Archive of January 7, 2013

Magi were 'men who sought God,' Pope tells new bishops

Vatican City, Jan 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict reflected on the Magi as “men with a restless heart” during his homily for Epiphany at St. Peter's Basilica Jan. 6, in a Mass at which he consecrated four new bishops.

“They were filled with expectation, not satisfied with their secure income and their respectable place in society. They were looking for something greater...They wanted to know how we succeed in being human,” the Pope said.

“They wanted to understand the truth about ourselves and about God and the world,” he added. “Their outward pilgrimage was an expression of their inward journey, the inner pilgrimage of their hearts.”

“They were men who sought God and were ultimately on the way towards him. They were seekers after God.”

The Magi were the first in a pilgrimage of the Gentiles to Christ, Pope Benedict said, and the consecration of bishops at Epiphany is appropriate because a bishop's role is to lead the way in pilgrimage to Christ.

A bishop “must be gripped by God’s concern for men and the Wise Men from the East,” the pontiff explained.

He noted that bishops must also be men of faith, for “faith draws us into a state of being seized by the restlessness of God and it makes us pilgrims who are on an inner journey towards the true King of the world.”

The Magi are an example for the new prelates because they were men of “the courage and humility born of faith.” The Pope recalled how they must have been derided by their contemporaries, as bishops so often are today.

Similarly, “the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous...allowing oneself to be struck and to be steadfast before” a worldly way of thinking.

Pope Benedict then reflected on the experience of the apostles, who were flogged by the Sanhedrin and told not to preach in the name of Christ.

“The successors of the Apostles must also expect to be repeatedly beaten, by contemporary methods, if they continue to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that can be heard and understood. Then they can rejoice that they have been considered worthy of suffering for him.”

He told the men to be ordained as bishops that “if you live with Christ, bound to him anew in this sacrament (of orders), then you too will become wise men. Then you will become stars which go before men and women, pointing out to them the right path in life.”

Shortly after the homily, the Pope consecrated the men, along with co-celebrants Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski.

Those ordained bishop were Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Archbishop Nicholas Thevenin, and Archbishop Angelo Zani. Archbishop  Gänswein long served as Pope Benedict's personal secretary, and was appointed prefect of the Papal Household on Dec. 7.

The new bishops were invested with book, ring, mitre, and crozier, and were seated in seats called “cathedra” because of their new authority as teachers of the faith.

During the Mass, in addition to his chasuble and other vestments, Pope Benedict wore a “fanon”, a traditional papal vestment that largely disappeared under Paul VI and John Paul II.

The fanon is a circular shoulder-cape worn over the chasuble but beneath the pallium. Pope Benedict has worn the fanon several times since the canonization Mass held Oct. 21.

He concluded his homily by exhorting the new bishops to be saints, imitate the Magi and act as stars guiding their people to the light of Christ.

“The Wise Men followed the star, and thus came to Jesus, to the great Light which enlightens everyone coming into this world,” he said.

“As pilgrims of faith, the Wise Men themselves became stars shining in the firmament of history and they show us the way. The saints are God’s true constellations, which light up the nights of this world, serving as our guides.”

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Socialist politician says Spanish bishop should be 'muzzled'

Madrid, Spain, Jan 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A socialist government official in Andalusia, Spain, called for a local Catholic bishop to be “muzzled” for arguing that men and women are both different and complementary.

Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba should be silenced for leveling attacks against “real and effective equality between men and women,” charged Miguel Angel Vazquez, a member of the Socialist Party and spokesman for the Andalusian provincial government.

In a Jan. 4 post on his personal blog, Vazquez labeled Bishop Fernandez “a true representative of religious fanaticism” and said that the prelate provokes “controversies that are at odds with the individual and collective rights embodied in the constitution.”

Calling the bishop’s defense of marriage and the family “backwards,” Vazquez said that he would “rather burn in hell (if it exists) than renounce equality.”

In a recent pastoral letter, Bishop Fernandez critiqued sexual philosophies that hold the differences between men and women to be a social construct rather than a biological reality.

Such ideology, displayed in radical feminism and the push for universal acceptance of homosexual behavior, “destroys the family and breaks every tie man has with God through his own nature,” he warned.

“A series of educational, medical and academic programs exist at the service of this ideology in an attempt to force it upon everyone, causing tremendous harm to the consciences of children, teens and young people,” the bishop said.

The Catholic Church draws the ire of those who promote such sexual philosophies, Bishop Fernandez acknowledged, because it is “emphatically opposed” to this view of human sexuality, “which breaks with God and with nature itself as God has designed it.”

“Herod is still alive and is not only killing the innocent in the womb but also trying to instill this ideology in the minds of our children, teens and young people” by undermining the family and its intrinsic importance, he added. 

