Thursday, November 30, 2006

I couldn't resist

Hmmm, if I could grow a beard like that
I would really look like Santa!

Fun With Latin

Jimmy Akin has posted a list of handy Latin phrases. Here are a few of my favorites:

Sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare. I think some people in togas are plotting against me.

Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris. If Caesar were alive, you'd be chained to an oar.

Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam posit materiari? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione. I'm not interested in your dopey religious cult.

Noli me vocare, ego te vocabo. Don't call me, I'll call you.

Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant! May faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy!

Sic faciunt omnes. Everyone is doing it.

Fac ut vivas. Get a life.

Oops, They Did it Again!

Kyodo News is reporting that another illicit Chinese ordination has occured.

China's state-sanctioned Catholic organization said Thursday a priest in the eastern province of Jiangsu has been ordained as bishop coadjutor, marking China's third bishop ordination this year without Vatican approval.

Father Wang Renlei's 2.5-hour ordination ceremony was attended by about 1,000 parishioners, including more than 20 priests from the local Xuzhou diocese and other provinces, vice chairman of the government-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association Liu Bainian told Kyodo News.

Vicar general Wang, 36, was voted to be the bishop coadjutor to assist Bishop Qian Yurong, 94, in an uncontested election in October.

"Qian, who remains as the diocese bishop, has no immediate plan to retire," Liu said.

China ordained Ma Yinglin of Yunnan Province in April and Liu Xinhong of Anhui Province in May without Vatican approval, prompting a statement from the Vatican that hinted at automatic excommunication of the two bishops.

Liu Bainian said that as China does not have diplomatic ties with the Vatican, there is no appropriate channel for China to communicate with it about bishop ordination.

Diplomatic ties between China and the Vatican were severed shortly after the Communist Party took power in 1949.

Talks have been held on and off on restoring ties but two major hurdles remain in the way, namely China's demands that the Vatican cut ties with Taiwan and that the Church stay out of China's internal affairs, which it interprets to include ordination of bishops.

The latest ordination has dealt a "fatal blow" to dialogue between the Holy See and China, a Vatican source was quoted as saying by AsiaNews, a Rome-based website.

The website, frequently reporting on Catholic Church-related matters in Asian countries, reported Wednesday that two Vatican-approved bishops in China's northern province of Hebei were forced to take part in Wang's ordination.

It cited sources as saying that an unspecified number of other bishops expected to take part in the ceremony were kept in isolation and subjected to physical and psychological pressures.

"It is impossible, church matters are managed by the diocese and there is no government interference," Liu said in dismissing the report. "None of the priests and bishops who attended the ceremony had been forced against their will."

Catholics in China are divided into two groups, one worshipping at churches controlled by the Catholic Patriotic Association -- an organization set up by the authorities to keep a grip on the religion -- while others loyal to the Vatican go to underground churches.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bishop Hendricken to be Re-Entombed

The Diocese of Providence has announced that the body of Bishop Thomas Hendricken, the first bishop of Providence will be re-entombed in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul on December 8th. Music from Bishop Hendricken's funeral Mass will be performed.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence today announced that Friday, December 8, 2006 at 12 Noon in the Cathedral SS. Peter and Paul, One Cathedral Square in Providence will mark the solemn return of the body of Bishop Thomas Hendricken, the first Bishop of Providence, to the Cathedral and his re-entombment to a new, dignified resting place. December 8 is also the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a Holy Day of Obligation. Public and media are invited to attend the Mass.

“As the founding Bishop of Providence, Bishop Hendricken was a leader of historic proportions for the Catholic Church in New England,” said Bishop Thomas J. Tobin. “He made the establishment of our present Cathedral his personal and ardent goal – a goal that he would never live to see as the first Mass celebrated in the Cathedral was his funeral. The celebration of the return of Bishop Hendricken, which is significant in itself, is also an opportunity to recall the wonderful history of our Diocesan Church, and to remember with gratitude all those – bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity – who have gone before us in faith.”

Bishop Hendricken was ordained the first Bishop of Providence in 1872 by Pope Pius IX. He was born in born in County Kilkenney, Ireland and emigrated to United States as a missionary. Bishop Hendricken served as shepherd for the Diocese of Providence until his death in 1886, with his Funeral Mass the first Mass said in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul – the Cathedral he built, but never lived to see final completion.

Six bishops were buried separately in a tomb located in the lower area of the Cathedral. The remains of Bishop Tyler, the first bishop of Hartford, were returned to the Archdiocese of Hartford earlier this year. The remaining bishops were interred with fellow priests in the clergy section at St. Ann Cemetery in Cranston. The remains of Bishop Hendricken will be re-entombed in a sarcophagus located to the right of the altar along the interior wall of the Cathedral.

The sarcophagus is candeas green Brazilian granite and was obtained from Quality Granite in Pawtucket. Ten men carried the 2,100 pound sarcophagus into the Cathedral. The Bordeaux granite nameplate above the sarcophagus is also from Brazil. Louis Sciolto of Sciolto Memorials was the general contractor for the project. Fr. Anthony Verdelotti, director of Catholic Cemeteries, designed the sarcophagus.

“As we honor Bishop Hendricken, let us thank God for his faithful and devoted service that has resulted in so much good for the Church and community in Providence,” added Bishop Tobin. Catholic school students and representatives from each of the diocese’s 152 parishes are expected to attend this special Mass. Music from the original Funeral Mass will be performed by members of the Gregorian Concert Choir and Orchestra.

You Know You Want the Pope Calendar!

I am sure that just about everyone knows that the Pope has "posed" for a calendar.

I have the ordering information. Forget the exorbitant prices being asked on e-bay. They are selling on e-bay for nearly $30 and some have sold for as much as $66! The real calendar can be ordered directly from the publisher by e-mailing or Send your request and they will send you the price and the online ordering form.

I sent my request in last night and got a response this morning. I'll let you know when they arrive!

For those who don't know about the calendar, here are the details from CNS.

In Italy, where calendars usually feature scantily clad movie stars or action shots of sports heroes, Pope Benedict XVI agreed to be photographed for a calendar to raise money for Rwandan children.

The calendar, to be released Nov. 23 by the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, features 14 photographs of Pope Benedict taken in August at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo.

The calendar will sell in Italy for 5 euros (US$6.40) with 1 euro (US$1.28) from each calendar going directly to Nazareth Town, a Catholic-run orphanage and hospital caring for more than 300 boys and girls in Mbare, Rwanda.A spokeswoman for Famiglia Cristiana said Nov. 9 there were no plans to publish the calendar outside Italy.

Giancarlo Giuliani, who has been shooting popes for Famiglia Cristiana for 40 years, took the photographs.

"I was on vacation and the editor called and said, 'Come back. We have to go see the pope,'" Giuliani said.He said Colombian Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and a longtime supporter of Nazareth Town, originally had asked Famiglia Cristiana and Pope John Paul II to do a benefit calendar.

After Pope John Paul's death in 2005, Pope Benedict offered to fulfill his predecessor's commitment to the project.

"He is more shy than Pope John Paul," Giuliani said. "But he was incredibly kind and willing."

The photographer said he snapped more than 200 shots of the pope in the villa's chapel, library, office and gardens.

"I tried to get the most spontaneous, natural shots," Giuliani said. "I did not try to pose him."

The 200 shots were whittled down to 40, then 14 were chosen: one for the cover and one for each month from December 2006 to December 2007.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pope To Ride in Armored Car

Times UK is reporting on the tight security surrounding Pope Benedict's visit to Turkey.

The Vatican is so anxious about the Pope’s safety during his trip to Turkey this week that it has vetoed use of the traditional “Popemobile”.

Instead, Pope Benedict XVI will travel in an armour-plated car, with several similar vehicles used as decoys, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the former papal spokesman, said.

Officials have also drawn up contingency plans for him to wear a bulletproof vest beneath his papal vestments as Turkish authorities mount a huge security operation including rooftop snipers, special forces, helicopters and navy speedboats.

Before his first visit to a Muslim country, the Pope tried to defuse further protests yesterday, sending “cordial greetings” of “esteem and sincere friendship” to “the dear Turkish people” when he addressed pilgrims from his window above St Peter’s Square during Angelus prayers.

Papal aides confirmed that, in a conciliatory gesture to Muslims, the Pope had altered his official programme to include a visit to the Blue Mosque, or Sultanahmet, in Istanbul.

He will be the second Pope to set foot in a mosque, after John Paul II in Damascus in 2001.

In a reciprocal gesture Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, indicated that he would “find time” after all to meet the Pope tomorrow at Ankara airport. He insisted that his absence during the Pope’s trip because of a Nato summit in Riga was not a “snub”. The Pope was “welcome” in Turkey, “but whoever comes here must show respect for the Prophet Muhammad”.

