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April 19, 1999
SECTION TWO vol 10, no. 76
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION THREE and SECTION ONE
Benin's Cardinal Bernardin Gantin represents a "tree of iron" as Dean of the College of Cardinals
Our fourty-fifth red hat we feature, in alphabetical order is 77 year-old Cardinal Bernardin Gantin current Dean of the College of Cardinals and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He is considered by many the "cornerstone" of the new, positive African influence on the Church. He was elevated to the cardinalate on June 27, 1977 during the last Consistory held by Pope Paul VI. For more on Cardinal Gantin, click on COLLEGE OF CARDINALS COLLECTION
45. Cardinal Bernardin Gantin
At 77, Benin's Cardinal Bernardin Gantin is the Dean of the College of Cardinals. The influence of the Ivory Coast has been felt in Rome through the work of Gantin who was born on May 8, 1922 in the village of Toffo, Benin in the Archdiocese of Cotonou. His father was a railroad worker and his name is appropriate, meaning "Tree" (Gan) "of iron" (tin). He has been a tree of iron for the Church. Hearing the call he entered minor seminary at 14 and was ordained at the age of 29. He taught language at the seminary until Pope Pius XII summoned him two years later to Rome to study there at the College of St. Peter. While there he obtained his degrees in Theology and Canon Law from the Pontifical Urban University and Lateran University before being named titular Bishop of Tipasa di Mauritania and auxilary bishop of his home archdiocese of Cotonou on February 3, 1957. Three years later on January 5, 1960 he was assigned Archbishop of Cotonou where he would remain for the next eleven years, devoting his episcopasy to meeting the needs of all his flock, especially the native nuns and clerics. He also served as president of the Regional Episcopal Conference of the Ivory Coast during this time. In 1971 another Pope called him to Rome - this time Pope Paul VI who appointed him Secretary of the Vatican's Propaganda Fide which Pope John Paul II reorganized on June 28, 1988 calling it the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
In 1975 the Holy Father promoted him to Vice-President of the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace and a year later he became President of the same commission where he would remain until 1984 in that capacity. In Paul VI's final Consistory, Cardinal Gantin was honored with the cardinalate and received his red-hat on June 27, 1977 receiving the titular church of the Sacred Heart of Christ the King as a cardinal deacon. On April 8, 1984 John Paul II promoted him to the dual role of Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, a position Cardinal Gantin still holds. On September 29, 1986 he was transferred to the order of cardinal bishops and received the titular bishopric of the Suburbicarian See of Palestrina. Seven years after that on June 5, 1993 he was elected the Dean of the body of bishops comprising the Sacred Conclave.
Other curial responsibilities include membership in the second section of the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic LIfe, and the Congregation for Catholic Education. He also is extremely involved in the Apostolic Signatura Tribunal and the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. All in all, few prelates have been as involved in so many aspects of Church life than Cardinal Gantin but his age precludes him from becoming the first African papal possibility. Yet it could open the door for other fellow black prelates, most notable being Cardinal Francis Arinze and Cardinal Alexandre do Nascimento.
Benin's Catholics encompass 21 per cent of the population in this fairly small country on the Ivory Coast that up until 1976 was known as Dahomey. It is a Democratic republic in west Africa bordering on the Atlantic to the south. The majority of Christians in Benin are Catholic and the hierarchy was established in 1955 with Cardinal Gantin being in on the ground-floor. Missionary efforts began in the sixteenth century and continued sporadically through the eighteenth century. It was in 1861 during the papacy of Pope Pius IX that the country was effectively evangelized. Today the capitol is Porto Novo on the coast where the Archdiocese of Cotonou has it headquarters.
Events Today in Church History
On this date in 1054 Pope Saint Leo IX died. As the 152nd successor of Peter, he took the bitter but necessary step of excommunicating the Eastern Patriarch Michel Cerularius which began the Eastern Schism still in effect today. For other pertinent events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES
Historical Events in Church Annals for April 19:
Death of Saint Alphege, also Elphege, a Benedictine monk who became the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was martyred for his faith by the Danes.
Death of Pope Saint Leo IX, the 152nd successor of Peter. It was Leo who excommunicated Michael Cerularius who became the Eastern Patriarch and caused the great schism between East and West that exists to this day. Born in Lorraine, he was freely elected by the clergy and people of Rome on March 12, 1049. Before he entered Rome, while at the gates of Rome, he divested his sandals and walked bare-foot to the Lateran as a sign of humility. Though humble, he was staunch on defending the faith and that included taking on Cerularius.
Eight years after the Diet of Worms by the Holy Roman Emperor a protestation was published against it and from that evolved the term "Protestant."
Birth of Saint Felix of Valois, a French hermit who, along with Saint John of Malta would found the Order of the Most Holy Trinity, also known as Trinitarians whose specific mission was to ransom captives from the Moors
Today is the Third Monday of Easter and tomorrow we continue in Pascaltide with the Third Tuesday of Easter. For the readings, liturgies, and meditations, click on DAILY LITURGY.
Monday, April 19, 1999
First Reading: Acts 6: 8-15
Psalms: Psalm 119: 1, 23-24, 26-27, 29-30
Gospel Reading: John 6: 22-29
Tuesday, April 20, 1999
First Reading: Acts 7: 51-60; 8: 1
Psalms: Psalm 31: 3-4, 6-8, 17, 21
Gospel Reading: John 6: 30-35
PRAYERS & DEVOTION
Today we continue a short series of Responsory Prayers during Paschaltide adapted from the Byzantine Liturgy:
This day was made by the Lord, Alleluia. Let us rejoice and be glad in it, Alleluia. Risen from the font of baptism, the newborn lambs shout "Alleluia."
