Vol. 12 No. 23
November 10 - 23, 2008
CBCP MonitorCBCP Monitor
Pope marks Feast of Dedication of
Lateran Basilica, commemoratesanniversary of Kristallnacht
VATICAN, November 9, 2008—Presiding over the recitation of theSunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI commemorated the Feast ofthe Dedication of Rome’s Lateran Basilica. Calling Christians the‘living stones’ of a ‘spiritual building,’ he reminded the faithful thatGod wants to build in the world a community that “worships himin spirit and truth.”The Basilica, called the “mother and head of all churches of theCity and the World,” was built after the Emperor Constantine’s Edictof Milan, which in 313 granted Christians freedom to practice theirreligion. The same emperor, the Holy Father recalled, “gave PopeMiltiades the old property of the family of the Laterans and built theBasilica, Baptistery and the residence of the Bishop of Rome, wherethe Popes lived until the Avignon period.”The dedication of the Basilica was celebrated by Pope Sylvester in324 and the temple was dedicated to the Most Holy Savior; the namesof Sts. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, for whom the basilica
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is commonly named, were added only after the sixth century.
“This anniversary at rst interested only the city of Rome; then,
in 1565, it was extended to the Churches of the Roman rite. Byhonoring the Basilica, one intends to express love and veneration
for the Roman Church, which, as St. Ignatius of Antioch afrms,
‘presides over the charity’ of the entire Catholic communion,” thePope said.“The beauty and harmony of churches, destined to render praiseto God, invites us, limited and sinners, to form a ‘cosmos,’ a well-
ordered edice, in communion with Jesus, who is the true Holy of
Holies,” he added.After the Marian prayer of the Angelus, Benedict XVI recalledthat today is the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, “when Nazi furyagainst Jews broke loose in Germany.” He prayed for the victimsand invited Christians to demonstrate “profound solidarity withthe Hebrew world.”
VATICAN, November 9, 2008—BenedictXVI is calling upon all involved to restorepeace and respect for the law and humanlife to Congo.After reciting the Angelus together withthe crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square,the Pope called attention to the ongoing
conict taking place in the North Kivu region
of Congo.“Bloody armed skirmishes and systematicatrocities have caused and continue to causemany casualties among innocent civilians.Destruction, looting and violence of everytype have forced tens of thousands of per-sons to abandon even what little they had to
Pontiff calls for restorationof peace in Congo
survive,” he lamented.Saying that the number of refugees isestimated at more than one and a half mil-lion, the Pontiff also called “upon all to worktogether to restore peace, respect for law andthe dignity of every person to that land, fortoo long martyred.”“To all and to each one I desire to expressmy special nearness, as I encourage andbless those who are working to alleviate theirsufferings, among whom are the pastoralworkers of the Church of that region,” thePontiff stated. “To families and their lovedones I offer my condolences and assure myprayers.”
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a ‘step forward’
VATICAN, November 9, 2008—
The rst seminar of the Muslim-Catholic Forum was “a signi
-cant step forward in dialogue,”says a Vatican spokesman. Jesuit Father Federico Lom-bardi, the director of the Vaticanpress office, made this claimon the last episode of “OctavaDies,” a weekly program ofthe Vatican Television Center.The three-day Catholic-Muslimmeeting ended last week inRome.
The Church, he recalled,“has regular meetings withvarious groups of Muslim rep-resentatives,” but this meeting“demonstrated the possibilityof entering more deeply andfrankly into essential themesand of successfully express-ing, with greater clarity and
fdelity, that which unites and
The final joint declaration“contains important statementsabout respect for persons andtheir choices in matters of con-science and religion [and] onthe equal dignity of men andwomen.”Disclosing that Benedict XVIis encouraging the efforts atdialogue, the Vatican spokesmancharacterized the dialogue ofthe forum as “open” and takingplace in “a climate of trust.” Headded that there are hopes thatthe dialogue will extend itself tolarger circles in the Christian andMuslim world.The priest observed that the
often bloody conicts between
Christians and Muslims in theMiddle East and the Balkanshave made the dialogue “com-
plex and difcult, but they must
not hamper or stop it.”Benedict XVI, Father Lombar-di said, has invited the two sidesto “unite their efforts, with thegoal of overcoming incompre-hension, overcoming prejudicesand correcting the distorted im-age of the other.”“The road remains a long onebut this is a step in the rightdirection,” Father Lombardiconcluded.
