A Town Called St. Peter, A Place Where Catholics Can Live Their Faith in Peace, Unless Katie Couric Shows Up

November 22, 2010

CHICAGO (MetroCatholic) — In April of 2006, with the town of Ave Maria under construction in Florida, Tom Monaghan went on several national television news shows to generate awareness for this new town that would offer a new Catholic university.

In the early 1990s, Monaghan, the multi-millionaire who founded Domino’s Pizza, had been inspired to steer away from pride and lavish possessions. He sold his businesses and put hundreds of millions of his own money into developing a town called Ave Maria and Ave Maria University near Naples, Florida. His dream was to develop a Catholic university on a par with Notre Dame in a town where Catholics could live their faith.

It was a noble Christian effort, but when he stepped onto NBC’s Today Show, Katie Couric didn’t agree and attacked this mission.

“She went ballistic on him,” said John Ruane, author of the new satirical book on the news media titled, The Wizards of Spin. “I had watched her for years and never saw that side of her. She was basically attacking him on network television for trying to develop such a school and community, demanding that the drug stores in the town sell condoms.”

In 2008, Ruane was inspired to write his third book, while watching the on-air battle between Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann. The Wizards of Spin is satirical fiction written for those who love to watch news and talk shows, and includes a chapter on Couric.

“I cover the Monaghan interview, but then write a fictional account with another millionaire Catholic forming the town of St. Peter on his island outside of the United States, where Couric had no voice or jurisdiction,” said Ruane.”In my opinion, Katie Couric absolutely showed her bias and abused her journalistic integrity. Using satire, I expose her arrogance and abuse of power in this story.

“This chapter also gave me the opportunity to describe the perfect Catholic community, which is what I believe Mr. Monaghan was trying to achieve.”

The chapter is titled, “A Town Called St. Peter” and is the only faith-based story in the book.

The Wizards of Spin, published by Second City Books, is available at Amazon.com. To contact the author directly for a review copy or interview, send an email to: [email protected]

BENEDICT XVI RECALLS HIS APOSTOLIC TRIP TO UNITED KINGDOM

September 22, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - During this Wednesday’s general audience, held in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope turned his attention on his recent apostolic trip to the United Kingdom, which took place from 16 to 19 September and which he described as “a historic event marking a new important phase in the long and complex history of relations between that people and the Holy See”.

Referring to the first event of the trip, his meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in Edinburgh, the Holy Father recalled how “it was a highly cordial meeting, characterised by a deep and mutual concern for the wellbeing of the peoples of the world and for the role of Christian values in society”.

In Glasgow, where he celebrated the first Mass of his trip on the feast of St. Ninian, the first evangeliser of Scotland, “I recalled the importance of the evangelisation of culture, especially in our own time in which an insidious relativism threatens to darken the unchanging truth about the nature of man”.

The second day of the visit began with a meeting in London with the world of Catholic education, at which Benedict XVI dwelt on “the importance of the faith in forming mature and responsible citizens. I encouraged the many adolescents and young people who welcomed me with warmth and enthusiasm”, he said, “not to follow limited goals, or to satisfy themselves with comfortable choices but to aim at something greater: the search for true happiness which is to be found only in God.

“In my subsequent meeting with the leaders of other religions present in the United Kingdom”, he added, “I pointed out the ineluctable need for sincere dialogue, which in order to be fruitful requires respect for the principle of reciprocity. At the same time, I identified the search for the sacred as a ground common to all religions, upon which to build up friendship, trust and collaboration”.

The Pope went on: “The fraternal visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury was an opportunity to underline the shared commitment to bear witness to the Christian message which unites Catholics and Anglicans. This was followed by one of the most significant moments of my apostolic trip: the meeting in the Great Hall of the British parliament” where, he explained, “I underlined the fact that religion, for lawmakers, must nor represent a problem to be resolved, but a factor that makes a vital contribution to the nation’s historical progress and public debate, especially by recalling the essential importance of ensuring an ethical foundation for choices made in the various areas of social life”.

The praying of Vespers with the Christian communities of the United Kingdom in Westminster Abbey, the first visit made there by a Successor of Peter, “marked an important moment in relations between the Catholic community and the Anglican Communion”, Pope Benedict said.

