Archive of November 29, 2011

Planned Chinese ordination has Vatican approval, with conditions

Vatican City, Nov 29, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Nov. 30 ordination of a new Chinese bishop has approval from the Vatican, though there are concerns about how the ceremony might be publicized and who will participate.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi confirmed on Nov. 29 that Father Peter Luo Xuegang was “a candidate approved by the Holy See” to be consecrated as an auxiliary bishop for the Diocese of Yibin.

“I hope of course,” he told Fides news agency, “that if the ordination takes place the norms of the Catholic Church will be respected, namely that the faithful are informed about the approval of the candidate by the Holy See, and that no illegitimate bishop participates in the liturgical ceremony.”

Under those conditions, Fr. Lombardi said, the event “would be an encouragement for the Catholic community” in China.

At a Nov. 29 news briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said Beijing's Communist government has “always been sincere about improving relations with the Vatican.”

However, the country has made several provocative moves in relation to the Church over the past twelve months—including a series of unapproved bishop ordinations that began in November 2010, and the reported coercion of clerics to force their participation in state functions.

China's state-administered Catholic Patriotic Association includes a large number of bishops accepted as legitimate by the Holy See. But the Vatican informed them in July 2011 that they would face excommunication if they willingly helped to ordain other bishops not approved by Rome.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman claimed on Tuesday that recent ordinations in his country have promoted “the healthy development of Chinese Catholicism,” according to the Associated Press.

Yet in a July 2011 response to one of the illicit ordinations, the Vatican said that Pope Benedict XVI “deplores the manner in which the Church in China is being treated” by authorities who challenge his right to confirm or reject proposed bishops.

One rejected candidate, who was nonetheless ordained in June 2011 and consequently excommunicated, is Bishop Paul Lei Shiyin. There is speculation that he may attend Wednesday's planned ordination, though it is unclear whether he would take a role in the liturgy as forbidden by the Vatican.

While China's foreign ministry claims to want better relations with the Holy See, the government reaction to Shiyin's excommunication showed no willingness to concede on the issue of ordinations.

“The majority of priests and believers will more resolutely choose the path of independently selecting and ordaining its bishops, and the government will continue to support and encourage such practice,” China's State Administration for Religious Affairs said in a July 25 response to the excommunication.

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College of St. Mary Magdalen consecrated to Sacred Heart

Warner, N.H., Nov 29, 2011 (CNA) - The College of St. Mary Magdalen’s faculty, students, administrators and staff consecrated the school to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Nov. 20, the Feast of Christ the King.

During the consecration, members of the Warner, N.H.-based college community asked Jesus that the college may “play her role in the academy and in the Church with honor, with humility, and with an unfailing love of learning and the desire for God.”

“The Sacred Heart of Jesus remains a powerful symbol of the love of God made manifest in the Person of Jesus Christ, who assumed our human nature without loss of his divinity,” said college chaplain Fr. Neil J. Roy, who led the consecration at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Chapel after solemn sung vespers.

The consecration “marks a deepening of awareness on the part of students, administrators, and faculty, that as a part of the Church at study we who belong to the college of St. Mary Magdalen have a duty to pursue the Truth in the person of Jesus Christ and to base our habits and behavior on him who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”

The prayer of consecration asked for “a desire to unite knowledge with wisdom and to live together in loving unity,” the college reports.

Other petitions asked for “honesty in our studies, sincerity of heart, and zeal for thy Kingdom.”

Students and faculty prepared for the consecration by praying a novena in honor of the Sacred Heart, beginning nine days before the feast.

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Patience with new translation expected to pay dividends

Washington D.C., Nov 29, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

November 27 was a historic Sunday for English-speaking Roman Catholics, who began using a long-awaited and more accurate Mass translation. The change, however, involved its share of awkward moments.

“I think everybody experienced some awkwardness or stumbling,” said Father Daniel Merz, associate director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Divine Worship, noting a common thread in the reactions he received from across the country.

But those who “had either received some catechesis” in advance, “or had catechized themselves and were prepared for it, seem to have had a fairly positive reaction to the changes,” he told CNA on Nov. 28.

Many priests, he said, were trying to take the learning process “with a good sense of humor,” while encouraging parishioners to deepen their understanding and appreciation of worship through the newly-rendered prayers.

“We're all going to be learning our way and stumbling for a little bit here, and that's okay,” Fr. Merz said.

He expects the learning process will take “a couple of months” for those who attend Mass only on Sundays. Meanwhile, priests and daily Mass attendees may learn new habits – like giving the response “and with your spirit,” or confessing their “most grievous fault” in the penitential rite – more quickly.

“After Christmas, or by Lent hopefully, we'll be in very good shape,” Fr. Merz predicted.

