Buenos Aires, Argentina, Feb 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A “low profile” bishop, with few political contacts: this is how the Argentine press describes Archbishop Mario Poli of Buenos Aires, who will receive the red hat of a cardinal Feb. 22.
Pope Francis wasted no time in appointing Archbishop Poli as his successor in Buenos Aires. Fifteen days after his election as Bishop of Rome vacated his old see, Pope Francis provided for his former diocese by appointing one of its own sons.
Archbishop Poli was born in Buenos Aires in 1947, and entered seminary in 1969, after having received a degree in social work.
He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires in 1978, and served as a parish priest for some years. In 1992, he was appointed director of the San Jose Vocational Institute, a spirituality year in which seminarians of the archdiocese begin their formation with a year dedicated to spiritual formation.
Archbishop Poli was then consecrated as an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 2002, while the see’s ordinary was Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio.
Archbishop Poli assisted Archbishop Bergoglio for six years, until he was appointed Bishop of Santa Rosa. The city is the capital of La Pampa province, a rural area largely given to agriculture and ranching.
An Argentine source told CNA that in Santa Rosa, Archbishop Poli was considered a bishop given “100 percent to his pastoral mission, getting in touch with poor people and working with young people, while he has almost not had contacts with politicians.”
His homilies are reportedly plain, focused on the Gospel and without any political accent, but Archbishop Poli is known for having twice taken strong stances on issues.
Last August, one of his priests posted birthday wishes on Facebook for the late Jorge Rafael Videla, the country’s dictator and de facto president from 1976 to 1981.
Videla’s military dictatorship disappeared as many as 30,000 Argentines, and may have murdered as many as 15,000. Kidnappings, torture, and other violations of human rights were rampant.
Within a week of the priest’s post, Archbishop Poli called it an “unbearable scandal,” saying the priest caused the Church “serious damage.” He wrote a letter to read in each parish of the archdiocese stigmatizing the priest’s expressions.
In addition, when Argentine legislators were debating a same-sex marriage bill, he wrote them a letter clearly explaining the Church’s teaching and opposition to the bill.
During his years as a bishop, his major involvement with political power has been a 2009 incident, when he effected a return of an image of Our Lady of Lujan, patroness of Argentina, to a government office.
A government official, Guillermo Di Liscia, considered the image offensive to “the interests of other religions, and of atheists.” Archbishop Poli wrote to his parishes, maintaining that the incident was an example of “religious intolerance, and would certainly carry consequences for the everyday life of the people of La Pampa.”
Under the bishop’s pressure, the image was returned to its original location, and Archbishop Poli said Mass for the occasion.
Archbishop Poli’s installation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires took place April 20, 2013, and the following month he was appointed to be also the bishop of the ordinariate for Eastern Catholics in Argentina.
According to the Buenos Aires-based Valores Religiosos, he is known in the city for bicycling from his cathedral to visit various neighborhoods of the city.
The Argentine publication was told by a source that “Bergoglio designated as bishops those most close to his thought. We will not see more bishops with ‘princely’ or ‘stately’ styles.”
Another source indicated that Archbishop Poli “never took an interest in politics, nor does he participate in the ‘threat’, or meet with leaders early in the morning as did Bergoglio,” adding that he “fosters Catholic schools, and takes care that ‘the sheep are well.’”
Archbishop Poli is among 19 men who will be given the red hat of a cardinal at the Vatican later this month. He is the fifth Archbishop of Buenos Aires to be made a cardinal: the see has not come without a red hat since 1959.
Bangui, Central African Republic, Feb 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A Central African bishop has reported signs of genocide in the growing conflict there, urging an effective security response and warning against the “evil” desire to kill and destroy.
“If there is no one to hold back the hand of the devil here, he will achieve his goal. Many people will be hunted down and killed,” Archbishop Dieudonnè Nzapalainga of Bangui told Aid to the Church in Need Feb. 12.
He said he had visited a town called Bodango, about 125 miles from the capital of Bangui, where all of the Muslims – who are among those targeted in the conflict – have disappeared. Members of the Anti-Balaka militia told him the Muslims had been driven out, but the archbishop was skeptical, fearing instead that they had all been killed.
“That over 200 Muslims, along with all their children and old people could have walked 125 miles is impossible,” the archbishop said.
Violence broke out in the Central African Republic in December 2012. Seleka rebels, loosely organized groups that drew many Muslim fighters from other countries, ousted the president and installed their own leader in a March 2013 coup.
After international pressure and resistance from Anti-Balaka self-defense groups, that president stepped down in January 2014. Soon after, a national council elected as interim president Catherine Samba Panza, who has no ties to either group.
The Anti-Balaka militias now claim to be taking revenge for Muslim atrocities committed last year, though President Samba Panza has pledged to hunt them down.
Amnesty International has said militia attacks have caused a “Muslim exodus of historic proportions.” Tens of thousands have fled into Cameroon and Chad and many more are internally displaced. Their flight could add to the food crisis, as many shops and wholesalers were run by Muslims, the BBC reports.
Seleka rebels have also attacked the Christian population in the small town of Bohong, about 10 miles from the western town of Bouar.
“When I arrived there, part of one area of the town has been completely burned down. I also saw that people had been burnt alive. I saw human bones and human heads,” the archbishop said. “I had only ever seen that sort of thing in films about Rwanda before, but never here with us.
“I think that evil was there. Now the evil has touched us. It shows itself in the desire to kill, to destroy. This is the devil.”
There are presently 1.25 million people in need of food assistance.
While media sources have described the Anti-Balaka forces as a “Christian militia,” Archbishop Nzapalainga rejected this. He said that they are rather a “self-defense movement that has now left the politicians behind.”
Other bishops have rejected depictions of the fighting as divided solely along religious lines, noting that not all Anti-Balaka forces are Christians and not all Christians are Anti-Balaka. They have said the same applies to the Seleka forces and Muslims.
Amid the violence, there are also peacemakers. In the southwestern town of Boali, Father Xavier Fagba at St. Peter's Parish Church has sheltered about 650 Muslims since mid-January.
“Now is the time for men of good will to stand up and prove the strength and quality of their faith,” the priest told the BBC.
He said when he took in the Muslim refugees no one in the community understood him. “They attacked and threatened me.”
The church walls have bullet holes from opponents of the Muslims' presence in the church. The refugees fear they will be killed if they leave.
Attacks on Muslims in Boali, including machete attacks, have killed several people including 22 children. Crowds have also torn down the town's two mosques.
Father Fagba said he believes that some of the refugees in his church were involved in attacks on Christian families, though he does not mention this when he talks to them.
“When I talk to them it's a call for them to change their lives and their behavior,” he said, adding that the Muslims should be considered “as our brothers.”
Some townspeople are helping the refugees, but themselves come under attack from Anti-Balaka forces.
Soldiers from Chad have escorted Muslims from Boali back to their country. The troops are sympathetic with the Seleka forces and some have reportedly opened fire on several Boali civilians.
Archbishop Nzapalainga told Aid to the Church in Need that foreign missionaries are serving as a “protective bulwark” for the people and are staying of their own free will. If they leave, he said, the people will be “left standing in the streets.”
“The devil scatters, God gathers. When the people gather around the Church, then God is there,” he said.
He urged the Church to be “the heart that beats in the rhythm of love, without distinguishing as to religion or ethnic identity.”
The archbishop stressed the biblical virtue of comforting others. He said this is put into practice when he stands beside his “enraged” brother.
“I experience his suffering, his weeping,” he said. “My brother suffers with me, my sister suffers with me. This is the kind of sympathy that is shown by the other person. And I believe that God is there.”
The archbishop said that the restoration of security is “the priority of priorities.”
He said people are living in terror, fearing that their neighbors have weapons. There is danger of “anarchy, chaos, total disorder.”
The U.N. has assigned about 7,000 peacekeeping troops to the country. However, the bishop said establishing peace is “impossible” with a force of only several thousand.
Vatican City, Feb 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In a law passed in Belgium’s parliament yesterday, the country has become the first to legalize the euthanasia of minors, drawing widespread opposition from its citizens, and from Church leaders.
“The law says adolescents cannot make important decisions on economic or emotional issues, but suddenly they've become able to decide that someone should make them die,” Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard stressed.
Archbishop Leonard oversees the diocese of Brussels, and is head of the Catholic Church in Belgium, and made his comment during a prayer vigil held last week opposing the legislation, BBC News reports.
Belgium’s parliament voted on Feb. 13 in favor of passing a bill which allows euthanasia for terminally ill children without any age limit by an 86 to 44 vote with 12 abstentions, and will officially become the first country in the world to remove any age limit on the practice once the bill is signed by Belgian King Phillipe.
Under the new bill, euthanasia may be requested by terminally ill children who “are in great pain,” but the law requirements state that they must be conscious of their decision, the illness must be terminal and their pain must be unbearable with no treatment available to alleviate it.
However, in order for the euthanasia to be approved, the patient must have parental consent, and parents, doctors and psychiatrists would have to agree before a final decision is made.
BBC reports that protestors have been lobbying politicians against the legislation, and many consider the bill to be immoral, including many pediatricians who warned that a vulnerable child might be put at risk.
In an open letter signed by 160 Belgian pediatricians last week opposing the law, they questioned whether or not a child can be expected to make such a difficult decision, and claimed that there is no urgent need for the law, and that modern-day medicine is capable of alleviating pain.
Despite the fact that polls within the country show a broad support for the bill, the International New York Times stated that the lay Community of Sant’Egidio have voiced that expanding the legal right to euthanasia would be “opening the door to a new kind of barbarism.”
The community, reports the Times, expressed their grave concern that those who are sick, particularly the young, might choose to die out of the fear of burdening others.
The Netherlands was the first to legalize euthanasia in 2002, allowing for its use only in special cases for gravely ill patients who are 12 years or older, and remains one of the few European countries that allows for it, whereas it is largely banned in the United States, with only five states allowing for “assisted dying.”
However, the idea of euthanasia for children is vastly considered to be “morally repugnant” in many European countries, the Times states, and is a perspective largely driven by the recollection of the Nazis, who killed thousands of children they considered to be either mentally or physically impaired.
Vatican City, Feb 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During a special encounter with engaged couples, Pope Francis emphasized that to love someone forever is possible if we are humble, and that marriage should be a celebration filled with joy.
“We build a house together, not alone!” the pontiff observed in his Feb. 14 address, “You would not wish to build it on the shifting sands of emotions, but on the rock of true love, the love that comes from God.”
Over 20,000 couples flocked to St. Peter’s Square in order to participate in the Valentine’s Day event, which was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, and which reflected on the theme “The joy of 'Yes' forever.”
Following testimonies given by couples, readings and songs dedicated to love in its various forms, Pope Francis spoke to the couples on the fear of living together forever, the matrimonial way of life, and the idea of marriage as a celebration.
The Pope told them that one does not marry only when all problems are solved, but rather to face problems together.
“Today many people are afraid of making definitive decisions that affect them for all their lives,” he noted, “because it seems impossible and this mentality leads many who are preparing for marriage to say, 'We will stay together for as long as our love lasts.’”
“What do we mean by 'love'?” posed the Pope, asking if it is a “mere emotion, a psycho-physical state?” and stating that if so, “it cannot provide the foundation for building something solid.”
However, if a relationship is “a growing reality,” then we build it “in the same way that we build a house,” he said, “And we build a house together, not alone!”
“We must not allow ourselves to be conquered by a ‘throwaway culture,’” emphasized the pontiff, stating that “this fear of 'forever'” is only “cured by entrusting oneself day by day to the Lord Jesus in a life that becomes a daily spiritual path of common growth, step by step.”
Drawing attention to the challenge of staying together and loving each other forever, the Pope observed that “In the Our Father prayer we say ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’” and that “married couples may also learn to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily love,’ teach us to love each other, to care for each other.”
Reflecting on the “art” of living together, the pontiff emphasized that this is “a patient, beautiful and fascinating journey which can be summarized in three words: please, thank you and sorry.”
“’Please’ is a kind request to be able to enter into the life of someone else with respect and care,” he observed, highlighting that “true love does not impose itself with hardness and aggression.”
Stating that there is a great need of more “courtesy” in modern society, the Pope emphasized the importance of saying thank you, explaining that “gratitude” is also “an important sentiment.”
“Do we know how to say thank you? In your relationship, and in your future as married couples, it is important to keep alive your awareness that the other person is a gift from God,” observed the pontiff, “and we should always give thanks for gifts from God.”
Observing how we make many errors in our lives, the Pope noted that we make “many mistakes. We all do,” and “this is why we need to be able to use this simple word, ‘sorry.’”
“In general we are all ready to accuse others and to justify ourselves. It is an instinct that lies at the origins of many disasters,” he said, encouraging the couples “to recognize our mistakes and to apologize,” because “in this way, the Christian family grows.”
“We are all aware that the perfect family does not exist, nor does the perfect husband, nor the perfect wife. We exist, and we are sinners,” but Jesus gives us a secret, the Pope observed, “never let a day go by without asking forgiveness, or without restoring peace to your home.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis emphasized that “marriage should be a celebration, but a Christian rather than a worldly one.”
Recalling how Jesus turned water into wine during the wedding feast at Cana, the Pope explained that he saved the celebration, and that “what happened at Cana two thousand years ago, happens in reality at every wedding feast.”
“It is the presence of the Lord, who reveals Himself and the gift of His grace, which will render your marriage full and profoundly true.”
Encouraging the couples to focus on what is “truly important” during their ceremonies, he observed how “some people are more concerned with external signs, with the banquet, the dress,” emphasizing that their wedding ought “to be sober.”
Although external signs are important, the Pope explained, they only bear weight “if they are able to indicate the true reason for your joy: the Lord's blessing upon your love.”
“Ensure that, like the wine in Cana, the external signs of your wedding feast reveal the presence of the Lord and remind you, and all those present, of the origin of and reason for your joy.”
Vatican City, Feb 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In his daily homily Pope Francis addressed the identity of a Christian, saying that the faithful must “go out” and “walk” as disciples that are astute and who announce the Gospel with joy.
“You cannot think of a stationary Christian: a Christian that remains stationary is sick, in their Christian identity, has some illness in his identity. The Christian is a disciple to walk, to move,” the Pope affirmed in his Feb. 14 daily Mass.
Speaking to those gathered in the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse for, the pontiff reflected on the lives of brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who are brothers that became missionaries among the Slavic peoples and whose feast is celebrated today, as examples of true Christian identity.
Part of this identity, he observed, is to “go out,” and is a dynamic illustrated by Jeroboam in the first reading, taken from the First Book of Kings, in which he goes out to meet the prophet Ahijah.
Highlighting the importance of this act, the Pope stated that a Christian who does not go out, but remains where they are “has some illness in his identity,” because to truly be a disciple means “to walk,” and “to move.”
Calling to mind the words of Jesus in the Gospel when he tells the disciples to “Go out to all the world and proclaim the Gospel,” the pontiff emphasized the need to “Go; Walk,” adding that “a first attitude of the Christian identity is to walk, and to walk also if there are difficulties, to go beyond the difficulties.”
The Pope continued, emphasizing how Jesus extends this invitation to all, the “good” and the “bad,” and that because of this the Christian walks, and “if there are difficulties,” the disciple “goes further to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is near.”
Reflecting on another aspect of our identity as Christians, the pontiff highlighted that “the Christian must always remain lamb,” and that Jesus sends us out “like lambs among wolves.”
Describing how in his battle against the giant David was given large amour to wear, Pope Francis observed that the king could not move and that he “was not himself, he was not humble, was not the simple David,” and that he won with just his own sling.
Be “Like lambs,” encouraged the pontiff, “do not become wolves...because, sometimes, temptation makes us think: 'Well, this is difficult, these wolves are smart and I will be smarter than them, eh?'”
“Lambs,” he repeated, emphasizing “not stupid, but lambs…with Christian astuteness, but always a lamb,” adding that “if you are a lamb, He defends you.”
“But if you feel that you are as strong as a wolf, He will not defend you, he will leave you alone, and the wolves will eat you raw.”
Another aspect of our Christian identity is “joy,” the Pope explained, highlighting that “you cannot walk into a Christian without joy,” and “you cannot walk like a lamb without joy.”
Christians who have “a whiny temper” and “that always live like this, complaining, about everything, sad,” don’t do any favors for “the Lord or the Church,” the pontiff continued, adding that “this is not the style of the disciple.”
Drawing attention to a quote of Saint Augustine, the Pope emphasized how the bishop told Christians to “'Go, go forward, singing and walking!'” always “with joy,” because “it's the style of a Christian; to announce the Gospel with joy.”
On the contrary, “too much sadness, this great sadness, even bitterness leads us to live a so-called Christianity without Christ,” he explained, reflecting that “the Cross empties the Christians who are in front of the tomb crying, like Mary Magdalene, but without the joy of having found the Risen Lord.”
Bringing his homily to a close, the Pope again brought to mind how the lives of Cyril and Methodius reflect our Christian identity, observing that a Christian “never stands still,” but is “a man or a woman who always walks,” even “past the difficulties.”
May the Lord, expressed the pontiff, “through the intercession of these two brothers, patrons Saints of Europe, grant us the grace to live as Christians who walk like lambs and with joy.”
Washington D.C., Feb 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A survey indicating mixed views on Church teaching among self-identified Catholics shows the “difficult challenge” facing Christ’s followers, but also offers a reminder of the need for fidelity, one commenter says.
“If you have a hard time understanding or agreeing with the Church on an important moral question, keep your heart open and be a faithful daughter or son,” said Joshua Mercer, political director of CatholicVote.org.
“Reject the media calls to cast this as a power struggle between those in the pew and those at the pulpit,” he told CNA Feb. 13.
Mercer said that Catholics have been “wrestling with these important moral questions for centuries,” and the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides many specific explanations for Church teachings and beliefs.
“The Church spells it out in plain English and backs up the position with solid explanations.”
To Catholics who are confident that the Church is wrong, however, Mercer said “the Church’s core teachings will not change.”
Mercer’s comments come in response to poll results from the U.S. Spanish-language television network Univision. It surveyed 12,038 self-identified Catholics in 12 countries containing more than 60 percent of the world’s Catholics.
The survey asked respondents’ views of Pope Francis and polled whether respondents were in agreement with Church teaching on divorce and remarriage, married priests, the ordination of women as priests, abortion, contraception, civil “gay marriage,” and whether the Catholic Church should perform “gay marriages.”
The survey found that supermajorities of Catholics worldwide believe the Pope is doing an excellent or good job. Appreciation was highest in Italy, where 74 percent said he was doing excellent. A majority of Catholics in Poland, the United States, and Argentina also said he was doing an excellent job.
However, the poll suggests significant division among Catholics about Church teaching.
Uganda was the only country where a majority of respondents agreed with Church teaching on all survey questions. The next most consistently Catholic country was the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Mercer noted that the poll captures the opinions of non-churchgoing Catholics alongside those who attend Mass regularly. This could have led to misleading poll results, indicating more dissent from Church teaching than if only churchgoing Catholics had been polled.
“Many people will tell a pollster they are Catholic even if it's been years since they've sat in a pew. It's because Catholicism is deeply and profoundly a cultural (as well as religious) experience,” Mercer said.
“We have a faith that reaches into, and tries to sanctify, all areas of our life. So how do we reach them? We invite them back to Mass. Show them the beauty of the Church. Show them acts of charity by members of the Church,” he continued. “Pope Benedict XVI said that beauty and the lives of the saints were the only two true effective ways of doing apologetics.”
Mercer stressed that the Catholic faith is “integrated.” This means that the recognition of Jesus as the Son of God is a primary teaching, but also connected to the Church’s stand on other issues.
“It’s precisely because we love Jesus that we need to fight for the unborn,” he said as an example.
Worldwide, poll respondents were more likely to disagree with Church teaching on contraception than on any other issue.
In the U.S., 15 percent agreed with Church doctrine opposing the use of contraceptives, while 21 percent agreed that abortion should not be allowed at all. Thirty-two percent of respondents agreed that couples who are divorced and remarried should refrain from receiving communion.
Thirty-six percent of U.S. respondents supported Catholic teaching that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood. Forty percent agreed in opposing “gay marriage,” while 59 percent agreed that the Church should not perform “gay marriages.”
The U.S. showed the largest socioeconomic gap among responses. Among the lower class, about 25 percent more people held Catholic views on divorce and “gay marriage” compared to the upper and upper-middle classes. About 20 percent more lower class respondents than upper and upper-middle class respondents held Catholic views on women in the priesthood and marriage of priests.
However, Mercer said faithful Catholics in the U.S. can find inspiration from their co-religionists in other countries.
“We are seeing an explosion of the Church in Africa. Not only is the faith spreading like wildfire, but Catholics in these countries strongly support the Church's teachings on life and marriage,” he said.
In addition, faith remains “strong and vibrant” in Poland despite pressures to drop its “rich Catholic heritage.”
“In many ways American Catholics face a growing hostility from secular forces in cultural and also from our government. In that way we can claim solidarity with our Polish compatriots who face a similar secular attack,” he said.
Mercer added that faithful Catholics should “strive for balance.”
“That means we witness to the truth of the evils of our day but we also show mercy for those ensnared by the lies of our age. People ‘on the other side’ are not our enemy. And we have to resist the urge to act like they are,” he said. “Our task is to show people the love of Jesus. Too often lately we have shown people only the truth, but not the love.”
Washington D.C., Feb 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Today’s secular culture conflicts with authentic love and a reality-based view of the human person, said scholars at a recent panel in the nation’s capital.
“Sanctity is not a moralistic act,” said author and scholar David Schindler, but rather, “a way of seeing, acting and being.”
The author of “Ordering Love: Liberal Societies and the Memory of God,” explained in a Feb. 10 lecture that true sanctity is “seeing reality for what it most truly is,” and it is this concept of sanctity that Catholics must reclaim in society, rather than giving into the modern understanding of the self.
Schindler, who is the dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Washington, D.C., spoke at the institute alongside Peter Casarella and Patrick Deneen, both professors at Notre Dame University.
Love, Schindler said, is central to the order of society and the self. Love is both “a moral intention” and an act, revealing reality through what is true and beautiful.
Schindler pointed to children as an example, noting that “we see in the child a personalization of what is good and true and beautiful by virtue of its very given-ness” and “innocence.” Children also reveal the idea of existence and love as a gift, he said.
Love is “already implicated in truth,” Schindler continued, and is intimately linked with the intellect, as humans come to understand things through a relationship with them, and better love them through knowledge.
However, “the culture doesn’t see things in their wholeness, but in a fragmented way,” breaking love and understanding apart and abstracting both, he said. This fracturing of love and truth loses track of the complete essence of reality, so that “when you finally bring them back together, you’ll find that you’ve falsified both.”
This mistaken understanding, Schindler said, can be seen in recent U.N. documents criticizing the Church’s teachings about the family, the body and the self. The report “epitomized the logical endpoint of a liberal culture” because it “instrumentalizes” the familial relationship and dismisses the role of the family and love.
“Only the saint,” he suggested, “can abstract properly,” because only someone who can understand the relationship between truth and love has “some sense of how the world relates to God” and acts upon it.
Schindler argued that Christians should look to transform society by emulating Christ, entering “the culture by following the way God enters the culture” by focusing on creation, loving and being wholly present. He cautioned Christians against trying to gain power by the world’s standards and then trying to influence culture, but instead suggested that Christians live out the basic ideas of Christianity and sanctity.
He pointed out that Jesus did not convince the “elites” of his day. “I’m not saying we don’t enter into the culture,” he clarified, “just that we do so with realism and hope.”
Casarella, noted that Schindler’s ideas are not new, but have a long history, most notably promoted by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become Pope Benedict XVI.
“Man’s being resonates with some things and clashes with others,” Casarella said, pointing to Mary and the Apostle John as an example for love and “service to the Lord in the face of secularist abuses of action.”
Deneen agreed with Schindler that the modern world separates love from truth, but argued that Schindler only addressed part of secular liberalism’s shortcomings.
He argued that liberalism is defined not only by a realism that separates reality into parts, but also a utopianism that seeks a “complete redefinition of the self.”
The liberal project separating love and knowledge also seeks supposedly realistic answers to pressing questions aiming to redefine nature, Deneen said. This “conquest of nature must inevitably include human nature,” and eventually this “instrumentalism turns in on itself.”
While at its outset, he acknowledged, “the liberal project was positive,” offering concrete ways to assert individual autonomy and freedom, secular liberalism has developed to the point of actively seeking to “make us into those creatures it posits we are.”
Liberalism “gives us no choice” and forces us to be “autonomous” and unlinked from society and one another, he explained, warning that this is a false vision of reality and freedom.
Philadelphia, Pa., Feb 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia encouraged prayers for married couples and families on Valentine’s Day, also requesting prayers for the upcoming World Meeting of Families.
Recognizing that “Saint Valentine is the patron of happy marriages, engaged couples and young people,” the archbishop asked in a Feb. 14 statement that the faithful pray “for married couples as well as all those preparing to enter into the sacred bonds of marriage.”
“The married couple is the building block of the family – the cornerstone of society,” he observed. “Today is a special time to celebrate the authentic love that a husband and wife experience in the person of Jesus Christ and the greater fulfillment of that love in the creation of a family.”
In addition, Archbishop Chaput requested prayers for all those working “to prepare for the World Meeting of Families that will be held here in Philadelphia next year.”
