Tuesday, January 30, 2007

KGB smear campaign against Pius XII exposed

The Vatican's Secretary of State has presented a spirited defence of Pope Pius XII's role during World War II in protecting Jews as a former KGB spy reveals a deliberate super-secret Soviet plan to smear the Pope as an anti-Semitic Nazi sympathiser.

Catholic News Agency reports that in a recent issue of the National Review Online, Lt General Ion Mihai Pacepa, who eventually defected from the former Soviet bloc, recounts how the KGB and the Kremlin designed the deliberate campaign to portray the Pius XII "as a cold hearted Nazi sympathiser".

In February 1960, Nikita Khrushchev approved a "super-secret" plan, codenamed "Seat-12", for destroying the Vatican's moral authority in Western Europe, writes Pacepa.

Eugenio Pacelli, by then Pope Pius XII, was selected as the KGB's main target, its incarnation of evil, because he had departed this world in 1958. "Dead men cannot defend themselves" was the KGB's latest slogan.

The KGB used the fact that Archbishop Pacelli had served as the papal nuncio in Munich and Berlin when the Nazis were beginning their bid for power against him.

"The KGB wanted to depict him as an anti-Semite who had encouraged Hitler's Holocaust," says Pacepa.

Using documents provided by Pacepa, the KGB used these documents to produce a powerful play attacking Pope Pius XII, entitled The Deputy.

It eventually saw the stage in Germany in 1963, under the title The Deputy, a Christian Tragedy. It proposed that Pius XII had supported Hitler and encouraged him to go ahead with the Jewish Holocaust. The German director claimed to have 40 pages of documentation attached to the script that would support the thesis of the play.

The play ran in New York in 1964 and was translated into 20 languages. The play then led to a flurry of books and articles, some accusing and some defending the Pontiff.

Pacepa says the truth has finally begun to emerge with the canonisation process of Pius XII, which was opened by John Paul II.

Meanwhile, Catholic News Agency reports that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, speaking at a Rome book launch, strongly defended Pope Pius XII's wartime actions and said he had coordinated church efforts that saved the lives of many Jews.

He said the Catholic Church as an institution played a part in this effort, working under Pope Pius and following his directives. The church aided all during World War II, but specifically sought to defend and save persecuted Jews, he said.

"They were to be helped in any way possible. This is the premise on which every action of the Pope and his aides was founded, as is demonstrated by the existing documentation," Cardinal Bertone said.

Lisa Palmieri-Billig, the Rome representative of the American Jewish Committee, also spoke at the book presentation. She said there was no question that the Vatican had helped save the lives of Jews, sometimes hiding them inside the Vatican itself.

She noted Pope Pius' strongly worded Christmas appeal in 1942 on behalf of those persecuted by the Nazi regime on the basis of nationality or race.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Church News & Current Events-Weekly Summary

Giving pause to the pregnant

The Government's decision to fund pregnancy counselling with input from Catholic agencies is controversial, writes Elisabeth Wynhausen.

THOUGH their opinions could not be more divergent on an issue of supreme importance to both of them, Devora Lieberman, the national president of Family Planning Australia, says she can't help feeling sorry for Health Minister Tony Abbott.
"It's a difficult position for the minister. He's a devout Catholic who as health minister ... funds 70,000 to 90,000 abortions a year," says Lieberman.
Though Abbott, for his part, has said he will not let his convictions interfere with the job, the health minister has hardly made a secret of his burning desire to reduce the number of abortions in Australia.

To read further on this important issue click here.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Neocatechumenal Way-In Disobedience?

