Vatican City, May 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis has appointed Spanish-speaking Bishop Mark J. Seitz to lead the El Paso diocese in western Texas, placing him just across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
“Since I entered the seminary here in Dallas as a young 18-year-old boy, I have loved Dallas and the Church of Dallas,” Bishop Seitz said in a May 6 statement.
“But when I presented myself for ordination as a deacon, I gave my life to God’s service and I promised to be at the disposal of the Church. I accept this call as a new opportunity to follow the Good Shepherd and, with His help, to be one,” he added.
He was ordained as an auxiliary bishop for the Dallas diocese in April 2010, and has been serving there under Bishop Kevin J. Farrell.
“I happily congratulate Bishop Mark Seitz and applaud the decision of our Holy Father to appoint him to lead the Catholic faithful in this important border diocese,” Bishop Farrell said.
His ability to speak Spanish “will be a tremendous asset but he also possesses a prayerful, pastoral manner, keen theological insight and deep devotion to our Church,” the Dallas bishop remarked.
Bishop Seitz was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 10, 1954.
He was ordained a priest on May 17, 1980 and holds master’s degrees in liturgical studies, divinity and theology.
The move from Dallas to El Paso will bring Bishop Seitz across almost the entire state and place him on the border with Mexico.
The diocese was established in 1914 and consists of 10 counties spread over 26,686 square miles. The diocese serves 656,035 Catholics out of a population of 811,739, and is made up of 55 parishes, 20 missions, and has 17 ministries that serve the multicultural, multilingual community.
Vatican City, May 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis said people should ask themselves what the Holy Spirit did in them at the end of each day.
“We should get into the habit of asking ourselves before the end of the day, what did the Holy Spirit do in me?” and “what witness did he give me?” he said during daily Mass on May 6.
He explained that, “it is in this way that we can see how Jesus worked in our hearts. It is the Holy Spirit that opens our hearts to know Jesus.”
The pontiff celebrated the Mass alongside the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Comastri.
Employees who work in the basilica were among those invited to attend the Pope’s morning Mass.
“The Spirit prepares us for our encounter with Jesus, he leads us down the path of Jesus and works in us throughout the day and throughout our lives,” the Pope observed.
He noted that living without the Holy Spirit “would be a religious life, a compassionate life of someone who believes in God but without the vitality that Jesus wants for his disciples.”
According to the pontiff, “without this presence, our Christian lives cannot be understood.”
“He is a divine presence that helps us move forward in our lives as Christians,” he taught.
The Holy Spirit is also important for mission, the Pope said, because he “bears witness to Jesus so that we can give it to others.”
Pope Francis recalled the story of a woman named Lydia whose heart was opened to pay attention to the words of Saint Paul.
“I ask that people be granted the grace to become accustomed to the presence of the Holy Spirit, this witness of Jesus who tells us where Jesus is, how to find Jesus, what Jesus tells us,” he remarked.
Arusha, Tanzania, May 6, 2013 (CNA) -
A top official with the charity Caritas Tanzania says a Sunday attack on a new Catholic parish was the first of its kind for the East African country.
“It is not normal and this has never happened in our country before,” said Joachim Wangabo, executive secretary of Caritas Tanzania, in a May 6 interview with CNA.
“The government says it is associated with Muslim terrorists, but it is necessary to know why it happened,” he stated.
The attack happened May 5 as parishioners were beginning a Mass to officially open the new Saint Joseph’s Catholic parish in the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha.
According to Wangabo, the government officially reported that one woman died and 60 people were injured.
Magesa Mulongo, the Arusha regional commissioner, told AFP May 6 that six people had been arrested for the attack, two Tanzanians and four Saudis.
The bomb was thrown from a motorcycle into the church, according to eyewitnesses, and officials said the driver was arrested.
The attack happened despite heavy security for the inauguration of the church.
But the Caritas official noted that recent incidents, including one in Zanzibar where a Catholic priest was shot in the head and another where buildings were set on fire, were “not like this.”
“We are very much shocked because it is the first time this happened in a church, when people were about to start praying and the Mass was about to begin,” explained Wangabo, who is based in Dar es Salaam.
