Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Giuseppe Canovai, a Roman who left a community as his legacy

Rome, Italy, Jul 31, 2014 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Familia Christi is the Roman community formed by Fr. Giuseppe Canovai, a priest of the city whose life united Franciscan poverty and the Jesuit spirituality.

“He was a simple man, with a deep spirituality that hungered for the salvation of souls,” explained Fr. Matteo Riboli, president of the Associazione Vittorio eTommasina Alfieri, an association of the faithful aiming to form the laity according to the ideals of Familia Christi.

Coming from simple roots, Fr. Canovai, born in Rome in 1904, unified in his persona the deep spirituality of a man of God with a charismatic personality.

“He was born into a poor family who was nevertheless rich in their Italian heritage,” Fr. Riboli told CNA.

“Since he was young, he strove for spiritual perfection. Fr. Rosa, a Jesuit, helped him in his Christian formation,” Fr. Riboli explained, adding: “he was very Roman in his style, very approachable; so much so that sometimes people called him a joker.”

In 1929 Canovai entered the Almo Collegio Capranica, the seminary of the Diocese of Rome.
He studied both philosophy and theology at the Gregorianum – run by the Society of Jesus – and was ordained a priest of the diocese in 1931.

He was attracted to the Society of Jesus, however, through his time at the Gregorianum and his contact with Fr. Enrico Rosa, who was editor of La Civilta Cattolica and his spiritual director. He tried to enter the Society while in seminary, but was rebuffed.

Fr. Cavonai “was always eager in the care for souls. He wanted to give his life for the good of souls,” said Fr. Riboli.

Fr. Canovai’s spirituality was marked by his jovial style of dealing with others while retaining a profound piety.

“In his diary he wrote daily what moved him, and thus offers a deep insight into his spiritual life, his secret relation to God.”

He began his diary in 1919, and it was not published, as ‘Suscipe Domine’, until 1949, by La Civilta Cattolica. It was recently re-published in Italian due to its popularity.

Fr. Riboli continued, saying the priest “had a great love for the Eucharist and exercised an extreme habit of mortification, up to self-flagellation. This became visible only after his death by the visibility of scars, and instruments he left behind.”

Fr. Canovai served several years in Rome. He was a secretary at the Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, and studied canon law, but loved to preach. He was later able to serve as a university chaplain.

“He wanted to found a new group together with a young women, Tommasina Alfieri,” Fr. Canovai said of his time in Rome. “In 1937 he founded the first community, called ‘Opera Regina Crucis’, but only in 1942 did the group take the name ‘Familia Christi’.”

The priest joined the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in 1939, and that year was sent to Buenos Aires as auditor to Argentina’s apostolic nuncio.

Thence he was briefly sent to Chile, though he returned to Argentina in 1942, where he died Nov. 11 of that year.

“He offered his life to the Lord,” Fr. Riboli said, “with the words, ‘I did not expect that it would be so beautiful to die so soon and to die so young.’”

Fr. Canovai’s legacy is continued to the present day by Familia Christi.

The community of 30 Romans living near the Tiber is “a family of friends of God who give their life for their siblings in the love of God,” said Fr. Riboli.

It includes both men and women who meet multiple times a week, including a weekly meeting for scripture reading and lectio divina.

Fr. Riccardo Petroni, postulator for the cause of beatification of Fr. Giuseppe Canovai and ecclesial assistant to Familia Christi, told CNA that the priest’s beatification is imminent.

The diocesan investigation was concluded in 2001, and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has given its verification.

“The veneration of Don Giuseppe Canovai began right after his death. From that moment on he had a reputation of sanctity due to the zeal with which he worked and his heroic way of witness for the Gospel.”

Pope Francis, too, knows the Roman priest.

“He was incredibly famous in Buenos Aires, and certainly Pope Francis knew him,” Fr. Petroni said. “In 2007 when the request was made to transfer his mortal remains from the Jesuit church in Buenos Aires to Rome, it was the archbishop, Cardinal Bergoglio, who granted permission.”

Fr. Petroni concluded that Fr. Canovai shares a common feature with Pope Francis: the dual love of Franciscan poverty and Jesuit spirituality.

“Today his remains lie in the church of the Franciscans, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, an order whose spirituality he liked so much, together with the Jesuit charism, the first charism of his life.”

Pope Francis visits with evangelicals in southern Italy

Caserta, Italy, Jul 28, 2014 / 04:27 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- During his visit Monday to an evangelical Christian community in Caserta, Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit creates diversity and unity in the Church, so that the Church lives a “reconciling diversity.”

