13 February 2013
Pope Benedict XVI receives ashes from Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, during Ash Wednesday Mass at the Vatican on 13 February. The service is expected to be the last large liturgical event of Pope Benedict's papacy, following his announced resignation. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
13 February 2013
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Pope
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A child dressed as a Swiss Guard stands in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 12 February. (photo: CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)
Pope’s brother says pontiff pondered resignation for several months (AP) Speaking to reporters at his home in the southern German city of Regensburg, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, who was ordained on the same day in 1951 as his brother Joseph, said he didn’t expect Benedict’s continued presence in the Vatican to intimidate the next pope. “It’s possible [the next pope] may ask for advice,” said Ratzinger. “I think it’s quite likely they will talk.” The 85-year-old Benedict shocked the world Monday by announcing that he planned to step down from the papacy at the end of the month. For his brother, however, the decision was no surprise. “He has been thinking about it for several months,” the elder Ratzinger said. “He concluded that his powers are falling victim to age.” He dismissed suggestions that the pope had been pushed to resign…
Syrian refugees face kidnapping, rape and human trafficking (Fides) The conflict in Syria deteriorates and affects all Syrian citizens, regardless of ethnicity or religion. But, as in any war, the situation of minorities is the worst: the Christian minorities have become an easy target for criminals and terrorists who use kidnapping and rape as tactics of fear and control, and organize the trafficking of refugees. This is what is said in a note sent to Fides Agency by the non-governmental organization “Minority Rights Group,” based in London, which each year draws up a detailed report on the condition of cultural, ethnic and religious minorities throughout the world. After an extensive survey conducted among refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, and talks with Syrian refugees who arrived in Europe, the organization also acknowledged the plight of the refugees of the Christian religion, giving voice “to a silent minority who tell harrowing stories of rapes, kidnappings and human trafficking.” According to the organization, the majority of refugees interviewed express a desire to leave the Middle East. To this end, there are even reports of refugees cooperating with gangs of human traffickers in order to flee…
Church never consented to new Israeli separation wall (Fides) “The lawyers of the Israeli army said the route of the separation wall in the Valley of Cremisan had received the consent of the church. But … there has never been any kind of approval, by the Salesians or the Vatican,” said Bishop William Shomali, patriarchal vicar of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, describing details of the hearing held yesterday in Tel Aviv on the new separation wall. This case sets Palestinian Christian families and the Salesian Sisters against the Israeli army on the route of the wall sought by the Israeli authorities in the Bethlehem area. At the hearing — which saw the presence of Bishop Shomali, along with several priests of the patriarchate — the legal representatives of the parties exhibited for the last time their arguments before three judges of Court of Justice in Tel Aviv. The lawyers of the 58 Palestinian families and of the Salesian Sisters, with the aid of maps and topographical material, documented that the route of the wall seriously damages their clients, offering an alternative route nearer to the 1967 border between Israel and the West Bank. In addition to the bishop and the priests, diplomatic representatives of France, Germany, Norway and the United Nations also attended the hearing…
Egypt floods Gaza tunnels, cuts Palestinian lifeline (Daily Star Lebanon) Egyptian forces have flooded tunnels under the border with the Palestinian-ruled Gaza Strip in a campaign to shut them down, Egyptian and Palestinian officials said. The network of tunnels is a vital lifeline for Gaza, bringing in an estimated 30 percent of all goods that reach the enclave and circumventing a blockade imposed by Israel for more than seven years. Reuters reporters saw one tunnel being used to bring in cement and gravel suddenly fill with water on Sunday, sending workers rushing for safety. Locals said two other tunnels were likewise flooded, with Egyptians deliberately pumping in water. “The Egyptians have opened the water to drown the tunnels,” said Abu Ghassan, who supervises the work of 30 men at one tunnel some 200 yards from the border fence. The move surprised and angered Gaza’s rulers, the Islamist group Hamas, which had hoped for much better ties with Cairo following the election last year of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi…
12 February 2013
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Egypt Palestine Syrian Civil War human trafficking
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Pope Benedict XVI announces his resignation yesterday at the Vatican. (photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
After Pope Benedict XVI’s historic announcement yesterday, the world has been asking a lot of questions about what the days ahead will bring.
