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Archive of September 21, 2013

New Scotland archbishop encouraged by Pope Francis

Rome, Italy, Sep 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Monsignor Leo Cushley, who will be consecrated a bishop and installed as Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh on Saturday, Sept. 21, said Pope Francis has personally encouraged him in his new calling.

Msgr. Cushley is a priest of the Motherwell diocese in Scotland, but has served as a Holy See diplomat, heading the Vatican state department's English-language section. He has collaborated closely with both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI, assisting with the visits of heads of state to the Vatican and with papal visits to English-speaking countries.

“Just recently, I came down to do my job and he (Pope Francis) called me in and instead of me doing my job, he sat me down and we talked. For the first time I perceived something about him, which was that here before me was a man of pastoral experience as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and he brings that with him,” Msgr. Cushley told CNA in a September interview.

“And, as he talked to me about what I would face in Edinburgh, he was doing this with the heart of a man who had been there before me. And it was very touching, very moving, and very useful, because he was a man of great pastoral experience on the ground.”

Msgr. Cushley will take over administration of the archdiocese from Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, who has been Edinburgh's apostolic administrator since its last head, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, resigned Feb. 25 following allegations that he had made sexual advances towards several men in the 1980s.

On July 24, when Msgr. Cushley's appointment was announced, he stated that it is “a delicate moment and … there is a lot to be done, but with God's grace and the kind support of the clergy and people of Edinburgh, I will work cheerfully and willingly with all the energy I can muster.”

In his recent conversation with CNA, Msgr. Cushley said his time as a Vatican diplomat will shape his episcopacy.

“I will bring back with me a personal closeness and a personal affection for the person of the Pope – be it Pope John Paul, Pope Benedict, Pope Francis, but the Pope, whoever the Pope may be – and that’s something that’s very important to us in the diplomatic service.”

“It’s something that is absolutely essential to the union of the local Churches with the Church of Rome,” he reflected.

He added that Scotland has “natural links” with Rome, and the two cities, Rome and Edinburgh, are “not very far away.”

He added that the Pontifical Scots College, a pontifical Roman university where Scottish seminarians are formed, is “one of the oldest,” having been established in 1600.

“I will be here regularly to follow our seminarians, to encourage vocations at home,” Msgr. Cushley said.

“But, more importantly perhaps,” he reflected on his time in Rome, “is the effective and affective link that you take away with you and that every bishop ought to have, that connect him to the universal Church and to Christ through the figure of the Pope.”

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Development goals must respect life and family, UN told

New York City, N.Y., Sep 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A return to the “basics” of human rights would help achieve the U.N.'s Millennial Development Goals in a way that respects human life and the family, according to a seminar at the organization held Thursday.

“Our call to action today is to move more quickly to a brighter future – achieving the Millennium Goals more quickly -- by ‘going back to the basics’ – looking ahead by rediscovering and mirroring the founding purposes of this United Nations and the enactment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Alan Sears, the president of Alliance Defending Freedom, said Sept. 19.

“Going back to the founding basics would unify, even amaze the differing governments of the world as differences could be eliminated.”

The seminar, held at the U.N. headquarters in New York, advocated development paths that respect human life and the family. It was aimed at U.N. delegates, dignitaries and other decision makers.

The seminar focused on the four international development goals concerning education, poverty, maternal health and infant mortality. Alliance Defending Freedom and Incluyendo Mexico co-sponsored the event.

Sears examined the role of the U.N. in defending human rights, saying that development goals risk being endangered or compromised by “short-sighted agendas that create a clash of ‘rights’.”

He warned that some countries are “undermining the fundamental rights” that the universal declaration was intended to protect.

While the declaration says that everyone has a right to life, there is a “clash” with those who declare the right to abortion on demand. Sears said the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, a key moment in international human rights, declared both voluntary and forced abortions to be war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Yet, he said abortion is now being “smuggled” into discussion of rights under such euphemisms as “reproductive health.”

Sears also emphasized the need to support the family and the right to life.

“Doesn’t a strong and intact family go hand in hand with the surest and most time-tested ways to eradicate extreme poverty,” he asked.

“Isn’t parental vision, direction, and involvement indispensable to ensure optimal education for children and to increase the number of children who complete their education successfully? Isn’t protecting, providing for, and loving both the mother and her unborn child the most effective way to reduce child mortality rates and improve maternal health?”

He also noted that there are developments in rights theory that could put religious freedom at risk.

