assembly,” said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., adding that “if instead others disagree, it is not something that concerns us. The Pope will speak to those present.”
Fr. Lombardi’s Sept. 16 comments came during a briefing ahead of Pope Benedict’s visit to Germany, Sept. 22-25.
In recent weeks the German media has reported that dozens of left-wing parliament members are planning to boycott or walkout of the Pope’s address to Berlin’s parliament—called the Bundestag—over claims the papal address will violate a separation of church and state.
Fr. Lombardi said such threats are an “internal German political affair” and that “if someone has objections it doesn't depend on us or the Pope.” He also observed that since the Pope was invited to address the parliament, the threat of a boycott does “not seem to me like a polite and friendly attitude.”
Papal addresses to parliaments are uncommon. Pope Benedict has never addressed a parliamentary gathering since being elected pontiff in 2005. Prior to that, Pope John Paul II only addressed two parliaments – those of Italy and Poland – during his 27-year reign.
Pope Benedict’s four-day visit to Germany will consists of stops in Berlin, Erfurt and Freiburg. In each city he will preside over large public Masses. The Pope is also holding meeting with leaders of the Jewish, Muslim and Orthodox Christian faiths.
Next week will be the first state visit by the Pope to his homeland. He has visited two times since being elected Pope in 2005, but both occasions were in a pastoral capacity. The motto of the visit is “wherever God is, there is the future.”
Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Sep 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
“Pope Benedict XVI came, saw and conquered,” Cardinal Keith P. O’Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh said on the first anniversary of the papal visit to the U.K.
“That call must echo in our own minds as we go forward evermore confidently living the Christian message in our country and endeavoring to hand on the love of Jesus Christ as effectively as we can to the other peoples in Scotland, and indeed throughout the world,” Cardinal O’Brien told CNA on Sept. 16.
Despite prior predictions of doom and disinterest, Pope Benedict’s visit to Scotland and England is now widely accepted as one of the high points of his six-year pontificate.
It began in Edinburgh, Scotland where he was cheered through the capital’s historic streets by a crowd of 125,000 and concluded four days later in Birmingham, England with the beatification of the 19th century Anglican convert Cardinal John Henry Newman.
Cardinal O’Brien said his own happiest memories stemmed from the first day of the visit when he accompanied Pope Benedict to his meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Holyroodhouse.
“It was with pride that we witnessed Her Majesty the Queen and His Holiness the Pope speaking in the most friendliest of terms of their respective views of our country and the necessary place of religious in our society,” he said.
Cardinal O’Brien also spoke with great pride of being able to escort Pope Benedict through the streets of the Scottish capital on Sept. 16 last year, the feast day of St. Ninian – who is Scotland’s first saint.
“It was a privilege for me being with Our Holy Father on that popemobile along the great length of Princes Street,” said Cardinal O’Brien.
He recalled how they were “led by that magnificent pageant of the history of Scotland, the children from all of the St. Ninian’s schools in Scotland, listening to pipe bands from all over our country, and with the Pope so graciously wearing the St. Ninian’s Day tartan scarf which I had placed around his neck in the popemobile.”
In fact, it was later revealed that Cardinal O’Brien smuggled the papal scarf into the royal reception, tucking it inside his cassock.
In the intervening days, the people of the United Kingdom watched and listened as, among other events, Pope Benedict addressed civil society in Westminster Hall – the scene of St. Thomas More’s trial in 1535 – on the relationship of faith and reason. The Pope also met with young people at St. Mary’s College in London, challenging them to become the “saints of the 21st century.”
Cardinal O’Brien says that, one year later, the Pope’s visit is still paying dividends to the Church in the U.K.
“He showed us something of the human face, not only of himself as Pope, but of our whole Church itself,” said Cardinal O’Brien. “Of course we must continue to be the better of that visit through an ongoing study of the teachings of our Pope while he was with us.”
And he has no doubt as to what is the message that has had most resonance over the past 12 months.