During the run-up to the translation's debut, the U.S. bishops' conference hailed it as a chance for Catholics “to deepen, nurture, and celebrate our faith through the renewal of our worship and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy.”

But even Chicago's Cardinal Archbishop Francis E. George, past president of the conference, admitted that he “tripped up a couple of times,” due to the persistence of old liturgical habits.

“I found myself reverting back, and therefore I was a little bit upset at myself,” Cardinal George said in a Nov. 27 homily, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Many in the pews had a similar experience, even with the assistance of handouts spelling out the changes. Even Fr. Merz acknowledged being caught off guard by one major change.

“The most noticeable and common change is from 'And also with you,' to 'And with your spirit,'” said the liturgical director, who has been “gearing up for this (new translation) for a long time.”

“When I participated in Sunday Mass as a concelebrant, I gave that response back. But it's a whole different feel. So it's going to take a little getting used to.”

“I'm happy with that change – but nevertheless, it's a change. It'll take some adjustment.”

Many companies and publishers, he noted, have produced materials explaining the changes that bring the English-language Mass more closely into line with the original Latin text.

Fr. Merz also welcomes feedback on the translation, even from those who might be feeling surprise or confusion.

“The response I've been giving is, if there are specific things that you didn't understand or that disappointed you, let us know,” said the associate director for worship. “We can work together to try and come to a better understanding.”

While it is not yet familiar, the new translation offers much to appreciate.

“People have said that they really appreciate the greater fidelity that the new prayers embody, and they like the more formal or 'higher' tone that it carries across. There is a sense of reverence and poetry there.”

Fr. Merz indicated that the learning process itself can be an opportunity to find out more about the faith, and grow closer to God.

“Whenever I've given workshops, it's not just been 'Here are the changes,' but 'Here are the reasons behind the changes, and here's some additional information about the meaning of this place in the Mass.'”

Several priests have told him that they intend to spent more time preaching about the meaning of Catholic worship, as a participation in Christ's death and resurrection.

“It's an incredible opportunity to do that,” he pointed out. “And I think that will make a big difference for people.”

Fr. Merz said the new translation also shows the continuity of Catholic tradition before and after the Second Vatican Council.

“Chuch historians have often said that it takes close to a century to fully implement an ecumenical council,” he noted. “As time goes on, we're starting to understand the Second Vatican Council more fully.”

The norms guiding the translation were spelled out in the 2001 Vatican document “Liturgiam Authenticam,” which was itself inspired by the council's decree on the liturgy, “Sacrosanctum Concilium.”

“The real vision of Vatican II, for us today, is a deepening and 'interiorizing' of our experience of liturgy,” Fr. Merz reflected.

He described the new translation as one part of the larger effort to “really deepen our interior engagement in the liturgy, and our interior participation,” in keeping with the council's intentions.

The improved translation, he expects, will draw some estranged Catholics back to the Church.

“If there are people who were disappointed, or felt discouraged, that the translation before was less faithful, I think they have been encouraged to come back with this new translation,” he said.

For more information, please visit CNA's Welcoming the New Roman Missal page.

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Vatican's Cardinal Piacenza points priests to Mary for Advent

Vatican City, Nov 29, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholic priests should ask the Virgin Mary for a heart able to “relive Christ’s coming” during Advent this year, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza said.

The cardinal, who serves as prefect for the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, said in his Nov. 27 Advent message to priests that Mary lived “constantly in prayerful vigilance.”

“In vigilance, she received the announcement that changed the history of humanity. In vigilance, she kept and contemplated, more than any other, the Almighty who became her Son,” he said.

Cardinal Piacenza noted that Mary was also prayerfully vigilant as she became “filled with loving and grateful wonder” while giving birth “to the Light Himself and, together with St. Joseph, became a disciple of Him to whom she had given birth.”

“In the vigilance of her maternal heart, Mary followed Christ right up to the foot of the cross where, in the immense sorrow of a pierced heart, she accepted us as her new sons,” he added. “In vigilance, she waited with certainty for the Resurrection and was assumed into Heaven.”

The cardinal emphasized that Christ constantly watches over his Church as well as every priest, who are each called to live the same vigilance as the Blessed Mother.

He added that priests should contemplate how Jesus has “radically and definitely” changed them through their ordination.

Cardinal Piacenza also recalled how the Virgin Mary faithfully lived “the duty of being the Mother of the Almighty.” Her Immaculate Heart was open to the “possible” and to the manifestation of God’s will in all circumstances, both the daily and the unexpected, he said.

Mary’s assent at the Annunciation encourages priests to be faithful to their assent to their own ordination, the cardinal noted. Her example in the Visitation to St. Elizabeth encourages priests to live in “divine intimacy” so that they can bring Christ’s presence to others.

From heaven, Mary keeps priests in Christ’s memory and she “continually opens the possibility of Divine Mercy to us.”

