Lima, Peru, Feb 13, 2012 (CNA) - Bishop Jose Luis del Palacio Perez-Medel of Callao in Peru said Pope Benedict's upcoming trips to Mexico and Cuba will emphasize his mission to evangelize formerly Christian societies.
The Pope will present the “truth that liberates man from slavery, suffering, illness and death,” Bishop Perez-Medel told CNA on Feb. 9.
Pope Benedict will travel to Mexico March 23-25 and Cuba from March 26-28.
The bishop noted that the visits will give the people of Latin American the chance to grow deeper in their Christian faith and to prepare for the Year of the Faith, which the Pope has decreed beginning October 2012 as part of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
On his recent appointment in December of 2011 as a consultor to the new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, Bishop Perez-Medel said the mission the bishops have is to bring the Gospel “to all the countries of ancient Christian tradition.”
“Today young people need to hear this, because many have lost the meaning of life, they commit suicide, they seek after happiness in money and things that cannot satisfy man. For this reason, the new dicastery presents the message of Christianity to the young people of our times,” he said.
He also stressed the need for a deeper knowledge of the gospel and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and for a renewed appreciation of “Sunday Mass, so that it may become a living faith that nourishes us the entire week.”
Bishop Perez-Medel invited that faithful to prepare for the Pope’s arrival by “opening their ears and embracing what he will tell us, just as Mary embraced the angel’s proclamation.” “The Pope will bring a word of salvation to rekindle in us the Risen Jesus Christ who lives,” he said.
Vatican City, Feb 13, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Christian families should be a happy and loving environment in which young people can discern calls to the priesthood or religious life, Pope Benedict XVI says in his message for the World Day of Prayers for Vocations.
“Families are not only the privileged place for human and Christian formation; they can also be ‘the primary and most excellent seed-bed of vocations to a life of consecration to the Kingdom of God,’ by helping their members to see, precisely within the family, the beauty and the importance of the priesthood and the consecrated life,” the Pope said on Feb. 13.
The 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be celebrated on April 29 with the theme, “Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God.” The Pope’s message, which was released Feb. 13, comes at a time when vocations to the priesthood in most Western countries are on the rise.
In order for that to continue, says the Pope, the Church must “create the conditions that will permit many young people to say ‘yes’ in generous response to God’s loving call.”
This quest, he suggests, finds an “eloquent and particular realization in Christian families” whose love “is an expression of the love of Christ.” In families which are “a community of life and love,” the Pope says, young people are best able to experience the kind of “self-giving love” that Christ showed everyone.
Therefore, priests and parishes should work hard to foster such “homes and schools of communion,” modeled “on the Holy Family of Nazareth, the harmonious reflection on earth of the life of the Most Holy Trinity.”
Pope Benedict opens his letter by outlining how all vocations flow from the love of God for humanity.
We are all “loved by God even ‘before’ we come into existence” and are brought into existence “solely by his unconditional love,” to “bring us into full communion with Him,” he writes. The “discovery of this reality” is what “truly and profoundly changes our lives,” he says.
The Pope illustrates his point by quoting the 5th-century theologian St. Augustine of Hippo, who converted to Christianity as an adult and turned towards the “supreme beauty and supreme love” of God.
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!” he famously wrote. With these images, says the Pope, “the Saint of Hippo seeks to describe the ineffable mystery of his encounter with God, with God’s love that transforms all of life.”
God’s love, which is an “absolutely free gift,” goes ahead of everyone and “sustains” them along the path of life of life, the Pope said, explaining that this means “every specific vocation” is born of “the initiative of God.”
The Pope asserts in his message that the “appealing beauty of this divine love” must be proclaimed ever anew, “especially to younger generations.”
In this “soil of self-offering and openness to the love of God,” he says, “all vocations are born and grow.”
Pope Benedict also offers some advice to those considering religious vocations. He encourages them to love God and their neighbors – “two expressions of the one divine love” – with a “particular intensity and purity of heart.”