“The future of humanity is in the family, in the family that fulfils God’s plan,” the bishop stressed.



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Priest devoted to helping AIDS patients dies in Chile

Santiago, Chile, Jan 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Father Ubaldo Santi Lucherini, one of the founders of Caritas Chile who devoted years of his life to caring for AIDS and cancer patients, died on Jan. 4 at the age of 92.

The announcement of his death was made by the Chilean delegation of the Order of the Mother of God, which he helped to found more than 50 years ago.

Bishop Manuel Camilo Vial of Temuco, Chile, president of Caritas Social Ministries in the country, called Father Santi “a great man, one of the great ones of our Church.”

“Father Santi had a big heart full of ideas,” the bishop said. “He knew how to sense where there was suffering.”

“Through Caritas he learned of the great need AIDS patients and their families were experiencing, and thanks to his contacts he started the Family Clinic,” he explained.

The bishop praised Fr. Santi as a great “visionary” who was able to marshal enormous resources to help in the areas of housing, youth ministry and education. 

“He was present during so many emergencies, lending help through Caritas,” the bishop said. “We could list so many things.  It is a great loss.”

Born on May 19, 1921 in Braga, Italy, Fr. Santi was ordained a priest at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome in 1946. He then traveled to Chile with a group of other priests to found the first community of the Order of the Mother of God.

For more than 40 years, he served in Caritas Chile, becoming the driving force behind the Family Clinic for AIDS and cancer patients.

Fr. Santi will be remembered as “a great disciple of the Lord, a great servant of the people in the name of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, adding that the late priest “translated the Gospel of charity and of solidarity in a very particular way.”

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Pope asks diplomats to seek peace, appeals for Syria

Vatican City, Jan 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict gave a wide-ranging address to a group of ambassadors and diplomats that urged an end to the “slaughter” in Syria and stressed the “grave responsibility” to work for peace around the word.

On Jan. 7, ambassadors and diplomats from nearly 180 countries gathered in the Apostolic Palace’s Sala Regia to hear the Pope’s traditional address to members of the diplomatic corps who are accredited to the Holy See.

The Pope lamented the “dreadful suffering” of civilians in Syria, a country he said is “torn apart by endless slaughter.”

“I renew my appeal for a ceasefire and the inauguration as quickly as possible of a constructive dialogue aimed at putting an end to a conflict which will know no victors but only vanquished if it continues, leaving behind it nothing but a field of ruins,” the Pope said Monday.

He asked that the officials alert their respective countries to help make essential aid available for the “grave humanitarian situation” in Syria.

At least 60,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced in the 21-month conflict between the government and rebel forces.

Pope Benedict also voiced “deep concern” about the Holy Land. With the United Nations’ recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state, he said, he hoped that Israelis and Palestinians will “commit themselves to peaceful coexistence” in a framework of “two sovereign states.”

“Jerusalem, become what your name signifies! A city of peace and not of division; a prophecy of the Kingdom of God and not a byword for instability and opposition!” he said.

The Pope said that peace must be “nourished and protected by charity” and that charity is “at the heart” of the Holy See’s diplomatic activity. He noted the Catholic Church’s disaster relief work, her social assistance to the needy and her educational institutions.

The Pope emphasized that peace is built through the protection of human beings and their fundamental rights.

“This task, even if carried out in many ways and with varying degrees of intensity, challenges all countries and must constantly be inspired by the transcendent dignity of the human person and the principles inscribed in human nature,” he said.

He named respect for life as the “foremost” principle. He praised the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s call for the prohibition of euthanasia, but he noted “with dismay” efforts to introduce legislation that would allow or expand abortion.

He said vigilance is needed to ensure that a country’s laws do not “unjustly alter the balance between the right to life of the mother and that of the unborn child, a right belonging equally to both.”

Pope Benedict’s address touched on several other regions of concern.

He told the diplomats of his hope for “reconciliation” and stability in Iraq. Turning to Lebanon, he asked that the religious traditions there be “cultivated by all” and that the country’s Christians be effective witnesses for peace.

For North Africa, Pope Benedict asked for full citizenship and religious liberty for all members of society. He assured Egyptians of his prayers as they build new institutions in a period of political upheaval.

He encouraged peacemaking in sub-Saharan Africa, citing the violence and the displacement of people in the Horn of Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He lamented the regular terrorist attacks on Christians in Nigeria. He voiced hope that peace talks in the Central African Republic will prevent a return to civil war.

The violent social crisis in Mali, where Islamist militants have taken control of the country’s north, “calls for the effective attention of the international community,” he said.

Pope Benedict’s address also noted the need for economic development and investment in education to help overcome poverty, disease and social inequality.

The Holy See has long been a center for diplomacy and international relations. It has full diplomatic relations with 179 states, the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. It also has permanent observer status at the United Nations.

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