He then recalled how, on Saturday morning, a Eucharistic celebration was held at Westminster Cathedral, which is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord. “I as overjoyed to meet large numbers of young people”, he remarked. “With their enthusiastic presence, … they showed that they wanted to be protagonists of a new period of courageous witness, effective solidarity and generous commitment to serving the Gospel”.

Later in the apostolic nunciature, “I met with some victims of abuses committed by members of the clergy and religious. It was a moment of intense emotion and prayer”, said the Holy Father. At his meeting with people responsible for protecting children and young people in Church environments “I thanked them and encouraged them to continue their work, which is part of the Church’s long tradition of concern for the respect, education and formation of new generations”.

The old people’s home he visited on Saturday afternoon testifies, he said, “to the great concern the Church has always had for the elderly, and expresses the commitment of British Catholics to respecting life irrespective of age or condition”.

“The culmination of my visit to the United Kingdom was the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, illustrious son of that land. By way of preparation, it was preceded by a special prayer vigil which took place on Saturday evening at Hyde Park in London. … To the multitude of faithful, especially young people, I presented the shining example of Cardinal Newman, intellectual and believer, whose spiritual message can be summed up in his the witness that the way of knowledge does not mean closing in on oneself; rather it means openness, conversion and obedience to He Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life”.

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by highlighting how “this apostolic trip confirmed my profound conviction that the old nations of Europe possess a Christian soul which merges with the ‘genius’ and history of their respective peoples, and the Church never ceases to work to keep this spiritual and cultural tradition alive”.

PAPAL INTERVIEW DURING THE FLIGHT TO THE UNITED KINGDOM

September 17, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - As is the tradition on his apostolic trips abroad, during his flight to the United Kingdom the Holy Father answered questions from the journalists accompanying him on the papal aircraft.

One journalist asked the Pope if he was worried about the discussions and contrasting opinions that have marked preparations for his trip. “The tradition of the country has included strong anti-Catholic views. Are you concerned about how you will be received?”

Benedict XVI replied: “I must say that I am not worried because when I went to France it was said that it was the most anti-clerical of countries, with strong anti-clerical currents and a minimum number of faithful, and when I went to the Czech Republic it was also said that it was the most irreligious and anticlerical country of Europe. … Of course, Great Britain has its own history of anti-Catholicism, that much is obvious, but it is also a country with a great history of tolerance. Thus I am certain that there will be a generally positive welcome from Catholics and believers, attention from those from those who seek to progress in our time, and mutual respect and tolerance where there is anti-Catholicism. I hope to carry on courageously and joyfully”.

The second question was: “The United Kingdom, like many other Western countries, is considered to be a secular State. There is a strong culturally-motivated atheist movement. Nonetheless, there are also signs that religious faith - particularly faith in Jesus Christ - remains alive at a personal level. What does this mean for Catholics and Anglicans? Can anything be done to make the Church a more credible and attractive institution?”

“In my view”, the Pope replied, “a Church which seeks above all to be attractive is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for herself, she does not work to increase her numbers and her power. The Church is at the service of Another. She serves not herself, not to become strong; rather, she serves to make the announcement of Jesus Christ more accessible: the great truths, the great powers of love and reconciliation which appeared in Him and which always come from the presence of Jesus Christ. … In this sense its seems to me that Anglicans and Catholics have a simple task, the same task, the same direction to follow. If Anglicans and Catholics see that neither is an end unto themselves, but that they are both instruments of Christ (’friend of the bridegroom’ as St. John says); if both follow Christ’s priorities and not their own, then they come together because those priorities unite them. They are no longer rivals, each searching for more followers, they are joined in their commitment to the truth of Christ which comes into this world. Thus do they also reciprocally discover authentic and fruitful ecumenism”.

The third question put to the Pope focused on how to restore trust among the faithful following the sex abuse scandals.

