Rome, Italy, Mar 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
If someone asks what World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro will be like, the event’s organizers believe they have the perfect answer – the open arms of the city’s famous statue of Christ the Redeemer.
“Looking at the imposing statue of Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado we can see the essence of World Youth Day: Christ is with open arms in a gesture of love and welcome, the true center of this event, he is what young people want to find,” said Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on March 29.
Cardinal Rylko made his remarks at the opening of the first international preparatory meeting for those organizing the July 2013 international World Youth Day. The four-day gathering is being held in the small Italian town of Rocca di Papa, which is located 15 miles southeast of Rome.
The meeting brings together 300 representatives from 98 countries and 45 international Catholic youth movements, associations and communities. Today’s session was dedicated to reviewing last year’s World Youth Day in Madrid.
Cardinal Rylko recalled “the unforgettable moments of WYD 2011 in Madrid,” which began with an opening ceremony in Plaza de Cibeles and ended six days later at an open air papal Mass at the city’s Quatro Vientos airbase.
“The young people gathered in the Plaza de Cibeles in Quatro Vientos and screamed a decided ‘yes’: faith is possible even today, or better, it is the most beautiful adventure in life that may occur! It was an epiphany for a young Church, full of joy and missionary zeal,” Cardinal Rylko said.
The Friday, March 30 session is entitled “On our way to Rio 2013.” It will involve addresses from Archbishop Orani João Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro and Bishop Eduardo Pinheiro da Silva, president of Brazil’s Episcopal Commission for Youth. Both men, along with other members of the organizing committee, will outline the expectations and challenges facing World Youth Day 2013.
On Saturday, the delegates will study the issue of “The Christian education of young people: a priority in the mission of the Church.” Key contributions to the discussion will come from Bishop Josef Clemens, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and testimonies given by many of the young delegates.
The preparatory session will finish with the delegates attending Palm Sunday Mass, which will be presided over by Pope Benedict in Saint Peter’s Square. April 1 also marks the Diocese of Rome’s celebration of the 27th World Youth Day.
Rome, Italy, Mar 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, head of the Vatican's highest court, described the beauty of receiving two young Americans in Rome into the Catholic Church.
“Today we are privileged to witness in a most beautiful manifestation the work of God’s grace flowing from the glorious pierced Heart of Jesus through the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” said Cardinal Burke in his homily March 28.
Jonathan Wasserman, 19, from Kansas City, Missouri, and 19-year-old Kristina Landry from Ellington, Connecticut, are both students at Thomas More College in New Hampshire. As part of their four-year liberal arts course they have been studying in Rome for the past three months.
On March 28, within the historic surrounding of the Vatican’s Church of Saint Anne, both were received into the Church by Cardinal Burke. The former Archbishop of St. Louis is now resident in Rome as the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest court.
“I’m feeling great,” Jonathan told CNA moments afterward. “I feel incredible. It was a dream come true. I’m just glad to have this all. I’m just happy.”
“Yeah, it’s incredible, amazing, awe inspiring,” added Kristina.
Jonathan said he had become a Catholic because “it is the one true Church” and that “to be a Catholic is to have the truth with you,” while Kristina described Catholicism as “how we are meant to praise God.”
The Catholic faith, she noted, “really encompasses everything that is true.”
As part of their reception, Cardinal Burke also administered the Sacrament of Confirmation upon both students, telling them that “As baptism was your personal Easter, so Confirmation will be your personal Pentecost.”
Appropriately – given the papal surrounding – Jonathan took St. Peter as his patron saint while Kristina opted for the 20th century Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska. Both observed how the names reflect the influence that their time in Europe has had upon their conversions.
“Coming to Europe and seeing in Italy and especially in Poland that there’s just so much faith in the people and in the young people, that gives you a lot of hope for future generations,” Kristina said.
Jonathan agreed, adding that he has been inspired by living in Rome “and just being surrounded by beauty all the time.”
