Monday, November 30, 2009

Pope appeals for rights of migrant and refugee children

By Sarah Delaney
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI urged governments and international organizations to give special attention to the rights of child immigrants, who often are victims of exploitation and abandonment.

Minors forced to immigrate for reasons of poverty, violence or hunger are the most vulnerable, he said.

The pope made the comments in his annual message for the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated Jan. 17 in most countries. The papal text was released at the Vatican Nov. 27.

The pope said host countries must create policies that protect child immigrants and help them integrate into society. These children should enjoy basic rights such as going to school and being able to work legally, he added.

"I warmly hope that proper attention will be given to minor migrants who need a social environment that permits and fosters their physical, cultural, spiritual and moral development," he said.

Despite increased awareness of the need to help child immigrants, the pope said, "many are left to fend for themselves and, in various ways, face the risk of exploitation."

Pope Benedict referred to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognizes children's "fundamental rights as equal to the rights of adults." But "unfortunately this does not always happen in practice," he said.

The pope's message was presented at a Vatican press conference by Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers; Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the council; and Msgr. Novatus Rugambwa, undersecretary of the council.
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See also from Catholic World News, "Pope calls attention to young refugees."

In message to Orthodox Patriarch, Pope notes 'urgency' of ecumenical work

Catholic World News
November 30, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI sent his greetings to the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople on November 30, as the Ecumenical Patriarch celebrated the feast of St. Andrew, the patron of Constantinople. In a message to the Orthodox leader, the Pope spoke of the "urgency" of pursuing Christian unity, saying that the Christian world must speak with one voice in response to today's challenges.

The Pope acknowledged the progress toward ecumenical accord, noting that he and the Orthodox leader have regularly exchanged visits and messages of friendship. He thanked Bartholomew for regularly sending delegations to Rome for the patronal feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and noted that Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, was leading a Vatican delegation to this year's celebration in Istanbul.

The continued drive toward Christian unity, the Pope insisted, "should not be hindered by those who remain bound to the remembrance of historical differences, which impedes their openness to the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and is able to transform all human failings into opportunities for good." He pointed to the work that Christians should do together "especially in defending the dignity of the human person, in affirming fundamental ethical values, in promoting justice and peace, and in responding to the suffering that continues to afflict our world, particularly hunger, poverty, illiteracy, and the inequitable distribution of resources."

Pope Benedict congratulated Patriarch Bartholomew for his outspoken statement in defense of the natural environment, and said that he hoped to "work together in drawing attention to humanity’s responsibility for the safeguarding of creation."

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

Message to Bartholomew I for the Feast of St. Andrew (VIS)

Pope to Faithful: Welcome Advent with Hope, Prepare the Way for the Lord

11/30/2009
Zenit News Agency (http://www.zenit.org/)

'The Lord Jesus came in the past, he comes in the present and will come in the future'.


'This Sunday we begin, by the grace of God, a new liturgical year, which opens naturally with Advent, a time of preparation for the Lord's nativity'.

VATICAN CITY (Zenit.org) - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address before praying the Angelus at midday with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This Sunday we begin, by the grace of God, a new liturgical year, which opens naturally with Advent, a time of preparation for the Lord's nativity. In the constitution on the Liturgy, the Second Vatican Council states that the Church "presents in the annual cycle the whole mystery of Christ, from the incarnation and the nativity, to the ascension, the day of pentecost, and the expectation of the blessed hope and return of the Lord."

In this way, "recalling the mysteries of the redemption, it opens to the faithful the riches of the salvific actions and the merits of their Lord, so that they are present in some way in all times, so that the faithful can approach them and be filled with the grace of salvation" ("Sacrosantum Concilium," 102).

The council insists on the fact that Christ is the center of the liturgy. It is similar to the sun, around which rotate the planets. Around the liturgy rotate the Blessed Virgin Mary -- she is the closest -- and the martyrs and the other saints that "in heaven sing to God the perfect praise and intercede for us" (Ibidem, 104).

This is the reality of the liturgical year seen, so to speak, "from God's side." And from the side -- shall we say -- of man, of history and of society? What importance can it have? The answer is suggested properly by the advent journey, which we undertake today.

The contemporary world needs above all hope: It is needed by developing peoples, but also by those economically developed. We increasingly see that we are in the same boat and that we must all be saved together. Above all, seeing so many false securities crumble, we realize that we need a trustworthy hope, and this is found only in Christ, who, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, "is the same yesterday, today and always" (13:8).
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See also from Catholic World News, "Pope opens Advent preparation, speaks of "joy of waiting".

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christ, the foundation of hope needed by all men, Pope says

» 11/29/2009 14:24
VATICAN

At the start of the Liturgical Year, Benedict XVI emphasises that Jesus Christ is the hope rich and developing peoples as well as believers and non-believers need. His thoughts go to AIDS patients, especially children and the very poor. He also greets the march organised to assert the religious, historical and cultural value of the Crucifix, in the wake of a ruling by the European Court.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Jesus Christ is “the foundation of hope” which “every human being needs,” said Pope Benedict XVI as he explained the meaning of Advent at the start, today, of the Liturgical Year. Speaking to the thousands of pilgrims assembled in Saint Peter’s Square for the Angelus prayer, the Pope stated that, “Jesus Christ does not concern only Christians, or believers, but all men, because He, who is the centre of the faith, is also the foundation of hope.”

As he explained the “relevance” of the Liturgical Year for mankind, the Pontiff said, “The contemporary world needs hope above all; this is true for developing peoples but especially for developed peoples. Increasingly, we realise that we are in the same boat and that we can save ourselves together. With the collapse of so many false certainties, we are becoming especially aware of how we need reliable hope and that this is found only in Christ, who according to the Letter to the Hebrews Jesus “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (13:8). The Lord Jesus came in the past, comes in the present, and shall come in the future. He embraces all of time’s dimensions. Because he died and rose, he is the ‘Living’, and whilst he shared our human precariousness, he is always there, offering us God’s stability. He is “flesh” like us, and “rock” like God. Anyone who yearns for freedom, justice, and peace can stand erect and raise his head because in Christ redemption is at hand (cf Lk, 21:28), which is in today’s Gospel reading.”

After the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI said that 1 December is World AIDS Day. “My thoughts and prayers go to every person afflicted by this disease, especially the children, the very poor, and all those who are rejected,” he said. “The Church does all it can to fight AIDS through its institution and staff. I urge everyone to make their contribution with prayers and actual care so that those suffering from the HIV virus may experience the presence of the Lord, source of comfort and hope. Lastly, I hope that, through more coordinated efforts, we may be able to stop and eradicate this disease.”

In his final, multilingual greetings, Benedict XVI saluted in particular the march promoted by the Movement for Family Love in order “to express deep love for the Crucifix, recognising its religious, historical and cultural value.”

The march was called to protest against a ruling by the European Court that deemed the crucifix in public places in Italy a violation of freedom.

See also from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Pope: Jesus is Hope for All, not only for Believers
November 29, 2009



Pope Benedict XVI: Increase efforts to stop AIDS
November 29, 2009



Advent: the visitation of God who enters our lives
November 29, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Something Beautiful for Advent and Lent: Missa Orbis Factor



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fr. Ernie Davis, a pastoral provision priest incardinated in the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, sends along this Youtube of the Missa Orbis Factor which his Anglican Use Community will be using during lent. I’ll let him explain:

On the first Sunday of Advent we begin using a setting of the Mass that will be new to us, Missa Orbis Factor. Beginning in the 19th Century, Anglicans began recovering some of the ancient Masses for use in the Anglican liturgy. Music composed by Merbecke for the 1549 Book of Common Prayer followed Archbishop Cranmer’s directive that each syllable should be sung to only one note. We will use his setting during Lent because its simplicity fits our time spent in the desert of Lent.

