Archive of June 10, 2013

Jesuit writers get quick answer to papal audience request

Rome, Italy, Jun 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Just one month after their request, Pope Francis has scheduled a private audience with the college of writers from La Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit cultural review whose articles are approved by the Vatican’s secretary of state before publication.

The private audience has been officially scheduled for June 14, according to a Monday post on the magazine's Twitter feed.

The meeting will begin with Father Adolfo Nicolàs, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, greeting the Pope in the name of the writers of Civiltà Cattolica. The gathering will also include a short speech by Pope Francis on the work of the Jesuit monthly magazine.

Father Antonio Spadaro, director of La Civiltà Cattolica, said in a June 10 interview with CNA that he “personally asked Father Nicolàs to be at the meeting and hold the speech” since “Civiltà Cattolica is directly under his supervision.”

Fr. Spadaro also revealed that he first asked the Pope to meet with the writers in a phone conversation on May 14, which was unusual because it was the Holy Father who called Fr. Spadaro.

The director of La Civiltà Cattolica said that Pope Francis called looking for him at La Civiltà Cattolica headquarters, but he was out of the office.

The telephone operator looked around for Fr. Spadaro, and once he was located, the priest called the Pope’s personal secretary to say he received the Pope's message. The secretary eventually asked Fr. Spadaro for his mobile number, "just in case."

Some hours later, the Pope called Fr. Spadaro on his cell phone.

“I must say,” he commented, “that I felt a great proximity. Even though a phone call by the Pope is quite unusual, I felt the conversation was normal, simple and natural. We were just two Jesuits speaking.”

On that occasion, the magazine director told the Pope that “he would be pleased” if he could the writers could meet with him.

And then, a week later he reiterated the invitation when he met the Pope in St. Martha’s House, the Vatican residence where Pope Francis lives.

Fr. Spadaro explained that “the college of writers of La Civiltà Cattolica has always been received in a private audience by the new elected Pope,” but “it is unusual and special that the audience will take place so little time after our request.”

In their private conversation, Fr. Spadaro told the Pope “that we of La Civiltà Cattolica are at his complete disposal for anything he wants us to focus on.”

Ultimately, he noted, “as Jesuits we are bound to this by our fourth vote of absolute obedience to the Pope.”


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Pontifical Academy starts 'Friends for Life'

Rome, Italy, Jun 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Pontifical Academy for Life has started a group called “Friends for Life” to expand its network around the world.

“It is aimed at people interested in bioethics, including students, professors, intellectuals, academics, as well as people interested in promoting life,” said Father Scott Borgman, the academy’s coordinating secretary.

“We hope to be more of a backbone for those who promote life and we’re a central think tank for them,” Fr. Borgman explained to CNA June 7.

He described the academy’s role as being more of an academic and research organization than an advocacy group. This emphasis allows the Holy See and Catholic institutions to have access to the latest scientific information on bioethics, he said.

“We take faith and science and put them together – because obviously God gave both of them to us and they never contradict each other – for the defense of human life from the womb to the tomb, from conception until natural death,” Fr. Borgman stated.

The new Friends for Life group is actually the brainchild of a Slovakian priest, Father Martin Kramara, who included a section for the initiative within the website he built for the academy last year.

“As an initiative to spread bioethics and the truth about life, we’ll have the opportunity of learning new, exciting things,” Fr. Borgman said of the group.

He also hopes the academy will receive feedback and support from its Friends for Life members, as well as expand its contacts worldwide.

That expansion could also prove useful to the academy’s Rome office, which has about 10 employees, and its 140 official members around the world.

“They’re the ones that do the meat and potatoes of the work, the experts doing the research and writing on bioethics,” Fr. Borgman said about the official members.

The academy is also helping organize a pro-life weekend at the Vatican on June 15 and 16.

“One of our initiatives is the Holy Father’s call to remember the Gospel of life on this “encyclical ‘Evangelium vitae’” weekend,” stated Fr. Borgman.

“Pilgrims will have the opportunity to attend conferences in different languages, learn more about life and make a public statement” with a candlelight procession down Via della Conciliazione, the street that leads to St. Peter's Basilica, he said.

He explained that the march held on June 15 is to “publicly declare our support for life from conception until natural death.”

For more information on the Friends for Life initiative, visit:

Alan Holdren contributed to this report from Rome.

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Comfort of Holy Spirit, world don't mix, Pope states

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2013 (CNA) - Pope Francis said Christians cannot receive consolation from both the Holy Spirit and the spirit of the world if they want to be saved.

“You cannot serve two masters, you either serve the Lord or you serve the spirit of this world; we cannot pick and mix,” Pope Francis said at the chapel of Saint Martha’s House.

