Archive of December 12, 2012

US Catholic ordinariate creates Canadian deanery

Calgary, Canada, Dec 12, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican has approved a new Canadian deanery for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter that will minister to Anglicans and their clergy who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto said he is “delighted” at the approval of the new deanery, the ordinariate reports.

He and Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, the head of the Houston, Texas-based ordinariate, announced the news on Dec. 7. They had petitioned the Holy See to create the deanery after the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated its unanimous support at its September plenary assembly in Quebec.

Pope Benedict XVI established the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter on Jan. 1, 2012. It is a special church structure the Pope allowed in his 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus.” The ordinariate aims to promote Christian unity by allowing Anglicans and Episcopalians to enter the Catholic Church as communities that maintain many of the traditions of Anglicanism.

There are two other Anglican ordinariates: the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham for England and Wales and the Ordinariate of the Southern Cross for Australia.

Msgr. Steenson said the North American ordinariate covers “enormous” territory and it will be a “great blessing” to delegate duties.

Fr. Lee Kenyon, the administrator of St. John the Evangelist Church in Calgary, will be dean of the new Deanery of St. John the Baptist. His church is the first ordinariate congregation in Canada. Fr. Kenyon served as a parish priest for the Church of England in the Anglican Diocese of Blackburn from 2005 to 2009.

He arrived in Calgary in 2009 and entered the Catholic Church along with his parish in 2011. In June 2012, Bishop Frederick Henry of Calgary ordained him to the Catholic priesthood.

Fr. Kenyon is married and was ordained under a special provision for some Anglican clergy. He and his wife Elizabeth have three children.

Msgr. Steenson said Fr. Kenyon has a “superb foundation” in Anglicanism, adding “he brings this patrimony to the Catholic Church with a wise and generous pastoral heart.”

Cardinal Collins said Fr. Kenyon will provide “excellent pastoral leadership.” He offered his prayers for the deanery, calling it an “important initiative.”

Msgr. Steenson said he is “full of gratitude” for the Canadian bishops' encouragement and support for the deanery and for Pope Benedict’s vision for what the priest called “intentional communities of Christian unity.”

 Over the last year 25 priests and 1,500 laity in 35 communities across the U.S. and Canada have joined the ordinariate. There are almost 70 candidates for the Catholic priesthood undergoing formation for possible ordination in the ordinariate.

Peter Wilkinson, the former Anglican Bishop of Victoria, British Columbia, was ordained a Catholic priest in Victoria on Dec. 8. He is the third priest ordained for the ordinariate in Canada.

One of the newest converts is Laurence Gipson of Houston, Texas. Gipson served as rector for 14 years at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, whose parishioners include former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush. Gipson and his wife entered the Catholic Church in October.

The ordinariate recently received a $5 million land donation for a chancery adjacent to Our Lady of Walsingham Church, an Anglican Use parish in Houston that is the ordinariate’s present headquarters.

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Cardinal Ouellet: Cultural renewal in Americas requires Mary's message

Vatican City, Dec 12, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The message of Our Lady of Guadalupe promotes a culture of life and is at the center of the New Evangelization of the Americas, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet at a conference in Rome.

“The fact that she appears, she doesn't have the child in her arms, because she has the child in her womb, it is a powerful message to our culture of death, where many babies die before coming to life,” Cardinal Ouellet remarked Dec. 11 at a small group discussion during the congress.

Cardinal Ouellet is the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He offered his insights at the Ecclesia in America Congress being held Dec. 9-12 in Rome.

“Mary is reminding us that the word of God took flesh in the womb of a woman, and he is bringing redemption, renewal of relationships, grace and mercy to the world, openness to life and to hope,” he said.

Our Lady of Guadalupe does this “with a great tenderness,” he observed, adding that in this apparition Mary is “proof of an inculturated gospel.”

He noted that “Mary” is originally a Judaic name, and that “Guadalupe” comes from Arabic roots. Those two components of her name result in “a message in itself of reconciliation … the Word made flesh is a solution for all humanity and all cultures. It is a gift of God for the whole of humanity,” he said.

Vicki Thorn, the founder of Project Rachel, echoed the cardinal's comments on Mary and combating the culture of death in the Americas, and spoke about her ministry for men and women who have had abortions.

She recalled that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said that if women who have had abortions “come with a repentant heart, the Father of mercies is waiting for them, and they will then become the cornerstones of the culture of life.”

Project Rachel, she said, is not only for the U.S., where it was founded.

