Rome, Italy, Sep 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new encyclical that is being written by Pope Francis will help address how to live out a vow of poverty in the modern world, according to one cardinal.
“How to define poverty is not easy today because it’s not a question of radical poverty,” Cardinal Prosper Grech, an Augustinian friar, told CNA Sept. 3, “but an encyclical on poverty will help all religious orders to define how to really live poverty in our societies.”
In May, an Italian bishop revealed on his diocesan website that the Holy Father is working on an encyclical entitled, “Blessed Are the Poor.”
The Pope’s first encyclical, “The Light of Faith,” was released in July and drew upon previous work from his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Cardinal Grech, co-founder of the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome, believes that an encyclical would help to “define our stance on poverty.”
The definition of poverty is different depending on where one lives, the 87-year-old friar explained.
“Poverty in Africa means one thing and poverty in the United States or Europe means another,” he said. “It’s a question of proportion.” He added that a lack of private property is among the root causes of poverty.
Laity will also benefit from the document, he noted.
“We live in such a secularized society,” he explained. “Discos and nightclubs are not the best places to get vocations from.”
In March, Cardinal Grech led the mediation prayer for the conclave that elected Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis.
After his election, Pope Francis jokingly told Cardinal Grech, “Well, you gave us a very good talk, but just see what has come out of it!”
“Well, we aren’t all infallible like yourself, you know,” Cardinal Grech replied. “We do make mistakes.”
Before his election to the papacy, Cardinal Bergoglio was known for his simple and humble lifestyle when he served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He would take public transportation, visit the slums and lived in a very simple apartment.
As Pope, he has chosen to live in an apartment in the Saint Martha House among Vatican workers rather than the traditional Papal Palace.
Beirut, Lebanon, Sep 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Greek Orthodox and Maronite Catholic patriarchs of Lebanon have urged the international community to help resolve the abductions of two Orthodox archbishops in Syria.
“The abduction of the two archbishops is among several other kidnapping cases that we can’t remain inactive about,” Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna Yazigi of the Levant and Antioch said at an Aug. 31 news conference.
He said that help is necessary to discover the fate of the abductees, the Lebanese news site Naharnet reports.
“We are certain the international community could resolve the case.”
More than four months ago, Archbishop John Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yagizi of the Greek Orthodox Church were kidnapped near Aleppo in northern Syria by armed men who killed their driver, Deacon Fatha' Allah Kabboud.
The identity of the kidnappers and the whereabouts of the kidnapped bishops remain unknown.
The archbishops had been on a humanitarian mission to help two kidnapped priests.
Maronite Catholic Patriarch Beshara Rai of Antioch joined his Greek Orthodox counterpart to demand the archbishops’ release.
Patriarch Youhanna said that the archbishops’ kidnappers know the consequences their actions will have on developments in the region.
Syria is in the midst of a civil war that has killed over 100,000 people and forced over two million to become refugees and 4.25 million to become internally displaced.
The U.S. and French governments are considering a military strike on Syria, charging that the Bashar al-Assad regime has used chemical weapons on its own people.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York in April appealed for the release of the archbishops, saying they are “two men of peace” whose kidnapping is “a sign of the terrible violence that is destroying the fabric of Syrian society.”
Both the Catholic and Orthodox patriarch called on western countries to resolve the Syrian conflict “through peaceful and diplomatic means,” Fides news agency reports.
In a Sept. 1 joint statement they opposed any armed foreign intervention, saying that war “brings nothing but destruction and ruin.” They said Christians in the Arab world contribute to their societies and build “a civilization of coexistence and moderation.”
Madrid, Spain, Sep 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - After slamming critics of its decision to sponsor a reality TV show featuring objectionable content, Coca Cola Spain is facing boycotts of the company's products throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
The Madrid-based religious liberty organization Hazteoir.org recently launched a public opinion campaign to call on major businesses to withdraw their ads from the reality show “Summer Camp,” a Spanish version of “Survivor.”
During the program, one of the female contestants was made to strip to her underwear and jump into a pool of melted chocolate, while the host invited her fellow contestants to lick the chocolate off of her.
HazteOir.org convinced McDonalds, Burger King, Orange, ING Direct and Minute Made to all pull their ads from the program. However, the CEO of Coca Cola Spain, Marcos De Quinto, has maintained his company’s sponsorship.
