Pope says Assisi participants represent all who work for peace

VATICAN CITY - Thanking the 300 delegates who joined him for a peace pilgrimage to Assisi, Pope Benedict XVI said they represent billions of people -- believers and nonbelievers -- committed to making the world a better place.

The gathering was "a vivid expression of the fact that every day, throughout the world, people of different religious traditions live and work together in harmony," the Pope told the delegates Oct. 28, the morning after they had gone by train with him to Assisi.

Among Assisi participants, a sense of deeper crisis in modern society

ASSISI, Italy - A common thread ran through many of the speeches and invocations of this year's "prayer for peace" encounter in Assisi: the uneasy sense that the world is facing not merely conflicts and wars, but a much broader crisis that affects social and cultural life in every country.

Environmental damage, the rich-poor divide, erosion of cultural traditions, terrorism and new threats to society's weakest members were cited as increasingly worrisome developments by speakers at the interfaith gathering in the Italian pilgrimage town Oct. 27.

Pope Benedict XVI, addressing the 300 participants, echoed those points in his own analysis of the state of global peace 25 years after Blessed John Paul II convened the first Assisi meeting.

Ad limina change means end to private meetings with Pope

VATICAN CITY - In a quiet modification of a traditional format, the Vatican has dropped most of the individual private meetings between Pope Benedict XVI and bishops making their "ad limina" visits to Rome.

The unannounced change was instituted earlier this year, apparently in an effort to reduce the scheduling burden on the 84-year-old pope and to help cut through the backlog of "ad limina" visits, which are supposed to be made every five years by heads of dioceses.

In place of one-on-one meetings, the pope now usually holds more freewheeling sessions with groups of 7-10 bishops at a time, lasting about an hour. That is expected to be the format for U.S. bishops when they begin their "ad limina" visits in early November.

Wisdom, righteousness key to life

32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) Nov. 6 (Wisdom 6:12-16; Psalm 63; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13)

The encounter of two cultures can be a rich and rewarding experience, especially when both sides are receptive to each other. This was the case when the religion of the Jewish people met Greek culture and philosophy during the three centuries before the coming of Christ. Many Jewish scholars expressed the faith of the Hebrew Scriptures using the symbols and concepts of Greek philosophy. Although the author writes as King Solomon whose wisdom was legendary it was clearly written centuries after the king’s death.

The Catholic press has lost a dear friend

“No community should botch its deaths.” Those are the words of anthropologist Mircea Eliade, and I use them here to introduce a tribute to Otto Herschan, a long-time Catholic publisher who died on July 12 at the age of 84.

For many years he was the publisher and managing director of a number of national Catholic weekly newspapers, including the Catholic Herald in England, the Scottish Catholic Observer and the Irish Catholic. He brought an interesting background to Catholic journalism.

Pope proclaims three saints, calls them models of Christian charity

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed three saints and said their lives demonstrated that true faith is charity in action.

"These three new saints allowed themselves to be transformed by divine charity," the pope said at a canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square Oct. 23.

"In different situations and with different gifts, they loved the Lord with all their heart and they loved their neighbor as themselves, in such a way as to become models for all believers," he said.

Rome celebrates Blessed John Paul feast day; sainthood cause proceeds

ROME - Thousands of Catholics in Rome celebrated the first feast of Blessed John Paul II Oct. 22 and the promoter of his sainthood cause said he has received several reports of healings that could be the miracle needed for the late pope's canonization.

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, the postulator of Pope John Paul's sainthood cause, told Vatican Radio, "I have received several very significant testimonies and am waiting for the complete documentation" that would allow him to judge which would be the most appropriate to submit to the Vatican.

"I was particularly struck by the healing of a little girl who was in an almost desperate situation and another very touching testimony regarding the healing of a priest," he told the radio Oct. 22.

Franciscans risk stoning to provide aid to poor along border fence

SUNLAND PARK, N.M. - The compact car lifted a trail of dust as it traveled slowly along the 18-foot-tall chain-link fence, attracting the attention of the U.S. Border Patrol agent sitting in his green and white SUV.

When the vehicle stopped and two women got out, he was concerned contraband might be tossed over the fence into the United States to the waiting vehicle. Instead, the women began throwing items into Mexico.

The two women were Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who come to the fence periodically and toss whatever they can get to give the needy families of Puerto de Anapra, one of the poorest and most violent suburbs of Ciudad Juarez.

Knowing God's love never ends pulls people out of despair, pope says

VATICAN CITY - Remembering God's love is forever helps lead the faithful out of darkness and despair and toward a future of hope, Pope Benedict XVI said.

It's important to remember all of God's gifts to humanity -- from creating the earth to giving humanity his only son -- because it is that very recollection of his generosity that "becomes the strength of hope," he said during his weekly general audience Oct. 19.

Remembering God's goodness and mercy "also opens up the path of light toward the future during times of darkness," the pope said.

Assisi III: Benedict puts his own mark on prayer summit's third edition

VATICAN CITY - Slowly and carefully, the Vatican is setting the stage for the third edition of the interreligious "prayer for peace" encounter in the Italian pilgrimage town of Assisi.

The Oct. 27 event marks the 25th anniversary of the first such gathering. As in 1986, it is expected to draw representatives from many Christian denominations and more than a dozen other faiths.

It is also being celebrated in cities throughout the world, including Toronto where the Toronto Area Interfiath Council is hosting its own event at the Church of the Holy Trinity on Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Retired educator turns to drama to spread the Word

Retired Catholic school educator Eleanor Glenn is on a different stage now, but she still has a passion for teaching others about the Catholic faith.

Instead of a classroom, Glenn — who has a religious education specialist certificate — is now spreading the Word through drama in her one-woman play that connects the sacrifice of the Mass with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

The Servant at the Supper is about a fictitious servant girl who baked the bread and served the wine at the Last Supper. She is also present when the women bring the news of Christ’s Resurrection to the disciples and at Pentecost.