MAY 06, 2012, Vol 62, No 09
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will be celebrated on April 29, 2012, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, prompts us to meditate on the theme: Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God.
The source of every perfect gift is God who is Love – Deus caritas est: “Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1 Jn 4:16). Sacred Scripture tells the story of this original bond between God and man, which precedes creation itself. Writing to the Christians of the city of Ephesus, Saint Paul raises a hymn of gratitude and praise to the Father who, with infinite benevolence, in the course of the centuries accomplishes his universal plan of salvation, which is a plan of love. In his Son Jesus – Paul states – “he chose us, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him in love” (Eph 1:4). We are loved by God even “before” we come into existence! Moved solely by his unconditional love, he created us “not … out of existing things” (cf. 2 Macc 7:28), to bring us into full communion with Him.
“Young people are an asset for all societies,” said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, in a message for Vesak Day. The Buddhist festival commemorates the key events in the life of the Buddha.
In the message released on April 3, Cardinal Tauran said that as students around the world increasingly have classmates with different beliefs from their own, schools have a responsibility to guide the young in reflecting on their own beliefs, learning about the beliefs and religious practices of others and growing in respect for others.
Education helps young people “advance together as responsible human beings and to be ready to join hands with those of other religions to resolve conflicts and to promote friendship, justice, peace and authentic human development,” the cardinal said.
But young people aren’t simply a hope for humanity’s future, their reflections and their energy help adults grow in virtue as well, he said.
Believers and institutions must have a legal right to invoke conscientious objection when faced with “legislative norms that, because of their moral implications, are in conflict with moral norms officially affirmed by one’s religious authorities”, said Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, former president of the commission governing Vatican City State.
The cardinal made his remarks in a speech on April 17 at the law school of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy. Large sections of his speech were published by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
Governments must always guarantee “the freedom of the Church and its institutions to live and act in conformity with its religious convictions and, at the same time, the freedom of individuals to live and act in conformity with the dictates of their consciences”, the cardinal said.
He explained to his audience that his remarks were prompted “most of all by the recent experience in the United States, a country which through the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights was founded precisely on religious freedom”.
The 12-page statement by the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty also calls for “a fortnight for freedom” from June 21, the vigil of the feasts of St John Fisher and St Thomas More, to July 4, US Independence Day.
“This special period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action would emphasise both our Christian and American heritage of liberty,” the committee said. “Dioceses and parishes around the country could choose a date in that period for special events that would constitute a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.”
The document was made public on April 12. It comes in the wake of a controversial government health insurance mandate that the committee cited as a “concrete” example of recent threats to religious liberty.
The Department of Health and Human Services had mandated that most health plans must include contraception, sterilisation and some abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, even if the employer is morally opposed to such services.
The committee statement says this amounts “to an unjust law”.