Daily Archives:October 16th, 2017

Filipino exorcist tells priests to bless religious objects properly

A priest blesses religious objects, including images of saints and rosaries, in Manila. (Photo by Mark Saludes)

MANILA – One of Philippine’s leading exorcists reminded Catholic priests to perform the blessing of sacramentals, or religious objects, properly to avoid “demonic infestation.”

Father Michell Joe Zerrudo, head exorcist of the Diocese of Cubao, said the blessing of religious objects must not be done in haste.

“Catholic priests should not take lightly the blessing of objects,” Father Zerrudo said during a talk on “spiritual warfare” in Quezon City on 11 Oct 2017.

“When blessing sacramentals, use the (church) ritual because sorcerers use their own ritual,” said the priest, adding a warning that anything can be a source of “evil infestation.”

He said even rosaries bought in church stores can become an “object of curse” if not properly blessed by a priest.

But the rosary can also be a “very powerful” weapon against the devil.

Father Zerrudo, however, said the “best instruments” in spiritual warfare are still prayers, penance, mortification, and sacraments.

“Pray with humble hearts,” he said, adding that “even the vocal prayers when they are said from the heart and by the heart are powerful instruments against the devil.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the church” but added that “these expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the church, but do not replace it.” – ucanews.com

Promoting CCC remains a challenge and a priority

Pope Francis attends an encounter marking the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican, 11 Oct 2017. The death penalty is “contrary to the Gospel,” the pope said in his speech at the meeting. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY – As the church marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), promoting it as a means of teaching the truth about faith remains a challenge and a priority.

Since its publication in 1992, the catechism has been translated into 50 languages, including Swahili, Japanese and Gaelic, and it is also available in Braille, video and digital editions.

Nevertheless, in today’s digital age, when people have limitless access to information with the click of a mouse or the swipe of an app, opinions and even “fake news” can either inform or misinform Catholics on the principles of the Catholic faith.

“Society is changing in a very massive way, and it’s much more difficult to reach people, especially in the digital age,” Katharina Karl, professor of pastoral theology and religious education at the Philosophical-Theological University in Muenster, Germany, told Catholic News Service on 11 Oct 2017.

This ongoing challenge was what prompted the Catholic Church a quarter of a century ago to create a go-to reference that synthesised church teaching and serve as a guide for the faithful.

The idea of a compendium of Catholic doctrine was one of the fruits of the 1985 Synod of Bishops marking the 20th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.

After requests from participants for a point of reference “for the catechisms or compendiums that are prepared in various regions,” Pope John Paul II accepted their proposal, “considering it as fully responding to a real need, both of the universal church and of the particular churches.”

“The presentation of doctrine must be biblical and liturgical. It must be sound doctrine suited to the present life of Christians,”  John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Constitution “Fidei Depositum” (“The Deposit of Faith”) on 11 Oct 1992.

Entrusting this task to 12 cardinals and bishops, John Paul II chose Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI, to lead the commission responsible for the drafting of the catechism.

While the need for a text that clearly explained the church’s teachings was welcomed, some criticised it for being too static or dogmatic and not in line with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

“It was said that the catechism failed to take into account the theological developments of the last century, particularly exegetical developments; it was not ecumenical; it was not dialogical” as it made affirmations as established beyond dispute, Cardinal Ratzinger said on 9 Oct 2002, during an address commemorating the catechism’s 10th anniversary.

The future Pope Benedict responded to those opinions by seeking to explain “what a catechism is and what is its specific literary genre,” as well as its proper purpose and doctrinal relevance.

The catechism is “a proclamation of faith,” of witness, for the teaching of the faith, he said. It presents a “given that precedes us,” but whose doctrinal formulation develops in the church, he said.

After his papal election, Pope Benedict continued to urge Catholics to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a handbook to rediscover the truths of faith and a deeper knowledge of church teaching.

“Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and rediscover the beauty of being Christian, of being church, of living as part of the great ‘we’ that Jesus formed around him to evangelise the world,” Pope Benedict said in 2012.

