Sunday, February 14, 2010

Beatitudes provide 'new horizon of justice,' teaches Pope at Angelus


My home Internet connection was inadvertantly disabled on the afternoon of February 11. I'll be writing posts via the library's computer as much as I can until my own computer is up and running again. Until then, God's blessings and thanks so much for your patience.



Vatican City, Feb 14, 2010 / 11:21 am (CNA).- The Holy Father followed a visit to the Caritas homeless shelter in Rome on Sunday morning with the traditional midday Angelus at the Vatican. He spoke of Jesus' presentation of the Beatitudes and the importance of implementing their lessons and seeking justice in society.

The Beatitudes, announced in the Gospel of Luke, are based on the existence of “a divine justice that picks those who have been wrongly humiliated back up and humbles those who exalt themselves," said the Pope before the Angelus.

"The first will be last and the last will be first," quoted the Holy Father, adding that "this justice and this beatitude will be realized in the 'Kingdom of Heaven'... that will reach its fulfilment at the end of time but that is already present in history."

"Where the poor are consoled and admitted to the banquet of life, there, already, is manifested the justice of God," underscored the Pope. "This is the task that the disciples of the Lord are called to carry out also in today's society."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ordinary Time: February 11th; Optional Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes

Daily Readings for:
February 11, 2010
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: God of mercy, we celebrate the feast of Mary, the sinless mother of God. May her prayers help us to rise above our human weakness. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Catholic Culture: Liturgical Year
Old Calendar: Apparition of Our Lady at Lourde

Today marks the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1858 to fourteen-year-old Marie Bernade (St. Bernadette) Soubirous. Between February 11 and July 16, 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared eighteen times, and showed herself to St. Bernadette in the hollow of the rock at Lourdes. On March 25 she said to the little shepherdess who was only fourteen years of age: "I am the Immaculate Conception." Since then Lourdes has become a place of pilgrimage and many cures and conversions have taken place. The message of Lourdes is a call to personal conversion, prayer, and charity.

Our Lady of Lourdes

The many miracles which have been performed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin at Lourdes prompted the Church to institute a special commemorative feast, the "Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary." The Office gives the historical background. Four years after the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (1854), the Blessed Virgin appeared a number of times to a very poor and holy girl named Bernadette. The actual spot was in a grotto on the bank of the Gave River near Lourdes.

The Immaculate Conception had a youthful appearance and was clothed in a pure white gown and mantle, with an azure blue girdle. A golden rose adorned each of her bare feet. On her first apparition, February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin bade the girl make the sign of the Cross piously and say the rosary with her. Bernadette saw her take the rosary that was hanging from her arms into her hands. This was repeated in subsequent apparitions.

With childlike simplicity Bernadette once sprinkled holy water on the vision, fearing that it was a deception of the evil spirit; but the Blessed Virgin smiled pleasantly, and her face became even more lovely. The third time Mary appeared she invited the girl to come to the grotto daily for two weeks. Now she frequently spoke to Bernadette. On one occasion she ordered her to tell the ecclesiastical authorities to build a church on the spot and to organize processions. Bernadette also was told to drink and wash at the spring still hidden under the sand.

Finally on the feast of the Annunciation, the beautiful Lady announced her name, "I am the Immaculate Conception."

See also from Rome Reports, "The 67 miracles of Lourdes":

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Pope's visit - worth every penny

From Times Online
February 8, 2010

Secularists will want to portray Catholics as closed-minded oddballs obsessing about sex, but the truth is rather different

Christopher Lamb

“Why should British taxpayers pick up the bill for the Pope’s visit?” an indignant radio presenter asked me live on air last week.

After the media storm whipped up over Pope Benedict XVI’s criticism of the Government’s equality legislation, there appears to be a growing hostility to his visit to Britain later this year.

However, in answer to the earlier question I think there are some compelling reasons why people in Britain should look forward to this historic event.

Firstly, this is a visit from a head of state whom Britain benefits from having good relations with. Quietly, in recent years, Britain and the Vatican have worked together to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which aim to eradicate extreme poverty, combat aids and protect the environment. Recently, Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, writing in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, explained that, “the Catholic Church… has been a crucial partner to the international community in helping to achieve the MDGs.”

People can easily forget that the Catholic faith has around a billion followers and it has embassies all over the world. Therefore the papal visit, only the second ever made by a pontiff to this county, is a boost to Britain’s foreign policy. And just for the record, while the taxpayer will be paying for a large part of the visit, the Catholic Church in this country is donating a sizeable chunk.

Second, the Pope’s visit is not only for Catholics. He’s the most prominent Christian leader in the world and won’t just be addressing his own followers – as if they were part of a sect – when he speaks.

His desire is to address, in the words of the seminal Second Vatican Council text, Gaudium et Spes, “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age.”

One area where he has something important to say is on the economy. The Pope’s most recent encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, was a subtle critique of unfettered capitalism. In the light of the British economy’s travails his message that support should be given to “economic initiatives which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic…of profit as an end in itself,” seems like an apt one.

Pope John Paul brought dignity to all who suffer, supreme knight says

By Sarah Delaney
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope John Paul II's humility and willingness to let the whole world watch his declining health gave dignity and meaning to suffering, said Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.

"John Paul suffered boldly before millions," Anderson said at a Vatican conference on health care Feb. 9. "He was willing to have the humility to do this before the world.

"Through this, John Paul showed exactly what human dignity is all about," he said.

Anderson, leader of the worldwide Catholic fraternal organization, was one of the keynote speakers at the meeting sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers. The Feb. 9-11 gathering, titled "The Church in the Service of Love for the Suffering," marked the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul establishing the council.

Anderson said Pope John Paul had preached the Gospel and evangelized "with every gift God had given him," including his acting and singing talents, his athletic abilities and his writing. "And as life went on, we saw him communicate the Gospel using what he also called 'a gift,' that is we saw him use his own suffering," Anderson said.

The late pope, who died April 2, 2005, was able to show that Christ is united with those who are suffering, because he himself suffered on the cross, Anderson said.

Pope: contemplating the cross one understands the greatness of human dignity

» 02/10/2010 12:57

One understands man’s value by contemplating how God accepted to suffer for him. A reflection that comes from the thought of Saint Anthony of Padua, the figure Benedict XVI dedicated his general audience to. In a times of crisis, "the economy needs ethics to function efficiently, not any ethics but an ethics that is people friendly”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The greatness of human dignity and value of the human being is fully visible in the "mirror of the Cross", in seeing how God accepted to suffer for man. Taking his cue from the figure of Saint Anthony of Padua Benedict XVI dedicated his audience today to the importance of the cross for our culture, our humanism, born of the Christian faith.

A saint who was part of the first generation of Friars Minor and who "laid the foundations of Franciscan theology", "contributed significantly to the development of Franciscan spirituality" and who in a period of economic growth, recommended that the poor not be forgotten. "A very important and timely teaching - the Pope said. Recalling the words of Caritas in Veritate, Benedict XVI said that "when the economic crisis and severe economic imbalances impoverish many people the economy needs ethics to function efficiently, not any ethics but an ethics that is people friendly".

To eight thousand people present at the Vatican for the general audience the pope recalled the saint, "one of the most popular in the whole Catholic Church, revered not only in Padua, but around the world", was born in Lisbon in 1195 to a noble family. Baptized as Fernando, as a young man he entered the canons who followed the monastic rule of St. Augustine. His interest in studying the Bible and the Church Fathers helped him acquire "a theological science which he began to incorporate into his teaching and preaching."

