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Nigeria's bishops speak out on "unhealthy values"
Deploring "the continuous attempts by foreign agencies to introduce unhealthy values in our society in their campaigns for abortion, condom distribution and promotion of homosexual unions," Nigeria's bishops also attacked internal corruption, according to a Fides report. At the conclusion of their meeting in September, the bishops stated that "the fraudulent use of public money deprives citizens of basic services such as quality education, adequate health care, decent roads, continuous supply of electricity [and] drinking water."
According to a summary of the meeting on the Nigerian episcopal conference's website, the bishops renewed their "commitment to consistently pledge our unalloyed loyalty and obedience to the Holy Father".
Catholic World News
Catholic-Jewish relations at a new high
The World Jewish Congress provided a summary of its president's September meeting with Pope Francis saying that the Holy Father reiterated that to be a good Christian, "it is necessary to understand Jewish history and traditions".
A report from the WJC recounted that Francis wished Jews around the world a sweet and peaceful year 5774, when he met with Ronald S. Lauder to mark the Jewish New Year. Francis used the Hebrew words for "Happy New Year," wishing a " Shana Tova" to Jewish people worldwide.
According to the WJC report, Lauder and the Pope discussed Syria, as well as agreeing to speak out against attacks on religious minorities, such as the Coptic Christians in Egypt.
Francis reiterated a statement made last June that "a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite" and said that "to be a good Christian it is necessary to understand Jewish history and traditions." He added that Jews and Christians shared the same roots and that dialogue was the key to building a common future.
After the meeting, Lauder praised the Pope for his commitment to dialogue and said, "Pope Francis' leadership has not only reinvigorated the Catholic Church but also given a new momentum to relations with Judaism. Never in the past 2,000 years have relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people been so good. The leadership of successive popes over the past five decades has helped to overcome a lot of prejudice. This allows us now to work together in defending religious freedom wherever it is under threat and whichever community is affected."
Zenit News Agency
New Vatican Secretary Of State praised
Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the new Vatican Secretary of State, was praised by a Venezuelan cardinal as a "messenger of peace" for his former efforts at dialogue in the South American country. "I think the Holy Father Francis has made a great appointment," said Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas.
"Archbishop Parolin is a well-prepared bishop with a great capacity to work," the cardinal noted. "He is a very intelligent man with extensive experience in the Church's international affairs, and here in Venezuela he did great work in service to the Church and to the Venezuelan people."
During his time as apostolic nuncio to Venezuela, Archbishop Parolin was a great promoter of dialogue, the cardinal said. "He took part in the meetings between the government of Venezuela and the bishops conference, which were very positive for the country and which we hope will continue."
Proving to be "a true messenger of peace in Venezuela", the archbishop played a lead role in "difficult negotiations for the Church" with Vietnam, China and Russia, Cardinal Urosa added.
Archbishop Parolin "is a man of great experience in diplomacy", he continued, and when Benedict XVI "decided to appoint him as his ambassador in Caracas in 2009, I didn't think he would be here for long, as he is a man of great prestige at the Vatican".
Archbishop Parolin continued with his duties in Venezuela until mid-October, when he transferred to the Vatican to replace the outgoing Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Catholic News Agency
Courage apostolate for the same-sex attracted
In an interview with Catholic World Report in September, Father Paul Check reflected on the work of the Courage apostolate which helps Catholics who experience same-sex attractions to live chastely.
"We have to want to live chastely, cheerfully, and joyfully," said Father Check, who has led the apostolate since 2008. "The problem of pornography and the problem of contraception are things that are widespread within the Catholic community, including Mass-going Catholics ... We cannot expect that other people are only going to do what we say they should do, such as, 'Don't marry someone of the same sex.' We can hardly expect to be a compelling voice if we are not already convinced of the veracity of all that the Church teaches us, so we have to live that virtue cheerfully and joyfully. And if we do, other people will see it and be attracted to it.
"We have to return to that kind of thinking of the early Christians, knowing full well that the current culture will be hostile. It gives us a spirit of purpose. We know it will be hard. Chesterton said, 'Christians go gaily into the dark.' Now maybe we have to change that to 'Christians go cheerfully into the dark' because of the way that word has been distorted, but Chesterton was right.
"A down-faced, angry Christian fulminating at the world is not going to be a good instrument of evangelisation. We need that trust and confidence in God that St Thérèse had and showed us so magnificently. We need that now and to try to live it, and we can! God's grace will make it possible."
Catholic World News
Singapore parish grows during Year Of Faith
Through a special website and numerous events to help offer catechesis, Risen Christ parish in central Singapore has promoted spiritual growth for its diverse parishioners throughout the Year of Faith.
"It is important for us that the faith has to be shared and we can't take it for granted," Fr John Sim, patish priest and head of the Year of Faith committee at Risen Christ, told the Catholic News Agency.