Sears said that the universal human rights declaration protects a broad range of religious liberty, including teaching, practice and observance. However, some leaders are now speaking of religious freedom in a “narrower” concept that only recognizes freedom of worship.

This shift has endangered the rights of medical professionals to refuse to participate in abortions against their conscience, he said.

While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes parents’ rights to choose their children’s education, this right is under pressure in some European countries which mandate “radical” sexual education that runs counter to some parents’ religious beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom is also challenging the imprisonment of parents who home school their children.

“The Declaration affirms that each person has inherent dignity and worth -- and in the end, it is persons, not nations, not those with power to coerce others, that possess fundamental and universal rights,” Sears said.

The seminar was opened by Rosa Leal de Pérez, first lady of Guatemala, who reaffirmed her country's commitment to strengthen families and to protect the sanctity of life.

Elard Koch, director of the Chilean Melisa Institute, presented research showing that countries with abortion prohibitions such as Chile and Ireland have witnessed dramatic improvements in maternal health and significant decreases in infant mortality.

He countered claims that infant mortality drops when abortion is legalized, citing evidence of a ten percent mortality increase in countries where abortion becomes legalized.

Sociology professor Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin presented case studies on how the link between strong family bonds and a good education is relevant to poverty reduction.

“We tend to underestimate how much people benefit educationally, economically, and socially from living in stable families.”

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Pope’s interview prompts flurry of media reactions

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A lengthy interview with Pope Francis published yesterday by a Jesuit publication has sparked a flood of news reports, as well as in-depth commentary from Catholic analysts.

Vatican analyst John Allen, Jr., said that the Pope’s recent comments are “not breaking with traditional doctrine but trying to shift the church's emphasis from condemnation to mercy.”

He noted that when the Pope was asked if he “approves” of homosexuality, he responded with another question: “Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?”

This focus on the person is key to understanding what the Holy Father is doing, Allen suggested. “In saying these things, Francis argues, he's doing no more than rephrasing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which denounces homosexual acts but says homosexual persons are to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity’.”

“In general, Francis seems to suggest he wants the church to come off as less judgmental and more pastoral, though without becoming morally ‘lax’,” he explained.

Allen commented on a 12,000-word interview of Pope Francis, conducted by Jesuit-run Italian newspaper La Civiltà Cattolica and translated into English by U.S. Jesuit magazine America.

In the interview, released Sept. 19, the Holy Father explained that “the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives,” highlighting the need to proclaim moral truths in the full context of the Church’s Gospel message rather than as isolated requirements to be imposed.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible,” he said, explaining that this would not be the fullness of the Gospel, but instead a “disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”

While clarifying that he is a “son of the Church” and agrees with its teaching on these topics, he added that “when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context.”

“The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow,” he explained. Otherwise, the moral teachings of the Church will lose “the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

Many media reports zoned in on the Pope’s comments on abortion and homosexuality. The Associated Press characterized the interview as “a dramatic shift in Vatican tone,” that “contained no change in church teaching” but illustrated a clear break in style from the two most recent Popes, “for whom doctrine was paramount.”

David Gibson of Religion News Service said the interview shows that Pope Francis is seeking to bring about a Church “that is more pastoral, less clerical and less doctrinaire.”

He suggested that the Pope’s words may bring about “a change of heart — and leadership style” among the clergy, emboldening those who are more liberal, while facing challenges in that “conservative bishops will continue to have influence if they are not replaced or sidelined.”

Noted Catholic author and scholar George Weigel, however, said that those who were shocked by the content of the papal interview “haven’t been paying sufficient attention.”

Writing for National Review online, he explained that long before his election to the papacy, Francis emphasized the Church’s fundamental role of evangelization.

Now, he said, the Holy Father is “redirecting the Church’s attention” to Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel.

“The 21st-century proclamation of Christ must take place in a deeply wounded and not infrequently hostile world,” Weigel observed.

“The moral law is important, and there should be no doubt that Francis believes and professes all that the Catholic Church believes and professes to be true about the moral life, the life that leads to happiness and beatitude,” he said.

“But he also understands that men and women are far more likely to embrace those moral truths – about the inalienable right to life from conception until natural death; about human sexuality and how it should be lived – when they have first embraced Jesus Christ as Lord.”

