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Friday, November 23, 2012

REASON & FAITH: Christian faith is based on reason - BXVI

Christian faith is based on reason, Pope tells audience

CWN - November 21, 2012


Faith in God is fully rational, Pope Benedict XVI told his weekly public audience on November 21. Rejecting the idea that faith involves a leap beyond logic—a "will to believe beyond reason"--the Pope told the group in the Paul VI auditorium that the Church has always insisted on the reasonableness of belief. "The Catholic faith is therefore rational and also nurtures trust in human reason," he said.

"God has sought mankind and made Himself known, bringing Himself to the limits of human reason," the Pope said. God's action "opens our eyes and allows us to know all reality beyond the limited horizons of individualism and subjectivism which distort our awareness."

Christian faith, the Pope continued, is not only based on reason but pursues reason and knowledge. "Therefore, faith is a continuous stimulus to seek, never to cease or acquiesce in the inexhaustible search for truth and reality." The Pope underlined the need for proper cooperation between religious faith and scientific learning, saying that "faith does not enter into conflict with science but co-operates with it, offering fundamental criteria to ensure it promotes universal good, and asking only that science desist from those initiatives that, in opposition to God's original plan, may produce effects which turn against man himself."

During the Year of Faith, the Pope said, the Christian world should be working at "rediscovering joy at believing and our enthusiasm for communicating the truth of faith to all."

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MISSION: Thanks given to cloistered religious - BXVI

Papal message of thanks to cloistered religious

CWN - November 21, 2012


Pope Benedict XVI offered thanks for the prayerful witness of cloistered religious on November 21, the feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple.

At the close of his regular weekly public audience, the Pontiff took note of the feast day and voices "my closeness, and that of the entire ecclesial community, to the religious called by the Lord to the contemplative life." He encouraged lay Catholics to give their support to monastic communities.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

SOCIETY: You can't be EU Commissioner. You're Christian.

You can't be EU Commissioner. You're Christian.

BRUSSELS, November 12, 2012 ( – A consortium of homosexualist, secular humanist and abortion groups are campaigning against the appointment of the Maltese Dr. Tonio Borg as the new EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner. The objection, they say, is nothing more than that Dr. Borg is a Catholic, with "staunchly conservative and outdated" views on homosexuality, divorce and abortion.

The campaign has been organised, according to sources at the EU Parliament, by the European Humanist Federation, the International Lesbian and Gay Association, ILGA - Europe, and International Planned Parenthood Federation.

The situation is drawing comparisons to when a group of far-left activists blocked the appointment of Italian politician Rocco Buttiglione as Italy's representative at the European Parliament in 2004. At the time, Italian Justice Minister Roberto Castelli accused Buttiglione's opponents as "fundamentalist" anti-Christians.

"This decision shows the real face of Europe," Castelli said, "a face which we don't like. It's fundamentalist, which is absolutely not on."

A document released by the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights admits that a Commissioner's personal religious beliefs are not "topics of EU competence." However, they maintain that Borg's "issues of conscience" would "prevent him from being an impartial commissioner."

The group say they fear that since "all 27 Commissioners are always consulted before Commission proposals are made public; this would give him considerable influence across EU competences". They particularly objected to his support for the pro-life NGO Gift of Life, whose mission includes, "making it harder for abortion to ever be legalised in Malta."

The group complains that Borg once told a pro-life conference "that the Maltese constitution should define life as beginning from conception, defining any abortion as murder." They objected to Borg reiterating the findings of human embryologists that "an embryo starts from fertilisation. There is no pre-embryo" … "meaning any fertilised egg is a full human embryo and must be legally protected as a person."

Open monogamy: What gays can teach straights about marriage

Mary Rice Hasson | Friday, 30 July 2010
tags : homosexuality, marriage, monogamy

Open monogamy

What gays can teach straights about marriage, according to some people.

