Archive of January 11, 2014

Pope: Good priests have living relationship with Jesus Christ

Vatican City, Jan 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis' homily on Saturday morning offered a strong exhortation to priests to remain faithful to their relationship with Jesus Christ.

Priests must ask themselves, “what is the place of Jesus Christ in my priestly life? A living relationship between disciple and master, between brother and brother, between a poor man and God, or is it a little artificial not coming from the heart?” the Pope said on Jan. 11.

Pope Francis acknowledged, “we priests have many limitations: we are sinners, everyone.”

“But if we go to Jesus Christ, if we search for the Lord in prayer – the prayer of intercession, the prayer of adoration – we will be good priests, even though we are sinners,” he preached in the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse where he was joined by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco and a group of priests from the Archdiocese of Genova.

Playing on the Italian words for “anointing” and “oily” or “smarmy,” Pope Francis said, “we are anointed by the Spirit and when a priest is far away from Jesus Christ he can lose this anointing. In his life, no: essentially he has it but he loses it. And instead of being anointed he ends up becoming oily.”

“How much damage smarmy priests do in the Church!” the Pope lamented.

Priests have “a relationship of anointing for the people” but without a living relationship with Jesus Christ, a priest finds himself caught up in “artificial things, in vanity, in an attitude in an affected language.” Moreover, a man in holy orders may find himself compensating for his lack of faith with other “worldly behaviors,” or becoming a “shrewd businessman.”

“But the priest that adores Jesus Christ, the priest that speaks with Jesus Christ, the priest that seeks Jesus Christ and who allows himself to be sought by Jesus Christ: this is the center of our life. If it is not this, we lose everything. And what will we give to the people?” he questioned.

Contrasting the two lifestyles, he went on, “it is good to find priests who have given their lives as priests, truly, of whom the people say: ‘Yes, he’s difficult, he’s this or that... But he is a priest!’ And people know! On the other hand, when people see priest idolaters, so to speak, priests who instead of having Jesus have little idols...worshippers of the god Narcissus people say, ‘poor guy!’”

It is only “the relationship with Jesus Christ saves us from worldliness and idolatry that makes us smarmy, preserves us in the anointing (we have received),” he stressed.

Pope Francis concluded, “today, this is my hope for you who have been kind enough to come here to concelebrate with me: Even if you lose everything in life, don’t lose this relationship with Jesus Christ! This is your victory. Go forward with this!”

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Bishops lament federal 'disregard' for state marriage laws

Washington D.C., Jan 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - As the U.S. bishops lamented federal agencies’ decisions to ignore state marriage laws, Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal government will recognize the “gay marriages” briefly contracted in Utah.

“State marriage laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman deserve respect by the federal government,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the U.S. bishops’ subcommittee on the defense of marriage.

The archbishop’s comments came in a Jan. 10 letter to Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas), sponsor of the State Marriage Defense Act.

Archbishop Cordileone said the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision United States v. Windsor “requires the federal government  to defer to state marriage law, not disregard it.”

He “strongly encouraged” Congress to support Weber’s legislation, saying it will “prevent the federal government from unjustly disregarding, in certain instances, state marriage laws concerning the definition of marriage.”

On Jan. 10 Eric Holder said the federal government will give federal benefits to same-sex couples who contracted marriages in Utah, recognizing them as “lawful.”

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who took office Dec. 30, 2013, told counties to give marriage certificates to same-sex couples who were civilly married during the 17 days such unions were legally recognized in the state, the Deseret News reports.

About 1,300 same-sex couples received marriage licenses in Utah during that time. However, the state does not currently recognize the unions as valid.

A federal district court judge on Dec. 20 ruled that the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman was unconstitutional. On Jan. 6, the Utah attorney general secured a stay from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to halt further legal same-sex unions.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, blasted Holder’s decision to recognize the marriages.

“It is outrageous that the Justice Department would move so brazenly and publicly to undermine Utah's standing constitutional provision regulating marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Brown said Jan. 10.

He said the voters and the Utah legislature have exercised their right to define marriage, a right he said the Supreme Court upheld in the Windsor case.

Brown said Holder “is now doing the very thing that the Supreme Court in Windsor v. United States held the federal government could not do – use a definition of marriage for federal law purposes that did not respect the policy choices made by the individual states.”

Utah attorney general spokeswoman Missy Lawson said the U.S. attorney general’s decision would not affect the state’s decision not to recognize the marriages, saying their validity will be determined “at the end of the court process,” Bloomberg News reports.

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A look at Pope Francis' possible choices for February consistory

Vatican City, Jan 11, 2014 (CNA) - Pope Francis’ choices for cardinals are likely to fall in line with his pastoral emphasis and his desire that the Church go to the peripheries.

In the coming days, Pope Francis will be announcing the names of those who will receive the “red hat” in the Feb. 22 consistory.

Popes traditionally read out the names of the cardinals-to-be at a general audience or Sunday Angelus at least a month prior to the event. At this point, it is likely that Pope Francis will use a general audience as his platform, probably that of either Jan. 22 or 15.

