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Pope’s Simple Style Influencing Cardinal Fashion.


Image: Pope's Simple Style Influencing Cardinal Fashion

No glitzy gold, no rich velvet, no regal fur. Pope Francis’ pared down papal wardrobe of sensible black shoes and a white cassock so thin you can see his black trousers through it is a perfect fit for his call for simplicity and humility among his clergy.

The pope’s personal style — which earned him Esquire magazine’s “Best Dressed Man of 2013” award — and his broader message of sobriety will be put to the test Saturday when he inducts 19 prelates into the College of Cardinals, placing the three-cornered red silk biretta on the heads of the new “princes of the church.”

Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man
For the festive occasion, cardinals are traditionally outfitted in scarlet from head to toe, from the silk skull cap to bright red socks, with a white lace embroidered surplice known as a rochet worn over the red cassock and underneath the mozzetta, or shoulder cape.

But with the “slum pope” now calling the sartorial shots, fashionistas and Vaticanistas are wondering how his new cardinals — who hail from some of the poorest places on Earth, including Haiti, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast — will dress themselves for their new role.

“What will make the difference at the consistory is how the cardinals interpret this traditional outfit,” said Raniero Mancinelli who has dressed cardinals and even popes since the early 1960’s from his tiny shop right outside the Vatican walls.

Will they splurge for the fancy, optional red silk cape favored by some first-world cardinals? Or will they go the route of the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who according to clerical legend wore an altered hand-me-down cassock inherited from his predecessor for his 2001 consistory?

“The cardinals and priests are much more careful of shining and spend less on their clothes,” Mancinelli told The Associated Press. “The gilded miters are only in shop windows. This is a consequence of Francis. They want to show they are on the same pastoral page.”

Mancinelli, who is getting little sleep these days putting the finishing touches on outfits commissioned by several of the new cardinals, has some tips of what to watch out for on Saturday, when Francis will preside over the consistory formally welcoming the new cardinals.

Immediately noticeable will be how much lace is on the rochet, once sewn by hand — with a price-tag to match — but now often machine made. “This is the Francis effect,” he said of the cheaper version as he ran his fingers over a prototype.

Back in 2001 when the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires was made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II, he wore a simple rochet with only two thin bands of embroidered lace.

Another saving can come in the material used for the cassock itself. Once made out of precious silk and cashmere, the cassocks are now often synthetic: polyester for the red lining and territal, a synthetic wool blend.

“It costs less and also lasts longer, that’s for sure,” Macinelli said.

Once handmade, the 33 red buttons (representing the years of Christ’s life) are now more often than not machine made.

The cardinals’ red, it should be noted, isn’t just a fabulous fashion statement: As Francis will recite when he places the biretta on each prelate’s head, red symbolizes a cardinal’s readiness to sacrifice his life for the church and “to act with courage, even to the shedding of your blood.”

Altogether, a cardinal’s outfit runs in the “few hundreds of euros, not few thousands,” Mancinelli said. One relatively reasonable add-on: a pair of red socks at 12 euros a pop.

Cardinal watchers might also want to keep their eyes on the pectoral crosses worn by the churchmen: When the Jesuit Bergoglio became a bishop in 1992, a friend bought him the simple metal pectoral cross he continues to wear as pope (having eschewed the gold-plated one offered to him the night of his election). Bergoglio’s metal cross was purchased in Mancinelli’s shop and identical versions are on sale for about 330 euros today.

And of course, there are the parties that follow the consistory. In the past, new cardinals have been known to have sumptuous receptions thrown on their behalf by donors, friendly religious orders or church institutions. They are meant to entertain the parishioners, friends and family who may have travelled long distances for the occasion. It should be recalled that when Francis was installed as pope, he asked his sister to stay home in Argentina and for his other countrymen to donate to charity the money they would have spent to travel to Rome.

In a personal letter sent to his new cardinals in early January, Francis asked them to accept his nomination with joy, but to “do so in a way that this avoids any expression of worldliness, or any celebration alien to the evangelical spirit of austerity, simplicity and poverty.”

Mancinelli said that ever since Francis became pope a year ago, there has been a bit of “belt-tightening” all around in clerical garb, due also to the global economic crisis.

But there will always be exceptions. Across the Tiber river from the Vatican and Mancinelli’s small shop is Gammarelli, tailors by papal appointment and founded in 1798. Gammarelli famously prepares the three white outfits — small, medium and large — that a newly elected pope picks according to his size to wear out onto the balcony of St. Peter’s after his election.

