“MISSION WORK REQUIRES GOSPEL JOY, LIVING GOD’S LOVE”
Bringing God’s word to mission lands is successful only when missionaries live the Gospel with joy and share the love and goodness they receive from God, Benedict XVI said during a brief visit to a center belonging to the missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word.
The Pope, who began his vacation July 3 at the papal summer villa of Castel Gandolfo, took a short trip to the center in the nearby village of Nemi, in the Alban Hills southeast of Rome.
The pontiff said he had fond memories of the center where he spent a week in the spring of 1965 working with three dozen other prelates to draft the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity (Ad Gentes).
At the time, the invitation to be part of the commission came as a surprise to 37-year-old Father Ratzinger, as “I was a very young theologian of no great importance,” the Holy Father said during an informal talk to the Divine Word Fathers attending their general chapter meeting.
He praised the flourishing of vocations in the Society of the Divine Word, which has more than 6,000 members in 70 countries.
ILLICITLY-ORDAINED CHINESE BISHOP EXCOMMUNICATED
Chinese Father Joseph Yue Fusheng has been automatically excommunicated for allowing himself to be illicitly ordained a bishop despite repeated warnings from the Vatican.
“The Holy See does not recognize him as bishop of the apostolic administration of Harbin, and he lacks the authority to govern the priests and the Catholic community in the province of Heilongjiang,” the Vatican said in a written statement.
On July 6, five Vatican-approved bishops took part in the rite, held at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province. Two other Vatican-approved prelates who were invited to the ceremony did not attend, citing illnesses, but sent messages of apology and congratulations.
Bishops’ ordinations that are not authorized by the Pope generally bring the penalty of automatic excommunication; however, because in some cases there may be mitigating circumstances — including fear of reprisal, necessity or serious inconvenience — those bishops in attendance “must give an account to the Holy See of their participation in that religious ceremony,” the Vatican said.
“NO PEACE WITHOUT DIALOGUE, SACRIFICE, PATIENCE”
Just as individual musicians in an orchestra turn dissonance into harmony through hard work, sacrifice and listening to one another, so, too, can the world’s people turn conflict into peace, said Benedict XVI.
The Pope made his remarks following a concert performed in his honor by young musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and other Arab countries.
The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is directed by the Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and was co-founded in 1999 by Barenboim and the late Palestinian-American scholar, Edward Said. The interfaith orchestra celebrated the feast of St. Benedict by treating the Pope to two Beethoven symphonies — Nos. 5 and 6.
The pontiff thanked the musicians for their performance, held in the courtyard of the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo, and said that the orchestra’s existence reflected the conviction that music can bring people together in spite of all dividing forces.
The Holy Father said he hoped the multifaith orchestra would continue “to sow the hope for peace in the world through the universal language of music.”
SYRIAN CATHOLIC LEADERS CALL FOR UNITED EFFORTS BY WORLD COMMUNITY
As violence continued to shake Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, the Vatican nuncio in Damascus, called on the international community to unite in efforts to restore peace.
“The situation of the Christian community is the same as the situation for all Syrians. The Christians are not targeted, but they are under the same bombing and shelling the others face,” the archbishop told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview from the capital.
Archbishop Zenari said, “The international community must speak with one voice; otherwise the parties involved in the conflict won’t listen.” The nuncio said he was not lobbying for any specific international intervention, but “too much time has already passed. There are many ways to reach a consensus.”
“The future is difficult to foresee,” the archbishop said. “Until now, there has been a good level of freedom of religion in Syria and good relations between Christians and Muslims. It could be difficult if that changed.”
“EVERYONE CAN PRAY, HAVE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD”
Everyone is given the grace to pray, which is the only way to have a life-giving relationship with God, Benedict XVI said during his weekly general audiences after a month-long break.
The Pope continued his series of talks on prayer.
The audience, which lasted less than half an hour, was held in Castel Gandolfo’s main square, just outside the entrance to the papal summer villa.
Marking the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists and patron of moral theologians and confessors, the pontiff said the saint lived in “a period of great rigorism,” but encouraged priests to administer the sacrament in a way that communicated “the joyful embrace of God the Merciful Father, who in his infinite mercy never tires of welcoming back his repentant sons.”
CARDINAL ENCOURAGES YOUNG CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS
Yearning and working for freedom and peace, young Christians and Muslims must be patient and persistent, recognizing that violence or other apparent “short cuts” that harm others will never lead to justice and lasting peace, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, in his annual greeting to Muslims for Eid al-Fitr, the feast marking the end of the month-long Ramadan fast. The feast begins on or around August 19 this year.
Cardinal Tauran encouraged young Muslims and Christians “to cultivate truth and freedom, in order to be genuine heralds of justice and peace and builders of a culture which respects the dignity and the rights of every citizen.”
“FAITH IN GOD GIVES FULL MEANING TO LIFE”
While people obviously need to provide for their families and even make sure they get some rest and relaxation, the Gospel teaches that it’s even more crucial to strengthen one’s relationship with God, Benedict XVI said, commenting on the Sunday Gospel reading during his midday Angelus address.
Jesus’ mission is to open people’s eyes to the possibility of an “existence that is not simply that of the daily worries” about what to eat, what to wear and how to advance in their careers, the Pope said.
“The center of existence, that which gives full meaning and solid hope to the often difficult journey (of life) is faith in Christ, an encounter with Christ,” the pontiff told a crowd gathered in the courtyard of his summer villa for the recitation of the Marian prayer.
