San Antonio, Texas, Aug 8, 2012 (CNA) - Over 100 Catholic Hispanic leaders will gather in Miami, Florida Aug. 24-26 to discuss how to defend faith, family and religious freedom in contemporary America.
“This conference will be a critical opportunity for lay Catholic leaders from across the U.S. to find answers in today’s threatening political landscape,” Robert Aguirre, president and CEO of the San Antonio-based Catholic Association of Latino Leaders, said Aug. 6.
“All Catholics are called to be active participants in the political process, and have a civic and moral obligation to vote responsibly in the upcoming presidential election,” Aguirre added.
The association is sponsoring its seventh annual gathering of business and community leaders at the Miami Marriot Biscayne Bay. The conference is titled “The Family: Evangelization and Public Witness.”
Scheduled keynote speakers include Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, Prof. Robert A. Destro of Columbus School of Law, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, Superintendent Alberto Vásquez Matós of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, and National Review Online editor Kathryn Jean Lopez.
Destro will discuss religious liberty while Carl Anderson will discuss the New Evangelization. Matos will talk about teaching faith and civic responsibility in Catholic schools.
The conference is also drawing the attendance of prominent churchmen.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami will attend the conference opening and serve as principal celebrant and homilist at the conference’s Sunday Mass. Papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Vigano will celebrate Mass and deliver a homily on Aug. 24. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston will be the principal celebrant and homilist on Aug. 25.
Manny Garcia-Tuñon, a Miami businessman who is chapter president of CALL Miami, noted the importance of gathering together “as a family and a community of faith.”
“As we look to the political decisions ahead of us, we will reflect on the importance of keeping true to the Church’s teaching on key issues, including how to strengthen our most important social unit – the family,” he said.
The Catholic Association of Latino Leaders is dedicated to promoting the common good of Latinos, the Catholic Church and the U.S.
It stresses the importance of “faithful citizenship” through finding new ways to preserve and promote their faith and its values.
Members, who include businessmen and professionals, take part in the association’s prayer, education, service and leadership opportunities. The association also provides programs, services and events for local communities.
The organization has chapters in Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, Denver, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Milwaukee, Miami and Washington, D.C.
Conference registration details are available at the association’s website www.call-usa.org.
Melbourne, Australia, Aug 8, 2012 (CNA) - The Archbishop of Melbourne denounced a local newspaper for its story about a breakaway group of “Inclusive Catholics,” led by a renegade priest who allegedly gave Holy Communion to a dog.
“That anyone would feed the Eucharist to a dog is an abomination,” Archbishop Denis J. Hart of Melbourne said in an Aug. 6 statement, issued by the archdiocese in response to a report the same day in The Age newspaper.
The paper, he said, had mocked Catholic beliefs by featuring the incident, which occurred at a service conducted by the “Inclusive Catholics” group. Its leader, Father Greg Reynolds, resigned from the Melbourne archdiocese in 2011 and does not have permission to offer Mass or serve as a priest.
“A first-time visitor arrived late at the Inclusive Catholics service in South Yarra with a large and well-trained German shepherd,” writer Barney Zwartz wrote in his account of the group's Aug. 5 service.
“When the consecrated bread and wine were passed around, the visitor took some bread and fed it to his dog,” Zwartz recounted. “Apart from one stifled gasp, those present showed admirable presence of mind – but the dog was not offered the cup!”
It is unclear, however, whether the “consecrated bread” consumed by the dog was in fact the Holy Eucharist.
The story mentioned that “a woman, Irene Wilson, led the liturgy,” while Fr. Reynolds “played as small a role as he could.” Given Fr. Reynolds' minimal participation in the lay-led service, the “consecrated bread” may not have received a valid Eucharistic consecration at all.
Whether or not the “Mass” was valid, Archbishop Hart told The Age that the events portrayed in the story were a source of grave offense for Catholics.
