STATISTICS ON CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CROATIA
VATICAN CITY, 17 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Pope Benedict XVI will make an apostolic visit to Croatia from 4 to 5 June for the celebrations of the National Croatian Catholic Families Day. For this occasion, statistics have been compiled concerning the Catholic Church in that country. The information, updated to 31 December 2009, comes from the Central Statistical Office of the Church. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
Croatia, whose capital is Zagreb, has a population of 4,429,000, of whom 3,981,000 (89.88%) are Catholic. There are 17 ecclesiastical circumscriptions and 1,598 parishes. There are currently 25 bishops, 2,343 priests, 3,711 religious, 44 lay members of secular institutes, and 1,912 catechists. Minor seminarians number 149 and major seminarians 438.
A total of 13,362 students attend the 41 centers of Catholic education, from kindergartens to university. Other charitable and social organizations belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Croatia include: 1 hospital, 30 homes for the elderly or disabled, 53 orphanages and nurseries, 14 family counseling and other pro-life centers, 16 centers for social education or rehabilitation, and 6 institutions of other kinds.
VATICAN CITY, 17 MAY 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father is scheduled to meet with Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, in an audience this afternoon.
VATICAN CITY, 17 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father:
- accepted the resignation of Bishop Joaquim Goncalves from the pastoral care of the Diocese of Vila Real, upon having reached the age limit. Bishop Amandio Jose Tomas, previously coadjutor of the same diocese, succeeds him.
- appointed Bishop Robert Daniel Conlon, of Steubenville, as bishop of Joliet in Illinois (area 10,920, population 1,904,000, Catholics 655,415, priests 283, permanent deacons 209, religious 669), USA.
VATICAN CITY, 17 MAY 2011 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:
- Cardinal Vicente Garcia-Gasco, archbishop emeritus of Valencia, Spain, on 1 May at the age of 80.
- Bishop Luigi Del Gallo Roccagiovine, on 12 May at the age of 88.
- Archbishop Gheorghe Gutiu, bishop emeritus of Cluj-Gherla of the Romanians, Romania on 8 May at the age of 87.
- Archbishop Jacques Georges Habib Hafouri, emeritus of Hassake-Nisibi of the Syrians, Syria, on 4 May at the age of 94.
- Archbishop Albert Kanene Obiefuna, emeritus of Onitsha, Nigeria, on 11 May at the age of 81.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – A.J. Philip, a well-known Christian journalist and editorial writer, was appointed to the Assessment and Monitoring Authority (AAM) of the Government of India’s Planning Commission. Indian Christians have received the decision with satisfaction and hope.
AAM members are appointed to a two-year term. They monitor and review all government welfare programmes and schemes for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes and minorities, including Christians.
Dr Syeda Hameed, a member of the government’s Planning Commission, chairs the 29-member body. Most members are secretaries in various ministries.
Other members include Mr Soli Sorabjee, Dr Yogendra Yadav, Mr Partha Chatterjee, Prof Virginius Xaxa, Prof Mrinal Miri, Ms Shabnam Hasmi and Prof Akhtar-ul-Wasey.
Mr Philip has worked at senior levels for a number of publications, including theHindustan Times, theIndian Express and the Tribune. He writes regularly for Indian Currents and the Union of Catholic Asian News agency (UCA News).
He is the recipient of the Indian Catholic Press Association Award for 2003. He also won the Mar Chrysostom Navathy Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2009.
His appointment has been greeted with satisfaction by Indian Catholics.
“The appointment of Mr Philip to the federal post is a matter of pride for the Christian community. We are hopeful that the cry of the poor Indian would be reflected through the participation of Mr Philip in the federal government's planning commission,” Fr Mrutunjaya Digal of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar toldAsiaNews.
- Addressing new graduates of Thomas Aquinas College on May 14, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez urged them to bear witness to the Catholic Church's harmony of faith and reason, in a culture that has lost its intellectual and religious bearings.
“The problem today is that our intellectuals and our cultural leaders no longer have confidence. They are skeptical that we can know our creator from what he has created,” Archbishop Gomez told the 82 graduating seniors and their families. “So we bracket off the question of God as something we cannot know.”