John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter has posted a very good Q&A primer, which includes some speculation about how a former pontiff might spend his time:
What will Benedict’s role being in the election of his successor?
To hear [Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico] Lombardi and others tell it, he won’t have any role at all.
“Benedict XVI will surely say absolutely nothing about the process of election,” Lombardi told the media. “He will be retired and will not interfere in any way in the process. You can be assured that the cardinals will be completely autonomous in their decision.”
That said, Benedict’s imprint is nevertheless destined to be on the conclave in two ways.
First, he has by now appointed the majority of the cardinals who will elect his successor (67 out of 117 who will be under 80 when the sede vacante begins and thus hold the right to vote). In that sense, one can expect these are men who mostly share his outlook on things.
Second, because he’s still alive, at least some cardinals may feel special pressure not to do anything that would be perceived as a repudiation of Benedict’s papacy, or that they suspect would cause him consternation. How that might translate into choices inside the conclave isn’t entirely clear, but it’s a piece of the puzzle worth considering.
What will Benedict do after the new pope is on the job?
Here we’re really in the realm of the hypothetical, because the only honest answer is that we just don’t know.
It’s reasonable to think that after some period of near-complete withdrawal to make it clear that the new pope is fully in charge, Benedict might want to resume writing on the scholarly and spiritual topics that have always been his passion.
Lombardi hinted at that possibility Tuesday, saying Benedict’s long-awaited encyclical on faith (timed to coincide with the Year of Faith, and completing a triptych with his earlier works on love and hope) would not be ready to go before he steps down. He left open the possibility, however, that Benedict might be able to make use of this material in another form in a private capacity.
Whether Benedict will publish writings while he’s still alive, however, or whether he’ll take appointments, appear at Vatican events, or otherwise play some sort of public role, is all apparently still being pondered.
What are the implications of all this for future popes?
Once again, Vatican officials have been at pains to say that Benedict’s is an “absolutely personal” choice, and that because every situation is different, it’s impossible to say what future popes might do.
Lombardi made a special point today of stressing that Benedict wouldn’t do anything to tie his successor’s hands. He said, for instance, that while Benedict clearly wants a pope to be present at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July, it will be up the next pontiff to freely decide if he wants to go or not.
Read it all at the NCR link.
12 February 2013
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Pope Papacy Holy See
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Pope Benedict XVI has made many travels during his pontificate, including a historic trip to Lebanon in September, to deliver his apostolic exhortation. In this image, he is welcomed to Bkerke by Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter. Click here to read the full text of the exhortation. You can also read analysis of the document by Father Elias Mallon in the November 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: John E. Kozar)
12 February 2013
Tags: Lebanon Pope Benedict XVI Ecumenism Christian Unity Exhortation
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Matt Lauer and New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan appear on NBC’s Today Show in New York in this handout photo taken on 11 February. The cardinal talked about Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement earlier that morning that he will resign as pope at the end of the month. (photo: CNS/Peter Kramer, NBC via Reuters)
Cardinal Dolan: Papacy of Pope Benedict XVI both pastoral and scholarly (U.S.C.C.B.) Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued this statement moments after learning of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on 11 February 2013: “The Holy Father brought the tender heart of a pastor, the incisive mind of a scholar and the confidence of a soul united with His God in all he did. His resignation is but another sign of his great care for the Church. We are sad that he will be resigning but grateful for his eight years of selfless leadership as successor of St. Peter. Though 78 when he elected pope in 2005, he set out to meet his people — and they were of all faiths — all over the world. He visited the religiously threatened — Jews, Christians and Muslims in the war-torn Middle East, the desperately poor in Africa, and the world’s youth gathered to meet him in Australia, Germany, and Spain. ... Pope Benedict often cited the significance of eternal truths and he warned of a dictatorship of relativism. Some values, such as human life, stand out above all others, he taught again and again. It is a message for eternity”…
