Vol. 16 No. 8
April 9 - 22, 2012
EDINBURGH, Scotland, April7, 2012—Scottish Cardinal Keith
O’Brien’s Easter Sunday homily
will call for Christians to makethe cross more prominent intheir lives and to wear crosses assigns of their desire to love andserve others as Jesus Christ did.“I hope that increasing num-bers of Christians adopt the prac-tice of wearing a cross in a simpleand discreet way as a symbol oftheir beliefs. Easter provides theideal time to remind ourselves ofthe centrality of the cross in ourChristian faith,” the Archbishopof St. Andrews and Edinburghsaid in an April 7 statement.The cardinal will deliver hishomily, which was provided inadvance to CNA, in Edinburgh’sSt. Mary’s Cathedral on Easter,
April 8. In it he will reect on
the cross and its role in Chris-tian life.Easter, the cardinal will say,marks the “Triumph of theCross” when Jesus “conquereddeath” and sent his disciples tocontinue his mission.His remarks come at a timeof controversy over the role of
Holy Land pilgrimages on rise and couldincrease during Year of Faith
WASHINGTON, April 4, 2012—Fear of
violence in the Middle East has not keptpilgrims away from the Holy Land, ac-cording to U.S. Franciscan priests whofrequent the sites commemorating thebirth, death and resurrection of Jesus.Any hesitancy to visit these places is“overcome by faith and interest,” saidFranciscan Father Jeremy Harrington,commissary and guardian of the Fran-ciscan Monastery of the Holy Land inWashington. The holy sites, he added,remain safe places to visit despite unrestin the region.Father Harrington also is sure thenumber of pilgrims will increase dur-ing the Catholic Church’s Year of Faith,
which will begin Oct. 11—the 50th an
-niversary of the opening of the SecondVatican Council—and conclude Nov.24, 2013—the feast of Christ the King.In pastoral recommendations for theYear of Faith, U.S. Cardinal William J.Levada, prefect of the Congregationfor the Doctrine of the Faith, stressedthe importance of pilgrimages to St.Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and to
the Holy Land, “the place which rst
saw the presence of Jesus, the Savior,and Mary, his mother.”When pilgrims visit the Holy Land,they not only come away with a deepersense of their faith, but they also showsolidarity with the Christians livingin the region, Father Harrington toldCatholic News Service.Franciscan Father Garret Edmunds,a pilgrimage guide in the Holy Landand vice commissary of the FranciscanMonastery of the Holy Land in Wash-ington, said the number of pilgrimsfrom Europe and North America hasbeen stable. In recent years, he has
seen an inux of pilgrims from Eastern
Europe, Russia, India, the Far East,Africa and Brazil, which he attributesto emerging economies.Franciscan friars know plenty aboutthe Holy Land because they have beenthere for a long time. For more than750 years, they have had a ministrythere preserving shrines, welcomingpilgrims, leading parishes and schoolsand housing, and feeding those inneed.To continue the ministry they rely
on an annual Good Friday pontical
collection that supports Christians inthe Holy Land.Proceeds of the collection, coordi-nated by the Congregation for EasternChurches, are distributed to Latin andEastern Catholic bishops, parishes,schools and projects in Israel, the Pal-estinian territories, Jordan, Syria, Leba-non, Cyprus and Egypt.This spring the Vatican publisheda summary report on how the Fran-ciscan Custodians of the Holy Landhave used donations from recent col-lections. The funds enabled the friarsto improve facilities for pilgrims at anumber of holy sites at Bethlehem, Jerusalem and other locations. Fundswere also used to provide universityscholarships to students in the region,offered counseling, housing andmedical care to families in need andto build or rebuild Catholic parishesand schools.The friars’ work at the holy sites isparticularly important because it en-ables these places to be monuments offaith, not just historical landmarks thatare more like museums, according toFather Harrington.The priest also knows not everyonecan make a pilgrimage to the sites where Jesus was born, lived and died, becauseof the expense and time involved. That’swhy he encourages people to visit theFranciscan Monastery in Washington,which contains replicas of the HolyLand’s famous shrines as well as areplica of the Grotto at Lourdes and theRoman catacombs.The monastery, dedicated in 1899,is set on 40 acres of land near the Ba-silica of the Shrine of the ImmaculateConception. The priests who live andwork there say it is often described asan oasis of peace.Pilgrims are attracted to the shrinesand also the outdoor gardens but theyalso come for Masses, daily confessionsand adult education.“To come here gives people the op-portunity to see what goes on in theHoly Land,” said Father Harrington.
