When Pope Benedict XVI heads to Spain Nov. 6-7, he will follow some of the traditional rituals that pilgrims engage in when visiting the popular pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela.
It will be his first time to the ancient pilgrimage city and to Barcelona where he will consecrate the partially completed Church of the Sagrada Familia, or Holy Family.
“He’s very happy to go (to Compostela) because it’s something he has wanted very much,” said the Vatican’s chief spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, during a press briefing for Catholic News Service Oct. 29.
Before becoming pope, “he and his brother also once talked about them going together, but it never happened,” said Father Lombardi.
Though he will not have walked the miles of roadsides and pathways other Compostela pilgrims travel when going on foot or by horse, the pope will still carry out some of the traditional pilgrimage rituals at the cathedral.
The pope will walk through the cathedral’s Holy Door, which was opened at the start of the year. The feast of St. James, July 25, fell on a Sunday this year, making 2010 a holy year.
Tradition holds that the remains of the apostle St. James the Greater — Santiago in Spanish — are buried in the city’s cathedral. The pope will head to the crypt and pray at the apostle’s tomb and he will embrace a statue of St. James, another pilgrim tradition.
Finally, the pope will incense the cathedral in an unusual method particular to the Santiago church.
A giant incense burner, about the size of an adult human being, hangs from a rope wrapped around a double pulley in front of the main altar. At special pilgrim Masses and events, the incense burner is swung across the church in a trajectory similar to that of a trapeze performer in a circus.
The burner is called a “botafumeiro” in Galician, the Spanish dialect spoken in Santiago de Compostela, and it means “smoke thrower.”
In medieval times, its function was not just liturgical. It was also filled with perfumes to deodorize the smells from the hordes of sweating and unwashed pilgrims who went straight to the cathedral after days on the road.
On Monday, Nov., 1 at 7 p.m., tune into a Mass of Thanksgiving and farewell “live” from Chicago. The broadcast will be carried live on the website of the Archdiocese of San Antonio at www.archsa.org. The Mass broadcast is being sponsored by Centro Espiritu Santo.
Let us join with the people of Chicago as they offer their prayers of thanksgiving for the blessing he has been to them. Let us also use this prayerful moment of grace in the life of the church as we prepare to welcome Archbishop Gustavo as our new shepherd.
An evening Mass of remembrance was to be celebrated Oct. 28 for a University of Notre Dame student who was killed a day earlier in an accident at a university football practice field.
Declan Sullivan, a 20-year-old junior from Long Grove, Ill., was injured when a film tower fell over during a wind storm at about 4:50 p.m. He was filming football practice for the Department of Athletics from a hydraulic scissor lift when the incident occurred.
He was transported to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where he later died, according to a university press release.
“There is no greater sadness for a university community than the death of one of its students,” Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, said in an afternoon media briefing Oct. 28.
“There is certainly no greater sadness for a family than the loss of a son or brother. It is with a sense of that double sadness that, on behalf our university, I express our deepest condolences to Declan’s family, friends and classmates,” said the priest, who was to be the main celebrant of the Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Notre Dame’s athletic director, Jack Swarbrick, said the accident will be thoroughly investigated by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Notre Dame Security Police Department.
“There’s a lot to learn here and we will learn it all in an expeditious manner,” he said at the media briefing.
Swarbrick said the Oct. 30 game against the University of Tulsa will continue as planned, in Sullivan’s memory. Players will wear decals on their helmets commemorating Sullivan; a moment of silence will precede the coin toss.
He said the football coach’s primary focus was the emotional state of the players.
“Our focus is on the team, and on Declan,” Swarbrick said. “There is an intensity that attaches to the experience of being part of a team and an athletic program. Declan is part of that program. And so, the sorrow that is felt is even greater.”
A number of traditional home football weekend events were canceled.
Cooperation among the three Christian communities in the Church of the Nativity has been “going smoothly” as a restoration survey of the building gets under way, said the secretary of the Status Quo Commission for the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.
“In the case of the Custody, we have accepted the role of the government because it is necessary to do something about the basilica,” said Franciscan Father Athanasius Macora. “The work is being supervised by the Palestinian Authority with strict consideration of the Status Quo,” a 19th-century agreement that regulates jurisdiction of and access to key Christian sites in Jerusalem for Catholic, Orthodox and other Christian communities.
He noted that talks had been conducted among the Greek Orthodox, Catholic and Armenian Orthodox church communities for more than a decade trying, with encouragement from the Palestinian Authority, to find a way to renovate the roof. However, in 2009, the Palestinian Authority decided to take a more active role and, in September, an agreement was signed with an Italian consortium to undertake a survey of the ancient building, he said.
The survey, which is using sophisticated building scanners to accurately evaluate the building’s structural condition, began in September and is expected to be completed in November, said Father Macora to Catholic News Service.
The main concern is the state of the roof, which is hundreds of years old, has been leaking, and is made up of wood brought over from Venice in the 1480s, he said. The leaking has caused damaged to pillars and mosaics in the church.
