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Archive of March 1, 2013

California priest inspires push for beatification cause

Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 1, 2013 (CNA) - Basque-born priest Fr. Aloysius Ellacuria, a reputed miracle worker who ministered in Los Angeles for decades until his death in 1981, has inspired efforts to open an inquiry into his cause for beatification.

“Fr. Aloysius was an example of holiness in every way.” Fr. Kevin Manion of San Diego told CNA Feb. 27. “He leaves an incredibly heroic example of love of God and missionary zeal which is most attractive for people of today.”

Fr. Manion, who worked as Fr. Aloysius’ personal secretary from 1973-1981, said the priest showed “fidelity of purpose” and “faithfulness to grace.”

“He was prayerful and pious since his infancy – with a special love of the Virgin Mary and the Rosary.”

Fr. Aloysius was born on June 21, 1905 in the city of Igorre in the Basque region of Spain. He was baptized Juan Luis Ellacuria. He entered the Claretian Missionaries at the age of 11 and was ordained a priest at the age of 24. Soon after his ordination, he went to the United States and served as a Greek and Latin professor.

He served as a novice director and a superior for the Claretians. He founded the Missionaries of Perpetual Adoration in Fatima, Portugal to help spread the message of Portugal.

Fr. Aloysious served as a formation director, a spiritual director and counselor for many people in need.
He founded twelve prayer groups, which he called guilds.

He worked for decades in the Los Angeles region before his death on April 6, 1981.

Many of those who knew the priest say God worked miracles of healing through the priest and gave him special charisms like prophecy, reading souls and expelling demons.

“Our Lord gave him the gift of miracles to lead people to the love of God, and as such lay people and clerics, religious and even bishops, sought his counsel and his prayers,” Fr. Manion said.

He added that after every reputed healing, Fr. Aloysius told people to make a good confession.

However. Fr. Manion he remembered Fr. Aloysius not because of the reported miracles but because of his “very strong personality” and his ability to be “the center of attraction without trying to be so.”

Fr. Aloysius was particularly effective in correcting those in doctrinal error, the priest said.

“He was not ‘wishy-washy” in any way at all. At the same time, he was not brusque. He was not abusive. He was paternal, and he had a certain authority.”

Fr. Manion added that Fr. Aloysius’ devotion was not surprising because he was born in the fervently Catholic Basque province of Biscay. The Basque provinces have produced dozens of canonized or beatified Catholics including Jesuit founder St. Ignatius Loyola.

The priest’s life has been the subject of several books and the documentary movie “The Angel of Biscay.”

Many people have sought to open a formal church inquiry into the beatification of Fr. Aloysius, but they lack resources and institutional support to advocate for Fr. Aloysius.

The Claretians have decided not to actively pursue the beatification of Fr. Aloysius, but have promised cooperation with any group that chooses to. The order is still seeking to open beatification causes for over 200 of its members, mainly martyrs from the Spanish Civil War, and does not have the resources to address the backlog.

The priest’s own actions helped delay his cause. He left instructions that his personal papers, vital evidence for any inquiry, should be kept confidential for 20 years.

Admirers of Fr. Aloysius continue to honor his memory. They will mark the 32nd anniversary of his death this April 6 with a memorial Mass at the old San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, Calif., where the priest is buried.

A Catholic association to work for Fr. Aloysius' beatification and canonization is operating at the website www.aloysius.com.

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Beauty in liturgy the 'great legacy' of Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Mar 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be remembered in Church history for his work to recover the beauty of traditional liturgy, according to Bishop James D. Conley.

The head of the Lincoln, Neb. diocese, who has been reading Benedict's writings on liturgy for decades, said these works “will remain a great contribution to liturgical theology for years to come.”

“His great legacy,” Bishop Conley told CNA Feb. 27, “will be the re-discovery of the beauty of the traditional liturgy.”

Benedict awakened a “new way” of looking at the ordinary form of the Mass – the liturgy which came after the 1960s Second Vatican Council – “with a greater attempt to be more attentive to the rubrics.”

