Archive of April 4, 2012

Pope names Archbishop Coleridge to lead Brisbane Catholics

Brisbane, Australia, Apr 4, 2012 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has named Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra-Goulburn as the new Archbishop of Brisbane.

“At a time in life when many are looking to retire, I have been called to take up the greatest challenge of my life,” Archbishop Coleridge said April 2. “With few illusions about myself or the task that awaits me in Queensland, but with trust in the Lord who sends me, I pack my bags and head north once again.”

The archbishop said he is “heartened” by the choice and “grateful” to the Pope for the trust he has placed in him.

Archbishop Coleridge, 63, is a theologian and teacher with expertise in Sacred Scripture and the Catholic liturgy. He served as chairman of the international committee responsible for the new English translation of the Roman Missal. He also chairs the committee preparing the forthcoming new lectionary of scripture readings for the Mass, the Archdiocese of Brisbane reports.

Before his 2002 appointment as auxiliary bishop of Melbourne, he was an official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and served as a papal chaplain.

The archbishop was born and educated in the southeast Australian state of Victoria. He was ordained a priest in Melbourne in 1974.

The Archdiocese of Brisbane has about 640,000 Catholics in a population of 2.8 million, its census data show. Its area covers 29,700 square miles.

Archbishop Coleridge’s installation Mass as Archbishop of Brisbane will be held May 11 at St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

The archbishop said he was “deeply grateful” for his six years as Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn.

“Until recently, I never imagined that I would be appointed Archbishop of Brisbane, following in the footsteps of some remarkable men,” he said. “I will do my best, but that will not be enough. Yet the Lord equips those whom he sends in ways they could never equip themselves.” 

He said he puts his life in God’s hands and at the service of the Church in Brisbane.

“It is harder to do what a bishop must do at a complex time like this in the Church when the future must be made, not just awaited,” he said. I commit all my energies and gifts to that apostolic task in Brisbane, looking more than ever to the Lord of Easter, Jesus Christ crucified and risen.”

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US Justice Department drops case against sidewalk counselor

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. Department of Justice dropped its case against a pro-life sidewalk counselor and agreed to pay $120,000 for the lawsuit after a federal judge ruled that the case should never have been brought to court.

“I think this sends a strong message that pro-lifers will not be intimidated into silence,” said Mathew Staver, founder the nonprofit group Liberty Counsel, which represented sidewalk counselor Mary Susan Pine.

Staver told CNA on April 3 that from the very beginning, the case against Pine was weak.

Department officials claimed that she had violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances law by preventing a car from accessing the Presidential Women's Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. on one occasion in Nov. 2009.

The department sought thousands of dollars in fines and a permanent injunction to prohibit Pine from counseling women outside the clinic.

Staver explained that the allegations centered around Pine walking up to an approaching car, whose passengers stopped, rolled down the window, accepted literature from her and proceeded on their way to the abortion clinic.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. asserted that “various persons are being, have been, and will continue to be injured” by Pine’s conduct.

Federal Judge Kenneth L. Ryskamp disagreed, throwing out the case in December with a statement that the Department of Justice had failed to present evidence of wrongdoing.

“The Court is at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place,” he wrote.

Judge Ryskamp explained that the court was left to wonder “whether this action was the product of a concerted effort” between the government and the abortion clinic, “which began well before the date of the incident at issue.”

He also questioned whether the case had been brought by the Department of Justice in order “to quell Ms. Pine’s activities rather than to vindicate the rights of those allegedly aggrieved by Ms. Pine’s conduct.”

Staver said that it was the first time he had ever seen a federal court chastise the Department of Justice.

Nonetheless, the department appealed the decision and indicated that President Obama had ordered it to do so. 

Staver explained that he was surprised when the department decided to appeal, but was not surprised by the April 2 announcement that the case would be dropped.

“On appeal, they knew they weren’t going to have a strong argument,” he said. “They didn’t have any basis at all.”

In a statement, Staver called the case an “irresponsible” attempt by the Department of Justice to “place politics above principle.”

“When the nation’s highest law enforcement officer files suit against any citizen, the suit must be based on the law coupled with compelling evidence,” he said. “Anything less is an abuse of the high office.”

Staver welcomed the April 2 announcement as an affirmation that Pine will be able to continue “her mission to save the lives of innocent children.”

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'Occupy' movement damages San Francisco Church’s property

San Francisco, Calif., Apr 4, 2012 (CNA) -

San Francisco's archdiocese is assessing damage to a Church-owned building intended to be a revenue stream for scholarships, following its takeover by “Occupy” activists who were arrested April 2.

“The building that they were in has a great deal of damage,” archdiocesan spokesman George Wesolek told CNA on April 3.

He described damage to the walls of the property belonging to the Sacred Heart Cathedral School – as well as “particularly offensive graffiti” left on the building's facade, reading “(expletive) the police pigs!”

“The police also found, on the roof of the building, a lot of piles of bricks that they had brought up there, and also cans of paint,” Wesolek said. “It looked very much like they were going to resist any police activity by throwing those objects.”

Police removed the “occupiers” Monday afternoon, arresting around 75 people.

“There was no violence, thank God,” Wesolek said. “There was a lot of shouting, but other than that, nothing else.”

On April 1, the activists took over the Church property, located near the archdiocesan headquarters, stating their intention to turn it into a homeless shelter. A self-identified Occupy spokeswoman said there was “no reason why any building should be vacant when people have no housing.”

But as Wesolek explained, this seemingly vacant building – previously used for high school classes – was intended to be leased to tenants, as a means for the archdiocese to raise money for scholarships given to low-income children.

“The Occupy activists were under the impression – or at least that's what they were saying publicly, in their news conferences – that these were vacant buildings, implying that they were abandoned buildings, and therefore they were going to take them over in the name of the community.”

“Well, that's not the case at all,” the archdiocesan spokesman explained. “These are buildings bought by the archdiocese for the use of the cathedral high school, which they're very near. They were used up until about a year ago, for classes.”

“The next thing that we had proposed to use them for was to lease them out to appropriate folks, and then have a revenue stream – which would help the school and the educational ministry there, but also help the many students who need tuition assistance.”

“About 35 to 40 percent of students at that particular school need tuition assistance, because they come from low-income families,” Wesolek said, explaining the need for the revenue that would have been provided by leasing the building.

Now, a portion of that money is likely to go toward repairing the damage left by Occupy San Francisco, so that the buildings can be restored to a usable condition.

The buildings, Wesolek said, “weren't abandoned. They weren't neglected. They were there for the things that we do, as the Catholic Church, in our mission … for the poor, and the homeless, and the marginalized.”

“So it's very odd that Occupy San Francisco would take over this building and demand that they use it for some sort of homeless shelter – as if it wasn't being used already for something good, and something for people who really need it.”

Largely dormant following protests in late 2011, the loosely-organized “Occupy Wall Street” movement remains sporadically active in the U.S. and abroad. Its activists have called for checks on corporate power and a more equitable distribution of wealth.

Wesolek suggested that the San Francisco group's decision to seize and damage Church property – which could ultimately end up diverting money from its social services – showed a “disoriented” movement lacking a clear purpose.

“The Occupy movement, I think, is running out of steam – especially when they start attacking and using people like us and other folks who actually have a mission to the poor. It's at cross-purposes with what they sometimes say is their mission.”

“The Catholic Church, through its parishes and its institutions, provide about one third of the social services in the city of San Francisco, to the poor, the vulnerable, and the homeless,” Wesolek noted.

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Bishops say new mandate proposals fail to solve problems

Washington D.C., Apr 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops said that the government’s latest recommendations on its federal contraception mandate fail to address religious freedom concerns.

In a March 29 memo, they said the mandate “still forces us to act against our conscience and teaching,” and that the only real solution is to allow individuals and institutions to offer insurance plans that align with their moral convictions. 

No matter what mechanisms are chosen to fund and administrate the mandate, religious individuals and institutions will be prohibited from providing health coverage that is “consistent with their values,” the bishops explained.

In the memo, the bishops commented on the latest development in an ongoing controversy surrounding a federal mandate that will require employers to provide health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their conscience.

The mandate, announced on Jan. 20, has come under fire from numerous groups and individuals for infringing upon the religious freedom of those who object to such coverage.

A new advance notice of proposed rulemaking published by the Obama administration on March 21 outlines various recommendations for different ways to implement the mandate as it will apply to religious organizations that oppose the required coverage.

The administration has requested public comment on the proposals until June 19.

The bishops acknowledged that the “tentative and complex” proposals are very detailed and “demand further study.”

However, they said that their initial analysis suggests that they “are still faced with the same fundamental issues” identified in their previous statement, “United for Religious Freedom.”

The proposals offered by the administration highlight several possible approaches to having a “third-party administrator” assume responsibility for the controversial coverage.

The suggestions included the use of funds from drug rebates, credit from a reinsurance program, aid from non-profit organizations and government contracts with insurers offering a multi-state plan.

However, the bishops cautioned that these proposals do nothing to change the administration’s narrow “test for deciding which organizations are ‘religious enough’ to warrant an exemption from the mandate.”

Instead, the new recommendations deal with religious organizations that do not qualify for the exemption and are therefore subject to the mandate.

The bishops reaffirmed their stance that “the government has no place defining religion and religious ministry” and that the current attempt to do so is unconstitutional.
“So no matter what new rules may be proposed to apply this distinction, it remains radically flawed,” they said.

Rather than merely granting limited religious freedom under certain circumstances, the federal government must respect the fullness of religious liberty for both individuals and institutions, they insisted. 

The bishops warned that the mandate “now poses a threat to the rights not only of religious employers but of parents as well.”

They noted that while the administration has claimed to promote women’s choice, the new recommendations leave women with no choice over whether their minor children will be offered “free” and “private” contraception and related “education and counseling.”

The suggested provisions even allow for the possibility of groups such as Planned Parenthood to take on the task of intervening into family life, regardless of whether the parents consent to them doing so.

The bishops observed that some of the more detailed proposals laid out by the administration “seem intended to lessen the degree of ‘cooperation in evil’ required of non-exempt religious organizations.”

However, they explained, “they do so by depriving these organizations of the ability to determine their employee and student benefits in accordance with their faith and moral teaching.”

By delegating the responsibilities associated with the coverage to other parties, they said, the government could be introducing parties that “are hostile to religious principles and the rights of parents.”

As a general principle, they added, “protecting a religious organization from being forced to act in conflict with its teaching by depriving it of the ability to act at all is no way to serve religious freedom.”

The bishops explained that they will be working to provide more detailed comments on the recommendations and are willing to continue meeting with the Obama administration to discuss them as well. 

However, they added, the Church will also work with other religious groups to “seek relief from the legislature and redress in the courts.”

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Philadelphia man raises funds for struggling Catholic schools

Philadelphia, Pa., Apr 4, 2012 (CNA) - Catholic education is of utmost importance to Al Gabriele, a retired businessman and entrepreneur, whose career most recently was in the printing field. A member of St. Rose of Lima Parish in North Wales, Pa.  he recently finished chairing a highly successful $25 million capital campaign for La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, Pa..

It took five years instead of the planned four because of the soft economy, but in the end, the campaign came in over goal at $25,051,000 with most of it already in the bank.

Now he’s been appointed to the advisory board of the recently formed Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office for Stewardship and Development.

Originally from New Jersey, he came to Philadelphia after attending his parish Catholic school and his graduation from the former Trenton Catholic High School on a scholarship to then – St. Joseph’s College.

He wanted to be an engineer, but that was not offered at St. Joseph’s at the time so he majored in accounting, and it has worked out very well for him.

His life underwent a major crisis 46 years ago when he was in his early 30s and was stricken with a near fatal cancer of the inner ear.

“I almost didn’t make it; my faith helped me survive and it helped my wife (Barbara) to become a convert,” he said. “My faith is my hope.”

He and Barbara, whom he met at his place of employment, raised three children, John, Jim and Gina, and they now have nine grandchildren, thanks to their sons. John and Jim attended La Salle College High School, and that’s how Gabriele initially became involved. “They got a great education there,” he said.

“There is a tremendous attitude of secularization in this country,” Gabriele added, “and Catholic education is critical. We have to give something back to invest in the future. This isn’t like giving a donation to policemen or firemen.

“We are investing in kids who will be the leaders in the future and will have the moral fiber to resist this secularization. They won’t learn that in college or in an office; they have to learn it when they are younger.”

It’s not just private Catholic schools like La Salle that should have a role in this; the parochial schools and diocesan high schools are just as important, he believes.

And part of this, he added, is their role in the inner city, where they attract a number of non-Catholic students who may not have a good home support system.

“If we can pick kids off the street and give them a real education, it’s worth it,” he said, “and the diocese is trying to do that.”

The recent round of school mergers highlights the financial problems that schools have been facing, he believes.

His own parish school at St. Rose of Lima in North Wales, Pa. is set to merge with St. Stanislaus School in Lansdale, Pa. “Our pastor, Msgr. (Daniel) Murray, wrote a beautiful letter explaining how an operating deficit of $400,000 was unsustainable,” he said. “The diocese is trying to consolidate schools to make them sustainable.”

The real solution down the road, Gabriele added, is doing what was successfully done at La Salle — fundraising to ensure an endowment of the future.

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish in Philadelphia and a freelance writer.

Posted with permission from The Catholic Standard and Times, official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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Pope calls ‘unforgettable days’ in Mexico, Cuba a success

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has thanked the Mexican and Cuban people for providing him with six “unforgettable days of joy and hope that will remain etched in my heart.”

“Their inexhaustible joy, expressed with loud songs and music, as well as their eyes and their gestures, expressed the strong desire of all the children of Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean to live in peace, serenity and harmony, in a more just and reconciled society,” said Pope Benedict during his April 4 general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

In keeping with his usual custom, the Pope devoted the majority of his first general audience after he traveled to Mexico and Cuba to assessing the visit.

He told the more than 11,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square that memories of the March 23- 28 journey “aroused emotions that are still very much alive,” such that his soul “instinctively gives thanks to the Lord” who “in his providence … wanted me to go for the first time as the Successor of Peter to these two countries.”

“With it I wanted to embrace the entire continent, inviting everyone to live together in hope and in a concrete commitment to walk together toward a better future,” he said.

Pope Benedict first recalled his arrival in the Mexican city of León, where a “large cheering crowd gave me an extraordinary, jubilant and lively welcome, as a sign of the warm embrace of an entire population.”

During his visit to Mexico, the Pope expressed deep concern at the levels of drug-related crime and violence that are afflicting the country. He also saw signs of hope, however, in those “endless lines of people along the streets” that enthusiastically followed him.
“In those hands that reached out in a sign of greeting and affection, in those happy faces, in the shouts of joy, I caught the tenacious hope of Mexican Christians,” he said.

And it is a “hope still burning in their hearts despite the difficult times of violence, which I did not fail to deplore, with my heartfelt thoughts for the victims, some of whom I was able to personally comfort.”
He explained how his message to the 600,000 people who attended Sunday Mass in León’s Bicentennial Park was that “the energy to serve Christ in difficult situations and suffering” is born out of the “joy of being Christian and the joy of belonging to the Church.”
“I urged everyone to trust in the goodness of Almighty God which can change dark and unbearable situations from within, from the heart,” he recalled.

“The Mexicans responded with their ardent faith, with their convinced adherence to the Gospel, I recognized once again consoling signs of hope for the continent.”

The next day Pope Benedict arrived in Cuba’s second largest city, Santiago de Cuba. His primary aim in visiting the Caribbean island, he explained, was to “to support the mission of the Catholic Church, committed to proclaiming the Gospel with joy.”

At the same time, the Pope did not avoid noting that there is a “poverty of resources” and that there are difficulties “still to be overcome so that religion can carry out its spiritual service and its part in formation in the public square of society.”
Before arriving on the island nation, the Pope had suggested that communist Cuba was at a crossroads, stating that “it is evident today that Marxist ideology as it had been conceived no longer responds to reality.”

Today in Rome he reaffirmed this and called upon Cuba’s Catholics to give “new vigor to their faith and to assist with the courage of forgiveness and understanding, in building an open and renewed society” that has “more room for God.” When God is removed, he warned, “the world becomes an inhospitable place for humans.”
Cuba and the world needed to change, he said, but that will only happen “if everyone is open to the integral truth about man, which is essential for achieving freedom, and if everyone decides to sow the seeds of reconciliation and brotherhood around them.”

This will also require Cuba to build its civic life upon Jesus Christ, who “alone can dispel the darkness of error, helping to defeat the evil and all that oppresses us.”
The Pope told pilgrims that he appreciated recent steps taken by the Cuban authorities towards greater religious freedom but he also “stressed the need to continue on this path” in coming years.

“The Church does not demand privileges,” he said, “but also needs to be able to proclaim and celebrate the faith publicly, bringing the Gospel message of hope and peace to every area of society.”
Pope Benedict summarized the success of his trip by saying, this “trip to Mexico and Cuba, thank God, has had the desired pastoral success.”

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Pontifical university claims conformity with Vatican directive

Lima, Peru, Apr 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pontifical Catholic University of Peru announced on its website that it has taken steps to comply with a Vatican directive to reform its statutes to the teachings of the Church.

Although Church officials have neither confirmed nor denied that an agreement has been reached, Cardinal Juan Luis Cirpriani of Lima said on March 31 that good will exists “on both sides” and that he is praying that the situation will be resolved “for the good of the university and the Church.”

The university issued a statement on April 3 saying that the supposed agreement would end litigation between the university and the Archdiocese of Lima involving the wishes of Jose de la Riva Aguero, a Catholic patron who donated the land where the university was built.

Aguero had stipulated in his will that the land would belong to the university as long as a representative of the Church was allowed a seat on its board of directors.

As one of several moves that has caused concern among Vatican officials, the university had defied a ruling by the Peruvian civil courts to give the Archdiocese of Lima a seat on its board of directors.

An investigation of the university was carried out Dec. 5 -11, 2011 by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest, who found the Lima-based institution to be at odds with the Catholic Church in several significant areas of policy.

University officials have been refusing to comply with the Church’s guidelines for Catholic universities, which were laid out the papal document “Ex Corde Ecclesiae.” The apostolic constitution was promulgated in 1990 by Pope John Paul II to clarify what is expected of an authentically Catholic university.

The Vatican has given the school until Easter 2012 to comply with the Church’s requirements for Catholic colleges, marking the first time the Holy See has set a deadline for a university to reform.

The school's officials said in their April 3 statement that the agreement was presented to various university departments and that a meeting would be held to discuss it on April 13.

Although they asked the Vatican on March 29 for more time, the statement does not indicate whether or not the officials' request for an extension of the April 8 deadline had been accepted or not.

If the Vatican's deadline remains in place and the university has been found to have not brought its statutes into line with Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the institution will be stripped of its “Catholic” and “Pontifical” titles as of  midnight on April 9.

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Oscar Biscet says religious freedom does not exist in Cuba

Havana, Cuba, Apr 4, 2012 (CNA) - Cuban doctor and former political prisoner Oscar Elias Biscet noted that while Pope Benedict's recent visit to the country was a success, religious freedom among the island's people remains stifled.

In an interview with Peruvian newspaper El Comercio, Biscet said the Pope's March 25-28 trip to Cuba was immensely beneficial “from a spiritual and religious point of view.”

But he argued that the Communist regime in Cuba manipulates circumstances in their favor and will most likely “ensure this visit benefited them more than those who are suffering.”

Biscet, who was imprisoned for more than a decade over his opposition to abortion, said that although government has shown a slight amount of “permissiveness” in recent years for Catholics who wish to practice their faith, “you still have to be careful about what you say in church.”

Ultimately, “there is no religious freedom because it is forbidden to preach in public,” he said.

Biscet recalled Blessed John Paul II's visit to the country in 1998, saying that the “government took advantage of it and did not follow through on its word to the Pope.” 

“During these fourteen years, the world has opened up to the Cuban government, but this government has not opened up to the world or to its people.”

The Cuban doctor also criticized the Raul Castro government for misinforming the people by claiming there are similarities between Marxism and Christianity, when they are both “polar opposites.” 

Communism, he said, “is hatred for religion, for God and for God’s creation. The foundation of Communism is atheism.”

“They claim to be defending the poor and that is totally false,” Biscet continued. “One of the pillars of Communism is taking away the freedom of citizens.”

“If you take human rights and basic freedoms away from citizens, you transgress God, because God is freedom,” he said. “God is total justice, he is love in all it magnitude. Christianity and Communism have nothing in common.”