In the early 20th Century, Charles Winifred Douglas adapted at least two of the ancient Masses for the Book of Common Prayer – Missa Marialis and Missa de Angelis.

In the late 20th Century, David Hurd adapted the Missa Orbis Factor for Rite II of the Book of Common Prayer. Rather than using Hurd’s setting in modern English, we will be using the ancient setting in Latin, which provides a double challenge for us.

If they practice well, the choir at St. Therese will approximate something like the following:

Pope holds up '84 Argentina-Chile Beagle agreement as model of peace winning over war

Times & Transcript
Published Saturday November 28th, 2009

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI hailed a 1984 Vatican-mediated friendship agreement between Argentina and Chile as a "luminous example" of peace winning out over war during an audience Saturday with the presidents of both countries.

Enlarge Photo

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Alessia Pierdomenico, Pool
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez meets Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009. Pope Benedict XVI hailed a 1984 Vatican-mediated friendship agreement between Argentina and Chile as a "luminous example" of peace winning out over war during an audience Saturday with the presidents of both countries In 1978, when both nations were ruled by military dictators, Chile and Argentina nearly went to war over three tiny islands in the Beagle Channel off Chile's southern Pacific shores. The dispute was solved by mediation by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

In 1978, when both nations were ruled by military dictators, Chile and Argentina nearly went to war over three tiny islands in the Beagle Channel off Chile's southern Pacific shores. The dispute was solved by mediation by Pope John Paul II in 1984.

Benedict marked the 25th anniversary of the treaty during a Vatican audience Saturday with Presidents Cristina Fernandez of Argentina and Michelle Bachelet of Chile. The Vatican said the pope met with each president separately, then delivered his speech to their joint delegations in the Vatican's Clementine Hall.

Benedict called the agreement a "luminous example of the strength of the human spirit and the desire for peace over the barbarity and uselessness of violence and war."

Quoting the World War II era pontiff Pope Pius XII he said: "Nothing is lost with peace; everything can be lost with war."

But he said that for peace to be consolidated, there needs to be a fight against poverty and corruption, guaranteed access to education, economic growth and the eradication of violence and exploitation of women and children.

Dressed in black, the two presidents also prayed before John Paul's tomb in the grottos underneath St. Peter's Basilica and visited the Vatican hall where the peace agreements were signed Nov. 29, 1984.

Upon arriving in Rome, the Argentine chancellor Jorge Taiana said the audience would be "a historic round of much joy and renewed alliance as we stop and think about how far we've come in the last 25 years."

John Paul intervened in the dispute in 1979, a year after he was elected pope, and the treaty signing some five years later marked his first concrete diplomatic achievement.
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Faithful say Amen to digital age with iPrayer

Scotland on Sunday
Date: 29 November 2009
By David Leask

FANS called it the Jesus Phone, such was the near religious hysteria that accompanied its launch. Now Apple's cult mobile really is bringing its owners closer to God.

The world's first Digital Rosary, meant to help the faithful to pray, goes on sale tomorrow. Custom-designed for the iPhone, it comes complete with a voiceover from one of the Vatican's most-trusted archbishops.

The new phone application, or "app, is essentially software that helps the electronically-minded faithful say the Rosary.

Most Catholics have traditionally kept track of the complicated sequence of recitations and Hail Marys involved in the Rosary – a ritual of devotion – by counting out sets of consecrated beads on a string.

Now they can carry out the ritual, which is done regularly by the most devout believers, by following prompts on their touch-sensitive iPhone screen instead. The app itself guides users through the rosary by speaking the words, which they can say at the same time.

It also provides digital access to a Communion website, where users can contact other believers, enter discussion groups and get information on prayer rituals. Vincenzo Coccoli, chief executive of MoreTechnology, the company that has developed the app along with religious leaders and communications experts, said: "It's a religious Facebook."

The inventors of the new app – which costs £3.49 – argue that the Digital Rosary will open the world to believers who do not want to pray alone and offer comfort to those who are far from a church or friends.
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Friday, November 27, 2009

To Begin Again: Why we Need Advent

By Deacon Keith Fournier
11/27/2009
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a culture where the influences of Christian traditions are waning many are again asking 'Why do Christians celebrate Advent?'


This Sunday the Season of Advent begins! Millions of the faithful throughout the world, will bring the advent candles out of storage and set it them in a prominent place.The formal celebration of Advent dates back to the fourth century but the practice of preparing for the coming of the Lord by living as though he is always coming goes back to the very beginnings of the Church.

DUCK, N.C. (Catholic Online) – For many of our readers in the United States of America, the smell of Thanksgiving still permeates the indoor air but the celebratory atmosphere is wearing off. Thanksgiving was a day for family gatherings and for giving thanks. Sometimes, it also becomes a day of stress, as families deal with all the intricacies of those special relationships and are invited to learn the way of love.

Now, the Catholic Church, good mother that she is, focuses the faithful on a beautiful liturgical season which calls us to live in anticipation of a new beginning, a new coming of the Lord. That season of joyful preparation - when we will be constantly invited through our liturgical readings and practices, to clear away all that entangles us and open a space in our hearts, our homes, our relationships and our lives - is called Advent.

The focus in the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church, during this Advent season will be on preparing for the coming(s) of the Lord. One of my favorite readings is taken from an Advent homily given by St. Bernard of Clairveaux. His insight unveils the special truth of this wonderful season of beginning again. He reminds us of all the Lord’s comings. He then situates us where we live our daily lives, on the road of continual conversion, the heart of the Christian vocation:

"We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible while the other two are visible. In the first coming He was seen on earth, dwelling among men; … in the final coming "all flesh will see the salvation of our God and they will look upon Him whom they have pierced". The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In His first coming our Lord came in our flesh and our weakness; in this middle coming He comes in Spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and in majesty. Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last." (St. Bernard of Clairveaux)

This Sunday the Season of Advent begins! Millions of the faithful throughout the world, will bring the advent candles out of storage and set it them in a prominent place. Over these weeks preceding Christmas, families, religious communities and all of the faithful will gather, pray and sing together- inviting the coming of the Lord into our lives, our homes, our Churches - and into the world which God still loves so much that He sends His Son, through all who have been Baptized into the Body of Christ. We live in a new missionary age. In a culture where the influences of Christian traditions are waning many are again asking, 'why do Christians celebrate Advent?'
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Pope calls for solidarity in action for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Vatican City, Nov 27, 2009 / 10:47 am (CNA).- The Holy Father released a message today regarding the 96th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be observed on January 17, 2010. His Holiness uses these celebrations as opportunities to "express the Church's constant concern for those who, in different ways, experience a life of immigration." This year, the theme will be 'Minor Immigrants and Refugees.'

Pope Benedict XVI wrote that he wishes to invite "all Christians to become aware of the social and pastoral challenges posed by migrant and refugee minors." He included that whatever the origins of the migrant minor, whether they be born abroad or in the host country to non-citizen parents or if they be refugees seeking asylum, they are vulnerable to a variety of threats.

Among the threats to the present and future of these minors is the possibility of social exclusion and lack of access to education, not to mention burdens in the form of political, economic, social, cultural and religious problems.

However, the Pope emphasized, this is where local and international communities must step in, to establish social and educational structures that "permit and foster" proper development of the individual by nurturing physical, cultural, spiritual and moral awareness.
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See also from the Boston Globe, "Pope: Immigrant kids must be integrated."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving: Love, Gratitude and the Meaning of Life

By Deacon Keith Fournier
11/25/2009
Catholic Online (http://www.catholic.org/)

Around tables throughout America families will gather to thank God and express their love to one another on this day of gratitude.


(Pictured: Chiara Lubich and the late Servant of God John Paul II)'Our giving opens the hands of God and He, in his providence, fills us with such an abundance that we can give again, and give more, and then receive again, and in this way we can meet the immense needs of many.' (Chiara Lubich)

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Chiara Lubich was the beloved foundress of the Focolare movement, one of the “ecclesial movements” which are growing and flourishing within the Catholic Church around the world as the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church. The modern Pope’s have called these predominantly lay movements the “finger of God” for this new missionary age. The late Servant of God John Paul II liked to call the ecclesial movements “signs of a springtime of world missions".

Chiara was born on January 22, 1920 and went home to the Lord on March 14, 2008. Those who knew her say that she lived her life animated by love and in a constant attitude of thanksgiving. Inspired by her heroic virtue, men and women were drawn closer to Jesus Christ and, in Him, into a deep relationship with one another to continue the redemptive mission of Jesus. This movement spread to more than 180 countries and had 140,000 members and 2.1 million affiliates at the time of her death. She was 88 years young, still in love with Jesus and filled with joy.

It was Chiara’s intimate relationship with the Lord which gave her the grace to love as He loves. It was also the source of her continual gratitude. It can be that way with each one of us. A readiness to give thanks in all circumstances - and for everything and everyone - is a sign of holiness in the lives of so many of the great saints and heroes of the Christian tradition.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in the United States; I want to share a few of her words to inspire us all as we gather to give thanks:

“Yes, love makes us be. We exist because we love. If we don’t love, and every time we don’t love, we are not, we do not exist. There’s nothing left to do but to love, without holding back. Only in this way will God give himself to us and with him will come the fullness of his gifts.Let us give concretely to those around us, knowing that by giving to them we are giving to God. Let’s give always; let’s give a smile, let’s offer understanding, and forgiveness. Let’s listen, let’s share our knowledge, our availability; let’s give our time, our talents, our ideas, our work; let’s give our experience, our skills; let’s share our goods with others so that we don’t accumulate things and everything circulates. Our giving opens the hands of God and He, in his providence, fills us with such an abundance that we can give again, and give more, and then receive again, and in this way we can meet the immense needs of many.”

This beautifully simple yet profound truth was also regularly expressed by the late Servant of God John Paul II. In his 1979 Encyclical Letter “The Redeemer of Man” he put it this way:

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself". If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created.” (Par. 10)

The Feast we celebrate on the U.S. Holiday called Thanksgiving reveals that there really is no separation between the secular and the spiritual. After all, God is the Creator of all and the Author of life. He is the source of all that is good - whether He is acknowledged to be so or not. As the beloved disciple John wrote “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.” We will grow in love today as we express it. We will reach out to one another and to the less fortunate. When we do we participate in the love of God. We will give thanks today, for all the great gifts we have received. As we do, we draw His presence more deeply into our life together. Love and gratitude are the keys to unlocking the deeper meaning of life.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pope challenges pilgrims to use Holy Trinity as model in relationships



Vatican City, Nov 25, 2009 / 10:27 am (CNA).- Continuing the theme of Christian culture in the Middle Ages in his weekly catecheses, Pope Benedict chose Hugh and Richard of Saint Victor's Monastery in Paris as the subjects of today's address at his general audience. These 12th century theologians "remind us that theology is grounded in the contemplation born of faith and the pursuit of understanding, and brings with it the immense joy of experiencing the eternal love of the Blessed Trinity."

Hugh of Saint Victor is known for his treatise, “On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith,” which was an influential document in defining the nature of a sacrament. He reached considerable status in his time, to the point of being called "a second St. Augustine." Hugh was known for inculcating the desire in his disciples to constantly seek the truth.

In his famous treatise, he emphasized the institution of sacraments by Christ and the communication of grace through the sacraments. Also proposed in the document was the value of sacraments as outward signs.
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See also:

From Asia News, "Pope: history is not the result of chance, God is present and works within it"

From Catholic World News, "12th-century monks taught Scripture as source of contemplation, Pope notes"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rowan Williams’ Ego Meets the Catholic Thing

On the Culture
By Dr. Jeff Mirus
November 24, 2009 6:04 PM

The Archbishop of Canterbury was obviously deeply annoyed by the Pope’s unilateral announcement that the Church would welcome Anglican congregations under a new Ordinariate. It could hardly be otherwise. And while he has retained the proverbial stiff upper lip throughout, and has uniformly responded with characteristic British understatement, it remains true that when he was eventually able to get a meeting with Pope Benedict, the Anglican Archbishop expressed his discomfiture. As he later admitted in an interview with Vatican Radio, the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus left him with a “sore ego” and put him in an “awkward position.”

He also explained to reporters that, once he heard about the Apostolic Constitution, he had very little time to react, and he had to make an emergency call to Cardinal Walter Kasper of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity at the eleventh hour to find out what was going on. Cardinal Kasper uttered the usual ecumenical assurances, but he was not himself a key player. I do not say he was completely out of the loop. The official explanation is that, since doctrinal questions were involved, he had already referred the whole matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Whatever the case, the matter of Anglican entry into the Church was not proceeding under his authority nor, apparently, was he regularly consulted.

Why were both Canterbury and Christian Unity left out?

There are two reasons why the Pope would not want to discuss this in advance either with the head of the Anglican Church or the head of his own Council for Christian Unity. The first reason is by far the most important, and is the only one necessary. It is simply because the decision to welcome Anglican congregations into the Church was not an ecumenical affair.

Please follow this carefully. The Church’s only possible positive relationship with the Anglican Communion is an ecumenical relationship and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity exists for the purpose of pursuing ecumenical relationships. But the decision to admit under a special jurisdiction those Anglican congregations which want to enter the Church is not a decision about an ecumenical process; it is rather an internal Catholic decision that, for any such congregations, the progress of ecumenism has come to an end. Good relations have been maintained; growth in mutual understanding has taken place; now many Anglicans wish to end their ecumenical relationship with the Church and actually become Catholic.
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Fresh palette: Artists say they're ready to support church's mission


Michelangelo's "Last Judgment" covers the altar wall of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel. How faith and art can collaborate was the subject of a landmark meeting in the historic chapel last weekend between Pope Benedict XVI and artists.
(CNS/Nancy Wiechec)


By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ask and you shall receive. The art world is ready to collaborate with the church in creating inspirational modern art, said some artists who took part in a landmark meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

After decades of disinterest or suspicion, the rapport between art and religion is ready to be restored. If the church wants art to support its mission, all it has to do is call.

"The artist is really at the service of society, but to serve you have to be asked," said John David Mooney, a sculptor and installation artist from Chicago.

Polish film director Krzysztof Zanussi told Vatican Radio that the church has to take the first step in approaching artists and getting to know their work "because it's for sure that artists will never take that step.

"Mooney and Zanussi were among the more than 250 international artists invited by the Vatican in an effort to revitalize dialogue and collaboration between the worlds of faith and art.

For decades the church has expressed a need for beautiful, inspiring modern art for places of worship. It has also lamented society's overload of superficial, indecent or provocative art that fails to speak to the human soul.

In his address in the Sistine Chapel Nov. 21, Pope Benedict said his meeting with artists was "my invitation to friendship, dialogue and cooperation." He urged them to think of themselves as "custodians of beauty."

