Nona Bua Lamphu, Thailand, Nov 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A large group of Vietnamese Catholic youth living in Thailand recently participated in a faith encounter pilgrimage camp there, renewing their commitment to Christ.
“The purpose of this encounter camp is to provide opportunities of empowering them with spiritual support in their faith while being away from the Catholic environment that they have been accustomed to in their home country, Vietnam,” Fr. Anthony Le Duc, local chaplain to the Vietnamese community, told CNA.
“It is an opportunity for Vietnamese youth in Thailand to gather to support one another and to share with one another their faith and life experiences.”
The third annual “Journey with Christ” camp drew over 100 Vietnamese youth who work or study in Thailand to Nong Bua Lamphu, a town in the country's northeast, located a little over 30 miles southwest of the cathedral city of Udon Thani, for the Oct. 25-26 camp at St. Michael the Archangel parish.
Although around eight percent of Vietnamese are Catholic, members of the Catholic faith account for less than one percent of Thailand's population.
While living and working away from their home, Vietnamese Catholic youth in Thailand often lack opportunities to share and build relationships, due to their working conditions and a language barrier that makes it difficult for them to receive the sacraments in many areas of Thailand outside large cities.
“Being united through these camps, they share their joys as well as struggles, and at the same time strengthening their Christian faith,” said Fr. Le Duc.
The camp included testimonies of faith, workshops, videos, meditations, games, and music.
Ngo Hong Quan, a participant in the camp, said that “through the theme 'Journey with Christ,' we have been supported, affirmed, and challenged in our faith, and feel a great sense of solidarity with each other and with Christ, who continues to journey with us.”
Nguyen Van Thang, an organizing member of the event, said that “I feel very blessed to have a part in this event, to meet many new friends whom I have never known before.”
“It feels wonderful to see the joy displayed on everyone's faces and to see how distances between people are lost, when we gather in the love of Christ.”
Another participant, Phan Thuy Tien, told CNA, “I realized that as someone who had attended these camps before, it was now my responsibility to display enthusiasm and try to spread the fire to other participants.”
“I want all of us to be enthusiastic about being witnesses for Christ, no matter how tired we may feel in our life of work and studies.”
Fr. Le Duc said that “it has been extremely rewarding to see how much the youth who come leave the camp with renewed spirit and commitment to Christ.”
Albuquerque, N.M., Nov 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A citizen-initiated ordinance to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy in Albuquerque, N.M., will receive a vote on Nov. 19 and could have a big impact on the abortion-friendly state.
“This election is historic and has national implications, as it is the first time in our nation's history that the issue of abortion is on a stand-alone ballot for the citizens to decide,” said Elisa Martinez, executive director of Protect Albuquerque Women and Children.
“Albuquerque residents are energized to support and vote for the ban in face of the medical and scientific evidence that unborn babies experience tremendous pain during these horrific late-term abortion procedures,” she told CNA.
The legislation is being presented as a stand-alone special ballot initiative, meaning that it will be the only topic in the special Nov. 19 election.
If passed, the legislation would only affect New Mexico’s largest city, but pro-life groups say it could have a tremendous impact given the state’s loose abortion regulations, among the most unregulated in the country.
New Mexico currently “has no restrictions on abortion,” permitting the procedure throughout the entire pregnancy, up until the day of birth, explained Emily Buchanan, executive vice president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.
This has enabled the state to become a safe haven for late-term abortion, and “Albuquerque is known as the abortion capital of the West.”
Passing the legislation “would have an immediate effect on shutting down the notorious late-term abortionist Curtis Boyd,” who runs an abortion clinic within city limits, Buchanan explained, and “it would have an immediate effect on saving the lives of these unborn babies.”
Martinez added that “three of the five of the nation's know late-term abortionists fly in to perform this dangerous procedure” at the Albuquerque clinic.
Though the initiative is the only question on the ballot, and New Mexico is considered a “blue state,” primarily voting Democratic in state and national elections, the citizen-initiated measure is being met with support.
The initiative was placed on the ballot with more than 27,000 signatures of support. Buchanan told CNA that 54 percent of Albuquerque residents support the ordinance, and support levels are even higher among Hispanic residents.
Though the special election will be held on Nov. 19, “early voting has already begun,” Buchanan continued. However, the “election is all based on turnout,” and Election Day will be an important and “unique opportunity for pro-life voters to take a stance, to vote to protect unborn children.”
