LOCAL CHURCHES MUST INCORPORATE THE PATRIMONY OF FAITH AND CULTURE OF CATHOLIC IMMIGRANTS
Today the Holy Father received the final group from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose prelates have been traveling to Rome over the past six months on their quinquennial “ad limina Apostolorum” visits.
In previous meetings, different groups of bishops emphasized the importance of preserving and fostering the gift of Catholic unity as an essential condition for the fulfillment of the Church’s mission in their country. Responding to this concern, Benedict XVI focused his address this morning on the need to incorporate the rich patrimony of faith and culture contributed by the many Catholic immigrants into the Church in America.
The Pope began by praising the work carried out by the Church in America, to respond to the phenomenon of immigration: “The Catholic community in the United States continues, with great generosity, to welcome waves of new immigrants, to provide them with pastoral care and charitable assistance, and to support ways of regularizing their situation, especially with regard to the unification of families. A particular sign of this is the long-standing commitment of the American Bishops to immigration reform. . . . It is . . . of profound concern to the Church, since it involves ensuring the just treatment and the defence of the human dignity of immigrants.”
The Church in America, the Pope said to the bishops, “is called to embrace, incorporate and cultivate the rich patrimony of faith and culture present in America’s many immigrant groups, including . . . the swelling numbers of Hispanic, Asian and African Catholics. The demanding pastoral task of fostering a communion of cultures within your local churches must be considered of particular importance in the exercise of your ministry at the service of unity. This diaconia of communion entails more than simply respecting linguistic diversity, promoting sound traditions, and providing much-needed social programs and services. It also calls for a commitment to ongoing preaching, catechesis and pastoral activity aimed at inspiring in all the faithful a deeper sense of their communion in the apostolic faith and their responsibility for the Church’s mission in the United States. . . . the immense promise and the vibrant energies of a new generation of Catholics are waiting to be tapped for the renewal of the Church’s life and the rebuilding of the fabric of American society.”
In this context, Benedict XVI emphasized the role of the consecrated life: “The urgent need in our own time for credible and attractive witnesses to the redemptive and transformative power of the Gospel makes it essential to recapture a sense of the sublime dignity and beauty of the consecrated life.” We must, therefore, “pray for religious vocations and promote them actively, while strengthening existing channels for communication and cooperation” present in each diocese.
In conclusion, the Pope expressed his hope that the Year of Faith, which will begin in October, “will awaken a desire on the part of the entire Catholic community in America to reappropriate with joy and gratitude the priceless treasure of our faith. With the progressive weakening of traditional Christian values, and the threat of a season in which our fidelity to the Gospel may cost us dearly, the truth of Christ needs not only to be understood, articulated, and defended, but to be proposed joyfully and confidently as the key to authentic human fulfillment and to the welfare of society as a whole.”
FOOTPRINTS OF PAUL VI HAVE NOT BEEN ERASED OVER TIME
This morning the Paul VI Chair, which will be instituted at LUMSA (Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta) University in Rome, was presented in the Holy See Press Office. In attendance were: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops; Giuseppe Dalla Torre, Rector of LUMSA; Michele Bonetti, member of the executive committee of the Paul VI Institute in Brescia; and Sergio Gatti, general director of Federcasse.
Cardinal Re praised the initiative of including the chair dedicated to Paul VI in the sphere of the coursework on contemporary history at LUMSA because “the footprints of his work in history — as the priest in charge of the Italian Federation of Catholic Universities (FUCI), as well as Secretary of State of his Holiness, and later as Archbishop of Milan and Pope — have not been erased or discoloured with the passing of time. On the contrary, they have been made stronger. Pope Montini was one of the great protagonists of the 20th century.”
Paul VI has a place in history, above all for his guidance of the Second Vatican Council, the cardinal affirmed. Even if the merit of calling for and opening the Council falls to Blessed John XXIII, “Paul VI led it with an expert and sure hand, respectful of the Fathers of the Church but firm.” For example, “his decision to publish the famous ‘Nota praevia,’ on collegiality and Petrine primacy established the authoritative and proper interpretation of the matter.”
