Washington D.C., Oct 5, 2011 (CNA) -
Actor Martin Sheen spoke in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 1 about his latest movie, which was filmed entirely along The Way of St. James, a European pilgrimage route that leads to the city of Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
“If this is the last thing I ever do, I couldn’t be happier,” Sheen told his audience at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The talk was part of a national tour to promote Sheen’s upcoming film, “The Way,” which opens Oct. 7.
Sheen stars in “The Way” alongside his son, Emilio Estevez, who directed the film.
“The Way” tells the story of an American doctor who receives news that his son has been killed in Europe while walking the Way of St. James. He decides to finish the pilgrimage in his son’s place.
“In the journey, he becomes himself,” Sheen said.
“It’s a story of renewal and healing. It’s also a story of redemption and faith.”
Sheen explained that as the pilgrimage progresses, the characters are forced to unload the things that burden them, both physically and spiritually.
“The real pilgrimage starts to take place on the interior,” he said.
“The pilgrims begin to open up their hearts,” he explained. “They begin to let go of anger and judgment and envy and all of the things that had kept them from being themselves.”
Sheen said that he has been amazed by “the number of young people that have been inspired by our film and are interested in making the pilgrimage.”
“The most rewarding part of the journey that we’re taking across America is really introducing pilgrimage to young people,” he said. “And the response has been so tremendous.”
Sheen also gave the audience a brief history of his own spiritual growth. He explained that he was born Ramón Estévez. When he moved to New York to pursue acting, he found himself faced with racial discrimination and decided that he needed a stage name.
He chose the last name “Sheen” after Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, whom he described as having an “extraordinary presence” in his household when he was young.
“I grew up watching him,” Sheen said.
“I thought of him as this magnificent actor,” he explained, recalling the archbishop’s sharp sense of humor.
“He had this fire in his eyes that was a reflection of his passion.”
Sheen challenged his audience to evaluate their lives in terms of how they can serve those around them.
“We need a far more realistic understanding of who we are and why we’re here,” he said. “Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, I believe we’re all responsible for each other.”
“There remains a very real and mysterious yearning deep within each and every human heart that compels us to reach outside of ourselves and serve others,” Sheen said.
“My fondest wish for all of you is that you will find something in your life worth fighting for.”
San Francisco, Calif., Oct 5, 2011 (CNA) - Archbishop George Niederauer is recovering “as expected” from emergency double bypass surgery.
“Following his doctors’ orders, he continues to be unable to accept visitors or calls during this period of recovery,” San Francisco Auxiliary Bishop William J. Justice said Sept. 22.
The archbishop is now at his San Francisco residence next to St. Mary’s Cathedral. He is keeping up with his correspondence and expresses appreciation for the prayers and expressions of concern and affection offered on his behalf, Bishop Justice said.
Archbishop Niederauer was vacationing with his predecessor Cardinal William Levada in southern California when he was hospitalized for chest discomfort on Aug. 28. He underwent heart surgery the next day.
CNA contacted the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Oct. 4 for an update on his condition but no new information was available.
Archbishop Niederauer was named the Archbishop of San Francisco in December 2005. He turned 75 in June.
Rome, Italy, Oct 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Legionaries of Christ have appointed Father Jaime Rodriguez as their new general secretary. The 35-year-old Spaniard replaces Fr. Everisto Sada, who held the post for the past six years.
In his new position, Fr. Rodriguez will serve as the right-hand man of the Legion’s general director, Fr. Alvaro Corcuera.
The Legion stressed in an Oct. 4 statement that Fr. Rodriguez’s new post is purely administrative.
“As stipulated in the constitutions of the Legionaries of Christ, the general secretary has no authority on his own,” the press release said.
“His task is to assist the general director of the congregation in everything that has to do with issues like official correspondence, council meetings, calendars, and appointments.”
Attempts by CNA to interview the new general secretary were declined by a spokesman on the grounds that his task is “mainly one of internal coordination and assistance to the general director. The general secretary of a religious congregation is not a ‘public figure,’ so to say.”
