Vatican City, Mar 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The last cardinal to arrive in Rome for the election of a new Pope is supposed to land this afternoon, in time for Thursday’s second general meeting.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi began the March 7 daily press briefing by telling reporters, “there is no date,” which was followed by sighs from the media.
However, the progress toward a date for the conclave did make visible progress with the planned arrival of Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man from Vietnam, bringing the College of Cardinals to its full count of 115.
“The Vietnamese cardinal made his journey today, and some Vietnamese priests from Vatican Radio are meeting him at the airport. We will see if he is here in time for this afternoon’s meeting,” Fr. Lombardi said.
This morning’s gathering began with prayer, which was followed by the swearing in of Cardinals Nycz and Coppa. Three new assistants to the chamberlain were then chosen from the different orders of cardinals for a three-day term of service.
Next on the agenda was a presentation from three cardinals on the financial state of the Holy See, as is required by the 1988 apostolic constitution “Pastor Bonus.”
The number of interventions made today was 16, including the three made on the Vatican’s financial standing. The cardinals who made them came from all parts of the globe, multiple language groups and different cultures.
The morning session ended promptly at 12:30 p.m., and the cardinals will return to the New Synod Hall for a second meeting at 5:00 p.m.
Alexandria, Va., Mar 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The principal at a Virginia Catholic grade school said he hopes an elaborate mock conclave recently held by students and staff will help enrich the school’s efforts to teach the Catholic faith.
“Primarily, my hope for this is that the kids, through understanding what’s going on, would be more invigorated in their faith,” Principal Dan Baillargeon told CNA on March 5.
Employees and numerous parent volunteers at St. Louis Catholic School in the Diocese of Arlington, Va., went to great lengths to organize the mock conclave, which met twice before electing “Cardinal Turkson,” who took the name Sebastian I.
On March 1, the boys who had been selected to play cardinals – most of whom serve as altar boys in the parish – met at 7 a.m. and were dressed in black cassocks, zucchettos and birettas before visiting their respective geographic locations.
Although the middle school boys were the ones who represented the 34 voting cardinals in the mock conclave, the entire school participated in the event by learning about each participating “cardinal’s” background.
Each classroom represented a continent or part of a country from which one of the cardinals hailed. In preparation for the conclave, students researched their countries or continents and received a visit from their “cardinal.”
Over the weekend, parent volunteers transformed the auditorium into a mini-Vatican, complete with doors to the Sistine Chapel, a Papal balcony and a Colonnade encircling where the “cardinals” would meet.
On March 4, rather than holding the usual Monday morning assembly, the students gathered to witness the election of a new “Pope,” complete with students dressed as Swiss Guards, nuns, news commentators, nurses, custodians and priests.
The Parochial Administrator, Fr. Matthew Zuberbueler, provided “guest commentary” on the event by describing the process to the students who were watching.
At the end of the first meeting, “the leading cardinal only had three votes, so it was a failed conclave,” Principal Baillargeon said.
Students playing Scrutineers and Revisers examined the ballots before “burning” them. A smoke machine in the back of the auditorium signaled the students that the “Chair of Peter” was still vacant.
Although the students had been watching for nearly an hour, “You could have heard a pin drop the entire time,” Principal Baillargeon said. “They were so captivated by what they were watching.”
The “cardinals” – along with the rest of the student body – went back to classes and reconvened near the end of the school day for a second conclave.
“It was clear right away that ‘Cardinal Turkson’ was going to receive the votes,” the principal said.
As his name was called over and over again, the students – “especially the little ones” – were starting to become “giddy” knowing that the decision would soon be finalized if he received two-thirds of the votes.
After the mock-Revisers confirmed the vote, “Pope Sebastian I” was dressed in one of the three papal garbs that best fit him. A boy posing as Cardinal Tauran pronounced the “Habemus Papam” from the makeshift Papal Balcony and presented the new “Holy Father” to the students.
“As he stood up there, he had a big beaming smile on his face and all the kids had made little flags from their nations,” Baillargeon said. “Some of them had Vatican flags and they were waving them and cheering.”
