Cardinals called to Vatican for extraordinary assembly

Vatican City, Nov.09,2007 (CINS/totalcatholic) - For the second time in his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has summoned all the cardinals to the Vatican for an “extraordinary consistory”.

The assembly, on November 23, will cover the current state of the Catholic dialogue with the other Christian Churches and  the situation of  “the life of the Church in general.”

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinal s sent a letter to the cardinals on 26 October inviting them to the assembly, which will involve a morning and evening session, in the presence of the Pope

Benedict, who called a similar one-day assembly of the cardinals last March will address the meeting twice.

In the morning he will greet the cardinals and speak for a short time and may also indicate some questions which he wishes them to answer or comment on during the day. 

Cardinal Walter Kasper will then deliver the keynote speech to the meeting, where he will explain the present state of the ecumenical dialogue, almost certainly focusing on relations with the Orthodox Church, with particular attention to the Russian Orthodox.

Cardinals will be free to speak for about seven minutes each after Cardinal Kasper’s speech in the morning, and also throughout the evening session which goes from 5-7.30pm.

The 23 new cardinals-elect, including Ireland’s Archbishop Sean Brady have been invited to attend, meaning all 202 members of the College of Cardinal s have been called to Rome.

Ireland will therefore have three cardinals at the meeting: the 90-year-old Cahal Daly, 81-year-old Desmond Connell of Dublin and 68-year old-Sean Brady – the only one of the three who will be able to vote in the next conclave, as he is under 80.

Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien, 69, will also be at the meeting and will brief his fellow cardinals after his recent trip to Vietnam and China.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, 75, of England and Wales is one of the most experienced cardinals in the Ecumenical field.

He created quite a stir at the last extraordinary consistory held by John Paul II in May 2001, when he proposed that the Pope should call “a kind of ecumenical council or assembly” of the leaders of all the other main Christian Churches – Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and Free Churches, which the pope would preside over “with a primacy of love, not a primacy of jurisdiction”.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is expected to speak again this time.


Mass for deceased Cardinals and Bishops

Vatican City,Nov.05,2007 (CINS/VIS) - Continuing a November tradition, this morning the Pope celebrated Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the souls of the cardinals and bishops who died this past year. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were the members of the College of Cardinal s.

At the beginning of the homily, Benedict XVI named the cardinals who had died in the past twelve months: Salvatore Pappalardo, Frédéric Etsou-Nzabi Bamungwabi, Antonio María Javierre, Angelo Felici, Jean-Marie Lustiger, Edouard Gagnon, Adam Koz?owiecki and Rosalio José Castillo Lara.

The Pope offered an invitation to give thanks to God "for the gift he has given the Church through them and for all the good achieved with their help. Likewise," he stated, "we entrust the souls of the departed patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops to the Eternal Father, also expressing our recognition of their work in the name of the entire Catholic community."

These men, our brothers, he continued, "were certainly men of distinct character, both for their personal trials as well as for the ministry they exercised. Nevertheless, they all had a great commonality: their friendship with the Lord Jesus."

"During their temporal existence," the Holy Father asserted, "Jesus led them to know the name of God, granting them participation in the love of the Most Holy Trinity, (...) an experience of divine communion that, by its nature, tends to envelop one's entire existence, transfiguring it and preparing it for the glory of eternal life."

Commenting on the responsorial psalm, "My soul is thirsting for God, for the living God. When will I see the face of God?," the Pope emphasized that "this thirst holds a truth that does not betray, a hope that does not delude. It is a thirst that, even through the darkest night, illuminates that path toward the source of life."

Benedict XVI pointed out that the psalm acquires a tone of confidence at its heart as well as at its end: "Why are you discouraged, my soul, why do you worry me? Trust in God that I may praise him, my salvation and my God." In the light of Christ and his paschal mystery these words reveal a wonderful truth: not even death can render a believer's hope worthless because Christ," he concluded, "has entered the sanctuary of heaven for us and wants to lead us there where he has prepared us a place."

Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil: Church exists only for evangelisation

Bangalore, India, Nov.01,2007 (CINS/SAR) --Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of the Syro-Malabar Church has called for the removal of barriers impeding the unity of the three Rites within the Catholic Church and the spread of Gospel in India.

“The Church exists only for the reason of evangelisation. There’s no other reason for its existence. I hope all the restrictions on pastoral care and evangelisation and the sharing of the great faith with our fellow countrymen will be removed,” the prelate said, presiding over the golden jubilee celebrations of Dharmaram College, a pontifical institute of theology, philosophy and Canon Law in Bangalore, October 28.

“If these restrictions are gone, all the three Rites can work in close harmony and communion with each other and with renewed energy,” he said hinting at certain curbs placed on the spread of the Syro-Malabar churches.

“Dharmaram has a marvelous growth; it is looking after seven parishes in the Archdiocese of Bangalore, but the restrictions imposed on proper territory in 1896 by the insistence of an apostolic delegate have impacted the growth of the Syro-Malabar Church,” the prelate said.

“If there were no restrictions, the Gospel would have been taken to every nook and corner of this country. There are only 1.8 per cent of Catholics in India. I hope such restrictions are removed and the sons and daughters of Dharmaram are able to spread and share the good news of Jesus Christ with the rest of the country.”

Felicitating the staff and the Dharamaram community, the Cardinal said, “Dharmaram itself was instituted as a garden of virtue, a garden of wisdom. Its main mission is to train priests and missionaries after the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And it has been doing its work for fifty years now.

Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram was established at Dharmaram College, the central study house of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, and the first indigenous religious congregation of India. The study house, which was originally founded in 1918 at Chethipuzha, Kerala state, was moved to Bangalore in 1957. Dharmaram was affiliated to the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, December 8, 1965.

Dharmaram can claim its heritage to Thomas Palackal, Thomas Porookam and Blessed Cyriac Elias Chavara. All three had interest in the formation of priests. Dharmaram has been in the forefront of inter-religious dialogue and has produced many bishops who have been great missionaries. Dharmaram has also played an important role in inculturation. Its sister seminaries in Vardha in Maharashtra state and Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh state have been in the forefront in the areas of contextualization of theology and inculturation in India.

The laying of the foundation stone for Dharmaram Research Centre marked the two-day jubilee celebrations.  

Cardinal Ricard leaves the presidency of the French Bishops

Bordeaux, France, Nov.01,2007 (CINS/SIR)- A positive balance. The Church of France is full of “signs” that make us “hope”. It was drawn up by card. Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, since 2001 president of the French Bishops Conference. After two mandates, at the next General Assembly, due in Lourdes from 3rd to 8th November, card. Ricard will leave his position as president of the French Bishops Conference. In an interview published today on the French Catholic daily paper La Croix, the cardinal draws up his balance of these 6 years. Despite “the movement of laicisation” that is spreading above all in the West, undermining “people’s relations with faith and the Church”, there are – said the archbishop – “Christians who are committed to ecclesial life, men and women who rediscover the walk of faith, many devotees who invest in Christian education. These signs make us hope”.

Seen from Rome – comments the journalist –, France remains an “enfant terrible”, especially because of the drop in the number of callings. “These arguments – replies Ricard – are the same as 15 years ago. Nowadays, Rome says the opposite is true. Rome knows that our situation is difficult and knows what we have done to keep our Church alive”. 

Public Consistory for the creation of 23 new Cardinals

Vatican City, 29.2007 (CINS/VIS) - In St. Peter's Square 10.30 a.m. on Saturday, November 24, Benedict XVI will celebrate an Ordinary Public Consistory for the creation of 23 new cardinals, according to a note published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

Courtesy visits to the new cardinals will take place on the same day from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m.

In St. Peter's Square at 10.30 a.m. on Sunday, November 25, Benedict XVI will preside at a Eucharistic concelebration with the new cardinals, during which he will give them their ring of office.

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