Archive of January 13, 2014

God has a 'handmade' love for everyone, says Pope

Vatican City, Jan 13, 2014 (CNA) - Pope Francis’ Monday morning homily centered on the theme of God’s profound and unique love for each person.

“I like to think that the Lord might have the feelings of a couple who is expecting a child: he waits.  He always waits for us in this history, and then accompanies us during history. This is the eternal love of the Lord: eternal, but concrete!  It is also a ‘handmade’ love, because he makes history, he goes to prepare the way for each of us,” preached the Pope on Jan. 13 at the Santa Marta guesthouse chapel.

“It’s fitting for God, for the love of God, to prepare the way,” he explained, since God “does not make Christians by spontaneous generation.“ Rather, “he prepares our way, he prepares our life, in time.”

Furthermore, God does not wait to love us until we are perfect. “We think of the great David, a great sinner and a great saint,” suggested the Pontiff. “The Lord knows! When the Lord tells us, ‘with eternal love, I have loved you,’ he refers to this.”

Pope Francis also pointed out that the Apostles were far from perfect. Instead, the Lord prepared them over time to be his followers.

In the gospel passage where Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James, and John, it seems they were “definitively chosen,” noted the Pope.

“Yes, they were chosen! But at this moment they were not definitely faithful!” he exclaimed.

“After being chosen, they made mistakes, they made unchristian suggestions to the Lord; they denied the Lord! Peter, above all - the others more fearfully. They were frightened and they left.  They abandoned the Lord.” Yet, “the Lord prepared.”

He went on, “And then, after the resurrection, the Lord had to continue this journey of preparation until Pentecost. And after Pentecost also, some of these - Peter for example, erred, and Paul had to correct him. But the Lord prepared.”

Just as Christ patiently loved his disciples, God’s love for each person is steadfast. “This is the love of God - he loves us from always and without abandon!”

“And when things are not going well, he intervenes in history and sorts out the situation and goes forward with us,” assured the Pope.

God is not afraid of our sinfulness: “But we think of the genealogy of Jesus this historical list, there are sinners, both men and women. But why did the Lord do this? He involved himself, straightened the path, regulated things.”

“Through many generations the Lord has thought of us, of each one of us!” Pope Francis emphasized.

When “our rationalism says, ‘But how come the Lord, with all the people he has, thinks of me?  But he has prepared the way for me!’” it is “an act of faith” to ask “for this grace to understand the love of God” which is “concrete, eternal, and handmade.”

“The Lord prepares us through time, journeys with us, preparing others. And he is always with us! We ask the grace to understand with the heart this great love,” concluded Pope Francis.

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Argentine bishop offers prayers for lightning strike victims

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jan 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Antonio Marino of Mar de Plata in Argentina has offered prayers for those killed or injured by a recent lightning strike at a beach club in the town of Villa Gesell in the province of Buenos Aires.

The lightning strike occurred Jan. 9 during a thunderstorm, killing four people and injuring more than 20. Witnesses said the damage could have been worse had beachgoers not taken shelter from the heavy downpour.

Bishop Marino sent a message to the local pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Father Eduardo Torres, offering his prayers for those were killed or injured by the strike and for their families.

Osvaldo Garcia, the owner of the beach club, told, “We saw a fire ball and heard a huge noise.”

Several people were thrown 12-13 feet by the strike, he said, adding that one of the victims was burned to death on a four-wheeler.

A worker at the club named Mariano told local reporters that he tried to help save the wounded. “We carried them away in chairs, deck chairs, whatever we could find nearby.”

“Thank God many people had left, otherwise I don't know how many more would have been hurt,” he added.

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New cardinals highlight Global South, pastoral experience

Vatican City, Jan 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The 19 men chosen to be named cardinals in February stress Pope Francis' attention on the peripheries of the Church, and that appointment to a major diocese no longer automatically comes with a “red hat.”

The 19 will be elevated to cardinal at a consistory held Feb. 22; three will be over the age of 80, and thus ineligible to vote in the election of the next Pope.

Of the 16 voting cardinals, nine come from South America, Africa, and Asia, thus increasing the weight of the “Global South” in the college of cardinals.

There are only three cardinals from the “north of the world” who administer dioceses, while four officials of the Roman Curia are being appointed by virtue.

Archbishops Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State; Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; and Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, all receive the cardinalate by virtue of their office, according to “Pastor bonus,” the document governing the Curia.

Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, will also be appointed a cardinal. Upon his election as Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis had given his own red biretta to Archbishop Baldisseri.

Archbishop Baldisseri's name was read second in the list of new cardinals, a seemingly important signal.

The list customarily follows strict rules of precedence: curial cardinals are listed first, by order of importance. That Archbishop Baldisseri was named second, behind only the Secretary of State, may be a signal of Pope Francis' increasing focus on synodality.