BALTIMORE, November 9, 2008—Since theelection of Barack Obama as the next Presi-
dent of the United States, several Catholic
commentators have speculated on how theoriginal agenda of the annual Fall General
Assembly of the United States Conference ofCatholic Bishops (USCCB) will change.
According to bishops involved in theorganization of the three-day meeting, theagenda, including a public discussion ofabortion and politics, is fully on track.Speculation that the agenda might changecame late last week when several prominentCatholic commentators argued that thebishops had “lost authority” by speakingout strongly against Catholics voting forpro-abortion politicians, like Obama andother mostly Democratic candidates, who
were elected to ofce recently.
Earlier, Religion News Service reported
Obama’s election may change agenda
of forthcoming USCCB meeting
that the USCCB “has scuttled plans to dis
-cuss abortion and politics next week in Bal-timore,” citing the bishops’ spokeswoman,Sister Mary Ann Walsh. RNS also quotedSister Walsh saying that the agenda had yet
to be nalized.
Peter Steinfels reportedly argued in hisregular New York Times column that “any-one constructing a list of the big losers on[the recent election] would probably includethe nation’s Roman Catholic bishops.”Steinfels supported his assertion that thebishops were “defeated” on the groundsthat nominal Catholics voted 52 percent to45 percent for Obama.“Will that fact be candidly addressed
when the United States Conference of Catho
-lic Bishops meets next week in Baltimore?,”he asked, suggesting that the bishops should“change strategy.”
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People of different religions attend celebration for Saint
BHARANANGANAM, India, November 10, 2008—More than100,000 people from various religions attended a program celebrat-ing the canonization of Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Concep-
tion, India’s rst woman saint.
The Nov. 9 program included a concelebrated Mass and a publicmeeting at Bharananganam, the village in Kerala state’s Kottayamdistrict where the Franciscan Clarist nun’s tomb lies. The village isabout 2,650 kilometers south of New Delhi.Pope Benedict XVI canonized the nun, a native of Palai diocese,and three other saints on Oct. 12 at the Vatican. The Church in Keralaorganized a nine-day long celebration that culminated on Nov. 9.The Nov. 9 program began with a public meeting that former In-dian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam opened and Cardinal LeonardoSandri, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Oriental Churches,chaired.Kalam, a Muslim by faith and rocket engineer by profession,asked people to emulate Saint Alphonsa’s ideals such as love andcompassion, “for which she lived her short life of sufferings, pen-ance and prayer.”
The nun, who died in 1946 at the age of 36, was mostly conned
to bed because of constant illnesses. Records show she suffered herphysical pains with joy and offered them as penance for the sins ofothers.“Each one of us must take a vow that we would remove the painof at least one person every month, as the saint had shown throughher personal example,” Kalam said. A “deeper study” into thesaint’s life would reveal “she renounced the world but worked forthe world,” he added. “When others belittled her, taunted her, sheaccepted all these sufferings with a smile.”Kalam and other dignitaries prayed at the saint’s tomb. CardinalSandri presented Kalam a medallion Pope Benedict XVI blessedduring the canonization ceremony.Addressing the public meeting, the cardinal hailed Saint Al-phonsa as “a precious gift of the Indian Church to the globalChurch.” She is a “role model of all of us” because her “life wasfull of miseries and pain,” but she suffered it with joy, the Vatican
Church leaders express hope,
reservations over Obama’s win
SEOUL, South Korea, Novem
-ber 10, 2008—Church leadersin South Korea have expressedhope but also concerns fol-lowing the historic election ofSenator Barack Obama to the
“Korea can learn a good les-son from Obama’s success,”said Father John Choi Byoung- jo, noting how the 47-year-oldson of an immigrant fatherobtained a good education in
the United States, where he
was born, and is now poisedto become a global leader.