In the weeks leading up to the election, abortion activists have tried to counteract support for the initiative, raising more than $200,000 for television advertisements and activism, according to Susan B. Anthony List.
This shows that the importance of the initiative is understood clearly by both sides, Buchanan said.
“This is why the late-term abortion extremists here have aligned themselves with Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and others who have dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign to defeat our grassroots measure.”
Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Ten bishops are nominees to become the next president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the group's general assembly to be held in Baltimore Nov. 11-14.
The nominees come from a wide variety of backgrounds. The conference president plays a significant role in coordinating and leading charitable and social work and education, while providing a public face for the Catholic Church in the U.S.
Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond is the first New Orleans native to head the city's archdiocese, where he had served as an auxiliary bishop from 1997-2000. He is former Bishop of Austin, and has been archbishop of New Orleans since 2009.
The archbishop recently made news for asking Catholic schools in his archdiocese to stop holding Sunday events in order to reduce temptations to neglect faith and family life.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., has headed the Philadelphia archdiocese since 2011, where he has been working to help the Church recover from a severe sex abuse scandal, financial deficits, and declining church attendance. Previously, he headed the Denver archdiocese since 1997. He was Bishop of Rapid City from 1988-1997.
He is known for his media engagement, his openness to discuss political issues and other cultural topics, and his efforts to engage Catholics in public life. The Kansas native made his solemn profession with the Capuchin Franciscans in 1968. He served on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from 2003-2006.
Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Spokane formerly headed the Diocese of Rapid City from 1998-2010. He served as a priest in Omaha, and was rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio from 1989-1996.
Bishop Cupich received a doctorate of sacred theology in sacramental theology from the Catholic University of America.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston is a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. He was Bishop of Sioux City from 1998-2004.
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 1977; before becoming a bishop he served in the Congregation for Bishops and was an adjunct professor at the Pontifical North American College. He holds degrees in sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Patristic Institute Augustianum. He previously headed the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles is the leading Hispanic Catholic bishop in the U.S. Heading the largest archdiocese in the country, he previously served as Archbishop of San Antonio from 2005-2010 and was an auxiliary bishop of Denver from 2001-2005.
He has been involved with the National Association of Hispanic Priests and is a co-founder of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders. The archbishop is also known for his work supporting vocations, Hispanic ministry and pro-life efforts. He currently chairs the bishops’ Committee on Migration and is a board member of ENDOW: Educating on the Nature and dignity of Women.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville is the current vice-president of the U.S. bishops’ conference. He served as Bishop of Knoxville from 1999-2007 after serving as a priest of the Diocese of Allenstown for 27 years, in social services, diocesan administration, and parish ministry.
He is the vice chancellor of the board of the Catholic Extension Society and an advisor to the Catholic Social Workers National Association, the Archdiocese of Louisville website says. He is on the board of directors of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and on the advisory board to the cause for the canonization of Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore served on the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse in 2002, at the height of the sexual abuse scandals, and played a key role in drafting the bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
He was named Bishop of Bridgeport, in March 2001 after serving as auxiliary bishop of Washington from 1995-2001. While there, he successfully led a religious liberty fight against a radical state legislative proposal that would have remade the legal structure of the Catholic Church. He now heads the bishops’ ad hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr has headed the Cincinnati archdiocese since 2009, and was Bishop of Duluth from 2001-2008.
He served as a priest in the Diocese of Sioux City before working at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C. from 1985-1989. He served as national executive director for World Youth Day 1993, held in Denver, Colo.
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit was an auxiliary bishop of Detroit from 1996-2003 before becoming Bishop of Oakland in 2003. He served in the Vatican Secretariat of State in the early 1990s and also served as an adjunct instructor at the Gregorian.
He is a member of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and its Subcommittee on the Catechism.
Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami has chaired the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. He was ordained an auxiliary bishop of Miami in 1997 and later served as Bishop of Orlando before returning to head the Miami archdiocese.
He has ministered to Haitians and Cubans living in the U.S. and speaks both Haitian Creole and Spanish. As director of Miami’s Catholic Charities affiliate, he helped lead a major relief operation for victims of a 1996 hurricane in Cuba and then led similar efforts elsewhere in the Caribbean and Latin America.
The U.S. bishops’ conference's current president is Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose three-year term is coming to a close.
