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Archive of February 8, 2012

Majority of Catholic voters oppose federal contraception rule

Washington D.C., Feb 8, 2012 (CNA) - Most Catholic voters oppose the federal rule requiring religious institutions to buy insurance that covers contraception and sterilization, according to new research published Feb. 7.

Public Religion Research Institute's poll found that 52 percent of voting Catholics do not believe the contraception coverage mandate should apply to religiously-affiliated colleges and hospitals. Only 45 percent of Catholic voters said the rule should apply to these ministries.

This figure, indicating Catholic voters' disapproval with a prominent Obama administration policy, may add to growing speculation about their role in the 2012 election. A Pew Research Center analysis released Feb. 2 showed that Catholics had drifted from the Democratic Party since 2008.

The Public Religion Research Institute released its findings one day after the U.S. bishops published a fact sheet on Health and Human Services' recently-finalized mandate. The bishops said the rule makes schools, hospitals, and charities act “against their conscience, to pay for things they consider immoral.”

Approved over objections from Catholic bishops and laypersons along with other religious groups, the rule applies to many types of faith-based institutions. Only those organizations that mainly hire and serve members of the same faith, for the purpose of promoting religious values, are exempt.

While politically active Catholics tended to disapprove of the mandate being applied to religious ministries that serve the public at large, their non-voting Catholic counterparts leaned toward a different view. With non-voters included, Catholic support for a mandate of this kind reached 52 percent.

Catholic voters, however, were joined in their opposition to the contraceptive mandate by many Evangelical Protestants. Only 31 percent of white Evangelicals said religious colleges and hospitals should be forced to buy insurance to give employees access to the drugs and methods without a co-pay.

Minority Catholics were more likely to believe the insurance mandate should apply to the Church's schools and hospitals, compared with their white co-religionists. Only 41 percent of white Catholics believe the contraception rule should apply to these institutions.

Among Americans of no religious affiliation, 59 percent thought the government should require religious colleges and hospitals to purchase insurance covering contraception. A slightly higher proportion of the non-religious, 61 percent, said employers in general should have to do so.

While 73 percent of Democrats said employers in general should be forced to make contraception available to employees without a co-pay, only 36 percent of Republicans agreed.

The Public Religion Research Institute describes itself as a “nonprofit, nonpartisan organization specializing in research at the intersection of religion, values, and public life.”

Its CEO, Dr. Robert P. Jones, is known for his work with groups such as Progressive Christians Uniting, the People for the American Way Foundation, and Human Rights Campaign.

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Bishop Estabrook, military auxiliary, dies at 67

Washington D.C., Feb 8, 2012 (CNA) - Bishop Joseph W. Estabrook, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, passed away on Feb. 4, in Houston, Texas, after a lengthy illness. The bishop was 67 years old. 

“The Archdiocese for the Military Services has lost an energetic and sensitive Successor of the Apostles,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who leads the archdiocese. 

He described Bishop Estabrook as a shepherd “whose pastoral zeal and love for the men and women in uniform and their families electrified everything he did.”

“His valiant struggle with cancer and his sense of hope have given us all a lesson in how to live and how to face death,” the archbishop said.

Born in Albany, N.Y. in 1944, Bishop Estabrook studied at St. Bonaventure University and Christ the King Seminary in Olean, N.Y. He was ordained on May 30, 1969 as a priest for Diocese of Albany, where he served at St. Vincent de Paul Parish.

He also worked as Chaplain to the Parsons Child Development Center, before being appointed as the first diocesan family life director in 1971.

Fr. Estabrook became a Navy Chaplain in 1977 and served on ships throughout Europe as well as in chaplaincy positions in the U.S.

He eventually returned to Washington, D.C., where he worked as the executive assistant to the Navy Chief of Chaplains. In addition, he served as an ethics consultant for the Navy Surgeon General and the Department of Defense.
 
In 1995, Fr. Estabrook became a Captain in the U.S. Navy, where he received multiple medals and awards.

He continued serving in various capacities as chaplain until 2004, when he was named Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. He was assigned to shepherd those in the Western Vicariate.

