Archive of July 4, 2014

Freedom demands vigilance, archbishop reminds Americans

Washington D.C., Jul 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - This Fourth of July, Americans should reflect on the nation’s foundational principles and values, while realizing that freedom comes at a high price, said the U.S. Archbishop for the Military Services.

“The Nation’s birthday beckons our rededication to what makes us a great country while reminding us we are indeed ‘one nation under God’,” reflected Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio.

“Independence Day is an occasion for picnics and parades, family fun and fireworks, but we must never forget that Freedom comes at a high price,” he said in a statement preceding July 4.

The archbishop reminded the nation that the “price” of continued freedom is the blood and sweat of the men and women serving in the U.S. military.

He praised “the selfless dedication and sacrifice of the many Americans serving our Nation in uniform, past and present.”

The U.S. has military personnel serving abroad in nearly 130 countries. The U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services – headed by Archbishop Broglio – serves more than 220 military installations in 29 countries, as well as 134 Veterans Affairs medical centers and other federal employees serving abroad.

Reflecting on the founding of the United States more than 200 years ago, Archbishop Broglio said that the decision to “cut ties with Great Britain and set out on a new course” was a bold choice that “continues to bear fruit in our times.”

“None of the founding Fathers knew where their decision would lead, but they did recognize the importance of working together to build a new kind of nation – a nation founded on principles and centered around the essence of what it means to be human, created in the image of Almighty God with inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The archbishop implored Americans to be “vigilant” in protecting our “way of life” against the “forces of evil.”

“Preserving our way of life demands vigilance, valor, respect for conscience and victory over the forces of evil that would otherwise vanquish the values we hold dear,” he said. “We must always recognize our debt to these brave men and women whose commitment and courage keep us free.”

July 4 also marks the conclusion of the third Fortnight for Freedom, hosted by the U.S. bishops to raise awareness and encourage prayer about threats to religious freedom both at home and abroad.

A concluding Mass for the fortnight will take place at noon at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, with a homily delivered by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Cardinals' council focused on Pontifical Councils for laity, family

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Friday, the final day of the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, the group set their sights on the Pontifical Councils for the laity and the family, with a special mention of the potential inclusion of laity in those councils' tasks.

According to Fr. Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, the council of cardinals on July 4 “resumed its reflections on the dicasteries of the curia. The Pontifical Councils for laity and family were studied in particular depth, especially in terms of the contributions and role that should be assumed by laypeople, married couples, and women.”

A possible merger of those two councils into a congregation for the laity is expected, but Fr. Lombardi stressed that “decisions were not made, though more detailed proposals were offered that will subsequently be inserted into the overall framework of the new configuration of the curia.”

He underscored that “there is still not a draft of a new (apostolic) constitution, since the cardinals are at the moment just taking into consideration the contributions generally given by individual cardinals charged with the task of studying specific matters.”

Fr. Lombardi recounted that an English-speaking cardinal had described the meetings as “free, frank, and friendly,” and that Pope Francis “is very naturally involved in the dialogue, and he also favors dialogue,” even while “we should consider that the council will make its suggestions, but Pope Francis will make the final decision.”

During the meetings, the cardinals also addressed the issues of how nunciatures work, and the procedures for the appointment of bishops.

In the afternoon, the council focused on the dicasteries that have so far been studied less thoroughly.

This round of meetings, held July 1-4, was the fifth meeting of the council of cardinals. The next three sessions will take place Sep. 15-17, Dec. 9-11, and Feb. 9-11, and Fr. Lombardi underscored that there will be further meetings following these.

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New wave of violence takes on human face, priest in Israel says

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Latin Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem has decried the new eruption of violence in Israel and Palestine following the murder of 4 teens, stating that it can only be ended by humanizing the other side.

“This cycle of violence is always hovering over us but this particular episode brings it home in a horrific way because suddenly it took on real humanity,” Fr. David Neuhaus, S.J., told CNA July 2 in reference to the recent kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli teenagers.

“We got to know the three boys, their courageous and noble mothers, their families ... it is often more anonymous… people dying whose stories we do not know, whose families we never see.”

Noting how right now “is a time of enormous sadness as the cycle of violence is supreme,” the priest explained that “the three boys were kidnapped and murdered in cold blood,” and lamented the fact that Israeli officials have used their death as an excuse to increase attacks.

Following the discovery of the teenagers’ bodies Monday, Israel launched 34 airstrikes over the Gaza Strip, which officials stated was a response to 18 rockets that had previously been fired into Israel from Gaza, and blasts from both sides have continued throughout the week.

“Immediately the Israeli authorities used the kidnapping to carry out hundreds of arrests and continue a war that has been going on for too long” he observed, stating that “with the discovery of the bodies, Israeli extremists began looking for opportunities to take revenge.”

Drawing attention to the kidnap and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, a 16-year-old from Palestine whose body was found Wednesday in West Jerusalem following the funeral of the three Israeli teens, Fr. Neuhaus explained that the killing appears to be a retaliation.

According to the BBC, Khdair’s funeral has already been postponed, causing tensions to increase following rallying and protests in Palestine. However police are slated transfer Khdair’s body to his family following Friday prayers, which end at roughly 12:30 local time.

Fr. Neuhaus explained that in the midst of the ongoing conflict both countries follow a discourse “based upon a vision of reality in which there are ‘two sides’ and a ‘wall’ between them.”

“It is a discourse that hides the humanity of one side and focuses on the humanity of another side,” he observed, stating that it “resembles Hollywood movies where the ‘good guys’ are really ‘good’ and the ‘bad guys’ are really evil!”

“Of course, ‘we’ are always the ‘good guys’ and they are always the ‘bad guys.’”

But before “we can even really embark on a true dialogue in order to find ways out of the cycle of violence” there is a need to develop “a new language,” the priest said.

“Each supposed side needs to embark on a bit of self-criticism and discover the real humanity of the supposed other side,” he noted, stating that the Church has the “great responsibility” to speak with a language that respects all: “Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims.”

Recalling Pope Francis’ recent visit to Jordan, Israel and Palestine, Fr. Neuhaus stated that he is an example of the Church’s mission to show “love and concern for all.”

“The biggest lie of all is that there are no alternatives to the cycle of violence. Pope Francis kept on pointing to the alternatives: realizing that we are brothers and sisters, children of one loving Father and that we are called to go out toward the other with generosity and creativity!”

A message that all need to hear right now is that “violence only leads to death,” the priest affirmed.

“Insistence on revenge means that we are already dead.”

The BBC reports that the Palestinian organization Hamas, which Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netinyahu has faulted for the murder of the Israeli teens, has agreed to a potential cease-fire if Israel stops their airstrikes. Israel has stated they will cease striking only when rocket blasts from Palestine stop.

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