Catholic leaders: Church must become a missionary community with a new mentality

Catholic leaders at an international mission conference for the Americas said the church must become a missionary community with a new mentality.The message for conference participants was that "we have to get involved if we're going to be true to the Gospel of Christ and make a difference in the world in which we're living," Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, told Catholic News Service. The Third American Missionary Congress drew more than 2,000 laypeople, bishops, priests and religious to Quito, Ecuador, Aug. 12-17 to discuss challenges for mission, from family life and fundamentalism to ecology and science. Several participants talked to CNS by telephone during and after the conference.The closing Mass marked the official launch of the "great continental mission" that bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean announced in May 2007 during their fifth general ...Read More

Pope Benedict XVI urged to overcome all forms of racial intolerance

 VATICAN CITY  -- Pope Benedict XVI warned that racism is alive in modern society, and he urged the church to help overcome all forms of racial intolerance.He said racism today is often tied to economic and social problems. Although such problems may be real, they can never justify racial discrimination, he said Aug. 17.While the pontiff did not mention specific countries, his words had an immediate echo in Italy, where a series of government actions against illegal immigrants have prompted strong debate inside and outside the church.The pope, addressing pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, began his remarks by quoting the prophet Isaiah about the "foreigners" who will be included in the Lord's universal house of prayer.Likewise, the pope said, the church today is made up of people of every race and culture, and part of its mission is to help forge bonds of communion be ...Read More

Pope Benedict XVI approved the beatification of St. Therese of Lisieux's Parents

 VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has approved the beatification of Louis and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux.The couple will be beatified Oct. 19, World Mission Sunday, during a Mass in the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux, France, the Vatican announced Aug. 19.St. Therese and St. Francis Xavier are the patron saints of the missions.The Vatican did not say who would preside at the Martins' beatification Mass.With beatification, the diocese where the candidate lived or the religious order to which the person belonged is authorized to hold public commemorations on the person's feast day. With the declaration of sainthood, public liturgical celebrations are allowed around the world.The Martins were declared venerable, one of the first steps in the sainthood process, in 1994. But despite the active encouragement of Pope John Paul II to move the cause forward, the ...Read More

Archbishop of Kirkuk, held a joint prayer for peace

Kirkuk  – In the last two days attacks by suicide bombers and car bombs have sown death and destruction among the civilian population and targeted government and other political leaders. But there are also signs of hope, people who do not want to give in to the logic of violence perpetrated by terrorists. Today at noon in the Sunni al-Rashid Mosque in Domez, Iraqi Kurdistan, more than 250 religious leaders, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurdish and Turkmen, as well as a ten-member Christian delegation led Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of  Kirkuk, held a joint prayer “to promote peace and end the violence” in the country.The initiative came from Imam Ali Iman, head of the local Sunni community, who called upon the leaders of the various faiths and ethnic groups in the region “to pray for peace and stability’ in Kirkuk and across Iraq.During the ceremony the spiritual leaders of the various communities prayed for the ...Read More

Pope Benedict : Italy was in danger of returning to fascism

Silvio Berlusconi's government was today engaged in a vigorous damage limitation exercise after Pope Benedict appeared to lend his immense moral authority to speculation that Italy was in danger of returning to fascism under the tycoon's hardline, rightwing leadership.In his customary midday Sunday address, the pontiff expressed concern at "recent examples of racism" and reminded Catholics it was their duty to steer others in society away from "racism, intolerance and [the] exclusion [of others]".On any other day, his remarks might have been seen as no more than a restatement of official Catholic doctrine. But they came instead in the midst of a furious dispute over an editorial published by Italy's bestselling Catholic weekly, Famiglia Cristiana.In an editorial on Friday, condemning recent government moves against immigrants and Roma, the magazine said it was to be hoped fascism was not "resurfacing in our country under another guise&qu ...Read More