In the 2010 leadership election, the U.S. bishops chose then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York over Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, the conference vice-president. The move was unprecedented, as the bishops have customarily chosen the previous conference vice-president to serve as president.
A simple majority is required for a candidate to win election.
Honolulu, Hawaii, Nov 6, 2013 (CNA) -
The father of Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino is “very proud” of both his son’s accomplishments at the World Series and of his charitable work.
The Red Sox won the baseball championship on Oct. 30, after playing six games with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“We are thankful to God for his baseball talent which has given him great opportunities in life,” Mike Victorino told the website Fathers for Good, of his son Shane.
Fathers for Good is a men’s initiative run by the Knights of Columbus which aims to inform men and inspire them to be better fathers and husbands.
“Thank God also that he is using that talent for good purposes off the field. That’s what it’s all about.”
Shane, nicknamed the “Flyin’ Hawaiian,” hit a bases-loaded double in the third inning of the World Series’ sixth game to help the Red Sox defeat the Cardinals. He had hit a grand slam home run in the American League championship series against the Detroit Tigers, but a tight back hindered his World Series play until the sixth and final game.
“He came through,” Mike said. “He was having a few challenges with his back, but he has always been one to fight back and never give up. I think we all saw that in the sixth game.”
The proud father is Hawaii state deputy for the Knights of Columbus, and Shane has been a member of the Knights for eight years.
Mike said he tells his son that baseball is like life, in that “you have to answer the question: what have you done for me lately?”
He praised his son’s work with the Shane Victorino Foundation, which has dedicated $1 million to rebuild a historic Boys & Girls Club in Philadelphia. The foundation also runs sports clinics and outreach programs for youth in Hawaii and other states.
Vatican City, Nov 6, 2013 (CNA) - During his general audience today, Pope Francis reflected on the importance of participating in the Church’s spiritual goods in order to grow closer to God as a community in charity.
“Charity is the greatest richness of the Church. Living Communion in charity means not looking for one’s own interest, but rather to be capable of sharing the joys and sufferings of brethren; to be capable of carrying one another’s burdens,” the Pope explained in his Nov. 6 General Audience.
The Holy Father addressed his words to the thousands of pilgrims crowded into Saint Peter’s Square earlier this morning.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began, “In our continuing catechesis on the Creed, we now reflect on ‘the communion of saints’ as a communion not only of persons but also of spiritual goods.”
We grow in communion with God and with the other members of his body “through our sharing” in those spiritual goods, noted the Pope, naming the Sacraments, charisms and charity as three of the key “treasures” found within the Church.
“In the Sacraments we find ourselves with Jesus and, through Him, we enter to form part of the holy People of God,” the pontiff explained.
“All encounters with the Lord have a missionary character,” and “that is why, the Sacraments are an invitation to communicate to others what we have seen and heard, to lead others to the salvation we have received,” he continued.
In the same way, the Pope specified that charisms “are special gifts and graces that the Holy Spirit distributes to build up the Church, namely, to build up its holiness and its mission in the world” through “unity” and “service.”
A charism denotes different gifts and spiritual graces given to man through the love of God in order to complete their specific mission or task within the Church.
These charisms “enrich charity, which is above everything, expressed the Pope, “without love, charisms are in vain. With love, even the smallest of our actions have repercussions in benefitting everyone.”
Pope Francis concluded his reflections by urging those present not to forget that “the spiritual goods that we share in the Church are in the service of the Communion and of the mission and through the Communion of the saints each one of us are a sign and ‘sacrament’ of God’s love for the others and for the entire world.”
Among those who attended the Pope’s general Audience were pilgrims present from both England and Wales, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, Japan and the United States. The pontiff also extended special greetings to a group of English priests celebrating the anniversary of their ordination.
Washington D.C., Nov 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - At the direction of the Vatican's head for doctrine, the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. has written a letter stating that Catholics “are not permitted” to participate in meetings which take for granted that the supposed Marian apparitions in Medjugorje are credible.
“The Congregation (for the Doctrine of the Faith) has affirmed that, with regard to the credibility of the 'apparitions' in question, all should accept the declaration … which asserts: 'On the basis of the research that has been done, it is not possible to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations,'” Archbishop Carlo Vigano wrote in an Oct. 21 letter to the bishops of the U.S., sent to the general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“It follows, therefore, that clerics and the faithful are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted.”
