Archive of November 15, 2012

Cardinal Burke honors Irish blessed with monument

Rome, Italy, Nov 15, 2012 (CNA) - Cardinal Raymond L. Burke recently unveiled a monument he commissioned for his titular church – Saint Agatha of the Goths – of a saintly Irish monk who was ordained there in 1881.

“Cardinal Burke loves to build and loves to beautify … and this is a monument to this great man and this great event in his life, to remind us where this saint was ordained,” said Duncan G. Stroik, the monument's designer, in a Nov. 14 interview with CNA.

The monument, to Blessed Columba Marmion which was dedicated Oct. 25, is located on the side aisle of the church and features a bas relief profile of the blessed above a Latin inscription.

The inscription proclaims, “Here in the church of Saint Agatha of the Goths, June 16, 1881, Joseph Marmion was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Dublin by Tobias Kirby, rector of the Irish College. Then, after entering the Order of Saint Benedict and taking the name Columba at the Abbey of Maredsous, he was elected the third abbot of the same community.”

“Excelling in priestly virtue and renowned for his sanctity, he died January 30, 1923, and was beatified September 3, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.”

It also notes that “His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke took care to erect this monument in AD 2012.”

Stroik said that the extraordinary beauty of Roman churches is due to the fact that they are cared for by cardinals. Part of being made a cardinal by the Pope is that each cardinal receives a titular church.

“It's the cardinals' responsibility to take care of their titular church, that's why churches in Rome have been so beautified, is because the cardinals are spending money on their churches,” Stroik said.

When Cardinal Burke was given Saint Agatha of the Goths, he saw that “here's a man who is going to be named a saint in matter of time, and there's no monument to him in the church where he was ordained, so that was the impetus for the monument,” Stroik recalled.

Reflecting on the importance of beauty in drawing man's heart to Christ, Stroik said, “Are not our churches theology in stone? Beauty draws us in and affects us … when we do things for the glory of God, it should be our best. Since he is beauty, our best should be beautiful.”

The monument is made of Giallo marble – to “pick up the beautiful rich marbles in the apse” – and the abbot's profile was sculpted by Giuseppe Ducrot.

Stroik said it was designed to be both unique and to fit in with the rest of the church in a harmonious way. Below the inscription is a coat of arms for Bl. Marmion, which features an abbot's crozier and two shamrocks to represent his native land.

Joseph Marmion was born in Dublin in 1858 and went to the Pontifical Irish College in Rome for his final seminary studies. At the time, Saint Agatha of the Goths was the site of the Irish College.

He served as a parish priest, professor, and spiritual director while he served the Dublin archdiocese.

After five years as a diocesan priest, he obtained permission from his bishop to join the Benedictine monastery of Maredsous, Belgium. After becoming abbot, he continued to devote himself to spiritual direction, focusing his retreats on Christ as the model for the life of Christians.

His classic spiritual works include “Christ, the Life of the Soul,” “Christ in his Mysteries,” “Christ the Ideal of the Monk,” and “Christ the Ideal of the Priest.”

Stroik has authored a book, “The Church Building as a Sacred Place: Beauty, Transcendence, and the Eternal,” which will be available in Dec. 2012 from Liturgy Training Publications.

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Dorothy Day sainthood cause finds strong support from bishops

Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops heartily approved the advancement of the cause for canonization of Dorothy Day, a 20th century Catholic convert, pacifist and advocate for the poor.

“I’m more convinced than ever she's a saint for our time,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York in a Nov. 13 press conference.

He explained that before her conversion, Day led an immoral life that included a pregnancy out of wedlock and an abortion.

“Her life, of course, like Saul on the road to Damascus, was radically changed when she became introduced to Jesus Christ and his Church,” Cardinal Dolan explained.

After her conversion, Day “became an apostle – an icon – of everything wrong with what she did before and of everything right about the dignity of the human person and the sanctity of human life,” he said.

The cardinal described Day as “a living, breathing, colorful, lovable, embracing, warm woman who exemplifies what’s best in Catholic life” and shows the Church’s commitment to both the dignity of human life and social justice.

Baptized in the Episcopal Church, Day lived her early years as a journalist as she toyed with communist ideas, attempted suicide and had an abortion.

After a profound conversion, she co-founded the Catholic Worker Movement and started soup kitchens, farm communities and a Catholic newspaper.

She dedicated her life to aiding and advocating for the poor, leading a life characterized by voluntary poverty, works of mercy and Scripture.

