Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Church in the Americas will be strengthened only by faithful Catholics whose lives of witness flow from their relationship with Jesus, the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro has said.
"A missionary disciple must live the encounter with Christ," Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta said Nov. 16 to a group of Catholic leaders gathered in Mexico City.
The Americas today are in urgent need of missionaries, and evangelization is critical, he stressed, pointing to those who have strayed from the faith, as well as those have have not yet received the good news of Jesus Christ.
When we see adults who have been baptized but not catechized, we realize the need for a renewal of faith, he explained, adding that while this is a daunting task, we can find hope in the Year of Faith, and in the Holy Father's teachings, including his encyclical on the theological virtue.
The archbishop was speaking Nov. 16 at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe during a conference entitled "Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization on the American Continent."
The four-day conference drew bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders from across North, Central and South America to consider the role and mission of the Church throughout the region, giving particular attention to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Sponsored by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the Knights of Columbus, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Higher Institute of Guadalupan Studies, the event builds on a similar gathering held in Rome last year, as well as Bl. John Paul II's apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America.
Pope Francis teaches us that our primary job as the Church is not to proselytize, but to provide a testimony of life that flows from a true encounter with Christ, Archbishop Tempesta said in his talk. All the people of God must therefore learn to see themselves as missionaries, called to spread the Gospel through their lives.
This requires a "culture of encounter," which Pope Francis talks about frequently, he added.
Bishops and other Catholic leaders should help foster this culture of encounter in order to address "the challenge of renewal within the Church."
"We must be pastors near the people," the archbishop emphasized – not distant or ambitious, but willing to "support with love and patience the steps taken by God in his people."
He encouraged his fellows bishops to "conduct ecclesiastic work which is truly pastoral and not just administrative" and to embrace pastoral work for the good of the Church.
He advised them to be proactive on problems that may arise in their dioceses and to "promote reconciliation and encounter with the mercy of God," while looking always for the good of the faithful and society.
Furthermore, the archbishop said, there is a need to renew a consciousness of the Holy Spirit present in the Word of God and the Sacraments. The laity can participate in this great task by being "missionary disciples" as well, he said.
The Pope also teaches us to recognize the importance of the youth, Archbishop Tempesta continued.
He encouraged his fellow bishops and other leaders in the Church to go out to young people, meeting them where they are at and listening to the joys and challenges of their lives.
"We must help young people rediscover the value and the joy of the faith," he said.
"This is very difficult," he acknowledged, but when a young person understands that he is personally loved by God, "this feeling goes with him throughout his entire life."
The young people are truly the future of the Church, Archbishop Tempesta said, adding that they can benefit from encountering another often-forgotten segment of society: the elderly.
The Church should foster inter-generational dialogue, he urged, because this allows the elderly to "offer the wisdom they have obtained over the course of their lives."
Only through dialogue, cultivated "with the heart of a pastor," will Church leaders succeed in reaching those who have fallen away from the faith through the "culture of encounter" promoted by the Pope, he said.
Vatican City, Nov 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A well-known composer and professor in Rome has revealed his goal of depicting the Bible through musical composition, stressing that it is an important avenue of evangelization.
“My career,” explained Msgr. Marco Frisina in a Nov. 11 interview with CNA, is to have “the Bible and the music” be “together like one embrace.”
Msgr. Frisina graduated with a degree in composition from the Conservatory of Saint Cecilia in Rome, as well as a Licentiate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in the city.
He is currently Chairman of the Diocesan Commission for Sacred Art and Cultural Heritage and a Consultant of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and since 1991 has been the Director of the Pontifical Musical Choir of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.
For his ministry as “a priest,” Msgr. Frisina noted that in the “evangelization” through music, “the Bible was a unique link.”
As an expression of this connection, he has written over twenty musical selections specifically for Bl. John Paul II, whom he knew in seminary, and for Benedict XVI, all illustrating the lives of various Biblical figures and Saints.
Highlighting how music is also an important tool for evangelization, Msgr. Frisina stated that “I believe the music, in my experience…is a great harmony” in terms of meeting different “people” and “cultures.”
“All things with the music” he added, “begin to move; to move emotion, to move conversion, to move friendship, to move faith.”
Evangelization, continued the priest, “for me is communicated love. The music is love because we sung only for love. The singer, player is an act of love. And I believe to communicate the faith with the music, communicate the love with the music (or) with the words...is the love.”
Having been born in Rome and written most of his work in Italian, including the music for several movies on the lives of the Saints and the Beatification Mass for Bl. John Paul II, Msgr. Frisina expressed his ardent desire to continue expanding his work into the English language.
Although he mostly writes English compositions for “international occasions” such as World Youth Day, the priest expressed that it is his “dream to write the great compositions in English” like the “’oratorium’ opera.”
