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Vatican approves special Fatima feast day for the Traditional Latin Mass

VATICAN— The Vatican office which governs the use of the extraordinary form of the Roman rite has given priests permission to say a special Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Fatima this year, noting the importance of the apparition’s centenary.


In an April 5 decree the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei gave permission for any priest of the Latin Rite to celebrate a votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 13, 2017 – the 100th anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal.


The decision was made because “many of the Christian faithful who are attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite have a particular and fervent devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima” and out of a wish “to encourage the devotion of the faithful to the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima,” according to a translation of the decree made by Gregory DiPippo, editor of New Liturgical Movement.


The permission is significant because in the extraordinary form, May 13 is the third class feast of St. Robert Bellarmine – which means Our Lady of Fatima cannot normally be celebrated.


In the ordinary form, meanwhile, May 13 is already an optional memorial of Our Lady of Fatima.


If a Votive Mass of the Immaculate Heart is celebrated on May 13 in the extraordinary form, it may include a commemoration of St. Robert Bellarmine, as per the rubrics of the Roman Missal of 1962.


The Marian apparitions at Fatima are among the most famous of Mary’s appearances. On May 13, 1917, siblings Francisco and Jacinta Marto – age 9 and 7 – and their cousin, 10-year-old Lucia dos Santos, were taking their sheep to graze when they saw a figure of a woman dressed in white and holding a rosary.


After this first appearance, the Virgin Mary then appeared to the children on the 13th of every month from May until October. The message of the Fatima apparitions can be summarized primarily as a call to repentance and prayer.


Francisco and Jacinta died in 1919 and 1920, respectively, and were beatified in 2000. The path to their canonization was opened in March, when a second miracle attributed to their intercession was recognized by the Pope.


Lucia became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005. Her cause for beatification is open.


In 1930, the Church proclaimed the supernatural character of the apparitions and a shrine was erected at Fatima. It was visited by Blessed Paul VI in 1967, and later by St. John Paul II and by Benedict XVI.


St. John Paul II had a particularly strong devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. After a harrowing assassination attempt in 1981, he credited his survival to her miraculous intervention. As a sign of his gratitude, he placed the bullet from the failed assassination in her crown.


Pope Francis will make a pilgrimage to the Fatima shrine for the centenary of the apparition next month.


He will visit the chapel of the apparitions and bless candles there on May 12. The following day, he will say Mass in the square before the shrine and greet the sick. He is also scheduled to meet with Portugal’s bishops, president, and prime minister.









Vatican releases schedule for Pope's Fatima visit


(Vatican Radio)  The Vatican has released the schedule of Pope Francis' Apostolic Journey to Fatima in Portugal, due to take place on 12-13 May.

The Holy Father will arrive on Saturday by plane at the Monte Real air base in the afternoon, where he will be welcomed by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

He will then travel by helicopter to the Stadium of Fatima before travelling by car to the Fatima Shrine. Whilst there, the Pope will pray at the Chapel of the Apparitions, greet pilgrims present, and recite the Holy Rosary with them.

On Sunday, Pope Francis will meet with Prime Minister António Costa at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House. Afterwards, he will travel to the Basilica of “Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fatima” to celebrate Holy Mass.

His final stop is a lunch with the bishops of Portugal at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House. Pope Francis will then return to Rome via Rome's Ciampino Airport.

The full schedule of the Pope's visit is below:

Friday 12 May 2017

14:00     Departure by air from Rome Fiumicino airport for Monte Real.

16:20     Arrival at the air base of Monte Real:  Welcome ceremony.

16:35     Private meeting with the President of the Republic in the Monte Real air base.

16:55     Visit to the air base chapel.

17:15     Transfer by helicopter to the stadium of Fatima.

17:35     Arrival at the Fatima stadium and transfer by open vehicle to the Shrine.

18:15     Visit to the Chapel of the Apparitions:  Prayer of the Holy Father.

21:30     Blessing of the Candles from the Chapel of the Apparitions:  Greetings from the Holy Father & Recital of the Holy Rosary.

Saturday 13 May 2017

09:10     Meeting with the Prime Minister at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House.

09:40     Visit to the Basilica of “Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fatima”.

10:00     Holy Mass at the churchyard of the Shrine:  Holy Father’s homily & Holy Father’s greetings to the sick.

12:30     Lunch with bishops of Portugal at the “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” House.

14:45     Farewell ceremony in the Monte Real air base.

15:00     Departure by air from the Monte Real air base, destined for Rome.

19:05     Arrival at Rome Ciampino airport.

(Devin Sean Watkins)



    Three Ways to Obtain an Indulgence During 100th Anniversary of Fatima

    Pope Francis has granted the opportunity throughout the entire jubilee year.

    Article main image

    FATIMA, Portugal — For the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Pope Francis has decided to grant a plenary indulgence opportunity throughout the entire anniversary year, which began Nov. 27, 2016, and will end Nov. 26, 2017.

    The rector of the Fatima Shrine in Portugal, André Pereira, explained to CNA that the plenary indulgence can be obtained during the entire jubilee year. There are three ways of obtaining the indulgence, detailed in a statement on the shrine’s website.

    To obtain the plenary indulgence, the faithful must also fulfill the ordinary conditions: Go to confession and Communion, be interiorly detached from sin, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

    1. Pilgrimage to the shrine

    The first way is for “the faithful to make a pilgrimage to the Fatima Shrine in Portugal and participate in a celebration or prayer dedicated to the Virgin.”

    In addition, the faithful must pray the Our Father, recite the Creed and invoke the Mother of God.

    2. Prayer before any statue of Our Lady of Fatima

    The second way applies to “the pious faithful who visit with devotion a statue of Our Lady of Fatima solemnly exposed for public veneration in any church, oratory or proper place during the days of the anniversary of the apparitions, the 13th of each month from May to October (2017), and there devoutly participate in some celebration or prayer in honor of the Virgin Mary.”

    Regarding this second way, the rector of the Fatima Shrine told CNA that the visit to the statue of the Virgin “does not necessarily have to be only at Fatima or exclusively in Portugal,” but can be done anywhere in the world.

    Those seeking an indulgence must also pray an Our Father, recite the Creed and invoke Our Lady of Fatima.

    3. Application for the elderly and infirm

    The third way to obtain a plenary indulgence applies to people who, because of age, illness or other serious cause, are unable to get around well.

    These individuals can pray in front of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and must spiritually unite themselves to the jubilee celebrations on the days of the apparitions, the 13th of each month, between May and October 2017.

    They also must “offer to merciful God with confidence, through Mary, their prayers and sufferings or the sacrifices they make in their own lives.






    MANILA, PHILIPPINES, January 16 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Mercedes Arrastia Tuason, the Philippines' ambassador to the Holy See, told CNA's Antonio Gonsalves in a Jan. 15 interview she expects Pope Francis' visit this week to her nation “will make a huge impact on the Filipino people,” and explained why Pope Francis is known there as “Lolo Kiko.”

    The full text of the interview follows.

    CNA: How important is Pope Francis' apostolic visit to the Philippines in bolstering the ethical, moral, and inspiring traditions of faith in the region?

    Tuason: The visit of Pope Francis will be a major, historic event in the Philippines. His presence is certainly a much needed booster shot that will make a huge impact on the Filipino people. It will touch their spirits in a deeply profound way. In a way, we have become calloused and have lost the sense of what is a serious offense against moral principles, and in part the country is besieged with confusion regarding faith and moral values, in discerning what is right and wrong.
    Sparked by the enthusiasm surrounding his arrival, we expect to see a renewal of faith, bolstering ethical and moral traditions in the region. However true, our Holy Father asks us not focus on him, but rather to shift our focus to Jesus Christ and the life that he leads.
    There is a great fervor, with January 15, 16 and 19 declared to be special non-working holidays for Metro Manila during the visit of Pope Francis.

    CNA: How does Pope Francis connect to the world, and especially to Filipinos?

    Tuason: The simplicity, humility and compassion of Pope Francis gives him an immediate nearness to people, and so he is able to connect in a very personal manner to everyone. By his manner of being, he gives us an example of how we, the laity and the rest of the ecclesial community, can go to the peripheries to bring the Gospel. This has been his incessant message right from the very beginning of his pontificate. “Mercy and Compassion” is the core of his message, which reflects in the theme logo that highlights Pope Francis' visit to the Philippines.
    I am truly grateful, and so are the rest of the Filipino people, for the pastoral care and concern that Pope Francis showed to the Philippines during the natural calamities which beset the country in past years, namely the earthquake in Bohol and Cebu, Typhoon Haiyan which hit Tacloban and other islands of the Visayas, and recently Typhoon Hagupit.
    We never felt alone during these difficult moments since we knew that Pope Francis was praying for us and was asking the whole Church to pray for and help the Philippines.

    CNA: What is the basis of Filipinos fondly calling Pope Francis - “Lolo Kiko"?

    Tuason: On a personal basis, let me tell you an anecdote which clearly illustrates Pope Francis’ charism of connecting with people. In a private audience with a group of Filipinos, he said: "I like the way the Filipinos take care of their elderly. You keep them in your homes and you take care of them yourselves. You call them 'lolo' (which comes from the Spanish term "abuelo" or grandfather." Someone in the group said: "In the Philippines, we call those whose name is Francesco -- Kiko." Pope laughed and said: "And so I am Lolo Kiko." From that moment on, Pope Francis to us is “Lolo Kiko,” for in the native Tagalog language the word “lolo” means grandfather, and “Kiko,” a nickname for Filipinos named Francisco.

    CNA: How do you foresee this visit boosting religious devotions in the family apostolate and invigorating religious vocations?

    Tuason: Certainly, even the young are enthused to go to the churches and rediscover their faith. Seminarians too have borne witness that Pope Francis has inspired them to deepen and strengthen their beliefs and vocations. Devotion, most especially to our Mother Mama Mary, has increased and pilgrimage sites have proliferated.
    Today many are inspired to re-examine their consciences and re-direct their lives thanks to Pope Francis' pastoral approach and his advocating for reaching out to the peripheries.
    However, vocation is an answer to God's call in helping him spread his love and mercy. The Pope can certainly inspire more vocations for the Church, however the quality and sustainability of a vocation rests not solely on the Pope's shoulders, but rather those of the entire community.
    We must encourage our priests and strongly support the work that they do, pray for more vocations as a community, and speak about vocations in schools and our homes so that it comes to the fore of our minds.

    CNA: Pope Francis' kindness and his pastoral approach of reaching out to the peripheries, to the marginalized, has been at his heart of his teaching. During this apostolic visit to Philippines he has stressed his priority of solidarity and compassion in meeting his flock, especially those suffering from natural calamities.

    Tuason: As I said before, the Filipinos are looking forward to the visit of the Holy Father Pope Francis whom Filipinos fondly call “Lolo Kiko.”
    The Pope is not only the supreme pontiff on earth, rather he symbolizes hope itself. For people who have been devastated by natural calamities, the Pope will undoubtedly be able to console them and give them peace and bring a new ray of hope and spiritual bliss. Also, in one of message after Typhoon Haiyan hit the country, the Holy Father encouraged the Filipino population not to fear, but rather to ask God a question, “Why, Why,” like children. We do not even need an answer, but we ask “Why” to attract the attention of the Father. Today, Filipinos will remain most grateful for this visit and this particular attention from our Holy Father.

    CNA: Pope Francis will be also meeting religious leaders at the University of Santo Tomas. How do you think this dialogue could serve to promote peace in the pocket areas of Philippines?

    Tuason: Indeed, we are all hoping for a new era of peace. We are all praying too for the Fifth Marian Dogma to be proclaimed at this most crucial time in our history, that we may be spared from degeneration, further disaster, and war.
    Pope Francis' visit is going to be earth–shattering in many ways, but it is not a cure-all. The problems of the region are deeply rooted in Asia’s culture, if not mankind's nature itself – greed, corruption, poverty of the mind and the spirit. We do not expect the Pope’s visit to solve all these, but his presence alone will certainly make a positive impact with long lasting effects for generations to come.


    MANILA, PHILIPPINES, January 16 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Remarking on Pope Francis' strong words against the threats which “ideological colonization” poses to the family, the Vatican's spokesman told journalists Friday that same-sex marriage falls within this category.

    In an  address to more than 1,000 Filipino families in Manila on Jan. 16, Pope Francis decried the “new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family.”

    The Pope also warned against increasing efforts “to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.”

    The Holy Father made similar statements in defense of marriage earlier in the day, as he said Mass in Manila's cathedral: “Proclaim the beauty and truth of the Christian message to a society which is tempted by confusing presentations of sexuality, marriage and the family.”

    He then warned the faithful against “powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.”

    The Jan. 16 Mass in Manila's Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, followed by the encounter families in Manila's main sports arena, were among the key events on the agenda of Pope Francis' tour of Sri Lanka and the Philippines, which runs Jan. 12-19.

    During a press briefing later that evening the head of the Holy See press office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, confirmed to  journalists that this “colonization” of which Pope Francis spoke refers in part to gay marriage.

    “I think that it is well-known that the perspective of the Church about the family is that the family is based on the union of the marriage of a man and a woman.”

    For Catholics, the family is “the union of the man and the woman, and the children that come from this union,” the spokesman added. “If there are persons that desire to have community in other ways… this is not for us a family.”

    Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, who was on the panel at the press briefing, cited concerns raised during last October's Synod on the Family by bishops and laypeople, particularly from Africa, about the attempt to use foreign aid to impose Western views of marriage and sexuality.

    According to these bishops, foreign aid is “oftentimes is linked to some measures that the receiving country is somehow forced to accept,” the cardinal said.  “Some of the conditions for the aid seem to be an acceptance or a welcoming of some views regarding marriage, or sexuality, or what, which could be alien to the vision of the receiving country or culture.”

    Citing Pope Francis' statement listing the “lack of openness to life” as one of the threats against the family, Cardinal  Tagle addressed the Church's efforts with regard to the Philippines' recent legislation on contraception.

    Signed in 2013 by the Philippine's president Benigno Aquino, the reproductive health law requires government-sanctioned sex education for adults, middle school and high school students.

    The law also requires fully subsidized contraceptives under government health insurance. The Filipino bishops have been vocal opponents of the law.  

    “We will continue preaching what the Church teaches,” Cardinal Tagle told journalists. “With or without the law, we continue our mission.”

    The cardinal added that the criteria applied to contraception could carry through in addressing the problem of divorced and remarried Catholics during this year's Synod of Bishops on the Family.

    There was widespread media attention during last year's Synod on the Family, a precursor to the upcoming gathering this year on the same theme, regarding the pastoral care for divorced and remarried couples.

    Much of the speculation centered on whether civilly remarried couples  could be admitted to Communion without having received an annulment.

    The cardinal noted that during last October's gathering, which dealt with a broad range of issues relating to the family, the bishops “were given a wider picture of the various cases, particular contexts, of marriage”.

    Looking at the pastoral response in the context  of Church teaching, Cardinal Tagle added that, in this year's Synod  on the family, the Church's approach to contraception “can be carried through to other concerns or other questions regarding the family.”


    MANILA, PHILIPPINES, January 16 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis took the opportunity during an address to families in the Philippines to praise Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical opposing contraception and affirming Church teaching on sexuality and human life.

    The Pope spoke Friday to families gathered at the Mall of Asia Arena in Manila during his Jan. 15-19 visit to the Philippines.

    After discussing various threats to the family, including “a lack of openness to life,” he deviated briefly from his prepared remarks, transitioning from English to his native Spanish in order to speak from the heart about the subject.

    “I think of Blessed Paul VI,” he said. “In a moment of that challenge of the growth of populations, he had the strength to defend openness to life.”

    In 1968, Pope Paul VI released the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which upheld Catholic teaching on sexuality and the immorality of artificial contraception, predicting the negative consequences that would result from a cultural acceptance of birth control.

    “He knew the difficulties that families experience, and that’s why in his encyclical, he expressed compassion for particular cases. And he taught professors to be particularly compassionate with particular cases,” Pope Francis said.

    “But he went further. He looked to the peoples beyond. He saw the lack and the problem that it could cause families in the future. Paul VI was courageous. He was a good pastor, and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching, and from the heavens he blesses us today.”

    Pope Francis’ comments come in the wake of Philippines president Benigno Aquino's signing a highly controversial reproductive health bill in 2013 that drew strong protest from local bishops and members of the faith.

    The legislation requires government-sanctioned sex education for adults, middle school and high school students, as well as a population control program that includes fully subsidized contraceptives under government health insurance. The nation's bishops spoke out strongly against the measure.

    Elsewhere in Pope Francis’ address, he spoke about the threats to family posed by natural disasters, poverty, migration, and a redefinition of marriage.

    He called for “good and strong families to overcome these threats.”

    “Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death,” he urged.

    The Pope encouraged regular family prayer to hear and understand the will of God, as well as action to be prophetic witnesses in the world.

    He deviated from the text of his remarks on several other occasions as well, speaking about his love for St. Joseph and the importance of dreaming within a family.

    “When you lose this capacity to dream, you lose the capacity to love, and this energy to love is lost,” he said.

    In addition, Pope Francis warned against an “ideological colonization” that does not originate with God, but that tries to destroy the family.

    The Pope asked Christians to pray to St. Joseph for the wisdom to identify and reject ideas and initiatives that are driven by these false ideologies and threaten the family.


    Pope's Meeting with Clergy and Religious in Palo


    "By your presence and your charity, you bore witness to the beauty and truth of the Gospel."

    MANILA, January 17, 2015 ( - The following are the brief remarks given by Pope Francis to the clergy and religious at the Cathedral of Palo. The Holy Father, who was originally scheduled to meet with them, had to return immediately following Mass this morning due to an oncoming tropical storm.

    Also included is the prepared address the Holy Father was set to deliver which was released by the Holy See Press Office.


    * * *


    Thank you for your very warm welcome. The cardinal walking in now together with Cardinal Tagle is the Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, and it is his birthday.  Will you sing him something?

    [Crowd sings birthday greetings] Thank you.

    I have to tell you something that makes me unhappy: the problem is that the way things were planned was that the plane would leave at 5pm this afternoon. But there’s a second grade typhoon, or storm that’s around us and the pilot of the plane has insisted we have to leave at 1pm. We just have time to get to the plane because the weather forecast says after 1pm it will get much worse. So I apologise to all of you.

    I am so sorry about this because I had something especially prepared for you. Let us leave everything in the hands of Our Lady because I have to go now. Do you know what the problem is? Airplanes can’t land here, that’s the problem.

    Let’s pray the “Hail Mary” together and then I will give you my blessing.

    [Courtesy of Vatican Radio]


    --- --- ---


    Prepared Address:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    I greet all of you with great affection in the Lord. I am happy that we are able to meet in this Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord. This house of prayer, along with many others, has been repaired thanks to the remarkable generosity of many people. It stands as an eloquent sign of the immense effort of rebuilding which you and your neighbors have undertaken in the wake of the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda. It is also a concrete reminder to all of us that, even amid disaster and suffering, our God is constantly at work, making all things new.

    Many of you have suffered greatly, not only from the destruction caused by the storm, but from the loss of family members and friends. Today let us commend to God’s mercy all those who have died, and invoke his consolation and peace upon all who still grieve. May we remember in a particular way those among us whose pain makes it hard to see the way forward. At the same time, let us thank the Lord for all those who have labored in these months to clear away the rubble, to visit the sick and dying, to comfort the grieving and to bury the dead. Their goodness, and the generous aid which came from so many people throughout the world, are a real sign that God never abandons us!

    Here, in a special way, I would like to thank the many priests and religious who responded with such overwhelming generosity to the desperate needs of the people of the areas hardest hit. By your presence and your charity, you bore witness to the beauty and truth of the Gospel. You made the Church present as a source of hope, healing and mercy. Together with so many of your neighbors, you also demonstrated the deep faith and the resilience of the Filipino people. The many stories of goodness and self-sacrifice which emerged from these dark days need to be remembered and passed down for future generations.

    A few moments ago, I blessed the new Center for the Poor, which stands as another sign of the Church’s care and concern for our brothers and sisters in need. How many they are! And how much our Lord loves them! Today, from this place which has known such profound suffering and human need, I ask that even more be done for the poor. Above all, I ask that the poor throughout this country be treated fairly – that their dignity be respected, that political and economic policies be just and inclusive, that opportunities for employment and education be developed, and that obstacles to the delivery of social services be removed. Our treatment of the poor is the criterion on which each of us will be judged (cf. Mt 25:40, 45). I ask all of you, and all responsible for the good of society, to renew your commitment to social justice and the betterment of the poor, both here and in the Philippines as a whole.

    Finally, I would like to say a word of sincere thanks to the young people present, including the seminarians and young religious. Many of you showed heroic generosity in the aftermath of the typhoon. I hope that you will always realize that true happiness comes from helping others, giving ourselves to them in self-sacrifice, mercy and compassion. In this way you will be a powerful force for the renewal of society, not only in the work of restoring buildings but more importantly, in building up God’s kingdom of holiness, justice and peace in your native land.

    Dear priests and religious, dear families and friends, in this Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Lord let us ask that our lives continue to be sustained and transfigured by the power of his resurrection. I commend all of you to the loving protection of Mary, Mother of the Church. May she obtain for you, and for all the beloved people of these lands, the Lord’s blessings of comfort, joy and peace. God bless you all!




    Archbishop's Words of Thanks to Pope in Tacloban


    "The suffering of our people defied imagination. Yet in the midst of pain and suffering it was our Christian faith that helped us through"

    MANILA, January 17, 2015 ( - Here are words of thanks given by Archbishop John F. Du at the end of a Mass celebrated today by Pope Francis in Tacloban, site of the 2013 typhoon.


    * * *


    Praised be Jesus Christ!

    Most Holy Father, I would never have imagined that I would be able to say these words in this very place, in front of Your Holiness and in the presence of so many pilgrims. We are on Yolanda “ground zero”. In this very place where we are standing, on that fateful day of November 8, 2013 aside from the more than 300 kilometers per hour of howling winds, storm surges of over six meters in height crushed over the place destroying thousands of homes and killing an innumerable number of people. Many bodies were even washed ashore to the other side of the city across the Cancabato Bay. The suffering of our people defied imagination. Yet in the midst of pain and suffering it was our Christian faith that helped us through. The prayers, solidarity and the material help from many people from all over the world that came the following days boosted our drooping spirits and inspired us to move on.

    And this is why your presence here inspires me to give praise to God, who, out of untold catastrophe has gifted us with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come as one with you in joyful thanksgiving. Our deep appreciation for your presence here in the Archdiocese of Palo can hardly be expressed with words. Let our unity then, on this blessed day, in this hallowed place, be the supreme manifestation of a faith that inspires one to thank God and to rejoice always even amidst trials and tribulations (cf. Rom 5:3-5).

    We are deeply filled with joy and consolation that you have celebrated this Eucharist with us- this great act of thanksgiving to God which is a constant source of strength and fount of hope in our Christian life. We know that you have been with us all this time, and your coming here culminates the great outpouring of spiritual and material assistance from the Church for us.

    Your Holiness, you have come to us with a father’s compassion and loving concern, and thus have brought us to God the Father of All. You have also come as a shepherd of the Lord’s flock and thus have brought us closer to the Good Shepherd Himself. Your visit strengthens and consoles us; may your humble presence among the poor and among us who have suffered the tragedy of the Super Typhoon ever lead us to the restful waters of God’s mercy and love. We will always be grateful! For indeed, as the Psalmist says “…the Lord will not abandon His People, nor will He forsake His inheritance” (Ps. 94:14).

    Blessed be God forever!



    Pope's Homily at Site of Typhoon Yolanda


    "So many of you have lost everything. I don't know what to say to you. But the Lord does know what to say to you"

    MANILA, January 17, 2015 ( - Here is a transcription of the simultaneous translation offered by Pope Francis' translator for the homily the Pope improvised in Spanish at a Mass celebrated today in Tacloban, the site devastated 14 months ago by Typhoon Yolanda.


    * * *


    [In English]: If you allow me, I prefer today to speak in Spanish. I have a translator, a good translator. May I do this? May I? [Applause] Thank you very much.

    [Simultaneous translation:]

    The first reading that we heard says that we have a high priest who is capable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, one who has similarly been tested in every way but without sin. Jesus is like us. Jesus lived like us. He is the same as us in every respect, except sin. 

    Because he was not a sinner, but to be more like us, he assumed our condition and our sin. He made himself unto sin. This is what St. Paul tells us. And Jesus always goes before us. And when we pass and experience a cross, he passed there before us. And if today we find ourselves 14 months afterward here, 14 months precisely after the typhoon Yolanda hit,  it is because we have the security of knowing that we’re not going to weaken in our faith because Jesus has been there before us. [applause] In his passion, he assumed all our pain. 

    I’d like to tell you something close to my heart. When I saw, from Rome, that catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here. [applause]

    And on those very days, I decided to come here [applause].

    I am here to be with you. A little bit late, I have to say, but I’m here [applause].

    I have come to tell you that Jesus is Lord, that he never lets us down. "Father," you might say to me, "I was let down because I’ve lost so many things, I lost my house, my livelihood, my family. I’ve illness." It’s true if you would say that. And I respect those sentiments. But Jesus there nailed to the cross [indicating the crucifix]. And from there, he does not let us down. [applause]

    He was consecrated as Lord on that throne and there he experienced all calamities that we experience. Jesus is Lord. And he is Lord from the cross. He is there for you. Therefore he is capable of understanding us, as we heard in the first reading. In everything, the same as us. That is why we have a Lord who is capable of crying with us, capable of walking with us in the most difficult moments of life.

    So many of you have lost everything. I don’t know what to say to you. But the Lord does know what to say to you. Some of you lost part of your families. All I can do is keep silence. And I walk with you all with my silent heart.

    Many of you have asked the Lord, "Why Lord?" And to each of you, to your heart, Christ responds from his heart upon the cross. 

    I have no more words to tell you. Let us look to Christ. He is the Lord. And he understands us because he underwent all the trials that we, that you have experienced. 

    And beside the cross was his mother. We are like this little child just there, who in moments when we have so much pain, when we no longer understand anything, all we can do is grab hold of her hand firmly, and say, Mom, as a child does to his mother when he or she feels fear. It is perhaps the only word that we can say in such difficult times: Mother, Mom.

    Let us together hold a moment of silence. Let us look to Christ on the cross. He understands us because he endured everything. And let us look to our mother, and like that little child, let us grab hold of her mantle, and with a true heart, say Mother. In silence, let us say this prayer. Say to the mother what you feel in your hearts.


    We are not alone. Let us know that we have a mother Mary and our great brother, Jesus. We are not alone. And we also have many brothers who in this moment of catastrophe came to help you. And we too, because of this, we feel more brothers and sisters because we helped each other. 

    This is what comes from my heart and forgive me if I have no other words to express this. 

    But please know Jesus never lets you down. Please know that the love and tenderness of Mother Mary never lets you down. And holding on to her mantle and with the power that comes from Jesus’ love on the cross, let us move forward, always forward. And walk together as brothers and sisters in the Lord, forward. 


    [In English:] Thank you very much.

    [After Communion, the Pope added a prayer in Spanish. Here is the simultaneous translation provided by his translator:]

    We have just celebrated the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. Jesus preceded us. He went there before us on the journey. And he accompanies us every time we come together to pray and celebrate. Thank you Lord for being today with us. Thank you Lord for sharing in our pain. Thank you Lord for giving us hope. Thank you Lord for your great mercy. Thank you Lord because you wished to be like one of us. Thank you Lord because you are always near to us even in the moments of the cross. Thank you Lord for giving us hope. Lord, may hope never be robbed from us, taken away from us. Thank you Lord because in the moments of greatest darkness in your life, on the cross, you remembered us and you left us a mother, your mother. Thank you Lord for not leaving us as orphans



    Filipino Prisoners Ask Pope Francis to Visit Them
    Hope Pontiff Will Stop by New Bilibid Prison During January 2015 Visit

    By Staff Reporter


    ROME, October 23, 2014 ( - Excitement continues to build in the Philippines for Pope Francis’ upcoming trip. While an official itinerary of the Pope’s visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January 2015 has not been released yet, a group of prisoners are hoping that he will visit them.

    A letter was sent on September 26th to Pope Francis through Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, from the inmates of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

    Located roughly 15 miles south of Manila, it is the main penitentiary in the Philippines, housing almost 20,000 inmates. The prisoners expressed their hope that the Holy Father would make a stop there.

    “We hope and pray that as you continue God’s mission of loving all His children and inspiring them, you will give us a few minutes of your most precious time during your visit here in January 2015,” the letter stated.

    “It will be a great blessing for us to have Christ’s disciple and our Father here in our midst, to give us and many other prisoners strength and unwavering hope in God’s love and forgiveness.”

    Throughout his pontificate, the Holy Father has called attention to the most marginalized in society, especially those imprisoned. During his July 5th visit to Molise, Pope Francis visited a detention center where he stressed the need for reform and rehabilitation for inmates.

    “To walk the way of rehabilitation, this is something we all need to do. All. We all make mistakes in life. And all of us must ask forgiveness for these mistakes and make a journey of rehabilitation, to not make any more,” he said.

    “Some do this at home, at their workplace; others, like you, in a prison. But all, all … anyone who says he does not need this way of rehabilitation is a liar! We all make mistakes in life, and also, all are sinners.”


    Free Marian Consecration Event Set in Cubao

    QUEZON City, Oct. 22, 2014—Marian organizations, communities, movements, groups, and individuals, both lay and religious, are invited to take part in the upcoming formation on “Living Our Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” on Nov. 8 at the Diocese of Cubao’s Chancery Building.


    To be held from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., “The New Era: Glorious Reign of Christ The King” seminar will be facilitated by Fr. Romerico “Omer” Prieto at the 3rd Floor of Diocese of Cubao’s Chancery Building, Lantana Street, Cubao, Quezon City, across the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.



    The Filipino faith has always been marked by a strong Marian devotion. (Photo: CBCP News)



    Participants intending to come in groups are requested to inform event organizers before Nov. 3 in order to help them determine the exact number of materials needed.


    Besides being a member of the Cubao diocese’s pastoral team and the parish priest of the Holy Family Parish, Prieto is committed to guiding various Marian groups in the Philippines in living their Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by holding regular formation for the religious and lay faithful, and cenacles.


    He also does mission work for the Blessed Virgin overseas, giving Marian talks and retreats to both priests and the laity upon the invitation of various lay groups and bishops of the dioceses in the region.


    Prieto regularly facilitates a weekly cenacle on radio through his program entitled “Yes, Father”, aired every Thursday at 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on DWAD 1098.


    The priest is also heard over Church-run Radyo Veritas 648 as a regular guest of the program “Alay Kay Inang Maria” (“An Offering to Our Mother Mary”) every second Wednesday of the month, at 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.


    For attendance confirmation and inquiries, interested parties may contact (+63)916-4350-392 or (02) 505-7825, or email at

    (Raymond A. Sebastián)



    Cardinal Gerhard Müller Reflects on the Synod on the Family
    Participates in Round Table Discussion on Two Week Meeting at Regina Apostolorum

    By Massimo Nardi


    ROME, October 22, 2014 ( - The first phase of the Synod has ended and now its the time for Post-Synodal reflections, to which is entrusted the task of translating, in the living fabric of the community of the faithful, the many issues that arose during the two week meeting.

    A testimony of the fruitfulness of ideas that emerged at the Synod was given in the course of the round table discussion: “The Hope of the Family – The Synod and Beyond,” held on October 21, 2014 at the European University of Rome (UER), in the within the meetings organized by the “John Paul II Cultural Circles.”

    The round table discussion was introduced by Antonio Gaspari, Editor-in-Chief of ZENIT News Agency, who, after the open greeting, presented the panel: Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Bishop Luigi Negri, President of the John Paul II International Foundation for the Magisterium of the Church; Monsignor Livio Melina, President of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family, and Costanza Miriano, journalist and writer.

    Gaspari explained that the framework of the conference is Cardinal Müller's book entitled “The Hope of the Family,” published by Ares Editions. The conference was also an opportunity to clear the misunderstandings and provocations that surrounded the work of the Synod.

    “One of the central points of the text is the subject of Faith. We live in an age of secularization and incredulity, which have weakened the sacramental perception,” Cardinal Müller explained. The German prelate cited several papal texts, including Pope Francis’ encyclical “Lumen Fidei,” dedicated to the subject of Faith, and the Pastoral Constitution, and  “Gaudium et Spes,” one of the most important documents of the Second Vatican Council that addresses the subject of the dignity of matrimony and of the family.

    Cardinal Müller quoted a passage from the preface of his book written by Cardinal Fernando Sebastian, which states:  “In the Sacrament of Matrimony the Christian faithful, man and woman celebrate, with the Church, faith in the love of God present and operating in them as members of the Church and collaborators of God  for the multiplication of humanity and of the Church of salvation.”

    “This book is a contribution to rediscover the beauty of Christian matrimony,” concluded Cardinal Müller.

    Father Jesus Villagrasa, L.C., Rector of the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, greeted the public and the reporters briefly and then gave the floor again to the experts.

    Journalist Costanza Miriano began with an affirmation connected with her experience as a mother and her Catholic belief: “Mercy is all right for the divorced, but it must also be given to the children. There is little talk of them, but they are the first victims when the parents go their seperate ways,” she said.

    The journalist then explained that her activity leads her to meet many families, and this has reinforced her conviction that “Christian morality is not comparable to bourgeois morality.” The latter constructs its “catecheses” based on television and film models: models that generate disappointment. “True love is founded on Christ and the ‘literacy’ of love belongs only to the Church.”

    In thanking Cardinal Müller for his book and for the courage he demonstrated in it, Monsignor Livio Melina recalled a concept of Blessed Paul VI: the Church does not invent her doctrine but is its interpreter and custodian. To one who solicits a review of the cornerstones of the Faith to render it adaptable to our times, the Church can only answer: “Non possumus!”, We cannot! – confirmed Monsignor Melina.

    “Cardinal Müller”, he continued, “argues the inalienable bond between truth and practice. Doctrine would become abstract and practice arbitrary if the Church did ‘end of the season discounts,’”. Mercy cannot be an instrument to resolve contingent difficulties: parents are concerned with educating, even if at times they are constrained to say things that seem, at times, disagreeable to the children.

    The Synodal journey will last yet a year, and Cardinal Müller will be “a certified compass not to get lost in weak thinking,” concluded Monsignor Melina.

    Monsignor Luigi Negri expressed his gratitude to Cardinal Müller for the book “The Hope of the Family” which he described as “thought-provoking and purposeful for the future.”

    “The crisis of our time coincides with the crisis of the family, which expresses the crisis of modern man: the relentless fragmentation of life in a context of conflicting opinions. Man’s commitment against his instinct fails; reality is reduced to a series of manipulated objects according to rules of a technological character, while the sense of mystery disappears,” explained Monsignor Negri.

    The prelate quoted philosopher Jacques Maritain , according to whom “modernity is the unmotivated and ideological struggle between reason and mystery.” Monsignor Negri continued, affirming that the “new” today is based on a concept that has already failed, on an anthropological revolution that, having demonstrated its inconsistency, cannot be assumed as an instrument of innovation. In Cardinal Müller’s book, the experience of marraige is instead based on human love and  on the “gratuitousness” and not on “convenience”.

    ‘The seed of new life must be educated on the basis of Faith according to God’s thought, not on that of the world. The future is ours in the measure in which we are capable of reading the Christian vocation in its profoundness,” concluded Monsignor Negri.

    The panels’ interventions were welcomed with applause from the participants who crowded the Great Hall of the University.

    In his cclosing remarks, the Rector of the UER, Father Luca Gallizia, L.C., expressed special gratitude for this occasion of reflection:  “A reflection that will continue the whole year, while our first task continues to be prayer, that the Holy Spirit may guide the Church,” he added.


    Pope Francis' Address to the Synod Fathers


    "Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church"


    VATICAN CITY, October 19, 2014 ( - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address to the Synod Fathers at the conclusion of the Synod of the Family.

    * * *



    Dear Eminences, Beatitudes, Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,



    With a heart full of appreciation and gratitude I want to thank, along with you, the Lord who has accompanied and guided us in the past days, with the light of the Holy Spirit.


    From the heart I thank Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod, Bishop Fabio Fabene, under-secretary, and with them I thank the Relators, Cardinal Peter Erdo, who has worked so much in these days of family mourning, and the Special Secretary Bishop Bruno Forte, the three President delegates, the transcribers, the consultors, the translators and the unknown workers, all those who have worked with true fidelity and total dedication behind the scenes and without rest. Thank you so much from the heart.


    I thank all of you as well, dear Synod fathers, Fraternal Delegates, Auditors, and Assessors, for your active and fruitful participation. I will keep you in prayer asking the Lord to reward you with the abundance of His gifts of grace!


    I can happily say that with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality we have truly lived the experience of Synod, a path of solidarity, a journey together.


    And it has been a journey and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say enough; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour. There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned:


     - One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called today traditionalists and also of the intellectuals.


     - The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the do-gooders, of the fearful, and also of the so-called progressives and liberals.


     - The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).


     - The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.


     - The temptation to neglect the depositum fidei [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them byzantinisms, I think, these things


    Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) His disciples should not expect better treatment.


    Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard with joy and appreciation speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the supreme law, the good of souls (cf. Can. 1752). And this always we have said it here, in the Hall without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).


    And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on peoples wound; who doesnt see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of Gods mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.


    The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.


    Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.


    And, as I have dared to tell you , [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquillity, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.


    We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of  their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock to nourish the flock that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.


    His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter to participate in his mission of taking care of God's People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, to see to it... that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6) and it is through us, Pope Benedict continues, that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).


    So, the Church is Christ's, she is His bride and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant the servant of the servants of God; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being by the will of Christ Himself the supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful (Can. 749) and despite enjoying supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church (cf. Cann. 331-334).


    Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.


    One year to work on the Synodal Relatio which is the faithful and clear summary of everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as lineamenta [guidelines].


    May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

    [Translation by Vatican Radio]



    Filipino Youth Bring Social Media Evangelization to New Level
    Ministry Leader Comments on What Francis Should Expect During His 2015 Visit

    By Kathleen Naab


    ROME, September 07, 2014 ( - Pope Francis will visit the Philippines at the start of next year, and according to one youth leader, he will find there a tremendous outpouring of love from young Filipinos, who are actively embracing the Church and her ministry.



    One example of this is the group YouthPinoy, under the auspices of the bishops’ conference. This weekend YouthPinoy is hosting its third summit on evangelization through social media, a particular mission the present and recent popes have spoken about for young Catholics.



    ZENIT asked the director of the event, YouthPinoy secretary Nirva Delacruz, to tell us about the ministry and what she thinks Francis will find in the Philippines.


    ZENIT: What is YouthPinoy? How did it get started and what does it do?

    Delacruz: YouthPinoy is a group of young online missionaries under the auspices of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Media Office and the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY). The group was a joint initiative of CBCP Media Office director Msgr. Pedro Quitorio III and then-CBCP ECY bishop chairman Bishop Joel Z. Baylon. 

    They came together and talked about what the Church in the Philippines was doing to respond to then Pope Benedict XVI's call to "evangelize the digital continent". So they got together and thought of forming a group of young people who would be committed to online evangelization. They called a boatload of young people from different Catholic organizations to crack their brains about this specific group, thus, YouthPinoy was born in 2009, though it was only officially launched in 2010. 

    Primarily, YP would carry out its mandate through its website,, but it would grow to include other stuff like World Youth Day coverage and the Catholic Social Media Summit to fulfill being "online missionaries of God" or what we call OMGs. 



    ZENIT: What is the Catholic Social Media Summit? When did it start and what are its goals?

    Delacruz: The Catholic Social Media Summit is the flagship event of YouthPinoy. It started in 2012 with the first one carrying the theme “Ministering Grace to this Generation” from Ephesians 4:29. Nearly 500 people from all over the country attended the first CSMS. 

    Primarily, YouthPinoy came up with the idea of having the CSMS because we needed a platform to cascade the advocacy of online evangelization. The first CSMS focused on just encouraging Catholics to bring their faith online, so there were a lot of skills workshops during the first CSMS, on photography, on microblogging, even on how to make creative power point presentations, things like that. 



    ZENIT: In light of Pope Francis' upcoming visit to the Philippines, what will be special about this year's event?

    Delacruz: CSMS version 3.0 is all about raising our commitment to online evangelization a notch higher in that we recognize the need for the Catholic online missionary to go out into the real world, have authentic encounters and go back online to tell the rest of the world about it. This is very timely, and we also see the hand of God in this, because the CBCP, our bishops' conference chose the theme "Mercy and Compassion" for the upcoming papal visit. We see that the CSMS theme of authentic encounters seems to complete and complement the call of the bishops to reach out to the needy, the poor, the homeless. 

    This is precisely what the third CSMS is about. For the first time, the CSMS chose to focus on seven advocacies of the Church that we want our OMGs to champion. They deal with:

    - LGBT

    - human trafficking

    - Marian consecration

    - justice

    - the issue of OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers)

    - pornography

    - election catechism (in time for our presidential elections in 2016)

    For the first time, we are also doing CSMS "laboratories", where we tapped several groups to have their own brand of authentic encounters with people in connection to the seven advocacies. For example, for human trafficking, one pro-life group will be going to bars and will be giving roses to prostitutes in an effort to reach out to them. The National Capital Region youth ministry will be having one to one sessions with ex-convicts to teach them English in an effort to help them re-enter society and find jobs. 

    They will be reporting their experiences during the CSMS. 



    ZENIT: As a youth leader, what is your outlook on the future of the Church in the Philippines? What will Pope Francis find in Filipino youth?

    Delacruz: I’m full of hope and a sense of pride in being not just Catholic, but a Filipino Catholic. St. John Paul II has called us a "light to the rest of Asia", some people call us the "Irish of Asia" and so on and so forth. Personally, I think the Philippines is one of the last remaining bastions of pro-life common sense. We have not yet legalized abortion, divorce, same-sex marriage and though we recently lost the fight against a divisive bill on contraception, it seems like the ruling was more in our favor. Young Catholics were a crucial factor in all these developments. We remain a dynamic, passionate and idealistic segment of Philippine society. 

    I think simply, he'll be getting a lot of love from us, young Filipinos. As in a lot of LOVE! And we hope the Holy Father will not tire of our affection because as early as now, I know of young people coming up with their own personal initiatives to prepare for January 2015.

    Note that these are all young men and young male Marian devotees at that! I'm really proud to be a Filipino Catholic at this point in time. Praise God for all these graces!




    Ice Buckets:  Does the End Justify the Means?

    The Challenge Is Becoming Discerning, Informed Benefactors

    ROME, August 29, 2014 ( - By Robert Clarke of Alliance Defending Freedom


    The Internet has been awash, if you will forgive the pun, with videos of people the world over tipping a bucket containing ice cold water over their heads in the name of charity. The idea is that each person also donates money to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. ALS, which is known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in the United States and motor neurone disease in the United Kingdom, is a debilitating condition which results in muscle spasticity, rapidly progressive weakness, and difficulty speaking and breathing. There is no doubt that we should be doing all we can to find a cure for this disease.

    But the end should never justify the means.



    The Science


    One type of research which ALSA is funding involves human embryonic stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are developed from a female egg after it has been fertilized by sperm to make an embryo. The process generally begins with in-vitro fertilization.  In IVF, an egg is removed from a woman and fertilized in the lab through the injection of a sperm. The cells begin to divide and after a few days, the embryo, known as a blastocyst, would normally be inserted into a uterus. However, in embryonic stem cell research, instead of doing this, when the embryo is three to four days old, scientists remove individual stem cells and the embryo is sacrificed in the process.


    The initial attraction of embryonic stem cells is that they are “pluripotent.” This means that they are able to differentiate into 300 or so different types of human cells. Scientists, therefore, see the potential for these new cells to replace damaged tissue.


    Embryonic stem cells are different than adult stem cells, which can be taken from living humans without harming them. The difficulty with adult stem cells is that they are ‘only’ multipotent. This means that, rather than being able to differentiate into any type of cell, they can only usually differentiate into a smaller number of cell types, normally those found in the organ from which they were taken.


    However, in recent years, researchers have discovered inducted pluripotent stem cells (iPS). As the name would suggest, these are stem cells which, like embryonic stem cells, have the ability to differentiate into any cell type. However, unlike embryonic stem cells, they do not presuppose the destruction of life. Instead, they are created by essentially reverse engineering a specialized cell so that it reverts back to a stem cell. This process, discovered in 2006 by scientists in Japan, allows researchers to explore the potential benefits of stem cell therapies without the unacceptable cost of human life.

    The availability of such alternatives, along with the inherent dignity of life are at the heart of testimony Alliance Defending Freedom presented to the European Parliament during consideration of its recently debated research budget, known as “Horizon 2020.”


    ALSA and stem cells


    Both ALSA and, in the United Kingdom, the sister organization the Motor Neurone Disease Association are aiming to raise awareness of the disease through the ‘ice bucket challenge.’ The money they raise goes towards their research efforts to cure the disease. However, both organizations support research that uses embryonic stem cells, even recognizing on their website the “significant moral, ethical and religious” concerns raised by this.


    The ALSA says: “Adult stem cell research is important and should be done alongside embryonic stem cell research as both will provide valuable insights. Only through exploration of all types of stem cell research will scientists find the most efficient and effective ways to treat diseases.”


    On being pressed on their continuing embryonic stem cell research, the ALSA has responded that this only relates to one study and that study involves an embryo which was sacrificed “many years ago.”


    However, if this is a matter of principle, that is beyond the point. Moreover, the ALSA has not committed to prohibiting embryonic stem cell research in the future.

    There is nothing problematic about raising awareness that is a feature of this campaign. And there is nothing wrong with people tipping buckets of cold water over their heads. To be clear, there are two things I don’t want to get in the way of: giving to charity in general, and giving to ethical research to ALS. Rather, those nominated may wish to consider how they want to direct their donation. Giving to an organization like John Paul II Medical Research Institute or donating to ALSA on the condition that the money is not used for any current or future embryonic stem cell research may apply the pressure needed for them to cease this dark practice.


    In a world in which giving has not yet returned to pre-recession levels, something which gets the likes of David Beckham, Mark Zuckerberg, and Oprah Winfrey flexing their charitable muscles along with thousands of others is not a bad thing. But the ice bucket challenge presents us with the opportunity of becoming discerning, informed benefactors.



    -Robert Clarke is litigation staff counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom in Vienna, Austria.

    Alliance Defending Freedom is an international, alliance-building legal organization that advocates for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and the family in numerous courts and consultative bodies worldwide.



    Cubao Diocese to Hold Free Marian talk
    by Raymond A. Sebastian

    QUEZON City, July 24, 2014 (—Good news, Pueblo Amante de María! The Diocese of Cubao invites Marian devotees, and anyone interested from within Metro Manila and the nearby provinces to take part in its upcoming quarterly formation talk on the Blessed Mother.


    Titled “The New Era: Triumph of Mary in the Renewed Church”, the conference is scheduled on August 9, Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Diocese of Cubao Chancery Building, Lantana Street Cubao, Quezon City, right across the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.


    The talk, to be facilitated by Holy Family Parish priest Romérico “Omer” A. Prieto, is set to cover three important topics, namely:

    • The Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
    • Second Pentecost
    • The Renewed Church


    Fr. Prieto is a member of the Diocese of Cubao Pastoral Team known for his promotion among the faithful of the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


    He also does mission work for Our Lady overseas and hosts a weekly radio program where he conducts cenacles.


    The talk is open to the public, but the seats available are limited and have to be reserved before August 4, Monday.


    For reservations and inquiries, please call or text:
    (+63) 916-4350-392 and (02) 505-78-25


    On the indissolubility of marriage and the debate concerning the civilly remarried and the sacraments

     L'Osservatore Romano


    The Power of Grace


    After the announcement of the extraordinary synod that will take place in October of 2014 on the pastoral care of families, some questions have been raised regarding the question of divorced and remarried members of the faithful and their relationship to the sacraments. In order to deepen understanding on this pressing subject so that clergy may accompany their flock more perfectly and instruct them in a manner consistent with the truth of Catholic Doctrine, we are publishing an extensive contribution from the Archbishop Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


     The problem concerning members of the faithful who have entered into a new civil union after a divorce is not new.  The Church has always taken this question very seriously and with a view to helping the people who find themselves in this situation.  Marriage is a sacrament that affects people particularly deeply in their personal, social and historical circumstances.  Given the increasing number of persons affected in countries of ancient Christian tradition, this pastoral problem has taken on significant dimensions.  Today even firm believers are seriously wondering: can the Church not admit the divorced and remarried to the sacraments under certain conditions?  Are her hands permanently tied on this matter?  Have theologians really explored all the implications and consequences?


    These questions must be explored in a manner that is consistent with Catholic doctrine on marriage.  A responsible pastoral approach presupposes a theology  that offers “the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals, freely assenting to the truth revealed by him” (Dei Verbum 5).  In order to make the Church’s authentic doctrine intelligible, we must begin with the word of God that is found in sacred Scripture, expounded in the Church’s Tradition and interpreted by the Magisterium in a binding way.



    The Testimony of Sacred Scripture


    Looking directly to the Old Testament for answers to our question is not without its difficulties, because at that time marriage was not yet regarded as a sacrament.  Yet the word of God in the Old Covenant is significant for us to the extent that Jesus belongs within this tradition and argues on the basis of it.  In the Decalogue, we find the commandment “thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex 20:14),  but elsewhere divorce is presented as a possibility.  According to Dt 24:1-4, Moses lays down that a man may present his wife with a certificate of dismissal and send her away from his house, if she no longer finds favour with him.  Thereafter, both husband and wife may embark upon a new marriage.  In addition to this acceptance of divorce, the Old Testament also expresses certain reservations in its regard.  The comparison drawn by the prophets between God’s covenant with Israel and the marriage bond includes not only the ideal of monogamy, but also that of indissolubility.  The prophet Malachi expresses this clearly:  “Do not be faithless to the wife of your youth ... with whom you have made a covenant” (Mal 2:14-15).


    Above all, it was his controversies with the Pharisees that gave Jesus occasion to address this theme.  He distanced himself explicitly from the Old Testament practice of divorce, which Moses had permitted because men were “so hard of heart”, and he pointed to God’s original will: “from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and ... the two shall become one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:5-9; cf. Mt 19:4-9; Lk 16:18).  The Catholic Church has always based its doctrine and practice upon these sayings of Jesus concerning the indissolubility of marriage.  The inner bond that joins the spouses to one another was forged by God himself.  It designates a reality that comes from God and is therefore no longer at man’s disposal.


    Today some exegetes take the view that even in the Apostolic era these dominical sayings were applied with a degree of flexibility: notably in the case of porneia/unchastity (cf. Mt 5:32; 19:9) and in the case of a separation between a Christian and a non-Christian partner (cf. 1 Cor 7:12-15).  The unchastity clauses have been the object of fierce debate among exegetes from the beginning.  Many take the view that they refer not to exceptions to the indissolubility of marriage, but to invalid marital unions.  Clearly, however, the Church cannot build its doctrine and practice on controversial exegetical hypotheses.  She must adhere to the clear teaching of Christ.


    Saint Paul presents the prohibition on divorce as the express will of Christ:  “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband) and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Cor 7:10-11).  At the same time he permits, on his own authority, that a non-Christian may separate from a partner who has become Christian.  In this case, the Christian is “not bound” to remain unmarried (1 Cor 7:12-16).  On the basis of this passage, the Church has come to recognize that only a marriage between a baptized man and a baptized woman is a sacrament in the true sense, and only in this instance does unconditional indissolubility apply.  The marriage of the unbaptized is indeed ordered to indissolubility, but can under certain circumstances – for the sake of a higher good – be dissolved (privilegium Paulinum).  Here, then, we are not dealing with an exception to our Lord’s teaching.  The indissolubility of sacramental marriage, that is to say, marriage that takes place within the mystery of Christ, remains assured.


    Of greater significance for the biblical basis of the sacramental view of marriage is the Letter to the Ephesians, where we read: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25).  And shortly afterwards, the Apostle adds: “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.  This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:31-32).  Christian marriage is an effective sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church.  Because it designates and communicates the grace of this covenant, marriage between the baptized is a sacrament.



    The Testimony of the Church’s Tradition


    The Church Fathers and Councils provide important testimony regarding the way the Church’s position evolved.  For the Fathers, the biblical precepts on the subject are binding.  They reject the State’s divorce laws as incompatible with the teaching of Jesus.  The Church of the Fathers rejected divorce and remarriage, and did so out of obedience to the Gospel.  On this question, the Fathers’ testimony is unanimous.


    In patristic times, divorced members of the faithful who had civilly remarried could not even be readmitted to the sacraments after a period of penance.  Some patristic texts, however, seem to imply that abuses were not always rigorously corrected and that from time to time pastoral solutions were sought for very rare borderline cases.


    In many regions, greater compromises emerged later, particularly as a result of the increasing interdependence of Church and State.  In the East this development continued to evolve, and especially after the separation from the See of Peter, it moved towards an increasingly liberal praxis.  In the Orthodox Churches today, there are a great many grounds for divorce, which are mostly justified in terms of oikonomia, or pastoral leniency in difficult individual cases, and they open the path to a second or third marriage marked by a penitential character.  This practice cannot be reconciled with God’s will, as expressed unambiguously in Jesus’ sayings about the indissolubility of marriage.  But it represents an ecumenical problem that is not to be underestimated.


    In the West, the Gregorian reform countered these liberalizing tendencies and gave fresh impetus to the original understanding of Scripture and the Fathers.  The Catholic Church defended the absolute indissolubility of marriage even at the cost of great sacrifice and suffering.  The schism of a “Church of England” detached from the Successor of Peter came about not because of doctrinal differences, but because the Pope, out of obedience to the sayings of Jesus, could not accommodate the demands of King Henry VIII for the dissolution of his marriage.


    The Council of Trent confirmed the doctrine of the indissolubility of sacramental marriage and explained that this corresponded to the teaching of the Gospel (cf. DH 1807).  Sometimes it is maintained that the Church de facto tolerated the Eastern practice.  But this is not correct.  The canonists constantly referred to it as an abuse.  And there is evidence that groups of Orthodox Christians on becoming Catholic had to subscribe to an express acknowledgment of the impossibility of second or third marriages. 


    The Second Vatican Council, in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes on “The Church in the Modern World”, presents a theologically and spiritually profound doctrine of marriage.  It upholds the indissolubility of marriage clearly and distinctly.  Marriage is understood as an all-embracing communion of life and love, body and spirit, between a man and a woman who mutually give themselves and receive one another as persons.  Through the personally free act of their reciprocal consent, an enduring, divinely ordered institution is brought into being, which is directed to the good of the spouses and of their offspring and is no longer dependent on human caprice:  “As a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union and the good of the children impose total fidelity on the spouses and argue for an unbreakable oneness between them” (no. 48).  Through the sacrament God bestows a special grace upon the spouses:  “For as God of old made himself present to his people through a covenant of love and fidelity, so now the Saviour of men and the Spouse of the Church comes into the lives of married Christians through the sacrament of matrimony.  He abides with them thereafter so that just as he loved the Church and handed himself over on her behalf, the spouses may love each other with perpetual fidelity through mutual self-bestowal.”  Through the sacrament the indissolubility of marriage acquires a new and deeper sense:  it becomes the image of God’s enduring love for his people and of Christ’s irrevocable fidelity to his Church.


    Marriage can be understood and lived as a sacrament only in the context of the mystery of Christ.  If marriage is secularized or regarded as a purely natural reality, its sacramental character is obscured.  Sacramental marriage belongs to the order of grace, it is taken up into the definitive communion of love between Christ and his Church.  Christians are called to live their marriage within the eschatological horizon of the coming of God’s kingdom in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God.



    The Testimony of the Magisterium in the Present Day


    The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio – issued by John Paul II on 22 November 1981 in the wake of the Synod of Bishops on the Christian family in the modern world, and of fundamental importance ever since – emphatically confirms the Church’s dogmatic teaching on marriage.  But it shows pastoral concern for the civilly remarried faithful who are still bound by an ecclesially valid marriage.  The Pope shows a high degree of concern and understanding.  Paragraph 84 on “divorced persons who have remarried” contains the following key statements:  1.  Pastors are obliged, by love for the truth, “to exercise careful discernment of situations”.  Not everything and everyone are to be assessed in an identical way.  2.  Pastors and parish communities are bound to stand by the faithful who find themselves in this situation, with “attentive love”.  They too belong to the Church, they are entitled to pastoral care and they should take part in the Church’s life.  3. And yet they cannot be admitted to the Eucharist.  Two reasons are given for this:  a) “their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist” b) “if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage”.  Reconciliation through sacramental confession, which opens the way to reception of the Eucharist, can only be granted in the case of repentance over what has happened and a “readiness to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage.”  Concretely this means that if for serious reasons, such as the children’s upbringing, the new union cannot be dissolved, then the two partners must “bind themselves to live in complete continence”.  4.  Clergy are expressly forbidden, for intrinsically sacramental and theological reasons and not through legalistic pressures, to “perform ceremonies of any kind” for divorced people who remarry civilly, as long as the first sacramentally valid marriage still exists.


    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s statement of 14 September 1994 on reception of holy communion by divorced and remarried members of the faithful emphasizes that the Church’s practice in this question “cannot be modified because of different situations” (no. 5).  It also makes clear that the faithful concerned may not present themselves for holy communion on the basis of their own conscience:  “Should they judge it possible to do so, pastors and confessors ... have the serious duty to admonish them that such a judgment of conscience openly contradicts the Church's teaching” (no. 6).  If doubts remain over the validity of a failed marriage, these must be examined by the competent marriage tribunals (cf. no. 9).  It remains of the utmost importance, “with solicitous charity to do everything that can be done to strengthen in the love of Christ and the Church those faithful in irregular marriage situations. Only thus will it be possible for them fully to receive the message of Christian marriage and endure in faith the distress of their situation. In pastoral action one must do everything possible to ensure that this is understood not to be a matter of discrimination but only of absolute fidelity to the will of Christ who has restored and entrusted to us anew the indissolubility of marriage as a gift of the Creator” (no. 10).


    In the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis of 22 February 2007, Benedict XVI summarizes the work of the Synod of Bishops on the theme of the Eucharist and he develops it further.  In No. 29 he addresses the situation of divorced and remarried faithful.  For Benedict XVI too, this is a “complex and troubling pastoral problem”.  He confirms “the Church's practice, based on Sacred Scripture (cf. Mk 10:2- 12), of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments”, but he urges pastors at the same time, to devote “special concern” to those affected: in the wish that they “live as fully as possible the Christian life through regular participation at Mass, albeit without receiving communion, listening to the word of God, eucharistic adoration, prayer, participation in the life of the community, honest dialogue with a priest or spiritual director, dedication to the life of charity, works of penance, and commitment to the education of their children”.  If there are doubts concerning the validity of the failed marriage, these are to be carefully examined by the competent marriage tribunals.  Today’s mentality is largely opposed to the Christian understanding of marriage, with regard to its indissolubility and its openness to children.  Because many Christians are influenced by this, marriages nowadays are probably invalid more often than they were previously, because there is a lack of desire for marriage in accordance with Catholic teaching, and there is too little socialization within an environment of faith.  Therefore assessment of the validity of marriage is important and can help to solve problems.  Where nullity of marriage cannot be demonstrated, the requirement for absolution and reception of communion, according to the Church’s established and approved practice, is that the couple live “as friends, as brother and sister”.  Blessings of irregular unions are to be avoided, “lest confusion arise among the faithful concerning the value of marriage”.  A blessing (bene-dictio: divine sanctioning) of a relationship that contradicts the will of God is a contradiction in terms.


    During his homily at the Seventh World Meeting of Families in Milan on 3 June 2012, Benedict XVI once again had occasion to speak of this painful problem: “I should also like to address a word to the faithful who, even though they agree with the Church’s teachings on the family, have had painful experiences of breakdown and separation. I want you to know that the Pope and the Church support you in your struggle. I encourage you to remain united to your communities, and I earnestly hope that your dioceses are developing suitable initiatives to welcome and accompany you.”


    The most recent Synod of Bishops on the theme “New evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith” (7-28 October 2012) addressed once again the situation of the faithful who after the failure of a marital relationship (not the failure of a marriage, which being a sacrament still remains) have entered a new union and live together without a sacramental marriage bond.  In the concluding Message, the Synod Fathers addressed those concerned as follows: “To all of them we want to say that God’s love does not abandon anyone, that the Church loves them, too, that the Church is a house that welcomes all, that they remain members of the Church even if they cannot receive sacramental absolution and the Eucharist. May our Catholic communities welcome all who live in such situations and support those who are in the path of conversion and reconciliation.”



    Observations based on Anthropology and Sacramental Theology


    The doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage is often met with incomprehension in a secularized environment.  Where the fundamental insights of Christian faith have been lost, church affiliation of a purely conventional kind can no longer sustain major life decisions or provide a firm foothold in the midst of marital crises – as well as crises in priestly and religious life.  Many people ask:  how can I bind myself to one woman or one man for an entire lifetime?  Who can tell me what my marriage will be like in ten, twenty, thirty, forty years?  Is a definitive bond to one person possible at all?  The many marital relationships that founder today reinforce the scepticism of young people regarding definitive life choices.


    On the other hand, the ideal – built into the order of creation – of faithfulness between one man and one woman has lost none of its fascination, as is apparent from recent opinion surveys among young people.  Most of them long for a stable, lasting relationship, in keeping with the spiritual and moral nature of the human person.  Moreover, one must not forget the anthropological value of indissoluble marriage:  it withdraws the partners from caprice and from the tyranny of feelings and moods.  It helps them to survive personal difficulties and to overcome painful experiences.  Above all it protects the children, who have most to suffer from marital breakdown. 


    Love is more than a feeling or an instinct.  Of its nature it is self-giving.  In marital love, two people say consciously and intentionally to one another:  only you – and you for ever.  The word of the Lord: “What God has joined together” corresponds to the promise of the spouses:  “I take you as my husband ... I take you as my wife ... I will love, esteem and honour you, as long as I live, till death us do part.”  The priest blesses the covenant that the spouses have sealed with one another before God.  If anyone should doubt whether the marriage bond is ontological, let him learn from the word of God:  “He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said: for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mt 19:4-6).


    For Christians, the marriage of baptized persons incorporated into the Body of Christ has sacramental character and therefore represents a supernatural reality.  A serious pastoral problem arises from the fact that many people today judge Christian marriage exclusively by worldly and pragmatic criteria.  Those who think according to the “spirit of the world” (1 Cor 2:12) cannot understand the sacramentality of marriage.  The Church cannot respond to the growing incomprehension of the sanctity of marriage by pragmatically accommodating the supposedly inevitable, but only by trusting in “the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God” (1 Cor 2:12).  Sacramental marriage is a testimony to the power of grace, which changes man and prepares the whole Church for the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the Church, which is prepared “as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2).  The Gospel of the sanctity of marriage is to be proclaimed with prophetic candour.  By adapting to the spirit of the age, a weary prophet seeks his own salvation but not the salvation of the world in Jesus Christ.  Faithfulness to marital consent is a prophetic sign of the salvation that God bestows upon the world.  “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it” (Mt 19:12).  Through sacramental grace, married love is purified, strengthened and ennobled.  “Sealed by mutual faithfulness and hallowed above all by Christ's sacrament, this love remains steadfastly true in body and in mind, in bright days or dark.  It will never be profaned by adultery or divorce” (Gaudium et Spes, 49). In the strength of the sacrament of marriage, the spouses participate in God’s definitive, irrevocable love.  They can therefore be witnesses of God’s faithful love, but they must nourish their love constantly through living by faith and love. 


    Admittedly there are situations – as every pastor knows – in which marital cohabitation becomes for all intents and purposes impossible for compelling reasons, such as physical or psychological violence.  In such hard cases, the Church has always permitted the spouses to separate and no longer live together.  It must be remembered, though, that the marriage bond of a valid union remains intact in the sight of God, and the individual parties are not free to contract a new marriage, as long as the spouse is alive.  Pastors and Christian communities must therefore take pains to promote paths of reconciliation in these cases too, or, should that not be possible, to help the people concerned to confront their difficult situation in faith.



    Observations based on Moral Theology


    It is frequently suggested that remarried divorcees should be allowed to decide for themselves, according to their conscience, whether or not to present themselves for holy communion.  This argument, based on a problematical concept of “conscience”, was rejected by a document of the CDF in 1994.  Naturally, the faithful must consider every time they attend Mass whether it is possible to receive communion, and a grave unconfessed sin would always be an impediment.  At the same time they have the duty to form their conscience and to align it with the truth.  In so doing they listen also to the Church’s Magisterium, which helps them “not to swerve from the truth about the good of man, but rather, especially in more difficult questions, to attain the truth with certainty and to abide in it” (Veritatis Splendor, 64).  If remarried divorcees are subjectively convinced in their conscience that a previous marriage was invalid, this must be proven objectively by the competent marriage tribunals.  Marriage is not simply about the relationship of two people to God, it is also a reality of the Church, a sacrament, and it is not for the individuals concerned to decide on its validity, but rather for the Church, into which the individuals are incorporated by faith and baptism.  “If the prior marriage of two divorced and remarried members of the faithful was valid, under no circumstances can their new union be considered lawful, and therefore reception of the sacraments is intrinsically impossible.  The conscience of the individual is bound to this norm without exception” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “The Pastoral approach to marriage must be founded on truth” L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, 7 December 2011, p. 4)


    The teaching on epikeia, too – according to which a law may be generally valid, but does not always apply to concrete human situations – may not be invoked here, because in the case of the indissolubility of sacramental marriage we are dealing with a divine norm that is not at the disposal of the Church.  Nevertheless – as we see from the privilegium Paulinum – the Church does have the authority to clarify the conditions that must be fulfilled for an indissoluble marriage, as taught by Jesus, to come about.  On this basis, the Church has established impediments to marriage, she has recognized grounds for annulment, and she has developed a detailed process for examining these.


    A further case for the admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments is argued in terms of mercy.  Given that Jesus himself showed solidarity with the suffering and poured out his merciful love upon them, mercy is said to be a distinctive quality of true discipleship.  This is correct, but it misses the mark when adopted as an argument in the field of sacramental theology.  The entire sacramental economy is a work of divine mercy and it cannot simply be swept aside by an appeal to the same.  An objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God, by implying that God cannot do other than forgive.  The mystery of God includes not only his mercy but also his holiness and his justice.  If one were to suppress these characteristics of God and refuse to take sin seriously, ultimately it would not even be possible to bring God’s mercy to man.  Jesus encountered the adulteress with great compassion, but he said to her “Go and do not sin again” (Jn 8:11).  God’s mercy does not dispense us from following his commandments or the rules of the Church.  Rather it supplies us with the grace and strength needed to fulfil them, to pick ourselves up after a fall, and to live life in its fullness according to the image of our heavenly Father.



    Pastoral care


    Even if there is no possibility of admitting remarried divorcees to the sacraments, in view of their intrinsic nature, it is all the more imperative to show pastoral concern for these members of the faithful, so as to point them clearly towards what the theology of revelation and the Magisterium have to say.  The path indicated by the Church is not easy for those concerned.  Yet they should know and sense that the Church as a community of salvation accompanies them on their journey.  Insofar as the parties make an effort to understand the Church’s practice and to abstain from communion, they provide their own testimony to the indissolubility of marriage.


    Clearly, the care of remarried divorcees must not be reduced to the question of receiving the Eucharist.  It involves a much more wide-ranging pastoral approach, which seeks to do justice to to the different situations.  It is important to realize that there are other ways, apart from sacramental communion, of being in fellowship with God.  One can draw close to God by turning to him in faith, hope and charity, in repentance and prayer.  God can grant his closeness and his salvation to people on different paths, even if they find themselves in a contradictory life situation.  As recent documents of the Magisterium have emphasized, pastors and Christian communities are called to welcome people in irregular situations openly and sincerely, to stand by them sympathetically and helpfully, and to make them aware of the love of the Good Shepherd.  If pastoral care is rooted in truth and love, it will discover the right paths and approaches in constantly new ways.



    Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller
    October 23, 2013


    Prayer of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary

    VATICAN CITY, October 13, 2013 ( - Here is the translation of the prayer of consecration recited by Pope Francis in consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

    * * *

    Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima,

    with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence

    we join our voice to that of all the generations

    who call you blessed.

    We celebrate in you the works of God,

    who never tires of looking down with mercy

    upon humanity, afflicted with the wound of sin,

    to heal it and save it.

    Accept with the benevolence of a Mother

    the act of consecration that we perform today with confidence,

    before this image of you that is so dear to us.

    We are certain that each of us is precious in your eyes

    and that nothing of all that lives in our hearts is unknown to you.

    We let ourselves be touched by your most sweet regard

    and we welcome the consoling caress of your smile.

    Hold our life in your arms:

    bless and strengthen every desire for good;

    revive and nourish faith;

    sustain and enlighten hope;

    awaken and animate charity;

    guide all of us along the path of holiness.

    Teach us your own preferential love

    for the little and the poor,

    for the excluded and the suffering,

    for sinners and the downhearted:

    bring everyone under your protection

    and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus.


    [Translation by Joseph Trabbic]

    "We Need the Intercession of Our Lady"
    Rector of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Speaks on Pope's Consecration of World to Mary

    By Junno Arocho Esteves


    WASHINGTON, D.C., October 11, 2013 ( - One of the most important events in this Year of Faith, the Marian Day, will take place this weekend in the Vatican. More than 150,000 pilgrims are expected to attend the two-day event that will culminate with the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The original statue of Our Lady of Fatima will be transported to Rome for this Year of Faith event. 


    A notable aspect of this event will be the participation of 10 Marian Shrines around the world during the recitation of the Rosary. They include the Marian Shrines of Aparecida, Brazil; Lujan, Argentina; Lourdes, France; Czestochowa, Poland; Banneux, Belgium; Nazareth, Israel; Nairobi, Kenya; Akita, Japan; Vailankanny, India; and Washington, D.C.


    Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., spoke with ZENIT on the significance of this event as a catalyst for peace in the world today. 



    ZENIT: How many pilgrims visit the Basilica every year? Are you expecting a big turnout for the “Marian Day?”

    Msgr. Rossi: Almost a million pilgrims visit the Basilica every year. Tomorrow we also have a diocesan pilgrimage from the Diocese of Arlington that will be here in the morning and then the international rosary in the afternoon. And of course, each day at the shrine, every day of the year, we have six Masses plus Eucharistic adoration. 



    ZENIT: Why do you think this act of consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is so significant?

    Msgr. Rossi: First of all, the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary goes back to the time of Pope Pius XII, who had consecrated Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Then both Pope Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II reconsecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and then in 1982 Blessed John Paul II consecrated the entire world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. 

    As we all know, the world is not at peace. And one of the principal reasons for the consecration was not only for the conversion of Russia but also for world peace. So this consecration is really timely because right now we need the intercession of Our Lady. We need prayers to change minds and hearts to help bring about the peace the world so desperately needs. 



    ZENIT: We saw the power of prayer after the Pope’s worldwide call for prayer for Syria. Do you think this consecration to Mary will have a similar impact?

    Msgr. Rossi: Prayer is extremely powerful. With prayer all things are possible. As we gather together to offer this prayer in consecrating the world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, it is our great hope and desire that it will have the same effects as the prayer for Syria did; that the world will in fact reach and achieve some peace and tranquility.



    ZENIT: What events will be held in the Basilica for the “Marian Day”?

    Msgr. Rossi: It’s a full day because we have a diocesan pilgrimage in the morning, and then the rosary from 1:30 pm to 4 pm and then the 5 o'clock Mass. And like I said earlier we also have an additional 6 masses, and we have the daily rosary and Eucharistic Adoration. 

    Each of these events will be focused toward Mary’s Immaculate Heart, seeking her intercession, asking Our Lady to embrace Her children so that they will not only come to a more intimate communion with Jesus, but also to bring peace to our troubled world as well as peace and healing to those lives that might be broken, struggling or suffering. 



    ZENIT: The patroness of the United States is the Immaculate Conception, correct?

    Msgr. Rossi: Yes, and that’s why the National Shrine is the Catholic church of the United States. When the Bishops at the Council of Baltimore had placed the country under Mary’s patronage, it was decided that there should be a national monument in Her honor to celebrate the Immaculate Conception and her patronage. 



    ZENIT: Is there a great devotion to the Blessed Mother in the United States?

    Msgr. Rossi: Absolutely. The National Shrine is one of the largest churches in the world and it is the largest Catholic church in the United States. For us, we are a center of Marian devotion for the country, and since we are not a parish church everyone who comes to the Shrine, whether a tourist, a pilgrim or a worshipper, comes because they are there to seek Our Lady’s intercession. 

    You see very clearly that people have a great devotion to Our Lady. That Our Lady's intercession for them is not only essential but its also very powerful. When you have a million people coming through your door every year, that’s a great testimony to people’s faith and devotion to Our Lady. 



    ZENIT: We’ve seen, since his election, that the Holy Father is a very Marian-centered Pope. What are your thoughts on Pope Francis?

    Msgr. Rossi: Well, I think not only is Pope Francis Marian-centered, but we also know that he is, by the choice of his name, Franciscan-centered. I personally believe that Pope Francis is bringing about or seeking to bring about a new Pentecost in the Church. He’s calling us back to the foundation of the Gospel message. He’s calling us to live as Jesus taught and, as He says, to ‘go along the path that is Jesus’ and that following this path, hopefully will lead not only to holiness in our own individual lives but also holiness in the life of the Church.



    ZENIT: What hopes do you have for this Marian Day?

    Msgr. Rossi: My hope is that through our prayer, Our Lady will embrace all of Her children, that she will lead us to a more intimate relationship with Jesus and bring peace, bring peace to the world and bring peace to people’s lives.




    Pope To Consecrate World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Sunday
    Famed Image of Our Lady of Fatima Brought to Rome From Portugal

    By H. Sergio Mora


    ROME, October 10, 2013 ( - The image of Our Lady of Fatima, which is kept in the Portuguese Shrine, will be in Rome on Saturday the 12th and Sunday the 13th of October, for the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pope Francis will carry out the consecration on Sunday, during Marian Day, one of the highlights of the Year of Faith. An estimated 200,000 pilgrims are expected to attend the Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, as well as hundreds of Movements and institutions.


    The Marian Day will begin on Saturday with a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle Peter, Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions in churches near Saint Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis and all those present will receive the image of the Virgin of Fatima at 5:00 pm in Saint Peter’s Square. After the Holy Father’s Marian catechesis, the image representing the Virgin Mary, as she appeared to the three little shepherds in Fatima, will be taken to the Roman Shrine of Divine Love, a favorite place of the Roman faithful, some 15 kilometers from the center of Rome.


    Connected live for the recitation of the Rosary and the start of the Vigil will be 10 Marian Shrines worldwide, two of which are in Latin America: Aparecida in Brazil and Lujan in Argentina. The Shrines in Europe include: Lourdes in France, Czestochowa in Poland and Banneux in Belgium. The other five Shrines are Nazareth in Israel, Nairobi in Kenya, Akita in Japan, Vailankanny in India and Washington in the United States.


    The Vigil, entitled “Con Maria oltre la notte” (With Mary Throughout the Night) will begin at 10:00 pm local time.


    Daniel Blanchoud, rector of the Argentine Shrine of the Virgin of Lujan explained to ZENIT that “each of the ten shrines will pray part of the five mysteries of the Rosary. We will pray the Our Father and five Hail Mary’s of the last mystery prayed, following the instruction we were given by Rome.”


    On Sunday the 13th, the Pope will celebrate the Holy Mass in Saint Peter’s Square and then consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


    “In response to the Pope Francis’ desire, the image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, which is venerated in the Chapel of the Apparitions, will be in Rome on October 12 and 13, for the Marian Day organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. On October 13, with the image of Our Lady, Pope Francis will consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” states the Fatima Shrine on its Webpage.


    The Shrine’s Press Office specified that “the image of Our Lady will leave the Fatima Shrine in Portugal on the morning of October 12 and will return on the afternoon of the 13th. In its place in the Chapel of the Apparitions, the first image of the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima will be placed, enthroned in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary since November 8, 2003.”


    The Marian Day, organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, is inserted in the program of the Year of Faith. The program describes the Day as the “celebration of a Marian Day with the presence of all Marian associations and with the theme “Happy You Who Believed!”




    CBCP urges revival of St. Michael the Archangel Prayer



    MANILA, Sept. 26, 2013 - The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has authorized for use of the old St. Michael the Archangel Prayer for recitation after Mass in all churches.


    In a circular to all the archdioceses and dioceses, the CBCP highly recommends the recitation of the prayer composed by Leo XIII in 1896 amid the “many situation of trouble and conflict” in the country. 


    Archbishop Jose Palma, CBCP president, said the prayer is also “very timely” because of recent calamities that brought havoc in various areas and the “escalating” corruption in the government. 


    “Through this prayer, we invoke St. Michael to defend us and our country against the wickedness and snares of the evil one,” Palma said. 


    “Michael – which means, “Who is like God” – will win over all the evil attempts to disfigure the face of mankind because God Who is stronger acts in him,” he added.


    The Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel: 

    “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl upon the earth for the ruin of souls. Amen”. (CBCPNews)



    Fatima statue headed to Rome, as Pope plans to consecrate the world to Our Lady


    August 14, 2013. ( The statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima will travel all the way from Portugal to the Vatican, where Pope Francis is planning on consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  


    The 'Marian Day' ceremony, which is scheduled to take place at the Vatican on Sunday, October 13th, will be attended by hundreds of religious movements and institutions that have a special Marian devotion. This Mass is one of the last main events scheduled for the 'Year of Faith.' 


    Even before that Mass, things will be busy at the Vatican. On Saturday October 12th, different prayer events are scheduled along with a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter. Then on the 13th, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square before thousands of faithful. 
    The Statue of Our Lady will make its way to Rome, at the request of Pope Francis, who has shown a great devotion to Mary, since the very first day of his pontificate. 

    The Statue will depart from the Shrine of Fatima on the morning of October 12th. It will make its way back in the afternoon of October 13th.

    In October, at the Vatican, Pope Francis will consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

    This news item was posted by the official website of the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, in Fatima, Portugal:

    In response to the desire of Holy Father Francis, the Statue of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, venerated in the Little Chapel of Apparitions, will be brought to Rome on October 12/13 to be present at the Marian Day promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. On October 13, next to the Statue of Our Lady, Pope Francis will make the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

    [The] Marian Day is one of the great pontifical events marked down on the calendar of celebrations of the Year of Faith which will bring to Rome hundreds of movements and institutions connoted with Marian devotion.

    In a letter addressed to Bishop Antonio Marto, of Leiria-Fatima, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, [Abp.] Rino Fisichella, informs that “all ecclesial entities of Marian spirituality” are invited to take part in this Marian day, a gathering which includes, on the 12th, a pilgrimage to the tomb of Apostle St. Peter and other moments of prayer and meditation and, on the 13th, a Mass presided over by Pope Francis, in St. Peter’s Square.

    In that letter, [Abp.] Fisichella wrote: “The Holy Father strongly desires that the Marian Day may have present, as a special sign, one of the most significant Marian icons for Christians throughout the world and, for that reason, we thought of the beloved original Statue of Our Lady of Fatima”.

    Therefore, the Statue of Our Lady will depart from the Shrine of Fatima on the morning of October 12 and return on the afternoon of October 13. Scheduled to take its place in the Little Chapel of Apparitions is the first Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which is enthroned in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary since December 8, 2003.

    [Source: Santuário de Fátima]


    Ireland to be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary


    Ireland will be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The consecration will take place at Knock Shrine, during the annual Novena to Our Lady of Knock.


    Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland will lead the Act of Consecration. Archbishop Eamon Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh will be the principal celebrant and preacher at the Mass on that day. Bishops, priests and people from across the country will be in attendance.


    The Prayer of Consecration will entrust families, homes and the dioceses of Ireland to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and call on her to watch over the young people of Ireland. As the universal Church is currently celebrating a Year of Faith, it is fitting that the Act of Consecration calls to mind the woman of faith par excellence and asks for her prayers for the people of this country.


    Commenting ahead of the Consecration Cardinal Brady said: "In his recent encyclical for the Year of Faith, Pope Francis invited us to turn to Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of our Faith. I am very pleased that the Irish Catholic Bishops decided at their June meeting to consecrate Ireland to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I am looking forward to being at our National Shrine in Knock on the 15 August to ask Mary's maternal blessing on the people of Ireland. The Feast of the Assumption is one of the biggest days of the year in Knock, with bishops, priests and people present for the opening of the Novena. I invite the people of Ireland to come along to Knock on the day or to join in this beautiful devotional act by praying the prayer of entrustment in their homes and parish churches."

    Source: Irish Catholic Media Office



    Returning to Rome, pope discusses plans for future trips


    Pope Francis (Photo: CNS)


    VATICAN, July 30, 2013 (CNS) — At the end of his first foreign trip, Pope Francis told reporters that it’s good for a pope to travel and there are plans in the works for visits in Italy, to Jerusalem, to Asia, but nothing planned soon for his Argentine homeland.


    “I think papal trips are always good,” he said July 28 during the flight back to Rome after a week in Brazil.


    The July 22-29 papal trip was good for Brazil “not just because of the pope’s presence, but because for World Youth Day they mobilized and did so well that it will help the whole church,” he said.


    As for future foreign trips, Pope Francis said there was “nothing definite-definite,” but “I can tell you what I’m thinking.”


    What is definite, he said, are a Sept. 22 trip to Cagliari in southern Italy to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria, the Marian title that led to the name of the pope’s hometown, Buenos Aires, and an Oct. 4 trip to Assisi for the feast of St. Francis.


    He also said he hoped to make a one-day trip to northern Italy to visit his relatives with whom he speaks often by phone, but has not had an opportunity to visit since becoming pope in March.


    Pope Francis said he hoped to be able to fulfill an idea proposed by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who suggested they meet in Jerusalem in 2014 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s meeting with Patriarch Athenagoras, a meeting that set the stage for Catholic-Orthodox reconciliation and dialogue.


    “The government of Israel also gave me a special invitation to go to Jerusalem and I think the Palestinian Authority did as well,” he said.


    Pope Francis said he had hoped to go to Istanbul in November for the feast of St. Andrew, the patron of the ecumenical patriarchate, but “it was not possible with my schedule. If we meet each other, it will be in Jerusalem.”


    As for Latin America, the pope said he did not think he would return soon.


    “A Latin American pope, his first trip is to Latin America,” going again would be too much, he said. “We must wait a while.”


    The pope said that of course he misses Buenos Aires, “but it is a serene kind of missing.”


    “I think it is possible to go to Asia, but this is all up in the air,” he said. “I have invitations to go to Sri Lanka and to the Philippines. I must go to Asia,” he said, because Pope Benedict XVI did not manage to visit the continent in his eight-year pontificate and Asia “is important.”


    Although Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, had told reporters before the trip that Pope Francis gave no special directions about what he wanted for the flight, the pope told reporters that he had, in fact, requested that Alitalia make no special arrangements for him and, specifically, that they not install a bed for him.


    “I’m up front in a great seat that’s very comfortable, normal, one like everyone else has” in first class, he said. “I had a letter written and a phone call made to say that I didn’t want a special setup on the airplane.” (Cindy Wooden)



    Reproductive Health Law suspended indefinitely by Supreme Court in Philippines

    by Adam Cassandra

    Tue Jul 16, 2013 15:28 EST


    July 16, 2013 ( - Pro-life advocates in the Philippines received some much needed good news on Tuesday in the fight against the anti-life Reproductive Health (RH) Law. The Supreme Court voted 8-7 to suspend implementation of the law “until further orders” from the Court. A status quo ante order issued by the Court in March to delay the law’s implementation was set to expire on July 17.


    “Although only by the slimmest vote possible, we are glad that the Supreme Court has extended the status quo ante order (stopping the RH Law),” said Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Commission on Family and Life. “On this feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we continue to turn to the Lord and to Our Lady to intercede for the Filipino people and the Filipino family.”


    A spokesperson for President Benigno Aquino, who supports the law, called the delay “unfortunate,” but said the Aquino administration would respect the Court’s decision.


    “Well, the extension is unfortunate; however, the extension will be respected by government,” she said.


    The Supreme Court heard oral arguments last week on the RH Law. There are currently 15 different petitions challenging the law’s constitutionality. A second round of oral arguments is scheduled for July 23.


    The Constitution of the Philippines provides that, “The State recognizes the sanctity of family life and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution. It shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception.” But critics charge the RH Law gives the State powers and directives aimed at destroying the family unit and killing unborn life based on the misguided belief that the country’s population must be controlled to achieve economic prosperity.


    The law mandates that couples will not be issued marriage licenses without a “Certificate of Compliance” issued by the local Family Planning Office certifying that they “received adequate instructions and information on responsible parenthood” and “family planning.” The law also forces medical professionals and businesses to provide a full range of “reproductive health services” using taxpayer funds, including contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization services, regardless of conscientious objection. And the RH Law imposes fines or imprisonment on those who engage in one or more “prohibited acts” defined in the legislation, including engaging in “disinformation about the intent or provisions” of the law.


    Dr. Ligaya Acosta, regional director of Asia and Oceania for Human Life International, said that although the delay in implementation only passed by one vote, “it is nevertheless a sweet victory for us, considering the intense pressure placed upon the Court by the Philippine government and the international death peddlers.”


    “We ask for continued prayers for our lawyers, and the enlightenment of our Justices,” she said, “as well as the conversion of the RH Law supporters, and strength and perseverance for all of us in the battlefield.”


    Reprinted with permission from




    "Heed the Call of Consecration", Bishop Urges Faithful



    MANILA, July 10, 2013—A Catholic prelate on Saturday called on the faithful to heed the call of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, saying that an “era of peace” will only be attained if the faithful would listen to this call.


    Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said that refusal to heed the call of the Blessed Mother leads to the preponderance of secular and relative influences that cause violence to reign in the modern times, specifically noting euthanasia, abortion, divorce, same-sex marriage, massacres, poverty, and the total lack of humanity to be all caused by the “atheistic policies” of people in authority.


    “The achievements of the enemy were due to fraud, pressure, and all kinds of trickery…Very clearly, there is a real effort coming from the real enemy of God and humanity to destroy what He has done,” he said. “They are hoping that we will concede in opposing the goliath of our times and start a new trend that the rest of the world will wake up in the (same situation).”


    “But we will not concede,” he said in his homily during the Marian Conference held at the San Carlos Seminary.


    Arguelles noted that members of the clergy are aware of how strong these opposing forces are, but through the trust and confidence they get from the Divine, they are able to surpass the challenges posted against Christianity.


    “Many of my brother bishops are telling me, ‘we could not do much.’ Despite that, we know that God will triumph in this,” he said.



    Heeding the call


    Arguelles noted that being consecrated to the Blessed Mother gives protection against negative influences and brings people closer to the Lord.


    He cited countries who had experienced violence and anarchy and said that through consecration, they were saved and protected by Mary.


    If the current state of the contemporary world is to be assessed, Arguelles said that lasting peace remains nowhere to be found. It is because the people have not yet responded enough to the call of consecration, he added.


    “We have not yet obeyed her counsel to prayer, to conversion, and most especially to consecration. If the whole world will be consecrated, it is promised that there will be an era of peace,” he said.


    He challenged the laity to respond to the call by undergoing conversion aided by prayer and sacrifice, and encouraging others to do the same.


    “The consecration has to have conversion. It has to have prayer and sacrifice. Are we willing to heed her call?” he said.


    “I would like to be part of a nation totally consecrated to the Holy Mother, Jesus, and God. I would like to see still the triumph of the Immaculate Heart in my lifetime. I hope you do also. Let us encourage others to do the sacred consecration,” he added.



    No space for anger, rancor


    Arguelles reminded the laity not to keep deep-seated emotions of anger and rancor to those who do not believe in the same ideals upheld by the Catholic Church, noting that the faithful must understand the situation they are going through.


    “We should not show any resentment against people who work against us—people who do not believe in the love of God and the Blessed Mother, people who cause pain in our country, and who contradict our faith,” he said.


    “We have no reason to have rancor in our hearts and we should never allow anger to enter our minds and our inner selves,” he added.


    Arguelles said that helping others who do not believe to the spirit of Christian faith can be done by praying for them and feeling sympathetic to their needs.


    “Let us show our happiness that there is a mother who cares for us. Let us pray that these people who wound humanity, who probably have experienced hurt in their lives. Let us share with them our joy and give them assurance that our mother is also their mother,” Arguelles said. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)




    Filipino Bishop Warns of Pandora's Box of Social and Spiritual Disasters

    Bishop Gabriel Reyes Says Approval of Reproductive Health Law Will Lead To Other Anti-Life Measures


    MANILA, July 09, 2013 ( - Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo in the Philippines warned of a “Pandora’s box of social and spiritual disasters” stemming from the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Law in the Philippines. Oral arguments on the disputed law are set to begin today in the Supreme Court of the country.


    The RH Law allows for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD) and enforces "sexual education" on children starting at the 5th grade level.


    Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they refuse to provide free services to their employees.


    Bishop Reyes stated during a homily at the Archdiocesan Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Guia, the approval of the law paves the way for euthanasia, not only for the elderly but even children. The Filipino bishop cited how the country of Belgium is now considering a law that would allow minors, who don’t have the right to drink, vote or marry, to decide to end their lives.


    “Aren’t we like animals this way? When a leg gets broken, we just end its life. But we are not animals, we are human beings,” Bishop Reyes said. In explaining the link between the RH Law and euthanasia, Reyes said, a distaste for life in utero, as exemplified by the law, can only open the doors for other anti-life and anti-family laws.


    Reyes, who also heads the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, explained how tenuous the definition of ‘deciding to die’ would be in the case of euthanasia for minors and how the decision to end their lives would probably be made by other older individuals for them.


    “It’s unimaginable…Where will it end?” he asked, noting how the trend of anti-life legislations is quickly advancing to conquer Philippine society and policy-making, beginning with the passage of the RH Law.


    Reyes was clearly troubled by the state of some Western countries without mentioning that since 2005, Netherlands has been euthanizing newborns with birth defects like spina bifida, which causes a deformity in the spine, but which, most often, does not affect intelligence or cognitive skills.


    Concluding his homily, Bishop Reyes told faithful that the only answer to such inhuman practices is to go back to the social teachings of the Catholic Church, which include the protection of all human life and the promotion of human dignity.


    “Ultimately, we have to act according to our conscience. We believe that a correct conscience is one that is in accordance with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church,”



    Statement: 107th CBCP Plenary Assembly


    We, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, look forward to the semi-annual plenary meetings of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) as valued occasions to come together, to renew ourselves for our pastoral ministry and to share with each other about concerns for the people of God in the Philippines. This year, the midyear plenary assembly took place in the first week of July. It started with a spiritual retreat preached by Fr. Francis Moloney, SDB, a Bible scholar from Australia. He impressed on us bishops by his scholarly yet pastoral presentation the importance of the critical reading of the Bible in order that the Word of God may truly animate our task of growing in our spirituality and in the work of New Evangelization. The retreat took place in Betania Retreat House in Tagaytay from July 2-4. The following day, the various episcopal commissions and regional groupings of the bishops met.


    The plenary assembly took place on July 6-8 at the plenary hall in Pius XII Catholic Center. The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, who is the official representative of the Holy Father in the Philippines, opened the assembly by presiding at the opening Mass and by giving us his opening address on July 6. His presence is a reminder that we belong to one world-wide community, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.


    This year’s midyear assembly elected the officials of the CBCP for the next two years. The new president of the CBCP from December 2013 to November 2015 will be Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, and the new vice-president will be Archbishop Romulo Valles, the Archbishop of Davao. New chairmen of various commissions were also elected.


    The CBCP commissions made their reports to the body during the assembly. Some reports touched on the organization and management of the CBCP as an organization, others on the apostolates of the Church such as the mass media, vocations, the coming World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, the liturgy and others. The following pastoral concerns particularly challenged our collective attention on the pressing need for integral faith formation.


    1. The preparations for the International Eucharistic Year which will be held in Cebu in 2016. This is an international event that is celebrated by the entire Catholic Church every 4 years, so it has to be well prepared. The last one was done in Dublin, Ireland in 2012.
    2. The on-going national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary which is being done every first Saturday of the month in all dioceses in the country. It started last month and will end in November, which also closes the Year of Faith. We are entrusting ourselves as a “Pueblo Amante de Maria” to the maternal care of the Blessed Mother in these troubled times of ours.
    3. The forthcoming hearing of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the RH Law. The bishops were updated about the issues involved and prayers and a show of support were solicited from all. We are resolved to do our best to preserve life and the family in our country.
    4. An evaluation of the May elections was done.  We, bishops are very concerned that the safeguards of the Automated Election Law were not sufficiently carried out, that there are many problems on the transmissions of the ERs, that the Comelec is stonewalling on the complaints from many quarters on the conduct of the election, and that many voters were disenfranchised due to confusing voters’ lists. After one experience of the automated election this year’s election should have been better, but it was not. We call for accountability from Comelec officials and demand that the law be followed.
    5. We bishops are dismayed at the massive vote buying and vote selling that is experienced everywhere. The deepening hold of political dynasties is lamentable, although some political families have lost their hold in a number of provinces and cities. We should see how the principles of common good and stewardship are to be better imparted to our people in the political education given to them.
    6. The issues of APECO in Casiguran and the COCONUT LEVY were also presented to the bishops for our better understanding. We bishops are concerned about these issues because they are matters of justice which deeply touch the lives of the poor.
    7. In the commission reports, other concerns were mentioned – such as the continuation of the peace process in Mindanao, the speedy implementation of the agrarian reform program, and the constant protection of the environment.


    We are thankful for the participation and the interest of the bishops during the plenary assembly. We go back to our individual dioceses strengthened by the experience of brotherhood but at the same time challenged all the more in our ministry to be effective bearers and proclaimers of truth, justice, peace and love under the leadership of Pope Francis. We hope and pray, under the patronage of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to work for the growth of our own faith and that of God’s people whom we shepherd in this second half of the Year of Faith under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.




    After the CBCP Plenary Assembly

    July 6-8, 2013

    Pope Pius XII Center, Manila

    Villegas elected CBCP president


    DSC_2873 webMANILA, July 7, 2013— Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan has been named new president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).


    Villegas, current CBCP vice president, will succeed Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma who did not seek for a second term.


    At 52, the protégé of the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin will lead the 96 active and 40 honorary members of the bishops’ collegial  body.


    Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, meanwhile, was elected vice president in elections held at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Paco, Manila on Sunday.


    According to CBCP statutes, Villegas and Valles will take their new posts on December 1, 2013.


    Palo Archbishop John Du was reelected Treasurer.


    The assembly also elected Fr. Marvin Mejia, then assistant secretary general, as Secretary General succeeding Msgr. Joselito Asis who will now return to the Diocese of Daet.


    Villegas was ordained priest by then Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin in 1985. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Manila in 2001.


    In 2004, he was appointed bishop of Balanga diocese before he was named archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan in 2009.


    Valles, 61, was ordained a priest in 1976 before he was appointed as the fourth bishop of Kidapawan in 1997. In 2006, he was named archbishop of Zamboanga until 2012 when he was transferred to Davao archdiocese.


    The CBCP officials have two-year tenure in office, or a total of four to include the second term. If tradition is to be followed, incumbent officials are reelected for their second and last term.


    But Palma yield his CBCP post so he could give more attention to the Cebu Archdiocese which will be hosting the International Eucharistic Congress in 2016. (CBCPNews)




    Pope Approves Date and Theme of International Eucharist Congress
    Event to Take Place in Cebu, Philippines in January 2016

    By Junno Arocho Esteves


    VATICAN CITY, June 12, 2013 ( - Pope Francis has approved the date and theme of the 51st International Eucharist Congress which will take place in Cebu, Philippines in 2016. The Pontifical Commission for the International Eucharistic Congresses stated that they were informed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, on the Holy Father’s approval.


    The international event will be held on January 25th-31st under the theme “Christ in you, our hope of glory” which is taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians. The choice of the Philippines as the next venue for the congress was announced by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during a video message at the conclusion of the previous Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin in June 2012.


    “I would like to invite you to join me in praying for God’s blessing upon the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2016 in the city of Cebu!” Benedict XVI said in the video message.


    “To the people of the Philippines I send warm greetings and an assurance of my closeness in prayer during the period of preparation for this great ecclesial gathering. I am confident that it will bring lasting spiritual renewal not only to them but to all the participants from across the globe.”


    The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines expressed their desire that the upcoming congress will deepen Eucharistic devotion in the country as well as prepare for the 500th Anniversary of the evangelization in the Philippines.


    Located in the heart of the Philippine archipelago, Cebu was discovered by Ferdinand Megellan in 1521 and was received by the indigenous king, Humabon, who shortly after converted to Christianity along with his queen, Juana, and 400 of his subjects. To commemorate the conversion, Magellan gave the queen a statue of the child Jesus (Santo Niño) as well as erecting a cross at the place where they converted. Filipinos commemorate the feast of the Santo Niño on the third week in January.


    “The celebration of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in this Country, the only one with a Catholic majority in Asian continent, is an important challenge to strengthen the missionary/evangelizing perspective as well as for identifying new ways in celebrating the Congresses themselves,” stated a communique by the Pontifical Commission for International Eucharistic Congresses.


    The Pontifical Commission also stated that the theme of the congress wishes to underline the “inherent eschatological tension in the Eucharist offers an impulse in the historical path of Christians.”


    Within the theme of hope, the announcement of the gift of God to the young, of which Asia is very rich, will be recovered as well as the commitment to the ranks of the poor of the continent,” the commission stated.




    Pope Sends Message to Filipino Catholics
    Catholic Leaders Consecrate Nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

    By Junno Arocho Esteves


    MANILA, June 11, 2013 ( - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, sent a message to Archbishop Jose Palma, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines expressing the Holy Father’s closeness to the Filipino Catholics as leaders led a national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.


    The consecration took place in cathedrals, parishes, shrines and chapels throughout the Philippines on Saturday.


    “The Holy Father unites himself spiritually with you on this important occasion, praying that the Most Pure Heart of our Blessed Mother Mary may inspire all Filipinos to devote themselves through her, to Jesus her divine Son,” Cardinal Bertone stated in the message.


    The Vatican Secretary of State also conveyed Pope Francis’ hope that the devotion to the Blessed Mother would lead Filipinos to “appreciate and respect more the value of life in all its stages.”


    “[The Holy Father] hopes that devotion to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, beating in unison with that of her unborn child, may inspire an ever greater appreciation and attention to all human life, from conception through natural death, and lead to greater service to the poorest and the weakest, those who are closest to God himself,” the statement read.




    P1030895 web

     Rome Based Theologian Lauds PH Consecration


    QUEZON City, June 10, 2013—A Rome-based theologian, who was in the country during the national consecration of the Philippines, expressed his admiration for Filipinos’ decidedly Marian faith as seen through the June 8 consecration.


    “Your great faith testifies to the Virgin Mary’s faith in our Lord. If only other countries would do what you’re doing,” Fr. Joseph Leo Iannuzzi said during his homily last June 8 at the Marian auditorium of Miriam College.



    Consecrate your families


    Fr. Iannuzzi, who was in the Philippines to give a theological presentation on the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, also led the consecration rite with other Filipino priests with more than a thousand faithful present.


    At around 10:26 a.m., a few minutes after the simultaneous nation-wide consecration, rain began to pour, leading Fr. Iannuzzi to remark,” Our Lady is very happy that you are consecrating your country!”


    He also said, the Philippines’ consecration to the Immaculate Heart is but a “first step” and that believers are exhorted to consecrate themselves and even their families to bring about “a global reality where [Mary] is honoured by all her children, not just a few.”



    No devotion to Christ without Mary


    Fr. Iannuzzi talked about Mary’s “pivotal place in the economy of salvation”, as described by leading Mariologists, St. Louis de Montfort and St. Maximilian Kolbe.


    Simply put, “there is no true devotion to our Lord without devotion to Mary,” Fr. Iannuzzi of the Gregorian Pontifical University of Rome explained.


    After the holy mass, the act of consecration was recited by the attendees, some of whom came with their families.


    “We have just consecrated your country to the Blessed Virgin Mary and entrusted it to her as well. It is the first step towards the Eucharistic reign of Jesus,” Fr. Iannuzzi said.


    Last June 8 at 10 a.m., bishops and priests simultaneously consecrated the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in all the parishes, cathedrals, shrines and chapels. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]



    Use Holy Water, Scapulars to Ward Off Evil — Exorcist



    QUEZON City, June 10, 2013—Holy water, exorcised oil, salt, scapulars. These are just some things present-day believers should use to protect themselves from evil that seems unnoticed yet all too common, says an exorcist.


    “The devil has been able to roam undetected even to the point that we don’t believe he exists,” Fr. Joseph Iannuzzi, a Rome-based theologian, said during a series of talks last Saturday.



    Fear, anxiety from the devil


    Fr. Iannuzzi, who has been assisting one of the chief exorcists in  the diocese of Rome, Fr. Gabriel Amorth for years, said that Catholics should go back to using sacramentals like holy water, exorcised oil and salt, scapulars and the powerful Benedictine cross.


    Talking to an audience of more than a thousand, he explained how diabolical activity is more commonplace than people like to believe.


    “Any sense of fear or anxiety is an evil spirit,” he said, even daring to say that majority of nightmares is caused by demons.


    “As St. Peter said in his letter, the devil roams the earth, looking for someone to devour,” Fr. Iannuzzi added.


    He advised Catholics to sprinkle their house with holy water if they experience ‘strange happenings’ and to combat nightmares by blessing themselves with holy water before going to bed.



    Power of sacramentals


    Fr. Iannuzzi also recommended using exorcised oil, since it lasts longer. He reminded everyone, however, that only olive oil can be used for this purpose.


    He also warned against overdoing these holy practices.


    “I’m not saying be scrupulous [like] if anyone bothers you, throw [holy water] in their face,” he explained with a laugh.


    For those who have been using the sacramentals, and complain that they do not feel any differently, Fr. Iannuzzi said, often, the proof is precisely that ‘nothing happens.’


    “This is what is keeping your family safe, believe it or not,” he said.


    Sacramentals are sacred objects, actions or blessings that communicate grace to believers through the prayers of the Church. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]




    Pope tells Argentine Bishops to use doc restricting communion for pro-aborts

    VATICAN CITY, May 3, 2013 ( - In a letter to the Bishops of Argentina sent in late March, Pope Francis directed Argentina’s Bishops to govern the Church there following the Aparecida Document


    Although the letter did receive some media attention, few outlets mentioned the stress Pope Francis placed on the Aparedica document.   In the letter, the Pope urged the Argentine Assembly of Bishops to use the Aparecida document as their framework. “These are the guidelines we need for this time in history,” he said. 


    The Aparecida document was first presented in 2007 by then-Cardinal Bergoglio – now Pope Francis -- on behalf of the bishops of Latin America. The document made a very clear statement regarding the consequences of supporting abortion - disallowing holy communion for anyone who facilitates an abortion, including politicians.


    The text states in paragraph 436 that "we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated.  This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals."


    Pro-life activists were thrilled at the election of Pope Francis given his strong defence of life as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.  His decision to bless a child-in-the-womb as one of his first public acts, was also a great sign of hope. Last month, Pope Francis’ Good Friday Stations of the Cross included prayers for conversion for those who promote abortion and euthanasia.



    Pastoral Letter for the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan


    My dear people of God: 


    As responsible citizens of heaven and citizens of our nation, we must face the forthcoming elections always from the viewpoint of faith and with the mind of the Church enlightened by the values of the Gospel. 


    Our Gift 


    What can the Church—bishops, priests and laity gathered by the Spirit of God—contribute to the forthcoming elections?  


    Our best contribution is to PRAY that the Lord of history guide every voter and guide every candidate in the forthcoming exercise of civil responsibility. It is only the Lord who can give us peace during elections. It is only God who can enlighten us in our decision making so that the voice of the people can truly reflect the voice of God. If we cease to be a praying people and lose our link to God, our humanly inspired decisions can only lead to the loss of our soul as a nation. Prayer is the most important untapped resource in nation building often ignored and even ridiculed. The Church must restore the confidence of our citizenry in prayer. Remember EDSA. 


    The Church can also contribute a reverential SILENCE in the forum of public discussion. Silence is the language of God. We must regain our vision to be a contemplative Church and refuse the temptation to be popular and attractive. The silence of contemplation is the only antidote to the insane and ridiculous campaign strategies that we watch. The silence of contemplation is the cure to the disgusting, unreal and chaotic flavour of the election period. The Church can be a prophetic sign of the mystical silence of God in the midst of the cacophony of mud throwing and name calling in campaign platforms. 


    The Church is the CONSCIENCE of society and it must remain so. The beatitudes need to be re-proposed. The Ten Commandments need to be re-injected into the lifeblood of our national conscience. The Catholic social teachings about the promotion of the common good, the challenge of solidarity, the spirituality of stewardship and similar teachings must be taught more vigorously and passionately. The best time to teach these gospel lessons is now as we choose our civil leaders. 


    The Church must be a MOTHER and TEACHER of voters and candidates together. The Church must be a mother and teacher also for all the candidates from opposing political parties. As mother she loves all and refuses no one. As a teacher, she rebukes with love; she corrects with mercy; she guides firmly always celebrating what is right and beautiful among her opposing children. She must be an example of humility in the midst of arrogance. She must be a reminder of the presence of the divine among us.


    Our Boundary


    What must the Church—bishops, priests and laity—not do during this campaign and election period?


    When the Church ENDORSES CANDIDATES in political elections she always ends up a LOSER. The endorsed candidate may win in the votes but the Church never wins with him. In endorsing candidates, the Bride of Christ the Church tarnishes her spiritual mission with the stain of the mundane. The endorsed candidate might win but religion has been reduced to a political party; religion has been used for political gain and our spiritual mission has been compromised. We will be lonesome widows after the elections for marrying partisan politics during the campaign. 


    The Church must refuse to play with the fire of political power or it risks burning herself. The Church does not win when her endorsed candidate wins. The Church should not be perceived as winning or losing an election. The Church must be beyond such. Paraphrasing the Lord in the Gardenof Agony, those who live by the sword will die by the sword. RELIGIONS THAT WALTZ WITH POLITICS WILL DIE BY POLITICS. 


    When elections are PEACEFUL and HONEST, the Church WINS in the elections. When elections are morally credible and losers and winners stay civil and courteous, the Church wins in the elections. When every vote is cast from CONSCIENCE and not from convenience, the Church has truly become the formator of conscience and has shown herself as a mother and teacher faithful and obedient to her Master and Lord. Candidates and voters are children of the Church. Candidates against one another are brothers and sisters in God. 


    The Church must guide and not dictate. 


    The Church must unite and not contribute to the division. 


    The Church must pray and not add to the confusion. 


    The Church must heal and not inflict hurts. 


    The Church must be in the world but not belong to it. 


    Our Guidance 


    How can we your shepherds help you to exercise your civic duty as Catholics? What guidance can the pastors give to the flock entrusted to their care? We your archbishop and priests in Lingayen Dagupan admonish you to examine your candidates diligently in the light of our Catholic faith. We advise you not to vote for the candidates if: 


    1. The candidate cannot declare a categorical and clear NO to divorce, abortion, euthanasia, total birth control and homosexual marriages or D.E.A.T.H issues. Pro choice is anti life. 


    2. The candidate has been linked to drug trade, drug possession or drug use or receives money from illegal gambling or has done nothing to stop illegal gambling especially jueteng. Silence is consent. 


    3. The candidate has been convicted for a criminal offense. Government officials must be honourable. 


    4. The candidate supports black sand mining or tolerates irresponsible quarrying or illegal fish pens. Nature is our mother; if you can rape your own mother, what else will you not do? 


    5. The candidate has not done anything until now to uplift the plight of the poor. Performance is better than promises. 


    6. The candidate is giving money or distributing goods to voters during the campaign period. Vote buying is prostitution. 


    7. The candidate has been involved or linked to terrorism or the use of goons for self protection within or outside the campaign period. Peace is the only way to peace. 


    8. The candidate shows off religiosity only during the campaign period or is antagonistic to church teachings and practices. Corruption and hypocrisy are twins.


    9. The candidate is unfaithful to his or her spouse and children. Corruption begins at home. 


    10. The candidate has other members of the immediate family in government positions already. Promoting family welfare and promoting the common good cannot mix. 


    We submit these guidelines to you and plead with you to bring them to prayer. If Jesus would vote, for whom would he vote? Vote like Jesus. If you cannot find Jesus from among the candidates just make sure you do not make Judas or Barabbas win. 


    If you sell your vote, you sell something sacred; you make yourself a cousin of Judas too. 


    Our Prayer 


    May Mary, Mirror of Justice, whom we tenderly venerate in Manaoag as Our Lady of the Rosary, help you to be good disciples of the Lord and patriotic citizens of our country. 



    From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, April 14, 2013 




    Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan


    Only vote for politicians who oppose abortion, divorce, gay ‘marriage’: Filipino archbishop

    DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines, April 17, 2013 ( - A leading Filipino prelate has issued a pastoral letter encouraging Catholics to support only those candidates in the forthcoming election who "declare a categorical and clear NO to divorce, abortion, euthanasia, total birth control and homosexual marriages"


    Most Rev. Socrates B. Villegas, the archbishop of the archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, said that while the Church does not interfere in elections by endorsing candidates, it does offer guidance to voters to examine the candidates "from the viewpoint of faith and with the mind of the Church enlightened by the values of the Gospel."


    The archbishop offered ten concrete moral guidelines to the faithful in the light of which to consider the candidates, with the admonition that "If Jesus would vote, for whom would he vote? Vote like Jesus. If you cannot find Jesus from among the candidates just make sure you do not make Judas or Barabbas win."


    "We advise you," the archbishop wrote, "not to vote for the candidates if: 1) The candidate cannot declare a categorical and clear NO to divorce, abortion, euthanasia, total birth control and homosexual marriages or D.E.A.T.H issues. Pro choice is anti life.”


    The bishop also warned against voting for candidates who: are linked to the drug trade or illegal gambling; have a criminal record; support environmental degradation; failed to do anything to help the poor; have engaged in buying votes; have been unfaithful to their spouses.


    Explaining that the influence of the Church is outside the realm of politics, Archbishop Villegas wrote, "When the Church endorses candidates in political elections she always ends up a loser."


    "The endorsed candidate may win in the votes but the Church never wins with him," he continued. "In endorsing candidates, the Bride of Christ the Church tarnishes her spiritual mission with the stain of the mundane. The endorsed candidate might win but religion has been reduced to a political party; religion has been used for political gain and our spiritual mission has been compromised. We will be lonesome widows after the elections for marrying partisan politics during the campaign."


    The archbishop said that the Church, which he described as a "mother and teacher of voters and candidates together" as well as "the conscience of society," can best contribute to the elections by encouraging prayer and maintaining "a reverential silence in the forum of public discussion."


    "Our best contribution is to pray that the Lord of history guide every voter and guide every candidate in the forthcoming exercise of civil responsibility," he wrote, adding that, "if we cease to be a praying people and lose our link to God, our humanly inspired decisions can only lead to the loss of our soul as a nation."


    Archbishop Villegas said that "silence is the language of God," and that "the silence of contemplation is the only antidote to the insane and ridiculous campaign strategies that we watch."


    "The silence of contemplation is the cure to the disgusting, unreal and chaotic flavour of the election period," he wrote. "The Church can be a prophetic sign of the mystical silence of God in the midst of the cacophony of mud throwing and name calling in campaign platforms."


    The Philippine general election will be held on May 13, 2013. Complete election information is available on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) website.



    Bishops to Consecrate the Philippines to Mary

    MANILA, April 5, 2013 – Admitting how Filipinos remain ‘a people in love with Mary’, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has decided to hold a simultaneous national consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on June 8.


    Eager for Mary’s guidance, especially during the nine-year preparation for the coming 500th anniversary of Christianity’s arrival in the country, all bishops and priests will consecrate the Philippines to the Blessed Virgin Mary on June 8, at 10 a.m. in all dioceses, prelatures and vicariates.


    In preparation for the consecration itself, catechesis on Marian consecration will be done in the dioceses, down to the parish levels starting May.


    It will feature the 33-day preparation for consecration, as taught by St. Louis de Montfort, who also talked about how an individual’s personal consecration to Mary could be nothing else but a “perfect consecration to Jesus.”


    Digos Bishop Guillermo Afable, Bishop of Digos heads the ad hoc committee to spearhead the national consecration, as designated by the CBCP Permanent Council.


    The Episcopal Commissions on Liturgy and Social Communications and Mass Media, Amb. Howard Q. Dee of Bahay Maria- Assisi Development Foundation, Fr. Yulito Ignacio, and the CBCP General Secretariat will assist Bp. Afable in promoting and planning for the consecration and related pre-events.


    The decision to have a national consecration was agreed upon by the CBCP during its 106th Plenary Assembly last January 28. [Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz]



    The Shroud of Turin Goes Mobile
    Shroud 2.0 iPad App Gives Users Detailed Look into Famed Relic

    By Junno Arocho Esteves


    ROME, March 28, 2013 ( - The Shroud of Turin, the linen cloth believed to be the burial shroud of Christ, has now gone mobile. A new app available for the Apple iPad, Shroud 2.0, allows users to view the Shroud in High Definition as well as obtain information on the different aspects of the relic.


    The Shroud, one of the most well-known and debated symbols of Christianity, bears the image of a man who has suffered scourging and crucifixion, and is believed to be the burial linen used to wrap the body of Christ. Although there is no definitive or conclusive evidence, the Shroud is venerated as a reminder of the suffering Christ endured for all mankind.


    In his 1988 visit to the Cathedral of Turin, where the Shroud is currently kept, Blessed Pope John Paul II reflected on the symbol God’s love portrayed in the linen, describing it as “the mirror of the Gospel.”


    “The Shroud is [...]an image of God's love as well as of human sin. It invites us to rediscover the ultimate reason for Jesus' redeeming death," the late Holy Father said. "In the incomparable suffering that it documents, the love of the One who "so loved the world that he gave his only Son" is made almost tangible and reveals its astonishing dimensions. In its presence believers can only exclaim in all truth: 'Lord, you could not love me more!', and immediately realize that sin is responsible for that suffering: the sins of every human being.”


    The application, which was designed and produced by the Haltadefinizione company, was created in collaboration with the Archdiocese of Turin, the Diocesan Commision for the Holy Shroud and the Museum of the Holy Shroud. The new app is seen as a tool of evangelization to coincide with the Year of Faith.


    Shroud 2.0 allows user to explore details of the Shroud with access to high definition photographs that can zoom into areas that are almost invisible to the naked eye. According to a communique on the application, the high definition photos of the Shroud were taken by Haltadefinizione in 2008. The same technology was used to photograph Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece, ‘The Last Supper’. The digitization process recomposed 1649 snapshots into one single image of the shroud into one single 12 billion pixel image.


    The app, which will be available soon on the Android operating system, will give people the opportunity to view a “Digital Exposition of the Shroud on their iPads. The application offers, for the first time in the Shroud’s history, the most detailed image ever achieved and made available to the general public.


    Shroud 2.0 will be available for download on the Apple App Store on Good Friday, March 29th.



    Pope Francis Names Successor in Buenos Aires
    Bishop Mario Aurelio Poli To Lead Metropolitan Archdiocese in Argentina


    VATICAN CITY, March 28, 2013 ( - In his first appointment as Pope, Francis named Bishop Mario Aurelio Poli as his successor as Metropolitan Archbishop of Buenos Aires.


    Bishop Poli, who once served as auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, was until now serving as Bishop of Santa Rosa.


    Born in Buenos Aires on November 29, 1947, Bishop Poli entered the Metropolitan Seminary of Buenos Aires at the age of 22 and was ordained a priest on November 25th, 1978. He received his doctorate in Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.


    After serving as parochial vicar of San Cayetano parish in Argentina for two years, Bishop Poli served as chaplain of the Servants of the Holy Spirit, as well as director of the San José Vocational Institute and member of the Presbyteral Council of the Major Seminary. He also taught ecclesial history in the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina.


    On February 8th, 2002, Bishop Poli was named titular Bishop of Abidda and auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires. Six years later he was named Bishop of the diocese of Santa Rosa. He currently serves as President of the Episcopal Commission for Catechesis and Biblical Pastoral.



    Preparations Under Way for Pope Francis' Inaugural Mass
    Delegations Representing 132 Countries Expected to Attend

    By H. Sergio Mora


    VATICAN CITY, March 18, 2013 ( - Tomorrow morning, Pope Francis will mark start of his pontificate with the Inaugural Mass of the “Beginning of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome” in St. Peter’s Square.


    “In the past it was called the Pope’s enthronement, which might have been alright then, but not now, as he is not a king,” said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office. Fr. Lombardi, who held a briefing today at the Holy See’s Media Center, was accompanied by Msgr. Jose Maria Gil Tamayo, the Spanish-speaking spokesman, and Fr. Thomas Rosica, the English and French-speaking spokesman.


    As of now, delegations representing 132 countries will be present at the mass. Father Lombardi stressed “that the Holy See does not issue invitations, and anyone who wishes to attend can do so.” If a Head of States wishes to come he can do so.”


    After the Mass, the leaders of the delegations will have the opportunity to greet Pope Francis in front of the main altar.


    Prior to the Mass, the Holy Father will leave Domus Sanctae Marthae in the morning and will greet pilgrims either in the popemobile or a vehicle of his choice. Then, at 9:15 am he will go to the sacristy,which is near the statue Michelangelo's Pieta, to prepare for the Mass there which will begin at 9:30 am.


    The ceremony will begin at Saint Peter’s tomb, under the main altar, and will take place in the Square which, according to tradition, is where Saint Peter was martyred in what was then Nero’s Circus.


    “From the sacristy, the Pope will go to Saint Peter’s tomb. Then he will go to the crypt under the altar accompanied by patriarchs, and some ten heads of Catholic Eastern Churches, four of whom are cardinals,” Fr. Lombardi said.


    In the crypt will be the symbols the Holy Father will receive during the Mass: the ring of the Fisherman, the pallium and the book of the Gospels. They will then go up in procession to the door of the Basilica and go out to the square where the Mass will be celebrated.


    At this time the “laudes Reges” litanies will be sung. “An interesting aspect is that many saints will be invoked, in particular saints who were Popes; the litanies end with Saint Pius X. Not invoked are the Blessed, who are so many,” Fr. Lombardi said.


    “The pallium is the lamb’s wool that is placed around the chest and back. It signifies the Good Shepherd who seeks the lost sheep. It has red crosses because he gives his life for them, and they recall Christ’s wounds. The metropolitan archbishops also have the pallium, but with black crosses,” added Msgr. Gil Tamayo.


    The Cardinal proto-deacon, Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, who announced “habemus papam” last Wednesday, will invest the pallium on the Holy Father. It is identical to Benedict XVI’s. This will be followed by a prayer. The dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, will then give Pope Francis the ring.


    Also known as the Ring of the Fisherman, it is called thus “because Saint Peter was a fisherman; it recalls the biblical text of the miraculous catch when Jesus made him fisher of men. It will have the figure of Peter with the keys of the fisherman. It is the work of a famous Italian artist, Enrico Manfrini. It is made of silver plate,” Fr. Lombardi said.


    The concelebrants will include all the cardinals who are in Rome, the Eastern patriarchs and archbishops who are not cardinals, the secretary of the College of Cardinals, two priests, and the generals of the Franciscans and the Jesuits. There will be no other concelebrants.


    The ceremony will end with the promise of obedience, which will be made by six cardinals, one of each Order, although they already made this promise no sooner the Pope was elected. There will be no representatives from other ranks of the clergy, who instead will make the promise in “Saint John Lateran,” the Cathedral of Rome.


    After these rites, the Mass will celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph, patron of the Church. There will be no readings related to the new Pope or the government of the Church.


    On this occasion the Gospel will be proclaimed only in Greek. At Easter, for instance, the singing is in Latin and Greek, which represent the two dimensions of the life of the Church.


    The offerings will not be taken in solemn procession, and the Pope will not distribute Communion personally. This will be done by deacons and 500 priests in Saint Peter’s Square. “Aspects of simplicity mean that the Mass will not be too long – some two hours, perhaps,” The Holy See Press Office director specified.


    The singing will be done by the choir of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel, under Maestro Massimo Palombella, and by the Pontifical Academy of Sacred Music. Maestro Palombella pointed out that during the Offertory there will be music composed by Pierluigi de Palestrina for the occasion of a new pontificate. And it is called “Tu es pastor ovium,” you are the shepherd of the sheep. The Mass will end with the singing of the “Te Deum,” part in Gregorian and part polyphonic. There will be no Angelus as on Sundays.


    On Wednesday, the Pope will receive the Christian delegations in the Clementine Hall. Among them will be top level representatives, such as patriarch Bartholomew, Catholic Armenian Karekin II and metropolitan Hilarion of the patriarchate of Moscow.


    Attending the Mass also will be 16 members of the Jewish communities, including of the Rabbi of Israel, as well as a Muslim delegation, Buddhists and other creeds.


    Pope Francis’ coat of arms will be the same episcopal coat of arms he had as archbishop of Buenos Aires.




    Pope Francis has ‘high hopes’ for Filipinos

    CBCP News

    MANILA, March 14, 2013— The new pope of the Catholic Church is banking on the Filipinos in preserving and extending the ideals of Catholic faith in the world.


    Manila Archbishops Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that no other than Pope Francis told him after the conclave about his optimism for the Catholic Church in the Philippines.


    “When I approached Pope Francis to assure him of the closeness and collaboration of the Filipinos, he said, ‘I have high hopes for the Philippines. May your faith prosper, as well as your devotion to Our Lady and mission to the poor,” Tagle said.


    “What a compelling message from this humble man of God! All praise and glory to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” he said.


    Tagle, who is currently in Rome, is the lone Filipino out of the 115 cardinal-electors in the two-day conclave that elected Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio as the new pope.


    “Let us join the whole Church and the world in thanking God for His special gift in the extraordinary person of Pope Francis,” he also said.


    “I thank you for your fervent prayers for the Cardinal electors. We never felt alone even for a moment. Your love sustained us,” added Tagle.


    Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope and the first pontiff from outside Europe in over a thousand years.


    In Manila, the Philippine Province Society of Jesus said the cardinals have chosen a pontiff “with long experience” in serving the people in Argentina.


    “[He’ is a man with a heart very much concerned for the needs of the poor and disadvantaged, and whose manner of life is touched by great simplicity and faith,” said Fr. Jose Magadia, SJ Provincial Superior.


    “We are grateful for his generosity and spirit of service to assume the heavy burden that goes with his office in these difficult times.”


    “We certainly pledge him our prayers and filial support, and wish him grace, wisdom and strength as he assumes this new mission,” he said. (Roy Lagarde)




    Events on Francis' Schedule
    Will Pray Midday Angelus With Faithful on Sunday; No Audience Wednesday


    VATICAN CITY, March 14, 2013 ( - The Vatican press office announced the schedule for some of Pope Francis' first activities in the coming days.


    On Friday, 15 March, at 11:00am in the Clementine Hall he will meet with the full College of Cardinals, electors and non-electors, in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace. As Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Holy See Press Office spokesman, noted, this will be a familial gathering, with the Pope personally greeting each of the cardinals.


    On Saturday at 11:00am in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope will hold an audience with accredited journalists (permanent and temporary) and those who work in the media.


    On Sunday, 17 March at 12:00pm, he will recite the first Angelus of his papacy from the papal apartments overlooking St. Peter's Square, as is customary.


    On Tuesday, 19 March—the Feast of St. Joseph, patron of the Church—the Mass to inaugurate the new papacy will be held at 9:30am in St. Peter's Square. No tickets will be issued for that Mass. All who wish may attend.


    On Wednesday, 20 March, he will hold an audience with fraternal delegates representing the heads of the various Eastern rite Churches so there will not be a General Audience.




    Pope Francis Visits Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome
    Newly Elected Pontiff Gives Bouquet of Flowers to Blessed Mother

    By H. Sergio Mora


    ROME, March 14, 2013 ( - Pope Francis’ first non-official act outside of Vatican City this morning was delivering a bouquet of flowers to the Virgin.


    He placed it at the feet of the image of Santa Maria Salus Populi Romani (Protectress of the Roman People), also known as the Virgin of Snows. Pope Francis knelt for 10 minutes and concluded with the singing of the Salve Regina together with those who accompanied him.


    The visit took place in Saint Mary Major, one of the four papal basilicas located in Rome. It was a simple bouquet, with a blue orchid in the middle and several flowers of various kinds.


    The newly elected Pontiff entered via the sacristy at around 8:00 am, crossed the central nave from the back of the church to the front. The church was empty, as the doors had not yet been opened to the public.


    After praying in the Pauline or Borghese Chapel, he went to the opposite Chapel, still closed to the public for restoration. He paused a few moments to pray there before the tomb of Pope Saint Pius V, the Pope of the battle of Lepanto. On leaving he greeted those working in this church, men and women religious , security staff and others. “I’m Mexican,” a nun said to him. “And Guadalupan also, no?” Pope Francis responded.


    “I also greeted him,” another Mexican nun pointed out to ZENIT. “And then I said to him: I am Mexican and Guadalupan, and the Pope smiled. I don’t recall exactly what he said to me because I was very moved,” she said.


    According to tradition, the icon or painting of the Virgin Salus Populi Romani “was painted by the Apostle Saint Luke,” although art scholars date it to the 7th century, and make references to the processions at that time with the icon of the Virgin, although it was probably repainted in the 12th century. She was crowned by Pius XII in 1954, and Benedict XVI paid homage to her on several occasions.


    The well-known Marian icon of the World Youth Days is a copy of the Salus Populi Romani icon, and, in keeping with John Paul II’s wish, accompanies university students worldwide on pilgrimage with the invocation Sedes Sapientiae.


    This afternoon, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in the Sistine Chapel along with the Cardinal electors.

    --- --- ---
    On ZENIT’s Facebook page:

    To see Vatican Radio’s photos of the Holy Father’s visit to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, go to:




    Pope Francis' 1st Words

    VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2013 ( - Here is a translation of the brief greeting Pope Francis gave from the central balcony of St. Peter's Square following his election as the Successor of St. Peter.


    * * *



    Brothers and sisters, good evening!


    You know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as though my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get him. But here we are. I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome has a bishop. Thank you!


    Before all else, I would like to say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may watch over him …


    [Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory be]


    And now let us begin this journey, [together] as bishop and people. This journey of the Church of Rome, which is to preside over all the Churches in charity. It is a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust between us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the world, so that a great brotherhood may be created. I hope that this journey of the Church, which we begin today and in which my Cardinal Vicar who is present here will assist me, will be fruitful for the Evangelization of this beautiful city.


    And now I would like to give you my blessing. But before I do, I would like to ask you a favor: before the bishop blesses the people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that He bless me…. the prayer of the people for a blessing upon their bishop. Let us take a moment of silence for you to offer your prayer for me.”


    [Silence … the Holy Father bows]


    [Cardinal N. says … “The Holy Father, Francesco …”]


    “Now I will give you my blessing and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.”


    [Pope’s blessing]


    Brothers and Sisters,


    I leave you now. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me. And we’ll see one another again soon. Tomorrow I want to go to pray to the Madonna, asking her to watch over Rome. Good night and have a good rest.




    Francis Has Spoken With Pope Emeritus
    And Journalists to Be Among First to Have Papal Audience


    VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2013 ( - According to the director of the Vatican press office, Pope Francis has spoken with his predecessor and they hope to meet in the coming days.


    Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi briefed journalists within an hour after Francis gave his first apostolic blessing to the faithful.


    Among the information given by Father Lombardi was the news that the Pope had spoken with Benedict XVI and that the two hope to meet in the next few days.


    Fr. Lombardi also announced that Francis will meet with the cardinals (electors and non-electors) on Friday morning.


    The next day, Saturday morning, he will meet with journalists.


    The Mass for the inauguration of his pontificate is scheduled for March 19, next Tuesday, the feast of St. Joseph.




    Fr. Lombardi: Pope Francis Gives Testimony of Simplicity
    "We Have a Pope Who Wants to Serve"


    VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2013 ( - Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is already well known for his simplicity: for being a pastor among the people, a cardinal who takes the bus and cooks for himself, for example, and a great defender of the poor. Now as Pope, he has begun with simplicity.


    “To pray the simplest prayers with the people is the greatest sign of simplicity,” observed his fellow Jesuit, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in reference to Pope Francis’ leading the people in the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be during his first appearance on St. Peter’s central balcony.


    Fr. Lombardi acknowledged his surprise at the election, and declared this is a “moment of joy for the Church.” He went on to speak of Cardinal Bergoglio-Pope Francis’ style of “evangelical testimony” and stressed his humility, evidenced in how he bowed down before the people, asking them to pray for God’s blessing upon him, prior to giving his first apostolic blessing as the Successor of St. Peter.


    Fr. Lombardi also noted his pastoral style, immediately applied to his new diocese, the Diocese of Rome.


    The Vatican spokesman said it was an act of courage for the cardinals to “go across the ocean and choose a Pope.” Pope Francis is the first pope from the Americas.




    In fact, he was immediately acclaimed as a pope of many firsts: the first Jesuit pope, the first pope of the Americas, and also the first to choose the name Francis.


    Father Thomas Rosica of Canada’s Salt and Light Television, who has been assisting Father Lombardi during the time of the interregnum, spoke of his choosing the name Francis as a sign of humility.


    He recounted that Cardinal Bergoglio had asked him for prayers prior to the conclave, explaining that he was a little nervous.




    Fr. Lombardi went on to speak about the Pope’s vocation as a Jesuit. The spokesman referred to their order as one “known for serving.”


    The role of the Successor of St. Peter is also one of service, he said, reflecting that Cardinal Bergoglio has probably accepted his new mission in that vein, with the simplicity of a servant.


    “St. ignatius has formed us to have a view of the world, attentive to answer to necessities in the world we live in,” Father Lombardi said, highlighting especially faith and justice as “the greatest gift for our fellow man.”


    “I see it [the papacy] as a call to service from the part of [Cardinal] Bergoglio, that results from a strong call and not in the search of the power of authority,” Father Lombardi added. “In this sense I am absolutely convinced we have a Pope who wants to serve.”




    Pope Francis Begins Pontificate Leading Faithful in Prayer


    VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2013 ( - Pope Francis' first moments as the 267th Successor of St. Peter were characterized by prayer. He arrived to the central balcony of St. Peter's at 8:22 local time, gazing upon the cheering crowds for two minutes before calling out, "Good evening!"


    During his 12 minutes on the balcony, he led the faithful in praying an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He also bowed in a moment of silence, inviting the faithful to pray God's blessing for himself just before he imparted his own apostolic blessing, his first blessing to the city and the world.


    Before leaving the balcony just after 8:30 local time, he told the faithful he wanted to ask for the intercession of Our Lady.


    Jorge Bergoglio was born Dec. 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He was ordained a Jesuit priest on Dec. 13, 1969. He was created cardinal by John Paul II in 2001.



    Argentinian Pontiff Elected by Conclave
    Correspondent Reports From St. Peter's Square

    By Ann Schneible


    VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2013 ( - The crowds gathered in Saint Peter's Square this evening exploded with excitement as the white smoke billowed from the roof of the Sistine Chapel, signaling the election of Pope Francis, the 267th pontiff of the Catholic Church.


    This being only the second day of the Conclave, there was a sense that the decision would not be made this evening. When the white smoke plumed from the chimney, therefore, the pilgrims burst into applause, moving as far forward as possible so as to be close to the façade of the basilica. The rain, which had drummed St. Peter's Square for hours as pilgrims waited for the signal, slowly ceased after the election was signaled. All eyes were turned to the loggia as those gathered in the Square waited to learn who would be new Holy Father.


    After more than half an hour, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran stepped forward and delivered the announcement, in Latin, that the Conclave had chosen Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and that he had chosen the name Francis.


    The crowds began to chant "Francesco! Francesco!" as they waited for the new pope to come out onto the loggia. Although there was an air of impatience, there was no sense of agitation from the crown: merely an eagerness to meet Pope Francis I.


    When he finally came to the loggia, the crowds erupted into cheers. He asked that those gathered, and all those participating in this moment through modern media, take a moment of silence and pray for him. The entire Square, which has been non-stop noise for days, fell silent.


    Then, Pope Francis gave his first blessing, and wished everyone a good night.

    Cardinals to Begin Conclave on Tuesday, March 12
    Date Set During Afternoon Session of General Congregation

    By Junno Arocho Esteves


    VATICAN CITY, March 08, 2013 ( - In a communique released this afternoon, the Holy See Press Office has announced that the eighth General Congregation of the College of Cardinals has decided that the Conclave will begin on Tuesday, March 12.


    "A 'pro eligendo Romano Pontifice' Mass will be celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning. In the afternoon the cardinals will enter into the Conclave," the communique stated.


    Prior to the announcement of the date, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office briefed journalists on the General Congrgations held yesterday and today.


    In a gesture that was applauded by the journalists present, Fr. Lombardi began his briefing by giving a bouquet of flowers to a female journalist, while greeting all women present on the occasion of International Women’s Day.


    Yesterday evening, the sixth General Congregation took place in the afternoon and was attended by 151 Cardinals. Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man, metropolitan archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Cardinal Adam Joseph Maida, archbishop emeritus of Detroit, Michigan, USA, who is a non-elector, arrived yesterday and swore the oath. With Cardinal Pham Minh Man’s arrival, all 115 cardinal electors are finally present for the Conclave. Fr. Lombardi also stated that 16 interventions were delivered.


    At this morning’s seventh General Congregation, the first order of business was to recognize the reasons of absence of two cardinal electors, as is indicated in n.38 of the Apostolic Constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis”.


    According to the Constitution, “All the Cardinal electors, convoked for the election of the new Pope by the Cardinal Dean [...]are required, in virtue of holy obedience, to obey the announcement of convocation and to proceed to the place designated for this purpose, unless they are hindered by sickness or by some other grave impediment, which however must be recognized as such by the College of Cardinals.”


    “In this case there are two absences: Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, S.J., archbishop emeritus of Jakarta, Indonesia, for health reasons and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, ex-archbishop of Edinburgh, Scotland, for personal reasons,” Fr. Lombardi said. “The College voted to accept the absences for the reasons presented.”


    Cardinal Sodano presented to the congregation the recently modified article of the Apostolic Constitution made by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in a “Motu Propio” prior to his resignation.


    The “Motu Propio” states: “I furthermore decree that, from the moment when the Apostolic See is lawfully vacant, fifteen full days must elapse before the Conclave begins, in order to await those who are absent; nonetheless, the College of Cardinals is granted the faculty to move forward the start of the Conclave if it is clear that all the Cardinal electors are present; they can also defer, for serious reasons, the beginning of the election for a few days more. But when a maximum of twenty days have elapsed from the beginning of the vacancy of the See, all the Cardinal electors present are obliged to proceed to the election.”


    “Since all the expected Cardinal electors are now present the College can now prepare to decide the date of the Conclave, including whether to move the date up from 15 days after the beginning of the period of the Sede Vacante,” Fr. Lombardi stated.


    Fr. Lombardi stated that the cardinals commented on an online prayer initiative called “Adopt-a Cardinal”. Currently, over here 362,000 people have subscribed to pray, at random, for a cardinal.


    Among the issues discussed by the General Congregation this morning were inter-religious dialogue, contemporary culture, bioethics, justice in the world, the importance of the Church in a proclaiming a positive message of love and mercy, and collegiality. Fr. Lombardi stated thus far, over 100 cardinals have intervened a more are expected to speak in the upcoming congregations this evening and tomorrow morning.


    Fr. Lombardi concluded his briefing by showing journalists a video provided by the Vatican’s CTV of the Domus Santa Martha, where the cardinals will take up residence during the conclave. The cardinals’ rooms will be assigned by lot drawn during the Congregations.


    “No cardinal chooses who will be his neighbour nor which room they would prefer,” Fr. Lombardi stated. The video also showed the suite where the newly elected Pontiff will stay while the papal apartments are unsealed and renovated.




    Benedict XVI to Be Referred to as "Roman Pontiff Emeritus" After Resgination
    Fr. Federico Lombardi Gives Details on Final Days of Pontificate

    By Junno Arocho Esteves


    VATICAN CITY, February 26, 2013 ( - In a press briefing today at the Vatican, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, answered what many have been asking since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation: What will his name be after he resigns?


    "After he resigns, the Holy Father will be known as 'His Holiness, Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus or Roman Pontiff Emeritus,'" Fr. Lombardi said. The Holy Father will dress in a simple white cassock without the mozzetta, the elbow length cape worn by popes. Satisfying the curiosity of many journalists, Fr. Lombardi added that the Holy Father has chosen to wear simple brown shoes which were given to him during his Apostolic Visit to Leon, Mexico, last year, and will not wear the traditional red shoes.


    The director of the Vatican Press Office stated that over 50,000 tickets had been requested for the Holy Father's final general audience tomorrow morning, although he stated that thousands more are expected to attend. With the exception of the tour around the square in the popemobile and the exclusion of the brief personal greetings after the address, the audience will take place as normal.


    Fr. Lombardi also confirmed that the exclusion of the personal greetings, or bacciamani, was not due to security concerns, but simply because there were too many people who wanted to greet the Holy Father personally.


    After the general audience, Pope Benedict XVI will head over to the Clementine Hall and meet with several local and international dignitaries. Among them will be the presidents of Slovakia and Bavaria, and the co-prince of Andorra.


    On the final day of his pontificate, the Holy Father will meet with cardinals who are present in Rome for the upcoming conclave. In the afternoon, the Holy Father will make his way to the heliport where he will bid farewell to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, as well as the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.


    The Pope will then fly to the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo where he will be received by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, the president and secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State, respectively. Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano and civil authorities of Castel Gandolfo are also expected to be present. The Holy Father will then greet the faithful present from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace.


    At 8:00 pm, when the time of Sede Vacante officially begins, the Swiss Guards, who are assigned to protect the Roman Pontiff, will take their leave. However, Fr. Lombardi said, the Vatican Gendarmerie will take over as Pope Emeritus' safety detail.


    Fr. Lombardi also confirmed that Benedict XVI will no longer use the Fisherman's Ring, and instead will use an episcopal ring. The task of destroying the ring along with the lead seal of Benedict XVI's pontificate will fall to the Cardinal Camerlengo and his assistants.


    After the Sede Vacante begins, Cardinal Sodano will send a letter to all the cardinals on March 1, summoning them to Rome for the conclave. Most likely, Fr. Lombardi said, "that the congregations will begin next week."




    Pope Benedict XVI Issues 'Motu Proprio' on Conclave
    Addresses Clarifications on Rules of Election for Next Roman Pontiff

    By H. Sergio Mora


    VATICAN CITY, February 25, 2013 ( - Pope Benedict XVI has issued an apostolic letter published today, called a motu proprio (Latin for “on one’s own initiative”), that addresses some changes to the rules on the election of the Roman pontiff.


    The 'Normas Nonnullas' (‘Some Norms’) were explained to accredited journalists at the Vatican pressroom by the Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, and by Bishop Pier Luigi Celata, currently vice-chamberlain. Two persons helped with translations and clarifications into various languages, the Spanish Bishop José Maria Gil Tamayo and the Canadian priest Thomas Rosica.


    "I find this motu proprio of great wisdom and great juridical and ecclesial communion" said Bishop Pier Luigi Celata, presenting the motu proprio of Benedict XVI that "was published to clarify some points of the Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregi".


    "This is the second intervention by the pontiff", said the vice-chamberlain, specifying that “the first was in 2007, when the pontiff decided to change the number of the majority needed to elect a new pope, which passed from half of the votes plus one to two thirds of the votes of the cardinal electors".


    Among the most relevant contents of the document is the possibility to change the date of the conclave. The constitution states that it must be held 15 to 20 days after the vacant see begins. "The motu proprio specifies that the college of cardinals is allowed to anticipate this date if all the electors are present in Rome, and is also allowed to postpone it in case of serious events."


    Another point made by the papal document is that if the number of cardinals is not divisible by three, or a multiple of three, dividing two-thirds of the votes to elect the pontiff becomes mathematically more complicated. Therefore, to avoid any confusion, it indicates that "at least two-thirds of the votes of the electors present and voting" is required.


    These may seem like small things, the prelate said, but "when you move at the juridical level, the greatest precision is always necessary."


    Of secrecy on all matters relating to the election of the Roman pontiff, the document recalls how the oath states that cardinals are required to maintain it. Unlike the constitution, the document "provides that a violation of the same will result in the next pope deciding the canonical penalty. Instead, at present this responsibility does not fall to his successor, since the oath directly indicates the canonical penalty that is applied to the offending cardinal. That is, latae sententiae [automatic] excommunication".


    The document also indicates that a cardinal may have personal reasons for not participating in the conclave. And that a cardinal who, before the start of the conclave, excludes himself, cannot re-enter the Sistine chapel. The vice-chamberlain affirmed that "it is different if one is sick, for example, and then feels better and goes. In that case he can then enter the conclave and participate from the point it has reached. That is, it is not necessary to start the whole conclave over from the beginning."


    The motu proprio also addresses the two trusted technicians involved during the election of the future pontiff before or after the voting process. Should either of them not maintain secrecy, they incur "graviter onerata coscienza"(a “heavily burdened conscience”), as do all the participating collaborators.


    "As we can see, the Pope has wanted to give attention to all aspects", said Bishop Celata.


    The motu proprio also addresses another problem related to secrecy, that is, preventing the Cardinals from being approached during their transport from their lodgings at the Domus Santa Marta to the Sistine Chapel. The new text removes “while being transported”, which means that the journey can also be made by the cardinals on foot and thus they do not necessarily have to be transported.


    There were formerly two people counting the votes in the conclave and who handle the ceremonials, now there are eight. And the procession that takes place from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel will be a bit more solemn. There are other indications given as well, such as those involving the coordination of some moments of the conclave, as for instance when some of those present are invited to leave.


    Another indication is that the Missa Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice, celebrated by the whole body of the cardinals, will be presided by the dean of the cardinals.

    [Translation by Peter Waymel]




    Vatican Press Office Director Confirms Details of Pontiff's Final Week
    Fr. Federico Lombardi Also Clarified Several Issues Regarding Conclave, Media Speculations


    VATICAN CITY, February 21, 2013 ( - Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, today presented information related to the Holy Father's calendar and clarified several issues that have been raised in the past few days. Also present at the briefing was Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, CEO of Canada's Salt & Light TV, who was personally asked by Fr. Lombardi to assist with press relations.


    Fr. Lombardi gave details on the Holy Father's last week as Supreme Pontiff before the resignation goes into effect Feb. 28. Currently the Pope, along with the Roman Curia, is attending the Lenten spiritual exercises led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. At the conclusion of the exercises this Saturday, the Holy Father will address those present. Later on, Pope Benedict will meet privately with Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic.


    On Sunday, the Holy Father will address the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the final Angelus address of his pontificate. On Wednesday, thousands are expected to attend the Holy Father's final General Audience in St. Peter's Square. As of now, over 30,000 people have requested tickets for the audience. The Holy Father will greet participants in the Popemobile at the end of the audience. Fr. Lombardi also denied reports that there will be liturgy of the Word, saying the audience will follow the same format as prior General Audiences.


    On the final day of his pontificate, Pope Benedict will personally greet all the cardinals present in Rome though the Holy Father will not be delivering an address. At 5:00pm, the Holy Father will greet Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State in the San Damaso Courtyard, before arriving at the Vatican heliport where he will bid farewell to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and fly to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo.


    Upon his arrival, the Holy Father will be received by the president and secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City, along with the mayor of Castel Gandolfo and several civil authorities. The Pope is expected to greet the faithful present from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace.


    Clarifications on Molto Propio, Media Speculations


    Fr. Lombardi confirmed that the date of the conclave, which has been the subject of much speculation in the media, is established solely by the congregation of cardinals during the time of Sede Vacante.


    Also, there is still no confirmation as to whether Pope Benedict will release a Motu Proprio prior to his resignation. The document could specify some details regarding the conclave as regulated by the Apostolic Constitution "Universi Dominici Gregis."


    The director of the Holy See Press Office also denied an alleged report that a possible decision on the definition of relations with the Society of St. Pius X would be made tomorrow. The Holy Father, he said, "has decided to entrust the matter to the next Pope."




    Holy See Offers Rare Glimpse of Vatican City to Journalists
    Pope's Future Home an Ideal Spot for Prayer and Reflection

    By Junno Arocho Esteves


    VATICAN CITY, February 21, 2013 ( - Millions of people from all walks of life have descended on Rome to see Pope Benedict XVI before the Feb. 28 end of his papacy. Ever since the announcement of his resignation, curiosity as to where the Holy Father will live, where the cardinals stay during a conclave, and many more details have been on everyone's mind.


    The Vatican press office and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in the hopes of satisfying everyone's curiosity, offered journalists a rare glimpse into Vatican City State and the areas pertinent to this momentous occasion in the Church's history.


    Entering Vatican City State through the Petriano Gate, one passes from the noise of cars, motorcycles and ambulances to peace and quiet. It's difficult to remember that the seat of the Roman Catholic Church is located in the heart of Rome's bustling streets. Upon going down the road behind St. Peter's Basilica, the first thing one notices is the relative calm, tranquility and above all, silence, which is quite difficult to find in the center of Rome.


    It is an ambiance that echoes the mission of the Church in the World: tranquility in the midst of chaos, peace in the face of tribulation, the presence of God in the world of man.


    Casa Santa Marta


    The first stop in the tour was the Casa Santa Marta where cardinals participating in the conclave will reside. The modern edifice is a far cry from the living quarters of the 1978 conclave that resulted in the election of Blessed John Paul II.


    Cardinals at the time were housed in a cramped building near the Sistine Chapel. Several years before his death, Pope John Paul II ordered the construction of Casa Santa Marta, a modern building that offers the cardinals a more relaxed atmosphere for their most important duty in the Church.


    The building is also fitted with an electromagnetic cap. The cap cuts off all cellular network signals to prevent contact with the outside world, which is strictly prohibited during the period of the conclave. The building is within walking distance of where the prelates will vote for the new pontiff. The road is also used during visits by dignitaries; the cardinals will walk from Casa Santa Marta and pass through several archways and courtyards, before reaching the Sistine Chapel.


    Palazzo del Governatorato


    Traveling up toward the Vatican Gardens we find the Palazzo del Governatorato, which is where the administrative offices of the territory of Vatican City State are located.


    The Palazzo, which was built in the 1800s, served as a guesthouse for kings and dignitaries who would stay there during visits. After the Lateran Treaty in 1929, the building was repurposed as the seat of governance of Vatican City State.


    Santa Maria Mater Ecclesia Monastery


    After the Holy Father's announcement, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, announced that upon his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI will live a life of 'prayer and reflection' in a monastery located within Vatican City.


    While the area is off limits to visiting tourists, the Vatican offered journalists a rare glimpse of the monastery where Pope Benedict XVI will reside. Located near the main headquarters of Vatican Radio, the monastery is a tranquil area with a breathtaking view of Rome and the cupola of St. Peter's Basilica.


    The Santa Maria Mater Ecclesia Monastery once housed 8 cloistered nuns from 8 different nations. Now vacated, workers are busily working to prepare the building for the soon to be retired Pontiff. Surrounded by pathways and gardens, Benedict XVI will have an ample, quiet area where he can truly dedicate himself to 'prayer and reflection.'


    Grotto of Lourdes


    Further down from Benedict XVI's future residence is the grotto of Lourdes, a replica of the area where Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. The Holy Father has a particular fondness for this area located some yards from the Apostolic Palace. The Pope, accompanied by his secretary, would go almost daily to the Grotto of Lourdes to pray the rosary.


    Interestingly enough, the Holy Father announced his resignation on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes.


    Despite knowing full well the personal attacks he would face, Pope Benedict XVI resigned out of love for the faithful. One cannot help but recall the words of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette on February 15, 1858, which surely comfort the Holy Father in this time: "I promise to make you happy, not in this world, but in the next."




    Philippine Bishops' Conference President Downplays 'Last Pope' Prophecy

    Archbishop Jose Palma Says Church Is Always in the Hands of God


    MANILA, February 19, 2013 ( - Contrary to doomsday prophecies, the Catholic Church will continue for many more years, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said.


    Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, the current CBCP president, stated that there is nothing to fear about the “last pope” scenario as prophesied by St. Malachy following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.


    “Even if the Pope resigns or in times of succession, the Church is always in the hands of God,” Archbishop Palma said. “The Church has been here for the past 2,000 years and we’re [still] here and we’re increasing.”


    St. Malachy, the archbishop of Armagh who was canonized in 1190, supposedly predicted that the next pontiff would be the last and the Judgment Day will follow.


    In his prediction, dated 1139, St. Malachy claimed that there would be 112 more popes from his time to the Apocalypse. Benedict is supposedly the 111th pope.


    Archbishop Palma said that Benedict XVI will be missed but the Church will endure and will continue its mission.


    He stressed that Benedict XVI’s resignation should not be viewed as something negative because the pontiff resigned for the good of the universal church.


    “There are big challenges and while we feel that it’s a great loss in the sense that he is a great pope, still to us we are challenged to believe that the Church is in the hands of God,” said the CBCP president said.



    Archbishop Ganswein Plans to remain Prefect of Papal Household

    VATICAN CITY, February 14 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Archbishop Georg Ganswein will move with Pope Benedict XVI when he retires on Feb. 28, but he also intends to retain his role as head of the Papal Household.

    “The Pope will be accompanied to Castel Gandolfo and also to the monastery by Archbishop Georg and the Memores Domini, because this is the fundamental nuclear group of the pontifical family.”

    “He will also remain the head of the Papal Household. And the future, the future is in God’s hands,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the press on Feb. 14.

    The Memores Domini are four consecrated women in the Communion and Liberation movement who assist in running the Papal Household.

    Fr. Lombardi was asked later if Pope Benedict might be able to influence the new Pope through the archbishop and if this presented a conflict of interest.

    “I think that the prefect of the Papal Household has a competence that is not so much of government, doctrine, or decisions on a governmental level.

    “It’s a very practical competence about the audiences of the Pope,” the Vatican spokesman said.



    Nun Describes Simplicity of Pope's Retirement Monastery

    MADRID, SPAIN, February 14 (CNA/EWTN News) .- One of the nuns that lived in the monastery where the Pope will retire says his choice shows his “great simplicity” because it “is not a work of art or comparable with other Vatican buildings.”

    “His decision to retire has surprised me, but he is very brave, although he is fragile and elderly,” said the nun from the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, who requested anonymity because of her cloistered life.

    “But this decision is proof that he has a very lucid mind,” she stated, adding that “our self love does not allow us to see our own limitations, contrary to what Pope Benedict has done.”

    “If I loved him before,” she declared, “now I love him even more.”

    The sisters led a simple life with no staff. They spent their time praying and, for their 400th anniversary, the nuns made making liturgical vestments for Pope Benedict to donate to poorer churches.

    “One week before we left he asked us: ‘what will the Pope do without you?’ and he asked us to keep praying for him,” said the nun.

    “His decision has made us cry, but he has been very brave,” she added.

    The monastery, called Mater Ecclesiae, is 4,300 square feet and lies just west of St. Peter’s Basilica.

    It contains a chapel, a choir room, a library, a semi-basement, a terrace and a visiting room that was added in 1993.

    When Pope Benedict XVI announced on Feb. 11 that he was going to resign from the papacy and live in the convent, speculation began to circulate about when he made his decision, since renovations began in Nov. 2012.

    According to the Spanish nun, who currently resides in a convent in Madrid, the building had not been refurbished in 18 years and needed minor repairs.

    “We had humidity in the basement, the windows needed changing, and the terrace on top needed fixing and painting because of past snow,” she explained.

    “But the building is very small, so they had to wait for us to leave to begin working on it.”

    Reflecting on her experience living in the Vatican convent, the Visitation nun said she and her fellow religious felt intensely that they “were the heart of the Church.”

    “It was an experience that is very hard to put into words.”

    Their mission was to pray for the Pope, for his trips, and accompany him in prayer on a daily basis.

    The Spanish nun recalled how Pope Benedict would often thank them for their prayers and regularly checked up on their general well-being.

    He originally wanted French nuns to live in the monastery, she explained, but due to the small number of vocations in France he decided it would be better to pick them from Spain.

    The monastery was established in 1994 by Blessed John Paul II as a place dedicated solely to prayer for the Pope, his ministry and the cardinals.

    The order of the Visitation of St. Mary was picked from among many other religious groups to live in the monastery from Oct. 7, 2009 until Oct. 7, 2012.

    Their stay was extended for 15 days and they left the monastery on Oct. 22, just after Bl. John Paul’s feast day.

    The seven sisters all came from convents in Spain, but one was from Colombia and another from Equatorial Guinea.



    Benedict XVI Celebrates Last Public Liturgy
    Cardinal Bertone Says Pope's Resignation Is Reminder That Church Belongs to Christ

    By Kathleen Naab


    VATICAN CITY, February 13, 2013 ( - As the faithful cheered, applauded and wiped away tears, a tranquil and slightly smiling Benedict XVI gave blessing after blessing as he processed out of St. Peter's Basilica at the end of his last public Mass.


    The applauding lasted for long minutes at the end of Mass, but the Holy Father did not add any further extemporaneous greeting, only saying "Grazie" as he called the faithful to the final prayer.


    He did mention his resignation during the homily, saying simply, "Tonight we are great in number around the tomb of the Apostle Peter, also to request his intercession for the Church's journey at this particular time, renewing our faith in the Supreme Pastor, Christ the Lord. For me it is a good opportunity to thank everyone, especially the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, as I prepare to conclude my Petrine ministry, and ask for a special remembrance in prayer."


    Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state and the cardinal camerlengo, at the end of the Mass, thanked the Holy Father for a ministry he described as bringing God to men and men to God.


    "We would not be honest, Your Holiness, if we said that this evening there is not a hint of sadness in our hearts," Cardinal Bertone said. "In recent years, your teaching has been a window open onto the Church and the world, which let in the rays of truth and love of God, to enlighten and warm our journey, even and especially at times when clouds gathered in the sky."


    The cardinal added, "All of us have realized that it is precisely the deep love that Your Holiness has for God and the Church that prompted you to make this act, revealing that purity of mind, that strong and demanding faith, that strength of humility and meekness, along with great courage, that have marked every step of your life and your ministry, and that can only come from being with God, from standing in the light of the word of God, from continuously going up the mountain of encounter with Him to descend again into the City of men."


    Great lesson


    Cardinal Bertone also suggested that the Holy Father's decision to resign highlights the awareness that the Church belongs to Christ.


    "The Church is always renewed, always reborn," he said. "Serving the Church in the firm knowledge that it is not ours, but God's, that it is not we who build it but He; being able to say in truth: 'We are useless servants. We have done no more than our duty' (Lk 17:10), trusting completely in the Lord, is a great lesson that you, also with this difficult decision, have given not only to us, the Pastors of the Church, but to the entire People of God."


    Cardinal Bertone concluded his statement thanking God "for the path that the whole Church has walked under the guidance of Your Holiness and we want to tell you from the depths of our heart, with great affection, emotion and admiration: thank you for giving us the shining example of a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord, a worker, however, who knew at all times how to do that which is most important: to bring God to men and to bring men to God."


    What's left


    On Thursday, the Holy Father will meet in Paul VI Hall with the clergy of the Diocese of Rome.


    On Friday, he will meet with the president of Romania; Guatemala’s president and the Italian Senator Mario Monti will be granted audiences on Saturday.


    On Sunday, the Holy Father will begin a week of spiritual exercises, as is customary during Lent. This year the retreat will be preached by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.


    The spiritual exercises end on Feb. 23; the Pope will offer a brief reflection to conclude them.


    His final Angelus reflection will be Feb. 24. The general audience of Feb. 27 will be his last public appearence.


    On his last day as Pontiff, Benedict XVI will meet with cardinals in the morning, and then at 5 p.m. be taken by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo.


    At 8:00 p.m. on Feb. 28 the See of Peter will officially become vacant.


    --- --- ---

    On the Net:

    Full text of Pope's homily:

    Full text of Cardinal Bertone's address:



    Dean of the College of Cardinals Expresses 'Sense of Loss and Total Disbelief' at Pope's Resignation

    By Junno De Jesus Arocho Esteves


    VATICAN CITY, February 11, 2013 ( - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, conveyed his "sense of loss" and "total disbelief" at Pope Benedict's announcement that he would be resigning the See of St. Peter at the end of the month.


    "Allow me to tell you, in the name of this apostolic cenacle - the College of Cardinals - on behalf of these your dear colleagues, let me tell you that we are closer to you than ever, as we have been in these eight luminous years of your pontificate," Cardinal Sodano said.


    Reflecting on the beginning of the Holy Father's papacy, Cardinal Sodano admired the Pope's resolve when first elected as Supreme Pontiff.


    "On April 19th, 2005, if I remember correctly, at the end of the Conclave I asked you, with trembling voice, 'Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?', And you did not take long - albeit with trepidation - to respond by saying that you accepted, trusting in the Lord and in the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church," he said.


    "Like Mary, that day you gave your "yes" and thus began your luminous pontificate following in continuity, that continuity of which you have spoken to us so much in the history of the Church, in continuity with your 265 predecessors in the Chair of Peter, in the course of two thousand years of history, from the Apostle Peter, the humble fisherman of Galilee, up to the great popes of the last century, from St. Pius X to Blessed John Paul II."


    Cardinal Sodano said that before the Holy Father officially resigns on February 28th, the College of Cardinals as well as the faithful will have "the opportunity to better express our feelings." The Dean of the College of Cardinals also said that during this month, the faithful will have the joy of listening to the Pope on Ash Wednesday, on the Thursday's meeting with the clergy of Rome, as well as the Angelus addresses on the coming Sundays. Such moments, he said, will give the faithful "many opportunities still to hear your fatherly voice."


    "Your mission, however, will continue: you have said that you will always be close to us with your testimony and your prayer. Of course, the stars in the sky shine forever and so there will always shine in our midst the star of your pontificate. We are close to you, Holy Father and bless us," Cardinal Sodano concluded.




    Citing health reasons, Pope Benedict announces he will resign

    Pope Benedict XVI greets the crowd as the arrives to make remarks at the end of a Mass for the Knights of Malta in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Feb. 9. The pope announced Feb. 11 that he will resign at the end of the month. (CNS/Paul Haring)


    By Carol Glatz and Cindy Wooden
    Catholic News Service

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Saying he no longer has the strength to exercise ministry over the universal church, Pope Benedict XVI announced Feb. 11 that he would be resigning at the end of the month after an eight-year pontificate.

    "After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," the pope told cardinals gathered for an ordinary public consistory to approve the canonization of new saints.

    Pope Benedict, who was elected in April 2005, will be the first pope to resign in more than 600 years.

    He told the cardinals, "In today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

    Jesuit Father Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told journalists at a briefing that the pope's decision was not prompted by any medical illness, but was due to a natural "decline of strength" associated with old age.

    Even though the announcement had caught almost everybody by surprise, it was not a snap decision, but rather one that "had matured over the past few months," Father Lombardi said.

    The pope made his announcement in Latin from a pre-written text during a morning ordinary public consistory where a large number of cardinals were present.

    When he delivered his announcement, the pope seemed very "composed, concentrated" and read "in a solemn manner" in keeping with the importance of what he was saying, Father Lombardi said.

    Fulfilling the canonical requirement, Pope Benedict solemnly declared to the cardinals, "Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. Peter, entrusted to me by the cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of St. Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."

    It is up to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, to make preparations for a conclave to elect a new pope.

    Father Lombardi said after the pope steps down, he will move to the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome. He will stay there until the renovation is completed of a cloister, set up by Blessed John Paul II, which is located inside the Vatican Gardens, he said.

    The pope will then live in the cloister, called the Mater Ecclesia monastery, and dedicate his time to prayer and reflection, the Vatican spokesman said.

    It was likely the pope would keep writing, he added, since the pope has mentioned many times that he has wanted to spend more time dedicated to study and prayer.

    When asked if there would be any confusion over leadership or a schism were a possibility, Father Lombardi said he believes the pope "had no fear of this" happening because he clearly demonstrated his desire to step down and no longer be pope or retain any papal authority.

    "I think in no way is there any risk of confusion or division" in this respect, he said.

    The pope, who is past the age allowed a cardinal to vote for a new pope, will obviously not be part of the conclave that will convene to elect his successor, he added.

    He is not likely to play any role in the "interregnum" or time between popes because "there is no role for a predecessor pope" during this period, the priest said.

    The Jesuit priest said a "sede vacante" usually lasts less than a month, and that it was more than likely a new pope would be elected in time to lead the full schedule of Holy Week and Easter liturgies.

    Cardinal Sodano, who was one of the many cardinals present during the pope's announcement, addressed the pope, telling him the news left them with "a sense of loss, almost completely incredulous."

    However, it was obvious that his decision was based on a "great affection" for the well-being of the church, the cardinal said.

    Father Lombardi said being a pope today is "much more fast-moving, more demanding" than it was in the past with an almost nonstop full schedule of public and private events and liturgical celebrations.

    When asked why the pope chose Feb. 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, as the day to announce his stepping down, Father Lombardi said most likely the date was a coincidence, and that the pope instead chose an event -- the ordinary public consistory -- where a large number of cardinals would be present.

    "The pope chose this significant occasion with the gathered cardinals" as the best moment to announce his plans, the Vatican spokesman said.

    When asked whether the pope had any medical illnesses or bouts of depression that may have prompted his resignation, Father Lombardi said the pope was "absolutely not" depressed and possessed a remarkable "spiritual serenity" and composure despite the many difficult moments he has had to face as pope.

    The Vatican spokesman also said he was not aware of any medical illness that would have caused the pope to step down, rather it was due to a "normal" deterioration of physical and mental strength that comes with old age.

    The pope has increasingly had trouble walking in the past year, often using a cane and always being assisted getting up and down steps. However, the Vatican has never released medical information that would make it appear the pope suffers from anything other than joint pain connected to his age.

    The option of a pope to resign is explicitly written into the Code of Canon Law. It says a pope may step down, but stipulates that the decision must be made freely and "duly manifested." No one needs to formally accept a pope's resignation for it to be valid.

    The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415.

    Pope Benedict had long said it would be appropriate for a pope to resign for the good of the church if the pontiff felt he were unable to physically bear the burden of the papacy.

    In his book-length interview, "The Light of the World," with German journalist Peter Seewald, the pope said, "If a pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign."

    The pope told the author that it was important, however, that the pope "must not run away" and "must stand fast and endure" any difficult situations that are facing the church. For that reason, he was not thinking of resigning in 2010 -- the year the interviews were conducted.

    "One can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on," the pope had said.

    Before ending his remarks during the consistory, Pope Benedict told the cardinals: "I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the holy church to the care of our supreme pastor, our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the cardinal fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new supreme pontiff."

    The pope said, "I wish to also devotedly serve the holy church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer."

    Father Lombardi said he felt "great admiration" for the pope's "great courage" and "freedom of spirit" in making this decision. The spokesman said it shows the pope is not only fully aware of the great responsibilities involved in leading the universal church, but his hopes that "the ministry of the church be carried out the best way" possible.



    Papal Twitter Account Surpasses 2 Million Followers in Two Weeks
    First Tweets from Pope Benedict XVI Sent After Last Wednesday's General Audience


    VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2012 ( Pope Benedict XVI's Twitter account, @Pontifex, has surpassed two million followers since the account was opened two weeks ago. The first Papal tweets were sent out in eight languages moments after his General Audience last Wednesday.


    In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said that the Holy Father wanted to be present in the latest platforms of communication to share with them "words of truth."


    Despite the 140 character limit for tweets, Archbishop Celli reiterated the statement he made at the press conference announcing the new account, stressing that it "is not so much the number of characters available but the depth of the words he uses."


    The Archbishop told Vatican Radio that we could all stand to re-learn how to communicate using words "that always have a profound significance for others." Archbishop Celli also noted that with the more than 140 million people actively on Twitter, 40% of them between the ages of 18-34, the social micro-blogging site would give the Holy Father an opportunity to dialogue with them.


    "The Pope and the Church want to be where men and women are speaking together because not only are they sharing information, they’re also sharing a bit of themselves," Archbishop Celli said.


    The President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication also said that the Church must do all it can to bridge the "digital divide" in Africa and certain areas of Latin America and Asia where access to social media is greatly limited.



    Statement of the Archdiocese of Manila

    The vote in favour of the RH Bill in Congress is unfortunate and tragic. But we do not take it as a defeat of truth – for truth shall prevail, especially the truth about human life, marriage and the family. We thank and commend the Representatives of Congress, the Church people, organizations and citizens who worked hard and tirelessly in a variety of ways to expose the flaws of the RH bill, to form consciences and to contribute to the search for the common good. This vote leads us to further commit the Church, specifically the Archdiocese of Manila to the service of the poor, of the family, of women, of infants and children. We will work harder to promote the sanctity of human life and of the human person, the integral education of the youth, the access of the poor to social and medical services, the preservation of the true meaning of marriage, and stewardship of creation. We call on all Filipinos to work towards healing, and journey together humbly and justly as children of God.

    Archbishop of Manila

    Philippine Bishops Hang on to Hope

    MANILA, Dec. 13, 2012— It was a knock down but definitely not yet a knockout.


    Despite the “reproductive health” bill’s approval on second reading at the House of Representatives, Catholic bishops are hoping the measure will be rejected in its third and final reading next week.


    Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Archbishop Oscar Cruz said Malacañang and its allies may have scored a point but the final passage of the RH bill remains to be seen.


    “Like in the sport of boxing, there was a knockdown but not yet a knockout,” Cruz said.


    “Hope is something that we should have because in despair we always lose. We are always hopeful that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” he said.


    Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani also said that the approval of the substitute bill in the Lower House has triggered the Church to exert more effort to campaign against it.


    “We will see who gets the knockout punch,” Bacani said. “This has awakened a new consciousness in our people.”


    Voting 113-104, Congress moved the RH bill a step closer to passage into law.


    But Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said the pro-RH bill lawmakers may have won with a slim margin “but the fight is not yet over.”


    “We will also continue the fight in other fora: the Supreme Court and in the level of individual conscience,” Oliveros said.


    “The fight for life will never be over. We are fighting for the unborn, for the women and for our future as a nation,” said Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo.


    Cruz then called on the more than 60 lawmakers who were absent during Wednesday night’s session to attend on the final voting of the measure.


    “Whether they can help or not (the Church), it’s their obligation to go there (and vote) and not to abstain. Playing safe is not the way of the courageous,” he said.


    The archbishop also lauded the 104 lawmakers who voted against the population control measure “notwithstanding political pressures and financial gains.”


    “That means that a good number of our lawmakers still have a good conscience and conviction,” he said. (CBCPNews)

    House Approval of RH Bill, "Tragic"


    MANILA, Dec. 13, 2012— Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle has described as ‘tragic’ this morning’s vote by the House of Representatives to approve the “reproductive health” (RH) bill.


    Lawmakers voted by 113-104 in favor of the controversial population control measure on second reading through nominal voting that lasted for some five hours.


    Aside from promoting the use of artificial contraceptives, the measure also imposes a condition, which according to critics, discriminates poor people.


    In Section 2, the bill states that “The State shall also promote openness to life, provided that parents bring forth to the world only those children that they can raise in a truly humane way.”


    “The vote in favor of the RH bill in Congress is unfortunate and tragic,” said Tagle in a statement issued this morning before he left for Vietnam for the meeting of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.


    The head of the Philippine Catholic Church’s most influential archdiocese, however, stressed that the RH bill’s approval will not change the truth.


    “We do not take it as a defeat of truth – for truth shall prevail, especially the truth about human life, marriage and the family,” said Tagle.


    As the Aquino administration is aggressive in pushing the measure, he said the Church will also continue to teach the sanctity of human life.


    “This vote leads us to further commit the Church, specifically the Archdiocese of Manila to the service of the poor, of the family, of women, of infants and children,” the cardinal said.


    “We will work harder to promote the sanctity of human life and of the human person, the integral education of the youth, the access of the poor to social and medical services, the preservation of the true meaning of marriage, and stewardship of creation,” he added.


    The archbishop also lauded the lawmakers, lay people and organizations who “worked hard and tirelessly in a variety of ways to expose the flaws” of the measure “to form consciences and to contribute to the search for the common good.”


    Other Catholic bishops also said that they will continue their campaign against the RH bill, which now moves to third and final reading next week.


    Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, former CBCP president, said, “whatever is God’s will be done, whoever wins or whoever loses, God’s will be done.”


    Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado, for his part, called on the faithful “to be more vigilant and responsive to the ways of the Holy Spirit.”


    “(The Holy Spirit) who can transform (initial) setbacks into more lasting and life-giving though surprising outcome,” he said.


    He also rallied the people to have faith and take courage as “we continue the struggle for life.”


    Over in the Diocese of Balanga, Bishop Ruperto Santos said, “the fight is not yet over.”


    He said they will continue to “inform the people, pray harder for their enlightenment and be touched by God.”


    He added they “will not be discouraged (by the passage of the RH bill) and go on resisting it.”


    For Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro Arigo, he described the exercise as “money over principles, convenience over morality.”


    “We have to do a lot of forming an informed and correct conscience,” the 74-year old prelate said.


    In Mindanao, Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo is still hoping that President Benigno Aquino III will abandon the divisive RH bill and concentrate more on nation building instead.


    “Let’s focus all our resources in improving social services and fighting corruption,” Bagaforo said.


    “Nothing is lost if the RH bill is forgotten, and everyone stands to gain if we unite and remain pro-life,” he concluded.


    Surigao Bishop Antonieto Cabajog described the voting as a “close call” and a “good wake-up call for the Church to really preach the Gospel in season and out of season.”


    In Samar, Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez also said his diocese would continue to educate the people about the “ill effects” of the RH bill.

    (RL and Melo Acuna/CBCPNews)



    CBCP to Lawmakers:  Be Not Afraid


    MANILA, Dec. 12, 2012— The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to the members of the House of Representatives who are against the reproductive health (RH) bill: Be not afraid.


    According to CBCP president Archbishop Jose Palma, the lawmakers should not be afraid of fighting for what is right and moral amid pressure from those pushing the population control measure.


    “Amidst the many voices trying to influence the outcome of your deliberations, I call upon you in the words our Lord first said to Abraham, ‘Do not be afraid!’” Palma said. “Listen to what God is saying.”


    The CBCP head also appealed on lawmakers to stand by the truth and not by their political parties as they vote on the controversial measure on Wednesday.


    The archbishop of Cebu said no less than Pope Benedict XVI has already appealed to legislators on how to handle measures concerning basic human rights.


    “These involve such things as the right to life, the right of married couples to found a family according to their religious beliefs and moral convictions, and to be the primary educators of their children,” he said.


    “Here, as elsewhere, the truth must be the basis of the law rather than the result of legislation,” said Palma.


    Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life, claimed that Malacañang is pressuring lawmakers to favor the passage of the RH bill.


    “We appeal to our legislators to rise above their party politics and resist the pressure of Malacañang. In the end, you shall be held accountable to God and to His people,” Castro said.


    The members of the Lower House have agreed to vote on the fate of the RH bill today.


    Several bishops are expected to go to the House of Representatives to watch how lawmakers will vote on the measure.


    Proponents of the RH bill said they welcome the presence of the bishops inside the plenary hall but warned against intimidating solons.


    But according to Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, their presence in Congress is meant to show support to “pro-life solons” and not to intimidate anyone.


    He also said that solons should have nothing to be afraid of with the presence of Church leaders if they have nothing to hide and if their consciences are clear.


    Zambales Rep. Milagros Magsaysay, a vocal critic of the measure, said the presence of the bishops is a boost to anti-RH bill lawmakers.


    She said that while they are threatened by Malacañang through the withholding of their congressional pork barrel allocations, the presence of church leaders would somehow compensate for it.


    “Our problem here is that we are up against a very powerful bloc… the party that provides funding for most of politicians in the country,” Magsaysay said.


    “If the CBCP comes in full force, we are more motivated because we see that the Church is behind us as it will give us the necessary boost to vote with conviction,” she said.


    Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle also called for a prayer vigil beginning Tuesday night at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the unborn, in Makati City.


    “He (Cardinal Tagle) personally invites everyone to go to the Shrine for the vigil and/or the Masses,” said the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila (RCAM) in a brief statement.


    The overnight vigil runs until Wednesday with Masses at 6 am, 8 am, 12 noon, 5 pm, 6:30 pm and 8pm. Tagle will lead the 12 noon Mass at the Shrine. (CBCPNews)



    Bishop Calls All Faithful to December 12 Mass, Congress Watch

    MANILA, Dec. 10, 2012—Life and family advocates gear up for Wednesday, December 12, as they respond to the call of Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL), to unite in prayer at a noontime Holy Mass before proceeding together to Batasang Pambansa to support pro-life lawmakers as House Bill 4244 is put to a vote.


