Monday, July 31, 2006

Overflowing with Material

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. I am just in the midst of finals, since the Summer term is wrapping up this week.

Between right now, and Thursday night I have a paper to edit and proofread, three tests. The paper in for Sacramental Theology and the tests are Algebra and New Testament. Yes, I am just a little stressed out.

I am brimming with things to write about. I will be back soon, probably on Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Walk For Vocations

Via National Catholic Register

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Middlesbrough, (England) John Crowley, is setting out to walk the length of his diocese, which stretches as far south as Hull, in a week.
The walk is intended to focus on Vocations to Priesthood. Every parish has been asked to pray for more priests and the walk will raise the profile of the priesthood as a way of life. All the walks will be about 10 miles, starting in Hull on Sunday and moving through Hornsea, Bridlington, Scarborough, Whitby, Egton Bridge, Staithes, Saltburn and finishing on Saturday, August 12, at St Mary's Cathedral, Middlesbrough. The bishop and a core group of walkers will be joined by people from different parishes each day. They will begin walking at 11am after registering and taking part in morning prayers. Each day's walk will end in the late afternoon. The walkers will join one of the coastal parishes for Mass at 7pm. Each Mass will focus on one of the seven sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Mass, Marriage, Ordination and the Sacrament of the Sick. Bishop John, who became the sixth Bishop of Middlesbrough in 1993, is a keen walker. He hopes that in addition to the core group of people who will join him all week, that parishioners from across the diocese will join in for one or more of the daily sections. The diocese covers most of North Yorkshire, the whole of East Yorkshire, some parts of County Durham south of the River Tees, York, Hull and Middlesbrough. The walk is one of the initiatives being undertaken in the diocese following the publication in July of the Pastoral Plan for its future development. Details of the walk are available on the website

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Build A

Once again, Fr. Goldrick has written another excellent post. This time on church construction. Here are a few excerpts.

Here I stand in the mother house of stuff-it-yourself projects. Cabbage
Patch Dolls and Beanie Babies are your mother’s toys. Welcome to the
“interactive shopping experience” of Build a Bear Workshop!

This flag-ship store is a merchandising frenzy. There are eight stations,
each offering a gazillion bear essentials. Besides legions of pint-sized
individual shoppers and their families, there are invitation-only parties
happening as well. Party-goers build bears.

The process is similar to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Begin with the “Pick
Me” station. Plush coverings are available for $10. The kids, of course, all
want the high-end $30 shells. End at the “Take Me Home” station. In between you
will find colored stuffing, clothes, fashion accessories, food, furniture,
eyeglasses, and even camping equipment. At the “Hear Me” station, decide what
you want your bear to say - forever. At the “Name Me” station, enter information
in a computer

Build a Bear is child’s play compared to Build a Church. Church builders
have far more options.

What is the church exterior or shell to look like? Is there a favored style
of architecture? No, there’s not. What about the interior space? The directives
are minimal. Does the Assembly have to sit in straight rows? No. Does the altar
have to be opposite the front door? It has to be visibly central, but not
necessarily at one end or even on axis. Where do you put the Presider’s chair?
Whatever works. What about the Tabernacle? This is a hot-button issue. It must
be visible and well-sited for its purpose. That’s about all the directive says.
How about the baptismal font? That’s wide open. It doesn’t even have to be in
the church building per se. Where to put the pulpit? Be creative. Newport
liturgical designer Aide Berthume had a private audience with Pope John XXIII
during the Second Vatican Council. She asked what he thought a post-Vatican II
church should look like. His Holiness supposedly answered: “I’m the Pope. My job
is to issue the decrees. You’re the church designer. Your job is to create the
concrete expression.”

There are thousands of other options: the art work, the sacred vessels, the
vestments, the sound system, special-purpose areas, shrines, chapels, ambry for
the Holy Oils, sacristies, etc. You end up with a vast array of choices. Build a
Bear, you’ve been trumped.

There are, thankfully, some guidelines: the General Instruction of
the Roman Missal on an international level, “Built on Living Stones” on the
national level, and lots of opinions offered by experts.

Pray for those who build, not bears, but churches.

Read the complete post here.

Big Formality...Nothing Accomplished

I find it amusing that this occured today. I have a theology test this evening on justification. Basically the Roman Catholics, Methodists, and Lutherans have gotten together and agreed to what they have always agreed to. That we are saved though Christ's suffering, death and resurrection.

However, the Catholic Church places emphasis the necessity of a person's deeds being reflective of their faith. If one has faith, but doesn't attempt to be Christ-like, does that person really have faith? As Christians, we are called to follow Christ, in word, and deed and action. As is says in the Epistle of James, "faith without works is dead".

Let us not forget that while our deeds do not justify us, but they can certainly condemn us.

While I am glad to see unity between these Christian denominations, I hope this agreement is just another step toward watering-down the Catholic faith.

From Catholic News Service:

Methodist, Roman Catholic and Lutheran leaders said their communities will
be able to work more closely in proclaiming the Gospel message of salvation
after the World Methodist Conference adopted the Catholic-Lutheran joint
declaration on justification.

"This is a historic day. This is a gift of God. We can be grateful for it,"
Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity, said at the July 23 signing ceremony in Seoul, South

The agreement on justification -- how people are made just in the eyes of
God and saved by Jesus Christ -- "provides a basis for a more profound common
witness before the world," said the cardinal.

Delegates to the World Methodist Conference voted unanimously July 18 to
adopt the declaration, which was approved in 1999 by the Vatican and the
Lutheran World Federation.

Cardinal Kasper's office at the Vatican released his statement and other
texts from the signing ceremony.

The Methodists' resolution said the 1999 agreement "expresses a
far-reaching consensus in regard to the theological controversy which was a
major cause of the split in Western churches in the 16th century" over salvation
by grace alone or by grace and good works.

The 1999 declaration said, "By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving
work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and
receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping us and calling us
to good works."

The Methodists said the declaration "corresponds to Methodist doctrine,"
especially its explanation of how each person of the Trinity is involved in

The Methodist Movement," which grew out of the Anglican Church, "has always
understood itself as deeply indebted to the biblical teaching on justification
as it was understood by (Martin) Luther and the other reformers," the resolution
said. "But it has also always embraced elements of the doctrine of justification
which belong to the Catholic tradition of the early church."

In the Methodist understanding, it said, human beings cannot cure the
effects of original sin and corruption. It said the fact "that people are able
to respond to God's call is due only to God's prior work" of grace that helps
people accept salvation in Jesus.

Accepting salvation leads to healing and love, the Methodist statement

'Faith working through love' is seen as the root of all good which results
from the lives of those who believe in Jesus Christ. Works of piety and works of
mercy are fruits of the Spirit in the lives of those who follow Jesus," it

The Rev. Ishmael Noko, general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation,
also participated in the signing ceremony in Seoul.He called the Methodist
resolution "a new ecumenical landmark for which we must thank and praise God

The 1999 agreement, he said, "was an event which lifted up our shared
biblical faith in God's justifying grace, a faith which paradoxically became an
area of division in the Western church."

By joining together in expressing a common faith, Rev. Noko said,
Lutherans, Catholics and Methodists "should not see justification merely as a
piece of theological doctrine, but as an expression of the living Gospel

A shared witness to how God saves people, he said, "transforms us into a
community of hope in a world where hope is in short supply."

At the signing ceremony, Cardinal Kasper expressed his hope that the joint
agreement would be translated into "a joint commitment to deepen our common
prayer; may it encourage us to continue our theological dialogue, and building
on our common foundations, may it lead to an increase in joint witness to the
Gospel of Jesus Christ."

Monday, July 24, 2006

An I Know this Guy!

I am so proud to say that I know this guy! Yes, he is Fr. Tad Pacholczyk and he is the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. He is brilliant and if anyone gets the opportunity to hear him speak, don't let it pass you by!

Fr. Tad has spoken before Congress and the legislatures of numerous states on pro-life issues and here is a short excerpt from one of his newspaper articles where he writes about one of his testimonies:

A lot of hot-button topics are being debated in our state legislatures
these days, topics of great ethical and bioethical importance, ranging from
emergency contraception to gay marriage. These debates address important issues
for the future of our society. Lawmakers face the daunting task of making
decisions about what should or should not be permitted by law within a
reasonable society. Recently I was asked to speak in Virginia at legislative
hearings about embryonic stem cell research. After I gave my testimony, one of
the senators asked a pointed question. "Father Tad, by arguing against embryonic
stem cell research, don't you see how you are trying to impose your beliefs on
others, and shouldn't we as elected lawmakers avoid imposing a narrow religious
view on the rest of society?" The senator's question was an example of the fuzzy
thinking that has become commonplace in recent years within many state
legislatures and among many lawmakers.

Two major errors were incorporated into the senator's question. First, the
senator failed to recognize the fact that law is fundamentally about imposing
somebody's views on somebody else. Imposition is the name of the game. It is the
very nature of law to impose particular views on people who don't want to have
those views imposed on them. Car thieves don't want laws imposed on them which
prohibit stealing. Drug dealers don't want laws imposed on them which make it
illegal to sell drugs. Yet our lawmakers are elected precisely to craft and
impose such laws all the time. So the question is not whether we will impose
something on somebody. The question is instead whether whatever is going to be
imposed by the force of law is reasonable, just, and good for society and its

The second logical mistake the senator made was to suppose that because
religion happens to hold a particular viewpoint, that implies that such a
viewpoint should never be considered by lawmakers or enacted into law. Religion
teaches very clearly that stealing is immoral. Would it follow that if I support
laws against stealing, I am imposing my narrow religious viewpoint on society?
Clearly not. Rather, the subject of stealing is so important to the order of
society that religion also feels compelled to speak about it. Religion teaches
many things that can be understood as true by people who aren't religious at
all. Atheists can understand just as well as Catholics how stealing is wrong,
and most atheists are just as angry as their Catholic neighbors when their house
is broken into and robbed. What is important is not whether a proposed law
happens to be taught by religion, but whether that proposal is just, right, and
good for society and its members.

During my testimony, I pointed out how in the United States we have
stringent federal laws that protect not only the national bird, the bald eagle,
but also that eagle's eggs. If you were to chance upon some of them in a nest
out in the wilderness, it would be illegal for you to destroy those eggs. By the
force of law, we recognize how the egg of the bald eagle, that is to say, the
embryonic eagle inside that egg, is the same creature as the glorious bird that
we witness flying high overhead. Therefore we pass laws to safeguard not only
the adult but also the very youngest member of that species. Even atheists can
see how a bald eagle's eggs should be protected; it's really not a religious
question at all. What's so troublesome is how we are able to understand the
importance of protecting the earliest stages of animal life but when it comes to
our own human life, a kind of mental disconnect takes place. Our moral judgement
quickly becomes murky and obtuse when we desire to do certain things that are
not good, like having abortions, or destroying embryonic humans for their stem

Read the complete article here.

Violence Must be Answered With Love

Yesterday afternoon, Benedict XVI travelled to the small church of Rhemes Saint Georges, a few kilometers from Les Combes, the Italian alpine resort where he is spending a brief holiday. There he participated in the day of prayer and penance for peace between Lebanon and Israel.

The Pope arrived at the church in the company of Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta, and greeted the faithful gathered there. Following the liturgy of the Word, the Holy Father referred to "the dramatic situation in the Middle East ... where war persists between Christians, Muslims and Jews." He exclaimed: "Lord, free us from all evil and grant us peace; not tomorrow or the day after, grant us peace today!"

Benedict XVI highlighted the importance of the Christian perspective as a way "to end violence and overcome evil. ... At this time, in which there is great abuse of the name of God," he added, "we must affirm that the cross wins by love, affirming [also] the countenance of God which triumphs and brings light and reconciliation to the world. ... We need the testimony of God's victory though non-violence."

"Violence must be answered with love like that of Christ, that reaches unto death," he concluded. "This is God's humble way of winning, not with a stronger empire but with love that endures to the very end. ... Jesus' reconciliation and sacrifice are not in vain. ... There is a network of Eucharistic communion that overcomes cultural differences. ... This is the force for peace in the world."

Holy Father Prays for Peace

At midday yesterday, before praying the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims and local residents at Les Combes in the Italian region of Valle d'Aosta where he is spending a brief vacation, the Pope renewed the appeal he launched last Thursday for a cease-fire in the Middle East.

After recalling how, following the worsening of the situation in the Middle East, he had proclaimed this Sunday as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting pastors, faithful and all believers to implore from God the gift of peace, the Holy Father said: "I forcibly renew my appeal to the conflicting parties to begin an immediate cease-fire, to allow the passage of humanitarian aid and, with the support of the international community, to seek ways to begin negotiations.

"I take this opportunity," he added, "to reiterate the right of the Lebanese to the integrity and sovereignty of their country, of the Israelis to live in peace in their State, and of the Palestinians to have their own free and sovereign homeland."

The Holy Father expressed his particular closeness to the "defenseless civilian population, unjustly involved in a conflict of which they are only victims: both those in Galilee who are forced to live in shelters, and the great multitudes of Lebanese who, once again, are seeing their country destroyed and have been forced to abandon everything to seek refuge elsewhere.

"I raise a sorrowful prayer to God that the vast majority of people's aspiration to peace may be realized as soon as possible, through the harmonious commitment of leaders. I also renew my appeal to all charitable organizations to bring those people the concrete expression of shared solidarity."

Benedict XVI then recalled that Saturday marked the liturgical memory of St. Mary Magdalene, "the Lord's disciple who occupies a leading role in the Gospels," and that today is the day of St. Bridget of Sweden, "one of the patrons of Europe who lived in Rome and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land." Let us, he added, "ask her to help humanity today to create great spaces for peace, and especially to obtain from the Lord peace in that Holy Land towards which she had such profound affection and veneration."

"I entrust humanity entire to the power of divine love," the Pope concluded. "And I invite everyone to pray that the beloved people of the Middle East may be capable of abandoning the path of armed conflict and of building, through the courage of dialogue, a just and lasting peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!"

Stop the Insanity!

H/T to Rocco for this story.

Are you ready for the 2nd wave of assault on Christ and his Church. Apparently some people were so enthralled with the DaVinci Code that they think they are characters in the story.
There is a 43 year old American woman who is not only claiming to be a descendent of Jesus, she wants to see it printed in a book.

Even though it seems her claim comes straight from the world of fictional make-believe, Kathleen McGowan, a married mother of three, is about to tell her story in a "partly autobiographical" novel that hopes to trade directly on the vast worldwide audience captured by Dan Brown. It promises to light almost as many fires of controversy as Brown's novel itself.
For, however outlandish Ms McGowan's claims, they are being taken seriously by one of the world's most respected publishing houses. Simon & Schuster is publishing her book and ploughing a marketing budget of more than a quarter of a million dollars into promoting it. It has already invested a seven-figure sum in the rights to her book, The Expected One. "I certainly expect there will be a backlash," said Ms McGowan. "But I have the support of my family and friends and that's what I draw from."
Claims to such a genetic lineage might normally draw scepticism from a world where an author's credibility can make or break a book. But rights to Ms McGowan's story of religious intrigue have been sold in more than 20 languages and the first print run in the US alone is 250,000. Her novel - which was first self-published last year and sold just 2,500 copies - goes on sale in Britain next month. It is the first part of a trilogy.

Collection for Lebanon

On Saturday, the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" published the following communique:

"Given the persistence of the conflict in the Middle East and of the terrible plight of the peoples involved, the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' wishes, in the name of the Holy Father, to demonstrate its closeness to those who are suffering, sending preliminary aid to help shelter the thousands of displaced people.

"This aid is directed towards a project being promoted by Caritas Lebanon, the Custody of the Holy Land, the AVSI Foundation and other organizations present on the ground, in order to supply materials for welcome centers (mattresses, blankets and sheets), drinking water, food and hygiene kits, and medicines."

The communique also indicates where to send donations for this special collection of funds:

Italian Post Office current account number 603035, made out to Pontifical Council Cor Unum, stating the reason: for Lebanon.

Banca di Roma current account number 101010 - ABI 3002, CAB 5008 (from abroad: SWIFT code: BROMIT) - made out to Pontifical Council Cor Unum, stating the reason: for Lebanon.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Come Away and Rest A While - Part 2

Don't get me wrong by my last post, I completely understand the restricted life of the Pope.
Being Pope means never being able to have dinner at your favorite restaurant, or doing your own shopping. Everywhere he goes he is followed by crowds. His days are filled with meetings and audiences. The Pope must be guarded in friendships. Pope John XXIII once wrote to his sister telling her to beware of people who seemed to want to be friends with her and those who showered her with gifts and trips.

It is a life I cannot imagine enduring. To endure being the Servant of the Servants of God requires true vocation.

I would like to remind everyone of Pope Benedict's comments regarding his feelings upon realizing he had been elected,

"As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that - in a manner of speaking the guillotine would fall on me - I started to feel quite dizzy. I thought that I had done my life's work and could now hope to live out my days in peace."I told the Lord with deep conviction, 'Don't do this to me. You have younger and better [candidates] who could take up this great task with a totally different energy and with different strength.'"

Come Away and Rest A While

As I entered the church this afternoon, I was stopped by a woman who complained to me that Pope Benedict was taking a vacation when there is so much important work to be done. I laughed, thinking about the subject of the Gospel reading and what father was going to say in his homily.

Here is the Gospel reading from this weekend:

The apostles gathered together with Jesus
and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
People were coming and going in great numbers,
and they had no opportunity even to eat.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
Mk 6:30-34

Notice the connection between the Gospel and the comment? Yes, vacation. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

We have a tendency to see down time as wasted time and it can be. However, relaxation is necessary. It we make our lives all work, we turn into burned out, angry people. When we take care of ourselves and take time to relax we are able to do our best work.

In the Gospel, Jesus realized that the apostles and Himself needed a break, but the crowd met Him there. Hmmm, does that sound familiar?