Syria Ahmad Bader Hassoun has invited Pope Benedict XVI to Damascus

The grand mufti of Syria Ahmad Bader Hassoun has invited Pope Benedict XVI to Damascus to celebrate the year of St Paul, the apostle converted on the road to Damascus.The grand mufti, a leader of Syria's 18 million Muslims, met with Italian journalists who were visiting Damascus as part of their own celebration of the Pauline year.Vatican Radio reported on August 1 that the grand mufti said he hoped to meet Pope Benedict in Rome and he hoped the Pope would visit Damascus before the Pauline celebrations ended next June.The Pope convoked the year-long celebration to mark the 2000th anniversary of St Paul's birth.The Vatican nuncio in Syria Archbishop Giovanni Battista Morandini told the Italian reporters that the country's two million Christians – Orthodox and Catholics – had joined together to discuss St Paul's life, writings and witness.The Vatican Radio report said Syria was not the only country that has extended a Pauline ye ...Read More

Pope Benedict XVI urged international community to establish humanitarian corridors

Pope Benedict XVI urged the international community to establish humanitarian corridors in Georgia so that the dead can be buried, the wounded can receive medical help and refugees can return home.The pope, speaking at a noon blessing Aug. 17, said he was continuing to follow "with attention and worry" the events in Georgia, where a cease-fire agreement was reached the day before.A Georgian attack on the breakaway province of South Ossetia Aug. 7 followed by a Russian invasion of Georgia left an unknown number of dead, including civilians, and prompted an estimated 60,000 people to flee their homes.The pope said the situation of the refugees, in particular women and children who lack basic necessities, requires a generous response by the international community."I ask for the opening, without further delay, of humanitarian corridors between the region of South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, so ...Read More

Pope Benedict XVI: God, as Creator, cannot be excluded from history

Vatican City, Aug. 8 2008During a gathering with more than 400 priests in the Italian region of Tirol on Wednesday, the feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI said Christianity has always encouraged care for the environment based on the conversion of the human person.During the closed-door meeting at the Cathedral of Bressanone, the Pope spent over an hour responding to six questions posed by the priests from the region.  Some of the Pope’s responses were later summarized for reporters by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombari.He said that when asked about the Catholic view on protecting the environment, Benedict XVI stressed that “God, as Creator, cannot be excluded from history.”Pope Benedict also pointed out that “there is not always sufficient emphasis on the relationship between the teaching of the Church on redemption and creation.  This is an issue in which Catholics can practice their faith, giving examples with ...Read More

Pope engaged in a question-and-answer session

Vatican City, Aug 8, 2008The world sees the public side of Pope Benedict XVI generally at big ceremonial events in Rome or on foreign travels, when he's under the glare of the media.But over the last three years, the "real Benedict " has emerged most fully in a series of semiprivate encounters with an audience he feels at home with -- groups of priests.In the northern Italian city of Bressanone in early August, the 81-year-old pope engaged in what has become a summer tradition: a question-and-answer session with the region's diocesan and religious priests.The dialogue ran the gamut from environmental problems to papal primacy, and the pope took more than 10 minutes to answer each of the six questions. There weren't many softballs tossed his way.One priest asked whether pastors should administer sacraments of Communion and confirmation to young ...Read More

United Church of Christ minister inspired by Pope John Paul II

The Rev. Jim Peck has an unusual background for a United Church of Christ minister. He was raised Southern Baptist, began his working career as a regional planner and was inspired to become a pastor by Pope John Paul II. Peck arrived in Chico in May after being called by the Congregational Church of Chico. The church on East First Avenue has had an interim pastor for several years. Peck said he's glad to be in Chico and excited about his new position. He'll be formally installed at a special service on Sept. 14. Born in North Carolina, he later moved with his family to Atlanta, where he went to high school and college. He and his parents belonged to a "non-fundamentalist" Southern Baptist Church, "a wonderful church with a loving, caring spirit," he said. "I got a great education understanding the Bible." He also developed an open mind, he said, as his parents and pastor advised him, "Don't l ...Read More