"Thanks to your talent, you have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement," the pope said, surrounded by Michelangelo's stunning frescoes.

Asking artists to be "heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity," the pope told them to not be afraid to "enter into dialogue with believers" who also see themselves as pilgrims on a journey toward infinite beauty and glory.

In an interview with Catholic News Service Nov. 23, Mooney said the reason why there is so much secular art in the world today is "because the secular world is asking for it."
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury says he's reassured after meeting with Pope

Catholic World News
November 23, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI met on November 21 with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. It was their first meeting since the October announcement of the Pope's plans to welcome Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

However, a brief Vatican announcement released after the meeting made no mention of the Pope's apostolic constitution, saying only that the "cordial discussions" had involved "the challenges facing all Christian communities at the beginning of this millennium." The Vatican statement did say that the Pope had spoken with Dr. Williams about Catholic-Anglican relations, but stressed "the shared will to continue and consolidate the ecumenical relationship," especially through the work of the official ARCIC dialogue.

In his own remarks after the meeting at the apostolic palace, Dr. Williams took a similar line. He said that he had felt obligated to tell the Pontiff that the October announcement had put him "in an awkward position for a time," and embarrassed many Anglican leaders. He said those complaints were "expressed and heard in a very friendly spirit" during his talk with the Pope.

More importantly, Dr. Williams said, he received assurances that although the Pope thought it wise to issue a warm invitation to Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church, that policy "did not represent any change in the Vatican's attitude toward the Anglican communion as such."

Meanwhile in related news, British reports indicated that the Catholic bishops of England and Wales have established a special task force to handle the cases of thousands of Anglicans who are expected to seek entrance into the Catholic Church. The Anglican Bishop John Broadhurst, chairman of the traditionalist group Forward in Faith, said that his group included 1,000 Anglican clerics who were likely to accept the Pope's invitation. Legal questions about the ownership of parish properties could pose the greatest complications.

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

Audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury (VIS)

Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope to 'seek closer ties' (BBC)

Interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (Vatican Radio)

Pope’s bid to win over Anglicans bruised my ego, says Archbishop (Times Online)

Yes, Virginia, there is a future for Anglican/Catholic ties (National Catholic Reporter)

Catholics set up a task force for huge Anglican exodus (Daily Mail)

Pope, Anglican leader pledge to continue dialogue for unity

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While some pundits have sounded the death knell for ecumenical relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, the Anglican spiritual leader, pledged to move forward.

The pope and archbishop met privately at the Vatican for about 20 minutes Nov. 21.

A Vatican statement said the two leaders reiterated "the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans."

And, it said, they discussed the work their representatives were to begin Nov. 23 preparing for a third round of study by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the body for official theological dialogue.

The statement said the two leaders discussed "recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and Anglican Communion," a reference to Pope Benedict's apostolic constitution establishing "personal ordinariates" -- structures similar to dioceses -- for Anglicans who want to enter full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining some of their Anglican heritage.
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See also from CNA, "Vatican official explains that Anglican conversions are fruit of authentic ecumenism."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christ the King brings peace and defeats the 'dominion of death,’ Pope Benedict says




Vatican City, Nov 22, 2009 / 11:05 am (CNA).- In his message on the Feast of Christ the King to the tens of thousands of people gathered on St Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI explained that the "power" of Christ is different from that of "the great of this world." Choosing Christ the King, he said, does not guarantee success, but peace and joy.

"Choosing Christ does not guarantee success according to the criteria of today’s world, but ensures that peace and joy that only He can give,” Pope Benedict added. “This is shown, in every age, by the experience of many men and women who, in Christ's name, in the name of truth and justice, have been able to resist the lure of earthly powers, with their different forms, until their fidelity was sealed with martyrdom.”

The Feast of Christ the King, he continued, is "a celebration of relatively recent introduction, but it has deep biblical and theological roots."

"It begins with the expression ‘King of the Jews' arriving then to that of ‘universal King,’ Lord of the cosmos and of history, so far beyond the expectation of the same Jewish people."

Benedict XVI expounded on the regal power of Jesus: “It is not that of the kings and great of this world, it is the divine power to give eternal life to free us from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of love, which knows how to derive good from evil, soften a hardened heart, bring peace to the bitterest conflict, turn the thickest darkness into hope.”
more...

See also from Asia News, "Pope: choosing Christ the King does not guarantee success, but peace and joy to martyrdom."

Jesus Christ is King: Thanksgiving and Advent

By Deacon Keith Fournier
11/21/2009
Catholic Online (http://www.catholic.org/)

On the Feast of Christ the King we celebrate the full and final triumph and return of the One through whom the entire universe was created and in whom it is being recreated.


Christians mark time by the great events of the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are always moving forward and toward His loving return. We mark our Christian culture with events of importance from the ongoing 'family', history of the Church. The members of that family were birthed from the wounded side of the Savior on the Cross-at Calvary’s hill.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Our Catholic liturgical year follows a rhythmic cycle. It points us toward beginnings and ends and, in so doing, emphasizes an important truth that can only be grasped through faith. This is the Thirty Fourth or last Sunday in the Western Church year and we celebrate the Feast of the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the Sovereign King.

Then, no sooner than we have celebrated the last Sunday of the Year, the feast of Christ the King, we will celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, and begin the time of preparation for the great Nativity of Our Savior. Our Catholic Christian faith and its Liturgical practices proclaim to a world hungry for meaning that Jesus Christ is the “Alpha”, (the first letter of the Greek alphabet) and the “Omega” (the last letter), the beginning and the end. He is the Giver, the Governor and the fulfillment of all time. In Him the whole world is being made new.

Our Liturgical seasons offer us a way to receive time as a continual gift. Their celebration can help us to grow in the life of grace as we say “yes” to their invitations. They invite us to walk with the Lord in a way of life which becomes infused with supernatural meaning. The liturgical seasons help us mark time with those deeper truths that matter most. Human beings have always marked time by significant events. The real question is not whether we will mark time, but how we will do so. What events and what messages are we proclaiming in our calendaring? For the Christian, time is not meant to be a tyrant, somehow ruling over us. Rather, it is to be a teacher, instructing us, a series of invitations to allow the Lord to be our King, to reign in our real, daily lives. Rather than an enemy, time is to be a companion, a friend. It is a path along which the redemptive loving plan of a timeless God is revealed and received. In Christ, time is now given back to us as a gift, a field of choice and a path to holiness and human flourishing.
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See also from Catholic Culture, "Solemnity of Christ the King."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pope and Anglican Primate meet for 20 minutes, say dialogue will continue



Vatican City, Nov 21, 2009 / 12:36 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI and the Anglican Primate Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, have agreed to maintain momentum in the ecumenical dialogue between the two churches despite the fact that the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus will imply the reception of some half a million Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

The Pope received Williams this Saturday morning, and according to a Vatican press release, "in the course of the cordial discussions attention turned to the challenges facing all Christian communities at the beginning of this millennium, and to the need to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness in facing these challenges.

"The private meeting also “focused on recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, reiterating the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans," the press release said.
more...

See also:

From Times Online, "Catholic bishops prepare path for Anglican exodus"

From MSNBC, "Anglican leader tells pope of his 'concerns'"

Pope in Sistine Chapel address encourages international artists to be ambassadors of beauty

Vatican City, Nov 21, 2009 / 02:59 pm (CNA).- Today Pope Benedict XVI extended a warm personal welcome to artists from all over the world who met with him in a private audience hosted at the Sistine Chapel. In a moving address he challenged the artists, as "custodians of beauty," to be "heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity."

Artists from many countries, who represented the gamut of artistic categories including architecture, sculpture, music, dance and film, met with the Holy Father this morning in the Sistine Chapel just off St. Peter's square. Around 250 artists, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, responded to the Holy See's invitation to all professionals in the arts to take part in the event.

The Pope read a moving letter to the group in which he invited the artists to "friendship, dialogue, and cooperation" with the church. Profusely citing a wide variety of artists' interpretations of beauty throughout history and also quoting the particularly art-conscious Popes Paul VI and John Paul II numerous times, Pope Benedict illustrated a simple message very clearly: with their vision and skill, artists have a unique ability to use their vocations to promote beauty in the world, which is a gift from God.
more...

See also from MSNBC, "Pope tells artists beauty can be a path to God."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Researcher: Faint writing seen on Shroud of Turin


AP – FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2000 file photo, The Holy Shroud, a 14 foot-long linen revered by some as the

AP via Yahoo! News
By ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writer – 20 mins ago

ROME – A Vatican researcher has rekindled the age-old debate over the Shroud of Turin, saying that faint writing on the linen proves it was the burial cloth of Jesus.

Experts say the historian may be reading too much into the markings, and they stand by carbon-dating that points to the shroud being a medieval forgery.

Barbara Frale, a researcher at the Vatican archives, says in a new book that she used computer-enhanced images of the shroud to decipher faintly written words in Greek, Latin and Aramaic scattered across the cloth.

She asserts that the words include the name "(J)esu(s) Nazarene" — or Jesus of Nazareth — in Greek. That, she said, proves the text could not be of medieval origin because no Christian at the time, even a forger, would have mentioned Jesus without referring to his divinity. Failing to do so would risk being branded a heretic.

"Even someone intent on forging a relic would have had all the reasons to place the signs of divinity on this object," Frale said Friday. "Had we found 'Christ' or the 'Son of God' we could have considered it a hoax, or a devotional inscription."

The shroud bears the figure of a crucified man, complete with blood seeping from his hands and feet, and believers say Christ's image was recorded on the linen's fibers at the time of his resurrection.
more...

See also from Times Online, "Death certificate is imprinted on the Shroud of Turin, says Vatican scholar"

Next step toward beatification of John Paul II rests with Pope Benedict, says Polish cardinal

Catholic World News
November 20, 2009

During a visit to Argentina, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the longtime personal secretary to Pope John Paul II, said that the next step toward beatification of the late Pontiff was up to Pope Benedict XVI. "We do not want the Pope to rush, he should analyze it properly," the Polish cardinal said. His words seemed to provide indirect confirmation of recent Italian media reports that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has approved a decree testifying to the "heroic virtue" of Pope John Paul. If those reports are true, the decree would now await the approval of Pope Benedict.

In an unrelated comment during a news conference in Argentina, Cardinal Dziwisz confirmed that during the early years of his pontificate, John Paul II would sometimes slip out of the Vatican to spend a day in the mountains. The Pope would travel in disguise, he said, but he and his aides realized that they would have to be more careful when a young Italian boy recognized the Pope on a ski slope.

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

Cardinal Dziwisz says beatification of John Paul II 'is in the Pope’s hands' (CNA)

Beatification looms closer for John Paul II (CWN, 11/17)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Archbishop of Canterbury, in Rome for meeting with Pope, mounts a fighting defense

Catholic World News
November 19, 2009

Two days before he is scheduled to meet with Pope Benedict XVI, the Archbishop of Canterbury made a spirited defense of the Anglican decision to ordain women as priests, and minimized the differences between the Anglican communion and the Catholic Church, in a talk at the Gregorian University in Rome.

Dr. Rowan Williams said that the Anglican communion, with its sharp internal differences on issues such as homosexuality, could offer a model for other Christian churches, by showing that unity is possible despite such doctrinal disagreements. He argued that Christians are bound together by ties that are stronger than their disputes, and suggested that Christian unity could be achieved by, in effect, agreeing to disagree, in order to "maintain a degree of undoubtedly impaired communion."

The Anglican leader applied that principle explicit to relations between Canterbury and Rome, saying that much progress had been made in the past 40 years to defining a common sense of what constitutes the Christian Church. "When so much agreement has been established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the Church, is it justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?" he asked.

The scheduled November 21 meeting between Archbishop Williams and Pope Benedict has been a focal point of attention, in light of the Pope's apostolic constitution inviting Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church. In his speech at the pontifical university, the Archbishop of Canterbury downplayed the importance of the Pope's move, saying that "it is an imaginative pastoral response to the needs of some; but it does not break any fresh ecclesiological ground."

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

Struggling Anglican leader in Rome for papal talks (AP)

Archbishop of Canterbury claims differences between Anglicans and Roman Catholics are not that great (Daily Telegraph)

Rowan Williams urges Rome to rethink position on female bishops (Guardian)

See also from Catholic News Service, "Outreach to former Anglicans not model of ecumenism, archbishop says."

There is an urgent need to reunite faith and culture, Pope tells universities



Vatican City, Nov 19, 2009 / 12:06 pm (CNA).- This afternoon Pope Benedict XVI met with professors and students of Roman Pontifical Universities and discussed the “urgent need, which still persists today, to overcome the separation between faith and culture.”

Speaking as well to participants in the International Federation of Catholic Universities (FIUC), the Holy Father drew from John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution “Sapienta christiana,” which has its 30th anniversary this year, and stated its continued relevance in today's society.

The concepts of “Sapienta christiana,” the Pope continued, “still retain their validity. Indeed in modern society where knowledge is becoming ever more specialized and sectorial but is profoundly marked by relativism, it is even more necessary to open oneself to the wisdom which comes from the Gospel.”
more...

See also from Catholic World News, "Revelation offers a standard for judging knowledge, Pope tells scholars."

Letter #52, from Moscow, Conclusion

insidethevatican - Nov 18, 2009



Fragments of an Analysis

Leaving Moscow

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Moscow

=====================================

"In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe — and enough shadows to blind those who don't." —Blaise Pascal

=====================================

Lights and Shadows

And so it comes to the time of leaving, and of summing up.

Who can sum up Russia? (Photo: St. Basil's Cathedral at the end of Red Square two nights ago.)

I can only offer glimpses, blurry photographs, impressions, fragments of conversations. And yet, these too have their significance.

And from them, one can try to draw conclusions, without pretending that the conclusions are entirely valid, but only that they are possible.

My first thought is: confusion. Not just in Russia, but everywhere.

Russia is not Russia. Or at least, not the Russia I imagined. I imagined "Holy Russia," filled with silent, holy monks and splendid, divine liturgies.
more...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Beauty is a 'fascinating way to approach the Mystery of God,' says Pope Benedict



Vatican City, Nov 18, 2009 / 11:11 am (CNA).- In his catechesis to the 8,000 present during Wednesday's general audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of "the glory of the Christian Middle Ages," the Romanesque and Gothic cathedrals. He described how the early Christians' medieval structures reveal their faith and glorify the Lord.

The Holy Father noted that the Christian faith, “rooted in the men and women of the Middle Ages” inspired “some of the most exalted artistic creations of all civilization.” He explained that in medieval times, the historical conditions were more favorable to artistic creation due to the increase in population, trade and wealth.

These developments enabled the construction of churches where the liturgy could be celebrated with dignity, he added.

One of the novelties of Romanesque churches, Pope Benedict continued, was the introduction of sculptures which, more than seeking technical perfection, "had an educational aim... Their recurring theme was the representation of Christ as Judge, surrounded by the figures of the Apocalypse. In general it is the portals of Romanesque churches that present this image, underlining the fact that Christ is the Door that leads to heaven."
more...

