|Openness to beauty leads soul to God, says Catholic thinker
Philadelphia, Pa., July 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The senses are the “road to God”, who speaks to us through beauty, said Bill Donaghy, who holds a master's in systematic theology, at the recent Theology of the Body Congress held in Philadelphia.
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VATICAN CITY, July 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- According an Italian Catholic new organization, Pope Francis made a phone call to Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan over the weekend to reassure him of his continued prayers for Iraqi Christians.
Following the July 19 burning down of the Episcopal palace of Syrian-Catholics in Mosul, Italian Catholic news organization SIR reports that Pope Francis made a phone call to the Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan of Antioch the afternoon of July 20 to express his condolences and closeness in a time of persecution.
The agency reports that during their 9 minute conversation, the Pope reassured the patriarch “that he follows closely and with concern the drama of forced and threatened Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul.”
SIR referred to other reports coming from the Syrian-Catholic Patriarchate, which stated that Patriarch Younan “thanked the Pope” and asked him to “intensify” his efforts to engage world leaders by bringing them face-to-face with the fact that the province of Nineveh is undergoing “a mass cleaning based on religion.”
At the end of the call Pope Francis gave his apostolic blessing to the patriarch and to “all the Christian people of the East,” assuring that he “will always be present in his prayers for peace and security.”
Members of ISIS, a militant group that operates in Iraq and Syria with the aim of establishing a caliphate in northern Syria and Iraq, overtook the country’s second-largest city, Mosul and the city of Tikrit, 95 miles north of Baghdad, June 10.
The group had seized portions of Ramadi and Falluja earlier; Tal Afar was seized by ISIS June 16; and the group briefly held parts of Baquba, 37 miles outside of Baghdad, the following day.
ISIS currently controls much of the Sunni areas of northern and western Iraq, as well as cities along the Euphrates River in northwest Syria.
Thursday the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate declared to the remaining Christian community of Mosul that they either needed openly convert to Islam, pay an unspecified jizya tax in exchange for their safety while observing certain conditions, or leave their homes with only their clothes, nothing more.
Following Thursday’s declaration, the houses of Mosul Christians were marked with an “N,” signifying “Nazarenes.” As a result, the few remaining Christians have left, marking the first time in history the city has been without Christians.
Fr. Nawar, a priest from Nineveh currently living in Rome, spoke with CNA July 22, stating that the country is overrun by “war, violence, conflict. It is not the same Iraq as before.”
Hailing from the Iraqi city of Karakosh on the plains of Nineveh, a city currently under Kurdish protection and where many citizens fleeing Mosul are taking refuge, Fr. Nawar lamented the exodus of Christians from the city, stating that “for four days there have been no Christians in Mosul.”
“All of them left because there is fear,” he said. “All of the Christians are leaving. Families left for Nineveh by foot. There is no car, no money. Many people right now are afraid, afraid of this future.”
“Today life, Christian life in Iraq, is very hard,” the Iraqi priest continued, explaining how when many times when families have attempted to leave the city they were stopped and asked “where are you going?”
When they responded “I’m leaving because I’m afraid in this city,” militant forces tell them to stop and get out of the car. Then “whoever has money, gold, documents…they take all of it,” Fr. Nawar observed, explaining that for those who do not leave, “I think they die.”
Noting how the future of the country is “not certain” he explained that it’s hard to say what the future will bring “because today thousands of Christian families are leaving for Nineveh. Today there is no Christianity in Mosul.”
“There has been war every day, every day the war has developed, there is no peace, there is no dialogue, there is no communication. All of this is a fact right now in Iraq.”
Despite the current discord and seemingly bleak outlook of the country, Fr. Nawar, who is in daily contact with his bishop and other priests in Iraq, explained that there is still hope “because we believe in Christianity” and “we believe in hope.”
“We are with every person. Sick, in pain. But even today there is fear,” the priest observed. “Every day there is the need to confront this fear. This is the question.”
“Even today many Christians from other cities, other regions also have fear…in Karakosh, also in Baghdad, there is fear. They don’t know, they don’t know what to do in the future.”
VATICAN CITY, July 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The Vatican has released Pope Francis’ schedule for the first of his two day-trips to the Italian city of Caserta, where he will later meet an evangelical pastor and friend from his time in Buenos Aires.
Pope Francis will travel by helicopter to the province of Caserta in the Campania region of Italy the afternoon of July 26, and will arrive to the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officers) School of the Air Force, in the Royal Palace of Caserta at 3:45 p.m.
After his arrival, the Roman Pontiff will hold a meeting with the diocese’s priests and seminarians at 4 p.m., and will celebrate Mass at the airport at 6 p.m.
Following the Mass, he will return to the Vatican by helicopter that evening so that he can recite the Angelus prayer with faithful in St. Peter’s Square Sunday, as he does every week.
On Monday, July 28, the Bishop of Rome will return to Caserta to pay a private visit to his longtime friend, Evangelical pastor Giovanni Traettino, and his community.
Announced by the Vatican July 10, the Pope’s Caserta visit was originally scheduled as a one-day event for the purpose of his private encounter with pastor Giovanni Traettino, however upon receiving an invitation from the diocese’s bishop, Giovanni D'Avise, the pontiff decided to add a day in order to meet with locals.
In the initial July 10 announcement of the visit, the Vatican revealed that the idea of making the trip to pastor Traettino’s church of the Reconciliation in Caserta originally sprang from an encounter Pope Francis had with a group of evangelical pastors in the Vatican last month, during which the pontiff expressed his desire to visit the pastor’s church.
The visit with pastor Traettino “will be a strictly private, simple and quick” encounter, the statement read.
Caserta lies in southern Italy and is a prominent agricultural, commercial and industrial commune. It is roughly a two-and-a-half hour drive from Vatican City.
Please see below for the Pope’s full schedule:
Saturday, July 26, 2014
3:00 p.m. Depart by helicopter from the Vatican heliport
3:45 p.m. Land in the heliport of the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officers) School of the Air Force, in the Royal Palace of Caserta
4:00 p.m. Encounter with priests of the diocese in the Officers Club of the Air Force in the Royal Palace of Caserta
6:00 p.m. Holy Mass in the square in front of the Palace of Caserta
7:30 p.m. Depart by helicopter from the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officers) School of the Air Force, in the Royal Palace of Caserta
8:15 p.m. Arrive to the Vatican heliport
PHILADELPHIA, PA., July 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The senses are the “road to God”, who speaks to us through beauty, said Bill Donaghy, who holds a master's in systematic theology, at the recent Theology of the Body Congress held in Philadelphia.
God “is trying to break into our minds and hearts through beauty,” said Donaghy who, using the image of a leaf open to sunlight, said, “we need to be as receptive to God’s beauty as this leaf.”
Donaghy was addressing an audience on the role of beauty in the new evangelization at a conference about the more than 100 catecheses delivered by St. John Paul II on “Theology of the Body” early in his pontificate.
Part of John Paul II's thought is his sacramental vision of creation, through which we can see God, Donaghy explained. The senses “are a road to God,” he said, imploring the audience, “don’t shrink from the gift of the senses.”
Quoting Fr. Robert Barron, Donaghy called beauty the “arrowhead of the new evangelization” because, although it is not an end in itself, it catches the heart and points it towards the true and the good, adding that it is “the point with which the evangelist pierces the minds and hearts of those he evangelizes.”
When asked what Catholics should do to bring beauty into everyday life, Donaghy called for “'lectio divina' in the visual realm.”
“It means that you get good books. That your coffee table books are rich sacred art. That you give yourself opportunities to wander in the woods, that you read the book of creation more deliberately and you spend time before the 2,000 years of history of sacred art.”
“I think that our homes, our schools, our offices, should be places of beauty, too. There should be beautiful things all around us.”
All good works of art can lead us to God, Donaghy explained. “Create a treasure chest of sacred art, of photographs, of poems, of movie clips and songs,” he told the audience. “God is speaking to us through all of it.”
However, he warned that beauty can be abused. We must “reverence” it and not try to grasp it and bottle it for our own selfish desires.
“Don’t try to bottle beauty. Don’t try to capture it. If you do, it stagnates,” he warned. He contrasted Mary and Eve, noting how Mary was open and receptive to God’s grace, but Eve tried to grasp God’s nature for her own selfish desires.
As Mary was, so must we be, he urged.
“Beauty can be a terrible thing. God and the devil are fighting, and the battlefield is the human heart,” he admitted.
But if we are open and receptive to God, we can see beauty as we were meant to see it, he added.
“We listen, we’re attuned to the transcendent, to God, and beauty leads us to God. Keep your head and your heart open to God, and beauty will lead you to God.”
PHILADELPHIA, PA., July 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia announced Sunday that St. John Paul II and St. Gianna Beretta Molla will be patron saints of the 2015 World Meeting of Families, being held in his cathedral city.
“Saint John Paul II and Saint Gianna have been chosen as the two worthy Patron Saints to guide all in preparation and participation of this international event as they fully embody the history, mission and theme of the World Meeting of Families 2015,” Archbishop Chaput stated July 20 during Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
“Saints John Paul II and Gianna had a deep and abiding commitment to strengthening the family and sustaining it with love. This historic event will give thousands from around the globe the opportunity to share in the same commitment of our Patron Saints.”
During the Mass, Archbishop Chaput also unveiled and blessed a relic of St. John Paul II's blood for the veneration of the faithful.
