Archive of April 19, 2013

Italian bishops launch TV program on stunning cathedral

Rome, Italy, Apr 19, 2013 (CNA) - The Italian bishops' conference have produced a twelve-part television series presenting the Creed from  Sicily's Monreale cathedral, a 12th century church covered in rich mosaics which explain the faith.

“Step by step, from inside the cathedral, Fr. Innocenzo will unveil the 'spirit' of the images and therefore of the sacred narration, following the outline of the articles of the Creed,” wrote Sandro Magister in his April 18 post for the Italian magazine l'Espresso.

Magister is one of the creators of the program, called “The Creed in the Mosaics of Monreale.” It's first episode will air April 21 on TV 2000, the channel of the Italian bishops' conference.

Each 30-minute episode will air on Sundays, be streamed on the channel's website and will later be posted on Youtube.

An initiative for the Year of Faith, “The Creed in the Mosaics of Monreale” presents the twelve articles of faith as they are found in Catholic Creed, or profession of faith.

The series is presented by Father Innocenzo Gargano, a monk of the Camaldolese order and scholar of scripture and the Church fathers, and by Sara Magister, an art historian.

The Monreale Cathedral was begun near the end of the 12th century in a Romanesque style and is covered in Byzantine-style mosaics.

“The believers who over the past nine centuries had the opportunity to turn their gaze upward and admire the mosaics of the cathedral of Monreale were for the most part illiterate, but not for this reason fatally destined to remain in ignorance,” said the director of TV 2000, Dino Boffo.

“The nourishment of the faith came through the charm of the beautiful, of the majestic. 'One day we will look upon that beautiful face of the Risen One,' Pope Francis said to the cardinals who had just elected him.”

“And so, one foretaste of that unfathomable beauty is precisely in the vault of the apse of Monreale, where the mosaics that decorate the walls of the cathedral converge.”

The Monreale Cathedral is where Romano Guardini spent Holy Week in 1929, and he was struck by how the mosaics formed the faith of the city's inhabitants.

Guardini was a leader of the Liturgical Movement, an early 20th century effort which sought to help the faithful appreciate the beauty and mystery of the liturgy and to help the liturgy inform faith and the spiritual life.

He wrote that the Monreale Cathedral is “grandiose,” of “ineffable beauty,” and said “I am full of gratitude for its existence.”

“What should I say about the splendor of this place? At first, the visitor’s glance sees a basilica of harmonious proportions. Then it perceives a movement within its structure, which is enriched with something new, a desire for transcendence that moves through it to the point of passing beyond it; but all of this culminates in that splendid luminosity.”

He continued, saying that the cathedral's beauty inspired the prayerful participation in the liturgy which he so strongly advocated.

“The crowd sat and watched. The women were wearing veils… Almost no one was reading. All were living in the gaze, all engaged in contemplation. Then it it became clear to me what the foundation of real liturgical piety is: the capacity to find the 'sacred' within the image and its dynamism.”

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Pope's Curia reform council reflects Church diversity

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The eight cardinals Pope Francis has chosen to advise him on church governance and reform of the Curia come from a variety of backgrounds and countries, bringing with them diverse views and realms of experience.

Paolo Gherri, a professor of theology and canon law at the Pontifical Lateran University, told CNA April 16 that he believes it is significant that only one advisor is Italian and all advisors are residential archbishops who do not work in the Roman Curia.

Gherri said the announcement of the advisory council shows that there is “a sort of think tank working on new guidelines of ecclesiastical policy.”

Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy – the group’s secretary – said that the choice of advisors from various parts of the world allows for “enriching and amplifying the forms of communion in the highest echelons of the church institutions,” the Washington Post reports.

The Roman Curia is the Vatican-based administration that helps the Pope carry out his ministry. It has long been the target of criticism for inefficiency and is sometimes accused of corruption.

Though Italians traditionally have disproportionately high representation in the Curia, only one of Pope Francis’ advisors is from Italy: Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello.

Cardinal Bertello is president of the Vatican City State governorate and a former apostolic nuncio to Rwanda, to the United Nations in Geneva, to Mexico, to Italy and to San Marino. He has been a cardinal since June 2012.

The only other advisor from Europe is Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising in Germany. He is the current president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community.

