Archive of April 26, 2013

Brooklyn diocese launches 'hipster' Jesus ad campaign

Brooklyn, N.Y., Apr 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new ad campaign by the Diocese of Brooklyn is hoping to attract the unchurched, with a series of posters calling Christ “The original hipster,” as well as ads designed for gyms and bars.

“We're called to go where the people proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ where people are, be that a bar, gym, restaurant, or what have you,” Monsignor Kieran Harrington, vicar for communications at the Brooklyn diocese and campaign creator, told CNA April 24.

“It's not about accommodating Christ to ourselves, but accommodating ourselves to Christ, changing our life; we enter into a deep relationship with Christ and the Church, and our life is changed.”

The ad which has garnered the most attention is one which depicts Christ in a robe and Chuck Taylor sneakers, calling him “The original hipster.” The bottom of the ad, placed at bus stops and phone booths throughout Brooklyn and Queens, reads “All Faces. Everyday Understanding.”

Msgr. Harrington said that though it's acknowledged that Christ was a Semitic man shorter and darker than popular depiction, nevertheless every culture produces its own images of him.

“Religious depictions of Jesus generally represent the people of a particular given day. People in northern Europe and other places often show him having blonde hair and blue eyes. Other places, in Asia, Africa, Latin America, you might see a different depiction of Jesus.”

“Well in Brooklyn, there's a lot of young bohemian type folks, and this representation is to enable them to see that we're all called to be another Christ in the world by virtue of our baptism.”

The “hipster” depiction of Christ is meant to appeal to the broad demographic of vaguely counter-cultural, Pabst Blue Ribbon-swilling 20-somethings who are more likely to be agnostic or “spiritual but not religious” than regular Mass-goers.

“The point of the Church is precisely that we shouldn't think that just because of how someone dresses, if they wear Converse sneakers, that they can't come to church on Sunday or won't find understanding in church on Sunday,” said Msgr. Harrington.

“We've got to think of ways to provoke a conversation, because a lot of people come to us with pre-conceived notions about what people who are religious are like, in the same way that a lot of religious people have pre-conceived notions about other people.”

Rather than the Church “accommodating to a different way of life,” the monsignor said the ads are an effort to enter into dialogue with those whom it doesn't often encounter. “That's what Jesus did; he entered into dialogue with the woman caught in adultery, and with the woman at the well.”

An additional ad posted by the Brooklyn diocese features a photo of a treadmill and is placed in gyms with the caption: “Tired of running in place? Attend Mass.”

Another one placed in bars and restaurants shows a man “who's clearly been partying too long,” as Msgr. Harrington said, that asks, “Should I get a new habit?”

“There's a lot of noise in Brooklyn, lots of people competing for attention,” he said. “You have to cut through the noise, and this ad campaign was meant to do that.”

The “All Faces” campaign is meant to reach out to the diverse cultural make-up of Brooklyn and Queens. It runs in Spanish and Chinese as well as English, and links to a parish locator on the diocese's website.

“Whether you're from Guatemala or China or Tennessee, and living in Brooklyn and Queens, all people are welcome at church and we understand where you're coming from,” Msgr. Harrington said.

The ads note that the diocese has over 230 churches in the two boroughs. In a diocese of only 179 square miles, that should serve to remind people that they're never far from a Catholic parish.

“It's prompting people to hopefully go back to Mass,” reflected Msgr. Harrington.

“When they go to church they'll have the opportunity to hear the gospel message, which is very outward focused, in terms of how the encounter with Christ radically transforms the way I live.”

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Law must be based in truth, archbishop tells judges

Miami, Fla., Apr 26, 2013 (CNA) - Discussing the push for same-sex “marriage,” Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami told judges and lawyers at the city's 2013 Red Mass that freedom and law must be based on reality and objective truth.

“When a democracy bases itself on moral relativism and when it considers every ethical principle or value to be negotiable … it is already, and in spite of its formal rules, on its way to totalitarianism,” Archbishop Wenski preached during his homily on April 24.

“The might of right quickly becomes might makes right.”

The Red Mass is traditionally an annual Mass of the Holy Spirit for the sake of legal professionals. The Mass preceded a reception of the Miami Catholic Lawyers Guild, in which Judge Beatrice Butchko received the “Lex Christi, Lex Amoris,” or “Law of Christ, Law of Love” award.

