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Bishops issue guide for youth with same-sex attraction

Pastors, educators and parents must be attentive to young people experiencing a crisis due to homosexual feelings. The Canadian bishops makes this recommendation in Pastoral Ministry to Young People with Same-Sex Attraction, authored by the Episcopal Commission for Doctrine.

The bishops begin by stating that “only what is true can ultimately be pastoral.” As such, they outline an approach grounded in the teachings of the Church.

Echoing the Catechism, the document stresses that people with homosexual inclinations “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.” They add that “every sign of unjust discrimination” towards people with same-sex attraction should be avoided. Those involved in their pastoral care must be careful not to perpetuate injustice or hatred, which the bishops acknowledge is “unfortunately still too common among us”.

The document articulates the Catholic philosophy of marriage and sexual complementarity, which explains the Church’s opposition to homosexual acts (though she “never condemns” persons with same-sex attraction). For those who cannot marry due to a predominant same-sex attraction, the bishops concede that the call to chastity “involves suffering and difficulty”. Yet they insist that this is not a call to a “loveless life”, but rather to a life of “generous love and true fulfillment”, following the example of Christ.

“More than ever,” the bishops insist, “the beauty of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality, which leads to authentic freedom, needs to be lived and convincingly preached by everyone.” The full document can be read on the CCCB website.

CNS: Vatican conference on AIDS stresses responsible sexuality

The Vatican returned to the contentious issue of HIV/AIDS prevention at a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers. One hundred invited experts ranged from theologians to doctors. Speakers included Michel Sidibe, the executive director of UNAIDS, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s Secretary of State.

Another participant was Edward C. Green, an American AIDS expert who generated a lot of attention when he defended Pope Benedict’s comments on condoms in 2009. In an interview with Catholic News Service, Green explains why promoting abstinence and monogamy is more effective at preventing the spread of the disease than widespread condom distribution.

Pope: Catholics have ‘duty’ to pray for China today

While Pope Benedict frequently invites Catholics to pray for particular causes, he has made a unique, official appeal for the Church in China. Speaking at the General Audience last Wednesday, he said that “all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China: those members of the faithful have a right to our prayers, they need our prayers.”

In 2007, the Pope inaugurated the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. Celebrated today, May 24th, it coincides with the memorial to Our Lady, Help of Christians. Pilgrims travel from throughout China to venerate her in Shanghai at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan.

Developments in China add urgency to the prayer request. AsiaNews reports that the Chinese government has restricted access to the shrine and that underground priests have been taken away by security forces.

PRAYER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO OUR LADY OF SHESHAN
ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CHURCH IN CHINA

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother,
venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title “Help of Christians”,
the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection.
We come before you today to implore your protection.
Look upon the People of God and, with a mother’s care, guide them
along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be
a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said “yes” in the house of Nazareth,
you allowed God’s eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb
and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption.
You willingly and generously cooperated in that work,
allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul,
until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary,
standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross.
Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed
with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter.
Grant that your children may discern at all times,
even those that are darkest, the signs of God’s loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China,
who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love.
May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world,
and of the world to Jesus.
In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high,
offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love.
Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love,
ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built.
Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and for ever. Amen!

Rite of Beatification: What are they saying?

The following is an unofficial English translation of the Rite of Beatification of John Paul II, pronounced moments ago in St. Peter’s Square.

RITE OF BEATIFICATION

1. CARDINAL AGOSTINO VALLINI, VICAR GENERAL OF ROME:

Beatissimo Padre, il Vicario Generale di Vostra Santità per la Diocesi di Roma domanda umilmente alla Santità Vostra di voler iscrivere nel numero dei Beati il Venerabile Servo di Dio Giovanni Paolo II, papa.

Holy Father, the Vicar General of your Holiness for the Diocese of Rome, humbly requests that the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, Pope, be numbered among the blessed.

