Vatican City, Feb 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI's anticipated encyclical on faith will not be released before his resignation but it may appear in another form, according to the head of the Holy See's press office.
“It remains an awaited document, but one that we will not have in the way we expected, perhaps we will have it in a different way,” Father Federico Lombardi said at a Feb. 12 press meeting.
The encyclical, he added, “will not be published before the end of the month, it was not in a state to be made public.”
An encyclical on faith was expected sometime in the first six months of this year, to coincide with the Year of Faith. It was to have formed a trilogy of encyclicals on the theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.
Pope Benedict released two encyclicals on charity and hope – “Deus Caritas est” in 2006 and “Spe salvi” in 2007, respectively – during his pontificate. In 2009, he also published a social encyclical in the tradition of Leo XIII's “Rerum novarum,” called “Caritas in veritate.”
Speaking to CNA days before Pope Benedict's decision to resign was announced, the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, said the Pope was “working on a new encyclical on the faith” and that “we expect it will be published during the Year of Faith.
The “different way” in which the text might be released includes the possibility that it could be published not as an encyclical but as a personal writing of the Pope Emeritus.
Alternatively, the next Bishop of Rome might take up where Pope Benedict left off. It was reported that “Deus Caritas est” was based in part on unfinished writings of John Paul II.
In October, a high-ranking curial official told “Vatican Insider” that the text, even unfinished, “is beautiful.”
“Benedict XVI manages to express even the most complex and very deep truths using simple language which has a widespread reach that goes beyond all imagination,” the official said.
A Nov. 11 article at “Vatican Insider” further reported that the text was to have focused on the centrality of the Paschal mystery – Christ's death and resurrection – to the virtue of faith.
Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Civil Rights activist Reverend Bill Owens has joined with the National Organization for Marriage to promote and lead the March for Marriage occurring in Washington, D.C. next month.
“Gay activists are wrong to claim the mantle of the civil rights movement in their push to redefine marriage for all – the most important civil right related to marriage is the right of every child to a mother and father,” said Rev. Owens in a Feb. 25 statement.
Owens is the founder of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, a group that describes itself as “a grass-roots movement of Christians who believe in traditional family values such as supporting the role of religion in American public life, protecting the lives of the unborn, and defending the sacred institution of marriage.”
He also was a participant in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s in Nashville Tennessee.
The March for Marriage will occur on March 26 in D.C. as oral arguments on two cases challenging the legality of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act begin before the U.S. Supreme Court. Regardless of the outcome, these cases are expected to be landmark on the issue of gay marriage.
The National Organization for Marriage is also sponsoring the march, alongside several other organizations such as the Family Research Council, the American Principles Project, and Catholic Family and Human Rights.
“We plan to rally at the National Mall and march to the Supreme Court to stand up for the true civil rights movement and against these new efforts to claim an unthinkable right – the 'right' to redefine marriage for everyone,” Rev. Owens said.
In his statement, the pastor touched on the dissonance between the Civil Rights Movement and the push for the institutionalization of same-sex “marriage,” stressing that the “most important” civil right is the one of children, who are entitled to both a father and mother.
“I marched in the civil rights movement, and I did not walk a single step for gay marriage when I marched for civil rights,” he recalled.
“I will march again and the Coalition of African American pastors will march to honor the civil rights movement and to honor the sacred institution of marriage.”
Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - At the heart of the national debate on same-sex unions is a fundamental disagreement on the nature of marriage, said a participant in a recent discussion at Harvard Law School.
Arguments in favor of redefining marriage are simply “wrong about what marriage is,” explained debater Sherif Girgis.
He added that enshrining same-sex “marriage” in law “would be harmful for the common good, and in particular for the common goods that get government involved in marriage in the first place.”
Girgis is a law student at Yale Law School as well as a PhD. candidate at Princeton University. He recently co-authored the book “What is Marriage” alongside Professor Robert George of Princeton University and Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation.
Challenging him in the debate was Professor Andrew Koppelman, who teaches law and politics at Northwestern University.
The discussion, sponsored by the Harvard Federalist Society, was held at Harvard Law School on Jan. 31 and aired on C-SPAN on Feb. 19.
Koppelman presented arguments in favor same-sex “marriage” and criticized Girgis’ book for being “so novel and esoteric,” joking that the audience of Harvard Law students was “still trying to get it.”
He added that “marriage is not essentially anything,” saying that social norms by nature “evolve,” and that marriage is no different.
Girgis, however, observed that nearly every government and society throughout history have been involved in regulating marriage.