A “logical list” of the new cardinals would include only four created because of their function in the Roman Curia: Archbishops Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State; Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy; and Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops.

Following his election as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis gave Archbishop Baldisseri his own red biretta, traditionally a sign of things to come. At that time, Archbishop Baldisseri was serving as the conclave's secretary.

Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, archivist of the Vatican Secret archives and librarian of Vatican Library, is not expected to be named, though the red hat customarily has come with these offices.

But in choosing the new cardinals, Pope Francis may be looking to highlight the importance of peripheral Churches.

That means a glance to his native Latin America, where four easy choices for the cardinalate appear.

The new Latin American cardinals could be: Archbishops Mario Poli of Buenos Aires; Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago de Chile; Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, and Murilo Ramos Krieger of Sao Salvador of Bahia, in Brazil.

Pope Francis may also give the red biretta to Archbishop Eustaquio Cuquejo Verga of Asuncion. Should be made a cardinal, Archbishop Cuquejo would be the first Paraguayan cardinal.

The Pope is also paying a lot of attention to the Church in Asia; Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, revealed at the meeting of the association of an Italian diocesan magazine in early December that “we could expect” a papal trip to the continent in the future.

The Pope’s focus on Asia would be proven by the three new Asian cardinals he may create in the next consistory. The top candidates are Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul; Francis Xavier Kovithavanij of Bangkok; and Peter Okada of Tokyo.

Africa could also get two, possibly Archbishop Odon Razanakolona of Antananarivo, in Madagascar, and Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala.

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the largest of the Eastern Catholic Churches, should also get the red hat in the next consistory.

Some sources maintain there will be no new cardinals from the United States, though should one be appointed, it may be Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit.

As to Europe, the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel, André-Joseph Leonard, could be expected, as the office-holder is traditionally made a cardinal. Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster should also be appointed cardinal.

Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia, newly a member of the Congregation of Bishops, could be created cardinal as well. The appointment of Archbishop Bassetti would be a surprise to many. Perugia is by tradition not a diocese led by a cardinal. The last cardinal-archbishop of Perugia was Vincenzo Pecci, who was later elected Pope Leo XIII.

The choice of Archbishop Bassetti would signal that Pope Francis wants to get back to the “ad personam cardinalate”, i.e. the creation of cardinals according to the will and the trust of the Pope, and not as a consequence of their posts as archbishops.

Together with Archbishop Bassetti, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin should make the cut, though Patriarch Francesco Moraglia of Venice is not expected to do so. The absence of Patriarch Moraglia would confirm the “ad personam cardinalate” choice.

Pope Francis could also choose Archbishop Loris Capovilla, Prelate Emeritus of Loreto, and one-time secretary to Bl. John XXIII. Capovilla is 98, and thus could not take part in an eventual conclave, since he is well over the voting age.

His appointment would be a tribute to the canonization of Bl. John XXIII, which will take place April 27.

The new cardinals would only partially fill the “hole” in the College of Cardinals for what concerns the cardinals with right to vote in a conclave.

On Feb. 22, there will be 106 cardinal electors, and so Pope Francis will have 14 “red hats” available, according to the norm introduced by Paul VI which sets the maximum number of voting cardinals at 120.

On March 14, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop Emeritus of Milan, will turn 80, as will another 32 cardinals by the end of April, 2017, meaning that during the first four years of his pontificate, Pope Francis would be able to create at least 47 new cardinals, more than a third of the college of electors of the Bishop of Rome.

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Pope voices gratitude for group committed to Christian unity

Vatican City, Jan 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis met with an ecumenical scholarship organization on the morning of Jan. 11, thanking them for their dedication to the work of Christian unity.

“I express my deep gratitude to all the benefactors who have supported and (continue to) support the committee,” he told members of the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration.

“Without your valued contribution this work would not be possible. Therefore, I encourage you to continue in the action that you perform.”

The committee, begun by Paul VI in 1963, is meeting to mark the occasion of their 50th anniversary. The organization is dedicated to helping students from the Orthodox Churches of the Byzantine tradition and the Oriental Orthodox Churches by a student exchange and scholarship program.

“The Second Vatican Council had not yet concluded when Paul VI instituted the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration,” Pope Francis noted.

“The path of reconciliation and renewed fraternity between the Churches, wonderfully marked by the first historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, required the experience of friendship and sharing that arises from the mutual understanding between members of different Churches, and in particular the young people initiated into sacred ministry.”

Pope Francis addressed the student participants directly, saying “A special greeting to you, dear students, who are completing your theological studies in Rome. Your stay in our midst is important for the dialogue between the Churches of today and, above all, tomorrow.”

Expressing his own desire for Christian unity, he continued, “I thank God because he has granted me this beautiful opportunity to meet you and tell you that the Bishop of Rome loves you.”

“I hope that each of you can have a joyful experience of the Church and the city of Rome, enriched spiritually and culturally, and that you do not see yourselves as guests, but as brothers among brothers.”

“I am certain, that for your part, you by your presence you enrich the academic communities in which you study,” he added. “May the Lord bless you and the Madonna protect you.”

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