It is a love for others, especially the most disadvantaged, that should inspire them to be “a builder of communion between people and a sower of hope.” The Pope quotes the 19th-century French cleric St. John Vianney, patron of priests, who would say to his people that “priests are not priests for themselves, but for you.”
Pope Benedict concludes his message by imparting his blessing, especially on “those young men and women who strive to listen with a docile heart to God’s voice and are ready to respond generously and faithfully.”
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 13, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Hector Aguer of La Plata, Argentina said the Church makes the Catechism available so that Catholics can know the truths of the faith, which spring “from intelligence and the will” and not from “irrational emotion.”
During his program Keys to a Better World on Feb. 4, the archbishop recalled that this year marks two decades since the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the request of Blessed John Paul II, “and this commemoration is an appropriate opportunity to recall the usefulness of this text.”
“This is very important because the faith is not a mere sentiment or religious emotion, but is rather the personal adherence of the intellect and the will to God and to what God has revealed to us in Christ, which is that which the Church transmits to us for belief,” he said.
“Faith entails knowledge and thought,” the archbishop underscored. “And the knowledge of the contents of the faith is very important so that this adherence to the truth of the faith, who is a person, Jesus Christ, be firm, consistent and free.”
Through the Catechism, the Church is addressing a problem in modern culture, which is the question of truth, “and here we are offered the foundation of the Truth revealed by God, who illuminates the meaning of man’s life.”
Archbishop Aguer said Pope Benedict XVI’s Compendium of the Catechism, made up of questions and answers, “offers very concise definitions of the truths of the faith, of the sacraments, of the precepts of the Church, of the way of the Christian life, of prayer, with citations from the Holy Fathers, theologians and doctors of the Church, from saints – even those of recent times – and other authors.”
He also noted that Youcat, or the Catechism for young people, created for World Youth Day Madrid 2011, was aimed at “the young men and women who are the hope of the Church of tomorrow and of humanity.”
“Cardinal Newman said we believe because we realize that it is good to believe, and therefore the studying of the contents of our faith helps us. And so this is a good opportunity to recommend once again that we return to the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church,'” he said.
Washington D.C., Feb 13, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney reaffirmed his commitment to faith, life and marriage and vowed to uphold American values at a conference in the nation's capital.
“The presidency is more than a public office,” he said. “It is a sacred trust.”
Romney addressed a crowd gathered at Marriott Wardman Park on Feb. 10 for the Conservative Political Action Conference. He later beat out his GOP competitors to win the conference’s straw poll.
After losing three state races to Rick Santorum on Feb. 7, Romney has been recovering momentum with a recent victory in Maine.
During his remarks at the summit, the former governor of Massachusetts described how his grandfather came to America “for a chance at religious liberty and economic opportunity,” said that faith and family are the values that “have shaped my life.”
He said that his record during his years in office illustrate his continuing commitment to these values.
Romney explained that he vetoed a bill that would have allowed for “cloning and embryo farming,” as well as one that would have given young girls access to abortion-inducing drugs.
He also said that he worked to promote abstinence education in public schools and recalled how he fought to defend marriage when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex 'marriage.'
“I pushed for a stay of the decision, fought for a marriage amendment to our constitution, and successfully prohibited out-of-state couples from coming to our state to get married and then go home,” he explained.
He added that he supported the Catholic Church’s conscience rights by defending Catholic adoption programs that placed children only in homes with both a mother and a father.
Romney said that these same values would shape his policy decisions as president of the United States.
He said that he would use the first day of his presidency to reinstate the Mexico City policy, which prohibits federal funding of international groups that promote or perform abortions.
He noted that he would also cut federal funding of Planned Parenthood, as well as the United Nations Population Fund, which supports China’s coercive one-child policy.
The GOP hopeful said that as president, he would work to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act and to promote a federal amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.
He vowed to overturn the health care overhaul promoted by the current administration and to “reverse every single Obama regulation that attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent life.”
Romney emphasized the importance of the 2012 election, which he described as “a defining moment” and “a battle for the soul of America.”
“I believe this is a moment that demands we return to our basic values and first principles,” he said.