Archbishop Wenski opened his homily by quoting Abraham Lincoln, who noted that even “if you call a tail a leg,” a cow still has only four legs, “because calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one.”

The archbishop noted that same-sex “marriage” has been pushed as “a cause for equality,” and that withholding benefits from homosexual couples given to married heterosexual couples is “alleged to be discriminatory.”

“Of course, as fair-minded citizens we do hold that no one should be denied a job or a house; no one should be subjected to harassment or bullying because of one’s apparent sexual orientation. We should oppose any and all unjust discrimination,” he clarified.

However, to “recognize and favor” the marriage of straight couples “as a natural fact rooted in procreation and sexual difference is in no way unjust to homosexual couples any more than it is unjust to heterosexual couples who cohabitate without the legal benefits and protections of a civil marriage.”

The state justly favors stable heterosexual relationships because they serve the common good, he said, just as only businesses which create more jobs in an area receive tax breaks, and military veterans receive benefits that others do not.

Government recognition of marriages exists to “encourage and support … the optimal conditions for the raising of future generations of its citizens,” he explained.

Archbishop Wenski said the legalization of “gay marriage” will “fundamentally change this,” opening a Pandora's Box of “unforeseen, and to be sure, unintended consequences.” He noted that the adoption of no-fault divorce 40 years ago has similarly had unintended but devastating consequences on society.

“Rather than see the institution of marriage as expressive of the complementarity of sexual difference between a man and a woman, ordered for the raising of children, the proponents of so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ would now redefine marriage for all as existing solely for the gratification of two (and why just two?) consenting adults,” he pointed out.

The archbishop continued, showing that American jurisprudence has gone from an acknowledgement of self-evident truths and unalienable rights based on the Creator to a belief in a supposed “right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

That line was part of the Supreme Court's 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, co-authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, on the “right to abortion.”

Archbishop Wenski called this an “endorsement of moral relativism,” which determines truth “by one's own will” rather than “the nature of things.” Same sex marriage, he said, is the “most current poster child” for this viewpoint.

On the other hand, the view held by Christianity, and the Founding Fathers, is one that believes “men and women are not self-creators but creatures. Truth is not constructed, but received, and it must reflect the reality of things.”

Without objective truth based on natural law, society will reach a “dead end,” the archbishop said.

“And our pluralistic society has reached this dead end when it seems to be based precisely on a common agreement to set aside truth claims about the good and to adopt instead relativism governed by majority rule as the foundation of democracy.”

Such a society loses the true understanding of justice, and is ruled only by the untempered will of the majority, he explained.

But this was not the vision of America's founders, Archbishop Wenski noted. Rather, their “vision of freedom was one of ordered liberties, a vision remarkably congruent with Catholic social thought.”

He suggested that Jefferson, Adams, Monroe and Lincoln all shared a common vision of law, justice and freedom with Saints Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More, the patrons of lawyers and politicians, respectively.

“They found meaning in the reality of things, the reality of the created order – an order accessible to human reason,” the archbishop said.

“They would certainly concede that both the State and the Church, each within its respective sphere, might regulate marriage; but they would never pretend to usurp the authority to create the meaning of marriage.”

Archbishop Wenski concluded by telling the assembled judges and lawyers that they “do well to recall St. Thomas More's example and to seek his prayers.”

“May you be, in his words, 'for the greater glory and honor of God and in pursuit of His justice…able in argument, accurate in analysis, strict in study, correct in conclusion, candid with clients, honest with adversaries, and faithful in all details of the faith.'”

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Pope's plans for encyclical, travel disclosed

Vatican City, Apr 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis could issue his first encyclical this year and so far is only planning one international trip in 2013, according to Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi.

Fr. Lombardi said that he "would not exclude" the possibility of Pope Francis issuing his first encyclical "within this year," Vatican Radio reported April 25.

The Vatican spokesman explained that Benedict XVI had already laid the groundwork for an encyclical on the virtue of faith in late 2012 and that Pope Francis could easily revise it and add his own insights to the text.

The encyclical was planned for release in early 2013 but the resignation of Benedict XVI caused the timeline to be adjusted.

Speaking to CNA just days before the announcement, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, said Benedict XVI was “working on a new encyclical on the faith” and that “we expect it will be published during the Year of Faith.”

The idea of a Pope picking up the work of his predecessor is not unprecedented. Pope Benedict reportedly crafted his first encyclical, “Deus caritas est,” using some of John Paul II’s notes.  