“I believe the English language is a language universal for many people,” Msgr. Fisina explained, referring to the language as “the new Latin of the world.”
“I believe in English it is possible to tell the Bible history in music.”
Msgr. Fisina travelled to the United States in 2011 for a special tour in which he performed concerts in New Jersey, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Sacred Heart in Newark and Regina Pacis in Booklyn, and will return to America again in 2014 for several other commissions he has accrued there.
Among the compositions requested of him in the United States is a new symphony he is working on entitled “Mysterium Paschale,” the “movements” of which are like the days of Triduum, Paschale Triduum: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Easter.”
“Like a passage, a passage from the love, the painful, the waiting and the light and this passage is Paschale Mysterium, the Mystery of Easter.”
“Music is,” he said, “like one language universal. God has created the music, I believe, to give us a way, a way to meet God and friends and brothers, like one privileged way to us.”
As far evangelization, the priest stated that “Music can be a potential weapon, capable of uniting the close to the far away making them vibrate to the unison for beauty of love of Christ.”
Vatican City, Nov 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis will officially deliver his first post-synodal apostolic exhortation to coincide with the end of the Year of Faith.
During a Nov. 18 press conference, the Holy See revealed that the title of the new document is “Evangelii Gaudium,” or “The Joy of the Gospel,” which will be publicly proclaimed by the Pope during the closing Mass for the Year of Faith on Sunday, Nov. 24.
The exhortation is a concluding document of last year’s Synod of Bishops, which centered on the theme of “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”
Although the Pope will make the first announcement on the Nov. 24, the official presentation will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 26 in the John Paul II Hall of the Vatican.
Pope Francis will deliver the exhortation to “a bishop, a priest, a deacon, religious men and women, novices, a family, catechists, artists, journalists, young people, the elderly and the sick” noted Archbishop Rino Fisichella.
Archbishop Fisichella, who will be present at the official presentation on Nov. 26, is the President of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of the New Evangelization.
“Namely,” he continued, “it will be delivered to all those in various stages of life, who as Christians, are called to be evangelizers.”
“The Year of Faith becomes a commitment that the Church assumes her duty once again to bring the Gospel to every creature,” added the archbishop.
Altogether, there will be 36 people present for the event representing 18 different countries and five continents, the Vatican during the press release.
Special note was made that the Bishop, priest and deacon that the Pope will deliver the exhortation to come from Letonia, Tanzania Australia, and were chosen because of their youth.
It was also made known that the document might not be a “classical ‘post-synodal’” apostolic exhortation, and due to this fact the preparation and structure of the document remain unknown.
Vatican City, Nov 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his daily homily Pope Francis cautioned against modern society's push for a unified secular ideology, saying that this does not create positive globalization but rather an “adolescent progressivism.”
“The spirit of worldliness also exists today, today also brings us this desire to be progressive, following a single thought,” the Pope said during his Nov. 18 daily Mass.
The pontiff directed his reflections to those present in the Santa Marta guesthouse of the Vatican, including the new Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Pietro Parolin.
Centering his homily on the day’s first reading from the Book of Maccabees in which the Jewish community abandoned their cultural and religious customs because of the influence of the corrupt king “Antiochus the Illustrious,” who destroyed their temple and built pagan altars.
Pope Francis explained how giving up one’s identity like those in the reading “is a contradiction,” because “we do not negotiate values, but we negotiate fidelity.”
“This is precisely the fruit of the devil, of the prince of this world, which leads us forward in a spirit of worldliness. And after, the consequences occur,” he added, highlighting how not only did the people of God take the “customs of the pagans,” they took it “a step further.”
“The king prescribed in all the kingdom that everyone form a single people and every one will abandon their own customs,” noted the pontiff, adding that “it is not the beautiful globalization of the unity of all Nations, but rather each one with their own customs…it is the globalization of hegemonic uniformity.”
He then drew attention to the fact that this still happens today, because “the spirit of worldliness also exists today, today also brings us this desire to be progressive, following a single thought.”
“If someone found the Book of the Covenant and if anyone obeyed the Law, the sentence of the king condemned him to death: and this is what we have read in newspapers in recent months” noted the Pope, observing that “these people have negotiated fidelity to the Lord.”
“These people, moved by the spirit of the world, have negotiated their own identity, have negotiated the belonging to a people, a people that God loves so much, that God wants as His people.”
Calling attention to the 20th century novel “Lord of the World” which focuses on this spirit of worldliness which leads to apostasy, Pope Francis cautioned against the attitude of wanting “be like everyone else,” which he referred to as an “adolescent progressivism.”
“What do you think?” he pressed, “that today human sacrifices are not made? Many, many people make human sacrifices and there are laws that protect them.”
Despite this, continued the pontiff, “what consoles us is that the Lord, who cannot renounce himself, the Faithful one, always remains before this path that the spirit of the world makes.”