The Thomas More College Rome program is a semester long course in humanities, theology and Latin as well as the art and architecture of the Eternal City.
Program director Tony Assaf told CNA that students who participate “become a little extended family during these three intense months together.”
However, “this is the first time we’ve been able to celebrate the 'birthday' of a new brother and sister in Christ into our Catholic family during the course of the program,” he said.
The Gregorian chant which filled the 16th century baroque Church during yesterday’s Mass was provided by Jonathan and Kristina’s fellow students. Towards the conclusion of his homily Cardinal Burke gave the two new Catholics some practical advice on how to best live out their new found faith.
“Keep yourself alive in Christ through frequent reception of Holy Communion and through regular confession,” he told them, “throughout the day deepen Christ’s life within you by your prayers and devotions, especially devotion to the most Blessed Sacrament, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Holy Mother of God and the whole company of saints.”
On an intellectual note, he encouraged them to “never cease to study with fervor the truths of our faith especially as they are set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church” and never to “give way to discouragement or grow weary in your daily efforts to live those truths in a good and holy life.”
Santiago, Chile, Mar 30, 2012 (CNA) - Bishops in Chile have condemned the murder of Daniel Zamudio, a gay man who was gruesomely beaten and succumbed to his injuries on March 27 after being in a coma for nearly four weeks.
Chilean bishops' conference leader and Archbishop of Santiago, Ricardo Ezzati, voiced solidarity with Zamudio’s friends and family and called for justice in the case.
“The Chilean society was rightly moved by the death of young Daniel Zamudio, whose condition we monitored with great attention and concern, as we prayed to God for him and his family,” the archbishop said in a March 27 statement.
Zamudio, 24, was found alive but brutally beaten and with swastikas carved into his body on March 3 in a Santiago park. The attack, which lasted over an hour, is believed to have been carried out by a neo-Nazi group, the Associated Press reported. Four suspects, some with an apparent history of attacks on homosexuals, have been arrested.
“Daniel’s passing took place in such painful and reprehensible circumstances, in which the denigration of a human person is translated into intolerance, aggression and violence, a foundation upon which the future of a human community cannot be built,” he continued.
Speaking for the Catholic Church in Chile, Archbishop Ezzati reminded the bishops and the faithful to adhere to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 1986 document on pastoral care for homosexual persons.
The document condemned violence against gay individuals and said the dignity of each person must always be respected in word, deed and legislation.
“We are all sons and daughters of the same Father who loves us. Nobody should be attacked, reviled or excluded because of race, sex, age, status or beliefs,” the archbishop said.
“The attack that caused the death of this young man, like many other expressions of violence against persons, must not leave our society indifferent.”
“We hope that the investigation into this crime will bring out the truth and that justice will be done,” he concluded, reiterating the Church's prayers for Zamudio’s family and friends.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mar 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - World Youth Day Rio 2013 will be preceded by a week of missions throughout Brazil before hundreds of thousands of pilgrims arrive for the global youth event next summer.
Father Jefferson Goncalves, director of pre-World Youth Day activities, said the country's traditional “Days in the Dioceses” will instead be a Missions Week to be held July 17-20 in 2013.
The weeks aims to give young people the chance to participate in spiritual activities, works of solidarity with local communities, as well as missionary and cultural events.
Organizer Raphael Fritz said families will provide hospitality for the young people taking part in the Missions Week to give them a more authentic experience of what life is like locally.
The decision to turn the “Days in the Dioceses” into a missions week was made by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, during his visit to Rio de Janeiro in February.
Fr. Goncalves said he hopes the event will “leave as a legacy to future World Youth Days this experience of leading young people into missionary discipleship.”
This week, some 300 youth ministers from around the world are meeting in the Italian city of Rocca di Papa to discuss plans for World Youth Day Rio 2013, the priest noted.
Rome, Italy, Mar 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Catholic Church in Italy has issued new guidelines that rule out scattering the cremated remains of a person or the keeping them in an urn at home.
“Cremation is considered as concluded when the urn is deposited in the cemetery,” says the appendix to the new edition of Funeral Rites issued by Italian Episcopal Conference.
“The practice of spreading ashes in the wild or keeping them in places other than the cemetery,” it adds, “raises many concerns about its full consistency with the Christian faith, especially when they imply pantheistic or naturalist conceptions.”
The new book of Funeral Rites was published earlier this month and will come into force in parishes across Italy on Nov. 2, All Souls Day.
Official statistics suggest that around 10 percent of Italians who die are cremated. Since 2001 the Italian government has permitted ashes to be kept at homes in urns or to be scattered on land or sea.
In the lead-up to the new Funeral Rites being produced this month, there was some media speculation in Italy that the Church would also accept these practices under certain circumstances.
Traditionally, the Catholic Church permitted cremation only when grave public necessity required the rapid removal of bodies, such as in time of plague or natural disaster.
The concern of the Church was that the rejection of Christian burial could be viewed as a rejection of Christian belief in the resurrection of the body and immortality of the soul. Indeed, the use of cremation was championed from the 18th century Enlightenment onwards by many anti-Catholic movements such as the Freemasons.
The practical application of the Church’s teaching on the issue was modified, however, in a 1963 Holy Office document “Piam et constantem.” It noted that cremation had often been used by people “imbued with the animosity of their secret societies” as a symbol of their “antagonistic denial of Christian dogma, above all of the resurrection of the dead and the immortality of the soul.”
But the document also pointed out that “such an intent clearly was subjective, belonging to the mind of the proponents of cremation, not something objective, inherent in the meaning of cremation itself.”
“Cremation does not affect the soul nor prevent God's omnipotence from restoring the body,” it stated, adding that “neither, then, does it in itself include an objective denial of the dogmas mentioned.”
It concluded that many contemporary advocates of cremation did not do so “out of hatred of the Church or Christian customs” but rather “for reasons of health, economics, or other reasons involving private or public order.”
The 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms this position. “The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.”
The 1983 Code of Canon Law is slightly more expansive and states that “the Church earnestly recommends the pious custom of burial be retained; but it does not forbid cremation, unless this is chosen for reasons which are contrary to Christian teaching.”
New York City, N.Y., Mar 30, 2012 (CNA) - Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York says that although opponents of the federal contraception mandate face a difficult struggle, religious groups can achieve victory through persistence.
“We have to be very vigorous in insisting that this is not about contraception. It’s about religious freedom,” said the cardinal, who is president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.
He said the debate is a “tough battle” because proponents of the coverage mandate have chosen an issue they know the Catholic Church is “not very popular on.”
The cardinal made his remarks in an interview with television talk show host Bill O’Reilly, which was excerpted on the Fox News show The O’Reilly Factor on March 28 and broadcast on the March 29 edition of “Conversations with Cardinal Dolan” on SiriusXM’s Catholic Channel.
His comments focused on the Health and Human Services mandate, announced on Jan. 20, that requires almost all employers to provide insurance coverage for sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs. The Obama administration has billed the mandate as an increase in “preventive care” for women’s health.
The mandate has caused problems of conscience for Catholics and others who have moral and religious objections to providing the required coverage.
Cardinal Dolan said that the bishops will “vigorously” continue their advocacy against the HHS mandate and will continue the “very effective interreligious and ecumenical coalition that we’ve got fighting this.”
“This is not just a Catholic issue. It is certainly not just a bishop’s issue,” the cardinal told O’Reilly.
“We’re not giving up on the administration,” he added, while acknowledging some pessimism about that path’s prospects for success.
Legislative resolutions are also possible, he noted. The U.S. Senate’s failed Blunt Amendment, which provided religious freedom guarantees, received “a lot more support than people ever thought it would,” according to the cardinal. Another proposal in the U.S. House, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, could also remedy the problem.
