By THE EDITORS | On Sept. 12, The New York Times posted a short notice with an unusual headline: “Are You Catholic and Divorced?”
“In an effort to better understand how Catholics experience their church’s teachings, New York T…
Cordoba, Spain, Oct 1, 2014 / 02:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With the Synod on the Family just days away, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cautioned against deconstructing the Gospel message to make it artificially easy.
“We can talk a lot about God, and in the end, do so without faith,” warned Cardinal Gerhard Mueller during a Sept. 28 Mass at the cathedral in Cordoba, where he delivered an address on St. John of Avila.
“We can ‘deconstruct’ the Gospel and Tradition and remake them to the liking of today’s world, making their demands easy and accommodating them to the fragile, superficial, immature and post-modern man.”
However, he cautioned, if we were to deprive ourselves “of the chance to confront our lives with the divine Word, we would also lose the chance to enjoy the authentic happiness that Christ brings, who did not come to take away the crosses of life but to make our burden lighter and to encourage us to always do the will of God.”
We encounter the Lord’s company “on the road that leads to Easter” and not in a watered-down form of Christianity that makes no demands, he said.
“Only Christ and his love can make the cross of illness, of a job loss, of loneliness and widowhood, of infidelity or the failure of marriage, less burdensome,” the cardinal explained.
He also stressed the importance of defending life, the family and religious freedom.
“The family should be firmly defended as the place and environment in which each person is filled with love and grows in his or efforts and willingness to sacrifice,” he said.
“The duality between man and woman is necessary for the constitution of a marriage and a family, and no child should be deprived of his natural right to have a father and a mother.”
Citing St. John Paul II’s encyclical Centesimus Annus, Cardinal Mueller underscored the defense of “the right to life, of which the right of a child to grow up under the heart of a mother is an integral part.”
He noted that “the Christian promotion of the rights of man is clear with regards to the information and construction of a collective conscience, in everything related to the questions of the inviolability of human life, seeking to influence the norms and laws aimed at defending life.”
The Church stands up for the dignity of each person, “as the foundation of life in common for all people of different beliefs,” he said.
“On the basis of natural law, the Church, in close union with other social groups, must confront the State or certain totalitarian ideologies that seek to suppress or eliminate religion or freedom of conscience, as the Second Vatican Council made clear in its Declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae,” the cardinal explained.
Vatican City, Oct 1, 2014 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his first meeting as Pope with the Focolare movement, Pope Francis on Friday encouraged them in their effort for unity, as the movement has started a process of internal renewal which has brought to a change of more than 70 percent of their previous board.
Pope Francis received the 473 members of the Focolare movement general assembly Sept. 26, a few days after the assembly had re-elected Maria Voce as president of the movement and at the same time had elected a new co-president, Fr. Jesùs Moràn Cepedano, and changed three-fourths of the council that is called to assist and support the work of the president.
“The average age of the new council is 16 years younger than that of the previous council; the 30 members comes from 20 different countries” said Michele Zanzucchi, director of the Focolare movement’s Italian magazine Città Nuova, in a press conference held Sept. 26.
The president, co-president, and counselors have been entrusted with a six-year mandate.
Meeting the delegates, Pope Francis acknowledged that “the Work of Mary, that everyone knows as the Focolare movement, was a little seed in the Catholic Church’s womb, that in the course of the years has brought to life a tree which now extends its branches in all the expressions of the Christian family and also among members of different religions and among many who cultivate justice and solidarity together with the search for truth.”
Pope Francis entrusted the members of Focolare movement and all those who share the spirit and the ideal of the movement with three key words: contemplation; going out to engage in dialogue; and formation of youth.
Pope Francis stressed first of all that “we need to contemplate God and the beauty of his love,” keeping in mind that “to contemplate means to live together with brothers and sisters, breaking with them the bread of communion and fraternity,” since “contemplation that leaves people outside is a lie, it is narcissism.”
Pope Francis then said that “going out is the movement of evangelization.”
“Going out as Jesus went out of the Father to announce the word of love to everyone, to the point of giving all of himself on the cross.”
The Roman Pontiff underscored that “we have to learn from Jesus the dynamics of exodus and gift, of going out from ourselves, walking and always seeding again, in order to generously communicate to everybody the love of God.”
The third key word is “being a school,” because “we need to educate, as the Gospel asks, new men and women, and this is the reason why a school of humanity based on Jesus’ humanity is needed.”
Education is a key focus of the Focolare movement, especially in view of the synod for the family.
“A synod is not needed to solve disciplinary matters,” commented Jesùs Moràn, the movement’s new co-president. “It must go in-depth to the potential the family has at present, and at the same time be able to welcome the sufferings of the family.”
Maria Voce added that “re-discovering the family’s identity means being aware of the huge potential of the testimony of the conjugal life.”
After the meeting with Pope Francis, Voce commented that “Pope is right, dialogue is not an easy task,” but “we can afford it, if we start from our very hearts.”
The general assembly lasted almost one month, but it was preceded by a series of around 3,000 proposals collected all over the world that had been food for the assembly’s discussion.
“That they all may be one” is the passage which the assembly chose as the Focolare movement’s guideline for the next six years.
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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sep 30, 2014 / 10:58 pm (CNA).- A Brazilian couple who will speak at the upcoming Synod on the Family at the Vatican said they hope to convey the necessity of realizing God’s essential role in marriage and family life.
“When we received the news it was a surprise because this is such an important event. We are thankful for this great blessing. It’s an honor and at the same time a great responsibility,” said Arturo and Hermelinda de Sa Zamperline, who come from San Jose de Campos in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The couple directs the Teams of Our Lady Movement in their city, and together with 13 other couples, they have been invited to attend the synod as auditors, which means they will be able to address the bishops but not vote.
The synod, scheduled for October 5-19, will bring together bishops from around the country, as well as other members of the Church, to discuss challenges facing the family.
In statements to CNA, Arturo and Hermelinda said they are excited and nervous about their role in the upcoming synod, where they will speak on the topic, “Openness to life and educational responsibility.”
“We have received a lot of material to read and we are studying quite a bit,” Hermelinda explained. “We were chosen to speak for exactly four minutes about the pastoral challenges and respect for openness to life. Our remarks should reflect our experience as a Christian family and our pastoral experience.”
“We are called to testify to love, forgiveness and praise of God. We should have a life that is consistent with the faith we profess. We should be very thankful to God, have a prayer life and participate frequently in the Eucharist. And we should do this with conviction and joy, it should not be a burden,” she added.
The couple said marriage involves three people: “Us and God, because where He is, there is charity, there is true love.”
“Before, we were Sunday Catholics, and as we began to understand the value of the sacrament of marriage, we experienced a new awakening in our lives,” they explained.
That change came while they were living in Rio de Janeiro, during a retreat for parents organized by the school their children were attending.
“We felt a fire reignite in us at that event. Our love for Jesus grew as well as the will to give our relationship to God in a greater way.”
Hermelinda said the secret to a happy marriage is prayer and dialogue.
“We can overcome challenges with greater ease when we know that our best includes God.”
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, has called for international action to aid refugees in Africa. The papal diplomat told the UN Commission for Refugees Sept. 30 that “too many victims have turned the waters of the Mediterranean into a silent cemetery” …
Panjim, India, Sep 30, 2014 / 07:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Spiritual formation and catechesis are underway to prepare for the upcoming exposition in Goa of the relics of St. Francis Xavier, the “Apostle to the Far East.”
The Archdiocese of Goa and Daman announced last year that the relics would be exposed at Se Cathedral from Nov. 22, 2014, until Jan. 4, 2015. The exposition, a decennial event – one that happens only once every ten years – is expected to draw millions of pilgrims to the Indian state of Goa.
“For Catholics, the exposition of St. Francis Xavier’s relics is an important celebration of faith,” Fr. Alfred Vaz, head of the St. Francis Xavier exposition committee and rector of Se Cathedral, told CNA Sept. 26.
“Parishes in the diocese are spiritually preparing under three sets of compiled catechesis, pointed towards faith promotion and under the footprint of the call for new evangelization following upon the Year of Faith.”
The three sets of catechesis, Fr. Vaz explained, are celebration of faith, known locally as “bhavartacho sombrom”; strengthening Small Christian Communities; and communitarian aspects of the faith.
St. Francis Xavier was among the first companions of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and was one of the first members of the Society of Jesus. He evangelized in India, Indonesia, and Japan, and died in 1552 on his way to China.
His remains are normally kept at the Basilica of Bom Jesus in an elevated silver casket.
On Nov. 22, Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay will celebrate a Mass to begin the exposition; the relics will be transferred in a solemn procession from the Bom Jesus basilica to Se Cathedral, both of which are in Old Goa.
St. Francis Xavier’s relics will be available for public veneration, attracting millions of tourists and pilgrims from across India and the world before being solemnly transferred back to the Basilica of Bom Jesus.
Daily veneration will be held 12 hours a day, from seven to seven, with Mass and confessions offered nearly constantly and in various languages, Fr. Vaz said.
“Special counters with multimedia featuring faith formation materials will invite tourists and pilgrims of other faiths to an inter-religious dialogue, and free resource literature will be available,” he added.
Fr. Vaz also recounted that the residents of Goa – irrespective of religion – hold St. Francis Xavier in high esteem, and call him “Goencho Saib”, Konkani for “Sir” or “Lord.” Many also believe he protects Goa from natural disasters, the priest noted.
The Goa and Daman archdiocese has squashed local rumors that Pope Francis would visit the exhibition of his fellow Jesuit’s relics.
The concluding Mass will be said Jan. 4, 2015, by Archbishop Salvatore Pennachio, apostolic nuncio to India.
The last exposition of the relics, in 2004, drew more than 2.5 million pilgrims to Goa. The state’s government, together with the national government, has made extensive plans for the religious tourism associated with the exhibition, adding the event to the tourism ministry’s calendar.
The Goan government and local administration will also work to ensure pilgrims’ safety and provide infrastructure for the exposition’s success.
Fr. Anthony Dias, head of the pastoral center of the nearby Diocese of Karwar, in Karnataka state, told CNA that St. Francis Xavier “stands as an exemplary model for pursing the zeal of mission and continues to draw millions, even today after his death centuries ago.”
He noted that millions of people from various religious communities come to venerate the saint in thanksgiving for fulfillment of votive prayers.
“Numerous miracles are evidences of the Spirit of God among us,” Fr. Dias said.
He noted the relics’ attraction of both pilgrims as tourists, as they are incorrupt.
“Interestingly, there are few who come in amazement to witness a human body that has endured against the state of decomposing without any chemical substances for centuries, who hit their guts and then acclaim that (he) is indeed a holy man.”
“For Catholics, death lies in the Paschal mystery of resurrection,” Fr. Dias added, “while this new life after death, and the soul returning to God, bewilders the people of other faiths.”
Faiths native to India, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, believe in reincarnation, and so the veneration of relics is a notable point of dialogue between them and Catholics.
“The exposition of the mortal remains thus contributes to interreligious dialogue and theological faith sharing experiences,” Fr. Dias said, recounting his experiences at the Karwar diocese’s shine to St. Francis Xavier located in Chandavar.
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Orlando, Fla., Sep 30, 2014 / 04:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic medical professionals can lead other people to God by dedicating themselves to holiness and following the examples of saintly doctors, Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Neb., said.