Mother Teresa's Successor Reflects on Suffering – August 28, 2010

In an interview with Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Sister Mary Prema, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, reflects on suffering and on the example of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. She says:

 

We can take advantage of suffering to approach [God] and ask him for the grace to endure it and thus be able to live this suffering well. Suffering often comes as the consequence of our decisions. However, it is also a consequence of a passing world/nature that is fragile. Of course, suffering can also be caused by things that are beyond our reach. Natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti or floods in Pakistan, are an example. But, I am convinced that God allows suffering because it can transform us into better and more profound people. Thus, we are able to understand that this world and this life are not the ultimate goal, but that there is something more: the life of the soul which – if one really accepts suffering – is purified.

The greatest suffering is spiritual suffering, the suffering of the soul. Here in Calcutta, we see that it is much easier for us to care for physical needs, to carry out corporal works of mercy: wash dying people, provide medical care to the sick, and help the homeless in our homes. The services of spiritual charity require a much larger commitment. We can respond to the suffering of the soul above all with our prayers. It is important that God’s grace touches people with such suffering. Likewise, it is also important that we pray for this same reason. Every day we stop for an hour of prayer before the Eucharist. It is crucial for our work. In fact, our work is not a social commitment, but a missionary commitment.

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Persecution of Church looming in Sudan? CWN: 10/11/2010

The secretary general of the Sudanese bishops' conference is expressing concern that the Church in the northern part of the nation will suffer persecution if the residents of southern Sudan opt for independence in a January 2011 referendum. In addition, “the lives of southern Sudanese in the north are under threat,” said Father Santino Maurino Morokomomo.
 
Two million lost their lives in the long Sudanese civil war (1983-2005) between the Muslim north and the largely animist and Christian south. The civil war ended when President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, later indicted by the International Criminal Court, granted the south limited autonomy and promised a January 2011 referendum. Since 2005, the nation's 5.8 million Catholics have fallen under two sets of religion laws. In the north, all schools– even Christian schools– must offer instruction in Islam, and converts from Islam to Christianity face not only criminal charges but also death at the hands of their families. In the south, Christians enjoy religious freedom.

15% of Sudan's 37.2 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics.



US Senate: Cardinal McCarrick defends religious freedom of Muslims, Catholics

cwn_logo_compasTestifying before a senate judiciary subcommittee hearing on “Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims,” Cardinal Theodore McCarrick defended the religious freedom of Muslims and Catholics.

Speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the retired archbishop of Washington said that “a justified concern for security and the appropriate pursuit of those who pervert religion to attack others cannot be allowed to turn into a new form of religious discrimination and intolerance. This is why we stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters in defense of their dignity and rights, just as we welcome and expect their reciprocity and solidarity with us when the rights of Christians and other religious groups are violated around the world.”

Referring to specific incidents of the persecution of Christians at the hands of “Muslim extremists,” Cardinal McCarrick said that

 

we face a real threat to our national security from terrorism that has its origins in a particular form of extremist ideology that holds itself out as authentic Islam … The legitimate concern for the public order, however, must be pursued with effective skill and respect for religious liberty and with particular concern to avoid generalizing about Islam based solely on the extreme views and conduct of a small group of radical extremists. These unfounded generalizations and efforts to fan the flames of fear are wrong and unjustified, but are especially inappropriate and hurtful when expressed by leaders in public life. These attacks are a grave injustice against the vast majority of Muslims in the United States who are loyal and productive members of our American society.

Cardinal McCarrick also lamented violations of the religious freedom of Catholics, violations that he said stem “from a radical secular perspective that insists that no moral principle or religious belief should ever challenge individual decisions to do or choose whatever one wants or prefers.” The cardinal added:

 

Acts of bias and discrimination towards Catholics and our beliefs are often expressed very publicly. For example, we are charged with discrimination or called “bigots” when we advocate for the traditional understanding of marriage between one man and one woman, which many religious and non religious traditions have supported throughout human history. We advocate for an authentic vision of marriage not to offend or to treat people unjustly, but to offer a positive and healthy model of the human family, which has served as the foundation of society throughout the ages.

The identity and integrity of our Catholic social institutions?or indeed those of other religious traditions?are also being threatened. For example, when the state narrowly defines in legislation which religious institutions are “religious enough” to enjoy religious freedom protections, or when the state imposes restrictions on how religious institutions and individuals are able to serve those in need, the ability to exercise religious freedom in an effective and authentic manner is greatly undermined.

