Hoofin’ it to the Vatican: barnyard critters get special blessing

A donkey waits for a special blessing in front of St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot, patron saint of animals. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz).

VATICAN CITY — Luckily, on this cold and rainy winter day, many of today’s special guests at the Vatican came with their own thick fur coat, except the three little pigs, who just hunkered down and snuggled up tight.

The critters, large and small, have been coming every year the past six years for the feast of St. Anthony the Abbot, patron saint of animals. The initiative, called “The farm under heaven,” is sponsored by an Italian association of farmers and ranchers.

This year the temporary tent-stalls housed cows, an ox, a mule, a donkey, a handful of horses and several goats and sheep. A bunny, geese and other fowl were scratching for fallen kibbles in the mounds of soft sawdust in their cages.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, celebrated Mass in the basilica for the association’s members and then later blessed the livestock outside the square. Image

Roman residents were invited to bring their pets for the blessing and get a free check-up from local veterinarians.

If you’d like to see more pictures from today’s blessing and equestrian parade up the main boulevard to the Vatican, please click here.

Kazakh bishop: Western errors creeping eastward

By Robert Duncan
Catholic News Service

“According to my experience in the Western world,” wrote Bishop Athanasius Scheinder of Astana, Kazakhstan, in an e-mail exchange with Catholic News Service, “I (recognize) among Catholics from non-traditional or liberal parishes mainly the following doctrinal deviations or confusions”:

- The belief in a pre-conciliar church as opposed to a post-conciliar church.

- The belief that women can be ordained to the priesthood.

- The belief that Mass is primarily a “fraternal banquet” rather than a “sacrifice.”

Bishop Schneider also cited doubts about Mary’s perpetual virginity and an overemphasis on social activism, to the detriment of prayer and adoration of God as examples of misreadings of the Second Vatican Council.

“In Kazakhstan our faithful still are not contaminated with the mentioned errors,” Bishop Schneider wrote. However, in the case of some countries of Eastern Europe that have been integrated into the European Union, “some of the errors” have started slowly “spreading, especially among the clergy. Generally the Eastern people have in their mentality a natural and deep sense of reverence towards the sacred and readiness to obey religious authority,” Bishop Schneider wrote.

But some traditional parishes are not without problems of their own. Among the “deviations” to be found in these parishes, wrote the bishop, are:

- “A pathological piety.”

- “Exaggerated credulity towards alleged apparitions.”

- A tendency to isolate tradition from the teaching authority of the church.

Bishop Schneider wrote that “an arbitrary and ideological interpretation of Vatican II” had created the confusion, along with theologians and the media who took the documents “hostage.”

“I always accepted the texts of Vatican II as a son of the church, as texts of my mother,” the bishop wrote. Nevertheless, the bishop wrote he hopes that “some expressions” of the council’s documents ” will “be made more clear and unequivocal.”

To read about Bishop Schneider’s views on the Vatican II declaration on religious liberty, click here: http://cnsblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/bishop-athanasius-schneider-on-religious-liberty/

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