Sixth generation Lorenzo Gammarelli said Francis’ call for sobriety — which Esquire credited with subtly signaling “a new era (and for many, renewed hope) for the Catholic Church” — hadn’t really affected business at all.

“Those who were simple before remain simple today,” he said. And vice versa. Speaking in front of the old world shop window decorated with the finest of scarlet cardinal garb, including that fancy red cape, he acknowledged: “Simplicity is not here.”

Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

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Pope Opens Critical Week for Reform, Family Issues.


Image: Pope Opens Critical Week for Reform, Family IssuesPope Francis celebrates a mass during his visit to the San Tommaso Apostolo parish church on the outskirts of Rome on Feb. 16.

Pope Francis is opening the most critical week of his year-old papacy: Two commissions of inquiry on Vatican finance will report their recommendations for reform and preparations get under way for a summit on family issues that will deal with the widespread rejection by Catholics of church teaching on contraception, divorce and gay unions.

In between, Francis will preside over his first ceremony to formally welcome 19 new cardinals into the elite club of churchmen who will eventually elect his successor. In typical Francis style, the new cardinals hail from some of the poorest places on earth, including Haiti, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

The first half of Francis’ busy week will be devoted to the third meeting of his “Group of Eight” advisers, the senior cardinals representing every continent who Francis appointed to help him govern the church and overhaul the antiquated and inefficient Vatican bureaucracy. They are due to hear recommendations from two panels of experts on reforming the troubled Vatican bank and rationalizing the Holy See’s overall financial and administrative structures.

Francis was elected with a mandate to reform the Roman Curia, as the Holy See administration is known, to make it more responsive to the needs of the 21st century Catholic Church. He wants to make the curia more of a support to bishops trying to spread the faith rather than an obstacle. He has made bureaucratic reform his first-year priority, paying special attention to the scandal-marred Vatican bank, long accused by Italian authorities as being an off-shore tax haven for well-connected Italians and, more recently, a place where money could be laundered.

On the eve of the G8 meeting, the head of the Vatican bank pleaded his case to Francis’ hometown newspaper, telling Argentina’s La Nacion daily that his process of reform hadn’t yielded any “systematic violations” of the Vatican’s anti-money laundering laws but just some “black sheep.”

One of those black sheep is Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, an accountant in the Vatican’s finance ministry who is currently on trial for allegedly trying to smuggle 20,000 euro ($26,000) from Switzerland to Italy, and is also accused in another case of using his Vatican bank accounts to launder money. The bank’s top two managers resigned in July after Scarano was arrested.

“We’re in a crucial moment,” the bank president, Ernst Von Freyberg, told La Nacion. “The (bank) commission will hand in its report in the coming days, as will the commission on the economic affairs, and then the Holy Father will decide what to do.”

While Von Freyberg said he didn’t know if outright closure was an option, doing so would certainly deprive Francis of the 50 million euros a year the bank gives the pope for his works of charity.

Von Freyberg, Benedict XVI’s last major appointment before resigning, outsourced his reform to the U.S. consulting firm Promontory Group. The other commission of inquiry, tasked with advising the Holy See on more structural reforms in its overall financial and administrative sphere, also brought in outside experts, tapping McKinsey & Co. to help modernize its communications operations and KPMG to bring its accounting up to international standards.

One of Francis’ top advisers and a member of the G8, Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, cautioned against any quick decisions being made by the pope after the commissions present their recommendations.

“Things of the Lord take time,” Maradiaga told private TGCom24.

On a slightly more accelerated timetable are plans for the October meeting of bishops at the Vatican on family issues. A broader group of cardinals are expected to discuss the summit, or synod, in the second half of the week and then the main planning group gets down to work early next week.

Francis called the synod late last year and took the unusual step of commissioning surveys from ordinary Catholics about how they understand and practice church teaching relating to marriage, sex and other issues related to the family.

The results, at least those reported by bishops in Europe and the United States, have been an eye-opener: The church’s core teachings on sexual morals, birth control, homosexuality, marriage and divorce were rejected as unrealistic and outdated by the vast majority of Catholics, who nevertheless said they were active in parish life and considered their faith vitally important.

Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida recently summarized the results of his survey, to which some 6,800 people responded. Most were older, married Catholics and regular churchgoers. But even they found church teaching out of synch with today’s world.

“On the matter of artificial contraception the responses might be characterized by the saying, ‘that train left the station long ago,'” he recently wrote. “Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful) suggests the rejection of church teaching on this subject.”
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

In Private Diaries, Pope John Paul Asked: Am I Serving God?.


Image: In Private Diaries, Pope John Paul Asked: Am I Serving God?