E.U. to scrutinize products from Israeli settlements (Der Spiegel) Israeli settlers living in the Palestinian territories often deceptively give their products a “Made in Israel” label. The international community has never recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the West Bank or other contested areas, and the Geneva Convention outlaws the establishment of settlements within occupied territories. Nevertheless, successive Israeli governments have allowed colonies to be built up within them and, today, some 650,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This has prompted the European Union officials to move forward with planning that will put them on a confrontation course with Israel. At a meeting in December, the foreign ministers of the E.U.’s 27 member states reiterated their “commitment to ensure continued, full and effective implementation of existing European Union legislation and bilateral arrangements applicable to settlement products.” In other words, they intend to prohibit the sale of goods produced in the occupied territories — or at least as long as they are falsely labeled…
Palestinian landowners and Catholic convent challenge West Bank wall (Al Jazeera) A court in Israel is due to hear final arguments on the construction of a separation wall in a pristine valley in the West Bank. Lawyers representing Palestinian landowners and a convent say if the wall is built they will lose their land and the convent will be surrounded; over 50 families will be cut off from their property. In the embedded video, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from the Cremisan Valley in the Occupied West Bank. This news follows the announcement that Israel has approved 90 new settler homes in the West Bank…
Maronite patriarch prays for peace in Syria (Reuters) The head of Lebanon’s Maronite Church, Patriarch Bechara Peter, prayed in an old Damascus church on Saturday for an end to Syria’s civil war. The patriarch, whose church has 900,000 members in Lebanon — a quarter of the country’s population — is on the first visit to Syria by a Maronite patriarch since the independence of neighboring Lebanon in 1943. His visit comes at a time when Christians in the region feel under threat from the rise of political Islam. “[I pray] that the consciences of local, regional and international leaders are inspired to put an immediate end to the war in dear Syria ... and bring peace through dialogue,” he told dozens of worshippers inside the church. Lebanon’s Maronite leaders have had tense relations with Syria and led calls for an end to its military presence in Lebanon in 2005. But since the civil war flared, Christians have been uneasy about supporting rebels against Assad’s secular Baathists who ensured freedom of belief for minority faiths. Patriarch Bechara Peter himself has been careful not to be seen supporting either side in the Syrian conflict but has adopted a position close to Assad’s by saying reforms should not be imposed from outside…
Serbian patriarch prays that Serbs and Albanians will reconcile (b92) Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Irinej stated in Prizren on Thursday that he hopes that Serbs and Albanians “will reconcile soon and live together as brothers.” The patriarch celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the St. George Church in Prizren together with bishops and clergy of the Rasla-Prizren Diocese. The liturgy was attended by a few dozens of believers. Addressing them after the service, the Patriarch said that he came together with the bishops to encourage people to stay but also to get encouragement from them, as they were “brave people who remain and persevere in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija.” A regular session of the Serbian Orthodox Church Holy Synod and the Kosovo and Metohija Committee will be held in Prizren on Thursday, the Raska-Prizren Diocese released in a statement. This meeting will discuss the problems that the Church is facing in the territory of Kosovo and the measures that the Church should take in order to ensure better protection of people, holy sites and heritage…
11 February 2013
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Syrian Civil War Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan Israeli-Palestinian conflict
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In this photo from the Vatican taken last June, CNEWA’s President Msgr. John E. Kozar shares a moment with Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father met Msgr. Kozar during the 85th annual ROACO (Assembly of aid Agencies for the Eastern Churches) in Rome. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)
11 February 2013
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Pope Benedict XVI uses a handrail as he walks down stairs of the main altar after giving a talk in St. Peter’s Basilica at the conclusion of a Mass for the Knights of Malta on 9 February.
(photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope Benedict XVI on Monday said he will resign the papal office on 28 February. The text of his announcement is below.
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. 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. 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.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.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
There is a recording of the Holy Father making the announcement today in Latin at the Vatican news site.
CNS has additional details:
Jesuit Father Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told journalists at a briefing that the pope’s decision was not prompted by any medical illness, but was due to a natural “decline of strength” associated with old age.
Even though the announcement had caught almost everybody by surprise, it was not a snap decision, but rather one that “had matured over the past few months,” Father Lombardi said.
The pope made his announcement in Latin from a pre-written text during a morning ordinary public consistory where a large number of cardinals were present.
When he delivered his announcement, the pope seemed very “composed, concentrated” and read “in a solemn manner” in keeping with the importance of what he was saying, Father Lombardi said.