He suggested July 28 that the path to unity may be pursued by “going to peripheries and touching the flesh of Christ.”

Pope Francis’ second trip in three days to Caserta – punctuated by his return to Rome for Sunday’s Angelus address – was meant to be a private meeting with his long term friend, evangelical pastor Giovanni Traettino and his Pentecostal Community of Reconciliation.

In his off the cuff address, which lasted about 30 minutes, Pope Francis asked forgiveness for the Catholics who, in the 1930s, contributed to the persecution of pentecostals under Mussolini and the Fascists.

“Among those who persecuted and denounced pentecostals … there were also Catholics. I am the shepherd of Catholics, and I ask you forgiveness for those Catholic brothers and sisters who have not understood, and have been temptated by the devil.”

Pope Francis maintained that even for the Pope “there is the temptation of assessing: I am the Church, you are a sect. Jesus has prayed for unity. The Holy Spirit makes diversity in the Church. But the same Holy Spirit makes unity, and the Church is unity in diversity. A diversity reconciled through the Holy Spirit.”

Pope Francis spoke at the conclusion of an ecumenical celebration, in which some 350 persons took part. The celebration included three testimonials of faith, a musical performance, and addresses by both Traettino and Pope Francis.

Prior to the celebration, Pope Francis spent some 50 minutes with Traettino at his home.

Traettino’s reconciliation community was founded about 20 years ago, while Raffaele Nogaro was Bishop of Caserta.

Traettino and Bishop Nogaro soon became friends, which made the evangelical community’s church a central point for ecumenical efforts in the city.

Pope Francis had learned of Caserta’s ecumenical commitment from Traettino, who visited Argentina on business and with whom he had become friendly while Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

In his address, Traettino said that the Pope, “with but one gesture, overcame ‘protocol’ and got to the heart of human relations.”

“You gave us a great, and unexpected gift … I can say on behalf of all of us, that we love you. You came to visit your brother where he is, as he is.”

Pope Francis in turn stressed that “some may be surprised that the Pope has come to meet the evangelicals. I have come to visit the brethren.”

Pope Francis’ request of forgiveness dealt with religious persecution against evangelicals that took place in Italy under Fascism.

Pentecostals were excluded from the religious confessions admitted by a 1929 law, because they lacked a central governing body. Pentecostal worship was then forbidden in Italy in 1935.

After that time, their worship was denounced, including by some priests, and some pentecostal pastors were sent to prisons or concentration camps.

Pope Francis asked forgiveness for those Catholics who had behaved as did the 11 brothers of Joseph who, influenced by the devil and envious, sold him as a slave.

Following the celebration, he lunched with the evangelical community.

He was expected to visit the convent of nuns of Falciano, a Caserta suburb. The convent is home to five nuns who work with children, and a small crowd was waiting to see him in front of the enclosure.

But as his lunch with evangelicals lasted longer than expected, Pope Francis did not have time to visit the consecrated religious of Falciano.

Once the meal ended, he had time to meet two disabled children before returning to the Vatican.

Bishop Davies: Lourdes shrine a light amid war, death

Lourdes, France, Jul 28, 2014 / 10:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- This weekend, shortly before today’s centenary of the beginning of World War I, an English bishop has said that the Marian shrine of Lourdes remains “undimmed” and still invites everyone to see the “light of the Gospel,” Jesus Christ.

“A hundred years ago this week, the world descended into what is now called the First World War, the second war would quickly follow and a Cold War would bring humanity to the brink of nuclear extinction,” Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury preached July 26.

“It is hard to believe how in those summer weeks of 1914 the beginnings of this whole catastrophe would be welcomed by ecstatic crowds and enjoy wide, public support.”

He said that Lourdes has “continued its clear witness to the value of every person, especially those most in danger of being discarded” despite global war and ideologies which aim to “strip human life of its value and dignity.”

Bishop Davies preached during a Mass said at the grotto of Lourdes, which marks the spot where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernardette Soubirous 18 times in 1858. The apparition told St. Bernardette, a sickly 13-year-old, to pray for sinners and to drink from a spring.

The shrine and its waters have become a place for many miraculous healings.

Bishop Davies said St. Bernardette “represents all those little ones Pope Francis describes as discarded humanity. Mary of Nazareth greets and gently bows to Bernadette of Lourdes. And Bernadette asks, like Elizabeth: ‘why should I be honoured with a visit from the Mother of my Lord?’”