A cardinal since November 2010, he has served on the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

Two advisors come from the English-speaking world.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston has spent much of his time as Archbishop of Boston helping the archdiocese to recover from the clergy sex abuse scandals that led to the resignation of his predecessor. He has been a cardinal since March 2006.

He is a member of the Congregation for the Clergy and of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, has served on the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and has been a member of the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He has been a cardinal since October 2003.

In addition, two of the advisors are from Latin America.

Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa is Archbishop emeritus of Santiago, Chile. He was president of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) from 2003-2007 and a past superior general of the Schoenstatt Movement. He has been a cardinal since 2001 and has served on the Pontifical Council for Culture and on the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

He is joined by Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Cardinal Maradiaga is a member of the Salesian religious order. He was president of CELAM from 1995-1999 and is currently the President of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras.

He has served on the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

In June 2007, he was elected President of Caritas Internationalis, a Catholic charitable agency that performs relief work around the world. He became a cardinal in February 2001.

The lone Asian voice on the council is Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India. He has been a cardinal since 2008 and heads the Asian bishops’ conference. He has served on the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Social Communication.

The final advisor comes from Africa: Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A cardinal since November 2010, he has served on the Congregation for the Evangelization of peoples, the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The advisory group will hold its first meeting Oct. 1-3. It will have no legislative ability but it will serve in an advisory capacity about curial issues.

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Pope: answering God with the heart protects against ideologies

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis spent his homily today reflecting on responding to God’s invitations with the heart and not just the intellect, since this leads to ideologies that falsify the Gospel and weigh down the Church.

“The ideologues falsify the gospel. Every ideological interpretation, wherever it comes from – from (whatever side) – is a falsification of the Gospel,” Pope Francis said April 19 at a Mass he celebrated for employees of the Vatican’s printing press and newspaper.

“And these ideologues, as we have seen in the history of the Church, end up being intellectuals without talent, ethicists without goodness – and let us not so much as mention beauty, of which they understand nothing,” he added.

The Pope based his homily on today’s readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John.

The first reading, drawn from Acts, recalled the conversion of St. Paul on the Road to Damascus, while the Gospel was about Jesus telling the Jews in Capernaum’s synagogue that they would not have eternal life unless they ate his flesh and drank his blood.

Each time Jesus speaks, the Pope said, his voice “passes through our mind and goes to the heart, for Jesus seeks our conversion.”

The two main characters in the first reading, Paul and Ananias, respond like the great figures in salvation history, such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, Moses and Mary, he noted.

“It is the response of humility, of one who welcomes the Word of God with one’s heart.”

“But the doctors,” like those who heard Jesus speaking in the synagogue, “answered only with their heads. They do not know that the Word of God goes to the heart, (they) do not know of conversion.”

“They are the ones who walk only ‘on the path of duty,’” theirs is the moralistic (outlook) of those who pretend to understand the Gospel with their heads alone,” the Pope explained.

However, he cautioned, they are not “on the road to conversion, that conversion to which Jesus calls us.”

In fact, the moralists “load everything on the shoulders of the faithful. The ideologues falsify the gospel.”

In contrast the Holy Father pointed to “the path of love, the way of the Gospel,” which “is simple” and is “the road that the saints understood.”

Pope Francis finished his homily by encouraging all present to pray for the Church, “that the Lord might free her from any ideological interpretation and open the heart of the Church, our Mother Church, to the simple Gospel, to that pure Gospel that speaks to us of love, which brings love, and is so beautiful!

“It also makes us beautiful, with the beauty of holiness,” he said.

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Former NBA player visits Swiss Guard basketball team

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The former Los Angeles Lakers player Vlade Divac was thrilled to meet with the Swiss Guard to discuss sports and learn about their work at the Vatican.

“I was very excited to be here, and they have a basketball team here with very tall people,” the 7-foot, 1-inch Divac joked in the Swiss Guard's barracks.

“I also told them that if they need a coach, I can help them out,” he told CNA April 18.

It was the first time the world-famous player met with members of the Pope's protective force. He came with his wife, Ana, and a small group of participants from the TEDx Conference on Religious Freedom, which is what brought him to town.

“They do a lot of hard work to protect the people at the Vatican,” remarked Divac from his seat atop a centuries old cannon. He was taking a break after a brief tour of their facilities and armory.

