The priesthood and consecrated life are an "intertwining of love" between divine initiative and free human response, and even if in some parts of the world there is a "worrisome shortage" of people who accept the "call" of God, believers should not lose confidence that He who guides the Church will provide for its needs.
This means keeping alive "in families and in parishes, in movements and in apostolic associations, in religious communities and in all the sectors of diocesan life this appeal to the divine initiative with unceasing prayer."
Since the vocation to the priesthood and consecrated life constitutes "a special gift of God," it is "he, the Lord, who freely chooses persons of every culture and of every age and invites them to follow him according to the mysterious plans of his merciful love."
The "free human response" requires, on the part of those called, "careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan."
It is, the pope says, "acceptance of and identification with the plan that God has for everyone; a response which welcomes the Lord’s loving initiative and becomes, for the one who is called, a binding moral imperative, an offering of thanksgiving to God and a total cooperation with the plan which God carries out in history."
Put in this perspective, "the one who is 'called' voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the divine Master; hence a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord who calls and the freedom of man who responds in love, hearing the words of Jesus echoing in his soul, 'You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide' (Jn 15:16).
"This intertwining of love between the divine initiative and the human response is present also, in a wonderful way, in the vocation to the consecrated life."
"Attracted by him, from the very first centuries of Christianity, many men and women have left families, possessions, material riches and all that is humanly desirable in order to follow Christ generously and live the Gospel without compromise, which had become for them a school of deeply rooted holiness. Today too, many undertake this same demanding journey of evangelical perfection and realise their vocation in the profession of the evangelical counsels. The witness of these our brothers and sisters, in contemplative monasteries, religious institutes and congregations of apostolic life, reminds the people of God of 'that mystery of the Kingdom of God is already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven' (Apostolic exhortation Vita Consecrata, 1)."
The awareness that "the call" is "the initiative of God" provides, in Benedict XVI's message, the answer to the question about "who can consider himself worthy to approach the priestly ministry."
The answer "is never patterned after the timid self-interest of the worthless servant who, out of fear, hid the talent entrusted to him in the ground (cf. Mt 25:14-30), but rather expresses itself in a ready adherence to the Lord’s invitation."
"Without in any sense renouncing personal responsibility, the free human response to God thus becomes 'coresponsibility', responsibility in and with Christ, through the action of his Holy Spirit; it becomes communion with the One who makes it possible for us to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:5)."
According to the example of Mary's complete trust in the divine initiative, the pope concludes, "do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully and you will be witnesses of the joy that flows from intimate union with him."
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
The Sacred Triduum in the Extraordinary Form Will be Celebrated at 8 Locations for 2009
In a sign that the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Mass) has returned to the heart of the Church, the Latin Mass Society has announced that the Sacred Triduum in the Extraordinary Form will be celebrated at 8 locations within England and Wales.
In recent years the LMS has organised 2-3 celebrations of the Sacred Triduum each year so 2009 is proving a bumper year – clearly Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio, ‘Summorum Pontificum’ is having a powerful effect. The full Holy Week ceremonies will be celebrated at Lanherne (Cornwall), Reading, South London, Central London, NW London, Brentwood, Leeds, Shrewsbury. A partial Triduum will be celebrated at Ham, Surrey. A full list is available on the LMS website (http://www.latin-mass-society.org/) or from the LMS office.
For many years, the LMS has celebrated the Sacred Triduum at Corpus Christi Church, Maiden Lane, London WC2. Because the Triduum was also celebrated there in the Ordinary Form, the LMS had to arrange its celebrations at unusual times. However, this year, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, has graciously arranged that the Ordinary Form congregation of Corpus Christi Church will join the congregation at nearby St Anselm & St Cecilia’s Church in Kingsway for their Ordinary Form Triduum so allowing the Sacred Triduum in the Extraordinary Form to be celebrated at Corpus Christi Church at the usual times (e.g. 3.00 pm on Good Friday).