“In the first place, I have to say that these revelations were a shock to me, a source of great sadness. It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly ministry was possible. The priest at the moment of ordination, having prepared for years for that moment, says yes to Christ, becoming His voice, His mouth, His hand, and serving Him with all his life so that the Good Shepherd Who loves, helps and leads us to truth may be present in the world. It is difficult to understand how a man who has done and said these things can fall into this perversion. It is very sad. It is also sad that the Church authorities were not sufficiently vigilant, not quick and decisive enough in taking the necessary measures. For all these reasons we are now in a time of penance, humility and renewed sincerity. … As concerns the victims, I would like to make three important points. … How can we make reparation, what can we do to help these people overcome their trauma, rediscover life and faith in the message of Christ? Concern and commitment to the victims is the first priority, with material psychological and spiritual assistance. The second question is the problem of the guilty, ensuring they receive just punishment, that they have no possibility of approaching young people, because we know that this is a disease and free will cannot function where the disease exists. Thus we must protect these people from themselves, find ways to help them and protect them from themselves, excluding them from all access to young people. The third point concerns prevention through education and the selection of candidates to the priesthood; vigilance so that as far as humanly possible future cases are avoided. I would also like to take this moment to thank British bishops for their attention and collaboration, both with the See of St. Peter and with the public authorities, and for their concern towards the victims. I feel the British episcopate has done and continues to do a great job, and I am very grateful to them”.

“The figure of Cardinal Newman”, noted another journalist, “is very important for you, to the extent that you are taking the exceptional step of presiding at his beatification. Do you feel that his memory can help to overcome divisions between Anglicans and Catholics? What aspects of his personality do you wish to emphasise most?”

“Cardinal Newman is above all”, the Holy Father said, “a modern man who experienced all the problems of modernity, who also lived the problem of agnosticism, the impossibility of knowing God and believing. … I would also highlight these three elements: The modernity of his life, with all the doubts and problems of our lives today. His immense culture; his knowledge of the great treasures of human culture and his permanent readiness to study and renew that knowledge. His spirituality; his spiritual life and his life with God. These things make him an exceptional man of our time. Thus his figure appears as a doctor of the Church for us and for everyone, as well as being a bridge between Anglicans and Catholics”.

The final question was: “This visit is considered as being a ‘State visit’. Are there important points of agreement with the UK authorities, particularly in view of the great challenges facing the world today?”

The Pope replied: “I am very grateful to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who wished to give this visit the rank of State visit, thus expressing its public nature as well as the joint responsibility of politics and religion for the future of the continent and the future of humanity. [We have] a great and joint responsibility to ensure that the values that create justice and politics - values that come from religion - proceed together in our time. Of course, the fact that this is a State visit does not make it a political event, because if the Pope is a head of State this is only a tool to guarantee the independence of his announcement and the public nature of his work as pastor, In this sense, a State visit always remains, substantially and essentially, a pastoral visit”.

THOUSANDS OF EUROPEAN ALTER SERVERS TO MEET THE POPE

July 24, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 23 JUL 2010 (VIS) - Thousands of young altar servers are due to travel to Rome on 3 and 4 August for the tenth European pilgrimage promoted by the “Coetus internationalis ministrantium” movement (CIM). The theme of this year’s pilgrimage is “Drinking Waters from the True Well”.

On the afternoon of Tuesday 3 August, altar servers from twelve European nations (including 44,000 from Germany and 8,000 from Hungary, France, Romania and Switzerland) will attend a concert in St. Peter’s Square. The event, involving interviews and guest appearances, will culminate in the praying of Vespers and some words from the Pope. At the end of the event, participants will be invited to exchange their national pilgrim shawls with participants from other countries.

On Wednesday 4 August, the young altar servers will attend the Holy Father’s general audience. Bishop Martin Gachter, auxiliary of Basel, Switzerland, and president of CIM, will greet the national groups then present the Pope with a white pilgrim shawl. Following the Holy Father’s address and blessing, a band and choir from Hamburg will play in honour of the German Pope.

Miraculous cancer cure in St. Louis could canonize Marianist founder

July 20, 2010

St. Louis, Mo. (CNA).- Last Friday an evening prayer service marked the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ official closure of its investigation into an alleged miraculous cure attributed to Bl. William Chaminade, founder of the Marianist order.

The archdiocesan tribunal, established by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson to investigate the claim, will now send its findings to the Vatican.

The claim concerns area resident Rachel Lozano, who since her sophomore year of high school has been diagnosed with cancer three times. As treatment, she underwent three different therapies including chemotherapy, radiation, a stem cell transplant and surgery. Doctors told her that no one ever survived her type of cancer after a stem cell transplant.

After joining a group of St. Louisians who attended the year 2000 beatification for the Society of Mary founder Fr. William Joseph Chaminade, Lozano began to pray for his intercession. The first miracle needed for the Marianist founder’s beatification was an Argentinean woman’s healing from lung cancer, according to the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

But in the months after Lozano returned from her pilgrimage, her cancer aggressively came back.

After doctors told her that her situation was terminal, she had surgery to remove the third tumor but doctors found it was dead. They told Lozano there was no medical explanation for the reversal.

If the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints declares the cure to be a miracle, Blessed William Chaminade can be recognized as a canonized saint, pending Pope Benedict XVI’s approval.

St. Louis’ only miraculous cure to be declared authentic by the Vatican took place in the nineteenth century. It was one of the two miracles required for the canonization of St. Peter Claver.

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FREEDOM AND LOVE COINCIDE IF WE ABANDON ALL FOR CHRIST

June 28, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 27 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Pope focused his remarks prior to praying the Angelus on this last Sunday of June to the theme of the call of Christ and the requirements it brings.

Addressing thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said that “a young man or young woman who leave their family, their studies or their work to consecrate themselves to God” represent “a living example of the radical response to the divine vocation”.

“One of the most beautiful experiences a person can have in the Church is that of being able to see and touch the work of the Lord in people’s lives, of experiencing the fact that God is not some abstract entity, but a reality so great and strong as to fill man’s heart to overflowing; a living Person Who is close to us, Who loves us and asks to be loved”.

Benedict XVI highlighted how the requirements for following Christ “may seem very harsh, but in reality they express the novelty and absolute priority of the Kingdom of God which is present in the Person of Jesus Christ. They are, in the final analysis, the radical commitment that is due to the Love of God, which Jesus Himself was the first to obey”.

“A person who renounces everything in order to follow Christ enters a new dimension of freedom”, he continued. “Freedom and love are the same thing, while obeying one’s own egoism leads to rivality and conflict”.

The Holy Father concluded by inviting everyone “to contemplate the mystery of the divine-human Heart of the Lord Jesus. . People who fix their gaze on that Heart, pierced and ever open with Love for us, feel the truth of the following invocation: ‘Be you, my Lord, my only good’, and are ready to abandon everything in order to follow the Lord”.

After praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled how in Lebanon this morning a beatification ceremony was held for Etienne (ne Joseph) Nehme, religious of the Lebanese Maronite Order who lived in Lebanon between the end of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. “My heartfelt congratulations go to our Lebanese brothers and sisters”, he said, “and with great affection I commend them to the protection of the new blessed”.

“On this Sunday which precedes the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles”, the Holy Father concluded, “Italy and other countries are celebrating the Day of the Pope’s Charity. I express my gratitude to people who, with prayer and offerings, support the apostolic and charitable activity of Peter’s Successor, in favour of the universal Church and of so many of our brothers and sisters, both near and far”.

THOUSANDS OF CLERGY AT PRAYER VIGIL FOR YEAR FOR PRIESTS

June 11, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 11 JUN 2010 (VIS) - A prayer vigil was held yesterday evening in St. Peter’s Square for the close of the Year for Priests. The event was attended by some fifteen thousand priests from ninety-seven countries.

During the first part of the vigil, live television linkups enabled those present in St. Peter’s Square to share the witness and experiences of a German family with six children, a deacon, an Argentinean priest who works in a poor neighbourhood, a pastor from Hollywood, U.S.A., and a cloistered nun.

The second part of the vigil began with the Pope’s arrival in St. Peter’s Square by popemobile. Cardinal Claudio Hummes O.F.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, greeted the Holy Father noting how this Year for Priests has served “to promote commitment to interior renewal among all clergy, for an evangelical witness that is more powerful and incisive in the modern world”.

Cardinal Hummes continued his remarks: “We would like the Year for Priests never to end; that is, we would like our striving towards sanctity, each in his own identity, never to end, and that on this journey (which must begin in the seminary and last all our earthly lives as a single formative process) we may always be comforted and supported, as we have been in this Year, by the ceaseless prayer of the Church, by the warmth and spiritual support of all the faithful”.

Cardinal Hummes thanked the Pope “for everything you have done, are doing and will continue to do for all priests, even those who have lost their way. We know that Your Holiness has already forgiven and will always forgive the suffering some of them have caused you”.

A passage from the Gospel was then read out, after which the Pope responded to questions put to him by five priests, representing the five continents.

After praying the Lord’s Prayer, the Blessed Sacrament was borne in procession from the Bronze Door to the altar positioned in front of the Vatican Basilica. Following a moment of silent adoration, the Pope read out the prayer of the Year for Priests.

The vigil came to an end at 11.15 p.m. with the Eucharistic blessing and the singing of the “Salve Regina”.

