In this interview, the first in a series on these mysteries, Father Santiago
Martin, journalist, author, and founder of the Movement of the Franciscans of
Mary, meditates on this decisive moment in Jesus' life.
Q: What is recalled and meditated on in the first mystery of light of the
Father Martin: The baptism of the Lord. It was the beginning of Christ's
public life, although some believe that that happened with the miracle at the
wedding of Cana. The baptism made it clear that God was with Christ, backing his
person and his message. Moreover, the Lord instituted the sacrament of baptism,
which for us means redemption and divine filiation.
Father Martin: The Lord went to receive from John the Baptist a baptism that
was, for others, of penance. That baptism did not forgive sins, but served as a
rite of purification, as it showed publicly what existed in man's heart:
repentance. Christ, however, needed neither to repent nor to be purified. The
Baptist himself understood this, and initially he refused to baptize him and
asked to be baptized by him.
What Christ was seeking was a symbol of unity with man -- as he had done
earlier, when he allowed himself to be tempted in the desert -- at the same time
taking advantage of the occasion to institute the sacrament of baptism; the
Father would give him the first push into the world, thus beginning his public
life in sight of all.
Father Martin: Generally, we are baptized as children, which is wonderful, as
we are then cleansed of original sin from the beginning, and we are adopted
children of God and members of the Church. This is what baptism means. It is the
door that introduces us to the community of the children of God and enables us
to accede to the other sacraments. Moreover, it cleanses us of original sin and
personal sins that we might have.
Father Martin: Baptism is a sacrament that imprints "character," in
other words, it cannot be repeated. Even those who leave the Church, continue to
be baptized Catholics, just as one continues to be a child of one's father and
mother, even if one doesn't want to have anything more to do with them.
What we can do is to reiterate again and again our intention to be in the
Church, to be children of God, and to be saints. For example, when we enter a
church and bless ourselves with holy water, we are renewing spiritually our
baptismal promises and doing a gesture which means that we ask for forgiveness
for our sins and God's blessing to continue to be faithful Catholics.
Vatican Publishes Book to Aid in Recitation of Rosary for Peace
Initiative of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2003 (Zenit.org)
The Vatican has just published a book on the recitation of the Rosary for peace,
a response to John Paul II's petition for this year. "The Rosary of
Peace," written by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, comments
on the 20 mysteries of the Marian prayer with their relevant evangelical
passages and extracts from papal messages for World Days of Peace. The book,
which for the time being is published only in Italian (Edizioni Paoline), seeks
"to accompany the reflection on the great need for change and conversion on
which peace in the world depends," Archbishop Renato Martino says in the
introduction. Archbishop Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for
Justice and Peace, says that "the Rosary is a prayer that transforms, as it
removes the germ of evil from the one who recites it."
John Paul II has entrusted the important cause of peace to the Rosary
because, as he said on September 29, 2002 when praying the Angelus: "of
little use are political attempts, which are always necessary, if spirits remain
exacerbated and we are not capable of returning to dialogue with a fresh look
and with hope." The volume ends with a litany and a "Prayer to Mary,
Queen of Peace," composed for this purpose by Archbishop Martino.
Children Are Also Missionaries, Pope Says
VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2003 (Zenit.org)
If every baptized person is called to be a missionary, children and adolescents
must also respond to this challenge in their own environment, John Paul II said.
… He recommended that these boys and girls pray "the missionary
Rosary," where each decade has a color that represents a different
--White, he explained, "for old Europe, so that it will be able to recover the
evangelizing strength it has generated in so many Churches";
--Yellow "for Asia, full of life and youth";
--Green "for Africa, subjected to the trial of suffering";
--Red "for America, seedbed of new missionary energies';
-- Blue for "Oceania, which awaits a more capillary diffusion of the Gospel."
The Pontifical Missionary Society of Holy Childhood, founded in 1843, "defends the
rights of children to grow in their dignity of men and women."
The Icon of Virgin of Kazan: a Link Between Rome and Moscow?
Round Table Sees Icon as Source of New Hope
ROME, MAY 16, 2003 (Zenit.org)
Round table entitled "The Way Towards Kazan: the Pope's Desired Trip to
Russia" discusses how the return of the icon of the Virgin of Kazan might
bring the Vatican and the Patriarchate of Moscow closer. Experts on iconography,
Mary, and Catholic-Orthodox relations attended the round table discussions,
opened by Robert Moynihan, editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, with an
explanation of the history of the famous icon.
Moynihan revealed that "one
of the copies of this image, venerated in Russia, has been in the papal
apartments for a decade;" it is the image that the Pope might possibly
return to Russia. "A group
connected to Fatima, 'the Blue Army,' bought it from an English nobleman and
gave it to the Pontiff, hoping that one day he would be able to give it to the
Russian Orthodox Church, its place of origin," Moynihan explained.
On May 4, during John Paul II's recent trip to Spain, Vatican spokesman
Joaquin Navarro-Valls confirmed the Pope's desire to give this image to Alexei
II, patriarch of Moscow, as originally the icon belonged to the Orthodox Church.
Press sources said that the Vatican proposed that the image be handed
over in Kazan, a possible stopover, during the Pope's planned trip to Mongolia
this coming August. The editor of
"Inside the Vatican," which is celebrating its 10th anniversary,
wondered if "an icon might be the source of new hope," referring,
specifically, to the hope of a meeting between the Pope and the patriarch of
Moynihan, who had the opportunity
two years ago to admire the icon in the papal rooms, said that "as we know,
an icon is not a painting but a window: we don't know what this one will open
onto." Adriano Roccuci, member
of St. Egidio Community and their official spokesman before the Patriarchate of
Moscow, focused on the difficulties of the dialogue between Catholicism and
Orthodoxy, especially at the official level, and appealed for the
"uprooting of a culture of prejudice and the empowering of a culture of
personal encounter, specifically between Catholic faithful and Russian
In January, Roccuci, together
with Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, gave a reliquary of St. Valentine to the Russian
Church, which was grateful for the gift. Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow was
present when the reliquary was offered, attesting to his approval of the St.
In fact, the presence of members
of the Russian Orthodox Church has been a constant in all international meetings
to pray for peace, called by the St. Egidio Community.
Professor John Lindsay Opie and
journalist Eugene Vaghin, both Russians, discussed the iconographic aspects of
the Virgin of Kazan. Lindsay Opie reviewed the history of the different versions
of the icon's authenticity, while Vaghin said that the icon of Kazan was a point
of reference in his life, both during his childhood, when his grandmother had
the image in her home, as well as during his imprisonment in a gulag. The icon
that protects Russia still encloses many mysteries about its origin, dating, and
other technical aspects.
"However, the significance
of this icon is not so much its artistic value as its symbolic
significance." The Pope's returning it to Russia, during a stopover on his
way to Mongolia, might be an ecumenical gesture of unsuspected repercussions. A
copy of the image of Kazan, property of professor Lindsay Opie, was on display
during the round table, organized by the magazine "Inside the
Negotiations Underway for Pope to Return Icon of Kazan to Russia
VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2003 (Zenit.org)
The Vatican confirmed that negotiations are under way to make possible a papal
trip to Russia to return the icon of Our Lady of Kazan to the Russian Orthodox
On May 4, Vatican spokesman
Joaquin Navarro-Valls mentioned the possibility that the Pope might make a
stopover in the city of Kazan -- capital of the autonomous Russian Republic of
Tatarstan, 500 miles east of Moscow -- on his way to Mongolia, the final
destination of his trip, which might take place this summer.
"A dialogue is underway to
see if it is possible to make this trip," Cardinal Angelo Sodano said today
in an interview with the Italian newspaper Avvenire.
"The image of the Virgin of
Kazan is impressive. I often see it when I go to the Holy Father's office: it
is, precisely, in front of the desk of the Pope, who venerates it with
particular devotion," he added.
"Mary is Mother of the whole
Church and, therefore, also of Russia. It is beautiful to think that she will be
the one who will make possible the Pope's meeting with the Russian land. As I
was saying, the dialogue is still underway. We'll see."
The icon, to which Orthodox
faithful attribute miraculous powers, left Russia in unknown circumstances
during communist times. It was purchased from an English nobleman by 'The Blue
Army,' a group connected to Fatima, and was then donated to the Pontiff so he
might return it.
Kazan Icon’s Return Doesn’t Justify Papal Visit, Moscow Patriarchate Says
MOSCOW, MAY 20, 2003 (ZENIT.org)
The Patriarchate of Moscow said that the return of the icon of Our Lady of Kazan
is not a reason for a visit by John Paul II, and criticized the creation of two
new dioceses in Kazakhstan.
A statement published on Monday
by the communications service of the Department for External Church Relations of
the Moscow Patriarchate, says: "The attempts to link the returning of this
icon with the question of a visit of the Pope of Rome to Russia are astonishing,
the more so that the Vatican has not negotiated such a visit with the Russian
Vatican spokesman Joaquín
Navarro-Valls confirmed on May 4 in Madrid, that the Vatican was studying the
possibility of a papal stopover in Kazan, in the Russian Federation, during John
Paul II's trip to Mongolia at the end of August. On that occasion, the Pope
would like to return to Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow the icon given to him for
this purpose by a Catholic institution. The patriarchate states that "on
the basis of the analysis undertaken on April 1, 2003, in Rome by a group of
authoritative scientists delegated by the Russian Federation Ministry of Culture
and the Vatican, it has become known that the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan kept in
the apartments of the Pope of Rome is an 18th century copy made by a provincial
icon-painter on the pattern characteristic of the late 17th-early 18th
century." "In its size and character, this icon cannot be identified
with either the historical miracle-working icon that appeared in 1579 in Kazan
or other known and venerated icons."
"The statement that this
icon is 'authentic' is justified only in the sense that it is not a modern
forgery and fully corresponds to the time to which it has been dated by
specialists." The patriarchate
repeats that the "possibility for a meeting between His Holiness Patriarch
Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia and the Pope of Rome" depends entirely on
surmounting "the problems standing between the two Churches, such as the
Catholic proselytism among people who belong to Orthodoxy by baptism and
cultural tradition and the strained circumstances in which the faithful of the
canonical Orthodox Church live in western Ukraine."
"The recent establishment of new Catholic dioceses in Kazakhstan
shows that the Vatican's policy is aimed at aggravating the existing
problems," the statement concludes.
In an interview on May 18, with
the Italian newspaper "Avvenire," Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican
secretary of state, explained that the two new dioceses in the former Soviet
Republic were created to respond to the rebirth of the Catholic communities
that, like the Orthodox, were severely persecuted during decades of communism.
At the same time, the Italian cardinal revealed
that before publishing this decision, out of a sense of delicacy, the
Patriarchate of Moscow was informed.
Videoconference to Focus on Mary in Evangelization
VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2003 (Zenit.org)
A theological videoconference this Wednesday will focus on "The Presence of
the Mother of God in the Evangelization of Peoples."
Following an introduction at noon (Rome time) by Cardinal Darío Castrillón
Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, which has organized the event,
theologians from around the world will offer "reflections on the past and
future prospects" linked to the topic.
Professor Igor Kowalewskzy of Moscow will address "The Influence of the
Mother of God in the Evangelization of the Russian Peoples."
Professor Silvio Cajiao of Bogota, Colombia, will speak on "The Virgin
of Guadalupe, Patroness of America, and Her Influence in the Conversion of
The conference can be followed live or recorded at
Texts of the talks will be available there later.
Mary: Mother of Interreligious Dialogue?
Archbishop Gioia Calls the Blessed Virgin a "Living Catechism"
ROME, MAY 27, 2003 (Zenit.org)
Because of her special place in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, Mary is
regarded as a meeting point in interreligious dialogue. So says Archbishop
Francesco Gioia, president of the Holy See's institution for pilgrimages to the
See of Peter, in his book "Mary, Mother of the Word, Model of Dialogue
Between Religions," published by Città Nuova. "While for Christians
Mary is the Mother of God and Mother of the Church, for the Jews she is 'the
exalted daughter of Zion,'" the prefect of the Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Sacraments, Cardinal Francis Arinze, says in the book's
"For the Muslims, Mary is the Mother of Jesus," the cardinal
continues. "The Koran mentions her 34 times. Moreover, she is a 'sign for
creatures' (Sura 21, 91), and is presented as a model believer."
"Although Jews and Muslims do not accept the central truth of the divinity
of Jesus Christ, they honor Mary greatly," Cardinal Arinze says.
In "many other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, even though
there is no explicit reference to Mary, analogies can be found between the
Mother of Jesus and relevant persons in the ambit of their creed," he
notes. "The feminine substratum, present in some way in every religion,
must not be underestimated."
As Archbishop Gioia, former secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants
and Travelers, explains, "There are at least two reasons that motivate
Mary's role in the ecumenical and interreligious dialogue: her de facto presence
in different religions and her figure, as model of faith."
"Mary has a special place in religions stemming from Abraham, as, for
example, Judaism, Islam and some movements of contemporary origin that express
themselves using Christian language," Archbishop Gioia continues.
"Moreover, Mary is the most exalted example of a person of faith and is
in a position to offer valid elements for a fundamental discernment of Christian
identity in religious pluralism," the author says. In this connection, Mary
is seen as a compendium or living and personal synthesis of the Christian
mystery. "She is the icon of the mystery," the archbishop writes,
"a complete image of the concrete realization of the whole mystery of the
covenant ... the micro-history of salvation."
Thus, he adds, in interreligious dialogue "Mary can serve the function
of a 'living catechism,' which exhibits intuitively the self-understanding of
the Church, even more, of man on the way to salvation."
Historian Laments the New Anti-Catholicism in U.S.
Philip Jenkins, an Episcopalian, Faults the Intellectuals and Liberals
ROME, MAY 27, 2003 (Zenit.org)
The United States doesn't display anti-clericalism but rather anti-Catholicism,
says a scholar.
Philip Jenkins, professor of history and religion at Pennsylvania State
University, in his book "The New Anti-Catholicism," argues that
attacks against Catholics are allowed in ways that would not be tolerated
against Muslims and Jews.
In an interview today with the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera,
Jenkins, an Episcopalian, said that anti-Catholicism has always been present in
the United States "from the first Protestant immigrants to the Populist
movement and the racist Ku Klux Klan."
Today, however, anti-Catholics "are, above all, intellectuals and
liberals," Jenkins said.
"It is even said that anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of the
educated man," he observed. "Demagogues attack Jews; educated men
attack Catholics. It is a paradox, as the Catholic Church in the United States
calls for social reforms, disarmament, peace, in other words, many of their
According to the author, the cause of this anti-Catholicism lies in "the
centrality of sexual problems in U.S. society: Catholicism is considered
anti-gay, anti-feminist, etc. … The accusations strike home in the
Jenkins said that the issue of priests' abuses has been used to deepen
"Sexual abuses in the Catholic Church are no more frequent than in the
other churches or among schoolteachers," he said.
"Moreover, in very few cases is it about pedophilia, as the victims have
reached or are beyond puberty," he continued. "The abuses are
horrendous; they are crimes that must be punished and eradicated, but they must
not be manipulated."
In regard to U.S. anti-Catholicism, Jenkins believes that its particular
version is anti-papal. "I recall that years ago a Muslim plot was
discovered against [the Pope] and the liberals rejoiced," he said. "It
is not John Paul II's person but the institution -- his successor will have to
face the same hostility."
Jenkins added: "It is difficult for anti-Catholicism to disappear, as it
is difficult for anti-Semitism to disappear. The difference is that the
anti-Semite is denounced in the United States and obliged to keep quiet.
"I'm afraid that anti-Catholicism is so rooted that it represents the
opposite of what the United States wants to be at a given moment. The United
States often changes its mind: If it regards itself as progressive, it presents
Catholicism as conservative, and vice versa."
Yet, Jenkins thinks that Catholicism will grow more in the United States than
In the Old World, he explained, "immigration will be above all Muslim;
in the United States, it will be especially Latin American and Asian. The
appearance of U.S. Catholicism will change; it will be more ethnic. And one of
the greatest changes will affect the Virgin: Now, in America, her figure
is secondary; but it will become central."