In all, he explained, the two separate conclaves and the election took close to two hours, but the students – grades Kindergarten through eighth – were “absolutely riveted” by the proceedings.
“There was definitely a spirit in there that this was a prayerful moment,” he said. “Even in its mock way, it really brought that tradition of the Church together for them.”
When asked if such an exercise would help foster vocations at the school, Baillargeon said that he hopes “everything” that St. Louis does as a school is geared towards helping students be “more attentive to God’s voice.”
“I don’t know if I can say that it will (foster vocations) directly,” he added, “but I can say by making the faith alive here at this school, we hope that the kids are more attentive to what God is asking them to do.”
South Bend, Ind., Mar 7, 2013 (CNA) - Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at the University of Notre Dame’s graduation ceremony on May 19.
Cardinal Dolan is “a man of great intelligence and personal warmth, and a dedicated shepherd of the Church,” said Notre Dame president Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
He explained in a March 6 statement that the university is “grateful” that the cardinal has accepted its invitation to celebrate the students’ graduation and to “provide them with words of wisdom as they set out into the world.”
The invitation to Cardinal Dolan comes four years after the university’s intensely controversial invitation to President Barack Obama to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at the May 2009 commencement.
Many pro-life advocates objected to granting university honors to a president deeply committed to legal abortion, and numerous bishops spoke out against the invitation.
In April 2009, then-Archbishop Dolan said the invitation to President Obama was a mistake and sent the wrong signal to students that the president is to be held up as a model. However, the archbishop also stressed the need to engage with politicians and others who support abortion.
Former Vatican ambassador Mary Ann Glendon declined the university’s Laetare Medal, which was to be awarded to her at the 2009 commencement. She cited the controversy between the university and the U.S. bishops, as well as her concern that honoring the president would encourage other Catholic institutions to ignore the bishops.
Opponents of the invitation to the president cited the U.S. bishops’ own instructions in a 2004 document on Catholics in political life. The bishops said that Catholic universities should not honor those who “act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and should not be given honors or platforms that would “suggest support for their actions.”
Following the controversy, Notre Dame launched several pro-life initiatives. It created a paid position of coordinator for university pro-life efforts and sought to expand support for pregnant women.
The university will now prepare to welcome Cardinal Dolan, who has been Archbishop of New York since 2009. Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal in 2012, and he is presently in Rome for the conclave to elect the next Pope.
The cardinal is also the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. During his time in this position, he has worked to defend the religious liberty of individuals and institutions from the recent federal contraception mandate.
Issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, the mandate requires employers and schools to offer health insurance plans covering sterilization and contraception, including some abortion-causing drugs. Those who violate the requirement face stiff fines.
Last May, Notre Dame became one of dozens of plaintiffs to file a lawsuit challenging the mandate on the grounds that it forced the university to violate its religious convictions.
In December, a federal judge ruled the lawsuit was premature because the Obama administration has promised to formally amend the mandate in the coming months to accommodate religious freedom.
Denver, Colo., Mar 7, 2013 (CNA) - The recent explosion of success in using adult stem cells to treat and cure diseases marks a shift in the medical field by making it unnecessary to use controversial embryonic stem cells, said Dr. Robin Smith.
“These cells are impacting many peoples' lives who are treated in a clinical trial, and as they become standard in care...it will become part of modern medicine,” the president of the Stem for Life Foundation told CNA March 6.
“There's a paradigm shift in medicine now, using cell therapy to treat diseases, and it's just a very exciting time in medicine.”
Smith, along with Monsignor Tomasz Trafny and Max Gomez, is co-author of “The Healing Cell,” a new book that presents the many ways in which adult stem cell therapies are being used in regenerative medicine.
“The Healing Cell” is the fruit of collaboration between the Stem for Life Foundation and the Pontifical Council for Culture. In Nov. 2011, the two organizations held a conference at the Vatican promoting adult stem cell research.
Adult stem cells are taken from a person's existing stem cells or from the placenta or umbilical cord at birth. Smith said they are found throughout the body in all our tissues, including bone marrow, fat, and teeth. They can be extracted with a needle, or a patient can be given a medication which causes stem cells in bone marrow to migrate into the blood stream.
