Washington D.C., Jan 8, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The U.S. bishops' migration committee is calling for prayer and action during National Migration Week to ease the struggles of immigrants coming to America.
“Catholics have a responsibility to welcome newcomers into our communities and parishes, help them integrate and provide material and spiritual support that will allow them to flourish,” said Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the committee.
“National Migration Week is an opportunity for the Church to remember and reflect on these obligations,” he explained in a Jan. 2 statement.
Begun more than 25 years ago by the U.S. bishops, National Migration Week is observed in dioceses throughout America on Jan. 6-12 this year, offering an opportunity for Catholics to grow in their appreciation for the Church’s diversity.
The theme for this year’s migration week is “We are Strangers No Longer: Our Journey of Hope Continues.”
This theme celebrates the 10th anniversary of a joint pastoral letter issued by the bishops’ conferences in Mexico and the United States. Entitled, “Strangers No Longer: Together on a Journey of Hope,” that letter reflects on the challenges and obstacles of migration between the two countries.
Calling for solidarity and evangelization, the letter emphasizes that the “human dignity and human rights” of all immigrants must be respected.
Posters, prayer cards and booklets for the 2013 National Migration Week are offered on the bishops’ conference website.
In addition to prayer, the bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services is inviting Catholics to participate in a postcard campaign calling for Congress and the Obama administration to work towards comprehensive immigration reform.
There is a great need to institute “a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the country,” the campaign stresses.
It also calls for the preservation of “family unity as a cornerstone of our national immigration system” and for “legal paths for low-skilled immigrant workers” to enter and work in the U.S.
The campaign further urges the nation’s leaders to return “due process protections to immigration enforcement policies” and to deal with “the root causes of migration caused by persecution and economic disparity.”
St. Louis, Mo., Jan 8, 2013 (CNA) -
A new book authored by Dr. James Hitchcock, professor of history at St. Louis University, is aimed at helping Catholics live their faith more richly by exposing them to the Church's 2000 year history.
“It gives them a complete, rich picture of the Church...a Catholic who knows that will have a deeper faith,” Hitchcock told CNA in a December interview.
His new work, “History of the Catholic Church,” was published Dec. 19 by Ignatius Press.
“If you don't know where you came from, you don't know where you're going, and you're not even sure where you are right now,” he said.
“In order to understand what the Catholic Church is and what it means to be a Catholic, one has to understand the evolution and development of dogma, the various kinds of spirituality, the relationship between the Church and cultures, and religious art and music.”
The book is meant both for Catholics and non-Catholics, and provides explanations of potentially unfamiliar terms. It features helpful marginal notes to assist readers easily find what they are looking for.
Hitchcock said his approach to history aims for “honesty” while also regarding the Church as a “major positive force.”
The author specializes in the renaissance and reformation eras, and said that writing a history of such a broad subject as the entire history of the Catholic Church was a challenging task.
“I boned up on some of the fields myself, but I do also rely on what other historians have done...all historians have to do that; unless you have a pretty narrow subject, you cannot master the whole thing, and you're going to have to rely partly on what other people have done.”
Hitchcock emphasized the importance of reflection on the past for evaluating choices in the present. Inculturation – or, the process of adapting the faith to local culture – he noted, “needs to be approached with a tremendous amount of both faith and discernment,” and that while “the word is new, the activity isn't.”
He pointed to the earliest days of the Church, when the New Testament was written in Greek, a lingua franca, and it was decided that Christians would not have to follow Jewish law.
“At each age it inculturates in a different way,” he said. Evaluation of these inculturations are difficult at the time, but “in retrospect,” he says, their positive and negative aspects can be assessed.
Hitchcock included the time since the Second Vatican Council in his book, the period from 1965 to 2010, when he finished writing the work. He said he did his best “to evaluate what I thought had happened in that period.”
The author said that the disagreements in the Church about the Council are not without precedent. He pointed to three examples, the Councils of Nicaea, Trent, and Vatican I.
“The battles went on for quite a while” after Nicaea, he noted, and that even though Trent “went relatively smoothly,” its writings on grace and free will were scrutinized very carefully and the Jansenist heresy emerged.
