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Archive of October 8, 2012

Evangelization synod aims to reverse 'tsunami of secularism'

Vatican City, Oct 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The 2012 Synod of Bishops on evangelization began its second day with a call for the Catholic Church to roll back the “tsunami of secularism” that has swept over modern society in recent decades.

“It is almost as if this tsunami, this wave has washed across everything we lived by and simply took most of it away,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. told CNA on Oct 8.

“We have experienced, I believe, in recent decades such a movement of secular hegemony that sees the horizons of life limited to the secular world that doesn’t see a role for faith, for the belief that we are all created in the image and likeness of God, that there is a moral order that is objective and that we cannot change.”

The 71-year-old American cardinal is charged by Pope Benedict XVI with steering the work of the synod.  Under the title of General Relator, Cardinal Wuerl is tasked with guiding the discussions of the 262 participants as they attempt to map out a plan for bringing the Gospel to the modern world. 

His role also involved presenting the opening report on the first day of the Synod.

“What the new evangelization is all about is calling us back to appreciate all over again the person of Jesus Christ, the truth of his Gospel and what that means to the world,” he said. 

It has also been part of Cardinal Wuerl’s job to undertake 12 months of preparation for the Oct. 7-28 meeting in Rome. The process helped reinforce his view that the Church has to give particular help to the “two generations of people who were under-catechized.”

“One of the problems we faced in the Church in the United States following the Council was a whole period, two decades, the 70s and 80s particularly, when there was a lot of experimentation with catechetical material,” Cardinal Wuerl remarked.

The result of that experimentation was that some of the classes failed to provide “the foundational understanding of something even as simple as the Creed.”

He believes a significant turning point was the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1992.  The synod falls on its 30th anniversary.

Cardinal Wuerl thinks that the upturn in orthodox catechesis has resulted in the new evangelization resonating with a new generation.

“One of the encouraging elements that we are finding in the preparation of this synod, and certainly in my own experience as a bishop, is that there is a whole generation of youngsters who are at high school, colleges and universities who are looking for answers, answers that are found in the Gospel.” 

He pointed to the opening of a new seminary in his diocese last year as evidence of this new momentum, as well as the flourishing of campus ministry at Washington D.C.’s universities.

Looking ahead to the synod’s discussions, Cardinal Wuerl wants the Synod Fathers to share their experiences of “what is working” in their own territories, which he believes will lead to “a fresh confidence in the truth of the Faith.”

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Italy's oldest Capuchin friar reflects on following St. Francis

Rome, Italy, Oct 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - As Catholics around the world celebrated the feast of St. Francis of Assisi on Oct.4, the oldest Capuchin friar in Italy said his life as a follower of the 13th century saint “has been a blessing.”

Father Giulio Criminesi, 74, entered the minor seminary at the age of 12. In 1957 he began his novitiate at the very first monastery of the Capuchin order in the town of Camerino, and was later ordained a priest in Loreto.

In an interview with CNA, Fr. Criminesi said his life has always been full of joy, in the spirit of St. Francis.  

“I feel fulfilled because I also want to be like him. My path to holiness is to walk in this direction, and therefore I thank God for this,” he said.

“Life as a Capuchin monk is of great importance to me, because as the years go by, I have learned more and more, I have found my path, what the Lord really wanted for me.”

The friar noted that throughout his life, he has aimed to place himself “in the Lord’s hands, always seeking to do what the Lord called me to do. And so no one moment has been more special than any other, my entire life has been a blessing.”

“Being a Capuchin friar to me means understanding what the Lord wanted for me and responding to that call,” he added. “It means understanding that Francis of Assisi, who followed Christ, was my ideal.”

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Pope promotes rediscovering Rosary during Year of Faith

Vatican City, Oct 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI is suggesting that families and parishes rediscover the prayer of the Rosary in the Year of Faith, which begins later this week.

“With the Rosary, we allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ, and day after day we are helped to assimilate the Gospel, so that it shapes all our lives,” the Pope said Oct. 7 in his Sunday Angelus comments.

The Rosary, which comes from the Latin for “garland of roses,” is a traditional Marian prayer that involves meditating on the episodes of Christ’s life, ranging from his incarnation and birth to his death and resurrection.

Speaking on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope Benedict recalled how his predecessor Blessed John Paul II promoted the Rosary in his 2002 apostolic letter “Rosarium Virginis Mariae.”

“I invite you to pray the Rosary personally, in the family and in the community, learning at the school of Mary, which leads us to Christ, the living center of our faith,” Pope Benedict told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

The pontiff prays the Rosary every evening while strolling in the Vatican Gardens with his personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein.

Moments earlier during Sunday Mass, the Pope opened the 2012 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. The gathering is meant to advance efforts to re-evangelize the modern world. He asked for prayer for its success and for the Year of Faith, which begins Oct. 11.

“May these events confirm us in the beauty and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ which comes to us through the Church!” he said, before imparting his apostolic blessing.

“Entrusting these intentions to our Lady of the Rosary, I invoke upon all of you God’s abundant blessings!”

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Vatican's prosecutor appointed as bishop for Malta

Vatican City, Oct 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict named Monsignor Charles J. Scicluna, the Vatican official in charge of prosecuting clergy abuse cases, as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Malta on Oct. 6.

“I’m eager to be with my people and be a bishop for them – which means giving your life for them,” the bishop-designate told Malta's Sunday Times.

He will be ordained a bishop on Nov. 24, and will assist Archbishop Paul Cremona as a collaborator and advisor.

Bishop-designate Scicluna is due to arrive in Malta on the afternoon of Oct. 9 from Rome.

The Archdiocese of Malta has been without an auxiliary since Bishop Annetto Depasquale died in November 2011.

Bishop-designate Scicluna was ordained a priest for the Malta archdiocese in 1986, and earned a doctorate in canon law in 1991. He has served the archdiocese in its tribunal and seminary, as well as in parishes.

He has worked at the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, and since 2002 has been at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In his most recent post, Bishop-designate Scicluna was in charge of investigating and prosecuting sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy.

He has called for greater transparency in the Church and has taken a hard line on abusive priests.

Bishop-designate Scicluna's successor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has yet to be named.

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Moroccan navy prevents Dutch abortion ship from entering waters

Rabat, Morocco, Oct 8, 2012 (CNA) - Moroccan officials ordered a Dutch ship that provides abortions to leave its territorial waters after the vessel attempted to approach the country's port of Smir.

According to Dutch radio, the group Women on Waves had announced that the ship would dock in Smir on Oct.4, but Moroccan warships blocked its entrance.  

The organization later said it had secretly sent a small yacht to Smir several days earlier in apparent anticipation of a blockade by Moroccan officials of its larger vessel.

David Del Fresno y Torrecillas, a Spanish commentator who's followed the actions of the group, said the goal of the organization – founded by Rebecca Gomperts – is to dock in countries where abortion is illegal and bring women out to international waters to provide abortion services.

He noted that the group receives strong support from international entities such as Hiyos, a Dutch non-governmental organization that promotes abortion. Hiyos receives funding mainly from multilateral organizations such as the European Union, the Ford Foundation and the Dutch National Lottery.

Del Fresno y Torrecillas added Women on Waves has openly expressed opposition towards the Catholic Church in numerous documents and statements.

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Indiana priest found after scare in Greece

Indianapolis, Ind., Oct 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Catholic priest from Indiana who disappeared in Greece after telling his family he believed he was in danger has been located and is trying to return to the U.S.

The family of Fr. Christiaan Kappes of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis said he made contact with them in the early morning of Oct. 8. He said he and his translator safely left the country, Indiana’s Fox 59 News reports.

The archdiocese said it is “elated” to learn that he is safe.

“We thank everyone for their prayers and support for Father Kappes and ask that people continue to pray for his safe return to Indiana,” it said Oct. 8.

“We also would like to thank the Vatican and all the authorities who have been searching for Fr. Kappes.”

The 37-year-old priest had been engaged in doctoral studies in Athens on Orthodox Christian theology at the request of the Vatican.

Fr. Kappes' friend and translator Ioanna Lekakou is reportedly hospitalized with some injuries but is expected to recover.

Lekakou was involved in a major dispute over her family’s inheritance. Fr. Kappes told them someone had threatened to kill her and he believed he too had become a target.

On Oct. 1 the priest told his father that he believed his life was in danger because of the dispute.

“He told my dad on Monday, ‘If you don't hear from me in 12 to 24 hours, I'm dead,’” Father Kappes’ sister Nadia Charcap told Fox 59 News.

Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., and the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) had been investigating the priest’s disappearance.

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Nobel-winning stem cell work helps curtail embryonic research

Stockholm, Sweden, Oct 8, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Moral theologian Father Thomas Berg is praising the work of Shinya Yamanaka, the winner of this year's Nobel Prize in medicine, for helping to “put human embryonic stem cell research largely out of business.”

Yamanaka and John B. Gurdon, researchers in cell biology, were awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries about the generation of stem cells.

“Yamanaka will be remembered in history as the man who put human embryonic stem cell research largely out of business, motivated by reflection on the fact that his own daughters were once human embryos,” Fr. Berg, professor of moral theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y. told CNA Oct. 8.

Gurdon's research was conducted in 1962 and showed that it is possible to reverse the specialization of cells. He removed a nucleus from a frog’s intestinal cell and placed it into a frog's egg cell that had its nucleus taken out.

That egg cell was then able to develop into a typical tadpole, and his work was the basis for later research into cloning.

Until Gurdon's findings, it was believed that cell development could only happen in one direction, and that a mature cell nucleus could never become immature and pluripotent. A cell is called pluripotent if it can develop into any type of cell in the body.

Building on Gordon's work, Yamanaka published a paper in 2006 demonstrating that intact, mature cells can become immature stem cells. He inserted genes into mouse cells which reprogrammed those cells so that they became stem cells.

These reprogrammed cells are pluripotent. Yamanaka's breakthrough opened the door to studying disease and developing diagnosis and treatments.

Since this technique can produce a stem cell from any cell, it provides an alternative to embryonic stem cells, which are derived from destroyed human embryos.

“There is every potential for the morally licit use of the technique developed by Dr. Yamanaka--cell reprogramming. No part of the process need involve ethically tainted source cells,” said Fr. Berg.

The Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community announced that this “is an important milestone in recognising the key role that non-embryonic stem cells play in the development of new medical therapies, as alternatives to human embryonic stem cells.”

The announcement of the prize contrasts the success achieved in using non-embryonic stem cells with the disappointing results from embryonic stem cells. The commission's statement noted that “recently GeronCorp., the world’s leading embryo research company, announced it was closing down its stem cell programme.”

Fr. Berg said that “although tissues developed by this process (cell reprogramming) are not quite ready for robust human trials, much progress continues to be made.”

It is hoped that this technique could someday lead to treatments in which a person's own cells are reprogrammed into organs that could replace any failing or damaged system.

Gurdon is a professor at Cambridge University, and Yamanaka is at Kyoto University. They will share the $1.2 million prize.

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