Michael Sean Winters, who writes for the National Catholic Reporter, said that the Pope’s words “are not such a break from the teaching and theology of Pope Benedict,” but argued that they challenge the body of U.S. bishops, who are too “certain” of their moral analysis and are too involved in political “culture wars.”

He added that he would enjoy hearing more from Pope Francis on the topics of abortion, gay marriage and contraception, “because he speaks about them so differently from the way we are accustomed to hearing them spoken about,” replacing condemnation with the attitude of a pastor speaking to the children of God.

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor-at-large of National Review Online and director of Catholic Voices USA, suggested that the Pope’s call to “heal wounds” in the world is about opening doors and the renewal to which the Church is constantly called.

Writing pieces for both Fox News and National Review Online, she noted that while many media reports focused on the few paragraphs dealing with abortions and homosexuality, the lengthy interview covered a broad range of topics, including the importance of discernment, the Pope’s vocation and need for community, and his own sinfulness.

Lopez said that the Pope’s words on homosexuality and abortion must be read in the context of his entire interview, as well as his actions. She pointed to the numerous instances in which the Holy Father has made headlines by making unexpected phone calls to individuals throughout the world – a single mother, a man struggling with the murder of his brother, a rape victim.

The Pope’s message on homosexuality was “very consistent and most urgently needed,” Lopez said. “Christianity is about telling the truth and always with love and mercy and justice.”

This message of mercy has been a theme of Francis’ papacy since his very first Angelus address, she observed.
 
“How will anyone be open to Catholicism if they cannot get past knowledge of some of the prohibitions, without knowledge of the context, without invitation, without a love that compels them radiating from Christians?”

She noted the Pope’s call for the Church to “go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”

“Whatever your politics, be careful what you read into this,” Lopez advised. “He’s talking to you. He’s talking to me. He’s reminding himself.”

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Christ's gaze is life changing, Pope says

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his homily on the Feast of St. Matthew, Pope Francis reflected on the disciple’s radical conversion experience when Christ called him from a life of sin with a simple look.

When Jesus looked at Matthew, “that gaze overtook him completely, it changed his life,” said the Pope to the congregation at Casa Santa Marta on Sept. 21.

“The gaze of Jesus always makes us worthy, gives us dignity.  It is a generous look.”

He explained that the an encounter with Jesus “gives the courage to follow Him.”

“Jesus’ gaze always lifts us up,” continued Pope Francis. “It is a look that always lifts us up, and never leaves you in your place, never lets us down, never humiliates. It invites you to get up – a look that brings you to grow, to move forward, that encourages you.”

The gaze of Jesus is incredibly powerful, said the Pope, but it is not “magical.”

“Jesus was not a specialist in hypnosis,” he quipped.

Rather, Christ’s gaze is one that “makes you feel that he loves you.”

It is the divine love that the “tax collectors and sinners” like Matthew experienced.

“They felt that Jesus had looked on them and that gaze of Jesus upon them, I believe, was like a breath on embers, and they felt that there was fire in the belly, again, and that Jesus made them lifted up, gave them back their dignity,” he said.

Although some ridiculed Jesus for dining with people who were rejected by society, he knew their hearts, the Holy Father added.

“Beneath that dirt there were the embers of desire for God, the embers of God’s image that wanted someone who could help them be kindled anew. This is what the gaze of Jesus does.”

He encouraged Christians to both acknowledge and seek the gaze of Jesus in their lives.

“We go forward in life, in the certainty that He looks upon us. He too, however, awaits us, in order to look on us definitively – and that final gaze of Jesus upon our lives will be forever, it will be eternal.”

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American among wave of papal appointments, confirmations

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis made several key decisions in establishing his Curia today, appointing new officials and confirming others in their positions in the Vatican.

The series of announcements includes the confirmation of top officials in key departments and the return of an American to the upper ranks of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

It has been over six months since Pope Francis announced he was temporarily confirming Vatican officials in their positions, taking "some time for reflection, prayer and dialogue, before any definitive nominations or confirmations."

On Sept. 21, some of those major decisions were made.

Most notably, Pope Francis has confirmed confidence in German Archbishop Gerhard Mueller as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and titular Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer as the department's secretary.

The Doctrine department, like the traditionally powerful Secretariat of State, is a key resource for the popes in governing, leading and protecting the Catholic Church not only in Rome, but throughout the world.

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples' leadership also remained intact. Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni continues as prefect. The highest-ranking Chinese official in the Curia, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, will remain secretary, and Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, adjunct secretary.