Fulfilling the canonical requirement, Pope Benedict solemnly declared to the cardinals, “Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St. 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 St. Peter, will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new supreme pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”
It is up to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, to make preparations for a conclave to elect a new pope.
Father Lombardi said after the pope steps down, he will move to the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome. He will stay there until the renovation is completed of a cloister, set up by Blessed John Paul II, which is located inside the Vatican Gardens, he said.
The pope will then live in the cloister, called the Mater Ecclesia monastery, and dedicate his time to prayer and reflection, the Vatican spokesman said.
It was likely the pope would keep writing, he added, since the pope has mentioned many times that he has wanted to spend more time dedicated to study and prayer.
When asked if there would be any confusion over leadership or a schism were a possibility, Father Lombardi said he believes the pope “had no fear of this” happening because he clearly demonstrated his desire to step down and no longer be pope or retain any papal authority.
There is additional context from Rome Reports in the video below, explaining what happens next.
8 February 2013
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Parishioners, clutching rosaries, attend a liturgy in the Catholic village of Azadan. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
A continuing theme in many of our stories is how faith survives — often under seemingly impossible circumstances.
In 2006, for example, we took a look at the resilient faith of the people of Armenia:
Under the Communists, and particularly under Josef Stalin, all religions in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic were vigorously suppressed. Eventually, some accommodations were made with the Armenian Apostolic Church. But Armenian Catholics — which today number 220,000 of Armenia’s 2.9 million citizens — were not given the same allowances.
Ruzanna Amiraghian, 27, was reared during a more tolerant period of Communist rule, but she grew up with the horrible tales of her forebears.
The family matriarch, Ruzanna’s great-grandmother, Hripsime Avakaian, had two sons. One, Hovannes, entered the seminary and became a priest; the other, Ashot, joined the Communist Party. Mrs. Avakaian arranged for her son, Hovannes, to baptize secretly her grandchildren in one of the churches closed by the Communists. On the way to the church, however, Ashot intervened, saying it would put the family in jeopardy.
A few years later, Father Hovannes was arrested. He disappeared and, for more than 60 years, the family knew nothing of his fate. But 10 years ago, a family member gained access to an archive previously sealed. The records revealed Father Hovannes was executed the same day he was arrested.
Under such conditions — closed churches, disappearing priests, forbidden religious practice — it is no wonder faith was tested. What is surprising is how many Armenian Catholics maintained it even while it was outlawed.
Read more about A New Start for Armenia’s Catholics in the January 2006 issue of ONE.
8 February 2013
Tags: Armenia Communism/Communist Armenian Apostolic Church Armenian Catholic Church
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Many churches in Ras al Ayn, Syria, have been vandalized as a result of the ongoing civil war. (photo: OCP Media Network)
Christian symbols under fire in Ras al Ayn, Syria (OCP) Seventy-five year old Constantine Junan, a native of Ras al Ayn, Syria, insisted he stay in his home even after ten weeks of intense fighting in the city. This week, he was finally forced out by rebels. The rebels came to him after midnight and threatened his life and the life of his son, Junan, who had stayed with his father as others fled the city. Constantine was convinced that the men were intending to kill him and his son unless he obeyed their orders. He asked them to allow him to stay until sunrise, promising to leave then. In the morning, Constantine and Junan went into the church to pray and to receive the blessings of St. Thomas from the icon there. They were very sad to see that many of the metal, wood and stone crosses inside the church were broken. Constantine knew that the rebels forced him to leave his hometown so that he would not be an eyewitness to what was to happen there in the coming period. Constantine left Ras al Ayn on 27th Sunday morning. The photos of churches were taken after the Kurdish forces were able to free the Street of Churches in Ras al Ayn from rebel control. These 38 attached photos express the current situation in the little town, and show the extent of damage done to Christian symbols at the hands of one group of rebels, namely the Suqoor Al-Sunna (which means “The Eagles of al Sunna”)…
