Archive of July 5, 2012

Indian martyr an example for Christians suffering persecution

Rome, Italy, Jul 5, 2012 (CNA) - The head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, called an 18th century Indian martyr a shining example for Christians today who are suffering persecution.

In an interview with the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano for its July 4 edition, Cardinal Amato called the story of Devasayam Pillai “truly extraordinary.”  

“He was a Hindu who belonged to the high caste of the warriors. When he converted to Christianity he was criticized and suffered persecution at the hands of his Hindu co-nationals, but that was not the extent of his sufferings,” Cardinal Amato recounted.

“He was imprisoned and subjected to all kinds of torture, but he persevered heroically to the end so as not to renounce his baptismal faith.”

Born in 1712, Pillai was raised in the one of the high casts of India and studied martial arts and archery.  He converted to the Catholic faith and was baptized in 1745 in the Diocese of Kottar, taking the name of Devasayan, which in his native language means Lazarus. His wife also converted and took the name Gnanapoo Ammaal, which means Theresa.

Pillai’s conversion began with his friendship with Dutch Captain Eustachius De Lannoy, who led an expedition to India in 1741 to gain control of the Colachel Port in Travancore. De Lannoy was imprisoned and later pardoned on the condition that he serve in the local military.

Local officials were infuriated by Pillai’s conversion because he interacted with people from other casts. He was falsely accused of revealing state secrets to rival groups and European nationals.

He was arrested on February 23, 1749, and was subjected to torture. For three years he was taken from city to city to show people what would happen to those who converted from Hinduism to Christianity.

He was sustained during this time by his prayer and his witness to those willing to listen to him. He also received Communion secretly from priests who visited him at his cell.

Devasayan Pallai was shot on January 14, 1752 in the town of Aralvaimozhi. His body was left on a pile of rocks for wild animals to devour. However, his remains were preserved by locals and buried under the altar at the Church of St. Francis in Kottar.  

In his remarks to the Vatican daily, Cardinal Amato called Pallai “an amazing and huge testimony for India today, because the Church in India in our times is also being persecuted, but she maintains her faith in Christ.”

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Family advocates criticize Spain's failure to rule on abortion law

Madrid, Spain, Jul 5, 2012 (CNA/Europa Press) - The leaders of Spain's Forum on the Family harshly criticized the failure of the Constitutional Court to rule on a case challenging the country’s two-year-old abortion law.

“The mere possibility that an abortion could be performed in violation of the Constitution and under the protection of the new law makes the laziness of the Court to issue a ruling dramatic and irresponsible,”  forum president Benigno Blanco told Europa Press July 3.

“That this has dragged on for two years is incomprehensible.”

Blanco also expressed his concern that the new Spanish government has delayed keeping its promise to overturn the law.  

“On an issue of such transcendence as the right to life, delays because of political prudence or heavy workloads are totally unacceptable,” he said.

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Holy See announces loss of over $18 million for 2011

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy See announced a loss of $18.7 million for 2011 – a sharp contrast to a surplus of $14 million the year before.

“The most significant items of expenditure were those relative to personnel – who as of 31 December 2011 numbered 2,832 – and to the communications media considered as a whole,” said a June 5 Vatican statement.

“The result was affected by the negative trend of global financial markets, which made it impossible to achieve the goals laid down in the budget.”

The annual results were published by the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Financial Problems of the Holy See, which met July 3 – 4 in Rome under the presidency of the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The committee is comprised of senior cardinals from around the world, who have responsibility for financial oversight of the Holy See and Vatican City State. Its ranks include Cardinal Francis George of Chicago.

Meanwhile, the Governorate of Vatican City State announced a surplus of $27.4 million for 2011, although that is down from $30 million in 2010. The relatively healthy financial situation is due in large part to an $11 million increase in revenue from the Vatican Museums. It has welcomed more than five million paying visitors in the past year.

“According to specialized rankings, these figures place the Vatican Museums among the most prestigious and important such institutions in the world,” the statement said.