Pope John Paul II spent decades constantly questioning whether he was worthy of the role he was called to carry out, according to private diaries published on Wednesday in defiance of his request that they be destroyed.John Paul, who led the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 until his death in 2005, will be made a saint in April and remains for many Catholics a towering model of faith and commitment.

The diaries give a glimpse into his interior spiritual life, showing a man who never became complacent despite the grandeur of the papacy and his star status among many Catholics. Instead he agonized about whether he was doing enough to serve God.

Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man
His handwritten notes, published as “John Paul II: I am very much in God’s hands. Personal notes 1962-2003,” are a series of his reflections rather than a daily diary.

Although he played a very active public role in communist-era Poland and as pope, the man born Karol Wojtyla in southern Poland in 1920 rarely referred to public events in these pages.

In one note in 1981, the then Cardinal Wojtyla reflected on a theological discussion with other clerics and asked:

“The word of the Lord. Do I love the word of God? Do I live by it? Do I serve it willingly. Help me, Lord, to live by your word,” he asked. “Do I serve the Holy Spirit that lives in the Church?”

In the same passage, he wrote, alternating between Latin and his native Polish: “A pure, holy and immaculate sacrifice. This is why He demands from his priests that they should be of undivided heart (celibate) and demands priestly purity. Jesus, help me!”

 

DZIWISZ IGNORED REQUEST

Before his death, John Paul entrusted his diaries to Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, his personal secretary and now a cardinal in the southern city of Krakow, with instructions that they be burned.

In the foreword to the book, Dziwisz said he did not burn them because they hold the key to understanding the pope’s private spiritual life.

“They reveal the other side of the person whom we knew as .. the pastor of the universal Church,” wrote the cardinal, who was both praised and criticised in Polish Catholic circles after announcing the publication of the book last month.

Now available only in Polish, the 638-page book is dominated by deep theological reflections that reveal little of what the pope was otherwise thinking or doing when he wrote them.

The picture that emerges deepens but does not jar with his public image, in contrast to the posthumous diaries of Mother Teresa – who died in 1997 and was beatified by John Paul in 2003 – that revealed her long periods of doubt about God’s existence.

Despite the questioning of his own role, there is no sign in the diaries from 1962 to 2003 that the pope’s belief in God wavered.

The first signs of his questioning appear in comments from 1970 where he wrote: “Can the misfortunes of people close to me, which have happened recently, be seen as a punishment? As a sign? What can it mean?”

He paid close attention to the skills required of a priest. “What language do I use when I speak to people?” he asked in 1974. “Do I proclaim the Gospel with complete conviction?”

In his final years, debilitated by illness, the pope’s entries become sparser and the handwriting less assured.

Francis: Who Is Pope Francis? Book Reveals the Man
The last entry in 2003 referred to the Biblical story of Jonah, who was ordered by God to preach his word but instead runs away.

The pope, who before his final illness travelled tirelessly around the globe preaching the Gospel, wrote in a sloping script in Italian across the bottom of the page: “Jonah, this is the fear of proclaiming the love of God.”

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Poll Reveals Most (and Least) Bible-Minded Cities in US.


 

Bible study
American Bible Society’s study of America’s most Bible-minded cities found that, while the Bible Belt continues to perform strongly, East Coast cities continue to bring up the rear. (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

When it comes to U.S. cities that embrace the Bible, Tennessee still has bragging rights. The latest release ranking from American Bible Society finds Chattanooga, Tenn., is America’s most Bible-minded city. Chattanooga takes over the No. 1 ranking from Knoxville, Tenn., which claimed the top spot in 2012.

American Bible Society’s study of America’s most Bible-minded cities found that, while the Bible Belt continues to perform strongly, East Coast cities continue to bring up the rear. While ranked No. 1 in Bible mindedness, Chattanooga ranks 87th in population size. Just one of the top 10 Bible-minded cities ranks in the top 25 cities by population size. Charlotte, N.C., America’s sixth most Bible-minded city is the 25th most populous city.

This marks the second annual survey conducted by American Bible Society based on city-specific data collected by Barna Group. For the second year, a closer look at the findings indicates an inverse relationship between population density and Bible friendliness. Of the top 25 Bible-minded markets, only three have a population of greater than 1 million households: Charlotte; Nashville, Tenn.; and Dallas.

