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 News Briefs

NEWS BRIEFS Oct-29-2012

By Catholic News Service


Internal matters top agenda of bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Statements on preaching and ways that bishops can respond using new technologies to modern-day challenges to their teaching authority are among the items the U.S. bishops will consider when they gather in Baltimore for their annual fall assembly. Set for Nov. 12-15, the assembly also will consider a statement on work and the economy proposed by the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development as a way to raise the profile of growing poverty and the struggles that unemployed people are experiencing. The document on preaching that the bishops are to consider encourages preachers to connect the Sunday homily with people's daily lives. Titled "Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily," the document is the bishops' first substantive statement on preaching in 30 years, said Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. The bishops also will consider a proposed statement on opportunities to use new media -- including blogging and social media -- in exercising their teaching authority. The statement drafted by the Committee on Doctrine, "Contemporary Challenges for the Exercise of the Teaching Ministry of the Diocesan Bishop," has been distributed to the bishops and suggested amendments are being received, said Capuchin Franciscan Father Thomas G. Weinandy, executive director of the bishops' Secretariat for Doctrine. The text, like all of the proposed documents the bishops will consider, has not been made public. The statement complements a 1989 document on local bishops' doctrinal responsibilities setting forth guidelines for a bishop to follow when responding to comments, statements, books or other communication from a theologian that incorrectly portrays Catholic teaching, Father Weinandy told Catholic News Service. The statement on work and the economy, titled "Catholic Reflections on Work, Poverty and a Broken Economy," is expected to advance the bishops' priority of human life and dignity to demonstrate the new evangelization in action, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, explained during the bishops' June meeting in Atlanta.

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Bishops to consider new document on preaching at fall meeting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "My dad used to say, 'I know what happened 2,000 years ago. I need to know how to live my life today.'" These words, from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, get to the heart of a new proposed document on preaching to be considered by the U.S. bishops at the fall general meeting in November. The document, "Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily," encourages preachers to connect the Sunday homily with people's daily lives. Archbishop Carlson, as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, shepherded the writing of the document, which he said had reviews by eight other USCCB committees. "Everyone gets a chance to put their oar in the water. That's what makes it a better document," he told Catholic News Service in an Oct. 18 telephone interview from St. Louis. Although the full text of the proposed document has not yet been made public, an Oct. 10 USCCB press release highlighted excerpts from it. "The homily is intended to establish a 'dialogue' between the sacred biblical text and the Christian life of the hearer," the proposed document says. "Preachers should be aware, in an appropriate way, of what their people are watching on television, what kind of music they are listening to, which websites they find appealing, and which films they find compelling," it adds. "References to the most popular cultural expressions -- which at times can be surprisingly replete with religious motifs -- can be an effective way to engage the interest of those on the edge of faith." It has been 30 years since the bishops last addressed preaching, in a document called "Fulfilled in Your Hearing." Archbishop Carlson said the intent to write a new document first surfaced six years ago, although the work of drafting "Preaching the Mystery of Faith" took place over the past year and a half. New traction on the document came after Pope Benedict XVI issued the apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini" ("The Word of the Lord") two years ago, and "Preaching the Mystery of Faith," the archbishop said, is rooted in "Verbum Domini."

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Synod members propose ways to promote evangelization

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Members of the Synod of Bishops recommended the Vatican establish a commission to monitor religious freedom, develop guidelines for training evangelizers and ensure there is a church in every diocese where confession is always available. At the end of the three-week world Synod of Bishops on new evangelization, members of the gathering approved 58 propositions to give to the pope; although synod rules say the proposals are secret, Pope Benedict authorized their publication Oct. 27. The propositions were designed as recommendations for the pope to use in a post-synodal apostolic exhortation. Many of the propositions described current challenges and opportunities that the church faces in sharing the Gospel, strengthening the faith and reaching out to lapsed Catholics. Other propositions asked Pope Benedict or individual bishops to consider undertaking concrete projects, including: establishing a Vatican commission to monitor religious freedom around the world, denounce attacks on religious freedom and promote a broader understanding of its importance as a basic human right; developing a "pastoral plan of initial proclamation" that would outline steps to help ensure that once people hear the Gospel, they are led to conversion and faith and are educated in church teaching. It also should describe the "qualities and guidelines for the formation of Catholic evangelizers today"; and asking that every diocese establish a parish or shrine dedicated "in a permanent way" to the administration of the sacrament of penance, ensuring "priests are always present, allowing God's mercy to be experienced by all the faithful. As they did in the synod hall, synod members used several propositions to emphasize the importance of the family as the place where life and love are first given, where people are introduced to the faith and where they learn to live according to Gospel values.

