Archive of June 6, 2012

Spanish Catholic foundation announces mystical poetry contest

Madrid, Spain, Jun 6, 2012 (CNA) - A Madrid-based Catholic foundation has launched its 32nd annual contest for the Fernando Rielo Worldwide Prize for Mystical Poetry.

The theme of the poems “should express the spiritual values of man in their deepest religious significance,” said contest organizers.

Fernando Rielo, a Spaniard who lived from 1923-2004, was a mystical poet, philosopher, author, and metaphysician. He also founded religious congregation in 1959 known as the Idente Missionaries of Christ the Redeemer.

The rules of the contest, which are posted on the foundation’s website, allow the submission of unpublished poems in Spanish or English, or translated into one of the two languages. The winner of the contest will receive a cash award of seven thousand euros, approximately $8,800, and a special publication of his or her poem.

Submissions must include a cover including the title of the work, the name of the author, his or her address, email and telephone number. The jury may also select a group of submitted poems to be included in a collection published by the foundation.

The deadline for submissions is October 15, 2012. For more information, visit:

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UK ordinariate adapts Anglican prayers for Catholic use

London, England, Jun 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is preparing to publish its daily liturgical prayer book, as part of its mission to incorporate Anglican traditions within the Catholic Church.

Father James Bradley, communications officer for the jurisdiction, told CNA on June 5 that the “Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham,” which contains the order of daily prayer and readings, “shows a deep respect for the Anglican tradition, and gives it space to flourish” in the Catholic Church.

Announced in the ordinariate's “Portal” publication on June 1, the book is due out “in a month or two” according to Monsignor Andrew Burnham, Assistant to the Ordinary.

The new prayer book draws heavily from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for its services of Morning and Evening Prayer. It also contains the traditional litany of intercession, along with the “minor hours” of the daily prayer cycle and the traditional night service of Compline.

In keeping with a decision of the Holy See, the text generally maintains the traditional language of Anglican worship – an older, more poetic English dialect that is widely regarded as both aesthetically rich, and spiritually valuable.

“The use of traditional English vocabulary and sentence structures reminds us that we worship a God who is at once intelligible and a divine mystery,” said Fr. Bradley.

“We lift up our hearts in thanksgiving and adoration by elevating our language – even singing the texts  – to reflect our inward disposition,” he explained. “This is, in language, what kneeling is to posture: a visible expression of our deep reverence for the Lord.”

Notably, the book also includes selections from some Anglican authors in its Office of Readings. Fr. Bradley said the carefully-chosen selections showed how the English tradition could be truly “united but not absorbed,” in its reunion with the Catholic Church.

Changes were, however, made to some of the Anglican prayer texts “in order to ensure the Catholic credentials of the liturgy.”

“Where this has been necessary, the alterations have been slight and respectful of the overall sense of the original texts,” the communications officer said. “For example, the Versicle and Response for the Queen has been retained, but a prayer for the Pope has also been added.”

While the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham is primarily intended as a liturgical book for the U.K. ordinariate, Fr. Bradley also stressed its potential value “to members of other personal ordinariates” in other countries, as well as “those with an interest in Catholic or Anglican liturgical developments.”

Catholic laity, whether or not they come from an Anglican background, may find it to be “a beautiful and prayerful means of celebrating daily prayer,” he noted.

“We very much hope that will help enable the development of the hopes of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, for a renewed and wider recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours by the lay faithful,” Fr. Bradley said.

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Cleveland diocese stresses orthodoxy in new high school curriculum

Cleveland, Ohio, Jun 6, 2012 (CNA) -

In response to concerns raised by teachers and clergy, the Diocese of Cleveland has revamped its high school religion curriculum for the upcoming year, with a focus on orthodoxy and moral clarity.

Superintendent of Schools Margaret Lyons told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that the new program, developed under Bishop Richard G. Lennon, was “Gospel-centered” and “very orthodox.” The new teaching materials, she said, also corrected “a shyness about talking about moral issues.”

After his appointment in 2006, Bishop Lennon heard concerns raised about the quality of religious instruction in local Catholic schools. Several years of assessments and meetings resulted in changes to the elementary school materials, and a comprehensive overhaul of the high school curriculum.

Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and guidelines from the U.S. bishops' conference, the new program reintroduces elements of Catholic tradition that were “known to previous generations of Catholics but absent from more recent instruction,” Superintendent Lyons told CNA on June 5.

The curriculum, she said, “underscores Jesus Christ and the Paschal Mystery” as the source of salvation.

Under the new program, she explained, “students read and are guided through Church documents. They are taught the role and importance of the Magisterium in guarding and passing on the faith, as well as being a sure guide to positive thinking and behavior.” 

“Additionally, students are instructed in ancient prayer practices used throughout the Church’s two thousand years of history, including the Rosary, Lectio Divina, meditation, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Psalms, litanies and readings in Sacred Scripture.”

In response to widespread confusion about the nature and importance of the Church, the program also stresses the Church's unique standing as a divine and human institution, taught and governed by an apostolic authority with “its origin in Jesus Christ.”

Cleveland's new curriculum also seeks to cultivate an enduring and lifelong faith, capable of standing up to cultural secularism and moral relativism. Students are challenged to learn about virtue and understand it as the source of true personal fulfillment, Lyons said.

“The life of virtue is presented as a life that flourishes with what satisfies their desire for happiness and freedom,” she noted. “Students are instructed in natural moral law, grace and virtue as founded in God.”

Although the program seeks to correct the weaknesses of some recent approaches to religious education, it does not do away with the goal of making catechesis relevant to the modern world and the concerns of youth.

“The instructional strategy,” Lyons said, “is to show to students how Christ has been present to his Church, not just now, but throughout all of human history, and so will remain, despite sin, war and internal turmoil. The Church is the Body of Christ on earth and will remain until Christ comes again.”

It is from this Christ-centered perspective, she explained, that students will be taught to “examine the issues found in history and in the modern era that can cloud the vision of Christ.”

In his letter authorizing the release of the new high school curriculum, Bishop Lennon praised the diocesan Office of Catholic Education's program for offering “both sound doctrine and effective instructional practice and resources.”

“Save for the celebration of the sacraments,” the Bishop of Cleveland wrote, “there is no more important work than the formation of our young people in the faith.”

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Pope to attend World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pa., Jun 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI personally chose Philadelphia as the site for the next World Meeting of Families and, health permitting, will attend the 2015 event, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said.

The archbishop discussed the Pope’s possible visit at an afternoon press conference in Philadelphia on June 5.

“He said he hoped to be there, but he reminded me he’s 85 years old and he’d be 88 at that time, and God willing he will be with us,” Archbishop Chaput said. “He’s a man who trusts God’s providence, and I do too.”

The World Meeting of Families, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family, takes place every three years.  It brings together hundreds of thousands of people to pray, celebrate and study marriage and family life. Archbishop Chaput and Pope Benedict attended the 2012 event in Milan.

Archbishop Chaput attended the final Mass with a military family from South Carolina who represented the United States.

“Surprisingly, the six of them and myself were invited to lunch, and not only to lunch, but to the same table as the Pope,” he said.

The archbishop said a “large number of people” usually attend the World Meeting of Families, and typically the Pope visits for the final days of the event. The closing Mass for the 2012 gathering in Milan was attended by 1 million people.

The archbishop also discussed the choice of Philadelphia in an interview with the World Meeting of Families organizers.

He said he had received a letter from the Pontifical Council for Families three months ago asking if Philadelphia would be interested in hosting the next meeting.

“These are difficult times for our diocese; I was worried. So in my answer I said we would be happy to take on the job, but I underscored our financial and logistical problems,” he said in the interview released June 5.

The Philadelphia archdiocese faces continuing fallout from sex abuse scandals and has been forced to close dozens of Catholic schools because of a lack of financial resources.

Six weeks ago, Archbishop Chaput said, Rome wrote again saying that the difficulties of the archdiocese in hosting the event were “understandable” but “notwithstanding everything the Pope had personally decided on Philadelphia.”

Pope Benedict announced the choice of Philadelphia at the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families on June 3.

In response, Archbishop Chaput said he is “so grateful” at the choice and “excited” that Philadelphia will host the event.

"It's fitting that this gathering, which celebrates the cornerstone of society, will take place in America's cradle of freedom. The Holy Father's choice is a gift to the local Church in Philadelphia and to the whole nation,” he said.

The Philadelphia archdiocese has about 1.5 million Catholics in a population of 4 million people.

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Pope recalls the 'inspiring witness' of Milan family gathering

Vatican City, Jun 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI says he saw an “inspiring witness” during his three-day apostolic visit to the June 1-3 World Meeting of Families in Milan.

“This joyful international gathering was an inspiring witness to the rich and varied identity of the family as a communion of love based on marriage, a sanctuary of life, a domestic church and the primary cell of society,” he told pilgrims at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on June 6.

The international gathering in Milan brought together families from over 150 countries to the northern Italian city to pray, celebrate and study marriage and family life. The theme for this year’s event was “The Family: Work and Celebration.”
“It is in the family that we discover our God-given vocation to love, to enter into relationship with others and to live together in harmony,” Pope Benedict reminded those at today’s audience.

It is customary for the Pope to use his first general audience following an apostolic journey to reflect on his visit.

He recalled how on his first evening in Milan’s historic cathedral square he challenged the people of the city “to live the faith as part of their individual and community experience,” and in doing so, “create a stable and authentic ‘well-being’ on the basis of the family, which must be rediscovered as mankind's most important heritage.”

Later that evening the Pope attended a concert in his honor at the famous Scala Theater, where “the notes of Beethoven’s ninth symphony expressed that aspiration to universality and fraternity which the Church tirelessly seeks by announcing the Gospel.”
The choral symphony, which concludes with the famous “Ode to Joy,” was performed by the theater’s orchestra and chorus under the baton of Daniel Barenboim.
At the end of the concert, the Pope said he told theatergoers that the family is where “we first experience how human beings are not created to live closed in themselves, but in relation with others.”
The following day Pope Benedict met with priests, religious and seminarians at Milan’s cathedral and reaffirmed“the importance of celibacy and consecrated virginity, which was to dear to the great St. Ambrose,” the 4th-century bishop of the city.

“These are a luminous sign of love for God and for our brothers and sisters, founded on an increasingly intimate relationship with Christ in prayer and expressed in the total gift of self,” he said.

Meanwhile, at Milan’s San Siro soccer stadium, the Pope challenged thousands of young people “to say their free and responsible ‘yes’ to the Gospel of Jesus.”

The youthful group consisted of those from the archdiocese who had just received the sacrament of Confirmation as well as those about to receive it.

Pope Benedict urged them to “welcome the gifts of the Holy Spirit which mold them as Christians and enable them to live the gospel and to be active members of the community.”

At a subsequent meeting with representatives of civil society, the Pope explained that he called on lawmakers to ensure that “the legislation and activities of state institutions” are always at the service of individuals.
This begins, he said, with the right to life, but should also include upholding the “specific identity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman.”

Later on Saturday evening Pope Benedict led a “Celebration to Witness” at Milan’s Bresso Park, where he responded to various questions put to him by families.

“I wanted to provide a sign of the open dialogue that exists between families and the Church, between the world and the Church,” he said as he reviewed the event.
The Pope said he was “greatly struck by the moving testimonies of couples and children from different continents on the important issues of our day.”

The following morning he returned to Bresso Park to preside over Sunday Mass with 1 million pilgrims, thus transforming the area “into a kind of open-air cathedral” for the day.
At the Mass, he called on those present “to build ecclesial communities increasingly similar to families” and so capable of “reflecting the beauty of the Blessed Trinity,” since “love is the only power that can transform the world.”

Before imparting his apostolic blessing upon the crowds in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict prayed that “the experience of Milan (will) bring abundant fruits to the Church and favor increased attention to the cause of the family, which is the cause of man and of civilization.”

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Poverty in Spain comparable to post-war Europe, charity reports

Madrid, Spain, Jun 6, 2012 (CNA/Europa Press) - Julio Beamonte, the director of Catholic charity Caritas in Madrid, warned that current poverty levels in Spain are rivaling those experienced in post-World War II Europe.

At June 5 press conference on the work of Caritas during 2011, Beamonte said Spain is going through an economic situation similar to what it went through “60 years ago.” 

The crisis is the worst the country has faced in over 40 years, he said.

Beamonte noted that last year Caritas Madrid helped more than 118,000 people and distributed almost 24 million euros in aid. In addition, the more than 7,000 Caritas volunteers helped to distribute 5.6 million euros in parishes across the country.

Asked about the demands being made by some that the Church no longer be exempt from the IBI real estate and property tax, Beamonte said the law should be followed on this matter and pointed to the gospel passage which reads: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

He went on to note that in 2011, 14,000 emergency aid packages were distributed, 600 families were kept in their homes, 1,187 aid packages were given to the unemployed, and 2,242 persons were helped to find a job.

Beamonte said the profile of those receiving aid from Caritas has evolved in recent years, and that now more young people are requesting assistance, as well as more men, more single parent families and more native born Spaniards who hide their economic difficulties out of embarrassment.

“These numbers represent poverty, but there is another side to this which is hope,” he continued, noting that Caritas has seen an increase in volunteers this year and in donations.

Beamonte said the current crisis facing Spain would be long, and he pointed out that the Diocesan Emergency Fund would have to receive an injection of an additional one million euros for the second half of the year in order to help those in need.

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Former Colombian hostages thank Pope for his prayers

Bogotá, Colombia, Jun 6, 2012 (CNA) - A group of eight Colombians who were kidnapped for over ten years by the country's Marxist rebel group told Pope Benedict that his prayers sustained them during their captivity.