The article, he told the paper in a letter, was written “in bad faith,” with a tone that showed disrespect to “the most fundamental and defining belief” of the Catholic Church.
While the story acknowledged Fr. Reynolds' theological dissent and the “illicit” nature of the group's services, Archbishop Hart seemed displeased by Zwartz's attempts at cleverness – such as the lead paragraph's riff on the “Inclusive Catholics” welcoming “every man and his dog.”
“That you should choose to report the matter in the way that you did can only be understood as an attempt to hold Catholicism up to ridicule,” the Melbourne church leader wrote in his Aug. 6 letter to the editor of The Age.
“Your integrity in this matter can be judged by asking whether, if something sacred to Judaism or Islam had similarly been desecrated, you would have treated the matter with such flippancy.”
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas at Castel Gandolfo, knows that the villas and farm at Pope Benedict's summer residence have been centuries in the making.
Petrillo, who has worked for the Pontifical Villas for 50 years, said that the Pontifical Villas are a complex of three historic properties which have “come together little by little to form the summer residence of the Holy Father.”
The villa complex and farms cover 55 hectares, an area larger than Vatican City.
Petrillo told CNA on Aug. 4 that Castel Gandolfo has served as a papal retreat since the seventeenth century when Pope Urban VIII continued the visits he had begun as a cardinal.
Fifteen of the last 31 Popes have continued that tradition, though some pontiffs did not visit because of personal taste, health, or historical reasons, as when the Popes between Pius IX and Pius XI did not leave the Vatican because of the political situation in Italy.
The biggest of the properties was once the Roman Emperor Domitian's personal villa. His residence was over five square miles in area and included a theater.
“It was a rather small theater that had a capacity for around 400 spectators, that is to say, the emperor and his closest friends,” Petrillo said.
Pope Pius XI erected a cross in the villas “to remember the triumph of the cross over its persecutors,” he continued. “Domitian, if you remember, was a ferocious persecutor of Christians and the Pope wished to give witness to the triumph of the cross.”
Every summer, Pope Benedict XVI visits the gardens for walks and sometimes prays the rosary there.
The villas' Belvedere Gardens are divided into three tiers. The first tier has floral gardens inspired by works in the basilicas of Rome, and the second tier has four mirroring labyrinths.
“A maze like these in an Italian garden represents man’s search for knowledge,” the villa director explained.
The third tier of the gardens is a citrus garden enclosed by cypresses, where lemon and orange trees grow.
“Down below we have more mirror pools and the hedges trimmed in such a way to remind the visitor of the Roman aqueducts,” Petrillo said.
The villas also contain the Emperor Domitian’s covered passageway known as the “crypto-portico.”
The portico was once nearly 1,000 feet long, but only about 400 feet still remain. Smoke stains on the portico walls date back to World War II, another major event for Castel Gandolfo.
“When the Allied troops landed at Anzio, the Holy Father welcomed around 10,000 people who found refuge here,” Petrillo said.
“In particular, it’s quite nice to remember, in that period 50 children were born and all were born in the Pope’s room which had been transformed into a delivery room.”
Petrillo added that the villas' farm is “particularly nice,” and supplies much of what Pope Benedict eats.
“It's where we raise milk cows, hens, have vegetable gardens and a lot of olive trees for a humble production of olive oil.”
Giuseppe Bellapadrona, Director of the Pontifical Farm, said Pope Pius XI wanted a small farm to produce food “in the most organic and healthy of ways.”
The farm includes chickens and a barn of 30 milking cows for dairy production. There are also 800-year-old olive trees whose olives are used to produce “quite delicate” olive oil.
Madrid, Spain, Aug 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Twelve young people taking part in a Crossroads pro-life walk in Spain say they have been harassed by abortion rights activists on their journey from Barcelona to Santiago de Compostela.
The group, who is collecting signatures to support a reform of Spain’s abortion law, said they have experienced “many obstacles” from abortion advocates, including being pelted with paint-filled eggs.
