Death of Saint Emily de Vialar, religious founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition, dedicated to the care of the sick and downtrodden as well as the education of young French children. Forty houses were opened throughout the world from France to Burma to Australia. She was canonized in 1951 by Pope Pius XII.
Rome suffers another setback when it is announced that Russia's Orthodox Patriarch Alexi II announces he will not meet with the Pope because of continued disputes over confiscated property druing the Communist regime.
John Paul II's days alternate peacefully with prayer, reading, and excursions. Yesterday the papal party enjoyed very good weather and went up to the high Veltellin, on lake Place-Moulin, not far from the Swiss border, the location of a majestic glacier. On the party's return, at the last curve on the road before reaching the chalet, the Pope was awaited by a considerable group of people, including children. All was very sedate, giving the security service no occasion for real apprehension. The closest anyone came to the Pope was to give him a bunch of flowers.
Today, the party went on a similar outing, although the ultimate destiny was kept secret. Locals ventured all kinds of guesses, discounting places already visited. There were those who were convinced he had gone to the Valleys of the Great Paradise, yet everyone kept to the reserve and discretion that are now categorical imperatives.
On the other hand, today, on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the monastery of the Mother of Mercy in Quart, where John Paul II will pray the "Angelus" next Sunday, was full of bustle. On July 16, 1989, exactly ten years ago, John Paul II inaugurated this Carmelite cloister, which at present houses ten nuns who are already preparing for Sunday's "Angelus": hundreds of faithful from the Valley of Aosta are expected. The warning is out: roads that access this small community, which is very near to the town, will be cut off from the early hours of the morning. ZE99071604
The letter emphasizes the importance of preaching, and the need for preparation in terms of content and presentation. The document suggests "the preparation of an outline of what is to be said"; the homily must be "positive and stimulating," using proper and elegant language that can be understood by all sectors of our contemporaries, avoiding banality and a hip tone."
The letter draws a comparison with the media. The "professionals of audiovisual media prepare well for their work. It would not be an exaggeration for the teachers of the Word to study with intelligence and patience the improvement of the 'professional' quality of this aspect of their ministry."
The letter also stresses the importance of sacramental celebrations, especially to attract those who are most distanced to a more regular religious practice. The "quality of the celebration" is recommended, the need to insist on the obligation to fulfill religious precepts, catechesis on the "conditions to receive the fruit of communion" and the re-launching of the sacrament of confession.
"To offer all the faithful the real possibility to go to confession requires great dedication of time," says the letter, and, because of this, "it is strongly recommended that fixed periods of time be established for presence in the confessional" that everyone will be aware of through "clear, broad and convenient schedules."
"As Jesus taught," the exercise of priestly authority "is never oppressive but reflects availability and a spirit of service." Consequently, priests should avoid "interfering in temporal questions, such as those of the socio-political order, which God has given to men." Even when they enjoy "considerable prestige with civilian authorities" they must use it with humility and to collaborate actively in the soul's salvation.
The letter also dedicates space to the question of authority. The priest must "not be afraid to exercise his authority in areas where he must do so, because this is why he has been given authority," but "he must avoid introducing into his pastoral ministry extemporaneous forms of authoritarianism as well as democratic ways of managing his work, which are foreign to the profound meaning of his ministry."
To act in these ways would end in the "secularization of the priest" and the "clericalization of the laity." Priests do not always want to exercise the authority they have been given. Behind this kind of behavior might be a "hidden fear to take on responsibilities, to make mistakes, to be unappreciated, to go out and meet the cross," the letter conjectures. In other words, neither authoritarianism nor imitation should be part of a priest's approach.
The document concludes by emphasizing the importance of the priest's witness to the faithful. They "see (observe!) and feel (listen!) not only when God's Word is preached but also when the different liturgical celebrations are carried out, when they are received in the parish office, where they hope to meet with welcome and affability; when they see that the priest eats and rests and are edified by his example of sobriety and temperance; when they find him at home and rejoice to see the priestly simplicity and poverty in which he lives; when they see him dress with propriety, order and in his proper suit, when they speak with him, including on everyday topics and are comforted by his supernatural vision, the sensitivity and human style with which he addresses even the most humble people, reflecting authentic priestly nobility."