CNA confirmed that the letter was sent to every diocese in the U.S.
Archbishop Vigano wrote the letter “at the request” of Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Oct. 21 letter was evidently following up on one sent Feb. 27.
The nuncio wrote that Archbishop Mueller “wishes to inform” the U.S. bishops that Ivan Dragicevic, one of the “so-called visionaries” of Medjugorje, is scheduled to give presentations at parishes across the country, and is anticipated to have more apparitions during these talks.
The visions of Medjugorje refer to a series of alleged Marian apparitions that begin in 1981 in what is now Bosnia.
In 1991, the bishops of the former Yugoslavia had determined that it is not possible to say there were Marian apparitions at the site. In 2010, the Vatican established a commission to further investigate “doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of the phenomenon of Medjugorje.”
Because that commission is still in the process of its investigation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has established that the judgment of the Yugoslavian bishops be accepted.
“To avoid scandal and confusion,” wrote Archbishop Vigano, “Archbishop Mueller asks that the Bishops be informed of this matter as soon as possible.”
Vatican City, Nov 6, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The American Bible Society has released a new study guide on how to pray Lectio Divina with the hope that the manual’s readers will obtain a deeper appreciation for the Word of God.
“It has made me appreciate the Bible much more first of all. I think that for me it's a way of anchoring my prayer in the word of God that is transmitted to us through the Bible,” Fr. Stephan Pisano told CNA in an Oct. 30 interview.
Fr. Pisano, a Jesuit priest from California who has been teaching at the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome the past thirty years, was one of those presenting on the new book “Pray With the Bible, Meditate With the Word,” at the Oct. 30 release.
The book, written by Fr. Gabriel Mestre, is an initiative of the American Bible Society based in New York City, and offers guidelines for using a traditional method of praying with Sacred Scripture called Lectio Divina.
Mario Paredes, rector of Catholic Ministries for the American Bible Society, also gave a presentation at the book release, revealing that the society “designed this book as a tool for our Catholic constituencies in the United States and anywhere else. So people really could go back to learn how to pray with the Bible.”
According to Fr. Pisano, the method of prayer for Lectio Divina classically follows a four step process, the first being “the reading of the text, the ‘lectio,’” in which a passage from scripture is read.
Next comes the “’meditatio,’” he noted, “which after you have seen what the meaning of the text is, then you ask what does the text mean for me. Then, the third step is ‘oratio,’ or prayer, what prayers come spontaneously once I have seen the meaning of the text for me.”
“The fourth step,” the priest went on to say, “is contemplation, ‘contemplatio,’ that leaving aside all the other considerations, then I let the word penetrate into me and I just rest and stay with it.”
The manual was published not because people have forgotten about the traditional method of prayer, Paredes explained, but because “people don't know how to pray with the Bible.”
“Unfortunately, in many places around the world and in many cultures,” he reflected, “the reading, the prayerful reading of the Bible is something unknown” and the Bible has not had “a central place in the life of our Catholic communities.”
Recalling how retired pontiff Benedict XVI was an avid proponent of the practice, Paredes highlighted how “he was a lover of the Bible. He knew the Bible inside out and everything that he says was biblical. Everything that he wrote was biblical.”
The rector also observed that “today more and more our Catholic community,” both communally and well as individually, “are becoming more accustomed to take the Bible and to pray with the Bible.”
When asked if a re-discovery of this form of prayer is passing through the Americas, Paredes responded “absolutely,” expressing that “it is our dream that we will take the practice of Lectio Divina through many, many communities around the Western hemisphere.”
The new book, written in collaboration with “Libreria Editrice Vaticana,” the Vatican Library, has 50,000 copies already printed, and is anticipating to double that number just for the initial development.
So far it has been translated into English, Spanish and Italian, and is currently being distributed in the United States as well as certain countries in South America, and in Rome.
Rochester, N.Y., Nov 6, 2013 (CNA/Europa Press) -
Pope Francis today appointed Bishop Salvatore Matano, who had led the Diocese of Burlington since 2005, as Bishop of Rochester, succeeding Bishop Matthew Clark.
“My first priority will be to bring people back to Mass,” Bishop Matano said Nov. 6 at a press conference announcing his appointment, adding that “my strategic plan is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“If you are not practicing the faith, please come home. Come home. We miss you.”