2.POPE BENEDICT XVI:

Noi, accogliendo il desiderio del Nostro Fratello Agostino Cardinale Vallini, Nostro Vicario Generale per la Diocesi di Roma, di molti altri Fratelli nell’Episcopato e di molti fedeli, dopo aver avuto il parere della Congregazione delle Cause dei Santi, con la Nostra Autorità Apostolica concediamo che il Venerabile Servo di Dio Giovanni Paolo II, papa, d’ora in poi sia chiamato Beato e che si possa celebrare la sua festa nei luoghi e secondo le regole stabilite dal diritto, ogni anno il 22 ottobre. Nel nome del Padre e del Figlio e dello Spirito Santo.

We, welcoming the desire of our brother Cardinal Augostino Vallini, our Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome, our brother Bishops and many lay faithful, after hearing the opinion of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, by our apostolic authority we declare that the venerable Servant of God John Paul II, Pope, henceforth shall be called Blessed and that his feast shall be celebrated every year of the 22 of October, in the places and according to the norms established by Church law. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

3. CARDINAL VALLINI:

Beatissimo Padre, il Vicario Generale di Vostra Santità per la Diocesi di Roma ringrazia la Santità Vostra per aver oggi proclamato Beato il Venerabile Servo di Dio Giovanni Paolo II, papa.

Holy Father, the Vicar General of your Holiness for the the Diocese of Rome thanks your Holiness for proclaiming today the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, Pope, as blessed.

-

CNS file photo by Arturo Mari

Pope connects creation and salvation at Easter Vigil

In an Easter Vigil liturgy that included six readings, Pope Benedict chose to focus on the first one. In explaining the selection of the reading from the first chapter of Genesis, the Pope asks, “Is it really important to speak also of creation during the Easter Vigil? Could we not begin with the events in which God calls man, forms a people for himself and creates his history with men upon the earth?”

The Holy Father’s answer is no. He reasons that if we ignore God’s role as creator, as recited at the beginning of the Credo, then “the whole history of salvation becomes too limited and too small.”

He further draws a link to the Church’s concern for the created order. “The Church is not some kind of association that concerns itself with man’s religious needs but is limited to that objective,” he says. “Therefore we relate to God as Creator, and so we have a responsibility for creation.”

The Pope also connects Genesis with St. John’s testimony that “In the beginning was the Word”—Logos, also meaning reason. This understanding of creation, he says, underpins our whole worldview.

“Here we are faced with the ultimate alternative that is at stake in the dispute between faith and unbelief,” the Pope asserts. “Are irrationality, lack of freedom and pure chance the origin of everything, or are reason, freedom and love at the origin of being?  Does the primacy belong to unreason or to reason?  This is what everything hinges upon in the final analysis.”

Published below is the full text of Pope Benedict’s homily, preached today in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The liturgical celebration of the Easter Vigil makes use of two eloquent signs.  First there is the fire that becomes light.  As the procession makes its way through the church, shrouded in the darkness of the night, the light of the Paschal Candle becomes a wave of lights, and it speaks to us of Christ as the true morning star that never sets – the Risen Lord in whom light has conquered darkness.  The second sign is water.  On the one hand, it recalls the waters of the Red Sea, decline and death, the mystery of the Cross.  But now it is presented to us as spring water, a life-giving element amid the dryness.  Thus it becomes the image of the sacrament of baptism, through which we become sharers in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Yet these great signs of creation, light and water, are not the only constituent elements of the liturgy of the Easter Vigil.  Another essential feature is the ample encounter with the words of sacred Scripture that it provides.  Before the liturgical reform there were twelve Old Testament readings and two from the New Testament.  The New Testament readings have been retained.  The number of Old Testament readings has been fixed at seven, but depending upon the local situation, they may be reduced to three.  The Church wishes to offer us a panoramic view of whole trajectory of salvation history, starting with creation, passing through the election and the liberation of Israel to the testimony of the prophets by which this entire history is directed ever more clearly towards Jesus Christ.  In the liturgical tradition all these readings were called prophecies.  Even when they are not directly foretelling future events, they have a prophetic character, they show us the inner foundation and orientation of history.  They cause creation and history to become transparent to what is essential.  In this way they take us by the hand and lead us towards Christ, they show us the true Light.