These decisions curb speculation in Italian media as to possible shake-ups in both departments.

In addition to the confirmations, Pope Francis made a series of major appointments. The lifetime Vatican diplomat and Archbishop Beniamino Stella is the new prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, taking the place of fellow-Italian Cardinal Mauro Piacenza.

Archbishop Celso Mora Iruzubieta has been confirmed as secretary of the same department while Bishop Jorge Carol Patron Wong has been named its secretary for seminaries.

The outgoing Cardinal Piacenza will go on to replace the retiring Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro as the Penitentiary Major of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Titular Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, formerly secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, has been appointed secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.

In a further development, Pope Francis created a position for Archbishop Joseph Augustine "Gus" di Noia. He now joins the leadership of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith as its adjunct secretary.

The American prelate has years of experience working in the Roman Curia. He began serving as under-secretary for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2002 and was appointed secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2009. At the same time, he was consecrated as the Titular Archbishop of Oregon City.

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named him vice president of the Ecclesia Dei Pontifical Commission, which has led efforts to bring the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X back into the Catholic Church.

Di Noia was born in New York and joined the Dominicans of the Eastern Province of St. Joseph where he was ordained in 1970. He is a respected theologian who was asked to serve on the International Theological Commission, a group tasked with helping the Holy See examine doctrinal questions, from 1997-2002.

Pope Francis' appointments also include Italian Archbishop Giuseppe Sciacca, adjunct secretary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, as a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

And Msgr. Giampier Gloder becomes president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and given special responsibilities in the Secretary of State. He will be given the title of Archbishop.

Titular Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, formerly secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, has been named apostolic nuncio to Germany.

The curial changes come just weeks before Pope Francis will meet with a group of eight Cardinals from Oct. 1-3 to advise him on possible changes to the governing structures of the Church.

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Rediscover beauty in communication, Pope tells experts

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis spoke to Church officials and social communications experts from around the world, encouraging them to focus on leading others to Christ through personal witness of the beauty of faith.

“The challenge is to rediscover, through the means of social communication as well as by personal contact, the beauty that is at the heart of our existence and our journey, the beauty of faith and of the encounter with Christ,” the Holy Father said Sept. 21.

His statement comes near the close of the annual plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications that has been meeting in Rome for the last three days.

The Council gathered with invited experts from around the world to discuss how the Church can better engage in and evangelize through the world of social communications.

Pope Francis encouraged participants to consider the heart of their message, regardless of what kind of technology they use to express it.

“It is necessary to be absolutely clear that the God in whom we believe, who loves all men and women intensely, wants to reveal himself through the means at our disposal, however poor they are, because it is he who is at work, he who transforms and saves us,” the Pontiff explained.

In a world of online and virtual social communications, we must remember “that we are ourselves are the real means of communication,” said Pope Francis.

“The great digital continent not only involves technology, but is made up of real men and women who bring with them their hopes, their suffering, their concerns and their pursuit of what is true, beautiful, and good,” he continued.

Christians must bring the beauty of their authentic love of Christ into the digital world.

“I believe that the goal is to understand how to enter into dialogue with the men and women of today,” the Pontiff said.

In order to evangelize effectively, he said that priests, religious and laity “must have a thorough and adequate formation” in the use of the latest types of media and the ability to “to pass through the clouds of indifference without losing our way.”

In a world that experiences “a growing sense of disorientation and isolation” and where the Church can appear “sterile and in difficulty as it tries to communicate the depth of meaning that comes with the gift of faith,” authentic means of expressing the truth are essential.

The Church must work “with discernment, to use modern technologies and social networks in such a way as to reveal a presence that listens, converses and encourages.”

“Allow yourselves, without fear,” he said, “to be this presence, expressing your Christian identity as you become citizens of this environment.”

Msgr. Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, noted that the challenge facing the Church today has to do with explaining “the philosophy that lies behind” the communications themselves.

Rather than a means of one-sided preaching, the Church hopes to use social communications to “engage in conversation.”

Greg Erlandson, president of Our Sunday Visitor, called the Church “a significant communicator in this world.”

As such, Catholics – especially those involved in social communications – are “challenged” with the “absolutely critical” task of communicating the Gospel and bringing people “to encounter Christ through our own actions” and “our own words.”

Faithful to its mission, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications used hashtags on Twitter and updates on Facebook to engage social media users worldwide during the assembly.

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September 2, 2014

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