The exchanges reflect last-minute efforts on both sides to calm the tensions inflamed by the Pope’s Regensburg speech in September, which referred to Islam as “evil” and “violent”.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the head of the pontifical Council for Christian Unity, one of five cardinals accompanying the Pope, conceded that the trip had become a “minefield”.

He told The Times that the Pope’s aim was to promote dialogue between faiths, even though the original focus had been Catholic reconciliation with the Orthodox Church.

Cardinal Kasper said that the Pope’s encounter on St Andrew’s Day with Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, at the end of his trip remained “of fundamental importance”, as did protection of the Christian minority in Turkey. The two Christian leaders hope to move towards a healing of the 1,000-year-old schism between Latin and Eastern Christianity.

As a cardinal the Pope spoke out against the bid for EU membership by Turkey on religious and cultural grounds. Yesterday Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State, said the Vatican hoped that Turkey would “fulfil the conditions for EU entry”.

Behind the scenes Vatican and Italian security forces have planned for the worst, with agents joining Turkish police in checking security arrangements in Ankara, Istanbul and Ephesus, the main stops on the Pope’s tour.

Video surveillance cameras have been installed around key buildings, including the Holy See embassy in Ankara, where the Pope will stay on the first night of his trip after paying respects at the Mausoleum of Ataturk. Turkish police appealed for restraint at planned protests, saying that they could harm the image of Turkey.

Pray for our Holy Father!

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Sneak Peak at Pope Benedict's New Book

Zenit has a posted the preface of Pope Benedict's new book, "Jesus of Nazareth".

Here is a brief snippet:

I have come to the book on Jesus, the first part of which I now present, following a long interior journey. In the period of my youth -- the thirties and forties -- a series of fascinating books were published on Jesus. I remember the name of some of the authors: Karl Adam, Romano Guardini, Franz Michel Willam, Giovanni Papini, Jean Daniel-Rops. In all these books, the image of Jesus Christ was delineated from the Gospels: how he lived on earth and how, despite his being fully man, at the same time he led men to God, with whom, as Son, he was but one. Thus, through the man Jesus, God was made visible and from God the image of the just man could be seen.

Beginning in the fifties, the situation changed. The split between the "historical Jesus" and the "Christ of faith" became ever greater: One was rapidly removed from the other. However, what meaning could faith in Jesus Christ have, in Jesus the Son of the living God, if the man Jesus was so different from the way he was presented by the evangelists and the way he is proclaimed by the Church from the Gospels? Progress in historical-critical research led to ever more subtle distinctions between the different strata of tradition. In the wake of this research, the figure of Jesus, on which faith leans, became ever more uncertain, it took on increasingly less defined features....

Read the rest here.

It looks like another excellent book from one of my favorite theologians.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Christ, the Church, and the World

The Church in the life and thought of St. Paul, the last in a series of lessons focussing on the figure of the Apostle, was the theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis during the general audience, held this morning in a rain-swept St. Peter's Square.

The Pope recalled how St. Paul's "first contact with the person of Jesus came about through the witness of the Christian community of Jerusalem. ... This gives us the opportunity to make a first important observation: normally we come to Jesus, either to accept Him or refuse Him, through the mediation of the community of believers."

"In a certain way this also happened to St. Paul," said the Pope, although in Paul's case "adherence to the Church was facilitated by a direct intervention of Christ, Who, revealing Himself on the road to Damascus, identified Himself with the Church and made Paul understand that to persecute the Church was to persecute Him. ... From this we can understand why the Church was so present in the thoughts, heart and activity of St. Paul."

He "founded many Churches in the various cities he visited as an evangelizer." And "in his Letters, Paul also explains his doctrine on the Church. ... Particularly well-known is his definition of the Church as the 'body of Christ,' which is not to be found in other first-century Christian writers."

"The deepest roots of this surprising definition of the Church," the Holy Father went on, "are to be found in the Sacrament of the body of Christ. ... In the Eucharist, Christ gives us His Body and makes us His Body. ... In this way, Paul brings us to understand that not only does the Church belong to Christ, but that there is also some form of equivalence and identification between the Church and Christ. Thence springs the greatness and nobility of the Church, in other words, of all of us who, as limbs of Christ, are part of the Church, almost an extension of His personal presence in the world."

"Thence also derive Paul's exhortations regarding the various charisms that animate and give structure to the Christian community," the Holy Father affirmed. "However, it is important that all such charisms work together to build the community and do not become a cause of its break-up."

"Of course, underscoring the need for unity does not mean that ecclesial life must be rendered uniform and dull. ... However, if there is one criterion that Paul holds dear it is that of mutual edification. ... One of the Pauline Letters even goes so far as to present the Church as the bride of Christ, ... both in the sense that love must be exchanged," and that "we must be passionately faithful to Him."

Benedict XVI concluded: "In the final analysis, what is involved is a relationship of communion: vertically between Jesus Christ and all of us, but also horizontally among all those who identify themselves in the world by calling 'on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ'."

Pope Benedict's New Book Not a Magesterial Work

Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., has written a note concerning a forthcoming book by Benedict XVI, scheduled for publication in the spring of 2007. The title of the volume is: "Gesu di Nazareth. Dal Battesimo nel Giordano alla Trasfigurazione" (Jesus of Nazareth, From His Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration).

The Vatican Publishing House, which holds the copyright on all the Pope's writings, has ceded the world rights for the translation, distribution and marketing of this book to the Rizzoli Publishing House.

"The fact that Benedict XVI has managed to complete the first part of his great book on Jesus, and that within a few months we will have it in our hands, is wonderful news," writes Fr. Lombardi in his note. "I find it extraordinary that despite the duties and concerns of the pontificate, he has managed to complete a work of such great academic and spiritual depth. He says he dedicated all his free time to the project; and this itself is a very significant indication of the importance and urgency the book has for him.

"With his habitual simplicity and humility, the Pope explains that this is not a 'work of Magisterium' but the fruit of his own research, and as such it can be freely discussed and criticized. This is a very important observation, because it makes clear that what he writes in the book in no way binds the research of exegetes and theologians. It is not a long encyclical on Jesus, but a personal presentation of the figure of Jesus by the theologian Joseph Ratzinger, who has been elected as Bishop of Rome."

In the book's preface, Fr. Lombardi's note says, the Holy Father "explains that in modern culture, and in many presentations of the figure of Jesus, the gap between the 'historical Jesus' and the 'Christ of the faith' has become ever wider. ... Joseph Ratzinger, taking into consideration all the achievements of modern research, aims to present the Jesus of the Gospels as the real 'historical Jesus,' as a sensible and convincing figure to Whom we can and must trustingly refer, and upon Whom we have good reason to base our faith and our Christian life. With his book, then, the Pope aims to offer a fundamental service to support the faith of his brothers and sisters, and he does so from the central element of the faith: Jesus Christ."

In the introduction to the book, Fr. Lombardi continues, "Jesus is presented to us as the new Moses, the new prophet who speaks with 'God face to face,' ... the Son, deeply united to the Father. If this essential aspect is overlooked, the figure of Jesus become contradictory and incomprehensible. With passion, Joseph Ratzinger speaks to us of Jesus' intimate union with the Father, and wishes to ensure that Jesus' disciples participate in this communion. It is, then, a great work of exegesis and theology, but also a great work of spirituality."

Fr. Lombardi concludes: "Recalling the profound impression and the spiritual fruits that, as a young man, I drew from reading Joseph Ratzinger's first work - 'Introduction to Christianity' - I am sure that this time too we will not be disappointed, but that both believers and all people truly disposed to understand more fully the figure of Jesus, will be immensely grateful to the Pope for his great witness as a thinker, scholar and man of faith, on the most essential point of the entire Christian faith."

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pope Benedict Meets With the President of Italy

This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic, on an official visit. President Napolitano took office on May 15 this year.

Following a private meeting in his library, the Holy Father delivered an address, which was followed by some words from President Napolitano.

"Church and State," said Pope Benedict, "are both called, according to their respective missions and with their own ends and means, to serve man, ... and they collaborate in promoting his integral good."

The Holy Father highlighted how the civil community's solicitude for the good of citizens "cannot be limited ... to their physical health, economic wellbeing, intellectual formation and social relationships," and he stressed the fact that "human beings present themselves before the State also in their religious dimension."

"It would be reductive to consider that the right to religious freedom is sufficiently guaranteed when personal convictions suffer no violence or interference, or when we limit ourselves to respecting the expression of faith within the confines of a place of worship. It cannot, in fact, be forgotten that 'the social nature of man itself requires that he should give external expression to his internal acts of religion: that he should share with others in matters religious; that he should profess his religion in community.' Religious freedom is, then, not just of individuals, but also of families, of religious groups and of the Church herself."

"Adequate respect of the right to religious freedom," said the Pope, "implies, then, the commitment of civil authorities in helping to create 'conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life, in order that the people may be truly enabled to exercise their religious rights and to fulfill their religious duties'."