In the former pontiff's view, Mass should be celebrated with beauty, dignity, and in continuity with the tradition of the Church, Bishop Conley noted.

Benedict's liturgical legacy also includes his “blessing” of those “who have a great attachment to the old Mass” and who are in union with the Holy See, the bishop said.

In 2007, Pope Benedict released a directive titled “Summorum pontificum,” which in a “watershed moment,” gave every priest permission to say Mass using the 1962, or pre-Vatican II Missal.

“He made it one of his priorities to...introduce the 'hermeneutic of continuity', trying to show that the pre-conciliar liturgy of the 1962 Missal is the same liturgy as the Roman Missal of Pope Paul VI,” the bishop explained.

Pope Benedict “allowed the traditions to harmonize...so the cross-pollination could take place; so the very best of the reforms of the post-conciliar liturgy could be enhanced and influenced, by an open, unbiased acceptance of the Mass that preceded it.”

Bishop Conley believes that Pope Benedict has allowed the pre-conciliar liturgy to flourish alongside of the post-conciliar liturgy “in a hope that some of the transcendence, the beauty, the tradition, the Latin” will permeate the new liturgy.

The Pope's own manner of celebrating Mass, including subtle “symbolic gestures” have “sent a message” and have had “a catechetical value” for both priests and faithful, said Bishop Conley.

These gestures include distributing Communion to the faithful kneeling; beautiful vestments and those which had fallen into disuse; ensuring a cross and candles are on the altar; and celebrating facing the same direction as the faithful, all elements of a “reform of the reform of the liturgy.”

“He even created a new way of looking at the two traditions,” reflected Bishop Conley, “the extraordinary form and the ordinary form.” Pope Benedict coined these terms in “Summorum pontificum,” to refer to pre and post Vatican liturgies respectively.

“They're two parts of the same form, and of the same Roman rite: that's what he really wanted to emphasize by that change in language.”

Transcendence and beauty

Pope Benedict has long been “trying to recover that sense of transcendence and beauty of the liturgy,” reflected the bishop.

Part of this effort was his involvement in the translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal. Bishop Conley noted the former Roman pontiff's concern that the Latin prayers be translated both accurately and “also with a sense of beauty in the language.”

The bishop also noted Pope Benedict's creation in November of a “Pontifical Academy for Latin.” He sees this as tied to the Pontiff's desire to increase the use of Latin in the Church's life, including in her liturgy.

Bishop Conley also noted how Pope Benedict's vision was shaped by the Liturgical Movement of the early 20th century, an effort that called for a reform of the Church's worship, led largely by Benedictines.

“He knew the great players of the Liturgical Movement back before the Council,” the bishop said.

One of his major writings on the liturgy was his 2000 work “The Spirit of the Liturgy.” That publication hearkened back to a book of the same name by Father Romano Guardini, known as one of those “great players.”

In “The Spirit of the Liturgy,”  Benedict – as a theologian writing before his rise to the papacy – encouraged a “New Liturgical Movement” that would recall the best elements of the first Liturgical Movement.

Benedict's concern with beauty and liturgy is not one of mere aesthetics, Bishop Conley noted, but flows from a recognition that liturgical prayer is the “source and summit” of the Christian life, as the Second Vatican Council taught.

“A lot of people are talking about the impact that he's had on the Church, and you certainly have to say that the liturgy is going to be one; primarily because he took such a personal interest in it and he believed that...everything flows from prayer,” said Bishop Conley.

“That's what he said when he announced his resignation, that he made this decision after deep prayer. And now he's going to a life of deep meditation and contemplation, and all that centers on the Eucharist, and the liturgical worship of the Church, which he very much has a profound love for.”

A continuing influence

Doctor Horst Buchholz, director of music at the St. Louis archdiocese, told CNA Feb. 25 that Pope Benedict has offered such a wealth of teaching on the liturgy that his influence has yet to come to full fruition.

“There has been no Pope since Pius X, or even before, with such a fervent love for liturgy and Sacred Music like Benedict XVI…We still have to accept, digest, and adapt many of Benedict's thoughts and directives on liturgy and Sacred Music,” he said.