Fr. Lombardi also revealed on April 25 in a meeting with the international press at Rome’s Foreign Press Association that Pope Francis might only make one trip overseas in 2013.

“I invite you to not expect others to trips abroad this year,” he said, adding that the Pope is likely to visit Assisi.

“The program will follow the desires of the Pope,” Alberto Gassbari, the Pope’s international trip coordinator, told Vatican Radio on April 25.

Finally, Fr. Lombardi confirmed that Benedict XVI is planning to move to Mater Ecclesiae monastery on May 1 and that Pope Francis will remain in Casa Santa Marta.

The Pope “is very well settled,” the Vatican spokesman said. “At the moment, he does not seem to want to change his dwelling, even if a final decision has not been made.”

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Pope says life is 'journey of preparation' for heaven

Vatican City, Apr 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - “The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation” for heaven, Pope Francis said during his homily at Friday morning Mass.

The Pope reflected on the Gospel passage from St. John for today in which Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid or troubled because he goes to prepare a place in the Father’s house for them.

“Prepare a place means preparing our ability to enjoy the chance, our chance, to see, to feel, to understand the beauty of what lies ahead, of that homeland towards which we walk,” he remarked.

Members of the Vatican Typography office attended the Eucharistic celebration on April 26, alongside the Vatican Labor Office and Vatican State Police inside St. Martha’s House chapel.

The Pope noted that Jesus talks “like a friend, even with the attitude of a pastor.”

“Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me,” says Jesus, according to today’s Gospel.

“In my Father’s house there are many rooms, if it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” Christ asked the disciples.

The Pope called these “really beautiful words” and asked the congregation what they thought that “place” was like.

“What does prepare a place mean, does it mean renting a room up there?” he asked.

He explained that life is a journey of preparation that involves expanding our eyes, minds and hearts.

It means “beginning to greet him from afar. This is not alienation: this is the truth, this is allowing Jesus to prepare our hearts, our eyes for the beauty that is so great. It is the path of beauty and ‘the path to the homeland,’” he preached.

But sometimes “the Lord has to do it quickly as he did with the good thief.”

“He only had a few minutes to prepare him and he did it,” he affirmed.

“But Father,” the Pope said recounting a common objection, “I went to a philosopher and he told me that all these thoughts are an alienation, that we are alienated, that life is this, the concrete, and no-one knows what is beyond.”

“Some think this is so but Jesus tells us that it is not so and says ‘have faith in me,’” the Pope stated.

He compared Jesus to an engineer and an architect when he recalled Jesus saying he would prepare a place in his Father’s house.

“And Jesus goes to prepare a place for us,” he concluded.

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Church will benefit from Latin America's evangelization history

Rome, Italy, Apr 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Before meeting with the first Latin American Pope on Thursday, Colombian Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gomez said the South American Church will help the universal Church with its rich history of evangelization.

“There is no doubt that the richness of the evangelizing experience of the Latin American Church is going to benefit the universal Church,” Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gomez told CNA on April 24.

Cardinal Salazar is the vice president of the Episcopal Council of Latin America and the Caribbean, or CELAM, and he met with the Pope on April 25 alongside the council’s five other directors to greet him and offer their support.

The Colombian cardinal said that it was “about time” that Latin America “donated” a Pope to the Church.

“This is for us a huge importance and a reason for profound joy,” he commented.

Cardinal Salazar believes that the Church in South America needs to show “a clear example” of how the Church’s evangelization efforts should look.

CELAM has representatives from 22 bishops’ conferences in Latin America and the Caribbean, and its leaders meet every year in Rome to visit the Pope, as well as the different Vatican departments.

On April 24 they visited the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and its members, including the commission’s secretary, Guzmán Carriquiry.

“Our annual visit to the Holy See is an opportunity to dialogue with dicasteries (departments) and be able to help them or to receive their petition to promote a certain subject,” said Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla, Mexico.

“It is a pleasure to be able to meet the Pope,” Archbishop Aguiar commented, “and we want to tell him that he can count on us.”

Pope Francis, he said, is not only “a man of wisdom” but also “a decisive man who is capable of governing and knows clearly what the Church needs.”

“I am certain he will carry out the reform that the cardinals proposed in the general congregations,” Archbishop Aguiar said.

