THE CHURCH IS COMMITTED TO THE COMMON GOOD IN SRI LANKA
The Holy See Press Office released the following communique at midday today:
“This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in audience Mahinda Rajapaksa, president of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The president subsequently went on to meet with Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States.
“During the cordial discussions the parties illustrated the steps taken to favour socio-economic development, and reconciliation among the communities hit by the long internal conflict which has affected the country. The hope was expressed that a global joint solution may soon be found corresponding to the legitimate expectations of all the parties involved.
“Finally, emphasis was given to to how the Catholic Church — which makes an important contribution to the life of the country with her religious witness and educational, healthcare and social assistance activities — will continue to commit herself to the common good, reciprocal understanding and the integral development of all citizens.”
EUCHARISTIC COMMUNION AND CONTEMPLATION ARE INSEPARABLE
At 7 p.m. today, Solemnity of Corpus Christi, Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the basilica of St. John Lateran, then led a Eucharistic procession along Via Merulana to the basilica of St. Mary Major.
During the liturgical celebration, the Pope pronounced a homily in which he focused on the sacredness of the Eucharist, and in particular on the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
“A unilateral interpretation of Vatican Council II has penalised this dimension,” the Holy Father explained, “effectively limiting the Eucharist to the moment of celebrating Mass. It is, of course, very important to recognise the importance of celebration, in which the Lord calls His people, bringing them together around the table of the Word and Bread of life, nourishing them and uniting them to Himself in the sacrificial offering. This interpretation of the liturgical gathering, in which the Lord works and achieves His mystery of communion, naturally retains all its validity, but a rightful balance must be restored. . . . By concentrating our relationship with the Eucharistic Christ only on Mass we run the risk that the rest of time and space is emptied of His presence. Thus our perception of Jesus’ constant, real and close presence among us and with us is diminished.”
“It is a mistake to establish a contrast between celebration and adoration, as if they were in competition with one another. The opposite is true. The cult of the Blessed Sacrament represents the spiritual ‘environment’ within which the community can celebrate the Eucharist correctly and truthfully. Only if preceded, accompanied and followed by this interior attitude of faith and adoration, can liturgical activity express its full meaning and value,” the Pope said.
He then went on to explain that, at the moment of adoration, we are all at the same level, “on our knees before the Sacrament of Love. The common and ministerial priesthood come together in the cult of the Eucharist. . . . By remaining together in silence before the Lord, present in His Sacrament, we have one of the most authentic experiences of being Church, one that is complementary to our celebration of the Eucharist. . . . Communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go together,” and if contemplation is lacking “even sacramental communion can become a superficial gesture on our part.”
Turning then to consider the sacredness of the Eucharist, Benedict XVI noted that here too, in the recent past, there has been “some misunderstanding of the authentic message of Holy Scripture. The Christian novelty of worship has been influenced by a certain secularist mentality of the 1960s and 1970s. It is true, and it remains valid, that the center of worship is no longer in the ancient rites and sacrifices, but in Christ Himself, His person, His life, His Paschal Mystery. Yet this fundamental novelty must not lead us to conclude that the sacred no longer exists.”
Christ “did not abolish the sacred but brought it to fulfillment, inaugurating a new worship which is entirely spiritual but which nonetheless, as long as our journey in time continues, still uses signs and rites. These will only fall into disuse at the end, in the celestial Jerusalem where there will be no temple.”
Moreover, the Holy Father went on, “the sacred has an educational function. Its disappearance inevitably impoverishes culture, and especially the formation of the new generations. . . . Our Father God . . . sent His Son into the world, not to abolish the sacred but to bring it to fulfillment. At the culmination of this mission, at the Last Supper, Jesus established the Sacrament of His Body and His Blood, the Memorial of His Paschal Sacrifice. By doing so he put Himself in the place of the ancient sacrifices, but He did so in the context of a rite, which he ordered the Apostles to perpetuate as a supreme sign of the true sacrifice, which is Him. With this faith, . . . day after day we celebrate the Eucharistic Mystery, and adore it as the center of our lives and the heart of the world.”