See also:

From Asia News, "Pope: rediscover a path to God in beauty"

From Catholic Culture, "Great medieval cathedrals are 'Bibles of stone,' Pope says"

Santo Subito! Report that Pope John Paul II Will Be Beatified

By Deacon Keith Fournier
11/18/2009
Catholic Online (http://www.catholic.org/)

The process leading to the possible canonization of the Servant of God John Paul II may have taken a major step forward.


The funeral of Pope John Paul II was viewed throughout the world and captivated millions. His life changed the world, the Church and countless lives.

ROME (Catholic Online) - Andrea Tornielli is a frequently cited European Journalist whose reports have sometimes been later denied by the Vatican. He writes for Il Giornale and blogs on Giornale.it. His latest report is creating quite a stir globally, that Pope John Paul II will soon be beatified.

His claim was considered accurate by Catholic News Service (CNS) - and then picked up by other news sources - the “Congregation for the Causes of Saints” has recommended the late Servant of God John Paul II be declared “Blessed”. The CNS report noted that “The Vatican did not deny or confirm that the vote took place because the process is supposed to be secret until Pope Benedict signs the decree recognizing the heroic virtue of his predecessor and declares him venerable”.

The November 16, 2009 report which is the source for all of the other stories was entitled Pope John Paul II "Santo Subito" and was written by Andrea Tornielli in Italian. It is very roughly and very loosely translated below:

*****

“Today is a decisive day. They meet this morning in the Vatican, cardinals and bishops, members of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, called to discuss and then to speak with a vote on the process of the beatification of John Paul II.

The outcome of these meetings can never be taken for granted and last-minute surprises are always possible, as has already happened before when the case was examined by theologians and experts. The need for a second examination was not because there were doubts about the sanctity of the Polish Pope, but because those investigating requested further documentation.

But everything suggests that the outcome will be positive and that the cardinals and bishops, members of what is called "the factory of saints" will make a decision after discussing this with each other. If so, the “Congregation for the Causes of Saints” will put its final approval on the process and recommend the proclamation of the 'heroic virtues "of Pope Wojtyla, which is the final step before the beatification itself.

Such a proclamation, to become effective, must be expressly approved and authorized by Pope Benedict XVI. It would be presented by the Prefect of the Congregation, Archbishop Angelo Amato to Pope Benedict XVI. The materials were prepared to submit for the decree in recent months and that meeting is expected to occur before the end of the year.

If, as expected, today's decision is positive, then by the end of 2009, Pope Benedict’s signature will be placed upon the decree proclaiming the heroic virtues of his predecessor. At that point, there will need only to be the approval of the miracle attributed to the intercession of Karol Wojtyla, one of the many miraculous healings reported after his death by people who turned to him.

The Polish-born prelate Msgr. Slawomir Oder, the postulator of the cause for beatification, has chosen the case of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, stricken with Parkinson's disease that prevented her from working in the maternity ward of a French hospital. She was cured suddenly and inexplicably, after the nuns prayed to the recently deceased pontiff.

It is still premature to suggest dates for the beatification but it could occur in Rome in 2010, in either May or October. It is expected that hundreds of thousands of pilgrims will arrive in Rome, all devoted to Pope John Paul II. As you recall, Pope Benedict XVI, a few weeks after the election and upon the request being made by the Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, agreed to waive the waiting period of five years from the death that canon law establishes as necessary before starting the process of beatification. He thus made possible the immediate start of the case, as had happened a few years before to Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
more...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Details of Pope's Malta Trip Revealed

VALLETTA, Malta, NOV. 17, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Archdiocese of Malta announced the main events of Benedict XVI's visit to the nation, which will commemorate 1,950 years since St. Paul's shipwreck there.

The visit, set for April 17-18, was announced in September. The Maltese bishops, as well as the nation's president, George Abela, had invited the Pope.

"The Pope will arrive in Malta on Saturday afternoon and return to Rome Sunday evening," the archdiocese reported Saturday. "On arrival, His Holiness will hold meetings with the highest Civil Authorities and then visit St. Paul’s Grotto in Rabat.

"On Sunday morning the Pope will celebrate Mass on the Granaries, in Floriana and he will then meet youths at the Valletta Waterfront in the afternoon."

It will be the third trip of a Pontiff to the Mediterranean island nation, including Pope John Paul II's trips in 1990 and 2001.

The visit will celebrate the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck in the archipelago that, according to tradition, occurred in the year 60, during his second voyage toward Rome.

The Apostle of the Gentiles, the Acts of the Apostles says, was welcomed by the local population "with rare humanity."

He remained on the island for three months before setting out for Sicily. Bitten by a viper, he was unaffected, and many islanders who were ill went to him and were healed.

Malta, which won independence from the United Kingdom in 1964, has some 410,000 inhabitants, 98% of whom are Catholic.

Beatification looms closer for John Paul II

Catholic World News
November 17, 2009

The cause for beatification of Pope John Paul II has cleared a crucial hurdle, and the Polish Pontiff could now be beatified with the approval of a miracle through his intercession, according to informed sources at the Vatican.

Respected Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli reported this week that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has voted to approve a decree testifying to the "heroic virtue" of John Paul II. When that decree is officially approved by Pope Benedict XVI, John Paul would acquire the title of "venerable" and would be eligible for beatification as soon as Vatican officials attest to the authenticity of a miracle attributed to his intercession.

The Vatican has neither confirmed nor denied Tornielli's report. However officials have acknowledged that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has met and considered the dossier on John Paul II. The decisions of the Congregation are not ordinarily announced until the Pope ratifies them at an ordinary consistory of the cardinals present in Rome. Such a session would probably place in December.

Several miracles attributed to the intercession of the late Pontiff are already being scrutinized by Church officials. Reported miracles are examined first by a team of Vatican-appointed doctors, who are asked to rule out any possibility of a natural explanation, and then by theologians before being referred to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and ultimately to the Pope for final approval.

Ordinarily the Church does not allow the opening of a cause for beatification until 5 years after the candidate's death. Pope Benedict waived that waiting period in the case of John Paul II, citing his predecessor's worldwide reputation for holiness. If the reports from Rome are accurate, the Vatican might announce plans for the beatification of John Paul II barely 5 years after the late Pope's death.

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

First step taken toward beatification of John Paul II, says Vatican analyst (CNA)

Pope John Paul II's Sainthood on Fast Track (ABC)

Letter #51, from Moscow, Snow

insidethevatican - Nov 17, 2009

Kazan and Fatima

A wise Orthodox bishop, miraculous icon, a night train ride into the snow.....

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Moscow

=====================

The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan

(Note: I left off my last report, Letter #50, from Moscow and Kazan, just before entering the sanctuary in Kazan, Russia, to view the icon of Our Lady of Kazan on Sunday afternoon, November 15. Here is the continuation of that report...)

"Let's go to see the icon," says Father Diogenes. "Dmitri and Maxim are waiting for us there..."
more...

Pope: Christian Unity and the Mission to Evangelize

Catholic Online
11/17/2009
Vatican Information Service

Pope urges the faithful to imitate St. Paul and ‘make good use of today's 'areopaghi', where the great challenges of evangelization are to be found’


Pope Benedict: 'New doors are being opened to the Gospel and a longing for authentic spiritual and apostolic renewal is spreading throughout the world'.

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father to Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, for the plenary assembly of that dicastery, currently being held on the theme: "St. Paul and the new areopaghi".
The reference to the Areopagus in Athens where St. Paul announced the Gospel "represents a pressing call to make good use of today's 'areopaghi', where the great challenges of evangelization are to be found", the Pope writes.

He also highlights how "the missionary activity of the Church must be oriented towards these nerve centers of society in the third millennium. Nor should we undervalue the influence of a widespread relativist culture, usually lacking values, which enters into the sanctuary of the family infiltrating the field of education and other areas of society, contaminating them and manipulating consciences, especially among the young. At the same time however, despite these snares, the Church knows that the Holy Spirit is always at work.

"New doors are being opened to the Gospel and a longing for authentic spiritual and apostolic renewal is spreading throughout the world", the Pope adds. "As in other periods of change, the pastoral priority is to show the true face of Christ. ... This requires each Christian community and the Church as a whole to offer witness of faithfulness to Christ, patiently building that unity He wanted and called for from all His disciples. In fact, Christian unity will make it easier to evangelize and to face the cultural, social and religious challenges of our time".

The Pope concludes his Message with a call "to imitate the lifestyle and the apostolic spirit" of the Apostle of the Gentiles, "focusing entirely on Christ. Through such complete adherence to the Lord, Christians will easily be able to transmit the heritage of faith to new generations, a heritage capable of transforming even difficulties into opportunities for evangelization".

See also from Zenit, "Relativism Seen as Snare for Evangelization."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Letter #50, from Moscow, Kazan

insidethevatican - Nov 16, 2009



"We can help you..."

A holy Catholic priest, a mystical Russian Catholic nun, a wise Orthodox bishop, a miraculous icon. A night train ride into the snow and a talk with the executive director of the St. Gregory Foundation

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Moscow

=====================

Night Train to Kazan

I left off my last report, driving to the train station, and snapping a blurry photo of St. Basil's Cathedral in the rain.

As I rode the overnight train to Kazan, I remembered that St. Basil's Cathedral, on the edge of Red Square, the last thing I saw as I was leaving Moscow, was built to commemorate the victory of Ivan the Terrible over the Tartars of Kazan in the mid-1500s -- more or less the symbolic moment when Russia became a significant power in the world.

It takes 12 and a half hours by train from Moscow to Kazan, about 600 miles almost due east -- halfway to the Ural mountains.

So, if we take the Ural mountains to be the eastern border of Europe, Kazan is hundreds of miles inside Europe.

But Kazan, on the Volga River, is also the gateway to Asia, and to the Middle East.
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Opinion: Called to Courage. Faint of Heart Need Not Apply

By Jennifer Hartline
11/16/2009
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

'There will be no easy paths through these dark days, and no way around it. Our mission is clear: We must be the light in the darkness'


There will be no easy paths through these dark days, and no way around it. Our mission is clear: We must be the light in the darkness. We must set our light high upon the hill and expose the evil that wants to remain hidden. We must tell the world the truth that will set them free. It is Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life; Jesus, the Light of the world.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - Our society is made of bendy, cowardly stuff these days. The travesty at Fort Hood last week is only the latest proof. We're in desperate need of a vaccination, alright, but not for the swine flu. We need a massive shot in the arm of courage to help strengthen us against this rampant virus of godless political correctness.

After this terrible, heartbreaking week, I think if I hear one more person extolling the virtues of diversity I'm going to throw up. Diversity simply for the sake of appearances, for the sake of balanced-looking statistics leads to trouble. What happened at Fort Hood leaves no doubt. Battle-tested men with bars and stars on their chests were reluctant to speak the truth because the pressure of political-correctness was stronger than the threat of violence. 14 people are dead not because there wasn't tight enough security at the front gate, but because a terrorist wearing an Army uniform was protected by a climate of fear.

Even now, that climate of fear is working overtime to squelch the truth and put a palatable spin on the fact that we've been suckered like cowards into pooh-poohing the danger any fool can plainly see because we fear being branded as prejudiced or intolerant. So we cover our eyes and pretend not to see the truth staring us in the face, and deadly things happen.

Pitifully, this is the standard modus operandi now in our society. We're not much interested in the truth anymore; only in making sure we appear to be tolerant, diverse, and “equal” in all things. Here's a newsflash folks: all things are not “equal”, and some choices are always wrong.

To those who salute the flag of godless political correctness, sometimes the words equality, tolerance and choice are actually "code-speak" that disguises a nefarious meaning. Those terms are now used as weapons against anyone who dares to say that something is immoral and wrong. They are thrown like bombs at anyone who won't compromise what they know in their hearts to be right and true.

To the well-meaning yet weak-willed, otherwise commendable concepts like diversity, equality and choice have an attractive glow and they sound good and right, and it's easy to be fooled. But when the death of one person is being sold as the “choice” of another, when the immoral sexual activity engaged in between two men or two women is proclaimed to be “equality”, when appropriate questioning and good judgment are silenced for the sake of a false notion of “diversity”, it's time to wise up and see the wolf beneath the lamb's wool.
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Pope: A new conscience of solidarity to overcome world hunger

» 11/16/2009 14:03
VATICAN-FAO

by Piero Gheddo

Speaking at the FAO International Summit, Benedict XVI said that technical solutions (investment, banking, justice, climate, markets ...) is not enough to help the more than one billion hungry. A conversion to solidarity is needed.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI's speech at the FAO, is a very brief overview of the many problems posed by hunger in the world. There is no easy and immediate solution to the tragedy of a billion and more hungry people. The pope is aware of this and avoids chasing easy platitudes and general accusations about the serious delay in the various "goals" that FAO had established in the recent past. On the one hand he recalls and clarifies his many exhortations on technical issues that we have already encountered in the recent "Caritas in Veritate" (international justice, rich countries investment in agriculture in poor nations, attention to climate change, access to international markets for poor economies, etc.). on the other he insists with particular strength and renewed approach the need to "redefine the concepts and principles that have hitherto governed international relations, in such a way as to answer the question: what can direct the attention and the consequent conduct of States towards the needs of the poorest? ".

The dramatic growth in the number of hungry people is a fact that regards not only world leaders but each and every man and woman, if they have formed a "consciousness of solidarity, which considers food and access to water as a universal right of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination". The pontiff praised the FAO for acting in this way, even enlarging "of the objectives of this right over and above the mere guarantee of satisfying primary needs." The Church has always been at the forefront in the fight against hunger and poverty, creating a "consciousness of solidarity." That is, he states: "only in the name of common membership of the worldwide human family can every people and therefore every country be asked to practise solidarity, that is, to shoulder the burden of concrete responsibilities in meeting the needs of others, so as to favour the genuine sharing of goods, founded on love".

An original speech, new to the environment of FAO, where the technical, economic and trade problems that abet the persistence of hunger in the world are debated, a hunger that has increased despite numerous projects, efforts, funding measures. Benedict XVI does not neglect the practical difficulties of those on the ground in the war against hunger. But in this discourse he is appealing in particular to the consciences of individuals, because he is convinced that the gap between the rich and poor of the world (developed and undeveloped) is so deep, that it cannot be bridged by a certain number of billions of dollars, although it must be made available to those who fight this one war worth fighting. We need a new consciousness of the people, especially young people, to become active participants and we can all help to form it.

The FAO summit is where many subjects and issues that concern governments, international organizations, banks, professional technicians are discussed, with the result that, in my opinion, the nations and individuals following these discussions are almost exclusively reduced to the role of spectators . They are interested but not affected or involved. And yet the scandal of a billion hungry people is a cry of anguish, a clear sign of the failure of the world that we all are helping to build and maintain. It is first and foremost a human problem, a billion men and women like us, not just a technical-economic problem. Pope Benedict thus sets out a "consciousness of solidarity" capable of being the driving force for a decisive breakthrough in the fight against hunger: " Acknowledgment of the transcendental worth of every man and every woman is still the first step towards the conversion of heart that underpins the commitment to eradicate deprivation, hunger and poverty in all their form".