De Quinto used his Twitter account to explain his decision, saying, “May God spare us from groups like ‘The Guardians of the Faith,’ who want to tell us what TV shows to watch, what books and newspapers to read, what party to vote for.”
He also used his account, @MarcosdeQuinto, to attack the president of Hazteoir.org, Ignacio Arsuaga.
“If having to think like you is the price I have to pay for you to keep drinking Coca-Cola, I prefer you don’t drink it,” he said.
De Quinto also threatened to have lawyers investigate what kind of penalties could be levied against the organization, which he accused of “inciting a pack of wild dogs against specific targets,” referring to its support for marriage and opposition to abortion.
In other tweets, De Quinto labeled Christians who object to Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the program as “fanatics” and “intolerant,” and accused them of launching a “guerrilla-style” attack against Coca Cola. He also said he had the backing of executives at the Coca Cola world headquarters in Atlanta.
De Quinto’s response generated an immediate reaction from Spanish-speaking Catholics in Spain and Latin America.
Bishop José Munilla Aguirre of San Sebastián criticized De Quinto’s attitude, and told the Cope Radio Network Aug. 30 that he personally would drink “only pure and crystalline water instead of Coca Cola until the situation is cleared up, because I think the president of Coca Cola in Spain has made a big mistake and should retract his statements.”
“I was under the impression that this company’s international advertising approach was very respectful of family and social values, and this does not square with the statements made by this president,” Bishop Munilla said.
At the beginning of this week, the Twitter hashtag #BoikotCocacola became a trending topic in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama, and hundreds of Twitter users announced their decision to stop consuming Coca Cola until De Quinto retracts his statements or resigns as CEO.
Vatican City, Sep 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Vatican official denied a news story that claimed that Pope Francis had telephoned the Syrian president, Bashar Al-Assad.
Argentinian daily Clarin stated the pontiff telephoned the country’s leader to discuss ongoing violence in the country and possible military strikes from outside nations.
But the director of the Holy See press office affirmed during a Sept. 5 press conference that the Pope did not come into contact with Al-Assad in any form.
“Categorically the Pope did not telephone Al-Assad,” Father Federico Lombardi told journalists at the press office.
“I received many phone calls this morning asking if this was true so I asked the Pope myself,” he added during the conference.
Vatican City, Sep 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A four-hour prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square for peace in Syria, initiated by Pope Francis and to be held this Saturday, will be the largest the Vatican has seen in years, according to the Holy See’s press director.
“I’ve been here for 23 years and I remember gatherings for peace in Assisi, but I don’t remember anything with this dimension in Saint Peter’s Square,” Fr. Federico Lombardi told a gathering of journalists Sept. 5.
He recalled a peace gathering in Italy and prayer vigils held after the Sept. 11 attacks, but none were of the degree that this will be, he said.
Pope Francis made a global petition on Sept. 1 asking that everyone, regardless of religion or location, to fast and pray during the whole day of Sept. 7 for world peace, particularly in Syria.
“There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming,” the Holy Father said Sept. 1.
During his first public general audience since his summer break on Sept. 4, he renewed his invitation.
While the Sept. 7 fast is not binding on the faithful, Pope Francis' repeated exhortations to participate in the fast indicate how close the issue is to the heart of the vicar of Christ.
His call for prayer and fasting comes as nations, including the United States, discuss the possibility of military intervention in Syria, following reports that the Bashar al Assad regime used chemical weapons on its own civilians, killing, according to the U.S. government, more than 1,400 persons.
Pope Francis' prayer vigil will be preceded by the hearing of Confessions, beginning in the evening at 5:45 in St. Peter's Square. There will be 50 priests available for Confession under the colonnades of the square.
Then at 6:30, Pope Francis' Sept. 1 allocution calling for the day of fasting and prayer will be read to introduce the vigil.
Pope Francis will begin the prayer at 7:00, and the Veni Creator Spiritus will be sung.
Four Swiss Guards will carry an icon of Mary, Protectress of the Roman People, starting from the obelisk in the square, accompanied by two youths with flowers.
The Roman Pontiff will then begin praying the rosary, invoking the intercession at each mystery of Our Lady, Queen of Peace.
There will then be a meditation by the Pope, followed by a minute of silence and Eucharistic Adoration.
The vigil will also include readings from the Bible, and responsorial prayers for peace.
After Adoration, there will be three minutes of silence followed by the recitation of the Office of Readings, part of the Liturgy of the Hours.