Of all the things that Tom and Tina Average might want for their marriage, one they have quite likely never thought of is innovation. It is the kind of word they might look for in the home improvement pages of the weekend paper or on their favourite consumer website, but not in a marriage guidance brochure.
Yet California author Joe Quirk, for one, believes that "traditional American marriage is in crisis" and a new look is what it needs. What does he have in mind? For a start, "insights" from married gay and lesbian couples. Interviewed by the New York Times, Quirk argues that, "If innovation in marriage is going to occur, it will be spearheaded by homosexual marriages."
If you are you wondering what kind of brave new marriage that would be, two recent studies give us an inkling of what to expect.
The recently published Gay Couples Study conducted by Colleen Hoff at the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, San Francisco, looked at the relationships of 566 committed gay couples (males) over a three-year period. The study showed that 47 per cent of gay couples had "sex agreements" that specifically allowed sexual activity with others. An additional 8 per cent of couples were split: one person favored sex outside the relationship and the other expected monogamy. Only 45 per cent described their relationships as monogamous.
Proponents of "marriage equality" sing their refrain over and over: "Our relationships are just the same as yours."
Not even close. While just 7 per cent of Americans believe that adultery (sexual infidelity by married, heterosexual partners) is morally acceptable, Dr Hoff's report emphasizes that nearly 50 per cent of gays in committed relationships specifically affirm sexual infidelity. Other research shows shockingly higher rates (75-95 per cent) of non-monogamy in long-term gay relationships.
(Note that we are talking about male homosexual relationships here. Research on lesbian couples is sparse but one study finds that 20 per cent of lesbians pursue open relationships.) But what of the roughly 45 per cent of gay relationships that, according to the study, do claim monogamy? Their relationships should yield insights applicable to traditional opposite-sex marriages, right?
Not likely. Any apparent similarity between gay relationships and heterosexual couples disappears once it becomes clear what "monogamy" means in the gay paradigm. A 2010 study from England entitled, "Gay Monogamy: I Love You But I Can't Have Sex With Only You", found that none of the gay couples in the study defined monogamy as sexual exclusivity. In fact, they all engaged in sex with outside partners, even though they professed to be in a monogamous relationship.
How's that, again? The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, in its spring 2010 newsletter, summarized the English study, explaining that sex with outside partners is the "monogamous" norm for gay couples.
"All participants perceived fidelity as emotional monogamy. Thus, forming an emotional bond with an outside partner constituted cheating." Sexual encounters with others didn't count as "cheating" as long as it was "compartmentaliz[ed], which they defined as the process of separating sex from emotion and was key to most participants' ability to manage sex outside the relationship."
Where does that leave us? Using the conservative figures from the Gay Couples Study, at least half of gay relationships don't accept monogamy. But those that do, probably mean gay-style monogamy, which allows outside sex as long as it is "open" and any emotional attachment is to the committed partner. The gay relationship model, then, allows each partner to pursue as much sex with as many people as desired, as long as the outside relationships are "safe," emotionally detached, and transparent.
Think of the gay narrative, expressed in news stories, TV interviews, and court documents, that movingly tell of gay couples who have been "together" for 10, 15, 20 years and want to be married, just like straight couples. The heterosexual frame of reference assumes that, for gay couples, committed and long-term relationships embrace sexual exclusivity, the norm for opposite-sex couples. And surveys that show growing popular support for same-sex marriage rely on that same public misperception.
The truth is that the gay experience, dressed in the language of heterosexual normalcy, bears little resemblance to traditional marriage relationships. For some researchers, that's exactly the point. They believe that gay relationships herald a long-overdue deconstruction of the meaning of "marriage," for gays and straights alike, away from the notion of sexual exclusivity and towards emotional bonding and "open" sexual coupling, or tripling, or whatever.
"It's a redefinition of marriage" says Blake Spears, a researcher and partner in one such relationship, to mean "emotional commitment, the closeness." As one gay man, Daemon from Phoenix, explains, "I am in an open relationship right now and it works fine… I personally do not associate sex with marriage; to me they are completely different acts. I would also love to get married from a legal perspective, regardless of who I have sex with."
Will the gay norm of sexual "freedom" herald a more relaxed approach to heterosexual marriage, deemphasizing fidelity but encouraging couples to stay together longer? For Dr Hoff, the Gay Couples Study does just that, suggesting that open but non-monogamous relationships build trust and keep couples together, even when sexual interests wander.
Unfortunately, it is not hard to find relationship experts who agree with Dr. Hoff, inviting heterosexual couples to experience the pleasures of non-monogamy. A Psychology Today piece, for example,  counsels that, "gay couples can teach other couples about sexual monogamy," which means to "engage in sexual encounters based on sexual attraction only and not emotions or affection. It is about sex and nothing more…any sexual inclusion is simply behavioral in nature, not relational." Untangling the doublespeak, gay-style "monogamy" allows unrestricted sex outside the relationship, as long as it's meaningless sex.
So what is the impact of this push to sell "open" marriage to straight couples -- destroying fidelity and gutting sex of any deeper meaning -- on the basis that it works for gays? I don't expect we will see a throng of married couples rush out and change their day to-day sexual habits to emulate their gay friends. Unlike Daemon from Phoenix, most heterosexual couples expect marriage to include sexual commitment. They intuitively know that permitting extra-marital sex won't build trust, but destroy it.
But marriage is in trouble, nonetheless. It is worrisome when ordinary married folks begin to hum the non-monogamy theme song, just like the secular psychologists, and clap along to the cultural beat of tolerance.
Consider this: CafeMom, one of the largest online communities for moms (reaching nearly 7 million moms a month), recently hosted a controversial discussion asking, "Is Polygamy Really Damaging to Society?" The conversation offered a snapshot (focus-group style) of the views of average American moms. Some women responded with good, ol' common sense, arguing that society should not sanction polygamy or other non-monogamous relationships because they are "terrible for children" and would "rip families apart" because "jealousy is human nature".
A surprising number, however, took the "personally opposed" point of view: they prefer sexual fidelity in their own marriages, but believe marriage laws and social mores should broaden to allow "consenting adults" the freedom to define their own sexual parameters within marriage. One mom pointed out, "I don't think [polygamy] hurts society any more than homosexuals do," because it's private and "has no effect on anyone but those in that family."
The social consensus that marriage is a life-long, sexually faithful union between a man and a woman is fast unraveling. Advocates for same-sex marriage have smoothly and successfully appropriated the language of traditional marriage in order to win the public's sympathy and support. The confused public facilitates its own deception, however, by its unwillingness to embrace a sexual ethic---for gays and straights alike—that is grounded in the authentic dignity of human beings.
And the longer we avoid the "icky" discussions about just what gays do, with whom, and with how many, the more likely we are to see "marriage" in our lifetime that bears no resemblance to the real thing.
One CafeMom mother of two concluded that, "a large number of Americans could care less who you marry and how many you marry."
The big question is: Is she right?
Mary Rice Hasson is a writer and attorney from the Washington, D.C. area. She blogs at 