The 2015 World Meeting of Families will be held Sept. 22-27 under the theme, “Love is our mission: the family fully alive.” Tens of thousands from across the world are anticipated to attend the event.
The World Meeting of Families began in 1994 by the Pontifical Council for the Family under St. John Paul II. Its mission is to strengthen families across the globe, encouraging them to live their faith with joy and sincerity.
St. John Paul II has a special link to Philadelphia, as he was the first Pope to visit the city, in 1979. The late pope was declared “pope of the family” during his canonization.
St. Gianna, mother of four, died while giving birth to her last child. Beatified in 1994, St. John Paul II canonized her in 2004. She is strongly associated with the mission of the family, and has been declared the patron of mothers, physicians, and unborn children.
WASHINGTON D.C., July 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Leading U.S. bishops voiced strong criticism of an “unprecedented and extreme” new executive order, saying that it adds to discrimination problems rather than finding real solutions to them.
“In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination,” warned Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo.
“With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent,” they said in a July 21 statement.
“As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”
Archbishop Lori is the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Malone chairs the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.
The bishops responded to President Barack Obama signing a July 21 executive order prohibiting what was described as discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The president signed the order after efforts to pass a similar bill – the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – in Congress had repeatedly failed.
Despite petitions from a wide variety of religious figures, the executive order did not include any religious exemption.
Concerns had been voiced by vague terms included in the proposed legislation, which did not define the phrases “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” As a result, religious groups are worried that they may be disqualified from federal contracts unless they affirm same-sex partnerships as marriages against the teachings of their faith and pay for employees’ transgender “transitions.”
The U.S. bishops are among those who have opposed the executive order, particularly due to its lack of a religious exemption. They have emphasized the important role of religious freedom in allowing faith communities to contribute to the good of society.
In their July 21 statement, Archbishop Lori and Bishop Malone emphasized that “the Church strongly opposes…unjust discrimination against those who experience a homosexual inclination.”
However, they continued, the Church distinguishes between attraction and behavior. Catholic teaching opposes “sexual conduct outside of marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman.”
The bishops cautioned that the “executive order, as it regards federal government contractors, ignores the inclination/conduct distinction in the undefined term ‘sexual orientation.’” This could result in exclusion from federal contracts for those employers whose policies include “moral objections to extramarital sexual conduct.”
Furthermore, the federally unprecedented “gender identity” clause is based upon a false idea that “gender” is merely a social or psychological construct totally separated from notions of biological sex, they said.
In practice, this could result in problems of privacy and association, they added. “For example, a biological male employee may be allowed to use the women’s restroom or locker room provided by the employer because the male employee identifies as a female.”
Archbishop Lori and Bishop Malone pointed out that most states which have passed their own “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” statutes have included protections for religious employers, as did the U.S. Senate in its version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
“Indeed, all prior versions of ENDA had at least some religious liberty protections,” they said. “But the executive order is an anomaly in this regard, containing no religious liberty protections.”
“In this way, the order, which is fundamentally flawed in itself, also needlessly prefers conflict and exclusion over coexistence and cooperation,” they lamented.
LINCOLN, NEB., July 21 (CNA) .- In an upcoming issue of The Linacre Quarterly, the official journal of the Catholic Medical Association, an article entitled, “The Breast Cancer Epidemic: 10 Facts,” will explore the scientific evidence that connects artificial contraception to breast cancer.
Father Christopher Kubat, executive director of Catholic Social Services of southern Nebraska and a medical physician, is one of the co-authors. He was asked to contribute a small portion of the article by two of the main authors, A. Patrick Schneider II, M.D., M.P.H., and Christine Zainer, M.D.
Father Kubat became acquainted with Dr. Zainer when he was still practicing medicine in Milwaukee, before he entered the seminary. Drs. Schneider and Zainer also received contributions from Nancy K. Mullen, M.D. and Amberly K. Windisch, M.D.
“It was a collaborative effort that took considerable time,” Father Kubat said. “It’s very lengthy, and there are tons of references.”
With one in eight U.S. woman diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, the article is addressing a crucial topic. Multiple medical studies have shown that women who use oral contraception experience an increased risk for developing breast cancer.
“The epidemiological data in the article is, for the most part, unknown to the general public,” Father Kubat said. “That evidence has largely been suppressed and ignored. This article is an attempt to overcome this and bring it to light.”
He added, “If one looks hard enough, they can find evidence in the medical literature between using chemical contraceptive drugs and having an abortion with breast cancer.”
Father Kubat said that even in the recent news about Hobby Lobby’s appeal to the Supreme Court to refrain from paying for four specific contraception options that cause abortion, there is a great deal of misunderstanding.
“The narrative suggests that some contraceptive drugs are not abortifacients and others are,” he said. “Make no mistake; all contraceptive drugs have as one of their mechanisms of action the abortive dimension – all of them.”
This article in The Linacre Quarterly also carefully provides the worldwide evidence for this link between an induced abortion and breast cancer.
“The recent increase in breast cancer began more than 40 years ago and was abrupt,” he pointed out. “This is no accident.”
Father Kubat said the article also will make it clear that “many of the cases of breast cancer in the world are preventable.”
It frustrates Father Kubat that in society, physicians remain ignorant of the facts and contraception has become the “sacred cow that must not be sacrificed.” He laments the heavy price that is being paid by the women who use it.
“This is the real war against women,” he maintained.
Father Kubat said he hopes that people will read the article and learn the truth. In the meantime, he is available to talk to parishes, women’s groups and anywhere else he is invited to discuss the medical evidence regarding contraception and female health. He can be reached at the Catholic Social Services office, (402) 474-1600.
Continuously published since 1934, The Linacre Quarterly is the oldest journal in existence dedicated to medical ethics. The Linacre Quarterly provides a forum in which faith and reason can be brought to bear on analyzing and resolving ethical issues in health care, with a particular focus on issues in clinical practice and research.
This article was originally published in the Lincoln, Neb., diocesan paper, the Southern Nebraska Register. Reprinted here with permission.
LONDON, ENGLAND, July 21 (CNA) .- Tony Palmer, a Protestant Christian leader and a close friend of Pope Francis, passed away in the U.K. on Sunday due to injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.
The Order of the Ark Community, an internet-based Christian group overseen by Palmer, announced his July 20 death on its website.
Palmer was born in the U.K. and grew up in South Africa. He was a member of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, which views itself as “standing with in the Celtic and Anglican traditions” of Christianity.
He knew the Pope from his time in Argentina, when Bergoglio was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Palmer recounted his friendship with Pope Francis at a February gathering of Pentecostal leaders organized by the Texas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries.
Palmer said he considered the Pope to be one of his three “spiritual fathers.” The two studied together and met often.
Palmer and Pope Francis had a meeting in mid-January during which they discussed Christian unity. Pope Francis suggested he record a video message on Palmer’s phone, and the message was then presented at the Pentecostal gathering.
In the message, the Pope described Palmer as “my brother,” saying the two have been “friends for years.”
“We have a lot of cultural riches and religious riches. And we have diverse traditions,” the Pope told the Pentecostal gathering. “But we have to encounter one another as brothers.”
He said that Christians had been separated by “sins” and “misunderstandings throughout history,” voicing his yearnings that the separation will end in communion.
“Let’s give each other a spiritual embrace and let God complete the work that he has begun,” Pope Francis said.
Palmer had urged Protestant Evangelical leaders to sign the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed by representatives of the Church and of the Lutheran World Federation. He thought the document “brought an end to the Protest” of the Protestant Reformation.
ERBIL, IRAQ, July 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- On the eve of an ultimatum issued by Islamists to Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul, the Chaldean bishop of Erbil, in nearby Kurdistan, urged prayers for the nation's remaining followers of Christ.
“We have hope that things will get better,” Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of the Chaldean Archeparchy of Erbil said in an interview with CNA on July 16.
“But … from the circumstances, which we are following, it looks like it’s going to take some time.”
A militant Sunni organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has been steadily attacking cities and communities in north and northwestern Iraq since June. The attacks have begun dividing Iraq along religious and ethnic lines.
On Friday, July 18, ISIS issued an ultimatum to the Christians of the city of Mosul, which it captured more than a month ago: convert to Islam, pay the jizya, or be killed.
The cross a top the city's Syriac Orthodox cathedral was removed.
“They control the city and I think they made it very clear that there is no place for non-Muslims in the city,” Archbishop Warda said.
Thousands of Christians have fled Mosul, seeking refuge in Christian villages in the surrounding Nineveh Plains and in Kurdistan.
The charity Aid to the Church in Need sent a grant of more than $135,000 to provide food and shelter for the displaced in the region. Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul told the charity in a recent interview that schools, church halls and abandoned houses have opened up to receive displaced persons from Mosul.
Recent U.N. estimates place the number of internally displaced Iraqis at 1.2 million, nearly half of whom have been driven from homes in the western province of Anbar. Many of those internally displaced are seeking refuge in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, which is known for its peace and stability.
Archbishop Warda said he has noticed an influx of refugees in Erbil over the past month. He said most refugees are renting out rooms or apartments from locals.
“(It's) crowded, yes, and expensive, which is also another issue” the archbishop explained. “But, that's the situation.”
He lamented that many Iraqis have been living in a state of crisis for many years.
“We hope that things will get better (and) will improve for the lives of those people,” he said.
“But from what we are observing, it's not promising.”
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