The term Holy See refers to the central administration of the Church – the Roman Curia – as well as the Pope’s global diplomatic corps. The Vatican City State is a sovereign territory created in 1929. Its governing body – the Governorate – is financially autonomous from the Holy See.

Today’s figures also revealed that the amount given by lay Catholics around the world to the papal “Peter’s Pence” fund rose from $67.7 million in 2010 to $69.7 million in 2011. The money from the annual one-time collection is used to support the Holy See.

The money sent from dioceses around the globe to the Holy See was also up from $27.4 million in 2010 to $32.1 million in 2011. This economic support is mandated in Canon 1271 of the Code of Canon Law.

Further contributions from institutes of consecrated life, societies of apostolic life rose from $747,600 in 2010 to $1.2 million.

Finally, the Vatican’s Institute for Works of Religion – often referred to as the Vatican Bank – also gave the Holy See a “significant sum” to support the Pope’s “apostolic and charitable ministry,” totaling $62 million for 2011.

The Vatican’s results were published on the day it is expected to find out if it has met international standards for financial transparency. The decision has been taken by the Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee, although the findings will not be made public until next month.

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Holocaust museum praised for corrections to Pius XII exhibit

Jerusalem, Israel, Jul 5, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial has made changes to a controversial exhibit on Pope Pius XII, presenting a more balanced view of his actions toward the Nazis and their Jewish victims.

Pave the Way Foundation President Gary Krupp, a prominent Jewish defender of Pope Pius XII, said his inter-religious group was “very pleased” with Yad Vashem's change of position, which “should show the world that it is truly an institution based on facts and truth.”

“The black legend against Pope Pius XII is being bleached white by the stark light of truth,” Krupp told CNA on July 5. Further research, he said, will show that the Pope, born Eugenio Pacelli, “was indeed a great hero to the Jewish people during our darkest years of the Shoah.”

Yad Vashem's new wall panel on Pius XII and the Vatican “presents a more complex picture than previously presented,” the museum said in a July 1 announcement, citing “research that has been done in the recent years” on the wartime Pope.

The panel's revised text states that “reaction of Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli, to the murder of the Jews during the Holocaust is a matter of controversy among scholars.” It acknowledges the Pope's condemnation of ethnic persecutions, as well as the Holy See's efforts to save Jews.

While the exhibit criticizes the Vatican for instances of silence and a “lack of clear guidance” during the Nazi era, it also acknowledges the perspective of those who say the Pope acted prudently under the circumstances.

“His defenders maintain that this neutrality prevented harsher measures against the Vatican and the Church's institutions throughout Europe, thus enabling a considerable number of secret rescue activities to take place at different levels of the Church,” Yad Vashem's revised exhibit reads.

“Moreover,” it states, “they point to cases in which the pontiff offered encouragement to activities in which Jews were rescued.”

Regarding the 1943 deportation of 1,000 Jews from Rome to Auschwitz, the new display says that the Pope “did not publicly protest.” The previous version of the panel made the accusation that the Pope “did not intervene.”

Yad Vashem's new exhibit also quotes the Pope's 1942 Christmas Eve radio address, in which he spoke out for “the hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault on their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or ethnic origin, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline.”

The new text suggests that the controversy over the Pope will continue “until all relevant material is available to scholars.”

Krupp said he believed full access to the Vatican archives would vindicate Pope Pius XII's true legacy as wartime hero. In the meantime, he urged scholars to study the 76,000 pages of documentation and study material made available by the Pave the Way Foundation.

The group's chairman Elliot Hershberg said in a July 3 statement that its research on Pope Pius XII, undertaken for the purpose of “setting the record straight,” has shown “that his work to mitigate the suffering of the Jews during World War II was monumental.”

“I’m certain that through our work and with the opening of the Vatican Archives, the controversy will be ended and Eugenio Pacelli will be recognized for his extraordinary efforts and for saving possibly hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives,” Hershberg said in response to Yad Vashem’s announcement.

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