"The freedom that the Church and Christians claim does not prejudice the interests of the State or of other social groups, and does not seek an authoritative supremacy over them. Rather, it is a condition enabling ... the fulfillment of the vital service that the Church offers to Italy, and to all other countries in which she is present. This service to society, ... is also expressed towards the civil and political spheres. Indeed, although it is true that by her nature and mission 'the Church is not and does not intend to be a political player,' nonetheless she 'has a profound interest in the good of the political community'."

The Pope went on: "This specific contribution is chiefly made by the lay faithful," who "when they commit themselves through word and deed to confronting the great modern challenges, ... do not act out of their own specific interests or in the name of principles perceptible only to people who profess a specific religious creed. Rather, they do so in the context of, and following the rules of, democratic coexistence, for the good of all of society and in the name of values that all people of good will can share."

At the end of his address, the Pope expressed the hope that Italy "may continue to advance along the path of authentic progress, and offer the international community its precious contribution, always promoting those human and Christian values that have forged the country's history and culture, and its heritage of ideals, laws and arts; values that still lie at the base of the lives and activities of its citizens. These efforts," he concluded, "will not lack the loyal and generous contribution of the Catholic Church through the teaching of her bishops, ... and the work of all the faithful."

In his talk, President Napolitano highlighted his "profound awareness of the Catholic Church's exalted universal mission, and of the precious service she offers the nation." He also recalled how, "in Italy, the harmony of relations between State and Church has been and still is guaranteed by the lay principle of distinction, as sanctioned in the Constitution, as well as by the commitment - proclaimed in the agreements of revision of the Concordat - 'to reciprocal collaboration for the promotion of man and for the good of the country.' ... We believe deeply in the importance of such collaboration," the president added, and "we know and appreciate ... the public and social dimensions of religion."

Following his meeting with the Pope, the Italian president went on to visit Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., with whom he held a private meeting. He was then accompanied to the Sala Regia, where the cardinal secretary of State introduced him the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

In the Sala Regia, Cardinal Bertone delivered a talk in which he highlighted "the breadth of the relations the Holy See maintains with numerous States on all continents and with various international organizations. ... It is not by chance that even those who do not share our Christian faith look to the Pope as spokesman of the supreme moral prerequisites, and heed his calls for respect for the dignity of man, the promotion of peace and development, and sincere collaboration between peoples, religions and cultures for a better future for the human family."

The official ceremony concluded with a visit by President Napolitano to St. Peter's Basilica.

The Holy See Press Office released an official communique at the end of the Italian president's visit: "During the cordial discussions, satisfaction was expressed for the good relations between the Holy See and Italy, and between Church and State in the country. While respecting the right to religious freedom, and the respective autonomy of the ecclesial and civil communities, as well as their mutual collaboration, Italian Catholics will continue to make their contribution towards the dignity of man, the protection of life and the family, and the common good of society."

"The meetings also provided an opportunity to consider various aspects of international life, with particular emphasis on the delicate situation in the Middle East, on the prospects for the process of European integration, and on the serious problems of the African continent. The Holy See and Italy will continue to collaborate for a better working of international institutions."

The Value of the Cloister

Yesterday, in his remarks prior to praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled cloistered religious communities who, on November 21, celebrate the Day "pro Orantibus," which is dedicated to them.

"This is a particularly appropriate occasion," said the Pope to the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, "to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves entirely to God in prayer and silence.

"Some people ask themselves," he added, "what meaning and value can the presence of such people have in our time, in which the situations of want and poverty we have to face are so numerous and urgent. Why 'cloister' oneself forever within the walls of a monastery, thus depriving others ... of one's abilities and experiences? What effect can prayer have for resolving the many concrete problems that continue to afflict humanity?"

Also today, many are surprised by "the people who abandon often promising careers to embrace the austere rule of a cloistered monastery. What is it that pushes them to such a radical step if not having understood, as the Gospel teaches, that the Kingdom of heaven is 'a treasure' for which it is truly worthwhile to abandon everything?"

Such people, the Pope explained, "bear silent witness to the fact that in the midst of the uncertainties of daily life, ... the only support that never fails is God. ... And in the face of the widespread need, felt by many, to escape the daily routine of the great urban centers in search of spaces suitable for silence and contemplation, monasteries of contemplative life are like 'oases' in which man, a pilgrim upon earth, can better draw upon the sources of the Spirit and quench his thirst on his journey.

"These places, then, apparently useless, are in fact indispensable. Like the green 'lungs' of a city, they are good for everyone, even for people who ... perhaps do not know of their existence."

After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled that today is the day of road accident victims, and he invited everyone to pray for those killed in traffic accidents, entrusting "the injured, many of who are often permanently disabled," to the Virgin Mary. "I tirelessly ask motorists to respect the traffic regulations, and always to pay attention to others," he concluded.

The Purpose of Marriage

On November 18th, the Pope received the second group of prelates from the German Bishops' Conference, at the end of their "ad limina" visit.

Opening his talk to them, the Holy Father highlighted how, "the encounter with the living Christ is always at the heart of our service, an encounter that confers a decisive orientation upon our lives."

Proceeding with his address, Benedict XVI referred to the bishops' concern "for an adequate development of pastoral structures to meet the present situation." In this context he pointed out how, faced with falling numbers of priests and of faithful attending Sunday Mass, various German dioceses are implementing models for restructuring pastoral care, in which the image of the pastor "risks being obscured."

I am sure, he told the prelates, "that you will give your approval only to those structural reforms that are in full harmony with the Church's teaching on the priesthood and with her juridical norms, ensuring that the implementation of reforms does not diminish the power of attraction of the priestly ministry."

Referring to the question of lay participation in ecclesial structures, the Holy Father recalled "the broad and open field of the lay apostolate ... and its multiple tasks." These include, he said, announcing the Gospel, catechesis, charity work, the media of social communication, and "social commitment for the integral protection of human life and social justice."

The Pope then turned to consider the question of "announcing the faith to the young people of our time," who live "in a secularized culture" in which God is absent. It is important, he said, that, in the Church, acolytes "encounter God, His Word, and the Sacrament of His presence, and that they learn to model their lives on this basis." As for ecclesial movements, the Pope told the bishops that "we must respect the specific nature of their charisms, and be happy that shared forms of faith come into being in which the Word of God becomes life."

The Church's charitable activity must, said Pope Benedict "be kept apart from the confusion of political interests, ... and used for the good of people." In this field, he called for "close collaboration with bishops and with episcopal conferences."

"The order of marriage as established at the creation," said the Holy Father, "is becoming progressively obscured today." In the face of a materialist culture, "it is difficult for young people to commit themselves to one another definitively," to have children, "and to offer them that lasting space for growth and maturity which only the family based upon marriage can provide."

In such as situation, he went on, "it is vitally important to help young people to pronounce that definitive 'yes,' which does not contrast with freedom but, rather, represents its greatest opportunity. In the patience of remaining together for a lifetime, love achieves its true maturity. And in such an environment of lifelong love, children also learn to live and to love."

Finally, the Pope turned to the question of ecumenism. "In Germany," he said, "our efforts must be directed, above all towards Christians of Lutheran and Reformed faith. ... Ecumenical commitment cannot be entirely fulfilled with joint documents. It becomes visible and effective where Christians from different Churches and ecclesial communities - in a social context that is ever further removed from religion - profess, together and convincingly, the values transmitted by the Christian faith, and emphasize them forcefully in their political and social activities."

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Being a Slave for God

St. Paul was, once again, the theme of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his weekly general audience, held Wednesday morning in St. Peter's Square.

"Having meditated last week upon St. Paul's writings concerning Jesus Christ's central position in our life of faith," said the Pope, "today we consider what he says about the Holy Spirit."

"St. Paul, in his Letters, ... does not limit himself to explaining just the dynamic and active role of the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, but also analyzes the presence of the Spirit in the lives of Christians, whose identity is thereby marked. In other words, Paul reflects upon the Spirit, explaining its influence not only upon the activities of Christians but also upon their being."

Quoting the words of St. Paul, the Holy Father said: "You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship." It is clear then, he went on, "that Christians, even before they act, possess a rich and fruitful inner life ... that instates them in a ... filial relationship with God. This is our greatest dignity, that of being not just the image but the children of God," which, in turn, "is an invitation to transform this objective gift into a subjective reality, that determines our way of thinking, acting and being."

"Paul also teaches us," the Holy Father continued, "that there is no true prayer without the presence of the Spirit within us." The Spirit is "like the soul of our soul, the most secret part of our being, whence a prayer incessantly rises towards God."

"Another aspect of the Spirit ... is its association with love. ... The Spirit introduces us into the very rhythm of divine life, which is a life of love. ... And since by definition love unites, this means, above all, that the Spirit is a creator of communion within the Christian community."

"Finally, the Spirit, according to St. Paul, is a generous down payment given us by God Himself as a foretaste and guarantee of our future inheritance. ...The action of the Spirit guides our lives towards the great values of love, joy, communion and hope."