Pope Benedict XVI highlighted his hope for China

Vatican City, Aug. 7, 2008Four days before the opening of the Olympic Games, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted his hope for China to welcome the Good News when he visited the birthplace of an Italian missioner who died in the mainland almost 100 years ago.We know that China is becoming ever more important in political and economic life, and in the life of ideas. It is important that this great country open to the Gospel," the scholar-pope said on Aug. 5. Observers interpreted his remarks as a passionate call for full religious freedom in the mainland, and for China to open fully to Christianity and understand it has nothing to fear from the religion.The pope had already mentioned China earlier in the week. On Sunday Aug. 3, speaking from a prepared text, he publicly conveyed his good wishes to China and all involved in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, due to open on Aug. 8.On Tuesday evening he touched on the sensitive subject of religion in ...Read More

16 Indian Priests on hunger strike against the Bishop

Trichy, India, Aug.07,2008 ( - Parading with a coffin marked "Tirchy diocese", priests from the Indian city of Tiruchirapalli have gone on a hunger strike against their local bishop.Newindpress reports that 16 Catholic priests staged a hunger strike on Tuesday, keeping a coffin inscribed "Tiruchy diocese" in front of them, to condemn the alleged authoritarian acts of the diocesan bishop.According to the priests, the bishop took arbitrary decisions and acted on them. They charged that the bishop was also acting on his own in the matter of the transfer of parish priests.They accused the bishop of giving an interview to a bi-weekly which marred the reputation of the diocesan priests. Meanwhile, they have sent petitions to the Pope and his Indian Counsel, Cardinal Lopaz Quintana in Delhi.Speaking to a newspaper, Father P. Thomas Paulsamy, ...Read More

Bombing forces to move Our Lady of Madhu statue to the Bishop's house

Mannar, Srilanka, July.27, 2008 ( - New fighting and bombing in northern Sri Lanka has forced tens of thousands of refugees to seek shelter in the jungle and the local Catholic Church has again moved the statue of Our Lady of Madhuto the local bishop's house. AsiaNews reports the statue of Our Lady of Madhu was taken this week from the church of Thevanpiddi to the private chapel in the bishop's residence.  Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph says this was done for "security reasons" due the intensification of the conflict in the areas of Thavanpiddi and Vellankulam, where the priests were also advised to leave. Bishop Rayappu has launched "an appeal to all our peopl ...Read More


PILGRIMS & ATTENDANCE70,000 international pilgrims took part in Days of the Diocese throughout Australia during the week before WYD08150,000 attended the Opening Mass at Barangaroo and CBD sitesIn excess of 400,000 people attended the Final Mass at Southern Cross Precinct500,000 people came out to welcome His Holiness on Thursday 17 July on the Boat-a-cade, Official Arrival at Barangaroo and Motorcade223,000 people registered for pilgrim services during WYD08 (110,000 international pilgrims + 113,000 local pilgrims)Over 170 nations were represented at World Youth Day Sydney 2008168 international flags took part in the Procession of Flags at the WYD08 Opening MassAUDIENCEWYD08 events were watched live by an estimated international TV audience of 500 million, with TV and internet audiences combined reaching 1 ...Read More

Half a billion audience tune in for WYD Stations of the Cross

Sydney, Australia, Jul. 18, 2008 ( An audience of half a billion tuned in to watch the performance that involved around 80 performers and was played out by young people at six major venues around Sydney. Over 270,000 international and local spectators also made their way to points around the city to watch the Stations of the Cross live and on big screen televisions.The first station held on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral was attended by Pope Benedict XVI who led the prayer.“Make us generous and insightful as we try to walk in your footsteps,” the Holy Father prayed.The Pope then watched the procession on television from St. Mary’s Cathedral Crypt. The procession moved through the Domain, a large open space in Sydney; the Art Gallery of NSW; and the Sydney Opera House, where the actor playing Jesus, Alfio Stuto 27, received the crown of thorns. At Dar ...Read More

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