Such statements are perhaps a response to those who suggest that Fr. Rodriguez’s predecessor played a larger role in the Legion’s governance.
The Vatican is currently reviewing both the purpose and constitution of the Legion. The process is being led by Cardinal Velasio De Paolis.
He was appointed as “papal delegate” last year after a Vatican investigation condemned the deceased founder of the congregation, Fr. Marcial Maciel, as a being guilty of “serious and objectively immoral behavior” as well as “real crimes.”
Fr. Maciel had sexually abused seminarians over many years and fathered several children with different women. He died in 2008, at the age of 87. The Vatican report summed up his life as “devoid of scruples and of genuine religious feeling.”
Hints about how the new general secretary views his religious order and his new role can perhaps be found in a Jan. 2008 article posted on the Legion’s website.
“The Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi are only one part of a bigger Body, which is the Church, rich in vocations and charisms,” said Fr. Rodriguez.
“I face the future with enthusiasm, with the desire of contributing my grain of sand, big or little, so that more and more men and women will know Christ and love one another,” he wrote.
Fr. Rodriguez hails from Madrid, Spain,where he attended a high school run by the Legion of Christ. He is the fourth child of six, and has two sisters – Marta and Gloria – who are consecrated women in the lay branch of the Legion, Regnum Christi.
He recalled in the article how he traveled the path to the priesthood. “In 1992, they invited me to spend Holy Week in the novitiate of the Legionaries of Christ in Salamanca.”
“From the moment I entered, I was impressed to see 200 young men in their cassocks, in an atmosphere of silence and prayer, in poverty… but above all, I saw joy and charity. I was very impressed with how they treated each other.”
In Salamanca, Fr. Rodriguez studied classical humanities before going onto to do three years of youth work in the Spanish city of Valencia. From 1995 to 2001 he directed Legion-run summer camps at Santa Maria del Monte near Avila. He then obtained a licentiate in philosophy and theology from the Legion’s Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome.
Since 2005 he has lived in Rome and worked at the Legionaries’ General Directorate. He was ordained a priest in 2008.
Rome, Italy, Oct 5, 2011 (CNA) - The Vatican will give the bishops of Latin America a new secure website, Episcopado.net, to enhance communication through an updated database system.
The project will be officially presented on Oct. 19 in Santiago, Chile, during the Second Congress on the Church and the Digital Culture. The event is intended to promote evangelization through the internet.
Episcopado.net is a creation of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Latin American Bishops’ Council and the Internet Network of the Church in Latin America.
It will have 10 videoconferencing rooms in which 25 users at a time will be able to communicate with each other. In total, 250 bishops will be able to simultaneously use the new feature.
The new resource will reduce the number of trips bishops have to make and will enable them to better communicate with each other as they share information, pastoral plans and advise each other.
The site, which will use WebEx technology, will be password-protected and feature online data storage as well as individual email accounts.
The Spanish company Telefonica will provide technical support.
Vatican City, Oct 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI used his Oct. 5 audience to revisit the theme of trusting in God during times of adversity found in Psalm 23—a message that he delivered twice at the beginning of September.
“With its exquisite pastoral imagery this much-beloved Psalm speaks of the radical trust in God’s loving care which is an essential aspect of prayer,” the Pope said to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.
“The Psalmist expresses his tranquil certainty that he will be guided and protected, sheltered from all danger because the Lord is his shepherd,” he said.
Psalm 23 is one of the best known passages in the Bible and is commonly used in religious services by Jews, Catholics and Protestants alike. In many Christian denominations it has become a staple for any funeral liturgy. It has also been set to music by composers such as J.S. Bach, Anton Bruckner, Leonard Bernstein and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
The Pope described the psalm as a beautiful analogy of God’s love and protection for every human soul and for all humanity.
“The image evokes an atmosphere of trust, intimacy, tenderness. The shepherd knows his sheep individually, he calls them by name and they follow him because they recognize and trust him,” he said.
“He takes care of them, protects them like a treasure, and is ready to defend them in order to guarantee their well-being, to ensure they live in peace. They shall want nothing if the shepherd is with them.”