When Benedict XVI announced the Year of Faith, the parish formed a committee to "brainstorm and propose" various activities to help parishioners in rekindling their faith life, given the diverse ages and backgrounds of those who come to the parish.
Fr Sim said he has 8,000 parishioners of various nationalities, including Malaysians, Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans and Indian. In addition to English, Masses there are said in Mandarin, Tamil, and Tagalog.
"We also have 40 strong lay apostolate groups. And it's our responsibility to form them," said Fr Sim. Risen Christ's "Parish Renewal Experience" has been initiated to strengthen parishioners' faith, and will be an ongoing program, he explained.
The parish has hosted workshops, seminars, and video screenings, as well as a 10-week series of quiz gatherings on the faith, which Fr. Sim described as "encouraging, interesting and successful". The quiz topics included the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sacraments, Vatican II, and Catholic teaching on human life, mission, and evangelisation.
Observing October as Mary's month, Risen Christ provided an exhibit on Marian devotion and her role in salvation.
New papal encyclical on the way
A new encyclical being written by Pope Francis will help address how to live out a vow of poverty in the modern world, according to Cardinal Prosper Grech, an Augustinian friar. "How to define poverty is not easy today because it's not a question of radical poverty but an encyclical on poverty will help all religious orders to define how to really live poverty in our societies."
In May, an Italian bishop revealed on his diocesan website that the Pope was working on an encyclical entitled, "Blessed Are the Poor."
Cardinal Grech, co-founder of the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome, believes that an encyclical would help to "define our stance on poverty".
The definition of poverty is different depending on where one lives, he explained. "Poverty in Africa means one thing and poverty in the United States or Europe means another. It's a question of proportion."
The laity would also benefit from the document, he noted. "We live in such a secularised society. Discos and nightclubs are not the best places to get vocations from."
In March, Cardinal Grech led the mediation prayer for the conclave that elected Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope Francis. After his election, Pope Francis jokingly told Cardinal Grech, "Well, you gave us a very good talk, but just see what has come out of it!"
"Well, we aren't all infallible like yourself, you know," Cardinal Grech replied. "We do make mistakes."
Catholic News Agency
Mary's Nativity celebrated in India
Huge crowds started gathering in Bangalore late last August, as the city's novena leading up to the Nativity of Mary began with the archbishop raising a Marian flag in prayer.
"The Virgin Mary is the Mother of God and also our heavenly mother, and thus people tend to venerate her motherly affection and dress her in local culture as their mother," said Father J. Sandhayagu, administrator of St Mary's Basilica in the capital of the south-western Indian state of Karnataka.
The statue of Mary found in the basilica is daily dressed in an elaborate sari, often laced with gold thread and jewellery, offered as a fulfilment of vows. "The Nativity of Mary is an important feast for the Archdiocese of Bangalore," Fr Sandhayagu said, with millions of people, irrespective of culture and religion, flocking to participate at the city's Marian novena.
During the novena, around 30,000 people participated in the Mass, Adoration, Anointing of the Sick, Confession, and other events.
St Mary's Basilica, said Father Sandhayagu, "has been witnessing numerous miracles and healings. People receive grace, hence people of all faith, including Hindus, Muslims, and other religions, rush every day to seek blessings."
During the novena, Mass is said every half hour in the basilica from 5:30am until 9:00pm, with up to 5,000 people attending each Mass.
The government of Karnataka provides security during the novena, and ministers, bureaucrats and leaders, even those who aren't Catholic, participate in the festival and seek blessings.
The basilica is the oldest church in the Bangalore archdiocese, having been consecrated in 1882 on Mary's Nativity. It was named a minor basilica by Paul VI in 1973.
Italian cardinal warns of socal "earthquake"
The Cardinal Archbishop of Bologna, Carlo Caffarra, has said that replacing terms like mother and father with "Parent 1 and Parent 2" is not an innocuous defence of "equality" but the beginning of a complete re-write of Italian society. Changing the categories of family life and genealogy could send "a real earthquake" through the social structure.
These wordings, that have already been proposed for all official documents related to public housing and kindergarten placements in the city of Venice, would make "the category of fatherhood and motherhood disappear, to be replaced by the generic category of 'parenting,'" said Cardinal Caffarra.
Speaking in a keynote address at a conference at the Teatro Manzoni in Bologna in September, Cardinal Caffarra identified the largest question facing Italian society: "Is marriage a reality at the disposal of men, or does it have a 'hard core' that is not open to human preference?"
He said that the main focus for the work of Catholic teachers should be understanding the primacy of marriage between man and woman, which has as its foundation the "intrinsic ability to give rise to a new human person".
He called fatherhood or motherhood the "highest capacity and responsibility that men and women have," because it is "one of the points where the creative action of God enters our created universe".
He quoted the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, "Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled arbitrarily. It's fatal to risk love in a culture without truth."
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 26 No 10 (November 2013), p. 4
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