Buchholz commended Pope Benedict's example of including the use of the Gradual at his recent Masses in St. Peter's Basilica. The Gradual is an ancient form of singing the psalm between the readings that may replace the responsorial psalm.

“The Gradual is rarely, rarely ever sung, so that is a very good sign, that people are even aware that there is an option like that,” largely through the example of the Pope's Masses.

Illustration, not imposition

Jeffrey Tucker, publications director for the Church Music Association of America, agreed that Pope Benedict has led by example in liturgy.

“I knew he would show us the beauty of the Roman rite in a way people hadn't seen it before, and inspire people through example,” he said to CNA Feb. 20.

Tucker called Pope Benedict a liberal, “in the best sense of that term.” The Roman Pontiff provided “a kind of license” for the pre-conciliar liturgy, he said, and integrated “the reformed Mass into the tradition of the Roman rite more generally.”

“The reforms at St. Peter's Masses and (papal) liturgy generally have been astonishing, extraordinary, especially from a musical standpoint,” Tucker said.

He pointed particularly to the use of the Introit, the official text from the psalms meant to be sung at the beginning of Mass, at every large Mass said at St. Peter's recently.

“He's worked to make the Roman rite more true to itself, which is very encouraging for those of us at the grass roots level, because now we can point to papal liturgies as a useful example of what we're seeking to accomplish in our own parish lives.”

Tucker praised the fact that while Pope Benedict did make minor changes in liturgical laws, he recognized that “beauty itself, once it's liberated, compels belief in a sense.” He described the Pope as working not through imposition, but with “inspiration, illustration, example – putting beauty on display and creating a kind of global hunger for solemnity and seriousness, and ritual.

Charles Cole, director of the schola at the London Oratory, told Vatican Radio Feb. 24 that “under the pontificate of Benedict XVI there has been a particular focus on the relationship of the liturgy and music and this remarkable heritage and its grown to ever greater prominence.”

In 2007 Pope Benedict wrote an apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, “Sacramentum Caritatis,” cementing some of his teachings on the liturgy into the Magisterium.

Writing for The Catholic Herald, Dom Alcuin Reid, a Benedictine monk, said that “his conviction expressed therein, that 'everything related to the Eucharist should be marked by beauty,' was reflected in papal liturgies. These became master classes on how to celebrate the modern liturgy in continuity with tradition, where the best of the old and of the new serve to raise our minds and hearts to God.”

Bishop Conley concluded with CNA by remembering the Pope's constant example of reverence and beauty in celebrating the liturgy.

“When I first came to Rome in 1989 as a priest-student, on Thursday mornings he would celebrate Mass in a chapel of the proto-martyrs inside the Vatican.”

“It would be a Latin Novus Ordo mass, always Novus Ordo, but always celebrated very reverently and with a great sense of transcendence. So not only by his writings, but by the way he celebrated Mass, he was teaching.”

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Cardinals set date for meetings about next Pope

Vatican City, Mar 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - On the first day that the Church is without a Pope, Cardinal Angelo Sodano announced that the first general congregation of cardinals will take place next Monday morning.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, made the date public in an official letter sent to the world’s cardinals on March 1.

The cardinals will meet from 9:30 to 12:30 on the morning of March 4 in the Synod of Bishops hall on the second floor of the Paul VI audience hall. They will convene again from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the same place.

Prior to entering into the Conclave where they vote for the next Pope, the cardinals of the Church will gather for a series of meetings to take care of business and to discuss who they think will be a good candidate to succeed Pope Benedict.

The cardinals could announce when the conclave will begin after their first meeting, but there is no guarantee of the timing.

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US cardinals say next Pope must be 'man of deep faith'

Rome, Italy, Mar 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Countering much speculation that next Pope will be chosen based on geographic concerns, three American cardinals say the best candidate to succeed Benedict XVI is a man of holiness who can communicate the Gospel.

“Our people back home and throughout the world are all praying for this event, that we will be guided to be able to choose the very best person to lead the Church,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has said that he and his fellow cardinals aim to choose the man who is “best suited” for the papacy and not base their decision on a candidate’s age or national origin.

