Sunday, January 31, 2010

Pope: Charity is "the badge of a Christian"

» 01/31/2010 13:01

Angelus, Benedict XVI invites prayers for peace in the Holy Land and thoughts for those who have lost their jobs in the economic crisis. World Day of Leprosy Suffers.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - An invitation to join in prayer for peace in the Holy Land and some thoughts on how many are losing their jobs because of the economic crisis, in the words of Benedict XVI to twenty thousand people present in St Peter's Square, despite the rainy day, after the midday Angelus prayer, before the recital of which the pope spoke of charity, as "the badge of Christianity."

Taking a cue from the passage of St Paul in this Sunday’s liturgy, the so-called "hymn of charity”, the Pope stressed that "Paul shows us the 'path' to perfection. This - he says - does not consist in possessing exceptional qualities: speaking new languages, knowing all mysteries, having wonderful faith or carrying out heroic gestures. Rather it consists in charity - agape - that is in true love, what God has revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Charity is the ‘greatest gift’, which gives value to everything else, but it 'does not boast, it is not swollen with pride,' indeed, it 'rejoices in the truth' and the good of others. Who really loves 'does not seek his own interests', he 'takes no account of evil received', he 'bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things' (cf. 1 Cor 13:4-7). Eventually, when we meet face to face with God, all the other gifts will be less; the only one that will remain forever is charity, because God is love and we shall be like Him, in perfect communion with Him."

"For now - he continued - while we are in this world, charity is the badge of a Christian. It is the synthesis of his whole life for what he believes and what he does. For this reason, at the beginning of my pontificate, I wanted to dedicate my first Encyclical to the theme of love: Deus Caritas Est. As you recall, this encyclical is composed of two parts, which correspond to the two aspects of love: its meaning, and therefore its implementation. Love is the essence of God himself, it is the sense of creation and history, it is the light that gives goodness and beauty to every human existence. At the same time, love is, so to speak, the 'style' of God and he who believes, it is the behaviour of those who, responding to the love of God, lays down his own life as a gift of self to God and to neighbour. In Jesus Christ these two aspects form a perfect unity: He is Love Incarnate. This love is revealed to us fully in Christ crucified."

See also:

From CNA, "Love is the ‘greatest gift,’ Pope Benedict declares at Angelus" and "Caravan for Peace' descends on St. Peter's Square for Angelus"

From MSNBC, "Pope urges ‘responsibility’ during tough times"

From Zenit, "On 1 of the Most Beautiful Passages of the Bible": Charity Is the Christian Difference"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Pope: "Love is the style of God and the believer"
January 31, 2010

Pope on crisis: "Decent Work for All
January 31, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pondering Roman collars, the Latin Mass and 'holy ignorance'

National Catholic Reporter
by John L Allen Jr on Jan. 30, 2010
The Future Church

In The Future Church I identify “evangelical Catholicism” as a key trend, defined as a strong reassertion of traditional Catholic identity coupled with an impulse to express that identity in the public realm. At a purely descriptive level that claim is a no-brainer, because the evidence is crystal clear – from revival of the old Latin Mass, to new demands that pro-choice Catholic politicians be brought to heel.

The $64,000 question isn’t whether the trend exists, but what to make of it.

In that regard, a recent book from the famed French sociologist Olivier Roy, widely considered one of Europe’s leading experts on Islam, offers two perspectives worth pondering. One’s empirical in nature and the other analytical – which is to say, one’s essentially a fact of life, the other a debatable line of interpretation.

The book is titled La Sainte ignorance: Le temps de la religion sans culture, published by Editions du Seuil in 2008. An English translation is scheduled for May 2010 from Columbia University Press, under the title Holy Ignorance: When Religion and Culture Diverge.

First, Roy’s empirical point: It’s not just Catholics passing through an evangelical phase. In fact, the revival of traditional identity and the push to proclaim that identity in public is a defining feature of religion generally in the early 21st century.

In Europe, Roy points to the vigorous defense of the public display of crucifixes by Catholics, the insistence of Muslim women upon wearing veils, and a trend among younger Jewish men to wear the kippah at school and in the workplace. On the Christian side of the ledger, he also includes the massive crowds drawn by the World Youth Days instituted under Pope John Paul II, and the more recent “Christian Pride” festivals organized in some European cities as a self-conscious response to “Gay Pride” rallies. Globally, Roy notes the explosive growth of Evangelical and Pentecostal forms of Christianity, the success of Salafism, Tablighi Jamaat and neo-Sufism within Islam, the comeback of the Lubavich movement inside Judaism, as well as the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India and the popularity of Sri Lankan theravada Buddhism.

Though highly distinct, Roy argues that these evangelical strains within the world’s major religions share certain defining features: “The individualization of faith, anti‐intellectualism, a stress on salvation and realization of the self, [and] rejection of the surrounding culture as pagan.”

One can debate the merits of certain items on that list, but in the main Roy’s observation is indisputable: The reassertion of traditional markers of religious identity, interpreted in a personal and evangelical key, is part of the physiognomy of our times far beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church.

Queen's adviser meets Archbishop of Westminster after Pope's offer to Anglicans

A senior adviser to the Queen has met secretly with the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales to express concern over the Pope's offer for disaffected Anglicans to convert to Rome.

Daily Telegraph
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Published: 9:00PM GMT 30 Jan 2010

Archbishop Nichols, pictured, attempted to allay fears over the motivation behind the papal decree when he talked privately with the Lord Chamberlain Photo: GEOFF PUGH

In a highly unusual step, Earl Peel, the Lord Chamberlain, asked Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, to meet him following Pope Benedict XVI's decree.

The Vatican's announcement last year shocked the Church of England and was widely seen as an act of aggression, designed to poach Anglican clergy.

Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that at the time that it had been viewed as "a dawn raid on the Anglican communion".

The Queen, who is the Church's Supreme Governor, was not warned of the move, which has paved the way for priests to enter into full communion with the Holy See.

However, Archbishop Nichols attempted to allay fears over the motivation behind the papal decree when he talked privately with the Lord Chamberlain, who is the most senior official of the Royal Household.

The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that they met at Archbishop's House in Westminster in November, a fortnight after the Pope's offer was made.

The Archbishop reassured Lord Peel that Pope Benedict had only issued the decree in response to the requests of traditionalist Anglicans disillusioned with the liberal direction of their Church.

See also from Catholic World News, "Conservative Anglican group moving toward union with Rome."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Exclusive: Susan Boyle wants to sing for Pope Benedict XVI when he's in Scotland

The Daily Record
Jan 29 2010 By Heather Greenaway

SINGING sensation Susan Boyle wants to perform for the Pope when he visits Scotland.

The Britain's Got Talent winner, a devout Catholic, hopes organisers can make her dream come true when Benedict XVI arrives in September.

Simon Cowel l's brother and confidante Tony revealed her dream last night.

Tony, 59, who has worked closely with SuBo on the Everybody Hurts charity single for Haiti, said: "As Scotland's first lady, she is the obvious first choice.

"It would be a dream come true for her and I know she would drop everything if she was asked to perform for the Pope."

Susan, 48, has worshipped at Our Lady of Lourdes in Blackburn, West Lothian, since she was a child.

She still attends Mass at the church when her busy schedule allows. Parish priest Father Ryszard Holuka said it would be a great honour for the chart topper.

He said: "She is so busy but I'm sure she would love to sing for the Pope."

