Vatican City, Dec 8, 2011 (CNA) - Bl. Marianne Cope, a 19th century Franciscan sister who ministered to Hawaiian lepers, advanced towards official sainthood on Dec. 6 when a Vatican congregation recognized a second miracle attributed to her intercession.
The cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints confirmed a medical board’s unanimous ruling that the medical recovery of a Diocese of Syracuse woman with an irreversible and fatal health condition was inexplicable.
The bishops also confirmed a theologians’ report saying the miracle was due to Bl. Marianne Cope, according to the Syracuse, N.Y.-based Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities.
Pope Benedict XVI’s approval is all that remains for her canonization to proceed.
Bl. Marianne Cope was born in western Germany in 1838. She entered religious life in Syracuse, N.Y. in 1862. She served as a teacher and principal in several schools in the state and established two of the first hospitals in the central New York area: St. Elizabeth Hospital in Utica and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse.
In 1883, Mother Marianne’s community was the only one of fifty to respond positively to an emissary from Hawaii who requested Catholic sisters to provide health care on the Hawaiian Islands, especially to those with leprosy.
Over the next five years, Bl. Marianne set up a system of long-term education and care for her patients.
She ministered to patients at Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. Her time of service overlapped with the last years of St. Damien of Molokai, a priest who served victims of Hansen’s disease and himself died of leprosy.
Bl. Marianne promised her sisters that none of them would ever contract the disease. To this day, no sister has. Her care earned her the affectionate title “beloved mother of the outcasts.”
She died in 1918 and was beatified in 2005.
Los Angeles, Calif., Dec 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez celebrated a procession and Mass for nearly 25,000 devotees of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 4, urging them to follow the Virgin Mary's example by grounding their lives in God.
“We need to promise that we will always nourish our roots – through our prayers and devotions, through all our efforts to lead a good life and to help others and make our neighborhoods and communities strong, through our love for our family and our love for our Church,” Archbishop Gomez said in his homily at East Los Angeles College Stadium.
He told the crowd, which had traveled in procession along Cesar Chavez Avenue to the stadium, that the miraculous image of the Virgin was part of God's plan for North America and the world.
“God has a plan of love for the world, and God has a plan of love for each one of our lives,” he said. “That is why Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary 2,000 years ago. And that is why he sent his mother to the Hill of Tepeyac in December 1531.”
He offered the life of St. Juan Diego, the indigenous Mexican farmer who encountered Mary and received her miraculous image, as an example for holiness today.
“He was just an ordinary, humble man carrying out his daily duties,” the archbishop said of the saint. “He was not powerful or influential in the world.”
“Yet God had some great plans for his life that he did not know about. And St. Juan Diego became the first great evangelist in the New World.”
The Mexican-born archbishop spoke of the Virgin Mary's role in his own life, during his early years.
“I remember every summer we would make a 600-mile trip from Monterrey to visit my grandparents in Mexico City,” he recalled. “And every time we went, we would all make a pilgrimage together as a family to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
He also mentioned his father's own pilgrimages to the local shrine in Monterrey.
“All the men would do that on the Virgin’s feast day. They would go company by company, factory by factory, and they would walk for miles to the shrine to show their love for Our Lady.”
Sunday's procession and Mass gave parish groups an opportunity to show devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe through traditional mariachi music, native dances, hymns, and poems in her honor. The archbishop encouraged them to show this same love for Christ and his mother in their everyday lives.
“God wants us to live our faith in natural ways, in our ordinary lives, beginning with the people who are closest to us,” he reflected.
“He wants us to share our faith heart to heart – with a sincere smile, a truthful conversation, really listening to somebody, offering words of encouragement, doing little things to make life better for the people around us.”
Archbishop Gomez suggested that these small efforts were part of God's plan, as much as any visible miracle.
“Through these little acts of love, we spread the love of God,” he said. “We share with others the truth that we know – that we are all children of our dear Mother Guadalupe who always cares for us.”
He urged the devotees of Our Lady of Guadalupe to preserve their traditions, while always opening their lives to God's grace.
“We need to always try to nourish and grow from our roots, through the grace that we receive in the sacraments of the Church. And we need to promise to always try to bear good fruits for Jesus in our lives.”
“This,” he declared, “is what it means to be Guadalupanos!”
South Bend, Ind., Dec 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan gave the inaugural lecture for Notre Dame's Project on Human Dignity Dec. 6, citing the worth of each human life as a basic principle of Catholic faith.
“When we list Catholic doctrines, we usually mention the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Redemption, the Eucharist,” the president of the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference noted. “I wonder why we never include the doctrine of the dignity of the human person?”
“It’s pivotal; it’s way up there; it’s normative,” he told listeners in the McKenna Auditorium at the Notre Dame Conference Center.
“This doctrine of the dignity of the human person should be taught to our children along with the Sign of the Cross, for it is at the very essence of our Catholic faith.”
“God made me in his own image and likeness,” the archbishop taught. “I am worth the precious blood of his only-begotten Son … I have come from him and am destined to return to him forever.”
He cited the teaching of the second-century bishop St. Irenaeus, that “the glory of God is man fully alive.”
“If we really believed it, think of what a difference it would make in the way I treat myself, in the way I treat others. It would be lifesaving.”
The New York archbishop observed that secular critics of the Church often fail to grasp the Christian approach to the human person, and its contribution to the culture and laws of Western civilization.
And while the principles of human dignity necessarily lead to moral restrictions, Archbishop Dolan explained that these moral laws exist to guard the integrity and harmony of creation.
“The Church is all about a ‘yes’ to all that is true, beautiful, and good in the human project,” he stated. “The Church only says ‘no’ to something or someone that would negate the true, the beautiful, or the good in the human person.”
In standing for the worth of each life, he said, Catholics are proclaiming a truth that should bring joy to the world.
“The Church, which has as a primary doctrine the dignity of the human person, is not a shrill, crabby, nay-saying nag, but a warm, tender, gracious mother who invites, embraces, and nurtures her children.”
While the topic of human dignity is often associated with issues like abortion, embryonic research and euthanasia, New York's archbishop pointed out that the same principle must inform Catholics on other social issues.
“If an immigrant from Mexico is a child of God, worth the price of the life of God’s only begotten son,” he observed, “then we ought to render him or her honor and a welcome, not a roar of hate, clenched fists and gritted teeth in response to the latest campaign slogan from a candidate.”
“If even a man on death row has a soul, is a human person – an 'is' that cannot be erased even by beastly crimes he may have committed – then we ought not to strap him to a gurney and inject him with poison.”
Archbishop Dolan suggested that the Catholic understanding of human worth was needed to correct secular philosophies that speak of rights without corresponding duties.
“The same doctrine that gives rise to a grand tradition of respect for human rights also gives us the call to duty and responsibility,” he taught.
“The orthodox insistence upon the dignity of the human person, with the logical corollary that every person deserves dignity and respect, becomes as a matter of fact heretical if it sinks into a narcissistic demand for whatever pleasure or right I feel I am entitled to,” he cautioned.
To avoid this error, the archbishop urged his listeners to recall Blessed John Paul II's principle: “Genuine freedom is the ability to do what we ought, not the license to do whatever we want.”
Denver, Colo., Dec 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Catholics must rediscover their religious identity and mission, according to two new American appointees to the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.
“In a certain sense we don't have an option,” said Curtis Martin, founder and president of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). He was named as a consultant for the council on Dec. 7, along with Sacred Heart Major Seminary Professor Dr. Ralph Martin.
“If we continue to do what we've been doing the last 40 years, we're on a course for self-destruction,” Curtis Martin said. “The good news is that the Church has within herself the mechanisms for healing – first and foremost, through the grace of God; but secondly, through a rediscovery of the Church's identity.”
Both men will advise the council that exists to re-awaken Christian faith in areas where it once thrived but has now declined. They are among the 15 new consultants announced by the Holy See Dec. 7, a group that includes six laypersons and nine clergy.
When it comes to evangelism, the FOCUS founder – who also teaches at Denver's Augustine Institute – told CNA that the Church has both a problem and an opportunity.
“Many Catholics suffer from a 'Catholic identity crisis,'” he said. “We don't understand what evangelization is, or how to do it.”
“We are told by the Church, that the Church exists in order to evangelize,” he noted. “So there is an opportunity to rediscover the meaning and purpose of being Catholic, and that will bring about a renewal of Catholic faith and Catholic culture.”
Dr. Ralph Martin, who serves as president of Renewal Ministries, alongside teaching at Sacred Heart, says Catholics must not entrust the spread of the Gospel solely to priests or to a professional class of experts.
“The main thing is awakening each Catholic to the fact that, just by virtue of them being baptized, they're called to participate in the mission of Christ,” he told CNA. “That mission is primarily focused on bringing people to himself – saving them from hell, saving them for heaven.”
“It involves awakening the baptismal identity of the average Catholic, because the priest can't possibly carry out the New Evangelization all by himself. It has to be priests and people working together, having a mentality in the parish: 'We're a missionary center. We're an evangelization center.'”
“The fields are ripe for harvest all around us,” Ralph Martin said.
“That means taking advantage of every contact we have with people, to look for opportunities to draw them towards faith.”
Both of the new papal appointees stressed the difference between Catholic missionary work, and the efforts of other Christian groups – whose energy and zeal cannot make up for the fullness of truth and sacramental life.
“Catholic evangelization is drawing people not only to Christ, but to his body the Church,” said Ralph Martin.
“As a Catholic, you can't evangelize someone without being concerned about them coming to Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – the full Christian sacramental initiation.”