“MARY IS WITH GOD, LISTENING TO PRAYERS”
Joining God in heaven, Mary “does not draw away from us, does not go to an unknown galaxy,” but becomes “even closer to each one of us,” the Pope said during his homily at Mass for the feast of the Assumption.
With his 88-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, seated in the front pew, Benedict XVI celebrated an early morning Mass in the Church of St. Thomas.
Later, Pope Benedict recited the Angelus with visitors crowded into the courtyard of the papal summer villa.
Continuing his reflection on the meaning of the Assumption, he said that “it shows us, in a brilliant way, our destiny and that of humanity and of history. In Mary, in fact, we contemplate that reality of glory to which each one of us and the entire Church are called.”
“MARY, QUEEN OF HEAVEN, WATCHES OVER HER CHILDREN”
Honoring Mary as queen, Catholics see her exercising the same kind of regality that Jesus did: one of humility, service and love, Benedict XVI said.
Marking the feast of the Queenship of Mary at his weekly general audience, the Pope said just as Jesus’ kingship had nothing to do with earthly power — in fact, Christians recognize him as king when he’s on the cross — so Mary’s queenship is exercised through obedience to God and helping those who turn to her.
Holding his audience in the courtyard of the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo, the pontiff told the crowd that the feast of Mary’s Queenship was added to the liturgical calendar only in 1954, but it was the result of centuries of devotion to Mary as Queen of heaven and of the universe.
During the audience, the Holy Father offered special greetings to a dozen members of the Chaldean Sisters, Daughters of Mary Immaculate. He told the estimated 2,500 people at the audience that the sisters work “serving the people of Iraq.”
He also had special greetings for the 25 boys and young men from Malta who were continuing the long tradition of Maltese youths who spend part of their summer assisting dozens of priests each day as altar servers in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“CHRISTIANS MUST NOT COMPROMISE CHRIST’S TRUTH”
Marking the feast of the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, Benedict XVI said Christians must not bow to the pressure of the powerful who demand a denial of Christ or of the truth he taught.
“The truth is the truth and there is no compromise,” the Pope said at his weekly general audience.
The pontiff then held a second, mini-audience in the courtyard of the papal villa with 2,600 French altar servers — boys and girls — who were on a pilgrimage to Rome.
Pope Benedict told the young people they were blessed to be “particularly close to Christ Jesus in the Eucharist. You have the enormous privilege of being close to the altar, close to the Lord.”
CARDINAL MARTINI, FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF MILAN, DIES
Italian Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a renowned biblical scholar and former archbishop of Milan, died at the age of 85 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
In a telegram to Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, Pope Benedict praised Cardinal Martini’s generous service to the Gospel and the Church and his “intense apostolic work” as a Jesuit, a professor and “authoritative biblicist.”
The cardinal was a prolific author whose books were best-sellers in Italy and included everything from scholarly biblical exegesis to poetry and prayer guides.
He was controversial because, on several occasions, Martini expressed support for considering allowing married Latin-rite priests under certain circumstances, ordaining women as deacons and allowing Communion for some divorced Catholics in subsequent marriages not approved by the Church.
After his retirement in 2002, he moved to Jerusalem and purchased a burial plot there, but returned to Milan after his health worsened in 2008. He died in a Jesuit retirement home near Milan, surrounded by his Jesuit confreres and members of his family.
Cardinal Martini’s death leaves the College of Cardinals with 206 members, 118 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new Pope.
“CARDINAL MARTINI’S LOVE FOR BIBLE GUIDED HIS LIFE”
In a message read at Cardinal Martini’s funeral in Milan, where the cardinal had served as archbishop from 1979-2002, the Pope said the Jesuit cardinal’s love of Scripture enabled him “to teach believers and those searching for truth that God’s word is the only word worthy of being listened to, accepted and followed.”
Pope Benedict’s message to mourners, read at the funeral by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, praised Cardinal Martini’s “great openness” and willingness to engage in dialogue with everyone, to explain the reasons for his faith and hope.
Cardinal Martini’s funeral followed the Ambrosian rite, a liturgical tradition particular to Milan. Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan presided and Jesuit Father Adolfo Nicolas, superior general of the Jesuits, was among the concelebrants.
“those WHO LOVE JESUS WANT TO PRAY”
The more people love Jesus, the more they will want to spend time with him in prayer; and the more they pray, the more they will resemble him, Benedict XVI said at his weekly general audience.
The audience marked the beginning of a series of papal audience talks on prayer in the Book of Revelation, which the Pope said was “a difficult book, but one that contains a great richness” because it presents readers with the prayer life of the earliest Christian communities.
POPE ASKS AFRICAN CATHOLICS TO DEFEND VALUES OF FAITH, CULTURE
Benedict XVI encouraged lay Catholics in Africa to defend Christian and traditional African values, share their faith in Jesus and transform African society.
“The most valid traditional values of African culture are threatened today by secularization,” unleashing confusion and tension, which are seen in new waves of “tribalism, violence, corruption in public life, the humiliation and exploitation of women and children, and the growth of poverty and hunger,” the pontiff said.
In a written message to the 300 delegates to the Pan-African Congress of Lay Catholics, meeting in Yaounde, Cameroon, September 4-9, Pope Benedict said lay Catholics have a responsibility to deepen their faith and allow the positive values of African culture and Christian teaching to inform their work in society.
The congress for lay Catholics was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity as a follow-up to the special Synod of Bishops for Africa, held in 2009, and in preparation for the 2012-13 Year of Faith and the upcoming world Synod of Bishops on the “new evangelization” during October.