One of the Swiss guards, Corporal Urs Breitenmoser, said it was “very awesome and great fun” to receive the former professional basketball player at their barracks.

The guards have a small basketball team that plays once or twice a week against teams from around Rome. Corporal Breitenmoser is their center, the same position Divac played for 16 years in the NBA.

“I’m a big basketball fan and I’ve been following the NBA since the 90s, so I have a pretty good idea of what happened at that time and who Vlade Divac was,” he said.

“So for me it was an incredible personal meeting and for him also since he got to know the Swiss guards, our history, and to see how we do our service for the Holy Father.”

Divac gave Breitenmoser and nearly a dozen other off-duty guards an impromptu lesson on the hook shot. They also talked basketball and about his career at the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings, as well as his “retired” life.

Divac is in Rome to speak alongside others, including singer Gloria Estefan, graffiti artist Mohammed Ali and Soumaya Slim, museum curator and daughter of the world’s richest man.

They are participating in an event called TEDxViadellaConciliazione. The "x" in the title indicates the meeting was organized independently of the TED organization, while the last half of the title refers to the main street that leads to the Vatican, where the event was held.

The TED concept -- which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design -- began in 1984 and it is centered on inviting speakers to give talks on “ideas worth spreading” in 18 minutes or less.

Divac does not play for the Lakers anymore, but he is still involved in sports and is president of the Olympic Committee of Serbia, his homeland.

He now runs Humanitarian Organization Divac, a group that began helping civil war refugees and orphans find homes five years ago.

“We also work with the youth and help them achieve their dreams,” said Divac.

His foundation is currently raising money to help schools in Serbia. He hopes for the peaceful co-existence of people, regardless of religion.

“He is up there,” said Divac, “and we should do things better while we’re here.”

He mentioned that he would one day return to the Vatican and the Swiss Guard for a visit.

“They gave me a jersey with their logo, the number 21, and I promised them to give them an original jersey next time I come,” he said.

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Knights of Columbus to help devastated Texas town

New Haven, Conn., Apr 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Knights of Columbus have announced a donation drive to help the community of West, Texas after a massive fertilizer plant explosion killed a dozen people and demolished homes Wednesday night.

“May God provide eternal rest to the deceased and comfort to all those affected, and may all of us be inspired by the witness and courage of the emergency personnel and bystanders who rushed to the aid of those who were injured at the risk of their own lives,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said April 18.

He said the thoughts and prayers of the Knights of Columbus are with all those killed or injured in Texas.

The explosion at the West Fertilizer Company plant took place after efforts to battle a small fire on the plant premises. It registered with the force of a 2.1-magnitude earthquake on U.S. Geological Survey monitors.

At least 12 bodies, including those of some fire fighters, have been recovered in the wake of the explosion. At least 200 people have been injured and 50 homes have been destroyed.

About half of the town has been evacuated, including a nursing home with 133 residents, CNN reports.

Knights of Columbus Council #2305 in West, Texas is working with local groups and public authorities to help the explosion’s victims. The council has more than 500 members in a town of only 2,800.

The national Knights of Columbus organization is collecting donations for relief efforts through Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc. at the web page

The Catholic fraternal charitable organization is also accepting checks made out to Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., with “Texas Fund” in the memo line. Checks may be mailed to:

Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc.
Texas Fund
1 Columbus Plaza
New Haven, CT 06510

One hundred percent of all donations will be sent to those affected. Donations are tax-deductible.

The donation drive will help marshal the membership of the Knights of Columbus, which has more than 1.8 million members worldwide.

The West community is predominantly Czech and mostly Catholic, the Diocese of Austin said.

The local Catholic church, St. Mary, Church of the Assumption Parish, is located along with its school about one mile from the plant and was not damaged in the blast. The parish has 1,275 registered families and its pre-K-8 school has 136 students and 17 faculty members. St. Mary’s parish hall served as a command center for emergency responders.

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Nearly 15,000 French mayors will refuse to marry gay couples

Paris, France, Apr 19, 2013 (CNA) - A group of at least 14,900 French mayors has said it will not perform “gay marriages,” even if the government moves ahead with plans to legalize the practice.

The administration of French President Francois Hollande has put forth a measure that would legalize “gay marriage,” allow gay couples to receive medical treatment for artificial procreation and to adopt children.

“It is foolish to think that the mobilization of the elected mayors would stop if the law is passed,” said Franck Meyer, spokesman for the association Mayors for Children.

“As citizens, we elected officials will not give up,” he emphasized in statements to the media.

Meyer, who is mayor of Sotteville-sous-le-Val in northern France, observed that some of the mayors in the group have said they “would resign if the law is adopted,” while others “have said they will refuse” to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

On April 12, the French Senate passed the measure sponsored by President Hollande, but it has yet to go before the French National Assembly.

The Senate adopted the measure despite massive opposition from the public, including a demonstration attended by an estimated one million French citizens through the streets of Paris calling for the measure to be voted down.

Nathalie de Williencourt, a French lesbian and founder of one of the largest homosexual associations in France, said in January that most homosexual individuals in the country do not want “gay marriage” or the right to adopt children.

“I am French, I am homosexual. The majority of homosexuals do not want either marriage or adoption, and we especially don’t want to be treated the same as heterosexuals because we are different,” she said. “We don’t want equality but we do want justice.”

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Resolution to lift Boy Scouts' gay ban proposed

Washington D.C., Apr 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Boy Scouts of America have introduced a resolution to reverse a ban on openly gay members, while leaving a ban on openly homosexual troop leaders intact.

In an April 19 statement, the Boy Scouts said that “the Executive Committee, on behalf of the National Executive Board, wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation.”

It added that the resolution would “maintain the current membership policy” of prohibiting openly gay men to serve as adult troop leaders.

The resolution will be receive a vote at the organization’s annual national council in late May.

The announcement of the resolution follows several months of policy review after the Boy Scouts lost funding from high-profile donors such as UPS over the current rules, which bar openly homosexual members. This policy was upheld as a constitutional expression of free speech by the Supreme Court in 2000.

In February, the organization decided to delay a vote on the policy, citing the complexity of the issue and need for continued dialogue and review.

Numerous pro-family groups, including Concerned Women for America, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and Family Research Council, have urged the scouts to continue their current policy, arguing that it helps to protect scouts from sexual abuse and aligns with the group’s founding morals.

In its statement, the Boy Scouts of America said it had undergone “the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history” to gather different viewpoints on the impacts of potentially changing its membership policy.

The organization explained that it had received “a wide range of input” from the scouting community and the American public. Underscoring the complexity of the issue, it said that it remains “extremely difficult to accurately quantify the potential impact of maintaining or changing the current policy.”

The Boy Scouts added that the resolution “reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”

“America needs Scouting, and our policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation's children,” it said.

However, Eagle Scout John Stemberger warned that the resolution would create “a myriad of problems for how to manage and ensure the safety of the boys in the program.”

Stemberger is the founder of OnMyHonor.Net, a nationwide coalition of scouts, parents and leaders who support the Boy Scouts’ current policy.
“The current membership policy of Scouting, which is backed by more than 100 years of tradition, allows anyone to participate irrespective of sexual orientation, but only disallows the open and aggressive promotion of homosexuality and political agendas,” he explained in an April 19 statement.

Arguing that “parents should still have the final say on the issues of sexuality and politics,” he cautioned that a policy change “injects both those topics right into the program.”  

He also warned that the resolution would open the door to lawsuits and is contrary to the convictions of the majority of faith denominations that make up most of the scouts’ chartering partner units.

“We urge the national council to vote against this resolution and uphold the time-tested membership policy of the Boy Scouts,” Stemberger said.

Tony Perkins, president of the D.C.-based Family Research Council, added to the criticism of the proposed resolution, saying it “would introduce open homosexuality into the ranks and eventually the leadership of Scouting.”

“This is totally unacceptable to the vast majority of Scouting parents who want to keep their exclusive right to discuss issues of sexuality with their sons,” he said in a statement Friday.

Perkins added that his organization will continue to “work with thousands of Scouting parents and boys from across the country who want to preserve the Scouts' timeless values that have served the Scouts and the nation well for 103 years.”

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Columnist details Mother Angelica's committed spirit

Denver, Colo., Apr 19, 2013 (CNA) - To honor the 90th birthday of Mother Angelica, founder of Eternal Word Television Network, renowned Catholic author Alice von Hildebrand has written an account of the nun’s refusal “to be defeated.”

“She was born defeated,” von Hildebrand begins, explaining how Mother Angelica, born Ritta Rizzo, was the fruit of an “unhappy marriage,” which resulted in her father abandoning her and her mother.

“How devastating for an alert little girl to realize at an early age, that she was the fruit of a marriage that should not have taken place,” von Hildebrand wrote.

Although she and her mother lived in “utter poverty,” Rizzo was able to attend Catholic school, but “was not given the loving attention she needed” as many of the nuns “did not understand the plight of a child of divorcees.”

It was not until she “miraculously escaped from a deadly accident” that she “understood that God loved her and had given her life for a reason.”

Eventually, that understanding of God’s love for her grew and she heard the calling to her vocation as a nun. Despite objections from her mother, “who depended on her heavily,” she joined the Poor Clares in 1944.

More difficulty presented itself in her life when she entered the convent. Her foot became entangled in a cord while cleaning and she fell backwards, damaging her back and forcing her to wear braces and walk on crutches.

Again “refusing to be defeated,” Mother Angelica felt a calling to found a Poor Clares Monastery in the Deep South, “where the percentage of Catholics is minimal.”

Despite many “highly reasonable” arguments from others, Mother Angelica went on to found “the largest Catholic TV station in the world.”

Von Hildebrand sums up all of the tireless nun’s success in one factor of her life that often goes overlooked: “God often confided his most cherished mission to those who, knowing to be weak, put all their confidence in Him.”

To read the full article, please visit:

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EWTN celebrates Mother Angelica's 90th birthday

Irondale, Ala., Apr 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Eternal Word Television Network is celebrating the 90th birthday of its foundress, Mother Angelica, on April 20 with 90 hours of programming featuring her wit and wisdom.

“I still marvel at what God accomplished through this great woman, and what continues to be accomplished with the ongoing prayers of Mother Angelica and the nuns,” said Michael Warsaw, president and CEO of EWTN, on April 19.

“That a cloistered nun with no experience was able to build a worldwide Catholic media network based in Irondale, Alabama reaffirms my faith every day. It is nothing short of miraculous.”

Mother Angelica was born in 1923 to an Italian-American family in Canton, Ohio. She led a difficult childhood marked by the divorce of her parents and her mother's poverty. In her youth, she suffered ptosis of the stomach, which gave her sever pains, but was remarkably cured, after which she devoted herself to God.

In 1944, Mother Angelica joined the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration, a contemplative Franciscan community. She made her solemn profession of vows in 1953.

In 1961, she founded Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Irondale, a suburb of Birmingham, Ala., which has become the home of EWTN. She later relocated the monastery to the grounds of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, some 45 minutes north of Birmingham.

Mother Angelica began EWTN in a garage on the monastery property in 1981.

EWTN is now available in over 150 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. In its mission, it uses direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM and FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio, an internet website and a publishing arm.

Mother Angelica turned control of EWTN over to a board in 2000, and in 2001 suffered a stroke.

In October 2009, Benedict XVI awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal to Mother Angelica. The medal is the highest honor the Pope can bestow on religious and is given for service to the Church.

“The one thing we keep hearing from our viewers around the world is that Mother’s shows are as relevant now as when they first aired,” Warsaw said. “Even translated into other languages, her message resonates with people across all cultural and geographic boundaries.”

As Mother Angelica observes her 90th birthday, fans of her apostolate have sent numerous messages wishing her a blessed day, both on her Facebook page and at EWTN's website.

“You have been a wonderful inspiration in my life!! You have taught me so much about our faith, and for this I am now closer to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I am truly grateful to you!!! Happy 90th Birthday Mother Angelica!!! God Bless You Always,” wrote one fan.

Another said, “Happy Birthday to Mother Angelica. I have been watching your show for many years since the ‘80s. I am very fortunate as a result and wish you peace and blessings on your birthday!”

Father John Trigilio, an EWTN personality, wrote that when he first met Mother Angelica, she was so humorous that “my sides were hurting.”

“She is so down to earth, genuine, and straight-shooting and VERY Italian. She says what she means and means what she says.”

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