Archive for the ‘Catholic World News’ Category

Holy See to UN: Share the riches of outer space

New York City, N.Y., Oct 22, 2014 / 06:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The exploration of outer space can deepen our faith in God and our understanding of the world, and its benefits should be shared with all.

This was the message of Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, at the Special Political and Decolonization Committee on Oct. 17.

“Since the earliest days of human history, humanity has looked to the sky with wonder, longing to understand celestial realities and their meaning in relation to humanity itself,” Archbishop Auza said.

“The Holy See believes that faith is capable of both expanding and enriching the horizons of reason; thus, it rejoices in the marvelous progress of science, seeing it both as a product of the enormous God-given potential of the human mind and as manifestation of the vastness and richness of creation.”
 
St. John Paul II had written in his encyclical Fides et Ratio — on the relationship between faith and reason — about how the two are complementary, and both help lead man to God.

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves,” the late Roman Pontiff wrote.

In Archbishop Auza’s address, after discussing the relation between faith and reason, he stressed the need to share the economic and scientific benefits of space exploration to benefit the poor around the world, and not just the elite nations which invest in outer space projects.

An important part of sharing the good of this resource, the archbishop continued, is the commitment to the peaceful use of outer space.

“To this end, the ongoing discussion on the development of an International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities represents a positive step toward furthering a fairer and safer use of outer space,” he said. “It would undoubtedly help toward preventing an arms race in outer space and, consequently, toward averting a new, grave threat to international peace and security.”

The information that satellites can provide, including monitoring the state of various environments, tracking water cycles and other atmospheric conditions, should be put to use for the benefit of all.

“If we do not work together, there will be no winners, only losers,” the archbishop said.
Furthermore, satellites can help spread information even to the “far-flung areas” of the earth, and can help decrease illiteracy throughout the world, though the power of sharing information should not be abused either.
 
“However, care must be taken that this outer space technology does not become an instrument of dominion and a vehicle to impose certain cultures and values on others.”

Finally, Archbishop Auza asked that the environment of outer space be preserved for the benefit of future generations as well.

“It is the Holy See’s belief that we are only its temporary stewards, with the unwritten but morally compelling responsibility to preserve it for future generations.”

This is not the first time someone in a Church leadership position has spoken about the intergalactic realm. In a homily in May, Pope Francis considered what would happen if aliens ever came to the Vatican, and whether or not they should be baptized.

“Who are we to close doors?” Pope Francis said.

No matter how unpredictable or impossible the workings of the Holy Spirit might seem, the Pope said, the Catholic Church is one of “open doors.”

“When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, let’s do it this way’.  Who are we to close doors?”

The Pope was connecting the hypothetical situation to the reading of the day, in which the early Christians who had been Jews were hesitant to present the Gospel to those who were Gentiles and therefore previously considered “unclean.”

In 2010, one of Benedict XVI’s astronomers, Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., said an alien could be baptized if it were determined to have intelligence, free will, freedom to love and to make decisions, which characterize beings with eternal, personal souls.

“But the odds of us finding it, of it being intelligent and us being able to communicate with it – when you add them up it’s probably not a practical question,” Br. Consolmagno told The Guardian.

Would he ever baptize an alien?

“Only if they asked.”

Hundreds flock to US shrine to celebrate first feast of St John Paul II

Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2014 / 04:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Hundreds of pilgrims and faithful from all states of life flocked to Washington, D.C.’s St. John Paul II Shrine on Wednesday to celebrate the late Pope and recently canonized saint’s first universal feast day.

“To be able to celebrate in the presence of a saint on their first feast day, I think is just a point of great grace for the local Church and all the pilgrims that come here,” said Fr. Jonathan Kalisch, O.P, chaplain of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, to CNA Oct. 22.

This presence, he said, was apparent in the large and diverse crowd who came to participate in a feast day Mass at the shrine.

At the Mass, there were “over 550 young people, the elderly, there were Polish pilgrims, the consecrated, the sisters, there were male religious,” Fr. Kalisch explained. “ When I was celebrating the Mass, I thought, ‘he’s brought them here.’”

Fr. Kalisch gave the homily at the first celebration of the Feast of Saint Pope John Paul II at the saint’s shrine in Washington, D.C. A relic of St. John Paul II’s blood, as well as a bloodstained piece of his cassock from the 1981 attempt on his life are present for veneration at the shrine.

St. John Paul II served as Pope for over 26 years, from 1978 until his death in 2005. He was canonized earlier this year, on April 27; the Oct. 22 observance of his feast is the anniversary of his papal inauguration.

The Mass was preceded by a recitation of the rosary, and followed by a screening of a documentary on the saint’s visits to North America, and the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Veronica McGraw, a high school student from Alexandria, Va., is learning about the newly canonized saint in her high school classes, and said she has come to better understand his teachings and example.  