At 10:15 there will be a period of extended, prayerful silence, and the vigil will conclude later with Benediction, around 11:00.
In solidarity with the vigil of the Diocese of Rome, many Churches worldwide will be holding similar events.
The Archdiocese of Madrid announced that all Masses said this Saturday will be offered for peace in Syria, and Bishop Demetrio Fernandez Gonzalez of Cordoba asked that church bells be rung at noon to remind Catholics to pray the Angelus to Mary, Queen of Peace.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, announced that the anticipated Mass at his cathedral on Sept. 7 would be said for the intention of peace in Syria, and added that in his diocese “I wish all our Catholic people to abstain from meat this Friday (Sept. 6), and add this intention to their prayers at Sunday Mass.”
In the Archdiocese of Denver, a vigil of Adoration will be held at the cathedral on Sept. 7 from 7 p.m. until midnight.
Broadway NSW, Australia, Sep 5, 2013 (CNA) - Officials at the University of Notre Dame Australia are pleased to have received the highest ratings in excellence in several different areas from the Good Universities Guide 2014.
“We are delighted by this year’s results,” Professor Celia Hammond, vice chancellor of the Australian university, told CNA on Aug. 30
“As a university, we strive to provide each student with an excellent education that enriches the whole person,” she said. “We believe these results reflect our commitment to value each student as an individual.”
This is the seventh consecutive year Notre Dame Australia has received 5 Stars in “Teaching Quality,” “Overall Graduate Satisfaction,” and “Generic Skill,” media officer Annie Sandrussi told CNA.
For 2014, the influential publication also awarded Notre Dame five stars in the category of “Staff-to-Student Ratio.”
The Good Universities Guide is an independent survey that rates the performance of Australian universities on a broad range of criteria, indicating educational experiences and outcomes of a university’s graduates.
“Notre Dame...is among the highest rated universities in the country for graduate experience,” the guide’s publishers said.
“Every aspect of the learning environment provided by Notre Dame is built upon and guided by our core values – a key one of which is that each and every student is a unique individual, with gifts and talents, aspirations, hopes, dreams, weaknesses and challenges,” Hammond explained.
“Throughout their studies we provide comprehensive pastoral, academic and social support, as well as opportunities for growth,” she said.
Ratings for the majority of categories where Notre Dame received five stars are based on what the school’s graduates say about the university through the Annual Graduate Survey.
To receive five stars in any area, Notre Dame graduates needed to have rated their courses higher than 80 percent of graduates in similar fields from other higher education institutions.
The University of Notre Dame Australia was founded through an Act of the Parliament of Western Australia in December 1989.
The Archdiocese of Perth gave the Canonical Decree of Establishment as a Catholic university through its proclamation on July 2, 1991.
“Notre Dame’s ‘Experience the World’ program offers students the opportunity to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others through study tours and working with Caritas Australia in developing nations or participating in the life of a remote Kimberley community,” said Hammond.
In addition, the study abroad program “allows our students to broaden their horizons by undertaking semester long programs with universities in Asia, Europe and the United States,” she said.
Notre Dame Australia – which is separate from the well-known university of the same name in Indiana – is a Catholic institution with a focus on philosophy, theology and ethics. It offers active campus ministry opportunities, mission recruitment, and social justice education.
The university currently has more than 11,000 students enrolled across its three campuses in Fremantle, Sydney and Broome.
“We look forward to continuing our mission to help every student reach their full and unique potential,” Hammond said.
St. Petersburg, Sep 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - As world leaders meet in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G20 summit, Pope Francis has sent a message urging against military involvement in Syria.
“To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution,” said Pope Francis in a Sept. 4 letter to the group’s leader, Russian president Vladimir Putin.
“It is clear that, for the world’s peoples, armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony and create profound divisions and deep wounds which require many years to heal,” he told the leaders of the world’s twenty largest economies.
The Pope told the Russian president that although the meeting does not have international security as its main focus, it will “surely not forget the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Syria.”
“It is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding,” said Pope Francis.
The Pontiff told Putin he would also pray “for the successful outcome of the G20’s work on this occasion” adding that he hoped the letter “may be a valid spiritual contribution” to the meeting.
The G20 is an economic meeting held regularly between the heads of state and governments of the twenty most powerful economies. It is usually taken as an opportunity to strengthen diplomatic ties between nations.
Putin has reportedly told leaders that the injurious Syrian conflict and potential military response, which are not on the official agenda, “will be discussed over dinner.”
