Archive of November 1, 2013

Archbishop Aquila: rejection of God threatens democracy

Denver, Colo., Nov 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Archbishop of Denver warned that an increasing rejection of God endangers the foundations of democracy, urging Catholics to embrace the truth of the Gospel and to live it “both personally and publicly.”

“When one does away with God, one embraces, whether knowingly or unknowingly, the father of lies and the evil one,” Archbishop Samuel Aquila said in an Oct. 27 homily.

“If there is no truth and if there is no God that is referenced, it means that we, as human beings, are the ones who decide what is good and what is evil,” he added, warning that the complete rejection of God results not in true freedom and justice, but in “dictatorship” and “totalitarianism.”

His homily was delivered at the archdiocesan Red Mass, celebrated at Regis University in Denver. The Red Mass is a more than 700-year-old tradition invoking the Holy Spirit's aid for lawyers, judges, and government officials.

Archbishop Aquila drew on Christ’s parable from the Gospel of Luke about the prayers of the self-righteous Pharisee and the humble tax collector. He noted that both men recognized the presence of God, but the humble one who recognized “his dependence on God, is the one who is exalted.”

The archbishop said that modern society’s rejection of God is a unique challenge.

“While the two men who prayed in the parable both recognized God, the great challenge for today, and especially in our own society, are those who want to impose secularism upon us, and radical secularism – a complete denial of God.”

He contrasted this with the view of the Founding Fathers, who held that natural rights come from God.

The archbishop said the founders’ decision to include the First Amendment’s religion clause was a recognition of the importance of religion. They believed in God and “the free exercise of their faith in the public square.”

“Our democracy is truly based on the natural law and its survival depends upon the recognition of the Creator.”

“There would be no discussion today about the freedom of conscience and religious freedom if everyone acknowledged that truth,” he continued. “Both of those freedoms are greatly challenged today because of the desire to abandon God.”

But despite negative trends, Archbishop Aquila said Catholics should be “filled with hope” because of their faith in Christ, and because of the truth of the Gospel.

“We as Catholics are called to live our faith in the world; it is not something that is private and solely personal.”

“We are to be witnesses, as our founders were witnesses, to the Creator and to the unalienable rights bestowed by the Creator and to the truths that can be discovered by reason and that certainly are more clearly seen by faith.”

He encouraged legal professionals to be “people of prayer” and to take time in prayer before they make decisions.

He said judges should take their decision to the Holy Spirit and pray for the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, fear of the Lord and piety, adding that they should especially seek Christ in the Eucharist.

The archbishop then told the congregation to “live your faith in the world.” Citing Pope Francis, he urged them to follow Christ through the renunciation of evil and egoism and through the choice of “good, truth, justice.”

“We are called to recognize that the Lord is the one who stands by us and gives us strength,” he explained.

Christians are called to witness as the martyrs did: “not to water down the Gospel, not to water down the faith, not to have a Christianity that is not lived or that is like a little decoration on a cake.”

Archbishop Aquila said Catholics are called “in charity and in love to proclaim the God who is love.”

“It is not some soft love, but it is a love that is all demanding and all consuming. It is the love of Christ as revealed in Christ, as lived by St. Thomas More, as lived by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as lived by so many other martyrs who gave witness to their faith as governments rejected faith.”

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Cardinal Tagle highlights humility in New Evangelization

Manila, Philippines, Nov 1, 2013 (CNA) - At a recent conference on the New Evangelization, Cardinal Louis Antonio Tagle of Manila emphasized the need for interior conversion as the faithful seek to be a light for the world.

“The evangelizer,” he explained, “has to be evangelized.”

The cardinal, who heads the organizing committee of the Philippines Conference on New Evangelization, presided at the Opening Mass for an Oct. 16-19 conference in Manila.

Part of a diocesan celebration of the Year of Faith, the gathering focused on carrying out the New Evangelization.

Cardinal Tagle stressed the need for humility in evangelization, asking, “How can one be the bearer of the Good News when one seeks praise, adulations and the best seat?” 

“People of ambition look for positions and not for missions,” he said, encouraging conference participants to recognize their own need for conversion and evangelization.

In addition, the cardinal voiced sorrow for those affected by various catastrophes, including an earthquake in Cebu in the Central Philippines, violence in Zambonga, recent monsoons and the “horrendous” scandal of the misuse of government funds.

Such corruption is “the typhoon of the poor” and an abandonment of “those who need to hear the Good News,” he said.

The New Evangelization conference, held at the 400-year-old Catholic University of Santo Tomas, brought together representatives from all over the world and local dioceses.