A funeral Mass for Bishop Estabrook will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 10 at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Alexandria, Va.

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Critics anticipate Supreme Court hearing after anti-Prop. 8 ruling

San Francisco, Calif., Feb 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Critics found the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ Feb. 7 ruling against the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 to be “absurd” but not surprising.

“This decision was completely expected,” said William B. May, head of Catholics for the Common Good. “You have to remember, this is the most liberal, most-overturned appeals court and most-overturned judge in the country.”

Backers of Prop. 8 never expected to prevail at the appellate level, but saw it as a step to the U.S. Supreme Court. They will now appeal directly to the Supreme Court rather than ask for a full hearing from the Ninth Circuit, May told CNA on Feb. 7.

The California ballot measure Prop. 8 defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. It passed in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote. In 2010, U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker overturned the decision as unconstitutional.

On Tuesday the federal appellate court ruled that Prop. 8 “served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.” It rejected claims that the ballot measure protected religious freedom and parents’ rights to educate their children as they see fit.

May countered that it is “absurd” to say there is no rational reason or public interest in “protecting the only institution in society that unites kids with their moms and dads.”

“They’re looking at marriage as merely something for the benefit of adults, not as the foundation of the family.”

Redefining marriage will tend to isolate religious groups, including Catholic parishes, from the wider community, he predicted, adding that it will change what children are taught.

“If marriage is redefined, that’s what will be taught in the schools. That’s a fact,” May said.

“It’s not prejudiced for the people of California to want their kids to learn the reality of what marriage is, in a way that supports them and influences positive decisions they make about marriage and family in their lives.”

Other supporters of Proposition 8 criticized the ruling.

“No court should presume to redefine marriage,” Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel Brian Raum said Feb. 7. “No court should undercut the democratic process by taking the power to preserve marriage out of the hands of the people.”

He said Americans “overwhelmingly” reject changing the definition of marriage, noting the millions of people who voted in 31 states to preserve marriage as the “timeless, universal, unique union between husband and wife.”

“We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage – tried in San Francisco – turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court,” Raum stated.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said the decision was “disappointing but not surprising.”

“This is not about constitutional governance but the insistence of a group of activists to force their will on their fellow citizens,” he charged.

“This ruling substitutes judicial tyranny for the will of the people, who in the majority of states have amended their constitutions, as California did, to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Perkins expressed confidence that the Supreme Court will reject “the absurd argument that the authors of our Constitution created or even implied a 'right' to homosexual 'marriage,' and will instead uphold the right of the people to govern themselves.”

May told CNA he thought the prospect of success in the Supreme Court is “good” because the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision is “really out of line with every other court and the Supreme Court in cases similar to this.”

“This will ultimately be decided in the Supreme Court and we think that is the place to get a sober review of the arguments based on law, not on emotional rhetoric.”

He asked supporters of Prop. 8 to pray and to voice their opinions in letters to the editor and in calls to television and radio talk shows.

“It’s really important for supporters of Prop. 8 to realize that this debate about marriage is going on continuously. It’s going on in families. It’s going on in public forums. It’s going on in legislatures.

“It’s critical that people become informed about how to talk about the reality of marriage in secular terms, and to be able to engage in a positive way, related not only to protecting but promoting the only institution that unites kids with their moms and dads.”

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Over 150 congressional leaders demand repeal of HHS mandate

Washington D.C., Feb 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A letter from 154 bipartisan members of Congress is urging the Obama administration to reverse a contraception mandate that religious employers say would require them to violate their consciences.

The Feb. 6 letter to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, condemned the recent mandate as an “unprecedented overreach by the federal government.”

Congressional leaders urged Sebelius to “reconsider the final rule” as it applies to employers and individuals who have moral or religious objections to the coverage required by the mandate.

They also asked her for “specific details on the process followed in the reading and evaluating of the public comments submitted” about the mandate.

The letter comes amid a storm of criticism over Sebelius’ recent announcement that virtually all employers will soon be required to purchase health insurance plans that cover contraceptives – including abortion-inducing drugs – and sterilization.