Curtis Martin described the Church's communal dimension as a vital principle, waiting to be rediscovered.
“We, as Catholics, by the grace of God, have Jesus Christ as our eldest brother,” he explained. “His Father becomes our father. His mother becomes our mother. And we are grafted into the life of the Church, whose members are brothers and sisters.”
With this sense of life, he said, believers can begin the task of re-Christianizing Europe and North America.
“There were generations before Christ that didn't know him—but we are a generation that has walked away, or slipped away, or been drawn away from him. And we have to acknowledge that,” he noted.
Nevertheless, divine grace—“the same energy that made Europe, or any Christian culture, what it was”—remains accessible to the faithful.
“If we turn again, in fidelity to the energy of Christ—the energy of truth, and of compelling charity—those forces that transformed the world once will transform it again,” Curtis Martin predicted.
Asunción, Paraguay, Dec 8, 2011 (CNA) - Bishop Adalberto Martinez of San Pedro, Paraguay is encouraging lawmakers to strengthen the family as a means of combating poverty in the country.
“If the future of humanity and of Paraguay is built on and from the families, the bonds of this small but fundamental cell of society must be strengthened.
“We must remove the obstacles that weaken and impoverish it,” Bishop Martinez said Dec. 6 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Caacupe.
He warned against proposed laws that “attack the family and human life” and said legislators should respect the values of Christians, “who make up the majority of the Paraguayan nation.”
The bishop also called attention to spouses who abandon their families. “It has become increasingly more apparent that poverty in our country has a feminine face. Women are sacrificing greatly to raise their children alone because of the irresponsibility of fathers,” he said.
Bishop Martinez also noted that the breakdown of the family leads many young people to fall into crime and live on the street.
He urged the government to ensure the well-being of the family and to promote policies that prevent domestic violence.
Mexico City, Mexico, Dec 8, 2011 (CNA) - A Mexican priest is urging viewers to participate in a Dec. 12 televised Mass to mark the bicentennial independence of countries in Latin America.
“It is important to be aware that we should participate and not just watch the Mass,” explained Father Ricardo Valenzuela, a priest at Mexico City's cathedral. “With such a spiritual predisposition, the graces and blessings will be effective for us.”
In a Dec. 7 interview with the Mexican Catholic newspaper Desde la fe, Fr. Valenzuela explained that when the congregation stands during the Mass, for example, “(i)t would be much better if those watching on TV stood as well, because that shows that they are participating in the Mass.”
He also said viewers should keep in mind the real presence of Christ at the moment of the consecration, “even if they are following the broadcast live or watching a re-broadcast.”
Fr. Valenzuela underscored the importance of making a spiritual communion and offering prayers for the Church and Pope Benedict.
He also noted that the Pope’s final blessing extends to those watching on T.V. or listening via radio, “But it is better if we prepare ourselves beforehand to receive it.”
Vatican City, Dec 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Church's nature and destiny are revealed in the Virgin Mary's perfect holiness, Pope Benedict XVI taught on the Dec. 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
“In her sinless perfection, Mary is a great sign of hope for the Church and for the world, a sign of the marvels that God's grace can accomplish in us, his human creatures,” the Pope said in his remarks at the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.
Christ's mother, he explained, received the fullest possible measure of the same grace given to believers through the sacraments of the Church.
“The expression 'full of grace' indicates the marvelous work of God, who wanted to give us back the life and liberty, lost by sin, through his only begotten Son,” said the Pope, reflecting on the Archangel Gabriel's greeting to Mary.
“We too are given the 'fullness of grace' that we need to shine in our lives,” he pointed out, citing Saint Paul's teaching that God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” and “destined us to be (his) sons” through baptism.
The Pope explained that Mary's complete preservation from original sin – a perennial teaching of the Church, formally proclaimed by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854 – was a “special grace and privilege of almighty God,” given to her “in anticipation of the merits of Jesus Christ.”
By this privilege, she became a prototype of the Church – which is “the virgin mother of all Christians,” in the words of St. Hildegard of Bingen cited by the Pope.
The same Pope who formally defined the Immaculate Conception, also confirmed Mary as the patroness of the United States under that title in 1847.
After leading the crowd in prayer, Pope Benedict offered his special greetings to English-speaking pilgrims on the feast day.
“In these days of Advent, in company with the holy and immaculate Mother of God,” he said, “let us prepare to welcome her son into our lives and into our hearts.”
“May God bestow His blessings of joy and peace upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.”
Rome, Italy, Dec 8, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the biblical description of a “woman clothed with the sun” in his remarks at Rome's Spanish Steps on the 2011 Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
“What is the meaning of this image? It represents the Church and Our Lady at the same time,” the Pope told the crowd assembled before the nearby statue commemorating the 1854 definition of Mary's Immaculate Conception. “Before all, the 'woman' of the apocalypse is Mary herself.”