The conference was divided into three days, with the first day exploring the theme of “Encounter with God,” the second day dedicated to “Communion with the Church” and the third day focused on “Missions in the Church.”

Father Renato de Guzman, an official organizer of the conference, told CNA that the primary intention of the conference was to pray together, although the 5,000 participants were later divided into small groups to discuss various topics.

After the conference, participants were sent back to their families and dioceses as “missionaries” entrusted with the charge of proclaiming Jesus, similar to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Delegations and bishops from various countries also participated in the conference. Among the countries represented were India, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan and the United States.

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Pope Francis: Sanctity is for everyone, saints are not 'supermen'

Vatican City, Nov 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - On the Feast of All Saints, Pope Francis stressed that the saints are not “supermen” who are “born perfect,” but rather are ordinary people who followed God “with all their heart.”

“They are like us, they are like each of us, they are people who before reaching the glory of heaven lived a normal life, with joys and griefs, struggles and hopes,” the Pope said before the noontime Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 1.

Each saint changed his or her life “when they recognized the love of God, they followed him with all their heart, without conditions and hypocrisies.”

“They spent their lives in the service of others, they endured suffering and adversity without hatred and responded to evil with good, spreading joy and peace,” he said.

“Sanctity is beautiful! It is a beautiful way!” Pope Francis stressed. “The saints give us a message. They tell us: be faithful to the Lord, because the Lord does not disappoint! He does not disappoint ever, and he is a good friend always at our side.”

The Pope emphasized that everyone can be a saint.

“To be a saint is not a privilege of a few... all of us in baptism have the inheritance of being able to become saints. Sanctity is a vocation for everyone.”

“All of us are called to walk in the way of sanctity, and this way has a name, a face: the face of Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis said the Feast of All Saints “reminds us that the goal of our existence is not death, it is paradise!”

“The saints, the friends of God, assure us that this promise does not disappoint,” he added. “In their earthly existence, in fact, they had lived in profound communion with God. In the smallest and most despised faces of their brothers, they saw the face of God, and now they contemplate him face to face in his glorious beauty.”

The saints show joy and love, he said.

“The saints are men and women who have joy in their hearts and spread it to others. Never hating, but serving the other, is the greatest need. To pray and to live in joy: this is the way of sanctity!”

The saints do not “place conditions” on God, the Pope explained. In addition, they “are not violent but merciful and they seek to be makers of reconciliation and peace.”

“The saints never have hated,” the Pope added. “Understand this well: Love is of God, but where does hatred come from? Hatred does not come from God, but from the devil!”

Pope Francis said the Kingdom of Heaven is for those who trust in the love of God and do not put their security in material things. It is for those with humility and a “simple heart” who do not judge others. The Kingdom of Heaven is for “those who suffer with the one who suffers and rejoice with the one who rejoices.”

The saints are also a source of fortitude and hope, he noted.

“The saints encourage us with their witness not to have fear of going against the current or fear of being misunderstood and derided when we speak of the Lord and of the Gospel,” the Pope said. “They show us with their lives that the one who remains faithful to God and to his words experiences now on this earth the comfort of his love and then experiences it a ‘hundredfold’ in eternity.”

After the Angelus prayer, the Pope voiced special prayers for the victims of violence, especially Christians who have lost their lives because of persecution. He also prayed for those men, women and children who have died because of hunger and thirst.

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US Catholicism like growing forest, leading cardinal says

Dallas, Texas, Nov 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Catholic Church in the U.S. is growing, and should evangelize by showing the “joy of living” and becoming “a Church of the poor,” said Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga at a recent conference.

“Every year the Church is growing, like a forest, not making noise,” the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, said at the University of Dallas Oct. 25.

“There is more noise of a tree that is falling down, but not noise of a full forest that is growing up. This is the situation of the Church.”

Archbishop Rodriguez, who is also the coordinator of the group of eight cardinals advising Pope Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia, spoke on the importance of the New Evangelization to several thousand participants at a ministry conference hosted by the university.

“(N)ot everything is gloom, not everything is scandal and sin. No! Here, the Gospel of Christ is also alive and effective,” he said, citing the 200,000 Americans who joined the Catholic Church in 2002.

“We need to radiate our faith,” he urged. “We have to make a step forward.”

Cardinal Rodriguez suggested that Pope Francis’ pontificate is “the beginning of a new, dynamic period in the history of Catholicism, where the Church will constitute a missionary movement for the conversion of culture.”