The archbishop contrasted this skeptical conclusion with the words of Blessed John Paul II, who described faith and reason as the “two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of the truth.” He pointed out that God “made us with minds that can reason and hearts that can believe,” with both abilities needed to know the truth about God and the world.
“When God is unknown, we are unknowable to ourselves,” Archbishop Gomez observed, citing the Second Vatican Council's warning that “without a creator, the creature vanishes.” He also noted that modern science, for all its important advances, had become the foundation for a world in which the question of God was no longer relevant.
“We have eliminated God from all the processes by which we seek knowledge about ourselves and about our world,” he explained. “God is no longer a factor in our methods. Hence, God is nowhere to be found among our conclusions.”
“We have allowed Almighty God to become eclipsed in our scientific and intellectual life — in higher education, and in our culture in general.”
In such a world, he said, even believers were expected to live as if God did not exist.
“You will realize very quickly,” he told the new graduates, “that in order to participate in the economic, political, and cultural life of our society, you will be asked to essentially conduct yourself as if you don't believe in God.”
“You need to resist that temptation in your own lives,” said the archbishop. “But you also have an important duty to confront this culture with the power and the promise of the Gospel.”
“Our world needs to be brought to a new remembrance of the God who created us and redeemed us,” Archbishop Gomez stated. “You must promote a new dialogue of reconciliation between faith and reason.”
This reconciliation, he explained, is an urgent task in a world that is quickly acquiring new technological abilities, while losing touch with its moral sense.
“We are building a world where faith and life are completely separated,” he warned. “Where knowledge and technical ability are separated from ethics and morality. Where power is divorced from responsibility.”
He noted that the modern scientific concept of reason “can find no reason to defend the weak, the unborn, or the human embryo.” This “self-limited” and exclusively practical form of reason “can find no reason, no value, in a person born with disabilities.”
Ultimately, he noted, a materialistic concept of reason can find no purpose or meaning in anything.
“Since we cannot see God with a telescope, or detect the human soul with an MRI machine, we conclude that trying to talk about these realities is a waste of time,” the archbishop said. “Do we really want to accept that reality is only what we can see, or touch, or prove with experiments?”
The void left by this skepticism, Archbishop Gomez observed, had not remained empty. Instead, because of man's essentially spiritual nature, it had become filled with various substitute-religions.
“You are entering a world that is a kind of ‘spiritual bazaar’ — filled with ancient religions, new spiritualities, new paganisms, and all sorts of obsessions and substitutes for religious faith.”
But most of these alternatives to Christianity appeal only to the factors – subjective experience, intuition, and emotion – that are written off by modern science.
The answer, Archbishop Gomez said, lies in the Catholic Church's integration of reason and faith.
“As St. Paul said, we can know the invisible nature and eternal power of our Creator, from the visible and temporal things of creation.”
But Archbishop Gomez told the graduates, who completed a rigorous program based on the “great books” of Western civilization, “we can never be content with only proving God’s existence.”
“We need to proclaim God’s love. We need to proclaim him as Lord of creation, master of history, and king of every human heart.”
" Bear in mind, however, that one moves on a political level, so if you want to get the votes of electors outside your area of ideological reference, one should present himself as a moderate force. Therefore we must see if we are dealing with a strategy to come to power and then impose an Islamist vision of society, " warns the missionary. "But I hope that even in Islam a debate opens which leads to revise some positions especially with regard to fundamental human rights, starting with the freedom of conscience," concludes Father Verdoscia.
CATH NEWS REPORT: Sydney's Cardinal George Pell said the causes of climate change remain "unclear", even as a Vatican-appointed panel of scientists warned about the need to mitigate man-made global warning, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
The panel of scientists commissioned by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences called on "all people and nations to recognise the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming" caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions."Climate change is real," he told the newspaper. "The causes are unclear, and our ability to influence climate change [is] even less certain," he said.
"By acting now, in the spirit of common but differentiated responsibility, we accept our duty to one another and to the stewardship of a planet blessed with the gift of life,'' its report said.
Cardinal Pell said he would study the document carefully but questioned the effectiveness of any action.
