Rome, Italy, Aug 2, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
He's now 96-years-old, but during World War II, Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini was a young priest in a Roman parish who first came face-to-face with Pope Pius XII in the aftermath of an Allied air raid.
“I had the unimaginable surprise to find myself, immediately after the bombing near to the Pope who went to the site of the disaster where I was among the wounded, dead and dying,” he told CNA in Rome.
A native of Rome, Cardinal Angelini is a former President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers. He was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinal in 1991 by Pope John Paul II.
Since his youthful meeting with Pope Pius XII he has also been an outspoken supporter of the wartime pontiff’s record – particularly against those who allege he did not do enough to help the Jewish community in Rome.
“Pius XII helped everyone,” Cardinal Angelini said, “the Pope gave an order to open all the convents, seminaries and monasteries. The Pope did his duty.”
“For those who knew him and his intelligence and holiness, in accusing him of not having acted in favor of the Jews, they tell lies fully knowing what they are doing.”
Despite pleas by Pope Pius XII for the Allied air forces to spare the city of Rome, the Italian capital was hit by 60,000 tons of bombs in the 78 days prior to Rome’s liberation in June 1944.
Cardinal Angelini recalled how Pope Pius XII was fearless during those dark days in comforting the Roman people along with his Assistant Secretary of State, Monsignor Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.
“They came together, leaving the Vatican before the air raid siren had finished ringing, taking the streets after the huge bombing of the English airplanes.”
“In those moments of war,” he said, “there were no distinctions. They were all lives that needed to be saved. We as the Church had to help them.”
Hence he found himself “on the frontline” at the age of 24, “and I found myself there, for the first time, face-to-face with Pius XII. I wouldn’t have ever imagined finding the Pope there so close.”
Despite the passage of nearly 70 years, Cardinal Angelini said he is more certain than ever of one thing – “Pius XII was a saint!”
Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2012 (CNA) -
Reports of a woman in China who saved dozens of abandoned babies in recent decades has drawn praise for her heroic actions and criticism for the one-child policy that leads to the practice of child desertion.
“These children need love and care,” said Lou Xiaoying. “They are all precious human lives. I do not understand how people can leave such a vulnerable baby on the streets.”
A July 30 article in the Daily Mail told the story of the 88-year-old woman who has dedicated the last 40 years of her life to saving abandoned Chinese babies from death.
Lou has made her living by recycling garbage. One day in 1972, she found an abandoned baby girl lying among the trash in the street.
The child “would have died had we not rescued her and taken her in,” she said. As she and her husband watched the baby grow, she realized that she had “a real love of caring for children.”
Lou, who has one biological daughter of her own, has rescued more than 30 babies. She and her husband – who died 17 years ago – raised four of the abandoned children and helped the rest find homes with family members and friends.
“I realized if we had strength enough to collect garbage how could we not recycle something as important as human lives,” she said.
Her youngest adopted child – a boy named Zhang Qilin – was in a dustbin when she found him. Although she was 82 years old, she decided to take him in, giving him a Chinese name that means precious and rare.
“Even though I was already getting old I could not simply ignore the baby and leave him to die in the trash,” she said. “He looked so sweet and so needy. I had to take him home with me.”
She explained that she took him back to her house, “a very small modest house in the countryside,” and nursed him back to health. Today her other children help look after the seven-year-old child, “a thriving little boy, who is happy and healthy.”
According to the Daily Mail, Lou is well respected as “a local hero” in the community, saving children despite her lack of money and power.
Mark Shan, spokesman for China Aid Association, a group that promotes religious freedom and aids victims of human rights violations in China, said that that he has heard similar stories of people “picking up children from the streets.”
Abandoned children – particularly girls – are a significant problem in the country, caused by both a “very strict law” and a “son preference culture,” he told CNA.
The nation’s one child policy is strictly enforced, and violating the law can result in heavy fines and even the loss of a job or home, he explained.
“The punishment is really severe,” he said. “And the children will suffer a lot.”
China’s one child policy has drawn considerable international attention in recent months, after blind pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest and was eventually able to come with his family to the United States.
Chen had been imprisoned after exposing the forced abortions and sterilizations that are routinely used to enforce the policy.
The strict regulation, which prohibits most couples from having more than a single child, is attributed with creating a troubling gender imbalance in the country and leading to high levels of female infanticide, abortion and abandonment, as well as the trafficking of young girls into child prostitution.
In addition to the law, Shan noted, traditional Chinese culture stresses the importance of producing an heir and therefore values male children over female children.
When couples are only permitted to have one child, they may choose to abandon an unwanted baby girl, he said, because “every family wants a son.”
Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2012 (CNA) -
A bipartisan group of six former U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See has joined together to support presidential candidate Mitt Romney and is calling on other Catholics to do the same.
The ambassadors said on July 31 that despite their own political differences, they all believe that Mitt Romney “can be a great force for good in this nation.”
They explained that they are united in their support of Romney’s candidacy by the conviction that all Catholics are “called to advance the moral teachings of Christianity in the life of our country.”
Former ambassadors Frank Shakespeare, Tom Melady, Ray Flynn, Jim Nicholson, Francis Rooney and Mary Ann Glendon are the new national co-chairs of the Catholics for Romney coalition.
In a letter to fellow Catholics, the ambassadors said that while they are Democrats, Independents and Republicans, they are “united in faith and in action” with regards to the upcoming election.
“Where the stakes are highest – in the defense of life, liberty, and human dignity – we have a duty to act that is greater and more urgent than allegiance to any political party,” they explained.
The former diplomats – whose years of service range from 1986 to 2009 – said that no matter which issues become the focus of the presidential campaign in coming months, “our concerns lie with fundamental rights, beginning with religious liberty.”
The ambassadors observed that the Obama administration “has brought our first freedom under direct assault by imposing government mandates that completely disregard religious conscience.”
Primary among these threats is a new requirement that will force employers to offer health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their religious convictions.
In contrast, the diplomats said, “Governor Romney believes that freedom to live one’s faith is essential to liberty and human fulfillment.” They noted that he has “pledged himself to removing those federal mandates immediately.”
Furthermore, they noted, “the current administration has now put its weight on the side of those who propose to redefine the meaning of marriage itself.” However, Romney “stood firm in defending this sacred institution” during his time as governor of Massachusetts.
The ambassadors also defended Romney’s pro-life stance, arguing that while “the current administration has shown its sympathy for the pro-abortion lobby, Mitt Romney will be a faithful defender of life in all its seasons.”
Critics of Romney remain skeptical about his claim to have had a conversion to a pro-life position in 2004, after confronting the issue of embryonic stem cell research and realizing that it was wrong to create a human life simply to destroy it.
However his supporters point to his consistent pro-life record as governor of Massachusetts to show that his pro-life convictions are sincere.
The ambassadors also cited Romney’s recent statement that “there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.”
This statement recognizes the important role and “special duty” of faithful individuals and organizations, they argued.
“We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States,” they said.
Mexico City, Mexico, Aug 2, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City praised the 16th century saint Juan Diego for teaching the Catholic faith to locals through humble obedience to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
St. Juan Diego, “on the tenth anniversary of your canonization, thank you for teaching us to live the faith, thank you for teaching us the way of true conversion,” the cardinal said during a July 30 Mass.
In his homily, Cardinal Rivera recalled the apparitions of Mary to the Indian Juan Diego and how she entrusted to him an important message for the Bishop of Mexico, Juan de Zumarraga, “the construction of a temple, a sacred little home, a church.”
“She put all her trust in this obedient messenger. She discovered that clean and pure heart of Juan Diego,” the cardinal said.
However, Juan Diego felt overwhelmed by all the difficulties and asked that she send someone else, “for he was nobody, he was not respected or known or honored.”
In these circumstances, the cardinal said, “The Virgin Mary gives him one of her strong loving embraces, as she is the one who asks him, pleads with him and implores him to be her intercessor. Moreover, she powerfully and tenderly reveals to him that she is his mother.”
“Juan Diego believed, had faith in each word that came from the heart and mouth of Holy Mary of Guadalupe,” he added.
“On the one hand, she continued believing in him, holding him in her love, and on the other, Juan Diego believed in her and realized that when one has true faith, an attitude of joy, an attitude of joyful service, flourishes with it.”
During the Mass, Cardinal Rivera also said that the visit ten years ago by now Blessed John Paul II to canonize Juan Diego was the encounter between two men of God, “two men who now are in heaven, the paradise of God’s eternal love.”
San Sebastian, Spain, Aug 2, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla of San Sebastian in Spain called on local priests and the laity to donate a portion of their salaries to Caritas for families affected by the country's economic crisis.
During Mass on the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola on July 31, Bishop Munilla said he wanted to make “a special invitation” to those concerned about this situation to make “an extraordinary donation” to those experiencing financial difficulties.
“Some may not be able to take on such a huge effort, but perhaps they might be able to join the appeal by Caritas to donate one day’s salary per month. Others might perhaps be able to make a specific donation.”
Bishop Munilla said Spain is facing a crisis “that poses questions about the foundations upon which we have based our development.”
“The disconnect with the Christian roots of Western society has turned traditional values on their head and pushed the West to place 'having' above 'being.'”
Everyone in society bears some blame for the resulting unbridled consumerism, he said, from financial entities and leaders who created a false economy, to those who bought what they did not need with money they did not have.
“It is obvious that we are dealing with a sin for which we are all accomplices … by building a societal model contrary to the values of the Kingdom of God,” on every level of social ladder, the bishop continued.
“Brothers and sisters, on this day dedicated to our patron, St. Ignatius, and at a time when a large segment of our population is preparing to go on summer vacation, I would like to boldly propose to all Catholics and people of good will who trust in the management of Caritas,” Bishop Munilla said, “that a special effort of solidarity be made towards those who are suffering the most.”
Atlanta, Ga., Aug 2, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Supporters of traditional marriage and religious freedom turned out in droves Aug. 1 for a nationwide “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” organized to counter criticism of the Christian-run restaurant chain.
Evangelical pastor Rick Warren reported on Twitter that customers “set a world record” with the event. It was organized by radio host Mike Huckabee, after Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy was condemned by activists for supporting “the biblical definition of the family unit” in a July 2012 interview.
“We are very grateful and humbled by the incredible turnout of loyal Chick-fil-A customers on August 1 at Chick-fil-A restaurants around the country,” the company's executive vice president for marketing Steve Robinson said in an Aug. 2 statement.
“While we don¹t release exact sales numbers, we can confirm reports that it was a record-setting day,” Robinson said.
Approximately 600,000 Facebook users had expressed their intention to join in the show of support, organized by Huckabee in response to what he described as “vitriolic assaults” and “vicious hate speech” against the company and its president.
The strong turnout meant crowded parking lots, backed-up drive-through windows, and long wait times at many of the chain's 1,600-plus locations. Lines stretched outdoors at some stores, as employees set up tents and distributed water to waiting supporters.
Many of Wednesday's participants wanted to show agreement with Cathy's views on family and marriage. Other attendees said they were concerned about the company president's right to express his religious beliefs, after officials in some U.S. cities suggested Chick-fil-A would not be welcome there.
Cathy has refrained from commenting further on the controversy sparked by his remarks. But the president and chief operating officer made a public appearance during Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, greeting customers as they waited in line at a location in Fayettville, Georgia.
While thanking those who made the day a success, Robinson stressed that the event was “not a company promotion.”
He also responded to charges of bigotry against the sandwich chain, saying Chick-fil-A's tradition “is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender.”
A group of activists, meanwhile, plans to respond on Aug. 3 with a “National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A.” While over 95,000 people have been invited to the event through Facebook, only around 12,000 said they would be participating as of Aug. 2.
The company's executive vice president for marketing alluded to the planned same-sex kissing event, in his statement following the day of appreciation.
“We understand from news reports that Friday may present yet another opportunity for us to serve with genuine hospitality, superior service and great food,” Robinson said.
Washington D.C., Aug 2, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI has praised the work of the Knights of Columbus to defend and promote religious liberty within the United States.
In a letter signed by Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy Father commended the Knights’ work to support religious liberty at a time “when concerted efforts are being made to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom.”
The Knights of Columbus “have worked tirelessly to help the Catholic community recognize and respond to the unprecedented gravity of these new threats to the Church’s liberty and public moral witness,” the July 19 letter said.
In doing so, the organization “has proudly lived up to the high religious and patriotic principles which inspired its founding.”
The letter applauded the Knights’ work to defend “the right of all religious believers, as individual citizens and in their institutions, to work responsibly in shaping a democratic society inspired by their deepest beliefs, values and aspirations.”
With more than 1.8 million members, the Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest fraternal group and among the nation’s most active charitable organizations. Last year, the Knights donated more than $158 million and 70 million hours to various charitable causes.
In recent months, the organization has been an outspoken opponent of measures that threaten religious freedom, most notably a federal mandate that requires employers to offer health insurance that includes contraception, sterilization and early abortion-inducing drugs even if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
Each of the Knights’ state councils passed a resolution supporting religious freedom, and Supreme Knight Carl Anderson has written and spoken out about the mandate as well as other threats to religious liberty.
The July 19 letter said that the Holy Father was “pleased” to learn that the Knights will be holding their 130th Supreme Convention in Anaheim, Calif. from Aug. 7-9.
It added that the theme of the gathering, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land,” calls to mind both “the great biblical ideas of freedom and justice” that shaped the nation’s founding and “the responsibility of each new generation to preserve, defend and advance those great ideals in its own day.”
Stressing the “urgent need” for a well-formed laity that is both engaged and articulate, the pope voiced confidence that the Knights will continue their legacy of “providing sound inspiration, guidance and direction to a new generation of faithful and dedicated Catholic laymen.”
Pope Benedict urged the Supreme Council and each of the local councils to build up their “praiseworthy programs of continuing catechetical and spiritual formation which have long been a hallmark of your Order.”
He offered prayers that the upcoming Year of Faith will reinforce the Knights’ resolve to make their entire lives a witness to their baptismal faith.
The Holy Father also expressed gratitude for the spiritual bouquet of prayers and sacrifices offered by the Knights and their families for his thirty-fifth anniversary of episcopal ordination.
This “act of spiritual solidarity” was viewed by the pontiff as both an “outstanding testimony of love” and a sign of “fidelity, loyalty and support during these difficult times.”
“We are honored by the pope’s encouragement and confidence in our work,” said Supreme Knight Anderson, adding that the pope’s message “is clear.”
“We must continue to stand up for our religious liberty and to point the way for our fellow Catholics to do the same,” he said.
“Defense of religious liberty has long been a part of the Knights of Columbus history,” Anderson noted, recalling the group’s work to defend Catholic education from the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.
He vowed that the Knights “will continue to do all we can” to oppose regulations that threaten to encroach on “the first freedom guaranteed in our bill of rights – the freedom to practice our religion.”