Proof of that resonance was given by the fact that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron issued a statement for the anniversary. He stated that the “Pope's message is just as relevant today” as he highlighted the need for Britons “build a new culture of social responsibility and develop strong powerful communities as we deal with tough economic challenges.”
In Cardinal O’Brien’s view, the message of Pope Benedict’s that was most strongly delivered and warmly received was his call to “‘be a saint!’”
Washington D.C., Sep 16, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Theology professors at a symposium held in the nation’s capital were told that they must combine faith and reason to create a new apologetics based on the love of God.
The symposium, which was intended to prepare modern theologians to participate in the New Evangelization, was open to selected non-tenured theology or religious studies faculty who received doctoral degrees within the last five years.
Speakers at the symposium, held Sept. 15-17, looked to the Church’s rich history as they offered advice on how to present the Gospel in a modern university setting.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Texas stressed the important role that college professors must play in the New Evangelization.
“Young people today are hungry for the word of God,” he said.
The cardinal offered the example of St. Irenaeus of Lyons as someone who “forged a remarkable response to the challenge of making the Gospel known in an environment that was new and even threatening.”
Tracing the writings of St. Irenaeus, Cardinal DiNardo offered several proposals to help the conference participants contribute to the New Evangelization.
“We should show great attentiveness to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo,” he said. “The absolutely infinite, transcendent God is not needful, but creates and forms out of goodness.”
With the sophistication of modern science, he explained, “there can be a tendency for a theologian to treat this fundamental theme too obliquely.”
He also emphasized the necessary pairing of Scripture and the rule of faith. The two belong together, he said, and theologians must not lose contact with the rule of faith when interpreting the Word of God.
In addition, Cardinal DiNardo called for a more holistic view of the human being in academic life, warning against modern cognitive sciences that reduce the human mind to a mere brain, run by principles of biology and chemistry.
“I really want to challenge theologians,” he said. “They need to be in this dialogue and not to be afraid of the cognitive scientists.”
“There needs to be an attentiveness in the New Evangelization to the role of faith and reason,” the cardinal continued.
“This is Catholic excellence at its greatest, and it needs to be emphasized today.”
He urged the symposium participants to remember that faith and reason are in harmony and not to approach them as if they are conflicting.
Dr. John Cavadini, who served as the chair of the theology department at Notre Dame from 1997-2010, expanded upon the complementary roles of faith and reason.
He recalled the early Christian writer Origen, who was hesitant to write an apology of Christianity based merely on reason because he feared giving the appearance that the Gospel was a product of human reason that could be understood entirely within its boundaries.
Cavadini emphasized the need to “create an apologetics that, while using reason, does not reduce Christian faith to a religion that can be accepted purely on the grounds of argumentation or plausibility.”
Since God is love, he explained, Christianity is founded on something that needs no apology, because love is the one thing that is credible in its own right.
The role of the Christian apologist, he said, is to “get out of the way and let love speak,” remembering that love is not an abstract concept to be understood, but rather a person to be encountered.
Cavadini praised Origen’s apology, observing that it has been compared to the painting of an icon, which he noted, “is intended in later Greek Christianity to mediate an encounter with the person of Christ.”
Archbishop J. A. DiNoia, O.P., also spoke at the conference. Archbishop DiNoia serves as the secretary for the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He addressed the symposium participants on the nature of theology as a field of study having internal roots within man.
God’s immense love for us is not something that we could have figured out simply “on the basis of thinking about God,” he said.
It is the infused theological virtue of faith received in baptism that allows for “the participation in God’s knowledge of himself,” he said.
Therefore, the archbishop explained, the principles of theology come from the knowledge of God infused in us.
The challenge for the New Evangelization, said Archbishop DiNoia is “securing the integrity and finality of theology as a distinctive field of inquiry.”
He urged the symposium participants to resist the “fragmentation of theology into disparate subviews and specializations,” as well as internal secularization within the Church.
In addition, he called for them to be courageous in recognizing the “compatibility between an academic profession and an ecclesial vocation,” seeing their work not merely as a job, but as a calling.