The Record yesterday broke the news of the first papal visit to Scotland since Pope John Paul II's historic Mass at Glasgow's Bellahouston Park in 1982.

Benedict XVI is expected to address thousands of worshippers at an open-air event at Glasgow Green, during his trip on September 16 and 17.

Vatican archives for WWII era may be opened by 2015

Catholic World News
January 29, 2010

The Vatican’s secret archives for the period of World War II and the papacy of Pius XII should be fully organized and ready for researchers with 5 years, according to the Vatican archivist. Bishop Sergio Pagan told the Italian daily Il Messaggero that only “technical” problems stand in the way of opening the entire collection—involving 16 million documents—to interested scholars.

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

Secret Archives from Pius XII's time to be organized by 2015 (CNA)

Language lessons: New media test Vatican's digital fluency

Screen capture of the homepage of the Vatican's Web site for young people, (CNS/Vatican)

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI recently urged the world's priests to make better use of new media, but in his own backyard the digital revolution is still seen as a mixed blessing.

The Vatican Web site remains largely a repository of printed texts, displayed on pages designed to look like parchment. And despite more than a decade of discussion about making the site interactive, continues to provide information in one direction only: from them to you.

Some Vatican agencies have embraced the digital possibilities, notably Vatican Radio, which offers online broadcasts, podcasts and RSS feeds along with photos and print versions of major stories.

Other departments prefer to fly below the radar. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, for example, has posted exactly one new piece of information on its Web page over the last three years.

The impression that the Vatican is slow on the draw when it comes to Internet possibilities was confirmed recently when a "Vatican" Twitter feed turned out to be someone impersonating the Vatican. It was a fairly innocent case of Twitterjacking, but begged the question: Why doesn't the Vatican have a real Twitter feed?

Among the few Vatican officials willing to tackle these issues head-on is Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. He met with reporters to present the pope's World Communications Day message Jan. 23, which called for better use of new media, and said it held lessons for everyone engaged in church ministry.

"The risk is that our sites will merely be places where information is posted, and not a real meeting ground," he said.

Archbishop Celli has helped prod the Vatican toward more interactivity. Last year, his council designed and launched a special Vatican Web site,, to bring the pope closer to a younger audience. It includes iPhone and Facebook applications, and visitors have used the site to send nearly 300,000 e-cards to their friends, each bearing a snippet of Pope Benedict's teaching.

Last Christmas, invited people to send personal photo-and-text Christmas greetings to the pope, which were then posted to a linked Flickr account. The response was overwhelming, with messages from believers and nonbelievers all over the world. In January, Archbishop Celli was busy putting together a representative selection in dossier form for the pope.

Reject easy annulments, Pope tells Vatican tribunal

Catholic World News
January 29, 2010

Granting easy access to marriage annulments is an offense against both justice and charity, said Pope Benedict XVI on January 29.

The Pope’s message has a particular resonance in the US, whose Catholic Church tribunals account for more than half of the world’s annulment decrees. Pope Benedict, like Pope John Paul II before him, has repeatedly argued for a more vigorous defense of the marital bond.

In an address to the Church’s highest tribunal for marriage cases, the Holy Father warned against “the tendency—widespread and well-rooted though not always obvious—to contrast justice with charity, almost as if the one excluded the other.” He reminded the tribunal’s judges and advocated that the marriage laws of the Church are oriented toward the spiritual welfare of the individuals, and applying those laws properly is itself a work of charity. Ultimately, he reminded them, “the Church's juridical activity has as its goal the salvation of souls.”

“Without truth charity slides into sentimentalism,” the Pope told officials of the Roman Rota, at the opening of its judicial term. “Love becomes an empty shell to be filled arbitrarily. This is the fatal risk of love in a culture without truth.”

Pope Benedict acknowledged that a marriage tribunal comes under pressure to announce the nullity of a marriage, due to “the desires and expectations of the parties involved, or to the conditioning of the social environment.” But he argued strenuously against lowering the standards of canon law in order to “achieve a declaration of nullity at any cost.” He decried the use of pseudo-psychological theories that see any marital problems as evidence of nullity, observing that this approach has the deleterious effect of “transforming all conjugal difficulties into a symptom of a failed union whose essential nucleus of justice-- the indissoluble bond-- is thus effectively denied.”

The Pope went so far as to suggest that tribunals should do their best to save marriages intact whenever that is possible. In most American dioceses, couples are required to file for a civil divorce before submitting an annulment application. But the Pontiff suggest that “effective efforts be made, whenever there seems to be hope of a successful outcome, to encourage the spouses to convalidate their marriage and restore conjugal cohabitation.”

Recognizing that some Catholics who have divorced and remarried want to obtain annulments in order to resume their active membership in the Church, and regain access to the sacraments, the Pope expressed sympathy for their goals but cautioned against offering a “false advantage.” If the first marriage was valid, he reasoned, then the remarried couple is living an objectively immoral situation. Under those circumstances, he said, it is wrong for a tribunal “to ease the way towards receiving the Sacraments, at the risk of causing people to live in objective contrast with the truth of their own individual state.”

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

Justice, Charity and Truth Must Guide the Roman Rota (VIS)

Pope Urges Church to Focus on Saving Marriages (AP)

See also:

From Zenit, "Marriages Should Be Assumed Valid, Says Pope" and "Annulment Isn't a Quick Fix, Says Dean of Rota"

From Catholic News Service, "Pope cautions tribunals against granting annulments too easily"

From "the inside blog," "Pope tells tribunals to get tough on annulments"

From CNA, "Charity, truth and justice must guide Vatican court, states Pope Benedict"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Benedict XVI: Marriage is indissoluable
January 29, 2010

'Why He is a Saint': Postulator's Book Reveals Details of Venerable John Paul II

Zenit News Agency (

'Why He Is a Saint: The True John Paul II Explained by the Postulator of the Cause of Beatification' includes 114 testimonies of the life and holiness of the beloved Pope.

Pope John Paul II was the same in public and in private: 'transparent, sincere, integral,' according to the postulator of his canonization cause.

ROME ( - Pope John Paul II was the same in public and in private: "transparent, sincere, integral," according to the postulator of his canonization cause.

Monsignor Slawomir Oder made this reflection Tuesday when he presented a volume that he has written in collaboration with Saverio Gaeta. It presents more than 100 testimonies related to the Polish Pontiff's cause for canonization.

"Why He Is a Saint: The True John Paul II Explained by the Postulator of the Cause of Beatification" was presented in Rome with a presentation from the leader of the Vatican's saint congregation, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins.

The details in the book that grabbed international attention are regarding the Holy Father's practices of mortification, including flagellation and sleeping on the floor.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins, however, highlighted the depth of the Pontiff's prayer. He confessed how overwhelmed he was by the profundity of the Pope's recollection when he invited someone to dine and the visit began with a silent prayer in the private chapel.

"He was as though absorbed in God," the cardinal said. "He was a man of God and his intense prayer was a true evangelization."

The prelate also pointed out the Pope's profound devotion to Mary and mentioned the "joy," the "happiness" that John Paul II felt in the year 2000, after the beatification of the shepherds of Fatima, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, on May 13.

A witness stated that when asked, "Do you see the Virgin?" the Pope answered, "No, but I hear her." Another witness, though, said John Paul II confided that he "saw" her.

