Vatican City, Oct 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Vatican has reiterated condemnation of sexual abuse following allegations against deceased British TV star Jimmy Savile, who during his life was given a papal knighthood for his charity work.
“The Holy See condemns in the strongest terms the heinous crimes of sexual abuse of children, takes very seriously what has come to light about Jimmy Savile,” said Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi on Oct. 27.
“It is deeply saddened that a person who is stained in this way could in his lifetime be proposed for an honor by the Holy See, which, in the light of what has been learned recently, certainly should not have been given.”
Savile died October 2011 and was a popular media personality in Britain starting in the 1960s. However, some 300 cases of sexual abuse of minors, both male and female, have come to light since his death.
For his charity work he received a papal knighthood, one of the highest honors bestowed by the Pope, and reserved for members of the military and other laypersons. Pope Bl. John Paul II made Savile a Knight Commander of St. Gregory the Great in 1990.
The same year, Savile was knighted as a Knight Bachelor “for charitable services” by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.
Following the sex-abuse allegations, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, wrote the Vatican asking if it were possible to revoke Savile’s papal knighthood.
Fr. Lombardi said in his statement that the honor “perishes with the death of the individual,” and so there is no process for removing the knighthood posthumously.
“Since there is no permanent register of persons who have received such recognition, it is not possible to expel a dead person from a register that does not exist. Decorated names do not appear at any time in the pontifical yearbook.”
“What is most important is therefore to reiterate the strongest condemnation of all sexual abuse, particularly against children, as serious crimes. On this the Holy See is steadfast.”
The BBC, for whom Savile worked as a TV and radio presenter, is under review for its child protection and sexual harassment policies.
This comes amidst suspicion that Savile's proclivities were known and covered-up by members of the corporation.
It has been criticized for failing to stop the abuse, which allegedly happened at times on BBC property.
The BBC is also being scrutinized for its shelving of a 2011 report on claims against Savile which was being prepared for the TV program Newsnight.
Rome, Italy, Oct 30, 2012 (CNA) -
The new website Catholic Link catalogues videos and other resources useful for ministry and evangelization, aspiring to proclaim the gospel with “creativity and ingenuity.”
“We are deeply convinced that our Catholic Faith in the Lord Jesus is the answer today, for all people, of all ages,” said Garrett Johnson, the manager of Catholic Link’s new English-language site.
He said the site invites visitors to “discover the truths of the faith that are literally all around them” that speak to them through sports, music, school, friendship or at Church.
“We try to express this through the diversity of subjects, tones, and sources of our videos,” said Johnson, who is an American student of philosophy and theology in Rome.
The site collects various streaming videos from sites like YouTube and offers commentaries and interpretations. The site suggests how the videos can be used for Catholic ministry.
Categories include videos about Jesus, the Catholic Church and the Catholic faith, as well as Christian life and family. Other topics include faith and science, pro-life issues, apologetics, recommended movies, music and art, and humorous videos.
Mauricio Artieda, a Peruvian communications major studying in Rome, founded Catholic Link in its first Spanish-language version. He said it began “very quietly” in a blog format.
“Very rapidly, many seminarians, catechists, consecrated men and women and people generally involved in the apostolate (the majority being younger) started to write to us saying that they were using our videos and that the page was helping them a lot in their apostolate,” Artieda said.
The Spanish-language site began last year, while the English-language version is less than a month old. Johnson voiced great hopes for the site.
“My hope, above all, is that Catholics, and especially the youth, will realize the possibilities of evangelization that are out there when you join together a spirit of initiative and prayer,” he said.
Catholic Link’s English-language website can be found at: en.catholic-link.com.
Vatican City, Oct 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Vatican has released Pope Benedict's message for the upcoming ninety-ninth World Day of Migrants and Refugees, in which he urged global respect for those forced to leave their homelands.
“Every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance,” the Pope said Oct. 29, quoting his 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate.”
Held on Jan. 13, 2013, the upcoming day's theme will be “Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope.” This title, the Pope said, was chosen especially in light of the Year of Faith he inaugurated on Oct. 11 which marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
“Faith and hope are inseparable in the hearts of many migrants, who deeply desire a better life and not infrequently try to leave behind the 'hopelessness' of an unpromising future,” he wrote in his message, presented at a Vatican press briefing Monday.
“During their journey many of them are sustained by the deep trust that God never abandons his children; this certainty makes the pain of their uprooting and separation more tolerable and even gives them the hope of eventually returning to their country of origin,” the pontiff said.
“Faith and hope are often among the possessions which emigrants carry with them.”
The Pope's message was presented by Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio and Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples.
Citing the International Organization for Migration's World Migration Report 2011, Cardinal Veglio noted the magnitude of the issue: Roughly one billion people, a seventh of the world’s population, are either seeking refuge abroad or internally displaced within their own countries.
“On their existential pilgrimage towards a better future, migrants carry with them feelings of faith and hope, even if they are not yet aware exactly what they are searching for,” Cardinal Veglio said.