Biscet was arrested in 1999 for denouncing abortions in Cuba. The practice is legal there in cases of fetal deformation, rape or life of the mother, “but they violate this law and abortion is seen as a contraceptive,” he said.

“I conducted a study on one type of abortion that is performed after the 16th week and in 9 percent of the cases, the babies were born alive and they were killed. I recorded the testimonies of the mothers, I brought them to the government and Fidel Castro became furious. 

One month later he ordered I be put in prison and even claimed I was mentally ill,” Biscet recalled. In 2011 he was finally freed due to the mediation of local Church leaders.

Biscet said that although political change in Cuba is very difficult, advancement for the country is still possible after decades of Communist rule.

“For 53 years fear has been instilled in the people and they have not expressed themselves, but when there is a double mindset: one real and one based on fear, it’s only one more step to freedom and to acquire one’s true personality, because when you know the truth, the truth will set you free.  When you know the truth, you change,” Biscet said.

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Let Easter Triduum transform you, Pope tells faithful

Vatican City, Apr 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

In the final few days of Holy Week, Catholics should recognize that Christ’s love for them is shown by “the total gift of himself on the cross,” said Pope Benedict XVI. 

“Let us allow ourselves to be touched by this love, to be transformed, so that the resurrection may really be realized in us. I invite you, therefore, to live the Paschal Triduum intensely, and I wish you all a Holy Easter!” the Pope said on April 4.

The Pope made his remarks to over 11,000 pilgrims who were gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience. He explained to them that from tomorrow afternoon onwards, “we enter the Easter Triduum, the summit of the liturgical year” that celebrates “the central mystery of faith: the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.”
Exploring the scriptural texts that will be used over those three days, the Pope explained how St. John’s Gospel describes those days in the life of Jesus as his “hour.”

“Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end,” Pope Benedict said, quoting the passage from St. John 13:1 in full.

“The whole life of Jesus is oriented towards this hour,” he noted, proposing that the whole historical episode is “characterized by two aspects that illuminate each other.”

The Pope described the first aspect is Christ’s hour being a “passage” -- “metabasis” in ancient Greek – while the second feature of his hour is Jesus’ “love until the end,” which is called “agape” in Greek.
“It is the divine love, the Holy Spirit of which Jesus is filled, which allows Jesus to ‘pass’ through the abyss of evil and death, and sees him emerge into the new ‘space’ of the resurrection,” he said.
And his hour is marked by “agape,” which “brings about this transformation” that allows Jesus to go “beyond the limits of the human condition marked by sin and overcomes the barrier that keeps man prisoner, separated from God and eternal life.”
Pope Benedict finished his reflections on the Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) by saying that those who participate in faith in the liturgical celebrations “are invited to experience this transformation brought about by agape.”
The next four days will be among the busiest of the year for 84-year-old Pope Benedict.

Tomorrow morning he will celebrate the Chrism Mass with the priests of the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 a.m. He will then travel across the city for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at his cathedral church, the basilica of St. John Lateran, at 5:30 p.m.

On Good Friday, the Pope will lead the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s at 5:00 p.m., followed by the Stations of the Cross in Rome’s Coliseum at 9:15 p.m.

On Holy Saturday evening, the Pope will preside over the Easter Vigil, beginning at 9:00 p.m. in St. Peter’s.

The Pope’s intense schedule will wrap up with 10:15 a.m. Mass on Easter Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, followed by his “Urbi et Orbi" message and blessing to the “city and world” at noon.

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Hahn Family spends its first Holy Week in Rome

Rome, Italy, Apr 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Scott and Kimberly Hahn have been Catholic for over two decades, but this is the first Holy Week they have ever spent in Rome.

“This experience has been for us overwhelming, and yet the best is yet to come – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil. I mean, we’re just standing on tip-toes feeling like kids in a candy store. Like how good can it get?” Scott said to CNA on April 3.

The Hahns are in Rome this week with their three youngest sons, 20-year-old Jeremiah, 17-year-old Joseph and 12-year-old David. This morning they attended Pope Benedict XVI’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

“It is always amazing to be here in Rome; to hear all of the languages and see all of the peoples that the Gospel has gone to and realize that this is not an American thing, it’s not even a European thing,” Kimberly said. “God has been at work over the centuries calling all kinds of people to him.”
Kimberly noted she is always particularly moved “to hear old Italian men and young German children all singing to the Holy Father with the same sort of love I have for him.”