PRIESTS: ACCOMPANY HUMAN BEINGS ON THEIR JOURNEY

June 11, 2010

VATICAN CITY, 11 JUN 2010 (VIS) - Today, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Holy Father presided at a Eucharistic concelebration in St. Peter’s Square to mark the close of the Year for Priests which was called to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the holy “Cure of Ars”.

The Eucharist was concelebrated by cardinals and bishops of the Roman Curia, as well as by more than fifteen thousand priests from all over the world. The Holy Father consecrated the wine in the same chalice as that used by St. John Mary Vianney, which is conserved in Ars.

In his homily the Pope noted how the Year for Priests was celebrated to ensure “a renewed appreciation of the grandeur and beauty of the priestly ministry. The priest is not a mere office-holder. … Rather, he does something which no human being can do of his own power: in Christ’s name he speaks the words which absolve us of our sins and in this way he changes, starting with God, our entire life. Over the offerings of bread and wine he speaks Christ’s words of thanksgiving, … which open the world to God and unite it to Him. The priesthood, then, is not simply ‘office’ but Sacrament”.

“This audacity of God Who entrusts Himself to human beings (Who, conscious of our weaknesses, nonetheless considers men capable of acting and being present in His stead) this audacity of God is the true grandeur concealed in the word ‘priesthood’. …This is what we wanted to reflect upon and appreciate anew over the course of the past year. We wanted to reawaken our joy at how close God is to us, … we also wanted to demonstrate once again to young people that this vocation, this fellowship of service for God and with God, does exist”.

“It was to be expected that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the ‘enemy’; he would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world. And so it happened that, in this very year of joy for the Sacrament of the priesthood, the sins of priests came to light - particularly the abuse of the little ones. … We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again; and that in admitting men to priestly ministry and in their formation we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey”.

“Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these events. But for us what happened was precisely the opposite: we grew in gratitude for God’s gift, a gift concealed in ‘earthen vessels’ which ever anew, even amid human weakness, makes His love concretely present in this world. So let us look upon all that happened as a summons to purification, as a task which we bring to the future and which makes us acknowledge and love all the more the great gift we have received from God. In this way, His gift becomes a commitment to respond to God’s courage and humility by our own courage and our own humility”.

The Pope continued his homily by commenting on Psalm 23 - “The Lord is my shepherd” - which forms part of today’s liturgy. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want”, said Benedict XVI. “God personally looks after me, after us, after all mankind. I am not abandoned, adrift in the universe and in a society which leaves me ever more lost and bewildered. … The world’s religions, as far as we can see, have always known that in the end there is only one God. But this God was distant. … There was still a recognition that the world presupposes a Creator. Yet this God, after making the world, had evidently withdrawn from it. The world itself had a certain set of laws by which it ran, and God did not, could not, intervene in them”. However, “wherever God’s loving concern is perceived as getting in the way, human beings go awry. … God wants us, as priests, in one tiny moment of history, to share His concern about people. As priests, we want to be persons who share His concern for men and women, who take care of them and provide them with a concrete experience of God’s concern”.

“We should strive to ‘know’ men and women as God does and for God’s sake; we should strive to walk with them along the path of friendship with God. … The shepherd points out the right path to those entrusted to him. He goes before them and leads them. Let us put it differently: the Lord shows us the right way to be human. He teaches us the art of being a person. What must I do in order not to fall, not to squander my life in meaninglessness? This is precisely the question which every man and woman must ask, and one which remains valid at every moment of one’s life. How much darkness surrounds this question in our own day! We are constantly reminded of the words of Jesus, Who felt compassion for the crowds because they were like a flock without a shepherd”.

“The people of Israel continue to be grateful to God because in the Commandments He pointed out the way of life. … God has shown us the way and how to walk aright. The message of the Commandments was synthesised in the life of Jesus and became a living model. Thus we understand that these rules from God are not chains, but the way which He is pointing out to us. … By walking with Christ, we experience the joy of Revelation, and as priests we need to communicate to others our own joy at the fact that we have been shown the right way”.

Explaining the Psalm’s reference to the “darkest valley”, Benedict XVI pointed out that this can refer to death where, however, the Lord will not abandon us. Yet, “when speaking of the darkest valley, we can also think of the dark valleys of temptation, discouragement and trial through which everyone has to pass. Even in these dark valleys of life He is there. … Help us priests, so that we can remain beside the persons entrusted to us in these dark nights. So that we can show them your own light”, he said.