SIMPLY SHEEN:We must take care not to be too full of ourselves?
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the words of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen have been known to launch a thousand images in one's mind, one of the ways this late luminary did so much to evangelize the faith. Because of the urgency of the times and because few there are today who possess the wisdom, simplicity and insight than the late Archbishop who touched millions, we are bringing you daily gems from his writings. The good bishop makes it so simple that we have dubbed this daily series: "SIMPLY SHEEN".
"Nothing so stands in the way of our progress towards God as egotism, and the egotist is always full of self-deceit, of "sacred" faults he will not renounce, nor even admit he has. That is why the egotist in all of us requires a pitiless searching-out of every hidden nook and corner of our mind."
"Do not grumble, or judge, for God alone sees the heart. The trials increase for all. Therefore, pray! Pray! Pray!"
Those words from the Blessed Mother were imparted to the Hidden Flower of the Immaculate Heart in Message #483 five years ago on the Third Sunday of Easter on April 17, 1994 as Our Lady beseeches us to toe the line and pray especially for her beloved Pope John Paul II. In her follow-up Message #484 on April 21, 1994 Mary asks us to not allow satan to be able to divide and conquer for that is what causes her such sorrow. She again asks for our prayers and our faith in the battle with the evil one. For Messages #483 and #484 from Jesus, click on "I SOLEMNLY TELL YOU..."
Messages 483 and 484
Message Four Hundred-eighty-three, April 17, 1994
(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart of Mary)
(THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER)
Beloved Hidden Flower of my Immaculate Heart, I remain always your Mother.
Please tell all of my children that my tears flow with their own. I, too, feel the anguish of their hearts, for their sorrow rises as holy incense before the throne of God.
I am beseeching all of my little ones to pray unceasingly, particularly for my beloved holy son, Pope John Paul II. I ask in your prayers to come often to my Son in the Blessed Sacrament and to seek the help of Almighty God for His Vicar on earth. I ask you not to be confused or distraught, but remain ever-faithful obedient little children to my beloved Pope John Paul II. Do not let your minds seek to question that which has happened. Know that God knows all things and His Plan of Salvation shall remain steadfast.
I need your obedience in the midst of your pain. I need your faithful
prayers, your absolute trust and undying love. Only in this way are you joined to my Divine Son's Passion and thereby help my Immaculate Heart to triumph more quickly.
Convert your hearts. Speak very little and then only of God and of holy things. Do not grumble, or judge, for God alone sees the heart. The trials increase for all. Therefore, pray! Pray! Pray!
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
Message Four Hundred-eighty-four, April 21, 1994
(Imparted to the Hidden Flower by the Immaculate Heart of Mary)
(Feast of Saint Anselm)
Beloved Hidden Flower, I am here beside you. I bless you as I bless all of my little ones.
O! How I weep. There is no where left where the evil one has not infiltrated, and the enemy divides through confusion and chaos. O! I weep because my children do not pray from their hearts and are therefore interpreting all things on a totally human, finite and fallible basis. I weep because I have come to call all back to my Divine Son. I have come to call many to join together in love as the first Christians lived, desirous through their self-sacrifice to be abandoned only to the will of Almighty God.
I solemnly tell you, you have not yet understood what my words mean when I speak of unity of mind and heart through the grace of the Holy Spirit. You must pray more and be more humble and contrite. If you do not, you shall not understand my words, nor will you trust in them. I solemnly tell all the world - time is very short and if you are not in prayer, supportive of one another in mercy, even the strongest and wisest shall be deceived. The gossip and slander is not merely a fault, it is the root of many sins. Guard well your tongues, for all shall be made known on the last day.
I remain with you to help you. But I need your prayers and your faith.
If it is lacking, then you are satan's prey.
I love and bless you. Thank you for responding to my Call!
Daily Dose of curious contents of the Church:
College of Cardinals
Today's featured cardinal Cardinal Bernardin Gantin has been the Dean of the College of Cardinals since June 5, 1993. Selection, rank, roles and preogatives for this august body are regulated by Canons 349 through 359 in the Code of Canon Law. This venerable group had its origins at the turn of the first century when Pope Saint Evaristus founded the first seven diaconates entrusted to senior priests. It would be constituted in its current form and categories of membership during the twelfth century, specifically during the papacy of Pope Alexander III in 1179 when he decreed that the selection of cardinals would be reserved exclusively for the Pope to choose. In 1586, Pope Sixtus V set the maximum number of cardinals at seventy. In 1918 Pope Benedict XV established that cardinals must be priests and Pope John XXIII in 1962 decreed that all cardinals be bishops. Presently there are 117 eligible cardinals out of 158 today. As we detailed in past issues, since 1971 the age limit has been 80. Once they reach that age, they can no longer take part in papal elections or hold office or membership in curial departments. They do, however, retain all membership privileges of the College of Cardinals. There are three categories of cardinals, cardinal bishops, comprisinging 6 titular bishops of suburban Rome, cardinal priests made up of bishops outside of Rome, and cardinal deacons who serve in the Curia. For more we recommend New Advent Catholic Supersite on the Sacred Conclave. (source: 1999 Catholic Almanac, Our Sunday Visitor; ).
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April 19, 1999 volume 10, no. 76 DAILY CATHOLIC