Vatican City, Nov 7, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI recently called priests and those in parish leadership positions to hold fast to Christ and allow his love to lead them to proclaim the Gospel.
The Pope spoke on Nov. 4 during the celebration of vespers with students from the pontifical universities in Rome, marking the beginning of their academic year.
He recalled the 70th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s motu propio “Cum Nobis” on priestly vocations. “One cannot become a good shepherd without becoming one with Christ and his members through charity.
“Charity is the first duty of the good shepherd,” he said.
The Pope then explained several conditions in order for a priest to adequately carry out the mission entrusted to him: “the aspiration to collaborate with Jesus in spreading the Kingdom of God, the gratuitousness of pastoral commitment, and an attitude of service.”
He said the call to priestly ministry is above all an “encounter with Jesus and being fascinated by him, overcome by his words, his gestures, his own person.
“And being able to distinguish His voice from so many others, and responding like Peter, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’”
This call is the result of being enveloped by the Lord’s goodness and love, to the degree that one desires to “remain with Him, like the disciples of Emmaus … and bring the proclamation of the Gospel to the world,” he said.
The Pope underscored that a minister of the Gospel “is one who clings to Christ and learns ‘to remain’ with Him, who is in tune and in intimate friendship with Him, so that everything is fulfilled ‘as God wants,’ according to his loving will, with great interior freedom and profound joy of heart.”
He added the clergy “must never forget … the Lord's call to ministry is not the result of special merit, but is a gift to be accepted … according to his will, even if it does not correspond to our desires for self-realization.”
The priestly life should be marked by attentive care for the flock, faithful celebration of the liturgy and prompt concern toward all, especially the poorest and most in need, Benedict XVI continued.
By living this “pastoral charity” according to the model of Christ, he said, priests will experience fulfillment in their vocations wherever the Lord calls them to serve.
This call of the Lord extends to all Catholics, the Pope noted, who should ever more learn to “remain with the Lord each day, in personal encounter with Him in order to be fascinated by Him and cling to his love and be proclaimers of the Gospel.”
“It is important to generously seek out what God’s plan is for each us and not our own, and thus conform our wills to the Lord’s. It is important to prepare one’s self, through serious and dedicated study as well, to serve the People of God in the tasks that will be entrusted to us,” the Pope said.
He concluded expressing hope that St. Charles Borromeo, whose feast was celebrated on Nov. 4, would obtain grace for all those who attend the pontifical universities in Rome.
Santiago, Chile, Nov 7, 2011 (CNA) - The Constitutional Court of Chile has rejected a petition by three same-sex couples to have their “marriages” registered in the country.
All three couples were “married” outside of Chile.
On Nov. 3, the high court voted 9-1, rejecting the lawsuit filed in 2010 by the couples who challenged the constitutionality of Chilean law, which establishes marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The court said that modifying the law was outside its jurisdiction.
Article 102 of Chile’s Civil Code states: “Marriage is a solemn contract by which a man and a woman unite themselves actually and indissolubly, for their entire lives, for the purpose of living together, procreating and mutually helping one another.”
Rome, Italy, Nov 7, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Pope’s new representative to the United States says the youth of the country’s Catholic Church are a beacon of hope to the rest of the Catholic world, especially Europe.
“It is very exciting,” Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò told CNA on Nov. 3.
“I know the United States is the greatest country in many ways, but also from the Church point of view, because there are many young religious institutions and many young people. Europe has become an ‘old continent,’ but the United States has a youth that is brilliant and enthusiastic. I hope to be able to work with them in my new position,” he said.
Archbishop Viganò will take up his new post as the papal nuncio to the United States on Saturday, Nov. 12. Two days later, he will meet with the country’s bishops at their fall assembly in Baltimore.
Although he has visited the U.S. on several occasions previously, he says he is very eager to learn more about his new homeland, where “there are many communities forming one nation.” On a practical level, Archbishop Viganò realizes this will mean a lot of travel, but he sees it as “a great occasion to know the country.”
Until recently, the 70-year-old Italian was the second person in charge at the Governatorate of the Vatican City. That body is in charge of many of the City State’s departments such as its police service, observatory, museums, post office and tourist information service.
In his new post, Archbishop Viganò succeeds Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who died this past July.
One of his key tasks will be to report back to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State on the latest developments in the U.S. presidential race, and in particular, on matters “regarding protecting moral values and the values of life, the protection of life.”
Archbishop Viganò says he is heartened by recent moves in certain U.S. states to further protect unborn children. He calls those initiatives “an important sign for the entire world” and a “real hope for Europe.” It’s la moda (the fashion), he says as he explains his hope for Europe, adding, it “usually follows in the steps of the United States.”
Last week, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Religious Freedom, Bishop William E. Lori, warned in testimony before Congress that religious freedom in America is being threatened by several actions taken by the Obama administration. As an example, he cited the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ requirement that nearly all private health insurance plans cover sterilization and contraception, including some that cause early abortion.
Archbishop Viganò says he is still getting up to speed on the issue but has been “deeply surprised” to learn of these developments.
“I know that all the ideals of the American dream are really founded in freedom and the first value is the freedom of conscience – you never have to go against what your conscience is dictating to you.”
He gives the example of a doctor being obliged to perform medical procedures against his or her conscience, describing such a suggestion as “nonsense” that is “not solely against Christianity - it is against humanity.”
Interestingly, one thing that excites him about his new position is the reputation of the U.S. as a leader in science and technology. “Science has a great appeal to me, a great interest,” he explains. He is particularly interested in the dialogue between faith and science and believes that science can lead people to God.