In choosing his first round of cardinals, Pope Francis wanted to highlight the pastoral experience, it seems.

Archbishop Gerald Lacroix of Quebec was for ten years a missionary in Colombia as part of the Pius X Secular Institute; Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro is known for his tireless presence in parishes; Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul was a parish priest in his diocese for 28 years; and Archbishop Philippe Ouedraogo of Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, served as a priest for 23 years before being consecrated a bishop.

Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago de Chile, a Salesian, worked in many of the pastoral and educational structures linked to his congregation.

Pope Francis' appointments also give strong signals against careerism in the Church, and clericalism.

In the past, it was taken for granted that being bishop of certain dioceses brought with it a cardinal appointment. This practice lead to “ecclesiastical lobbies,” advocating that certain men be given particular dioceses of curial appointments.

Yet Pope Francis decided not to award some Vatican dicasteries, nor some important dioceses, with “red hats.”

In Italy, neither the Archbishop of Turin nor the Patriarch of Venice were named. Also excluded were the archbishops of Malines-Brussels, Tokyo, and Bangkok.

On the other hand, Pope Francis granted the Philippines a second cardinal of voting age, choosing Archbishop Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, one of the poorest regions of the country.

Three countries received their first cardinal: from Haiti, Bishop Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes, who is only 55; from Nicaragua, Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes Solorzano of Managua; and from Ivory Coast, Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan.

Among the non-voting cardinals, honored were Archbishop Loris Capovilla, Prelate Emeritus of Loreto, 98, who was secretary to Bl. John XXIII; Archbishop Emeritus Kelvin Felix of Castries, in the Antilles; and Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Sebastian Aguilar of Pamplona and Tudela.

Of the cardinals-to-be, five are from Latin America; two are from Asia; two are from Africa; one is North American, and six are European.

While the number of voting cardinals was set by Paul VI at 120, Pope Francis' appointments will have surpassed the limit by two; but by the end of the year, 20 cardinals will have reached their 80th birthday. Since the election of Pope Francis, nine have already passed 80. 

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Pope Francis to cardinals: new roles are not a 'promotion'

Vatican City, Jan 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a letter addressed to the 19 men who will be made cardinals during a February consistory, Pope Francis said that the role of a cardinal is not a “decoration,” but rather a “service” to the Church.

In his Jan. 13 letter to the cardinal-elects, the Pope extended his greetings to his brother bishops, guaranteeing them of his “closeness and prayer.”

“It is my hope,” he stated, “that joined with the Church of Rome and clothed in the virtues and sentiments of the Lord Jesus, you may help me with fraternal efficacy in my service to the Universal Church.”

Highlighting the unique role of Cardinals within the Church, Pope Francis stressed to the newly-appointed men that “the cardinalship does not imply promotion,” adding that “it is neither an honor nor a decoration.”

“It is simply a service that requires you to broaden your gaze and open your hearts.”

The pontiff noted that although this might appear to be “paradoxical,” the capacity “to look further and to love more universally with greater intensity may be acquired only by following the same path of the Lord.”

This path, he explained, is “the path of self-effacement and humility, taking on the role of a servant.”

“Therefore I ask you, please, to receive this designation with a simple and humble heart,” adding that “while you must do so with pleasure and joy, ensure that this sentiment is far from any expression of worldliness or from any form of celebration contrary to the evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.”

Pope Francis closed his letter assuring the new cardinals that he remains at their “disposal,” and asking that they “pray for me and to ask for prayers on my behalf.”

“May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin protect you,” he prayed.

The Holy Father announced the names of the new cardinal-elects after his weekly Angelus address on Jan. 12, and are appointments that – in a statement made the same day by Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi – show the Pope’s “concern for people struck by poverty.”

The new cardinals will be incorporated into the cardinalship on Feb. 22, following a Feb. 20-21 consistory on the topic of the family.

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At 98, previous secretary of John XXIII among new cardinals

Vatican City, Jan 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Loris Francesco Capovilla, among the 19 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis, is not only one of the longest-serving archbishops in the world but was John XXIII's secretary for the entirety of his pontificate.

Pope Francis made a surprise announcement during his Sunday Angelus on Jan. 12, giving the names of those who will be created cardinals next month. He emphasized that those chosen hail “from 12 countries from every part of the world” and “represent the deep ecclesial relationship between the Church of Rome” and the global other Churches.

Of the 19 men named, three are over the age of 80 – and will not be eligible to vote in the next conclave – including Archbishop Capovilla, who is the third longest-serving archbishop in the world and is currently the Titular Archbishop of Mesembria.

Archbishop Capovilla was born in Pontelongo in 1915, which is a province of Padua in the Italian region Veneto, and was ordained a priest by Cardinal Adeodato Giovanni Piazza on May 23, 1940 for the diocese of Venice.