“Mindful of the millions who would fall victim to the wars and inhuman ideologies of the century and a half which followed Lourdes calls us to recognise the Gospel anew,” he said.

The Lourdes shrine shows that the Church is against “everything which demeans the eternal value of the human person” and that the Church is for “the life and dignity of every man, woman and child.”

“Mary shows us here how placing those who are weakest, frailest at the centre our concerns brings not sadness and loss but joy, the joy of conversion.”

Bishop Davies noted the push to legalize assisted suicide in England and Wales, suggesting that the change in public opinion is “not dissimilar” to the emotionalism which led up to and accompanied World War I.

“At a time when our country is actively considering ‘assisting’ the sick and aged to kill themselves it seems once again that many who rejoice in such notions of ‘progress’ fail to see the consequences of ‘the culture of death’ they are creating.”

He cited Cardinal Vincent Nichols’ recent comment that Lourdes teaches about the human dignity of the sick and dying and “the exhausting demands and rewards of caring for them, the horizon of eternity.”

The Archbishop of Westminster had said at Lourdes July 17 that “here no one points to the dark door of suicide, assisted or not. Lourdes has far more to teach us about dying than the killing clinics of Holland or Switzerland.”

Bishop Davies said Lourdes is a cause for hope.

“It must give encouragement to all who work for ‘the cause of life’ that, as war and ideologies have passed, this light shining in Lourdes has remained undimmed.”

“We the generation of 2014 are surely invited here to glimpse anew the value of each and every person in the light of Heaven, in the light of the Gospel Mary brings with such urgency: Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Some 900 people from the Diocese of Shrewsbury, ranging in age from infancy to 95, are on the diocese’s annual pilgrimage to Lourdes. Their prayer intentions include world peace and reconciliation on the anniversary of World War I, as well as prayers to uphold the rights and dignity of the elderly and vulnerable.

UN committee criticized for efforts to push abortion on Ireland

Geneva, Switzerland, Jul 26, 2014 / 04:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Assertions by members of the U.N. Human Rights Committee that Irish abortion law violates international human rights agreements is erroneous and exceeds its authority, one observer has said…

Holy See calls for immediate ceasefire, lasting peace in Gaza

Geneva, Switzerland, Jul 24, 2014 / 01:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a statement issued during a special session of the Human Rights Council, the Holy See urged an immediate ceasefire and the start of negotiations aimed at a lasting peace between Israel a…

John Paul I’s beatification cause may advance, cardinal says

Belluno, Italy, Jul 24, 2014 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A document advancing the beatification of John Paul I is ready, and will be given to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints this autumn, according to the emeritus Secretary of State.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone announced the milestone during his homily at Mass in the Belluno cathedral July 20.

The beatification process of John Paul I had been slowed because the “positio” had not been completed. The positio is the document that the postulator prepares, presenting the “pros” and “cons” of a person’s possible beatification.

After the positio is submitted, theologian consultants to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and the Promoter of Faith, will vote on whether to approve the document for further consideration.

If they approve, the members of the congregation then will give their response. If they too approve, the cause for beatification will be referred to Pope Francis for approval.

John Paul I was born in the Diocese of Belluno and Feltre in 1912, as Albino Luciani. He was ordained a priest of the diocese in 1935, at the age of 22, and was appointed Bishop of Vittorio Veneto in 1958. He then served as Patriarch of Venice from 1969 until his election as Bishop of Rome in 1978.

He served as Pope for 33 days before his death, presumably of a heart attack.

Shortly after his death, requests to begin his beatification process came from many parts of the world. These requests were formalized in 1990, with a document signed by 226 Brazilian bishops.

The diocesan phase of the investigation, held in Belluno, was opened in 2003 and closed in 2006. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved the documents of the diocesan investigation in 2008.

A miracle has already been attributed to the intercession of John Paul I: the 1992 healing of Giuseppe Denora, from the Diocese of Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti. Denora was suddenly healed from a malignant tumor in the stomach after seeking the late Pope’s intercession.

However, the reputed miracle still awaits the approval of both the council of doctors and the council of theologians who work for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

St. John Paul II declared his predecessor a Servant of God on Nov. 23, 2003. If his cause advances, he wil next be named “Venerable.”

Luciani’s positio was expected to have been prepared for the centenary of his birth, but was delayed until now because members of the team advocating for his cause wanted to double-check all of the document.