He said the cardinals’ first concern is “that the faith be strengthened and passed on” and that Catholics “be cared for” no matter where they are in the world.

Cardinal O’Malley, Cardinal George and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston spoke about the upcoming conclave at a Feb. 28 press conference at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. The press conference came after Pope Benedict’s departure from the Vatican for Castel Gandolfo, but before his resignation took effect at 8 p.m. Rome time.

Cardinal George was in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, but the other two cardinals have never been in a papal conclave. Only 117 cardinals are eligible to vote in the 2013 conclave, and two have said they will miss the conclave due to health reasons.

Cardinal O’Malley was not sure he could identify a single “top priority” for selecting the next pontiff.

“Certainly there are some wonderful candidates there, and we all recognize their talent and their goodness and their competence,” he said.

“Certainly our people want a holy man to be the Pope. We’ve been very blessed in the last century to have extraordinarily learned and holy men as Pope. Many have been beatified or canonized.”

He said the next Pope must be “a man of deep faith” with an ability to communicate that faith.

The Boston cardinal said Catholics are “anxious to have someone who can touch the hearts, particularly of our young people.” The next Pope must carry on the “new evangelization” and inspire those who have left Catholic practice to return to their faith.

Cardinal DiNardo said Catholics want someone who can fill the role of the Apostle Peter and fulfill Jesus’ command “feed my sheep.”

A shepherd of the Church must give “good teaching” and “encouragement” while serving as “a principle of unity,” he said.

Cardinal George said he imagines each cardinal has a mental list of primary candidates and secondary candidates that shapes their “more intimate” conversations with each other.

He said their questions for each other might include what kind of person a candidate is and how he would react to a certain situation.

He said the Gospel is from God and so there will “always be those areas in which society and the Church don’t meet.”

“A good pastor will mediate those (differences) as best he can without betraying the faith or his people, in such a way that the Church remains an active agent for transformation of the world.”

Cardinal George said the cardinal electors have to be “well informed.” He is reading short clips on possible candidates and their descriptions in the Pontifical Yearbook. He is also searching out the opinions of those who know them.

Cardinal O’Malley said he is using the internet “a lot.”

Cardinal DiNardo too will be reading about the possible papal candidates and talking with other cardinals. He said he will also reflect on the nature of the See of Peter and its place in the life of the Church.

“This is my first conclave, so I also have to admit I’m going to learn what exactly is it we have to do,” he said. “There are all kinds of formalities. Some of those you have to study and learn about, some you find out about from some of the other cardinals.”

All three stressed the importance of prayer in their decision.

Cardinal DiNardo said he intends to “intensify” his prayers about the papal election.

“That became very obvious to me this morning when the Holy Father said he promised his obedience to whoever the successor of Peter is,” he said. “That requires a great deal of prayer and help from the Holy Spirit in my mind.”

He reported that Catholics at recent confirmation Masses at parishes in Texas kept telling him they are praying for him and for the Holy Father.

Cardinal O’Malley said he considers his conclave vote “one of the most important activities I will be engaged in, as a priest and a cardinal.”

“As soon as the Holy Father made the announcement, I’ve been bringing this to prayer, asking the Holy Spirit’s help to be able to discern what is God’s will.”

The 2013 conclave will be the first in modern times to take place after a papal resignation.

Cardinal O’Malley said it is “very difficult” to predict the long-term effects of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation.

He said it could affect the conclave’s decision to elect an older man, knowing that he would not have to continue as Pope into his 90s.

The outgoing Pope Benedict XVI met with 144 cardinals on the morning of his resignation. He spoke with each one individually.

“He addressed the cardinals this morning with a lot of affection,” said Cardinal O’Malley. “He will never be forgotten and he will always be in our hearts.”

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Papal apartments, basilica sealed for sede vacante

Vatican City, Mar 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sealed off the papal apartments, marking the beginning of the sede vacante, the period when there is no Pope.

The head of the Apostolic Chamber, an office that only operates during the time of sede vacante and takes care of papal properties, closed and sealed the Vatican’s papal apartment doors at 8:00 p.m. on Feb. 28.

The Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is the leader of the group and he is known as the chamberlain or camerlengo.

He serves as the acting head of state until a Pope is elected and is also the administrator of the Holy See’s properties and revenues.

Cardinal Bertone locked the apartment’s front entrance after it was sealed with tape, a red ribbon was tied around the door handles and it was sealed with red wax and a Vatican stamp.

A seal was also placed on the papal apartment’s elevator that the Pope uses to go down to the third floor to deliver his Angelus remarks.

The Secretary of State’s second in command, Archbishop Giovanni A. Becciu, sent a letter at 8:00 p.m. to every Vatican embassy telling them to address all diplomatic affairs to himself and to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

At the same time, Swiss guards left their stations outside the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, since Benedict XVI is no longer Pope.

On March 1 at 12:30 p.m., Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, the vice chamberlain, also sealed the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran, since it is the official seat of the Bishop of Rome.

Cardinal Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, will be heading the cardinals’ general meetings up until the actual conclave takes place. The first of those gatherings will take place at 9:30 a.m. on March 4 in the Bishops’ Synod Hall.

This means Cardinal Bertone is in charge of the Vatican’s administrative work, while Cardinal Sodano is in charge of spiritually leading the cardinals in preparing for the upcoming election.

 

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Benedict XVI's first night as Pope emeritus

Vatican City, Mar 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Benedict XVI ate dinner, watched the news with Archbishop Georg Gänswein and slept soundly during his first night as a retired pontiff.
 
“We spoke with Archbishop Georg Gänswein this morning and he told us that both of them slept very well, had dinner and watched two Italian newscasts of the days events,” Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi said March 1.
 
“The Pope was immersed in the profound and beautiful expression of the people at Castel Gandolfo,” Fr. Lombardi told journalists at a daily briefing.
 
The Pope emeritus prayed Evening Prayer after dinner, read messages that people sent to him and took a walk through the halls of Castel Gandolfo.
 
Another activity that he is expected to take up is playing the piano. It emerged Feb. 28 that Benedict XVI had been playing the piano every evening after dinner in the weeks leading up to his resignation.
 
Fr. Lombardi noted “Benedict brought CDs of his favorite music and many books of theology, spirituality and history. And he will probably soon resume playing the piano.”
 
“He was very peaceful and he woke up very peacefully after having slept well,” said Fr. Lombardi. “He has shown a great interior serenity that was reflected in his face.”
 
He woke up this morning in time to celebrate Mass at 7:00 a.m., as he normally does, and at 4:00 p.m. he walked through Castel Gandolfo’s gardens praying the Rosary.
 
Archbishop Gänswein also reported that among the books Benedict XVI took with him was “Hans urs von Balthasar’s Theological Aesthetics,” which he bought as soon as it was released.
 
In 1988 then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger went to the funeral of von Balthasar, who is considered to be one of the most important theologians of the 20th century.
 
Benedict XVI will live at Castel Gandolfo until restoration work is finished at Mater Ecclesiae monastery, where he will be permanently living a life of prayer inside the Vatican walls.
 
The cardinals who will participate in helping choose the next pontiff will have their first official meetings March 4 at 9:30 a.m. and a second one at 5:00 p.m. at the Vatican’s New Synod Hall.
 
The date of the conclave is expected to be set soon after the meetings start.
 

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New Las Cruces bishop urges transformation through Jesus

Gallup, N.M., Mar 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Oscar Cantú became head of the Diocese of Las Cruces, N.M. on Feb. 28, using his homily to encourage the faithful to trust in the power of God to transform their lives and their cultures.

“While the world and its culture have changed tremendously in recent decades, what hasn’t changed is the human heart,” the 46-year-old said in his bilingual installation Mass homily. “The human heart still longs for love, still seeks the truth and still yearns to experience beauty.”

“Jesus wants to show the world the beauty and love of his Sacred Heart, and invites the world to discover the fullness of this truth.”