Over the centuries, piecemeal repairs have been made to the roof, he said, and this will be the first comprehensive restoration on the church since it was completed in the fourth century.
“”Some of the repairs have not been very good and we need to use modern technology,” said Father Macora. “After the survey is completed we will need to move to phase two and see what needs to be restored. As it stands now the main object is to do restoration of the roof.”
On Oct. 26 during a visit to the site by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority announced the plans for a major restoration of the church which is shared by the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox churches.
The Palestinian Authority has said it expects the multi-year renovation project to cost millions of dollars and has appealed to governments abroad to help fund the project. The Palestinian tourism ministry said the restoration work would not hinder pilgrims visiting the holy site.
The Vatican hopes the death penalty will not be carried out against former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, 74, said the Vatican spokesman.
“The position of the Catholic Church on the death penalty is known,” the spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said Oct. 26, the day the Iraqi high court sentenced Aziz to death by hanging.
“Therefore, it is truly to be hoped that the sentence against Tariq Aziz will not be carried out, precisely in order to favor reconciliation and the reconstruction of peace and justice in Iraq after the great suffering it has undergone,” he said in a Catholic News Service report.
Father Lombardi said the Vatican might use diplomatic channels to intervene in the case.
The court sentenced Aziz, a Catholic who also served as foreign minister for then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, for persecution of Shiite religious parties.
Aziz is currently in prison and in poor health. He has been convicted for his role in the 1992 execution of more than three dozen merchants found guilty of profiteering and for his role in the forced displacement of Kurds in northern Iraq.
Aziz has 30 days to appeal. His Jordan-based lawyer told The Associated Press they were consulting about their next moves.
Aziz, who spoke English fluently, was often the face of Saddam’s regime in the 1990s and before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, when he surrendered to U.S. forces.
In 1998, Aziz traveled to the Vatican and met with Pope John Paul II. Aziz told Rome reporters he gave the pope a letter from Saddam asking the Vatican’s help in lifting the U.N.-imposed sanctions on Iraq.
Aziz met with the pope again in 2003, as the Vatican engaged in a flurry of diplomatic activity to try to prevent the U.S.-led invasion.
During that same visit to Italy, Aziz was invited by the Franciscan friars in Assisi, to pray at St. Francis’ tomb. Many Italians complained that the Franciscans were being used by a man who since 1979 had been the No. 2 official of a regime guilty of serious human rights abuses.
In June 1992, when Iraqi officials refused to renew an agreement that would allow Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity to remain in Baghdad, Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid appealed to Aziz, and the nuns were allowed to stay.
Potential economic gains are no reason for California voters to approve a ballot measure that would legalize limited amounts of marijuana for recreational use, said Bishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of Oakland.
“As tempting as it is during this recessionary time to decide every issue on the basis of its projected economic impact, we have to realize there are higher principles which must guide our conscience,” the bishop said in a commentary on the state’s Proposition 19 that was published Oct. 22 on the website of the California Catholic Conference.
“Prudential judgment calls us to exercise not only practical considerations when making decisions, but first and foremost moral ones,” he added.
The California bishops as a group have not taken any stand on Proposition 19 or any of the other eight ballot questions before the state’s voters Nov. 2.
Proposition 19 would make the cultivation, possession and personal use of limited amounts of marijuana legal under state but not federal law and would allow local governments to collect taxes on it. The cultivation and use of medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996.
Bishop Cordileone said advocates of Proposition 19 have made “a utilitarian appeal to the economics of the situation” by stating that “multiple billions of untaxed dollars of marijuana are sold illegally in our state while multiple millions of dollars are spent in enforcement of the marijuana prohibition.”
“But such reasoning is overly simplistic and off target,” he said.
Citing the Catholic Church’s affirmation of the dignity of the human person and the resulting “need to care for our bodies,” Bishop Cordileone said Proposition 19 “threatens to seriously erode the good these principles uphold.”
“The ingestion of brain-altering chemicals — legal or illegal — cannot be categorized as good stewardship of our earthly lives,” he said.
In addition, a move to make marijuana use legally and socially acceptable could “then lead to the faulty conclusion that it is also morally acceptable,” the bishop said.
“Adding the use of marijuana to the list of activities that are legal — but not necessarily moral — does not benefit society,” he said.
The bishop disputed assumptions about the proposition’s economic impact, saying it “remains debatable.”
“Widespread use of marijuana will inevitably lead to deteriorating health and increased accidents, with the consequent health care costs involved,” he said. In addition, a black market in marijuana might continue among those who do not want to pay the new taxes, he said.
The bishop also pointed out that California workplaces might lose federal funding because of an inability to earn certification as “drug-free.”
Other aspects of the “legal confusion” that could result from passage of Proposition 19 include the lack of “standards to judge competence when driving under the influence of marijuana” and the “unacceptable legal liabilities” to which the friends, families or employers of marijuana users might be exposed, he said.
Bishop Cordileone urged Catholic voters in California to “pray for wisdom as you form your conscience in anticipation of voting on the propositions on our state’s November ballot.”