Berkeley, Calif., Feb 13, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The withdrawal of a sex abuse lawsuit against the Holy See which tarnished the reputation of Pope Benedict XVI and added to a worldwide media controversy in Lent of 2010 shows the case had no legal merit, the Holy See’s U.S. lawyer Jeffrey Lena says.
“They withdrew because they knew that they would lose the case if they continued to pursue it. They did not want a negative ruling from the court,” Lena told CNA on Feb. 13.
He charged that the lawsuit’s initial prominence was an example of “the use of the judicial system to generate a media event.”
“In my view, the victim was used to promote a legally unsustainable attack on the Holy See,” Lena remarked.
Attorney Jeff Anderson filed the lawsuit “John Doe 16 vs. Holy See,” in April 2010. It charged that the Vatican knew about complaints against Wisconsin priest Fr. Lawrence Murphy, who sexually abused hundreds of minors between 1950 and 1974 at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee.
The suit sought monetary damages and the release of Vatican files about sexually abusive priests.
Anderson previously said that a key reason for filing the suit was to hold the Pope and the Vatican accountable for abuse. He claimed that the goal had been met in a secondary way, citing a federal court ruling involving the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
The attorney said he was given 30,000 pages of new documents that show Vatican officials were indifferent to reports of sex abuse by clergy.
Lena was skeptical of the reasons given.
“All the excuses that plaintiffs have offered are just that – excuses. They withdrew because they knew that they would lose the case if they continued to pursue it. They did not want a negative ruling from the court,” he said.
The plaintiff attorneys could not argue against the Holy See’s motion to dismiss without contradicting themselves, he contended.
The suit was filed at the same time new abuse allegations surfaced in Europe, which contributed to a media firestorm surrounding the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict’s actions as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Anderson and his fellow attorney Mike Finnegan provided case documents to major news media outlets that later came under scrutiny for insufficient skepticism in reporting about the charges.
“Naturally, lawsuits against important people or institutions generate a lot of attention,” Lena said. “Filing this lawsuit permitted (the) plaintiff's attorneys to make outlandish and unsupported claims, while protected by the litigation privilege, and drew attention to the discredited theory of a worldwide conspiracy of cover-up.”
In a separate statement, the Vatican’s U.S. lawyer charged that the plaintiff’s attorneys “orchestrated a press event replete with props and other trappings designed to induce a media feeding frenzy.”
The attorneys’ claims of conspiracy, Lena charged, were the “centerpiece of a planned sequence of media events” that used the sexual abuse of a child to assert “fallacious allegations” against the Holy See.
Lena specifically criticized the attorneys’ portrayal of the 1922 Vatican document “Crimen sollicitationis” as forbidding the reporting of sexual abuse to civil authorities. He said that the document, later revised in 1962, was itself the first “reporting statue.”
It could not have been designed to prevent abuse reporting because there were no civil reporting statutes at the time the document was written, he said. The document dealt with obligations under Church law, not civil law, and did not bar reporting incidents of suspected sexual abuse.
“Mythology about the Catholic Church to the contrary, the Holy See is not responsible for the supervision of the more than 400,000 priests around the world,” Lena noted. “Attorneys in this case knew that, and their knowledge of this fact is precisely what made the filing of this lawsuit so pernicious in the first place.”
The Holy See’s lawyer urged others to remember that the plaintiff was “terribly abused” as a boy.
“As Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly said, abuse – whether in public or private institutions, by whomever, and of whatever creed or religious affiliation – is a sin and a crime.”
Fr. Murphy, the priest involved in the abuse, died in 1998 amid a canonical trial hindered by a lack of proper records from the archdiocese. While the Holy See agreed to suspend a canonical trial seeking to remove him from the clerical state, it did not rule out laicizing him, contrary to media reports.
As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the future Pope Benedict XVI had limited jurisdiction over sex abuse cases until 2001, when the Roman Rota transferred responsibility to his congregation. Before that time, he became involved in abuse cases only when they allegedly took place in the confessional or involved violations of the Sacrament of Penance, as happened to several victims of Fr. Murphy.