Such a movement would include a “very active” and committed laity whose parishes “understand faith as a firebrand that should shine around.”

He said that the Church, to become authentic, “needs only to return to Jesus. Every day.”

“There is no possible reform of the Church without a return to Jesus. The Church only has a future and can only consider herself great by humbly trying to follow Jesus.”

The cardinal outlined several priorities for the Church, saying it should work in “a spirit of service to humanity.”

“Too many times she gives the impression of having too much certitude and too little doubt, freedom, dissension or dialogue. No more excommunicating the world, then, or trying to solve the world’s problems by returning to authoritarianism, rigidity and moralism, but instead keeping always the message of Jesus as her sole source of inspiration.”

Cardinal Rodriguez said the Church must be “open” and in “constant dialogue,” following the Second Vatican Council’s example in rejecting attitudes of “arrogance and superiority.”

“Instead, she should go out into the common arena, plainly and humbly, and share in the common search for truth.”

“We are called to share the treasures we have. To evangelize means to share the treasures, to give them freely as we have received them.”

The Church will convert the world “not by argument, but by example.”

“There is no doubt that doctrinal argument is important, but people will be attracted by the humanity of Christians, those who live by the faith, who live in a human way, who irradiate the joy of living, the consistency in their behavior.”

Cardinal Rodríguez said the Gospel is the standard to discern infidelity and abuse within the Church.

“Many of the traditions established in the Church could lead her to a veritable self-imprisonment. The truth will set us free; humility will give us wings and will open new horizons for us.”

The cardinal also saw evidence of a media “ambush” of the Catholic Church, given the widespread “contempt” and “merciless criticism” directed toward the Church, especially under Benedict XVI’s “virtuous and heroic” papacy.

He lamented that “the mass media have been so influential in their insidiousness that many Catholics have distanced themselves from the practice of their Christian faith, and have retreated emotionally from their own communities, parishes, and commitments.”

The cardinal’s remarks touched on many global changes, including the shift in Catholicism from being a “European Church” to a “universal Church, with multiple cultural roots.”

Citing Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler, he spoke of globalization and the “world dictatorship of financial capital” whose leaders have “a power of life and death” over billions of people because of their financial power.

“The effects and consequences of the neoliberal dictatorships that rule democracies are not hard to uncover: they invade us with the industry of entertainment, they make us forget about human rights, they convince us that nothing can be done, that there is no possible alternative.”

To counter these forces, Cardinal Rodriguez urged “living the globalization of mercy and solidarity” and a return to “a Church of the poor” that puts a primacy on those who are considered “the last.” Those who suffer poverty and exclusion “will be the first,” he reminded his audience.

“If Jesus calls the poor ‘blessed,’ it is because he is assuring them that their situation is going to change, and consequently it is necessary to create a movement that can bring about such a thing, restoring dignity and hope to them.”

The cardinal endorsed “common efforts and sacrifices” to raise up the marginalized and to advance solidarity. These efforts can then create an “international politics of solidarity, of economic democracy, the assumption of evangelical poverty” that is “inspired in Christ and his beatitudes.”

He said the Church must address “penultimate” human needs like hunger, housing, clothing, health and education in order to be able to care for “ultimate” spiritual needs. Catholics must support “a culture of the Good Samaritan” for those in need and feel as their own “the pain of the oppressed” in order to grow close to them and to free them.

 “Without this commitment, all religiousness is not true,” he said.

“A culture of compassion cannot develop, the pain of others cannot be taken on, nor can we implicate ourselves in the reality of the suffering if we do not act out of love, like the Good Samaritan.”

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Cleveland's auxiliary, Bishop Gries, retires at 76

Cleveland, Ohio, Nov 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Roger W. Gries, who was the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, on Nov. 1, upon his having reached the mandatory retirement age of 75.

Bishop Gries celebrated his 76th birthday in March. He was born in Cleveland, and joined the Order of Saint Benedict in 1957.

He was ordained a priest in 1963, and lived as a Benedictine through his appointment as an auxiliary bishop of Cleveland in 2001.

Bishop Gries was consecrated June 7, 2001, and has served as an auxiliary in Cleveland since that time. He now joins Bishop Anthony Pevec as an auxiliary bishop emeritus.

The Diocese of Cleveland is led by Bishop Richard Lennon.

In other pontifical acts, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Boniface Lele of Mombasa, in Kenya. Archbishop Emeritus Lele is 66, and presented his resignation under canon law “because of ill health or some other grave cause.”

Bishop Emanuel Barbara of Malindi was appointed apostolic administrator of Mombasa until a new bishop is appointed.