Those Who Are Resisting Benedict XVI
The disobedience of the Neocatechumenals. The black legends of the conclave. The translation boycott. Three different ways of opposing the new pope.
The first words of Benedict XVI’s first encyclical letter, almost the motto of his papacy, are "Deus Caritas Est," God is love.
But not everyone in the upper levels of the Church is full of love and solidarity for this new pope. Resistance to his guidance is tenacious and widespread, and in some places it is on the rise. And almost all the resistance shields itself behind the protection of anonymity.
The only open and avowed resistance is that of the Neocatechumenal Way, which has opposed a papal directive issued last December, which struck at one of the movement’s cornerstones.
The Way, founded and directed by Kiko Argüello and Carmen Hernández, both Spanish, is today the most vigorous of the new Catholic movements that emerged during the last half century. It is present in 900 dioceses on all the inhabited continents, and boasts the strength of a million followers in over 20,000 communities, with 3,000 priests and 5,000 religious. It has an international network of 63 "Redemptoris Mater" seminaries, which are thriving with new vocations, in contrast with the vacuum in many diocesan seminaries.
One of the factors in its numeric expansion is the elevated number of children that its families bring into the world, running to ten, twelve, or even more. Each year, scores of these families go on mission into faraway countries. Last January 12, 200 of these families departed all at once from Rome, with the personal blessing of Benedict XVI, who met them in a Nervi Hall that was crowded and pulsing with enthusiasm. Some of the families were going to Patagonia or Japan, but some others were going into the most dechristianized areas of Europe: France, Holland, the former East Germany.
With such a legacy of success, it is natural that the Neocatechumenals receive the support of a large number of bishops and cardinals. Two of these patrons – cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Vatican congregation for the propagation of the faith, and cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington – were at their side in Nervi Hall on January 12. But criticisms have also rained down upon the Neocatechumenals over the years, especially against their carving out a separate place for themselves in the Church, with their own secret catechism, their own rituals, and their own parallel hierarchy. But these criticisms were always overruled by the unconditional support given to them by John Paul II.
But that’s no longer the case with pope Ratzinger. There is one thing about the Neocatechumenals that the pope does not accept, and which touches the heart of Christian life: the unusual way in which they celebrate the Mass (1).
In effect, the Mass that every one of the 20,000 communities of the Way celebrates each Saturday evening – separately from the parishes and the other sister communities – follows the dictates of its founder Kiko Argüello much more closely than it does the liturgical canons that are universally valid for the Catholic Church.
Instead of the altar in the apse, at the center of the hall is a large square dinner table, around which the Neocatechumenals receive communion in a seated position.
Instead of hosts, a large loaf of unleavened wheat bread, made with two-thirds white flour and one-third whole wheat flour, is divided and eaten. The bread, which is baked for a quarter of an hour, is prepared according to very detailed guidelines established by Kiko.
The wine is drunk from cups, also in a sitting position.
The homily is replaced by spontaneous comments from those present, before and after the readings from the Gospel, the letters of Saint Paul, and the Old Testament.
Benedict XVI has ordered that all of this come to an end. He did this through a letter delivered in mid-December to the three main leaders of the Way: Kiko, Carmen, and the Italian priest Mario Pezzi. The letter was signed by cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican congregation for the liturgy, but from its very first lines it clearly states that these are "the decisions of the Holy Father." Six unambiguous commands follow.
For example, regarding communion, the exact dispositions of the letter are these:
"On the manner of receiving Holy Communion, a period of transition (not exceeding two years) is granted to the Neocatechumenal Way to pass from the widespread manner of receiving Holy Communion in its communities (seated, with a cloth-covered table placed at the center of the church instead of the dedicated altar in the sanctuary) to the normal way in which the entire Church receives Holy Communion. This means that the Neocatechumenal Way must begin to adopt the manner of distributing the Body and Blood of Christ that is provided in the liturgical books." (2)
But instead of simply obeying, the Neocatechumenals disobeyed while asserting that they were perfectly obedient.
When Vatican analyst Andrea Tornielli first gave the news of the pope’s directions, the official spokesman and director of the Way in the United States, Giuseppe Gennarini, protested that in reality these orders amounted to an approval (3).
When on December 27 www.chiesa published Arinze’s letter in its entirety, Gennarini called the very authenticity of this letter into question. He added that "this does not change its nature of a confidential and internal instrumentum laboris (working instrument)," devoid of any normative force. He restated that the only valid norm is "the confirmation by the Holy Father of the liturgical praxis of the Way." And by way of proof he cited the blessing that the pope would bestow a few days later upon the Neocatechumenal families leaving on mission, during the audience of January 12 (4).
The audience did, in fact, take place. And so did the blessing. But there was also a second, ringing summons to obedience from Benedict XVI:
"Recently the congregation for divine worship and the discipline of the sacraments imparted to you, in my name, some norms concerning the Eucharistic celebration, after the trial period that had been granted by the servant of God John Paul II. I am certain that these norms, which draw upon the provisions of the liturgical books approved by the Church, will meet with attentive compliance from you." (5)
There was no comment from the directors of the Way after this second call from the pope. But word was given to the 20,000 communities to continue as before.
To read further please click here.


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