“He always waits for us,” stated the Pope, “He loves us so much and He forgives us when we, repentant of any step, of some small step in this spirit of worldliness, go to Him, God of faithfulness before his people, that are not faithful.”
Praying “in the spirit of the son of the Church,” Pope Francis encouraged the Mass attendees to ask the Lord “that, with his goodness, his faithfulness,” he “save us from this worldly spirit that negotiates all.”
He also prayed that the God “protects us and makes us go forward, as he has helped his people go forward in the desert, leading by the hand, like a father takes the hand of his child.”
“We will go safely in the hand of the Lord.”
Vatican City, Nov 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis on Nov. 15 approved a new document on the rules for the Holy See's financial oversight agency to distinguish better the roles and functions of its leadership.
The Pope's document, an apostolic letter called a motu proprio, aims to help the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority “fulfill even more adequately its institutional functions in full autonomy and independence” while also being consistent with the legal framework of the Holy See and Vatican City, the Vatican Press Office said Nov. 18.
The new statutes create a specific office for “prudential supervision.” It also distinguishes the role and functions of the Financial Intelligence Authority president, board of directors, and directorate. The document takes effect Nov. 21.
The Vatican Press Office noted that earlier declarations from Pope Francis aimed to set norms for “transparency, supervision and financial intelligence” and to strengthen safeguards against “potential illicit activities in the financial sector.”
The Vatican is working to implement a long-term strategy to meet international financial standards, following several scandals and allegations of money laundering involving Vatican officials.
Washington D.C., Nov 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Members of minority religious communities, particularly Christians in the Middle East, face grave persecution around the world, religious freedom experts warn.
"There are parts of the world today where to be a Christian is to put your life in danger. From continent to continent, Christians are facing discrimination, ostracism, torture, even murder, simply for the faith they follow,” said Baroness Sayeeda Warsi in a Nov. 14 article in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
"Christian populations are plummeting and the religion is being driven out of some of its historic heartlands. There is even talk of Christianity becoming extinct in places where it has existed for generations – where the faith was born.”
The speech by the British Senior Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs preceded a Nov. 15 talk at Georgetown University on religious persecution around the globe. The talk was co-sponsored by the school’s Religious Freedom Project and the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.
The Baroness’ comments are the latest in a swell of commentary on the wave of religious freedom restrictions occurring around the globe.
The 2012 Hate Crime Report released Nov. 15 by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe detailed the incidence of hate crimes on the basis of religion and race in Western Europe.
The report also details a rise in social intolerance and legal restrictions against the practice of Christianity, in addition to anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim crimes, and other expressions of discrimination on religious grounds.
A November edition of the “Congressional Quarterly” notes a rise in religious repression and religious extremism around the globe, and religious freedom scholar Nina Shea called on Congress to promote “religious freedom along with other foreign policy priorities.”
The publication referenced two 2013 reports conducted by Pew Research and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, both of which noted a significant rise in the incidence and intensity of religious persecution of minorities between within the past several years. In addition, the studies noted a concerning rise in the persecution of Christians, particularly in the Middle East.
In her interview with the Daily Telegraph, Baroness Warsi, herself a Muslim, noted that while 1 in 10 Christians live in a country where they are a religious minority, the number of Christians in such countries is on the decline. Pointing to Iraq as an example, she stated that the number of Christians in the country is shrinking “from 1.2 million in 1990 to 200,000 today.”
She noted that merely instituting laws that protect religious freedom are worthless, without enforcement and cultural support from around the globe.
“I want to call for cross-faith, cross-continent unity on this issue – for a response which isn't itself sectarian,” Warsi sated. “Because a bomb going off in a Pakistani church shouldn't just reverberate through Christian communities; it should stir the world.”
In a Nov. 15 interview with BBC Radio 4, she continued to explain, saying that the international community needs to build a “political will behind” already accepted norms protecting religious freedom as a human right.
"We need to speak out and raise this with the countries where this is happening."
"Of course there have been moments when religious communities have been in conflict, but there have also been great moments of co-existence between faiths. There isn't an intrinsic clash between different faiths," she explained.
Warsi’s statements were supported by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.
"There are real challenges for Christians in this part of the world to support and get alongside them and also for politicians to understand that the presence of Christians is a great mediating factor, often for example between different segments of Islam," he said to the BBC.
Neville Kyrke-Smith, director of the British branch of Aid to the Church in Need, also pointed to the necessity of building greater interreligious cooperation and respect for religious minorities.
“In some places, it is possible that there will be no Christian presence left within my lifetime,” Kyrke-Smith warned.
“In numerous places where Christians are in the minority, they – along with other religious minorities – are facing violence and other forms of persecution from extremists who are trying to force them into submission or wipe them out.”