Rome, Italy, Jul 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - While it has no direct bearing on theology or revelation, the scientific discovery hailed by some as the “God particle” is an important achievement, a Vatican astronomer says.
“It is a wonderful piece of science,” said Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, a researcher and spokesman at the Vatican Observatory, in a July 5 interview with CNA.
On July 4, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) publicized results suggesting it had found the elusive “Higgs boson” particle, thought to explain the physical mass of objects in the universe, by means of subatomic experiments carried on at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.
Br. Consolmagno said the apparent discovery of the Higgs boson was a “delight,” particularly given the gradual progress of most physical research, and the resources invested in running the Swiss particle accelerator.
“It is nice to see such a big step occur that everybody can celebrate,” the Vatican astronomer remarked, congratulating the researchers who “finally got something out of the years and time and effort they’ve put into it.”
Although officials at CERN have not definitively claimed to find the particle, the group's director-general Professor Rolf Heuer said researchers had “observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs boson.”
“As a layman I would now say I think we have it,” Prof. Heuer announced at a press conference in Geneva.
Nicknamed “the God particle” by physicist Leon Lederman, the Higgs boson was postulated by British physicist Peter Higgs during the 1960s, as a necessary component in the “Standard Model” of the universe.
The Standard Model involves four distinct forces: electromagnetism, the “strong nuclear force,” the “weak nuclear force,” and gravity. While scientists have made progress in their understanding of the first three, the force of gravitation is thought to hinge on the previously-unobserved Higgs boson.
Various kinds of subatomic particles, such as quarks, leptons, and so-called “force carriers,” are thought to make up the observable world, according to the Standard Model. While these particles account for many observable phenomena, the Higgs boson is believed to be necessary to give them their mass.
While the results from the Large Hadron Collider point to the discovery of this missing component in the Standard Model, Br. Consolmagno observed that there is “a hint that something else is going on” in the results, “which is always exciting.”
He also clarified that the discovery, despite its nickname, “has nothing to do with theology or God” in any direct sense.
“The name 'the God particle' was given to it as a joke by Leon Lederman,” the Vatican astronomer recalled. “It was basically a provocative title for book he was writing on particle physics.”
“He said that if there was a particle that could exist that could explain all the little things we wanted to explain, it would be a gift from God. It is a metaphor and has nothing to do with theology.”
Chicago, Ill., Jul 6, 2012 (CNA) -
A prayer vigil and novena are among the steps a small community in Illinois is taking to prevent the opening of a multi-million dollar strip club next door to a convent in a residential area.
On July 2, over 130 children, parents and young adults came together for a prayer vigil and Eucharistic Adoration at the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo convent in Melrose Park.
“Today is a testament to the spiritual courage of this community who came together for what is important to their families and this community,” Sister Noemia Silva said in a statement Monday.
In addition to the vigil, the convent is opening its doors to host a novena from July 3-9. The prayerful events come after a crowd of over 500 people silently marched through the town in March as a sign of protest.
Sister Silva called the club “unacceptable,” adding that community members “are appalled that this strip club was built not only next to our convent, but also right next to the residential homes where children live.”
The club, “Get It,” was scheduled to open in April during Holy Week, but road construction in front of building and internal issues have significantly delayed the grand opening.
With a population of less than 5,000, Stone Park – which borders Melrose Park where the convent is located – is already home to five adult entertainment venues.
Thirteen-year-old resident, Dayana Moreno, who lives behind one of the strip clubs, said she is often woken up in the middle of the night by fights breaking out in the parking lot and loud music from inside the club.
“What we want are after-school programs, parks (and) a public library where we can study and be safe,” she said. “I don't want my little brother growing up seeing these places as I did.”
Attorney Peter Breen, who serves as executive director of the Thomas More Society, has offered free legal support to those who oppose the club and said locals are “ready to go to court if necessary” to prevent it from opening.
“The community has really rallied behind the sisters and those residents who are immediately behind this facility,” Breen said, “but we still hope that the village of Stone Park will do the right thing.”
Resident and mother Ana Garay said that she worries about what kind of message such an establishment would promote locally.
“At home, we teach our children values and respect for others through our faith,” she said, “yet around them they have these types of places which not only bring sin, but also create an unsafe environment.”
Liverpool, United Kingdom, Jul 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - An estimated 6,000 pilgrims have braved heavy rain to venerate the relic of St. John Vianney’s heart since its arrival in England yesterday.
“This relic represents a call to the heart, a call to return to what must lie at the heart of the life our parishes declining or apparently flourishing in city, town and countryside,” Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury told pilgrims at Liverpool’s Cathedral of Christ the King on July 6.
“St. John Vianney had no doubt that whatever lies at the center, the heart of our parishes must always serve to bring us back to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus,” Bishop Davies said.
The relic of the 19th-century French priest arrived at Manchester’s Airport on July 5, the first time it has ever visited England.
It was first taken to St. Anthony’s Church in the city’s southern district of Wythenshawe, where an estimated 2,700 pilgrims queued for hours to venerate it, twice the number expected by organizers.
The relic was then transferred to Liverpool July 6 for a national day of prayer for the renewal of parish life and vocations. The day included Mass as well as the praying of the Divine Office, confession, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and, of course, veneration of the relic.
Bishop Davies – who is behind the relic’s visit England – noted how St. John Vianney did not have a concrete “pastoral plan” but, instead, had a firm disposition to seek holiness, which he was able to convey to those who around him.
“St. John Vianney never set out to ‘please people’ responding to demands like a tin can blown about on the piazza outside. Rather he proceeded purposefully in seeking to please God,” he told the Cathedral that holds 3,000.
“This led him very close to all his people and especially close throughout his life to the most difficult and confused of his people – the types of people we might naturally be inclined to avoid.”
The key lesson to be learned from St. John Vianney, he said, is that the regeneration of the Catholic Church in England lies in the rediscovery by the faithful of the love of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist.
Bishop Davies recalled how the French saint would point each visitor to his parish towards the tabernacle with the words, “he is here, he is here, the one who loves us so much, he is here!”
Even in the saint’s last days, when “frailty and sickness no longer allowed him to be heard,” he would “stand in the pulpit of Ars and repeatedly point to the tabernacle.”
“Everything he wished to say and (urge) us to seek was there in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist,” said Bishop Davies.
St. John Mary Baptist Vianney served as priest for 40 years in the small, rural French town of Ars during the early 19th century. Even during his lifetime he was regarded as a saintly figure. He was formally canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and four years later was proclaimed principal patron saint of parish priests.
On the evening of July 6 the relic will be taken to St. Michael’s and All Angels Church in Woodchurch, near Liverpool, for compline.
On Saturday, July 7 the relic will be venerated at St. Wilfrid’s Church in Northwich, before it will be taken to Shrewsbury Cathedral, Shropshire.
Finally, it will travel onto the St. Mary’s College Seminary in Birmingham July 7-8 for an annual vocations conference before returning to France on July 9.
Rome, Italy, Jul 6, 2012 (CNA/Europa Press) -
Pope Benedict XVI could make a stopover in a Spanish-speaking Latin American country during his visit to the region for World Youth Day Rio 2013.
According to reports in the Italian media, three countries--Colombia, Panama and Chile--are vying for the chance to host the pontiff as he makes his way to Brazil next year.
The Colombian government has already extended an invitation to the Pope, which was echoed by a group of bishops making their ad limina visit to the Holy See on June 22. According to the Italian daily La Stampa, the Pope responded, “God will decide.”
The newspaper also reported that Panama is also interested in hosting a papal visit in 2013 to mark the 500th anniversary of the creation of the first diocese in the Americas, Santa Maria La Antigua in Panama.
The bishops of Panama have convened a special Jubilee Year which will begin this year on November 28 to celebrate the occasion. The prefect of the Congregation for the Bishops and the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, will be the Holy Father’s special envoy for the event.
La Stampa reports that Panama’s vice chancellor, Francisco Alvarez De Soto, invited the Pope to visit his country during a meeting with the Pope in May. The Holy Father’s response was once again, “It all depends on God.
Chile’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Fernando Zegers Santa Cruz, issued his own invitation to the Pope on June 20, repeating the invitation made by President Sebastian Pinera in March of 2011 to visit Chile.
The success of the Pope’s visit to Mexico and Cuba in March of this year makes the possibility for an additional stopover in Latin America more likely.
Vatican City, Jul 6, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican is considering its response following the illicit ordination of another bishop without Pope Benedict’s approval.
Father Joseph Yue Fusheng, 48, was ordained as bishop of Harbin city on July 6, despite warnings from Rome that he faced automatic excommunication for doing so.
“This episcopal ordination of Harbin will create confusion and divisions among the Catholic community in China,” the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples said in a July 3 note issued ahead of the ordination.
“If one wants the Church in China to be Catholic, one must not proceed with episcopal ordinations that do not have the prior approval of the Holy Father,” the congregation said.
In a July 4 response China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs labeled the Vatican’s warning as “extremely outrageous and shocking,” adding that their policy of “self-ordination” would continue.
According to several reports, five Vatican-approved bishops took part in the illicit ordination at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Harbin city, the capital of Heilongjiang province. It was also reported that around 40 priests were present.
Participating clerics were also warned by the Vatican in its July 3 statement that they were “exposing themselves to serious canonical penalties prescribed by the law of the Church.”
China has an estimated eight to twelve million Catholics, with about half of those people worshiping in the government-controlled Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Founded in 1957, it does not acknowledge the authority of the Pope.
Father Joseph Yue Fusheng is the vice-chairman of the puppet organization.
In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI wrote an open letter to the Catholic Church in China in which he recognized that it was “understandable that governmental authorities are attentive to the choice of those who will carry out the important role of leading and shepherding the local Catholic communities, given the social implications which – in China as in the rest of the world – this function has in the civil sphere.”
But he also stressed that the appointment of bishops is a religious rather than political matter, and that the right of the Church to make such appointments without state interference is “a constitutive element of the full exercise of the right to religious freedom” as is also recognized in international conventions.