Members of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East formally asked Pope Benedict XVI to change Vatican rules that technically prohibit the Eastern Catholic churches from ordaining married men outside the traditional homeland of their churches.
In one of 44 propositions presented to Pope Benedict Oct. 23, the synod members — the majority of whom were Eastern Catholics — said, “With a view to the pastoral service of our faithful, wherever they are to be found, and to respect the traditions of the Eastern churches, it would be desirable to study the possibility of having married priests outside the patriarchal territory.”
After Latin-rite bishops in North America and other areas told the Vatican that the presence of married Eastern-rite priests was creating confusion among their faithful, the Vatican in 1929 issued an order that prohibited the Eastern churches from ordaining married men in the West and from sending married priests to the West.
In 1998, the bishops of Australia issued a formal statement saying they had no opposition to married Eastern priests in Australia. The U.S. and Canadian bishops have expressed similar opinions, although not as formally.
And for at least the past 10 years, some Eastern Catholic bishops have been ordaining married men in North America or accepting married priests from their church’s homeland.
In 1998, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, then Vatican secretary of state, ordered Ukrainian Catholic bishops in Poland to use only celibate priests and to send their married priests to Ukraine. He said the bishops could not “unilaterally modify the practice in use.”
At the Middle East synod’s closing news conference Oct. 23, Cardinal-designate Antonios Naguib, patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church, said, “It’s a practical problem; it is not a theological problem.” If it were a theological problem, he said, the Eastern churches could not have married priests in their home territories.
“The whole Catholic Church confesses and confirms the richness and the gift of priestly celibacy for the life and mission of the church,” he said to Catholic News Service, but the Eastern churches also value the ministry of their married priests.
Melkite Bishop Cyrille S. Bustros of Newton, Mass., told reporters that especially at a time when the Latin-rite church is accepting and ordaining married former Anglican priests, it does not make sense to tell Eastern Catholics that they cannot exercise their tradition of a married priesthood.
“In the past, only Eastern-rite priests could be married,” he said. “But now with the admittance of former Anglicans, we ask that these old prohibitions change so there would be equality” between what the Latin and Eastern bishops are allowed to do.
According to Catholic News Service, the Diocese of Rome formally opened the sainthood process for Vietnamese Cardinal Francois Nguyen Van Thuan, who spent 13 years in prison in communist Vietnam — nine of them in solitary confinement.
After he was freed by authorities in 1988, Pope John Paul II named him vice president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in 1994 and president of the council in 1998. He died in Rome in 2002, which is why the diocese formally opened his sainthood cause Oct. 22.
In his 2007 encyclical on Christian hope, Pope Benedict XVI called Cardinal Van Thuan an exemplary model of maintaining hope through prayer, even in a “situation of seemingly utter hopelessness.”
The formal opening of the cause does not mean that the late cardinal will be beatified or canonized quickly. Witnesses will be called to testify about his life and holiness, his writings will be collected, and a biography will be compiled. The diocese must gather evidence that he has a widespread reputation for holiness and must look into claims by the faithful that they were healed through his intercession.
As a part of the Province of San Antonio we rejoice in the appointment of Archbishop-elect Gustavo García-Siller, MSsP. He will be a great shepherd for the archdiocese. He is a bishop of great faith and heart. His Hispanic heritage and his ministry here in the United States is a providential combination for all of us in the Province of San Antonio.
In my personal letter to him of Oct. 14, I said, “It is with great joy in my heart that I welcome you to San Antonio and to the ministry of not only archbishop, but metropolitan of our province as well.”
“I have always appreciated the times we have had the chance to visit, both at the bishops’ meetings and the “Good Leaders-Good Shepherds” sessions. Thank you for these times of fraternal support and conversation.”
I look forward to greeting you personally soon. … The five years here in Fort Worth, and especially in the Province of San Antonio, have been the source of many blessings for me, and I very much look forward to sharing these with you and working together with you for the kingdom of God. I know that you will find much life and vigor in the church in Texas.
“If I can help you in any way possible, please be sure and let me know. In the meantime, please know of my prayer for you in these days. May Our Lady of Guadalupe pray for you, and guide us all to her son in these important days.”
On behalf of the Diocese of Laredo, I extend un abrazo fuerte y le doy la bienvenida to Archbishop-Designate Gustavo García-Siller.
The faithful of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and greater South Texas are blessed to have you as their shepherd. As a brother bishop, I have witnessed your faith, dedication, compassion and generosity in your service to God and his people.
Your profound conviction and love for Jesus serves as an inspiration for our brother bishops and priests as well as deacons, men and women religious and the laity.
I anticipate your servant leadership filling the Archdiocese of San Antonio with works of faith and mercy.
I look forward to your installation as archbishop and shepherd of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
And as I welcome you, it is my sincerest desire that God’s grace continues to inspire you to do great works in his name and to have many more successful years of ministry shepherding the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
I wish you the best as we all continue sharing, as part of the universal church, the beautiful mission of spreading the Gospel, Todo Con Amor.