Archive of May 26, 2013

Military archbishop honors, gives thanks for US veterans

Washington D.C., May 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The head of the military archdiocese honored veterans and those on active duty, thanking members of the armed forces and praying for all who have served in the protection of the United States.

“We gather in this Basilica of the National Shrine to the Immaculate Conception, because we want to give thanks in that perfect prayer for all of those who have served,” said Archbishop Timothy Broglio at the May 19 Mass of Remembrance in Washington, D.C.

“We are able to be here in prayer, because women and men have set aside their security, their plans, their families, and what is familiar in order to serve this Nation whose foundation is based on principles.”

“How can we fail to pray for those who have assured those principles throughout the 237 years of our national existence?” he asked.

The Memorial Mass was sponsored by the Archdiocese for the Military Services, and was the 19th year the archdiocese has sponsored this Mass. The archbishop served as the principal celebrant and homilist and, according to the Archdiocese two auxiliary bishops and “more than two dozen” priests and deacons concelebrated and assisted.

The Mass prayed in a particular way for the sacrifices of members of the armed services and “the families who still suffer the ravages of war.”

Archbishop Broglio also offered prayers “for the fallen so that they might also dwell in the presence of the Author of all,” including for those buried in Arlington National Cemetery and recent posthumous Medal of Honor recipient, Father Emil Kapaun.

In the weeks preceding the Mass, the archdiocese also “collected many petitions and request for remembrance” from around the globe.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services is responsible for the pastoral care of the nearly 2 million Catholics who serve in the United States Armed Forces, are enrolled in military academies, or are patients in VA hospitals and medical centers, as well as their families and United States civilian government personnel deployed overseas.

The archdiocese is the only body that is responsible for overseeing the military’s 265 Catholic chaplains, as well as deacons and lay ministers, and helps to oversee the spiritual and sacramental life of Catholics in military service.

While all chaplains volunteer as members of the Armed Services, and are paid by the federal government, the archdiocese itself is not under the purview of the United States government.

Although it is based in the United States, it is technically considered a “mission diocese” with no borders or geographically defined territory. “Its mission is worldwide and it supports the military members and their families wherever they are assigned or deployed,” the archdiocese website states.

In his homily, Archbishop Broglio reflected upon the worldwide nature of the Archdiocese’s scope and its connection to the gifts of Pentecost.

Reflecting upon Christ’s victory over death, the archbishop rejoiced that “Lamb of God who has taken upon Himself the sins of the world makes certain that the Church will continue to apply that victory to the concrete situation of believers everywhere.”

“How important it is that such a priceless gift be assured for the men and women in harm’s way,” he remarked.

“It is in the celebration of penance and the Holy Eucharist that the specificity of the Catholic chaplain is made manifest. Were this Archdiocese for the Military Services to offer nothing else, providing priests for that purpose alone would justify her existence!”

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Feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury falls on May 27

Denver, Colo., May 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - An Italian Benedictine monk who became the “Apostle of the English,” Saint Augustine of Canterbury is honored by the Catholic Church on May 27.

Under the direction of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Augustine founded the famous See of Canterbury and preached the Catholic faith to the country's Anglo-Saxon pagans during the late sixth and early seventh centuries.

He is not be confused with the earlier St. Augustine of Hippo, the famous author of the “Confessions” and “City of God.”

Augustine's date of birth cannot be established, nor are any details of his early life known. Most likely born in Rome, to a noble family, he entered monastic life as a young man. The community he joined had been recently founded by a Benedictine monk named Gregory, who would go on to become Pope and eventually be known as St. Gregory the Great. The friendship between Gregory and Augustine had great historical consequences, as it was the Pope who would eventually send his fellow monk to evangelize England.

Around 595, five years into his 14-year pontificate, Pope Gregory set to work on a plan for the conversion of the English people. The Catholic faith had already been preached and accepted among England's original Celtic inhabitants, in earlier times; but from the mid-fifth century onward, the country was dominated by Anglo-Saxon invaders who did not accept Christianity, and were not converted by the small number of isolated Celtic Christian holdouts. Thus, England largely had to be evangelized anew.

For this task the Pope chose a group of around forty monks – including Augustine, who was to represent the delegation and communicate on its behalf. Though he was not explicitly chosen as its leader at that time, that was the role he ended up taking on with Gregory’s support. The group left for England in June 596, but some of the missionaries lost their nerve after hearing fearsome reports about the Anglo-Saxons. Augustine ended up returning to Rome, where he got further advice and support from the Pope.

Persuaded to continue on their way, the missionary-monks reached their port of departure and set sail for England in spring of 597. After arriving they gained an audience with King Ethelbert of Kent, a pagan ruler whose Frankish wife Queen Bertha was a Christian. Speaking with the king through an interpreter, Augustine gave a powerful and straightforward presentation of the Gospel message, speaking of Christ’s redemption of the world and his offer of eternal life.

Ethelbert would later convert, and eventually even be canonized as a saint. But his initial response to Augustine’s preaching was only mildly positive: he would receive the missionaries with hospitality, and permit them to evangelize without any restriction. Despite his early ambivalence, however, the king became a generous patron of the monks. They made their home in Canterbury, after dramatically entering the city in procession with the Cross and an image of Christ.

