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By Eric J. Lyman | Religion News Service,

Pope Francis: Acts of humility: The new prelate is rewriting the rules in his first year at the Vatican. Here are a few of Francis’s symbolic moves and statements.

Pope Francis: Acts of humility: The new prelate is rewriting the rules in his first year at the Vatican. Here are a few of Francis’s symbolic moves and statements.

ROMEPope Francis could be at risk from the ‘Ndrangheta organized crime organization, according to a leading anti-mob prosecutor who has himself been the target of threats from the mafia.

 

Nicola Gratteri, 55, a state prosecutor in the southern Italian region of Calabria, where the ‘Ndrangheta is most active, said the pope’s effort to reform the church is making the ‘Ndrangheta “very nervous.” 

The organization is considered by experts in Italy to be the most dangerous, most unified and most difficult to penetrate mafia-type organization in the country. “I cannot say if the organization is in a position to do something like this, but they are dangerous and it is worth reflecting on,” Gratteri warned. “If the godfathers can find a way to stop him, they will seriously consider it.

RELATED: Pope Francis and his acts of humility

“Those who have up until now profited from the influence and wealth drawn from the church are getting very nervous,” he added. “For many years, the mafia has laundered money and made investments with the complicity of the church. But now the pope is dismantling the poles of economic power in the Vatican, and that is dangerous.”

Gratteri noted that in southern Italy organized crime figures have strong and high-profile relationships with local church leaders, who help give the crime figures legitimacy.

He also said most Italian mobsters are practicing Catholics, despite their violent activities.

“A gunman from the ‘Ndrangheta will pray and kiss his rosary before shooting someone,” said Gratteri, who has been under police protection against the mob since the 1980s.

Gratteri was named by Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta to head a special committee aimed at curbing the influence of organized crime.

Francis has spoken out strongly against organized crime in the past, specifically naming the country’s four main organized crime groups —including the ‘Ndrangheta — in May.

On Monday (Nov. 11), Francis spoke out against corruption, quoting Jesus from the Gospel of St. Luke: “It would be better for (the corrupt man) if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea.”

Security issues have been an area of concern since the early days of Francis’ papacy because of his willingness to break protocol to engage with the faithful.

Source:  Washington Post/Religion News Service LLC.

 

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Multiple media reports have given rise to the misconception that Pope Francis is polling Catholics for their views on Church teaching and practices.

 

 BY PETER JESSERER SMITH Staff Writer

 

Pope Francis Portrait Painting

Pope Francis Portrait Painting (Photo credit: faithmouse)

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis wants to know about the state of marriage and the family in the Church, before the bishops meet in Rome for an extraordinary synod next year. However, the lay faithful should not expect to be receiving a survey on their views from the Vatican anytime soon. 

For one thing, the Vatican’s survey is being handled at the diocesan level, and the aim is to collect raw data, not opinions on Church doctrine or discipline, in advance of the 2014 synod. The data will help inform the bishops as they develop pastoral solutions for the challenges faced by modern families.

“Each bishop determines what is the most useful and reasonable manner of consultation to assist him in preparing his report for the Vatican,” said Don Clemmer, assistant director of media relations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Clemmer said once a diocese completes its report, the data will be sent back to the USCCB and then forwarded on to the Vatican.

It is too early to say how each of the U.S. dioceses will handle the questionnaire. The Archdiocese of Denver’s communications office informed the Register that the archdiocese is studying how best to approach the questionnaire and will be forming a plan over the next few weeks. In the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., according to the communications office, Bishop Kevin Rhoades has not yet had an opportunity to meet with his cabinet to discuss how they will gather the survey data.

The Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., said that it will be distributing the survey to all priests and deacons in its 15 counties and that it may include those involved in parish marriage ministries as well.

“It will be a big job to read and compile all the surveys in the short time allotted, but I feel that it will be worth it to share this information about marriage in central Pennsylvania with the larger Church,” said Victoria Laskowski, the diocese’s director of marriage and family ministries.

The responses from all the dioceses have to be returned to the Vatican by the end of January 2014.

2014 Synod

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Fr...

emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys Français : emblème pontifical Italiano: emblema del Papato Português: Emblema papal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The synod is set for Oct. 5-19 and will focus on “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The bishops and Pope Francis will discuss pastoral responses to the problems of divorce and same-sex “marriage,” as well as other challenges to the health of families.