Cardinal Piacenza assured priests of his “special remembrance” for them in the celebration of Mass. He also asked for prayerful support for his own ministry.

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Man who escaped from Colombian rebels prayed for his captors

Bogotá, Colombia, Nov 29, 2011 (CNA) - Sergeant Luis Alberto Erazo Mayo, the sole survivor of the recent massacre of four hostages by a Colombian rebel group, said he prayed for his kidnappers during his captivity.

“God exists,” Erazo told reporters, adding that the only hope that sustained him during his ordeal was prayer. Among the few items he brought home in the backpack he made in the jungle was a daily missal.

“I prayed even for the rebels,” he said.

Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reported that Erazo had been kidnapped for more than eleven years by the rebel group FARC, who injured him as he escaped on Nov. 26 during an attempted military rescue. 

“I heard a lot of shots about 15 meters away and then I was hit in the face and neck. Then I knew they were firing at me. I looked back and realized that the guard was going the other way and the field was clear for me to escape. So I took off running towards the jungle and I saw the guy who was following me chasing after me until I lost him,” Erazo said.

“The rebels told me that if there was any combat that we should run alongside of them because they were going to hand us over,” he added. “I forgot that and I ran towards the jungle. My companions went towards them however, and that is when they killed them at point blank.”

Despite his wounds, Erazo kept running as fast as he could and eventually hid in a tree trunk where he stayed for almost eight hours—until he was convinced that the voices he heard were those of Colombian soldiers.

“In a large field I saw some men in uniforms riding motorbikes. When I saw one guy with a helmet and night-vision goggles, I knew they were soldiers and I walked out. They hugged me and wouldn’t let go, they welcomed me back,” Erazo said in tears.

Erazo has been able to see his two daughters in his hometown of Narino and learned that he is now a grandfather. His mother told him the parrot and geese he left behind are still alive and are waiting for him.

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Mail bomb prompts Mexican archdiocese to call for increased security

Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 29, 2011 (CNA) - The Archdiocese of Mexico is calling on local officials to improve security after a package containing explosives was mailed to the archdiocesan chancery.

“We will take basic security measures,” Father Hugo Valdemar, spokesman for the archdiocese, said. “This can’t be taken lightly as this is a threatening situation.”

On Nov. 25, Mexico City police investigated and removed the package, which appears to have been sent by local anarchist group Liberacion Total. The same group was responsible for setting an armored car on fire in the Mexican capital on Nov. 5.

Fr. Valdemar reported that the archdiocese's Cardinal Norberto Rivera is unshaken by the incident.

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Pontifical anthropology magazine now available in English

Rome, Italy, Nov 29, 2011 (CNA) - The Pontifical Commission for Latin America announced in Rome on Nov. 29 that the Catholic anthropology magazine “Humanitas” will now be available in English.

The magazine, founded in 1995, explores themes related to Christian culture from Catholic intellectuals worldwide and is issued by the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

Guzman Carriquiry, secretary of the commission, made the announcement on Tuesday along with university rector Ignacio Sanchez and “Humanitas” director Jaime Antunez.

The first edition of the English-language version is over 250 pages and includes a number of essays from the 63rd edition (July-September 2011) in Spanish which was devoted to the life and work of the late Pope John Paul II.

Authors in the first English edition include Cardinals Angelo Scola, Angelo Amato, Stanislaw Dziwisz, Mauro Piacenza and Avery Robert Dulles, who died in 2008. The publication also contains essays by Livio Melina, Stanislav Grygiel, Pedro Morande and Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

The English version of the Humanitas will be published twice a year both in print and online at the website

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Pius X Society says Vatican's current offer not acceptable

Rome, Italy, Nov 29, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X says he will inform the Vatican “in the next few days” that they cannot give the doctrinal reassurances required of them to advance reconciliation with the Catholic Church.

“It is true that this Doctrinal Preamble cannot receive our endorsement,” said Bishop Bernard Fellay on the society’s website, Nov. 28.

However, Bishop Fellay said his understanding is that the document is “not a definite text” and that it “can be clarified and modified.” In particular, he would like to discuss what the Vatican means when it says that there is “leeway” for a “legitimate discussion” on the documents and legacy of the Second Vatican Council.

“What is the extent of this leeway? The proposal that I will make in the next few days to the Roman authorities and their response in turn will enable us to evaluate our remaining options,” he said. 

The breakaway Society of St. Pius X was presented with the “doctrinal preamble” or statement of principles by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in September.

The document outlined doctrinal points that the Vatican needs clarified before the 23-year rift between the two sides can be healed.  The society has been discussing its response for the past two months.