“‘Your rod and your staff - they comfort me’: the shepherd needs the rod as protection against savage beasts ready to pounce on the flock; against robbers looking for prey. Along with the rod there is the staff which gives support and helps to make difficult crossings. … The Church too must use the shepherd’s rod, the rod with which she protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated. Nor is it love if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away, as if it were something that we ourselves had invented. As if it were no longer God’s gift, the precious pearl which we cannot let be taken from us. Even so, the rod must always become once again the shepherd’s staff - a staff which helps men and women to tread difficult paths and to follow the Lord”.

The Psalm closes with a reference to the “table set”, to “dwelling in the house of the Lord”. In these words, said the Holy Father, “we see a kind of prophetic foreshadowing of the mystery of the Eucharist, in which God Himself makes us His guests and offers Himself to us as food - as that bread and fine wine which alone can definitively sate man’s hunger and thirst. How can we not rejoice that one day we will be guests at the very table of God? … How can we not rejoice that He has enabled us to set God’s table for men and women, to give them His Body and His Blood, to offer them the precious gift of His very presence”.

Finally, the Pope commented on the two communion antiphons which recount the lance thrust in Jesus’ side which caused blood and water to come out. This, the Pope explained, recalls “the two fundamental Sacraments by which the Church lives: Baptism and the Eucharist. From the Lord’s pierced side, from His open heart, there springs the living fountain which continues to well up over the centuries and which makes the Church. The open heart is the source of a new stream of life”.

“Every Christian and every priest should become, starting from Christ, a wellspring which gives life to others. We ought to be offering life-giving water to a parched and thirsty world. Lord”, the Holy Father concluded, “we thank you because for our sake you opened your heart; because in your death and in your resurrection you became the source of life. Give us life, make us live from you as our source, and grant that we too may be sources, wellsprings capable of bestowing the water of life in our time. We thank you for the grace of the priestly ministry. Lord bless us, and bless all those who in our time are thirsty and continue to seek”.

BENEDICT XVI RECALLS HIS APOSTOLIC TRIP TO CYPRUS

June 9, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - During his general audience today, celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope reminisced about his recent apostolic trip to Cyprus, “in itself a historical event” being the first time a Bishop of Rome “has visited that land blessed by the apostolic work of St. Paul and St. Barnabas, and considered part of the Holy Land”.

On 4 June in the ancient city of Paphos, during the first stage of his journey, an ecumenical celebration was held “with Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II and representatives of the Armenian, Lutheran and Anglican communities. We fraternally renewed our reciprocal and irreversible commitment to ecumenism”, said the Holy Father.

On 5 June in Nicosia, capital of Cyprus, having visited the president of the Republic, the Holy Father met with civil authorities and the diplomatic corps, to whom “I reiterated the importance of founding positive law on the ethical principles of natural law in order to promote moral truth in public life. This was an appeal to reason based on ethical principles, full of important implications for today’s society which often no longer recognises the cultural tradition upon which it is founded”.

Benedict XVI then went on to recall how during the liturgy of the word, celebrated in St. Maron primary school, “I was able to witness personally the apostolic fervour of Cypriot Catholics. This is expressed through activities of education and assistance, with dozens of structures at the service of the community which are much appreciated by both the governmental authorities and by the population”.

“During that same celebration”, he went on, “I was able to admire the apostolic commitment of the Latin community, guided by the solicitude of the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and the pastoral zeal of the Friars Minor who serve the people with constant generosity”.

The Holy Father then referred to the Mass he had celebrated in the church of the Holy Cross, during which “I made a heartfelt appeal to all the Catholics of the Middle East, despite their great trials and the difficulties they notoriously face, not to give in to discouragement and the temptation to emigrate, because their presence in the region represents an irreplaceable sign of hope. I gave them guarantees, especially to priests and religious, of the entire Church’s affectionate and intense solidarity, and her incessant prayers that the Lord may help to ensure their presence always brings life and peace.

“Surely the culminating moment of my apostolic trip was the consignment of the ‘Instrumentum laboris’ of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops”, the Pope added. On that occasion “we prayed together for the soul of the late Bishop Luigi Padovese, president of the Turkish Episcopal Conference, whose sudden and tragic death left us pained and distressed”.