Governments typically do not regulate intimate relationships such as friendships, he noted. Marriage is an exception, he said, because it is an institution that offers key services to society, namely the provision, care and education of a new generation of citizens.
It is because of “the social need to promote those stabilizing norms” that governments oversee marriage, he explained.
Girgis also warned of the social harm that would follow a redefinition of marriage, saying that in debates on this topic, people should be aware of the “implications for the future, and for future marriages in particular.”
While no-fault divorce was hailed as an acceptable and harmless way of ending high-conflict marriages, the author said, “it changed people’s understanding of what they were getting into” and resulted in an end to many medium-conflict unions.
The causalities of this arrangement were children who experience split homes or were raised with an absent parent, he said.
The normalization of same-sex unions “teaches that mothers and fathers are replaceable in terms of parenting” and will likely lead to an increase in children who do not know at least one of their biological parents, he observed.
Girgis critiqued “the main vision of marriage” espoused within society that defines marriage as primarily an emotional union.
He explained that while it is consistent for that view to accept same-sex partnerships as marriage, that view is unable to explain “less controversial features that we all agree set marriage from other bonds,” such as monogamy and exclusivity.
Furthermore, he said, in making emotion the determining characteristic of marriage, there is no reason for it to require a “pledge of permanence,” and there is no logical reason to prevent marriage from being extended to multiple partners or non-sexual partners who share an emotional bond.
Instead, Girgis suggested a definition of marriage based upon “complementarity,” or the ability of spouses to bear and raise children, saying that this definition of marriage with the family at its core explains other attributes associated with the institution, such as permanence, monogamy and the sexual relationship of the spouses.
He said that the common contemporary understanding of marriage “suggests that the norm of sexual complementarity is arbitrary,” but if one accepts that a man and woman’s ability to bear children is unnecessary for the institution, “then so is permanence, so is monogamy.”
In addition, Girgis commented on the appeal of redefining marriage as a way to combat anti-gay bias and unjust discrimination against those who have same-sex attractions.
While he agreed that injustice must be countered, he warned against using marriage to do so, cautioning that such a move would have devastating harmful consequences.
Rather than changing the definition of a timeless and foundational social institution, he said, “I think the answer to bullying is to fight bullying, the answer to prejudice is to affirm the equal dignity of every human being.”
Vatican City, Feb 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Benedict XVI told the 150,000 people who came to his final general audience that he is filled with trust and peace as he prepares to resign, because the Church is not his but God’s and he will “not let it sink.”
“In this moment,” the Pope said, “there is in me a great trust because I know, we all know, that the Word of truth of the Gospel is the strength of the Church, it is her life. … This is my trust, this is my joy.”
The Pope made his way through St. Peter’s Square in his popemobile and was welcomed by cheering throngs of pilgrims from all over Europe and abroad.
“The heart of a Pope,” he told the assembly, “reaches out to the entire world.”
“I would like my greeting and my thanks to reach all people.”
Benedict XVI will abdicate the chair of St. Peter on Feb. 28 and at that time the Church will be without a Pope.
His impending departure led the Pope to reflect on his last eight years as the successor of St. Peter, whom Jesus called to be a fisher of men.
“When, on April 19 of nearly eight years ago, I accepted to assume the Petrine Ministry, I had the firm certainty that has always accompanied me. In that moment, as I have already express many times, the words that resounded in my heart were ‘Lord, what are you asking of me? This is a great burden that you place on my shoulders, but if You ask it of me, on your word I will throw out the nets, sure that you will guide me.’
“And the Lord has truly guided me, he has been close to me. I have been able to perceive his presence daily. It has been a piece of the path of the Church that has had moments of joy and light, but also moments that were not easy,” the Pope told the crowd.
He also said he “felt like St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee.
“The Lord has given us so many days of sun and light wind, days in which the catch was abundant; there have also been moments in which the water were agitated and the wind blew contrary, as in all of the history of the Church, and the Lord appeared to be sleeping.
“But I have always known that in that boat, there was the Lord and I have always known that the barque of the Church is not mine, it is not ours, but it is his and he does not let it sink. It is Him who steers it, certainly also through the men he has chosen, because he has wanted it this way,” the Pope stated.
Because God guides and protects the Church, Pope Benedict said that “today my heart is full of thanks to God because he has never made his consolation, his light, his love be absent from the entire Church or from me.”
He also told the crowd that he carries “all of you in my prayer, in a present that is that of God, where I gather up every encounter, every trip, every pastoral visit.
