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Pope Benedict's Trip to Cuba: Journey to Hostile Terrain (3321)

The communist government makes it easier for Cubans to participate in papal visit, but the Church still suffers.

03/26/2012 Comments (2)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Women with the Ladies in White group, also known as Damas de Blanco, march after church. The dissident group are the wives and mothers of 75 people who had been arrested and received lengthy prison sentences but have all been freed, most as part of a 2010 agreement brokered by the Church.

– Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pope Benedict XVI has not traveled to as many countries as Pope John Paul II did in his first seven years as Pope — 22 countries compared to about 75.

But Pope Benedict has taken on significant belly-of-the-beast excursions, visits that require the Holy Father to assert the Catholic theological and moral vision in an embattled context, whether it be Germany, Turkey or England.

Benedict’s pilgrimage to Cuba, which begins this afternoon, is another journey into hostile terrain. Cuba’s government has been one of the most relentlessly anti-religious in the world.

Yet the communist government is giving paid leave to state workers who want to attend papal events. And Cardinal Jaime Ortega,...READ MORE

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'I Feel Like a Mexican Pope' (5443)

Pope Benedict speaks spontaneously to a crowd gathered outside the Colegio Miraflores, while a mariachi band bids him a traditional farewell.

03/26/2012 Comments (6)
Jeffrey Bruno

Pope Benedict XVI was offered a traditional sombrero as he arrived to celebrate Mass Sunday in Guanajuato.

– Jeffrey Bruno

LEÓN, Mexico — As the Holy Father returned Sunday night to the Colegio Miraflores to rest for the night, he was greeted by a crowd of the faithful who had gathered outside to catch a glimpse of him. Going off script, the Holy Father stopped to address them and to thank them for the warm welcome he had received in Mexico.

“I have made many trips, and I have never been received with so much enthusiasm,” he said, speaking in Italian, while Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to Mexico, translated his words into Spanish.

“Now I can say that Mexico will always be in my heart,” said the Pope, wearing a sombrero charro (cowboy hat) and lifting his arms in greeting to the cheering...READ MORE

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Pope Benedict XVI and the Power of Presence (2784)

Mass with the Holy Father in Bicentennial Park draws well over half a million and moves the faith of the Mexican people.

03/26/2012 Comment
Walter Sánchez Silva/CNA

Pilgrims attend Mass at Bicentenario Park.

– Walter Sánchez Silva/CNA

SILAO, Mexico — The journey from San Cristóbal de las Casas, a city located in Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas, takes more than 20 hours by bus.

For the small group of indigenous Mexicans who accompanied Auxiliary Bishop Enrique Díaz Diáz to the papal Mass in Silao, the bus ride was the easy part; many of them had to walk for hours to get from their distant rural communities to the San Cristóbal de las Casas bus station.

The participation of this flock, moved by a deep desire to see Pope Benedict XVI firsthand, was just one thread in the rich tapestry of people who converged March 25 on Bicentennial Park in the industrial city of Silao, about 20 miles from León.

As the Holy...READ MORE

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The HHS Mandate: Is the Battle About Religious Freedom or Contraception? (3589)

Are Americans ceding the debate on whether the culture will benefit from the state’s promotion of contraception? Helen Alvare weighs in.

03/26/2012 Comments (26)
CNA photo

Helen Alvare

– CNA photo

WASHINGTON — Since the contraception mandate was approved on Jan. 20 with a narrow religious exemption, opponents have called it an unprecedented threat to the “first freedom.”

Even as Democrats sought to redefine the issue as an attack on women’s access to contraception, Catholic leaders and their allies have mostly stayed on message during congressional hearings and media interviews.

But at a March 23 Georgetown University forum on the contraception mandate, Helen Alvare, a pro-life leader and law professor at George Mason University, took direct aim at the claimed health effects of government sponsored contraception programs, and other arguments the Obama administration has employed...READ MORE

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From the First Hail Mary to Christ's Final Breath (2531)

User's Guide to Sunday, March 25.

03/25/2012 Comments (1)

– Wikipedia

Sunday, March 25, is the Fifth Sunday in Lent.


March 25 is normally the feast of the Annunciation, but this important feast day is on Monday, March 26, this year.

This is the day when Mary heard the first “Hail Mary” — when the angel called her “Full of grace” and said, “The Lord is with you.”

It is interesting to note that the first half of the Hail Mary is all about the unborn Jesus. In addition to the angel’s greeting, it includes Elizabeth’s greeting during the Visitation: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

This is the last solemnity before Passion Sunday, bringing Catholics, in six days, from the first moments of Jesus’ life to the last...READ MORE

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Pope's Visit to Cuba: Historic Visit at Vital Time (3529)

March 25 issue preview of the Holy Father's trip this week.

03/25/2012 Comments (3)

PRAYERFUL PREPARATION. Cuban Catholics carry candles and pictures of Pope Benedict XVI during a Stations of the Cross procession in Havana March 7 in advance of the Holy Father’s visit.

– Reuters/Stringer

WASHINGTON — Pope Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Cuba March 26-28 has demonstrated the breathtaking power of the universal Church to erase borders.

When the bishop of Santiago de Cuba, the easternmost city in Cuba, realized he needed more priests for the expected surge in confessions around the Holy Father’s visit, he turned to his northern neighbors in the Archdiocese of Miami.

No matter that relations between the United States and Cuba remain tense, as they have been for more than 50 years. “Reconciliation” is the theme emphasized by the Church in both countries.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami recently shared Bishop Dionisio Garcia’s request with a gathering of archdiocesan priests,...READ MORE

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It Takes a Family (2446)

March 25 issue editorial relevant to the Solemnity of the Annunciation, March 26: what the Holy Family can teach modern families.

03/25/2012 Comments (5)

– Shutterstock

As the struggle over “social issues” continues unabated in the United States, the Church universal prayerfully seeks ways to counter a global slide into secularism.

According to a Catholic News Agency report, a meeting of the world’s bishops this October in Rome is likely to identify the family as the key place for beginning the re-evangelization of the Western world.

A Feb. 27 communiqué issued by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops identified the family as “the primary place for the transmission of faith.” It is in the family, the communiqué said, where “the faith is communicated to young people, who, in the family, learn both the contents and practice” of Catholic belief.


Filed under catholic families, domestic church, faith, family life, new evangelization

Pope Benedict and Mexican Children: an Invitation to Protect Those Who Will Inherit World (2614)

'My little friends, you are not alone,' Holy Father tells thousands gathered in Peace Square in Guanajuato.

03/25/2012 Comment
Walter Sánchez Silva/CNA

Crowds listen to Pope Benedict XVI speaking in La Plaze de la Paz in Guanajuato.

– Walter Sánchez Silva/CNA

GUANAJUATO, Mexico — Confetti fell like snow over Guanajuato’s picturesque streets, filled to the brim with cheering crowds estimated at 10,000 people — including a special contingent of children — as Pope Benedict XVI appeared in his popemobile on his way to the Plaza de la Paz (Peace Square). On the agenda was a meeting with President Felipe Calderón and his family, a special address specifically for children, and the reception of the keys to the cities of Guanajuato and León.

Children, from newborn to 14 years, make up just under 30% of the country’s population as a silent constituency that feels the impact of insecurity, poverty and violence perhaps more than anyone else. For the Pope,...READ MORE

Filed under children, drug wars, guanajuato, mexico, pope benedict xvi, sexual abuse

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