Vatican City, Dec 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, opened an international meeting on the Catholic Church in the Americas with a homily encouraging creative unity to advance new evangelization across two continents.
“(T)here will not be a radiant and missionary Church in America without a solidarity that is more concrete and creative between the North and the South of the continent,” the cardinal said in his homily at a Dec. 9 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
Cardinal Ouellet invoked famous American statues like Christ the Redeemer on Rio de Janeiro’s Corcovado mountain. That statue’s outstretched arms, he said, “beckon us to remain faithful to the courage of the missionaries, to the perseverance of the saints and to the blood of martyrs who have made America a sacred land.”
The Mass opened the international congress “Ecclesia in America.” The summit marks the 15th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s 1999 apostolic exhortation of the same name, which he delivered in Mexico City in response to a special synod of bishops on the Catholic Church in the Americas.
Cardinal Ouellet, the former Archbishop of Quebec, said that synod marked “a milestone in reconciliation and effective collaboration” between the Catholic dioceses of North and South America.
He urged the Catholic Church in America to hear that synod’s call “to conversion, communion and solidarity.” He said the 1999 synod has been “revitalized” by the 2012 synod on the New Evangelization.
The anniversary congress has over 200 participants including cardinals from Toronto, Boston, Guadalajara, Santo Domingo and Tegucigalpa, as well as bishops and archbishops from across the region. Other attendees include vowed religious, members of the Roman Curia and residents of the pontifical colleges from the region that are in Rome.
Cardinal Ouellet asked congress participants to look to Jesus Christ as they seek to address the issues confronting the Church in the Americas.
“God decided to save his people and to lead them along smoothed paths toward the glory of his Kingdom,” the cardinal said in his homily. “This is why Christ pitched his tent in America, especially among the poor, and he has established his home of glory among those who share his love.”
“There has never been a living Church without a permanent conversion of its members to the Gospel of Jesus Christ; there cannot be a living Church without a deep and frequent communion to the Body of Christ, the gushing and crystalline source of its unity,” he continued.
The cardinal said the challenges facing Catholics in the Americas should be approached “with the audacity of children of God who rely on his grace.”
The presence of the congress participants, he said, is “a plea to the Holy Spirit for the necessary conversion of our Churches to communion and solidarity among all.”
Cardinal Ouellet also encouraged participants to draw strength from their unity with the Pope, who addressed the congregation during the Mass.
“We are pleased to give thanks to God here at St. Peter's in Rome and invoke the Holy Spirit together with Our Lady of Guadalupe and Saint Juan Diego on another stage of new evangelization of the great continent that is home to more than half of the world's Catholics,” the cardinal said.
The international congress lasts from Dec. 9-12. The Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Knights of Columbus organized the conference with the Mexico City-based Institute of Guadalupan Studies.
Santiago, Chile, Dec 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has found Chilean priest Father Cristian Precht guilty of abusive conduct and has suspended him from all priestly functions for a period of five years.
According to a statement by the Vicar General of Santiago, Msgr. Cristian Contreras Villarroel, the abuse took place over 20 years ago.
Fr. Precht is known in Chile for his defense of human rights during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. He was one of the founders of the Vicariate of Solidarity, an institution created to help victims of the regime.
In response to the confirmation of the accusations against the priest, Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati decided to issue a decree prohibiting Fr. Precht from “exercising priestly public ministry for a period of five years, leaving to the bishop to power to extend the indicated period for the time he considers appropriate.”
He is also under a “prohibition from administering the sacrament of confession and giving spiritual direction young people and minors” and is ordered to “live a life of prayer and penance.”
Fr. Precht will also be required to obtain a place of residence approved by Church authorities and must request permission to travel abroad. Failure to adhere to the norms could bring further sanctions, the decree states.
The Chilean priest now has 60 days to appeal the decision of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, in accord with canon law.
“I wish to convey to the ecclesial community the deep sorrow that this and other situations involving priests have caused the victims, the Church, our archbishop and his collaborators,” Msgr. Contreras said in his statement.
