Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Dec 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity said he hopes World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro will have a lasting effect on the hundreds of thousands of young people slated to attend.
Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko made his remarks in Brazil before a group of delegates from 75 countries and 40 movements in preparation for the global youth event which will take place July 23-28 next summer.
“Let us live this time of preparation with joy and enthusiasm, despite the difficulties,” so that World Youth Day will not be “a fire lasting only a few days,” but instead “a long-term sowing that bears fruit for life,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Rylko noted that Pope Benedict is following preparations “with particular attention,” and told the delegates that remain joyful in confronting their challenges, “in order to bring young people to Christ and to bring Christ to young people.”
During remarks to open the preparatory meetings on Nov. 26, Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Rio cited the words of Pope Paul VI at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council and invited the delegates “to take up the flame of the faith and pass it on to your contemporaries.”
“Be missionaries yourselves first. Evangelize your friends,” he told them.
Mayor Eduardo da Costa Paes of Rio added that the vigil and final Mass for World Youth Day will be held at Guaratiba, which is west of the city and has room for two and half million people.
Organizers also announced that the event will include a vocations fair where over 158 movements and lay associations will introduce young people to their charisms. There will also be 200 stations for confessions, as well as a Eucharistic adoration tent.
The John Paul II Foundation for Young People, in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Rio, will also organize an art expo June 11 - Sept. 15 at the National Museum of Fine Art.
Vatican City, Dec 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pope's Twitter account will be @pontifex and will start on Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Vatican representatives announced.
The news of the 85-year-old tweeting came out weeks ago, but officials finally revealed the account's name and that it will be launched on the Marian feast day, which they said was a coincidence.
But instead of informing people of his favorite band and other trivia, the Pope’s goal will be to impart spiritual messages to people around the globe.
The official announcement of the account was made at a Dec. 3 news conference.
Greg Burke, who was recently appointed media advisor to the Holy See's Secretary of State, explained that the name was chosen because pontifex means both “Pope and bridge builder,” and the Holy Father desires to reach out to everyone with the initiative.
On Dec. 12, Pope Benedict will personally tweet, but after that assistants will tweet content he approves.
"They will be his words and no one will be putting words in his mouth," Burke explained. "My personal input will be to see that it happens as often as possible.”
Security will be dealt with if any problems occur, Burke said, adding that it’s an issue that the Vatican website deals with on a daily basis.
"There are many imitators out there - some of them are good willed, some of them are not," he said.
The initiative will not cost the Vatican much money since they already have the manpower.
The Pope’s account is expected to be launched at around noon, after the weekly general audience, and the inaugural day will feature answers to a handful of chosen questions related to faith, in honor of the ongoing Year of Faith.
"I think it's a great means, despite the fact that the Vatican has been cautious about doing it with the Pope, because it's one thing for a movie star or soccer player to do it and it's another thing for the Pope to put his name on tweets," Burke said.
"But I still think it's a great way to reach a whole lot of people, and the more we can do it, the better."
The account will include tweets in seven languages besides English. Those languages are Spanish, Arabic, German, Polish, French, Portuguese and Italian.
The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, said that he "loves it that the Pope will have a Twitter account, and it's going to portray what he carries in his heart."
"He wants to be, in a discrete way, involved in man's search for answering questions," Archbishop Celli remarked. "He has a desire to dialogue with man and help him find again a meaning for his own life."
But critics question how the Pope's messages can be reduced to only 140 characters.
"That's not my problem," Archbishop Celli replied. "My problem is to give a profound human depth to our communication," he added.
"I don't want to give an excessive tribute to modernity nor advertise Twitter, but it's our desire to enter into dialogue with the men and women of today."
Currently with 1 billion people or one-seventh of the world’s population uses Facebook, in contrast with Twitter's 500 million users.
But Burke thinks that Pope Benedict XVI will reach more people this way and that a Facebook account would be "too personal."
"I would be surprised if someone like the Pope who speaks so much publicly didn't have a Twitter account," he said.
"His page will change from time to time depending on the season, so now it'll be related to Advent," added Burke.
The Secretary of State media advisor also foresees the Twitter account being “extremely helpful to follow up on emergencies.”
Archbishop Celli noted that most Twitter users are aged 18 to 34, and that the Pope wants to better engage with that segment of the population.
Pope Benedict's English-language Twitter account had 158,000 followers as of Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. Rome time.
