“BE LIKE GOOD SAMARITAN, HELP THOSE IN NEED”
In a message for the 2013 World Day of the Sick, thanking those who care for the sick and elderly, the Pope underlined the Church’s fundamental role in “lovingly and generously accepting every human being, especially those who are weak and sick.”
The World Day of the Sick is celebrated annually on February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The Year of Faith is an occasion for the Church to intensify its charitable services “so that each one of us can be a good Samaritan for others, for those close to us,” Benedict XVI said.
“CHRISTMAS IS TIME FOR AWE, GIVING ONESELF TO OTHERS”
“The original Christmas gift,” Pope Benedict said, was the gift of God becoming flesh in Jesus Christ and giving his life for the salvation of the world.
“It is important to recover our awe in the face of this mystery and to allow ourselves to be enveloped by the greatness” of the Incarnation, the Pope said during his weekly general audience, continuing a series of audience talks on the meaning of Christmas.
Reflecting on the Incarnation, the pontiff said the Gospel phrase “the Word became flesh” is repeated so often, and Christmastime brings so many extra obligations and events, that sometimes Christians lose sight of the fact that Christmas celebrates “something absolutely unthinkable, something only God could do and something we can accept only with faith.”
“JUSTICE, KINDNESS, HUMILITY MUST MARK ECUMENICAL JOURNEY”
Like the individual path to holiness, the ecumenical path to Christian unity requires justice, kindness and humility, Benedict XVI told members of a pilgrimage from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
Progress in the ecumenical journey, he said, “demands that we become ever more united in prayer, ever more committed to the pursuit of holiness and ever more engaged in the areas of theological research and cooperation in the service of a just and fraternal society.”
“‘NO’ TO GENDER PHILOSOPHY, ‘YES’ TO SUPPORTING HUMAN DIGNITY”
The Church must promote the beauty of marriage between a man and a woman and warn against ideologies opposed to human nature, including philosophies of gender that portray male and female as cultural inventions, Benedict XVI said during an audience with workers and leaders of Catholic charities and members of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican office in charge of coordinating and promoting charitable giving.
The Council was meeting January 17-19 for its plenary assembly, focusing on the theme of “Charity, Christian Anthropology and New Global Ethics.”
Pope Benedict said all Christians, especially those who work for charitable organizations, “must let themselves be guided by principles of faith through which we take on God’s ‘point of view’ and his plan for us.”
“BELIEF IN GOD LEADS TO VALUES THAT CAN BE COUNTERCULTURAL”
“To believe in God makes us bearers of values that often do not coincide” with those of popular culture and which give believers criteria for judgment that nonbelievers may not share, the Pope said at his weekly general audience.
“A Christian must not be afraid to go against the current in order to live his faith, resisting the temptation of conformity,” he said.
Beginning a series of Year of Faith audience talks about the Creed, Pope Benedict said that “believing in God implies adhering to him, accepting his word and joyfully obeying” his commandments.
Pope Benedict ended his audience with prayers for the people of Jakarta, Indonesia, which was “devastated” by flooding in mid-January, leading to at least 20 deaths and displacing more than 45,000 people.
The pontiff’s audience took place during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an event the Pope commented on in his greetings to several groups.
“SOCIAL NETWORKS NEED MORE LOGIC, LOVE AND LESS RANTING, RAGE”
Given that the online world exposes people to a wider range of opinions and beliefs, people need to accept the existence of these other cultures, “be enriched by it” and offer others what “they possess that is good, true and beautiful,” the Pope said.
Christians are called to bring truth and values to the whole world — online and off — remembering that it’s ultimately the power of God’s word that touches hearts, not sheer human effort, he said in his message for World Communications Day.
The theme of the 2013 celebration — marked in most dioceses the Sunday before Pentecost, this year May 12 — is “Social Networks: Portals of Truth and Faith; New Spaces for Evangelization.” The papal message was released on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, January 24.
Benedict XVI also reminded people to use online networks to invite others into a faith community, religious celebrations and pilgrimages: “elements which are always important in the journey of faith.”
Pope reassigns responsibility for seminaries, religious instruction
In an administrative move reaffirming his efforts to promote a Catholic revival in the West and greater adherence to traditional Church teaching, Benedict XVI has reassigned responsibility among Vatican offices for the religious education of laypeople and future priests.
According to two papal decrees, responsibility for seminaries has shifted from the Congregation for Catholic Education to the Congregation for Clergy, and responsibility for catechesis has moved from the latter office to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
Under the new set-up, Pope Benedict wrote, the Congregation for Clergy is now in charge of the “promotion and governance of all that pertains to the formation, life and ministry of priests and deacons.”
The Congregation for Catholic Education, having ceded responsibility for seminaries, will continue to supervise Catholic schools and universities around the world.
However, authority over religious instruction of lay Catholics, including catechisms published by national bishops’ conferences and textbooks for religious education used in Catholic schools, now lies with the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.
“CHRISTIAN COOPERATION KEY TO PROCLAIMING THE GOSPEL”
“Unity is in itself a privileged means — almost a requirement — for proclaiming the faith in an increasingly credible way to those who do not yet know the Savior or who, having received the proclamation of the Gospel, have almost forgotten this precious gift,” Pope Benedict told Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant leaders.
Presiding over an evening prayer service at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the pontiff said that, even as divided Christians continue their theological dialogues in the search for full unity, “It is necessary to pursue concrete collaboration among the disciples of Christ on behalf of the cause of transmitting the faith to the modern world.”