Bishop Cantú’s installation took place at the Las Cruces Convention Center. Over 1,000 people, including several bishops and many priests, attended the Mass. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., read Pope Benedict XVI’s letter appointing Bishop Cantú to the diocese.

The music of the liturgy had a distinctive Mexican style, a good fit for a predominantly Hispanic diocese located on the Mexican border.

Bishop Cantú reflected on the statues and images of his childhood home, especially a “captivating” statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

It was “warm in its colors” and invited the viewer to “focus on the visible heart of Jesus, pieced by a crown of thorns, yet aflame with love.” The statue of Jesus pointed to its heart “as if inviting me to a dialogue with him.”

He said that for him these images were “an important part of piecing together the beauty of the faith.”

Drawing on this example of how this image affected him, Bishop Cantú said the new evangelization faces the challenge of modern culture.

“How is it that we transmit faith in a world that is so changed from the one in which you and I grew up?” he asked.

In answer, the bishop cited St. Paul’s exhortation to Timothy “never to be ashamed of his testimony to the Lord.”

“I believe that God urges us all to be strong, loving and wise in the Lord,” he said. “The Lord encourages the Church today to stir into flame the gift God has given us: the gift of faith.”

He urged Catholics to engage in personal prayer to study and reflect on the faith. He asked them to live out their faith in daily life despite the pressures to abandon the faith that is “nurtured in our homes and parishes.”

“The Christian faith is rich in history and promise. But most of all, in transforming and loving grace,” he said.

Bishop Cantú succeeds Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, 76, who headed the Diocese of Las Cruces from its creation in 1982 until Pope Benedict XVI accepted his retirement in January 2013.

The new Bishop of Las Cruces thanked Bishop Ramirez and prayed that God “bless and reward him for his tireless labor.”

The bishop closed his homily in Spanish, asking prayers from the Virgin of Guadalupe and entrusting himself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Bishop Cantú has served as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Antonio since 2008. He was born in Houston and is the fifth of eight children. His parents were natives of small towns near Monterey, Mexico. He was ordained a priest in May 1994 and served as pastor of Houston’s Holy Name Catholic Church, his childhood parish.

Several of his family members attended the Mass.

Leticia Ramírez, the bishop’s older sister, told the Las Cruces Sun-News that her brother is very gentle and a people person.

“I think it's an honor for our family but more than anything a blessing and a great responsibility for him to be the shepherd for the people of Las Cruces,” she said.

Bishop Cantú’s older brother included people of the diocese to invite the bishop to dinner.

“We always had priests over to our house and that was a big influence on Oscar, on all of us,” he said.

The bishop has a licentiate in sacred  theology and a doctorate of sacred theology in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and French.

The Diocese of Las Cruces, which was established in 1982, is home to 132,646 Catholics, 81 priests, 38 permanent deacons and 82 religious.

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Cardinal says selecting new Pope is 'a great responsibility'

Rome, Italy, Mar 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan of Mexico, who participated in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, stressed the great responsibility undertaken by the cardinals who will choose the next Pope.

In an interview with CNA on Feb. 21, Cardinal Lozano Barragan explained that participating in a conclave is “a very beautiful experience,” but because of the responsibility it entails, it is “not at all desirable.”

“First of all it means being responsible before God and then before the entire world,” he said, noting that it is “no small thing” to choose someone with the “ability to be the center of unity and strength for the 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world.”

During the conclaves, he explained, the cardinals become instruments of the Holy Spirit to elect a new Pope, and therefore, “they have to be up to the task.”

Cardinal Lozano turned 80 in January and is therefore not eligible to vote in the upcoming conclave in March. However, he recalled his experience during the 2005 conclave, saying that the cardinals believed Cardinal Ratzinger to be the man most suited to be Pope.

“I think that with the help of the Holy Spirit we were not wrong,” he said.

Cardinal Lozano worked for years at the Vatican as president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, and he has known Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for 32 years. He served as special secretary to Benedict – who was simply known as Cardinal Ratzinger at the time – for a little over a year doing work for the 1980 Synod of Bishops on the family.

In addition, he said that then-Cardinal Ratzinger was the first to congratulate him when he was made a cardinal by Blessed John Paul II in 2003.

The Mexican cardinal recalled his close friendship with Benedict XVI and said that when he was elected Pope, “I wanted to kneel down to greet him according to protocol but he wouldn’t let me. He said, ‘We have known each other for 25 years.’”

Cardinal Lozano said that Benedict XVI was a Pope with a deep understanding of our times. 

“He was not a static Pope, he was a Pope who always looked to future,” the cardinal explained.

In resigning from the papacy, he added, Benedict XVI showed “great sincerity” and was an example for many.

“I am sure that he will continue to sustain the Church with his prayers and his study,” Cardinal Lozano said.

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CNA launches blog in time for papal conclave

Denver, Colo., Mar 1, 2013 (CNA) - Catholic News Agency is announcing the launch of its new blog on March 1, in time to provide enhanced coverage of the papal conclave that will elect the new Pope, as well as future Church news.

The blog can be accessed at catholicnewsagency.com/blog.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of our blog in what could be called the most exciting time for the Church in modern history,” said CNA managing editor Marianne Medlin.

“Our blog contributors’ diverse backgrounds, sheer talent and ardent love for the Church will provide invaluable commentary and take full advantage of modern communication methods to further the Gospel message,” she said.

“This blog represents the latest step in CNA’s ongoing commitment to providing Catholic news in keeping with the New Evangelization envisioned by Blessed Pope John Paul II and espoused by Pope Benedict XVI.”

The new blog will seek to provide thoughtful commentary on contemporary issues facing the Church, as well as pictures, graphics and other additional content. Catholic News Agency’s contributing bloggers come from various backgrounds and bring with them a wide range of interests and expertise.

Alejandro Bermúdez is director of ACI-Prensa, the world’s largest Catholic news agency in Spanish, as well as the executive director of Catholic News Agency and the Portuguese agency ACI digital. Alejandro is a frequent contributor to the National Catholic Register and Our Sunday Visitor, and he hosts several Spanish programs on EWTN, including “Criterios” on Radio Católica Mundial. He is also a commentator at EWTN Noticias and a guest commentator on religious issues for the New York Times.

David and Jenny Uebbing, both graduates of Franciscan University of Steubenville, have been married since 2009 and reside in Rome with their young family. David is the Rome news director for Catholic News Agency and EWTN News. He previously worked as managing editor at the agencies’ Denver headquarters. Jenny is the content editor of Heroic News, a web-based news service dedicated to life and cultural issues. She is passionate about the subjects of bioethics, human sexuality, contraception and John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

Michelle Bauman is assistant editor for Catholic News Agency and EWTN News. She previously worked as the agencies’ Washington, D.C., correspondent. Michelle holds degrees in political philosophy and journalism from the University of Dallas. Her articles have appeared in the Denver Catholic Register and the National Catholic Register, and she has been a guest commentator on Register Radio and NY1 News.

Kevin Jones joined Catholic News Agency in 2007. He has a degree in classics from the University of Colorado-Boulder and is a parishioner at Spirit of Christ Catholic Community in Arvada, Colorado – the same parish where he was baptized as an infant. Kevin’s interests include political science, ethics and literature.

Carl Bunderson, a convert to the Catholic faith, has studied philosophy at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver and economics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Carl is particularly devoted to beautiful celebration of the liturgy, both Mass and the Divine Office, having taken to heart the dictum “lex orandi, lex credenda:” the rule of prayer is the rule of belief.

Kate Veik is a radio and television producer for Catholic News Agency and EWTN News. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her work has previously appeared in the Omaha World-Herald and the Archdiocese of Omaha’s newspaper, the Catholic Voice.

Hillary Senour, a staff writer for Catholic News Agency and EWTN News, holds a history degree from Franciscan University of Steubenville. A lifelong Catholic, Hillary is passionate about learning from the saints, especially St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Joseph.