The 12th chapter of the Biblical Apocalypse – also known as the Book of Revelation – describes the glorification and persecution of “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”
Though not named, this woman is described as the mother of the Messiah. In poetic language akin to the Bible's other prophetic books, Saint John says she faced the threat of “a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,” and “fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God.”
Pope Benedict, offering white roses in his traditional yearly act of Marian veneration, gave listeners his insight into the connection between the Virgin Mary and the Church – portrayed in the Apocalypse through the single image of the sun-clad woman.
“She appears 'clothed in sunlight,' that is, clothed in God,” observed the Pope. “The Virgin Mary is in fact completely surrounded by the light of God and lives in God … The 'Immaculate One' reflects with all of her person the light of the 'sun' which is God.”
“Besides representing Our Lady, this sign personifies the Church, the Christian community of all times,” he continued.
The Church, he explained, is “pregnant, in the sense that she carries Christ” and “must give birth to him to the world.”
“This is the labor of the pilgrim Church on earth, that in the midst of the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world, she must bring Christ to men.”
Because the Church continues to bring Jesus into the world, Pope Benedict said, it “finds opposition in a ferocious adversary,” symbolized in scripture by the “dragon” that has “tried in vain to devour Jesus,” and now “directs his attacks against the woman – the Church – in the desert of the world.”
“But in every age the Church is supported by the light and the strength of God,” the Pope said. “She is nurtured in the desert with the bread of his word and the Holy Eucharist.”
“And in this way, in every tribulation, through all of the trials that she finds in the course of the ages and in the different parts of the world, the Church suffers persecution, but comes out the victor.”
Pope Benedict said the Church should not fear persecution, which is bound to arise, but will be defeated.
“The only pitfall of which the Church can and must be afraid is the sin of her members,” he warned, highlighting the key difference between the Church and the woman who is its prototype.
“While in fact Mary is immaculate – free from every stain of sin – the Church is holy, but at the same time marked by our sins.”
While sinless herself, Mary remains in solidarity with the Church struggling against sin.
“That is why the people of God, pilgrims in time, turn to their heavenly mother and ask for her help,” explained Pope Benedict.
He stressed the world's need for the hope brought by the “woman clothed with the sun” – “especially in this difficult moment for Italy, for Europe and for different parts of the world.”
“May Mary help us to see that there is a light beyond the veil of fog that appears to envelop reality,” he declared.
“For this also we, especially on this day, never cease to ask with filial trust for her help: 'O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.'”
Rome, Italy, Dec 8, 2011 (CNA) - Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has praised the Knights of Columbus’ work in Rome and around the world, remarking on the “great and rewarding friendship” between the Catholic fraternal order and the city.
The cardinal spoke at a Dec. 6 ceremony which named a Roman square “Cavalieri di Colombo” after the U.S.-based order. The square is next to Rome’s historic Baths of Caracalla.
Cardinal Bertone said the event recognized the Knights’ “commitment and love” towards the “great City of Rome, the center of Catholicism and seat of the Successor of Peter.”
The Knights of Columbus first arrived in Rome in response to Pope Benedict XV’s invitation in the year 1920.
While the order is well known by Romans for its sports centers, its restoration of Vatican artworks, and its projects in communications, the cardinal said the Knights were even more important as a “confidential diplomatic channel” between the United States and the Vatican City State before the U.S. established diplomatic relations in the 1980s.
Cardinal Bertone cited the work of Count Enrico Galeazzi, director of the Knights of Columbus in Rome. Pope Pius XII sent the count to the U.S. to obtain from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt an end to the bombings of Rome in 1943.
After the war, the Knights began to open sports centers in the country even though the U.S. and Italy had been wartime adversaries. They filled a void created by the Italian government, which at the time had abolished Catholic youth activities.
The Knights also worked in post-war relief for Italians. Their 1982 international convention, the cardinal reported, laid the foundation for the Vatican’s diplomatic relations with the United States.
Even today, Cardinal Bertone said, they remain for Rome “a symbol of the solid bond of faith and friendship, never interrupted.”
The Knights have shown the laity’s vocation of witnessing to the Gospel. They have shown their willingness to assume the commitments of each baptized person and to demonstrate their “full, absolute acceptance of Jesus as our Lord.”
In Cardinal Bertone's view, Knights of Columbus founder Michael McGivney was “prophetic” in understanding that total and complete assent to Christ is not exclusively for those who have received holy orders or professed religious vows.
“Father McGivney’s conviction was founded on an even more profound intuition … that our concern for the needy and perseverance in charitable activity could attenuate and find (itself) without (its) deepest meaning if it were not deeply rooted in faith,” the cardinal said.
“(T)o all the Knights and friends who are present, I wish a fruitful pathway of Advent and Holy Christmas, full of peace and serenity.”