Chaldean Archbishop Taken Hostage

Right after he had completed leading the “Way of the Cross” in a parish, from Reuters:

Gunmen kidnapped the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul on Friday in the northern Iraqi city and killed his driver and two companions, police said.

“He was kidnapped in the al-Nour district in eastern Mosul when he left a church. Gunmen opened fire on the car, killed the other three and kidnapped the archbishop,” said provincial police spokesman Brigadier-General Khaled Abdul Sattar.

An assistant to Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, the Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad and spiritual leader of Iraq’s Catholics, said they had heard that three people had been killed and they did not know the fate of the archbishop, Paulos Faraj Rahho.

A number of Christian clergy have been kidnapped or killed, and churches bombed in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Concerning the Words at Baptism

Say what Jesus said, or its not valid! From the Vatican Information Service:

 VATICAN CITY, 29 FEB 2008 (VIS) – Made public today were the responses of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to two questions concerning the validity of Baptism conferred with certain non-standard formulae.   The first question is: “Is a Baptism valid if conferred with the words ‘I baptise you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier’, or ‘I baptise you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer'”?   The second question is: “Must people baptised with those formulae be baptised ‘in forma absoluta’?”   The responses are: “To the first question, negative; to the second question, affirmative”.   Benedict XVI, during his recent audience with Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved these responses, which were adopted at the ordinary session of the congregation, and ordered their publication. The text of the responses bears the signatures of Cardinal Levada and of Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the dicastery.   An attached note explains that the responses “concern the validity of Baptism conferred with two English-language formulae within the ambit of the Catholic Church. … Clearly, the question does not concern English but the formula itself, which could also be expressed in another language”.   “Baptism conferred in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, the note continues, “obeys Jesus’ command as it appears at the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew. … The baptismal formula must be an adequate expression of Trinitarian faith, approximate formulae are unacceptable.   “Variations to the baptismal formula – using non-biblical designations of the Divine Persons – as considered in this reply, arise from so-called feminist theology”, being an attempt “to avoid using the words Father and Son which are held to be chauvinistic, substituting them with other names. Such variants, however, undermine faith in the Trinity”.   “The response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith constitutes an authentic doctrinal declaration, which has wide-ranging canonical and pastoral effects. Indeed, the reply implicitly affirms that people who have been baptised, or who will in the future be baptised, with the formulae in question have, in reality, not been baptised. Hence, they must them be treated for all canonical and pastoral purposes with the same juridical criteria as people whom the Code of Canon Law places in the general category of ‘non-baptised'”.

New Bishop for Lansing

Former rector of the Josephium and current Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Earl Boyea.

Web of Prayers for Papal Visit

Join your prayers for the success of the Papal Visit to the US here.

The Chair of Saint Peter

From The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You:

I made my first ever pilgrimage to Rome two years ago this very week. Traveling with me were my wife Amy and our children. The youngest, Michael Jacob was 13 months old at the time spent most of that week traveling on the backs of either his mother or me. 

As soon as we arrived in Rome and had dropped our baggage off at the apartment that would be our home for the next nine days we hurried off to the piazza of Saint Peter’s only three blocks away.

For a few minutes we just stood there. How much of what we had studied, wrote about and experienced in our lives originated within this holy spot! Like the ancient pilgrims setting out for Jerusalem, the words of the Psalmist came to mind:

“I rejoiced with those who said to me,
 Let us go to the house of the Lord!
And now we have set foot within your gates…”
(Psalm 122:1-2 Christian Community Bible)

Indeed the colonnades of Bernini seemed to embrace us and invite us into the Basilica. But there was a problem, we were all very tired and the security line stretched around those same colonnades. After some discussion, and watching the speed at which the line moved, we decided that we hadn’t traveled all this way to sleep—a theme that would recur throughout our novena of days in Rome and no doubt were responsible for the bout of walking pneumonia that I later spent the remainder of Lent 2006 recovering from.

The line moved quickly and in no time we were in.

Entering the Basilica, we walked through the large doors and were suddenly within a sacred space whose image I have seen in pictures and television thousands of times. Amazing! Thoughts of the Second Vatican Council that took place here, which gave us the reform of the liturgy and especially the Mass flooded my mind.