The Canterbury community lived according to the Rule of St. Benedict, as they had in Italy, but they also preached in the surrounding area in accordance with their mission. Augustine and his companions succeeded in converting King Ethelbert himself, while Queen Bertha also became more zealous in her practice of the faith after her husband’s baptism. Augustine traveled to Gaul, where he was consecrated as a bishop for the English Church. By Christmas of 597, over ten thousand people were actively seeking baptism from the missionaries.

Through his written correspondence, Pope Gregory continued to guide the work of Augustine – the first Archbishop of Canterbury – and the other Catholic missionaries. The great Pope, and the “Apostle of England,” would both die during the same year, 604.

Though Augustine had not managed to sort out some disagreements with the native Celtic bishops, he had given the faith a firm foothold among the Anglo-Saxons. Canterbury would continue on for centuries as the ranking see of English Catholicism, until its fall into schism during the 16th century.

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Human dignity, Church teaching emphasized amid Boy Scout decision

Washington D.C., May 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Responding to the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow openly gay members, U.S. Catholic Scouting groups called for loving respect towards all people, while reiterating the need to proclaim Church teaching on sexuality.

“The Catholic Church teaches that people who experience a homosexual inclination or a same sex attraction are to be treated with respect recognizing the dignity of all persons,” said the National Catholic Committee on Scouting in a May 23 statement.

“The Church's teaching is clear that engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage is immoral,” the organization continued. “Individuals who are open and avowed homosexuals promoting and engaging in homosexual conduct are not living lives consistent with Catholic teaching.”

On May 23, the Boy Scouts of America announced that, following a reassessment of its membership policies, it had decided to “remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.”

The organization also reinforced 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.”

The change will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

The Boy Scouts will continue to ban openly gay adult leaders and said that this policy “was not under consideration.”

Several dioceses around the country voiced acceptance of the decision to offer full membership to boys who experience same-sex attraction, while also reinforcing the duty of Catholic scouting groups to encourage obedience to Church teaching on issues of sexuality.

A statement by the Archdiocese of Denver noted that the “Church agrees that no group should reduce a person to their sexual orientation or proclivity.”

“However, the moral formation of youth must include a firm commitment to respecting and promoting an authentic vision of sexuality rooted in the Gospel itself,” it said.

The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., also emphasized that the Church “has the responsibility to teach the Gospel and encourage all people to live out the teachings of Christ – regardless of their sexual preference,” and that scouting groups overseen by the Church must “witness to the faith.”

Similarly, the Archdiocese of St. Louis affirmed that it takes “Catholic faith and formation of young people very seriously,” and that the change in policy would not change its belief that “a proper understanding of Theology of the Body, as taught by Pope John Paul II, offers truth about the beauty and sanctity of human sexuality.”

“We agree with Pope Emeritus Benedict when he said, ‘Every human being is loved by God the Father. No one need feel forgotten, for every name is written in the Lord’s loving heart,’” the archdiocese stressed in a statement.

“We encourage Catholics and all people of faith to treat one another with respect, dignity and love and to pray for our culture.”

Some Catholic groups, such as the Archdiocese of Denver, have stated that they will continue to sponsor scouting groups, while other dioceses and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting have stated that they will reserve judgment until after the January 1 implementation, so that they can better understand how Catholic-sponsored scouting groups will be affected.


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God is love but not in 'emotional' sense, Pope says

Vatican City, May 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - As he celebrated the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, Pope Francis spoke about how God is love, but not in an “emotional” or “sentimental” way.

“The light of Easter and Pentecost have renewed in us each year the joy and wonder of faith that recognizes that God is not something vague, abstract, but has a name: ‘God is love,’” the Pope said May 26, before reciting the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.

And this love “is not sentimental, emotional, but the love of the Father who is the source of all life, the love of the Son who died on the cross and rose, the love of the Spirit who renews man and the world,” he stated.

Pope Francis then reflected on how the Trinity “is not the product of human reasoning, it is the face which God himself revealed, not from the top of a throne, but walking with humanity in the history of the people of Israel, and above all in Jesus of Nazareth.

“Jesus is the Son who made us know the merciful Father and brought to the world his ‘fire,’ the Holy Spirit,” he said.

On today’s feast, he explained, “we praise God not for a particular mystery, but for himself, ‘for his glory is immense,’ as the liturgical hymn says. We praise him and thank him because he is love, and for how he calls us to enter the embrace of his communion, which is eternal life.”

Because of celebrations for the Year of Faith in previous weeks, today was the first time in a month that the Pope delivered his words from the window of the papal apartment.

Without those festivities, the crowd was also not as large as before, but it made up for it with the presence of a troupe of people dressed in medieval garb – accompanied by a section of drums and trumpets – a large delegation from an Italian military association and a group of faithful from China who came to Rome to pray for their local Church.

Pope Francis explained to the assembly that he had just finished making his first trip as pontiff to a parish in the Rome diocese and he thanked the Lord for the visit.