He also “loved and esteemed his day and looked at the modern world with sympathetic eyes, seeking the reconciliation between the modern age and the Christian faith. There are few like him who have known how to read the anxieties, the worries, the desires, and the weariness of the human being in our days. As Pope he made historic gestures and, as these were carried out for the first time by a pontiff, they can be considered ‘firsts:’ He was the first Pope to ride in an airplane; the first to return to Palestine; the first t renounce the crown, earmarking the proceeds of its sale to the poor; the first to go to the United Nations; and the Pope who abolished the pontifical court, bringing a simpler lifestyle to the Pontifical Household.”
The historical investigation to be carried out under the chair instituted at LUMSA will be very useful for analysing two little know chapters of Giovanni Battista Montini’s life. The first is the work of formation of the members of the Italian Federation of Catholic Universities because the Pope “had an innate passion for the formation of persons: religious, but also civil, social, and in some way even political formation.”
The second is the impressive charitable activity of human and social assistance that he organized and directed during World War II . . . through the creation of Vatican Relief for contact with prisoners and his personal and untiring dedication to feed Jewish and political refugees hidden in convents and religious institutions. This was in compliance with Pius XII’s wishes but the dedication with which he devoted himself to this task, asking assistance from nations not at war that they send ships full of provisions to Civitavecchia, north of Rome, merit appreciation and admiration. The ‘Montini Chair,’” concluded the cardinal, “will also contribute to our remembrance.”
MARY OF NAZARETH: WOMAN OF THE TOTAL “HERE I AM” FOR GOD
This afternoon in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father attended a viewing of “Mary of Nazareth”, a coproduction of RaiFiction, Lux Vide, BetaFilm, Tellux, Bayerischer Rundfunk, and Telecinco Cinema directed by Giacomo Campiotti.
At the end of the screening the Pope addressed a few words on the film that focuses on three female protagonists: Herodias, Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Nazareth, whose lives cross but who choose different paths.
“Herodias,” Benedict XVI said, “remains locked within herself and her world. She is unable to raise her gaze to read the signs from God and she is not freed from evil. Mary Magdalene’s experience is more complicated. She is attracted by the appeal of an easy life rooted in material things and uses various means for getting her own way up until the dramatic moment when she is judged and is faced with her own life. Her encounter with Jesus opens her heart and changes her existence. But the centre is Mary of Nazareth who possesses the wealth of a life that has been a “Here I am” for God. She is a mother who would have always wanted to keep her son at her side, but she knows that He is God. Her faith and her love are so great that she can accept Him leaving to accomplish His mission. Her life is a constant “Here I am,” said to God from the Annunciation until the Cross.”
“Three experiences,” the Pope concluded, “a paradigm of how one can build their life around selfishness, being locked within oneself and material things, being guided by evil, or rather upon the presence of a God who came and stays with us, who awaits us with kindness if we make a mistake and asks that we follow Him, that we trust in Him. Mary of Nazareth is the woman of a full and total “Here I am” to the divine will. In her “Yes,” repeated even when faced with the sorrow of the loss of her child, we find complete and profound beatitude.”
Today the Holy Father received in audience:
• Bruno Joubert the new ambassador of France to the Holy See, presenting his credential letters.
• Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).
This afternoon the Holy Father is scheduled to meet with Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
The Holy Father named Msgr. Wayne Kirkpatrick as auxiliary archbishop of the Archdiocese of Toronto (area 13,000, population 5,749,000, Catholics 1,944,000, priests 839, permanent deacons 123, religious 1,132), Canada. The bishop elect was born in 1957 and ordained in 1984. He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Seminary of Philosophy at Resurrection College in Waterloo, Ontario and a master’s degree in theology from St. Augustine Seminary in Toronto. He has a licentiate in canon law from St. Paul University of Ottawa and was named prelate of honour by his Holiness in 1999.
He has served in many roles since his ordination, including 22 years in diocesan administration, concurrently serving in parish ministry as a pastor for 17 years. He presently serves as moderator of the curia, chancellor, and judicial vicar of the diocese, as well as rector of the cathedral. A little over a year ago he was elected President of the Canadian Canon Law Society.
Category: From the Vatican