When the very right of conscience is attacked, the ability to exercise religious beliefs is subverted. There are well known contemporary examples where the state would force religious groups and individuals to choose between following their religious beliefs and practices and following the dictates of law.



Pope Benedict announces resignation CWN – Posted: 2/11/2013

Pope Benedict XVI will resign from his papal office, effective February 28 at 8:00 PM local time.

“Dear Brothers, I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church,” he said in a statement addressed to cardinals. “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.”

“I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering,” he continued in his statement, which was dated February 10 and released by Vatican Radio on February 11. “However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”

“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is,” he added.

“Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.”



Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio elected Pope Francis

Argentine Cardinal Bergoglio elected Pope Francis
CWN – March 13, 2013

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina has been elected Pope.

The new Pontiff, who chose the name Pope Francis, is the first Latin American every to become Roman Pontiff, and the first Jesuit.

The Argentine cardinal was elected on the 5th ballot of the conclave, and white smoke appeared from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel just after 2 pm on Wednesday, March 13. More than an hour lapsed before Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal-deacon, appeared on the central balcony of St. Peter's basilica to make the traditional announcement: “Habemus papam!”

After another long pause the new Pope appeared, acknowledging the loud applause from more than 200,000 people packed into St. Peter's Square. In his first remarks he led the crowd in prayers for Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, then asked for prayers for himself before giving his Urbi et Orbi blessing.

“And now let us begin this journey, the bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust,” the new Pope said just before delivering his blessing. “Let us always pray for one another.”

Cardinal Tauran announced, and the new Pope confirmed, that everyone who received the Pope's fist apostolic blessing–either in person or by a radio, television, or internet broadcast—would receive a plenary indulgence, subject to the usual conditions.

At 76, Pope Francis is old enough so that he had already submitted his resignation as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as required by canon law. Pope Benedict had not chosen to accept that resignation. But the Argentine prelate's age was the main reason why he was not prominently listed among the leading papabili going into the conclave.

According to several accounts, Cardinal Bergoglio had won as many as 40 votes in the conclave of 2005, emerging as the leading alternative to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before the latter was elected as Pope Benedict XVI. The Argentine prelate himself refused to comment on reports about the 2005 votes, saying that he was “confused and a bit hurt” by the knowledge that someone had violated the secrecy of the conclave.

Although some observers at that time saw Cardinal Bergoglio as a “liberal” alternative to the “conservative” Cardinal Ratzinger, the Argentine prelate does not fit a liberal mold. He has been firm in his defense of Church teachings on controversial issues such as abortion and homosexuality, drawing the ire of political radicals in Argentina. He has distanced himself from fellow Jesuits who promoted a leftist political agenda, and shown strong sympathy for the Communion and Liberation movement in Argentina.

Nevertheless the new Pontiff has shown an ability to draw support from different corners of the Catholic world. He is known for his personal humility, which is manifested in his decision to ride buses, live in a spare apartment, and make his own meals. He has a deep commitment to helping the poor, and a passion for evangelization.

By taking the name Francis the new Pope sent a dramatic message, appealing to the millions of people devoted to one of the Catholic world's most popular saints. That the first Jesuit priest would advance Franciscan spirituality is almost as striking as the reality that a man from Argentina has been named Bishop of Rome.

Born in Buenos Aires on December 17, 1936, Jorge Mario Bergoglio entered the Society of Jesus in 1958 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1969. He became an auxiliary bishop in Buenos Aires in 1992, and coadjutor in 1998, eventually being installed as archbishop in 1999. He was raised to the College of Cardinals by Pope John Paul II in 2001.

While he has served his entire priestly ministry in Argentina, the new Pope is well acquainted with the Vatican. At the time of his election to the papacy he was a member of the Congregations for Divine Worship, the Clergy, and Religious; the Pontifical Council for the Family, and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He served as relator general for the Synod of Bishops in October 2001, after the prelate originally appointed to that post, Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, rushed home in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In his first words to the public, speaking from the balcony of St. Peter's basilica, Pope Francis—after finally quieting the enthusiastic crowd—remarked that the conclave had the duty of appointing a new Bishop of Rome. “It seems that my brother cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him,” he joked, “but here we are.”

Later, after giving his Urbi et Orbi blessing, the Pope spoke simply to the crowd. “We will see one another soon,” he said. “Tomorrow I want to go to pray the Madonna, that she may protect Rome. Good night and sleep well.”



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