Vatican City, Apr 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Vatican’s assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which found it had “serious doctrinal problems” and needed to be reformed.
Archbishop Gerhard L. Müller, the prefect for the Vatican’s doctrine congregation, met in Rome with conference president Sister Florence Deacon on April 15, along with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who was named to carry out the reform of the group.
The secretary of the Vatican’s doctrine congregation, Archbishop Luis Ladaria, was also present at the meeting, in addition to Sister Carol Zinn, president-elect of the women’s leadership conference, and Sister Janet Mock, the group’s executive director.
Archbishop Müller told Sr. Deacon that he “recently discussed the Doctrinal Assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors,” an April 15 statement from the congregation said.
“It is the sincere desire of the Holy See that this meeting may help to promote the integral witness of women Religious,” the communiqué stated, and this requires “a firm foundation of faith and Christian love, so as to preserve and strengthen it for the enrichment of the Church and society for generations to come.”
Since it was his first time meeting with the leadership of the group, Archbishop Müller thanked the sisters for their “great contribution” to the Church in the United States, “as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor” that have been founded and staffed by religious.
He also “emphasized that a Conference of Major Superiors, such as the LCWR, exists in order to promote common efforts among its member institutes as well as cooperation with the local Conference of Bishops and with individual Bishops.
“For this reason, such Conferences are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See,” he stated, citing canons 708-709.
On April 18, 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith revealed the findings a four-year doctrinal assessment of the conference, which found “serious doctrinal problems” and the need for reform.
It cited letters from LCWR officers as well as presentations sponsored by the conference which exhibited “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith” and dissent from Church teaching on topics including the sacramental male priesthood and homosexuality.
The assessment also noted that while the group adamantly promotes social justice issues, it largely ignores matters of life, marriage and sexuality, which have played a large role in recent public debates.
The leadership conference responded June 1 to the assessment, describing it as being “based on unsubstantiated accusations” and using “a flawed process that lacked transparency.”
At the same time that it announced its findings, the Vatican placed Archbishop Sartain in charge of carrying out a reform of the group.
He has a five-year mandate to help the conference revise its statues and review its connections to affiliated organizations. In addition, he will help create a new formation program to offer a deeper understanding of Church teaching and will be responsible for approving future speakers and presentations at the organization’s assemblies.
Composed of some 1,500 members, the LCWR consists of about three percent of the 57,000 women religious in the U.S. Because its members are leaders of their religious communities, the group says that it represents 80 percent of American sisters. The average age of its members is 74.
In a statement responding to the April 15 meeting, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious said the talks were “open and frank.”
“We pray that these conversations may bear fruit for the good of the Church,” the group stated.
Rome, Italy, Apr 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Seminarians filled the North American College with strains of “Holy God We Praise Thy Name” as they took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for a new 10-story structure.
“Things have gone so well in the last decades, that we need more space and it’s wonderful,” Archbishop John J. Meyers of Newark explained to CNA April 12 after he led the ceremony.
James and Miriam Mulva of Bartlesville, Okla. donated $8.5 million to fund the $7-million building and a technology upgrade for the seminary’s two campuses.
The Mulvas, their son Jonathan, Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Archbishop Meyers and the college’s rector, Monsignor James F. Checchio, all joined in breaking the ground for the new addition.
“We’ve been blessed in so many ways and we have a firm belief that it’s important to give back in every way you possibly can,” James Mulva commented.
“We feel so strongly about the Church and about youth and education. So, what better project, what better initiative could we do than to support this new facility for the North American college,” he said.
The 36,000-square-foot building will be home to four new classrooms equipped with the latest technology, which will also give the college the space it needs for the 250 students it has.
The 10-story tower will also feature a new Blessed Sacrament Chapel, rooms for learning to preach, celebrate Mass and the sacraments.
The top floor of the new addition will offer the seminarians a quiet, well-lit space for reading and study, or a view of St. Peter’s Basilica if their minds wander.
Msgr. Checchio described the launch of the project as “a great day for the North American College and for the Church Universal.”
“Certainly the work of forming new priests is foundational for the Church and the future of the Church. And this building will be not only to provide for the needs of the college now but for the needs for many years to come,” he added.
Archbishop Myers, who is the head of the seminary’s board of governors, highlighted the spiritual impact of the new facility.
“Our previous Pope, Benedict, kept calling for us to internalize the faith.
“The interior life was really what it was all about, and with the chapel and also the prayer space in this facility, they will be encouraged even more to grow in their life of prayer and in their interior life,” the archbishop observed.
Boston, Mass., Apr 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
As local police report at least two people dead and dozens injured following a pair of explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the archdiocese has asked for prayers for the victims.
“As reports of death and injuries are reported, we ask you to please turn to the Lord each time to pray for them and for those who love them that they would receive the consolation of the Holy Spirit, the mercy of God, and the loving maternal embrace of our Blessed Mother,” the archdiocese asked via Facebook and Twitter April 15.
Just after reports confirmed 2 dead in the explosion on Monday, the archdiocese asked for eternal rest for those killed.
“Please join us in prayer for all those injured at the Boston Marathon today and for the emergency workers who protect and care for us all,” the archdiocese requested.
“May the Risen Lord have mercy on us today.”
Before 3 p.m. Boston time, the two back-to-back explosions went off at the finish line of the nation’s oldest marathon, which takes place each year during the city's Patriot Day. Officials have reported over 100 people injured.
