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FEATURING GERALD O’COLLINS,AIDAN NICHOLS, MELANIE McDONAGH, ROBERT BARRON, GEORGE WEIGEL, STEPHEN HOUGH AND MANY OTHERS CHRISTMASTIDE DOUBLE ISSUE

No. 6538

Give hope to world in grip of crisis, Pope urges youth

BY MADELEINE TEAHAN

POPE BENEDICT XVI has said that “a shadow has fallen over our time” and appealed to young people to offer new hope.

The Pope made his comments during his annual message for World Peace Day, which he dedicated to educating young people.

Addressing nations across the universal Church, Pope Benedict XVI invited the world to look at 2012 with confidence and trust, but admitted that “the year now ending has been marked by a rising sense of frustration at the crisis looming over society, the world of labour and the economy, a crisis whose roots are primarily cultural and anthropological”.

He called on the young to recognise that “you yourselves are an example and an inspiration to adults, even more so to the extent that you seek to overcome injustice and corruption and strive to build a better future”.

He said: “Be aware of your potential; never become selfcentred but work for a brighter future for all. You are never alone. The Church has confidence in you, follows you, encourages you and wishes to offer you the most precious gift she has: the opportunity to raise your eyes to God, to encounter Jesus Christ, who is himself justice and peace.”

Benedict XVI placed the importance of educating and appreciating young people at the heart of his World Peace Day message.

He said that education must be rooted in truth and freedom, which can only be fully understood in relation to God.

He said: “Education, indeed, is concerned with the integral formation of the person, including the moral and spiritual dimension, focused upon man’s final end and the good of society to which he belongs. Therefore, in order to educate in the truth it is necessary first and foremost to know who the human person is, to know human nature.”

The Pope said that freedom was a “precious” but “fragile” value and that a culture of relativism had produced an “insidious obstacle” to education.

He said: “In order to exercise his freedom, then, man must move beyond the relativistic horizon and come to know the truth about himself and the truth about good and evil. Deep within his conscience man discovers a law that he did not lay upon himself but which he must obey.”

Pope Benedict appealed to educators, describing the family as the “first school in which we are trained in justice and peace”, and saying that for young people the presence of parents is the “most precious of treasures”.

He continued by addressing those in charge of educational institutions, urging them to ensure that the “dignity of each person is always respected and appreciated”.

He said: “Let them be concerned that every young person be able to discover his or her own vocation and helped to develop his or her God-given gifts.”

The Pope emphasised that educators should defend freedom of conscience and religion, saying: “May they reassure families that their children can receive an education that does not conflict with their consciences and their religious principles.”

He also urged young people to find freedom by returning to God. He said: “To all, and to young people in particular, I wish to say emphatically: it is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true... an unconditional return to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love. And what could ever save us apart from love?”

Full text: Page 6

CatholicHerald.co.uk

December 23 2011 £3 (Republic of Ireland €3.60)

Christmas tree lit in St Peter’s Square

ALLLL SSPPRRUUCCEEDD UUPP: The Vatican Christmas tree, a gift from Ukraine, is decorated with 2,500 gold ornaments and silver figures of angels and animals. It is a 98ft spruce tree

Hope of papal trip to Ireland rekindled

BY ED WEST

THE IRISH foreign minister has said that the government would welcome a state visit from Pope Benedict XVI in an apparent U-turn.

Appearing before the Irish foreign affairs committee last week, foreign minister Eamon Gilmore said that Ireland’s leaders would welcome a visit from the Pope, reversing recent statements that they had no interest in such a visit.

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Addressing the committee on the closure of embassies in the Vatican, East Timor and Iran, Mr Gilmore, who also holds the position of Tánaiste, or deputy prime minister, said that a papal visit would “be responded to positively by the government”, according to RTÉ.

Committee chairman Pat Breen welcomed the remarks, saying that with next year’s Eucharistic Congress to be held in Dublin it would be an ideal opportunity for such a visit.

Mr Gilmore said that the decision to close the Irish embassy to the Holy See was the result of financial problems but that it was taken with reluctance. In the committee Fianna Fáil TD Seán Ó Fearghail said the decision was a mistake which had hurt many people.

Back in early November Mr Gilmore said that the Pope had not been invited to Ireland and that an invitation was not under “active consideration”.

CHRISTMAS WISHES

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SHAHBAZ BHATTI

OUR CATHOLIC OF THE YEAR

PAGE 12

DANIEL KALDER

His apparent turnaround came at the end of one of the worst years in relations between the Holy See and the Irish government. The low point came in July when Mr Kenny said the Vatican was characterised by “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism” during a speech in the Dáil.

2012: NOT THE END

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OF THE WORLD

PAGE 13

Hildegard of Bingen ‘to be made a Doctor of the Church next year’ BY DAVID V BARRETT

THE MEDIEVAL German mystic, theologian, composer and herbalist Hildegard of Bingen will be proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in October next year, according to a leading Vatican commentator.

The claim was made by La Stampa writer Andrea Tornielli, and has not been denied by the Vatican.

Hildegard (1098-1179) was the 10th child of a wealthy family. She had visions from a very early age, and when she was just eight was sent to live with the anchoress Jutta for religious education. The anchorage was attached to the Benedictine monastery at Disibodenberg. When Jutta died Hildegard, then 38, was elected head of the convent that was developing within the anchorage. In 1147 she moved her growing community to Bingen.

She began writing down her visions in 1141, and in 1151 Pope Eugenius III gave her the Church’s seal of approval when he read out her first theological visionary work, Scivias (“Know the Ways of the Lord”), to his cardinals. She wrote several other books including two more theological works and a groundbreaking study of natural medicines. Today she is probably best known, both inside and outside the Church, for the ethereal quality of her music, with its unusual, soaring intervals. Music, she said, was a way of recapturing the beauty and joy of paradise.

Last year Pope Benedict said of Hildegard: “She brought a woman’s insight to the mysteries of the faith. In her many works she contemplated the mystic marriage between God and humanity accomplished in the Incarnation, as well as the spousal union of Christ and the

Church. She also explored the vital relationship between God and creation, and our human calling to give glory to God by a life of holiness and virtue.”

As Hildegard has never been canonised it is expected that this would take place before she was named a Doctor of the Church. The title is given to those who have made a lasting contribution to theology and who are of “eminent learning” and “great sanctity”.

Only three of the 33 Doctors are female: St Teresa of Avila, St Catherine of Siena and St Thérèse of Lisieux.

Actor manhandled on visit to pro-lifer

BY DAVID V BARRETT

THE ACTOR Christian Bale was manhandled by security guards in China last week as he tried to visit a prominent pro-life activist.

The actor, who is best known for playing Batman, was attempting to visit Chen Guangcheng, a blind selftaught lawyer who opposes China’s forced abortions and sterilisations. He has been under effective house arrest in his village for 15 months.

Mr Bale travelled for eight hours from Beijing to the village, but when he tried to see Mr Guangcheng he and the CNN film crew with him were jostled and punched, then chased away in their car.

“I’m not brave doing this,” Mr Bale said. “The local people who are standing up to the authorities, who are visiting Chen and his family and getting beaten or detained, I want to support them.”

Mother Teresa nuns pray for Hitchens

BY DAVID V BARRETT

THE ORDER of nuns founded by Blessed Mother Teresa is praying for the soul of Christopher Hitchens, the iconoclastic journalist who died last week of cancer of the oesophagus.

Hitchens was a fierce critic of Mother Teresa, calling her “a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud”. The Vatican called on him to argue against her 2003 beatification, and he later said he was chosen to “represent the Devil pro bono”.

Sister Christie, spokeswoman of the Missionaries of Charity, said: “We will pray for him and for his family.”

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said he wished that he had met Hitchens and been able to invite him to take part in the Courtyard of the Gentiles project, which brings together atheists and Catholics. The events are named after an area in the Temple of Jerusalem where Jews and Gentiles could meet.

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