In a further gesture of reconciliation, Cardinal Cormac has asked one of his priests, Fr Andrew Wadsworth, to celebrate the Corpus Christi Triduum – in previous years the LMS had to make its own arrangements.
John Medlin, General Manager of the LMS said, “We are very grateful to the congregation of Corpus Christi and the parish priest, Fr Chris Vipers, for giving free use of Corpus Christi Church for the Triduum in the Extraordinary Form. We are particularly grateful to Cardinal Cormac for proposing this arrangement and to Fr Wadsworth for coming to join us. Fr Wadsworth knows the Extraordinary Form well and we are looking forward to a wonderful celebration of these Mysteries of our salvation.”
If you look at the video of yesterday's Angelus, what is most striking is the number of people present, the square seems almost half full. Again and again the Pope attracts huge crowds.
In his Sunday Angelus Pope Benedict XVI spoke of his deeply moving journey to Angola and Cameroon, saying it allowed him to see and under stand the reality of the Church in Africa, the variety of its experiences and the many challenges that it faces. Promising to speak at greater length of his trip in his Wednesday audience, the Pope went on to underline two aspects which he said struck him most. First the peoples visible joy, their joy of being a part of Gods family; and secondly, the strong sense of the sacred which permeated the liturgical celebrations.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
1. Can a Catholic, faithful to the teaching of the Church, get a job as a year head in a state school, where they will be expected to manage a sex education programme that promotes contraception and, at best, remains indifferent to abortion, where they will be complicit in the referral of girls from the school for abortion?
2. Can Catholics, faithful to the teaching of the Church, progress in the fields of obstetrics and gynaecology in the NHS?
3. How do Catholic GPs, nurses and midwives fare when, after child birth, it is expected that they will offer advice to their patients on methods of contraception?
4. How do Catholic nurses and doctors fare with regard to the care of patients living out the last days of their lives under regimes such as the Liverpool Care Pathway, which do not make adequate provision for nutrition and hydration?
These are real discriminations that affect ordinary Catholics in their every day lives. I wonder what Dr Evan Harris wants to do about these?
Saturday, March 28, 2009
And it is for this same reason – one might add – that Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has not joined in the recent chorus of criticisms against the pope from representatives of France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, etc. On the contrary, he has taken the opposite approach.
On March 21, he said that the Church must be respected, and that its freedom of speech and action must be defended "even when one finds it proclaiming principles and concepts that are difficult and unpopular, far from the fashionable opinions." With this, Berlusconi simply expressed the view shared by many Italians.
Friday, March 27, 2009
BISHOP OF LANCASTER APPALLED
AT POSSIBLE ABORTION ADVERTS ON TV & RADIO
26 March 2009
Statement from Rt Rev Patrick O’Donoghue, Bishop of Lancaster
“It has been widely reported in the media that the Advertising Standards Authority is
considering allowing the abortion industry to advertise through the broadcasting
media. This deeply damaging proposal originates from the Independent Advisory
Group on Sexual Health & HIV and therefore comes from the heart of the abortion
industry – threatening yet another hammer-blow to the sanctity of human life in this
I am appalled that this proposal will result in the deaths of many more preborn
children and cause untold harm to women. As a society, we need to wake up and
stop treating abortion as a quick-fix solution to pregnancy and offer compassionate
and practical support to women facing crisis pregnancies. The Cardinal Winning
Pro-Life Initiative in Scotland is a shining example of the Church and others
reaching out to pregnant women who find themselves isolated and frightened,
offering emotional support and practical help such as liaising with families and
providing financial assistance to women in need.
The killing of the innocent can never be a genuine solution to a problem. I urge all
those who care about the sanctity of human life to voice their opposition to this
proposal with one voice. At the same time, please consider lending your support to
our pro-life organizations that care about mothers and their preborn children. “
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Proposition 23The is if the Sign of Peace were moved what would be the form of the Communion Rite? Some people claim the Our Father always ended with Sign of Peace saying the two things entered the Roman Rite at the same time - though not the Ambrosian Rite where it precedes the Offertory.