Yes, Jesus taught us by example and so is Pope Benedict. Like Jesus, when Pope Benedict went on vacation, he was met by hundreds of people. Even on vacation, he is taking time out to meet and talk with the faithful. Jesus showed us that while we are to take time out for ourselves, that doesn't mean we are on vacation from ministering and teaching the ways of faith.

Rocco wrote about how Pope Benedict will never be able to emerge in public without wearing his white cassock. I don't think that is exactly true. Pope John Paul was often photographed in is younger years in ski clothes. It wouldn't bother me in the least to see him in regular clerics or even civvies on vacation. However seeing him in papal attire reminds us that even on vacation he is the Pope. While there is time for relaxation there are no vacations from vocation. Yes, Pope Benedict may be seen as a virtual prisoner in his cassock, however I think there is more to it than meets the eye. in CHOOSING to wear it, yes it was a choice, he teaches us by example the importance of permanence of vocation.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Senator Harkin

At a news conference yesterday, Senator Tom Harkin denounced President Bush’s veto of a bill that would expand embryonic stem cell research. He questioned, “Who set up the president of the United States, this president, as our moral pope? The president of the United States is not our moral ayatollah. He may wish to be, but he’s not.”

Sen. Harkin also said that the president has put himself “in the company of people like Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino, who told Galileo it was heresy to claim that the earth revolved around the sun….” He also claimed that Bush is now aligned “with people like Pope Boniface VIII, who banned the practice of cadaver dissection in the 1200s. This stopped cadaver dissection for over 300 years, over 300 years.”

Here’s how Catholic League president Bill Donohue responded in a news release saying:

“It’s hard to know what’s worse—Senator Harkin’s Catholic baiting or his ignorance of history. When he votes to allow doctors to kill babies who are 80 percent born, no one calls him a moral pope. But the Iowa Catholic is quick to drop the Taliban card on President Bush for vetoing a bill that was opposed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is just as quick in distorting history.

“Cardinal Bellarmine, as well as Pope Urban VIII, welcomed Galileo’s research, presenting him with medals and gifts. It was only after Galileo persisted in promoting his hypothesis as fact (this was the heresy, not the claim that the earth revolved around the sun) that trouble ensued. As for Pope Boniface VIII, in 1299 he sought to stop the trafficking in bones from soldiers killed in the Holy Land—not to stop all dissection. In any event, dissection began again a few years later, not 300 years later.

“Sen. Harkin’s reckless remarks will anger many in the Catholic community. There is no place in the senate for Catholic baiting, and it matters now a whit whether the guilty are themselves Catholic.”

Ignatius Press Pulls Charlotte Church Merchandise

The latest blasphemous antics of Welsh pop-star Charlotte Church have convinced a Catholic publishing company to drop all the products of the girl with “the voice of a angel.”
In a notice to all the customers of Ignatius Press, the company informed its customers that Charlotte Church’s recent statement and antics in the pilot for a new Channel 4 Television entertainment show, have forced Ignatius Press to discontinue carrying her products.
The pilot for The Charlotte Church Show was recorded before a live audience on July 12 in London. During the show, the hostess Charlotte Church, dressed as drug-using nun, smashed open a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary revealing a hidden can of cider, and spoke about worshipping “St. Fortified Wine.” Along the same vein of comic blasphemy, the pop diva pretended to hallucinate while consuming communion wafers branded with Ecstasy smiley faces, and denigrated Pope Benedict XVI as a “Nazi”, even though she had performed for the late Holy Father, John Paul II, when she was a 12 year-old girl. In an official statement, Ignatius Press stated, “It is with regret that we do this; Miss Church possesses a great gift from God, and in the past she has used her talent often to offer praise and glory to our Lord.” While Ignatius Press praised the sacred music Charlotte had done in the past, they said, “We cannot stand by a young woman who uses her stature in the media to mock the Eucharist, slander the Holy Father, and denigrate the vows of religious women. Therefore, our catalogs and website will immediately withdraw all compact discs, cassette tapes, DVDs and VHS tapes that feature Miss Church. Please join us in praying for this troubled young woman.”
Monkey Kingdom, the company producing The Charlotte Church Show, wants to hear from fans of Charlotte Church. According to a press release dated May 8, 2006, the Monkey Kingdom asks: “What have you done in the name of ‘The Church!’” Concerned fans may contact them about Charlotte’s new show by e-mailing Helen Albon at:

Source: LifeSite News

Vaccine Believed to be Source of Illness

Please allow me a brief departure from issues of Catholicism. I came across this article with I am compelled to post.

A group of farmers in Jiangmen has tried almost everything to get justice for, to use officials’ term, their “unfortunate children”. One farmer cycled for 37 days from Guangdong to Beijing, hoping state-level officials could respond to his dying daughter's plight. Another one wrote to Premier Wen Jiabao after approaching countless doctors for help but all in vain.

Their children contracted acute toxic encephalitis after taking a meningitis vaccine distributed by the government. Some have lost the ability to talk, walk or even sit up after the injections.

In a last-ditch effort, three penniless farmers and a five-year-old girl struck down by the illness are in Hong Kong to appeal for help.

“We want justice for these children. Something has apparently gone very wrong with the vaccine. But the different levels of government kept throwing us back and forth and refused to take responsibility," said Yu Tongan, 41.

His son was given the meningitis vaccine by medical staff sent to his primary school in March of last year. Within hours the 11-year-old developed a fever and went into a coma. He has since been unable to attend school because he cannot walk or speak, and has developed epilepsy.

“Some officials coldly told me that it was simply bad luck, since the vaccine worked on the other children,” Mr Yu said. Others like Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua, to whom he wrote, said nothing.
Mr Yu did however meet six other victims who were staying in the same ward as his son at a Jiangmen hospital last year. The ‘bad luck’ theory could thus not be sustained.

One of those other children, five-year-old Jiayi, has also come to Hong Kong with her parents Liang Yongli and Liu Xueyun.

Every two minutes, the girl stretches her limbs uncontrollably and foams at the mouth.

Her father, Mr Liang, 37, said he had cycled the 6,000 kilometres from Jiangmen to Beijing in May last year to confront state officials—who told him they were too senior to tackle a small problem in a farming village.

Read the complete article here.

In Memoriam

The following prelates died in recent weeks:

- Archbishop Estanislao Alcaraz Figueroa, emeritus of Morelia, Mexico, on July 13, at the age of 87.

- Bishop Julio Amilcar Bethancourt Fioravanti of Santa Rosa de Lima, Guatemala, on July 5, at the age of 69.

- Bishop Edwin Bernard Broderick, emeritus of Albany, U.S.A., on July 2, at the age of 89.

- Bishop Jose Fernandes Veloso, emeritus of Petropolis, Brazil, on July 10, at the age of 90.

- Bishop Thomas Fernando, emeritus of Tiruchirapalli, India, on July 4, at the age of 93.

- Bishop Jesus Rocha of Oliveira, Brazil, on July 13, at the age of 66.

- Bishop Carlos Talavera Ramirez, emeritus of Coatzacoalcos, Mexico, on July 2, at the age of 82.

May they and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Holy Father Declares July 23rd to be Day of Prayer for Peace

Faced with worsening situation in the Middle East, the Holy See Press Office has been directed to communicate the following:

"The Holy Father is following with great concern the destinies of all the peoples involved and has proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace.

"In particular, the Supreme Pontiff hopes that prayers will be raised to the Lord for an immediate cease-fire between the sides, for humanitarian corridors to be opened in order to bring help to the suffering peoples, and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region; as already indicated by Pope Benedict XVI at the Angelus last Sunday, July 16.

"In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland.

"At this sorrowful moment, His Holiness also makes an appeal to charitable organizations to help all the people struck by this pitiless conflict."

Requiescat in Pace

The Diocese of Rockville Center is mourning one of it's own after Msgr. William Costello was struck and killed by a repeat drunk driver who was on the road with a suspended license.

A woman driving with a suspended license from a previous DWI arrest fatally ran down a priest and was ordered held Wednesday on $100,000 bail at her arraignment on drunken-driving and other charges, police and prosecutors said.

The woman's blood-alcohol reading was 0.28, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08, at the time of her arrest, said Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Karen Fisher, of East Hampton, was driving a 2003 Dodge Caravan minivan in her hometown at about 7:50 p.m. Tuesday when she struck the Roman Catholic priest on Woodbine Avenue near Between Lane, town police Chief Todd Sarris said in a statement.

The priest, William Costello, 79, was taken to Southampton Hospital, where he was declared dead.

Costello, a monsignor who retired in 1998, lived at the St. Anne Church rectory in Garden City for the past eight years, said a spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

"To us, Msgr. Costello was truly the Cure of Ars, the patron saint of priests," Msgr. John Gilmartin, pastor at the St. Anne parish, said in a statement. "He was a friend, a companion and a great priest. I loved him and will miss him deeply."

Fisher, 42, also was taken to the hospital for treatment of facial cuts. She was kept overnight before appearing for arraignment before East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana.