In his view, the fact that there is a Latin American Pope means “a great responsibility” for the Church on the continent.

“It’s true that it’s a great joy but that it also means commitment,” said Archbishop Aguiar.

“It’s not a joy for a short moment,” he qualified, “but rather a joy that should move our conscience to realize that if God has set his eyes on a son of Latin America and on the Church that makes a pilgrimage there, he also wants that those that make up this Church give a specific and important contribution to the life of the Church, in general.”

Cardinal Salazar, Archbishop Aguiar and three other bishops met with Pope Francis on April 25 at 11:45 in the morning.

Marta Jimenez Ibanez contributed to this report.

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Letter from Pope to Jesuit brother highlights gratitude

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Apr 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Mario Rafael Rausch, a Jesuit brother from Argentina who lives at the San Miguel School in Buenos Aires, said that Pope Francis taught him an important lesson on gratitude back in 1979.

In an interview with CNA, Brother Rausch, who joined the Jesuits in 1977, explained that he wrote a letter thanking the Pope – who was then known as Father Jorge Bergoglio – for his service as provincial of Argentina for over six years.

Four days letter, in December 1979, he received a reply from then-Fr. Bergoglio.

“Your letter of December 8 is one of gratitude, and being thankful is a virtue that St. Ignatius wanted for his Jesuits,” the future Pope told him.

“To know how to thank one’s superiors and brothers is a sign that one’s heart is grateful to God our Lord, and a grateful heart is always a source of grace for the entire body of the Society and the Church.”

The provincial encouraged Brother Rausch to “thank the Lord for so many graces he has given you – your family, your vocation, the novitiate, your piety, your virtues.” He also encouraged gratitude for the witness of the saints and the members of his community.

“And finally, offer many prayers of thanksgiving, that the Lord will help you to always be good.”

Brother Rausch said he still has the letter, now more than 30 years old, and takes good care of it.

He explained that then-Father Bergoglio not only answered his letter, but would also call him on his birthday. This year was no exception, as he received a phone call from Pope Francis on March 23.

“The Pope called me to say hello just as he has on that day for many years. He did these kind things because he was very close with many people,” the Jesuit brother said.

His secretary, Raquel Beterette, became very emotional when she picked up the phone and recognized the Pope’s voice. 

“She transferred the call to me right when I was working in my bookbinding workshop, and she told me very surprisingly, ‘The Pope is calling you!’” Brother Rausch said.

“‘Happy Birthday,’ he said to me. And I said, ‘How are you Jorge? Well, now Francis.’ He likes people to call him Jorge, as always.” 

“He sounded happy and in the mood for jokes,” the Jesuit brother recalled. “We didn’t talk for long because it was a long distance call and I tried to be brief, because while he is very thoughtful, he is also very austere, so the conversation was short.”

Brother Rausch said he was not surprised that Cardinal Bergoglio was elected Pope. The news of his election brought great joy, he said, as Pope Francis is “good teacher, father, brother and now friend.”

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Dates, theme revealed for 2016 Eucharistic Congress

Cebu, Philippines, Apr 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -  The Archdiocese of Cebu in the Philippines has announced that the next International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Cebu City on May 23-29, 2016.

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu publicized the dates on April 26, according to the Catholics Bishops Conference of the Philippines.

The assembly is expected to draw thousands of participants – including laity and Church leaders – from countries around the world.

Held every four years, the International Eucharistic Congress seeks to witness to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to promote a better understanding of the liturgy and Eucharist in the life of the Church.

The last gathering was held in Dublin, Ireland in 2012. The Philippines has previously hosted the Congress in Manila in 1937.

Archbishop Palma said theologians in the country have been discussing topics that will be covered at the Congress.

At a recent meeting with the planning committee in Rome, the archbishop said that Pope Francis has been invited to attend the 2016 event.

The archdiocese also announced that the theme for the upcoming Congress will be “Christ in You: Our Hope of Glory.”

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Serve vigilantly, Archbishop Broglio tells new military bishop

Washington D.C., Apr 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Archdiocese for Military Services received a new auxiliary bishop on Thursday, as Msgr. Robert J. Coyle was ordained with exhortations to remain humble, vigilant and faithful to the Gospel.

“The successor of the apostles is humble and recognizes that he has received everything from God. He is sober and alert so as to be vigilant,” Military Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio told Bishop-designate Coyle in his homily before the ordination.