The Sign of Peace
The greeting of peace in the Holy Mass is an expressive sign of great value and depth (cf. John 14:27). However, in certain cases, it assumes a dimension that could be problematic, when it is too prolonged or even when it causes confusion, just before receiving Communion.
Perhaps it would be useful to assess if the sign of peace should take place at another moment of the celebration, taking into account ancient and venerable customs.
The Catholic Herald runs the back story to this little video by the Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, apparently it follows a meeting with President Obama.
"Why shouldn't our government and our legal system permit conscientious objection to a morally bad action, the killing of babies in their mother's womb? People understand what really happens in an abortion and in related procedures - a living member of the human family is killed - and no one should be forced by the government to act as though he or she were blind to this reality."
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
... if the Orthodox had Hymns Ancient and Modern, they would probably have a translation of it beginning Stand up, stand up, for Mary. Or, taking my fantasy even further, imagine some Orthodox Sabine Baring Gould writing Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war; with the homophorion of Mary, going on before.It seems strange that the Vatican II placed its teaching on the Blessed Virgin firmly in Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic document on the Church, the problem is that this chapter, the last in the document, is very beautiful but it is almost "bolted on" to the main document which can be read quite happily without the Marian chapter. There is no strong Marian theme running through the documents of the Council. The same can be said for the post-concilliar liturgy: the confiteor with its reference to Mary is optional, mention of her name has been expunged from the offertory and the Libera nos. The replacement of the genuflexion at the Incarnatus est, within the creed by a bow in so many places means these important words go by unmarked, as is the rubrical instruction to bow the head at Mary's name.
She who once dominated the apses of our churches is now relegated to a side chapel. So many clergy have real difficulty in admitting a Marian hymn or anthem to the liturgy.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Gabriel, meaning -the icon of God speaks and the Word becomes flesh and dwells amonst us. Both Mary and Gabriel are types of the Church. Through the voice of the Angel and compliance of the Virgin mankind encounters God himself.
The second Icon shows more clearly Mary sitting on a throne, she herself becomes the throne of Heaven, behind already the veil is already being drawn aside. It is the throne of David but it also a gate, the entrance to the Temple and the Church, and the Gate of Heaven.
Mary is clothed in the earth coloured garments of humility in this particular for here the Eternal Word empties himself his Divinity taking on the form of a servant.
She is holding in her hand a skein of scarlet wool "the good spouse is forever spinning" but it is also to remind us also of the red lambs wool Moses used to sprinkle the people with. Temple and sacrifice are here, and yet the throne also has appearance of a ciborium or baldochino over an altar.
As Gabriel speaks, the Holy Spirit descends, the veil above Mary is pushed back, heaven joins itself directly to her. Gabriel stand on a swirling pavement that speaks of heaven, yet Mary is raised above him. The horizantal line behind him direct us towards Mary who is surronded with verticles.
Concerning President Barack Obama speaking at Notre Dame
graduation, receiving honorary law degree
March 24, 2009
On Friday, March 21, Father John Jenkins, CSC, phoned to inform me that President Obama had accepted his invitation to speak to the graduating class at Notre Dame and receive an honorary degree. We spoke shortly before the announcement was made public at the White House press briefing. It was the first time that I had been informed that Notre Dame had issued this invitation.
President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.
This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation. I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith “in season and out of season,” and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.
My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life.
I have in mind also the statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops in 2004. “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” Indeed, the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for.
I have spoken with Professor Mary Ann Glendon, who is to receive the Laetare Medal. I have known her for many years and hold her in high esteem. We are both teachers, but in different ways. I have encouraged her to accept this award and take the opportunity such an award gives her to teach.
Even as I continue to ponder in prayer these events, which many have found shocking, so must Notre Dame. Indeed, as a Catholic University, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.
Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of his most holy mother. Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.
What I do not understand is the difference between bishops in the US and the UK and between Blair and Obamah.
On the anniversary of miracle Masses are celebrated through out the day, the photograph courtesy of John Sonnem is of Abp Burke being assisted downstair by a family retainer.