Bishop Fellay said that to give a “flat refusal,” to the Vatican offer would be the “simplest thing, perhaps, but not the most courteous,” and since the note that accompanies it “foresees the possibility of making clarifications,” it seems “necessary to ask for them instead of refusing them a priori.” He added that this “in no way prejudges the response that we will give.”

If the society agrees with the doctrinal preamble, they may be able to enter into the Church as a personal prelature—a jurisdiction without geographical boundaries designed to carry out particular pastoral initiatives.

But Bishop Fellay said that setting aside theological differences “in order to obtain a canonical status” would “expose” the society “to the danger of seeing the same differences crop up inevitably, which would make the canonical status not just precarious but quite simply unliveable.”

The Society of St. Pius X was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Catholic Church following the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council.

The society has had a strained relationship with the Vatican since Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops against the orders of Pope John Paul II in 1988.

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Vatican paper refutes critics of divorce and remarriage teaching

Vatican City, Nov 29, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -

After a leading German bishop questioned the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage, the Vatican’s newspaper today published an essay by Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, that called the teaching compassionate and pastoral because it is true to the teaching of Christ. 
“Assuredly, the word of truth can be painful and uncomfortable. But it is the way to holiness, to peace, and to inner freedom,” said Pope Benedict in 1998.

“A pastoral approach which truly wants to help the people concerned must always be grounded in the truth,” because “in the end, only the truth can be pastoral,” he wrote, quoting the Gospel promise of Christ that “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The article was republished as some senior clerics in Germany are calling for the Church to review its understanding of marriage, along with its prohibition on remarried Catholics receiving communion.
Throughout his 1998 work, Pope Benedict—who was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time—explained that the recent documents of the Church on such matters “bring together the demands of truth with those of love in a very balanced way.”
So while at times in the past “love shone forth too little in the explanation of the truth,” so today, there is a great danger that “in the name of love, truth is either to be silenced or compromised.”

Today’s republication was carried in six different languages under the explanatory subheading of “concerning some objections to the Church’s teaching on the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful.”

It comes two months after the president of the German Bishops’ Conference publicly raised questions over the Church’s teachings on marriage in a newspaper interview.
“We are all faced with the problem of how we can help people in whose lives certain things have gone wrong and that includes a wrecked marriage,” Archbishop Robert Zollitsch said on Sept. 5, only weeks before the Pope arrived for a four-day state visit.

“This is a question of mercy and we will be discussing this problem intensively in the near future,” the archbishop told the German newspaper Die Zeit.
Archbishop Zollitsch was specifically asked about the situation of the country’s President Christian Wulff, who is a remarried Catholic and refrains from receiving communion.
When he was asked about Berlin’s Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who is also a Catholic but in a homosexual relationship, Archbishop Zollitsch replied, “We must see how we can find theologically based answers to questions of lifestyles.”

In today’s article, which was published as part of a Vatican discussion paper in 1998, Pope Benedict explains why the Church’s teaching is rooted in Scripture, tradition and reason.

From Scripture, he outlines in detail how “the teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage is faithful to the words of Jesus.”

Drawing on tradition, he explains that there was a “clear consensus,” among the Fathers of the early Church “regarding the indissolubility of marriage,” something that set Christianity apart from Roman society.

At that time, he states, “divorced and remarried members of the faithful were never officially admitted to Holy Communion after a time of penance.”
He added that the increasingly liberal practice which developed in the Eastern churches that separated from Rome became “more and more removed from the words of the Lord” for various historical reasons and was never accepted by the Catholic Church.

“The Church cannot sanction pastoral practices—for example, sacramental pastoral practices—which contradict the clear instruction of the Lord,” said Pope Benedict.
“In other words, if the prior marriage of two divorced and remarried members of the faithful was valid, under no circumstances can their new union be considered lawful and therefore reception of the sacraments is intrinsically impossible.”
Pope Benedict also addressed the suggestion that the Pope could “potentially dissolve a consummated sacramental marriage, which has been irrevocably broken.” He replied that “if the Church were to accept the theory that a marriage is dead when the two spouses no longer love one another, then she would thereby sanction divorce and would uphold the indissolubility of marriage only in word, and no longer in fact.”

Finally, he answered those who argue that the Catholic Church is “overly legalistic and not pastoral” on such matters.

“They claim that the human person of today is no longer able to understand such language, that Jesus would have had an open ear for the needs of people, particularly for those on the margins of society,” he wrote.
“They say that the Church, on the other hand, presents herself like a judge who excludes wounded people from the sacraments and from certain public responsibilities.”

In response, he said that the Church’s “manner of expression does not seem very easy to understand at times,” and so “needs to be translated by preachers and catechists into a language which relates to people and to their respective cultural environments.”

“The essential content of the Church’s teaching,” he stated, “must be upheld in this process. It must not be watered down on allegedly pastoral grounds, because it communicates the revealed truth.”

The Pope’s full text can be read at

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