The book notes that the Holy Father had a sweet tooth and has other insights into the Pope's personality: He once answered a religious who expressed her "concern" for "Your Holiness": "I am also concerned about my holiness!"

Monsignor Oder highlighted the Pope's "humanity" and his ability to perceive in all persons "the imprint of God."

And Cardinal Saraiva Martins noted that humanity and holiness are one thing: The more holy one is, the more "human" one is.

A cure

Though John Paul II has already been proclaimed venerable -- Benedict XVI approved the recognition of his heroic virtues in December -- a miracle still needs to be confirmed before his beatification.

See also:

"Pope John Paul on Path to Canonization"

Vatican Expert’s Book Supports Beatification"

Santo Subito! John Paul II Will Be Beatified"

Here Come the Anglicans: Opening Chapter in the Coming Reunion of the Church

By Deacon Keith Fournier
Catholic Online (

This is only the first chapter in the coming reunion of Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Archbishop John Hepworth in Africa where the Traditional Anglican Communion is strong.

CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) – In a beautifully written, theologically astute, historically significant and warmly pastoral letter written to the faithful of the Traditional Anglican Communion, Archbishop John Hepworth invites them to enter into full communion by following the Apostolic Constitution and Norms offered by the Holy See. He concludes his letter (which we reprint in its entirety as a related story below) with this stirring summons:

“I believe with all my heart that this is a work of God and an act of great generosity by Pope Benedict. The Anglican tradition that we treasure will only survive, I believe, across the generations yet to come if it discovers the protection of apostolic authority. It is my cherished wish that each of us can stand at the altar with our fellow Christians and receive the same Eucharistic Christ. That is the ultimate test of unity. In the centuries since the church in the West became fractured there has been no offer such as the one that is now before us.”

When history records this moment, Archbishop John Hepworth of the Traditional Anglican Communion will be a vital part of the story. Men of prophetic stature are never perfect, they are humble and holy. They simply show a willingness to be perfected by the Lord whom they love. They allow the mistakes and difficulties of life to become the tutors of time. They respond in their brokenness to the invitation of history being written by the One who broke into history to transform it from within. Archbishop Hepworth has done that throughout this historic process.

I have followed the formal request of the Traditional Anglican Communion for full communion with the Catholic Church from the very beginning. I persisted in covering it after many news sources, including Catholic ones, dismissed the possibility that it would ever bring a positive response from Rome. We are dedicated to an authentically Catholic vision of ecumenism which recognizes the need for visible unity, with legitimate diversity, within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Well, the overture received more than a favorable response; it opened up the front door of the House. Such a welcome surprised many observers. Reading Archbishop Hepworth’s letter provides insights into why the Holy Father, inspired by the Holy Spirit, responded in such an historic manner. The original petition to Rome for full communion has never been released. It has now been made available by the Archbishop. We include the full text as a related article below this story. The petition was a work of the Holy Spirit, an example of humility and an act of love for the Lord and His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church by these Christians of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

See also:

"Full Text of Archbishop Hepworths Letter"

"Apostolic Constitution: 'Anglicanorum Coetibus'"

"Norms for the Apostolic Constitution"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mary, the 'Woman' of the Bible, Calls all Women to Follow Jesus

By Sonja Corbitt
Catholic Online (

What I found in the Catholic Church was the unique dignity of 'woman' for she is personified in 'The Woman', Mary, the Mother of the Lord.

When I converted - or as we are encouraged to say, came into the full communion of the Catholic Church - I was bombarded by well-meaning Protestant wives who rebuked me for stepping out from under my “husband’s authority” and following my conscience into the Catholic Church.

BETHPAGE, TN (Catholic Online) - May I say that I am utterly disgusted with inane TV sitcoms that habitually present men as dazed, beer guzzling, bosom scrutinizing oafs who can hardly string two intelligent sentences together, and “progressive” female politicians who claim to speak and “fight” for me as a woman?

Granted, I’ve had my “feminist” difficulties with religion and church, my insecurities stemming from male domination in childhood. I understand that baby boomer women have an inherent suspicion of some authority structures and the men who crafted them. I get that.

I appreciate their tirelessness in providing me with the luxury of the vote, the sight of the horizon above the glass ceiling, a job that earns my own money and an education consisting of more than the minutiae of home economics. I celebrate those accomplishments on my behalf and try not to take them for granted.

Woman Oppressed

I remember the perceived insult of what is sometimes called the “Scriptural idea” that woman was somehow a creative afterthought to man. The claim was that I seemed to exist to assuage his lonely fear and to merely help him while he alone has the capability and right to do all the doing that gets done.

Its proponents misquote this verse from the first book of the Bible, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’” (Gen. 2:18). I remember wondering why I must always be a “helper” rather than a “doer” in my own right.

Additionally, when teaching the Galatians about one of the most important events in salvation history, St. Paul called the mother of Jesus “woman” rather than by her name, "Mary." "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his son, born of woman" (Gal. 4:4). This once bothered me. I thought he was only following Jesus’ example: “When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me?" (Jn. 2:3-4). This sounded like marginalization of women to my sensitive ear.

I heard the argument that the Catholic Church oppressed women all the time. As a convert to that Catholic Church the only response I have ever been able to manage to that is simply “What?!” However, I knew from my own experience that there are strains of Protestantism that are simply archaic by comparison to the Church.

When I converted - or as we are encouraged to say, came into the full communion of the Catholic Church - I was bombarded by well-meaning Protestant wives who rebuked me for stepping out from under my “husband’s authority” and following my conscience into the Catholic Church. Paul’s exhortation, intended to deal with a pastoral problem in Ephesus, was misused as a weapon against me. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22) In fact it was wielded against me like a club until I was sorely bruised.

As a Protestant teacher, I had been constantly reprimanded by curious men who found themselves in my religion classes for the very fact that I was teaching the Bible, until one precious pastor defended me. After all, some evangelical Protestants claim that women can only teach other women or children, should not voice opinions in church, and when they want to know something about God they should ask their husbands.

Woman Raised

Conversely, what I found in the Catholic Church was the unique dignity of “woman,” for she is personified in “The Woman”, Mary, the Mother of the Lord. The previous examples from St. Paul and Jesus echo Genesis 3:15 where “the woman” is first seen at the center of salvation: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

The God who previously “spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days has spoken to us by a Son" (Heb. 1:1-2), fulfills the prophecy and comes as a man "born of woman," a final, eternal, saving revelation. The final Word, came from a woman.

“This is the eternal and definitive Covenant in Christ, in his body and blood, in his Cross and Resurrection. Precisely because this Covenant is to be fulfilled "in flesh and blood" its beginning is in the Mother” (Mulieris Dignitatem, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”, John Paul II).

Pope encourages pontifical academies to address cultural problems

Vatican City, Jan 28, 2010 / 11:34 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the Pontifical Academies in the Clementine Hall on Thursday morning, following their 14th annual public session a day earlier. Reminding them of the importance of keeping up to date with the contemporary culture and maintaining a degree of "originality" in their research, he called for them to look to the figure of St. Thomas Aquinas for inspiration.

Addressing the 300 members present from seven academies, the Holy Father congratulated them on their "glorious past" and then pointed out that at the present time "contemporary culture, and even more so believers themselves, continually petition the Church to concentrate her reflections and actions in those fields in which new problems emerge.”