The 39 questions in the Vatican survey form part of a preparatory document that addresses such topics as “Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations,” the “Union of Persons of the Same Sex,” the “Education of Children in Irregular Marriages,” “Openness of the Married Couple to Life” and the “Relationship Between the Family and the Person.”

“This is huge, to have an extraordinary synod focused specifically on the family,” said Bill May, president of Catholics for the Common Good, a lay apostolate focused on evangelizing the culture.

May is the author of a recent book called Getting the Marriage Conversation Right, and his organization has been focused on presenting the Church’s teachings on marriage and family in a compelling way.

“The questionnaire reflects an interest in trying to understand the problems of the family more deeply as they try to prepare and address it,” he said.

Misunderstandings

Vatican City

Vatican City (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The Vatican’s worldwide survey, however, has been misunderstood by others and inaccurately described in a number of media outlets as an opinion survey or a poll of the views lay Catholics may have on marriage, family and sexuality.

Vatican officials involved with preparing for the synod have made clear that the preparatory document and questionnaire are geared toward finding pastoral solutions for the modern challenges to the family, not altering Church teaching.

Cardinal Péter Erdő, primate of Hungary, said at a Nov. 5 press conference that the aim of the Vatican survey is to obtain “concrete and real data” from dioceses to inform the synod’s discussions.

“The document contains, as well as a general presentation on the matter, various essential biblical and magisterial quotations on the theme as well as a questionnaire on the main challenges regarding the family,” Cardinal Erdő said.

One lay Catholic organization, however, has taken upon itself to publish an online version of the survey. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good — a separate and distinct organization unrelated to Catholics for the Common Good — has posted a truncated version of the Vatican questionnaire, under a heading that reads, “Communicating the Sense of the Faithful in the United States to Pope Francis.” The organization says it will send the responses to the USCCB “and to the appropriate officials in the Vatican, including the Holy Father himself.”

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has been criticized by some Catholic observers, who note that it is a politically partisan group that has acted to undermine Church teachings on abortion.

During the 2008 election campaign, then-Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver publicly criticized the organization, commenting that “… the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue, instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.”

Only a Preparatory Document

However, it appears unlikely that anything other than the diocesan responses to the official Vatican survey will be considered.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi explained that the Vatican questionnaire is “only a document sent to bishops’ conferences throughout the world” to help prepare for the extraordinary synod.

The USCCB Office of Communications also said it could not comment about third-party surveys — only on the official survey being sent to the bishops.

Pope Francis’ call for an extraordinary synod of bishops in 2014 was announced by the Vatican in October.

The synod’s discussions on the family are expected to be taken up again in 2015, at the regular worldwide synod of bishops, which falls on the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the synodal system by Pope Paul VI.

Source: Catholic News Register

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Pope Francis

Pope Francis

There are more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide, and Pope Francis wants to know what they think — all of them. The Holy Father is having surveys sent to parishes all over the world, asking for churchgoers thoughts on previously avoided family topics. It’s a clear break with tradition, given that the Catholic Church isn’t usually known for being a grassroots organization. Francis wants to know what his flock thinks about same-sex marriage, divorce, single parents and other family issues that common in 21st-century life.

 
It’s not clear what, if any, changes might come from the surveys, but sometimes it’s enough to just ask the questions and take it from there, particularly on touchy topics. Boston College theology professor Thomas Groome told NBC News, “All of these things have been closed issues and you could be fired for even talking about them. Raising these questions and polling people — it at least signals something other than a closed mind.” 

 

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By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, AP

Pope Benedict XVI appealed for peace Friday at a time of deep turmoil in the Middle East, calling the flow ofweapons into Syriaa “grave sin” as the country endures a bloody civil war.

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The pope arrived in Lebanon for a three-day visit despite the recent unrest in region — including the war in neighboring Syria, a mob attack that killed several Americans in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador, and a stringof violent protests across the region stemming from an anti-Islam film.

“I have come to Lebanon as a pilgrim of peace,” the pope said upon his arrival in Beirut.

“As a friend of God and as a friend of men.”

But just hours after his arrival, violence erupted in northern Lebanon over the anti-Islam film produced in the United States called “Innocence of Muslims.” The movie ridicules the Prophet Muhammad, portraying him as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.

According to Lebanese security officials, a crowd angry over the film set fire Friday to a KFC and an Arby’s restaurant in the northeastern city of Tripoli, sparking clashes with police. Police then opened fire, killing one of the attackers, the officials said.