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College students in Rome send farewell message to Benedict

Rome, Italy, Mar 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Students at the University of Dallas who are spending this semester in Rome had a special opportunity to show their love and support for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as he officially retired from the papacy.

“It was a very special moment because we were able to give the Pope a farewell present that was totally unique,” said Ada Thomas.

On Feb. 28, as the Pope traveled by helicopter from the Vatican to his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo to begin his retirement, University of Dallas students were taking part in a campus tradition – the “Geek Olympics,” a day of games held each semester before the students embark on a trip to Greece.
 
Dressed in multi-colored togas, the students interrupted their activities to send the Pope a special message as he passed close to their campus. They aligned themselves on the school’s soccer field to spell out the word “Benedictus” and cheered as the retiring Pope passed.

“As we squinted up, we could just make out a tiny white speck looking down on us,” Thomas told CNA.

“Being a convert, Pope Benedict is the only pope I've ever known, so I am terribly sad to see him resign,” she explained. However, she added, everyone has “been tremendously supportive of the Pope's decision, and we have been able to see how much he truly appreciates it.”  

Each semester, the University of Dallas – a Catholic university based in Texas – sends approximately 100 students to its Due Santi campus located just outside of Rome, less than two miles from Castel Gandolfo.

While the semester is generally remembered as a highlight of students’ time at the university, those who are in Rome this spring have had a particularly memorable trip.

Alex Taylor remembers precisely where he was when he heard the news of Pope Benedict’s resignation on Feb. 11.

He told CNA that he and his classmates were getting out of an Art and Architecture class, and when the announcement was made, “the room went from being relatively quiet to abuzz with murmuring students.”

“We were both sad to see Benedict go, but definitely excited to be in Rome during a papal election, which is such a rare privilege,” he explained.

Daily Mass on campus that afternoon “was absolutely full,” he continued. “We definitely wanted to gather together in prayer for the pope's intentions and for the Holy Spirit to inspire the conclave, even from the very beginning of the proceedings.”

On Ash Wednesday, students “showed up en masse” to the papal Mass, which Taylor called “an inspiring occasion” and his first glimpse of the Holy Father in person since arriving in Rome.  

With the announcement of the resignation, he said, “every opportunity to see him became even more important.”

The Holy Father’s “care and love for the liturgy was apparent” during the celebration of the Mass, Taylor said, adding that “somehow, he reminded me of my own grandfather back home.”

“I really see the Church as a family, and the pope, whoever he is, is in a way, our father in the faith, correcting us and making sure we do what's right, but always in a spirit of faith, hope, and love,” he continued.

Taylor and a friend later brought an American flag from a souvenir shop to one of Pope Benedict’s final public events.

He explained that “we both really wanted the pope to realize that there are many in America that support and love him, and support the orthodoxy of the Church.”

The university was able to obtain tickets for the entire student body on the Rome campus to attend the Pope’s last general audience on Feb. 27. Classes were canceled and students were woken up at 5:30 a.m. to travel by bus to St. Peter’s Square.

“Everyone at the audience was very enthusiastic,” Taylor said, adding that it was an “exhilarating experience” to hear the Holy Father address the pilgrims from around the world “in their native tongues.”

Thomas agreed, adding that the event was “a moment of great unity,” showing “the vitality and joy” of the Church as the Pope promised “his continued love and prayers.”

“It also was a testament to Benedict's work over the last eight years, and the great gratitude that all Catholics feel towards him,” she said.

Shortly after the Holy Father’s flight past the campus, Thomas said that she made her way “up to Castel Gandolfo, along with a friend, and prayed a Rosary during Benedict's last hour as Pope.”

“It was very quiet in the Piazza, and I really had the chance to reflect on the last eight years,” she said. “Pope Benedict has been a great influence on me, both spiritually as well as intellectually, and being there for the last hour of his pontificate was my personal way of thanking him.”

“Then at 8 o'clock sharp, the Swiss Guards closed the doors to the Papal residence, and, very quietly, it was all over.”

As the Catholic Church now waits for the cardinals to elect a new Supreme Pontiff, the University of Dallas students are grateful for the blessing of being in Rome during such a historic time.

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