Even within the Church, he said, “we have a very profound disagreement as to what Vatican II actually meant...and that's somewhat unprecedented.”
In particular, Hitchcock pointed to Vatican I as having lessons for today. He noted that a group, called “Old Catholics,” denied that Council's definition of papal infallibility and went into schism.
The Society of St. Pius X, another group, was formed after Vatican II because of rejection of that council.
“It shows, and the Society of St. Pius X ought to realize, that schism goes nowhere. The Old Catholics sort of still exist barely, but they aren't really a factor.”
At the same time, Hitchcock offered hope for the reconciliation of such groups, saying that “we can find examples in the history of the Church where careful, patient discussion and pastoral concern has brought schismatics back into the Church; this is true especially of some of the Eastern rites.”
Hitchcock also discussed how history can guide the new evangelization. Though it is “still in the process of being defined,” he said that in the past, the Church has successfully evangelized through zeal.
“The first obstacle the new evangelization has to overcome, is just to make Catholics evangelical minded; most Catholics don't seem to feel that witnessing to the faith is something they're supposed to do.”
In the past, he said, “people went out and preached, and in a way elbowed their way into places where they weren't welcomed, and they sometimes suffered for it. But they had enormous success over a period of time.”
Hitchcock finished by reflecting on how Christianity's world-view has affected the view of history itself.
“That history is moving toward a goal gives it meaning. The pagans couldn't see any meaning to history; it was a meaningless circle going round and around.”
“But the Christians said it's moving toward something, and we're called upon to bring about the presence of Christ in the world. It's directly related to evangelization, and moving toward the eventual fulfillment of history.”
Oxford, England, Jan 8, 2013 (CNA) -
A group of 11 Anglican nuns who were received into the communion of the Catholic Church Jan. 1 were lauded for their response to “the Holy Father's summons to unity” at their Mass of reception.
“You have responded, generously and courageously,” Father Daniel Seward, provost of the Oxford Oratory, told the U.K.-based sisters.
During his Jan. 1 homily on the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, he said the nuns put themselves “at the service of Our Lord’s own prayer,” that “'they should all be one' as He and the Father are one.'”
The sisters, who were members of the Anglican Community of St. Mary the Virgin, received Confirmation at the Mass, held in the Oxford Oratory. Together with Sister Carolyne Joseph, formerly of the Anglican Society of St. Margaret at Walsingham, the twelve will form the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“That may seem like a rather grandiose statement to make, and the Unity of the Church may seem an ambitious project to entrust to a small sisterhood. What can twelve women do? we might ask,” Fr. Seward said.
“We might have asked the same question about our Lord’s choice of twelve rustics from Galilee as His apostles. In faithfulness to His call, He can do great things in you.”
The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary are part of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Ordinariates are an ecclesial structure Pope Benedict allowed in his 2009 apostolic constitution “Anglicanorum Coetibus.” They allow communities of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church while maintaining elements of the spiritual and liturgical patrimony inherited from their Anglican tradition.
“We believe that the Holy Father’s offer is a prophetic gesture which brings to a happy conclusion the prayers of generations of Anglicans and Catholics who have sought a way forward for Christian unity,” said Sister Winsome, who had been superior of the Community of St. Mary the Virgin.
The community will observe the Rule of St. Benedict while also continuing many traditions of their former Anglican community. They continue to look for a physical home for their community.
“We are delighted to have a community of sisters at the heart of our work...we look forward, also, to receiving a great deal from their rich liturgical and musical heritage, which is rightly respected far and wide as a positive contribution to the wider renewal of the Sacred Liturgy which we are currently seeing in the Catholic Church,” said a spokesman for the ordinariate.
The sisters are the newest members of the ordinariate, joining many laity and clergy. Several other former Anglican religious have already joined the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, including three sisters of the Society of St. Margaret and Father Robert Mercer, a one-time Anglican bishop and member of the Community of the Resurrection.
The newly Catholic sisters were exhorted to continue their contemplative calling, pondering in their hearts the things of Christ, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary did.
“Today sisters, you can say the same, for you become one with St Gregory the Great, St. Augustine of Canterbury, St. Benedict, St. Edward the Confessor and all those holy men and women who have been signs through the ages of God’s providence,” Fr. Seward reflected.