“I really love his love for the human person and the dignity he has for everybody: how every person is made in the image of God and has immeasurable worth,” she said.

Joey Ledonio, another high school student, said he was impressed by the international effect of  St. John Paul II’s papacy through his travels and meetings with world leaders. Also striking, Ledonio said, were the sheer number of  “all of the people he canonized” during his papacy.

Brendan Peifer, also a teen from Virginia, said that what stood out to him about the late Pope’s service and teaching is “his focus on love.”

As a young person, though, Peifer said he was also grateful for the saint’s focus on reaching out to youth: “He was really concerned with the future of the Church and the future of the world.”

Fr. Kalisch highlighted the Pope’s witness to “the vocation to sacrificial love” in his homily, pointing to the tragedies John Paul II suffered in his early life with the loss of his family, as well as his ministry to young people and families and work as bishop and later Pope in standing for truth and freedom.

The chaplain also spoke later of the Pope’s love, and its demonstration in those who were present to celebrate his first feast day at the shrine.

“To see this outpouring of devotion: I was just personally moved to see everybody there and to celebrate today,” he said. “No doubt he wanted them there.”

Above all, though, recognizing the late Pope for his holiness is what was at the core of the feast day celebrations, Fr. Kalisch said.

“It’s just a great joy to be able to call him a saint.”

Ecumenical dialogue in the spotlight as Pope’s Turkey trip approaches

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2014 / 01:57 pm (CNA).- The cardinal heading the Church’s council for Christian Unity has expressed his hope that Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Turkey will help strengthen existing Catholic-Orthodox relations.

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Refugees, displaced take center stage at Middle East consistory

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2014 / 12:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At Monday’s consistory on the Middle East, patriarchs gathered to discuss the threats facing local Christians, and focused on the key task of returning displaced families to their homes.

“We are suffering … we feel that we are isolated and that we are forgotten,” Louis Raphael I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, told CNA after the Oct. 20 consistory.

“I asked the Pope to send a message to Christians, to encourage them to stay home, to keep their hope, and maybe also to visit displaced families to encourage them to stay and not to leave their homes, and to have patience to persevere.”

The Syrian civil war has forced 3 million Syrians, of all religions, to become refugees, with an additional 6.5 million internally displaced. And in Iraq, since the rise of the Islamic State, there are more than 1.8 million internally displaced persons.

Cardinals and patriarchs from the Middle East, together with top officials of the Secretariat of State and interested dicasteries attended the consistory with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

Initially set in order to advance the causes of canonization for two blesseds, the consistory’s schedule was expanded by Pope Francis who wanted to dedicate it to discussion surrounding the plight of Christians in the Middle East, taking advantage of the presence of Middle Eastern patriarchs in Rome on the heels of the synod.

Patriarch Sako said that what representatives from the Middle East most want from the international community is further aid in gaining back the Christian towns in Iraq’s Nineveh province from the Islamic State so that displaced families can go home and “continue their life as it was before.”

Although multiple countries have launched airstrikes against the Islamic State, Patriarch Sako explained that it is not enough, and would like to see “something on the ground” that will help regain the fallen cities.

“We know that just bombing and killing people is not a solution,” he said. “But also, when they are killing innocent people and destroying houses” there needs to be a military action.

In the long run, Patriarch Sako said, it is necessary “to destroy this kind of ideology with a new culture, new programs of religious instruction; and also, religious leaders should refuse this fundamentalism.”

He also extended a personal invitation to the Pope to visit Iraq in order to “encourage Christians and Muslims to live together, and also to push forward the culture of dialogue and peace, and to resolve problems with negotiations.”

Another participant in the consistory, Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Syriac Patriarch of Antioch, told CNA Oct. 20 that at this moment, Christian in the Middle East “are facing a very, very critical phase in their history.”

One of their great concerns, he said, is that Christians and other persecuted minorities have no means of defending themselves against Islamist militants, and so they are completely dependent upon military force exercised by their countries’ governments and by the international community.

Patriarch Younan said, “We are calling again on the powers of this world, international societies, to be faithful to the principles of the Charter of Human Rights from 1948: that we have the right to live as true citizens in dignity and freedom.”

Many families are scattered or lost, he said, and are living under “precarious conditions” in tents at makeshift camps, facing terrorism and the loss of their homes.

“These are our challenges,” Patriarch Younan explained, saying that in the consistory he and the other patriarchs made sure Pope Francis “understood the sum of all our drama,” particularly the fact that at this moment “we don’t know what to do to respond to (our people’s) questions – if they can return to their homes or not.”

Yostinos Boulos Safar, who is the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Zahle and Bekaa, in Lebanon, attended both the Synod on the Family and the following consistory as an ecumenical observer.

Speaking to CNA Oct. 17, he expressed his hope that the consistory would result in concrete solutions for the challenges present in the Middle East.

His own nation — whose population in 2011 was slightly more than 4 million — has since then become home to well over 1 million Syrian refugees.

Although it’s not possible to expect anything immediate, he said, “just to meet is something important. Just to talk is starting to resolve the problems.”

The Pope’s advice on how to overcome jealousy and pride

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2014 / 10:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his weekly address for the Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis offered advice on fighting those tendencies which “dismember” the Body of Christ, such as jealousy and feelings of superiority.

“A jealous heart is a bitter heart, a heart that instead of blood seems to have vinegar, eh! It is a heart that is never happy, it is a heart that disrupts the community,” he told tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Oct. 22

“When I am jealous, I must say to the Lord: ‘Thank you, Lord, for you have given this to that person’.”

Pope Francis stressed the importance of “expressing gratitude for everything,” saying that we are sometimes “held back” from saying “thank you” because of jealousy.

He also warned against feelings of superiority over others. “This is bad, do not do that! When you are tempted to this, remember your sins, those no one knows, shame yourself before God and say, ‘You, Lord, you know who is superior, I close my mouth’.”

The Holy Father’s general audience address focused largely on how the Church, drawn together by the Holy Spirit, is truly the Body of Christ.

Beginning with St. Paul, the Pope said, the image of the body as “applied to the Church” has become “recognized as its deepest and most beautiful distinguishing feature.” The question we ask ourselves, then is: “in what sense does the Church form a body? And why is called the ‘body of Christ’?”

Turning to the Book of Ezekiel, Pope Francis highlighted the unique and “shocking” scene – one which, nonetheless, “instills confidence and hope in our hearts” – in which the prophet has a vision of a field of broken and dried-up bones.

“Imagine: an entire plain full of bones,” he said. “God asks [Ezekiel], then, to invoke the Spirit upon them. At that point, the bones move, they begin to draw closer to each other and join together, nerves begin to grow and then flesh and thus the body is formed, whole and full of life.”

The Holy Father advised the faithful to go home and read this passage from Ezekial 37, explaining: “This is the Church… the masterpiece of the Spirit, which instills in each of us new life of the Risen Christ and places us next to each other, to help and support each other, thus making all us one body, built in the communion and love.”

The Church is not merely a body which has been built by the Spirit, he continued. Rather, “the Church is the Body of Christ!” This is the “great gift” we received in Baptism, for in this Sacrament, “Christ makes us His, welcoming us into the heart of the mystery of the Cross, the supreme mystery of His love for us, to make us rise again with Him as new creatures.”

“Baptism is truly a rebirth,” the Holy Father continued, “which regenerates us in Christ, making us a part of Him, and unites us intimately among each other, as members of the same body, of which He is the head” (cf. Rom 12.5, 1 Cor 12, 12-13).

“What emerges from this, then, is a profound communion of love.”

Recalling the words of St. Paul, in which the Apostle exhorts husbands to ‘love their wives as their own bodies,’ as ‘Christ does the Church’, the Pope remarked how good it would be to remember that we are Jesus’ body which “nothing and no one can snatch from Him and which he covers with all His passion and all His love, just like a bridegroom with his bride.”

Pope Francis added that this “must give rise in us the desire to respond to the Lord Jesus and share His love among ourselves, as living members of His own body.”

In the time of Paul, the Pope said, the community of Corinth experienced “divisions, jealousies, misunderstandings and marginalization.” Instead of “building and helping the Church to grow as the Body of Christ,” he said, these difficulties “shatter it into many pieces, they dismember it. And this also happens in our day.”

These same divisions which exist in in our own neighborhoods, he said, work to dismember us. “It is the beginning of war. War does not begin on the battlefield: war, wars begin in the heart, with this misunderstanding, division, envy, with this fighting among each other.”

Citing Paul’s “practical advice” to the Corinthians, Pope Francis warned against jealousy, calling instead for an appreciation for “the gifts and the quality of our brothers and sisters in our communities.”

He concluded his address by imploring the Holy Spirit to “help us to really live as the Body of Christ, united as a family, but a family that is the body of Christ, and as a beautiful and visible sign of the love of Christ.”
 

Leaders of Eastern Churches Meeting in Ukraine

The annual meeting of the Eastern Catholic hierarchies of Europe is taking place this year in Lviv (Ukraine), on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the legalisation of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church, at the invitation of His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč. In Lviv bishops …

Daily Homily: Divine Fire and Jesus’ Baptism


Ephesians 3:14-21 Psalm 33:1-2,4-5, 11-12,18-19 Luke 12:49-53
Today’s Gospel is not easy to understand: if Jesus is the “prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6) and gives the gift of peace to his Apostles after the Resurrection, why does he say in toda…

Pope: When you start feeling superior to others, remember your sins (Video)

To view the video click here.

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