Members of the academies, the Pope reminded, "are called to offer a qualified, competent and passionate contribution, so that all the Church... can offer occasions, language and of adequate means to dialogue with contemporary culture and respond effectively to the question and to the challenges that face her in the different areas of knowledge and human experience."

Pontifical academies approach questions concerning everything from philosophical and theological research to reflection on the figure of Mary, the heritage of the Christian witness and artistic creativity.

"As I have said before," continued Pope Benedict, "today's culture is strongly influenced by a vision dominated by relativism and subjectivism and by methods and attitudes that are sometimes superficial and even banal." These, he said, "damage the seriousness of study and reflection and, consequently, also dialogue, exchange and interpersonal communications."

Ordinary Time: January 28th

Catholic Culture
Memorial of St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor
Old Calendar: St. Peter Nolasco, confessor

Daily Readings for:
January 28, 2010
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: God our Father, you made Thomas Aquinas known for his holiness and learning. Help us to grow in wisdom by his teaching, and in holiness by imitating his faith. Grant 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.

St. Thomas Aquinas is the Dominican order's greatest glory. He taught philosophy and theology with such genius that he is considered one of the leading Christian thinkers. His innocence, on a par with his genius, earned for him the title of "Angelic Doctor".

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, St. Thomas' feast was celebrated on March 7.

Today is the feast of St. Peter Nolasco, who was born in southern France. After the death of his wealthy parents, he spent his inheritance in Barcelona to rescue Christians enslaved by the Moors. He formed a lay confraternity, which later developed into the religious order of the Mercedarians, and led his fellow workers into Moorish territory to purchase the freedom of Christian captives, and to make numerous conversions among the non-Christians. Later Peter's Mercedarians labored among the Indians of the far-flung Spanish American Empire.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas ranks among the greatest writers and theologians of all time. His most important work, the Summa Theologiae, an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. At the Council of Trent it was consulted after the Bible.

To a deeply speculative mind, he joined a remarkable life of prayer, a precious memento of which has been left to us in the Office of Corpus Christi. Reputed as great already in life, he nevertheless remained modest, a perfect model of childlike simplicity and goodness. He was mild in word and kind in deed. He believed everyone was as innocent as he himself was. When someone sinned through weakness, Thomas bemoaned the sin as if it were his own. The goodness of his heart shone in his face, no one could look upon him and remain disconsolate. How he suffered with the poor and the needy was most inspiring. Whatever clothing or other items he could give away, he gladly did. He kept nothing superfluous in his efforts to alleviate the needs of others.

After he died his lifelong companion and confessor testified, "I have always known him to be as innocent as a five-year-old child. Never did a carnal temptation soil his soul, never did he consent to a mortal sin." He cherished a most tender devotion to St. Agnes, constantly carrying relics of this virgin martyr on his person. He died in 1274, at the age of fifty, in the abbey of Fossa Nuova. He is the patron saint of schools and of sacred theology.

See also from the National Catholic Reporter, "Jan. 28, St. Thomas Aquinas."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pope marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

Catholic World News
January 27, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI called attention to Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, recalling the “unprecedented cruelty” of the Nazi extermination campaign and praying during his regular weekly audience that “such tragedies never happen again.” Speaking on the anniversary of the day in 1945 when the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated, the Holy Father said that “the tragedy of the Shoah has struck the Jewish people,” and the “countless victims of a blind racial and religious hatred” should today bear witness to the need to respect every human person.

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

Pope denounces 'horror' of Holocaust on Remembrance Day (AP)

Pope Remembers the Victims of the Holocaust (VIS)

Pope remembers victims of the Holocaust and those who risked their lives to defend Jews

» 01/27/2010 13:19

In his General Audience Benedict XVI illustrated the figure of St. Francis, an icon of Christ, a model of dialogue with Muslims, who acted in union with the Church. "The sense of universal brotherhood and love of creation." Even peace building is linked to respect for nature.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Today, Holocaust Memorial Day, we remember "the horror of crimes of unprecedented cruelty, committed in the extermination camps established by Nazi Germany," especially the planned annihilation of the Jews "and also how many" risked their lives, to protect the persecuted, opposing the murderous folly. " The "innumerable victims of blind racial and religious, hatred who suffered deportation, imprisonment, death in those aberrant and inhuman places " were remembered today by Benedict XVI who prayed that "the memory of these facts, particularly the tragedy of the Holocaust that affected the Jewish people, will inspire an increasingly convinced respect for the dignity of every person, that all men perceive themselves to be one great family. Almighty God enlighten hearts and minds, so that such tragedies never happen again. "

In remembering the Holocaust the Pope concluded his general audience today, during which he highlighted the life and legacy of St. Francis, a "giant of holiness," "truly living icon of Christ," who "continues to fascinate people of faith and those without" and who still today is an example of how dialogue with Muslims should be conducted, "in truth, in mutual respect and mutual understanding. Not only, St Francis is also " a model for priests and the precursor of just love for Creation”.

Francis, recalled Benedict XVI, was born in 1181 in Assisi, to a rich family. He enjoyed a "light-hearted adolescence and youth, spent nurturing the chivalrous ideals of time" and he also took part in a war. His capture by the enemy was the beginning of a "slow process of spiritual renewal " that led him to abandon his previous life. Recalling in particular the episode of the crucifix in the church of Saint Damien which spoke to him three times, saying, 'Go and repair my house which, as you see, is in ruins ", Benedict XVI spoke of "deep symbolism. Initially Francis was called to repair that little church, a dramatic symbol of the state of the Church of the thirteenth century which did not believe and did not form life”. The inner destruction of the Church was also the unity destroyed by heretical movements. However in that ruined church the crucifix stands in the middle, saying to Francis "renew the Church of Christ with his radical faith and his love for the Gospel."

See also:

From Catholic Culture, "Pope offers St. Francis as model for spiritual renewal"

From CNA, "
Pope holds up St. Francis as model for Christian-Muslim dialogue" and "Pope Benedict remembers Holocaust victims"

From Catholic News Service, "St. Francis is model of dialogue, respect for creation, pope says"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

"St. Francis: Innovator with and not against the Pope"
January 27, 2010

Pope: Remember the Shoah and respect every person
January 27, 2010

Benedict's Revolution: The Return of the Old Latin Mass

Inside Catholic
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

When the secular media suddenly start talking about Catholic liturgy, something is afoot in the life of the Church. By the second year of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate, that's exactly what happened. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report -- the subject was everywhere.

The reason for all this attention was the pope's long-awaited motu proprio that would make the traditional Latin Mass of the pre-conciliar Church (or the 1962 Missal) more widely available. That used to be considered a dangerous idea. It's now mainstream.

The consensus today -- which echoes the conclusion of a blue-ribbon commission of cardinals in 1986 -- is that although Pope Paul VI had devoutly wished that the new missal would supplant the old, no action officially suppressing the traditional liturgy was ever taken, and thus the old missal, even if largely eclipsed in practice, has continued to be a living part of the Church these past four decades.

This is the view of -- among other Vatican officials -- Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission and former prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and Jorge Cardinal Medina Estévez, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It also happens to be the view of Benedict, who noted in his letter to bishops that "this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted." The 1986 Commission added that any priest ought to be able to choose which missal he wanted to use. Initially sympathetic, Pope John Paul II ultimately shelved the idea.

What We Lost

With the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the idea of freedom for the old missal -- and not just the Mass but all the sacraments, and even the old Breviary -- is back.