(Carol Zimmermann/ CNS)
Cardinal O’Brien exhorts Christians to wear crosses
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Police pressure on underground community: Easter inthe Church of Silence
Christianity in U.K. public life.Two British women who weredisciplined for wearing a cross atwork are taking their case beforethe European Court of HumanRights, alleging religious dis-crimination.While the cardinal does not
specically mention the case, he
says the cross should not be aproblem for others. Instead, theyshould see it as an indication ofChristians’ desire to love andserve others.“So often the teachings of Jesus Christ are divided andignored; so often those who tryto live a Christian life are madefun of and ridiculed and mar-ginalized,” the cardinal says inhis homily.“Perhaps the more regular useof that sign of the cross might be-come an indication of our desireto live close to that same Christwho suffered and died for us,and whose symbol we are proudto bear.”“Whether on a simple chain orpinned to a lapel, the cross iden-
ties us as disciples of Christ,”
also look athow the crossis evidentthroughoutChristian life.Christiansare baptizedwith the Signof the Cross,which is often
the rst devo
-tion taught tochildren. Be-lievers beginand end each day by making thesign, and the cross is displayed
on the ags of both Scotland and
the United Kingdom. Theuse of this sign is not a “morbidway of looking back” on Jesus’sufferings. Instead, it is a signthat Christians are trying to fol-low “the path set out for us byChrist himself.”“It was through his sufferingson the cross that he achievedthe glory of the Resurrection – atransformation that can haveparallels in many of our own
lives,” Cardinal O’Brien says.
He also mentions Pope Bene-dict XVI’s concerns about reli-gion being marginalized, whichhe made known in London’sWestminster Hall in September2010. The Pope said that religionis not a problem but a “vitalcontributor” to the nationalconversation.
Cardinal O’Brien said these
words were a “great clarion call”for Christians to emphasize thatno government or public bod-ies should be “frightened” ofChristians but should see themas collaborators.
BEIJING, China, April 7, 2012—The Easterholiday will be “very discreetly” celebrated
this year in unofcial (underground) com
-munities in China. Many community leaders,bishops and priests, were in fact called in bythe police for a “conversation” and even un-derwent weeks of indoctrination on the gov-ernment’s religious policy. Several Churchobservers clearly see a campaign underwayto “convert” the underground Church and
absorb it into the ofcial church.
“This year—an underground priest toldAsiaNews—we will celebrate Easter insilence and discretion, without any solem-
nity. In other years, we had to nd locations
big enough so we could celebrate together.This year, we will celebrate Easter in smallgroups. Like every year there will also bethe baptisms of adults and children. Inmy parish there are 10. There are less thanusual this year because we wanted to raisethe level of formation, and follow the rulesof the Church, to give at least a year of cat-echism. “According to the priest, the discretionand silence of this year is due to the fact
that the police are rather restless: in Oc
-tober there will be a leadership change,with a new president and a new primeminister who will replace Hu Jintao andWen Jiabao.The priest said that he and other col-leagues have received an invitation from thepolice to call in for a “conversation” in whichthey promised to “be calm”.“In other parts of China - said the priest - isa bit ‘more dramatic, like in Wenzhou andTianshui”.In Wenzhou (Zhejiang), the coadjutorbishop, Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, and thechancellor, Fr. Paul Jiang Sunian were calledby police on March 19, “invited” to a “studysession” for at least a week. Bishop Shao,49, directs the “underground” communityof Wenzhou. Appointed by the Holy Seeand consecrated bishop in 2007, to promote
integration between ofcial and unofcial,
the Holy See decided that Msgr. Shao wouldbe the coadjutor bishop, while the ordinaryis Msgr. Vincent Zhu Weifang. The two com-munities are still struggling to integrate. Butthe police are trying to “facilitate” this bypushing the underground community to
become part of the ofcial Church, by sign
-ing the accession to the Patriotic Associationand the idea of a Church independent ofthe pope.According to sources cited by Eglisesd’Asie, the dialogue between the po-lice, Msgr. Shao and priests have alsofocused on the situation of Tianshui(Gansu), where for several months,there is a new underground bishop inthe person of Msgr. John Wang Ruohan,former administrator of the diocese.Since January, Msgr. Wang and someof her priests are being subjected to“study sessions” on the government’sreligious policy.Similar events occurred in Hebei andInner Mongolia. According to observ-ers, there seems to be in a clear policy towipeout the underground community.
On 2 March, in front of representativesof the council of Chinese bishops (ofcial)
and the Patriotic Association, a senior of-
cial from the United Front— which also
controls religious affairs—claimed that thetwo organizations should strive to achievegood results for “the conversion of the un-
derground community.” Of course the term
“conversion” means the total submissionof the community to Chinese governmentpolicy directives.
JERUSALEM, Israel, April 6,2012—”The witness of faith byChristians in the Holy Land isvital for the small communitiesthat dot the Arab world at a timeof shocks and a resurgent radi-cal Islam,” said Msgr. AntonioFranco, nuncio to Israel andPalestine.Speaking to AsiaNews onthe occasion of Holy Week, hesaid, “We need trust and hopeso that faith in Christ will helpChristians in the Holy Land andthe Arab world to face their dif-
culties, full of love for the lifeChrist sacriced for us.”