In their letter, the congressmen noted that Sebelius’ department had received more than 200,000 comments on the rule during its public comment period. Many of these comments objected to the “narrow scope of the religious exemption” included in the mandate.

The religious exemption applies only to those organizations that exist to instill religious values and limit their employment and services to primarily members of their own faith. While most churches are covered by the exemption, huge numbers of religious schools, hospitals and charitable organizations are not.

However, despite the massive wave of criticism, Sebelius refused to broaden the exemption in issuing the final rule on Jan. 20.

In response, Rep. Steve Scalise (R - LA) led a Congressional effort to compose a letter voicing “strong opposition” to the mandate, which he described as “radical” and an “attack on the religious freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the Bill of Rights.”
 
In their joint letter, congressional leaders observed that the mandate infringes upon the conscience rights not only of those who object to contraception, but also “of those who, for moral or religious reasons, oppose abortion.”

They explained that the regulation requires coverage of certain “drugs and devices that can function as abortifacients,” such as Plan B and Ella.

They also said that the one-year extension granted to religiously-affiliated organizations that object to the mandate “only delays the inevitable violation of conscience.”

The members of Congress asked Sebelius to consider the concerns that had been raised.

They requested that she “suspend the final rule” until an arrangement has been made to “ensure that both employers and individuals are afforded their constitutionally protected conscience rights.”

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Santorum wins three states, paints election as battle over rights

Washington D.C., Feb 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - As Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum swept three Feb. 7 contests in the GOP race for the nomination, he stated that this election is about whether rights come from God or the government.

Santorum said at a rally in Missouri on the evening of Feb. 7 that “freedom is at stake in this election,” and that he would defend religious liberty and listen to the American people as president.

“This is the most important election in your lifetime,” he said.

On Feb. 7, Santorum won the GOP caucuses in Colorado – where Mitt Romney had recently been leading in the polls – as well as the Minnesota caucuses and the non-binding Missouri primary, a symbolic contest that serves as a straw poll before the state’s official caucuses in March.

Although Romney is still ahead in the delegate count, Santorum has now surpassed Romney’s three state victories with his trio of recent wins, in addition to his late win in Iowa.

In his Missouri speech, Santorum emphasized the importance of the 2012 election in determining the future of America.  

After thanking God for “the grace to be able to persevere,” he also thanked his wife, Karen, for being “a rock through these last few weeks.”

“We have had more drama than any family really needs,” he said. “And she has just been an amazing rock and a great blessing to me.”

When his three-year-old daughter, Bella, was recently admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, Santorum briefly left the campaign trail, just days before the Jan. 31 Florida primary to be with her.

Bella, who is now recovering at home, has a genetic disorder known as Trisomy-18. Because of this, illnesses can quickly turn serious and even be fatal for her.

Santorum sent his love to his youngest daughter and promised to be home soon.

“I love you, sweetie,” he said. “Thank you so much for getting healthy.”

Santorum then turned his attention to the election and said, “Americans understand that there is a great, great deal at stake.” In his assessment, this election “is about a country that believes in God-given rights, and a Constitution that is limited to protect those rights.”

But President Obama “does not believe that,” and has shown over the last three years that he thinks “the government can give you rights,” he said.

This is a problem because when the government thinks it is the source of your rights, then the government can also “tell you how to exercise those rights” and can even “take them away.”     

Santorum pointed to a recent mandate issued by the Obama administration that will require virtually all employers to buy health insurance that covers sterilization and contraception for free, including the drug Ella, which can be used for early abortion.

The administration has refused to allow exemptions for most religious organizations, despite strong objections from groups that say the mandate will force them to violate their consciences and the teachings of their religion.

Santorum said that in issuing the decision, that Obama administration has told Catholics that “you have a right to health care, but you will have the health care that we tell you.” In this worldview, the government has the ultimate authority over what you “give your people, whether it is against the teachings of your church or not,” he explained.     

The former Pennsylvania senator said that he is “a first-generation American, whose parents and grandparents loved freedom and came here because they didn't want the government telling them what to believe and how to believe it.”    