“To say that they are trying only to improve their economic or social situation would be to over simplify the issue.”
He went on to note that not all migrants, even if they have strong faith, “consider their journey as a movement towards God.” Even so, they may come to recognize God’s love through the ministries of the Church. This is especially true in countries of “ancient Christian tradition.”
Cardinal Veglio then went on to point out that the message for this World Day is being presented soon after the Pope's September journey to Lebanon.
“Thus,” he said, “our gaze can turn specifically to the countries of the Middle East where the presence of Christian migrants, among believers of other religions, has a significant role in creating the very special identity of that region...And this is true not only of the Middle East, but of the entire world. The phenomenon of migration obliges us to encounter different lifestyles and different cultures, stimulating the creation of new relationships.”
Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, a native of India, drew attention to harmful restrictive measures imposed by certain countries “to hinder access to their territories,” such as “the requirement of visas, sanctions applied to transporters, and lists of safe countries of origin.
These measures,” he said, “have encouraged the activities of smugglers and traffickers, and led to dangerous sea crossings during which far too many human lives have already been lost.”
“Even so, the Holy Father's message stressed that charity shown toward migrants entails reciprocal obligations: Migrants and refugees must be good guests, attentive “to the values offered by the society to which they now belong,” the archbishop said.
Pope Benedict added in his message that through its various agencies and ministries, the Church seeks to assist migrants and refugees out of a desire animated by love – not only materially assisting them, but offering them that “precious gift when she guides people to an encounter with Christ, which opens the way to a stable and trustworthy hope.”
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, Oct 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The bishops of eastern Cuba toured the provinces of Santiago, Holguin and Guantanamo to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, and bring pastoral and material aid to thousands of victims.
An official from the Diocese of Holguin told CNA on Oct. 26 that local Bishop Emilio Aranguren “personally went to all of the affected parishes,” and later went to Santiago to meet with Archbishop Dionisio Garcia, who also toured the affected areas.
“The churches in Holguin were not damaged, only minor things,” the official said, although many homes and fields in the diocese were affected.
In the case of Santiago, local reports described the city as “almost devastated,” with severe damaged reported at the Cathedral, the Shrine of Our Lady of Cobre and the Church of St. Therese. Power and phone lines were also down, making communication difficult.
Manolo Martinez of Caritas Holguin said emergency teams are fanning out across the affected regions of the province and that “every parish is making an analysis of its surroundings so that we can do our best to help the greatest number of people possible.”
The government has also launched relief efforts, Martinez said. Aid from the Church “is coming from communities that were not affected and from the nearby dioceses of Holguin and Santiago, as well as from the national office of Caritas,” he added.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires told thousands of children gathered in the Argentinean capital to “encounter Jesus” in the poor, Holy Communion and in the frequent reading of the Gospel.
Cardinal Bergoglio celebrated the traditional Archdiocesan Mass for Children on Oct. 27 at the Parque Roca Stadium in Buenos Aires.
During his homily, he encouraged children to “seek after Jesus” and to find Him by “opening your hearts,” participating in the Sacrament of Holy Communion and seeing Him in those in need.
“Who told us that we can find Jesus in those most in need?” the cardinal asked. “Mother Teresa,” the children shouted in response.
“And what did Mother Teresa have in her arms? A crucifix? No. A child in need. So, we can find Jesus in each person who is in need,” he said.
After noting that very few children raised their hands when asked if they read the Gospel, Cardinal Bergoglio encouraged the children to say to their priests, “Father, teach me the Gospel.”
He also reminded them that the strength for encountering Jesus “is in the family, in mom and dad.” The cardinal then invited the children to stand up and give “a big round of applause to the Virgin Mary.”
At the conclusion of the Mass, Cardinal Bergoglio thanked the children for attending and those who made the Mass possible, as well as catechists and parents. He also expressed gratitude to Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Garcia of Buenos Aires, who has helped organize the Mass for 25 years.
Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 30, 2012 (CNA) -
A new movie based on the real-life story of a 15-year-old boy who became a source of joy to those around him – despite dying from cancer – recently debuted at the Vatican.
The film “Cambio de Planes,” directed by Mexico native Paco Arango, was released in the country on Oct. 26 and, following its success, premiered Monday at the Vatican.
“It has received acclaim for conveying a very positive, hopeful and conscience-raising message, appropriate for all audiences and for those who believe in God,” reported the Archdiocese of Mexico City's News Service.
The movie, which means “change of plans” in Spanish, recounts the experience of its director with children suffering from cancer at the Niño Jesús Hospital of Madrid, which he first visited years ago.
There he met 15-year-old Antonio, “who shared with his powerful faith in God, inspiring him to direct this fascinating movie that – in his own words – can do much good.”
The movie was originally titled “Maktub” in Spain, which means “it is written,” or “destined,” in Arabic.
The film's producer said if the film is successful in its limited release, it will be shown on a greater number of screens throughout Mexico.
Earlier in May, Paco Arango granted an interview with the Archdiocese of Madrid’s magazine, Alfa y Omega, in which he recounted the origins of the film.
