Pope Saint Denis becomes the 25th successor of Peter. Also called Dionysius, he reorganized the parishes of Rome and obtained liberty for the Christians from Gallienus.
Birth of Saint Philip Neri in Florence, Italy. He would go on to become a Dominican and go on to found the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity - a lay organization dedicated to ministering to needy pilgrims - and eventually he founded the Oratorians and is affectionately known in Italy as the "Apostle of Rome."
Birth of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in Burgundy, France. It would be to this French Visitation nun to whom Jesus would reveal Devotion to the Sacred Heart and First Fridays, which would lead to the establishment of the Feast of the Sacred Heart.
Death of Pope Clement X, 239th successor of Peter. It was Clement who intervened in the election of the King of Poland and obtained the nomination of John Sobiesky, beloved for his profound Christian convictions and because he had defeated the Turks at the battle of Chaezim. He celebrated the 15th Jubilee in 1675.
At this audience, the Pope spoke of Heaven-- which, he reminded his audience, is "not an abstraction but a physical location." The joy of heavenly life, he said, comes from "the fullness of intimacy with God," which is "the end of human existence."
The Holy Father returned to Rome on Tuesday evening after having spent 13 days vacationing in the Italian Alps. During the coming weeks at Castelgandalfo, he will spend a great deal of time preparing for the Jubilee celebrations and for several upcoming pastoral trips. Although only a few papal voyages have been publicly announced, there are expectations around the Vatican that the Pontiff will visit India in November, to promulgate the formal results of the Asian synod which met in Rome last April and May. He also hopes to visit Iraq in November, and the Holy Land in March 2000. Although diplomatic difficulties still hamper the planning for those trips, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls assured reporters that the papal visits are "not politically impossible."
Meanwhile, the Holy Father appeared refreshed by his vacation. On the last day of his stay in the mountains, he encountered a bicyclist-- who, stopping to talk, explained the advanced system of gears that enabled him to pedal comfortably up steep slopes. The Pope, poking fun at his own physical infirmity, remarked, "It's so easy these days, I might try it myself!"
In particular, the magazine refers to professor Luigi Lombardi Vallauri's thesis that "hell is anti-juridical" because it is "an excessive punishment in relation to the faults committed." Vallaurdi is professor of the Philosophy of Law at Florence's State University. Vallaurdi maintains that original sin is an invention of St. Augustine and that "Jesus was completely dominated by the idea of Hell. Very different from the good news! His news is the worst ever announced to man. It is said that Jesus was good and, if anything, that the Church is bad. Wrong. Jesus was very bad."
Because of his thesis, professor Vallaurdi's annually reviewed appointment at the Catholic University of Milan was not renewed in 1988. The professor is also known for rather eccentric behavior, having been photographed with coat and tie -- and bare feet.
Another intellectual with a very relative idea of Hell, is professor Pietro Prini, who sees in the denial of Hell's existence "a sign that the Christian conscience has made great progress in its twenty centuries of history."
According to Vallaurdi and Prini, "Catholic belief in hell is in conflict with justice and a disgrace to the Church."
The editorial staff of "CiviltÓ Cattolica" attempts to clarify the argument: today, without a doubt, the Devil and Hell are fluctuating concepts in people's imagination. Many are no longer certain of anything. "Hell is not a place but a state, a person's way of being, in which he or she suffers the privation of God. Hell is a state of mind, where the sinner lives eternally the despair of not seeing God's face."
"It is important to clarify that it is not God who condemns man to hell, but man who freely condemns himself to eternal perdition," continues the article. "God does not inflict eternal suffering on man; man inflicts it on himself by rejecting the salvation God offers. God is always and forever only love, and his activity is always and forever saving ... God does not want to compel anyone to love him, because love cannot be forced. But by rejecting God's grace, man condemns himself to the privation of God, which is exactly what Hell is. God is absolutely opposed to man's condemnation, and he uses all his omnipotence to prevent a person from being eternally lost; but, having created the human person free, and wanting him to freely choose his own destiny -- because only free choices are worthy of man -- God respects human liberty."
"CiviltÓ Cattolica" reaffirms what John Paul II has always taught. In a recent Wednesday morning general audience, the Pontiff emphasized that on Judgment Day "those destined to resurrection and life" will be separated from "those who will resurrect to condemnation."
The Jesuits point out that "God is not waiting with a gun to send someone who commits a sin to Hell." No, God has created man free, so that he will freely choose his destiny. Therefore, man can sin, make mistakes every now and then, but this is not the kind of sin that condemns him to eternal punishment.
The fatal sentence is passed for "grave, conscious and voluntary sin." It is the supreme sin of the one who "commits an act of pride and arrogance, preferring himself to God, in a word, a person who denies God to assert himself."
"Like God, the Church does not will Hell," the article concludes. "The reason it has preached on Hell throughout its history is precisely to turn people away from eternal damnation. Perhaps the Church has overly stressed fear of Hell to the detriment of balance with the Evangelical announcement which is, in essence, the announcement of God's Love. Today, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, because catechetical preaching scarcely mentions Hell, to the detriment of Christian people. The Christian message is a message of hope, joy, confidence in the Father's infinite love, and that of Christ the Savior, but it must not be forgotten that man is weak and a sinner and always in need of being called to conversion. Jesus' first words were, 'Be converted and believe in the Gospel.' " ZE99072007
As was made known by the Archdiocese of Mexico, Father Arthur Rocha Cortes, a member of the Postulator Commission for the Cause of Saints, has recently concluded his work "Documents to serve in the genealogy of Juan Diego".
In this document it is explained that Juan Diego was a native descending nobleman of Netzahualpilli and of Moctezuma, who dominated the "cacicazgo" of Texcoco. It is also thought that Juan Diego, after the Marian apparitions and having been baptized, left polygamy in order to marry a single woman and live in chastity.
Documents have also been discovered concerning the family and descendents of Juan Diego, such as Sister Maria Micaela Jeronima Escalona who was consecrated in 1739 and Sister Gertrudis Vazquez Towers, registered in 1726 at the convent of Corpus Christi as descending from Juan Diego.
During a visit that also included lunch, Cardinal Bevilacqua explained inmates that holiness is not something unreachable. "It takes doing one's daily tasks well and for the honor and glory of God", he said during the service held for about 90 male inmates. The Archbishop also recalled the Gospel story about the thief crucified next to the Lord Jesus who was forgiven.
During a press conference held before the visit, Cardinal Bevilacqua pointed out the need to give hope to those in jail. "'They've committed offenses against society and other human beings, but we're ready to forgive them if they're truly sorry". "There is always hope they can become better human beings", he stated.
Cardinal Bevilacqua said as well that it is correct to penalize criminals for their offenses, but explained he does not support death penalty. "The Church supports the right of the state to inflict the death penalty but says there is no reason for the state to use that right", he affirmed.