Mass to Mark Holy Father’s 80th Birthday
The Vatican plans to celebrate the 80th birthday of Pope Benedict XVI with a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, according to Deutsche Presse Agentur.
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope’s vicar for Rome, said the Mass is due to take place on April 15, a day before the Holy Father’s actual day of birth. Cardinal Ruini also called on the faithful to pray on April 19, the second anniversary of Pope Benedict’s election.
Benedict Criticizes Civil Unions Bill
Pope Benedict decried the Italian Parliament’s planned legislation that would grant legal rights to civil unions, including same-sex couples, the international news service AKI reported.
Saying that the bill, which was approved in early February by the Italian government, will weaken the family and harm society, the Holy Father added, “No legislation can change the law of the Creator without making the future of society precarious with laws which are in stark contrast with natural law.”
“A very concrete application of this principle can be found in relation to the family, which is the intimate communion of life as founded by the Creator, with its own rules,” Benedict also said. The family “has its stability under divine laws. The good fortune of spouses and society does not depend on arbitrary acts.”
Vatican Raises Status of Nepal to Vicariate
Pope Benedict raised the Church in Nepal to the status of a vicariate and appointed Msgr. Anthony Sharma as its first bishop, reported the Union of Catholic Asian News.
Cheers rang out at Kathmandu’s Assumption Church on the morning of Feb. 10 when the announcement was made. Bishop-designate Sharma, 69, was the first ethnic Nepalese to be ordained a Jesuit priest. He had been serving as apostolic prefect and has headed the Catholic Church in Nepal since 1984, the year after it was made a sui iuris (self-governing) mission.
According to the 2005-2006 Catholic Directory for Nepal, Christians number approximately 1 million, about 7,500 of them Catholics, in a population of 28 million. Many of Nepal’s Catholics live in the eastern part of the country, where three parishes were set up in 1999. When the late Pope John Paul II took office in 1978, there were fewer than 2,000 Catholics.