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Pope to synod: Foster 'missionary dynamism' and 'pastoral creativity'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Winning converts to the church, ministering better to practicing Catholics and bringing lapsed members back into the fold are all parts of the multifaceted effort known as the "new evangelization," Pope Benedict XVI told a group of bishops and other church leaders from around the world. The pope made his remarks Oct. 28 during his homily at a Mass marking the end of the world Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization. The three-week gathering, which brought more than 260 bishops and religious superiors to the Vatican, along with dozens of official observers and experts, discussed how the church can revive and spread the faith in increasingly secular societies. Pope Benedict underscored "three pastoral themes" that he said had emerged from the talks. "Ordinary pastoral ministry ... must be more animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful," he said, stressing the importance of the sacrament of confession, and the necessity of "appropriate catechesis" in preparation for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist. The pope also called for a "new missionary dynamism" to "proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ." "There are still many regions in Africa, Asia and Oceania whose inhabitants await with lively expectation, sometimes without being fully aware of it, the first proclamation of the Gospel," the pope said. Finally, the pope spoke of the need to persuade lapsed Catholics, "especially in the most secular countries," to "encounter Jesus Christ anew, rediscover the joy of faith and return to religious practice in the community of the faithful."

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Church workers in Haiti, Cuba begin cleanup after Sandy

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) -- As Hurricane Sandy bore down on the U.S. Oct. 29, church workers in Haiti and Cuba began cleaning up after one of the worst storms to hit the Caribbean in years. Government officials raised the death toll across the islands to 65, the vast majority in Haiti, where widespread flooding devastated parts of the already impoverished country. "The whole south is under water," Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told the Associated Press. In addition to 51 dead, 12 people were still reported missing in the country. Crews from church agencies were working to assist some of the 17,800 people who were forced to flee to temporary shelters due to the storm. In Cuba, Caritas officials estimated some 100,000 homes were affected, including roughly 20,000 that were destroyed. Eastern Cuba was hit hardest, officials said. In Santiago de Cuba, the country's second-largest city, "there was not a block that did not suffer significant damage," Maritza Sanchez Abillud, director of Caritas Cuba, said in a written report. The storm damaged schools, health clinics, government buildings and some "90 percent of the churches and chapels, including the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity in the village of El Cobre," which the pope visited in March, Sanchez said. Cuban government officials said it was the worst storm to hit the island since 2005 when Hurricane Dennis caused more than $2 billion in damage.

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Regnum Christi charism not to be identified with founder, cardinal says

ROME (CNS) -- A new list of core principles defining the charism, or special gift, of the Regnum Christi movement requires a process of "clarification and, where needed, purification," not radical change from the past, said a spokesman for the Legionaries of Christ. The three-page final draft of principles shows "the fundamental characteristic of our spirituality is Christ-centeredness," Legionaries Father Benjamin Clariond told Catholic News Service Oct. 26. "The principles are not meant to introduce changes," he said in an email response to questions, but rather describe "elements which are essential to our service to the church and society." The papal delegate overseeing the Vatican-led reform of the Legionaries and its lay movement, Regnum Christi, said a charism is not meant to be identified with the person of the founder, "especially not with his or her holiness or sin." Pope Benedict XVI ordered the reform and reorganization of Regnum Christi and the Legionaries after revelations that their founder, the late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, had fathered children and sexually abused seminarians. Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the papal delegate overseeing the groups' reforms, approved the text of the Regnum Christi principles, which were posted on the order's website Oct. 21. In his letter to the order, the cardinal said the principles are meant to be "something like a 'general statute' or a 'fundamental norm,' or a 'rule' common to all the members of Regnum Christi, including the Legionaries." Pope Benedict had said that the results of a 2010 visitation of the order's religious houses and most of its pastoral institutions "made clear" the urgent need for an "in-depth revision of the institute's charism."