Camden, N.J., Jan 8, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Auxiliary Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan of New York to lead the Diocese of Camden, N.J., accepting the resignation of his predecessor.
In a Jan. 8 statement, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York praised Bishop Sullivan, calling him “one of the finest bishops I know” and describing him as “an invaluable help” and “my right hand.”
The bishop’s years of service have given him “a special closeness and dedication to the immigrant community, particularly the Latino and Asian population,” the cardinal reflected, adding that he has always treated “every situation with the heart and mind of a pastor, always asking how we can do more for the people.”
“Bishop Sullivan always generously shared with me his wise counsel and insights, based on his more than 40 years of priesthood in this archdiocese he proudly calls home,” he explained.
The 67-year-old bishop will succeed Bishop Joseph A. Galante, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father as the new appointment was made on Jan. 8.
Although he is one year short of submitting his mandatory resignation at age 75, Bishop Galante had requested early retirement due to health problems.
Bishop Galante has headed the Diocese of Camden since 2004. He had previously served in several Texas dioceses.
Born March 17, 1945, in New York City, Bishop Sullivan studied at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., and the Catholic University in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York in 1971, he was named a monsignor in 1999 and an auxiliary bishop in 2004.
Over the past years, Bishop Sullivan has served as pastor and parochial vicar at several churches in New York. He is currently the vicar general for the archdiocese.
In the U.S. bishops’ conference, he is a member of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Islanders and the Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.
When he is installed on Feb. 12, Bishop Sullivan will become the eighth bishop of Camden, leading a diocese that is home to half a million Catholics. The diocese includes the New Jersey counties of Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem.
Cardinal Edward M. Egan, archbishop-emeritus of New York, called the appointment “a singular blessing” for the people of Camden.
The cardinal noted Bishop Sullivan’s “total commitment to the clergy, religious, and faithful of the Archdiocese, especially those of Latin American and Asian heritage and those most in need,” adding that he found this to be “a source of genuine inspiration and admiration.”
Caracas, Venezuela, Jan 8, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A leading Venezuelan bishop called on government officials to avoid manipulating the constitution amid uncertainty over the swearing-in of cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez for a second term.
“To alter the constitution to obtain a political objective is morally unacceptable,” said Archbishop Diego Padron Sanchez, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela.
“The political and social scene, because of the uncertainty stemming from the president’s illness, remains obscure,” he observed on Jan. 7 during the opening of the bishops’ 99th Plenary Assembly.
“Various interpretations are being made of the constitutional norm that governs the swearing in of the president for a new term,” he said, noting that the Chavez administration’s first term expires on Jan. 10, the day that the president is supposed to take the oath of office after being reelected.
“Election day on Oct. 7 would have made no sense if it were not for the purposes of a distinct term of government, similar to the new term of the current president of the National Assembly,” Archbishop Padron said.
He underscored that the bishops’ role is not to interpret the constitution but warned that “the common good of the country and the defense of ethics are at stake.”
Archbishop Padron explained that disregard for the constitution would lead to power struggles, violence and anarchy, making the country ungovernable.
He also echoed national uncertainty over the lack of clear information about the current state of Chavez’s health.
“So far there has been no official declaration by a Venezuelan doctor,” he stressed. “The government has only communicated its political truth, with obvious difficulty.”
The archbishop highlighted the sentiments of solidarity being expressed towards Hugo Chavez, even among his political rivals.
“It has been beautiful to see how the supporters and the adversaries of the president have come together in prayer and offerings to God for his speedy recovery and return, which is best for the country,” he said. “To assume the contrary attitude would not only be anti-Christian but also inhumane and anti-Venezuelan.”
Archbishop Padron concluded by calling on Venezuelans to turn their hearts to God and foster dialogue to overcome divisions and unite the country.
“We are sure we will come out very liberated from the controversial national situation if we mutually recognize each other, if we value our abilities and count on the unfailing help of God,” he said.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jan 8, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI will get a bird’s eye view of the famous Christ the Redeemer statue that overlooks Rio de Janeiro during his visit to the city for World Youth Day 2013.
Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro told reporters that while it has not yet been determined if the Pope will personally visit the monument, “(h)e will take a ride around it via helicopter.”
Standing nearly 100 feet tall, the well-known statue is located atop Corcovado mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park, above the city where preparations for the 27th World Youth Day are being made.
Recently named one of the wonders of the modern world, the Christ the Redeemer Shrine will be open to visitors 24 hours a day during World Youth Day, which will be held in the city July 23-28.
Archbishop Tempesta said groups of 25 to 30 young people of various nationalities will be organized to visit the shrine and pray for the world and for peace.
Nearly two million young people are expected to attend World Youth Day in Rio this summer.
Started in 1985, the event is hosted in different cities around the world and includes periods of prayer, cultural activities and catechesis sessions, along with messages from the Pope and an overnight vigil.
The theme for this World Youth Day is “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). Its symbols are the cross and icon of Our Lady.
In his message for the 27th World Youth Day, Pope Benedict emphasized that the human heart is made for joy, which is found in God and “intimately linked to love.”
Pointing to the witness of the saints, he explained that “Christian joy is not a flight from reality, but a supernatural power that helps us to deal with the challenges of daily life.”
When we follow the commandments, the Holy Father said, we are adhering to “essential and valuable rules leading to a happy life in accordance with God’s plan.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Jan 8, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The personnel files of priests accused of sexual abuse will soon be released by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, cooperating with county judge Emilie Elias' order that the files be released without editing.
“The Archdiocese will abide by Judge Elias's decision. We are now working with all parties involved to facilitate the release of the documents as promptly as possible,” said a Jan. 7 statement from the archdiocese.
Carolina Guevara, associate director for Media Relations, added that the archdiocese “has been committed to the release of the files as part of our continued efforts to inform the public of what had occurred and our efforts to prevent abuse and protect children in our parishes and schools.”
Judge Elias' order for the release of the files was made at a hearing Jan. 7. In December, attorneys representing plaintiffs had argued that edits proposed by the archdiocese were excessive. The edits were in accord with a 2011 decision by a retired judge named Dickran Tevrizian who was acting as arbiter and who had been chosen by both sides.
Tevrizian's 2011 decision had been challenged by the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press. The two news organizations argued that his decision would “deny the public information that is necessary to fully understand the church's knowledge about the serial molestation of children by priests over a period of decades.”
The retired judge's decision was the result of a 2007 “global settlement” between the archdiocese and victims of priest sexual abuse.
“That settlement included an agreement by the archdiocese to release pertinent information from files of priests who had been publicly accused of abuse and who were the subject of the settlement,” Archbishop Gomez wrote in a letter to his priests Dec. 20.
Most of the documents to be released have already been made public as part of the “Report to the People of God” created by the archdiocese in 2004.
The documents include psychiatric records, investigative reports, letters of complaint, and private correspondence, many of which are now 20 years old.
Tevrizian said in his 2011 court decision that his move to allow edits was made because he thought the documents would then be used only to “embarrass or to ridicule the church” and questioned that they would have any “useful purpose.”
In compliance with judge Emilie Elias' Jan. 7 order, the archdiocese hopes to release the files early this year.
“The files will also reflect fundamental growth and change in the manner in which these serious problems came to be addressed and dealt with by the archdiocese,” wrote archdiocesan attorney Michael Hennigan in a letter to the editor published in the Los Angeles Times Dec. 30.
The archdiocese now provides abuse prevention training for both adults and children. Background checks are carried out which include fingerprinting of every adult who has contact with children. More than 120,000 employees have been fingerprinted in total.
Archbishop Gomez wrote to his priests that these are “great sign(s) of our hard work to keep our children safe...we have put in place 'best practices' for child protection that can be a model for other institutions.”
He also exhorted his priests to “continue to pray for the healing of all victims of abuse.”
The archdiocese has been found in compliance with every audit of child protection measures, which have been conducted since 2004.
“While ashamed and saddened by the past, the archdiocese is justifiably proud of the present...every child who participates in a church program or school receives training every year on what to expect from adults and what to do about inappropriate behavior,” Hennigan noted in his editorial.