    “Let us come together to offer our continued prayers for the non-passage of the RH bill through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with some bishops on December 12, 2012, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” the prelate announced in a statement addressed to all the faithful, to Diocesan Family and Life Directors in the Ecclesiastical Province of Manila and nearby arch/dioceses, Family and Life organizations, MAPSA, and lay religious organizations and associations.


    The Mass will be offered at St. Peter Parish Shrine of Leaders, Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City at 12:00 noon.


    After meeting with pro-RH and pro-life House members and discussing the fate of the controversial measure last Wednesday, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte committed to December 12 as the date the bill would be put to a vote.


    The period of amendments on the RH bill has so far seen most of the proposed amendments shot down by principal author Albay Representative Edcel Lagman and by pro-RH solons via nominal voting.


    The amendments included moves ensuring government’s respect for the people’s religious freedom, assistance for pregnant women and their unborn babies by way of referrals to adoption centers, deletion of a clause that showed discrimination against the poor, ensuring the voluntary requirement as far as beneficiaries of RH services are concerned, and confining free birth control supplies and services to married couples. Each of these proposed amendments was rejected.


    Fr. Melvin Castro, ECFL executive secretary, said that aside from hundreds of life and family advocates who will be making the trip to St. Peter Parish on Wednesday, some pro-life legislators are also expected to attend the noontime Mass.


    “In a way it’s also a blessing and prayer to them before they go to Congress to vote,” Castro was quoted as saying.


    In his letter announcing the Wednesday activities and inviting all the faithful to participate, Reyes also said that a procession going to the House of Representatives together with the Bishops will follow immediately after the Eucharistic celebration.


    Everyone is encouraged to come in red. (CBCP for Life)




    All Roads Lead to Lipa Cathedral on December 8


    MANILA, Dec. 8, 2012— Thousands of people are expected to converge at the San Sebastian Cathedral in Lipa City for the formal launching of the “Total Consecration Movement” (TCM) today.


    Organizers said the event, coinciding with the feast of the Immaculate Conception, will be highlighted with a Mass to be presided by Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles at 5:00 pm.


    The Total Consecration Movement (TCM) is a multi-sectoral organization backed by many bishops, which calls for the total consecration of the “Filipino nation to Jesus through Mary.”


    Led by Marie Borromeo Cancio, the TCM, according to her, is a response to God’s call for the lay faithful to pray as one nation.


    “The TCM hopes to reenergize the Christian faith especially among baptized Catholics who have drifted away and or are no longer practicing their faith as a response to address the social ills of the country that is currently hemmed in by poverty, corruption, violence, calamities and vendetta,” Cancio said.


    Besides Arguelles, the TCM — which was started in the 18th century by St. Louis Marie de Monfort — is also supported by Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, CBCP President and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, and former Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo. (CBCPNews)




    Bishop uses ‘text blast” vs RH bill

    MANILA, Dec. 4, 2012— As lawmakers tackle amendments to the reproductive health (RH) bill, a Catholic bishop is utilizing text messaging against the measure.


    Kidapawan Bishop Romulo dela Cruz said he has been sending multiple messages to large number of people asking for prayers that RH bill will not be passed.


    “I keep sending text messages to as many friends as I can asking them to pray and offer sacrifice so that our congressmen will vote according to the stand of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,” dela Cruz said.


    Other dioceses are also storming heaven with prayers so that the RH bill, which seeks to control the country’s population, will not be passed.


    Naval Bishop Filomeno Bactol said efforts in his diocese continue to convince local government officials that the RH bill is not the answer to poverty.


    “We raise our hands to heaven and pray that our congressmen will vote against the RH bill,” Bactol said. “We are praying for our congressmen that they will get the grace from heaven to think for the future.”

    Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, meanwhile, expressed fear that Malacañang will use pork barrel of lawmakers to pressure them to vote for the RH bill.


    “I am afraid also that Malacañang might use the pork barrel… that lawmakers might not be given their pork barrel when they vote against the RH bill,” he said. (CBCPNews)



    Filipino Bishops: 'Use Weapons of Prayer and Fasting Against Reproductive Health Bill'
    President Aquino Attempts to Push For Passage Before End of Term


    MANILA, DEC. 4, 2012 ( The political struggle in the Philippines for the Reproductive Health Bill" gets to the heart of the matter, the document which is intended to introduce measures in the country such as abortion, artificial contraception, sex education, family planning methods. The bill, which is fully supported by President Benigno Aquino, for more than two years has found the firm opposition of the Catholic Church and pro-life groups that define the measure "anti-life", saying that it "contradicts the protection of life and existing family in the Constitution of the Philippines".


    President Aquino today invited members of the House of Representatives belonging to his political coalition to pass the bill as soon as possible, even in a week. Juan Ponce Enrile, President of the Senate, the other branch of Parliament, said that Aquino’s pressures will not be followed because, according to the procedures in force, the bill must pass through the Assembly three times before being voted, the more so because it is a very sensitive issue.


    According to Fides Agency, Aquino intends to push for the bill to pass before the end of his term in 2016, bequeathing the country the peace agreement in the southern Philippines and a very important law on ethical issues, such as "The Reproductive Health Bill."


    The Catholic Church has invited all the faithful to use "the weapons of prayer and fasting against the measure." In a note sent to Fides Agency, Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo and President of the "Commission for the Family and for Life" of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) called on Christians to "pray and fast today and in the following days so that our lawmakers do not approve the bill."


    "We ask God to protect life, family, marriage and the youth in our country," Bishop Reyes said. The Bishop of Antipolo also said the CBCP requests that, should there be a vote in Parliament, the voting procedure has to be "open and nominal" and not a secret ballot, so that "people know how they voted their representatives."



    House Plenary Hall Opens 3rd Floor Gallery to Accommodate Overflow of Pro-lifers

    MANILA, Dec. 3, 2012—Some 500 life advocates representing different parishes, dioceses and schools trooped to the House of Representatives today to show their disapproval of plans to pass the reproductive health (RH) bill, which was reported to take place today after Malacanang and President Benigno Aquino III’s allies met to discuss the measure.


    Present to show their pro-life stand and to support the anti-RH legislators are pro-lifers from the archdiocese of Lipa, the dioceses of Novaliches, Antipolo, Malolos, and Paranaque; representatives of the Basilica Minor of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo; and members of Couples for Christ – Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL), Alliance for the Family Inc., Knights of Columbus, and UP for Life; and students and faculty members from the University of Asia & the Pacific (UA&P).


    An insider revealed that security personnel had been earlier advised to open the doors of the third floor galleries due to the expected arrival of hundreds of concerned pro-life citizens, who had been enjoined to be present during legislative proceedings. (CBCP for Life)




    Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle Returns to Philippines After Consistory
    Expresses Gratitude to Filipino People for Prayers and Support


    MANILA, NOV. 29, 2012 ( Fresh from his elevation to the College of Cardinals during the consistory, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila arrived back to the Philippines today.


    The Cardinal was welcomed by Church officials, members of the clergy, friends and members of the media, together with officials of the Manila International Airport Authority.


    In a press conference held at the airport terminal, the Cardinal thanked all the Filipinos who gave their support and offered prayers for him.


    Cardinal Tagle recounted to members of the press the sentiments of Filipinos who said that they feel the grace of God for the Church and the Filipino faithful. "I attest that the grace and recognition is not just for me but for my family, for our archdiocese of Manila and for our Church in the Philippines," the cardinal said.


    The Filipino prelate recalled as well the unforgettable experience in Rome when he celebrated mass for the Filipino community at the Basilica St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.


    "I thought the basilica will not be full but during the procession at the start of the mass, Cardinal Tagle said."I was in awe to see the basilica is full of Filipinos, particularly the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). We can see the striking faith in the hearts of our OFW’s for the Church and for our country."


    Cardinal Tagle also took questions from the media regarding the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) Bill that has been a subject of much debate in the Philippines. The proposed legislation would allow for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill would also enforce "sexual education" on children starting at the 5th grade level.


    On the issue of the RH bill, Cardinal Tagle stated that he is also a Filipino bishop and the opinion of the bishops in the country is not different from his opinion on the issue.


    Meanwhile, when asked about the upcoming elections, he reiterated that those who will be running must think about the interest of everybody, not just the candidate’s personal interest and the interest of a small group.


    The newly created Cardinal also requested that the candidates pray and discern if the job or task of a public servant is for them, so that the motivation of running for public office is purified.


    Cardinal Tagle will over several thanksgiving Masses next week for those who have supported and prayed for him.




    Life Advocates Ready to Affirm Stand, Support  for Anti-RH Congressmen

    MANILA, Nov. 28, 2012—Hundreds of supporters of anti-RH lawmakers filled the galleries of the House of Representatives’ plenary hall yesterday, responding to the previous day’s reports of unexpected maneuvering by proponents of the controversial reproductive health (RH) bill which ended in a speculated aversion to nominal voting as regards the measure.


    Apparently irked by the prospect of the P3.6 billion bill being pushed into approval by its authors – obviously ignoring persistent opposition by family and life advocates, childhood development experts, medical specialists and faith-based groups – red-garbed concerned citizens from the diocese of Antipolo, the Minor Basilica of Black Nazarene in Quiapo, and UP for Life trooped to the Batasan Pambansa to make their presence felt and boost the anti-RH movement further for the legislators to see.


    The passage of the RH bill will be bad for the country, said Ma. Corazon Soriano and Jill Jimenez, both of whom made the trip from Antipolo without a moment’s hesitation after hearing of developments during Monday’s session.


    “Bad talaga. It will be bad for our country,” Soriano, an educator, reiterated. Even the grade school-aged members of her family understood enough to regard a measure that includes comprehensive sex education as something undesirable, she related.


    “One of them wrote a letter and asked me to edit it. It just said, ‘Please don’t let [the RH bill] pass because it will just destroy us, the children,” Soriano said, explaining that the letter was meant for the decision-makers in government.


    The Lower House on Monday accepted amendments to House Bill 4244 by substitution as the new one under consideration, through viva voce voting. Viva voce (live voice) voting refers to voting by speech – saying “aye” or “nay” (yes or no) instead of by written or printed ballot.


    Seconds later, after Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia made a motion for nominal voting, ALAGAD Party-List Representative Rodante Marcoleta moved for adjournment.


    Deputy Speaker Crispin Remulla hence declared session adjourned till the following day.


    Nominal voting refers to a scheme in which lawmakers cast their votes one by one and will be allowed to explain their votes on the bill.


    Reactions were instantaneous when the incident reached social media, expressing incredulity over the idea of lawmakers voting anonymously regarding a controversy-ridden measure like the RH bill.


    The amendments made on the RH bill were played up in the media, with proponents saying that these were made to pacify demands of those opposed to HB 4244. Analysts from pro-life advocacy groups, however, as well as Church officials have remained firm in their anti-RH position after studying the substitute RH bill, citing the presence of the same unacceptable principles.


    “Even though it limits the giving of free RH care, services, and supplies to the poor and marginalized, this does not make the bill acceptable because it is wrong to promote contraception and give free contraceptives, whether to the rich or the poor,” said Antipolo Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes, who also heads the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL), in a press conference.


    “We would like to reiterate that our aim in objecting against the HB4244 is to protect not only the good of Catholics but the good of all, Catholics and non-Catholics,” he explained.


    Even the pro-life forces present at the Lower House yesterday brushed off the possibility of accepting the substitute bill.


    Hindi pa rin! You know, the essence [of the original version] is still there,” Soriano said.


    Huwag na nila kaming lokohin. Huwag nang mag-lokohan, especially since Lagman said that he wants the essence of the bill to still be there. What kind of amendments would those be?”


    Yesterday’s session was adjourned at shortly past 5:00 p.m. without the RH bill being tackled. The pro-life supporters, however, composed mostly of lay individuals with a few religious sisters, vowed to come back in droves and continue demonstrating the strong anti-RH sentiment with their presence. (CBCP for Life)




    Bishop to Support Lay Initiative for Catholic Vote

    MANILA, Nov. 28, 2012—Lipa Archbishop Ramon C. Arguelles expressed his support for initiatives of the laity to push for a “Catholic vote.”


    When asked about certain movements from lay organizations to push for a Catholic vote, the prelate said, “Of course, of course! That is what I am saying all the time. Dapat mga lay organizations talaga ang magsimula (It should be lay organizations initiating).”


    Arguelles also revealed that bishops are already initiating moves to educate the faithful on what to consider when voting.


    “We are trying to encourage good Catholics and I think there are people responding to that to join us,” he said.


    The bishop further clarified that a “Catholic vote” is not “bloc voting,” which others may think it is, but simply a suggested choice for a better alternative.


    “We are asking the people to vote for the preservation of Catholic teachings. ‘Yung mga maliwanag na kontra sa morality that we have as Christians, as people ‘yun ang lalabanan natin. Hindi namin sasabihin na iboto mo si Candidate A. Ang sasabihin namin ay si candidate na ito ay hindi nagdadala ng values,” he explained.


    Arguelles emphasized that the initiative for a Catholic vote will stay and a mandate from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is not required to make it official since each bishop is independent and directly under the pope.


    He mentioned that other prelates such as Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes have expressed the same support for this push for a Catholic vote and that he is optimistic other bishops will see the need for it “because this is the call of the moment. Whether there will be an official stand or not, it will be there.”


    Bastes on Monday said that a campaign informing the faithful about candidates and their positions on the controversial population control measure opposed by the Church was underway.


    “I already told my priests about it,” Bastes said.


    Arguelles pointed out that Filipinos have been electing politicians who have not resolved the ills of our country and that there is a need for leaders who respect the value of life.


    “We have been changing leaders pero pare-pareho din. I think it is high time that we do something. I think it is a matter of our religious commitment,” the prelate said. (CBCP for Life)




    Filipino Bishops Call on Voters to Uphold Sanctity of Life

    Prelates Make Effort to Derail Passage of Controversial RH Bill



    MANILA, NOV. 27, 2012 ( Several Filipino Catholic bishops sent a powerful message to their critics who are pushing the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill: Do not underestimate us.


    Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela de Basilan said the birth control measure is a serious issue that must be dealt with by the Church by campaigning against those who are favoring the bill.


    The RH bill would allow for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill would also enforce "sexual education" on children starting at the 5th grade level.


    Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they refuse to provide free services to their employees.


    “If the bishops are really determined to campaign against those who are pro-RH bill, I think we can come up with a Catholic vote,” Jumoad said.


    The bishop said it is the Church’s moral responsibility to uphold the sanctity of life and they will do efforts to reject or derail the passage of the RH bill even if it means pushing for a Catholic vote.


    “If it’s about the doctrine of the Church then we have to stand by it,” said Jumoad.


    Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a staunch supporter of the RH bill, yesterday downplayed the bishops’ call for Catholic voters to reject candidates who are not following the Church’s teachings. Santiago claimed that the so-called Catholic vote is nothing but a “political myth” but warned that for the Church to push for it is “unconstitutional”.


    But Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa said that whether there is a Catholic vote or not, what is certain is they will intensify their campaign against the bill and its proponents and supporters.


    “What they think of a myth today may be a reality tomorrow,” Arguelles said. “We are trying to encourage the good Catholics and there already those who are responding to our call.”


    In South Cotabato, Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel said efforts are also underway in his diocese to campaign against pro-RH bill bets.


    Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon also said they are intensifying their voters’ education campaign particularly against the RH bill, corruption and other issues.




    .- The Catholic clergy in the Philippines are strongly campaigning against political candidates who back a controversial “reproductive health” bill, helping stall its progress because politicians fear a backlash from Catholic voters.


    Bishop Arturo Bastes of the Sorsogon diocese has instructed his priests about a campaign to inform the laity about candidates’ position on the bill, CBCP News reports.


    “This is an important issue and this is a very good test whether the Philippines is a Catholic country or not,” the bishop told the Archdiocese of Manila’s Radio Veritas. “I hope even those who are not Catholics who believe in the sacredness of life will not vote (for) the politicians pushing for the RH bill.”


    The legislation would mandate sex education in schools and subsidize contraceptives as part of a population control program.


    Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of Lipa had particularly forceful words against the bill.


    “We must use the Catholic vote and show them what the real Catholic is. There are fake Catholics here, they are the ones ruling in our country,” he said. “We can only stop ethnic cleansing, (the) contraceptive mentality, immorality, increasing number of broken families, and promiscuity if we vote for candidates who love life.”


    Catholic leaders are also concerned that some of the contraceptives might cause abortions.


    The Catholic campaign is having an effect. Although bill supporters like President Benigno Aquino III predicted it would move through the House of Representatives, required debates on the measure have been postponed because not enough lawmakers are attending to hold a quorum. Lawmakers are either missing sessions or leave after roll is called.


    House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said most of the absent lawmakers are supporters of the bill.


    Manuel Mamba, head of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, told the Philippines Inquirer News that lawmakers do not want to provoke their parish priests by appearing in the deliberations on the bill or voting for it.


    “If you’re a politician, you stay out of trouble. They (the clergy) are not even the enemy. Why provoke them? By voting for the measure, you’re provoking the Catholic hierarchy,” Mamba said. “In local politics, there is a Catholic vote, especially in areas where the clergy are very influential on their flock. If the clergy are popular, they have the pulpit. They can do it every Sunday.”


    Backers of the bill have said surveys show over 70 percent of Catholic voters support the bill. Some backers, like bill co-sponsor Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, have said activism from bishops and clergy constitutes a “borderline violation” of the constitutional separation of church and state.


    Bishop Arguelles responded that the separation of church and state limits the state from showing religious favoritism.


    “This does not mean that the church cannot comment or speak on moral issues,” he said. “The Reproductive Health bill is a moral issue.”


    Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City has suggested that some political leaders are changing their mind on the bill not only because of fear of political backlash.


    “They now realize that it violates the Constitution, is coercive in nature, is morally incorrect, it assaults the Catholic religion, is medically unsafe, and is an unsound policy for a developing economy,” he said, charging that the bill will waste “billions of pesos” on condoms and contraceptives instead of investing in education and health care.


    Some backers of the bill are playing political hardball, threatening some skeptical lawmakers that funding for the regions they represent will be cut if they do not vote for the bill.




    Priests Start Campaign Versus Pro-RH Politicians

    MANILA, Nov. 26, 2012 — Political candidates pushing for reproductive health bill will have to contend with the Catholic clergy in getting the public support.


    Efforts to “educate” Catholic voters on family and life issues kicked off in some dioceses ahead of the 2013 elections.


    Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said the campaign includes informing the faithful about candidates and their positions on the controversial population control measure opposed by the Church.


    “I already told my priests about it. This is an important issue and this is a very good test whether the Philippines is a Catholic country or not,” Bastes said over Manila archdiocese-run Radio Veritas.


    “I hope even those who are not Catholics who believe in the sacredness of life will not vote the politicians pushing for the RH bill,” he said.


    Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles warned politicians against Catholic backlash as he called on the faithful to use the “Catholic vote” against pro-RH bill candidates.


    According to him, Catholics should reject candidates who are not following the Church teachings in next year’s local and national polls.


    “We must use the Catholic vote and show them what the real Catholic is. There are fake Catholics here, they are the ones ruling in our country,” Arguelles said.


    “We can only stop ethnic cleansing, contraceptive mentality, immorality, increasing number of broken families, and promiscuity if we vote for candidates who love life,” he said.


    Even retired Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal previously called on priests and bishops to assert the right of the Church and its teachings about life.


    Bastes said he supports Arguelles’ call for a Catholic vote against pro-RH bill politicians.


    “This is a very important issue. Once we have the RH bill, the Catholicity of the Philippines will be gone,” he said. (CBCPNews)



    Fr. Melvin Castro: Reproductive Health Bill is 'Anti-Women'
    Filipino Catholic Bishops Executive Secretary Denounces Proposed Legislation


    MANILA, Philippines, NOV. 21, 2012 ( Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary for the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), refuted criticisms on the Catholic Church's stance against the proposed Reproductive Health (RH) bill.


    "If there is one institution that supports the welfare of women, it is the Catholic Church," he said.


    The RH bill would allow for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill would also enforce "sexual education" on children starting at the 5th grade level.


    Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they refuse to provide free services to their employees.


    According to Fr. Castro, the CBCP believes that the proposed legislation is not pro-women is because it does not answer the primary concerns of Filipino women and mothers.


    "They (pro-RH bill advocates) are claiming that we are against women because the leaders of the Church are men and old," Fr. Castro said.


    “The truth is, if [the] RH bill becomes a law, those who will be affected by this are the women. It will take away from them their being a mother,” he said.


    The priest also took several big business organizations to task for supporting the controversial population control measure. "These businessmen just want to reduce your maternity leave," Fr. Castro said.


    The executive secretary of the CBCP also disagreed with statements made by Senator Pia Cayetano, the author of the proposed RH bill, that primary health care services should include contraceptives. "It’s a painful point made by the principal author… disappointing," he added.


    "We have to discuss more about this. This is not what our people and women need."




    Faithful Gather in Manila to Pray "Rosary for Life"
    Bishop Gabriel Reyes Cites Prayer As Effective in the Fight Against 'Culture of Death'


    MANILA, NOV. 13, 2012 (– Hundreds of Catholic faithful flocked to Nuestra Señora de Guia Archdiocesan Parish in Ermita, Manila yesterday for “Rosary for Life” aimed at stopping abortion.


    The praying of the rosary was followed by a Eucharistic celebration led by Antipolo Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes, chair of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL).


    Reyes in his homily pointed out that prayers are effective in the fight against the culture of death. He specifically noted the controversial measure now pending in both chambers of Congress.


    “We are praying that the Reproductive Health bill may not pass,” he said.


    The prelate further explained that life advocates who are focused on spreading the truth that contraceptives are not the solutions to poverty must always remember the plight of poor people.


    “The culture of life is also involved in helping the poor,” said Reyes.


    Rosary for Life is a prayer association which promotes reverence and respect for the God-given gift of life, especially that of the unborn. It was founded by Wyn Powers in 1989 after being inspired to help the unborn through a pro-life seminar and Rosary Congress where she learned of the benefits of praying the rosary.



    Filipino Catholics to Gather for Day of Prayer
    Call for End to Controversial Reproductive Health Bill


    MANILA, Nov. 6, 2012 ( Catholics from across the Philippines will gather on November 12th to pray against the nation's proposed Reproductive Health (RH) bill.


    If passed, the bill would allow for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill would also enforce "sexual education" on children starting at the 5th grade level.


    Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they refuse to provide free services to their employees.


    Commenting on the gathering, Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo called the event an occasion for all the faithful to unite in prayer to prevent the passage of the bill. Bishop Reyes also serves as chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.


    "Let this be an occasion for Marian devotees and Pro-lifers to unite in the prayer of the Holy Rosary to ask the Lord for the graces to continue and persevere in the unending work of service to the most helpless of God’s creations, the unborn baby," Bishop Reyes said.


    "Let us offer our prayers and sacrifices in reparation for the countless abortions committed against innocent human life which wound the consciences of those who participate in this unspeakable crime," he said.


    The prayer gathering will take place at the Nuestra Señora de Guia Parish Church in Ermita, Manila. The event will also celebrate the 9th anniversary of Rosary for Life in the Philippines. Rosary for Life is a worldwide and voluntary association of Christian faithful to promote respect for the life of the unborn by means for praying the rosary. The association has initiated various programs that raise awareness on the negative effects of abortion and the RH bill.



    Tagle launches Year of Faith

    By: Pots de Leon,


    MANILA, Philippines – Barely 48 hours after returning from the Vatican where his appointment as cardinal was announced last week, Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio G. Tagle formally launched the Year of Faith in the Philippines. He celebrated Holy Mass at the historic Paco Catholic Church on Saturday morning and called on the faithful to make the faith truly alive in word and practice.


    It was the first major public appearance of Tagle since his appointment was revealed at the Vatican, in the week that Filipino youth martyr Pedro Calungsod was canonized.


    On Saturday morning, a celebratory air pervaded the church of the San Fernando de Dilao Parish---as the Paco church is officially known---inside and out as Tagle offered Holy Mass and blessed the faithful, including long-time parishioners and balikbayans flying in for the centennial week of the school that grew around the church, Paco Catholic School (PCS). It is billed as the largest parochial school in the Far East.


    In his homily, Tagle said Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of Faith to mark the celebration of two key developments in the life of the church: the start of the work of the Vatican Council some 50 years ago; and the 20th year of promotion of the catechism of the Catholic Church so that the Catholic faith will be better understood, lived and shared with all.


    “Thus, the Year of Faith is a celebration of two important anniversaries celebrating the faith in the Church,” he explained in Filipino, the language he used in his homily.


    He noted that the years following these key events were ironically marked by a tendency in many parts of the world for people to even more shun, rather than live the faith, and still others to declare that it is totally unnecessary in life, because every crisis can be solved without God.


    Tagle cautioned Filipinos against believing that a crisis of faith only grips mostly Western countries and that it is alive in the Philippines, where churches are always full, processions are long and where feasts—such as of the Black Nazarene and La Naval—are enthusiastically celebrated.


    There is such a thing as “practical atheism,” as described by Pope Benedict, according to Tagle. In contrast to atheism where a person pointedly rejects the notion of God, this pertains to a situation where people profess belief in God but their lives reflect no identification whatsoever with His teachings. This means, he explained in Filipino, people attend Mass Sundays and appear to pray devoutly, yet begin the week cheating people, stepping on others to get ahead in life, and care nothing about justice and the general welfare.


    According to the website of the Archdiocese of Manila, the launching of the Year of Faith in the Philippine setting “also serves as a welcome for the Manila Archbishop, who returned from the Synod of Bishops in Rome where he served as vice-president of its Commission on the Message, and where Pope Benedict XVI named him one of six to become cardinals in a consistory on November 24, 2012.”


    The archdiocese said, “Cardinal-designate Tagle has been at the forefront of lectures and talks on the Year of Faith” and that on October 4, just before he left for the Synod, he issued a Pastoral Letter on the Year of Faith which was read in all Masses in the archdiocese on October 6 and 7.


    Here’s the rest of the background from the Archdioceses website: Pope Benedict declared a Year of Faith beginning October 11, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the release of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and ending on November 24, 2013, the Solemnity of Christ the King.


    In his Oct. 4 Pastoral Letter, Tagle said the Year of Faith is an invitation for Catholics “to study again the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church that is its fruit in order to rediscover the vitality of the faith we have inherited.


    “Aside from celebrating Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Year of Faith invites us to look closely at the contemporary world, its beauty and wounds. The continuity of the Church through the ages allows various forms of renewal. The Church receives, celebrates and lives the faith in different historical settings with their unique demands and challenges,” he said.

    The recently concluded Synod of Bishops convoked by Pope Benedict XVI, the Manila Archbishop said, was meant to reflect on the New Evangelization. “In a span of fifty years after Vatican II, the world has seen dramatic changes that pose new challenges, even threats, to faith and its transmission. The Philippines, specifically the area covered by the Archdiocese of Manila, is not exempt. But we also believe that the contemporary world, especially the youth and the poor, expresses its search for God in ways that the Church must also discover. Thus the Year of Faith invites us to listen to the deep cries and aspirations of the people and societies of our time so that we can proclaim Jesus Christ to them with new methods, new expressions and new fervor. It is a year of listening and mission as well.”


    Saturday’s launching featured band music and the Buling-buling, the traditional dance for the Santo Niño de Pandacan to signify an offering of love and gratitude to its Patron de Santo Niño. Catechists paraded along the streets the 12 articles of faith and the logo of the Year of Faith.


    "Undas Online" Launched by Philippine Bishops Conference
    Website Allows Filipinos Abroad to Pray For Deceased Loved Ones


    MANILA, Philippines, Nov. 2, 2012 ( The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) re-launched a website that allows for Filipinos abroad to request prayers for their loved ones on All Souls Day.


    Maintained by the Media Office of the CBCP, the website is targeted for Overseas Filipino Workers who cannot visit their departed loved ones in cemeteries. The initiative, also called "Undas Online", was started again this year after receiving positive feedback from Filipino citizens around the world.


    "This is primarily intended for Filipinos abroad— OFWs and seafarers who will find it hard to celebrate Undas. Filipinos in the country are encouraged to visit cemeteries, oratories and churches," said Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, director of the Media Office for the CBCP.


    The "Undas Online" website has been significantly re-designed while offering several new services such as podcasts and catechesis on the significance and liturgical meaning of the celebration of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. Msgr. Quitorio also highlighted the option on the website for Filipinos away from home to request prayers and Masses for their deceased loved ones.


    "All they need to do is visit the website, click “Prayer Request” and then list down the names of their beloved dead for whom they wish to offer Mass," he said.


    Last year, "Undas Online" received request for prayers for over 20,000 deceased Filipino Catholics.


    --- --- ---

    On the Net:

    To visit Undas Online, go to




    Filipino Youth Institute Inspired by Newly Canonized Saint
    San Pedro Calungsod Institute for the Young to Mobilize Youth for New Evangelization


    LAOAG, Philippines, OCT. 31, 2012 ( A local youth commission in the Philippines inspired by the nation's newly canonized saint has formally dedicated an institution in the saint's name.


    The San Pedro Calungsod Institute for the Young (SPCIY) was created by the Diocesan Youth Commission (DYC) of the Diocese of Laoag to train and mobilize youth to be missionaries for the New Evangelization. The youth commission released a statement highlighting the mission of the new institute.


    "SPCIY will serve as a venue for the young and the youth ministers of the diocese to grow in the ministry. It will also be a place to develop their God-given talents and use these in reaching out to fellow youth in any forms as new missionaries to the world," the statement read.


    "It will also continue and will make sure that formation among the youth and the youth ministers of the diocese remains relevant and up-to-date," they added.


    The San Pedro Calungsod Institute was introduced to the faithful of the diocese of Laoag during the Diocesan Youth Leaders Assembly at a local parish. The institute will be an official arm of the DYC for diocesan youth formation efforts.




    Pope Announces the Creation of Six New Cardinals
    Consistory to Be Held in November


    VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2012 ( During his weekly General Audience, Pope Benedict XVI announced a consistory for the creation of six new Cardinals of the Catholic Church. The announcement was made in front of thousands gather in St. Peter's Square after the Holy Father's catechesis.


    "It is with great joy that I announce my intention to hold a consistory on November 24th in which I will appoint six new members of the College of Cardinals. Cardinals have the task of helping Peter's Successor carry out his mission to confirm people in the faith and to be the source and foundation of the Church's unity and communion," the Holy Father said to the crowd.


    "The new cardinals fulfill their ministry in the service of the Holy See or as fathers and pastors of particular Churches in various parts of the world."


    Pope Benedict XVI proceeded to read out the names of the new cardinals. They are:

    - Archbishop James Michael Harvey, prefect of the Pontifical Household who, Benedict XVI said, "I intend to appoint as archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls".

    - His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Rai, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Lebanon.

    - His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, major archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, India.

    - Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria.

    - Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia.

    - Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Tagle of Manila, Philippines.


    The new members of the College of Cardinals will bring the number to 122 Cardinals who are eligible to vote in the conclave. The Pope concluded his address asking the faithful to keep the newly appointed cardinals in their prayers. "As you have heard the new cardinals carry out their ministry at the service of the Holy See or as fathers and pastors of particular Churches in various parts of the world," the Pope said.


    "I invite everyone to pray for them, asking for the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin May that they may always love Christ and His Church with courage and commitment."




    Filipino Bishop Denounces UN Recommendation to Legalize Prostitution
    Bishop Broderick Pabillo Calls Report 'Morally Unacceptable'


    MANILA, Philippines, OCT. 24, 2012 ( A Filipino bishop has denounced the United Nations over growing criticisms regarding the international organization's recent report recommending that sex-related jobs be legalized in the Philippines.


    Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila, called the report "morally unacceptable" and stated that it would only worsen the current situation. "Give women real rights and decent jobs and not prostitution," said Pabillo, who also serves as chairman of the National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace. The auxiliary bishop also warned that the legalization of the sex trade would open a floodgate to predators who would abuse more women.


    The United Nations report, entitled "Sex Work and the Law in Asia and the Pacific" recommended that the Philippines and other Asian countries should legalize prostitution to help curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV. The report also stated that such legal recognition of prostitution as an occupation would enable sex workers to claim benefits and pensions.


    Bishop Pabillo rejected the idea that such action would help control the spread of HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. "In fact, HIV is still prevalent even in countries where prostitution is legal," Pabillo said. The bishop urged the government to focus on behavioral change, while adding that transmission of deadly STD's will remain high if the problem of risky sexual behavior is not tackled.



    Pope Benedict XVI's Homily at Mass of Canonization of Seven New Saints
    "May the witness of these new saints[...]speak today to the whole Church"


    VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2012 ( Here is the translation of the Pope Benedict XVI's homily at the Canonization Mass of Seven New Saints.



    * * *


    Dear Brother Bishops,


    Dear brothers and sisters!


    Today the Church listens again to these words of Jesus, spoken by the Lord during his journey to Jerusalem, where he was to accomplish the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection. They are words which enshrine the meaning of Christ’s mission on earth, marked by his sacrifice, by his total self-giving. On this third Sunday of October, on which we celebrate World Mission Sunday, the Church listens to them with special attention and renews her conviction that she should always be fully dedicated to serve mankind and the Gospel, after the example of the One who gave himself up even to the sacrifice of his life.


    I extend warm greetings to all of you who fill Saint Peter’s Square, especially the official delegations and the pilgrims who have come to celebrate the seven new saints. I greet with affection the Cardinals and Bishops who, during these days, are taking part in the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization. The coincidence between this ecclesiastical meeting and World Mission Sunday is a happy one; and the word of God that we have listened to sheds light on both subjects. It shows how to be evangelizers, called to bear witness and to proclaim the Christian message, configuring ourselves to Christ and following his same way of life. This is true both for the mission ad Gentes and for the new evangelization in places with ancient Christian roots.


    The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45)


    These words were the blueprint for living of the seven Blessed men and women that the Church solemnly enrols this morning in the glorious ranks of the saints. With heroic courage they spent their lives in total consecration to the Lord and in the generous service of their brethren. They are sons and daughters of the Church who chose a life of service following the Lord. Holiness always rises up in the Church from the well-spring of the mystery of redemption, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the first reading: the Servant of the Lord is the righteous one who "shall make many to be accounted as righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities" (Is 53:11); this Servant is Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and living in glory. Today’s canonization is an eloquent confirmation of this mysterious saving reality. The tenacious profession of faith of these seven generous disciples of Christ, their configuration to the Son of Man shines out brightly today in the whole Church.


    [in French] Jacques Berthieu, born in 1838 in France, was passionate about Jesus Christ at an early age. During his parish ministry, he had the burning desire to save souls. Becoming a Jesuit, he wished to journey through the world for the glory of God. A tireless pastor on the island of Sainte Marie, then in Madagascar, he struggled against injustice while bringing succour to the poor and sick. The Malagasies thought of him as a priest come down from heaven, saying, You are our "father and mother!" He made himself all things to all men, drawing from prayer and his love of the sacred heart of Jesus the human and priestly force to face martyrdom in 1896. He died, saying "I prefer to die rather than renounce my faith". Dear friends, may the life of this evangelizer be an encouragement and a model for priests that, like him, they will be men of God! May his example aid the many Christians of today persecuted for their faith! In this Year of Faith, may his intercession bring forth many fruits for Madagascar and the African Continent! May God bless the Malagasy people!


    [in English] Pedro Calungsod was born around the year sixteen fifty-four, in the Visayas region of the Philippines. His love for Christ inspired him to train as a catechist with the Jesuit missionaries there. In sixteen sixty-eight, along with other young catechists, he accompanied Father Diego Luís de San Vitores to the Marianas Islands in order to evangelize the Chamorro people. Life there was hard and the missionaries also faced persecution arising from envy and slander. Pedro, however, displayed deep faith and charity and continued to catechize his many converts, giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel. Uppermost was his desire to win souls for Christ, and this made him resolute in accepting martyrdom. He died on the second of April, sixteen seventy-two. Witnesses record that Pedro could have fled for safety but chose to stay at Father Diego’s side. The priest was able to give Pedro absolution before he himself was killed. May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!


    [in Italian] Giovanni Battista Piamarta, priest of the Diocese of Brescia, was a great apostle of charity and of young people. He raised awareness of the need for a cultural and social presence of Catholicism in the modern world, and so he dedicated himself to the Christian, moral and professional growth of the younger generations with an enlightened input of humanity and goodness. Animated by unshakable faith in divine providence and by a profound spirit of sacrifice, he faced difficulties and fatigue to breathe life into various apostolic works, including the Artigianelli Institute, Queriniana Publishers, the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth for men, and for women the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord. The secret of his intense and busy life is found in the long hours he gave to prayer. When he was overburdened with work, he increased the length of his encounter, heart to heart, with the Lord. He preferred to pause before the Blessed Sacrament, meditating upon the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, to gain spiritual fortitude and return to gaining people’s hearts, especially the young, to bring them back to the sources of life with fresh pastoral initiatives.


    [in Spanish] "May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you" (Ps 32:22). With these words, the liturgy invites us to make our own this hymn to God, creator and provider, accepting his plan into our lives. María Carmelo Sallés y Barangueras, a religious born in Vic in Spain in 1848, did just so. Filled with hope in spite of many trials, she, on seeing the progress of the Congregation of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching, which she founded in 1892, was able to sing with the Mother of God, "His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation" (Lk 1:50). Her educational work, entrusted to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, continues to bear abundant fruit among young people through the generous dedication of her daughters who, like her, entrust themselves to God for whom all is possible. [in English] I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in eighteen thirty-eight in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in eighteen sixty-two she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York. Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused. She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers. Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world. There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.


    [in English] Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in sixteen fifty-six to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateriremained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity.


    [in French] Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!


    [in German] Anna Schaeffer, from Mindelstetten, as a young woman wished to enter a missionary order. She came from a poor background so, in order to earn the dowry needed for acceptance into the cloister, she worked as a maid. One day she suffered a terrible accident and received incurable burns on her legs which forced her to be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. So her sick-bed became her cloister cell and her suffering a missionary service. She struggled for a time to accept her fate, but then understood her situation as a loving call from the crucified One to follow him. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God’s love for the many who sought her counsel. May her apostolate of prayer and suffering, of sacrifice and expiation, be a shining example for believers in her homeland, and may her intercession strengthen the Christian hospice movement in its beneficial activity.


    Dear brothers and sisters, these new saints, different in origin, language, nationality and social condition, are united among themselves and with the whole People of God in the mystery of salvation of Christ the Redeemer. With them, we too, together with the Synod Fathers from all parts of the world, proclaim to the Lord in the words of the psalm that he "is our help and our shield" and we invoke him saying, "may your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you" (Ps 32:20.22). May the witness of these new saints, and their lives generously spent for love of Christ, speak today to the whole Church, and may their intercession strengthen and sustain her in her mission to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

    [01359-02.01] [Original text: Plurilingual]



    Pope canonizes Pedro Calungsod as second Filipino saint October 21, 2012 3:55pm

    Blessed Pedro Calungsod, a young Roman Catholic missionary who died in Guam more than three centuries ago, officially became the second Filipino saint on Sunday in canonization ceremonies officiated by Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican City.

    Calungsod was proclaimed saint with six others during a public consistory, or an assembly of Roman Catholic cardinals, celebrated by the Pope at the St. Peter’s Square.

    Vice President Jejomar Binay represented the Philippine government at Calungsod’s canonization rites.

    Calungsod was made a saint a year after the Vatican officially recognized a second miracle attributed to him—the healing of a businesswoman from Leyte who fell into a coma in 2003.

    Calungsod is the second saint to come from the Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic country. More than two decades ago, the Vatican proclaimed Lorenzo Ruiz, a missionary martyred in Japan in 1637, as the first Filipino saint.

    The Archdiocese of Cebu explains the act of canonization as “an infallible and irrevocable decision of the Pope.” It signifies that a person “now reigns in eternal glory” and must be accorded honor due to a saint by the entire Roman Catholic Church.

    Aside from Calungsod, also proclaimed saints were: Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Blessed Maria Anna Cope, Blessed Jacques Berthieu, Blessed Maria Schaeffer, Blessed Giovanni Battista Piamarta, and Blessed Maria del Carmen.
    Who is Pedro Calungsod?

    Calungsod was a teenage native of the Visayas region who joined Spanish Jesuit missionaries, led by Fr. Diego Luis de San Vitores, to a voyage to evangelize natives of the Mariana Islands in 1668.

    On April 2, 1672, Calungsod, believed to be 17 years old at that time, went to Tumon village in Guam to aid San Vitores in baptizing a newborn baby.

    The infant’s father and the village chief, Mata’pang, supposedly refused to have the sacrament performed based on the belief that the baptismal water was poisonous. The baby’s Christian mother, however, still gave her consent to the missionaries to baptize her child.

    Upon learning about the baptism, Mata’pang and another villager named Hirao supposedly assaulted Calungsod and San Vitores. The Filipino martyr was hit by a spear, and ultimately killed by a blow to the head with a sword.
    San Vitores was also killed during the encounter. The bodies of the missionaries were supposedly thrown into the sea and were never recovered.

    During Calungsod’s beatification ceremonies in 2000, the late Pope John Paul II described the Filipino martyr as a “good soldier of Christ… who intercedes for the young, in particular those of his native Philippines.”
    How he became a saint

    Calungsod qualified for sainthood last year when the Vatican verified a “major miracle” reported by a doctor from Cebu City who supposedly invoked the Filipino martyr to heal a 49-year-old patient.

    The patient, a woman from Leyte who had undergone heart surgery, was reportedly no longer moving, speaking or responding to any stimuli when the physician prayed to Calungsod.
    The woman supposedly experienced “rapid recovery” during the next 48 hours after the doctor’s prayer, and is still living.

    The patient’s recovery was reported to the Archdiocese of Cebu, which verified the incident as a “supernatural occurrence” in June 2005. The results were then forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Vatican City, which recognized the validity of the process in November 2005.

    Calungsod’s feast day will be commemorated every April 2. Malacañang has described the Filipino martyr’s sainthood as a source of “great spiritual joy and national pride.” — BM, GMA News


    Blessed Pedro Calungsod

    As the Church prepares to welcome seven new saints this month, ZENIT will feature an article, from Oct. 11 -21, on each of these remarkable servants of God.


    ROME, OCT. 16, 2012 ( On Oct. 21, Pope Benedict XVI will canonize Blessed Pedro Calungsod who gave his life for the faith on April 2, 1672, in Guam.


    Calungsod was a Filipino lay catechist born in 1654 and was doing a missionary work in Guam. Blessed John Paul II beatified him on March 5, 2000.


    He died trying to protect his mentor, Jesuit Father Diego Jose Luis San Vitores, a missionary who was killed. Two Chamorro chiefs pursued the missionaries when they learned Father San Vitores had baptized a chief's daughter without his consent.


    Calungsod, a native of Cebu province in the Philippines, "was the first to be attacked in the assault," explained Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson of the Cebu Archdiocese. "And they marveled how he was so skillful in evading the darts of the spears ... until finally he was hit in the chest. He fell and the other assassin split his skull."


    He will be the second Filipino saint after San Lorenzo Ruiz.


    To mark the event of his canonization the Church in the Philippines will undertake a nine-year spiritual program, starting on the date of Calungsod’s canonization, and lasting until March 2021.


    Prishes, youth organizations and religious groups will hold activities during the canonization day of Blessed Pedro Calungsod on October 21, according to news posted on the Web site of the Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.


    In the Archdiocese of Manila people, particularly the young, will gather at the St. Niño de Tondo Parish for a program on the canonization of Pedro Calungsod which will be held from 2:30-7:00 p.m. followed by a youth mass at 8:00 o’clock in the evening.


    Another group will also organize an event titled “San Pedro 10.21” at the San Juan Arena in San Juan City from 1:30-6:00 p.m. bringing the canonization rite in Rome to the Philippines via satellite feed in real time.


    Meanwhile in Cebu, the Commission on Youth of the Archdiocese of Cebu and the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Mandaue City, together with the city administration, are inviting people to watch a live telecast of the canonization.


    “From his childhood, Pedro Calungsod declared himself unwaveringly for Christ and responded generously to his call,” said Pope John Paul II in his homily when he beatified Calungsod and others on March 5, 2000.


    “Young people today can draw encouragement and strength from the example of Pedro, whose love of Jesus inspired him to devote his teenage years to teaching the faith as a lay catechist,” John Paul II said.


    In a spirit of faith, marked by strong Eucharistic and Marian devotion, Pedro undertook the demanding work asked of him and bravely faced the many obstacles and difficulties he met,” the pope added.


    Today he intercedes for the young, in particular those of his native Philippines, and he challenges them, John Paul II commented. “Young friends, do not hesitate to follow the example of Pedro, who "pleased God and was loved by him" (Wis 4: 10) and who, having come to perfection in so short a time, lived a full life (cf. ibid., v. 13).”



    Bishops from US, Philippines, Vatican Address Synod Members
    Globalization, Reconciliation, Humility Among Themes Discussed in Session

    VATICAN CITY, OCTOBER 10, 2012 ( Some of the challenges which face the Catholic Church's mission of evangelization in contemporary society were addressed in yesterday's session of the Synod on New Evangelization.


    Included among the speakers yesterday were Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization, Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manilla in the Philippines, Archbishop José Horacio Gómez of Los Angeles, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.


    Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, Titular Archbishop of Voghenza and President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization said that with the new evangelization, "we must present the newness that Jesus Christ and the Church represent in the lives of individuals."


    The individualistic mentality of mankind today poses unique challenges to efforts in evangelization. "Today’s man," the archbishop said, "no longer perceives the absence of God as a lack in his life. Ignorance of the fundamental concepts of the faith are united with a kind of unprecedented self-centeredness. How can the news of Jesus Christ be expressed in a world permeated solely with scientific culture, modeled on the superficiality of ephemeral concepts, insensitive to the proposal of the Church? Proclaiming the Gospel is equated with changing one’s life; but today’s man seems tied to this kind of life of which he is in control because he decides when, how and who should be born and die."


    "Incapable of being proclaimers of the Gospel," he continued, "unsure of the certainty of the truth that saves, and cautious in speaking because we are oppressed by control of language, we have lost credibility and we risk rendering vain the Pentecost."


    Rather than dwelling on the past or on utopian ideals, "what is needed is a clear analysis which does not hide the difficulties or even the great enthusiasm of the many experiences that in these years have allowed for the implementation of the New Evangelization."


    Archbishop Tagle of Manilla, in his intervention yesterday, spoke about the need for the Church to look to Christ as the prime example in evangelization. The archbishop recounted that a young girl once asked: "'Are we the youth lost or has the Church lost us?' Her question expresses a longing for a Church where she can be found by Jesus and where she can find Him. But for the Church to be the 'space' of a faith-encounter with the Lord, she must learn anew from Jesus in whom we meet God."


    He said that the Church must look to Christ as an example of humility. "God's power and might appears in the self-emptying of the Son, in the love that is crucified but truly saves because it is emptied of self for the sake of others."


    Archbishop Tagle continued by saying that the Church is also "called to follow Jesus' respect for every human person. He defended the dignity of all people, in particular those neglected and despised by the world. Loving His enemies, He affirmed their dignity."


    "The Church must discover the power of silence," he said. "Confronted with the sorrows, doubts and uncertainties of people she cannot pretend to give easy solutions. In Jesus, silence becomes the way of attentive listening, compassion and prayer. It is the way to truth."


    Amid the "seemingly indifferent and aimless societies of our time," Archbishop Tagle concluded, people are nonetheless in search of God. By exercising genuine humility, respect, and by embracing a spirit of silence, the Church might succeed in revealing "more clearly the face of God in Jesus. The world takes delight in a simple witness to Jesus - meek and humble of heart."


    Archbishop Gómez of Los Angeles addressed the synod, speaking about the challenges and opportunities which globalization brings to the mission of the new evangelization.


    "In a positive sense," he said, "globalization presents us with a providential moment for advancing the Church's mission of transforming humanity into one family of God. To evangelize in this era of globalization calls us for a new proclamation of the mystery of the Church as the universal family of God."


    The archbishop continued: "In our new evangelization, the Church must be the 'sacrament' - the sign and instrument - by which the universal family of God is realized in history. The era of globalization also calls us to draw from our rich traditions of popular piety and spirituality in our work of evangelization."


    Archbishop Gómez also spoke about the pastoral challenge of evangelizing in a globalized world, situating the universal call to holiness within today's society. "We have to find new methods and new ways to help the men and women of our times to practice their faith in this globalized culture. We need to better understand the impact this culture is having on our Catholic identity and Catholic practice."


    Concluding his statement, the Archbishop of Los Angeles spoke of the need to find a "language" which represents "traditional means of sanctification - the sacraments, prayer, works of charity - in a way that is attractive and accessible to people living in the reality of a globalized, secular, urban society."


    Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, spoke on the importance the sacrament of reconciliation within the context of the new evangelization.


    "The sacrament of reconciliation," he said, "evangelizes the evangelizers, as it brings us sacramentally into contact with Jesus, who calls us to conversion of heart, and inspires us to answer His invitation to repentance."


    The Second Vatican Council had called for a renewal of the sacrament, said the cardinal, but "what we got instead, sadly, in many places, was the disappearance of the sacrament."

    "We have busied ourselves calling for the reform of structures, systems, institutions, and people other than ourselves. Yes, this is good. But the answer to the question 'What's wrong with the world?” is not politics. The economy, secularism, pollution, global warming... no." Quoting G.K. Chesterton, Cardinal Dolan said that the answer to the question "'What's wrong with the world?' is two words: I am.'"


    "Admitting that," Cardinal Dolan concluded, "leads to conversion of heart and repentance, the core of the Gospel invitation. That happens in the sacrament of Penance. This is the sacrament of Evangelization."




    On the Holy Rosary
    "We Let Ourselves be Guided by Mary, the Model of Faith, in Meditating on the Mysteries of Christ"

    VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2012 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before praying the midday Angelus at the conclusion of the Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Square for the proclamation of St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as doctors of the Church and for the opening of the 13th ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops.


    * * *


    [In Italian he said:]

     Dear brothers and sisters,


    Let us turn now in prayer to Mary Most Holy, whom we venerate today as Queen of the Holy Rosary. At this time at the shrine in Pompeii, the traditional “Supplication” is being prayed and joined in by countless people around the world. As we too spiritually associate ourselves with this choral invocation, I would like to propose that everyone make a special effort to pray the Rosary during the upcoming Year of Faith. With the Rosary, in fact, we let ourselves be guided by Mary, the model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ, and day after day we are helped to assimilate the Gospel so that it gives form to our whole life. Thus, following the lead of my predecessors, especially Blessed John Paul II, who gave us the apostolic letter “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” 10 years ago, I invite you to pray the Rosary personally, in the family and in community, placing ourselves in the school of Mary, who leads us to Christ, the living center of our faith.


    [In English he said:]

    I greet the English-speaking pilgrims here today! I ask all of you to pray for the work of the Synod on the New Evangelization, beginning today. Later this week, on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Year of Faith begins. May these events confirm us in the beauty and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ which comes to us through the Church! Entrusting these intentions to our Lady of the Rosary, I invoke upon all of you God’s abundant blessings!

    [Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]



    Pope Benedict XVI Grants Plenary Indulgence to Faithful
    Apostolic Penitentiary Issues Decree on Occasion of the Year of Faith

    By Junno Arocho


    VATICAN CITY, OCT. 5, 2012 ( In a decree signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, Penitentiary Major and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Holy Father has granted the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the occasion of the Year of Faith. The indulgence will last the entire Year of Faith, from October 11th, 2012 to November 24th, 2013.


    "The day of the fiftieth anniversary of the solemn opening of Vatican Council II the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has decreed the beginning of a Year especially dedicated to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation, through the reading of - or better still the pious meditation upon - the Acts of the Council and the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church," the statement read.


    According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "an indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."


    Indicating that the primary objective of the Year of Faith is to "develop sanctity of life to the highest degree possible on this earth", the decree granted the Plenary Indulgence will be granted to the faithful who are "truly penitent, take Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff."


    The document states that those faithful who are unable to leave their residence due to illness or a legitimate cause can still receive a Plenary Indulgence if, during the times where the Holy Father or participating bishops words are broadcast through radio or television, they recite "the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and other prayers that concord with the objectives of the Year of Faith, offering up the suffering and discomfort of their lives."




    Marian Symposium Concludes in Rome
    Syrian Deacon Reflects on Mary's Significance in the Middle East

    By Ann Schneible


    ROME, OCTOBER 5, 2012 ( Mary is the center of dialogue, not only between Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism, but between Christianity and Islam.


    This was one of the themes touched upon during the international symposium entitled "Mary, Sign of Faith (and Only Hope)", which concluded today in Rome. Gathering together experts from around the world, the two-day symposium explored the cultural, theological, and spiritual significance of Mary throughout history.


    Syrian Deacon Rami Wakim, secretary for Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III of the Damascus diocese, was one of the keynote speakers at the symposium. He spoke with ZENIT about the role of Mary in helping to promote interreligious dialogue throughout the Middle East.



    ZENIT: In your talk you will be discussing Mary with regard to the Eastern tradition and Roman Catholic Tradition. Could you speak about the role of Mary as a unifying force between the Eastern and Western Rites and traditions?


    Wakim: My speech is going to be about two things: this inter-Christian dialogue and Muslim-Christian dialogue.


    In everyday life, people meet together at a place of worship, regardless of their background. For example, in the Middle East, Orthodox and Catholics go and [honor] the Virgin Mary. This is the starting point. From the standpoint of the faithful, they don't see the difference: she's the mother of God, she's blessed, she's a very special person, a model for all Christians, and she is always looked at as an intercessor and protector. On a practical level, there is no difference. The problem remains at the level of theological expressions and theological settings.


    The Virgin Mary is gathering everyone around her, and it is a shame that on a theological level we still have unsolved problems, especially [with regard to] the Immaculate Conception. Many studies have been done on this issue, trying to explain where the difference is, and in fact there is no doctrinal difference.


    Let me explain: if you look at doctrine, the way that the Eastern Church expresses it, it makes complete sense. It is logical. And if you look at how the Roman Catholic Church explains the Immaculate Conception, as a doctrine, you see that it also makes complete sense. Where is the problem?


    We need a dialogue today to solve this problem, and understand that in the Eastern Tradition there is a theological setting, a different way of expressing how we believe in the immaculate nature of the Virgin Mary, and how in the Western, Roman Catholic tradition, it's a different way. If we understand how the Eastern tradition thinks about the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, we can actually get to a point to where it is not a problem anymore.


    In my speech I will take liturgical texts and hymns, and try to explain how in the liturgical year the Virgin Mary is looked at as Immaculate, as intercessor, as protector, as mother of God, and all the names she's given in the Roman Catholic Church.



    ZENIT: Turning now to interreligious dialogue between Christianity and Islam, which is so important in this day in age, especially throughout the Middle East. Could you speak about Mary's significance in this dialogue, taking into account that both Catholics and Muslims have a devotion to Mary?


    Wakim: This is very important, the role of the Virgin Mary in bringing both together. In the Koran, it's really striking the [honor] and veneration of the Virgin Mary. She's the only woman to have a chapter named after her in the Koran, and her name is brought up 34 times. Her miraculous birth is recognized by the Koran, as is the annunciation by the angel, and the miraculous birth of Christ. There are so many things in common.


    Also, visiting our Muslim friends, you see in their houses they have a special place for the Virgin Mary. She's someone special. She's not like any other woman on earth. She's more honorable than every other woman in Islam.


    [One example of this commonality is that the Annunciation is a national holiday]. You can take time off work, and give time to [honor] the Virgin Mary – Muslims and Christians alike. On this day every year, Christians and Muslims go on pilgrimage together to visit a Marian monument.


    The Virgin Mary has a central role in bringing Christians and Muslims together.



    ZENIT: You were in Lebanon during the Holy Father's visit. Could you share your impressions? Also, as a Syrian during this time of conflict, how was Pope Benedict's visit significant not only to Lebanon, but to the Middle East as a whole?


    Wakim: As you said, it was a visit physically to Lebanon, but in a bigger [context] it was for all the Christian Middle East, and the Muslim Middle East. The fact that it happened is significant because a few days before the visit there was speculation that the Pope would cancel, and people were suggesting that he shouldn't go, but the Pope insisted. And this in and of itself sends a very good message of hope, that the leadership of the Church is not far from the faithful, not far from the problems and conflicts. The Pope is not afraid to come. And it is during these times that we need support, and need to see that [our bishop, our Pope] is not far; he is with you.


    It was very touching on a personal level to see all these people gathering just to see His Holiness, to get a blessing. Also Muslims were present just to greet the Pope. To see all these people brought together, gathered in one place, for one purpose, just to be together, sends a great message at this time.



    International Symposium on Mary Commences in Rome
    Experts Explore Cultural, Historical, Theological Significance of the Blessed Mother

    By Ann Schneible


    ROME, OCTOBER 4, 2012 ( An international symposium, dedicated to the study of Mary and her cultural and theological significance throughout history, commenced today at the Centro Russia Ecumenica in Rome.


    The objective of the two-day event, entitled "Mary, Sign of Faith (and Only Hope)", is to explore the cult of Mary in order to explore her role in leading Christians towards greater devotion to Christ. Participants today had the opportunity to hear from a wide variety of experts, such as author Leonie Caldecott on the history of Marian images beginning with pre-Reformation England, as well as from historian Michael Hesemann on the historical person of Mary.


    Edmund Mazza, history professor at Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles, California, is the primary organizer for this symposium event. He told ZENIT that the conference was conceived in response to Pope Benedict XVI's all for Marian conferences, a call which came through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was of particular importance within the context of the forthcoming Year of Faith.


