Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2012 (CNA) -
In her new book, author Dawn Eden helps bring healing to victims of childhood sexual abuse while clearing up common misconceptions surrounding the sainthood of the chastity martyrs.
“It's our duty as members of the faithful to really seek out truth about what the Church teaches and to correct inaccuracies when they arise on this,” Eden told CNA April 12.
Although she found peace within the Catholic Church after her conversion from Judaism, Eden faced “despair” when she first learned about St. Maria Goretti, a 19th century Italian girl who was stabbed to death while fighting off an attempted sexual assault.
Initially, Eden – who suffered childhood sexual abuse herself – thought that the young girl was a saint simply because she died and was successful in preventing sexual assault from occurring.
“For an abuse victim, that's terribly painful because when the story is presented that way it can give the impression that if you have actually been abused then it means God didn't love you enough to let you be a saint.”
But Eden says she eventually found great solace when she realized that the Church “has always taught that virginity resides in the will to remain a virgin.”
“According to St. Augustine's City of God and St. Thomas Aquinas's 'Summa Theologiae' – and this remains official doctrine today – a virgin,” Eden explained, “who was raped is still a virgin in the eyes of the Church. He or she is not a 'secondary virgin,' but a true virgin.”
In the case of St. Maria Goretti, Eden clarifies in her book, “My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints (Ave Maria Press/$16.95),” that Goretti's sainthood comes not from the fact that she “wasn't violated,” but “because she lived a holy life and was always making of herself, body and soul, a gift to God.”
“Because of her recognition that her body was a temple of the Holy Spirit,” Eden said, “she resisted her attacker. But her sanctity came from her will to resist."
After the success of her 2006 book “The Thrill of the Chaste,” which recounts her conversion to Catholicism and a chaste lifestyle, Eden said she encountered many people who struggled with living chastely due to wounds of childhood sexual abuse.
“Many people who have been abused carry around a lot of misplaced guilt that instills a sense of hopelessness in them.”
In order to bring healing to a greater number of people, Eden realized that she needed to share about her abuse and recovery to show Catholics “how their own faith provides the means for healing.”
In revisiting her trauma as a victim of sexual abuse, Eden realized that God never “positively wills evil,” but does allow it to occur “because he knows that it can bring a greater good.”
When it comes to sexual abuse, she said, that “greater good” is that “our own wounds bring us into greater conformity with the wounded Christ.”
Rather than distancing us from Christ, our wounds, “whether they're wounds of abuse or whether they're wounds of sins that we committed when we were at a point of moral responsibility,” bring us into “greater conformity” to Christ.
“I want people to understand, first of all, that they're not responsible for what was done to them at a time when they were young and vulnerable.”
Eden will speak at the book's launch event on April 23 at the Catholic Information Center in Washington D.C. An exclusive excerpt of “My Peace I Give You,” can be found on CNA by clicking here.
Vatican City, Apr 16, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI marked his 85th birthday by reflecting on his final years as he celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in the Vatican’s Pauline Chapel.
“I find myself on the last stretch of my journey in life, and I don’t know what is awaiting me,” said the Pope in his homily.
“I know, however, that the light of God exists, that he is risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness, that God’s goodness is stronger than any evil in this world. And this helps me go forward with confidence.”
Pope Benedict was born and christened Joseph Alois Ratzinger on Holy Saturday, April 16 1927. At today’s Mass, he thanked his parents for giving him the gift of life and baptism on the same day.
“Life becomes a true gift with it if you can make a promise that is stronger than any evil that will threaten us, if it is dipped into a force that ensures that it is good to be a man,” he said. He explained this is why “birth is associated with rebirth” in baptism, the sacrament which makes us members of the “great, new family of God.”
Before the Mass, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, praised the Pope for his generosity in carrying out “this service of love” as the Successor of Peter.
“Holy Father, may the Lord continue to remain at your side, accomplishing the promise announced by God to the just man in Psalm 90: ‘With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation,’” said Cardinal Sodano.