In statements to the newspaper La Gaceta, the spokesman for Crossroads Spain, Pablo Santana, said the harassment began in Barcelona.
“We carry a banner that reads: 'How many abortions do you think there should reasonably be in Spain? Abortion is the cruel and violent death of a human being,' and they painted over it and changed it so that it only said, 'Abortion is humane,'” Santana said.
They young people were harassed again on Aug. 4 while they were praying at a national shrine in Valladolid. In the city of Tordesillas local officials ordered the police to stop them from distributing pamphlets and fliers on street corners, saying they did not have the proper permits.
Santana said they tried to speak to city officials but were told they were “too busy.”
“Later we came across an assistant to the mayor who was sitting the square having a drink,” he said.
The young people participating in Crossroads Spain began their pilgrimage in Barcelona and have passed through the cities of Valencia, Cordoba, Madrid and Valladolid on their way to Santiago de Compostela, where they expect to arrive on Aug. 19.
So far, they have collected 40,000 signatures to support the reform of Spain’s abortion law.
Anaheim, Calif., Aug 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Throughout the past year, the Knights of Columbus has fulfilled its mission through a strong defense of religious liberty and record-breaking amounts of charitable activity, Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson announced.
Continuing in the long tradition of faith and charity that began with the organization’s founder, Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney, the Knights have remained firm in their commitment “to preach the Gospel in word and deed,” he said on August 7.
Anderson delivered his annual report at the organization’s 130th Supreme Convention in Anaheim, Calif. With 1.8 million members around the world, the Knights are committed to the principles of charity, unity and fraternity.
One of the most important ways that the order has lived out this calling in the past year is in its adamant defense of religious liberty, Anderson explained.
He recalled the American founders’ commitment to religious freedom as a foundational liberty that comes from God.
“The history of Catholics in the United States is a history of defending religious freedom,” he said, adding that whenever this fundamental liberty is threatened, “we will vigorously defend it.”
Anderson then recalled that the Catholic Church’s interest in religious freedom is not something that began this past year, rather, it has been part of the Catholic experience “from the very beginning.”
And in Anderson’s words, the Knights of Columbus has “taken the lead” in defending religious liberty from various threats in past decades.
In the 19th century, the order stood strong against the Know-Nothings’ accusations that Catholics cannot be good citizens.
In the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan sponsored legislation to ban Catholic schools in the state of Oregon, the Knights supported a group of religious sisters in challenging the law. The sisters eventually won their case in the Supreme Court, securing their religious freedom and setting an important precedent for similar threats in the future.
The fraternal organization also played a key role in adding the words “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s, Anderson said, adding that “we have defended their right to be there ever since.”
Now, the group is battling numerous contemporary threats to religious liberty, including a federal mandate that requires employers to offer health insurance that covers contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
Like all of the Knights’ work, the recent efforts to defend religious freedom have been “motivated by our commitment to charity,” Anderson emphasized.
This charity can also be seen in the order’s record-breaking donations of time and money in the past year, he said, announcing that the group has donated more than $158 million to charitable causes and over 70 million hours in volunteer work over the last year.
Among the Knights’ partners are the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity and the Global Wheelchair Mission. The group has worked overseas to provide prosthetic limbs to Haitian children and assistance to AIDS orphans in Africa. Its domestic initiatives include blood drives, Coats for Kids and efforts to provide ultrasound machines to crisis pregnancy centers.
The order has also enjoyed continued growth, adding 215 new councils in the past year, Anderson reported.
The organization now includes 277 college councils and has reached more than 290,000 members in the Philippines, whom the Supreme Knight described as “truly extraordinary” in their faith and enthusiasm.
Looking forward, Anderson said that the Knights will continue in their practice of pursuing investments that are “economically and morally sustainable.”
The fact that the Knights of Columbus has been given the highest possible ratings for its insurance policies demonstrates that “ethics and success can and should go together,” he said.