“May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace,” the archdiocese said via Twitter.
Two more explosive devices have been found and are being dismantled, a senior U.S. intelligence official told the Associated Press. According to Fox News, a person of interest is currently in custody.
Officials detonated a third device shortly after the first two explosions. Another blast has been reported at the John F. Kennedy Library.
Ed Davis, Boston Police Commissioner, told the press “You can reach your own conclusions” when asked if the explosions were a terrorist attack.
Vatican City, Apr 15, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A major highlight for the Year of Faith will be a two-day celebration in Rome on the Church’s teaching about the dignity of life and how it fits with the New Evangelization.
Father Geno Sylva, the English-language official for the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, hopes the event will speak so clearly to the secular world that it is “going to have to listen and say, ‘well, there is a culture of life coming out of the Church.’”
The June 15-16 international gathering will begin on Saturday morning with a catechesis session on “The Gospel of Life and the New Evangelization.”
The event will “explore the enduring and timeless truths of Blessed John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, ‘Evangelium Vitae,’ and the central role that the Gospel of Life continues to have in the Church's mission of the New Evangelization,” according to organizers.
Fr. Sylva explained in an April 12 interview with CNA/EWTN News that it’s important for people to realize that the teaching moments are to help them “understand our faith, what are the reasons why we believe.”
“So, when they come here, we’re hoping that their minds are touched as well as their hearts,” he said.
Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston will be offering his reflections for English speakers at the Pontifical Urbanian College, followed by a discussion panel with Prof. Francis Beckwith and Robert Royal.
The presence of Cardinal O’Malley is significant because he is the head of the U.S. bishops pro-life committee. But his profile jumped even higher when Pope Francis named him April 13 as one of eight cardinals who will advise him on reforming the Church’s central administration.
On Saturday afternoon and evening, pilgrims will have the chance to visit the tomb of St. Peter, adore the Blessed Sacrament, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and process down the main street leading to St. Peter’s Basilica in a candlelight vigil.
The weekend will finish with a Mass presided over by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday morning.
But the Gospel of Life weekend is not all the pontifical council has planned for the Year of Faith, which will finish on Nov. 24, 2013.
Another international event is planned for the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 2. The celebration is being designed so that as many people as possible can participate, even if they cannot be present in Rome.
Pope Francis will lead an hour of Eucharistic Adoration at 5:00 p.m. Rome time in St. Peter’s Basilica. Each bishop around the world is also being invited to simultaneously preside over a Holy Hour for the feast.
Between July 4 and 7, seminarians, novices and those discerning their vocation are being invited to attend a gathering that gives them the chance to pray in front of St. Peter’s tomb and experience the universal nature of the Church.
Looking ahead to the fall, Fr. Sylva highlighted the “wonderful” events the council has planned for catechists, families and a celebration of Mary.
For more information on the Year of Faith events, please visit www.annusfidei.va.
Bangassou, Apr 15, 2013 (CNA) - In the midst of a conflict between the government of the Central African Republic and the rebel Séléka coalition, the Church is suffering from fighting and theft by rebel forces, a local bishop said.
“The plundering continues, day and night, at any time. The terrified people do not flee, but weep, and try to defend the little they still have,” Bishop Juan-José Aguirre Muñoz of the Diocese of Bangassou told Aid to the Church in Need on April 4.
Bishop Aguirre is a priest of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus and has been Bangassou's bishop since 2000. Bangassou is located in the east of the nation, on the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Central African Republic also borders Cameroon, Chad, Sudan and South Sudan. Most of the nation’s citizens are Christian, though significant minorities practice indigenous religions or Islam.
The country suffered a war from 2004 to 2007, which sprang up again in December.
“Rebels or people disguised as rebels can break into…homes at any time and rob them, armed with submachine guns,” said Bishop Aguirre.
The rebel Séléka group entered Bangassou on March 11. According to Aid to the Church in Need, the coalition is of Muslim origin.
As the Séléka advanced across the country, President, Francois Bozizé, was ousted on March 24. Bishop Aguirre was in the capital city of Bangui on that day.
“While we were celebrating Palm Sunday Mass,” he said, “firing with heavy artillery and submachine guns began at 7.55 am and lasted for three hours. We live next to the presidential palace, so that we were in the thick of the fighting.”
Then, he said, a group of Séléka “forced their way heavily armed into Bangui Cathedral just as the Mass was ending. The rebels began to fire into the ceiling. People threw themselves to the floor, onto the palm leaves. They were forced to hand over the keys for cars and motorcycles parked outside.”
In his own diocese, the town of Rafai was captured by some 20 bandits disguised as Séléka, he said. Despite this, no-one was hurt and “the Muslims from the region intervened to see off these 20 street robbers.”
“The risen Christ is triumphant, but He always shows the Apostles His wounds,” reflected Bishop Aguirre.
Bandits are also stealing goods from the Church and from religious orders, the bishop said, telling of a priest, Father Agustín, who walked 37 miles to say Easter Mass in one of his parishes, since a burglar had taken his transport.
The Central African Republic is among the poorest countries in the world, with extremely low human development and major human rights abuses.
Since 2002, Aid to the Church in Need has been supporting 240 projects in the Central African Republic, providing over $3.2 million.
The aid has been used to safeguard priests, purchase cars and motorcycles, support pastoral work and promote various construction and further training measures.