“We decided to act quickly to respond rightly and justly to the accounts of the lawsuits filed by the litigants.”
“The Church ought to be the home and school of communion, fraternity and mutual support based on our common faith in Jesus Christ,” he added.
“We wish to renew our institutional commitment to act with diligence, efficiency and above all, with evangelical urgency and ensure safe environments for all persons.”
Vatican City, Dec 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The solution to the issues plaguing the American continent is to renew faith in Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said as he helped open a conference on the Church in the Americas.
“A renewed missionary spirit and zealous generosity in your commitment will be an irreplaceable contribution to what the universal Church expects and needs from the Church in America,” Pope Benedict said.
He made his remarks to participants in the Dec. 9-12 international Ecclesia in America Congress, who were gathered in St. Peter's Basilica after the conference's opening Mass.
The congress’ aim is to improve relationships between the Church in North, Central and South America, and to discuss the New Evangelization.
Pope Benedict remarked that promoting a culture that respects human dignity is a matter of “fundamental urgency” in the American continent due to the “widespread mentality that tends to attack the dignity of the person and damage the institution of marriage and family.”
“Painful situations of emigration” – especially when associated organized crime, drug trafficking and arms dealing – are of chief concern to the Americas, as are “inequalities and areas of poverty caused by questionable economic, political and social measures,” the Pope added.
Although the solution to these problems requires “careful study,” the Pope said “the Catholic Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from the encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth.”
“This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent,” he stated. “The love of Christ impels us to devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming His name throughout America, bringing it freely and enthusiastically to the hearts of all its inhabitants.”
For this reason, Pope Benedict explained, Catholics in the Americas should “take up this commitment” by encouraging men and women religious and laity to “purify and strengthen their interior lives ever more fully through a sincere relationship with the Lord and a worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments.”
“In effect, Jesus Christ's love and the power of His grace must take root ever more intensely in the hearts of the people, families and Christian communities of your nations, to allow them to progress with dynamism along the paths of harmony and fair progress,” the Pope said.
Proper catechesis and doctrinal formation “marked by complete fidelity to the Word of God and the Church's Magisterium” were also named by the Pope as essential to forming a response to “the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart.”
He entrusted the renewal of the Americas to the Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, calling her a “model of openness to God’s grace and perfect concern for others.”
The gathering, which was inspired by Bl. Pope John Paul II’s 1997 exhortation ''Ecclesia in America," was organized by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Knights of Columbus in collaboration with the Institute for Guadalupan Studies.
Rome, Italy, Dec 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Our Lady of Guadalupe is the model for evangelization, especially in America, according to Carl Anderson, head of the Knights of Columbus.
“She is the evangelist par excellence, in part because she enters the world...from the beatific vision, a state of supreme closeness to God,” he said Dec. 10 at the “Ecclesia in America” conference in Rome.
“Her example and continued motherhood of all peoples is a sure path today for the new evangelization.”
The international congress, held Dec. 9-12, commemorates Pope John Paul II's post-synodal apostolic exhortation of the same name. It also focuses on the new evangelization.
Anderson's address reflected on the situation of the Church in America in the light of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He said the situation here is unique because it is home to the first post-Christian societies.
“'Ecclesia in America' is the blueprint for the new evangelization,” he said. Its importance is that it treats the American continents as a unity, and gives not a political vision, but an ecclesial vision for the future.
“Not a vision of systems but a vision of humanity encountering Christ. In other words, it presents a vision of an 'inculturated' evangelization, in which our diversity is sanctified and purified in its communion in the Church by orienting us toward Christ and therefore to our brethren as well.”
Anderson emphasized Pope John Paul II's idea that the core of the new evangelization is proclamation of the person of Christ.
He drew parallels between modern culture and the Aztec culture to which Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared, nothing that both are cultures of death.
Anderson pointed out the similarity between human sacrifice in Aztec culture and the abortion of children and euthanasia of the ill or handicapped, who compromise “the well-being or life-style of those who are more favored.”