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Aug 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - On the Feast of St. Dominic, Pope Benedict XVI praised the founder of the Order of Preachers as “a man of prayer, in love with God” whose nine ways of prayer are an example for Christians’ daily life.
St. Dominic, the Pope said, united the proclamation of the Gospel with “witness to a life of poverty.”
“In every moment, prayer was the force that renewed and rendered fruitful his apostolic works,” the Pope said Aug. 8 at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
Prayer is the “origin of witnessing to the faith” in every aspect of life, he continued. The Pope stressed the need to find moments “to pray quietly everyday for our spiritual life,” particularly during vacations.
Daily prayer, he said, is “a way to help those who are near to us to enter into the luminous rays of the presence of God, who brings the peace and love that we all need.”
The Pope said St. Dominic showed great sociability during the day, but also showed great diligence in prayer at night. This practice reveals the saint’s “harmonious integration” of contemplation and apostolic work.
Pope Benedict then turned his attention to the saint’s nine ways of prayer.
St. Dominic prayed standing, while bowing to express humility, and while lying prostrate on the ground to ask forgiveness for his sins. He prayed on his knees in penance to “participate in the sufferings of the Lord.” He prayed with his arms open while gazing at the crucifix to contemplate God’s “supreme love.”
The Pope particularly lingered on St. Dominic’s final two ways of prayer: personal mediation and prayer while traveling.
In personal mediation, prayer acquires “a more intimate, fervent and soothing dimension.” After the Liturgy of the Hours and the celebration of Mass, St. Dominic “prolonged his conversation with God.”
“He lived these moments of his relationship with God so intensely that his reactions of joy or tears were outwardly perceptible,” the Pope said. Witnesses reported that the saint would enter “a sort of ecstasy” after which he would resume his daily work “recharged by the power that comes on High.”
St. Dominic’s prayer while traveling allowed him to “contemplate the beauty of creation” and sometimes caused him to sing a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God.
The saint especially praised God for what Pope Benedict described as “the greatest wonder of all: the redemption accomplished by Christ.”
Anaheim, Calif., Aug 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York called for renewed efforts to build strong marriages, which he said serve as the foundation for a healthy society and a witness of God's love.
As Catholics, we believe that “the best way to get a hint of how God loves us now, and in eternity, is to look at how you, married couples, love one another,” he said.
Cardinal Dolan, who serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, delivered the keynote address at the Knights of Columbus' Aug. 7th States Dinner in Anaheim, Calif.
The dinner, which took place during the Knights' 130th Supreme Convention, drew a crowd of more than 2,000, including dozens of bishops and cardinals from around the world.
During his remarks, Cardinal Dolan thanked the Knights for their vibrant witness to the faith over the past 130 years.
As he looked out upon the audience, he said that he was filled with “awe, admiration, and deep appreciation” for the marriages that are “radiantly” lived out as a representation of the love between God and his people.
Describing Catholics as “hopeless romantics” when it comes to married love, he explained that the faithful still believe in keeping their wedding vows for life.
In addition, he said, we see married love as a “mirror” of God’s love for us – faithful, fruitful and forever.
Through Christ, married couples are strengthened to overcome “tension, trial, temptation and turmoil,” being filled instead with “tried-and-true-trust,” he said.
Recalling that the Knights of Columbus was founded in part to help men better live out their vocations as husbands and fathers, Cardinal Dolan stressed that there is a great need to strengthen marriage in the contemporary world.
Today, there is a “vocation crisis in the call to the Sacrament of Matrimony,” he observed.
A strengthening of marriages will naturally bring about an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, helping solve vocation shortages in these areas as well, he said.
But strong marriages are not only important for the Church, he added. Rather, they are necessary for the entire society to be healthy.
Our culture faces threats to “the very definition of marriage as a lifelong, life giving, faithful union of one man and one woman,” Cardinal Dolan cautioned.
He warned of “a well-choreographed, well-oiled crusade to conform marriage to the whims of the day instead of conforming our urges to God’s design.”
This effort must be resisted, he said, because marriage plays a “singularly pivotal, irreplaceable role” in the “civilization of love” that recent popes have emphasized.
It is not simply religious authorities who recognize “marriage and family as the central, love-promoting cell of the human project,” the cardinal said. Rather, “historians, sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists” also acknowledge this truth.
Social science shows us that when strong marriages are the norm, the areas of industry, finance, culture and government can be better directed towards virtue and responsibility, he noted. In contrast, when the basic cell of society is weak, the civilization gives in to “the primitive lust and selfishness” that have historically been shown to destroy societies.
We must realize that the preservation of marriage and family is the “most effective guarantee” of love, life and solidarity in a culture, he said, adding, “When that goes, we all go.”
Cardinal Dolan encouraged the Knights of Columbus and their families to continue working to defend and strengthen marriage as the sacramental union that God intended it to be.
In doing so, he said, they are promoting “the very relationship between one man, one woman, united in lifelong, life-giving, faithful love, that dates back to the Garden of Eden itself.”
Anaheim, Calif., Aug 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Embracing a spirit of prayer and joy, Catholics are called to spread the truth of the Gospel in a world saturated with false messages, said Cardinal Thomas C. Collins of Toronto.
“Our mission is to offer to our age the life-giving Gospel alternative to the superficially attractive wisdom of this age,” the cardinal said. “And we need to do so persuasively, to get through to people, including Catholics, who are bewitched by the wisdom of this age.”
Cardinal Collins delivered his homily at an August 8 Mass for the Knights of Columbus’ 130th Supreme Convention.
The convention, which was held in Anaheim, Calif., drew more than 2,000 participants, including dozens of bishops from around the world.
As Catholics, Cardinal Collins told the Knights, we are called to “proclaim the supernatural wisdom of the Gospel.”
“Our mission, like that of each generation of Christians, is to make Christ known in the age in which we live,” he said. “But we should not be surprised at the storms that occur when the divine wisdom of the Gospel confronts the human wisdom of this age.”
While divine wisdom is in harmony with the truths of nature, discoverable by faith and reason, it stands in stark contrast to “the false wisdom” of this era, he explained.
This false wisdom which has shaped modern society is “antagonistic to Christian faith, and even blind to what human reason itself reveals,” he said. Communicated effectively, these misguided ideas are attractive “to Catholics as much as to any others, who are unconsciously absorbing the false wisdom of the age.”
In response, Cardinal Collins said the Church must not only to evangelize those who have not heard the truth presented effectively, but also fight the de-evangelization of many Christians.
This hostile social environment can make the mission difficult, he acknowledged, but it is precisely this challenge that Christians are called to embrace.
To do so, he said, we can look to the witness of St. Dominic, who was sent to evangelize in a culture that had similarly rejected the wisdom of God to embrace a false human wisdom.
From the example of St. Dominic, we learn that fruitful apostolic mission must be rooted in a firm foundation of prayer, including Eucharistic adoration, the Rosary and Scripture, the cardinal explained.
“This is not just pious icing on the cake,” he said. “In many ways, it is the cake.”
The 13th century saint also emphasized the importance of “personal and communal example.”
This means cleaning up scandal and corruption, as well as being careful not to block the effect of the Gospel message through our actions, the cardinal said, stressing the need for examples “of joyful orthodoxy that bears fruit in practical love.”
The Toronto cardinal also urged Catholics to imitate St. Dominic’s dedication to communicating “effectively and persuasively,” listening to the questions of the culture and seeking to understand the false wisdom of the day in order to counter it.
Although it is not popular, he said, the message of the Gospel is desperately needed in a world where false wisdom “corrodes the bonds of love, and ultimately leads to a discordant society of lonely people, without purpose and without peace.”