The secular media, so often wrongheaded and hostile when it comes to the Church, were correct to sense that Benedict's desire to bring back the traditional liturgy was something momentous. Still, some managed to get the issue entirely wrong: Some people want "Mass in English," they report, but others want "Mass in Latin." But the issue at stake has never been merely one of language. It is a question of two different liturgical books and two different ways of saying Mass.

Benedict's move is an act of generosity, justice, and simple common sense. When the Church possesses something of priceless worth like the Missal of St. Pius V -- which is itself the consummation of centuries of gradual development -- and when some of her faithful seek to nourish their souls at its copious font of grace, who could be so petty as to deny it to them?

Countless figures of prominence recognized what the Church was losing in the old rite. When nearly four decades ago it seemed as if the traditional Latin Mass would never be heard from again, a group of British intellectuals, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, issued a protest to the pope urging him not to carry out such a terrible offense against Europe's cultural patrimony. Signatories included Agatha Christie, Graham Greene, and Malcolm Muggeridge. It read, in part:

If some senseless decree were to order the total or partial destruction of basilicas or cathedrals, then obviously it would be the educated -- whatever their personal beliefs -- who would rise up in horror to oppose such a possibility. Now the fact is that basilicas and cathedrals were built so as to celebrate a rite which, until a few months ago, constituted a living tradition. We are referring to the Roman Catholic Mass. Yet, according to the latest information in Rome, there is a plan to obliterate that Mass by the end of the current year . . . . The rite in question, in its magnificent Latin text, has also inspired a host of priceless achievements in the arts -- not only mystical works, but works by poets, philosophers, musicians, architects, painters and sculptors in all countries and epochs. Thus, it belongs to universal culture as well as to churchmen and formal Christians.

'The Pope Is the First Among the Patriarchs.' Orthodox/Catholic Dialogue Advances?

By Sandro Magister
Chiesa (

Have the Orthodox agreed to discuss the primacy of the bishop of Rome according to the model of the first millennium?

Relations with the Orthodox Churches have never been so promising as they have since Joseph Ratzinger has been Pope.

ROME (Chiesa) – On Monday evening, January 25, 2010, with vespers in the basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, Benedict XVI closed the week of prayer for Christian unity.

There are some who say that ecumenism has entered a phase of retreat and chill. But as soon as one that looks to the East, the facts say the opposite. Relations with the Orthodox Churches have never been so promising as they have since Joseph Ratzinger has been pope.

The dates speak for themselves. A period of chill in the theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches of Byzantine tradition began in 1990, when the two sides clashed over so-called "uniatism," meaning the ways in which Catholic communities of the Eastern rites duplicate in everything the parallel Orthodox communities, differing only by their obedience to the Church of Rome.

In Balamond, in Lebanon, the dialogue came to a halt. It hit an even bigger obstacle on the Russian side, where the patriarchate of Moscow could not tolerate seeing itself "invaded" by Catholic missionaries sent there by Pope John Paul II, who were all the more suspect because they were of Polish nationality, historically a rival.

The dialogue remained frozen until, in 2005, the German Joseph Ratzinger ascended to the throne of Peter, a pope highly appreciated in the East for the same reason he prompts criticisms in the West: for his attachment to the great Tradition.

First in Belgrade in 2006, and then in Ravenna in 2007, the international mixed commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches started meeting again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pope John Paul II considered and rejected resignation, postulator reports

Catholic World News
January 26, 2010

Pope John Paul II once told his doctor that “there is no place in the Church for a ‘Pope Emeritus,’” according to the Polish priest. Msgr. Slavomir Oder, the postulator of the cause for beatification of the late Polish Pope, told the Italian ASCA news agency that Pope John Paul had studied the question of resignation, and concluded that he could not step down.

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

Wojtyla: Postulatore, Malato Aveva Gia Firmato Lettera Dimissioni (ASCA)

“There is no place in the Church for a Pope Emeritus” (Translation by Father Z)

Pope John Paul practiced self-mortification, postulator confirms

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator for the sainthood cause of Pope John Paul II, presents his new book on the late pope in Rome Jan. 26. (CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope John Paul II always took penitence seriously, spending entire nights lying with his arms outstretched on the bare floor, fasting before ordaining priests or bishops and flagellating himself, said the promoter of his sainthood cause.

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator of the late pope's cause, said Pope John Paul used self-mortification "both to affirm the primacy of God and as an instrument for perfecting himself."

The monsignor spoke to reporters Jan. 26 at the launch of his book, "Why He's a Saint: The Real John Paul II According to the Postulator of His Beatification Cause."

Earlier in the day, two Italian news Web sites reported that an October date had been set for Pope John Paul's beatification, but Msgr. Oder said nothing could be confirmed until physicians, theologians and cardinals at the Congregation for Saints' Causes accept a miracle credited to the late pope's intercession and Pope Benedict formally signs a decree recognizing it.

All Christians obligated to work toward unity, Pope stresses

Catholic World News
January 26, 2010

At an ecumenical prayer service closing the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on January 25, Pope Benedict XI said that the pursuit of full union among Christ’s followers “is not just a task for the few.” He exhorted all Christians to be mindful constantly of the need for unity, which is “a gift to be implored from God.”

The Church’s task of evangelization is hampered, the Pope said, by “the contradiction of division” among the faithful. True unity, he said, is “a particularly important prerequisite for a more credible and effective witness.” That witness is particularly needed today, he continued, "in a world characterized by religious indifference and even by a growing aversion towards the Christian faith.”

Acknowledging that theological disputes still separate Christians, the Pope said that a commitment to prayer and dialogue is needed to overcome those obstacles. Meanwhile, he said, the faithful can join in proclaiming “a content of Christ's message that we can announce together: the paternity of God, Christ's victory over sin and death with His cross and resurrection, and trust in the transforming action of the Spirit.”

Christians can and should also work together on matters of public interest, the Pope said, citing “protecting creation, promoting peace and the common good, defending the centrality of the human person, and the commitment to defeat the poverties of our time such as hunger, indigence, illiteracy and the unequal distribution of wealth.”

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

Commitment to Christian Unity Is a Task for Everyone (VIS)

See also:

From CNA, "Pope asks for constant prayers for Christian unity" and "Pope invites Christians to join in 'new, intense evangelization'"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

May we all be one so that the world may believe
January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Benedict XVI Defended Against Media Falsehoods

Bernard-Henri Lévy Decries Spread of Disinformation

NEW YORK, JAN. 25, 2010 ( A leading French philosopher and writer published a defense of Benedict XVI in the Huffington Post, affirming that much of the media has been spreading disinformation about the Pope.

"It is time to put an end to the disingenuousness -- the bias, in a word -- and the disinformation concerning Benedict XVI," said Bernard-Henri Lévy in his article, published Sunday.

The writer, of Jewish decent, stated that "texts have been quite simply distorted, regarding his trip to Auschwitz in 2006, for example, where it was asserted […] that he paid homage to the 6 million Polish dead, victims of a mere 'band of criminals' without mentioning that half of them were Jews."

"The falsehood is downright staggering," Lévy asserted, "considering that, on that day, Benedict XVI plainly spoke of the attempt of the 'powerful of the 3rd Reich' to 'eliminate the Jewish people' from the 'ranks of the nations of the earth.'"

The writer addressed the topic of the Pontiff's recent visit to the Synagogue of Rome, and the "chorus of disinformers" who reported negatively on this event.