SOCIETY: Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret

Many Successful Gay Marriages Share an Open Secret
Published: January 28, 2010
When Rio and Ray married in 2008, the Bay Area women omitted two words from their wedding vows: fidelity and monogamy.
"I take it as a gift that someone will be that open and honest and sharing with me," said Rio, using the word "open" to describe their marriage.
Love brought the middle-age couple together — they wed during California's brief legal window for same-sex marriage. But they knew from the beginning that their bond would be forged on their own terms, including what they call "play" with other women.
As the trial phase of the constitutional battle to overturn the Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage concludes in federal court, gay nuptials are portrayed by opponents as an effort to rewrite the traditional rules of matrimony. Quietly, outside of the news media and courtroom spotlight, many gay couples are doing just that, according to groundbreaking new research.
A study to be released next month is offering a rare glimpse inside gay relationships and reveals that monogamy is not a central feature for many. Some gay men and lesbians argue that, as a result, they have stronger, longer-lasting and more honest relationships. And while that may sound counterintuitive, some experts say boundary-challenging gay relationships represent an evolution in marriage — one that might point the way for the survival of the institution.
New research at San Francisco State University reveals just how common open relationships are among gay men and lesbians in the Bay Area. The Gay Couples Study has followed 556 male couples for three years — about 50 percent of those surveyed have sex outside their relationships, with the knowledge and approval of their partners.
That consent is key. "With straight people, it's called affairs or cheating," said Colleen Hoff, the study's principal investigator, "but with gay people it does not have such negative connotations."
The study also found open gay couples just as happy in their relationships as pairs in sexually exclusive unions, Dr. Hoff said. A different study, published in 1985, concluded that open gay relationships actually lasted longer.
None of this is news in the gay community, but few will speak publicly about it. Of the dozen people in open relationships contacted for this column, no one would agree to use his or her full name, citing privacy concerns. They also worried that discussing the subject could undermine the legal fight for same-sex marriage.
According to the research, open relationships almost always have rules.
That is how it works for Chris and James. Over drinks upstairs at the venerable Twin Peaks Tavern in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, they beamed as they recalled the day in June 2008 that they donned black suits and wed at City Hall, stunned by the outpouring of affection from complete strangers. "Even homeless people and bike messengers were congratulating us," said Chris, 42.
A couple since 2002, they opened their relationship a year ago after concluding that they were not fully meeting each other's needs. But they have rules: complete disclosure, honesty about all encounters, advance approval of partners, and no sex with strangers — they must both know the other men first. "We check in with each other on this an awful lot," said James, 37.
That transparency can make relationships stronger, said Joe Quirk, author of the best-selling relationship book "It's Not You, It's Biology."
"The combination of freedom and mutual understanding can foster a unique level of trust," Mr. Quirk, of Oakland, said.
"The traditional American marriage is in crisis, and we need insight," he said, citing the fresh perspective gay couples bring to matrimony. "If innovation in marriage is going to occur, it will be spearheaded by homosexual marriages."
Open relationships are not exclusively a gay domain, of course. Deb and Marius are heterosexual, live in the East Bay and have an open marriage. She belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and maintained her virginity until her wedding day at 34. But a few years later, when the relationship sputtered, both she and her husband, who does not belong to the church, began liaisons with others.
"Our relationship got better," she said. "I slept better at night. My blood pressure went down."
Deb and Marius also have rules, including restrictions on extramarital intercourse. "To us," Marius said, "cheating would be breaking the agreement we have with each other. We define our relationship, not a religious group."
So while the legal fight over same-sex marriage plays out, couples say the real battle is making relationships last — and their answers defy the prevailing definition of marriage.
"In 1900, the average life span for a U.S. citizen was 47," Mr. Quirk said. "Now we're living so much longer, 'until death do us part' is twice as challenging."
Scott James is an Emmy-winning television journalist and novelist who lives in San Francisco.