In 2012, the postulator of the cause, Bishop Enrico dal Covolo, rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, had submitted instead the witnesses’ summary, the first of the four documents which make up a positio.

John Paul I’s beatification process is very close to Cardinal Bertone’s heart. The beatification cause had been promoted in 2002 by the cardinal’s close friend and fellow Salesian, Bishop Vincenzo Savio of Belluno-Feltre.

Bishop Savio died in 2004. Since then, fame of his own sanctity has spread to the degree that many have requested the opening of his canonization process.

“We will have to wait for something more for him,” Cardinal Bertone said to CNA.

Christian leader, friend to Pope Francis dies in motorcycle accident

London, England, Jul 21, 2014 / 03:49 pm (CNA).- Tony Palmer, a Protestant Christian leader and a close friend of Pope Francis, passed away in the U.K. on Sunday due to injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident.

The Order of the Ark Community, an i…

Catholic cultural renewal advocate Stratford Caldecott mourned

Oxford, England, Jul 18, 2014 / 04:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Stratford Caldecott, a Catholic cultural thinker dedicated to literature, theology, and the “second spring” of Catholicism, passed away Thursday, weeks after Hollywood stars took to Twitter to support him in his struggle with cancer.  

Those who mourned his death included his friend Michael J. Lichens, editor of the U.S.-based website Catholic Exchange.

“I don’t know anyone who has encountered Stratford Caldecott and not been changed, whether that was by his writing or meeting him in person,” Lichens told CNA July 18.

“His words, his example of love and charity, and his absolute gratitude for life shined through in his writings and also made him an absolute joy to encounter.”

“He was, without a doubt, the most powerful voice for Catholic culture in the Anglophone world.”

Caldecott, known to his friends as “Strat,” died in Oxford, England, on July 17 of prostate cancer.

Leaders with the U.K.-based Catholic Truth Society praised his “encyclopedic knowledge of the faith” and his “authentic talent for spotting gifted writers who, like himself, could explain the riches of the faith to all.”

Among his many roles, Caldecott served as commissioning editor of the Catholic Truth Society’s Compass magazine.

Caldecott wrote on the importance of Catholic culture, education, aesthetics, and theology. He drew inspiration from the luminaries of English-speaking Catholicism: Blessed John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Christopher Dawson.

His wrote various books about the sacraments, Catholic education, Catholic liturgy, aesthetics, and the spiritual vision of Tolkien in “The Lord of the Rings.”

Caldecott was the founder of the Second Spring journal, which takes its name from a sermon by Cardinal Newman that encouraged a Catholic revival in England.

He founded the Centre for Faith & Culture at Westminster College in Oxford, and later became the G.K. Chesterton Research Fellow at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford.

He served as an editor for many journals, including the U.K. and Ireland edition of “Magnificat” and The Humanum Review, the journal of the Center for Cultural and Pastoral Research at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C.

He served on the editorial boards of the journals Communio, The Chesterton Review, and Oasis.

Caldecott was born in South Africa and raised in London. He became interested in mysticism and religion as a teen. He studied philosophy and psychology at Oxford, and later converted to the Baha’i religion. He became involved in Buddhism, but his interest also grew in Christianity.

He recounted his conversion story in an essay in the collection “The Path To Rome – Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church,” published in the U.K. by Gracewing and reprinted on the Patheos blog “Standing on my Head” by Father Dwight Longenecker.

Caldecott had a dream about the Holy Grail that made him realize the importance of stories from his childhood, such as the King Arthur legends, Tolkien’s works, and the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

“All along, my imagination had been built on a Christian foundation, and I had never noticed it before,” he wrote.

He then began to study the Catholic faith. He said that he recognized in Catholic teaching “the God of my interior horizon,” described by St. Thomas Aquinas as “closer to the soul than the soul is to itself.”

“To reject the invitation of that God would have been to deny my true self,” Caldecott wrote.

“I had not expected this. I had intended not to ‘fall in love’ but simply to test Catholicism for its persuasive power, and then break the news gradually to my family, completely prepared in advance to answer all the inevitable objections.”

He was baptized in 1980. His wife Leonie entered the Church two years later.

“I began to realize that no matter how much grace is present in the other religions, it is only Christianity that knows the secret of how grace enters the world,” he said. “Without the cross, no ‘religion’ would suffice – were it founded on the Beatitudes themselves.”

“Christ came not primarily to teach, but to do. He came to die for us.”