In his speech marking the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church  Oct 11, Pope Francis said the catechism is not only an important tool for believers to understand the faith, but also provides concrete answers to new challenges.

Just as the challenges people face evolve, so does the Christian response since “the word of God cannot be preserved in mothballs as if it were an old blanket to protect against insects,” he said.

In fact, “the word of God is a dynamic reality that is always living, that progresses and grows, because it is stretched toward a fulfillment that men and women cannot stop,” Pope Francis said.

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, who served with then-Cardinal Ratzinger as co-editor of the catechism, told Vatican Radio Oct 12 that while the development of church teaching evolves over time, the church and the Gospel don’t change.

“We must change. This catechism is only 25 years old. The previous one — the Council of Trent — lasted 400 years. Therefore, I hope this catechism is at the beginning of its work for the church,” Cardinal Schonborn said.

Despite the catechism’s accessibility and continuing development, “there is still a lot to do,” Karl told Catholic News Service.

In her Oct 11 talk, Karl emphasised the need for Catholics to have a formed conscience — rooted in the teachings of the catechism — that will allow for a “dialogue with God.”

“The catechesis today needs to create a space for people to enter into dialogue with themselves in the first place. It’s something they need to be taught in such a way that in the end it may become a dialogue with God,” she said.

Expanding on her speech, Karl told CNS that before catechising, the church should embark on a “pre-journey with people” and reach out to them, given that, in today’s digital world, many people no longer socialise face-to-face or “go to catechism classes automatically.”

The use of Twitter by one group of Catholics from around the world who use the social network to pray together is one of many examples of how the church can use social media to engage people and “bring the catechism to them,” she noted.

“I think the sign of the times is to be creative,” Karl told CNS.

“The church is already going toward that path, but I think it’s a chance to enter the digital world not as something foreign to us but as something native to our times,” she said. – CNS

Pope announces 2019 Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region

The Amazon River

VATICAN CITY –  Pope Francis has announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region that will focus on the needs of its indigenous people, on new paths for evangelisation and on the crisis of the rainforest.

The Pope’s announcement came on 15 Oct 2017  during the Angelus after a canonisation Mass during which he canonised 35 new saints, including three indigenous children martyred in 16th century Mexico.

“Accepting the desire of some Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Latin America, as well as the voice of various pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, which will take place in Rome in the month October 2019”  he said.

The main purpose of the Amazon synod, the Pope explained, will be to “identify new paths for the evangelisation of God’s people in that region.”

Special attention, he added, will be paid to the indigenous people who are “often forgotten and without the prospect of a serene future, also because of the crisis of the Amazonian rainforest, a ‘lung’ of primary importance for our planet.”

In 2014 the Catholic Church in Pan-Amazonia founded a Pan-Amazon Ecclesial Network – REPAM – as “God’s answer to this heartfelt and urgent need to care for the life of people so they are able to live in harmony with nature, starting from the widespread and varied presence of members and structures of the Church in Pan-Amazonia.”

REPAM is constituted not only by the regional Bishops’ Conferences but also by priests, missionaries of congregations who work in the Amazon jungle, national representatives of Caritas and laypeople belonging to various church bodies in the region.

As reported on the REPAM website: “The Amazon territory is the largest tropical forest in the world. It covers six million square kilometres and includes the territories of Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil. It is home to 2,779,478 indigenous people, comprising 390 indigenous tribes and 137 isolated (uncontacted) peoples with their valuable ancestral cultures, and 240 spoken languages belonging to 49 linguistic families.”

It is “a territory that is devastated and threatened by the concessions made by States to transnational corporations. Large-scale mining projects, monoculture and climate change place its lands and natural environment at great risk,” leading to the destruction of cultures, undermining the self-determination of peoples and above all affronting Christ incarnate in the people who live there (indigenous and riparian peoples, peasant farmers, Afro-descendants and urban populations). – vatican radio

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