“That event has the power to transform, in deeply positive ways, not just the Catholic Church but our entire community,” the archbishop said.
The eighth World Meeting of Families will be held Sept. 22-27, 2015, and is expected to draw tens of thousands of participants from around the world.
Begun in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, the gathering takes place every three years and seeks to support and strengthen families throughout the world.
The event was last hosted in Milan, Italy, in 2012. More than 1 million people gathered for Mass with the Holy Father, and 153 nations were represented.
The Philadelphia meeting will mark the first time that the event will be held in the United States.
Archbishop Chaput has previously stated that such events can be “moments of grace” for the entire area, able “to transform, in deeply positive ways, not just the spirit of Catholic life in our region, but the whole public community.”
“The more we encourage and support the integrity of families, the healthier society becomes,” he said, adding that families play a critical role in sharing the message of Christ with the world.
Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter will serve as honorary co-chairs of the 2015 gathering.
Governot Corbett – who is Catholic – noted at a press conference last year that Philadelphia is “the birthplace of religious freedom,” with “churches, synagogues, mosques and temples [that] are places of both personal faith and civic freedom.”
“But it is our families that grow up in these institutions that are the foundation of that freedom,” he emphasized, noting that faithful families have “played a profound role in building not only Philadelphia but the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Vatican City, Feb 14, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Earlier this week reports of a potential new president of the “Vatican bank” were leaked to Italian media, suggesting the possibility of a greater Italian influence in Vatican finances.
“Italia Oggi,” a Milan-based daily specializing in politics, economics, and law, wrote Feb. 11 that Carlo Salvatori could soon be chosen as the new president of the board of directors of the Institute for Religious Works. The Italian banker is currently director of SeaChange and chairman of Lazard Italy.
The Vatican bank board is composed of five bankers and experts, and is currently chaired by Ernst von Freyberg, who undertook the position near the end of Benedict XVI’s papacy.
A source familiar with Vatican finances could not confirm that Salvatori would be appointed, but did tell CNA Feb. 12 that “there is indeed an internal discussion about the opportunities offered by an increasing ‘internationalization’ of Vatican finances, but also about the possibility of returning again to a greater ‘Italian presence’ in finances.”
The debate mirrors the difficult relations between Italy and the Holy See experienced since the Vatican underwent evaluation of its financial transparency from the Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee.
With the evaluation, Holy See policy became more multilateral, and less based on privileged relations with states. That there had been privileged relations was shown by the fact that the first composition of the Authority for Financial Information, the Vatican financial watchdog, was imbalanced to Italy.
Many of the members came from Italian banks and from the Bank of Italy, and it was asked if the composition of the board was coherent with the universality of the Holy See, the employees of which are traditionally chosen at an international level. The imbalance to Italy was considered by many Vatican insiders a sign of weakness and a source of risks, rather than opportunity.
The Vatican’s anti-money laundering law was first written under the pressure of Italian authorities’ impounding of $31 million which had been transferred by the Vatican bank; the money was restored after the law’s promulgation.
Since then, the Holy See has improved its anti-money laundering law several times, most recently by an Aug. 8 motu proprio from Pope Francis.
Italy’s relations with the Vatican are marked by the Lateran Treaty, a 1929 agreement which established Vatican City as an entity independent of Italy. Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, said at a recent conference on the treaty’s 1984 revisal that it was a “new, happy opportunity to re-build a texture of values” in Italian society.
The revisal, he said, “turned a new leaf from a ‘fight’ between the Church and totalitarian and authoritarian states that led to the signing” of the 1929 treaty which ensured freedom and a space for the Church under Mussolini.
Archbishop Parolin seems uninterested in giving Italy a privileged relation with the Holy See; in a Feb. 8 interview with Avvenire, he indicated that neither the Secretariat of State nor the Italian bishops’ conference has an “exclusive relationship” with Italian politics.
“They must proceed with a synergy, respecting their respective competences, as is the case in other countries of the world, through the nunciature.”
Italy does not have a specific section in the Secretariat of State, and is treated on a par with other states.
This increasing internationalization has worried the champions of a privileged relationship between the Vatican and Italy: hence the rumored appointment of an Italian as president of the Vatican bank board of directors.
According to sources, the board of directors met Feb. 12, and it is believed that the pontifical commission dealing with the body will have given Pope Francis its conclusions Feb. 13.
The group of eight cardinals may handle the issue during its next meeting, being held Feb. 17-18.