At least 25 people were wounded in the melee, including 18 police who were hit with stones and glass. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to brief the media.

Lebanese authorities enacted stringent security measures for the pope, suspending weapons permits except for politicians’ bodyguards and confining the visit to central Lebanon and the northern Christian areas. Army and police patrols were stationed along the airport road.

Speaking to reporters aboard his plane, the pope, who is 85, said he never considered canceling the trip for security reasons, adding that “no one ever advised (me) to renounce this trip and personally, I have never considered this.”

The pope denounced religious fundamentalism, calling it “a falsification of religion.”

He also praised the Arab Spring uprisings, which have ousted four long-time dictators.

“It is the desire for more democracy, for more freedom, for more cooperation and for a renewed Arab identity,” the pope said.

The turmoil stemming from the Arab Spring has deeply unsettled the Middle East’s Christian population, which fears being in the cross-fire of rival Muslim groups.

Lebanon has the largest percentage of Christians in the Mideast — nearly 40 percent of Lebanon’s 4 million people, with Maronite Catholics being the largest sect. Lebanon is the only Arab country with a Christian head of state.

Benedict, the third pope to visit Lebanon after Paul VI in 1964 and John Paul II in 1997, will be addressing concerns by the region’s bishops over the plight of Christians in the Middle East. War, political instability and economic hardships have driven thousands from their traditional communities, dating to early Christianity in the Holy Land, Iraq and elsewhere.

Also Friday, the pope called for an end to weapons imports to Syria. Syria’s rebels have said they desperately need weapons to fight Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s authoritarian regime.

“The import of weapons must be stopped, because without the weapons import the war could not continue,” he said. “Instead of the weapons import, which is a grave sin, we should import ideas of peace and creativity and find solutions to accept each other with our differences.”

The pontiff was welcomed by top leaders, including the Lebanese president, prime minister and parliament speaker, as well as Christian and Muslim religious leaders. Cannons fired a 21-shots salute for the pope.

“Let me assure you that I pray especially for the many people who suffer in this region,” he said upon arrival.

After a ceremony at the airport, Bendict’s convoy drove through Beirut as army aircraft flew overhead for protection. The pope was on his way to the mountain town of Harisa, where he will stay at the Vatican embassy.

The papal visit comes amid fears that Syria’s conflict might spill over to Lebanon. Clashes in Lebanon between Syrian groups over the past months have claimed the lives of more than two dozen people and left scores wounded.

The Christian community in Lebanon is divided between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Among Assad’s supporters is former Lebanese prime minister and army commander Michel Aoun, a strong ally of the militant Hezbollah group.

Hezbollah’s leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah welcomed the pontiff’s visit, describing it as “extraordinary and historic.” “I cannot forget the sad and painful events which have affected your beautiful country along the years,” Benedict XVI said, referring to Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war that left about 150,000 people dead.

“Looking at your country, I also come symbolically to all countries of the Middle East as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of all inhabitants of all the countries of the region, whatever their origins and beliefs,” he said.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi did not rule out that the pope would meet some supporters of Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group that has risen steadily over the decades from anti-Israel resistance group into Lebanon’s most powerful military and political force. The U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Lombardi declined to say what the Vatican’s position is on the group.

Source; Associated Press

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Humanae Vitae (Latin: Of Human Life)

Pope Paul VI Issued Humanae Vitae on 25 July 1968

Summary

Affirmation of traditional teaching

In this encyclical Paul VI reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s traditional view of marriage and marital relations and a continued condemnation of artificial birth control. There were two Papal committees and numerous independent experts looking into the latest advancement of science and medicine on the question of artificial birth control,[2] which were noted by the Pope in his encyclical.[3] The expressed views of Paul VI reflected the teachings of his predecessors, especially Pius XI,[4]Pius XII[5] and John XXIII,[6] all of whom had insisted on the divine obligations of the marital partners in light of their partnership with God the creator.