Day promoted pacifism and was a staunch defender of human dignity. She also supported distributism, an economic system largely developed by G. K. Chesterton as a “third way” between capitalism and socialism, relying upon widespread property ownership rather than ownership primarily by the state or by a small number of very wealthy individuals.

The U.S. bishops participated in a consultation on Day’s sainthood cause on Nov. 13, the second day of their annual fall general assembly in Baltimore.

Church law regarding canonizations requires the diocesan bishop promoting a canonization cause to receive the consent of his regional body of bishops before moving forward. As the archbishop of New York, where Day lived out the latter part of her life and died in 1980, Cardinal Dolan is overseeing the cause.

Day is currently considered a “Servant of God,” a title designated by the Vatican to indicate that it has no objections to her cause for canonization progressing.

The bishops strongly approved the advancement of Day’s cause in a voice vote. Discussion during the meeting included several bishops recounting their experiences meeting Day or attending her funeral.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., said that Day’s life would be an inspiration to “people that are hard to get at,” such as those living on the streets, struggling with drug abuse or coping with a past abortion.

“All these folks whose lives we need to touch in some special way – she was one of them,” the cardinal said.

He called the cause for canonization “a tremendous opportunity” to reach out to these individuals, telling them that they can not only re-enter society and the Church, but that they can be saints.

Day’s firm “commitment to the social Gospel of the Church and her love for the poor are things that resonate with our young people,” added Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley of Boston.

He explained that after years of pain and spiritual searching, Day “found the solution for all the problems of life in Jesus Christ,” making her “a magnificent model for our time.”

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago commented that the Church needs “pacifists as witness to the kingdom of heaven not being carried away by violence, even as we recognize there are just wars because governments must defend their citizens.”

He compared this dynamic to that of marriage, explaining that while most people are called to marry, the faithful need examples of those who live celibately to remind them that there will be no marriage in the kingdom of heaven.

“Her solution to the injustices of capitalism was the works of mercy,” the cardinal added, noting Day’s criticism of what she saw as the inherent totalitarianism of states.

“And as we struggle at this opportune moment to try to show how we are losing our freedoms in the name of individual rights, Dorothy Day is a very, very good woman to have on our side,” he said.

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US bishops approve revisions to Liturgy of the Hours

Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved a plan to draft an amended edition of the English-language Liturgy of the Hours for use in the United States.

The conference’s Committee on Divine Worship, headed by Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans, had recommended the action in light of new liturgical texts, including the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the revised Grail Psalms and biblical canticles, and revision work begun by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy.

The vote at the general assembly of bishops’ Nov. 13 morning session in Baltimore involved only the Latin Rite bishops, who passed the proposal by 189 to 41, with one abstention.

The preliminary vote means the Committee on Divine Worship will begin translation and editing. It will present a full draft to the conference when its work is completed. If approved, the draft would be submitted to the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for approval.

The Liturgy of the Hours is a set of daily prayers that priests and religious are obliged to pray. Many lay Catholics also pray this liturgy, which incorporates psalms, hymns and readings from Scripture and the Church Fathers. The day’s prayers are set according to the Church calendar.

The U.S. bishops’ conference will decide which elements of the new Liturgy of the Hours edition to replace or retranslate, except for the non-biblical readings of the Office of Readings which will remain in their current form.

The new edition will include changes in light of the new edition of the Roman Missal. Hymns will use English translations of Latin hymns provided by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy, which will also be consulted on translations of several regularly used prayers.

The new edition’s psalms will come from the Revised Grail Psalter, translated by the Benedictines at Conception Abbey in Missouri. Canticles from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Gospel may use the current translation, an updated translation from the New American Bible, or new translations from Conception Abbey.

Biblical readings will be adjusted according to approved texts.

The current edition of the Liturgy of the Hours was published in 1975 and 1976 by Catholic Book Publishing Co., with a 1992 supplement.

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UN report renews 'family planning' advocacy

New York City, N.Y., Nov 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new report from the United Nations Population Fund declares that family planning is a global “right” for women, and calls for the removal of any social and financial obstacles to it.

“Every adult, adolescent and young person everywhere, regardless of sex, social status, income, ethnicity, religion or place of residence must be empowered to decide freely and responsibly how many children to have and when to have them,” the document said.

On Nov. 14, the United Nations Population Fund released the report, titled “The State of World Population 2012.” It is subtitled “By Choice, Not By Chance” and links family planning to international development.