“Everything and everyone, I gather up in prayer to entrust them to the Lord so that we might have full awareness of his will, with every wisdom and spiritual intelligence, and so that we may act in a way that is deserving of Him, of his love, bringing fruit in every good work.”
Pope Benedict also demonstrated the depth of his pastoral heart by telling the sea of pilgrims that he “would like every person to feel loved by that God that gave his son for us and who has showed his boundless love for us. I would like everyone to feel the joy of being Christian.”
He finished the main part of his remarks by saying, “in these last few months, I have felt my strength has diminished and I asked God insistently in prayer to illuminate me with his light to help me to make the most just decision not for my good but for the good of the Church.”
“I took this step in full knowledge of its gravity and also novelty,” he said, adding that it was also “with a profound serenity of soul.”
“Loving the Church means also having the courage to make difficult and painful choices, keeping always the good of the Church at the fore and not our own,” Pope Benedict stressed.
His final public audience as Pope will take place on Thursday evening, Feb. 28, at Castel Gandolfo.
The local mayor, parish priest, bishop and the faithful, will welcome Benedict XVI to his residence. After that, he will give one last speech from the window that overlooks the courtyard of the residence.
To read Pope Benedict's full remarks at today's audience, please visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=1068
Vatican City, Feb 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The cardinals and bishops who attended Pope Benedict XVI’s last big public appearance made sure to show him their love and respect, but it was a hard moment as well.
“There was a touch of sadness as when one sees a person for the very last time,” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella after the Pope’s last general audience.
“Bishops and cardinals have shown a lot of respect, love and affection towards him here today,” he told CNA Feb. 27.
Around 200,000 people from all over the world came to St. Peter’s Square to see Pope Benedict for the last time before he steps down as Pope tomorrow evening.
Archbishop Fisichella, who is president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization, said that the audience was important in two ways.
“The first is the great humanity of the Holy Father because he has spoken about his suffering in taking this decision, but it has also been a big experience of faith,” the archbishop observed.
“The living Church embraces the Holy Father and manifests its love, but it’s an experience of faith.
“We have the certainty that the Holy Spirit is with us, and so is the Holy Father with his resignation, but he is present among us with his prayer and his presence.
Archbishop Fisichella sees Pope Benedict has given “a testimony of faith and big hope to the whole Church” during his papacy.
“With his testimony and his teaching, which has a very rich deepness, and with his live presence, prayer, and silence – which talks about true prayer that we need to give to God – he will continue to help the Year of Faith,” he affirmed.
Rome, Italy, Feb 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A conclave is similar to going on a rigorous spiritual retreat that is pervaded by silence, according to Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
“It’s like going on a very, very strong, heavy retreat,” explained Cardinal Wuerl in a Feb. 26 interview with CNA at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
“It’s heavy in the sense of leaving aside everything else, but this time the retreat’s master is the Holy Spirit,” he recalled.
He believes that while the conclave is focused on the actual voting, it is also a time of prayer and being open to the Holy Spirit. “I will be. And I’m sure it will be the same for all of the cardinals there, taking this time of quiet simply to open our hearts to that voice of the Spirit.”
In 1978, then-Father Wuerl was permitted at the conclave that elected Pope John Paul II, since he was serving as a secretary for a cardinal who was ill. Since he was made a cardinal in 2010, this will be his first conclave as an elector.
“There’s a silence that pervades the entire conclave, particularly in the Sistine Chapel,” he said.
“I think that sustaining the serenity of spirit is why the whole idea of the conclave is quietness.”
According to the cardinal, the next Pope will have two major challenges: fighting secularism and being media savvy.
“Great secularism is pervading the Church and prevailing all around us, so it brings a sense of urgency that we need to be re-proposing the Gospel,” the cardinal remarked.
“He will need to be able to reach out through all the means of communication today, especially social communication to be present all over the world,” he added.
Cardinal Wuerl said that while a Pope cannot be physically present worldwide, he can use social media as a way to be present electronically.
He added that the most important thing for people to do now is to pray and ask God to send the Holy Spirit on the cardinals during the conclave.
“The expectation of all of us should be that out of this conclave will come, by God’s providential plan, the Pope who will guide us well into the future,” said Cardinal Wuerl.
In his view, Pope Benedict’s primary legacy will be his insistence on the compatibility of faith and reason.
But his pastoral ministry and his call to the New Evangelization will also be among his accomplishments, the D.C. cardinal added.
“He’s urged the entire Church to take a look at people who should be with us but have drifted away.”
“Our task is to re-propose to this very secular world a wonderful mystery, a wonderful revelation of God being with us in Christ,” he said.