“Sometime in 2000 or 2001, I would have lunch with a priest on the first Tuesday of every month, and I asked him to help me find something I could donate my time to, not just my money.
After thinking about it, I contacted a foundation that works with the Niño Jesús (Baby Jesus) Hospital and began to help out there as a volunteer.”
“When I saw the first child vomit, instead of feeling like leaving, I was drawn to his bedside like a magnet. I began to go from room to room, and I discovered there was a whole new world there,” Arango said.
“All of that began taking over my life little by little. By the second year, I was going there every day, even on weekends.”
After volunteering for several years, the filmmaker decided to begin his own organization, the Aladina Foundation, in 2006. Various experiences led him to believe he should continue his service at the hospital, including one time when he attended a U2 concert in Madrid in which the band’s lead singer, Bono, dedicated a song to the Niño Jesús Hospital.
“At that second, the entire stadium began to shout, ‘Niño Jesús, Niño Jesús!.' It was a sign for me. God was telling me not to leave the hospital,” Arango remembered.
Recalling the inspiration for the the film, Arango said he met Antonio four years ago.
“He was a child who seemed to have overcome cancer,” he said. “The Foundation was in full swing, and so I decided to make a movie inspired by him about my experiences in the hospital, a place where one might want to curse God, but where I discovered what charity and love is, and where I learned what life is all about. So I filmed Maktub.”
“When I wrote the script, it seemed Antonio was going to survive,” Arango said. However, “In the end, Antonio died of a virus. He composed a song that was prophetic, in which he described himself as the voice of children with cancer and in which he shared his faith in God.”
Arango said now numerous universities, schools and parishes call him to arrange a screening of the film, because it reaches the deepest places of the heart.
“It is a film that opens us to love,” he said. “I have discovered a responsibility as a filmmaker that I did not see before. Much good can be done with a film.”
Vatican City, Oct 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A new cardinal-designate said he was encouraged by the recent bishops' synod in Rome, which emphasized an encounter with the risen Christ as the basis of all evangelization.
What “caught my attention in the synod was the desire of everyone to make evangelization not so much a strategy but a living encounter with the living Lord,” Archbishop Luis A. Tagle of the Philippines told CNA Oct. 29.
“I guess in the past decades or so we were so focused on how to do things all over the world – churches were trying to strategize. In itself it is not bad. But we might forget that faith is not a product of a strategy.”
“Faith might bring forth new strategies. But if it is not rooted in friendship with Jesus Christ and the following of Jesus Christ, then what kind of evangelization will happen?”
Archbishop Tagle attended the Oct. 7-28 new evangelization synod in Rome, during which it was announced that the Manila prelate was among the six bishops to be appointed cardinal. The group will be elevated at a consistory to be held Nov. 24.
“It is a real calling, a real mission,” he said, “to share...in the universal mission of the Holy Father.”
Archbishop Tagle will be appointed to the Congregation for Catholic Education upon his elevation. At 55, he will become the world's second youngest cardinal.
“It came as a total surprise to me,” said Archbishop Tagle of the appointment. “But what consoles me is this: The announcement came three days after the canonization of the second Filipino saint, Pedro Calungsod, a young catechist who joined the Jesuit missionaries to Guam and…witnessed to Jesus to the offering of his own life.”
On the recently ended synod, Archbishop Tagle said the new evangelization presents questions not given to easy answers.
“There are many opportunities for spreading the Good News and of the Lord and his salvific presence in our midst,” he said.
“But maybe because some of them are relatively new, we’ve not yet been able to grasp fully the impact of all of these.”
“Some are worried, some are concerned. But we realize, too, that being concerned is OK so long as we don’t jump or are moved to pessimism. We have to affirm our faith that our Lord is risen, he is here, he is very much present, we have to listen to him.”
This complexity “led us in the synod to humility,” he said, adding that the lack of concrete measures by the synod as an opportunity “for exploration.”
“The Holy Father, in his post-synodal exhortation, will give us basic orientations. Now the specific, concrete implementation would have to be done on the local level.”
“The complexity of the situation just merits openness,” and he is glad that there is no need for bishops worldwide to “act similarly, uniformly, disregarding our unique contexts.”
Archbishop Tagle added that he was encouraged by the synod's call to personal conversion among Catholics.
The response to to the word of God “would always entail being renewed in the mind and the heart according to Jesus Christ. This theme struck me as a leitmotif in the whole synod,” said the archbishop.
He is especially hopeful that fellow Filipinos continue to spread the faith wherever they go.
“The presence of overseas Filipino workers in many places across the world is for us an evangelizing moment. And we now feel the responsibility…of giving them initial formation so that when they leave the country they could be equipped to contribute to the life of the Church wherever they are.”
Archbishop Tagle also said looks forward to the Year of Faith – which kicked off on Oct. 11 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council – as a chance to return to “a living encounter with Christ” and for “a deepening of the knowledge of the content of the faith.”
“Faith is a content, and this is an opportunity to rediscover anew Vatican II's teachings.”