Following his ordination, the archbishop performed various tasks in parishes around the diocese as well as for the curia, serving also as a catechist for middle schools and as a hospital and prison chaplain.

During World War II the young priest offered his aid to the Air Force, and spent much of his time helping to exclude as many airmen as possible from internment in Germany, efforts which, sixty years later, were lauded in Italian newspaper La Gazzetta di Parma under the headline “So Don Loris defied the Germans.”

In 1945 the Cardinal-elect was designated as preacher for the Sunday Radio in Venice, a position which he held until 1953, and in 1949 was appointed by Patriarch Carlo Agostini to be director of the weekly La Voce di San Marco publication.

Following these assignments, Archbishop Capovilla was appointed as secretary to Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who was elected as Bishop of Rome on Oct. 28, 1958, taking the name of Pope John XXIII.

After the conclave, the newly elected pontiff maintained Archbishop Capovilla as his personal secretary, who remained close to the Pope until death in 1963. John XXIII is most commonly remembered for his encyclical letter “Pacem en Terris,” and for his calling of the historic Second Vatican Council.

Four years after the pontiff died, Archbishop Capovilla was assigned by Pope Paul VI to the diocese of Mesembria, the see that was overseen by the late Pope from 1934-1953, when he was still known as Archbishop Roncalli.

Although the Cardinal-elect resigned from his duties in 1988, he has played an active role in many of the events related to the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council that was celebrated last year, and despite his age, continues to work with unlimited availability in the preparations for the April canonization of his longtime friend and spiritual father.

The canonization, during which Polish Pope John Paul II will also be declared a Saint, will take place on Divine Mercy Sunday of this year in Rome.

Upon announcing the names of those to be made cardinals, Pope Francis urged the pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square to pray for them, “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.”

Among the others slated to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal are eight bishops from Europe, seven from the Americas, and two from both Africa and Asia.

Others who will be created cardinals but are not eligible to vote due to age are Archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, and Archbishop Kelvin Edward Felix, who have both been chosen, in addition to Archbishop Capovilla, for their long-standing service to the Church.

The ceremony during which the Cardinal-elects will receive their new titles and positions will take place on Feb. 22 of this year, following a Feb. 20-21 consistory which will discuss the topic of the family.

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Federal abortion funding harms women, experts tell Congress

Washington D.C., Jan 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - A proposed law blocking federal funding of abortion would be a big step towards “women's health” and a true “women's agenda,” experts told members of Congress at a recent hearing.

“It's time once and for all to settle the matter of abortion funding across federal legislation and move on to a real women's agenda,” said Helen Alvare, law professor at George Mason University.

Alvare testified Jan. 9 at a congressional subcommittee hearing alongside Susan Woods, an associate professor of health policy at George Washington University, and Richard M. Doerflinger, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

The hearing addressed H.R. 7, known as the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. The proposed legislation would prohibit the use of federal funds for any support of abortion in the United States.

For nearly 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has been added to federal appropriations bills in order to prevent federal funds from being used for most abortions. However, pro-life politicians argue that it has been implemented inconsistently and note that it does allowing funding of abortion in limited cases.

Most recently, controversy has arisen over fungible federal funding of organizations that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood, as well as health care plans purchased under the Affordable Care Act that cover abortion.

Planned Parenthood's 2012-2013 fiscal report has drawn criticism from the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, which issued an analysis charging that the organization received $540.6 million in taxpayer funding, reporting $58.2 million in excess revenue, and more than $1.3 billion in net assets.

In 2012, Planned Parenthood performed 327,166 abortions, bringing the total number of abortions performed by the organization to nearly 1 million since 2002.

In addition, the Susan B. Anthony List said, abortions composed 93.8 percent of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services during the 2012-2013 fiscal year, while prenatal care and adoption comprised only 5.6 percent of these services – a 32 percent drop from the 2011-2011 fiscal year.

Doerflinger also argued that several sections of the Affordable Care Act bypass the Hyde Amendment in appropriating their own funds for plans covering abortions.

“Americans are finding it difficult to find a plan without abortion coverage or even to get clear answers as to which plans those are,” he said, adding that many families “may be forced by the government to subsidize other people’s abortions as a condition for obtaining the health care their families need.”

Passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, he underscored, “would prevent problems and confusions on abortion funding in future legislation,” allowing bills to be “debated in terms of their ability to promote the goal of universal health care, instead of being mired in debates” surrounding abortion.

Doerflinger also addressed concerns that the bill would challenge “private coverage for abortion.” Based purely on fiscal calculation, “insurance companies have an economic incentive to include abortion coverage, and they do it,” he observed. “Abortion is cheaper than a live baby.”

Alvare charged that, given current research and legal decisions, “abortion is not part of any women's health agenda” and should not be covered as health care.