Orwell's Picnic has other pictures of the palace.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The spokesman of the Patriarchate made this announcement on Monday in Istanbul. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople wishes to resolve the tensions within the Orthodox churches with a substantial church meeting. Accordingly this year, two preparatory meetings are planned. The aim is to provide the theological foundations for a "Pan-Orthodox Synod" .
The first conference is scheduled for June in Cyprus, the second in December at a location still to be announced.
The initiative is comparable in value to a council. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I received support in October 2008 from all the Orthodox patriarchs and archbishops of independent national churches for this summit, including the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate.
Spero News says the agenda will concern the following ten points:
1. The Orthodox diaspora, where the jurisdiction over the Orthodox flock beyond national borders will be defined. According to the canons now in effect, before the growth in the phenomenon of emigration the faithful outside of their home country belong to the ecumenical patriarchate.
2. The manner of recognizing the status of autocephalous Church. 3. The manner of recognizing the status of Church autonomy.
4. Dypticha, meaning the rules of mutual canonical recognition among the Orthodox Churches.
5. Establishing a common calendar for feasts. For example, some Churches celebrate the Nativity on December 25, others 10 days later.
6. Impediments and canonicity of the sacrament of matrimony.
7. The question of fasting in the contemporary world.
8. Relationships with the other Christian confessions.
9. The ecumenical movement.
10. The contribution of the Orthodox in affirming the Christian ideals of peace, fraternity, and freedom.
Presumably one issue that will also be discussed is future of Constantinople Patriarchate itself.
Following an extensive Review of Youth Service provision
in the Diocese of Lancaster, we are now looking to expand
our work among young people.
Therefore the Trustees of the Diocese are looking to
appoint an enthusiastic and energetic
Director of Catholic Youth Services
for the Diocese of Lancaster
who will take up the renewed Diocesan vision and develop
a service for young people of the diocese which is holistic,
integrated and dynamic!
This post will be subject to an enhanced CRB check.
Salary range from £26k per annum + benefits.
Accommodation is provided with this position.
This exciting new Service - which will include Outreach and
Residential provision - is to be based at a refurbished Castlerigg
Manor, set in a stunning location in the heart of the English Lake
For an application pack, please contact:
The Bishop’s Secretary
The Pastoral Centre
Closing Date for Applications: 8 April 2009
Date for interviews: 21 April 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
"Our prayer," he said at the Angelus, "rises today from Angola, from Africa, and embraces the whole world. May the men and women from throughout the world who join us in our prayer, turn their eyes to Africa, to this great Continent so filled with hope, yet so thirsty for justice, for peace, for a sound and integral development that can ensure a future of progress and peace for its people."
Peace, reconciliation, and justice, which will be the theme of the Synod for Africa next October, take on special resonance in this country where 27 years of civil war have left more than one antipersonnel mine for each of the 13 million inhabitants, and where the enormous natural resources - from oil to diamonds - are giving rise to economic development dominated by China - which does not "interfere" in questions like respect for human rights - with extremely deep social inequalities.
The pope also made reference to war. Taking as his point of departure the readings at Mass, he said that "its vivid description of the destruction and ruin caused by war echoes the personal experience of so many people in this country amid the terrible ravages of the civil war. How true it is that war can 'destroy everything of value' (cf. 2 Chr 36:19): families, whole communities, the fruit of men’s labour, the hopes which guide and sustain their lives and work! This experience is all too familiar to Africa as a whole: the destructive power of civil strife, the descent into a maelstrom of hatred and revenge, the squandering of the efforts of generations of good people. When God’s word – a word meant to build up individuals, communities and the whole human family – is neglected, and when God’s law is 'ridiculed, despised, laughed at' (ibid., v. 16), the result can only be destruction and injustice: the abasement of our common humanity and the betrayal of our vocation to be sons and daughters of a merciful Father, brothers and sisters of his beloved Son."