But he never imagined that America would have a president “who would roll over that and impose his secular values on the people of this country.”

“When the majority of Americans oppose these radical ideas and they speak loudly against them, we need a president who listens to them,” Santorum said.

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US Catholic bishops reject ruling against Prop. 8

Washington D.C., Feb 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops condemned a federal court ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, saying the move defies the will of California voters and reflects “basic confusion” about the nature of marriage.

“The people of California deserve better. Our nation deserves better. Marriage deserves better,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York City, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.

In a Feb. 7 statement, he called marriage “one of the cornerstones of society” and stressed that the U.S. Constitution “does not forbid” its protection.

The cardinal-designate said that Wednesday's ruling was a “grave injustice” that ignores “the reality that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, who chairs the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, added that the court ignored the “correctly-informed judgment” of California voters, who supported the 2008 ballot measure that defined marriage as between one man and one woman.

The people of California, he said, “justly upheld the truth of marriage.”

On Feb. 7, a panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision against Proposition 8. It said the measure “served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California.”

Supporters of the measure – which received 52 percent of the vote – plan to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bishop Cordileone said that society does not exist in “an amoral or value-less vacuum” but must be “infused with moral direction that is grounded in the truth.”

The California Catholic Conference also weighed in after the ruling, noting that marriage “between one man and one woman has been – and always will be – the most basic building block of the family and of our society.”

Conference leaders said they were “disappointed” by the most recent ruling but noted that it has “always been clear” that the U.S. Supreme Court would likely decide the issue.

“In the end, through sound legal reasoning, we believe the court will see this as well and uphold the will of the voters as expressed in Proposition 8. We continue to pray for that positive outcome.”

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles also criticized the Ninth Circuit's opposition to the measure.

“Marriage, in every culture and every age, has been recognized as the lifelong union of a man and woman for their own well-being and for the creation and nurturing of children,” he said on Feb. 7.

The government has a “vital interest” in promoting marriage because it is the “foundation of society” and because the government has a duty towards the well-being of children, he said. Children “have the right to be born and raised in a family with both their mother and their father.”

Government officials also have “no competence and no authority” to redefine or “expand” the definition of marriage to include other kinds of relationships, he continued. To do so is “to say that marriage no longer exists” and this would have “grave consequences” for children and for the common good.

Archbishop Gomez pledged continued prayer for an outcome that “supports and strengthens the true meaning of marriage.”

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Pope's visit will encourage a Cuba founded on love

Rome, Italy, Feb 8, 2012 (CNA) - A Cuban priest believes that Pope Benedict's upcoming trip to the country will bring profound change and show that “love is the only path possible for the present and the future of Cuba.”

“I am convinced in faith that God our Lord will bring great benefit out of the Pope’s visit and out of everything that Cuba is experiencing at this time for our people and for our Church,” Father Jorge Luis Perez Soto told CNA on Feb. 2.

The priest served as pastor of the Cathedral of Havana before relocating to Rome to study dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He said that Pope Benedict's March 26-28 visit will serve to strengthen the bond between Cubans and the Vatican. Catholics in the country are especially called to be “a means of reconciliation in Cuba,” in order to bring healing to the wounds of the past, he added.

They must also strive to “participate more in the social commitment to transform society, to transform the country at this time of great change in Cuba, and to participate actively in the life of the Church,” he said.

Fr. Perez Soto referred to the beginnings of the Communist regime in Cuba, saying it “certainly decimated the Church during those years.”

However, “I think it also did the Church a favor,” he observed, “because the Church stripped of all its incidentals had to seek after what was essential, what was central, and that made us a small Church, weak but united around our pastors, a Church united around the Holy Father.”

He recalled that the visit by John Paul II to Cuba in 1998 was “a new experience” for the Church on the island, and his messages formed the basis for pastoral ministry in the country during the following 14 years. The Communist regime also slowly began to allow greater freedoms in Cuba, he said.

“I think the people’s view of the Pope changed. They knew about him before, but to see him in person, to see him preaching the Gospel, from the Gospel of his suffering and his old age had a great impact on the Cuban people.”