Most Bible-Minded Cities (with previous year’s ranking)

  1.  Chattanooga, Tenn. (3)
  2.  Birmingham, Ala. (4)
  3.  Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va. (8)
  4.  Springfield, Mo. (6)
  5.  Shreveport, La. (2)
  6.  Charlotte, N.C. (7)
  7.  Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./Asheville, N.C. (11)
  8.  Little Rock, Ark. (12)
  9.  Jackson, Miss. (5)
  10. Knoxville, Tenn. (1)

Least Bible-Minded Cities (with previous year’s ranking)

  1. Providence, R.I./ New Bedford, Mass. (1)
  2. Albany, N.Y.(2)
  3. Boston, Mass. (6)
  4. San Francisco (7)
  5. Cedar Rapids, Iowa (9)
  6. Buffalo, N.Y (10)
  7. Hartford/New Haven, Conn. (5)
  8. Phoenix, Ariz. (8)
  9. Burlington, Vt. (3)
  10. Portland, Maine (4)

The study analyzes the Bible mindedness of the top 100 cities by population across the U.S. Bible mindedness is calculated based on combined levels of regular Bible reading and residents’ belief in the Bible’s accuracy. To view the full list of city rankings, follow this link.

“An analysis of interaction with and views of the Bible continues to help us evaluate the Bible landscape in America,” said Geoffrey Morin, chief communications officer at American Bible Society. “To help people engage with the best-selling book of all time’s life-changing message, we need to understand where people are starting from. But ultimately, we want people to know whether you live in one of the most or least Bible-minded cities, the Bible can speak to your needs, challenges and concerns, and help you make sense of life.”

The data reported is based upon telephone and online interviews with nationwide random samples of 46,274 adults conducted over a seven-year period, ending in August 2013. The maximum margin of sampling error associated with the aggregate sample is ±0.5 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Respondents who report reading the Bible within the past seven days and who agree strongly in the accuracy of the Bible are classified as “Bible Minded.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

RELIGION NEWS SERVICE

Joel Osteen Taking His Gospel to Yankee Stadium for Second Time.


Joel Osteen
Joel Osteen

Joel and Victoria Osteen will hold their sixth annual America’s Night of Hope at Yankee Stadium on June 7, 2014, an evening of hope and inspiration expected to draw more than 55,000 people from across the country.

This is the second America’s Night of Hope to be hosted at Yankee Stadium. The first was on April 25, 2009—nine days after the new ballpark opened—and was the first non-baseball event held at the venue. These annual stadium-sized events have also been held at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles (2010), U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago (2011), Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. (2012), and Marlins Park in Miami (2013).

“Victoria and I love the people of New York,” Osteen says. “We’re excited to be at Yankee Stadium again, and we believe people will be uplifted and filled with an expectation that their best days are still to come.”

As a part of the activities surrounding America’s Night of Hope, Joel Osteen Ministries will reach into New York City’s local communities with hundreds of volunteers—many from Houston—in order to bring hope through acts of kindness and compassion.

Known as the Generation Hope Project, this effort is a major part of the America’s Night of Hope event and, since 2012, has already provided thousands of volunteer hours of service through work projects at schools, parks and community centers in Washington, D.C., and Miami, Fla.

This year’s Generation Hope Project will focus on mentoring, developing one-to-one relationships in which one person fosters the personal and professional growth of someone else. Volunteers will have an opportunity to work with young people who need strong adult role models.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Does Fatherlessness Produce Faithless Atheists?.


 

father and son
A Catholic psychologist says absentee fathers can damage ability to form a relationship with a heavenly father. (Sara K/Flickr/Creative Commons)

A once-popular book that links atheism with shoddy fathering is getting a second life with a new publisher, thanks, in part, to the rise of nonbelief in the United States.

Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheismby Catholic psychologist Paul C.Vitz posits that “intense atheists” throughout history—Nietzsche, Voltaire and Madalyn Murray O’Hair—had absent or rotten fathers. This, he argues, damaged their ability to form a relationship with a heavenly father.

Vitz also holds that many notable believers—Renaissance man Blaise Pascal, anti-slavery activist William Wilberforce and Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, among others—had great relationships with their dads, and were therefore more able to build relationships with God.

“We need to understand atheism has a lot to do with our emotional attitudes towards life, other people and a lot of other things,” Vitz said from his office at the Institute for the Psychological Sciences, a Catholic graduate school in Arlington, Va. “I think that is an important thing for atheists and believers alike to take into consideration.”

And consider it they have. When the book first appeared in 1999, it polarized critics. The religious media loved it. New Oxford Review, a Catholic publication, described it as “an engaging analysis of psychological factors in religious belief and disbelief.”

But the atheist and humanist media did not swoon. Skeptic magazine panned it as “insulting to those of us who came to a point of non-belief as the result of careful study and consideration.”