After the Mass, Pope Benedict retired to the Vatican’s Clementine Hall where he was met by a delegation of bishops and civic leaders from his Bavarian homeland in southern Germany.
They provided him with a birthday display of local culture, including a group of children who performed traditional Bavarian dances, clothed in the region’s traditional garb. The youthful troupe then recited a birthday poem in German before presenting the Pope with flowers and a traditional Bavarian maypole or “Maibaum,” which was covered in ribbons.
Bavaria’s state premier, Horst Seehofer, also presented the Pope with a crucifix carved by the 18th-century Bavarian sculptor, Ignaz Günther.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich gave Pope Benedict a basket of traditional foodstuffs, including ham, cakes and dark bread, thought to be the Pope’s favorite.
The pontiff was also serenaded by traditional Bavarian musicians who performed a song that he and his two siblings, Georg and Maria, sang as children while their father, Joseph, played the zither. The Pope’s older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, was present for today’s festivities.
“This is the sound of my childhood,” said a smiling Pope Benedict to his 150 or so guests. The gathering concluded with a communal rendition of the Bavarian anthem.
Rome, Italy, Apr 16, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The secretary for the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Monsignor Giampetro dal Toso, says Pope Benedict and Syrian Church are helping sustain locals amid continuing violence in the country.
In an interview with CNA on April 13 in Rome, Msgr. Dal Toso explained that when the Pope sent a donation of $100,000 to help Catholics in Syria, he did so “because of the great concern he has” for this issue.
On his recent visit to Syria at the end of March to deliver the Pope’s aid and meet with local bishops, Msgr. Dal Toso said that the council was able to demonstrate “the Pope’s concern for the people of Syria who are suffering from this complex political situation.”
Although his trip to the volatile country was brief, the secretary underscored that it “was very important for the local Church to receive this concrete sign of the Holy Father's concern.”
Msgr. Dal Toso voiced hope that the conflict in Syria would not take on a religious tone, and he encouraged the faithful to continue contributing to Caritas Syria and Caritas Lebanon to help those who are suffering.
Caritas Lebanon is currently providing food and medicine for more than 20,000 Syrian refugees.
Msgr. Dal Toso called on Catholics around the world to “pray for their brethren in Syria, regardless of religion, because both Christians and Muslims are suffering there. It is important that we show them we are spiritually close.”
“I think we all need to join forces especially at this time, so that a path towards peace and reconciliation in Syria can be found,” he said.
Washington D.C., Apr 16, 2012 (CNA) -
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, will serve as guest speaker at the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast April 19.
The breakfast, which began in 2004 in response to the late Pope John Paul II's call to evangelize formerly Christian societies, will focus on the theme of “Religious Liberty: Threatened at Home and Abroad.”
“Seldom has religious liberty been threatened in so many places in the world,” Anderson said in an April 16 statement, “and never before in this country's history have people of faith faced such widespread threats to their religious freedom as they face today here in the United States.”
The event comes amid intense controversy surrounding the Obama administration's recently announced HHS contraception mandate which would force employers to pay for insurance to cover abortifacients, sterilization and birth control for employees, regardless of religious beliefs.
The Knights of Columbus have been vocal in their support of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' defense of religious freedom as defined in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
“For Catholics, and all people of faith, this is a critical moment,” Anderson said
Along with heading up the world's largest Catholic organization, Anderson holds several appointments to Vatican and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committees, has served as acting director of the White House Office of Public Liaison and has worked for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for a decade. He is the author of a New York Times bestseller, “A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World.”
Archbishop Francis Chullikat, the Vatican's Apostolic Nuncio to the United Nations, will deliver the keynote address.
Boston, Mass., Apr 16, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Harvard professor's claim that Vatican leadership intentionally helped Nazi war criminals escape to South America after World War II relies on erroneous sources and misinterprets events, argues Catholic author Ronald J. Rychlak.
“The combination of sloppy work and over-the-top charges provides a textbook example of how a verifiably false account can be reported as fact in the mainstream media,” Rychlak said in the April 2012 issue of the Catholic League’s newsletter The Catalyst.