"How much darkness," he added, "there is in so many parts of our world! Tragically, the clouds of evil have also overshadowed Africa, including this beloved nation of Angola. We think of the evil of war, the murderous fruits of tribalism and ethnic rivalry, the greed which corrupts men’s hearts, enslaves the poor, and robs future generations of the resources they need to create a more equitable and just society – a society truly and authentically African in its genius and values. And what of that insidious spirit of selfishness which closes individuals in upon themselves, breaks up families, and, by supplanting the great ideals of generosity and self-sacrifice, inevitably leads to hedonism, the escape into false utopias through drug use, sexual irresponsibility, the weakening of the marriage bond and the break-up of families, and the pressure to destroy innocent human life through abortion?"
To this country and to Africa as a whole, represented here by bishops and faithful who came from all the nearby countries, the pope's message was that of becoming "new" thanks to the faith. God, he said, has given us "his commandments, not as a burden, but as a source of freedom: the freedom to become men and women of wisdom, teachers of justice and peace, people who believe in others and seek their authentic good. God created us to live in the light, and to be light for the world around us!" The "gift" of the Gospel, he added, "affirm, purify and ennoble the profound human values present in your native culture and traditions: your strong families, your deep religious sense, your joyful celebration of the gift of life, your appreciation of the wisdom of the elderly and the aspirations of the young."
To the young people who are the majority of the population on this continent, and whom, yesterday, he had urged to have the courage to make definitive decisions, to take on a lifelong commitments, today he said they should "grow in your friendship with Jesus." "Seek his will for you by listening to his word daily, and by allowing his law to shape your lives and your relationships. In this way you will become wise and generous prophets of God’s saving love. Become evangelizers of your own peers, leading them by your own example to an appreciation of the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and the hope of a future shaped by the values of God’s Kingdom. The Church needs your witness! Do not be afraid to respond generously to God’s call, whether it be to serve him as a priest or a religious, as a Christian parent, or in the many forms of service to others which the Church sets before you."
The pope had already spoken about young people at the beginning of the Mass, when he expressed his sadness over the death of two young women yesterday at the stadium of Luanda and sent his wishes for a speedy recovery to the 40 young people injured in the stampede at the entrance to the stadium. "I wish to include in this Eucharist," he said, "a special prayer for the two young women who yesterday lost their lives at the stadium Dos Coqueiros. Let us entrust them," he continued, "to Jesus, that he may welcome them into his kingdom. To their relatives and friends I express my solidarity and my most profound condolences, in part because they were coming to see me. At the same time, I pray for those injured, and wish them a speedy recovery. Let us entrust ourselves," he concluded, "to the unfathomable designs of God."
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Someone may object: “Why not leave them in peace? They have their truth, and we have ours. Let us all try to live in peace, leaving everyone as they are, so they can best be themselves.” But if we are convinced and have come to experience that without Christ life lacks something, that something real – indeed, the most real thing of all – is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty to offer everyone this possibility of attaining eternal life.
Friday, March 20, 2009
I didn't see this interview when it was broadcast, some of my parishioners said they thought Joanna Bogle was indeed fierce, angry etc., etc. I am afraid that if I were her and not being listened to I would have just got up and walked out.
My question is why wasn't there a bishop speaking up to defend the Holy Father? Who is the bishop who is concerned with "Life" or "Third World" issues? Failing a bishop, why was there not some highly trained spokesman from the Catholic Media Office, or the Bishop's Conference, from Eccleston Square, or the Diocese of Westminster, or, or, or....?
Why is it that Auntie Joanna, pedals on her bike to the BBC, having got her notes together on her kitchen table, is the only person whoever defends the Pope and the Catholic Church. Is it that all the official organs we have actually are unwilling to do it? or do not hold Catholic doctrine? or they just incompetent?
I thank God for Joanna Bogle, I think I might start wearing a badge, "Joanna Bogle for Westminster", but she shouldn't have to do everything, unresourced by the Church.
A great deal of criticism has been poured out on Fr Lombardi and the Vatican Press Office, a great deal more should be directed at our own Media Office and the way in which our Bishops proclaim the Catholic Faith.