Bishop Matano also noted that holiness isn't something “magical,” but means “to be absorbed by Jesus.”
He furthermore requested the earnest prayers of his people. His Mass of installation will be said Jan. 3, 2014.
Bishop Matano was born in Providence, R.I., Sept. 15, 1946 and began his studies at Our Lady of Providence Seminary. He was ordained a priest of the Providence diocese in 1971, and the following year earned a theology licentiate from the Pontifical Gregorian University.
As a priest, he served as a parish priest, high school teacher, college professor, in various posts at the diocesan chancery, with the office of the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., and obtained a doctorate in canon law from the Gregorian in 1983.
Bishop Matano was appointed coadjutor bishop of Burlington in 2005, and succeeded as bishop of the diocese later the same year.
Bishop Emeritus Clark, whom Bishop Matano succeeds, had led the Rochester archdiocese since 1979, and retired Sept. 21, 2012, shortly after his 75th birthday.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the metropolitan archdiocese over Rochester, wrote that “Bishop Matano has been an excellent Bishop of Burlington, and I know that he will be warmly welcomed as he undertakes his new pastoral duties in Rochester.”
“I look forward to working with Bishop Matano in caring for God’s people in New York.”
In other pontifical acts today, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Santo Gangemi as apostolic nuncio to Guinea; Fr. Ailton Menegussi as Bishop of Crateus, in Brazil; and Fr. Pierre Jubinville, as Bishop of San Pedro, in Paraguay.
New York City, N.Y., Nov 6, 2013 (CNA) - Pope Francis has declared Catholic philosopher, author, and teacher Alice von Hildebrand a Dame Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory in recognition of her work.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, formally invested her in the chivalric order Oct. 30 at a gala dinner in New York celebrating her 90th birthday.
Cardinal Burke said that Pope Francis conferred the honor to recognize her “outstanding and faithful service” and “in public recognition of the esteem in which she is held in the Church.”
Membership in the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory, which dates back to 1831, is the highest honor a Pope can bestow upon a layman. Membership is given to individuals who have served the Church and society, and witnessed to their Catholic faith in an exemplary way.
The gala was hosted by the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, an academic organization based at Franciscan University of Steubenville dedicated to the work of Alice von Hildebrand’s late husband.
Von Hildebrand addressed the dinner guests, reflecting on the importance of gratitude, love, and friendship, calling them the “remains of the earthly paradise.”
She said she came to value philosophy through her husband. “His approach showed that philosophy is not an abstract discipline. It is life.”
“It involves my heart, my intelligence and my will, and therefore opens a vista of greatness and beauty that most of us are not aware of.”
“He showed me that what we call Christian philosophy is not an abstraction, it is simply reason baptized by faith.”
The Belgian-born von Hildebrand has been a regular commentator on EWTN, and is a retired professor of philosophy at Hunter College in New York City, where she taught for 37 years. Her books include “The Soul of a Lion,” “The Privilege of Being a Woman,” “Dark Night of the Body,” and “By Love Refined.”
Cardinal Burke said the von Hildebrands worked together “in the study of truth taught to us both by faith and reason, and in the life of truth through love of God.”
“In thanking God for the gift of Alice von Hildebrand to us and to so many whose lives she has transformed by her teaching and her writing, let us join with her in preserving the memory of her beloved husband and in making his important writings more available and better known.”
Vatican City, Nov 6, 2013 (CNA) - At the end of the Nov. 6 general audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis drew attention by warmly embracing a man who suffers from a rare disease causing neuronal tumors all over his body.
The man was identified as suffering from neurofibromatosis, which causes great pain and can result in impaired vision, learning impairnment, and even cancer, according to non-profit research group Mayo Clinic. Treatment of the condition is very complicated.
People with this disease – which is genetic and not contagious – often face discrimination because of their appearance.
As he carried out his typical greeting of pilgrims at the conclusion of the general audience, Pope Francis paused for several minutes to receive the sick man in his arms.
Moments later, he took the man’s face in his hands, kissed him, and gave him a blessing.
The gesture is the latest in a series of actions by the Holy Father that have drawn attention for their warmth and affection towards the marginalized in society. Previously, the Pope made headlines by visiting imprisoned youth, responding to letters with personal phone calls, and inviting the local homeless to dine at St. Peter’s Square.