The group of police officers and soldiers attended Pope Benedict XVI’s general audience on June 6.

According to Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano, the former hostages came dressed in their police and military uniforms and thanked the Pope for his continual support.

The men were kidnapped by the FARC in the late 1990s and held until April of this year. “They told the Pontiff about the Calvary they lived through in the jungle, where they spent many years with chains around their necks,” the paper said.

According to the Efe news agency, Colombia’s ambassador to the Holy See, Cesar Mauricio Velasquez, said the encounter with the Pope was “moving for both the officers and their families. 

They have come to thank to the Pope for his constant prayers which helped them to endure the torment of kidnapping and to regain their freedom.”

Velasquez said he hopes “this gesture will set an important example for reconciliation, because when there has been great suffering, there is also growth in love, and consequently, in the ability to forgive.”

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Pope sends jubilee congratulations to Queen Elizabeth

Vatican City, Jun 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI has written to Queen Elizabeth to congratulate her on “the happy occasion” of her Diamond Jubilee as monarch of United Kingdom.

“During the past sixty years you have offered to your subjects and to the whole world an inspiring example of dedication to duty and a commitment to maintaining the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, in keeping with a noble vision of the role of a Christian monarch,” Pope Benedict said in his letter, published on June 5.

Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952 upon the death of her father King George VI. Her coronation took place the following June at Westminster Abbey in London.

To mark the 60th anniversary of her accession, a Service of Thanksgiving was held June 5 at Rome’s All Saints Anglican Church. Among the many dignitaries in attendance were Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia, where Queen Elizabeth is the head of state.

Pope Benedict said he retained “warm memories of the gracious welcome” given to him by Queen Elizabeth at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh on the first day of his visit to U.K. in September 2010.

The publication of his letter coincided with the conclusion of four-days of Jubilee celebrations across the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth.

Most of the significant events were held in London, which included a royal flotilla on the River Thames, a celebrity gala concert in front of Buckingham Palace and a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

“The events that I have attended to mark my Diamond Jubilee have been a humbling experience,” the queen said June 6 in a televised message.

“It has touched me deeply to see so many thousands of families, neighbors and friends celebrating together in such a happy atmosphere.”

Pope Benedict concluded his message by offering a prayer for both the queen and her family, commending them “to the protection of Almighty God.”

“I renew my heartfelt good wishes on this joyful occasion and I assure you of my prayers for your continuing health and prosperity.”


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Cardinal Bertone speaks of 'ferocious' Vatileaks attack on Pope

Rome, Italy, Jun 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, believes the continued leaking of confidential papal information to the media is “ferocious, biting and organized.”

"Attacks have always existed, in all times” he told Italian television station RAI on June 4.

“This time, however, it seems that the attacks are more targeted, sometimes also ferocious, biting and organized.”

This is the first time Cardinal Bertone has commented publicly on the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal that has rumbled on since January 2012.

So far, the only person charged by Vatican police as part of the ongoing investigation is the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele. The Secretary of State’s statement that the leaks are “organized’ seems to suggest that he believes Gabriele was not acting alone.

“What is most sad in this affair and in these events is the violation of the Holy Father’s privacy and that of his closest collaborators,” Cardinal Bertone said, adding that “these days have not been ones of division but of unity.”

Many of the leaked documents appear to have been aimed at embarrassing the Secretary of State rather than Pope Benedict. Nevertheless, the Pope told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on May 30 how recent events “have caused sadness in my heart” but have never “clouded a firm certainty that despite human weakness, difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit.”

Cardinal Bertone concurred, describing Pope Benedict as a “mild person, of great faith and great prayer” who “does not allow himself to be frightened by attacks, of any kind, nor by the hard accumulation of prejudices.”

The latest batch of leaked papal documents appeared in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica over the June 2-3 weekend. They included a confidential letter written by the American Cardinal Raymond Burke to Pope Benedict in January 2012.

In his correspondence, Cardinal Burke expressed surprise and dismay after receiving an invitation to an event that seemed to be celebrating the Vatican’s approval for the liturgies used by the new movement, the Neocatechumenatal Way.

He explained to the Pope that he did “not recall having heard a consultation regarding a particular liturgy for this ecclesial movement” and that “such liturgical innovations” do not seem “coherent with the liturgical magisterium of the pope.”

After reading the letter, Pope Benedict attached a handwritten note agreeing with Cardinal Burke’s sentiments with the instruction that they should be passed onto the Congregation for Divine Worship.

After the cardinal’s letter was sent it emerged that the Vatican’s approval only applied to non-liturgical prayers within the Neocatechumenatal Way’s catechesis and not to the Mass or other liturgies of the Church.

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