EVANGELISATION: All Christians together must challenge secularization - BXVI

Pope says all Christians must face together challenge of secularization

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sharing an obligation to spread the good news of salvation in Christ, all Christian communities are challenged by the fact that many people today do not think they need God, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a privation, represents a challenge for all Christians," the pope said Nov. 15 in a meeting with members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Pope Benedict said authentic ecumenical prayer, dialogue and cooperation cannot ignore "the crisis of faith that vast regions of the planet are experiencing," nor can Christians ignore signs that many modern people still feel a need for some kind of spirituality.

Efforts to reunite all Christians are an essential part of the new evangelization, the pope said. Responding to the obligation to share the Gospel and to heal a divided Christianity, he said, every Christian must "return to the essential, to the heart of our faith, giving the world a witness of the living God, that is, a God who knows us and loves us and in whose gaze we live; a God who awaits the response of our love in our everyday lives."

Pope Benedict said the theological dialogues the Catholic Church is engaged in with other churches and Christian communities are important means of keeping the ecumenical focus on finding unity in the faith and not simply on trying to find ways to get along better.

"Even when one cannot see in the immediate future a possibility for the re-establishment of full communion," he said, the dialogues "allow us to become aware not only of resistance and obstacles, but also of the richness of experiences, spirituality and theological reflections that can become a stimulus for an ever deeper witness."

The pope said Jesus' prayer that his disciples be one so the world would believe means that Christians cannot accept dividing differences as something normal. "It is full communion in faith, sacraments and ministry that will make the present and active power of God concretely visible in the world," he said.

Opening the council's plenary meeting, Cardinal Kurt Koch, council president, told members that the division within Christianity "damages its credibility in proclaiming the Gospel."

What is at stake, he said, is the credibility of Christianity as a whole and its ability to speak to modern men and women and to influence the way they live and act.

"The ecumenical process of overcoming the division of the church cannot help but have a consequence on the relationship modern secular culture has with religion in general and with Christianity in particular," Cardinal Koch said.

Unfortunately, today, new Christian divisions are arising on the basis of differing approaches to moral and ethical questions, particularly regarding the safeguarding of human life from conception to death, he said.

The new differences are leading to a "profound change" in the ecumenical landscape where Christians see how much unites them doctrinally while they witness deepening divisions in the area of ethics.

"If the churches and Christian communities are not able to speak with one voice in the face of the great ethical problems of our age, that will harm Christian ecumenism and the credibility of the new evangelization," he said.

At the same time, Cardinal Koch said, the loss of Christian credibility in the social sphere means that one of the major voices proclaiming and defending human dignity is becoming easier and easier to silence, which places all human beings at risk.