He said that encounter with the culture of death “is fundamental to the new evangelization and it is fundamental to the future of the Christianity in our hemisphere.”
Mary is the model for Christians because she “teaches us what it means to receive the Word of God, to contemplate him, and to allow him to bear fruit in our lives.”
“Mary is the 'star of the new evangelization' because she is the contemplative, loving, compassionate, ever faithful presence that allowed the Church to come into being not as a work of man, but as the gift of the God who is Love.”
Authentic inculturation is modeled by La Guadalupana because in her, the indigenous people saw “a true reflection of themselves and at the same time a perfect expression of a new inculturation of the Christian faith. She communicated eternal, universal truths in the language and custom of the native peoples.”
Anderson went on to say that the role of the laity and charitable witness are key to the new evangelization.
Living out the promises of baptism and the “recovery of a sacramental understanding of Christian marriage” are necessary conditions to evangelize.
“The holiness of lives formed and strengthened by the sacraments and lived in total faithfulness to the Church and in commitment to Jesus Christ is the only way to reconstitute a Catholic identity.”
“Let charity be our measure of the new evangelization,” Anderson emphasized.
He concluded by emphasizing the unitive function of the Christian message, which transcends “all cultural differences.”
“We must take the opportunity to find cultural unity through a shared religious identity and value system. The truth the Church has to offer the world does not hinder cultural development, it fulfills it.”
Rome, Italy, Dec 10, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
After spending ten years in a comatose state, a young Italian man named Maximiliano Tresoldi woke up on Christmas of 2000 to dry the tears of his mother, Lucrecia.
In an interview with CNA, Lucrecia recounted how Maximiliano – Max to his friends – was only 20 years old when he was injured in a car accident on Aug. 15, 1991.
He was diagnosed by doctors as paralyzed “with no chance of recovery,” she said.
Over nine years later on Dec. 28, 2000, Lucrecia tucked Max into bed as she had each night since he came home from the hospital.
Overwhelmed with depression and sadness, she didn’t follow her usual routine of taking his hand to make the sign of the cross.
“I just can’t do any more tonight, I don’t want to pray or anything,” she told him.
However, Lucrecia said, “the sign of the cross was really his salvation,” and at that moment Max found the strength to console his mother.
He raised his hand and made the sign of the cross himself. Then he gave her a hug.
Lucrecia said it was the best Christmas gift of her life and that after that encounter, Max began to externalize his feelings and emotions.
The first words Max told his mother after waking up were, “I am happy, I am happy to be with you,” she remembered, adding that he “has always been happy despite his paralysis.”
Further shocking Lucrecia, Max said he was aware of everything during his coma and that he even knew the exchange rate between Italian liras and the euro.
His mother is sure that God has a plan for him: to remind the world that handicapped persons have a right to a life of dignity, that they are a source of life and should be loved and respected.
She noted that Max was born on Sept. 8 – the feast of the Nativity of Mary – and his car accident happened on Aug.15, the feast of the Assumption.
Lucrecia said the first miracle God worked in her was to help her accept what was happening right away and to put her son in the Lord’s hands.
“On the day of the accident, I told Our Lady: 'On Aug. 15 my son was in your hands. You had him born on Sept. 8 even though he was supposed to be born a month later, and I don’t know what plans you have for him, but I put him in your hands,” Lucrecia said.
“Just give me the strength to move forward and accept all this.”
She reflected that she had always been a fragile woman, but that the faith is what kept her close to her family.
“For this reason this is the strength that we have to give to all the families who are experiencing this terrible tragedy and tell them, 'Do not be afraid,'” she said.
Lucrecia has recounted Max’s entire story in a new book entitled, “E addeso vado al Max,” which she co-wrote with Italian journalists Lucia Bellaspiga and Pino Ciociola. The book received the 2012 Woman in Life literary award.
Max received his own award: a ceramic sculpture by artist Gianni Celano Giannici representing the same hand that he raised to make the sign of cross after ten years in a coma.
On June 2 of this year, Max met Pope Benedict XVI in Milan and gave him a signed copy of the book.