Nation and World News

Priest reflects on spiritual message in U2 lyrics

As a college student in the 1980s, Father Erich Rutten first associated the Irish rock band U2 with

Lebanese patriarch urges evangelization

The Maronite Catholic patriarch, visiting from Lebanon to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the first Maronite diocese in the United States, thanked Americans for their efforts to support Lebanon and urged American Maronites to

Pope offers indulgence for praying for families

To encourage Catholics to attend the Fifth World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain, and to recite prayers with their families, Pope Benedict XVI is offering a special spiritual gift, the Vatican said.

Observers react to Episcopal election

The U.S. Episcopal Church

World and National News Briefs

Archbishop Wuerl takes D.C. helm

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl began his ministry as head of the Washington Archdiocese by pledging to make the Church’s voice heard in public debates and by recognizing the multi-ethnic nature of area Catholics. At a June 22 installation Mass attended by nine cardinals as well as government officials and foreign ambassadors stationed in the nation’s capital, the new archbishop called on archdiocesan Catholics to help him carry out his responsibilities. Each Catholic has the "weighty charge" of living the Gospel and unfolding "its implications for the issues and circumstances of our time," said Archbishop Wuerl in his homily during the Mass celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. "God’s wisdom must impact on the life of society," he said.

Pope says Baltic states need values

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Without the traditional values of respect for life, for marriage and for family, people risk placing themselves under "the tyranny of instability," Pope Benedict XVI told bishops from the Baltic nations. The pope met June 23 with the bishops of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at the end of their "ad limina" visits to Rome to report on the status of their dioceses. Pope Benedict told them their reports highlighted the fact that abortion and the disintegration of families were serious challenges both for the Church and society in the three former Soviet republics. The countries, he said, are suffering "from the fragility of conjugal bonds, the plague of abortion and the demographic crisis, from scant attention paid to the transmission of authentic values to one’s children, the precariousness of jobs" and mobility that breaks up extended family networks. "A modernity that is not rooted in authentic human values is destined to be dominated by the tyranny of instability" and a widespread sense of being lost, he said.

Don’t fry Saddam, Vatican official says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — No one should be put to death, not even former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, said Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the pontifical councils for Interreligious Dialogue and for Culture. "The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church itself and the pope reaffirm that every person is a creature of God and that no one but the Creator can claim to be the lord of the life and death of another," the cardinal said June 21 in an interview with the Italian news agency ANSA. "Every creature, even the most wretched, was created in the image and likeness of God," the French cardinal said. "God is the master of life and death." The Italian bishops’ daily newspaper, published an editorial June 20 calling for the life imprisonment and not the execution of Saddam.

Hundreds pray after shrine graffiti attack

HUBERTUS, Wis. (CNS) — More than 800 people joined Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in celebrating a Mass of reparation June 10 at the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians, four days after vandals sprayed graffiti on signs and the Stations of the Cross at the historic shrine. In the opening prayer, the archbishop invited the standing-room-only group of worshippers to pray "that the invisible power of Christ will reclaim this sanctuary from the forces of evil, darkness, hatred and sin." During his homily, Archbishop Dolan said, "Satan was thrilled Tuesday as he had his hour; but Satan is crushed now because this entire community has expressed its outrage, has condemned this sacrilege, has renewed its faith, and has whispered a prayer: Be gone, Satan." The archbishop said that good would come out of the vandalism. "We are reminded that evil exists, that hell exists, that Satan exists, and that he, while not invincible, is mighty strong," Archbishop Dolan said, adding, "The greatest weapon Satan has is to coax us to believe he does not exist."

Pope visits home turf on Sept. 9-14

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican officially has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI’s fourth foreign trip will be a Sept. 9-14 visit to Germany. The brief announcement June 24 said the pope will visit Munich, Altotting and Regensburg, all in the Bavarian region where he was born. He served as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1981, when Pope John Paul II named him prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Earlier he taught theology at Regensburg University. His parents are buried in Regensburg, and his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, still lives in the city. The Vatican has not released a detailed itinerary for the September trip.

Vatican advances sainthood causes

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI has advanced the sainthood causes of scores of Spanish martyrs, an Italian martyr killed in Africa, seven founders of religious orders, three women religious, and two 19th-century laypeople. The Vatican published decrees the pope promulgated June 26 in the presence of Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes. The pope advanced the cause of 149 Spanish martyrs, mostly men religious, killed during the country’s 1936-1939 civil war. The Vatican also published a decree recognizing the martyrdom of the Italian missionary of the Servants of the Poor, Father Francesco Spoto. Born in 1924, the missionary priest went to serve in the Democratic Republic of Congo despite the risk of impending political upheaval at the start of the 1960s. He was wounded and later died in 1964 during the civil war in what was then called Belgian Congo.

Pope picks Vatican secretary of state

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI reached outside the Vatican diplomatic corps last week and appointed Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa as his new secretary of state.

The Vatican’s June 22 announcement said Cardinal Bertone, 71, will succeed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 78, on Sept. 15 when the pope will hold a special audience with the staff of the Secretariat of State to publicly thank Cardinal Sodano for his 15 years "of generous service to the Holy See."

Before going to Genoa in 2002, the cardinal spent seven years as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.

The secretary of state is the pope’s closest collaborator, coordinating the work of the entire Roman Curia, overseeing the operation of the Vatican press office and newspaper, coordinating the preparation and publication of papal documents, and supervising the work of Vatican nuncios both in their relations with the Catholic communities in individual countries and with their governments.

In choosing Cardinal Bertone, a Salesian, the pope chose a man with whom he already had a proven working relationship as well as a prelate with pastoral experience in a diocese, expertise as an educator and with a reputation of being energetic and pragmatic.

While his diplomatic experience has been limited, as archbishop of Genoa he has traveled widely, including a trip to Cuba last October.

Cardinal Bertone, who went to the Caribbean country with two Genoa priests about to begin work as missionaries in Cuba, met privately with President Fidel Castro.

"Castro asked me to transmit an invitation to visit Cuba to Pope Benedict, who he said inspires in him friendship and trust," Cardinal Bertone told the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire after the trip.

The cardinal said Castro paid tribute to the Church’s social service efforts, saying that when it comes to working among the poor and needy "the Church is ahead of all of us."

Internationally, though, Cardinal Bertone is best known for his work in the doctrinal congregation.

As secretary of the congregation from 1995 to 2002, he helped work out details of norms employed in U.S. dioceses in cases of sexual abuse by priests.

In 2000, he coordinated the publication of the third secret of Fatima, a symbolic prophecy of the Church’s 20th-century struggles with evil political systems and the Church’s ultimate triumph. The pope had sent him to Portugal to review the Vatican’s interpretation with Carmelite Sister Lucia dos Santos, then the only surviving Fatima visionary.

When Sister Lucia died in February 2005, Pope John Paul II asked Cardinal Bertone to preside at her funeral in his name.

In 2002, the cardinal helped guide Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo back into communion with the Church, following Archbishop Milingo’s brief marriage to a Korean follower of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

At the doctrinal congregation, Cardinal Bertone also worked on early drafts of an education congregation document that said homosexual men should not be accepted as seminary candidates. That document was published in November.

Pope John Paul named Cardinal Sodano secretary of state in late 1990; he had been the Vatican’s foreign minister, heading the Secretariat of State’s section for relations with states. He had already spent three decades in the Vatican’s diplomatic service, mainly in Latin America.

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