Because of this experience, he added, “the Cuban people today likewise are preparing for the visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI,” who as successor to St. Peter, will come “to confirm the pilgrim flock of Christ in Cuba.”

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Vatican has no money or space for private plane, says priest

Rome, Italy, Feb 8, 2012 (CNA) - Contrary to popular belief, Pope Benedict does not own a private jet but instead travels on commercial airlines since the Vatican “doesn’t have the space or the money” to maintain one, an insider said.

Mexican priest and journalist Father Gonzalo Meza told CNA on Feb. 2 that the Pope always departs Rome on Alitalia, and an airline from the country he is visiting usually brings him home.

However, he noted, the “papal jet” is outfitted with special items, including pillows and seat covers embroidered with the papal coat of arms.

During his flight to Mexico for his March 23-25 visit, nearly one hundred people, mostly journalists, will accompany the Pope.

Security for the trip is always provided by the host country, Fr. Meza said.

Fr. Meza said that during his flights, Benedict XVI “takes the opportunity to get ahead on his intellectual work or to pray. He likes to write, and he writes all of his homilies and speeches by hand, and then his translator transcribes and corrects them. He almost never uses a computer.”

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Boehner, Upton announce legislative plans to fight HHS mandate

Washington D.C., Feb 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) vowed Feb. 8 to use legislative means to fight the Obama administration’s controversial contraception mandate.

In a rare speech on the House floor, Boehner said that the recently announced mandate “constitutes an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country.”

He warned that if President Obama does not reverse the mandate, “then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must.”

On Jan. 20, Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a new mandate that requires virtually all employers to purchase health insurance plans that include contraception, sterilization and drugs that cause early abortions.

Despite massive protests from Catholics and other believers, Sebelius has refused to extend a religious exemption to individuals and organizations that say the mandate forces them to purchase products and services that violate the teachings of their religion.
 
Boehner, who is Catholic, spoke about the mandate on the same day that Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced that he plans to advance legislation “to reverse the controversial decision and restore longstanding conscience protections.”

Upton, who serves as the chair of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that he is “deeply disappointed with the recent decision” by the Obama administration, which he called a violation of the First Amendment.

The committee held a hearing last November to examine the potential threat that the proposed health care mandate posed to conscience rights and access to health care.

Upton said that at the time, he had urged the administration “to reconsider this threat to religious freedom.”

Now, he is “preparing to move quickly” on the legislation, according to a Feb. 8 committee statement.

In addition, Sebelius is scheduled to testify on March 1 before members of the committee, who will have the opportunity to question her directly about the mandate.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) recently introduced a bill in the Senate that would overturn the mandate.

In his House floor speech, Boehner praised Upton for working towards an “effective and appropriate solution.”

He said that by holding a hearing when the rule was first proposed last year, Upton “began laying the groundwork for legislative action” against the mandate.

Boehner noted that “Americans of every faith and political persuasion have mobilized” in opposition to the mandate in recent days.

“In imposing this requirement, the federal government has drifted dangerously beyond its constitutional boundaries,” he said. 

He warned that the regulation encroaches on religious liberty “in a manner that affects millions of Americans and harms some of our nation’s most vital institutions.”

“The House will approach this matter fairly and deliberately,” Boehner vowed, adding that the chamber would work “through regular order and the appropriate legislative channels.”

“This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not stand, and will not stand,” he said.

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Pope: Jesus' prayer on cross shows God hears prayers

Vatican City, Feb 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The cry of Christ on the cross should remind everyone that God always hears their prayers, even when he seems distant, Pope Benedict XVI said Feb. 8.

“Let us bring to God our daily crosses, in the certainty that he is present and listens to us,” he said at the Wednesday general audience, held with several thousand people in Paul VI Hall.

Pope Benedict made his remarks as part of his ongoing series of weekly reflections on prayer. Today he focused on the prayerful cry of Jesus Christ during his final agony on the cross on Good Friday – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

“This cry comes after a three-hour period when there was darkness over the whole land,” noted the Pope, dwelling upon the accounts given in the Gospels of Sts. Mark and Matthew.