"My attitude to any group of scientists depends on the quality of their arguments," he told the Heraldwhen asked about the academy's report.
The document released earlier this month, Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene, was compiled by a working group that included glaciologists, climate scientists, meteorologists, hydrologists, physicists, mountaineers and lawyers. It argued that carbon dioxide was ''the largest single contributor to greenhouse warming", theHerald report adds. http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=26387
St. Paschal Baylon
FRANCISCAN LAY BROTHER AND MYSTIC
Feast: May 17
The state of poverty was honored by the choice of our blessed Redeemer, and hath been favored with his special blessing. It removes men from many dangers and temptations, and furnishes them with perpetual occasions for the exercise of self-denial, patience, penance, resignation to the divine will, and every other heroic Christian virtue: yet these great means of salvation are by many, through ignorance, impatience, and inordinate desires, often perverted into occasions of their temporal and eternal misery. Happy are they who, by making a right use of the spiritual advantages which this state, so dear to our divine Redeemer, offers them, procure to themselves present peace, joy, and every solid good; and make every circumstance of that condition in which providence hath placed them a step to perfect virtue and to everlasting happiness. This in an eminent degree was the privilege of St. Paschal Baylon. He was born in 1540, at Torre-Hermosa, a small country town in the kingdom of Aragon. His parents were day-laborers, and very virtuous; and to their example our saint was greatly indebted for the spirit of piety and devotion, which he seemed to have sucked in from his mother's milk. Their circumstances were too narrow to afford his being sent to school; but the pious child, out of an earnest desire of attaining to so great a means of instruction, carried a book with him into the fields where he watched the sheep, and desired those that he met to teach him the letters; and thus, in a short time, being yet very young, he learned to read. This advantage he made use of only to improve his soul in devotion and piety: books of amusement he never would look into; but the lives of the saints, and, above all, meditations on the life of Christ were his chiefest delight. He loved nothing but what was serious and of solid advantage, at a time of life in which many seem scarce susceptible of such impressions. When he was of a proper age, he engaged with a master to keep his flocks as under-shepherd: he was delighted with the innocent and quiet life his state permitted him to lead. That solitary life had charms for him. Whatever he saw was to him an object of faith and devotion. He read continually in the great book of nature; and from every object raised his soul to God, whom he contemplated and praised in all his works. Besides external objects, he had almost continually a spiritual book in his hands, which served to instruct and to inflame his veal in the love and practice of virtue. His master, who was a person of singular piety, was charmed with his edifying conduct, and made him an offer to adopt him for his son, and to make him his heir. But Paschal, who desired only the goods of another life, was afraid that those of this world would prove to him an incumbrance; he therefore modestly declined the favor, desiring always to remain his humble state, as being more conformable to that which Christ chose for himself on earth, who came not into the world to be served, but to serve. He was often discovered praying on his knees under some tree, while his flocks were browsing on the hills. It was by this secret entertainment of his soul with God, in the most profound humility, and perfect purity of his affections, that he acquired a most sublime science and experience in spiritual things, at which those who were the most advanced were struck with admiration. He could truly say with David:
How great soever his love was for his profession, he found however several difficulties in it which made him think of leaving it. He was not able, notwithstanding all the care he could take, to hinder a flock of goats he had in charge from sometimes trespassing on another's ground. This occasioned his giving over the inspection of that flock. But he found other troubles in taking care of other cattle. Some of his companions, not baying the same piety with himself, were but too much addicted to cursing, quarrelling, and fighting; nor were they to be reclaimed by his gentle rebukes on these accounts. He was therefore determined to leave them, not to participate in their crimes. And to learn the will of God in this important choice of a state of life in which he might most faithfully serve him, he redoubled lids prayers, fasts, and other austerities. After some time spent in this manner, ho determined to become a religious man. Those to whom he first disclosed his inclination to a religious state, pointed out to him several convents richly endowed. But that circumstance alone was enough to disgust him; and his answer was: "I was born poor, and I am resolved to live and die in poverty arid penance." Being at that time twenty years of age he left his master, his friends, and his country, and went into the kingdom