I had Michael Jacob on my back and when we had walked about halfway up the nave of the Basilica, I darted into a side chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration and prayer. There were quite a few people in the chapel, representative of the Church; priests, brothers, nuns, lay people from a variety of places but only one child—the one on my back.

I knelt in the back and thanked God for safely bringing us to our destination and asked for His blessing upon our time of prayer in the Eternal City. It was then that Michael Jacob spoke, uttering one word in his baby voice but very clearly: “Christ.”

He said nothing else.

He had never said that word before, at the time his vocabulary was pretty much limited to six or seven words, the most used of which was “No” that he spoke with great emphasis. I arose, genuflected and made my way back out into the nave of the Basilica. And I wondered.

Mass was going on in Spanish at the Chair of St. Peter and the Spanish Cardinal who was presiding was preaching his homily. I gleaned that it was about Saint Peter for he kept repeating in Spanish the profession of St. Peter that led to Jesus declaring him the “rock” upon which He would build His Church, which in English is: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)

Looking above the High Altar of Saint Peter’s I saw the same profession written in Latin in huge letters and then my little son’s message seemed to hit me. This same Christ (Messiah, God’s anointed, the Savior) that St. Peter was able to recognize in Jesus is still with us in the Eucharist. Of course I knew and believed that before, but it was a blessing to hear a 13 month old declare it too!

It was Jesus who chose the twelve apostles and made Peter their leader. It was Jesus who established His Church—who also said that it would be home to both “weeds and wheat” meaning “sinners and saints.” It was Jesus who referred to this Church as His Bride—meaning all of us who are members are His alone. It was Jesus who gave us the Eucharist as His abiding presence to be adored and received.

For more on the succession of the Apostles and the Biblical Basis of the Papacy, check out:

The Apostles

The Biblical Basis for the Papacy

Red Moon

redmoon.jpg

P. Benedict on Augustine the Author

From today’s General Audience via Asia News Italy:

An author beloved to Benedict XVI, as he himself said during today’s general audience, Saint Augustine is the Father of the Church who has left behind the greatest number of works.  “Some of these are of fundamental importance not only for Christianity, but also for the formation of all Western culture”. It is to him, for example, that is owed the analysis of “what we must expect from God and what we must not, what is the relationship between the political sphere and the sphere of the faith and of the Church”, which “also serves today to define true secularism”.

The bishop of Hippo was for the fourth time the subject of the remarks that Benedict XVI addressed to those present at the general audience, who because of the heavy attendance by the faithful – the prefecture of the pontifical household distributed 15,000 tickets – had to be “divided” today between Saint Peter’s basilica and the Paul VI audience hall.

From among the extremely vast work of Augustine, the pope spoke in particular about the “Confessions”, which is “still one of the most widely read books of Christian antiquity”, the “Retractions”, and the “De Civitate Dei”.

First of all the Confessions, in 13 books, which “are a sort of autobiography, but in the form of a dialogue with God”.  This “reflects the life of Augustine substantially lived as a dialogue with God and thus lived together with others”.  Benedict XVI then highlighted how the word ‘confessiones’ in Christian Latin “has two meanings that are interwoven.  In a preliminary sense it indicates the confession of one’s weaknesses, of one’s sins, but it also means the praise of God, recognition and thanksgiving because he loves us, accepts us, and transforms us, raising us up to himself”.  These writings met with great success even while Saint Augustine was still alive, and he himself wrote “my Confessions made a great impact upon me as I was writing them, and continue to do so.  This means that they will be pleasing to my brothers”.  “This means”, the pope said, smiling, “that I am one of these ‘brothers'”.

Less well known are the “Retractions”, two books that represent a complete revision of his work, and described by Benedict XVI as “a unique and extremely valuable document”, and an expression of “intellectual sincerity and humility”.  Also important for Western political thought is the “De Civitate Dei”, which, “by clarifying what we must expect from God and what we must not, what is the relationship between the political sphere and the sphere of the faith and of the Church”, “is still today the source for defining properly what are true secularism and the competency of the Church, and the great and true hope that is given to us by faith”.  It is the history of humanity governed by divine providence, it is “his interpretation of the history of humanity as the struggle between two loves: the love of self to the point of indifference toward God, and the love of God to the point of indifference toward oneself”.  “It may be the most important of Augustine’s works”.