While deeply admired by Catholics and others around the world, Caldecott gained his greatest worldwide prominence in his final months due to his lifelong appreciation for comic books about super heroes.

Because of his cancer, Caldecott was too ill to go to the movie theaters to see the Marvel Studios film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

In May, Caldecott’s daughter Sophie took to the social media site Twitter to ask Marvel to send her father a copy of the movie so he could watch it at home. She enlisted the help of the general public and of  Hollywood movie stars under the hashtag “#CapForStrat”, to encourage Stratford in his final days.

The stars of Marvel Comics films, including Robert Downey, Jr. and Samuel Jackson, posted “selfies” with signs supporting Caldecott. Their photos joined hundreds of other messages of support that Sophie presented to her father.

Marvel then arranged a showing of the movie.

Sophie Caldecott in a May blog post said that her father loved comic heroes “because they inspire hope, and encourage people to fight for the greater good.”

“I think we’ve witnessed a bit of that child-like purity of spirit and good intentions over the past few days,” she added, voicing hope that the hashtag campaign will encourage men at risk of prostate cancer to undergo the proper tests.

Human rights court: Europe cannot be forced to redefine marriage

Strasbourg, France, Jul 18, 2014 / 02:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the refusal to recognize same-sex “marriages” does not violate the European Convention on Human Rights.

In a July 16 ruling, the …

Papal trip to Korea should renew local Churches, priest says

Rome, Italy, Jul 17, 2014 / 01:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In the run up to Pope Francis visit to South Korea next month, a Korean priest said he expects ground breaking changes there in terms of peace and the Church’s service to society.

“The Koreans are very excited and full with joy,” Fr. Denis Kim, S.J., a professor of sociology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, told CNA.

“There is also an expectation for a renewal of the Church in Korea. In other words, the Holy Father can bring refreshment and also give inspiration, a sense of direction to the Korean Church.”

Fr. Kim is a professor of sociology at the Jesuits’ Roman university, and studied at the National University in Seoul, among other institutions.

He is convinced that the papal visit, slated for Aug. 14-18, will be important not only for his own country, but for all of Asia, where the people of Japan and China yearn for reconciliation in their own countries.

“The Church can contribute more, and in this regard Holy Father can inspire and stimulate; so there is tremendous excitement and expectation for his visit.”

The Church in South Korea has grown exponentially, marking 70 percent growth over the last decade. From 1949 to 2010, it expanded from 0.6 percent of the population, to 10.9 percent.

Fr. Kim suggested two reasons for the attraction of the Church.

“First there is a special hunger; so if you ask the Koreans who recently became Catholic, they will say: ‘I became Catholic because I wanted to find peace, peace of mind and heart.’”

Unlike other countries in which scandals connected to the Church prevail in media reports, she is portrayed as a positive force for South Korean society.

“Another reason for her attractiveness is that the Catholic Church has acquired credibility and a moral authority in comparison to other religions in the country,” Fr. Kim said.

“When you compare it with other Asian countries, the growth of the Church in Korea is really exceptional.”

Pope Francis’ style wins over the hearts of the Korean people, he said, with his “reaching out, and his very honest way of speaking and interacting with others and his respect for them, especially for the marginalized and the poor. This really attracts the younger generations.”

“Therefore, the best message is the messenger himself.”

“Usually the younger generations are treated as object for mission, like students who need to learn and to be educated,” he explained, but Pope Francis “invites them, as a companion, for a mission.”  

“Therefore younger people feel they are respected, they are recognized and they are invited to this very important mission, as companions.”

“We need new forms of discipleship,” Fr. Kim said. “New forms of martyrdom, new forms of witness.”

During his trip, Pope Francis will beatify 124 Korean martyrs who were persecuted in the 19th century, and who are role models for today’s Catholics on the peninsula.

“We need disciples who are not afraid to witness the faith in this contemporary democratic and capitalistic world.”

The Church can contribute her part in facing such challenges as “a situation of insecurity of the youth, a precarious job situation, fragmented families, high divorce and suicide rates, and the lack of feeling understood among the youth,” continued Fr. Kim.

As a Pope focusing time and again on peace, Francis will have the possibility to set concrete signs of reconciliation for Korea, a divided country.

“A call for reconciliation during his message, and a call to reduce the arms race, that would be very significant.”

Fr. Kim also suggested that Pope Francis could encourage the bishops’ conferences of Korea, Japan, and China “to walk together more closely for peace.”

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