According to the executive secretary, Catholics will react “with an official statement by the president of the episcopal bishops’ conference, which has not yet been released.
“Caritas is waiting for information from the archdiocese so we can give our response,” Wangabo explained.
Caritas Tanzania is a Catholic charity that coordinates with 29 diocesan offices throughout the country.
The Pope’s representative to Tanzania, Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, escaped unhurt from the explosion.
“I would like to express my solidarity to the Archbishop of Arusha and to the whole Catholic community of Arusha, for the very sad event that happened,” said Archbishop Padilla.
“The attack should not have happened because it was a celebration of joy, of opening a new church, a new parish,” he told Vatican Radio in an interview published on May 6.
Archbishop Padilla said he is praying for “the victims who have died and those who are wounded, some of them very gravely.”
“I pray that peace will always reign, that violence would not be the way to resolve tensions,” he stated.
“This is my hope, and I hope that I can also contribute to the continuance of peaceful coexistence in this country, which has always been there in the last many years,” he said.
Vatican City, May 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - On the day that it will swear in 35 new members and commemorate the fallen, the Swiss Guard was told by Pope Francis that it has “a privileged opportunity” to deepen its knowledge of Christ by breathing in the catholicity of the Church.
Every May 6, the corps remembers the 147 Swiss soldiers who died defending Pope Clement VII during the 1527 Sack of Rome. In addition, the Swiss Guard also swears in new members for two years of service at the Vatican.
In anticipation of the new recruits joining the corps, the Pope received them and their families in an audience today at 12:45 p.m.
“Today,” he began, “you are not called to this heroic gesture but to another form of sacrifice, which is also challenging: to put your youthful energies at the service of the Church and the Pope. To do this you must be strong, motivated by love, and sustained by your faith in Christ.”
Pope Francis advised them to remember the faith that led them to choose to join the Swiss Guard.
“(T)he faith that God has given you on the day of your baptism is the most precious treasure you have! And your mission of service to the Pope and the Church also finds its source there,” he said.
The Holy Father also pointed out that their service has a missionary aspect, since they “are called upon to bear witness to your faith with joy and a courteous manner.
“How important this is for so many people who pass through Vatican City! But it is also important for those who work here for the Holy See and for me as well!” he added.
Pope Francis also noted that their presence “is a sign of the strength and the beauty of the Gospel that, in every time, calls the young to follow it.”
He finished by saying, “(t)oday when some of you swear to faithfully carry out your service in the Guard and others renew this oath in their hearts, think that your service is a testimony to Christ who calls you to be authentic men and true Christians, protagonists of your own existence.”
The swearing-in ceremony will be held at 5:00 p.m. this evening in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. It was originally scheduled for the St. Damaso Courtyard, but rain led to a change of location.
Archbishop Angelo Becciu will be present at the ceremony as the Pope’s representative, as well as the president of the Swiss Confederation, Ueli Maurer.
New York City, N.Y., May 6, 2013 (CNA) - A Broadway show that depicted the Virgin Mary as a doubting skeptic who thought Jesus died in vain failed to attract a large audience and closed on Sunday less than two weeks after it opened.
“The Testament of Mary” was a monologue written by the by the Irish writer Colm Toibin.
The play envisioned Mary, performed by actress Fiona Shaw, as a critic of Christianity who doubts Jesus’ divinity and believes his friends are a bad influence. Mary is portrayed as someone with anger and sorrow over Jesus’ crucifixion, The Hollywood Reporter says.
The play was originally scheduled to run at the Walter Kerr Theatre from April 22 to June 16. Instead, it closed after 27 previews and 16 regular performances.
In its first week, the show grossed about $216,000, only about 27 percent of its full potential, according to the Associated Press, which called the play “a victim of poor reviews and ticket sales.”
The script was based on a novella also written by Toibin, who is an ex-Catholic.
“The Testament of Mary” was recently nominated for Tony Awards for best play, lighting and sound. However, the nominations failed to garner the audience necessary for the play to survive a full two weeks after opening on Broadway.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League called the play an “angry discourse on Catholicism.”