Aborted Babies to be Used to Make Vaccines

H/T to Fr. Landry.

The FDA has invited the general public to voice their opinions regarding the use of aborted babies to make vaccines for Ebola, HIV, Influenza, and Avian Flu.

More information can be found here and here.

Please voice your opposition to this evil.

Write to the FDA before December 28 at:
Divisions of Docket Management, HFA-305
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane
Room 1061
Rockville MD 20845

Include Docket Number 2006D-0383 on your correspondence.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I Wouldn't Miss This For Anything

Avery Cardinal Dulles will give the keynote address at a symposium entitled Divine Impassibility and the Mystery of Human Suffering. The symposium will be from March 30-31st at my school...Providence College.

The Providence College website describes the event as follows:

The question of divine impassibility has resurfaced in theological literature in recent years, reigniting long-standing debate on classical metaphysics and Christian revelation.

Providence College is pleased to announce an upcoming theological conference which will highlight a particular issue: the relationship among divine impassibility, human suffering, and divine providence.

How does a doctrine of God's passibility or impassibility affect how we understand his governance of the world, particularly with regard to human suffering?

Theologians from a diversity of Christian confessional traditions will discuss these subjects, providing impetus for reflection from a variety of theoretical standpoints.

The other speakers are:

Paul L. Gavrilyuk, Ph.D.
Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Ph.D.
Bruce Lindley McCormack, Ph.D.
Peter Casarella, Ph.D.
Bruce D. Marshall, Ph.D.
Paul Gondreau, Ph.D.
Robert W. Jenson, Ph.D.
R. Trent Pomplun, Ph.D.
David Bentley Hart, Ph.D.
Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., Ph.D.
Fr. Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM, Cap., Ph.D.

Needless to say, I will be there.

For more information, including registration information, visit the event website.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Ethics of Marriage and the Family

At the close of his meeting with prelates from the Conference of Swiss Bishops and heads of certain dicasteries of the Roman Curia, which took place on the afternoon of November 9, Benedict XVI pronounced an address, the text of which was made public today.

"We must nor allow our faith to be drained by too much discussion on a multiplicity of less-important details," said the Pope. "It is fundamental to highlight the greatness of our faith. ... Above all, it is important to cultivate a personal relationship with God, with the God Who showed Himself to us in Christ."

"God," he continued, "is 'Spiritus creator,' He is 'Logos,' He is reason. Because of this our faith is something that involves reason. It can be transmitted through reason and need not hide itself in the face of reason, not even the reason of our own times. ... Reason, indeed, has a heart, and so was able to renounce its own immensity and become flesh. In this and only in this, I believe, lies the ultimate and true greatness of our concept of God. We know that God is not a philosophical hypothesis, He is not something that perhaps exists, rather we know Him and He knows us. And we can know Him ever better if we maintain a dialogue with Him.

"Hence," the Holy Father added, "it is a fundamental task of pastoral care to teach others to pray and to learn to do so ourselves." In this context, he referred to the importance of "increasing the number of prayer schools, ... where personal prayer can be learned it all its dimensions."

"This intimacy with God and, hence, the experience of the presence of God is what brings us ... to experience the greatness of Christianity. It helps us to overcome all pettiness, and must be experienced and realized day by day - suffering and loving, in joy and in sadness."

Another theme to which the Holy Father turned his attention during his address to the prelates was that of ethics. "I often hear it said that people today feel nostalgia for God, spirituality and religion, and that they begin to see the Church as a possible interlocutor from which something may be received in this regard. ... However, what people find very difficult are the ethics the Church proclaims. I have long reflected upon this matter, and I see ever more clearly how, in our time, it is as if ethics have divided into two parts. Modern society is not simply ethic-less but has, so to say, 'discovered' and claimed another aspect of ethics which, in the Church's announcement over recent decades ... has not been sufficiently emphasized. This includes the great themes of peace, non-violence, justice for all, care for the poor and respect for creation.

"All this," he added, "has grown into an ethical system which has great power as a political force and, for many people, represents a substitute or surrogate for religion. In place of religion, which is seen as a metaphysical entity concerning the hereafter - perhaps even as something individualistic - these great moral themes appear to be the essential questions that confer dignity upon man."

"The other aspect of ethics, which politics not infrequently takes up in a highly controversial manner, concerns life. Part of this is the commitment to life from conception to natural death; in other words, defending life against abortion and euthanasia, against its manipulation, and against man's self-legitimization to dispose of life as he chooses. Often, people seek to justify such intervention with the apparently exalted intention of its being useful to future generations."

"The ethics of marriage and the family are part of the same context. Marriage is, so to say, becoming ever more marginalized. We know the example of certain countries where there have been legislative modifications according to which marriage is no longer defined as a bond between man and woman, but as a bond between persons. This clearly destroys the basic idea (of marriage), and society, from its very roots, becomes something completely different."

Benedict XVI went on: "The belief that sexuality, eros and marriage, as the union between a man and a woman, go together ... is becoming ever weaker. All kinds of union appear absolutely normal," and "this is presented as a kind of morality of non-discrimination and a form of freedom that is mankind's due. Thus the indissolubility of marriage has become an almost utopian idea." Moreover, although "the problem of the disturbing drop in birth rates has multiple explanations," a decisive factor is that "people have little faith in the future," and that "the family as a durable community" is considered an unattainable goal.

"In these areas, then, our announcement comes up against a counter-belief of society, with a sort of anti-morality based on its concept of freedom as the faculty to decide autonomously without predefined guidance, as non-discrimination, and hence as the approval of all possibilities."

"But other beliefs have not disappeared. They exist, and I believe we must make every effort to bring these two parts of ethics back together, and make it clear that they are inseparably linked. ... I believe we are facing a great task: on the one hand, ensuring that Christianity does not appear as mere moralism but as a gift in which we are given a love that supports us. ... On the other hand, in this context of donated love, we must advance towards giving concrete form (to our ideas), on the foundation of the Ten Commandments which, with Christ and the Church, we must read in our own time in a new and progressive light."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Have the Jesuits Lost Touch with Reality?

Sandro Magister has written an interesting commentary on an editorial written in the Jesuit magazine “La Civiltà Cattolica”.

He writes:
The editorial acknowledges that after September 11, 2001, “acts of terrorism have increased.” This “recrudescence” of Islamist terrorism – in the judgment of “La Civiltà Cattolica” – is mainly a “consequence” of the wars waged by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. That the Holy See considered the war in Iraq a mistake is well known. But the editorial in “La Civiltà Cattolica” goes so far as to establish a general rule. It writes that any war against “countries that harbor, finance, or train terrorist groups” is always “a serious political error.” And it explains its assumption this way: “The reason is simple: the military invasion of an Islamic country, like Afghanistan or Iraq, is considered by the entire Islamic umma [nation] as a grave offense against Allah, because this is a negation of its rights and a usurpation of its authority, which is expressed in sharia.

Read the complete article here.

Beware of False Relics

Ansa is reporting that there are false relics of Pope John Paul II being sold in shops near the Vatican.

Small pieces of cloth being sold near the Vatican as 'relics' of the ever popular John Paul II are bogus, Catholic Church authorities warned on Thursday .

Scraps of material which have allegedly been rubbed against the tomb of the late pontiff are being sold to tourists in at least one souvenir shop .

The scraps of material, encased in a round piece of transparent plastic, are available in three sizes and start at 3 euros each .

The same shop is also selling statuettes of the Polish pontiff on which he is described as Saint John Paul II, even though the process expected to lead to his canonisation is still long from over .

The shopkeeper was asked by a journalist on Thursday whether the articles had been approved for sale by the Vatican. He declined to answer .

Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the official in charge of John Paul's canonisation process, said that the cloth 'relics' now on sale had definitely not received a green light from either his office or the Rome diocese ."

They have no official recognition and anyway what's the point of rubbing cloth on his tomb when you can have a piece of one of his robes?" he said .Msgr Oder pointed out that pilgrims and devotees can obtain official John Paul relics free of charge through his office at the diocesan headquarters .

The authorised items comprise a small picture of the Polish pope together with a fragment cut out of one of the tunics he wore as pope .

Ever since John Paul died in April 2005, pilgrims have been coming to Rome to visit his tomb at St Peter's Basilica. Souvenir shops do a roaring trade in gadgets, calendars, posters showing the popular pontiff's face.

The widespread fascination with the charismatic figure has been fed by numerous TV dramas and films about his life. Meanwhile, procedures are under way to have the late pope declared a saint and there are frequent reports of alleged miracles attributed to him .

The Importance of Eucharistic Adoration

This morning, the Holy Father received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

In his address to the delegates, the Pope first recalled how they are currently preparing the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, due to be held in Quebec, Canada, in June 2008. Eucharistic congresses, he went on, "are always a source of spiritual renewal, an occasion to make better known the Blessed Eucharist, which was the most valuable treasure Jesus left us. They also constitute an encouragement for the Church to spread the love of Christ at all levels of society, and to testify to it without hesitation."