“For us as well”, the pope concluded, “it would have been wonderful to have been able to hear him in person, but he is certainly alive in his writings, and thus we see the permanent vitality of the faith for which he gave his whole life”.

Muslim Criticism and Support

For first Catholic Church in Qatar, from Asia News Italy:

The Catholic church of St. Mary, constructed as planned without a bell tower or cross, is close to inauguration.  In spite of the great modesty of the Catholic community, there is no lack of disagreement on the part of a Muslim intellectuals who are firmly opposing the new church, maintaining that a popular referendum is necessary.

The pages of the newspaper Al-Arab read, “the cross should not be raised in the sky of Qatar, nor should bells toll in Doha”.  In a letter to Al-Watan, the engineer Rashed al-Subaie maintains that the Christians have the right to practice their faith, but should not have permission to build places of worship.  The lawyer and former justice minister Najib al-Nuaimi expresses himself as along the same lines. Nuaimi stresses that Qatar is a Muslim country, not a secular one, and maintains that a referendum is the only way to ensure that the church is socially acceptable.

Moderate comments of support come from Abdul Hamid al-Ansari, a former head of the faculty of Islamic law (sharia) at the University of Qatar, who has published articles in various newspapers welcoming the Catholic church in Doha: “places of worship for various religions is a fundamental human right guaranteed by Islam”.

St Mary’s will ultimately become a gathering place for the community of Catholics, who number about 100,000 faithful from Southeast Asia and from the West. “It will be merely a place for collective prayer”, says St. Mary’s parish priest, Father Tomasito Veneracion. “It will not have crosses outside the building or serve as a platform for proselytising”. A simple inauguration ceremony will be provided over by Cardinal Ivan Dias and Bishop Paul Hinder on March 14.  Five other churches are planned for the same property where St Mary stands, including Anglican, Coptic, and Greek Orthodox churches.

Head of German Bishops Conference Stirs Up Controversy

On celibacy, from Deutsche Welle:

In an interview with the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, 69-year-old archbishop of Freiburg, Robert Zollitsch, who is now head of the German Catholic Church, said that celibacy and the unmarried lives of priests were a “gift,” but not essential.

 

Furthermore, he said it would be a “revolution” if the celibacy tradition within the Catholic Church were dissolved.

 

Upon this week’s publication of the interview, Regensburg’s bishop, Gerhard-Ludwig Müller, said in a prompt press release: “All of the specifics of being a priest and the corresponding rules of celibacy could not be expanded upon, as a theological context would require, in a quick interview.”

 

“The Second Vatican Council made clear in Article 16 — “Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests” — what the decisive requirements are,” Müller added. “That is and will remain the policy of the Catholic Church.”

Bill Clinton Blows up at Pro-Life Students

From Steubenville…from LifeSite:

“I gave you the answer. We disagree with you,” Clinton said. “You wanna criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree. I reduced abortion. Tell the truth, tell the truth, If you were really pro-life, if you were really pro-life, you would want to put every doctor and every mother as an accessory to murder in prison. And you won’t say you wanna do that because you know, that you wouldn’t have a lick of political support. Now, the issue is who, the issue is, you can’t name me anybody presently in politics that did more to introduce policies that reduce the number of real abortions instead of the hot air putting out to tear people up and make votes by dividing America. This is not your rally. I heard you. That’s another thing you need is a president, somebody who will stick up for individual rights and not be pushed around, and she won’t.”

Clinton’s heated response came after being questioned on his support of abortion-on-demand. The outburst is on YouTube and is also being reported by MSNBC.

“Perhaps pro-abortion politicians will finally realize that they can’t hide their views from pro-life students,” said Billy Valentine, one of the Franciscan University of Steubenville Students for Life members who helped organize the protest of over 100 students.

Many Thanks!