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Vatican says it is willing to be patient with SSPX in reconciliation bid

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- "Patience, serenity, perseverance and trust are needed" as the Vatican continues talks aimed at full reconciliation with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, said a statement from the Vatican commission overseeing the discussions. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," in a statement released Oct. 27, said the leadership of the SSPX had requested "additional time for reflection and study" before responding to Pope Benedict XVI's latest efforts to reintegrate them into the church. "A culminating point along this difficult path" was reached June 13 when the commission gave the SSPX a final "doctrinal declaration together with a proposal for the canonical normalization of its status within the Catholic Church," the statement said. The Vatican initially presented what it described as a "doctrinal preamble" to SSPX leaders in September 2011. While it never released the text, the Vatican had said it outlined "some doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity" to the formal teaching of the church, including the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. The SSPX gave the Vatican its response in April. The Vatican, in turn, gave the SSPX the doctrinal declaration to sign in June and also presented a proposal to establish for SSPX members a "personal prelature," which is a church jurisdiction without geographical boundaries. Currently, the church's only personal prelature is Opus Dei.

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Peruvian diocese, first in South America, celebrates 475 years

CUSCO, Peru (CNS) -- When Jose Venero Villafuerte was 5 years old, his mother took him to see the statue of Our Lord of the Earthquakes for the first time. "In this moment my path to God was opened," said Venero, now president of the Fraternity of the Our Lord of the Earthquakes. "I realized God existed." For the Mass celebrating the 475th anniversary of the Diocese of Cusco, Venero was in charge of the statue: dressing it, transporting it from the cathedral to the local coliseum, and decorating the truck. About 8,000 people attended the Mass, and even more watched as the statue was transported through the town afterward. Songs in Quechua and Spanish filled the massive coliseum Oct. 27 as people celebrated the church in Cusco, the first Catholic diocese in South America. About a dozen men dressed in colorful ponchos and hats blew into conch shells, and church bells rang. And local men called Pablitos, known for being disciplinarians, were invited to the Mass to keep order in the large crowd. Many came to the Mass to see Our Lord of the Earthquakes, the patron saint of Cusco. During an earthquake in 1650, the image was taken from the Cathedral of Santo Domingo into the streets, abruptly stopping the earthquake. Usually the image is only removed from the cathedral on Monday of Holy Week, but the anniversary celebrations merited its inclusion in the procession. After more than 300 years of devotion, smoke from candles and incense have colored the image black. Father Ernesto Cucho Dolmos, a history professor at the Seminary of San Antonio Abad in Cusco, said this makes the image more likeable and identifiable for the mestizo population of Cusco. The Mass closed a four-day International Marian eucharistic congress, the heart of the 475th anniversary celebration.

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Pope says faith and hope are foundation of migrants' journeys

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Migrants usually are forced to leave their countries because of poverty, hunger or violence, but faith and hope help them face their hardships and seek a better life elsewhere, Pope Benedict XVI said. The pope chose "Migrations: pilgrimage of faith and hope" as the theme for the 2013 celebration of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and issued a message that touched on many facets of what he called a "striking phenomenon" that raises "dramatic challenges." The Vatican released the message Oct. 29, on the heels of the three weeklong Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization, which brought together church leaders from around the world to discuss efforts to strengthen the faith of Catholics and bring lapsed Catholics back. "Faith and hope are inseparable in the hearts of many migrants, who deeply desire a better life and not infrequently try to leave behind the 'hopelessness' of an unpromising future," Pope Benedict wrote. The pope's message was introduced in a news conference at the Vatican by Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio and Bishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, respectively, president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers. Migration by its nature involves suffering the pain of uprooting and separation from family, country and possessions, the pope said, but faith and hope allow those who emigrate to face a difficult present if they can believe it will lead to a better future. They are not just seeking to improve their financial, social or political condition, the pope said. People who leave their native countries are hoping to "encounter acceptance, solidarity and help" from those in their new country who can recognize the values and resources they have to offer, he said.

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Pope gives Ratzinger Theology Prize to American, French scholars

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the 2012 Ratzinger Prize for Theology on an American expert on the early church fathers and a French scholar of religious philosophy. U.S. Jesuit Father Brian E. Daley and Remi Brague received the award from the pope at a ceremony in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace Oct. 20. Pope Benedict noted that the two men have studied in fields "decisive for the church in our times": ecumenism and relations with other religions. The scholars are "exemplary for the transmission of knowledge that unites science and wisdom, scientific rigor and passion for man, so that man might discover the 'art of living,'" the pope said. Father Daley, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, has written extensively about the development of Christian doctrine in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages. The pope commended his work for demonstrating the unity of Christianity, with favorable consequences for relations between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Brague, an authority on medieval Islamic and Jewish philosophy, is a professor of Arabic and religious philosophy at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.


Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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