The Special Assembly for the Middle East, due to be held in the Vatican in October, will “be accompanied by the prayerful affection of the entire Church”, said the Holy Father, noting how the Middle East “occupies a special place” in the Church’s heart “being the place where God made Himself known to our fathers in the faith. There will also”, he continued, “be no lack of attention from the other components of global society, especially important figures in public life who are called to work constantly so the region can overcome the situations of suffering and conflict that still afflict it, and finally rediscover peace in justice”.

Benedict XVI continued his remarks: “Before leaving Cyprus I was happy to visit the Maronite cathedral of Cyprus, where Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon, was also present”. The Maronites came to Cyprus in various periods, he said, “and often suffered difficult trials in order to remain faithful to their specific Christian tradition, the history and art of which represent a cultural heritage for all humankind”.

The Pope concluded his remarks by highlighting how “the Cypriot Catholic community in its various ramifications - Maronite, Armenian and Latin - incessantly seeks to be of a single heart and a single soul, both in itself and in its cordial and constrictive relations with our Orthodox brothers and with other Christian groups. May the Cypriot people and the other nations of the Middle East, with their political leaders and the representatives of the various religions, together build a future of peace, friendship and fraternal collaboration”.

THOMAS AQUINAS: HARMONY BETWEEN REASON, CHRISTIAN FAITH

June 3, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - In today’s general audience held in St. Peter’s Square, Benedict XVI continued with his catechesis dedicated to the great saints of the Middle Ages, speaking on St. Thomas Aquinas, called the “Angelic Doctor” for the elevated nature of his thought and the purity of his life”.

The Pope explained that Thomas was born around 1225 to a noble family in Roccasecca, Italy near the Abbey of Montecasino. He was sent to the University of Naples at a young age where he first became interested in Aristotelian thought and felt a call to the religious life.

In 1245 he went to Paris to study theology under the guidance of St. Albert the Great who held this student in such esteem that he was asked to accompany him to Cologne, Germany to open a centre for theological studies.

“Thomas Aquinas, at St. Albert the Great’s school, carried out a task of fundamental importance in the history of philosophy and theology as well as for history and culture”, the Pope said. “He studied Aristotle and his interpreters in depth” and “commented on a great part of Aristotle’s works, discerning what was valid in it from what was doubtful or refutable, demonstrating its consonance with the facts of Christian revelation, using Aristotelian thought with great breadth and intelligence in presenting the theological writings he composed. In short, Thomas Aquinas demonstrated that a natural harmony exists between reason and the Christian faith”.

“His great intellectual endowment brought him again to Paris to teach theology. That is where he began his monumental literary output: commentaries on the Sacred Scriptures and the works of Aristotle along with his masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae”.

“There were a few secretaries who assisted in drafting his works, among whom was Reginald of Piperno [...] who was bound to him by a fraternal and sincere friendship characterized by great trust and reliance. This is a characteristic of the saints”, the pontiff observed. “They cultivate friendship because it is one of the most noble manifestations of the human heart and holds something of the divine within it”.

In 1259 Thomas Aquinas participated in the General Chapter of the Dominicans in Valenciennes, France to establish the order’s constitutions. On his return to Italy, Pope Urban IV charged him with composing the liturgical texts for the feast of Corpus Christi.

“St. Thomas has a profoundly Eucharistic soul”, the Pope affirmed. “The beautiful hymns that the liturgy of the Church sings to celebrate the mystery of the real presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist are due to his faith and theological wisdom”.

In Paris, where he returned in 1269, a great number of students followed his courses, but the “Angelic Doctor” also dedicated himself to preaching to the people, who listened with attention. “It is a great gift that theologians know how to speak with simplicity and fervour to the faithful. The ministry of preaching, on the other hand, also helps those who are experts in theology to develop a healthy pastoral realism and enriches their research with stimulation”, the pontiff remarked.

In the final months of his life, St. Thomas — who died in 1274 at the Abbey of Fossanove, Italy when he was heading to Leon to participate in an ecumenical council — confessed to his friend Reginald of Piperno that, after a divine revelation, he considered his work as “so much straw”, writing nothing further afterwards.

“It is a mysterious episode that helps us understand not only Thomas’ personal humility but also the fact that all that we are able to think and say about the faith, as elevated and pure as it may be, is infinitely surpassed by the greatness and beauty of God who will reveal himself to us in the fullness of paradise,” Benedict XVI concluded.

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