She pointed to instances in which prominent abortion advocates have acknowledged abortion to be a “gruesome” procedure that ends a human life.

In addition, she observed, European studies on hundreds of thousands of women are finding links between abortion and various health issues, challenging the appropriateness of classifying abortion as a “women's health” procedure.

Furthermore, Alvare said, polls indicate that women are “more pro-life than men,” and “the poor are more pro-life than the wealthy.”

This means that “the well-off support abortion funding for the poor more than the poor support abortion funding for themselves,” she explained, pointing out that “refusing to fund something is not doing away with something” and prohibiting federal funding of abortion is not dismantling the procedure in the country.

When negative health risks are considered alongside the poor's opposition to abortion funding, it becomes apparent that banning federal funding of abortion would “serve women” and allow for a greater focus on the issues that matter most to women, Alvare said.

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Cardinal stresses accountability amid past clergy reports

Chicago, Ill., Jan 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Francis George of Chicago has sent a letter to the faithful of his archdiocese ahead of the release of documents about past clergy sexual misconduct, reaffirming that no known sex abusers are in active ministry.

“So far as can be known from all our records, there is no priest in public ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago who has been found to have sexually abused a child, no matter when the abuse took place.”

The archdiocese will release a report on sexual misconduct cases by its clergy on Jan. 15. It will detail 30 offenders and over 40 abuse victims WGN TV reports. None of the incidents occurred after 1996 and 95 percent occurred before 1998, archdiocese attorney John O'Malley told the Chicago Tribune.

Cardinal George said “almost all” of the incidents took place “decades ago.” He said most of the priests were either dead or out of ministry before he arrived in Chicago. The incidents were reported to civil authorities and legal claims have been mediated.

He said the release of the documents may be “helpful” for some but “painful for many.”

“Painful though publicly reviewing the past can be, it is part of the accountability and transparency to which the Archdiocese is committed,” he said. “Accountability to the civil authorities constitutionally responsible for the protection of children is part of the life of the Church here.”

He said the names of priests known to have abused a minor are published on the archdiocese’s website.

Cardinal George’s letter criticized the vice of “clericalism,” saying this attitude appears “when a person or group decides it is not accountable for its actions.”

This attitude is “spiritually deadly” when a priest “decides he is not accountable to God and breaks his promise of chaste celibacy as well as the commandments of the Lord.”

The cardinal said that discipline among the clergy weakened during the 1970s and 1980s “when sex abuse was most prevalent.”

He said the archdiocese began to become more accountable and transparent, though “sometimes hesitantly,” in the late 1980s. During the 1990s the archdiocese allowed some perpetrators of abuse to serve in ministry in “a restricted form” that barred them from regular contact with minors. This policy changed in 2002 when the U.S. bishops decided on a “zero tolerance policy.”

“I removed from all public ministry those who had been allowed some pastoral work under the rules in effect under my predecessor,” said Cardinal George, who has headed the Chicago archdiocese since 1997.

In his letter, he noted that every archdiocese employee and volunteer must undergo background checks and child protection training. He also asked Catholics to pray for sex abuse victims, perpetrators and the archdiocese.

“Once again, I apologize to all those who have harmed by these crimes and this scandal,” he said.

The files concerning the 30 priests will first be released to attorney Jeff Anderson, who has represented many plaintiffs in sex abuse cases against the Catholic Church. Anderson controversially attempted to sue the Holy See for sex abuse cases in the U.S., though his lawsuit was dismissed in federal court.

The attorney has also provided sex abuse documents to media outlets such as the New York Times, prompting concern that he has unduly shaped the media narrative about Catholic clergy sex abuse.

Anderson's office will cull the documents and post them online, the Chicago Tribune reports. Their release is a condition of a legal settlement reached in 2005. The documents could be released by the end of January.

The files do not address the case of Daniel McCormack, a former priest who in 2007 pled guilty to sexually abusing five children. The archdiocese has settled several an abuse lawsuit from his victims at a cost of millions of dollars. McCormack was removed from the priesthood in 2007.

Cardinal George’s letter addressed the McCormack controversy, saying that neither in Chicago “nor in any previous posting as a bishop or a religious superior have I assigned to pastoral ministry or transferred for ministry a priest whom I knew to have sexually abused a child.”

McCormack had a reputation as “a dedicated priest an and effective pastor,” the cardinal said. He was on the faculty of a seminary and served on the priests’ placement board.

Cardinal George said the archdiocese’s investigation of the priest began after his first arrest in 2005 but was hampered because various archdiocesan offices did not “consistently share” what they knew with each other or with Cardinal George. The civil authorities also did not share information with the archdiocese.

The priest was again arrested in January 2006, after which a number of incidents came to light.

Cardinal George said the response to McCormack was “not always adequate” but “a mistake is not a cover up.”

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