Rychlak, the associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Mississippi, has authored two books on Pope Pius XII’s actions during World War II. He critiqued Harvard Divinity School professor Kevin Madigan’s essay “How the Catholic Church Sheltered War Criminals,” published in the December 2011 issue of the neoconservative magazine Commentary.
Madigan contended that the Pontifical Aid Commission supplied “crucial aid in sheltering Nazi war criminals.” The commission, he claimed, viewed itself as “a sort of papal mercy program for National Socialists and Fascists.”
Madigan's essay indicated that this support took place with the whole-hearted support of Pius XII.
But Rychlak countered that the commission helped “hundreds of thousands of legitimate refugees” and that some Nazi war criminals took advantage of this.
“Madigan would have us believe that the Church knowingly sent Nazi officials to safety,” he said. “It is, however, inconceivable that the Nazis revealed their background to reputable Church officials. It is even less likely that any such information would have reached the Vatican. The logistics of the massive relocation programs simply made it impossible to investigate most individuals who sought help.”
Part of the controversy centers on Bishop Alois Hudal, a Nazi-sympathizing rector of the German-speaking seminary college of Santa Maria dell’Anima in Rome.
“It has long been known that Hudal and a Croatian priest named Krunoslav Draganovi? helped some former Nazis escape from Europe. Madigan, however, says that they were part of ‘a sort of papal mercy program for National Socialists and Fascists’,” Rychlak said. “That is far from the truth.”
Bishop Hudal was not on friendly terms with the Vatican leadership, Rychlak explained.
The bishop’s memoir said that the assistance he gave to fleeing Nazis was done without the Pope’s knowledge. He authored a book “critical of the hard line that Vatican diplomats took with the Germans,” Rychlak reported.
In 1949, the bishop asked the Vatican to defend him from press attacks. Then-Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, a top advisor to Pius XII who would be elected Pope Paul VI, replied “there is no defense for a Nazi bishop.”
Pope Pius XII refused to meet with a group of Austrian pilgrims organized by the bishop if the bishop accompanied them.
Rychlak also questioned the reliability of Madigan’s sources.
Madigan’s Commentary essay drew on Gerald Steinacher’s book “Nazis on the Run: How Hitler’s Henchmen Fled Justice” and David Cymet’s book “History vs. Apologetics: The Holocaust, the Third Reich, and the Catholic Church.”
According to Rychlak, Madigan “confounded” Steinacher’s points and wrongly said that he wrote that Pope Pius XII favored an “extensive amnesty” for war criminals.
“That is not what Steinacher wrote, and nothing could be further from the truth,” Rychlak said.
He cited Pius XII’s repeated public stands in favor of punishing war criminals and his provision of evidence for use against Nazi defendants. The Pope assigned a Jesuit to assist prosecutors of accused war criminals.
Steinacher in fact attributed the advocacy amnesty to a German bishop working in Rome, but this interpretation is a misreading, Rychlak said.
He focused on Steinacher’s examination of two letters between Bishop Alois Hudal, rector of the German-speaking seminary college in Rome, and then-Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.
Bishop Hudal’s May 5, 1949 letter to Msgr. Montini sought amnesty for German soldiers. Steinacher’s book, which incorrectly dates the letter, erroneously reported that the bishop sought pardon for war criminals, Rychlak said.
“Actually, Hudal expressed sympathy for political prisoners who had already spent four years in prison, but he never mentioned nationalities, war criminals, or soldiers,” Rychlak wrote.
Besides these problems in Madigan’s essay, Rychlak objected to its claims regarding the treatment of Jewish children entrusted to Catholic institutions for their safety during the war. Some of the children were taught Christianity and baptized.
It is “nonsense” to say that the Pope refused to let any baptized Jewish child be returned to his or her parents, Rychlak said. He characterized this as a “false charge” based on Cymet’s book, which draws on an incorrect summary of a 1946 document on the topic.
“Madigan should have done his homework before spreading these malicious charges,” Rychlak said.