"Where God is eliminated from social life, there is also a strong risk that human dignity will be trampled," he said, pointing to the example of the "mass exterminations" carried out by the Nazis and the Soviets.

"The symptoms of this danger are tangible in our societies," Cardinal Koch said. "In particular, one sees a strong loss of respect for life, both at the end and the beginning of its existence, directly tied to the disappearance of an awareness of God in the public sphere."

The cardinal cited an Austrian theologian who wrote that in modern Europe, laws give greater protection to objects than to human beings and that one should wish for the good fortune of "coming into the world as a car."

Ukrainian Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, a member of the council, told Catholic News Service that under Soviet control, most of the churches in Ukraine had no public voice and no way publicly to defend human dignity, which was under attack by the Soviet authorities.

With the independence of Ukraine 20 years ago, he said, the churches "could manifest our Christian identity in a social and public way."

As the Soviet Union was falling apart, he said, Ukrainians turned to the churches for guidance and hope. Unfortunately, he said, the divisions within Christianity -- particularly within Ukraine's Orthodox community -- were deepening at the same time and "undermined their credibility."

Today in Ukraine, he said, the leaders of all the Christian churches join forces frequently to comment on issues of concern to the nation as a whole; "when they make their statements together, their voice is very strong."

While the churches are not united structurally or sacramentally, "we are united in action, especially on moral values, on family, defending the dignity of human life," he said.

Archbishop Shevchuk called for the "rediscovery of the religious roots of morality," a task that has an ecumenical dimension because it begins with professing the belief that each human being was created in God's image and that the dignity of human life was fully revealed in Christ's becoming human.

The archbishop said while secularization places challenges before the church, the real danger is "the secularization of the church" itself, which begins very concretely with church members living and acting as if they aren't church members.


FAITH: New encyclical to appear early next year - BXVI

New encyclical, on faith, to appear early next year

CWN - November 12, 2012


Pope Benedict XVI plans to release a new encyclical for the Year of Faith.

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, told the National Catholic Register that the new encyclical will be on the topic of faith, and is tentatively scheduled for release sometime during the first half of 2013.

Pope Benedict has devoted one of his three encyclicals to the virtue of hope: Spe Salvi, released in 2007. His other two encyclicals: Deus Caritas Est, in 2006, and Caritas in Veritate, in 2009, touched on different aspects of the virtue of charity / love. An encyclical on faith would complete a cycle on the theological virtues.

The Vatican Insider web site reports that the Pontiff finished drafting the encyclical during his summer stay at Castel Gandolfo, and the document should be ready for publication by Easter Sunday.

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MISSION / Unity: New Evangelization should be ecumenical effort - BXVI

New Evangelization should be ecumenical effort, Pope says

CWN - November 15, 2012


Ecumenical work is a key component of the "new evangelization," Pope Benedict XVI told the Pontifical Council on Christian Unity in a November 15 address. All Christians should be concerned by "the crisis of faith affecting vast areas of the world, including those where the proclamation of the Gospel was first accepted and where Christian life has flourished for centuries," the Pope said, at a private audience held in the Clementine Hall of the apostolic palace. "The spiritual poverty of many of our contemporaries, who no longer perceive the absence of God in their lives as a form of deprivation, poses a challenge to all Christians."

Pope Benedict said that ecumenism calls for "patience, humility, and abandonment to the Lord's will." However, he said, Christians must be persistent in the effort to overcome divisions, never accepting the fractures within the Christian community as "something normal or as the best that can be obtained."

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

LANGUAGE: New Vatican office to promote Latin language studies

New Vatican office to promote Latin language studies

CWN - November 12, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI has established a new Pontifical Academy for Latin, to encourage and spread interest in the Latin language.

With a motu proprio Latina Lingua, released November 10, the Pontiff set up the new Vatican office under the jurisdiction of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The new Pontifical Academy is a response to "an apparent pressing need to encourage commitment to a greater knowledge and more competent use of Latin, in the ecclesial environment as well as in the world of culture at large."

"The Latin language has always been held in high regard by the Catholic Church," the Pope wrote. Tracing the history of the Church's involvement with the language, he said that today the Catholic Church has become the "custodian and promoter" of studies in the Latin language.