“The play bombed. That’s why it closed,” he said in a May 6 statement.
“Quite frankly, there aren’t enough people who want to spend their evenings watching a dark performance about a fanciful Virgin Mary who rejects the divinity of her son.”
Washington D.C., May 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops have reiterated their support for a federal regulation that would block American investments from supporting militias in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“The rule is consistent with Catholic teaching on protection of human life and dignity,” wrote Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, to Bishop Nicolas Djomo Lola of Tshumbe, president of the bishops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Bishop Pates, who serves as the chair of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S. bishops’ conference, noted that the regulation “takes into account the lived experience of the Church in your country,” as well as that of Catholic Relief Services and other agencies in the area.
He added that the regulation “also meets our concern of providing appropriate coverage of issuers and products, and ensuring information submitted to the SEC is accurate, verifiable and easily available to investors and consumers.”
The rule, which is part of the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, requires that the Securities and Exchange Commission create restrictions preventing U.S. funds from supporting armed militias.
The regulation is currently being challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit.
The U.S. bishops’ conference voiced its support of the rule when it was first announced, which Bishop Pates noted in his letter.
He also praised the “tireless efforts” of Bishop Djomo, “along with those of your brother bishops and the entire Church community,” who have “long exemplified courageous leadership in the face of violent conflict.”
“We send our ongoing prayers as innocent people in your country suffer and die at the hands of militias who control illegal mines, divide up your country and eliminate the rule of law,” Bishop Pates wrote.
Bishop Djomo has voiced his support for the limiting of American funding to Congolese militias. During a May 2012 testimony before a U.S. Congressional committee, the African bishop voiced his support of laws promoting transparency, particularly for mining companies, to ensure that violent groups are not funded.
“The Church in the Congo trusts that the business community can and will join us to protect the life and human dignity of the Congolese people by conducting legal, transparent and accountable international commerce,” he said.
“We are confident that they do not want to be part of the misery that has plagued Eastern Congo for years.”
Washington D.C., May 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a recent Virginia forum, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) highlighted the largely unknown problem of human trafficking within the United States, offering suggestions for how to fight “modern day slavery.”
While many see slavery as a problem of history, Wolf said, “slavery, of a different sort, still exists today.”
He also stressed that human trafficking is a local issue, with girls being held in sex slavery within the state of Virginia.
Wolf delivered his comments at a May 3 meeting with state and local officials in McLean, Va. The gathering, hosted by state delegates Barbara Comstock and Tim Hugo, was aimed at discussing ways to fight human trafficking in the state.
According to the non-profit group Shared Hope International, over 100,000 American children are exploited through pornography or prostitution annually.
The congressman remarked that he has “seen credible reports of nearly 80 establishments” in Northern Virginia that serve as centers for human trafficking and exploitation.
“We walk and drive by them every day,” he said.
Wolf listed the internet and gangs as major components in the spread and success of human trafficking. He stated that sites such as Facebook and Backpage.com permit individuals to meet and take advantage of victims.
The congressman also expressed concern that the opening of a casino in the Maryland National Harbor would lead to a growth in human trafficking in the region.
Stressing the need for action, Wolf said that he has “repeatedly asked Attorney General Holder and the Department of Justice to provide an analysis of whether there are sufficient laws on the books to prosecute the type of activity that Backpage.com engages in” and to take steps to “fully equip law enforcement to tackle this problem” if necessary.
So far, he said that his requests have not been acknowledged by the attorney general.
Gangs also provide an avenue for the victimization of young women and girls, he continued, praising efforts by groups such as the Gang Response Intervention Team to help educate individuals in the community and ensure that if abuse does occur, “women and girls who have been victimized do not fall through the cracks.”
Wolf recognized the critical role of government, particularly law enforcement, in ending human trafficking and supporting victims with important social services.
However, he also stressed the need for community involvement through “churches, non-profits and other civil society organizations,” saying that these institutions “stand in the gap and do the hard work of bringing hope and restoration in the aftermath of unimaginable exploitation, abuse and fear.”