She was charged with driving while intoxicated, driving with a suspended license and leaving the scene of an accident.

The suspended license charge stems from a DWI arrest on April 1 in which Fisher's blood-alcohol level was 0.31, Clifford said.

She also was charged with endangering the welfare of a child in that incident because two children were in the vehicle when she was arrested, authorities said. She was charged with leaving the scene after fleeing to her nearby home on Woodbine Avenue, they said.

Following Fisher's arraignment, she was taken to the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead. Telephone messages left with her attorney were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Bishop William Murphy, head of the Rockville Centre diocese, called Costello "one of the most beloved priests in the diocese."

Costello, who was a priest for 54 years, served in numerous parishes across Long Island. He held several leadership roles in the diocese, including as a member of the Priest Senate, and was on the board of Catholic Charities and Little Flower Children's Services in Wading River.

"Whenever he returned to visit a parish where he had served, no matter how long ago that might have been, he was greeted with love and enthusiasm by one and all who knew him," Murphy said. "For me personally this is a great loss."

Update: Here is another article - This one includes a picture of the driver.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Surprise! It's the Pope

Pope Benedict, looking rather tanned, made made an unexpected walking visit to Switzerland yesterday. I can only imagine the surprise of the people.

Vacationing in the Alps, Pope Benedict XVI made a brief visit to Switzerland, walking across the Italian border to visit the famed Saint Bernard kennel of an Augustinian monastery.

News of the pope's July 18 excursion came from the pope himself.

Returning to Les Combes, where he has been staying since July 11, Pope Benedict told reporters he had gone first to a convent of Benedictine nuns at Saint-Oyen, Italy.

"We had a lovely meeting with the Benedictine sisters and we prayed together," the pope said. "

Then we went to the Great St. Bernard Pass where we prayed vespers with the monks and with the people before having a nice encounter in the refectory."

Meeting the pope shortly after 8 p.m., the reporters asked if he had a chance to visit the kennels where, for more than three centuries, the Augustinians raised Saint Bernard dogs and trained them to assist in mountain rescues.

Smiling, the pope said yes, adding that the dogs "were very good, very brave."

The pope's return to Italy, where his car was waiting, consisted of "a beautiful walk," he said.

Members of the papal entourage told reporters that about 200 tourists were at the Augustinian monastery and were shocked when they saw the pope come out. He stopped to shake hands and to bless children.

The Augustinians had announced in 2004 that they could no longer afford to raise Saint Bernards and were planning to auction off the animals. After a public uproar, particularly because the dogs are an important symbol for local tourism, a Swiss association assumed financial responsibility for the kennel.

Pope Benedict has been spending his mornings inside the Salesian-owned chalet at Les Combes, leading some journalists to report that he is continuing work on a book about Jesus that he began before his election. Others said he was working on a new encyclical on Catholic social teaching, focused on work. Vatican officials would not comment.


The End of Innocence

IC is reporting that Charlotte Church's angel days appear to be long gone. It is unfortunate to see someone with so much talent allow herself to get sucked into the culture of the world.

Charlotte Church has sparked a holy row by dressing up as a drunk, drug-taking nun in her new chat show.
The Crazy Chick, who was raised as a Catholic, smashed a statue of The Virgin Mary and stubbed chewing gum out on the face of the baby Jesus in a shocking comedy sketch she recorded for last week's pilot of her Channel 4 TV debut.
And in a sensational swipe at the Royals, religious leaders and statesmen - to whom the Voice of an Angel sang as a child - Charlotte branded the Pope a "Nazi" and made jokes about The Queen, Princess Diana, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela.

The multi-millionairess hopes to spark a Friday night ratings war with BBC One chat king Jonathan Ross if Channel 4 commissions a series.
But last night, Welsh religious leaders blasted Charlotte for dressing up as a nun in a sketch which saw her taking communion wafers in the shape of smiley face ecstasy tablets.
Naughty Sister Charlotte popped the pill-shaped biscuits after being offered them by ex-EastEnders bad boy Nick Cotton, played by actor John Altman.
His character, Sister Dave, said, "This s*** is good, want some?" before Charlotte replied, "Love it! I love nunning".
The pair then pretended to hallucinate before taking part in a chapel rave.
Charlotte - who sang to Pope John Paul II when she was 12 - also smashed open a statue of The Virgin Mary in the sketch to reveal a hidden can of Strongbow cider.
And in a cheeky nod to her binge-drinking days, Charlotte joked how she also worships Saint Fortified Wine and Saint Thunderbird, a brand of super-strength wine.
Last night, her naughty nun performance sparked outrage within the Catholic Church in Wales.
Reverend Edwin Regan, Bishop of the Wrexham Roman Catholic Diocese, said: "I would not want to give her any publicity if this is the kind of thing she is doing."
And in an aside to her blonde classical rival, he added: "I wish she had turned out the way Katherine Jenkins has."

The audience's jaws also dropped as she ordered lookalikes of the Queen, Mother Teresa, the Pope and Nelson Mandela to be hosed down with water.

Read the complete article here.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Christian Unity Seminar to be Held in South Korea

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is presiding at a seminar dedicated to the theme: "The Search for Christian Unity: Where We Stand Today." The event has been jointly organized by the pontifical council, the office of ecumenical and inter-religious affairs of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, and the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea.

The aim of the seminar, being held in Seoul, South Korea, from July 17 to 21, "is to provide an opportunity for Asian bishops and others working in the field to reflect on the realities of ecumenical relations in Asian countries, and to develop effective pastoral approaches," says a communique from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity made public today.

This seminar forms part of a series organized by the pontifical council to consider various themes associated with ecumenism. The first two seminars took place in Nairobi, Kenya, and in Dakar, Senegal, in July 2005 and "were aimed at presenting the principles of ecumenism and motivating participants to respond to the complex ecumenical situation" on the continent of Africa. Another seminar in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in September of the same year "focused on the issue of Pentecostalism and its growth in Brazil."

"The seminars have been planned in response to the needs expressed by the bishops themselves to find a pastoral response to the emerging challenges, particularly the rapid growth of new religious movements (Pentecostal, Evangelical and Charismatic)", the communique explains.

"The seminar in Seoul has been timed to coincide with the World Methodist Conference, to be held there from July 20 to 24. ... At this conference it is expected that the Methodist Churches will adopt the Joint Declaration on Justification agreed between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999, and a solemn celebration of the Word of God will mark this extended agreement, to be signed in the presence of Cardinal Kasper and Rev. Ismael Noko, secretary general of the Lutheran World Federation."

Holy Father Expresses Concern Regarding Events in the Holy Land

After praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in front of the house at Les Combes in Italy's Valle d'Aosta region which he is spending a brief holiday, the Pope called on people to pray for peace in the Holy Land.

News coming from the Holy Land over the last few days is, said the Holy Father, "a cause of new and serious concern to everyone, especially for the increasing military activities in Lebanon and for the many victims among the civilian population. At the root of such pitiless contrasts there are, unfortunately, objective ... violations of rights and of justice. But neither terrorist acts or reprisals, especially when they have such tragic consequences on the civilian population, can be justified. Bitter experience shows that by following this path no positive results can be achieved.

"Today," he added, "is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, a mountain in the Holy Land which, just a few kilometers from Lebanon, dominates the Israeli city of Haifa, also recently attacked.

"Let us pray to Mary Queen of Peace," said Benedict XVI, "that she may implore from God the fundamental gift of harmony, bringing political leaders back to the way of reason and opening new possibilities of dialogue and understanding. With this in mind, I invite the local Churches to raise special prayers for peace in the Holy Land and in the entire Middle East."

Going on to address the faithful in various languages, the Pope expressed the hope that the summer "may be a stimulus to recover the interior calm that enables us to discover with greater clarity the beauty of the many gifts we have received from God through nature, and to contemplate them in the family and with others in a spirit of friendship."

In closing, the Pope greeted Italian-speaking individuals and groups, especially participants in a training course organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference for animators of pastoral care in families: "Whilst the memory of the World Meeting of Families recently held in Valencia, Spain, remains fresh, I renew my encouragement to Christian families that they may know how to live and transmit the joy of the faith to the new generations."

Silent Contemplation

Yesterday morning, more than 5,000 people prayed the Angelus with Benedict XVI at Les Combes, the resort in Italy's Valle d'Aosta region where the Pope is spending a brief holiday.

Before the Marian prayer, the Holy Father addressed a greeting to the religious and civil authorities of the region, to the inhabitants of Les Combes and to holiday makers staying in the area. He also recalled John Paul II who had so often lodged in the same chalet as that in which he is currently staying.

The Pope then remarked that today's liturgy commemorates the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel and explained how the slopes of this mountain, on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, are full of natural caves, once used by hermits, including the prophet Elijah "who in the ninth century before Christ undertook a strenuous defense of the purity of faith in the one true God against the contamination of idolatrous cults.

"Drawing inspiration from the figure of Elijah," he added, "the contemplative Order of Carmelites came into being, a religious family that numbers among its members such great saints as Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Theresa of the Child Jesus, and Theresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). The Carmelites encouraged devotion to the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel among Christian people, indicating in her a model of prayer, contemplation and devotion to God.

