Archive of January 12, 2014

California bishops pray for rain as state's drought continues

Sacramento, Calif., Jan 12, 2014 (CNA) - The Catholic bishops of California have called for prayers for rain to bring relief to the drought in the state, as well as for those threatened by the lack of water.

“May God open the heavens and let his mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains,” said the prayer composed by Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento. “Let us especially pray for those most impacted by water shortages and for the wisdom and charity to be good stewards of this precious gift.”

The prayer also asked that political leaders “seek the common good as we learn to care and share God’s gift of water for the good of all.”

Many major California reservoirs are below 50 percent capacity, while the state snowpack is 20 percent of normal, NBC Los Angeles reports. State rainfall has been below average for the last three years.

Agriculture growers and representatives of local water districts have called on Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency. California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Corwin has said he expects his department to ask the governor to declare an emergency at the end of the month unless conditions change significantly.

The continuing water shortage could cause more economic, health, and quality of life challenges for Californians, the California Catholic Conference said Jan. 6. Food production, sanitation, power generation, environmental protection and other areas could be affected.

The bishops' conference released several prayers for sufficient rain, for people affected by the lack of rainfall, and for those who manage water resources in the state.

Bishop Soto, the state Catholic conference president, said the shortage reminds Californians of “our dependence on the Creator.”

He said that people are “stewards of creation” and can turn to God “asking that he see our plight and give ear to our plea for rain.”

“Water is essential to who we are as human beings,” he added. “Our reliance on water reveals how much we are part of creation and creation is a part of us.”

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Pope's first cardinals represent peripheries of the world

Vatican City, Jan 12, 2014 (CNA) - Today Pope Francis announced the names of the 19 men from various parts of the globe who will be appointed cardinals in February.

In the surprise announcement at the end of his Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis noted that the new Cardinals come “from 12 countries from every part of the world,” and “represent the deep ecclesial relationship between the Church of Rome and the other Churches throughout the world.”

The geographical distribution entails eight cardinals from Europe; seven from the Americas; and two from both Africa and Asia. No cardinals from the United States were named.

Besides some expected names, such as Archbishops Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State; Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, the list includes several men from the far reaches of the globe.

Archbishop of Ouagadougou, Philippe Nakellentuba Ouedraogo, will join the College of Cardinals from Burkina Faso in west Africa, as will Bishop Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes, Haiti: both will be the only Cardinals from their countries.

Fr. Federico Lombardi of the Holy See’s Press Office noted that the Pope’s choice of these two men especially “shows concern for people struck by poverty.”

Three new Cardinals from Pope Francis’ own South America are on the list, including the current Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Aurelio Poli, who replaced the then- Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio when he was elected Pope last spring.

The Pontiff also named Cistercian Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who hosted Pope Francis for his first World Youth Day in July of 2013.  When Archbishop Tempesta’s name was read, Pope Francis looked up to acknowledge the cheers coming from St. Peter’s Square.  “There are a lot of Brazilians here, eh?” he said.

Three of the 19 men named are over the age of 80 and will be therefore ineligible to vote in the next papal election: Archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla, Archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, and Archbishop Kelvin Edward Felix.

Archbishop Capovilla served as the secretary of Pope John XXIII, who will be canonized in April.

The official appointments will be made on February 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter.  On Feb. 20-21, Pope Francis announced that he will hold a consistory with all the Cardinals in order to reflect on the theme of the family.

He then concluded by asking for prayers for the new Cardinals: “Let us pray for the new Cardinals, that clothed with the virtues and sentiments of the Lord Jesus, (the) Good Shepherd, they can more effectively help the Bishop of Rome in his service to the universal Church,” said Pope Francis.

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'Hand on the faith,' Pope instructs parents at baptism

Vatican City, Jan 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his homily at Sunday Mass, Pope Francis reminded parents who had brought their infants to be baptized of their duty to pass on the faith to their children.

“Today, carry this thought home with you. We must be transmitters of the faith. Think of this, think always of how to hand on the faith to (your) children,” he told the families who were gathered for Mass in the Sistine Chapel.

“These children are links in a chain,” he said of the 32 infants brought for baptism. “You parents have a baby son or daughter to be baptized, but in several years, it will be they that have a baby to baptize, or a grandchild and so, the chain of faith!”

This chain of faith began with Christ, whose baptism the Church celebrates today. Although “Jesus did not need to be baptized,” because he was without sin, “with his body, with his divinity, he blessed all waters,” explained the Pope.

“And then, before going up to heaven, Jesus told us to go out to all the world and baptize. And from that day until today, this is an uninterrupted chain: they were baptizing children, and then the children (baptized) their children, and their children and today this chain carries on.”

Parents, above all, have the task of raising children in the faith in which they were baptized, noted the Pope. The faith then becomes the greatest gift a child is given.

“Above all, I want to tell you this: you are the persons who hand on the faith, the transmitters; you have the duty to pass on the faith to these babies. It is the most beautiful inheritance that you can give them: the faith!” he exclaimed.

As the congregation stood surrounded by the beauty of Michelangelo's famous paintings, Pope Francis offered a practical reflection for the parents: “today the choir sings, but the more beautiful choir is that of the children, who make noise.”

“Some will cry, because they are not comfortable, or because they are hungry,” he continued.

“If they are hungry, mothers, give them something to eat - don’t worry, because they are the main people (here),” he assured them.

Following his homily, the Pope celebrated the rite of baptism for all 32 babies and continued the Mass.

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Pope Francis: Let yourselves be 'flooded by the love of God'

Vatican City, Jan 12, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis emphasized the need for Christians to allow God to work powerfully in their lives.

When Jesus was baptized, the heavens were opened, but this “is also possible for every one of us, if we let ourselves be flooded by the love of God that comes to us given by the Holy Spirit for the first time at baptism,” encouraged Pope Francis on Jan. 12 from the window of the Apostolic palace.

“If the heavens remain closed, our horizon in this earthly life is dark, without hope,” but when we celebrate Christmas, we are again offered “the certainty that the heavens are rent with the coming of Jesus,” he explained.

We contemplate the same hope in meditating on the Baptism of Jesus as the Church does today. Moreover, “every child that comes to be baptized is a miracle of faith and a celebration for the family of God.”

“The manifestation of the Son of God on the earth signals the beginning of a great time of mercy,” he stressed, repeating “a great time of mercy!” for emphasis.

“God gives us in Christ the guarantee of an indestructible love,” he assured the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Jesus “was without sin and did not have need of conversion” yet “received the baptism of repentance from John” in order to be in solidarity with mankind.

Christ “shared in our condition, our poverty” – this sharing is the “true way of love,” noted the Pope.

“Jesus didn’t disassociate himself from us, he considered us brothers and shared in our life.  And so he made us sons, together with Himself, of God the Father,” the Pontiff continued.

He then asked, “Do we not feel that our time might need some extra brotherly sharing and love? Do we not feel that we all might need some extra charity?”

“Not the kind that is content with extemporaneous help that doesn’t involve oneself, doesn’t put itself in play, but that charity that shares, that takes care of the discomfort and the suffering of a brother.”

Such a love “procures life, when it allows us to be flooded with the love of God!” he exclaimed.

“Let us ask the Holy Virgin to sustain us with her intercession in our duty to follow Christ on the way of faith and charity, the way marked by our Baptism,” he concluded.

After leading the Angelus prayer, the Pope took a moment to greet the many pilgrims who had arrived, “in particular, the families and faithful who came from various parishes of Italy and from other countries.”

He then made an unexpected announcement of the list of 19 Cardinals from around the world to be appointed in February before concluding with a wish for everyone to “have a good lunch.”

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