VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2011 (VIS) - After having visited the theme of prayer as a universal phenomenon in the past two Wednesday catecheses, today the Pope began a new Biblical reflection on a theme "that will guide us to deepen the dialogue of covenant between God and humanity that animates the history of salvation until its fullness ... in Christ". (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
Addressing the pilgrims present in this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI explained that "Abraham, the great patriarch, father of all believers", offers us the first example of a prayer of intercession when God told him of His plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, "because of the wickedness of its inhabitants".
The Patriarch, the Pope said, "did not limit himself to asking for the salvation of the innocent but also implored forgiveness for the entire city, appealing to God's justice", a divine justice that "seeks the good and creates it by means of a forgiveness that transforms the sinners, converting and saving them".
"Abraham's thought, that seems almost paradoxical, can be summarized thus: of course the innocent cannot be treated like the guilty, that would be unjust; instead the guilty need to be treated as the innocent, applying a 'higher' justice, offering them the possibility of salvation because, if the evildoers accept God's forgiveness and confess their blame, letting themselves be saved, they will not continue doing evil but will also become just, no longer needing to be punished".
Emphasizing that "forgiveness breaks the spiral of sin", the Pope noted that "Abraham, in his dialogue with God, asks exactly for that ... through his intercession, his prayer to God for the salvation of the others, he demonstrates and expresses the desire for salvation that God always nurtures for the sinner. Evil cannot be accepted. It must be pointed out and destroyed through punishment. the destruction of Sodom had precisely this function. The Lord, however, did not wish the death of the wicked but that they convert and live: His desire is always to forgive, to save, to give life, and to transform evil into good".
The Pope stressed that "a transformation from within is necessary, a pretext for good, a beginning of what sets in motion the transformation from evil into good, hatred into love, and vengeance into forgiveness".
"However, God's mercy in the history of His people extends even further. ... The infinite and surprising love of God will be made fully manifest when the Son of God becomes man, the definitive Just One, the perfect Innocent who will bring salvation to the entire world with His death on the cross, forgiving and interceding for those who 'know not what they do'. Then, each person's daily prayer will find its answer, then all our intercessions will be fully granted".
Benedict XVI ended by asking that "the prayer of Abraham, our father in the faith, teach us to open our hearts more and more to God's overabundant mercy, so that in our daily prayer we might know how to desire the salvation of humanity and to ask for it with perseverance and with confidence in the Lord who is great in love".
COMMITMENT TO PRAY FOR CHURCH IN CHINA
VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2011 (VIS) - At the end of this morning's general audience in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI spoke briefly about the Church in China. Next Tuesday, 24 May, is the day dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. The Pope took this opportunity to invite the faithful everywhere to join in prayer with and for the Church in China.
While the Church in China is growing, Christ there, as in other places around the world is still rejected, ignored, or persecuted. The Holy Father asked "all Chinese Catholics to continue and to deepen their own prayers, especially to Mary, the powerful Virgin. At the same time all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China: those members of the faithful have a right to our prayers, they need our prayers".
"Chinese Catholics, as they have said many times, want unity with the universal Church, with the Supreme Pastor, with the Successor of Peter. By our prayers we can obtain for the Church in China that it remain one, holy and Catholic, faithful and steadfast in doctrine and in ecclesial discipline".
Although many Chinese bishops, priests, and faithful encounter difficulties in freely professing their faith, with our prayers, the Pope emphasized that "we can help them to find the path to keep their faith alive, to keep their hope strong, to keep their love for all people ardent, and to maintain in its integrity the ecclesiology that we have received from the Lord and the Apostles ".
In conclusion, the Holy Father asked Mary "to enlighten those who are in doubt, to call back the straying, to console the afflicted, and to strengthen those who are ensnared by the allure of opportunism".
VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Cali, Colombia presented by Archbishop Juan Francisco Sarasti Jaramillo, C.I.M., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve Mejia.
Rome (AsiaNews) - Public security officers have banned the underground Catholic community in Shanghai from visiting the shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan, on the occasion of World Day of Prayer for the Church in China, on 24 May. Some communities, however, have decided to challenge the police order and will go on pilgrimage to Sheshan the previous weekend, May 21.
"The atmosphere is very tense - a priest told AsiaNews - and we should remain calm. At the same time we want to obey the instructions of the pope. "
In fact Benedict XVI himself established May 24, the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, as the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. In his Letter to Chinese Catholics in 2007, he expressed the intention that through prayer we may strengthen the unity between underground and official Christians and their communion with the Successor of Peter, also asking the Lord for the strength to persevere Christian witness, even in the midst of suffering of persecution.