Stem cells are incredibly versatile, and can grow just about any other kind of cell. Stem cell treatments cause stem cells to get to an area of the body damaged by trauma or aging, where they can repair or regrow damaged tissue, restoring function.
“Today there are 4,300 adult stem cell trials, and there are over 70 diseases where adult stem cell therapies are part of clinical care,” Smith said.
“These clinical trials are looking at taking the cells from the body and doing something with them. So for example, to take a bladder cell, put it on a matrix outside the body, and create a bladder, and put that bladder back in.”
Smith said it is “very exciting to see a new bladder being created from a single cell.”
While stem cells from human embryos have failed to create any significant cures or treatments, adult stem cells are successfully being used to fight chronic disease and an array of disorders.
In 2012, Sir Gurdon and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka won a Nobel Peace Prize for demonstrating that adult skin cells can be “reprogramed” to become “embryonic-like” cells, giving them huge therapeutic potential.
And because adult stem cells can be taken from the patient whom they will treat, there are no concerns about rejection of the cells by the body, Smith added.
The success of adult stem cells has been so great that there is no reason to continue embryonic stem cell research, which necessarily involves the destruction of a human person, she argued, noting that there are 4,300 adult stem cell trials currently underway, but only 26 embryonic stem cell trials.
The most mature advances in adult stem cell therapies are in cardiovascular disease, Smith said. Injecting stem cells into the heart of people who have had heart attacks has stimulated the heart to repair itself.
There is also “very exciting data in wound repair, bone healing, advances for vision and certainly organ repair.” Adult stem cell therapies are also being used to treat diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, autoimmune disorders, and other health issues, all of which are discussed in “The Healing Cell.”
“The Healing Cell” will be published on April 2 and is available for pre-order at stemforlife.org. The first edition of the book was presented to former Pope Benedict XVI in June, and it includes his address to the participants at the Nov. 2011 adult stem cell conference.
The book also includes a foreword by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who was president of the Pontifical Council for Culture under Benedict.
Msgr. Trafny, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture's Science and Faith department, told CNA that his office aims to show people that “there is a possibility to embrace well performed research...and to do so in peace with your conscience.”
“So there's no opposition, no need to make a choice, between science and faith,” he said, explaining that the Church embraces adult stem cell therapy because does not destroy a human life and therefore represents no violation of ethical norms or religious belief.
The pontifical council wants to “show that there is hope, especially for those who are affected by degenerative diseases and who desperately need help,” said the monsignor.
He added that his office explores the advances in science “that will substantially change the future of society, and regenerative medicine is one of them.”
“Being part of the discussion and research is part of the Church's mission, to help those who suffer, to assist them, and to find the best solution for their illness.”
Rome, Italy, Mar 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A book on all of Benedict XVI’s speeches from the moment he announced his resignation until his last day as pontiff will be published March 11.
The book’s title is “Non mi sono mai sentito solo” in Italian, which translates as “I have never felt alone.” It will also include his resignation speech, Ash Wednesday homily and address at a meeting with all of Rome’s clergy.
The Vatican’s publishing house will also release a second book on the Pope Emeritus in March, which will collect all of his general audiences from the Church’s Year of Faith.
It is titled “Beneditto XVI nell anno della Fede” or “Benedict XVI in the Year of Faith” and is the last volume of the retired Pope’s series of catecheses.
Both books are written by experts on his body of teachings.
Books that cardinals have written will not be published until after the conclave to avoid a conflict of interest with electing the new Pope.
“The general feeling around here is very strong these days,” said Fr. Giuseppe Costa, director of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
“We’re now waiting for the new Pope, and we will then work even more,” Fr. Costa remarked in a March 6 interview with CNA.
“These days I’m praying and reflecting a lot, but it’s a time for the Holy Spirit,” he added.
Vatican City, Mar 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican is now selling special stamps and envelopes that are made only when there is no Pope.
“They are very important stamps because they are issued only when the Pope is not in his place,” said Mauro Olivieri, the head of the Vatican’s post office.
In a March 7 interview with CNA, Olivieri explained why the post office has already sold over 150,000 sets of Sede Vacante stamps.