“Wars are a concrete refusal to pursue the great economic and social goals that the international community has set itself, as seen, for example in the Millennium Development Goals,” said the Pope.
“Unfortunately, the many armed conflicts which continue to afflict the world today present us daily with dramatic images of misery, hunger, illness and death,” he added.
Pope Francis told Putin and the assembled world leaders that “without peace, there can be no form of economic development.”
“Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development,” he stated.
In his letter, the Pope reminded them that “all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.”
“The leaders of the G20 cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people which has lasted far too long, and even risks bringing greater suffering to a region bitterly tested by strife and needful of peace,” he said.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sep 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Andres Stanovnik of Corrientes has said Argentines need to return to living their faith, because a weak faith life has led to a crisis in marriage and to a lack of respect for human life.
“We need to look for deepest symptoms of the crisis of Christian marriage and the family in the weakening of the life of faith,” the Archbishop of Corrientes, in northern Argentina not far from Paraguay, said Aug. 29 at a Catholic congress on the family.
“This fragility comes after a gradual loss of the Christian understanding of life, in this case of conjugal and family life, caused by multiple factors, including a certain inconsistency in Christian formation, and as a consequence, the scarce practice of the life of faith.”
Archbishop Stanovnik said this weakening of the life of faith is also bearing consequences for priestly and religious life.
When there is a decrease in one’s faith life, “instead of expanding, life folds in upon itself … enthusiasm for the mission, which entails going out to meet others, leaving one’s own shore and ‘putting out into the deep,’ also suffers.”
“Reviving the faith means giving it a new vitality,” he continued, “because faith is above all a gift and not a product of pastoral strategies. We need to ask for it. Both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis agree on the primordial importance of prayer and adoration.”
He encouraged an observation of “the multitude of 'small' virtues of daily life,” as well as a renewal in family ministry to help families cultivate and pass on Christian values and learn to love and to be loved.
Washington D.C., Sep 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Citing connections to human trafficking, a major Scandinavian hotel chain has announced that it is eliminating pornography channels from its hotel rooms.
“The porn industry contributes to trafficking, so I see it as a natural part of having a social responsibility to send out a clear signal that Nordic Hotels doesn't support or condone this,” said Petter Stordalen, the owner of Nordic Hotels.
A Norwegian billionaire and philanthropist, Stordalen announced that he is removing pay-per-view pornography channels from his chain’s 171 Scandinavian hotels and replaced them with contemporary art.
He said he decided to stop selling the material after he started to work with UNICEF’s campaign to help the child victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, who number over 1.2 million annually, the British newspaper The Guardian reports.
Stordalen said the move may seem “shocking and unusual,” but he compared it to the initially unpopular ban on smoking.
“We were the first hotel chain in the world to ban smoking and people thought we were crazy. Now it's totally normal for public spaces to be smoke-free,” he said.
The move was applauded by Princeton law professor Robert P. George and prominent American Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf.
“The pornography industry is corrupt through and through—inherently so,” George and Yusuf said in a Sept. 4 essay for Public Discourse.
“It should come as no surprise that it is connected to something as exploitative, degrading, and dehumanizing as human trafficking. Bravo to Petter Stordalen for refusing to continue profiting from peddling the industry’s wares.”
The scholars wrote a letter to hotel executives in the United States last summer asking them to consider removing pornography from their establishments because it reduces women to “a sexual object” rather than a “precious member of the human family.”
Asking the executives to consider their own sisters, daughters and mothers, George and Yusuf charged the pornography is “degrading, dehumanizing, and corrupting,” teaching young people to “settle for the cheap satisfactions of lust” instead of achieving a love that is “liberating and fulfilling.”
Pornography policies in U.S. hotel chains vary. Omni Hotels and Resorts stopped selling pornography in 1998. Marriot has said it is “phasing out” pornography sales, while the Hilton chain has defended its continued sales.
Geroge and Yusuf are now calling on American hotels to follow Stordalen’s lead.
“If Nordic Hotels can demonstrate this kind of moral and social responsibility, then there is no reason that Hilton Hotels and the other large chains cannot,” they said.
“Let them stop trying to deceive the public – and perhaps even themselves – with rhetoric about respecting or even protecting their customers’ liberty. Pornography is a social plague with horrific real-life consequences for real live people – addicts, spouses, children, communities, girls and women trafficked into sexual servitude.”