[Read more…]

Pope on Palm Sunday: ‘This is the ascent that matters’

To mark the beginning of Holy Week, Benedict XVI preached on the Lord’s ascent to Jerusalem, which was commemorated liturgically with the blessing of palm branches and the procession with them before Mass.

In his homily, the Holy Father said that man seeks to follow Jesus “along the high road that leads to the living God”, but to attempt to do so by one’s own strength actually “drags us down and estranges us from God”. As such, man is caught between two “gravitational forces”: evil and God’s love.

“All the inventions of the human spirit,” the Pope explained, “are ultimately an effort to gain wings so as to rise to the heights of Being and to become independent, completely free, as God is free.”

He noted that mankind can now fly, quite literally, and can communicate across the globe. Yet with these achievements come “possibilities for evil” that reveal our limitations. For example, he said “we need but think of the disasters which have caused so much suffering for humanity in recent months,” possibly alluding to the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan.

S+L’s extensive coverage of Holy Week celebrations in the Vatican continues with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday (consult our programming times here). For a Canadian perspective, this evening we show you how Holy Week is lived in a Benedictine monastery in British Columbia, as we present the S+L premiere of our feature-length documentary This Side of Eden.

Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Palm Sunday, 17 April 2011
Saint Peter’s Square

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dear young people!

It is a moving experience each year on Palm Sunday as we go up the mountain with Jesus, towards the Temple, accompanying him on his ascent.  On this day, throughout the world and across the centuries, young people and people of every age acclaim him, crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

But what are we really doing when we join this procession as part of the throng which went up with Jesus to Jerusalem and hailed him as King of Israel?  Is this anything more than a ritual, a quaint custom?  Does it have anything to do with the reality of our life and our world?  To answer this, we must first be clear about what Jesus himself wished to do and actually did.  After Peter’s confession of faith in Caesarea Philippi, in the northernmost part of the Holy Land, Jesus set out as a pilgrim towards Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.  He was journeying towards the Temple in the Holy City, towards that place which for Israel ensured in a particular way God’s closeness to his people.  He was making his way towards the common feast of Passover, the memorial of Israel’s liberation from Egypt and the sign of its hope of definitive liberation.  He knew that what awaited him was a new Passover and that he himself would take the place of the sacrificial lambs by offering himself on the cross.  He knew that in the mysterious gifts of bread and wine he would give himself for ever to his own, and that he would open to them the door to a new path of liberation, to fellowship with the living God.  He was making his way to the heights of the Cross, to the moment of self-giving love.  The ultimate goal of his pilgrimage was the heights of God himself; to those heights he wanted to lift every human being.

[Read more…]

Be Holy As I Am Holy – S+L Lenten Mission starts tonight

Do you want to be holy? As Catholics, our first impulse is (or should be) to say, “Of course!”

But if we’re honest, we can probably recognize some hesitancy in our response. We fear that radically pursuing holiness will be stifling or exhausting. Would my friends still be able to relate to me? Are these ideals compatible with my competitive workplace? How can I contemplate holiness, when forcing myself to stop and pray for fifteen minutes is such a struggle?

We need not flee from God’s invitation to “be holy as I am holy” (Lev 11:44, 1 Pet 1:16). In fact, a good place to start could be turning on the television. Really! This week, S+L is airing a three-part Lenten mission on the theme of holiness. Filmed at St. Peter’s Cathedral Basilica in London, Ontario, the series begins with a Liturgy of the Word. Bishop Ronald Fabbro, CSB presides, while Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB is the guest homilist.

With eleven days remaining until Easter, this could be what you need to restore your focus on repentance and renewal.