“Project Rachel applies anywhere in the world where women have had abortions, men who have lost their children. The only thing that varies from culture to culture is the cultural explanation and how does that culture grieve.”

“But the pain is that of a mother, who has lost her child in a traumatic and unnatural fashion … it is not culture bound; it can go anywhere the Church is.”

She said the importance of Project Rachel is that women who are healed “restore the heart of the culture,” and that men who have been healed “actively take part in promoting a culture of life.”

Cardinal Ouellet also reflected on the importance of unity between North and South America, founded on “the treasure of our common patrimony, which is our Catholic faith and Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

The conference, he said, is “an act of faith and hope,” anchored in John Paul II's call for a “deeper dialogue” and “greater exchange” between North and South America.

“The richness of Latin America is their faith, their treasure of popular piety,” he told the small group.

“When they come to Canada or the U.S., they help to restore or save a Christian culture … they must bring and keep their religious identity, and enrich us with their faith.”

He said the outlook for the Americas is “very promising,” and that a renewal must come “from the faith, from a return to Jesus Christ, and so from the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, fundamentally.”

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In first tweet, Pope blesses his million-plus followers

Vatican City, Dec 12, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI made his debut on Twitter today, sending out a greeting and a blessing as his first tweet to his “followers.”

“Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart,” read his first tweet, sent around noon Rome time from the Paul VI Hall.

He sent his tweet on a mobile tablet device at the end of his Dec. 12 general audience.

His account, @pontifex, already has over 1.2 million followers, with accounts in eight languages. The English-language feed alone has more than 852,000 followers.

He will respond today to three questions submitted over the last week or so, and he has already responded to two.

The first asked “how can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?”

He responded, “By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need.”

In his third tweet he responded to the despair and isolation prevalent in modern culture: “How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?”

Pope Benedict answered that “We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful.”

His latest tweet says that to be more prayerful among the busy demands of life, one should “offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you.”

In addition to English, Pope Benedict is tweeting in Spanish, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Polish and Portuguese. In the Arabic world, 9,600 people are following the Pope.

Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told CNA Dec. 12 that the Pope's use of Twitter will normally be tied to his Angelus and general audience addresses.

“He will also be formulating a tweet that encapsulates the core teaching of an audience or an Angelus;  that's where we'll see most of the normal, regular engagement over the next while.”

He also reported the communications council is pleased by the extraordinary response to the papal tweets.

“The numbers are very gratifying … and hopefully they will re-tweet, so that the penetration goes out farther.”

In English alone, his first tweet has been re-tweeted 43,000 times in the seven hours since its debut.

Msgr. Tighe said his office is using the image of the farmer sowing the seed to reflect on the Twitter initiative.

“In sharing the Word of the Gospel, we know that it will touch the hearts of people, maybe in the most unlikely context and settings.”

Updated on Dec. 12, 2012 at 1:59 p.m. MST. Adds new interview with Msgr. Tighe on the plans for Pope's account and the way the communications council sees the initiative.

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Bishop says Mayan prophecy believers should donate to Church before world's end

Santiago, Chile, Dec 12, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Bernardo Bastres Florence of Punta Arenas, Chile has an interesting suggestion for those convinced that the world will end Dec. 21, as predicted by the Mayan calendar.

According to local newspaper La Prensa Austral, the bishop said that those who believe the Mayan prophecy should donate their worldly goods to the Church.

“If there are many who believe the world will end on Dec. 21, as the Church, we have no problem with them naming us as the beneficiaries of their possessions in their wills,” he quipped in a Dec. 9 interview.  

Doomsday predictions about the end of the world, as documented by the Mayans, have circulated in recent years and grown in popularity. The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., which accounts for time in 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The Mayans allegedly believed that the last, or 13th Baktun, ends Dec. 21, 2012.

To those who are convinced that the world is ending next week, Bishop Bastres said “I assure them that after Dec. 21, we will eternally pray for them.”

“Because I am sure that we will all be alive after that date. If they wish to pass on, they could do enormous good by donating their properties to the Church.”

Adding to criticism of the prophecy, Father Jose Funes – who directs the Vatican Observatory – wrote in the Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano that “it's not even worth discussing” the predictions.

In his Dec. 12 piece titled, “The end that won't come – at least for now,” he countered doomsday scenarios by stressing that the “Word of God reminds us that we are heading toward a fundamentally good future, despite the crises of every kind in which we are immersed.”

“That's because we are assured that, in Christ, there is a future for humanity and for the universe,” the Jesuit priest added.  