The presence at the gathering of a number of representatives of the Adorers of the Eucharist, said Benedict XVI, gave him the opportunity to recall "just how beneficial the rediscovery of Eucharistic adoration by many Christians is. ... How much need modern humanity has to rediscover the source of its hope in the Sacrament of the Eucharist! I thank the Lord because many parishes, alongside the devout celebration of Mass, are educating the faithful in Eucharistic adoration. And it is my hope that - also in view of the next International Eucharistic Congress - this practice will become ever more widespread."

Referring to the forthcoming post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, which will bring together the indications that arose during the October 2005 Synod on that Sacrament, the Pope concluded by giving assurances that the document "will help the Church to prepare and celebrate ... the Eucharistic congress to be held in June 2008."

Placing Trust in God

In yesterday's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of more than 15,000 people, Benedict XVI continued his catechesis on the figure of St. Paul.

The meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus, the Pope explained, "literally revolutionized his life. Christ became his raison d'etre and the profound inspiration behind all his apostolic labors. ... In truth, Christ Jesus is the apex of the history of salvation and, hence, the true point of reference in dialogue with other religions."

"Paul helps us to understand the absolutely fundamental and irreplaceable value of the faith," said the Holy Father, quoting the Apostle's words: "we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the Law." Being justified, the Holy Father continued, "means being made righteous, in other words being accepted by God's merciful justice and, ... being able to establish a much more authentic relationship with our fellows."

In the light of his meeting with Christ, Paul, who was not a man who had lived outside the Law, understood "that he had been seeking to construct his own justice, and that with that justice he had lived for himself. He understood that it was absolutely necessary to give a new direction to his life. ... Before the cross of Christ, the extreme expression of His sacrifice, no one can boast of themselves, of their own justice."

"Reflecting upon the meaning of justification not by works but by faith we have come to the second defining component of Christian identity," said Pope Benedict. Indeed, Christian identity has two elements: "not seeking oneself by oneself, but receiving oneself from Christ and giving oneself to Christ," and "participating personally in Christ's own story, to the point of immerging oneself in Him and sharing both His death and His life."

"For Paul," he concluded, "it is not enough to say that Christians are baptized or that they are believers. For him, it is equally important to say that they are 'in Christ Jesus.' ... That which we, as Christians, are, we owe it only to Him and to His grace. And because nothing and no one can take His place, then to nothing else and to no one else do we pay the homage we pay to Him. No idol must contaminate our spiritual universe. Otherwise, instead of enjoying the freedom we have acquired, we would fall into a form of humiliating slavery. ... Our radical devotion to Christ and the fact that we 'are in Him' must infuse us with a sense of complete trust."

In greetings at the close of the general audience, the Pope addressed himself especially to young people of different nations and religious traditions who recently gathered in Assisi, Italy, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Inter-religious Meeting of Prayer for Peace called by John Paul II.

Speaking English, the Holy Father thanked the various religious leaders "who enabled the young people to take part in this event, and the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue which organized it.

"Dear young friends," he added, "our world urgently needs peace! The Assisi meeting emphasized the power of prayer in building peace. Genuine prayer transforms hearts, opens us to dialogue, understanding and reconciliation, and breaks down the walls erected by violence, hatred and revenge. May you now return to your own religious communities as witnesses to 'the spirit of Assisi,' messengers of that peace which is God's gracious gift, and living signs of hope for our world."


Celebrating the Pope's Cathedral

Today is the feast of the dedication of the Cathedral Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the Lateran. Commonly called St. John, Lateran or the Lateran Basilica, this is the Cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome. St. John, Lateran, not St. Peter's is the Pope's church.

While the dedication of a cathedral is usually only celebrated in the diocese in which the cathedral is located, St. John, Lateran holds such an important place in the Church that it's dedication is celebrated as a mandatory feast throughout the world. In fact, it is one of the few feast days which is celebrated on Sunday, should the feast happen to occur on a Sunday.

Despite what I have heard tour guides and countless others say, there is no Saint named John Lateran. Rather, the basilica is dedicated to both St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist and is built on land once owned by the Lateran family. Under the altar is a wooden table believed to be the altar on which St. Peter, the Apostle celebrated Mass.

Tradition also holds that the baldachino hold the heads of both St. Peter and St. Paul.

It was the first basilica and it's construction was ordered by Constantine, The original building was destroyed by earthquake, then rebuilt and destroyed by fire and rebuilt again. Although the building which is currently standing is not the original, it maintains the original layout.

On a related note, today is the second anniversary of my son's baptism. Yes, he was baptized on a Tuesday.

All photos by Domini Sumus

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pope Purchases First Immunization Bond

Today in London, England, Cardinal Renato Raffale Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, purchased, in the Holy Father's name, the first bond for the eradication of poverty issued by the International Financing Facility for Immunization (IFFIm).

The IFFIm came into being in the wake of a project presented by Gordon Brown, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, at an international seminar on "Poverty and Globalization: Financing for Development," organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 2004. The money raised will go directly to those most in need, especially children. Purchase of the bonds - which are guaranteed by various governments who will pay the interest and reimburse them on the expiry date - is open to anyone: institutions, organizations and private citizens.

"Benedict XVI's gesture, at once real and symbolic, expresses the Holy See's full support for an initiative which, with broad international guarantees, will produce immediate and direct advantages in the field of aid and development, producing new financing with specific and urgent aims," says a communique made public today. For example, thanks to the IFFIm, "by 2015, in 72 countries the lives of 10 million people will have been saved, 5 million of them children."

In a brief address delivered in English at the moment of purchasing the first bond, Cardinal Martino said: "People living in poverty are looking forward to the time when corruption at the various levels of government or in the social sector will no longer hinder opportunities for development from reaching all members of society. A government that is truly responsive to the needs of its people is not only a necessity for development, it should also be seen as a right.

"Pope Benedict XVI believes that this is the time," he added. "This is why he has decided that the Holy See would participate in the International Finance Facility bond program. His Holiness recognizes the need to quickly provide the funds in order to respond to poverty, hunger, the lack of educational and literacy opportunities and the ongoing fight against the scourge of malaria and the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis."

Science Can't Answer All Our Questions

At midday yesterday, the Pope received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, headed by the president of that institution, Nicola Cabibbo. They have been meeting to consider the theme: "Predictability in Science: Accuracy and Limitations."

Addressing his audience in English, the Holy Father observed how some people "have seen in the progress of modern science and technology one of the main causes of secularization and materialism: why invoke God's control over these phenomena when science has shown itself capable of doing the same thing?"

"Christianity does not posit an inevitable conflict between supernatural faith and scientific progress," he stressed, recalling how "God created human beings, endowed them with reason, and set them over all the creatures of the earth." In this way, man became "the steward of creation and God's 'helper.' ... Indeed, we could say that the work of predicting, controlling and governing nature, which science today renders more practicable than in the past, is itself a part of the Creator's plan."

"Man cannot place in science and technology so radical and unconditional a trust as to believe that scientific and technological progress can explain everything and completely fulfil all his existential and spiritual needs. Science cannot replace philosophy and revelation by giving an exhaustive answer to man's most radical questions: questions about the meaning of living and dying, about ultimate values, and about the nature of progress itself."

Pope Benedict then went on to address the issue of a scientist's ethical responsibilities. "His conclusions must be guided by respect for truth," he said, "and an honest acknowledgment of both the accuracy and the inevitable limitations of the scientific method. Certainly this means avoiding needlessly alarming predictions when these are not supported by sufficient data or exceed science's actual ability to predict. But it also means avoiding the opposite, namely a silence, born of fear, in the face of genuine problems. The influence of scientists in shaping public opinion on the basis of their knowledge is too important to be undermined by undue haste or the pursuit of superficial publicity."

"Our world continues to look to you and your colleagues" the Pope told his audience, "for a clear understanding of the possible consequences of many important natural phenomena. I think, for example, of the continuing threats to the environment which are affecting whole peoples, and the urgent need to discover safe, alternative energy sources available to all.

"Scientists," he added, "will find support from the Church in their efforts to confront these issues, since the Church has received from her divine founder the task of guiding people's consciences towards goodness, solidarity and peace. Precisely for this reason she feels in duty bound to insist that science's ability to predict and control must never be employed against human life and its dignity, but always placed at its service, at the service of this and future generations."

"The scientific method itself," the Pope warned, "has inherent limitations that necessarily restrict scientific predictability to specific contexts and approaches. Science cannot, therefore, presume to provide a complete, deterministic representation of our future and of the development of every phenomenon that it studies.

"Philosophy and theology might make an important contribution to this fundamentally epistemological question by, for example, helping the empirical sciences to recognize a difference between the mathematical inability to predict certain events and the validity of the principle of causality, or, ... more radically, between evolution as the origin of a succession in space and time, and creation as the ultimate origin of participated being in essential Being."