Pope Benedict charted three developments in the narrative of the psalm as it progresses. First, he said, “the Psalmist begins by presenting God as a good shepherd who guides him to green pastures, standing at his side and protecting him from every danger.”
Such “green pastures” may seem distant to those who feel stranded in a spiritual desert, the Pope observed, but “if the Lord is the shepherd, even in the desert, a place of scarcity and death, we do not lose our certainty in the radical presence of life.”
Second, he said, we move to the shepherd’s tent “where the Lord welcomes him as a guest, gracing him with the gifts of food, oil and wine.”
The Pope noted that such a showering of gifts are “an expression of the gratitude and abundance of love,” given by a God who also protects us. Thus “enemies look on powerlessly because,” said the Pope, for “when God opens His tent to welcome us, nothing can harm us.”
Finally, even after departing the Lord’s tent, the protection of God “continues to accompany the psalmist with goodness and mercy along his way, a way which leads to length of days in the Lord’s Temple,” Pope Benedict said.
This image was very significant for the Jewish people, he explained, as “the powerful image of God as the Shepherd of Israel accompanied the whole religious history of the Chosen People, from the Exodus to the return to the Promised Land.”
The Pope taught that this promise finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ “the Good Shepherd, who gave his life for his sheep, preparing for us the table of his Body and Blood as a foretaste of the definitive messianic banquet which awaits us in heaven.”
Pope Benedict concluded by urging all those present to reflect upon Psalm 23 and renew their trust in God.
“Let us, then, trustingly ask the Lord to allow us always to walk on His paths, even along the difficult paths of our own times, as a docile and obedient flock,” he said before leading those present in the singing of the Our Father and imparting his apostolic blessing.
Immediately after praying the Angelus, Pope Benedict also made an appeal on behalf of those suffering in the drought stricken Horn of Africa.
The Pope said he wished to make a “heartfelt invitation to the international community to continue its commitment,” to help those suffering asking all those listening “to offer prayers and practical help for so many brothers and sisters so harshly tested, particularly for the children in the region.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 5, 2011 (CNA) - Some 400 organizations in Mexico have praised the country’s Supreme Court for upholding pro-life constitutional reforms in the states of Baja California and San Luis de Potosi.
In a democratic country, the organizations said in an Oct. 3 statement, “everyone, without exception, has the duty and responsibility to follow and uphold the law.”
They noted that the federal constitution and the international treaties ratified by Mexico guarantee the right to life, and therefore state congresses can establish that human life must be protected from the moment of conception.
The organizations also pointed out that the pro-life reforms keep in place the exceptions for abortion “established by law” and prevent a woman “who commits an abortion for those reasons” from being criminally punished.
“In 2008 and now in 2011, Justice Margarita Luna Ramos voted to uphold the right of state congresses to legislate on this issue, while Justices Sergio Salvador Aguirre Anguiano and Guillermo Ortiz Mayagoitia, then and now, voted to uphold the right to life. They were joined by Justice Jorge Mario Pardo Rebolledo, who made forceful legal arguments in support of their position.”
“The right to life from the moment of conception/fertilization does not harm or take away any rights for women,” the organizations stated. “On the contrary, the essence of the reforms is to provide protection to women and safety for their unborn children.”
Rome, Italy, Oct 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Angelo Amato told attendees at a major Marian conference in Rome that “if you get lost, take the hand of Mary and she will lead you to Jesus.”
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints was addressing the 13th International Mariological Symposium, which concludes Oct. 7.
“For conversion to Christ you must go to the Virgin Mary so that she leads us back to Him,” he told the delegates, adding that Mary leads us to “drink from the cool waters of Jesus Christ.”
The International Mariological Symposium is organized by the “Marianum” Pontifical Theological Faculty and takes place every two years. Its aim is to “foster studies on the Mother of God in the context of today.”
This year’s topic for the four days of discussion has been “The figure of Mary in the Context of Faith, Reason and Sentiments; Theological and Cultural Aspects of Modernity.”