“In the depths of the human being is the fundamental belief that death cannot have the last word.”

Although Cosmology shows that the universe will – billions of years from now – go into “a final state of cold and darkness,” he noted, the Christian message “teaches us instead that in the final resurrection, the last day, God will reconstitute every man, woman and all the universe.”

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Advent a time to reflect on God's saving work, Pope says

Vatican City, Dec 12, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Christians should use the time of Advent to become more aware of how God continues to carry out his plan of salvation in the world, Pope Benedict said Dec. 12.

“God has left His Heaven and come down to earth for man; forged an alliance with him coming into the history of a people,” the Pope reflected Wednesday.

“He is the king who came down to this poor province that is the earth, and gifted us with His visit, taking on human flesh and becoming man like us.”

In his General Audience in Paul VI hall, Pope Benedict continued his teaching on the history of salvation, reminding the faithful that Advent presents the Church with an opportunity to reflect on God’s redeeming work in humanity.

God, he said, is “not removed from the world” nor is he “absent.” Rather, the pontiff encouraged, “He comes to us in different ways, which we need to learn to discern.”

In order to better understand this work, Christians must look at the ways in which God is present in a world which is “often superficial and distracted.”

“God comes to us in the things we know best and can verify most easily, the things of our everyday life, apart from which we cannot understand ourselves,” Pope Benedict said quoting his predecessor Bl. John Paul II’s encyclical “Fides et Ratio.”

Christians “are called everyday to see and bear witness to this presence,” Pope Benedict said, and “to reflect in our lives the light that illuminated the cave of Bethlehem.”

The “best place” to discover the revelation of God is Sacred Scripture, Pope Benedict said.

The Pope recounted the stages of salvation history, as summarized in the Catechism from the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden to Redemption through the Incarnation of Christ.

Throughout this work, God “is always faithful” to his people and his “plan of liberation” so that man “can recognize and serve his Lord and respond with faith and love to his actions.”

Mary’s Magnificat is “one of the highest examples of the history of salvation,” Pope Benedict said, pointing out that in her prayer of thanksgiving, the Blessed Mother “praises God’s merciful action within the concrete journey of His people.”

The Incarnation, he said, presents us with the culmination of God’s saving work.

“Finally, in Christ the Revelation in its fullness is realized, God’s loving plan in which He becomes one of us,” Pope Benedict said.

During the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict said he invites everyone to “take up the Bible more often and meditate on it and pay more attention to the readings in Sunday Mass,” he said, calling Sacred Scripture, “valuable nourishment for our faith.”

In celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12, the Pope urged young pilgrims to “learn to love and hope at the school of Mary;” encouraged the sick to find “comfort and companionship” in their suffering; and asked newlyweds to “entrust to the Mother of Jesus” their “marital journey.”

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Ecclesia in America congress participants leave unified, renewed

Rome, Italy, Dec 12, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - On the final day of the “Ecclesia in America” international conference, several participants agreed that it was a wonderful experience that helped them spiritually and intellectually.

“This conference, really seen through the lens of Our Lady of Guadalupe, has been a really beautiful experience,” said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore in a Dec. 12 interview.

The congress was held Dec. 9-12 in Rome, and discussed regional challenges and the New Evangelization, while also marking the 15th anniversary of John Paul II's apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in America.”

Archbishop Lori found it particularly edifying to be with bishops, religious, and laity, all of whom are devoted “to the Church's mission of evangelization.”

He said that the conference has proposed “afresh” the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe and “her perfectly encultured presentation of the Gospel for America.”

“All of us who are charged to proclaim the Gospel find ourselves in the position of being Juan Diego, feeling her love, her care, her persistent presence in our lives, as we go about the work of the new evangelization,” he said. “So this has been a spiritually enriching conference, as well as intellectually stimulating.”

He said that he will return to the Baltimore archdiocese with a “renewed and urgent concentration” on family life.

“Parishes are vital, growing, happy, places when they are made up of wonderfully strong, active families, (so) it's very clear how the family plays this huge role in evangelizing.”

“Young people don't really absorb the faith,” the archbishop explained, “unless they can see marriage as a way of living out the baptismal vocation to love. So it seems to me that's one thing that has to be brought home.”

Dan Zeidler, the U.S. representative for the Latin American Alliance for the Family, agreed that family life must be strengthened throughout the Americas.

Zeidler’s organization reaches out to parents who have had abortions to help them “heal and to reconcile with God and with their child.”