A fundamental episode that was to change his life took place in 1220 in Coimbra, where the relics of the first five Franciscan missionaries to Morocco, who were martyred there, were brought. In the young Ferdinand the desire to imitate them was born. He asked to leave the canons and to enter the Franciscans. He left for Morocco. He fell ill, he went to Assisi, where in 1221, he participated in the famous "Chapter of Mats" and where he "also met with St. Francis. Later, he lived for a time in total obscurity in a convent near Forli in northern Italy, where the Lord called him to another mission. Invited by completely random circumstances, to preach at the ordination of a priest, he was equipped with such knowledge and eloquence, that his superiors assigned him to preaching".

See also:

From Zenit, "On St. Anthony of Padua: One of the Most Popular Saints in the Whole Catholic Church"

From CNA, "Pope extols St. Anthony of Padua's insights on prayer"

From Catholic World News, "St. Anthony knew true wealth comes through faith, Pope tells audience"

From Catholic News Service, "Christian faith without love cannot live, pope says"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Pope: the cross enriches the meaning of life
February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Plot to Kidnap Pope Pius XII
by Ronald J. Rychlak

A Special Mission: Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII
Dan Kurzman, Perseus Books, 285 pages, $26

In July 1943, Italian partisans toppled Fascist leader Benito Mussolini and threatened the German-Italian alliance. Hitler, on learning of Mussolini's ouster, concluded that "Jew-loving" Pope Pius XII was involved. The Führer wasted no time in sending his troops into northern Italy and occupying an allied nation, including its capital, Rome.

Israel Zolli, the chief Rabbi of Rome (later a convert to Catholicism) wrote about the terror felt by his community as the Nazis took control of the city. Zolli personally snuck past German patrols to enter neutral Vatican City and request a loan to pay a ransom so that the Nazis would not deport his people. The pope agreed to provide as much gold as was needed for as long as was necessary. The Jews gave their gold to the Nazis, but it did not prevent the deportations. Roman Jews went into hiding or they were deported.

As the persecution of the Jews intensified, Pius was widely recognized as a "lonely voice" out of the silence enveloping the continent. Victims thanked him, rescuers cited him as their inspiration, and the Nazis despised him. In retrospect, however, many modern critics blame Pius for being too quiet during the occupation.

Dan Kurzman's A Special Mission: Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII focuses on an aspect of this story that has never before received a book-length treatment. It centers on General Karl Wolff, who in 1943 was named German chief of police and SS commander in Italy.

According to sworn testimony that Wolff gave in 1972, Hitler summoned him shortly after the troops moved into Rome. Hitler said:

Now, Wolff, I have a special mission for you, with significance for the whole world. . . . I want you and your troops . . . to occupy as soon as possible the Vatican and Vatican City, secure the archives and the art treasures, which have a unique value, and transfer the pope, together with the Curia, for their protection, so that they cannot fall into the hands of the Allies and exert a political influence.

Hitler wanted to "destroy the Vatican's power, capture the pope, and say that we are protecting him."

The kidnapping never took place, but Wolff drew up the plan. It called for German soldiers disguised in Italian uniforms to invade the Vatican, kill all members of the curia, and take the pope prisoner. Other soldiers would then storm the Vatican to "rescue" the pontiff. They would kill the disguised troops, and if the pope tried to escape he would also be shot. Hitler felt it could be explained because tragic things happen during wars. Besides, the world would consider the Italians culpable.

This kidnapping plot has been known for a long time, but skeptics have been reluctant to take General Wolff at his word. Kurzman, however, not only interviewed Wolff; he also reviewed relevant documents and interviewed dozens of witnesses.

One of the most interesting revelations in the book is the number of German officials that tried to prevent Hitler from invading the Vatican. Ernst von Weizsäcker, the German ambassador to the Vatican, regularly cautioned Church officials not to provoke Berlin. Albrecht von Kessel, Weizsäcker's closest aide, explained, "All we could do . . . was to warn the Vatican, the church, and the pope himself against rash utterances and actions." The German ambassador to Italy, Rudolf Rahn, was also in on the plan. They told the pope that Hitler would not only attack the Vatican but would seize the hundreds of thousands of Jews from Church buildings in which they were hiding throughout Europe. Righteous Catholics would also be persecuted. After Kurzman's book, it's hard to deny that Pius loathed Hitler, that Hitler loathed the pope, or that Hitler wanted to invade the Vatican.

See also from the Daily Record, "Local nun backs sainthood for Pius."

Irish abuse victims to ask Vatican for 1 billion euros

Catholic World News
February 09, 2010

When the Irish hierarchy meets with Pope Benedict on February 15 and 16, Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, will deliver a letter from representatives for abuse victims asking for one billion euros (approximately $1.37 billion) in compensation. Irish religious orders “paid just €128m of the total compensation bill of €1.2bn” following the Ryan report, notes the Irish Independent.

The victims’ representatives also requested that Pope Benedict meet with abuse victims during his September apostolic journey.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Victims ask Pope for €1bn (Irish Independent)

Open letter to the Pope (Irish Times)

Abuse survivors meet bishops (IOL)

Irish Bishops Meet Representatives of Support Groups for Victims of Abuse (Vatican Radio)

Irish religious order offers €128 million to abuse victims (CWN, 12/4/09)

Former Saints star says Super Bowl victory revealed a ‘team with destiny’

Former Saints wide receiver Danny Abramowitz

New Orleans, La., Feb 9, 2010 / 07:10 am (CNA).- Danny Abramowicz, Catholic speaker and former New Orleans Saints player, has said the Saints’ Super Bowl victory on Sunday showed they were a “team with destiny.” The family quality of Sunday’s game made it more enjoyable and showed the benefit Christian values can bring to sports, he thought.

Abramowicz, a star wide receiver for the Saints from 1967 to 1973 and an offensive coordinator for the team in the late 1990s, discussed the American football championship game in a Monday interview with CNA.

Though the saints “should have lost” the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings and yesterday faced a 10-0 deficit just “being dominated” by the Indianapolis Colts, they came back under the leadership of Drew Brees.

“They were a team with destiny,” he remarked.

In Abramowicz’s view, the decisions of Saints coach Sean Payton to make a fourth down push for the end zone and to open the third quarter with an on-side kick “took guts” and told his players “we’re out to win here.”

“I’m just so proud of the team, the coaches the players,” the former Saint said. “But I’m even more elated for the fans. They’ve waited all these years, they’ve put up with a lot of stuff.

“It’s been a long time waiting, but the city is just going crazy.”

Asked what defeat means for the Colts and their fans, Abramowicz noted that the Colts have won the Super Bowl one time already. However, it is still “tough to lose,” especially after a strong start.

“They’ll be fine. With a quarterback like Peyton [Manning], they’ll be back,” he said.

CNA asked Abramowicz his view about the relationship between sports and Catholic men’s outreach.

“We need more leaders out there in the sports arena, Christian values, guys like Drew Brees, guys like Peyton Manning,” he commented.

The latest Super Bowl had “no controversy” and had “solid men of good character.” There were not “selfish” players or commercials with poor representations of the virtues, Abramowicz thought.

“You got to enjoy the football game, you could watch the game with your son and have no problems,” he added.

“We need to take the same desire for sports and use that in our Christian outlook in life too.”

He encouraged men to start thinking about what their spiritual life means to them and then described to CNA the goals of his EWTN television show “Crossing the Goal.”

“It uses a sports format to get across issues like the virtues, like prayer, like how a man is supposed to be,” he explained.

The show examines who a “virtuous, godly man” is, whether a man is the “spiritual head of the family” and whether he “treats people right.”

See also:

From EWTN, in audio, the series with Abramowicz and the Crossing the Goal Team, "Crossing the Goal."

From Catholic Online, these excellent articles by Sonja Corbitt re: the steady pressure from secular forces endeavoring to strip men of their God-given masculinity, but our godly response to that pressure--to celebrate and promote true God-centered masculinity endued with the strong, sacrificial love of Jesus, "Opinion: Super Bowl Ads and ‘Who Wears the Pants?’," "In Support of Men: The Genius of Women" and "Married Love for Life: 'With My Body I Thee Wed'"

From Sonja Corbitt, her blog, "Pursuing the Summit *A flaming Catholic Scripture teacher talks" and web site, "Sonja Corbitt: pursuing the summit"

Monday, February 08, 2010

Doctor Says Many Are Cured in Lourdes

Invites Physicians to Attend Congress for Their Own Healing

LOURDES, France, FEB. 8, 2010 ( The former head of the Lourdes Medical Bureau is affirming that all people can receive a cure at Our Lady's shrine if they pray and hope for it with perseverance.

Doctor Patrick Theillier, who retired from leadership of the bureau last year, stated this in an interview with France Catholique.

The cure, he explained, "might not be as spectacular as to be considered a miracle."

However, the physician added, it can affect "in a profound and lasting way the person who experiences it, in all his being, body, soul and spirit."

Doctor Theillier affirmed that "these cures are truly innumerable."

The bureau is a medical organization run by doctors that operates within the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, which, among other things, is responsible for the medical investigation of cures associated with the shrine.

The doctor noted that there are, of course, miraculous cures as well in Lourdes, and 67 have been officially recognized as such.

He affirmed that these miracles are sometimes "necessary," such as at the beginning of the Church. "For faith to increase, it must be supported by miracles," Doctor Theillier said.

Moral sufferings

Yet today, he continued, perhaps more than a century ago, we have a need "to be relieved from moral sufferings and the wounds of life, of a psychological-spiritual order, which goes beyond medicine."

Joan's Rome: The Family, A Beneficial Resource for the Cohesion, Development of Society

by Joan Lewis
Monday, February 08, 2010

Pope Benedict’s weekend was fairly quiet. Saturday he welcomed Alfonso Roberto Matta Fahsen, Guatemala’s new ambassador to the Holy See who presented his Letters of Credence. He also received the president and staff of ACEA (Rome’s municipal energy and environment firm), which has just celebrated the centenary of its foundation.

Sunday the Pope recited the noon Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. Before the Marian prayer he reflected on the theme of the “divine call” experienced by Isaiah, Peter and Paul who, feeling unworthy to serve the Lord and His Church, nonetheless recognize the grace He has given them to be” intrepid apostles and proclaimers of salvation.” He said, “the humility that Isaiah, Peter and Paul bear witness to, invites those who have received the gift of a divine calling not to focus on their own limits, but to keep their gaze fixed on the Lord and on his surprising mercy, to convert the heart and continue, with joy, to ‘leave everything’ for him.”

After the Angelus, Benedict XVI reflected on Italy’s celebration of the Day for Life, whose theme was “The Power of Life: A Challenge in Poverty.” “In the current economic difficulty,” he said, “those mechanisms that cause poverty and create major social inequality, wound and offend life, striking above all the weakest and most defenseless, become more harmful.” The Holy Father said, “such a situation calls for the promotion of an integral human development to overcome poverty and need, and above all reminds us that man’s destiny is not well-being but God himself, and that human existence must be defended and favored in all of its stages.”

Today the Pope gave a very important talk to the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family. However, before I bring you a summary of that talk prepared by VIS, I’d like to ask my readers who are involved in pro-life movements for some input.

I have been asked to address a gathering of U.S. collegiate pro-life movements who are having their annual meeting this year at the University of Notre Dame the weekend after Easter – significantly enough, Divine Mercy weekend. I would be interested to learn about your experiences: 1. Why did you become active in the pro-life movement instead of being a bystander? 2. What are your greatest challenges (family members not in agreement with you, etc)? 3. How have you been most successful in changing “pro-choicers” into “pro-lifers? Many thanks in advance!


Monday morning, Pope Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, including council president Cardinal Ennio Antonelli. He began his remarks by recalling the late Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the council for eighteen years. He underscored how the council’s activities are taking place between the Sixth World Meeting of Families, held in Mexico in 2009, and the Seventh World Meeting of Families, to be held in Milan in 2012.

The Holy Father noted how the Pontifical Council undertakes various activities “to raise awareness of the fundamental importance of the family for the life of the Church and society.” Among these, he mentioned the project known as “The Family, Subject of Evangelization,” that aims “to organize a worldwide review of various experiences in the field of family pastoral care, to serve as inspiration and encouragement for new initiatives.”

He also referred to a project entitled “The Family, A Resource for Society” which, he said, “seeks to call public attention to the benefits the family brings to society, to its cohesion and its development. Another important commitment the dicastery has undertaken,” he went on, “is the compilation of a ‘vademecum’ of preparation for marriage” inspired by the ideas of John Paul II, who outlined how such preparation “includes three main stages: remote, proximate and immediate.”

Vademecum, from the Latin “go with me,” is an authoritative guidebook or handbook.

Church will never stop condemning abuse, states Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Feb 8, 2010 / 11:01 am (CNA).- The Holy Father met with members of the Pontifical Council for the Family on Monday to mark the start of their 19th Plenary Assembly. In his address, he stressed the importance of providing for the rights of children, including an intact family with a mother and father.

To begin the Plenary Assembly, which follows the theme of "The Rights of Infancy" this year, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the role of the Church in the protection of children, saying that "through the centuries, by the example of Christ, (it) has promoted the protection of the dignity and rights of minors and, in many ways, has taken care of them."

"Unfortunately," he lamented, "in different cases, some of its members, acting in contrast with this commitment, have violated these rights: a behavior that the Church doesn't and will never stop deploring and condemning."

One upcoming example of this commitment will be when the Pope meets with the bishops of Ireland next week to address the sexual and physical abuse recently brought to light by the Ryan Report. The Pope had previously his declared "outrage" and "anguish" upon learning the details of the transgressions and has since accepted the resignation of one of the four bishops who was included in the report for having ignored abuse.

Speaking to the members of the Pontifical Council for the Family on Monday, the Holy Father pointed to the lesson to be learned from Jesus, "who considered children a model to imitate to enter the kingdom of God." The Pope also highlighted Christ's "tenderness and teaching" that call us to nurture “profound respect and care" for children.

"The strong words of Jesus against whomever scandalizes one of these little ones oblige everyone not to lower the level of this respect and love," the Holy Father emphasized.

The Pope added that the greatest help you can offer a child is a family "founded on matrimony between a man and a woman" because "they want to be loved by a mother and a father that love one other."

He stressed the need of children to grow up with both parents, "because the maternal and paternal figures are complementary in the education of children and the construction of their personalities and identities."

"It's important then,” he noted, “that everything possible is done to allow them to grow up in a united and stable family," urging married couples to never forget the deep sacramental roots of matrimony and to nurture them with prayer, listening to the Word of God, constant dialogue and forgiveness.

See also:

From Zenit, "Benedict XVI's Address to Family Council: 'Raise Awareness of the Fundamental Value of the Family'"

From Catholic News Service: News Briefs, Feb-8-2010, "Church committed to children, defends the right to a family, pope says"

From Asia News, "Pope: a guidebook for engaged couples preparing for marriage"

From, "Church must keep up guard versus pedophilia: Pope"

From AP via Yahoo! News, "Pope Benedict XVI condemns child abuse by priests"

From Bloomberg, "Pope Says Some Priests ‘Violated’ Rights of Children (Update2)"

And From
YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Pope: Children have the right to grow up in a united family
February 8, 2010

Leading Anglican prelate dismisses Pope’s establishment of ordinariates

Catholic World News
February 08, 2010

A leading Anglican prelate has dismissed Pope Benedict’s decision to create ordinariates in which Anglican communities that seek full communion with the Holy See would be permitted to retain elements of the Anglican liturgy.

“If people genuinely realize that they want to be Roman Catholic, they should convert properly, and go through catechesis and be made proper Catholics,” said Ugandan-born Archbishop John Sentamu of York. “As far as I am concerned, if I was really, genuinely wanting to convert, I wouldn’t go into an ordinariate. I would actually go into catechesis and become a truly converted Roman Catholic and be accepted.”

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Archbishop of York dismisses Pope's call for conversions to Roman Catholicism (The Telegraph)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Life Scores Super Bowl Victory; Beautiful Evangelizers

Zenit News Agency (

In today's Super Bowl the winners won’t be limited to the Indianapolis Colts or the New Orleans Saints. A victory will go to life.

Created and paid for by Focus on the Family, the commercial features Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of the Florida Gators, and his mother, Pam Tebow, discussing her difficult choice for life.

ROME ( - Every year, millions across the United States of America fervently follow the athletic clash of titans called the Super Bowl. In today's Super Bowl, however, the winners won’t be limited to either the Indianapolis Colts or the New Orleans Saints. A special victory will go to life, thanks to a singular advertisement that will air during the most watched sporting event of the year.

Created and paid for by Focus on the Family, the commercial features Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of the Florida Gators, and his mother, Pam Tebow, discussing her difficult choice for life.

While missionaries in the Philippines, Pam Tebow and her husband were advised to terminate her pregnancy after she contracted amoebic dysentery. The cure, said the doctors, would cause serious damage to her unborn child and as a result could possibly cost Pam Tebow her own life. The Tebows refused and 23 years later, the world famous athlete will have a chance to thank his mother for choosing life in front of 100 million spectators.

Like all great victories however, this one has not come easy. Last year the Catholic Vote organization filmed a pro-life video telling the story of Barack Obama and his single mother’s choice for life. Despite having raised the necessary $3 million and produced a highly professional spot, both NBC and CNN refused to air the ad, claiming a policy of not airing advocacy ads.

This year, CBS agreed to air the Tim Tebow ad despite massive pressure. A coordinated campaign organized by the National Organization of Women and NARAL, the National pro-abortion organization, is lobbying CBS to drop the ad. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, had some choice comments on the spot (which she hasn't seen): "CBS has cleared the way to subject nearly 100 million people to Focus on the Family's extreme agenda by agreeing to air its new pro-life ad during the Super Bowl"; adding, "If that isn't bad enough, its views on women are just plain insulting and dangerous."

The good news is that Keenan described the ad as "pro life," forgetting in her rant her Orwellian newspeak term, "anti-choice."

The better news is that even the New York Times, not known for pro-life sympathies, published an editorial last week defending the advertisement.

See also:

Colts Players See Talents as 'Gift from God'

Catholic History of New Orleans Saints

Super Bowl Chaplains Help Teams Prepare

Pope: Priests, men, poor and weak, transformed into fearless preachers of salvation

» 02/07/2010 13:19

In the Year for Priests we must pray for priests and for those who are called to the vocation of total consecration. He recalls the Day for Life in Italy and for the "Week of life and family" in Rome. On 11 February, the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, the pope will celebrate Mass with the sick in the Basilica of St. Peter.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Drawing from the Sunday liturgy (the fifth of the year), which presents Isaiah’s call to mission, Paul and the first disciples of Jesus, in his reflection before the Angelus, Benedict XVI urged priests "not to focus on their limitations, but to keep their gaze fixed on the Lord and His wonderful mercy, to convert our hearts and continue to joyfully 'leave everything' for Him." "He - he continued – does not look at what is important for man: 'man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart' (1 Sam 16:7), and makes men, poor and weak, but who have faith in him, intrepid apostles and heralds of salvation".

"In these three experiences [of Isaiah, Paul and Peter] - he continued - we see how the genuine encounter with God leads man to recognize his own inadequacy and poverty, his limits and his own sin. But, despite this weakness, the Lord, full of mercy and forgiveness, transforms the life of man and calls him to follow Him. " "In this Year for Priests - he concluded - we pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers for His harvest, so those who hear the Lord's invitation to follow him, after the necessary discernment, will respond with generosity, not trusting in their strength, but opening themselves to the action of His grace. In particular, I urge all priests to revive their generous willingness to respond to the call of the Lord every day with the same humility and faith of Isaiah, Peter and Paul. Entrust to the Blessed Virgin all vocations, especially those to religious life and priesthood. May Mary arouse in everyone the desire to give their "yes" to the Lord with joy and total dedication".

After the Marian prayer, before greetings in different languages, Benedict XVI recalled that today in Italy we celebrate the Day for Life. "I willingly - said the pontiff – join the Italian Bishops and their message on the theme: 'The force of life, a challenge in poverty'. During the current period of economic difficulty, those mechanisms that lead to poverty and create great social inequalities become even more dramatic, hurting and offending life, affecting especially the weakest and most defenceless. This situation, therefore, committs us to promoting integral human development to overcome poverty and need, and above all remember that the man’s goal is not wellbeing, but God, and that human life must be defended and promoted in every stage. No one is master of his own life, but we are all called to preserve and respect it, from the moment of conception until its natural end".

The pope then highlighted that the diocese of Rome, in addition to the Day for Life, is celebrating a "Week for life and family." "I hope - he said – for the success of this initiative and encourage the activities of clinics, associations and movements, as well as university teachers engaged in support of life and family."

"In this context – he concluded - I remind you all that on February 11 in remembrance of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes and World Day for the Sick I will celebrate morning Mass with the sick in St. Peters Basilica."

See also:

From CNA, "God's grace makes it possible for weak men to answer 'divine call,' declares Pope" and "Benedict XVI joins Italy in celebrating National Day for Life"

From Zenit, "Pope: Encountering God Reveals One's Inadequacies" and "On the Divine Call: "Encounter With God Brings Man to Recognize His Own Poverty"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel

Responding to Gods Call with Generosity and Trust
February 7, 2010

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Letter #4, 2010 -- Tim Tebow

insidethevatican - Feb 6, 2010

Quarterback for Life

During this year's American football championship, the Super Bowl, a pro-life television commercial has sparked controversy. Background on a moving story by Stefanie Stark

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from America


Controversy over Life at the Super Bowl

Tomorrow evening, millions of America will be glued to their television screens to watch the final championship game of the professional football season, the "Super Bowl" game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.

In the weeks leading up the game, there has been an intensifying "quarterback controversy," but not involving either of the starting quarterbacks.

Rather, it involves a young man named Tim Tebow, who just graduated from college in December. He is one of the best young quarterbacks in the country, and a pro-life television commercial featuring his mother will air for 30 seconds during the "big game." Hearing of this, pro-abortion groups have protested and sought to have the ad canceled.

I asked a good friend, a Catholic mother and writer/researcher Stefanie Stark, who lives a short distance from the Tebow family in Jacksonville, Florida, to look into the background of this controversy. She filed the following report. —Robert Moynihan


"God Sent Me a Quarterback"

"I asked God to send me a preacher. God sent me a quarterback." —Bob Tebow (Tim's father)

"And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.'" —Mark 16:15

by Stefanie Stark

JACKSONVILLE, Florida, February 6, 2010 — Across the country tomorrow, many families and friends will gather around their flat-screen televisions to watch the Indianapolis Colts battle the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl XLIV airing on CBS. But the football player who has dominated the headlines is not the Colt's Peyton Manning or Saints' quarterback, Drew Brees. Instead, it is a player who has not yet been signed to the NFL: recent University of Florida graduate and 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow.

The 22-year-old Gator quarterback has been called the next Brett Favre and is well known not only for his incredible talent as an athlete but also for the public witness to his faith by writing Bible verses in his eye black during games.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know by now that CBS is scheduled to air a pro-life ad during the Super Bowl that features Tim's mother, Pam, discussing her decision to refuse her doctor's advice to have an abortion and to have Tim.

The ad was funded by the Christian organization Focus on the Family and, according to Tim Tebow, the central message is "Celebrate family. Celebrate life."

On the other side of this so-called "controversial" ad are the "pro-choice" groups such as National Organization for Women (NOW) and Planned Parenthood, who have called CBS's decision to air the Tebow commercial "an outrage" because they believe "it sends the wrong message."

These women's groups have launched their own televised campaign demanding that CBS pull the 30 second Tebow ad.

At this point, it looks as though the network will continue with its plans to run the ad.

There are also rumors today that a second Tim Tebow ad, an uncut version of the one scheduled to run during the Super Bowl, will air during the pre-game show.

Why are many outraged over a gifted athlete and his mother with a moving, pro-family message, while so many other outrageous things seem to be accepted with no protest at all?

Benedict XVI calls on Guatemala to protect the vulnerable

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2010 / 01:44 pm (CNA).- The Holy Father accepted the credentials of the new ambassador to the Holy See from Guatemala, Mr. Alfonso Roberto Matta Fahsen, on Saturday morning. In his message to the diplomat, the Pope addressed the importance of protecting the vulnerable in the country and reinforcing their strong values.

Pope Benedict referred to the centuries-long history of the Gospel in the country of Guatemala, throughout which the people have demonstrated a "very rooted faith in God," devotion for the Virgin and a "faithful love" for the Church and the Successor of Peter.

See also from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Pope Benedict XVI: Help the Poorest Countries
February 6, 2010

Pope addresses Italian power company on rethinking the economy

Vatican City, Feb 6, 2010 / 02:52 pm (CNA).- On Saturday at the Apostolic Palace, Pope Benedict met in audience with a group from a local Italian municipal agency. Speaking with them, but also to the international community, Holy Father stressed the importance of "social responsibility" in the business environment “to promote the good of all.”

Meeting with directors and personnel of the Roman branch of ACEA, a company that specializes in providing energy and water services to Italy, the Holy Father expressed his hope that the development model that has brought the world to its present economic crisis would be rethought so that man with his “capacity to produce, innovate, think and build the future” is placed at the center.

It’s important, he continued, to increase consciousness for “the necessity of a broader ‘social responsibility’ in business, that strives to hold in just consideration the expectations and needs of workers, clients, producers and the entire community, and to pay special attention to the environment.”

“In this way,” added Pope Benedict, “the production of goods and services will not be tied exclusively to the search for economic profits, but also to the promotion of the good for all.”

See also:

From San Francisco Chronicle, "Pope weighs in on Fiat's planned closure."

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Pope Benedict XVI: Corporate responsibility towards society
February 6, 2010

Friday, February 05, 2010

Yahad in Unum: Catholics and Jews joins hands for Holocaust victims


February 5, 2010. Auschwitz in Poland, may be the most well-known concentration camp, but it’s not the only one. These camps of horror are widespread throughout Russia, Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

It’s estimated, 11 million people were executed in camps like these. But Nazis are also known for killing thousands more for the same reasons outside the walls of the camps.

Fathers, mothers and children lie in mass graves throughout Eastern Europe waiting for a proper burial.

Father Patrick Desbois, the person who heads Yahad-In Unum, wants to find the bodies of the victims the Nazis killed and lay them to rest with dignity.

Father Patrick Desbois
President Yachad in Unum
“So the main challenge for now is to find all the main graves of Jews and gipsies who were been killed in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.”

The name of the association is in Hebrew and Latin, ‘Yahad’ and ‘In Unum’ both mean together. The group is a clear example of how the Jewish and Catholic communities are collaborating to close the wounds caused by the Holocaust.

With the help of written testimonies and eye witnesses who say they saw Nazis drag Jews into forests to be executed, Yahad-In-Unum searches for mass graves in the outskirts of Ukraine. The organizers aim to give family members of the deceased a tomb and their loved ones a proper burial so they can be remembered.

Father Patrick Desbois
President Yahad in Unum
“We found seven hundreds extermination sites and interviewed 1 thousand five hundred witnesses representing the killing side to testimony to know where are because, the Jews have never been buried or the gipsies either.”

The Catholic priest works with people from other religious backgrounds in this project that goes beyond inter-religious dialogue.

Rabbi Joseph Levi
Chief Rabbi of Florence
“In this sense we see how with help from the Church, Father Desvois has introduced a very important project to uncover another dark side of the Holocaust some may not know about .”

Rabino David Rosen
International Director of Inter-religious Affairs
“The Catholic priest and his colleagues are dedicating themselves to looking after, finding, discovering, rehabilitating Jewish cemeteries. There could not be a more wonderful testimony of friendship and mutual respect.”

Yahad-In Unum doesn’t seek to reopen old wounds, rather make for effective dialogue between people of faith. Jews and Catholics cooperating so that hundreds of Holocaust victims can now rest in peace.

Pope’s message for World Day of the Sick: Serve the sick out of love

February 05, 2010

Accompany the sick in their suffering and heal their physical and spiritual wounds. Thats the message Benedict XVI conveyed to those who dedicate themselves to serving the sick, including nurses, doctors and all those who daily deal with suffering.

The pope’s message for World Day of the Sick, titled "The Church at the service of love for the suffering" stresses the need to serve those who are sick, out of love.

Benedict XVI made a special call to priests who work in hospitals. He encouraged them to help heal the sick, their wounds and their spirit.

For World Day of the Sick, doctors, volunteers, nurses and chaplains will gather from February 9th to 11th in Rome to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers. During the 3 day conference, there will be meetings and exhibitions that will help them understand the pain of those who are suffering.

Benedict XVI will close the events with a Mass on February 11, the day of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican. Relics of St. Bernadette of Lourdes will be on display during the ceremony.

A day meant to encourage health care workers so they can provide quality service to patients and respect them up until their final moments.

See also from Zenit, "Official Reflects on Church's Mission in Health Care."

‘Stop dehydration deaths,’ says Terri Schiavo’s brother in response to new brain scan

Bobby Schindler

St. Petersburg, Fla., Feb 4, 2010 / 08:32 pm (CNA).- Reacting to news of a breakthrough in brain scanning technology, Terri Schiavo's brother Bobby Schindler is calling for a halt to removing hydration from brain-damaged patients who are thought to be in a persistent vegetative state. An “unscientific, inaccurate” diagnosis of unresponsive patients is being used as “a criterion to kill,” Schindler charged.

Schindler was responding to news that researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the University of Liège have used a technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map a patient’s brain activity while he was asked to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions.

One patient, a 29-year-old man who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury in a traffic accident, was able to communicate by willfully changing his brain activity, a press release from the MRC reports. He correctly answered questions such as “Is your father’s name Alexander?”

See also:

From CNN, "'Vegetative state' man responds to questions"

From, "'Vegetative' Patients may Retain Awareness: Study"

Pope tells Scottish Catholics to prepare to 'grapple' with secularism

Vatican City, Feb 5, 2010 / 11:19 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI met with bishops from Scotland Friday morning on the occasion of their “ad Limina” visit to the Holy See. Not only did he confirm that he will be visiting their nation this year, but he addressed a variety of issues relevant to the Scottish Church, including the need to defend Church teaching in the face of secularism.

In his message to the bishops, Benedict XVI commended them for their "Priests for Scotland" initiative, which addresses significant issues being dealt with by the Scottish clergy. The Pope remarked that “the witness of priests who are genuinely committed to prayer and joyful in their ministry bears fruit not only in the spiritual lives of the faithful, but also in new vocations.”

Initiatives of this sort, he said, must be offered along with catechesis to remind the lay community of the “indispensable” nature of the priesthood to the life of the Church, especially in providing the Eucharist.

A “renewed focus” on the role of the “lay apostolate” is also needed as it is sometimes confused with “lay ministry,” the Pope said, noting that through the clarification of the roles of clergy and laity a “strong impetus” will be given to the evangelization of society.

The task of evangelization, Benedict XVI continued, “requires a readiness to grapple firmly with the challenges presented by the increasing tide of secularism in (your) country” especially in regard to the important issues of euthanasia and medical ethics.

See also:

From Zenit, "Benedict XVI's Address to Scottish Bishops: 'People of Faith Bear Witness to the Truth'"

From Catholic News Service, "Catholic teaching is not a list of 'no's,' pope tells Scottish bishops"

From Asia News, "Pope: Church cannot accept any compromise on euthanasia"

From Catholic World News, "Combat 'rising tide of secularism,' Pope urges Scottish bishops" and "Pope confirms he will visit Scotland"

From AFP via Yahoo! Canada News, "Pope speaks out against euthanasia in Scotland"

From BBC News, "Pope confirms visit to Scotland"

From The Scotsman, "Pope's "joy" as visit to Scotland is confirmed"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Benedict XVI: Create a better society
February 5, 2010

Shroud of Turin: Image provokes prayer, curiosity, scholarly disputes

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Shroud of Turin, which many Christians believe to be the burial cloth of Jesus, goes on public display this spring, at a time when experts are debating new claims about the 14-foot-long piece of linen.

Pope Benedict XVI has already made plans to view the shroud during a one-day trip to the northern Italian city of Turin in early May. Many observers are wondering how the pope will refer to the cloth: as a sign, an icon or -- as Pope John Paul II once characterized it -- a relic.

The shroud's last showing was 10 years ago, when more than a million people lined up to see it in the cathedral of Turin in northern Italy. Officials are predicting similar crowds for the exposition April 10-May 23, and visitors are being urged to book their visits online at

The pilgrims come to witness with their own eyes what they may have read about or glimpsed on TV. Most go away impressed with what they see: a faint image of a bearded man who appears to have been whipped, crowned with thorns and crucified.

Carbon-14 tests in 1988 dated the cloth to the Middle Ages, and seemed to confirm the theory that the shroud was a pious fraud. But since then, some experts have faulted the methodology of the testing, and said the tiny samples used may have been taken from areas of the cloth that were mended in medieval times.

The shroud has also been chemically analyzed, electronically enhanced and computer-imaged. So far, no one has been able to fully explain how the image was transferred to the linen cloth, although experts have put forward theories ranging from enzyme reaction to solar imaging.

The shroud has been studied from virtually every scientific angle in recent years. Its weave has been examined, pollen grains embedded in the cloth have been inspected, and red stains have been analyzed for hemoglobin properties. One particular sub-category of debate focuses on enhanced images that, in the opinion of some scientists, reveal the impression of 1st-century Palestinian coins placed on the eyes of the shroud's figure.

The "jury" on the shroud includes hundreds of experts, some of them self-appointed. They do not split neatly into believers and skeptics, however. The latest controversy, in fact, involves a Vatican archivist who claims to have found evidence of writing on the shroud -- a hypothesis that has drawn sharp criticism from other Catholic scholars.

The archivist, Barbara Frale, said in a new book that older photographs of the shroud reveal indications of what was essentially a written death notice for a "Jesus Nazarene." The text, she said, employs three languages used in 1st-century Jerusalem.

The book immediately prompted a Web site war in Italy. Several sites dedicated to the shroud ridiculed Frale's hypothesis, saying it bordered on Dan Brown-style fantasy. Vatican Radio, however, featured an interview with Frale about her "important discovery." No doubt the world will hear more about this scholarly spat when the shroud goes on display.

It will be the first public showing of the shroud since it underwent a restoration in 2002, which removed repair patches and a large piece of linen of a later date. To prepare for the exhibit, the Archdiocese of Turin has taken the unusual step of closing the cathedral for three months. It will take that long to set up the viewing area and the informational exhibit for visitors as they wait in line.

Pope Benedict's arrival is a big event for organizers of this year's shroud exposition. Many Catholics look to Rome for direction on how to evaluate the shroud, as Pope John Paul II discovered en route to Africa in 1989, when he called the shroud a "relic." When excited reporters asked whether this meant it was the authentic burial cloth of Christ, the Polish pope conferred with an aide before answering more cautiously: "The church has never pronounced itself in this sense. It has always left the question open to all those who want to seek its authenticity. I think it is a relic."

Clearly, Pope John Paul was personally convinced, although when he went to see the shroud in 1998 he carefully avoided using the term "relic."

Pope Benedict has long been cautious about the value of private signs, apparitions and revelations. But he seems to consider the Shroud of Turin in a different category.

In his book, "The Spirit of the Liturgy," then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote that the shroud was "a truly mysterious image, which no human artistry was capable of producing."

In his meditations on the Good Friday Way of the Cross in Rome shortly before his election as pope in 2005, he wrote regarding the 11th station, "Jesus Is Nailed to the Cross": "The Shroud of Turin allows us to have an idea of the incredible cruelty of this procedure."

The pope then offered a kind of prayer inspired by the figure of the shroud: "Let us halt before this image of pain, before the suffering Son of God. Let us look upon him at times of presumptuousness and pleasure, in order to learn to respect limits and to see the superficiality of all merely material goods. Let us look upon him at times of trial and tribulation, and realize that it is then that we are closest to God."

See also from Google Books, Pope Benedict's, then-Cardinal Ratzinger, book "The Spirit of the Liturgy."

Not Ignorance, Incompetence, or Bias, but Media Fraud

By Sonja Corbitt
Catholic Online (

Crucial facts are left out of news stories when those facts will undermine or destroy a liberal argument.

Mainstream media reporters like CNN’s Rick Sanchez seemed unable to discern who had more supporters present, and CNN cameramen aired shots of small groups of pro-abortion protesters close-up in the foreground, making the 300,000 pro-life marchers seem insignificant, invisible, or at the very least, not newsworthy.

BETHPAGE, TN (Catholic Online) - Some American journalists act like communist governments, sifting and spinning the “news” into propagandist, policy-molding sound bites, but sadly media bias itself is no longer news because it is defrauding the country.

Poll after poll has shown that the vast majority of US journalists vote for Democrats, even though the country is evenly split between the two major political parties. A fellow at the Manhattan Institute, William McGowan offered an explanation for such journalistic malpractice in his book “Coloring the News.”

In it McGowan revealed news organizations create special editorial caucuses consisting exclusively of homosexual, feminist, black, or Hispanic journalists who decide how the news about their respective groups will be reported, or whether it will receive air time or print at all.

Crucial facts are left out of news stories when those facts will undermine or destroy a liberal argument, while false stories and claims are reported widely as factual in the media when they support liberal views. Recent examples abound.

March for Life

Some claim the reports on the recent March for Life in Washington demonstrate outright media fraud. Reports from those on the ground on the numbers of pro-lifers at the march were estimated at 300,000 and pro-abortion advocates fewer than a hundred.

But mainstream media reporters like CNN’s Rick Sanchez seemed unable to discern who had more supporters present, and CNN cameramen aired shots of small groups of pro-abortion protesters close-up in the foreground, making the 300,000 pro-life marchers seem insignificant, invisible, or at the very least, not newsworthy.

Such corruption in reporting for the March for Life is said to be a late-January tradition in Washington, to the point that pro-abortion protestors are always given pride of place in mainstream stories, no matter their scant numbers compared to those participating in the March. Footage is edited to give misleading impressions and numbers are skewed in favor of pro-abortion activists, leading pro-abortion activists to pack up when the media leaves.

In major media outlets like Newsweek, young women participants in the March for Life are said to be absent, implying there is no support for the pro-life cause among young women, when in reality they compose the largest demographic in the movement.

McGowan confirms the same biases in reporting on the abortion issue, attributing them to the fact that over 80% of journalists surveyed say they are pro-choice, and offers the widespread media promotion of safe sex and use of the term “anti-abortion” instead of “pro-life” as examples of ways journalists “color” the news.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Political programs cannot achieve justice and equality, Pope says in Lenten message

Catholic World News
February 04, 2010

In his message for Lent, Pope Benedict XVI cautions against a purely secular approach to achieving justice in society.

While Jesus "surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine," the Holy Father writes, nevertheless "distributive justice does not render to the human being the totality of his due." Man seeks for something much more-- for salvation-- which can only come through Christ and his Church.

The Pope's annual message takes its title from St. Paul's letter to the Romans: "The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ." Pope Benedict begins with some reflections on the meaning of the word "justice." He notes that the most common definition involves giving every person his due. But a problem arises immediately, he notes: "What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law."

Efforts to achieve justice through the force of human law cannot succeed, the Pope says. The radical impulse to eliminate all oppressive structures, hoping thereby to bring a just and equal society, is doomed. The Pontiff explains: "Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil."

The goal of the faithful during Lent, the Pope writes, should be to root out the evil in their own hearts. This effort requires humility, because Christians must acknowledge that they cannot change the world-- or even change themselves-- by their own powers; they must rely on the help of their Savior. Christians must be determined to pursue God's justice, not their own.

The Christian who is determined to answer God's call will indeed work for justice in society, the Pope continues: "God is attentive to the cry of the poor and in return asks to be listened to: He asks for justice towards the poor, the stranger, the slave." But the Christian recognizes that his own efforts to help others are guided by God. He concludes that the justice to which St. Paul refers is "the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends, heals himself and others."

At a Vatican press conference introducing the Pope's Lenten message, Hans-Gert Poettering, the former president of the European Parliament, observed that the Pope "has indicated that a secularly radicalized form of the idea of distributive justice that is decoupled from faith in God becomes ideological." He added: "As a politician, I would like to add: We have experienced in collapsed socialism where this thinking can lead to."

Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, agreed. He told the press conference: "Whoever dedicates deeper study to the Church's contribution in favor of peaceful understanding among human beings will soon discover that the problem of just coexistence cannot be resolved only though worldly interventions."

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Papal Message for Lent 2010-- full text (VIS)

Salvation in Christ is the Foundation of Human Justice (VIS)

Pope: God's justice is not that of men

» 02/04/2010 12:42

In his "Message for Lent”, Benedict XVI highlights how man must overcome the illusion of self" and “ the deep state of closure, which is the origin of injustice" to open himself to the love of God. Jesus "certainly condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions of human beings to death for lack of food, water and medicine."

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Divine justice is not that of men, it does not follow the traditional rule that identifies it in "to render to every man his due”, but one for which " where the just man dies for the guilty and the guilty receives in return the blessing due to the just one". It is a "justice" - said Benedict XVI in his message for Lent - which makes men "emerge from the illusion of self sufficiency," overcoming "the strange force of gravity that leads him to fall back on himself, to assert himself over and against others".

Titled "The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ ", the papal document, released today, focuses on the very definition of justice. The classical definition, "does not specify what “due” is to be rendered to each person. What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law. In order to live life to the full, something more intimate is necessary that can be granted only as a gift”. " Material goods are certainly useful and required – indeed Jesus Himself was concerned to heal the sick, feed the crowds that followed Him and surely condemns the indifference that even today forces hundreds of millions into death through lack of food, water and medicine – yet “distributive” justice does not render to the human being the totality of his “due.” Just as man needs bread, so does man have even more need of God”.

There is, the Pope notes, a "a permanent temptation within man: to situate the origin of evil in an exterior cause. Many modern ideologies deep down have this presupposition: since injustice comes “from outside,” in order for justice to reign, it is sufficient to remove the exterior causes that prevent it being achieved. This way of thinking – Jesus warns – is ingenuous and shortsighted. Injustice, the fruit of evil, does not have exclusively external roots; its origin lies in the human heart, where the seeds are found of a mysterious cooperation with evil".

See also:

From CNA, "'Divine justice' focus of Holy Father's Lenten message"

VIS-Press releases, "Salvation in Christ is the Foundation of Human Justice" and "Papal Message for Lent 2010"

From Catholic News Service, "Conversion breaks bonds of selfishness, pope says in Lenten message"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Message for Lent: Contribute toward creating just societies
February 4, 2010

Winter Olympics are 'building block of peace and friendship,' declares Pope Benedict

Vatican City, Feb 4, 2010 / 10:53 am (CNA).- In a letter to the Archbishop of Vancouver, the Holy Father expressed his happiness for the occasion of the 21st Winter Olympic Games and the 10th Paralympic Winter Games to be celebrated between February and March.

The Pope noted the importance of the event for everyone involved and recalled the words of John Paul II, who said that sport "can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between people and to establishing the new civilization of love."

With those words in mind, Pope Benedict added, "may sport always be a valued building block of peace and friendship between people and nations."

The Holy Father also referred to the "More Than Gold" initiative in his message and prayed that all those who make use of the spiritual and material assistance the effort provides for the games "will be confirmed in their love of God and neighbor."

See also:

VIS-Press release, "Telegram for Winter Olympics in Canada."

From Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, "Pope wishes good luck to Winter Olympic athletes"

From ABC News, "Pope Sends His Wishes for Peaceful Olympics"

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Gordon Gekko Scale of Greed

Inside Catholic
by John Zmirak

Over the course of many months thinking about the deadly sins and opposing virtues, I've ranged pretty widely. In dealing with Greed and Generosity, I have drawn (so far as I know) the only direct connections yet between Chinese Communism, elves, ostrich farms, and the mortgage crisis. But that's what being Catholic (from katholikos, or "according to the whole") is all about -- learning to look at the whole world in all its dimensions, exploring its murkiest shadows in the light of remembered truths. And most questions that vex current politics can be best understood by understanding the relationship of justice and mercy. In theory, it's a simple one: Justice is the foundation of the house and its stress-bearing walls, while mercy provides the windows and the doors. Neglect the first, and you live in a tottering ruin; the second, and you're in a prison.

But the point of these reflections isn't to change the way you vote but to help you achieve the Golden Mean of virtue in daily life. That means avoiding the sin of Greed without lurching over sideways into Prodigality, learning to give liberally without enabling the wasteful. We must not, to paraphrase Scripture, eat up our substance with prodigal giving -- particularly when we're speaking of wealth or rights that belong to our fellow citizens. Taking part in a partly free economy, many of us are offered frequent temptations to act greedily, and it's hard to know where or when to stop. In a culture that has tacitly decided (long about 1688) to shelve religious questions and concentrate on getting rich, it's all too easy to see accumulating property as a virtuous end in itself. Dostoevsky, of all people, called money "coined freedom," and who wouldn't want more of that? Well, Dostoevsky for one, who threw his wealth away most prodigally at the gambling tables, and only embraced Christianity while serving in a labor camp.

So we're ringed round with paradoxes, and the issues aren't simple. In search of those clinking little icons of liberty, we can easily enslave ourselves to workaholic habits, or corrupt our friendships and even our families by commercializing them -- for instance, when you try to recruit your college pals into a pyramid scheme, or nix your chance at marriage by wrangling over a pre-nup. Perhaps the best approach is one proposed by Catholic philanthropist Frank Hanna, whose book What Your Money Means proposes a deeply biblical approach. Going back to the parable of the talents (Mt 25:14-30 and Lk 19:12-27), he suggests we think of every natural good that God has given us as something precious we've been entrusted to use in unique way. Had God other plans for each gift, He would have given it to someone else. With that fact in mind, we should husband our resources prudently, aware that on Judgment Day we'll be called to account for each of them. That's not the time you want to be on your hands and knees with a trowel.

Keep that image in your head as you take my Trademark-Busting Cosmo-Style Quiz™, to see where you fall on the Gordon Gekko Scale. Take out your pencil and score yourself carefully -- the answer might affect your credit rating.

Obama Adviser Stands by Assertion That Pope Benedict XVI Is 'Hurting People in the Name of Jesus'

Wednesday, February 03, 2010
By Karen Schuberg

( – Harry Knox, who serves on President Barack Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, is standing by a statement he made last March that Pope Benedict XVI is “hurting people in the name of Jesus.”

When asked on Tuesday whether he still holds that view that the pope "is hurting people in the name of Jesus," Knox said, “I do.” (See video below.)

In addition to advising President Obama on the government's Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership programs, Knox is the director of the religion and faith program at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a homosexual activist group.

At the National Press Club on Tuesday, asked Knox, “You put out a statement saying Pope Benedict XVI was—quote—‘hurting people in the name of Jesus’ because he did not support promoting the use of condoms as a means to control the spread of HIV. And I was wondering, do you still believe the pope’s position on condoms is ‘hurting people in the name of Jesus’?”

Knox answered, “I—I do.”

In a follow-up question, asked Knox: “So, even in light of—Edward Green, a Harvard researcher in AIDS prevention said the pope was correct in that condom use aggravates HIV, the spread of it, in Africa. So, in light of that statement, do you still hold to that position?

Knox answered, “He is simply incorrect in his assertion. All the other evidence of science shows otherwise.”

On March 17, 2009, Pope Benedict flew to Africa to visit Cameroon and Angola. During the flight, he answered several questions from reporters, including one concerning AIDS in Africa: Given that the Catholic Church’s position in fighting AIDS “is often considered unrealistic and ineffective,” would the pope “address this theme during the journey?”

Pope Benedict gave a lengthy response, detailing many of the Church’s humanitarian efforts to help people with AIDS in Africa. “I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome merely with money, necessary though it is,” he said. “If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help [by responsible behavior], the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it.”

In response to the pope’s remarks, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a statement. It quoted Harry Knox as follows: “The Pope’s statement that condoms don't help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus.”

“On a continent where millions of people are infected with HIV, it is morally reprehensible to spread such blatant falsehoods,” said Knox in the statement. “The Pope’s rejection of scientifically proven prevention methods is forcing Catholics in Africa to choose between their faith and the health of their entire community. Jesus was about helping the marginalized and downtrodden, not harming them further.”

Senior Harvard AIDS Prevention Researcher Edward Green, who describes himself as a liberal, says that science backs the pope’s message.

UK Catholics Learn Media Skills Ahead of Papal Visit

Project Seeks to Generate Positive Coverage of Pope

LONDON, FEB. 3, 2010 ( If you've read the news this week, you've probably seen that Benedict XVI is against equality in England -- or that's what it sounds like.

The Pope's address Monday to bishops of England and Wales in Rome for their five-yearly visit generated news that the Holy Father was "swiping" and "attacking" a U.K. equality law.

In truth, he spoke about natural law and the freedom of religious groups to act according to their beliefs. Homosexual rights activists expressed chagrin, and the headlines reflected their opinions.

This kind of press response is precisely what the initiative "Catholic Voices" of the Catholic Union of Great Britain will try to head off when the Holy Father visits the United Kingdom in September.

It will be "an 'authoritative but unofficial' bureau of media-trained and well-briefed Catholic speakers," prepared to speak to the press about what the Pope is really saying and other related themes.

Ready for the spotlight

Around 25 people will be trained with twice-monthly briefing sessions imparted by "experts on contentious issues likely to come under the spotlight during the papal visit," a statement from the group announced. "They will also receive three day-long media skills training sessions during those months, and conclude their formation with a residential retreat at Worth Abbey in the summer."

Catholic Voices is independent of the bishops' conference, but approved by it.

The president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, Lord Daniel Brennan, and the abbot of Worth, Christopher Jamison, are the project's patrons.

The project communiqué noted that the Holy Father had another message Monday that didn't make the news.

He called on bishops to "insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society" and "to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales and see that they are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately, and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission."

According to Abbot Jamison, "Pope Benedict’s address to our bishops in Rome show how important and necessary this project is."