CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: WED. JAN. 26, 2011: HEADLINES-
OVERCOMING PESSIMISM ON THE PATH TO FULL CHRISTIAN UNITY
VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - Yesterday evening in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, the Pope presided at the celebration of Vespers to mark the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
In his homily the Holy Father recalled how this year "the theme suggested for our meditations came from the Christian communities of Jerusalem. ... The Christians of the Holy City invite us to renew and strengthen our commitment to rebuild full unity by meditating on the model of life followed by the first disciples of Christ gathered in Jerusalem. 'They devoted themselves', we read in the Acts of the Apostles, 'to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers'".
"The Apostles' teaching, fraternal communion, breaking bread and prayer were the tangible elements of the life of the first Christian community in Jerusalem, united by the action of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, these are the essential traits of all Christian communities in all times and places. We could, in other words, say that they represent the fundamental aspects of the unity of the visible Body of the Church".
Benedict XVI highlighted how "over the course of the last few decades, the ecumenical movement, 'fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit', has made important progress. ... Nonetheless, we are well aware that we are still far from the unity for which Christ prayed", he said. "The unity to which Christ, through His Spirit, calls the Church, cannot be realised only at the level of organisational structures but is forged at a more profound level, in 'confessing the one faith, celebrating divine worship in common, and keeping the fraternal harmony of the family of God'.
"Efforts to re-establish unity among divided Christians cannot", the Pope added, "be reduced only to recognising our reciprocal differences and to achieving peaceful coexistence. What we long for is that unity for which Christ Himself prayed, and which by its nature becomes manifest in the communion of faith, of the Sacraments and of the ministry. The journey to this unity must be perceived as a moral imperative, a response to a specific call from the Lord. For this reason it is important to overcome the temptation to despondency and pessimism, which is a lack of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit".
The Holy Father continued: "We must passionately continue the journey towards this goal, through serious and rigorous dialogue to develop our shared theological, liturgical and spiritual heritage; through reciprocal knowledge; through the ecumenical formation of new generations and, above all, through conversion of heart and prayer".
Referring then to today's Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, he recalled how "in his long missionary journeys Paul, as he roamed through various cities and regions, never forgot his bond of communion with the Church of Jerusalem. Collections to support the Christians of that community ... occupied an important place in Paul's concerns. He considered it not only as a work of charity but as a sign and guarantee of unity and communion between the Churches he founded and that original community in the Holy City, a sign of the unity of the one Church of Christ".
Finally, Benedict XVI addressed a special greeting to "our brothers and sisters from other Churches and ecclesial communities", including "members of the Joint International Commission for Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Ancient Churches of the East, who are meeting in Rome during these days. We entrust the success of your meeting to the Lord, that it may be another step forward towards our longed-for unity". He also addressed a special greeting to representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, "who have come to Rome, with the bishop of the Church of Bavaria".
IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA
VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2011 (VIS) - During this morning's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 3,000 people, Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), whom he described as "one of the 'strong women' who, at the end of the Middle Ages, fearlessly brought the splendid light of the Gospel into the complex events of history".
The life of Joan of Arc, who was born into a prosperous peasant family, took place in the context of the conflict between France and England known as the Hundred Years War. At the age of thirteen, "through the 'voice' of St. Michael the Archangel, Joan felt herself called by the Lord to intensify her Christian life and to act personally to free her people".
She made a vow of virginity and redoubled her prayers, participating in sacramental life with renewed energy. "This young French peasant girl's compassion and commitment in the face of her people's suffering were made even more intense through her mystical relationship with God. One of the most original aspects of her sanctity was this bond between mystical experience and political mission". said Benedict XVI.
Joan's activities began in early 1429 when, overcoming all obstacles, she managed to meet with the French Dauphin, the future King Charles VII. He had her examined by theologians of the University of Poitiers who "delivered a positive judgment, they discovered nothing bad in her, and found her to be a good Christian".
On 22 March of that year Joan dictated a letter to the King of England and his men, who were laying siege to the city of Orleans. "Hers was a proposal of authentic and just peace between two Christian peoples, in the light of the names of Jesus and Mary", said the Holy Father. But the offer was rejected and Joan had to fight for the liberation of the city. Another culminating moment of her endeavours came on 17 July 1429 when King Charles was crowned in Reims.
Joan's passion began on 23 May 1430 when she fell into the hands of her enemies at Compiegne and was taken to the city of Rouen. There a long and dramatic trial was held which concluded with her being condemned to death on 30 May 1431.
