Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 10, 2012 (CNA) - The scandal surrounding Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala is a “difficult moment” for the life of the archdiocese and a time for prayer and conversion, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez said in a Jan. 6 letter.
It is understandable for Catholics to feel “disappointed, confused and maybe angry,” the archbishop said in his letter to the faithful.
“I share some of these feelings and I feel a spiritual closeness to all of you in this time,” he added.
Pope Benedict XVI accepted Bishop Zavala’s resignation on Jan. 4 after the bishop admitted to fathering two teenage children who live in a state other than California with their mother.
Archbishop Gomez said the scandal should be seen as “an invitation to deeper conversion, a time of prayer and penance to purify the interior of our hearts.”
“Let us strive with new dedication to be more generous in our worship, more compassionate in our love, and more faithful in our commitment to Jesus and his Gospel,” he said. “Let us strive with new dedication to be more generous in our worship, more compassionate in our love, and more faithful in our commitment to Jesus and his Gospel.”
“The Church is human, but the Church is also divine and Jesus promised to be with his Church until the end of the age, nourishing us with his Word and sacraments and guiding us by his Holy Spirit.”
The 60-year-old Bishop Zavala oversaw the San Gabriel Pastoral Region, one of five regions in the archdiocese. He has not been in ministry since he submitted his resignation.
Archbishop Gomez on Jan. 4 said that the archdiocese has reached out to the bishop’s children and their mother to provide spiritual care and financial assistance for college.
In his Jan. 6 letter the archbishop also sought the intercession of Our Lady of the Angels.
“Through her prayers, may we make this a time when we renew our faith and love for her Son and for his Catholic Church.”
Washington D.C., Jan 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Organizers of a youth rally and pro-life Mass in Washington, D.C. say a growing U.S. movement in defense of the unborn will draw tens of thousands of young people to the events on Jan. 23.
Christa Lopiccolo, executive director of life issues for the D.C. archdiocese, attributed the expected high turnout to a “growing enthusiasm and dedication” to life among teens and young adults.
Lopiccolo told CNA on Jan. 9 that “the numbers of youth in attendance have been steadily increasing over the years” as society becomes more aware that abortion is not a simple solution a problem.
On Jan. 23, pro-life advocates from around the country will gather in Washington D.C. for a rally on the National Mall and march to the Supreme Court. The events will commemorate the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.
The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. will hold its annual youth rally and Mass on the morning of Jan. 23, before the march down Constitution Avenue.
To accommodate the large crowd, both the Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory will be used for the events. The combined venues hold 28,000 people, and tickets for both locations have run out.
Lopiccolo said that there were many others who had wanted to attend but were unable to get tickets due to high demand.
Starting last year, organizers added five additional sites to accommodate the overflow of people wishing to attend because “there simply isn’t an indoor facility large enough to support the crowds.”
Of those in attendance, between 80 and 90 percent are expected to be young people.
The number of teens and young adults at the march are “remarkably evident,” Lopiccolo said, noting that “today’s youth have grown up with sonograms and other technologies that shed light on the wonder of human development.”
Because of this, they are rejecting the idea that a baby in the womb is a mere “blob of tissue,” she said. Young people are also “very aware that many of their generation are missing” due to almost 40 years of legalized abortion in America.
Lopiccolo said she anticipates an increased turnout for the march this year of people of all faiths – as well as nonbelievers – adding that that polls continue to show that more Americans are considering themselves pro-life.
“As more and more people are convinced of the sacredness of life in its most vulnerable stages, they desire to put that conviction into action and make an impact on the legislation in this country,” she said.
Attendance for the march has consistently been estimated at several hundred thousand in recent years.
Molly O’Connor, 23, a native of Tulsa, Okla., attended the March for Life in both 2006 and 2011.
O’Connor told CNA on Jan. 9 that in addition to noticing that the turnout seemed higher on her second visit, she also observed more diversity among participants.
“I remember seeing a Yale pro-life group and Jews for Life” she said, adding that many individuals from Catholic organizations were also present.
“I talked with a number of groups from all over the country,” O’Connor said.
She recalled being “amazed” at the number of people who had sacrificed to travel to the nation’s capital in order to “show solidarity and support” for the unborn.
“I was really impacted by the remarkable sense of dedication from people of all walks of life,” she said.
Valencia, Spain, Jan 10, 2012 (CNA/Europa Press) - Archbishop Carlos Osoro of Valencia, Spain said that the biggest problem the world faces today is the result of “excluding God from our lives and from history.”