In its analysis, the UNFPA called the July 2012 London Summit on Family Planning a “sign of progress.”

The event, which the population fund hosted with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, secured $2.6 billion in pledges from countries and foundations to provide family planning to 120 million women. It said $4.1 billion is needed to provide family planning to 222 million women who reportedly would use it but lack access to it.

The summit drew intense backlash, however, from critics ranging from the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano to global pro-life advocates.

Meghan Grizzle, research and policy specialist at the World Youth Alliance, and Greg Pfundstein – executive director of the Chiaroscuro Foundation – said the figure of 222 million women in need of family planning is “misleading” and likely overstated.

“Many women have access to contraception and choose not to use it. Social scientists and public policy experts identify women as having an unmet need for contraception even when those women have not expressed a desire to use contraception,” Pfundstein and Grizzle said in a July essay published in Public Discourse.

Wendy Wright, interim executive director of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, in July charged that the summit marks “a new chapter in the population control movement.” She said the summit would use the goal of helping poor women to secure permanent funding for abortion-promoting and population control groups.

Wright said that resources used for family planning could be better directed to providing access to basic health care and maternal health care.

In its new report, UNFPA included some population control advocacy and depicted access to family planning as a “sound economic investment.”

It attributed the growth of some Asian economies to a family planning-driven demographic shift which caused the numbers of income-generating adults to be higher than those dependent upon them for support. The report predicted a $30 billion growth in the Nigerian economy if its fertility rate falls by one child per woman in the next 20 years.

The UNFPA report summary said family planning is “almost universally recognized as an intrinsic right” that should be “available to all.” It said family planning should be promoted as “a right” which enables “a whole range of other rights.”

The report does, however, include a favorable mention of family planning methods the Catholic Church does not recognize as sinful.

“Fertility awareness-related methods are also quite effective if used correctly,” it said, citing Guttmacher Institute statistics indicating that these methods are only slightly more likely to result in pregnancy in the first year of use than condoms and are much less likely to result in pregnancy than no family planning method.

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Pope: World's spiritual poverty heightens need for Christian unity

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Christians must not allow their divisions to keep them from working together to evangelize a world enduring a “crisis of faith,” Pope Benedict XVI told the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

The failure to do so, he said, “goes against the will of Christ, and is a scandal in the world.”

The council, which is meeting Nov. 15 –19, will address the theme of “The Importance of Ecumenism for New Evangelization.” The theme dovetails with the topic of overcoming Christian divisions, which was widely-discussed topic at last month’s synod of bishops on the New Evangelization.

Speaking in the Clementine Room of the Apostolic Palace on Nov. 15, the Pope stressed the necessity of having theological dialogue with Christians who do not hold the Catholic faith, in order to give a credible witness to Christ in a world suffering a crisis of faith and spiritual poverty.

“Even if we do not see the possibility of the restoration of full communion in the near future, (other faiths) enable us to understand the wealth of experience, spiritual life and theological reflections that become a stimulus for a deeper testimony,” the Pope said.

The aim of ecumenism is a “visible unity between divided Christians,” he told the assembly, and the Lord must be invoked to make even an imperfect unity possible.

And even if Christians’ unity is imperfect, it is still needed to evangelize a culture gone awry, especially in the Western world.

“We cannot follow a truly ecumenical path while ignoring the crisis of faith affecting vast areas of the world, including those where the proclamation of the Gospel was first accepted and where Christian life has flourished for centuries,” he told council members.

The situation has grown so bad that many people no longer regard the absence of God in their lives as a vacuum to be filled. This presents a situation all Christians must address, discovering common ground that overcomes their denominational divisions.

The essential unity of Christians needs to be emphasized in order to bear witness to God before the world. This, he said, consists in faith in the Trinity – a faith received at baptism which all Christians can profess together “in hope and charity.”

A truly ecumenical spirit, the Pope noted toward the end of his remarks, demands abandonment to the will of God in order to bring others to belief in him.

“In the final analysis,” Pope Benedict concluded, “ecumenism and new evangelization both require the dynamism of conversion, understood as the sincere desire to follow Christ and to fully adhere to the will of the Father.”

Starting on the afternoon of Nov. 17, council participants will deliberate on the work of last month’s synod and explore the progress of ecumenical work in different parts of the world.

Council president Cardinal Kurt Koch will give the opening address.

In a Nov. 13 interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Koch said he hopes the council meeting will foster Christian unity and aid evangelization efforts.

“The credibility of the message of the Gospel depends on unity,” he said. “The division of the Church in the world is the biggest obstacle to the missionary activity in the world.”

The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity was founded by Pope John XXIII during the Second Vatican Council and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.

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Vatican to address abortions in Catholic hospitals

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - During its upcoming conference, the Pontifical Council for Health Care will address the problem of abortion and other practices against Church teaching at some Catholic hospitals around the world.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, said the Nov. 15-17 gathering in Rome will discuss “the serious challenge of preserving the identity of Catholic hospitals.”

He criticized the “political pressure” levied against Catholic hospitals in some countries to force them to provide abortions in violation of Church teaching.

Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, a member of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, told CNA on Nov. 14 that the issue is especially troubling, given that from the Church's perspective, “human life is inviolable from conception to natural death.”

“If the head obstetrician is not pro-life and family care is not offered, either abortions are performed there or patients are referred to other places to obtain them,” he said.

“This is terrible, but it happens. I think mothers should always be given the best care, so that nobody manipulates them into abortion.”

On abortions allegedly taking place at hospitals linked to the Catholic Church in Catalonia in Spain, Simon Castellvi said the Archbishop of Barcelona, Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach “tells me that there are no abortions at the San Pablo Hospital. So right now, I can’t do anything more.”

On Oct. 5, Catholic News Agency's South American affiliate ACI Prensa posted a video that showed that abortions are taking place at the hospital despite the repeated denials by Cardinal Martinez Sistach.  

The video featured a doctor recommending a pregnant woman be tested to see if her unborn child had Down’s Syndrome, which she could use to justify obtaining an abortion.  

Asked if an abortion could be obtained at the hospital, the doctor told the woman that while “at this hospital we don’t terminate pregnancies unless it is an extremely grave problem,” she could obtain an abortion “if it was somewhere else besides here.”

Fr. Custodio Ballester, the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Barcelona and one of the first to denounce the Catholic hospitals in Catalonia that are providing or recommending abortions, said, “The Church’s credibility is on the line” with the conference on Catholic hospitals.

“We’ll see if they just stick to the principles, which are sufficiently clear, or if they apply them, especially here in Barcelona,” he said.  

Fr. Ballester said the hospitals in question are under fire as well for “genetic experimentation, embryo selection for eugenics, abortion pills that some Church leaders think are safe.”

“In Rome there is an excess of guidance and a lack of concrete decisions on what do” about this problem at Catholic hospitals, he added.

Nearly 600 experts from around the world are expected to attend the international conference.  According to data from the Holy See, there are some 120,000 Catholic health care institutions in the world.

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Vatican office unveils Faith Scroll for pilgrims

Rome, Italy, Nov 15, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - In honor of the Year of Faith, pilgrims to Rome can now share their thoughts about the gift of faith by writing them on a special scroll at the Vatican’s Pilgrim Office.

“Since it's the Year of Faith people are going to live intense experiences of faith,” said the office’s director, Father Cesare Atuire, after the scroll’s Nov. 15 debut. “So we've decided to create this initiative whereby people can actually leave something written down – their thoughts, their emotions, concerning what their faith really means for them.”

Those entries that the Pilgrim Office deems the most inspiring will be posted on a blog associated with it, Fr. Atuire hopes this will “create a mini community whereby we really share our experience of faith.”

Designed by New York architect Isabella Mancini, the Faith Scroll can be found in the pilgrim office, which is located just west of St. Peter’s Square.

The box-like structure with the scroll on top also features a slot for pilgrims’ prayer intentions. These will be collected, read and prayed over at a Mass each month in St. Peter's Basilica during the Year of Faith.

The office will feature clips on YouTube so that people can see the moment when Mass is being celebrated for their intentions.

“This is a new experience in order to communicate our faith,” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella of the Pontical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

He hopes it will assist pilgrims in developing a truly “universal Catholic experience of the faith.”

One of the first to sign the scroll, Archbishop Fisichella wrote, “faith is the answer, not one of the answers” to the meaning of life, allowing for “a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the son of God.”

Another signatory, who signed the scroll as Rosamaria Mancini of New York, simply wrote that “Faith is hope, and it’s what helps me move forward each day.”

A source of information for visitors to Rome, the Vatican’s Pilgrim Office also promotes and facilitates pilgrimages to Rome, Marian shrines in Europe and the Holy Land.

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