Cardinal Amato told CNA that the conference not only widens the Church’s knowledge of Mariology but “serves to deepen knowledge in relation to other issues such as Christology, the Trinity, grace, anthropology or the Bible.”
“Marian studies have grown very well and are of high quality,” he said, noting the high quality of conference contributors throughout the week.
“Mary acts in the world today in many different ways,” explained Fr. Gian Matteo Roggio of the Marianum Pontifical Theological Faculty in remarks to CNA.
He explained that whenever Christ is manifested in the liturgy, then Mary is there too because “Mary is in Christ, she is in the body of Christ.” Fr. Roggio said that Mary is also present today as a model of Christian life. “Mary acts also in the life of the believers, because she is an example.”
“The meaning of Mary is not only for the believer. Because she was a woman of freedom, she is for all men and all women,” he concluded.
The symposium will culminate with the award the “René Laurentin - Pro Ancilla Domini” prize for studies in the field. It is named after the internationally renowned French priest and mariologist. This year the prize will be given to the Italy-based International Association for Research in the Shrines.
On Friday, Oct. 7 the conference will be concluded by, amongst others, Cardinal Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Pittsburgh, Pa., Oct 5, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A 45-year-old man’s accusation that Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik forcibly kissed him as a student has no factual basis and the bishop did nothing wrong, the local district attorney says.
“In my opinion there is no base of law or fact to substantiate this claim,” said Tony Berosh, district attorney of Beaver County.
The accuser, Mike Rock, never went to police and never reported the alleged assault, he said.
"He's making these allegations and not coming to us and telling us what happened. That speaks volumes for what he has to say,” Berosh told WPXI News.
The district attorney said that his office conducted an investigation even though the statute of limitations had expired. He added that Rock has a lengthy criminal record with charges including burglary, indecent exposure and open lewdness.
Berosh contacted Rock, who was reportedly hard to reach and not cooperative. When Rock responded, Berosh said he told him that he was represented by civil counsel and was going to handle matters on his own.
Rock had made accusations against the bishop via e-mail and on the Quigley Catholic High School Facebook page. The page administrator saw the comment and took it down.
Bishop Zubik announced the allegation against him at an Oct. 5 press conference.
“The fear of every priest is that someone, sometime, somewhere, somehow will level a false accusation against him. That nightmare has been realized for me,” he said.
The bishop did not mention Rock by name. He said that a former student at Quigley Catholic High School in Baden, Pa. had accused him of forcibly kissing him in the school’s chapel during the mid-1980s when Bishop Zubik was vice principal at the school.
“I emphatically state no such behavior occurred, nor any semblance of such behavior. The accusation is false, offensive and outrageous,” Bishop Zubik said.
The accuser also claimed that a religious sister molested him and that his pastor violated the seal of confession, accusations which are “vehemently denied.”
Rock also made his charges in two e-mails on Aug. 21 to his pastor. The pastor forwarded the contents of the e-mail to the bishop, who instructed the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator Rita Flaherty to contact the accuser. The accuser did not reply to her inquiries.
Bishop Zubik ordered the information to be turned over to the local district attorney in accord with diocesan policy. He also directly informed the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C. in a Sept. 12 meeting. The independent Diocesan Review Board is now handling the accusation.
On Sept. 10, 2010 Flaherty responded to two previous allegations from the accuser, who said he had been assaulted by two priests, one in 1979 and one in 1989. The two priests had been dismissed from ministry.
The accuser was offered the chance to meet with the bishop, but he did not call for an appointment until May 2011.
Bishop Zubik and Flaherty met with Rock and his wife on June 1. Instead of discussing the allegations against the two priests, the man asked the bishop to intercede in a clearance process for parish volunteers because he had been deemed ineligible for liturgical service.
Bishop Zubik said he believed his accuser saw him as part of the process that denied his authorization to serve.
“I assure you that I am concerned about the welfare of my accuser. At the same time, I expect that my integrity and the integrity of the Church I lead will be respected as well,” Bishop Zubik said at the Oct. 5 press conference.”
He said he would pray for his accuser and he asked for prayers for both himself and Rock.