Since being received into the Church in 1986, Dr. Scott Hahn has become one of the most popular Catholic speakers and teachers worldwide. His wife Kimberly became a Catholic four years later. The Hahns later recounted their conversions in the co-authored international best-seller “Rome Sweet Home.” The couple has been married for 33 years and has six children and, very soon, six grandchildren.

The Hahns first visited Rome 20 years ago and had the chance to meet Pope John Paul II.

But the visit occurred at a hard time for the family as it came only one month after the death of Scott’s father.

“To be able to share from my heart the sorrow that I felt for my natural father but to look into the eyes of my spiritual father,” said Scott in reference to Pope John Paul, “and to hear him say ‘I’m sorry, I will pray for him’” was a bittersweet experience.

The encounter made Scott realize that as a Catholic he now enjoyed “the spiritual fatherhood of God through Christ to Peter and to all of his successors down through the ages which unites us worldwide as this Catholic, as this international, universal family of God.”
This is why, he explained, “Rome sweet home is not just the title of a book but the description of my own life experience.”

Kimberly said that the family enjoyed the chance to pray at the tomb of Blessed John Paul in St. Peter’s Basilica and “to be in St. Peters Square where the Holy Father was shot,” which is “a place I love to touch and be close to him there.”

Scott said that other favorite Roman sites for the family include the catacombs where the martyrs of the early Church were buried and “where you find out about how people paid a price a long time ago.” He suggested that “we too may end up having to pay a price” as we “may end up in a post-Christian pagan environment that is as resistant or hostile as theirs.”
Kimberly also loves Rome’s churches since “you just go a short distance and you find another magnificent church” where “even the little side chapels are more beautiful than most American churches.” She hopes that Americans visiting Rome will “catch a vision as to what a Catholic church should look like physically.”
Any opportunity to visit the Pontifical North American College seminary is also “very special” to Kimberly because “these are young men in training who will come back to the States as priests.”

“That experience of the Universal Church has been so powerful,” Kimberly said, summing up their Rome visit so far. “I really can hardly imagine what the Easter Triduum is going to be like, but I’m also really looking forward to that.”

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Irish broadcaster discontinues program that falsely accused priest

Dublin, Ireland, Apr 4, 2012 (CNA) - Irish broadcaster RTE has ended its current affairs series “Prime Time Investigates” after a news report last year falsely claimed a missionary priest raped and impregnated a minor in Kenya.

The move is part of a “full restructuring” to help program makers at all levels accept “their responsibility and role in rebuilding RTE’s reputation for very high quality journalism,” RTE director general Noel Curran said April 3.

“Mistakes will happen in broadcasting and in journalism, no matter what changes are made. Program makers must be and will be supported in making challenging programming but the standards we set for ourselves as the national broadcaster must be very high, as I know they are in so much of what we currently do,” Curran said.

In May 2011, “Prime Time Investigates” broadcast an episode “Mission To Prey” that wrongly accused Fr. Kevin Reynolds of County Galway of raping and impregnating an underage girl in Kenya 30 years ago. It falsely reported that the priest secretly provided financial support for the baby.

Before broadcast, the priest volunteered to undergo a DNA test to prove his innocence, an offer RTE refused.

The priest was removed from his home and from parish ministry, but two separate DNA tests later proved his innocence.

The priest has agreed to accept substantial damages from the broadcaster in an out-of-court libel settlement.

Curran said the “Prime Time Investigates” series “will not return to air.” The broadcaster will create a new current affairs investigation unit to take its place.

The news of the series being canceled was accompanied by the announcement that Ed Mulhall, RTE’s head of news, will retire. Current affairs editor Ken O’Shea has resigned his position and will transfer to another assignment.

There are now five senior posts in television news and current affairs to be filled. All editorial staff will be trained in new journalism guidelines and a new standards board will oversee their work, Curran said.

RTE faces an inquiry from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland over the false report. It could be fined up to $333,000 if it rules the show’s treatment of the priest was not fair, objective and impartial, the Irish newspaper The Independent reports.

In November, Curran called the report “one of the gravest editorial mistakes ever made” in the broadcaster’s five-decade history.

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