Some in the media have floated that Cardinal Wuerl could become the next Pope, but he gives little weight to that idea.
“We have to keep our focus on the realm of reality and not fantasy,” he quipped.
Corrected on March 1, 2013 at 2:06 p.m., MST: article mistakenly reported that Cardinal Wuerl took part in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict by assisting a sick cardinal. He in fact took part in the 1978 conclave that elected Pope John Paul II.
Lima, Peru, Feb 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - An atheist Peruvian author has praised the spiritual and intellectual stature of Pope Benedict XVI and said that his departure is a loss for the cultural and spiritual life of the world.
“I don’t know why Benedict XVI’s abdication has been such a surprise,” said Mario Vargas Llosa, a Nobel laureate in literature and a self-proclaimed atheist opposed to the moral teachings of the Church.
“Although it is unusual, it was not unpredictable,” he said of the Holy Father’s announcement earlier this month that he would be resigning on Feb. 28 due to advanced age and declining strength.
“You could tell just by looking at how fragile he was and how lost he seemed among the crowds in which his office required that he immerse himself,” Vargas Llosa said in a column published by the Spanish daily El Pais.
The Peruvian author observed that the Holy Father’s “profound and unique reflections were based on his enormous theological, philosophical, historical and literary knowledge, acquired in the dozen classic and modern languages he commanded.”
While they were “always conceived within Christian orthodoxy,” the Pope’s “books and encyclicals often went beyond the strictly dogmatic and contained novel and bold reflections on the moral, cultural and existential problems of our times,” Vargas Llosa reflected.
He went on to note that Benedict XVI’s papacy spanned “one of the most difficult periods that Christianity has faced in its more than 2000 year history.”
“The secularization of society is progressing with great speed,” he said, “especially in the West, the citadel of the Church until relatively just a few decades ago.”
“Benedict XVI,” Vargas Llosa added, “was the first Pope to ask forgiveness for the sexual abuse that has taken place in Catholic schools and seminaries, to meet with victims’ associations.”
The Holy Father also convened “the first Church conference devoted to listening to the testimonies of the victims themselves and to establishing norms and rules to prevent such evils from occurring again in the future,” he said.
It would therefore be a mistake to celebrate the Pontiff’s resignation “as a victory of progress and freedom,” the author explained.
“He not only represented the conservative tradition of the Church, but also its greatest legacy: that of the high and revolutionary classic and renaissance culture that, let us not forget, the Church preserved and spread through its convents, libraries and seminaries.”
Vatican City, Feb 27, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A cardinal from Chile who will be participating in the general meetings leading up to the conclave said that the next Pope will most likely be relatively young.
“One of the external characteristics that the Church needs is for a person not very advanced in age to be chosen and this is very probable,” said Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, former archbishop of Santiago.
The 80-year-old cardinal, who has taken part in previous conclaves, arrived yesterday in Rome to participate in the general meetings of the College of Cardinals.
Although his age prohibits him from voting, he will meet with other cardinals to discuss possible papal candidates and to determine the exact date of the conclave.
“There is a huge difference between a conclave and choosing a country’s prime minister or a president,” the cardinal told CNA on Feb. 27 at the Vatican.
“There are always electoral pacts, parties and candidates involved, but not in this process.”
Cardinal Errázuriz Ossa clarified that cardinals of a certain continent or congregation do not form alliances to choose someone.
“The Apostolic Constitution that governs the conclave says that each one is before God, without pact, without compromising anyone and that is the interesting part,” he said.
“When the meetings begin we will speak about the Church’s challenges, the grace that the Holy Spirit has given them and problems that they have.”
He noted that “that many cardinals will get to know each other better,” and “some will think, 'well that’s nice what that cardinal has to say, but he’s not quite ready to be a Pope.'”
After many of 115 cardinals' names are eliminated, “only a few will remain,” he remarked, and “after that they will consult with people who know that cardinal better.”
“You can probably find on internet what his last pastoral letter was, decisions he has taken, the orientation he has had, or what he has done in a Roman dicastery or in his diocese,” Cardinal Errázuriz Ossa said.
“Then little by little three or four names will be left that match all the conditions.”
He added that in the first or second voting there will be a “dispersion of votes” but a list of names that are more trusted to be Pope Benedict's successor will start to take shape.
“That is how the Holy Spirit will have to work, open hearts and open the intelligence until, little by little, those two thirds majority are reached,” he said.
“The Church doesn’t want to chose a head of a group of people but one Pope who will be himself the factor of communion with an openness and understanding for all his brothers and the entire Church.”