Ahead of his departure for the States, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See hosted a reception on Nov. 3 to wish Archbishop Viganò well in his new appointment.
“We are here tonight to congratulate and celebrate our new nuncio to the United States and so we wish him well,” said Ambassador Miguel Díaz to CNA. “We know Archbishop Viganò will represent the Holy Father and the Holy See well in the United States,” he said.
Archbishop Carlo Mario Viganò is a native of the town of Varese in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. He was ordained a priest in 1968 and entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1973. Since then he has served in diplomatic missions to Iraq, the United Kingdom and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. He was nuncio to Nigeria between 1992 and 1998. He also worked in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State from 1978 to 1989. He speaks Italian, English, Spanish and French.
Vatican City, Nov 7, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI told Germany’s new ambassador to the Holy See on Nov. 7 that the Catholic Church has the duty to defend “truths and values that are under threat,” especially those values basic to human dignity.
At the Monday audience, the new German ambassador Reinhard Scheppe presented his official letters of credence.
Pope Benedict told the ambassador that his September visit to Germany provided him the chance to reflect on how the Catholic Church and the Holy See can be of service in a pluralistic society.
“Many of our contemporaries see the influence of Christianity, and of other religions as a way of imposing a specific culture and lifestyle upon society,” the Pope said. “This view is not incorrect, but it is not a complete understanding of the Catholic Church.”
The Church has not only formed different kinds of community and cultures, she “has herself been molded by the traditions of individual nations.”
“The Church is aware, thanks to her faith, that she knows the truth about man, and thus that she is obliged to protect those values which are valid for mankind as such, over and above individual cultures,” Pope Benedict stated.
He also praised how fundamental shared human values became law in the German Constitution of 1949 and the Declaration of Human Rights.
“Today, however, certain basic values of human life are again being put into question, values which defend the dignity man possesses simply by virtue of being a man,” he said.
Discussing the issue of human life and the ethical issues surrounding its beginning and end, the Pope said that man is not qualified to judge whether an individual is “already a person” or “still a person.”
“(E)ven less so do we have the right to manipulate and, so to say, 'to create' man.”
“Only a society which unconditionally respects and defends the dignity of each human being, from conception to natural end, can call itself a human society,” he emphasized.
The Pope also defended the Church’s stance against abortion. “If the Holy See enters into the field of lawmaking on fundamental questions that involve man's dignity -- such as those that arise today concerning the prenatal existence of man -- she does so not as a way of indirectly imposing her faith upon others, but of defending values which are evident to everyone because they concern the truth about human beings.”
Pope Benedict then raised the issue of gender discrimination against women, describing it as “a critical problem” apparently on the increase in the West because of “materialistic and hedonistic tendencies.”
Relationships which don’t account for the equal dignity of men and women represent “a grave affront to humankind,” he said.
“The time has come to take an energetic stance against prostitution and the widespread availability of erotic and pornographic material, also on the Internet.
“The Holy See will ensure that the Catholic Church in Germany takes clear and decisive initiatives against this form of abuse,” said the Pope.
Prostitution is legal in Germany.
The Pope’s words against pornography also come soon after new reports that a major publishing house owned by the German Catholic bishops has been selling pornographic novels.
Merrimack, N.H., Nov 7, 2011 (CNA) - Ahead of revisions to the Catholic liturgy, the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts will host a Boston dinner and symposium where several leading Catholic thinkers will speak on the topic: “The Language of Liturgy: Does It Matter?”
“The symposium will be of interest to anyone eager to understand better the broad impact of liturgy on culture,” Thomas More College president William Fahey said. “The speakers will offer unique insights into the importance of linguistic precision in liturgical matters, the changes and developments of the new Missal, and the place of liturgy in evangelization.”
The symposium will take place ahead of the college’s President’s Council Dinner at the Harvard Club in Boston, Mass. The symposium begins at 1 p.m., followed by Mass at 4 p.m., a 5 p.m. reception, and a 6 p.m. dinner.
The dinner will feature Fr. Benedict Groeschel, a retreat master, author, psychologist and host of the Eternal Word Television Network program “Sunday Night Prime with Father Benedict Groeschel.” He serves as the director of the Archdiocese of New York’s Office for Spiritual Development and is one of the founders of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
The symposium will begin with a talk by New York priest Fr. George Rutler, who has published 16 books on theology, history, cultural issues and the lives of the saints.
Rusty Reno, editor of the journal “First Things,” will also speak at the symposium. Reno’s books include “Fighting the Noonday Devil,” “Genesis: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible,” and “Sanctified Vision: An Introduction to Early Christian Interpretation of the Bible.”
Anthony Esolen, a professor at Providence College, will also give a talk. He serves as senior editor for “Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity.” He has translated Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and he is the author of books including “Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child” and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization.”
Fahey said the dinner and the symposium are important annual events held to support the New Hampshire-based Thomas More College’s scholarship funds.
“It is through this dinner that we are able to raise the funds necessary to provide young people with both the philosophic habit of mind and the critical skills learned in the traditional liberal arts – an education that has formed generations of priests and nuns, and laymen who founded faithful families,” he said.
The liberal arts college is unique in the Boston area for being “ardently Catholic and academically rigorous,” Fahey continued.
“We are dedicated to offering the young people an education that is deeply rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition and completely faithful to the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church.”
2011 is the third year that the college has hosted the event in Boston.
Fahey said the dinner was moved to the city in order to show the college’s commitment to the region and the college’s desire to “play our part in re-evangelizing New England.”