He acknowledged the Holy Father's gestures and words as he paid tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and underlined the Church's commitment to build relations with the Jews.

Lévy also defended the role of Pope Pius XII in standing up for Jews against the Nazis. He stated, "We owe it to historical accuracy to point out that, before engaging in clandestine action, opening -- without saying so -- his convents to Roman Jews hunted by the fascist bullies, the 'silent' Pius XII made a number of speeches broadcast by radio."

"It's especially surprising," the writer noted, "that we place the entire weight of responsibility for the deafening silence concerning the Shoah that echoed throughout the world, or nearly all, upon the shoulders of a Sovereign of the time who had neither cannons nor aircraft at his disposal" who "went to great lengths, most historians tell us, to share with others who were informed the knowledge available to him" and "who in fact saved a great many of those he was morally responsible for, in Rome, but elsewhere as well."

Lévy concluded that "one can be both Pope and scapegoat."

Who’s tweeting for the Vatican?

CNS Blog
Posted on January 25, 2010 by John Thavis

VATICAN CITY — Over the weekend some media announced that the Vatican had opened a Twitter feed. Intrigued, I quickly went to @vatican_va on Twitter. At first glance, it looked like the Vatican — there was the Vatican coat of arms, the Vatican flag and a link to the Vatican Web site. And hundreds of tweets in many languages, linking to Vatican Radio stories.

Then I e-mailed Father Federico Lombardi, who heads both the Vatican press office and Vatican Radio. I got a response rather quickly, and a surprising one. He said the Twitter feed was news to him, and that neither the press office nor Vatican Radio was doing the tweeting. A call to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications elicited a similar response: it wasn’t them, and they didn’t know who it was.

Hmmm. This was beginning to look more and more like online impersonation. Perhaps not the first, either: I knew there was already a @vaticanen Twitter feed that also identified itself as “Vatican” without, as far as I knew, any authorization.

A few more calls around the Vatican this morning elicited more surprise and some concern. I have the impression that Vatican Radio may be seriously considering a Twitter feed, and doesn’t like being hijacked like this.

At this point, no one I’ve spoken with here has any idea who’s tweeting for the Vatican. More as it develops…

See also from the Catholic Key Blog, "Vatican Twitter Feed Looks Like Computer Generated Hoax."

Pope decries 'aversion' to Christians

Pope Benedict XVI, left, walks in procession upon his arrival at St. Paul Outside the Walls' Basilica in Rome, Monday, Jan. 25, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI says the world is marked by religious indifference and is decrying what he calls a "growing aversion" to Christians. The pontiff is also urging Christians to overcome their differences through dialogue so that they can unite their efforts to influence debates in society on ethical issues like abortion, euthanasia and the limits of science and technology. Benedict was leading a Vespers service Monday evening in Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The occasion drew to a close a week that the Vatican each year dedicates to prayers for Christian unity. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Boston Globe
January 25, 2010

ROME—Pope Benedict XVI decried Monday what he called "growing aversion" to the Christian faith in the world.

The pontiff in his homily in a Rome basilica didn't single out any geographic area, but his worry about the plight of the Christian minority in the Middle East will shape discussions Mideast bishops will hold later this year at a special meeting at the Vatican.

The Vatican has repeatedly expressed concern about the flight of Christians from the overwhelmingly Muslim region as well as about the religious discrimination that many of those who remain are suffering.

Benedict urged Christians to invigorate efforts to spread their faith's message despite what he described as the unfriendly climate to Christianity in parts of the world.

'"In a world marked by religious indifference and even by a growing aversion toward the Christian faith, a new, intense activity of evangelization is necessary," the pope said.

He urged Christians to overcome their differences through dialogue so that they can unite their efforts to influence debates in society on ethical issues like abortion, euthanasia and the limits of science and technology.

Benedict was leading a Vespers service in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to mark the end of a week that the Vatican each year dedicates to prayers for Christian unity.

The pontiff has made better relations among Christians an important aim of his papacy.

Despite that goal, relations with Anglicans were strained last year when Benedict made it easier for the conversion to Roman Catholicism by traditionalist Anglicans who are disillusioned by their own church's embrace of gay priests, blessing of same-sex marriages and women clergy.

See also from Catholic News Service, "Christians must unite in bringing Gospel values to world, pope says."

Pope Benedict's 'Travels' released

Vatican City, Jan 24, 2010 / 05:15 pm (CNA).- The book, “The Travels of Benedict XVI in Italy,” was released on Thursday evening in a reception at the Italian Embassy in Vatican City. During the presentation of the volume, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco referred to it as the representation of the "untiring pastoral mission of Pope Benedict XVI."

The edition follows the Holy Father on his 16 pastoral visits to 20 cities around Italy, while it also documents his travels to important sites within the city of Rome.

"The Travels of Benedict XVI in Italy" includes pictures from each of the visits and addresses, including homilies, given by the Pope and others in welcoming him on such occasions.

According to the Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the volume seeks to "witness the very particular rapport between the Bishop of Rome and Primate of Italy with our Country, as well as the work of all those who institutionally collaborate in the organization of the visits."

Letter #2, 2010

insidethevatican - Jan 25, 2010

A Leader Emerges

In America, the annual March for Life has become an international event. At the dinner following the march, the keynote address was delivered by a powerful new voice on the American scene. But first, Haiti...

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from America


Tragedy in Haiti

Benedict XVI has written to Haitians to say the Church will do everything possible to contribute to the country's reconstruction following the terrible January 12 earthquake.

The Pope wrote to Haiti's president, René Préval, and the head of the country's bishops' conference, Archbishop Louis Kébreau of Cap-Haitien.

Both messages, released Saturday by the Vatican press office, affirmed the Pope's sorrow for the quake victims and his nearness to the survivors.

The Haitian authorities have reported 111,500 people have died thus far, with another 193,891 injured, and some 3 million people displaced.

"I pray that the spirit of solidarity will live in the hearts of all and that calm will reign in the streets," Benedict wrote, "so that the generous aid that is arriving from all countries will bring relief to all and the people who today have lost everything will be comforted in knowing that the entire international community is taking care of them in concrete ways."

In Haiti yesterday, January 23, a funeral Mass was celebrated for Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince, who died when the impact of the quake hurled him from a balcony. Also remembered was Msgr. Charles Benoit, the vicar general, whose body was pulled lifeless from the cathedral debris.

In a message, Chicago Cardinal Francis George, the US bishops' conference president, told Haitians, "The Church in the United States stands with you. In our prayer, we recall that Jesus, too, wept before the tomb of one whom he loved. With you, we recall in trust that He is the resurrection and the life, offering Himself to us and calling us to Himself, even in our darkest hour."


Huge Pro-Life March in Washington DC Ignored By Media

It was a dramatic sight: tens of thousands of Americans -- and foreigners -- marching peacefully through the streets of Washington DC on behalf of life on Friday, January 22.

It took about two hours for all the marchers to make the hike from the center of the Mall to the Supreme Court building, about 50 abreast across the main avenues of Washington. Some think there were half a million people present.

In America, the annual January 22 "March for Life" in Washington has become well known for two things.

First, it is big -- of the largest public gatherings in the country, year after year, with crowds numbering at least 200,000.

Second, it is ignored -- the country's mainstream media consistently downplay the size and significance of the March. Sometimes they don't mention it at all. Or, if they do mention it, they give "equal time" to the 250,000 marchers and a group of 40 or 60 opponents of the March for Life who also turn out each year.

But media silence cannot fully blot out reality.

And the reality is that, despite inadequate reports of its existence, one of the largest mass movements in America is continuing, and even growing, after 37 years.

Pope Calls His Priests to the Internet

By Randy Sly
Catholic Online (

Pope Benedict has called his pastors to actively use the new communications media to preach the gospel.

'Who better than a priest, as a man of God....can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today’s world'

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) – In preparation for the 44th World Communication Day in May, Pope Benedict XVI officially released his message entitled, “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word,” on Sunday, January 24, the Feast of St. Francis de Sales.

Using the Feast of the Patron Saint for writers and journalists, the Holy Father has called his pastors to become “leaders of communities” online in the new digital marketplace.

“Who better than a priest, as a man of God,” the Pope said, “can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today’s world and presenting the religious wisdom of the past as a treasure which can inspire our efforts to live in the present with dignity while building a better future?”

Pope Benedict has long recognized the importance of technology. For World Communication Day in 2008, he wrote, “We must ask, therefore, whether it is wise to allow the instruments of social communication to be exploited for indiscriminate “self-promotion” or to end up in the hands of those who use them to manipulate consciences.

“Should it not be a priority to ensure that they remain at the service of the person and of the common good, and that they foster ‘man’s ethical formation … man’s inner growth’?

“Their extraordinary impact on the lives of individuals and on society is widely acknowledged, yet today it is necessary to stress the radical shift, one might even say the complete change of role, that they are currently undergoing.”

This year’s message underscored the understanding that today’s marketplace in found on the World Wide Web. Just as his pastors have been called to walk the streets of God’s cities, they are now being deployed to the virtual communities of the Internet.

The Pope stated, “Thanks to the new communications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, say once more: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.’ (Rev 3:20).

This call may be received by some pastors with a sense of horror. Many have seen avoidance of social media and technology as a badge of honor. “I believe moderation is still the key for people – especially our youth – when it comes to involvement with technology,” one pastor stated. “I believe God has called us to use this medium, however, as a tool for evangelism.”

The Pontiff’s message underscored this perspective. “Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis.”

See also:

Popes Letter Telling Priests to Go Online

Internet 2009 in numbers

A New Missionary Age

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Christian unity makes Gospel proclamation more credible and effective, says Pope

» 01/24/2010 13:04

Benedict XVI recalls tomorrow celebration of Vespers in the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, along with representatives of Christian Churches of Rome, concluding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists and his message for World Day for Social Communications.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "The communion of Christians ... makes the proclamation of the Gospel more credible and effective, as Jesus himself said praying to the Father on the eve of his death:" That we may be one ... so that the world may believe " (John 17:21) ": This is how Benedict XVI explained the meaning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, celebrated this week (18-25 January). Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square for the Angelus, the pope recalled that the week will conclude tomorrow with the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul and as tradition, he will preside at Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in the company of representatives Christian Churches of Rome. "Invoking God - he said - the gift of full unity of all Christ's disciples and, in particular, under this year’s theme, renewing the commitment to witness together to the crucified and risen Lord (cf. Lk 24 48)”.

On the theme of unity, Benedict XVI had previously paused to comment on today’s reading of St. Paul to the Corinthians, (1 Cor. 12, 12-31), in which Paul likens the Church to the human body . "The Church - explained the pope - is conceived as a body of which Christ is the head, and which is one in Him. However what the Apostle wants to communicate is the idea of unity in the multiplicity of charisms, which are the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to them, the Church presents itself as a rich and vital organization, not a uniform one, fruit of the Spirit which leads us all to a profound unity, assuming diversity without abolishing it and creating of it a harmonious whole. The charisms and ministries spread throughout the community extend the risen Lord's presence into history, particularly through the sacraments and the Word of God. Therefore, it is in Christ and the Spirit that the Church is one and holy, that is, an intimate communion that transcends human capacities and supports them”.

In his reflection, Benedict XVI also recalled that today is the feast of St. Francis de Sales. "Born in Savoy in 1567 - concluded the pope - he studied law in Padua and Paris, called by the Lord, he became a priest. He devoted himself with great fruit to preaching and spiritual formation of believers, teaching that the call to holiness is for everyone and that everyone - as St. Paul with the comparison of the body - has a place in the Church. St. Francis de Sales is the patron saint of journalists and the Catholic press. To his spiritual care I entrust the message for World Day for Social Communications, who I sign each year on this occasion and which was presented yesterday at the Vatican [See: 23/01/2010 Pope: Internet, an instrument for the proclamation of Christ]. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, enable us to keep progressing in communion, to convey the beauty of being one in the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

See also:

From CNA, "Church is ‘rich and vital organism’ in its unity, remarks Pope at Angelus" and "Benedict XVI remembers life of St. Francis de Sales"

From Zenit, "On Christian Unity: "The Call to Holiness Is for All"

And from
YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Benedict XVI: The Church is One and Holy
January 24, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Holy Father encourages online priestly ministry

Vatican City, Jan 23, 2010 / 10:24 am (CNA).- In his message for the 44th World Day for Social Communications, Pope Benedict calls for priests to "make astute use" of available technology in becoming a presence as community leaders on the web. However, he urges them to remain "less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart."

The 2010 World Day for Social Communications will take place on May 16 under the theme "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word." The Holy Father’s message was released today.

The aim of this year's message is to draw attention to the possibilities for priestly ministry offered within the "important and sensitive pastoral area of digital communications."

For every priest, states the Holy Father in the message, fulfilling the fundamental priority of building up God's communion "necessarily involves using new communications technologies."

"Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word."

Pope Benedict emphasizes that "broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis" can be opened up in cyberspace with the presence of priests, living out their traditional role as community leaders in the world of digital communication.

See also:

From Catholic News Service, "Pope asks priests to get online, spread the Gospel"

From Asia News, "Pope: Internet, an instrument for the proclamation of Christ"

From New York Daily News, "Pope Benedict to priests: For God's sake, blog!"

From the Daily Telegraph, "Pope tells priests to get blogging"

From ABC News, "Pope to Priests: Go Forth and Blog"

From Yahoo!Xtra News, "Pope urges priests to make 'astute' use of Internet"

And from YouTube-Vatican's Channel:

Benedict XVI: New Technologies Are a Resource for the Faith
January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Free "Prayers for Haiti" Book Offered Online

BOSTON, Massachusetts, JAN. 22, 2010 ( The Daughters of St. Paul are offering a free book of prayers for victims of the Haitian earthquake that struck Jan. 12.

The book, "A World on Its Knees: Praying for and With Our Brothers and Sisters in Haiti" was compiled by Sister Kathryn James Hermes, Franciscan Sister of Peace.

It includes prayers such as "Calm the Shaking of the Earth," "Solidarity of the Human Family," "A Prayer of a Rescue Worker," and "God, What's Going On?"

The book was produced by Pauline Books and Media, the publishing house of the Daughters of St. Paul.

It offers a "useful way to focus intentions and be in spirit with those who need us most," the organization's Web site affirmed.

It continued, "Let's get this into the hands of millions of people around the world who can't go to Haiti in person but can pray."

The prayers are offered for use "in bulletins, prayer groups, parishes or in the silence of your own heart."