Still, the book struck a chord, especially among Christian groups who saw the collapse of the traditional family as a threat to their beliefs. Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based Christian ministry, used Vitz’s findings to promote its outreach to fathers, and he was cited by a host of Christian psychologists and scholars.

So why revise the book?

A lot has changed since 1999. For one, the first decade of the 21st century saw the rise of the so-called “New Atheists”—outspoken critics of religion such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett, whom many contemporary atheists credit for swelling the ranks of nonbelievers.

And their ranks have swelled. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who are atheists and agnostics has grown from 3.7 percent to 5.7 percent from 2007 to 2012, and the overall number of those who say they have no religion has grown from 11.6 to just under 14 percent in the same time period.

“The rise of militant, evangelical, fundamentalist atheism in our time adds to the pertinence of this book,” said Mark Brumley, president of Ignatius Press, the Catholic publishing house that has reissued the book.

“Some atheists try to equate atheism with rationality. Vitz’s book shows that atheism, like many belief systems, has significant irrational elements.”

Vitz said he wanted to revise the book not only to include the New Atheists, whose family relationships he scrutinizes (Dawkins was sexually molested by a clergyman, a subject he has discussed before), but also because there was new research about atheists and attachment theory (generally, they didn’t get much of it) and atheists and autism (many autistic people are also atheists, the book claims).

As he did in the first edition, Vitz makes an important point—the book does not try to prove or disprove the existence of God. Rather, its goal is to examine some of the “irrational” underlying reasons some people become atheists.

“I am certainly not predicting that every atheist is the result of one hypothesis, much less mine,” he said. “I am just saying there is a tendency for more things to go together than you’d expect normally,” like atheism and a poor relationship with one’s father.

The reaction to the book, again, has been polarizing. Christians love it—Paul de Vries, president of New York Divinity School, a Protestant school, praised it as “one of the most profound books in the empirical psychology of religion.”

But atheists are less enthusiastic. “I have a spectacular relationship with my father and consider him to be the most admirable man I’ve ever known,” wrote JT Eberhard, an atheist blogger for Patheos. Many of the comments on his review are unprintable.

Vitz, a Catholic who identified as an atheist in his youth, acknowledges there are exceptions to his theory. He identifies a big one in his book—Sam Harris, a New Atheist who hit the best-seller list withThe End of Faith, has an apparently healthy relationship with his father, too.

“The best answer I have to explain that is I don’t know,” he said. “I haven’t studied them (the exceptions) enough.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

KIMBERLY WINSTON/RNS


Copyright 2013 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

Pope Baptizes 32 Children; Allows Breast Feeding in Sistine Chapel.


VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis baptized 32 babies in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday and told their mothers, including one who was married in a civil service rather than in church, to have no qualms about breast feeding them there.

Unlike his predecessors, who usually delivered long and theology-laden homilies at the yearly baptism event, the Pope offered a brief, improvised homily of some 300 words centered on the children.

“Today the choir will sing but the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise. Some will cry because they are not comfortable or because they are hungry,” he said in a familiar, relaxed tone to the parents.

Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel are some of the world’s most celebrated works of art. The ceiling depicts the creation of man and the altar wall shows a severe God at the Last Judgment. But the Pope told the mothers not to feel intimidated by the surroundings.

“If they are hungry, mothers, feed them, without thinking twice. Because they are the most important people here,” he said, speaking in the same room where he was elected on March 13 as the first non-European Pope in 1,300 years.

Francis said in an interview last month that mothers should not feel uncomfortable breast feeding during his ceremonies.

In another apparent first in the Vatican, the parents of one of the babies, 7-month-old Giulia Scardia, at the ceremony were not married in church but only at a civil service in a town hall — meaning their marriage is technically not recognized by the Catholic Church.

But the Pope has said several times since his election that the Church must not make children of couples in irregular situations feel like second-class faithful, and he agreed to baptize Giulia Scardia into the faith.

“We decided to get married very quickly,” Giulia’s mother Nicoletta told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. “We were in a hurry and there was no time to organize a church ceremony. Maybe we will do it sometime.”

Sunday’s service was the latest example of the more down-to-earth style Francis has introduced in the Vatican.

He has renounced the spacious papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors and lives is a small apartment in a Vatican guest house.

Francis uses the palace only to receive heads of state and to address crowds from one of its windows overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

He has also given up the papal limousine and is driven around Rome in a Ford Focus, sometimes sitting in the front seat next to the driver.

Baptism is the sacrament at which infants or converts are initiated into the Christian faith. Francis poured water on the foreheads of the infants as part of the ritual.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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