Catholics in China are still suffering from shock after the regimes’ ordination of bishops without papal permission and its violence in deporting bishops and priests to force them to participate in an Assembly in Beijing against the wishes of the pope, to elect the leaders of the Bishops Council and Patriotic Association. These gestures are trying to divide even more the already beleaguered community of official and underground Catholics. Perhaps to stop this unity in prayer, since 2008, the first year of the day, authorities have consistently tried to prevent pilgrims from the diocese and further afield from going on pilgrimage to Sheshan, inviting priests from various dioceses to go on "government paid holidays”, and allowing only a few thousand faithful from Shanghai to advance up the slopes of the sanctuary.
From the end of the 800, the shrine of Sheshan, about 40 km southwest of Shanghai, is a place of pilgrimage from all over the country. In May, admittance reaches 20 thousand people.In Italy, for the occasion of World Day of Prayer, the Chinese Catholic communities are organizing a rally of two days on 21 and 22 May in Rimini. The meetings, which are open not only to the faithful from China, include the presence of Mgr. Savio Hon Taifai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Mgr. Francesco Lambiasi, Bishop of Rimini, Mgr. Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. and hundreds of priests. For information and registration, seewww.centroitaliacina.it ).
CATH NEWS REPORT: Asylum seekers deserve dignity, seeking a safe and sustainable life, said the Bishop of Wagga Wagga, Gerard Hanna, reports the Catholic Weekly.
Bishop Hanna is the newly elected delegate for Migrants and Refugees for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference."The competing points of view that currently comprise the debate in Australia regarding the treatment of migrants and refugees reflect the emphasis by Government on the issues of border security and responsible control of incoming itinerant people to this country," Bishop Hanna said in his homily at a Multicultural Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney on May 10.
"While acknowledging the difficulties faced by the minister and the department in serving the nation responsibly on this issue, it is becoming clear that there are other options – apart from mandatory detention of asylum seekers – that will support the necessity of government policies geared to the protection of all Australians.
"The position of the Catholic Church is clear on this matter – the challenge is to combine the welcome due to every human being, especially those in need, with a reckoning of what is necessary for both the local inhabitants and new arrivals to live a dignified and promising life, in peace."
Bishop Hanna said the advocacy role of the Church and other agencies is "bearing fruit", adding that the Church supports the Federal Government in "every move that promotes a more humane alternative" to detention centres.
"It is to be hoped that more appropriate ways of dealing with refugees will open the way to a more positive appreciation of what our migrants have to offer," he said.
ALL AFRICA REPORT: Calabar — The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XV1 has presented a Papal award to the Cross River State governor, Senator Liyel Imoke in appreciation of his assistance and sponsorship of Catholics to the beatification of the Late Pope John Paul-11 in Rome.
Ukpo who was represented by the Very Rev. Fr. Malachi Ephraim, the Chancellor of the Arch-Diocese, noted that Cross River was the only State in Nigeria recognized among the thousands of people who had an audience with the Pope in Rome, after the beatification ceremony in Rome saying that for this, he came back with a Papal message, special cake and an apostolic blessing from the pope.
While commending Imoke for sponsoring them to attend the trip, Arch-Bishop Ukpo called for the state's participating in his retirement programme next year when he would have attained retiring age of 75 years.
He commended the Pope in particular on the award which he said was a recognition of hardwork and service to the people and prayed that God should continue to guide the state.Responding, while receiving the Papal award, Governor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State restated his government's commitment to partnering with the church for the development of the state and the citizenry, stressing that the message which was an appreciation of government's dedication to service would not only strengthen government and propel it to render more service but would also foster the bond of relationship between them.
On the retirement of Arch-Bishop Ukpo next year, when he attends 75 years, he promised that the state would play a prominent role as well as support the retirement programme of one of the state's illustrious sons.
The Message, which is titled "A new evangelization for a new Paraguay". was read by Archbishop Claudio Gimenez Medina, Bishop of Caacupé in the Cathedral of Asuncion on May 14. Besides the desire of getting rid of the scourge of corruption forever, the document also calls for giving priority to the most disadvantaged social groups through "a social policy that goes beyond charity and promotes fair economy."
The celebration of the bicentennial of independence must serve "to show more love to the country, with specific and concrete actions" is written in the message. Since it is everyone`s responsibility, as pointed out by the Bishop of Caacupé, the Paraguayans have to exercise their rights as citizens, and primarily the right to vote, with greater awareness and sense of responsibility, to change the present deplorable state of things.
The message ends with these words: "We Bishops of Paraguay believe that evangelization should form a new Paraguayan man, who passionately loves God, its country, the Church and brothers and sisters who are most in need of God's love . As a nation united in justice, equality and peace, we look at a vision of hope for our country so our country will turn into being holy and consecrated to God. I want to give the descendants new people, a new society , that in the Bicentenary celebration of national independence looks within himself to rediscover its Christian roots. "
St. John I
Feast: May 18
Died at Ravenna on 18 or 19 May (according to the most popular calculation), 526. A Tuscan by birth and the son of Constantius, he was, after an interregnum of seven days, elected on 13 August, 523, and occupied the Apostolic see for two years, nine months, and seven days.
We know nothing of the matter of his administration, for his Bullarium contains only the two letters addressed to an Archbishop Zacharias and to the bishops of Italy respectively, and it is very certain that both are apocryphal.
We possess information -- though unfortunately very vague -- only about his journey to Constantinople, a journey which appears to have had results of great importance, and which was the cause of his death. The Emperor Justin, in his zeal for orthodoxy, had issued in 523 a severe decree against the Arians, compelling them, among other things, to surrender to the Catholics the churches which they occupied. Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths and of Italy, the ardent defender of Arianism, keenly resented these measures directed against his coreligionists in the Orient, and was moreover highly displeased at seeing the progress of a mutual understanding between the Latin and Greek Churches, such as might favour certain secret dealings between the Roman senators and the Byzantine Court, aiming at the re-establishment of the imperial authority in Italy. To bring pressure to bear upon the emperor, and force him to moderate his policy of repression in regard to the heretics, Theodoric sent to him early in 525 an embassy composed of Roman senators, of which he obliged the pope to assume the direction, and imposed on the latter the task of securing a withdrawal of the Edict of 523 and -- if we are to believe "Anonymous Valesianus" -- of even urging the emperor to facilitate the return to Arianism of the Arians who had been converted.
There has been much discussion as to the part played by John I in this affair. The sources which enable us to study the subject are far from explicit and may be reduced to four in number: "AnonymousValesianus", already cited; the "Liber Pontificalis"; Gregory of Tours's "Liber in gloria martyrum"; and the "Liber Pontificalis Ecclesiæ Ravennatis". But it is beyond question that the pope could only counsel Justin to use gentleness and discretion towards the Arians; his position as head of the Church prevented his inviting the emperor to favour heresy. That this analysis of the situation is correct is evident from the reception which the pope was accorded in the East -- a reception which certainly would not have been kindly, had the Roman ambassadors opposed the emperor and this Catholic subjects in their struggle waged against the Arian sect. The inhabitants of Constantinople went out in throngs to meet John. The Emperor Justin on meeting him prostrated himself, and, some time afterwards, he had himself crowned by the pope. All the patriarchs of the East made haste to manifest their communion in the Faith with the supreme pontiff; only Timothy of Alexandria, who had shown himself hostile to the Council of Chalcedon, held aloof. Finally, the pope, exercising his right of precedence over Epiphanius, Patriarch of Constantinople, solemnly officiated at St. Sophia in the Latin Rite on Easter Day, 19 April, 526. Immediately afterwards he made his way back to the West.
If this brilliant reception of John I by the emperor, the clergy, and the faithful of the Orient proves that he had not been wanting in his task as supreme pastor of the Church, the strongly contrasting behaviour of Theodoric towards him on his return is no less evident proof. This monarch, enraged at seeing the national party reviving in Italy, had just stained his hands with the murder of Boethius, the great philosopher, and of Symmachus his father-in-law. He was exasperated against the pope, whose embassy had obtained a success very different from that which he, Theodoric, desired and whom, moreover, he suspected of favouring the defenders of the ancient liberty of Rome. As soon as John, returning from the East, had landed in Italy, Theodoric caused him to be arrested and incarcerated at Ravenna. Worn out by the fatigues of the journey, and subjected to severe privations, John soon died in prison.
His body was transported to Rome and buried in the Basilica of St. Peter. In his epitaph there is no allusion to his historical role. The Latin Church has placed him among its martyrs, and commemorates him on 27 May, the ninth lesson in the Roman Breviary for that date being consecrated to him.