In practical terms, the letter proposes an evangelical style, which is a requirement to insure that the "grace of the altar" will reach everywhere, from schools and youth activities to the media and hospitals. ZE99071605
Recently the first volume of the "Martyrologium Germanicum," entitled "German Catholic Martyrs of the 20th Century," was published, which confirms the Catholic position during the dictatorship. The "Martyrologium" was undertaken at the express request of John Paul II who, in his apostolic letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente" dated November 10, 1994, exhorted the local Churches to discover their martyrs of this century.
Cardinal Joachim Meisner, president of the Liturgical Commission of the German Conference of Bishops, asked Auxiliary Bishop Helmut Moll of Cologne, to coordinate the research. Bishop Moll is a theological consultant of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The investigation, carried out over three years, produced notable results that caused surprise even among those directly involved with the work. In this century alone, Germany has had 700 martyrs, including priests, religious and laity, which proves, as Cardinal Meisner stated when presenting the first volume, that "the Catholic Church does not have to be ashamed of its role during the course of this century."
The 700 martyrs are divided into four categories. Those who died under Stalinism, women who were raped, missionaries, and the victims of Nazism (1933-1945), the latter being the largest group. Of the more than 300 martyrs of Nazism, 123 were laymen who went to their death for their faith, in opposition to the dictatorship.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper "Avvenire," Bishop Moll stated that "No one would ever have expected such a large number, no one especially would have thought that so many laymen gave their life as a witness of faith against Nazism." Moll was proud to announce that there is not a single diocese in Germany that did not contribute a martyr.
"The Church and Catholics did not understand immediately the negative extent of the Nazi ideology. But it was not long before they did. As soon as Fritz Michael Gerlich of Stettin, director of the newspaper 'Der Gerade Weg' [The Narrow Way], was arrested and died in Dachau in July 1934, people realized that the Hitler regime was in open conflict with the Catholic world," the Bishop said.
"Our research revealed how a good part of the laity and clergy carried out an important and convincing battle against the Nazi ideology," he added.
Proof of this is the list of martyrs in the first volume of the martyrology, among which are well-known names of personalities who have already been beatified, such as Edith Stein, a Jewish convert who died in Auschwitz in 1942; Canon Bernhard Lichtenberg of the Berlin Cathedral, who died in prison for having celebrated a Mass for the Jews following Kristallnacht on November 8-9, 1938; and Karl Leisner, the young deacon from Berlin who was arrested for his faith, secretly ordained a priest in Dachau, and died in a hospital after celebrating only one Mass.
Among the laity, the book names the married couple Maria and Bernhard Kreulich, who were killed in March, 1944, for criticizing the regime. Nicholas Gross, father of 7 children and editor of "Kettelerwache," the organ of the Association of German Catholic Workers, was killed in the Plotzensee Berlin jail in January, 1945. There were also youths, like the l7-year-old apprentice Heinz-Udo Hallau from Bielefeld, and Elfriede Goldschmidt and Walter Klingebenck, both 19 years old and from Munich.
The next two volumes of the "Martyrologium," to be published in November, will give detailed biographies of the martyrs known to date. Needless to say, "in carrying out the research on the 20th century martyrs, we have gathered much information that will be useful for the new beatification causes, some of which are already underway, Bishop Moll noted.
The work has been very great indeed, because Nazism confronted a vast number of priests: there are reports of 12,000 cases of religious who were victims of persecution and maltreatment by the regime -- about 36% of the diocesan clergy at the time. ZE99071607
The Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute said the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has used the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) to put pressure on the 163 countries that have ratified it to implement their vision of feminism. The committee recently directed the government of Libya to reinterpret the Koran, the sacred text of Islam, "in light of the provisions of the Convention."
Although not mentioned in CEDAW, the committee has claimed abortion as a fundamental human right and has directed a number of governments to change their restrictive laws. The committee complained to Mexico about "the lack of access for women" to easy and swift abortion. The Committee criticized Italy for allowing doctors to claim "conscientious objection" in performing abortions.
The Committee criticized Croatia for allowing "church-related organizations to adversely influence" women's rights. It told the Dominican Republic that an "intermingling of the secular and religious spheres" is a "serious impediment to implementing the Convention."
The group also admonished Armenia to "use the educational system and electronic media to combat the traditional stereotype of women 'in the noble role of mother,'" and the Czech Republic was criticized for "over-protective measures for pregnancy and motherhood." The committee's mandate is to oversee the advancement of women's status in the world, by requiring signatory states to report how they work for "equality in public life ... [and] also in private life."
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