Surely we cannot depend on Joanna and the Pope to be the only communicators or defenders of Catholicism?
Isn't the prime function of the Church to communicate salvation? The lamentable way it has been doing it recently says something significant about where we see our priorities.
How sad we can't find someone to be to be interviewed by Jon Snow!
thanks to Patrick Madrid for the video
Thursday, March 19, 2009
At times one gets the impression that our society needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them – in this case the Pope – he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
His full speach is hear.
Dear Brothers, the Bishop and his priests are called to maintain relations of close communion, founded on the one priesthood of Christ in which they share, albeit in different degrees. The quality of the bond uniting you with the priests, your principal and irreplaceable co-workers, is of the greatest importance. If they see in their Bishop a father and a brother who loves them, listens to them and offers them comfort in their trials, who devotes particular attention to their human and material needs, they are encouraged to carry out their ministry whole-heartedly, worthily and fruitfully. The words and example of their Bishop have a key role in inspiring them to give their spiritual and sacramental life a central place in their ministry, spurring them on to discover and to live ever more deeply the particular role of the shepherd as, . The spiritual and sacramental life is an extraordinary treasure, given to us for ourselves and for the good of the people entrusted to us. I urge you, then, to be especially vigilant regarding the faithfulness of priests and consecrated persons to the commitments made at their ordination or entry into religious life, so that they persevere in their vocation, for the greater holiness of the Church and the glory of God. The authenticity of their witness requires that there be no dichotomy between what they teach and the way they live each day.
"I would say the opposite. I think that the reality that is most effective, the most present and the strongest in the fight against AIDS, is precisely that of the Catholic Church, with its programs and its diversity. I think of the Sant'Egidio Community, which does so much visibly and invisibly in the fight against AIDS ... and of all the sisters at the service of the sick.
"I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money -- which is important, but if there is no soul, no people who know how to use it, (money) doesn't help.
"One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.
"The solution can only be a double one: first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another; second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering. And these are factors that help and that result in real and visible progress.
"Therefore I would say this is our double strength -- to renew the human being from the inside, to give him spiritual human strength for proper behavior regarding one's own body and toward the other person, and the capacity to suffer with the suffering. ... I think this is the proper response and the church is doing this, and so it offers a great and important contribution. I thank all those who are doing this."
The pope's words reflected a statement he made to South African bishops in 2005, when he noted that the church is in the forefront in the treatment of AIDS and said the "only fail-safe way" to prevent its spread is found in the church's traditional teaching on sexual responsibility.
In saying that condom-promotion programs only increase the problem, the pope appeared to agree with those who have put forward several arguments: that condoms have a failure rate and so are never completely safe; that encouragement of condom use may promote promiscuity, a factor in the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; and that reliance on condom campaigns has overshadowed more effective means of prevention, namely fidelity and chastity.
There is another factor in the pope's thinking, according to an Italian theologian, Franciscan Father Maurizio Faggioni, who has advised the Vatican on sexual morality issues. The pope sees condom campaigns as a question of cultural violence, especially in Africa, where there has never been a "contraceptive mentality," Father Faggioni said.
The question of whether condom use in some circumstances may be morally acceptable is a separate and more difficult question, Father Faggioni told Catholic News Service.
Catholic News Service.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I come among you as a pastor, I come to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith. This was the role that Christ entrusted to Peter at the Last Supper, and it is the role of Peter’s successors. When Peter preached to the multitudes in Jerusalem at Pentecost, there were visitors from Africa present among them. And the witness of many great saints from this continent during the first centuries of Christianity – Saint Cyprian, Saint Monica, Saint Augustine, Saint Athanasius, to name but a few – guarantees a distinguished place for Africa in the annals of Church history. Right up to the present day, waves of missionaries and martyrs have continued to bear witness to Christ throughout Africa, and today the Church is blessed with almost a hundred and fifty million members. How fitting then, that Peter’s successor should come to Africa, to celebrate with you the life-giving faith in Christ that sustains and nourishes so many of the sons and daughters of this great continent!
Even amid the greatest suffering, the Christian message always brings hope. The life of Saint Josephine Bakhita offers a shining example of the transformation that an encounter with the living God can bring to a situation of great hardship and injustice. In the face of suffering or violence, poverty or hunger, corruption or abuse of power, a Christian can never remain silent. The saving message of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed loud and clear, so that the light of Christ can shine into the darkness of people’s lives. Here in Africa, as in so many parts of the world, countless men and women long to hear a word of hope and comfort. Regional conflicts leave thousands homeless or destitute, orphaned or widowed. In a continent which, in times past, saw so many of its people cruelly uprooted and traded overseas to work as slaves, today human trafficking, especially of defenseless women and children, has become a new form of slavery. At a time of global food shortages, financial turmoil, and disturbing patterns of climate change, Africa suffers disproportionately: more and more of her people are falling prey to hunger, poverty, and disease. They cry out for reconciliation, justice and peace, and that is what the Church offers them. Not new forms of economic or political oppression, but the glorious freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:21). Not the imposition of cultural models that ignore the rights of the unborn, but the pure healing water of the Gospel of life. Not bitter interethnic or interreligious rivalry, but the righteousness, peace and joy of God’s kingdom, so aptly described by Pope Paul VI as the civilization of love (cf. Regina Coeli Message, Pentecost Sunday, 1970).
Here in Cameroon, where over a quarter of the population is Catholic, the Church is well placed to carry forward her mission of healing and reconciliation. At the Cardinal Léger Centre, I shall observe for myself the pastoral solicitude of this local Church for the sick and the suffering; and it is particularly commendable that Aids sufferers are able to receive treatment free of charge in this country. Education is another key element of the Church’s ministry, and now we see the efforts of generations of missionary teachers bearing fruit in the work of the Catholic University for Central Africa, a sign of great hope for the future of the region.
Cameroon is truly a land of hope for many in Central Africa. Thousands of refugees from war-torn countries in the region have received a welcome here. It is a land of life, with a Government that speaks out in defense of the rights of the unborn. It is a land of peace: by resolving through dialogue the dispute over the Bakassi peninsula, Cameroon and Nigeria have shown the world that patient diplomacy can indeed bear fruit. It is a land of youth, blessed with a young population full of vitality and eager to build a more just and peaceful world. Rightly is it described as “Africa in miniature”, home to over two hundred different ethnic groups living in harmony with one another. These are all reasons for giving praise and thanks to God.
As I come among you today, I pray that the Church here and throughout Africa will continue to grow in holiness, in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace. I pray that the work of the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will fan into a flame the gifts that the Spirit has poured out upon the Church in Africa. I pray for each of you, for your families and loved ones, and I ask you to join me in praying for all the people of this vast continent. God bless Cameroon! And God bless Africa!
(Via Vatican Radio)
Via Vatican Radio
Monday, March 16, 2009
"The missionary dimension of a priest arises from his sacramental configuration to Christ the Head", said the Pope. This involves "total adherence to what ecclesial tradition has identified as 'apostolica vivendi forma', which consists in participation ... in that 'new way of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and which the Apostles made their own".
Benedict XVI highlighted the "indispensable struggle for moral perfection which must dwell in every truly priestly heart. In order to favour this tendency of priests towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends, I have", he said, "decided to call a special 'Year for Priests' which will run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010". This year marks "the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock".
"The ecclesial, communional, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable for any authentic mission, and this alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness", he said.
"The mission is 'ecclesial'", said the Pope, "because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.
"The mission is 'communional' because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. ... The 'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasise the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation".
Benedict XVI stressed the need to "have care for the formation of candidates to the priesthood", a formation that must maintain "communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance".
Priests must be "present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtues and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission".
"The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church. It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organisations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry".
Today I sent off a reference for someone applying for the secular priesthood, unfortunately not for my own diocese. Say a prayer for him, I think he will make an excellent priest.