THE CHURCH IS NOT INDIFFERENT TO SPORT
Benedict XVI has sent a message to Archbishop Jozef Michalik, president of the Polish Episcopal Conference, for the European Football Championships, which will be held over coming weeks in Poland and Ukraine.
“This sporting event involves not only the organizers, the athletes and the fans but, in various ways, the whole of society,” the Pope writes. “The Church cannot remain indifferent to such an event, and in particular to the spiritual needs of the participants.”
Benedict XVI quoted words of Blessed John Paul II, who said that “the potentialities of sport make it an important instrument for the overall development of the person, and a useful factor for the construction of a more human society.” This is because “the sense of brotherhood, magnanimity, honesty and respect for the body — virtues which are undoubtedly indispensable for every good athlete — contribute to building a civil society where competition replaces antagonism, where agreement replaces conflict and loyal confrontation replaces rancorous opposition.”
Pope Benedict goes on: “Team sports such as football are an important way to educate people to respect one another including their adversaries, to show a spirit of personal sacrifice for the good of the entire group, and to respect the gifts of each member of the team; in a word, to overcome the logic of individualism and selfishness which often characterize human dealings, and so leave space for the logic of fraternity and love, the only thing capable of authentically promoting the common good, at all levels.”
The Pope concludes his message by encouraging participants in the championships “to work to ensure that this event is experienced as an expression of the most noble human virtues and actions, in a spirit of joy and peace.”
The Holy Father today received in audience:
• Eleven prelates of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, on their “ad limina” visit
• Archbishop John Ribat M.S.C. of Port Moresby.
• Bishop Rolando Santos C.M. of Alotau-Sideia.
• Bishop Gilles Cote S.M.M. of Daru-Kiunga.
• Bishop Patrick Taval M.S.C. of Kerema.
• Archbishop Francesco Panfilo S.D.B. of Rabaul.
• Bishop Bernard Unabali of Bougainville.
• Bishop William Fey O.F.M. Cap. of Kimbe.
• Archbishop Adrian Thomas Smith S.M. of Honiara, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop John Doaninoel S.M.
• Bishop Christopher Cardone O.P. of Auki.
• Bishop Luciano Capelli S.D.B. of Gizo.
• Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
The Holy Father appointed:
• Fr. Antonio Manuel Moiteiro Ramos of the clergy of Guarda, Portugal, pastor of the diocesan cathedral, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Braga (area 2,857, population 963,900, Catholics 885,900, priests 507, permanent deacons 8, religious 784), Portugal. The bishop-elect was born in Aldea de Joao Pires, Portugal in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1981. He has been a member of the diocesan secretariat for Christian education, and professor and spiritual director in the local major seminary.
• Msgr. Nelson J. Perez of the clergy of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, U.S.A., pastor of the parish of St. Agnes in West Chester, and Msgr. Robert J. Brennan of the clergy of the diocese of Rockville Centre, U.S.A., vicar general, moderator of the Curia and pastor of the parish of St. Mary of the Isle, as auxiliaries of Rockville Centre (area 3,164, population 3,527,942, Catholics 1,737,498, priests 485, permanent deacons 270, religious 1,241). Bishop-elect Perez was born in Miami, U.S.A. in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1989. He has served in a number of parishes and, among other roles, has worked as director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelisation. Bishop-elect Brennan was born in New York, U.S.A. in 1962 and ordained a priest in 1989. He has worked as a pastor in various parishes and served as private secretary to bishops of Rockville Centre.
On Thursday 7 June it was made pubic that the Holy Father:
• Appointed Bishop Cesar Daniel Fernandez, auxiliary of Parana, Argentina, as bishop of Jujuy (area 20,082, population 580,000, Catholics 524,000, priests 68, permanent deacons 7, religious 152), Argentina.
• Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia, presented by Bishop Patrick Percival Power, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.