The trial was presided by two ecclesiastical judges, Bishop Pierre Cauchon and the inquisitor Jean le Maistre, but in fact it was conducted by a group of theologians from the University of Paris. These "French ecclesiastics, having made political choices opposed to those of Joan, were predisposed to hold negative views of her person and mission. The trial was a dark page in the history of sanctity, but also a shining page in the mystery of the Church which is, ... 'at the same time holy and always in need of being purified'".
"Unlike the saintly theologians who illuminated the University of Paris, such as St. Bonaventure, St. Thomas Aquinas and Blessed Duns Scotus, ... the judges were theologians who lacked the charity and humility to see the work of God in this young girl. Jesus' words come to mind, according to which the mysteries of God are revealed to those who have the hearts of children, but hidden from the wise and intelligent. Thus Joan's judges were radically incapable of understanding her, of seeing the beauty of her soul", the Pope said.
Joan died at the stake on 30 May 1431, holding a crucifix in her hands and invoking the name of Jesus. Twenty-five years later a trial of nullification, instituted by Pope Callixtus III, "concluded with a solemn sentence nullifying the condemnation and ... highlighting Joan of Arc's innocence and perfect faithfulness to the Church. Much later, in 1920, she was canonised by Pope Benedict XV".
"The Name of Jesus invoked by this saint in the last instants of her earthly life was as the continual breath of her soul, ... the centre of her entire life", the Holy Father explained. "This saint understood that Love embraces all things of God and man, of heaven and earth, of the Church and the world. ... Liberating her people was an act of human justice, which Joan performed in charity, for love of Jesus, hers is a beautiful example of sanctity for lay people involved in political life, especially in the most difficult situations".
"Joan saw in Jesus all the reality of the Church, the 'Church triumphant' in heaven and the 'Church militant' on earth. In her own words, 'Our Lord and the Church are one'. This affirmation ... takes on a truly heroic aspect in the context of the trial, in the face of her judges, men of the Church who persecuted and condemned her".
"With her shining witness St. Joan of Arc invites us to the highest degree of Christian life, making prayer the motif of our days, having complete trust in achieving the will of God whatever it may be, living in charity without favouritisms or limitations, and finding in the Love of Jesus, as she did, a profound love for His Church".
VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, presented by Bishop Assis Lopes, upon having reached the age limit.
WASHINGTON, DC, January 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Following the rally at the National Mall Monday, the 38th annual March for Life commenced, with an estimated 400,000 marchers making their way to the Supreme Court. The massive crowd, noticeably larger than last year’s record crowd and composed of a majority of youth under age 25, seemed more jubilant than ever in their celebration of life.
Competing chants from one group to another could be heard throughout. “We love babies yes we do, we love babies how about you,” was echoed from side to side along the route. There was one group in particular, however, who most would concede were the chant champions. With yellow hats, yellow sweat shirts and yellow balloons reading “LIFE,” 162 youth from St. John Cantius parish in Chicago, Illinois, filled one of the steps of the Senate office building at the top of the hill leading toward the Supreme Court.
Fr. Jim Isaacson, a priest from the parish, told LifeSiteNews the secret of the group’s success as chant champions ... practice. Prior even to the 14-hour bus ride to Washington, the group practiced and even composed their own chants. Adding to their power was that a full third of the group is involved in choirs. Jumping, chanting, singing, and dancing, this troupe enlivened the hundreds of thousands of passers-by with voices, which Fr. Isaacson admitted may find themselves somewhat strained at next Sunday’s Mass.
Another group of 21 youth traveled from Springfield, Illinois on a 19-hour bus ride, which Stephanie Kayton told LSN was “absolutely worth it.”
The Archdiocese of Omaha was represented by some 350 youth, 325 of whom traveled by bus for 24 hours straight. Ann-Marie Bowen of Nebraskans United for Life flew down with another 25. Fr. Cook, the pro-life director for the Archdiocese told LSN that after the march the youth were headed for meetings with their local Congressmen.
Ohio Right to Life boasted of “tens of thousands” of Ohioans at the DC March for Life. Nearly one tenth of the Ohio delegation consists of students and friends at Franciscan University of Steubenville. The state pro-life group also noted that “Ohio’s own, John Boehner, United States Speaker of the House, recently stated he would prioritize legislation that would permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion across federal programs.”
Front Royal, Virginia’s Christendom College was out again in full force at the march. Junior Christine Nussio was impressed by the number of pro-lifers who attended.
“I am blown away by the numbers-and some of them come from very far away to spend one day showing the nation where they stand on issues of life,” she said.
The numbers also amazed Sophomore Jacinta Ferri. “It seemed like a larger crowd than last year-it was really exciting,” she said.