See also:

From CNS, "Luxury, waste are unacceptable when hunger is on the rise, says pope"

From Newsday, "Food summit turns down UN funding appeal"

From MalaysiaNews.net, "We can feed the world despite global warming, says Pope Benedict"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

800,000 Converts from Islam?

Sunday, November 15, 2009, 5:05 PM
The_Anchoress

From my fellow FT’er, comes news that there are, apparently, 800,000 new Muslim converts to Christianity.

Using Google to translate from Dutch to English, from Katholiek Nieuwsblad:

According to official statistics do not exist, but to Repentance in the Arab and Muslim world there is a big wave of Christianity. Catholic Newspaper quotes from it in the next edition Friday a number of the Muslim leaders are very concerned. “There are a disaster taking place within Islam,” said one of them. “He takes place within Islam a disaster,” says one of them. In a country like Sudan knocks the cruelty of the Islamic regime against Christians off many Muslims. In Sudan as a land of cruelty and shot against the Mohammedan regime Christians off many Muslims. 800,000 of them have become Christians. 800.000 of them became Christians.

In all Arab-Muslim countries is prohibited evangelism and conversion to Christianity is punishable by law. In all the Arabic-Mohammedan evangelism is prohibited and Conversion to Christianity country legally punished. Conversions are therefore not officially registered and many dare not openly come out. In Europe: according to Magdi Allam, the Egyptian Muslim in the Easter Vigil of 2008 was baptized by the pope, the continent is in a “new catacombekerk” created. Repentance leg are therefore not officially registered and many are not openly dare to.

Not even in Europe: according to Magdi Allam, Egyptian Moslems, the Easter Vigil in 2008 and was baptized by the Pope, is in the continent “a new catacombekerk created.

Even with the clumsy electronic translation, that seems pretty clear. Though “unofficial” -since conversion to Christianity is punishable by death in much of the Muslim world, including Sudan, where life is very cruel- nearly a million Sudanese Muslims have secretly become Christians. The Easter 2008 baptism of Magdi Allam, by Pope Benedict XVI seems to have been a catalyst for this creation of a new “underground, hidden” church, where these new Christians dare not worship openly.

Let us pray for them, then. The church underground is always the church most vibrantly alive; blessed with heroic faith and watered by the blood of martyrs, it grows deep roots. Something its persecutors never understand. So is the remnant:

The thing about remnants is that they identify themselves after a carpet has been laid or a robe has been cut, not before.

Remnants do not stop a construct from happening…they survive it.

I have read several pieces recently about large numbers of Muslims being “converted” to Christianity after encountering Christ in dreams; the stories are difficult to source, however, given the threatening climate in Islamic countries.
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Jesus Christ’s words are eternal amidst a creation ‘destined to end,’ Pope Benedict says

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2009 / 11:25 am (CNA).- With thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI focused his address on Sunday’s Mass reading from the Gospel of St. Mark. While creation is “destined to end,” he said, Jesus’ words are "eternal."

On the second-to-last Sunday of the liturgical year, Pope Benedict expressed his thanks to God for another year in “the great family of the Church” almost complete: “It is an inestimable gift, which permits us to live in history the mystery of Christ, welcoming in the paths of our personal and communal existence the seed of the Word of God, an eternal seed that from the inside transforms this world and opens it to the Kingdom of Heaven.”

St. Mark, he added, today presents us a part of the discourse of Jesus on the end times: “In this discourse, there is a sentence that is striking for its clear synthesis: ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.’”

The expression “Heaven and earth,” Benedict XVI explained, appears frequently in the Bible to indicate all the universe, the entire cosmos. “Jesus,” he added, “declares that all that is destined to pass away, not only earth, but Heaven, which is included here in the cosmic sense, not as synonymous of God.”

“Sacred Scripture is unambiguous. All creation is destined to end, including elements divinized by ancient mythology. There is no confusion between creation and the Creator, but a clear difference.”
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See also:

From Asia News, "Pope: everything passes away, so accept the Word of God, which bears a seed of eternity"

From Zenit, "Benedict XVI: Entire Universe Will Pass Away"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Letter #49, from Moscow, Foundation

insidethevatican - Nov 14, 2009

"We took it as a sign..."

The Russian Orthodox have set up a vehicle to work with Catholics, Protestants and others to promote traditional Christian values in Europe. It's name: The St. Gregory Foundation

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Moscow

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The Founding

"We were on Mt. Athos on the 11th of August this year, three months ago, and we went to the monastery where are kept the holy remains of St. Gregory Nazianzus the Theologian," Leonid Sevastianov, a young Russian friend, said to me.

"We were on Mt. Athos on the 11th of August this year, three months ago, and we went to the monastery where are kept the holy remains of St. Gregory Nazianzus the Theologian," Leonid Sevastianov, a young Russian friend, said to me.

"The archbishop called me to his side, and together we venerated the relics."

Leonid was referring to Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev, 42, the head of the External Relations Department of the Russian Orthodox Church.

"Just at that precise moment, my cellphone rang. It was Moscow calling. A government official informed me that the St. Gregory Foundation had been registered that morning. Just at that moment! We took it as a sign..."

What Will It Mean?

Since the end of communism in 1991, for 18 years, many Catholic groups have tried to help the persecuted Russian Orthodox Church re-emerge from the catacombs. These groups. like Aid to the Church in Need, based in Koenigstein, Germany, Renovabis and Misereor, the charitable foundations of the German bishops, gave many millions of dollars to support Russian Orthodox clergy in a period when the Russian Orthodox Church was attempting to get "back on its feet" after 70 years of repression.

Now, the Russian Orthodox Church is back on its feet. It's beginning to stretch its legs, and starting to move. But it doesn't want to run this race alone.

Remembering the Communist time, and the two decades since, the Russians say they are prepared to work together with those who did not forget them in times of persecution and suffering. But what type of work?

Seeing the predicament of modern Russia, where divorce rates are high and the abandonment of children a national tragedy, where financial corruption is eating away at the country's social fabric and limiting the chances for Russia to transition from totalitarianism to a more open and free society, the Russian Orthodox Church is developing a two-fold strategy: to renew the Church internally, and to engage the wider society externally, confronting the great human and social problems Russia faces.

On both fronts, but particularly on the second, Archbishop Hilarion and Sevastianov have told me, the Russian Orthodox have now decided to engage with Catholics, and others, in a collaboration which can be compared to an actual alliance against the great social evils of our day, not only in Russia, but also throughout Europe and the world.

Therefore, with the spiritual blessing of Patriarch Kirill (photo meeting Pope Benedict XVI, before Kirill was elected Patriarch early this year) Archbishop Hilarion, working with a team of young Orthodox clergy and laymen, decided to found the St. Gregory Nazianzus Foundation in order to work together with Catholics and others in the West, to support traditional spiritual values in Russia, but also throughout the world,

St. Greory was a theologian in the 300s, well before the division of the Church into East and West, and so is venerated both by the Catholics and by the Orthodox. He is a Father of the Church for all Christians.

The co-founders of this new foundation are Archbishop Hilarion and Vadim Yakunin, one of the wealthiest businessmen in Russia.

Yakunin has made a personal commitment to support the spiritual and social vision articulated by Patriarch Kirill.

Other wealthy Russians are also prepared to support this Foundation. But participation by Americans and Western Europeans would also be very much appreciated.
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