"Indeed, Mary believed and experienced, before anyone else and insuperably, that Jesus, the Word incarnate, is the Summit, the pinnacle of man's meeting with God. Fully accepting His Word, she 'arrived happily at the holy mountain' and lives forever in soul and body with the Lord.

"To the Queen of Mount Carmel, I wish today to entrust all communities of contemplative life throughout the world, especially those of the Carmelite Order. ... May Mary help each Christian to encounter God in the silence of prayer."

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Ordination Slideshow

I found a beautiful slideshow of ordination pictures on catholicunderthehood. It is worth watching and shows so many of the highlights of presbyteratal ordination.
Watch it here.

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Vatican has placed the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church online.
It is available here.

The entire Catechism is available here.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Relics and Faith

While in Valencia for the World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict celebrated Mass using what many believe to be the Holy Grail, or the chalice of the Last Supper. Years ago, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass using the same chalice. He was harshly criticized for kissing the chalice because many scholars do not believe the chalice is actually the Holy Grail. While we may never know for sure if the chalice is truly the vessel used by Jesus at the last supper, does it really matter? I don't think so.

I am dissapointed when I hear people say that the Holy Grail has magical powers or the like. It like all other relics does not have magical powers. The person who posseses the Holy Grail does not gain any special power or authority and any person who would claim it does is sadly mistaken. Power and authority belongs to God alone and he grants his gifts upon people according to his will. These gifts are not for sale, nor can they be transferred from one person to another. Any benefit gained from the use of a relic is gained from God through the prayer and intercession of the communion of saints. Unfortunately there are still people like Simon Magus who think they can use God for their own gain. Like Simon Magus they will learn that God cannot be tricked.

We venerate relics because they are the closest we can come to the holy people and sacred events in the Church's history. I have never been a person who put much stock into relics, but when I was in Rome I discovered a different aspect of faith. We visited the Shrine of the Holy Stairs and I was as skeptical as one could be. I did not climb to the top by the stairs, nor did I do it on my knees. Rather, I went up the side stairs. Before I left I felt a strong need to touch the stairs. It was illogical and went against everything I believed about relics...unless it could be truly proven to be authentic, it meant nothing. And I mean proven without a doubt. As we were leaving the Shrine I turned and went back to the stairs, I placed my hand into the opening of the wood which encases the stairs and touched the stone step. I thought I would cry right then and there. Suddenly it didn't matter if there were really the stairs Jesus climbed, it was what they represented that mattered. Don't get me wrong, I still think proving the authenticity of relics is vital, but if it can't be proven it doesn't make the relic less important. I walked out of that shrine a different person, I left as a person who had a fuller understanding of faith. Faith is believing even when it can't be proven and knowing proof isn't everything. Credo, I believe.

Learn more about the Holy Chalice of Valencia here.

Postscript: I have a need to add this comment. We must be careful to remember that even the most sacred relics like the True Cross are nothing compared to the Real Presence in the Eucharist. Remember that although we the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine any scientific tests would only show bread and wine.

St. Benedict Medals

I have always wondered what all the letters on the St. Benedict Medals mean. Today I found the answer on the website of the Benedictine Order.

On the face of the medal is the image of Saint Benedict. In his right hand he holds the cross, the Christian's symbol of salvation. The cross reminds us of the zealous work of evangelizing and civilizing England and Europe carried out mainly by the Benedictine monks and nuns, especially for the sixth to the ninth/tenth centuries.

Rule and Raven
In St. Benedict's left hand is his Rule for Monasteries that could well be summed up in the words of the Prolog exhorting us to "walk in God's ways, with the Gospel as our guide."

On a pedestal to the right of St. Benedict is the poisoned cup, shattered when he made the sign of the cross over it. On a pedestal to the left is a raven about to carry away a loaf of poisoned bread that a jealous enemy had sent to St. Benedict.

C. S. P. B.
Above the cup and the raven are the Latin words: Crux s. patris Benedicti (The Cross of our holy father Benedict). On the margin of the medal, encircling the figure of Benedict, are the Latin words:

Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur!
(May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!).

Benedictines have always regarded St. Benedict as a special patron of a happy death. He himself died in the chapel at Montecassino while standing with his arms raised up to heaven, supported by the brothers of the monastery, shortly after St. Benedict had received Holy Communion.

Monte Cassino
Below Benedict we read: ex SM Casino MDCCCLXXX (from holy Monte Cassino, 1880). This is the medal struck to commemorate the 1400th anniversary of the birth of Saint Benedict.

Reverse Side of the Medal
Crux mihi lux
On the back of the medal, the cross is dominant. On the arms of the cross are the initial letters of a rhythmic Latin prayer: Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux! (May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!).

In the angles of the cross, the letters C S P B stand for Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti (The cross of our holy father Benedict).

Above the cross is the word pax (peace), that has been a Benedictine motto for centuries. Around the margin of the back of the medal, the letters V R S N S M V - S M Q L I V B are the initial letters, as mentioned above, of a Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan:

Vade retro Satana!
Nunquam suade mihi vana!
Sunt mala quae libas.
Ipse venena bibas!

(Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities!
What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!)

[.JPG versions of the front and back of the Medal of Saint Benedict.]

Go, Pope. Go!

This is one of the silliest articles I have read on CNS, but there was something about it that complelled me to post it here. This is what happens when it's the middle of July and the Pope is on vacation.

The article which tells the story of papal locomotion also reveals that Pope Benedict have given the new Volvo SUV to the Vatican security office

Read it here.

If Only I Knew French

Well, I don't know what they are saying, but I do know that this is a beautiful video of Pope Benedict playing the piano, back when he was a cardinal and an interview with his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

Cardinal Goicoechea Passes into Eternal Life

Benedict XVI has sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, Spain, for the death yesterday at the age of 89 of Cardinal Angel Suquia Goicoechea, emeritus of the same archdiocese.

"Profoundly saddened over the death of the dear Cardinal Angel Suquia Goicoechea, archbishop emeritus of Madrid, following a long illness borne with great serenity, I express my most heartfelt condolences to you and to all that dear archdiocese. I join everyone in entrusting to the mercy of the heavenly Father this zealous pastor who served his people with so much pastoral charity.

"His generous and intense ministerial activity - first as bishop of Almeria, then bishop of Malaga, archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, and later archbishop of the archdiocese of Madrid-Alcala, also serving for a number of years as president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference - testifies to his great dedication to the cause of the Gospel, and gives proof of his profound love for the Church.

"At this time of sorrow in which the ecclesial community of Madrid weeps its beloved pastor, I wish to impart upon you an affectionate and comforting apostolic blessing."

Photo from the website of the Archdiocese of Madrid

Rosaries for the Troops

Mary Zilligan Becker, a Chicago-area Catholic, who with her husband runs an online business called Seat of Wisdom Book and Gifts that sells religious items, turned out to be the perfect person to contact the chaplain because she has been able to get him the religious supplies he needs.

Father Hannigan's first request was for 1,000 rosaries. His appeal was specific: rosaries that were tan-colored, corded, with black plastic crucifixes. Beaded rosaries can reflect light, or clink at the wrong moment, which is not a good thing on a battlefield, he said.

She initially shipped 500 rosaries and continues to collect them.
The chaplain's next request was for copies of the Baltimore Catechism and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Becker ordered the books and began a campaign of her own to pay the nearly $5,000 cost of the books and the $800 shipping fees. In a June letter to Becker, the chaplain said that once the next shipment arrived he would have plenty of copies of the catechism, but he said he could still use rosaries, medals, prayer books and books about the saints.

On the Web site, people donate specific religious items to the soldiers. They can choose religious books, scapulars or holy medals.

More information about helping with this project is available online at:, or by writing to:

Seat of Wisdom
1247 Oakmont Ave.
Flossmoor, IL 60422.

Notes also can be sent directly to:
Father John T. Hannigan
7th Marines Regiment HQ Co
Unit 41505 FPO
AP 96426-1505.

Read more about the project here
Source: The Tidings

Unity Candles, Liturgical Sandboxes and Other Nonsense

Fr. Tim from the Ships Log has posted a humorous, but to the point post on unity candles and other wedding nonsense.

He writes:

Where it came from, nobody knows, but it’s not going away anytime soon. I’m speaking of the obsequious “Unity Candle”. Seems it was invented during the 1960's by some candle company. It spread like wild fire. Brides like it. Candle companies love it. It sells lots of candles. Couples planning marriage are now firmly convinced that Jesus Himself introduced the Unity Candle at the Wedding Feast at Cana. It must be there in the Bible someplace. I don’t think so."We studied the wedding liturgy planning book, Father, but we can't find where in the ceremony we’re supposed to do that candle lighting thing." This is not surprising. There’s no mention of a Unity Candle in the official Rite of Marriage.

The bold is mine.

He also writes:

The Unity Candle now has competition. There’s yet another “tradition” just being invented. Colored sand! I think its tribal - Apache, maybe. It's called the Family Sand Ceremony. It goes like this. There are two bowls of colored sand. These are mixed together, thus symbolizing the joining of two families. The whole congregation - even little children - can actively participate, says the promotional literature. Everybody gets something to do. Pastoral hint: be sure to keep a Dust Devil handy. There is a variation on the Family Sand Ceremony in which, instead of sand, shards of colored glass are used. I hope neither catches on.

Lest you think the good Father is kidding about the sand, he isn't.

The following are just a few of the websites I found about the family sand ceremony:
Sand Ceremony - Included picture of finished product.
More Sand
Even more sand

I was pretty sure that I saw tables just like these at the last fair I attended. I don't remember it costing $70 there and I still thought it was foolish. At the fair is it only foolish. During the Mass it is abomination. More taking focus off Christ and onto errr...sand???

Clerical Titles

Fr. Dennis has posted a explanation of the various ranks of clergy, particularly Cardinal and Archbishop, and Monsignor.

Read it here.

The Office For Liturgical Music?

Sandro Magister has a great roundup of Pope Benedict's Curial changes and the changes to be expected.

Magister writes that:
Some of these “reforms of the reform” will concern music. On June 30, the head of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, Msgr. Valentino Miserachs Grau, announced that the pope will make a personal visit there in November to inaugurate the new academic year. And he said he expects the creation of a new Vatican office “that would coordinate with authority the activity of all those who work in liturgical music, and would watch over the liturgical celebrations.”

Sounds good to me. Too many liturgical musicians have been wandering around like sheep without a shepherd and others like lions devouring the sheep. It will be good to have a shepherd.

Magister doesn't say anything about Archbishop Marini's future, but I expect he will be replaced soon.

Read the complete article here.

Excommunication Now

The Milingo tour continues today. He has scheduled a press conference to announce the formation of his new organization of "married priests" called "Married Priests Now".
I think his intentions have been made clear. I say Excommunication now!

On a related note, the Curt Jester has a great parody on his site. Read it here.

Btw, this is my 300th post.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Human Person is the Heart of Peace

In a brief communique made public today the theme was announced of the 40th World Peace Day, due to be celebrated on January 1, 2007: "The Human Person: Heart of Peace."

This theme for reflection, chosen by the Holy Father, "expresses the conviction that respect for the dignity of the human person is an essential condition for peace within the human family," says the communique. "Only through an awareness of the transcendent dignity of each man and woman can the human family follow the path that leads to peace and to communion with God."

The communique continues: "Today, perhaps more persuasively and with more effective means than in the past, human dignity is threatened by aberrant ideologies, assailed by the misguided use of science and technology, and contradicted by widespread incongruent lifestyles. Indeed, ideologies that find their inspiration in nihilism or fanaticism (material or religious) seek to deny or to impose supposed truths upon reality, upon man and upon God."

The note highlights the fact that "often science and technology (especially biomedicine), rather than serving the common good of humanity, are instrumental in serving an egotistical vision of progress and wellbeing. Moreover, propaganda and the growing acceptance of disordered lifestyles contrary to human dignity are weakening the hearts and minds of people to the point of extinguishing the desire for ordered and peaceful coexistence. All this represents a threat to humanity, because peace is in danger when human dignity is not respected and when social coexistence does nor seek the common good.

"The Church," the communique adds, "has the mission of announcing the Gospel of Life, the central position of mankind in the universe and God's love for humanity. Therefore, to the challenges of the present time, the Church responds with a Christian anthropology based on the three pillars of human dignity, sociality and activity in the world, oriented in accordance with the order stamped by God on the universe, and with a view to an integral and solidary humanism that tends towards the development of all of man and of all men."

The communique concludes by affirming that "any offence to the person is a threat to peace; any threat to peace is an offence to the truth of the person: 'The human person is the heart of peace'."

Holy See Issues Statement on Archbishop Milingo

The Archbishop Emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia, Emmanuel Milingo, was in the United States yesterday and held a press conference at the National Press Club. The press release advertizing the event claimed:

Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the charismatic cleric whose "non-conventional" healing ministry, public marriage and call for an end to mandatory celibacy led to controversy with the Vatican, plans to embark on an independent charismatic ministry to reconcile married priests with the Catholic Faith. "There is no more important healing than the reconciliation of 150,000 married priests with the 'Mother Church,' and the healing of a Church in crisis through renewing marriage and family," notes the 76-year-old archbishop.
Personally ordained by Pope Paul VI in 1969 at the young age of 39, Milingo was recalled to Rome in 1982 amidst controversy over his extraordinary healing powers. His ministry to "preach the Gospel, heal the sick and cast out devils" (Matt. 10:8, Mark 16:15, Luke 9:2) flourished in Europe, and his popularity grew despite efforts to restrict his ministry. Working from Rome under the protection of Pope John Paul II, his marriage to a South Korean acupuncturist in 2001 drew international media attention. His marriage was not recognized by the Church, and out of respect and love for the Holy Father, he honored the pontiff's request to return to his healing ministry in Rome.
"Archbishop Milingo is not seeking to defy or divide the (Roman Catholic) Church, but is acting out of deep love for the Church and concern for its future," notes Archbishop George Augustus Stallings, founder of the African American Catholic Congregation. Married priests from Italy, South America and the United States will join the archbishop as he launches a ministry for the renewal of family for the future of the Catholic Faith. "The Church has nothing to lose by allowing priests the option to marry. Historically, out of holy marriages have come priests, popes, and loving servants of God and the Church," Milingo says.

The Holy See issued the following release regarding the Archbishop's visit to the U.S.:

"The Holy See has not yet received precise information concerning the aim of the journey to the United States of America by Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia.

"In any case, if the declarations attributed to him concerning ecclesiastical celibacy were to prove authentic, the only thing to do would be to deplore them, Church discipline on this matter being well known."

It seems from Milingo's press release and the content of his statement at the press conference that he has not abandoned his infidelity to the Church.

I wonder where this will lead next.

Update: Catholic News Agency has an article on the press conference.

Blasphemy Illegal in Massachusetts

I was searching Massachusetts General Laws for something else and came across this:

Chapter 272: Section 36. Blasphemy
Section 36. Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching God, his creation, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Holy See Releases Financial Statements

Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, announced this morning in a press conference on the Holy See consolidated financial statements for 2005 that the year closed with a surplus of 9.7 million euro. This, he said, "represents the most significant value of the last eight years." The year 2004 had closed with a surplus of 3.08 million euro.

In terms of the institutional activity of the Holy See (Secretariat of State, congregations, councils, tribunals, the Synod of Bishops and various other offices), the president indicated that the sector closed the year with a deficit of 36.9 million euro, an increase with respect to 2004 which had closed with a deficit of 23.2 million euro.

Cardinal Sebastiani pointed out that the sector of financial activities (7 consolidated administrations, the most important of which is the Extraordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, APSA) showed a surplus of 43.3 million euro, an improvement on last year's surplus of 6.1 million euro. This is due, the cardinal explained, "to the improvement of the situation of the financial markets which occurred in the course of 2005. Indeed, a net positive fluctuation of 21.7 million euro was registered in 2005 while a net loss of roughly 11 million euro occurred in 2004 due to fluctuations in the rates of exchange." For its part, the real estate sector closed with a surplus of 22.2 million euro, slightly down on last year's closing figure of 24.9 million euro.

The activity of the media institutions connected with the Holy See (Vatican Radio, the Vatican Printing Office, L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, the Vatican Publishing House and the Vatican Television Center), closed with a deficit of 11.8 million euro, "substantially due to the negative results of Vatican Radio (about 23.5 million euro) and of L'Osservatore Romano (4.6 million euro)," said Cardinal Sebastiani. Nonetheless, "the Vatican Printing Office closed its financial statement with a surplus of 653,000 euro, and the Vatican Television Center closed with a profit of 650,000 euro. ... The Vatican Publishing House also closed its 2005 financial statement with a surplus of 934,000 euro and with a rise of 3.8 million euro in the volume of the activity." In this context, the cardinal recalled how the Vatican Publishing House has been entrusted with the exercise and the guardianship of the copyright of "all the documents by means of which the Supreme Pontiff exercises his teaching."

The final part of the economic report, concerning other income and expense, closed with a negative result of seven million euro, reflecting the costs incurred during the period of vacant see in April 2005.

In closing, the president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See indicated that in the Vatican on July 4, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano had presided at the 40th meeting of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See. On that occasion, said Cardinal Sebastiani, as well as the consolidated financial statement of the Holy See for 2005, the cardinals also examined that of the Governorate of Vatican City State, which closed with a surplus of 29.6 million euro.

Offers from the faithful to Peter's Pence, the fund which goes to the Holy Father's works of evangelical solidarity, came to 46,741,000 euro in the year 2005, an increase of 14.95 percent with respect to 2004.

