Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
September 20, 2010
World News in Brief
Pope challenges bishops to evangelize Brazil
The rapid spread of evangelical groups in Brazil reflects people's hunger for God and the need for the Catholic Church to launch a new evangelization, Pope Benedict said.
The Church must spare no effort in reaching out to Catholics who no longer participate in Church life and in bringing the Gospel message to people unfamiliar with it, the pope said Sept. 10 as he met with bishops from northeastern Brazil.
Its goal must be to lead people "to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who is alive and active in his Church," he said.
The bishops told the pope they were worried about the growing sense of religious indifference among Brazilians.
But at the same time, they said, Brazil is also seeing a boom in religious sects, especially evangelical and Pentecostal movements. Those movements preach so-called "prosperity theology," a belief that God will bless believers with wealth and good health.
Pope Benedict said Catholics who are easily influenced to leave the Church to join these groups had not been sufficiently catechized in the first place.
Catholics who don't receive adequate pastoral attention after Baptism "are easily influenced because they possess a faith that is fragile and often based on naive piety," he said.
Beatification could help students know Newman
College campus ministry leaders hope the Sept. 19 beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman will make the British scholar, philosopher and writer more familiar to today's college students. Newman, who died in 1890, always held universities close to his heart. He spent much of his life at Oxford University as both a student and a fellow. As an Anglican priest, he was the vicar at a university church and after his conversion to Catholicism, he founded a Catholic university in Dublin. Many of his ideas on higher education are in his book The Idea of a University, based on lectures he gave in the 1850s. Newman is often associated with campus ministry because of his emphasis on students integrating their faith and intellect. He also advocated that Catholic students who attend public universities be given a place to gather to support and encourage one another in their faith. Today, Newman centres are located on the campuses of many public universities.
Wuerl: Embrace the new evangelization
Pope Benedict's call for a new evangelization offers a special opportunity for all Catholics, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington said in a new pastoral letter titled Disciples of the Lord: Sharing the Vision. The archbishop wrote in the pastoral, released Sept. 9: "What we call the new evangelization is all about retelling the story, this time awakening a sense of meeting Jesus." He encouraged clergy, religious and laypeople in the archdiocese to renew their own love for Christ and then to share their faith with others who may have drifted away from the faith or who have never heard the Gospel message. Catholics can help transform the world by reaching out to others with Christ's message of hope and love, the pastoral noted. "We can help people we know, neighbours, co-workers, even, in some cases, family members, hear all over again, this time for the first time, the good news," Wuerl wrote.
Filipino policeman-priest crosses a great divide
Father Noel Ponsaran is a Catholic priest and a police superintendent, but he says the two roles are not as incompatible as they might seem. "When I entered the service, I learned that police are not only law enforcers but also peacemakers," said the priest-police officer in Manila, the Philippines. It's his work as a peacemaker for which he was named one of 10 honorees to receive an Outstanding Policemen in Service Award for 2010 for his work as a member of the Philippine National Police. Assigned to the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines, Ponsaran has been allowed to become involved in resolving potentially violent conflicts during pastoral visits to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and other communities in the southern Philippines. He usually is accompanied by an imam during his visits. When he received his award, he was cited especially for his work to end a land dispute between Muslims and Christians in the indigenous Teduray tribe in 2006.
Academics and faith should go together
As the new school year gets under way, Catholic educators may wonder if academics or faith should get more emphasis in the classroom. Karen Ristau, president of the National Catholic Educational Association, believes the two should go hand in hand. "My big question is how can we talk about Catholic identity and excellent academics in the same sentence, the same paragraph," she said in an Aug. 30 address to nearly 500 educators at the back-to-school kickoff in Grand Rapids, Mich. Ristau urged the group of staff members and pastors from Catholic schools to remember that their schools promote "a Catholic way of life" and should "cultivate a sense of awe and gratitude, a desire for truth, an ability to continue learning about the world and the knowledge that we are especially loved by God."
N. Dakota priests asked to pray at abortion clinic
Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, N.D., has asked all priests of his diocese to spend at least one hour in prayer before the state's only abortion facility and to join him in a procession to the facility Sept. 26. "I know what a busy time this is for you in the parishes, yet I ask that you schedule one more very important thing on your calendar: your hour of prayer outside the abortion facility," Aquila wrote in an Aug. 27 letter to priests about the 40 Days for Life North Dakota campaign. The campaign is scheduled to run from Sept. 22 to Oct. 31, with people praying in shifts of one hour or more on the sidewalk outside the Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo. Rachelle Sauvageau, director of the diocese's Respect Life Office, said that at least 30 unborn babies have been reportedly saved from abortion in North Dakota during the 40 Days for Life campaigns in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Rights need universal foundations, pope says
Universal rights grounded upon a rational, objective foundation are needed if countries are to successfully combat the problems of violence, religious intolerance and violations against human dignity, Pope Benedict told a group of European legislators. "How could a fruitful dialogue among cultures take place without common values, rights and stable universal principles understood in the same way" by all member states of the Council of Europe? he asked. The only way international bodies such as the Council of Europe can be effective in a multicultural world is by emphasizing the universal validity, inviolability, inalienability and indivisibility of human rights, he said.
Bishops' lives must proclaim the Gospel - pope
Pope Benedict has told almost 200 recently ordained bishops that the administrative tasks they are called to perform are meaningless unless they are men of prayer whose lives proclaim the Gospel. The pope met Sept. 11 and 13 with bishops appointed in the last year, including three from Canada. "The mission of the bishop cannot be understood with the mentality of efficiency and efficacy for which attention primarily is placed on what needs to be done," he said. "The true dignity of the bishop," the pope said, is found in imitating Christ who gave his life for the salvation of all. Pope Benedict told the bishops that they can count on the grace of the Holy Spirit to give them strength in their new ministry, "but in order to imitate Christ, you must dedicate adequate time to being with him and contemplating him in the prayerful intimacy of a heart-to-heart meeting."
Mozart's music reflects hope in face of death, pope says
Strongly rooted in his faith, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart used his sacred compositions to celebrate God's love and hope even in the face of suffering and death, Pope Benedict said. Specifically, Mozart's Requiem is "an exalted expression of faith that fully recognizes the tragic nature of human existence." Yet it is also aware that human life is "illuminated by God's love," he said. The pope made his comments at the end of a special concert performed in his honour at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo Sept. 7. Pope Benedict said he has always had a deep fondness for Mozart. He said every time he listens to his music, he is transported back in time to his local parish when he was a boy, listening to Mozart's Great Mass on holy days.
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