Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 19, 2010
World News in Brief
Ex-atheist among thousands joining Church at Easter
Tens of thousands of new Catholics, including an 89-year-old former atheist, joined the Church at the Easter Vigil, April 3.
Jean Henry of Easton, Md., was raised a Methodist and "drifted" into the Episcopal Church, but rejected Christianity more than four decades ago after a major spat in the women's guild.
"I thought I had a good, strong faith, but it was too shallow," Henry said in an interview. Henry said she "started out agnostic and went on to become an atheist because I never do things by halves. If I was going to doubt, I was going to doubt all the way."
But she found that "this life is hell if you're an atheist," she said. "I had gotten to the point where life didn't seem worth living. I'm not suicidal, so I'm not saying that, but why be here if you're an atheist?"
She reached that point shortly before she turned 89 last year. But she also found hope and new life through what she considers "an intervention by God."
"It was as if all of this atheism was gathered up on both shoulders as if it were a loose garment, and it simply fell onto the floor," recalled Henry. "I sort of figuratively stepped out of it. Since that garment of atheism fell off of me, I have never thought of it, questioned it, had one argument in my head about it."
Henry said she believes "the true story is the strength and persistence of God's faith. I was in his arms all the time, but I was too stupid, too stubborn, too focused to realize that he was always there, every minute."
New L.A. archbishop one of 24 Opus Dei prelates
The new coadjutor archbishop of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose Gomez, is the only U.S. bishop who was ordained for or incardinated in the Prelature of Opus Dei. With a Catholic population of 4.6 million, the Los Angeles Archdiocese is one of the largest dioceses in the world. Gomez, 58, is one of 24 Opus Dei bishops around the world, although like any priest, once a member becomes a bishop, he answers directly to the pope and no longer to his bishop or religious superior. Gomez, archbishop of San Antonio since 2005, will become archbishop of Los Angeles when Cardinal Roger Mahony turns 75 and retires next February. The cardinal said he had urged the selection of a Hispanic as the next archbishop of Los Angeles; Hispanics make up 41 per cent of the population of the three counties that comprise the archdiocese.
Catholic men need direction in life - speaker
Speaker Tim Gray told a Colorado Springs audience that men face two key problems today: a lack of goals or clarity in their roles in family life, and passivity that comes without a mission in life.
"Without a plot, the story of their home lives can be a bit muddled, and if you aim for nothing, you usually hit it every time," said Tim Gray. "Men need to know what to aim at. If men are to lead their families, they need to know where they are leading them to, and that is the first - but all-important - step."
"Men without a mission can fall into the cultural trap of being spectators in life instead of active agents," said Gray, president of the Augustine Institute in Denver.
In his remarks Gray discussed a question in Summa Theologica in which St. Thomas Aquinas described men as becoming emasculated "by being overly accustomed to comfort, leisure, pleasure and play. Whining and complaining are signs of such softness that undermines manliness." Gray said, "We are not created by God to be spectators in life but rather to live life to the full."
Hitler may have wanted to steal Turin Shroud
The Shroud of Turin was hidden in an Italian Benedictine abbey during World War II in part because Church authorities feared Adolf Hitler might want to steal it, according to an official at the monastery. The shroud, which many believe to have been the burial cloth of Christ, was transferred secretly from the Turin cathedral in 1939 to an abbey in southern Italy, and returned to Turin after the war had ended. Officially, the reason later given for the transfer was fear that the cloth could have been damaged if the city of Turin were bombed. But Benedictine Father Andrea Cardin, director of the abbey library that holds the relevant documents, said Church officials also seemed to fear that the Nazis wanted to take possession of the Shroud. Already in 1938, Church leaders were alarmed when, during a visit by Hitler to Italy, Nazi officials asked unusual and persistent questions about the shroud and its custody, Cardin said in an interview.
Slovak church opposes U.S.-owned mega-casino
Slovakia's Catholic Church said it expects plans for Europe's largest mega-casino complex to be called off after campaigning by Catholic groups. "We're afraid of the moral harm this project will inflict on many people," explained Father Jozef Kovacik, spokesman for the Bratislava-based Slovakian bishops' conference. "We've presented overwhelming arguments against it and the media have received these positively. Most Slovaks are now firmly opposed to the mega-casino," he said. The priest was speaking as a final decision neared on plans by the Nevada-based Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. for a 74-acre Las Vegas-style complex at Petrzalka, near the Austrian border.
Priests need prayers, not blame - archbishop
With a reminder that "the wrong actions of some do not justify the vilification of all," Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington urged prayers both for victims of child sexual abuse and for faithful priests tainted by the actions of a few. "Priests who harmed children violated the heart of their ministry and have harmed not only our young people and our community of faith, but also the vast majority of their brother priests who faithfully live out their promises to serve Christ and his people," the archbishop said in an op-ed piece published April 4 in The Washington Post.
St. Gianna Molla's husband dies at 97
Pietro Molla, the widower of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, died at his home in Mesero, Italy, April 3 at the age of 97. In September 2005, on what would have been their 50th wedding anniversary, the saint's husband wrote, "I've often thought and said that not even eternity would give me enough time to thank the Lord for the very unique gift he gave me" in "seeing my beloved Gianna elevated to the highest honours of the altar."
In late 1961, pregnant with the couple's fourth child, Gianna was diagnosed with a uterine tumour. The couple refused treatment that could have harmed the unborn child. Gianna Emanuela was born in April 1962 and her mother died one week later of an infection. Pope John Paul II beatified Gianna in 1994 and proclaimed her a saint in 2004.
Pope Benedict's Masses are imitated around world
Even before he became pope five years ago, Pope Benedict frequently was dragged into what some people have called "the liturgy wars." His pontificate has been marked by increasingly solemn Masses with more silence, more kneeling, more Latin and the use of both old and new vestments and liturgical furnishings. While he has not changed the rules for celebrating Mass around the world, papal liturgies are seen by many people as a standard to imitate. The one liturgical change Pope Benedict mandated for the Church at large was the greater availability of the Latin Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal. However, Pope Benedict still has not publicly celebrated a Mass using the extraordinary form.
Brazil bishops to distribute 1M Bibles to poor
The bishops of Brazil launched a campaign to distribute one million Bibles to the country's poorest Catholic families. The effort calls for individual families to receive a kit containing a Bible, a Children's Bible, a copy of the catechism book I Believe and a booklet to guide the reader through the Bible. Sonia Minder, campaign coordinator, said the distribution would focus first in the Amazon and the northeast regions of the country, where the concentration of poor people is highest. "Our target is to hand out the kits to those who are unable to afford to buy the book," she said. "We are also focusing on those people and families who have strayed from our religion."
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