Archive of September 3, 2013

Pope Francis: 'meek light' of Christ brings peace and the cross

Vatican City, Sep 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - While the light of Jesus is powerful enough to cast out demons, it is a peaceful and humble light that helps us carry the cross in our lives, said Pope Francis in his Sept. 3 homily.

“Jesus doesn’t need an army to cast out the demons, he has no need of pride, no need of force, of arrogance,” the Pope said during daily Mass at the chapel of the Saint Martha House.

The pontiff has resumed celebrating daily Mass for Vatican staff and guests at his home today after a month’s break.

Around 50 people, usually employees from various Vatican departments, are invited to attend each day.

Pope Francis took his homily from the Gospel of Luke, which narrates how Jesus cast out demons.

The light of Jesus “saves us from darkness,” emphasized the Holy Father, and Christianity is “an identity of light, not of darkness.”

“This Light is not well-liked by the world,” he said. “Today one might think that there is the possibility of having the light with so many scientific things, and so many of the things of humanity.”

“You can know everything, you can have knowledge of all things…but the light of Jesus is something else,” the Pope explained.

He noted that “it is not a light of ignorance, it’s a light of wisdom and sagacity, but it is something other than the light of the world.”

“The light that the world offers us is an artificial light, strong, perhaps, but that of Jesus is stronger,” he remarked.

Rather than a strong but brief flash, he said, the “light of Jesus is a mild light, it is a quiet light, it is a light of peace, it’s like the light on Christmas night, without pretense.”

He added that “the light of Jesus does not put on a show, it is a light that comes into the heart” and “offers and gives peace.”

“However, it’s true that many times the devil comes dressed as an angel of light,” the Pope warned.

“He likes to imitate Jesus and do good, he speaks to us quietly, as he spoke to Jesus after the fast in the desert,” he explained.

The pontiff stressed that we should ask for the wisdom of discernment to distinguish when it is Jesus who gives us true light, and when it is the devil, disguised as an angel of light.

“How many believe they are living in the light and they are in darkness, but they don’t realize it?” he asked. 

Pope Francis described the light of Jesus as “a humble light” and “not a light that imposes itself.”

“It’s a meek light, with the strength of meekness, it’s a light that speaks to the heart, and also a light that offers you the cross,” he remarked.

“If we, in our inner light are meek, if we hear the voice of Jesus in the heart and look at the cross without fear, that is the light of Jesus,” he said, contrasting this with the devil’s false light, which “makes you arrogant” and prideful, leading you “to look on others from on high, to despise others.”

We can distinguish between these two lights, the Pope said, by recognizing that “wherever Jesus is, there is always humility, meekness, love and the cross.”

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New Vatican Secretary of State was 'messenger of peace'

Caracas, Venezuela, Sep 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the new Vatican Secretary of State, is being praised by a Venezuelan cardinal as a “messenger of peace” for his former efforts at dialogue in the South American country.

“I think the Holy Father Francis has made a great appointment,” said Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela.

“Archbishop Parolin is a well-prepared bishop with a great capacity to work,” the cardinal explained. “He is a very intelligent man with extensive experience in the Church’s international affairs, and here in Venezuela he did great work in service to the Church and to the Venezuelan people.”

During his time as apostolic nuncio to Venezuela, Archbishop Parolin was a great promoter of dialogue, the cardinal said.

“He took part in the meetings between the government of Venezuela and the bishops conference, which were very positive for the country and which we hope will continue.”

Proving to be “a true messenger of peace in Venezuela,” the archbishop played a lead role in “difficult negotiations for the Church” with Vietnam, China and Russia, Cardinal Urosa continued.

“He acted with discretion and prudence and played an important role in the process of bringing the Church and the government together.”

Archbishop Parolin “is a man of great experience in diplomacy,” he added, and when Benedict XVI “decided to name appoint him as his ambassador in Caracas in 2009, I didn’t think he would be here for long, as he is a man of great prestige at the Vatican.”

The cardinal said Archbishop Parolin would continue to carry out his duties in Venezuela until mid-October, when he will move to the Vatican to take over for outgoing Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

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Cardinal Bertone says time as Secretary of State was positive

Rome, Italy, Sep 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has offered a positive assessment of his nearly seven year-long tenure as Vatican Secretary of State, which will come to an end this October.

According to L’Osservatore Romano, the cardinal spoke to reporters after a recent Mass in Sicily to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Tears. 

“Cardinal Bertone wished to remember and underscore the important foundations that have inspired and sustained his service at the Secretariat of State – including a harmonious relationship between faith and reason, between law and natural law, between tradition and modernity – and to also recall memorable events such as the World Youth Days of Sydney and Madrid with Benedict XVI and Rio de Janeiro with Pope Francis,” the publication said.

“My assessment of these seven years is positive,” said Cardinal Bertone, according to Italian news agency Ansa.

“Naturally there have been many problems, especially during the last two years in which I was the target of accusations,” he said, referencing a “network of crows and vipers.”

“But this should not obscure what I think it is a positive assessment,” he continued.

“Sometimes there are prejudices,” the cardinal continued. “An honest assessment cannot fail to take into account the fact that the Secretary of State is the Pope’s primary collaborate, a faith and loyal executor of the tasks entrusted to him. This was something I have done and will continue to do.”

The Secretary of State “works with five others as a team, and it is a wonderful group that works well together,” Cardinal Bertone said.