The Holy Father concluded: "At the same time, there is a higher level that necessarily transcends all scientific predictions, namely, the human world of freedom and history. Whereas the physical cosmos can have its own spatial-temporal development, only humanity, strictly speaking, has a history, the history of its freedom. Freedom, like reason, is a precious part of God's image within us, and it can never be reduced to a deterministic analysis"

Here is the full text of the Holy Father's speech.

Monday, 6 November 2006

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to greet the members of Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the occasion of this Plenary Assembly, and I thank Professor Nicola Cabibbo for his kind words of greeting in your name. The theme of your meeting – “Predictability in Science: Accuracy and Limitations” – deals with a distinctive attribute of modern science. Predictability, in fact, is one of the chief reasons for science’s prestige in contemporary society. The establishment of the scientific method has given the sciences the ability to predict phenomena, to study their development, and thus to control the environment in which man lives.

This increasing ‘advance’ of science, and especially its capacity to master nature through technology, has at times been linked to a corresponding ‘retreat’ of philosophy, of religion, and even of the Christian faith. Indeed, some have seen in the progress of modern science and technology one of the main causes of secularization and materialism: why invoke God’s control over these phenomena when science has shown itself capable of doing the same thing? Certainly the Church acknowledges that “with the help of science and technology…, man has extended his mastery over almost the whole of nature”, and thus “he now produces by his own enterprise benefits once looked for from heavenly powers” (Gaudium et Spes, 33). At the same time, Christianity does not posit an inevitable conflict between supernatural faith and scientific progress. The very starting-point of Biblical revelation is the affirmation that God created human beings, endowed them with reason, and set them over all the creatures of the earth. In this way, man has become the steward of creation and God’s “helper”. If we think, for example, of how modern science, by predicting natural phenomena, has contributed to the protection of the environment, the progress of developing nations, the fight against epidemics, and an increase in life expectancy, it becomes clear that there is no conflict between God’s providence and human enterprise. Indeed, we could say that the work of predicting, controlling and governing nature, which science today renders more practicable than in the past, is itself a part of the Creator’s plan.

Science, however, while giving generously, gives only what it is meant to give. Man cannot place in science and technology so radical and unconditional a trust as to believe that scientific and technological progress can explain everything and completely fulfil all his existential and spiritual needs. Science cannot replace philosophy and revelation by giving an exhaustive answer to man’s most radical questions: questions about the meaning of living and dying, about ultimate values, and about the nature of progress itself. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council, after acknowledging the benefits gained by scientific advances, pointed out that the “scientific methods of investigation can be unjustifiably taken as the supreme norm for arriving at truth”, and added that “there is a danger that man, trusting too much in the discoveries of today, may think that he is sufficient unto himself and no longer seek the higher values” (ibid., 57).

Scientific predictability also raises the question of the scientist’s ethical responsibilities. His conclusions must be guided by respect for truth and an honest acknowledgment of both the accuracy and the inevitable limitations of the scientific method. Certainly this means avoiding needlessly alarming predictions when these are not supported by sufficient data or exceed science’s actual ability to predict. But it also means avoiding the opposite, namely a silence, born of fear, in the face of genuine problems. The influence of scientists in shaping public opinion on the basis of their knowledge is too important to be undermined by undue haste or the pursuit of superficial publicity. As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, once observed: “Scientists, precisely because they ‘know more’, are called to ‘serve more’. Since the freedom they enjoy in research gives them access to specialized knowledge, they have the responsibility of using that knowledge wisely for the benefit of the entire human family” (Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 11 November 2002).

Dear Academicians, our world continues to look to you and your colleagues for a clear understanding of the possible consequences of many important natural phenomena. I think, for example, of the continuing threats to the environment which are affecting whole peoples, and the urgent need to discover safe, alternative energy sources available to all. Scientists will find support from the Church in their efforts to confront these issues, since the Church has received from her divine founder the task of guiding people’s consciences towards goodness, solidarity and peace. Precisely for this reason she feels in duty bound to insist that science’s ability to predict and control must never be employed against human life and its dignity, but always placed at its service, at the service of this and future generations.

There is one final reflection that the subject of your Assembly can suggest to us today. As some of the papers presented in the last few days have emphasized, the scientific method itself, in its gathering of data and in the processing and use of those data in projections, has inherent limitations that necessarily restrict scientific predictability to specific contexts and approaches. Science cannot, therefore, presume to provide a complete, deterministic representation of our future and of the development of every phenomenon that it studies. Philosophy and theology might make an important contribution to this fundamentally epistemological question by, for example, helping the empirical sciences to recognize a difference between the mathematical inability to predict certain events and the validity of the principle of causality, or between scientific indeterminism or contingency (randomness) and causality on the philosophical level, or, more radically, between evolution as the origin of a succession in space and time, and creation as the ultimate origin of participated being in essential Being.

At the same time, there is a higher level that necessarily transcends all scientific predictions, namely, the human world of freedom and history. Whereas the physical cosmos can have its own spatial-temporal development, only humanity, strictly speaking, has a history, the history of its freedom. Freedom, like reason, is a precious part of God’s image within us, and it can never be reduced to a deterministic analysis. Its transcendence vis-à-vis the material world must be acknowledged and respected, since it is a sign of our human dignity. Denying that transcendence in the name of a supposed absolute ability of the scientific method to predict and condition the human world would involve the loss of what is human in man, and, by failing to recognize his uniqueness and transcendence, could dangerously open the door to his exploitation.

Dear friends, as I conclude these reflections, I once more assure you of my close interest in the activities of this Pontifical Academy and of my prayers for you and your families. Upon all of you I invoke Almighty God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.

© Copyright 2006 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

The Unrepentant Exclude Themselves From the Kingdom of LIfe

At midday Sunday, in his remarks prior to the Angelus prayer, Benedict XVI told the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square that these days following the recent commemoration of All Souls represent "a good occasion to recall our loved ones in prayer, and to reflect upon the reality of death."

A reality, the Pope went on, that wealthy societies "often seek to remove from people's consciences, which are entirely occupied with the concerns of daily life." However, "despite all the distractions, the loss of a loved one causes us to rediscover 'the problem,' making us feel death as a real presence, radically hostile and contrary to our natural vocation to life and happiness.

"Jesus revolutionized the meaning of death," the Holy Father added. "He did so with His teachings, but above all by facing death Himself. ... With the Spirit that cannot die - one of the Church Fathers writes - Christ killed death that kills man. In this way, the Son of God wished to share our human condition, ... and reopen it to hope."

"Since then, death is not the same, it has been deprived, so to say, of its 'poison.' The love of God, working in Jesus, has, in fact given a new meaning to man's entire existence, also transforming death. ... Those who undertake to live like Him are freed from the fear of death, which no longer laughs scornfully like an enemy but, as St. Francis writes in his Canticle of Creatures, shows the friendly face of a sister."

"Faith reminds us that there is no cause to be afraid of the death of the body, because it is a sleep from which we will one day be woken. True death, which we should fear, is the death of the soul, which the Apocalypse calls 'second death.' Indeed, those who die in mortal sin, unrepentant and closed in the proud refusal of God's love, exclude themselves from the kingdom of life."

Pope Celebrates Mass for Deceased Cardinals

Saturday morning, in a customary practice for the month of November, the Pope celebrated Mass at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica in remembrance of the cardinals, archbishops and bishops who died during the course of the last year. Members of the College of Cardinals concelebrated with the Holy Father.

At the start of his homily, Benedict XVI recalled the names of the cardinals who died during the last twelve months: "Leo Scheffczyk, Pio Taofinu'u, Raul Francisco Primatesta, Angel Suquia Goicoechea, Johannes Willebrands, Louis-Albert Vachon, Dino Monduzzi and Mario Francesco Pompedda."

He went on: "In order to purify the white robe received at Baptism from all blemishes and stains, the community of believers offers the Sacrifice of the Eucharist and other prayers for the souls of those whom death has called to pass from time to eternity." Praying for the deceased, he said, "is a noble practice, one that presupposes faith in the resurrection of the dead, as revealed to us by Sacred Scripture and, finally and completely, by the Gospel."

The Pope dwelt on the fact that each of the cardinals and bishops "was called ... to put the words of the Apostle Paul - 'for me to live is Christ' - into practice and to make them his own. This vocation, received at Baptism, was strengthened in them with the Sacrament of Confirmation and with the three grades of Holy Orders, and was constantly nourished by participation in the Eucharist.

"By this sacramental journey," he added, "their 'being in Christ' was rendered more solid and profound, to the point that death was no longer a loss - because they had already evangelically 'lost' everything for the Lord and for the Gospel - but a 'gain:' that of finally meeting Jesus, and with Him the fullness of life."