A thorough knowledge of Latin language and culture is essential to the study of many different fields, particularly among the ecclesiastical disciplines, the Pope said. Unfortunately, he said, understanding of Latin has suffered in past years because of a "generalized deterioration in humanistic studies," resulting in "an increasingly superficial knowledge of Latin." More recently, he said, a "renewed interest" has sparked efforts to encourage Latin studies.

The president of the new academy is Professor Ivano Dionigi of the University of Bologna; the secretary is Father Roberto Spataro, a Salesian.

COMMUNITY: Old age is beautiful, Pope tells elderly

Old age is beautiful, Pope tells elderly

CWN - November 12, 2012

"It is good to be elderly," Pope Benedict XVI said during a visit to a rest home in Rome on November 12.

The Holy Father told residents at a facility run by the Sant Egidio Community that he was speaking "as Bishop of Rome, but also as an elderly person visiting his peers." He said that he fully appreciates the difficulties of old age; the diminished strength and energy, the regret for lost youth. But he insisted: "We must not allow ourselves to be imprisoned by sadness."

The Bible clearly speaks of longevity as a blessing, the Pope observed. Yet today, when many more people enjoy long lives than in the past, society has lost the ability to see old age as a gift. On the contrary, he said, a materialistic culture often looks upon the elderly as "unproductive and useless."

The Pope went on to suggest that as they find they need more help from others, elderly people should learn to see this, too, as a blessing. "It is a grace to be supported and accompanied, to receive the affection of others," he said.

"The quality of a society, of a civilization, may also be judged by how it treats its elderly and by the place reserved for them in communal life," Pope Benedict said. "To give space to the elderly is to give space to life!"

LOVE: God and neighbor are inseparable - BXVI

Love of God and neighbor are inseparable, Pope tells audience

CWN - November 05, 2012

"Love is not a command; it is a gift," Pope Benedict XVI told his midday audience on Sunday, November 4. Speaking about the day's Gospel, in which Jesus spoke of the "greatest commandment," the Pope said that Christians who show a genuine love for their neighbors are motivated by the love of God, "just as children become capable of love beginning with a good relationship with their parents."

When a believer truly responds to God's love, the Pope said, "he is able to love even those who do not merit it, just as God loves us." He went on to say that Christian love embraces not only those whom one finds attractive, but even to those who are at first unattractive. "We learn to look upon others not only with our own eyes, but also with the gaze of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ."

Moreover, the Holy Father continued, when one makes the effort to understand others, that effort helps one to understand God. Thus love of God and love of neighbor "are inseparable and have a reciprocal relationship." The Pope likened these two aspects of Christian love to "the two arms of the Cross, vertical and horizontal."

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Dorothy Day’s canonization cause

US bishops to consider Dorothy Day's canonization cause

CWN - November 12, 2012

During their fall meeting in Baltimore, members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will be consulted on the cause of canonization of Dorothy Day (1897-1980), co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement.

Vatican norms require that bishops on at least a regional level be consulted about the advisability of canonization causes. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has requested that the nation's bishops be consulted about Day's cause.

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Vatican dialogue with SSPX does not mean questioning Council’s teaching on Judaism

Vatican cardinal: dialogue with SSPX does not mean questioning Council's teaching on Judaism

CWN - November 12, 2012

The Vatican's dialogue with the Society of St. Pius X does not mean that the Second Vatican Council's teaching on Judaism is "being questioned in any way by the Magisterium of the Church as the Pope himself has demonstrated repeatedly in his speeches, his writings and his personal gestures regarding Judaism," the president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews said in a recent talk.

"The Catholic Church is moving firmly on the basis of the principles affirmed in Nostra Aetate," said Cardinal Kurt Koch, referring to the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, "and Pope Benedict XVI intends to continue the Church's dialogue with the Jewish people."

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pray for Life

Pray for Life

by Andrew Comiskey

As these 40-days of prayer and reflection come to a close, I am reminded that sexual love is all about life.

The beauty and power of sex is managed well when it is oriented toward creating and tending new life. That presumes, of course, that the man and woman becoming one have made a lifetime commitment to each other. (How else can new life be well-tended unless the two that created it are prepared to care for it?)
Marriage demands two things of sex: first, that sex answers to the greater commitment that two people have already made with their clothes on. And second, that the fruit of sex-kids-are treated with dignity, cared for by two who must answer to each other.
In our day where sex is celebrated as a human 'right' and answers only to how much pleasure one derives from it, marriage may seem medieval, ill-suited to a culture fractured by divorce, addiction, and cynicism about anyone keeping his/her promises.
I say instead that marriage has never mattered more for our culture or for any other. One man for one woman champions the dignity of every citizen by reminding all that our bodies possess the power to create life, a call so precious that it requires commitment.
The states of Maine, Minnesota, Washington and Maryland will decide today whether they will uphold marriage or further fracture it by introducing same-gender unions into the mix. To do so strikes down what marriage in essence is, and raises up yet another confusing symbol of humanity that will not serve future generations well.
Why? 'Gay marriage' cannot generate life. And cannot demand the growth required by 'otherness.' Sexualizing same-gender friendship is yet another form of narcissism, as one peers into the pool of his/her own image.
Pray for life. Pray for citizens in these four states to honor marriage for the good of all.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

MISSION : Vatican Evangelisation Synod members propose ways to promote evangelization

Synod members propose ways to promote evangelization

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Members of the Synod of Bishops recommended the Vatican establish a commission to monitor religious freedom, develop guidelines for training evangelizers and ensure there is a church in every diocese where confession is always available.

At the end of the three-week world Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, members of the gathering approved 58 propositions to give to the pope; although synod rules say the proposals are secret, Pope Benedict authorized their publication Oct. 27.

The propositions were designed as recommendations for the pope to use in a post-synodal apostolic exhortation. Many of the propositions described current challenges and opportunities that the church faces in sharing the Gospel, strengthening the faith and reaching out to lapsed Catholics.

Other propositions asked Pope Benedict or individual bishops to consider undertaking concrete projects, including:

-- Establishing a Vatican commission to monitor religious freedom around the world, denounce attacks on religious freedom and promote a broader understanding of its importance as a basic human right.

The propositions said, "The proclamation of the good news in different contexts of the world -- marked by the process of globalization and secularism -- places different challenges before the church: at times in outright religious persecution, at other times in a widespread indifference, interference, restriction or harassment."

During the synod discussions, bishops in different parts of the world described different relationships with Muslim neighbors, ranging from situations in which Christian minorities experience serious discrimination to cases of Catholics and Muslims working together to address social problems.

The synod propositions encouraged Catholics "to persevere and to intensify their relations with Muslims" in accordance with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.

-- Developing a "pastoral plan of initial proclamation" that would outline steps to help ensure that once people hear the Gospel, they are led to conversion and faith and are educated in church teaching. It also should describe the "qualities and guidelines for the formation of Catholic evangelizers today."

-- Asking that every diocese establish a parish or shrine dedicated "in a permanent way" to the administration of the sacrament of penance, ensuring "priests are always present, allowing God's mercy to be experienced by all the faithful."

"The sacrament of penance and reconciliation is the privileged place to receive God's mercy and forgiveness," it is a place of healing and strength, and it is the sacrament that can bring people back into full communion with the church, the synod members said.

As they did in the synod hall, synod members used several propositions to emphasize the importance of the family as the place where life and love are first given, where people are introduced to the faith and where they learn to live according to Gospel values.

The church's new evangelization efforts must help strengthen families and must try "to address significant pastoral problems around marriage: the case of divorced and remarried (Catholics), the situation of their children, the fate of abandoned spouses, the couples who live together without marriage and the trend in society to redefine marriage," synod members said.

Recognizing an increase in secularism around the world, synod members said that in many ways Christians are living "in a situation similar to that of the first Christians," who were small minorities in cultures indifferent or even hostile to Christianity.

Still, synod members said, "the world is God's creation and manifests his love." Even if Christians are just a little flock, they are called to "bear witness to the Gospel message of salvation" and "to be salt and light of a new world."

The propositions emphasized that while the primary task of the church is to bring people to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a relationship lived and nourished in the church, part of reaching out to others and witnessing to the Gospel involves serving the poor and sick, working for justice and protecting the environment.

Synod members praised the members of religious orders, who have been on the frontlines of evangelization for centuries, as well as the activities of new movements and communities. But they stressed the importance of all members of a diocese coordinating their work with the local bishop, and they insisted on the key role of parishes as the places where most Catholics learn about and practice their faith.

The propositions included a suggestion that parish priests or other designated parish staff visit families in the parish as part of their outreach.

The propositions described the liturgy as "the primary and most powerful expression of the new evangelization" and a manifestation of God's love for humanity.