    "It is important to look at Mary as a model, as a sign of faith," he said. "We're on our way to God, we don't see the beatific vision yet, so we need symbols, we need signs to take us on the road. And it's very important that we turn to Mary because as Louis de Montfort, the great doctor of the Church once said, it's through Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it's through Mary that Jesus will reign in the world. She had a role to play at the beginning when He first came, and she has a role to play now as we approach the end times."


    Another reason for the conference was its coincidence with the 95th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima's miracle of the sun in October 1917, which is followed one month later by the Russian revolution. "We know from the Papal approved apparitions of Fatima that the conversion of Russia has been entrusted to Mary… And that's also why we chose Centro Russia Ecomenica, because again Mary has a providential role to play in the conversion of Russia."


    This conference also comes just days before the opening of the bishops' synod on New Evangelization. Due to her unique role within salvation history, Mary is seen as central to evangelization. "Of course," Mazza continued, "any attempt at evangelization has to start with Mary because Mary was the first evangelizer. She held up little Baby Jesus and showed the Wise Men, and he was the light to the Gentiles. She helped Jesus work His first miracle when he began his public ministry."


    Mary's role as evangelist, moreover, extends beyond the Gospels and to foreign continents. Our Lady of Guadalupe, for instance, was "the catalyst that helped to convert 9 million Aztecs over the course of 15 years, whereas before her apparition in Mexico City they had maybe a few hundred, or a few thousand converts."


    In addition to the synod, the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II Council approaches this month, and it is recalled that for some time there was a decline with regard to Mary and devotion to her. "It is ironic," Mazza pointed out, "that after the Vatican II Council, especially for the first ten, fifteen, maybe twenty years there was a decline in Marian devotion. I say it's ironic, because when Pope John XXIII opened the Council exactly 50 years ago next week, he did it on the feast day of the Maternity of Mary, which actually has subsequently changed."


    With regard to renewing Marian devotion in modern society: "Pope Paul VI actually tried to do it in the heat of the crisis. It was in 1972 when he complained that the smoke of Satan had somehow entered into the Church. He issued an encyclical on Mary, and tried to bring about greater devotion to her, and then of course Blessed John Paul II took on the title 'Totus Tuus' as his motto: 'I am all yours.'"


    Blessed John Paul II also held a devotion to our Lady of Fatima. "She saved his life on the day he was shot in St Peter's square. He was shot on May 13th, which was the day she first appeared to the children in 1917."


    "There are promising signs that we can renew our faith in Jesus and get closer to Him by knowing Mary. I like to say: No Mary, no Jesus; know Mary, know Jesus."


    Prof. Mazza concluded that, with regard to spreading the importance of Marian devotion, "there's a certain urgency of the moment; we see a rise in a world without God."


    "Our Holy Father has talked about the dictatorship of relativism, about the errors of socialism, and during this time of world-wide economic crisis there is a temptation to think only in terms of those things. When our Lady came to Lourdes, and when our Lady came to Fatima in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, she offered another plan. She said we have to make reparation to her Immaculate Heart. We have to pray the Rosary every day. We have to promote the five first Saturdays. The Pope has to consecrate Russia, together with all the bishops."


    "I think if we want to solve he worldwide crisis," Mazza said, "we have to actually start with Mary, because when God wanted to solve the worldwide crisis, He sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, and that is how the New Testament begins. Whenever God wants to renew the world, He does it through Mary."



    3 Popes Who Have Loved Our Lady
    Father Salvatore Perrella on the Mariology of Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI

    By Antonio Gaspari


    ROME, SEPT. 11, 2012 ( The pontificates of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and the Church's study of Mary during the Second Vatican Council, have brought about a renewed and reinvigorated Mariology in our times, says the president of the Marianum Pontifical Theological Faculty.


    Father Salvatore Perrella addressed the 23rd International Marian Mariological Congress, held last week, presenting the personal contribution that the Bishops of Rome have made to the deepening of the Marian doctrine of Vatican II, promulgated particularly in Chapter 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium.


    According to Father Perrella, “The Council chose Mary as collaborator, Mother to the messianic work of the Son and her subordinate but effective salvific function” because “Mary’s living of the faith is singular and intimately related to the uniqueness of the mystery of Christ, she has a particular form of being in Christ, because of this Mary is Mother of the Church.”


    The Council wished to stress that Mary is never an alternative to Christ; that devotion to Mary is integrated in the vision of faith that means recognizing the singularity of her role and of her way of being with Jesus Christ.


    Counting the Marian documents, interventions, and messages published by the Pontiffs there is considerable growth. There were 25 written by Pius IX, 56 by Leo XIII, 37 by Pius X, 30 by Benedict XV, 309 by Pius XI, 470 by Pius XII, 501 by John XXIII, 315 by Paul VI, and 1,600 by John Paul II.


    In the course of the closing address of Vatican II, Paul VI said on Nov. 21, 1964: “It is the first time that a Council presents such a vast synthesis of Catholic doctrine on the place that Mary Most Holy occupies in the mystery of Christ and of the Church.”


    “Knowledge of true Catholic doctrine on Mary, will always constitute a key for the exact understanding of the mystery of Christ and of the Church,” he added.


    In the Apostolic Exhortation Signum magnum, Paul VI said that piety towards Mary is, for the Church, “an indisputable and unbreakable duty to the Mother of the Son of God.”


    “It is an altogether singular devotion, required and founded on her theological prerogatives, attested by biblical texts, by the holy Fathers and by Lumen Gentium by which the Virgin is honored with special devotion, especially liturgical,” said the Pontiff.


    In regard to Blessed Pope John Paul II, Father Perrella said he was the doctor Marianus of our time because “in his intense and noteable teaching the Virgin was one of the most recurring and loved topics.”


    The then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, today Pope Benedict XVI, stressed that “in the Mother of the Redeemer and in Mariology itself all the topics of the faith are found.”


    In conclusion, the president of the Marianum said that the years of the pontificates of Paul VI, of John Paul II and now of Benedict XVI, and, in a particular way, in guiding the doctrine of chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium, the Church with her teaching and theology have “re-motivated and renewed Mariology in a convincing way.”


    For Father Perrella, “Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium has integrated Mary of Nazareth in the mystery of the Trinitarian God of Christ beginning with the Word of faith taking into due account the living Tradition of the Church, being careful to propose a doctrine that does not make dissension grow but inspires consensus and fraternal dialogue, in charity and truth, between the Church, Churches and the Christian confessions.”


    The president of the Marianum confirmed that Mary has been present since the beginning of Christianity because of her person and her role and significance for the faith and for the life of faith, she has “become an indelible part of the ecclesial event, as the 2,000-year history of Christianity demonstrates read and interpreted on the important deposit of culture.”


    Father Perrella concluded by stressing “may the Virgin Mary influence culture, modifying, purifying and enriching it.”



    Marian Devotion in a Post Vatican II Era

    Mariology Society of America President Reflects on Rosary and Our Lady's Comeback

    By Ann Schneible


    ROME, SEPT. 6, 2012 ( "Through this Year of Faith, in the new evangelization of the Church, Mary is the mother who is also the leader of evangelization" -- these are the words of Father James Phalan, president of the Mariology Society of America, and a participant in this year's conference "Mariology since Vatican II," hosted by the Pontifical Antonianum University and currently under way in Rome.


    The 23rd International Marian Mariological congress, which was organized by the International Pontifical Marian Academy, runs all this week, exploring the theme of Marian devotion and theological methodology in the years following the Second Vatican Council.


    In addition to his position as president of the Mariology Society of America, Father Phalan is a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross where he serves as director of Family Rosary International, continuing the work of Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton. Over the week of the conference, Father Phalan contributed to two workshops that explored post-Vatican II Mariology.


    Father Phalan spoke with ZENIT about Vatican II and Marian devotion in these post-conciliar years.


    ZENIT: What did Vatican II contribute to the understanding of Mary?

    Father Phalan: Vatican II said nothing novel about Mary. What's important to realize in Vatican II is its methodology for the renewal of the Church. John XXIII wanted to have this "aggiornamento," this renewal of the Church, through a return to our sources, through a return to Scripture, through a return to the Tradition of the Church (particularly the Fathers of the Church), and to the liturgical tradition of the Church, to then be able to respond to the needs of the Church in the modern world as we see in Gaudium et Spes.

    That same methodology was applied to our reflection on the Blessed Virgin Mary. That did require a bit of a shift because that wasn't really the exact methodology that had been used regarding our reflection on the Blessed Virgin Mary for several hundred years before the council. That was a bit of a change attitude which, mistakenly, was taken as an implication that we changed the teaching about Mary. We didn't change the teaching about Mary.


    ZENIT: Perhaps there was a time of "silence" about Mary after Vatican II. How has Marian devotion developed in this post-conciliar period?

    Father Phalan: It's true; for those of us who lived through the years after the Second Vatican Council, there was a collapse of Marian reflection in the Church for a variety of reasons. As I said, there was a shift in the methodology, but then there were also other things going on in the world. In brief, the implementation of Vatican II collided with the very disjointed intense social change that was happening in the late 1960s.

    There was this collapse in reflection and devotion, particularly in developed countries, less so in the developing world. In South America and Africa, Christianity was still very new; the Philippines remain very strong.

    Speaking about the "developed" world, there was a marked decline in Marian devotion, and this still is the case. Marian devotion is not at all what it was 60 years ago in the Catholic Church in the United States, Canada and Europe. But we can see the signs of new growth. There is lots of rebirth in interest in the rosary. There's lots of desire to understand who Mary is. There are a lot of new movements within the Church that are rediscovering the importance of the Blessed Virgin Mary, prayer of the rosary, and her place in family prayer especially.

    There is still a long ways to go. A part of it is that there is not a whole lot of preaching about Mary that people hear in their local parishes. There needs to be a deepening of Mariological reflection embraced by the whole Church, and particularly by the clergy. In many seminaries, the clergy hasn't studied much about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Hopefully an event like this -- this international Mariological congress, and through other events -- there will be a lot of promotion of Marian devotion through the Year of Faith. Hopefully those will be moments that will help people again to rediscover who Mary is in the Church.

    Paul VI declared Mary "Mother of the Church" at the end of the Vatican Council. Mary is the one who is waiting for us now, as we want to help people rediscover their faith. Through this Year of Faith, in the new evangelization of the Church, Mary is the mother who is also the leader of evangelization. This is a time that we can hopefully rediscover this more, and help these new shoots of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary to keep blossoming forth.


    ZENIT: What is the role of the rosary in bringing about this renewal, especially among young people?

    Father Phalan: It is really interesting to see how there is this natural attraction to the rosary; it shows that there is something really compelling about the rosary. It's a sign of our Christian identity. The more we understand it theologically, and the more our clergy and Church leadership really embrace what is really the theology of the Church about the Blessed Virgin Mary as taught in Vatican II, then we understand what the rosary is. It's a powerful tool of evangelization.

    The rosary is so easy to learn, and the Rosary is a way of prayer – a tried-and-true way of prayer for families. There is a power that people discover in it; they may not even need to be able to explain it. What the Popes have really been urging us to understand, repeatedly through centuries, and especially since Vatican II, is that the rosary is a beautiful way for us to come to know Christ. John Paul II said that the rosary is a school of prayer. It is the school of Mary, through which the rosary can be the way in which we contemplate the face of Christ, with Mary. The rosary is about the meditation on the life of Christ. The Mysteries of the Rosary which many people often just kind of pass over – they are missing the meat! It's like going to a big banquet and eating just the bread on the table and thinking that's the whole meal. The substance of the rosary is really how Mary teaches about Jesus. Mary brings us to Jesus. Mary helps us to love Jesus the way she loves Jesus and to know Jesus the way she knows Jesus.



    Pontiff's Secretary of State Launches Marian Jubilee Year
    Cardinal Bertone Celebrates Solemn Mass at Marian Shrine


    AVELLINO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2012 ( - The merits of the Virgin Mary go beyond the fact of being the Mother of the Lord. "She was available to the will of God," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone during a solemn Mass celebrated on Saturday at the Benedictine Shrine of Montevergine, in the province of Avellino.


    In the sanctuary of Irpinia, the Pope's secretary of state launched a Marian Jubilee Year granted by Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of the seventh centenary of the official veneration of the icon of Our Lady of Montevergine.


    In addition to this anniversary, the Benedictine community also celebrated the relocation of the icon to its historic chapel. In 1960, the icon was transferred to the interior of the new basilica of the sanctuary.


    The jubilee year, the cardinal said in an interview last week with Vatican Radio, "is a strong and urgent call to witness, a proclamation of the faith, an abundant sowing of the Word of God for a new evangelization in our time."


    He affirmed that "the holiness and greatness of Mary is right in its role as a collaborator of God, as the dispenser of grace and mercy for every devotee that turns to Her."


    Mary, he continued, "is the Queen of Heaven, who holds in her arms the Son of God, who is also her child and who inherited from her human nature, became man in her womb, and grew in age and wisdom, thanks to her maternal care."


    But, the cardinal said, "for Jesus, his mother was not just that. Her merits are much greater: she was available to the will of God, and put herself to His full service."


    The icon of the Virgin Mary, also known as the "Majesty of Montevergine" and ascribed to the painter Montano d'Arezzo, is distinguished, according to Cardinal Bertone, through its piercing eyes: benevolent and maternal.


    "Eyes - says the prelate - that call to prayer, at the opening of the heart. They are eyes that look not at a large group, but at the single individual who prays and looks at her. Every devotee, every person who prays feels personal attention from the Madonna. "


    At the end of his exhortation, the Secretary of State expressed the hope that the celebration of the jubilee year would be seen as "an invitation to renew a sincere and filial devotion to Mary, because it helps to strengthen our sometimes shaky faith and to listen to the teaching of her Son, Jesus, transmitted by the Holy Church."


    The Secretary of State also recalled with emotion the late former archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, whom he called "a man who encouraged all to move forward and to not hold back." Cardinal Martini passed away last Friday. "When Pope Benedict XVI offered me the post of secretary, I was in Genoa, where he was archbishop. I confided in him and asked his advice. He encouraged me to take the job," Bertone said.



    Philippines Looking Forward to Canonization of Native Son
    Also Celebrating 5 Centuries of Christianity


    CEBU, Philippines, AUG. 30, 2012 ( On Oct. 21, Benedict XVI will canonize Blessed Pedro Calungsod who gave his life for the faith on April 2, 1672, in Guam.


    The canonization will take place during the Synod of Bishops on the theme of the New Evangelization and just after the start of the Year of Faith, which commences Oct. 11.


    Calungsod was a Filipino lay catechist born in 1654 and was doing a missionary work in Guam at age 17. Blessed John Paul II beatified him on March 5, 2000.


    The archbishop of Cebu launched the period of preparation for the ceremony at the Fuente Osmeña in Cebu City in July.


    According to information recently published by the Philippines Bishops’ Conference the miracle leading to Calungsod’s canonization, approved by the Vatican last year, involved a woman who almost died due to a lack of oxygen.


    Monsignor Ildebrando Leyson, the lead advocate for Calungsod’s sainthood, said that the miracle took place in 2003. Leyson said the woman was comatose caused by hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a deadly condition in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen.


    “The doctor himself who knew the situation that the patient would die anytime prayed before Pedro Calungsod, to save the life of his patient,” Leyson said, in an article posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Web site.


    Four hours later, the woman regained consciousness, he said, which surprised the doctor taking care of the patient.


    An article published on the Web site of the Archdiocese of Cebu by Mongisnor Dennis Villarojo linked Calungsod with the New Evangelization. He lived in “vastly different times from ours,” he admitted.


    “Yet, the values which he lived are no different from the values we need to embody in the new evangelization. In particular, his boldness in leaving home and accompanying the missionaries to spread the Gospel in a possibly hostile environment is a call for us to be also courageous in giving witness to Christ in our present circumstances,” he said.


    Catholics in the Philippines are taking part in a celebration of a “100 days of grace” leading up to the canonization. A pastoral letter published earlier this year by the bishops of the Philippines noted that March 16 this year marked the 500thanniversary of the arrival of Christianity to their land.


    The Church in the Philippines will undertake a nine-year spiritual program, starting on the date of Calungsod’s canonization, and lasting until March 2021.


    Calungsod will be canonized with six others, along with the first Native American saint, Kateri Tekakwitha.



    In Philippines, US, Catholics Prepare to Welcome New Teen Saint

    By Simone Orendain
    Catholic News Service

    MANILA, Philippines (CNS) -- Catholics in the Philippines and the U.S. are preparing to celebrate the Oct. 21 canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, a teen catechist killed in Guam in the 17th century.

    Witness accounts in the records of Jesuit missionaries show Blessed Pedro died trying to protect his mentor, Jesuit Father Diego Jose Luis San Vitores, a missionary who was also killed in the attack. Two Chamorro chiefs pursued the missionaries when they learned Father San Vitores had baptized a chief's daughter without his consent.

    Blessed Pedro, a native of Cebu province in the Philippines, "was the first to be attacked in the assault," explained Msgr. Ildebrando Leyson of the Cebu Archdiocese. " And they marveled how he was so skillful in evading the darts of the spears ... until finally he was hit in the chest. He fell and the other assassin split his skull."

    Blessed Pedro's martyrdom has captured the imagination of some admirers, but it was his intercession that made the Vatican take notice.

    Msgr. Leyson, rector of the Shrine of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, spent about 15 years looking into Blessed Pedro's history. He was part of a team of clergy that had to verify miraculous works attributed to the martyr, who was beatified in 2000. Msgr. Leyson said there were many claims of sick people being healed because they asked for Blessed Pedro's intercession.

    In 2003, an unnamed patient recovered from a type of deep coma that is rarely survived. When such patients do survive, they normally remain in a vegetative state.

    One afternoon a doctor in Cebu, who worried he might lose his patient, implored Blessed Pedro to intercede, and four hours later the patient started showing vital signs, according to Msgr. Leyson. Over several weeks, the patient -- who had never heard of Blessed Pedro -- was up and about. Scientists could not explain the situation, and the Vatican's team of expert doctors and clergy studied the phenomenon for six years before deeming it a miracle in 2011.

    Msgr. Leyson said the archdiocese is careful not to focus on the identity person who was healed to respect their privacy and to help keep a spiritual perspective.

    "We would want that the attention should be focused on God, who did the miracle," he said. "And to Pedro Calungsod whose intercession it was that occasioned the miracle ... otherwise we would be worshipping something else!"

    In Seattle, Deacon Fred Cordova of Immaculate Conception Church took note of Blessed Pedro when he learned about the miracle. The 81-year old Filipino-American was born to Filipino parents and was raised in the United States.

    Deacon Cordova is a retired historian, and he helped found the Blessed Pedro Calungsod Guild in 2005. He said he thinks of Blessed Pedro as a friend, and the guild founders thought that, in the spirit of friendship, his impending sainthood would be a good way to bring Filipino-American Catholics together and help them feel at home in their adopted culture.

    "They may go into a parish and not feel ownership ... like they're there just as guests," Deacon Cordova told Catholic News Service by phone. "We try and make them feel very much a part, to participate in everything of parish life besides just the sacraments, besides just the liturgy."

    Deacon Cordova said the guild has received generous donations toward planned celebrations and events around Blessed Pedro's canonization.

    Another group is preparing for Blessed Pedro's ascension to sainthood through the +Big Movement in Manila. One of the movement's founders, Clarke Nebrao, is a lay missionary who wanted to commemorate the Cebu Archdiocese's "Year of Missions" by looking to Blessed Pedro as an example.

    "We thought of 'plus big' because he didn't do anything big (before he was martyred)," said Nebrao. "But everything he did became so significant that we know that in our life today, if we do small acts of kindness, small acts of goodness (for) others through the mission, eventually the Lord will magnify that life that you have given and the life that you have lived for him."



    Pope Calls on Faithful to Follow the Example of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    Celebrates Feast of the Assumption in Castel Gandolfo


    CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 16, 2012 ( Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the Mass of the Assumption at the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Castel Gandolfo on Wednesday morning. The pontiff said the solemnity is "an invitation to praise God and to look to Our Lady’s greatness since we know who God is by gazing about the faces of those who are his."


    Entrusting the faithful to the blessed Mother, the Holy Father asked her intercession so that all may live their lives with hope. "A Christian hope, that is not only a nostalgia for heaven, but a living and active desire of God here in the world, desire of God that makes us pilgrims who are unwearied, nourishing in courage in us and the power of faith, which at the same time is the courage and power of love," he said.


    Later in the day, the Holy Father prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo at noon on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


    Prior to the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father explained that Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into heaven at the end of the course of her earthly life is something that Christians throughout the world have always believed, confessed and celebrated. Recalling the words of the Magnificat, the Pope said that Mary placed herself among the "poor and the lowly" who put their trust in God and not in their own strength.


    "If the Assumption opens us up to the bright future that awaits us, it also powerfully invites us to entrust ourselves to God, to follow his Word, to seek and do his will every day: this is the path that makes us 'blessed' on our earthly pilgrimage and opens the gates of heaven to us," he said.


    After the Marian prayer, the 85 year old pontiff greeted pilgrims in many languages, among them, the english speaking faithful. "I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, including the groups from Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith, that we may rejoice with her in the glory of the resurrection and the fulfillment of her Son’s promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!," he said.




    Philippine Bishops Praise Senators Expose on Reproductive Health Bill
    Various International Lobby Groups Allegedly Behind Measure


    MANILA, Philippines, AUG. 16, 2012 ( Vicente Sotto III, a senator in the Philippine Congress, has won praise from ranking Catholic bishops for his expose surrounding the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill.


    Sotto revealed various international lobby groups behind the measure and their motives that would allow abortions to be performed in the country.


    He particularly cited the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which has long been providing birth control services to many nations, as among those pushing for RH’s passage in the Philippines.


    "We appreciate those who advocate for pro-God policies," said Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).


    On Monday, the senator also said it is his "personal" mission to block the passage of the population control bill because his son died due to the side effects of contraceptives.

    He became emotional as he blamed contraceptives for the medical condition of his son, Vincent Paul, who died five months after he was born in 1975.


    When asked to comment on the senator’s statement, Archbishop Palma said, "The advocacy of leaders really depends with many things and other context of morality. We are grateful for those who support pro-life laws."


    For his part, Bishop Gabriel Reyes of Antipolo, chairman of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said they are still hopeful the RH bill will not be passed into law. "We are still hopeful even if we really don’t know what our lawmakers are thinking. We are still praying that it will not be passed," Bishop Reyes said.


    Now that the Lower House has entered into the period of amendments, the bishop called on lawmakers to omit the “wrong” provisions in the measure. "Among them include the questionable sex education program and that employers should provide contraceptives to their employers," the Filipino prelate said.


    Bishop Reyes also revealed that many lawmakers who favored the termination of the debate on the RH bill assured them that they would reject the bill once it is put to a vote on second reading on the floor.


    "There are congressmen who told us that they will vote for an end of the interpellation but when time comes that they have to vote for its passage, they will vote no," he added.




    Philippine Catholic Bishop's Statement on End of Debates of Reproductive Health Bill
    "The Catholic Church and Those Who Are Similarly Minded Ask for Nothing More Than Fairness"


    MANILA, Philippines, AUG. 14, 2012 ( Here is the statement from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on recent act by Congress to end debates for the proposed Reproductive Health Bill.


    * * *


    A Matter of Fairness


    CBCP Statement on the recent voting in the House of Representatives ending the debates on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill


    It was not supposed to happen. The agreement was to vote on August 7, 2012, when every side would have been ready and prepared to defend its cause as in any democratic setting.


    Unfortunately, in a move remarkable in its stealth and swiftness, the ruling group of the House of Representatives, on August 6, 2012, managed to force a vote that terminated the period of debates on the RH Bill. It came a full day too soon, just when “no one was looking”. Except for the cabal of schemers, people were caught off-guard by the suddenness of the execution, especially those who oppose the Bill on faith or principle.


    We are dismayed by the display of naked power. We lament the unilateral disregard of prior agreement in the pursuit of selfish goals. We detest the unbridled resort to foul tactics. We denounce the brazen disregard of the basic tenets of fair play and attempt to railroad the passage of the Bill. Not least, we question the surrender of legislative discretion to an intrusive President, reminiscent of the events leading to the impeachment proceedings.


    The Catholic Church and those who are similarly minded ask for nothing more than fairness. After all, we have as much right to expose the dangers and ills of the Bill as those who promote it. So much is at stake in this fight for life: protection of women’s health against harmful contraceptives; preservation of parental authority over minor children; protection of the youth against valueless sex education; wrongful discrimination of the poor; wasteful disbursement of billions of pesos for contraceptives while many of the poor die of cancer, tuberculosis, dengue and other ailments without the benefit of medicine; suppression of dissent and civil liberties through threatened imprisonment and gradual annihilation of the Philippine race through systematic reduction of maternal fertility rate.


    In the face of a well-funded campaign to have the RH Bill passed as envisioned by foreign institutions, and despite the undeserved attacks it is reaping, the Catholic Church stands firm in its resolve to fight this deadly measure at every turn and no matter the cost ― all for love of God, flock, and country.


    We commend the bravery and dedication of legislators who continue to resist the Bill even at the risk of retaliation from the powers-that-be. To them go our blessing and the gratitude of the faithful. Their courageous and patriotic acts will be remembered long after the last debate had been waged and the final vote had been cast.


    Finally, we urge all devoted Catholics to unite against the Bill. Intensify your prayers and let your voices be heard and your actions seen against this deadly measure. Truth is on our side. Developed countries with dwindling population are beginning to realize the folly of population control, and some, like Singapore, regret having adopted it. Most importantly, the Bill’s anti-life features go against our Constitution, our treasured traditions and the basic teachings of the Catholic Church as enunciated years ago by Pope Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II.


    For and in behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,


    + JOSE S. PALMA, D.D.
    Archbishop of Cebu & President, CBCP
    13 August 2012



    Filipino Bishops Warn that Reproductive Health Bill First Step Toward Legal Abortion

    MANILA, August 8, 2012 ( - The Philippines’ Catholic bishops said the government’s recent move to end 14 years of contentious debate on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill and force a vote, will have “tragic and catastrophic” consequences for Filipinos if the bill is passed.


    The bill, House Bill 4244, mandates sex education in schools and subsidized contraceptives.


    The Philippine House of Representatives passed a motion on Monday, at the request of President Benigno Aquino, to close debate on the controversial bill that has consistently been opposed by the country’s pro-life leaders, and proceed with deliberation on amendments to the bill.


    “May God have mercy on our Congress,” said the former president of the Philippines’ bishops conference, Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo of Jaro, one of many church leaders who condemned the measure.


    Fr. Melvin Castro, head of the Catholic bishops’ Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said President Aquino was “hard-hearted” in his refusal to further consider the concerns of opponents of the RH Bill, and criticized the dubious tactics used to advance the legislation.


    “They break their own rules. They really forced it today,” Fr. Castro said on Monday. “It’s railroading. They’re destroying the very essence of democracy.”


    In July President Aquino said that population control is the answer to the backlogs in education and the alleviation of poverty.


    However, the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma said that the RH bill is not the key to resolving poverty in the country and that the country’s “positive” birth rate and population composed mostly of young people are the main players that fuel the economy.


    “The population control policy of the RH bill would only stall our economic growth. The problem of countries with former robust economies is the lack of young workers for their industries and inadequate support for their aging population,” stated Archbishop Palma.


    “It is therefore quite disturbing when the country is told that having too many children is a burden to the national budget,” the Cebu archbishop said, noting, “There is a grave reason to worry when the government would rather suppress the population through the RH Bill instead of confronting the real causes of poverty.”


    In a letter condemning the RH Bill directed to Filipino youth, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas of Lingayen Dagupan, pointed out that although bureaucratic corruption is “the cancer of the Philippines that prevents us from growing,” the ideology that promotes contraception is more harmful in that it is a form of corruption that “harms your soul,” and leads to abortion.


    “We are battling against contraception because we know it can harm your soul. Believe me. Contraception harms your soul. Contraception is corruption,” Archbishop Villegas stated, adding, “Contraceptive pills teach us this ‘It is alright to have sex with someone provided you are safe from babies. Babies are a nuisance.’ A culture of contraception looks at babies as reasons for our poverty. Birth control, they say, means more food, more classrooms, more houses and better health for mothers. If more babies are the cause of poverty, are we now saying, ‘No more children means no more hardship?’”


    The archbishop illustrated his point with the example of Europe’s demographic winter and the prophetic words of Paul VI who foretold that contraception would lead to rampant sexual promiscuity and end in unrestricted abortion.


    “Europe is on the downtrend,” Archbishop Villegas said. “It is losing its soul because it now relies on the influx of migrants to keep it afloat. They are facing a severe wintertime in their child births. It is losing its identity because it does not have children and youth to carry the torch. They started with contraception, they embraced abortion and now they are killing their weak and sick grandparents.


    “Paul VI prophesied that artificial contraception could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. And it is happening in Europe. We your elders plead with you do not follow that path to moral corruption. Dare to be different. Dare to be better!”


    Archbishop Villegas concluded his plea to Filipino youth by reiterating that “Contraception is corruption. Contraception is the mother of abortion. Contraception makes sex pleasure cheap without responsibility. Contraception says babies and children are annoying. Contraception is contra youth. Contraception is contra children. Contraception is against us.” He noted incisively, “There is no Tagalog or Pangasinan word for contraception because it is not only ungodly, it is also unFilipino.”


    A film titled “The Philippines: Preserving a Culture of Life” produced by Human Life International (HLI) documents the assault on the pro-life values of the Philippines by Western pro-abortion advocates of the anti-life Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. Watch the film here.



    Filipino Bishops Denounce Move on Reproductive Legislation
    Archbishop Lagdameo: May God Have Mercy on Our Congress
    By Junno Arocho

    MANILA, Philippines, AUG. 8, 2012 ( Despite protests from the bishops' conference, the Philippine Congress has ended debates on the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. While a final approval of the bill has not been reached, the move will allow for amendments of the bill to be enacted.


    The Reproductive Health bill would allow for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill would also enforce "sexual education" on children starting at the 5th grade level.


    Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they refuse to provide free services to their employees.


    The Catholic Church in the Philippines has expressed dismay at the act by the Congress. "May God have mercy on our Congress," exclaimed Archbishop Angel Lagdameo of Jaro.


    Despite the turn of events, Archbishop Lagdameo encouraged those protesting the bill to continue their advocacy. “Do not lose hope. Our campaign continues. I hope you do not surrender because of this challenge,” he said in an interview with Youth Pinoy, one of several youth groups involved in the Church’s Anti-RH advocacy.


    As for the members of the Filipino Congress, who will soon vote on the proposed legislation, Lagdameo urged them to "be discerning."


    "I hope that they will discern on what will truly bring about the common good for our country," he said. He also urged proponents of the RH bill in the Congress and Senate to "reconsider their position."


    President Benigno Aquino III recently expressed support for the bill by saying that it would help reduce overcrowding in schools. The Bishops Conference was swift in its denouncement of the president’s statement, stating that the bill is nothing more than a population control method under the guise of "reproductive health."


    The CBCP called on Catholics to openly oppose the bill. An estimated 10,000 people attended a Prayer Power Rally on Saturday to voice their opposition to the legislation. The rally ended with a Mass presided over by Bishop Gabriel Reyes, chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life. Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani of Novaliches delivered the homily where he spoke strongly against President Aquino’s support of the RH bill.



    Bad Weather No Deterrent for Rally-bound Pro-lifers

    MANILA, Aug. 4, 2012—Not even overcast skies and downpours can put a damper on people’s resolve to affirm a pro-life conviction, said a UP student who is bent on taking part in a big prayer rally against a proposed population control measure.


    “No amount of rain can dampen a fiery passion for life. I will stay. We must stay. Better that it rains than be burnt in the heat,” said UP student Kiboy Tabada who – together with his fellow students – will be among the thousands of young people at today’s “Prayer Power Rally Against the RH Bill” at the Edsa Shrine.


    Though Manila has been experiencing strong rains the entire week, the fervor to express pro-life convictions at the August 4 rally remains among faith-based groups, family and life advocates, and concerned citizens who are keeping abreast of developments and details concerning the event, which is now only one of more than a dozen mass actions geared toward opposing the RH bill.


    Yung inconvenience ng ulan o init, ilang oras lang. Yung pagkakasakit isang araw lang ‘yun. Kung madumihan ang sapatos pwede namang linisin ang sapatos o bumili ng bago. Pero yung mga masasamang epekto ng RH bill, kung pumasa at maging batas, ilang siglo bago maitatama kung maitatama man,” Atty. Cristina Montes pointed out.


    Ilang henerasyon ang mawawala. Buong kultura, buong bansa masisira. Buhay ng tao, ng buong bansa, ating kalayaan ang nakataya. Maapektuhan ang ating mga anak, mga apo, at kanilang mga anak at apo,” the lawyer added.


    “I will never back out,” asserted Rollie Delos Reyes, who will troop to the Edsa Shrine all the way from Las Pinas. “I will bring my big umbrella… Rains will just be a test of faith for us – I will offer it as an additional sacrifice for the ‘metanoia’ of the hearts of men and women on this pressing issue.”


    Delos Reyes decided to take part in the rally “because I believe that it is about time for us to show our numbers, that we are not just the silent minority that is an irritant to pro-RH supporters and legislators, but we are the majority vote of the people!”


    Others are taking the rally as an opportunity to actively oppose the notion of “institutionalized contraception,” which the legislative measure ultimately proposes based on provisions that push taxpayer-funded procurement, promotion and distribution of birth control drugs and devices.


    “I will be there to support the movement against the RH Bill because the repercussions are far reaching. I can see what the effects of institutionalized contraception can do to a society and I don’t want my children to inherit an immoral legacy,” said Dr. Ricardo Boncan, who will be joining the Manila rally with his family.


    “I have seen first-hand how ingrained the contraceptive mentality is in our health care system. The RH Bill will only make it worse,” said Dr. Juvy Anne Agravante. “I’m joining the prayer rally in Cebu with the hope that this bill shall not pass.”


    Delos Reyes said making the effort to join the event and be one in prayer with the others present may indicate the authenticity of one’s professed faith.



    Show Catholic authenticity


    “Going to this event will prove your Catholic authenticity – that you are not just a nominal Catholic, but someone who is willing to stand to fight for his or her convictions,” he explained.


    “One must know the issues behind the RH bill and the reasons why we are opposing it. You don’t have to be intelligent to know that it is harmful for individuals and for the Philippine society at large.”


    While prayer rallies are being held in different parts of the country, some will be taking part in the mass actions in spirit, though the commitment to the reasons for the rally remains.


    Resty Odon is unable to be physically present at the Manila rally for health reasons, “but I will be a prayer warrior. I have exhausted all possible reasons to explain my opposition to the bill. It’s very hard to reason with a wall, thus the need to highlight the spiritual nature of the battle. The RH Bill offends on so many levels — and it offends the most at the spiritual.”


    Montes, currently living abroad is unable to go but said she fully supports the event. It is in defense of Filipinos’ faith, freedom and identity as a nation, as well as of the littlest Filipinos who are deprived of the right to life, she explained.


    “It is an appeal for meaningful ways of helping the poor which recognize their worth as citizens instead of seeing them as animals to be neutered and spayed,” she said, adding that traveling abroad has made her realize that even though the Philippines lacks many things that in other nations are abundant, “it is still where I belong because it has the most important things. Let us fight to keep it that way.”


    Simultaneous prayer rallies will also be held in the cities of Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, Zamboanga, Legaspi, Lucena, Tacloban, Roxas, Borongan, Cagayan de Oro, Baguio, and Dagupan.


    De Los Reyes hopes the mobilizations will lead people to a deeper understanding of the issues at hand.


    “I pray that more than 80% Filipino Catholics will wake up to the deception of the RH bill, and realize the lies behind it.”


    “Prayer Power Rally Against the RH Bill” was put together in barely a week, with the rest of the country getting into action in even less time.


    “It’s living proof that thousands upon thousands are moved by one Faith, and inspired by one Spirit. The Spirit that moves us to stand for Truth,” Tabada said. (CBCP for Life)



    Catholics rally against RH Bill

    By Marigold P. Lebumfacil (The Freeman) Updated August 05, 2012 12:00 AMComments (0)View comments

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    Thousands march from Fuente Osmeña to Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral to denounce the RH Bill. REYNAN VILLENA
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    CEBU, Philippines - Over 60,000 people from all walks of life marched from the Fuente Osmeña to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral yesterday for a solidarity rally against the passage of Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.


    The march culminated with a Mass celebrated by Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, who said the gathering was a prayer to the government officials led by President Benigno Aquino III.


    “We owe our government officials respect, we owe them obedience and we owe them prayer. Our gathering tonight is in the nature of prayer especially to our government officials and above all we pray for our President kay siya man ang naa sa kinatas-ang pwesto sa gobyerno (because he has the highest position in the government),” said Palma in his homily.


    Palma, the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), denied the reports that there was a dialogue between the bishops and cabinet members in the Malacañang Palace on July 19.


    “It was just a plain dinner, when we were invited along with other seven bishops who are members of the council and other cabinet members,” he said.


    Congress will tackle the RH Bill on August 7.


    During Aquino’s SONA, Palma said, he was surprised that the president talked about responsible parenthood.


    “Tonight we, pray that congressmen be given the light and courage. Much more we learned that this coming Sunday, the president is inviting the congressmen for a lunch,” he said.


    “This bill has been debated in the past 17 years. It has divided us as a people,” he added.


    Palma pointed out five things regarding their stand against the RH Bill during the homily, which was also attended by some politicians, including Cebu City north district Representative Cutie del Mar, former Rep. Raul del Mar, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.


    First, he said, is the constitutional dimension where there is a provision to protect the right of the unborn, which simply means anti-abortion and that the right to decide the numbers of the children is for the parents. Second is demographic where the big issue was that the Philippines is overpopulated.


    “The problem is that there are less young people to become workers. There is a population winter,” he said.


    “The young population of the Philippines is an asset and that’s why now it is difficult to prove that ang “daghang mga tawo” (huge population) is a threat,” he explained.


    Third, he said, is the economic aspect.


    He clarified that it’s not the population that causes economic problems but because of other factors, especially corruption.


    Fourth, he said, is medical wherein people are not much aware about using contraceptives and its consequences.


    Palma said that when the bill’s proponents are asked if they practiced what they proposed, most of them do not because they know the nature even for the medical point of view.


    He said fifth is spiritual and moral aspect where faith is part of life.


    “For me we could not deny and could not dissociate ourselves with our faith,” he said.


    Interestingly, Palma said that a month ago, there was a survey about which nations in the world have people who are believers in God and that the Philippines is number one.


    He also said that Pope Benedict XI announced that Cebu will host the International Eucharistic Congress on 2016.


    “This only means that the Pope recognizes our faith,” he said.


    He ended his homily by saying: “Tonight we pray that the Lord will guide our leaders and give them strength. We all the desire the good of our people that this could not be only today but for tomorrow.


    “They said that the bishops should understand that RH Bill is for the good of the children in the future. I said, if that will happen, there will be no children in the future because what we will have in the future are old people because there will no or less future children,” he ended.


    Meanwhile, Rep. Pablo John Garcia told The FREEMAN that he is against the RH Bill.


    “I’m against the RH Bill because I believe it seeks to allocate too big chunk of the health budget for a relatively narrow health concern. I believe there are more paramount health issues that should be addressed, like the top killer diseases. Plus, if you read Magna Carta for Women, a great majority of what the RH Bill seeks is already addressed there,” he said. — /LPM - THE FREEMAN



    Circular No. 2012-21 of Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle Prayer Power Rally Against the RH Bill



    Dear Brother-Priests, Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,


    In solidarity with the initiative of the Episcopal Commission on family and Life, the Roman catholic Archdiocese of Manila is enjoining everyone – priests, religious men and women, mandated organizations, committed lay men and women, and young people of the Archdiocese – to participate in a prayer power gathering on Saturday, August 4, 2012, at the Shrine of Mary Queen of Peace (EDSA Shrine), from 1 PM to 7 PM.


    The prayer rally is called “Prayer Power Rally Against the RH Bill.”


    Relying on the power of prayer and the necessity of informed awareness, we will gather together to be informed, enlightened and emboldened once more. We also wish to express why we believe the Reproductive Health Bill is not the solution to our many problems as individuals and as a country as it will even give rise to many other problems more pernicious and pervasive than the ones we face in the present.


    I enjoin all parish priests and leaders of communities and lay movements to rally their members and endorse participation in this important gathering aimed at communicating a strong and sincere appeal to the goodwill of our legislators.


    We once more entrust our country to the patronage of Mary, Our Lady of EDSA, as we continue to promote a genuine Culture of life and Love.



    In the service of the family,

    +Luis Antonio G. Tagle
    Archbishop of Manila



    Cebu Gears Up for Solidarity March Against RH Bill

    CEBU City, Aug. 1, 2012—In his circular to all clergy, religious and the laity in the Archdiocese of Cebu, Cebu Archbishop and CBCP President Jose S. Palma enjoined all parish priests, religious congregations, seminaries, school administrators, Church-mandated organizations, covenanted communities and the Council of the Laity to gather and attend the August 4 “Solidarity March and Mass for Life Against RH bill.”

    “The impending issue on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill is giving us a great challenge to manifest our faith into action that would translate into Love of God, Love of Neighbor, and Love of Country. We need to make manifest our being Christians by showing support that will also shout loud out strong opposition against the bill, which Congress will tackle into a critical moment of decision on August 7,” Palma said in his letter.
    “The role of the laity in the temporal order and especially in politics is the key for the evangelization of society,” Palma said, quoting Pope Benedict XVI.
    Assembly before the Saturday march will be at 4:00 in front of the Department of Health (DOH) region 7 office a few meters from Fuente Osmena Circle. At 4:30, before the main Solidarity March, participants will carry out a Jericho March toward and around the Circle.
    The Solidarity March, to be led by the prelate and together with priests and laity, will start at 5:30 toward the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, where a Eucharistic Celebration will be offered at 7:00, with Palma as main celebrant.
    Capping the event will be a Holy Hour, benediction, and consecration of the country to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary from 8:30-9:30.
    The “Solidarity March and Mass for Life Against RH bill” will be held simultaneously with a prayer rally against the proposed population control measure at the Edsa Shrine in Manila. (Jandel Posion)

    Church Calls on Faithful to August 4 Prayer Rally VS. the RH Bill

    MANILA, July 30, 2012–The Catholic Church is calling on all the faithful to stand up and express their opposition to the reproductive health (RH) bill by gathering at the EDSA Shrine on Saturday, August 4, for the “Prayer Power Rally against the RH Bill.”


    Organized by the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) together with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, the gathering – which takes place from 1:00-7:00pm – is expected to draw thousands, as strong opposition to the contentious measure has continued to grow among faith-based groups, youth organizations, family and life advocates, and concerned citizens.


    The event takes place three days before the expected August 7 “judgment day” of the RH bill at the House of Representatives, when solons vote whether or not to terminate interpellations on the measure.


    According to ECFL Chairman Antipolo Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes, “this is a moral issue and therefore this event will not be a political rally but a prayer rally focused on praying for the non-passage of the RH bill.”


    Participants are enjoined to wear red — the Church’s symbol of martyrdom – and to bring religious images, rosaries and candles to the event, which will include dynamic presentations and music besides rousing speeches that will shed more light on — and show the beauty and vitality of – an authentic culture of life.


    A Holy Mass will be offered at 5:00.


    The prelate has also requested for the daily recitation of the Angelus at 6:00 pm in every home and parish during these days leading up to next week’s crucial vote.


    In a radio interview today, CBCP President Cebu Archbishop Jose S. Palma referred to the prayer rally as “a demonstration of our sentiments and our advocacy for life.”


    “Let us show that what we believe in is for the common good,” he added. (CBCP for Life)



    Statement of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines President Archbishop Jose S. Palma, DD on the RH Bill


    Every birth is a gift from God; every new life, a blessing; every birth a cause for rejoicing and praising God who creates new life only out of love.


    Our country’s positive birth rate and a population composed of mostly young people are the main players that fuel the economy. A fact that even the government itself acknowledges as it is determined to feed, educate and keep the young people healthy.


    And rightly so, for even our Constitution acknowledges that human resource is a primary social and economic force.


    Earlier this year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported that the hard earned salaries of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that were sent to their families for the first 11 months last year amounted to $18.3 billion, which is a 7.3 percent increase in the same period in 2010.


    Filipino men and women who endure the travails of working on foreign soil play a significant role in propping up our economy.


    The country’s robust population is a big boost to our economy, according to former US President Bill Clinton, local and international financial institutions and the public sector.


    It is therefore quite disturbing when the country is told that having too many school children is a burden to the national budget.


    Can we have enough of schooled, skilled, diligent and highly driven young people who are a driving force of economic progress?


    The draconian population control policy of the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill would only curtail our economic growth. The problem of countries with former robust economies is the lack of young workers for their industries and inadequate support for their aging population.


    The issue on maternal deaths is a serious concern. The solution does not lie in suppressing births as provided in the RH Bill.


    Providing proper and adequate maternal care could be done without passing the RH bill, but by strengthening and improving access to existing medical services.


    There is an ill portent for the nation when government does not look at its own population as a source of grace and blessing.


    There is a grave reason to worry when government would rather suppress population through an RH bill instead of confronting the real causes of poverty.



    Archbishop of Cebu
    President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
    30 July 2012




    Filipino Bishops Say President's Support of Reproductive Measure Is Misleading
    Call for Faithful to Protest Ahead of August Vote
    By Junno Arocho


    SAN PABLO, Philippines, JULY 27, 2012 ( Bishop Leo Murphy Drona of San Pablo in the Philippines criticized Filipino president Benigno Aquino III for his apparent support of the Responsible Parenthood Bill, also known as the Reproductive Health Bill (RH).


    In his State of the Nation Address, President Aquino, while speaking on education, gave his support for the legislation. "We are ending the backlogs in the education sector, but the potential for shortages remains as our student population continues to increase. Perhaps responsible parenthood can help address this," President Aquino said.


    If the legislation is passed, the bill would allow for universal access to contraceptives, birth control and intrauterine devices (IUD). The bill would also enforce "sexual education" on children starting at the 5th grade level.


    Health care services that provide reproductive health, along with health care administrators could face fines or imprisonment if they refuse to provide services such as tubal ligation and vasectomies. Employers could face the same penalties if they refuse to provide free services to their employees.


    In response to the president’s statement, Bishop Drona asserted that Aquino was "misleading the Filipino nation into believing that by killing children and the unborn through aggressive population reduction, through the RH law, will be better for the country."


    Archbishop Jose Palmas of Cebu City, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), along with other members of the Episcopal Conference have called on the faithful to hold protests against the law.


    "People are free to manifest their own conviction not just for those who are in favor of RH but also for other people who certainly want to manifest that they are opposed to it. We support rallies against the RH bill," the archbishop said in an interview with Radio Veritas.


    Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life of the CBCP expressed his sadness and disappointment at President Aquino’s remarks. He also said that the president’s statement only confirmed the Church’s belief that the RH bill was nothing more than a population control measure "disguised" as a health care bill.


    "They’ve got so many excuses. In the end, it is about population control," Castro said at a Family and Life Conference in Antipolo City. "We do not see any connection between the education problem and the RH bill or his responsible parenthood [bill] because these are about the promoting and funding of contraceptive usage."


    Fr. Castro suggested that the faithful should also hold novenas till August 6, the day before the bill will be put up to a vote.


    "Let us pray so that they’ll vote according to their conscience and that there won’t be any pressure from the party leadership." he said.



    .- Although the new head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is optimistic about reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, he says that the teachings of the Church – including the dogmatic content of the Second Vatican Council – will never be up for re-negotiation.


    “The purpose of dialogue is to overcome difficulties in the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council,” Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller told CNA July 20, “but we cannot negotiate on revealed faith, that is impossible. An Ecumenical Council, according to the Catholic faith, is always the supreme teaching authority of the Church.”


    As prefect of the Congregation, Archbishop Muller is also the President of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” the Vatican body responsible for dialogue with the Society of St. Pius X.



    The Official Prayer for World Youth Day 2013

    VATICAN CITY, JULY 24, 2012 ( Below is the Official Prayer for World Youth Day 2013 which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    * * *


    Oh, Father, You sent Your Eternal Son to save the world and chose men and women, through Him, with Him and in Him, to proclaim the Good News to all nations. Grant us the graces necessary so that joy may shine in the faces of all young people, the joy of being, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the evangelists the Church needs in the Third Millennium.


    Oh Christ, Redeemer of humanity, the image of Your open arms on the top of Corcovado welcomes all people. In Your paschal offering, You brought us by the Holy Spirit to an encounter of sonship with the Father. Young people, who are fed by Eucharist, hear You in Your Word and meet You as their brother, need your infinite mercy to run the paths of the world missionary-disciples of the New Evangelization.


    Oh Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son, with the splendor of Your Truth and the fire of Your Love, send Your Light to all young people so that, driven by their experience of World Youth Day, they may bring to the four corners of the world faith, hope and charity, becoming great builders of a culture of life and peace and catalysts of a new world. Amen !




    Salesians Take Up Call to New Evangelization, Focus on Evangelizing the Young
    Interview With Father Filiberto González of the General Council


    ROME, JULY 19, 2012 ( The Salesians have always been dedicated to evangelization, but they are renewing their efforts in response to Benedict XVI’s call to evangelize, with a particular focus, as their charism dictates, on the evangelization of young people.


    Father Filiberto González is in charge of communications for the Salesians’ General Council and was recently interviewed by ZENIT.


    ZENIT: How many Salesians are there in the world today and in what countries?

    Father González: Salesians are in 130 countries, and we number some 15,500 including priests, deacons and consecrated souls with initial and perpetual profession. The number grows enormously if we think of the Salesian Family made up of 28 groups, such as the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, the Sacred Hearts, former students and volunteers, which extend from the consecrated to the laity. The latest birth in the Congregation is a group of families consecrated to the mission.


    ZENIT: How can Don Bosco’s charism be described?

    Father González: It is an educational, evangelizing charism aimed toward young people, particularly the neediest. In the endeavor of educating and evangelizing we seek to have them understand that God loves them and that they are important in the Church. We work faithful to our charism, as evangelizers, educators and communicators of the love of God. These are, for us, the three central elements.


    ZENIT: Italy has changed a lot since the time of Don Bosco. Has this meant a change in your charism?

    Father González: The charism is the same in Italy and in the world. In Italy, as in other places, we try to be faithful to our sources: the Gospel and Don Bosco’s charism.


    ZENIT: In Italy you have universities.

    Father González: Yes, it’s true, we have some universities and schools of all types, particularly technical institutes, in which youth want to learn to work to be “good Christians and honest citizens.” Moreover, the charism is expressed also in parishes, oratories and in all these endeavors we unite ourselves to the efforts of the Church in Italy. We have some centers for kids with problems of addiction, who, thank God, are few, but they are the neediest, many of them are Italians but there are also immigrants.


    ZENIT: And in other countries?

    Father González: We work in all types of schools and universities, parishes, centers and in the mission in areas that no one reaches. In Brazil, for example, there are 28 Salesian bishops. Where are they? Almost all of them are in mission territories.


    ZENIT: What is your contribution to the New Evangelization and how are you living it, given that the Salesians have always been evangelizers?

    Father González: We have two points of departure in the New Evangelization. First John Paul II’s appeal, from the beginning of his pontificate, in addresses given in Poland and in America, in Santo Domingo. Then in the year 2000 Cardinal Ratzinger, and now as Pope Benedict XVI, in a profound appeal that recalls the Church’s evangelizing vocation: proclaiming the absolute value of God, the primacy of His Kingdom, acting as servants of men and witnessing this in a culture that is evolving.


    ZENIT: And your answer?

    Father González: Eight or 10 years ago our Congregation joined the Church in promoting what we call “Project Europe,” with three great stages.

    The first is our personal and community conversion to the Gospel and to the Salesian charism. The point of departure is not organization but our conversion.

    The second is the re-structuring of our distribution and the re-definition of our presence. In Europe we are organized in three large regions, but this isn’t enough. We must see how we can respond with our charism and work to the new needs of young people.

    The third: being part of the evangelizing Church, we invite all the members of the Congregation to Europe, to do so as evangelizers of young people in the name of Christ and His Church.


    ZENIT: In the task of the New Evangelization, do you have a particular role to fulfil regarding young people?

    Father González: Yes, young people are in need of the love of God, and we need those who will manifest it to them. We have taken up the Holy Father’s appeal to be Salesian mystics, seekers of God as regards the meaning of life; prophetic with a genuine and fraternal personal and community life that stems from being children of God; as servants of our neighbor, especially of the neediest young people, in particular those who don’t have God, those who have forgotten Him.


    ZENIT: And what projects do you have for the forthcoming years?

    Father González: In March-April of 2014 we will hold our 27th General Chapter, and the subject we have chosen as a Congregation is to be “Radical Witnesses of the Gospel.” This is joined to a process of identification with our founder, Don Bosco, in the commemoration of the 200 years of our birth.


    ZENIT: You have just spoken of your relationship with the Pope. Can you describe it?

    Father González: Our love for the Pope is born of Don Bosco, it’s as a fourth vow, aware that being with him we are with the Church and faithful to the Gospel. There is an interesting event in this relation of youthful mission. On May 24, 2009, day of Mary Help of Christians, Benedict XVI wrote a letter to all young people of the world on the World Day of Social Communications. The topic was "New Technologies, New Relationships. 
Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship.". We had the impression it was written by Saint John Bosco because of the love with which he addressed young people, and his invitation to them.


    ZENIT: What was the Pope’s invitation?

    Father González: The Pope wrote: to you young people, who know your contemporaries better than we do, I entrust the evangelization of the digital continent, a new reality where the majority of believing and non-believing young people of the world live.


    ZENIT: And how are vocations fairing?

    Father González: We have been hit as all have in the Church. There are fewer vocations but perhaps they are more mature and better discerned. Meanwhile we have an average of between 450 and 500 novices every year and we believe that this gift of God is due to the youth charism. It is a great blessing. In Europe, they are much more solid and are very serious about life.


    [Translation by ZENIT]




    Vatican Waiting for an Official Word From Lefebvrians
    Holy See Has 'Taken Note' of Declaration From Society's General Chapter


    VATICAN CITY, JULY 19, 2012 ( The Vatican announced today that it is waiting for an official response from the Society of St. Pius X in the latest development in Benedict XVI's ongoing attempt to bring the traditionalist society into communion with Rome.


    "The recently concluded General Chapter of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X has addressed a declaration regarding the possibility of a canonical normalisation in the relationship of the Society and the Holy See," the Vatican statement noted. "While it has been made public, the declaration remains primarily an internal document for study and discussion among the members of the Society.


    "The Holy See has taken note of this declaration, but awaits the forthcoming official communication of the Priestly Society as their dialogue with the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei' continues."


    Various blogs have published translations of the SSPX declaration, which includes a reference to "all the novelties of the Second Vatican Council which remain tainted with errors."




    Philippine Bishops Release Pastoral Letter on New Evangelization
    Highlight 9 Priorities Leading Up to 5th Centenary of Arrival of Catholicism

    By Junno Arocho


    MANILA, Philippines, JULY 12, 2012, ( Looking towards the celebration of the fifth centenary of the arrival of Christianity to the nation, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) released a pastoral letter on Era of the New Evangelization.


    The letter, which was delivered by Archbishop Jose S. Palma, President of the CBCP and Archbishop of Cebu, stated that the Catholic Church in the Philippines will "embark on a nine-year spiritual journey that will culminate with the great jubilee of 2021."


    While recounting the history of the first christians baptized in the Philippines, the president of the CBCP also expressed joy at the upcoming canonization of Pedro Calungsod, a Roman Catholic missionary from the Philippines who was martyred in Guam in 1672. He is set to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21.


    The pastoral letter, highlighting nine priorities of the New Evangelization for the country, comes as a precursor to the upcoming Synod of Bishops to be held in October in Rome under the theme of "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith".


    Acknowledging the correlation between faith and evangelization, the pastoral letter stressed the importance of proclaiming, transmitting, and giving witness to the Gospel to all, especially those who have drifted from the Church in traditionally Catholic countries.


    "What we are being called to do by this task of 'New Evangelization' in Asia is to consider anew 'the new methods and means for transmitting the Good News' more effectively to our people. We are challenged anew to foster in the Church in our country a renewed commitment and enthusiasm in living out the Gospel in all the diverse areas of our lives, in 'real-life practice', challenged anew to become more and more authentic witnesses of our faith, especially to our Asian neighbors as a fruit of our intensified intimacy with the Lord," the letter read.



    New Evangelization Priorities


    The Bishops Conference of the Philippines stated that the task of the New Evangelization in the country rests on four pillars: fostering the "missio ad gentes", bringing the Good News to the poor, reaching out to those who have drifted from the church, and reawakening faith in young people and the youth.


    The letter also mapped out a series of nine priorities, one for each year leading up to the fifth centenary jubilee year in 2012. "A nine-year journey for the New Evangelization has already been charted climaxing with the Jubilee Year 2021: Integral Faith Formation (2013); the Laity (2014); the Poor (2015); the Eucharist and of the Family (2016); the Parish as a Communion of Communities (2017); the Clergy and Religious (2018); the Youth (2019); Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue (2020); Missio ad gentes (2021). These are the nine pastoral priorities of the Church in the Philippines", the letter stated.


    The CBCP concluded the letter by stressing the importance of the New Evangelization in today’s secularized society. "In the face of a secularism which in some parts of our present world has itself become a kind of a 'dominant religion', in the face of the reality of billions who live in our time and who have not truly encountered Jesus Christ nor heard of His Gospel, how challenged we are, how challenged we must be, to enter into the endeavor of the New Evangelization!" the bishops stated.




    Holy See Statement on Episcopal Ordinations in China


    VATICAN CITY, JULY 10, 2012 ( The following is the communique released by the Holy See this morning on the episcopal ordination of the Reverend Joseph Yue Fusheng in Harbin and the Reverend Thaddeus Ma Daqin as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Shanghai.



    * * *

    "With regard to the episcopal ordination of the Reverend Joseph Yue Fusheng, which took place in Harbin (Province of Heilongjiang) on Friday 6 July 2012, the following is stated:


    1) The Reverend Joseph Yue Fusheng, ordained without pontifical mandate and hence illicitly, has automatically incurred the sanctions laid down by canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law. Consequently, the Holy See does not recognize him as Bishop of the Apostolic Administration of Harbin, and he lacks the authority to govern the priests and the Catholic community in the Province of Heilongjiang.


    The Reverend Yue Fusheng had been informed some time ago that he could not be approved by the Holy See as an episcopal candidate, and on several occasions he had been asked not to accept episcopal ordination without the pontifical mandate.


    2) The Bishops who took part in the illicit episcopal ordination and have exposed themselves to the sanctions laid down by the law of the Church, must give an account to the Holy See of their participation in that religious ceremony.


    3) Appreciation is due to those priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful who prayed and fasted for a change of heart in the Reverend Yue Fusheng, for the holiness of the Bishops and for the unity of the Church in China, particularly in the Apostolic Administration of Harbin.


    4) All Catholics in China, pastors, priests, consecrated persons, and lay faithful, are called to defend and safeguard that which pertains to the doctrine and tradition of the Church. Even amid the present difficulties, they look to the future with faith, comforted by the certainty that the Church is founded on the rock of Peter and his Successors.


    5) The Apostolic See, trusting in the concrete willingness of the Government Authorities of China to dialogue with the Holy See, hopes that the said authorities will not encourage gestures contrary to such dialogue. Chinese Catholics also wish to see practical steps taken in this direction, the first among which is the avoidance of illicit celebrations and episcopal ordinations without pontifical mandate that cause division and bring suffering to the Catholic communities in China and the universal Church.


    The ordination of the Reverend Thaddeus Ma Daqin as Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Shanghai on Saturday 7 July 2012 is encouraging and is to be welcomed. The presence of a bishop who is not in communion with the Holy Father was inappropriate and shows a lack of consideration for a lawful episcopal ordination".



    Pope Thanks His Secretary of State
    Renews 'Personal Confidence' in Face of 'Unjust Criticisms'


    VATICAN CITY, JULY 4, 2012 ( Benedict XVI has given his own answer to rumors of criticism of his secretary of state, as the Vatican released today a note the Holy Father wrote Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on Monday.


    Cardinal Bertone has described himself as "at the center of the fray" in certain scandals involving the Vatican in recent months. For example, the so-called Vatileaks scandal, referring to the publication of confidential Vatican documents, has been characterized in some reports as an attempt to oust Cardinal Bertone.


    The Pontiff, however, had this to say to his collaborator:


    "On the eve of my departure to spend the summer months at Castel Gandolfo, I wish to express my profound appreciation for your discreet presence and wise counsel, which I have found particularly helpful over recent months.


    "Having noted with sorrow the unjust criticisms that have been directed against your person, I wish to reiterate the expression of my personal confidence, which I already declared to you in a letter on 15 January 2010, the contents of which remain unchanged as far as I am concerned.


    "In entrusting your ministry to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, and to that of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, it is my pleasure to send you a fraternal greeting, accompanied by an apostolic blessing as a sign of all desired goodness."


    In an interview in June, Cardinal Bertone said he has been "living these events with sorrow but also seeing the real Church constantly at my side."


    According to the secretary of state there is a “relentless and repeated attempt to separate, to create divisions between the Holy Father and his collaborators, and between the collaborators themselves.”


    There is a desire to “strike those who are dedicated with greater passion and also greater personal toil for the good of the Church.”




    Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Gets New Prefect
    Regensburg Prelate to Replace Retiring Cardinal Levada


    VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2012 ( Benedict XVI appointed Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg, Germany, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and as president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. The German prelate, who will also be elevated to the dignity of archbishop, will succeed Cardinal William Joseph Levada, whose resignation for reasons of age was accepted by the Holy Father.


    Born in Mainz, Germany, Gerhard Müller has served in various dicasteries in the Vatican, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Congregation for Catholic Education, and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.


    Archbishop-elect Müller is also in charge of the publication of the "Opera Omnia",a collection of all the writings of Pope Benedict XVI. The 64-year-old prelate has also written hundreds of works on themes such as dogmatic theology, ecumenism, the priesthood and the diaconate.



    Curial appointments and resignations


    The Holy See also announced the appointment of three president delegates for the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October. The theme of the Synod, which will be held in the Vatican, is "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith".


    The three prelates appointed are Cardinal John Tong Hon, bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.


    The Pope also appointed Father Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran is the president of that council.




    Benedict XVI Leaves for Castel Gandolfo on Tuesday



    VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2012 ( The Vatican announced over the weekend that Benedict XVI will leave Tuesday for the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.


    As is customary, private and special audiences will be suspended during the summer months. The Wednesday public audience will also be suspended during July and will resume on Aug. 1, from Castel Gandolfo.


    On Sundays and solemnities during this period, the Pope will pray the Angelus from the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.




    Fulton Sheen Declared Venerable
    American Archbishop Listed Among Newly Declared Servants of God


    ROME, JUNE 28, 2012 ( In a private audience today with prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Pope Benedict XVI approved the “heroic virtue” Fulton J. Sheen, thereby officially opening his cause for canonization.


    The American archbishop and former bishop of Rochester New York lived from 1895-1979. He was best known his 20 years of evangelical work on radio and television. Before Archbishop Sheen’s cause can advance towards beatification, the Pope must approve at least one miracle attributed to his intercession.


    Others honored in the same decree as servants of God include the first prelate of the Personal Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei, Alvaro del Portillo y Diez de Sollano (1914-1994), a Canadian widow and founder of the Handmaidens of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Marie of the Sacred Heart (1806-1885), and American founder of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, Mary Angeline Teresa (1893-1984). There were also a number of martyrs on the list, including 154 martyrs of the Spanish civil war.


    The Holy Father authorized the promulgation of the following decrees:





    - Servant of God Luca Passi, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of the Teaching Sisters of St. Dorothy (1789-1866).


    - Servant of God Francesca de Paula de Jesus, known as Nha Chica, Brazilian laywoman (1808-1895).





    - Servants of God Manuel Borras Ferre, auxiliary bishop of Tarragona, Spain, Agapito Modesto (ne Modesto Pamplona Falguera) of the Institute of Brothers of Christian Schools, and 145 companions, killed in hatred of the faith in Spain between 1936 and 1939.


    - Servant of God Giuseppe Puglisi, Italian diocesan priest (1937-1993), killed in hatred of the faith in Palermo, Italy in 1993.


    - Servants of God Ermenegildo of the Assumption (born Ermenegildo Iza y Aregita) and five companions of the Order of the Blessed Trinity, killed in hatred of the faith in Spain in 1936.


    - Servant of God Victoria de Jesus (born Francesca Valverde Gonzalez), Spanish religious of the "Instituto Calasancio de Hijas de la Divina Pastora" (1888-1937), killed in hatred of the faith in Spain in 1937.


    - Servant of God Devasahayam (Lazarus) Pillai, Indian layman (1712-1752), killed in hatred of the faith in India in 1752.





    - Servant of God Sisto Riario Sforza, Italian archbishop of Naples and cardinal of Holy Roman Church (1810-1877).


    - Servant of God Fulton Sheen, American archbishop, and former bishop of Rochester (1895-1979).


    - Servant of God Alvaro del Portillo y Diez de Sollano, Spanish prelate of the Personal Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei (1914-1994).


    - Servant of God Ludwig Tijssen, Dutch diocesan priest (1865-1929).


    - Servant of God Cristobal of St. Catherine (born Cristobal Fernando Valladolid), Spanish priest and founder of the Congregation and the Hospital of Jesus of Nazareth in Cordoba (1638-1690).


    - Servant of God Marie of the Sacred Heart (born Marie Josephte Fitzbach), Canadian widow and founder of the Handmaidens of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known as the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec (1806-1885).


    - Servant of God Mary Angeline Teresa (born Bridget Teresa McCrory), founder of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm (1893-1984).


    - Servant of God Maria Margit (born Adelaide Bogner), Hungarian professed nun of the Order of the Visitation (1905-1933).


    - Servant of God Ferdinanda Riva, Italian professed sister of the Institute of Daughters of Charity (1920-1956).




    Vatican Brings on Communications Adviser
    Missouri-native, Veteran Journalist Greg Burke Named


    VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2012 ( The Vatican Secretariat of State appointed an American, Greg Burke, 52, as a communications advisor. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, as the director of the Vatican press office, will continue to be the official spokesman for the Church, but Burke will a supervisor on communications.


    Burke has a long history of covering Catholic Church news. He started out in the late 1980s, as Vatican correspondent for the American newspaper, the National Catholic Register. Later he was the Rome correspondent of Time magazine and more recently has worked for Fox News, where he covered the death of John Paul II, as well as events in the Middle East.


    Like John Paul II’s media spokesman, Joaquín Navarro-Valls, Burke is a member of Opus Dei.


    According to press reports he first rebuffed the Vatican’s offer of a job as media advisor. Later, however, he went to St. Peter's tomb and prayed about the decision. Then he went to St. Paul's tomb and prayed some more.


    "It wasn't a lightning bolt," he said. "It was more of a gut feeling."


    “This new figure will have the task of contributing to integrate attention to questions of communication in the work of the State Secretariat and to see to the relation with the service of the Press Office and of other communications institutions of the Holy See,” explained Father Lombardi.


    Burke’s task will be to develop a strategy to improve the communications policy of the Holy See. It is a new role for the Vatican’s communications efforts and comes after the recent “Vatileaks case,” which involved the publication of private documents, eventually leading to the arrest of Paolo Gabriele, the Holy Father’s butler.



    Step forward


    “I hope to be able to give a hand so that the old communications machine is able to take some steps forward,” said Burke to Il Corrriere della Sera, rejecting the theory that his appointment was imposed by the American bishops.


    “There is an American aspect in the affair, but it does not regard my provenance, but rather the dominant English-speaking” world, he specified. In fact, the journalist explained that “all that the Curia says and does, even if in Latin or in classical English, goes today to a world that speaks the English of the Internet”; hence, his task will be to help the Curia “to take this world into account.”


    “My appointment reveals the perception of the need to pay attention to the media not only at the moment of communication but already in the preparation of what will be communicated. I’m not a public relations expert but I know what journalists seek, I am used to monitoring the information scene, I have some ability to understand on what thing a word or news that is given will fall,” he added.


    Burke will work from an office in the State Secretariat, in close coordination with Father Lombardi, and with other Vatican media.



    Aide: Pope Seeking to Re-establish Serenity in Curia
    Benedict Calls Heads of Dicasteries, Cardinals to Meeting


    VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2012 ( In the wake of the so-called Vatileaks scandal, which has involved the publication of confidential Vatican documents, Benedict XVI is seeking to re-establish a climate of serenity and trust in the Curia, says the Vatican spokesman.


    Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, released a statement Saturday about meetings the Pope had that day, first with heads of dicasteries and then with certain cardinals: George Pell, archbishop of Sydney, Australia; Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Camillo Ruini, retired vicar general of His Holiness for the Diocese of Rome, and Jozef Tomko, retired prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.


    "The Holy Father is seeking to deepen his knowledge of the situation through continuous dialogue with those people who share with him the responsibility for governing the Church," Father Lombardi offered.


    He noted that Saturday, June 16, the Holy Father already met with the commission of cardinals he formed to investigate the leaks situation.


    Saturday's meeting with the dicastery heads focused "on the issue of coordinating the work of the Roman Curia, something which is particularly important and urgent today in order to bear effective witness to the spirit of union which animates it," Father Lombardi added. "In the afternoon he has chosen to meet with a number of members of the College of Cardinals who, by virtue of their vast and varied experience serving the Church, not only in Rome but also internationally, may profitably exchange ideas and suggestions with the Holy Father in order to help re-establish that climate of serenity and trust in the service of the Roman Curia."


    Father Lombardi said the Pontiff will continue "his discussions and reflections, also taking advantage of the fact that many pastors have come to Rome for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, [June 29] which is an extraordinary opportunity for the community of the universal Church to feel united to the Pope in prayer, service, and the witness of faith for mankind in our time."




    Priests for the 3rd Millennium
    New Vatican Document Gives Guidelines on Vocations Work


    VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2012 ( The Congregation for Catholic Education today released a 27-page document with guidelines on how to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.


    The text, “Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry,” is made up of three parts that examine the state of vocations in today’s world, the vocation and identity of priesthood and suggestions for the promotion of vocations.


    The guidelines are based on the results of a questionnaire sent out worldwide after the 2008 plenary assembly of the Congregation for Catholic Education and was written with input from the Congregations for the Evangelization of Peoples, for the Eastern Churches, for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and for the Clergy.


    The key to understanding the text lies in the idea that "fostering vocations to the priesthood is a constant challenge for the Church," said Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.


    The final text was approved by the Holy Father on March 25, the 20th anniversary of the apostolic exhortation "Pastores dabo vobis".


    The document describes the current situation of priestly vocations as “good and bad.” It notes how consumerism, falling birth-rates and a fall in religious practice have led to a decline in vocations and an increasingly elderly pool of priests to serve the Church.



    A new situation


    “In traditionally Christian countries, the worrying fall in the number of priests, the rising of their average age and the requirements of the new evangelization are shaping a new situation for the Church,” the document states.


    "In the light of those difficulties,” said Cardinal Grocholewski, the document "lays down the conditions necessary to ensure that the grace of the call finds fertile terrain in the Church, and openness among young people to the priestly vocation.” This includes "creating a fruitful soil for Christian life in the ecclesial community; ... the irreplaceable function of prayer; ... the importance of integrated pastoral care; ... a new drive to evangelisation and the mission; ... the central role of the family; ... a coherent and joyful witness of life on the part of priests; ... the educational effectiveness of voluntary work; ... and the importance of schools and universities".


    The guidelines note that young people are more open to God’s call when they are presented with a strong example of Christian life in the home, or wider community. Moreover, young men often feel encouraged to consider a vocation as a result of the “joyful witness of the priests” they have encountered in their lives.


    “The Church, aware of the need for vocations to the priesthood, recognizes that they are a gift from God and prays to the Lord with incessant and trusting supplication that he will be generous in giving them,” the guidelines said.


    “The most favourable environment for vocations to the priesthood is every Christian community that listens to the Word of God, prays with the liturgy and gives witness with charity. In this context, the mission of a priest is most clearly perceived and recognized,” the document concludes.




    Benedict XVI Appoints Apostolic Nuncio to the European Union
    Archbishop Alain Paul Leabeupin of France to Head Nunciature


    VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2012 ( On Saturday, the Holy See press office announced that Benedict XVI has appointed Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin as the Apostolic Nuncio to the European Union. The French prelate succeeds Archbishop André Dupuy, who was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to the Netherlands.


    Born in Paris, France, Archbishop Lebeaupin first served the Holy See diplomatic service in New York at the Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, beginning in 1979. He then served in the Apostolic Nunciatures in both the Dominican Republic and Mozambique.


    After serving several years as the Chargé d’affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature to the European Union, he was appointed Titular Archbishop of Vico Equense and as Apostolic Nuncio to Ecuador.


    Archbishop Lebeaupin served as nuncio to Ecuador for more than five years and was then appointed as Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya. At the same time, he served as the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Environment Program and the United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT).


    Although not a member, the Holy See has been accredited for representation within the European Communities since 1970.




    Vocations on the Rise in England and Wales
    Prayer Campaign Coincides With 'Dramatic Increase' in Number of Seminarians


    LONDON, JUNE 22, 2012 ( It is expected that 38 men will be ordained for the priesthood in England and Wales in 2013, nearly double the number of ordinands in 2011, when 20 were ordained.


    The Catholic Herald reported the projections, noting that the number of seminarians in the Archdiocese of Southwark alone (26) has more than doubled since 2005, when it had only 10.


    The Southwark Vocations website states that a “campaign of prayer for vocations has coincided with a dramatic increase in the number of men coming forward as potential candidates for the priesthood."


    The vocations director for the archdiocese spoke of distributing prayer cards for the rosary and encouraging each parish to hold Holy Hours of prayer, the Catholic Herald reported.


    Father Stephen Langridge was appointed full-time director of vocations for the archdiocese earlier this month -- the first time in 30 years that this has been a full-time post.



    Vatican Unveils Logo for Year of Faith
    Calendar Outlined for Oct. 11, 2012, to Nov. 24, 2013


    VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2012 ( Officials of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization unveiled today at the Vatican the logo and and calendar of events for the Year of Faith, which Benedict XVI has called for Oct. 11, 2012, to Nov. 24, 2013.


    Archbishop Rino Fisichella and Monsignor Graham Bell, respectively president and under secretary of the new evangelization council, also presented the Web site for the year.


    "In his Apostolic Letter 'Porta fidei' Benedict XVI speaks ... of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ," the archbishop said. "For this reason he called the Year of Faith, which will also coincide with two anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. ... The Year of Faith aims, above all, to support the faith of believers who, in their daily trials, never cease to entrust to entrust their lives to the Lord Jesus, with courage and conviction. Their precious testimony, which does not make the news, ... is what enables the Church to present herself to the world today, as she did in the past, supported by the strength of the faith and the enthusiasm of ordinary people.


    "The Year of Faith," Archbishop Fisichella added, "falls into a broader context which is characterized by a generalized crisis that also touches the faith. ... The crisis of faith is a dramatic expression of an anthropological crisis which has abandoned man to his own devices. We must overcome the spiritual poverty affecting so many of our contemporaries who do no longer perceive the absence of God from their lives as a void that needs to be filled. The Year of Faith, then, is an opportunity which the Christian community offers to the many people who feel nostalgia for God and who desire to rediscover Him."


    The archbishop announced that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has approved the formula for a special "Mass for New Evangelization." This, he said, is a sign that during the Year of Faith "priority will be given to prayer, and especially to the Eucharist as source and summit of all Christian life".


    The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization then went on to present the logo of the Year of Faith in which the image of a ship symbolizes the Church. The mast of the vessel is a cross with full-blown sails which form the monogram of Christ (IHS) and in the background is a sun representing the Eucharist. The Web site of the event is available in various languages and can be consulted by smartphone and tablet. The Year also has an official hymn entitled: "Credo, Domine, adauge nobis fidem." A multilingual pastoral guide entitled "Living the Year of Faith" is due to be published in early September and pilgrims will receive an image of the Christ from the cathedral of Cefalu in Sicily, with the Creed written on the back.


    Finally Archbishop Fisichella turned his attention to the most important events of the Year of Faith, those to be celebrated in Rome in the presence of the Holy Father: These include:


    -- the opening of the year on Oct. 11, with a solemn Eucharistic celebration concelebrated by the Synod Fathers, the presidents of the world's episcopal conferences and by Council Fathers who are still alive.


    -- the Oct. 21 canonization of seven martyrs, including Kateri Tekakwitha and Marianne Cope.


    -- Jan. 25, 2013, during the traditional ecumenical celebration at the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, participants will pray that, "through their joint profession of the Symbol, Christians ... may not forget the path of unity."


    -- April 28, 2013, the Holy Father will impart the Sacrament of Confirmation to a group of young people


    -- May 18, 2013, the eve of Pentecost, Catholic movements, both old and new, will gather in St. Peter's Square.


    -- on June 2, 2013, Corpus Christi, the Blessed Sacrament will be adored at the same time all over the world.


    -- June 16 will be dedicated to the Gospel of Life.


    -- on July 7, seminarians and novices from all over the world will conclude a pilgrimage by gathering in St. Peter's Square.


    -- September 29 will be dedicated to catechists on the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church


    -- Oct. 13 will focus on the presence of Mary in the Church


    -- Finally, the closing celebration of the Year of Faith will take place on 24 November 2013.



    Caritas: People More Important Than Money
    Charity Hosts Meeting in Rio During UN Conference

    By Maria Emilia Marega


    RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, JUNE 20, 2012 ( In a position paper addressed to the Preparatory Committee of the Rio+20 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, the Holy See stated that “at the center of sustainable development is the human person." With this statement in mind, members of Caritas Internationalis held a meeting in Brazil on Monday to reflect on issues related to sustainable development while focusing on solidaristic development.


    One of the proposals “was to engage in dialogue with different States and countries, to make known our reflections on issues of sustainable development, in the perspective of development centered on solidarity,” explained Ademar Bertucci, member of the National Coordination of Caritas-Brazil, in a note published by the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro.


    Bertucci explained that, notwithstanding the fact that the main topic of Rio+20 is related to the green economy, this is not the essential point for Caritas.


    In the document circulated by the institution regarding Rio+20, five elements are highlighted as essential for change: a future without hunger; a future with vision; a future of housing creation; a future with a new green economic framework; and a future that respects women and men created in the image of God.


    “The entire document is concerned with the way we address the economic question, with the exception of the points linked to the green economy, affirms that the market economic perspective cannot be above the perspective of the human person,” said Bertucci.


    The Caritas-Brazil meeting took place one day after the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Archbishop Orani Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro on the occasion of the Summit of Nations as well as the Rio+20 conference.


    During the Mass, Archbishop Tempesta stressed the direction outlined by the Aparecida document: ”We must endeavor, to find an alternative model of development, both integral and solidaristic, that is based on ethical conduct that includes responsibility for an authentic natural and human ecology. It must also be based on the gospel of justice, solidarity and the universal destiny of goods, while surmounting the utilitarian, individualistic and consumerist logic.



    Vatican Presents Working Paper for Evangelization Synod
    Bishops Will Gather Oct. 7-28


    VATICAN CITY, JUNE 19, 2012 ( The secretary-general of the synod of bishops today presented the "instrumentum laboris" or working document for the Oct. 7-28 synod on new evangelization.


    Archbishop Nikola Eterovic and Bishop Fortunato Frezza, secretary-general and under secretary of the synod of bishops, outlined the document, which explains the synod theme "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith."


    The bishops "will reflect upon the transmission of Christian faith, one of the great challenges facing the Church which will be examined in the context of new evangelization. ... The work of the Synod will be enriched by its association with the Year of Faith," which begins Oct. 11, Archbishop Eterovic said.


    The document has a preface, an introduction, four chapters and a conclusion.


    The introduction brings together the views of episcopal conferences, which concur "on the need for new tools and new forms of expression to make the Word of God more understandable in the life of modern man," the archbishop continued. "The synod will hopefully be an opportunity to discuss and compare points of view and practical experiences, to be shared in order to provide encouragement to pastors and particular Churches."


    Following is the index of the document, which can be found at:





































































































    Pope's Secretary of State Criticizes Some in Media
    Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone Explains What Is Happening in the Curia and in the IOR

    By Sergio Mora


    ROME, JUNE 19, 2012 ( Benedict XVI efforts to cleanse and clarify, since his tenure as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now as Pope, have certainly caused and cause annoyance, according to his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The cardinal makes that assertion in an interview with the weekly Famiglia Cristiana, which will be in the newsstands this Thursday


    “His action to put a stop to incidents of pedophilia in the clergy has shown that the Church has the capacity to regenerate herself, which other institutions and persons don’t have,” explained the cardinal.


    In regard to the way that some of the media have engaged in aggression against the Pope and some Vatican officials, the secretary of state said: “Many journalists play at imitating Dan Brown. They continue to invent fables and re-propose legends.”


    Cardinal Bertone called for a greater sense of balance, weighing the real facts, and not letting imaginations running wild regarding the content of the documents allegedly taken from the Pope by Paolo Gabrieli.


    And he assured that there is no “involvement of cardinals or of fights between ecclesiastical personalities for the conquest of an imaginary power.”


    As regards the responsibilities of the Pontiff’s butler, who allegedly stole the documents, Cardinal Bertone recalled that the investigations are under way.


    “The Pope himself has asked us many times, in a broken-hearted way, for an explanation of the reasons for Paolo Gabriele’s gesture, who he loves as a son,” he revealed.


    “I am also at the center of the fray. I am living these events with sorrow but also seeing the real Church constantly at my side,” the cardinal explained.



    Create divisions


    According to the secretary of state there is a “relentless and repeated attempt to separate, to create divisions between the Holy Father and his collaborators, and between the collaborators themselves.”


    There is a desire to “strike those who are dedicated with greater passion and also greater personal toil for the good of the Church.”


    The Secretary of State confirmed the gravity of the “publication of a multiplicity of letters and documents sent to the Holy Father, by persons who have the right to privacy,” which constitutes, as we have confirmed many times, an immoral act of unheard of gravity.”


    With regard to the resignation of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, director of the Institute of Religious Works (IOR), the cardinal asserted that “the publication of the interventions of the Council of Superintendence shows that his moving away is not due to internal doubts regarding the desire for transparency, but rather to a deterioration in relations between advisers, because of positions taken that are not shared, which has led to the decision for a change.”


    “What’s more, beyond past scandals -- which are greatly emphasized and periodically re-proposed to cast mistrust on this Vatican institution -- the IOR gave itself specific rules well before the anti-money laundering law,” he added.


    “The present Council of Superintendence, made up of top personalities of the economic and financial world, has continued and reinforced this line of clarity and transparency and is working to recover the esteem that this institution merits at the international level,” said Cardinal Bertone.


    About the times and procedures regarding the state of precautionary custody of Paolo Gabrieli, the cardinal explained that “the magistrate had not yet given a favorable answer to the request” for his release from prison, and that the magistrate’s interrogations will begin again soon.


    Father Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said that the three cardinals who make up the Investigation Commission – Jozef Tomko, Salvatore De Giorgi and Julian Herranz -- have interviewed 23 persons and that on Saturday evening they reported to Pope Benedict XVI.




    .- At the conclusion of the 50th Eucharistic Congress in Ireland, Pope Benedict urged ongoing liturgical renewal – as outlined by the Second Vatican Council – amid current misunderstandings and abuses.


    “At our distance today from the Council Fathers' expressed desires regarding liturgical renewal, and in the light of the universal Church’s experience in the intervening period, it is clear that a great deal has been achieved; but it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities,” he said in a video message to over 75,000 pilgrims in Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium on June 17.


    “Not infrequently,” he added, “the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, and 'active participation' has been confused with external activity. Hence much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal.”


    Although the liturgy should be “celebrated with great joy and simplicity,” it should also be conducted “as worthily and reverently as possible,” he said.


    In his eight and a half minute address, the Pope explained that the Council Fathers had wanted to renew the external forms of the Mass so as to “make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery,” and therefore “lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist.”


    Croke Park is the home of Ireland’s traditional Gaelic sports, and is also the largest stadium in the country. Gathered within it were the tens of thousands of pilgrims who had come from worldwide to pray and learn more about the Eucharist during the week-long event June 10-17.


    The main celebrant at the concluding Mass was the Papal Legate to the Congress, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet. Also present were the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, and its Prime Minister, Enda Kenny.


    “Ireland has been shaped by the Mass at the deepest level for centuries,” said the Pope, “and by its power and grace generations of monks, martyrs and missionaries have heroically lived the faith at home and spread the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness well beyond your shores.”


    The Pope told the Irish people that they are “the heirs to a Church that has been a mighty force for good in the world” and which has “given a profound and enduring love of Christ and his blessed Mother to many, many others.” This legacy was “surely perfected and nourished” by the Mass he suggested.


    Touching upon the troubled recent history of the Church in Ireland, the Pope said the “mystery” as to why some clerics would abuse those in their care can perhaps be explained by the fact that “their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ: it had become merely a matter of habit.”


    This was precisely the attitude, he said, that the Council had wanted to overcome so as to “rediscover the faith as a deep personal friendship with the goodness of Jesus Christ.”


    Pope Benedict concluded by announcing that the city of Cebu in the Philippines will host the next International Eucharistic Congress in 2016 before imparting his apostolic blessing and commending the Irish people “ to the loving protection of Mary, Mother of God, and to Saint Patrick, the great patron of Ireland.”




    Pope Benedict Announces Next Congress to Take Place in the Philippines
    Recorded Message Played at Closing Mass in Dublin

    By Junno Arocho


    DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 17, 2012 ( Thunderous applause erupted at Croke Park Stadium as Pope Benedict XVI appeared on the video screens to address those present at the closing Mass of the 50thInternational Eucharistic Congress in Dublin today.


    The Holy Father greeted all the participants on reflected on the theme of the congress: Communion with Christ and With One Another, saying that the notion of koinonia (communion) has been central to the understanding of the Church, its relationship with Christ, and in the sacraments, particularly, the Eucharist.


    The pope also spoke of the congress coinciding with the 50thanniversary of the Second Vatican Council. “Based upon a deepening appreciation of the sources of the liturgy, the Council promoted the full and active participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic sacrifice, he said.


    “At our distance today from the Council Fathers’ expressed desires regarding liturgical renewal, and in the light of the universal Church’s experience in the intervening period, it is clear that a great deal has been achieved; but it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities.”


    Speaking of the impact that the Eucharist has had on the history of the Church in Ireland, Pope Benedict applauded the nation's monks, martyrs, and missionaries that “have heroically lived the faith at home and spread the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness well beyond your shores.”


    “You are the heirs to a Church that has been a mighty force for good in the world, and which has given a profound and enduring love of Christ and his blessed Mother to many, many others. Your forebears in the Church in Ireland knew how to strive for holiness and constancy in their personal lives, how to preach the joy that comes from the Gospel, how to promote the importance of belonging to the universal Church in communion with the See of Peter, and how to pass on a love of the faith and Christian virtue to other generations, he said.”


    Pope Benedict also addressed the scandal of clergy abuse in the Catholic Church in Ireland, saying that the Christianity of those in the church who have abused and undermined the credibility of the Church “was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ: it had become merely a matter of habit.” He then stated that both the Second Vatican Council and the Eucharistic Congress aims at overcoming that kind of Christianity and lead to a rediscovery of true faith in Jesus Christ.


    Towards the end of his statement, the pontiff announced that 51stInternational Eucharistic Congress in 2016 would be held in Cebu City, Philippines. As the announcement was made, thousands of participants from the future host nation waved their flags and applauded with joy.


    “To the people of the Philippines I send warm greetings and an assurance of my closeness in prayer during the period of preparation for this great ecclesial gathering. I am confident that it will bring lasting spiritual renewal not only to them but to all the participants from across the globe,” he said. The pope concluded his message by imparting his Apostolic Blessing to all present.


    After the papal message, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, archbishop of Dublin reminisced on the events of the past few days, saying that the Eucharist “has awakened in our hearts something which went way beyond our plans and expectations.” “The Eucharist has been the nourishment of the extraordinary sense of our communion with one another which those of us who have been in the RDS and are here today have experienced. We have experienced the communion of the Church. We have been enriched by our sharing with those who have joined us from over 120 countries, he said.”


    The Irish prelate expressed his gratitude to Irish president, Michael D. Higgins, who along with Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny and other public figures from all of Ireland were present at the Mass.


    Archbishop Martin also congratulated the diocese of Cebu City on their selection as host city of the next Eucharistic Congress. “We pray that the Congress will bring the same special blessing to that city and diocese and nation as this Congress has brought to Dublin and Ireland. I am told that in the monsoon season you can produce rain storms which equal or even surpass the ones we experienced in these last days.”


    The archbishop concluded his statement asking those present to carry what they have received in this congress as a preparation for the upcoming year of faith, which will be inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI this October. “His words about that year can be a program for us as we move forward from this Eucharistic Congress,” he said.


    “We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope…; to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist…; to ensure that believers’ witness of life may grow in credibility; to rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed.”




    Vatican Looks Online as it Retools its Communications Strategy


    VATICAN CITY, June 13 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The Vatican has announced that it wants to create a “.catholic” domain name as a way of validating official Catholic institutions online – just one day after rolling out a major shift in its communications strategy.

    “Our idea is that those communities that make up the Church will be able to apply to have this ‘dot catholic’ web address as a way of authenticating their presence in the web space,” said Monsignor Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, in an interview with Vatican Radio.

    The online suffix would be granted by the Vatican to Catholic bodies across the world so that internet users “can be certain that it’s coming from a genuinely Catholic source,” he said.

    The Vatican is just one of nearly 2,000 new applications to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the California-based organization that decides on new domain names.

    The news comes only a day after the Vatican announced that the Holy See Press Office will start to publish media releases in English, Spanish and French from September 2012 onwards. At present, Vatican media releases are published principally in Italian, unless the original texts are in other languages.

    The Vatican Press Office will also increase its staff, following the parallel decision to transfer workers across from the Vatican Information Service, which will close down at the end of July.

    Commonly referred to as the “VIS,” the service has issued news updates at 3:00 p.m. every Vatican workday since 1991. It currently has about 60,000 subscribers. They will now receive the translated Press Office bulletin instead.

    The Vatican’s Press Office also announced June 12 that “the extensive archive of more than 85,000 articles” in various languages that were created by the VIS … “will be conserved and integrated, with a simple and rapid search engine,” which will be accessible on the press office’s website.

    Meanwhile, those VIS employees who are not transferred to the press office will be deployed “to reinforce the multilingual '' portal which was established a year ago by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications,” the statement said.

    Launched by Pope Benedict XVI in June 2011, the site brought together all the Vatican’s communication outlets into one online location for the first time.

    That list includes Fides News Agency, the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy See Press Office, the Vatican Information Service, Vatican Radio and the Vatican television service, CTV. However, each news source still maintains its own independent website.

    Finally, Vatican Radio has also announced plans to reduce its short and medium wave transmissions to most of Europe and the Americas, starting July 1.

    Founded in 1931, the station is increasingly using the newer technologies of satellite and the internet, as well as local rebroadcasting, to transmit its programs in 40 different languages around the world.

    “After celebrating its 80th birthday last year, Vatican Radio is ready to open a new chapter in its history by committing its message of service to the Gospel and the Church to new communication technologies,” said the station’s Director General, Father Federico Lombardi.



    Renowned Exorcist Urges Priests to Wear Clerical Garb


    Lima, Peru, Jun 12, 2012 / 01:22 pm (EWTN News) The famous Spanish exorcist, Father Jose Antonio Fortea, said it is important that priests wear their clerical garb as a sign of consecration to God and service to the faithful.


    “We don’t go about recognizable because we like it,” Fr. Fortea told EWTN News June 5. “We do so because it is an act of service to the faithful, it is a sign of consecration, it helps us.”


    During a visit to Trujillo, Peru where he participated in local Corpus Christi celebrations, Fr. Fortea commended the “exemplary priests of this area” for dressing in a manner that made them easily identifiable.


    He acknowledged that priests who did not develop the habit of wearing proper clerical garb during their time in seminary would have a hard time adopting it later. In recent years, he noted, “this has been improving.”


    Although he recognized that the bishops' conference of each country has the authority to determine the best way for priests to dress, Fr. Fortea stressed that priests should dress in such a way that makes them easily identifiable in public.


    The Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy also has weighed-in on the matter in its “Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests.” It says that “a cleric's failure to use this proper ecclesiastical attire could manifest a weak sense of his identity as one consecrated to God.”


    Fr. Fortea is an exorcist in the Diocese of Alcala de Henares in Madrid. He is an internationally noted speaker and author of several books on exorcism and demons.


    .- On June 15, as the Catholic Church celebrates both the Feast of the Sacred Heart and World Priest Day, over 500 priests and deacons will pray the Rosary at 60 shrines in 60 countries around the world.


    “At this time in history, we priests need to pray more, and we need our lay brothers and sisters to pray for us, so we can become better and holier priests so as to better serve God and his Church,” said Father John Trigilio, president of the American Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, in a June 7 statement.


    Fr. Trigilio urged “all my ordained brothers to join me in praying this rosary for ourselves and our brethren all over the world.”


    Organized by the confraternity in honor of the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, the Rosary Rally for Priests features 24 hours of continuous international Marian devotion. Beginning in Los Angeles, California, the Rosary prayer chain will travel the globe in half-hour increments.


    Participating U.S. locations include New Jersey's National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima; the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.; the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Wisconsin; and EWTN's headquarters in Irondale, Alabama.


    Vatican-based Cardinal Raymond L. Burke is involved in the effort, and will lead a recitation of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.


    Clergy and laypersons can coordinate their own Rosaries with those taking place at the shrines, through a schedule available at:


    Thomas McKenna, executive director of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, pointed to the “indispensable” connection between the Rosary and the Catholic priesthood, in his group's statement on Thursday. He encouraged all Catholics to seek the Virgin Mary's intercession for the ordained.


    “From Saint Dominic to Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI,” he noted, “Holy Mother Church has consistently and traditionally encouraged the faithful to pray for priests.”



    Philippines: Door to Asia
    Priest Tells of Church's Strengths, Challenges


    ROME, JUNE 8, 2012 ( The Philippines are the door to the Far East for the Catholic Church. The first missionaries arrived in 1521 and today, with close to 100 million inhabitants – 80% of whom are Catholics -- it presents a very different picture to the rest of Asia.


    Johannes Habsburg interviewed Father Jan Thomas Limchua for the weekly program “Where God Weeps,” in cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need.


    Q: Is your vocation an isolated case or are there vocations to the priesthood and the religious life in the Philippines?

    Father Limchua: The Philippines is a country where there are so many Catholics, there are also so many young people who respond to the call to the priesthood, to religious life, and also to consecrated life. The seminaries are full of young men who know how to respond to the Lord’s call.


    Q: The Philippines is the door from which the mission begins, not only for Asia but for the whole world.

    Father Limchua: Yes, there are many priests, for example, here in Europe, who are in charge of the pastoral care of migrants. They work in the dioceses here, because of the vocational difficulty here in Europe and also in the United States.


    Q: Asia is a continent of hope for the Church. It is a very young and incipient Church in the majority of countries. What do you think is the role of the Philippines in the evangelization of Asia?

    Father Limchua: We can say that it is a mission not only for priests but above all for the laity. There are no many Filipinos working outside the country seeking to help their families. However, they also leave the country with the intention of living the faith. When they work, they also share the faith. For example, here in Rome, and in many parts of Europe, there are Filipinos who work in homes and look after children, taking care of families, they teach children how to pray. Faith is not just about receiving, it is also about giving. And these Filipinos who have also received the gift of faith from their parents, share the faith with the other people.


    Q: When meeting with the bishops of the Philippines, the Holy Father spoke of the need for “a greater understanding of the faith and morality of the Church.” The people of the Philippines are open and fervently Catholic. Why does he have this concern?

    Father Limchua: The Holy Father’s concern is that all the pastors of the Church be real teachers of the faith. We are not a young Church in the Philippines, we are a Church with roots from the missionaries, but all of us must grow in the faith. Although the faith of Filipinos is noted, for example, at Sunday Mass, we need to grow in the truth of the faith.

    At times it’s a faith that is too “sacramentalized”: it’s focused more on popular piety, on the Church, but we must all make an effort to know the truth of the faith. Faith is not just a popular, emotional question of devotions. It is about encountering the Lord as Teacher of the faith. And the Holy Father also says this because now we, as country and as Church, are fighting against some laws that are being proposed against the family.


    Q: What are the dangers that assail the family today in the Philippines?

    Father Limchua: As always, the Church is the voice of conscience and she must teach the truth about the human being, about the family and about the presence of a Christian in society. At present the Church wants the faithful to reject certain laws proposed by the Congress. Laws that, for example, take away parents’ responsibility to teach their children the truth about sexuality. With this law, that responsibility is placed in the hands of the State. They also want to control the population with contraceptives.


    Q: Reflected here is the philosophy of eliminating poverty by eliminating the poor. However, poverty exists. What does the Catholic Church propose to surmount poverty without eliminating the poor?

    Father Limchua: They always use the poor. They use the poor to say that “because of the poor we cannot grow as a people.” The real problem is not the poor, the real problem is the moral corruption. The real problem is, as nation and government, not responding to the social reality. This mentality must be eliminated because they always blame the poor. The Church is very ready to say the truth and she is not afraid. The poor must not be measured in these things because the real problem is not the poor.

    In difficult times in the history of the Philippines, the Church has always been the voice of truth when speaking of human rights <and> the moral corruption that is present in the government. It’s not the role of clerics, of bishops, to enter into politics. However, the Church is calling us not only to proclaim the faith and to live it, but above all to proclaim and state clearly what the role of the laity is in the social context, and what the role of the Church is to help society.


    Q: The Holy Father expressed some concerns about support of the clergy. How can the hierarchy and the faithful support priests in a correct and appropriate way?

    Father Limchua: The great danger for the priest – and I say it also in a personal way – is to be an activist or a social official. The danger is to forget why he is a priest: he is in the world to proclaim Jesus Christ.


    Q: Have we fallen prey somewhat to this, having priests who are too active or <have become> “sacramental officials”?

    Father Limchua: Yes, in general, it is a problem. When the priest forgets his mission and forgets his union with Jesus Christ through prayer, through the celebration of the sacraments, through his personal relationship with the Lord, he loses the reality of his priesthood. The Holy Father is worried about this. The bishops are our superiors but they are also our fathers. All of us – bishops and priests, as people, must be together, journey together to rediscover the mission that Jesus Christ wants to show us. We must be in the world to proclaim the truth of the faith, to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Lord. The faithful must pray for priests and help them to live their priesthood in keeping with what the Church teaches. We must not confuse the layman with the priest or the priest with the layman. This is a danger that Paul VI also pointed out. The vocation of the laity is to be in the world; the vocation of consecrated priests is to be with them … In these times, the world does not need a “superstar” priest. Today it needs a true priest, who loves the Lord, who is in love with the Lord. Without this the priest loses his identity.


    Q: As a young priest, what do you ask your bishops in this regard?

    Father Limchua: The bishops, as all of us who are human, certainly need to improve on some points. In the context of the Philippines, the bishops are improving a lot their personal relationship with priests, because of the difficulties that exist. The danger for priests is also to forget that the bishop is his father, that the priest and the bishop must grow together as people of God. Right now they are doing many things about this. I think that the best thing the bishops can do is to be real fathers for their priests.


    Q: Curiously, Islam preceded Christianity in its presence in the Philippines. In some areas in the south of the country there have been tensions. How is the dialogue with Islam going? Is it a danger for the <faith> of Catholics?

    Father Limchua: Sometimes we think that Muslims “are like this,” but in reality -- on entering the Muslim world, on talking with them – we <discover> we have common points. Right now the Philippine Church is using these common points to dialogue, to seek the best way to live together. In the south of the Philippines, 10% of the population is Muslim and there have been violent incidents. They have also killed some missionaries, priests and also a bishop. The Philippine Episcopal Conference has a Commission (Bishops-Ulama Conference): a group of bishops and of Muslim leaders who dialogue and seek common points. They are also seeking peace, the best way to coexist with Christians.


    Q: Have the recent tensions and confrontations been for social and political questions or for religious questions?

    Father Limchua: Some radical Muslims think that Mindanao is only for Muslims, so this is an ethnic and religious question. However, if we ask each one of the Muslims, they don’t think like this. They think that the earth is for everyone. That everything is gift of God and all of us must work together to improve our relationship.


    Q: In different areas of Asia the presence of Islam is very significant. Can we say that if we don’t find a positive solution in the Philippines, we won’t find one anywhere?

    Father Limchua: Yes, but above all as a people, as a nation, we must grow together, be together, and help one another mutually, especially in Mindanao, where there are also so many poor. If we continue with the violence we aren’t helping the country. And I think the best way is to dialogue with them, to seek common points, to say the truth about the human being, and to respect the dignity of the human being.


    Q: Has the Catholic Church in the Philippines lost faithful to other Christian groups?

    Father Limchua: Yes. Filipinos are very religious and they have a mentality of knowing and thinking that God is for them, but at the same time they lose somewhat the reality of the truth of the Gospel. Formation is lacking as is witness on the part of the Church and on the part of the faithful. We all must improve on this point.

    Moreover, the Church is dialoguing with the Christian groups, especially now with this law that the Congress is considering. Because the issue of defending life is not only a religious or moral question: it is a question that stems from the natural law. It’s not necessary to have faith to defend life. It’s part of our human nature. This fight is not only of the Church. We must all defend life. On this point there is a dialogue to work together to defend human rights, above all now that they are in danger. With this law that the Congress is now considering, if approved, others will follow that will destroy human life, social life. This is not only a fight of the Church.



    * * *

    The interview was conducted by Johannes Habsburg for the weekly radio and television program “Where God Weeps,” realized in cooperation with Aid to the Suffering Church and Aid to the Church in Need.



    Pope Says Vatican II Did Not Reject Eucharistic Adoration and Processions

    ROME, ITALY, June 7 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Benedict XVI says the Second Vatican Council did not reject Eucharistic adoration outside of Mass, including the Corpus Christi procession that he led this evening in Rome.

    “One unilateral interpretation of the Second Vatican Council has penalized this dimension, restricting in practice the Eucharist to the moment of celebration,” the Pope said during his homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 7.


    “In this case, the accentuation placed on the celebration of the Eucharist acted to the detriment of adoration as an act of faith and prayer addressed to the Lord Jesus, truly present in the Sacrament of the Altar,” he stated.

    Pope Benedict offered an open-air Mass in the piazza outside his cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The Feast of Corpus Christi commemorates the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist and has been celebrated universally since 1264.


    The Pope told the large outdoor congregation that the way Eucharistic adoration was de-emphasized in the Church was “influenced by a certain secularizing mentality of the 1960s and ‘70s” and this had “repercussions for the spiritual life of the faithful.”

    He proposed that limiting one’s relationship with the “Eucharistic Jesus” solely to the moment of the Mass risked “emptying his presence in the rest of existential time and space,” including in our daily lives.

    The Pope explained that there is no contradiction or conflict between Christ worshiped in the Mass and Christ adored outside the sacred liturgy, since “communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go together.”

    “In order to truly communicate with another person, I have to know him, I need to know how to remain in silence near him, to listen to him, to look upon him with love,” he said.

    “True love and true friendship,” he continued, “lives always in this reciprocity of gazes, of intense eloquent silences, full of respect and of veneration, so that the encounter is lived profoundly, in a personal and not superficial way.”

    Indeed, he proposed that Eucharistic adoration prepares the hearts of both priests and lay people for a more fruitful encounter with Christ in the Holy Mass.

    “In the moment of adoration, we are all on the same level, on bended knee before the Sacrament of Love,” he said.

    Following tradition, the papal liturgy was followed by a Corpus Christi procession, led by the Pope towards the nearby basilica of St. Mary Major.

    With the sun setting, tens of thousands of pilgrims carried candles and lanterns as they sang Eucharistic hymns and filed in procession behind the Eucharist in the monstrance, carried aloft on the decorated papal float.

    The evening concluded with Benediction outside the basilica, which Pope Benedict led.



    Cardinal Bertone Speaks About the "Vatileaks" Attacks

    ROME, ITALY, June 6 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, believes the continued leaking of confidential papal information to the media is “ferocious, biting and organized.”

    "Attacks have always existed, in all times” he told Italian television station RAI on June 4.

    “This time, however, it seems that the attacks are more targeted, sometimes also ferocious, biting and organized.”

    This is the first time Cardinal Bertone has commented publicly on the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal that has rumbled on since January 2012.

    So far, the only person charged by Vatican police as part of the ongoing investigation is the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele. The Secretary of State’s statement that the leaks are “organized’ seems to suggest that he believes Gabriele was not acting alone.


    “What is most sad in this affair and in these events is the violation of the Holy Father’s privacy and that of his closest collaborators,” Cardinal Bertone said, adding that “these days have not been ones of division but of unity.”

    Many of the leaked documents appear to have been aimed at embarrassing the Secretary of State rather than Pope Benedict. Nevertheless, the Pope told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on May 30 how recent events “have caused sadness in my heart” but have never “clouded a firm certainty that despite human weakness, difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit.”

    Cardinal Bertone concurred, describing Pope Benedict as a “mild person, of great faith and great prayer” who “does not allow himself to be frightened by attacks, of any kind, nor by the hard accumulation of prejudices.”

    The latest batch of leaked papal documents appeared in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica over the June 2-3 weekend. They included a confidential letter written by the American Cardinal Raymond Burke to Pope Benedict in January 2012.

    In his correspondence, Cardinal Burke expressed surprise and dismay after receiving an invitation to an event that seemed to be celebrating the Vatican’s approval for the liturgies used by the new movement, the Neocatechumenatal Way.

    He explained to the Pope that he did “not recall having heard a consultation regarding a particular liturgy for this ecclesial movement” and that “such liturgical innovations” do not seem “coherent with the liturgical magisterium of the pope.”

    After reading the letter, Pope Benedict attached a handwritten note agreeing with Cardinal Burke’s sentiments with the instruction that they should be passed onto the Congregation for Divine Worship.

    After the cardinal’s letter was sent it emerged that the Vatican’s approval only applied to non-liturgical prayers within the Neocatechumenatal Way’s catechesis and not to the Mass or other liturgies of the Church.



    "The People Love the Pope"
    Cardinal Scola Reviews Benedict XVI's Visit to Milan; Chides the Press

    By Luca Marcolivio


    MILAN, Italy, JUNE 5, 2012 ( An event that leaves a legacy of a “a great responsibility,” is how Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan described at a press conference held in the archdiocese’s offices the 7th World Meeting of Families.


    The cardinal reviewed the high points of the five days during which Milan received families from around the whole world, with a peak of 1 million pilgrims Sunday morning for the closing Mass at the Bresso aerodrome, presided over by Benedict XVI.


    According to the archbishop of Milan, the Pope appeared in good form for the entire duration of his visit. “The Pope said to me, when we greeted him at the airport, that he was more consoled than tired and that he is convinced that in these very demanding trips there is a special grace for him,” said Cardinal Scola.


    The Pope’s meeting with the candidates for Confirmation in the San Siro stadium, for example, was “an event that’s not improvised” and it was possible to hold it “because it has been done for so many years and because there is behind it the experience of the cooperation between family and Church through the parishes and the preachers of our diocese,” continued Cardinal Scola.


    The archbishop of Milan then showed notable frankness with the journalists who had spoken of the lack of success of the World Meeting, the low popularity of the Pope and the cold reception at his meetings. “You must resign yourselves to a fact: the people of God love the Pope and Italian public opinion does not coincide with Italian media opinion,” said the cardinal to the press present.


    “There is a great distance between what you recount and what the people feel. Public opinion loves the Pope, the people love the Pope because of the illuminating power of his humility, which is joined to an intelligence of the faith and of a truly superior man. It is a fact recognized by all. The Pope is loved because of this and we saw it,” he continued.


    At the end of the World Meeting, “it is for us” to keep alive the spirit, “because an event is important when it picks up and re-launches the ordinary,” observed Cardinal Scola. He also announced that the Diocese of Milan “has decided to reinvent the old mutual aid societies.”



    Church is alive


    For his part, Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said: “The Pope has told us how beautiful it is to be in this living Church. The Church is alive thanks to the people.” Cardinal Antonelli was also frank with the journalists: “You should pay more attention to this living Church than pause on marginal questions.”


    The cardinal then said he was surprised by the Holy Father’s choice for the next World Meeting of Families: “in the short list of the cities promoted I thought Philadelphia was excluded. However, almost all the bishops of the United States realized during their visit that the family is experiencing huge difficulties and must face difficult challenges. And, at the same time, that it possesses a great vitality thanks to the contribution of the Church in America,” he said.


    In the course of the press conference a round-up of statistical data for the 7th World Meeting of Families was given:

    - Participants in the Holy Mass at Bresso on Sunday, June 3: 1,000,000

    - People on the streets to greet the Pope in the trajectory Curia-Bresso-Curia and

             Curia-Linate on Sunday, June 3: 150,000

    - Participants in the Celebration of Testimonies at Bresso, on Saturday, June 2: 


    - Authorities who met with the Holy Father for his address at the Curia on Saturday,

             June 2: 95

    - Confirmation candidates who met with the Holy Father in San Siro Stadium on

             Saturday, June 2: 80,000

    - Priests, men and women religious, deacons and seminarians who met with him at

             the Duomo on Saturday, June 2: 5,500

    - People on the streets to greet the passage of the Holy Father in the trajectories

            Duomo- San Siro- Curia and Curias- Bresso- Curia, on Saturday, June 2:


    - Participants at the Concert in La Scala Theater on Friday, June 1: 1,880

    - Those present at Duomo Square for the greeting to the city on Friday, June 1:


    - People on the streets to greet the passage of the Holy Father in the trajectory

            Linate – Duomo on Friday, June 1: 100,000

    - Visitors to the Fair and the bookstore of the Family in the Milan City Fair from

            May 30 to June 1: 80,000

    - Delegates from all over the world for the International Theological Pastoral

            Congress at the Milan City Fair: 6,900

    - Participants in the International Theological Pastoral Congress in the cities of

             Lombardy and other locations in Milan: 5,000

    - Family 2012 volunteers active during the May 30-June 3 week: 5,300

    - Young participants in the Congress of youngsters at the Milan City Fair: 900

    - Nations present at Milan for the 7th World Meeting of Families: 153

    - Spectators tuned in to RaiUno for the Holy mass on Sunday,(Auditel data):

    - Spectators tuned in to RaiUno for the Celebration of Testimonies on Saturday

             evening (Auditel data): 3,082,000

    - Spectators tuned in to RaiUno for the broadcast In His Image on Saturday

             afternoon, June 2 (Auditel data): 1,305,000

    - Spectators tuned in to RaiTre for the meeting with the youngsters of Confirmation

             and the Pope at San Siro on Friday, June 1 (Auditel data): 800,000

    - Spectators tuned in to RaiUno for Pope Benedict XVI’s address at Duomo Square

              on Friday, June 1 (Auditel data): 1,490,000

    - Spectators tuned in to RaiTre for the concert at La Scala Theater on Friday, June 1

              (Auditel data): 1,200,000

    - Unique visitors to the Web site from May 31 to June 3: 122,305




    Cardinal Bertone: We Are Supported by the Strength of the Pope
    Secretary of State Speaks on Impact of Milan Visit


    VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2012 ( In an interview with local Italian news channel TG1, Benedict XVI's secretary of state spoke of the effect that the Pope's visit to Milan last weekend for the 7th World Meeting of Families had on both Catholics and non-Catholics.


    Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone recounted the arrival of the Pontiff at Piazza del Duomo, where thousands gathered to catch a glimpse of him. The final Mass on Sunday was attended by an estimated 1 million people.


    The visit came as the papacy is marked by news that Benedict XVI's personal butler was arrested for stealing private documents. Cardinal Bertone spoke candidly about the impact the investigation has had on the Holy Father and on the world.


    The following is a translation by ZENIT of the interview.


    Q: You have just returned from Milan where you accompanied the Holy Father at the World Meeting of Families. We saw it all on television, so many people, an immense crowd and, above all, so much affection for the Holy Father, who spoke words that touched everyone, even non-Catholics.

    Cardinal Bertone: It's true. We all experienced this extraordinary manifestation of love and accompaniment of the Pope, of support for him and his teaching, for his work, the joy and enthusiasm around him. I saw so many people who were moved just on the streets of Milan. I'm thinking of the streets of Milan on Friday and Saturday, the weekend, and not only of the great gatherings at the stadium and at Bresso park. [The spirit] was truly everywhere. Hence, it was a beautiful manifestation of love for the Pope at this particular moment and an act of esteem for Benedict XVI, who was called the "great coach" of the great team of the universal Church for the championships of the third millennium. He had a standing ovation that no player, no coach, no protagonist of social or artistic life has had. Therefore, the Pope was very happy and also very moved.


    Q: Naturally, there was talk of the family; it was, in fact, the World Meeting of Families, and the Pope gave some advice. Then he surprised some when he spoke of the family and indicated it as a useful and indispensable element also to overcome the economic crisis that grips our country and the rest of the world.

    Cardinal Bertone: Yes, first of all, the family is seen as a resource, a moral resource. A united family, a family that educates, a virtuous family that teaches children the fundamental virtues. A family that teaches children, from an early age, work, respect for the other, and solidarity. And then a family that is a great resource for society, as has been demonstrated also by modern sociologists. I would say that the Pope also launched concrete instruments: the instruments of solidarity, of twinship between parishes, between communities and between cities. It seems to me that he also indicated the ways to be followed concretely to relieve from situations of precariousness and to look ahead.


    Q: It was inevitable that the media would look at these three days in Milan with particular attention, due to the coincidence with the internal investigation of which we all spoke and in which a great test of transparency was seen for the Vatican.

    Cardinal Bertone: This is also true. I recall, in fact, Saturday evening, when we were returning from Bresso park, from the great gathering of the evening, to the Duomo of Milan. I was with Cardinal [Angelo] Scola and we were close in the car. We saw the stained glass windows of the Duomo of Milan illuminated, and we reflected immediately: "This is the Church, a luminous house, despite all the defects of persons in the Church." Transparency, however, is a fact of commitment, of solidarity with one another, of trust. It's not an act of cynicism or of superficiality: it's not enough to come to know some documents and to publish partial documents to know the full truth about the facts. Often, this also happens: that the clarifications are the fruit of an endeavor of dialogue, of personal relations and also of conversion of heart, which do not result simply from the papers or from bureaucracy. The papers are important, but personal relations are much more so. What is saddest about these events and these facts is the violation of the Holy Father's privacy and that of his closest collaborators. I would like to say, however, that these were not and are not days of division but of unity, and I would also like to add that they are above all days of strength in the faith, of firm serenity also in decisions. It is a moment of cohesion of all those who truly wish to serve the Church.


    Q: One last question, which everyone would like to ask. How has the Holy Father lived these events? It might be thought, as some have written, that there were instrumental inferences, even at attacking the Church and the Pope?

    Cardinal Bertone: There have always been, at all times, instrumental attacks: I recall also, as regards my experience of Church, for example at the time of Paul VI, that they are not so far away. This time, however, they were more aimed attacks, sometimes also ferocious, lacerating and organized. I would like to stress the fact that Benedict XVI, as everyone knows, is a humble man, of great faith and great prayer. He does not let himself get frightened by attacks, regardless of their nature, and also by the hard incrustations of prejudices. Those who are close to him and work by his side, are supported by the great moral strength of the Pope. Benedict XVI, as I have already said on other occasions, is a man who listens to all, he is a man who goes forward faithful to the mission he has received from Christ, and he feels the great affection of the people. It seems to me that the trip to Milan gave him further strength.

    Moreover, I would like to stress a word that he repeated so many times, also in fact before leaving the courtyard of the archbishopric of Milan: it's the word "courage." He said it to others, he said it to young people, to young people who are seeking to form a family, he said it to families in difficulties, he said it also to the authorities, and he says it to the whole Church. He says this word because he is interiorly convinced, it is his strength which comes from faith and the help of God; hence he says to all: "Courage!" And he said it also to the earthquake victims. I repeat: I would like us to contemplate this word along with the Pope and under his guidance.




    Next World Meeting of Families To Be Held in Philadelphia
    Archbishop Chaput Expresses Anticipation in Hosting 2015 Event

    By Junno Arocho


    MILAN, June 4, 2012 ( At the conclusion of the VII World Meeting of Families, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the next encounter will be in Philadelphia, PA in 2015. The announcement was made before the recitation of the Angelus.


    The Holy Father first thanked those responsible for the Milan event, where over 1 million people gathered for the closing Mass. "I wish to extend my thanks to all who have contributed to the success of this World Meeting of Families, particularly to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, to Cardinal Angelo Scola, to the Archdiocese and City of Milan, and to the many people from Italy and abroad who have prayed and worked so hard to make this Meeting a time of grace for all," he said.


    "I now have the joy of announcing that the next World Meeting of Families will take place in 2015 in Philadelphia in the United States of America. I send my warm greetings to Archbishop Charles Chaput and to the catholics of that great city, and look forward to meeting them there along with numerous families from all around the world," the pope said.


    Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia was in Milan for the announcement. As part of the Milan event, Archbishop Chaput received the icon of the Holy Family, which is the symbol of The World Meeting of Families. "I am so grateful to the Holy Father that he has chosen Philadelphia and excited that we will host the 2015 World Meeting of Families," he said. "It's fitting that this gathering, which celebrates the cornerstone of society, will take place in America's cradle of freedom. The Holy Father's choice is a gift to the local Church in Philadelphia and to the whole nation."


    "The family is founded on a deep and loving union between one man and one woman for mutual support and the nurturing of children," the archbishop continued. "This meeting in Philadelphia will be a wonderful opportunity to highlight the family as the basic evangelizing unit of the Church. Every effort to promote marriage and the family serves not only the Church, but also the common good."


    In a statement released yesterday, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia expressed its anticipation in hosting the international event and "continuing the good work done at the meeting this year in Milan."




    Pope Benedict XVI Answers Families Questions in Milan
    Emphasizes the Importance of Family Unity at 'Feast of Testimonies'

    By Junno Arocho


    MILAN, JUNE 4, 2012 ( Several families had a rare opportunity to ask questions to Pope Benedict XVI during the ‘Feast of Testimonies’ on Saturday evening at the VII World Meeting of Families in Milan.


    The families, who came from Vietnam, Madagascar, Greece, the United States, and Brazil, asked questions ranging from his earliest childhood memories to seeking advice on how to live as Christians in an increasingly secular society.


    Cat Thien, a 7 year old from Vietnam accompanied by her parents and little brother, asked the Holy Father about his family and "when you were little, like me." The pope responded by recalling his family life as a child, while noting the importance of Sunday. “Sunday was always the important time for our family, but Sunday already began Saturday evening,” he said.


    The pontiff then explained various activities that he and his family would do together, from games to composing music. He explained the impact that the unity of his family had in his life. "In a word, we were one heart and one soul, with many shared experiences, even in very hard times, because it was wartime – first there was the dictatorship, then poverty," he recalled. "But this love that we had for each other, this joy even in simple things was strong and so we were able to overcome and endure even these things."


    A couple from New York, Jay and Anna Rerie, along with their six children spoke of the difficulty of raising a family while juggling work responsibilities. “Do you have some advice to help us rediscover this necessary harmony?” they asked. "In the vortex of the many stimuli imposed by contemporary society, how can families be helped to live celebrations according to God’s heart?"


    The Holy Father highlighted not only the importance of family and work, but the importance of reconciling both priorities. In the priority of work, Pope Benedict exhorted employers to permit employees to have extra time with their families, stressing that "allowing a little freedom is good even for the business, because it reinforces the love for work, for the workplace." He then urged families to bring an element of joy and attention in the family, thus, aiding them during difficult times.


    The pope took the occasion to reiterate the importance of Sunday for the family. "I hope that Sunday is observed in America," he said. "Sunday seems very important to me, the day of the Lord and, precisely as such, the 'day of man' too, because we are free."




    Pope Arrives in Milan for World Meeting of Families
    Urges Faithful to Continue Being Witnesses of the Gospel

    By Junno Arocho

    Pope Benedict XVI arrived to Milan today, starting a three day visit for the VII World Meeting of Families. Upon landing, The Holy Father was greeted at the airport by several dignitaries and prelates, including Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan and Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.


    The pope was met by thousands of people hoping to catch a glimpse of him at Milan’s Piazza del Duomo, where he thanked everyone for their warm welcome and greeted those that came to participate in the meeting of families. Speaking to the faithful of Milan, the pope said that the international event gives him “ the welcome occasion to visit your city and to renew the close and constant bonds that unite the Ambrosian community to the Church of Rome and Successor of Peter.”


    The Holy Father also recounted the history of saintly men and women from Milan, from St. Ambrose to St. Gianna Molla, while inviting those gathered to continue being witnesses of the Gospel. “It is up to you now, heirs of a glorious past and a spiritual heritage of inestimable value, to commit yourselves to transmitting the torch of such a brilliant tradition to future generations. You are well aware how urgent it is to imbue the current cultural context with the Gospel leaven,” he said.


    The 85 year old pontiff concluded his address by highlighting the importance of faith and the family in today’s society. “Faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us, who is living among us, must enliven the entire fabric of life, personal and collective, private and public, so as to enable a stable and authentic "well being," beginning with the family, rediscovered as humanity’s principal asset, coefficient and sign of a true and stable culture in favor of man,” he said




    Mary's Life Reminds us to Trust God's Plan, Pope Says

    VATICAN CITY, June 1 (CNA) .- The Virgin Mary’s docility to the will of God should remind everybody that the Lord has a plan for each of us, Pope Benedict XVI said at the conclusion of a Rosary vigil to mark the end of May.

    “The Magnificat is the hymn of praise that rises from humanity redeemed by divine mercy, rises from all the people of God; at the same time it is a hymn which denounces the illusion of those who believe they are lords of history, arbiters of their destiny,” he said May 31 at the shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens.

    “In contrast, Mary has God at the center of her life, she abandoned herself, confident in his will, in an attitude of humble obedience to his loving plan.”

    Mary was chosen “to be the temple that carries the Word, God made man,” the Pope said, because of her “poverty of spirit and humility of heart.”

    Pope Benedict was joined several thousand pilgrims who had made their way to the grotto in candlelit procession while reciting the Rosary and singing Marian hymns. The annual vigil is a rare opportunity for the public to walk relatively free through the Vatican Gardens. The final destination of the pilgrimage was the Vatican’s replica of the grotto at Lourdes in France.

    “Dear friends, this evening we wish to turn our gaze to Mary with renewed filial affection,” the Pope told the pilgrims as the sun set over the grotto.

    “We all need to learn from our heavenly Mother: her faith invites us to look beyond appearances and to believe that daily difficulties prepare the way for a springtime that has already begun in the risen Christ,” he said.

    With his butler being charged last week for stealing confidential papal documents, the Pope also prayed that Mary’s intercession may bring “spiritual joy” to “those families that here in the Vatican serve the universal Church.”

    “It was most beautiful thing this evening to pray to Our Lady at this difficult moment in time for the Holy Father, and I pray this brings him great comfort,” Alessandra Brambilla, a 28-year-old pilgrim from Rome, told CNA.

    “It is amazing to conclude the month of May with the Holy Father,” said her friend and fellow Roman, 29-year-old Luca Pezzi, “and what he said about Mary was beautiful, too.”



    Pope: Faith Invites Us To Look Beyond Appearances
    Addresses Faithful at the Conclusion of the Marian Month of May


    VATICAN CITY, June 1, 2012 ( Benedict XVI made a brief address at the conclusion of the month of May, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The address was preceded by the traditional rosary procession inside the Vatican Gardens that starts from the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssians to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.


    The Holy Father exhorted those in attendance to look towards the Blessed Mother as an example of faith in turbulent times. "We must always learn from our heavenly Mother; her faith invites us to look beyond appearances and firmly to believe that our daily difficulties are, in fact, part of a springtime which has already begun with the risen Christ,” the pope said.


    The procession was presided by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican and vicar general for Vatican City. Pope Benedict XVI arrived at the Grotto and made the address before imparting his apostolic blessing. The pontiff invited the faithful to look at the Virgin Mary as a model of strength and joy. "This evening we wish to draw from Mary's Immaculate Heart with renewed trust, allowing ourselves to be imbued with her joy which had its most profound source in the Lord. Joy, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is a fundamental distinguishing characteristic of Christians. It is founded on hope in God, it draws strength from incessant prayer and it enables us to face trials and suffering with serenity,” he said.


    “As St. Paul reminds us: 'Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer'. These words of the Apostle are like an echo of Mary's 'Magnificat' and exhort us to reproduce, in our own selves and in our everyday lives, the sentiments of joy in the faith expressed in that Marian canticle".


    The pope concluded his address by expressing his hope that, "at the end of this month of May, the spiritual joy which overflows from the grateful heart of Christ's Mother and ours, may become consolidated in our hearts, in our personal and family lives, in all places and especially in the life the family which, here in the Vatican, serves the universal Church".




    Milan Ready to Welcome Pope at World Meeting of Families
    Concert in La Scala Is Dedicated to the Victims of the Earthquake


    MILAN, May 31, 2012 ( In a press conference held in Milan, delegates from the World Meeting of Families expressed their enthusiasm with the international event. The Holy Father is expected to arrive tomorrow to participate in the celebrations.


    The archbishop emeritus of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, illustrated the meaning of the theme of the 7th World Meeting of Families. “Workers often live through tragedies, but it is from the family that signs of hope and confidence in the future are born. The universality of the 7th World Meeting of Families must be a push to find what can possibly unite among the great diversities.”


    Also present was Bishop Joao Carlos Petrini of Bahia, president of the Life and Family Commission of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, who said: “It is an extraordinary event. We must recognize in Europe, as well as in Brazil and Latin America, that the Christian family is more alive than ever and that it represents the hope of society.”


    Intervening in view of the Holy Father’s visit to Milan, which will begin tomorrow, were Stefane Lissner, superintendent and artistic director of La Scala of Milan and Gian Valerio Lombardi, prefect of Milan. The maestro said he was “honored and moved” to welcome the Holy Father at La Scala, referring to the pontiff as a great music expert.


    Lissner also announced that tomorrow’s concert will be dedicated to the victims of the earthquake that recently struck the region of Emilia-Romagna.


    Finally, Lombardi illustrated the impressive plan of transport, security and health care for the expected thousands of pilgrims. He said that the effort was “to accommodate a great popular event such as this one with the necessary security measures.”



    Global Event Hails Family as Solution to Modern Crises

    MADRID, SPAIN, May 29 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Over 3,000 participants at the sixth annual World Congress of Families in Madrid, Spain issued a declaration calling the family essential in solving present-day crises.

    “We assert that the lasting solutions to human problems, including the current economic crisis, come from families and from small communities,” reads the statement titled, the Declaration of Madrid.

    Ignacio Arsuaga, president of the civil rights organization, told CNA that the closing of the May 25-27 congress was “one of the most moving” of all the events.

    During the closing ceremony, Fernando Benzo Saiz – Spain's undersecretary for the Ministry of Education – was interrupted by applause “three times” during his speech, in which he denounced modern attacks on the family, Arsuaga recalled.

    Members of the international committee of the World Congress of Families also called this year's event in Madrid one of the best organized since the first was held in 1997.

    The declaration, read aloud by Allan Carlson, president of the Howard Center, first underscores the “sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”

    “Each newly conceived person has the right to live, to grow, to be born and to share a home with his or her natural parents united in marriage,” it says, adding that “Abortion, euthanasia and all forms of manipulation of human beings in an embryonic or fetal state, therefore, are attacks against human life.”

    The World Congress of Families' document also criticized population control efforts, arguing that “the world is abundant in resources.”

    “The weakening of the traditional family and moral and political failings, not human 'overpopulation,' have cause poverty, hunger and the decline of the environment,” the statement asserts.

    “The real demographic danger that the earth faces in this new century is the crisis of births and the aging of the population. Our societies need more people, not less.”

    After affirming the rights of parents to educate their children without interference from the State, the declaration states that all human beings have the right to religious freedom, which must be respected by politicians.

    The World Congress of Families was held in anticipation of the 7th World Meeting of Families, which will take place May 30-June 3 in the Milan. Pope Benedict XVI is slated to attend the event.



    Indulgences Offered for 7th World Meeting of Families
    Faithful Everywhere Can Receive Grace by Joining Spiritually in Milan Event


    VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2012 ( The 7th World Meeting of Families next week will be an opportunity for the faithful to gain indulgences.


    The Vatican Information Service today announced that the Apostolic Penitentiary today issued a decree granting Indulgences to faithful for the event, due to be held in Milan, Italy, from 30 May to 3 June.


    The decree explains that, in order to help the faithful in their spiritual preparations for the event, Benedict XVI grants Indulgences so that, "truly penitent and stimulated by charity, they may dedicate themselves to the sanctification of the family, following the model of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph".


    Plenary Indulgence is granted under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion, prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) "to faithful who, completely detached from any form of sin, devoutly participate in one of the celebrations to be held during the World Meeting of Families, and in its solemn conclusion".


    Faithful who are unable to participate in the event may nonetheless obtain Plenary Indulgence under the same conditions if, "spiritually bonded to the faithful gathered in Milan, they recite the Our Father, the Creed and other devout prayers calling on Divine Mercy to grant the aforementioned ends, particularly when the words of the Pontiff are transmitted by radio and television".


    Partial Indulgence is granted to the faithful "whenever, during that period, they pray with a contrite heart for the good of families".


    The decree, signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, mentions the theme of the forthcoming meeting - "The Family: Work and Celebration" - and notes that the event will serve to examine how to reconcile the needs of the family with those of work and rest, especially on Sunday, "day of the Lord and day of man, day of the family and of the community".




    Cardinal Schönborn on the Church's Survival in Mary's Faith
    Austrian Prelate Speaks of Hope and the Rosary

    By Salvatore Cernuzio and Massimiliano Menichetti


    ROME, MAY 18, 2012 ( Mary’s faith supports the whole Church. This conviction was at the heart of the homily of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference, who spoke Tuesday in the parish of Santa Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci, to pay homage to the Virgin of Fatima.


    In his reflection, pronounced in the presence of the relics of Blesseds Francesco and Jacinta, the cardinal pointed out the centrality of the Mother of God and our Mother in the life of man, especially in this Marian month.


    At the end of the evening Mass, ZENIT with Vatican Radio spoke to Cardinal Schönborn.


    ZENIT: Eminence, at this moment, in which Europe is living the economic crisis and secularism, what can we still learn from Mary’s example?


    Cardinal Schönborn: I am always struck by the faith in the daily life of the Virgin, because we are tempted to forget that the greater part of her life was the hidden life of Nazareth. The life of St. Joseph, of her son Jesus, is the daily life of every one of us, a working life with all the difficulties: let us imagine that he had to buy the wood, do contracts, pay his collaborators, because a carpenter can’t work alone.


    Then there were the difficulties of a land occupied by the Romans: a situation of injustice, poverty, persecution, oppression. In the midst of all this is the Son of God, son of Mary. For us also, concretely, in daily life, Mary is with us in our sufferings, in our sorrows. What is great in her is her unhesitating faith. I think this is the central message.


    Also in Marian places: what do we learn at Lourdes, at Fatima, in the other known or less-known places? That she always addresses the simple. Bernadette could not read or write; she was illiterate; the children of Fatima, they are the ones who give the Madonna’s message, they are called to be apostles. What a teaching for us, with all our pride because of success, progress, wealth! And now, in the crisis, we see where the real values are.



    ZENIT: So the many pilgrims who go to Mary’s places attest that there is hope?


    Cardinal Schönborn: There is hope, absolutely, because hope is not a virtue of ease; it is the virtue of being anchored in God when, as St. Paul says, he hoped against all hope! Human hope is a beautiful thing, but the hope of faith is something much greater and there is hope because God is.



    ZENIT: Looking at the image of Our Lady of Fatima, you said in the homily: “The whole Church has survived in Mary’s faith.” Can you explain this phrase better?


    Cardinal Schönborn: Without faith the Church doesn’t exist and on the night of Holy Saturday all were in darkness because of the apparent failure. Only the Virgin, Tradition tells us, kept the faith and we must think of the terrible suffering of the real death of her son. In this keeping of the faith, the whole Church has survived and will always survive in the faith.



    ZENIT: In last Wednesday’s general audience Benedict XVI exhorted young people not to abandon the recitation of the rosary as a simple but effective prayer for a direct dialogue with Mary. How important is the rosary?


    Cardinal Schönborn: For me the rosary is the prayer of the poor, because when you are tired, when you are exhausted, with the beads in hand you are always safe. I’m struck every time in the Hail Mary: “Now and at the hour of our death.” “Now”: always, in the now of my life, Mary is.


    So many times one hears it said: “Ah, these old ladies that pray the rosary!” This was said already in my youth, but I see it again today: it’s not the old ladies of 50 years ago, but the old ladies of today who continue to pray! And whoever scorns the old ladies who pray has understood nothing of the Gospel.



    ZENIT: Your Eminence, to conclude, would you like to entrust to Vatican Radio and to Zenit an appeal in regard to your country?


    Cardinal Schönborn: A small message on the Church in Austria. There is a unilateral image in the mass media. It’s true that there are difficulties, protests, but there is much faith, When I think of the very numerous prayer groups of young people – of whom there is no talk – I could give a long list. How many prayer groups exist! This is why I want to transmit another vision. I would like to make it known that our Church is alive.

     [Translation by ZENIT]




    St. John of Avila to be Proclaimed Doctor of the Church

    MADRID, SPAIN, April 30 (CNA) .- At the conclusion of their annual meeting on April 27, the bishops of Spain issued a statement lauding Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming official proclamation of St. John of Avila as a Doctor of the Church.

    The “originality” of St. John of Avila is found in his “consistent and ever-current theological knowledge, in the soundness of his teaching and in his vast knowledge of the Fathers, saints and great theologians,” the bishops said.

    St. John of Avila will be the fourth Spaniard to be made a doctor, after St. Isidore of Seville, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avilia, and the thirty-third person ever to be given the honor. Pope Benedict is expected to officially name him Doctor of the Church in Rome this year although a date for the ceremony has not yet been scheduled.

    In their statement, the Spanish bishops noted that St. John of Avila ranks among the Church’s doctors because of his study and contemplation of the mysteries of the faith “with unique clairvoyance” and for his ability explain them and to help the faithful live their lives in accord with Church teaching.

    John of Avila was born in 1499 or 1500 in the town of Almodovar del Campo, where he grew up and learned his faith. He studied law at the University of Salamanca and Liberal Arts and Theology at the University of Alcala. He was ordained a priest in 1526.

    In 1946 he was declared patron saint of the secular clergy in Spain by Pope Pius XII, and in 1970 he was canonized by Pope Paul VI.

    He was known for his work promoting vocations at every level in the Church, whether to the priesthood or religious life, or to building of the vocation of the laity.


    The saint was also considered a man who was “generous and in love with God and lived detached from material possessions,” they added.

    The bishops recalled that after he was ordained a priest in 1526, he celebrated his first Mass in his home town and celebrated the occasion “by inviting the poor to his table and distributing his abundant inheritance to them.”

    It was said of him at the time that “if the Church were to lose the Bible, he could restore it on his own because he knew it by heart.”

    He was also known for his important writings, including a treatise on the spiritual life entitled, “Audi, Filia,” which he began writing while being held in prison by the Inquisition in Seville. He was eventually absolved of the false accusations against him.

    Spokesman Notes Pope's Reflections on 'For Many,' 'For All'
    Says Distinction Points to What Benedict Considers Truly Important

    VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2012 ( Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, says Benedict XVI's reflections on a translation of the words of consecration -- "for many" rather than "for all" -- point to what the Pope considers truly important.


     The Vatican spokesman noted in an article published by Vatican Radio that the Holy Father wrote to the German bishops the week after Easter regarding the translation of this phrase, said at Mass during the consecration of the Precious Blood.


    The Holy Father "favors the translation of the phrase 'for many' – which is more faithful to the Biblical text – to the translation 'for all,' a modification of the Biblical translation which was intended to clarify the universality of the salvation which was brought about by Christ," Father Lombardi said.


    He continued: "Some will say that this distinction can only be appreciated by specialists. However, understanding this distinction helps to clarify what the Pope considers to be truly important, and the spiritual point of view from which he approaches it. The words which are used for the institution of the Eucharist are fundamentally important for Pope Benedict, because these words lie at the heart of the Church."


    Father Lombardi explained that by saying "for many," Jesus "is saying that he is the Servant of Yahweh who was foretold by the prophet Isaiah. When we say 'for many,' therefore, we both express our fidelity to the word of Jesus, and recognize Jesus’ fidelity to the words of the Scripture. There is no doubt that Jesus died so that everyone might be saved. This, along with the profound significance of the words that are used for the institution of the Eucharist, should be explained to the faithful through the use of solid catechesis."


    "When the Lord offers himself 'for you and for many,'" the Jesuit continued, "we become directly involved and, in gratitude, we take on the responsibility for the salvation which is promised to everyone."


    Father Lombardi recalled that the Pope already touched on this issue in Jesus of Nazareth. He is "providing here profound and insightful catechesis about some of the most important words in the Christian Faith," the spokesman said. "The Pope concludes by saying that, in this Year of Faith, we must proceed with love and respect for the Word of God, reflecting on its profound theological and spiritual significance so that we might experience the Eucharist with greater depth. We hope to do so indeed."


    Registration for WYD Rio 2013 Opens in July

    RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, April 27 (CNA) .- Organizers for World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, said that registration will be open starting this July and that young people who wish to attend must register exclusively through the official website.

    “Rio awaits you with open arms,” organizers said. “Come and participate in this great event and show the strength of young people around the world.”

    Members of the WYD Local Organizing Committee said online registration would be the sole means for signing up to participate in the event scheduled for July 23-28 next summer, which Pope Benedict XVI is expected to attend.

    “The registration page is the entryway into WYD Rio 2013. All pilgrims who come to the event must first register, and from there WYD welcomes them all,” said director of registration Sister Shaiane Machado.

    She also said group registrations should be for a maximum of 50 young people. Groups larger than 50 should be divided up, Sr. Machado added, noting that the process will be explained in detail on the section of the site created for group registrations.

     For more information, visit the official WYD website at:

    March for Life in Rome
    Washington D.C. Serves as Model for Upcoming Pro-Life March in Italy

    By Ann Schneible


    ROME, APRIL 27, 2012 ( An entire generation in Italy has been lost since abortion was legalized in 1978, a law which has claimed the lives of more than 5 million unborn children. On May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Rome will host its first March for Life to protest the legalization of abortion in Italy.


    The March will begin at 9:30 am at the Colosseum, and will continue through Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina, and then conclude at Castel San Angelo. Afterward, Angelo Cardinal Comastri will celebrate Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at 12:15 pm.


    ZENIT recently spoke with Virginia Coda Nunziante, one of the March's organizers. Nunziante belongs to the Associazione Famiglia Domani, an association dedicated to the defense of the family.



    History of March for Life in Italy


    The inspiration for this year's March for Life in Rome comes from the March which is held every year in Washington D.C. "We have been participating for many years at the March for Life in Washington," Nunziante explained, "and we saw how important that was; always, year after year, more and more crowds, and many young people, and especially the result it had on the national level, and on the political level."


    "We then also participated in some European Marches – in Paris, in Brussels – and in fact, Italy was one of the only countries that didn't have a March for Life."


    Last year, a small March for Life was held in the north of Italy near Lake Garda, with very positive reception. "We decided then to do it the following year, this year, in Rome, because it's the capital of Italy and because in all countries usually the March is in the capital, and also because to give a sign to our government, to the politicians, and to the civil society. That's why we decided to do it in Rome this year."



    Program for the March for Life


    A year of planning has gone into this year's March for Life, which has had the support of more than 120 various associations, as well as many members of the Roman Curia.


    Again, in keeping with the model set by Washington D.C.'s March for Life, the actual March will be preceded by an evening vigil with Eucharistic Adoration (from 9:00-10:30pm) at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, over which Raymond Cardinal Burke will preside. "We are very proud of that because we know how Cardinal Burke followed and participated in the Washington March. It is a great privilege for us to have him," Nunziante said.


    Also on the day before the March, Regina Apostolorum university will host a congress at which many Italian leaders will speak in defense of life.


    The Colosseum was chosen as the starting point of the March largely for its historical significance, Nunziante explained. "It is the first place where the innocent were killed, because the first martyrs were there."


    Already a large number of participants are expected from across the country. To date, at least 50 charter buses are due to arrive in Rome, bringing people from throughout Italy to participate in the March.



    Abortion in Italy


    Since abortion was made legal 34 years ago, Nunziante said, "a whole generation has disappeared."


    "What we would like to say," explained Nunziante, "is that it is not only that we are in favor of life, but also that we are against abortion... We do not accept this law of abortion; we would like to change it to eliminate it."


    "This is something that we cannot accept," she continued, "so now it's time to say no. We would like to respond to the Pope's last address to American bishops who were here on their Ad Limina visit in January. He said: The Catholic should go in the public place again. We do not have to leave the public square to our enemies, because they are always in the public square. Catholics have to reconquer the public square."


    Slow Down and Pray, Says Benedict XVI
    Notes Dedication to Prayer in Early Church

    By Kathleen Naab


    VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2012 ( Continuing with his reflection on prayer in the early life of the Church, Benedict XVI today at the general audience commented on the apostles' discernment as they faced the problem of finding time to preach and serve.


    Referring to the sixth chapter of Acts, the Pope spoke about the issue the apostles had to resolve regarding "the pastoral care of charity shown to those who were alone and in need of help and assistance."


    He said that what stands out in the face of this "pastoral emergency" is the apostles’ discernment.


    "They are faced with the primary need to proclaim the Word of God according to the mandate of the Lord; but even though this is the primary demand placed upon the Church -- they consider with equal seriousness the duty of charity and of justice."


    The Holy Father suggested two insights from the apostles' reaction: "first, that from that moment in the Church, there is a ministry of charity. The Church must not only proclaim the Word, she must also make the Word, which is charity and truth, a reality. And the second point: these men [chosen to serve] were to be not only of good repute; they must be men filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom; that is, they cannot be only organizers who know how to 'do'; they must 'do so' in the spirit of faith by the light of God, in wisdom of heart. Therefore, also their role -- though primarily of a practical nature -- is still a spiritual role. Charity and justice are not only social actions; rather, they are spiritual activities realized in the light of the Holy Spirit."





    The Holy Father went on to note how the saints have taught of the importance of a "profound unity of life between prayer and action, between total love of God and love for the brethren."


    He said this is a "precious reminder for us today, habituated as we are to evaluate everything based upon the criteria of productivity and efficiency."


    The Pope reflected that this passage from Acts reminds us not only of the importance of work, but also of our need for God, "for His guidance, for His light, which gives us strength and hope."


    "Without daily prayer faithfully lived out," he cautioned, "our activity becomes empty, it loses its deep soul, it is reduced to mere activism, which in the end leaves us unsatisfied."





    The Bishop of Rome added that this lesson is particularly important for pastors, who should see "the primacy of prayer and of God’s Word" as their "first and most precious form of service paid to the flock entrusted to them."


    "If the lungs of prayer and the Word of God fail to nourish the breath of our spiritual life, we risk suffocating in the middle of a thousand daily cares: prayer is the breath of the soul and of life," the Holy Father affirmed. "And there is another precious reminder that I would like to emphasize: in our relationship with God, in listening to His Word, in conversation with God, even when we find ourselves in the silence of a church or in our room, we are united in the Lord with so many brothers and sisters in faith, like an ensemble of instruments that, though retaining their individuality, offer to God one great symphony of intercession, of thanksgiving and of praise."



    Proclaiming the Gospel Through Broadcasting
    Catholics Come Home Founder Speaks About Releasing Campaign in Mexico

    By Ann Schneible


    ROME, APRIL 24, 2012 ( A growing number of people from around the world are receiving the invitation to rediscover their home in the Catholic Church through initiatives that bring the Gospel message of hope and salvation directly into their homes through modern means of communication.


    Through the use of Catholic evangelization commercials, or "evangomercials," viewers are invited to the Catolicos Regresen website, which features a welcoming message from Eduardo Verástegui.


    Catholics Come Home, an apostolate which uses the media as a means of inviting Catholics to return to the faith, recently extended their mission to the people of Mexico, tying in with the Holy Father's Apostolic Journey to the country last month.


    The people at Catholics Come Home are working to extend the campaign to other countries as well. A Polish language version was released in Chicago and broadcast in Poland, and they are working next to release it in Canada.


    ZENIT recently spoke with Tom Peterson, president and founder of Catholics Come Home, about the initiative of broadcasting its message onto the airwaves of Mexico.


    Catholics Come Home's mission of spreading the Gospel throughout the world is inspired by the call for the New Evangelization, and idea which was introduced by Blessed John Paul II, and then reiterated by Pope Benedict XVI. Both popes, Peterson explains, "encourage us to take the good news of Jesus and spread it to the ends of the earth. Catholics Come Home," he continues, "has brought our invitational, welcoming messages to Mexico, to encourage the people of Mexico and in other Spanish-speaking countries to come home to their Catholic faith."


    Eduardo Verástegui, the Mexican actor best known for the film Bella which he produced and starred in, collaborated with Catholics Come Home. A cradle Catholic, Verástegui had achieved stardom and material success through his acting and singing careers, and drifted away from the faith. It was through the prayers of his mother and friends, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that he returned to the faith. "He really could understand the importance and benefit of Catolicos Regreson, and Catholics Come Home campaign," Peterson explained. "He also gives a testimony in the 'returning Catholics' portion of our English site, and lets people know how important it is to focus on God, that nothing you've done in your past can't be forgiven, and that Jesus is waiting with open arms to welcome you back to his Church."


    The decision to launch Catholics Come Home in Mexico actually preceded the announcement from the Vatican that Pope Benedict would be making his Apostolic Journey to that country. "Last year, I was blessed to be invited to Mexico City by a group of faithful Catholics who liked our work of the New Evangelization," recounts Peterson, "and wanted to bring it to Mexico. Perhaps they had the foresight to prepare for the Holy Father's visit in this way; we certainly were thrilled to hear that they had opened some doors for these adds to air in Mexico for a few weeks prior to the Holy Father's visit, and certainly during and a few weeks afterward. We'll give credit to the Holy Spirit, we'll give credit to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of Mexico and of the Americas.


    "We're very thankful that these warm and inviting messages were able to reach so many millions of people through the airwaves, inviting them home to the Catholic Church."



    Vatican Confirms Lefebvre Group Has Responded
    Doctrinal Congregation to Examine Reply
    By Kathleen Naab


    VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2012 ( Hopes are high that the ultra-traditionalist Society of St. Pius X might be on the way to communion with Rome.


    Dialogue has been ongoing with the splinter group since it was created with the illicit ordination of four bishops by founder Marcel Lefebvre.


    It is known that reconciliation with the Society is a desire close to the Pope's heart, as he was at the forefront of the Church's efforts to bring reconciliation during his years leading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


    In recent months, the dialogue moved to a new level, with the doctrinal congregation proposing to the Society last September a "doctrinal preamble" that the Vatican hoped would be the basis for finally achieving reconciliation.


    The Society of St. Pius X considered the preamble and in January of this year, gave a response to the Vatican, which was examined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and judged insufficient by Benedict XVI.


    The Society was informed in mid-March of the problems with their position and asked for further clarification. Today's communiqué states simply, "On 17 April, as requested during the 16 March meeting held at the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Commission received the response of Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X. The text of the response will be examined by the dicastery then submitted to the Holy Father for his judgement."


    Though there has been no further official word from the Vatican, nor from the Society, it is reported that Bishop Fellay's response was positive, and hopes are high that the splinter group is on its way back to communion with Rome.



    Resources for the New Evangelization
    U.S. Bishops Issue a Call to Give Witness


    WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 17, 2012 ( The U.S. bishops have published a document outlining a series of resources for the New Evangelization.


    The document is titled “Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization.”

    “Every Catholic has a role in the Church, and every Catholic is called to spread the Gospel,” said Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.


    “But in order to evangelize, a person must first be evangelized. This is really the heart of the New Evangelization,” he stated in an April 16 press release.


    According to one of explanations of New Evangelization in the list of resources it is a call for everyone to deepen their faith, believe in the Gospel message and to proclaim the Gospel.


    “In a special way, the New Evangelization is focused on 're-proposing' the Gospel to those who have experienced a crisis of faith,” it explained. Pope Benedict XVI called for the re-proposing of the Gospel "to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but who have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization."


    “The New Evangelization invites each Catholic to renew their relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church,” the document explained.


    The document links to a wide variety of resources that includes Church documents, the Catechism, explanations about the sacraments and various Church teachings.


    “Christ commands us to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth,” the document’s preface states. “Are we like the disciples staring at the sky rather than inviting those around us to experience Christ’s love and mercy through the Church?"


    --- --- ---

    On the Net:

    Full text of document:

    USCCB New Evangelization Web page:



    Church Welcomes New Members
    Record Number in Hong Kong


    ROME, APRIL 16, 2012 ( This Easter, 3,500 adult catechumens in Hong Kong were received into the Catholic Church.


    In his Easter Pastoral Letter 2012, Cardinal John Tong of Hong Kong thanked those who had helped prepare them, Asia News reported.


    The Diocese of Hong Kong has 39 paid catechists and more than 1,500 voluntary catechists, according to statistics published last August. The Catholic population of Hong Kong is made up of 363,000 Chinese and 138,000 non-Chinese.


    Meanwhile, in England and Wales more than 3,500 adults were received into the Catholic Church at Easter, the Catholic Herald reported.


    The number was made up of 1,397 catechumens, who were baptized, and 1,843 candidates, who had already been baptized in another Christian church.


    The largest group was in the Diocese of Westminster, with 734, followed by Southwark, with 481. The total of 3,695 also included those who had joined the ordinariate.


    Among those entering the ordinariate was Reverend Donald Minchew, who left his Anglican church of St. Michael’s and All Angels.


    According to a report in the Telegraph newspaper he decided to leave the Anglican Communion because he disagreed with a number of changes, including the ordination of female priests and bishops. Around 70 of his parishioners followed him to enter the ordinariate.


    Significant numbers also entered the Church in the United States. In the Diocese of Orange, California, 921 new Catholics were baptized and 668 already-baptized Christians were received into full communion into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil, stated a press release by the diocese.


    In Baltimore just over 700 new Catholics entered the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil. The total of 702 people was made up of 252 catechumens, who were baptized and 450 candidates already baptized in another Christian community. The number of individuals to be baptized Catholic is a 10% increase over last year.



     Study Finds New Religious Vocations Are Younger, More Educated


    WASHINGTON D.C., April 11 (CNA/EWTN News) .- A recent study of men and women who professed perpetual vows in 2011 shows that new members of religious orders are younger and more educated than those in the past.

    “We are encouraged by the report’s findings that men and women are considering a vocation at a younger age,” said Mercy Sister Mary Joanna Ruhland, associate
    director of the U.S. bishops’ secretariat of vocations and consecrated life.

    “As the Catholics recognize their responsibility to build a vocation culture in its parishes, schools and families, children and youth are being introduced to the various vocations in the Church,” she said in an April 5 statement.

    “This helps them respond to God’s love and will generously and willingly.”

    A recently-released study, conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, surveyed men and women religious who were incorporated into religious communities in 2011.

    The survey, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, found that the average age of women professing perpetual vows in 2011 was 39. This is four years younger than those from the previous year.

    Men entering religious orders, who were included for the first time on the 2011 study, averaged 42 years in age.

    In addition, respondents reported that they first thought about a religious vocation at a younger age than last year’s class. On average, survey participants first considered a vocation to religious life when they were 19 years old, although half did so at age 17 or younger.

    Those entering religious orders in 2011 were also highly educated. Almost 60 percent had earned at least a bachelor’s degree, and 16 percent had earned a graduate degree as well.

    Sixty-five percent of survey respondents identified themselves as white, while 19 percent identified as Asian and nine percent identified as Hispanic. The U.S. bishops have recently commissioned a survey on Hispanic vocations, to determine why the group is under-represented.

    Ninety-four percent of respondents said that they have been Catholic since birth, and almost 80 percent come from families in which both parents are Catholic. Almost half of those surveyed attended a Catholic elementary school, and nearly all said that they regularly participated in some kind of private prayer activity before entering their religious institute.

    Members of the Class of 2011 come from a variety of backgrounds and have overcome various challenges to make their perpetual vows.

    Sr. Emma Calvo, OP, said that she “felt the desire to belong totally to God” since she was eight years old, while Sr. Wanda Szymanko was engaged to be married when she “re-experienced the call to religious life.”

    Sr. Roseli Oliveira overcame the challenge of initially lacking the support of some her family members in her vocation, while Br. Damien Evangelista experienced a “crisis of faith” and stopped practicing his faith for several years in his mid-20s before finding his way back to Christ.

    The newly-professed men and women will now use their diverse talents to serve God and his people in a variety of ways.

    “Religious sisters, priests and brothers are treasured by the Church, and we support their sacred commitment to be poor, chaste and obedient in imitation of Christ and at his service,” said Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis.

    The archbishop, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, explained that the religious help us “set our heart’s goal not on this life, but on eternal life.”

    “In a world where human frailty is acutely felt, they remind us of God and bring Christ’s redemptive love to all they meet,” he said.



    In The U.S.:  Thousands Join Church on Easter Sunday

    DENVER, COLO., April 10 (
    CNA/EWTN News) .- Thousands of new Catholics were baptized and thousands more Christians were received into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil last weekend.

    Jeanette DeMelo, communications director for the Archdiocese of Denver, reflected on the vigil Mass’ beginnings in darkness and the symbolism of its transformation into full light.

    “Christ our light comes and breaks through the darkness that we experience in suffering and in death and in sin,” she told CNA April 9. “I think that also happens for each of those people who are coming into full communion with the Church. There is that experience of the light of Christ.”

    Young and old, single and married, immigrants and native-born Americans, all came together as the newest members of the Church for the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    One of those received into the Church is Houston resident Randall Wilson, a meteorologist who was born and raised a Baptist. He first experienced the Catholic Mass while on a date and felt drawn back for more, according to the U.S. bishops’ conference.

    “The richness and fullness of the Catholic Church isn't found anywhere else. Looking back, I see how much was missing,” he said ahead of Easter. “I’m not even 100 percent Catholic yet, but I can't imagine my life without the holy sacraments, without praying the holy rosary, without confessions and without the holy Eucharist.”

    Those who were not already Christian received the sacrament of Baptism, while those converting from other Christian traditions made a profession of faith with the newly baptized. They all participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, which is a process for conversion and study of the Catholic faith.

    About 22 people from a variety of backgrounds, mostly unbaptized catechumens, entered the Catholic Church at downtown Denver’s Holy Ghost Church.

    “Our sanctuary was completely filled. It was great also for our pastor, with his first time celebrating the Easter Vigil,” parochial vicar Fr. Michael Warren, OMV, told CNA April 9.

    One man had come from a “very difficult family background” and underwent many “spiritual struggles,” the priest reported.

    He had doubts about his ability to finish the RCIA program and doubts about his ability to be loved by God.

    “There were lots of times he was tempted to drop out of the program, but he persevered,” Fr. Warren said. “He was probably the happiest of the whole lot, because he had known such a great trial. He was so happy when the moment finally came to be able to enter the Church.”

    At St. Agnes Parish in St. Paul Minnesota, a family of nine Hmong children were baptized on Saturday.

    After their mother died, they went to live with their uncle. He enrolled them in the parish school, where they had powerful experiences at Mass and took religious classes that encouraged them to ask their school’s pastor for baptism.

    Felichia Laws, a 30-year-old Texas resident, told the bishops’ conference that her new daughter’s baptism helped encourage her to join the Catholic Church.

    “During my daughter’s baptism, my body was overcome by so much joy and fulfillment that it is very hard to put into words,” said Laws, who began the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults just before her daughter received baptism.

    “I realized then that though I had started the process for her, I also wanted the same baptism for me.”

    Teenaged brothers Alex and Chris Barbosa were baptized at St. John Catholic Church in Monroe County, Michigan.

    Chris, 13, told the Monroe News his reason for baptism was “hope.”

    Sixteen-year-old Alex said he wanted “to form a better relationship with God.”

    “It was destined to be,” he said.

    The numbers of new Catholics run into the tens of thousands.

    In the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, nearly 2,400 joined the Catholic Church. Groups of over 1,000 people joined the Church in the Archdioceses of Denver, New York, San Francisco, San Antonio, and Washington.

    The Diocese of Orange set a record number for new Catholics, with 921 newly baptized and 668 already baptized Christians entering the Church.

    Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Washington have welcomed over 1,000 people into the Church at Easter for each of the past nine years.

    According to the 2011 Official Catholic Directory, over 43,300 adults were baptized as Catholics last year, while 72,800 people were received into full communion with the Church.



    Pope Calls for Freedom and Dialogue
    Leaves Havana With Promise of Prayer for a Better Future

    HAVANA, Cuba, MARCH 28, 2012 ( Benedict XVI gave thanks to God for the opportunity to visit Cuba during his departure speech at Havana’s airport today. He also thanked the civil and Church authorities for their cooperation and assistance.

    “I hold deep in my heart all the Cuban people, each and every one,” he said. “You have surrounded me with prayer and affection, offered me cordial hospitality and shared with me your profound and rightful aspirations,” the Pope added.

    He declared that he had come to Cuba as a witness to Jesus Christ, to proclaim a message of salvation and to strengthen the Church.

    “May this Journey also serve as a new impulse to all those who cooperate with perseverance and self-sacrifice in the work of evangelization, particularly the lay faithful,” he said.

    Christ’s message to humanity, he explained, is not one of constraint, but is rather the premise for authentic development.

    “The light of the Lord, has shone brightly during these days; may that light never fade in those who have welcomed it; may it help all people to foster social harmony and to allow the blossoming of all that is finest in the Cuban soul, its most noble values, which can be the basis for building a society of broad vision, renewed and reconciled,” he commented.

    On a more overtly political note the Pope referred to the limitations on basic freedoms and also to restrictive economic measures imposed from outside that “unfairly burden” the people of Cuba.

    The respect and promotion of freedom is essential, the Pontiff continued, to enable people to respond to the demands of human dignity and to build up society.

    He called for a “patient and sincere dialogue” and said that: “The present hour urgently demands that in personal, national and international co-existence we reject immovable positions and unilateral viewpoints which tend to make understanding more difficult and efforts at cooperation ineffective.”

    Pope Urges Cubans to Follow Mary in Patient Faith

    SANTIAGO DE CUBA, CUBA, March 26 (
    CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the people of Cuba to imitate Mary in having an “active and fruitful” faith which leads to authentic freedom by embracing God’s will despite hardships.

    “It is worth the effort,” the Pope said, “to devote your entire life to Christ, to grow in his friendship each day and to feel called to proclaim the beauty and the goodness of his life to every person.”

    In honor of the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the statue of the Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in Antonio Maceo Revolution Square on the evening of March 26 for an estimated crowd of 250,000.

    He said that his first Mass in Cuba takes on a “special luster” because it falls not only in the Jubilee Year commemorating the statue’s discovery, but also on the feast of the Annunciation, celebrated by the universal Church.

    He explained that he was “deeply touched” to hear of the Cuban people’s fervent and dedicated preparation for the Marian jubilee.

    Mary is “central” to the mystery of the Incarnation, he said in his homily.

    The Pope observed that when believers look at Mary, they are “filled with wonder, gratitude and love at seeing how our God, coming into the world, wished to depend upon the free consent of one of his creatures.”

    “It is touching to see how God not only respects human freedom: he almost seems to require it,” he said.

    The “yes” of both Mary and Christ reveals that it is only through faithful obedience to God’s will that we arrive at “true liberty” and “authentic redemption,” finding “our genuine identity” as the fruit of God’s infinite love, he explained.

    Mary is “the exemplar and model of the Church,” which is also called to bring Christ’s saving presence to the world, the Pope said.

    With the Incarnation of Jesus, God has taken on “our human reality in most concrete and tangible way,” he said, adding that “when God is put aside, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man, and frustrates creation’s true vocation to be a space for the covenant.”

    Pope Benedict encouraged the Cuban faithful to continue in their bold, sacrificial efforts to present the Church’s “true face as a place in which God draws near and encounters humanity” in the concrete circumstances in which they live.

    As Easter approaches, he said, Christ’s disciples must follow him “without fear or doubts on his journey to the Cross.”

    He urged the people to accept opposition and affliction “with patience and faith,” knowing that the Resurrection has overcome evil and the Lord will not fail to bless generous commitment to him with “abundant fruits.”

    The Incarnation also “shows us the incomparable dignity of every human life” and highlights the importance of family, the Holy Father said, explaining that from the very beginning, God’s plan called the family – founded on matrimony – is “the fundamental cell of society and an authentic domestic church.”

    He called on married couples in Cuba to be “a real and visible sign of the love of Christ for the Church.”

    “Cuba needs the witness of your fidelity, your unity, your capacity to welcome human life, especially that of the weakest and most needy,” he said.

    Pope Benedict appealed to the Cuban people to reinvigorate their faith so that they “may live in Christ and for Christ.”

    He encouraged them to “strive to build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity, and which better reflects the goodness of God.”

    Pope: Human Evil Cannot Thwart Divine Plan
    Benedict XVI Addresses Bishops of Mexico and Latin America

    LEON, Mexico, MARCH 26, 2012 ( On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI presided over vespers held in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Light, in León.

    He started his homily by noting how in the painting in the Church that depicts Our Lady she is seen as holding her Son in one hand and with the other reaches out to sinners.

    “For this reason, we invoke her frequently as ‘our hope’ because she has shown us Jesus and passed down to us the great things which God constantly does for humanity,” he said.

    Passing on to comment on the reading they had heard at vespers he said: “The people of Jerusalem and their leaders did not acknowledge Christ, yet, by condemning him to death, they fulfilled the words of the prophets.

    “Human evil and ignorance simply cannot thwart the divine plan of salvation and redemption,” he added.

    “There is no reason, then, to give in to the despotism of evil” the Pope said. “Let us instead ask the risen Lord to manifest his power in our weakness and need.”

    The Pontiff said that he had been looking forward to this meeting with the bishops of Mexico and Latin America.

    “I see this meeting as an occasion to turn our gaze together to Christ, who has entrusted you with the splendid duty of preaching the Gospel among these peoples of sturdy and deep-rooted Catholic faith,” he told them.

    The Pope acknowledged the challenges and difficulties facing their dioceses, but added that they are able to move forward with confidence, knowing that the Lord is risen and “that evil does not have the last word in human history.”

    Confirming in faith

    He thanked the bishops for their patience and work carried out with humility.

    “Know that you can count on a special place in the prayers of the one who has received from Christ the charge of confirming his brethren in faith,” he said.

    Referring to the anniversary of two centuries of independence for countries in Latin America Benedict XVI referred to the work carried out by missionaries who proclaimed Christ.

    “They gave their all for Christ, demonstrating that in him men and women encounter the truth of their being and the strength needed both to live fully and to build a truly humane society in accordance with the will of their Creator,” he observed.

    Speaking about the forthcoming Year of Faith the Pope said it would be an opportunity for people to liberate themselves from sin and slavery, and to be able to achieve authentic freedom.

    He recommended the study and reading of Scripture. “I encourage you to continue to share freely the treasures of the Gospel, so that they can become a powerful source of hope, freedom and salvation for everyone.”

    Before finishing the Pope urged the bishops to care well for their seminarians and also to ensure good faith formation for the lay faithful involved in catechesis, the liturgy and other areas of the Church’s activities.

    “I urge you to be vigilant in proclaiming day and night the glory of God, which is the life of mankind,” the Pope added.


    Benedict XVI: God Wants Us to Be Happy Always
    Tells Mexican Children on Saturday of Their Special Place in His Heart

    LEON, Mexico, MARCH 25, 2012 ( On Saturday thousands of young people gathered to hear the words of Pope Benedict XVI in Leon’s Plaza de la Paz.

    “You have a very special place in the Pope’s heart,” he told them, speaking from the balcony of the house of Count Rul.

    The Pope’s address to the young people came towards the end of the day, following a private meeting he had held with Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón. He had also received the keys of the city of Leon from the mayor, Ricardo Sheffield.

    Benedict XVI expressed his closeness to all the children of Mexico, especially those who suffer, or who have been victims of violence, or are lacking food.

    “I am grateful for this encounter of faith, and for the festive and joyful presence expressed in song,” the Pope said as he thanked them for the songs they had previously sung for him, Caminos de Guanajuato and Cielito lindo.

    “Today we are full of jubilation, and this is important. God wants us to be happy always. He knows us and he loves us. If we allow the love of Christ to change our heart, then we can change the world. This is the secret of authentic happiness.”

    “This place where we stand today has a name which expresses the yearning present in the heart of each and every person: ‘la paz’, (Peace),” he said.

    The gift of peace

    “This is a gift which comes from on high. ‘Peace be with you’ (Jn 20:21),” the Pope explained. “These are the words of the Risen Lord. We hear them during each Mass, and today they resound anew in this place, with the hope that each one of you will be transformed, becoming a sower and messenger of that peace for which Christ offered his life.”

    He urged them to be close to Jesus, “as the best of friends.”

    “He will never tire of speaking to those who always love and who do good,” the Pontiff told the young people gathered in the plaza.

    The Pope told them that each one present was a gift of God to Mexico. “Your family, the Church, your school and those who have responsibility in society must work together to ensure that you receive a better world as your inheritance, without jealousies and divisions,” he said.

    The Holy Father then invited everyone to protect and care for children, “so that nothing may extinguish their smile, but that they may live in peace and look to the future with confidence.”

    Benedict XVI concluded by saying he wished he had more time to spend with them, but that while he now had to leave they could remain united in prayer. “So I invite you to pray continually, even in your homes; in this way, you will experience the happiness of speaking about God with your families."

    “Pray for everyone, and also for me,” he asked. “I will pray for all of you, so that Mexico may be a place in which everyone can live in serenity and harmony.”

    Anticipation Builds as Mexican Catholics Await Pope Benedict XVI

    LEON, MEXICO, March 22 (
    CNA) .- Just one day before Pope Benedict's arrival in Leon, Mexico, Catholics are counting down the final hours until the Pope makes his first historic visit to the country from March 23-26.

    Patricia Eugenia Cruz, a local mother of two, told CNA that she awaits the Pope’s arrival “with great happiness” and hopes he “brings a message of peace and hope to all Mexicans, and also especially a message of charity.”

    Pope Benedict will arrive at Guanajuato International Airport in the area of Silao, on Friday, March 23 at 4:30 p.m. where he will be received by the Archbishop of Leon, Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago.

    Also present for the reception of the Pope will be the Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico, Msgr. Christophe Pierre, and the Federal President of the Republic of Mexico, Felipe Calderon.

    Catholic Felipe Martinez, who spoke to CNA outside the Cathedral of Leon, said that “with the Pope’s visit, I hope that values will be renewed, that the Pope will newly give us these values so needed not only by Mexico but all of Latin America.”

    Among the various shows of affections that the people of Leon will present to the Pope – in addition to the presence of 3500 Catholics – there will be a traditional group of Mariachis to celebrate his arrival.

    Leon resident Mrs. Leo de Tejada said she expects “many blessings,” from the Pope’s visit, “because we all need them here in Mexico.

    According to parishioner Jose Miguelon “all Mexicans are very happy, myself and my fellow countrymen, for this event we, the people of Leon, have.”

    The streets and highways on the outskirts of Leon are filled with signs that announce Benedict’s arrival. Among them can be seen signs that marks the Pope Mobile’s route and others that says Leon is ready to receive “the Pope and the world.”

    In the opinion of Mauricio Velasquez, a father of two young children, Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Mexico will be the source of “a message of peace and hope” to everyone.

    Accountant Martin Ernesto Davalos Segura pointed out that “the Pope’s visit is great blessing” but even more so, given “that it was the Holy Father himself who decided to come.”

    UK Archbishops Explain Their Stand for Authentic Marriage

    LONDON, ENGLAND, March 13 (CNA) .- As the British government considers a proposal to institute same-sex “marriage,” the leaders of the Catholic Church in England and Wales have warned that it will lead to further social breakdown.

    “We have a duty to married people today, and to those who come after us, to do all we can to ensure that the true meaning of marriage is not lost for future generations,” wrote Archbishop Vincent G. Nichols of Westminster and Archbishop Peter D. Smith of Southwark, in a letter released March 8.

    Current law, they said, “does not discriminate unjustly when it requires both a man and a woman for marriage. It simply recognizes and protects the distinctive nature of marriage.”

    A change in the legal definition “would be a profoundly radical step. Its consequences should be taken seriously now.”

    Archbishops Nichols and Smith, the president and vice-president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, distributed the letter to 2,500 parishes for reading at Sunday Masses over the weekend of March 10-11.

    Britain's coalition government was expected to present a consultation paper the following week, on the proposed change to the concept of marriage. Prime Minister David Cameron believes the move would strengthen society, by encouraging individuals to “make vows to each other and support each other.”

    In their letter, Archbishops Nichols and Smith countered that society depends on a concept of marriage that goes beyond the commitment of two individuals. True marriage, they said, has an essential connection to family life, and is oriented toward the raising of a new generation.

    “Understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, and for the creation and upbringing of children, marriage is an expression of our fundamental humanity,” the archbishops explained.

    “Its status in law is the prudent fruit of experience, for the good of the spouses and the good of the family. In this way society esteems the married couple as the source and guardians of the next generation.”

    It is this institution, and not the mere commitment of two people, that is “at the foundation of our society.”

    The law, they observed, recognizes the distinction and interdependence of the two sexes – by defining both a man and a woman as necessary for the institution that grounds family life.

    “Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility,” the archbishops wrote, describing a truth accessible to reason and confirmed by faith.

    “Christian teaching fills out this pattern and reveals its deepest meaning, but neither the Church nor the state has the power to change this fundamental understanding of marriage itself. Nor is this simply a matter of public opinion.”

    A legal redefinition, they warned, “would gradually and inevitably transform society’s understanding of the purpose of marriage.”

    “It would reduce it just to the commitment of the two people involved. There would be no recognition of the complementarity of male and female or that marriage is intended for the procreation and education of children.”

    As they encouraged the faithful to preserve the complementarity of the two sexes in civil law, the archbishops also called U.K. Catholics to embrace the fullness of the Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality.

    Marriage, they reminded the faithful, “is open, in its essence, to welcoming new life, ready to love and nurture that life to its fullness, not only here on earth but also into eternity.”

    “We understand marriage to be a call to holiness for a husband and wife, with children recognized and loved as the gift of God, with fidelity and permanence as the boundaries which create its sacred space.”

    Archbishops Nichols and Smith observed that “no other institution” can support society's “stability, its capacity for compassion and forgiveness and its future,” in the way that authentic marriage can.

    Number of Priests Worldwide Continues Steady Increase


    VATICAN CITY, MARCH 12, 2012 ( On Saturday, Benedict XVI's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, presented the Holy Father with the 2012 edition of the "Annuario Pontificio" or pontifical yearbook, and the "Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae".

    A note concerning the presentation highlights some of the facts contained in the new edition. In 2011, the Pope erected eight new episcopal sees, one personal ordinariate and one military ordinariate. One archdiocese and eight dioceses were elevated to the rank of metropolitan see; one prelature, one apostolic vicariate and one apostolic prefecture were elevated to the rank of diocese, and one "sui iuris" mission was elevated to the rank of apostolic prefecture.

    The statistical information, which refers to the year 2010, reveals details about the Catholic Church in the 2,966 ecclesiastical circumscriptions on the planet. The number of Catholics in the world moved from 1,181 million in 2009 to 1,196 million in 2010, an increase of fifteen million faithful, corresponding to a growth of 1.3 percent. Over the last two years the presence of baptised Catholics in the world has remained stable at around 17.5 per cent.

    The number of Catholics with respect to the total population varies considerably between the continents. Their numbers have dropped in South America (from 28.54 per cent to 28.34 per cent) and in Europe (from 24.05 per cent to 23.83 per cent), while they have increased in Africa (from 15.15 per cent to 15.55 per cent) and in South-East Asia (from 10.47 per cent to 10.87 per cent).

    The number of bishops went from 5,065 to 5,104, a growth of 0.77 per cent. This increase involved Africa (sixteen new bishops), America (fifteen) and Asia (twelve), while numbers fell slightly in Europe (from 1,607 to 1,606) and in Oceania (from 132 to 129).

    The steady increase in the number of priests which began in the year 2000 has continued. In 2010 their numbers stood at 412,236, composed of 227,009 diocesan priests and 135,227 regular priests; whereas in 2009 they numbered 410,593 (275,542 diocesan and 135,051 regular). The number of clergy has increased in Asia (by 1695), Africa (765), Oceania (52) and the Americas (42), while their numbers have fallen by 905 in Europe.