Cardinal Zen

The newest issue of "The Tablet" contains an excellent biography of Cardinal Zen of the Archdiocese of Hong Kong.
Read it here

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Holy Father begins Vacation

At 10.30 a.m. today, Benedict XVI left Rome by plane and, following an hour-long flight, arrived at the airport of Saint Christophe in the Valle d'Aosta region of northwestern Italy. He then travelled by car to the residence of Les Combes where he will spend a 17-day vacation.

As he did last year, the Pope will stay in a chalet belonging to the Salesian Order, the same as that in which John Paul II also used to spend his holidays. The building, made of wood and stone, has two floors and is surrounded by a large garden. It stands at an altitude of 1,200 meters and has views over Mont Blanc and other mountains on the French-Italian frontier as well as over the Italian-Swiss Alps.

The only two public ceremonies the Pope is due to attend during his vacation are scheduled for July 16 and 23, when he will pray the Angelus from the house in which he is staying. Access to this event is open to everyone, says a communique from the diocese of Aosta, and all those wishing to do so may go to Les Combes to hear the Holy Father and pray with him.

Benedict XVI will stay at Les Combes - located some 20 kilometers from the city of Aosta within the municipality of Introd - until July 28.

Following his vacation in Valle d'Aosta, the Pope will move to his summer residence of Castelgandolfo, 30 kilometers south of Rome, where he will remain until the end of September.

The Pope's next apostolic trip, the fourth since the start of his pontificate, will take him to Germany from September 9 to 14.

Dr. Navarro-Valls Retiring

The Holy Father appointed Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. as director of the Holy See Press Office. Fr. Lombardi was born in Saluzzo, Italy in 1942 and ordained a priest in 1972. He is currently director general of the Vatican Television Center and of Vatican Radio, posts he will continue to hold in his new office.

Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the office of director of the Holy See Press Office presented by Joaquin Navarro-Valls, thanking him for his long and generous service. Joaquin Navarro-Valls was born in Cartagena, Spain in 1936 and has been director of the Holy See Press Office since 1984.

Given below is the text of a letter to journalists written by Fr. Lombardi for the occasion of his new appointment, and a declaration by Joaquin Navarro Valls:

Fr. Lombardi's letter:

"Dear friends,

"As I prepare to assume this new responsibility at the Holy See Press Office I am, naturally, grateful to the Holy Father and to the Superiors for the trust they place in me; but my thoughts also go out especially - and with affection - to you and to all our colleagues in the media whom I am called to serve.

"Like you, I have been working for some time to ensure that the activity of the Holy Father and the reality of the Church are known and understood objectively and adequately.

"Dr. Navarro-Valls performed his own long service in this field with exceptional ability, intelligence and dedication. We are all profoundly grateful to him and continue to depend on his friendship.

"I cannot hope to imitate him, but you may depend upon my commitment - within my limits but with all the power at my disposal - to serve the Holy Father and your own good work. I know I shall be able to depend on the collaboration generously offered - both to me and to you - by all the staff of the Press Office, beginning with Vice Director Fr. Ciro Benedettini.

"I also ask for your benevolence, so that this shared portion of our journey may be more fruitful.

"I entrust these sentiments to the Lord on the feast day of St. Benedict upon which, perhaps not by chance, I receive my appointment to this new service."

Joaquin Navarro-Valls' declaration:

"I am very grateful to the Holy Father who has seen fit to accept my oft-expressed readiness to leave, after so many years, the post of director of the Holy See Press Office.

"I know that I have, over these years, received much more than I have been able to give, more than I am at present capable of fully comprehending."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Farewell to Valencia

Following the Eucharistic celebration for families, the Holy Father travelled by popemobile from Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences to the airport of Manises, where the departure ceremony took place. Over the ten-kilometer journey, thousands of persons lining the route had the opportunity to greet the Holy Father.
At the airport, after a greeting from King Juan Carlos of Spain, Benedict XVI thanked everyone for the "kind hospitality and evident affection" shown him during his brief visit to Valencia.
The Holy Father expressed his hope that "with the help of the Most High and the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, this meeting will keep echoing like a joyful song of the love, life and faith shared by families, and help today's world to understand that the marriage covenant, whereby man and woman establish a permanent bond, is a great good for all humanity."
He also thanked the thousands of pilgrims from all continents who had accompanied him over the two days of his apostolic trip to Spain. "You have a special place in my heart," he said.
The Pope's aircraft took off at 1 p.m. and arrived at Rome's Ciampino airport at 3 p.m. From there the Pope travelled by helicopter to Vatican City.

Responsibility of Parenthood

At 9.30 a.m. yesterday, the Holy Father presided at Mass in the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, in the presence of more than a million and a half people. During the ceremony, which marked the closure of the Fifth World Meeting of Families, the Pope used the Holy Chalice.
In his homily, after thanking God for the "joyful throng of beloved families" gathered in Valencia, and for the others following the event on radio and television, Benedict XVI mentioned the day's Gospel readings which, he said, show the family "to us as a community of generations and the guarantee of a patrimony of traditions."
"All of us received from others both life itself and its basic truths," said the Holy Father, "and we have been called to attain perfection in relationship and loving communion with others. The family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, is the expression of this relational, filial and communal aspect of life."
"Once children are born, ... together with the gift of life, they receive a whole patrimony of experience. Parents have the right and the inalienable duty to transmit this heritage to their children: to help them find their own identity, to initiate them to the life of society, to foster the responsible exercise of their moral freedom and their ability to love on the basis of their having been loved and, above all, to enable them to encounter God. Children experience human growth and maturity to the extent that they trustingly accept this heritage and training which they gradually make their own. They are thus able to make a personal synthesis between what has been passed on and what is new, a synthesis that every individual and generation is called to make.
"At the origin of every man and woman, and thus in all human fatherhood and motherhood, we find God the Creator," the Pope added. "For this reason, married couples must accept the child born to them, not simply as theirs alone, but also as a child of God, loved for his or her own sake and called to be a son or daughter of God. ... The memory of this Father sheds light on our deepest human identity: where we come from, who we are, and how great is our dignity. ... Consequently, at the origin of every human being there is not something haphazard or chance, but a loving plan of God. This was revealed to us by Jesus Christ. ... He knew whence He came and whence all of us have come: from the love of His Father and ours.
"Faith, then, is not merely a cultural heritage, but the constant working of the grace of God Who calls and our human freedom, which can respond or not to His call. Even if no one can answer for another person, Christian parents are still called to give a credible witness of their Christian faith and hope. ... Thus, with the constant witness of the their parents' conjugal love, permeated with a living faith, and with the loving accompaniment of the Christian community, children will be helped better to appropriate the gift of their faith, to discover the deepest meaning of their own lives and to respond with joy and gratitude."
"In contemporary culture, we often see an excessive exaltation of the freedom of the individual as an autonomous subject, as if we were self-created and self-sufficient, apart from our relationship with others and our responsibilities in their regard."
However, "the Church does not cease to remind us that true human freedom derives from our having been created in God's image and likeness. Christian education is consequently an education in freedom and for freedom. We do not do good as slaves, who are not free to act otherwise, we do it because we are personally responsible for the world; because we love truth and goodness, because we love God Himself and therefore His creatures as well."
"The joyful love with which our parents welcomed us and accompanied our first steps in this world is like a sacramental sign and prolongation of the benevolent love of God from which we have come. The experience of being welcomed and loved by God and by our parents is always the firm foundation for authentic human growth and authentic development, helping us to mature on the way towards truth and love, and to move beyond ourselves in order to enter into communion with others and with God.
"To help us advance along the path of human maturity, the Church teaches us to respect and foster the marvelous reality of the indissoluble marriage between man and woman which is also the origin of the family. To recognize and assist this institution is one of the greatest services which can be rendered nowadays to the common good and to the authentic development of individuals and societies, as well as the best means of ensuring the dignity, equality and true freedom of the human person."
"The Christian family, "Benedict XVI concluded, "is called, then, to do all these things not as a task imposed from without, but rather as a gift of the sacramental grace of marriage poured out upon the spouses. If they remain open to the Spirit and implore His help, He will not fail to bestow on them the love of God the Father made manifest and incarnate in Christ. The presence of the Spirit will help spouses not to lose sight of the source and criterion of their love and self-giving, and to cooperate with Him to make it visible and incarnate in every aspect of their lives. The Spirit will also awaken in them a yearning for the definitive encounter with Christ in the house of His Father and ours. And this is the message of hope that, from Valencia, I wish to share with all the families of the world."
After the Mass, and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father expressed his thanks for everyone whose efforts had contributed to making the Valencia meeting a success, and announced that the next World Meeting of Families will take place in Mexico City, Mexico, in 2009.