Broadcast times: 9:00pm & 1:00am ET / 6:00pm & 10:00pm PT

Wednesday, April 13: Part 1 – Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy (Liturgy of the Word)
Thursday, April 14: Part 2 – Examples of Holiness in Everyday Life (Evening Prayer)
Friday, April 15: Part 3 – The Holiness of Christians flows from that of the Church (Holy Mass)

Bishops emphasize five priorities for voters

It’s becoming a common affliction across Canada: election fatigue. But as the country gets ready for its fourth federal election in seven years, the Church is reminding us just what is at stake. Hours after the government fell last week, the Canadian bishops released their 2011 Federal Election Guide. They want the faithful to evaluate candidates and party platforms in light of five priority areas.

This first is “respect for life and human dignity: from conception to natural death”. Secondly, they want the government to “build a more just society”, which includes both poverty reduction and ending excessive spending. The third priority is “the person and the family”. This involves fair wages and just immigration laws, among other concerns. The final two priorities are international “leadership for justice and peace”, and sustaining a “healthy environment”.

The bishops acknowledge that choosing a candidate “may prove very difficult”. While there are many important issues, the bishops note that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law in which the fundamental content of faith and morals is replaced by the introduction of proposals differing from this content or opposing it.”

2011 Federal Election Guide
MAKING OUR VOICES HEARD

Voting: a right and responsibility

Canadian Catholics are being called upon as citizens to exercise their right to vote. The Church encourages and reasserts its belief in “the political freedom and responsibility of citizens.” By exercising their right to vote, citizens fulfill their duty of choosing a government and at the same time send a clear signal to the candidates being presented by the political parties.

Political candidates are citizens too. In addition, they assume responsibility for the well being of the public. Their commitment and dedication are a generous contribution to society’s common good. Indeed, the purpose of the political community is the common good. What is the common good? It is “the sum of those conditions of … social life whereby people, families and associations more adequately and readily may attain their own perfection.”

Read more…

Ukrainian Catholic leader enthroned in Kiev

Ukrainian Catholics have a surprising new leader. In February, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, retired for health reasons. Its bishops convened a synod last week and, after a four-day ‘conclave’, elected Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk as their new leader. He becomes the Major-Archbishop of Kyiv-Halych, the archiepiscopal see where the Ukrainian Greek Catholic leadership resides.

Closely following Pope Benedict’s confirmation on Friday, Archbishop Shevchuk was enthroned in Kiev on Sunday. At 41, he is the world’s third youngest bishop, yet he now leads one of the largest churches in the world — among rites in communion with the Pope, second only to the Latin-rite Catholic Church.

Pope feels ‘trepidation and fear’ for Libya

Pope Benedict released a flock of doves — a symbol of peace — as he consecrated the Roman parish of St. Corbinian this weekend. Likewise, he revealed that his prayers have been focused on a resolution to the escalating war in Libya.

American and British forces launched airstrikes against Libya this weekend. The coalition mission, which has Canadian support, is enforcing a UN-mandated no-fly zone. The UN Security Council approved the use of force to prevent further government attacks on protesters and rebel forces.

Before praying the Angelus on Sunday, the Holy Father said that the news from Libya has “stirred fear and trepidation” in him, adding that he’s following developments “with great apprehension”. He issued a “pressing call” to political and military leaders to protect citizens and guarantee access to humanitarian aid.

The Pope also disclosed that he prayed for Libya “especially” during his Lenten retreat. The week-long retreat for the Roman curia, preached by Fr. François-Marie Léthel, a Discalced Carmelite, concluded on Saturday.

The pontiff’s comments illustrate that, even when he takes a personal retreat, the weight of world events impels him to intercession. As we participate in our own Lenten discipline of interior renewal, we can imitate the Pope’s example by being mindful of those who suffer. This week, let us join his plea to the Father: “I ask God that peace and concord dawn for Libya and the whole region of North Africa as soon as possible.”