He encouraged the new bishop to listen willingly to those he serves.

“Much of your ministry will be listening as you allow the soldier to tell his story, the veteran afflicted with PTSD relate what brought him to this point, or the Marine share her pride in the corps,” he said.

The April 25 ordination Mass took place in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Born in Brooklyn and ordained to the priesthood in 1991, Bishop Coyle served as a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and pastor of a New York parish before Pope Benedict XVI picked him to become a bishop.

The 48-year-old is a decorated Navy chaplain who served as a command chaplain on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier. He also served on the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier during a deployment to the Persian Gulf. He is a past command chaplain at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

In his homily, Archbishop Broglio reminded Bishop Coyle of the need to share the Gospel.

“Like the apostles whose unworthy successors we are, we seek that personal conversion and then go forth to invite every person to meet the Lord Jesus and discover in him the only path to the fullness of life,” he said.

“We never forget that the good news has a unique and exclusive object: the person, the teaching, and the ministry of Jesus, only Messiah and truly the Son of God.”

The archbishop also had bracing words about the religious freedom situation in the United States. Religious liberty concerns have become increasingly prominent in the military, as chaplains have reported prohibitions, threats and disciplinary action for speaking about the Church’s teaching on marriage and homosexuality.

“The fight for the freedom of conscience has reached our shores and we find ourselves on the front lines. Fidelity to the Gospel has a higher price and vigilance is necessary,” Archbishop Broglio said, adding that “we cannot be blind to the challenges of the present day.”

He further reflected on the mission of the military archdiocese.

“Very much like the apostles, pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A, has the globe as its area of ministry. We are challenged with a shortage of priests, an abundant flock, and daunting distances,” he said.

“Bishop-elect Coyle, I am grateful for your willingness to accept this ministry and to leave behind the familiar to embrace the nomadic task of pastoral visitation.”

Bishop Coyle will serve as episcopal vicar for the eastern half of the U.S. He succeeds Bishop Joseph W. Estabrook, who died last year.

The Archdiocese for Military Services provides Catholic pastoral ministries and religious services to members of the U.S. armed forces and their families. It serves more than 220 installations in 29 countries and has responsibility for the pastoral care of over 1.8 million Catholics.

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Diocese affirms need for Catholic fidelity after teacher fired

Columbus, Ohio, Apr 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following controversy over the firing of a Catholic school gym teacher who was in a homosexual relationship, the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio has said that educators must respect Catholic teaching and morals.

The Diocese of Columbus said that personnel matters are confidential under diocesan policy and cannot be discussed specifically.

Speaking “in general terms,” the diocese said in a statement, all Catholic school personnel agree at the beginning of their employment to “abide by the rules, regulations, and policies of the Catholic Diocese, including respecting the moral values advanced by the teachings of Christ.”

“The Catholic Church respects the fundamental dignity of all persons but also must insist that those in its employ respect the tenets of the Church,” the diocese continued. “Personnel who choose to publicly espouse relationships or principles that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church cannot, ultimately, remain in the employ of the Church.”

The diocese’s statement comes after media controversy surrounding the firing of Carla Hale, a former physical education teacher who had taught for 19 years at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus.

The teacher was fired after a parent noticed her same-sex relationship listed in her mother’s obituary and reported it to the diocese.

Hale told the CBS TV affiliate WBNS she was “shocked” that she has been fired over her relationship.

“I don’t think I’m immoral, I don’t think I've done anything that’s unethical,” she said.

Her attorney has said they will file a civil rights complaint with the City of Columbus’ community relations committee.

In 2008, the city passed an ordinance barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. However, according to the NBC TV affiliate WCMH, the school’s principal explained to Hale that her termination was not due to the fact that she was a lesbian, but because she had was a relationship with another woman, an action that violates Church teaching.

Morals clauses have been invoked to end the employment of heterosexual teachers at Catholic schools as well. In 2009, Xavier High School in Appleton, Wisc. declined to renew the contract of a male physical education teacher and baseball coach, reportedly after it learned he spent the night at a girlfriend’s house.

The Columbus city ordinance lacks an exemption for religious organizations, but present jurisprudence might protect the diocese from legal action.

It is not clear how the diocese would be affected if it is not exempt from the law. Violators of the ordinance can be criminally prosecuted for a first-degree misdemeanor and can face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, the National Catholic Register reports.

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