Doctrinal Basis

Paul VI himself, even as commission members issued their personal views over the years, always reaffirmed the teachings of the Church, repeating them more than once in the first years of his Pontificate.[7]

To Pope Paul VI, as with of all his predecessors, marital relations are much more than a union of two people. They constitute a union of the loving couple with a loving God, in which the two persons create a new person materially, while God completes the creation by adding the soul. For this reason, Paul VI teaches in the first sentence of Humanae Vitae, that the transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator.[8] This is divine partnership, so Paul VI does not allow for arbitrary human decisions, which may limit divine providence. The Pope does not paint an overly romantic picture of marriage: Marital relations are a source of great joy, but also of difficulties and hardships.[8] The question of human procreation, exceeds in the view of Paul VI specific disciplines such as biology, psychology, demography or sociology.[9] According to Paul VI, married love takes its origin from God, who “is love”, and from this basic dignity, he defines his position:

  • Love is total — that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner’s own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself.[10]

The encyclical opens with an assertion of the competency of the

English: Pope Paul VI

English: Pope Paul VI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

magisterium of the Catholic Church to decide questions of morality. It then goes on to observe that circumstances often dictate that married couples should limit the number of children, and that the sexual act between husband and wife is still worthy even if it can be foreseen not to result in procreation. Nevertheless, it is held that the sexual act must “retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life”, and the “direct interruption of the generative process already begun” is unlawful.[citation needed]

Every action specifically intended to prevent procreation is forbidden, except in medically necessary circumstances. Therapeutic means necessary to cure diseases are exempted, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result, but only if infertility is not directly intended.[11] This includes both chemical and barrier methods of contraception.[citation needed] All these are held to directly contradict the “moral order which was established by God”. Abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, is absolutely forbidden, as is sterilization, even if temporary. Therapeutic means which induce infertility are allowed (e.g., hysterectomy), if they are not specifically intended to cause infertility (e.g., the uterus is cancerous, so the preservation of life is intended). Natural family planning methods (abstaining from intercourse during certain parts of the menstrual cycle) are allowed, since they take advantage of “a faculty provided by nature.”[citation needed]

The acceptance of artificial methods of birth control is then claimed to result in several negative consequences, among them a “general lowering of moral standards” resulting from sex without consequences, and the danger that men may reduce women “to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of [their] own desires”; finally, abuse of power by public authorities, and a false sense of autonomy.[12]

Appeal to natural law and conclusion

Public authorities should oppose laws which undermine natural law;[13] scientists should further study effective methods of natural birth control; doctors should further familiarize themselves with this teaching, in order to be able to give advice to their patients,[14] priests must spell out clearly and completely the Church’s teaching on marriage.[15] The encyclical acknowledges that “perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching”, but points out that the Roman Catholic Church cannot “declare lawful what is in fact unlawful”, because she is concerned with “safeguarding the holiness of marriage, in order to guide married life to its full human and Christian perfection.”[16] This is to be the priority for his fellow bishops and priests and lay people. The Pope predicts that future progress in social cultural and economic spheres will make marital and family life more joyful, provided God’s design for the world is faithfully followed.[16] The encyclical closes with an appeal to observe the natural laws of the Most High God. These laws must be wisely and lovingly observed.[17]

 

 
 
 

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Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Jul 29, 2012 / 11:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI called for an immediate halt to “all violence and shedding of blood” in Syria during his weekly Angelus address on Sunday. 

“I ask God to give the wisdom of the heart, especially for those who have the greatest responsibilities, so that no effort is spared in the quest for peace, including the international community, through dialogue and reconciliation, for a proper political settlement of the conflict,” said the Pope to pilgrims at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo July 29. 

His comments come as government forces and rebels battle for control of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. The armed revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011 and has since claimed over 10,000 lives according to latest U.N. estimates. Opposition forces claim the true figure is nearer to 20,000. 

The Pope said that he has been following events “with concern” for the “growing and tragic episodes of violence in Syria” which have created a “sad sequence of deaths and injuries among civilians.” He also lamented the large number of internally displaced people and refugees who have moved to neighboring countries. 

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

He called for humanitarian assistance to be provided to those in need and he assured those suffering of his prayers. 

The situation in Syria has been a consistent feature of Pope Benedict’s comments in recent months. In July he expressed a fear that the internal conflict “risks becoming a generalized conflict which would have highly negative consequences for the country and the entire region.” 

In June he called upon the international community to “spare no efforts to resolve this crisis through dialogue and reconciliation.” 

Earlier in his Angelus address, Pope Benedict reflected on Sunday’s gospel in which St. John recounted Christ’s feeding of the five thousand by the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The Pope described the episode as “a sign of God’s immeasurable providence in the Eucharist.” 

Source: Catholic News Agency

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