A native of Canada, Ferri said that before coming to Christendom, she attended the March for Life in Ottawa where the crowd is not as large. “Being in the larger crowd gets you more pumped-up for the cause,” she said. “It’s really reassuring to see so many people.”
Long after most marchers had dispersed, a group of young people remained across the street from the Supreme Court, heads bowed in solemn prayer. Their sign “ByznTeens for Life” signified that they were Byzantine Catholics known for their intense and lengthy prayers. Rachel Pawluszka, 16, one of the ByzanTeens, told LifeSiteNews that the best thing about the March for her was meeting so many others, even those of different religious backgrounds, who all share the love and reverence for life.
Nellie Gray, the leader of the March for Life noted from the stage before the departure of the March that she could not even see the end of the marchers stretched out before her. At the Rose Dinner after the march Gray noted that it was the largest march in her memory.
The Superior General recalls in the letter that “the Church has received by Jesus the mandate to continue his mission throughout the centuries (Mt 28:19).” and the Holy Spirit raised up men and women who took the commitment to heart to bring the message of God’s love to specific groups of poor and marginalized.
“They too gathered around themselves other people who made their own their zeal and committed themselves to evangelizing, not as individual, but as structured communities, giving thus origin to various Religious Congregations.” Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini “identified a category of poor people that had not received as yet proper attention by the Church — the migrants. The thought that they might 'lose, for a totally material life, the faith of their fathers' urged him, as a Bishop full of zeal, to act. The Congregation he founded committed itself from its initiation to that which Blessed Pope John Paul II defined as the “new evangelisation... addressed primarily to those who already have the gift of faith. The latter, being transplanted in a non-familiar cultural environment, are in danger either of disregarding their faith, because they do not find the proper soil to grow in it, or of losing it altogether, because they immerse themselves into advancing as fast as they can their economic situation.”
After stating that “in our Congregation, wherever we are, whatever role we are entrusted with, and whatever activity we are carrying out, we are all called to evangelize,” Fr Sérgio Geremia dwelled on “some aspects of evangelization, specifically Scalabrinian”: First and foremost, “No Christian ever evangelizes as an individual on his own, but always as a member of a community.” Secondly, “we cannot be Scalabrinians who evangelize migrants unless we know the world of migrants—their culture, their needs, their concerns and their aspirations.” Migrants cannot be considered simply as receivers of evangelisation “but as agents of it as well.” The collaboration of the laity, volunteers and professionals who work inside and outside the migrant community is vital. Finally, since the phenomenon of migration is continually changing, the Superior General emphasised: “our Congregation is, consequently, called to continually revise its structures, positions and pastoral methods.... We must be open to the signs of the time and be always creative in renewing and even abandoning our positions and pastoral forms, although acquired at times with unbounded sacrifices, and in resorting to new ones.”
ALL AFRICA REPORT- Formal approval is being awaited from the Ministry of Education for the reintroduction of Bible study in public schools as part of the existing Religious and Moral Education (RME) subject.
The new Biblical Studies and Moral Education (BSME) curriculum was compiled by a steering committee of the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) over the last two and a half years and is now ready to be introduced in primary and secondary schools, according to CCN general secretary Maria Kapere.
She told The Namibian that Bible study at schools was done away with in Namibia after Independence, and the main reason for this is because the Constitution classifies Namibia as a 'secular state'.
"To focus on one specific religion would have been objectionable by the other religions," she said. "Christianity is taught now, but it's more historical than theological. With the new programme, children will go deeper into what the Bible says."
She said that ever since the Bible has been left out of schools, and even though Government introduced the Religious and Moral Education subject, social decay has increased.
"Children are obliged to go to school, but are not obliged to go to church. Without them knowing it, they are being withheld from the truth written in the Bible," she said.
According to her, BSME is based on "the right of freedom of religion for Christian communities".
The Namibian Constitution guarantees "freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice", and "a learner at a State school or hostel has the right to practice any religion which is not against public policy."
The Namibian Institute for Educational Development (NIED), according to Kapere, accepted the "significance of the Biblical content and values infused in the BSME programme".The CCN submitted the two BSME syllabi to the government: one for primary schools and another for secondary schools.
"It was accepted in principle and referred to the Ministry of Education for formal acceptance. While private and church schools are welcome to make use of the BSME curriculum, government schools will have to wait until formal approval had been granted by the Ministry of Educatio, for BSME to be used as a programme with RME," she stated.
According to her, this might not happen this year, but maybe next year.
FIRST BISHOP OF CRETE, COMPANION OF ST. PAUL, MISSIONARY
Feast: January 26
FIRST BISHOP OF EPHESUS, MISSIONARY, COMPANION OF ST. PAUL, MARTYR
Feast: January 26