Syria’s Druze minority increasingly supports opposition (Washington Post) Members of Syria’s Druze community, a small but significant religious minority, are joining the opposition in bigger numbers, ramping up pressure on the beleaguered government of President Bashar al Assad, according to opposition activists and rebel military commanders. As the Syrian conflict has devolved into a bloody sectarian war, with many Sunni Muslims backing the opposition, some of the country’s minorities, including the Druze and Christians, have largely sat on the sidelines. The Druze community in Syria only numbers around 700,000, out of a total population of some 21 million, and has a history of rebelling under authoritarian leaders, rising up during the rule of the Ottomans as well as the French. Although communities are scattered across the country, the bulk of the Druze, whose secretive religion is an offshoot of Islam, live in the mountainous region of southeast Syria. In the past couple of months, according to opposition activists, there have been more than half a dozen anti-government protests in Sweida province, the ancestral homeland of the Druze in the southeast that had remained relatively quiet since the uprising began nearly two years ago. And in mid-December, rebel fighters announced the formation of the first revolutionary military council for Sweida province. The council coordinated the most significant battle in the Druze region since the conflict began…
Maronite patriarch to celebrate St. Maroun Day in Tripoli (Daily Star Lebanon) Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter arrived Friday in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli to hold an afternoon Mass in celebration of St. Maroun’s Day. Upon the patriarch’s arrival around 3:30 p.m., church bells in the city tolled, welcoming the prelate as hundreds gathered to greet the head of the Maronite Church. Patriarch Bechara Peter, who was recently appointed cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, held a private meeting with Tripoli’s bishops. The liturgy will be held at St. Maroun Church in the country’s second-largest city…
Cyprus gives Palestinians full diplomatic status (Daily Star Lebanon) Cyprus said on Friday it has upgraded its relations with the Palestinians to full diplomatic mission status, one of just eight European Union countries to do so. The decision was announced by Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis during an official visit by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al Malki. “I informed my Palestinian counterpart of the decision of the government to upgrade the status of the Palestinian diplomatic representation in Cyprus from that of a Diplomatic Mission to that of an Embassy of the State of Palestine,” Marcoullis told reporters. She said this “important decision” was in line with the recognition of the Palestinian State in 1988 by Cyprus, and follows seven other E.U. members that have recognized a Palestinian State — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia…
Bombings across Iraq kill at least 26 (New York Times) A series of explosions across Iraq killed at least 26 people on Friday, continuing a spate of violence that has marked recent political turmoil and witnessed bombings now on seven consecutive Fridays. The bombings come amid worsening sectarian tensions, with Sunnis and others saying that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al Maliki and his political bloc are seeking to monopolize power before provincial elections in April. In a bird market in Khadumiya north of Baghdad the Shiite majority city, twin car bombs exploded, killing 16 people killed and wounding 45 others, according to security and medical sources. That blasts fit the pattern of deadly attacks on markets on Fridays, when they are typically crowded with people…
7 February 2013
Tags: Syria Palestine Syrian Civil War Iraq Violence against Christians
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CNEWA has long worked through local institutions to assist children in need — such as those pictured above, in Ethiopia. (photo: CNEWA)
Bob Pape is the director of major gifts at CNEWA in New York.
A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from a benefactor of CNEWA. Her name is Helen, and she lives on Long Island. I asked her how she had weathered Hurricane Sandy, which I knew had devastated her hometown when it hit shortly before Thanksgiving. Helen told me her house survived the flood. I was relieved to hear it. But then she added: “It burned down because of downed electrical lines.”
What could I say? As I fumbled for words, Helen asked if I could help her. I said of course! She then explained that she supports CNEWA’s efforts to care for needy children, and the hurricane had caused her to fall behind in her regular support. She was worried about the little ones and their caretakers who depend on her. She did not want to abandon them.
I was speechless. We are talking about children whom Helen has never met, in places she may never see. Yet she was more concerned about them than with her own immediate and dire needs. All I could think of is what Bing Crosby’s Father O’Malley says to Ingrid Bergman’s Sister Benedict in “The Bells of St. Mary’s”:
“Oh, woman, great is thy faith.”
Helen’s example continues to inspire me in my work at CNEWA, serving the churches and the poor in the lands where Jesus walked and his disciples preached. If her story touches your heart, too, please consider contributing some of your own faith and generosity.
All of us at CNEWA are most grateful to you for your continued prayers and support. May God bless you and keep you always.
Tags: CNEWA Children Education Donors Orphans/Orphanages
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