of Valentia, where was an austere convent of barefoot reformed Franciscans, called Soccolans, which stood in a desert solitude, but at no great distance from the town of Montfort. He addressed himself to the fathers of this house for spiritual advice; and, in the mean time, he entered into the service of certain farmers in the neighborhood to keep their sheep. He continued here his penitential and retired life in assiduous prayer, and was known in the whole country by the name of the Holy Shepherd. To sequester himself from the world, he made the more haste to petition for the habit of a lay-brother in the house above-mentioned: and was admitted in 1564. The fathers desired to persuade him to enter himself among the clerks, or those who aspired to holy orders, and sing the divine office in the choir; but they were obliged to yield to his humility, and admit him among the lay-brothers of the community. He was not only a fervent novice, which we often see, but also a most fervent religious man, always advancing, and never losing ground. Though his rule was most austere, he added continually to its severity, but always with simplicity of heart, without the least attachment to his own will; and whenever he was admonished of any excess in his practices of mortification, he most readily confined himself to the letter of his rule. The meanest employments always gave him the highest satisfaction. Whenever he changed convents, according to the custom of his order, the better to prevent any secret attachments of the heart, he never complained of any thing, nor so much as said that he found any thing in one house more agreeable than in another; because, being entirely dead to himself; he everywhere sought only God. He never allowed himself a moment of repose between the Church and cloister duties, and his work; nor did his labor interrupt his prayer. He had never more than one habit, and that always threadbare. He walked without sandals in the snows, and in the roughest roads. He accommodated himself to all places and seasons, and was always content, cheerful, mild, affable, and full of respect for all. He thought himself honored if employed in any painful and low office to serve any one.
The general of the order happening to be at Paris, Paschal was sent thither to him about some necessary business of his province. Many of the cities through which he was to pass in France, were in the hands of the Huguenots, who were then in arms. Yet he offered himself to a martyrdom of obedience, travelled in his habit, and without so much as sandals on his feet, was often pursued by the Huguenots with sticks and stones, and received a wound on one shoulder of which he remained lame as long as he lived. He was twice taken for a spy; but God delivered him out of all dangers. On the very day on which he arrived at his convent from this tedious journey, he went out to his work and other duties as usual. He never spoke of any thing that had happened to him in his journey unless asked; and then was careful to suppress whatever might reflect on him the least honor or praise. He had a singular devotion to the mother of God, whose intercession he never ceased to implore that he might be preserved from sin. The holy sacrament of the altar was the object of his most tender devotion; also the passion of our divine Redeemer. He spent, especially towards the end of his life, a considerable part of the night at the foot of the altar on his knees, or prostrate on the ground. In prayer he was often favored with ecstasies and raptures. He died at Villa Reale, near Valentia, on the 17th of May, in 1592, being fifty-two years old. His corpse was exposed three days, during which time the great multitudes which from all parts visited the church, were witnesses to many miracles by which God attested the sanctity of his servant. St. Paschal was beatified by Pope Paul V. in 1618, and canonized by Alexander VIII. in 1690.
If Christians in every station endeavored with their whole strength continually to advance in virtue, the Church would be filled with saints. But alas! though it be an undoubted maxim, that not to go on in a spiritual life is to fall back, "Nothing is more rare," says St. Bernard, "than to find persons who always press forward. We see more converted from vice to virtue, than increase their fervor in virtue." This is something dreadful. The same father assigns two principal reasons. First, many who begin well, after some time grow again remiss in the exercises of mortification and prayer, and return to the amusements, pleasures, and vanities of a worldly life. Secondly, others who are regular and constant in exterior duties, neglect to watch over and cultivate their interior; so that some interior spiritual vice insinuates itself into their affections, and renders them an abomination in the eyes of God. "A man" says St. Bernard,4 "who gives himself up entirely to exterior exercises without looking seriously into his own heart to see what passes there, imposes upon himself, imagining that he is something while he is nothing. His eyes being always fixed on his exterior actions, he flatters himself that he goes on well, and neither sees nor feels the secret worm which gnaws and consumes his heart. He keeps all fasts, assists at all parts of the divine office, and fails in no exercise of piety or penance; yet God declares, '