"Evangelization in the church calls for a liturgy that lifts the hearts of men and women to God," synod members said.

During synod discussions, several bishops spoke about the importance of the church learning the particular language and culture of social media and new technology to share the Gospel with people who increasingly spend their time online.

In the propositions, they said Catholics should be trained "to transmit faithfully the content of the faith and of Christian morality" through the media, but they insisted that no technical talent or online presence could take the place of "the testimony of life" lived in accordance with the Gospel.

Synod members described young Catholics not primarily as objects of evangelization, but as evangelizers, especially of their peers.

"As the media greatly influence the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being of the youth," they said, "the church through catechesis and youth ministry strives to enable and equip them to discern between good and evil, to choose Gospel values over worldly values, and to form firm faith convictions."


UNITY: 'Summorum Pontificum' anniversary - Pope welcomes traditionalist pilgrims

Pope welcomes traditionalist pilgrims celebrating Summorum Pontificum anniversary

CWN - November 05, 2012

An international pilgrimage of over 1,000 traditionalist Catholics, celebrating the 5th anniversary of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, concluded on November 3 with a Mass in St. Peter's basilica, celebrated in the extraordinary form by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

In a message to the pilgrims, Pope Benedict XVI said that he issued his motu proprio encouraging wider use of the traditional liturgy because "it is good to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church's faith and prayer, and to give their rightful place, while fully recognizing the value and sanctity of the ordinary form of the Roman rite."

In his homily Cardinal Cañizares emphasized the need for unity within the Church, and said that "this holy Mass in the extraordinary form must be a sign of obedience and communion with the Pope."

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Monday, November 5, 2012

New people in an old world: Jan Leopold Tyranowski


Jan Leopold Tyranowski had only one aspiration: to pray meditating the Word of God and the facts of Jesus' life. Born in Krakow on 9th February 1901 his father was a tailor, Jan was guided in his studies by his parents. They would have wanted him to become an accountant, but he, though successful at school and with the ability to aspire to a respectable career, preferred to work alongside his father in his tailor's shop.
There he could enjoy the tranquillity he required to meditate, especially on the Rosary. Holy Mass and daily Holy Communion brought him ever closer to God, to make him a kind of lay monk, retired in his tireless and cloistered "ora et labora".

Jan's existence could have continued in this way forever, in the silence of a simple life, totally dedicated to God. However, at a certain point, an intuition took hold inside him: to dedicate himself to apostolate work among young people. Precisely he, who said, "he didn't know how to speak" had to steel himself and gathered around him, in his home, an initial group of 15 young people. In a short time his home in via delle Rose, became the reference point for hundreds of young people, at a time in which Krakow had remained almost priestless as a result of the Nazi invasion. Jan's work, providentially took on a role of extraordinary importance.

In Jan's home the Rosary was prayed and in particular what was called the "Living Rosary", for which each one was called to live, meditate and testify a particular mystery to his peers. Jan also often met the young people personally, assuming the spiritual guidance of many. Many vocations flourished in his home, including one that is worth remembering, that of the young Karol Wojtyla.
That exceptional testimony spoke of Jan in the following way: "It is difficult to forget the conversations with him. One of these is impressed in my memory: that time this simple man who complained with his confessor of not being able to speak, spoke until late into the night of who God is and what life with God is. He did not read the words of others, he spoke his own. It was almost July and the day was fading slowly… He was the apostle of the greatness of God, of the beauty of God, of the transcendency of God".

Jan Tyranowski died at the young age of 47, due to complications from an arm infection. It was 15th March 1947 and a few months had passed since 1st November, the day in which the "lay monk" had experienced the joy of seeing the consecration of Karol, the future Pope John Paul II. Jan Tyranowski has been declared servant of God and his cause of beatification is underway.

Friday, November 2, 2012

CHURCH: German Catholic bishops invited to celebrate Reformation 500th anniversary

German Catholic bishops invited to join in celebrating 500th anniversary of Reformation

CWN - October 31, 2012

Catholic bishops in Germany are weighing an appropriate response to an invitation to join in celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which will be held in 2017.

Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg, who heads an ecumenical-affairs committee for the German bishops' conference, pointed out that the 500th anniversary observance will commemorate a tragic division in Christianity, and Catholics "do not think they can celebrate this merrily."

Catholic participation in the anniversary observance, Bishop Feige said, is "not impossible in principle, but it depends on the character of the events planned."

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