“The value is very high for stamp collectors and it’s not just an economical value, but they’re more valuable because it symbolizes a very particular period for the Catholic Church,” he said.
In addition to official declarations and statements, the stamps are the “official way” the Vatican “says that the Holy See is vacant,” he stated.
People can buy the stamps just as they are, or with a red post office cancellation mark on them.
The cancellation mark carries the date of the beginning of the vacant see, which was March 1. Olivieri said the stamps communicate that there is no Pope to those who receive the mail, while the cancellation mark placed on the stamps shows them that the State is still running.
The Sede Vacante stamps cost the same amount as regular Vatican postal stamps do, since their value is the same.
They come in a series of four types, each with a different value.
The first kind has a light green background and is worth 0.70 euro, which can be used for mail sent within Italy. Letters sent to other European countries require a pale blue background and cost 0.85 euro. Anyone who wants to get mail to Asia, Africa and the Americas will need a 2 euro stamp with a grey background, while the 2.50 euro stamps with a light yellow background are necessary for reaching Oceania.
The image on the stamps depicts an angel holding an umbrella and a set of crossed keys, the coat of arms for the Holy See during the Sede Vacante.
The post office is also selling envelopes, which include the stamps and the cancellation mark.
“We hope to sell a lot of them, but it depends how long the Vacant See will be,” Olivieri said.
“So we’re in the hands of the cardinals because as soon as they elect a new Pope we will not sell the stamps anymore for postal use,” he added.
The Vatican City State is also issuing two kinds of coins for the Sede Vacante period.
A 2 euro coin which can be used in Europe is being made. In addition, a 5 euro silver coin and a 10 euro gold coin will be produced.
The normal 2 euro coin will have the normal face for each country on one side and the opposite side will include the coat of arms of the camerlengo, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the surmounted the symbol of the Apostolic Chamber.
With the 5 and 10 euro coins, the Vatican is allowed to design both faces.
One side will have the coat of arms of the Apostolic Chamber and the camerlengo, the same as the 2 euro face. The other face will include a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit with the Latin words “Veni Sancte Spiritus,” (Come Holy Spirit), invoking his help as the cardinals chose the new Pope.
For the latest information on the stamps and coins, please visit: http://www.vaticanstate.va/
Philadelphia, Pa., Mar 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has announced his plan to consolidate Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary's operations, as part of his ongoing reform of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
“Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary is the heart of our Church in Philadelphia, and we remain dedicated to not only maintaining its presence in our community, but strengthening it for many generations to come,” Archbishop Chaput, the head of the Church in Philadelphia, said March 7.
“Our commitment to providing the best possible program of priestly formation for the benefit of our seminarians and the people they will one day serve is unwavering.”
He added that the consolidation plan “will ensure the future viability and sustainability of our Seminary now and in the future.”
The seminary currently occupies more than 75 acres and uses 19 different buildings. The plan will consolidate facilities, leasing or selling buildings and property which is currently underutilized. It will remain at its location in Lower Merion Township.
Over the next three to five years, the philosophy, or college, division of St. Charles Borromeo will be moved into vacant space within the theology division. The theology division's building will be renovated over that period.
St. Charles Borromeo will gain a “Spirituality Year,” akin to a novitiate, which allows seminarians to devote a full year to discernment and the spiritual life.
St. Charles Borromeo's spirituality year will commence in the 2014-2015 academic year. While in Denver, Archbishop Chaput had begun a spirituality year at that archdiocese' St. John Vianney Theological Seminary.
The reformed seminary will be able to support as many as 200 seminarians. The seminary will continue to provide formation for deacon candidates, and provide classes for laymen at the associated Graduate School of Theology.
The changes are a result of a review by the seminary's board of trustees, which noted that the buildings and acreage comprising the college division had been under-employed for some time. While the fate of that portion of the campus is at yet indeterminate, it will be used to sustain and support the seminary in the future.
The seminary's rector, an auxiliary bishop of the Philadelphia archdiocese, said that “our Seminary has served as a leading institution in the formation of Catholic men for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and dioceses across the country for over 180 years.”
Bishop Timothy C. Senior continued, saying, “while the Seminary evolves and takes on a slightly different look in the coming years, our four pillars of human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral growth will remain strong.”