Pope Benedict Reaffirms the Importance of the Family

Last Saturday at 5.15 p.m., the Pope left the archbishop's residence and went to the palace of the "Generalitat de Valencia," headquarters of the presidency of the Spanish region of Valencia, where he paid a courtesy visit to King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain.
He then returned to the archbishop's palace where he met with Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain.
At 8.30 p.m., he again left the archbishop's palace and travelled by popemobile to Valencia's City of Arts and Sciences, a modern building complex in the city center. There he presided at a festive meeting of families, attended by hundreds of thousands of people.
The ceremony began with a parade of participants bearing the flags of their native countries. Thereafter Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, addressed some words to those present.
Following testimonies from families from various countries, the Pope pronounced his address.
He began by recalling that the family "is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place. The family is itself based primarily on a deep interpersonal relationship between husband and wife, sustained by affection and mutual understanding. To this end, it receives abundant help from God in the Sacrament of Matrimony, which brings with it a true vocation to holiness.
"Would that our children," he added, "might experience more harmony and affection between their parents rather than disagreements and discord, since the love between father and mother is a source of great security for children and its teaches them the beauty of a faithful and lasting love."
Benedict XVI then highlighted the fact that "the family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of the love, of the total and generous self-giving of their parents. To proclaim the whole truth about the family, based on marriage as a domestic Church and a sanctuary of life, is a great responsibility incumbent upon all."
Referring to the problems facing families when isolated from relatives and friends, the Pope indicated that the Church "has the responsibility of offering support, encouragement and spiritual nourishment which can strengthen the cohesiveness of the family, especially in times of trial or difficulty. Here parishes have an important role to play, as do the various ecclesial associations."
Going on to mention the question of the transmission of faith in the family, the theme of this Fifth World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict recalled that it "is a responsibility which parents cannot overlook, neglect or completely delegate to others. ... The language of faith is learned in homes where this faith grows and is strengthened through prayer and Christian practice."
"This meeting provides a new impetus for proclaiming the Gospel of the family, reaffirming the strength and identity of the family founded upon marriage and open to the generous gift of life, where children are accompanied in their bodily and spiritual growth. This is the best way to counter a widespread hedonism which reduces human relations to banality and empties them of their authentic value and beauty. To promote the values of marriage does not stand in the way of fully experiencing the happiness that man and women encounter in their mutual love. Christian faith and ethics are not meant to stifle love, but to make it healthier, stronger and more truly free."
The Pope invited politicians and legislators "to reflect on the evident benefits which homes in peace and harmony assure to individuals and the family, the neuralgic center of society." In this context, he recalled how "the purpose of laws is the integral good of man, in response to his needs and aspirations. This good is a significant help for society, of which it cannot be deprived, and a safeguard and a purification for peoples. The family is also a school which enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity. The experience of being loved by their parents helps children to become aware of their dignity as children.
"Children need to be brought up in the faith, to be loved and protected," he added. "Along with their basic right to be born and to be raised in the faith, children also have the right to a home which takes as its model the home of Nazareth, and to be shielded from all dangers and threats."
Benedict XVI also highlighted the importance of grandparents: "They can be - and so often are - the guarantors of the affection and tenderness which every human being needs to give and receive. They offer little ones the perspective of time, they are memory and richness of families. In no way should they ever be excluded from the family circle. They are a treasure which the younger generation should not be denied, especially when they bear witness to their faith at the approach of death."
After the meeting, the Pope returned to the archbishop's palace where he spent the night.

More from Valencia

Given below are extracts of the Holy Father's Letter to members of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, which he signed Saturday Morning during his visit to the cathedral of Valencia, Spain, and consigned to the president of the conference, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao:
"You know that I follow closely and with much interest the life of the Church in your country, a country with deep Christian roots, one which has greatly contributed and must still contribute to the proclamation and spread of the faith to many other parts of the world. Keep alive and vigorous this spirit, which has accompanied the life of Spaniards throughout their history, so that it will help nourish and vitalize the soul of your people.
"I am aware of, and I encourage, the impulse that you are giving to pastoral activity at a time of rapid secularization, which can also affect the internal life of Christian communities. Continue dauntlessly to proclaim that to live without God, to act as if He did not exist or to relegate faith to the purely private sphere, undermines the truth about man and compromises the future of culture and society."
"Lifting one's gaze to the living God, the garantor of our freedom and of truth, is a premise for arriving at a new humanity. Nowadays, in a special way, the world needs people capable of proclaiming and bearing witness to God Who is love, and consequently the one light which in the end, illumines the darkness of the world and gives us strength to live and work."
"Prompted by your pastoral solicitude and the spirit of full communion in the proclamation of the Gospel, you have guided the Christian conscience of the faithful about different aspects of the situation confronting them. ... You have also made the Eucharist a central theme of your pastoral plan, with the aim of 'revitalizing Christian life from its very heart, since when we enter into the Eucharistic mystery we encounter the heart of God'."
"Brothers in the episcopate, I exhort you earnestly to preserve and increase your fraternal communion, as a witness and model of the ecclesial communion which should reign in all the faithful people entrusted to your care. I pray for you, and I pray for Spain. I ask you to pray for me and for the whole Church. I invoke the Most Holy Virgin Mary, so greatly venerated in your land, asking that she protect and accompany you in your pastoral ministry, and to all of you I impart with great affection my apostolic blessing."

Pope Prays for Accident Victims in Valencia

At 9.30 a.m. Saturday, Benedict XVI departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport bound for the Spanish city of Valencia, where he arrived at 11.30 a.m. The aim of this his first apostolic visit to Spain, and his third trip outside Italy since the beginning of his pontificate, is to preside at the closing ceremony of the Fifth World Meeting of Families which is being held in Valencia on the theme: "Transmission of the Faith within Families."
On his arrival at Valencia's Manises airport, the Holy Father was greeted by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain. He then received the greetings of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, prime minister of Spain, and of other civil and religious authorities, including Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia.
In his address, the Pope thanked the archbishop, his auxiliary bishops and the entire archdiocese of Valencia for their "warm welcome to this World Meeting. I know that in these days you are grieving with the families mourning their dear ones who were victims of a tragic accident, and are also close to the injured."
He then went on: "I wish to set forth the central role that the family based on marriage has for the Church and for society. The family is a unique institution in God's plan, and the Church cannot fail to proclaim and promote its fundamental importance, so that it can live out its vocation with a constant sense of responsibility and joy."
Benedict XVI then recalled how "my venerable predecessor, a great friend of Spain, the beloved John Paul II, called this meeting. ... In union with all taking part, I will implore from the Lord, through the intercession of our Most Holy Mother and the Apostle St. James, plentiful graces for the families of Spain and of the whole world."
Having completed his address, the Pope travelled by popemobile to the Jesus underground railway station where he prayed for the 42 victims killed in an accident there last Monday.
He then travelled to the cathedral of Valencia, dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption, where he paused in prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament. Then, in the cathedral's Chapel of the Holy Chalice, he placed his signature on the Book of Honor, and on a Letter addressed to all Spanish bishops which he consigned to the president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao.
According to local tradition the Holy Chalice, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper, was taken by the Apostle Peter to Rome where it remained in the custody of the Popes until the time of Pope Sixtus II. Shortly before his martyrdom during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian, that Pontiff ordered the Deacon Lawrence to hide it. Lawrence managed to transfer the Grail to his homeland of Huesca in northeastern Spain before his own martyrdom. These events took place around the years 258 - 261. The Chalice remained in Huesca until the Muslim invasion 450 years later. In the year 712, in the face of the advancing Muslim armies, the bishop of Huesca took the Chalice to the monastery of "San Juan de la Pena." Centuries later in 1437, King Alfonso V the Magnanimous donated it to the cathedral of Valencia. In 1982, John Paul II used the Holy Chalice at a eucharistic celebration during which he ordered the single largest number of priests of his pontificate.
The Pope then moved on to the basilica of the "Virgen de los Desamparados." Built between 1652 and 1667, it was there that, in 1961, Blessed Pope John XXIII proclaimed the "Virgen de los Desamparados" as patroness of the entire region of Valencia. In the basilica, Benedict XVI again prayed for the dead and injured of the recent accident on the city's underground railway, accompanied by members of the victims' families.
"Before the 'Virgen de los Desamparados'," said the Holy Father, "we ask her to console all the families suffering the consequences of the accident, which has submerged the children of this city in pain and mourning. With our hearts open to divine mercy, let us together pray the Our Father in memory of those who are now in the presence of God."
Following the brief ceremony, the Pope came out of the basilica into the "Plaza de la Virgen" where, before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered there, he addressed some words to a number of seminarians present accompanied by members of their families.
"Your parent's love, devotion and fidelity, and the harmony which reigns in your families, is the setting which best enables you to hear God's call and to accept the gift of a vocation," he said. "Live intensely the years of preparation in the seminary, with the guidance and help of your formators, and with the docility and complete trust of the Apostles, who followed Jesus without hesitation. Learn from the Virgin Mary how to accept your vocation without reserve, with joy and generosity."
The Pope then addressed some words in the Valencian language to the "Virgen de los Desamparados" saying: "Davant de la Cheperudeta vullc dirli: Ampareumos nit i dia en totes les necessitats, puix que sou, Verge MarĂ­a, Mare dels Desamparats." (Standing before 'La Cheperudeta,' I want to say to her: Protect us night and day in all our needs, for you, O Virgin Mary, are the Mother of the Forlorn).
Having prayed the Angelus, Benedict XVI went to the archbishop's palace, his official residence over the two days of his visit.