In Haiti, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Max Mésidor as Coadjutor Archbishop of Cap-Haitien. As coadjutor, he will succeed as archbishop of Cap-Haitien when its current archbishop, Louis Kébreau, reaches the age of 75 later this month.

Archbishop Mésidor had been Bishop of Fort-Liberté since June, 2012.

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Knights' Pope Francis documentary to re-air on Sunday

Rome, Italy, Nov 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A new documentary on Pope Francis by the Knights of Columbus, entitled “Francis: The Pope from the New World,” will re-air this Sunday on the U.S. cable channel CNBC.

“This documentary arrives as the world realizes that a very special man has assumed the leadership of the Catholic Church, and this begins – but does not end – with his gestures of humility and care for everyone,” Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus and an executive producer of the documentary, said Oct. 30.

Anderson said the details of Pope Francis’ life are still “largely unknown” to the public, including the ways he has “defended the voiceless and Catholic principles.”

“This documentary delves into those stories,” he said.

The hour-long documentary begins with the Pope’s election on March 13, 2013 and revisits his background in Argentina, where he served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires and as a Jesuit provincial.

Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, is the first Pope from the Americas and the first Jesuit Pope. He has long been an advocate for those struggling economically, including those who lived in the slums of Buenos Aires. He also helped protect those endangered in Argentina’s Dirty War.

The documentary includes interviews with the Pope’s close friends, his fellow priests, his co-workers, his biographer, and the poor of Buenos Aires. It covers his personal life, including his family relations and his support for the San Lorenzo soccer team.

The documentary, which first aired in mid-October, will re-air on CNBC Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles has praised the film.

“The whole world is talking about Pope Francis,” he said. “All this interest is a sign that millions in our secularized societies are still seeking God – and they’re still looking to the Catholic Church to show them the way.”

The documentary, he said, “presents a Pope who has a beautiful vision for human happiness and a Pope who is calling the Church to deeper love for Jesus and a new desire to bring our neighbors to God.”

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Court unanimously overturns block on Texas abortion law

Austin, Texas, Nov 1, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Texas pro-life advocates have claimed victory after a federal appeals court unanimously reinstated state rules that require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

“Legislators worked so hard to pass House Bill 2 because they are not only concerned about protecting the unborn, but also about women going to abortion clinics with sub-standard conditions and unsanitary equipment,” Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life, said Oct. 31.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Oct. 31 reinstated a provision of an abortion law that requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

The appellate court’s ruling overturned the decision of U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who had ruled Oct. 28 that the provision was unconstitutional and issued a permanent injunction against it.

Abortion backers claimed the law was unconstitutional and could stop abortions at as many as 13 of the state’s 36 licensed abortion providers, including those in Fort Worth and five other major cities, where doctors have not yet secured hospital privileges.

However, the appellate court said Texas will likely succeed in defending the case on its merits. It ruled the provision does not impose an “undue burden” on the legal right to an abortion and serves a legitimate state interest in regulating doctors, the New York Times reports.

While the court said the provision might increase the cost of abortion access and decrease the number of physicians who can perform abortions, it noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has previously ruled that this is not reason enough to invalidate a law.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who signed the bill into law, said the decision “affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas.”

Graham added that the provisions are “intended to keep Gosnell-like predators out of Texas.”

Kermit Gosnell, a late-term abortionist in Philadelphia, became notorious after his prosecution for killing an adult woman and several babies who survived abortions. He also faced prosecution for unsanitary and gruesome conditions in his clinic, where he stored the remains of unborn babies and abortion survivors.

The Texas law also  abortions after 20 weeks into pregnancy, on the grounds that an unborn baby can feel pain at that point. This provision was not challenged in court. Graham said that provision, which took effect Oct. 29, protects unborn children from “excruciating dismemberment.”

A challenge to the law will still proceed in January 2014, a trial which will also address increased regulations on the abortion drug RU-486.

Texas' law became a focus of national attention in June. Abortion backers highlighted Democratic state senator Wendy Davis, who filibustered in opposition to the bill for more than 10 hours at the close of the Texas legislature’s first special legislative session of the year.

The legislative session closed in controversy, with some abortion supporters in the legislature’s upstairs gallery disrupting the attempt to vote on the bill before the session closed. Perry called a second special session to pass the abortion restrictions and other laws.

Texas Right to Life’s Graham welcomed the law’s success.

“This is a historic week in Texas for the pro-life cause, for women’s health, and most importantly, for the unborn.”

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