Vatican City, Oct 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said at an Oct. 15 press briefing for the ongoing Synod for New Evangelization that all Catholics must witness to their faith to the modern world.
“(T)he universal call to the New Evangelization … is a charge from which no one can escape if one takes discipleship and Catholic identity seriously,” said Cardinal Dolan. “I would see in it the emphasis that we're all in it together, folks.”
He also stressed the importance of humility in achieving this mission, especially among the clergy.
“To be humble is not just a pastoral strategy but an evangelical demand,” he said. “Sometimes we bishops haven't been. If we're going to be renewed and converted to Jesus Christ, we need to be humble. But also it's honey, in a way. It attracts people when they see humble bishops.”
Cardinal Dolan also repeated a message that he first delivered to the synod assembly, saying that sacramental confession is a cornerstone of the New Evangelization and that it was wrongly de-emphasized in the minds of many following the Second Vatican Council.
“There are some basic messages of the Church that we haven't mouthed enough, and I think (the need for confession) is one of them,” he said.
“It seemed to be a truism after the Second Vatican Council that the council had done away with the Sacrament of Penance, which is not true. If you read the documents, it called for a renewal of it. I'm afraid that on so many levels we just gave up and we said, 'Well, that ain't going over,' so we stopped trying.”
Instead of giving up on confession, Cardinal Dolan urged Catholics to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who “never gave up. The messages of the Gospel are constant.”
And the call to perpetual conversion through the confession is especially attractive, he said, because it offers a personal encounter with Christ—an encounter attractive to newcomers to the faith.
“One thing that attracts new Catholics is the Sacrament of Penance,” he said, noting that young people “will often say that the Church is impersonal to them, a little faceless. But you can't find a more personal sacrament than Penance.”
The whole Church benefits from continual re-conversion and acknowledging the nature of sin, he added.
“When you're in an adult formation group, some people will bring up scandals in the Church in the past,” he said. “We're well aware of the mistakes, the sins, the failings of the past so much so that it leads us constantly to penance and conversion of heart and interior renewal. I hope that's what the New Evangelization is all about.”
Bogotá, Colombia, Oct 15, 2012 (CNA) -
Church leaders in Colombia say they are eager to help in peace negotiations between the government and the FARC rebel group, which are slated to begin soon in Norway.
“What we would do in the process would be to facilitate the environment so that it works better,” Archbishop Ruben Salazar, head of the Colombian bishops' conference, told reporters Oct. 11.
“We cannot negotiate or mediate because we are not a political or humanitarian organization.”
He said the committee of negotiators between the government and the FARC has told him it would look to the bishops as facilitators at a certain point in the process.
Archbishop Salazar said the country would benefit if the National Liberation Army, the remnants of the United Self-Defenses of Colombia and criminal gangs also joined the peace process.
He noted that peace will not come to Colombia with the end of the conflict, but instead “when we heal our hearts, with ourselves, with our families and communities.”
“Peace is born from the rebuilding of the social fabric.”
Denver, Colo., Oct 15, 2012 (CNA) - The beginning of the Catholic Church’s Year of Faith comes at a time when several dioceses have released smart phone apps to inform Catholics and help them live out their faith.
The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend released its “My Year of Faith” app for iPhone and Android systems on Oct. 11, the first day of the year called by Pope Benedict XVI. The app’s customizable features aim to deepen users’ understanding of the Catholic faith, increase their prayer life, and motivate them to share their faith with friends.
It includes reflections and daily updates from Catholic bloggers and writers, including Lisa Hendey of CatholicMom.Com, Dr. Greg Popcack, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the diocesan paper Today’s Catholic News reports.
The app, designed by Little i Apps, has interactive web challenges that focus on a monthly theme.
Megan Oberhausen of the diocese’s Secretariat for Evangelization and Special Ministries told Today’s Catholic News that the monthly challenges encourage interaction and sharing on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. In December, the app asks users to take a photo of their family’s Nativity scene and post it to social media sites.
“If you’re using the mobile app, you can do this right from your phone. It’s a fun little challenge, but it also is a way to practice the New Evangelization,” she said. “And if all our readers and followers are doing the challenge, imagine how many people will encounter those photos and links that day.”
Its website is www.myyearoffaith.org.
In Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori released an app version of the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s website on Oct. 11. The app provides archdiocesan news, parish and school locators, and events and information directories.
“Sometimes people don’t realize there is a school right in their neighborhood,” Archbishop Lori said, according to The Catholic Review.
The free app, developed by the Washington, D.C. firm Fig Leaf Software, is available for iPhone, iPad and Android users in the iTunes Store and Android Store under the search phrase “Archdiocese of Baltimore.”
Bill Glover, the archdiocese’s chief information officer and director of technology, said the app focuses on the functions that most people use the archdiocese’s website for.
“We’re just making that more accessible and a better user experience,” he said.
The app also provides information about the Year of Faith.
The Diocese of Orlando has created an app for the Year of Faith called “Sharing my Faith.” It includes videos of people talking about their faith and their hopes for the next year. The Orlando diocese described the app as providing information and resources to help users “make the most of the Year of Faith.”
The app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android systems. It can be downloaded through the diocese’s website, www.orlandodiocese.org.
The Year of Faith lasts from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013. Its first day, which Pope Benedict celebrated with a Mass in Rome, was also the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
Washington D.C., Oct 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
There is an inherent connection between the right to life and liberty, said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, and the faithful must be vigilant in defending against secularist attacks on both.
We must recognize “that a culture of life is also a culture of freedom and that a culture of death is a culture of oppression, indeed a dictatorship of relativism,” he stated.
Archbishop Lori delivered his remarks in his homily for the Oct. 14 Mass for Life and Liberty, before an overflowing congregation at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The Mass was part of a pilgrimage that drew both local attendees and groups from out of state. The pilgrimage also included Eucharistic adoration and the recitation of a Rosary to begin a Novena for Life and Liberty.
“Indeed, wisdom tells us that the decisions facing us these days are not just economic,” said the archbishop. “Instead, they go right to the heart of who we are, and they go right to the heart of our freedom to put into practice what we know to be true.”
“For some time now, both life and liberty have been under assault by an overarching godless secularism, replete with power and money but sadly lacking in wisdom, both human and divine,” he observed.
Archbishop Lori warned that this secularism “relentlessly seeks to marginalize the place of faith in our society.”
“In rejecting the wisdom of religious faith, in seeking to contain and to diminish it, secularism has at the same time foolishly devalued human life,” he told the congregation. “When man and woman are no longer perceived to be created in the image of God, then sooner or later their lives and their liberties become dispensable.”
For four decades the secular culture has ignored science, reason and faith in allowing for unborn human life to be killed by abortion, he said, and now the “secularist assault on human life” is turning towards the elderly and terminally ill through efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
“Human life is further undermined by the dismantling of the most fundamental unit of society, the family,” he said, warning of efforts to “upend marriage as a God-given institution that is unique for a reason, namely a relationship of love between one man and one woman, whereby children are welcomed into the world and nurtured.”
“All these things have been done in the name of freedom of choice, the right to choose,” the archbishop observed.
And yet “our right to choose to practice the faith we profess, a right guaranteed by the First Amendment, seems to mean little or nothing to many who wield power,” the Baltimore archbishop said.
He pointed to the federal mandate that requires most private and religious employers to “fund and facilitate” contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their religious convictions.
Surveying society, Archbishop Lori noted that “many of the secularist threats to religious liberty seem to hinge on the Church’s teaching with regard to the sanctity of human life,” whether it be the dignity of unborn life or the importance of sexual difference and openness to life in marriage.
The archbishop turned to the words of Thomas Jefferson, that “the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.”
This illustrates the idea underlying the founding of our nation that life and liberty are inherently connected as rights that come from God, independent of the state, he explained. When life is threatened, liberty is also in peril.
In the archbishop’s analysis, secularism has encroached this far “because so many people have set aside their faith,” either by failing to practice it or by “compartmentalizing it in their lives.” As an example, he pointed to “elected officials who say that they are opposed to intrinsic evils like abortion while doing everything in their power to promote them.”
To fight this growing secularism, we must engage in the New Evangelization, working to know, love and share our faith, reaching out to those who have fallen away from the Church and those who are “looking for the true meaning of their existence,” he stressed.
In a spirit of “charity, civility and persistence,” believers must defend the fundamental right to live the faith that they profess, “at home, at work and in public,” he told the packed basilica.