The Holy Father concluded by asking the Lord "to enable our dear deceased brother cardinals and bishops to attain the longed-for goal. We ask this trusting in the intercession of Mary Most Holy and in the prayers of the many people who knew them in life and appreciated their Christian virtues."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Vocation Crisis?

Fr. Philip Powell wrote a powerful post in which he argues that there is no vocations crisis, rather we are suffering from a courage crisis. In that, he means that God is still calling men to the priesthood, but they are failing to respond.

I couldn't agree more. Read the excellent post here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Swimming the Tiber

One of my favorite theology professors is Fr. David Stokes. He is a former Episcopalian priest who converted to Catholicism and was ordained a Catholic priest in 2001. He is married and has four children.

Here is a link to an interview between Fr. Giacomo Capoverdi, from Priests for Life, and Fr. Stokes where he talks about his conversion.

And another where he talks about the reformation.

By the way, this is my 500th post.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Miracle for John Paul II?

A young Italian man cured of lung cancer has attributed his recovery to the miraculous intervention of John Paul II in a case which could speed the late pope along the road to sainthood .

According to Neapolitan daily Il Mattino on Thursday, the man from Salerno south of Naples was taken into hospital last year where he was diagnosed with lung cancer. After his wife prayed to John Paul II, the dead pope reportedly appeared in a dream to her and reassured her that her husband would be alright .

A few days after the dream, doctors noticed a marked improvement in the man's condition. Within weeks, his cancer completely disappeared, doctors say .

Salerno Archbishop Gerardo Pierro told Il Mattino he was confident that a miracle had taken place .

"There is medical proof otherwise I wouldn't have dared bring up the case. The recovery has lasted - a year and a half later, the inexplicable remains confirmed," he said .

"This could mean that John Paul II will soon be beatified," the archbishop added .

The diocese of Salerno is now looking into the case .

Vatican officials are already working for the beatification of the Polish-born John Paul, who died in April 2005 at the age of 84 after a reign of 27 years .

Read the rest of the ANSA article here.

Relic Boycott

More reporters are getting it all wrong again. This time over relics.

WHDH in Boston ran a story about the sale of relics on eBay, but in their attempt for the dramatic, they couldn't get it right.

7 News had no problem finding these items online. Everything from bones to blood and from crosses to clothing, all said to have once belonged to a saint.

Take a look at what we bought on Ebay. At first glance it looks like a regular rosary. You look a little closer, and you'll find a relic attached to it. And it was sold to us by this church here in Cranston, Rhode Island.

The church calls itself Catholic, but it is not recognized by the Vatican.

The relic we bought for $20 claims to be a piece of clothing from a saint. And this wasn't the only relic the church had up for sale.
We wanted to ask the parish pastor why he was going against catholic laws, so we gave father Roger Durand a call.

Phil Lipof on phone:

"We talked to an expert about canon law and they said that's pretty much against canon law to sell a relic."

Father Durand argued there was nothing wrong with selling a relic.

Roger Durand and I disagree on many things. First on his operation of a schismatic church. (See Brian's post on Roger's church) When I checked his e-Bay page, I found numerous items such are holy cards, bells, even a chalice as well as relic medals, and a few empty thecas. Rosaries and medals containing third and fourth degree relics are offered for sale at nearly every Catholic goods and church supply shop in the world. These relics, which are pieces of cloth which have been touched to first, second, and even third degree relics do not have the same canonical restrictions as first and second degree relics.

If Roger Durand was representing that relic as a second degree relic (part of the clothing of a saint) then, he is guilty of misrepresenting the product.

The International Crusade for Holy Relics is encouraging a boycott of eBay in an attempt to get them to ban the sale of relics.

Below is the official press release:

After nearly a decade of battling eBay over the sale of sacred relics, the International Crusade for Holy Relics is calling for a boycott of the online auction house.

"We have exhausted dialogue and negotiations and have decided it is time to deal with eBay in the only language they understand -- money". saind Tom Seraphim, founder and president of the ICHR.

For nearly ten years, the ICHR has obbied eBay to stop the sale of relics and enforce its own rules barring the sale of body parts to no avail.

Even a cursory search of eBay will reveal dozens of relics - often purporting to be the bones of saints - for sale.

The sale of relics is an direct affront to Catholics and other Christians, for whom relics are considered sacred, priceless and spiritual heirlooms. The sale is expressly forbidden by the Canon Law of the Catholic Church. Moreover, many of the relics being sold are of dubious origin, and some have been shown to be outright frauds.

"Our saints should be enjoying their eternal reward in peace, not having thier body partssold like cheap trinkets," Serafin said. "Our heritage and our faith are not for sale. We have decided that a boycott of eBay has become the only option o prevent the repugnant practice of selling our spiritual patrimony."

The ICHR is a coalition with members worldwide that includes members of many denominations including the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican faiths. It is devoted to spotting the sale of relics online and to preserving relics and educating the public about relics and the saints.

Here is a link to the CNS article on the relic sale.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Whether You Like it or Not!

Some love it, some like it, some can't stand it. Either way the past is the future and the present is the past.

...oh, and I have no expectations for tomorrow.

Archdiocese Stands Up For Morality

The "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" have lost their lease.

From the Bay Area Reporter:

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence received a Halloween surprise when they learned they could no longer hold their Revival Bingo fundraisers at the Catholic Church in the Castro. As of press time Wednesday, November 1, the monthly bingo nights had been put on hold until 2007 at which time the group hopes to find an alternative location.

Nick Andrade, parish council president for Most Holy Redeemer, informed the Sisters at noon Tuesday that the group of drag nuns could no longer rent the church's Ellard Hall for the bingo nights.

"This was both a shock and a surprise as we have worked very closely with Most Holy Redeemer Church to provide fundraising services for both the church and other beneficiaries," wrote Sister Barbi Mitzvah in an e-mail late Tuesday night. "The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence believe that our commitment to giving is in alignment with the philosophy of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which represents a cross-section of the San Francisco population. It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that this appears not to be the case, and that our shared values cannot overcome our differences of opinion when it comes to how we serve the community."

Andrade could not be reached for comment.

In a statement sent to the Bay Area Reporter , the archdiocese said the parish or administrative staff should never have given the Sisters permission to use Ellard Hall.

"For years the group had directed contempt and ridicule at Catholic faith and practice. The particular targets of their derision are women in religious communities, for whom Catholics, as well as many non-Catholics, have a special reverence and respect," said the statement.

One person who had bought eight VIP tickets for himself and friends for the now-canceled November 2 event chastised the church for its decision.

"I am very saddened that Most Holy Redeemer has done this. This is their community and this group is supporting that community and they are denying them the ability to help others," said Dave Ault. "It is so in conflict of what their mission statement is."

Here is the official press release from the "sisters":

SAN FRANCISCO, 31 October 2006 — The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are stunned and deeply saddened by the Archdiocese of San Francisco's abrupt cancellation of their lease for Ellard Hall, the location of their charitable monthly bingo fundraising event.

The Sisters want to apologize to the organizations that depend on our support, including the AIDS Emergency Fund and the Positive Resource Center. Both of these worthy organizations were to be the recipients of this week's proceeds, however due to today's decision by the Archdiocese, we will no longer be able to hold bingo. The Sisters would also like to apologize to the SFPD Pride Foundation, UCSF AIDS Health Project, Saint James Infirmary and Tenderloin Tessies Holiday Feed, all of whom were scheduled to be beneficiaries for future bingos. And, of course, the Sisters extend our apologies and regrets to the many players who purchased tickets and were anticipating many more joyous evenings of fundraising.

The primary mission of The Sisters is involvement in and support of the local community.

This includes working with and supporting many local community organizations whose ability to serve their constituency is dependent on contributions from charitable groups like the Sisters. Without the thousands of dollars raised by the consistently sold-out monthly bingo event, their services may be cut at a time when charitable giving is more critical than ever.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence believe that our commitment to giving is in alignment with the philosophy of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, which represents a cross-section of the San Francisco population. It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that this appears not to be the case, and that our shared values cannot overcome our differences of opinion when it comes to how we serve the community.

The most stunning part of all of this is the fact that "The Sisters" seem to think that because they are doing this for charity, it is in line with the Catholic Church. All the charity in the world does not change the immoral to moral.

Reggie Foster's Back!

John Paul is reporting that Fr. Reginald Foster's Latin classes have found a new home in a cultural center on Via della Gatta, 6 which is located near Piazza Venezia.

Viva Fosteri!

The Holy Father's Visit to the Gregorian

This morning, Benedict XVI travelled to Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University. On arrival, he visited the chapel for an interval of prayer, then moved on to the university's covered courtyard where he met with professors, students and benefactors.

After greetings from the university rector, Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda S.J., the students' representative, Fr. Bryan Lobo S.J., and the secretary general, Luigi Allena, the Pope delivered his address.