He also asked the crowd to “pray for my pastoral service in this Church, which has the mission of presiding in universal charity.”

Before reciting the Angelus with the faithful, Pope Francis said, “we entrust our praise to the hands of the Virgin Mary.

“She, the most humble of creatures, through Christ has already reached the goal of our earthly pilgrimage: she is already in the glory of the Trinity. She shines for us as a sign of sure hope and solace and accompanies us on the path.”

After the Marian prayer, the Pope highlighted a beatification that took place in Palermo, Sicily on Saturday for Father Giuseppe Puglisi, a priest who was killed by the Mafia in 1993.

“Don Puglisi was an exemplary priest, devoted especially to youth ministry. He was teaching children according to the gospel and taking them out of the mob, and so they tried to defeat him and killed him. In reality, though, is he that won, with Christ Risen.”

The murder of Fr. Puglisi was a turning point for the Church in how it dealt with the Mafia.

Blessed Puglisi pursued a course of winning people away from the influence of the mob, as opposed to a protest model of resistance, which was more common among clergy at the time. Shocked by his death and inspired by his example, many of Sicily’s priests began to follow the more pastoral approach of Bl. Puglisi.

“We praise God for his luminous testimony,” Pope Francis said after today’s Angelus, “and we treasure his example!”

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Pope prays for Mafia's conversion

Vatican City, May 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Sicily celebrated the beatification of Father Giuseppe Puglisi yesterday, and Pope Francis used it as an occasion to pray for the conversion of the Mafia.

After he recited the Angelus on May 25, Pope Francis noted that Fr. Puglisi – a priest who was killed in 1993 by the Mafia – was beatified in Palermo on Saturday.

“Don Puglisi was an exemplary priest, devoted especially to youth ministry. He was teaching children according to the gospel and taking them out of the mob, and so they tried to defeat him and killed him. In reality, though, it is he that won, with Christ Risen,” the Pope told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

These gangs “cause so much pain to men, women and even to children,” he said, mentioning prostitution as one type of slavery or social pressure used by the mafia.

Pope Francis urged the faithful in the square to “pray for these gangsters so that they convert.”

The murder of Fr. Puglisi was a turning point for the Church in how it dealt with the Mafia.

Blessed Puglisi pursued a course of winning people away from the influence of the mob, as opposed to a protest model of resistance, which was more common among clergy at the time.

Shocked by his death and inspired by his example, many of Sicily’s priests began to follow the more influence-driven approach of Bl. Puglisi.

“We praise God for his luminous testimony,” Pope Francis said after the Angelus, “and we treasure his example!”

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Wisconsin cardinal takes possession of Roman see

Rome, Italy, May 26, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Far from his native Milwaukee, Cardinal James M. Harvey took possession of his “titular church” in Rome, a vibrant suburban parish that will now look to him as its cardinal patron.

“Be assured of my continued remembrance in the Lord and of my friendship, my friendship for all of you regardless of how you collaborate within this reality, this parish community,” Cardinal Harvey told parishioners at St. Pius V a Villa Carpegna during Mass on May 26.

In Catholic tradition, each cardinal is given a “titular see” in Rome that serves as a highly symbolic link to the Successor of St. Peter, the Pope.

Cardinal Harvey currently serves across the city as the head of the Roman Basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls. When Pope Benedict XVI gave him the red “biretta” last November 24, he also named him titular of St. Pius V, just a half mile southwest of the Vatican.

The Sunday morning Mass was inserted into the normal line-up, with accompaniment from the parish choir and organist. The church was filled to overflowing and reasons for celebration abounded.

Not only was it the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, but Rome was celebrating the feast one of its patrons, St. Philip Neri, who incidentally carried out his ministry during the years of Pope St. Pius V.

As all cardinals do when they “take possession” of their Roman see, Cardinal Harvey first met the parish priest at the central door of the church. There, he kissed a depiction of Christ on the Cross and proceeded to the Altar of the Most Blessed Sacrament, where he paused for a moment in prayer.

Parish priest, Father Donato Le Pera, said that the cardinal's presence fortifies the relationship between the parish and the Pope.

“Every cardinal is a de-facto priest of Rome, as they have been throughout history, and that's what we want today to mark, through our links of friendship and collaboration with His Eminence, Cardinal Harvey,” he told CNA.

The parish of St. Pius V a Villa Carpegna serves 15,000 people in the surrounding neighborhood. In addition to the local individuals, families, elderly and youth, there are many religious orders in the area.

Also present at Mass were acquaintances of the cardinal's from throughout his three decades of living and working in Rome, first as a Vatican diplomat and later as the prefect of the Pontifical Household.

Among them was Paolo Gabriele, Benedict XVI's ex-butler who was hired by then-Archbishop Harvey. He was convicted of theft by the Vatican court system in October 2012 for leaking the Pope's internal correspondence, jailed, and then pardoned just before Christmas.

After Mass, Cardinal Harvey joined the parishioners for a "rinfreschino," the Italian equivalent of coffee and rolls, in the parish auditorium.

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