“Darkness is an ambivalent symbol in the Bible – while it is frequently a sign of the power of evil, it can also serve to express a mysterious divine presence,” he said.

“Just as Moses was covered in the dark cloud when God appeared to him on the mountain, so Jesus on Calvary is wrapped in darkness.”

So “what is the meaning of Jesus’ prayer?” asked the Pope.

He replied, “the words Jesus addresses to the Father are the beginning of Psalm 22, in which the psalmist expresses the tension between, on the one hand, being left alone and, on the other, the certain knowledge of God’s presence amongst his people.”

The psalmist, he explained, “speaks of a ‘cry’ to express all the suffering of his prayer before the apparently absent God. At moments of anguish prayer becomes a cry.”

Pope Benedict said that the same thing should also happen “in our own relationship with the Lord.” When people are faced with “difficult and painful situations, when it seems that God does not hear, we must not be afraid to entrust him with the burden we are carrying in our hearts, we must not be afraid to cry out to him in our suffering.”

The Pope pointed to Christ on the cross, who “at the moment of ultimate rejection by man, at the moment of abandonment,” is still “aware that God the Father is present even at the instant in which he is experiencing the human drama of death.”

But even if people are convinced of God’s presence, a question still remains in many hearts, the Pope said. “How is it possible that such a powerful God does not intervene to save his Son from this terrible trial?”

He replied that it is important to understand that “the prayer of Jesus is not the cry of a person who meets death with desperation, nor that of a person who knows he has been abandoned.”

Instead, by appropriating Psalm 22 to himself – the psalm of the suffering people of Israel – Jesus “takes upon himself not only the suffering of his people, but also that of all men and women oppressed by evil.”

He subsequently takes that “to the heart of God in the certainty that his cry will be heard in the resurrection,” so that “his is a suffering in communion with us and for us, it derives from love and carries within itself redemption and the victory of love.”

Therefore, just as “the people at the foot of Jesus’ cross were unable to understand” his cry, so “we likewise find ourselves, ever and anew, facing the ‘today’ of suffering, the silence of God,” the Pope said. But we also “find ourselves facing the ‘today’ of the resurrection, of the response of God who took our sufferings upon himself, to carry them with us and give us the certain hope that they will be overcome.”

Pope Benedict explained that the “prayer of the dying Jesus teaches us to pray with confidence for all our brothers and sisters who are suffering, that they too may know the love of God who never abandons them.”

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World Youth Day organizers unveil Brazilian-themed logo for 2013

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Brazil's coastline, its Sugarloaf Mountain, and the iconic “Christ the Redeemer” statue are all part of the logo World Youth Day unveiled Feb. 7 for its 2013 celebration in Rio de Janeiro.

“In the faith of the nations the heart has a major role,” World Youth Day said in a note explaining the heart-shaped logo.

It represents Brazil's welcome to the world “as a nation of generous heart and hospitable people,” while also conveying the faith of “the disciples who carry Jesus in their hearts”

Excitement surrounded the unveiling of the 2013 World Youth Day logo, which took place at an event hosted by Rio de Janeiro's Archbishop Orani João Tempesta.

Social media lit up on Tuesday with discussion of the image, as the Twitter hashtag “#logoJMJ” made the network's list of trending topics among Brazilians for several hours.

A 25-year-old Brazilian man, Gustavo Huguenin, submitted the winning logo design in a contest held by organizers of the international Catholic gathering, which will take place July 23-28, 2013.

In his design, geographical and religiously-themed elements come together to form a heart, arranged around Christ's image taken from Brazil's internationally-known statue.

Its top half incorporates the outline of Sugarloaf Mountain, the peak overlooking Rio de Janeiro on Brazil's southeastern coast. World Youth Day's traditional “pilgrim cross” is superimposed on the mountain.

Meanwhile, the lower right half of the heart shape combines with the right side of Christ's image to form the shape of Brazil's coastline. The logo shares the green, blue, and yellow color scheme of the country's flag.

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