In opening his remarks, the Pope recalled how in 1972 he was invited to teach a course on the Blessed Eucharist, and he reminded professors and students that "the effort of study and teaching, in order to be meaningful with regard to the Kingdom of God, must be supported by the theological virtues. The immediate objective of theological science, in its various aspects, is God Who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, God with a human face."

"Today," he continued, "we cannot fail to take account of the confrontation with secular culture, which in many parts of the world tends ... not only to deny all signs of God's presence in the life of society and of individuals, but, with various means that disorient and confuse man's correct understanding, seeks to undermine his capacity to listen to God.

"Nor can we ignore," he added, "relations with other religions." Such relations "are constructive only if they avoid all ambiguities that in any way weaken the essential contents of Christian faith in Christ, the only Savior of all mankind, and in the Church, a necessary sacrament for the salvation of all humanity."

Other human sciences such as psychology, social science and communications, "precisely because they concern human beings, cannot omit a reference to God. Indeed, man, both in his interior and exterior aspects, cannot be fully understood if he is not recognized as being open to transcendence."

He continued: "Deprived of his reference to God, man cannot respond to the fundamental questions that disturb, and always will disturb, his heart; questions that concern the aim and, hence, the meaning of existence. ... Man's destiny, without reference to God, cannot but be the desolation of anguish that leads to desperation. Only with reference to God-Love, revealed in Jesus Christ, can man discover the meaning of his life, and live in hope, even while experiencing the evils that injure his personal life and the society in which he lives. Hope ensures that man does not close himself in a stagnant and sterile nihilism, but opens himself to generous commitment in the society in which he lives in order to improve it."

Highlighting the fact that the integral formation of young people "is one of the traditional forms of the apostolate of Company of Jesus," the Holy Father recalled how the university's statutes and general regulations are currently being renewed, in order, he said, "to define the identity of the Gregorian University more clearly, facilitating the preparation of the most appropriate academic programs for carrying out its mission."

"As an ecclesial pontifical university, this academic institution is committed to 'sentire in Ecclesia et cum Ecclesia.' This is a commitment that arises from love for the Church, our Mother and Bride of Christ."

Following the ceremony and before returning to the Vatican, the Pope visited the "Matteo Ricci" congress center where he greeted the religious community of Jesuits.

The Search For Eternal Life

Before praying the Angelus today with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI made some brief remarks dedicated to the Solemnity of All Saints, which falls today, and to tomorrow's commemoration of All Souls. Two celebrations, he said, "that give us a unique opportunity to meditate upon eternal life."

The Pope went on to ask: "Does modern man still expect this eternal life, or does he feel it to be part of a mythology that has now been left behind? In our times, more than in the past, people are so absorbed by the things of the world that sometimes it is difficult to think of God as a protagonist of history and of our own lives. Yet human existence, by its very nature, tends towards something greater, something that transcends it. The human thirst for justice, for truth, and for complete happiness cannot be suppressed.

"Faced with the enigma of death," he added, "many people have the desire and hope of seeing their loved ones in the hereafter," and believe in "a final judgement that re-establishes justice, hoping for a definitive encounter in which each is given his due."

For Christians, Pope Benedict explained, "eternal life" does not just indicate a life that lasts forever, "but a new quality of existence, fully immersed in the love of God, that frees us from evil and death and places us in endless communion with all our brothers and sisters who participate in the same Love. Thus, eternity can already be present at the center of earthly and temporal life when the soul, through grace, is joined to God, its ultimate foundation."

"Let us meditate upon these truths with our souls turned towards our ultimate and definitive destination, which gives meaning to daily life," he concluded. "Let us revive the saints' joyous sensation of communion, and allow ourselves to be attracted by them towards the goal of our existence: the meeting face to face with God."

Again, Zenit has the translation of the Holy Father's address.

Sainthood is Found in the Ordinary

Tuesday, Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica.

In his homily he highlighted the fact that "saints are not an exclusive caste of the chosen few, but a countless multitude towards whom today's liturgy encourages us to direct our gaze. That multitude contains not only officially-recognized saints, but the baptized from every age and nation who have sought to enact divine will with love and faithfulness."

"Contemplating the shining example of the saints," said the Holy Father, "awakens within us the great desire to be like them: happy to live near God, in His light, in the great family of the friends of God. ... This is the vocation of us all, clearly reiterated by Vatican Council II, and today solemnly brought to our attention once again."

"In order to be saints," he continued, "it is not necessary to accomplish extraordinary actions and works, nor to possess exceptional charisms. ... What is above all necessary is to listen to Jesus and then to follow Him without losing heart in the face of difficulties."

"The experience of the Church shows that all forms of sanctity, though following different paths, always pass along the way of the cross, the way of self-renouncement. The biographies of the saints describe men and women who, compliant to the divine plan, at times faced indescribable trials and suffering, persecutions and martyrdom."

"For us, the example of the saints is an encouragement to follow the same footsteps and experience the joy of those who entrust themselves to God; because the only true cause of sadness and unhappiness for mankind is to remain distant from Him."

Sanctity, said the Holy Father, "requires a constant effort, but it is a possibility for everyone because, more than being the work of man it is, primarily, a gift of God, thrice Holy."

"In Christ," he concluded, "God gave us all of Himself, and He calls us to a personal and profound relationship with Him. Thus, the greater our intimacy with Jesus, and the more united to Him we are, the more we enter into the mystery of divine sanctity. We discover that we are loved by Him with an infinite love, and this encourages us in turn to love our brothers and sisters. Loving always involves an act of self-renouncement, the 'loss of self', and it is precisely for this reason that it makes us happy."

Zenit has translated the full text of the Holy Father's homily. I will post the official translation as soon as it is released.

More From Madison

I am sure that many of you have already heard of Bishop Morlino's pastoral letter and recording regarding marriage. He is requiring all parishes in the Diocese of Madison to play the recording of this homily at all Masses this weekend.
If not, here are links to the recording and the letter.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Bishop Morlino has a great concern for increasing the quality of liturgical music. Here is some more information I have found regarding liturgical music in Madison. Their diocesan choir has a great website which includes their repertoire. The choir has also produced a CD which they are offering for sale. Visit their website here.

The diocesan Office for Worship website has a section devoted to liturgical music. Within the music page, there are links to lists of recommended music for funerals and confirmation.

Abortion Clinic Owners Charged With Murder After Failed Abortion

HIALEA, November 2, 2006 ( – Two Co-owners of a Miami-area abortion facility called Ginecologia may be charged with second-degree murder for killing a baby girl born alive in a recovery room. Co-owners Belkis Gonzalez and Siomara Senises are being investigated after Miami-Dade County police found the badly decomposed body of a baby girl at the facility. A search warrant reported that there was “probable cause” to pursue a second degree murder investigation.

A woman identified by Operation Rescue in their October 23 report as Ms. Betty Rojas informed police that a child had been killed by “a doctor” by drowning after being born alive.

18-year old Sycloria Williams, told police that she had arrived at the facility July 20 for the second half of a late-term abortion. She says she gave birth to a living baby girl while sitting in a recliner in the facility’s recovery room. Ms. Williams told police that she had watched her daughter moving and gasping for air for approximately five minutes.

The warrant says that the staff “began screaming that the baby was alive.” Then, “Ms. Belkis Gonzalez cut the umbilical cord, threw it into a red bag with black printing. Ms. Gonzalez then swept the baby, with her hands, into the same red bag along with the gauze used during the procedure.”

Eight days later, police found the body of the child which Rojas had informed them had been treated with a caustic chemical and left in the heat of the Florida sun to accelerate decomposition in a possible attempt to dispose of the evidence.

Proceedings are awaiting the results of an autopsy that, due to the severe decomposition of the body, might still be inconclusive. Police are interested in evidence that the baby was born alive and that she was possibly over 24 weeks gestation, the legal limit for abortion in Florida.

Since the October 23 report, the Miami New Times published a story revealing the substandard conditions of the for-profit abortion facilities owned or operated by Senises and Gonzalez. Hialeah Police Deputy Chief Mark Overton told the New Times that an unnamed witness confirmed that “the baby was born alive; it was attempting to breathe.”

Overton said, “This isn't about a botched abortion; there never was an abortion, and the mother is not the victim…The victim is the baby, and whether that baby had an hour or eight hours' worth of life, she had a right to that.”

“Palmetto General Hospital is only five minutes away,” he said, indicating that the child’s life could have been saved. “It is our opinion that this is a homicide, an unlawful killing of a human being.”

Overton told the New Times that the baby’s remains had weighed between two and three pounds and measured about 12 inches long. The average gestation of a twelve-inch foetus is between 24 and 25 weeks. The average for a baby weighing two pounds is 27 weeks.
Another of facility owned or operated by Senises and Gonzalez was closed by police in 2004 after the abortion of twins was botched and it was revealed that one doctor hired to do abortions there had no medical license. A third facility is still in operation.

On October 29, Overton told WorldNetDaily that he believes charges of second-degree murder will be filed in the case.

Read Operation Rescue report