Sao Paulo, Brazil, Dec 3, 2012 (CNA) -
The Brazilian soccer team Corinthians received a special blessing from a local priest before traveling to Japan for the 2012 Club World Cup that will take place Dec. 6-16.
The players spent a few moments in silence and listened to an exhortation from Father Marcelo Rossi before praying an Our Father and a Hail Mary.
They met for prayer at the Corinthians Ecumenical Church, where they also gathered last July with Fr. Rossi to pray after their victory over Boca Juniors of Argentina in the Libertadores Cup. The team's coach, Adenor Leonardo Bacchi, who is Catholic, thanked Our Lady of Aparecida, the patroness of Brazil, for the title.
Bacchi was photographed kneeling in a prayer of thanksgiving before a small statue of Our Lady of Aparecida kept on a make-shift altar.
He attends Fr. Rossi's Mass each week and invited the priest to give the team a blessing for their trip to Japan.
Fr. Rossi recently inaugurated the massive Mother of God Shrine in the Diocese of Santo Amaro south of Sao Paulo. Between the shrine and the square outside, it can hold nearly 100,000.
Washington D.C., Dec 3, 2012 (CNA) - Top pro-life advocates are calling on the Republican Party to maintain its pro-life stance despite calls from some to back off from the position in the wake of the presidential election.
“A real soldier doesn’t stay on the defensive,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which works to promote pro-life candidates and policies. “You go out and state your best case.”
“The folks that have taken the stand on this issue have taken it because we're talking about defending vulnerable human life,” she told CNA on Nov. 30. “If it's not about that, it's not about anything.”
Dannenfelser was one of several pro-life leaders who responded to suggestions by some Republicans, including Arizona senator John McCain, that the GOP should drop or mitigate its pro-life stance in order to broaden its appeal after losing the presidential election.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday” on Nov. 25, the senator – who unsuccessfully ran for president against Barack Obama in 2008 – suggested that while “I can state my position on abortion,” Republicans should “other than that, leave the issue alone when we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation that we’re in.”
When asked by host Chris Wallace whether his suggestion to “leave the issue alone” meant allowing “freedom of choice” to abort, McCain responded, “I would allow people to have those opinions and respect those opinions.”
“I’m proud of my pro-life position and record, but if someone disagrees with me, I respect your views,” he said.
Pro-life advocates immediately rejected such suggestions, arguing that the adamant support of life is both a winning battle and the right thing to do.
Dannenfelser pointed to the historic words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s loss on Election Day should not be attributed to his opposition to abortion, said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, and Brendan O'Morchoe, the organization’s national field operations director.
In a Nov. 12 blog post on the group’s website, Hawkins and O'Morchoe responded to pundits who were already blaming Romney’s loss on his support of life.
They pointed to a FOX News exit poll from election night showing that 59 percent of voters supported legal abortion and only 36 percent opposed it.
These numbers do not reflect Gallup’s recent poll showing that the majority of Americans are pro-life, they said. Rather, the low turnout shows that pro-lifers did not vote.
They suggested that Romney’s relative silence on the subject hurt him at the ballot box, noting that while he said he would de-fund Planned Parenthood and sign pro-life legislation, he did not match the Democratic Party’s heavy emphasis on the subject.
“If the Republican Party had made any effort to highlight President Obama’s extreme pro-abortion record, we believe the results of this election would have been much different,” they said.
The grim reality of resistance within both parties points to the realization that the pro-life movement must not rely on politicians in the nation’s capital, they said. Rather, it must continue working to change the culture.
“Our mission of abolishing abortion in our lifetime still stands,” they stated. “It will happen in our lifetime. Culture shapes politics, and our culture is becoming pro-life.”
Vatican City, Dec 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Vatican court said in a detailed sentence issued Dec. 1 that the testimony given by the computer technician Claudio Sciarpelletti was neither “credible” nor “truthful.”
The sentence was handed down Nov. 10, and was filed Dec. 1, as the final installment of the “Vatileaks” saga. It is not unusual for Italian courts to deposit sentences weeks after the handing down of a verdict.
The court found the computer technician guilty of aiding and abetting former butler to the Pope, Paolo Gabriele, in his theft of sensitive documents.
Sciarpelletti was originally sentenced to four months in prison, but his sentence was reduced two months due to extenuating circumstances.