“We will be better poised than ever to prepare men to become servant leaders who proclaim the Gospel.”
Rome, Italy, Mar 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Blessed Maria Restituta, a Catholic nurse who was decapitated by the Nazis in March of 1943, was remembered for her courageous martyrdom during a recent Mass in Rome.
Cardinal Christoph Shonborn recalled the 70th anniversary of Blessed Maria’s death during a celebration of the Liturgy of the Word on March 6.
The Mass was held at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew, which was dedicated by Pope John Paul II to the memory of the martyrs of the 20th and 21st centuries. During the Mass, members of Blessed Maria’s religious order, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, donated a small cross that she wore on her habit to the Basilica.
According to the March 5 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Blessed Maria, whose baptismal name was Elena Kafka, was “a courageous and strong woman. As a nurse in a hospital in Austria, she opposed the anti-religious measures of the Nazis and defended the weak and the sick, speaking of peace and democracy.”
Blessed Maria opposed Nazi efforts to remove all crucifixes and replace them with the swastika. She also promoted the “soldier’s song,” which contained a message about peace and democracy in Austria.
After being denounced to the Nazi secret police by a doctor, she was imprisoned, condemned to death and beheaded in Vienna at the age of 49, together with a group of Communist operatives she accompanied during the final moments of her life.
One of her companions in prison remarked, “She was a saint because she encouraged everyone in that situation, she conveyed strengthened and a positive and confident spirit.”
During her beatification on June 21, 1998, Blessed Pope John Paul II said, “Many things can be taken away from Christians. But we can never remove the cross as the sign of salvation. We shall not allow it to be excluded from public life! We shall heed the voice of conscience which says: ‘We must obey God before men!’”
While in prison, Blessed Maria wrote: “It doesn’t matter how far away we are from everyone, it doesn’t matter if they take everything away. Nobody can ever take away the faith we carry in our hearts. This is how we build an altar in our own hearts.”
Washington D.C., Mar 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Leading U.S. bishops explained that despite a commitment to fight domestic violence, they could not endorse a prominent federal bill due to its inclusion of troubling gender and sexuality language.
“Unfortunately, we cannot support the version of the ‘Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013’ passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate because of certain language it contains,” several bishops explained in a letter.
Released by the U.S. bishops’ conference on March 6, the letter was written by Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles.
The bishops serve as the heads of conference committees involving domestic justice and human development, marriage and family life, religious liberty and migration.
Their letter discussed a bill to re-authorize previous versions of a 1996 anti-domestic violence law. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on March 7.
The bishops emphasized that legislation protecting individuals from domestic violence “is consistent with Catholic social teaching that reveres the inherent and inviolable dignity of all human persons.” They referenced a pastoral letter stressing that any form of such violence, “physical, sexual, psychological, or verbal,” is sinful.
However, the bishops continued, provisions in the recent bill “that refer to ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’” block their ability to support it.
“All persons must be protected from violence,” the bishops explained, however “codifying the classifications” is “problematic.”
These classifications, they said, “are unnecessary to establish the just protections due to all persons” and instead “undermine the meaning and importance of sexual difference.”
They warned that the new language threatens the understanding of marriage existing between a man and a woman. In addition, they said, the new terms “are unjustly exploited for purposes of marriage redefinition.”
In their letter, the bishops also praised the incorporation of the “Trafficking Victims Protection Act” into the anti-violence law, though they noted their concern that the act excluded conscience protections for service providers.
This lack of protection, they said, places faith-based groups that serve victims of human trafficking – such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – at risk of violating “their bona fide religious beliefs as a condition for serving the needy.”
In late 2011, the conference was told that it could no longer receive federal grants to run its highly-ranked program to help trafficking victims because it was unwilling to refer for contraception and abortion.
“Failure to have conscience protection for such service providers undermines a long-held value in our democracy – religious liberty,” the bishops cautioned, observing that without these protections, the bill “fails to prevent discrimination” against organizations that help victims.
“In the end,” they explained, “the victims of human trafficking are harmed because organizations such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are unable to render services that reach them and serve their human needs.”