He said the meeting's emphasis on Our Lady of Guadalupe “has been very spiritually invigorating … we'll all be more involved in networking, so we'll also be more in touch and hopefully more effective.”

Curtis Martin, president of the U.S.-based Fellowship of Catholic University Students, was also pleased by the “tremendous desire for collaboration.”

“There's a growing hunger amongst faithful Catholics of how exactly do we collaborate with the New Evangelization,” he said.

Sister Theresa Slota, who is superior general of the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate, a religious order of Eastern rite Catholics founded in Ukraine, also shared what she will take away from the congress.

“After being at this conference, the one thing I can do is share with our people about Our Lady of Guadalupe,” she said. “We have many Madonnas in Ukraine, and we love the Madonna very much, but this is a special gift that I have received these days to be here.”

“The thing that's most important, especially with evangelization, is how we as women carry Christ in us, and how to bring that more and more to our people and the people we meet every day. And that is what I would like not only for myself to do, but for each of our sisters all over the world.”

Archbishop Lori also reflected on the battle which the Church is engaged in, particularly in the U.S.

“We are preaching the Gospel to a culture marked by hardened secularity … willing to debase human life … and an overarching indifference among people.”

“We're in mission territory, let's face it, and the New Evangelization is about taking up the mission of the Church that began at Pentecost, with renewed vitality and love,” he stated.

“Love diffuses itself, and the love we bear is stronger than sin and more powerful than death.”

Alan Holdren, Estefania Aguirre and Marta Jiménez Ibáñez from CNA's Rome bureau contributed to this report.

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Bishops say Our Lady of Guadalupe still brings Christ to Americas

Rome, Italy, Dec 12, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Nearly five hundred years later, Our Lady of Guadalupe is still drawing men and women of the Americas to Christ, two U.S. Catholic bishops said at the “Ecclesia in America” conference in Rome.

“What has been proposed to us afresh is the image and the presence of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and her perfectly enculturated presentation of the Gospel in America,” Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore told EWTN News Dec. 12.

“It’s an amazing story. The more you contemplate the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe the more you see how she speaks to all of America. How she brings Christ to us, and how she brings us to Christ.”

The Dec. 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrated the apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1531 to St. Juan Diego near present-day Mexico City. She told Juan Diego to ask the local bishop to build a church on the site. Later when he asked for a sign, she said his ailing uncle would be cured. She also asked him to gather in his tilma roses and other flowers which had miraculously bloomed.

When he unraveled his tilma before the bishop, it bore a miraculous image of the Virgin Mary in an indigenous style of art. The image helped convert many natives to Christianity.

Archbishop Lori found inspiration in the story.

“All of us who are charged to proclaim the Gospel find ourselves in the position of being Juan Diego, feeling her love, feeling her care, feeling her persistent presence in our lives as we go about the work of the New Evangelization,” he said.

The “Ecclesia in America” congress from Dec. 9-12 marks the 15th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation on the anniversary of a bishops’ synod on the Catholic Church in the Americas. The event has brought to Vatican City over 200 participants, including cardinals from Toronto, Boston, Guadalajara, Santo Domingo and Tegucigalpa; bishops and archbishops; and clergy, vowed religious and lay experts.

The Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Knights of Columbus organized the conference with the Mexico City-based Institute of Guadalupan Studies.

Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver reflected on his own experience of Our Lady of Guadalupe in his Dec. 10 congress presentation “The Encounter with Jesus Through Mary.”

“I will never forget the first time that I stood in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1996. As I stood there and gazed at the image I was struck with awe and wonder but I was struck more with the love of Mary, with the fact that the tilma should have been totally destroyed by now, with the fact that she left her image, her image for us and it was still there 500 years later.”

He said this image speaks of “the depths of her love for humanity” and of her “maternal love.”

“She is with child,” he said of the Guadalupe image. “The heart of her maternal message is Jesus and yet she reveals her tender love in her words to Juan Diego as she says, hear and let it penetrate into your heart,  ‘My dear little son.’ And that is the love that Mary has for us.”

Archbishop Aquila said the Virgin Mary “desires intimacy with us, just as the Father desires intimacy with us, just as Jesus does.” She is “the one who leads us more fully to Jesus.”

Archbishop Lori told EWTN News that the conference has been a “beautiful experience,” especially when “seen through the eyes of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

He noted the presence of bishops and vowed religious from all over America, as well as “so many dedicated, faithful laity who are devoting much or all of their time to the Church’s mission.”

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