“A bit of the Holy Spirit, a bit of the spirit of this world, no!” he exclaimed June 10 during his homily. “It’s one thing or the other.”

The Pope said that salvation is to live “in the consolation of the Holy Spirit, not the consolation of the spirit of this world,” which he called a sin.

“Salvation is moving forward and opening our hearts so they can receive the Holy Spirit’s consolation, which is salvation,” the Pope said.

“This is non-negotiable, you can’t take a bit from here and a bit from there,” he insisted.

Pope Francis made his comments based on the day’s readings, 2 Corinthians 1 and Matthew 5.

He explained that Saint Paul uses the word “consolation” several times in first reading.

“He speaks to Christians who are young in the faith, people who have recently begun to follow the path of Jesus,” the pontiff recalled.

“They were normal people, but they had found Jesus.”

He noted this was such a life-changing experience that “a special strength from God was needed and this strength is consolation.”

“Consolation is the presence of God in our hearts, but we must open the door and his presence requires our conversion,” he explained.

Pope Francis then linked the first reading to the Gospel reading, which recalls when Jesus gives the beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount.

He explained that the beatitudes are the “law of the free” and that they “would seem silly” if we did not open our hearts to the Holy Spirit.

“Just look, being poor, being meek, being merciful will hardly lead us to success,” he commented.

“If we do not have an open heart and if we have not experienced the consolation of the Holy Spirit, which is salvation, we cannot understand this,” he added.

Pope Francis said he believes people’s hearts are closed to salvation because they are afraid of it and people want to stay in control of themselves.

“In order to understand these new commandments, we need the freedom that is born of the Holy Spirit, who saves us, who comforts us and is the giver of life,” he preached.

It is hypocrisy, he said, to “not allow the Spirit to change our hearts with his salvation.”

“The freedom of the Spirit, which the Spirit gives us, is also a kind of slavery, of being enslaved to the Lord which makes us free, it is another freedom,” said the Pope.

“Instead, our freedom is only slavery, but not to the Lord, but to the spirit of the world,” he said of the mankind’s concept of freedom.

He then prayed that grace would open people’s hearts to the consolation of the Holy Spirit, “so that this consolation, which is salvation, allows us to understand these commandments.”

The president and undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and Bishops Josef Clemens, as well as Indian Archbishop George Valiamattam of Tellicherry, concelebrated the Mass.

A group of priests and collaborators of the Pontifical Council for the Laity also attended the Eucharistic celebration.


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Cardinal Dolan praises immigration bill as step forward

New York City, N.Y., Jun 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Stressing that immigration reform is needed to “correct injustices,” Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said that the proposed bill in the U.S. Senate makes serious progress in efforts to balance humanitarian and security concerns.

“The Senate proposal, while not perfect, goes a long way toward correcting injustices in the system,” the Archbishop of New York wrote in a June 9 column for USA Today. “Despite its shortcomings, the bill significantly improves upon the status quo and will assist millions of families.”

“We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to improve the legislation, and we applaud lawmakers of both parties who are working together to bring 11 million people out of the shadows.”

Speaking for the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Dolan wrote that immigration is “close to Catholic hearts,” the Church having helped to integrate immigrants into the American way of life for generations.

He explained that much-needed immigration reform must highlight America's “legitimate needs of security” as well as “our heritage of welcoming immigrants and the gifts they bring.”

“We bishops call for practical and humane immigration reform grounded in the Catholic experience,” he wrote.

Cardinal Dolan noted that the Church continues to help immigrants in the present day, providing English classes, job training and medical assistance. Throughout the country, Catholic Charities provided aid to 400,000 immigrants in 2012, he said.

In the midst of this charitable aid to immigrants, Catholics “see up close the suffering caused by the broken immigration system,” he continued. “Our nation has deported more than 1.5 million people over the past five years, separating hundreds of thousands of parents from their U.S.-citizen children.”

He also pointed to a prison system that holds 400,000 a year, “often in substandard conditions,” and the many people who die “horrible deaths on both sides of the border.” The cardinal noted that in a single county of Texas, the corpses of 129 migrants were found last year.

It is this humanitarian crisis which “requires a response,” wrote Cardinal Dolan. Informed by faith, the U.S. bishops call for a path to earned citizenship to “bring a generous number of people out of the shadows in a reasonable amount of time.”

He also emphasized that “family unity...must be a cornerstone of immigration reform, because strong families are the foundation” of strong communities.

“Poor and low-skilled workers should be able to enter the country legally and safely; the integrity of our borders should be assured; and due process protections should be restored to our system, including alternatives to detention,” he added.