“I have always given my all,” he stated, “but I surely have my defects. If I had to think of certain moments, I would have acted differently, but that does not mean I have not strived to serve the Church.”

The cardinal will step down from the position of Secretary of State on Oct. 15, when Vatican diplomat Archbishop Pietro Parolin will take over after being appointed to the post by Pope Francis on Aug. 31.

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Students of Benedict XVI gather for Mass, annual dialogue

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Former students of Benedict XVI met for the first time without him this year for their annual “Schülerkreis” discussions, although they were able to see the former Pope briefly for Mass.

“He has a great sense of humor and we loved to be with him,” said Father Vincent Twomey told CNA on Sept. 1. “He has a great sense of joy and he loves to be with his students.”

The Schülerkreis is a circle of doctoral and post-doctoral students who had then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - who would later become Pope Benedict XVI - as their supervisor and professor at the University of Regensburg.

Since 1978, the group has been meeting annually with the former Pope to hold discussions, until this year. The results of the group’s yearly dialogues are sometimes published.

This event was the first time new Schülerkreis members – those who are studying Ratzinger’s theology – met alongside the old members, Ratzinger’s former students.

They met at the Focolare movement’s Mariapoli Center in the town of Castel Gandolfo from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 alongside guest speaker Remi Brague to discuss “the question of God in a secularized society.”

Although Benedict did not participate in the discussions with his former students, he met with them during the gathering. The former Pope celebrated Mass at the end of the meeting on Sept. 2 at the Mariapoli Center.

“He was in very good form and he seemed very relaxed,” said Fr. Twomey. “It was a wonderful experience to meet with him, and each year was the same feeling.”

Although Benedict seemed “slightly smaller” this year, he actually looked “much frailer last year when he was still Pope than he did this year,” the priest added.

Fr. Twomey described his student years under Ratzinger’s supervision at the University of Regensburg as “a wonderful experience.”

“There was a tremendous excitement,” he said. “He managed to create a kind of sense of excitement to theology.”

“He has the capacity to enable people to speak their mind, he listens very carefully and takes in what you say and then he leads the discussion onto a higher level,” Fr. Twomey explained.

The Irish priest said that Benedict had offered him an approach to theology that he had not received anywhere else.

He reflected on Ratzinger’s influential “courage in tackling the most difficult questions, his complete confidence in the fact that the truth has been entrusted to the Church and to us.”

“But our task is to discover it and to enter into dialogue with all those who are searching for the truth,” he added.

The priest explained that it was this dialogue that marked Benedict’s theology.

“For him, revelation is God’s dialogue with us and we’re part of that dialogue and it is still continuing,” he said.

“Theology is seeking understanding in a world that is no longer aware of God,” said Fr. Twomey. “But you can’t exclude God from reality.”

The former Pope, he said, was never judgmental, but tried to be objective and was capable of “tuning in with the world.”

“He once said, ‘we don’t have the truth, the truth has us, we don’t possess truth, the truth possesses us’,” the priest reflected.

He added that Benedict had criticized contemporary German theology, which is why he “never received the same openness” in Germany that “he would have received in the United States or France.”

“But there are many young theologians in the ‘New Schülerkreis’ who are enthusiastic about Ratzinger and have really enlivened greatly our discussions,” he said.

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Okla. 'thrill kill' denounced as rejection of human dignity

Washington D.C., Sep 3, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A recent alleged “thrill kill” in Oklahoma reveals a blatant lack of respect for the dignity of human life that is present in modern Western culture, said an officer from a global youth organization.

Society seems “to have entirely forgotten the entire definition of human dignity,” said Leah Bromberg of World Youth Alliance.

Looking at a recent case in Oklahoma, she told CNA, reaffirms what history has shown: that “to mangle this definition has deadly consequences.”

Bromberg is the International Director of Operations for World Youth Alliance, a global youth organization dedicated to affirming human dignity and promote solidarity throughout both developed and developing countries.

She stressed the importance of a proper understanding of the dignity of human life, saying that “everyone is born with this dignity, it is intrinsic, it is inviolable, you cannot take it away, it is part of the human person.”

Bromberg responded to the death of Christopher Lane, a 22-year-old college senior and baseball player from Melbourne, Australia, who had been attending an Oklahoma college. Lane was allegedly shot to death while jogging in mid-August.

Too teenagers have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death, and a third teenager has received accessory charges

Police called the murder a “thrill kill,” or a murder carried out for fun and entertainment rather than any other motive.

“They were bored and just wanted to see somebody die,” Duncan police Chief Danny Ford told ABC News, based upon one of the boys' confessions.

Ford also told Fox News that the teens’ “perception is that bad attention is better than no attention at all,” and that they chose their victim at random.

The alleged “thrill kill” demonstrates “that youth in the West are growing up in a more pleasure-seeking, ‘me’-centered mentality,” Bromberg explained.

She suggested that the charges reflect a “flawed” cultural approach to human dignity and are connected to other violations of human life that take place daily across the globe.

“If someone is aware that the other person has human dignity that is inviolable and intrinsic,” she said, that person would recognize that “I need to respect that” and would not commit atrocities such as senseless murder.

To rebuild a culture that respects human life, Bromberg said, “education is an important factor.”

Adults in all sectors of life – but especially those in the home and family – “really need to re-educate young people on what human dignity really means,” she said.

“The definition of human dignity has to be taught, and it has to be taught right,” she stressed.

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