During an interview on the third anniversary of his appointment to the Valencia archdiocese, he emphasized that the “great crisis of the world, but especially of Europe, is a crisis of faith.”
Archbishop Osoro addressed specific challenges that his archdiocese faces, including the country's shortage of vocations.
In response to the issue, the archbishop is spearheading a local renewal effort through 2014 to encourage priestly vocations and help young people “discover the authenticity that comes from an encounter with the Lord and to help families realize they are the place where the Christian community truly begins.”
He went on to note the urgency of Christian families discovering their importance in society as the first place “where we learn best and what is most necessary in our lives.”
“To know how to love, to forgive, to serve, to give of one’s self, to put one’s self at the service of others, to see others as more important than one’s self is all learned in that ‘small church’ that is the family,” the archbishop said.
He also encouraged Catholics in Spain to bear greater witness to their faith in public life and to reach out in charity to others during the tough economic times the country is facing.
“I am amazed to see many families giving up a part of their finances to help other families who facing more difficult situations than their own,” he said.
Archbishop Osoro reflected on his time as leader of the archdiocese, saying the last three years have been “extraordinary ecclesial experience in every aspect.” He added that he has tried to “keep nothing” for himself during his service and to “make a total and absolute gift” of his life.
Lima, Peru, Jan 10, 2012 (CNA) - Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Vatican charity Cor Unum, is on pilgrimage in Peru this week to visit the places where St. Rose of Lima lived.
The trip “has brought me into greater union with her and for that I thank the Lord,” he told the Archdiocese of Lima on Jan. 9. “I am very fortunate to visit the place where St. Rosa lived, because her message continues to live on.”
Cardinal Sarah, a native of Africa, noted that ever since he was a young boy he has had a special devotion to St. Rose, the patron saint of his hometown in Guinea.
During his pilgrimage, Cardinal Sarah visited the monastery and minor basilica of the 17th century saint as well as the monastery of St. Catherine.
He asked the Dominican cloistered community at St. Rose's monastery to pray for him and said he was happy to learn that there are nuns today who wish to follow the saint's example.
Cardinal Sarah voiced gratitude for the chance to visit Lima and said he would continue praying for the country. “I hope you do so for me as well,” he said. “Together we should journey towards holiness.”
The cardinal has served as the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Guinea and president of the Regional Bishops’ Conference of Western Francophone Africa.
In October of 2001 he was named secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, where he served until 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI named him president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. He was made a cardinal by Pope Benedict on Nov. 20, 2010.
Denver, Colo., Jan 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Pius XII helped a group of 500 Jewish refugees escape death at the hands of the Nazis and made a touching public tribute to the Jewishness of the man seeking their deliverance, new research shows.
“This is not a liberal or conservative issue. This should be of interest to all people, anyone who wants to get a sincere, objective account of who Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, really was,” William Doino, Jr. told CNA on Jan. 9.
“I think the more and more you look into his life and character, you find these remarkable things.”
Doino, a writer for “Inside the Vatican” magazine, has assembled an extensive bibliography of works on the wartime Pope.
His latest research brings to light new information about Howard “Heinz” Wisla’s audience with Pius XII in 1941. The Jewish man spoke to the Pope on behalf of his group of 500 Jewish refugees interned by the Italian military in a camp on the island of Rhodes, where they faced starvation due to a shortage of basic necessities.
Wisla’s memoirs recounted his audience with Pius XII.
“You have done well, my Jewish friend, to have come to me and told me what has happened down there in the Italian islands. I have heard about it before,” the Pope said, according to Wisla.
The pontiff asked him to return with a written report and deliver it to the Vatican Secretary of State, who was dealing with those refugees.
Not only did Pius XII promise help for refugees, he affirmed Wisla’s Jewishness in the presence of a German audience.
“But now to you, my young friend. You are Jewish. I know what that means in these times we live in. I do hope that you will always be proud to be a Jew,” the Pope told Wisla.
Wisla’s account continued: “And then the Pope raised his voice so that everybody in the room could hear it even more clearly: ‘My son, whether you are worthier than others, only the Lord knows, but believe me, you are at least as worthy as any other human being on our earth before the Lord. And now, my Jewish friend, go with the protection of the Lord Almighty, and never forget: Be always proud to be a Jew.’”
Doino explained that Wisla’s story was important for understanding the pontiff.
“He affirms his Jewish faith,” noted Doino, who believes the account proves that Pius XII was pro-Jewish at a time when “a lot of people were insensitive or didn’t understand the close bonds between Judaism and Christianity.”
Doino said he thought it was “unfair and wrong” to say that Pius XII didn’t regard the fate of Jews as part of his circle of moral obligation.
“He loved all human beings. Of course, he was a Catholic, and believed in the truth of the Catholic Church. But he also embraced all of humanity because he knew they were God’s children.
“I think he’s recognizing the profound bond that Jews and Catholics share. And I think that’s very, very important, because a lot of people think that only after Vatican II did we see a significant change in the papacy. I don’t think that’s true at all, I think the change began before that, and I think this is clear cut evidence of that.”
Pius XII’s comments were “all the more significant” because his audience with Wisla included German officers and took place during the Holocaust, Doino said in his new article “Pope Pius XII: Friend and Rescuer of Jews,” which was published in the January 2012 issue of Inside the Vatican magazine.
“If those Jews don’t get off of Rhodes, eventually the Germans take over and kill them,” Doino explained. They would have either starved or suffered the fate of the island’s indigenous Jewish population. The German army occupied the island in 1944 and 1,400 Jews were executed immediately.
Wisla’s “largely forgotten” memoir draws from a pseudonymous piece he authored in the Palestinian Post in 1944. There, he expressed his gratitude to Pius XII.
Doino first reported on the piece in 2006, but did not know the author’s identity at the time.
“The story intrigued me because he published it anonymously. For years, I’ve been trying to find out who he was,” Doino explained.
“Also I wanted to find out about whether the Pope was actually able to help the starving Jewish refugees.”
In his writings from the winter of 1941-1942, Wisla credited the “personal intervention” of Pope Pius XII for the arrival of a Red Cross ship which picked up the hundreds of starving Jewish refugees at the Rhodes internment camp and brought them to the Italian mainland.
Another refugee from Nazi persecution, the Czechoslovakian Herman Herskovic, was also interned on Rhodes. In a special 1964 issue of “L’Osservatore Romano,” he recounted Wisla’s audience with the Pope. According to Herskovic, the pontiff “listened attentively to him and promised his intervention with the Italian government.”
Herskovic also defended the Pope from Rolf Hochhuth’s play “The Deputy,” which depicted a Pope who was indifferent to Nazi persecution. Without Pius XII, Herskovic said, he would never have reached America, where he became a furniture dealer in Cleveland, Ohio.
Thanks to Wisla and Pope Pius XII, Herskovic and other Jewish internees were transferred to the Ferramonti di Tarsia camp in Calabria, Italy. During the tumult of the German retreat, when Jews feared they would be massacred, the Catholic chaplain of the camp persuaded the guards to allow them to escape.
Other Vatican documents show that the internees thanked Pope Pius XII for sending gifts of clothing and money to them.
“I don’t in any way want to ever downplay the radical evil of anti-Semitism or the sins of Christians, Doino told CNA. “By the same token, when good things happen, that should be celebrated and recognized.”
Gary Krupp, a Jewish researcher on Pius XII and World War II who lives in New York, said Doino’s new information is “just another example of how Pope Pius XII directly interceded to save Jewish lives when most of the world’s religious leaders did nothing.
“And Pius did so while being surrounded by hostile forces and mindful of the plan to invade the Vatican to kidnap him in 1943. It is time for the world to appreciate what this man did.”
Krupp, who is also founder and president of the interreligious relations-focused Pave the Way Foundation, called upon the authorities at the Holocaust memorial organization Yad Vashem to “seriously look” at the material and other evidence in order to have Pope Pius XII declared “righteous among nations.”
Rome, Italy, Jan 10, 2012 (CNA) - The much criticized 12-foot bronze sculpture of Blessed John Paul II that stands outside of Rome’s main train station will be revamped.
“I made a design for the sculpture that wasn’t executed well in the foundry,” explained the creator of the artwork, Italian sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi.
“It is not that we have come up with a new statue,” he told CNA on Jan. 10. “We're correcting those details that weren’t executed well” so that “it will be more faithful to my original idea.”
The redesign will involve replacing the head, modifying the Pope’s cape and touching up the outer coating of paint, since the bronze has oxidized to a light shade of green. The statue will also be raised 15 inches on a new platform, and its lighting will be improved.
When the statue was first unveiled last May, the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano criticized it for bearing “little resemblance’’ to Pope John Paul and described the head as being “excessively spherical.”
The President of Rome’s Cultural Commission, Federico Mollicone, went further, calling it “a permanent and sacrilegious mud stain on his memory.”
The general public also disliked the statue. A poll in the Italian La Repubblica newspaper found that 87 percent of the general public did not care for the piece.
Rainaldi told CNA in a June 2011 interview that his avant garde design is intended to manifest the inner-life of Pope John Paul II, instead of presenting a life-like photographic image.
“The man within was more interesting to me than the man outside,” he said, describing a man who was “lacerated” inside “not only by his infirmity but also by his mission,” the sculptor said. Rainaldi added, “this man showed he was beautiful for others reasons beyond his appearance.”
The cost of remaking the statue will be covered by the Silvana Paolini Angelucci Foundation, the charitable institution that initially donated it.
Vatican City, Jan 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - When Pope Benedict XVI creates 22 new cardinals next month, he will use a revised and simplified version of the ceremony to avoid any impression that becoming a cardinal is a sacrament.
“The creation of new cardinals had to be inserted into a context of prayer, while at the same time avoiding anything that could give rise to the idea of a ‘cardinalatial Sacrament,’" the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff said Jan. 10.
“Historically speaking, in fact, consistories have never been considered as a liturgical rite but as a meeting of the Pope with cardinals as part of the governance of the Church.”
The chief modification to the ceremony that will take place in Rome on Feb. 18 is that three phases will now be combined into one: the imposition of the biretta, the consignment of the ring and the assignation of each cardinal’s new title.
The Office of Liturgical Celebrations explained that prior to reforms instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1969, the imposition of the red hat took place during a public consistory while the ring and title were conferred in a secret consistory that took place later.
However, now that the distinction between the public and secret consistory no longer exists, it was deemed “coherent” to being the three phases together into a single rite.
The proclamation of Sacred Scripture will also take a shorter form, with a single Gospel reading – Mark 10:32-45 – but no first reading.
Finally, the collect and concluding prayers will also be those originally approved by Pope Paul VI in 1969.
Next month’s consistory will be the fourth of Pope Benedict’s pontificate. Of the 22 cardinals being created, two of them hail from the United States: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Now based in Rome, he was the Archbishop of Baltimore until August 2011. Also being installed as a cardinal is Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto.
Despite the changes to the installation ceremony that will take place on the Saturday, the Pope will still celebrate Mass with the new cardinals on Sunday, in keeping with tradition.
Washington D.C., Jan 10, 2012 (CNA) - Catholic publisher Al Napleton said he had “many wonderful experiences” working with Rick and Karen Santorum to publish a book on the loss of their fourth child.
“Working with the Santorums on the release and marketing of this beautiful book, I have experienced first-hand the character, courage and virtue of this amazing couple,” wrote Napleton in a Jan. 9 Catholic Marketing Network column.
He said it is “little wonder” that “so many good people of Iowa want to see them in the White House.”
As the president of a small Catholic media company, Napleton worked in 1996 with Rick Santorum, who was then serving as a Pennsylvania senator, and his wife, Karen, to publish “Letters to Gabriel.”
The book contains a series of letters written by Karen while she was pregnant with her son, Gabriel Michael, as well as some that were penned after he died. Gabriel only lived two hours before passing away.
Although Karen Santorum did not originally intend to publish the letters, family and friends encouraged her to share them in order to help other parents in similar situations.
Napleton said he felt a “certain kinship” with the senator. Both men had grown up in the same small town in Pennsylvania, attended the same schools and shared an “Italian working class background.”
Throughout the publishing process, he got to know the family and their story, and he found himself “impressed with them on many levels.”
He explained that Karen, a nurse who had spent several years working in a neonatal intensive care unit, wrote her first letter to welcome her son into the world on the day she learned that she was pregnant.
She continued writing letters as her pregnancy progressed, during a time that her husband was fighting hard in the Senate against partial-birth abortion.
Almost five months into the pregnancy, tests indicated that the baby had a serious, often fatal defect.
The family sought medical treatment and turned to God in prayer. They decided to give their son the names of two powerful archangels, Gabriel and Michael.
Napleton described Karen Santorum’s letters during this time as “dramatic and moving.”
“Their deep Catholic faith brought them comfort as all efforts to save their baby failed,” he recalled.
Gabriel was born on Oct. 11, 1996 and died two hours later, after being baptized by his father during his brief life.
Napleton recalled the words of comfort offered by Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who led the Archdiocese of Philadelphia at the time.
Cardinal Bevilacqua reassured Karen and Rick that their baby was in heaven and told the family that instead of praying for Gabriel, they should “pray to him to intercede on your behalf with our Heavenly Father.”
The cardinal later described the book as an “extraordinary tribute to the sanctity of life” and thanked the Santorums for their “exemplary courage and commitment to family.”
Reflecting on the family’s strong faith and character, Napleton said he has “no idea” how Santorum will do in the course of the election.
“But with his son a saint in Heaven pulling for him ... who knows?”