Noting that immigrants are often fleeing “desperate situations” in their home countries, the cardinal said that American foreign policy must “address the root economic and social causes of migration.”

Having set out those principles for immigration reform, he explained that while the proposed bill is not perfect, it does address existing injustices and would improve the current state of immigration policy in the U.S.

The bill, introduced in the Senate with bipartisan support, would offer a 13-year path to citizenship for immigrants who are already in the country illegally. These immigrants will be required to pass background checks, be fingerprinted, pay fines and prove gainful employment.

The bill would also institute other changes including a wider pool of visas for migrant workers.

However, no undocumented immigrants would be able to apply for temporary status until certain border security “triggers” are in place, including a plan for a border fence and E-Verify program for employers.

Cardinal Dolan urged support for the bill, saying that “when the grandchildren of today's immigrants look back on this moment, let them see America at its best – welcoming, generous and openhearted.”

He wrote that immigration reform policy must address basic questions, such as how we treat our brothers and sisters.

“Do we want to continue a system that keeps millions of people in a permanent underclass?” he asked. “Do we want to continue to separate a generation of children from their parents? Do we want to continue the American heritage of hospitality or not?”

“We must do better,” he concluded.

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Chile proposes financial incentives for childbearing

Santiago, Chile, Jun 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In an effort to reverse the country’s low birth rate, President Sebastian Pinera of Chile has announced a proposal to offer financial incentives to couples who have three or more children.

The measure, announced on May 21, would benefit all women apply regardless of income level and would entail a one-time payment of approximately $200 for a couple’s third child. It would increase to $300 for the fourth child and $400 for the fifth.

Catalina Siles, a researcher at the Institute for Societal Studies, told CNA the proposal brings to the forefront an issue that has been absent in the public debate and in the priorities of the government.

“The credit is not intended to solve the underlying problem and much less oblige families to have children, but instead it is a step, a positive measure,” she said, labeling criticism of the bill as “a bit unfair.”

“This is an attempt to reverse the problem, and obviously it should be part of a broader set of policies in support of the family,” Siles said.

“It’s an issue that concerns the government since Chile’s birth rate has been in continual decline since the 1960s, reaching 1.8 children per woman, one of the lowest in Latin America. We find ourselves amidst what experts call the ‘generational winter,’ an increase in the aging of the population.”

She added that the connection between family and personal fulfillment is often overlooked in the country.

“The polls in Chile show that the family is one of the main reasons for personal happiness. A society that only seeks professional success and material wellbeing will produce a generation that is sadder and less fulfilled,” she stressed.

Chile’s Minister for Social Development, Joaquin Lavin, said the new proposal would join a series of initiatives the Chilean government has already adopted to help encourage couples to have children, including extended maternal leave, free day care and other tax credits.

The new proposal must be sent to the Chilean Congress and if approved, would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

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Retired Brooklyn bishop dies from car accident

Brooklyn, N.Y., Jun 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan, an auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Brooklyn diocese, died June 7 from injuries received in a May 30 car accident.

“We mourn the passing of Bishop Joseph Sullivan,” Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn said. “During his tenure, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens became a nationally recognized provider of social services.”

“Even in retirement, Bishop Joe continued to serve on many boards for Catholic hospitals and health institutions. He epitomized the best of our Church’s teaching and the fundamental option for the poor. He was an outstanding priest.”

After being critically injured in a three-car collision in Syosset, on Long Island, Bishop Sullivan was airlifted to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow.

Bishop Sullivan was born on March 23, 1930 as one of 11 children. He was ordained a priest of the Brooklyn diocese June 2, 1956. During his priesthood, Bishop Sullivan held multiple positions within Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens, including being appointed the organization's executive director in 1968.

Over his lifetime, he served on many local, state and national level Church and civic boards concerned with health and human services.

In 1979, he was elected executive vice-president of the board of trustees of Catholic Charities USA, and the following year was appointed an auxiliary bishop of his diocese. He was consecrated bishop on Nov. 24, 1980.

As auxiliary, Bishop Sullivan held the titles of Vicar for Human Services and regional bishop for the 62 parishes of Brooklyn's West Vicariate.

He served as chairman of the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens and of the Social Development and World Peace department of the U.S. bishops' conference.

In the late 1990s, Bishop Sullivan chaired an ad hoc committee to produce a pastoral letter on charity, with which he intended “to reclaim the meaning of charity.”

He retired as auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn in 2005, shortly after his 75th birthday. 

Bishop Sullivan’s funeral Mass will be held the morning of June 12 at Saint Ephrem’s Church in Brooklyn.

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