A judicial resolution “might be the most promising road to take” in light of the Supreme Court decision Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, which criticized the federal government for trying to define a church’s religious ministry.
Cardinal Dolan remarked upon the “remarkable unanimity” among Catholics against the Jan. 20 announcement that the mandate would be final. A Feb. 10 reputed compromise announced by the Obama administration appeared to weaken this unity.
“That's been fractured a bit since February 10 because there some who say ‘okay now the administration has seen our point and we can back off.’ We bishops don't think we can. But I’m wondering if this is the issue that will bring us together.”
The cardinal told O’Reilly that the Catholic Church wants Catholics to be “a player in American politics,” though the bishops generally avoid telling Catholics whom to vote for.
He also criticized what he saw as a double standard in the treatment of the Catholic Church compared to other churches active in political life.
“Every week I open up the newspaper and I see political candidates speaking at a Baptist church. It doesn’t bother me.
“It bothers me that if they spoke at a Catholic church, you’d have editorials in hundreds of newspapers across the United States speaking about the violation of church and state.”
“Catholics in the United States have been rather shy about any public witness to their faith in the marketplace because of what? The innate ingrained anti-Catholicism that is part of the Puritan culture of the United States.”
The cardinal observed a worrisome trend among secular-minded people in media, entertainment and government to “duct tape” the churches and the role of religion in American life.
If this succeeds, he predicted a “huge void” in society that would be filled by “a new religion called secularism … which would be as doctrinaire and would consider itself as infallible as they caricature the other religions doing.”
Vatican City, Mar 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Today the United Kingdom marked 30 years of full diplomatic relations with the Holy See with a one-day conference in Rome.
During his introductory remarks on March 30, U.K. Ambassador Nigel Baker called 1982 “a red-letter year in the relationship between Britain and the Holy See.”
The year “saw the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level and the United Kingdom, for the first time, welcomed a reigning Pontiff – Blessed Pope John Paul II – to its shores.”
The day-long event, which was hosted by Rome’s Venerable English College, was titled “Britain and the Holy See: A Celebration of 1982 and the Wider Relationship.” With the assistance of numerous contributors, it attempted to review the events of 30 years ago and assess their historical, diplomatic and ecumenical impact.
“I think that relationships have developed well over those 30 years since that first Papal Visit,” said Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien of St. Andrews & Edinburgh, Britain's most senior Catholic, who chaired the first session.
He felt that for the first time the people of the United Kingdom realized that “as well as being a great religious figure” a Pope could also be “very human.” During his visit several decades ago, Blessed John Paul II conveyed “Christ’s message in an uncompromising way yet in a way that could relate so well to people, especially young people.”
It was on April 1 in 1982 that Sir Mark Heath presented his credentials to Pope John Paul II and thus became the United Kingdom’s first ever ambassador to the Holy See. A month later the Pope arrived for his historic six-day tour of England, Scotland and Wales.
Ambassador Baker felt that the Papal visit of 1982 gave Catholics in the United Kingdom a “sense of belonging” which “perhaps, given the history of the relationship and historical discrimination against Catholics they had found difficult to find for themselves.”
Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow, who in 1982 was the Bishop of Aberdeen, agreed that the visit was “enormously important for the Catholic community in Scotland.”
“They discovered themselves as part of the greater Scottish people and other Scottish people recognized within them a significant community which was being recognized internationally with the Pope coming to greet them,” he said.
For Welsh Bishop Edwin Regan of Wrexham one of the most significant moments came on the last leg of the 1982 visit when Pope John Paul kissed the soil of Wales as he landed in the capital city of Cardiff.
“The Holy See is very well aware that we are not the same as England we have our own history, our own language our own customs,” he said.
“We’re a very small country in the huge scheme of things but I’m heartened by the sense that in the Holy See they do recognize the importance of Wales as a separate nation.”