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Prayer book:

See also below:

Benedict XVI to Receive Copy of Pauline Codex

At Closing of Prayer Week for Christian Unity

ROME, JAN. 22, 2010 ( A 424-page "Codex Pauli" that honors the Apostle to the Gentiles with illustrations and writings in the spirit of the ancient monastic codices, will be presented to Benedict XVI.

Benedictine Abbot Edmund Power will present the volume to the Pope on Monday at the closing vespers of the Jan. 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will be held at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The "Codex Pauli" includes original contributions from the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I; Patriarch Kirill of Moscow; Gregorios III Laham, patriarch of Antioch for the Greek Melkite Church; and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams.

In his contribution, Bartholomew I wrote: "For St. Paul, unity on the one hand, and ecumenism on the other, are at the same time either virtues to which we should aspire, or gifts that come from on high.

"Moreover, the concepts of unity and ecumenism are not simply metaphorical, but ontological in content."

For Patriarch Kirill, "making himself imitator of the Apostle to the Gentiles, the Christian is called to be a living image of the Lord and thus help the modern world to receive with faith and hope the Word of God."

The Culture of Death: The Fruit of False Intellectual Ideals

The American Catholic
January 22, 2010

In his encyclical Aeterni Patris, Pope Leo XIII sought to advance the restoration of Christian philosophy against the modern trends of secular philosophy, emerging from Enlightenment rationalism. The critique of modern intellectual errors and the way in which such false thinking manifests itself in the world has deeply shaded my personal reflection on the tragedy of legal abortion.

In the dawn of each new year, pro-life Americans pause to mourn the loss of innocent unborn human life. Every year on January 22nd—the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton to impose unrestricted legal abortion—the pro-life movement recommits itself to the reversal of this tragic Supreme Court decision.

In 1970, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee decided to file a lawsuit to attempt to reform Texas abortion laws; at the time there was no formulaic strategy for liberal lawyers. The ultimate aim was to have the law struck down in its entirety, so the two chose not to base the case on Norma McCorvey’s report that she had been raped. The rape would have been difficult to prove given that there was no police report filed. Even if the Supreme Court ruled in their favor with an emphasis on the rape, at best they could hope to win legal abortion for women in the circumstances of rape.

Weddington and Coffee filed a class action suit on behalf of “Jane Roe” and all other women “similarly situated” (that is, pregnant and seeking an abortion) and they challenged the constitutionality of Texas abortion laws on the broadest possible grounds. This lawsuit, of course, is the infamous Jane Roe et al. v. Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County.

The case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court after the state of Texas appealed its previous loss in a U.S. district court in Dallas. Weddington who argued the national case was aided by a number of liberal lawyers, including lawyers from Planned Parenthood who regarded Roe as the appropriate sequel to Griswold (The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger who opposed abortion was already deceased).

Weddington argued that “pregnancy to a woman can completely disrupt her life.” Many schools in Texas required that a teacher resign if she became pregnant. Employers often forced women to leave their jobs early in pregnancy, and the state provided no unemployment compensation or welfare for them. So Weddington concluded “pregnancy to a woman is perhaps…the most determinative aspect of her life…[and] is a matter which is of such fundamental and basic conern to the woman involved, that she should be allowed to make the choice as to whether to continue or to terminate her pregnancy.”

Weddington added, “The Constitution, as I see it, gives protection to people after birth.”

Jay Floyd defending the Texas law asserted “there is life from the moment of impregnation.” To which, Justice Thurgood Marshall asked, “…do you have scientific data to support that?” Floyd replied that his legal brief began with the development of the human embryo from about seven to nine days after conception.

Marshall, then asked, “Well, what about six days?…This statue clearly goes back to one hour.” It is evident that Marshall saw no basis for the claim that a fetus had full constitutional rights.

In fact, what to any reasonable mind is the most central question was nonchalantly dismissed. There was no “need” to “resolve the difficult question of when life begins…we do not agree that, by adopting one theory of life, Texas may override the rights of the pregnant woman that are at stake.” The state’s interest in protecting “potential” life was not “compelling” until the so-called vague point of “viability.” After that point, the state could prohibit abortion except under the circumstances in which the life or “health” of the mother were in danger. It was within this framework, so to say, that abortion was legalized throughout the nine months of pregnancy.

An understanding of the deeply flawed thinking that created this travesty, I think, is essential for pro-life Americans to convince a majority of their brothers and sisters of the incoherence of supporting abortion as well as its innate injustice. The “right” to legal abortion was advocated behind the smokescreen of a “right to privacy.” Yet one of the most striking things about the “right to privacy” is that no one has a clear idea of what it is. Is this “right” absolute? Surely it cannot be. It would be unreasonable to assert that immoral acts—especially murder—should be legally permitted, or even advocated, so long as they are done in private.

See also from Catholic Culture: Library, Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, "Aeterni Patris (On The Restoration Of Christian Philosophy)."

Pro-lifers brave DC rain to join in March for Life

Catholic World News
January 22, 2010

Tens of thousands of American pro-life activists joined in the annual March for Life in Washington on January 22, marking the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. The marchers crowded the city's streets and thronged over the Mall. Yet in another annual occurrence, major media outlets virtually ignore the massive rally-- or, if they reported on it, gave roughly equal time to the few dozen counter-protestors.

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

Abortion opponents attend march in D.C. (Washington Times)

Abortion activists mark Roe vs. Wade (UPI)

Slide show from March for Life (Washington Times)

See also:


"Vigil Mass for Life: 45 Bishops, 350 Priests, 65 Deacons, 550 Seminarians"

"Sarah Palin Promotes March for Life, Joins Virtual March"

"U.S. Congressmen Decry Abortion on Anniversary of Roe v. Wade"

From CNA, "Pro-life marchers flood D.C. in protest of legalized abortion"

From Catholic Online, "Weather Doesn’t Dampen Pro-Life Spirit: No Exception, No Compromise!"

From Catholic News Service, "Participants at annual March for Life urged to keep up their efforts"

From Zenit,

"300,000 March for Life in US Capital"

"Abortion Judged Morally Wrong by US Majority"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pope's second book on Jesus of Nazareth is finished

Rabbi Jacob Neusner / Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2010 / 09:12 pm (CNA).- After meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in a private audience, American Rabbi Jacob Neusner, prolific writer, professor and expert in Judaism, told L'Osservatore Romano newspaper about his history with the Pope. He also mentioned that the Holy Father confided to him that the second volume of Jesus of Nazareth is complete.

The two met privately on Monday at the Vatican for 20 minutes, which the Rabbi Neusner called a "great gift" and said was "time enough for a nice meeting between two professors." During this encounter, the Pope chose to reveal to him that the second volume on Jesus is ready for the press.

The American rabbi was in Rome to take part in Catholic-Jewish dialogues following the Pope's visit to the Synagogue of Rome. He's no stranger to the environment, having dedicated his life to the scholarly study of Judaism, including how it interacts with Christianity and Islam.

Rabbi Neusner has written various treatises addressing inter-religious subjects. In fact, so impressive was his 1993 treatise "A Rabbi talks with Jesus" that then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that it was "the most important novelty in the last decade for Jewish-Christian dialogue," a review which the Rabbi published on the inside cover of the book.

The next contact between the two came in 2007 when Pope Benedict XVI dedicated several pages in his first volume on Jesus of Nazareth to the Rabbi's treatise, which concerns Christ's teaching of the beatitudes on the mount.