Speaking with UCA News
the day after the Nov. 4 elec-tion, the director of Suwondiocese’s pastoral services formigrant laborers said SouthKorea should similarly wel-come skilled migrant workersand foreigners with other tal-ents, and help them live securelives here.The country should alsoprovide good education tochildren of marriages involv-ing a Korean and an immigrantspouse, because they can be a“bridge to other countries,” hesuggested.Before such policies could beimplemented, however, “weneed to change our discrimina-tory attitude toward migrants,”the priest asserted.Father Peter Pai Young-ho,executive secretary of theCatholic Bishops’ Conference
of Korea (CBCK), told UCA
News he was concerned thatsome of Obama’s policy state-ments, such as his objection tofree trade agreements, wouldbe detrimental to Korea.South Korea presently hassuch an agreement with the
United States.Furthermore, the U.S.
president-elect’s acceptanceof abortion is also againstChurch teaching, Father Paipointed out.“However, I expect him tosolve lots of problems, espe-cially the economic crisis, forthe betterment of the world,”
the Church ofcial said. “I also
hope he would consider theChurch’s stand on life issues.”Father Pai noted that many
people followed the U.S. presi
-dential election with interest
since the United States hasgreat inuence in the world.
“With the election of Obama,an African-American from analienated and discriminatedclass in society, Americanshave shown their passion fordemocracy and openness,” hedeclared.
TEWATTE, Sri Lanka, No-vember 10, 2008—Catholicsin Sri Lanka are hoping for
the beatication of their rst
and still only cardinal, whose20th death anniversary theyrecently celebrated.Archbishop Oswald Gomisof Colombo told 700 laypeo-ple and 70 clergy at an Oct.29 anniversary Mass at theBasilica of Our Lady of Lankain Tewatte, on the northernoutskirts of Colombo, thatCardinal Thomas BenjaminCooray should join the listof saints.The Oblate prelate, born in1901 to a poor family, became a priest in 1929. He was ordainedco-adjutor archbishop of Colombo in March 1946 and succeededas head of the archdiocese in July 1947, becoming Sri Lanka’s
rst native archbishop.
After Pope Paul VI elevated him to cardinal in 1965, he tookpart in the election of Popes John Paul I and John Paul II. Car-dinal Cooray retired as archbishop of Colombo in September1976 and died on Oct. 29, 1988.Archbishop Gomis reminded the congregation that the car-dinal did vital work for the local Church during the period ofpopular agitation for the end of British colonial rule, which camein 1948. He also recalled the cardinal’s efforts to prevent the statefrom nationalizing Catholic schools during 1960-61.Plans are underway to put the late cardinal on the path tosainthood. The local Church has no native saint, but it has sup-ported the cause of Blessed Joseph Vaz, a 17th-century Indianpriest who kept people’s faith alive during harsh persecutionunder Dutch rule.The Cardinal Cooray Memorial Committee, appointed lastyear, “has started to collect all the details of stories, miracles,remedies and answered prayers,” Father Marcus Ferdinandez,
its patron, told UCA News on Nov. 6. The next step will be to
inform the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka, addedthe priest, episcopal vicar for Colombo archdiocese’s easternregion.The committee has been advertising in Catholic weeklies forpeople who believe they have experienced miracles through thelate cardinal’s intervention to come forward.
“Our hope is to see his beatication soon,” said Nimal Bastian
Silva, principal of Basilica Vidyalaya (school) in Tewatte. Ac-cording to him, hundreds of thousands of people pay homageat the tomb every year.
Sri Lankan Catholics take steps toward
beatication of Cardinal Cooray