    Numbers of permanent deacons have increased by 3.7 per cent, from 38,155 in 2009 to 39,564 in 2010. They are present above all in North America and Europe, which respectively represent 64.3 per cent and 33.2 per cent of the world total.

    The negative tendency in the number of non-ordained male religious reversed, as their number passed from 54,229 in 2009 to 54,665 in 2010. Numbers fell by 3.5 per cent in South America and by 0.9 per cent in North America, in Europe they remained stationary while Asia and Africa saw an increase of 4.1 per cent and 3.1 per cent respectively.

    The number of female religious is undergoing a strong decline, moving from 729,371 in 2009 to 721,935 in 2010. Numbers fell by 2.9 per cent in Europe, by 2.6 per cent in Oceania and by 1.6 per cent the Americas. Nonetheless they increased by around 2 per cent in both Africa and Asia.

    The number of students of philosophy and theology in diocesan and religious seminaries has increased constantly over the last five years, from 114,439 in 2005 to 111,990 in 2010, a growth of 4 per cent.

    Numbers of major seminarians have fallen by 10.4 per cent in Europe, and by 1.1 per cent in the Americas, but are increasing in Africa (14.2 per cent,) Asia (13 per cent) and Oceania (12.3 per cent).

    Bishop Aquila Receives Pope's Praise for Reordering Sacraments

    ROME, ITALY, March 8 (
    CNA/EWTN News) .- Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo said he is delighted to have first-hand papal approval for changing the order by which children in his diocese receive the sacraments.

    “I was very surprised in what the Pope said to me, in terms of how happy he was that the sacraments of initiation have been restored to their proper order of baptism, confirmation then first Eucharist,” said Bishop Aquila, after meeting Pope Benedict on March 8.

    Bishop Aquila was one of five bishops from North and South Dakota to meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican as part of their March 5-10 “ad limina” visit to the Rome.

    Over the past seven years the Diocese of Fargo has changed the typical order of the sacraments of initiation. Instead of confirmation coming third and at an older age, it is now conferred on children at a younger age and prior to First Communion.

    Bishop Aquila said he made the changes because “it really puts the emphasis on the Eucharist as being what completes the sacraments of initiation” and on confirmation as “sealing and completing baptism.”

    When the sacraments are conferred in this order, he said, it becomes more obvious that “both baptism and confirmation lead to the Eucharist.” This sacramental assistance helps Catholics live “that intimate relationship of being the beloved sons and daughters of the Father in our daily lives,” he added.

    The Bishop of Fargo said the changes have also distanced the Sacrament of Confirmation from “some false theologies that see it as being a sacrament of maturity or as a sacrament for ‘me choosing God.’”

    Instead, young people in Fargo now have “the fullness of the spirit and the completion of the gifts of the spirit” to assist them in “living their lives within the world,” especially “in the trials they face in junior high and high school.”

    Bishop Aquila explained his theological thinking to Pope Benedict during today’s meeting.

    In response, he said, the Pope asked if he had “begun to speak to other bishops about this.” He told the pontiff that he had and that “certainly bishops within the Dakotas are now really looking towards the implementation in the restoration in the ordering of the sacraments.”

    CBCP Head: Church Position on Rejecting the RH Bill Stays

    MANILA, March 8, 2012—Amid calls for debates after the Manila Archbishop opened renewed opportunities for dialogue on the reproductive health (RH) bill, the newly appointed leader of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) reiterated that the stand of the Church remains the same.

    “If the RH proponents expect that we in the new administration, because we are new, would be amenable to changes, it is a no,” CBCP President Archbishop Jose Palma said.

    “Their presumption may be like if there is a new admin they think there can be a new policy, have new doctrines and approaches. This is not the case in the Church. We don’t expect the new members of any council to be changing doctrines.”

    The prelate also pointed out the need for more plenary debates amid the calls of RH proponents to put the bill to a vote.


    Kapag humaba debate mas maraming natututunan at nakikita ang katotohanan about the Church doctrine, kaya ‘yung iba natatakot na kapag humaba ang debate,” Palma explained. (CBCP for Life)

    Catholic Church Only Exists to Unite God and Man

    VATICAN CITY, February 19 (
    CNA/EWTN News) .- In the presence of 22 cardinals who were elevated yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Catholic Church only exists for the purpose of bringing people to Jesus and not for her own sake.

     “The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above,” he said Feb. 19 to a packed St. Peter’s Basilica. 

    “The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital ‘O,’ to shine through her – the One from whom she comes and to whom she leads.”

    The Pope made his remarks in his homily for the Mass of the Solemnity of the Chair of St. Peter.

    Dwelling upon the Gospel passage in which Peter proclaims Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the Pope explored the significance of Christ’s response that Peter would be “the rock” upon which the Church was built.

    The Pope explained how the old covenant between God and the Jewish people was first made with Abraham, of whom the Prophet Isaiah writes, “look to the rock from which you were hewn ... look to Abraham your father.”

    Therefore, just as Abraham “the father of believers” is seen as “the rock that supports creation,” so too is Peter the basis for a new covenant. He is “the rock that is to prevail against the destructive forces of evil.”

    The Pope then turned his gaze towards Bernini’s 17th-century bronze sculpture, the Chair of Peter, which dominates the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica.

    He described it as an “enormous bronze throne that seems to hover in mid air, but in reality is supported by the four statues of the great Fathers of the Church from East and West.” Above it, he noted, are “triumphant angles suspended in the air” and the “glory of the Holy Spirit” depicted in the oval window above. Given today’s feast, the sculpture was adorned with 144 burning candles.

    Pope Benedict proposed that the statue “represents a vision of the essence of the Church and the place within the Church of the Petrine Magisterium.”

    The Church “is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where he comes towards our world,” where God “reaches” us and where we “set off” towards him, the Pope explained.

    The Church “has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable.”
    Inside the magnificent bronze throne is a wooden chair which was thought for many centuries to have belonged to St. Peter himself but was later discovered to be a 9th century gift to the Pope from the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles the Bald.

    “Saint Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission after the confession at Caesarea Philippi,” said Pope Benedict.

    He also described it as a visible reminder of the famous expression of the early Church Father, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who described the Church of Rome as “she that ‘presides in charity’.”

    “In truth, presiding in faith is inseparably linked to presiding in love. Faith without love would no longer be an authentic Christian faith,” he said.

    To “preside in charity,” the Pope taught, “is to draw men and women into a Eucharistic embrace – the embrace of Christ – which surpasses every barrier and every division, creating communion from all manner of differences.”

    Pope Benedict also reflected on the importance of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture for the Petrine ministry. It is Sacred Scripture, interpreted with the authority of the Catholic Church and “in the light” of the Church Fathers, which sheds “light upon the Church’s journey through time, providing her with a stable foundation amid the vicissitudes of history,” he said.

    Therefore, he concluded, by considering the Altar of the Chair “in its entirety” we can see “twofold movement” of “ascending and descending” which depicts “the reciprocity between faith and love.”

    “Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist,” he stated, “discovers true joy and becomes capable in turn of living according to the logic of this gift.” 

    “True faith is illumined by love and leads towards love,” just as “the altar of the Chair points upwards towards the luminous window, the glory of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the true focus for the pilgrim’s gaze as he crosses the threshold of the Vatican Basilica.” 

    Pope Benedict later returned to similar reflections after Mass as he addressed pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus address, which he delivered from the window of his apartment.

    “The Chair of St. Peter,” he told them, “is a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his successors to shepherd the flock of Christ, holding it together in faith and charity.”

    Before praying the midday Marian prayer, he entrusted the new cardinals “to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, asking that she always assist them in their service to the Church and sustain them in any trials they may face.”

    Pope Benedict to Canonize Seven Saints in October
    Benedict XVI issued a challenge to 22 new cardinals today, calling on them to sacrifice their lives for Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, even to the point of martyrdom.

    “The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love,” the Pope said in his homily for the Feb. 18 consistory ceremony, which was held in St. Peter’s Basilica.

    He then reflected on the significance of the red birettas that he would later place on the heads of the new cardinals. “Love for God, love for his Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood, if necessary, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the color of their robes.”

    In total, 22 new cardinals were created this morning, including two from the United States. They are Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien, Emeritus Archbishop of Baltimore and now the Grand Master of The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

    Cardinal Thomas C. Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, was also among those who received the honor of being named a cardinal today.

    Pope Benedict explained that as the “parish priests of Rome,” each of the new cardinals was given a titular church within the Pope’s diocese, thereby fully inserting them “in the Church of Rome led by the Successor of Peter.” These positions will also allow the cardinals to “cooperate closely with him in governing the universal Church.”

    In particularly, he explained, “the new cardinals will be called to consider and evaluate the events, the problems and the pastoral criteria which concern the mission of the entire Church.”

    This is a “delicate task,” but they can look to St. Peter, “who for the love of Christ gave himself even unto the ultimate sacrifice,” the Pope said.

    The Pope told the 22 new cardinals that they must “serve the Church with love and vigor, with the transparency and wisdom of teachers, with the energy and strength of shepherds, with the fidelity and courage of martyrs.”

    “Dear Brothers who are to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals,” he said, “may Christ’s total gift of self on the cross be for you the foundation, stimulus and strength of a faith operative in charity.”

    He counseled them to carry out their mission in the Church and the world always “‘in Christ’ alone, responding to his logic and not that of the world, and may it be illumined by faith and animated by charity which comes to us from the glorious Cross of the Lord.”

    After his homily, Pope Benedict called out the name of each new cardinal. In response, they recited the Creed and swore obedience to the Pope and his successors. Then, one by one, they ascended to the high altar of St. Peter’s, where the Pope bestowed the red biretta hat and the cardinal’s ring upon each man.

    The Pope explained to them that the ring depicts Saints Peter and Paul with a star in the middle, evoking Mary, the Mother of God.

    “Wearing this ring, you are reminded each day to remember the witness which these two apostles gave to Christ even unto martyrdom here in Rome, their blood making the Church fruitful,” he said.

    The most significant task awaiting any new cardinal is the election of a new pontiff when the reigning Pope dies. Only those under the age of 80, however, are entitled to vote. After today’s consistory, the College of Cardinals has 213 members, of whom 125 are eligible to vote.

    Following the ceremony Pope Benedict XVI also confirmed the canonization of seven new saints, two of whom are related to the United States.
    The first is Blessed Marianne Cope, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of Syracuse, N.Y., who died in 1918. She spent many years caring for the lepers on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. The other is Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th-century Mohawk girl who converted to Catholicism and died at the age of 24. She will become the first Native American saint.

    Their canonization ceremony will take place on Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012.

    Vatican Spokesman Calls for Calm, Clear Thinking


    Responds to Series of Leaked Memos Causing Italian Media Uproar


    VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2012 ( The director of the Vatican press office advises remaining calm, as a series of leaked Vatican documents has created something of a media storm in Italy.


    In a statement released by Vatican Radio on Monday, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said: "Nowadays we must all have strong nerves, because no one can be surprised at anything. The American administration was affected by Wikileaks, now the Vatican too has its disclosures, its leaked documents, which tend to create confusion and bewilderment, and to throw a bad light on the Vatican, the governance of the Church and, more broadly, on the Church herself."


    "We must, then, remain calm and keep our nerve, make use of reason, something which not all media outlets tend to do," he suggested.


    Father Lombardi went on to clarify, "The documents in question are of different kinds and importance, drawn up at various times and for differing situations."



    Distinguishing the issues


    He then mentioned the issues the notes have regarded, including the economic management of the governing body of Vatican City State, current juridical and legislative questions, ("about which it is quite normal that there should be contrasting opinions,") and even "delirious and incomprehensible reports about plots against the Pope's life."


    "Yet, putting them all together helps to create confusion," Father Lombardi lamented.


    "Serious reporting should be capable of distinguishing the issues and understanding their differing importance."


    The Jesuit said that it is "very sad" that documents are leaked "in order to create confusion."


    "Both sides bear responsibility: firstly the suppliers of documents of this kind, but also those who undertake to use them for purposes that certainly have nothing to do with pure love of truth," he stated. "We must, therefore, stand firm, not allowing ourselves to be swallowed up by the vortex of confusion, which is what ill-intentioned people want, and remaining capable of using our reason."



    At stake


    The spokesman reflected that "according to an ancient expression of human and spiritual wisdom -- the emergence of more powerful attacks is a sign that something important is at stake."


    He then went on to note the Church's advances in the sexual abuse crisis and its commitment to ensure economic transparency in Vatican institutions.


    "If many people insist on attacking us, the issue is obviously important," he observed. "Whoever thinks he is discouraging the Pope and his collaborators in their commitment is mistaken."


    Father Lombardi concluded with this comment: "As for the issue of the supposed power struggles in view of the next conclave, I would invite everyone to note that all the Pontiffs elected during the last hundred years have been people of exalted and unquestioned spiritual merit. Cardinals have naturally sought, and still seek, to elect someone who deserves the respect of the people of God, someone who can serve humankind in our time with great moral and spiritual authority. Reading these events as an internal power struggle depends to a large extent on the moral coarseness of those who provoke them and those who see them as such, people often incapable of seeing anything else. Fortunately, those who believe in Jesus Christ know that -- whatever may be written in today's newspapers -- the true concerns of those with positions of responsibility in the Church are the serious problems facing the men and women of today and tomorrow. Not for nothing do we also believe in, and speak of, the assistance of the Holy Spirit."


    Divorce and Children: New Study Confirms Irreparable Harm
    Splitting Up Seen to Weaken All of the 5 Major Institutions of Society
    by Father John Flynn, LC

    ROME, FEB. 10, 2012 ( Each year in the United States over a million children are the innocent parties to the divorce of their parents. While divorce also hurts the parents it is the children who particularly suffer, according to recent research.

    The findings come in a study published in January by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, "The Effects of Divorce on Children," by Patrick F. Fagan and Aaron Churchill.

    Drawing on a large amount of published research on the effects of divorce, their paper goes through a series of areas where divorce harms children. The first one regards parent-child relationships. As would be expected, divorce affects the ability of parents to relate to their children.

    One study found that the stress caused by divorce damages the relationship between children and their mothers for as many as 40% of divorced mothers. This insufficiency is more marked by the time children are in high school and college.

    In practical terms this means that after divorce, children receive less emotional support, financial assistance, and help from their parents. There is also a decrease in academic stimulation, pride, affection, and encouragement of social maturity. Fewer toys and more corporal punishment is another consequence for children of divorced parents.

    Most, around 90%, of children remain with their mother following a divorce. It then becomes difficult for the father to maintain close ties, the study reported. In one study nearly half of the children said they had not seen their father in the past year.


    Another aspect covered in the study by Fagan and Churchill is the effect of divorce on religious practice among children. They found that following divorce, children are more likely to cease practicing their faith.

    This lessening of religious practice means that children suffer from a lack of the beneficial effects of religion, in areas as diverse as marital stability, education, income, and physical and mental health.

    A section of the study looked at what happens to children's educational results following the divorce of their parents. At the level of elementary school there is an immediate decline in academic performance.

    At high school level children from intact families have significantly better test scores compared to children of divorced parents. One example in the study was that by the age of 13 there is an average difference of half a year in the reading ability between children of divorced parents and children from intact families.

    Other research cited included a study that found children from divorced families were 26% more likely to drop out of secondary school compared to children brought up in intact families. Moreover, even if a divorced parent re-married this did not remove the negative impact of the initial divorce on children's academic results.

    The divorce penalty extends up to college. Fagan and Churchill reported one study that found only 33% of students from divorced families graduate from college, compared to 40% of those from intact families.

    Given the impact on education, not unexpectedly those affected by the divorce of their parents also have a lower income and assets and a greater probability of experiencing economic hardship.

    The social impact of divorce was another aspect discussed by Fagan and Churchill. Divorce not only imposes costs on families but also on government and society. Children of divorced families are considerably more likely to engage in delinquent behavior, to be involved in fighting, robberies, and substance abuse.


    "Divorce wreaks havoc on the psychological stability of many children," the study found. It referred to research carried out on seventh and eighth grade students that showed parental divorce was the third most stressful life event of a list of 125 life events. It was only surpassed by the death of a parent or close family member.

    As well, this psychological impact is not passing. Even as adults, those who experienced divorce as children experience more emotional and psychological problems compared to those from intact families.

    Higher levels of child abuse and neglect are further consequences of divorce. One study carried out in Brazil found that children in step-families with stepfathers were 2.7 times more likely to be abused than children in biologically intact households.

    The concluding section of the study commented that unlike the divorced parents, who can often find relief following separation, children's suffering continues long after divorce. In fact, its effects continue for decades, as long as three decades.

    "Divorce has pervasive weakening effects on children and on all of the five major institutions of society -- the family, the church, the school, the marketplace, and government itself," Fagan and Churchill concluded.

    With the high level of divorce in recent times these debilitating consequences will continue to be played out in the years to come. Not a comforting thought as Western society continues to witness continued attacks on family life and attempts to re-define marriage.

    Pope Tells What's Most Important on Path to Priesthood
    Emphasizes Importance of Studying the Faith as an Organic Whole

    VATICAN CITY, JAN. 27, 2012 ( Benedict XVI says the most important thing on the journey toward the priesthood and in priestly life is a personal relationship with God in Christ.

    The Pope affirmed this Thursday when he addressed three of Italy's regional seminaries.

    After noting the value of seminaries that draw from several dioceses as a preparation for collaboration in the universal Church, the Holy Father went on to speak about the philosophical-theological formation of future priests.

    "As I wrote in my letter to seminarians at the close of the Year for Priests, it is not only a question of learning obviously useful things but of knowing and understanding the structure of the faith in its totality -- which is not a summary of theses but an organism, an organic vision -- so that it becomes an answer to the questions of men, who change in externals from generation to generation but who remain fundamentally the same," he said.

    The Pontiff also emphasized that the study of theology must be connected with the life of prayer.

    "It is important," he said, "that the seminarian well understands that the object that he applies himself to is in fact a 'Subject' who calls to him, that Lord who spoke to him, inviting him to spend his life in service to God and to his brothers."

    Promoting sanctity

    Benedict XVI reflected on the integration of ministry and spiritual life, observing how important the human formation of the priest is.

    "It is in fact in our humanity that we present ourselves before God to be authentic men of God in the eyes of our brothers. [...] Thus, the most important thing in the journey toward the priesthood and during the whole priestly life is a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ," he affirmed.

    The Pope cited his predecessor, Blessed John XXII, affirming: "In view of the mission with which you will be entrusted for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, this is the purpose of your education: forming the mind, sanctifying the will. The world awaits saints: this above all. Before cultured, eloquent, up-to-date priests, there is a need of holy priests who sanctify (sacerdoti santi e santificatori)." 


    "These words still have resonance today," Benedict said, "because in the whole Church, as well as in the regions from which you come, there is much more than ever the need for workers of the Gospel, credible witnesses and those who promote sanctity with their own lives."

    --- --- ---

    On ZENIT's Web page:

    Full text:

    Hungary Passes Law Promoting New Pro-Life Constitution

    by Steven Ertelt | | 1/26/12 6:52 PM

    As one of the eastern European nations seeing high abortion rates, a pro-life Hungary would be a huge victory for women and unborn children. Susan Yoshihara of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, says that is happening. Excerpts from her report:

    Hungarian leaders have passed a law protecting the traditional family, defying ongoing criticism that their new constitution would curtail abortion…

    The new law says … “Embryonic and foetal life shall be entitled to protection and respect from the moment of conception,” and the state should encourage “homely circumstances” for child care. It obliges the media to respect marriage and parenting and assigns parents, rather than the State, primary responsibility for protecting the rights of the child. The law enumerates responsibilities for minors, including respect and care for elderly parents.

    The purpose of the law is “to create a predictable and safe regulatory environment for family protection and the promotion of family welfare, and to enforce the Fundamental Law,” the nation’s new constitution, which came into force on January 1st and was passed by a vote of 262-44 last April. 


    The Fundamental Law nullified Hungary’s communist-era constitution and dates its democracy from the revolution against the Soviet Union in 1956 and Soviet collapse in 1990. Hungary is the last Central European nation to pass a post-communist constitution.

    The constitution calls for the protection of life from conception and bans torture, human trafficking, eugenics, and human cloning.

    But pro-abortion groups are not happy.

    Amnesty International said the article protecting life from conception could “undermine the rights of women and girls” that are “enshrined in several treaties signed and ratified by the Republic of Hungary such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).”

    Human Rights Watch likewise invoked UN human rights treaties in a letter urging Hungary’s president to “amend the constitution to ensure respect for women’s reproductive rights.”

    International legal experts have dismissed the claims of the human rights groups saying Hungary has the right to pass a constitution without interference. They point out that no UN treaty even mentions abortion, sexual orientation, or gender identity and that the UN General Assembly has never accepted such redefinitions.

    European legal expert Roger Kiska sees the new Hungarian laws as part of a growing trend among European states to push back at such interpretations and protect human life and the family. Former US ambassador to Hungary Mark Palmer said the expulsion of Hungary from the EU is “now no longer unthinkable,” but Hungarian analyst Julia Lakatos downplayed the controversy, telling CSMonitor, “Much of the criticism from abroad is exaggerated.”

    Contraception Mandate Prompts Bishop to Reinstate St. Michael Prayer

    Peoria, Ill. Jan. 27, 2012/ 06:12 am (EWTN News) Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Illinois has asked parishes, schools, hospitals and religious houses to insert the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel into the intercessions at Sunday Mass to pray for Catholics’ freedom.

    The move comes in response to a new federal requirement that will force many Catholic organizations to provide insurance coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives.

    “It is God’s invincible Archangel who commands the heavenly host, and it is the enemies of God who will ultimately be defeated,” the bishop said in a Jan. 24 letter to the Catholics of his diocese.

    The prayer should take place in the general intercessions before the concluding prayer, Bishop Jenky said. He asked that the intention of the prayer be announced as “for the freedom of the Catholic Church in America.”

    The St. Michael prayer was authored by Pope Leo XIII, and was once commonly said in U.S. Catholic parishes as part of a petition for the freedom of Soviet Russia.

    He said it is his duty to summon the local Church into “spiritual and temporal combat in defense of Catholic Christianity.”

    “If these regulations are put into effect, they could close down every Catholic school, hospital and the other public ministries of our Church, which is perhaps their underlying intention,” Bishop Jenky said. “What is perfectly clear is that this is a bigoted and blanket attack on the First Amendment rights of every Catholic believer.”

    Bishop Jenky’s comments add to the continued reaction to the Department of Health and Human Services ruling that requires insurance coverage of procedures which Catholic teaching recognizes as sinful. The rule’s narrow religious exemptions only include institutions which hire or serve their fellow believers and have the inculcation of religious values as a primary purpose.

    The requirement will make it impossible for Catholic institutions to continue to offer health care coverage for their employees, the Diocese of Peoria said. The institutions could be forced to drop healthcare coverage for employees because of their moral and religious objections.

    Bishop Jenky stated that the president does not have the authority under the U.S. Constitution to “require our cooperation with what we consider to be intrinsic evil and mortal sin.”

    “I am honestly horrified that the nation I have always loved has come to this hateful and radical step in religious intolerance.”

    The bishop pledged that the Church will never abandon its commitment to the Gospel of Life and called on the faithful to “vigorously” oppose what he called an “unprecedented governmental assault upon the moral convictions of our faith.”

    Bishop Jenky also struck an encouraging note.

    “Have faith! Have courage! Fight boldly for what you believe!” he said. “I strongly urge you not to be intimidated by extremist politicians or the malice of the cultural secularists arrayed against us.”

    Invoking the First Letter of John, he said Catholics should always remember that “the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

    No One Exempt From Missionary Vocation, Says Pope
    Says Every Church Activity Should Have Mission Perspective

    VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2012 ( Benedict XVI says that every component of the Church should feel bound by Christ's mandate to preach the Gospel, so that He is proclaimed everywhere.

    The Pope said this in a text for World Mission Day, which the Vatican released today. World Mission Day will be celebrated this year Oct. 21.

    "All the components of the great mosaic of the Church must feel strongly drawn in by the Lord's mandate to preach the Gospel, so that Christ is proclaimed everywhere," the Holy Father affirmed.

    "The mission ad gentes should be, also today, the constant horizon and paradigm of every ecclesial activity, because the very identity of the Church is constituted by faith in the Mystery of God," he added.

    Benedict XVI called for a "taking up again [of] the same apostolic impetus of the first Christian communities, which, small and vulnerable, with their proclamation and witness, were able to spread the Gospel in the whole then-known world."

    Giving from need

    The Holy Father lauded Churches in mission territories, or young Churches, who are themselves actively engaged in missionary work, "even if they themselves are still in need of missionaries."

    "So many priests, men and women religious, from every part of the world, numerous laymen and, in fact, whole families leave their countries, their local communities and go to other churches to witness and proclaim the Name of Christ, in whom humanity finds salvation," he noted.

    The Pontiff stressed the need for missionary work so that all people have the opportunity to know Christ.

    "The meeting with Christ as a living person who satiates the thirst of the heart cannot but lead to the desire to share with others the joy of this presence and to make it known so that all can experience it," he said. "It is necessary to renew the enthusiasm to communicate the faith so as to promote a New Evangelization of the communities and countries of ancient Christian tradition, which are losing their connection with God, in order to rediscover the joy of believing.

    "The concern to evangelize must never be left on the margin of ecclesial activity and of the personal life of the Christian, but it must be strongly characterized by the awareness of being recipients and, at the same time, missionaries of the Gospel."

    Licit Forms of Natural Family Planning
    No Reason to Reject Standard Days Method

    WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 25, 2012 ( Here is a question on bioethics asked by a ZENIT reader and answered by the fellows of the Culture of Life Foundation.

    Q: The Standard Days Method (SDM) of Natural Family Planning (NFP) was introduced by Georgetown University and uses a bead counting method. Some Catholic doctors and priests have criticized the SDM for some/all of the following reasons:

    1. It is not "natural" because a computer model was used to calculate the days of abstinence.

    2. It is endorsed by USAID (which has links to abortion funding).

    3. The original research paper left open the possibility of using a back-up method during the fertile period.

    My question is: Can Catholic licitly teach and practice the SDM? -- Fr. JM, Southeast Asia

    E. Christian Brugger offers the following response:

    The Standard Days Method of fertility awareness is a newer and more precise variation of the older calendar ("rhythm") method that used the length of a woman's menstrual cycle to estimate when fertility was most likely to occur. 

    Promoters of the SDM state that the newer method is only reliable for women whose cycles range in length from 26 to 32 days. Women outside this range are encouraged to use another method. Those who fall into that range and who wish to avoid pregnancy are advised to abstain from intercourse on days 8-19 of their cycle. These are the days, according to the method, when they are most likely to conceive. SDM literature reports that when the method is used correctly it has a 95% rate of effectivity.

    This is not so different from the older calendar rhythm method whose rate of effectivity, when used correctly, was 91%. The problem with the older method was that couples were required to carry out mathematical calculations that the SDM has built into its approach. So whereas the "perfect use failure rate" of the older method was 9% (91% success rate), few couples used it perfectly. The "actual use failure rate," because of the method's complexity, turned out to be 25%, which meant that couples trying to avoid pregnancy got pregnant approximately one in four times. 

    From the user's perspective, the SDM is much simpler. As stated above, it is limited to women with a specific and reliable cycle length. Once that is established, the days on which couples are advised to abstain are easy to determine. In some countries, a simple string of beads is used to assist women to count off the days of abstinence.

    As for its ethical analysis, the SDM is simply a method of NFP assisting couples to regulate their fertility in ways consistent with the natural cycles of a woman's body and with moral norms taught and defended by the Catholic Church. Other methods include the Billings Ovulation Method, the Sympto-Thermal Method, the Creighton Fertility-Care Method, and Ecological Breastfeeding.

    In the 1930s, the Catholic Church judged that NFP was a legitimate way for couples to regulate births. Pope Pius XI taught in Casti Connubii (1930): "Nor are those considered as acting against nature who in the married state use their right in the proper manner although on account of natural reasons either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot be brought forth;" and two years later (1932), the Sacred Penitentiary ruled that couples could legitimately "abstain from the use of marriage" during fertile periods for "just and grave causes." Together these were taken as an approval of the recently developed rhythm method. Since that time, the Catholic Church has repeatedly affirmed the legitimacy of recourse to NFP for "iustae causae" ("just causes") (e.g., by Popes Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

    Why then might some think that the SDM is a problem? Our questioner states three possible reasons. The first argues that the method "is not 'natural' because a computer model was used to calculate the days of abstinence;" therefore, the logic goes, it must be "unnatural"; since contraception is also 'unnatural,' the SDM must be similar to contraception. 

    But using a computer to determine facts pertaining to one's fertility cycle is no more intrinsically problematic than using a computer to determine any other facts about one's biology (e.g., blood type, glucose levels, or blood pressure). In this case, the facts are used to assist couples to carry out morally legitimate means of family planning. This enables couples to practice "responsible parenthood," which, the Church teaches, is a great human good (cf. Humanae Vitae, no. 10). And technology used at the service of the moral law and human good is not only legitimate, but praiseworthy. If however technology is used at the service of wrongful forms of family planning, then it is used wrongfully.

    The second reason is that the SDM has been "endorsed by USAID (which has links to abortion funding)." This is true. Not only has the SDM been endorsed by USAID, the method was developed (at Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health) by grants in part provided from USAID. 

    But the fact that USAID is involved in some illicit activities does not mean that everything it does is illicit, nor does it mean that everyone who cooperates with its activities is doing something illicit. By funding the development of a morally legitimate form of family planning, USAID, to that extent, carried out a good act. Using the knowledge derived from that funding is unlikely to enrich USAID and hence equip it to carry out future illicit activity. And that same knowledge is likely to assist large numbers of couples, especially in developing countries, to plan their families in an upright way. Morally conscientious people should encourage USAID to devote more resources to similarly legitimate activities.

    The final reason is that some of the literature promoting the SDM has "left open the possibility of using a back-up method [of contraception] during the fertile period." This tells us two things: first, that some who promote the method do not think that contraception is wrong and believe that the SDM is just another form of ("natural") contraception. In this regard, they are in error. Contraception is wrong to use; and the SDM is not a form of contraception, since for a method to be contraceptive it must aim to render sexual intercourse sterile; and the SDM promotes abstinence, which is the avoidance of intercourse. 

    Second, it tells us that the SDM can be used wrongfully, as when one uses it in tandem with another form of contraception. But the fact that it may be used wrongfully does not mean that everyone who uses it does so wrongfully. Those couples who understand the integrity of marriage and the marital act, and who abstain from intercourse for just reasons using the SDM, and who do not have recourse to other morally illicit forms of fertility control, do nothing illicit.

    Therefore, Catholic (and non-Catholic) married couples may practice and promote the SDM as a licit form of Natural Family Planning. This was affirmed in July 2011 in a pastoral statement by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, S.J., of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines.

    * * *

    E. Christian Brugger is a Senior Fellow of Ethics and director of the Fellows Program at the Culture of Life Foundation; and the J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Chair of Moral Theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado.

    Be God's Instrument in Changing Society, Bishop Tells Families

    CEBU City, Jan. 14, 2012—A Catholic bishop has called on Filipino families to become God’s instrument in changing the face of society through witness of life.

    Jaro Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza said the nation’s celebration of the feast of Sto. Niño should lead Christian families to realize and live their “liberating and transformative role as the focal point of evangelization and the nucleus of faith-witnessing.”

    He noted that the theme of the celebration dubbed as “Sto. Niño, Refuge of the Filipino Christian Family” has a powerful message on the situation and role of today’s Filipino families in bringing change to society.

    Alminaza, who is also convenor of the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group, reflected how families nowadays are greatly endangered by the hedonistic values spread by the media

    “Today, families are greatly attacked by worldly values, decadent media, internet, and modern gadgetry,” he said. “Moreover, a sizable number of marginalized Filipino families are living in utter poverty."

    “We have to ask the following question, he said, "How can the Sto. Niño today become the refuge of families who are landless, jobless, homeless, hungry; and which lack the basic social services such as health, education, housing and others?

    “Our celebrations will be like empty clanging cymbals if the above concrete realities of the least of the Sto. Niño's brothers and sisters are not addressed effectively,” Alminaza added.

    Quoting Pope Benedict’s message for the 2012 World Day of Peace, he said “the family, as foundation of society, has an essential task in genuine societal transformation and a definite ecclesial task which places itself at the service of the building up of the Kingdom of God in history.” (CBCPNews)

    Vatican Daily Issues Pope's Prayer Intentions for 2013

    VATICAN CITY, January 13 (
    CNA/EWTN News) .- The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano published Pope Benedict XVI’s prayer intentions for the year 2013.

    Highlights from the 2013 intentions include prayers for participants in World Youth Day, which is slated to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during July of that year. Other intentions emphasize global respect for human life and the environment as well as specific prayers for the protection of families. 

    Pope Benedict will also be praying for the Year of Faith, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and is set to conclude in 2013.

    The Pope's entire list of prayer intentions for 2013 is as follows:


    General: That during this “Year of Faith” Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and joyfully bear witness to the gift of faith in Him.

    Missionary: That the Christian communities of the Middle East, which frequently suffer discrimination, may receive the strength of fidelity and perseverance of the Holy Spirit.


    General: That migrant families, in particular mothers, may be sustained and accompanied in their difficulties.

    Missionary: That peoples experiencing war and conflicts may be the protagonists in the building of a future of peace.


    General: That respect for nature will grow, with the awareness that all creation is the work of God entrusted to human responsibility.

    Missionary: That bishops, priests and deacons may be tireless proclaimers of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.


    General: That the prayerful and public celebration of the faith may be a source of life for the faithful.

    Missionary: That the particular Churches in mission territories may be a sign and instrument of hope and resurrection.


    General: That those who administer justice will always act with integrity and upright conscience.

    Missionary: That seminarians, especially from mission Churches, may always be pastors according to the heart of Christ, fully devoted to the proclamation of the Gospel.


    General: That a culture of dialogue, listening and reciprocal respect may prevail among the nations.

    Missionary:  That in the areas where the influx of secularization is strongest, Christian communities may learn to effectively promote a new evangelization.


    General: That the World Youth Day taking place in Brazil may encourage all young Christians to become disciples and missionaries of the Gospel.

    Missionary: That throughout the Asian continent, doors may be opened to the messengers of the Gospel.


    General: That parents and teachers may help the new generations to grow up with a upright conscience and a consistent life.

    Missionary: That the particular Churches of the African continent, faithful to the Gospel proclamation, may promote the building of peace and justice.


    General: That the men and women of our time, often immersed in noise, may resdiscover the value of silence and learn to listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters.

    Missionary: That Christians who suffer persecution in numerous regions of the world may be prophets of the love of Christ by their testimony.


    General: That those who feel weary from the heaviness of life, and even long for its end, may sense the closeness of God’s love.

    Missionary: That the celebration of World Missions Day may make all Christians aware that they are not only recipients but also proclaimers of the Word of God.


    General: That priests experiencing difficulties may be comforted in their sufferings, sustained in the doubts and confirmed in their fidelity.

    Missionary:  That the Churches of Latin America may send missionaries to other Churches as a result of the continental mission.


    General: That children who are victims of abandonment and of every form of violence may find the love and protection they need.

    Missionary: That Christians, enlightened by the light of the incarnate Word, may prepare humanity for the coming of the Savior.

    Traditional Procession in Philippines Draws Millions
    Terrorist Alert Fails to Deter Faithful

    ROME, JAN. 12, 2012 ( A traditional procession in the Philippines drew millions again this year, though there were alerts before the event of possible terrorist activity.

    The Monday procession of the "Black Nazarene" -- an image of Christ bearing the cross that has been blackened by fire -- reportedly had as many as 7 million participants.

    The procession is one of the most traditional manifestations of devotion in the archipelago. The image, which depicts Christ with the cross, is presented to the faithful in the Minor Basilica of Quiapo in Manila. The impressive popular devotion goes back 400 years when, according to tradition, on May 31, 1606, the sculpture was miraculously saved from a fire that broke out on the ship transporting it from Mexico to Manila. Blackened by the fire, hence the name "Black Nazarene," the statue was also saved from fires that devastated the Basilica of Quiapo in 1791 and 1929, as well as from severe earthquakes in 1645 and 1863, and the bombing of Manila in 1945.

    Every Jan. 9, the image of Christ, bent under the weight of the cross, is taken on a cart through the streets of Manila, attracting a multitude of people -- many of whom walk barefoot in memory of Christ on Calvary. 

    Although the procession ends every year with numerous injuries and even deaths because of the vast crowds, the authorities regarded particularly serious the credible threat of an attack this year. The president issued a warning, but the faithful were not deterred. Extra precautions were also taken, including the blocking of cell phone service in the area during the procession, to prevent the use of cell phones to detonate bombs. 

    The leaders of the Catholic Church in the Philippines -- who do not discourage such expressions of popular devotion, though up to now they have not recognized a miracle attributed to the procession of the Black Nazarene -- welcomed the peaceful outcome. 

    Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila thanked the president for his concern. In his homily, the archbishop prayed in particular for the victims of the typhoon that recently struck the southern Philippines. "The image of the Black Nazarene shows us how the power of God, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, can help us to overcome the difficulties of life," he said.


    The Fides news agency spoke with Auxiliary Bishop Bernardino Cortez of Manila, who said: "The terror warnings did not discourage the faithful. Indeed, many of them say that, if they died during the procession of the Nazarene, performing an act of faith, they would certainly go to Paradise. The Nazarene works miracles, a brother in suffering, a message of hope for the poor: nothing can stop the faithful. [...] What is striking is that the Nazarene is a reference point especially for young people, many of whom are present in today's event."

    Bl. Pedro Calungsod shows youth can be saints

    MANILA, Jan. 12, 2012—The looming canonization of Bl. Pedro Calungsod is an encouragement to young Filipinos to stand firm in their faith, even in exchange for their lives.

    According to Fr. Conegundo Garganta, the teenage boy, who was a 17-year-old sacristan and catechist who was killed in Guam while accompanying his Jesuit superior in doing missionary work, gives Filipino youth a model worthy of emulation.

    Garganta, the executive secretary of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Youth, said Calungsod’s martyrdom inspires young people “not to give in to fear and give everything up for God.”

    “The life of Blessed Pedro Calungsod gives us the hope that young people are capable of surrendering their life to God and standing firm in their faith,” he said.

    Calungsod’s sacrifice, which benefitted generations of people in Guam, is a fitting example to the Filipino youth, who comprise a major percentage of the country’s population.

    “His life makes a fitting example for the young to assess how they witness to their faith and respond to the challenges it entails,” he added.


    Late last year, the Pope announced that it is elevating the status of Calungsod and six others from Italy, France, Spain, Germany and America to sainthood this year. There is no date yet set for the canonization but spectators expect it to be done either in spring or autumn in Vatican City. (YouthPinoy)

    Ninety Percent of Priests Are happy, Study Finds

    Washigton D.C., October 12, 2011 (EWTN News) Ninety percent of priests say they are happy. One priest who has studied them say a feeling of inner peace, a positive view of celibacy, and a good relationship with God contributes to their happiness.

    Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, clinical associate professor of pastoral studies and associate dean for seminary and ministerial programs at Catholic University of America, presented his findings Oct. 5 at a symposium on the priesthood held at Catholic University in D.C.

    Other studies corroborate his findings on priests’ happiness. A 2006 National Opinion Research Center survey of 27,000 Americans reported clergy enjoy the highest level of job satisfaction in America.

    Msgr. Rossetti said that secular thinking often equates religion with unhappiness and a denial of one’s humanity. However, his study shows that true happiness is found in a lively faith that includes an awareness of God’s personal love.

    He said the happiness of priests is a challenge to secular thinking and can be the most effective instrument of evangelization.

    Close friendships with fellow clergy and members of the laity also correlated with higher levels of clergy happiness, he found. Happy priests frequently have a good relationship with their local bishop.

    Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta expanded on priests’ relationship with their bishop in his own remarks at the symposium. A bishop’s encouragement plays an important role in sustaining a priest, and a priest’s successes in parish life are sources of joy for a bishop.

    Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, Catholic University’s chancellor, encouraged the priests in attendance to celebrate their identity and to find joy in their vocation.

    University president John Garvey welcomed the symposium attendees, many of whom were alumni of the university’s theological college.

    Without priests, he said, “the practice of our faith would wither and die.”

    Garvey said priests play an important role in the lives of Catholic University students and he plans to increase the number of priests living in residence halls on campus.

    Msgr. Rosetti further discusses his findings in his book “Why Priests are Happy: A Study of the Psychological and Spiritual Health of Priests.”

    Read more:

    Bishops Laud UN Plan to Defund Philippine Birth Control Program

    MANILA, Sept. 2, 2011— Some Catholic bishops described as “good news” the reported plan of the United Nations (UN) to halt giving aid to the Philippine government’s population control program.

    Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani of Novaliches and Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said the report only goes to show that forces pushing for birth control in the US and in other countries are getting weak.

    Bacani lauded the UN plan, saying the Philippines does not really need such aid because population is not a problem in the country but the unemployment and massive corruption in the government are.

    “That is good (and) happy news! So, I am happy about it. This is also proof that pro-life advocates are getting strong in the US and even in the Philippines,” Bacani said.

    Arguelles, for his part, said he was not surprised that the UN is stopping its $1 million birth control program in the Philippines next year due to lack of funding from members.

    He said  it may be because many UN members finally realized that population control and “killing babies” is not the answer in solving poverty.

    Now that lawmakers can no longer expect funding from the UN, the more, he said, that Filipinos should oppose the reproductive health (RH) bill which requires government funding on contraceptives.


     “That is why the public, the taxpayers, should be more vigilant and strongly object the passage of the RH bill,” Arguelles said. (CBCPNews)

    Filipinos Ready to Pray 1 Million Rosaries

    MANILA, Philippines, AUG. 31, 2011 ( The Family Rosary Crusade in the Philippines is spearheading a campaign to get 1 million Filipinos to pray 1 million rosaries in 200 days for all nations in the world.

    Dubbed "A million roses for the world: Filipinos at Prayer: Peace for All Nations," the campaign aims to rally Filipinos to offer one rosary each day for a particular country in the world in 200 days.

    The nationwide activity will begin Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and end May 31, 2012, Feast of Our Lady of All Nations. 

    Bishop Nereo Odchimar, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, lauded the campaign, saying that with 1 million peace-loving Filipinos praying together, "we can claim peace for the world from the hands of the good Lord and his mother."

    Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, director of the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education, which partners with the Family Rosary Crusade, also encouraged the faithful to join a similar rosary campaign for schools nationwide dubbed "1.1 on 11/11."

    This initiative will bring students of Catholic schools, colleges and universities to pray simultaneously 1 million and 100 rosaries at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 2011.


    "This campaign aims to teach our youth that prayer can change the world and people who pray can change the destinies of peoples," the archbishop said. "Indeed there can be no world peace without prayer."


    Group Backs Lawmaker's Inquiry Into Pro-Abortion RH Lobby


    MANILA, August 26, 2011–A lawmaker interpellating the Senate sponsors of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill is on the right track by asking for the identities of the powerful lobbyists behind the controversial measure.


    In a statement, Filipinos For Life (F4L) agreed with Sen. Vicente Sotto III on the need to unmask the foreign hand behind the RH bill.
    Sotto had pointed out that one of the bill’s proponents, the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), is a member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the worldwide organization founded by known eugenicist Margaret Sanger.
    F4L took exception to a statement by former partylist lawmaker Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel that “Only 3% of IPPF’s services worldwide are abortion-related.”
    “That may be IPPF’s spin on its public identity, but the truth is Planned Parenthood is the largest single provider of abortions in the US,” said F4L.
    “IPPF is a pro-choice organization. In the US, pro-choice is synonymous with pro-abortion.”
    A check on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s website shows the group openly offers abortion services.
    “Thinking about abortion? Find a health center,” the website states.
    “There are two kinds of abortion in the U.S. — in-clinic abortion and the abortion pill. Abortions are very common. In fact, more than 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old,” the website states.
    F4L noted that a vocal supporter of the RH bill, with a long history of interfering in the national policies of different countries, is the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR).
    On its website, WGNRR says it “places a particular focus on access to safe and legal abortion, access to contraceptives, sexual rights and the special unmet demands of young people.”
    “Lawmakers should be wary of the language used in the RH bill. In international usage, the term ‘reproductive rights,’ as well as ‘reproductive health’ as publicly stated by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, includes access to abortion,” F4L added. (CBCP for Life)

    Archbishop Urges Faithful to Fight the RH Bill


    MANILA, August 17, 2011— A ranking Catholic Church official urged the faithful to defend the sanctity of human life now that the reproductive health bill is one of the Aquino administration’s priority measures.

    Filipinos must oppose measures that go against the basic values of life and marriage, said Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

    “I personally would like to exhort the many people who believe in the cause of the Lord, the values that the Gospel preaches, and the stand that we have been defending through these months to rally to this cause,” he said.

    The people, especially if they are Catholics, he said, must strongly fight the bill “if indeed they believe that this is what Christianity asks of us and to believe that our efforts would be rewarded.”

    President Benigno Aquino III asked lawmakers to give priority to the passage of the RH bill and 12 other measures in the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) Tuesday.

    During the first LEDAC meeting this year, the controversial birth control measure was not included in the agenda causing dismay among the pro-RH bill lobby groups.

    The Catholic hierarchy opposes the RH bill, which requires taxpayer-funded procurement and distribution of the “full range” of reproductive health drugs and devices, and the provision of reproductive health services and procedures.

    The bill also pushes the use of artificial methods of family planning including condoms, oral contraceptives, intra-uterine devices (IUDs), and injectables.

    The Church only accepts only natural family planning (NFP)–the only method of family planning that is all-natural, free of dangerous physical side effects, and respects the meaning and purpose of human sexuality.

    “I am saddened upon learning that RH bill is one of the priorities submitted in Congress,” said Palma. “However, I trust our congressmen especially from Cebu that they will be there to defend our stand for life, for God and of course for the sanctity of marriage.”

    “We believe that this is a long battle and we trust that with people of goodwill and with God blessing our efforts, the sanctity of human life and marriage would prevail,” he said. [CBCPNews]

    Thousands Pay Homage to Mary

    by Freddie G. Lazaro

    August 15, 2011

    STA. MARIA, Ilocos Sur, Philippines — More than one hundred thousand Catholic devotees, tourists and local residents from different places in the country flooded the historic Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, here, to celebrate the feast of the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Monday.


    Bishop Ernesto A. Salgado of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia led the concelebrated mass offered to the parish’s patron saint, Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion. All parish priests from the archdiocese assisted the prelate during the mass.


    In his homily, Bishop Salgado recalled the love and sacrifices of Blessed Virgin as a mother of God.


    “The Blessed Virgin Mary is not God but she is the mother of God as she gave birth to Jesus Christ – the savior of all mankind. Thus, she showed her great love to God by following the will of God,” the prelate said in his homily.


    “In several apparitions, the Blessed Virgin Mary had kept calling the people to turn away from sin and serve God by following His will,” Salgado added.


    The bishop posed a challenge to the more than 100,000 people who flooded in and out the church to attend the mass to follow the call of the Blessed Virgin Mary through her intercession to gain eternal life.

    CBCP to continue opposing RH bill

    by Evelyn Macairan
    Philippine Star
    August 3, 2011  
    MANILA, Philippines - Catholic bishops yesterday vowed to continue opposing the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, rejecting claims that it would help address injustice in the country.
    “I cannot see why I would support the RH bill because the good provisions for the sake the mothers and children are already stated in the mandates of government agencies. The pro-poor provisions are also already with the agencies. There is no need for a new law. What we need is sincere and committed implementation of the already existing laws,” Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) secretary general Monsignor Juanito Figura said yesterday.
    Figura was reacting to Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s appeal to Catholic Church leaders to take a clear stand against social injustice by supporting the passage of the RH bill.
    Santiago, principal author of the RH bill under Senate Bill 2865, had invoked liberation theology, noting that the first step to abolish injustice is to recognize that “the Church is tied to the unjust system that oppresses the very poor.”
    She said the message of Jesus Christ is “above all a call to struggle against the social forces of oppression.”
    While admitting that liberation theology is good, Figura, however, said the “social forces of oppression” must first be identified and taken in the Philippine context.
    These “forces,” he said, could refer to the prevailing widespread cases of graft and corruption, unequal distribution of land, widening gap between the rich and the poor, worsening criminality, severe incidents of hunger, and human trafficking.
    Figura said he could not reconcile how the RH bill would be able to address these social forces of oppression. “I could not see the logic. I am sorry to say that.”
    “Is RH bill a valid answer? Is it an answer to give solutions as early as possible or is RH bill just a little part, if that is what it is, a little part of a bigger solution such as a sincere crusade against graft and corruption, the sincere commitment to distribute the land to whom they should belong, and sincere decision to stop human trafficking,” he added.
    Anti-RH bill groups step up campaign
    Various organizations have stepped up their opposition to the passage of the RH bill.
    Former senator Francisco Tatad, who now represents the International Right to Life Federation and the World Youth Alliance, said the committee report of the RH bill did not take into consideration the questions on constitutionality raised by their group and other groups opposing the bill.
    In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, chairman of the Senate committee on rules, Tatad criticized what he called the apparent biases of the authors of the committee report and urged the rules committee to “exercise its jurisdiction over this matter and do whatever it deems necessary and proper in the premises.”
    “What the committee report contains is a totally arbitrary recommendation based on the biases of those who wrote the report rather than on the facts and issues brought before the committee hearings,” Tatad said.
    “My constitutional objection was never refuted but the committee report appears as though that constitutional objection was never made,” he added.
    Tatad noted that under the Constitution, the state cannot be a source of a program of contraception because it has a duty to protect the life of the unborn from conception.
    “It violates the principle of non-contradiction. The protector of conception cannot simultaneously be the preventer of conception. It can be one or the other but not at the same time,” he said.
    Tatad also cited Article 15, Section 3 of the Constitution, which provides that “the State shall defend the right of spouses to found a family in accordance with their religious convictions and the demands of responsible parenthood.”
    “The bill violates the provision by requiring everyone to practice birth control even though it is supposed to give the individual the choice of what methods to use,” Tatad said.
    Tatad recently delivered a speech at the Moscow Demographic Summit, wherein he criticized the proponents of the RH bill for marketing it as a necessary measure to guarantee women’s right to family planning.
    He said that it was a fraudulent claim because there is no law in the Philippines that prohibits family planning, “everyone is free to contracept and get sterilized, and the national contraceptive prevalence rate now stands at 51 percent.”
    In the declaration issued after the Moscow Demographic Summit, the participants called for an end to interference with the private life of the family under the pretext of so-called family planning, protection of the rights of the child and gender equality.
    “We consider it inadmissible to continue the policy of birth control, regarding this policy as one of the greatest threats to the survival of humankind and as a means of incursive discrimination against them family,” the declaration stated.
    – with Marvin Sy


    Pope Reminds Filipino Bishops to be Firm vs RH Bill
    by Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) Updated July 10, 2011


    MANILA, Philippines - With the debates over the Reproductive Health (RH) bill to be revived once Congress resumes session on July 25, Pope Benedict XVI reminded Filipino bishops to be firm in their position against the bill.

    In a one-page letter sent by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president Bishop Nereo Odchimar on the occasion of its 103rd Plenary Assembly, Bertone said:

    “The Holy Father was pleased to be informed of the Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines being held in Manila from 9-11 July 2011. He greets all the bishops and assures them of his spiritual closeness.”

    The letter added: “His Holiness prays that this time for reflection and renewed dedication in the service of the Gospel will bear abundant fruit for the Church and the society. He encourages the bishops in their efforts in defense of the value of each human life, of the sacredness of marriage, and of the family. Entrusting your deliberations to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, the Holy Father willingly imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in our Lord.”

    CBCP secretary-general Monsignor Juanito Figura was furnished a copy of the letter from the Pontiff.

    The Plenary Assembly, held at the Pope Pius Center along United Nations Avenue, Manila, would be attended by active and retired bishops. During the three-day gathering, they would hear the reports of the episcopal commissions and discuss other matters such as the funds given by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to some bishops and, of course, the RH bill. 

    The CBCP has been a staunch critic of the family planning measure, contending that some of the family planning methods may cause abortion and that it would encourage promiscuity.

    Odchimar has said the Church’s campaign against the RH bill had been difficult.

    “We have been in difficult times which were made more difficult because of the situation and issues being raised,” he said.


    Do Not Join Bandwagon Supporting Divorce, Priest Cautions Faithful


    SAN PABLO City, June 1, 2011―Let’s maintain our uniqueness throughout the world of being the only country to be uniquely against divorce, a priest in Laguna said.

    “Even if we are the only country in the world that has not legalized divorce, it does not mean that we have to join the bandwagon that supports it,” said Fr. Jerry Oblepias, Director of the Family Life Ministry of the San Pablo Diocese.

    He said “divorce remains to be part of the death culture that seeks to destroy the family. Once the family is destroyed, degradation of values is surely at the doorstep.”

    Oblepias was reacting to calls from lawmakers who took advantage of the news that an avid Catholic Malta has finally approved to legalize divorce in their country.

    A daily newspaper quoted Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan as saying, “Let us not keep our country in the dark ages… I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to let the legislative mill run its course on the divorce bill without further delay and give Filipino couples in irreparable and unhappy marriages this option.”

    Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, a widower, was also quoted as supporting the move, saying, “It is very difficult to let two people who cannot live together continue to live together.”

    Sen. Pia Cayetano, chair of the Senate committee on youth, women and family relations, was also quoted as supporting the proposal “to expand the definition of annulment of marriage granted under Philippine law on grounds of psychological incapacity.”


    Oblepias however, was adamant in saying that as an independent and Catholic nation Filipinos should stand on the side of morality no matter what happens.

    He said, “it is good to stand out uniquely in terms of morality. No to divorce.”

    “Our uniqueness is a sign of our faithfulness to Him. Christ is not asking us of anything. He is just asking us to be faithful to Him,” he said.

    The priest urged fellow Filipinos not to be afraid of being unique. After all, as Filipinos, we are used to being unique in the world. We are the only country which held the Church-backed peaceful EDSA People Power which ended the infamous dictatorship in our archipelago.

    He also noted that we are the only country in the world whose Pambansang Kamao Congressman Emmanuel “Pacman” Pacquiao holds the first ever in boxing history to win an 8th division boxing Championship.

    The Philippines is also eternally unique for being the only Christian nation in the Far East. And there are countless other traits which make Filipinos different from other countries and the rest of the world, the priest added. (Fr. Romy Ponte)

    Church goes online in drive against measure

    By Jocelyn R. Uy
    Philippine Daily Inquirer

    2:56 am | Thursday, May 26th, 2011
    MANILA, Philippines—The Catholic Church and its allies against the reproductive health (RH) bill have taken the fight from the pulpits to the Internet, launching on Wednesday an online portal of resources on pertinent issues on family and life.

    The portal is a trove of information, containing not only the magisterial teachings of the Church and sermons of the clergy but also independent position papers, as well as scientific and medical documents that back its stand against the legislative measure. It can be accessed through

    “The war against life, at least 85 percent of it, happens on the Internet, not on radio, television or print,” Msgr. Pedro Quitorio, media director of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said at the launch.
    According to Quitorio, the Church and like-minded groups thought of tapping the Internet because it reaches millions of readers in an instant, compared to the other media—print, radio and television—which get through to people only by the hundreds of thousands.
    “The Internet is where the youth is …,” said Eilleen Esteban, president of the Youth Pinoy, an arm of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Youth. “The portal is a very useful database for us if we want to make enlightened decisions on the issue.”
    Online databank
    Dubbed “CBCP for Life,” the portal was initiated by the CBCP Media Office in collaboration with other institutions, groups and individuals who saw the need for an “online databank” of multimedia resources that would help Filipinos make wise decisions on the RH bill.
    The website also contains a digital copy of the legislative measure that espouses early sex education and the use of artificial contraceptives, among others, and a blow-by-blow account of the ongoing debates in the House of Representatives.
    The site also features a gallery of video, photo, audio and PowerPoint files containing salient points against the RH bill pending in the House.
    “We made the files downloadable so that those who want to hold a talk or seminar on family and life can use our materials,” Quitorio said.
    While archiving, documenting and data-banking are the website’s prominent features, it also has a pool of volunteer journalists, bloggers, podcasters and social network users who have pledged to submit news stories and features on life and the family on a regular basis.
    The raging debate on the RH bill, which seeks to promote sex education from Grade 5 and provide information on methods of contraception to couples who wish to plan their families, has generated tension between the government and Church officials.
    The Church hierarchy recently terminated its dialogue with Malacañang on the RH bill but distanced itself from those within its ranks calling for civil disobedience.
    Extension of pulpit
    Msgr. Juanito Figura, CBCP secretary general, said the Internet was “an extension of the pulpit” and “just one of the contemporary avenues on which the Church can continue to teach and preach.”
    He also said the website would show that aside from the Church hierarchy, there were other voices, not exactly members of the Church, wanting to be heard in protest of the RH bill.

    Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, who is among the lawmakers opposed to the bill, said the use of the Internet to inform people on the measure was a welcome development because it was the fastest and cheapest means to dispense and get information.


    Magsaysay said that while the Internet had been swamped with the pro-RH advocacy, pertinent information supporting the opposite view must also be made available to the people “so that they will have the power of discernment and they will really be enlightened.”

    Boxer Manny Pacquiao Joins Catholic Opposition to Reproductive Health


    Manila, Philippines, May 19 (CNA) .- Champion boxer Manny Pacquiao has sided with the Philippines' Catholic bishops in a continuing controversy over a reproductive health bill that would fund access to free contraceptives.