The theme – “What does God require of us?” — and reflections for the 2013 week of prayer were developed by Christians in India, working with the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The material highlighted the believers’ biblical obligation “to do justice, love goodness and walk humbly with God.”
Pope Benedict offered special greetings during the prayer service to members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, which include the Armenian Apostolic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Malankara Orthodox Syrian and Eritrean Orthodox Churches.
POPE MARKS HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY, CALLS FOR END TO HATRED
Praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI called attention to the international day for remembering the victims of the Nazis.
“The memory of this immense tragedy, which so harshly struck the Jewish people most of all, must represent for everyone a constant warning so that the horrors of the past are not repeated, all forms of hatred and racism are overcome and respect for the dignity of the human person is promoted,” the Pope said.
Pope Benedict later invoked the intercession of Sts. Damien de Veuster and Marianne Cope of Molokai, Hawaii, as he also marked World Leprosy Day.
For the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Benedict was joined by a boy and a girl representing some 3,000 members of the children’s section of Catholic Action Rome. An annual meeting with the Pope marks the end of the youngsters’ “Caravan of Peace,” a project that raises awareness and money to help other children living in situations of tension and conflict.
The Holy Father and the children released two doves from the window of the Pope’s apartment overlooking St. Peter’s Square. Unusually this year, neither of the birds flew back into the papal apartment, prompting the Pope to say, “That was successful.”
“FAITH IS GENUINE ONLY IF COUPLED WITH CHARITY FOR OTHERS”
“Faith is knowing the truth and adhering to it; charity is ‘walking’ in the truth,” Benedict XVI said in his annual message for Lent, which in 2013 begins Feb. 13 for Latin-rite Catholics.
The theme of the Pope’s message, “Believing in charity calls forth charity,” was taken from the First Letter of St. John (4:16): “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.”
In the context of the Year of Faith, the Pope dedicated his message to the relationship between faith and charity, which he also explored in his 2005 encyclical on charity (Deus Caritas Est).
“IGNORE ‘PROPHETS OF DOOM’ PREDICTING END OF RELIGIOUS LIFE”
“Do not join the prophets of doom who proclaim the end or the lack of meaning of consecrated life in today’s Church; rather clothe yourselves with Jesus Christ and put on the armor of light… remaining awake and vigilant,” Pope Benedict told consecrated virgins and men and women who belong to religious orders.
Benedict XVI celebrated Mass with the religious, marking the feast of the Presentation of the Lord and the World Day for Consecrated Life.
In a darkened St. Peter’s Basilica, 50 superiors of men’s and women’s orders carried lighted candles and processed into the church before Pope Benedict, who rode in on a mobile platform, carrying his own candle.
POPE CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF LIFE, GREATER INVESTMENT IN FAMILIES
As the Italian Catholic Church marked a Day for Life, the Pope used his Sunday Angelus address to echo the Italian bishops’ call “to invest in life and the family, also as an effective response” to the current economic crisis.
He greeted the Berlin-based Movement for Life and praised the European-wide initiative, “One of Us,” “so that Europe may always be a place where every human being is protected in his dignity.”
The “One of Us” movement is collecting signatures in EU countries to push the European Commission to propose legal protections of human life from conception to its natural end.
Benedict XVI also greeted the faculty of the University of Rome’s college of medicine, encouraging them, especially professors of obstetrics and gynecology, “to educate health workers in the culture of life.”
LOUIS SAKO ELECTED AS NEW PATRIARCH
Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad, new head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, celebrated the Qurbana — the Chaldean Eucharistic liturgy — in St. Peter’s Basilica February 4 and then made a formal profession of faith in front of St. Peter’s tomb.
Just before the liturgy, he and the 14 other Chaldean Catholic bishops met Benedict XVI, who formally recognized the election of the new patriarch.
As is customary for the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches in union with Rome, newly-elected Patriarch Sako formally requested communion, or unity, with the Pope. The Pope extended “ecclesial communion” to him and asked Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, to co-preside in his name over the Qurbana as a public sign of their full unity.
The new patriarch took Louis Raphael I as his patriarchal name.
“CREATION STORY ISN’T SCIENCE BUT REVEALS GOD’S LOVE”
The biblical account of creation isn’t a textbook for science, Benedict XVI said at his weekly general audience.
Instead, the first chapter of Genesis reveals the fundamental truth about reality: that the world is not the result of chaos, but is born of and continually supported by God’s love, the Pope said.
In a series of Year of Faith audience talks about the Creed, Pope Benedict touched on the description of God as “creator of heaven and earth.”
At the end of the audience talk, the pontiff greeted members of the Conventual Franciscans who recently held their 200th general chapter in Assisi. The Holy Father urged them to show the men and women of today “the beauty of following the Gospel in simplicity and fraternity.”
CARDINAL CHELI DIES AT 94
Italian Cardinal Giovanni Cheli, a longtime Vatican diplomat and retired head of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, died in Rome.
He had celebrated the 70th anniversary of his priestly ordination in July, presiding over a Mass in Asti, the northern Italian diocese for which he was ordained in 1942. Offering his condolences to the diocese of Asti, Benedict XVI said he was grateful for the cardinal’s “precious and diligent” work for the Holy See, first as a member of the Vatican diplomatic corps for more than 30 years and then as president of the pontifical council that coordinates the pastoral care of people on the move, including refugees and seafarers.