Archbishop Lori urged the faithful to vote with a well-formed conscience and to continually remind elected leaders “that we expect them to protect the God-given rights of life and liberty.”
In addition, he urged encouraged them to call upon Mary, the “seat of wisdom,” praying that they may be granted “the understanding, the creativity and the courage to defend the God-given gifts of life and liberty in the context of our times.”
Lahore, Pakistan, Oct 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Christians across Pakistan are praying for 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, whose recent attempted murder by the Taliban has sparked widespread rebuke of the country's government for failing to prevent the attack.
“Malala is a light among the shadows of illiteracy, poverty and terrorism,” said a group of over 75 religious leaders from the Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh religions. “Her work is in the spirit of Islam and all other religions of the world.”
The Council for Interreligious Dialogue organized a prayer meeting in Lahore under the leadership of its coordinator, Capuchin Franciscan Father Francis Nadeem and Dominican Father James Channan, head of Lahore’s Peace Center, Fides news agency reports.
On Oct. 9 masked gunmen singled out and shot Yousafzai on a bus of schoolchildren in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat Valley near the Afghanistan border. A spokesperson for the gunmen’s group Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan said they shot her for her advocacy of girls’ education alongside boys and Western culture.
Doctors at a Peshawar hospital removed a bullet that passed through her head and stopped in her shoulder. On Oct. 15 she arrived in Britain for specialized medical care and protection from follow-up attacks the Taliban threatened.
Medical officials said she is in stable condition and could make “a good recovery,” the Associated Press reports.
The group of Pakistani religious leaders said they are committed to the growth, education and development of their country’s marginalized religious communities and are against Talibanization.
Two Christian-based NGOs, Life for All and the Masihi Foundation of Pakistan, organized a celebration in Lahore’s cathedral. Women and children lit candles to show solidarity with the girl.
Rizwan Paul of Life for All told Fides that Malala has become “a symbol of unity and peace.”
“Today she is an inspiration to reiterate the importance of education for all.”
The religious leaders were also critical of Pakistan’s government.
“In opposing the Taliban ideology, Malala has shown more courage than the government of Pakistan,” they said.
Life for All and the Masihi Foundation also invoked the case of Rimsha Masih, a young mentally disabled girl who faces blasphemy charges.
“Rimsha Masih and Malala Yousafzai, both 14 year olds, are today a symbol of change for Pakistan: they have given to the nation the opportunity to rethink about blasphemy and extremism,” the two groups said.
“For the Pakistani society it is time to choose between a life of fear or a courageous commitment against extremism. The example (of showing courage) was given by two 14-year-old girls.”
Vatican City, Oct 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Saturday evening, a seven-minute YouTube video warning of the rise of Islam in Europe was shown to the bishops at the synod on the new evangelization.
“I think it would be fair to say that several in the room questioned the veracity of the facts followed by ‘who can this be attributed to?’ and ‘who actually wanted this film to be shown?’” Father Thomas Rosica, the English-language briefing officer for the synod, told journalists.
A cardinal in the Roman curia requested that the film be shown at the synod during Saturday night's free discussion period.
Fr. Rosica reported that the film, called “Muslim Demographics,” “begins with a very uncreative use of special effects” and is “really not professionally done.”
The film tries to show that in a very few years, Europe will be majority Muslim, as immigrant Muslim families have high birth rates and Europeans have falling fertility rates.
The 2009 video claims that “in just 39 years, France will be an Islamic republic.”
According to the French daily “Le Figaro,” in 2010 three to four percent of people in France identified as Muslim.
Vatican Radio described the video as a “fear-mongering presentation” complete with “scary music” and “stark white words on a black background.”
The video shows churches transform into mosques as it forecasts majority-Muslim populations in the countries of Europe.
The European bishops' conference said the statistics cited in the video are faulty.
Synod bishops continued to discuss the film on Monday, and why it was shown. It has sparked debate on interfaith dialogue with Islam and what the biggest challenges are to the New Evangelization.
The European bishops' conference plans to publish accurate statistics on birth rates and religious affiliation on the continent for synod participants.
“So that remains one person’s individual presentation showing this film,” said Fr. Rosica. “Perhaps one might envisage that the film was shown to stir up a conversation afterwards. I don’t think so.”