His sentence came as part of the Vatican’s investigation into the theft of private documents belonging to Pope Benedict, which were then leaked to a journalist who published them in a best-selling book.
Gabriele was given an 18-month prison sentence in a separate trial, which ended in October. He is serving out his sentence in a Vatican Gendarmerie prison cell.
Sciarpelletti, 48, was arrested for a short time in May after his lawyer said an anonymous tip led to the search of his desk. An envelope was found addressed to Gabriele containing copies of documents that had been leaked to the Italian media.
Gianluca Benedetti, who represented Sciarpelletti in the case, argued in court that his client was in an “emotional state” when he gave confused and contradictory testimony to investigators, leading to the charges leveled against him.
The sentence records that Sciarpelletti changed his story a number of times about how secret documents came into his possession, and that his testimony was neither “credible” nor “truthful.”
When asked about his changing story at his trial, Sciarpelletti said he had the document so long that he forgot where it came from. His changing story led to the prosecutor seeking obstruction charges.
The testimony of both Gabriele and Monsignor Carlo M. Polvani, Sciarpelletti's superior, were deemed to be more credible and consistent than his.
Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre noted the computer technician’s long years of service at the Vatican, but he said the court concluded Sciarpelletti had helped Gabriele “elude the investigations of the authorities” at the Vatican.
The judge ordered that the computer technician’s criminal conviction not appear on his permanent record.
Los Angeles, Calif., Dec 3, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
An outdoor procession for Our Lady of Guadalupe held Sunday in Los Angeles attracted 25,000 participants to venerate the Virgin and to express their Catholic faith.
“We want to learn from the example of faith of our Blessed Mother, as Jesus did. Jesus learned his prayers and the practice of his faith from his Mother and from Saint Joseph,” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez told the crowd assembled for Mass following the Dec. 2 procession.
“This is an example for you, my brothers and sisters! You need to be good teachers, good role models for your children...share the stories of the Gospel and the beautiful apparition of Tepeyac. Teach them how to be generous and to love.”
Despite a rainy day, thousands of people came to process through East Los Angeles from Our Lady of Solitude parish to the Mass at East Los Angeles College Stadium. This was the 81st annual procession, which was started by Mexican Catholics fleeing government persecution in 1931.
“We also remembered the Cristeros as examples, because of the sacrifices they made for their faith, giving up their lives for their faith and for Christ,” Carolina Guevara, associate communications director at the Los Angeles archdiocese, told CNA Dec. 3.
She recounted that a woman whose father was a Cristero martyr participated in the Mass, which was a marker of how Our Lady of Guadalupe “unites us in our faith.”
The procession is held every year on the First Sunday of Advent as an archdiocese-wide celebration. This is to allow each parish to have their own Mass and mananitas for La Guadalupana on her Dec. 12 feast day, while also having a large inter-parish celebration.
For the first time this year, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels will celebrate a midnight Mass in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as is done at her basilica in Mexico City. This will be preceded by indigenous dancers outside the cathedral, and then a concert in the nave at 10 p.m. on Dec. 11.
“The importance of this procession is the celebration of our faith and that our Blessed Mother unites us in our faith and reminds us that we are all children of God. Regardless of where we come from, we are all united in faith and are all part of God's family,” Guevara observed.
“So in Los Angeles we have this celebration that's not just for the Mexican community; we have faithful from throughout our ethnic communities that come out in celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
The procession and Mass were a bilingual event, and featured veneration of Our Lady's image with roses, decorated floats and cars telling the story of the apparition, equestrian groups, mariachi, and indigenous dancers.
Guevara said the tradition of public processions is important because they are “expressions of faith.”
“You can see in this procession the time and care and love that's put into it...we're seeing the love that our community of faith has for Our Lady of Guadalupe, and we're seeing an example of...living faith here in our Catholic community.”
Archbishop Gomez noted the first Sunday of Advent in his homily, reminding that the season is one of hoping “for the baby Jesus...for the Son of God.”
But the season also looks forward to Christ's second coming glory, he said.
“Jesus wants us to be ready. He wants us to be ready to to meet him when he comes again. Ready to meet him at the end of our lives.”
“How are you living? Are you living like Jesus wants you to live? Are you living according to his teachings? This is a good question to ask yourself at the start of Advent,” concluded Archbishop Gomez.