To the parish of Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida where I gave a parish mission last week. If I lived in South Florida, which unfortunately I don’t (its like summer there right now!), this is where I would go to Mass!

The celebration of Mass in this parish is exemplary–beautiful music that is all of one kind and truly serves the liturgy, priests who are reverent, great preachers and great pray-ers. I came away from my experience in their midst uplifted and renewed!

For those of you who live in South Florida, I suspect that Saint Patrick’s is a hidden gem–to find it get off on PGA Blvd. and then head toward the ocean. Turn left on Prosperity Farms Rd. and go about two miles and the beautiful church is there on the left.

After a week back here (where it is still very much winter), I’m off to Shiner, TX to St. Cyril and Methodius (whose Feast we celebrated on my last day at St. Patrick’s).

Pope: Carry Hope in Your Heart

On the Gospel for today, at his weekly Angelus, from Asia News Italy:

There were at least 30,000 faithful present for the Angelus in Saint Peter’s Square.  With them, the pontiff commented on the Gospel of the day, the second Sunday of Lent, which recounts the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor.  “The mountain”, Mount Tabor just as Mount Sinai, the pope explained, “is the place of closeness to God.  It is an elevated space, in comparison with daily existence, where one breathes the pure air of creation.  It is the place of prayer, where one can be in the presence of the Lord, like Moses and Elijah, who appear beside the transfigured Jesus and speak with Him of the ‘exodus’ that awaits him in Jerusalem, meaning his Passover.  The Transfiguration is an event of prayer: by praying, Jesus immerses himself in God, unites himself intimately with Him, and adheres with his own human will to the Father’s will of love”.

“The Transfiguration”, he continued, “is an anticipation of the resurrection, but this presupposes death.  Jesus manifests his glory to the apostles, so that they might have the strength to face the scandal of the cross, and understand that one needs to pass through many tribulations to reach the Kingdom of God.  The voice of the Father, which resounds from on high, proclaims Jesus as his well-beloved Son, as at the baptism in the Jordan, adding: ‘Listen to him’ (Mt 17:5). In order to enter into eternal life, one must listen to Jesus and follow Him on the way of the cross, carrying the hope of the resurrection in one’s heart as He did. ‘Spe salvi’, saved in hope.  Today we could say: ‘Transfigured in hope'”.

Pope Opens Beatification Cause of Sr Lucia

From Vatican Radio:

Pope Benedict XVI is dispensing with the five-year waiting period established by Canon Law to open the cause of beatification of Sister Lucia, one of the three Fatima visionaries.

The news was announced Wednesday evening in the cathedral of Coimbra, Portugal, by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, on the third anniversary of the Carmelite’s death.

A communiqué of the Vatican press office states: “Benedict XVI, taking into account the petition presented by Bishop Albino Mamede Cleto of Coimbra, and supported by numerous bishops and faithful from all parts of the world, has revoked the five-year waiting period established by the canonical norms (cf. Article 9 of the ‘Normae Servandae’), and he has allowed for the diocesan phase of the Carmelite’s cause of beatification to begin three years after her death.”

One of My Books Reviewed

The Church’s Most Powerful Novenas

From Book Reviews and More:

This is a small prayer book full of big-time punch. I always find it hard to review prayer books. Either you like them or you don’t, which is like most books, but unlike fiction or theology it is a much more personal reaction. That being said, this is a great book. I wish there were a hard cover edition so it could take more of a beating.

Michael Dubrueil does an amazing job in just over 350 pages of giving solid teaching on Novenas – both the history of Novenas, and how to endure in praying Novenas. He also instructs the reader in ways of encountering God, the reasons to pray Novenas and gives a personal account of some of the prayers he has used and God’s care and provision for him.

Its Getting Tougher to be a Saint

Document coming out soon, from Catholic News Agency:

The Vatican will advise bishops around the world this next week to be more rigorous in their selection of the candidates they propose for sainthood, ANSA reports.

A 20-page document to be presented in the Vatican on February 18 will ask bishops to show “greater sobriety and rigor” in accepting requests to begin inquiries into a prospective saint’s life.

%d bloggers like this: