Archive of June 3, 2013

Pope unites Church with global Holy Hour

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis united churches from all world dioceses yesterday when he presided Eucharistic Adoration in Rome to mark the feast day of Corpus Christi.

He led the prayer, which consists of adoring the body of Christ, for worldwide Catholics who gathered in churches and cathedrals.

The pontiff presided the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ in front of thousands of people inside Saint Peter’s Basilica from 5 to 6 p.m. Rome time.

“In the feast of Corpus Christi we are called to worship the Lord, to adore the Lord in the presence of the Eucharist,” Father Charles Rochas told Vatican Radio June 2.

“Being invited by the Pope to adore the Blessed Sacrament is a strong and powerful way for all of us to stay focused on the center of our faith, the essential part of the Christian Faith, meeting the Lord himself,” said the priest who belongs to the diocese of Lyons, France.

He noted being a Christian “is all about being a friend of Jesus, and being a friend of Jesus is, all about staying with Him, and looking at Him and also being looked at by Jesus and being loved by Jesus himself.”

The idea for churches to be united worldwide in prayer today is linked to the Year of Faith with the theme “One Lord, one faith.”

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who leads the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, announced May 28 that there were two intentions for the Holy Hour.

The first was for the “Church throughout the world united today in Adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist,” that the Lord makes her ever obedient to his word so that she appears before the world as “beautiful, without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish.”

The second intention was dedicated to people around the world who are suffering from violence, drug or human trafficking, economic insecurity, and those who have been pushed to the margins of society.

The New Evangelization council had received responses from hundreds of dioceses worldwide, including all of those in Vietnam and South Korea.

The list is a virtual tour of the globe, stretching from Reykjavik, Iceland in the north, to dioceses in South Africa, Chile and New Zealand in the south.

Christ was also adored in the Eucharist in the Cook Islands, Samoa, Honolulu, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Guam.

Other countries with a large number of parishes or dioceses that participated were: the United States with 243, India with 163, Brazil with 56, and Italy with 50.

While Pope Francis prayed in Italian and Latin, the local Holy Hours were conducted in the local language.

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Bishop says no truce yet between Honduran gangs

Tegucigalpa, Jun 3, 2013 (CNA) - A bishop in Honduras said a truce has still not been achieved between rival gangs in the country that have unleashed “an underhanded civil war between Honduran young people.”

Auxiliary Bishop Romulo Emiliani of San Pedro de Sula denied reports of a truce between the country’s two most violent gangs, the M-18 and the MS-13. 

Leaders of both gangs appeared in the media to ask “forgiveness of society and the authorities” and to promise to put an end to their confrontations with the help of the Church and the Organization of American States.

However, Bishop Emiliani, who has been working to end the youth violence in the country, said that this does not mean an agreement of peace has been reached between the two groups.

“What they have done is make a statement of the principles of reconciliation, with God, with society, with the government and the police,” he said.

But while both gangs agree on this, they have not spoken to each other, he explained.

“A truce between the gangs has not yet been achieved,” Bishop Emiliani clarified. “They continue to be at war,” with young people fighting each other and “using the most terrible of means.”

“I do not understand such terrible hatred between poor Honduran young people,” he lamented.

Leaders of one of the gangs promised “zero crimes” against the population “and the other said no more extortions,” the bishop continued.

The gang members are undergoing “a process of enlightenment,” as they “do not want their children to suffer what they are suffering,” he explained. However, this could be a long process that could go on for decades. 

Bishop Emiliani chided the state for its “timid” participation, noting that President Porfirio Lobo called him three days ago to offer his “moral support,” but that “there has been no presence from the government.”

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Pope prays that Christians avoid 'road of corruption'

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2013 (CNA) - Pope Francis on Monday warned about corrupt Christians who think they are “strong” and “independent of God,” emphasizing that Catholics should instead take saints as their models.

“How bad are the corrupt in the Christian community! May the Lord deliver us from sliding down this road of corruption,” the Pope said in his June 3 homily during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta residence in Vatican City.

Attendees at the Mass included priests and collaborators of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Cardinal Angelo Amato, who heads the congregation, concelebrated the Mass.

Pope Francis distinguished between saints, sinners and “corrupt persons” in a reflection on the Gospel parable of the wicked tenants in the vineyard. The tenants beat the vineyard owner’s servants who sought to collect rent and ended up killing the owner’s son.

These tenants “slipped on that autonomy, that independence in their relationship with God,” adopting the attitude that “We don’t need that Master,” and he shouldn’t come and disturb us, the Holy Father said.

“These are the corrupt! These were sinners like all of us, but they have taken a step beyond that, as if they were confirmed in their sin: they don’t need God!” he added.

But this is a false illusion, he continued, “for in their genetic code there is this relationship with God. And since they can’t deny this, they make a special god: they themselves are god.”

The Pope said Christians should be mindful of this temptation, warning “this is a danger for us, too.”

He criticized groups in Christian communities that think only of their own group and are “only out for themselves.”

He said that Judas was one of these, a “greedy sinner” who “ended in corruption.”

“The road of autonomy is a dangerous road: the corrupt are very forgetful, have forgotten this love, with which the Lord made the vineyard, has made them! They severed the relationship with this love! And they become worshipers of themselves.”

By contrast, he said, the saints are those who “collect the rent” at the vineyard despite the threats to them.

“They know what is expected of them,” he said, and they “do their duty.”

“The saints are those who obey the Lord, those who worship the Lord, those who have not lost the memory of the love with which the Lord has made the vineyard,” Pope Francis explained, adding that the saints do “much good” for the Church.

He noted that St. John said the corrupt are “the antichrist” and that they are “among us, but they are not of us.” By contrast, Scripture says the saints are “like light” and will be “before the throne of God in adoration.”

The Pope prayed that God would grant Christians the grace to “walk in the paths of holiness” as they seek sanctity in their own lives.

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Religious liberty is 'endangered,' warns Hispanic Christian leader

Washington D.C., Jun 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Current threats to religious freedom in the United States demand that people of faith speak out in defense of their fundamental rights, said Rev. Samuel Rodriguez.

“Freedom of religion in America can best be characterized in the year 2013 as nothing other than an 'endangered species,'” cautioned Rodriguez in a May 30 speech.

“The voice of our faith stands to be silenced: it is time to rise up,” the evangelical pastor exhorted the crowd.

Rodriguez, the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, spoke at the 2013 National Religious Freedom Conference in Washington, D.C. The event was sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program.

The multi-faith conference featured presentations and discussions on religious liberty by Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Latter-day Saint, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Seventh-day Adventist, Muslim and Sikh speakers.

In his address, Rodriguez explained that the United States “emerged from the womb of religious liberty.” The country has a strong history of religious pluralism and freedom, grounded in the idea that this freedom comes from God rather than earthly government, he explained.

It is this “commitment to religious pluralism, diversity and tolerance” that is America’s “greatest export” and the feature that makes the nation “exceptional,” he said.

However, he continued, “we live in a time where the very freedom to express our respected faith narratives stands threatened.”

He cited examples of conflict between government and religious faiths, such as Churches being prohibited from teaching their beliefs on sexuality, the absence of conscience protections and the HHS mandate that requires religious organizations to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that may cause early abortions.

“The rejection of this foundational framework will surely result in chaos, angst and the potential termination of our noble experiment,” he warned.

Rodriguez cautioned that “to silence faith is to silence the moral conscience of our nation,” adding that to obstruct religious liberty “is to obstruct the forces that reconcile righteousness with justice, covenant with community, sanctification with service, and faith with action.”

“To oppress religious freedom is to deny the prophetic while granting amnesty to the pathetic,” the pastor stated.

While conference participants come from diverse religious backgrounds, he observed, they share “a spirit of interfaith cooperation.”

“We are here by faith and for faith,” he said, and this faith “empowers us to see the invisible, embrace the impossible and hope for the incredible,” while at the same time, it “exhorts us to care for the poor, speak for the marginalized, welcome the stranger all while doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly before God.”

As a Christian, Rodriguez stated, “I understand that defending religious freedom stems not from the agenda of the donkey or the elephant but rather from the agenda of the lamb.”

“This is not a conservative, liberal, Christian, Jewish or Muslim endeavor,” he emphasized. “Protecting religious freedom emerges as the quintessential exercise within this experiment we call the American experience.”

Religious freedom “cannot be sacrificed on the altar of political expediency,” the pastor said, and persons of faith “cannot be silent” when religious freedom is restricted.

He warned that “a posture of complacency today will result in a position of captivity tomorrow.”

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