Despite violence elsewhere inthe region, especially Syria, thisyear Holy Week was relativelycalmer than in previous years,
the prelate said. On Palm Sunday,
more than 20,000 people took partin the traditional procession fromBethphage to Jerusalem, twice asmany as in 2011.“There were no disturbancesalong the way. Someone putup banners calling for an endto Israel’s occupation of the ter-ritories, but the function wentoff without a hitch and withgreat devotion,” the nuncioexplained.Still, few of the pilgrims werePalestinian Christians, whosemovements are restricted byIsraeli checkpoints.Recently, Fr. Pierbattista Piz-zaballa, custodian of the HolyLand, announced that in 2013
Catholics and Orthodox in Israel
and Palestine will celebrate Eas-ter on the same day, followingthe Julian calendar.The desire to enhance ecumen-ical ties between the two com-munities is the main reason forthe change, but so is the pastoralconcern for the fate of mixedcouples, which are numerous inthe Holy Land.The Easter season is already jointly celebrated in Jordan,Msgr. Franco explained. Catho-
lics and Orthodox will in fact
celebrate Easter next week onthe east bank of the JordanRiver as well as in some com-munities in the PalestinianTerritories.Compared to past years,holy sites are less crowded thisyear, said Fr. Athanasius Ma-
cora OFM, former director of
the Christian information Center(CIC) who currently monitorsthe Holy Sepulcher.“There are many foreign tour-ists in the streets of Jerusalembut few of them are pilgrimscoming to the Holy Land to prayin the sites of Jesus’ Passion,” hesaid.
Nuncio in Holy Land: Easter between checkpoints and war
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Pope praying for vocations in April
Benedict XVI is praying this month for an increase in vocationsto the priesthood and religious life. The Apostleship of Prayerannounced the intentions chosen by the Pope for April. Hisgeneral intention is “that many young people may hear thecall of Christ and follow him in the priesthood and religiouslife.” And the Pontiff’s mission intention is “that the risenChrist may be a sign of certain hope for the men and womenof the African continent.”
Pope donates $100,000 to Syria
The Pontical Council Cor Unum announced that the Pope
has made a donation of $100,000 in support of the peopleof Syria. The communique mentions the numerous appealsBenedict XVI has made for an end to violence in Syria and forthe opening of dialogue and reconciliation between the con-
icting parties, with a view to peace and the common good.
The Holy Father has also frequently exhorted the faithful topray for those who suffer.
Pope remembers victims of anti-personnel mines
Benedict XVI on April 4 mentioned the international day toraise awareness about anti-personnel mines, referring to hispredecessor’s condemnation of the weapons. After deliver-ing language greetings to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’sSquare for his general audience, the Holy Father recalled theinternational day. He expressed his closeness to victims andtheir families, and expressed his encouragement to “every-one who works to free humanity from these terrible hiddendevices which, as Blessed John Paul II said when the Anti Per-sonnel Mines Convention came into force, prevent mankindfrom ‘walking together on the journey of life without fearingdestruction and death.’”
Vatican doctrinal ofce’s new site offers decades of
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithhas revised its website and launched a new internet domainname to distribute all of its documents published since theSecond Vatican Council. “Wider distribution of the teachingof the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is necessaryin today’s world,” the congregation said March 16. “These
texts treat signicant questions for the life and mission of the
Church and give important doctrinal responses to the chal-lenges of our times.” The congregation added that making
the documents more available will have “signicant value”
in communicating Church teaching around the world.
(CNA/ EWTN News)
Vatican conrms condemnation of breakaway
The Vatican’s doctrinal office has confirmed the excom-munication of four priests expelled from the UkrainianGreek Catholic Church, who asserted themselves as rivalsto its bishops. “These priests continue to challenge ecclesi-astical authority, causing moral and spiritual damage, not
only to the Basilian Order of St. Josaphat and the Greek-
Catholic Ukrainian Church, but also to this Apostolic Seeand the Catholic Church as a whole,” the Congregationfor the Doctrine of the Faith said March 29. “All this pro-vokes division and bewilderment among the faithful,” theVatican’s highest doctrinal office observed. The commentswere made in a March 29 notification intended “to informthe faithful, especially in the countries of origin of theso-called ‘bishops,’ about their current canonical status.”
Cardinal Daoud, former Syriac Catholic patriarch, diesat 81
Mourning the death of Syrian-born Cardinal Ignace MoussaDaoud, who died April 7 in a Rome hospital, Pope BenedictXVI also prayed for the people of the Middle East “living
through difcult times.” The 81-year-old cardinal was the
retired prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churchesand the former patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church. Hisfuneral was scheduled for April 10 in St. Peter’s Basilica. Ina condolence message to Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph IIIYounan of Antioch, Pope Benedict called the cardinal a “faith-ful pastor who devoted himself with faith and generosity tothe service of the people of God.”
Vietnam pulls visas of diocesan group promotingcardinal’s sainthood
The Vietnamese government revoked the visas of representa-tives of the Rome Diocese, including Cardinal Peter Turkson,
president of the Pontical Council for Justice and Peace,
postponing the delegation’s plans for a visit to the communistcountry. The delegation had planned to visit Vietnam March23-April 9 to hear the testimonies of people who knew thelate Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, whosecause for sainthood was launched by the Diocese of Rome in2010. Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the
Vatican press ofce, told Catholic News Service March 28 that
the Vatican was not directly involved with the planned trip.He said the delegation was traveling on behalf of the Dioceseof Rome, which is promoting the late cardinal’s sainthoodcause.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien